MINELRES: MRG- e-bulletin November 2005- February 2006

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Sun Mar 5 11:40:14 2006

Original sender: Ilana Rapaport <ILANA.RAPAPORT@mrgmail.org>

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: 

News releases including: 
Vital steps ahead for Iraq’s ‘flawed’ constitution 
MRG launches inaugural ‘State of the World’s Minorities’ report 
Bosnian Constitution must incorporate minority rights to heal ethnic
French unrest - minority rights solutions required to tackle the reality
of racism 
Colombia must investigate disappearance and murder of Afro-descendant
'Powerful obstacles' continue to hinder indigenous rights, states UN
Focus on: Peoples under threat 2006 
Vacancies: Update 
Publications including:  
The Permanent Constitution of Iraq: Inter-religious and Inter-ethnic


Baskin Oran on Trial; Freedom of Expression threatened in EU hopeful
(15/02/05) Professor Baskin Oran, an International Relations scholar
from the University of Ankara, will go on trial in Turkey charged with
‘insulting Turkishness’ and ‘inciting the people to enmity and hatred’.
Professor Oran is a member of Turkey’s Human Rights Consultative Council
(HRCC), part of the Office of the Prime Minister that was set up to help
meet levels of participatory democracy required for EU accession. He was
accused after issuing a report on Human and Minority Rights. 


"Integration not assimilation and responsible free speech only ways to
prevent culture clash"  
Minority Rights Group International expressed concerns today (Friday Feb
10 2005) that simplistic portrayals of a culture clash, following
widespread dispute over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad is ignoring
central issues relating to integration of minorities and protection of
Muslim minorities within Europe.


Holocaust Memorial Day UK: Minority Rights Group International urges new
approach to preventing genocide and mass killings 

Leading rights group says international community must refocus on
"crimes of state" and strengthen UN mechanisms for protection of ethnic
and religious minorities in order to prevent future genocides .61 years
to the day after the liberation of Auschwitz, Minority Rights Group
International say promises of 'never again' must be met by states
willingness to push through the full force of UN reform agreed at
September's UN Summit. 


Iraqis head new list of peoples under threat 
New York, (19/1/2006) Iraqis head a new list of peoples most under
threat from persecution, discrimination and mass killing according to a
comprehensive new report released today by Minority Rights Group
International (MRG). Minorities from Sudan, Somalia and other African
countries dominate the rest of the top 15 in State of the World's
Minorities, the first ever report to comprehensively assess the
situation faced by minorities all over the world. 

The report details how states in every world region repress the rights
of their minorities, or even deny their existence, and finds that in
three quarters of the world's armed conflicts violence was targeted at
specific religious or ethnic groups. 


Ethnic and sectarian divisions increase as Iraq goes to the polls 
A flawed constitutional process has exacerbated divisions between Iraq's
different ethnic and religious groups says a new report published today
by Minority Rights Group International (MRG), as Iraqis go to the polls.
The Constitution of Iraq: Religious and Ethnic Relations describes how
drafters of the constitution were segmented along ethnic, religious and
communal lines, heightening the contest between groups over the
redistribution of political power and economic resources. The current
elections, which it is hoped will be a major step towards democracy in
Iraq, are being contested by leading parties whose sectarian base is now
more pronounced. 


Critical high court hearing may decide fate of Chagos Islanders 
A High Court hearing beginning tomorrow, 6 December 2005, could decide
the fate of the Chagos islanders, the community removed from their
homeland by British authorities so the United States could build a
military base. The islanders, some of whom have travelled from
Mauritius, will be organising a demonstration outside the Royal Courts
of Justice at 09:30 to highlight their case. 

The islanders are challenging the British government's declaration last
year that they had no right to live in their island homeland. The
initial removal from their homes was declared unlawful in a landmark
High Court victory in 2000, leading the government to promise they could
return to at least some of the islands. However the government stalled
on even allowing visits, and in 2004, using a power described as a
little-used colonial relic, it declared the islanders had no right to
live in their homeland.


Bosnia: Constitution must incorporate minority rights to dismantle
ethnic divisions 
A new Bosnian constitution must firmly establish minority rights and
dismantle a discriminatory electoral system that enhances ethnic
divisions. MRG stated that such an undertaking is key to healing
entrenched divisions and fostering a pluralist society where all
existing minorities are able to fully participate in public life.
Current negotiations over the new constitution coincide with the eve of
the 10th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement. MRG suggests that
the greatest prospects for stability and confidence building amongst all
ethnic groups lie in effective implementation of minority rights. 


French unrest - minority rights solutions required to tackle the reality
of racism 
Acts violence taking place across France in recent days must be
acknowledged not only as criminal acta, but as a demonstration of
long-term minority neglect, social exclusion, and the need to promote
and protect minority rights. According to MRG, France's assimilationist
policy of minority denial, while founded on a desire for 'colour blind'
equality, fails to address the reality of widespread discrimination,
racism and exclusion, and must be reconsidered. MRG suggests that the
violence that has shocked France and other European states demonstrates
the need for progressive policies of social reform that acknowledge
inherent inequality.


Colombia must investigate disappearance and murder of Afro-descendant
The Colombian government should urgently investigate the murder of an
Afro-Colombian human rights and peace worker in the north-west of the
country, and demonstrate its commitment to ceasing illegal paramilitary
activities. International human rights bodies, including those of the UN
and Organization of American States (OAS), should also use all available
diplomatic and legal measures to help to halt the escalation of
atrocities and harassment against the Afro-Colombian community. 


'Powerful obstacles' continue to hinder indigenous rights, states UN
Indigenous peoples continue to routinely face grave human rights
violations, which in some cases are threatening their physical and
cultural survival. The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights and
fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, has
warned of the 'growing gap' between legislation and the day-to-day
situations faced by indigenous peoples in a report to the UN General
Assembly. Mr Stavenhagen particularly addressed the severe plight of
indigenous women and children, describing violations as 'widespread' and


Focus on: Peoples under threat 2006 

The State of the World’s Minorities - Peoples under threat 2006 
Minority Rights Group International has used advances in political
science to identify, based on current indicators from authoritative
sources, those groups or peoples most under threat at the beginning of
2006. The overall measure is based on a basket of ten indicators, all
relating to 2005. These include indicators of democracy or good
governance from the World Bank, conflict indicators from the Center for
International Development and Conflict Management, indicators of group
division or elite factionalization from the Fund for Peace and the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the State Failure Task Force
data on prior genocides and politicides, and the OECD country credit
risk classification (as a proxy for trade openness). The report has a
strong thematic focus on the war on terror and its impact upon  the
rights and freedoms of minorities in the north and south as well as
situation of ethnic and sectarian tensions in post war Iraq. 

State of the World's Minorities features a comprehensive list of peoples
under threat ranked accroding to the indicators described above.The
report is prefaced by UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide,
Dr Juan Mendez and is available to download from
<http://www.minorityrights.org/Bookshop.asp> in the legal section .

Also see the news section piece ‘Iraqis head new list of peoples under
threat’ for more information on the launch of the report at the UN.
Various media gave the report coverage. For more information please
contact Ilana - temporary media officer at MRG- for links to
reports/comment pieces. Ilana.rapaport@mrgmail.org 

State of the World’s Minorities reporting may be produced annually to
allow MRG to promote advocacy asks around global trends regarding
minority rights and the treatment of minorities. More information on
this will be made available via future e-bulletins.


There will be various vacancies coming up at MRG- in communications and
programmes. Please visit the MRG website for details. Posts will go up
on the recruitment section as soon as they are finalised. 


The Permanent Constitution of Iraq: Inter-religious and Inter-ethnic
Constitution-writing has offered a unique opportunity to determine the
structure of the Iraqi state, and to develop a unified vision to
facilitate peace and stability for all groups in Iraq. On 15 October
2005, following a relatively high turnout, the Constitution was endorsed
by 78 per cent of votes. The massive rejection from the Sunni provinces
showed a failure to reach a nationwide consensus, but some willingness
to engage with the political process. The new permanent Constitution of
Iraq is the first since 1924 to result from an elected constituent
assembly and national referendum. The process also marks a turning point
in Iraq’s beleaguered transition from authoritarian-centralized rule and
subsequent mayhem towards constitutional representative government and
the retrieval of Iraq’s sovereignty. Download via our online book shop
at http://www.minorityrights.org/MRGPublications.asp 

Macedonia Micro: Policies for Improvement of the employment of Roma in
Around two per cent of Macedonia’s 2 million people are Roma (around
54,000) and Roma are by far the poorest population with chronic levels
of unemployment. Roma are grossly under-represented in both the private
and the public sectors in spite of the Frame Work Agreement (developed
by the Working Group for Minority Issues and drawn at the end of
conflict in Macedonia in 2001) The report highlights the major
challenges faced by Macedonian Roma in accessing the employment markets
and shows how the lack of consultation with Roma is limiting government
initiatives to promote their inclusion. The Micro indicates that In
Macedonia, severe underemployment of Roma is driven by poor education
and social exclusion as well as a lack of appropriate access to
government and NGO employment programmes. 

Croatia Micro: Challenges for Sustainable Return of Ethnic Serb Refugees 
The disintegration of former Yugoslavia and the establishment of
independent Croatia resulted din increasing tensions between the Croat
majority and the ethnic Serb minority. This led to armed conflict in
which 950,000 people were displaced within and outside Croatia in
1991-1997. While the return of displaced Croats is almost complete the
return and (re)integration of Serbs remains unresolved. This study
focuses on two critical factors inhibiting sustainable return- access to
housing and unemployment- that are particularly acute in urban areas. 

Download via our online book shop at

Good Governance and Indigenous Peoples in Asia 
Governance is at the heart of most development and poverty reduction
efforts today including those aimed at the realization of the UN
Millenium Development Goals- but it has failed to lift indigenous
peoples out of poverty. This report discusses issues of good governance
that should be seen in the framework of self-determination. It also
discusses the problems faced by indigenous groups in achieving greater
inclusion and participation in the decision making process that affects

Download via our online book shop at

Traditional Customary Laws and Indigenous Peoples in Asia 
For years, traditional laws- or customary laws - in Asia have been
eroded. This report argues that remaining customary laws should be
retained and discusses the extent to which their erosion can be
reversed. The report includes a discussion on the potential and actual
conflict between women’s rights and customary rights. 

Download via our online book shop at

State of the World’s Minorities: Peoples Under Threat 2006 
See ‘focus on’ section for a full brief of this publication and details
of how to download. 

Preventing Genocide and Mass Killing: The Challenge for the United
In this report Professor William. A. Schabas- a foremost expert on the
issue of genocide indicators and genocide prevention discusses the
changing status of human rights within the UN system. The report argues
that if the recommendations  from the United Nations summit 2005
outcomes document ( ratifying UN nations responsibility to protect their
citizens from mass violence) are acted upon then significant positive
benefits in the UN’s ability to prevent genocide and mass killings could
result. Download via our online book shop at

MRG welcomes your comments on this e-bulletin and our work in general,
and greatly values your opinions and information. We hope that you will
find this e-bulletin useful, however, it is not our intention to send
you unwanted messages. If you wish us to remove you from this list,
simply send an email to graham.fox@mrgmail.org stating 'un-subscribe' in
the subject line.

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 

Ilana Rapaport 
Media Officer 
Minority Rights Group International 
54 Commercial Street 
London E1 6LT, UK 
+44 (0)207 422 4205 
+44 (0)7835 108864 

Working to secure the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples

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