Thursday 6th September

'I never refused this document'

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List of the articles today

Editorial · Events of the day: NGO's and Governments · more demonstrations: The rRoma and Dalit · Anti(?)-racist · Japan · Restorations


Editorial

"If you want to put the world right, start with yourself"

Many people came to the WCAR with good intentions. For them and for others. Many of them showed this. The non-governmental groups came here with very specific burning issues. With a lot of energy, some of them succeeded to promote their ideas. Meetings, lobby, demonstrations, negotiation, all the methods were put in practice. Sometimes even extreme measures, like a hunger strike, today. This shows that there is a great wish and commitment to serve the community by all means and efforts. They started to change the world, but there is still a long way to go.

Can we say the same thing about governments? They came here to fight against racism to adopt a document which afterwards they will put in practice. But do they look at the real problems from their countries? Do they hear "the voice of the people", of their very specific group from their countries? Do they take the time to meet them and discuss with them? The attitude of stepping out or of warning with stepping out when 'this' or 'that' will not be respected, shows a weakness. Are they ready to start changing the world themselves?

Anca Sirbu

Events of the day - NGO side

The NGO Briefing started with a long list of caucuses who either wanted to speak on a subject or had meetings to announce. On the passes situation no real news; people could still get a pass for today and for tomorrow, just stand in line. We are now in the E range, and F and I will be handed our today. Tomorrow at the last day of the conference it will be 'special session' again but with different colours than the first day. At the end of the meeting a few NGO delegates got up and demanded that either Mary

Robinson would accept the NGO Declaration or came to tell the NGOs why she wouldn't. The spokesman for the U.N. NGO Liaison office said he would bring this demand under the attention of the High Commissioner, he also said that it would be a good idea for the ISC to talk about this in their evaluation meeting of 6:00 pm today. At noon the ISC had a meeting with Mrs. Robinson in which she explained again that she never refused the Declaration but reminded the ISC of the fact that she could not support this document because of 3 paragraphs. She promised the ISC that she would speak to all NGOs tonight at 6 p.m. in the NGO briefing room. Later this meeting was postponed until Friday 9.30 AM .

At 1 pm COBASE held a parallel event called 'The International Project Racism & the West - the theory of inferiority - compensation, responsibilities, education, science, negotiation towards and International Convention to protect cultural diversity. The speakers were as impressive as the title and it was an interesting and positive meeting of religious and non-religious people with ideas to combat racism through a combination of religion and science.

At 2 p.m. the Palestinian caucus held a press conference, basically to state that accusations about influencing the process were not right.

Hunger strike

All day the remaining Dalit members of the Caste caucus have been on hunger strike, sitting at the entrance to the DEC on the ICC side, demanding that India should not do a trade-off concerning article 73 of the Governmental Draft Declaration.

Events of the day

Governmental side
Yesterday evening the EU member states said they would walk if the "Middle Eastern" matter was not resolved somewhere during the night. On Tuesday South Africa had come with a proposal about the contentious paragraphs, and this proposal was used as a basis for the 'informal consultations'. This morning the news reached us, that, although negotiations lasted until 4.30 in the morning, no compromise was reached. The EU has now moved the deadline to tonight. By this morning in the PoA drafting room they still had not gone through (first reading) the document fully. With quite a few para's adopted there are still many to go. So although there's still a lot of work to do, you couldn't notice it, sitting in the drafting room. The same slow pace of the previous days continued. A positive note: a lot of language proposed by NGOs is finding its way into the PoA. At PrepCom 3 Brasil had introduced paragraph 68, relating to sexual orientation, it were difficult negotiations and the way it looks now Brasil will have to go to bat again, because Pakistan announced they will not accept the paragraph. The United Arab Emirates have problems with the term 'gender sensitive' and want to have it removed altogether. This discussion is ongoing.


The series of demonstrations continues at Durban Exhibition Centre

 

Today, Roma and Dalit organisations European Roma Rights Centre brought today to the attention of media and Governments present at the WCAR the issue of the Roma people. Not only people from Europe, but also from other continents went together.

After hard work in the specific caucus and the success of promoting all the proposed articles in the final document, the visibility of the issue was emphasized today by the demonstration. Around 30 people joined the march, and the slogans were: “Roma rights!”, “Stop sterilisation for Roma women!”, “Equal access to education for Roma children!”, “Roma nation!”, ‘Romastan” (state of Roma people).


 

 
The Dalit people followed up the request for their rights by a more extreme measure: a hunger strike, that started in the morning. This will continue apparently till the end of the conference. Some of them joined their Roma colleagues in the demonstration, continuing actually the manifestations started in the morning. “We shall overcome” was their logo.

 

 
 
 

Anti-racist logos can be racist

Sometimes we don’t realize that what is good and very positive for our cause can be harmful for other people. Coming together from all corners of the world, bringing our experiences and our approaches on the issue of racism, having an opportunity for dialogue, allows us to see more than before. This is actually the role of such a World Conference Against Racism. And when the work is not going smoothly (like it happens here), it is exactly because we are so different and we have such different problems. The logo “One Race – Human Race” seems to be (in a European’s eyes at least) a strong anti-racist platform. But apparently it isn’t for a person from another part of the world. Mrs. Sha’an  Mouliert, the representative of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, from United States, comments on this.

“I have noticed here the T-shirts  “One Race – Human Race” and it made me stop and think deeper. Denying the existence of different races will absolve many states of the responsibility of slavery and its consequences. We know that the African Descend Caucus is adjusting right now the issue of reparations and the issue of crimes against humanity. Since the European Union is the one who wants to take out the word “racism” from the document claiming that there is only one race, when seeing the T-shirts, I think that perhaps they are barriers in the process of working out the document and I am surprised to find out that these T-shirts were written as a theme for an anti-racism campaign. From my experience, sometimes very good intentions can have an opposite effect, based on ignorance, based on isolation, on a kind of limited knowledge. This happens not necessarily on purpose, but just on the fact that we base our values on what we know, on how we are able to access information. So, for me, seeing a person from Europe based on the concept of “one race”, made me think that he is not an ally. And we actually are on the same part of the barricade! But I certainly look at reparations!

In our work in dealing with racism, even in my own organization, there are people who think that racism represents just individual incidents, not a systemic phenomenon. The isolated incidents are manifestations of a system (man-made system) that was put in place to not only separate but to dehumanize certain sections of the world population for dominants. It is so much easier to have laws based around race, whether it is apartheid or cast system when you start to dehumanize a person and then criminalize.”

Since we entered the field of the meaning of words, what is your approach of the  word “tolerance”?

“There is a big push in US about tolerance; there is even a magazine called ´Tolerance´, but I find tolerance the lowest denominator. To tolerate something means that you can stand it. If you tolerate me it means that you acknowledge that you didn’t like me at a certain moment. People of color had to tolerate the experience anyway, so for us is a learning experience. We had to tolerate the un-justice all these years and it was not easy. I don’t want to be tolerated. I want to be embraced, enhanced and enriched. I want the other to embrace me, I want to embrace the other. But in order to do that, there has to be an acceptance of who I am. I’d like to be enhanced; when your knowledge and my knowledge come together, they become greater; the skills become enhanced by this. And we become enriched, more full human being.”

                       

JAPAN SHOULD GIVE COMPENSATION

Mr Akira Maeda, director of the Japanese Association for Human Rights of Koreans. IN daily life mr Meada is a professor of law and politics at the Zokei University of Tokyo.

Your organisation figths for compensation of sex slaves?
Yes. In 1905 Korea was invaded by Japan. It was not the first occupation by Japan, but one in a series that lasted until the end of WW II with the capitulation of Japan. In the occupied territory the Japanese introduced colonial rules like the deprivation of names, language and culture. Some 6 million people on a population of 20 million were used as forced slavery labourers and 200.000 women and girls were used as sex slaves by the Japanese military. Japan already offered apologies. There are more demands. In 1991 ms Kim Hakson, was the first one to speak openly about the wrongs of the Japanese occupant. Since then much has happened. We went to the CHR (Commission Human Rights), which is a sub commission of the ILO (International Labour Organisation). The outcome was that Japan has a legal responsibility for its war crimes.


Apologies are only a start. Japan should do a number of things when it comes to the needs for reparation. It should accept its legal responsibility, investigate in what was committed, apology to the victim-survivors, compensate them, ensure the prevention to recurrence of what happened and reform historical textbooks to teach the young generations. To explain this last part. Even an aggressive war that I mentioned above may be described as ‘a holy war’in Japan by some parties. Last year mr Koizumi, Prime Minister, visited the Yasukuni Shrine’. The shrine is a  symbol of militarism. It  houses the memorial tablets of 14 class-A war criminals. Among them wartime personnel and officials who have died since 1853 in  various wars.

How is this in temporary Japan?
If you are a Korean living in Japan, you are not allowed to visit a Japanese school, you have to go a Korean school. If you want to go university you are not allowed to go to a Japanese university, you have to go a Korean university. But you have to learn the Japanese way.
Then there is the famous Chima Chogori case. Koreans that wear their national clothing -Chima Chogori- were attacked in recent years. Their clothes were torn apart and their hair was cut.  There have been reports of 160 incidents in the past years. The mayor of Tokyo, mr Ishihara, said that Chinese people have different DNA than Japanese people and that Chinese DNA is criminal DNA.

Are you satisfied with the outcome of the conference so far?
Last year a number of organisations organised Tribunal called the “Women International War Criminals Tribunal”. Eighty women survivors of Japanese war crimes came to Tokyo and testified about their experiences. The conclusion was a.o. that mr Hirohito was guilty of war crimes and that the Japanese government should give responsibility. It was a people’s tribunal but judges of fame were a member of it and the conclusion could help international justice.
We want the Japanese governement to change its attitude, recognize its past and accept compensation. But Japan accepts no responsibilty,  and still has not accepted legal responsibility. They say that Japan signed a UN treaty in 1951 that freed them of any obligation and in which everything was solved. So, we have to keep on what we are doing.

Reparations

Ms Ferrel Winfree, director of CURE Outreach

What should come out this conference?
Hopefully steps can be taken to begin to implement reparation for people who have been damaged.  Of course, in the USA we face a great deal of opposition from almost anyone from power, whether it is on a local or state or federal level. They don’t wish to give up anything of that power. But again, hopefully the steps that need to begin this process can come from this.

Do you understand the position of the USA?
This issue is the primary one. They have great fear of the world opinion. Everyone else seems to understand that when a debt is owed, it makes no difference that the debt is so large that it might perhaps harm the one who owes the debt to pay it. The size of it should not negate the owing of the debt. That is what a large of people think in the USA: that it is so large that it cannot be paid.

What about the moral side?
When it comes to the opposition of reparations; it is a financial one. But slavery itself was a financial opportunity for those that took advantage of it. So, when people in power would admit that slavery is a moral debt, they think it is over; the moral one becomes a financial one, because a debt is a debt. This is the reason that president Clinton when he came to Africa stood on the West Coast and did not bring the words of apology because that would assume the debt.


That's it for today!

best regards,
ICARE Newsteam Durban.

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