Tuesday, December 27, 2022

UN: 26 Rohingya refugees died at sea making perilous journey

    5:20 AM   No comments

 At least 26 Rohingya Muslims had died in dire conditions during a month at open sea while making a dangerous voyage that brought scores of others to safety in Indonesia, a U.N. agency said Tuesday, adding there will likely be more.

Exhausted women and children were among 185 people who disembarked from a rickety wooden boat on Monday in a coastal village in Aceh’s Pidie district, authorities said. A distressing video circulated widely on social media showed the Rohingya worn out and emaciated, with many crying for help.

“They are very weak because of dehydration and exhaustion after weeks at sea,” said local police chief Fauzi, who goes by a single name.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said that survivors told the agency that 26 people died during the long journey.

One of the refugees, who identified himself as Rosyid, told The Associated Press that they left the refugee camp in Bangladesh at the end of November and drifted on the open sea. He said at least “20 of us died aboard due to high waves and sick, and their bodies were thrown into the sea.”

According to UNHR, more than 2,000 people are reported to have taken risky sea journeys in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal this year, and nearly 200 have reportedly died.

UNHCR has also received unconfirmed reports of one additional boat with some 180 people still missing, with all passengers presumed dead.

Chris Lewa, the director of the Arakan Project, which works in support of Myanmar’s Rohingya, said the latest arrivals were among five groups of Rohingya who had left refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh by smaller boats to avoid detection by local coast guards before they were transferred onto five larger boats for their respective journeys.

Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and burning of thousands of homes belonging to minority Rohingya Muslims, sending them fleeing to Bangladesh and onward.

Malaysia has been a common destination for many of the refugees arriving by boat, but they also have been detained in the country. Engine troubles make others seek safety in Aceh province in Indonesia, on the way to Malaysia.

UNHCR praised authorities and Indonesia’s local community who brought ashore more than 200 desperate Rohingya, many of whom were in need of urgent medical attention.

Indonesian fishermen and local authorities rescued and disembarked two groups, 58 on Sunday and 174 on Monday, said Ann Maymann, the UNHCR representative in Indonesia, “We welcome this act of humanity by local communities and authorities in Indonesia.”

Friday, November 11, 2022

UN expert calls for lifting of long-lasting unilateral sanctions ‘suffocating’ Syrian people

    2:29 PM   No comments

 DAMASCUS/GENEVA (10 November) – UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights Alena Douhan today urged sanctioning States to lift unilateral sanctions against Syria, warning that they were perpetuating and exacerbating the destruction and trauma suffered by the Syrian people since 2011. 

“I am struck by the pervasiveness of the human rights and humanitarian impact of the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria and the total economic and financial isolation of a country whose people are struggling to rebuild a life with dignity, following the decade-long war,” Douhan said.

In a statement following her 12-day visit to Syria, the Special Rapporteur presented detailed information about the catastrophic effects of unilateral sanctions across all walks of life in the country.

Douhan said 90 per cent of Syria’s population was currently living below the poverty line, with limited access to food, water, electricity, shelter, cooking and heating fuel, transportation and healthcare and warned that the country was facing a massive brain-drain due to growing economic hardship.

“With more than half of the vital infrastructure either completely destroyed or severely damaged, the imposition of unilateral sanctions on key economic sectors, including oil, gas, electricity, trade, construction and engineering have quashed national income, and undermine efforts towards economic recovery and reconstruction.

The expert said blocking of payments and refusal of deliveries by foreign producers and banks, coupled with sanctions-induced limited foreign currency reserves have caused serious shortages in medicines and specialised medical equipment, particularly for chronic and rare diseases.  She warned that rehabilitation and development of water distribution networks for drinking and irrigation had stalled due to the unavailability of equipment and spare parts, creating serious public health and food security implications.

“In the current dramatic and still-deteriorating humanitarian situation as 12 million Syrians grapple with food insecurity, I urge the immediate lifting of all unilateral sanctions that severely harm human rights and prevent any efforts for early recovery, rebuilding and reconstruction,” Douhan said.

“No reference to good objectives of unilateral sanctions justifies the violation of fundamental human rights. The international community has an obligation of solidarity and assistance to the Syrian people.”

The Special Rapporteur also dealt with other issues showcasing the multifaceted negative impact of sanctions, including international cooperation in the areas of science, arts, sports, preservation of national cultural heritage and restitution of cultural artefacts, access to new technologies, cyberspace and online information platforms, criminality and regional/international security, as well as the issue of frozen foreign assets of Syrian financial institutions and other entities.

“I urge the international community and the sanctioning states in particular, to pay heed to the devastating effects of sanctions and to take prompt and concrete steps to address over-compliance by businesses and banks in accordance with international human right law,” she said.

“In the words of one of my interlocutors, echoing numerous others: ‘I saw much suffering, but now I see the hope die,’” Douhan said.

During her visit the UN expert met representatives from national and local government institutions, non-governmental organisations, associations, humanitarian actors, businesses, UN entities, academia, religious leaders and faith-based organisations, as well as the diplomatic community. In addition to the capital Damascus, she also visited Homs city, rural Homs, and rural Damascus.

The Special Rapporteur will present a report to the Human Rights Council in September 2023.


Ms Alena Douhan (Belarus) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights by the Human Rights Council in March 2020. Ms. Douhan has extensive experience in the fields of international law and human rights as, a Professor of international law at the Belarusian State University (Minsk), a visiting Professor at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed conflict, (Bochum, Germany) and the Director of the Peace Research Centre (Minsk). She received her PhD at the Belarusian State University in 2005 and obtained Dr. hab. in International Law and European Law in 2015 (Belarus).

Ms. Douhan’s academic and research interests are in the fields of international law, sanctions and human rights law, international security law, law of international organizations, international dispute settlement, and international environmental law.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Human Rights Slogans Have been used to mask Deep Racism in the West: The Case of Denmark

    7:11 AM   No comments

 Denmark is one of the Scandinavian countries that many dream of traveling to, either for tourism or immigration, because of its bewitching beauty and “good face”, but behind this beauty and goodness is a despicable ugliness and dark darkness that has covered these countries due to its unjustified behavior towards immigrants and non-Westerners and its fear of Muslims.

In Denmark, that open country, you find political parties - such as the Danish People's Party (DPP) - who raise the slogan "There is only one civilization; There are also those who fear the identity threat that comes with immigrants, and many suffer from the "Islamophobia" represented by Muslims.

Government and a history of racism

In 2001 a conservative liberal coalition came to power in Denmark, marking the first time that the right had obtained a political majority in 100 years. But this change would not have been possible without the support of the anti-immigration nationalist Danish People's Party, taking advantage of the context of the 9/11 attacks that fueled anti-Muslim hatred and shaped the political discourse of the Danish People's Party that led to the elections and their aftermath, further fueling anti-immigration sentiment. shrouded in fears of Islamophobia.

This generally anti-immigration and Islamophobia-fueled alliance held in power until its defeat in the 2011 elections. Although the Danish People's Party was not part of the cabinet, it cooperated closely with the ruling coalition on most issues and received support for key political positions in return. So much so that the government was generally referred to as "VKO-Government" with the letter O representing the Danish People's Party. This hard-line party also gave its support to the leader of the Liberal Party, Lars Rasmussen, who headed the government from 2016 to 2019 and again without participating in it.

In the 2019 general elections, the SPD, led by Mette Frederiksen, won an additional seat, while support for the Danish People's Party and the Liberal Alliance collapsed, costing Rasmussen her majority, and Frederiksen was appointed to head a minority government led by her party with the support of a number of other parties.

But this Frederiksen was no better off than her predecessors as her election slogans were anti-immigration, although she changed her stance on immigration briefly after her victory by allowing more foreign workers, and also rolled back the previous government's plans to detain foreign criminals abroad.

Hostility to "Syrian" immigrants and the policy of "zero asylum"

This apparent change in the Danish government's attitudes did not last long. In 2019, the Danish immigration services decided a strange decision that sparked a lot of controversy. It states that "the violence in Damascus has stopped and the Syrians can be sent back to their country."

Unlike the United Nations and the European Union, Denmark saw Syria as safe for refugees to return from, but because men can be drafted into the army, and older women often have children enrolled in Danish schools, the new policy has affected both the younger and older segments of refugees.

A Guardian report revealed that in 2019, the Danish government notified about 1,200 refugees from the city of Damascus not to renew their residency permits, considering the area safe, which prompted Amnesty International to announce that Syrian citizens whose residency permits have been revoked may face torture and disappearance. Forced and arbitrary detention upon their return to Syria.

Lisa Blinkenberg, Amnesty International Denmark, said Denmark's policy towards asylum seekers and refugees has become significantly more hostile in recent years, especially with Prime Minister Frederiksen's 2019 declaration that Denmark wants "zero asylum".

However, Denmark's "zero asylum" policy appears to apply only to Syrian refugees or any "non-Western" refugee.

Last March, the Danish Immigration Service asked 98 municipalities to assess their ability to receive Ukrainian refugees, and the same department had begun withdrawing residence permits from Syrian refugees, in an attempt to force them to return to Syria, which it considered that some places there had become safe, which caused In the separation of many Syrian families after years of residence in Denmark.

In the past few years, Denmark has been at the forefront of European countries in enacting “malicious” policies that prevent individuals from seeking asylum, and announced that its policy does not allow asylum at all, and on top of these policies is the so-called “jewelry law” that allows the government to confiscate the property of asylum seekers , including their jewelry, to finance their stay, and the Danish government made it clear that Ukrainian refugees would be exempted from this law.

This year, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance called on Denmark to urgently address discrimination against Muslims, racism against minorities, and stop forced evictions of migrant families.

The Commission has raised concerns about Denmark's many shortcomings, including hate speech by Danish political parties that largely stereotype Muslims, including legal foreign workers and immigrants, as a "threat to Danish values ​​and culture".

Exporting Asylum and Separating Families

This discriminatory policy against "non-Western" immigrants did not stop there. Rather, it went beyond the state's attempts to deport immigrants to other countries to get rid of their burdens.

In June 2021 Parliament passed a law enabling Denmark to transfer procedures for people seeking asylum and residence permits for refugees to non-European countries for examination of their cases, as part of Copenhagen's latest tough legislation against immigration.

Amnesty International revealed that between 2020 and 2021, the Danish government had contacts with the authorities in Egypt, Morocco, Rwanda and Tunisia. It also entered into negotiations with Kosovo regarding the use of prison cells for 300 people convicted of crimes and awaiting expulsion from Denmark; As part of their sentence.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned against exporting the asylum process, and Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, noted that such practices threaten the rights of those seeking safety and protection, discredit and punish them, and can put their lives at risk.

Denmark has also sought to complicate refugee family reunification, with the European Court of Human Rights finding last July that Denmark had violated its international human rights obligations by imposing a law extending the time a newly arrived refugee must wait before applying for family reunification. For 3 years, she said that this would affect about 4,000 Syrian refugees, considering that this violates the right to family life.

The Danish ghetto..a unique case of racism

These discriminatory policies in Denmark have been moved to a higher stage through what is known locally as the "ghetto list", a list announced by the government in December of each year that includes areas specific to certain groups of residents who it considers to live in isolation from their surroundings. The Danish ghetto list included 29 regions in 2019.

In a report by Amnesty International on Denmark last year, the organization accused Denmark of pursuing an unprecedented discriminatory policy aimed at reducing the number of residents of "non-Western backgrounds", particularly in ghettos.

The Danish government assumes that removing the non-white population from these communities will solve its problems, which was stated by the Danish Minister of Home Affairs and Housing in 2021 when he revealed plans to reduce the number of people of “non-Western backgrounds” in “ghetto” areas to less than 30% by 2030.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance denounced the government’s “ghetto” for separating immigrants into “Westerners” and “non-Westerners,” and said, “The package of policies approved by the Danish government to deal with ghetto gatherings is a pure recipe for discrimination, incitement and unnecessary punitive measures towards the ghetto areas in Denmark, which are Poor and fragile population areas, the majority of which are of non-Western races, face marginalization and exclusion from the government and decision-makers.

The Commission's report concluded that "the List has fueled xenophobia, racial prejudice and intolerance against vulnerable minorities through its flawed and discriminatory criteria targeting individuals of non-European races."

She further noted that the Danish Government's punitive policies are extreme and counterproductive, while their designation of minority areas as ghettos perpetuates stigmatization and exclusion in Danish society. According to the report, this designation violates the European Convention on Human Rights and European Union law regarding the rights to non-discrimination, equality and adequate housing, as well as the right to equality before the law and equal treatment before the courts.

UNHCR had previously asserted that "a society cannot defend human rights unless it defends the rights of every human being, including refugees, migrants, stateless persons, minorities and others", and Denmark is now far from being described as a defender of human rights.

In 2015 Representatives of Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland, in addition to Denmark, clarified their position rejecting the European Parliament's plan to distribute one hundred and sixty thousand refugees to the member states of the Union.

  The International Organization for Migration announced that more than 430,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean since the beginning of this year, most of them have arrived in Greece, most of them are Syrians, followed by Afghans.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Bahrain: Death Sentences Follow Torture, Sham Trials; Court Records Show Pervasive Rights Violations

    2:13 AM   No comments

(Beirut) – Bahraini courts have convicted and sentenced defendants to death following manifestly unfair trials, based solely or primarily on confessions allegedly coerced through torture and ill-treatment, Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said in a joint report released today.

The 61-page report, “‘The Court is Satisfied with the Confession’: Bahrain Death Sentences Follow Torture, Sham Trials,” based primarily on court records and other official documents, found serious and persistent human rights violations underlying the convictions and death sentences of cases of eight men examined for the report. The men are among 26 who are currently on death row, their appeals exhausted. Trial and appeal courts cavalierly dismissed credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment during interrogation instead of investigating them, as required by international and Bahraini law. The courts routinely violated defendants’ rights to fair trials, including the right to legal counsel during interrogation, the right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, and through reliance on secretly sourced reports.

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Monday, October 3, 2022

Inuit Greenlanders demand answers over Danish birth control scandal

    7:55 AM   No comments

 Denmark and Greenland have formally agreed to launch a two-year investigation into historic birth control practices carried out for many years on Inuit Greenlanders by Danish doctors.

Thousands of Inuit women and girls were fitted with an intrauterine device (IUD), commonly known as a coil, during the 1960s and 70s.

It is a contraceptive device placed inside the womb - or uterus - to prevent pregnancy.

Among the women and girls fitted with an IUD was Naja Lyberth.

It was in the 1970s that a doctor told Naja, who believes she was then aged about 13, to go to her local hospital to have a coil implanted following a routine school medical examination.

"I didn't really know what it [was] because he never explained or got my permission," says Naja, who at the time was living in Maniitsoq, a small town on Greenland's west coast.

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