Category Archives: HUMAN RIGHTS

Albinos: “Human rights apply to them too!!! “

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article by Rijanirina J. Randrianandrasana

A 6-year-old child, his lifeless and mutilated body, was found in the town of Berano in Amboasary on March 4, 2022. Another 4-year-old (See minutes 11-13 of the report), but with a less tragic outcome, kidnapped in Ambilobe, is located and found by the police in Tuléar with his kidnappers on July 21. What these two children have in common is that… they are people in Madagascar with albinism.

Albinism is a congenital, rare and non-contagious hereditary disease, caused by the absence of a pigment, affecting both men and women, regardless of their origin. Under international human rights law, people living with albinism are considered persons with disabilities.

However, these people are ostracized. They are often subject to direct and indirect discrimination, particularly in the areas of health, education and work. Attacks on people with albinism can vary from verbal aggression to physical aggression.. Wrong beliefs and superstitions endanger their lives and safety.

The attitude of society towards them has not changed and these people and their families are still at risk of being attacked. This is contradicted by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified in 1976, that stipulates that every human has the right to life and that this right is protected by law (Part III, art. 6.1) and that everyone has the right to freedom and security (art. 9.1).

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(click here for the original article in French.)

Question related to this article:

How can we protect the human rights of persons with disabilities?

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But the worst part is that we are all responsible for these atrocities. We, their classmates, harass them with our words and gestures. We, co-workers, devalue them given their handicap situations even if this hardly defines their aptitudes. We, their own family, are ashamed of the appearance of one of our own. We, members of society, remain silent in the face of these insults and violence. We, the decision-makers, do nothing to improve their living conditions by establishing adequate supports. We are all guilty because we do not act properly.

But, fortunately, all is not lost. We can fight against forms of violence, discrimination and stigmatization towards people with albinism. Due to their alarming situation, it is essential to make certain changes so that they can enjoy the same rights as others. The right to equality and non-discrimination does not mean that everyone must always be treated the same; sometimes distinctions have to be made. Thus, we have a duty to sensitize society on the rights of these people and to abolish discrimination and violence against them.

It is not too late for us, discriminating, ignorant people, profiteers, traffickers, to become agents of change and to organize ourselves to protect people with albinism; The fight has only just begun!!! With that, we’ll end this article with the quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “We can never know what the results of our actions will be.” But if we do nothing, we will get no results. »

Bibliography

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL & OSISA. (2021). Promoting & Protecting the Human Rights of Persons with Albinism: A Handbook for National Human Rights Institutions. Amnesty International Ltd.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. (2016, March 8). Urgent action: Malawi, danger for people with albinism.

DIDR-OFPRA. (2018, May 14). People living with albinism. Democratic Republic of Congo.

(Thank you to Jay Ralitera for sending this article to CPNN)

Honduras: A massive march cries out for peace in Olancho

. HUMAN RIGHTS .

An article from La Tribuna

JUTICALPA, Olancho. Representatives of public and private institutions joined the “Walk for Peace 2022”, through the main streets of this departmental capital.

Marchers called for an immediate ceasefire in the face of criminal acts that affect municipalities, delabdubg the authorities for greater security, and for the investigation and punishment of those responsible materially and intellectually for the violent acts.


The march concluded in the Municipal Plaza of Juticalpa.

The authorities, teachers, administrative staff and students of the North-East Regional University Center, CURNO, joined the “Walk for Peace 2022”.

(Click here for the original article in Spanish about this event)

Questions related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?

Students from the “Francisco Morazán” National Pedagogical University, UNP-FM, and from primary and secondary schools also participated.

The activity also had the organizational support of the Network of Families Living Together in Peace, with the intention of developing a culture of peace and a resounding no to violence among children and young people.

Educational institutions of all levels participated. They were supported by the authorities of CURNO, the Political Government of Olancho, the mayor of Juticalpa and the Departmental Directorate of Education of Olancho.

The “Walk for Peace 2022” was a desperate call to Olanchana society to eliminate violence and strengthen peace.

The department of Olancho, with 24,000 square kilometers ,is the largest in Honduras, similar in size to countries like El Salvador and Israel.

The department is whipped mercilessly by crimes and threats of all kinds, but the most serious thing is the environment of impunity with which those responsible for these criminal acts act, the march condemned.

According to official sources, the population in the department of Olancho is approximately 600 thousand people, almost 50 percent concentrated in the municipalities of Juticalpa and Catacamas.

Official statistics show that the municipalities of Juticalpa, Catacamas Patuca and Dulce Nombre de Culmí have the highest number of homicides between men and women.

Africa confronts linguistic imperialism with Kiswahili

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from the Monitor

The move by the African Union — the apex organisation for African states — to adopt Kiswahili as one of its official working languages, is not only culturally and political significant, but a shot in the arm in its global spread.

This comes just three months after the United Nations on November 23, 2021 designated July 7 as the World Kiswahili Language Day.

It becomes the first African language, which is spoken by more than 200 million people, to be honoured by UNESCO.

Kiswahili, mainly spoken in the East African region, is a fusion of the dialect born of Bantu and Arabic languages, has earned its place of pride as one of the world’s top 10 most spoken languages and Africa’s most widely used native lingua. It enjoys official status national in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It is also widely spoken in parts of DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.

Officially, it was being used in the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional blocs before AU’s adoption.

Over the years, Kiswahili has spread south of the continent, to parts of Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, while Burundi, Madagascar and the Comoros islands have also adopted it.

In June 2020, South Africa introduced Kiswahili as an optional subject in the hope that the language could become a tool to foster cohesion among Africans.

And it’s in this light that the AU move to adopt Kiswahili is a milestone in mainstreaming it– and eventual launch globally.

Proponents of a single language for Africa are hoping that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTFA) will be the catalyst required to launch Kiswahili as Africa’s language of trade and continent-wide communication.

“Aside from fostering shared identity, Kiswahili as a language is a very important tool in the geopolitics of things. It will unite Africa just as other languages like French, Spanish or English have united those who speak them,” said Prof Macharia Munene, a history lecturer at the Nairobi-based United States International University Africa.

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Question related to this article:

Is language a human right?

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“Although it will take a few decades before Kiswahili gains a foothold in every African state, the recent developments are important catalysts.”

An expression of culture 

According to him, language is intrinsic to the expression of culture, arguing that’s why American culture is quite dominant in the world.

It is on that premise that he argues China is doing everything to promote mandarin, hoping it will use it to stamp its cultural influence in the world.

Kenya, Uganda and South Africa are some of the states where China has made initiatives to popularise mandarin.

But China and France –– which also announced plans to make French the language of Africa –– encounter a continent increasingly conscious about its identity.

The diplomatic use of Kiswahili in Africa, and its subsequent introduction into schools’ curricula across the continent is expected to help forge friendships, cultural and economic relationships.

According to Global Voices—an international multi-lingual organisation of writers, translators, academics and digital rights activists—currently, there are more than 7,100 languages spoken around the world, 28 per cent of which are spoken on the African continent.

Despite the existence of some 2,140 local languages in Africa, English, French and Arabic reign supreme.

English on the other hand dominates online spaces in the region.

But this has shrunk to between 51-55 per cent as opposed to 80 per cent on online dominance two decades ago. Projections indicate that Kiswahili, which is now online, will become an increasingly important instrument of trade.

Renowned author Stanley Gazemba asserts that the language has the potential to forge strong trading ties between the people of eastern, central and southern Africa and to promote cultural cohesion.

“If widely promoted in these regions, the language can single-handedly remove the artificial barriers and boundaries imposed by imperial powers,” he wrote in The Elephant.

“There are an estimated 2,000 languages spoken on the continent. Colourful as this may appear, it also poses a challenge in marshalling all these diverse cultures into thinking and working towards a collective goal, which necessitates the creation and promotion of a lingua franca that can be used seamlessly across political and administrative borders, and which can ultimately allow the African people to speak in a single voice.”

“Kiswahili has proved to be a useful tool in unlocking the potential of this sleeping giant in the regions south of the Sahara.”

Kiswahili is taught in universities around the world, including in China, while in the USA, an estimated 100

Chile: the main changes in the proposal for the new Constitution

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Radio 3 (translation by CPNN)

The Constitutional Convention delivered today (July 4) the draft of the new Constitution to the President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, with a series of changes with respect to the current Constitution, as summarized below.

In the text of the new Constitution that the population must accept or reject in a plebiscite, the passage from a “democratic republic” to a “parity democracy” is highlighted, which implies that women occupy at least 50% of all State bodies and proposes to take measures to achieve substantive equality and parity.


Gabriel Boric on Twitter

The now former president of the Constitutional Convention, María Elisa Quinteros, expressed in her speech that the text delivered today to the president is “the first joint constitution in the world,” and noted that it was chaired by two women.

The current constitution of 1980 does not include anything related to a gender and parity approach, in fact, the closest thing to parity is the article that indicates that people are born free and equal in rights, a rule that was reformed, since previously it only referred to to men.

Another great change proposed by the text is that it defines Chile as a Plurinational and Intercultural State, which implies the recognition of 11 peoples and nations, in addition to constituting Indigenous Regional Autonomies and recognizing the legal systems of indigenous peoples, with respect to the Constitution. The current constitution totally omits native and indigenous peoples.

Regarding the Political System, there are also important changes, such as the lowering of the age from 35 to 30 years to run for president, in addition to the consecutive re-election of the Head of State himself for once, a measure that will not apply to Gabriel Boric, but which will apply for the next president.

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

Question related to this article:

Are human rights guaranteed in national constitutions?

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It also highlights the elimination of the Senate, a body that has more than 200 years of history in the country. It will be replaced by a Chamber of the Regions, which will have less power than the Senate had before and would have the power to form limited laws and regional agreements.

The lower house would be renamed the Congress of Deputies and Deputies and would have greater power for the formation of laws. Hence there will be two chambers with asymmetric power.

One of the strengths of the new proposal is the one that defines Chile as a “Social and Democratic State of Law”, including a series of articles that guarantee social rights, such as education, health, housing, work and pensions. .

In this matter, the current constitution gives the private sector powers to act over State institutions in the provision of social goods, while the proposed new Constitution indicates that it is the duty of the State to seek solutions to these problems.

The proposed constitutional text also includes a change regarding abortion, since it indicates that the State must ensure the conditions for a voluntary and protected pregnancy, childbirth and maternity, and for a voluntary interruption of pregnancy. The current Constitution of 1980 explicitly protects “the life of the unborn”, although this was modified with the approval of the interruption of pregnancy on three grounds: fetal inviability, risk to the life of the mother, and rape.

The proposal was initially criticized by the most conservative sector, arguing that this measure implied interrupting the pregnancy at any time, according to its detractors. However, it will be a right that must be regulated by the Legislative Power, which will decide which are the deadlines and the way to do it.

To combat the water crisis in the country, the text includes a great difference with respect to the current constitution, since water will be established as a “non-property” good, in addition to establishing a human right to water, prioritizing its use and creating a National Agency of Water for its sustainable use.

These are some of the major changes in the proposed constitution, which includes 388 articles, and which will be presented to the country’s president, Gabriel Boric. The president himself and the ministers Izkia Siches (Interior) and Giorgio Jackson (Secretary General of the Presidency ) will sign a decree that establishes the plebiscite on September 4 for people over 18 years of age, which will decide if the new Constitution is adopted.

Colombia: Final report of the Truth Commission: an oral and written legacy for the country

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article by Fausto García Calderón from Radio Nacional de Colombia (translation by CPNN)

The wait is over. After the Truth Commission was born in 2017, today, Tuesday, June 28, 2022, five years later, the final report was presented at the Jorge Eliecer Gaitán Theater in Bogotá.

The work has been underway since November 29, 2018 when the commission began its mandate, detailing the truth of the conflict in Colombia over more than fifty years. The task was undertaken by 11 commissioners, presided over by Father Francisco de Roux.


Photo: Colprensa

The presentation that began around 11 in the morning, began with the words of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who highlighted the work carried out by the Truth Commission.

“This process clarifies not only the past of the violations that occurred during the armed conflict, but also contributes to uniting Colombian society so it can advance towards the construction of a future of peace for all,” she said.

In his turn, Father Francisco de Roux, president of the Truth Commission, highlighted the work in which 27,508 stories were heard, from victims, indigenous peoples, Afros, peasants, members of the public force, illegal armed groups, businessmen, politicians and others that in one way or another had to do with the conflict in Colombia.

“We call on everyone to accept ethical and political responsibilities with sincerity of heart. We have verified that those who recognize their responsibilities, far from diminishing their reputation, enhance it”, said Father Francisco de Roux, during his intervention.

You may also be interested in: “The truth cannot be a space for revenge”: Petro on the Commission report

Memories of the truth

Unfortunately, during their work, on August 7, 2020, one of the eleven commissioners, Ángela Salazar Murillo, a defender of women’s rights, died of Covid-19.

Commissioner Leyner Palacios pointed out that her struggle “shows us the importance of writing about the effects on women, cultures, ethnic groups, and implies addressing the damage to the territory. She has left us a great knowledge of what happened in the territories, from San Andrés to Urabá. Those tours that she was able to take left us with a lot of information in terms of testimonies and it has been essential for us to finish this task”. Commissioner Palacios highlighted the legacy of a woman who dedicated her years to the service of the Afro people, “ It’s been wonderful to be able to pick up that work. She told me once: the violence impacted the entire country, but blacks and indigenous people were affected distinctly and differently.”

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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 presentation of the report also recalled the sociologist and story seeker Alfredo Molano, who died a year ago, on October 31, 2019. When he began his mission as commissioner, he mentioned the following: “It is time for a light, so be it. tenuous, that allows us to face the tragedy that we have lived. Let the windows open!”

Find out here: What does the Truth Commission report say about the camp?

Pages from the Final Report

There are 10 chapters in the final report of the Truth Commission: Historical Narrative; Violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law; Women and LGBTIQ+ population; Ethnic; Boys, girls, and adolescents; Impacts, coping and resistance; Exile; Testimonial; Territorial; Synthesis, findings, conclusions and recommendations for non-repetition.

Exile is one of the chapters that generates the most interest, given the problems that Colombian men and women who have left the country because of the armed conflict have had to face. In this, especially, the Commission heard 2,200 testimonies in more than 20 countries.

For Commissioner Carlos Beristain, it was essential to listen to and include the truths that are outside the country. “There is a Colombia outside of Colombia that has been invisible in the eyes of society and the State, people who had to leave the country due to the armed conflict, and this is a form of recognition of their experience.”

Beristain, a doctor and psychologist by profession, and today a commissioner and a seeker of peace and truth, considers that this report, together with the book he wrote ‘Una Maleta Colombiana’, adds to what must be done in order to unite Colombia.

“The Colombian maleta (suitcase) refers to the experiences collected by the victims and the reflections that this provokes and is a bridge between exile and Colombia.”

Read here: Why is it important the Final Report of the Truth Commission?

The future of the report

The presentation was conceived as a commitment to the victims left by the war in Colombia. Moments before starting the presentation, the sensations were a diverse mix; there was hope, anxiety, joy, touches of sadness and the desire that what is known in this final report be the agreement not to forget our truth, not to let memory be clouded and dispersed in time.

It should be emphasized that, despite the fact that the final report was presented today, there will be two months for it to be presented around the country, that is, until August 29, 2022, in which each chapter will be delivered periodically.

“We ask Colombian men and women without distinction to accept the truths of the tragedy, of the destruction of life among us and to make the determination not to kill anyone for any reason. We ask everyone to recognize the victims of the armed conflict, their pain and dignity”, Father Francisco de Roux concluded.

UN rights chief concludes China trip with promise of improved relations

. HUMAN RIGHTS .

An article from the United Nations

High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet during her visit to China, in Ürümqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. (Photo from OHCHR)

At the end of her official visit to China, the first such trip in 17 years, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet announced new areas of engagement between her office and the Chinese Government on rights issues, and summarized the many rights issues raised during her six-day May mission.

During Saturday’s virtual press conference, Ms. Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, outlined the new opportunities for dialogue between her office and the Chinese authorities that were discussed during the visit, which include an annual senior strategic meeting, and a working group that will meet in Beijing and Geneva, as well as online.

The working group, explained Ms. Bachelet, will discuss specific thematic areas, including development, poverty alleviation and human rights, minority rights, business and human rights, counterterrorism and human rights, digital space and human rights, judicial and legal protection, and human rights.

The High Commissioner pointed out that, as her Office does not have a presence in China, the working group will allow for structured engagement on these and other issues, and provide a space for her team to bring specific matters of concern to the attention of the Chinese Government.

Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong on the agenda

During her mission, Ms. Bachelet spoke with a range of government officials, several civil society organisations, academics, and community and religious leaders. In addition, she met several organizations online ahead of the visit, on issues relating to Xinjiang province, Tibet, Hong Kong, and other parts of China. 

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Question for this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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In Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority, Ms. Bachelet raised questions and concerns about the application of counterterrorism and de-radicalisation measures and their broad application, and encouraged the Government to undertake a review of all counterterrorism and deradicalization policies, to ensure they fully comply with international human rights standards, and are not applied in an arbitrary and discriminatory way.

On the Tibet Autonomous Region, Ms. Bachelet reiterated the importance of protecting the linguistic, religious, and cultural identity of Tibetans, and allowing Tibetans to participate fully and freely in decisions about their religious life, and for dialogue to take place. 

Regarding Hong Kong, Ms. Bachelet urged the Government to nurture – and not stifle – the tremendous potential for civil society and academics in Hong Kong to contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights. She described the arrests of lawyers, activists, journalists and others under the National Security Law as “deeply worrying”, and noted that Hong Kong is due to be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee in July.

“To those who have sent me appeals, asking me to raise issues or cases with the authorities – I have heard you”, she declared. “I will continue to follow up on such issues and instances of concern on a sustained basis”.

‘China has a very important role to play’

The rights chief praised China’s “tremendous achievements” in alleviating poverty, and eradicating extreme poverty, 10 years ahead of its target date. 

The country, she added, has gone a long way towards ensuring protection of the right to health and broader social and economic rights, thanks to the introduction of universal health care and almost universal unemployment insurance scheme. 

A number of other developments in the country were welcomed by Ms. Bachelet, including legislation that improves protection for women’s rights, and work being done by NGOs to advance the rights of LGBTI people, people with disabilities, and older people.

The UN rights chief underscored the important role that China has to play, at a regional and multilateral level, and noted that everyone she met on her visit, from Government officials, civil society, academics, diplomats and others, demonstrated a sincere willingness to make progress on the promotion and protection of human rights for all. 

(Editor’s note: Bachelet’s trip does not support US propaganda claiming that China is engaged in genocide in Xinjiang.)

‘It’s a Fight They’ll Get’: Defenders of Abortion Rights March throughout the United States

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article by Jon Queally from Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.)

Marches and rallies took place in cities across the United States on Saturday as defenders of reproductive rights vowed to defend the country against a looming decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that would eviscerate protections enshrined in Roe v Wade for nearly half a century.

Scene in Washington D.C.

Under the banner of “Bans Off Our Bodies,” the demonstrations took place in cities large and small but with a shared message.

“If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get,” said Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, one of the groups who organized the day of action along with Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn, and others.

Carmona, who participated in the major rally that took place in Washington, D.C., said women and their allies nationwide were marching nationwide “to see an end to the attacks on our bodies,” and vowed, “You can expect for women to be completely ungovernable until this government starts to work for us.”

In Chicago, where thousands also marched, Marj Haleerin of the executive committee of the Indivisible Chicago Alliance, said, “Right now, a minority of lawmakers in Washington are taking away our voice. So we’re here, thousands strong, to use our voice and stand up for what we believe in.”

Betty Linville, a 68-year-old living in Los Angeles, attended the rally in that city and said she remembers a time before Roe. 

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Question related to this article:

Abortion: is it a human right?

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“I have memories of women and men fighting for abortion rights 50 years ago,” Linville told the Los Angeles Times. She explained to the paper her worries that the “incredible freedom” of legal abortion could soon be lost, especially for women who lack the means to travel from a state where it is banned to one where it is allowed.  “What is next?” she said. “What else is going to be taken away?”

Organizers said Saturday’s rallies should be seen as only the beginning of a “Summer of Rage” that will continue through the expected official ruling from the Court in June and into the mid-term elections.

“Today is day one of an uprising to protect abortion rights,” said one speaker at the D.C. rally. “It is day one of our feminist future. And it is day one of a ‘Summer of Rage’ where we will be ungovernable. Ungovernable!”

Check out just some of the demonstrations that took place Saturday.

Washington, D.C.:

Columbia, South Carolina:

New York City:

Chicago:

Portland, Maine:

Boston:

Cleveland:

Austin:

Los Angeles:

Back in New York City—where thousands marched across the Brooklyn Bridge shouting “Hands off our Bodies!” and “We won’t go back!”—Gilda Perkin, an 88-year-old artist who spoke to the New York Daily News said she also recognized the historic significance of the fight ahead.

“I’ve been at this a long time, there’s no going back,” Perkin said. “I’m passionate about this issue and I won’t stop. Women need to be strong and speak. We can’t expect anyone else to fight for us so we have to do it ourselves.”

Glenn Greenwald: The Censorship Campaign Against Western Criticism of NATO’s Ukraine Policy Is Extreme

. HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article by Glenn Greenwald in Scheerpost

If one wishes to be exposed to news, information or perspective that contravenes the prevailing US/NATO view on the war in Ukraine, a rigorous search is required. And there is no guarantee that search will succeed. That is because the state/corporate censorship regime that has been imposed in the West with regard to this war is stunningly aggressive, rapid and comprehensive.


[Alisdare Hickson / CC BY-SA 2.0]

On a virtually daily basis, any off-key news agency, independent platform or individual citizen is liable to be banished from the internet. In early March, barely a week after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the twenty-seven nation European Union — citing “disinformation” and “public order and security” — officially banned  the Russian state-news outlets RT and Sputnik from being heard anywhere in Europe. In what Reuters called “an unprecedented move,” all television and online platforms were barred by force of law from airing content from those two outlets. Even prior to that censorship order from the state, Facebook and Google were already banning those outlets, and Twitter immediately announced they would as well, in compliance with the new EU law.

But what was “unprecedented” just six weeks ago has now become commonplace, even normalized. Any platform devoted to offering inconvenient-to-NATO news or alternative perspectives is guaranteed a very short lifespan. Less than two weeks after the EU’s decree, Google announced  that it was voluntarily banning all Russian-affiliated media worldwide, meaning Americans and all other non-Europeans were now blocked from viewing those channels on YouTube if they wished to. As so often happens with Big Tech censorship, much of the pressure on Google to more aggressively censor content about the war in Ukraine came from its own workforce: “Workers across Google had been urging YouTube to take additional punitive measures against Russian channels.”

So prolific and fast-moving is this censorship regime that it is virtually impossible to count how many platforms, agencies and individuals have been banished for the crime of expressing views deemed “pro-Russian.” On Tuesday, Twitter, with no explanation as usual, suddenly banned one of the most informative, reliable and careful dissident accounts, named “Russians With Attitude.” Created in late 2020 by two English-speaking Russians, the account exploded in popularity  since the start of the war, from roughly 20,000 followers before the invasion to more than 125,000 followers at the time Twitter banned it. An accompanying podcast with the same name also exploded in popularity and, at least as of now, can still be heard on Patreon.

What makes this outburst of Western censorship so notable — and what is at least partially driving it — is that there is a clear, demonstrable hunger in the West for news and information that is banished by Western news sources, ones which loyally and unquestioningly mimic claims from the U.S. government, NATO, and Ukrainian officials. As The Washington Post acknowledged  when reporting Big Tech’s “unprecedented” banning of RT, Sputnik and other Russian sources of news: “In the first four days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, viewership of more than a dozen Russian state-backed propaganda channels on YouTube spiked to unusually high levels.”

Note that this censorship regime is completely one-sided and, as usual, entirely aligned with U.S. foreign policy. Western news outlets and social media platforms have been flooded with pro-Ukrainian propaganda and outright lies  from the start of the war. A New York Times article from early March  put it very delicately in its headline: “Fact and Mythmaking Blend in Ukraine’s Information War.” Axios was similarly understated in recognizing this fact: “Ukraine misinformation is spreading — and not just from Russia.” Members of the U.S. Congress  have gleefully spread  fabrications that went viral to millions of people, with no action from censorship-happy Silicon Valley corporations. That is not a surprise: all participants in war use disinformation and propaganda to manipulate public opinion in their favor, and that certainly includes all direct and proxy-war belligerents in the war in Ukraine.

Yet there is little to no censorship — either by Western states or by Silicon Valley monopolies — of pro-Ukrainian disinformation, propaganda and lies. The censorship goes only in one direction: to silence any voices deemed “pro-Russian,” regardless of whether they spread disinformation. The “Russians With Attitude” Twitter account became popular in part because they sometimes criticized Russia, in part because they were more careful with facts and viral claims that most U.S. corporate media outlets, and in part because there is such a paucity of outlets that are willing to offer any information that undercuts what the U.S. Government and NATO want you to believe about the war.

Their crime, like the crime of so many other banished accounts, was not disinformation but skepticism about the US/NATO propaganda campaign. Put another way, it is not “disinformation” but rather viewpoint-error that is targeted for silencing. One can spread as many lies and as much disinformation as one wants provided that it is designed to advance the NATO agenda in Ukraine (just as one is free to spread disinformation provided  that its purpose is to strengthen the Democratic Party, which wields its majoritarian power in Washington to demand greater censorship  and commands the support of most of Silicon Valley). But what one cannot do is question the NATO/Ukrainian propaganda framework without running a very substantial risk of banishment.

It is unsurprising that Silicon Valley monopolies exercise their censorship power in full alignment with the foreign policy interests of the U.S. Government. Many of the key tech monopolies — such as Google and Amazon — routinely seek and obtain highly lucrative contracts  with the U.S. security state , including both the CIA and NSA. Their top executives enjoy very close relationships  with top Democratic Party officials. And Congressional Democrats have repeatedly hauled tech executives before their various Committees to explicitly threaten them  with legal and regulatory reprisals if they do not censor more in accordance with the policy goals and political interests of that party.

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Question(s) related to this article:

Is Internet Freedom a Basic Human Right?

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

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But one question lingers: why is there so much urgency about silencing the small pockets of dissenting voices about the war in Ukraine? This war has united the establishment wings of both parties and virtually the entire corporate media with a lockstep consensus not seen since the days and weeks after the 9/11 attack. One can count on both hands the number of prominent political and media figures who have been willing to dissent even minimally from that bipartisan Washington consensus — dissent that instantly provokes vilification in the form of attacks on one’s patriotism and loyalties. Why is there such fear of allowing these isolated and demonized voices to be heard at all?

The answer seems clear. The benefits from this war for multiple key Washington power centers cannot be overstated. The billions of dollars in aid and weapons being sent by the U.S. to Ukraine are flying so fast and with such seeming randomness that it is difficult to track. “Biden approves $350 million in military aid for Ukraine,” Reuters  said  on February 26; “Biden announces $800 million in military aid for Ukraine,” announced  The New York Times on March 16; on March 30, NBC’s headline  read: “Ukraine to receive additional $500 million in aid from U.S., Biden announces”; on Tuesday, Reuters announced: “U.S. to announce $750 million more in weapons for Ukraine, officials say.” By design, these gigantic numbers have long ago lost any meaning and provoke barely a peep of questioning let alone objection.

It is not a mystery who is benefiting from this orgy of military spending. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that  “the Pentagon will host leaders from the top eight U.S. weapons manufacturers on Wednesday to discuss the industry’s capacity to meet Ukraine’s weapons needs if the war with Russia lasts years.” Among those participating in this meeting about the need to increase weapons manufacturing to feed the proxy war in Ukraine is Raytheon, which is fortunate to have retired General Lloyd Austin as Defense Secretary, a position to which he ascended from the Raytheon Board of Directors. It is virtually impossible to imagine an event more favorable to the weapons manufacturer industry than this war in Ukraine:

Demand for weapons has shot up after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24 spurred U.S. and allied weapons transfers to Ukraine. Resupplying as well as planning for a longer war is expected to be discussed at the meeting, the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity. . .

Resupplying as well as planning for a longer war is expected to be discussed at the meeting. . . . The White House said last week that it has provided more than $1.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the invasion, including over 5,000 Javelins and more than 1,400 Stingers.

This permanent power faction is far from the only one to be reaping benefits from the war in Ukraine and to have its fortunes depend upon prolonging the war as long as possible. The union of the U.S. security state, Democratic Party neocons, and their media allies has not been riding this high since the glory days of 2002. One of MSNBC’s most vocal DNC boosters, Chris Hayes, gushed that the war in Ukraine has revitalized faith and trust in the CIA and intelligence community more than any event in recent memory — deservedly so, he said: “The last few weeks have been like the Iraq War in reverse for US intelligence.” One can barely read a mainstream newspaper or watch a corporate news outlet without seeing the nation’s most bloodthirsty warmongering band of neocons — David Frum, Bill Kristol, Liz Cheney, Wesley Clark, Anne Applebaum, Adam Kinzinger — being celebrated as wise experts and heroic warriors for freedom.

This war has been very good indeed for the permanent Washington political and media class. And although it was taboo for weeks to say so, it is now beyond clear that the only goal that the U.S. and its allies have  when it comes to the war in Ukraine is to keep it dragging on for as long as possible. Not only are there no serious American diplomatic efforts to end the war, but the goal is to ensure that does not happen. They are now saying that explicitly, and it is not hard to understand why.

The benefits from endless quagmire in Ukraine are as immense as they are obvious. The military budget skyrockets. Punishment is imposed on the arch-nemesis of the Democratic Party — Russia and Putin — while they are bogged down in a war from which Ukrainians suffer most. The citizenry unites behind their leaders and is distracted from their collective deprivations. The emotions provoked by the horrors of this war — unprecedentedly shown to the public by the Western media which typically ignores carnage and victims of wars waged by Western countries and their allies — is a very potent tool to maintain unity and demonize domestic adversaries. The pundit class finds strength, purpose and resolve, able to feign a Churchillian posture without any of the risks. Prior sins and crimes of American elites are absolved and forgotten at the altar of maximalist claims about Putin’s unprecedented evils — just as they were absolved and forgotten through the script which maintained that the U.S. had never encountered a threat as grave or malignant as Trump. After all, if Putin and Trump are Hitler or even worse, then anyone who opposes them is heroic and noble regardless of all their prior malignant acts.

And that is why even small pockets of dissent cannot be tolerated. It is vital that Americans and Europeans remain entrapped inside a completely closed system of propaganda about the war, just as Russians are kept entrapped inside their own. Keeping these populations united in support of fighting a proxy war against Russia is far too valuable on too many levels to permit any questioning or alternative perspectives. Preventing people from asking who this war benefits, and who is paying the price for it, is paramount.

Big Tech has long proven to be a reliable instrument of censorship and dissent-quashing for the U.S. Government (much to the chagrin of corporate media employees, Russian outlets still remain available on free speech alternatives  such as Rumble and Telegram, which is why so much ire is now directed at them). A rapid series of ostensible “crises” — Russiagate, 1/6, the COVID pandemic — were all exploited to condition Westerners to believe that censorship was not only justified but necessary for their own good. In the West, censorship now provokes not anger but gratitude. All of that laid the perfect foundation for this new escalation of a censorship regime in which dissent, on a virtually daily basis, is increasingly more difficult to locate.

No matter one’s views on Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and the war, it should be deeply alarming to watch such a concerted, united campaign on the part of the most powerful public and private entities to stomp out any and all dissent, while so aggressively demonizing what little manages to slip by. No matter how smart or critically minded or sophisticated we fancy ourselves to be, none of us is immune to official propaganda campaigns, studied and perfected over decades. Nor is any of us immune to the pressures of group-think and herd behavior and hive minds: these are embedded in our psyches and thus easily exploitable.

That is precisely the objective of restricting and closing the information system available to us. It makes it extremely difficult to remain skeptical or critical of the bombardment of approved messaging we receive every day from every direction in every form. And that is precisely the reason to oppose such censorship regimes. An opinion or belief adopted due to propaganda and reflex rather than autonomy and critical evaluation has no value.

(Editor’s note: Thank you to Transcent Media Service for calling our attention to this article.)

Colombia: Decriminalization of abortion is a triumph for human rights

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Amnesty International

The Colombian Constitutional Court’s ruling in favour of the decriminalization of abortion during the first 24 weeks of a pregnancy is a great triumph for human rights, said Amnesty International today.


Photo by: Daniel Romero/Long Visual Press/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

“We celebrate this ruling as a historic victory for the women’s movement in Colombia that has fought for decades for the recognition of their rights. Women, girls and people able to bear children are the only ones who should make decisions about their bodies. Now, instead of punishing them, the Colombian authorities will have to recognize their autonomy over their bodies and their life plans,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“Following the legalization of abortion in Argentina last year and the recent decriminalization in Mexico, this ruling is yet another example of the unstoppable momentum of the green tide in Latin America. We will not stop fighting until the sexual and reproductive rights of all women, girls and people able to bear children are recognized in the entire continent, without exception.”

The Constitutional Court approved the ruling to decriminalize abortion today during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, with five votes in favour and four against. After 24 weeks, legal abortion will continue to only be permitted in cases of a risk to the life or health of the pregnant person; the existence of life-threatening fetal malformations; or when the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or non-consensual artificial insemination.

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

Question related to this article:

Abortion: is it a human right?

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“Although decriminalizing abortion in the first 24 weeks is a vital step forward for abortion rights in Colombia, and for Latin America and the Caribbean, no one should ever be criminalized for accessing an abortion. It’s vital that we keep pushing for full access to safe and legal abortion in all circumstances in Colombia and beyond,” added Erika Guevara-Rosas.

Despite being a fundamental right established by the Constitutional Court in Decree C-355 of 2006, access to abortion is currently unequal and limited in Colombia. It is estimated that currently in the country there are 400,400 abortions performed each year, and that less than 10% of these procedures are performed legally, with a high concentration of services in the biggest cities.

Legal abortion is not only much safer than clandestine abortion, but also the cost of its provision in Colombia, compared to care for incomplete abortion,  is much lower  when performed in top-level institutions, using the techniques recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The criminalization of abortion exacerbates inequalities between women. The vast majority of those reported for clandestine abortions in Colombia are those who live in rural areas and almost a third  of them are survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence or personal injury. Therefore, instead of framework with greater guarantees of human rights, a framework of persecution against the most vulnerable women has prevailed.

Moreover, the criminalization of abortion has generated fear and stigma in health care providers,  causing them to avoid providing the service  of termination of pregnancy for fear of the social and legal consequences they may face. 

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Duncan Tucker: duncan.tucker@amnesty.org

Mexico : Renowned researchers share their experience of the UNESCO Chairs of the Latin American and Caribbean Region

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article from ZHN Zacatecas Hoy

In order to investigate the alternatives and strategies to implement a culture of peace program in educational systems, professors from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO ), participated in a discussion entitled “Experiences of the UNESCO Chairs of the Latin American and Caribbean Region”.


Adolfo Rodríguez Guerrero

To initiate these activities, the program coordinator of the education sector of UNESCO in Mexico, Adolfo Rodríguez Guerrero, indicated that the function of these Chairs is to support the solutions of the problems of sustainable development that are being presented during the last 20 or 30 years.

He explained that the UNESCO Chains is a program that contributes actions and reflections. they contribute to the collective intelligence, knowledge and innovation that is generated by universities in search of global citizenship.

Rodríguez Guerrero stressed that this specialized unit of the United Nations in our country is working for sustainable development through two elements: a global culture of peace and sustainability through an educational innovation, that is, a change in higher education that promotes knowledge and learning digital through new information technologies.

The coordinator of the UNESCO Chair of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Gloria Ramírez Hernández, focused on explaining the importance of human rights in the work that has been carried out in these Chairs since 1992, promoting values, attitudes and behaviors that reflect respect for life and eradicate violence in all its forms.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

How can we promote a human rights, peace based education?

Is there progress towards a culture of peace in Mexico?

Will UNESCO once again play a role in the culture of peace?

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She pointed out that these actions seek to reinforce the human rights and freedoms of each person, visualizing the culture of peace as a preventive action through the construction of democracy and the management of conflicts, resolving them with peaceful means.

Explaining her experience as a coordinator of this chair in the UNAM, the speaker highlighted her work of developing consciousness about the application of human rights. This is done by research, teaching and dissemination through fields of knowledge, lines of research and projects that seek to prevent violent attitudes.

One of these projects is the National Program of Education in Human Rights, which has the objective of promoting a culture of defense, promotion and response in human rights in all types, levels and modalities in a comprehensive approach that favors governance, democracy and peace.

Finally, the professor stated that “peace cannot advance without women”, and she mentioned that “conflict and humanitarian crises impede the access of women and girls to progress, including the right to food, education, security and health, as we are immersed in a social and economic collapse, especially in a post-pandemic context”.

For his part, the coordinator of the UNESCO “University and Regional Integration” Chair, Axel Didriksson Takayanagui, spoke about the transformation that must take place in the public university of the Latin American and Caribbean Region for a curriculum in a culture of peace and critical and analytical thinking.

The professor stated that the development of the Chairs UNESCO, will provide bases so that May of this year the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education presents the importance of implementing a culture of peace, considering that as a priority human right for inclusion, equity and educational transformation.

With regard to this international conference, the renowned researcher commented that this is the third edition of this type of academic activity. It will take place at the University of Barcelona in Spain. “This will be a space in which models will be analyzed by innovators and visionaries in higher education from around the world.

The coordinators of these talks at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas were the university professors Juana Elizabeth Salas and Oscar Padilla.