Category Archives: HUMAN RIGHTS

International Criminal Court Offers Hope to Afghanistan’s Victims


An article by Patricia Gossman from Human Rights Watch (reprinted according to Creative Commons License)

Afghans who are skeptical about whether the US-Taliban agreement  and planned intra-Afghan peace talks  can deliver a better future, now have reason to believe that justice might not be squandered in the process. Today, judges on the International Criminal Court  (ICC) authorized the court’s prosecutor to investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan since May 1, 2003. 

Afghan family leaves site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 22, 2016.  © 2016 Reuters

It was a rocky road to get here. In November 2017, after a more than 10-year analysis of the Afghanistan situation, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court to approve an investigation  into alleged crimes, including targeted attacks on civilians by the Taliban and other insurgents; torture, rape, and enforced disappearances by Afghan police and security forces; and torture by the United States military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 

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Question related to this article:

Can the International Criminal Court provide justice?

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Despite acknowledging the court’s jurisdiction over the crimes and that Afghanistan was making no effort to seek accountability, an ICC pre-trial chamber rejected the investigation  as not being in the “interests of justice.” In the ruling, the judges noted that “changes within the relevant political landscape” – likely referring to the US-Taliban talks as well as the Trump administration’s public attacks  on the ICC – would make an investigation too difficult. 

But in today’s decision, the appeals chamber overruled the lower court’s interpretation of the court’s founding treaty – which had been widely criticized, including by Human Rights Watch  – and allowed the investigation to go ahead. 

Coming amidst genuine movement toward peace talks, the ruling is an important reminder of the costs of impunity. The Bonn Agreement, signed in December 2001 after the defeat of the Taliban government, failed to provide justice for rights violations by all sides and fueled further atrocities by allowing serious human rights abusers to maintain official and unofficial positions of power. 

Today’s decision reaffirms the ICC’s role as an institution that might change these dynamics by challenging entrenched impunity. It has offered Afghans who have long sought justice hope that they may one day see it realized.  

Amnesty International: New generation of young activists lead fight against worsening repression in Asia


An article from Amnesty International

A wave of youth-led protests across Asia is defying escalating repression and a continent-wide crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said today as it published its annual report on human rights in the region.

‘Human Rights in Asia-Pacific: A review of 2019’, which includes a detailed analysis of human rights developments in 25 countries and territories, describes how a new generation of activists are fighting back against brutal crackdowns on dissent, poisonous social media operations and widespread political censorship.

“2019 was a year of repression in Asia, but also of resistance. As governments across the continent attempt to uproot fundamental freedoms, people are fighting back – and young people are at the forefront of the struggle,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific.

“From students in Hong Kong leading a mass movement against growing Chinese encroachment, to students in India protesting against anti-Muslim policies; from Thailand’s young voters flocking to a new opposition party to Taiwan’s pro LGBTI-equality demonstrators. Online and offline, youth-led popular protests are challenging the established order.” 

Hong Kong’s defiance echoes across the world

China and India, Asia’s two largest powers, set the tone for repression across the region with their overt rejection of human rights. Beijing’s backing of an Extradition Bill for Hong Kong, giving the local government the power to extradite suspects to the mainland, ignited mass protests in the territory on an unprecedented scale.

Since June, Hong Kongers have regularly taken to the streets to demand accountability in the face of abusive policing tactics that have included the wanton use of tear gas, arbitrary arrests, physical assaults and abuses in detention. This struggle against the established order has been repeated all over the continent.

In India, millions decried a new law that discriminates against Muslims in a swell of peaceful demonstrations. In Indonesia, people rallied against parliament’s enactment of several laws that threatened public freedoms. In Afghanistan, marchers risked their safety to demand an end to the country’s long-running conflict. In Pakistan, the non-violent Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement defied state repression to mobilize against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.

Dissent met with crackdown

Peaceful protests and dissent were frequently met with retribution by the authorities.

Protesters faced arrest and jail in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand as repressive governments across South-East Asia took severe steps to silence their opponents and muzzle the media.

In Indonesia, several people were killed as police clamped down on protests with excessive force. Yet few steps were taken to hold anyone to account for the deaths; no police were arrested nor were any suspects identified. 

In Pakistan and Bangladesh, activists and journalists alike were targeted by draconian laws that restrict freedom of expression and punish dissent online.

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(Click here for a Spanish version of this article or here for a French version.)

Question(s) related to this article:

What is the state of human rights in the world today?

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And in Hong Kong, police deployed reckless and indiscriminate tactics to quell peaceful protests, including torture in detention. Demands for a proper investigation into the conduct of the security forces have yet to be met.

“The authorities’ attempts to crush any form of criticism and suppress freedom of expression were as ruthless as they were predictable, with those daring to speak out against repressive governments often paying a high price,” said Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director.

“Asians are told their aspirations for fairer societies are fantasies; that economic disparities can’t be addressed; that global warming is inexorable and natural catastrophes unavoidable. Most emphatically of all, they are told that challenging this narrative will not be tolerated,” said Biraj Patnaik.

Minorities feel the weight of intolerant nationalism

In India and China, the mere risk of insubordination in nominally autonomous areas has been enough to trigger the full force of the state, with minorities conveniently deemed a threat to “national security.”

In the Chinese province of Xinjiang, up to a million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities have been forcibly detained in “de-radicalization” camps. 
Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, saw its special autonomous status revoked as authorities imposed a curfew, cut access to all communications and detained political leaders.

In Sri Lanka, where anti-Muslim violence erupted in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings, the election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dimmed hopes of human rights progress. Another self-styled strongman, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, continued his murderous “war on drugs.”

Governments have tried to justify repression by demonizing their critics as pawns of “foreign forces” and to bolster that repression through sophisticated social media operations. Neither ASEAN nor SAARC, the two main regional bodies, tried to hold their members to account, even in the case of gross human rights violations.

It has been left to the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes against humanity committed by the Myanmar military in Rakhine State against the Rohingya in 2017. The court is also looking into the thousands of killings carried out by police in the Philippines, and hearing an appeal on its decision not to authorize an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Australia’s egregious offshore detention policies left refugees and asylum-seekers languishing in deteriorating physical and mental condition on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, Papua New Guinea.

Progress against the odds

People speaking out against these atrocities were routinely punished, but their standing up made a difference. There were many examples where efforts to achieve human rights progress in Asia paid off.

In Taiwan, same-sex marriage became legal following tireless campaigning by activists. In Sri Lanka, lawyers and activists successfully campaigned against the resumption of executions.

Brunei was forced to backtrack on enforcing laws to make adultery and sex between men punishable by stoning, while former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak took the stand on corruption charges for the first time.  

The Pakistani government pledged to tackle climate change and air pollution, and two women were appointed as judges on the Maldivian Supreme Court for the first time.

And in Hong Kong, the power of protest forced the government to withdraw the Extradition Bill. Yet, with no accountability for months of abuses against demonstrators, the fight goes on.

“Protesters across Asia in 2019 were bloodied, but not broken. They were stifled, but not silenced. And together, they sent a message of defiance to the governments who continue to violate human rights in pursuit of tightening their grip on power,” said Nicholas Bequelin.

Iran: Children from 41 countries participated in the Global Campaign for the Prevention of Child Marriage


Sent to CPNN by Mr. Daniel Petrosiyan

Child Marriage is fundamental violation of human rights, which depriving children from their right to education, health and safety. The U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, estimates more than 650 million women alive today had been married off when they were before the age of 18. The statistical analysis show that If child marriage had continued, more than 150 million girls will marry by 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have set a target To eliminate child, early or forced marriage by 2030.

According to SDG 5.3 which has targeted the end child of marriage by 2030, Shahin Gavanji and Jahangir Gavanji launched a new international program in 2019 which is called “Painting your dreams for your future”, and invite all children in world to stand against child marriage. In this program they asked all children in the world to paint their dreams for their future.

In the campaign all children in the world were invited to Join the program in taking action to advance gender equality and end child marriage, and children announced that they are artists of their life, and let them to paint their dreams for their future.

Question related to this article:

How can this program help societies to end child marriage?

The campaign received 1869 painting from 41 countries in the world (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mauritius, Azerbaijan, Portugal, Turkey, Thailand, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Egypt, Lebanon, Canada, Romania, Sri Lanka, Somalia, The United States, Iraq, Philippines, The United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Sweden, Malaysia, Italy, Zimbabwe, Croatia, Finland, India, Indonesia, Bahrain, Uganda, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kenya), and children send a united message that Child marriages should be banned and together we can make world free of child marriage.

The goals of this campaign:

Raising awareness on child marriage and declares the negative impacts on overall development, prosperity, and stability.

Send a message that education is a powerful strategy in keeping girls from child marriage, since educated youth paves the way for a better future for the country and every child has the right to dream for his or hers future and it’s a duty of parents to help and encourage them.

Calling the attention of governments to reinforce their commitment to end child marriage by 2030.

(Editor’s note: the World Academy of Medical Sciences informs us that “In this program, more than 31000 brochure were delivered to people in 31 cities in Iran and helped Iranian people getting them informed in full knowledge of the harmful effects of child marriage on physical and mental health. The campaign encourages people to read the brochure thoroughly and share it with families and friends.”)

The People of Colombia Are Cracking Up the Walls of War and Authoritarianism


An article by Justin Podar in Citizen Truth (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. )

The protests that started with the national strike called by Colombia’s central union on November 21 to protest pension reforms and the broken promises of the peace accords have persisted for two months and grown into a protest against the whole establishment. And the protests have continued into the new year and show no signs of stopping.

The end of the decade has seemed to bring an unstoppable march of the right wing in Latin America as elsewhere. The 2016 coup in Brazil  that ended with fascist Jair Bolsonaro in power, the  2019 coup in Bolivia, the continuously rolling coup in Venezuela, all showcased the ruthlessness of the U.S. in disposing of left-wing governments in the region.

Right-wing victories at the ballot box occurred in Chile in 2017 and in Colombia in 2018, where the electorate rejected the left-wing Gustavo Petro and embraced Iván Duque, a protege of the infamous former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez. But with the new wave of protests, the unstoppable right-wing juggernaut is facing many challenges.

In Chile, three months of protests, still going on, are demanding the resignation of President Sebastián Piñera and the reversal of a range of neoliberal policies. Even in the face of the police and army using live fire against protesters, they have not let up.

Ecuador is another peculiar case, in which Lenín Moreno ran as a candidate who would continue left-wing policies, but who promptly reversed course upon reaching power in 2017, including revoking the asylum of Julian Assange, who is now in a UK prison. Reopening drilling in the Amazon, opening a new U.S. airbase in the Galapagos, getting rid of taxes on the wealthy, and doing a new package of International Monetary Fund austerity measures was enough to spark a sustained protest. Moreno’s government was forced to negotiate with the protesters and has withdrawn some of the austerity measures.

In Haiti, protests have gone on for over a year. Sparked in July 2018 by a sharp increase in fuel prices (the same spark as for the Ecuador protests), they have expanded to call for the president’s resignation. In Haiti, as the protests have dragged on, some of the country’s elite families have joined the call for the president’s resignation, which will make it even more difficult to find a constitutional exit from the crisis.

In Colombia, after winning the runoff in 2018, President Duque may have felt that he had a mandate to enact right-wing policies, which in Colombia have usually included new war measures in addition to the usual austerity. But combining pension cuts with betraying the peace process was simply stealing too much from the future: Young people joined the November 21 protests in huge numbers (the lowest estimates are 250,000).

The sustained nature of the protests is striking. Rather than one-offs, the protests have been committed to staying on until change is won. We may hear more this year from post-coup Brazil and Bolivia as well.

At the heart of Colombia’s protest is the issue of war and peace. To say Colombians are war-weary is an understatement. The war there  that began (depending on how you date it) in 1948 or 1964 has provided the pretext for an unending assault  on people’s rights and dignities by the state. Afro-Colombians were displaced from their lands under cover of the war. Indigenous people were dispossessed. Unions were smeared as guerrilla fronts and their leaders assassinated. Peasants and their lands were fumigated with chemical warfare. Narcotraffickers set themselves up inside the military and intelligence organizations, creating the continent’s most extensive paramilitary apparatus. Politicians signed pacts with these paramilitary death squads. The war gave the establishment an excuse for the most depraved acts, notably the “false positives” in which the military murdered completely innocent people and dressed their corpses up as guerrillas to inflate their kill statistics.
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Questions related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?

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Even though the guerrillas, with their kidnapping and too-frequent accidental killings of innocents, were never popular with the majority, Colombians have backed peace processes when given the chance. And Colombians didn’t look kindly at the major betrayals of peace processes in the past, like the one in the 1980s, when ex-guerrillas entering politics were assassinated by the thousand. From 2016, when the new peace accords were affirmed, until mid-2019, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) tallied  138 of their ex-guerrillas murdered; more than 700 other activists were killed in the same period, including more than 100 Indigenous people since Duque came to power in 2018.

At the end of August, a group of FARC members led by their former chief negotiator, Iván Márquez, announced that they were returning to the jungle and to the fight. They argued that the assassination of their members and the refusal of the government to comply with the other aspects of the accords demonstrated that there was no will for peace on the side of the government. Those FARCs who announced they were giving up on the accords were treated as having gone rogue: The government labeled them as criminal groups. Aerial bombardment (a war measure not normally the first recourse in dealing with “criminals”) quickly followed. When a bombing (also in August) by the Colombian air force of one of these rogue groups in Caquetá killed eight children and Duque labeled it “strategic, meticulous, impeccable, and rigorous,” he was greeted with much-deserved public revulsion. Duque was shaping up to deliver the same kind of war as always, only now under the flag of peace, its victims labeled criminals instead of guerrillas.

Eternal war does benefit some: those in the arms and security business especially, and those who want to commit crimes under the cover of war. But despite the many benefits of eternal war for the elite, normalcy also exerts a powerful draw. When Duque’s mentor Álvaro Uribe Vélez was elected president in 2002 and 2006, it was with the promise of normalcy—of peace—through decisive victory over the guerrillas. Instead, he delivered narco-paramilitarism, false positives, and, very nearly, regional wars with Ecuador and Venezuela.

One of Uribe’s early acts was to negotiate a peace agreement with the paramilitaries. Since the paramilitaries were state-backed, organized, and armed, this was a farcical negotiation of the government with itself. But when some of the paramilitary commanders began to speak publicly about their relationships with the state and multinational corporations, they found themselves deported to the U.S. At the time, the scandal was given a name—“para-política.” But to some of the investigators, it was better-termed “para-Uribismo.” Paramilitary commander Salvatore Mancuso—who had the temerity to talk about the Chiquita banana corporation  and who is apparently going to return to Colombia  sometime soon—is just the best-known name. Many others have found that being a paramilitary leads to a considerably shortened lifespan. Uribe, mayor of Medellín and governor of Antioquia during the heyday of the cartels, is named in numerous official documents as being close to both the narcotraffickers and the paramilitaries. The evidence keeps coming, as courts, now trying Uribe’s brother, keep getting closer to the man himself.

After the first round of “Uribismo,” it was time to try a peace process. The betrayal of that process, initiated in 2012, and the new president Duque’s promise of yet another decade of “Uribismo,” has been a motivating force of the recent protests.

Uribismo entangles endless war with austerity and inequality. In a recent Gallup poll, 52 percent of Colombians surveyed said the gap between rich and poor had increased in the past five years; 45 percent struggled to afford food in the previous 12 months; and 43 percent lacked money for shelter. The social forces that typically fight for social progress and equality—unions and left-wing political parties—have traditionally been demonized as proto-guerrillas. With the government declaring the war over—and with great fanfare—people want the freedom to make economic demands without being treated as civil war belligerents.

But when faced with the November 21 protests, the government went straight to the dirty war toolkit, murdering 18-year-old protester Dilan Cruz on November 25, imposing curfew, detaining more than 1,000 people, and creating “montajes,” the time-tested use of agents provocateurs to commit unpopular and illegal acts to provide a pretext for state repression. Government officials have also tried to claim that Venezuela and Russia (of course) were behind the protests.

Part of the dirty war toolkit is to negotiate, and the government has been doing so  with the National Strike Committee. No doubt hoping that the protests will exhaust themselves and any agreements can be quietly dropped as numbers dwindle, the government is dangling the possibility of dropping some austerity demands. Meanwhile, the negotiators are being threatened by paramilitary groups, and another mass grave of those murdered as military “false positives” has been unearthed. Uribismo has wormed its way into every structure of the state: Real change will have to be deep. By not giving up easily, the protesters have shown the way. These protests could be a crack in the walls of fascism that seem to have sprung up everywhere in the past decade.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

(Thank you to Alicia Cabezudo for sending this article to CPNN.)

Iran: Educational program for parents was held by the First National Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse in IRAN


Sent to CPNN by Mr. Daniel Petrosiyan

Child abuse is one of the most ignored issues in IRAN. The First National Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse in IRAN (FNCPCA) has held street classes by Shahin Gavanji and Jahangir Gavanji for more than 15000 parents in 31 cities of Iran. In this plan they made small changes in teaching and the parents got familiar with many forms of child abuse and important points to prevent abuse and ways to help their child.

Some parents don’t have free time to attend in classes or conference about this delicate issues so,the purpose of this campaign was to use the time of parents in street and educate them between 5 to 10 minutes with the important ways to protect children and ask them to get involved with other parents in their communities.

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Question related to this article:

Rights of the child, How can they be promoted and protected?

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In these classes the important points to prevent child abuse were put in an A4 brochure and presented to parents in the main parks and square of each province. The content of brochures include the:

* Different types of child abuse

* Identifying signs of child abuse

* How to support children including psychological and emotional support

* What we should do when we are the witness of child abuse

We tried to explain all information in the short time and asked them to read the brochure,

The goals of this campaign:

* Face to face meetings with parents and creating supportive environments to empower parents and help them to access with the necessary information to raise and protect their children in a safe place.

* Calling attention to child abuse

* Helping communities to reduce child abuse

* Using the times of parents availability for them to learn important points about prevention of child abuse

Bangladesh: Rohingya children get access to education


An article from Amnesty International

The Bangladesh government has announced it will offer schooling and skills training opportunities to Rohingya refugee children, two and a half years after they were forced to flee crimes against humanity in Myanmar.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have been campaigning for the nearly half a million Rohingya children in Bangladesh’s refugee camps to be allowed to enjoy their right to quality education, warning of the costs of a ‘lost generation’.

“This is an important and very positive commitment by the Bangladeshi government, allowing children to access schooling and chase their dreams for the future. They have lost two academic years already and cannot afford to lose any more time outside a classroom,” said Saad Hammadi, South Asia Campaigner at Amnesty International.

“It is important that access to appropriate, accredited and quality education be extended to all children in the Cox’s Bazar area, including Rohingya refugees and the host community. The international community has a key role to play here in ensuring the Bangladesh government has the resources it needs to realize this goal.”

Up to now, the Bangladesh government had resisted calls to grant Rohingya refugee children access to education, limiting learning opportunities to a few provisional learning centres that offer playtime and early primary school lessons scattered across the refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar district. A few children who managed to gain access to local secondary schools were expelled on the government’s instructions.

Amid fears of either being forcibly returned to Myanmar or relocated offshore to the uninhabited silt isle of Bashan Char, these children have faced an uncertain future. Many were on the verge of completing their schooling when the Myanmar military attacked their villages, forcing them to flee to Bangladesh and throwing their lives into limbo.

Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary, Masud bin Momen, told journalists today: “The government has felt the need to keep Rohingya childrens’ hope for the future alive with extending education and skills training to them.”

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Question related to this article:

Rights of the child, How can they be promoted and protected?

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Under the government’s plans, Rohingya refugee children will get school education up to the age of 14, through the provision of the Myanmar curriculum, and children older than 14 will get skills training. The schools will need adequately trained teachers who can use the Myanmar curriculum and teach in Burmese.

A pilot project led by UNICEF and the Bangladesh government will start off with the involvement of 10,000 children. The scheme will then be extended to other children, including those from the host community, who will be taught separately according to Bangladesh’s national curriculum.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, a binding treaty which Bangladesh has ratified, makes clear that education can and should ensure the development of the child’s personality, talents, mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential while enhancing respect for human rights and preparing them for a responsible life in a free society.

“The benefits of educating children cannot be underestimated, with the positive effects rippling through their communities and broader society. They can speak up for themselves, claim their rights, and lift themselves and others out of a difficult situation. But the costs of denying children education can be severe, including leaving them vulnerable to poverty and exploitation. We welcome this significant breakthrough and look forward to the government delivering on its commitments,” said Saad Hammadi.

Amnesty International’s campaign for the right to education

On World Refugee Day last year, Amnesty International held an ‘art camp’ for children in the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar. Working with a group of Bangladeshi artists, they spent two days drawing sketches depicting their aspirations for the future – some of whom wanted to become teachers, doctors, pilots and nurses. In collaboration with UNICEF, the works of art were exhibited in Dhaka and later made their way to Washington DC, London and other major world cities.

In August 2019, Amnesty International published a briefing, “I don’t know what my future will be”: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, detailing conditions in the camps, particularly for children who had not seen the inside of a class room since arriving in the camps in 2017.

Amnesty International also launched a global petition, calling on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to ensure children in the refugee camps and the host community are provided quality education. 

Two of Bangladesh’s best-known YouTube stars developed a hip-hop music video in collaboration with Amnesty International, echoing the petition’s call.

Tens of thousands march in southern India to protest citizenship law


An article by Vinod Babu and Manoj Kumar from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Over one hundred thousand protesters, many carrying the Indian tricolour flag, took part in a peaceful march in the southern city of Hyderabad on Saturday [January 4], chanting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new citizenship law.

Demonstrators hold placards and flags as they attend a protest rally against a new citizenship law, in Hyderabad, India, January 4, 2020. REUTERS/Vinod Babu

The protest, dubbed the ‘Million March’, was organized by an umbrella group of Muslim and civil society organizations. More than 40 percent of Hyderabad’s estimated population of nearly 7 million are Muslims.

Demonstrators were still pouring into the protest site late on Saturday afternoon, according to a Reuters witness, despite police saying no march would be allowed and that permission had only been granted for a 1,000-person gathering.

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Questions related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?

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The Indian government has faced weeks of acrimonious and, at times, violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed by Modi’s government in December.

The Hyderabad protesters held placards with slogans including “Withdraw CAA immediately,” and “India’s only religion in Secularism.”

The Reuters witness said the protest remained peaceful, and estimated that more than one hundred thousand people were in attendance.

The new law eases the path for non-Muslim minorities from the neighboring Muslim-majority nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to gain Indian citizenship. But, if combined with a proposed national register of citizens, critics of the CAA fear it will discriminate against minority Muslims in India and chip away at India’s secular constitution.

Modi’s government maintains the new law is necessary to help minorities facing persecution in Muslim-majority nations, and it has called the pan-India protests politically motivated.

At least 25 people have been killed in protest-related clashes with police since early December.

Elsewhere, protests against the CAA also went ahead in several other Indian cities on Saturday with hundreds turning out for protests in cities in the southern state of Karnataka.

Hundreds of men and women gathered at a rally in the tech hub of Bengaluru, with some accusing Modi’s government of trying to divide India along communal lines, to distract from a sharp domestic economic slowdown and job losses.

Zimbabwe: MDC Leadership Engages National Peace And Reconciliation Commission


An article from Pindula News

The MDC leadership today met with Commissioners of the , an independent Constitutional Commission, at the party headquarters at Morgan Richard Tsvangirai headquarters in a frank and honest debate regarding the work and mandate of the Commission.

[Note: The Movement for Democratic Change is the main opposition political party in Zimbabwe.]

President Nelson Chamisa welcomed the Commissioners to the party headquarters and said the party appreciated the heavy workload of the Commission.

In his welcome remarks, he said that he hoped for an open, frank and honest discussion between the party leadership and the NPRC in a manner that would further the interests of the people of Zimbabwe and entrench a culture of peace and tolerance in the country.

President Chamisa sought leave of the Commissioners to attend the funeral of one his drivers in Mbare. He left Vice President Hon. Tendai Biti to chair the MDC leadership’s two-and-half-hour fruitful and candid engagement with the leadership of the NPRC.

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Question related to this article:

Truth Commissions, Do they improve human rights?

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The MDC leaders raised issues to do with the independence and autonomy of the Commission, the continued culture of impunity in the country in spite of the existence of the Commission as well as the disturbing fact that the NPRC had not referred anyone for prosecution, even in cases where the culprits of violence and conflict had been identified.

The party leaders cited Gukurahundi, the electoral violence that has been committed by Zanu PF over the years and the non-prosecution of perpetrators of violence in cases such as the State-sponsored violence of August 01, 2018, in which six people were killed as well as the State-driven violence of January 2019 in which more innocent people were callously murdered.

The NPRC insisted that it was an independent Commission and that it would roll out a national visibility programme in 2020, even though they said they required more resources to execute their Constitutional mandate.

The party leadership and the NPRC agreed to continuously engage to solve conflicts and promote peace and reconciliation in the country.

As a party, the MDC has been a victim of Zanu PF and State-sponsored violence in which thousands of people have been brutally killed, with no action taken against the culprits.

The party leadership insisted in the meeting that peace and reconciliation alone were not enough as justice had to be seen to be done particularly against the perpetrators of violence and genocide against the people.

Luke Tamborinyoka

Deputy National Spokesperson

PAYNCoP Gabon Pleads for Youth Involvement in the National Commission for Human Rights


An article by Jerry Bibang

The National Coordination of the Panafrican Youth Network for Peace Culture (PAYNCoP Gabon) took part, from 26 to 27 November 2019, in a sensitization workshop on National Human Rights Institutions.

Organized by the Ministry of Human Rights and the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) with the support of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the United Nations Regional Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Central Africa, this meeting brought together several experts including those of the United Nations System, the Government, the National Commission for Human Rights as well as those of the Organizations of Civil society.

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(Click here for the original French version.)

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“The goal is to operationalize the CNDH through the sharing of good practices and contributions from each other,” said the Representative of UNOCA at the beginning of the workshop.

During the work, PAYNCoP Gabon advocated for a greater involvement of civil society organizations, especially those representing young people. In this sense, the National Coordinator suggested changing the age criterion which sets the minimum age of 40 to be a commissioner at the CNDH.

“If it is possible to be a deputy or Minister at 35 in Gabon, why set the age of commissioners of the CNDH at 40 ?” questioned Jerry Bibang. “This provision constitutes a factor of exclusion and a violation of the right to participation of young people in the management of public affairs,” he explained. It is opposed to regional and international legal instruments that encourage the participation of young people including the African Youth Charter and resolution 2250 (youth, peace and security) of the United Nations Security Council, he added. before insisting that the youth component should be taken into account in the current reform of the National Commission on Human Rights.

The various proposals of the workshop aim at modifying the text creating and organizing the CNDH of Gabon in order to bring it up to international standards, in particular the principles of Paris. The draft text to be amended will be submitted to the competent authorities.

USA: Exoneration of Scott Warren is a triumph for humanity


An article from Amnesty International

In response to the humanitarian volunteer Dr Scott Warren being found not guilty of the charges against him in a court in Arizona today, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

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Questions related to this article:

The post-election fightback for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

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“Sense has prevailed today with the jury exonerating Dr. Scott Warren for a simple reason: humanitarian aid is never a crime. The Trump administration is wrong to try to prosecute people who are only trying to save lives. By threatening Dr. Warren with a decade in prison, the US government sought to criminalize compassion and weaponize the deadly desert against people who make the perilous journey to the United States in search of safety.”

This was the second trial Dr Warren has faced on charges of “harbouring” two migrants, for providing them with humanitarian assistance in the town of Ajo, Arizona, where he lives. The first trial resulted in a mistrial on 2 July, when eight of 12 jurors sought to acquit him on all charges but could not reach a unanimous decision.

In July, Amnesty International issued a report  documenting the Trump administration’s misuse of the criminal justice system to threaten, intimidate, and punish those defending the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers on the US–Mexico border.