International Day in Support of Torture Victims recognizes bravery of intern'l victims & survivors of torture
#UN; #USA; #InternationalDayinSupportofVictimsofTorture; #US; #Rehabilitation
New York/Canadian Media: On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (IDSVT), we recognize torturers must never be allowed to get away with their crimes, and systems that enable torture should be dismantled or transformed, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Blue Bird, in Ukraine, conducts art therapy sessions. Left: The ‘floss of unity,’ made by children of survivors as a symbol of togetherness. Right: Into this pot, participants can place symbols of qualities that they want to see in themselves. Image credit: UN/Sergii Kharenko
On 12 December 1997, by resolution 52/149, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 26 June the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
June 26 is also an opportunity to call on all stakeholders including UN Member States, civil society and individuals everywhere to unite in support of the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have been victims of torture and those who are still tortured today.
Torture seeks to annihilate the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human beings. Its pervasive consequences often go beyond the isolated act on an individual; and can be transmitted through generations and lead to cycles of violence.
The United Nations has condemned torture from the outset as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings and is a crime under international law. and is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances.
"Nevertheless, we continue to see governments using torture and other violations of human rights as tools of ongoing repression against political opponents, members of minority groups and marginalized populations, human rights advocates, and those who simply voice an opinion that these governments do not like," said Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of United States in a statement today and added, we should recognize the bravery and humanity of victims and survivors of torture around the world.
The absolute prohibition of torture is a human right enshrined in international law," Since its inception in 1987, 171 countries—including the United States—have become parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which is inspired by Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its core tenet: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
We should also not underscore the importance of rehabilitation and transitional justice so victims and survivors can transition from horror to healing. For this reason, the United States is the largest contributor to the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture that provides support to survivors and their families.
New York/Canadian-Media: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State issued the following statement on the observation of Luxembourg National Day
On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I congratulate His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri and the people of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as you celebrate your National Day and the Grand Duke’s Official Birthday.
Our enduring and close friendship is based on shared history and common purpose. Just as we joined together to defend freedom and democracy during World War II, we are united in furthering those values, today. As founding members of international institutions such as the United Nations and NATO, we built a strong multilateral system to address global challenges and promote international prosperity. We are proud to continue our close partnership with Luxembourg, and we look forward to further cooperation in areas such as combatting climate change and advancing space exploration.
Best wishes to the people of Luxembourg for a safe and happy National Day, and a prosperous year ahead
#Washington; #WorldRefugeeDay2021; #COVID19Pandemic
Washington/Canadian-Media: Antony J. Blinken, US Secretary of State issued the following press statement during the observation of World Refugee Day today, June 20, 2021.
The shared experience of COVID-19 has showed us that we only succeed if we stand together. Together we heal, learn and shine. PHOTO:UNHCR
World Refugee Day presents an opportunity to recognize the courage and resilience of the millions of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes, the generosity of the communities that host them, and the united global response of humanitarian partners that help them. We mark today with news that the immense global forced displacement crisis has reached a disturbing new high, affecting more than 82 million people who are forcibly displaced, including more than 26 million refugees. These figures and the UN Refugee Agency’s theme for this year’s World Refugee Day, “Together we heal, learn, and shine,” are calls to action for all countries to ensure refugees have access to protection, life-saving care, and opportunities to learn so they can thrive in their host communities.
The United States reaffirms our commitment to alleviating the suffering of refugees globally through our leadership in humanitarian assistance and diplomacy. International cooperation is essential, and we recommit to multilateral engagement to meet immediate humanitarian needs and seek durable solutions for refugees to live with hope and dignity. No single country can respond to this global crisis alone, and no country is untouched by the impacts of forced displacement. We are in this together.
The United States is once again taking up the mantle of leadership on refugee resettlement, including through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which has welcomed more than 3.1 million refugees since 1980. We have already taken the critical steps of raising the annual refugee admissions target to 62,500 for Fiscal Year 2021 and restoring regional allocations for resettlement to ensure that access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is based on refugees’ vulnerability, responds to the emergency need for resettlement across all regions of the world, and reflects the American tradition of welcoming refugees. The Biden-Harris Administration is putting America’s highest values at the center of our foreign policy and offering reassurance to persecuted people for whom permanent resettlement is needed.
Refugee resettlement is one of several ways that the United States supports forcibly displaced people around the world. As the world’s largest single donor of humanitarian assistance, the United States plays a crucial role in promoting and fostering the international response to displacement crises. In Fiscal Year 2020, we provided more than $10.5 billion in humanitarian aid globally, including assistance for refugees. In addition to providing life-saving services, our assistance supports the tireless work of humanitarian partner organizations to provide health care as well as livelihood and educational opportunities so that people fleeing persecution can heal, learn, and shine even in the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone deserves these opportunities, and we will continue to call on other countries to help us sustain humanitarian responses and find lasting solutions globally.
The United States will maintain our diplomatic efforts to promote access to international protection for people in vulnerable situations regardless of their location. We will be a reliable partner to all parties seeking to end conflicts or address other drivers of forced displacement and instability in the interest of creating the conditions for people to prosper instead of fleeing for their lives.
#Washington; #USPresident; #Juneteenth; #EndOfSlavery
Washington/Canadian-Media: United States President Joe Biden declares Juneteenth, June 19 as an official holiday in the US to commemorate the end of slavery.
Imagee credit: Asha Bajaj
The legislation of Juneteenth as a federal holiday was signed by Biden Thursday marking , effective immediately. Before the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was signed by Biden, Juneteenth was recognized as either a state or ceremonial holiday in 48 states and Washington, D.C.
Juneteenth celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation, which only freed slaves in the South, the 13th Amendment is what officially ended slavery in the U.S.
Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger informed on June 19, 1865 to community in Galveston, Texas, that President Abraham Lincoln had freed enslaved people in rebel states two and a half years earlier and also pressed locals to comply with the directive.
The holiday is looking a little different from most years.
The event which was celebrated virtually last year would see 144 million Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 gather in person.
Created in 1997 by Ben Haith, the founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation, the original Juneteenth flag has a blue and red stripe with a white star in the middle with an outline surrounding the star, and an arc that extends across the width of the flag.
#UN; #InternationalAlbinismAwarenessDay, #Demystifying; #Discrimination; #Solidarity
New York/Canadian-Media: On International Albinism Awareness Day, Sunday, the UN chief reiterated his “solidarity with persons with albinism”.
Lucas and his brother both have albinism, which makes their skin very sensitive, their eyesight poor, and their appearance a little different from their brothers and sisters. Image credit: © UNICEF
Albinism, a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition found in both men and women, presents as a lack of melanin pigmentation in hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light.
As a result` almost all people with albinism are visually impaired and are prone to developing skin cancer.
Secretary-General António Guterres said that this year’s theme, Strength Beyond All Odds, reflects the “resilience, perseverance and achievements” of people with albinism in the face of pervasive “misconceptions, discrimination and violence”.
Shining a spotlight
While numbers vary, the UN estimates that in North America and Europe one in every 17,000 to 20,000 people have some form of albinism, but in sub-Saharan Africa, the figure is higher.
One in 1,400 Tanzanians have the condition, and in Zimbabwe and select populations in other specific ethnic groups in Southern Africa, the prevalence rises to as high as one in 1,000.
Profoundly misunderstood, socially and medically, people with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide.
They are often the object of superstitious beliefs and myths, which not only foster their marginalization and social exclusion but also lead to various forms of stigma discrimination and violence.
Some centuries old erroneous mythologies still exist in cultural attitudes and practices globally, putting the security and lives of persons with albinism at constant risk.
“Despite these obstacles to well-being and security, leaders of organizations representing persons with albinism continue to work hard to support the most vulnerable”, said Mr. Guterres.
Protect persons with albinism
Meaningful commitments, such as the Plan of Action on Albinism in Africa and the work of the UN independent expert on albinism in promoting the rights of persons with albinism, have encouraged the UN chief that those with the condition are “increasingly taking their rightful place in decision-making platforms around the world”.
Yet, recognizing the “deep need to demystify the condition and end discrimination”, he acknowledged, “much remains to be done”.
The Secretary-General urged all nations and communities to “protect and fulfil the human rights of all persons with albinism and provide necessary support and care”.
In her statement marking the day, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, echoed the UN chief's call for protection.
As the pandemic exacerbates the challenges faced by people with albinism, she pointed out that in some countries, they have been "smeared with names such as 'corona' and 'COVID-19'", and some have even been "banished from their communities".
"I call on States and the international community to continue to build and strengthen partnerships with persons with albinism and organizations representing them, to ensure they are included in decision-making that concerns them and to promote their enjoyment of all human rights", said Ms. Bachelet.