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Tag Archives: Human Rights

‘It’s a place where they try to destroy you’: why concentration camps are still with us

At the start of the 21st century, the following things did not exist. In the US, a large network of purpose-built immigration prisons, some of which are run for profit. In western China, “political education” camps designed to hold hundreds of thousands of people, supported by a high-tech surveillance system. In Syria, a prison complex dedicated to the torture and mass execution of civilians. In north-east India, a detention centre capable of holding 3,000 people who may have lived in the country for decades but are unable to prove they are citizens. In Myanmar, rural encampments where thousands of people are being forced to live on the basis of their ethnicity. On small islands and in deserts at the edges of wealthy regions – Greece’s Aegean islands, the Negev Desert in Israel, the Pacific Ocean near Australia, the southern Mediterranean coastline – various types of large holding centres for would-be migrants.

The scale and purpose of these places vary considerably, as do the political regimes that have created them, but they share certain things in common. Most were established as temporary or “emergency” measures, but have outgrown their original stated purpose and become seemingly permanent. Most exist thanks to a mix of legal ambiguity – detention centres operating outside the regular prison system, for instance – and physical isolation. And most, if not all, have at times been described by their critics as concentration camps.

We tend to associate the idea of concentration camps with their most extreme instances – the Nazi Holocaust, and the Soviet Gulag system; genocide in Cambodia and Bosnia. But the disturbing truth is that concentration camps have been widespread throughout recent history, used to intern civilians that a state considers hostile, to control the movement of people in transit and to extract forced labour. The author Andrea Pitzer, in One Long Night, her recent history of concentration camps, estimates that at least one such camp has existed somewhere on Earth throughout the past 100 years.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/02/why-concentration-camps-are-still-with-us

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2020 in Reportages

 

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Gli effetti collaterali della legge Zan

Pochi giorni fa Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, deputata democratica al congresso americano e star della sinistra radicale, è stata ingiuriata da un collega repubblicano, Ted Yoho, con epiteti del tipo “disgustosa, pazza, fuori di testa, fottuta puttana”. Storia di ordinaria misoginia, non fosse per il luogo istituzionale dove si è consumata, la scala del Campidoglio, e per la sfacciataggine con cui il nostro si è poi “scusato” in aula, sostenendo che in quanto buon marito e buon padre di famiglia non aveva certo inteso offenderla, e spingendo Ocasio Cortez a pronunciare un memorabile discorso sui discorsi d’odio (hate speech) maschile come fenomeni non incidentali ma strutturali della società americana, sostenuto da un intero e collaudato sistema di potere e di complicità.

Ripreso da tutti i mezzi di informazione anche in Italia, l’episodio ci dice due cose. La prima: a tutte le latitudini la violenza – verbale e non solo verbale – contro le donne, nonché contro gay, lesbiche, transessuali e altri “irregolari”, è un problema culturale sistemico e richiede strategie di contrasto sistematiche. La seconda: a tutte le latitudini l’efficacia della risposta dipende da molti fattori, per primi la forza, la visibilità e l’autorevolezza della vittima di turno o di chi per essa, ovvero della rete di sostegno su cui può contare. Una legge non basta, né a scoraggiare chi la violenza la agisce né a tutelare chi la subisce: ci vuole altro e questo altro, dice da sempre il femminismo che infatti una legge contro la misoginia non l’ha mai chiesta, si chiama pratica politica. Naturalmente, una legge può aiutare: a stigmatizzare la violenza, a punirne l’attore e risarcirne la vittima. Ma non è tutto, e può essere perfino un alibi per non fare l’essenziale, che viene prima e va oltre la legge.

https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/ida-dominijanni/2020/08/03/legge-zan-effetti-collaterali

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2020 in European Union

 

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Authoritarian governments are using coronavirus as an excuse to crush freedom of speech

Stop those non-humans who are writing and provoking our people,” says Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in an Instagram video. The non-humans he objects to are journalists who criticise the Chechen authorities for mishandling their response to the Covid-19 epidemic.

Given Kadyrov has faced allegations of torturing and disappearing critics (which the leader denies), he leaves nobody in any doubt about how unwelcome journalistic questions should be dealt with.

The cause of his rage was an article in the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta by investigative journalist Elena Milashina, who cited Kadyrov as saying that people who spread the coronavirus are “worse than terrorists” and “should be killed”. As a result of these threats, Milashina wrote that people in Chechnya with Covid-19 were hiding their symptoms because they were too frightened to seek medical help.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/coronavirus-free-speech-orban-india-lockdown-modi-ramzan-kadyrov-chechnya-a9528741.html

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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A Lesbo finisce l’Europa

È il “lunedì puro” a Lesbo, la fine del carnevale per gli ortodossi: è festa, non si lavora, si organizzano dei picnic con la famiglia, si mangia pane azzimo e si fanno volare degli aquiloni colorati. Ai bordi delle strade di Mitilene, il capoluogo dell’isola, gli ambulanti vendono pesci volanti di carta, soli colorati con le code, ma a fianco dei venditori camminano dei militari in mimetica con i mitra spianati e i cani al guinzaglio che pattugliano le strade e le spiagge. Sull’isola, che nel 2015 ha accolto migliaia di profughi siriani, l’atmosfera è cupa.

Le auto della polizia sono ferme a ogni angolo e gruppi di autoproclamati vigilantes bloccano le auto dirette al centro di detenzione di Moria. Gruppi di uomini vestiti di nero prendono a sassate gli operatori umanitari e i giornalisti, distruggono le loro macchine prese a noleggio che riconoscono dalla targa, aggrediscono i profughi che si muovono ormai solo in gruppo. Secondo gli attivisti, si tratta di militanti vicini ad Alba dorata, la formazione di estrema destra che insieme agli abitanti dell’isola da settimane protesta contro la costruzione di nuovi centri di detenzione a Lesbo.

https://www.internazionale.it/reportage/annalisa-camilli/2020/03/03/lesbo-naufragio-migranti-turchia

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2020 in European Union

 

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‘Just run’: on the Turkey-Greece border as refugees try to break through

It was, or so they believed, the start of their journey to the promised land, a place of safety they had longed for. Hours after the Turkish government announced that it would not stop refugees from attempting to reach Europe, a stream of people from the Middle East and Africa, seeking refuge from wars and economic hardship, left a bleak bus station in the Turkish town of Edirne and begun their journey to the border.

After leaving the buses they broke into smaller groups based on the countries they had left. Ethiopians stood in an orderly queue, as one of the crowd went to negotiate with taxi drivers. Algerians looked at their phones and argued loudly, while two Palestinian couples from Gaza stood by a concrete pilar and debated in hushed voices whether they could afford the taxi ride to the border 15km away.

The Algerians decided to walk, resigning themselves to the fact there were no cars to take them further. They marched in a long column down the well-lit and empty main road in the provincial Turkish town, their entire life’s belongings packed into a couple of school backpacks or small plastic shopping bags.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/02/just-run-on-the-turkey-greece-border-as-refugees-try-to-break-through

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2020 in European Union, Middle East

 

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Forgotten by whom? Why it’s more important than ever to remember the Roma Holocaust

If you asked me what I learned in my public education about Roma and Sinti genocide during the Holocaust, it would be a lie to tell you I was taught nothing. I remember it vividly in my Texas high school World History textbook, the small footnote that included Roma and Sinti victims as an asterisk, a tacked-on fact that labelled us “gypsies” with a lower-cased G. There was no further explanation. Omitted from the main narrative, it would have been easy for anyone to miss. Nevertheless, as a Roma woman, it was the first time I saw any non-Roma media mention it. I would soon learn those small moments of inclusion are few and far between. That memory would become the status quo for how to feel on the historical silencing of Romani oppression: be happy with what you get; they could have not included you at all.

When many people think of the Holocaust, they often recall it as primarily a Jewish genocide, perhaps with some awareness of the oppression of other groups such as disabled people. The Encyclopedia Britannica, for instance, takes care to contextualise the systemic murder of the six million—but while it adds that “millions of others” were also killed, its consideration of Nazi racism is limited to anti-semitism. In reality, the racist ideology of the Nazis extended to Roma and Sinti people (known as Zigeuner in German or “Gypsies” in English) as well as the black European population. The total number of Roma and Sinti victims of the Holocaust remain unknown, with scholars and activists claiming anywhere from 200,000—a conservatively estimate, widely debunked given how many countries were occupied—to as high as 2 million.

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/forgotten-by-whom-why-its-more-important-than-ever-to-remember-the-roma-holocaust

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2020 in Reportages, Uncategorized

 

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‘I just wanted to die’: the torture of an Iraqi protester

As the sun began to set, the evening of 14 December seemed destined to be no different to any other for Hayder, a former military medic in Baghdad. After leaving the protest camp in Tahrir Square, where he had been treating the wounds of injured anti-government demonstrators, he went out for dinner with friends in the neighbouring district of Karrada.

Like thousands of other young Iraqis, Hayder first took to the streets two months earlier on 1 October. He was chanting slogans demanding better services and denouncing the corrupt ruling parties when security forces opened fire on the crowd. He stood on a highway leading to Tahrir Square and saw young, unarmed protesters fall around him, some dead, others injured.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/18/i-just-wanted-to-die-the-torture-of-an-iraqi-protester

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2020 in Middle East

 

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Revealed: power and reach of China’s surveillance dragnet

The Chinese government used technology to expand its campaign against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities far beyond the country’s own borders, a rare leak from the heart of the country’s bureaucracy reveals.

Beijing’s obsession with foreign influence and connections in its western Xinjiang region, where at least a million people are held in internment camps, is laid out in the China Cables, a cache of files that includes classified orders to track and detain thousands of people who have dual nationality, have spent time abroad or have personal ties outside the country.

Among the documents are four “bulletins” that provide rare confirmation from inside the state apparatus of the scope and aims of the hi-tech surveillance system.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/24/china-cables-revealed-power-and-reach-of-chinas-surveillance-dragnet

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2019 in Asia

 

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‘Allow no escapes’: leak exposes reality of China’s vast prison camp network

The internal workings of a vast chain of Chinese internment camps used to detain at least a million people from the nation’s Muslim minorities are laid out in leaked Communist Party documents published on Sunday.

The China Cables, a cache of classified government papers, appear to provide the first official glimpse into the structure, daily life and ideological framework behind centres in north-western Xinjiang region that have provoked international condemnation.

Obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and shared with the Guardian, the BBC and 15 other media partners, the documents have been independently assessed by experts who have concluded they are authentic. China said they had been “fabricated”.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/24/china-cables-leak-no-escapes-reality-china-uighur-prison-camp

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2019 in Asia

 

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As Turkey prepares to slice through Syria, the US has cleared a new breeding ground for Isis

“Never get into a well with an American rope” goes the saying spreading across the Middle East, as the US abandons its Kurdish allies in Syria to a Turkish invasion force. People in the region are traditionally cynical about the loyalty of great powers to their local friends, but even they are shocked by the speed and ruthlessness with which Donald Trump greenlit the Turkish attack.

According to the UN and human rights groups, tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees are in flight from their border towns and are being targeted by Turkish airstrikes and artillery fire. Most leaders contemplating ethnic cleansing keep quiet about it, but Turkey’s President Erdogan is openly declaring that he will settle two million Syrian Arab refugees from other parts of Syria on Kurdish lands (he says he’s discovered that the land is not really Kurdish).

Every news dispatch from the new war zone is full of ironies. Trump says that Turkey will be responsible for securing the thousands of Isis prisoners held by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), But Brett McGurk, as the former presidential adviser to the anti-Isis coalition – and the source for the saying about the unreliability of US rope – notes that in the past it was Turkey which had rejected “any serious cooperation on Isis even as 40k foreign fighters flowed through its territory into Syria”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-us-kurds-turkey-isis-breeding-ground-patrick-cockburn-a9151766.html

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in Middle East

 

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