Category Archives: HUMAN RIGHTS

Amnesty International : End brutal repression of Palestinians protesting forced displacement in occupied East Jerusalem

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Amnesty International

Israeli security forces have used repeated, unwarranted and excessive force against Palestinian protesters in occupied East Jerusalem following four days of violence in which 840 Palestinians were injured, Amnesty International said today [May 10]. At least 21 Israeli police officers and seven Israeli civilians were also injured, according to Israeli police.

The organization calls on Israeli authorities to immediately halt forced evictions in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and end the ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

In the latest escalation, Palestinian armed groups have fired rockets and missiles into Israel injuring at least one Israeli and there have been reports of several people killed in Gaza from retaliatory attacks by Israel. Amnesty International calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and take all feasible precautions to avoid harming civilians.

“Evidence gathered by Amnesty International reveals a chilling pattern of Israeli forces using abusive and wanton force against largely peaceful Palestinian protesters in recent days. Some of those injured in the violence in East Jerusalem include bystanders or worshippers making Ramadan prayers,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“The latest violence brings into sharp focus Israel’s sustained campaign to expand illegal Israeli settlements and step up forced evictions of Palestinian residents- such as those in Sheikh Jarrah – to make way for Israeli settlers. These forced evictions are part of a continuing pattern in Sheikh Jarrah, they flagrantly violate international law and would amount to war crimes.”

[See last month’s CPNN bulletin: Overcoming Israeli Apartheid]

Eyewitness testimonies – as well as videos and photographs taken by Amnesty International’s researchers on the ground in East Jerusalem –show how Israeli forces  have repeatedly deployed disproportionate and unlawful force to disperse protesters during violent raids on al-Aqsa mosque and carried out unprovoked attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah.

Since the beginning of Ramadan on 13 April tensions have been steadily rising as Palestinians protested against Israeli restrictions limiting their access to Damascus Gate, a main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. On 26 April, Israeli authorities removed the restrictions in response to the continuous demonstrations.  Anger has also been rising over the imminent plans to forcibly evict four Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Israeli settlers.

Unlawful use of force

Tensions reached boiling point on 7 May, when more than 170 Palestinians were injured  as Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa mosque compound in dispersing worshippers along with protesters, firing 40mm kinetic impact projectiles (KIPs) and concussion grenades into crowds gathered there for prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan.  
 
A Palestinian journalist present at the scene described how Israeli forces went on the rampage firing projectiles and tear gas. He also said they stormed the clinic at the mosque and beat protesters. He told Amnesty International: “I’ve been covering events taking place in Jerusalem for the past 10 years… and I’ve never been this scared in my life.  Everyone was a target, I want to say that the shooting was random, but that would be a lie. They knew exactly who and where they were aiming their bullets and grenades at. Most of the people were targeted in their upper bodies (eyes, face, and chest).”

He was also shot in the back – while holding up his camera and attempting to leave the area.

In response, protesters at al-Aqsa threw stones and lit fires as Israeli forces on horseback and in riot gear used stun grenades to repel them.

On 10 May, more than 300 Palestinian protesters were injured when Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa compound for the second time in days. A Red Crescent spokesperson told Amnesty International that the violence led to the hospitalization of at least 250 Palestinians, with seven in a critical condition. 

 One eyewitness said Israeli forces began breaking windows and firing tear gas and stun grenades, leaving many people inside struggling to breathe. 

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Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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Another witness on the scene said Israeli forces started firing tear gas from rooftops before more forces stormed al-Haram square from al Magharbeh gate. “They kept moving in pushing people into al-Aqsa mosque, locking [the doors] with metal chains… and then breaking a window to throw in tear gas at people literally locked up with not much room to breathe or get medical assistance… on top of it they started to  shoot rubber bullets at worshippers inside,” he said.

He also reported seeing Israeli forces beating passers-by and stopping cars evacuating the wounded to photograph the injured before letting them go. He himself was shot in the chest while he approached a medic on the scene who had been injured.  

Sheikh Jarrah

Over the past week Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood have held nightly demonstrations in response to the imminent threat of forced eviction.  Amnesty International has documented arbitrary arrests of peaceful demonstrators, the use of excessive force, arbitrary use of sound and stun grenades as well as the arbitrary spraying of maloderant (skunk) water canons at demonstrators and homes in Sheikh Jarrah.   

Four Palestinian families in the neighbourhood are under imminent threat of forced eviction after a Jerusalem court rejected their appeal against an eviction order. Nahalat Shimon International, a settler company, has filed lawsuits to seize the homes of dozens of families in Sheikh Jarrah using inherently discriminatory laws, such as the Legal and Administrative Matter Laws as well as the Absentee Property Law of 1950, to confiscate Palestinian land or property and transfer it to settler groups. Forcible transfer of the occupied population is prohibited under international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crimes according to the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty International researchers witnessed an unprovoked attack by Israeli forces against a group of peaceful demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah on 9 May. Israeli forces arrived shortly before iftar, the evening Ramadan meal. After the meal a tens of peaceful protesters formed a circle and began chanting against the imminent plans to evict Palestinian families from their homes. The demonstrators were at least 10 metres away from the Israeli forces who were stationed by a nearby Israeli settlers’ home. A short while later Israeli forces launched a coordinated attack to disperse the crowd of Palestinian protesters. Israeli forces on horseback began to sprint towards the crowd. One man limping in pain said he was trampled on by police horses as he tried to run away from the area. Residents were pushed into the walls of their homes and five men were arbitrarily arrested.

Israeli forces began to shove and hit the group -including an Amnesty researcher observing the protest. At around 10pm they brought the skunk water canons and sound grenades and began to arbitrarily fire at demonstrators.

Osama Dweik, was arrested during a nightly demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah on 6 May when Israeli police suddenly charged at the group of protesters and immediately detained him. At the police station he saw Israeli police kicking and beating with batons four Palestinians detained during the Damascus Gate clashes and Sheikh Jarrah protests. Seven other people were arrested at Sheikh Jarrah that night alone.

Gil Hammerschlag, an Israeli activist demonstrating against the forced evictions at Sheikh Jarrah on 7 May, was shoved and kicked by Israeli forces who threw sound grenades at peaceful demonstrators from less than 10 metres away. 

On the same day, a middle-aged Palestinian man was left badly bruised in the leg when Israeli forces threw a stun grenade that struck him in the thigh. A photographer also on the scene told how Israeli forces, including police on horseback, charged towards a crowd peacefully chanting after one of the protesters threw a plastic water bottle at them. 

“Amnesty International researchers witnessed deplorable conduct by security forces at Sheikh Jarrah including entirely unprovoked attacks on peaceful protesters standing up for rights and calling for respect of international law. Instead of further violating the rights of Sheikh Jarrah’s residents and solidarity activists, Israeli authorities must immediately scrap planned forced evictions,” said Saleh Higazi.

Amnesty International is calling on the international community to hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations under international law.

“Israel must not be allowed to continue its rampage against Palestinians who are simply defending their right to exist and protesting against their forced displacement. Mere expressions of concerns about Israel’s utter disregard for its obligations under international law are not sufficient.  There must be clear and strong denunciations of the flagrant violations, including forced displacement, the expansion of illegal settlements and the and the brutal repression of people protesting against such grave violations,” said Saleh Higazi.

 “As an immediate step we call on the United Nations Security Council members to convene an open session and for the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process to brief member states.”

Nabil el-Kurd, one of the residents under threat of forced eviction in Sheikh Jarrah, told Amnesty International:

“Sheikh Jarrah is sending a message to the whole world, including the US Congress, the UK Parliament, the French Parliament, the EU Parliament, the International Criminal Court, that what is happening to us is a war crime. It is not just an eviction, but a war crime. Remember that. I do not know why the entire world is watching what is happening and letting Israel get away with it. It is time they stopped spoiling Israel.”

Human Rights Watch : Abusive Israeli Policies Constitute Crimes of Apartheid, Persecution

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Human Rights Watch

Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The finding is based on an overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem.
 


Video

The 213-page report, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” examines Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. It presents the present-day reality of a single authority, the Israeli government, ruling primarily over the area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, populated by two groups of roughly equal size, and methodologically privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, most severely in the occupied territory.

Prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”



The finding of apartheid and persecution does not change the legal status of the occupied territory, made up of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, or the factual reality of occupation.



Originally coined in relation to South Africa, apartheid today is a universal legal term. The prohibition against particularly severe institutional discrimination and oppression or apartheid constitutes a core principle of international law. The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 1998 Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court (ICC) define apartheid as a crime against humanity consisting of three primary elements:

1. An intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another.

2. A context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalized group.

3. Inhumane acts.

The reference to a racial group is understood today to address not only treatment on the basis of genetic traits but also treatment on the basis of descent and national or ethnic origin, as defined in the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Human Rights Watch applies this broader understanding of race.



The crime against humanity of persecution, as defined under the Rome Statute and customary international law, consists of severe deprivation of fundamental rights of a racial, ethnic, or other group with discriminatory intent.



Human Rights Watch found that the elements of the crimes come together in the occupied territory, as part of a single Israeli government policy. That policy is to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territory. It is coupled in the occupied territory with systematic oppression and inhumane acts against Palestinians living there.



Drawing on years of human rights documentation, case studies, and a review of government planning documents, statements by officials, and other sources, Human Rights Watch compared policies and practices toward Palestinians in the occupied territory and Israel with those concerning Jewish Israelis living in the same areas. Human Rights Watch wrote to the Israeli government in July 2020, soliciting its perspectives on these issues, but has received no response.



Across Israel and the occupied territory, Israeli authorities have sought to maximize the land available for Jewish communities and to concentrate most Palestinians in dense population centers. The authorities have adopted policies to mitigate what they have openly described as a “demographic threat” from Palestinians. In Jerusalem, for example, the government’s plan for the municipality, including both the west and occupied east parts of the city, sets the goal of “maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city” and even specifies the demographic ratios it hopes to maintain.



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

Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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To maintain domination, Israeli authorities systematically discriminate against Palestinians. The institutional discrimination that Palestinian citizens of Israel face includes laws that allow hundreds of small Jewish towns to effectively exclude Palestinians and budgets that allocate only a fraction of resources to Palestinian schools as compared to those that serve Jewish Israeli children. In the occupied territory, the severity of the repression, including the imposition of draconian military rule on Palestinians while affording Jewish Israelis living in a segregated manner in the same territory their full rights under Israel’s rights-respecting civil law, amounts to the systematic oppression required for apartheid.



Israeli authorities have committed a range of abuses against Palestinians. Many of those in the occupied territory constitute severe abuses of fundamental rights and the inhumane acts again required for apartheid, including: sweeping movement restrictions in the form of the Gaza closure and a permit regime, confiscation of more than a third of the land in the West Bank, harsh conditions in parts of the West Bank that led to the forcible transfer of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, denial of residency rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their relatives, and the suspension of basic civil rights to millions of Palestinians.



Many of the abuses at the core of the commission of these crimes, such as near-categorical denial of building permits to Palestinians and demolition of thousands of homes on the pretext of lacking permits, have no security justification. Others, such as Israel’s effective freeze on the population registry it manages in the occupied territory, which all but blocks family reunification for Palestinians living there and bars Gaza residents from living in the West Bank, use security as a pretext to further demographic goals. Even when security forms part of the motivation, it no more justifies apartheid and persecution than it would excessive force or torture, Human Rights Watch said.



“Denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights, without any legitimate security justification and solely because they are Palestinian and not Jewish, is not simply a matter of an abusive occupation,” Roth said. “These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another.”



Statements and actions by Israeli authorities in recent years, including the passage of a law with constitutional status in 2018 establishing Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people,” the growing body of laws that further privilege Israeli settlers in the West Bank and do not apply to Palestinians living in the same territory, as well as the massive expansion in recent years of settlements and accompanying infrastructure connecting settlements to Israel, have clarified their intent to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis. The possibility that a future Israeli leader might someday forge a deal with Palestinians that dismantles the discriminatory system does not negate that reality today.



Israeli authorities should dismantle all forms of repression and discrimination that privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians, including with regards to freedom of movement, allocation of land and resources, access to water, electricity, and other services, and the granting of building permits.



The ICC Office of the Prosecutor should investigate and prosecute those credibly implicated in the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. Countries should do so as well in accordance with their national laws under the principle of universal jurisdiction, and impose individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on officials responsible for committing these crimes.



The findings of crimes against humanity should prompt the international community to reevaluate the nature of its engagement in Israel and Palestine and adopt an approach centered on human rights and accountability rather than solely on the stalled “peace process.” Countries should establish a UN commission of inquiry to investigate systematic discrimination and repression in Israel and Palestine and a UN global envoy for the crimes of persecution and apartheid with a mandate to mobilize international action to end persecution and apartheid worldwide.



Countries should condition arms sales and military and security assistance to Israel on Israeli authorities taking concrete and verifiable steps toward ending their commission of these crimes. Countries should vet agreements, cooperation schemes, and all forms of trade and dealing with Israel to screen for those directly contributing to committing the crimes, mitigate the human rights impacts and, where not possible, end activities and funding found to facilitate these serious crimes.

“While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution,” Roth said. “Those who strive for Israeli-Palestinian peace, whether a one or two-state solution or a confederation, should in the meantime recognize this reality for what it is and bring to bear the sorts of human rights tools needed to end it.”

USA” BAmazon Union Vote: The Opening Salvo in a Long Struggle!

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

Statement from the Solidarity Center

In response to the election results, we send our full solidarity to the courageous Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama who opened a major struggle against the U.S.’s second largest corporation. We commend the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) for their efforts and are prepared to continue to mobilize solidarity as this struggle continues to unfold.

The workers in Bessemer have ignited a national movement to organize Amazon and all unorganized workers. This campaign, led by Black workers in the U.S. South, is just the opening shot by the working class in our struggle to rebuild power after decades of capitalist offensives.

Despite the current setbacks and enormous challenges, this struggle has been immensely successful.

Amazon has incredibly intimidating power, yet workers in Bessemer dared to initiate this struggle, inspiring workers around the world to organize and to build unions. This bold undertaking sparked hundreds of solidarity actions across the world and had a positive impact on Amazon workers striking in Germany, India and Italy, as well as job actions in Georgia, Illinois, and countless other places.

Amazon’s Union Busting: Unprecedented violations of worker’s rights

The reality is that this was always an uphill battle. Amazon, led by the world’s richest person Jeff Bezos, has at their disposal not only an unlimited amount of resources to bust workers’ organizing efforts, but also a set of rules and laws that are stacked to advantage the boss over workers expressing their basic demands for good wages, safe working conditions, and power on the job.

Amazon engaged in one of the most aggressive, dirty, and illegal union-busting campaigns in recent memory. Amazon was able to successfully appeal to the National Labor Relations Board to nearly quadruple the initial bargaining unit; they held captive audience meetings with workers daily; sent multiple texts every day to workers phones; installed a mailbox on company grounds in violation of an NLRB ruling an in an effort to intimidate workers; shelled out millions to bring on some of the most vile union busters from Morgan Lewis and elsewhere; changed the traffic light pattern to frustrate organizers’ ability to talk with workers going to and from work; among many other union busting tactics that they employed to prevent the workers from winning their union.

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Question(s) related to this article:

The right to form and join trade unions, Is it being respected?

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Due to Amazon’s outrageous violations of workers rights, the election results should be thrown out and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should mandate that Amazon immediately recognize the union and begin negotiations.

We must demand NO RETALIATION against Amazon workers involved in union organizing.

Only continued struggle will make this happen.

Where do we go from here?

We must also think seriously about the strategy and tactics we employ to advance from here. There is ongoing discussion across the working class movement about the development of workers assemblies as a vehicle to organize the unorganized and to continue to build community and worker solidarity. This organizing will be critical to the future.

Many unions and progressive organizations are focusing attention on the necessity for the PRO Act, a set of labor legislation that would overturn right to work laws and severely restrict the kinds of union-busting tactics Amazon employed in Bessemer. We must build a mass movement to pass these laws and much more.

In the wake of the vote in Bessemer, we have initiated a petition calling on President Joe Biden to pass the critical reforms in the PRO Act by Executive Order. Every president has used their executive power to impose basic changes, forward or backwards, through Executive Orders. FDR issued 3,721 Executive Orders. The Emancipation Proclamation was an Executive Order that ended chattel slavery in the U.S. Biden must act now in the interests of all workers to pass the PRO Act – sign the petition here.

May Day – International Workers Day – is only a few weeks away. This will be a necessary point to mobilize around these next steps.

More assessment and discussion is needed that involves various forces to develop plans to open up a much broader struggle and collectively chart a course forward.

Despite the outcome of the vote, the new front these workers have opened up is a major advance for the working class movement as a whole. The movement that this struggle has given rise to obliges us to continue to press ahead and build off of what the workers in Bessemer began.

This fight is far from over! We will continue to do everything we can to mobilize solidarity with the workers in Bessemer as they fight for their union and challenge the outcome of this election in the weeks and months ahead, and as thousands of other workers across the country take inspiration from their heroic fight and engage in organizing drives in their workplaces.

Amazon: End Union-busting! No retaliation! Recognize RWDSU!

Expand worker’s rights to organize! Make the PRO Act Law immediately!

Let’s keep building worker power and community solidarity to organize the unorganized!

Annual Report of Amnesty International : COVID-19 hits those shackled by oppression hardest thanks to decades of inequalities, neglect and abuse

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

Annual report of Amnesty International

The global pandemic has exposed the terrible legacy of deliberately divisive and destructive policies that have perpetuated inequality, discrimination and oppression and paved the way for the devastation wrought by COVID-19, Amnesty International said in its annual report published today.

Amnesty International Report 2020/21: The State of the World’s Human Rights covers 149 countries and delivers a comprehensive analysis of human rights trends globally in 2020. In it, the organization describes those already most marginalized, including women and refugees, as bearing the devastating brunt of the pandemic, as a result of decades of discriminatory policy decisions by world leaders. Read the full report here.

Health workers, migrant workers, and those in the informal sector – many at the frontlines of the pandemic – have also been betrayed by neglected health systems and patchy economic and social support. The response to the global pandemic has been further undermined by leaders who have ruthlessly exploited the crisis and weaponized COVID-19 to launch fresh attacks on human rights, the organization says.

“COVID-19 has brutally exposed and deepened inequality both within and between countries, and highlighted the staggering disregard our leaders have for our shared humanity.  Decades of divisive policies, misguided austerity measures, and choices by leaders not to invest in crumbling public infrastructure, have left too many easy prey to this virus,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s new Secretary General.

“We face a world in disarray. At this point in the pandemic, even the most deluded leaders would struggle to deny that our social, economic and political systems are broken.” 

Pandemic has amplified decades of inequalities and erosion of public services

Amnesty’s report shows how existing inequalities as a result of decades of toxic leadership have left ethnic minorities, refugees, older persons, and women disproportionately negatively affected by the pandemic.

COVID-19 worsened the already precarious situation of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in many countries, trapping some in squalid camps, cutting off vital supplies, or precipitating border controls that left many stranded. For example, Uganda, the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa with 1.4 million refugees, immediately closed its borders at the start of the pandemic and did not make an exception for refugees and asylum seekers trying to enter the country. As a result, over 10,000 people were stranded along its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The report highlights a marked increase in gender-based and domestic violence with many women and LGBTI persons facing increased barriers to protection and support due to restrictions on freedom of movement; lack of confidential mechanisms for victims to report violence while isolated with their abusers, and reduced capacity or suspension of services.

Those on the frontlines of the pandemic – health workers, and those in the informal sector – suffered as a result of wilfully neglected health systems and pitiful social protection measures. In Bangladesh, many working in the informal sector have been left without an income or social protections due to lockdowns and curfews. In Nicaragua, over the course of two weeks in early June, at least 16 health workers were dismissed after expressing concerns about lack of PPE and the state response to the pandemic. 

“We are reaping the results of years of calculated neglect at the hands of our leaders. In 2020, under the unique strain of a pandemic, health systems have been put to the ultimate test and people have been left in financial freefall. The heroes of 2020 were the health workers on the frontlines saving lives and those bunched together at the very bottom of the income scale, who worked to feed families, and keep our essential services going.  Cruelly, those who gave the most, were protected the least,” said Agnès Callamard.

Virulent strain of leaders weaponize the pandemic to further assault human rights

The report also paints a dismal picture of the failures of global leaders whose handling of the pandemic has been marked by opportunism and total contempt for human rights.

“We’ve seen a spectrum of responses from our leaders; from the mediocre to mendacious, selfish to the fraudulent. Some have tried to normalise the overbearing emergency measures they’ve ushered in to combat COVID-19, whilst a particularly virulent strain of leader has gone a step further.  They have seen this as an opportunity to entrench their own power. Instead of supporting and protecting people, they have simply weaponized the pandemic to wreak havoc on people’s rights. said Agnès Callamard.

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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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Authorities passing legislation criminalizing commentary related to the pandemic has been a presiding pattern. In Hungary for example, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government amended the country’s Criminal Code, introducing prison sentences of up to five years for “spreading false information” about COVID-19 for example.

Across the Gulf states in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates authorities used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to continue suppressing the right to freedom of expression, including by prosecuting individuals, who posted comments on social media about government responses to the pandemic, for spreading “false news”.

Other leaders have used excessive force. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte said he had ordered police to shoot “dead” people who protest or may cause “trouble” during quarantine measures. In Nigeria, brutal policing has resulted in security forces killing people for protesting in the streets, demanding their rights and calling for accountability. Under President Bolsonaro, police violence in Brazil escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 3,181 people were killed by the police across the country between January and June – an average of 17 deaths per day.

Some leaders have gone a step further, using the distraction of the pandemic to clamp down on criticism – and critics – unrelated to the virus, and perpetrate other human rights violations while the gaze of the world’s media was elsewhere. For example, in India, Narendra Modi, further cracked down on civil society activists, including through counter-terrorism raids on their homes and premises.

Meanwhile under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government continued its persecution of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang unabated and a sweeping national security law was ushered through in Hong Kong to legitimize politically motivated repression.

“International institutions such as the International Criminal Court and UN human rights mechanisms are there to hold states and individual perpetrators to account. Sadly, 2020 shows that they have been wrestled into political deadlock by leaders seeking to exploit and undermine collective responses to human rights violations,” said Agnès Callamard.

National self-interest has trumped international cooperation in COVID response

World leaders have also wreaked havoc on the international stage, hampering collective recovery efforts by blocking or undermining international cooperation.

These include:

Leaders of rich countries, such as former President Trump, circumventing global cooperation efforts by buying up most of the world’s supply of vaccines, leaving little to none for other countries. These rich countries also have failed to push pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge and technology to expand the supply of global COVID-19 vaccines.

Xi Jinping’s government censoring and persecuting health workers and journalists in China who attempted to raise the alarm about the virus early on, supressing crucial information.

The G2O offering to suspend debt payments from the poorest countries, but demanding that the money be repaid with interest later.

“The pandemic has cast a harsh light on the world’s inability to cooperate effectively in times of dire global need,” said Agnès Callamard. 

“The only way out of this mess is through international cooperation.  States must ensure vaccines are quickly available to everyone, everywhere, and free at the point of use. Pharmaceutical companies must share their knowledge and technology so no one is left behind.  G20 members and international financial institutions must provide debt relief for the poorest 77 countries to respond and recover from pandemic.”

Failed by their governments, protest movements the world over have stood up

Regressive policies have inspired many people to join long-standing struggles as seen by the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, the #End SARS protests in Nigeria, and new and creative forms of protest such as virtual climate strikes.

The report details many important victories that human rights activists helped to secure in 2020, particularly across gender-based violence.

These include new legislation to counter violence against women and girls in Kuwait, South Korea, and Sudan, and the decriminalization of abortion in Argentina, Northern Ireland, and South Korea.

“Leadership in 2020 came not from power, privilege, or profiteers. It came from the countless people marching to demand change. We saw an outpouring of support for #End SARS, Black Lives Matter, as well as public protests against repression and inequality in places across the world including in Poland, Hong Kong, Iraq and Chile. Often risking their own safety, it was the leadership of ordinary people and human rights defenders the world over that urged us on. These are the people at the frontier of the struggle for a better, safer and more equal world,” said Agnès Callamard. 

“We are at a crossroads. We must release the shackles that degrade human dignity. We must reset and reboot to build a world grounded in equality, human rights, and humanity. We must learn from the pandemic, and come together to work boldly and creatively so everyone is on an equal footing.”

Belarus: Women at the forefront of human rights struggle

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Amnesty International

Women who have played prominent roles in the protests sweeping Belarus are subject to reprisals and threats, Amnesty International said today. In a new publication, the organization highlights the important role women activists have played in the protests after widely contested presidential elections and reveals state reprisals against them.


Women activists told Amnesty International that they had been accused of being “bad mothers” and “bad wives”, and that the authorities had threatened to take their children away from them. They have also faced ill-treatment in detention, and prison sentences resulting from unfounded criminal prosecutions.

“Svyatlana Tshikhanouskaya, a presidential contender forced into exile, Maryia Kalesnikava, her chief of staff thrown into prison, Marfa Rabkova, a jailed human rights defender, and journalists Katsyaryna Bakhvalava and Darya Chultsova, both imprisoned for two years for livestreaming of a protest action – these are some of the many women whose names have become synonymous with the struggle for freedom and human rights in Belarus,” said Aisha Jung, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Belarus. 

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Click here for an article on this subject in French)

Questions related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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“In a deeply patriarchal society with endemic domestic violence, women in Belarus have risked everything to stand up for their beliefs. The Belarusian authorities have retaliated with measures intended to target women activists, and their organizations and families.”

Yuliya Mitskevich, a feminist activist who runs a gender-awareness organization called Aktyunym Byts Faina (It’s Great to be Active), and who is a member of a sub-group of the opposition Coordination Council, Femgruppa, was arrested on Friday 20 October 2020 outside the offices of her organization.

Yuliya was officially charged with “participation in an illegal gathering,” but she told Amnesty she believed she is being persecuted for her work on gender equality. The police officers who arrested Yuliya, and criminal investigators who interrogated her, asked her to sign a statement saying that she had taken part in illegal actions in her organizational role. 

“They offered me incentives and threatened me too. The first time they asked about Femgruppa, and about the women’s marches and finances, but the second time they were interested in my organization,” Yuliya told Amnesty International. 

“We call for solidarity with the brave women of Belarus in their fight for freedom and human rights. In their struggle, they are challenging patriarchal attitudes and a repressive government intent on suppressing human rights and stifling the change and progress that Belarusians are calling for,” said Aisha Jung. 

Background 

Amnesty International’s   global solidarity campaign was launched on 27 January 2021, with the publication of a  report  revealing how the Belarusian authorities have weaponized the justice system to punish survivors of torture rather than perpetrators. The organization produces regular publications that highlight how different sectors of Belarusian society are being targeted. Belarus is currently experiencing the most egregious clampdown on human rights in its post-independence history. Amnesty International activists around the world will participate in various actions to demonstrate their solidarity with peaceful protesters in Belarus. 

New ICC ruling ‘opens the door’ for justice in occupied Palestine – Independent UN expert

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from United Nations News

The ruling of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that is does have jurisdiction over grave crimes committed in occupied Palestinian territory is a “significant step forward in the quest for justice and accountability”, an independent UN human rights expert said on Tuesday. 


A girl stands in front of her home in Khan Younis Palestine refugee camp in Gaza. © UNRWA/Hussein Jaber

Q 1: An Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem has labelled Israel as an “apartheid state” over its policy of favoring Jews over the Palestinians earlier this month. How would you comment on this declaration? Could it ease the Israeli aggression on Palestinians?

 “This offers profound hope to those who believe that consequences, not condonation, must be the answer to the commission of grave crimes”, said  Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.  

The judgement, which includes potential war crimes, is a major move towards ending impunity in the 53-year-old occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza. 

“The leading political organs of the United Nations have repeatedly failed to enforce their own significant body of resolutions on the Israeli occupation”, the UN expert said. “This ruling opens the door for credible allegations of Rome Statute crimes to finally be investigated and potentially reach the trial stage at the ICC.” 

Probing the past 

The ICC prosecutor can now investigate a number of past allegations, including “grave crimes” committed by Israel during the 2014 war against Gaza, the killing and wounding of thousands of largely unarmed demonstrators during the Great March of Return in 2018-2019 and Israel’s settlement activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to the press release from OHCHR.  

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(click here for a related article in French.)

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?

(continued from left column)

Moreover, the prosecutor can also look into allegations of grave crimes involving Palestinian armed groups.  

“In adopting the Rome Statute and creating the International Criminal Court, the international community pledged its determination to end impunity for the perpetrators of grave crimes”, the Special Rapporteur stated. “Yet, in the context of Israel’s protracted occupation, the international community has permitted a culture of exceptionalism to prevail”.  

He also maintained that, had international legal obligations been purposively enforced years ago, “the occupation and the conflict would have been justly resolved and there would have been no need for the ICC process”. 

Unanswered reports 

The Special Rapporteur elaborated on a number of authoritative UN reports in recent years that have called for accountability and for Israel to meaningfully investigate credible allegations of grave crimes – none of which has been implemented.  

He cited one from the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict, which stated that “justice and respect for the rule of law are the indispensable basis for peace. The prolonged situation of impunity has created a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action”. 

Another referred to a 2013 report on the implications of the Israeli settlements and called upon Israel to “ensure full accountability for all violations…and to put an end to the policy of impunity”. 

Call for global backing 

Mr. Lynk urged the international community to support the ICC process, reminding that “the preamble of the Rome Statute calls for ‘international cooperation’ to ensure the ‘lasting respect for and the enforcement of international justice’”.  

“Ending impunity and pursuing justice can only bring us closer to peace in the Middle East”, upheld the independent UN expert. 

His call has been endorsed by Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council  to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions and the experts are not paid for their work.

UN human rights expert urges to lift unilateral sanctions against Venezuela 

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, Alena Douhan, today  [12 February] urged the United States, European Union and other States to drop unilateral sanctions imposed against Venezuela.

At the end of a two-week visit to Venezuela, Douhan said the sanctions have exacerbated pre-existing calamities. They have resulted in the economic, humanitarian and development crisis, with a devastating effect on the whole population of Venezuela, especially but not only those in extreme poverty, women, children, medical workers, people with disabilities or life-threatening or chronic diseases, and the indigenous populations.

“The devastating effect of sanctions imposed is multiplied by extra-territoriality and over-compliance adversely affecting public and private sectors, Venezuela citizens, non-governmental organisations, third country national and companies, said Douhan, adding that “humanitarian exemptions are lengthy, costly, ineffective and inefficient”.

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Question for this article:

What is really happening in Venezuela?

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“Lack of necessary machinery, spare parts, electricity, water, fuel, gas, food and medicine, growing insufficiency of qualified workers many of whom have left the country for better economic opportunities, in particular medical personnel, engineers, teachers, professors, judges and policemen, has enormous impact over all categories of human rights, including the rights to life, to food, to health and to development.

“Due to the complexity of the situation I sought to meet the widest range of people to listen to their experience and insights. I met government officials, diplomats, international agencies, opposition leaders, non-governmental organizations, lawyers, doctors, teachers, academics, victims of human rights violations, representatives of private business and of the church, as well as ordinary people,” Douhan said.

Sanctions were first imposed against Venezuela in 2005 and have been severely strengthened since 2015, with the most severe ones being imposed by the United States.

Douhan stressed that unilateral measures are only legal if they are authorised by the UN Security Council, or used as countermeasures, or do not breach any obligation of States, and do not violate fundamental human rights. She called on the countries to observe principles and norms of international law and reminded them that humanitarian concerns should always be taken into account with due respect to mutual respect, solidarity, cooperation and multilateralism. She plans to issue a full report on her mission in September 2021.

The B’tselem Report on Israeli Apartheid

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

A blog by Richard Falk

[Prefatory Note: The post below consists of my responses to questions posed by Merve Ayadogan of the Anadolu Agency in Turkey, focused on the significance of the B’Tselem Report that recently concluded that Israel imposes an apartheid regime to sustain Jewish supremacy on both Israel itself and the all of Occupied Palestine. The Published version on Februrary 3, 2021 was crafted for the readers of the news agency.]

Q 1: An Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem has labelled Israel as an “apartheid state” over its policy of favoring Jews over the Palestinians earlier this month. How would you comment on this declaration? Could it ease the Israeli aggression on Palestinians?

It is definitely an important development when Israel’s most respected human rights organization issues a report that confirms earlier UN reports and allegations that the Palestinians are victimized by an apartheid regime that seeks to impose policies and practices that ensure the supremacy of Jews by victimizing the Palestinian people throughout the whole of historic Palestine. Such a de facto one-state reality of unified Israeli control suggests that the internationally endorsed goal of a negotiated two-state solution has been superseded by Israeli ambitions to complete the Zionist project of establishing a Jewish exclusivist state on the entire  ‘promised land’ of ‘biblical Israel.’ These ambitions were implicitly acknowledged by Israel in 2018 when it enacted a Basic Law that asserted that only the Jewish people had a right to self-determination within the state of Israel, that the internationally unlawful settlement enterprise deserved national support, and that Hebrew was the only official language. Not only were Palestinians being subordinated despite being citizens, but so were Druze and Christian minorities.

It should be appreciated that ‘apartheid’ is listed as a Crime Against Humanity in Article 7(j) of the Rome Statute governing the activities of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Although the crime of apartheid is derived from the South African racist regime that proudly declared itself to be a governance structure based on apartheid ideas of separate and unequal development, it has become a generic crime given an authoritative definition in the 1976 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. The Government of Israel, especially in international settings such as the UN, is outraged by allegations of apartheid that it repudiates as nothing other than a vicious form of anti-Semitism. The internationally acclaimed Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, goes beyond the B’Tselem Report in his insistence that Israel plus the territory it occupies is an apartheid regime: “The reality of apartheid and Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the sea is hidden only from the blind, the ignorant, the propagandists and the liars.”

One of the contributions of the Report is to identify the elements of Israeli apartheid by reference to specific policies and practices that are relied upon to maintain Jewish supremacy over non-Jews within its sovereign territory. Among these are discriminatory standards applicable to immigration, giving Jews worldwide an unrestricted ‘right of return’ while denying Palestinian any immigrations rights even if parents or grandparents were born within its territory. Other important instances of discrimination based on ethnicity concern land tenure, citizenship and nationality rights, freedom of mobility, security of residence, administration of law, and issuance of building permits. It is clear that these apartheid features vary from domain to domain, from Israel proper to East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza, but the core undertaking is stable: exploitative domination by Jews over non-Jews, especially Palestinians.

There is one mysterious weakness in my reading of the B’Tselem Report: the erasure of seven million or so Palestinian refugees and involuntary exiles. The Report deals with apartheid. only in the context of the control of territory rather than its deliberate and intended design of exerting control of people, and yet from 1948 to the present, Palestinians have suffered as a people, whether subject to Israeli territorial control or not, with hundreds of thousand  being displaced and dispossessed from 1948 onwards as integral to the 

Israeli overall plan to be a Jewish majority state that could lay a legitimating claim to being a democracy. In effect, ‘ethnic cleansing’ was a necessity, given Israel claims to legitimacy as a democracy. Palestinian forced to abandon their homeland by becoming refugees or exiles are at least as much a victim of apartheid as are Palestinians living under Israeli territorial control.

(continued in right column)

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?

(continued from left column)

I have no reason to believe that Israel will act more humanely toward Palestinians as a result of the B’Tselem Report, but will condemn the report, as has already happened, as an instance of ‘Jewish anti-Semitism.’ As with BDS, Israeli first defenders will deliberately confuse criticism of criminally unlawful governing policies in Israel with hatred of Jews. A peaceful and secure future for both peoples will not arise until Israel dismantles apartheid and agrees to treat Palestinians in accordance with human rights standards, including respect for the Palestinian right of self-determination, as well as a genuine endorsement of racial equality.

Q 2: Despite pledging a new beginning in the Middle East, during Obama-era we saw a rise in conflicts and emerge of Daesh terror. Then came the Trump administration and we saw an atrophy in US-Palestine relations due to former president’s controversial decisions in favor of Israel. Now the newly-elected US President Joe Biden has directed his administration an immediate renewal of relations with Palestine and its people, what do you think of Biden administration’s policy regarding Palestine, the Middle East and wider region? Could we expect an “unseen” US policy for the region?

It is basically too early to tell whether the Biden presidency will do more than roll back some of Trump’s extremist moves. My best guess would be continuity with the approach to Israel/Palestine taken during the Obama period, with the special relationship fully reaffirmed, and Israel protected against censure and nonviolent pressures of the sort associated with the BDS Campaign or at the UN. Much will be revealed by how the Biden administration approaches Iran, particularly whether it attaches new conditions to the revival of Nuclear Program Agreement (JCPOA) of 2015 from which Trump withdrew. The suspensions of arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the UAE are welcome signs that Biden’s foreign policy might be directed at achieving some demilitarization of the Middle East with special emphasis placed on ending chaos and strife in Yemen, Syria, and Libya, as well as promoting stability in Iraq and Lebanon. It seems likely that Israel will continue to exert a strong influence on U.S. policy toward the region, and the Biden leadership has promised to consult with Israel before making any new policy moves in the region. At the same time, it is my impression is that Biden’s priorities will be overwhelmingly domestic (COVID, economic recovery), and that he will try hard to avoid the distractions of adopting controversial foreign policy positions. Even more troublesome than the Middle East, is an escalation of tensions with China and Russia, which definitely seems to be on the radar screen of Antony Blinkon and other top foreign policy advisors.

Q 3: Former US President Trump announced a “peace plan” which is widely known as “the deal of the century.” Do you think it was a realistic initiative?

The Trump plan was essentially a demand that Palestinians agree to political surrender with respect to their struggle for basis rights in exchange for economic assistance in improving the quality of their daily lives. In the post-colonial age of robust nationalism to expect a people to accept subordination in their own homeland and 

The renunciation of their inalienable right of self-determination is unrealistic, besides being contrary to the spirit of the post-colonial ethos. Such a one-sided proposal as put forward by the Trump presidency was nothing other than a tactic of geopolitical bullying, and should not be confused with genuine peacemaking. 

Q 4: How would you comment on the position of international community regarding Palestine conflict?

The international community seems stuck in a time warp by its continued adherence to the totally discredited Oslo diplomacy, which was premised on a two-state solution. As B’Tselem Report clearly demonstrates, the one-state reality has become the only foundation of any future meaningful peace process, posing a challenge of how to arrange for future governance on a basis of true ethnic equality. Until this happens, UN and internationalist initiatives will be irrelevant. It is my belief that what hope exists for a just solution will arise from Palestinian resistance and global solidarity initiatives exerting sufficient pressure on the Israeli leadership so as to cause a recalculation of national interests. It is useful to remember that it was this combination of developments that explains the abrupt and unexpected collapse of the South African apartheid regime.

Q 5: Though UN has commented on the illegality of the settlements that Israel continues to develop on the occupied Palestinian territories, the organization still falls short in bringing about a peaceful solution. What should the UN do to ensure security, accountability, human rights and dignity for the Palestinian people?

The UN did pass a strong anti-settlements resolution at the end of 2016 by a 14-0 vote in the Security Council, with the U.S. abstaining, during the last days of the Obama presidency. [SC RES 2334, 23 Dec 2016] It was the strongest reassertion of UN authority in recent years, yet it led nowhere when it came to implementation. As Israel has repeatedly demonstrated over the course of its history, it will not be swayed by international law or UN directives, and will experience no adverse consequences for such defiance. It has now provocatively challenged the Biden presidency by approving 3,000 new permits for unlawful settlement construction, many of the approved new structures are situated deep in the West Bank, signaling Israel’s continuing establishment of unlawful facts on the ground to reinforce its refusal even to consider the negotiated emergence of a viable Palestinian state. It is important that the UN agenda continue to document Israeli wrongdoing as this will encourage and legitimize civil society activism. It is only Palestinian resistance from within and global solidarity from without that can have any prospect of achieving Palestinian rights and a peaceful future for both peoples. 

Nomination of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

Press release at Transcend.org

Ms. Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, has today nominated Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters from a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

In her nomination letter to Nobel Committee in Oslo, Ms. Maguire wrote:

“My reasons for nominating them together are simple.   Individually each has given countless examples of courage exposing governments’ illegal actions that caused millions of deaths – putting their own freedom and lives on the line.

“Collectively, their lives of self-sacrifice and selflessness constitute remarkable demonstrations of the magnificence of the human spirit.   They are indeed breathtaking testimonies to the goodness inherent in the human heart.

“The Nobel Committee could protect and help save the lives of these three Champions of Peace by awarding them the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.  By doing so the Committee would honour the will of Nobel, in acknowledging true heroes of Peace.   The Nobel Committee would also give great hope to publishers, journalists, writers, and many who face repression and persecution by their governments as they struggle to be writers of truth and history of humanity.”

*******************

4th January, 2021

The Norwegian Nobel Committee
Henrik Ibsen’s gate 51
O255 Oslo, Norway

Subject:  Nomination of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

Dear Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, I hope this finds you well.
I am herein nominating these three individuals, as a group, for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

All three have been individually nominated in previous years for the Peace Prize, but none received it to date.   My reasons for nominating them together are simple.

Individually, each has given countless examples of courage exposing governments’ illegal actions that caused millions of deaths—putting their own freedoms and lives on the line.

Collectively, their lives of self-sacrifice and selflessness constitute remarkable demonstrations of the magnificence of the human spirit. They are indeed breathtaking testimonies to the goodness inherent in the human heart.

Today around the world, when we listen or read about violence, militarism, poverty, war, pandemics, climate change, and particularly the suffering of millions of little children hungry in a rich world, it is hard not to feel despair and wonder… ‘where is the hope?’  However, the hope lies in the lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to serve and help others even sometimes at the cost of their own lives.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

Our hope lies in lives like those of Chelsea, Ed and Julian, their altruism helping restore our faith in ourselves and in our brothers and sisters everywhere.  We allow ourselves to be inspired by their courage and example as they motivate us to act.   If they are capable of such great acts of love, maybe we too can do something for others – at least we can try to keep the Golden Rule, ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’ (which all religions preach). We each can try to do no harm, and try to do what is right.

Chelsea Manning, as an American soldier based in Iraq, could not go along with the murder of Iraqi civilians.  Julian Assange, as a publisher, had to do his duty and disclose facts of the Iraqi and Afghan wars to the public. Edward Snowden, working in U.S. intelligence, could not remain silent knowing that his government was carrying out illegal surveillance of US citizens and world governments.

They could have remained silent but chose the hard road to tell the truth.

Now they are being punished cruelly and vindictively by those who broke international laws, the very people who should be held responsible for the deaths of children and civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen

Currently Assange is in Belmarsh Prison, UK, facing extradition charges to USA, as the British government cooperates with the American Grand Jury to condemn him (an Australian citizen and publisher) to cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, which could even lead to the death penalty.

Even more insidious, with a few honourable exceptions, the Main Stream Media–if not silent at the unjust torture of Assange by the UK and US governments–collude in the abuse of Assange, a fellow publisher. If Assange is extradited to USA to stand trial and imprisoned for truth telling, thereafter no reporter, newspaper or publisher in the world will be safe from the same treatment by the USA and other repressive governments opposed to public accountability and scrutiny.

Snowden is seeking asylum in Moscow (Russia have just granted him citizenship to help protect his life) and is unable to return to his home in the USA lest he be arrested and confined to an American prison for life.

Manning is in an American prison, having been re-arrested and held because she courageously refuses to give testimony against Assange.

All of these three Champions of Peace followed their consciences, did their duty with love. I am sure that they were afraid, but they endured their Dark Nights of the Soul, they each did something beautiful and magnificent in service of others.  We must all be grateful for their uplifting spirits.

The Nobel Committee could protect and help save the lives of these three champions of peace by awarding them the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. By doing so you would honour the will of Nobel, in acknowledging true heroes of Peace.  The Nobel committee would also give great hope to publishers, journalists, writers, and many who face repression and persecution by their governments as they struggle to be the writers of truth and history of humanity. Thank you.

Peace,

Mairead Maguire

U.N. rights boss urges withdrawal of article in French draft security law

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

United Nations human rights boss Michelle Bachelet called on Wednesday [9 December] for the withdrawal of a draft law in France known as “Article 24” that would curb freedom to share images identifying police.


photo from Al Jazeera

Questions related to this article:

Can the United Nations protect human rights?

France has been hit by a wave of street protests after the government introduced a security bill in parliament that set out to increase its surveillance tools and restrict rights on circulating images of police officers in the media and online. (See CPNN November 29 and November 23)

In a recent U-turn, French President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party said it would rewrite the article that curbs rights to circulate images of police officers.

“The law has to be discussed by the French people,” Bachelet told a Geneva news conference. “But it’s the Article 24, the one we are really concerned about. And that’s why we are mentioning that should be reviewed and should be, I guess, withdrawn”.

Click here for the French version)