Posts Tagged ‘Cuba’

USA / Cuba: Kinder, wie die Zeit vergeht oder: Versprochen – gebrochen!

Mittwoch, Mai 21st, 2014


Activists Rally to Close Guantanamo and End Indefinite Detention as Part of Global Day of Action — Protests in 40+ Cities Worldwide

Protests come exactly one year after President Obama recommitted
to close down the detention facility

 

 

Washington, D.C. — On Friday, May 23, one year after President Obama once again promised to close the detention facility at Guantanamo in a speech at the National Defense University, Witness Against Torture, Code Pink, The Center for Constitutional Rights, World Can’t Wait, and more than 30 other groups are banding together to say “Not Another Broken Promise!” They are calling on President Obama make good on his commitment to close the prison this year.

The President’s pledge last May came amidst a mass hunger strike at the prison by men protesting their indefinite detention. Since then only a handful of men have been released from Guantanamo, where hungers strikes and brutal forced-feedings continue.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, says: “When I interrupted Obama’s 2013 speech to say that he had the power to free those Guantanamo prisoners already cleared for release, the President said my voice was worth listening to. With most of the prisoners still trapped in the hell of Guantanamo, I wish the President would listen to his own words and close the prison.”

“There is no excuse for keeping Guantanamo open,” says Jerica Arents from Chicago. “The President has the power to shutter the prison and needs to do it, or his promise is meaningless.”

Demonstrations will be held in Washington, D.C. (at the White House, 11 am); in New York City (Times Square, noon); in Chicago (Water Tower Park, 4:30 pm); San Francisco (Powell/Market 4:30 PST); and in 40 other cities in 8 countries, including England, Australia, and Germany. A Full list, with time and place info, is at: http://witnesstorture.tumblr.com/post/82873599205/may-23-2014-global-call-to-action-to-close-guantanamo

“In big cities and small towns, the outpouring of support for the Global Day of Action has been amazing,” says Witness Against Torture organizer Chris Knestrick. “Guantanamo continues to shock the conscience. The people of the world want it closed.”

At the protests, activists will wear black hoods and orange jumpsuits, update the situation at Guantanamo, and perform theatre to dramatize the ongoing abuses at Guantanamo.

WHAT: Global Day of Action to Close Guantanamo and End Indefinite Detention
WHERE: Washington, NYC, Chicago, Raleigh, London, Sydney, Toronto and other cities.
WHEN: Friday, May 23, 2014 (see tumblr link above for details)
WHO: Human Rights and Anti-Torture activists

 

(Quelle: Witnesstorture.)

Lateinamerika: Unberührbare?

Freitag, Dezember 16th, 2011

“Militär schweigt nach wie vor zum „Plan Cóndor“

Donnerstag, den 15. Dezember 2011

von Vicky Pelaez

dictadura militar. Foto: arteyfotografia.com.ar(Fortaleza, 05. Dezember 2011, adital).- In der blutigen Epoche der Militärdiktaturen, die Lateinamerika in den 1970er und 1980er Jahren beherrschten, wurde das größte internationale terroristische Netzwerk des 20. Jahrhunderts geschaffen. Schon sein Name „Plan Cóndor“ (Operation Condor) ließ die exilierten und verfolgten BrasilianerInnen, ArgentinierInnen, ChilenInnen, UruguayerInnen, ParaguayerInnen und BolivianerInnen vor Schreck erzittern.

Eine blutige Hand wusch die andere

Der Plan, der nach seiner Entdeckung die Welt aufrüttelte, beruhte auf einem Abkommen, das die Regierungen von Chile, Brasilien, Argentinien, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivien und Peru 1975 unterzeichneten, um die politische Unterdrückung zu organisieren. Er bestand im Austausch von Informationen über die DissidentInnen aus jedem einzelnen dieser Länder, um sie in der Folge zu verschleppen, sich gegenseitig zu überstellen, verschwinden zu lassen, sie in ihr Heimatland zurückzubringen oder vor Ort zu ermorden. Während die Verantwortlichen für diese Straftaten in Argentinien und Chile inzwischen verurteilt werden, erreicht der lange Arm der Justiz in diesen Tagen auch Brasilien.

Verfolgte der Diktatur wurden in der Demokratie Präsidenten

Die Urheber der Staatsstreichs in Brasilien im Jahr 1964, General Mariscal Humberto Castello Branco und die Generäle Arthur da Costa Silva, Emilio Garastazú Médici Ernesto Geisel und Joao Baptista Figueiredo, die das Land bis 1985 auf der Grundlage von Terror regierten, hätten sich niemals vorstellen können, dass ihnen das Rad der Geschichte eines Tages einen Streich spielen würde und von ihnen Verfolgte einmal Präsidenten Brasiliens werden sollten.

Doch genau so kam es. 1995 wurde Dr. Enrique Cardoso, der von der Militärjunta aus dem Land vertrieben worden war, zum Präsidenten gewählt. Ihm folgte 2003 mit Luis Inácio Lula da Silva ein ehemaliger Gefangener der Diktatur aus der Führung der Arbeiterpartei. Anfang dieses Jahres schließlich wurde Dilma Vana Rousseff zur ersten Präsidentin Brasiliens gewählt, auch sie hatte als seinerzeitige Guerillera unter den Militärs in Haft gesessen und war gefoltert worden.

Militär gewährte sich selbst Amnestie

Häufig bedeutet die Rückkehr zur Demokratie nicht die sofortige Anwendung der Justiz für die von der Diktatur begangenen Verbrechen. Bevor die brasilianischen Militärs die Macht aufgaben, erließen sie noch das Amnestiegesetz, das sie von jeder Verantwortlichkeit für die Repression der Jahre 1964 bis 1985 befreite – insbesondere für ihre Teilnahme am „Plan Cóndor“.

Brasilien, unbekannter Schauplatz des Kalten Krieges

Im Kontext des Kalten Krieges zwischen den USA und der Sowjetunion nahm Brasilien einen besonderen Platz ein. Es handelte sich um eines der wenigen Länder, das diplomatische Beziehungen mit der Sowjetunion unterhielt, welche die Auffassung vertrat, dass lediglich Kuba und das Brasilien des Präsidenten João Goulart (1961 bis 1964) „fortschrittliche“ Länder in Lateinamerika seien. Dies provozierte Washington. Nach dem Staatsstreich von 1964 kühlten die Beziehungen zur Sowjetunion sich auch bis in die 1970er Jahre ab. Viele brasilianische KommunistInnen, darunter der Generalsekretär der KP, Luís Carlos Prestes, gingen ins Exil nach Moskau.

Dennoch kam es ab 1975 – genau zu dem Zeitpunkt, als der repressive „Condor“ über Lateinamerika zu fliegen begann – zu einer pragmatischen, strikt auf den Handel begrenzten Annäherung der beiden Staaten. Brasilien begann, wirtschaftliche Unabhängigkeit von den USA zu suchen, während die Sowjetunion nach neuen Märkten Ausschau hielt, ebenso wie nach Weizen-Lieferanten, bestand doch eine US-Blockade. Aufgrund wirtschaftlicher Interessen wurden die ideologischen zurückgestellt, was soweit führte, dass das ZK der KPdSU die Augen schloss vor der Verfolgung ihrer brasilianischen GenossInnen.

Condor schlüpfte in brasilianischem Nest

Nur sehr wenige wissen, dass Brasilien der Wegbereiter jenes unheilvollen Plan Cóndor war, der allerdings zu diesem Zeitpunkt noch nicht diesen Namen trug. Brasilien begann ihn bereits ab 1964 anzuwenden und zu perfektionieren. Obwohl inzwischen so viele Jahre vergangen sind und es zahlreiche politische Veränderungen gegeben hat, haben es die brasilianischen Militärs doch stets verstanden, die Verbrechen der Diktatur zu verschleiern oder aber sie zu rechtfertigen. Statistiken wurden gelöscht oder verborgen, und sowohl die Unterdrücker als auch die Institution Militär wurden als Ganzes vor dem Damoklesschwert der Justiz geschützt.

Der Einfluss der Streitkräfte ist in Brasilien bis zum heutigen Tag so groß, dass es nicht einen einzigen Verurteilten wegen Menschenrechtsverletzungen während der Jahre 1964 bis 1985 gegeben hat. Wenig ist bekannt, aber über 600 Menschen sollen ermordet worden sein, etwa 150 verschwanden, mehr als 50.000 wurden verhaftet, es gab 2.000 Gefolterte und etwa 10.000 BrasilianerInnen gingen ins Exil. Die wahren Zahlen der Opfer müssen allerdings deutlich höher sein, doch die Militärs weigern sich, ihre Archive zu öffnen, sofern sie diese nicht ohnehin zerstört haben.

Wahrheitskommission erstellt Bericht

Ihre Macht ist in der Tat auch im demokratischen Brasilien so groß, dass Lula es während seiner Präsidentschaft (2003 – 2011) ebenso wenig wagte, eine Wahrheitskommission einzurichten, wie es in der Mehrzahl der lateinamerikanischen Länder der Fall war. Vor wenigen Wochen hat Präsidentin Dilma Rousseff, nach viel Unschlüssigkeit und unter Druck der Arbeiterpartei, der sie angehört, es gewagt, das Gesetz über die Wahrheitskommission zu unterzeichnen. Dieses setzt den sieben Mitgliedern eine Frist von zwei Jahren, um einen Bericht über die Menschenrechtsverletzungen in Brasilien während der Diktatur fertigzustellen. Rousseff unterzeichnete ebenfalls das Gesetz über Zugang zu Informationen, das eine Grenze von 50 Jahren zieht, nach der die Geheimarchive geöffnet werden müssen. Das bedeutet, dass die abschließende Wahrheit erst im Jahr 2035 bekannt sein würde. Unterdessen bleibt das 1979 für die Militärs erlassene Amnestiegesetz in Kraft. Es schützt sie vor der Verfolgung aller Menschenrechtsverletzungen im Zeitraum 1946 bis 1988.

Die Militärs wollen nicht, dass die öffentliche Meinung erfährt, dass sie 1964 Anweisungen von US-Präsident Lyndon B. Johnson erhielten, Präsident João Goulart von der Macht zu entfernen, da er gewiss mit der Sowjetunion sympathisiert habe.

Brasilien als Statthalter der USA auserkoren

Der US-Militärattaché Oberst Vernon Walters – einer der finstersten und zugleich intelligentesten Männer des CIA – arbeitete den Plan für den Staatsstreich aus und wählte den General Humberto Castello Branco als dessen Anführer. Walters verführte ihn mit der Idee, dass Brasilien sich in den rechten Arm der USA in Lateinamerika verwandeln würde. Aus dem „rechten Arm“ wurde nichts, Brasilien wurde einfach in ein Labor der Unterdrückung verwandelt, in dem der „Plan Cóndor“ zu einer ersten vorzeitigen Aufführung kam.

Um die Brasilianer in den Folter-Techniken zu trainieren wurde der berüchtigte FBI-Agent Daniel Mitrione entsandt, den die CIA anwarb, da sie ihn für den Folter-Spezialisten par excellence hielt. In Brasilien schuf er sein Labor für die künftigen lateinamerikanischen Folterer, hier erfand er seinen berühmten „Drachen-Stuhl“. Für seine Experimente benutzte Mitrione Bettler aus Belo Horizonte. Später kam noch die Hilfe des französischen Generals Paul Aussaresses hinzu, der seine perfide Kunst im Algerien-Krieg perfektioniert hatte.

In Argentinien gingen brasilianische Schergen ein und aus

Bereits seit dem Jahr 1964 liefen brasilianische Agenten in Argentinien umher, als ob es sich um ihr eigenes Haus handele. Sie verschleppten Oppositionelle der Diktatur des Nachbarlandes. US-Außenminister Henry Kissinger und Vernon Walters entschieden sich 1975 dazu, ihre Erfahrung bei der Verfolgung von DissidentInnen in anderen Ländern für die Schaffung jener Internationale des Terrors zu nutzen, die den Namen „Plan Cóndor“ trug.

Es darf nicht vergessen werden, das bereits sehr viel früher brasilianische Agenten und „Diplomaten“ in Argentinien, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile und Bolivien an der Arbeit waren, unter dem Vorwand des Kampfes gegen den Kommunismus, der keine Grenzen kenne und künftige Umstürze in ganz Lateinamerika vorbereite.

Bis zum heutigen Tag fahren die brasilianischen Streitkräfte damit fort, die Geschichte zu verschleiern, die Unterdrücker aus ihren Reihen zu schützen und ein großes Vergessen zu erreichen. Nur eine Frage kommt auf: Die Gefolterten – werden sie vergessen und verzeihen können, genauso wie die Angehörigen der Verschwundenen und der Ermordeten?”

 

(Quelle: poonal.)

Siehe auch:

Operation Condor

Libyen: Gadaffis Verdienste für Afrika

Mittwoch, Mai 18th, 2011

“The real reasons for NATO's attacks on the Libyan revolution

By R. T. Luke V. Browne

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, Monday May 16, 2011 - My recent article titled “Is NATO Fighting Against the Interests of the OECS?” showed that the Libya crisis has implications for countries in the African Diaspora, particularly those of the Eastern Caribbean. The first job was to show that the fate of Libyans, and by extension Africans, and the fate of Caribbean men and women are tied together. Our African heritage and experience of the Grenadian Revolution, the Cuban Revolution and the more distant Haitian Revolution inform our point of view. 

There was beneficial feedback. Karina Johnson, a UWI friend from Grenada, was incensed by Washington’s insults to our intelligence. Karina knows too well that American opposition to the Grenadian Revolution had nothing to do with human rights; and is wary of suggestions that NATO fights to protect civilians and to promote Democracy and social justice in Libya. Marlon Stevenson, my countryman, directed me to an article written by Michel Collon, and published the day after my initial commentary appeared, that laid bare the real reasons for American and European attacks on the Libyan Revolution. I bring these reasons to your attention. 

Remember that the USA maintained an important army base in Libya before Gadaffi shut it down in 1969. On October 1, 2008 the USA moved to impose military command over Africa with the establishment of AFRICOM (US Africa Command). All but five African nations subjected themselves to AFRICOM; though no one was willing to host its headquarters. Libya was among the defiant five and therefore subjected itself in no way to Western military control. 

Don’t forget that forty five million Americans live below the poverty line. There is apparently no money in the United States to support schools and public services; or in Europe to finance pensions and to create jobs. The point made by Michel Collon is that there are billions at hand to preserve the excess of the wealthy bankers who plunged the world into a financial crisis, we could allow them to distribute US $140 billion last year as rewards and bonuses to their shareholders, traders and speculators; but we just can’t find enough money to ensure that another group of people could eat every day. 

They only wage war, at home or abroad, to preserve the profit of multinational corporations; and these corporations profit at our expense. They try to prevent the liberation of poor Americans and Europeans as much they try to prevent the liberation of Africa and the Arab world. Why don’t they demonstrate a concern for social justice at home before they wage war abroad? They should know, as we pointed out elsewhere, that Libya is the highest ranked African country by the Human Development Index and that Libya looks out for its “sub-Saharan” African brothers and sisters. 

luke.jpg

I remember when a friend called Jedidiah Francis looked out for me; so I could appreciate what Libya has done for Africa. After arriving in the United Kingdom as a student several years ago, I quickly realized how expensive it was to call home from mainstream landlines and cell phones. The rates were exorbitant but I couldn’t do better if I was going to stay in touch with loved ones. I spent more on telephone bills and less on my other main concerns – food, books and remittances in support of Caribbean families. Other students were in my position and many of them financed their studies through loans from Caribbean banks and by other means. So student loans were used to pay unnecessarily high phone bills; and the student was left with debt and the company with profit. A developed nation was exploiting the wealth of Caribbean countries. Jedidiah Francis was the only other Vincentian at my university and he was my senior. He empowered me when he pointed out much cheaper calling options. That’s what you call economic liberation.

In the 1990s telephone calls to and from Africa were charged at the highest rate in the world. At that time Europe was extracting ½ billion dollars annually in taxes on telephone conversations—even calls within the same African country were subject to the tax—for voice transit on European satellites such as Intelsat. Africa was paying 500 million dollars every year when securing its own communications satellite would only cost 400 hundred million dollars payable in one installment, remove further obligations to Europe and, ultimately, lower call costs. 

So in 1992 forty five African countries came together to create an entity called RASCOM whose mission was to secure Africa’s very first communication satellite. It was not straightforward to find the initial capital, and for 14 years RASCOM pleaded with the World Bank, the IMF and other Western institutions to finance the purchase of the satellite to no avail.  The Western powers were careful enough, though, to dangle the prospect of financing the venture before the Africans every now and then to ensure their good behaviour.  

In 2006, Gadaffi took Africa off its knees. He provided 300 million dollars which was later supplemented by contributions from a few other African sources. Call costs plummeted after RASCOM accomplished its mission on December 26, 2007. Since then, a second African satellite was launched and individual African nations have launched satellites. There was also an explosion of African creativity. By 2020, Collon informs us, we expect the first satellite that uses 100% African technology, built on African soil, and that holds its own against the best satellites in the world—but costs ten times less—to be launched. Jedidiah Francis is to me what Muammar Gadaffi is to a continent.   

Luke BrowneBritain and France were most eager to commence airstrikes against Libya. War is their means of displacing the German and Italian oil companies that make significant contributions to the development of Libya’s infrastructure, including its irrigation systems. These former colonial powers scamper to re-inflate their respective economies and secure an unsustainable energy supply. They approach Libya in 2011 in the same way that they approached the West Indies in earlier centuries.

So to tell us that you fight to protect Libyans when we see the Sultan of Bahrain massacre unarmed demonstrators with the help of two thousand Saudi soldiers sent by the United States is to insult our intelligence. To say that you fight for Democracy in Libya when your helicopters and weapons are used to suppress a democratic uprising in Yemen is to insult our intelligence. Why don’t you fight for social justice at home before you fight for social justice abroad? 

The war is less about Gadaffi’s threat to his people and more about his threat to countries seeking to recolonize Libya and take control of its oil. Colonel Gadaffi is the enemy because he developed relations with countries and companies that do not subordinate the interests of Libya. He offends the West because he uses petrodollars to fuel an ambitious programme to renew Libya’s infrastructure, to build schools and hospitals and to industrialize the country when they could be used to pay the bonuses of wealthy executives in the United States, Britain and France. We are at war because he allowed Africa to become independent of European satellites. Gadaffi is a rambling and ranting dictator because he doesn’t take dictates from Washington, London or Paris or subject Libya to America’s military command. He’s a mad tyrant because he’s Africa’s freedom fighter. 

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of R. T. Luke V. Browne. Mr Browne is a West Indian politician and writer based in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

 

(Quelle: Carribean360.)

Eritrea: Flüchtlinge und globale Flüchtlingspolitik

Dienstag, Mai 17th, 2011

“Human Tsunamis

Refugees and the Failure of Forced Migration Policy

By TRICIA REDEKER HEPNER

The world’s attention is understandably fixed on the post-tsunami nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan and the equally seismic political transformations shaking North Africa and the Middle East. Much speculation swirls around the impact of these events regionally and globally. Will fallout reach the shores of Europe and North America? Will more dictatorships be swept aside by swells of democratization? What role should the international community and the United Nations play?

In at least one country, the answer to the first question is clear, if not the second. And the third is another story altogether.

The Northeast African nation of Eritrea marks its 20th year of independence next month. But the festivities will be marred by mourning. President Isayas Afwerki remains firmly entrenched in the seat of power, claiming with alacrity to have foretold the groundswell overtaking his Arab neighbors while banning television coverage of the demonstrations and reorganizing the military to pre-empt a possible coup. Meanwhile, the ripples radiating from the epicenter of his brutal regime are unrelenting, and the fallout has a human face. Tens of thousands of men, women, and children have fled Eritrea in wave after wave of despair. While some of these refugees make it to the shores of Europe and North America, many more do not. Last week, two boats carrying 400 Eritreans and Ethiopians from Libya to Italy disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea. Fishermen and the Coast Guard are still recovering the bodies – evidence of what Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi calls “the human tsunami” battering the walls of Fortress Europe. In the Sinai desert, traffickers of multiple nationalities work in tandem with security forces of Egypt and Eritrea to extort, exploit, abuse, torture and execute refugees seeking to cross into Israel, where they are summarily labeled “infiltrators” in a euphemistic avoidance of international responsibilities to protect asylum seekers.

If refugee flows are a sign of political meltdown, then Eritrea is a level seven nuclear disaster. Figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees indicate that Eritrea, with a population of only about five million, has been among the top ten refugee producing countries in the world for the better part of the decade. In 2006, it ranked second in the world. In 2007 only Somalis and Iraqis lodged more asylum applications than Eritreans, and in 2008 the numbers of claims filed by Eritreans exceeded those of Iraqis.

The reason? Eritrea spends a whopping 20 percent of its national budget maintaining a military comprised of forced conscripts whose virtually unpaid labor is reinvested in further militarization of the society and economy. The Constitution has been on ice since 1997, the promise of multi-party elections remains unfulfilled and even North Korea boasts greater freedom of the press. Civil society institutions and competing political parties exist only in exile. The list of human rights abuses characterizing daily life in Eritrea is longer than the number of international conventions the government has signed. Torture, rape, and execution are commonplace for those who dare put up a fight. The result? Massive flight. “Is there a worse country in the world than this?” mused a Texas lawyer representing one of the hundreds of Eritrean asylum seekers in the U.S. as we reviewed his client’s case.

As an anthropologist who has lived in Eritrea and worked with Eritrean communities in Europe, Africa, and the U.S. for years, I dearly want to defend this country. But the best I can do is to help defend its displaced, abused, and often forgotten citizens. Together with lawyers, Eritrean activists, human rights organizations, UNHCR staff, and colleagues like Magnus Treiber and Barbara Harrell-Bond, I struggle to place the people of this small African country on the global crisis radar. It’s a tall order in these days of perpetual disasters and mind-numbing statistics.

And the statistics on refugees are indeed numbing. The number of people forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution worldwide stood at 42 million at the end of 2008. The total includes 16 million refugees and asylum seekers and 26 million internally displaced people uprooted within their own countries. These figures, of course, hide lots of things, such as the numbers of people removed by development projects like dam-building, by “natural” disasters, by the structural violence of poverty, environmental destruction, and by the alchemy of desperation and profits that forces people to migrate and often to sell their bodies and lives into servitude of one kind or another. These figures obviate human experience.

But human experience is what anthropologists are always after – how to put life and breath and flesh onto the cold bones of statistics; how to illustrate the concrete meanings of political violence and migration policies and practices as people live them. Among such human experiences are those of nineteen members of the elite Air Force of Eritrea who fled to Sudan a couple of years ago, risking the “shoot-to-kill” policy of the Eritrean government — as hundreds of others do every month — seeking to cross the nearest international border.

In Sudan, they registered with the UNHCR and began seeking both refugee protection and resettlement abroad. Their high-ranking and symbolically significant position as the pride of the Eritrean Defense Forces made them more vulnerable to persecution and punishment by the Eritrean government than many of the 100,000+ Eritrean refugees in Khartoum. However, some of these men used to be soldiers with the guerrilla movement that is now the Eritrean government. They have scant hope of ever being accepted by the U.S. or Canada – the two largest refugee receiving countries in the world – because under some very broad terms of the U.S. Patriot Act and a similar Canadian law, they are considered “terrorists.” This is because they took up arms in an anticolonial liberation struggle against the Ethiopian government more than thirty years ago.

Others in the group are young men who were conscripted. Despite their elite positions, their fate was hardly better than most others in the military and their exit signaled refusal of the sort of complicity that makes life more bearable in such conditions. However, these men are also in for a long and treacherous series of legal obstacles due to international reluctance to recognize military deserters and a 2002 policy adopted by the UNHCR rendering ex-combatants ineligible for resettlement.

Similarly, clauses that exclude those who may have participated in human rights violations or persecution of others also present stumbling blocks when applied to real conditions. Virtually every soldier in the Eritrean military has been forced to guard, surveil, or repress another soldier or civilian at some point, and the majority of Eritrean refugees have been soldiers. The very structure and social organization of militarization and political repression in Eritrea blur the neat legal distinction between persecuted and persecutor so critical in refugee and asylum determination procedures. Even the U.S. Supreme Court got drawn in, when the asylum claim of a former conscript named Daniel Negusie was denied because his assignment as a prison guard – punishment for his own dissidence by the Eritrean government – suggested he was complicit in the harm of others.

In the meantime, the 19 men wait in Khartoum, where Eritrean security officials operate with impunity. On any given day, they may be attacked by an agent of their own government, kidnapped and taken back to Eritrea, or, at the very least shaken down and extorted by Sudanese police or soldiers, perhaps beaten and jailed for being unwanted migrants. Should the UNHCR take the situation seriously and realize these men need protection – an unlikely showing of concern for individuals by a bureaucracy whose esteemed reputation is outshined only by its impersonality, impenetrability, and unaccountability – they may be taken to a refugee camp, where they will still be subject to many of the same pressures, only in more concentrated form. This is glossed as “protection,” even a “solution,” though it is hardly that.

While camps in places like Sudan and Ethiopia may comply with UNHCR policy, they are administered by host country agencies and staff, some of whom inevitably participate in the abuse and misuse of refugees, often under the noses of international staff. A trip to the food distribution center may end in rape and a place in the resettlement queue can be bought (or lost) for a hundred thousand birr [Ethiopian currency]. In Shimelba Refugee Camp, in northern Ethiopia, the UNHCR compound is open only a few hours per week, as impervious to refugees’ pleas for help as President Isayas Afwerki is to political transition.

If elite air force men cannot gain the attention of UNHCR, then the situation is far worse for the average person. Some refugees get sick of waiting – who wouldn’t? – and take their chances. But the routes to escape are toxic. If they make it through the Libyan desert to reach the Mediterranean and finally to Malta or Lampedusa, which only a handful do, new problems arise at the gates of Fortress Europe. Are they really political refugees or just impoverished economic migrants? How will a country like Malta – swamped with tens of thousands of refugees – manage to decide their fate? If they move on to another European country, they face imprisonment and deportation under the Dublin II regulation. Consumer values may tout individual initiative and choice but do not extend to “asylum shopping,” thank you very much.

Those who have the connections and money might hire a smuggler, usually for tens of thousands of dollars, who will take them on a risky and tortuous journey to Southern Africa, then Brazil, through Colombia or Venezuela, perhaps Cuba, then Nicaragua, Guatemala, and finally Mexico, where stuffed in the cargo bay of a bus, or in the custody of a coyote, they will cross the border of the US and ask for asylum. For their efforts at being “above board” – that is, presenting themselves to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – they are welcomed to freedom in America through its prison system. While this may stimulate the privatized prison-industrial economy, it is first and foremost an extension of human rights abuses shouldered by refugees. In detention, they discover legal-dilemma redux: many of the same problems that stalled the refugee process in Sudan follow them to the United States. They are possibly terrorists, or implicated in persecution and human rights abuses; they are cowardly deserters of a sovereign state’s military; and of course, they are always criminals for having the audacity to migrate illegally. But had the legal refugee process been responsive to actual human circumstances, such illegality would be far less likely.

I am compelled to shed light on stories such as these not only to highlight the victimization, suffering, and exploitation that runs through them in every direction like capillary veins, that multiply with each person involved, with each new step through “the system” in which legal and illegal intersect all the time; where the life-force that drives people to make such choices in the name of survival and hope can be snuffed out in an instant for profit, power, or sheer indifference. Nor is my primary intention to malign institutions like the UNHCR, or the asylum system in the US and Europe, which are as full of dedicated and committed advocates for refugees’ rights as they are of infuriating inefficiency, corruption, and bureaucratic senselessness.

My goal is to illustrate the complexity and global scope of human rights dilemmas that structure refugees’ lives, and the failures of institutions, policies and laws designed to manage them as technical problems rather than protect them as human beings. It is not enough to simply address the human rights violations that lead people to become refugees at the source, crucial as that may be. All along the way, refugees face multiple and nested issues that are sometimes endemic and even actively produced or aggravated by the very systems designed to protect them.

While earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear accidents, and revolutions may be dramatic and momentous events, it is worth remembering that their wrenching daily equivalency plays out in political and humanitarian disasters like that of Eritrea’s refugees, more invisible than the radiation seeping into the Pacific but no less poisonous for those affected. As Eritreans mark the 20th anniversary of their revolution, any thoughts of Egypt or Libya will focus on the lives of loved ones lost in the Sinai or Sahara, or those whose fates are yet unknown. Their suffering, and the ripples of despair that radiate throughout the lives of their families and compatriots, is fallout from Isayas Afwerki’s dictatorial rule. But it is also fallout from the international community’s failed, inadequate, and draconian migration policies and laws. The fallout has not only reached our shores – it also originates there. What comes around goes around. Human lives are the currency we use to pay for the failures of modernity.

Tricia Redeker Hepner is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Chair of the Migration and Refugee Studies Division of the Center for the Study of Social Justice, and Eritrea Country Specialist for Amnesty International and The Fahamu Refugee Network. She can be reached at thepner@utk.edu.”

 

(Quelle: Counterpunch.)

Siehe auch:

Eritrea: Refugees and Responsibility

Cuba: Bestnoten für den Waldschutz

Donnerstag, Mai 5th, 2011

“FAO vergibt Bestnoten für Kubas Waldschutz

(Lima, 20. April 2011, noticias aliadas).- Kuba hat in Lateinamerika und der Karibik die meisten als Schutzgebiete ausgewiesenen Wälder. Dies geht aus der Studie „Situation der Wälder in der Welt 2011‟ hervor, die von der UN-Ernährungs- und Landwirtschaftsorganisation FAO vor kurzem veröffentlicht wurde.

Wiederaufforstungsprogramm seit 1990

Die Karibikinsel verfolgt bereits seit 1998 ein Wiederaufforstungsprogramm mit dem es gelungen ist, die Waldfläche der Insel auf 100.000 Hektar zu erhören. Gegenwärtig sind rund 26 Prozent der Landesfläche von Wald bedeckt. Jährlich sollen 57.000 Hektar neu bepflanzt werden, so dass die bewaldeten Flächen der Insel im Jahr 2015 mehr als 29 Prozent betragen wird. Damit ist Kuba eines von zwölf Ländern, die weltweit die meisten Bäume pflanzen.

Nach den Worten von Carlos Alberto Díaz Maza, Direktor des Nationalen Forstamtes und Leiter der Nationalen Kommission für die Wiederaufforstung, stünden 60 Prozent der Wälder unter Schutz, „und dienen dem Erhalt unserer Küsten, unserer Wassereinzugsgebiete und Böden sowie der Naturschutzgebiete‟. Trotzdem man im weltweiten Vergleich gut dastehe, sei es jedoch wichtig, die Wälder weiter zu pflegen und vor Waldbränden zu schützen, so der Experte.

Mehr Schutzgebiete in der Karibik

Die größten Waldflächen in Lateinamerika und der Karibik gibt es laut der FAO-Studie in Kolumbien, Peru und Venezuela, mit 84 Prozent der Gesamtfläche. Trotzdem gingen aufgrund von Verstädterung und landwirtschaftlicher Nutzung in Mittel- und Südamerika große Waldflächen verloren. In der Karibik sind die Waldflächen seit 1990 insgesamt gleich geblieben – was laut FAO auf die Aufforstung in Kuba zurückzuführen ist.

„Die Waldgebiete, die dem Bodenschutz und dem Erhalt von Wasserressourcen dienen, machen sieben Prozent der gesamten Waldgebiete der Region [Lateinamerika und Karibik] aus, während es weltweit acht Prozent sind. Diese Gebiete haben leicht zugenommen zwischen 1990 und 2010 (0,83 Prozent); die Ursache für den Anstieg insgesamt ist die Zunahme von Schutzgebieten in der Karibik auf 64 Prozent. Die Länder mit den größten Anteilen an Wäldern, die Schutzfunktionen dienen, sind Kuba, Chile, Ecuador, Trinidad und Tobago sowie Honduras‟, heißt es in dem Bericht der FAO.”

 

(Quelle: Poonal.)

CUBA: Staatliche Kampagne gegen Homophobie

Mittwoch, Mai 4th, 2011

“Month-Long Offensive Against Homophobia

By Dalia Acosta

LGBT social networks and experts with Cuba’s National Sex Education Centre (CENESEX) announced Tuesday that events surrounding the Day Against Homophobia will last a month this year in this Caribbean island nation.

‘There are places where gay pride day is celebrated; we are going to dedicate the entire month of May to the fight against homophobia,’ said sexologist Mariela Castro, director of CENESEX, a government agency.

‘Although our activities take place year-round, this is the time of greatest visibility,’ she said.

In a press conference held to present the planned events, Castro – who happens to be the daughter of President Raúl Castro – stressed the central role to be played by social networks of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people that have emerged with ties to CENESEX since 2003.

The members of the networks ‘are sexual rights activists who have been participating in organising the activities,’ Castro explained, after pointing to the increase in the number of blogs and other individual communication initiatives in Cuba promoting respect for freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Representatives of the social networks accompanied Castro and other CENESEX experts in the International Workers’ Day march on May 1 in Havana, holding up the Cuban flag and the rainbow flag – the international symbol of the LGBT movement – side by side.

The activities prepared for this month, under the slogan ‘Diversity Is Humanity’, include conferences, debates, films, concerts, exhibitions, street processions of conga bands, and a gala performance by leading artistes and crossdressers in the Karl Marx theatre, which seats 5,000.

The central events on the International Day Against Homophobia, celebrated on May 17 because homosexuality was removed from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases on May 17, 1990, will take place this year in Santiago de Cuba, 861 km east of Havana.

‘Students from the University of Santiago asked us to hold the events there,’ Castro said.

Local groups from Santiago and Las Isabelas, the first of the three associations of lesbians that exist in Cuba, set forth a proposed programme in line with the general objectives promoted by CENESEX and have worked intensely to organise the May 16-17 activities.

Castro also underlined the specific commitment by the leadership of the governing Communist Party to open up spaces for discussion of these issues in the national press, which is controlled by the state and has only timidly and sporadically addressed the question of sexual diversity, generally from a health point of view.

The terms gay, lesbian and transsexual were totally absent from the media in Cuba for decades and, to a large extent, from academic research and social programmes. Isolated cases of public assistance policies, such as support for trans people, were kept silent for 30 years or more.

The congress of the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) held in the second half of the 1980s called for eliminating the taboo surrounding certain subjects in Cuban journalism. But in areas like sexual diversity, the new openness never went beyond good intentions.

The situation began to change, however, with the impact of the AIDS epidemic among men who have sex with men, which gradually brought visibility to this population group, while the fight against homophobia began to be seen as a priority in HIV/AIDS prevention policies.

To that was added CENESEX’s decision, prompted by complaints from trans people in the capital, to carry out awareness-raising work which, more than five years after it began, has grown into an integrated programme that includes aspects ranging from media strategies to legislative proposals.

With respect to the debate in the public health sector on free sex-change operations for transsexuals, at a time of severe economic troubles, Castro clarified that the basic costs of the procedure are covered by international aid funds raised by the institution.

Meanwhile, a reform of the family code, which would include recognition of the rights of same-sex couples and the family’s responsibility and duty to accept and care for all of its members, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, is to be introduced in parliament.

Castro said things are ‘finally moving,’ now that the Communist Party has specifically expressed the intention to involve the media in the effort against homophobia, and because of the possible inclusion of the issue in the party’s next national conference, to be held Jan. 28, 2012.

While waiting for the legal reform to go through, CENESEX has been working with the police, the Supreme Court and the Education Ministry in order to move towards the design and implementation of policies and strategies that would help create an inclusive society marked by respect for diversity.

‘We insist that it is necessary to work closely with teacher training schools and universities. If teachers are not clear on these issues, we can’t do anything. If teachers are homophobic, they will pass on their homophobia; if they are misogynistic, they will transmit their discriminatory attitude towards women,’ Castro said in response to a question from IPS. (END) “

(Quelle: IPS News.)