Category Archives: Human Rights

Dutch police use attack dogs

Brussels 02.01.2022 Riot police with batons and shields broke up a crowd of several thousand who had gathered in Amsterdam on Sunday, December 2, to protest against COVID-19 lockdown measures and ongoing vaccinations with six doses in view.

Public gatherings of more than two people are prohibited under restrictions in an effort to prevent the Omicron variant of the coronavirus overwhelming of the healthcare system, indicating that the previous measures of mass vaccination of the population were not effective.

At least 30 people were detained after scuffles, during which four officers were injured, police said in a statement. However there was no explanation why attack dogs were used against demonstrators.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema issued an emergency ordinance, instructing police to clear the central Museum Square, after the thousands of protesters defied a ban on public gatherings.

The Netherlands went into a lockdown abruptly on December 19, with the government ordering the closure of all restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places until at least January 14, with exception of the essential stores.

Under the new sanitary rules, only two people may meet outdoors, with an exception for burials, but no travel restrictions were imposed.

Persecution of Christians at rise

Brussels 25.12.2021 Anna Van Densky Global persecution of Christians has massively increased throughout the pandemic, according to various human rights monitor groups. Intolerance and massacre of Christians in countries like Nigeria or India has only led to more political outcry. Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed on grounds of their faith. And every day, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and another 5 are abducted.(Image: illustration).

The 2021 World Watch List (WWL) report, the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted for following the word of Jesus Christ.

However the process of the persecution of Christians has spread viral, and causing the UK to become one of the ‘most intolerant’ countries in Europe towards Christians. That’s the extraordinary claim of a report published this week by Observatory of Intolerance Against Christians in Europe (OIACE).

The report identifies the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden as the top five countries driving what it describes as a “rising phenomenon” against Christians.

Last year, 45 nations scored high enough to register “very high” persecution levels on Open Doors’s 84-question matrix. This year, for the first time in 29 years of tracking, all 50 qualified—as did 4 more nations that fell just outside the cutoff.

Open Doors identified three main trends driving last year’s increase:
“COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for religious persecution through relief discrimination, forced conversion, and as justification for increasing surveillance and censorship.”
“Extremist attacks opportunistically spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond.”
“Chinese censorship systems continue to propagate and spread to emerging surveillance states.”

Open Doors has monitored Christian persecution worldwide since 1992. North Korea has ranked No. 1 for 20 years, since 2002 when the watch list began.

The cruel treatment of Christians minorities are common in countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, North Korea, China, and Nigeria, and they deserve serious political consideration. This year’s #RedWednesday campaign did a meaningful job of highlighting the persecution faced by millions of Christians, not least the Chrisitan girls and women living under the constant threat of abduction, sexual violence and forced conversion.

Epilogue: human rights 1948-2021

Brussels 11.12.2021 Brussels 11.12.2021 On 10 December, every year, we mark the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This year’s theme “Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights” is particularly important as the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences have a growing negative impact on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, including on civic space. They further deepen pre-existing inequalities and increase pressure on persons in vulnerable situations and challenge human rights globally.

Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are at the heart of the EU’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in human rights, democracy, the rule of law and enabling civic space is essential to achieving and rebuilding better societies for present and future generations. No one should be left behind, no human right ignored. The EU recalls that any restrictions to human rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic must be strictly necessary, proportionate, temporary in nature and non-discriminatory.

Human Rights Day reminds us that human rights are universal, indivisible, inalienable, interdependent and interrelated. It reminds us, however, that these rights cannot be taken for granted and that they must be continuously defended. The EU will continue to uphold the universality of human rights and exercise vigilance against any attempt to undermine international commitments. On Human Rights Day, we commit to re-double our efforts to stand with and speak out for the oppressed and those under threat, wherever they may live. Our solidarity and support goes out in particular to civil society actors and human rights defenders including those with whom we engaged at the EU NGO Human Rights Forum on 7-8 December.

Throughout 2021, under the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024, the EU has continued to reinforce global action to defend and reinvigorate human rights around the world, making full use of our unique range of instruments. For the first time, the EU has imposed sanctions on persons and entities from China, DPRK, Libya, South Sudan, Eritrea and Russia involved in serious human rights violations and abuses, under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime adopted last year. Furthermore, in 2021 the EU took the lead in United Nations Human Rights fora on initiatives aimed at addressing human rights violations in Afghanistan, Belarus, Burundi, DPRK, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Myanmar.

The EU also further expanded concrete support to civil society organisations and human rights defenders to advance human rights and democracy worldwide through a specific thematic programme, amounting to over €1.5 billion for the period 2021-2027, reaffirming its role as world leader in this field.
Achieving human rights is not only an imperative of human dignity; it is a cornerstone of democracy, peace and security, and sustainable development.

Wikileaks Assange closer to extradition

Brussels 10.12.2021 WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared to be a step closer to facing criminal charges in the United States for one of the major leaks of classified information after Washington won an appeal over his extradition in an English court.

U.S. authorities accuse Australian-born Assange, 50, of 18 counts relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables which they said had put lives in danger.

Assange’s supporters profile him as an anti-establishment hero who has been persecuted by the United States for exposing U.S. wrongdoing and double-dealing across the world from Afghanistan and Iraq to Washington.

At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the United States won an appeal against a ruling by a London District Judge that Assange should not be extradited because he was likely to commit suicide in a U.S.
prison.
Back in A cross-group of MEPs are calling on the European Commission to intervene and stop the extradition of Julian Assange from the UK to the US.

The letter, signed by 37 MEPs – including 32 from the Left – deplores the US request to prosecute the founder of Wikileaks, and it underlines the importance of the right to information as a fundamental pillar of our democracy.

MEPs shared the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer’s grave concerns that the extradition would put Assange at risk of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Swiss referendum on COVID19 law

Brussels 28.11.2021 Swiss vote on COVID-19 law amid steep surge in infections in Confederation. Voters casting ballots in the referendum will decide whether Switzerland should impose strict sanitary restrictions.
Swiss voters are having an opportunity to express their opinion on legislation to impose the use of a COVID-19 certificate QR-codes that allow only people who have been vaccinated, recovered, or tested negative attend public events and gatherings.

The vote on the Swiss COVID-19 law, which has unlocked billions of Swiss francs in aid for workers and businesses hit by the pandemic, comes as the Confederation amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

The Swiss federal government, unlike others, has not responded with new restrictions, awaiting free hand from the people to move on imposing restrictions. Analysts are united in their opinion, explaining this atypical for Europe situation by the growing opposition to its anti-COVID-19 policies before they face Sunday’s approval at the ballot box.

Polls suggest a solid majority of Swiss, who are vaccinated will approve the measure, and after the referendum with the cart blanche from the citizens of the Confederatio the government will move along the other nations in Europe, imposing QR codes and other strict measures, discriminating unvaccinated population in name of the health protection.

A group called “Friends of the Constitution” filed a referendum against the Covid-19 Act, saying the legislation gives the authorities too much political power, “deprives people of their rights”, and is “useless and dangerous”.

However, previously on June 13th, 60.2% of voters endorsed the law, which granted the federal government broad powers to manage the pandemic — including the ability to curtail public life by imposing various bans and restrictions including the Certificate with the QR-code — as well as the ensuing economic crisis, especially in regards to various forms of financial aid for businesses and individuals.

The use of the Covid-19 certificate in Switzerland is now limited to statutes related to the coronavirus vaccination, however, as the Re-Check research showed, powerful commercial and government players are eager to transform this device into a digital identity wallet (e-ID). The Re-Check survey shows that this shift is underway, and induces a profound change of paradigm which calls for an urgent social debate. Unfortunately, it is stifled by the regime established in the name of the crisis, the group underlined. Finally, an exclusive from Re-Check shows that the Swiss authorities do not quite manage the sensitive data of COVID certificates as they claim.

In the summer of 2021, many industrialised and emerging countries introduced a Covid-19 certificate system. Depending on the country, this device is also called health pass, green pass, health pass or vaccine passport. Equipped with a QR code, it is reserved for people who have received a Covid-19 vaccine, people who have recovered from a SARS-Cov-2 infection, and people who have tested negative for SARS-CoV- 2.

Re-Check then published “Democracy in pandemic mode: the strange case of the COVID certificate”. Almost six months later, they have returned to this theme with a series in three episodes. Its objective: to explore in detail the issues linked to these certificates with researchers specialising in the critical analysis of surveillance and technologies, but also to highlight the ghost-management systems that certain interest groups have developed to advance an agenda where the Covid-19 certificate plays a key role.

EU deplores liquidation of Memorial NGO

Brussels 13.11.2021 “The European Union deplores the Russian General Prosecutor’s decision to demand the liquidation of the International Historical Educational Charitable and Human Rights Society Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Centre, an important independent voice in Russian civil society dedicated to the protection of human rights and the history of political repression in Russia” reads the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on legal steps against NGO Memorial.(Image: Saint-Petersburg, Russia)

“The move to liquidate Memorial is yet another case of using Russia’s so-called “foreign agents” law to further shrink the space for independent activism and to curtail historical scholarship and critical debates”.

“The EU has repeatedly condemned the Russian legislation on “foreign agents”. This law runs counter to Russia’s international human rights obligations and commitments. The EU expects Russia to uphold its international human rights obligations”.

“Russian authorities must reverse this decision and stop the unabated crackdown on civil society and independent media. Memorial is an internationally respected NGO and one of the oldest in Russia. Its activities remain central to the defence of human rights and serve as a bulwark against attempts to manipulate the historical memory of political repression. Understanding the atrocities of the past is a value that must enjoy support and protection. The dismantling of Memorial would be an irreplaceable loss for the Russian people and the rest of Europe”.

Assange marriage at Belmarsh prison

Brussels 12.11.2021 Julian Assange has been granted permission to marry his long term partner Stella Moris in Belmarsh prison, the BBC has been told. The Wikileaks founder and Moris have two young children together. Their love story flourished in Ecuador Embassy. The prison service said Assange’s application was “considered in the usual way by the prison governor”.

“Good news: UK government has backed down 24h before the deadline.
“Julian and I now have permission to marry in Belmarsh prison.
“I am relieved but still angry that legal action was necessary to put a stop to the illegal interference with our basic right to marry”, Assange bride Stellar Morris wrote on her Twitter blog.

Assange, 50, continues to fight extradition to the U.S. on espionage charges. He is wanted on allegations of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information, following Wikileaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

The publications include the release in April 2010 of footage showing US soldiers shooting and killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.

The Australian has been in Belmarsh Prison since 2019, when he was carried out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by police and arrested formally for breaching his bail conditions.

Migrants storm Polish border

Brussels 11.11.2011 Polish law enforcement officers thwarted an attempt to storm the border by a large group of migrants late on Wednesday evening, November 10, Spokeswoman for the Polish border guards service Ewelina Szczepanska reported on Thursday.

“The incident occurred late last night. The situation is very complicated. It constantly comes to attempts to storm the border. 150 violent migrants tried to cross the border in the area of Bialowieza this time. They threw branches and stones at our officers, attempted to break the fence with these branches,” she said.

“This attempt was prevented. Later some of these people were taken to the forest by the Belarusian law enforcement agencies. The rest made bonfires,” Szczepanska informed. According to her, the border guards have been monitoring the development of the situation and expect similar attempts in the coming days. “We don’t rule this out. We are ready and will not allow any illegal border crossing,” she stated.

Polish border guards thwarted about 33,000 attempts to illegally cross the border in the past year. Most of those trying to enter Poland are Iraqi nationals who want to reach Germany.

EU: Belarus visa suspension

Brussels 09.11.2021 “The Council today adopted a decision partially suspending the application of the EU-Belarus visa facilitation agreement. This decision is a response to the ongoing hybrid attack launched by the Belarusian regime.

“The suspension covers the provisions that waive requirements for documentary evidence, regulate the issuing of multiple entry visas and reduce visa application fees as they apply to officials of the Belarus regime. This decision will not affect ordinary citizens of Belarus, who will continue to enjoy the same benefits under the visa facilitation agreement as they do currently.

“The decision will now be published in the Official Journal and will enter into force on the second day following publication. Under the visa facilitation agreement the decision on suspension is to be notified to the other party no later than 48 hours before its entry into force.

The EU-Belarus visa facilitation agreement entered into force on 1 July 2020, in parallel with the EU-Belarus readmission agreement. The purpose of the agreement is to facilitate the issuance of short stay visas and thereby contribute to enhancing people-to-people contacts and sharing values and democratic principles.

Following the political upheaval in Belarus and the restrictive measures adopted by the EU, in June 2021 Belarus began to organise flights and internal travel to facilitate the transit of migrants towards the EU, first to Lithuania and then to Latvia and Poland. Belarus also announced on 28 June 2021 that it would suspend the readmission agreement with the EU.

Hundreds of migrants are camped in frigid weather behind a razor-wire fence on the Poland-Belarus border. Poland has massed thousands of troops to keep them out, and prevented journalists, aid organizations and EU officials from traveling to the area.

Greece: migrant vessel returns to Turkey

Brussels 29.10.2021 Greece engaged in a rescue operation on Friday, October 29, for a Turkish-flagged cargo ship carrying about 400 migrants after it sent out a distress signal off shore the island of Crete, the coast guard said.

The Greek coast guard quoted passengers as saying the vessel had sailed from Turkey, calling it “one of the largest search and rescue operations carried out in the eastern Mediterranean.”

“The ship is now sailing in international waters. Greece’s Shipping Ministry has asked Turkey to accept the vessel’s return to Turkey,” a migration ministry official said, declining to be named.

The official said Greece’s migration and asylum minister had contacted Turkish authorities and the EU Commission to resolve the matter.

Earlier, Greek authorities had said the ship was being taken to land without giving further details. The nationalities of the passengers were not immediately available to public.

Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union for migrants, and asylum-seekers arriving from Turkey. However the number of arrivals has fallen sharply since 2016 after the EU and Ankara agreed a deal to stop migrants from crossing to Greece.

Nearly 1 million people, mainly Syrian refugees, arrived in the EU in 2015 after crossing to Greek islands close to Turkey. Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August, many EU states fear a replay of that crisis.

On Tuesday, four migrants, three of them children, drowned after a boat in which they and 23 others were trying to cross from Turkey to Greece sank off the island of Chios.

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