Category Archives: Human Rights

EU calls Baku to release protestors

Dozens of people were detained on October 19 in Baku, Azerbaijan, following their attempt to rally peacefully.

Excessive and unprovoked force was reportedly used to disperse the crowds and arrest participants. Such incidents need to be investigated. We equally call on the authorities to release peaceful protesters remaining in detention”  says the Statement by the Spokesperson on the latest developments in Azerbaijan.

*Freedom of assembly is a fundamental human right and we expect Azerbaijan to ensure that it can be fully exercised, in line with the country’s international obligations.*

Police in Azerbaijan on Saturday detained scores of protesters, including the leader of the main opposition Popular Front, at the start of a planned rally against low salaries, corruption and a lack of democracy in the energy-rich ex-Soviet state. 

The protesters who attempted to rally in the streets of the capital had put forward demands of higher salaries for state employees and fair and independent elections. The human rights groups have been criticising Azerbaijan for a long time for a poor fundamental rights records. 

Popular Front leader Ali Kerimli said that some 50 people, mostly organizers of Saturday’s unauthorized rally, had already been detained earlier in the week, exact numbers of arrested are unknown.

Incumbent President Ilham Aliyev rules the country after death of his farther – the first President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev (1993-2003) who previously was the First secretary of the Communist party of Soviet Republic (1969-1982), and member of the Politburo of the USSR. The spouse of the President AlieyvMehriban – is his first Vice-President of Azerbajan. (Image above: President and First Vice-President of Azerbaijan).

‘Ocean Viking’ migrants enter EU

The Ocean Viking vessel which has been navigating in the Mediterranean for fortnight with migrants from Libyan coast on board will dock in Malta after six EU countries reached an agreement, France‘s interior minister said on August 23.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said France would receive 150 out of the 356 migrants from board of the Norwegian-flagged ship. He added Germany, Portugal, Romania, Luxembourg and Ireland were taking part in the agreement.

Ocean Viking, was stranded at sea for fortnight awaiting port access after being denied entry by Malta and requests to Italy did not receive any response.

Castaner announces the arrival of 150 migrants from the #OceanViking boat. He is Minister of the Interior: his duty is to protect our borders, not to help the illegals to cross them!” wrote Nicals Bay (France, RN), Member of European Parliament in his Twitter micro blog.

Germany: refugee status implications

Refugees who return to Syria for holidays might lose their status in Germany, the Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild newspaper. The measure is taken based on the situation of some newcomers simultaneously claim to be fleeing persecution there, and returning to spend summer time.

In case the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) would became aware of travels to the country of origin, the authorities would immediately examine a revocation of refugee status, he said. In addition, they observe closely the developments in Syria. “If the situation permits, we will carry out repatriations” Horst Seehofer (CSU)  Federal Interior Minister said.

Around 780,000 Syrians have fled to Germany in recent years. For more than eight years, the devastating war has been raging, however now the troops of President Bashar al-Assad have gained control over the majority of territories, and reconstruction of infrastructure and houses began. The World Food Programme (WFP) Director of Supply Chain Jakob Kern assessed the investment into the entire reconstruction of infrastructure to amount up to  USD200-300 billion. The armed conflict in Syria has been ongoing since 2011. At the end of 2017, the victory was announced over the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. In some areas of Syria the fight is ongoing. At the moment, a political settlement, the restoration of Syria, and the return of refugees are in the forefront.

Dutch burqa ban challenges

Around one hundred people, mainly women, protested in  The Hague, The Netherlands on August 9 against “Burqa ban“, which came into effect in the on August, 1.

Around couple of dozens of women wore a niqab and carried plates with texts like “I am getting robbed of my freedom“, “Hands off my niqab”, “We are the victims of symbolized politics” and “Human rights are being violated” during the silent protest.

The demonstration took place at the Koekamp Park, and passed without incidents. The protesters demand the Dutch government to recall the law. A few secular human rights activists were present to demonstrate their solidarity and support to the Muslim believers.

According to the organizers, the law violates freedom of movement, freedom of religion and self-determination of women. In addition, they think that woman wearing a niqab/burqa are excluded from social life and that the law leads to polarization of society.

The new Dutch law partially prohibits face-covering clothing. It means that people are no longer allowed to enter public space such as hospitals, government buildings, schools and public transport with face-covering clothing, such as a burqa, niqab and balaclava.

The Party for Freedom (PvV) leader Geert Wilders sees it differently: as far as he is concerned, the Dutch government should deport all those burka/niqab groupies to Saudi Arabia, where then can practice their cult without risking to clash with democracy, fundamental rights and equality.

However the biggest challenge of Dutch government is that the overwhelming majority of these women were born in the Netherlands, and have Dutch nationality. Their mothers were eager to integrate, and they were not wearing Muslim veils.

When the law passed in June 2018, Upper House of the Parliament press officer Gert Riphagen estimated that it concerns between 200 and 400 burqa or niqab-wearing Muslims  in the Netherlands, out of a population of 17 million people.

The Dutch law is similar to bans in the other European countries: in France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Denmark, some of which go further than the prohibition, but they impose fines: 1,000 Danish kroner (€100) in Denmark and  €150 in France.

In October 2018 the United Nations Human Rights Committee opposed the bans, explaining that it violates the human rights of Muslim women and risks “confining them to their homes.” However the opinion of international experts did not have any effect on the implementation of the legislation.

 

 

Russians demand fair elections

Around 50 thousands of Moscovites  expressed their solidarity with rejected the access to elections opposition politicians participating in a demonstration “For Freedom and Justice” . The last five weeks the demands for fair elections and inclusion of independent candidates in upcoming municipal ballot united people from different views and backgrounds.

The crowd gathered under umbrellas in spite of rain, while riot police and vans have cordoned off the area in anticipation of a possible further march of participants through the city center following the event.

People chanted that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “thief”,

White Counter”, an independent activist group that tracks attendance at Russian demonstrations, estimated the Moscow crowd at around 47 thousand by 3:30 PM local time, but people still were arriving.

Moscow police, suspected by critics of deliberately diminishing the numbers of protesters in official statistics,  assess that  20,000 people participated in the event.

In spite of the outstanding support independent candidate Lubov Sobol was arrested, according to TASS Russian news agency wire.

The participants of the demonstration are putting forward the following demands:
1. Withdraw the criminal and administrative cases that have been opened against participants of peaceful protests during last five weeks.
2. Release the illegally arrested in the criminal case of the so-called riots and withdraw the case.
3. Publicly investigate and prosecute those responsible for violating election laws and building a mechanism of political repression.
4. Resignation of the head of election commission Valentin Gorbunov and lustration of the members of election commissions at all levels.
5. At the fall session of the State Duma, amend the electoral law and lift the signature barrier.

Simultaneously there were demonstrations in support of independent candidates and fair and free elections in the other Russian cities.

AMENDED: video of independent candidate Lubov Sobol arrest in Moscow. She has registered video of storming of her accommodation by OMON (anti-riot police).

Open Arms migrants receive Hollywood-style support

The Spanish ship Open Arms has been stranded off Italy‘s island of Lampedusa for eight days because none of the EU governments is willing to accept any number of migrants from the group of the 121 passengers navigated from Libyan coasts.

The Hollywood star Richard Gere helped to bring food and supplies to the boat and asked for support for the migrants and NGO, whose passengers include nine-month-old Ethiopian twins.

Everyone is doing okay now,” Gere said in a video published by Open Arms.

The rescue ship has been waiting for eight days for any EU government to welcome migrants. However not everybody is convinced by migrants drama: “Richard Gere on the Open Arms? I hope you get a tan and that you feel good … Since the ship is an NGO that flies the Spanish flag, they can disembark the 120 immigrants in Ibiza or Formentera, right?”  wrote Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

The 70 years old asylum legislation, created after the WWII, has not been adapted after the collapse of the colonialism. It is worth mentioning that the key documents – the  Geneva Refugée Convention (1951)and its 1967 Protocol, were concluded still in colonial context, while Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast) became the first sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence from European colonization in 1957. At times of endorsement of Geneva Convention, it was beyond imagination that the legislation would be used to enhance flows of illegal migration from African continent to Europe.

EU expects release of Moscow protesters

Tbe European Union expects an “immediate release” of over 600 peaceful protesters, detained by police in Moscow,  the spokesperson of the European External Action Service wrote in her Twitter micro blog.

More than 600 people, including opposition activists, were detained by riot police in Moscow on August 3 after authorities warned they would take “all necessary measures” to prevent  the unsanctioned rally.

A week after police detained more than 1,300 people at a similar protest in the Russian capital, hundreds of OMON riot police were deployed ahead of the intended protest to demand free elections in Moscow.

« Older Entries