International Women’s day- We are One Woman: A Song #Video #Womensday


From China to Costa Rica, from Mali to Malaysia, acclaimed singers and musicians, women and men, have come together to spread a message of unity and solidarity: We are “One Woman“.

Launching on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013, the song is a rallying cry that inspires listeners to join the drive for women’s rights and gender equality. “One Woman” was written for UN Women, the global champion for women and girls worldwide, to celebrate its mission and work to improve women’s lives around the world.

This year, International Women’s Day focuses on ending violence against women — a gross human rights violation that affects up to 7 in 10 women and a top priority for UN Women. As commemorations are underway in all corners of the globe, “One Woman” reminds us that together, we can overcome violence and discrimination: “We Shall Shine!” Join us to help spread the word and enjoy this musical celebration of women worldwide.

 

Forced Labor, Human Trafficking and Mental Health


Refugees, Gare de Lyon, Paris (LOC)

Refugees, Gare de Lyon, Paris (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Forced Labor, Human Trafficking and Mental Health: The Experiences of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in MalaysiaResearch Report by Health Equity Initiatives
 
 Report (ATTACHED) and available  online  here
 
Malaysia is host to one of the largest refugee and asylum seeker populations in Asia. The absence of refugee protection in the national legal system is an overarching structural issue that gives rise to many issues and concerns. Unable to work legally in the country, many refugees and asylum seekers survive on low-paying jobs in the plantation, construction, manufacturing, or service sectors – albeit without legal protection and with increased vulnerability to human trafficking and forced labor. Although Malaysia has ratified 5 out of 8 core ILO conventions, notably the C29 Forced Labor Convention (1930), the rights of non-citizens under these and other domestic laws apply only to those deemed legal. Refugees and asylum seekers are considered “ illegal immigrants” under Malaysian law, specifically the Immigration Act 1959/63 (Act 155).
 
Malaysia is considered to be a destination country and to a lesser extent, a source and transit country for persons experiencing human trafficking – including for forced labor. The Malaysian government has undertaken several measures to address human trafficking in the country. However, protection and psychosocial assistance to people who have experienced forced labor and human trafficking, and the specific vulnerability of refugees and asylum seekers to forced labor and human trafficking, are emerging areas of concern in Malaysia – although lacking in systematic inquiry. Equally, the medical and psychological consequences of forced labor are a relatively under-examined research topic. This report, seeks to address these gaps.
 
The findings of this study were first released at a National Consultation on the Health Dimensions of Human Trafficking and Forced Labor: The Malaysian Experience and Response, co-organized by Health Equity Initiatives, the Malaysian Bar Council and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, on 26 July 2011.
 
For more information, please email admin@healthequityinitiatives.com
 
For the reports on the National Consultation on the Health Dimensions of Human Trafficking and Forced Labor: The Malaysian Experience and Response, please click here.
 
Warm regards,

Health Equity Initiatives

End Death Calls for Saudi Poet and Blogger


 By- Paul  Mutter -The National reports that the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has “issued a fatwa against Twitter, demanding that ‘real Muslims’ avoid it, calling it a ‘platform for trading accusations and for promoting lies’.”

The pretext for this condemnation of social media is the case of the Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari, who was extradited from Malaysia to the Kingdom after tweeting about the Prophet Muhammad in a manner that the religious authorities deemed blasphemous. If the Saudis wish to make an example, he will be facing blasphemy charges, and possibly death, rather than a lesser (though still absurd) sentencing that would end in him paying a fine. There’s also talk of taking action against anyone who retweeted his messages.

But considering that thousands of Twitter users called attention to Kashgari’s tweets, literally demanding his head, it’s ironic that the Grand Mufti says Muslims should stay off Twitter, since clearly, many salafis are using, and policing it.

And, as The National notes, it’s even more ironic that the Grand Mufti’s issuing a ban since Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the King’s nephew and reputedly the richest man in Saudi Arabia, purchased 3.6% of Twitter’s stock for US$300 million this past December.

The fact that the Grand Mufti wants Twitter gone while a prince wants to buy its shares up nicely illustrates the uneasy dual monarchy that has defined clerical-royal relationship since the 18th century. The monarchy set up in 1923 is actually a dual monarchy because the royal family must maintain the approval of the Wahhabi ulema to rule, and there are those who question this “right” – one of the first crises of the Saudi state occured when the monarchy and ulema, fearing the Ikhwan tribal militias who had won control of the Hejaz for them, turned on the militiamen. The House of Saud procured the British machine guns, the clergy produced a justificatory edict for the crackdown.

As Toby C. Jones notes, “the ulema’s support for the regime is not unconditional. They remain controversial, provocative and confrontational.” Oil wealth and investment portfolios allow Saudi princes to study at Sandhurst and hobnob with French socialites, but they also subsidize the religious-dominated educational system and the social welfare net, which the Saudis have been working to expand in the wake of the Arab Spring, that help hold society together on the al-Sauds’ behalf. “The rebel in you” Kashgari refers to with respect to the Prophet Muhammad is precisely the sort of Islamic value that the Saudi status quo cannot handle — hence the sharp responses from the government against anyone urging reform, including Salafis and secularists. The Sahwas — former Islamist radicals who have become “partners” of the establishment — are the closest thing to a political opposition Saudi Arabia has, their presence is limited by the government and they must be careful not to push too far in the Islamist direction that Osama bin Laden fell in with. One promiment Sahwa spiritual leader has argued in the past that “sovereignty belongs to God alone,” which is indeed “a challenge both to the idea that Saudi citizens should enjoy more participation in governance as well as to the royal family itself.”

Hamza Kashgari’s case is one of free speech. The religious establishment, wanting to remain the arbiter of social norms in the Kingdom and hold onto the power it has accrued, is hoping to denigrate a medium that they fear because of its prominent — though exaggerated — role in the “Arab Spring.” They can’t reconcile themselves to globe-spanning electronic mediums that might lead their congregations to start thinking thought crimes. A chilling message has been sent already through the extradition from Malaysia; it will depend on the royal family if the intended message stops with a fine, or with Kashgari’s execution.

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Malaysia deports Saudi journalist accused of insulting prophet


 Hamza Kashgari fled to Malaysia after calls for death penalty in response to Twitter comment about Muhammad

Kate Hodal, Bangkok, Feb  13, 2012,-Malaysia has deported a Saudi journalist accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad on Twitter, despite claims by rights groups that he could face the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Hamza Kashgari, 23, a newspaper columnist, tweeted doubts about Muhammad on the prophet’s birthday last weekend. After death threats, he fled to Malaysia on Tuesday and was detained at Kuala Lumpur airport while trying to leave on Thursday. Malaysian police said Kashgari was handed over to Saudi officials and flown back on Sunday morning, with flight arrangements handled by the Saudi authorities.

Malaysia and Saudi Arabia do not share a formal extradition treaty, but do have close ties as fellow Muslim countries. The Malaysian interior minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said in a statement that Kashgari’s deportation was due to a common agreement.

“Malaysia had a long-standing arrangement by which individuals wanted by one country are extradited when detained by the other, and [Kashgari] will be repatriated under this agreement,” the statement read. “The nature of the charges against the individual in this case are a matter for the Saudi Arabian authorities.”

Kashgari had tweeted about Muhammad last week: “I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you, and there is a lot I don’t understand about you. I will not pray for you.” He deleted the tweet and apologised, but it attracted more than 30,000 responses, including death threats that spread from Twitter to YouTube and Facebook. Saudi clerics called him an apostate, and a Facebook page demanded his execution. Apostasy, abandonment or renunciation of faith, is a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi clerics have already made up their mind that Kashgari is an apostate who must face punishment,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Malaysian government should not be complicit in sealing Kashgari’s fate by sending him back.”

A lawyer for Kashgari called the deportation unlawful and said his counsel had not been informed that he was to be sent back to Saudi Arabia.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said Malaysia’s actions set an all new low. “If Kashgari faces execution back in Saudi Arabia, the Malaysian government will have blood on its hands. The Malaysian government engaged in the most crass form of bait and switch, secretly sending Kashgari back, claiming the return is based on a long-standing understanding between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that there is no bilateral extradition treaty between the two. When seeking a seat on the UN human rights council, the Malaysian government pledged it would abide by international human rights treaties, but from the day they took their seat they have walked away from that pledge.”

A lawyer for Kashgari said that he had obtained a court order preventing his client’s deportation but had been stopped by authorities from serving it.

Fadiah Nadwa Fikri told the Malaysian Star: “When we tried to serve the order at the Kuala Lumpur international airport, an immigration officer there confirmed Kashgari had been deported. This is in contempt of court and a violation of human rights.” He added that Kashgari had been denied access to his lawyers since his arrest on Thursday.

Kashgari said in an interview that he was a “scapegoat for a larger conflict” over his comments, Reuters reported. Amnesty International labelled Kashgari a prisoner of conscience and called for his release.

Two weeks ago Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh called on Muslims to avoid Twitter as it “invited [people] to throw charges between them, and to lie in a manner that brings fame to some”, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Saudi Arabia has the third highest number of Twitter users in the Arab region, according to a social media report by the Dubai School of Government. However, those users comprise 0.5% of the nation’s overall population of 27 million.

In January, California-based Twitter said it would censor tweets in certain countries, fuelling debate over freedom of speech on the internet. Thailand, where strict censorship rules already apply, was the first nation to publicly approve of Twitter’s decision. In Malaysia, police have used Twitter and other social media to try to warn activists against rallying in support of the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. In Indonesia, a government minister announced last week that people tweeting in violation of local law – relating to pornography, gambling, threats, fraud and blasphemy – could face seven to 12 years in jail, the Jakarta Globe reported.

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