organization:civil society

  • #Global_media_Monitoring_Project (#GMMP)

    Who makes the news? is a knowledge, information and resource portal on applied media research. Our work focuses on gender and other axes of discrimination in and through media and communication.

    In 1987 a series of regional consultations on ‘women and media’ convened by the communication rights’ organisation WACC-UK culminated in the first-ever global conference on ‘Women Empowering Communication’ held in Bangkok in February 1994. Convened in co-operation with Isis International - Philippines and the International Women’s Tribune Centre-New York, the conference brought together over 430 people from 80 countries. At the conference, women from all over the world developed a series of strategies and resolutions for empowering women in and through the media in the ‘Bangkok Declaration’.

    The Bangkok Declaration and the recommendations contained in Section J on “Women and the media” of the Beijing Platform for Action of the 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women have provided a blueprint for our interventions. In March 2017 the Bangkok Declaration was revised with input from participants at a WACC pre-Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) symposium in New York. Dubbed The New York Declaration, the new text reflects pertinent gender issues in the current media landscape. The document articulates a feminist agenda for the media and charts a path for action by various actors.

    We promote critical media research to generate evidence for education, awareness, training and advocacy, supporting women’s use of media for their own empowerment and for the development of their communities. It advocates full and equal participation of women in public communication so that their multiple and complex interests, experiences and realities become part of the public agenda. It also supports civil society evidence-building on media and marginalized sectors of society in order to advance social justice goals for all in and through the media.

    Our work has resulted in an extensive network of individuals and organizations concerned about gender, media and critical communication broadly, from grassroots activists to academics and development organisations.


    http://whomakesthenews.org
    #femmes #genre #médias #presse

  • Bahrain debacle marks crash of Trump team’s campaign to diss Palestinians into submission

    Kushner’s Peace for Prosperity includes Utopian projects funded by non-existent money as part of peace deal that won’t happen
    Chemi Shalev
    Jun 25, 2019 9:12 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-bahrain-debacle-marks-crash-of-trump-team-s-campaign-to-dis-palest

    The unveiling of the U.S. administration’s long-awaited production of Peace for Prosperity, premiering in Bahrain on Tuesday, garnered mixed reviews, to say the least. Barak Ravid of Axios and Israel’s Channel 13 described it as “impressive, detailed and ambitious – perhaps overly ambitious.” Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Dan Kurtzer offered a slightly different take: “I would give this so-called plan a C- from an undergraduate student. The authors of the plan clearly understand nothing,” he said.

    The plan, released in a colorful pamphlet on the eve of the Bahrain economic summit, is being portrayed by the White House as a vision of the bountiful “fruits of peace” that Palestinians might reap once they reach a peace agreement with Israel. Critics describe it as an amateurish pie-in-the-sky, shoot-for-the-moon, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hodgepodge that promises projects that cannot be implemented, funded by money that does not exist and contingent on a peace deal that will never happen.

    But the main problem with Peace for Prosperity isn’t its outlandishly unrealistic proposals – such as the $5 billion superhighway between the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel will never agree to; or its occasional condescending and Orientalist attitude towards Palestinian society - their great hummus could attract millions of tourists; or even its offer to manage and foster Palestinian institutions and civil society in a way that can be viewed either as implicit state-building or as imposing foreign control on a future Palestinian government.

    >> Read more: ’There is no purely economic solution to the Palestinian economy’s problems’ ■ Trump’s Bahrain conference - not what you imagined ■ Kushner’s deal holds some surprises, but it’s more vision than blueprint ■ The billion-dollar question in Trump’s peace plan

    The Palestinians would have been suspicious in any case, even if Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama were President. They have always been wary of the term “economic peace”, especially when detached from the real nitty-gritty of resolving their dispute with Israel. Nonetheless, if the President was anyone other than Trump, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would have more or less emulated Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaction: Somber nodding of the head, then a non-committal reaction to Peace for Prosperity, followed by effusive but general praise for our lord and savior Donald Trump. Israelis and Palestinians would have attended the Bahrain conference, while doing their best to suppress their inner guffaws.

    If it was anyone by Trump and his peace team - which often doubles as Netanyahu’s cheerleading squad – the Palestinians might have allowed themselves to believe that A. A comprehensive peace plan isn’t just a mirage and is indeed forthcoming. B. The deal won’t be tilted so far in favor of Israel that it will be declared stillborn on arrival and C. That it isn’t a ruse meant to cast Palestinians as congenital rejectionists and to pave the way for an Israeli annexation of “parts of the West Bank”, as Ambassador David Friedman put it when he pronounced Trump’s imperial edict conceding territory to Israel, which even Palestinian minimalists claim as their own, in advance of any actual talks.

    But because the plan bears Trump’s signature, it was received in most world capitals with shrugs, as yet another manifestation of the U.S. administration’s preposterous handling of foreign policy – see North Korea, Europe, Mexico, Venezuela et al. Israel, of course, didn’t miss the opportunity to regurgitate the cliché about the Palestinians “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.
    A Palestinian man steps on a painting depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest against U.S.-led Bahrain workshop in Gaza City, June 24, 2019.
    A Palestinian man steps on a painting depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest against U.S.-led Bahrain workshop in Gaza City, June 24, 2019. \ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS
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    For Palestinians and their supporters, however, Kushner’s bid was but the latest in the Trump team’s never-ending stream of slights, slanders and slaps in their collective faces. In Palestinian eyes, the economic bonanza isn’t a CBM – confidence building measure – but a con job and insult rolled into one. It dangles dollars in front of Palestinian noses, implying they can be bought, and it sets up a chain of events at the end of which Jason Greenblatt will inevitably accuse them on Twitter of being hysterical and dishonest while praising Netanyahu’s bold leadership and pioneering vision. They’ve been there, and done that.

    This has been the Trump approach from the outset: Uncontained admiration for Israel and its leader coupled with unhidden disdain for Palestinian leaders and contempt for their “unrealistic” dreams. Trump’s peace team swears by Israel’s security needs as if they were part of the bible or U.S. Constitution; the ongoing 52-year military occupation of millions of Palestinians, on the other hand, seems to have escaped their attention.

    For the first ten months of Trump’s tenure, the Palestinians put up with his administration’s unequivocal pledges of allegiance to Israel as well as the White House’s departure from past custom and continuing refusal to criticize any of its actions – not to mention the appointment of a peace team comprised exclusively of right-wing Netanyahu groupies, which Palestinians initially thought was surely a practical joke.

    Trump’s announcement in December 2017 that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there was both game-changer and deal-breaker as far as the Palestinians were concerned. While Netanyahu and most of Israel were celebrating Donald the Daring and the long-awaited recognition of their eternal capital, Palestinians realized they were facing a President radically different from any of his predecessors - one willing to break the rules in Israel’s favor and to grant his bestie Bibi tangible victories, before, during and after elections - without asking for anything in return.

    The Palestinians have boycotted the Trump administration ever since, embarrassing Friedman, Greenblatt, Kushner and ultimately Trump in the process. They, in response, have increasingly vented their anger and frustrations at the Palestinians, and not just in words and Tweets alone: The administration shut down the PLO’s office in Washington, declared Jerusalem “off the table” and indicated that the refugee issue should follow it, cut aid to UNRWA and is endeavoring to dismantle it altogether and slashed assistance to Palestinian humanitarian organizations.

    In March 2018, in a move strongly supported by Israel and vigorously endorsed by Evangelicals and other right wing supporters, Trump signed the Congressionally approved Taylor Force Act that prohibits U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continued to pay monthly stipends to the families of what the Act describes as “terrorists”. Palestinians, who, to many people’s regret, regard such terrorists as heroes and martyrs, noted that the passage of the Taylor Force Act embarrassed Israel and spurred it to legislate its own way to withholding Palestinian tax money for the very same reason.

    Throughout the process, Trump and his peace team have lectured the Palestinians as a teacher reprimands an obstinate child. The Palestinians need to face reality, to lower their expectations, to land back on earth, Kushner and colleagues insist. Not only will they never realize their dreams and aspirations, they should also forget their core demand for an independent state free of outside control and not confide inside Israeli-controlled gates. Israelis are worthy of such independence, the Palestinians are told, but you are not.

    Trump approach is a product, first and foremost, of his own inexperience, arrogance and unwillingness to learn anything from a past in which he wasn’t in charge. It is fed by anti-Palestinian prejudices prevalent in his peace team as well as his advisers and most of his political supporters. Trump and his underlings basically adhere to the arguably racist tenet encapsulated in the Israeli saying “The Arabs understand only force.” The more you pressure them, the greater the chance they will succumb.
    Women protest against the U.S.-led workshop in Bahrain in the Moroccan capital Rabat, June 23, 2019.
    Women protest against the U.S.-led workshop in Bahrain in the Moroccan capital Rabat, June 23, 2019.AFP

    At this point at least, it hasn’t worked out that way. Bahrain, by any measure, is a humiliating bust. As Trump and his aides contemplate the reasons for their abject failure they are likely to blame stubborn Palestinians who don’t know what’s good for them, along with radical Muslims, perfidious Europeans, idiot liberals and all the other usual suspects.

    In a better world, they would take a hard look at themselves in the mirror and possibly have an epiphany. They can make an immediate adjustment that will cost them nothing but possibly achieve dramatic results. Instead of incessantly rebuking, reproaching, reprimanding, threatening and intimidating the Palestinians in a way that garners cheers from Christian messianics and Jewish zealots, they could try and treat them, as Aretha Franklin sang, with just a little respect. And perhaps, if it isn’t asking too much, take down their fawning for Netanyahu a notch or two.

    It might not be enough to reconcile irreconcilable differences or to make peace, but it will signal that Trump is finally getting serious about his claim to be the peacemaker the world has been waiting for. Alternatively, the Palestinians will continue to frustrate his designs and pray to Allah for his quick departure.

  • From Palermo and Barcelona to Naples: For the Right to Mobility and the Right to Rescue!
    Naples, Italy, 22 June 2019

    Humanitarian rescue NGOs, civil society organisations, and activist groups, including Sea-Watch, Alarm Phone, Mediterranea, Seebrücke, Aita Mari, Jugend Rettet, Borderline Europe, Inura, Open Arms, and Welcome to Europe, as well as representatives of several European cities and municipalities, including Naples and Barcelona, have come together to work toward a collective European and Mediterranean initiative. Our movement was born in Palermo in 2018 and in the spirit of the Charter of Palermo, with its central demand for the right of mobility. Our slogan is: “From the Sea to the Cities!”

    After our meetings in Palermo and Barcelona, we were hosted by the Municipality of Naples on 20-21 June 2019. Naples is a city that has declared its port a safe harbour in light of the restrictive and anti-migrant measures of the current Italian government, especially its interior minister. Over the past two days we have strengthened the collaboration between humanitarian rescue NGOs, civil society organisations, activist groups and city administrators. Our main aim is to join together in the struggle against the mass dying in the Mediterranean Sea. Those rescued at sea must be brought to safe harbours and be allowed to live freely and in dignity in European cities.

    We declare our solidarity with the 43 survivors, including unaccompanied minors, who were rescued by Sea-Watch 3 but who are still today, 10 days after their rescue, stuck on the rescue boat. We condemn the refusal to allow Sea-Watch 3 and its guests to land at a safe harbour. Together with the survivors we demand from the Italian government as well as the European institutions and community to immediate guarantee their disembarkation.

    https://alarmphone.org/en/2019/06/22/from-palermo-and-barcelona-to-naples-for-the-right-to-mobility-and-the-right-to-rescue/?post_type_release_type=post

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #droit_à_la_mobilité #droit_au_sauvetage #Palerme #Barcelone #Naples

    ajouté à la métaliste:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/759145

  • Le directeur du musée juif de Berlin démissionne après une polémique sur l’antisémitisme
    Mis à jour le 15/06/2019
    https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/europe/allemagne/le-directeur-du-musee-juif-de-berlin-demissionne-apres-une-polemique-su

    Le directeur du musée juif de Berlin, Peter Schäfer, a démissionné, vendredi 14 juin, sur fond de polémique. En cause : un tweet controversé de son établissement recommandant la lecture d’un article critique de la décision, en mai, du Parlement allemand de considérer comme « antisémites » les méthodes du mouvement BDS (Boycott Désinvestissement Sanctions). Peter Schäfer a remis sa démission à la ministre de la Culture allemande, Monika Grütters, « pour éviter de nouveaux préjudices au musée juif de Berlin », a indiqué ce dernier.

    #BDS

    • Berlin Jewish Museum Director Resigns After Tweet Supporting BDS Freedom of Speech

      Peter Schäfer steps down days after sharing of petition calling on German government not to adopt motion defining anti-Israel boycotts as anti-Semitic
      Noa Landau - Jun 14, 2019 8:48 PM
      https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/berlin-jewish-museum-director-resigns-after-tweet-supporting-bds-freedom-of

      The director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum has resigned, the museum announced Friday, days after it was criticized for endorsing a petition against a parliamentary motion defining anti-Israel boycotts as anti-Semitic and banning the boycott movement from using public buildings.

      The resignation of museum Director Peter Schäfer comes after Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff called the museum’s sharing of the petition “shameful.”

      The petition, asserting that “boycotts are a legitimate and nonviolent tool of resistance,” was signed by 240 Jewish intellectuals.

      The signatories, among them Avraham Burg and Eva Illouz, called on the German government not to adopt the motion, to protect freedom of speech and continue funding of Israeli and Palestinian organizations “that peacefully challenge the Israeli occupation, expose severe violations of international law and strengthen civil society. These organizations defend the principles and values at the heart of liberal democracy and rule of law, in Germany and elsewhere. More than ever, they need financial support and political backing.”

      An Israeli guide at the Berlin museum told Haaretz he planned to resign in protest of “the crude interventions by the Israeli government and Germany in the museum’s work.”

      Professor Emeritus Yaacov Shavit, former head of the department of History of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University, told Haaretz that “this whole story is nothing more than a cause to displace Prof. Sheffer, a researcher of international renown of the Second Temple period, Mishna, and Talmud.”

      “Community leaders in Berlin needed to be grateful that someone like him agreed to serve as manager of the museum. This foolish act by community leaders is outrageous and bothersome,” he added.

      Last year, it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded from Chancellor Angela Merkel that Germany stop funding the museum because it had held an exhibition about Jerusalem, “that presents a Muslim-Palestinian perspective.” Merkel was asked to halt funding to other organizations as well, on grounds that they were anti-Israel, among them the Berlin International Film Festival, pro-Palestinian Christian organizations, and the Israeli news website +972, which receives funding from the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

      Netanyahu did not deny the report and his bureau confirmed that he had raised “with various leaders the issue of funding Palestinian and Israeli groups and nonprofit organizations that depict the Israel Defense Forces as war criminals, support Palestinian terrorism and call for boycotting the State of Israel.”

      The Bundestag’s motion last month marked the first time a European parliament had officially defined the BDS movement as anti-Semitic. The motion, which is a call to the government and isn’t legally binding, won broad multiparty support from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the Social Democrats and the Free Democratic Party. Some members of the Greens Party also supported the motion, though others abstained at the last minute. The motion stated that the BDS movement’s “Don’t Buy” stickers on Israeli products evoke the Nazi slogan “Don’t buy from Jews.”

  • Brexit Is for Boys – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/06/19/brexit-is-for-boys-boris-johnson-jeremy-hunt-michael-gove-tories


    Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, and Rory Stewart participate in a televised Conservative Party leadership debate on June 18 in London.
    JEFF OVERS/BBC VIA GETTY IMAGES

    Since 2016, the campaign to leave the European Union has been led primarily by men. The remaining candidates for prime minister are all male—and they’re not talking about the grave consequences of Brexit for women.
    […]
    Without European courts and standards, it is not hard to imagine the next government of Brexiteers, in their zeal to cut red tape, trimming protections for women through deregulation. Already a minister in the department in charge of Brexit, Martin Callanan, has suggested that the U.K. “scrap” such protections, including the pregnant workers’ directive, because they are “barriers to actually employing people.”

    There are also logistical problems. One collateral loss of Brexit could be the European Protection Order, which ensures that restraining orders apply across EU member states—allowing, for instance, a British woman who moves to Germany to be protected from an abusive partner there. Another is EU funding to British women’s civil society groups, including those that work to combat domestic violence. What is more, a projected 28,000 caregivers who hail from EU member states will no longer be able to work in the U.K., which means some British women will likely have to leave their jobs to look after aging relatives, according to the Department of Health. Most of all, the EU withdrawal process is a time-and resource-sucking distraction, which has stalled policymaking on issues concerning women as it has in nearly every other legislative area.

  • Trump’s Global Gag Rule Is Killing Women, Report Says – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/06/19/how-trumps-global-gag-rule-is-killing-women-colombia


    A mobile health brigade in an indigenous community in La Guajira, Colombia.
    PHOTO : MARTA ROYO/PROFAMILIA.

    The administration’s hard-line anti-abortion stance is undermining women’s rights and U.S. development aid around the world, critics say.
    […]
    Profamilia lost U.S. funds it used to run its clinics after the Trump administration brought back and expanded a Ronald Reagan-era policy—formally known as the Mexico City policy, but often called the “global gag rule” by critics—that prohibits U.S. health-related aid to foreign non-governmental organizations that perform or promote abortion. The rule has such far-reaching impacts that, beyond limiting abortion access, it has also decreased access to contraception and treatment for illnesses such as HIV and tuberculosis, as organizations that have lost funding roll back or close services.

    Scrambling, Profamilia tried to replace the closed clinics with mobile teams—called mobile health brigades—that set up pop-up clinics in communities for two to three days at a time for “the most basic, basic needs,” explained Royo. But it was a poor substitute: The clinics had offered extensive services, including free counseling for adolescents, and educational workshops about sexual health and reproductive rights. Teens in these communities, where teen pregnancy rates are as high as 49 percent, desperately need this information, Royo said. Otherwise, unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions could rise.

    Globally, the Trump administration’s policy is contributing to a backlash against women’s and girl’s rights, according to women’s rights advocates, including Royo, and political leaders from around the world who attended Women Deliver, the world’s largest conference on gender equality, in Vancouver in early June.

    We’re seeing a pushback against women’s rights, whether it is attacks on a woman’s fundamental right to choose or violence against indigenous women and girls,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a press conference at Women Deliver, where he pledged $525 million annually for global sexual and reproductive health rights, including abortion.

  • Afghan Migration to Germany: History and Current Debates

    In light of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, Afghan migration to Germany accelerated in recent years. This has prompted debates and controversial calls for return.

    Historical Overview
    Afghan migration to Germany goes back to the first half of the 20th century. To a large extent, the arrival of Afghan nationals occurred in waves, which coincided with specific political regimes and periods of conflict in Afghanistan between 1978 and 2001. Prior to 1979 fewer than 2,000 Afghans lived in Germany. Most of them were either businesspeople or students. The trade city of Hamburg and its warehouses attracted numerous Afghan carpet dealers who subsequently settled with their families. Some families who were among the traders that came to Germany at an early stage still run businesses in the warehouse district of the city.[1]

    Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the number of Afghans seeking refuge and asylum in Germany increased sharply. Between 1980 and 1982 the population grew by around 3,000 persons per year. This was followed by a short period of receding numbers, before another period of immigration set in from 1985, when adherents of communist factions began facing persecution in Afghanistan. Following a few years with lower immigration rates, numbers started rising sharply again from 1989 onwards in the wake of the civil war in Afghanistan and due to mounting restrictions for Afghans living in Iran and Pakistan. Increasing difficulties in and expulsions from these two countries forced many Afghans to search for and move on to new destinations, including Germany.[2] Throughout the 1990s immigration continued with the rise of the Taliban and the establishment of a fundamentalist regime. After reaching a peak in 1995, numbers of incoming migrants from Afghanistan declined for several years. However, they began to rise again from about 2010 onwards as a result of continuing conflict and insecurity in Afghanistan on the one hand and persistently problematic living conditions for Afghans in Iran and Pakistan on the other hand.

    A particularly sharp increase occurred in the context of the ’long summer of migration’[3] in 2015, which continued in 2016 when a record number of 253,485 Afghan nationals were registered in Germany. This number includes established residents of Afghan origin as well as persons who newly arrived in recent years. This sharp increase is also mirrored in the number of asylum claims of Afghan nationals, which reached a historical peak of 127,012 in 2016. Following the peak in 2016 the Afghan migrant population has slightly decreased. Reasons for the numerical decrease include forced and voluntary return to Afghanistan, onward migration to third countries, and expulsion according to the so-called Dublin Regulation. Naturalisations also account for the declining number of Afghan nationals in Germany, albeit to a much lesser extent (see Figures 1 and 2).

    The Afghan Migrant Population in Germany
    Over time, the socio-economic and educational backgrounds of Afghan migrants changed significantly. Many of those who formed part of early immigrant cohorts were highly educated and had often occupied high-ranking positions in Afghanistan. A significant number had worked for the government, while others were academics, doctors or teachers.[4] Despite being well-educated, professionally trained and experienced, many Afghans who came to Germany as part of an early immigrant cohort were unable to find work in an occupational field that would match their professional qualifications. Over the years, levels of education and professional backgrounds of Afghans arriving to Germany became more diverse. On average, the educational and professional qualifications of those who came in recent years are much lower compared to earlier cohorts of Afghan migrants.

    At the end of 2017, the Federal Statistical Office registered 251,640 Afghan nationals in Germany. This migrant population is very heterogeneous as far as persons’ legal status is concerned. Table 1 presents a snapshot of the different legal statuses that Afghan nationals in Germany held in 2017.

    Similar to other European countrie [5], Germany has been receiving increasing numbers of unaccompanied Afghan minors throughout the last decade.[6] In December 2017, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) registered 10,453 persons of Afghan origin under the age of 18, including asylum seekers, holders of a temporary residence permit as well as persons with refugee status. The situation of unaccompanied minors is specific in the sense that they are under the auspices of the Children and Youth support services (Kinder- und Jugendhilfe). This implies that unaccompanied Afghan minors are entitled to specific accommodation and the support of a temporary guardian. According to the BAMF, education and professional integration are priority issues for the reception of unaccompanied minors. However, the situation of these migrants changes once they reach the age of 18 and become legally deportable.[7] For this reason, their period of residence in Germany is marked by ambiguity.

    Fairly modest at first, the number of naturalisations increased markedly from the late 1980s, which is likely to be connected to the continuous aggravation of the situation in Afghanistan.[8]

    With an average age of 23.7 years, Germany’s Afghan population is relatively young. Among Afghan residents who do not hold German citizenship there is a gender imbalance with males outweighing females by roughly 80,390 persons. Until recently, most Afghans arrived in Germany with their family. However, the individual arrival of Afghan men has been a dominant trend in recent years, which has become more pronounced from 2012 onwards with rising numbers of Afghan asylum seekers (see Figure 2).[9]

    The Politicization of Afghan Migration
    Prior to 2015, the Afghan migrant population that had not received much public attention. However, with the significant increase in numbers from 2015 onwards, it was turned into a subject of increased debate and politicization. The German military and reconstruction engagement in Afghanistan constitutes an important backdrop to the debates unfolding around the presence of Afghan migrants – most of whom are asylum seekers – in Germany. To a large extent, these debates revolved around the legitimacy of Afghan asylum claims. The claims of persons who, for example, supported German troops as interpreters were rarely questioned.[10] Conversely, the majority of newly arriving Afghans were framed as economic migrants rather than persons fleeing violence and persecution. In 2015, chancellor Angela Merkel warned Afghan nationals from coming to Germany for economic reasons and simply in search for a better life.[11] She underlined the distinction between “economic migrants” and persons facing concrete threats due to their past collaboration with German troops in Afghanistan. The increasing public awareness of the arrival of Afghan asylum seekers and growing skepticism regarding the legitimacy of their presence mark the context in which debates on deportations of Afghan nationals began to unfold.

    Deportations of Afghan Nationals: Controversial Debates and Implementation
    The Federal Government (Bundesregierung) started to consider deportations to Afghanistan in late 2015. Debates about the deportation of Afghan nationals were also held at the EU level and form an integral part of the Joint Way Forward agreement between Afghanistan and the EU. The agreement was signed in the second half of 2016 and reflects the commitment of the EU and the Afghan Government to step up cooperation on addressing and preventing irregular migration [12] and encourage return of irregular migrants such as persons whose asylum claims are rejected. In addition, the governments of Germany and Afghanistan signed a bilateral agreement on the return of Afghan nationals to their country of origin. At that stage it was estimated that around five percent of all Afghan nationals residing in Germany were facing return.[13] To back plans of forced removal, the Interior Ministry stated that there are “internal protection alternatives”, meaning areas in Afghanistan that are deemed sufficiently safe for people to be deported to and that a deterioration of security could not be confirmed for the country as such.[14] In addition, the BAMF would individually examine and conduct specific risk assessments for each asylum application and potential deportees respectively.

    Country experts and international actors such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) agree on the absence of internal protection alternatives in Afghanistan, stating that there are no safe areas in the country.[15] Their assessments are based on the continuously deteriorating security situation. Since 2014, annual numbers of civilian deaths and casualties continuously exceed 10,000 with a peak of 11,434 in 2016. This rise in violent incidents has been recorded in 33 of 34 provinces. In August 2017 the United Nations changed their assessment of the situation in Afghanistan from a “post-conflict country” to “a country undergoing a conflict that shows few signs of abating”[16] for the first time after the fall of the Taliban. However, violence occurs unevenly across Afghanistan. In 2017 the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), registered the highest levels of civilian casualties in Kabul province and Kabul city more specifically. After Kabul, the highest numbers of civilian casualties were recorded in Helmand, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Faryab, Uruzgan, Herat, Paktya, Kunduz, and Laghman provinces.[17]

    Notwithstanding deteriorating security conditions in Afghanistan and parliamentary, non-governmental and civil society protests, Germany’s Federal Government implemented a first group deportation of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan in late 2016. Grounds for justification of these measures were not only the assumed “internal protection alternatives”. In addition, home secretary Thomas de Maizière emphasised that many of the deportees were convicted criminals.[18] The problematic image of male Muslim immigrants in the aftermath of the incidents on New Year’s Eve in the city of Cologne provides fertile ground for such justifications of deportations to Afghanistan. “The assaults (sexualized physical and property offences) which young, unmarried Muslim men committed on New Year’s Eve offered a welcome basis for re-framing the ‘refugee question’ as an ethnicized and sexist problem.”[19]

    It is important to note that many persons of Afghan origin spent long periods – if not most or all of their lives – outside Afghanistan in one of the neighboring countries. This implies that many deportees are unfamiliar with life in their country of citizenship and lack local social networks. The same applies to persons who fled Afghanistan but who are unable to return to their place of origin for security reasons. The existence of social networks and potential support structures, however, is particularly important in countries marked by high levels of insecurity, poverty, corruption, high unemployment rates and insufficient (public) services and infrastructure.[20] Hence, even if persons who are deported to Afghanistan may be less exposed to a risk of physical harm in some places, the absence of social contacts and support structures still constitutes an existential threat.

    Debates on and executions of deportations to Afghanistan have been accompanied by parliamentary opposition on the one hand and street-level protests on the other hand. Non-governmental organisations such as Pro Asyl and local refugee councils have repeatedly expressed their criticism of forced returns to Afghanistan.[21] The execution of deportations has been the responsibility of the federal states (Ländersache). This leads to significant variations in the numbers of deportees. In light of a degrading security situation in Afghanistan, several governments of federal states (Landesregierungen) moreover paused deportations to Afghanistan in early 2017. Concomitantly, recognition rates of Afghan asylum seekers have continuously declined.[22]

    A severe terrorist attack on the German Embassy in Kabul on 31 May 2017 led the Federal Government to revise its assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan and to temporarily pause deportations to the country. According to chancellor Merkel, the temporary ban of deportations was contingent on the deteriorating security situation and could be lifted once a new, favourable assessment was in place. While pausing deportations of rejected asylum seekers without criminal record, the Federal Government continued to encourage voluntary return and deportations of convicted criminals of Afghan nationality as well as individuals committing identity fraud during their asylum procedure.

    The ban of deportations of rejected asylum seekers without criminal record to Afghanistan was lifted in July 2018, although the security situation in the country continues to be very volatile.[23] The decision was based on a revised assessment of the security situation through the Foreign Office and heavily criticised by the centre left opposition in parliament as well as by NGOs and churches. Notwithstanding such criticism, the attitude of the Federal Government has been rigorous. By 10 January 2019, 20 group deportation flights from Germany to Kabul were executed, carrying a total number of 475 Afghans.[24]

    Assessing the Situation in Afghanistan
    Continuing deportations of Afghan nationals are legitimated by the assumption that certain regions in Afghanistan fulfil the necessary safety requirements for deportees. But how does the Federal Government – and especially the BAMF – come to such arbitrary assessments of the security situation on the one hand and individual prospects on the other hand? While parliamentary debates about deportations to Afghanistan were ongoing, the news magazine Spiegel reported on how the BAMF conducts security assessments for Afghanistan. According to their revelations, BAMF staff hold weekly briefings on the occurrence of military combat, suicide attacks, kidnappings and targeted killings. If the proportion of civilian casualties remains below 1:800, the level of individual risk is considered low and insufficient for someone to be granted protection in Germany.[25] The guidelines of the BAMF moreover rule that young men who are in working age and good health are assumed to find sufficient protection and income opportunities in Afghanistan’s urban centres, so that they are able to secure to meet the subsistence level. Such possibilities are even assumed to exist for persons who cannot mobilise family or other social networks for their support. Someone’s place or region of origin is another aspect considered when assessing whether or not Afghan asylum seekers are entitled to remain in Germany. The BAMF examines the security and supply situation of the region where persons were born or where they last lived before leaving Afghanistan. These checks also include the question which religious and political convictions are dominant at the place in question. According to these assessment criteria, the BAMF considers the following regions as sufficiently secure: Kabul, Balkh, Herat, Bamiyan, Takhar, Samangan and Panjshir.[26]

    Voluntary Return
    In addition to executing the forced removal of rejected Afghan asylum seekers, Germany encourages the voluntary return of Afghan nationals.[27] To this end it supports the Reintegration and Emigration Programme for Asylum Seekers in Germany which covers travel expenses and offers additional financial support to returnees. Furthermore, there is the Government Assisted Repatriation Programme, which provides financial support to persons who wish to re-establish themselves in their country of origin. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) organises and supervises return journeys that are supported by these programmes. Since 2015, several thousand Afghan nationals left Germany with the aid of these programmes. Most of these voluntary returnees were persons who had no legal residence status in Germany, for example persons whose asylum claim had been rejected or persons holding an exceptional leave to remain (Duldung).

    Outlook
    The continuing conflict in Afghanistan not only causes death, physical and psychological hurt but also leads to the destruction of homes and livelihoods and impedes access to health, education and services for large parts of the Afghan population. This persistently problematic situation affects the local population as much as it affects migrants who – voluntarily or involuntarily – return to Afghanistan. For this reason, migration out of Afghanistan is likely to continue, regardless of the restrictions which Germany and other receiving states are putting into place.

    http://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/migration/laenderprofile/288934/afghan-migration-to-germany
    #Allemagne #Afghanistan #réfugiés_afghans #histoire #asile #migrations #réfugiés #chiffres #statistiques #renvois #expulsions #retour_volontaire #procédure_d'asile
    ping @_kg_

  • Twitter Takes Down Accounts of China Dissidents Ahead of Tiananmen Anniversary - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/01/business/twitter-china-tiananmen.html

    Yet the culprit was not Chinese censors but Twitter’s own overactive filters.

    In a statement, Twitter said that as a part of its routine efforts to stop spam and inauthentic behavior, it had inadvertently gone after a number of legitimate Chinese-language accounts.

    “These accounts were not mass reported by the Chinese authorities — this was routine action on our part,” the company said in a statement on Twitter. “Sometimes our routine actions catch false positives or we make errors. We apologize.”

    Online, many users said they did not believe Twitter’s statement told the whole story. One human rights lawyer, whose account had been taken down, said that in protest he tweeted an image of Twitter’s bird mascot colored red with five yellow stars to evoke the Chinese flag.

    In the past, Twitter has come under fire for its political tone deafness, especially overseas. After the United Nations found that deliberate social media manipulation helped encourage a genocide in Myanmar, Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey, chose the country as the destination for a meditation retreat. While there, he declined to meet with organizers who were fighting violent propaganda and dangerous rumors spread on the platform.

    Twitter said that all users in China who had their accounts recently suspended should be able to recover them, though a day later, some accounts remained locked, according to Yaxue Cao, editor of ChinaChange.org, a website dedicated to writings on civil society and human rights.

    “I do believe Twitter is trying to do good,” Ms. Cao said. “No questions about that. But the results are mixed.”

    #Twitter #Censure #Chine

  • Hundreds of Europeans ‘criminalised’ for helping migrants – as far right aims to win big in European elections

    Elderly women, priests and firefighters among those arrested, charged or ‘harassed’ by police for supporting migrants, with numbers soaring in the past 18 months.

    These cases – compiled from news reports and other records from researchers, NGOs and activist groups, as well as new interviews across Europe – suggest a sharp increase in the number of people targeted since the start of 2018. At least 100 people were arrested, charged or investigated last year (a doubling of that figure for the preceding year).


    https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/hundreds-of-europeans-criminalised-for-helping-migrants-new-data-show
    #délit_de_solidarité #solidarité #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Europe
    #Allemagne #criminalisation #statistiques #chiffres #Suisse #Danemark #Espagne #France #journalisme #journalistes #presse #Grèce #Calais

    #Norbert_Valley #Christian_Hartung #Miguel_Roldan #Lise_Ramslog #Claire_Marsol #Anouk_Van_Gestel #Lisbeth_Zornig_Andersen #Daphne_Vloumidi #Mikael_Lindholm #Fernand_Bosson #Benoit_Duclois #Mussie_Zerai #Manuel_Blanco #Tom_Ciotkowski #Rob_Lawrie

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • For Iranians, the War Has Already Begun – LobeLog
    https://lobelog.com/for-iranians-the-war-has-already-begun

    #Iran is only marginally reflected in the U.S. news, which means the American public does not hear voices that express the human suffering caused by the U.S. government far beyond its borders. The murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, Trump’s best ally in the region, is a rare instance of attention given to the nature of America’s allies and Iran’s opponents in the Middle East. Pro-democracy Iranians worldwide are experiencing a political trauma. They feel alienated from both internal and world politics. They are unable to communicate the debilitating pain of, on the one hand, expecting a military attack by the United States and on the other, the worsening of the political landscape in their home country.

    [...]

    Living a double life between the United States and Iran, I struggle daily with moments of despair and alienation: I am simply unable to communicate my concerns with the most caring colleagues at work and at school. U.S. civil society is so devoid of a voice representing my position that I struggle to find a way to verbalize my sense of panic, frustration, and despair. These fused feelings emerge because the wall between me and the rest of the society does not allow them to see the impact of the U.S. government’s decisions in lives lived far from them, but so close to my heart.

    #etats-unis #guerre

  • Russia’s Payback Will Be Syria’s Reconstruction Money – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/05/05/russias-payback-will-be-syrias-reconstruction-money


    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad inspect a military parade during their visit to the Russian air base in Hmeimim in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia on Dec. 11, 2017.
    MIKHAIL KIMENTYEV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

    But international donors—and Bashar al-Assad—aren’t playing along yet.
    […]
    Almost four years later, with rebels having mostly abandoned calls for regime change and losing large swaths of their enclaves, Russia has achieved most of its short- and medium-term goals in Syria. A growing number of signs suggest Moscow is now shifting focus to another objective: The Kremlin would like Syria to provide it a financial windfall.
    […]
    Russian analysts say Moscow had originally envisaged a sect-based power-sharing arrangement, modeled on Lebanon, between the Syrian government and several opposition groups as the political panacea for the conflict. But Russia could neither convince the regime nor the rebels to compromise and abandoned the plan. Now it has reduced its ambitions and is focused on using its leverage with Assad to agree on a constitutional committee whose members have been appointed by the regime, the opposition, and representatives of Syrian civil society.

    Max Suckov, a Russia analyst, said Moscow would achieve little more in terms of a political settlement. “Russia is not very hopeful about a political settlement which satisfies all Syrian actors,” he said. “I think Russia has accepted that Syria will continue to be a centralized state, but that certainly makes it difficult to convince the EU to pay for reconstruction.”

  • Comment #Big_Pharma pénalise-t-il le traitement de l’épidémie des opiacés ? - Actualité Houssenia Writing
    https://actualite.housseniawriting.com/sante/2017/08/09/comment-big-pharma-penalise-t-il-le-traitement-de-lepidemie-des-opiaces/23013

    Traduction d’un article de The Conversation par Robin Feldman, professeure de propriété intellectuelle à l’université de Californie.

    Les grandes entreprises pharmacologiques (Big Pharma) utilisent de nombreuses tactiques pour retarder l’arrivée des #génériques et on peut prendre l’exemple des traitements contre l’épidémie des #opiacés.

    • En 2015, 80 % de la croissance des bénéfices des 20 plus grandes entreprises technologiques provenaient de l’augmentation des prix. Et les médicaments aux États-Unis sont largement plus chers que dans d’autres pays. Par exemple, le Syprine, un médicament contre l’insuffisante hépatique, coute moins de 400 dollars pour un an de traitement dans de nombreux pays. Aux États-Unis, ce médicament coute 300 000 dollars. Sovaldi, le médicament contre l’hépatite C de Gilead, coute environ 1 000 dollars à l’étranger. Aux États-Unis, il coute 84 000 dollars.

      Il faudra un motif d’inculpation pour trainer les gens qui décident cela devant la justice. Un truc du genre crime contre l’humanité.

    • Un des aspects intéressants des câbles diplomatiques américains, publiés par Wikileaks, c’était justement qu’une des activités principales des ambassades ricaines dans monde consiste à défendre les intérêts des grands groupes pharmaceutiques américaines.

      Par exemple (quasiment au hasard), ce câble de 2005 à ce sujet au Brésil :
      https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/05BRASILIA1567_a.html

      1. (C) Summary. Ambassador Hugueney of Brazil’s Foreign Ministry (Itamaraty) told Ambassador June 6 that U.S. pharmaceutical companies should improve their offers on pricing and/or voluntary licenses for AIDS treatment drugs so as to avoid compulsory licensing by the Ministry of Health (MoH). Hugueney believed movement in the Chamber of Deputies of legislation that would deny patentability to AIDS drugs was likely intended to provide greater leverage to the Ministry of Health in its negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies. The bill’s broad political backing, he observed, makes a presidential veto unlikely should the legislation pass. On the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations, Hugueney said Brazil will submit a “substantially improved” revised services offer the week of June 6. Hugueney expects to take up the post of Brazil’s Ambassador to the WTO by late August or early September. Hugueney confirmed Brazil’s plan to attend the June 21 to 22 US-EU International Conference on Iraq. End Summary.

      2. (SBU) On June 6, Ambassador met with Clodoaldo Hugueney, Itamaraty’s Under Secretary for Economic and Technological Affairs, to discuss a number of trade issues, principally, pending legislation that would render drugs to prevent and treat AIDS un-patentable, and the continuing threat of compulsory licensing facing the U.S. pharmaceutical companies Gilead Sciences, Abbott Laboratories, and Merck, Sharp & Dohme for their AIDS treatment drugs (ref A). Hugueney was accompanied by his assistant, Miguel Franco, and Otavio Brandelli, Chief of the Ministry’s IPR Division. Ecouns, Commoff, and Econoff accompanied Ambassador.

      AIDS Drugs - Compulsory License Threat and Patent Legislation

      3. (C) Hugueney, who had just returned from Doha negotiations in Geneva, said Itamaraty is following MoH negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies closely and described them as boiling down to issues of pricing or voluntary license/royalty payments. He noted the intense pressure the GoB is under from civil society, particularly NGOs, to issue compulsory licenses. Hugueney agreed the best outcome would be to avoid compulsory licenses, but opined that to do so would require improved offers on price or voluntary licensing from the companies. (Upon relaying this message to the companies, the Merck representative here told us his company was in the process of preparing a more detailed offer, although he did not say that it would be more forthcoming on prices. As for Gilead and Abbott, they have taken Hugueney’s suggestion “under advisement.”) Hugueney further advised the companies to maintain a dialog with the MoH to forestall precipitous, politically motivated action by that Ministry, and encouraged them to explain/present their proposals to a wide array of GoB interlocutors.

  • Saudi Arabia is carrying out a second oppressive mass slaughter in the era of King Salman, including children, protestors, and activists – European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights
    https://www.esohr.org/en/?p=2196

    Without the knowledge of the victims’ families, the Saudi government today circulated awful news of the execution of 37 people, including minors, protestors, and the disabled. Many of them were linked to the Arab Spring protests that took place in Saudi Arabia, particular in the governorate of Qatif beginning on 17 February 2011. Others were charged by Saudi Arabia with spying for Iran, although most of the charges did not include evidence of actual acts of espionage.

    Among the names were at least six minors: Abdullah Salman Al Sarih and Abdulkarim Mohammad al-Hawaj, whose charges go back to when they were 16 years of age, and Said Mohammad al-Sakafi, Salman Amin Al Quraysh, Mujtaba Nadir al-Sweiket, and Abdulaziz Hassan Al Sahwi, whose charges date back to when they were 17. There are also suspicions that others are likely minors, but the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR) was unable to obtain further details.

    Furthermore, among the shocking executions was Haidar Mohammad Al Laif, who according to Saudi Arabia – in its reply to the UN on 13 December 2017 – was given a final sentence of eight years.

    Many of the charges leveled against the individuals whose executions were announced by the Ministry of Interior were not classified as serious or terroristic crimes. For example, there were charges related to the right to expression, peaceful protest, peaceful association, signing political statements, possessing political documents and information on political detainees. Similarly, some of them have been accused of spreading Shi’ism and practicing non-traditional religious activities involving Shiites in the governorate of Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia.

    The trials of most of the victims of today’s massacre, the details and proceedings of which the ESOHR has followed, have severely lacked the conditions for a fair trial. The trials have taken place in total secrecy and isolation from any of the victim’s relatives or in semi-secrecy, attended by only a few of the victim’s relatives – one to three at most. On the government’s part, select official media entities can attend, as well as members of executive agencies, such as the Mabahith (secret police), and members of the official human rights establishment. Meanwhile, no one from the public or members of civil society can be found at the trial.

    (...)

    In a report issued in February 2019 following a field visit to Saudi Arabia, the former Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ben Emerson, called for “a prompt review of all current cases of prisoners charged and convicted of terrorist offenses who are facing the death penalty, in order to ensure that minimum international standards are met in each case.” He stressed that this means that the death penalty may not be imposed except for the most serious crimes leading to loss of life and may not be imposed on people who were minors at the time of their crimes or people with mental or cognitive disabilities. Ben Emerson’s report included a clear reference to those who were executed today, stating that when 24 people were brought to trial in June of 2016 because of pro-democracy protests in 2011, the Specialized Criminal Court sentenced 14 of them to death. This again confirms that the trials did not fulfill the required legal processes and the standards of a fair trial and that the accused were subjected to torture and were not able to have a lawyer. This case is a source of serious concern.

    The rapporteur also expressed particular concern vis-à-vis “a pattern of systematic oppression in the Eastern Province where most of the Shiite population lives,” noting that death sentences were issued against many members of the Shiite minority – who were facing imminent execution – for their participation in pro-democracy demonstrations in Eastern Province in 2011 and 2012.

    The brutal executions carried out by Saudi Arabia today blatantly ignored the many urgent appeals of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Special Rapporteurs, and various committees. These appeals included many of the names of people who were killed by Saudi Arabia today:

    (...)

    With the executions today, the number of victims of execution since 2019 to today totals 105, while at this point in 2018 there were 48 executions. The rate has more than doubled by 50% compared to last year.

    As stipulated in Saudi Arabia, executions are carried out only after the signature of the king or his deputy, which makes King Salman directly and explicitly responsible for the executions carried out today.

    The ESOHR does not have information about some of the names mentioned as executed today. This goes back to the Saudi government’s closure of all spaces for civil society and the intimidation surrounding the families of the victims. The ESOHR also emphasizes the lack of confidence in the accounts offered by the state under the justification of “terrorism.”

    The ESOHR believes that Saudi Arabia has entered into a bloody era since the ascension of King Salman and his Crown Prince and their absolute control over the country, both internally and externally. The first and most heinous manifestation of this internal control was the mass execution of 2 January 2016. This was followed by numerous crimes, culminating in today’s crime of executing 37 citizens – among them minors, the disabled, and demonstrators – on charges that fall within freedom and opinion and expression and are not classified as criminal.

    After this heinous crime, the ESOHR calls for an international investigation to be opened in order to hold accountable all those responsible for the crimes and violations that have occurred. The ESOHR believes that this is the response that may bring this bloodshed to an end. The ESOHR also calls for a review of Saudi Arabia’s membership in various UN agencies and committees.

    The ESOHR is raising profound concerns about dozens of people threatened with becoming victims of other executions in the future and advocates all legal means to save their lives.

    #arabie_saoudite notre cliente et alliée

  • First #Geneva_Declaration_on_Human_Rights_at_Sea published

    The first version of the inaugural ‘Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea‘ is today published by Human Rights at Sea after the initial drafting session was held in Switzerland on 20-21 March 2019 at the Graduate Instiute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.

    The Declaration was first announced to students in Malta on 4 April at the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) during the second Human Rights and the Law of the Sea workshop held in co-ordination with the Stockton Centre for International Law; and today will be briefed at the World Maritime University, Malmo, Sweden during the Empowering Women in the Maritime Community conference by the charity’s Iranian researcher, Sayedeh Hajar Hejazi.

    The principal aim of the Declaration is to raise global awareness of the abuse of human rights at sea and to mobilise a concerted international effort to put an end to it.

    It recognises established International Human Rights Law and International Maritime Law, highlights the applicable legal assumptions, and reflects the emerging development and customary use of the increased cross-over of the two bodies of law.

    The concept of human rights at sea rests on four fundamental principles: 1. Human rights apply at sea to exactly the same degree and extent that they do on land. 2. All persons at sea, without any distinction, enjoy human rights at sea. 3. There are no maritime specific rules allowing derogation from human rights standards. 4. All human rights established under treaty and customary international law must be respected at sea.

    The core drafting team comprises: Professor Anna Petrig, LL.M. (Harvard), University of Basel, Switzerland, Professor Irini Papanicolopulu, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, Professor Steven Haines, Greenwich University, United Kingdom and David Hammond Esq. BSc (Hons), PgDL, Human Rights at Sea, United Kingdom. It is supported by Elisabeth Mavropoulou LL.M. (Westminster), Sayedeh Hajar Hejazi LL.M. (Symbiosis India).

    The first drafting round was supported with input and observers from multiple UN agencies, leading human rights lawyers, international and civil society organisations.

    The second drafting session will be held in Geneva in May.


    https://www.humanrightsatsea.org/2019/04/05/first-geneva-declaration-on-human-rights-at-sea-published
    #mer #droits_humains #déclaration
    ping @reka @simplicissimus

    Pour télécharger la déclaration :
    https://www.humanrightsatsea.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/HRAS_GENEVA_DECLARATION_ON_HUMAN_RIGHTS_AT_SEA_5_April_2019_Versio

  • Nowhere to go: #Myanmar farmers under siege from land law

    The Myanmar government has tightened a law on so-called ’vacant, fallow and virgin’ land, and farmers are at risk.

    Han Win Naung is besieged on his own land.

    Last September, local administrators in Myanmar’s southern Tanintharyi region put up a sign at the edge of his 5.7-hectare farm that read “Under Management Ownership - Do Not Trespass”.

    They felled the trees and started building a drug rehabilitation facility and an agriculture training school on opposite ends of his plot.

    He was eventually informed that the administrators were challenging his claim to the land and had filed charges against him under a controversial law that could see him jailed for three years.

    “I didn’t know what this law was,” the 37-year-old farmer told Al Jazeera. “I didn’t understand what was happening to us. They also asked us to move. We don’t have anywhere else to go.”

    Han Win Naung is accused of violating the Vacant, Fellow and Virgin (#VFV) Lands Management Law which requires anyone living on land categorised as “vacant, fallow, and virgin” to apply for a permit to continue using it for the next 30 years.

    According to estimates based on government data, this category totals more than 20 million hectares or 30 percent of Myanmar’s land area. Three-quarters of it is home to the country’s ethnic minorities.

    The law has sparked outrage among land-rights activists, who say it criminalises millions of farmers who do not have permits and lays the ground for unchecked land seizures by the government, the military and private companies.

    Struggle to survive

    “The more people learn about this law, the more they will use it against farmers who cannot afford lawyers,” said a lawyer who is representing Han Win Naung. She asked to be identified only as a member of Tanintharyi Friends, a group that represents several farmers who have been sued under this law.

    Now Han Win Naung’s farm is in disrepair. Because of the lawsuit, he has been unable to tend to the mango, banana and cashew trees that have sustained his family since his father set up the farm 28 years ago.

    “We haven’t been able to do anything on the farm since September … We are facing a lot of trouble getting food on the table,” he said.

    The VFV law is modelled on a British colonial policy in which land occupied by indigenous people was labelled “wasteland” in order to justify seizing it and extracting its revenue. After independence, Myanmar’s military rulers adopted the strategy as a way to ensure they could feed their ranks.

    In 2012, the nominally civilian government under former general Thein Sein enshrined the strategy into law, referring to the targeted land as “vacant, fallow, and virgin” instead of “wasteland”.

    Last year, despite coming to power on a platform of protecting the land rights of smallholder farmers and promising to reverse all military land grabs within a single year, the government of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) made the VFV law stricter.

    With the NLD’s endorsement, arrests and evictions of farmers like Han Win Naung are accelerating.

    In September 2018, Myanmar’s parliament, which is controlled by the NLD, passed an amendment that imposed a two-year prison sentence on anyone found living on “vacant, fallow, and virgin land” without a permit after March 11.

    This gave millions of farmers, many of them illiterate or unable to speak Burmese, just six months to complete a Kafkaesque process of claiming land they already consider their own.

    According to a survey conducted by the Mekong Region Land Governance Project, in the month before the deadline, 95 percent of people living on so-called VFV land had no knowledge of the law.

    ’Torn up’

    As the deadline approached, local land-rights activists jumped into action, sending petitions to the government demanding that the law be repealed.

    In November, 300 civil society organisations signed an open letter denouncing the law as “an effort to grab the land of ethnic peoples across the country”, especially land belonging to hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people who have no ability to apply for permits.

    In December, the Karen National Union (KNU), a powerful ethnic armed organisation that had recently withdrawn from the national peace process, called for the VFV law to be “torn up”, raising the spectre of future conflict.

    But these petitions fell on deaf ears, and as the deadline expired, millions of people, many of whose families had been on the same land for generations, became trespassers.

    Saw Alex Htoo, deputy director of the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN), blames the NLD’s pursuit of foreign investment for the policy.

    “The NLD is pushing for investment to come into the country without really looking at what’s happening on the ground,” he said. “That’s the only way they could support this VFV law, which is inviting conflict and will displace millions of farmers across the country.”

    When asked why the party would pass an amendment that could harm so many people, NLD spokesperson Myo Nyunt said that while land disputes might arise, the purpose of the law was not mass dispossession.

    “The purpose of the law is to promote the rule of law,” he said.

    "When we implement the new law, those affected have the responsibility to understand and follow it. If they have grievances, they can report them to the relevant committee addressing land grabs. There will be some people who are affected negatively by this law, but that is not the intention of this law.

    “The government is working to improve the livelihood and quality of life in Myanmar and the rule of law.”

    Ye Lin Myint, national coordinator for the Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA), said enforcement of the VFV law actually calls the rule of law into question because it contradicts several earlier government commitments, including the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) between the government and eight ethnic armed organizations.

    “The NCA clearly states that during the peace process, there should be no land seizures,” he said. “This law will start a domino effect of ethnic conflict.”

    Conflict over the VFV law has already begun. At least one activist has been arrested for protesting against it and observers say the NLD’s role in generating conflict risks a backlash in next year’s election.

    “The ruling National League for Democracy party are really shooting themselves in the foot with the VFV law,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “This will be a human rights disaster that goes to the doorstep of millions of farmers across the nation, and it’s a fair bet they will punish those they consider responsible in the next election.”

    Han Win Naung attests to this. Since he was sued, his 80-year-old father has stopped eating and cannot sleep. His children, nieces, and nephews are embarrassed to go to school.

    “People like us have been suffering since this government came to power,” he said. “We don’t think we will be voting for the NLD in 2020.”

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/myanmar-farmers-siege-land-law-190328003658355.html
    #Birmanie #terres #agriculture #géographie_du_vide #loi #expulsion #minorités #accaparemment_des_terres
    ping @odilon

  • » Palestinians on One Year Anniversary of Great Return March
    IMEMC News - March 31, 2019 3:50 AM
    https://imemc.org/article/palestinians-on-one-year-anniversary-of-great-return-march

    Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are marking Land Day and the one-year anniversary of Gaza’s Great March of Return by protesting against Israel’s brutal siege and demanding their rights. These unarmed protesters have been met with Israeli sniper fire that, so far, has killed 195 protesters, and injured 29,000 more. The UN’s Commission of Inquiry has found that Israel’s attacks on the protesters “may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.”

    Today, PNN reports, Palestinian civil society renews its call for a military embargo against Israel and amplifying BDS campaigns to end Israel’s impunity and hold it accountable for its crimes.

    Sabreen Al Najjar, a paramedic from Gaza, said: ”My daughter, paramedic Razan Al Najjar, was shot by an Israeli sniper while wearing her white uniform and trying to rescue those injured protesting for their rights. During Razan’s short life, she was confined to a densely populated, prison-like strip of land, surrounded by Israeli blockades and walls.

    “She witnessed three Israeli military aggressions that wounded and killed thousands of innocent Palestinians. For her and for all Palestinians, the Great Return March is our cry for justice.

    “As we stand together peacefully, every weekend, for the rights and freedoms freely given to others without hesitation, it’s the obligation of the international community to act and stop supplying Israel with the weapons that it used to kill Razan and so many others like her.

    “I call on organizations and states to implement our Palestinian call for a military embargo against Israel so that we can live in freedom and peace.”

    Abulrahman Abunahel, Gaza-based community organizer and coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) said:”For more than seven decades, Palestinian people have been struggling to return to their homes from which they were uprooted in the Nakba in 1948.

    “Israel denies us our right of return. On the first anniversary of the ongoing Great March of Return in Gaza, we reiterate the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions for Palestinian rights. It is high time to fully isolate and prosecute the Israeli regime of settler-colonialism, occupation, and apartheid. The bloodshed in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine must be stopped”.

    #BDS #Sabreen_Al_Najjar

  • Driven to suicide in Tunisia’s UNHCR refugee shelter

    Lack of adequate care and #frustration over absence of resettlement plans prompt attempted suicides, refugees say.

    Last Monday night, 16-year-old Nato* slit his wrists and was rushed to the local hospital in Medenine.

    He had decided to end his life in a refugee facility run by the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, in Medenine. After running for two years, escaping Eritrea and near-certain conscription into the country’s army, making it through Sudan, Egypt and Libya, he had reached Tunisia and despair.

    A few days later, Nato was transferred to a psychiatric hospital in #Sfax, 210km north of Medenine, where he was kept on lockdown and was frustrated that he was not able to communicate with anyone in the facility.

    Nato’s isn’t the only story of despair among refugees in Tunisia. A female refugee was taken to hospital after drinking bleach, while a 16-year-old unaccompanied young girl tried to escape over the borders to Libya, but was stopped at Ben Gardane.

    “I’m not surprised by what has happened to Nato,” a 16-year-old at the UNHCR facility told Al Jazeera on the condition of anonymity.

    “They just keep us here without providing any support and after we ... witnessed killings of our friends. We feel completely abandoned. We don’t feel secure and protected,” he said.

    The 30 to 35 unaccompanied minors living in UNHCR’s reception facility in Medenine share a room, spending their days remembering past images of violence and abuse.

    “I cannot get out of my mind the picture of my friend dying after they pointed a gun at his temple. He was sitting next to me. Sometimes at night, I cannot sleep,” the 16-year-old said.
    ’They’re trying to hide us here’

    The UNHCR facility in Medenine struggles to offer essential services to a growing number of arrivals.

    According to the information given to Al Jazeera, the asylum seekers and refugees have not received medical screenings or access to psychosocial support, nor were they informed clearly of their rights in Tunisia.

    “We feel they are trying to hide us here,” said Amin*. “How can we say we are safe if UNHCR is not protecting our basic rights? If we are here left without options, we will try to cross the sea.”

    Amin, 19, has no vision of what his life will be. He would like to continue his education or learn a new language but, since his arrival, he has only promises and hopes, no plans.

    The young people here find themselves having to take care of themselves and navigate the questions of what their future will be like, at times without even being able to reach out to their families back home for comfort.

    “My parents are in Eritrea and since more than a year, I was able to speak with them only for three minutes,” said Senait*, a 15-year-old boy from Eritrea.

    Aaron*, a 16-year-old boy who has been on the road for three years and three months, has not been able to call his relatives at all since his arrival in Tunisia.

    “Last time I have contacted them was in 2016 while I was in Sudan. I miss them so much,” he said.

    Last week, many of them participated in a peaceful demonstration, demanding medical care, support from the UNHCR and resettlement to third countries.

    Refugee lives in suspension

    Nato, as well as a number of refugee minors Al Jazeera spoke to, arrived in Tunisia over the Libyan border with the help of smugglers. The same is true for hundreds of refugees escaping Libya.

    Tunisia registered more than 1,000 refugees and 350 asylum seekers, mainly from Syria, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia.

    But the country has neither the capacity nor the means to host refugees, and because it doesn’t have a coherent asylum system, the refugees find themselves living a largely suspended life.

    Officially, refugees are not allowed to work and, therefore, there is no formal system of protection for those that do work.

    Awate*, a 24-year-old man from Eritrea, had been working for nine days in a hotel in the seaside city of Zarzis when he was arrested and brought to a police station where he was interrogated for 30 minutes.

    “They told me ’why are you going to work without passport?’,” he said, adding that he has not worked since.

    The UNHCR in Tunisia is pushing alternatives, which include enhancing refugees’ self-reliance and livelihood opportunities.

    A month ago, a group of 32 people moved out of the reception centre with an offer of a monthly payment of 350 Tunisian dinars ($116) and help to find private accommodation. Among them, nine decided to go to the capital, Tunis. The plan is confirmed for three months, with no clarity on what happens next.

    Aklilu*, a 36-year-old former child soldier from Eritrea who took up the offer, is now renting a small apartment on the main road to Djerba for 250 Tunisian dinars ($83).

    “Why should I be forced to settle in a country that’s not ready to host refugees?” he said. “They are thinking of Tunisia as the final destination but there are no conditions for it. The UNHCR is not making any effort to integrate us. We don’t get any language courses or technical training.”


    https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/driven-suicide-tunisia-unhcr-refugee-shelter-190319052430125.html
    #Tunisie #HCR #UNHCR #camps_de_réfugiés #suicide #réinstallation #limbe #attente #transit #trauma #traumatisme #santé_mentale #MNA #mineurs_non_accompagnés #migrations #asile #réfugiés
    ping @_kg_

  • Michel Wieviorka pour le NYT

    Opinion | There Really Is a French Exception - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/15/opinion/macron-gilets-jaunes-debate.html


    Ian Langsdon/EPA, via Shutterstock

    But will the government rise to the occasion created by the Gilets jaunes movement?
    […]
    But it’s worth noting that the government hardly set up any meetings or direct exchanges with the Gilets jaunes as such. Instead of reaching out to them, Mr. Macron preferred to engage with local officials or other ordinary citizens.

    Nor has the great debate spawned any real representatives among the Gilets jaunes — a vacuum that makes concrete negotiations difficult. The movement’s very nature contributed to this, of course, since time and again the Gilets jaunes themselves pushed back against any attempt to structure or formalize their efforts. For a brief moment there seemed to be an impulse to create a political party from the movement or at least let emerge some official spokespeople. But that no longer seems remotely possible.

    Mr. Macron, even when faced with the breakdown of the political system itself, has continued to tackle problems from the top down and without resorting to intermediaries. Instead of moving away from this vertical approach, he has exploited it. His only credible political opponents now are parties at the extremes, on the far left (Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France Insoumise) and the far right (Marine Le Pen and le Rassemblement National). According to polls, the president’s party is leading the race for the European elections.

    Was all this a strategic calculation? Quite probably. In any event, the situation today is a far cry from auguring the renewal of this democratic system. The most that has emerged so far is a handful of proposals from civil society — for example, the program for a greener economy jointly put forward by Nicolas Hulot, a former environment minister, and Laurent Berger, the head of France’s leading (and reformist) union, the Confédération française démocratique du travail (the French Democratic Confederation of Labor).

    France, unlike other countries, has been fortunate enough to experience a popular upheaval that has raised serious economic, social and institutional questions. Elsewhere — in Britain, the United States, Italy, Poland, Hungary — the discontent immediately lapsed into populism, nationalism or withdrawal. But if the French government doesn’t adequately address the legitimate, or at least reasonable, concerns of the Gilets jaunes, it runs the risk of pushing them, as well as other French people, toward the pitfalls France has avoided so far.

  • #Pro-savana

    Vision

    Improve the livelihood of inhabitants of #Nacala_Corridor through inclusive and sustainable agricultural and regional development.

    Missions

    1. Improve and modernise agriculture to increase productivity and production, and diversify agricultural production.

    2. Create employment through agricultural investment and establishment of a supply chain.

    Objective

    Create new agricultural development models, taking into account the natural environment and socio-economic aspects, and seeking market-orientated agricultural/rural/regional development with a competitive edge.

    Principles of ProSAVANA

    1. ProSAVANA will be aligned with the vision and objectives of the national agricultural development strategy of Mozambique, the “Strategy Plan for the Agricultural Sector Development – 2011 – 2020 (PEDSA)”,

    2. ProSAVANA supports Mozambican farmers in order to contribute to poverty-reduction, food security and nutrition,

    3. Activities of ProSAVANA, in particular those involving the private sector, will be designed and implemented in accordance with Principles of Responsible Agricultural Investment (PRAI) and Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests,

    4. Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security of Mozambique (MASA) and Local Government, in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), will strengthen dialogue and involvement of civil society and other appropriate parties,

    5. Appropriate consideration will be given for mitigation of the environmental and social impacts, which might be provided through the activities under ProSAVANA.

    Approaches of ProSAVANA

    1. Incorporate the results of relevant studies on the natural conditions and socio-economic situations, to support the establishment of appropriate agricultural development models,

    2. Increase agricultural productivity and production through appropriate measures, including improvement of farming systems, access to agricultural extension services including techniques and quality/quantity of inputs, value chain system and expansion of farmland,

    3. Promote diversification of agricultural production, based on research results to increase profitability,

    4. Provide opportunities to change from subsistence agriculture into a sustainable agriculture, with respect given to the farmers´ sovereignty,

    5. Strengthen the capacity and the competitiveness of farmers and farmers’ organisations,

    6. Enhance the enabling environment to promote responsible investments and activities, aiming to establish a win-win relationship between small-scale farmers and agribusiness firms,

    7. Promote and strengthen local leading farmers to disseminate and scale-up development impacts,

    8. Establish regional agricultural clusters and develop value chain systems,

    9. Promote public and private partnership as one of the driving forces for inclusive and sustainable agricultural development.

    http://www.prosavana.gov.mz
    #Pro_savana #land_grabbing #terres #Mozambique #accaparement_de_terres

    ping @odilon

    Apparemment, le programme a été arrêté avant d’être implémenté.
    Programme qui avait été promu par #Lula

    • What Happened to the Biggest Land Grab in Africa? Searching for #ProSavana in Mozambique

      What if you threw a lavish party for foreign investors, and no one came? By all accounts, that is what’s happening in Mozambique’s Nacala Corridor, the intended site for Africa’s largest agricultural development scheme – or land grab, depending on your perspective.

      The ProSavana project, a Brazilian-and-Japanese-led development project, was supposed to be turning Mozambique’s fertile savannah lands in the north into an export zone, replicating Brazil’s success taming its own savannah – the cerrado – and transforming it into industrial mega-farms of soybeans. The vision, hatched in 2009, but only revealed to Mozambicans in 2013, called for 35 million hectares (nearly 100 million acres) of “underutilized” land to be converted by Brazilian agribusiness into soybean plantations for cheaper export to China and Japan.

      In my two weeks in Mozambique, including one week in the Nacala Corridor, I had a hard time finding evidence of any such transformation. It was easy, though, to find outrage at a plan seen by many in the region as a secret land grab. That resistance, which has evolved into a tri-national campaign in Japan, Brazil, and Mozambique to stop ProSavana, is one of the reasons the project is a currently a dud.

      The new face of South-South investment?

      I came to look at ProSavana because, out of all the large-scale projects I studied over the course of the last year, this one sounded almost plausible. It wasn’t started by some fly-by-night venture capitalist, growing a biofuel crop he’d never produced commercially for a market that barely existed. That’s what I saw in Tanzania, and such failed land grabs litter the African landscape.

      ProSavana at least knew its investors: Brazil’s agribusiness giants. The planners also knew their technology: Brazil’s soybeans, which had adapted to the harsh tropical conditions of Brazil’s cerrado. And they knew their market: Japan’s and China’s hog farms and their insatiable appetite for feed, generally made with soybeans. That was already more than a lot of these grand schemes had going for them.

      I was also compelled by the sheer scale of the project. When first announced, ProSavana was to encompass 35 million hectares of land, an area the size of North Carolina. That would have made it the largest land acquisition in Africa.

      ProSavana also interested me because it was not the usual neo-colonial megaproject promoted by the Global North. It was a projection of Brazil’s agro-export prowess. This was South-South investment, the new wave of development in a multipolar world. Wouldn’t Brazil do this differently, I wondered, with the kind of strong developmental focus that had characterized the country’s ascendance under the leadership of the left-leaning Workers’ Party?

      ProSavana’s premise was that the soil and climate in the Nacala Corridor of Mozambique were similar to those found in the cerrado, so technology could be easily adapted to tame a region inhospitable to agriculture.

      Someone should have gone there before they issued the press releases.

      It turns out that the two regions differ dramatically. The cerrado had poor soils, which technology was able to address. That’s also why it had few farmers, and those that were there could be moved by Brazil’s then-military dictatorship. The Nacala Corridor, by contrast, has good soils, which is precisely why it is the most densely-populated part of rural Mozambique. (If there are good lands, you can bet civilization has discovered them and is farming them.)

      Mozambique also has a democratic government, forged in an independence movement rooted in peasant farmers’ struggle for land rights. So the country has one of the stronger land laws in Africa, which grants use rights to farmers who have been farming land for ten years or more.

      The disconnect between the claims ProSavana was making to its investors and the reality of the situation reached almost laughable proportions. Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco led sales visits to Mozambique, organized by Brazil’s Getulio Vargas Foundation, which had put together the agribusiness-friendly draft “Master Plan” that was leaked to Mozambican civil society organizations in March 2013. Brazil’s biggest farmers came looking for thousands of hectares of land, only to find three disappointments: they couldn’t own land in Mozambique; what land they could lease was by no means empty; and it was far from the ports, with no decent roads to transport their soybeans. Brazil’s soybean mega-farmers packed up their giant combines and went back to the cerrado, where there are still millions of hectares of undeveloped land.

      A kinder, gentler ProSavana

      There are a few large soybean farms in Gurue, producing for the domestic poultry industry; but nothing like the export boom promised by ProSavana. According to Americo Uaciquete of ProSavana’s Nampula office, Brazilian farmers came expecting 40,000 hectares free and clear. He told me no investor could expect that in the Nacala Corridor. The only foreign investors who will farm there, he said, are those willing to take 2,000 hectares and involve local farmers.

      To me, that sounded like a very quick surrender on the ProSavana battlefield. Couldn’t the Mozambican government open larger swaths of land?

      “Not without a gun,” Uaciquete said, clearly rejecting that path. “We are not going to impose the Brazilian model here.” He went on to describe ProSavana as a support program for small-scale farmers, based on its two non-investment components: research into improved locally adapted seeds, and extension services to improve productivity.

      In Maputo, the ProSavana Directorate did its best to polish up the new, development-friendly ProSavana. Jusimere Mourao, of Japan’s cooperation agency, had it down best. She lamented that ProSavana was “poorly timed” because its “announcement” (a leak) “coincided” with international concerns about land grabbing. Hmmm….

      After taking civil society concerns into account, she said, the program had issued a new “concept note” and the Master Plan is under revision. “Small and medium producers are the main beneficiaries of ProSavana,” she said. “We have no intention of promoting the taking of their land. It would be a crime.” It’s not about promoting foreign investment, she assured me; that is up to the Mozambican government.

      The turnaround was stunning, and welcome, if not quite believable. It certainly had not quieted the coalition calling for an end to ProSavana until farmers and civil society groups are consulted on the agricultural development plan for the Nacala Corridor.

      Luis Sitoe, Economic Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture, smirked when I told him I’d been in the region researching ProSavana. “Did you find anything?” For him, ProSavana had failed.

      But lest I think anything profound had been learned from that experience, he reassured me that the Mozambican government remains firmly committed to relying on large-scale foreign investment to address its agricultural underdevelopment.

      He pulled out a two-inch-thick binder to show me he was serious. It was the project proposal for the Lurio River Valley Development Project, a 200,000-hectare irrigation scheme right there in the northern Nacala Corridor. Was it part of ProSavana? Absolutely not. Had the communities been consulted on this ambitious project along the heavily populated river valley?

      “Absolutely not,” said Vicente Adriano, research director at UNAC, Mozambique’s national farmers’ union, which had just presented its own agricultural development plan, based on the country’s three million family farmers.

      The ProSavana directorate is still promising a new Master Plan for the project in early 2015. So it would be a mistake to think that ProSavana is dead. Large-scale land deals certainly aren’t, however they are branded. Investors may just be waiting for the Mozambican government to bring more to the table than just promotional brochures. Things like land, which turns out to be rather important for a successful land grab. In the Nacala Corridor, that land is anything but unoccupied.

      https://foodtank.com/news/2014/12/what-happened-to-the-biggest-land-grab-in-africa-searching-for-prosavana-i

  • New York white supremacist sword attacker pleads guilty - BBC News
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46979201

    “White nationalism will not be normalised in New York,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr in a statement following Jackson’s conviction.

    "This resolution won’t bring back Timothy Caughman, a beloved New Yorker who was executed for being black on a midtown street corner.

    "It won’t reverse the alarming rise of white nationalism in America.

    “It is, however, the loudest message that a civil society can send to would-be terrorists.”

    #racisme #états-unis #suprémacistes #meurtre

  • Netanyahu reportedly planning Saudi Arabia visit : Media - The Peninsula Qatar
    https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/20/01/2019/Netanyahu-reportedly-planning-Saudi-Arabia-visit-Media

    Doha: Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly considering a visit to Saudi Arabia and meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    This was reported by Fox Business a few days back. According to Fox News National Security Analyst Walid Phares, Netanyahu is very serious about the meeting as Saudi Arabia and Israel are scared about Iran and the rapprochement is in the works from 2015.

    According to the report, Saudi administration has prepared grounds for the visit among their civil society.

    This could be because of the numerous arrests of human rights activists and political commentators have sowed an atmosphere of terror.

    #deal_du_siècle

  • Without Workers, We Wouldn’t Have Democracy
    https://jacobinmag.com/2019/01/capitalism-democracy-workers-movements-unions

    Autocratic elites do not voluntarily relinquish their political power — they only do so if pushed by those who are excluded from political power. Therefore, we have to understand “power constellations” if we want to understand the chances for the installation and survival of democracy. The power constellations we look at are power relations in civil society, between civil society and the state, and in the international economy and system of states.

    The power balance within civil society depends on the organizational power of subordinate groups (for example, workers). The power in the international system, both the international economy and politics, shapes the class structures and thus class alliances domestically, and it shapes external pressures.

    Take the example of Latin America. Latin America’s position in the international economy as a raw material exporter limited the degree of industrialization and thus the size and strength of the working class.

    In addition, the influence of the United States throughout the twentieth century systematically worked against democracy in Latin America. Any kind of serious socioeconomic reform was branded as “communist,” and opponents of these reformist governments were supported by the United States.

  • The Philosopher Redefining Equality | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/07/the-philosopher-redefining-equality

    At fifty-nine, Anderson is the chair of the University of Michigan’s department of philosophy and a champion of the view that equality and freedom are mutually dependent, enmeshed in changing conditions through time. Working at the intersection of moral and political philosophy, social science, and economics, she has become a leading theorist of democracy and social justice. She has built a case, elaborated across decades, that equality is the basis for a free society. Her work, drawing on real-world problems and information, has helped to redefine the way contemporary philosophy is done, leading what might be called the Michigan school of thought. Because she brings together ideas from both the left and the right to battle increasing inequality, Anderson may be the philosopher best suited to this awkward moment in American life. She builds a democratic frame for a society in which people come from different places and are predisposed to disagree.

    As the students listened, she sketched out the entry-level idea that one basic way to expand equality is by expanding the range of valued fields within a society. Unlike a hardscrabble peasant community of yore in which the only skill that anyone cared about might be agricultural prowess, a society with many valued arenas lets individuals who are good at art or storytelling or sports or making people laugh receive a bit of love.

    As a rule, it’s easy to complain about inequality, hard to settle on the type of equality we want. Do we want things to be equal where we start in life or where we land? When inequalities arise, what are the knobs that we adjust to get things back on track? Individually, people are unequal in countless ways, and together they join groups that resist blending. How do you build up a society that allows for such variety without, as in the greater-Detroit real-estate market, turning difference into a constraint? How do you move from a basic model of egalitarian variety, in which everybody gets a crack at being a star at something, to figuring out how to respond to a complex one, where people, with different allotments of talent and virtue, get unequal starts, and often meet with different constraints along the way?

    In 1999, Anderson published an article in the journal Ethics, titled “What Is the Point of Equality?,” laying out the argument for which she is best known. “If much recent academic work defending equality had been secretly penned by conservatives,” she began, opening a grenade in the home trenches, “could the results be any more embarrassing for egalitarians?”

    The problem, she proposed, was that contemporary egalitarian thinkers had grown fixated on distribution: moving resources from lucky-seeming people to unlucky-seeming people, as if trying to spread the luck around. This was a weird and nebulous endeavor. Is an heir who puts his assets into a house in a flood zone and loses it unlucky—or lucky and dumb? Or consider a woman who marries rich, has children, and stays at home to rear them (crucial work for which she gets no wages). If she leaves the marriage to escape domestic abuse and subsequently struggles to support her kids, is that bad luck or an accretion of bad choices? Egalitarians should agree about clear cases of blameless misfortune: the quadriplegic child, the cognitively impaired adult, the teen-ager born into poverty with junkie parents. But Anderson balked there, too. By categorizing people as lucky or unlucky, she argued, these egalitarians set up a moralizing hierarchy.

    To be truly free, in Anderson’s assessment, members of a society had to be able to function as human beings (requiring food, shelter, medical care), to participate in production (education, fair-value pay, entrepreneurial opportunity), to execute their role as citizens (freedom to speak and to vote), and to move through civil society (parks, restaurants, workplaces, markets, and all the rest). Egalitarians should focus policy attention on areas where that order had broken down. Being homeless was an unfree condition by all counts; thus, it was incumbent on a free society to remedy that problem. A quadriplegic adult was blocked from civil society if buildings weren’t required to have ramps. Anderson’s democratic model shifted the remit of egalitarianism from the idea of equalizing wealth to the idea that people should be equally free, regardless of their differences. A society in which everyone had the same material benefits could still be unequal, in this crucial sense; democratic equality, being predicated on equal respect, wasn’t something you could simply tax into existence. “People, not nature, are responsible for turning the natural diversity of human beings into oppressive hierarchies,” Anderson wrote.

    Her first book, “Value in Ethics and Economics,” appeared that year, announcing one of her major projects: reconciling value (an amorphous ascription of worth that is a keystone of ethics and economics) with pluralism (the fact that people seem to value things in different ways). Philosophers have often assumed that pluralistic value reflects human fuzziness—we’re loose, we’re confused, and we mix rational thought with sentimental responses. Anderson proposed that, actually, pluralism of value wasn’t the fuzz but the thing itself. She offered an “expressive” theory: in her view, each person’s values could be various because they were socially expressed, and thus shaped by the range of contexts and relationships at play in a life. Instead of positing value as a basic, abstract quality across society (the way “utility” functioned for economists), she saw value as something determined by the details of an individual’s history. Like her idea of relational equality, this model resisted the temptation to flatten human variety toward a unifying standard. In doing so, it helped expand the realm of free and reasoned economic choice.

    Broadly, there’s a culturally right and a culturally left ideal theory for race and society. The rightist version calls for color blindness. Instead of making a fuss about skin and ethnicity, its advocates say, society should treat people as people, and let the best and the hardest working rise. The leftist theory envisions identity communities: for once, give black people (or women, or members of other historically oppressed groups) the resources and opportunities they need, including, if they want it, civil infrastructure for themselves. In “The Imperative of Integration,” published in 2010, Anderson tore apart both of these models. Sure, it might be nice to live in a color-blind society, she wrote, but that’s nothing like the one that exists. In one study she cited, sixty per cent of people who saw a crime report on TV that hadn’t identified the suspect thought that it had; seventy per cent of those people thought that the suspect was black. Other research found that when white people pretended not to notice race they often acquired alienating tics, such as avoiding eye contact. Color blindness would simply lock in problems past correction.

    But the case for self-segregation was also weak. Affinity groups provided welcome comfort, yet that wasn’t the same as power or equality, Anderson pointed out. And there was a goose-and-gander problem. Either you let only certain groups self-segregate (certifying their subordinate status) or you also permitted, say, white men to do it, and—well, we have a lot of data from that experiment, and they’re not encouraging.

    Anderson’s solution was “integration,” a concept that, especially in progressive circles, had been uncool since the late sixties. Integration, by her lights, meant mixing on the basis of equality. It was not assimilation. It required adjustments from all groups. Anderson laid out four integrative stages: formal desegregation (no legal separation), spatial integration (different people share neighborhoods), formal social integration (they work together, and are one another’s bosses), and informal social integration (they become buddies, get married, start families). Black students in integrated high schools, according to one study, had higher graduation rates than those in segregated schools, even controlling for socioeconomic background, parental education, and other factors. Students—black and white—at integrated schools went on to lead more integrated lives.

    Many people still believed that market economies were a sound foundation of freedom. Yet, she found, ninety per cent of female restaurant workers reported being sexually harassed. Some poultry-industry employees were said to have worn diapers for lack of breaks. About seven million American workers had been compelled to support political positions under threat from their bosses. Such people could not be called free.

    Anderson zeroed in on Adam Smith, whose “The Wealth of Nations,” published in 1776, is taken as a keystone of free-market ideology. At the time, English labor was subject to uncompensated apprenticeships, domestic servitude, and some measure of clerical dominion. Rigid hierarchies, from the king to the pauper, were maintained by an arcane system of debts, favors, and gifts. Smith saw the markets as an escape from that order. Their “most important” function, he explained, was to bring “liberty and security” to those “who had before lived almost in a continual state of war with their neighbours, and of servile dependency upon their superiors.”

    Smith, in other words, was an egalitarian. He had written “The Wealth of Nations” in no small part to be a solution to what we’d now call structural inequality—the intractable, compounding privileges of an arbitrary hierarchy. It was a historical irony that, a century later, writers such as Marx pointed to the market as a structure of dominion over workers; in truth, Smith and Marx had shared a socioeconomic project. And yet Marx had not been wrong to trash Smith’s ideas, because, during the time between them, the world around Smith’s model had changed, and it was no longer a useful tool.

    “You can see that, from about 1950 to 1970, the typical American’s wages kept up with productivity growth,” she said. Then, around 1974, she went on, hourly compensation stagnated. American wages have been effectively flat for the past few decades, with the gains of productivity increasingly going to shareholders and to salaries for big bosses.

    What changed? Anderson rattled off a constellation of factors, from strengthened intellectual-property law to winnowed antitrust law. Financialization, deregulation. Plummeting taxes on capital alongside rising payroll taxes. Privatization, which exchanged modest public-sector salaries for C.E.O. paydays. She gazed into the audience and blinked. “So now we have to ask: What has been used to justify this rather dramatic shift of labor-share of income?” she said.

    #Philosophie #Etats-Unis #Egalité

  • And Yet We Move - 2018, a Contested Year

    Alarm Phone 6 Week Report, 12 November - 23 December 2018

    311 people escaping from Libya rescued through a chain of solidarity +++ About 113,000 sea arrivals and over 2,240 counted fatalities in the Mediterranean this year +++ 666 Alarm Phone distress cases in 2018 +++ Developments in all three Mediterranean regions +++ Summaries of 38 Alarm Phone distress cases

    Introduction

    “There are no words big enough to describe the value of the work you are doing. It is a deeply human act and it will never be forgotten. The whole of your team should know that we wish all of you health and a long life and the best wishes in all the colours of the world.” These are the words that the Alarm Phone received a few days ago from a man who had been on a boat in the Western Mediterranean Sea and with whom our shift teams had stayed in touch throughout the night until they were finally rescued to Spain. He was able to support the other travellers by continuously and calmly reassuring them, and thereby averted panic on the boat. His message motivates us to continue also in 2019 to do everything we can to assist people who have taken to the sea because Europe’s border regime has closed safe and legal routes, leaving only the most dangerous paths slightly open. On these paths, over 2,240 people have lost their lives this year.

    While we write this report, 311 people are heading toward Spain on the rescue boat of the NGO Proactiva Open Arms. The travellers called the Alarm Phone when they were on a boat-convoy that had left from Libya. Based on the indications of their location, Al-Khums, the civil reconnaissance aircraft Colibri launched a search operation in the morning of the 21st of December and was able to spot the convoy of three boats which were then rescued by Proactiva. Italy and Malta closed their harbours to them, prolonging their suffering. Over the Christmas days they headed toward their final destination in Spain. The successful rescue operation of the 313 people (one mother and her infant child were flown out by a helicopter after rescue) highlights the chain of solidarity that activists and NGOs have created in the Central Mediterranean Sea. It is a fragile chain that the EU and its member states seek to criminalise and tear apart wherever they can.

    Throughout the year of 2018, we have witnessed and assisted contested movements across the Mediterranean Sea. Despite violent deterrence policies and practices, about 113,000 people succeeded in subverting maritime borders and have arrived in Europe by boat. We were alerted to 666 distress situations at sea (until December 23rd), and our shift teams have done their best to assist the many thousands of people who saw no other option to realise their hope for a better future than by risking their lives at sea. Many of them lost their lives in the moment of enacting their freedom of movement. Over 2,240 women, men, and children from the Global South – and probably many more who were never counted – are not with us anymore because of the violence inscribed in the Global North’s hegemonic and brutal borders. They were not able to get a visa. They could not board a much cheaper plane, bus, or ferry to reach a place of safety and freedom. Many travelled for months, even years, to get anywhere near the Mediterranean border – and on their journeys they have lived through hardships unimaginable for most of us. But they struggled on and reached the coasts of Northern Africa and Turkey, where they got onto overcrowded boats. That they are no longer with us is a consequence of Europe’s racist system of segregation that illegalises and criminalises migration, a system that also seeks to illegalise and criminalise solidarity. Many of these 2,240 people would be alive if the civil rescuers were not prevented from doing their work. All of them would be alive, if they could travel and cross borders freely.

    In the different regions of the Mediterranean Sea, the situation has further evolved over the course of 2018, and the Alarm Phone witnessed the changing patterns of boat migration first hand. Most of the boats we assisted were somewhere between Morocco and Spain (480), a considerable number between Turkey and Greece (159), but comparatively few between Libya and Italy (27). This, of course, speaks to the changing dynamics of migratory escape and its control in the different regions:

    Morocco-Spain: Thousands of boats made it across the Strait of Gibraltar, the Alboran Sea, or the Atlantic and have turned Spain into the ‘front-runner’ this year with about 56,000 arrivals by sea. In 2017, 22,103 people had landed in Spain, 8,162 in 2016. In the Western Mediterranean, crossings are organised in a rather self-organised way and the number of arrivals speaks to a migratory dynamism not experienced for over a decade in this region. Solidarity structures have multiplied both in Morocco and Spain and they will not be eradicated despite the wave of repression that has followed the peak in crossings over the summer. Several Alarm Phone members experienced the consequences of EU pressure on the Moroccan authorities to repress cross-border movements first hand when they were violently deported to the south of Morocco, as were several thousand others.

    Turkey-Greece: With about 32,000 people reaching the Greek islands by boat, more people have arrived in Greece than in 2017, when 29,718 people did so. After arrival via the sea, many are confined in inhumane conditions on the islands and the EU hotspots have turned into rather permanent prisons. This desperate situation has prompted renewed movements across the Turkish-Greek land border in the north. Overall, the number of illegalised crossings into Greece has risen due to more than 20,000 people crossing the land border. Several cases of people experiencing illegal push-back operations there reached the Alarm Phone over the year.

    Libya-Italy/Malta: Merely about 23,000[1] people have succeeded in fleeing Libya via the sea in 2018. The decrease is dramatic, from 119,369 in 2017, and even 181,436 in 2016. This decrease gives testament to the ruthlessness of EU deterrence policies that have produced the highest death rate in the Central Mediterranean and unspeakable suffering among migrant communities in Libya. Libyan militias are funded, trained, and legitimated by their EU allies to imprison thousands of people in camps and to abduct those who made it onto boats back into these conditions. Due to the criminalisation of civil rescuers, a lethal rescue gap was produced, with no NGO able to carry out their work for many months of the year. Fortunately, three of them have now been able to return to the deadliest area of the Mediterranean.

    These snapshots of the developments in the three Mediterranean regions, elaborated on in greater detail below, give an idea of the struggles ahead of us. They show how the EU and its member states not only created dangerous maritime paths in the first place but then reinforced its migrant deterrence regime at any cost. They show, however, also how thousands could not be deterred from enacting their freedom of movement and how solidarity structures have evolved to assist their precarious movements. We go into 2019 with the promise and call that the United4Med alliance of sea rescuers has outlined: “We will prove how civil society in action is not only willing but also able to bring about a new Europe; saving lives at sea and creating a just reception system on land. Ours is a call to action to European cities, mayors, citizens, societies, movements, organisations and whoever believes in our mission, to join us. Join our civil alliance and let us stand up together, boldly claiming a future of respect and equality. We will stand united for the right to stay and for the right to go.”[2] Also in the new year, the Alarm Phone will directly engage in this struggle and we call on others to join. It can only be a collective fight, as the odds are stacked against us.

    Developments in the Central Mediterranean

    In December 2018, merely a few hundred people were able to escape Libya by boat. It cannot be stressed enough how dramatic the decrease in crossings along this route is – a year before, 2,327 people escaped in December, in 2016 even 8,428. 2018 is the year when Europe’s border regime ‘succeeded’ in largely shutting down the Central Mediterranean route. It required a combination of efforts – the criminalisation of civil search and rescue organisations, the selective presence of EU military assets that were frequently nowhere to be found when boats were in distress, the closure of Italian harbours and the unwillingness of other EU member states to welcome the rescued, and, most importantly, the EU’s sustained support for the so-called Libyan coastguards and other Libyan security forces. Europe has not only paid but also trained, funded and politically legitimised Libyan militias whose only job is to contain outward migratory movements, which means capturing and abducting people seeking to flee to Europe both at sea and on land. Without these brutal allies, it would not have been possible to reduce the numbers of crossings that dramatically.

    The ‘Nivin case’ of November 7th exemplifies this European-Libyan alliance. On that day, a group of 95 travellers reached out to the Alarm Phone from a boat in distress off the coast of Libya. Among them were people from Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Eritrea. Italy refused to conduct a rescue operation and eventually they were rescued by the cargo vessel Nivin. Despite telling the rescued that they would be brought to a European harbour, the crew of the Nivin returned them to Libya on November 10th. At the harbour of Misrata, most of the rescued refused to disembark, stating that they would not want to be returned into conditions of confinement and torture. The people, accused by some to be ‘pirates’, fought bravely against forced disembarkation for ten days but on the 20th of November they could resist no longer when Libyan security forces stormed the boat and violently removed them, using tear gas and rubber bullets in the process. Several of the protestors were injured and needed treatment in hospital while others were returned into inhumane detention camps.[3]

    Also over the past 6 weeks, the period covered in this report, the criminalisation of civil rescue organisations continued. The day that the protestors on the Nivin were violently removed, Italy ordered the seizure of the Aquarius, the large rescue asset operated by SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières that had already been at the docs in France for some time, uncertain about its future mission. According to the Italian authorities, the crew had falsely labelled the clothes rescued migrants had left on the Aquarius as ‘special’ rather than ‘toxic’ waste.[4] The absurdity of the accusation highlights the fact that Italy’s authorities seek out any means to prevent rescues from taking place, a “disproportionate and unfounded measure, purely aimed at further criminalising lifesaving medical-humanitarian action at sea”, as MSF noted.[5] Unfortunately, these sustained attacks showed effect. On the 6th of December, SOS Med and MSF announced the termination of its mission: “European policies and obstruction tactics have forced [us] to terminate the lifesaving operations carried out by the search and rescue vessel Aquarius.” As the MSF general director said: “This is a dark day. Not only has Europe failed to provide search and rescue capacity, it has also actively sabotaged others’ attempts to save lives. The end of Aquarius means more deaths at sea, and more needless deaths that will go unwitnessed.”[6]

    And yet, despite this ongoing sabotage of civil rescue from the EU and its member states, three vessels of the Spanish, German, and Italian organisations Open Arms, Sea-Watch and Mediterranea returned to the deadliest area of the Mediterranean in late November.[7] This return is also significance for Alarm Phone work in the Central Mediterranean: once again we have non-governmental allies at sea who will not only document what is going on along the deadliest border of the world but actively intervene to counter Europe’s border ‘protection’ measures. Shortly after returning, one of the NGOs was called to assist. Fishermen had rescued a group of travellers off the coast of Libya onto their fishing vessel, after they had been abandoned in the water by a Libyan patrol boat, as the fishermen claimed. Rather than ordering their rapid transfer to a European harbour, Italy, Malta and Spain sought out ways to return the 12 people to Libya. The fishing boat, the Nuestra Madre de Loreto, was ill-equipped to care for the people who were weak and needed medical attention. However, they were assisted only by Proactiva Open Arms, and for over a week, the people had to stay on the fishing boat. One of them developed a medical emergency and was eventually brought away in a helicopter. Finally, in early December, they were brought to Malta.[8]

    Around the same time, something rare and remarkable happened. A boat with over 200 people on board reached the Italian harbour of Pozzallo independently, on the 24th of November. Even when they were at the harbour, the authorities refused to allow them to quickly disembark – a irresponsible decision given that the boat was at risk of capsizing. After several hours, all of the people were finally allowed to get off the boat. Italy’s minister of the interior Salvini accused the Maltese authorities of allowing migrant boats to move toward Italian territory.[9] Despite their hardship, the people on the Nuestra Madre de Loreto and the 200 people from this boat, survived. Also the 33 people rescued by the NGO Sea-Watch on the 22nd of December survived. Others, however, did not. In mid-November, a boat left from Algeria with 13 young people on board, intending to reach Sardinia. On the 16th of November, the first body was found, the second a day later. Three survived and stated later that the 10 others had tried to swim to what they believed to be the shore when they saw a light in the distance.[10] In early December, a boat with 25 people on board left from Sabratha/Libya, and 15 of them did not survive. As a survivor reported, they had been at sea for 12 days without food and water.[11]

    Despite the overall decrease in crossings, what has been remarkable in this region is that the people escaping have more frequently informed the Alarm Phone directly than before. The case mentioned earlier, from the 20th of December, when people from a convoy of 3 boats carrying 313 people in total reached out to us, exemplifies this. Detected by the Colibri reconnaissance aircraft and rescued by Proactiva, this case demonstrates powerfully what international solidarity can achieve, despite all attempts by EU member states and institutions to create a zone of death in the Central Mediterranean Sea.
    Developments in the Western Mediterranean Sea

    Over the past six weeks covered by this report, the Alarm Phone witnessed several times what happens when Spanish and Moroccan authorities shift responsibilities and fail to respond quickly to boats in distress situations. Repeatedly we had to pressurise the Spanish authorities publicly before they launched a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation. And still, many lives were lost at sea. On Moroccan land, the repression campaign against Sub-Saharan travellers and residents continues. On the 30th of November, an Alarm Phone member was, yet again, arrested and deported towards the South of Morocco, to Tiznit, along with many other people. (h https://alarmphone.org/en/2018/12/04/alarm-phone-member-arrested-and-deported-in-morocco/?post_type_release_type=post). Other friends in Morocco have informed us about the deportation of large groups from Nador to Tiznit. Around the 16th of December, 400 people were forcibly removed, and on the 17th of December, another 300 people were deported to Morocco’s south. This repression against black residents and travellers in Morocco is one of the reasons for many to decide to leave via the sea. This has meant that also during the winter, cross-Mediterranean movements remain high. On just one weekend, the 8th-9th of December, 535 people reached Andalusia/Spain.[12]

    Whilst people are constantly resisting the border regime by acts of disobedience when they cross the borders clandestinely, acts of resistance take place also on the ground in Morocco, where associations and individuals are continuously struggling for the freedom of movement for all. In early December, an Alarm Phone delegation participated at an international conference in Rabat/Morocco, in order to discuss with members of other associations and collectives from Africa and Europe about the effects of the outsourcing and militarisation of European borders in the desire to further criminalise and prevent migration movements. We were among 400 people and were impressed by the many contributions from people who live and struggle in very precarious situations, by the uplifting atmosphere, and by the many accounts and expressions of solidarity. Days later, during the international meeting in Marrakesh on the ‘Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration’, the Alarm Phone was part of a counter-summit, protesting the international pact on migration which is not meant to reduce borders between states, but to curtail the freedom of movement of the many in the name of ‘legal’ and ‘regulated’ migration. The Alarm Phone delegation was composed of 20 activists from the cities of Tangier, Oujda, Berkane, Nador and Fes. One of our colleagues sums up the event: “We have expressed our ideas and commitments as Alarm Phone, solemnly and strongly in front of the other organisations represented. We have espoused the vision of freedom of movement, a vision without precedent. A vision which claims symbolically all human rights and which has the power to help migrants on all continents to feel protected.” In light of the Marrakesh pact, several African organisations joined together and published a statement rejecting “…the wish to confine Africans within their countries by strengthening border controls, in the deserts, at sea and in airports.”[13]

    Shortly after the international meeting in Marrakesh, the EU pledged €148 million to support Morocco’s policy of migrant containment, thus taking steps towards making it even more difficult, and therefore more dangerous for many people on the African continent to exercise their right to move freely, under the pretext of “combating smuggling”. Making the journeys across the Mediterranean more difficult does not have the desired effect of ending illegalised migration. As the routes to Spain from the north of Morocco have become more militarised following a summer of many successful crossings, more southern routes have come into use again. These routes, leading to the Spanish Canary Islands, force travellers to overcome much longer distances in the Atlantic Ocean, a space without phone coverage and with a heightened risk to lose one’s orientation. On the 18th of November, 22 people lost their lives at sea, on their way from Tiznit to the Canary Islands.[14] Following a Spanish-Frontex collaboration launched in 2006, this route to the Canary Islands has not been used very frequently, but numbers have increased this year, with Moroccan nationals being the largest group of arrivals.[15]
    Developments in the Aegean Sea

    Over the final weeks of 2018, between the 12th of November and the 23rd of December, 78 boats arrived on the Greek islands while 116 boats were stopped by the Turkish coastguards and returned to Turkey. This means that there were nearly 200 attempts to cross into Europe by boat over five weeks, and about 40 percent of them were successful.[16] Over the past six weeks, the Alarm Phone was involved in a total of 19 cases in this region. 6 of the boats arrived in Samos, 3 of them in Chios, and one each on Lesvos, Agathonisi, Farmkonisi, and Symi. 4 boats were returned to Turkey (3 of them rescued, 1 intercepted by the Turkish coastguards). In one distress situation, a man lost his life and another man had to be brought to the hospital due to hypothermia. Moreover, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 2 cases along the Turkish-Greek land border. While in one case their fate remains uncertain, the other group of people were forcibly pushed-back to Turkey.

    Thousands of people still suffering in inhuman conditions in hotspots: When we assist boats crossing the Aegean Sea, the people are usually relieved and happy when arriving on the islands, at least they have survived. However, this moment of happiness often turns into a state of shock when they enter the so-called ‘hotspots’. Over 12,500 people remain incarcerated there, often living in tents and containers unsuitable for winter in the five EU-sponsored camps on Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos, and Leros. In addition to serious overcrowding, asylum seekers continue to face unsanitary and unhygienic conditions and physical violence, including gender-based violence. Doctors without Borders has reported on a measles outbreak in Greek camps and conducted a vaccination campaign.[17] Amnesty International and 20 other organizations have published a collective call: “As winter approaches all asylum seekers on the Aegean islands must be transferred to suitable accommodation on the mainland or relocated to other EU countries. […] The EU-Turkey deal containment policy imposes unjustified and unnecessary suffering on asylum seekers, while unduly limiting their rights.”

    The ‘humanitarian’ crisis in the hotspots is the result of Greece’s EU-backed policy of containing asylum seekers on the Aegean islands until their asylum claims are adjudicated or until it is determined that they fall into one of the ‘vulnerable’ categories listed under Greek law. But as of late November, an estimated 2,200 people identified as eligible for transfer are still waiting as accommodation facilities on the mainland are also severely overcrowded. Those who are actually transferred from the hotspot on Lesvos to the Greek mainland are brought to far away camps or empty holiday resorts without infrastructure and without a sufficient number of aid workers.

    Criminalisation along Europe’s Eastern Sea Border: A lot has been written about the many attempts to criminalise NGOs and activists carrying out Search and Rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Much less publicly acknowledged are the many cases in which migrant travellers themselves become criminalised for their activist involvement, often for protesting against the inhuman living conditions and the long waiting times for the asylum-interviews. The case of the ‘Moria 35’ on Lesvos was a case in point, highlighting how a few individual protesters were randomly selected by authorities to scare others into silence and obedience. The Legal Centre Lesvos followed this case closely until the last person of the 35 was released and they shared their enquiries with “a 15-month timeline of injustice and impunity” on their website: “On Thursday 18th October, the last of the Moria 35 were released from detention. Their release comes one year and three months – to the day – after the 35 men were arbitrarily arrested and subject to brutal police violence in a raid of Moria camp following peaceful protests, on July 18th 2017.” While the Legal Centre Lesbos welcomes the fact that all 35 men were finally released, they should never have been imprisoned in the first place. They will not get back the 10 to 15 months they spent in prison. Moreover, even after release, most of the 35 men remain in a legally precarious situation. While 6 were granted asylum in Greece, the majority struggles against rejected asylum claims. Three were already deported. One individual was illegally deported without having exhausted his legal remedies in Greece while another individual, having spent 9 months in pre-trial detention, signed up for so-called ‘voluntary’ deportation.[18] In the meantime, others remain in prison to await their trials that will take place with hardly any attention of the media.

    Humanitarian activists involved in spotting and rescue released after 3 months: The four activists, Sarah Mardini, Nassos Karakitsos, Panos Moraitis and Sean Binder, were released on the 6th of December 2018 after having been imprisoned for three months. They had been held in prolonged pre-trial detention for their work with the non-profit organization Emergency Response Center International (ERCI), founded by Moraitis. The charges misrepresented the group as a smuggling crime ring, and its legitimate fundraising activities as money laundering. The arrests forced the group to cease its operations, including maritime search and rescue, the provision of medical care, and non-formal education to asylum seekers. They are free without geographical restrictions but the case is not yet over. Mardini and Binder still face criminal charges possibly leading to decades in prison.[19] Until 15 February the group ‘Solidarity now!’ is collecting as many signatures as possible to ensure that the Greek authorities drop the case.[20]

    Violent Pushbacks at the Land Border: During the last six weeks, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two groups at the land border separating Turkey and Greece. In both situations, the travellers had already reached Greek soil, but ended up on Turkish territory. Human Right Watch (HRW) published another report on the 18th of December about violent push-backs in the Evros region: “Greek law enforcement officers at the land border with Turkey in the northeastern Evros region routinely summarily return asylum seekers and migrants […]. The officers in some cases use violence and often confiscate and destroy the migrants’ belongings.”[21] Regularly, migrants were stripped off their phones, money and clothes. According to HRW, most of these incidents happened between April and November 2018.[22] The UNHCR and the Council of Europe’s Committee for Prevention of Torture have published similar reports about violent push backs along the Evros borders.[23]
    CASE REPORTS

    Over the past 6 weeks, the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone was engaged in 38 distress cases, of which 15 took place in the Western Mediterranean, 19 in the Aegean Sea, and 4 in the Central Mediterranean. You can find short summaries and links to the individual reports below.
    Western Mediterranean

    On Tuesday the 13th of November at 6.17pm, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a relative to a group of travellers who had left two days earlier from around Orán heading towards Murcia. They were around nine people, including women and children, and the relative had lost contact to the boat. We were also never able to reach the travellers. At 6.46pm we alerted the Spanish search and rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo (SM) to the distress of the travellers. For several days we tried to reach the travellers and were in contact with SM about the ongoing rescue operation. We were never able to reach the travellers or get any news from the relative. Thus, we are still unsure if the group managed to reach land somewhere on their own, or if they will add to the devastating number of people having lost their lives at sea (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1085).

    On Thursday the 22nd of November, at 5.58pm CET, the Alarm Phone received news about a boat of 11 people that had left Nador 8 hours prior. The shift team was unable to immediately enter into contact with the boat, but called Salvamento Maritimo to convey all available information. At 11.48am the following day, the shift team received word from a traveler on the boat that they were safe (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1088).

    At 7.25am CET on November 24, 2018, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 70 people (including 8 women and 1 child) that had departed from Nador 3 days prior. The shift team was able to reach the boat at 7.50am and learned that their motor had stopped working. The shift team called Salvamento Maritimo, who had handed the case over to the Moroccan authorities. The shift team contacted the MRCC, who said they knew about the boat but could not find them, so the shift team mobilized their contacts to find the latest position and sent it to the coast guard at 8.55am. Rescue operations stalled for several hours. At around 2pm, the shift team received news that rescue operations were underway by the Marine Royale. The shift team remained in contact with several people and coast guards until the next day, when it was confirmed that the boat had finally been rescued and that there were at least 15 fatalities (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1087).

    On Friday the 7th of December 2018, we were alerted to two boats in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea. One boat was brought to Algeria, the second boat rescued by Moroccan fishermen and returned to Morocco (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1098).

    On Saturday, the 8th of December 2018, we were informed by a contact person at 3.25pm CET to a boat in distress that had left from Nador/Morocco during the night, at about 1am. There were 57 people on the boat, including 8 women and a child. We tried to establish contact to the boat but were unable to reach them. At 4.50pm, the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) informed us that they were already searching for this boat. At 8.34pm, SM stated that this boat had been rescued. Some time later, also our contact person confirmed that the boat had been found and rescued to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1099).

    On Monday the 10th of December, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to three boats in the Western Med. Two had left from around Nador, and one from Algeria. One boat was rescued by the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo, one group of travellers returned back to Nador on their own, and the boat from Algeria returned to Algeria (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1101).

    On Wednesday the 12th of December the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted two boats in the Western Med, one carrying seven people, the other carrying 12 people. The first boat was rescued by the Spanish search and rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo (SM), whilst the second boat was intercepted by the Moroccan Navy and brought back to Morocco, where we were informed that the travellers were held imprisoned (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1102).

    On December 21st, 2018, we were informed of two boats in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea. The first had left from Algeria and was probably rescued to Spain. The other one had departed from Tangier and was rescued by the Marine Royale and brought back to Morocco (for full report, see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1110).

    On the 22nd of December, at 5.58pm CET, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 81 people (including 7 women) that had left the previous day from Nador. The motor was not working properly. They informed that they were in touch with Salvamiento Maritimo but as they were still in Moroccan waters, Salvamiento Maritimo said they were unable to perform rescue operations. The shift team had difficulty maintaining contact with the boat over the course of the next few hours. The shift team also contacted Salvamiento Maritimo who confirmed that they knew about the case. At 7.50pm, Salvamiento Maritimo informed the shift team that they would perform the rescue operations and confirmed the operation at 8.15pm. We later got the confirmation by a contact person that the people were rescued to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1111).

    On the 23rd of December 2018, at 1.14am CET, the Alarm Phone received an alert of a boat with 11 men and 1 woman who left from Cap Spartel at Saturday the 22nd of December. The Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to this rubber boat in the early hours of Sunday the 23rd of December. The shift team informed the Spanish Search and Rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 4:50am CET about the situation and provided them with GPS coordinates of the boat. SM, however, rejected responsibility and shifted it to the Moroccan authorities but also the Moroccan Navy did not rescue the people. Several days later, the boat remains missing (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1112).
    Aegean Sea

    On Saturday the 17th of November the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two boats in the Aegean Sea. The first boat returned back to Turkey, whilst the second boat reached Samos on their own (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1086).

    On the 19th of November at 8.40pm CET the shift team was alerted to a boat of 11 travelers in distress near the Turkish coast on its way to Kos. The shift team called the Turkish Coastguard to inform them of the situation. At 9.00pm, the Coastguard called back to confirm they found the boat and would rescue the people. The shift team lost contact with the travelers. At 9.35pm, the Turkish coast guard informed the shift team that the boat was sunk, one man died and one person had hypothermia and would be brought to the hospital. The other 9 people were safe and brought back to Turkey (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1090).

    On the 20th of November at 4.07am CET, the shift team was alerted to a boat with about 50 travelers heading to Samos. The shift team contacted the travelers but the contact was broken for both language and technological reasons. The Alarm Phone contacted the Greek Coastguard about rescue operations. At 7.02am, the shift team was told that a boat of 50 people had been rescued, and the news was confirmed later on, although the shift team could not obtain direct confirmation from the travelers themselves (see:http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1089).

    On the 23rd of November at 7.45pm CET, the Alarm Phone was contacted regarding a group of 19 people, (including 2 women, 1 of whom was pregnant, and a child) who had crossed the river Evros/ Meric and the Turkish-Greek landborder 3 days prior. The shift team first contacted numerous rescue and protection agencies, including UNHCR and the Greek Police, noting that the people were already in Greece and wished to apply for asylum. Until today we remained unable to find out what happened to the people (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1091).

    On the 26th of November at 6:54am CET the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a group of 30 people (among them 7 children and a pregnant woman) who were stranded on the shore in southern Turkey, close to Kas. They wanted us to call the Turkish coastguard so at 7:35am we provided the coastguard with the information we had. At 8:41am we received a photograph from our contact person showing rescue by the Turkish coastguard (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1092).

    On the 29th of November at 4am CET the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat carrying 44 people (among them 19 children and some pregnant women) heading towards the Greek island of Samos. Shortly afterwards the travellers landed on Samos and because of their difficulties orienting themselves we alerted the local authorities. At 9:53am the port police told us that they had rescued 44 people. They were taken to the refugee camp (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1093).

    On Monday, the 3rd of December 2018, the Alarm Phone was alerted at 5.30am CET to a boat in distress south of Chios, with 43 people on board, among them 14 children. We were able to reach the boat at 5.35am. When we received their position, we informed the Greek coastguards at 7.30am and forwarded an updated GPS position to them ten minutes later. At 8.52am, the coastguards confirmed the rescue of the boat. The people were brought to Chios Island. On the next day, the people themselves confirmed that they had all safely reached Greece (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1095).

    On Tuesday the 4th of December 2018, at 6.20am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat in distress near Agathonisi Island. There were about 40 people on board. We established contact to the boat at 6.38am. At 6.45am, we alerted the Greek coastguards. The situation was dangerous as the people on board reported of high waves. At 9.02am, the Greek coastguards confirmed that they had just rescued the boat. The people were brought to Agathonisi (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1096).

    On Wednesday the 5th of December 2018, at 00:08am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a contact person to a boat in distress near Chios Island, carrying about 50 people. We received their GPS position at 00.17am and informed the Greek coastguards to the case at 00.30am. At 00.46am, we learned from the contact person that a boat had just been rescued. The Greek authorities confirmed this when we called them at 00.49am. At around 1pm, the people from the boat confirmed that they had been rescued (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1097).

    On Friday the 7th of December 2018, the Alarm Phone was contacted at 5.53am CET by a contact person and informed about a group of 19 people who had crossed the Evros river to Greece and needed assistance. We assisted them for days, but at some point contact was lost. We know that they were returned to Turkey and thus suspect an illegal push-back operation (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1109).

    On Thursday the 13th of December the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two boats in the Aegean sea. In both cases we were not able to reach the travellers, but we were in contact with both the Turkish and Greek coast guard and were in the end able to confirm that one boat had arrived to Lesvos on their own, whilst the others had been rescued by Turkish fishermen (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1100).

    On the 17th of December, 2018, at 6.39am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 60 travellers. Water was entering the boat, and so the travelers were in distress. Though the shift team had a difficult time remaining in contact with the boat, they contacted the Greek Coastguard to inform them of the situation and the position of the boat. Although the team was not able to remain in contact with the travelers, they received confirmation at 8.18am that the boat had been brought to Greece (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1103).

    On the 18th of December at 2.11am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two boats. The first, of 29 travellers, had landed on the island of Symi and needed help to exit the place of landing. The second was a boat of 54 travellers (including 16 children, and 15 women) that was rescued by the Greek Coastguard later (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1104).

    On the 21st of December, our shift teams were alerted to 2 boats on the Aegean. The first boat was directed to Chios Island and was likely rescued by the Greek Coastguard. The second boat was in immediate distress and after the shift team contacted the Greek Coastguard they rescued the boat (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1105).

    On the 23rd of December 2018 at 6am CET, the Alarm Phone received information about a boat in distress heading to Samos with around 60 travellers (including 30 children and 8 women, 4 pregnant). The shift team made contact with the boat and was informed that one of the women was close to giving birth and so the situation was very urgent. The shift team then called the Greek Coast Guard. At 8.07am, the shift team received confirmation that the boat had been rescued (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1106).
    Central Mediterranean

    On Monday the 12th of November at 6.57pm, the Alarm Phone was called by a relative, asking for help to find out what had happened to his son, who had been on a boat from Algeria towards Sardinia, with around 11 travellers on the 8t of November. Following this, the Alarm Phone was contacted by several relatives informing us about missing people from this boat. Our shift teams tried to gain an understanding of the situation, and for days we stayed in contact with the relatives and tried to support them, but it was not possible to obtain information about what had happened to the travellers (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1094).

    On November 23rd at 1.24pm CET, the Alarm Phone shift team was called by a boat of 120 travelers that was in distress and had left the Libyan coast the night before. The shift team remained in touch with the boat for several hours, and helped recharge their phone credit when it expired. As the boat was in distress, and there were no available NGO operations near the boat, the shift team had no choice but to contact the Italian Coast Guard, but they refused to engage in Search and Rescue (SAR) activities, and instead told the Libyan Coastguard. The boat was intercepted and returned to Libya (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1107).

    On December 20th, 2018, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two cases in the Central Mediterranean Sea. The first was a boat of 20 people that was intercepted and brought back to Libya. The second concerned 3 boats with 300 people in total, that were rescued by Open Arms and brought to Spain (for full report see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1108).

    https://alarmphone.org/en/2018/12/27/and-yet-we-move-2018-a-contested-year/?post_type_release_type=post

  • *A question of consent: Exterminator mosquitoes in Burkina Faso", ETC group

    Target Malaria, a research consortium funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Open Philanthropy Project, aims to introduce ’gene drive’ mosquitoes in Burkina Faso supposedly to eliminate malaria. Gene drives are new gene-editing tools that can force genetically engineered traits, including extinction traits, through entire populations of insects, plants, animals and other organisms. As a first stage in their experiment, Target Malaria will release 10 000 genetically engineered mosquitoes in two villages in Burkina Faso. The film, “A Question of Consent: Exterminator Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso” documents conversations with residents of the areas where Target Malaria is conducting tests, as well as opposition from civil society groups in the region.

    Here is a link to the film:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nD_1noCf2x8

    And more context on the topic:
    https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/target-malaria-gene-drive-experiments-lack-of-consent-by-zahra-mo
    http://etcgroup.org/content/target-malarias-gene-drive-project-fails-inform-local-communities-risks-ne

    We are trying to share the film widely (especially given the well funded PR by Target Malaria), so please do feel free to share with those who might be interested.