MINELRES: MRG e-bulletin - August 2004

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Wed Sep 1 16:33:02 2004

Original sender: Graham Fox <GRAHAM.FOX@mrgmail.org>

Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin - August 2004 
Welcome to the minority Rights Group International (MRG) email bulletin
for August 2004. Simply click on the links below in order to access the
full news release or publication on MRG's website, or alternatively
visit our site directly at:  http://www.minorityrights.org

In this e-bulletin: 

Darfur: no extension without verification states MRG 
Special Rapporteurs recommended on caste discrimination 
Hopes raised for UN minority adviser 
Sexual violence epidemic exposes flaws in gender and minority protection 
UN anti-discrimination body extends protection of non-citizens 
Turkey must improve minority reforms to meet EU standards 
'Diversity is not a threat' confirms key UN Development Report 
Former political prisoner, Juan Mendez, chosen for UN genocide
prevention role 
Feature: The Silent War Against Congo's Pygmies 
Events and advocacy: 
- MRG Interim report on activities 2004 

Coming up: forthcoming events for your diary 
Focus on: Genocide - Debunking the Myths 
Worth a closer look: bayefsky.com - how to complain to the UN human
rights treaty bodies 
New Publications: 
-       Gender, Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 
-       Minorities in Turkey: Submission to the European Union and
Government of Turkey 

Darfur: No extension without verification states rights group 
New UN reports from Darfur indicate that attacks are continuing to take
place against black African communities in the region despite assurances
by the Sudanese government that urgent measures would be taken to disarm
and disband the Arab 'Janjaweed' militia. Any extension to the current
30 day period allowed to the Government of Sudan to act before further
UN action is considered, will prove too long for hundreds more innocent
civilians who will die. Effective sanctions must be tabled for early
consideration stated MRG.


Special Rapporteurs recommended on caste discrimination 
A resolution adopted by the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights, today
paved the way for the creation of two Special Rapporteurs to take
forward the UN's studies into discrimination based on work and descent,
commonly known as caste discrimination. A well-coordinated and
persistent lobby of activists have encouraged this important further
step towards convincing the UN of the need to pay closer attention to,
and apply additional pressure on, these issues affecting hundreds of
millions of people worldwide. The Commission on Human Rights is urged to
recognize the legitimacy of this call by independent UN experts and NGOs
alike, in its decision on whether to approve such measures. 


Hopes raised for UN minority adviser 
The UN Sub-Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights
has added its weight to calls for a special representative of the
Secretary-General on minority issues by presenting a ‘draft decision’ to
the Commission on Human Rights for approval. The decision, which will
face a vote at the more political, state dominated Commission,
highlights the value of such a role in country fact finding and
preventive diplomacy, working closely with the Working Group on
Minorities. MRG, which has long called for the establishment of such a
mechanism suggested that it presents a unique opportunity to consolidate
steps already taken to improve the UN’s capacity in early warning and
conflict prevention.


Sexual violence epidemic exposes flaws in gender and minority protection 
Sexual violence of nearly epidemic proportions and multiple forms of
discrimination against minority and indigenous women could be better
prevented, but are inadequately understood and confronted by existing
rights mechanisms and legal instruments. In a new report launched during
the session of the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD), MRG has called for urgent action by states and
human rights and gender rights actors to address the causes and
consequences of serious and ongoing discrimination against minority and
indigenous women. 


UN anti-discrimination body extends protection of non-citizens 
Migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers and undocumented residents amongst
other 'non-citizens' are the subject of new authoritative comments by
the UN treaty body charged with tackling racial discrimination. Such
groups have long been seen by some states as falling outside of their
commitments and obligations under a number of human rights instruments,
which are often considered to apply only to the treatment of those who
are ‘citizens’ or nationals of the state. The new ‘General
Recommendation’ is intended to extend and strengthen the protection of
what are often uniquely vulnerable minority groups. 


Turkey must improve minority reforms to meet EU standards 
Turkey's improved treatment of minorities is still considerably below
required standards for EU accession according to a submission to the EU
and the Turkish Government, suggesting that reforms remain unimplemented
due in part to institutional inability to fully accept principles of
minority rights. 'General human and minority rights practice and
implementation still falls well short of obligations and standards
expected of European Union members' stated MRG. The rights group is
calling for far reaching change by Turkey on issues including the right
of return of thousands of internally displaced people to their villages,
and for close scrutiny and sustained pressure by the EU before taking
forward accession talks. 


'Diversity is not a threat' confirms key UN human development report 
The annual Human Development Report of the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) has stated that rather than a source of division and
‘clashes’ creating obstacles to development, diversity and 'cultural
liberty' are at the core of human development. The influential report
strongly refutes a number of assumptions that have led cultural
diversity to be blamed as a cause of violent conflict and instability,
when in fact the root causes of such problems lie in discrimination,
exclusion and suppression of cultural freedom. 


Former political prisoner, Juan Mendez, chosen for UN genocide
prevention role 
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has announced that he has selected Juan
Mendez, a former Argentine political prisoner and human rights advocate
for the post of UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. Mr
Annan announced the new role, which will operate largely as an
information gathering and early warning mechanism, in April as part of
an Action Plan to Prevent Genocide that coincided with the 10th
anniversary of the Rwanda genocide. The appointment forms part of Mr
Annan's stated desire to transform the culture of the UN itself from one
of reaction to one of prevention.


Feature: The Silent War Against Congo's Pygmies 

More than three million have died in the Congo since 1998 in a civil war
largely ignored by the outside world. MRG Director, Mark Lattimer,
gained rare access to the remote and lawless eastern forest as part of a
research team compiling evidence for a dossier of information which was
submitted to the International Criminal Court in July. The evidence that
was compiled documented a shocking catalogue of violations carried out
against the pygmy people, which continue to this day and was perpetrated
by some who are now high ranking members of the government. Mark
Lattimer discovers why the pygmy people have been targeted by all sides. 


Events and Advocacy 
Interim Report on Activities (1 January - 30 June 2004) 
Want to know what MRG has been doing so far in 2004? Then look no
further than this round up of events, activities, projects and
publications, which highlights some of MRG's key achievements and
ongoing initiatives this year. 


Picture Feature - Gender report launches in Geneva and London 
Two successful launches of MRG's new report 'Gender, minorities and
Indigenous Peoples' were held at the United Nations in Geneva and the
Institute of Commonwealth Studies in London in August. These
well-attended events sparked considerable constructive debate and helped
to highlight the need for effective action to address the global problem
of multiple discrimination, particularly against women and girls. To see
pictures of these events click the link below.


Marginalization of Batwa Pygmies from Accessing Education in the Great
Lakes Region. Following a regional workshop in Burundi a report of this
workshop was launched on July 28 in Bujumbura, Burundi. This successful
event attracted 75 guests, including twenty members of parliament,
representatives of various ministries, NGO representatives as well as a
number of Batwa students. Kirundi and French editions of MRG's report
were distributed among those attending.

MRG call for legal cases 
MRG will be launching a new call for cases on September 9, 2004. Cases
on minority rights or indigenous rights issues from all jurisdictions
are welcome. The closing date for applications will be October 29, 2004.
Application forms as well as FAQs on this process will be available on
the MRG website as of September 9. Those interested are also welcome to
contact the Legal Cases Officer directly at cynthia.morel@mrgmail.org.


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.

Coming up: 
Working Group on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples - 13 - 24 September 

Seminar on good governance practices for the promotion of human rights 
15 - 16 September 

Working Group on People of African Descent - 27 Sept - 8th Oct 

Focus on: Genocide - Debunking the Myths 

Genocide is a legal term, which according to differing opinions, is
either over used or not used frequently enough. It is nevertheless
commonly understood to define the very worst and most abhorrent crime
against humanity, deserving of universal condemnation and punishment.
Recently attention has focused on the situation in Darfur and debate has
once again turned to the issue of genocide and the legal responsibility
of the international community to act if such a definition is confirmed.
Here, MRG takes a close look at what genocide actually is in an attempt
to throw out 20 commonly held myths and misconceptions to establish the
truth beyond the apparent confusion. However, beyond the legal and
political debate, MRG's message is clear, that whether the international
community chooses to define a situation as genocide or not, it does not
absolve it of the responsibility to act when innocent civilians face
slaughter and persecution.     



Please click the link below to find out about new vacancies at MRG. 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 
bayefsky.com - An extremely useful source of online information, this
website now provides an easy-to-use guide for making a complaint to the
UN human rights treaty bodies on civil and political rights,
discrimination against women, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment, and racial discrimination.


Information contained in external websites does not necessarily reflect
the views or opinions of MRG and its staff. 
New MRG Publications 
Gender, Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 
While it is generally acknowledged that women suffer discrimination,
women who are also members of minority or indigenous communities are
particularly marginalized. Like male members of minority and indigenous
communities, they lack access to political power and face discrimination
in their access to services and rights. However, as women they face
these problems and more.


Minorities in Turkey: Submission to the European Union and the
Government of Turkey 

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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