MINELRES: Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin - June/July 2004

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Jul 23 09:37:01 2004

Original sender: Graham Fox <GRAHAM.FOX@mrgmail.org>

Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin - June/July 2004 
Welcome to the Minority Rights Group International (MRG) email bulletin
for June/July 2004. Simply click on the links below in order to access
the full news release or publication on MRG's website, or alternatively
visit our site at:  <http://www.minorityrights.org>

In this e-bulletin: 

- Darfur: Letter to UK Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Jack Straw MP 
- Congo's Pygmies 'targeted for extermination'  
- Diego Garcia: UK tries to remove islanders' right of return 
- Shame of Security Council silence amid the killing in Darfur 
- Minority rights find their place in the European Constitution 
- Minorities at risk if Congo's fragile peace is allowed to fail 
- Innovate and strengthen or continue to fail rights group tells UN
- The Endorois of Kenya: a pastoralist community faces irreparable harm 
- Events and advocacy: 
-       Promoting the rights of Batwa Pygmies - Uganda 
-       Religious minorities in Asia - Sri Lanka 
-       Louise Arbour welcomed as new UN High Commissioner for Human
- Coming up: forthcoming events for your diary 
- Focus on: Minorities and the UN - promoting respect for minority
- Vacancies: Programmes Assistant - full-time 
- Worth a closer look 
- New Publications: 
-       'Erasing the Board': Report on crimes against Bambuti Pygmies in
Darfur: Letter to UK Foreign Secretary Rt Hon Jack Straw MP 
A group of human rights and development NGOs has delivered a letter to
Jack Straw calling for the UK to apply pressure for a United Nations
Security Council resolution on Darfur: "Decisive action is needed now.
The UK Government, as the second largest donor to Darfur, one of the key
states in securing the recent peace protocols in Naivasha and an
important member of both the EU and the UN Security Council, is in a
unique position to show international leadership and to make a real
difference. For many civilians in Darfur it is already too late but the
international community must act now if it is to avert further human
Congo's Pygmies 'targeted for extermination': International Criminal
Court to consider violations against Congo's Vice President
The Bambuti Pygmies in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
were targeted for extermination by forces controlled by one of the
Congo's current Vice Presidents, reveal the findings of the first
research mission to take detailed testimony from Pygmy villages in the
forests of Ituri and Kivu. Attacks against the Pygmies included mass
killings, acts of cannibalism, systematic rape and the looting and
destruction of villages. MRG together with Pygmy organizations from
eastern DRC have submitted a dossier of evidence to the Prosecutor at
the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.
Diego Garcia: UK tries to remove islanders' right of return 
The British Government has resorted to a little-used colonial power to
overturn without debate a court judgement, which had granted the
Chagossian islanders, deported en masse by Britain over 30 years ago to
make way for a US military base, the right to return to some of their
Indian Ocean islands. The government claims that security considerations
post 9/11 give priority to the alleged need for the archipelago to
continue to be used exclusively by US forces who lease Diego Garcia
island from Britain. MRG suggests that the governments extraordinary
attempt to circumvent the law of the land by overturning a high court
decision creates an extremely dangerous precedent. 
Shame of Security Council silence amid the killing in Darfur 
The United Nations Security Council, the body supremely charged with
acting to ensure international peace and security is failing in its
responsibility to Darfur's victims of ethnic cleansing. The UN's own
evidence of government complicity in attacks is now so great that
further investigation must now be replaced by real and unequivocal
condemnation at the highest level, stated MRG. Efforts to halt the
killings on the part of the Security Council Members had been
'half-hearted and ineffective' stated MRG, which suggests that Sudan is
acting in 'the full and certain knowledge that the international
community would fail to act against it'. The message that this sends out
is that states can continue to violate the rights of their own citizens
without interference.  
Minority rights find their place in the European Constitution 
On 18 June 2004, European Union leaders eventually agreed a Constitution
for Europe after months of diplomatic wrangling. In a fundamental
statement of European Union values, for the first time the EU has
recognized the rights of minorities in its statement that 'The Union is
founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy,
equality and the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the
rights of persons belonging to minorities.' But what are the
implications for minorities and does it mean that those countries, such
as France, which currently refuse to recognize the existence of national
minorities must now acknowledge them?
Minorities at risk if Congo's fragile peace is allowed to fail 
Renewed fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has
increased fears of an escalation of tensions and a return to war. An
ethnic dimension to recent violence (including ethnic Hutu and Tutsi
related allegiances) and the brutal history of the deeply traumatized
region in which over three million were killed, have led to calls for
early action to restore peace and to ensure the security of innocent
civilians. MRG stressed the need to establish the rights of minorities
in order to secure sustainable peace in the region and highlighted the
plight of the most vulnerable groups including the Batwa pygmies.
Innovate and strengthen or continue to fail rights group tells UN peace
and security panel 
If genocide and violent conflict involving minorities are to be
prevented in the future it is imperative to rectify a flawed UN system,
which allowed the Rwandan genocide to happen despite adequate
international standards and early warning. Only by innovation,
establishing new mechanisms and enhancing existing capacities can the UN
truly address global threats and challenges. Recommendations were put
forward by MRG in a submission to the UN High-Level Panel on Threats,
Challenges and Change, tasked by Kofi Annan to deliver effective action
to meet challenges in the field of peace and security.
The Endorois of Kenya: a pastoralist community faces irreparable harm 
The Endorois Community have lived for centuries around the Lake Bogoria
region in the South Baringo and Koibatek Administrative Districts of
Kenya. In the 1970s, the Government of Kenya, without effectively
consulting the Community, gazetted the Community's traditional lands for
the purposes of creating a game reserve. The Community were told by the
Government to vacate the land and were forced to move. In doing so, not
only were the Community's property rights violated, but spiritual,
cultural and economic ties to the land were severed. Rights groups state
that without urgent action to address their situation and to halt
imminent mining activities on their ancestral lands, the Endorois may
face irreparable harm. 
Events and Advocacy 
Promoting the Rights of Batwa Pygmies: Recognition, Representation and
Cooperation - Kampala, Uganda - April 2004 
On the basis of a request it had received from Batwa community leaders
in 1999, MRG has been working with Batwa Pygmies of the Great Lakes
Region since the year 2000. MRG's was able to formulate a three year
programme under the title 'Promoting the Rights of Batwa Pygmies:
Recognition Representation and Cooperation'. The overall aim of the
programme is to increase recognition and respect for the rights of Batwa
communities, to enhance their participation and representation in the
decision making process, and to promote appropriate social development
through intercommunity cooperation. One of the goals of this recent
Kampala event was to help to facilitate the meeting of MRG's Batwa
partners with development donors to address their desperate need for
development assistance and aid. Click on the links below for further
information and to download MRG's report 'The Batwa Pygmies of the Great
Lakes Region of Africa' and additional publications. 
Consultation on Religious Minorities in Asia - Colombo, Sri Lanka - June
This regional consultation brought together religious minority
representatives and specialists, civil society actors, representatives
of majority communities, decision-makers and key commentators, from
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and Nepal. The
workshop was the culmination of in-country activities, which included
consultation and documentation processes. These documented abuses and
violations of religious minority rights, religious-based persecution and
discrimination, legal cases, judgments and examples of good practice.
The aim of the workshop was to allow participants to pool insights from
across South and South-east Asia, share experiences and develop a joint
analysis, as well as make recommendations for strategies to protect and
promote religious minority rights in Asia. Click below to link to MRG
publications from this project including recent reports on religious
minorities in China and Pakistan.

Louise Arbour welcomed as new United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Minority Rights Group International congratulate Louise Arbour on taking
up her new post as High Commissioner for Human Rights following the
tragic death of Sergio Vieira de Mello in a terrorist attack in Baghdad
in August 2003. Louise Arbour brings a wealth of valuable experience to
the post including her period as Chief Prosecutor of the UN
International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

For further information about the events above and details of many
additional MRG programmes and advocacy activities, please visit MRG's
website or contact us directly.
Coming up: 
United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations - Geneva,
Switzerland - 19-23 July 
United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human
Rights - Geneva, Switzerland - 26 July - 13 August
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial
Discrimination - sixty fifth session - 2 - 20 August 
Focus on: Minorities and the UN 
Using the United Nations to promote respect for minority rights 
Much of the work of the UN on human and minority rights can seem
inaccessible and distant particularly to those who are the victims of
prejudice, discrimination or exclusion. Yet NGOs and minorities
themselves can play a hugely important role in the work of the UN and by
using the UN system effectively they can promote and strengthen not only
the rights of minority communities, but the UN system itself. MRG has
produced an essential guide, 'Minority Rights: A Guide to United Nations
Procedures and Institutions' which aims to encourage people belonging to
minorities and the groups themselves to use the procedures and forums of
the United Nations increasingly and effectively in order to promote
respect for their legitimate rights. Fully updated in 2004 to
incorporate changes and developments in the UN system, MRG's guide has
been written and revised by experts and offers a useful and effective
tool towards using the UN to promote respect for minority rights.

Programmes Assistant - Full time post c. ? 18,779 p.a. (incl. ILW) 
Minority Rights Group International's (MRG) Programmes Department, to
work alongside the Southeast Europe and South/Southeast Asia Programmes.

You will assist in project planning and research; coordinate
publications; be responsible for organising overseas events; and will
liaise with MRG's regional offices and partner organisations. You will
also provide general, financial and administrative support to the Head
of Programmes. We are looking for a good communicator, with strong
organisational skills and the ability to prioritize a busy workload. You
should have a good knowledge of human (and minority) rights issues. To
receive an application pack, send a large stamped (76p) self-addressed
envelope marked Recruitment (ref. PAS-SC04) to MRG or download the
application pack from our website. Closing date: 19 July 2004.
Interviews expected to be held week of 26 July 2004

MRG strives to be an equal opportunities employer. MRG occasionally has
opportunities for internships and voluntary work and those interested in
applying for such positions should initially contact MRG with a brief
curriculum vitae (resume) and covering letter.
Worth a closer look 
BRIDGE - is an established non-profit making unit specializing in gender
and development based at the Institute of Development Studies in the UK.
It aims to support gender mainstreaming efforts by bridging the gaps
between theory, policy and practice with accessible gender information.
For further information visit the BRIDGE website by clicking the link
Make a Difference Day takes place on Saturday 30th October 2004 and aims
to encourage everybody across the UK to try volunteering for a day. Last
year nearly 90,000 people participated. For charities and organizations
working on minority issues Make a Difference Day offers a fantastic
opportunity to recruit new volunteers, get publicity for your
organization and raise awareness of the work you do. For find out more
contact Community Service Volunteers. 
Information contained in external websites does not necessarily reflect
the views or opinions of MRG and its staff. 
New MRG Publications 
'Erasing the Board': Report of the international research mission into
crimes under international law committed against the Bambuti Pygmies in
the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

War crimes and crimes against humanity, including persecution, murder,
forcible population transfer, torture, rape and extermination, have been
committed against the Bambuti Pygmies in the eastern Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC). These crimes have taken place since the start of the
second war in 1998 and continue up to the present. Bambuti communities
remain at grave risk. This new MRG report will be available in printed
copy or from MRG's website from 06 July in both English and French.
MRG welcomes your comments on this e-bulletin and our work in general,
and greatly values your opinions and information. We hope that you will
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you unwanted messages. If you wish us to remove you from this list,
simply reply to minority.rights@mrgmail.org stating 'un-subscribe' in
the subject line or visit:

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental
organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and
linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide, and to promote
cooperation and understanding between communities.

MRG is a registered charity no. 282305, and has consultative status with
the United Nations Economic and Social Council and observer status with
the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights.
Contact MRG: 
54 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LT, UK.
Tel: 020 7422 4200      
Fax: 020 7422 4201
email:  minority.rights@mrgmail.org