The US withdrawal from the UNHCR is a gift to Xi Jinping and China | Frances Eve

It appears the last holdout in the resistance to ‘human rights with Chinese characteristics’ has collapsed

The US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council is a gift to China’s leader Xi Jinping.

Quitting the UNHRC won’t make it disappear. It opens a leadership vacancy that China is happy to fill. The Trump administration has stepped back to allow China the space to dominate the council unchallenged and advance its agenda to redefine human rights after the “China model.”

Related: US quits UN human rights council – ‘a cesspool of political bias’

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Peace marchers from Helmand look to change Afghanistan’s narrative

Photo of the peace march taken from the Etilaatroz news website and used with permission.

A total of 10,453 civilian casualties — 3,438 people killed and 7,015 injured — were documented in 2017 in Afghanistan. After Kabul, the capital city, it was residents of the southern province of Helmand that had it worst.

The #HelmandPeaceMarch movement led by youth from the province tells a story of fatigue from war and spotlights the next generation’s search for a better life in a country riven by violence.

The march has now reached Kabul, after 700 kilometres on foot through four of Afghanistan’s most insecure provinces –Helmand, Zabul, Ghazni and Maidan Wardak. On their way, marchers held meetings with villagers and explained the purpose of their march. They began as 7 people but acquired 59 others over the course of their journey.

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The Peace marchers’ caravan arrived Kandahar. They moved from Helmand toward Kabul to seek peace and security for their homeland. These dears should be praised and welcomed. Their determination, honesty, and hard-work are admirable. I hope their voice will be heard and they will get the desired result.

Helmand is a strategic prize for both the government and the Taliban. It is often assumed that the local population of Helmand has reached an accommodation with the insurgents, who control more territory there than the government.

The march sought to to defy that stereotype.

This rural-born peace movement grew out of a Taliban bombing in Helmand in March left 15 dead and scores wounded.

First, several sit-in tents popped up in Helmand and other provinces:  Herat, Nimruz, Farah, Zabul, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Ghazni, Paktia, Kunduz, Kunar, Nangrahar, Balkh, Parwan, Daykundi, Maidan Wardak, Bamyan and Jawzjan. Hunger strikes followed.

The march from Helmand to Kabul has four main demands:

  1. Respecting the holy month of Ramadan, all sides of war should declare a ceasefire.(Ramadan ended last week and despite a brief ceasefire, the Taliban have recommenced attacks on government targets);
  2. Specific channels and addresses for peace talks should be identified among all sides of the war, and peace negotiations should be launched;
  3. Considering Islamic and national values and interests, practical steps should be taken for forming a system that is acceptable to all sides;
  4. Based upon the agreement of all sides in this war, a specific timeline should be set for the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan.

The marchers have been mostly welcomed warmly by people on their way to Kabul. Some even responded to their protest with flowers and songs for peace.

#Peace Caravan from #Helmand province has just arrived in Shajoi district & they will continue to walk capital #kabul. The have staged a “walk protest” & demanding immediate ceasefire between #Afghan Govt and Taliban.#LongMarch2Kabul pic.twitter.com/9qTiWEdfkm

— Obaid khan Rahemi (@engr_raheemi) May 30, 2018

#Helmand2Kabul and #HelmandPeaceMarch hashtags have widely shared on social media by men, women, boys and girls of all ethnic backgrounds.

#Hazara #girls in #Ghazni province standing in queue to welcome #Pashtun boys of #Helmand province, who stage nearly 600-km walk calling for peace. The Strong message is “#War & violence do not recognize ethnicity” & Everyone is victim of #violence in #Afghanistan @IntizarKhadim pic.twitter.com/W2YgqkRVA2

— Syed Anwar (@Sayed_Anwer) June 8, 2018

#Kabul is waiting to host #HelmandPeaceMarch@ArtLordsWorld is painting a series of murals on the highways leading to Kabul to welcome our #PeaceHeroes #HelmandPeaceMarch2Kabul pic.twitter.com/KrJoz4byz5

— Omaid Sharifi (@OmaidSharifi) June 4, 2018

The Helmand Peace March is in Kabul now. Mom and I went to greet them. They are in front of the Mosque and Madrassa complex facing Habibia School. Seeing them was a moment of joy and healing for mom and me. Let’s welcome them to Kabul with warmth and support.

— Shaharzad Akbar (@ShaharzadAkbar) June 18, 2018

On June 19, the marchers met with President Ashraf Ghani, not in the lavish presidential palace in Kabul as officials initially offered, but on the street, where their movement began. The Taliban have so far refused to meet with them in any official capacity, the marchers said, although they have met and talked with fighters from the group along their way.

Written by Farkhonda Tahery · comments (0)
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When racism in Israel becomes the ‘legitimate right’ of its Jewish citizens

Protests against Arab families moving into a Jewish city are a reminder that until everyone is free to choose where they want to live, the Israeli regime will remain segregationist and racist at its core.

By Suhad Bishara

Right-wing activists shout at Palestinian activists, during a protest for the release of Palestinian Mohammed Allan, who is held by Israel without trial and who has slipped into a coma after a nearly two-month hunger strike, in the city of Ashkelon, August 16, 2015. Police prevented from Palestinian and Israeli activists to arrive to the hospital in which Allan is held, arresting eight activists, using pepper spray and skunk water canon. (photos: Keren Manor / Activestills.org)

Illustrative photo of demonstration by far-right Israelis. (Activestills.org)

Jewish residents of the northern Israeli city of Afula protested last week against the sale of a home to an Arab family and the possibility that the city would have a mixed Jewish-Arab population. I have no doubt that every person who believes in freedom and justice will view this protest as an expression of pro-segregation racism reminiscent of South African apartheid.

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The protest comes just a few months after Sivan Yehieli, the head of the Kfar Vradim Municipal Council, announced that his pastoral town must maintain its Zionist-Jewish character after 58 Arab citizens won bids to build their homes in the town.

Let’s make one thing clear: 150 protesters are not an aberration in Israel. They were simply expressing overtly the racist segregation upon which Israel’s land regime was founded. This is precisely how military rule over Israel’s Arab citizens – in effect from 1949 until 1966 – functioned: “cleansing” vast swaths of land in order to settle Jews and to ensure reserves of land that would continue to exclusively serve Israeli Jews.

This “cleansing” process was implemented, among other ways, via the construction of hundreds of new Jewish towns and communities, as well as through the establishment of admissions committees in kibbutzim, moshavim, and other communities.

Yehieli faithfully represents the Israeli planning authorities’ policy aimed at demographically re-engineering the country. He represents an Israeli legal system that refused to allow the implementation of its own decision to allow the internally-displaced Palestinian residents of Iqrit and Bir’im to return to their villages, that gave the green light to the Admissions Committees Law, and that allows the state to uproot the residents of Umm al-Hiran in order to replace them with Jewish citizens – just like during and immediately following the Nakba. And we can expect much more of the same.

Bedouin women collect their belongings from the ruins of their demolished homes in the village of Umm al-Hiran, Negev desert, January 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Bedouin women collect their belongings from the ruins of their demolished homes in the village of Umm al-Hiran, Negev desert, January 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

It is no coincidence that the proposed nation-state basic law includes a clause that authorizes the state to “allow a community, including those belonging to one religion or nationality, to maintain separate community living.” This proposed basic law will constitutionally and normatively affirm Israel’s policy of segregation. In effect, Arabs’ citizenship will continue to be contingent, provided that it does not conflict with Jewish statehood and supremacy and the “right” of Jewish citizens to choose to live separately without other citizens sabotaging their desire for homogeneity.

Much of the criticism leveled at the racism of Afula’s residents focuses on the lack of development in Arab communities, which results in the necessity of young Arab citizens to seek housing solutions in nearby Jewish towns.

This thinking prevents envisioning a situation in which an Arab citizen of Israel has the right to choose where she/he wants to live simply because it suits her/him to live there. It buys into the paradigm of a discriminatory, racist, and apartheid-like land regime that forces them to find a circumstantial explanation for the phenomenon, rather than simply calling it by its name: racism and segregation.

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Imagine a scenario in which the Israeli government takes unprecedented steps to allocate land for the development of Arab communities. Imagine that it begins developing Arab communities of all kinds — cities, villages, and agricultural communities — while also ensuring the development of industrial and commercial zones in accordance with the principles of distributive and restorative justice.

But yet, even in this scenario, it remains the right of every Arab citizen to decide where he or she wants to live — be it Kfar Vradim, Tel Aviv, or Afula.

As long as Israeli state authorities cannot or will not imagine the country’s land as open to all, we cannot talk about justice or constitutional rights. The Israeli regime will remain segregationist and racist at its core. Segregated living will remain racist, even under the guise of “separate but equal.”

Imagine protesters demonstrating against Jews buying homes in a Christian town in Europe. Israelis would declare them racists and anti-Semites, and Israel’s prime minister would surely remark that it reminds him of the dark days leading up to the Holocaust. Inside Israel, however, an almost identical scene is framed by Afula’s former mayor Avi Elkabetz as such: “The residents of Afula do not want a mixed city. They want a Jewish city — and this is their right. This isn’t racism.”

Thus racism in Israel magically becomes the “legitimate right” of the Jewish citizen.

Attorney Suhad Bishara is the Director of the Land and Planning Rights Unit, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. This article was first published in Hebrew on Haokets. Read it here.

Nebraska Farmers Return Land to Ponca Tribe in Effort to Block Keystone XL

In a move that could challenge the proposed path of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline—and acknowledges the U.S. government’s long history of abusing Native Americans and forcing them off their lands—a Nebraska farm couple has returned a portion of ancestral land to the Ponca Tribe. At a deed-signing ceremony earlier this week, farmers Art and Helen […]

Romania police arrest German journalist covering protest in Bucharest

Police are alike world-wide – they repress because they can and mean-spirited and cruel control freaks are drawn to the work.

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German journalist Paul Arne Wagner never expected to be arrested while covering an anti-corruption protest in Bucharest. More than a week later, Romanian authorities have failed to provide a convincing justification.