'Maybe if we shake him something coherent will come out'
'The whole situation with the Personal Representatives of the Chair-in-Office is getting surreal'
'Of course, in case of violence, or if they (GLBT persons) get killed, attention to this subject cannot be avoided'
In todays' issue: Editorial * morning highlights * the 'decalogue' recommendations by civil society * other monday highlights * lunchtime side-events*roundtable with the personal reps*spotted*
You lose some, you win less
We've been coming to the HDIM since 2002, and we've seen a lot change. Foremost for the better; an increasing number of NGOs showing up from all of the OSCE participating states, instead of from only the ‘east-of-Vienna' countries. The Tolerance and non-Discrimination Department started as a program in 2002/3 and now a mature and important part of ODIHR. The Personal Representatives of the Chair-in-Office (well, we're not so happy with all of the current ones) and the ODIHR Hate Crimes registration and Reports, all the result of the big Tolerance conferences of the last 8 years and of much work done by many, both ODIHR and NGOs. The OSCE way of working with NGOs lead to faster and more tangible results than at other international institutions, where we NGOs are most of the time reduced to statement-machines, hammering at closed doors, hoping someone will take our cause seriously. There are drawbacks too. So many NGOs now visit the tolerance day(s) at the HDIM that lobbying becomes a feeding frenzy, reading a statement is often cut down to two minutes, and there is often too little budget at ODIHR to do all they want and need to do. After all, most of their money comes from the participating states, which are not always willing to give something for project A, training B or publication C.
The positive side of this HDIM is the new Hate Crime Report over 2008, this time illustrated and highlighted by fancy maps. Simple but brilliant. I should say of course that the new Personal Representatives of the Chair-in-Office are also great. Well, no, only one is, Rabbi Andrew Baker, who's an old hand at the subject (antisemitism). The other two are lacking in several ways. Ambassador Adil Akhmetov, the Rep. on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims did not have a lot to say, although the little that he says is somewhat ambiguous: ‘The role of Hate Crime legislation is only after the crime'. Cringe. He finds things complicated. ‘Islamophobia, Antisemitism, and so forth, these terms are confusing'. Oops. Maybe it is all a language issue. His English was not so good. His predecessor, Ambassador Orhun, was walking around here too today. He's now special advisor to the OIC. You lose some, you win less, in this case. Last but not least, Mr. Mario Mauro, Personal Representative on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions. Turns out Mr. Mauro, who has a history of being not so hot on Gays, Lesbians and Roma, is really only interested in the ‘Discrimination Against Christians' part of his mandate. Here's only one of his inspired remarks talking about sexual orientation: 'Of course, in case of violence, or if they (GLBT persons) get killed, attention to this subject cannot be avoided'. The Greek Chair-in-Office did us all a huge disservice by choosing this man. On a positive note: much work was done again today on the tolerance subjects, much lobbying took place, creating all kinds of new possibilities, projects and directions that will slowly but surely lead us in good directions. Kudos to the ODIHR people, who after all have it tough. After all, who has 56 bosses (The OSCE Participating States) and keeps sane? In closing, here's some attention for a new force on the block, Mr. Larry Olomoofe (photo right), formerly European Roma Rights Centre, since a few days the New Deputy head of the Tolerance and non-Discrimination Department. A well-known and formidable (in more ways than one) actor in NGO circles, smooth, sharp and knowledgeable on all tolerance issues, and a great guy too. ODIHR is lucky to have him!
The morning session started with speeches by the 3 ‘new' personal representatives of the Chair-in-Office on tolerance and non-discrimination: Rabbi Andrew Baker, Personal Representative on Combating Anti-Semitism, Ambassador Adil Akhmetov, Personal Representative on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims and Mario Mauro, Personal Representative on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions (would this title fit on his business card?). While Rabbi Baker had a coherent story and reporting on his activities up to now (see his reports here), Mr. Akhmetov's delivery was somewhat weak and Mr. Mauro's story was plainly...peculiar. The only speech which is not yet online, which is strange. More about that later today.
After these speakers, the usual smorgasbord of NGO contributions started. So many this time that the already limited speaking time per contributor had to be cut down to 2 minutes. Which is a real pain if you have written your piece for 3 to 5 minutes.
The NGOs who had drafted a civil society set of 10 priority-recommendations overcame this by splitting the 10 over two speakers, one from ICARE and one from Magenta Foundation (both yours truly). The set of 10 recommendations (already dubbed ‘The Decalogue' by some) was well received by applause, not a very common occurrence during the annual HDIM and signed by 29 very diverse NGOs from all over the OSCE region. Since we think that this document lists the real priorities for the OSCE during the coming years, we publish it here unabridged. Yes, we facilitated the process leading up to this document and of course we are proud of it
Contribution to the OCSE HDIM 2009 working session 10 on Tolerance and non-discrimination II (continued), October 5, 2009, by Suzette Bronkhorst representing the Internet Centre Anti Racism Europe (ICARE) on behalf of undersigned NGOs.
These Recommendations are the result of the Civil Society Preparation meeting on Sunday October 4, 2009. Signatories decided that the following are the most important recommendations for the several Tolerance issues.
We recommend the OSCE Participating States to:
1.Enact laws that expressly address hate crimes. Recognizing the particular harm caused by violent hate crimes, governments should enact laws that establish specific offences or provide enhanced penalties for violent crimes committed because of the victims race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental and physical disabilities, or other similar status.
2.Monitor and report on hate crimes. Governments should maintain official systems of monitoring and public reporting to provide accurate data for informed policy decisions to combat violent hate crimes. Such systems should include anonymous and disaggregated information on bias motivations and/or victim groups, and should monitor incidents and offences, as well as prosecutions.
3.Strengthen the ODIHRs tolerance and non-discrimination work by: a. Fulfilling their commitment to collect data on hate crime, provide it to the ODIHR, and make it available to the public. b. Supporting the ODIHRs efforts, in line with OSCE commitments, to take a comprehensive approach to combating intolerance and discrimination by reporting on and developing programs, that aim to combat hate crimes motivated by racism and xenophobia, antisemitism, religious intolerance, sexual orientation and disability bias, as well as hate crimes against Muslims and Roma and Sinti. c. Ensuring that the Law Enforcement Officer Program on Combating Hate Crime (LEOP) has the support it needs and that participating states are taking part in this program. d. Providing political and financial support for the convening of regular meetings of the National Points of Contact on Combating Hate Crimes, with the full participation of civil society groups and representatives of specialized anti-discrimination bodies. e. Ensuring political and financial support for capacity building programs for civil society organizations and representatives to document and combat hate crime.
4.The OSCE should commit itself to a non-hierarchal approach to combating discrimination. We call on the Chair-in-office of the OSCE and participating States to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity in: a. Ministerial decisions related to tolerance and non-discrimination and hate crime, and; b. The work of all the OSCE tolerance related mechanisms.
5.OSCE should ask Participating States to take immediate action concerning hate crime against Muslim communities, including data collection and monitoring of violence, and other awareness raising measures that also address the issue of hate speech.
6.OSCE States Parties are urged to uphold their commitments to combat anti-Semitism under the principles of the 2004 Berlin Declaration and follow-up Cordoba and Bucharest statements. The exponential rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the region in the past year highlights the need to focus on incitement against Jews on satellite television and the Internet. We urge the OSCE to convene an SHDM in early 2010 to address specific responses to anti-Semitism, as well as a high-level conference on anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.
7.Acknowledging the continued prevalence of prejudice against Roma across the region and the need for greater protection of the rights of Roma, states should mandate training for relevant public officials to address discrimination against Roma. Training programs should include follow up and accountability on the implementation of the policies and procedures modelled in the training.
8.Bearing in mind the growing influence of the Internet, integrate the role of Internet hate speech into any tolerance-related issue.
9.Consider reconfiguring the position of the Personal Representative of the CiO on combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also Focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions into two separate positions 1 for intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions and 1 for Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination so all the topics can receive the attention they deserve.
10.Ensure that the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are respected and they do not become subjects of discriminatory measures. A fundamental human right to seek asylum should be respected.
Thank you for your attention.
1. Magenta Foundation 2. International Network against Cyber Hate 3. Austrian Muslim Initiative 4. The Citizens' Accord Forum Between Jews and Arabs in Israel 5. European Jewish Congress 6. ILGA-Europe 7. The Canadian Arab Federation 8. The Council for Global Equality 9. European Muslims for Social Cohesion 10. Simon Wiesenthal Center Europe 11. Fair Play Ethnic debate Forum 12. COJEP International 13. B'nai Brith International 14. The Russian-Chechen Friendship Association 15. Federation of Dutch associations for the integration of homosexuality COC Netherlands 16. No Borders Project - Social Action Center Kiev 17. European Youth Forum 18. Universal Rights Network 19. NEVER AGAIN Association, Poland 20. Regional Centre for Minorities, Belgrade 21. American Jewish Congress 22. The Diverse Association, Romania 23. The Bellarussian Human Rights House 24. The Diversity Initiative Network Ukraine 25. Integration and Development Center, Ukraine 26. CEJI - A Jewish Contribution to an inclusive Europe 27. The Greek Helsinki Monitor 28. KISA - Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism, Cyprus 29. SUMNAL Association of Cizitzens, Macedonia
Other monday morning highlights
Oh man, talking about quantity and quality. Mostly the NGO contributions at the HDIM are clear, concise and productive, but the tolerance day(s) are becoming such a feeding frenzy that some pretty weird contributions seep through. Of course there's the usual Raellean UFO delegates who come down from their great big spaceship to tell us that they are called a ‘a sect'by some (gasp) and Scientology has been trying to get credibility by ‘spamming' the HDIM by their speeches, and then there is the stuff I don't even pretend to understand, like but hey, this is all Tolerance and we are all used to it. What's not so cool is stuff that is on the edge (or over) of IN-tolerance. Like the Citizens' Movement Pax Europa we wrote about last week. We had to do something about that, break the 11th commandment that says that you should never ‘diss' another NGO in public. Well, duh. Here's me violating this hypocritical commandment. Have a look at the contributions by Oxana Chelysheva from The Russian - Chechen Friendship Society on Combating Intolerance in Russia. Still going strong, although they have been banned and shut down by the Russian state in 2007 and Oxana Chelysheva is now a stateless citizen on the run, since the Russian Federation considers her NGO a ‘terrorist organization' (most of the OSCE Participating States do not agree with that) and in Russia she is in mortal danger. Every time she takes the floor at OSCE meetings the Russian Federation delegation tries to stop it or walks out, not caring that their serial walkouts have become a hilarious item by now. Oxana's live is far from hilarious at the moment - they should reflect on that.
We have to note that, judging from the contributions this morning, the issue of discrimination and hate against Christians - a.k.a. Christianophobia- has become a real issue in the OSCE region, mainly in the countries east of Vienna. But also hate against, and discrimination of GLBT persons is on the rise. Which at times leads to clashes like this one.
Still, there was a lot of good material. Canada talked about the problems of proliferation of hate on the Internet, and favours action. Cojep International talked about the increasing discrimination of, and violence against Muslims, CEJI recommended to support the creation of more comprehensive educational programmes that will train educators and officials to teach about diversity, tolerance and respect, in order to counter hate crimes, and one of ADL's recommendations was ‘obvious but paramount': The Ministers Council and each of your political leadership should to condemn the rise of anti-Semitism and hate violence. Easy to condemn a marginal hate site, but let's call out the legitimizing of anti-semitism and hate among our own colleagues and leadership.
P.S.: we got a e-mail from Rafal Pankowski (Never Again Association) about the AROK-intervention. Since he does read Russian, he was able to clarify: "Indeed, the translation must have missed the message. From what I read it was an articulate and brave intervention highlighting the persecution of certain religious movements labeled sects, in Kazakhstan (eg.Jehova's Witnesses). The weird language was a quote from some state-produced material agains those alleged 'sects'."
Russian Delegates at their annual HDIM walkout party,
having a jolly good time in the corridors.
Lunch time side events
Preventing and Responding to anti-Muslim Hate Crimes
COJEP International was the organizer of this interesting and well attended side event in the afternoon. Chaired by Bashy Quraishy. The first speaker was Chairperson-in-Office's Personal Representative on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims, Ambassador Adil Akhmetov. He thanked his predecessor, Ambassador Ömür Orhun for all the good work he has done and then told about the upcoming visit of all three Personal Representatives to the United States & Canada. Next taking the floor was Tankut Soykan, the TnD Adviser on Combating Intolerance Against Muslims. He made the point that hate crimes are message crimes, the message being ‘you better get out of here, or worse things will happen' A single hate crime against an individual also has an intimidating effect on the entire community of the victim. The combat of hate crimes is the responsibility of States; if they don't that is a violation of human rights.
In this light it is, to put it mildly, rather strange that out of 56 participating states only two (Austria and Sweden) submitted data on hate crimes against Muslims for the OSCE/ODIHR hate crime report 2008. Countries like France, did submit figures on hate crime, but reported 0 anti - Muslim incidents. Under reporting is often caused by mistrust or fear for authorities. Understandable but a huge problem, if there is no official (recognised) registration of these incidents; authorities can just deny and ignore the fact that they have to take action. Read Tankut's talking points here.
Next up was Ambassador Ömür Orhun in his new role as Adviser and Special Envoy of the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). He reiterated that a hate crime against an individual is a crime against a group. Orhun pointed out that a lot of countries do not recognise hate crimes on the grounds of religious bias. To effectively combat hate crimes against Muslims first some questions have to be answered: How widespread is the phenomenon, how often does it occur, which measures have been taken so far, to mention a few. Education is of the utmost importance to create a better understanding and a more cohesive society in which non-Muslims and Muslims live together. Politicians should avoid using hate speech also media should present a more divers picture when talking about Muslims and Islam. Muslims, on the other hand, should not only enjoy benefits of their new society but also share responsibility, distance themselves from extremism violence and hate.
Paul Legendre, Director of the Fighting Discrimination Program of Human Rights First said that one of the first steps states must take to address hate crime is filling the data deficit. As concerns hate crime targeting Muslim individuals and property, we know from media, NGO, and otherreports that intimidation, harassment, and physical assaults against Muslims as well as attacks against mosques and other symbols of Islam have become all too frequent occurrences. However, there are too few documented and systematically collected statistics to help us to understand longer-term trends and assess the effectiveness of governmental and other efforts to stem this violence. He ended his speech with a number of concrete recommendations to the OSCE. Look here for the full text.
The last speaker was Liz Fekete of the Institute of Race Relations. She mapped out the historical roots of hate against Muslims, Islamophobia is not just a recent phenomena but for instance in Spain in 1567 Philip II made the use of Arabic illegal, forbidding the Islamic religion, dress and customs. In this day and age Muslims are often used as scapegoats, to blame for any and all problems. This is of course just to divert attention from identifying the cause of problems and seeking for real solutions. Lastly she talked about how the constant link to terrorism that is made whenever Islam or Muslims are mentioned, creates an atmosphere of hate and fear which certainly doesn't promote diversity, tolerance and peace. Here is her full speech.
I CARE News team
Side Event Sexual orientation and gender identity in the OSCE Tolerance Mandate.
This event, organized by COC Netherlands, stressed the importance of the Sexual orientation issue, especially in the field of hate crimes against GLBT persons. Have a look here at the speeches by Allison Jernow (International Commission of Jurists) and Mark Bromley (The Council for Global Equality):
Presentation of the Final Draft of the ODIHR Hate Crimes report 2008.
Most pregnant conclusion of data collection on Hate Crimes in the OSCE region over 2008 is that although a lot of countries send back the questionnaire (do you have hate crimes legislation, do you collect data on hate crimes, et cetera) only a very small amount actually sent in data! On Racism and Xenophobia Related Hate crimes, only 18 of the 56 countries contributed data, on Hate Crimes against Roma and Sinti only ONE country, Sweden, 8 countries on Antisemitism, 2 on Muslims, 4 on Christians & other religions, 3 on GLBT and 2 on persons with disabilities. We can conclude that the great majority of the OSCE participating states did not submit data on hate crimes and while there were many NGOs that send in material, the data deficit on hate crimes is still very much a problem. In most countries, hate crimes are not registered as such and/or the understanding of what hate crimes are and the importance of registration is only slowly trickling down to Justice ministries, Police departments and Prosecutors. Even so, things are slowly getting better. Still a lot of work has still to be done by the participating states. New in this Hate Crimes report: very handy maps, which give you right away an impression of the situation. That hate Crimes are on the rise is something that we all know. Now we have to firmly push our governments to take action on data collection.
Have a look at the remarks of Stacy Burdett (Anti-Defamation League) and Floriane Hohenberg, Head of the Tolerance and non-Discrimination department of ODIHR (video).
Civil Society Roundtable Meeting with the Personal Representatives of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office on Tolerance Issues
This meeting in the afternoon gave the 3 new personal Reps the opportunity to present themselves. After an introduction by Floriane Hohenberg, head of TnD, Douglas Wake, Deputy Director of ODIHR, and the 3 reps, the meeting broke up in 3 sub-meetings to give NGOs the chance to ask each personal representative questions. The meeting with Mr. Mario Mauro, Personal Representative on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions, was somewhat absurd. While his mandate is the broadest of all three reps, he proceeded to talk about Christians, and Christians, and Christians. When asked about non-traditional Christians in the Central and Eastern European states he said that those pretty much carried the day this morning in session 10 - which is a slight exaggeration. He furthermore stated that in the OSCE countries west of Vienna the concept of laïcité (separation of Religion and State) was ‘misunderstood'. And while on one hand he stated that fundamentalism is not a religion and as such was very hard to combat, this misunderstanding ‘created the fundamentalism of laïcité' west of Vienna'. He wondered how to ‘return to authentic tolerance and respect'(!) He reminisced about the past: ‘Because of the Jews, who gave such attention to antisemitism, we have now the 3 representatives; at least that is how I understand it. I have to say, twenty years ago, in towns in Italy but also towns in France, you could never hear an antisemitic remark. Now the youth in those Italian and French towns are loudly committing antisemitism!' Embarrassing moment: His TnD advisor Daniel Milo passed him a note, which he read, giggled, and proceeded to read out loud; ‘Daniel writes here that there are many questions on the other issues in my mandate regarding to Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination and that I maybe could say something about those'. Asked by an NGO rep what he was going to do on the subject of Sexual Orientation he stressed that ‘the participating states still had to make it more clear to him if this was part of his mandate. I'm waiting for them'.
Ambassador Adil Akhmetov, the Rep. on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims was somewhat awkward, he just did not have much to say and was propped-up a lot by his knowledgeable TnD specialist Mr.Taşkın Soykan, Adviser on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims. NGOs reps working on Muslim issues rolled their eyes; ‘He has a long way to go'. At the wrap-up plenary part he was so confused that NGOs started to correct him. All in all not a pretty sight. At least one of the good things coming out of this was more attention for the confusion in the terms Islamophobia and Hate Against Muslims and the wish to be more consistent in using these terms.
A picket-line of a Polish family values group in front of the conference venue, making lots of siren-noise with a PA system. Unclear who they are, although after talking to them I understood they were against abortion, for ‘the human rights of Polish people and fathers' and they ‘want their houses back which were stolen first by the German fascists, then by the Communist fascists and then by the Polish State fascists'. It boggles the mind, all those different fascists and the siren did not exactly help, it even got so loud that HDIM delegates inside started to complain - and of course the hotel venue staff.
Also spotted: because of the Jewish Holidays (Sukkot), Chabad Poland had organized a car with a mobile sukkah (click here for an explanation of Sukkot and the Sukkah), sponsored by the security service that also protects the HDIM. It looked quite funny and it seems to be very popular to sponsor Sukkas, since we spotted another (non-mobile this time) at the Warsaw shopping mall ‘Zloty Terassa'. That one was sponsored by...the Hard Rock café. Go figure.
Sunday, october 4
Civil Society Preparatory Meeting
On Sunday afternoon about 30 NGOs came together for a Civil Society Preparatory meeting and discussed possible recommendations for the upcoming Tolerance session on Monday. The meeting was organzed by ICARE and kindly facilitated (room and refreshments) by ODIHR. Since over a 100 recommendations were submitted and the meeting only had 3 hours to go over all the material, it was decided to agree upon 10 most important recommendations and submit those to the Plenary session tomorrow.
thursday october 1
Kazakhstan, is it you, is it me, is it them? (opinion)
The issue of Kazakhstan taking over the OSCE Chairmanship on January 1st, 2010 has overshadowed the first days of the HDIM. The strong Kazakh delegation has pulled out all stops. A complete table in the corridor with Kazakhstan promotion material. Beautiful speeches about the blessings of Kazakhstan and the glorious Kazakh people. We're waiting now for folkdance and a traditional Kazakh tent to be built in front of the venue. In the meantime, those NGOs that have some criticism on Kazakhstan also pull out all the stops during side events (Lawyers of Kazakhstan clamouring against pressure by law-enforcement authorities, others complaining about ‘outrageous activities' of the upcoming chairmanship, the impunity of torture in Kazakhstan), and with flyers and folders directed against the Kazakh government. As I remember it, already 4 years back Kazakhstan made a bid for the OSCE Chairmanship but was politely but firmly rebuked by, amongst others, the USA. This was just at the height of the controversy surrounding the comedy film ‘Borat' (or, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) in which Kazakhstan was depicted as backwards and the Kazakh people as immoral and crazy. Not that those were the only problems with the film.
The issue with the Kazakh bid at the time was rule of law and human rights, and the ‘Borat' film certainly didn't help OSCE delegations to take Kazakhstan more serious. There was even some sniggering and gloating. It is not clear if Kazakhstan now cleaned up its act in these areas or that they just succeeded in securing more support from other OSCE Participating States. Probably the latter. We have to see what this new Chair-in-office brings us. One thing for sure, the Kazakh glossy self-glorifying material already led to a pretty funny counter-action. From the start of the HDIM on, a poster-size photobooklet was distributed which looked like just another Kazakh government publication. Glossy, expensive looking and titled ‘KAZAKHSTAN, Is it you'?, sub-titled ‘The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office 2010'. You can find it everywhere; in the elevators, the lobby, on every floor of the conference hotel. We picked it up out of curiosity, bedtime reading and such. It has huge colour photos of Kazakhstan, its people, its nature, it's sci-fi city of Astana, it's customs, ordinary scenes with ordinary people. But wait, some of those photos are about pretty dire situations, about poverty, human rights....the captions with the photographs are in a strange, ambiguous and flowery English, somewhat akin to badly translated Arab poetry. Some are ironic it seemed...only after a while you realize the book is actually criticizing the Kazakh government. The flap texts at the front and the back bring some clarity (in such a small font that I had trouble even while wearing my reading glasses). Ah, it's a Kazakh opposition party publication! Well, if the intention was to have it look like the Kazakh promo-books brought by the Kazakh delegation, this succeeded completely. Very smart, very subliminal. Kazakhstan, is it you, is it me, is it them? We have a year to find out.
Ronald Eissens for ICARE
Kazakh delegation promo-binge in the venue corridors
Wednesday, September 30 - more nGO protest against Kazakhstan at the osce HDIM
Today during lunch there was all of a sudden a picket line in front of the conference venue, the Sofitel Victoria Hotel in Warsaw. The International Committee for Observation of the Law in the Legal Case against Evgeny Zhvotis were protesting what they call 'his unlawful imprisonment'at the OSCE HDIM. Pregnant detail is that Kazakhstan is taking over the OSCE chairmanship per January 2010 and there are concerns that this will not be good for Civil Society in Kazakhstan, or for Civil Society in the OSCE region for that matter. Have a look here at the video Interview with Yuri Dhzibladze, representing the action committee, explaining why in their opinion the Human Righst Defender Evgeny Zhvotis got an unfair trial.
Wednesday morning was dedicated to The Rule of Law with as sub-subjects abolition of capital punishment, prevention of torture and protection of human rights and fighting terrorism. The afternoon session, which started at 3pm dealt with Tolerance and non-discrimination subjects, including National minorities and preventing aggressive nationalism, racism and chauvinism. This session started with an address by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. Memorable moments: the protest by The International Committee for Observation of the Law in the Legal Case against Evgeny Zhvotis (A lunch-time picket line in front of the venue), The Slovak Republic, in an interesting show of trying to be the best student in the classroom brought out 3 reports, one by the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research, titled Information on the policy of the Government of the Slovak Republic regarding combating Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Remembrance in the Slovak Republic, one titled Information on the Activities of the Slovak Republic in the Area of Improving the Status of the Roma National Minority in the Slovak Republic and one titled Information on the policy of the Government of the Slovak Republic regarding national minorities and ethnic groups. Have a look here
Blue stars, yellow stars
On the tables with information booklets outside the pelnary hall a leaflet appeared of the 'Burgerbewegung Pax Europa' (BPE). They call themselves a Human Rights organization for Freedom and Democracy. "The Citizens' Movement Pax Europa clearly distances itself from all right-wing or left-wing extremists and all xenophobic movements" I always get suspicious when I read a disclaimer like that. Why would you put that in your flyer? There must be something in it that could perhaps make the reader think your either an extremist, a racist or both.
"The Citizens' Movement Pax Europa is open to all those who want to join and support the association's objectives: Democracy, rule of law, and human rights according to the 'UN Declaration of Human Rights' " Apparently the UN charter doesn't apply to migrants, ehh Muslims, ehh Turkish Muslims in Germany in particular. "About 1 million Muslims - 700.000 Turkish - have been granted German citizenship" So? You would think the BPE would be happy that so many wish to become German citizen and fulfill all requirements that come with it. No, BPE is not, they are outraged that there are some 2600 Islamic prayer houses and on top of that 163 traditional mosques "with minarets and dome" Eeeks, minarets and dome, that's scary.... Since 34% of Germans are Protestant and another 34% Roman Catholic how many churches (with bells and tower) would there be? The migration rate of 2.19 migrants/1,000 population (2009 est.) puts Germany on place number 40 of the world migration rate, countries like the Netherlands (34) Denmark (33) and Portugal (29) above them.
The entire leaflet is riddled with so-called arguments why Muslims/Turks (being Turkish = Muslim apparently) should not be allowed to become citizen of Germany or any European country. Turkey should, as an Asian - Muslim country, never be allowed to join the EU. It also lists demands for migrants to be allowed into an European country, it all comes down to assimilate or ship out. It is rather curious, to put it mildly, to see this odious piece of racist propaganda appear during the HDIM, an event where people gather to exchange thoughts on human rights, certainly not always agreeing, but at least trying to debate issues on bases of arguments and most of the time in a respectful manner. The BPE has reversed the EU logo colors, they have a yellow background with blue stars. Folks, the EU yellow stars only have 5 points, no problem there....
Suzette I CARE News team
Monday, September 28 - NGO protest against Kazakhstan at the HDIM opening session!
Although our reporting only starts on Wednesday (September 30) we have to share this moment during todays' opening session of the HDIM. During the opening statement of the Kazahk delegation (Kazakstan takes over the OSCE Chairmanship next year), about 25 NGO Representatives silently stood to protest the sentence of Kazakh human rights activist and government critic Yevgeny Zhovti, who was sentenced last Thursday to 4 years in jail. Read more here...