Human Rights

Myanmar continues deadly crackdown

The military-backed government in Myanmar sentenced more critics to death this week, bringing the total to at least 139 since the junta seized power in February 2021. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volter Turk, said December 2 that at least seven university students were sentenced in a closed-door trial November 30 and that there were reports that four youth activists were sentenced the following day. [node:read-more:link]

Conspiracy theorist seeks bankruptcy protection

Alex Jones, the U.S. conspiracy theorist recently ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion for claiming that a mass school shooting in 2011 was a hoax, filed for bankruptcy December 2. Jones claims to have no more than $10 million in assets and to $10 billion in debt. A lawyer for the families he defamed families said “the bankruptcy system does not protect anyone who engages in intentional and egregious attacks on others and “like every other cowardly move Alex Jones has made, this bankruptcy will not work.” [node:read-more:link]

UN unveils record aid budget

The United Nations is asking its member states for a record US$51.5 billion in aid funding for 2023, some 25 per cent more than in 2022. Citing Russia’s war on Ukraine, drought in Africa and flooding in Pakistan, among other things, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said today that “humanitarian needs are shockingly high, as this year's extreme events are spilling into 2023.” [node:read-more:link]

26-hour-long moment of silence

On December 6th, a 26-hour long moment of silence will begin. Beginning on Finland's Independence Day, the conflict resolution organization CMI - Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation will hold a 26-hour long moment of silence in Helsinki, Finland to honour people who have lost their homes due to a conflict. [node:read-more:link]

OttawaU under fire over press freedom

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other federal politicians are criticizing the University of Ottawa for banning cameras during a speech November 28 by China’s ambassador Canada. Cong Peiwu requested that no cameras be present when he spoke at a conference on “China and the World” and the university’s immediate compliance sparked a barrage of criticism about freedom of the press. [node:read-more:link]

U.K. eases up on Internet crackdown

The British government, responding to criticism from lawmakers and civil liberties groups, has abandoned a plan to force the removal of Internet content that is harmful but legal. While similar to initiatives in the EU and the U.S., the Online Safety Bill – designed address racism, sexual abuse, bullying, fraud and other material – was one of the most sweeping in giving regulators wide-ranging powers to sanction digital and social media. [node:read-more:link]

Russian embassy’s homophobic attack

Russia’s ambassador to Canada, Alexander Darchiev, has been summoned by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly to explain social media postings against LGBTQ2S+ Canadians, notably Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge, a lesbian. In a series of posted images of a crossed-out rainbow flag and Orthodox Curch icons, the embassy accused Canada of “conflating the concepts of individual sexual preferences and universal human rights.” When St-Ange decried Russia’s discriminatory laws as “a disgrace,” the embassy asked her to “please explore and explain how you appeared in this world.” [node:read-more:link]

Netanyahu alliance “full-on crazy”

Likud Party Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, trying to form another Israeli coalition government after the country’s general election four weeks ago, agreed November 28 to appoint the head of an openly homophobic ultra-nationalist party leader as a deputy minister to oversee a “Jewish identity” authority. Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid calls the alliance with the Noam party leader Avi Maoz “full-on crazy” while Palestinian leaders fear a “right-wing fascist coalition.” [node:read-more:link]

Iran leader lauds militia “sacrifice”

Iranian Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose forces have killed, injured or incarcerated hundreds of protestors in recent weeks, said November 26 that his Basij militia have sacrificed lives “to protect people from rioters.” Affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the civilian force has been at the forefront of the state crackdown, and Khamenei said their involvement “shows that Islamic Revolution is alive.” [node:read-more:link]

B.C. trailblazes indigenous children’s rights

British Columbia today became the first Canadian jurisdiction to ensure that indigenous communities can provide their own child and family services, passing legislation as part of a general overhaul of child welfare programs. Statistics Canada said that some 68 per cent of children younger than 14 in provincial care programs in B.C. were indigenous in 2021 compared with nearly 54 per cent nationally. [node:read-more:link]

Police racial profiling ruling appealed

The Quebec government will appeal a provincial Superior Court court ruling that police were violating drivers’ constitutional rights by stopping them without cause and that the practice is “a safe conduit for racial profiling.” Public Security François Bonnardel said in announcing the challenge that it is “unjustified to abolish a tool that is so important to police services.” [node:read-more:link]

Human rights tribunal decision challenged

The federal government and the Assembly of First Nations are seeking judicial review of a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rejection of the government’s $20-billion offer to settle a class-action lawsuit over underfunding of on-reserve child welfare. Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said they want “clarity” on how to address the parts of the deal the tribunal rejected. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian company sued by Tanzanians

Barrick Gold Corporation, a Toronto-based mining company with operations in more than a dozen countries, is being sued in the Superior Court of Justice by a group of Tanzanian villagers over alleged police killings, torture and other abuses. The plaintiffs include relatives of five men killed by Tanzanian police assigned to protect the mine near the border with Kenya. [node:read-more:link]

Green Party leadership shuffle continues

Elizabeth May, who led the Green Party of Canada from 2006 to 2019, representing a B.C. coastal riding as the party’s first MP, returned to the position November 19 after the organization went through several years of internal turmoil. Acknowledging the déjà vu” situation, she noted that Jonathan Pedneault, a former activist with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, has been elected deputy leader. [node:read-more:link]

CSIS investigates Iranian threats

Death threats from within Iran against residents of this country are being investigated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. “Ultimately, these hostile activities and foreign interference undermine the security of Canada and Canadians, as well as our democratic values and sovereignty,” a CSIS official says. Details were released after British intelligence confirmed a similar campaign there. [node:read-more:link]


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