- 7 April 2014
- UN News Centre
An independent United Nations expert today sounded the alarm on the deteriorating human rights situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, adding that the evacuation of aid workers following recent attacks on the humanitarian community would have severe consequences for life-saving work in the area.
“Recent developments in Rakhine state are the latest in a long history of discrimination and persecution against the Rohingya community which could amount to crimes against humanity,” said the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana.
- 5 April 2014
- Thomson Reuters Foundation
- By Tim Large
… fragments from a series of first-person accounts … collected to mark the 20th anniversary of Rwanda’s 100 days of slaughter. Taken together, they give extraordinary insight into the psychology of atrocity: how so many ordinary people – friends, neighbours, doctors, teachers, priests – could take part in the bloodletting.
They also hint at the moral complexity underlying Rwanda’s efforts to balance truth and reconciliation, justice and forgiveness…
Twenty years later, old resentments fester alongside new.
- 6 April 2014
- New York Times Magazine
- 20 years after the genocide in Rwanda, reconciliation still happens one encounter at a time.
- By Susan Dominus. Photographs By Pieter Hugo Text
Last month, the photographer Pieter Hugo went to southern Rwanda, two decades after nearly a million people were killed during the country’s genocide, and captured a series of unlikely, almost unthinkable tableaus. In one, a woman rests her hand on the shoulder of the man who killed her father and brothers. In another, a woman poses with a casually reclining man who looted her property and whose father helped murder her husband and children. In many of these photos, there is little evident warmth between the pairs, and yet there they are, together. In each, the perpetrator is a Hutu who was granted pardon by the Tutsi survivor of his crime.
- 30 March 2014
- Foreign Affairs
- By Swanee Hunt
Twenty years ago, in 100 days of slaughter between April and July 1994, an estimated one million Rwandan men, women, and children were killed by their fellow citizens. It was one of the worst genocides in history, and its effects still ripple through Rwanda, central and eastern Africa, and the world at large.
It would be obscene to say that such a catastrophe has had even the thinnest silver lining. But it did create a natural — or unnatural — experiment, as the country’s social, economic, and political institutions were wiped out by the genocide. And in important respects, the reconstructed Rwanda that emerged over the next two decades is a dramatically different country.
One major improvement has come in the leadership of Rwandan women, who have made history with their newly vital role in politics and civil society.
- 5 April 2014
- Global News
- By Isabella Cairess Favaro
Beatha Kayitesi’s story, From Fear to Freedom, on Global’s 16×9, sheds light on a lesser-known chapter of that nation’s tragedy. It is a living account of the years before the genocide and the attempts to which one person will go to achieve peace.
BANGUI (Central African Republic): UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday urged the leaders of the strife-torn Central African Republic to prevent a new genocide on the continent, 20 years after Rwanda.
“It is your responsibility as leaders to ensure that there are no such anniversaries in this country,” said Ban, in Bangui for a brief visit.
The UN secretary general will meet transitional president Catherine Samba Panza to discuss ways to end the deadly cycle of intercommunal violence that has laid waste to the country for a year and led senior UN figures to raise the spectre of genocide. Ban, who will spend just a few hours in Bangui before heading to Rwanda for the 20th anniversary of that country’s genocide, said ahead of his visit he was “deeply troubled by the appalling atrocities” against civilians in the Central African Republic.
- 6 April 2014
- The Independent
- By Robert Fisk
The very last Armenian survivors of the 1915 genocide – in which a million and a half Christians were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks – are dying, and Armenians are now facing the same fearful dilemma that Jews around the world will confront in scarcely three decades’ time: how to keep the memory of their holocausts alive when the last living witnesses of Ottoman and Nazi evil are dead?
- 3 April 2014
- Thomson Reuters Foundation
- By Thin Lei Win
BANGKOK – A group of Myanmar activists, including former political prisoners, are launching a campaign on Friday to tackle the ‘hate speech’ against Muslims that has engulfed social media and spread into Burmese society.
Panzagar, literally “flower speech”, is a movement set up by Nay Phone Latt, a blogger and executive director of Myanmar ICT For Development Organization (MIDO) who spent nearly four years in jail for writing about the monks’ protests in 2007 that ended in a bloody crackdown.
- March 2014
- United Church Observer
- A new museum in Winnipeg has become a flashpoint for how we interpret this country’s treatment of First Nations
- By Larry Krotz
There is something inherently perverse about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the as-yet-unfinished landmark rising from the plain between a parking lot and a baseball stadium at Winnipeg’s Forks. When you get right down to it, this $351-million dream of the late media mogul Izzy Asper is being built to document evil…
The museum, which opens in September and is one of only two national museums located outside Ottawa-Hull, has been taking shape for more than a decade. In that time, disputes have almost constantly overshadowed what its promoters would prefer to highlight…
The Ukrainian community, for example, lamented that exhibits on the Holodomor (the 1932-33 starvation engineered by Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin) were going to be too close to the washrooms; Palestinians objected to being left out entirely; even Jews — whom Asper envisioned as central to the museum — were reportedly upset that the founding of the state of Israel was not going to be commemorated.
But the nascent museum’s most heated controversy is the growing insistence that exhibits depicting the story of First Nations peoples carry the word “genocide” in their titles. So far, the museum has resisted doing that…
- 13 March 2014
- Today's Thoughts | Maung Zarni
- By Maung Zarni
“What can we do, brother? There are too many. We can’t kill them all.”
He said it matter-of-factly—a former brigadier and diplomat from my native country, Myanmar, about Rohingya Muslims.
We were in the spacious ambassadorial office at Myanmar Embassy in an ASEAN country when this “brotherly” conversation took place. I am familiar with Myanmar’s racist nationalist narrative. I have also worked with the country’s military intelligence services in pushing for the gradual re-engagement between the West and our country, then an international pariah. Apparently, knowledge of my background made the soldier feel so at ease that he could make such a hateful call in a friendly conversation on official premises in total candor: Islamophobia normalized in the highest ranks of the bureaucracy and military in Myanmar.
- 10 March 2014
- Al Jazeera
- By Miriam R. Lowi
In his speech to Israel’s Parliament on February 12, Martin Schultz, President of the European Parliament, spoke of our shared responsibility to stand up for freedom and dignity at all times. He acknowledged Israel’s success at realising a dream shared by many people: To live “in freedom and dignity” in “a homeland of their own”, noting that Palestinians also have the right to “self-determination and justice”.
- 12 February 2014
- Amnesty International
International peacekeepers have failed to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Muslim civilians in the western part of the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said in a report issued today.
To protect the country’s remaining Muslim communities, international peacekeeping forces must break the control of anti-balaka militias and station sufficient troops in towns where Muslims are threatened.
“Anti-balaka militias are carrying out violent attacks in an effort to ethnically cleanse Muslims in the Central African Republic,” said Joanne Mariner, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty International.
“The result is a Muslim exodus of historic proportions.”
Amnesty International criticized the international community’s tepid response to the crisis, noting that international peacekeeping troops have been reluctant to challenge anti-balaka militias, and slow to protect the threatened Muslim minority.
- 14 February 2014
- 'No more Srebrenicas', 'no more Rwandas' – that was the response to 90s' horrors. Yet that is where we are with Syria
- By Jan Egeland
Visiting Damascus last week I saw for myself how local and international relief workers are engaged in heroic, dangerous and often life-saving work in Syria. However, the successful evacuation of civilians from some neighbourhoods of Homs will not end the continued provocation against basic human decency that is happening on our watch. Of Syria’s many besieged civilians, 99% are not in Homs. The conflict in Syria has put back the clock on humanitarian progress by decades, and if the UN security council cannot agree on a basic resolution on humanitarian access then the future is even bleaker.
- 5 February 2014
- By Naomi Paiss
NEW YORK (JTA) — On her way out the door to defend the SodaStream company, the suddenly political Scarlett Johannson threw a grenade at her erstwhile cause, the international aid organization Oxfam.
According to her spokesperson, “she and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”
Full stop. The global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which harbors more than a few people who want to put the entire project of a Jewish homeland out of business, is not the issue between Ms. Johannson and Oxfam. SodaStream has its main factory in the occupied territories. The company is contributing to the health and prosperity of the occupation while providing income for the settlement enterprise — an enterprise that is corroding Israeli democracy, deemed “illegitimate” by the American government and considered illegal under international law.
When Esta Soler lobbied for a bill outlawing domestic violence in 1984, one politician called it the “Take the Fun Out of Marriage Act.” “If only I had Twitter then,” she mused. This sweeping, optimistic talk charts 30 years of tactics and technologies — from the Polaroid camera to social media — that led to a 64% drop in domestic violence in the U.S.
In 1994, Esta Soler convinced Congress to pass a law to combat the devastating effects of violence against women.
- 1 February 2014
- New Vision (Uganda)
- By Moses Walubiri
President Yoweri Museveni should have long rendered his apology for the spate of abuses committed during the anti-insurgency campaign in the north and north-eastern part of the country by some reprobate elements in NRA/UPDF, state minister for water resources, Betty Bigombe has said.
Museveni made the apology at the NRA/NRM 28th Liberation Day anniversary in Mayuge district headquarters, expressing shock at the “shameful” atrocities that sullied the reputation of an army whose near impeccable disciplinary record had been integral in its successful guerrilla war…
When asked what the apology meant given her role in various peace initiatives, Bigombe said the move is a good gesture because those affected by the atrocities “always demand for justice to be done”.
- 29 January 2014
- UCA News
- By Abby Seiff
Late Tuesday night Cambodia wrapped up a review of its human rights record by assuring the United Nations and member states that it was taking pains to improve its rights record and maintain peace amid ongoing political turmoil.
“I promise you that we will make our efforts on human rights in Cambodia, develop progress and improve… even though we find our challenges, even though we just came from the civil war, we will do our best to be in line with your recommendations,” Mak Sambath, deputy chair of the government’s Human Rights Committee, told scores of delegates who had gathered for the Univeral Periodic Review which is held once every four and a half years.
Just hours after Sambath concluded his remarks in Geneva, dozens of riot police and district security guards in Phnom Penh stalked a small group of activists around town. Their offence was that they were going to embassies and UN offices to drop off a petition calling for the release of 23 activists and protesters believed to have been wrongfully imprisoned.
In spite of Sambath’s pledges to the contrary, Cambodia has shown little interest in aligning its rights record with international standards. The past month has seen a startling backslide on human rights and the worst government sanctioned violence in 15 years.
- 24 December 2013
- Boston Globe
- By Mohammed Daraghmeh, Associated Press
BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A Palestinian college student is one of the last keepers of a fading tradition: ringing the bells of Bethlehem.
Twice a week, Khadir Jaraiseh climbs to the roof of the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born. He pulls the ropes of four bells in a rooftop tower a total of 33 times, the number of years Jesus was believed to have lived…
His rooftop perch offers a view of old stone houses and cobblestone alleys in the center of Bethlehem.
On Sunday, patches of snow were left on rooftops, remnants of a rare storm that hit earlier this month. Much of the church was covered in scaffolding, as part of urgent repairs of a leaking roof — the first facelift in 600 years. Below, Manger Square was filled with tour groups, including visitors from India and Africa.
But the postcard-like vista is disrupted by Israel’s West Bank separation barrier in the background.