United Nations: China is running forced re-education camps for Muslims and ethnic minorities

One million ethnic Uigurs are being held in a "massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy" by the Chinese government, says a United Nations Human Rights panel that has received multiple credible reports to back up their claim (this story has been percolating all summer long). According to Gay McDougall of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, you can tack an additional million people on to that initial figure: it’s estimated that another one million Muslims living in China’s western Xinjiang autonomous region have also been sent to similar camps for political indoctrination. The reasoning for this, according to Reuters, is that China’s sovereignty in the western Xinjiang autonomous region is being threatened by separatists and Islamic militants. The Uigurs mostly identify as Muslim, so there you go.

At the meeting in Geneva, McDougall was quoted as saying:

“We are deeply concerned at the many numerous and credible reports that we have received that in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability (China) has changed the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of ‘no rights zone.”

The Chinese, for their part, have responded, "nuh-uh."

From The Globe & Mail:

The Chinese government has flatly denied rounding up large numbers of Muslims into internment centres for political indoctrination, telling a United Nations committee that such places do not exist.

The idea that “Xinjiang is a ‘no-rights zone’ is completely against the facts,” Hu Lianhe, deputy director-general of the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, told members of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva Monday.

Read the rest

Canadian scolding of Saudi Arabia's human rights violations means nothing if they continue to sell them weapons

I’m a proud Canadian. I’m proud that my nation took a stand against the human rights practices in Saudi Arabia. Maybe you’ve read about it. Earlier this week, Canada’s Minster of Foreign Affairs tweeted that our nation was less than impressed with Saudi Arabia’s arrest of a woman’s right activist. It’s a sentiment echoed by Human Rights Watch and the United Nations.

From The Guardian:

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia had arrested the women’s rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah. The arrests were the latest in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists. More than a dozen women’s rights activists have been targeted since May.

Most of those arrested campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the country’s male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions.

On Friday, Canada said it was gravely concerned about the arrests, including Badawi’s. Her brother Raif Badawi, a dissident blogger, has been imprisoned since 2012. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

As a result of Canada commenting on the Saudi treatment of these individuals, the Saudi Arabia kind of lost its shit: After tweeting that no one would be allowed to dictate how the nation administrated its people, the Saudi government called its ambassadors to Canada home and gave Canada’s ambassador to the nation 24 hours to get out of Dodge. The Saudis followed up by ordering many of its citizens who were attending university at Canadian institutions home and messing with established trade deals it holds with Canada. Read the rest

Report estimates over 400,000 slaves currently live in the US

Based on their 2018 Global Slavery Index, the Walk Free Foundation estimates there are about 403,000 humans living in the United States under conditions that meet the definition of slavery. Read the rest

Student blocks deportation of Afghan asylum-seeker by refusing to sit down and let the plane take off

Elin Ersson is a 21 year old Swedish social work student who boarded a plane at Gothenburg airport yesterday and refused to sit down until an Afghan asylum-seeker who was to be deported that day was offloaded and allowed to remain in Sweden. Read the rest

China is sending its ethnic minorities to torture camps to be brainwashed out of Islam

During the Cultural Revolution, millions of dissidents (and those suspected of dissidence) were sent to "re-education camps" where torture and slave labor were augmented by marathon "self-criticism" sessions where prisoners would have to engage in prolonged recitations and disavowals of their heresies. Read the rest

Trump sends 1,000 immigrants to Mojave Desert prison, staff say it's unsafe & predict 'detainee deaths'

'Disease outbreaks and a lack of medical personnel await those imprisoned in Victorville, California.' Prison staff in Victorville say immigrant detainees are treated like 'cockroaches.' There's already an outbreak of scabies and a case of chicken pox among the detainees. Read the rest

'Toddlers are being detained.' 3 Trump 'Tender Age' immigrant baby jails confirmed, more are coming

“Toddlers are being detained.” Read the rest

The UN's top free speech expert just denounced the new EU copyright plan as a "potential violation of international human rights law"

David Kaye (previously) is the UN's Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression; he just released a detailed report on the catastrophic free speech implications of Article 13, the EU's proposed copyright rule that would make sites filter everything their users post to check for copyright violations. Read the rest

North Korean escapee makes heartfelt plea to Trump to hold Kim Jong-un accountable for his atrocities

When Yeonmi Park was just 13 years old, after suffering inhumanely under the North Korean regime, she and her family escaped to China (and eventually to South Korea).

She is now 24 years old and has become a vocal advocate for human rights in the country she once fled from. In this New York Times video, this brave young defector describes the terrible conditions for people in her home country and asks Trump to hold its dictator Kim Jong-un accountable for these human rights violations.

You may remember Park from a few years ago when she told her story at the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin, Ireland:

If her story interests you, give her powerful and inspiring 2016 memoir, In Order To Live, A North Korean Girl’s Journey To Freedom, a read:

Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country’s dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market, a risk he took in order to provide for his wife and two young daughters, Yeonmi and her family were branded as criminals and forced to the cruel margins of North Korean society. With thirteen-year-old Park suffering from a botched appendectomy and weighing a mere sixty pounds, she and her mother were smuggled across the border into China.

I wasn’t dreaming of freedom when I escaped from North Korea.

Read the rest

Tanzania's independent websites, podcasts and video channels have gone dark as the country's new blogger tax goes into effect

As of this Friday, anyone operating an independent online presence in Tanzania will have to pay a licensing fee equivalent to an average year's wages, and submit to a harsh set of censorship rules, as well as an obligation to unmask anonymous posters and commenters, with stiff penalties for noncompliance. Read the rest

Uganda enacts unenforceable, ridiculous anti-"gossip" internet tax

At the urging of Uganda's corrupt dictator Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan parliament has enacted legislation imposing a daily tax on anyone using social media platforms; Museveni said the measure would curb "gossip," while Matia Kasaija claimed it would fund security and electrification efforts. Read the rest

Torturer and coverup artist Gina Haspel tried to bow out of CIA Directorship to avoid Senate questioning

Gina Haspel is a 33-year veteran of the CIA, notorious for overseeing a torture camp in Thailand where rendered suspects were subjected to simulated executions; Haspel is also notorious for participating in a mass coverup of CIA torture, helping to destroy over 100 videotapes of abuses that took place under her direction. Read the rest

John Oliver on America's immigration courts, where families are torn apart and young children represent themselves

John Oliver is in very good form in this 18-minute explainer on America's ghastly immigration courts, where "we try death penalty cases like it was traffic court," forcing refugee claimants (even children as young as three years old) to represent themselves in deportation proceedings where their very lives are at stake. Read the rest

Alabama is home to the worst poverty in the developed world

In a country that has so much, it should be a crime to leave the less fortunate with so little. But it isn't, so here we are: As part of a United Nations study on poverty and human rights abuses in America, researchers have stated that rural Alabama is home to the worst poverty in the developed world.

According to Advance Local,  the U.N. Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, was shocked at the level of environmental "degradation," economic inequality and systematic racism in the state:

Of particular concern to Alston are specific poverty-related issues that have surfaced across the country in recent years, such as an outbreak of hookworm in Alabama in 2017—a disease typically found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa.

You should know that economic inequality and racial discrimination lend themselves to civil rights abuses. That makes poverty a human rights issue.

A lot of us, including myself, live comfortably enough. I know where my next meal is coming from. Too many of our fellow citizens aren't as fortunate. The fault for this, according to Alston, can be laid at the feet of our governments:

“The idea of human rights is that people have basic dignity and that it’s the role of the government — yes, the government! — to ensure that no one falls below the decent level,” he said. “Civilized society doesn’t say for people to go and make it on your own and if you can’t, bad luck...

Read the rest

Dissidents are getting destroyed by information attacks and tech isn't doing enough to help

A pair of researchers have written an eye-opening editorial and call to action on the ways that repressive states have used the internet to attack dissidents, human rights advocates and political oppositions -- and how the information security community and tech companies have left these people vulnerable. Read the rest

Rod Serling: human rights activist as science fiction showrunner

Science fiction author Hugh Spencer (previously) has published an essay on how Rod Serling's activist views on human rights were embodied in The Twilight Zone, drawing on the practice of using fantastic fiction to evade social constraints, in the tradition of Gulliver's Travels (to say nothing of books like Pinocchio and Inferno). Read the rest

The in-depth tale of Bylock, the Turkish messenger app whose 1x1 tracking GIF was the basis for tens of thousands of treason accusations

A group of exiled Turkish human rights lawyers have published an in-depth history of how Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkish government has described Bylock, an encrypted messenging app, whose 1x1 analytics pixel was used as the basis for accusing tens -- if not hundreds -- of thousands of Turks of treason, with consequences ranging from loss of employment and ostracization to imprisonment, to torture, to suicide. Read the rest

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