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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Roger Waters Open Letter Calls on Musicians to Boycott Israel

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

British rocker Roger Waters published an open letter calling on fellow musicians to join a boycott of Israel.

“I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel,” Waters wrote in the letter dated Aug. 18. The letter was previously drafted in July.

The former Pink Floyd front man said he was inspired to release the letter after British violinist Nigel Kennedy at a recent promenade concert at the Albert Hall in London called Israel an apartheid state. The BBC said it would remove his remarks in rebroadcasts of the concert.

Waters, who has been active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement for at least seven years, referred to the boycott of apartheid South Africa, saying that first a trickle of artists refused to play there, leading to a “flood.”

He singled out Stevie Wonder’s canceling of a performance for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces as a recent success story. Wonder quit his participation in the December fundraiser at the last minute under pressure from many corners.

“Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights,” Waters wrote.

Waters recently came under fire for using at in his concerts a huge inflated balloon in the shape of a wild boar with a prominently visible Star of David, as well as a hammer and sickle, crosses and a dollar sign, among other symbols. It is a gimmick he has used for several years.

UN Human Rights Chiefs Ask Hamas to Halt Executions

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged the Hamas terrorist organization to halt plans for more executions without a fair trial.

Navi Pillay added she is concerned over the torture of two men, both in their 20s, who later were sentenced to death and are to be publicly executes two prisoners, both men in their 20s

Forty others are on death, and most of them are accused of collaborating with Israel, of drug trafficking and murder.

“One absolute requirement is that the death penalty can only be imposed after a fair trial. This is currently not possible in Gaza, neither legally nor practically,” Pillay said.

 

 

Human Rights Watch: Turkey Pushing Back Thousands of Refugees

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Iraqi, Jordanian, and Turkish border guards are pushing back tens of thousands of people trying to flee Syria, Human Rights Watch charged on Monday.

“Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey have either closed numerous border crossings entirely or allowed only limited numbers of Syrians to cross, leaving tens of thousands stranded in dangerous conditions in Syria’s conflict-ridden border regions. Only Lebanon has an open border policy for Syrians fleeing the conflict,” the statement from the human rights body said.

Turkey denied the allegations, which if true, are a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which prohibits sending anyone back to – or pushing back anyone trying to leave – a country where their life or freedom would be threatened or where they would face a serious risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

Israel Rejects Report of ‘Recycled’ IDF Abuse of Arab Children

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Israel said a United Nations committee that accused its military of mistreating Palestinian children used recycled information from another U.N. agency’s report.

The Foreign Ministry said it had responded to a similar report by UNICEF in March and questioned whether the Committee on the Rights of the Child investigation broke any new ground.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child said in its report released Thursday, which covers the past 10 years, “Palestinian children arrested by (Israeli) military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released.”

The report, which also acknowledged Israel’s real security concerns, accused Israel of using Palestinian children as human shields and informants.

Left-Wing Idol Samantha Power to Replace Rice as UN Ambassador

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Human rights champion Samantha Power is slated to replace U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, whom President Barack Obama appointed as National Security adviser after Tom Donilon quit on Wednesday. Power’s nomination, unlike Rice’s appointment, requires Senate confirmation.

Rice is a long-time supporter of Obama and was in line to be Secretary of State until Republicans bashed her for incorrect reports on the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where the American ambassador was brutally killed.

Donilon has been rumored for several weeks as wanting to throw in the towel after five years and charges of throwing around his weight.

Both Donilon and Power are part of the “clubhouse” atmosphere in the Obama administration. Donilon’s wife Cathy Russell was a former chief of staff to Jill Biden and is the State Department’s ambassador at large for global women’s issues.

Power, a Catholic, is married to Cass Sunstein, born into a Jewish family and a controversial liberal, whose views include abolishing marriage. He was appointed as President Obama’s information czar, and both he and his wife Samantha scare the dickens out of conservatives with their views that principles of democracy should not interfere with defending human rights, especially of those who are safely far away and do not challenge American influence.

Rice, during her term as Ambassador, said she spends an overwhelming amount of her time defending Israel, which basically meant voting against the Palestinian Authority’s insult to the United States’ efforts to force Israeli concessions towards what was supposed by a PA compromise for establishing itself as an independent country.

With Rice as National Security Adviser and Power as Ambassador, if confirmed, human rights will likely be a top issue.

Both women also are incredibly aggressive in their views of using force, Power much more so. Rice supported a NATO invasion of Libya, and Power has supported military intervention in both Libya and the Balkans.

And Israel.

Power has served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights.

Her views, and those of husband Cass Sunstein, are wildly supportive of human rights, so much so that she said in a televised interview in 2002 that it might be necessary to bring in the U.S. Army to police Israel.

She has since regretted her remarks, denying that she really meant what she said. Ditto concerning her foul-language attack, which cannot be published here, in which she called Hillary Clinton a “monster” during the Obama campaign for the nomination as Democratic presidential candidate in 2008.

Her statement about Israel, which can be seen in the video below, was made after her interviewer fed her a soft-glove question that if she were a presidential adviser, how would she respond to events in Israel if “at least if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide?”

The “one party or another” obviously is Israel, since Palestinian Authority terror is politically correct as a “human right,” so long as it does not spill into the streets of America.

Power welcomed the opportunity to express her views that the United States needs to make the Middle East safe for the United States, even if it means “alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import [Read: Israel]…or investing…billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine.”

She then dropped her bombshell that “external intervention” is needed.

“Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. It’s a terrible thing to do; it’s deference to [leaders] who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people.”

She is not partial to Palestinian Authority Arabs.

Power is best known for her efforts to increase public awareness of genocide and human rights abuses, particularly in the Darfur conflict.

Although a darling of the left-wing, she is not shy to advocate all of the methods associated with tyrants.

Power has an itchy trigger finger.

She has said, “My prescription would be that the level of American and international engagement would ratchet up commensurate with the abuse on the ground.”

She also predicted before Obama became president that after taking office, he would change his mind on his promise to pull American combat troops out of Iraq. So far, her prediction was wrong, but considering the wave of terror that is engulfing Iraq, “It’s not over until it’s over.”

US: Iran Still Has Time to Change Course on Nuclear Program

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs testified today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She said she wanted to use this opportunity to speak clearly about the challenges facing U.S. foreign policy, especially from Iran. Here is her entire written statement to the committee:

The Nuclear Challenge

Iran’s nuclear activity – in violation of its international obligations and in defiance of the international community – is one of the greatest global concerns we face. A nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to the region, to the world, and to the future of the global nuclear proliferation regime. It would risk an arms race in a region already rife with violence and conflict. A nuclear weapon would embolden a regime that already spreads instability through its proxies and threatens chokepoints in the global economy. It would put the world’s most dangerous weapons into the hands of leaders who speak openly about wiping one of our closest allies, the state of Israel, off the map. In confronting this challenge, our policy has been clear: we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Our preference is to resolve this through diplomacy. However, as President Obama has stated unequivocally, we will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, and there should be no doubt that the United States will use all elements of American power to achieve that objective.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has asked why it is that the international community does not believe that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. The answer is simple: Iran has consistently concealed its nuclear activities and continues to do so, denying required access and information to the International Atomic Energy Agency. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has responsibilities to the international community, and it is that blatant disregard for those responsibilities that has made Iran the subject of four UN Security Council resolutions imposing mandatory sanctions.

From his very first months in office, President Obama put forward a clear choice to the Iranian government: Meet your international responsibilities on your nuclear program and reap the benefits of being a full member of the international community, or face the prospect of further pressure and isolation. Unfortunately Iran has so far chosen isolation. There is still time for it to change course, but that time is not indefinite. I want to be clear that our policy is not aimed at regime change, but rather at changing the regime’s behavior.

The Dual-Track Policy

Since this Administration took office in 2009, we have pursued a dual-track policy. Working with the P5+1 – the five members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany, under the auspices of the European Union – we have actively pursued a diplomatic solution to international concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. As a result of Iran’s continuing disregard for its international obligations, we have ratcheted up the pressure on the Iranian government. We have built and led a global coalition to create the toughest, most comprehensive sanctions to date on the Iranian regime. The international community is united in its determination to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Today, Iran is isolated and sanctions are having a real impact on the ground, exacerbated by the regime’s own mismanagement of its economy. Iran exports over 1 million fewer barrels of crude oil each day than it did in 2011, costing Iran between $3-$5 billion per month. All 20 importers of Iranian oil have either significantly reduced or eliminated oil purchases from Iran. Financial sanctions have crippled Iran’s access to the international financial system and fueled the depreciation of the value of Iran’s currency to less than half of what it was last year. Foreign direct investment into Iran has decreased dramatically as major oil companies and international firms as diverse as Ernst & Young, Daimler AG, Caterpillar, ENI, Total, and hundreds more have divested themselves from Iran. The International Monetary Fund projects the Iranian economy will contract in 2013, a significant decrease from the over 7 percent growth six years ago, and far below the performance of neighboring oil-exporting countries. Put simply, the Iranian economy is in a downward spiral, with no prospect for near-term relief.

Opportunities and Risks Ahead for Turkey

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington on May 16 comes at a pivotal time when the Middle East is riddled with extraordinary conflicts that have the potential of exploding into a regional war. The time is also ripe for creating a geopolitical realignment that could eventually usher in stability and progress.

Turkey can and in fact should play a constructive role, provided that the Erdogan government takes a hard look at the opportunities that exist to contribute to building a structure of peace and stability. The Erdogan government, however, must also consider the risks entailed should it remain stuck in grandiose old thinking.

The Turkish government managed over the past few years to create the perception that Turkey’s rise has been based on a sound foreign policy doctrine of “zero problems with neighbors” along with solid economic development policies, while continuing social and political reforms consistent with Islamic values.

A close look at the reality, however, suggests a somewhat different picture that raises serious concerns among Turkey’s friends and quiet jubilation among its enemies.

According to the Human Rights Watch 2011 World Report, the government increasingly breaches what it has committed itself to, including unjustified prosecutions for alleged speech crimes, the arbitrary use of terrorism laws, prolonged pretrial detention (especially of journalists and editors), and the systematic intimidation of any individual or party that objects to, or opposes, government policy.

The government also reversed course with the Kurds, carrying out a clampdown on the legal pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), arresting Kurdish notables and intellectuals for links with the PKK, and until recently resuming the old policy of massive retaliations against PKK attacks.

On Turkish foreign policy, if one takes a look at the situation country by country, the picture looks surprisingly different than “zero problems with neighbors.” There is hardly any neighboring country with which Turkey does not have some kind of problem.

Now is the time for Ankara to take some corrective domestic and foreign policy measures consistent with what the country has and continues to aspire for but fails to realize.

As the Turkish Parliament is writing a new constitution, there is no better time to seek political equilibrium and enshrine human rights in all aspects, especially the rights of the Kurds. Now that the PKK has agreed to abandon violent resistance in favor of a negotiated settlement, the government can institutionalize such reforms without losing face.

The Kurds and other minorities should enjoy equal rights to speak their language and live their culture with no reservations or discrimination, which is the essence of democratic governance.

Turkey’s failure to reconcile the hundred-year old dispute over the Armenian genocide continues to poison its relations not only with Armenia but also with the United States, which takes a strong supportive position on the Armenian grievances.

It is time to end the conflict with Armenia as the one hundredth anniversary is near (2014) and is bound to reignite a major controversy within and outside Turkey. Instead of taking such a categorical stance refuting the entire the issue of the Armenian genocide, Turkish leaders should take heed of what both the Old Testament and the Quran preach: “The children should not be held responsible for the sins of their fathers.”

Turkey, in this regard, should express deep regrets about the Armenian genocide during World War I for the tragic events that occurred a century ago. This may not go far enough with the Armenians, but it offers a good beginning that may lead to reconciliation.

The discord with Greece over Cyprus has only worsened with the dispute over gas exploration near Turkish territorial waters. Turkey must find a solution to the Cyprus conflict; not doing so will further strain its relations with Greece. Realpolitik must trump nationalism which can serve national interests; otherwise it will only harden over time and further limit any room for a negotiated settlement.

Although Turkey and Iran enjoy strong trade relations, Ankara still has not made up its mind about Tehran’s ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. Their bilateral relations are strained by Ankara’s decision to host a base for a NATO missile defense system and the conflict over Syria’s future.

Moreover, Turkey must come to terms with the fact that Tehran’s and Ankara’s national interests do not coincide and that the two countries are on a collision course. Syria has become the battleground between Sunnis and Shiites and thus the emerging political order in post-Assad Syria will have a great impact on their overall ambitions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/opportunities-and-risks-ahead-for-turkey/2013/05/13/

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