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Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights

Istanbul Peace Rally Against against Islamic State of Iraq and ISIS on 26th of July.

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A photo showing two young women, Ezgi Sadet and Büşra Çetin, lying side by side with Çetin holding Sadet’s hand tightly after the bombing in Suruç has become one of the symbols of the tragedy. Both women were thought to be dead, but Çetin survived. She was first treated in Şanlıurfa, from where she was sent to İstanbul for further treatment ( Story from Zaman)

CALL TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY FOR ISTANBUL RALLY ON 26 JULY 2015

The Islamic State brutally attacked the internationalist youth group who met in Suruç on July 20. They had gone there to support the struggle for great humanity being waged in Kobani, and help rebuild the city.

As a result of this attack, 32 people were killed and over 100 people were injured. Although Islamic State has been held responsible for this attack, Turkey’s AKP Government, by resisting the taking of effective measures to prevent Islamic State and other reactionary forces, bears the real responsibility for these massacres of civilians.

Being part of the progressive international community, we hold it to be a historical duty for us to develop further cooperation against Islamic State (ISIL) and similar organizations. The Peace Bloc, in which HDP takes place as well, will organize a big march in Istanbul on July 26 in order to act in solidarity with peoples who are yearning for freedom and peace everywhere in the world, and particularly in the Middle East, in order to give a powerful response to Islamic State barbarism.

In this context, we invite everyone who believes in democracy and freedom to support our struggle for humane values against barbarity and Islamic State by participating in this march on July 26 in Istanbul.

Selahattin DEMİRTAŞ & Figen YÜKSEKDAĞ
Co-Presidents of HDP

Date: 26.07.2015, 4:00 pm
Place: Şişhane, Beyoğlu/İstanbul

Co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas calls for a mass rally in Istanbul against the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Sham(ISIS) after Suruc incident

Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has called people for a mass rally in Istanbul on Saturday against the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) over the Suruc incident in which 32 people were killed.

“We shall organise an international ‘peace rally’ against ISIS in Istanbul” Demirtas said at his party’s board meeting on Tuesday.

The ‘peace rally’ is organised by Peace Blog, consisting of different civil society organisations, women organisations, political parties, labor and profession groups.

The rally is planned to begin on July 26 from the front of Turkish National Television (TRT) building in Sishane to Aksaray district of Istanbul at 16:00 (GTM)

32 people were killed on Monday when the massive explosion hit the garden of the Amara Culture Centre where members of the far-left pro-Kurdish Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) gathered for a press meeting in Suruc district of Turkey’s southeastern province of Sanliurfa.

The suicide bombing suspect is confirmed to have links to ISIS on Wednesday, after he was identified with DNA test.

Chaos and violence hit Turkish streets in aftermath of Suruç

Protesters took to the streets and clashed with riot police throughout Turkey on Tuesday due to widespread public anger over the massacre of over 30 activists in a suicide bomb attack in the town of Suruç in the southeastern province Şanlıurfa on Monday.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 23, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Syrian Kurds Beating Back ISIS Genociders.

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 Syrian Kurdish fighters take control of key Islamic State base north of Raqqa.

Is there no end to the rush to “explain” why some British Muslims have gone to join Daesh?

This was the latest:

British police are partly responsible for the radicalisation of three sisters thought to have taken their children to join extremists in Syria, it has been claimed.Mohammed Shoaib and Akhtar Iqbal, whose wives both left their homes in Bradford to travel to Syria, suggested that police encouraged their radicalisation by urging the women to contact their brother who had already left for Syria. It is believed he is fighting for with the Isis terror group. Independent.

Everyone is responsible, except the volunteers for oppression, terror and  genocide.

On the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) site, they posted  – not too long ago –  Russell Brand (6.3.15.) spouting  this self-indulgent piffle.

‘Jihadi John’ – widely regarded to be the masked executioner featured in several videos, produced by the extremist group Islamic State (ISIS), showing the beheading of a number of captives in 2014 and 2015 – has been revealed as West Londoner Mohammed Emwazi. Russell Brand ask whether the attraction of Islamic State for some young people in Britain, like Mohammed Emwazi, is due to the loss of identity and power in our communities.

More recently there is an article that singles out ‘Islamophobia’ as the greater menace, The status of Muslims in the west is under threat by David Miller, Narzanin Massoumi, Tom Mills & Hilary Aked.

The (academic) authors are very big on “anti-Muslim hate crime” – no doubt a serious problem.

But they fail to mention the actually existing Islamist hate crimes of the jihadis.

The template: ‘Islamophobia-Identity-Crisis-Imperialist-Intervention-in-the-Middle-East‘ – a kind of puddle of images, not an argument –  just about overwhelms any rational explanation  from this quarter.

One thing is, nevertheless clear – they are asserting that the Jihadis are just as much ‘victims’ as those they slaughter.

A rare glimpse of sanity came when Shiraz Maher published these words in the New Statesman on the 17th of June.

The experience of Britain’s suicide bombers shows how these men are full participants in the war engulfing Syria and Iraq. Over the past two years British fighters have tortured prisoners in their care, executed prisoners of war, beheaded journalists and aid workers, and participated in the revival of slavery. As this brutal nihilism has taken hold, some fighters, among them many Britons, have grown weary of its trajectory and left the conflict. Not so the suicide bombers. Theirs are the actions of the conscientious and committed.

Western liberals and the left could perhaps do better by first considering the acts of those resisting  Daesh.

The StWC lost interest in the Kurdish people’s battle around the end of last year, some of their supporters darkly hinting at US or ‘Zionist’ involvement in their operations.

By contrast many of us, socialist internationalists,  continue to back our Kurdish sisters and brothers.

There are some important recent articles on the fight back by the Syrian Kurds against ISIS/Islamic State. Or, as it’s widely known, Daesh.

This is one, from Arab Awakening

Syrian Kurds have won a strategic victory in Tel Abyad, uniting two of their self-run cantons and putting ISIS on the back foot.

The struggle against ISIS continues to be a topsy-turvy affair. Recent setbacks include ISIS’ capture of historic Palmyra in eastern Syria and the important Iraqi city of Ramadi. In northern Syria, along the Turkish border, however, the situation is entirely different.

On 16 June, the Kurdish militia of the YPG (People’s Protection Units) and YPJ (Women’s Protection Units), accompanied by allied Arab military units and supported by US-led airstrikes, captured the ISIS stronghold of Tel Abyad (Girê Sipî‎ in Kurdish).

Tel Abyad was of pivotal importance to ISIS as a gateway to the Turkish border post of Akçakale, through which foreign fighters had allegedly come, and as a supply route to ISIS’ self-declared capital of Raqqa.

In recent months, Kurdish forces have moved rapidly to reclaim large swathes of territory from ISIS in northern Syria. The capture of Tel Abyad came after a pincer movement of Kurdish militia and their allies from the east and west.

Prior to the capture of Tel Abyad, units from the separate Kurdish-run cantons of Kobanê and Cizîrê made contact for the first time. With Tel Abyad in YPG/YPJ hands, two of the three autonomous cantons of the Syrian Kurds’ self-declared Rojava territory are now linked and Kurdish control extends almost 400 km along the Syria/Turkey border, from the Iraq frontier in the east to the Euphrates in the west.

This represents a remarkable reversal of fortune for Syria’s Kurds and their allies. Late last year, ISIS appeared all but unstoppable in Syria. Equipped with heavy weapons abandoned by retreating Iraqi troops, it swallowed up territory and pushed the lightly armed Kurds into a corner.

In October, ISIS was poised to capture the Kurdish city of Kobanê and extinguish one of the fledgling Kurdish cantons. It was only the determined resistance of the YPG and YPJ and the commencement of a US-led air campaign against ISIS that saw the city saved.

Kobanê became a rallying point for the Kurdish cause. Kurds in Turkey who I spoke to at the time of the siege remarked that it had brought together Kurdish communities spread across the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. “We have thousands of years of history,” one man remarked, “now, for the first time all our hearts are beating together.”

The siege also saw greater coordination between the Kurdish YPG and the US military. On January 26, after a siege that had lasted 134 days, Kurdish forces broke ISIS’ stranglehold on Kobanê. Since then, the Kurds and allied forces have made rapid gains.

In the course of their brave fight against ISIS, the Kurdish militias of Syria (and Iraq) have won considerable international attention and sympathy. They have also attracted western recruits to the cause. In February, Australian Ashley Johnston was the first westerner to be “martyred” fighting alongside the YPG militia. An American, Keith Broomfield, was also killed earlier this month.

Kurdish advances in northern Syria have not been without controversy, however. Social media users and some ethnic Arab and Turkmen refugees have accused Kurdish forces of ethnically cleansing areas they have captured. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has echoed these allegations.

In a battlefield rife with conspiracy theories and misinformation it is difficult to determine the veracity of such claims. Kurdish activists, for instance, often allege that Turkey has supported ISIS against the Kurds.

The YPG, for its part, denies that it has ethnically cleansed the areas that it has recently captured. In fact, it has issued an appeal to refugees fleeing combat zones, regardless of their ethnicity, to come to “safe areas” under its control, an appeal that many have eagerly taken up.

It is also clear that the Kurdish YPG and YPJ militias are not acting alone in the campaign against ISIS. The recent battle for Tel Abyad included ethnic Arab brigades of the Free Syrian Army, participating under a joint operations command known in Arabic as Burkān al-Furāt (the Euphrates Volcano). It seems implausible that Arab militia would allow the ethnic cleansing of their kin by the Kurdish forces they are fighting alongside.

The Turkish president, meanwhile, has also expressed his displeasure at US air support for the Kurdish campaign. Citing the YPG’s affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), he argues that it amounts to western backing for terrorist forces.

Turkey’s misgivings about the Syrian Kurds’ advances have been evident for some time. Notably, the day after the siege of Kobanê was lifted, Erdoğan stated that Turkey would not tolerate an Iraq-style Kurdish entity on its border with Syria.

Turkey, the US and the EU classify the PKK as a terror group. Erdoğan’s scolding is a reflection of Turkey’s refusal to view the PKK as anything other than a terrorist vehicle, despite the significant role it has played in pushing back the jihadi forces of ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. It is also evidence of a deep-seated Turkish mistrust of Kurdish intentions.

Turkish concerns notwithstanding, the Kurds’ recent victories have changed the complexion of the region. By linking two of their cantons, the Syrian Kurds will now find themselves on a much stronger strategic footing.

Despite (as yet unsubstantiated) claims of ethnic cleansing, the Kurds in Rojava have established a political entity run according to a post-nation-state model of democracy and accepting of diverse ethnic groups. On the battlefield they have proven reliable and highly effective.

It beggars belief that western governments, looking upon the chaos of the region with dismay, have not established formal alliances with the PYD, the political entity administering the Syrian Kurdish cantons.

Perhaps most importantly, the Syrian Kurds have demonstrated that ISIS is not the military powerhouse it was once envisaged as, but is in fact eminently beatable.

It beggars belief that the majority of the British left has not followed the example of the rest of the European left and backed our Kurdish sisters and brothers.

This the latest news, from the Kurdish news agency Rûdaw:

BEIRUT (AP) — Kurdish fighters and their allies have captured a Syrian military base once held by the Islamic State group, activists and officials said Tuesday, moving within some 50 kilometers (30 miles) of the extremists’ de facto capital.Taking the Brigade 93 base further squeezes the extremists, especially after they lost a major supply line when the Kurds captured the town of Tal Abyad on the Turkish border last week.However, even with the aid of U.S.-led airstrikes, battling even closer to the Islamic State’s stronghold of Raqqa could prove costly for the Kurds and allied rebel factions.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Kurdish activist Mustafa Bali said Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, captured the base Monday night. Both said YPG fighters and their allies later entered parts of the nearby town of Ein Issa, the last major residential area north of Raqqa, which the Islamic State group considers the capital of its self-declared “caliphate” across Syria and Iraq.

The YPG’s official Facebook page said “dozens of Daesh mercenaries were killed” at Brigade 93, using an Arabic acronym for the extremist group. The Observatory said that Islamic State militants transferred the corpses of 26 of its fighters to Raqqa after they were killed in Ein Issa by airstrikes.

The U.S. has found a reliable partner in the YPG, who have been the main force in the battle against the Islamic State group in Syria. They are moderate, mostly secular fighters, driven by revolutionary fervor and deep conviction in their cause. They are backed by Arab tribesmen, Assyrian Christian gunmen and members of the rebel faction known as Burkan al-Furat — Arabic for the “Volcano of the Euphrates.

“The Islamic State group continues to have a supply line to Turkey running through northwestern Syria to Raqqa. It’s not clear whether the Kurds will push in further on Raqqa. When cornered in the past, the militants have relied on coordinated mass suicide car bomb attacks and other scorched-earth tactics.Those tactics have included mass killings. On Tuesday, a media arm of the Islamic State group in Iraq posted a video online purporting to show it kill over a dozen men it described as spies by drowning them in a cage, decapitating them with explosives and firing a rocket-propelled grenade at them in a car.

More News: Syrian Kurdish fighters take control of key Islamic State base north of Raqqa.

We note the words “The U.S. has found a reliable partner in the YPG…” in this article: so expect the StWC to wash their hands of the Kurds completely.

Peter Tatchell: Britain should treat Saudi Arabia as a pariah state. Free Raif Badawi!

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 Free Raif Badawi !

Peter Tatchell writes,

It is exactly three years ago today that the pro-democracy blogger Raif Badawi was arrested and imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this month, the Saudi Supreme Court upheld the draconian sentence handed down for his ‘crime’ of setting up a liberal website: ten years jail and 1,000 lashes.

Meanwhile, Badawi’s lawyer and brother-in-law, Waleed Abu Al-Khair – himself a human rights activist and founder of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia – had his 15 year jail sentence confirmed in February.

This is happening in a country that successive British governments have allied with, diplomatically and militarily, despite its tyrannical nature and its sharp divergence from our stated democratic, liberal and human rights values. Our foreign policy on Saudi Arabia doesn’t match what we say we stand for.

Indeed, as well as Raif’s and Waleed’s persecution, Amnesty international has documented ten different forms of gross human rights abuse perpetrated by the regime in Riyadh.

Despite UK government silence, human rights campaigners have kept the Badawi case in the public eye. English PEN has been holding weekly vigils outside the Saudi Embassy in London, and the Amnesty International petition calling for his release has over 1 million signatures. People worldwide are sharing the #FreeRaif appeal on social media, calling for his immediate, unconditional release.

Badawi is one of the human rights heroes of our age. He has been awarded several prizes, including PEN Canada’s One Humanity Award, and has been nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. Numerous Nobel laureates have voiced their support for Raif, as have well-known public figures such as Patti Smith, Jimmy Wales, Salman Rushdie and Noam Chomsky.

…….

Today, on this third anniversary of Badawi’s arrest, we will be taking our campaign to Downing Street, with a delegation including representatives from Campaign Against the Arms Trade, English PEN, Index on Censorship, International Front for Secularism and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

Our letter to the Prime Minister urges him to publicly call for the release of Raif and other political prisoners, and to condemn all human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. We also want David Cameron to make trade with Riyadh conditional on the regime’s respect for human rights and ethical norms of governance – particularly in relation to the sale of weapons that could be used to oppress Saudi citizens. These demands will be reiterated at a public meeting this evening in the Houses of Parliament with MPs, peers and campaigners.

Until it conforms to international human rights standards, Saudi Arabia should be treated as a pariah state. Arms sales must end, the British ambassador should be recalled, and key regime figures sanctioned internationally.

The letter:

Dear Prime Minister

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is currently imprisoned in a Saudi Arabian jail having received the first 50 of a threatened 1,000 lashes. If Raif survives these floggings he faces another 10 years in jail. His ‘crime’ was to have set up a website that called for peaceful change of the Saudi regime away from the repressive and religiously exclusive regime that it is.

In another shameful act his lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair, and other human rights activists were also later arrested. On February 20th this year Waleed had his sentence confirmed as 15 years in prison.

The European Parliament in its resolution of Feb 12th made clear its demands on Saudi Arabia to release Raif, as well as his lawyer Waleed and others imprisoned there for exercising their freedom of speech.

But to free Raif from this nightmare needs more than politicians saying that they disapprove of his punishment.

The total EU trade with the Saudi regime is currently close to €64 billion a year. The UK alone has approaching £12 billion invested in Saudi Arabia whilst it continues to invite Saudi investment in the UK, particularly in the property market. Saudi investment in the UK is currently over £62.5 billion.

As the regime inflicts beheadings and floggings on its people, questions have to be asked about why more cannot be done to promote the human rights of citizens of a country with which there is such extensive business. Particularly questions have to be asked about the morality of providing such a regime with arms, particularly the weaponry and facilities they use in their brutal penal system.

We ask that you make publicly clear your complete opposition to the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and demand the immediate release of Raif and Waleed as the EU parliament has done. We also ask that you make publicly clear what measures you will take as a government to put any trading with this regime on an ethical basis and what conditions you will demand from the Saudi regime if all of that trade is to continue – particularly in relation to weapons that might be used in oppression or imprisonment.

If nothing is done to stop the brutality, beheadings and floggings that are committed there – then any moral stand taken against similar horrors committed elsewhere by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria can only be compromised.

In the spirit of consistency, transparency and humanity we ask you to take action to Free Raif and promote human rights in Saudi Arabia

Yours

List of Signatures and more information: Free Raif Badawi.

Day of action for Raif Badawi (from English PEN).

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 18, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Charlie Hebdo. Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Review Article.

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 Posthumous Bolt of Light.

Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Les Échappés. 2015.

“This text was completed on the 5th of January 2015, two days before the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo, during which Charb lost his life.”

The Lettre addresses the reader, “If you think that criticism of religions is the expression of racism” “If you think that ‘Islam’ is the name of a people.” “If you think that punishing blasphemers will open the gates of heaven for you.” “If you think that left-wing atheists play into the hands of fascists and xenophobes” “If you think that it is essential to classify citizens according to their religion” “If you think that one can laugh at everything except whatever is sacred to you.” “If you think that popularising the concept of Islamophobia is the best way of defending Islam” ………..

“So, dear reader, this letter has been written for you”

Charb (Stephane Charbonnier) would not learn of the response of those he spoke to on the first pages of the Lettre. He was absent after those seeking paradise murdered him, eleven of his colleagues at Charlie Hebdo, a police officer and four customers of the Vincennes Hyper-Cacher.

In France, and across the world, millions expressed their solidarity and love for Charlie and all the victims of the atrocities. But there remained those who responded according to the 19 ready-made ideas about Islam Charb listed. Liberals and those claiming to stand on the left, marked by every single one of them, were prominent amongst those who contributed to a torrent of abuse whose echoes still resonate.

Mark Maguire, on the Stop the War Coalition’s site, stated that Charlie was “a rather unpleasant French magazine” that published “anti-Islamic cartoons”. Others pitched in. It was ‘Zionist’ and ‘neo-conservative’, with the imprint of former Editor Phillipe Val who is said to have promoted these views. It was – it would be an easy task to cite thousands of articles – ‘Islamophobic’. It was vulgar and racist. It specialised in the pornographic mocking of sacred beliefs, above all of Muslims.

The Weekly, as the Socialist Workers Party template set out, was known for its “provocative and racist attacks on Islam”. Norman Finkelstein tried to create an industry out of this holocaust. He declared that the paper was not satire but “sadism” and compared it to the anti-Semitic Nazi Der Stürmer. An apparently anti-racist alliance, Unite Against Fascism (UAF), held a special session at their AGM on why “je ne suis pas Charlie.”

This hostility has not died down. ‘Rules’ for satirists appeared – which Charlie had apparently broken. It should have targeted the “powerful.” Will Self judged that satire ought to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”. Literary critics, enforcing these new Aristotlean unities of satirical style – breached no doubt by Rabelais, Hogath’s drawings, and the plebeian Viz comic, not to mention early Soviet anti-religious propaganda – have tried to establish their decree. (1) We could call it ‘satirical realism’. Even cartoonists joined the would-be Zhdanovs of correct caricature. As have authors. Read the rest of this entry »

World Press Freedom Day Sees List of Honour Back Charlie Hebdo as 145 Writers Join List of Shame.

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The List of Honour of those who Back Charlie and Freedom.

Not in our name: World Press Freedom Day 116 days after Charlie Hebdo.

On World Press Freedom Day, 116 days after the attack at the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 11 dead and 12 wounded, we, the undersigned, reaffirm our commitment to defending the right to freedom of expression, even when that right is being used to express views that we and others may find difficult, or even offensive.

The Charlie Hebdo attack – a horrific reminder of the violence many journalists around the world face daily in the course of their work – provoked a series of worrying reactions across the globe.

In January, the office of the German daily Hamburger Morgenpost was firebombed following the paper’s publishing of several Charlie Hebdo images. In Turkey, journalists reported receiving death threats following their re-publishing of images taken from Charlie Hebdo. In February, a gunman apparently inspired by the attack in Paris, opened fire at a free expression event in Copenhagen; his target was a controversial Swedish cartoonist who had depicted the prophet Muhammad in his drawings.

But many of the most disturbing reactions – and the most serious threats to freedom of expression – have come from governments.

A Turkish court blocked web pages that had carried images of Charlie Hebdo’s front cover; Russia’s communications watchdog warned six media outlets that publishing religious-themed cartoons “could be viewed as a violation of the laws on mass media and extremism”; Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi empowered the prime minister to ban any foreign publication deemed offensive to religion; the editor of the Kenyan newspaper The Star was summoned by the government’s media council, asked to explain his “unprofessional conduct” in publishing images of Charlie Hebdo, and his newspaper had to issue a public apology; Senegal banned Charlie Hebdo and other publications that re-printed its images; in India, Mumbai police used laws covering threats to public order and offensive content to block access to websites carrying Charlie Hebdo images. This list is far from exhaustive.

Perhaps the most long-reaching threats to freedom of expression have come from governments ostensibly motivated by security concerns. Following the attack on Charlie Hebdo, 11 interior ministers from European Union countries, including France, Britain and Germany, issued a statement in which they called on internet service providers to identify and remove online content “that aims to incite hatred and terror”. In the UK, despite the already gross intrusion of the British intelligence services into private data, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that the country should go a step further and ban internet services that did not give the government the ability to monitor all encrypted chats and calls.

This kind of governmental response is chilling because a particularly insidious threat to our right to free expression is self-censorship. In order to fully exercise the right to freedom of expression, individuals must be able to communicate without fear of intrusion by the state. Under international law, the right to freedom of expression also protects speech that some may find shocking, offensive or disturbing. Importantly, the right to freedom of expression means that those who feel offended also have the right to challenge others through free debate and open discussion, or through peaceful protest.

On World Press Freedom Day, we, the undersigned, call on all governments to;

  • Uphold their international obligations to protect the rights of freedom of expression and information for all, especially journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders to publish, write and speak freely.
  • Promote a safe and enabling environment for those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, especially for journalists, artists and human rights defenders to perform their work without interference.
  • Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at journalists and others threatened for exercising their right to freedom of expression and ensure impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations that bring masterminds behind attacks on journalists to justice, and ensure victims and their families have speedy access to appropriate remedies.
  • Repeal legislation which restricts the right to legitimate freedom of expression, especially such as vague and overbroad national security, sedition, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws and other legislation used to imprison, harass and silence journalists and others exercising free expression
  • Promote voluntary self-regulation mechanisms, completely independent of governments, for print media
  • Ensure that the respect of human rights is at the heart of communication surveillance policy. Laws and legal standards governing communication surveillance must therefore be updated, strengthened and brought under legislative and judicial control. Any interference can only be justified if it is clearly defined by law, pursues a legitimate aim and is strictly necessary to the aim pursued.

PEN International
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Albanian Media Institute
Article19
Association of European Journalists
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Belarusian PEN
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Centre for Independent Journalism – Malaysia
Danish PEN
Derechos Digitales
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
English PEN
Ethical Journalism Initiative
Finnish PEN
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Globe International Center
Guardian News Media Limited
Icelandic PEN
Index on Censorship
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Institute
International Publishers Association
Malawi PEN
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
Media Watch
Mexico PEN
Norwegian PEN
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión – OLA
Pacific Islands News Association
PEN Afrikaans
PEN American Center
PEN Catalan
PEN Lithuania
PEN Quebec
Russian PEN
San Miguel Allende PEN
PEN South Africa
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
Swedish PEN
Turkish PEN
Wales PEN Cymru
West African Journalists Association
World Press Freedom Committee.

Good on all who back this letter.

Vous serez honoré(e)s parmi toutes les Nations. 

Partisans de la ligne de Charlie, Moblisez-Vous!

Here is the declaration of Shame.

Junot Díaz, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Eric Bogosian and Michael Cunningham are among the 145 writers who have signed a letter protesting PEN American Center’s decision to award its “freedom of expression courage” award to the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, because the award seems to endorse drawings of the prophet Muhammad and other images that “must be seen as being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering” among France’s embattled Muslims.

“It is clear and inarguable that the murder of a dozen people in the Charlie Hebdo offices is sickening and tragic,” the letter states, referring to the attack by Islamic extremists in Paris in January. “What is neither clear nor inarguable is the decision to confer an award for courageous freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo or what criteria exactly were used to make that decision.”

By honoring Charlie Hebdo, the letter said, “PEN is not simply conveying support for freedom of expression but also valorizing selectively offensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic, anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.”

New York Times.

I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list…..

PEN Members Decline to Defend Press Freedom.

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Forbidden to Ridicule, Say Some PEN Authors.

New York Times.

The decision by PEN American Center to give its annual Freedom of Expression Courage award to the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo has prompted six writers to withdraw as literary hosts at the group’s annual gala on May 5, adding a new twist to the continuing debate over the publication’s status as a martyr for free speech.

The novelists Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi have withdrawn from the gala, at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Gerard Biard, Charlie Hebdo’s editor in chief, and Jean-Baptiste Thoret, a Charlie Hebdo staff member who arrived late for work on Jan. 7 and missed the attack by Islamic extremists that killed 12 people, are scheduled to accept the award.

The Guardian carries this comment from the US,

I was quite upset as soon as I heard about [the award],” Prose, a former PEN American president, told Associated Press during a telephone interview on Sunday night. Prose said she was in favor of “freedom of speech without limitations” and that she “deplored” the January shootings, but added that giving an award signified “admiration and respect” for the honoree’s work.

“I couldn’t imagine being in the audience when they have a standing ovation for Charlie Hebdo,” Prose said.

As somebody who’s not heard of Prose until today I can’t imagine being in any audience with her.

This reaction is worth remembering,

Salman Rushdie, a former PEN president who lived in hiding for years after a fatwa in response to his novel “The Satanic Verses,” said the issues were perfectly clear. Mr. Ondaatje and Mr. Carey were old friends of his, he said, but they are “horribly wrong.”

“If PEN as a free speech organization can’t defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organization is not worth the name,” Mr. Rushdie said. “What I would say to both Peter and Michael and the others is, I hope nobody ever comes after them.”

Little Atoms, Charlie Hebdo: why is solidarity so difficult for some writers?    cites a PEN statement,

“The rising prevalence of various efforts to delimit speech and narrow the bounds of any permitted speech concern us; we defend free speech above its contents. We do not believe that any of us must endorse the content of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons in order to affirm the importance of the medium of satire, or to applaud the staff’s bravery in holding fast to those values in the face of life and death threats. There is courage in refusing the very idea of forbidden statements, an urgent brilliance in saying what you have been told not to say in order to make it sayable.”

Padraig Reidy then makes the comments many of us would agree with,

It is all very well to state one’s support for free expression as an abstract, as almost everyone does, but if one cannot express solidarity with people who are murdered for exercising their free expression, then you don’t support free expression. It actually is that simple. I wonder sometimes if the likes of Carey and others tie themselves in knots over these things because the simplicity itself is unappealing: “Where’s the angle?” they think. “Where’s the fresh perspective I can bring?” “What’s the clever thing to say here?”

But while they might reject simplicity, they embrace certainty. They are quite sure that they will never be Charb, they will never be Charlie, they will never be Rushdie. They, being good and right, will never find themselves in the middle of a global storm, or staring down the barrel of a gun: not because they are scared to provoke, but because they only speak and write in self-evident truths with which no one could disagree.

Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi join a list of people who hold their liberal noses in the air when it comes to real fight for freedom of expression.

Charlie’s liberty is the freedom to ridicule abuses, to hold the bigoted up to account, and to “laugh at everything”(rire à tout).

It is the liberty to attack intolerance head on.

Follow the line of Charlie!

Update: Correspondence about this within PEN (just published).

How the story is being perceived in France: Charlie Hebdo, témoin de “l’arrogance culturelle des Français” (Des écrivains apprécient mal qu’on récompense le journal…)

PEN Charter,

Literature, national though it be in origin, knows no frontiers, and should remain common currency among nations in spite of political or international upheavals.

In all circumstances, and particularly in time of war, works of art and libraries, the heritage of humanity at large, should be left untouched by national or political passion.

Members of PEN should at all times use what influence they have in favor of good understanding and mutual respect among nations; they pledge themselves to do their utmost to dispel race, class, and national hatreds and to champion the ideal of one humanity living in peace in the world.

PEN stands for the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and among all nations, and members pledge themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in their country or their community.

PEN declares for a free press and opposes arbitrary censorship in time of peace. It believes that the necessary advance of the world toward a more highly organized political and economic order renders free criticism of governments, administrations, and institutions imperative. And since freedom implies voluntary restraint, members pledge themselves to oppose such evils of a free press as mendacious publication, deliberate falsehood, and distortion of facts for political and personal ends.”

More here.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 27, 2015 at 11:56 am

American Muslim Groups Refuse to Recognise Armenian Genocide.

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Exactly 100 years ago, on 24 April 1915, the Turkish government arrested 250 Armenian intellectuals and cultural leaders in Constantinople, so beginning the Armenian genocide.

From late spring of 1915, massacres were carried out throughout Turkey. The government organised the genocide by creating death squads, passing laws to sanction deportation and confiscation, using the then cutting-edge railway and telegraph technology, and wrapping the whole thing up in the nationalist ideology of pan-Turkism.

Peter Balakian concluded,

Turkish denial comes in many forms. This year, one of its tactics aimed at undermining the memory of the genocide includes holding a centennial event for the Battle of Gallipoli on 24 April – the day Armenians worldwide remember the genocide – rather than 25 April, the usual Gallipoli commemoration date. The offence is compounded by the attendance of Prince Charles and Prince Harry at this politically concocted gathering.

That is why it was so important that last week Pope Francis affirmed that the slaughter of the Armenians was the “first genocide of the 20th century”. He showed that he would not be bullied by the Turkish state. Nor would he be cajoled by Turkey’s specious rhetoric suggesting that if he used the word “genocide” he would create a crisis between Muslims and Christians. The pope took the moral issue even further when he addressed the corruption of Turkish denial: “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”

On the centenary of the genocide, Turkey would do its national honour well if it listened to him. There can be no reconciliation until there is truth.

“If Armenian-American college students felt betrayed in the past day, I would not blame them. So many of them came out to support student resolutions at several universities across the country demanding divestment from the Israeli occupation.  And yet, one of the largest American Palestine solidarity organizations in this country just told these students that their grandparents’ stories still need to be verified. If you do not know what I am referring to please read this statement put out by the United States Council of Muslim Organizations.

In this statement, member organizations of the USCMO, including American Muslims for Palestine, make the case that President Obama should not refer to the “events of 1915” as a genocide without further investigation. They call for a more “balanced” approach through academic consensus based on Turkish archives that Turkey refuses to open to establish a “just memory.” The statement also refers to the importance of Turkey as an ally in the fight against ISIS. What is even worst is that it was released on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the genocide.

http://twitter.com/ramahkudaimi/status/589905206072213505/photo/1

The fact that this statement came from every major Muslim organization in America is outrageous in itself. The fact that American Muslims for Palestine signed on to this statement is doubly heinous.

How American Muslims for Palestine does not recognize the moral hypocrisy of such a denial is beyond me. Palestinians as a people have spent decades demanding the world recognize our ethnic cleansing from our homeland. For years, it was the stories of our parents and grandparents against the denial of the entirety of Israeli society. Even after the opening of Israeli state archives (that only Israeli academics had access to) confirmed what we have always known to be true, we still fight to have the Nakba and our right to return recognized. On top of all this, AMP must have forgotten that there are Armenian-Palestinians who survived this genocide.

What kind of logical acrobatics did AMP have to undertake to avoid seeing the moral hypocrisy of this statement?

To fully appreciate the self-deceit required for AMP to be a co-signor to this denial of history, one only need replace ‘Turkey’ with ‘Israel,’ ‘Armenians’ with ‘Palestinians’, ‘genocide’ with ‘ethnic-cleansing,’ and ‘ISIS’ with ‘Islamic terrorism.’ These are some of the sentences you would be reading:

‘…characterizing the events of 19(48) as (ethnic cleansing) without proper investigation of these events by independent historians will not only jeopardize the establishment of a just memory pertaining to these events, but will also damage the efforts aimed at achieving reconciliation between (Israelis) and (Palestinians).’

‘As Americans, we are concerned about alienating a key ally, (Israel)’

‘Our government has been closely cooperating with the (Israeli) government on defeating (Islamic terrorism)…’

The writers of this statement could work for the US State Department.

Thankfully, progressive Muslims, Palestinians, and solidarity activists across the country are expressing their outrage.”

The USCMO statement has been disowned by many groups:

MLFA Response to USCMO Statement on Armenian Genocide

April 20, 2015 – DALLAS – Representatives from Muslim Legal Fund of America are clarifying their organization’s position on a statement released today by United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) regarding the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA, said the organization he represents does not take positions on or make public statements about international issues. As a domestic-only organization, Meek emphasized that 100 percent of MLFA’s focus and efforts remains within the borders of the United States of America.

“It is not MLFA’s place nor is it part of its mission to question the Armenian genocide,” said Meek. “I apologize if the inclusion of MLFA’s name in this statement caused any confusion to our donors, supporters or anyone else.”

 The British Government has also refused to recognise the Armenian genocide.

Christian and other religious minority communities are again under threat in the Middle and Near East.

It would be interesting to see how British Muslim organisations plan to respond to the anniversary of the Armenian genocide.