Posts Tagged ‘The Independent’

27 January Holocaust Memorial Day 2018: 3 heroes from the past

January 27, 2018

The Independent uses 27 January 2018 “Holocaust Memorial Day 2018″ to draw attention to three unsung heroes and human rights defenders who helped Europe’s Jews escape the Nazis.

The piece states that:“While some like Oskar Schindler and Nicholas Winterton are well known, here are the tales of three less-heralded saviours to whom thousands owe their lives“. That may be true for the first two, but not Raoul Wallenberg who has an Institute in Lund, Sweden and three human rights awards [http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest] named after him.

Irena Sendler

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Irena Sendler (Wikimedia Commons)

Polish nurse Irena Sendler (1910-2008), often known as “Jolanta”, served as head of the children’s department of Zegota, the Polish Council to Aid Jews. It was operated by underground resistance fighters in German-occupied Warsaw between 1942 and 1945. She is credited with smuggling 2,500 Jewish children out of the Polish capital’s ghetto…. “Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this earth and not a title to glory,” she once said.

Frank Foley

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Frank Foley (Wikimedia Commons)

A British Secret Intelligence officer who became known as “the Scarlet Pimpernel”, Frank Foley (1884-1958) became known for “bending the rules” while working undercover at a passport control office in Berlin and allowing Jews to escape Germany….So he stamped passports and issued visas allowing fleeing Jews to escape to Britain and Palestine in defiance of the authorities during the Kristallnacht pogrom. ..Although he had died aged 74, three years earlier, it was said at Adolf Eichmann’s trial in 1961 that Foley was responsible for saving “tens of thousands” of lives.

Raoul Wallenberg

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Raoul Wallenberg (Wikimedia Commons)

Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg (born 1912) played a similarly pivotal role in rescuing Jews from Hungary.  There, he issued protective passports recognising them as Swedish citizens. He also sheltered those victimised by the Nuremburg Race Laws (imposed by Germany in 1935) in 32 government buildings across Budapest, which he had designated Swedish territory.

What awaits Xi Jinping in London when it comes to human rights defenders?

October 20, 2015

Today’s state visit by the Chinese President Xi Jinping to the UK has led to considerable attention to the issue of human rights defenders.

Under the nice title “Man Threatens State Banquet” former AI staff member Richard Reoch posted a blog on the Huffington Post (UK) on 19 October 2015:

The Queen will host the President of China as her guest of honour. Some 170 guests will attend in full formal attire and raise their glasses to welcome him. But the gracious decorum has been threatened by one of those who will attend. He attaches great importance to British values, and is proposing to talk about them during the banquet. The Daily Mail this week warned: “Jeremy Corbyn may embarrass the Queen by raising human rights abuses with the Chinese president at a state banquet next week“.

Human rights are no longer a “top priority” for the government, Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office, told MPs just before Chancellor George Osborne visited China. Leading a trade delegation, the chancellor remained mute on the country’s human rights record. Sir Simon said that human rights no longer had the “profile” within his department that they had “in the past”.

 

It is these [Magna Carta] values that Jeremy Corbyn, now Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, is seeking to raise with the Chinese President during his state visit to London next week.

…China’s human rights record, not only in Tibet, but across its territory remains a cause for deep concern. A recent Amnesty International report cited continuing violations on freedoms of religious belief, expression, association and assembly. It also cited the the use of torture and the country’s lucrative trade in torture equipment. The death penalty remains in place; last year alone 2,400 people were executed. At particular risk were “human rights defenders” it said. They “continued to risk harassment, arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and torture and other ill-treatment for their legitimate human rights work.”

So what do those courageous Chinese citizens who are challenging their government — one of the most powerful states in the world – expect from us in Britain, the home of Magna Carta? That we would be afraid of embarrassing the Queen and her guest – their president – by using rude words like “torture” and “ill-treatment” over dinner?

Jeremy Corbyn’s answer is clear. He has been an embarrassing figure most of his life, speaking out on human rights issues worldwide, as seen below.

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“I have huge admiration for human rights defenders all over the world. I’ve met hundreds of these very brave people during my lifetime working on international issues,” Jeremy Corbyn told the recent Labour Party conference.

“I’ve been standing up for human rights, challenging oppressive regimes for 30 years as a backbench MP. Just because I’ve become the leader of this party, I’m not going to stop standing up on those issues or being that activist,” he declared.

Mr Corbyn’s office has confirmed that he is seeking a meeting with the Chinese delegation and has not ruled out bringing the issue up at the state dinner.

He may be standing up for a set of centuries’ old British values that are no longer the currency of government.

Recently, the Prime Minister agreed not to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama “in the foreseeable future” after he angered the Chinese by meeting the Tibetan leader in 2012. Last week, His Holiness was asked by The Spectator magazine what he would say to Mr Cameron if the two did meet. “Money, money, money,” said His Holiness. “That’s what this is about. Where is morality?

You can follow Richard Reoch on Twitter

The Independent refers to the open letter (signed by Amnesty International UK, the Tibet Society and Tibet Relief Fund, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Students for a Free Tibet, Uighur activists and other Tibetan and human rights organisations) sent to Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss Chinese human rights violations in a “principled, forceful, and specific way”. Downing Street have pledged that “nothing would be off the table” when Cameron welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping amid accusations that ministers are playing down worries about the Beijing government.

The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman insisted that China’s record on human rights and claims it initiated cyber-attacks on other countries would be on the agenda during detailed talks this week. The Prime Minister has also pledged to personally raise the issue of subsidized Chinese steel during talks with the Chinese leader.

Click here for full version of the Open Letter.

A blog post written by AI staff (Two Versions of China: Repression and Resistance). The repression is represented by the government and the Party and the post metes out details on that.

The resistance aspect in the this post is represented by a human rights defender. Her name was Cao Shunli. She died in police custody on 14 March 2014.  For more on her, see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/cao-shunli/

Today, the UK is faced with two versions of China. Choosing Xi Jinping’s China, the UK will be bought and fooled on its knees. Choosing Cao Shunli’s China, the UK will stand in solidarity with the people of China, which will eventually also benefit the people of Britain.

http://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/countdown-china/two-versions-china-repression-and-resistance

Human rights investigators in Qatar: “being followed by the police here. Looks like they will give me troubles now”

September 4, 2014

Two British human rights workers investigating the plight of migrant labourers constructing facilities for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup have disappeared and are feared to be held incommunicado by the Gulf state’s security forces reports the Independent. Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev vanished on Sunday 31 August after sending texts to colleagues saying they were being followed by plain clothes police officers and feared they arrest as they tried to leave Qatar on flights that day. The two men, who are of Nepalese extraction and both carry British passports, had been in the Qatari capital Doha to record interviews with Nepali labourers and investigate conditions in accommodation camps. They were working in cooperation with Nepalese diplomats in the city.

The Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD), employing the men, said it believed its employees were being held by the Qatari police and were at risk of maltreatment or torture: “We are deeply concerned that our employees, both British citizens, may have been subjected to enforced disappearance and are currently at risk of torture.”

[Qatar has been strongly criticised for the working conditions of its 1.4m migrant labourers as it races to spend £123bn on new infrastructure ahead of the 2022 World Cup. More than 400 Nepalese, the vast majority of them in Qatar to work on construction projects, died in the Gulf state between January 2012 and this May – a death rate of one worker per day. Qatar has insisted that none of the deaths occurred on World Cup sites. Qatar has been criticised for routinely holding detainees incommunicado for weeks or months at a time. Amnesty International has described the tactic as “standard practice” and said it can be followed by lengthy further detention without charge or trial.]

 

British human rights investigators disappear in Qatar, after being followed by plain clothes police – Middle East – World – The Independent.

Saudi Arabia criticises Norway over human rights record: that is news..

April 30, 2014

Saudi Arabia has criticised Norway’s human rights record, accusing the country of failing to protect its Muslim citizens and not doing enough to counter criticism of the prophet Mohammed. The gulf state and other islamic countries called for all criticism of religions and of prophet Mohammed to be made illegal  in Norway. It also expressed concern at “increasing cases of domestic violence, rape crimes and inequality in riches” and noted a continuation of hate crimes against Muslims in the country. Russia also called for Norway to clamp down on expressions of religious intolerance and and criticised the country’s child welfare system. They also recommended that Norway improve its correctional facilities for those applying for asylum status. All this happened when Norway submitted itself to scrutiny during the current session of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review.

The criticism may sound incongruent for those who know how often Russia and Saudi Arabia figure in reports from human rights defenders, including ib this blog, but – as the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Børge Brende, in Geneva told Norway’s NTB newswire prior to the hearing –  “… that is the United Nations.

Saudi Arabia criticises Norway over human rights record – News – The Independent.