62 Human Rights Organizations Urge the UN to Investigate Saudi Arabia’s Abuses in Yemen

Last week, 62 human rights organizations from around the world called on the UN Human Rights Council to investigate Saudi Arabia’s abuses in Yemen.

“The victims of abuses in Yemen cannot afford to wait longer for credible investigations into ongoing grave violations and abuses to be undertaken”, the letter said. “We, therefore, call on the Human Rights Council to establish, during its 36th session, an independent international inquiry to investigate alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen. The inquiry should be given the mandate to establish the facts and circumstances and to collect and preserve evidence of, and clarify responsibility for, alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law, with a view to ending impunity and providing accountability.”

The call on the UN to investigate Saudi Arabia’s abuses comes weeks before the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterrez, has to make the decision whether or not to add the Saudi Kingdom to the UN’s Child Rights Blacklist. Last year, Ban Ki-moon removed Saudi Arabia from the aforementioned UN blacklist at the last minute, after Saudi Arabia threatened him with halting its communications and de-funding the UN.

Save the Children has been running a campaign demanding the UN stand up to the autocratic Middle East regime and shame it for its alleged war crimes in Yemen.

“Last week we handed in a petition to the secretary-generals office with 37,000 signatures … he needs to make a strong decision. He needs to make sure that the Saudi led coalition are listed,” Mr Kaye explained.

“He should do what Ban Ki-moon failed to do last year”.

Since March 2015, at least 10,000 civilians, including children, have been killed in Yemen, though the U.N. Human Rights Office believes that the overall number is much higher. During this time, the Saudi-led coalition has carried out indiscriminate air-strikes against civilians in cities such as the capital Sana’a, Hajjah, Hodeidah and Sa’da governorates, killing and injuring thousands of civilians. The coalition has unlawfully attacked homes, markets, funerals, hospitals, schools, and mosques.

“None of the forces in Yemen’s conflict seem to fear being held to account for violating the laws of war,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “UN members need to press the parties to end the slaughter and the suffering of civilians.”

Human Rights Watch has documented 58 unlawful Saudi-led coalition air strikes, some may amount to war crimes. The coalition has also used internationally banned cluster munitions. Neither the US nor the UK has suspended arms sales to the Saudi Kingdom despite evidence of their usage to commit war crimes.

Numerous Human right organizations working in Yemen have regularly accused Saudi Arabia of blocking critical relief aid from reaching civilians, including children, deepening Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. The coalition has also imposed a permanent air and naval blockade across the country, limiting the importation of food, drinking water, and medicines, contributing to the near collapse of its health system.

Around 15 million Yemenis do not have access to drinking water and basic healthcare. The country also remains on the brink of famine, with some 385,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF. It said the cholera epidemic has been declining since June by one-third because of help from “unsung local heroes” although 550,000 suspected diarrhea and cholera and more than 2,000 associated deaths recorded since April, UNICEF said.

“What was a steady drumbeat of support for an international inquiry into Yemen abuses has become a crescendo,” John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch, said in a release. “Human Rights Council member countries should live up to their own mandate, heed these calls, and put in place a body to begin chipping away at the impunity that has been a central facet of Yemen’s war.”

Ahead of the increasing pressure of human rights organizations and the public opinion to add Saudi Arabia to UN’s blacklist and investigate its abuses in Yemen, Riyad is stressing that the Kingdom has helped the Yemeni people by providing basic aid valued in more than $8 billion.

Over the next few weeks, all doubts over the UN’s credibility will be removed. It will have to decide whether it is a biased partisan organization or a neutral one which is efficient in solving conflicts. Carrying out an independent investigation into Saudi Arabia’s possible war crimes in Yemen would demonstrate that the UN is still sometimes a useful organization capable of holding war criminals accountable. Lastly, adding Saudi Arabia to the aforementioned blacklist would only be a small emotional victory but none the less important due to the fact that the UN cannot allow itself to give way to the Saudi’s constant blackmail against the organization.

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President Trump and the Freedom of the Press

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics…derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.”– Benjamin Franklin                     

Over the last two years, President Trump has maintained a brutal rhetoric full of hatred against the U.S. media. However, he had never crossed the red line until last Friday, when he decided to call the US media: “the real enemies of the American people.” This was rapidly perceived as an attempt to deepen the existing division and limit the freedom of the press in America. Despite the fact that President Trump had frequently attacked the media for years, it was the first time that he publicly used bellicose rhetoric to do so. The Republican Senator John McCain said in an interview:

“I hate the press. I hate you especially,” McCain told NBC journalist Chuck Todd, who laughed.”The fact is, we need you.” Without a free media, “I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time,”

“I’m very serious now, if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press,” he continued. “Without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”

“When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press,” he said.”And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”John McCain was not the only senator to respond Trump’s statement.

On Saturday, Bernie Sanders said:

“According to Trump, if you want the truth, ignore everything except what he is saying. That’s what totalitarianism is all about.”

Aside from Bernie Sanders and John McCain, many other senators and millions of citizens have expressed their worries about what could be the first step to suppress the freedom of the press and the beginning of a drift towards authoritarianism in the U.S.The protection of the freedom of the press is one of the unique provisions in the Bill of Rights because it protects the freedom of an institution as well as that of individuals.Thomas Jefferson recognised that principle when he wrote to John Jay in 1786. Jefferson said:

“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”

About one year later, Jefferson made his most famous pronouncement on the subject of freedom of the press when he wrote these words to Edward Carrington:

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Over the course of history, many nations and political organisations have utilised Trump’s strategy to criminalise the media in order to deploy a press and propaganda censorship to manipulate the public. It allows authoritarian leaders to falsify information that citizens receive. In the absence of neutral and objective information, people are unable to dissent with the political party in charge. It is also extended to the systematic suppression of views that are contrary to those of the government in power.

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success.”– Adolf Hitler

Freedom of the press is essential to guarantee a healthy democracy, even if we sometimes disagree with some of the media’s news stories. Instead, the crushing of unique ideas is always bad and usually generates a high level of intolerance in a country. Diversity and open-mindedness are effective tools to avoid totalitarianism and develop critical thinking in a society. People should also learn from past mistakes, and remember that it is so easy to create a new authoritarian government, and once it is created, it becomes almost impossible to reverse it again.

For now, no one can argue that President Trump is a dictator because there is still some counterbalance, but no one should deny the fact that he is taking steps in such a direction. Unless someone stops him from limiting the freedom of the press, he may soon use it to deploy an authoritarian system to gain power and increase his manipulative capacity to mislead citizens.

Numerous republican and democratic senators have shown their willingness to take further actions to protect the freedom of the press if needed. However, Trump already counts on the support of his loyal entourage led by Bannon and millions of citizens who blindly believe him. A good example of the blindness of Trump’s supporters happened a few days ago, when during one of his meetings, Trump fabricated a story in order to mislead the public. He suggested that there had been a terrorist attack in Sweden. Despite the fact that it was quickly refuted by the Swedish government, most of Trump’s supporters believed it and still think it was real. 

Over the last few months, Trump’s supporters have been radicalised. If it is not halted, they will soon be willing to defend President Trump (including using armed force) regardless of any circumstance. This could prevent senators to take further action (including impeachment) against the President if he ever decides to limit the freedom of the press, since they would fear harsh reaction and conflict. Due to these circumstances, Americans will now have the responsibility for leading the opposition to Trump’s actions of bigotry.

Obsolete political parties such as the Democratic party will be resigned to a second position without any influential power to change the existing situation. It is important to remember that at the end of the day, and despite performances, the Democratic Party tends to betray their own words, as well as the millions of citizens who thought they could change the system for the better by voting for them. So the question now is: what will happen? Will American citizens allow President Trump to deploy an authoritarian system, which could potentially abolish people’s rights? Will they allow the Democratic Party to be led by Clinton or her entourage to do so instead? Or will they take other sorts of actions this time to really protect their rights and pursue more freedom? Whatever the decision will be, the most important thing is that citizens will have the last word, whether they know it or not. Every day that Trump is in office and allowed to manipulate American citizens, is another day that the authoritarian regime moves closer.



 

 

 


Netanyahu: The Criminal Who Is Still Free

During the last decade, Netanyahu has been responsible for numerous violations of human rights, war crimes, sexual abuses of children and the death of thousands of innocent Palestinians. For years, the international community led, by the U.S. has ignored Netanyahu’s crimes. However, his recidivism of criminal acts against Palestinians on a regular basis has led several countries and international organisations to condemn Israeli’s war crimes and violation of human rights. The increasing indignation among world MP’s with Netanyahu’s government may soon trigger a prosecution against him at the International Court. Here are some of his atrocities:

-WAR CRIMES

In 2014, Prime Minister Netanyahu launched the Operation Protective Edge based on a 50 days war in Gaza. During the operation, Israel indiscriminately killed over 1500 innocent people, including children. More than 20,000 homes were reduced to rubble or rendered uninhabitable. However, the most shocking event was the assassination of four children of the same family who were playing football on the beach. The Israeli government alleged that they thought they were terrorists.

It’s a shame they didn’t identify them as just kids with all the advanced technology they had been using,” “I don’t know what justification they will use for what they did, but our boys are now gone,” the uncle said.

During 50 days of attacks, Israeli forces wreaked massive death and destruction on the Gaza Strip, killing close to 2100 civilians, more than 500 of whom were children,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

NUMBERS:

Palestinians killed: 2,139
Palestinian children killed: 525
Israeli soldiers killed: 64
Israeli civilians killed: 6
Israeli children killed: 1
Palestinians wounded: 11,000
Palestinian children wounded: 3,000
Gaza residents displaced: Up to 500,000
Homes destroyed in Gaza: 20,000


-Israel’s Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law.

For years, Israel has been occupying Palestinian territories pursuing its expansion and Palestinian ethnic cleansing. Since Trump became the U.S. president, the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has accelerated the expansion of the existing Israeli settlements by authorising the construction of 5.500 new houses in the West Bank. For that to happen, often the Israeli military forces evict Palestinian families from their houses.

In 2016, the UN adopted a resolution reiterating its demand that Israel immediately ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. The resolution was approved with 24 votes in favour and the U.S abstention.

-The Siege of Gaza

Since 2007, around 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza strip have been living under a land, sea and air closure blockade imposed by Israel. The impossibility of obtaining external medicines, food, drinkable water and other goods has triggered a humanitarian crisis without precedent. Thousands of Palestinians with serious illnesses are condemned to die due to the impossibility of going abroad to receive their pertinent treatments. As some officials recognised, “the purpose of implementing this blockade is to put Palestinians on a diet”

-Sexual violence against, and torture of, children:

During 2016, the number of cases of Israeli torture of children significantly increased. Often permanent physical disabilities were caused, including amputations. There were over 1300 children arrested and there are still 300 of them in Israeli jails. Around 40% of them were or will be sexually abused by police officers or military men. This degrading Israeli treatment of children violates international human rights law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Israeli security forces have used unnecessary force to arrest or detain Palestinian children as young as 11. Security forces have choked children, thrown stun grenades at them, beaten them in custody, threatened and interrogated them without the presence of parents or lawyers, and failed to let their parents know their whereabouts.”

“Israeli forces’ mistreatment of Palestinian children is at odds with its claim to respect children’s rights. As Israel’s largest military ally, the US, should press hard for an end to these abusive practices and for reforms,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director.

-The defence for Children International concluded:

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that annually systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts that lack fundamental rights to a fair trial.”


-Recruitment of Palestinian children as human shields by Israeli armed forces.

Since 2004, DCIP has documented numerous cases where Israeli forces attempted to recruit Palestinian Children as informants. They are recruited to monitor the activities of people living in their community and pass this information onto Israeli Forces.

The International humanitarian law explicitly prohibits parties to a conflict from directing “the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objects from attacks or to shield military operations.”

During Operation Protective Edge in July and August 2014, DCIP reported one incident where Israeli soldiers forced a 16 year-old-Palestinian to search for tunnels for five days. During that time, he was physically assaulted and deprived of food and sleep.

All these crimes and violations of international law represent a small sample of Netanyahu’s atrocities. Unless the international community proceeds to prosecute him at the International Court, Netanyahu will continue threatening thousands of families, women and children on a regular basis.

The international community will not be able to avoid taking action if Israel continues its persecution against Palestinians. Otherwise, it could create a bad precedent, which could be applied for populist emergent leaders to legitimize their illegitimate actions. For that reason, the international community will sooner or later take action to prosecute Netanyahu. But the issue is when? Palestinians do not have much more time to wait for. They struggle between life and death on a daily basis. They do not know if the next day Netanyahu will order an attack and they will die. People from the world are entitled to take action and push their MP’s to halt these sorts of atrocities as soon as possible.

Every second, day, week, month counts… Palestinian lives depend on you and the international community actions. People’s lives depend upon it.

By Josep

President Trump: Persecution of Refugees, Muslims, and Reactions.

Since President Trump and his entourage of advisors started their personal crusade against Muslims from SYRIA, IRAQ, IRAN, LIBYA, SOMALIA, SUDAN and YEMEN, there have been hundreds of peaceful refugees detained at airports from all across the U.S. (including green card holders)

Trump’s executive order suspending the entry of refugees into the U.S. constitutes a violation of international law and numerous human rights. According to the Geneva agreement:

“The core principle is non refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.”

As if that were not enough, Trump said in an interview:

“it has been “impossible, or at least very tough” for Syrian Christians to enter the United States.If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair — everybody was persecuted, in all fairness — but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.”

Such a statement implies a violation of the first amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. However, President Trump said:

“This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

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Since Trump signed the executive order, numerous elected republicans and democrats have also criticized Trump’s decision to persecute the Islamic community. So far, the elected republicans who have criticized the executive order are:

-Charlie Dent

-Jeff Flake

-Justin Amash

-Ben Sasse

-Susan Collins

-Barbara Comstock

-Rob Portman

-Orrin Hatch

-Dean Heller

-Brian Fitzpatrick

-Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

-Elise Stefanik

-Cory Gardner

-Will Hurd

-Leonard Lance

-Steve Stivers

-McCain

-Graham’s

McCain and Graham’s both released the following statement:

Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.

It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.

Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.

Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improving our security.”

In response Trump tweeted:

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The Democratic party has announced numerous protests and legal challenges over Trump’s executive order:

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Democrats will introduce legislation to stop President Trump’s actions of temporarily banning refugees and arrivals from certain Muslim countries.

“This executive order was mean-spirited and un-American,”

“It must be reversed immediately,” said Schumer.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats are exploring legal options.

Hillary Clinton, who is the main person responsible for the rise of Trump has also criticized Trump’s action. However, her resignation as presidential candidate during the last campaign would have facilitated another government.

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The international community has also criticised Trump’s executive order to persecute Muslims. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said:

It’s not the time to build walls between nations.” “They have forgotten that the Berlin Wall collapsed many years ago,” “Even if there are walls between nations, they must be removed.”

In response, Rohani banned American citizens from entering Iran until President Trump steps back in his decision.

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The reception of refugees fleeing the war, fleeing oppression, is part of our duties,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

In an unstable and uncertain world, turning inward would be a dead end,” Hollande said he told Mr Trump in their first phone conversation since the president took office last week.

Trudeau, in a tweet, said Canada would welcome those fleeing “persecution, terror and war. Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.”

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Prime minister Theresa May, who is applying double standards with President Trump, decided to keep silent over the Muslim Ban by alleging that it is an American domestic issue. Her failure to condemn the persecution of refugees and Muslims has caused a wave of indignation in British society. In response, more than one million people have already signed a petition to demand that Theresa May cancels her invitation to Trump to visit the UK.

The leader of the major party of the opposition Jeremy Corbin said:

“President Trump’s executive order against refugees and Muslims should shock and appal us all. “Theresa May should have stood up for Britain and our values by condemning his actions. It should sadden our country that she chose not to. After Trump’s hideous actions and May’s weak failure to condemn them, it’s more important than ever for us to say to refugees seeking a place of safety, that they will always be welcome in Britain.”

So far the only ally who has supported the Muslim Ban has been Australia. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said:

I’m confident that the Australian government and the U.S. government will continue to support each other in ensuring that we can implement our strong immigration and border protection policies,” Ms Bishop said in Los Angeles.

The Australian government is working very closely with the administration and the US officials and we want to ensure that Australians continue to have access to the United States, as they have in the past, and people from the United States have access to Australia.”

Treasurer Scott Morrison also jumped to Mr Trump’s defence, reasoning that the newly-elected president was simply fulfilling an election promise.

In his first two weeks as president, Trump has:

1. Divided American society.

2.Violated international law.

3. Violated the first amendment of the U.S constitution.

4.Violated human rights of refugees and Muslims.

5. Made numerous enemies from all over the world.

6. Helped terrorist groups to recruit thousands of new members.

7. Endangered U.S. troops in the Middle East.

8. Endangered U.S. travellers.

Trump’s actions are already isolating the U.S. from the international community. Furthermore, the lack of critical thinking in society will make citizens from all over the world think that the vast majority of Americans approve Trump’s unethical policies. It will cause serious problems to millions of American travellers, who will be judged for something that they did not choose.

Fortunately, the protests against Trump’s executive order to persecute Islamic society shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If Trump continues violating the law and American society continues holding mass protests, President Trump may then be impeached by the congress. If it ever happens, Pence who is politically smarter than Trump and is backed by most of Republicans elected would try to implement a catholic- evangelical system based on reforming the education system and denigrating women.

American society will have to be very attentive with the upcoming events. History shows that protests are useful, but unless something really shocking happens they will not have any real impact. In 2008, when the global financial crisis started, there were millions of citizens who held protests for years in countries such as Spain. However, the Spanish authoritarian government reacted by oppressing all the protesters without contemplations on a regular basis. Finally, this movement turned into a political organisation, which is strong, but was created too late. For that reason, if American society really wants to change the existing situation, aside from holding protests against the government, it should also create an alternative to replace the two major parties in the U.S.

The Republican and Democrat parties have been alternating the U.S. presidency for decades, which means that the corruption is already instilled in all layers of both organisations.

The upcoming turbulent times will determine whether global society can protect their human rights or not. Every single person from all over the world has the responsibility to resist any government attack against other human beings regardless of political and religious orientation.

Resisting against those who abolish human rights and violate the law on a regular basis is not bad, rather, it is everyone’s obligation for the sake of our children.

Be attentive, defend your neighbours, and never keep silent over injustices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Trump Has Started His Personal Crusade Against the Islamic Community and Refugees

Yesterday, President Trump started his personal crusade against the world’s Islamic community by signing an order for extreme vetting action to “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States.” The U.S. will now halt the entrance of refugees from SYRIA, IRAQ, IRAN, LIBYA, SOMALIA, SUDAN and YEMEN.

We want to ensure that we are not letting into our country the very threats that our soldiers are fighting overseas,” We’re going to have extreme vetting for people coming into our country and if we think there’s a problem, it’s not going to be so easy for people to come in anymore,”Trump said.

Numerous experts and the international community have warned Trump that this order does not represent American values.

It is a cruel measure that represents a stark departure from America’s core values,” former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said Thursday

We should not be excluding any religion or nationality from the U.S. refugee resettlement program,” said Michelle Brané, a director at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Thousands of refugees who have been going through a strict process based on background checks and personal conditions for years will now have to choose another destination.

Earlier today, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and International Organisation for Migration called on the new President’s administration to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, a right protected by international law.

The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater and the US resettlement program is one of the most important in the world,” the two agencies said in a joint statement.

The longstanding US policy of welcoming refugees has created a win-win situation: it has saved the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the world who have in turn enriched and strengthened their new societies.”

In his inauguration speech, President Trump said:

“I want to unite the civilised world to fight and eradicate Islamic terrorism”

However, Trump’s decision will help terrorist organisations such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda to maintain their anti-western rhetoric and recruit thousands of new members from among the refugees to attack western countries. It might soon be catastrophic by causing thousand of deaths. President Trump also said:

“Starting today, the government has been returned to its citizens. You will tell politicians what to do.”

It was applauded by a large number of fanatics. However, Trump’s decision to refuse refugees from the Middle East was made against the opinion of the vast majority of Americans. They consider America a country of immigrants, which hosts and protects refugees from warring countries.

The ban of Muslims will also encourage racist organisations from the U.S. to persecute and denigrate refugees who are already settled in the U.S. Since Trump was elected president, there has been a great increase in racists actions against immigrants. These actions are often fueled by Trump and his advisors.

In this context, countries such as China or Russia will soon increase their influence in the world. It will soon leave the U.S. without any influence over important issues. Apparently, with Trump as president, the U.S. will be condemned to international isolation.

Although it is unthinkable, if Trump continues turning the U.S. into an authoritarian state, at some point, the international community might then decide to ban the admittance of American citizens into numerous countries. If that ever happens it would be devastating.

The criminalisation of refugees is absurd and hypocritical. The vast majority of them are fleeing war zones to be safe. They did not choose to be refugees. This status was imposed on them due to conflicts often started by the U.S. and its allies. They deserve more respect from the international community. They have already suffered a lot!

Terrorism should be eradicated from the world as soon as possible, but never by criminalising innocents. Yes, let’s unite to fight terrorism more efficiently, but never ever by persecuting innocents!

Let’s walk together!

By Josep

The Dramatic Life of Refugees: Winter, Rejection, Crime, Radicalization, Terror and Death

THE BRUTAL WINTER is aggravating the situation of thousands of refugees (including children), who are living under extreme weather conditions along European borders. In Places like in Lesbos (Greece) and Belgrade (Serbia), the snow falls and the temperature is as low as 20-degrees celsius(-4°F).

Numerous European governments have offered shelter to an insufficient number of refugees (many of them children). UN’s and Medicines Sans Frontiers have criticised the European Union for not preparing properly for the life-threatening winter weather.

“Europe should stop making the lives of migrants and refugees more miserable,” a statement from Medicins Sans Frontieres read.

Saving lives must be a priority and we urge state authorities across Europe to do more to assist and protect refugees and migrants,” a UNHCR spokeswoman, Cecile

The UN is warning that an important number of refugees may soon die if the European Union does not assist them. Refugees often do not have the adequate clothing, food and shelter to withstand the low temperatures.

“Children are particularly prone to respiratory illnesses at a time like this. It’s about saving lives, not about red tape and keeping to bureaucratic arrangements,” Sarah Crowe, a spokeswoman for the UN children’s agency UNICEF told a UN briefing in Geneva. “The dire situation right now is Greece.”

As if that were not enough, refugees are suffering abuse by police agents and criminal gangs, including kidnappings, physical abuse, threats and extortion.

UN’s has reported 5 confirmed deaths since the start of the year, two Iraqi men and a young Somali woman in Bulgaria, and a 20-year-old Afghan man, who was crossing the Evros river between Turkey and Greece.

The UN has reiterated its call on the European Union to assist all refugees as soon as possible before it becomes a catastrophe.

“The UN Refugee Agency is today reiterating its call to accelerate the moving of asylum seekers from the Aegean islands to the Greek mainland,” Edwards said at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.”The need for better protection will become all the more acute this weekend when temperatures on the islands are expected to drop. We are worried,” said UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards.

“We are worried,” Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for UNHCR said in Geneva.”Slowness in registration or identifying vulnerable individuals and, previously, a shortage of suitable spaces on the mainland have been factors delaying moves. Among other things this has contributed to serious overcrowding of facilities built for far fewer people, and increased protection risks,”

NGO’s and numerous international organisations are insisting that to refuse assistance to refugees is a violation of international law. Apparently, European countries are more interested in domestic affairs than in refugees. In countries like Germany, the growing social discontent against refugees has forced the government to debate whether to expel thousands of refugees or not.The decadence of Angela Merkel and the upcoming German presidential elections will influence the final decision. 

In many cases, the traditional and far-right media are contributing to the criminalisation of all the refugees coming from the Middle East. 

Brief Analysis of two cases:

1.BREITBART’S FALSE ARTICLE.

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ON JANUARY 3rd Virginia Hale, a journalist from Breitbart News, wrote the following false article:

“Revealed: 1,000-Man Mob Attack Police, Set Germany’s Oldest Church Alight on New Year’s Eve” 

“At New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dortmund, a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church,” Breitbart News reported.

Breitbart also claimed that a video posted by a Ruhr Nachrichten journalist showed them holding up a flag of al-Qaeda and Isis collaborators. In fact, the video shows the contrary, a man holding a flag widely flown by those opposing the current government.

The local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, said that its online reporting on New Year’s Eve had been distorted by BreiBart to produce “fake news.”

The justice minister of Hesse state, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, said“the danger is that these stories spread with incredible speed and take on lives of their own.”

Tens of thousands clicked and shared the false Breitbart.com story with the headline,“Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve”.

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Days later, Breitbart supposedly amended the article to make a few corrections.

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However, it decided to keep all the falsehoods spilt over Syrian refugees about terrorism. Since its creation, Breitbart has become the American newspaper, which most fabricates false stories.

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NOTE: The chief strategist and Senior Counsellor for the presidency of Donald Trump, Steve Bannonis the co-founder of Breitbart. Com. It suggests that he will use his new position to amplify fake stories to criminalise honest immigrants.

2.MODAMANI’S CASE.

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MONTHS AGO, the far right propaganda, like Noch.info, from Germany and other countries suggested that Angela Merkel had taken a selfie with a terrorist, “Anas Modamani, a Syrian refugee”,  The false claims soon spread on social media and went viral. 

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The 19-year-old was accused of terrorism and other criminal activities, including him being one of the perpetrators of the March bombings in Brussels, and was linked to the Christmas market attack in Berlin. The accusations were soon catalogued as false, but the people of social media refused to halt the spread of the false news related to his case, allowing many users to continue spreading it even in the present day.

On his part, Modamani has recently sued Facebook for not doing enough to stop the fake news and reestablished his honour.

Modamani Stated, “I was first linked to the attacks when my picture was circulated, claiming I was one of the Brussels attackers due to perceived resemblances between us,”

“When the claims started being circulated on social media, I was in Munich visiting friends.

“Some friends advised that I stay at home and avoid going out in public, which I did.

“Others encouraged me to go to the police and report what was being said about me.

“But I kind of just hoped it would go away on its own.”

“Facebook is doing a very poor job with fake news,”

“Not all fake news is illegal, but when it amounts to slander, as I believe this does, then it should be taken down.”

“Facebook has repeatedly refused to take the posts down, saying they do not violate the company’s rules,” Modamani’s lawyer said.

A Facebook representative said: “We received a takedown request from Mr Jun alleging that a specific item of content on our platform violates Mr Modamani’s right of personality.”

“Access to that reported content was quickly disabled, so we do not believe there is any basis for him to seek an injunction.”

Germany’s justice ministry is considering new policies to crack down on “fake news” by making Facebook and other social media companies criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech.

“Facebook should be treated as a media company rather than a technology company,” the justice minister said in November.

As in the previous case, some newspapers have amended the false articles, but Modamani’s honorability will never be fully restored.Thousands of people accused him of terrorism and spread it on the social media and not everyone who uses social media read newspapers, which means that there are still many people, who still think that he is a terrorist. Modami’s case shows the enormous influential capacity that social media has over people.

NOTE: The president-elect Donald Trump won the last U.S. elections thanks to several factors like the incompetence of Hillary Clinton. However, Trump would not have won the election without false news and the social media to spread them.

The cases of fake news mentioned in this article, represent a sample of hundreds of thousands that are spread everyday on social media. For many organisations, the main goal is to convince European citizens that refugees are terrorists and criminals. Unfortunately, there is a significant number of people, who already believe those falsehoods.

EUROPEANS POLITICAL LEADERS and citizens tend to forget that, during the WWII, thousands of Europeans fled to countries like Syria, Egypt and Palestine(the Middle East) seeking shelter. The refugee camps in the Middle East were operated by MERRA (Middle East Relief and Refugee Administration) 

246f8479-6675-478c-905c-615e9602d7cd.pngUS Army General Allen Gullion and Fred K. Hoehler, Director of the United Nation’s Division of Displaced Persons predicting the movement of European refugees of World War II.

Seventy years ago, the Middle Eastern community warmly welcomed hundreds of thousands of European refugees who needed shelter. Today, to the contrary, European countries are neglecting refugees from the Middle East, alleging security issues. They believed that some terrorists are camouflaged among refugees. However, the facts show that majority of the terrorist attacks in Western countries were perpetrated by locals, who radicalised themselves.

Experience from many conflict zones teaches us that the longer these refugees are left to languish in despair in camps, the more prone they become to radicalization.

In fact, these camps are often used by terrorist organisations to attract new members. Without them, terrorism might soon be defeated. The best way to fight terrorism is by assisting refugees. European society should not forget the assistance that the Middle East gave them in the past.

The different communities in the world should work together to better understand each other regardless of their political and religion orientations.

After all, we are all human beings.

By Josep.

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Racism Is Not the Solution to Your Problems

The rise of fascism, represented by the anti-immigration political party and the lack of critical thinking in our society, is making people adopt racists positions. In many cases, it coincides with the destruction of the middle class and global impoverishment, which is usually accompanied by feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. In this context of degradation, anti-immigration organisations successfully deliver false promises of rescuing citizens from their existing poverty, to take back what belongs to them. For that to happen, they attribute high unemployment, criminality and terrorism with immigration.

Many times antiimmigration organisations count on the inestimable help of the mainstream media, which, without even realising, serves as a medium to spread their message. Donald Trump is the personification of anti-immigration sentiment that the media excessively focuses on, which helps them achieve their goals. In this case, the media informed negative things related to his past misconduct, but the excessive coverage made people think that they were being manipulated.

Let’s now scrutinise some of the anti-immigration claims to better understand whether their arguments are valid or not:

1. Immigration and crimes:

Anti-immigration organisations are regularly linking crimes to immigration. However, the available reports depict that in western countries, immigrants are less likely to be criminals than natural citizens.

In Germany, where the arrival of refugees has been massive, the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) announced in 2016 that crimes committed in 2015 by refugees stood at the same level as those committed by native Germans.

Government report Police Crime Statistics 2015.

https://www.bka.de/EN/CurrentInformation/PoliceCrimeStatistics/2015/pcs2015.html?nn=39580

(The statistics of 2016 have not been published yet. However, different sources suggest that the next reporting could be manipulated by the government to justify the expulsion of refugees, the same year that Germany will hold presidential elections, and because Merkel is losing popularity. I will inform you about the real report and any case of evidence of manipulation by increasing the immigration criminality, I will show it here)

“The majority (of refugees) do not come here with the intention of committing crimes. They come to Germany to find protection and peace.”

Immigrants have always been a convenient scapegoat,” – Walter A. Ewing, a senior researcher at the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit group in Washington.

As we can see, the anti-immigration theories are unsubstantiated by government reports.Although I am focusing on Germany because it has experienced the mass arrival of immigration, this tendency is similar in the rest of western countries.

2. Immigration and jobs:

Despite the general opinion that immigrants steal our jobs, immigration has a positive impact on a country’s  economy. It happens because of several factors:

  • 1. In many European countries, the education and health systems are semi-free, as the population is getting older, the cost of maintenance of the systems is increasing while the tax collection to maintain it is decreasing. In such a scenario,  immigration helps to replace the ageing working population and this increases the needed contribution to maintaining this “free system.”
  • Note: In the U.S. there is no a free educational or health system, the government allege that it would supposedly lead to an increase in taxes. However, the reduction of the annual military investment would allow the government to implement a free educational and health system to enable people to have equal opportunities.
  • 2. Immigrants are always willing to do those important jobs related to the cleaning, construction, agriculture etc. sectors that locals are not. It is clear then that without immigration there would be a lack of services that in the end would provoke the collapse of the system.

3. Immigration and rape reports:

There is a general concern that the entrance of refugees into western countries will increase the raping cases.However, so far there is no clear evidence that that may happen. It is mainly caused by the mainstream media that sometimes misleads citizens by distorting the reality. For example, the mass-raping case during the New Year’s Eve 2015:

The mainstream media reported without verifying it that the German government announced that hundreds of immigrants (refugees) mass-raped women in Colonia. For that to happen, supposedly, hundreds of refugees would have gathered in the downtown of Colonia to mass-rape women. However, later it was found that the immigrants were mostly from North Africa (not refugees) and that anti-immigration organisations organised it to spread fear into society.

4. Terrorism:

Anti-immigration organisations are trying to criminalise all refugees and immigrants by  suggesting that all of them are terrorists. Unfortunately, there are millions of citizens who believe these falsehoods.

No one neglects the fact that from all the refugees waiting to enter into western countries, there are some hidden terrorists, but they are just a few, and the majority of refugees, who have already been living under hard conditions for years, cannot wait to receive international aid anymore.

International terrorism is a threat to our society, and the international community should find the way to eliminate it. Nevertheless, it is important to note that most of the terrorists who committed terrorist attacks in western countries were locals.

By supporting racist positions, our society is losing its common sense. The existing financial, security, employment and political problems do not come from the immigration. These problems are usually originated by governments, anti-immigration, and financial institutions, which for years have been undermining the confidence that citizens once had on them.

Anti-immigration organisations are benefiting from the existing chaos due to a lack of critical thinking in our society.And unless the mainstream media stops boosting them, racism will increase to levels never seen before in history. 

Immigration is necessary and positive in many aspects of our lives. Without it, as mentioned earlier, the system would collapse, and the citizens would suffer. It is important to remember that immigrants are human beings like you and me. Life brings many changes, and anyone may become an immigrant overnight. Even racist and intolerant people, if forced to migrate, would expect respect from others.

There is a lot of work to needed to be done with all those who support anti-immigration positions. The arguments on anti-immigration are baseless, and there is no clear evidence to support what they say. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and if our society can teach them to think critically, then there will be some hope to halt the global rise of fascism.

Understanding, compassion, tolerance, and critical thinking are the solutions to many problems.

Do not forget to vote: