• Human Rights,  Hungary

    Hungary’s “slave law” sparks protests

    When the leader of a government proudly proclaims an “illiberal state”: when his government passes a law restricting press freedom and undermines independent media; when that government tolerates antisemitism in its own ranks; when it forces the closure of a respected independent university and turns it founder into a figure of demonic omnipotent evil; and when tightens its control of the judiciary; is it any surprise that it also attacks workers’ rights? Hungary is seeing its largest protests in years, triggered by an employee-hostile law. But for the protesters, it’s about a lot more. Meanwhile, the government, led by strongman PM Viktor Orban, smells a conspiracy. For days, thousands of…

  • Human Rights,  Israel

    All US senators call for fair treatment of Israel at UN

    Given the general absence of bipartisanship and political consensus in the US these days, this is worthy of note: every member of the Senate– from Bernie Sanders to Ted Cruz– signed a letter to United Nations Secretary General António Guterres denouncing the UN’s bias against Israel: The United States co-founded the United Nations with the intention of saving future generations from war and reaffirming fundamental human rights. While much good is being done and has been done by the body, many of its member states and agencies are using the U.N.’s privileged platform to advance an anti-Israel agenda. Too often, the U.N. is exploited as a vehicle for targeting Israel…

  • China,  Human Rights

    World kowtows as China cracks down on dissent

    It’s appropriate that “kowtow” is a word of Chinese origin, because that’s exactly what the rest of the world is doing to the Chinese regime. China’s campaign against dissent is going global. Amid extraordinary moves to rein in criticism at home, Chinese security personnel are reaching confidently across borders, targeting Chinese and foreign citizens who dare to challenge the Communist Party line, in what one Western diplomat has called the “worst crackdown since Tiananmen Square.” A string of incidents, including abductions from Thailand and Hong Kong, forced repatriations and the televised “confessions” of two Swedish citizens, has crossed a new red line, according to diplomats in Beijing. Yet many foreign…

  • Human Rights,  Latin America

    Corbyn on “fascinating” Bolivia

    The Telegraph reports: Jeremy Corbyn has revealed he would choose to live in Bolivia – the socialist South American nation – if he had to move away from Britain. The Labour leader said he spent time in the country while a teenager and found its development in recent years “absolutely fascinating”. ….. Pushed on where he would live if not Britain, Mr Corbyn said: “Scandinavian countries I admire. I admire what Bolivia has achieved particularly in the elimination of poverty, sustainability on the environment and sharing out its mineral wealth. “It’s very interesting what’s happening in Bolivia, it’s a reflowering of the indigenous cultures in Bolivia which I find absolutely…

  • Human Rights,  Latin America

    Leopoldo Lopez sentenced to 13 years in prison

    After a farcical secret trial, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for his alleged role in inciting violence against the regime in 2014. According to the Human Rights Foundation: The criminal proceedings against López were riddled with due process violations. The trial consisted of 70 hearings and took place behind closed doors in violation of the right to a public trial. The media, human rights defenders, and international observers were strictly banned from the courthouse. Out of 700 hours of trial, López’s legal team only had three hours to argue in his defense. In another ostensible display of disproportionality, bias, and…

  • Human Rights,  Latin America

    Western chavistas support regime as it imprisons and tortures dissenters

    The Latin American TV propaganda outlet TeleSUR— funded mostly by the Venezuelan government– launched an English-language website last year. The website recently featured a speech by MP Jeremy Corbyn– a (no-chance, I hope) candidate for leadership of the Labour party– addressing a meeting of the pro-regime Venezuela Solidarity Campaign in London. According to TeleSUR’s account, thousands turned out for the meeting, although I suspect it was closer to one or two hundred. Old New Leftist Tariq Ali hosts a weekly program on TeleSUR, featuring media commentary by Lenin’s Tomb’s Richard Seymour and a talking cartoon llama named Larry. (Here’s Larry “explaining” the rise of European antisemitism. I haven’t pinned down…

  • Human Rights,  North Korea

    Escape from North Korea

    Watch the amazing account by Ji Seong-ho at the Oslo Freedom Forum of his triumph over repression, hunger, brutality and disability on his escape from the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea– a country whose leaders assure its population that they have “nothing to envy in this world.” Do I need to reiterate what I think of people like this and this?

  • Fuckery,  Genocide,  Human Rights

    Armenia: The Betrayal of Truth

    Politico reports: President Barack Obama will not use the word “genocide” to describe the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians in his annual statement commemorating the historic atrocity later this month. […] As a candidate in 2008, Obama issued a statement promising to describe the plight of the Armenians as a genocide, but in his previous five statements he has not done so — mainly to avoid a rupture in diplomatic relations with Turkey, a NATO ally and key partner in addressing the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Armenian-American leaders, hopeful that the 100th anniversary and recent support for their view from Pope Francis, were dejected on Tuesday. “This…

  • Human Rights,  Latin America

    Maduro’s “sign or else” petition

    In the weeks leading up to the regional summit last week in Panama City, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro put aside such mundane concerns as a collapsing economy, exploding inflation, shortages of basic goods, out-of-control crime and corrupt police to concentrate on something really important– collecting millions of signatures on a petition denouncing recent US sanctions against Venezuelan human rights abusers. Unfortunately for Maduro, he was upstaged at the summit by the handshake and meeting between President Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro. The Venezuelan leader promised to deliver the petition to Obama through diplomatic channels. I’m sure Obama will take the time to read through all of the signatures carefully. Oh,…

  • Human Rights

    Amnesty Uncaged

    I’m a member of Amnesty International and wrote expressing my concern about their association with CAGE.  I got this reply back:- Amnesty International UK’s Director Kate Allen, said “Amnesty no longer considers it appropriate to share a public platform with Cage and will not engage in coalitions of which Cage is a member. Recent comments made by Cage representatives have been completely unacceptable, at odds with human rights principles and serve to undermine the work of NGOs, including Amnesty International.” We had engaged with Cage together with several other organisations on the specific issue of UK complicity in torture abroad, on which they had particular expertise. At the time that…