Euro-Med reviews regional crises for new European Parliament members
The European-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor urged newly elected members of the Parliament of the..
The European-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor urged newly elected members of the Parliament of the European Union to play a more active role in the humanitarian crises in the Middle East and to respond to the humanitarian challenge posed by the plight of refugees in Europe. The memos also described serious human rights violations by governments and non-state actors across the Middle East.
In a series of memos sent after the ninth set of parliamentary elections, the Geneva-based organisation stated that refugee crisis that began in 2015 constituted the most serious humanitarian challenge for member states thus far. Euro-Med highlighted that the policies pursued by some member states deprived refugees of their rights under various international treaties.
The memos reminded European parliamentarians of the reasons that so many people in the Middle East were being forced to flee their homes, including serious human rights violations, and of the need for increased European influence to address these reasons.
In particular, the memos highlighted the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen, described by the United Nations as the worst humanitarian disaster in the world that has resulted in untold suffering for civilians.
Parliamentarians were reminded that indiscriminate airstrikes by the Saudi-led military alliance and the repeated use of cluster munitions against civilians constituted a flagrant violation of the laws of war and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The memos also addressed the actions of Houthi forces, such as the use of landmines and the indiscriminate firing of rockets from positions in Yemen into civilian areas of Saudi Arabia, as well as arbitrary arrests and torture being practiced by both parties.
Euro-Med highlighted government repression in Sudan. Since mid-December last year, the regime in Sudan has responded violently to peaceful popular protests. Government forces have used live ammunition against peaceful protestors, killing dozens, and have arrested and unlawfully detained hundreds more, including members of political parties, students, doctors, journalists and human rights activists.
Also highlighted in the memos was the deteriorating human rights situation in Saudi Arabia over the past two years, most notably the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Despite the international pressure, the perpetrators have yet to be brought to justice and no measures have been taken to avoid similar incidents in the future.
Saudi authorities have also arrested peaceful human rights activists and critics of the government for no reason other than criticising the government or demanding their basic human rights, the memos noted.
Parliament members were also informed of the situation in Syria. Since 2011, more the civil war has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, and the Syrian Government has repeatedly used internationally banned weapons against civilians in areas under rebel control, including chemical weapons, in a clear violation of international humanitarian law.
More than 1.5 million Syrian refugees are now living in Lebanon. Here they face discrimination, and more than 74% lack official legal resident status. As a result, Syrians face serious impediments to their ability to work, to access healthcare and education, and to travel freely throughout Lebanon. Additionally, they are subject to racist campaigns directed against their presence in the country.
Euro-Med also called attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt. Here, the government have used anti-terrorism laws to carry out large-scale arbitrary arrests to prosecute political opponents and disrupt peaceful gatherings and civil society organisation.
The memos highlighted the actions of the Israeli government in the Palestinian territories, noting Israels unequal and systematic discriminatory treatment of Palestinians, the repeated use of excessive force and prolonged detention by security forces.
The memos also condemned the actions of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas in the West Bank, which included arbitrary detention and restrictions on political opposition groups.
The memos also informed EU parliament members of the situation in Libya, where armed clashes continue between the internationally recognised Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, and the forces of retired General Khalifa Hafter, based in Benghazi. The civil war has resulted in the internal displacement of tens of thousands and widespread disruption to basic services including healthcare and electricity.
Furthermore, instability in Libya facilitates the abuse of migrants and asylum seekers, many of whom are children, by people traffickers and the Libyan Coast Guard. Those who attempt the crossing risk torture, sexual abuse and forced labour.
Euro-Med also raised concerns about the political climate in Algeria, where civilians are being prosecuted for insulting the president, insulting state officials, and defaming Islam, despite the constitutional amendment of 2016 that guarantees freedom of expression.
The situation in Iraq was also highlighted in the memos, where journalists and members of the judiciary continue to be harassed and detained arbitrarily. Peaceful demonstrations throughout the country have also been met with excessive force by government forces, including in the Kurdistan region.
The memo also contained a summary of the human rights situation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the government has carried out arbitrary arrests and disappearances of political opponents. There are reports of detainees being poorly treated while in state custody. The government also maintains oppressive labour relations, denying the rights of workers. The Gulf state is also a member of the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen, and so is complicit in the war crimes being committed there.
Euro-Med concluded the memo by urging European Parliamentarians to focus on ending conflicts in the region and easing the suffering of the millions of civilians, as well as ending the supply of weapons to all parties involved in the conflict.
Removal of artwork showing names of murdered women, children draws anger
An artwork depicting names of Australian women and children lost to male violence has been removed from a museum, amid claims it was considered “inappropriate” and “uncomfortable”.
The Lost Petition artwork, listing almost 1000 women and children who have died since 2008, was hung in the Her Place Women’s Museum Australia in East Melbourne for only a week when it was taken down on Wednesday.
Femicide researcher Sherele Moody, who collaborated with artist Dans Bain on the artwork, said the museum had asked to exhibit it.
But when the 30m artwork was hung along the ceiling featuring the names of the murder victims, it drew a reaction.
“While Dans was hanging it, someone came up and said it was really confronting and inappropriate and shouldn’t be there,” Ms Moody said.
“She just brushed it off.
“But then yesterday the museum contacted her and said they were taking it down because it wasn’t appropriate to have it alongside the Emily’s List exhibition there at the moment.”
Ms Moody, a News Corp journalist and founder of the Red Heart Campaign, which aims to end domestic and family violence, said the decision to take it down was “infuriating”.
“Literally what they’re saying, from my perspective, is the stories of women and children lost to violence are not worthy of being seen or heard,” she said.
“These women and children are an inconvenience and inappropriate.
“The murder of women and children is too uncomfortable for them.”
Ms Moody said a museum dedicated to women was the perfect place to display the work.
But the organisation based on celebrating women had now taken down an artwork detailing the greatest social issue facing them.
Families of the victims depicted were “extremely upset” at its removal, as it was a tribute to their memory and highlighted the impact of domestic violence, Ms Moody said.
Her Place museum said the Emily’s List exhibition organisers requested the artist remove the petition from the space, where a new exhibition marking the 25th anniversary of Emily’s List – a network for progressive Labor women in politics – was installed.
“Due to the size and scale of the Lost Petition, there was no alternative space at Her Place Museum to exhibit the artwork,” the museum said.
The Her Place board would reinstall the artwork later in the year, in a move it said the artist agreed on as part of the Her Voice program of Australian Women’s activism.
“The exhibiting of The Lost Petition was at the invitation of Her Place Museum Australia. It is a powerful artwork and that power is reflected in the feedback we have received,” the museum said.
Artist Dans Bain said the decision to remove her artwork made her “uneasy”.
“The fact that this work has been censored speaks to the stigma of male violence against women and children. It is an uncomfortable reality,” she posted on Facebook on Thursday.
“This work lists almost 1000 women and children, every woman and child on the Lost Petition is a loved one and has families that love them. They are not an inconvenience.”
Emily’s List Australia said it had a long term booking at the museum, which as a new facility had competing demands for space.
“Difficult decisions need to be made about how to display significant material in a small public space, during limited run exhibits,” the organisation said.
“The removal of The Lost Petition was temporary to enable installation in a more permanent way … and to ensure other women’s history exhibits move seamlessly in and around it.
“It’s a big, bold piece of art and it deserves showcasing.”
The organisation added protecting women from gendered violence was far from complete and “we are all dedicated to this work”.
Senator Claire Chandler unable to answer question on who is calling for ban of trans women in single sex sports
A Tasmanian senator pushing for transgender people to be excluded from women’s sport has been unable to name a single sporting organisation in the state who has called for the change.
Under a proposal introduced to parliament earlier this month, senator Claire Chandler wants the Sex Discrimination Act to be amended so it would not be unlawful for a sporting club to ban a person from a team based on their biological sex.
In a sensational grilling on ABC Radio Hobart, Senator Chandler was repeatedly asked to clarify who in particular is calling for the change.
“I’m not going to get into specifics,” she said.
When asked a further three times by host Leon Compton, the senator stood firm.
“What I will say is that I’ve been contacted by parents of girls who have realised how despondent their girls have become competing in sport, in situations where they’re competing against males and feeling like they’re not good enough to be in the game.”
“Is it possible, Claire Chandler, that this isn’t an issue at all; the fact that you can’t name a single group,” Mr Compton quipped back.
“Leon, like I said, I’m not going to get into specifics with you,” she responded.
She added she had been contacted by “sporting administrators” who have been concerned about the legal action that could be taken against them if they do exclude a transgender person from a single-sex sport.
“You look at what is happening with Leah Thomas in the United States, where this trans woman, I should say, swimmer, who’s beating her female counterparts by seven seconds in the pool. That is just madness,” Senator Chandler said.
Senator Chandler’s bill came back into the spotlight after Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed he had encouraged her to pursue it.
“I support it, as Claire knows. I think it’s a terrific Bill and I’ve given her great encouragement,” Mr Morrison told reporters on the hustings in Tasmania.
“Claire is a champion for women’s sport and I think she’s been right to raise these issues in the way that she has. Well done, Claire.”
But it remains to be seen if Mr Morrison’s backing will translate into broader support.
To have the bill introduced to the upper house, Senator Chandler had to do so as a private members bill, meaning she did not have support of the wider cabinet to put it on the agenda.
“If it was such a great bill, why isn‘t it endorsed by the cabinet?” Mr Compton pressed repeatedly.
“I’ve had a number of conversations with the Prime Minister obviously and with my colleagues about this issue. And look, if it’s something that the cabinet wants to consider, then that is obviously a matter for them,” Senator Chandler retorted.
With only three days left in the parliamentary sitting calendar, it is unlikely the Bill will pass, or even make it to the lower house, before the election.
Liberal MP Bridget Archer told Scott Morrison would decide if she could attend Grace Tame speech
Child sex abuse survivor and Liberal MP Bridget Archer was told the decision on whether or not she could attend a speech by Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins was “up to the Prime Minister.”
The confusion was blamed last night on a communication breakdown between the Whip’s office and the Prime Minister’s office.
The PMO insists it instructed the whips this morning to seek pairs from Labor for those Government MPs wanting to attend Wednesday’s National Press Club address.
That didn’t happen with Ms Archer told at 3pm it was “up to the PM” before she was finally told she could go after 7pm when news.com.au contacted the PMO.
In a major speech to be delivered at the national press club on Wednesday, the former Australian of the Year will speak out on tackling child sex abuse in Australia.
Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer secured a last-minute ticket to the sold out event on Tuesday, but her request to attend the event was not immediately granted.
Liberal colleagues claim she was told by party whip Bert Van Manem that it was “up to the PM.”
Despite Labor’s offer to allow her to leave Parliament despite the tight numbers on the floor of the House of Representatives, confusion reigned about whether she could attend.
After news.com.au contacted the Prime Minister’s office at 7:05 pm on Tuesday night, Ms Archer’s office then got a call 5 minutes later confirming she was cleared to attend.
The outspoken MP earlier declared she planned to cross the floor and vote against the Morrison Government’s religious freedom laws because they were in breach of Tasmanian anti-discrimination laws.
She told Parliament she was “horrified” that proposed amendments excluded children that identified as transgender.
“After so much progress how did we get back to a place where we ignore the harm we place on children when we tell them they are ‘other’, ‘less than’ and do not deserve rights and protections afforded to others – I fear it may risk lives,” Ms Archer said.
Labor’s manager of government business Tony Burke took to Twitter on Tuesday to insist there was no barrier from Labor MPs on Ms Archer or other MPs attending.
“If requests come in for the Press Club we will accommodate the same as we did for March4Justice,’’ he said.
“The government’s claim that we are meant to offer pairs that they haven’t requested is weird. And wrong.”
Last year, Ms Archer told news.com.au she burst into tears after she was taken to the Prime Minister’s office to discuss her decision to cross the floor on another matter despite repeatedly telling his staff she wanted to delay the discussion.
While Scott Morrison described the talks as “friendly”, Ms Archer said she was ambushed by the meeting and had earlier asked to delay it.
“I didn’t feel like I was being marched to the principal’s office. I just felt a little disappointed that it happened when I had expressed to the Prime Minister’s office that I would have preferred, that my preference was not at that time,” she told news.com.au.
“And I had said in the text messages to the Prime Minister’s office that I didn’t want to have the meeting, before the meeting.
“They sent me a message saying he wanted to see me at 12.15pm. I said I am not ready. I need a break.
“It was a big thing. It was just the emotion of the moment.”
Ms Archer is a child sexual assault survivor who voted with independent MP Helen Haines to suspend standing orders to establish an anti-corruption commission.
“I have found this year incredibly difficult, personally because of my own history as a child sexual abuse survivor,” she said.
“It has been difficult for me to sit with discipline in unity with all this going on around me and it has hurt me. It has hurt me.
“But I am not weak. I’m telling you that I don’t think that some of these things are the right way forward.
“That language being used yesterday about drones and warm bodies. That’s what I said to him. That I am not a drone.”
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