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Tag Archives: Human Rights

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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The Quiet Desperation of Refugees in Japan

An estimated 100 of the approximately 300 detainees at the East Japan Immigration Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki, are involved in a hunger strike that began on May 10. Strikers are demanding an end to exceptionally long detention periods — now typically exceeding a year — and a relaxation of the provisional release system, which places severe and impracticable restrictions on the lives of temporarily released detainees. Detainee anger is aggravated by the isolation, lack of information, and alleged medical neglect experienced at the detention center, where many long-term detainees suffer from deteriorating physical and mental health.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/08/the-quiet-desperation-of-refugees-in-japan/

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2019 in Asia

 

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As face-recognition technology spreads, so do ideas for subverting it

POWERED BY advances in artificial intelligence (AI), face-recognition systems are spreading like knotweed. Facebook, a social network, uses the technology to label people in uploaded photographs. Modern smartphones can be unlocked with it. Some banks employ it to verify transactions. Supermarkets watch for under-age drinkers. Advertising billboards assess consumers’ reactions to their contents. America’s Department of Homeland Security reckons face recognition will scrutinise 97% of outbound airline passengers by 2023. Networks of face-recognition cameras are part of the police state China has built in Xinjiang, in the country’s far west. And a number of British police forces have tested the technology as a tool of mass surveillance in trials designed to spot criminals on the street.

https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2019/08/15/as-face-recognition-technology-spreads-so-do-ideas-for-subverting-it

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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President Trump Has Legalized Concentration Camps

Wednesday, the Trump administration announced that it would be
fundamentally changing how undocumented immigrant children are to be
treated by the federal government. If the new rules—due to be officially
published today—are allowed to stand, we will have entered a new era.
From now on, the full might of the US government will be devoted to
indefinitely detaining immigrant children in facilities that, to all
intents and purposes, are concentration camps—places as bleak and
lacking in human dignity as one of the original concentration camps, in
which the British held tens of thousands of Boer families during the
South African wars of the late 19th century.

https://www.thenation.com/article/immigration-kids-trump-flores-concentration-camps/

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2019 in North America

 

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Carola Rackete and Europe’s Troubling Refugee Policies

It’s been four days since Isaac, Fréderic and their friends arrived in the port of Lampedusa on board the Sea-Watch 3, captained by Carola Rackete. They can hardly believe they’re really here. The sun is setting and the temperature has become a bit more bearable as they sit on the steps of the San Gerlando church.

It is shortly after 9 p.m. on this Tuesday and they have just received a message on their smartphones: “Carola libera.” Carola is free.

The reference is to Carola Rackete, the 31-year-old German captain of the Sea-Watch 3 who has become a rival to Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini — and a figurehead for a less restrictive migration policy.

But the migrants standing in front of the church merely see her as the woman without whom none of them would have made it to Europe. They cheer when they read the news that she has been released.

“Carola Rackete saved our lives. Without her, we would all be dead,” says Fréderic Samassi, a 24-year-old from Ivory Coast. He says he spent three years in Libya, most of it behind bars, an ordeal during which he says he saw many terrible things. Now, he has reached the goal that he had imagined when he left his home in 2016: Europe.

https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/carola-rackete-and-europe-s-troubling-refugee-policies-a-1276268.html

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in European Union

 

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Horrific pictures of drowned migrants should not distract us from the fact that far more people die on EU borders

Four years ago, I was standing by the grave of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old child who drowned when the rubber boat carrying him and his Syrian Kurdish family from Turkey to Greece was flipped over by high waves. The picture of his small body in a red shirt and black shorts lying face down on a Turkish beach with his head in the surf was supposed to have focused public attention on the hideous plight of refugees in the Mediterranean.

Alan’s grave was an ugly stone rectangle in a cemetery beside the ruins of the Kurdish city of Kobani in northern Syria which Isis had ferociously assaulted and nearly captured in a prolonged siege in 2014-15. I found the scene all the more moving because there were no flowers and Alan’s little grave was surrounded by fresh earth gouged out by a bulldozer preparing the ground for more graves.

I thought of Alan again this week when a photo was published of a father and daughter, also refugees, lying face down in muddy brown water close to the bank of the Rio Grande which they had been trying to swim to reach the United States. Like Alan and his family, Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez drowned together with his 23-month-old daughter Valeria on what they hoped would be the last lap of their journey to a better life.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/drowned-migrants-border-photo-eu-deaths-mediterranean-boats-a8979731.html

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2019 in Reportages

 

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The Criminalization of Women’s Bodies Is All About Conservative Male Power

Let’s start by acknowledging that women are not things. Before we talk, like we have to, about what the attacks on abortion access mean for this anxious, awful political era, let’s establish as a ground rule that women are not vessels, or incubators, or an undifferentiated natural resource. Women are human beings whose human rights matter.

This week, 25 white men in Alabama decided otherwise. In a sadistic nationwide legislative binge against women’s basic reproductive rights. Draconian new anti-abortion measures have also won wide margins of approval in Georgia, Ohio, and Missouri. This has been coming for a long time. It’s all part of a strategic  frontal assault on women’s right to choose, a deliberate ploy to overturn  the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling upholding abortion access as a constitutional right in the United States. These laws are not about whether a fetus is a person. They are about enshrining maximalist control over the sexual autonomy of women as a foundational principle of conservative rule. They are about owning women. They are about women as things.

https://newrepublic.com/article/153942/criminalization-womens-bodies-conservative-male-power

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2019 in North America, Uncategorized

 

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Alabama’s Abortion Ban Is Tyranny of the Minority

The government of Alabama just decided that providing an abortion to a 12-year-old girl who was raped by her father is a more serious crime than raping a 12-year-old girl.

On Wednesday, Governor Kay Ivey enacted the most restrictive abortion ban in the United States. Under its provisions, performing an abortion on someone who has been pregnant for more than six weeks is a Class A felony, carrying a minimum sentence of ten years in prison, no matter how said person became pregnant. Statutory rape and incest, meanwhile, remain Class C felonies — carrying a minimum prison sentence of just over one year.

Although some putatively “moderate” Republicans like Marco Rubio believe that the state should coerce victims of rape and incest into incubating their abusers’ fetuses, the vast majority of Americans do not. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 77 percent of voters felt abortion should be legal in such circumstances during the first trimester of pregnancy (while 52 percent said it should remains so in the last three months of a pregnancy). Even Pat Robertson — the Christian-fundamentalist televangelist who blamed “the gays” for 9/11 — said this week that Alabama’s abortion ban had “gone too far.

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/05/alabama-abortion-ban-heartbeat-law-rape-incest-polls-republicans.html

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2019 in North America, Uncategorized

 

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Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind

There’s an anecdote that Ruth Wilson Gilmore likes to share about being at an environmental-justice conference in Fresno in 2003. People from all over California’s Central Valley had gathered to talk about the serious environmental hazards their communities faced, mostly as a result of decades of industrial farming, conditions that still have not changed. (The air quality in the Central Valley is the worst in the nation, and one million of its residents drink tap water more poisoned than the water in Flint, Mich.) There was a “youth track” at the conference, in which children were meant to talk about their worries and then decide as a group what was most important to be done in the name of environmental justice. Gilmore, a renowned geography professor (then at University of California, Berkeley, now at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan) and an influential figure in the prison-abolition movement, was a keynote speaker.

She was preparing her talk when someone told her that the kids wanted to speak with her. She went into the room where they were gathered. The children were primarily Latino, many of them the sons and daughters of farmworkers or other people in the agriculture industry. They ranged in age, but most were middle schoolers: old enough to have strong opinions and to distrust adults. They were frowning at her with their shoulders up and their arms crossed. She didn’t know these kids, but she understood that they were against her.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/magazine/prison-abolition-ruth-wilson-gilmore.html

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2019 in North America, Reportages

 

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WWF Funds Guards Who Have Tortured And Killed People

Down the road from the crocodile ponds inside Nepal’s renowned Chitwan National Park, in a small clearing shaded by sala trees, sits a jail. Hira Chaudhary went there one summer night with boiled green maize and chicken for her husband, Shikharam, a farmer who had been locked up for two days.

Shikharam was in too much pain to swallow. He crawled toward Hira, his thin body covered in bruises, and told her through sobs that forest rangers were torturing him. “They beat him mercilessly and put saltwater in his nose and mouth,” Hira later told police.

The rangers believed that Shikharam helped his son bury a rhinoceros horn in his backyard. They couldn’t find the horn, but they threw Shikharam in their jail anyway, court documents filed by the prosecution show.

Nine days later, he was dead.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tomwarren/wwf-world-wide-fund-nature-parks-torture-death

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2019 in Africa, Asia, Reportages

 

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