MINELRES: Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin

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Fri Dec 3 16:29:42 2004

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Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin

Welcome to the minority Rights Group International (MRG) email bulletin.
Simply click on the links below in order to access the full news story
or publication on MRG's website, or alternatively visit our site at: 

In this e-bulletin:

- Pastoralism: an African way of life on the brink of extinction warns
- Chagos Islanders take their struggle for justice to heart of British
- New approach to trafficking must consider minority dimension
- Report demands state action to halt violations against rights
- Kosovo Assembly urged to ensure minority rights or risk increased
- Burma reform setback as moderate Prime Minister arrested
- European Commission recommends Turkey EU negotiations and continuing
- Commission to consider Kenyan Endorois case following urgent appeal to
- Darfur: Security Council members resolve to let the crisis continue
- Focus on: Diego Garcia: A Crime Against Humanity?  
- Vacancies 
- Worth a closer look: Connections for Development
- MRG Events and Advocacy
- Publications - Pastoralism on the Margin (New MRG report)


Pastoralism: an African way of life on the brink of extinction warns

Pastoralism, a distinct African culture, form of livestock production
and nomadic way of life, may vanish forever in its traditional form
without urgent action to address the needs of pastoralist peoples in
eastern Africa and the Horn. As pastoralists gather this weekend for
Kenyan Pastoralist Week, this is the stark message of a new MRG report,
'Pastoralism on the Margin', which warns that the essential foundations
of this unique and ancient way of life have been all but eroded in
Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The demise of pastoralism, largely
due to competing interests over land and failure to acknowledge and
protect pastoralist rights, would be 'a human rights tragedy and a major
loss to Africa's and humanity's cultural heritage', stated MRG. 


Chagos Islanders take their struggle for justice to the heart of British

The islanders of Diego Garcia, evicted from their homes by the British
government in the 1970s to make way for a US military base, have taken
their claims for justice directly to the House of Commons. A public
event, 'Diego Garcia: A Crime Against Humanity?' organized by MRG,
addressed the treatment of the islanders and the future of Diego Garcia,
and brought together members of the community, lawyers, Members of
Parliament, human rights experts, academics and the media. Considering
legal, social and political aspects of the Chagossian's claims, the
event was a unique opportunity to address the actions of the government
and the demands of the islanders in front of an expert audience. 


New approach to trafficking must consider minority dimension

A 'new approach' to combating people trafficking called for by UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, should consider the
minority dimension to trafficking in order to address one of its most
fundamental causes. By addressing broader minority rights discrimination
which leaves women with few life and employment choices and facing
multiple forms of discrimination and exploitation, much will be done to
starve the traffickers of their key resource…vulnerable women and
children, stated MRG. Arbour has called for a 'human rights and
development perspective' that acknowledges that many of the root causes
of trafficking lie in development issues, poverty and inequality.


Report demands state action to halt violations against rights defenders

United Nations Special Representative on human rights defenders, Hina
Jilani, has called on states to put in place strong institutional
measures to prevent 'continuing high levels' of violations against human
rights defenders. Expressing her 'deep concern' over the extent of
violations, Jilani highlighted the absence of safeguards and the failure
of institutions and agencies of the State, which 'allow' violations to
occur. MRG endorsed the report, highlighting a spate of violations,
including arbitrary arrest, against its own partner organizations in
recent weeks.


Kosovo Assembly warned to ensure minority rights or risk increased

As elections for a Kosovo Assembly are hailed a success by United
Nations officials the situation regarding minorities, minority rights
and security remains 'bleak' in the province which has been under UN
administration since June 1999. A low turn out of minority voters
including Kosovo Serbs, many of whom felt intimidated and afraid to
vote, highlights persistent problems that must be urgently addressed to
ensure a stable future. "The overall situation of minority rights in
Kosovo remains the worst in Europe, with persons still afraid to speak
their mother tongue on the street", stated MRG.


Burma reform setback as moderate Prime Minister arrested

The sacking and arrest of Prime Minister and chief of military
intelligence, Khin Nyunt, has diminished hopes of progress towards
democratic transition and led to fears that it may herald a new crack
down on the pro-democracy movement, political parties and minorities in
Burma. The ousting of Nyunt, considered by some to be a relative
moderate, by the military Junta is a setback for those pressing for the
release of National League for Democracy (NLD) leader, Aung San Suu Kyi,
and progress towards peace and democratization in the war-torn state.  


European Commission recommends Turkey EU negotiations and continuing

The European Commission has recommended that Turkey is ready for
European Union membership negotiations despite the need for significant
further progress in the fields of human and minority rights. The
Commission highlighted the need for implementation of constitutional and
legislative measures to be 'consolidated and broadened' to ensure the
effectiveness of such measures. The Brussels decision includes the
possibility to suspend negotiations with Turkey should it be found to
have committed 'serious and persistent breach' of the principles of
liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.


Commission to consider Kenyan Endorois case following urgent appeal to

The African Commission is due to hear a legal case brought by the
Endorois, a Kenyan pastoralist community, at an admissibility hearing
scheduled to take place in Dakar in early December. In a significant
development in the struggle for rights of the Endorois pastoralists, in
June 2004, the Commission accepted a call by rights groups to enact
'Provisional Measures' to prevent irreparable harm to the community and
their lands as a result of mining activities. The Commission made an
urgent appeal to President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, urging him to ensure
'no further issuance of the alleged mining concessions'. The case is
likely to coincide with Kenyan 'pastoralist week' during which
communities will raise rights issues and threats to their future
cultural survival. 


Darfur: Security Council members resolve to let the crisis continue

The increasingly ineffective position of the UN Security Council members
in relation to the current crisis in Darfur has been underlined in its
latest resolution (1564), adopted on 18 September, stating that it would
'consider taking additional measures, including sanctions, should Sudan
fail to comply fully with the Council's July resolution'. Kofi Annan has
consistently called for 'urgent action on Darfur' and asserted that the
Council has, for the first time in its history, been required to act
under Article 8 of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment
of the Crime of Genocide. The ineffectiveness of current actions comes,
ironically, as the UN General Assembly debates how to strengthen the
organization's role in solving and preventing world crises.


Focus on: Diego Garcia:  A Crime Against Humanity?

For many of the islanders of Diego Garcia, the actions of the British
government in removing them from their island homes in the 1970s are a
painful memory, daily re-awakened through their struggle for justice and
a better life. To many who hear their story, the deportation of the
Chagossians to make way for a US military base was a dreadful abuse of
power and violation of rights. A 2000 high court ruling that their
expulsion was illegal was over-ruled this year through the use of a
little used 'prerogative power'. But as the islanders now prepare to
take their case to the European Court of Human Rights, rights lawyers
are looking again at the circumstances of their removal, and the
criteria under which it might be found to be a 'crime against humanity'.
Such a finding could have important implications for the future of the
case and the treatment it receives under international law. MRG sets out
the arguments for considering Diego Garcia as a crime against humanity,
and considers the implications of such a finding. 



MRG strives to be an equal opportunities employer. MRG occasionally has
opportunities for internships and voluntary work and those interested in
applying for such positions should initially contact MRG with a brief
curriculum vitae (resume) and covering letter.


Worth a closer look

Connections for Development 

Connections for Development is a UK, black and minority ethnic (BME)
led, membership-based organisation created by a group of people
committed to ensuring that the many Black & ethnic minority communities
that are in the UK are involved in shaping and delivering policy and
projects that affect our world. It achieves this by: establishing a
network of like minded people and organisations; undertaking research
within, and with, BME communities; informing about all aspects of
development; ensuring that BME participation is guaranteed in all policy
making; supporting membership groups; connecting BME communities to our
world. To find out more visit: http://www.cfdnetwork.co.uk

Information contained in external websites does not necessarily reflect
the views, policies or opinions of MRG and its staff.

MRG Events and Advocacy


In September MRG staff travelled to Somaliland to conduct meetings to
assist in promoting the rights of minorities in Somaliland, and to
Ethiopia to conduct consultations with pastoralist partners in advance
of the launch of MRG's report 'Pastoralism on the Margin'. The launch
will coincide with Kenyan Pastoralists Week. 


Two skills exchange events were held with minority participants in
Indonesia in September, along with consultations with partners in
Thailand and Malaysia. MRG's Asian partners were supported to
participate in the UN Working Group on the Draft Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva. In September MRG participated in
delivering a training workshop on improving partnerships with minorities
in development cooperation in Vietnam. 


MRG attended the OSCE Human Dimension meeting in Warsaw in which the
situations of minorities in Turkey and Kosovo were amongst issues
raised. Staff also conducted a regional advocacy and rights training in
Warsaw to increase regional participants knowledge of minority rights
instruments and mechanisms, and increase awareness of effective
strategies for advocacy.


MRG attended a UN Working Group on Minorities Regional Seminar in
Kyrgyzstan in October where staff delivered training to NGOs on NGO
participation in the WGM. Trainings on the WGM were also delivered to
regional partners in Serbia and Montenegro. MRG's Minority Rights and
Development staff co-hosted an EU Development Education workshop on
improving the protection of minorities in humanitarian action, in Rome
in October.

For further information about these and many other events and activities
please contact MRG at the address below or visit:


Pastoralism on the Margin by John Markakis

Pastoralism is a culture, an ancient mode of livestock production and a
way of life, which makes extensive use of grazing in the lowlands of
eastern Africa and the Horn. However, this culture has reached a
critical point in its history. A process that began under colonialism -
the dispossession of land and the promotion of agriculture - has been
continued and accelerated by independent African states in the region.
Pastoralism on the Margin is published in December 2004 and will be
available to download free of charge from MRG's website at the address
below from 26 December.


For further information about the events above and details of many
additional MRG programmes and advocacy activities, please visit MRG's
website or contact us directly.


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Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental
organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and
linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide, and to promote
cooperation and understanding between communities.

MRG is a registered charity no. 282305, and has consultative status with
the United Nations Economic and Social Council and observer status with
the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights.

Contact MRG:
54 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LT, UK.
Tel: 020 7422 4200        Fax: 020 7422 4201
email:  minority.rights@mrgmail.org