Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Human Rights Violations in Sindh, Pakistan

The World Sindh Institute has released its 2005 report on Human Rights violations in Sindh, the southeastern province of Pakistan. The reports catalogs reports of honor killings, vioolence against women, arbitrary arrests and disappearances.

Sindh political movements and human rights activistis have been accused of terrorism by the pakistani government and its activists jailed and tortured. Sindh leader, Shafi Burfat, remains in hiding. Sindh Hindus have been forced to convert to Islam. In one case three daughters were kidnapped from their school. A few days later, their parents received a letter from a Madressah that they had converted to Islam and would not be allowed to return to their parents.

The oppression of Sindh Hindus has led to the emigration of some 17,000 Sindh to India in the last decade.

Slave Trade in Isreal

An article in Haaretz details a growing problem in Israel; the importation of laborers who end up in upaid, forced labor. This is part of a larger, worldwide problem involving between 600,000 and 800,000 people annually throughout the world who are trafficed for purposes of work, prostitution and harvesting of body organs. A tactic that is often used in Isreal is debt bondage.

This is a pattern of behavior in which the slave is made to compensate his employer for the expenses he incurred in bringing him [to Israel] and paying for his upkeep. To this end, he must forgo his salary or receive a pittance, with the length of the compensatory period and the value of the services rendered arbitrarily determined by the employer. The victims of this trade in people are particularly vulnerable because of their unfamiliarity with the target country. Even if they arrive legally, they do not know the local language and culture, and this deters them from realizing their rights.

According to U.S. rankings of countries, Isreal was initially listed at the lowest level--a country that is doing nothing at all to eradicate human trafficking. Since 2002, it has been upgraded to Tier 2--countries that are taking action, but not enough.

In 2005, Israel was added to a "watch list" of countries that are about to be downgraded. The 2005 report stated, in condemnation of Israel, that some of the foreign workers in the country suffer from nonpayment of wages, threats, coercion, physical and sexual abuse, debt bondage and restrictions on freedom of movement, including confiscation of passports. The report also noted that Israel does not have legislation against trafficking in persons for purposes of servitude.

Cases against employers of foreign workers are often closed when no Israeli citizen is involved, says Rom Levkowitz, spokesman for the Hotline for Migrant Workers. "The same mantra of 'no public interest' keeps repeating itself. The moment it is not Israeli citizens who are involved, the approach is that the case has no implications for the Israeli society. That is the message that is being conveyed. They prefer simply to deport the complainants," he says.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gaza on verge of disaster

Isreal has closed off all access to the Gaza strip, preventing food from being shipped in. A humanitarian crisis is close at hand. Will this one make the media?

A report by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) warns of a lack of basic food supplies due to the frequent closures of the Karni crossing that are preventing goods from reaching Gaza from Egypt. The report also said there has been a significant increase in the number of hungry people since financial aid has been halted.

Now that they have withdrawn from Gaza, the Israeli authorities seem intent on starving out the Palestinian population that is left there.