Tag: <span>Amnesty International</span>

Israeli-Lebanese Tensions Appeals

Increased Israeli-Lebanese Tensions: Conflict Resolution Measures Urgently Needed.

On June 6, 2024, United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an urgent ceasefire in the armed conflict on the Lebanese frontier between the armed forces of Israel and the armed militia within Lebanon of Hezbollah.

Clashes between Hezbollah and the Israeli military along the Israel-Lebanon border have recently increased in scope in terms of both the territory under fire and the weapons used. Already 100,000 Israelis and an equal number of Lebanese have been forced to flee their home. UNIFIL – the U.N. peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon – has not been able to prevent this escalation.

United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

Lebanon: Israel’s White Phosphorous Use Risks Civilian Harm.

The Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) Human Rights Watch, in a new report called Lebanon: Israel’s White Phosphorous Use Risks Civilian Harm, stated that white phosphorous, which poses a high risk of burns and long suffering, was used by Israeli forces in at least 17 towns in southern Lebanon since October 2023.

Amnesty International has also documented the use of white phosphorous in southern Lebanon. In addition, Lebanon’s Ministry of Public Health says that the white phosphorous attacks have caused hundreds of forest fires in Lebanon.

99of9 / * The map is made by Thomas Blomberg using the UNIFIL map, deployment as of July 2006 as source., CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

A Gaza Strip ceasefire, while necessary, is only a first step in the process needed of negotiations in good faith among Israelis and Palestinians.

An end to the armed conflict in the Gaza Strip remains the key to ending the hostilities between Hezbollah and the Israeli military. Hezbollah has stated that a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is a precondition for stopping its attacks. Currently, there are discussions among Egyptian, Qatari, and U.S. mediators on a ceasefire with phases. The U.S. proposals were set out by U.S. President Biden on May 31, 2024, but progress is very uncertain.

A Gaza Strip ceasefire, while necessary, is only a first step in the process needed of negotiations in good faith among Israelis and Palestinians. On October 8, 2023, in light of the October 7, 2023 Hamas attacks on Israeli settlements, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) had stated.

A picture of a Hezbollah sign over the highway in South Lebanon near the Litani River. By Eternalsleeper, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Citizens of the World, we call for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict:

  • The release of all hostages held by Hamas and other Palestinian groups.
  • The release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, often under administrative detention without trial.
  • Preventing the extension of the conflict to the frontier of Lebanon through negotiations with Hezbollah.
  • Preventing an increase in violence on the West Bank among Israeli settlers and Palestinian villages.
  • The start of negotiations in good faith for a political solution that ensures freedom and the collective safety of Israelis and Palestinians.

The Association of World Citizens believes that these proposals can build on a pool of shared values, create a climate of dialogue and trust, and set the stage for a new political reality.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Torture Education of World Citizenships.

26 June: International Day Against Torture.

Featured Image: Painting in museum DPRK. By AgainErick, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Torture has a bad name among the police and security agencies of most countries. Thus torture is usually called by other names.  Even violent husbands do not admit to torturing their wives.  Thus;  when NGO representatives started to raise the issue of torture in the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in the early 1980s;  the government representatives replied that it was a very rare practice;  limited to a small number of countries and sometimes a “rogue” policeman or prison guard. 

However;  NGO representatives insisted that, in fact; it was widely used by a large number of countries; including those that had democratic forms of government.

Sean MacBride (1904-1988).

Getting torture to be recognized as a real problem;  and then having the Commission on Human Rights create the post of Special Rapporeteur on Torture; owes much to the persistent efforts of Sean MacBride (1904-1988); at the time the former chairman of the Amnesty International Executive Committee (1961-1974) and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1974). MacBride had been the Foreign Minister of Ireland (1948-1951);  and knew how governments work.

However; He had earlier been a long-time leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA); being the son of John MacBride; an executed leader of the 1916 Easter Rising – an attack on the Dublin Post Office. With his death; John MacBride became an Irish hero of resistance.  Later Sean had spent time in prison accused of murder. He told me that he had never killed anyone;  but as the IRA Director of Intelligence; he was held responsible for the murders carried out by men under his command.  Later, he also worked against the death penalty.

Torture

Seán MacBride. By Bogaerts, Rob / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

As examples of the current use of torture kept being presented by NGO representatives and as some victims of torture came to Geneva to testify; the Commission on Human Rights named a Special Rapporteur and also started to work on what became the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel  Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Treaty came into effect on 26 June 1987; and in 1997 the UN General Assembly designated 26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Independent Experts.

Human Rights treaties negotiated within the UN create what are known as “Treaty Bodies”; ­ a group of persons who are considered to be “independent experts”. As the saying around Geneva goes; “some are more ‘expert’ than others, and some are more ‘independent’ than others.  Countries which have ratified a human rights convention should make a report every four or five years to the specific Treaty Body. For the Torture Treaty;  it is every four years to the 10-person expert group.

Many States are late, some very late, in meeting this obligation. There are 158 States which have ratified the Torture Convention;  but some 28 States have never bothered to file a report. States which have not ratified the treaty do not make reports.

Concluding Observations.

NGO representatives provide the experts with information in advance and suggest questions that could usefully be asked. The State usually sends representatives to Geneva for the Treaty Body discussions; as the permanent Ambassador  is rarely able to answer specific questions on police and prison conditions. At the end of the discussion between the representative of a State and the experts; the experts write “concluding observations” and make recommendations.

Unfortunately; the Convention is binding only on States.  However; increasingly non-governmental armed militias;  such as ISIS in Syria and Iraq carry out torture in a systematic way. The militia’s actions can be mentioned but not examined by the Treaty Body.

While there is no sure approach to limiting the use of torture; much depends on the observations and actions of non-governmental organizations.  We need to increase our efforts; to strengthen the values which  prohibit torture; and watch closely how persons are treated by the police, prison guards and armed militias.

 

Rene Wadlow, President and a Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens.

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politics without borders Appeals

Politics Beyond National Frontiers.

Featured Image: Photo by  Markus Spiske,  Unsplash.

In our current globalized world society, there is an increased role for politics without borders.  Politics no longer stops at the water’s edge but must play an active role on the world stage. 

However, unlike politics at the national level which usually has a parliament at which the actors can recite their lines, the world has no world parliament as such.  Thus new and inventive ways must be found so that world public opinion can be heard and acted upon.

Beyond The Borders of Individual Countries. 

The United Nations General Assembly is as close to a world parliament that we have today.  However, all the official participants are diplomats appointed by their respective States – 195 members.  U.N. secretariat members, the secretariat members of U.N. Specialized Agencies such as UNESCO and the ILO are in the hall ways or coffee shops to give advice.  Secretariat members of the financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF are also there to give advice on costs and the limits of available funds.  The representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in consultative status with the U.N. who can speak at sessions of the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council cannot address the General Assembly directly. However, they are also in the coffee shops and may send documents to the U.N. Missions of governments.

Politics without borders requires finding ways to express views for action beyond the borders of individual countries. 

Today, most vital issues that touch the lives of many people go beyond the individual State:

  • The consequences of climate change.
  • The protection of biodiversity.
  • The resolution of armed conflicts.
  • The violations of human rights.
  • More just world trade pattern. 

Thus we need to find ways of looking at the world with a global mind and an open heart.  This perspective is an aim of world citizenship.

However, world citizens are not yet so organized as to be able to impact political decisions at the United Nations and in enough individual States so as to have real influence.  The policy papers and Appeals of the Association of World Citizens are often read with interest by the government representatives to whom they are sent.  However, the Association of World Citizens is an NGO among many and does not have the number of staff as such international NGOs as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace.

We still need to find effective ways so that humanity can come together to solve global problems – that is – politics without borders.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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The Uprooted.

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Democratic Republic of Congo - tensions Appeals

Democratic Republic of Congo: Increasing Tensions and Danger of…

Featured Image: Movement militiamen M23 and Type 85 heavy machine gun. By Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Despite the presence of some 14,000 United Nations peacekeepers (Monusco) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), instability continues to grow, especially in the North Kivu area at the frontiers with Rwanda and Uganda.

Le Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23).

Recently, there have been violent demonstrations against the U.N. forces accused by some of an unwillingness to fight actively against anti-government armed militias especially Le Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) in North Kivu.  The governmental authorities of the RDC have accused the government of Rwanda of giving support to the M23.  Rwandan army personnel are said to be active in raids along with M23 troops.  There have been reports by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch making the same accusations based on interviews with witnesses and victims.  Tensions between the governments of RDC and Rwanda are growing, and there is a danger of a spillover impact with people using violence on their own.  The RDC government has been  creating its own armed militias in North Kivu but with little control over their activities.

The situation in RDC.

The United Nations Security Council is to take up a report of U.N. experts on the situation in RDC, but it is difficult to see what more can be done.  The Security Council has no operational control over the Monusco peacekeepers. The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in both RDC and Rwanda from 10 to 12 August 2022 and no doubt urged calm and cooperation.  It is unclear what else the U.S.A. may have proposed or be willing to do.

Antony Blinken

This is the official State Department photo for Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, taken at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 9, 2021. [State Department Photo by Ronny Przysucha/ Public Domain]. By U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Now is the time for concerted action among non-governmental organizations and the U.N. system.

The already unstable and complex situation is likely to become more unstable unless there are strong measures by civil society organizations in RDC, Rwanda, and Uganda.  Such civil society action has been weak or lacking in the past.  Now is the time for concerted action among non-governmental organizations and the U.N. system.  Churches and other religious-based groups are probably the only civil society organizations structured to act relatively quickly  before the wave of disorder grows.

 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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The Uprooted.

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Uyghurs Appeals

U.N. Human Rights Report: Spotlight on the Fate of…

Featured Image:  Khotan (Hotan / Hetian) is an oasis city in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. Uyghur people at sunday market. By Colegota, CC BY-SA 2.5 ES <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/es/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.

On the final day in office, 31 August 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented the long-awaited report on the violations of the human rights of Uyghurs and other Muslim populations of the province of Xinjiang.  The 46-page Report highlights massive detention in camps, torture, sexual violence against women, restriction of religious practices, forced sterilization of women and separation of families.  Many of the facts in the U.N. Report had already been set out by non-governmental human rights organizations (NGOs) such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and in newspaper reports.

The Office of the high Commissioner for Human Rights had been collecting information on the situation since 2018 when Michelle Bachelet became High Commissioner.

Michelle Bachelet

Michelle Bachelet (2018). By Ministerio Secretaría General de Gobierno, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Influence on NGO positions. 

The possible strong impact of the Report will depend in large measure on what pressure NGOs will be able to develop on the Chinese authorities.  Chinese government influence within the U.N. Secretariat has been growing.  Chinese diplomatic pressure on government diplomats within the U.N., always active, has also been growing in part linked to trade and debt consideration.  While Chinese diplomats watch the representatives of NGOs closely during meetings of the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. human rights bodies, the Chinese diplomats have little influence on NGO positions. 

“Re-Education”.

NGOs have developed close links with scholars working on Chinese policies and with a number of research institutes and “think tanks”.  Some of the same NGOs representatives, such as those of the Association of  World Citizens, had earlier been involved with the human rights of Tibetans, often facing the same type of repression and efforts at “re-education”.  The Chinese diplomats at the U.N. have grown in sophistication and must not be underestimated.

However, with the U.N. Report in hand, objective and based on a wide range of observations and interviews, NGOs have a clear avenue for action.  Although the armed conflict in Ukraine and tensions concerning Taiwan draw attention of  governments and NGOs, the Uyghur issues are a test for NGO effectiveness and should be watched closely.

Tibetans

Sakya Monastery, Tibet. Sakya Monastery was founded in 1073, by Konchok Gyelpo and is situated about 130 km west of Shigatse on the road to Tingri. By I, Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Crackdown on Buddhism in Tibet?.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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The Armed Conflict in Ethiopia Appeals-Français

Appels de Négociations pour mettre fin au Conflit Armé…

Image en vedette : Drapeau national de l’Éthiopie. Photo par Kelly Lacy dans Pexels.
 

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) réitère maintenant son Appel aux parties au conflit armé en Éthiopie pour qu’elles négocient de bonne foi pour mettre fin aux combats et faire face aux conséquences profondes du conflit ; surtout la faim généralisée.

Mark Lowcock; le Secrétaire général adjoint des Nations Unies aux affaires humanitaires; a averti que près de cinq millions des six millions d’habitants de la province du Tigré avaient besoin d’une aide alimentaire; et le nombre augmente à mesure que les combats s’étendent à d’autres régions.

Peu de temps après le début des combats, le 3 novembre 2020 ; l’Association des Citoyens du Monde, connaissant la fragilité de la confédération des provinces qui composent l’Etat éthiopien ; avait fait un premier Appel à la négociation de bonne foi ; même si les informations sur les combats étaient très limitées. Les journalistes ont été empêchés de se rendre au Tigré comme la plupart des ONG humanitaires.

Mark Lowcock
Mark Lowcock, Secrétaire général adjoint des Nations Unies aux affaires humanitaires et Coordonnateur des secours d’urgence, prend la parole lors de la Conférence de sauvegarde à Londres. 18/10/2018. Par DFID – UK Department for International Development, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Les Combats au Tigré se complexifient chaque jour.

Cependant d’ici février; suffisamment d’informations avaient été recueillies auprès de sources réfugiées, qu’Amnesty International a présenté un premier rapport sur l’étendue des violations des droits humains, avec de multiples rapports crédibles et largement corroborés sur des atrocités généralisées impliquant des massacres, des viols et des enlèvements de civils.

Les combats au Tigré deviennent chaque jour plus complexes alors que les forces de défense éthiopiennes, les forces de défense érythréennes et les milices ethniques affrontent les forces tigréennes. Il y a une accumulation de forces gouvernementales soudanaises à la frontière éthiopienne-soudanaise et les réfugiés fuient vers le Soudan. L’ensemble de la Corne de l’Afrique, déjà fragile, risque d’être davantage déstabilisé.

Pour le moment, tous les efforts de médiation proposés par les Nations unies ou l’Union africaine ont été refusés par le gouvernement central éthiopien. Les anciens responsables de la province du Tigré ont fui, et on ne sait pas qui est en mesure de négocier pour les factions du Tigré si des négociations devaient être entreprises. Il peut y avoir des possibilités d’initiatives non gouvernementales.

D’où la réitération de l’Appel Des Citoyens du Monde de L’Association.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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The Armed Conflict in Ethiopia Appeals

Negotiation Appeals for to end The Armed Conflict in…

Featured Image: National Ethiopia Flag. Photo by Kelly Lacy in Pexels.
 
The Association of World Citizens (AWC) now reiterates its Appeal to the parties in the armed conflict in Ethiopia for negotiations in good faith to end the fighting,  and to deal with the deep consequences of the conflict; especially the wide-spread hunger.
 
Mark Lowcock; the United Nations Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs; has warned that nearly five million of the six million population of the Tigray Province needed food assistance;  and the number grows as fighting spreads to other regions.
 
   Shortly after fighting began on 3 November 2020; the Association of World Citizens, knowing the fragile nature of the confederation of provinces which make up the Ethiopian state;  had made a first Appeal for negotiations in good faith;  although information on the fighting was very limited.  Journalists were prevented from going to Tigray as were most humanitarian NGOs.
 
Mark Lowcock
Mark Lowcock, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator speaks at the Safeguarding Conference in London. 18/10/2018. By DFID – UK Department for International Development, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Fighting in Tigray becomes more complex each day.

 
However by February; enough information  had been  gathered from refugee sources, that Amnesty International presented a first report on the extent of human rights violations, with multiple credible and widely corraborated reports of widespread atrocities involving mass killings, rapes and the abduction of civilians.
 
   The fighting in Tigray becomes more complex each day as Ethiopian Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces and ethnic militias face Tigrayan forces.  There is a buildup of Sudanese government forces on the Ethiopian-Sudan border and refugees flee into Sudan.  The whole Horn of Africa already fragile is in danger of greater destabilization.
 
   For the moment all efforts for mediation proposed by the United Nations or the African Union have been refused by the Ethiopian central government. The former officials of Tigray Province have fled, and it is not clear who is in a position to negotiate for the Tigray factions were negotiations to be undertaken. There may be possibilities for non-governmental initiatives.
 
 
 
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Religious Appeals

Religious Liberty: Continuing Efforts by NGOs Needed.

Image By S. Hermann & F. Richter in Pixabay

by Rene Wadlow.

22 August has been set by the United Nations General Assembly as the

“International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief”.

Due to Nazi and Japanese militarist persecution of religious groups during the Second World War;   freedom of religion and belief was on the U.N. agenda from the start of the organization. The issue is at the heart of article 18  of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;  proclaimed in 1948.

Religious non-governmental organizations (NGOs);  were active during the San Francisco conference;  at which the drafting of the U.N. Charter was completed. It was due in part to their active efforts  that an article creating a consultative status for NGOs;  was included into the U.N. Charter. NGOs in consultative status with the U.N;  can make U.N. bodies aware of issues by providing timely;  factual information. Often NGOs will address matters to U.N. agencies;  when governmental delegations keep silence. The duty of NGOs is not to speak against States;  but for the interests of humanity and human rights.

Spiritual But not Religious.

Although religious NGOs have had a wide range of interests to stress at U.N;  meetings and conferences;  such as the status of women, ecology, food policies;  liberty of religion and belief;  has always been a concern. The concern of religious liberty is not limited to religious NGOs;  but is also championed by secular NGOs;  such as Amnesty International and the Association of World Citizens.

Over time;  there has developed a fairly large number of people;  who consider themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” There has been the development of a growing number of associations devoted to practices;  which have their roots in religious traditions;  but can also be independent such as yoga, meditation, Chi Quong. Such associations often fall outside the usual governmental protection of religions – their tax status or other facilities concerning their buildings and properties.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International at the Bologna Pride 2012, in Bologna, Italy. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, June 9 2012. By G.dallorto, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The U.N. holds that the religious liberty provisions of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration;  are not limited in their applications to traditional religions;  or to religions and beliefs;  with institutional characteristics or practices  similar to those of traditional religions. Thus;  newly established movements and religious minorities should be protected.

Article 18 of the Univesal Declaration of Human Rights is developed in detail by the: 

“Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance nd Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief”.

Adopted by the General Assembly on 25 November 1981. The Declaration recognizes that every individual has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, expression, and religion. The importance of inter-religious dilogue; is stresssed as is the need for intensified efforts to protect the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and to eliminate all forms of hatred, intolerance and discrimination;  based on religion or belief.

There is a hope that tolerance and pluralism will strengthen democracy;  facilitate the full enjoyment of all human rights; and thereby constitute a sound foundation for civil society;  social harmony and peace. Yet we are fully aware that forces of aggressive nationalism;  absence of religious tolerance;  religious and ethnic extremism continue to produce fresh challenges.

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Islamic State (ISIS).

A tragic current example of victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief;  is that of the Yazidis of Iraq at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS). The Yazidi world view is Zoroastrian;  a faith born in Persia proclaiming that two great cosmic forces;  that of light and good;  and that of darkness and evil are in constant battle. Humans are called upon to help light overcome evil.

However;  the strict dualistic thinking of Zoroastrianism was modified by another Persian prophet: Mani of Ctesiphon in the third century CE.  Mani tried to create a synthesis of religious;  teachings that were increasingly coming into contact through travel and trade:  Buddhim and Hinduism from India;  Jewish and Christian thought;  Helenistic Gnostic philosophy from Egypt and Greece as well as many smaller;  traditional and “animist” beliefs.

Islamic State

Variant of the jihadist black flag. This particular version is used by the “Islamic State of Iraq” and by al-Shabaab in Somalia. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


Demon Worshipers.

He kept the Zoroastrian dualism as the most easily understood intellectual framework though;  giving it a somewhat more Taoist (yin-yang) flexibility. Mani had  lived in China. He developed the idea of the progression of the soul;  by individual effort through separate lives through reincarnation – a main feature of Indian thought. He combined the idea of spiritual progress through different lives;  with ethical insights of Gnostic and Christian thought. Unfortunately;  only the dualistic Zoroastrian framework is still attached to Mani’s nme: Manichaeism. This is somewhat ironic as it was the Zoroastrian Magi;  who had Mani put to death as a dangerous rival.

Within the Mani-Zoroastrian framework;  the Yazidi added the presence of angels;  who are to help humans in the constant battle for light and good. The Yazidi place great emphasis on Melek Tauis;  the peacock angel. Although there are angels in Islam;  angels that one does not know could well be demons;  and so the Yazidis are regularly accused of being “demon worshipers”.

Collateral Damage.

There are probably some 500,000 Kurdish-speaking Yazidis in Iraq. Iraq demographic statistics are not fully reliable. Yazidi leaders may give larger estimates by counting Kurds;  who had been Yazidis;  but had been converted to Islam. There had been some 200,000 Yazidis among the Kurds of Turkey;  but now nearly all have migrated to Western Europe, Australia and Canada. There are smaller groups of Yazidis in Syria, Armenia and Georgia. (1)

The Yazidis have often been persecuted for their beliefs;  and as part of the Kurdish-speaking community. This was true during the period of the Ottoman Empire;  as well as during the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party rule of Iraq. However;  the most recent and dramatic form of persecution came at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS).

The Association of World Citizens stressed that the policy of the ISIS leadership was genocide – the destruction in whole or in part of a group. The killing of the Yazidis is a policy and not “collateral damage” from fighting. While ISIS has lost much of the territory in Iraq and Syria that it once held;  the trauma  continues. The Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief call upon NGOs for continued speedy and effective action.

Note:

1) See Nelida Fuccaro. The Other Kurds in Colonial Iraq (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999)

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Najet Laabidi Appeals-Français

Condamnée pour avoir défendu ses clients : Maître Najet…

Par Bernard J. Henry.

Najet Laabidi; il est des années qui marquent l’histoire d’un pays;  mais aussi celle d’une association. L’année 1961 est, pour l’Allemagne, celle de la construction du Mur de Berlin; qui allait devenir le symbole le plus douloureux de la Guerre Froide; de même qu’elle est l’année de la création, au Royaume-Uni, d’Amnesty International. Cinquante ans plus tard, pour la Tunisie 2011;  est l’année d’une révolution victorieuse du peuple contre la dictature; la première de son genre dans le monde arabe.

Douglas Mattern.

Pour l’Association of World Citizens (AWC);  c’est l’année de la disparition de son Président-fondateur;  Douglas Mattern, emporté par un cancer dans la banlieue de San Francisco.

 

Mais c’est aussi l’année où nous avons commencé à suivre un cas individuel; sur lequel  au début de la décennie nouvelle; et au milieu de la tragédie mondiale sur laquelle elle s’ouvre;  nous travaillons toujours. L’un des volets de ce cas vient de connaître son dénouement en justice; un dénouement qui;  pour n’être pas des plus sévères, ne peut pourtant nous satisfaire. Car lui aussi est porteur d’un symbole, lourd, trop lourd et menaçant.

Civile jugée par des militaires, avocate punie pour avoir défendu.

Ce cas, c’est celui de Najet Laabidi; avocate, Défenseure des Droits Humains (DDH). Comme nous l’écrivions le 27 mai 2017 dans notre article;  «Najet Laabidi, avocate engagée pour l’Etat de droit en Tunisie» :

«Le 8 novembre 2011, choisie et contactée pour représenter des victimes de mauvais traitements dans l’affaire Barakat Essahel, l’avocate subit un déluge d’insultes et de menaces de la part de proches d’anciens officiels de l’Etat poursuivis en justice pour avoir torturé des prisonniers politiques sous Ben Ali. D’abord par téléphone avant le procès, puis le jour venu, en pleine salle d’audience.

La police militaire évacue les auteurs des injures et menaces, mais ne lève pas le petit doigt pour protéger l’avocate. Il lui est ordonné de ne pas quitter le prétoire jusqu’à ce que tout le monde soit sorti. Elle décline une proposition de la raccompagner en voiture. Le ton est donné de ce que seront les années qui suivent pour Najet Laabidi.

Quatre ans plus tard, deuxième round. Le 26 novembre 2015, elle plaide lors d’une audience d’opposition contre Ezzedine Jenayeh, ancien Directeur de la Sûreté nationale sous Ben Ali, condamné par contumace pour délit de violences dans l’affaire Baraket Essahel et qui conteste le jugement. D’entrée, la procédure consacre l’arbitraire.

Najet Laabidi avait accusé Leila Hammami.

[Devant le Tribunal militaire, Najet Laabidi avait accusé Leila Hammami, juge du Tribunal militaire de Première instance,] de partialité, les propos de Najet Laabidi ayant été filmés puis diffusés sur les réseaux sociaux. «Dans ma vidéo,» rappelle l’avocate, «j’ai évoqué les circonstances de l’impunité, j’ai souligné que le Tribunal militaire ne pouvait pas consacrer les principes d’un procès équitable car, dans ce corps d’Etat, il y a toujours la corruption». Nouvelle plainte de Leila Hammami le 21 décembre 2015, la magistrate versant au dossier un CD de l’enregistrement de Najet Laabidi lui disant ses quatre vérités.

Il n’en faut pas plus au Procureur général près la Cour d’appel de Tunis pour lancer des poursuites sur le fondement de l’Article 128 du Code pénal pour «outrage à un fonctionnaire public». Convoquée le 1er février 2016 devant le juge d’instruction du Tribunal de première instance de Tunis, Najet Laabidi refuse de comparaître. Le 12 octobre 2016, elle est condamnée par contumace à un an d’emprisonnement.

Informée de sa condamnation seulement le 24 avril dernier, l’avocate y fait opposition. A l’issue de son audience le 10 mai dernier, Najet Laabidi est condamnée à six mois de prison, décision dont elle interjette immédiatement appel. Mais qui n’aurait jamais dû intervenir en premier lieu, puisque ce qu’on lui reproche, outre peut-être son appartenance à un parti politique d’opposition, c’est d’avoir agi comme ce qu’elle est – une avocate.»

La Constitution Tunisienne.

Qu’importe que tant la Constitution tunisienne que le droit international des Droits Humains interdisent la comparution de civils devant les juridictions militaires; dont les justiciables sont par définition les seuls membres des forces armées. Najet Laabidi comparaît le 27 juin 2019;  devant le Tribunal militaire de Première instance de Tunis. A l’issue d’une délibération aux allures d’interminable, le 12 mars 2020; l’avocate est reconnue coupable; et condamnée à une amende symbolique de huit dinars tunisiens; soit 2,50 € ou $2,79.

 

L’ONG FrontLine Defenders annonce la condamnation de Maître Najet Laabidi

Mieux vaut une amende symbolique qu’une peine d’emprisonnement ferme; certes, comme celle qui lui aurait été à coup sûr infligée pour les mêmes faits sous Ben Ali. Mais cela reste trop; car justement, c’est un symbole.

Une Défenseure des Droits Humains humiliée.

Ce n’est un secret pour personne;  le droit tunisien est un héritier direct du droit français; qui l’a construit pendant; la période de protectorat de la France en Tunisie de 1881 à 1956. A cette exception près que la justice tunisienne ne dispose pas d’un instrument historique et juridique majeur comme; la Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen proclamée en France en 1789;  aujourd’hui partie intégrante de la Constitution de la République française. Les formes y sont;  mais jusqu’en cette année 2011, le fond;  les justiciables tunisiens avaient pris l’habitude de s’en passer. Sauf peut-être les opposants et DDH qui garnissaient régulièrement les cellules du régime. Et ce droit français recèle un intriguant symbole.

l’euro symbolique.

Que ce soit au civil ou en tant que partie civile dans un procès pénal ou criminel; il est possible de demander à son adversaire; qui sera au pénal le prévenu et l’accusé en cour d’assises; un «euro symbolique» de dommages et intérêts, descendant logique du «franc symbolique» qui servait la même fonction. Lorsqu’il ne s’agit pas de balayer les accusations du public d’opportunisme financier; surtout si l’adversaire est notoirement aisé; l’euro symbolique est une solution commode pour faire reconnaître du juge son préjudice d’estime sans avoir à demander une somme conséquente qui ne serait jamais accordée; tant il serait impossible de prouver un préjudice moral ou financier conséquent. Pour autant; l’euro symbolique n’en peut pas moins servir d’outil de vexation envers la partie condamnée; qui se voit ainsi refuser toute idée de puissance et réduire au dénuement moral.

Une Double Insulte.

Condamner Najet Laabidi à huit dinars symboliques;  comme elle aurait pu l’être à un «dinar symbolique»; c’est envers elle une double insulte. D’abord parce qu’elle n’a commis aucun acte qui eût pu lui valoir une comparution en justice;  ayant rempli ses charges d’avocate et aucun Etat se voulant un Etat de droit ne peut judiciariser quiconque pour cela ; voilà qui, à bon droit;  interroge sur l’Article 128 du Code pénal tunisien et son intitulé périlleusement vague d’ «outrage à un fonctionnaire public».

Ensuite; parce que c’est sa qualité de DDH elle-même qui s’en trouve niée;  ses juges lui accordant la faveur d’une peine clémente alors que la moindre conscience juridique aurait dû les amener à une seule et unique conclusion;  celle de l’iniquité de toute peine même symbolique envers elle; professionnelle du droit œuvrant pour la défense des valeurs mêmes qui avaient fait descendre les Tunisiens dans la rue et, in fine, amené la chute du régime Ben Ali puis l’avènement du système actuel;  ce système dont ces mêmes juges font partie.

Maître Najet Laabidi de nouveau visée par les autorités tunisiennes.

En ce sens-là, oui, l’amende infligée à Najet Laabidi a la valeur d’un symbole. Le symbole d’une Tunisie qui, depuis 2011;  avance vers l’Etat de droit mais bien souvent trébuche. Dans notre article du 18 mars 2018 intitulé «Maître Najet Laabidi de nouveau visée par les autorités tunisiennes»;  nous notions encore :

«Si l’on juge un pays sur la manière dont il traite les personnes handicapées, alors la Tunisie a besoin d’un bon avocat. Et si l’on juge un pays au respect que les pouvoirs publics accordent aux avocats, alors la terre du Jasmin semble en chute libre vers l’indéfendable».

Autant dire que Najet Laabidi a elle aussi, plus encore; la valeur d’un symbole. Le symbole des DDH de tous parcours de vie et milieux professionnels; même si les praticiens du droit sont par définition mieux armés pour défendre;  qui permettent tant soit peu à cette Tunisie en chute libre de se raccrocher aux branches. La valeur d’un symbole à défendre; car de là dépend la réalité de demain de l’Etat de droit en Tunisie. Et partout ailleurs; parce qu’un symbole de liberté n’a pas de frontières.

Bernard J. Henry est Officier des Relations Extérieures de l’Association of World Citizens.