United Nations to discuss abolition of #deathpenalty by June end: Ban Ki-moon


Press Trust of India | Updated: June 14, 2013 08:21 IST

United Nations to discuss abolition of death penalty by June end: Ban Ki-moon

United NationsUnited Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has hailed the growing momentum against capital punishment, while voicing concern that a some countries continue to impose the death penalty, often in violation of international standards.In a message to the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty, held in Madrid, Mr. Ban said that the full abolition of the death penalty has support in every region and across legal systems, traditions, customs and religious backgrounds.

Currently, more than 150 countries have either abolished the death penalty or do not practise it. Last year, 174 United Nations Member States were “execution-free”, he said.

“Despite these positive trends, I am deeply concerned that a small number of States continue to impose the death penalty, and thousands of individuals are executed each year, often in violation of international standards,” said the Secretary-General.”Some countries with a longstanding de facto moratorium have recently resumed executions,” he noted.

He said that death penalty is at times used for offences that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” such as drug crimes, and a few States impose capital punishment against juvenile offenders, in violation of international human rights law.

Ban also pointed out that information concerning the application of the death penalty is often cloaked in secrecy, and that the lack of data on the number of executions or the number of individuals on death row “seriously impedes” any informed national debate that may lead to abolition.

“The taking of life is too absolute and irreversible for one human being to inflict on another, even when backed by a legal process. Too often, multiple layers of judicial oversight still fail to reverse wrongful death penalty convictions for years and even decades,” he said.

This problem, he added, will be discussed at a UN panel in New York at the end of this month.

The UN General Assembly first voted on a moratorium in 2007, and again in December 2012, when it adopted a resolution calling for a progressive restriction on the use of capital punishment and eliminating it entirely for felons below the age of 18 and pregnant

 

#China #Censorship – Chinese dissident goes `Gangnam Style` #mustread #mustwatch


OCTOBER 27, 2012 06:25
Ai Weiwei does Gangnam Style. Link to this video

Ai Weiwei, the dissident Chinese artist, has officially hopped on theGangnam Style bandwagon. On Wednesday Ai tweeted a cover version of South Korean rapper Psy‘s enormously popular music video, featuring the hefty 55-year-old artist – brow furrowed, grey-bearded, sunglasses on – dancing frenetically with a cohort of associates in his Beijing courtyard studio.

In the four-minute video Ai, wearing a bright pink shirt and black suit, imitates Psy’s signature horse-riding dance and at one stage loses his sunglasses in the process. The footage is spliced with clips from Psy’s original video but none of it showing the rapper himself. About 55 seconds in Ai pulls a pair of handcuffs from his pocket and waves them above his head, a possible reference to the 81 days he spent in detention last spring.

Ai’s parody is titled Grass Mud Horse Style after an alpaca-like animal invented by China‘s web users as a protest against internet censorship – its pronunciation in Chinese (Cao Ni Ma) sounds similar to a profane insult, forbidden on the country’s social networking sites. Ai’s 2011 work Grass Mud Horse Blocking the Centre shows a nude Ai holding a Grass Mud Horse plush toy over his genitals – the title sounds like an obscenity hurled directly at China’s central party leadership.

PSY’s Gangnam Style has more than 530m views and counting on YouTube. On Tuesday the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, met with the rapper to commend him on his international appeal. “You are so cool; I hope that you can end the global warming,” Ban said, according to Reuters.

Rapper Psy teaches Ban Ki-moon to dance Gangnam Style. 

Ai continues to be a looming presence in the international art world. He’s the subject of a sprawling exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC called Ai Weiwei: According to What? Recently he has contributed commentaries to The Guardian and guest-edited an issue of the New Statesman.

gangam-style-psy-ban-ki-moon-dance-video

Yet Ai’s troubles with the government are far from over. Since his release in June authorities have kept him under close watch. They refuse to return his passport, barring him from accepting a faculty position at Berlin’s University of the Arts. In late September Ai and his company Fake Cultural Development lost their final appeal against a $2.4m tax fine.

“Ai Weiwei’s art and his activism resonate far beyond the art world and encourage an expanded dialogue on crucial social, cultural, and political issues of the day,” Hirshhorn museum director Richard Koshalek said in an exhibit catalogue, according to CNN.

He’s a pretty good dancer to boot.

 

Immediate Release- Indian activists ask PMO to sincerely engage with Burma


8 May 2012

Indian civil societies urge the Prime Minister of India to sincerely engage with Burma

New Delhi: Today, Burma Centre Delhi submitted a memorandum on behalf of Indian civil society groups to the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh before his upcoming landmark visit to Burma.

The memorandum conveys important message to end atrocities targeting ethnic areas, to follow proper environmental standard on the ongoing developmental projects implemented by the two countries and to strengthen historical and bilateral ties.

A copy of memorandum submitted to the PM of India is below

MEMORANDUM

May 8, 2012

To

Dr. Manmohan Singh

Hon’ble Prime Minister of India

Respected Prime Minister,

We heartily welcome your proposed landmark visit to Burma from 10-12 May 2012 which is taking place at a time when the country is going through political reforms and not long after the country witnessed the thumping victory of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy in the April 1 Parliamentary by-elections. You are also aware that these political developments are welcomed by other international communities as is evident from the series of visits made by prominent dignitariesfrom governments around the world including US Secretary of State Hillary ClintonBritish Prime Minister David Cameron and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

This much-awaited political reform will enhance Burma’s engagement with other countries like EU, US and ASEAN. Thus, at this important turn of events in its immediate strategic neighbour, India should also take an opportunity and play a significant role by strengthening its historical relations and engage with pro-democracy groups led by Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy and other ethnic political parties.

As this landmark visit will strengthen bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries, it is pertinent for India to develop a fresh thinking in this new political scenario in Burma.Alongside its national interest, India must be sincerely committed to strengthen democracy and facilitate the process of national reconciliation in Burma.

We the Civil Society Groups and citizens of India would like to draw your kind attention before your upcoming landmark visit to Burma on the following crucial issues that urgently need your kind intervention and action.

1.       The issue of ethnic nationalities remains a serious concern and must be made a priority while engaging with President Thein Sein’s government in order to secure a durable political settlement. India should also press for an end to atrocities targeting ethnic areas particularly in Kachin state, restoration of the civil and democratic rights of the Rohingya, end of atrocities in Arakan and safe repatriation of the Rohingya refugees.

2.       The ongoing developmental joint ventures implemented by the two countries for which a standard Environmental Impact Assessment, implementation process such as public consultation should be conducted as envisaged in the project to ensure the desired vision is achieved. Project related documents should also be made public. That these developmental projects should not have undesired effect such as displacement of the communities in both the countries.

3.       Construction of Tamanthi Hydroelectric Power Project (THPP) on the Chindwin River in northwest Burma’s Sagaing Division is another serious concern. The water current due to construction of this proposed Dam is estimated to wipe out an area of approximately 1,400 sq km. (the size of Delhi) displacing over 45,000 people living nearby. Over 2,400 villagers have already been forcibly evicted in 2007 from the Dam site, with a mere compensation of US $ 5 (Rs 500 INR).

4.       The Kaladan Multi-Modal Project, developed by India in 2008 to improve connectivity between the two countries has raised several concerns in border areas of Burma and India. The project requires an estimated 196.75 hectares of forest land to be cleared. The development along the port and river will displace thousands of people from their homes and livelihood. While an environmental and Social Impact Assessments have not been conducted till date, the project implementation is already way behind its stipulated time frame of 2010. Communities specifically beneficiaries inhabiting border areas in Burma and India have no information about the proposed project.

We strongly urge the Honourable Prime Minister to take these matters into utmost importance while meeting with President Thein Sein.

We urged Hon’ble Prime Minister to ensure democratic process and people’s participation in the development process of the two countries, whereby developing strong ties and strengthening neighbourly relations.

We are confident that the visit of our Honorable Prime Minister to Burma will bring encouraging results and strengthen ties not only in trade and security but also enhance co-operation at the people-to-people level.

Sincerely,

Indian Civil Society Groups

Endorsed by:

1.       Burma Centre Delhi

2.       Grassroot Development Network

3.       Zo Indigenous Forum

4.       MANUSHI

5.       Vinish Gupta

6.       Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur)

7.       Arun Khote

8.       Peoples Media Advocacy & Resources Center- PMARC

9.       Dalits Media Watch

10.   Anand Bala – Bangalore

11.   Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)

12.   Vidya Bhushan Rawat

13.   Journalists’ Forum Assam, Guwahati

14.   CACIM

15.   Dr. Vandana Shiva, Navdanya/Research Foundation for Science Technology & Ecology

16.   Himalayan Peoples Forum

17.   Uttarakhand Parivartan Party (UKPP)

18.   Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, Editor, The Milli Gazette, New Delhi

19.    Mahtab Alam, Civil Rights Activist and Journalist

20.   Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human rights lawyer and activist, Mumbai

21.   Amar Kanwar

22.   Anjuman Ara Begum, Guwahati

23.   Pradeep Esteves, Context India, Bangalore

24.   Dr. Subash Mohapatra, Journalist

25.   Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)

26.   Jharkhand Alternative Development Forum

27.   Hiren Gandhi and Saroop Dhruv, DARSHAN, Ahmedabad

Contact:

Burma Centre Delhi

Vikaspuri, New Delhi – 110018

Tele:             +91-11-45660619

Email: office@burmacentredelhi.org

www.burmacentredelhi.org

UN appeals to India to ratify global nuclear test ban treaty


Ban Ki-moon

Image via Wikipedia

7TH FEB, 2012

United Nations: UN chief Ban Ki-moon has appealed to eight countries, including India, to ratify the CTBT to bring the global nuclear test ban into force.

The UN secretary general made the appeal after Indonesia became the 157th country to adopt the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Besides India, China, North Korea, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the US are the other nations in a core group of 44 nuclear countries which did not ratify the treaty.

The 44 nations which must ratify the CTBT to bring it into force all have nuclear weapons or atomic programmes.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has appealed to eight countries, including India, to ratify the CTBT to bring the global nuclear test ban into force. AFP

This would accelerate the entry of CTBT into force, Ban said after his meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa at the UN headquarters.

During their meeting, Ban stressed the importance of Indonesia’s ratification of the CTBT given that the country is one of the so-called Annex 2 States, whose endorsement is required for the treaty to enter into force, a UN release said.

PTI

Cameroon- Breast Ironing to avoid sexual violence


In a desperate attempt to prevent sexual assault and teen pregnancy, Cameroonian mothers are literally ironing their daughters’ breasts with hot stones to make them less attractive.

Breast ironing is not an acceptable form of pregnancy prevention or a replacement for sex education.

The ritual affects a quarter of all women in Cameroon and as soon as they show signs of puberty, sometimes as young as nine. The girls cry as they’re held down and scalding hot stones are pressed onto their breasts.

The possible damage of this practice can be severe, including bruises, deformities, abscesses, and even the disappearance of one or both breasts.

Cameroon mothers may think breast ironing is “for their [daughters’] own good,” but it’s not the way to prevent sexual violence and early pregnancy. Urge UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to speak out against breast ironing and to advocate for adequate sex education in Cameroon.
Please do sign the petition

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/154/051/021/>

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