During a recent trip to Bangladesh, I met Israt, whose family comes from Burma’s Rakhine state. Last month, the tragedy of the conflict in her country literally came home to Israt, when her family arrived in Bangladesh as refugees fleeing devastation. They had lost their home and, most horrifically of all, two of their children.
The events still unfolding in Burma (also known as Myanmar) are not without precedent. The scale of the attacks, the bloodshed, the alleged use of rape as a weapon of war, the persecutory basis of the atrocities, the inability of international institutions to halt the crisis — these are all components of genocide that have been seen in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and the Yazidi region of Iraq, to name a few.… Seguir leyendo »
When a mother of two can be sentenced to death by stoning on the basis of a disputed confession of adultery and without proper legal representation, there is little reason for faith in the fairness or mercy of Iran’s judicial system. But as in the appalling case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the 20-year jail sentences just handed out to seven Bahá’í leaders must provoke an international outcry in the hope that the Iranian government can be shamed into thinking again.
The sentences follow a sham trial in which the accused faced a variety of charges ranging from spreading propaganda against the state and engaging in espionage, to conspiring to commit offences against national security.… Seguir leyendo »
As the Iranian government struggles to contain growing demands for freedom and democracy from its courageous people, it is flailing around trying to deflect blame for the protests. Foreign media and other countries, including Britain, have been accused of encouraging unrest. But the regime is also worryingly turning on all too familiar scapegoats within Iran.
Once again, followers of the Bahá’í faith within the country are in the firing line. Fresh arrests and harassment of Bahá’ís in recent days have been accompanied by increasingly extreme proclamations in the state-run media against this gentle and unifying religion. Bahá’ís find themselves once more accused of co-operating with Israel to undermine their own country.… Seguir leyendo »
There have been many heroes and heroines in Iran in recent weeks. We have seen thousands take to the streets, risking arrest or even worse, in support of democracy.
Women have been in the forefront of these peaceful protests, which have, shamefully, been met with violence. It is their rights and hopes that are most under threat.
It is a fight for freedom and justice that Shirin Ebadi, the remarkable Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace laureate, has been leading for decades. Dr Ebadi, a heroine of mine and thousands more around the world, has been tireless in her efforts to represent those facing persecution.… Seguir leyendo »