Closing the week 44 – Featuring Human Rights

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Human Rights

Lost in Transit | Human Rights Watch

Insufficient Protection for Unaccompanied Migrant Children at Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport
October 29, 2009

In this 60-page report, Human Rights Watch concludes that France’s system of detaining and deporting unaccompanied migrant children who arrive in Paris by air puts them at serious risk.

“We Are Afraid to Even Look for Them” | Human Rights Watch

Enforced Disappearances in the Wake of Xinjiang’s Protests
October 20, 2009

This 44-page report documents the enforced disappearances of 43 Uighur men and teenage boys who were detained by Chinese security forces in the wake of the protests.

Iraq: Bring Bombers to Justice | Human Rights Watch

Iraq: Bring Bombers to Justice
October 28, 2009

“No political goal or grievance can legitimize any such assault…This widespread and indiscriminate killing is reprehensible and morally indefensible.”
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director

(New York) – Devastating bomb attacks in Baghdad on October 25, 2009, were an assault on the fundamental principle of respect for life, and Iraqi authorities have a duty to ensure that anyone found to have contributed to their execution is apprehended and brought to justice, Human Rights Watch said today.

Libya: Drop Charges against Journalist | Human Rights Watch

The Libyan government should investigate allegations of sexual harassment in a state-run residence for women who had been orphaned instead of charging the journalist who reported the story with criminal defamation, Human Rights Watch said today.

Israeli Organ Trafficking and Theft: From Moldova to Palestine

Israeli Organ Trafficking and Theft: From Moldova to Palestine
By Alison Weir

In August Sweden’s largest daily newspaper published an article containing grisly evidence suggesting that Israel had been taking Palestinian internal organs. The article, by veteran photojournalist Donald Bostrom, called for an international investigation to discover the facts.1

[In this photograph taken March 22, 2007, Vasile Dimineti holds a picture of his 24-year-old son, who died a year after selling his kidney. The family lives in the impoverished Moldovan village of Mingir, where about 40 of its 7,000 residents are thought to have sold a kidney. AFP photo/Daniel Mihailescu/Files]

In this photograph taken March 22, 2007, Vasile Dimineti holds a picture of his 24-year-old son, who died a year after selling his kidney. The family lives in the impoverished Moldovan village of Mingir, where about 40 of its 7,000 residents are thought to have sold a kidney. AFP photo/Daniel Mihailescu/Files

Israel immediately accused Bostrom and the newspaper of “anti-Semitism,” and charged that suggesting Israelis could be involved in the illicit removal of body parts constituted a modern “blood libel” (medieval stories of Jews killing people for their blood).2

Numerous Israeli partisans repeated these accusations, including Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin, who asserted that the story was “merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of European funded and promoted anti-Israel hate.”3 Others suggested that the newspaper was “irresponsible” for running such an article.4

The fact is, however, that Israeli organ harvesting—sometimes with Israeli governmental funding and the participation of high Israeli officials, prominent Israeli physicians, and Israeli ministries—has been documented for many years.

Saudi Arabia: King Overturns 60-Lashes Verdict Against Journalist | Human Rights Watch

The swift action today by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to overturn a sentence of 60 lashes against a Saudi television producer sent an important message to the country’s courts, Human Rights Watch said today. King Abdullah should also overturn the sentence against the man at the center of the case, who had spoken about sex on a television show, and initiate reforms to strengthen the rights to freedom of expression and to a fair trial, Human Rights Watch said.

Iran: Overturn Death Sentences, Other Unfair Convictions | Human Rights Watch

The Iranian Judiciary should immediately quash the convictions that have been handed down by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran since the end of September against defendants accused of inciting post-election unrest, Human Rights Watch said today. The convictions all stem from unfair trials in which the accused were denied access to lawyers.

Ramzy Baroud: Abbas and the Goldstone Report

Those who hoped that the Israeli atrocities in Gaza would rekindled a sense of remorse among the egotistical elites in Ramallah, were surely disappointed when the PA withdrew its draft resolution supporting recommendations made by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. The Goldstone report is the most comprehensive, and transparent investigation as of yet into what happened in Gaza during the 23-day war. It decried Israeli terror, and chastised Palestinians as well. But the focus on Israel undoubtedly and deservingly occupied much of the nearly 600-page report. The next step was for the Human Rights Council to send the report for consideration to the United Nations Security Council, which was to study the findings for a possible referral of the case to the International Criminal Court e in the Hague. Such a move would have been historic. Knowing the full implications of such a possibility, Hamas accepted the report’s recommendations in full. Israel, backed by its traditional US ally, rejected it, leveling all sorts of accusations and insults on the world-renowned Jewish judge.

How the UN vote on the Goldstone Report could help Israeli-Palestinian peace | Marc Lynch

The UN Human Rights Council has passed by a large majority (25-6) a resolution endorsing the findings of the Goldstone Report on the Gaza war. It plans to send its recommendations to the General Assembly and to ask the Security Council to monitor the recommended independent probes of the report’s allegations. While the U.S. and five others voted no, it was extremely striking that several major powers — including the UK and France — refrained from voting. Pakistan, our crucial ally in the Afghanistan mission, voted in favor along with Egypt and 23 others. The Israeli government is outraged, and the level of rhetoric is hotter than ever.

What was the Obama administration thinking with the Goldstone report? | Marc Lynch

I’m still trying to figure out the thinking behind the Obama administration’s rapid moves to block the Goldstone report on the Gaza war. Without even getting into the moral issues involved or the accuracy of the report, the most likely tactical considerations behind the administration’s decision seem short-sighted. Its move likely responded to the intense public and private Israeli campaign against the report, and probably aimed at winning back some positive relations with the Israelis and maintaining momentum on the peace process.

PA ‘won’t oppose war crimes trials for Hamas militants’ – Haaretz – Israel News

Goldstone slams UN council for ignoring Hamas war crimes

South African jurist Richard Goldstone, who headed the United Nations investigation over the Gaza offensive, criticized on Friday the Human Rights Council’s decision to endorse the report his commission had compiled.

Goldstone told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps before the vote that the wording of the resolution was unfortunate because it included only censure of Israel. He voiced hope that the Human Rights Council would alter the wording of the draft.

Think Tank: new ideas from the 21st Century: Your honour is taking an injudicious kick at Israel – Times Online

Judge Richard Goldstone’s condemnatory report on Israel’s actions in Gaza has been dismissed as hopelessly one-sided by neutral observers — The Economist, for example, denounced the report’s “wilful blindness”. Goldstone’s “thimbleful of poison” has, it says, made the peace process all the harder.

Who Is Richard Goldstone? – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2009

The UN Human Rights Council has endorsed Judge Richard Goldstone’s controversial report accusing both Israel and Hamas of war crimes during the 2008-09 conflict in the Gaza Strip. The council has asked the UN Security Council to refer the report’s conclusions to the International Criminal Court if the two sides fail to conduct their own investigations.

Goldstone’s report has been dismissed as hopelessly one-sided not only by the Israelis but by many neutral observers, with both the European Union and United States dissenting both on its substance and its suggestion that alleged Israeli war crimes should be judged not by Israeli courts but by the International Criminal Court.

Goldstone, Israel’s Frankenstein’s monster – Haaretz – Israel News

I put off reading the Goldstone report the same way I put off scheduling a colonoscopy. I now realize it was for many of the same reasons. You know it’s going to be tremendously uncomfortable, you don’t want to know what they’re going to find, and the consequences could be life-threatening. I know that I am not alone. Despite the many people who have made strident declarations about the report, few have actually read it, end to end.

ZNet – Gaza Q&A

List of Questions

Click on a section title to jump to that section or on a question number to jump to that question.

Introduction
1. Doesn’t Israel have the right to defend itself and its population from rocket attacks?

Gaza
2. While conquests in wars of aggression are clearly illegal, didn’t Israel obtain the West Bank and Gaza as the result of a defensive war against an attack waged by neighboring Arab states?

3. Hasn’t Israel withdrawn from Gaza, thereby ending its occupation?

4. Regardless of whether the occupation legally continues, didn’t Israel give up its settlements and its military bases in Gaza?

5. Why should Israel have an obligation to open its borders with or transmit electricty or fuel to Gaza? Doesn’t it have the sovereign right to close its borders as it wishes?

6. Gaza shares a land border with Egypt. Why is Israel blamed for cutting off Gaza’s borders?

Hamas
7. Didn’t Hamas just use the Israeli disengagement from Gaza as an opportunity to launch rockets at Israel without provocation?

8. How did Israel and the West react to Hamas’s election victory?

9. How could Hamas be a partner for peace? Didn’t they refuse the three U.S.-Israeli conditions: that they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and agree to accept all agreements previously accepted by the Palestinian Authority?

10. Hasn’t Hamas refused to ever accept the existence of Israel?

11. Doesn’t Hamas support Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Semitism?

12. Is Hamas a terrorist organization?

13. How can Israel be accused of terrorism since it doesn’t intentionally kill civilians, and views all civilian deaths that it causes as regrettable accidents?

14. Isn’t Hamas’s firing of inaccurate rockets a violation of international humanitarian law?

15. Does the fact that Israel has killed civilians justify Palestinian attacks on civilians?

16. Didn’t Hamas kidnap an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit?

17. Didn’t Hamas launch a military coup against Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in Gaza?

18. Isn’t Hamas just a pawn of Iran?

The Lull
19. What were the terms of the June 2008 ceasefire with Israel?

20. What did the lull terms say about the smuggling in of weapons?

21. What happened during the lull?

22. Wasn’t it legitimate for Israeli troops to go into Gaza to destroy a tunnel being used for a planned kidnapping?

23. Why was the lull not extended?

24. Can Hamas be trusted not to break truces and ceasefires?

25. Given the barrage of rockets that was launched from Gaza after the lull ended on December 19, did Israel have any alternative to a military attack?

26. If the cease-fire had been extended, couldn’t Hamas have smuggled in rockets of longer and longer range until even Tel Aviv was vulnerable? Doesn’t that mean that any new ceasefire would have had to include a provision to prevent weapons smuggling, and hence would have been unacceptable to Hamas?

The Conduct of Operation Cast Lead
27. What does it mean to say that Israel should have responded proportionately?

28. Since Hamas places its military assets in civilian areas, thus using the population as human shields, isn’t Hamas responsible for all the harm to civilians?

29. Israel calls the homes it is planning to attack and drops leaflets warning civilians to get away from military targets. Doesn’t that meet its obligation to protect the civilian population?

30. Has Israel been intentionally targeting civilians in Gaza?

31. Haven’t the vast majority of those killed by Israel been, not civilians, but terrorists?

32. Aren’t there many things we don’t know yet? Shouldn’t we reserve judgment until all the facts are in?

33. Are Israelis unanimous in backing their government policy?

The United States
34. What’s been the role of the United States?

Shared Values

Philosophers have debated since time immemorial about whether there are such things as universal values. There is agreement that shared values exist on a cultural level. Specific societies all have norms and values that are derived from custom, tradition, or religious belief. The dispute is whether there are any values that transcend the confines of a particular society or culture and are shared by all of humanity.

The dispute hinges on the question of the true nature of values. Is there an absolute and objective standard of what is good? Is “good” something universal? Or is it always relative and subjective, dependent on the interests of an individual or group?

This is a point of fierce philosophical debate that has engendered numerous schools of ethical thought, including utilitarianism, pragmatism, and idealism, as well as a host of applications for economics, politics, and political science. I will not dwell on each of these schools of thought on its own. Rather, I will discuss two general philosophical tendencies, that of moral relativism and that of universalism. Then I will discuss what Islam teaches about this matter.

Shadi Sadr wins 2009 Human Rights Defenders Tulip Award / news / Home – Human Rights Defenders Tulip

Shadi Sadr wins 2009 Human Rights Defenders Tulip Award

20 October 2009. The Iranian human rights lawyer Shadi Sadr has won the 2009 Human Rights Defenders Tulip for her courage in championing the human rights of her fellow citizens. Foreign minister Maxime Verhagen will present the award in The Hague on Monday 9 November.

Yes…niqab…again
‘People think you’re oppressed’ if you wear the niqab – thestar.com

The bright green Calvin Klein scarf wrapped neatly around Maryam Rana’s head comes as a bit of a surprise. So do the red flats peeking out from under her black skirt, as she takes a mid-morning walk around her Mississauga neighbourhood.

Rana, clearly, has a sense of style. She is also wearing a black cloth over much of her face.

This is the niqab, Canada’s most controversial article of clothing.

French minister: ‘No burqas in the street’ – Europe- msnbc.com

PARIS – France’s immigration minister on Sunday proposed a national debate on French “national identity,” saying it should not include face-covering Muslim veils.

“For me, no burqas on the street,” Eric Besson said on LCI television, referring to the all-encompassing veils such as those worn in Afghanistan. But he didn’t directly suggest a ban, saying it was up to lawmakers to decide whether that would be the most effective measure.

“The burqa runs counter to national values,” he said, saying such veils are an affront to women’s rights and the French commitment to equality.

Brian Lilley: The right to wear a burka – Holy Post

Brian Lilley: The right to wear a burka
Posted: October 22, 2009, 10:01 PM by Matt Gurney
Brian Lilley, Holy Post, Burka Ban

I’ll admit that passing by women covered from head to toe and not being able to see their eyes does make me uneasy at times. For me this is not just theoretical either, shopping in my part of Ottawa does put me in contact with women who sport the hijab, the niqab and yes, I’ve even seen a burka or two.

This obsession with clothes is wearing a little thin – The National Newspaper

What women wear (or don’t) is an obsession as old as time. In the UK they’re been arguing over whether airlines can force flight attendants to wear high heels, and unions want them banned from every workplace. In France, it’s about banning the burqa. The arguments sound the same.

What is it about our clothes that attracts so much attention, when menswear doesn’t? No one ever seems to call the fashion police about a man’s wardrobe offence, no matter how much of an eyesore it is.

Cambridge News | Latest News From In & Around Cambridge City | Latest Sports, Jobs & Business News in Cambridge Newspaper – ‘You can don burkas on graduation day’

The rules have been changed after Scottish students demanded they be allowed to wear kilts.

A Cambridge University spokesman said: “Religious dress and cultural observations are allowed. Students are required to wear dark clothing and dark undergarments.

“Military uniform is allowed at the discretion of the college. This was clarified in 2005 when the ban on wearing kilts was lifted.

” We would allow the wearing of the full burka if that’s what the student wore day to day. So far we have had no requests to wear the burka.”

Misc. news from Europe

German man on trial for stabbing Muslim woman – CNN.com

Berlin, Germany (CNN) — A German man accused of stabbing to death a pregnant Muslim woman in a Dresden courtroom went on trial Monday — in the same court and amid tight security.

The defendant — a 29-year-old unemployed ethnic Russian — is accused of stabbing Marwa El-Sherbini 18 times in front of her 3-year-old son during a defamation hearing in the court in July.

WRS | Cautious welcome to anti-forced marriage plan

Cautious welcome to anti-forced marriage plan

Campaigners have welcomed government plans to impose tougher penalties on those found guilty of imposing forced marriage.

Simferopol Journal – Crimean Mosque Project Stirs Debate and Trauma – NYTimes.com

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Chunks of limestone, by the tens of thousands, are strewn in piles on a waterside lot here where one of Europe’s largest mosques is scheduled to rise. But the only soul around is a wizened caretaker in a tent, watching over what seems like another grandiose project gone bust with the financial crisis.

James Hill for The New York Times

Ethnic Russian officials in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, have held plans to build a mosque, angering the Tatar community.

The trouble with the project, though, has nothing to do with money.

It is hinted at in the pieces of limestone themselves, many of which have been brought to the lot in protest and etched with the names of people who once lived here on the Crimean Peninsula, were deported by Stalin and never returned.

The mosque was supposed to signify the revival of those expelled, the Crimean Tatars, a Turkic ethnic group that suffered as wretched a fate as any under Communism. But with work held up by local authorities, the plan has instead stirred up a dispute involving politics, communal grievances, international tensions and historic traumas.

France to launch national pride campaign in battle against Islamic fundamentalism | Mail Online

France is to adopt a series of measures to ‘reaffirm pride’ in the country and combat Islamic fundamentalism.

They include everybody receiving lessons in the nation’s Christian history and children singing the national anthem.

Using words which infuriated ethnic minority groups and Socialist opponents, immigration minister Eric Besson also said he wanted ‘foreigners to speak better French’.

Swedes more positive toward immigrants: study – The Local

The number of Swedes reporting positive experiences with immigrants is on the rise. The most positive reports come from women, young people and individuals with tertiary education. However, more people are critical of the wearing of the Muslim veil (or hijab) in schools and workplaces, according to a new study.

flandersnews.be: Moroccan faith healer arrested

Belgian judicial authorities have arrested a Moroccan faith healer following the death of 18-year-old Layla Hachichi. The woman died as a result of burns. Her lifeless remains were recovered from her parents’ home three weeks ago.

Muslims: Terrorism is against Islam – Politiken.dk

Muslims: Terrorism is against Islam
The Joint Council of Danish Muslims distances itself from those arrested in the U.S. on chagres of panning a terrorist attack against Jyllands-Posten.

Spain Imams Launch Umbrella Body – IslamOnline.net – News

VALENCIA – Spanish Muslims launched this week an independent, self-regulatory body to train imams in the southern European country.

“The Islamic Union of Imams and Preachers in Spain is the fruit of strenuous efforts of Muslim imams over the past years,” chairman Sheikh Alaa Said told IslamOnline.net on Monday, October 26.

500 Years of Women in Western Art

500 Years of Women in Western Art

This is a very cool video submitted to YouTube by the creator, Philip Scott Johnson – (find him on YouTube as eggman913). Probably none of you who know me are surprised I wanted to know who all the paintings and artists were… :-). Thanks to my nephew Derek whose bright idea this was originally and to my sister Brenda and YouTubers: BonifacijJ, actofreason, 0midnightmuse0 and jerrypicker, for their assistance in identifying the art work and artists.

BBC NEWS | Europe | The secret history of the Nazi mascot

Alex Kurzem came to Australia in 1949 carrying just a small brown briefcase, but weighed down by some harrowing psychological and emotional baggage.

Tucked away in his briefcase were the secrets of his past – fragments of his life that he kept hidden for decades.

Black and white image of young Alex Kurzem in uniform, sitting on a soldier’s knee
Alex was forced to keep his Jewish identity hidden

In 1997, after raising a family in Melbourne with his Australian bride, he finally revealed himself. He told how, at the age of five, he had been adopted by the SS and became a Nazi mascot.

His personal history, one of the most remarkable stories to emerge from World War II, was published recently in a book entitled The Mascot.

“They gave me a uniform, a little gun and little pistol,” Alex told the BBC.

Global Voices Online » Egypt: Egyptian Male Blogger Orders Artificial Hymen

When Radio Netherlands broadcasted an Arabic translation of the Artificial Virginity Hymen kit, when Youm7 newspaper announced that the product will be available on the Egyptian market for LE 83, when conservative parliament members in Egypted wanted the product banned and any exporter exiled or beheaded, and when it caused such an uproar in the Egyptian blogosphere, Mohamed Al Rahhal just had to buy one.

Dutch
nrc.nl – Opinie – Het geheim van Geert Mak

En toen kwam 9/11, en daarna de moord op Fortuyn en vervolgens de moord op Theo van Gogh. De eerste moord werd gepleegd door een linkse milieu activist die zijn motieven nooit heeft willen openbaren. De tweede moord was een geloofsuiting van een Moslim radicaal. De aanleiding was de vertoning van de film ‘Submission’ die Van Gogh samen met Ayaan Hirsi Ali gemaakt had. Die film bevatte een onprettige boodschap: de Koran predikt geweld tegen vrouwen die zich niet onderwerpen aan hun man. In die film werd volgens de moordenaar Allah beledigd. Ook Geert Mak veroordeelde ‘Submission’ omdat hij gemaakt zou zijn volgens de methode Goebbels. Het pamflet waarin hij die uitspraak deed bevatte een onprettige boodschap: Mensen die kritiek uiten op de islam verzieken het politieke klimaat en hebben het terrorisme over ons uitgeroepen. Het is een argumentatie die in de VS wordt omschreven als ‘blaming the victim’. Het lijkt me dat Maks analyse eerder een onderdeel van het probleem is dan een oplossing. Die oplossing begint met het respecteren van de mening van alle burgers en die van de Wilders aanhangers niet reduceren tot frustaties die door consultants en interim managers veroorzaakt zouden zijn. Het is veeleer zo dat tot 2001 in de politieke arena geen partij toegelaten werd die de opvattingen van een substantiële minderheid vertegenwoordigde.

‘Geert Wilders ondermijnt democratie’ – Binnenland – de Volkskrant

De PVV van Geert Wilders is een extreem-rechtse partij die islamofobie en systeemhaat tegen de overheid mobiliseert. Daarmee ondermijnt zij de sociale cohesie en de democratie in het land. Dat stellen drie wetenschappers in een aan de Tweede Kamer beloofd onderzoek over radicalisering, dat in opdracht van het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken is uitgevoerd .

Het ministerie wil volgens bronnen dat deze conclusies worden afgezwakt wegens ‘politieke gevoeligheid’. De wetenschappers – radicaliseringsonderzoeker Hans Moors, hoogleraar (contra-)terrorisme Bob de Graaff en extreemrechtsdeskundige Jaap van Donselaar) houden echter voet bij stuk.

Een woordvoerder van Binnenlandse Zaken zegt dat ‘discussies over het rapport nog lopen’, maar dat er ‘pertinent geen sprake is van onenigheid’. Onderzoeker Moors wil weinig kwijt, maar beaamt wel dat onderdelen, zoals de kwalificatie extreem-rechts, ‘gevoelig liggen’. ‘De minister moet haar standpunt bepalen op grond van ons stuk. Zij kan zeggen: die Van Donselaar, De Graaff en Moors zijn zo gek als een deur. Maar ze mag niet aan ons onderzoek komen.’

Wilders ziedend door etiket ‘extreem-rechts’ – www.pvv.nl

Wilders verwerpt die kwalificaties. ”We zijn democratisch gekozen en gebruiken alleen democratische middelen”, stelde hij.

Demoniseren
”Dit is de zoveelste schandelijke en ziekelijke poging van de elite ons te demoniseren en de PVV en al onze kiezers proberen de mond te snoeren. Maar dat gaat ze nooit lukken!

Als er iets is dat de democratie ondermijnt, dan is het wel deze linkse elite, onder wie dit soort nep-onderzoekers, en de islamisering”, aldus Wilders.

Geweld
Hij vindt het verder kwalijk dat juist de ”onzinnige kwalificaties” van de wetenschappers mensen zou kunnen aanzetten om geweld tegen hem te gebruiken.

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