The West should clean up its human rights record first before criticising China’s (en français)

Publié le par hort

 

Lire en Francais http://horte.over-blog.fr/article-18487114.html

 

China hits back at US on rights, says Iraq war a disaster

BEIJING (AFP) — China on Thursday accused the United States of human rights hypocrisy, as it branded the US invasion of Iraq the "greatest humanitarian disaster" of the modern world.

In an annual response to Washington's criticism of China's human rights record, the Chinese government labelled the United States arrogant, and highlighted what it said were widespread US failures at home and abroad."(America's) arrogant critique on the human rights of other countries are always accompanied by a deliberate ignoring of serious human rights problems on its own territory," said the report, released by the state Xinhua news agency."This was not only inconsistent with universally recognised norms of international relations, but also exposed the double standards and downright hypocrisy of the United States on the human rights issue, and inevitably impaired its international image."

The US-led war in Iraq that began in 2003 was one of the many issues of concern highlighted by China in the report, entitled "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2007.""The United States has a notorious record of trampling on the sovereignty of and violating human rights in other countries," it said."The invasion of Iraq by American troops has produced the biggest human rights tragedy and the greatest humanitarian disaster in modern world."It also criticised civilian deaths in Afghanistan, secret prisons and torture of detainees. "'Secret prison' and 'torturing prisoners' have become synonymous with America," the report said.

The report added that US citizens' right to join unions had been restricted, prisoners' rights had been violated, and authorities attempted to manipulate the media.The report launched attacks on the United States' inability to tackle poverty, fight crime and even the exorbitant cost of running for president.China said it had released the report to give the world a clearer insight into US failings and address the imbalance of the State Department's annual report on human rights, released Tuesday.

The State Department report removed China from its list of the world's worst human rights violators, but said there were still widespread problems.The US report singled out tightened controls on religious freedom against Buddhists in Tibet and in Muslims in China's northwestern Xinjiang region as areas for concern."The government also continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest, and imprison activists, writers, journalists, and defence lawyers and their families, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under the law," it said.

Rights groups complained that China should not have been removed from the list of worst violators, saying it sent the wrong signal ahead of the Beijing Olympics.In response, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the report was still harsh on China.But she cited China's willingness to renew a dialogue on human rights with the United States as a reason for its improved status.


More than 2.77 million Iraqis internally displaced: UN

 Tue Apr 1, 2008

 The number of internally displaced Iraqis rose to more than 2.77 million people by the end of March, some five years after the US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday. More than half of the displaced were uprooted after the Al-Askari shrine bombing in Samara in February 2006 which sparked a wave of ethnic violence across the country, UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists.

 The new report was produced by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration, and other UN agencies and NGOs.Displacement was now continuing at a much lower rate, at least partly because communities were now much more homogenous, as many minorities targeted for persecution had sought refuge among their own kind.Although there had been a small trickle of people returning to their original homes, only a few families have returned to areas under the control of another sect, it noted. "No members of minority groups (Christians, Sabaean-Mandaeans and Yazidis) have been reported to be among the returnees," the report said.

  The IDPs' lot remains miserable with more than a million people in need of adequate shelter and food and more than 300,000 people without access to clean water. Two million Iraqis have also fled to neighbouring Jordan and Syria, where social and health services are struggling with the influx. The UNHCR in January launched an appeal for 261 million dollars (167 million euros) to help all displaced Iraqis, but said Tuesday it had only received a third of this amount

 
 Thousands Protest In France After Death Of Immigrant Fleeing Police

 Saturday, 5 April 2008

(AFP) 

As interior minister in the previous right-wing government, Sarkozy oversaw a tightening of immigration rules, setting an annual deportation quota of 25,000 illegal immigrants - - a policy pursued under his presidency and fiercely contested by the left-wing opposition

   Thousands protested against the government's immigration policies in Paris on Saturday following the death of a 29-year-old illegal immigrant of Malian origin who jumped into a river to escape police.    Organisers said between 15,000 and 20,000 people participated in the march to the immigration ministry in the capital. Police put the number at 4,20.

      The man died on Friday after having jumped in the Marne river at Joinville-le-Pont east of Paris. Regional official Bernard Tomasini said he was in the country illegally. He ran from police when they attempted to check his identity papers at a commuter train station. Officers chased him and he later jumped from a bridge into the river.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy's tough line on immigration has come under harsh criticism.    As interior minister in the previous right-wing government, Sarkozy oversaw a tightening of immigration rules, setting an annual deportation quota of 25,000 illegal immigrants -- a policy pursued under his presidency and fiercely contested by the left-wing opposition.    Other protests were held in large French cities on Saturday

 
French police raid housing projects near Paris

 

Monday, February 18, 2008


PARIS
: The French police carried out a series of high-profile raids in poor suburbs close to the capital Monday, arresting dozens of people suspected of shooting at police officers and setting fires during three days of unrest in November.

The raids were supported by 1,100 police officers who surrounded buildings, forced open doors and searched homes in towns including Villiers-le-Bel and Sarcelles. The sweep came less than a month before municipal elections that could deal a further blow to the standing of President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose approval ratings have plunged since his election last year.

Sarkozy vowed to reform France and improve law and order in the restive suburbs during his election campaign. But his popularity has fallen sharply in recent months. Opinion polls cite his style of leadership, seen by many as autocratic; the rising cost of living and mounting criticism of his courtship of Carla Bruni and their marriage this month.

Government opponents immediately branded the unusually large police operation Monday as an opportunistic bid to bolster support ahead of the elections, to be held in two rounds on March 9 and March 16."When cameras are taken along on massive police operations during an election period, I think it's a way of influencing opinion, with the goal of spreading fear," said Ségolène Royal, a prominent member of the Socialist Party who lost the May 2007 presidential election to Sarkozy.The police took 35 people into custody and were seeking several more on suspicion of arson and attempted murder of police officers during three nights of violence in Villiers-le-Bel in November, a spokesman for the police said.

The November rioting was triggered when two youths on a motorbike died in a collision with a police car. More than 130 police officers were wounded, 75 of them wounded by shotgun fire or pellet guns.The use of firearms was seen as a dangerous escalation in hard-to-police areas where unemployment is high and many residents, especially those from immigrant backgrounds, live in rundown public housing.

The riots echoed a more serious outbreak of unrest throughout France in 2005, when youths burned thousands of cars during weeks of clashes with the police.This month Sarkozy unveiled a plan aimed at tackling the problems of the suburbs, vowing to send in 4,000 additional police officers and offering a package of aid for neighborhoods that have struggled with poverty and violence.

Sarkozy and members of his government have blamed criminal elements for the violence."I think it's normal today that the government is showing that there are not any lawless areas," André Santini, a junior minister in the Sarkozy government, told France 2 television Monday after the beginning of the raids."We've got to be firm with those who don't respect any rules," he said

Source: International Herald Tribune

 

Parole Time for MOVE 9!"

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

3/8/08]

 Incredibly, it's  been almost 30 years - 30 years! - since 9 MOVE men  and women were unjustly consigned to prisons across Pennsylvania.    Although known as  the MOVE 9, there really are eight survivors of the August 8th, 1978 police  assault on MOVE's West Philadelphia home and headquarters.    They are: Phil  Africa, Janine Africa, Mike Africa, Debbie Africa, Janet Africa, Eddie Africa,  Chuck Africa and Delbert Africa.  The late Merle Africa died at the women's  prison in Muncy, PA (near Williamsport, PA)  under quite mysterious  circumstances.

     All 9 MOVE men and  women were convicted in one of the longest (and most contentious) trials in city  history, on dubious charges of 3rd degree murder of a city cop engaged in the  raid on their home, and related charges.  Even if all the charges were true  (and they most certainly are not), the sentence 30 to 100 years can only be  termed grossly excessive.  At the time of trial, 3rd degree carried a  sentence of 71/2 to 15 years --so essentially the MOVE people got more than  double, and indeed, quadruple the maximum of what the statute provided. Indeed,  the woman got the same sentences as the men, even though none of  them faced weapons charges!

     There's little real  doubt that they're in prison today because they're MOVE members.

     Today, 30 years  later, they should be entitled to their freedom--and they would be, but for the  concerted campaign of cops and local media to keep them imprisoned for a  century.     MOVE members  continue to fight for their imprisoned brothers and sisters, and they ask that  you join that struggle by supporting their parole demands.

  On the  web, contact:(http://www.onamovellja@aol.com)  for more  information (or simply Google, "onamove.com")

     Or write the  MOVE Organization, P.O. Box 19709, Phila, PA, 19143.

     As many of you know,  I covered the press conference of August 8th, 1978.  Every  reporter present knows that within hours of that press conference, the  police department issued a written press release giving a completely revised  statement of how the cop met his death.  That makes sense when you consider that the cop was most likely the victim of friendly fire, for the MOVE house had  become a shooting gallery, with police expending literally hundreds of rounds  during the raid.  Moreover, when's the last time you've seen a crime scene  destroyed before nightfall, within hours of the shooting?

     It happened  here.

     I also covered the  trial, a parade of legalized injustice if ever there was one.  Indeed, days  after the trial, Judge Edwin S. Malmed took to the airwaves to defend his unjust  rulings. On a radio talk show on WWDB-FM, I phoned him and asked him if he knew  who killed the cop.  He replied, live on air, "I haven't the faintest  idea."

        Yet, this guy sent 9 people to prison for 30-to-100 years!

   

French prisons follow the American model—downhill

 

An article in Le monde diplomatique by Jean-Marc Rouillan reviews the downward slide of the French prison system as it adopts many of the inhumane practices of the U.S. Thanks to the American Right and the acquiescence of the Democrats, the U.S. has become the primary exporter, along with its armaments, of disrespect for law, justice and humanity and a love for totalitarian social control (1)

 

Conditions in France’s prisons have severely deteriorated in the past decade. The recommendations of parliamentary committees and well-meaning statements by charities have done nothing to slow, let alone halt, the downward trend. Recent government measures to tighten discipline are worsening an intolerable situation. The current policy is based on the beliefs that prison is the cure for all ills and that authority must be restored.

Despite the different language, it is easy to identify the simplistic ideas of United States conservatives at work. With increasing use of casual labour in the workplace and zero tolerance in the courts, prisons are again a crucial mechanism for protecting society from the “dangerous classes”, which particularly means those in the most vulnerable circumstances. Never, since the bad old days of deportation, has prison policy played so essential a role in social segregation.

 As the French emulate American legal and prison policies they quickly find themselves with American problems: first overcrowding and its attendant abuses—

Physical and mental violence now play a bigger part in the running of prisons, to keep a potentially explosive situation under control and quell thoughts of resistance....

 Since autumn 2004 there has been an atmosphere of physical confrontation. At Lannemezan more and more guards go on duty in combat gear. Use of handcuffs (a symptomatic gesture) is widespread. In the solitary wing at Fleury-Mérogis, a huge prison south of Paris, prisoners are cuffed US-style for any movements inside or outside buildings. Handcuffs seem to have become standard equipment. In the prison hospital the senior supervisor for each floor wears handcuffs and riot gloves on his belt, although 90% of patients cannot get out of bed unassisted.

 In December 2003 the story of a woman at Fleury-Mérogis kept handcuffed while she gave birth prompted an outcry. But there was much less response a year later when the ministry issued instructions that all patients should not only be restrained, but handcuffed behind their backs. Whenever they go to court, or anywhere else outside, detainees spend several hours cuffed in prison vans. You can only understand the pain if you have experienced this treatment. So prisoners are refusing to leave their cells for medical treatment.

 Slave labor, anyone?

 It seems to have become deliberate prison policy to cut the standard of living of inmates and reduce the range of services available to them. This operates together with a drive to extort as much money as possible from those serving sentences; the official reason is the need to boost the finances of criminal injuries compensation schemes.  Contrary to recommendations by parliamentary committees, pay for work in prison has not improved. The worst abuses involve piecework reminiscent of the 19th century, often done under health and safety conditions that disregard current regulations.

 The French have a unique feature in their system whereby the parole board considers the amount of compensation that a prisoner pays in return for cutting the length of the sentence.

 .... The courts, prison service and ministry criminologists believe that if a prisoner voluntarily pays money he or she has accomplished an act of expiation signifying acceptance of the sentence. In the past believers washed away their sins by paying for a mass to be celebrated. In our world prisoners demonstrate their redemption by paying hard-earned cash. In its correspondence with prisoners the parole board puts a clear price on more favourable terms. A €15 contribution to a compensation scheme buys an extra day on temporary release. An undertaking to pay €30 a month knocks a month off the sentence.

 Sounds good, right?—a policy to "encourage" prisoners to make restitution? Well, not as the French do it—

French prisons have always brought out the baser instincts in humanity, in relations between prisoners, and between them and the prison service and courts. Hypocrisy is the prime quality. Treachery and lies are always rewarded. Here is a story that shows how these may be used to pay fines and compensate injuries. Two inmates of a prison in the south of France, whose sentences were due to come up for review, began to refuse to work in the prison workshop. Under no illusions about the attitude of the parole board, they dealt drugs from their cells to raise funds for the compensation scheme. Their trade was highly profitable and they were able to negotiate a reduction in sentence and early release. A few months later a non-French prisoner ran into financial difficulties. Besides endless working, he had been voluntarily repaying €100 a month in compensation. But problems at home suddenly prevented further repayments. The board refused to allow for his difficulties and docked a month from his early release package for failing to comply with the compensation contract.

 Footnotes

 1.Dan Buckley of the Irish Examiner has just revealed an astonishing treaty between the U.S. and Ireland that is awaiting approval by the Irish legislature— US investigators, including CIA agents, will be allowed interrogate Irish citizens on Irish soil in total secrecy, under an agreement signed between Ireland and the US last week. Suspects will also have to give testimony and allow property to be searched and seized even if what the suspect is accused of is not a crime in Ireland.

 Under 'instruments of agreement' signed last week by Justice Minister Michael McDowell, Ireland and the US pledged mutual co-operation in the investigation of criminal activity. It is primarily designed to assist America's so-called 'war on terror' in the wake of the September 11 atrocities. The deal was condemned yesterday by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) as "an appalling signal of how the rights of Irish citizens are considered by the minister when engaging in international relations". The ICCL said it appeared to go far beyond even what has been agreed between EU countries.

Although the Department of Justice insists that the arrangement merely updates existing agreements, it goes much further. The US may ask Irish authorities:

To track down people in Ireland.

Transfer prisoners in Irish custody to the US.

Carry out searches and seize evidence on behalf of the US Government.

It also allows US authorities access to an Irish suspect's confidential bank information. The Irish authorities must keep all these activities secret if asked to do so by the US.

The person who will request co-operation is US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the man who, as White House counsel, instigated the notorious 'torture memo' to US President George W Bush which advised how far CIA agents could go in torturing prisoners. The person to whom the request is sent is the Minister for Justice.
....

ICCL director Aisling Reidy said: "An extraordinary aspect to this treaty is, despite its scope and its potential to violate basic constitutional and human rights, that all this happened without debate or transparency.

"To agree to give such powers to a government which has allowed detention of its own citizens without access to a lawyer for over a year, which has legitimised Guantanamo Bay and the interrogation techniques there, without public debate, is an appalling signal of how highly or not the rights of Irish citizens are considered by the minister when engaging in international relations." No word whether the treaty grants equivalent rights to the Irish government for U.S. citizens. If I lived in Boston, I would be worried.

 

Source: Simply appalling blogspot


Why are 1 in 9 young Black men in prison?

  The so-called "war on drugs" has created a national disaster: 1 in 9 young Black men in America are now behind bars.1 It's not because they commit more crime but largely because of unfair sentencing rules that treat 5 grams of crack cocaine, the kind found in poor Black communities, the same as 500 grams of powder cocaine2, the kind found in White and wealthier communities.

  These sentencing laws are destroying communities across the country and have done almost nothing to reduce the level of drug use and crime. Senator Joe Biden is one of the original creators of these laws and is now trying to fix the problem.3 But some of his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee are standing in the way. Join us in telling them to stand with Joe Biden and undo this disaster once and for all:

http://colorofchange.org/crackpowder/?id=1884-155003

  At every step in the criminal justice system, Black people are at a disadvantage -- we are more likely to be arrested, charged, and convicted, but less likely to have access to good legal representation, and get out of prison on parole.4 While there's no denying that the presence of crack has a hugely negative impact in Black communities across the country, it's clear that the overly harsh crack sentencing laws have done more to feed the broken system than improve our communities. You have to be convicted of moving roughly $500,000 worth of cocaine to trigger a 5-year sentence.5 For crack? About $500 worth.6 These laws punish the lowest-level dealers, while providing a loophole that helps those running the trade escape harsh sentences.

  Recently, attention has turned to these ill-conceived policies as prisons burst at the seams with non-violent drug offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which provides sentencing guidelines for judges, has petitioned Congress numerous times to change the sentencing laws.7 Senator Biden was actually one of the original architects of the disparity, but now he's working to undo the damage with a new bill in Congress (Senate bill 1711). The new law will completely eliminate the sentencing disparity and end the mandatory minimum for crack possession, while increasing funding for drug treatment programs and providing additional resources for investigating and prosecuting major cocaine kingpins.8

  But of course, there are foes of this plan. Others want to see the disparity reduced to 20-to-1 or 10-to-1, but not eliminated. As Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance recently said, that "would be like amending the Constitution's three-fifths clause to make African-Americans fourth-fifths citizens or desegregating 60 percent of public establishments instead of all of them."9 Senators on the Judiciary Committee need to hear that there is strong support for a full elimination of the disparity.

  We can take this opportunity to join the Sentencing Commission and countless other advocates in calling on Congress to change this unjust law. Please join us:

http://colorofchange.org/crackpowder/?id=1884-155003

  Thank You and Peace,

-- James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, Mervyn, Andre, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
   March 26th, 2008

 

References for this article can be found at  http://blackstarnews.com/?c=122&a=4425

Ending Ethiopia's U.S.-Backed Somalia Occupation
By Sophia Tesfamariam
April 9th, 2008

Fifteen months into the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia, the country has seemingly fallen off the edge. Somalia is now witnessing one of the worst humanitarian crises in Africa with over one million internally displaced and facing "a staggering scale of need," as Refugees International disclosed on March 31.

According to the United Nations, thousands have been killed and many more wounded since the occupation began, while the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) which arrived on the tanks of the invading troops is now on the verge of collapse as the New York Times reported on March 29. Neither the support of the United States nor the military power of Ethiopia has helped it achieve any meaningful acceptance. Somalis rightly view the TFG as a government imposed upon them by an historic archenemy; legitimacy, evidently, can neither be purchased with money nor coerced through bombardment.

Many Human Rights groups have also documented the impunity with which Ethiopian troops have operated in Somalia in the past year. In August 2007, Human Rights Watch released a major report titled Shell-Shocked: Civilians under Siege in Mogadishu documenting the crimes against civilians committed by all the warring factions during March and April of 2007.  The report specifically documented the deliberate shelling by Ethiopian troops of densely populated areas including hospitals, the looting of private property and the mass arrests and detentions of civilians.

Since then, two-thirds of Mogadishu's population has been displaced and the resistance to the occupation has grown largely in response to the war crimes and injustices committed against civilians. Furthermore, the disproportionate and heavy-handed use of force by Ethiopian troops has left little doubt in the mind of many Somalis that Ethiopia is indeed the enemy they perceive it to be. In addition to supplying Ethiopia with logistical, financial and political support, the U.S. occasionally takes matters into its own hands. In early March 2008, the United States dropped several missiles on Dobley, a small Somali village near the Kenyan border.

The alleged target was a man suspected of terrorist attacks in Kenya a decade earlier. As with similar bombing campaigns conducted by the U.S. in Somalia, at least four since early 2007, this one missed its target. This shoot-first approach has once again taken the lives of innocent villagers and others who found life in Mogadishu unbearable. These reckless bombings of dubious legality have so far achieved nothing but stoke the ire of a population already under siege.

In their opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, on March 28, Jennifer Daskal, senior counter-terrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch and Leslie Lefkow, senior researcher on the Horn of Africa for Human Rights Watch attribute the predictable and "unsurprising growth in anti-Western and anti-American sentiment among Somalis who never supported radical Islamist movements before" to the callous U.S. bombings and "Ethiopia's blank check to commit abuses." The authors further warn that "eliminating a few alleged terrorists will not solve these deeper problems," but that "an effective counter-terrorism policy must address the underlying human rights and humanitarian tragedies that are fueling the crisis."  The policies of targeted killings and unwavering support for Ethiopia's brutal occupation are proving to be detrimental to Somalis and undermining U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa.

In addition to hampering reconciliation efforts, these policies clearly undermine the TFG itself, the very government the U.S. purports to support. The Somali people justifiably see an imposed government of warlords and their cronies, a brutal and callous occupation and the world's only superpower stubbornly and recklessly pushing the country over the edge.

The Somali Diaspora Network urges the United States to: Immediately withdraw its military and political support for Ethiopia's illegal occupation of Somalia; Support the investigation of war crimes and human rights abuses committed against the civilian population by advocating the establishment of a war crimes tribunal for Somalia; Conduct a congressional investigation of U.S. military assistance to Ethiopia to determine its full adherence to U.S. law; Support UN Security Council action demanding that Ethiopia withdraw its troops from Somali territory without delay; and, support the reconciliation efforts among all Somali stakeholders from within and without the TFG.

SDN is a grass-roots organization committed to advocate on critical policy matters pertaining to Somali-American interest and issues of concern through communication and information sharing, raising public awareness, and educating the public and government officials.

   

China snubs CNN apology over Cafferty remarks

  By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN,

Associated Press Thu Apr 17, 2008

 

China on Thursday snubbed an apology from CNN over remarks by one of its commentators as a wave of verbal assaults on foreign media raised concerns over coverage at this summer's Beijing Olympics.Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu rejected CNN's explanation that commentator Jack Cafferty was referring to China's leaders — not the Chinese people — when he described them as "goons and thugs." CNN said it apologized to anyone who thought otherwise.But Jiang said at a regularly scheduled news conference that the CNN statement lacked sincerity and instead "turned its attack on the Chinese government to try to sow division between the Chinese government and the people." The head of the ministry's information department summoned CNN's bureau chief in Beijing on Wednesday night to deliver a near identical protest. CNN has been singled out by the Chinese government and unknown activists who have phoned and e-mailed death threats to Western reporters. Most of the criticism of the Atlanta-based network concerns a photograph posted on its Web site weeks ago which cropped out Tibetans throwing stones at Chinese security forces.

 Chinese at home and abroad have heatedly accused Western media of biased coverage of violent anti-government protests in Tibet and across western China last month.Numerous Web postings, YouTube videos and Facebook groups have criticized the Tibet news coverage, including a Web site called anti-cnn.com, which was set up especially to point out alleged media bias.Anger has been further stirred by high-profile protests among Tibetans, free-speech advocates and others dogging the Beijing Olympic Torch's passage through London and Paris.CNN and other foreign satellite broadcasts can be seen only in hotels, offices and housing developments open to foreigners, meaning very few Chinese would have heard Cafferty's original comments.

 Censors also block many foreign news sites on the Internet, pointing to an underlying irony of the ongoing protests — that they profess outrage over foreign media reports that their government does not permit them to view.The entirely state-controlled media has joined in the vilification campaign, with the criticisms of CNN featuring prominently in Thursday's newspapers and TV shows.A signed editorial in the Communist Party's flagship People's Daily attacked what it called Cafferty's "verbal violence." "When people wake up and face the facts, there will be no more market for 'information terrorism,'" the editorial said.

 The vilification of Western media has renewed concerns about media controls during the Olympics, when thousands of foreign reporters are expected to be in Beijing to cover the August Games. Beijing has pledged to meet past standards for coverage, but has repeatedly violated those promises by detaining journalists and banning them from parts of the country.

 

Publié dans world

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