Category Archives: HUMAN RIGHTS

Indigenous trade unionists from around the world call for more inclusion and solidarity: “We are not just there to sing the songs and do the opening prayer”

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article from Equal Times (published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence)

More than 476 million people worldwide (6.2 per cent of humanity) belong to Indigenous peoples, most of whom live alongside the societies that colonised their ancient lands hundreds of years ago. In the 21st century, after a long journey during which they were not always able to survive colonial oppression without losing their identity, language or part of their culture, Indigenous peoples have won significant gains in various regions of the world but they continue to face challenges such as discrimination and limited opportunities, making it very difficult for them to enjoy fair labour market integration. Four out of five Indigenous workers earn a living from informal employment, and the remainder most often work in highly precarious sectors, without any form of social protection, where they are exposed to all kinds of rights abuses.

To mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, established by the United Nations in 1982, and to coincide with the call made by the ITUC for governments around the world to sign up to the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (C169) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) – which, despite being launched in 1989, has only been ratified by 24 countriesEqual Times interviewed three Indigenous trade union leaders from three continents.

 Māori, Sami and Mapuche trade union leaders talk to Equal Times. From left to right: Laures Park (New Zealand), David Acuña (Chile) and Sissel Skoghaug (Norway). (Equal Times/Composition by Fátima Donaire)

David Acuña Millahueique, the president of CUT Chile, the main trade union organisation in his country, speaks to us from the Americas. Acuña, who became the first leader of Mapuche origin to head the union a year ago, is currently involved in the historic process of developing a new constitution for Chile and the CUT is working to ensure that it enshrines freedom of association and decent work as fundamental rights in a country where the current constitution, in force since the military dictatorship (1973-1990), still does not provide for labour rights. Sissel Skoghaug, vice president of Norway’s LO union confederation for the past decade and a representative of the Sami people, the ancient nomadic ethnic group of the Arctic and the only Indigenous people left on the continent, joins us from Europe. And from Oceania, we speak to Laures Park, who holds the position of Matua Takawaenga (Māori for “chief mediator”) with the New Zealand teachers’ union NZEI Te Riu Roa, where she is not only the main focal point for all matters relating to the Indigenous people of the island nation, but is also the acting union leader when the national secretary is absent, which is also seen as a symbolic gain for the Māori.

What is the current situation of the First Nation peoples in your country, in terms of social and labour integration or discrimination?

LAURES PARK (L.P.): In New Zealand there is still discrimination. There are lots of concerns, but there’s lots of integration as well. It depends on socioeconomic and geographical conditions. The Māori, who are about 12 per cent of the national population, tend to fill the lower paid labour-intensive jobs. They tend to be cleaners, rubbish collectors and landscape gardeners – those kinds of jobs. And yes, there are also a lot of Māori that move to the city and get jobs in the public service, but you have to move to get that kind of work. Poverty-wise, that’s probably very high for Indigenous people in New Zealand, and that’s because of poor access to education where they live, as well as lack of employment.

SISSEL SKOGHAUG (S.S.): So much injustice has been done to the Sami people. The authorities almost managed to rob an entire people of their identity and their language. As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently concluded, this also applies to the Kven people and the Forest Finns. [But] especially in Norway and parts of Sweden, the Sami culture has been experiencing a very strong renaissance over the last four decades. Young people, and also quite a few in my generation, are taking back the heritage that was lost two or three generations back.

DAVID ACUÑA MILLAHUEIQUE (D.A.M.): The labour situation of people of Indigenous origin comes from the forced integration of the Indigenous society into the dominant society of the colonisers. Before reaching the situation we have now, there have even been periods of slavery, which initially involved working for a very basic income as day labourers, apprentice carpenters, bricklayers or bakers, for example. Many of those who migrated from rural to urban areas worked in these trades, while the majority of the Indigenous women worked as domestic and care workers. Today, a large percentage of the new generations have achieved access to various levels of formal education, so we have moved on from the worker who formerly did not know how to read or write to the literate workers of today, enabling a minimal level of social mobility in some cases.

What about the acknowledgment and respect for First Nation cultures, languages and rights, and their integration in the work environment?

S.S.: Nowadays, in Norway we have the Sami Parliament (Samediggi), established in 1989. That is the representative body of the Sami people in the country, and it promotes political initiatives and has authority on a number of issues. At the same time, the main Sami language is also an official language in Norway. Much more has been achieved since assimilation and discrimination was the official order of the day.

L.P.: In New Zealand it goes from one extreme to the other. There is a whole sector of the population that doesn’t even know about it or doesn’t care, because Māori don’t have anything to do with their lives. But there is also another part of the population that is learning the language and participating in the customs, and is very much part of all the things that happen in the education system [where there are a number of selected schools where the Māori language is taught to everyone since early childhood].

There is a whole generation of Māori who only speak Māori, and their families only speak Māori when they are out and about, and this can cause a bit of stress with other people, mainly white people. But on the other side, when we’re downtown, other people are delighted to hear Māori being spoken out in the community. So it varies. You get some people that see it as: “Oh, God, you’re trying to hide something from us,” and other people who think that’s just lovely to hear it. And we have a Māori television channel, and the number of non-Māori who watch it is just incredible. So, as I say, [the situation] varies.

D.A.M.: In Chile, the process of Indigenous integration has been strongly marked by social discrimination and also, in many cases, employment and racial discrimination, which have led to irreparable cultural losses, such as the use of our own mother tongue, especially as of the third generation [of Mapuche people who settled in the cities in the mid-twentieth century]. We were migrants in our own land, because we had to go to the more developed cities, and we lost everything from our language to our customs with these migration and integration processes.

The first generations of Indigenous migrants had to adjust to a new way of life, and of course, they had to behave like Chileans, and ended up “half-Chileanised”, often trying to hide or disguise their Mapuche ancestry, and little by little this began to take hold, to the extent that people even avoided using their own language and customs, all in an attempt to adopt the traits of a society that was not our own and steadily adapt to it. It has only been as of the fourth generation, to which I belong, that we began to see a gradual process of self-identification with our origins. Over the last five or six years, there has also been a reclaiming of the Mapuche flag itself, which became visible in 2019 with the social uprising, during which one of the most popular and most visible symbols in the protests was the Mapuche flag. There was almost a commercial boom, the Mapuche flag was suddenly selling so well. That showed that we were recognising an identity that we had lost until then.

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

Question(s) related to this article:
 
The right to form and join trade unions, Is it being respected?

Indigenous peoples, Are they the true guardians of nature?

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Has your country ratified the ILO’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (C169), from 1989? How does that affect the current First Nation peoples’ life in the country? How important is C169 for your people?

S.S.: In 1990, Norway was the first country to ratify the ILO’s Convention 169. I am proud of LO Norway’s role in making ILO 169 happen, and making it happen first in our own country. Alongside the Constitution and the Sami Act, ILO’s Convention 169 is one of the central pillars of the Norwegian Sami policy. ILO 169 is a monument to the collective spirit of cooperation that characterised Norway at the start of the 1990s. This collective spirit also carried the majority population through a rough period of unemployment and financial and political turmoil.

L.P.: In New Zealand the government has not ratified it, and their explanation is that our new laws need to comply with a lot of other previous laws before they ratify it. That doesn’t change things for us. If we want to make a point, we will still use the C169 and it still holds weight. In some ways, [the fact that New Zealand hasn’t ratified C169] probably supports our argument.

D.A.M.: Yes, Chile ratified it in 2008. By doing so, the state of Chile committed to a state policy of recognition for Indigenous peoples and pledged to establish policies of recognition and respect for this section of society. When national policies are developed that may affect the social, cultural, political and environmental conditions in which Indigenous communities live, we always end up with a consultation. That’s as far as we have got for now, but it is an important achievement, because it is a tool that gives Indigenous communities a voice in what directly impacts on them, and that’s something we didn’t have before.

Why did you join a union, what difficulties did you find in your working environment and in the unions themselves, just for being Indigenous?

L.P.: I joined when I was a teacher. Many years ago, we were talking about how to encourage Māori people to become interested in trade unions. That’s when it became a lot more relevant for me. And since then, that’s been the push – to make sure that unions work for Māori.

We have a saying, that was said by a very old tipuna [ancestor]: “There is but one eye of the needle through which all threads must pass: the white, the red, the black.” For our union, that actually is exactly the sentiment that we think people should embrace, because only by joining together and going in the same direction can we make things work. Otherwise, we’re pulling against each other.

D.A.M.: I’ve been working since I was 17; I had to support my family from a very young age and I’ve always been closely linked to work. When I was getting to know the trade union world, one day a union came to look for representatives at the supermarket where I was working, and there were two colleagues who put themselves forward as union reps. Three could be elected, and these guys had no class consciousness, let’s say, they were not very pro-worker, they were more pro-management, they were very close to the company. So, I said, “No, if we want to fight for labour rights, we need to have agreements with the company, but also disagreements and to fight for the rights we believe in.” It was time, a decision, to say: “Either I keep watching everything stay the same, or I make some kind of change,” and I chose to make a change, with all the sacrifices this also entails.

Given the leadership position that you have reached in your organisation, what does that symbolise for you and the continued struggle for Indigenous rights?

D.A.M.: It is a source of pride for me and my family. My first May Day as president was a personal milestone for me. That day, I acknowledged my identity, I said: “I am a retail worker, I am Mapuche and I come from an Indigenous community in Lleulleu, in the Los Ríos region.” More than a trade union leader, I see myself as a worker and, today, I also strongly recognise my historical legacy: that my mother was a migrant from the south of Chile to the capital, and that we lost our language, we lost part of our culture, but we did not lose our attachment to the territory. Recognising this is very important to me, because I feel proud to be representing, in this role, a people as combative as the Mapuche people were and are today in their territorial claim, which is still pending.

S.S: I have in later years discovered that my own family lost most of our Sami and Kven identity, including the language, as a result of the many decades of Norwegianisation policy. But we are taking back our heritage, with my daughter and son leading the way with language studies and much more. In my public appearances, I am very proud to be wearing the gakti (Sami traditional dress), which I recently had made. I feel that this process in itself is a victory over the injustice that was done.

How can the trade unions better help the Indigenous and First Nation peoples reach real integration in the working world?

D.A.M.: With solidarity and respect. Respect for identity, for beliefs, but also solidarity, inclusion within the world of work.

S.S.: We will look into what we in LO Norway can do to help combat racism, like we have done in the workplace. So far, in the working world, LO Norway has been a strong advocate for the legislation against discrimination now in place in Norway. Thanks to that, nowadays employees and job applicants enjoy equal opportunities, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, sex or responsibilities as caretakers. All Norwegian employers are obliged to work actively, in a targeted way and systematically, to promote equality and prevent discrimination in the workplace, according to the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act. This employer activity duty is a preventative work that employers are expected to do before incidents of discrimination occur.

L.P.: Trade unions could change themselves internally and employ more Indigenous people in their organisations. And they shouldn’t be afraid to promote these things amongst the affiliates; at the moment it is seen a little bit as window dressing. But we all belong to this country, so we all should be doing the same thing across the board, not just letting people maybe be inclusive or maybe just say, and this is me being rude: “Go over there and play with your marbles while we get on with the real work over here”. Trade unions need to be more inclusive and more promotional about First Nations, so that we are not just there to sing the songs and do the opening prayer.

How can First Nation peoples contribute, with their particular sensibilities, culture and experiences, to the current global debates about just transition, social justice, labour and human rights and the democratic health of our societies?

D.A.M.: In Chile, the Indigenous peoples come from a culture of struggle that calls for many rights that were taken from them: the right to land is one of their main demands, but there are also the ancestral cultures, especially ancestral medicine, which now forms part of the entry of Mapuche culture into society in a way that was inconceivable before, because there has been, over the last 15 or 20 years, a cultural shift that has allowed the culture of the Indigenous peoples to re-emerge. Today almost every district has a Mapuche ruca, a ceremonial centre for gastronomy, culture and traditional medicine, such that, beyond a flag and a combative tradition, what is also emerging is an ancestral culture that speaks of solidarity, inclusion and participation, respect for elders and for one’s own body.

S.S.: I think we need to go back to that spirit of cooperation that characterised Norway at the start of the 1990s. We live again in a time of crisis and a lot is at risk. The polarisation we see both in the world and in our part of it gives room for forces that do not wish neither minorities, nor majorities or democracies well. Rights that have been won will not automatically be there forever. The fight is never over. We know all about this in the labour movement.

L.P.: When I think about just transition, and particularly climate change as well, I think Indigenous people or First Nations people have a lot to offer. But the powers that be don’t ask. For example, when you think about areas that are now suffering from drought and lack of water and so on, Indigenous people in Australia have lived like that for years. So, how come people don’t talk to them? About how you survive in those situations? And what is it that you bring to the table about those conversations? There are ways of doing things wisely, sustainably, that Indigenous people have always done, that they will continue to do. There’s a whole lot of that knowledge that First Nations hold and probably just use it like the everyday life common sense that it is for them. If anybody bothered to investigate or talk about it, I think First Nations have a lot to offer, but one: do they have a voice? And two: do people listen to what they have to say?

Israel: Democracy in Danger

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An editorial in La Nación, Buenos Aires (translation by Other News )

The Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, approved a law days ago that reduced the power of the Supreme Court of Justice to challenge government decisions, starting a dangerous path of weakening the most fundamental institutions of a country.


Israeli citizens protest against the reform proposed by Prime Minister Ohad Zwigenberg – AP

The ruling coalition is the most far-right in Israel’s 75-year history. Among its ranks are members of ultra-Orthodox parties, more interested in accentuating the Jewish identity of the State of Israel than in preserving its democratic component. In addition, members of the cabinet have been accused of supporting terrorist organizations, as well as being confessed homophobes who have called for violence against Palestinian populations.

Reforms to the judicial system have triggered protests never before seen in Israel. For more than 30 weeks, hundreds of thousands of protesters defy rain, cold or heat, opposing a reform that they simply consider a coup d’état.

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(click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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Western democracies such as France and Germany added their criticism. The US president, Joe Biden, after 50 years of unconditional support for Israel, has personally demanded that Netanyahu stop the initiative and agree with the opposition on a reform that does not alter democracy. The move was also met with disappointment by many Jewish organizations in the United States such as the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.

Within the Israeli government coalition there are voices and initiatives that would reduce the rights of the country’s minorities, mainly Palestinians with Israeli nationality, but also the rights of women and LGBTQ groups, among others.

Many analysts agree that, in line with what happened in Hungary, Poland or Turkey, where the concentration of power makes it almost impossible to remove the president despite holding elections, Israel would thus seek to progressively abandon its democratic character, essential to maintain strong ties with the West and, particularly, with its greatest ally in the world, the United States.

As Raanan Rein, the prestigious Israeli historian and former vice president of Tel Aviv University, explained, many coups are no longer carried out with tanks in the streets, but through the progressive erosion of individual liberties, through the domination of Justice, the media and the educational system.

If we continue on this path, the social fracture could be very detrimental to the country. Military reservists are threatening not to report to duty, the country’s largest doctors’ association has declared a 24-hour strike in protest of the vote and union groups are threatening force.

The sector that opposes the reform is made up mainly of groups of enormous economic weight, such as technology. Moody’s risk rating agency has already warned about the “negative consequences” of the reform. Following the vote, four Israeli daily newspapers published a large black spot on their front pages with the phrase “A black day for Israeli democracy.”

It is imperative that the Israeli government reconsider its progress on Justice, avoid further damage to its international prestige and the cohesion of its population with the aim of maintaining a plural society, a modern economy and a political system aligned with the democracies of the West, according to with the provisions of its declaration of independence.

(Thank you to Other News for sending this article to CPNN.)

American Anthropological Association Endorses Academic Boycott of Israeli ‘Apartheid Regime’

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An article by Brett Wilkins from Common Dreams (reprinted according to license of Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

The American Anthropological Association on Monday became the largest U.S. academic association to endorse a Palestinian call to boycott Israeli universities and other institutions complicit in what the group called Israel’s “apartheid regime.”

In a major victory for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian human rights, more than 7 in 10 of the 37% of American Anthropological Association (AAA) members who participated in the monthlong referendum voted in favor  of a motion  to back the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

With 12,000 members, the AAA is the largest U.S. scholarly group to support BDS’ boycott call. The motion applies only to institutions, not individual anthropologists.

“This was indeed a contentious issue, and our differences may have sparked fierce debate, but we have made a collective decision and it is now our duty to forge ahead, united in our commitment to advancing scholarly knowledge, finding solutions to human and social problems, and serving as a guardian of human rights,” AAA president Ramona Pérez said in a statement.

“AAA’s referendum policies and procedures have been followed closely and without exception, and the outcome will carry the full weight of authorization by AAA’s membership,” Pérez added.

The AAA motion, drafted in March, notes that ever since the Nakba, the 1947-49 dispossession and expulsion of more than 700,000 Arabs by Zionist Jews establishing the modern state of Israel, “Palestinians—including activists, artists, intellectuals, human rights organizations, and others—have documented and circulated knowledge of the Israeli state’s apartheid system and ethnic cleansing.”

“The Israeli state operates an apartheid regime from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, including the internationally recognized state of Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank,” the motion asserts, adding that “Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the Israeli state’s regime of oppression against Palestinians… including by providing research and development of military and surveillance technologies used against Palestinians.”

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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“Israeli academic institutions do not provide protections for academic freedom, campus speech in support of Palestinian human and political rights, nor for the freedom of association of Palestinian students on their campuses,” the document continues. “Israeli academic institutions have failed to support the right to education and academic freedom at Palestinian universities, obstructing Palestinian academic exchanges with academic institutions in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

In a statement, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said, “We thank the many AAA members who worked tirelessly to ensure the association was on record as refusing ties with Israeli universities complicit in Israel’s crimes against us. We thank those who took the time to learn from and listen to indigenous Palestinian voices.”

“The AAA membership vote to boycott complicit Israeli universities is wholly consistent with the association’s stated commitment to anti-racism, equality, human rights, and social justice and furthers the drive to decolonize anthropology and academia in general,” PACBI added.

The motion notes that a United Nations special rapporteur and groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B'Tselem—an Israeli organization—"have confirmed that Israeli authorities are committing apartheid against the Palestinian people, and have documented the institutionalization of systematic racial oppression and discrimination."

Others who have condemned Israeli apartheid include former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and South African cleric and activist Desmond Tutu—both of whom were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize—and multiple cabinet-level former Israeli government officials.

Focusing on its field of expertise, AAA’s motion claims “anthropological frameworks and methods, ethnographic and archaeological, are actively used by the Israeli state to further its system of apartheid and ethnic cleansing,” and that the organization’s 1999 Declaration on Anthropology and Human Rights  states that “anthropology as a profession is committed to the promotion and protection of the right of people and peoples everywhere to the full realization of their humanity.”

Therefore, according to AAA, anthropologists have an “ethical responsibility to protest and oppose” human rights crimes, and “the discipline of anthropology, as the study of humanity, bears a distinct and urgent responsibility to stand against all forms of racism and racist practices.”

AAA also highlights U.S. financial, military, and diplomatic support for Israel, which the group calls “decisive” in “enabling and sustaining” Israeli apartheid, including the 56-year illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the unlawful construction and expansion of Jewish-only settler colonies there, and the “ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip.”

Last year, the Middle East Studies Association, the leading learned organization dedicated to study of the region, voted 768-167  to join the BDS movement, which counts more than 350 academic departments, programs, centers, unions, and societies worldwide among its supporters.

Dismantle Israel’s carceral regime and “open-air” imprisonment of Palestinians: UN expert

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An article from the United Nations Human Rights Commission

Israel’s military occupation has morphed the entire occupied Palestinian territory into an open-air prison, where Palestinians are constantly confined, surveilled and disciplined,” a UN expert said today (July 10).

“Over 56 years, Israel has governed the occupied Palestinian territory through stifling criminalisation of basic rights and mass incarcerations,” said Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, in a new report to the Human Rights Council.


Frame from UN video of the Albanese press conference

“Under Israeli occupation, generations of Palestinians have endured widespread and systematic arbitrary deprivation of liberty, often for the simplest acts of life and the exercise of fundamental human rights,” Albanese said. Without condoning violent acts that Palestinians may have committed during decades of Israel’s illegal occupation, most of their criminal convictions have resulted from a litany of violations of international law, including due process violations, that taint the legitimacy of the administration of justice by the occupying power.

The report finds that since 1967, over 800,000 Palestinians, including children as young as 12, have been arrested and detained under authoritarian rules enacted, enforced and adjudicated by the Israeli military. Palestinians are subject to long detention for expressing opinions, gathering, pronouncing unauthorised political speeches, or even merely attempting to do so, and ultimately deprived of their status of protected civilians. They are often presumed guilty without evidence, arrested without warrants, detained without charge or trial and brutalised in Israeli custody.

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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“Mass incarceration serves the purpose of quelling peaceful opposition against the occupation, protecting the Israeli military and settlers, and ultimately facilitating settler-colonial encroachment,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“Bundling Palestinians as a collective “security threat”, Israel has used draconian military orders to punish the exercise of basic rights. These measures have been used as tools to subjugate an entire population, depriving them of self-determination, enforcing racial domination and advancing territorial acquisition by force,” she said. 

Albanese noted that Israel’s “carceral regime” haunts Palestinian life even outside prisons. Blockades, walls, segregated infrastructure, checkpoints, settlements encircling Palestinian towns and villages, hundreds of bureaucratic permits and a web of digital surveillance, further entrap Palestinians in a carceral continuum across strictly controlled enclaves.

“The widespread and systematic arbitrariness of the occupation’s carceral regime is yet another expression of the apartheid imposed on the Palestinians and strengthens the need to end it immediately,” the UN expert said.

“The mass and arbitrary deprivation of liberty that Palestinians have been collectively subjected to for decades aims to protect Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territory, a project with unlawful aims pursued by unlawful means,” Albanese said. “This macroscopic violation of fundamental principles of international law cannot be remedied by addressing some of its most brutal consequences. For Israel’s carceral regime to end, and its inherent apartheid with it, its illegal occupation of Palestine must end,” she said.

Albanese called on Member States to uphold their obligations not to aid or recognise Israel’s settler-colonial occupation and incremental annexation, and use all diplomatic, political and economic measures under the UN Charter to bring it to an end and make sure its architects are brought to justice.

Francesca Albanese is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

(Editor’s note: Not surprisingly, Albanese is under vicious attacks by Israel and it supporters. This is described in detail in the an article from the Jordan News.

Colombia: The Schools Embrace the Truth

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Special to CPNN from Amada Benevides

On June 9, more than 1,300 educational institutions throughout Colombia commemorated the first anniversary of the delivery of the Final Report of the Truth Commission. In the company of civil society organizations and education secretariats, the schools organized to live a special day with their educational communities, opening a path of dialogue and reflection on the value of truth in coexistence and the history of the Colombian armed conflict.

On June 28, 2022, after more than 3 years of work, the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence, and Non-repetition delivered its Final Report to society. The Truth Commission (CEV), together with the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and the Unit for the Search for Disappeared Persons in the framework of the Armed Conflict (UBPD), are part of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-repetition (SVJR). The SVJR arising from the Agreement between the FARC-EP and the Colombian Government to end the armed conflict that lasted more than 60 years.

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(click here for the article in Spanish.).)

Question related to this article:

Truth Commissions, Do they improve human rights?

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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The Commission’s report is made up of 11 chapters that are designed in multiple formats so that they can be addressed by diverse communities and populations. The Commission’s Final Report is a public good. Its recommendations arise from an in-depth analysis of what happened during years of violence from more than 1,000 reports delivered by civil society, nearly 30,000 people interviewed and heard about what is necessary for non-repetition. Not all the recommendations are addressed to the Government or the State; there are several that fall on the rest of civil society and that is why their dissemination with the formal and non-formal education sectors is so important. Girls, boys, adolescents and young people, as well as the entire educational community, have the right to know the truth about what happened in the context of the armed conflict and the commitment to work on actions so that this does not happen again.

To commemorate the date of the launch of the report, the organizations allied with the Commission invite the educational institutions to develop three special days of deliberation and action. The aim of these journeys are to promote spaces for reflection with the educational community on the most important aspects of the report and how these processes contribute to the construction of peace from the clarification of the truth and the recommendations for the construction of coexistence that the CEV developed in its three years of work.

The allied organizations of the Commission, including Fundación Escuelas de Paz – civil society organizations, universities, Secretaries of Education and the Ministry of National Education – are aware that the contribution to Peace must be a continuous process. We unite in order to propose the development of a commemorative agenda with three milestone dates that motivate reflection on the work that is carried out from the Comprehensive System for Peace and keep the Legacy of the Commission alive.

These sessions will be:

June 9: The School Embraces the Truth.

August 30: The School embraces empathy.

October 2: The school embraces justice and restoration.

Comment by Mazin Qumsiyeh on Palestine: Hope, Present and Future

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A blog in the Popular Resistance Blogspot

The past 30 hours, Israeli occupation and apartheid forces invaded the city of Jenin including the Jenin Refugee camp. They bulldozed streets and electricity and water infrastructure. They prevented ambulances and attacked he press. Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes. A second etic cleansing for them. Our people are refused international protection and as before, Israeli atrocities are done with western and Arab world complicity. The few “statements” issued by some governments to express “concern” are satisfactory to the Israeli oppressors. While the Western powers hypocritically give billions of aid to Ukraine against Russia for occupying part of its territory, the same powers support the occupiers of Palestine. They support apartheid and ethnic cleansing.


Mazin Qumsiyeh and Jessie Chang founded the Palestine Museum of Natural History and the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability. Photo from Dec. 19, 2018.

I would like to make a personal reflection here. I am 66 years old and has spent all my adult life working for the cause of freedom, A vision of sustainable human and natural communities. Hope is indispensable because we cannot afford despair. Empowerment is far more challenging because it implies work on conviction. We find it most challenging to get enough people empowered to effect the change needed. Once empowered people engage and use methods they deem most effective to get the desired results. I discussed hundreds of methods people used here, most of them not armed, in my book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment”. I also engaged myself in dozens of popular resistance methods. For the past 9 years my wife and I have been volunteering full time (and 7 days a week) building up from scratch a “Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability. It is an oasis of hope and of sanity in the middle of mayhem. It is a candle in the darkness. I do not want you to have the illusion that we are 100% sure of our way.

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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Doubts and uncertainty abound especially in difficult times which we face a lot and in times of crisis like this one with Jenin. For example, how certain are we (at a personal level) that our way is the right way when the Israeli regime has been bombarding us for 75 years, has caused 8 million refugees or displaced people? Was John F. Kennedy right to say “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”? Is there a survival of the meanest and the most wicked in this crazy world? Are the majority of Palestinians infected with mental colonization that immobilizes them (I wrote a chapter on this in a book on post-colonialism)? How many people have discipline and a work ethic and a commitment to make this a better world? How many people have “enlightened self interest” rather than narrow and foolish self-interest?  Are my expectations of myself and those around me higher or lower than it should be? Last night as I pondered these and other questions in a sleepless night, I realized that I do not have many answers and what answers I have, they can only apply to me (afterall, we can only change ourselves in reality).

Twenty years ago in my book “Sharing the Land of Canaan”  I articulated what I consider the rational way to stop the onslaught on people and nature in historic Palestine (now under the boot of Israel) I add the quote from Howard Zinn related to hope which I used in that book to remind myself:

“There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment we will continue to see. We forget how often in this century we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people’s thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

A blog I posted in late 2014 about life and how we live

B’Tselem Conquer and divide

Palestine video 1938

Who is the national security advisor Jake Sullivan, the man running US foreign policy?

Palestinians are in Israel’s cross hairs because they are not Jews

The Hindu Nationalists Using The Pro-Israel Playbook

Bill Clinton Lied—And So Did Everyone Else: A Mystery Solved in the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Solidarity with Palestine: Swim with Gaza

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

Mail received at CPNN from Paul O’Brien plus excerpts from the website of Swim with Gaza

Hi,

In your language see here: swimwithgaza.com

It would be lovely if you could join us on this international solidarity swim with children on Gaza beach on August 26th.

On that day hundreds of children who have learned to swim this summer with be streaming into the sea as part of the Gaza Swimming Festival.

Would you, your friends or family like to take to the water the same day in your own area, and send a video to us?

Maybe you could join the video live stream going to and from Gaza on the day.

See more here: swimwithgaza.com and use the form to leave your details.

Please pass this message onto others who might be interested.

It will be fun for all.

Paul O’Brien
Swim With Gaza

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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Excerpts from website of Swim with Gaza

Since 2007 the people of Gaza have been imprisoned. They have no parks, no mountains, no valleys.

But they have the sea.

Their only free space for fun.

Let’s join them in the sea for a solidarity swim. Each year they have a swimming festival on Gaza beach. This is last year’s Gaza Swimming Carnival

This year the Swimming Festival will be held on 26th August.

The kids have already started training in Gaza

So join in wherever you are – Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa, Morocco, Spain, Ireland, Brazil or Chile.

Splash, and swim, and paddle and enjoy the sea, together.

Join them in a swim on August 26th, 2023.

Make it a festive day – bring friends and family..

TO SWIM IS TO FEEL

TO FEEL IS TO EXIST

TO EXIST IS TO RESIST

And as you are at it, why not send a message in a bottle to Gaza children, like they did recently in their Letters through the Waves campaign.

Appealing to the Waves: Children of Gaza Prisoners Make Their Case to the Mediterranean

If you would like to be involved, leave your contact details here.

France: For an Emergency Plan to Overcome the Crisis

… DISARMAMENT AND SECURITY …

A declaration of the Groupe parlementaire La France insoumise -NUPES & La France insoumise (translation by CPNN)

The death of young Nahel on the morning of June 27 in Nanterre triggered a wave of emotion and anger in the country. It has also acted as a spark, triggering a revolt in many cities across the country, which urgently demands a political response.

Faced with this situation, the government has locked itself into an escalation of verbal security that only serves to worsen the situation. They shirk their own responsibility and target rebellious France to hide their incompetence and inability to act. At the same time, they give up looking for a way out of the crisis, and they abandon the victims of damage to public property, housing and businesses essential to daily life.

We advocate no strategy of violence, but we demand that the causes of the situation be addressed because the problems are not new. For working-class neighborhoods, racism, police violence or discrimination in access to employment or housing are the daily lot of the inhabitants. The destruction of public services, social protections and associative solidarity, due to neoliberal austerity policies, has been going on for decades. For there to be harmony, strong actions are needed on the part of the government which, today as yesterday, are absent. Since the revolts of 2005, there has been no response.

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(click here for the original French version)

Question for this article:

Where are police being trained in culture of peace?

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Restoring trust is all the more difficult since the government has distinguished itself in recent years by its inability to deal with popular demands by any means other than contempt and ignorance, whether during the mobilization of yellow vests or against retirement at 64. They make it seem like no change is possible within the current framework. Therefore what is required is a complete break and exceptional responses.

For this, we request a debate in the National Assembly under Article 50-1 of the Constitution in order to propose an emergency plan including:

* The immediate repeal of the “license to kill” provisions of the Cazeneuve law of 2017, responsible for the explosion of deaths when the subject refuses to comply

* The creation of a “Truth and Justice” commission to establish all responsibilities concerning police violence that has resulted in the death or mutilation of citizens

* The immediate expatriation of any case of police violence, the complete reform of the IGPN and the creation of an independent investigation service.

* State support for repairs to shops, housing and public places that have damaged in recent days

* An in-depth reform of the national police to rebuild a better trained republican police and to get rid of all forms of racism, including in particular the dissolution of the BAC, the restoration of the code of ethics of 1986, the strengthening of training, the introduction of genuine community policing and the end of lethal immobilization techniques. We must close the period started by Sarkozy in 2002 that treats young people from working-class neighborhoods as an enemy from within.

* A global action program against discrimination including in particular the creation of a Commissioner for Equality, specialized centers within the courts of appeal and the implementation of the identity check receipt to fight against the face control

* A public investment plan in poor neighborhoods for the restoration of public services, housing, public schools, access to health and culture, financing of associations and social centers

Elders warn of consequences of “one-state reality” in Israel and Palestine

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from The Elders

Following their visit to Israel and and Palestine, Mary Robinson and Ban Ki-moon warn that a ‘one-state reality’ is now rapidly extinguishing the prospect of a two-state solution.

The Chair and Deputy Chair of The Elders warned today (June 22) that a ‘one-state reality’ is now rapidly extinguishing the prospect of a two-state solution foreseen in the 1993 Oslo Accords to bring peace and security to both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples. 

The Government of Israel’s intent to exercise sovereignty over all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea undermines the democratic ideals of the Israeli state, denies the Palestinian people their right to self-determination, and risks an uncontrollable explosion of violence on both sides.
  
Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, and Ban Ki-moon, Deputy Chair of The Elders and former UN Secretary-General, spoke out at the conclusion of a three-day visit to Israel and Palestine. They met a range of Israeli and Palestinian political leaders and civil society organisations, foreign diplomats, and former members of the Israeli military and diplomatic service. 

They also saw for themselves some of the facts on the ground, and heard from Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights organisations about the ever-growing evidence that the situation meets the international legal definition of apartheid: the expansion and entrenchment of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the establishment of dual legal regimes and separation infrastructure in the occupied territories, and the institutionalised discrimination and abuses perpetrated against Palestinians. 

They heard no detailed rebuttal of the evidence of apartheid. On the contrary, the declarations and policies of the current Israeli Government – whose Coalition Guidelines state that “the Jewish people have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel” – clearly show an intent to pursue permanent annexation rather than temporary occupation, based on Jewish supremacy. Measures include the transfer of administrative powers over the occupied West Bank from military to civilian authorities, accelerating the approval processes for building settlements, and constructing new infrastructure that would render a future Palestinian state unviable.   

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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Such a situation has profound implications for Israel’s proud status as a democracy, the two Elders warned. It also undermines the credibility of the international community as the guarantor of a rules-based global order. If the Israeli Government’s current trajectory is not reversed, countries who care about the international rule of law should consider serious enforceable measures to increase pressure on the Israeli Government to meet its international obligations. 
 
The two Elders also noted with alarm the highest level of violence since the end of the second intifada in 2005. They condemned the killings in the past week of Palestinian civilians by Israeli security forces in Jenin, of Israeli settlers by Hamas in the West Bank, and of a Palestinian civilian by Israeli settlers. The Palestinian leadership has a responsibility to do all it can to prevent the terror attacks that cause very real fears among Israelis. The two Elders warned such incidents will only escalate and multiply unless the root causes of the conflict are addressed. 

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: 
“I am profoundly shocked by the changes I have seen on my first visit to this region for several years. The policies of successive Israeli governments have entrenched the oppression of Palestinians, and also jeopardise the security and democracy Israelis have fought so hard for. Meanwhile the Palestinian people have no confidence in their own leadership; elections are long overdue and the democratic vacuum and shrinking civic space allows extremism and violence to flourish. All parties, including the international community, must act urgently to avert a calamitous descent into uncontrollable violence.” 

Mary Robinson and Ban Ki-moon expressed solidarity with Israelis protesting against their government’s proposed plans to weaken judicial independence, and encouraged protesters to confront the corrosive impact of the 56-year occupation on Israeli democracy. 

They also challenged the international community to address double standards on violations of international law. The indictment of Russian President Vladimir Putin by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Ukraine stands in stark contrast to the lack of progress on the ICC’s investigation into alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. Together with the case before the International Court of Justice and the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry, the ICC case is a litmus test for the credibility of an international system which should hold to account all those who break international law. 

Ban Ki-moon, Deputy Chair of The Elders and former UN Secretary-General, said: 
“I leave Israel and Palestine with a heavy heart. I have seen and heard compelling evidence of a one-state reality, with systemic impunity for violators of international law and human rights. There is a lack of political vision and leadership in Israel and Palestine and among Israel’s allies, who continue to revert to a short-term approach. The people of Israel and Palestine, and the world, deserve better. And they deserve it now, before it is too late.” 

Truth of US fault in Jeju massacre must be conveyed via evidence to the world, argues ex-foreign minister of Australia

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article by Heo Ho-Joon in Hankyoreh

To achieve true reconciliation regarding the Jeju April 3 Incident, the US government must take responsibility for its historical wrongdoing in the same way as the Korean government, argues Gareth Evans, the former foreign minister of Australia. The US’ key role will be acknowledging responsibility and apologizing, he says.

These remarks came on the first day of the 18th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity held at the International Convention Center Jeju in Seogwipo during the “Making the Solution of Jeju 4.3 a Global Model: Truth, Reconciliation and Solidarity” session hosted by the Jeju 4.3 Research Institute.


Gareth Evans, the former foreign minister of Australia, speaks at the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity. (courtesy of the Jeju 4.3 Peace Foundation)

The previous day, Evans received the fifth annual Jeju 4.3 Peace Prize presented by the Jeju 4.3 Peace Foundation. Evans was awarded the prize for his involvement in the conclusion of the Paris Peace Agreements that brought peace and an end to civil war in Cambodia, an opportunity which he seized to create the international “responsibility to protect” norm in 2005 that enables the UN to intervene in order to protect civilians in the event of state-sponsored genocide. Evans has also been involved in peace work such as nuclear nonproliferation and banning chemical weapons.

The 4.3 Peace Prize Special Award was awarded to painter Kang Yo-bae for his contribution to informing people about the Jeju April 3 Incident through his “History of People’s Uprising in Jeju” and “The Camellia Has Fallen” series of works in the 1990s.

Efforts to inform the international community of the tragic history that took place 70 years ago in Jeju must be taken, Evans argued.

“If mass atrocity crimes of the kind that occurred here on Jeju are not remembered and seared into the nation’s and the world’s consciousness, [. . .] then the prospect is all too real that these horrors will recur again, that people will fail to recognize the early warning signs of catastrophe before it is too late, and that we will fail as an international community to develop the kind of prevention and response strategies that minimize that risk,” he said.

Expressing concern about the movement to reveal the truth about crimes against humanity weakening in the international community, Evans said that the truth of and responsibility for the Jeju April 3 Incident must be conveyed to the international community so that it may serve as a basis for the creation of principles for solving these sorts of problems.

Evans argued that the level of responsibility the US should bear for the Jeju April 3 Incident must be explicitly stated based on historical evidence, and blame should be clearly assigned through fact-finding work.

The former foreign minister stressed that the US is “failing to properly acknowledge this responsibility.” Accordingly, he said, we must urge the US to acknowledge its responsibility in ethical and moral terms by thoroughly bringing the truth to light through evidence.

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Question related to this article:

Truth Commissions, Do they improve human rights?

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Evans recalled the moment when former German Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt down in front of the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw, Poland, in December 1971, and noted how the world remembers how Germany has continued to apologize for the Holocaust. He suggested that Japan should take a leaf out of Germany’s book and apologize for the horrific brutalities it committed in colonies in the past.

Furthermore, Evans suggested that, in the same way that President Barack Obama paid respects at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Biden should express a similar sentiment with regard to the uprising and massacre in Jeju 70 years ago. Doing so will make the US a nation that “warrants respect,” he said, and will serve to bolster the alliance between Korea and the US.

During a press conference after the fact, Evans called for accountability from the US government with regard to the massacre of Jeju citizens during the Jeju April 3 Incident.

Saying that while it may appear impossible for the US government to share responsibility for the Jeju April 3 Incident in the same manner as the Korean government, Evans noted that what is clear is that the specific nature of US responsibility must be revealed. Real conciliation is about acknowledging and accepting one’s own mistakes, he stressed.

In his acceptance speech for the peace prize, Evans emphasized the “necessity to retain memory of the worst if we are to progress at all toward achieving the best.”

“If we fail to remember the indescribable horror and misery that is involved in any major war, we are at profound risk of sleepwalking into another,” he said of the need to improve global and regional performance when it comes to conflict prevention and response.

Evans also brought up the recent Korea-US summit.

“South Korea is closer to the eye of the storm than my own country, and most others,” he said. “Your preoccupation with North Korea’s ever-increasing nuclear weapon capability and endless rhetorical belligerence is perfectly understandable.”

But he cautioned against heeding the “many domestic voices” that are arguing for South Korea to arm itself with nuclear weapons. “For that to happen would be disastrous for the global non-proliferation regime, and with it your country’s international reputation, while doing little or nothing to actually enhance your security.”

Evans expressed concern about Presidents Joe Biden of the US and Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea having “doubled down on their commitment to nuclear deterrence,” saying, “What South Korea, like Australia, should focus on ensuring in all our alliances with the US is not extended nuclear deterrence, with all [the] enormous risks that entails, but extended conventional deterrence.”

“If we want to build a worldwide culture of peace, there is a crucial need not only for us to remember what has gone so badly wrong in the past, but to stay optimistic about changing things for the better,” Evans stressed. “I’m sure that this is the spirit which sustained the people of Jeju during those long decades of government denial and suppression of the truth, before democracy and decency finally prevailed. I know it is the spirit which will sustain the effort to universalize the Jeju model of truth, reconciliation, and international solidarity.”

In the closing session of the Jeju Forum on the afternoon of June 2, Evans spoke with Governor Oh Young-hun of Jeju on the topic of “Promoting the Culture of Peace.”