2015 Human rights

Terrorism and freedom of speech

Charlie Hebdo 2015 Jan

Referring to a similar attack on our Western society 9/11 at the Charlie Hebdo 2015 January 7

In the wake of the horrific shooting at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, illustrators and cartoonists around the world came together in solidarity with the 12 artists and ordinary people who died in that event by doing what they do best – drawing cartoons that express their thoughts and emotions more eloquently than words ever could. You can find some of them in my article series “Being Charlie” showing the solidarity all over the world where everywhere sounded “Je suis Charlie”. Their messages ranged from anger and defiance to grief and hope, but there was a common thread. For lots of people around the world the attack at the office of the satire magazine was an infringement on the freedom of press. The Islamic fundamentalists made those in the West often hated cartoonists by many important figures, martyrs who championed the freedom of expression and of the press, which are some of the core elements of a free society.

Muslim fear for the writings of Western opinions and their attack on Charlie Hebdo

Muslim fear for the writings of Western opinions and their attack on Charlie Hebdo

After the terror-act there where papers which ere afraid to print the cartoon where it all started with.
In Thursday’s 2015 January 8, print edition, the Washington Post op-ed page published the controversial cartoon of Charlie Hebdo magazine spoofing the prophet Muhammad — the very piece of satire that prompted the 2011 fire-bombing of the publication’s Paris offices. (See a PDF of the full page here.) The cartoon depicted Muhammad saying,

100 lashes of the whip if you don’t die laughing.

That drawing and many others that align with its edgy and often offensive spirit may have motivated terrorists on Wednesday January the 7° to unleash a heinous and deadly attack that claimed the lives of 12 people. According to reports on the attack, the perpetrators could be heard saying,

“We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad.”

Washington Post on Charlie Hebdo attackThe Washington Post therefore wrote:

Samples of Charlie Hebdo’s work thus might appear critical to explaining this act of terrorism. Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of the Washington Post (and boss of the Erik Wemple Blog), said the following about his rationale for publishing the cartoon:

“I think seeing the cover will help readers understand what this is all about.”

But many mainstream U.S. media felt otherwise:
The Associated Press, CNN, the New York Times, MSNBC, NBC News and others have all shunned the images under one rationale or another.
The New York Times has an expansive explanation:

“Under Times standards, we do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities. After careful consideration, Times editors decided that describing the cartoons in question would give readers sufficient information to understand today’s story.”

That’s from an official statement provided to the Erik Wemple Blog. Newer media outlets like Gawker, the Daily Beast and BuzzFeed have published the images. {Washington Post opinions section publishes controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoon}

In other countries the reactions were similar some refusing to print cartoons about the matter, on the prophet or on the attack on their front page. By some it gave more the impression that they were afraid to offend or to make matters worse. But it clearly gave a sign that several people think that presenting and explaining what caused the attack on the magazine could endanger themselves and that by printing text instead of drawings it would be less offensive and less dangerous. This only confirmed that the use of a pencil or presenting a drawing has become more e dangerous in our society than putting it in words.

The New York Times has premised its refusal to republish the most controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons on the sensibilities of its readers:

“Under Times standards, we do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities. After careful consideration, Times editors decided that describing the cartoons in question would give readers sufficient information to understand today’s story.”

The New York paper also wrote:

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it:

If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.

This only proofs that in the United States a lot of people accept censor and prefer to silence people who think differently than them. {I Am Not Charlie Hebdo}

Americans seem not to stand it that Muslims, atheists or people form other opinions give criticism on their sanctified system. David Brooks of the opinion pages of the New York Times wrote:

Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.

Just look at all the people who have overreacted to campus micro-aggressions. The University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality. The University of Kansas suspended a professor for writing a harsh tweet against the N.R.A. Vanderbilt University derecognized a Christian group that insisted that it be led by Christians.

North Americans should come up with a less hypocritical approach to their own controversial figures, provocateurs and satirists and like all the Western civilised countries should allow different opinions exist next to each other.

As Bin Laden warned a few years ago:

In the US itself, there are dozens of well-organised and well-equipped groups, which are capable of causing a large-scale destruction. {interview with Osama bin Laden conducted by the Karachi daily — Ummat — and published on September 28, 2001, 17 days after the alleged, but unsubstantiated, al-Qaeda attack of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center twin towers and Pentagon.}

Osama Bin Laden saint or devil

Osama Bin Laden saint or devil

Already in the time of Bin Laden we could see that in many other countries there were very active fundamentalist Muslims. There are areas in all parts of the world where strong jihadi forces are present, from Indonesia to Algeria, from Kabul to Chechnya, from Bosnia to Sudan, and from Burma to Kashmir. Though we did not have to go far to find speakers against Western culture, looking for jihad fighters in Europe. Vilvoorde, Borgerhout (Belgium) and London got visiting imams calling to take on the battle against perversion. North America and Europe should be well aware of well-organised groups but also of the many fringe groups which would like to be affiliated with world terror organisations but are not.

We also should revise the way we want to tackle such groups and how we want to follow them up, at what for cost.

For sure the war against terrorism may not bring any restriction to the freedom of movement, thought, religion, expression and also not of freedom of press.

Michel Chossudovsky may have been right to write that the “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, which outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus.

The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.  {Paul Craig Roberts, Busting the OBL Myth}

The free press should do serious research and should be free to report what it can find and not be restricted like it was in the united States where America’s “free press” left the Karachi daily Ummat interview with Osama Bin Laden (published on September 28, 2001) unreported. Though at least you could say the interview was sensational, according to Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal and author of “Wirtschaft am Abgrund” (Economies In Collapse)who also wrote:

The alleged “mastermind” of 9/11 said that he and al-Qaeda had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. The British Broadcasting Corporation’s World Monitoring Service had the interview translated into English and made public on September 29, 2001. {Osama bin Laden Myth [1 of 2]}

Although only a few Americans are aware of the September 28, 2001 interview in which bin Laden states his non-involvement with the 9/11 attacks, many Americans have seen post-2001 videos in which a person alleged to be bin Laden takes credit for the attacks. When looking at those video’s and checking the value of some of those makers and blogwriters it seemed that they were not trustworthy. Experts who examined them found them to be fakes, and all of the videos appeared after bin Laden was reported by the Pakistan Observer, the Egyptian press, and Fox News, to have died in mid-December, 2001, from lung disease. {Bin Laden Already Dead; News of Bin Laden’s Death and Funeral – December 2001}
Naturally such death message could also been given to stop those looking for this major target of the War on Terror on whose head he FBI had placed a $25 million bounty on him in their search for him. According official American sources bin Laden was shot and killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1:00 am PKT (20:00 UTC, May 1) by U.S. Navy SEALs of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six). The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was carried out in a Central Intelligence Agency-led operation. Al-Qaeda confirmed the death on May 6 with posts made on militant websites, vowing to avenge the killing. Controversial and not helful to credit the action was the decision to not release any photographic or DNA evidence of bin Laden’s death to the public.

Information, indoctrination and des-information

It are such uncertainties and clouds over certain important matters which in the last few years have taken away the credibility of and trust in governmental sayings and have opened the way to a lot of speculation and different groups making use of it to des-inform plus to create fear by lots of folks in many countries worldwide.

After the attacks Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on European Jews to migrate to Israel to escape future terrorist attacks. Several European leaders criticised Netanyahu’s comments, including German chancellor Angela Merkel, who insisted that her government was doing everything possible to protect Jewish neighbourhoods in the aftermath of recent attacks in Paris and Copenhagen.  Also Prime minister Charles Michel in February made a plea to Belgian Jews to stay in the country rather than migrate to Israel. Speaking on the Flemish Radio station 1, he said that security measures to protect the Jewish community would remain in place even if the national terrorism threat level, which remained at three at that time, was lowered.

“Belgium without Jews is no longer Belgium. Europe without Jews is no longer Europe”.

the minister said, calling on them not to leave because they were afraid.

“The primary role of the state is to do everything in its power to keep citizens safe,”

he told Radio 1.

Michael Freilich, editor of the Antwerp-based Jewish newspaper Joods Actueel, said that the local community had mixed feelings about Netanyahu’s offer.

“On the one hand, it is encouraging,”

he said.

“Whatever happens, we know that we can always move there. But on the other hand, people here feel that they are Jewish and Belgian, not Israeli.”

In April the Flemish government approved an 11-point plan aimed at preventing young people from becoming indoctrinated by radical ideologies. The government began to evolve its strategy earlier this year following terrorist attacks in Paris and a foiled terror attack on Belgian soil.

Liesbet Homans, who originally proposed the plan, said that

“prevention is crucial in dealing with the radicalisation process. We want to offer everyone concerned – from local authorities to social workers to teachers to parents – a maximum of support when they are confronted with people who are at high risk of becoming radicalised”.

Discrimination and sexual health policies

Ghent was the first Belgian city to adopt a comprehensive action plan to combat discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, religion, age or disability. They use undercover researchers – known as mystery shoppers – to expose discrimination by companies, landlords and employment agencies.

The city has turned to the university to ensure that its methods for detecting discrimination are rigorous.

“The key problem with discrimination is ensuring that complaints are legitimate,”

Equal opportunities councillor of the city Gent Resul Tapmaz

said equal opportunities councillor Resul Tapmaz.

“By employing scientific methods, we can build up a picture of discrimination.”

In April, Belgium’s international development minister, Alexander De Croo (Open VLD), gave a speech at the United Nations Commission on Population and Development in New York, which was chaired by Belgium. He held Belgium up as an example to follow in protecting the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people. He pointed out that Belgium was one of the first countries in the world, along with the Netherlands, to legalise marriage for same-sex couples.

“Discrimination against LGBTs has far-reaching repercussions,”

he said.

“How can we ever achieve efficient sexual health policies when certain groups are deliberately excluded from society?”

Belgium’s international development minister, Alexander De Croo, defending the rights of women, gays, lesbians and transgender people in a speech at the United Nations in New York, April 2015

De Croo pushed for sexual and reproductive health rights to be incorporated into the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Goals when they expire at the end of this year.

The Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post 2015 Development Agenda (IGN) began in January 2015 and ended in August 2015. Following the negotiations, a final document was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit September 25–27, 2015 in New York, USA. The title of the agenda is Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Flemish parliament has approved a new role for the Flemish ombudsman, Bart Weekers, making him head of the new “gender police” tasked with handling complaints of gender-related discrimination.

The European Union introduced a rule that obliges all member states to set up committees to monitor and promote equal treatment. The federal government body is the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men; Flanders had no corresponding body.

“By increasing the scope of the Flemish ombudsman, we are meeting the demands of Europe,

said Matthias Diependaele (N-VA), who proposed the resolution.

“As of now, anyone with a gender-related complaint can report directly to the ombudsman as an independent party.”

In March women leaders from every continent, brought together by U.N. Women and the Chilean government, demanded that gender equality be a cross-cutting target in the post-2015 development agenda. Only that way, they say, can the enormous inequality gap that still affects women and children around the world be closed.

“We celebrate that there has been progress in these last twenty years (since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing) in this area…and the evidence is all the people around who came, shared their experiences, the good, the bad, the struggle ahead, the challenges ahead,”

U.N. Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri said.

And while

“some countries have made no progress at all, some countries, some progress, and some countries better progress, no country has reached what we should need to reach,”

she added.

In addition to other forms of discrimination, lesbian and bisexual women in Cuba faced unequal treatment from public health services. Their specific sexual and reproductive health needs are ignored, and they are invisible in prevention and treatment campaigns for women. There is still a prejudice against lesbian and bisexual women among the country’s health personnel, and ignorance about their particular sexual health needs.

Training health professionals to be sensitive to sexual diversity has been a long-established demand by groups of lesbian women supported by CENESEX in the provinces of Camagüey, Ciego de Ávila, Cienfuegos, Granma, La Habana, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad and Villa Clara.

Through community activism, these groups are struggling for their rights to responsible enjoyment of sexual health, including equality of treatment in the health services and access to assisted reproduction technology.

Gender equality and work

Gender equality is now widely recognised as an essential component for sustainable development goals in the post-2015 agenda, with empowerment of rural women vital to enabling poor people to improve their livelihoods and overcome poverty.

2015’s International Women’s Day, celebrated worldwide on Mar. 8, marked the 20th anniversary of the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995), which called on governments, the international community and civil society from all over the world to empower women and girls by taking action in 12 critical areas: poverty, education and training, health, violence, armed conflict, the economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, human rights, the media, the environment and the girl child.

Despite that call, much still remains to be done to overcome the difficulties women – particularly rural women – face in terms of mobility and political participation.

“Too often, rural women are doing the backbreaking work,”

Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said on the occasion.

“To improve women’s social and economic status, we need more recognition for the vital role they play in the rural economy. Let us all work together to empower women to achieve food and nutrition security – for their sake, and the sake of their families and communities.”

A large body of research indicates that putting more income into the hands of women translates into improved child nutrition health and education in all developing regions of the world.

Explaining why women and men need to be involved together to move forward on nutrition, Britta Schumacher, a WFP Programme Policy Officer, described how the Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger and Undernutrition (REACH) programme had been able to tackle malnutrition and health problems using an approach based on positive gender-oriented objectives.

Flag of WHO.svgThe REACH programme – a joint initiative of FAO, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WFP and the World Health Organisation (WHO) – is based on the human right to nutrition security and seeks to transform the way governments and donors approach investment in nutrition to leverage existing investments most effectively and systematically identify priorities for additional investments needed to scale up.

Noting that “the long girls stay at school, the better is their health” because

“lack of awareness represents a concrete obstacle to good practices,”

Schumacher said that in Bangladesh activities had been carried out under the REACH programme to transfer knowledge within and between members of communities and local authorities, boost rural women’s access to services and strengthen their self-esteem.

The absence of women and women’s issues in the media is a dangerous trend in a country that ranked 142nd out of 187 states in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s most recent Gender Inequality Index (GII), making Bangladesh one of the worst performers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Yet, even this is not mentioned in the news: the BNPS study showed that less than one percent of over 3,000 news items surveyed made any mention of gender inequality, while only 11 news stories challenged prevailing gender stereotypes.

Given that Bangladesh has an extremely low literacy rate of 59 percent compared to the global average of 84.3 percent, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the importance of radio cannot be underestimated.

Even in a nation where 24 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, radio is a widespread, relatively affordable means of plugging into the world, and is extremely popular among the millions of rural families that comprise the bulk of this country.

Repealing discriminatory laws

During a High-Level Core Group event on September 29 secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the importance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights.

The politically-sensitive issue also came up during the high-level segment of the General Assembly, when President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe highlighted the need to respect and uphold human rights while rejecting LGBTI rights.

Speaking during the 70th session of the U.N. General Assembly, he pointedly said:

“We…reject attempts to prescribe ‘new rights’ that are contrary to our values, norms, traditions and beliefs.”

President Mugabe has been vocal about the country’s anti-LGBT stance, describing LGBTI individuals as “worse than pigs, goats and birds” during a rally on July 23, 2013.

The government of Saudi Arabia also rejected any references to homosexuality during the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit Sep. 25 to 27.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told world leaders that

“mentioning sex in the text, to us, means exactly male and female. Mentioning family means consisting of a married man and woman.”

Similar reservations regarding LGBTI rights were expressed by several member States during the creation of the SDGs.

For instance, in the report of the Open Working Group on SDGs, Cameroon rejected any policies or reporting for SDG 5.6, which

“will include or tend to include, explicitly or implicitly, the concepts of sexual orientation, gender identity, same-sex couples.”

U.N. agencies specifically urge governments to repeal discriminatory laws, strengthen efforts to prevent, monitor and report violence against LGBTI individuals, and ensure the inclusion of LGBTI individuals in development.

“Failure to uphold the human rights of LGBTI people and protect them…constitute serious violations of international human rights law and have a far-reaching impact on society…and progress towards achievement of the future Sustainable Development Goals,”

declared the U.N. agencies.

In Zimbabwe, anti-gay legislation had already hindered LGBTI-related efforts including the eradication of HIV/AIDS under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

According to the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Zimbabwe has one of the largest HIV rates in the world, with an estimated 15 percent of residents living with HIV.

Refugees and asylum seekers

In august Fedasil, the federal agency for the support of asylum-seekers, was hiring 130 new staff to help cope with the stream of new asylum-seekers after staff at the agency staged a protest against staff shortages.

2015 has been a challenging year for refugees around the world and for the UNHCR team which had to face major conflicts in Syria, Iraq and central Africa that have displaced more families than ever before. A million people have risked their lives, crossing the sea to Europe to seek refuge from war and violence, and today in the world one in every 122 people has been forced to flee their home.

The bad old days of the 1980s and 1990s when Burundi was widely considered a police state did  make a comeback. Some 300,000 people lost their lives in the country’s civil war from the 1990s to 2003, which broke out following the death of the country’s first democratically elected president. In 2015 a militarized youth wing of the ruling party was responsible for extrajudicial killings including beheadings.

In June human rights groups were calling for a sustainable solution to the migrant crisis in Europe, especially following the dismantling of refugee camps in Paris and Calais, France, at the end of May.

Activists and migrants protest evictions in Paris. Credit: Amnesty International France

Activists and migrants protest evictions in Paris. Credit: Amnesty International France

Amnesty International, present as observer during the eviction of migrants from a Paris park, at the Bois Dormoy in the city’s 18th district, said that the state needs to do more to find housing solutions for migrants who have been sleeping on the street and in public parks.

“The state can evict people for various reasons, but migrants also have rights,”

told Stephan Oberreit, director general of Amnesty International France.

“If the state informed people, explained the regulations and offered decent shelters, then that would be fine,”

he added.

“But this is not the case. They are not providing enough shelters for migrants and asylum seekers.”

Nearing the end of the year 1 million refugees had entered Europe and globally there were 60 million refugees. They would make the 23rd country of the world. But refugees are coming not only from war, but also because of sex discrimination (homosexuals in Africa, girls in Boko Harama and Yazhid territories); religions (just think of the Rohinga in Myanmar); climate refugees.

But we must be aware that there are many more refugees because the world counts many not as refugees. Today, somebody from Yemen for example, is not accepted as a refugee.

Yet there is a war, which is destroying its cities, under Saudi bombing. And Europe sticks to the definition of refugee as somebody escaping conflicts, then decides which conflicts are acceptable? And what about economic migrants, who escape hunger, not war? Does the distinction between refugees and immigrants make sense any longer?

writes Roberto Savio, founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

A world out of balance, landownership, jobless and jobs

Our world is out of balance. It is both wealthier and more unequal today than at any time since the Second World War.

We are recovering from a global economic crisis – but that recovery has been jobless. We have the largest cohort ever of educated women, yet globally women are struggling to find work. Unemployment rates are at historic highs in many countries, including those in the Middle East and North Africa, in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as in southern Europe.

Where women do have jobs, globally they are paid 24 per cent less than men, on average. For the most part, the world’s women are in low-salaried, insecure occupations, like small-scale farming, or as domestic workers – a sector where they comprise 83 per cent of the workforce.

Dilma Vana Rousseff, Brazilian economist and politician, as 36th President of Brazil first woman to hold the office

Dilma Vana Rousseff, Brazilian economist and politician, as 36th President of Brazil first woman to hold the office

In Brazil, the largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years andone of the countries with the highest concentration of land ownership in the world, some 200,000 peasant farmers still have no plot of their own to farm – a problem that the first administration of President Dilma Rousseff did little to resolve? During the first presidency of Rousseff, whose second term started on Jan. 1, 2015, “land ownership has become even more concentrated.”

The West continued to make Israel the artificial hegemonic power in the region against the will of everyone who is native to the area, which made that the West lost all credibility among Arabs, all moral standing and nearly all hope of ever restoring either.

An organisation founded in 1996 called the Jewish Voice for Peace has endorsed a call from Palestinians for a boycott of Israel, divestment of economic ties, and sanctions (on the order of those imposed on Iran and Russia) to encourage Israel to end its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied since 1967.

On February 20, 2015, JVP published a statement moving from its former position of supporting selective divestment, to a full endorsement of the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel until the Israeli government respects the rights of Palestinians.

Explaining the change in position on their website, JVP wrote:

JVP has long participated in the global movement to hold Israel accountable through nonviolent economic pressure, and we’ve done so by focusing on Occupation-specific targets including corporations as well as academic and cultural institutions. Today, the idea that there is a clear economic, political, or social separation between “Israel” and “the occupation,” has been widely discredited.

The JVP urges Israel to dismantle the grotesque wall they have built to keep the Palestinians out of territory that was once theirs; to recognise Palestinians as citizens of Israel with equal rights; and to recognise the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties in Israel as stipulated in U.N . Resolution 194.

The argument that we are fighting ISIS because they threaten our democracy is absurdly infantile. That’s another of those political throwaways we hear because our leaders think we’re all simpletons who can’t figure things out for ourselves. {Opinion: The Middle East and Perpetual War}

If we look at the headlines or certain horrifying YouTube clips, like the one from March 8 – International Women’s Day –, it may seem that 2015 was once again a bad time to celebrate equality for women.

But alongside the stories of extraordinary atrocity and everyday violence lies another reality, one where more girls are in school and more are earning qualifications than ever before; where maternal mortality is at an all-time low; where more women are in leadership positions, and where women are increasingly standing up, speaking out and demanding action.

Looking today at the slow and patchy progress towards equality, it seems that we were madly ambitious to expect to wipe out in 20 years a regime of gender inequality and outright oppression that had lasted in some cases for thousands of years. Also concerning the equality for those who have other feelings than others it has been a problem year, with many homosexuals being terrorised, tortured and killed.

Slaves, child-labour and child soldiers

 Indian children's rights and education advocate and an activist against child labour Kailash Satyarthi

Indian children’s rights and education advocate and an activist against child labour Kailash Satyarthi

Child labour still remains a truly global problem hurting millions of children worldwide. The 2014 the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi called for globalised human compassion to combat the global and persistent problems of child labour and child slavery. Two years after Rana Plaza tragedy, rights abuses still rampant in Bangladesh’s garment sector.

In South Asia 250,000 children, some as young as four, work up to eighteen hours a day tying knots for rugs that are exported to the U.S. and Europe.

In Haiti, UNICEF estimates that 225,000 children, mostly girls, between the ages of five and 17 live as ‘restaveks’, live-in domestic servants with wealthier families.

In the Central African Republic, even after Séléka and anti-balaka representatives signed a ceasefire agreement in Brazzavill on 23 July 2014, the U.N. reports there are some 6,000 child soldiers, including young girls used as sex slaves.

Worldwide more than half of all child labourers work in agriculture, including in the United States where Human Rights Watch reports children working on tobacco farms are exposed to nicotine poisoning.

In total, the International Labor Organization reports that there are 168 million children in child labour, and that more than half of them, 85 million, are in hazardous work.

Satyarthi said that behind every single statistic there is a cry for freedom from a child that we are not listening to.

“That is the cry to be a child, a child who can play, a child who can love, a child who can be a child,”

he said.

Satyarthi contrasted the number of children in full time work with the 200 million adults who are jobless worldwide. He explained that addressing this imbalance was a complex issue, in part because in vulnerable populations children were seen as easier to exploit than adults.

Satyarthi also expressed concern that while progress has been made on child labour, the more heinous crime of child slavery has stagnated.

“The number of child slaves, the children in forced labour has not reduced at all”

He said the number of child slaves worldwide had stagnated at 5.5 million for the past fifteen years.

Susan Bissell, UNICEF Chief of Child Protection said,

“The first line of defense against falling victim to slavery is the child and his or her family.”

We can not accept that some children are born to live without human dignity and we all should be more aware of our duty to take care that everybody everywhere in the world can live in dignity. Therefore we all should take up our moral responsibility.

The “Children, not Soldiers” campaign has accomplished its purpose as a rallying cry to make the issue of child soldiers a top concern of the international community. “How can we help?” was the question asked by officials from dozens of countries, NGOs, partners from the U.N. system, regional organisations and many more.

Officials from countries involved in the campaign have also met with representatives from other countries who ended the use of child soldiers in their armies. These were opportunities to share experiences, successes and challenges.

This is positive, but the campaign’s first year has also shown that goodwill and commitments with the U.N. are not enough to guarantee that children will not become soldiers.

Action plans and protection of children

The conflict in South Sudan is a cruel reminder that acting on provisions included in an Action Plan, such as the establishment of child protection units in a country’s armed forces, or taking steps to criminalise the recruitment of children is not enough to guarantee that boys and girls will be fully protected if conflict strikes again.

In Yemen, months of work leading to the signature of an Action Plan in May 2014 have been derailed by the current political situation. Instead of the anticipated progress, data gathered by the U.N. indicates a spike in the recruitment of child soldiers by all parties to the conflict. The Houthis declared themselves in control of the government in what Abdul-Malik al-Houthi called a “glorious revolution”, although opposition politicians, neighbouring states, and the United Nations decried the takeover as a coup d’état.
Hadi called on government institutions to gather in Aden, which he proclaimed on 21 March 2015 was Yemen’s “economic and temporary capital” while Sana’a remains under Houthi control.

Even the armed group Al-Houthi Ansar Allah, whose leaders were actively engaged in dialogue with the U.N., have reneged on their commitment to protect children.

Recognition of indigenous people

Nearly three years after the rights of El Salvador’s indigenous people were recognised in the constitution, there are still no public policies and laws to translate that historic achievement into reality.

Though in June 2014 the single-chamber legislature ratified a constitutional reform passed in April 2012 which acknowledged new rights of native peoples in this Central American nation, nearly three years after the rights of El Salvador’s indigenous people were recognised in the constitution, there are still no public policies and laws to translate that historic achievement into reality.

Behind bars for faith

In Helsinki on November 15  to advance the engagement of traditional leaders in peace processes and share tools and methods that support religious and traditional peacemaking the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) a core member of the Network, which is composed of intergovernmental organisations, policy makers, civil society and faith-based organisations which work together to support religious and traditional peacemakers working at the local and national level, convened an Advisory Meeting.

According to King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), based in Vienna, its secretary-general Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Bin Muaammar there would be no such thing as a religious conflict. Strange hearing this from an organisation which has further goals of promoting human rights, justice, peace and reconciliation that also says it is acting against the abuse of religion as a means to justify oppression, violence and conflict; promoting abiding societal cherishment for the preservation and sacredness of holy sites, as well as respect for religious symbols; including focusing on compassionate issues pertaining to: the dignity of human life, preservation of the environment, ethical matters, poverty alleviation and religious education. they believe that religion is an enabler of respect and reconciliation and that dialogue among people of different religions and cultures is the path to lasting peace and social cohesion.

The Network has streamlined its work and clarified its focus areas under four clusters. These clusters include peace support, inclusivity, thematic expertise on preventing violent extremism, and methods and tools.  During the meeting, the participating organizations shared their needs and commitments regarding each cluster and planned collaborative action in 2016. Participants also examined peace support based on experience in Libya and Myanmar, where general elections were held on 8 November 2015, but NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi constitutionally is barred from the presidency. In-depth discussions on these case study countries was enabled by the panellists’ first-hand experience of peacebuilding in these countries.

The interfaith organization that represents the three major religions within the country, and promotes dialogue as a preventive measure against religious violence and as a means to seek peace, the Interreligious Platform of the Central African Republic had its three religious leaders agreeing to work together to address the growing instability in the Central African Republic, where 52 percent is Protestant, 29 percent Catholic and 15 percent Muslim, representing 96 percent of the total population.

In this country, in the heart of Africa, that is ravaged by violence, politicians tried to manipulate religious leaders as well as the population which was experiencing the worst crisis in its history.

Muslim, Catholic and Protestant religious leaders have worked in unison for peace since 2012 . All this effort came to fruition in September with the Day of Peace, which took place in Bangui as part of an international week of peace.

said Pastor Nicolas Guérékoyaméné-Gbangou, who continued

Christians, Muslims and non-believers enter into dialogue all the time, on a regular basis. It is the politicians who use the armed groups to prevent this dialogue. Even so, we believe there will come a time when the armed groups will grow tired of fighting; they will weaken and lay down their arms.

Using the force of words, we religious leaders will disarm the violent hearts, so that one day it may once again be possible to live together in peace in the Central African Republic.

They have continued to persuade Muslims, Catholics and Protestants to avoid further violence and revenge amongst their religious communities.

The requested dialogues seem to have become even more difficult in 2015 and even went to a climax to the end of 2015 in Saudi Arabia where  in January a religious leader would be beheaded, starting a fight between Sunnis and Shiites.

Sheikh Nemer Baqir Al-Nemer by Talkhandak.jpg

Portrait of Sheikh Nimr a Shia Sheikh in al-Awamiyah, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia.

Shiite leaders in countries including Iran, Lebanon and Iraq issued several times fierce warnings that the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, commonly referred to as Sheikh Nimr, who was critical of the Saudi Arabian government and called for free elections in Saudi Arabia being arrested in 2012, would herald the downfall of the Saudi regime. European officials criticized the mass executions and warned that Nimr’s death risking inflaming sectarian tensions in the region.

The Brussels-based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l, registered since 2001 as an association without lucrative purpose, identified the highest number of believers imprisoned for exercising their basic rights to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in China and Iran.

In most of the 50 countries on the World Watch List, daily life for the Christian is getting more difficult.

Number 1 in the list for the 13th consecutive year is North Korea, where purges have seen tens of thousands of people banished, arrested, tortured and/or killed and where the kidnapping and arrest of South Korean missionary Kim Jeong-Wook saw dozens of people (presumably Christians) rounded up, tortured and murdered.

For Africa Kenya is the big riser, where Somalia stays at second place, while Sudan, Eritrea and Nigeria all entered the top ten. All in Africa we notice the Islamic extremism bringing horror to people. Though we must not think it is only from violent jihadists like Boko Haram, but also from Islamists who ‘squeeze’ local Christian communities and seek to take over cultures by stealth.

In Syria, for example, some 40 per cent of the Christian population has fled the country; while in Nigeria, Boko Haram militants have attacked Christian communities and abducted their schoolchildren. In Iraq the ultra-violent jihadist ‘Islamic State‘ group has destroyed long-established Christian communities. In Sudan, a pregnant woman was sentenced to death on charges of adultery and apostasy from Islam and only released after serious international pressure.

In China the government still focusses on the Uyghur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists, treating them as dangerous groups for the stability in the country. Unregistered religious groups—including house churches, Falun Gong, Tibetan Buddhists, underground Catholics, and Uyghur Muslims—face varying degrees of harassment, including imprisonment, torture, and forced religious conversion.

Coming back to the beginning of this article, in response to the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting Chinese state-run media attacked Charlie Hebdo for publishing the cartoons insulting Muhammad, with the state-run Xinhua advocated limiting freedom of speech, while another state-run newspaper Global Times said the attack was “payback” for what it characterised as Western colonialism and accusing Charlie Hebdo of trying to incite a clash of civilizations.

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Preceding:

Summary for the year 2015 # 2 Strewn with corpses and refugees

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Further background reading

  1. Cartoonists put pen to paper in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo
  2. Being Charlie 2
  3. Being Charlie 3
  4. Being Charlie 4
  5. Being Charlie 5
  6. Being Charlie 9
  7. Abdelhamid Abaaoud brain of Molenbeek’s network dismantled in their hideaway at Verviers
  8. Washington Post opinions section publishes controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoon
  9. Osama bin Laden Myth [1 of 2]
  10. Osama bin Laden Myth [2 of 2]
  11. Full text of Pope Francis’ Interview with ‘La Vanguardia’
  12. Fedasil takes on 130 new staff to cope with asylum demands
  13. Women Leaders Call for Mainstreaming Gender Equality in Post-2015 Agenda
  14. Rousseff’s Brazil – No Country for the Landless
  15. Opinion: A Year of Progress for “Children, Not Soldiers”
  16. Empower Rural Women for Their Dignity and Future
  17. In Bangladesh, Gender Equality Comes on the Airwaves
  18. U.N. Marks Humanitarian Day Battling Its Worst Refugee Crisis
  19. Opinion: Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016: Transforming Economies, Realising Rights
  20. Making the World’s Indigenous Visible in the SDGs
  21. Anti-gay Sentiment Arises During the U.N. General Assembly
  22. Paris attacks darkening the world
  23. Paris, the Refugees and Europe
  24. Ethiopia: The Biggest African Refugee Camp No One Talks About
  25. London an exaggerated microcosm of the UK at large
  26. Vile, Fascist ‘Britain First group’ visits Lancashire mosque
  27. Americans wrongly informed about situation in Europe
  28. Netanyahu Election Tactics Spark Apology and Rebuke
  29. Lacking legitimacy in the eyes of his people
  30. Silence of the world about rocket attacks on Israel
  31. Wrong choices made to get rid of Assad
  32. Problematic Or Patriotic? Two Ways To Talk About Muslims
  33. If Europe fails on the question of refugees, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for
  34. Are people willing to take the responsibility for others
  35. The New gulf of migration and seed for far right parties
  36. Paris World Summit of Conscience, International interfaith gathering #3
  37. Women’s Groups Say Gender Equality is a Must for Sustainable Development
  38. Can We Pay The Price To Free Humanity?
  39. Disintegrating Syria whilst diplomatic talks and poker-play continues
  40. Complaining and fighting asylum seekers not giving signs of thankfulness
  41. bORDER-Gastrofest
  42. Consequences of Mass Immigration in Sweden
  43. Asylum seekers crisis and Europe’s paralysis
  44. A former war refugee’s views on the current refugee crisis
  45. Model Knesset in Sao Paulo, Brazil
  46. Netanyahu Election Tactics Spark Apology and Rebuke
  47. Lacking legitimacy in the eyes of his people
  48. Israeli leaders delight in Europe’s cruelty toward refugees
  49. Human Rights Without Frontiers International – Behind Bars For Their Faith in 20 Countries
  50. International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue
  51. Britain & ‘The House of Saud’
  52. Saudi government beheads, people protest
  53. Behind Saudi Arabia’s execution spree
  54. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr’s Death and the Frailty of the Middle East
  55. Saudi Arabia has little to worry about – no state has the moral authority or will to attack this butchery
  56. Refugee news update
  57. Argentina Finds Its Voice on Human Rights
  58. UN monitor on Palestine quits over Israel’s entry denial
  59. Post #103: Terrorism, American Style
  60. Standing with our Muslim Neighbors Against Islamophobia
  61. Wake up – Amurica
  62. Iraq Atrocities: The UK’s “Independent” Inquiry
  63. “5 European leaders who are kindred spirits with Donald Trump”

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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
This entry was posted in Armoede, History, News and Politics, Religion, Visuals (Video, Photo, Cartoon), World and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to 2015 Human rights

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