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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: June 24, 2021
Posted: June 24, 2021 at 11:48 pm
VAGA Group has launched a new website - VAGARIGHTS.com. The site will be taking over from VAGA.org, which previously published all of the biohacking publication's reviews, articles and news. Vagarights.com will be run by Brian Johnson, who also remains Editor of VAGA.org.
VAGA, the biotechnology company and biohacking publication, has launched a new website: vagarights.com. The site will publish supplement reviews, biohacking articles, and the latest news from the world of biotechnology and biohacking. As was the case with VAGA.org, vagarights.com will primarily focus on specific areas of biohacking, including: neurohacking and nootropics, probiotics and microbiome engineering, immune system modulation, and longevity research. The site will publish in-depth supplement reviews on the latest and most popular nootropics, probiotics, prebiotics, omega 3 capsules, multivitamins, and greens powders on the market.
VAGARIGHTS.com was launched to allow VAGA.org to shift focus onto more popular articles aimed at people new to biohacking, as well as more general interest biotechnology content. VAGARIGHTS.com, by contrast, will amost exclusively focus on supplement reviews and news relating to biotechnology advances.
According to Brian Johnson, Editor and primary author of most of VAGA's content, the new site will help VAGA deliver better content to its readers. He said: "Vagarights.com will allow us to provide much more extensive and in-depth reviews of the newest biohacking supplements while simultaneously giving our readers the kind of readable, fun and engaging content they demand."
VAGARIGHTS is based in New York. You can contact the biotechnology company at 111 Broadway #1006, New York, NY 10006, United States. Alternatively, you can reach the Editor, Brian Johnson, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Press enquiries should be sent to email@example.com.
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Posted: at 11:47 pm
With elections looming on 12 August, a thick cloud of oppression has been brewing over Zambia. In recent years, the authorities have carried out brutal repression, including systematic harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and activists, and the restriction of civic space. The death of the founding president Kenneth Kaunda last week, has left the nation, and indeed the region, in a state of mourning, drawing a sharp contrast between his independence vision of unity and the current state of affairs.
Since the last election in 2016, when the Patriotic Front retained its power, a climate of repression has set in, characterised by the closing of civic space and political intolerance of peaceful dissent. Over the past five years, there has been a creation of a fear society through the demonising of civil society and political opposition, the punishing of dissent, and weaponising the law and applying selectively it against anyone critical of the state. People who are seen to be critical of the government have been victimised and faced sustained harassment and intimidation by the state and non-state actors aligned with the Patriotic Front, including having their rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression restricted.
In 2018, hip-hop musician and notable activist Chama Fumba, popularly known as Pilato, was jailed upon his return to Zambia from South Africa after the release of his song Koswe Mumpoto, which translates to rat in a pot in the Bemba language after some people interpreted it to mean that he was comparing the ruling elite to rats. His arrest, harassment and intimidation were a shocking demonstration of how far the Zambian government was prepared to go to strangle all criticism and crack down on human rights.
No less than two years later, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, authorities ordered the cancellation of independent television news channel Prime TVs broadcasting licence. It was alleged that the station refused to air the governments Covid-19 public-awareness campaigns because it was owed money for airing previous state-sponsored advertisements.
However, looking closely at the closure of Prime TV, it seemed to have something to do with politics, because the station had been targeted before for its critical reporting. In March 2019, the independent broadcaster was suspended for 30 days by the Independent Broadcasting Authority, citing failure to comply with the conditions of its broadcasting licence. Caught in the whirling downfall of media freedom, along with Pilato and Prime TV, was Mafken Radio, whose offices were threatened with being burned down by Patriotic Front cadres because they hosted the leader of the opposition party, Hakainde Hichilema.
Laura Miti is one of many fervent anti-corruption and human rights activists who have faced constant harassment and intimidation for protesting and exposing allegations of government corruption. In December 2019, along with fellow activist Bornwell Mwewa, she was arrested and charged with assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct for showing solidarity to Pilato after he was arrested for unlawful assembly in violation of the Public Order Act. This was for hosting a youth forum aimed at raising awareness about civic responsibility. When Miti and Mwewa tried to obtain information from police on Pilatos arrest, they were arrested and Mitis phone was forcibly taken from her.
While Pilato, Miti and Mwewa have since been acquitted of all charges, the authorities have continued to target individuals based on their peaceful expression of opinions, especially those critical of the government. For example, in June 2020 a number of youth protested what they termed endemic corruption and excessive use of force by the police. The governments response was to deploy fully armed riot police across Lusaka, only to be outwitted by youth protesters, who took their dissent to the internet via live-stream to avoid a confrontation.
The exercise of human rights online is also under increasing threat, as shown by the case of Shishuwa Shishuwa, a political commentator and academic. Sishuwa received threats from some Patriotic Front cadres, after he opined in the Mail & Guardian that the country could be headed for violence after the August election because of the prevailing political tension and demonisation of opposition voices.
The University of Zambia, Shishuwas employer, has since distanced itself from him. Sishuwas case, which has attracted rebuke from across the continent and the world community of academia, exemplifies not just a-well calculated attack on freedom of expression, but also a more vicious threat to academic freedom and autonomy of universities that postcolonial states in Africa promised to keep and defend.
Authorities are now targeting the digital space with recently passed laws such as the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act. With its loosely defined terms, such as cyber-bullying, the law is open to abuse by the authorities to target and censor human-rights defenders and activists and deny rights to privacy and information. The controversial law has been fiercely opposed by civil society, with many people arguing that it is a serious threat to the human rights of people on- and offline.
The political trends over the past five years are pointing to fears of human rights violations and crack downs as the political campaign gains momentum ahead of the August election. Over the past five years, Amnesty International has kept a close eye on these and other human rights events in Zambia and we will be releasing our next instalment on Monday 28 June. As Zambians head to the polls, authorities must guarantee and ensure human rights, including the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly. Anything short of that will be a travesty.
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Posted: at 11:47 pm
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Supporters of the Balderas Party, one of the major opposition parties, participate in an election campaign in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on June 16, 2021.
Michael Tewelde/Xinhua via Getty Images
Ethiopians head to the polls on Monday, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promoting a message of unity against a backdrop of conflict and impending famine in the north of the country.
The national elections, which will see 547 federal parliament members elected and the leader of the winning party become prime minister, were due to be held in August 2020 but were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his work in ending a 20-year post-war territorial dispute with Eritrea, earlier this week called on Ethiopians to ensure "the first free and fair election in the country."
Monday marks his first electoral test since taking office in 2018 on the back of mass protests against the former coalition government, which was dominated by the Tigray People's Liberation Front.
But despite setting out with a bold reformist agenda that included crackdowns on corruption and release of political prisoners, Abiy last year found himself waging military operations against the TPLF in the northern Tigray region after it seized military bases.
The subsequent conflict has led to mass casualties and displacement, though no formal death toll has been established, and put the region on the brink of famine, according to the United Nations. Meanwhile, allegations of human rights abuses have cast clouds over the federal government's international reputation. The African Union this week launched an inquiry to investigate these allegations.
The legitimacy of the election has also been called into question after parties in Oromia, Ethiopia's most populous region from whence Abiy hails, said they will boycott it on accusations of government oppression.
The Oromo Liberation Front announced in March that it would withdraw after the jailing of party leaders and alleged shuttering of its national offices. The Oromo Federalist Congress pulled out on similar grounds, as prominent figures were imprisoned on terror charges.
The withdrawals coincided with a spike in deadly attacks in Oromia and parts of the northwestern region of Amhara, which have been blamed on a militant offshoot of the OLF.
Amhara militia men, in combat alongside federal and regional forces against the northern region of Tigray, receive training in the outskirts of the village of Addis Zemen, north of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on November 10, 2020.
EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images
Meanwhile the TPLF is now formally designated as a terrorist organization, with its leaders either arrested, waging guerilla warfare in Tigray, or on the run.
"The main challenge to the elections is insecurity, notably in western and southern Oromia where the activities of ethnic-based militia are very much designed to undermine the election process itself," Louw Nel, senior political analyst at NKC African Economics, said in a research note Thursday.
"Ethiopian security forces have struggled to create the conditions conducive to free and fair elections in the most troubled areas and have been implicated in abuses of their own."
Insecurity is also a concern in the western region of Benishangul-Gumuz, fueled by competition over resources, Nel highlighted, along with long-standing ethnic animosities.
Though dozens of parties have fielded candidates, only the Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice has a party leader with a substantial national profile Berhanu Nega, who was elected mayor of the country's capital Addis Ababa in 2005 before being ousted by the TPLF-led government and jailed.
The National Election Board of Ethiopia announced on June 10 that the elections would no longer proceed in the Harar and Somali regions, along with a referendum on the establishment of a new state from multiple districts in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Regional State.
This in addition to the 40 constituencies and six regions where polls were postponed in May due to disruptions to voter registration. While these polls are now scheduled for September 6, elections in war-ravaged Tigray are postponed indefinitely, "effectively disenfranchising 5.7 million people who mostly oppose the federal government," according to a recent report by political risk consultancy Pangea-Risk.
Abiy claimed victory in Tigray in November 2020 and the region is now under an interim administration, after the government declared the TPLF premiership illegal. However, it is still contending with a low-level insurgency, which the Pangea-Risk report suggested increases the risk of disproportionate warfare tactics from rebel groups.
"Ongoing insecurity, delayed elections, and a seemingly bungled telecoms licensing round are all indicators for concern as Ethiopia struggles to recover from the pandemic and the economy slows to its lowest growth rate in almost 20 years," the report said.
The conflict in Tigray has inflicted global reputational damage, which could have a knock-on effect on interest in the country as an investment destination, a key tenet of Abiy's push toward privatization and economic liberation.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - People listen as staff members of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) explain how to vote in the upcoming general election scheduled on June 21, 2021, under an overpass in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 17, 2021.
YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images
"Companies, once buoyed by the prospect of investing in a country led by a Nobel Peace Prize winner set on opening it up to the world, now face reputational risk investing in a country associated with war crimes and famine," said NKC's Nel.
The government is currently looking to auction off a 40% stake in Ethio Telecom, which is still generating interest, with the ultimate ambition being to generate revenues through partial privatization and new license tenders, along with alleviating the debt burden generated in part by state-owned enterprises such as Ethio Telecom.
"A relatively peaceful election will go some way in rehabilitating Ethiopia, and Mr Abiy's, image," Nel said.
"Violence in the run-up to and following elections will do the opposite, exposing the country as fractured and accelerating its isolation."
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Posted: at 11:47 pm
Alex Gladstein is Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation, Vice President of Strategy for the Oslo Freedom Forum, and the preeminent advocate for Bitcoin as a tool for human rights activists around the world to fight back against censorship and government oppression. We talked via phone just before he was appearing at a semi-exclusive Cafe Bitcoin Clubhousewith Lightning Network Founder Elizabeth Stark and uber-podcaster Peter McCormack about bringing Bitcoin to billions of people worldwide (that is, not just the billionaires).
Gladstein, who began at HRF in 2007, has described Bitcoin as an escape hatch from tyranny and a Trojan Horse for freedom. In a recent contribution to Bitcoin Magazine, Check Your Financial Privilege, he lambasted the arrogance of wealthy Bitcoin critics who live in liberal democracies and take the stability of reserve currency status for granted.
He introduces readers to a Nigerian entrepreneur, a Sudanese doctor and an Ethiopian businessman, whose stories illuminate the revolutionary impact that a permissionless, borderless, non-discriminatory monetary system could have on the billions who cannot open a savings account, send money abroad or receive payment over the internet.
The HRF, which began accepting Bitcoin donations in 2014, has long recognized the digital currencys potential as a force for individual liberty. In June 2020, it launched the Bitcoin Development Fund to support software developers working to strengthen the Bitcoin network so it can serve as a financial tool for human rights activists, civil society organizations and journalists around the world. Grants have been awarded to developers and privacy-focused projects including CoinSwap, JoinInbox, Zeus and Fully Noded.
In 2009, Gladstein helped launch the Oslo Freedom Forum, HRFs series of conferences under the slogan Challenging Power. HRF began holding Bitcoin-human rights workshops in 2017, connecting global activists with philanthropists, policy makers, artists and innovators. Gladstein guides the organizations growth, fundraising and media, focusing on advocacy for the Bitcoin network.
The following has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
CoinDesk: How do you define human rights, and how does Bitcoin fit into that definition?
Alex Gladstein: There are two types of human rights: negative rights (liberties) and positive rights (entitlements). The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is split, because the document was a negotiation between the Americans, who wanted liberties, and the Soviets, who wanted entitlements. The first half kind of reads like the United States Bill of Rights it includes the freedom of speech and thought, private property, and freedom to participate in your government. The second half includes the right to shelter, education and healthcare.
HRF focuses on negative rights, because we believe theyre the foundation for an open society that works for everybody. If a dictatorship claims to just focus on the entitlements its taking a shortcut and its all just a house of cards. Without a free press and other basic liberties, you cant have a vibrant, growing, healthy society.
Bitcoin underscores free speech and property rights, and it checks authoritarianism. Its a monetary system that governments cannot manipulate. If the government has total control over the economy, its game over.
What are your top priorities now at the HRF and Oslo Freedom Forum?
Bitcoin is a voluntary phenomenon, but if activists want to use it, HRF wants to help them by providing education, resources and advice. We focus on supporting the improvement of the Bitcoin protocol and the apps, because the technology needs to become more usable. HRF supports the research of the Open Money Initiative, and last year we launched a fund that gives money away to developers that are helping the Bitcoin network become more secure, resilient and offer better privacy for users.
How do activists around the world use Bitcoin to advance their causes?
Activists in many countries have major problems with money either they live under double or triple-digit inflation, or governments are easily able to surveil and shutter their bank accounts. Bitcoin can play a huge role here because it cannot be censored or stopped.
Bitcoin can play a huge role here because it cannot be censored or stopped.
Last October, there were protests against SARS across Nigeria. The Feminist Coalition had to begin accepting money through Bitcoin because all of their bank accounts were frozen. In Belarus, the opposition movement is using Bitcoin to support pro-democracy activists because its the safest way for them to receive money. In Russia, many journalists and media outlets covering Alexei Navalny have had their accounts frozen and are now using Bitcoin. These are just a few examples.
What do you want newcomers to the Bitcoin community to know?
Bitcoin can help everybody. I focus on helping people living under authoritarian regimes, but theres monetary repression happening everywhere. Dont forget that there are millions of people in America who are underbanked or who are financially discriminated against.
Theres a lot of scams out there, and its hard for people to differentiate between Bitcoin and thousands of other cryptocurrencies. I would encourage newcomers to spend a few months developing a solid understanding of why Bitcoin is different why Bitcoin is the revolution. Its a money system that is beyond the control of any one group of people, and weve never had anything like that before.
How can the Bitcoin community best support the work of the Human Rights Foundation?
Bitcoin is a global, open-source money project that is an alternative or the only option for so many people. The best way to support HRFs work is to give back to Bitcoin developers who are improving the network and making Bitcoin more decentralized and resilient. You can donate through OpenSats, Brink, or HRFs Bitcoin Development Fund. A lot of developers have a GitHub page where you can donate to them directly. Invest in strengthening the network, and well all benefit.
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Posted: at 11:47 pm
Thousands of Hongkongers lined up from the early hours ofThursdaymorning to buy the last ever print copy of the pro-democracy Apple Dailynewspaper, after the paper was forced to close after running afoul of the city's draconian national security law.
The print run for the paper's final edition ran to a million copies, with local residents forming long lines at news kiosks and convenience stores across the city.
"Painful partings in the rain," ran the banner headline, with a photo of supporters gathered outside the paper's headquarters late onWednesday, emblazoned with a quotation that read simply: "We support Apple."
Staff and supporters lit up their phone flashlights and waved to each other through the evening, with dozens of vehicles lining the street outside the paper's headquarters in Tseung Kwan O.
An article posted to the paper's website onWednesdaytitled "Apple's final chapter after 26 years of fighting the good fight" looked back at the paper's inception, just two years before Hong Kong's handover to Chinese rule onJuly 1, 1997.
"Please believe that all is darkest before dawn," the article said.
Journalists' unions spoke out against the latest "government blow to the freedom of the press" in Hong Kong, which saw the Apple Daily and its parent company Next Media forced to shut down operations after national security police froze H.K.$18 million in assets.
"In face of continuous government oppression, the 26-year-old media organization ceased operationtoday," the Hong Kong Journalists' Association (HKJA) said in a joint statement with other media unions onThursday.
"The HKJA expresses anger and pain for the loss of this much valued multi-media press group that had long been pursuing and defending journalism," it said.
Employees of the Apple Daily newspaper shine phone torches from an office balcony and shout thanks to supporters down on the street below in Hong Kong, June 23, 2021. Credit: AFPThe unions, which included the Next Media union and the RTHK Programme Staff Union, called on members to wear black in protest at a government attack on press freedom.
"We cannot take to the streets to express our dissatisfaction as we are bound by the group gathering ban [due to COVID-19], but it wont keep us silent," the statement said.
The closure of the Apple Daily came after an op-ed writer widely known by his penname Li Ping, was arrested by national security police onWednesdayon suspicion of "collusion with a foreign power," under a draconian national security law imposed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Hong Kong fromJuly 1, 2020.
National security police had earlier descended on the headquarters of Next Digital in Tseung Kwan O onJune 17, confiscating computers and journalistic materials police said was "evidence" of collusion with foreign forces under the national security law, and arresting five of its executives.
Chief editor Ryan Law and Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung have since been charged with "collusion with foreign powers," while three other executives have been released on bail without being charged.
Meanwhile, the company's landlord, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park Corp., has served notice for Next Digital to quit their premises.
A notice on the former Apple Daily website said: "We are sad to inform you that Apple Daily and Next Magazines web and app content will no longer be accessible at 23:59,23 June 2021, HKT."
"Good luck, and goodbye," the message said.
A foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing warned that no media organization would be allowed to "endanger national security" in the name of press freedom.
"The authority of the National Security Law can't be challenged," the spokesman said, calling on critics in U.S. and other "Western" nations to stop interfering in China's internal affairs.
Reported by Malik Wang, Carmen Wu, Chan Yun Nam and Qiao Long for RFA's Cantonese and Mandarin Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.
Guest Commentary: Without Social, Economic, and Political Equality, There Is No Freedom – The Peoples Vanguard of Davis
Posted: at 11:47 pm
A Juneteenth meditation from the Reverend Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. of Riverside Church.
By Rev. Dr. James A Forbes, Jr.
While preparing for our Juneteenth celebration at Carnegie Hall this year, I re-read General Order No. 3, presented by General Granger in Galveston, Tex. on June 19, 1865. This order famously communicated to Texans news of the Emancipation Proclamation: all enslaved people were to be freed. I observed that the order combines two elements that only the Creator could grant. From a prophetic perspective, although the proclamation of freedom was from the president of the United States, only God can grant freedom and absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves. Consider these words from General Order No. 3:
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor.
The Founding Fathers recognized that we were endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In this spirit, I see the divine mandate for the combination of freedom and equality insinuated in General Order No. 3. The ecstasy of freedom and the exhilaration of equality belong together. Celebrations of freedom that do not recognize the fundamental equality of all people miss the mark of divine intentionality. In the light of this theological affirmation, I see a deficit in situations where freedom is separated from social, economic, and political equality.
Lets recall the time when we rejoiced about the new and free South Africa. On the evening of April 27, 1994, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Danny Glover, and I met in a restaurant in Johannesburg to watch the returns from the election. Our hearts were filled with joy that apartheid had been defeated. The people danced the toyi-toyi. Yet, we recognized that the victory was incomplete because the negotiations and the election did not include serious redistribution of economic resources. I thought about the fact that the most exciting occasion during my tenure as senior minister at the Riverside Church in New York had been the visit of Nelson Mandela after his release from prison. His freedom was grand and glorious, and so was the election of a new government in South Africa.
But dont forget the prophetic formula freedom and equality together. After the election, it became obvious that there is only a hint of freedom until the inequities of oppression areaddressed in substantive economic and political terms.
Some years later, Riverside Church was blessed with significant stock market returns. We were always proud of our profile as strong advocates of social justice. While we were celebrating these blessings, it occurred to us that we could only thank God with integrity as we became willing to make an investment in the wellbeing of our Harlem community. I was so pleased when the congregation voted to invest $10 million from our endowment for that purpose. Freedom and economic justice belong together.
Following the massacre of the Mother Emanuel Nine in Charleston, South Carolina, various churches and community organizations began efforts to address the racial and political divisions plaguing our nation. The confederate statues and flags came down, and doors of opportunity were opened. But the deep scars of brutalization from racial oppression would require comprehensive efforts to repair the damage done by white supremacist ideology and practices.
Fully aware of the freedom and equality mandate, I tried to imagine what concrete steps could be taken to move us toward the beloved community the Creator had intended for us. That is why I wrote the White Manifesto, Plea and Petition. Perhaps, we will be inclined to seek cosmic companionship as we work our way to being not only employers and hired labor, but sisters and brothers of one family.
With the Senates passage of a bill to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday, it is my hope that we will keep in mind the prophetic formula hidden in General Order No. 3. That will prevent the trivialization of the holiday, and the movement toward a more perfect union. May we hold ourselves to the standard of freedom and equality together, until we are not only a democratic society, but also a beloved community.
Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. , is a National Minister
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NWAC Demands Criminal Charges Against Governments, Churches, & Others Responsible for Deaths of Thousands of Children – GlobeNewswire
Posted: at 11:47 pm
OTTAWA, June 24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Native Womens Association of Canada (NWAC) is writing today to the Attorney General of Canada to demand that charges be laid in the deaths of Indigenous children at Indian residential schools after the horrific discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the Marieval school in Saskatchewan.
NWAC is demanding that all sites of former Indian residential schools immediately be declared crime scenes and that investigations be conducted to determine how each and every Indigenous child buried at those sites died, and who is responsible for their deaths. In addition, we are demanding that charges be laid against people still living who are found to be the perpetrators of these crimes, including the members of the religious orders that ran the schools, as well as the governments and the churches that we know to be complicit.
The Criminal Code of Canada allows such charges to be laid in cases against governments and institutions, including churches, in cases where they have failed to provide the necessaries of life to people who were in their care.
The Truth and Reconciliation has already conducted the investigation into these deaths. We have the evidence of first-hand witnesses of the torture and abuse. In Canada, we live under the rule of law. The law does not allow those who are responsible for the deaths of children to walk free with impunity.
NWAC and its members, the grassroots First Nations, Mtis, and Inuit women in Canada, are revolted by the news of the 751 unmarked graves, just as we were sickened by recent similar discoveries at other residential schools. We are weeping along with the survivors of Marieval whose classmates died around them in a brutal institution that, like all other Indian residential schools, was a place of oppression created for the purpose of assimilation.
We hope that Canadians are horrified by the discoveries of these bodies, just as we and our ancestors have been horrified by the fact of those schools for generations.
I ask you to take a moment to think about what it would be like to have men of a different race and culture, men who may not even have spoken your language, arrive at your door to force the children from your arms and to take them far away to a school where they could be subjected to all manner of assault. I ask you to think how you would feel when the other children from your village arrived home at Christmas or the end of the school year but your beloved child was not among them.
Those are the children whose bodies, are in these graves - the children who did not come home. Our children.
We hope this latest discovery, like the discoveries that have come before it, bring some solace to those parents who have spent decades longing to be reunited with their missing sons or daughters. Many will have gone to their graves without knowing how the lives of their little loved ones ended, only imagining their children crying out for them in their last minutes and hours.
But while all of this makes us weep, we cannot pretend to be shocked. Because many of us attended those schools. We witnessed the deaths. And we read the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in which an entire chapter was devoted to the missing children and the unmarked graves. That report says, in some cases, nearly 50 per cent of the students who were sent to a school died there before they graduated. Murray Sinclair, the Chief Commissioner of that inquiry, has estimated that the total number of deaths at the schools could number 6,000.
So we are relieved that attention is now being paid to this issue.
But lets be clear, when Mr. Sinclair asked for $1.5 million from the former federal Conservative government in 2009 to identify the location of these burial sites, he was denied. And while the current Liberal government allocated $27 million in its 2019 budget to look for these graves little, if any, of that money had been spent before Canadians were shocked by the news of the 215 bodies found in Kamloops, B.C.
In the meantime, we are heartened by the interest that is now being expressed by large numbers of Canadians in the suffering that First Nations, Mtis and Inuit children endured behind the walls of those church-run institutions of murder and torture. We take some comfort in the fact that many people are saying this is a shocking revelation, even if it is anything but a revelation to Indigenous people.
We also know that more bodies will be found many more.
We ask Canadians to be as outraged by this latest discovery of bodies near Saskatoon, and of those discoveries yet to come, as they were when they first heard the news out of Kamloops. We ask Canadians to stop themselves from becoming desensitized to these horrors and the suffering of our children, experiences that those who survived are still living every day. We ask that this anger and revulsion remain strong.
Because only when those emotions are shared by all who walk this land the Indigenous people and those whose roots are on different continents can we begin the process of reconciliation.
But reconciliation also demands accountability. It demands that perpetrators be brought to justice. It demands that those responsible for the deaths of these thousands of children feel the full weight of the law.
For information, or to arrange an interview, contact Gloria Galloway at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-447-6648
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Posted: at 11:47 pm
TORONTO, June 24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Association of the Families of Flight PS752 Victims (the Association) welcomes the Government of Canadas Forensic Examination and Assessment report on the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, released today. That report exposes the Iranian regimes disregard for human life, failure to disclose the truth and pursue justice, and oppression of victims families. The Association welcomes Canadas commitment in the report to pursuing the truth and justice, including to the International Court of Justice, and calls for the international community to hold the Islamic Republic fully accountable for what it believes to be the willful murder of their loved ones.
The Iranian regime had an obligation to transparently disclose the causes of the downing of Flight PS752 through a comprehensive report in cooperation with the affected countries. Iran had failed to meet that obligation.
Canadas decision to conduct its own forensic examination and assessment was an important step. But it is not sufficient and cannot be the final summary of what transpired on January 8, 2020. The Report makes clear that the investigators lacked access to witnesses, fulsome evidence and sufficient information. The Government of Canada must continue its work to hold the culprits of this crime to account and bring justice to the victims, their families, and their loved ones. Even without access to much important information, the forensic examination report reveals Irans failure to investigate its shooting of Flight PS752 and its failure to comply with international law.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeaus own conclusions outlined in the report speak to the intentional obfuscation and lack of accountability, cooperation and transparency on the part of the Iranian regime, and the need to hold Iran to account at the highest levels:
Irans official account of events is disingenuous, misleading and superficial and intentionally ignores key factors.
Iran must also account for the cover-up that followed the downing of flight PS752, including bulldozing the crash site before investigators arrived.
Should negotiations with Iran not result in an acceptable outcome for Canada on behalf of the families, we will pursue all available options, including recourse to the International Court of Justice.
Canadas forensic report makes several key observations that clearly illustrate the crimes, obfuscations and lies of Iran. First, the report rejects the Islamic Regimes claims of human error as not plausible, and finds senior officials of Iran culpable. The report finds that it is not plausible that the crime was committed by a low-level operator in the field who failed to perform his duties and misjudged the situation, without regular communications with central military commanders. The report highlights the likely involvement of higher-level military and other government officials in shooting Flight PS752. The report states that although the firing of the missiles may have been delegated to a lower ranking operator, it is very unlikely the SAM operator would have been authorized to launch missiles without approval from his command.
The forensic report further emphasizes that there was no evidence that jamming or electronic warfare were the cause, contrary to statements made by Iran that the missile operators had lost contact with central commanders. UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Agnes Callamard, stated that: The inconsistencies in the official explanations seem designed to create a maximum of confusion and a minimum of clarity. They seem contrived to mislead and bewilder.
Importantly, the forensic report finds that the foundation of this crime lies with high-level strategic and national security decisions of Iran, likely made by the leader of the Islamic regime and the Supreme Council of National Security of Iran. They deliberately kept the civilian airspace open at a time of heightened military tension, and after launching an attack, possibly using PS752 passengers and other passengers on aircraft that departed earlier that morning as human shields. There are still numerous unanswered questions and facts suggesting that the downing of the civilian airliner PS752 was intentional. The onus is on Iran to transparently disclose all relevant information in order to show that the downing of PS752 was not intentional.
The revelations of Canadas Forensic Report underscore what the Association and families have long known and further energize the families resolve in their fight for truth and justice. The Associations Fact-Finding Committee intends to produce a report of its own findings and conclusions in the coming months and the Association will continue to seek an international platform that will hold the Iranian regime to account for their actions. The Association of the Families of Flight PS752 Victims requests that the Government of Canada to put forth a substantial monetary reward for any information that leads to identification and prosecution of those individuals responsible for the shooting of Flight PS752. The Association once more insists that the Government of Canada enlist the IRGC as a terrorist entity, impose targeted Magnitsky sanctions on the perpetrators of the downing, and pursue the PS752 file through a domestic criminal investigation.
For more information, contact
Colleen RyanCell: 647-232-6867Email: email@example.com
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Posted: at 11:47 pm
Venezuelas President Nicolas Maduro says his country has once and for all gotten rid of the US oppression, warning that any effort to meddle in the countrys affairs would not be tolerated by Venezuelans.
Maduro, who spoke in an 85-minute interview with Bloomberg Television on Friday, downplayed US economic sanctions against his country, noting that his government has introduced a war economy to reduce the impact of US bans on the South American nation.
Sooner rather than later, the bolivar will once again occupy a strong and preponderant role in the economic and commercial life of the country, he said.
In another part of his interview, Maduro insisted that his government will not budge if the US continues to hold a proverbial gun to his head.
Any demands for changes in domestic policy are game over, the Venezuelan president warned.
No country in the world -- no country, and even less Venezuela -- is willing to kneel down and betray its legacy, Maduro emphasized.
He dismissed claims by American officials that Caracas has become isolated in the world following its breaking away from the US influence, saying that his country has only broken free of irrational, extremist, and cruel US oppression.
The Venezuelan president added that now, Russia, China, Iran, and Cuba are his countrys allies while his domestic opposition is impotent.
If Venezuela suffers from a bad image, Maduro said, it was because of a well-funded campaign to demonize him and his socialist government.
'Venezuela to become land of opportunities'
Elsewhere in his interview, Maduro slammed the cruel sanctions imposed on his country by the United States, which have practically deprived the country of its main sources of revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic.
If Venezuela cant produce oil and sell it, cant produce and sell its gold, cant produce and sell its bauxite, cant produce iron, etcetera, and cant earn revenue in the international market, how is it supposed to pay the holders of Venezuelan bonds? Maduro, 58, said, adding, This world has to change. This situation has to change.
Maduro hopes a deal to relieve the sanctions will open the floodgates to foreign investment, create jobs, and reduce misery. It might even assure his legacy as the torchbearer of Chavismo, Venezuelas peculiar brand of left-wing nationalism.
Venezuela is going to become the land of opportunities, Maduro said, noting, Im inviting US investors so they dont get left behind.
Venezuela descended into political turmoil after opposition figure Juan Guaid, former president of the National Assembly, unilaterally declared himself interim president in January 2019, arguing that Maduro's reelection in 2018 was fraudulent.
With Washingtons greenlight and help from a small number of rogue soldiers, Guaid later launched a botched putsch against the elected government.
The Trump administration recognized Guaid as the legitimate leader of Venezuela and publicly pursued a regime change policy against Maduro.
The Biden administration has reaffirmed US recognition of Guaido as Venezuelas interim president and has ruled out negotiations with Maduro anytime soon.
Washington has imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions against the oil-rich Latin American country aimed at ousting Maduro and replacing him with Guaido.
The sanctions, which include illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and an economic blockade, have caused enormous suffering for millions of people in the country.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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Posted: at 11:47 pm
Yesterday, PM Modi held a meeting with political figures from IIOJK to discuss the resumption of the political process in the region. This meeting marked the first high-level engagement between pro-India leaders from IIOJK and the Centre since the illegal actions that took place on August 5, 2019.
Attaching much significance to this meeting would however be a mistake since the outcome of the meeting is unlikely to satisfy key stakeholders on Kashmir. This is primarily because the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) will not be part of the engagement. Popular Kashmiri leaders have rightly denounced this meeting as a drama by the Indian state because the individuals actually representing the people of Kashmir are being harassed and locked up. It appears that this might be yet another move by the Modi government to create an impression for the international community that normalcy is gradually being restored in IIOJK.
This could very well be an attempt by the ruling party to legitimise the steps it took on August 5, by making minor concessions without providing any meaningful relief to the oppressed people of Kashmir. The only winners in such a scenario would be the regions pro-India political leadership that may strike a mutually beneficial deal with the government.
Pakistan must be wary of this potential ploy to create a faade of normalcy around the issue of Kashmir and should continue raising its voice regarding the ongoing oppression at every available forum. In addition to this, it is important that we establish contact with Kashmiri leaders and initiate engagement with them on a diplomatic level. The international audience has recently started to take notice of the actual situation on the ground in IIOJK. Pakistan must capitalise on this momentum and ensure that the voice of Kashmiri leaders is amplified on all platforms. There needs to be complete restoration of occupied Kashmirs status prior to August 5, 2019. Anything short of that would be unacceptable.
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