‘Pro-human rights’ governments violating human rights

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters. A woman’s peaceful act of resistance during a protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has become the symbol of a powerful moment in the Black Lives Matter movement

This June 2016 photo from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA is on the front page of the new Amnesty International annual report. It shows a Black Lives Matter demonstrator against police violence; who would be arrested.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today, on Amnesty International‘s 2016/2017 report:

According to Amnesty director Shetty the French state of emergency is “deeply discriminatory” and more than 600 people, mostly Muslims, have been placed under house arrest. Also more than 140 demonstrations have been prohibited.

France in that is not unique, the organization says. Amnesty sees that more and more countries fiddle with the existing laws that protect human rights and fears a domino effect. “Countries that once had reputations as champions to defend human rights abroad, are now too busy curtailing the rights in their own countries, let alone to control others still.”

THERESA MAY’S “callous brutality” towards child refugees and the passing of “draconian legislation” has made Britain a “golden standard for human rights abuses,” Amnesty International warns in its annual report released today: here.

German police banning refugees from carnival?

This video from Germany says about itself:

Esmeralda Labye [French speaking Belgian] TV reporter is sexually assaulted live on air during Cologne [carnival] festival

5 February 2016

Female reporter is sexually assaulted live on camera during Cologne festival as she reports on how the event has been overshadowed by New Year’s Eve rapes

That ‘New Year’s Eve mass rapes in Cologne’ hullaballoo in corporate media later turned out to be largely fake news, especially its blaming of the crimes (mainly pickpocketing) on refugees.

Ms Esmeralda Labye was sexually assaulted by white men. If the kind of people who think that if one refugee commits a crime, then all refugees are supposedly criminals … or if one Muslim is violent, then all over a billion Muslims are supposedly terrorists … if these people would be consequent, then they would propose banning all white men from the Cologne and other carnival celebrations because of the sexual assault on Ms Labye.

Instead, something different happened in Germany.

By Dietmar Henning in Germany:

German police warn refugees not to attend carnival in Cologne

21 February 2017

A letter written by a police department in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has revealed the attitude of the state apparatus to refugees. “From a police point of view,” they are undesired at traditional carnival celebrations due to start this Thursday in NRW.

An official from the NRW Central Police Office (LZPD) in the city of Duisburg sent an official internal letter to the NRW district administration. It was then published by the Kölner Stadtanzeiger.

Under the title “Information on the 2017 Carnival,” it addressed the “counsellors of refugees and asylum seekers,” who have organised the attendance at carnival events in previous years, and said: “From a police point of view, these actions are rather to be seen critically, since they force mass attendance of refugees and asylum seekers.”

With regard to the “current security situation in Germany, and also because of the events on the previous New Year’s Eve … we are dissuading” refugees and asylum seekers from attending, wrote the LZPD.

It warns the refugees about “strengthened police and security checks” and requests that, if they attend the carnival anyway, they must “submit to the checks without criticism.” They should have identification papers with them and “carry no large bags, backpacks or dangerous objects.”

When questioned by the press, the police department confirmed that the letter was genuine. At the same time, they distanced themselves from its content. It should “not have been published,” said Schabacker, spokesperson for the LZPD. It should have stated things differently and provided merely factual information, such as, for example, that large bags could be checked by the police.

Ralf Jäger (Social Democratic Party, SPD), who heads the Ministry for Internal Affairs and Municipal Issues (MIK), also distanced himself from the letter when he was questioned by the Kölner Stadtanzeiger. “Something of that nature would be unacceptable,” he said.

These statements are transparent attempts at damage control. The LZPD is directly subordinate to the Interior Ministry under Jäger. The letter also mentions an agreement with Department 1 of the ministry, which is also responsible for foreigner affairs.

During New Year’s Eve, the police in Cologne carried out a huge deployment of over 2,000 police and claimed that more than 2,000 North Africans “flocked together.” At night, the police tweeted: “Hundreds of Nafris are currently being checked at the main train station. Information to follow.” Men who did not fit with the police interpretation of what constitutes a “German” were singled out and held by police in front of the main train station building for several hours.

The chief of the Cologne police, Jürgen Mathies, later apologized for the racist term “Nafri,” which is a police abbreviation for “North African habitual offender.” However, he stood by the claim that “the men travelled [to Cologne] from all over the country and arrived at nearly the exact same time.”

It was later revealed that the report of “violent hordes of men” from North African countries (WRD Radio Broadcasting) was a fiction. The police information was simply false. On January 13, the Cologne police sheepishly admitted that it had determined the identities of 674 people, and of the 425 whose nationalities had been established, just 30 came from North Africa.

There was also no “mob” or “showdown with the police,” or prior conspiracy to commit crimes. The presence of a few hundred young men of “foreign appearance” in Cologne, the largest city in NRW, is not peculiar, certainly not on New Year’s Eve, when 50,000 of the city’s 1 million residents, a third of whom have an immigrant background, attend celebrations.

Nevertheless, the misinformation spread. No more than two weeks later, the Cologne police reported the initial results of an “investigation.” “The ten investigators of the ‘New Year’s Eve working group’ want to find out among other things why so many refugees and asylum seekers travelled to Cologne from countries such as Iraq, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria for New Year’s,” wrote the Kölner Stadtanzeiger on January 25. This was demonstrably not the case.

The newspaper quoted a report by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), which described Cologne as a “magnet for entering North Africans.”

The lies about North Africans, refugees and foreigners serve a political purpose. They are aimed at shifting the anger over social cuts, unemployment and poverty away from the responsible Social Democrats and Green politicians onto defenceless refugees, and at justifying the building up of the police and state surveillance apparatus. This is grist for the mill of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and other right-wing and far-right parties.

Donald Trump’s controversial visit to Britain

Demonstrator in London yesterday

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

A Nightmare on Downing Street

Tuesday 21st February 2017

Parliament in uproar over Trump’s visit – but Theresa May continues to defend it

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump was accused of leading the world into an Orwellian fantasy as Parliament debated his state visit yesterday.

Labour MP Paul Flynn, who opened the Westminster Hall debate, warned that an “Orwellian world is unfolding before us where lies are the truth, good is bad, war is peace, fantasy is fact.”

He said that we were seeing “the figure of the Trump Big Brother, ever present, preaching from his one source of news.”

Parliament was debating a petition that had received a “remarkable total” of over 1.8 million signatores calling for Mr Trump’s planned state visit to be cancelled.

Mr Flynn told MPs it was “extraordinary” that the billionaire bigot had been invited on a state visit merely days into his presidency, reminding them that only two presidents had been accorded an official trip since 1952.

He accused the US president of a “ceaseless incontinence of speech” and suggested it may appear that the government is “pimping out the Queen for Donald Trump.

“He is the least popular president in this country ever,” Mr Flynn said. And he warned that “if we don’t take notice of these petitions” politicians will lose the trust of the people of this country.

But a Downing Street source has said that cancelling the visit would be “a populist gesture” and would “undo everything” achieved during Prime Minister Theresa May’s meeting with Mr Trump.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said before the debate: “Let no-one be in doubt that I will oppose, and the Labour Party will oppose, all those who fan the flames of fear at home and abroad.

“I support the demand of millions of British people: Donald Trump should not be welcomed on a state visit to this country while he continues to propagate his anti-women, anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican policies.”

Protests started early yesterday afternoon in central London as hundreds of students marched from Downing Street to Parliament Square chanting: “Migrants in, Tories out” and “Let them in, let them stay, let’s deport Theresa May.”

London demonstrator Sarah Horton with sign, photo NOS/Suse van Kleef

This photo from yesterday’s demonstration in London shows demonstrator Sarah Horton with a sign depicting British Prime Minister Theresa May about to go to bed with Donald Trump.

The National Union of Students (NUS) called for students to walk out of university in protest against the British government’s “complicity” with the racist policies of Mr Trump.

NUS international students’ officer Mostafa Rajaai said: “It has become more important than ever before for us to unite in showing opposition to racism, xenophobia and hatred and to stand in solidarity with all those who have been feeling the brunt of state-sponsored racism across the UK and beyond.”

Events were held across the country in conjunction with migrant rights group One Day Without Us.

Crowds gathered in Manchester as Steph Pike, one of the organisers of the demonstration, said: “We reject the vicious, racist, sexist, elitist, warmongering policies of Trump and demand that Trump’s state visit is cancelled.”

Global Justice Now projected a giant “Say no to Trump” slogan on to the Houses of Parliament ahead of yesterday’s debate.

Director Nick Dearden said: “We’ve made this projection to stand alongside the nearly two million people who signed the petition to demand that this state visit should not take place and the hundreds of thousands of people who are taking to the streets to oppose the racism and xenophobia that Trump represents.”

People’s Assembly national secretary Sam Fairbairn told the Star: “This is one of the biggest petitions that has been delivered to Parliament. But the government has already decided the outcome. They obviously have no respect for ordinary people.

“This is a terrible mistake from Theresa May, an increasingly unpopular PM, unelected and losing the argument on every front.”

Big pro-refugee demonstration in Barcelona

This video on the big pro-refugee demonstration in Barcelona says about itself:

18 February 2017

I quite literally stumbled upon this mass demonstration of people after leaving the Picasso museum. As any aspiring journalist would do, I pulled out my phone (actually my friend Sophia’s phone) and filmed what was going on.

By Alejandro López:

Huge demonstration in Barcelona in defence of refugees and open borders

20 February 2017

Hundreds of thousands of protestors—160,000 according to the police and half a million according to the protest organisers—demonstrated on Saturday in Barcelona, Spain against the right-wing Popular Party (PP) governments’ anti-immigration policies. The march, held under the slogan “No more deaths, open the borders,” was the largest held in Europe so far in defence of refugees and open borders.

Demonstrators condemned the continuing horrific treatment of refugees seeking shelter in Europe, as the European Union (EU) continues to deport thousands of refugees back to the war zones from which they are trying to escape.

The EU’s anti-migrant policies led to the deaths of at least 4,500 people last year, most of whom drowned crossing the Mediterranean in small, overcrowded boats. According to the United Nations, 230 people have died so far this year. Spain bears a special responsibility for this tragedy, having helped to close down the shorter sea-crossing routes from North Africa, thereby forcing migrants to attempt the longer, more hazardous ones from Libya to Malta and Italy.

Many protestors criticised the government for having only taken in 1,100 refugees—a fraction of the paltry 17,000 it had agreed to in September 2015.

The demonstrators flooded onto one of the major avenues in Barcelona, Via Laietana, many holding homemade placards and banners bearing slogans including, “Enough excuses, welcome them now,” “Refugees welcome,” “Legal papers for all,” “Open the borders now,” and “No one is above another, no one is illegal.” The protest ended on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

A woman who had left Bosnia in the early 1990s during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia told El Periódico, “I see the same heart that opened to me in 1992, even stronger and with more solidarity. The only difference is the current political obstacle, and the lies that they tell us every day [about refugees and migrants.]” Mira, an 18-year-old from Syria, said, “We don’t want pity… There is no refugee crisis, we are victims of war.” Kissima, a 23-year old Gambian, told El País that “if the doors do not open, those people who are only looking for a better future will not be able to do anything.”

The fact that such a large march was organized within a short space of time without any media promotion by a small volunteer-staffed NGO, Casa Nostra Casa Vostra (Our Home is Your Home) shows the huge sympathy that exists within the population for the plight of migrants and refugees.

It exposes the lying claims of governments and political parties across Europe—of all political colourations—that they are responding to the “people,” who are demanding a crackdown on the entry of migrants and stronger borders. Such claims are used to shift the political climate to the right, as the post-World War II order collapses, in order to prepare the ground for more austerity, wars and attacks on democratic rights. …

Sonia Sierra from the Citizens party demanded “the government comply with the promise to take in 17,000 refugees.” This same party—a right-wing and anti-Catalan secessionist party—is a fervent defender of the EU and NATO and is attempting to become the new “incorrupt” face of the PP. In the past, it has enthusiastically defended the PP’s attempts to prevent undocumented migrants from having any right to access the public health care system.

Also present at the demonstration was Miquel Iceta, the leader of the Catalan Socialist Party (sister party to the Spanish Socialist Party, PSOE). He called for a “change” in EU policies because, “The current crisis is not as innocent as it may seem; it has been caused by the presence of Western countries in the Middle East.”

Anyone hearing such statements from Iceta will be rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

Just 24 hours before Iceta’s remarks, some 400 African migrants managed to force their way into the tiny Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta in search of asylum. The Red Cross said it had to treat 103 of them for injuries they had sustained, which included a brutal assault by the border police. Some 25 people were hospitalised.

It was the PSOE government in 2005 that began construction of the original border fence, which now consists of 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) of parallel three-meter (10 feet) high razor wire fences, equipped with watch posts, CCTV, spotlights, noise and movement sensors.

Under the PSOE, Spain participated in the US-led NATO war on Libya, which killed approximately 30,000 people and destroyed the country’s infrastructure, paving the way for the current civil war and the spread of ISIS in North Africa.

United States Donald Trump update

Donald Trump and Donald Duck, cartoon

Seventy-five years after FDR’s Japanese internment order, Trump prepares mass immigrant roundup: here.

Demonstrators turned out in the thousands in cities throughout the US for the fourth weekend in a row since the inauguration of Republican President Donald Trump to express their hostility to the reactionary policies being implemented by his administration, foremost the attack on immigrants and refugees: here.

Thousands gathered in Boston’s Copley Square on Sunday chanting “Stand up for science.” Many carried placards illustrating the importance of science for society and how it is coming under attack from the Trump administration and its anti-science supporters. One sign read: “Didn’t die of infections? Thank a scientist,” while another declared: “Object Reality Exists”: here.

Proposed Trump state visit provokes crisis in British ruling circles: here.

Anti-Roma racism, new book

This video says about itself:

‘United For Dignity’ – Young Roma And The Fight Against Multiple Discrimination

27 June 2014

Key speakers, contributors and the rap group De La Negra are featured in this report on the Council of Europe conference ‘United For Dignity’ which took place earlier this week at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg.

More information here.

Go deeper on this topic … listen to the podcast on how young Roma people cope with ‘Romaphobia‘ and the prejudice they face because of their gender, migrant status or sexual orientation.

By Tina Carr in Britain:

Hatred of the Roma challenged

Monday 20th February 2017

The Roma need to be seen in all their colours and engaged with on every level to be fully understood, asserts TINA CARR

Romaphobia: The Last Acceptable Form Of Racism by Aiden McGarry (Zed Books, £14.99)

THE ROMA are believed to have arrived in Europe from northern India in waves of migration from the ninth to the 14th centuries.

Found in every country on the continent, it would be difficult to find a more diverse group.

They number 10-12 million, yet are one of its most marginalised minorities, with anti-Roma attitudes on the rise along similar lines to both Islamophobia and anti-semitism.

Although they have traditionally been called “Gypsies,” today many prefer to be called Rom or Roma — men or women in their language, Romanes — because the term “Gypsy” has a pejorative meaning in many societies.

Equally, many Roma prefer to adhere to the term Gypsy or tribal names such as Romungro, Olah, Sinti or Tsigane, having identified as such for many generations.

British Gypsies and Travellers do not use the umbrella term Roma to define themselves, although they may share the same ethnic or linguistic origins as the Roma in Europe.

However, the term Roma is a useful and widely accepted coverall since the umbrella group do have a shared ethnicity, with the exception of Irish Travellers.

It’s said that where the tarmac ends, the Roma settlement begins.

The majority live in dire poverty, are ghettoised behind walls built to segregate them from the majority, are unemployed and, until relatively recently, have received little or no education.

As Aiden McGarry says in his new book: “Romaphobia is the hate or fear of those individuals perceived as being Roma, Gypsy or Traveller; it involves the negative ascription of group identity and can result in marginalisation, persecution and violence. Romaphobia is a manifestation of racism: it is cut from the same cloth.”

Racism is on the rise and, although Romaphobia is no different in form or content to Islamophobia and anti-semitism, its causes can be particularised — there is something specific about Romaphobia even if its racist core is familiar.

And this is what McGarry’s book sets out to explore through the early history of the European nation state and the ways in which the Roma, as “landless nomads,” have been excluded from national communities founded upon a notion of “belonging” to a particular territory.

It uncovers the causes of racism towards Roma communities and points to constructive ways to combat Romaphobia.

The addition of “phobia” to the word Roma is a great idea — to ally Romaphobia to the other more long-lived phobias of homosexuality and Islam gives it immediate parity with the great campaigns that have risen to defend the rights of these minority groups.

As Romani studies gains traction in academia and begins to come out of what McGarry describes as its “splendid isolation” by drawing on concepts and ideas from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including politics, sociology, public policy, humanities and urban geography, the more the under-researched and misunderstood phenomena of the Roma will emerge into the light.

The Roma need to be seen in all their colours and engaged with on every level to be fully understood.

Enlightened, sensitively written and always positive, this book making a valuable contribution to that coming about.

Tina Carr is co-author with Annemarie Schone of From the Horse’s Mouth: A Roma, Gypsy, Traveller Landscape, available from simply-solar.co.uk.