More than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar in preparation for the World Cup 2022

More than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar in preparation for the World Cup 2022

More than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar in preparation for the World Cup 2022

black and white football net
Laoise Darragh
18th May 2021
 
 

 

The fact that migrants are being exploited in the building of the Qatar World Cup 2022 is not a new discovery. However, a recent report by the Guardian has revealed that over 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar during the construction of Qatar World Cup infrastructure including stadiums, an airport, roads, public transport, hotels and an entire new city. The majority of these workers came to Qatar from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.  

 

The Guardian report unveiled that an average of 12 migrant workers have died each week since 2010. The official cause of death in most cases was said to be “natural causes”.  Based on data obtained by the Guardian, 69% of deaths among Indian, Nepali and Bangladeshi workers were categorised as natural. Among Indian migrants, this increases to 80%. Despite the fact that almost none of these workers had prior underlying health conditions, the Qatari Government stated that “The mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population. However, every lost life is a tragedy, and no effort is spared in trying to prevent every death in our country.” 

 

As well as revealing the shocking statistics of the deaths of these workers, the Guardian report described a number of case studies of individuals and families whose lives have been impacted by the devastating data coming from Qatar. The family of Ghal Singh Rai from Nepal paid over €1,000 in recruitment fees for his job as a cleaner in a camp for workers building one of the stadiums. He took his own life less than a week after his arrival to Qatar. Ghal’s father had sensed that something was wrong and told his son to come home if he could not handle the stress and conditions of the job. Another worker, Mohammad Shahid Miah from Bangladesh, was electrocuted in his worker accommodation after water came into contact with exposed electricity cables. The family of Indian worker Madhu Bollapally cannot comprehend how the healthy 43-year old died of “natural causes” while working in Qatar. He had already passed away when he was found by his roommate lying on their dorm room floor. His family, including a 13 year old son, received around €1,300 in compensation and his salary was not paid. 

 

In an NPR Podcast Interview, the journalist who conducted the Guardian report, Pete Pattisson, explained that these figures do not include those who are injured or collapse on construction sites and died after they are taken off-site or those who die in road traffic accidents on the way to or from work in a company bus. He also explained that autopsies are very rare, and that although the long hours and extreme heat play a role in the high number of deaths, the picture is incomplete and there is more at play here. Often the workers live in terrible conditions in camps far away from work, with 8-12 people sharing a room. Pattisson described the World Cup as a “catalyst” for the history of abuse of migrant workers in the Middle East.  

 

Although there have been reformations of labour laws in Qatar that mean workers no longer need permission from their employer if they want to change jobs, the Shura council of Qatar have put forward a number of recommendations that would remove this and other reformations that have been put in place. In a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Amnesty International calls for FIFA to use their influence on the Qatari government to ensure that all of the proposed labour reforms are fulfilled. A spokesperson for Amnesty stated that FIFA “must act now to ensure that the 2022 World Cup is a tournament to be proud of, and not one tainted by labour abuses.” The European Parliament has questioned Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on his views surrounding the Guardian report, and what actions will be taken surrounding the report.  

 

“The company, which supplied grass for the World Cup in Germany (2006), the European Championship in Switzerland (2008) and the European Championship in France (2016), withdrew their services due to the inhumane conditions and human rights violations faced by migrant workers in Qatar.”

Dutch Company ‘Hendriks Graszoden’ was set to supply grass sod for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.  A spokesperson for the company explained that their decision to withdraw is “certainly a loss for the company. But sometimes you have to make a decision on ethical grounds. ”  

 

Football players around the world have stood in protest of the human rights violations evident in Qatar. Norway, Germany and Netherlands footballers have protested Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers. Norweigan players wore t-shirts stating “HUMAN RIGHTS” and “On and off the pitch”. The Netherlands team wore t-shirts with the words “Football supports change” written on them. German players wore black t-shirts with a letter each spelling out “HUMAN RIGHTS”. However, officials from its football association stated that it was opposed to boycotting the World Cup. Belgium manager Roberto Martínez  has also stated that boycotting the World Cup would be a “big mistake”. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) have been urged by Amnesty International Ireland and Bohemian F.C. to take a stance and put pressure on FIFA to use its position to protect migrant workers.  

 

Despite these protests and calls for reform, FIFA have not spoken up about this issue and migrant workers continue to be exploited and killed in preparation for the Qatar World Cup 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Shapelined on Unsplash

This article was supported by: STAND Humanitarian Editor Amyrose + Programme Assistant Rachel

 

Kids in cages: Biden’s end to his predecessor’s policies causes surge in cross-border migration

Kids in cages: Biden’s end to his predecessor’s policies causes surge in cross-border migration

Kids in cages: Biden’s end to his predecessor’s policies causes surge in cross-border migration

US Mexican border
Emily Murphy

13th May 2021

 
 

 

“Kids in cages” is a phrase we are all unfortunately accustomed to hearing. The migrant crisis and border policies dominated Donald Trump’s presidency, and images of children crowded into tiny, wired confines have since been associated with the former administration. Throughout the past four years and the 2020 campaign, many, including Joe Biden, were incredibly vocal regarding their disapproval, calling for the closure of the facilities and the reunification of migrant families. Only a few months into his term, Biden has made the controversial decision to reopen many of the centers, citing COVID-19 and social distancing as the justification. The President has been accused of using the current virus as an opportunity to continue the policies he helped instigate under the Obama administration; but is this really the case or is Biden just cleaning up the mess that Trump left behind?  

 

According to the United States Border Patrol, the spring of 2014 saw an unprecedented rise in the numbers of Central Americans crossing into the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. When they turned themselves over to U.S. agents, many cited poverty, violence, and unemployment as the reasons for making the journey. It was not uncommon for many groups to include teenagers and children as people had been told by smugglers that having children present when crossing the border typically assured the avoidance of deportation and lengthy detention. At the time, those claims were accurate. By May of the same year, more than 4,000 people were arriving daily and Border Patrol was completely overwhelmed. The holding cells quickly filled and agents began using “sally port”, the areas outside the stations, as holding pens. At this point, it was standard to see women and babies left on concrete floors, in 95-plus degree heat (35-degrees Celsius) for several hours at a time. 

 

When the conditions at the McAllen station became public, the Obama administration quickly began expanding its capacity, building infrastructure to handle single adult men only.  In July 2014, the new “Central Processing Center” (CPC) opened. It was a large, air-conditioned warehouse with chain-link fencing partitions to maximize and designate space. The center quickly became known as “la perrera” or “the dog kennel” due to the industrial, livestock nature of the operation. The facility was criticized at the time, but when Trump instigated his zero-tolerance policy in 2018, there was an international outcry. The policy ended after only six weeks. When Trump declared that families would no longer be separated, smugglers began ensuring people that children were a passport to the U.S, and a new wave began.

 

“On 22 March 2021, Texas Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar released images of a migrant facility in Donna. Some of these images included children sleeping on the floor under foil blankets. Concerns have been raised about the conditions of the centre, with activists suggesting that overcrowding and a lack of social distancing, as well as poor access to adequate food or soap supplies were major issues.”

Currently, the Donna facility is housing 1,000 people, and this follows a large increase in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border in the months since Biden has taken office. So far journalists have not been permitted to enter the facilities as they were during the Trump administration, however, lawyers representing the children, who have entered the facilities have described them as “cramped”. According to Cueller, migrants are supposed to be separated into ‘pods’ of 260 people, yet one of the pods in the Donna facility contained over 400 unaccompanied male minors. Cueller said that these children needed to be quickly moved from the facility into care and away from the “terrible conditions”. 

 

The surge in the number of migrants trying to cross the border has been blamed on Biden’s decision to end the policies put in place by his predecessor. Critics have said that this decision has only invited people to make the treacherous journey. Representative John Katko, R-NY, the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, has said Biden’s rollback of policies that were working have “encouraged cartels to exploit the southern border”, and that the number of people being trafficked into America through Texas is only growing. While migrants have been turned away at the border due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is U.S. policy to take any unaccompanied minors into custody. These minors are to be placed in a migrant facility for a maximum of three days before being placed with a sponsor family, however, due to delays in the system, many children are spending significantly longer waiting for a placement. 

 

Many of the Trump-era facilities have been reopened at 100% capacity under the CDC (Center for Disease Control) advice, despite ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus disease, and the CDCs own recommendations that people remain two meters apart to reduce the spread of infections. As of 22 April, according to the New York Times, shelters for migrant children were 13 days away from maximum capacity. Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, has said that holding the children in the border camps is “in our view, the right choice to make”, the alternative being to send them back. The U.S. government has said that it wants to work with the governments of Mexico and Guatemala to address the poverty, violence, and other root causes of the mass migration. 

 

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy has blamed the conditions on the “mess and wreck” inherited from the former Trump administration, saying that the conditions are “better than what we saw in 2019”. It seems that this attempt to place blame has not shifted the attention of the general public, with activists continuing to lobby President Biden, calling for more action and a better response before the situation becomes any worse.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash

This article was supported by: STAND Humanitarian Editor Amyrose 

 

 

Vaccine inequity: Why it exists + how to solve it

Vaccine inequity: Why it exists + how to solve it

HUMANITARIAN

Vaccine inequity: Why it exists + how to solve it

"I got my COVID-19 vaccine" sticker
Seán Sexton

10th May 2021

 
 
The race is on to get as many jabs as we can into the arms of the human population. This requires a global effort to immunize the entire population and prevent further infections. However, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, recently said that a mere 10 countries account for 75% of the total vaccines rolled-out, with 130 countries not having received any vaccines so far. 90% of those in low income countries will probably not receive a dose this year. Poorer countries are at a disadvantage to their more wealthier counterparts. There is a need to ensure that every country gets its fair share of doses, in a bid to drive down transmission and prevent further fatal mutations which could spread to other countries. It’s clear that a  global emergency requires a global solution; to end the vaccination gap between the global North and South. With that in mind, why is there such a disparity? What is at stake? How can we, Ireland, help out other countries in ensuring fairer distribution and overall improved vaccine equity?

 

The pandemic has exacerbated healthcare inequalities around the world, disproportionately affecting those in poorer countries. A grim figure suggests that if the 20 most vulnerable countries in the world had an active infection rate of 0.4%, these countries will run out of ICU beds. A study from the Imperial College indicates that low and lower-middle income countries are at a 32% increased risk of dying from the virus due to lack of access to treatment, high exposure to the virus and lack of protective measures. Distributing medical equipment, clean water and sanitation products to poorer rural regions of the world can be challenging. We also know that variants can impose strains on hospitals, as they mutate into more infectious forms. Poorer countries bear the brunt of the pandemic with more strains to their healthcare systems and already existing healthcare access inequities are widening.

 

Delivering vaccines to countries in conflict will also be an obstacle in achieving global inoculation. When examining outbreaks of infectious diseases, the risk is increased in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence. By the middle of 2022, only 2 out of 20 countries with the highest levels of conflict worldwide are forecasted to be largely vaccinated with the rest waiting until 2023 or later to be largely vaccinated. Policy measures which are supposed to curtail the virus have been weaponized by the conflict parties to increase state control and suppress opposition. For example, in Colombia, armed groups have taken over parts of the country and have threatened, killed and attacked people for breaching lockdown rules. This amplifies mistrust in people in power which could undermine the vaccine roll-out in their countries. It could also enable abuse of power, leading to unfair distribution of doses by the state. These countries have faced economic downturn, damaged healthcare infrastructure and lack of resources to ultra cold freezers, healthcare staff etc., all of which are necessary to set up a workable vaccination strategy. The logistical challenges in these countries makes it even more difficult to have fair vaccine equity.

 

“Refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants also face barriers in accessing vaccines. 80 million people are forced to be displaced in excess of 100 countries. This demographic group is more vulnerable to other population groups. Some live in refugee camps and deportation centres where there is little to no room to implement public safety measures.”

Furthermore, refugees also face unequal access to healthcare, increased risk of exploitation and poor working conditions. A disappointing 57% out of only 90 countries developing a vaccination programme are including refugees as a priority group. Many stateshave a history of discrimination and xenophobia, creating mistrust and warranting a more education-based approach to beat the stigma. Moreover, some  fear excluding other groups in place of displaced people in case controversy arises over vaccination rollout and order of priority. 

 

The vaccination disparity needs ambitious and innovative solutions to reduce accessibility issues . The access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is designed to “accelerate development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines”, according to the World Health Organisation website. It was first set up after G20 called for a collaborative response to the pandemic back in March 2020. Some of the participating organisations involved include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, the World Bank and the Global Fund. This is an initiative set up with the help of scientists, philanthropists, governments, business and global health organisations. It aims to provide medium term solutions, reduce the spread, make tests and treatments more accessible and to restore economic activity and societal growth. Since its launch they have reviewed healthcare systems of over 100 countries, procured treatment for 2.9 million patients in relatively low income countries and plan to make 120 million diagnostic tests available for low income countries.

 

Within the ACT Accelerator, the COVAX pillar is established to end vaccine inequity by ensuring each country is able to inoculate 20% of their population. Co-led by WHO, Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) along with UNICEF, it pools a portfolio of 10 vaccines to eliminate competition and ensure a quicker and fairer distribution of doses. This involves negotiation with pharmaceutical companies on fairer prices to poorer countries, especially in the global South. Over 180 countries are participating in this scheme. It hopes to deliver 2 billion vaccines doses in 2021 with around 1.3 billion of those to low income countries. 92 low income countries benefit from this. However, a buffer of up to a maximum of 5% of each participating country’s stock is used as a backstop if their national vaccination programmes fail to reach certain populations such as displaced people and frontline workers.

 

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has announced that they will work with Gavi to ensure that displaced migrants are prioritised in their countries’ national vaccination plans.  However, it is limited in terms of directly implementing vaccination programmes. UNHCR works with its partners to increase vaccination uptake and to support vaccination roll-out with refugees being considered. 

 

A European response has also been launched by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. The EU Vaccine Sharing Mechanism aims to permit EU member states to donate surplus vaccines to non-EU countries. In a continent with 450 million people, Europe has managed to secure 2.9 billion doses with plenty to share, albeit COVAX is considered the preferable route for pooling vaccines. ‘The Global Goal: Unite for Our Future’ was a summit to acquire €6.15 billion in additional funding for countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence, including €4.9 billion from the European Investment Bank, €485 million from the EU member states as well as pledges from non-EU countries like Canada and Japan and even private stakeholders like FIFA and Vodafone. The European Commission has successfully sourced around €15.9 billion as part of the Coronavirus Global Response.

 

These collaborative, multilateral projects are welcome in the midst of a global emergency. Both of them have received firm backing from the G7, with investment of around US$7.5 billion. The G20 are also under pressure to address the financing gap for COVID therapeutics and diagnostics. But the potential financial dividend makes economic sense; a successful vaccination programme which will save the global economy US$375 billion per month. 

 

There have been calls for a waiver of Trade and Intellectual Property Rules (TRIPs) for vaccines including from former president and UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson. She isn’t the only one  150 global leaders and Nobel laureates have signed an open letter to US president Joe Biden. With cases surging in India and other countries at the moment, there has also been increasing pressure in the Dáil for our government to support the waiver to no avail. The European Commission, the US and other high income countries have said that they oppose the patent waiver at a World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting held in March this year. Supporters argue that this waiver would allow countries all over the world, but especially in the global South, to manufacture vaccines and therefore increase vaccine supply and lower costs.  

 

If there is one thing is certain, it is this: vaccine nationalism only serves relatively wealthy nations. In the interest of a timely immunization, a two-pronged approach encompassing private deals with pharmaceutical companies, to cater for their own population and fair distribution of vaccines to vulnerable countries everywhere, for the greater public good. But, successful vaccine equity distribution is also underpinned by public trust and peaceful governance, especially in countries which have been damaged by the state. This sentiment is even shared by Simon Coveney, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who emphasized, at the UN Security Council meeting held in February 2021, the need to uphold ceasefires and pause hostilities to allow humanitarian aid. We also need to make sure to tackle misinformation and to educate people on the facts about the virus and the vaccine. Ireland has now a seat on the UN Security Council and is a member of the EU. Our potential global imprint is significant when we act collectively with other countries. We need to look outward and be an active global citizen: no one is safe until everyone is safe.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Marisol Benitez on Unsplash

This article was supported by: STAND Humanitarian Editor Amyrose Forder

 

 

Myanmar: human rights ignored as civil war looms

Myanmar: human rights ignored as civil war looms

HUMANITARIAN

Myanmar: human rights ignored as civil war looms

signpost saying 'free people from myanmar'
Kate Bisogno

6th May 2021

 
 

 

The current unrest in Myanmar is not solely a threat to the possibility of future democracy, it is an infringement of the fundamental human rights of citizens. Ever since the country gained independence from British rule in 1948, Myanmar, also known as Burma, has experienced both the violence of military rule and the controversy of a quasi-democracy. The National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, received an outright majority in the 2020 elections. The military responded with voter fraud allegations and viewed the result as a vote on the popularity of Aung San Suu Kyi. Although the election commission rejected these allegations, on 1 February 2021 the military announced a state of emergency and a year long coup d’etat. Since the coup began, hundreds of innocent lives have been lost and thousands have been injured, detained, or both. With military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing in power, a ruthless approach has been used to terminate protests (many of which remain peaceful) and strict measures have been put in place, such as curfews and a nationwide internet shutdown. The events of the coup are seen on a global scale as a violation of international human rights. Numerous countries have condemned the actions of Myanmar’s military and imposed sanctions, but is this enough to put an end to the brutality?

 

Violence has consumed the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar. According to Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), almost 600 deaths have occurred as a result of the unrest since the 1st of February. Of those, more than 40 were children. On 27 March, the deadliest day since the coup began, more than 100 people were killed. The military’s response to protestors has been brutal. Security forces have used water cannons, rubber bullets and live ammunition in an attempt to disperse protesters. There have been reports of security forces opening fire at protesters and demolishing barricades. An opposition group, the Karen National Unions (KNU), stated that the “inhumane actions against unarmed civilians have caused the death of many people including children and students.” They continued, stating “these terrorist acts are clearly a flagrant violation of local and international laws.”

 


Not only have civilians been injured and killed, but thousands have been detained, many of whom’s whereabouts are unknown. It has been reported that approximately 2,751 people have been detained or sentenced, the vast majority without charge. Among those detained are the leaders of the NLD, along with President U Win Myint. The nation’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was arrested when the coup began and has recently been charged with violating a colonial-era official secrets law. Cabinet ministers, politicians, journalists, protesters, activists and even children have been taken into custody. More than 60 warrants have been issued against cultural celebrities in an effort to silence any opposition to the coup.

 

“Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the Myanmar military, often referred to as the junta, has “forcibly disappeared hundreds of people” since the coup began. Brad Adams, the HRW Asia director said “the junta’s widespread use of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances appears designed to strike fear in the hearts of anti-coup protesters.” Innocent citizens have been taken from their homes and their whereabouts have not been disclosed to loved ones.”

These actions are an evident violation of fundamental human rights. Under international human rights law, an enforced disappearance occurs when authorities detain an individual while concealing the fate or whereabouts of the person. They are placed outside the protection of the law. Forcibly disappeared people are commonly subjected to torture or extrajudicial execution. “Enforced disappearances are grave violations of international law, and when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population, are crimes against humanity.”

 

In an attempt to contain the protests, the military has imposed a range of restrictions, including the implementation of curfews and limits to gatherings. In what looks like an attempt to disrupt any flow of communication, not only have the military taken control of media outlets and detained journalists, they have recently cut all wireless internet services. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications instructed telecoms companies to cease wireless broadband internet services, making any opposition to the coup significantly weaker.

 

The actions of the Myanmar military have been condemned at a global level. Some 300 Myanmar MPs have urged the United Nations to investigate “gross human rights violations” that they claim have been carried out by the military. The European Union, the UK and the US have responded to the events by imposing sanctions on the junta. Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, has accused the security forces of a “reign of terror”. Although sanctions have been imposed by the UN and Western governments, they have little to no authority over the actions of the junta. Both the military and the protestors are determined not to surrender, meaning internal conflict and human rights violations will undoubtedly increase. A political scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, Thitinan Pongsudhirak wrote that instead of the hope of a stable democracy, the country faces “the imminent threat of economic collapse” … “perhaps even a full-fledged civil war.” Western governments may have the ability to save the people of Myanmar by redirecting development aid from the military toward civil society. It is necessary for individual countries and international NGOs to reorganise their aid programmes. A new approach must be adopted which recognises the inevitable instability that occurs when countries such as Myanmar are in the midst of transitioning from military rule to democracy.

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Gayatri Malhorta on Unsplash

 

 

Australia’s rebuke of international justice in Palestine 

Australia’s rebuke of international justice in Palestine 

HUMANITARIAN

Australia’s rebuke of international justice in Palestine 

"no one is illegal"
Alisha Lynch

5th May 2021

 
 

 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) investigates and, where applicable, prosecutes those accused of the world’s most severe crimes. As stated on their website, this is a“court of last resort”and one that works respectively with national courts. The ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict has been subject to this court for the Israeli government’s continuation of imposing extreme andconfining restrictionson Palestinian human rights. They have continued to restrict the movement of people and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip, and are facilitating the illegal transfer of Israeli citizens to settlements in the occupied West Bank. 

 

In February, the International Criminal Court issued a landmark judgement stating that the prosecutor of the court has the authority to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine. What was surprising about this trial was the statement made by Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne, stating;“Australia has deep concerns with the ruling of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court” and the court“should not exercise jurisdiction in this matter.”  Australia is a member of the ICC andclaims to advocate  for  humanrights. Just the month before, Australia condemned China fortheirabuses against Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang region. So why is Australia overlooking the human rights abuses in Palestine?Australia’s rebukeof international justice inPalestineis not really abouthuman rights but more of a geopolitical stance. Australia has consistently supported Israel in its decisions, but why are they so quick to defend them? 

 

“Unsurprisingly, Australia is an ally of the United States of America, which has been a firm supporter of Israel since the 1960s. The United States of America has prioritized the continuation of a close and supportive Israel–United States relationship. Support for Israel is nearly unconditional for the US government and remains a vital issue in domestic US politics.”

Also, Australia does not recognise the‘State of Palestine’which was part of Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s statement. Another reason is the growing tension between China and Australia causedbythetrade conflict between the two countries and most recently Australia criticising the horrific treatment of Uighur Muslims in China. Nevertheless, Australia cannot be called a supporter of  human rights if they are trying to block international justice for Palestinians, anindigenous group within the West Bank. This begs the question: is Australias defence of Israel a result of bothsettler statesdispossessingtheir indigenous populations? Australias alarming stance and supportofthe Israel government has shown that theircontinuing  and condoning behaviouris  segregating indigenous people from the wider population. Furthermore, it shows that thisnationhas yet to come to terms with its own history. 

 

Australia is home to around 15,000 Israelis and also has many pro-Israelipressure groups. One of these groups is called the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), which was established in the year 1927, in Melbourne. Although the lobby in the United States is most aggressive, Australia beingan ally,is seeing pressure from these groups and some Australian politicians like Melissa Parke havebeen falsely accused of antisemitism by groups like the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).Thefalse accusation ofpoliticianshas been utilised as aweaponof toutedanti-discriminationby those who do not recognise Palestine.Is this  weaponization silencing people, especially government officials, from speaking out against Israel’s actions? 

 

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s  statement shows  that the country has much to overcome and, most of all, Australia’s rebuke of international justice for Palestine is dangerous. For years Palestinians havebeensubject toseverecrimesand now,in the wake of a pandemic, Palestinians are victims of a vaccine segregation effort made by the Israeli government. The ICC’sjudgement to investigate Israels oppressive actions is now allowing for hope and justice. Australia claims it is an advocate for human rights, but  its  stance on Palestine shows otherwise. Australia is using this as a progression of geopolitics, where instead this should be about the safety of real people and showing supportforthe ICCs decision to bring warcriminalsto justice.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Mike Guziuk on Unsplash

 

 

The Rohingya: Myanmar’s stateless nation

The Rohingya: Myanmar’s stateless nation

HUMANITARIAN

The Rohingya: Myanmar’s stateless nation

poster states "we don't accept military coup"
Rachael Kenny

21st April 2021

 

 

Myanmar has made the headlines recently due to mass protests that have erupted because of the military coup that began on 1 February. However, the chilling story of the Rohingya people which remains ongoing has been somewhat cast away by the media. This story gathered fleeting attention back in 2017 when a military operation began involving prosecutions of the Rohingya people. The Rohingya are a stateless nation who have lived under the discrimination and repression of successive Myanmar governments for decades. 

 

The Rohingya are a mostly Muslim minority who originate from Myanmar’s Rakhine State, a region in the western part of the country. In 1982 a Citizenship Law stripped the Rohingya of their Burmese citizenship (Myanmar was then Burma) and subsequently denied children born to Rohingya parents thereafter the right to a nationality. To deny the Rohingya the right to citizenship and nationality was to declare them stateless. Statelessness has been described by the UN Refugee Agency as discriminative and debilitating. As stateless people, the Rohingya have no national identity. Typically, stateless people experience difficulties accessing basic human rights such as education, healthcare, and freedom of movement, amongst other difficulties. Arbitrarily stripping these people of their national identity became part of a dark and dangerous story for the Rohingya. 

 

A military crackdown on the Rohingya people by Myanmar’s armed forces and police began in August 2017. The conditions of this military clearance operation’’ led to killings, rapes and gang rapes, torture, and forced displacement. During this period villages were being burned to the ground. According to Human Rights Watch, since 2017 around 900,000 Rohingya have been living in cramped camps in Bangladesh and the estimated 600,000 still living in the Rakhine State are confined to camps and villages without access to adequate food, healthcare, and education, and are being denied freedom of movement. Sexual violence against Rohingya men, women and children became a tool of war used by the military.

 

 
 

“Human Rights Watch and Fortify Rights outlines the widespread use of sexual violence against the Rohingya people as “a calculated tool of terror aimed at the extermination and removal of the Rohingya as a group”.”

 

Although the military operation only briefly made the news in 2017 it has since been described by the United Nations as almost genocide. 

 

The statelessness of the Rohingya people is a situation that remains intense and dangerous today. The United Nations has described Rohingya as ‘’the most persecuted minority in the world’’. This year, on 22 March, a fire tore through a displaced person camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh where an estimated 87,000, mostly Rohingya were caught up in the blaze. The fire has displaced more than 45,000 Rohingyas from the camp. This fire was not the first of its kind, fires often break out in over-crowded camps. The Rohingya have been forced to flee their home country and seek shelter elsewhere. However, conditions in camps they seek aid in can often be difficult and dangerous. 

 

The Rohingya people lost their national identity and right to citizenship in 1982 and have experienced countless human rights breaches and persecutions over the decades and their circumstances remain unchanged. They have lost not only their identity but their home, their loved ones, and their basic human rights. Although the news coverage of the stateless Rohingya people has somewhat subsided their situation remains critical. The Rohingya are victims of ethnic cleansing and their horrific experiences are tough to comprehend. The rest of world has failed them by doing close to nothing to help them after decades of torment since 1982. 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Gayatri Malhorta on Unsplash