New York, Jun 28 (Canadian-Media): Indigenous communities have for centuries drawn on native scientific knowledge to help them understand the world around them. Known popularly as Traditional Knowledge, this observational evidence is verified by elders and passed on to successive generations, largely as an oral tradition, media reports said.
#GeorgeFloyd #Australia #Indigenous
Australia, Jun 28 (Canadian-Media): The protests over George Floyd’s death in the US have sparked a wave of protests in Australia over indigenous rights and questionable indigenous deaths in custody, media reports said.
#UN; #UNHumanitarian; #Racism; #AfricanDescent; #OHCHR
Geneva, Jun 19 (Canadian-Media): The UN’s top rights official, Michelle Bachelet, is to spearhead efforts to address systemic racism against people of African descent by law enforcement agencies, the Human Rights Council decided on Friday, UN reports said.
Protests have been occurring daily in New York City against racism and police violence, following the death of George Floyd. Image credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider
The resolution – decided unanimously without a vote - follows a rare Urgent Debate in the Council earlier in the week, requested by the African group of nations, following the death of George Floyd in the US state of Minnesota.
The unarmed African-American's death on 25 May was captured on video while a police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes in Minneapolis, sparking worldwide protest.
During the debate on racism, alleged police brutality and violence against protesters that preceded the resolution’s adoption, no less than 120 speakers took the floor.
Many expressed sympathy for the family of Mr. Floyd, whose brother also addressed Council members in Geneva, in a passionate pre-recorded video message in which he urged the United Nations to act.
No international probe
Although some delegates had called for an international probe to investigate killings of black people in America, and violence against demonstrators, others maintained that the issue impacted on all nations, and required a broader approach.
In line with the final version of the resolution text, the High Commissioner should “prepare a report on systemic racism, violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies, especially those incidents that resulted in the death of George Floyd and other Africans and of people of African descent”.
The text also calls on Ms. Bachelet – assisted by UN appointed independent rights experts and committees “to examine government responses to anti-racism peaceful process peaceful protests, including the alleged use of excessive force against protesters, bystanders and journalists”.
Overseeing the resolution, Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger (Austria), President of the Human Rights Council (14th cycle) announced that the text was ready for their consideration and asked whether a vote could be dispensed with, in light of the general consensus.
‘An historic step’
“Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I have been informed that a number of resolutions are ready for adoption during this meeting as shown on the screen…So, I would like to ask if there is a request from anybody for a vote…I see none, so may I take it that the draft proposal L50 as orally revised may be adopted without a vote? It is so decided.”
In his address to Member States as coordinator of the African Group, Dieudonné W. Désiré Sougouri, Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the United Nations Office, declared the Urgent Debate “an historic step” in the combat against racism of which the Human Rights Council could be “proud”.
“The international outrage caused by the tragic events that led to the death of George Floyd underlined the urgency and importance for the Human Rights Council to raise its voice against injustice and police brutality which African people and people of African descent are faced with every day in many regions of the world,” he said.
The Council also heard widespread declarations of support for an investigation into violence against protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Racism will remain ‘a priority
“The fight against all forms of racism and racial discrimination remains a priority for us,” said Michael Ungern-Sternberg, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Germany to the United Nations Office at Geneva. “The past weeks, many people around the world raised their voices and took to the streets to send a clear signal that racism and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against minority populations cannot (any) longer be accepted.”
Other speakers insisted that the resolution was necessary and important in promoting awareness about systemic racism, and in continuing the work of implementing key pledges taken to combat the scourge in 2002 at the Durban World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
“Black lives matter,” said Ambassador Coly Seck, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations Office at Geneva. Racism continues to happen in many countries too, he said, noting that it was in “flagrant contradiction” to the UN Charter in which we place our faith in the basic rights of man and in the value of the human person”.
UN independent experts voice ‘profound concern’ over US Government accusations of ‘domestic terrorism’
And in another human rights development concerning the fallout from protests over George Floyd’s death in the US, UN independent experts on Friday expressed “profound concern” over a recent statement by the US Attorney-General describing the so-called Antifa movement and other anti-fascist activists as “domestic terrorists”, saying it undermines the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly in the country.
International human rights law protects the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly”, said Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.
“It is regrettable that the United States has chosen to respond to the protests in a manner that undermines these fundamental rights.”
Following nationwide demonstrations that began after police in Minneapolis killed African American George Floyd, US Attorney General William Barr warned that alleged violence carried out by Antifa and other movements “is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly”, noted the press release issued by the UN rights office, OHCHR.
‘Loose use of terrorist rhetoric’Although there has not been an legislative action taken following the 31 May statement, Ms. Ní Aoláin – an expert lawyer who worked extensively in the human rights and terrorism-related field in her native Northern Ireland - said that the “the loose use of terrorism rhetoric undermines legitimate protests and dampens freedom of expression in the United States, which has been a hallmark of US constitutional values, and a beacon far beyond its shores”.
Echoing the unease expressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding structural race discrimination in the US, particularly in the realm of policing, the Special Rapporteur said that regulating protests and violence through the lens of counter-terrorism may only sharpen divisions and accentuate tensions, fuelling further human rights violations.
The group of independent experts strongly recommend that the violent elements among peaceful protesters who have been identified by law enforcement, be dealt with fairly, and in accordance to due process under existing penal law.
Ms. Ní Aoláin is urging the US Government to take a human rights-based approach in their response to protests and violence and avoid the misuse and misappropriation of the language of terrorism.
“Unless it does, the Government risks cheapening grave crimes that fall under the rubric of terrorism and failing to fulfil fundamental obligations to ensure counter-terrorism measures are fully compliant with international human rights law.”
The Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council constitute the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, and they address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.
The experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work, as well as being independent from any government or organization.
#USRacismProtests; #MeghanMarkle; #EncouragesStudents; #FightAgainstRacism
Los Angeles, Jun 14 (Canadian-Media): Deeply saddened and disturbed by protests over racism, police violence across United States (US) sparked by the death of a black man, George Floyd, killed at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25 reminded her of living at Los Angeles (L.A.) at the time of the 1992 riots when she was 11 or 12 years old, media reports said.
Meghan Markle. Image credit: Twitter handle
During a virtual address the other day to students at the Immaculate Heart High School in L.A., Meghan said that she felt sorry that the students at 17 or 18 years old would have to have a different version of that same type of experience and added,
"So the first thing I want to say to you is that I'm sorry. I'm so sorry that you have to grow up in a world where this is still present. Only wrong thing to say is to say nothing."
Meghan with her husband, Prince Harry, and son, Archie are now living in L.A. after they stepped back from the Royal Family two months ago.
Along with Floyd, Meghan mentioned other Black people killed by police.
"Because George Floyd's life mattered and Breonna Taylor's life mattered and Philando Castile's life mattered and Tamir Rice's life mattered."
Meghan ended her address with words of encouragement for the students and said,
"You are going to have empathy for those who don't see the world through the same lens that you do, because with as diverse and vibrant and open-minded as I know the teachings at Immaculate Heart are, I know you know that Black lives matter."
The Queen's Commonwealth Trust, of which Meghan is vice-president and Harry is president retweeted her message.
Meghan's other messages of encouragement in recent days on social media were also shared by the trust.
"Young people are vital voices in the fight against injustice and racism...Silence is not an option," the trust tweeted.
#Canada; #DiversityInLeadershipRace; #PeopleOfColor; #Women
Ottawa, Jun 9 (Canadian-Media): Canada's provincial and federal parties leadership has failed to reflect the gender and racial diversity of the wider population due to these political parties' being led mostly by white men, media reports said.
Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. Image credit: Twitter handle
According to studies, women and people of color are being prevented from getting involved in politics due to their facing many systemic obstacles and prejudices that white male candidates don't face,
An analysis of data from the last few decades revealed that of the 175 leaders of provincial or federal parties since 1990, only 18 percent of these leaders were women and just eight percent represented by people of color.
Back in 2013, six provincial premiers and one territorial premier were women.
Between 1990 and 1994, about 23 percent of party leaders were women.
However, between 2005 and 2009, women constituted just over one-third of party leadership races.
From 2010 this share decreased again and since 2015, women represent just only one in ten newly-named party leadership.
Non-white Canadians represent about 11 percent of the current party leaders including a handful of interim leaders.
Only 16 percent of current provincial or federal party leaders are represented by women, but none of them is in a position of power right now.
Only 29 percent of Members of Parliament (MPs) are women and people of color represent about 18 percent.
Nevertheless, right now there is evidence of some diversity in the leadership races being held across the country.
The federal Green Party leadership is very diverse, women leaders represent both declared candidates for the B.C. Green leadership.
#Canada; #CanadaPM; #Justin Trudeau; #Anti-BlackCommunity; #Racism
Ottawa, Jun 7 (Canadian-Media): Racism never has a place in our society said Canada's Prime Minister in his statement on anti-Black community during a special committee on the COVID-19 pandemic June 2, media reports said.
Justin Trudeau. Image credit. Official site
I rise today to address what so many people of colour live with every day.
Over the past few days, we’ve seen horrific reports of police violence against Black men and women south of the border.
But these are not isolated incidents or elsewhere problems.
Prejudice, discrimination, and violence is a lived reality for far too many people.
It is the result of systems which far too often condone, normalize, perpetrate, and perpetuate inequality and injustice against people of colur.
As a country, we are not concerned bystanders simply watching what is happening next door.
We are part of it.
The calls for justice, for equality, for peace, have found echo in our communities because anti-Black racism is also happening here.
Everywhere in Canada.
Every single day.
This is something that our own staff, Cabinet ministers, and colleagues face even in these halls.
Over the past few days, I’ve heard many of these personal stories directly from them.
And I’m not just talking about acts of violence. I’m also talking about microaggressions, which many of us may not even see.
That is the daily reality of far too many racialized Canadians. And it needs to stop.
When it comes to being an ally, I have made serious mistakes in the past – mistakes which I deeply regret, and continue to learn from.
And I want to thank my colleagues, community leaders, and fellow Canadians for opening my eyes to what is really going on in our communities and helping me better understand both privilege and power.
I’m not perfect.
But not being perfect is not a free pass to not do the right thing.
It’s not an excuse to not step up.
To stand up for each other, to be an ally.
I know that for so many people listening right now, the last thing you want to hear is another speech on racism from a white politician.
I’m not here today to describe a reality I do not know or speak to a pain I have not felt.
I’m here because I want you to know that our government is listening.
We hear your calls for justice, equality, and accountability.
We acknowledge your frustration, your anger, your heartbreak.
We see you.
Since taking office, our government has taken concrete action to fight anti-Black racism, systemic discrimination, and injustice across the country.
We have worked with communities to recognize and address injustices.
We’ve taken action to support community organizations, invest in better data, and fight racism.
For example, we have provided $9 million to support programs for young Black Canadians.
We have made significant investments to help the Public Health Agency of Canada provide more mental health services to those who have experienced racism or intergenerational trauma.
We are helping community organizations obtain funding to buy equipment or rent space.
And we have created the Anti-Racism Secretariat, which has a $4.6 million budget to eliminate systemic barriers that perpetuate injustice, notably in employment, justice, and social participation.
And while we’ve made some progress, there is still so much more to do.
Because here are the facts in Canada.
Anti-Black racism is real.
Unconscious bias is real.
Systemic discrimination is real.
For millions of Canadians, it is their daily, lived reality.
The pain and damage it causes is real, too.
Mr. Speaker, every Canadian who has felt the weight of oppression, every student who has the courage to demand a better future, every person who marches and posts and reads and fights from Vancouver to Montréal to Halifax expects more than the status quo.
They expect more and deserve better.
The Government of Canada has a lot of work to do, but we are ready.
We are ready to work with our opposition colleagues, community leaders, and Canadians to make our country fairer and more equal.
Racism never has a place in our society.
And we will do everything we can to eradicate it from coast to coast.