I started this blog for personal matters, to publish my art and literature, Now it seems I am turning this blog to a reporting media of Human abuse and Human being in wretched plight all around the World. I hope, We all citizen should rush to the crying and disturbing souls and help and support them. Protest and publicizing can help stop atrocities on public and bring safety measure to the mass under calamities.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Protect women and girls at risk of sexual violence in Haiti's camps

Protect women and girls at risk of sexual violence in Haiti's camps

Pascaline* is a 21-year-old. Since the earthquake, she has been living in a makeshift camp in Port-au-Prince, just one of the 1,300 camps where more than a million displaced people struggle to survive.

One night, Pascaline was alone in her tent, when a man entered. He raped and beat her. Neighbours failed to intervene, they say because they believed she was with her partner.

After the abuse, Pascaline received medical assistance and managed to lodge a complaint with the police. However, the police did not conduct a thorough investigation, and this lack of responsiveness allows the perpetrator to remain free. Since the violence took place, Pascaline has seen him several times in the camp and she is afraid that he might kill her if he finds out she reported the crime.

Pascaline is not the only woman in this terrible situation. Amnesty International has documented other cases of sexual violence within the camps where people displaced by the earthquake live.

Celine*, an 8-year-old girl, was raped while alone in her tent. Her mother had left the camp to go to work, having no one to look after Celine during her absence.

Fifteen-year-old Fabienne* was raped when she left the camp to urinate, as there were no latrines within the camp. Fabienne’s mother reported the rape to a member of the local administrative authority, who did not give her any information or advice.

Carline*, 21, was raped by three men when she went to urinate in a remote area of the camp, as the latrines were too dirty to be used.

Many more cases of sexual violence against Haitian women and girls go unreported. Indeed, women and girls are too afraid to lodge formal complaints with the police, either because the perpetrators live in the same camp or in the nearby area, or because they have no other place to go.

Not trusting the police to protect them, they prefer to keep quiet for fear of revenge. In addition, women and girls living in camps lack minimal information regarding availability of services responding to sexual violence. As a result, perpetrators go unpunished, while victims remain unprotected.

Amnesty International is concerned at the almost total absence of police officers in the camps. This lack of preventative and protective measures, coupled with the promiscuity and lack of adequate lighting and sanitary facilities in many of the camps, increases the vulnerability of women and girls.

The Haitian authorities have recognized that the response so far has been insufficient and that, notwithstanding the limited capacity of the police forces under the current situation, more needs to be urgently done. However, they have not taken adequate measures to protect the rights of women and girls.

Amnesty International is urging the authorities to heed the call from one of the victims of sexual violence: “You need to protect the girls, because I don’t want anybody to suffer what I have been going through”.

* not her real name

Image: A girl walks in Penchinat camp, a makeshift camp for people displaced by the recent earthquake, Jacmel, Haiti Copyright: Amnesty International

Appeal for Action

Take Action

Click on the 'send' button below to call on the Haitian government to protect women and girls at risk in Haiti's camps

Sexual violence in Haiti's camps

Dear President Préval,

I call on the Haitian Government to guarantee the protection of women and girls living in the fear of sexual violence in the country's makeshift camps.

I have been particularly struck by reports of sexual abuses against women and girls within the camps, as well as by the lack of adequate investigations and protective measures by the police.

While I understand the difficulty of providing basic services in Haiti after the devastating earthquake which hit the country on 12 January, I believe that more can and should be done.

In particular, I believe that in order to reduce the vulnerability of displaced women and girls, the government, with the assistance of the international community, should urgently act to:

Increase police presence in the camps, particularly at night, in order to improve overall security and prevent sexual violence against women and girls;

Implement in all camps measures to reduce the exposure of women and children to sexual violence (such as adequate sanitation and lighting facilities);

Inform camp inhabitants about the location of temporary police stations where units composed of trained officers on gender-based violence are operating, and about the different services (healthcare, counselling and psychological support, protection, juridical assistance, etc) that can be accessed by victims of sexual violence;

Ensure that police officers and other authorities and professionals dealing with reports of sexual violence record and report all cases in accordance with the system and forms developed under the National Plan to Fight Violence Against Women;

Re-establish police units specialised in the response to gender-based violence in police stations, and increase the number of units to ensure coverage during day and night;

Establish without delay a temporary shelter for women and girls victims of sexual violence where they can be protected and receive comprehensive services, including but not limited to health care, psychological support and legal assistance.

Click on this link for on line action and for original new

The state of the world' HUMAN RIGHTS

Annual Report 2010 - Amnesty International
Amnesty International logo
Amnesty International annual report 2010 microbanner

In a troubled and divided world, Amnesty International reveals truth, bears witness and campaigns for change.

For every human rights abuse Amnesty International exposes, it demands accountability. In 2009 this led our members and supporters to push for robust international and national laws and to insist that these laws must be used to bring about real justice.

The Amnesty International Report 2010 documents the state of human rights in 159 countries in 2009. It details a year in which accountability seemed a remote ideal for many, as people’s lives continued to be torn apart by repression, violence, discrimination, power plays and political stalemates.

mother who gave birth at the CMA medical centre, Burkina Faso.

Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International's Secretary General (interim), talks with a mother who gave birth at the CMA medical centre of Secteur 30, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

But the report also celebrates real progress. It reveals how it is harder now for perpetrators of the worst crimes to secure impunity. It argues that the demand for accountability is not confined to redress for killings or torture, but extends to the denial of all the rights that we need to live our lives in dignity.

This report also records the courage, imagination and determination of the worldwide human rights movement.

To find out more about the state of the world’s human rights, please visit thereport.amnesty.org or buy a copy online at shop.amnesty.org

Claudio Cordone
Secretary General (interim)
Amnesty International

Sri Lanka : SECRETARY CLINTON and Minister of External Affairs G.L. Peiris

From: "U.S. Department of State" Date: Fri, 28 May 2010 13:20:14 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Secretary's Remarks: Remarks With Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs G.L. Peiris After their Meeting

Secretary's Remarks: Remarks With Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs G.L. Peiris After their Meeting
Fri, 28 May 2010 12:49:46 -0500

Remarks With Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs G.L. Peiris After their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 28, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am delighted to welcome Dr. Peiris here to the State Department. I first met him 15 years ago when I was in Colombo, Sri Lanka. And it is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to discuss Sri Lanka’s efforts to rebuild after more than two decades of violence and terrorist activity that have deprived the Sri Lankan people of the progress they deserve. Dr. Peiris is a capable, experienced public servant whose leadership is helping to move Sri Lanka toward renewal and reconciliation and, we hope, to greater peace, prosperity, and security for the future.
The United States has long been a friend of Sri Lanka. Our countries share a history of democratic institutions, and we have an active USAID program that has invested more than $1.9 billion in Sri Lanka since 1956 and is currently helping to create new opportunities for people who were displaced by the conflict.
Since the LTTE terrorist group was defeated one year ago, USAID has rebuilt or repaired seven schools and a hospital damaged by the conflict, launched public-private partnerships in northern and eastern Sri Lanka to create the equivalent of 5,000 full-time jobs in former conflict zones, supported work training for young people to spur economic development, and provided extensive aid and assistance to internally displaced people seeking to return home. The United States will continue to provide Sri Lanka with humanitarian and de-mining assistance to help heal the wounds of war and bring lasting peace and prosperity to the country.
As part of this effort, the minister and I discussed Sri Lanka’s Reconciliation Commission. The United States strongly supports political and ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Such commissions of inquiry have played an important role in advancing accountability and redressing wrongs in other countries emerging from periods of internal strife. Sri Lanka’s commission should apply the best practices from these other commissions and should have the mandate to investigate any allegations of war crimes.
We also discussed the issue of internally displaced persons with the minister. There has been tremendous progress and many thousands and thousands of such internally displaced persons have returned home. And we discussed the need to continue the safe, dignified and voluntary return to homes. Sri Lanka has made progress, and we will continue to support efforts to safeguard the rights of IDPs and complete their relocation.
After decades of LTTE rule in the north, the Sri Lankan Government is committed to re-establishing democracy. I was very pleased by the briefing I received from the minister about the many steps that are being taken to return to democratic order. Sri Lanka will remain a strong, united country by drawing on the strength of all of its citizens, valuing the diversity of its people, and ensuring equal rights for everyone.
So once again, I want to thank Minister Peiris for our productive discussion today and commend him for his commitment to the reconciliation process. The United States pledges our continued support to Sri Lanka, and wishes the Sri Lankan people and the government success in this very challenging but important work ahead.
Mr. Minister.
MINISTER PEIRIS: Let me begin by thanking Secretary Clinton very sincerely for her initiative in inviting me here to the State Department at this very critical juncture in our country’s contemporary history.
It’s a time of great promise and hope for Sri Lanka. New vistas of opportunity are opening up in every sector of life in my country. Today, we have two singular advantages. One is an honorable and enduring peace consequent upon the eradication of terrorism. The second strength we have is an unprecedented degree of political stability which the country has not achieved during the last 25 years. As Secretary Clinton pointed out, we are proud of the tremendous progress that we have made during the short space of one year.
With regard to the resettlement of internally displaced people, an excruciatingly difficult problem, we were not really well equipped to handle it at the time we were called upon to do so unexpectedly. We have been able to resettle people in their natural habitat. But we have not been content with that. It is not a question of just resettling people physically, but we want to ensure a restoration of livelihoods so that they’re able to live their lives with dignity without bitterness or rancor. That’s very essential.
The other challenge, of course, was the reactivation of the electoral process which had been dormant for a long period because of the turbulence in that part of the country. And there is a need today for political space to be provided for the emergence of a legitimate democratic Tamil leadership, particularly at the local government level, because the LTTE had destroyed the leaders of the Tamil community just as much as they had annihilated the leaders of other communities.
And one of our principal challenges in Sri Lanka is to revive, to strengthen, institutions of democracy. And now that the country is returning to normal, I expressed President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s angst to Hillary Clinton for the steps that have been taken by the State Department to remove the Travel Warning on Sri Lanka that is a recognition of the improvement, the basic (inaudible) improvement of the security situation.
The government went to parliament just three weeks ago to remove more than 70 percent of the emergency regulations under which the country had been governed for as long a period as almost five years, and this demonstrates the political resolve of the government to expunge these regulations as soon as possible, not to apply them for one moment longer than they are necessary. We believe, Madam, that there is a strong correlation between economic contentment and political motivation. As we move forward towards a political motivation as we move forward towards a political resolution of the country, we want to ensure that the people of those areas live with a sense of dignity and well being. So these are some of the challenges that we are facing in our country at present, and this is the trajectory that we envision for the future.
We have, in Sri Lanka, a very committed, courageous political leadership that is capable of grappling with these problems. And we look forward to a multidimensional relationship with the United States on the lines of what is envisioned in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee report of Senator John Kerry and Senator Lugar, who have called for a broadening and a deepening of the relationship between our two counties at this time. I think there’s a role for American companies to come in and to participate vigorously in the rebuilding of infrastructure, in the resuscitation of democratic institutions. All of this is possible and we look forward, Madam, to a rich and deep relationship with the United States in the new and exciting situation, which has arisen in my country.
Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister.
MR. CROWLEY: We have time for questions (inaudible).
QUESTION: My question is for both of you and it concerns the reconciliation commission that Sri Lanka is setting up. Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, today basically said that the parameters of this commission are much too narrow and that there really should be an independent international investigation of the alleged war crimes that occurred at the – in the last month of the war. And I just wonder what your reflections are on that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the United States supports the creation of the reconciliation commission. It’s a commission on lessons learned and reconciliation. The end of the conflict in Sri Lanka is, as the minister said, a promising opportunity to move forward on ensuring greater respect for the human rights of all Sri Lankans.
Experience in other countries has shown that such a commission that has the credibility and legitimacy within the country has a valuable role in advancing accountability. And we are very supportive of the approach taken by the Sri Lankans. We, of course, will continue to work with them and to observe this commission. We expect that it will be given a broad enough mandate with the resources necessary to be able to follow the trail of any evidence that is presented.
It is especially important that commission members be and are perceived as being independent, impartial, and competent. And the minister has told me in our meeting that that’s exactly the kind of people that are being appointed to this commission. We expect that the mandate will enable them to fully investigate serious allegations of violations and to make public recommendations that commission members and potential witnesses must enjoy adequate and effective protection, and the commission must be able to work with the governments so that the government will give due consideration to the recommendations. And we expect that this commission will reflect the desires and needs of the citizens of Sri Lanka who were, after all, the primary victims of this long and terrible conflict.
I think that the steps that have been taken by the Sri Lankan Government are commendable, and we are supporting that effort. The minister and I talked about the continuing role of the United Nations, which intends to have an independent oversight role. But I think that this commission holds promise and we hope and expect that it will fulfill that promise.
MINISTER PEIRIS: Well, I think the point of the (inaudible) is the observation by Secretary Clinton that the paramount consideration is the needs and the priorities of the people of Sri Lanka. Commissions of this nature have made a useful contribution to healing processes in other parts of the world, in post-conflict scenarios. But the focus has to be on the local culture, on the local situation.
So it is our firm conviction that the commission which has been set up in Sri Lanka consisting of the people of stature and independence with a mandate that is broad enough to address the critical issues – the mandate specifically empowers the commission to give their minds to these issues. Adequate financial resources have been placed at the disposal of the commission, and the commission enjoys a broad measure of public support within Sri Lanka, which is a decisive consideration.
So our plea is that we be given the space to allow the commission to begin its work without impediment or without hindrance. And certainly, along the road, if we feel that there is a need for support, then we would certainly be happy to engage in a dialogue with the United Nations to get the benefit of the wisdom and the experience of the United Nations.
But we think that at the start, the commission must be given every encouragement to set about its work, and there must be a presumption that it is going to succeed. We must begin on that note. It’s going to succeed. We want it to succeed. And we want all our friends abroad to support us vigorously and unreservedly in that endeavor.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you sending that (inaudible) to Sri Lanka for humanitarian aid?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are continuing to provide to humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka. We are doing so as a part of our very long partnership with Sri Lanka. And we support the Sri Lankan Government’s efforts to expedite the delivery of such humanitarian assistance. As I said, the number of internally displaced persons has dropped dramatically. We are still providing humanitarian assistance to those who remain in the camps, but we’re moving far beyond that to repair schools, to help with infrastructure, to create jobs.
So the emergency humanitarian aid has moved to be broader than just the immediate necessities because, as the minister has said, we agree with the Government of Sri Lanka that it is not enough merely to return people to their homes. We have to help them recreate livelihoods, we have to rebuild and repair schools, we have to provide the necessities of life to the people who are returning after this conflict finally ended, and help the Sri Lankan Government and the people of Sri Lanka build a firm foundation for peace, security, and prosperity.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you all.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Delay in investigation independently may result wipeout of proof of war crime

Clinton presses Sri Lanka on rights panel
Fri May 28, 2010
(Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Sri Lanka Friday to ensure a new panel investigating possible rights abuses be given powers to probe any allegations of war crimes during its long civil conflict.

Civil rights groups have said the Sri Lankan government should be investigated for potential war crimes at the end of the war a year ago against separatist Tamil guerrillas. Colombo has denied the allegations and rejected charges that tens of thousands of civilians died.

Sri Lanka has a long history of inquiries into rights abuses that have largely failed to hold anyone accountable, and analysts say the new committee appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa does not have the statutory powers of a commission of inquiry and is acting only as an advisory body.
Sri Lanka is under heavy Western pressure over its human rights record, pressure the government blames on members of the Tamil diaspora who have settled in European countries or the United States and are angry the LTTE were beaten.

Peiris said the commission had been given adequate finances to begin its work and repeated that it was too early for the United Nations to set up its own panel as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has vowed to do.

"If we feel there is a need for support, then we will certainly be happy engage in a dialogue with the United Nations," Peiris said.

Sri Lankan government has formed nine ad hoc commissions of inquiry to investigate enforced disappearances and a number of other human rights-related inquiries. These commissions of inquiry have lacked credibility and have delayed criminal investigations.

Anybody who watched the SL President’s interview on Al Jazeera, could see the cavalier attitude about humane issues by the President and his intention to continue with the authoritarian, dynastic rule.

He has quickly become one of the worst human abusers in the history of mankind.
Tamil citizens are not protected by their government and continue to suffer under worst enforced atrocities, under constant authoritarian rule, lawlessness, and under constant oppression. U.N must step in as it has the obligation to protect these people by invoking the R2P (Responsibility to Protect the Global Citizens, this is a Canadian doctrine adopted by UN in 2005) U.N adopted Humanitarian Intervention to save these global citizens (in this case Tamils) who are facing extermination by their governments. Even after the War ended a year ago, still enforced abductions, disappearances, and random killing against Tamils are widely taking place in north and east and other parts of Sri Lanka.

U.S. supports Sri Lankan truth panel
B. Muralidhar Reddy

The United States has expressed the hope that the Reconciliation Commission established by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to study events from 2002 till the military defeat of the LTTE would be given broad enough mandate to follow the trail of any evidence.

At a meeting with the island nation's Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris on Friday in Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country supported the creation of the Commission and added that experience in other countries had shown that such commissions had credibility and legitimacy within the country and had a valuable role in advancing accountability.

She was responding to a question at a news conference along with Mr. Peiris on concerns expressed by groups like the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the mandate of the Commission was narrow and might not cover the alleged violation of human rights in the last phase of Eelam War IV.

Ms. Clinton acknowledged that there has been tremendous progress in re-settlement of the nearly three lakh Tamil civilians and that many thousands of such internally displaced persons have returned home.

A statement by the Sri Lankan mission in Washington released here said that during the meeting, Mr. Peiris told Ms. Clinton that Sri Lanka hoped to resettle the remaining 45,000 displaced people within the next three months.

“It is not a question of just resettling people physically,” he said. “We want to ensure a restoration of livelihoods so that they're able to live their lives with dignity without bitterness or rancour. That's very essential.”

Mr. Peiris is on a five-day tour of the U.S. and in the course of his visit to New York three days ago had met U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and argued against a proposal by the U.N. chief to constitute a committee of experts to advice him on matters
related to Sri Lanka.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Voice for Raúl’s release!

“Mexican authorities, especially in the state of Guerrero, are misusing the justice system to silence criticism and stop local activism. Raúl has been in prison for the past two years for a crime he did not commit; he should be released.”

Activists in Guayaquil

Amnesty International believes that the charges brought against Raúl Hernández are in retaliation for his legitimate activities defending the rights of his community and for exposing abuses committed by a local political chief (cacique) and by local authorities.

On 17 April, activists around the world came together for a day of action to call for Raúl’s release. It was fantastic, so a massive thank you to everyone that participated!

International members from Bolivia and Ecuador joined activists from around the world to show solidarity for Raúl Hernández. More than 1000 photos of activists from all over the world were collected and projected onto the Guerrero representation office in Mexico city on 17 April.

The photos were sent to Raúl, his family and the Organization of the Indigenous Me’phaa People. Organización del Pueblo Indígena Me'phaa – OPIM (Indigenous Me'phaa People's Organisation) The world is standing in solidarity and we will not rest until Raúl is released from prison.

Voice ambassadors wrote blogposts spreading the word about Raúl’s case and calling on people to take action. You can read them here;

If you haven’t taken action yet, there’s still time!
  1. Take a photo of yourself or with friends holding a sign with the message “Raise your voice for his release!
  2. Sign the petition here;
  3. Read the blogposts above, leave your comments or write your own blogpost and send us a link.
  4. Watch an interview with Raúl here or read more about Mexican Human Rights Defenders here

More Info: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/1865


Thursday, May 20, 2010

India: Authorities must halt unnecessary and excessive use of police force and civil militia attack on adivasi and peasant protestors in Orissa

17 May 2010

India: Authorities must halt unnecessary and excessive use of police force and civil militia attack on adivasi and peasant protestors in Orissa

Amnesty International urges authorities in Orissa to immediately halt unnecessary and excessive use of force by police and private civil militias on adivasi (indigenous communities) and peasants protesting against the acquisition of their lands and habitats for steel projects respectively in Kalinganagar and Jagatsingpur.

Laxman Jamuda, a 50-year-old adivasi leader was killed and ten protestors including a few women were injured in police firing and nine others sustained injuries during clashes in Kalinganagar, on 12 May. Eyewitnesses informed Amnesty International that the action involved more than 1,000 police officials against about 300 adivasiprotestors, some of whom armed with traditional weapons.

Eyewitnesses said a 200-strong civil militia supporting the takeover of the lands for the proposed Tata Steel plant forced its way into Chandia village where the protestors had gathered; the police went along with the civil militia allegedly backed by the ruling Biju Janata Dal in Orissa demolished some of the adivasihouses. During the resultant clash, the police fired on the protestors, killing Laxman Jamuda and several others sustained injuries.

Relatives of Laxman Jamuda have alleged that the Police have secretly cremated his body. A nephew of the deceased, taken by the police for the cremation, said that he was not shown the body.

At Balithutha in nearby Jagatsinghpur district, at least 20 persons sustained injuries on 16 May, three of them seriously, as police used teargas and batons to disperse about 1,000 peasant protestors including women against the takeover of their farmland and village common land for the construction of a steel plant by the South Korean Pohong Steel Company (POSCO).

Eyewitnesses in both places said several areas remained cordoned off during the police action, restricting the arrival of medical assistance for the injured. For the last five years, these protestors had disallowed the entry of officials into the area; the latest round of protests at Balithutha were going on for the last five months,

Amnesty International reminds the authorities that India is obliged, under international human rights law, to protect the right to life. International law places severe restrictions on the use of force by law enforcement officers. At the heart of these restrictions lies the state’s duty to respect the right to life and freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Both these rights are provided in international human rights law and standards, including in treaties binding on India, and in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Under international law and standards, police may use force only when strictly necessary and only to the extent required for the performance of their duty and must, as far as possible, apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force. If force cannot be avoided, police officials must exercise restraint in such use and, act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved.

In this context, Amnesty International urges the Government of Orissa to:

order its police to cease all unnecessary or excessive use of force against the protestors; force should only be used in accordance with international human rights law and standards;

ensure that private civil militia do not use force against protestors or break the law in any other way, and treat them like any other offenders if they do;

- provide immediate medical assistance to people who have suffered injuries in the violence as it appears that both these areas are currently cordoned off.

- order an impartial and independent inquiry into all reports of unnecessary or excessive use of police force and the violence in both places, promptly make the findings public;

- ensure that state officials, police personnel, and others who are suspected of being responsible for human rights violations are prosecuted, in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness;

- ensure that, while law and order should be maintained, those who are engaged in peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of assembly and speech are able to do so without fear of violence or harassment.


For the last two months, Kalinganagar has been witnessing recurrent clashes between the state police and about 250 well-armed private civil militia supporting land acquisition on the one hand and the adivasis protesting against government acquisition of their lands and habitats for setting up a six million tonne capacity Tata Steel plant and a common road corridor.On 28 March, 30 adivasi protestors sustained bullet injuries as police and the civil militiamen fired upon a 250 strong group of protestors who pelted stones at them in a bid to prevent them from taking over the land meant for the common road corridor. See Amnesty International, India: Authorities must halt unnecessary and excessive use of police force and civil militia attack on adivasi protestors in Orissa, AI Index: ASA 20/008/2010, 1 April 2010

This violence has occurred, even as relatives of the 13 victims of the police firing against adivasiprotestors on 2 January 2006 are still awaiting justice. A judicial inquiry ordered by the Orissa government into the deaths in the 2006 police firing remains inconclusive.


Zimbabwe: 700,000 forcibly evicted still ignored five years on

Zimbabwe: 700,000 forcibly evicted still ignored five years on

18 May 2010

AI Index: PRE01/158/2010

The government of Zimbabwe must take action to protect hundreds of thousands of people left to survive in substandard settlements five years after a program of mass forced evictions, Amnesty International Zimbabwe and a coalition of partners said today.

Amnesty International and the Coalition Against Forced Evictions are calling on the government to provide adequate alternative accommodation or compensation to those left homeless and jobless.

“It is a scandal that five years on, victims are left to survive in plastic shacks without basic essential services. The needs of these victims are at risk of being forgotten because their voices are consistently ignored,” said Amnesty International Zimbabwe’s director Cousin Zilala.

On 18 May 2005 the government of Zimbabwe began demolishing informal settlements across the country. The program, known as Operation Murambatsvina, affected more than 700,000 people – leaving them without a home or livelihood or both. Most were driven deeper into poverty by the forced evictions, a situation which has been further compounded by Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.

Following widespread local and international condemnation of Operation Murambatsvina, the government embarked on a re-housing programme, known as Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle later in 2005, which aimed to provide shelter for the victims and improve their living conditions. However, it was a dismal failure and now appears to have been abandoned.

“The few houses that were built under the Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle scheme are completely un-inhabitable,” said Cousin Zilala. “They have no floors, windows, water or toilets. Communities living in designated resettlement areas are dependent on humanitarian assistance and self help initiatives for their survival.”

Those affected by Operation Murambatsvina rapidly became invisible; forced to relocate to rural areas, absorbed into existing overcrowded urban housing or pushed into government designated settlements. Those still in cities remain at risk of further forced evictions with no security of tenure. In 2009, Harare council attempted to remove some of the victims of the 2005 forced evictions but was forced to reverse the decision amid protest from housing and human rights organisations.

Since its creation in February 2009, the unity government has done nothing to improve the plight of survivors of the forced evictions and their children who have been born in informal settlements.

Felistas Chinyuku is also the former chairperson of the Porta Farm Residents Association. Porta Farm, a settlement of about 10,000 people, was destroyed by the government in 2005, despite the community obtaining several court orders barring the authorities from carrying out evictions.

“Five years have passed and many of us are still living in tents,” said Chinyuku a resident at Hopley Farm, on the outskirts of Harare, where the majority of residents survive in make-shift housing.
“There are no schools, no health services and very little sanitation. This is no way for humans to live.”

Residents of Hatcliffe Extension settlement in Harare faced similar injustice in 2005 when the authorities wilfully disregarded lease agreements and destroyed their homes. They have not been compensated for their wrongful eviction and continue to face battles with the authorities; residents are currently being asked to pay prohibitive fees in order to renew their leases.

"Operation Murambatsvina achieved the opposite of the publicly stated objective - restoring order. In Harare, it resulted in overcrowding in poor neighbourhoods with as many as three families sharing a four-roomed house," said Lorraine Mupasiri of Combined Harare Residents Association, one of the coalition partners. "We are particularly concerned about the rising housing backlog in Harare. More than half a million people are on the waiting list.

The forced evictions drove people not only from their homes, but also from their market stalls, depriving informal traders of their means of earning a living.

Women have been especially affected since they form the majority of informal market traders and in many cases are the primary providers, not only for their own children but also for other children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic.

When informal traders have tried to resuscitate their trade they have been persistently obstructed by the authorities.

“The deplorable living conditions and struggle for survival which victims of Operation Murambatsvina continue to face, reveals the government’s failure to address ongoing injustices against some of the most vulnerable members of Zimbabwean society,” said Cousin Zilala.

Notes to editors:

• This press release is issued by Amnesty International Zimbabwe, Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), Operation Murumbatsvina Survivor Representatives from Hopley Farm, Hatcliffe Extension and Gunhill informal settlement, Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association (ZCIEA) and Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers Association (ZLHR)
• On May 17 coalition representatives will meet/met with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to hand over a petition by Operation Murambatsvina victims and their supporters.
• Amnesty International has also released photographs of life at Hatcliffe Extension and Hopley Farm, two settlements on the outskirts of Harare that were set up by government for some of the victims under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle. The photos are embargoed until 00.01GMT 18 May and can be downloaded from here: https://adam.amnesty.org/assetbank/action/search?attribute_603=%22Operat...

• For the 2005 report Zimbabwe: Quantifying destruction - satellite images of forced evictions, featuring satellite images of forced evictions go to:


French politicians urged to reject ban on full face veils

French politicians urged to reject ban on full face veils

19 May 2010

AI Index: PRE01/163/2010

Amnesty International is calling on French law-makers to reject a draft law banning the wearing of full face veils in public that was adopted by the government and put before Parliament today.

The proposal, which is being put forward by the French government after a prolonged public debate on the wearing of Islamic face veils, would prohibit the wearing anywhere in public of any form of clothing intended to conceal one’s face.

"A complete ban on the covering of the face would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burqa or the niqab in public as an expression of their identity or beliefs," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's expert on discrimination in Europe.

Breach of the law would be punishable by a fine of up to 150 Euros and / or the requirement to complete a community rehabilitation programme.

The move comes only a few weeks after the lower chamber of the Belgian parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a similar ban.

The Council of State (Conseil d’Etat), France’s top legal advisory body, has already expressed serious reservations about the compatibility of such a general ban with the French constitution and the country’s obligations under international human rights law.

“To ignore the advice of the Council of State on this issue would be to betray an indifference to human rights law in general and the rights of Muslim women who choose to wear full face veils in particular,” said John Dalhuisen.

The French government has argued that the ban is necessary for public safety and to protect women from being pressurised into wearing full face veils.

“Legitimate security concerns can be met by targeted restrictions on the complete covering of the face in well-defined high risk locations. Individuals may also be required to reveal their faces when objectively necessary, for instance for identity checks. French law already allows for such limited restrictions,” said John Dalhuisen.

States do have an obligation to protect women against pressure or coercion in their homes or communities to wear full face veils.

They should do this by taking steps to combat gender stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes and, where appropriate, by intervening in individual cases through criminal or family law. A generally applicable ban would restrict the rights of those who freely choose to wear full face veils, while punishing those who do so against their will.

“For those women who are being coerced into wearing full face veils, the ban means they will either face state punishment if they go out in public – or more likely – they will be confined to their homes. This is counter-productive.” said John Dalhuisen.

“Some people may well find the wearing of full face veils objectionable, or contrary to established social customs. However, human rights law is quite clear on this – the disquiet of one person cannot be used to justify a restriction on the freedom of expression of another,” said John Dalhuisen.

“Much of the public debate in France on the wearing of full face veils has focused on the need to defend French Republican values. Amnesty International does not believe that such important values as liberty, equality and fraternity can be advanced by such a discriminatory restriction,” said John Dalhuisen.


Under international human rights law, restrictions on freedom of expression and the manifestation of religion or belief are permissible only when they are demonstrably necessary and proportionate for the achievement of certain specific purposes permitted by international law.

The only legitimate purposes for such restrictions are to protect certain public interests (national security or public safety, or public order, health or morals) or the rights of others.

Amnesty International does not believe that a complete ban on the wearing of full face veils in public is necessary to achieve any of these goals.

Amnesty International France addressed a letter to the French Prime Minister on 20 April this year setting out the organization’s position on a generally applicable ban on the wearing of full face veils. Amnesty International France also contributed to the deliberations of the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights and shares the position expressed in its opinion published on 21 January 2010, which opposes a general prohibition on the wearing of full face veils.


A survivor of the Sri Lankan war shares her story

2nd email - Sri Lanka (en)
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A survivor of the Sri Lankan war shares her story

Vasuki is a Tamil refugee now living outside Sri Lanka.* In 2009, she spent several months in the country’s ‘No Fire Zone’, moving constantly and struggling to save her 2 small children. She describes what she saw during the horrific war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan security forces. Her only hope during that time was that the UN would come to their rescue. It didn’t happen.

Vasuki shares her experiences trapped between the warring sides.

“We lived in a tent over a bunker. For weeks my kids did not talk. They had to witness people dying from shell attacks and the memory of dead bodies lying all around will probably never vanish.”

Last few months of the war. Civilians in between Kilinochi and  Mullaitivu, May 2009

By March 2009, the situation had become dire. Her family and thousands around her had eaten all they had, even their cattle.

“I had to fast so that I could feed my children and just drank the water I cooked the rice in. Elderly people collapsed around us or slipped into comas. What kept us going was a belief that the UN would intervene to stop the terrible human suffering.

Shelling got steadily worse. I can't describe the horror around us - we had to fight our way across a carpet of dead bodies.

I find it hard to talk about this time.... people were also not happy with the LTTE as they forcibly recruited from families. What I know is that people want to live in peace but we cannot forget all those we left behind. You can’t give us back what we lost but you can give us justice”.

(* Vasuki's name has been changed to protect her identity.)

Demand justice for victims like Vasuki by calling on the UN to investigate rights violations in Sri Lanka.

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আমার সন্তানেরা কয়েক সপ্তাহ ধরে কথা বলেনি
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শ্রীলংকার যুদ্ধে বেঁচে যাওয়া এক মায়ের কাহিনী

ভাসুকি* একজন তামিল শরনার্থী। এই মুহুর্তে শ্রীলংকার বাইরে বাস করছেন। ২০০৯ সালে তিনি কয়েকমাস দেশের অভ্যন্তরে ‘যুদ্ধমুক্ত এলাকা” (নো ফায়ার জোন)-য় বাস করেন, সেইসময় তাকে একজায়গা থেকে অন্য জায়গায় ছুটে বেড়াতে হয়েছে এবং ছোট ছোট দুই সন্তানকে বাঁচাতে সংগ্রাম করতে হয়েছে। তিনি তার দেখা লিবারেশন টাইগার্স অফ তামিল ইলম (এলটিটিই) এবং শ্রীলংকার নিরাপত্তা বাহিনীর মধ্যে ভয়াবহ যুদ্ধের সেই ভয়ংকর দিনগুলোর কথা বর্ণনা করছেন। তখন তার একমাত্র আশা ছিলো যে, জাতিসংঘ হয়তো তাদেরকে উদ্ধার করতে আসবে। কিন্তু সেটি ঘটেনি।

ভাসুকি যুদ্ধরত দুই পক্ষের মধ্যে আটকে পড়ার অভিজ্ঞতার কথা শোনালেন।

“আমরা বাঙ্কারের উপর টাঙ্গানো একটি তাবুতে থাকতাম। সপ্তাহের পর সপ্তাহ ধরে আমার সন্তানেরা কোনো কথা বলেনি। এসময়ে তাদেরকে দেখতে হয়েছে কিভাবে বোমার আঘাতে লোকজন মারা যাচ্ছে এবং চারপাশে ছড়ানো মৃতদেহ দেখারসেই স্মৃতি বোধহয় কখনো মুছে যাবার নয়।”

২০০৯ সালের মার্চ মাসে অবস্থা ভয়াবহ আকার ধারণ করে। তার পরিবার এবং তার চারপাশের আরো কয়েক হাজার পরিবার নিজেদের সবকিছু খেয়ে নিঃশেষ করে ফেলে এমনকি গৃহপালিত গবাদিপশুগুলোও তারা খেয়ে শেষ করে ফেললো।

Last few months of the war. Civilians in between Kilinochi and  Mullaitivu, May 2009“সন্তানদের খাওয়ানোর জন্য আমি নিজে তখন না খেয়ে থাকতাম। আমি সেসময়ে শুধুমাত্র ভাতের মাড় খেতাম। আমাদের চারপাশের বুড়োবুড়িরা তখন হয় মারা গিয়েছে কিংবা অচেতন হয়ে পড়েছিলো। জাতিসংঘ হয়তো মানুষের এই ভয়াবহ দুর্দশা বন্ধে এগিয়ে আসবে এই আশায় বুকে বেধে আমরা দিন গুনছিলাম।”

বোমাবর্ষণের অবস্থা প্রতিনিয়ত ‍আরো খারাপ হতে লাগলো। আমি আপনাদেরকে বলে বোঝাতে পারবো না কি ভয়ংকর ঘটনা আমাদের চারপাশে তখন ঘটছিল - আমাদেরকে কার্পেটের মতো বিছিয়ে থাকা মৃতমানুষের দেহের সারি পার হয়ে পথ চলতে হয়েছে।

এনিয়ে কথা বলতে আমার কষ্ট হচ্ছে ---- মানুষজন এলটিটিই-র ব্যাপারে সন্তুষ্ট ছিলো না কারণ তারা জোর করে পরিবারগুলো থেকে লোকজন ধরে নিয়ে দলের কাজে লাগাতো। আমার জানা মতে সাধারণ মানুষ সবাই শান্তিতে বসবাস করতে চেয়েছে কিন্তু আমরা ফেলে আসা সবকিছু ভুলতে পারবো না। আমরা যা হারিয়েছি তা আপনারা ফেরত দিতে পারবেন না কিন্তু আপনারা আমাদেরকে ন্যায়বিচার দিতে পারেন।”

(*ভাসুকি ছদ্মনাম, পরিচয় গোপন রাখার জন্য তার নাম পরিবর্তন করা হয়েছে)

জাতিসংঘকে শ্রীলংকার মানবাধিকার লঙ্ঘনের তদন্তের আহ্বান জানিয়ে ভাসুকির মতো নির্যাতিতদের জন্য ন্যায়বিচার দাবি করুন

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এই ইমেলটি আপনার আরো দশজন বন্ধুর কাছে পৌছে দিন। মানবাধিকা‍রের প্রতি আপনার অব্যাহত সমর্থন ও অঙ্গীকারের জন্য আপনাকে ধন্যবাদ।

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Survivors of war in Sri Lanka deserve justice

Survivors of War in Sri Lanka Deserve Justice Untitled Document
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Survivors of war in Sri Lanka deserve justice

It has been a year since the Sri Lankan government declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in a conflict where massive violations were committed by both sides.

The scale and nature of atrocities escalated in the last stages of the military assault between January and May 2009. Witnesses say, many thousands of civilians died, caught between the warring parties.

The Sri Lankan government’s armed forces and the LTTE completely disregarded protecting civilians through their appalling military actions. This is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law that prohibits indiscriminate or targeted attacks on civilians and hostage taking.

Father     and Son, No Fire Zone, May 2009

UN silence unacceptable

But where is the outrage? Why is the UN Security Council (UNSC) silent?

Countries like Russia and China have argued that there was no threat to international peace and security since the conflict was contained within Sri Lanka’s borders. But such gross violations of international humanitarian law impact us all if countries are allowed to get away with it. Today, it is Sri Lanka. Tomorrow, it could be another country and then another.

UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon, tried to discuss the situation with the Sri Lankan President directly. But his actions to ensure accountability in Sri Lanka as elsewhere remain weak and fall short of pushing for an international inquiry that is so clearly needed.

The survivors of the conflict have no closure.

In Sri Lanka, they have been offered no recourse to justice, truth and reparations.

It is only international pressure in the form of a UN mandated independent investigation that will ensure that states like Sri Lanka are not allowed to hide from the crimes they commit inside their borders.

On May 18, Amnesty International will launch the 'Make International Justice Real' campaign for survivors of the conflict.

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