Human Rights

War crimes “apparent” in Gaza conflict

Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of attacks that "apparently amount to war crimes" during an 11-day war in May against Hamas militants in Gaza. The accusation July 26 flows from an investigation of three air strikes that it says killed 62 Palestinian civilians. It also accuses the militants of apparent war crimes for launching more that 4,000 unguided munitions against Israeli communities. [node:read-more:link]

BBC maps out Taliban progress

The Taliban have taken control of more territory in Afghanistan in the last two months than at any time since they were ousted from power 20 years ago. Emboldened in recent weeks by the ongoing withdrawal of western forces, they now have a strong presence n many regions and are closing in on major cities. [node:read-more:link]

New Governor General sworn in

Mary Simon, an Inuk from northern Quebec, was sworn in as Canada’s 30th Governor General, the first indigenous vice-regal appointee. In a ceremony held in the Senate chamber, she pledged to use her role to work against climate change, advocate for mental health and work toward reconciliation. “I have heard from Canadians who describe a renewed sense of possibility for our country and hope that I can bring people together," she said. [node:read-more:link]

COVID-19: Myanmar junta targets doctors

During months of unending turmoil after their April coup d'état, Myanmar security forces have killed more than 900 people, including shooting protesters and detaining thousands. An already fragile health care system has collapsed and now physicians and other health care providers have become targets. [node:read-more:link]

Aluminum industry’s human-rights challenge

The global automobile industry is being called on to address alleged human rights abuses in its aluminum supply chains. A Human Rights Watch researcher says the metal “is really a blind spot for the car industry” due to mining practices and their impact on its workers and the environment. [node:read-more:link]

European high court rules on hijabs

The European Court of Justice has ruled that companies in the European Union may ban Muslim employees from wearing a hijab under certain conditions. Ruling in two cases brought by women in Germany who were suspended, the court said “prohibition . . . may be justified by the employer’s need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes.” However, it also said national courts within the EU may consider social context in their own countries. [node:read-more:link]

Mosque attack an “act of hate”

A national Muslim organization is calling the July 14 vandalization of a mosque in Cambridge, Ont., an “act of hate.” The fact that the Baitul Kareem Mosque was attacked in broad daylight is particularly troubling for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada. “Our mosques have always served as symbols of peace in the community,” says the organization’s president, Lal Khan Malik. “It is hurtful for us to see our mosque attacked and vandalized in this fashion.” [node:read-more:link]

Covid-19: Cuba eases import restrictions

In an apparent response to anti-government protests, Cuba has temporarily lifted restrictions on travelers bringing food, medicines and hygiene products into the country. Thousands took to the streets last weekend to protest chronic shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties and the government's handling of COVID-19 which has devastated the country's tourism industry. [node:read-more:link]

COVID-19: the “dictator’s dream”

As the COVID-19 pandemic surged around the world, authoritarian regimes evidently have been using it as a smokescreen to attack public activities or opponents. In one case, a Cambodian-American human rights lawyer indicted for treason in his ostensibly democratic homeland, where the prime minister has been in power for more than three decades, calls the coronavirus “a dictator’s dream.” Human Rights Watch says Cambodia uses it as a cover for jailing opponents without due process. [node:read-more:link]

Politics and strange bedfellows

A Taliban spokesman has said that the Islamic insurgency retaking Afghanistan sees China as a “welcome friend” despite its treatment of its Uigher Muslim minority. “We care about the oppression of Muslims, the spokesman said. “What we are not going to do is interfere in China's internal affairs.” Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry has confirmed talks with Pakistan about extending the two countries’ economic corridor to Afghanistan. [node:read-more:link]

Legal “right to be forgotten” upheld

Ruling on a reference by Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien (Docket T-1779-18), Federal Court Associate Chief Justice Jocelyne Gagné said the results of Google searches should be subject to privacy legislation. Effectively a ruling on how companies handle personal information, it is seen as a partial victory for individuals seeking to be “forgotten” on social media. It originated from a man’s complaint that search results had yielded damagingly inaccurate information about him. Google had argued privacy law did not apply because its search engine was not a “commercial activity.” [node:read-more:link]

Stephen Harper weighs in on Iran

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper has suggested that Iran's incoming president, Ebrahim Raisi, should be treated as an international pariah for his record of human rights abuses. “Shame on any government in the world that would sit down and try to negotiate anything with an administration led by Ebrahim Raisi,” Harper said in a speech to a July 10 virtual Free Iran World Summit. [node:read-more:link]

China wades into indigenous crisis

Trying to deflect international condemnation of its own human rights record, China is urging the UN Human Rights Council to carry out a “thorough and impartial investigation” into Canada’s treatment of indigenous peoples after the remains of hundreds of children were found in former residential schools. “Simply apologizing is not enough,” Jiang Duan, China’s representative on the Geneva-based council, said July 6. “Canada must take actual actions to correct its mistakes,” [node:read-more:link]

Renounced indigenous heritage reversible?

Sixteen members of three indigenous families have filed a constitutional challenge in B.C. Supreme Court over the federal government’s cancellation of their ancestors’ status in the 1800s. The government says the program was voluntary but the plaintiffs argue that their families, trying to keep children out of residential schools, were coerced. [node:read-more:link]

Chinese leader warns against interference

Facing widespread international condemnation of his country’s human rights record, Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed that any attempts by the West to interfere would mean “heads bashed bloody against a Great Wall of steel.” The Community Party leader also use the party’s centennnial celebrations last week to claim responsibility for the “great rejuvenation” of his country. [node:read-more:link]


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