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Minority Rights Group International. State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2010. London. Minority Rights Group International

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Minority Rights Group International. State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2010. London. Minority Rights Group International.

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									Focus on Religious Minorities

                            State of
                     and Indigenous
                       Peoples 2010
                                Events of 2009
State of
the World’s
Minorities and
Acknowledgements                                            Published July 2010
Minority Rights Group International (MRG)                   Production: Kristen Harrison
gratefully acknowledges the support of all organizations    Copy editing: Sophie Richmond
and individuals who gave financial and other assistance     Design: Tom Carpenter, Texture
to this publication, including CAFOD, the European          Printed in the UK
Commission, the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.            Minority Rights Group International
                                                            54 Commercial Street, London E1 6LT, United
Minority Rights Group International                         Kingdom. Tel +44 (0)20 7422 4200, Fax +44 (0)20
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-         7422 4201, Email minority.rights@mrgmail.org
governmental organization (NGO) working to secure           Website www.minorityrights.org
the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities
and indigenous peoples worldwide, and to promote            Getting involved
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is registered as a charity and a company limited by         researched, accurate and impartial information on
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                                                            Selected MRG publications:
For further information please contact MRG. A CIP           p Pakistan: Minorities at Risk in the North-West
catalogue record of this publication is available from      p Uncertain Refuge, Dangerous Return: Iraq’s             Events of 2009
the British Library.                                          Uprooted Minorities
                                                            p Discrimination and Political Participation in Bosnia   Focus: Religious Minorities
ISBN 978-1-904584-97-1                                        and Herzegovina

Inside front cover: A Muslim man reads to two                            This document has been produced             Edited by Preti Taneja
children in a makeshift mosque in Wil, Switzerland.                      with the financial assistance of the
Their community’s project to build a cultural                            European Union. The contents of this
centre with a minaret was one of the proposals              document are the sole responsibility of Minority
that sparked a controversial anti-minaret cam-              Rights Group International and can under no
paign that led to a referendum banning minarets in          circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position
Switzerland. Mark Henley/Panos.                             of the European Union                                    Minority Rights Group International
 6 Foreword                               74 Americas
   Asma Jahangir, UN Special                 Maurice Bryan
   Rapporteur on freedom of religion
   or belief                             100 Asia and Oceania
                                             Felix Corley, Jared Ferrie,
    Part 1 Thematic essays                   David Fickling and Farah Mihlar

10 Religious minorities in a             150 Europe
   post-9/11 world                           Katalin Halász
   Nazila Ghanea, James A. Goldston,
   Mumtaz Lalani and Preti Taneja        178 Middle East
                                             Lena El-Malak
20 Engaging across divides: interfaith
   dialogue for peace and justice             Part 3 Reference
   Susan Hayward
                                         197 Peoples under threat 2010
30 Religious minorities and the
   Millennium Development Goals          208 Status of ratification of major
   Corinne Lennox                            international and regional
                                             instruments relevant to minority
42 Balancing women’s rights with             and indigenous rights
   freedom of religion                       Compiled by Marusca Perazzi
   Zohra Moosa
                                         220 Who are minorities?
    Part 2 Regional overviews
                                         221 Selected abbreviations
50 Africa
   Korir Sing’Oei                        222 Contributors

                                         224 Acknowledgements
                                                                              s United Nations Special Rapporteur on           Below: A boy from Pakistan’s minority Sikh
                                                                              freedom of religion or belief, I have had the    population collects aid after fleeing the Swat and
                                                                              opportunity to conduct country missions          Buner districts. Jared Ferrie/MRG.
                                                                  and document individual cases in which freedom of
                                                                  religion or belief has allegedly been violated. These        so, states pander to the interests of the religious major-
                                                                  encounters have confirmed my perception that mem-            ity community. However, such discrimination against
                                                                  bers of minorities – alongside other groups including        religious minorities is often symptomatic of much
                                                                  women, indigenous peoples, refugees and migrants –           deeper problems, with governments frequently using
                                                                  are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations.      sectarianism as a diversion from other more pressing
                                                                  Some national laws openly discriminate against indi-         political, social and economic issues.
                                                                  viduals on the basis of religion or belief, or a perceived      A recent survey by US-based think-tank the Pew
                                                                  lack of religious fervour. Violent acts or threats against   Forum indicates that about one-third of countries cur-
                                                                  members of religious minorities are also perpetrated         rently have high or very high restrictions on religion.
                                                                  by non-state actors, unfortunately all too often with        Within these countries, the most salient issue which
                                                                  impunity.                                                    needs addressing seems to be legislation which unduly
                                                                     Discrimination based on religion or belief often          limits the right to manifest one’s religion or belief, for
                                                                  emanates from deliberate state policies to ostracize         example through registration requirements or undue

                                                                  members of certain minority communities. In doing            restrictions on places of worship. Forced conversion,

Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on
freedom of religion or belief

6         Foreword              State of the World’s Minorities   State of the World’s Minorities                              Foreword                                                 7
                                                         2009     and Indigenous Peoples 2010
often targeting women and children who are                                                                               Lahore, was arrested when she organized                    in getting legislation passed through
abducted, is another particularly malign problem                                                                         a march to protest the proposed law of                     parliament in their favour. Jahangir
which needs to be tackled. At the same time, in a                                                                        evidence which equated the testimonies                     has defended cases of discrimination
number of countries, individuals who have volun-                                                                         of two female witnesses to that of just one                against religious minorities, women
tarily changed their religion or belief continue to       ‘People aren’t willing to believe that these                   reliable male witness.                                     and children. She defended three
face discrimination, threats and, in the most seri-       injustices happen in our society. … But                 1987   Together with her sister, Hina Jilani,                     Christians, among them a 14-year-
ous cases, even death. Governments and religious          it’s all going on next door.’ Asma Jahangir,                   established AGHS Legal Aid as an NGO.                      old boy, accused of blasphemy. In
leaders must understand that freedom of thought,          speaking to TIME magazine in 2003                              AGHS Legal Aid is the first free legal aid                 an effort to combat rising rates of
conscience and religion includes everybody’s free-                                                                       centre in Pakistan and specializes in gender               ‘disappearances’, she has also called
dom to change religion or belief, i.e. not just con-                                                                     violence legal cases. The AGHS Legal Aid                   on the Pakistani Attorney-General
version to the majority or official religion of the                                                                      Cell in Lahore also runs Dastak – a shelter                to inform the public about how
concerned country.                                                                                                       for women.                                                 many covert intelligence agencies are
   When governments work to ensure that the                                                                       1987   Founding Member of the Human Rights                        operating in Pakistan, and under what
rights of members of religious minorities are                                                                            Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), first                       laws they conduct arrests.
protected, this not only leads to a more stable                                                                          serving as Secretary-General and later as
and secure society, it is also an indicator of how                                                                       Chair of the Commission.                                   Compiled by Hannah Kaplan
seriously invested they are in the protection of                                                                  1995   Jahangir and her family faced attempts on
human rights. This must be accompanied by                                                                                their lives by religious extremists.
the use of other more informal strategies, such                                                                   1998   Appointed UN Special Rapporteur on
as inclusive inter-religious and intra-religious                                                                         extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution
dialogue, to help in defusing potential tensions                                                                         of the Commission on Human Rights.
at an early stage. The structure of the state,                                                                    2000   Published Whither are We! in which she
its method of governance and educational                                                                                 calls for then Pakistan President General
policies may – depending on their design and                                                                             Musharraf to improve his domestic human
implementation – either help in creating religious                                                                       rights policies, particularly towards women.
harmony or contribute to religious friction.                                                                      2001   Together with her sister, Hina Jilani
Preventive activities and the commitment of                                                                              was awarded the UNIFEM (the United
governments and societies to fundamental human                                                                           Nations Development Fund for Women)
rights are therefore key to creating an atmosphere                                                                       Millennium Peace Prize for Women, in
of religious tolerance. p                                   1952 Born in Lahore, Pakistan.                               collaboration with the NGO International
                                                            1978 Graduated with a Bachelor of Law                        Alert.
                                                                 degree, Punjab University, Lahore,               2004   Appointed UN Special Rapporteur
                                                                 Pakistan.                                               on freedom of religion or belief. Since
                                                            1980 Instrumental in the organization of                     then has undertaken numerous trips to
                                                                 Punjab Women Lawyers Association                        countries, including Angola, Laos, Nigeria,
                                                                 (PWLA).                                                 Serbia and Sri Lanka, highlighting and
                                                            1985 Instrumental in the formation of                        investigating human rights abuses.
                                                                 the Women’s Action Forum, an                     2010   Continues working as UN Special
                                                                 organization dedicated to defending                     Rapporteur and as a lawyer and
                                                                 the rights of women living under                        activist.
                                                                 Islamic law. The Forum describes its
                                                                 mission as providing ‘information,                      Over the years Jahangir has represented
                                                                 support and a collective space for                      several clients who were denied their
                                                                 women whose lives are shaped,                           fundamental rights. Notable amongst
                                                                 conditioned or governed by laws and                     them are the cases she fought for brick
                                                                 customs said to derive from Islam’.                     kiln workers, who are mostly bonded
                                                            1983 In collaboration with the Punjab                        labourers in Pakistan. She represented
                                                                 Women Lawyers Association in                            them and was subsequently successful

8                                              Foreword                       State of the World’s Minorities   State of the World’s Minorities                          Foreword                                           9
                                                                                and Indigenous Peoples 2010     and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                  uring 2009, minorities and indigenous         has shrunk to around 5,000 people, according to
                                                  peoples worldwide continued to suffer         the NGO Mandaean Human Rights Group. The
                                                  the after-effects of the 11 September         group said that, to date, ‘Recorded incidents against
                                    2001 attacks on the United States of America,               Mandaeans since 2003 stand at 167 killings, 275
                                    which the then President George W. Bush termed              kidnappings, and 298 assaults and forced conversion
                                    the ‘war on terror’. Since then, conflicts between          to Islam. Some include more than one member of
                                    governments and armed groups have continued                 a family.’
                                    to cause internal and external displacement,                   In 2007, the ancient Yezidi community were
                                    decimation of already vulnerable communities                victims of the single most brutal attack on a
                                    and an increase in state-sanctioned discriminatory          minority since the fall of Saddam Hussein: the truck
                                    practices. In some regions, they have inflamed the          bombings in August 2007 that killed more than
                                    seeming clash between freedom of religion and               400 Yezidis.
                                    freedom of expression, leading to violence between             Women from these minority communities who
                                    communities that were used to living side by side.          remain in Iraq have reported being forced to wear
                                    While the new US administration under President             the hijab, and feeling unable to leave their homes
                                    Barack Obama has publicly distanced itself from the         without being accompanied by a male relative.
                                    term ‘war on terror’, the phrase is still being used        Those who have lost male relatives and are now

Religious minorities
                                    by other governments and the conflicts themselves           heads of households in Iraq or refugees beyond its
                                    remain. Minority Rights Group International                 borders, experience the double vulnerability that
                                    (MRG) has been monitoring how the various                   goes with such a position. Along with lives and
                                    impacts of ‘war on terror’ have disproportionately          livelihoods, the cultures and traditions of these

in a post-9/11 world
                                    affected the lives of religious minorities for some         peoples are now being lost, as their already small
                                    time; this chapter examines some of the main issues         numbers are scattered from their ancient homeland,
                                    religious communities now face, the ramifications of        to a number of different destinations, from Australia
                                    which are certain to be felt for years to come.             to Sweden.

Nazila Ghanea, James A. Goldston,
                                       In Iraq, one of the countries that was subject to a         Following the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001,
                                    US-led military intervention which was justified partly     the conflict with the Taliban has spread to Pakistan.
                                    or wholly by ‘war on terror’ rhetoric, minorities have      Amnesty International (AI) reported in 2009 that

Mumtaz Lalani and Preti Taneja      found themselves caught between sides as the result-
                                    ing conflict has riven communities along ethnic and
                                    religious lines. Religious minorities, including Baha’is,
                                                                                                attacks on minorities have risen there in tandem
                                                                                                with the rise in religious extremism in the country.
                                                                                                For minorities caught between the Taliban and
                                    Christians, Jews, Mandaean-Sabeans, Shabaks and             Pakistani troops, this has had serious consequences.
                                    Yezidis, have become the targets of violence, including     MRG’s 2009 briefing paper on the country high-
                                    murder, abduction, rape and looting of homes and            lights the impact this has had on religious and eth-
                                    property following the US-led invasion of the country       nic minorities, including Ahmaddiyas, Christians,
                                    in 2003. Since then, many representatives of those          Hindus, Pashtuns and Sikhs. The Pakistan govern-
                                    communities have spoken to MRG, reporting the               ment negotiated a truce in 2009, practically ceding
                                    threats that target them on grounds of their religious      the contested Swat Valley area to Tehreek-e-Nifaz-
                                    identities, and the other human rights abuses they          e-Shariat-Mohammadi (TNSM), a group affiliated
                                    have suffered. In 2009, MRG reported that some-             with other Taliban organizations. Sharia law was
                                    where between 15 and 64 per cent of Iraqi refugees          imposed and, by January 2009, Pakistani educa-
                                    are from religious or ethnic minorities, depending          tion officials estimated that over 130 schools in the
                                    on the country of refuge. Some of these communi-            Swat district had been closed down, many of which
                                    ties have existed in Iraq for more than two millennia.      were for girls. It was reported that a jizya or tax was
                                    Most of those refugees whom MRG has met have said           being demanded from Sikhs, Christians and other
                                    that they have no plans to return to Iraq.                  communities to live in safety in regions including
                                       The numbers of people remaining tell a stark             Orakzai Agency and the Khyber, which is on the
                                    story about the impact of the conflict in Iraq. Since       main route to Afghanistan. The ceasefire did not last,
                                    2003, the Mandaean community, which num-                    and in May 2009 the government launched a major
                                    bered around 30,000 in the Saddam Hussein era,              military offensive against Taliban positions in Swat.

                                    State of the World’s Minorities                             Religious minorities in                             11
                                    and Indigenous Peoples 2010                                 a post-9/11 world
   Over 2 million people, mostly ethnic Pashtuns,         Right: Uighur men at Yang Hang mosque in
fled the area due to the violence. Religious minor-       Urumqi. Chinese authorities had tried to stop
ity Sikhs and Christians were also displaced but          Friday prayers going ahead but at the last minute
tended to travel beyond the temporary camps set           the doors to the mosque were opened. Xinjiang,
up in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).            China, October 2009. Adam Dean/Panos.
In interviews with MRG, many said demands to
convert to Islam, coupled with threats of violence        lated by minorities. Tibetan Buddhists who have
from the Taliban had become unbearable, forcing           attempted to preserve their religious and cultural
them to flee. In July 2009, Agence France Presse          identity by fleeing the country have been shot at; at
reported that ‘non-Muslims are easy prey’ in areas of     least one nun has died.
Pakistan, and Christians who fled from Taliban rule          Uighurs suffer curbs on their religious freedom,
told MRG that their churches have been destroyed.         including legal measures forbidding parents and
   It should be noted that although the conflicts in      guardians to allow children to practise their religion.
Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan are often reported         Men with beards and women in headscarves are par-
in terms of religious differences, many of the most       ticular targets for state repression.
affected communities see the conflicts in terms of           Development practices that exclude and margin-
the denial of their aspirations to self-government        alize minorities in their own regions have also been
and self-determination over natural resources.            reported. Many minority workers from these areas
   States including, among others, China and Sri          have been transported to work in other parts of the
Lanka, which did not support the military coalitions      country. This has contributed to violent clashes
fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, have nevertheless       and loss of life. In 2009 protests in the capital of
appropriated the rhetoric of the ‘war on terrorism’       the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR)
to justify actions against minorities they believe pose   led to violence between Uighurs, Han Chinese and
a threat to their authority or agenda.                    state forces, after tensions between local people and     terrorism policies on persons, especially men,           surveillance activities, these centres have undertaken
   In Sri Lanka, Rohitha Bogallama, the then              Uighur migrant workers in Guangdong, 3,000 miles          believed to be Muslim or originating from a coun-        raids against fast food restaurants, cafes, call cen-
Foreign Minister, said in 2006, ‘The world has            from the XUAR, led to deaths from both com-               try with a majority Muslim population. Religious         tres, bookstores and other businesses, where ‘radical
joined together to denounce terrorism and [in]            munities. The UK’s Guardian newspaper said these          profiling is often linked to, or overlaps with, ethnic   Islamists’ are thought to meet, or that are suspected
accepting the need to counter it.… Zero toler-            were the ‘worst … riots in modern Chinese history’.       profiling. Because a person’s religion is not always     of providing financial support to ‘radical Islamist
ance in terms of terrorism in Sri Lanka.’ Counter-        The Chinese state-owned China Daily claimed,              visible, it is not always clear which ground or com-     networks’. Businesses often face judicial or admin-
terrorism laws were introduced by the government          ‘Evidence shows Uygur separatists who orchestrated        bination of grounds underlies any individual law         istrative penalties, in some cases resulting in their
later that year. These laws heavily and negatively        the July 5 riots in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang       enforcement decision. Nonetheless, religious profil-     closure. According to official figures, the regional
affected the Tamil and Muslim minorities as ethnic        Uygur autonomous region, have close relations with        ing is widespread.                                       centres conducted checks in 2005 on 47 mosques
minorities in the country, as well as those civil soci-   the Afghanistan-based Al-Qaida.’                             In the aftermath of the Christmas Day 2009            and prayer halls, 473 businesses, and 85 cafes and
ety organizations working to protect and promote             Minorities, particularly Muslims across the USA        attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit,           call centres. While these raids have yielded scant
human rights there. As the state pursued the war          and Europe, have also been the targets of increased       Michigan, by a Nigerian Muslim, the US authori-          discernible benefit in countering terrorism, they
against the LTTE or ‘Tamil Tigers’, there were            controls and state powers since the 11 September          ties targeted citizens of 14 countries – 13 of them      have had a corrosive effect on the daily lives of
incidents of violence committed against religious         2001 attacks. States’ use of controls such as religious   predominantly Muslim – for special scrutiny at           French Muslims.
places of worship and large-scale civilian casualties     profiling certainly have the potential to divide com-     airports.                                                   In the United Kingdom, stops and searches
(see Sri Lanka entry below). Despite the ending of        munities, feed resentment and, as MRG has noted,             In France, a 2009 study by the human rights law       of Britons of South Asian descent – many of
the conflict, and calls from MRG and others for           sow the seeds for future conflict.                        organization, the Open Society Justice Initiative        them Muslims – increased fivefold after the 2007
international pressure to be placed on Sri Lanka to                                                                 (OSJI), showed that persons of African descent in        attempted bombings in London and Glasgow, the
end continued human rights violations, the laws           Religious profiling                                       the Paris metro were up to 11.5 times more likely to     UK’s Institute for Race Relations has reported.
remain in place today.                                    By James A. Goldston                                      be stopped by police than Caucasians, and persons        In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights
   In China, ‘war on terrorism’ rhetoric has pro-         Religious profiling involves the use of stereotypes       of Middle Eastern or North African descent were          (ECtHR), in striking down counter-terrorist stop
vided additional cover for state-sanctioned repres-       about persons perceived to profess a certain religion     up to 14.8 times more likely than Caucasians to be       and search powers in Britain as violating European
sion against religious and ethnic minorities, and         as the basis for law enforcement or intelligence          singled out. Many of those stopped were Muslim,          human rights norms, found that ‘[t]he available
derogation from protections for those charged with        action, such as stops, searches, increased scrutiny       though it is not known how many.                         statistics show that black and Asian persons are dis-
national security crimes. In the name of anti-terror-     and surveillance.                                            In recent years, the French Ministry of Interior      proportionately affected by the powers’.
ism, large-scale military exercises have been held in        Since the 11 September 2001 attacks by al-             has created special ‘regional centres to combat             From 2001 to early 2003, according to the OSJI,
China’s border regions – areas that are mostly popu-      Qaeda, many governments have focused counter-             radical Islam’, the OSJI report said. In addition to     Germany undertook a massive data mining exercise

12                             Religious minorities in                          State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                          Religious minorities in                            13
                                    a post-9/11 world                             and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010                              a post-9/11 world
that trawled through the sensitive personal data of        police official who warned of the ‘very real risk’ that    protecting the right to worship at all. Again, this is      a particular location in order to register. The pro-
8.3 million people on the basis of a broad profile         by ‘criminalizing minority communities’, through           state-sanctioned through measures such as religious         posed amendments were eventually declared uncon-
that relied primarily on religion and ethnic origin        ‘the counter-terrorism label … just at the time when       registration laws. Although these laws are sometimes        stitutional by Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council,
– without finding a single individual involved in          we need the confidence and trust of these commu-           presented as responses to security threats or as a          although concerns remain that the government
terrorist activities. Meanwhile, Italian police have       nities, they may retreat inside themselves’.               means of maintaining public order, they are increas-        may try to re-institute similar amendments later in
singled out mosques, and Muslim and immigrant-                Moreover, when authorities treat an entire group        ingly being used by states as a means to monitor and        2010. Such rules are clearly particularly burdensome
owned businesses for special attention, with limited       of people as presumptively suspicious, they are more       control religious activity. In many cases, this can         for smaller or more recently established religious
if any known success.                                      likely to overlook dangerous persons who do not fit        be linked to internal political factors as well as con-     groups, as well as those living in disparate locations.
   The Netherlands has been at the forefront in            the profile. Before the 7 July 2005 London attacks,        tinued fears of extremism in a post-9/11 era. Since            Recent events in Azerbaijan demonstrate how
Europe in developing indicators that allow local           the leader of the bombers had reportedly come to           2001, a number of countries, including Azerbaijan,          registration laws can impact on the freedom of
actors to identify individuals in the process of radi-     the attention of the intelligence services as an associ-   Belarus, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Turkmenistan and               religious minorities and result in a situation where
calization. Religious profiling arises where these         ate of other terrorist suspects. But he was not pur-       Uzbekistan, have either introduced or amended               members of the majority religion are able de facto
efforts conflate an alleged proclivity to violence with    sued because he ‘did not tick enough of the boxes in       their religious registration laws. Without exception,       to deny registration of minority groups. Azerbaijan
changes in manifestations of religious belief – such       the pre-July profile of the terror suspect’, The Times     these amendments have made it more difficult for            is a Muslim majority country with Armenian, Avar,
as a man of Arab origin who suddenly acquires more         newspaper, a British national daily, reported.             some religious communities, particularly religious          Jewish, Lezgin, Russian, Talysh and other smaller
traditionally religious approaches to hair style, dress,      Stops and searches conducted under counter-             minorities, to officially register with the state. In the   minorities. Under Azerbaijan’s new Religion Law,
mosque attendance or physical contact with women           terrorism laws in Europe have produced few terror-         context of a post-9/11 world, it is worth reviewing         which was introduced in May 2009, all religious
in public. Although Dutch officials have taken pains       ism charges and no convictions. Studies in Britain,        just what those laws mean and how they impact on            communities were required to re-register before
to avoid the inclusion of ethnicity or nationality as      the Netherlands, Sweden and the US by organiza-            minorities worldwide.                                       the 1 January 2010 deadline or face withdrawal of
suspicious criteria, the indicators developed often        tions including OSJI, the University of Chicago Law                                                                    official status and liquidation by the courts. Forum
focus on individuals who are becoming more strict          Review and others have concluded that ethnic profil-       Religious registration                                      18 News Service reported that more than four-fifths
in their practice of Islam.                                ing wastes time and money.                                 By Mumtaz Lalani                                            of religious communities were unable to receive re-
   Religious profiling is contrary to international           There are many things governments should do             Religious registration laws require that religious          registration through the State Committee for Work
law, which prohibits discrimination on grounds             to counter the threat of indiscriminate violence,          organizations and/or religious communities register         with Religious Organizations which conducted the
of (actual or perceived) religious belief in relation      including improved coordination among intel-               with the appropriate government body in order               registrations. Forum 18 reported that only commu-
to the administration of justice and policing. But         ligence agencies, speeding up the distribution of          to gain legal recognition as a religious group by           nities affiliated with the Caucasian Muslim Board
profiling is not just illegal; it is counter-productive.   information, hardening potential targets, and giv-         the state. Such laws can be found in a number of            were eligible to apply for registration and that non-
The problem with profiling is that, strange though         ing intelligence and law enforcement agencies more         countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus,          Muslim communities had complained that officials
it may seem, the authorities do not know whom to           consistent ability and resources to carry out the often    Georgia, Latvia, Macedonia, Mongolia, Russia,               responsible for conducting registration had attempt-
profile. Not all terrorists are Muslims. And even if       painstaking investigative work required to apprehend       Serbia and the five former Soviet republics of              ed to force some communities to impose restrictions
they were, not all Muslims look alike, nor do they         and convict persons of terrorist acts. But perhaps         Central Asia.                                               on their religious activities.
come from the same place. The ‘shoe bomber’, who           most important, governments should end profiling.             Rules of registration vary significantly from coun-         Religious registration laws can also have an
in December 2001 sought unsuccessfully to bring            When the US Customs Agency removed an ethni-               try to country but frequently entail complicated reg-       impact at the local level and can empower local
down an airliner flying between Paris and Miami,           cally based drug courier profile that was targeting        istration procedures, along with various restrictions       officials to discriminate against particular religious
was a UK national. One of the men responsible for          African-American and Hispanic women, it more               on the size and type of religious groups that are           or faith groups making it more difficult for them
the 7 July 2005 bombings in London was a natu-             than doubled the frequency of contraband detection,        able to register. For example, some states have made        to register. In Mongolia, where Buddhism is the
ralized UK citizen of African-Caribbean origin. A          its own report found. Police units in Spain that insti-    it more difficult, or even impossible, for religious        majority religion, local officials shut down several
Moroccan national was found responsible for the            tuted data-gathering to monitor profiling tripled the      communities that are non-monotheistic to register.          churches in Erdenet, Northern Mongolia, in July
2004 attack on Madrid’s central train station. The         number of stops which yielded an arrest or other law       In Serbia, ‘traditional’ religious communities such         2009 for lack of registration and also threatened to
2002 Bali bombers were Indonesian.                         enforcement outcome, the OSJI said.                        as the Serbian Orthodox Church receive automatic            confiscate the property of another church, despite
   A British government report has acknowledged,              Religion has long served as a tempting if inac-         registration while other religious communities              having made it extremely difficult for the churches
‘There is not a consistent profile to help identify        curate lightning rod for law enforcement scrutiny.         such as Baha’is and Hare Krishnas continue to be            to register in the first place. After significant advo-
who may be vulnerable to radicalization.’ A 2005           In recent years, the harm of religious profiling, and      denied registration. In other instances, restrictions       cacy by the US-based Becket Fund, the government
French parliamentary report reached a similar con-         the benefits of curtailing it, have grown increasingly     on minimum membership levels are put in place               has reversed its position and the church resumed
clusion. Far from contributing to the fight against        clear. The challenge is to ground policing policy and      meaning that there must be a minimum number of              services in December 2009.
indiscriminate violence, profiling reduces security by     practice in evidence, not prejudice. p                     followers of the religious community in a particular           In addition to being unable to hold religious serv-
alienating some of the very communities that serve                                                                    location in order for them to be able to register. For      ices when groups fail to obtain official registration
as sources of intelligence. Many law enforcement           While profiling has disproportionately targeted            example, the 2008 draft Religion Law in Kazakhstan          documents, members of religious groups are often
professionals understand these dangers. Thus, it was       Muslims, for non-Muslim minorities in some parts           proposed that religious associations had to have at         subject to significant harassment and in some cases
not a human rights advocate, but a senior European         of the world the struggle has increasingly become          least 50 (increased from 10) registered members in          police raids. In December 2009, the Path of Faith

14                             Religious minorities in                           State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                             Religious minorities in                             15
                                    a post-9/11 world                              and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010                                 a post-9/11 world
church in Dashoguz, Turkmenistan, was raided by          lications and speeches considered offensive by some       the turban. In March 2008, three major Danish               of a new organization – the Democratic Muslims
police and religious affairs officials during Sunday     minorities, or, more accurately, declared offensive       newspapers reprinted that cartoon in response to            in Denmark – dedicated to offering a moderate
worship. Church members were questioned, litera-         by a few members in the name of the group as a            this particular plot. In the same year, there was a         political voice for Muslims committed to the
ture was confiscated and the church’s activities were    whole. These forms of expression have faced a vari-       bombing outside the Danish Embassy in Pakistan,             compatibility of democracy with Islam. The
declared illegal without registration. Even in cases     ety of defamation laws, press laws and policies, and      which killed eight people. Al-Qaeda claimed respon-         Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression
where minority or ‘non-traditional’ religious groups     blasphemy laws according to the national context in       sibility for this incident, asserting that it was carried   and Equality, put forward by the NGO Article
are able to obtain registration, they are sometimes      which they are challenged.                                out in revenge for the drawings.                            19 after a wide consultation with experts, call on
still affected by discriminatory treatment closely          But a seeming clash of these two rights perhaps           The saga also came to the surface on a number            the mass media to take steps ‘as a moral and social
related to registration laws. In Serbia, for example,    over-simplifies the issues at stake. The right to         of occasions more recently, not least in late 2009          responsibility’ to, ‘seek a multiplicity of sources and
parliament passed a decision in January 2009, which      equality and non-discrimination also comes into           in relation to Yale University Press and at the             voices within different communities, rather than
made ‘traditional’ religious communities, who            play, as does respect for diversity.                      beginning of 2010 with an attempted assault in              representing communities as monolithic blocks’.
receive automatic registration, exempt from paying          A key case that came to define these issues in the     Denmark. In finalizing the publication of Jytte                On the one hand, in some countries of the glo-
administrative taxes, while ‘non-traditional’ groups     mid-2000s was the Prophet Muhammad cartoon                Klausen’s book The Cartoons that Shook the World,           bal North, the cartoon controversy has served as a
not only have to apply for registration but are also     controversy, which originated in Denmark and,             Yale University Press stated that it had consulted          platform for questioning the loyalties of religious
expected to pay this tax.                                like the Rushdie controversy of the 1980s, escalated      over 20 security, Islam and counter-terrorism               minorities to the state and their alleged inability to
   At present, many religious registration procedures    beyond national and regional borders into a full-         experts on whether or not to print the cartoons             uphold so-called ‘European’ values. On the other
are applied in a discriminatory manner against cer-      blown international crisis.                               in the book. Yale University Press was insistent            hand, in some Muslim states, the protests have
tain religious minorities. Freedom of religious belief                                                             that its resulting decision to withdraw the images          fuelled an anti-Western frenzy that projects non-
should not be limited to ‘traditional’ or dominant       Religious minorities and the cartoon                      from publication was out of concern for deadly              Muslims as alien and jeopardizes their rights. The
religious groups. Rather, as indicated by the UN         controversy                                               violence rather than hindrance of free speech. On 1         rights and protections with regard to minorities
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief,     By Nazila Ghanea                                          January 2010 the Danish police shot and wounded             remain, however, and states are bound by them.
Asma Jahangir, in her 2009 summary of cases sub-         The controversy started in September 2005,                a 27-year-old man who was armed with a knife and               The rights of religious minorities include
mitted to governments, religious registration pro-       when the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten           axe. He had reportedly broken into the home of              freedom of religion or belief, and particularly the
cedures should be brief and simple and should not        published 12 cartoons caricaturing the Prophet            Kurt Westergaard and threatened to kill him.                right to manifest religion or belief in association
be dependent either on reviews of the substantive        Muhammad, which had been submitted by a                      Controversies such as this one are fuelled by            with others, and the objectives of both non-
content of the belief or on extensive formal require-    number of artists. As the political scientist Christian   expressions of ‘offence’ in the name of religious           discrimination and equality. What minority rights
ments. Registration laws should be legislated merely     Rostboll has noted, they were published under the         minorities. However, it should not be forgotten that        add to the rights affirmed regarding manifestation
for the acquisition of a legal personality and related   heading ‘The Face of Muhammad’, with the stated           the respective religious minorities may also have           of religion or belief in association with others
benefits and should not be a precondition for            aim to ‘push back self-imposed limits on expres-          been politically instrumentalized without consulta-         includes the distinctive protection offered,
practising one’s religion. The UN Human Rights           sion’ and teach the Danish Muslim minority that           tion, and may indeed be rendered more vulnerable            the duties specified and the thresholds for the
Council (HRC) should play an important role in           in Danish secular society, ‘one must be prepared          as a result of such incidents. The very rationale           fulfilment of those rights. By way of example,
monitoring and evaluating the implementation of          to put up with scorn, mockery, and ridicule’. The         behind the competition inviting the submission to           minority rights recognize the need for the survival
religious registration laws, noting particularly the     subsequent protests and violence, some of which           the cartoons had been to teach the Danish Muslim            of group characteristics and offer clarity on the
impact of such laws on minority and so-called ‘non-      took place months and even years after the publica-       minority community a lesson. In this instance,              positive measures of protection required of states.
traditional’ religious groups, and providing recom-      tions, have resulted in over 200 deaths, injuries,        tensions around ensuring the enjoyment of collec-              Human rights discussions on the cartoon con-
mendations to ensure that their freedom of religion      the burning of embassies and churches, and clashes        tive minority rights are heightened and the already         troversy have been prone to reading it merely as a
is being appropriately safeguarded. p                    with police in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and        tenuous status of minority communities jeopardized          clash between freedom of expression and freedom
                                                         even Hong Kong. Some argue that the key reason            further. This has particularly been the case for newly      of religion or belief. However, there is a much
It is clear from the analysis above that events of the   for the aggravation of the crisis was the refusal         arrived minority groups.                                    broader balancing that can come into play in such
last eight years have made it increasingly impor-        by the then Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh                Regarding religious minorities, public and               scenarios, taking into account minority rights,
tant to affirm and protect the right to freedom of       Rasmussen to meet with a group of diplomats from          governmental disquiet with the manifestation of             individual and collective rights, and equality and
religion. For minorities this is particularly urgent.    Muslim countries in October 2005. According to            religion or belief in public has increased. Some            non-discrimination rights as well. What is often
But this increasing need has also presented signifi-     Rostboll, he did so on the grounds of the values of       media and politicians are prone to presenting               neglected is the relationship of this matter with
cant and specific challenges to the human rights         Enlightenment and the principle of free expression,       religious minority communities as monolithic,               questions such as: respect for diversity and equality
framework, particularly where, as in some Northern       on which ‘we cannot give one millimetre’. The vio-        and all religious ‘demands’ as being unitary.               for people of diverse cultures; censorship versus self-
hemisphere countries, the protection of freedom of       lence resurfaced on a number of occasions in subse-       Nevertheless, this is rarely the case. In the example       restraint; whether free speech by some may silence
religion is sometimes portrayed as running counter       quent years. In 2008 three men were arrested by the       at hand, even the Danish Muslim community                   the expression of identity by others; conceptions of
to other human rights such as freedom of expres-         Danish intelligence services for plotting to murder       itself had varying reactions to the publication of          democracy and the value of pluralism; the causing
sion. There have been numerous controversies             Kurt Westergaard, the artist behind the most con-         the cartoons. One Danish Muslim group, for                  and the taking of offence by individuals and minori-
around the world over cartoons, plays, adverts, pub-     troversial of the 12 cartoons, that of the bomb in        example, responded by spearheading the creation             ties; the legitimacy and authority of those who speak

16                             Religious minorities in                         State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                             Religious minorities in                             17
                                    a post-9/11 world                            and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010                                 a post-9/11 world
in the name of religious minorities; disquiet with         violence and persecution against minority groups           any activity that aims to destroy the rights of oth-    Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be
‘otherness’ and the integration of migrants; and the       offers a useful indicator. Arguably, therefore, Article    ers, including their right to free expression. All in   better used to address the discrimination that leads
need for vigorous public debates in order to ensure        20 of the ICCPR should be read not only in rela-           all, and as the Camden Principles on Freedom of         to the grinding poverty and the deep-seated exclu-
a fuller understanding of the freedoms of expression       tion to Article 19 addressing freedom of expression,       Expression and Equality note, ‘States should estab-     sion that many minorities face, as Chapter 3 shows.
as well as religion or belief.                             but also Article 26 addressing non-discrimination          lish a clear legal and policy framework for combat-     What is clear throughout this book is that the pro-
    In the UN, a highly polarized debate over the          and Article 27 addressing minority rights.                 ing discrimination in its various forms, including      tection and promotion of the rights of minorities
past decade has been concerned with whether to                The qualifier that comes with such a reading of         harassment, and for realizing the right to equality,    and indigenous peoples are in the best interests of
craft a new ban on the ‘defamation of religion’ in         Articles 20 and 27 is that the objectives of minor-        including in relation to freedom of expression.’        society at large. The international community and
international human rights. Since 1999, this matter        ity rights should not be forgotten. This calls for            As the cartoon controversies continue to create      bodies such as the HRC have a stronger role to play
has been addressed under various agenda items              a consideration of the self-identification and free        new victims, it is worth revisiting the richness and    in, for example, monitoring and evaluating how
including: racial intolerance, freedom of expression,      expression of individuals belonging to minority            balance of the human rights framework, not least        the rights of religious minorities are safeguarded.
freedom of religion or belief, ‘complementarity of         groups, their freedom of religion or belief and free       as captured within the ICCPR. This debate should        Minority rights can also be drawn on to ensure
standards’, the World Conference against Racism            expression, their duty to not ‘engage in any activity      not be solely preoccupied with the question of          effective rule of law that addresses security without
in Durban, hate speech and incitement, and the             or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any         whether freedom of the press should be unhindered       targeting a particular community. Discrimination,
relationship between Articles 19 and 20 of the             [ICCPR] … rights and freedoms’ (see Article 5.1            or constrained. As has been suggested, a much           including with regard to property rights, land rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political              of the ICCPR). These qualifiers, therefore, suggest        wider human rights assessment is required. In this      and participation in decision-making, should be
Rights (ICCPR).                                            caution with regard to the simple trumping of one          regard, a full respect for the rights of religious      addressed if equality is to be achieved within states’
    The vulnerability of minorities means that there       right over another – such as the prohibition of hate       minorities would contribute to defusing, not fuel-      borders. States need to ensure the survival and
should be particular vigilance in relation to hate         speech over free expression, or indeed of free expres-     ling, this crisis.                                      continued development of minorities, ‘develop-
speech that targets them. They require special             sion over minority rights.                                                                                         ment’ being not only internal to the group but also
consideration in relation to the duty imposed on              Individuals (including those belonging to minori-       Ways forward                                            including healthy association and effective partici-
state parties through Article 20 of the ICCPR,             ties) have the right to live without discrimination        The human cost of the ‘war on terror’ has been          pation with society at large. Minorities should be
which states, ‘1. Any propaganda for war shall be          and free of hate speech which ‘constitutes incite-         immense. Whether caught in countries that have          consulted fully and openly on matters of concern to
prohibited by law. 2. Any advocacy of national,            ment to discrimination, hostility or violence’.            been targeted by the US-led military interventions,     them and their existence protected and celebrated.
racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement     Individuals (including those belonging to minori-          whether living in countries where governments have      Almost a decade on from the 9/11 attacks, the
to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be          ties) should enjoy free expression and freedom of          launched their own ‘wars on terrorism’, whether         continued exclusion, repression and penalization of
prohibited by law.’ Although there is no explicit          religion or belief. These rights encompass the right       targeted by discriminatory registration policies or     religious minorities must be checked. p
mention of minorities in paragraph 2 of the article,       to manifest that religion or belief in association with    police profiling as a potential threat on account of
the UN Human Rights Committee, in its General              others and to define themselves as belonging to a          one’s religious beliefs, or whether targeted by reli-
Comment 11 on Article 20, observed that Article            religious minority community. They also include            gious extremists, minority civilians continue to bear
20 places an obligation on state parties ‘to adopt         the right for persons belonging to minorities to           a disproportionate share of the impact. Although
the necessary legislative measures prohibiting             change their religion or belief, and to not declare        2009 might seem to have marked a turning-point,
the actions referred to therein’, by showing that          their minority status.                                     when the ‘war on terror’ rhetoric finally fell from
they have been ‘prohibited in law’, or showing                The right to adopt a religion or belief of one’s        the headlines and US troops withdrew from Iraqi
that ‘appropriate efforts intended or made to              choice would necessitate the tolerance of discussions      cities, the damage to minority communities world-
prohibit them’ have been made. According to the            that may challenge one’s religious or other beliefs.       wide has already been done.
Committee, full and effective compliance with              Articles 18 or 27 do not demand observance of or              What are the ways forward in this new climate
this obligation requires ‘a law making it clear that       obedience to the religious laws or beliefs of oth-         of explicit cultural and legalized suspicion? A more
propaganda and advocacy as described therein are           ers – in this instance, the Islamic prohibition on the     integrated approach to minority rights by states
contrary to public policy and providing for an             depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. However,                that have signed up to the international human
appropriate sanction in case of violation’.                they do require that ‘no one shall be subject to           rights framework is at the core of MRG’s work
    The requisite threshold for hate speech as quali-      coercion which would impair his freedom to have or         on conflict prevention. This includes identifying
fied in Article 20 is conditioned by that which ‘con-      to adopt a religion or belief of his choice’ and that      harmful state practices and countering discrimina-
stitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or        minorities ‘not be denied the right, in community          tion, with special focus on multiple forms of dis-
violence’. It should be noted that the advocacy of         with the other members of their group, to … pro-           crimination, for example against minority women.
hatred constituting incitement is more specific than       fess and practise their own religion’. The intolerance     As discussed in Chapter 2 of this book, interfaith
any expression that may be deemed discriminatory,          and prejudice in a particular society may escalate to      dialogue can provide a practical way to address ten-
in this case in relation to religious minorities. When     such a severe level that they extirpate the right to       sions that exist in the aftermath of violence and to
assessing the higher thresholds of incitement to hos-      profess religion or belief. Finally, neither individuals   avoid future problems. In terms of root causes of
tility and violence, therefore, the history of religious   belonging to minorities or majorities may engage in        conflict, frameworks offered by, for example, the

18                              Religious minorities in                          State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                         Religious minorities in                            19
                                     a post-9/11 world                             and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010                             a post-9/11 world
                      ‘There will be no peace among the nations without            Sarasi, crying now, stopped speaking and the
                      peace among the religions. There will be no peace         room was silent for a beat, before a young monk
                      among the religions without dialogue among the reli-      raised his hand. The monk noted that it hurt his
                      gions.’ Dr Hans Küng, 31 March 2005, at the open-         heart that the figure of Buddha could elicit this sort
                      ing of an exhibit on the world’s religions at Santa       of fear of domination and might be used to express
                      Clara University                                          this sort of sentiment. We have to understand this
                                                                                perception, the monk said, and ensure that our

                              n a bright air-conditioned room outside of        religions fuel compassion and respect, not fear and
                              Polonnoruwa in north-central Sri Lanka, Sarasi,   domination.
                              a small Hindu Tamil woman with a long braid          The exchange was remarkable for its honesty.
                      of hair falling down the back of her dark pink kurti,     For the first days of the gathering, the conversation
                      stood before a diverse group of religious men. Many       had been tentative – the participants seeking not
                      were Buddhist monks from the Sinhala majority.            to offend others, and so avoiding sensitive subjects,
                         Sri Lanka today faces a vulnerable transition,         exhibiting denial and defensiveness. By the third
                      after decades of bloody civil conflict fought between     and fourth days, as this exchange demonstrated, the
                      the government and the armed Tamil separatist             participants had found the means to speak to each
                      movement, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam            other with honesty, and to respond with compassion

Engaging across
                      (LTTE). The defeat of the LTTE and the end of             and acknowledgement rather than defensiveness,
                      the fighting occurred only months before the meet-        seeking to understand the perspectives and experi-
                      ing took place. For three days, Sarasi observed these     ences of other communities. The result was a tenta-
                      religious figures participate in facilitated interfaith   tive relationship of trust that the group pledged to

divides: interfaith
                      dialogue addressing reconciliation, justice and           build on, in order to identify and mobilize around
                      coexistence in Sri Lanka. Over meals, she herself         issues of justice.
                      engaged in conversation with participants on these           Interfaith dialogue is increasingly offered as a

dialogue for peace
                      issues – all of them of central importance and elicit-    concrete means to bridge inter-communal divides,
                      ing strong emotions.                                      build coalitions, and challenge the social-psycho-
                         Haltingly and softly, Sarasi expressed to the meet-    logical dynamics that can fuel warfare and injustice.
                      ing how powerful it was to have witnessed religious       Interfaith dialogue can be a particularly useful tool

and justice
                      figures, revered social actors in Sri Lanka’s deeply      for building awareness among majority communities
                      faithful society, engage across traditional religious     about the experiences and needs of minorities, and
                      and ethnic divides. It matters, Sarasi stated, because    for bringing simmering tensions to the surface and
                      religion holds symbolic power in our (Sri Lankan)         addressing them in a potentially constructive manner.
                      divides, despite the common ground and mutual             It can also be useful as a means to prevent conflict

Susan Hayward
                      respect between our religions. Sarasi spoke of her        by strengthening relationships between communities
                      Hindu community’s respect for the Buddha. He is a         and thereby decreasing the potential for communal
                      teacher to us, she asserted.                              divides to become fault-lines of violence. Particularly
                                                                                in places where religion is fuelling inter-communal
                      ‘In our temples in the North, you will find the           violence and exclusion, interfaith dialogue, when
                      Buddha alongside Hindu gods and goddesses. We             strategically designed and carefully implemented, can
                      revere him for his wisdom and his compassion. And         be used alongside other peace- and justice-making
                      yet last year, when a Buddhist statue was erected         techniques to challenge and transform dynamics
                      in the middle of Killinochi [a town inhabited by          driving injustice and conflict. Interfaith dialogue can
                      Tamils and the most recent home-base of the LTTE],        strengthen cultural and institutional commitments
                      we knew that it was a political statement. There          to religious, ethnic, racial and communal pluralism.
                      are no Buddhists living in Killinochi. This statue’s      This chapter will seek to highlight the opportunities
                      arrival felt like the Sinhala Buddhist community          offered by interfaith dialogue, as well as its limits, as a
                      asserting its claim to this town. It sparked suspicion    means to raise awareness about minority rights and as
                      and anger, fuelled mistrust in the government and         a tool for conflict prevention.
                      the intentions of the Sinhalese in the newly captured        What is meant by interfaith dialogue? Certainly
                      north of the country.’                                    there is a great deal of informal interfaith conversa-

                      State of the World’s Minorities                           Engaging across divides: interfaith                     21
                      and Indigenous Peoples 2009                               dialogue for peace and justice
tion that occurs in environments in which those           lowing 9/11. It was also done out of a sheer desire        munities, but also the different positions that have      Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace and the
of different faiths can engage with one another in        to articulate an alternative Islam to that espoused by     been reached through ethical and theological or           Alliance of Civilizations, confirm the worth of inter-
routine and ordinary ways – at work, in the market,       those Muslims who had orchestrated and carried out         philosophical discernment. Participants are pushed        faith dialogue as a tool for peace-building. Similarly,
at social gatherings and so forth. These everyday         the events of 9/11. On the part of the participating       to observe how their behaviour is or is not living        the Asian-Europe Meeting (ASEM) has incorpo-
encounters across faith-divides are valuable but not      non-Muslim communities, there was oftentimes a             up to their ideals, and the effect of their actions       rated inter-religious dialogue as part of its work and
equivalent to the practice of interfaith dialogue,        genuine interest in learning more about Islam fol-         on others, which may differ from their inten-             has issued several statements over the past years with
as it is used for peace- and justice-making. When         lowing the attacks. Copies of the Qur’an flew off          tions. Exclusive and/or competing truth claims are        recommendations to participant states for actions to
employed as a tool or strategic practice, interfaith      the bookshelves, and local churches and synagogues         addressed and understood. At this level, participants     promote peaceful religious coexistence. In October
dialogue refers to facilitated discussions on specific    reached out to mosques in their community, seeking         come to understand not only other faiths, but their       2007, the then Organisation for the Security and
topics held between members of different faith com-       to engage and to understand.                               own more intimately. Real personal and communal           Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman-in-
munities, with an expressed objective or objectives.         According to the Professor of Catholic Thought          transformation can take place. After all, as Cardinal     Office, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel
   These objectives can include building mutual           and Inter-Religious Dialogue at Temple University,         Francis Arinze has said, ‘Religion is one of the deep-    Moratinos, asserted that open dialogue among peo-
understanding and acceptance, correcting stereo-          Leonard Swidler, interfaith dialogue operates in           est motive forces of human action. Our religious          ple of all faiths and cultures is ‘necessary to combat
types, and building relationships in order to address     three areas: ‘the practical, where we collaborate to       convictions, attitudes, sensitivities and prejudices do   intolerance and discrimination against Muslims’, an
common problems. The goal is not to convert, to           help humanity; the depth or “spiritual” dimen-             influence to a great extent our approach to the ques-     issue of current debate in Europe.
assert the superiority of one faith or to conflate dif-   sion, where we attempt to experience the partner’s         tions of the day.’ In other words, when tapping into         This embrace of interfaith dialogue stems from
ferent religions (diluting them into one common           religion or ideology “from within”; [and] the cogni-       individuals’ religious beliefs and sentiments, peace-     a collective recognition that ignorance and fear can
denominator), but to appreciate similarities and          tive, where we seek understanding [of] the truth’.         makers work at a level that is highly persuasive with     often stymie healthy inter-communal relationships
differences between religions and for participants        Through dialogue and coming to understand one              respect to the determination of one’s behaviour and       and undermine policies seeking to promote plural-
to understand how their faith shapes their positions      another, religious pluralism may take root that            attitudes. When dialogue goes well, allowing partici-     ism. Interfaith dialogue, then, can be a means to
on particular issues. In other words, participants in     allows religious traditions to coexist and for people      pants to engage with other perspectives and reach         bolster policies protecting and promoting minority
these dialogues use their religious faith and tradition   of faith not to feel threatened by the religious beliefs   greater mutual respect and understanding, signifi-        rights and multiculturalism in diverse societies. If
not only to build relationships, but as doorways into     of those belonging to other communities. At the            cant positive change can result.                          pluralism is understood to be an environment in
discussions about central social and political con-       heart of this is a presumption that, through sustain-         Beyond the specific expressed goals of individual      which diverse religions live side by side with mutual
cerns driving inter-communal conflict. The purpose        able and respectful relationships based on dialogue        interfaith dialogues (e.g. environmental care,            respect and open engagement (in contrast to mere
is not to debate in the sense that one side seeks to      and engagement, conflicts resulting from or exac-          women’s human rights, etc.), wider and more               religious tolerance, in which a religious community
‘win’ an argument by aggressively challenging or          erbated by fear, disrespect and misunderstanding           cumulative dialogues are increasingly espoused by         ‘puts up with’ other religions but does not neces-
seeking to delegitimize the viewpoint of another,         between communities are less likely to occur, and,         governments, international organizations, non-            sarily respect and engage with them, or to strongly
but rather to interact respectfully with the purpose      when they do, are less likely to devolve into vio-         governmental organizations (NGOs), academic               secular societies in which religious practice and
of hearing and understanding the other’s perspec-         lence. For example, in his study Ethnic Conflict and       institutions and religious communities, as an             identity are disrespected or even suppressed), then
tive, and so finding ways forward.                        Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India, Ashutosh          important means to promote pluralism, and to              interfaith dialogue serves to encourage pluralistic
   In the United States, there was a surge in the         Varshney analysed the inverse correlation between          decrease bias and bigotry that can lead to hate           environments by facilitating individual contact
popularity of interfaith dialogue following the events    the existence of integrated Muslim–Hindu networks          crimes, violence and discrimination.                      and relationship-building, allowing participants to
of 11 September 2001. This serves as a poignant           for civic engagement, such as professional organi-            The governments of Jordan and Saudi Arabia,            transcend doctrinal differences. All may not agree
example of the positive influence of this practice        zations, and the degree of inter-ethnic violence           among other governments in the Arab world, hosted         with one another at the conclusion of an interfaith
in promoting peaceful and respectful coexistence          in India. It showed that in Indian cities where            large international interfaith dialogue meetings in       dialogue session, but ideally most participants will
between religious majority and minority groups liv-       Muslims and Hindus have opportunities to engage            2009. The two countries also have national institu-       understand and appreciate the different viewpoints
ing side by side, particularly in moments of social       regularly with one another, there is less likelihood of    tions mandated to promote interfaith dialogue,            of others. Most importantly, participants may
and political tension. The minority Muslim com-           inter-communal violence breaking out in the face of        including Jordan’s Royal Institute for Interfaith         recognize one another’s dignity and so be subse-
munity reached out to other religious communities         political, economic or social disruptions.                 Studies and Saudi Arabia’s Royal Aal al-Bayt              quently committed to finding ways to live peaceably
in the aftermath of the crisis, particularly the major-      Effective interfaith dialogue moves participants        Institute for Islamic Thought, which helped facili-       together and to develop rights-respecting policies
ity Christian community, opening up their mosques         beyond superficial levels of engagement, namely            tate the launch of ‘A Common Word’ initiative, a          that do not infringe on the world view and practices
to visitors, inviting those of other religions to iftar   mere platitudes seeking to avoid offending anyone          global Muslim/Christian dialogue. US President            of particular communities (as long as those practices
dinners during Ramadan, and inviting dialogue             or a series of speeches offered, between which there       Barack Obama spoke favourably of interfaith               do not cause harm to others). This can go a long
as a means to educate communities on Islam. The           is little conversation, and into a more profound           dialogue in his 2009 speech in Cairo, address-            way in challenging negative stereotypes and biases
purpose was to combat popular false interpretations       interaction in which participants can honestly reflect     ing the Islamic world. The UN General Assembly            held by the participants themselves, and will also,
and fears of Islam, and to transcend the isolation        on and struggle together over potentially sensitive        Resolutions 58/128, 59/23, 60/10 and 61/221 all           ideally, grant them the ability to recognize and
of many immigrant communities. This was done              and provocative issues. At this level of discussion,       call for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation         confront negative stereotypes and biases in their
in response, in part, to verbal and physical attacks      participants tackle not only the common views              as a necessary means to promote a global culture          communities. This is important in so far as negative
against Islam, Muslims and mosques in the US fol-         shared between the traditions of different faith com-      of peace. Other UN fora, including the Tripartite         stereotyping and bias can create an environment in

22                 Engaging across divides: interfaith                          State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                           Engaging across divides: interfaith                 23
                       dialogue for peace and justice                             and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010                               dialogue for peace and justice
                                                                                                                     Left: The hospital chaplain visits a patient at          and world views of those in conflict, in order to
                                                                                                                     Nazareth Hospital where Christian, Jewish                discover how to engage and encourage more positive
                                                                                                                     and Muslim doctors work together. Robin                  interpretations. This can guide warring communi-
                                                                                                                     Hammond/Panos.                                           ties towards understanding, through the language
                                                                                                                                                                              of religion, how the enemy can be seen afresh, in a
                                                                                                                     violations are morally legitimized as necessary to       manner that will not collapse the entire meaning or
                                                                                                                     achieve a sacred end). Thus, a political dispute is      structure of one’s own faith tradition.
                                                                                                                     transformed into a religious activity in popular con-       For both Appelby and Gopin, the key to coun-
                                                                                                                     sciousness. In response to these dynamics, scholars      teracting the destructive role of religion in fuelling
                                                                                                                     such as Appleby acknowledge the ambivalence about        violence is found within the religious traditions
                                                                                                                     violence inherent in many religions, and call for        themselves, rather than through eschewing religion
                                                                                                                     programmes that can tap the sentiment that religion      in favour of purely secular practices. Essentially,
                                                                                                                     manifests and apply that zeal towards peace-building     they postulate that in those places where community
                                                                                                                     rather than warfare. To do so, he argues for greater     members are interpreting their political and social
                                                                                                                     resources in religious education being applied           realities in part or in whole through a religious lens,
                                                                                                                     towards moral and philosophical commitments to           those seeking to promote pro-social behaviour and
                                                                                                                     pro-social values, including peace and tolerance.        attitudes will need to speak to them in their own
                                                                                                                     Through greater understanding of the religious           interpretive language. This will not only address
                                                                                                                     commitments to peace that can be found in all the        them where they are at, but will also counteract and
                                                                                                                     major faith traditions, Appleby speaks of creating       challenge exclusivist and violent interpretations.
                                                                                                                     a movement of peace and non-violent resistance           Luckily, there is a great deal of material within reli-
                                                                                                                     committed to these values, motivated by spiritual        gious traditions that can be drawn upon for conflict
                                                                                                                     sentiment, and able to counter violent or unjust reli-   prevention, resolution and reconciliation. Religious
                                                                                                                     gious movements. In so doing, religious leaders can      leaders, teachings, values and institutions can all be
                                                                                                                     become social critics, advocates of the oppressed and    marshalled in these efforts. And this is where inter-
                                                                                                                     monitors of rising conflict.                             faith dialogue can be used for peace- and justice-
                                                                                                                        Scholar Marc Gopin presents religion’s role in        making. Interfaith dialogue is not the only, or even
which violence and oppression of particular groups          predilections course through different faith tradi-      conflict as a means by which individuals in a faith      the primary, form of religious peace-making (which
can take place.                                             tions, claiming that one’s own tradition is the          community interpret their reality and the struggles      encompasses such initiatives as religious leaders serv-
   Interfaith dialogue can be used at different levels      only or best means to attain salvation; these can        they face. Gopin draws on his experience working         ing as local and national mediators, or conflict reso-
of society, targeting grassroots communities and            create a foundational basis for superiority that can     in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories       lution training in religious schools and institutions),
local leaders, as well as intermediate or senior-level      subsequently be drawn upon to legitimate repres-         (OPT) as a participant in conflict resolution proc-      but it is perhaps the most well-known and practised.
leadership (clergy, academics, policy-makers, etc.).        sive behaviour towards others. Exclusive claims to       esses that include religious leaders from all sides         At those times when political, social or economic
It can be a one-off event but is best done as a sus-        salvation are not necessary, however, for religion to    of the conflict. In the face of extraordinary suffer-    tensions arise, dialogue mechanisms allow for
tained series of dialogues. The dialogues can address       be drawn upon to justify violence. Myth, scriptural      ing and insecurity, many individuals use religious       conflicts to be addressed, misunderstandings cor-
theological issues (e.g. the after-life, or the nature of   mandate and religious rhetoric used to legitimate        beliefs, stories, values and sentiment to understand     rected and solutions negotiated, before large-scale
God(s) or Truth), general social and political issues       some goal, as well as the violence used to achieve it,   their situation, define their interests and goals, and   violence breaks out. Former Norwegian Prime
(e.g. what religions teach about human rights or            are dynamics witnessed in many conflict zones.           mobilize continued energy for their own struggles.       Minister Kjell Bondevik spoke in 2009 at a meet-
governance), and pertinent shared challenges (e.g.             In his work, scholar Scott Appleby explores how          Gopin recognizes that the crux of the greatest        ing of the Common Word Initiative, a global
climate change, local/national/global conflicts).           ethno-nationalist movements seeking self-legitima-       conflicts in the modern world is the age-old tension     Muslim–Christian dialogue project. At this meeting,
Interfaith dialogue can be done for dialogue’s sake         tion and mobilization have used religious resources.     between integration (and globalization) and main-        Bondevik recounted how the cartoons published
(to build relationships and mutual understanding),          Appleby asserts that the suppression of the religious    taining uniqueness. He argues that a peaceful reli-      in Denmark in 2005 that caused outrage amongst
or it can lead to collective action taken to rectify a      sphere in some regions during the twentieth century      gion is one that maintains a solid sense of identity     Muslim communities were similarly published
particular social or political problem.                     made faith vulnerable to usurpation by nationalist       alongside and with respect for other traditions. As      in Norway. In Norway, however, there had been
                                                            forces seeking to exploit religious symbols, language    such, an element of religious peace-building should      sustained interfaith dialogue in the years preced-
Interfaith dialogue as a tool for con-                      and causes. These violent nationalist forces have        entail finding the resources within each religion        ing. Bondevik noted that, when the cartoons were
flict prevention                                            mobilized deep-seated religious experience and           to promote this form of identity as opposed to an        published, Christian, Muslim, and other religious
Unfortunately, it is all too common that religion           motivation and applied them to political ends, cre-      exclusivist and violent religious identity. This leads   and political leaders immediately came together,
serves as a factor driving or legitimating violence         ating religious commitments to achieving political       to the suggestion for peace-makers (both religious       and responded to the emerging crisis constructively.
and injustice against other communities. Exclusivist        goals through whatever means necessary (i.e. ethical     and secular) to immerse themselves in the traditions     This may have been part of the reason why the

24                  Engaging across divides: interfaith                           State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                          Engaging across divides: interfaith                 25
                        dialogue for peace and justice                              and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010                              dialogue for peace and justice
controversy did not erupt into the level of crisis wit-   religious leaders from the majority Sinhala Buddhist        underpinnings of human rights regarding inherent         consider how to design, prepare for, and conduct an
nessed in Denmark, argued Bondevik, where there           and minority Tamil Hindu, Christian (encompass-             individual dignity. When the Universal Declaration       interfaith dialogue session so as to ensure its success.
was less history of interfaith dialogue and therefore     ing both Sinhala and Tamil ethnicities) and Muslim          of Human Rights (UDHR) or minority rights
fewer avenues for, and less trust between, leaders        communities from the south and east of the island.          principles are examined alongside religious teach-         E
                                                                                                                                                                               p	 stablish ground-rules. Prior to delving into the
from the two communities to address the crisis            Because of the decades of conflict, many of these           ings, participants may recognize the sources of            dialogue itself, participants should establish a set
expeditiously before it escalated. Similarly, when the    participants had not had many opportunities for             these legal proclamations within their own cultures        of ground-rules that will create an atmosphere
Christian community in Kirkuk, Iraq was attacked          meaningful interaction across their identity divides.       and traditions, and critically examine where there         in which all feel safe to speak openly, and which
in April 2009, participants from an interfaith dia-       This is especially true concerning Tamils in the            may be tensions between international law and              encourages active and respectful listening to one
logue session held the previous month led a delega-       north. He continued:                                        religious beliefs. When conducted among grassroots         another.
tion of Sunni and Shia religious figures, who visited                                                                 communities, interfaith dialogue can in this way           U
                                                                                                                                                                               p	 se secondary or inclusive language. Facilitators
local Christian leaders to express remorse, and to        ‘As a result of these three days, I feel they have really   popularize human rights norms in the wider com-            should model and encourage participants to use
ascertain how to reduce violence in the region and        come to hear me and to understand and appreciate my         munity, extending the work of creating norms of            language that does not demean other religious
promote religious coexistence. They subsequently          community’s perspective. We cannot secure minority          inter-communal respect beyond elite state officials,       or cultural traditions. Minority or marginalized
brought this experience and the ideas generated           rights without the Sinhala, and without the support of      lawyers or diplomats.                                      communities, in particular, will be very sensitive
back to their own communities to encourage                Sinhala monks in particular. Now I begin to feel it is         Finally, interfaith dialogue serves the cause of        to scriptural quotations that even subtly criticize
restraint and peaceful relations with Kirkuk’s minor-     possible. And as for me, I now realize my belief that all   minority rights by strengthening awareness of              other traditions. For example, in the aforemen-
ity Christian community.                                  Buddhist monks are anti-Tamil is not true.’                 and appreciation for religious, ethnic, tribal and         tioned interfaith dialogue session in northern
                                                                                                                      cultural diversity within a given society. When            Iraq, a passage from the Qur’an was quoted sev-
Interfaith dialogue and                                   Interfaith dialogue can promote attitudinal changes.        the practices and beliefs of minority communities          eral times by Muslims that encouraged love and
minority rights                                           Through gaining new perspectives and information,           within a society are not well-known, they can be           respect towards others. In quoting this passage,
The greatest feat interfaith dialogue can achieve is      participants’ understandings change. And through            viewed with suspicion and fear. At an interfaith           the Muslim participants were seeking to affirm
to raise awareness about the perspective and experi-      experiencing in a safe environment a constructive           dialogue session in northern Iraq in October 2008,         this value. However, there was a secondary mes-
ences of other groups, particularly minorities. In a      encounter with someone from a different communi-            a religious leader from the Yezidi community               sage in this passage that described Islam as the
society in which one culture or religion predomi-         ty, a participant’s emotional response to other com-        spent a great deal of energy trying to counteract          ‘culmination’ of other faiths. When this passage
nates, those belonging to it may not have adequate        munities can change. These attitudinal changes are          persistent and historical misunderstandings about          was quoted, the non-Muslims in the room were
opportunities to connect empathically with persons        bolstered by the religious nature of the dialogues.         Yezidi practitioners worshipping the devil. These          made increasingly uncomfortable by this passage’s
from minorities and therefore to understand from          When participants discuss their religious beliefs and       rumours, the participant suspected, had spurred            secondary meaning. Finally, a participant from
their perspective the challenges and prejudices they      spiritual experiences, they are likely to speak from a      some of the discrimination and violence the Yezidi         one of the minority religious traditions exploded
face. Interfaith dialogue can provide this opportu-       deeply rooted place, from the heart. By engaging at         community had faced in Iraq. At the very least,            in anger after this passage was repeated, much to
nity. With its light framework, ground rules, and         this level, as mentioned earlier, personal transforma-      it had reduced the sympathy of those from other            the surprise of many of the Muslim participants.
the manner in which religion can bring to the fore        tion is more likely to result, and so commitments to        communities and their willingness to defend                Fortunately, this moment was a ripe opportunity
issues of central importance to individuals and com-      pursuing social justice and peace-making activities         Yezidis and protect their religious tradition’s integ-     to build greater mutual understanding and empa-
munities, interfaith dialogue can create a space in       will be more deeply rooted.                                 rity. The participant described the basic theologi-        thy when addressed sensitively by experienced
which to increase majority community awareness               Many religious traditions have values and teach-         cal foundations of the Yezidi faith, responding to         facilitators.
about minority concerns. In coming to empathize           ings that can justify prejudice against other religious     others’ questions, clarifying misunderstandings and        S
                                                                                                                                                                               p	 ustainability. One dialogue session alone will
across traditional lines, participants often find that    traditions and their followers. Interfaith dialogue         remarking on the long history of the Yezidi com-           not lead to the sort of individual and communal
they have developed greater sensitivity for language      can explore these teachings honestly, and consider          munity in Mesopotamia. These sorts of encounters           transformation that a series of dialogue sessions
and behaviour that are exclusionary, prejudiced or        them in light of other teachings and with respect           can go a long way towards helping communities              can have. Trust is something that is built up over
disrespectful, and so are more committed and able         to their implications in particular contexts. Use of        gain appreciation for cultural and religious diver-        time, and often the first dialogue sessions are only
to work to eradicate it in their society.                 interfaith dialogue in Israel and the OPT has helped        sity in their midst.                                       able to address surface-level issues, and avoid very
   In experiences with interfaith dialogue in Sri         participants understand how particular teachings,                                                                      sensitive and important topics. As such, dialogu-
Lanka, many participants from all communities             such as about ‘chosen people’, play out in that par-        Methodologies of successful                                ers should ideally set an expectation and commit-
have come away remarking on how they have a bet-          ticular multi-religious context, and even critically        interfaith dialogue                                        ment among participants for a series of dialogues.
ter appreciation for how other communities have           evaluate their own traditions.                              Talking about religion, particularly in environments       V
                                                                                                                                                                               p	 enue. Select a site for the dialogue that will be
suffered as a result of the conflict, as well as insti-      Moreover, interfaith dialogue can be used to find        in which religion has propelled conflict and violence,     comfortable for all participants, for example, a
tutional and social discrimination. ‘I have had very      religious corollaries to human rights. All religious        can be a very challenging and sensitive task. If con-      neutral location that is not affiliated with any
little opportunity to engage with Buddhist monks          traditions have values, philosophical and theologi-         ducted without care, interfaith dialogue can, in fact,     one religious tradition.
in my life,’ wrote one minority participant in an         cal teachings, and stories that correspond not only         worsen rather than ameliorate interfaith relations         P
                                                                                                                                                                               p	 articipants. Interfaith dialogue must engage reli-
evaluation, following a three-day interfaith dialogue     to individual human rights, such as the right to life       by bringing to the surface, but not resolving, ten-        gious leadership at the top, middle and grassroots
session in December 2009 that brought together 35         or freedom of belief, but also to the philosophical         sions between communities. Thus it is important to         levels, and must target participants other than cler-

26                 Engaging across divides: interfaith                           State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                          Engaging across divides: interfaith                   27
                       dialogue for peace and justice                              and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010                              dialogue for peace and justice
 gy or traditional religious leaders. Senior religious      dialogue can also target youth, lay people, scholars   not transform exclusionary cultures or institutions.      Conclusions
 leadership plays an important role in shaping the          or academics, staff of faith-based humanitarian        Interfaith dialogue must be appreciated as a tool         All of the world’s religions have been grappling with
 religious institutions and predominant religious           relief, development or advocacy organizations, and     for peace- and justice-making, to be used alongside       conflict, injustice and violence for millennia. Not
 narratives in a conflict zone (particularly in con-        so on.                                                 other tools in the activist’s or diplomat’s toolbox,      surprisingly, they have all sought to introduce and
 servative religious environments), and so they are       p	 reparation. In preparing for the dialogue, care-
                                                            	                                                      such as mediation, community mobilization or              sanctify practices and values that can reduce these
 important to target for greater religious institution-     fully consider who should be targeted for partici-     non-violent strategic action. When used in this           negative social dynamics. One practice, affirmed in
 al change. In addition, the senior leadership often        pation, and select a topic and structure appropri-     way, it can strengthen these sorts of initiatives. For    the teachings of many religions, is compassionate
 has greater access to political decision-makers, and       ate for that group. For example, if scholars are       example, USIP’s religious peace-making project in         engagement with those of other communities.
 so can leverage their influence to exert pressure on       engaged, the discussion content may delve into         Sri Lanka, which has engaged over 150 Buddhist,              Interfaith dialogue alone will not end conflict and
 political leaders to formulate just policies which         theological details. If young people are involved,     Muslim, Hindu and Christian leaders in local              create universal justice. However, as argued in this
 contribute to peace. However, these leaders are            the focus should perhaps be on personal spiritual      conflict analysis and peace-building, has started         chapter and as witnessed again and again around
 often more removed from grassroots communi-                experiences. It can also be helpful to conduct         using interfaith dialogue sessions as a way to build      the world, interfaith dialogue can be a powerful tool
 ties, are less willing to engage in work they suspect      separate intra-religious preparatory sessions with     relationships between the members of this network,        for relationship-building and for strengthening pro-
 may challenge their own institutions, and may not          each religious community prior to the inter-           so as to strengthen the network and ensure its sus-       social norms as a means to amplify advocacy and
 have as much time to engage personally in advo-            religious dialogue. This allows participants from      tainability when facing the inevitable hurdles that       activism. It can also be a powerful ally for nurturing
 cacy or grassroots peace-making work. As such,             each group to explore the topic to be discussed        will appear in the course of their advocacy work. It      cultural diversity and pluralism, necessary compo-
 middle-level and grassroots leadership are also            and so familiarize themselves with it, to establish    has had the added benefit of spurring project ideas       nents for securing minority rights. p
 important to target (bearing in mind that younger          places of agreement and disagreement within            by the members of this network for educating their
 or lower-level religious figures may not feel free to      their own group, and to explore concerns or            own communities on Sri Lanka’s other religious tra-
 speak openly, especially in self-critique, with senior     hopes regarding the interfaith encounter. Indeed,      ditions, combating religious bias and strengthening
 members present; however, if the senior leadership         sometimes these intra-religious encounters can be      local pluralism.
 involved is openly engaging, this will encourage           just as important as inter-religious encounters, if       Dialogue that does not lead to transformations
 others to be active). Ordained religious figures are       not more so, since members of one tradition can        beyond the dialogue room can result in resentments
 not the only persons who shape religious narrative         disagree vehemently about what their tradition         among participants, particularly those of minority
 and institutions however, and if those interested in       teaches on particular social or political issues.      or disempowered communities. For the religious,
 conducting interfaith dialogue only target clergy,       p	 ove from less sensitive to more sensitive topics.
                                                            	                                                      ethnic or linguistic majority group, the gaining of
 they will necessarily leave out important segments         One goal of interfaith dialogue is to strengthen       empathy is often a sufficient and appreciated final
 of religious communities. Women, for example,              participants’ willingness and ability to critique      goal of the dialogue sessions. Members of minorities
 may not serve as traditional ordained religious            their own religious group’s behaviour regard-          will desire more than talk, hoping that the major-
 leadership in many parts of the world, and yet             ing how it has lived up to or fallen short of          ity community will subsequently support efforts to
 they are often crucial figures shaping religious           religious values and to understand its impact on       gain greater justice for their communities. In the
 sensibilities through their active engagement in           other communities. In order to get to a place          Sri Lankan case, Tamil and Muslim minority com-
 religious communities, in religious schools and in         where such a sensitive task can be done openly,        munities often expressed more scepticism about the
 their family lives, emphasizing particular religious       however, there will need to be trust built among       long-term practical effects of individual interfaith
 narratives and values to their children. The World         participants. As such, it is best to start with less   dialogue initiatives than the Sinhala Buddhist
 Conference of Religions for Peace, based in New            controversial topics and then move to more dif-        majority community did, asking how dialogue
 York City and affiliated with the United Nations,          ficult and sensitive areas.                            would ultimately make a difference in their lived
 has a programme that specifically engages women          p	 hoose your facilitator with care. The facilitator
                                                            	                                                      reality of fear and perceived political disenfranchise-
 in interfaith dialogues. In Colombia, the Religion         plays a significant role in setting the tone, expec-   ment. At the same time, as the earlier quote from
 and Peace-making Programme of the United                   tations, process and ultimately affecting the out-     the December 2009 session in Sri Lanka reveals,
 States Institute for Peace (USIP) has worked with          come of the dialogue session. The facilitator must     minority communities expressed a great deal of
 Catholic and Protestant women who have been                be someone who is trusted by all participants,         appreciation for being able to share their views with
 energetically engaged in peace work through their          can skilfully acknowledge tensions and address         Sinhala Buddhist monks, a group with whom they
 churches, building ecumenical relationships that           difficult moments that arise, can strive to rectify    often have little meaningful contact but who are
 strengthen their work and broaden their network.           power imbalances, and can model active listening       perceived to have considerable influence on local
 Interestingly, building these ecumenical relation-         and constructive speaking.                             and national political decision-making and popular
 ships in Colombia through dialogue and joint                                                                      Sinhala sentiment. Ultimately, when one is using
 workshops has found greater success working with         The limits of interfaith dialogue                        interfaith dialogue as a tool for minority rights pro-
 female church leaders than an earlier project that       Interfaith dialogue is not a panacea for curing          tection, one must consider how to engage with the
 engaged senior, mostly male leadership. Interfaith       injustice and violent conflict. Dialogue alone can-      larger community.

28                Engaging across divides: interfaith                           State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                           Engaging across divides: interfaith                29
                      dialogue for peace and justice                              and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010                               dialogue for peace and justice
                                     hristian and Hindu minority girls in        Pakistan will not meet Goal 2 on universal access
                                     Pakistan mainly come from poor families.    to primary education. Their lower levels of literacy
                                     They struggle to afford basic provisions.   and higher rates of poverty will also affect Goal 4
                       They are forced to make difficult decisions about         on child mortality and Goal 5 on maternal health;
                       whether or not school should be a priority. Indeed,       and their continued exclusion will undermine Goal
                       the motivation for sending girls to school is low.        3 on gender equality. The MDGs are meant to
                       Girls may be vulnerable to violence or kidnapping         be achieved by 2015 – there are only five years to
                       en route to schools by those determined to intimi-        go. With the September 2010 UN MDG Summit
                       date, harm or forcibly convert religious minorities.      in sight – intended, as the UN states, to ‘boost
                       A parochial or state school may be nearby and acces-
                       sible, but even these are under threat from militant
                       local leaders seeking to close all schools except
                       madrasas (Islamic religious schools). Once in school,
                       non-Muslim girls are likely to face discrimination in         Key aims of
                       the classroom for their religious beliefs. That is, if
                       they are permitted to register at all.
                          Pakistani girls belonging to religious minorities
                                                                                     the MDGs
Religious minorities
                       have little prospects for empowerment in the long
                       term either. Pakistani constitutional provisions pro-         The Millennium Development Goals
                       hibit these girls from reaching the highest levels of         (MDGs) are a set of commitments made by
                       decision-making in government because they are not            governments at the 2000 United Nations

and the Millennium
                       Muslims; anti-blasphemy laws dissuade many of the             (UN) Millennium Summit. The collective
                       country’s non-Muslims from speaking out against               aim is to use these goals as the framework
                       government policies. Gender and religious discrimi-           for national and international development

Development Goals
                       nation will compound each other to reduce their               activities to 2015. The MDGs consist of 8
                       access to employment, limiting them to the most               goals, 21 targets and 60 indicators. The key
                       menial of jobs with the least labour rights protection.       targets include: the reduction by half of the
                       Ultimately, Pakistani girls and women belonging to            number of people living in extreme poverty
                       religious minorities are excluded at a very early age         (i.e. on less than US $1 per day); universal
                       from making a contribution to or benefiting from the          access to primary education, including for
Corinne Lennox         overall economic and cultural wealth of their country.
                          The situation of these minority girls is just one
                                                                                     girls; reduction by three-quarters of maternal
                                                                                     mortality and by two-thirds of under-5 child
                       example of the issues faced by religious minorities           mortality; a reverse in the spread of HIV/
                       and women from religious minorities worldwide.                AIDS and malaria; a reduction by half of
                       These issues should be at the top of the priority             the number of people without access to safe
                       list for all those involved in reducing poverty and           water and sanitation; and integration of sus-
                       discrimination on a national and international                tainable development principles in country
                       scale. But for people from these minorities, the              programmes.
                       Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, see Box)                     Overarching these targets is Goal 8, namely
                       are a distant unknown. What is worse is that minor-           to ‘develop a global partnership for develop-
                       ities are not mentioned in any of the 8 goals, 21 tar-        ment’, that aims to reform the international
                       gets or 60 indicators intended, among other urgent            trade and financial system. Donor countries
                       concerns, to reduce poverty and maternal mortality,           report on their contribution towards the
                       and offer universal access to primary education,              MDGs through international development
                       including for girls. Furthermore, there is no require-        cooperation, while countries in receipt
                       ment that states collect disaggregated data to meas-          of development assistance report on their
                       ure the progress (or not) of marginalized minority            domestic progress in fulfilling the MDGs in
                       groups when reporting on any of these targets.                periodic MDG Country Reports. p
                          But the stakes for countries are high. If these
                       girls do not make it through primary education,

                       State of the World’s Minorities                           Religious minorities and the                     31
                       and Indigenous Peoples 2010                               Millennium Development Goals
progress’ towards the MDGs – this is a crucial time       lence targeted against them could escalate further to     ing to access employment or secure land rights.            Religious minorities and five MDGs
to consider new approaches that will help narrow          undermine MDG achievements.                               Discrimination between sub-groups in a religion            Practices within and towards religious communities
the gap between current realities and intended               Many of the challenges faced by religious minori-      can also be harmful: among Hindus, the caste sys-          are impacting on the realization of the MDGs
outcomes. This chapter outlines some of the issues        ties in achieving the MDGs are similar to those of        tem bars many low-caste groups from employment             for many religious minorities. Key targets in five
and recommends how some of these gaps should              other marginalized minorities. Such groups tend to        or loans; inter-sect violence among some Muslims           of the MDGs will be discussed here: eradication
be addressed.                                             be under-represented in access to political participa-    threatens the security of religious minorities.            of extreme poverty; universal primary education;
   Advocates often note that in the UN Millennium         tion, which limits their ability to influence decision-      Understanding the relationship between religious        improved maternal health; reduction of child
Declaration, with which the MDGs are associated,          making on MDG policies. They face discrimination          identity and achieving MDGs is principally about           mortality; and combating HIV/AIDS. Each raises
states committed, ‘To strengthen[ing] the capac-          in access to employment, schooling, health care,          identifying discrimination, persecution and exclu-         interesting questions about religious practice
ity of all our countries to implement the principles      financial services, housing and land rights, all of       sion, but in some cases may also need to consider the      and the MDGs as well as the marginalization of
and practices of democracy and respect for human          which impact directly on the achieving of individual      religion(s) and the beliefs that attend it. The barriers   religious minorities.
rights, including minority rights.’ Operationally, this   MDGs. There is a low level of disaggregated data by       are both internal and external to the religious commu-        The examples are drawn from countries that
call has not filtered through to state practice on the    ethnicity, religion or language, making inequalities      nity, linked both to the actions within the group and      receive development assistance and are therefore
MDGs. A study presented by the UN Independent             difficult to detect and measure.                          the actions against the group by society and the state.    mandated to implement the MDGs domestically.
Expert on Minority Issues (IEMI) in 2007 showed              Religious minorities can also face particular chal-       Addressing these issues is not a question of            While there is evidence of economic and social
that of the 50 MDG Country Reports reviewed,              lenges related to the MDGs. This can stem from the        restricting religious freedom or promoting assimi-         marginalization of religious minorities in donor
only 19 discussed minorities and none did so across       religious identity per se, from its social or cultural    lation strategies but rather should be understood          countries (e.g. among some Muslim communities
the MDGs. Only four reports specifically men-             practices and tenets and/or from practices of the         within the human rights framework. Members                 in Western Europe), this will not be the primary
tioned religious minorities, and of these, only Nepal     wider society. For example, religious minorities may      of religious minority groups have human rights,            focus. Where appropriate, the role of donor coun-
and Vietnam discussed inequalities experienced by         not be territorially concentrated and would there-        including minority rights, which states are obliged        tries in integrating attention to religious minorities
religious minorities.                                     fore have weaker claims to forms of autonomy (like        to respect. Protection of these rights can help to         in MDG cooperation activities will be discussed.
   But many religious minority groups exist in a pre-     those sought by many ethnic minorities) that would        achieve the MDGs.                                          The emphasis will also be on religious minorities
carious position on the margins of society. For those     give them greater control over decisions on issues                                                                   who suffer exclusion from MDG-related sectors,
who are poor, religious persecution and discrimina-       like health, education and other budgetary alloca-        Minority exclusion and the MDGs                            like health care and employment, rather than on
tion limit their access to poverty reduction initia-      tions pertaining to the MDGs.                             Given that religious identity also frequently cor-         religious minorities who experience only restrictions
tives, employment, micro-finance, health services                                                                   responds to a distinct ethnic or linguistic identity,      on their freedom to practise their religion without
and education. For those in a better economic posi-       Minority practices and the MDGs                           it can be difficult to isolate religion as the key         corresponding social and economic exclusion.
tion, social exclusion and targeted violence neverthe-    Religious minorities may rely on support from their       variable in motivating practices of exclusion. In
less perpetuate their insecurity, can dissuade them       wider (transnational) religious communities. For          Iran, for example, communities report that they            Poverty reduction
from investing locally and threaten to push them          example, a shared religious identity can be a source      face discrimination as Sunnis, but also as Kurds,          Goal 1 includes targets to reduce by half the
further into marginalization. At all levels, religious    of social capital, enabling members to access jobs or     Turkmen and Balochis. Many religious minorities            number of people living in extreme poverty and to
minorities have less access to political opportunities    loans that are unavailable in the formal sector and       in China are also members of distinct non-Han              achieve full and productive employment and decent
to influence the MDGs due to religious-based laws         thus helping to address poverty, unemployment and         ethnic groups, such as Hui and Uighur Muslims.             work for all. For many religious minorities, econom-
(e.g. on holding political office and on blasphemy)       hunger. While this support can helpfully be directed      Many indigenous groups practise distinct religions         ic exclusion has resulted in disproportionately high
that restrict their public participation.                 towards MDG initiatives, it can generate resentment       but these practices per se are not the sole or principal   levels of poverty and unemployment. For example,
   Such persecution and discrimination against            from other poor communities who do not benefit.           reason for their marginalization. It is also important     in Nepal, poverty among Muslims is 41 per cent,
religious minorities creates conditions of injustice,     International support can also attract criticism from     to note that forms of exclusion on the basis of reli-      approximately 10 per cent higher than the average
inequality, impunity and instability that are unfa-       governments that are motivated politically to label       gion do not always translate into economic or social       rate, according to the Nepal MDGs Progress Report
vourable for achieving the MDGs, both for religious       such actions as external interference. The effect         exclusion, either because the religious minorities are     (2005). China is praised for its success in reducing
minorities and for society at large. Religious minori-    on religious minorities is increased discrimination,      economically dominant or because the restrictions          poverty and helping to reach global MDG targets.
ties can neither be full participants in, nor genera-     despite the immediate benefits such co-religionist        are focused on freedoms to express religious identity      In fact, MRG and US-based NGO Human Rights
tors of economic growth if they are marginalized          support can bring towards meeting the MDGs.               and other civil or political rights. There is no ques-     in China (HRiC) have reported that those from eth-
or insecure. Without better attention being paid to          Within the religious minority community,               tion, however, that many religious minorities experi-      nic minority regions (populated by several religious
the particular exclusion of religious minorities, some    certain practices and beliefs can undermine the           ence inequalities in development, and that even civil      minority groups) have seen average incomes increase
of the MDGs will not be met. In order to improve          MDGs. In some religions, beliefs about the status         and political rights restrictions can affect prospects     only from 845 yuan in 1982 to 7,802 yuan in 2000,
low achievements in education, health and poverty,        of women may hinder their ability to own land or          for economic and social inclusion. This is particular-     in comparison with a nationwide increase in average
there must be engagement with religious minorities        seek employment outside the family, thus increasing       ly evident in regions where religious intolerance has      income from 792 yuan to 9,371 yuan; the disparity
who score lowest on these indicators. If neglected        the incidence of poverty. Because of their religious      manifested itself as violence against religious minori-    holds for both urban and rural incomes. Advocates,
in MDG policies, excluded religious minorities will       identity, such women are also likely to face dis-         ties, creating conflict situations in which realization    including HRiC, warn that such inequalities are a
likely face even greater inequality. If ignored, vio-     crimination by the wider community when attempt-          of the MDGs is virtually impossible.                       source of inter-communal tension. Their concerns

32                      Religious minorities and the                            State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                            Religious minorities and the                       33
                    Millennium Development Goals                                  and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010                                Millennium Development Goals
proved valid in Urumqi, Xinjiang province, in July       Right: Bilingual literacy class for Lacandon children
2009, when riots broke out between Uighurs and           in Chiapas, Mexico. Julio Etchart
Han, resulting in at least 156 deaths. The grievances
were rooted at least in part in government policy        – is a major contributor to low-MDG attainment
that is encouraging Han migration to an already          in minority regions. This has been a problem in
poor region, increasing discrimination in access to      Iran, where the natural resource-rich regions of
jobs for local minority Muslim Uighurs.                  Balochistan and Khuzestan have seen resources
   Discrimination in access to employment is com-        extracted while the local population – Sunni
mon for many religious minorities and exclusion          Balochis and Ahwazi Arabs (some of whom are
from the formal labour market is a major cause of        Sunni) – continue to experience disproportionately
higher poverty. State requirements that identity         low levels of human development. In the words of
cards denote religion often enable such discrimina-      one Baloch activist speaking at the UN Forum on
tion. The case of Baha’is in Iran is a testimony to      Minority Issues in 2009, such, ‘systematic, historic
this. In January 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur         and institutionalized inequity and blatant bias
on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir,         have in effect paralysed the Baloch people in mak-
relayed reports from Turkmenistan and Bangladesh         ing meaningful public participation, in access to
that religious minorities faced serious barriers to      employment, education, health, property ownership,
employment in public institutions.                       housing, social welfare, media and cultural life’.
   Religious minorities may have less access to jus-        Tensions also arise between religious minorities
tice, making it more difficult to protect themselves     and majorities where national government MDG-
against unfair job dismissals or attacks on their        related policies on poverty and employment are
property or businesses. In Bangladesh, human rights      promoting migration to minority regions. In the
NGO Odikhar has documented numerous cases                Philippines, Christian group migration to the largely
where Hindus have faced indiscriminate (and some-        Muslim Mindanao region has led to resentment             term but will do so at the cost of the cultural and        Available figures show that persons belonging
times violent) seizures of their property with little    among Muslims, who see this migration not only           religious identity of Tibetans.                         to religious minorities can often have lower levels
protection from the police and with the complicity       as an economic threat but also as a threat to their         Also crucial for some religious minorities           of literacy and education, as well as experience less
of the government. Land rights can be very insecure      religious and cultural identity. In China, Tibetan       is the prevalence of violence against them. In          investment in schools where they predominantly
for religious minorities; they may easily be displaced   Buddhist communities have faced a large influx of        Laos, Hmong (predominantly Christian) have              live. In India, Muslim children aged 6–13 years
from their land or be reluctant to invest in agricul-    Han majority migrants to the Tibet Autonomous            experienced long-standing persecution. Many have        have 74.6 per cent literacy while Hindus in the same
tural production on land to which they do not hold       Region (TAR), following major government invest-         sought refuge in neighboring Thailand, where the        age group achieve 90.2 per cent literacy, the Sachar
formal legal title. Moreover, national laws may not      ment in the region. While overall development            government is now forcibly returning Hmong              Report says. Likewise, Hindus in Pakistan have a 12
recognize traditional forms of land tenure, further      rates have improved, the benefits are not distributed    asylum-seekers to Laos, despite strong evidence         per cent lower probability of attending school than
reducing land security.                                  fairly. Due to Mandarin language restrictions for        that returnees are detained or tortured by security     Muslims, the Oxford Policy Management Group has
   Religious minorities can also experience weaker       public sector employment, lower levels of educa-         forces. In Iran, Baha’is are the target of arbitrary    found. In Southern Sudan, which is populated by
access to credit and financial services. Indian          tion of Tibetans and discrimination against them,        arrest, imprisonment and confiscation of property,      numerous ethnic groups of predominantly Christian
Muslims have lower than average access to bank           fewer jobs go to Tibetans than to Han migrants,          and are frequently denied access to employment          faith (in contrast to the largely Muslim north), the
credit, which is particularly worrying given that        the latter decreasing the proportionate share of         and education. Living under threat of insecurity        2004 MDG Country Report reveals that the ‘net
Muslims rely disproportionately on self-employment       employment for Tibetans. Tibet lags well behind          and violence undermines the ability of families         enrolment ratio (20 per cent) and its ratio of female
for their livelihood, according to the 2006 Sachar       every other region on key health indicators like         to pursue livelihoods and education, to invest in       to male enrolment (35 per cent) are the worst in the
Report (named after Justice Rajinder Sachar, who         child inoculation (69.3 per cent in Tibet compared       small businesses and to access basic public services,   world’, and ‘South Sudan’s adult literacy rate is the
chaired the committee that drafted it).                  to a national average of 94.6 per cent) and hospital-    increasing rates of poverty and mortality that the      second lowest rate in the world, after Niger’. Lower
   Another major cause of poverty among religious        ized deliveries (less than 40 per cent in Tibet versus   MDGs aim to reduce.                                     levels of education among religious minorities also
minorities is the level of government investment         an 88.4 per cent national average), according to a                                                               inhibit access to other rights, such as employment
in the regions where they live. Such investment is       UN Development Programme (UNDP) report on                Universal primary education and girls                   and political participation, and their ability to con-
either too low to guarantee basic human develop-         China, suggesting that investment benefits have          Two MDG targets relate to education – the first is      tribute to general social and economic development.
ment provisions or is of an extractive nature, i.e.      been focused on Lhasa where the 6 per cent Han           to achieve universal access to primary education for       Education systems can also be used by the state
intended to take resources out of the region without     population (2000 figures) is concentrated. Activists     all girls and boys (Target 2a), and the second is to    to assimilate religious minority children. Curricula
returning proportionate funding to local develop-        argue that the government is creating conditions         achieve gender equality in access to primary and sec-   may be imbued with the doctrine of dominant reli-
ment. Chronic under-investment in infrastructure         that principally benefit Han Chinese and those who       ondary education (Target 3a). Religious minorities      gions and cultures, and may even denigrate religious
– from market routes to schools and health clinics       assimilate, which may reduce poverty in the long-        can face barriers in both cases.                        minorities through the perpetuation of stereotypes

34                      Religious minorities and the                          State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                         Religious minorities and the                       35
                    Millennium Development Goals                                and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010                             Millennium Development Goals
and negative narratives. State curricula can be used         Right: Rohingya refugee women in the Kutupalong
as a vehicle for persecution of religious minorities.        camp await medical treatment, Cox’s Bazaar,
These have been major concerns for Baha’is in Iran,          Bangladesh, July 2009. Espen Rasmussen/Panos.
who report that school curricula are being used to
denigrate their faith and to pressurize students to          issue is not solely a matter for the religious com-
convert to Islam. Furthermore, Baha’i students are           munity, and the public education system must be
regularly expelled from school and denied access to          engaged. For example, discrimination against girls
higher education because of their religion, the NGO          in schools may decrease the willingness of parents to
Baha’i International Community has reported.                 enrol their children in the formal education system.
   Mucha Shim Quiling Arquiza, a Filipino activist           In Kenya, MRG has reported that the marginali-
from the Muslim minority community, expressed                zation of Muslim girls from formal education is
her concern at the 2008 UN Forum on Minority                 being addressed in cooperation with the Mombasa
Issues that:                                                 Regional Women’s Assembly. Amina Zuberi,
                                                             District Convenor of the Assembly, has said that
‘In the desire to combat terrorism and implement             they are working with key leaders of the Muslim
counter-terrorism measures, [states] have been unwit-        community to show how improving education of
tingly using social institutions such as education, the      girls can decrease poverty rates of entire families.
media and institutions of scholarship to promote a cer-         Faith-based schools should not be relied on as a
tain political agenda especially to influence its citizens   replacement for state failures to ensure that religious
to support its current national security campaigns that      minorities will achieve Goal 2 by 2015 but can
have been especially discriminatory to religious and         be integrated into a wider state strategy to achieve
ethnic minorities.’                                          universal primary education. Parents and leaders in
                                                             faith communities can be invited to participate in
In contrast, faith-based schools of many religious           decision-making about the provision of education,         reproductive health. The targets for child mortality     putting families into precarious positions for sur-
minorities are contributing to the realization of uni-       to ensure that discrimination on the part of teach-       aim for a two-thirds reduction in under-5s mortal-       vival. Although it is possible that China and Burma,
versal primary education within these communities.           ers or students, or in the curricula, is tackled at the   ity. The MDGs are closely intertwined, with mater-       for example, could achieve their MDG targets while
Such institutions provide a vital alternative to poorly      same time that positive messages about religious          nal health contributing significantly to prospects for   ignoring the situation of religious minorities, such
resourced public education systems, especially where         diversity are integrated into schooling.                  children’s health, and access to reproductive health     an approach is not only a violation of human rights
religious minority children face discrimination in the          It is vital that the curricula taught in faith-based   care services helping to ensure that pregnancies are     but will entrench gross inequalities more deeply.
‘mainstream’ classroom. The right to have faith-based        schools and state schools comply with international       wanted and healthy for both mother and child.               The link between religious practices and maternal
schools is protected for religious minorities under          human rights standards as elaborated, inter alia, in         Many marginalized religious minorities face high-     and child mortality is not well researched. In some
international human rights law, which recognizes the         the CRC. The CRC requires that the state shall            er disparities in maternal and child mortality. This     religious communities, beliefs about child marriage
rights of all parents to educate their children in this      ensure that education of children is directed to, inter   is largely due to a lower provision of health care and   or reproductive health could undermine MDG pro-
manner. Article 18(4) of the International Covenant          alia: the child’s ‘own cultural identity, language and    sanitation services, and less adequate access to food    grammes aiming to reduce mortality rates. Religious
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) holds that             values … [to] the national values of the country in       in areas where religious minorities predominantly        identity alone is difficult to isolate as a variable and
state parties should, ‘undertake to have respect for the     which the child is living, the country from which he      live. It can also be affected by discrimination and      factors such as urban or rural location and gender
liberty of parents … to ensure the religious and moral       or she may originate, and … [to] civilizations dif-       lack of awareness among health officials of cultural     discrimination will also impact. The 2006 Sachar
education of their children in conformity with their         ferent from his or her own’ (Article 29.1 (c)); and       practices that may impact on pregnancies and chil-       Report on the status of Indian Muslims found that
own convictions’. Article 29(2) of the Convention on         to ‘preparation of the child for responsible life in a    dren’s health. In China, national child mortality        Muslim women and children in many states had
the Rights of the Child (CRC) recognizes the right           free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace,      and maternal mortality rates stood in 2000 at 39.7       lower than average mortality rates, despite poor
of groups to ‘establish and direct educational institu-      tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among        deaths per 1,000 and 53 per 100,000 respectively;        access to health care. Another 2006 study (presented
tions’. Not all states are doing enough to protect           all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups        in contrast, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous           at Princeton University) of religious minorities and
these rights for religious minorities.                       and persons of indigenous origin’ (Article 29.1 (d)).     Region (XUAR) of China, child mortality and              majorities across India and Bangladesh found that
   Religious preferences for the education of girls,         Putting in place such measures can reduce discrimi-       maternal mortality rates in 2000 were 65.4 per 1,000     contraceptive use among currently married Muslim
and sometimes boys, can inhibit their access to              nation and help to improve enrolment rates towards        and 161.4 per 100,000, MRG has noted. In the             (religious minority) women in India is 28 per cent
education. Faith-based schools that give less prior-         Goals 2 and 3.                                            border regions of Burma, where Rohingya Muslims          compared to 42 per cent among Muslim (religious
ity to the education of girls, for example, would be                                                                   live, more than 60 per cent of Rohingya children         majority) women in Bangladesh. These figures sug-
working against Target 3a on gender parity. There            Maternal health and child mortality levels                suffer from chronic malnutrition, despite reports        gest that access to reproductive health may be less
is a tendency, however, to make blanket assump-              The MDGs set targets to reduce by three-quarters          of a national surplus of rice. State actions have        about religious preferences and more about equal
tions that only the religion per se is to blame. The         maternal mortality and to achieve universal access to     rendered these communities effectively stateless,        access to health services in general, particularly

36                        Religious minorities and the                             State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                          Religious minorities and the                         37
                      Millennium Development Goals                                   and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010                              Millennium Development Goals
where they are not culturally adapted on key issues       were the basis of the campaign message. In other         dedicated a 2009 section of her UN report to a pre-      involved in MDG work needs to be strengthened to
such as reproductive health.                              words, in order to reach minority groups, particular     liminary review of some economic and social rights       meet these objectives.
   The issue of reproductive health has generated         attention in HIV/AIDS education must be paid to          issues faced by religious minorities. This research         Given that discrimination is a key barrier in
controversies among leaders of some faith com-            religious and cultural practices around, inter alia,     appears to be the start of a wider effort under the      achieving the MDGs for religious minorities, efforts
munities. Advocates of family planning sought to          sex and contraception.                                   mandate to examine MDG-related issues. Indeed,           by governments and development organizations to
ensure that the MDGs would focus on the repro-               This can be challenging for some religious            the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) endorsed               prevent such discrimination need to be prioritized.
ductive health rights of women. For some faith            minority groups that may hold dogmatic beliefs           this effort by adopting a resolution (10/25) in 2009     Religion is a prohibited ground of discrimination
communities, the term ‘reproductive rights’ is inter-     regarding sex (especially outside of marriage), con-     on ‘Discrimination based on religion or belief and       under the International Covenant on Economic,
preted to include access to abortion or contraceptive     traception, homosexuality or men who have sex            its impact on the enjoyment of economic, social and      Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), impacting on
services, which are against firmly held beliefs. In the   with men. MDG programme efforts must take this           cultural rights’.                                        several MDG issues such as health (including repro-
adoption of the MDGs in 2000, there was no tar-           into account when devising interventions that will          Governments need to create the necessary              ductive health) (Article 10), education (Article 13)
get on reproductive health, due to objections from        contribute to HIV/AIDS reduction among these             enabling environment, whereby all citizens can           and employment (Article 7). State parties have an
some states, observers (e.g. the Holy See) and some       communities, who, regardless of their religious          achieve the MDGs. This means eliminating forms           obligation to revise their domestic legal frameworks
segments of civil society. Since then, efforts by the     beliefs, may still be vulnerable. Some faith groups      of religious persecution, harassment, violence and       to ensure that discrimination on the basis of religion
UN Secretary-General, UN agencies including the           have produced guides for religious leaders on how to     discrimination that generate instability and conflict.   is clearly prohibited and that remedies to redress
UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM),                   discuss these issues. The UN Joint Programme on          Strengthened rule of law, impartial policing and         discrimination are easily accessible to religious
the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and many                   HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has reported that the Islamic          greater freedom of expression are integral to devel-     minorities. They also have an obligation to ensure
civil society advocates have introduced an MDG            Medical Association of Uganda, for example, has          opment and will establish stronger investment con-       substantive realization of non-discrimination, even
target for reproductive health. Although the target       successfully cooperated with imams in reaching out       fidence and opportunities in the local and national      where legal frameworks are good. Unfortunately,
does not mention abortion or contraception per se,        to Muslim communities with education projects on         economy. With their personal security protected,         some states have promulgated laws and policies that
it is nevertheless viewed by some faith groups as         HIV/AIDS prevention and services.                        and their jobs, businesses, homes and land more          adversely affect the ability of religious minorities to
illegitimate. UN agencies, including UNFPA, are                                                                    secure, religious minorities will be better able to      achieve the MDGs: laws pertaining to blasphemy
proceeding on the basis that access to contraception      Recommendations for a minority                           focus on building prosperity for their families and      can inhibit the ability of minorities to challenge
and reduction in unsafe abortions are among the           rights response to the MDGs                              for the wider community without fear.                    government policies on development; requirements
strategies needed to achieve the MDGs.                    With the September 2010 UN Summit to review                 Another important starting point for better           for religious education in schools can dissuade
                                                          progress towards the MDGs in sight, this is a crucial    attention to religious minority exclusion is system-     minority parents from enrolling their children; and
HIV/AIDS                                                  time to adopt new approaches that will help nar-         atic analysis of the economic, social and political      prohibitions on religious dress can deny minorities
A halt and reversal in the spread of HIV/AIDS and         row the gap between current realities and intended       status of these communities in key aid modali-           education and employment opportunities. Such
malaria are among the targets of Goal 6. There is         outcomes. Indeed, the MDG framework has much             ties. National action plans for poverty reduction        policies may be based on deeply entrenched beliefs
evidence that minority groups are often dispropor-        to offer marginalized religious minorities. If govern-   and education for all, for example, should include       and backed by powerful interests. Here the role of
tionately affected by rates of HIV/AIDS and have          ments are genuinely committed to universal primary       measures for inclusion of religious minorities.          international development organizations in calling
less access to health services to address the disease.    education, the inequalities in access to education       Ministries with MDG-related responsibilities, such       for national counterparts to pay attention to exclu-
The delivery of health services may be under-             experienced by many minorities can be eliminated.        as on health, education, employment, justice and         sion and discrimination against religious minorities
resourced in regions where religious minorities live.     Their lower access to health care, housing and           environment, should be offered capacity-building         may help to tip the balance in favour of reforms.
Religious minorities may also face discrimination         employment can be improved. Such gains will not          to combat discrimination against religious minori-       Beyond the clear human rights obligations, there is
from health service professionals when they seek          come easily. Addressing the marginalization of           ties and improve operational knowledge of how            also a compelling economic argument to be made:
out services. Traditional medicinal practices and         minority groups means exposing deeply entrenched         each sector can increase minority inclusion. Poverty     protection of religious minorities in law and in fact
remedies, common particularly in animistic religious      discrimination and transforming structures of power      Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and the UN             improves stability and creates a better environment
groups, can also impact – positively or negatively        built to exclude minorities.                             Country Teams’ Common Country Assessments                for investment and growth.
– on treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other                In policy spheres, there has been little in the way   and UN Development Assistance Frameworks need               Discrimination – both direct and indirect – can
diseases. The lack of knowledge of these practices        of systematic analysis of minority group exclusion       to review the situation of religious minorities and      be monitored through the collection of data disag-
among mainstream health care providers can inhibit        from the MDGs and even less attention specifi-           integrate programme responses where marginaliza-         gregated by religious identity (and gender). The
the successful use of complementary and conven-           cally given to religious minorities. The work of         tion is evident.                                         2010 MDG Summit can recommend that national
tional medicine.                                          the IEMI and MRG is an exception. Research on               Three rights of minorities should inform MDG          statistics offices take the lead in developing systems
   Research by the Bangkok office of the UN               religious minorities focuses overwhelmingly on civil     policies aimed at including religious minorities: the    to gather information to supplement the existing
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization         and political rights violations linked to restrictions   right to non-discrimination, the right to participa-     60 indicators for the MDGs. Impact assessments of
(UNESCO) into HIV/AIDS public education pro-              on freedom of religion; the social and economic          tion and the right to protection of (religious) iden-    MDGs programmes should be adopted as manda-
grammes in the Mekong Delta region found that             dimensions of exclusion are insufficiently publi-        tity. These should be mainstreamed into a broader        tory for determining in advance how interventions
materials did not impact well on minorities, where        cized. In her most recent report, however, the UN        human rights-based approach to the MDGs. The             might help or harm religious minorities. Even where
the social and cultural practices of dominant groups      Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief      capacity of both minorities and majority groups          resources are limited, governments can develop

38                       Religious minorities and the                           State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                          Religious minorities and the                        39
                     Millennium Development Goals                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010                              Millennium Development Goals
periodic surveys that will review key indicators of       effective for religious minority groups and will not      the basis of religious identity can severely threaten      has successfully supported community health clinics
religious minorities’ status in relation to the MDGs.     create further inequalities unintentionally that might    the ability of individuals to live their lives in secu-    to improve child and maternal mortality rates, and
Some religious minorities may have concerns about         undermine MDG objectives. Speaking at the UN              rity and freedom. Getting a job, running a small           HIV/AIDS testing and counselling. These posi-
data collection and self-identification if they have      Forum on Minority Issues in 2009, Wahyu Effendy           business, going to school and getting basic public         tive actions do not eliminate concerns that some
been targets of violence or discrimination in the         of the Indonesian Anti-Discrimination Movement            services can all be undermined when expression             development initiatives by faith-based actors can be
past. For this reason, religious minority staff should    (GANDI), said, ‘Political participation [of religious     of religious identity becomes a cause of insecurity.       a tool for co-opting vulnerable communities to new
be involved in all stages of this data collection proc-   minorities] needs as a precondition government pro-       Governments should show leadership in: promul-             or more extreme religious doctrine. Such practices
ess, from designing and delivering surveys, to evalu-     tection of their existence and participation.’            gating zero tolerance of religious intolerance in the      can be avoided by transparent cooperation with gov-
ating results.                                               There is a wide range of options for realizing the     public and private sectors; redressing impunity for        ernment at all levels to enable religious minorities
   Tackling inequalities created by discrimination        right to participation in practice. At a minimum,         violence against religious minorities; and increasing      to participate in decision-making that affects them
may require targeted MDG programmes for minori-           public education on the MDGs should be made               efforts to protect religious minorities from violent       and equitably access resources for human develop-
ties. Policy-makers often express concerns that           available to religious minorities, and they should        attacks and other forms of injustice.                      ment. Leaders of all the major world religions have
targeted programmes can create inter-communal             be included among any civil society consultations            MDG programmes that do not give due assess-             shown a great commitment to the MDGs, and this
tension, particularly where poverty and other forms       on the MDGs, particularly in regions where such           ment to the influence of religious identity and prac-      outreach can be a platform for dialogue on conten-
of inequality also exist among members of dominant        minorities live. Any existing National Minority           tices on realizing the goals can be wasting (already       tious issues.
groups. This is a legitimate concern, but it must not     Councils should be invited by relevant ministries to      limited) resources. Development interventions that
be used as a veto for targeted interventions where        engage in MDG-related development planning. In            appear identity-neutral can either miss religious          Conclusions
they are justified by data showing disproportion-         India, for example, the National Commission for           minorities or harm them. Using mechanisms of               MDG Country Reports urgently need to be revised
ate inequality, are transparent and are supported         Minorities has intervened in several cases to secure      participation, religious minorities can inform policy-     to incorporate discussion of the legal framework for
by consultations with minority groups. There is           protection for religious minorities’ educational insti-   makers of how identity issues may impede their             protection of religious minorities and national meas-
a strong legal basis for such programmes in inter-        tutions guaranteed by the Constitution, thus help-        ability to benefit from MDG projects and can offer         ures to ensure that religious minorities are benefit-
national law, which recognizes the possibility of         ing to secure Goal 2 and contribute to Goal 1.            recommendations on how to make MDG interven-               ing equally from progress towards the MDGs. The
special measures like affirmative action programmes.         Forms of autonomy for religious minority groups        tions more compatible with their own daily needs.          silence on these points in MDG Country Reports to
Such measures will help to tackle the barriers that       can also be helpful for the MDGs. In many coun-              While some religious practices and beliefs, such        date is chronic. The collection of disaggregated data
religious minorities face in equal access to health,      tries, minority groups have been granted autonomy         as giving to the poor or enabling literacy, can help       for religious (and other) minorities needs to be pri-
education, employment and financial services that         over sectors that impact directly on the MDGs.            realize the MDGs, there are other religious practices      oritized by international and national development
are linked directly to MDG achievement. There are         Non-territorial forms of autonomy, such as support        and beliefs that can undermine them. MDG policy-           actors alike. Opportunities for religious minority
also firm commitments made by states in the con-          for the development of school curricula on issues of      makers need to be sensitive to these possibilities and     actors to influence and implement MDG-related
text of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism          religious diversity or management of micro-finance        reach out to faith groups in an effort to ensure that      initiatives should be implemented.
Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to             institutions, can be devised in line with MDG pro-        human rights obligations are not violated in the              There is great scope to use the minority rights
adopt National Action Plans in order to address rac-      gramming. Territorial forms of autonomy, where            name of religious dogma. At the same time, individ-        framework to improve the effectiveness of MDG
ism and discrimination. The adoption of affirmative       religious minorities are regionally concentrated, can     ual negative practices within religious communities        policy interventions. This is not only good practice
action or targeted policies must be accompanied           enable even greater empowerment for minorities to         must not be used as justification for any outright         and fiscally responsible but is also a fulfilment of
by full implementation. In Greece, for example,           deliver on the MDGs. In China, the 1984 Law on            prohibition of religious expression.                       state obligations under international human rights
the government has approved a 0.5 per cent quota          Regional Ethnic Autonomy includes, since 2005,               It is important to mention the positive role            and minority rights standards.
for Muslim minorities in the civil service, but poor      stronger provisions enabling poverty reduction,           played by faith groups in supporting the MDGs.                If religious minorities are excluded from the
implementation means it has had little impact on          access to education and sustainable development           There have been several interfaith initiatives to          MDGs, not only will the purpose of the goals be
the unemployment rates of Muslims – estimated             for ethno-religious minorities, such as the Uighur        raise awareness of the MDGs and direct action by           undermined, but the conditions for their long-term
to be as high as 60 per cent in Western Thrace,           Muslims, MRG has reported. Such support of ter-           faith communities to help realize the goals through        sustainability will seriously be in doubt. Investing in
according to a 2009 report from the European              ritorial or non-territorial autonomy can help to          community cooperation initiatives and advocacy.            the human capital within religious minority com-
Commission Against Racism and Intolerance                 achieve the MDGs, provided it is implemented in           Religions for Peace, the largest interfaith global alli-   munities and ending persecution and discrimination
(ECRI).                                                   good faith and its impact is monitored with data          ance, has produced a Millennium Development Goals          on the basis of religion will contribute to better
   The right of minorities to participate in decision-    disaggregated by (religious) identity and made pub-       Toolkit for Religious Leaders (2007), in cooperation       development for all. p
making that affects them is a cornerstone of minor-       licly available, inter alia, in MDG Country Reports.      with the UN Millennium Campaign. The Micah
ity rights standards. Participation of ‘stakeholders’     Building capacity and opportunities for religious         Challenge is an international North–South alliance
is increasingly mainstreamed into development             minorities to manage MDG initiatives will also            of Christian churches and agencies in 40 countries
processes, but it is far less common to find meas-        increase participation. Training on budget monitor-       advocating greater government compliance with
ures that enable minorities, including religious          ing is one example.                                       the MDGs. Faith-based development organizations
minorities, to be included in such processes. This is        The protection of identity is a crucial concern in     have also been leaders in realizing the MDGs. In
essential to ensure that MDG programmes will be           the daily lives of religious minorities. Persecution on   Tanzania, for example, the Aga Khan Foundation

40                      Religious minorities and the                            State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                            Religious minorities and the                        41
                    Millennium Development Goals                                  and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010                                Millennium Development Goals
                                      ow well a country responds to the needs       into mainstream society, as well as in ensuring that
                                      of its religious minorities is an import-     women from religious minorities are treated fairly.
                                      ant question for states, not least because    The details will be different in different places, and
                         while the right to religious freedoms is enshrined         the experiences of religious minorities as well as dif-
                         in international law, the ability to access this right     ferent countries will also vary, of course. But one
                         depends on the national laws one is governed by.           of the fundamental questions at stake will be the
                            Sometimes the perceived importance of ensuring          same: can women’s rights be balanced with religious
                         religious freedom is so strong it can overshadow           freedom?
                         the need to preserve other rights. For many women             This chapter focuses on the experiences of
                         from religious minorities around the world, this           Muslim women in the UK and Canada, in order
                         has been a rather common experience. Rina Verma            to explore some of the issues. In the last few years,
                         Williams has discussed, for example, how the               both countries have been grappling with the
                         debates over reforming Islamic law in India in the         question of whether and how Sharia courts can be
                         1980s were framed as being about religious iden-           incorporated into the laws of the land by focusing
                         tity and minority rights to the exclusion of gender        on what this would mean for Muslim women. The
                         rights, even by the Indian government. The con-            chapter begins by examining some of the challenges
                         sequence of this, she argues, is that the legislation      faced by Muslim women living in the UK, in

Balancing women’s
                         that was passed has not benefited Indian Muslim            order to explain why some Muslim women may
                         women. In cases such as these, where the price of          want to use non-mainstream legal options – what
                         religious freedom is that half the minority popula-        I call parallel options – such as Sharia courts to
                         tion lose out on other rights, can countries be said       resolve their concerns. The chapter then goes on to

rights with freedom
                         to be delivering religious freedom with any success?       outline some of the pitfalls of these parallel options,
                            Such sacrifices of gender rights are a not infre-       drawing on the arguments of those Muslim women
                         quent occurrence in efforts to preserve religious          who organized against the introduction of Sharia

of religion: the case
                         freedom. Therefore, it is useful to examine the            laws in Canada. It finds that parallel options can
                         experiences of women from religious minorities as a        present a false solution to women from religious
                         way of assessing how well countries are responding         minorities, asking them to trade gender rights for
                         to the needs of their religious minorities. Using          religious freedom.

against parallel legal
                         women’s rights as a baseline indicator helps us judge         The chapter concludes that allowing such
                         whether countries are able to provide for the needs        systems to operate risks excusing the state from
                         of religious minorities at a sophisticated enough          its responsibilities to protect Muslim women’s
                         level that women from religious minorities benefit         rights. It suggests that the best way to prevent the

systems for Muslim
                         equally – as both belonging to religious minorities        marginalization of religious minorities is to ensure
                         and as women.                                              that they have access to the same rights, as well as
                            Western Europe and Canada have witnessed sev-           the same access to negotiating those rights, as those
                         eral controversies concerning this balance between         in the mainstream.

women in the UK
                         women’s rights and the rights of religious minorities
                         in recent years. Some of the most heated and high-         Muslim women in the UK
                         profile of these debates have been about Muslim            Muslim women living in industrialized countries
                         women generally, and ‘the veil’ in particular. Such        are at risk of what is known as ‘multiple discrimina-
                         a debate has been ongoing in France, for example,          tion’, because they are women, and belong to reli-

Zohra Moosa
                         since June 2009, when the government said it               gious minorities and often also ethnic minorities. In
                         would consider banning burqas. At the beginning of         addition to the risk of discrimination on each issue
                         2010 the leader of the ruling party filed draft legisla-   separately, they are also open to discrimination from
                         tion banning garments that cover faces in public –         all of them at the same time. Muslim women can
                         referred to as an ‘anti-burqa law’ in coverage of the      also experience discrimination that includes more
                         story in the mainstream British press.                     than one of their identities in ways that produce an
                            Looking at how certain industrialized countries         entirely new form of discrimination. The French
                         treat Muslim women can reveal some of the chal-            example above would affect Muslim women who
                         lenges states face in integrating religious minorities     wear full-face veils as Muslims and as women, for

                         State of the World’s Minorities                            Balancing women’s rights                            43
                         and Indigenous Peoples 2010                                with freedom of religion
instance, and would also be particular to them – the   Right: A young woman receives counselling at the
same legislation would not affect anyone else in       Islamic Sharia Council in Leyton, England, July
society in the same way.                               2009. Tom Pilston/Panos.
   As a result of their multiple minority status,
Muslim women within Britain experience some of         of ‘Muslimness’ by policy-makers, the media and
the most extreme forms of disadvantage and social      public opinion. One result of this is that the main-
exclusion. According to a report called Black and      stream only hears about violence against Muslim
Minority Ethnic Women in the UK, published in          women that can be associated with being Muslim,
2005 by the UK-based campaigning organization          such as forced marriages and so-called ‘honour
the Fawcett Society, two-thirds of Pakistani and       crimes’. Another result is that public discourse
Bangladeshi women, approximately 60 per cent           on these forms of violence blames and demon-
of whom are Muslim, live in poverty; this is three     izes Muslim communities, suggesting that Muslim
times the proportion of Caucasian women. Muslim        women are at risk of these forms of violence because
women are under-represented in elected office at       of ‘backward cultures’.
all levels of government. For example, there had          In this way, certain types of violence against
never been a Muslim woman Member of Parliament         Muslim women are treated as having to do with
until two were elected in 2010. Muslims are the        belonging to a religious minority, masking the role
faith group most likely to be out of the paid labour   of sexism and patriarchy in such violence – in effect
market, while Muslim women are particularly likely     incorrectly diagnosing the problem. As the Fawcett
to be outside it; according to the latest government   Society’s 2010 report Realising Rights: Increasing
statistics, about two-thirds of Muslim women are       Ethnic Minority Women’s Access to Justice notes,
currently not in the paid labour force compared        when politicians also fall into this trap of primar-
to a quarter of women overall. Meanwhile, the          ily blaming ‘culture’ for violence against Muslim
unemployment rate for Muslim women is 23.3             women, they ignore the ways in which they are            animal slaughter, for example, and the Treasury has       public discourse seems to suggest that Britain is
per cent compared to 6.9 per cent for all women.       failing to protect a group of their citizens by, for     approved financial products such as mortgages that        either mostly secular, or, if not, Christian, and per-
And there is ample evidence to show that women         example, ensuring that the police treat all victims      are Sharia-compliant. More controversially, Muslims       haps even hostile to Islam, it is not unreasonable for
experience a marked ‘Muslim penalty’ in the labour     and potential victims fairly. As a result, Muslim        are also allowed to use Sharia courts for media-          Muslims to reflect on their options for maintaining
market that becomes more pronounced the more           women remain at risk of those kinds of violence          tion and arbitration purposes under existing British      strong ties to their religion and beliefs as minorities.
‘Muslim’ they appear to be, for instance, through      that are painted as ‘cultural’, and are encouraged to    law. Under the Arbitration Act 1996, for example,            Research has found that it is these two needs that
their dress choices. Evidence includes the two-        believe that the government and the British legal        Sharia courts have the power to resolve civil disputes    motivate Muslim women to use informal Sharia
year Moving on Up? investigation by the Equal          system will not or cannot help them.                     between Muslims. Although the National Secular            courts for arbitration in the UK. According to the
Opportunities Commission, a statutory body, and                                                                 Society (NSS) argues that these powers are not per-       BBC, in February 2008, the overwhelming majority
the Young Foundation’s independent research            The appeal of parallel options                           mitted to extend to areas of family law, there have       of cases that the Islamic Sharia Council (ISC) deals
findings, published in 2008 as the Valuing Family,     It is not uncommon for countries to provide differ-      been reports in the British press that Sharia courts      with are about divorce, generally filed by women
Valuing Work report.                                   ent legal routes for different groups of people within   have been issuing rulings on divorce that are being       looking to leave their marriages. Many of these
   Muslim women are also at risk of very specific      the same country. Such parallel options exist to         enforced under UK law. According to the NSS,              women have reportedly either been forced into mar-
kinds of violence and marginalization because          ensure that minorities, such as religious minorities,    women who do not know their rights may similarly          riage, or else are stuck in a marriage because their
of racism and Islamophobia in the UK. Muslim           are fully able to practise their religions or other      believe that the rulings, which are not necessarily       husbands are not willing to divorce them under
women are currently particularly vulnerable to         cultural norms and to avoid imposing majority laws       regulated once both parties have agreed to be subject     Islamic law, the BBC stated.
abuse, persecution and discrimination in the public    that would directly or indirectly discriminate against   to them, are legally binding and may therefore be            In a 2001 empirical study of all the matrimonial
arena because of wider security and political agen-    them. The range and types of parallel options can        operating as though they are in their day-to-day lives.   cases conducted by the Muslim Law Sharia Council
das related to the ‘war on terror’ (see the chapter    vary enormously in different contexts. Some coun-            Where Muslim women are facing extreme dis-            (MLSC) in London, Sonia Nurin Shah-Kazemi
‘Religious minorities in a post-9/11 world’), as       tries have very separate systems of family law for       advantage, discrimination and marginalization in          found that out of just over 300 cases, there were 28
the book Muslims in the UK: Policies for Engaged       example, while others have supplementary systems         the UK, it is entirely practical for them to seek a       forced marriages and a number of marriages that
Citizens, by the New York-based Open Society           for only parts of the legal system or only certain       new or different way of accessing their entitlements      had only been carried out Islamically, without also
Institute (OSI), acknowledges.                         groups of the population.                                and rights, or to achieve redress or legal recourse.      having been conducted under English civil law. In
   In addition, Muslim women, like all women,             In the UK, there are a number of instances            In addition, against a backdrop of racism and             her book Untying the Knot: Muslim Women, Divorce
are at high risk of specific forms violence. But       where Sharia alternatives to mainstream services are     Islamophobia, it is perhaps not surprising that the       and the Shariah, Shah-Kazemi discusses how the
attempts to understand and address this gender-        legally available to Muslims. British food regula-       question of introducing separate mechanisms for           importance of religion and religious identity for
based violence are often filtered through the lens     tions have been adapted to allow Sharia-compliant        justice for Muslims crops up. Moreover, where the         these women are key reasons why they use Sharia

44                        Balancing women’s rights                           State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                           Balancing women’s rights                             45
                           with freedom of religion                            and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010                               with freedom of religion
courts for divorce. Even where they might be able to      are, in many cases, not actually necessary at all in      laws to apply to us as to other Canadian women. We              ‘We are supported by an international coalition of
secure a divorce under English civil law, if they do      the UK. Because marriage ceremonies in the UK             like the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which safe-            groups watching closely the Ontario government’s
not divorce under Islamic law, they, their family or      must be conducted in a ‘registered building’ to be        guard and protect our equality rights. We know that             decision in relation to Boyd’s report. Their concern
local community members, who have a large impact          valid, the civil marriage ceremony generally precedes     the values of compassion, social justice and human              for the potential erosion of women’s rights within
on individual behaviour, may feel that the divorce is     any Islamic one. Once married under civil law, the        rights, including equality, are the common basis of             constitutional democracies based on religious justi-
not complete and that they are still married.             author explains:                                          Islam and Canadian law.’                                        fications is in keeping with the provisions of the
   Further, according to a paper published by the                                                                                                                                   Canadian Charter, and with international agree-
Canadian Council of Muslim Women in 2005                  ‘the nikah then becomes merely a ceremony of religious    In response, the Ontario government appointed                   ments (i.e. the Convention on the Elimination of All
entitled, The Reception of Muslim Family Laws in          celebration and blessing, legally without significance    Marion Boyd to analyse the problem and propose                  Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
Western Liberal States, most of the cases the ISC has     in either English or Muslim law as far as the status of   a way forward. CCMW commissioned two stud-                      and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence
dealt with stem from this exact situation: women,         the parties is concerned: a man can no more marry a       ies with which to try to lobby Boyd: Applicability              Against Women) to which Canada is a signatory. We
who had already obtained civil divorces but whose         woman to whom he is already married in Muslim law         of Sharia/Muslim Law in Western Liberal States and              demand that the Government of Ontario both under-
husbands had not consented to Islamic divorces,           than he can in English law.’                              Family Arbitration Using Sharia Law: Examining                  stand the intent of these agreements and ensure that
were appealing to Sharia courts to secure their                                                                     Ontario’s Arbitration Act and Its Impact on Women,              domestic laws and regulations are not in contraven-
Islamic divorces.                                         In these cases, a civil divorce is sufficient from a      the second one jointly with NAWL and the                        tion of them.’
                                                          legal perspective, and would even be recognized in        National Organization of Immigrant and Visible
The costs of separation                                   Muslim countries. It is therefore important to ask:       Minority Women (NOIVMW). In a press release                     Eventually, and after much public debate, the
It is clear that informal Sharia arbitration courts are   whose interests are being served by the myth that         about the studies’ findings, CCMW argued,                       government of Ontario decided to disallow the
offering something of value to some Muslim women          additional Islamic divorces are necessary? Sharia         ‘Separate arbitration tribunals to settle family mat-           use of faith-based arbitration in family law. On 14
in the UK. However, and as Muslim women’s                 courts are proposed as a means of negotiating             ters under Sharia/Muslim family law will ghettoize              February 2006, it passed the Family Statute Law
organizations in Canada have successfully argued          between the majority rules and minority religious         and further marginalize vulnerable women.’                      Amendment Act, which states that all arbitration
(see below), these courts can also come at a cost for     needs. But, as Maleiha Malik writes in her essay in          Nevertheless, in her 2004 report Dispute                     under family law in Ontario should be conducted
Muslim women precisely because they are parallel,         the 2005 book edited by Madeleine Bunting, Islam,         Resolution in Family Law: Protecting Choice,                    in accordance with Canadian (including Ontario)
rather than mainstream, options.                          Race and Being British: ‘This recognition of external     Promoting Inclusion, Boyd recommended allowing                  law only.
   Unfortunately, Sharia courts are not free from         hierarchies should not blind us to the fact that there    faith-based arbitration within Ontario’s family law.
wider sexist tendencies in society. In her journal        are also power hierarchies within groups.’                   Following publication of the report, CCMW and                Muslim women as mainstream
article, ‘Muslim women and “Islamic divorce” in                                                                     other women’s groups began to campaign against                  not marginal
England’, Lucy Caroll uncovers some evidence that         Muslim women’s experience                                 the Ontario government adopting the recommenda-                 Although parallel options such as Sharia arbitration
Sharia courts in the UK favour men’s perspectives by      in Canada                                                 tion. NAWL published a position paper analysing                 courts can seem to provide Muslim women a way
requiring wives to pay money to their husbands, or        It was to challenge such myths and gender bias that       the negative impacts of the proposed faith-based                to have the best of both worlds – practising their
return jewellery and money given as marriage gifts,       Muslim women’s organizations in Canada mobilized          arbitration for women’s rights, Arbitration, Religion           religion while continuing to have all their rights
in exchange for divorce. As a result, some Muslim         against the proposed introduction of Sharia arbitra-      and Family Law: Private Justice on the Backs of                 preserved – they risk being a false solution if and
women are effectively being held hostage in their         tion courts into the Ontario legal system from 2002       Women, arguing:                                                 when these courts operate outside the mainstream
marriages until they can pay for their freedom. Given     to 2006.                                                                                                                  system and national legal scrutiny. In effect, Muslim
the statistics on Muslim women’s poverty and access          According to the National Association of               ‘When the resolution of family law matters is relegated to      women are pressured to trade between their rights as
to work quoted above, being able to afford divorce        Women and the Law (NAWL), the controversy                 the private domain of arbitration with no limits, there         women and their rights as religious people.
against a husband’s will may prove impossible and         over the proposal intensified in 2003, when               are serious threats to the equality rights of certain vulner-      Some Muslim women will perceive the choice as
accessing the financial means through family mem-         the Ontario Islamic Institute of Civil Justice            able groups such as women.’                                     follows. They can either be Muslims, using Sharia
bers may represent a significant barrier because of       announced its intention to use the courts to con-                                                                         courts that flow from their religious convictions
stigma, for example, discouraging women further.          duct binding family law arbitrations in accordance        Soon after, NAWL sponsored an international                     but risk sexist outcomes, or they can be women,
   Under the guise of religious obligations, Sharia       with Islamic law. Concerned about the impact such         conference entitled International Perspectives on               getting their divorces from the UK or Canadian
courts also risk limiting Muslim women’s choices.         faith-based arbitration would have on women’s             Faith-based Arbitration. The conference led to the              legal system that do not necessarily correspond to
The idea that Sharia courts provide a useful func-        rights, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women              creation of the No Religious Arbitration Coalition,             Islamic thinking but which are formally scrutin-
tion for Muslim women seeking Islamic divorce             (CCMW) took a public position challenging the             which issued the Declaration on Religious                       ized. To be fair, there are still problems of sexism
reinforces the notion that Muslim women need              idea that religious freedom required a parallel sys-      Arbitration in Family Law that was signed by over a             within, for example, the UK legal system, as the
to secure Islamic divorces to be ‘truly’ divorced in      tem of law and pointing to the threat to women’s          hundred groups, of which the CCMW was the first.                UK government’s own Corston Report confirmed
the eyes of their religion. Without this religious        rights such a move could entail, saying:                  The text specifically appealed to international agree-          in 2007. Sometimes this is mixed with a culture
acceptance of their divorce, some Muslim women                                                                      ments on gender equality to challenge the notion                of institutional racism, namely the idea that ‘their
may believe they cannot remarry, for example. Yet         ‘CCMW sees no compelling reason to live under any         that religious freedoms should trump women’s                    culture allows violence against women’; this is an
Caroll explains in some detail why Islamic divorces       other form of law in Canada, as we want the same          rights, saying:                                                 example of the issue being seen through a filter

46                          Balancing women’s rights                             State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                                 Balancing women’s rights                          47
                             with freedom of religion                              and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010                                     with freedom of religion
of ‘Muslimness’, as described above. But asking            not just the ones that are in the majority or that fit   each task independently will not only fail to serve
Muslim women to be either Muslims or women, as             the majority’s rules. Muslim women are not part-         these women, it could also risk undermining these
if this is an easy or even possible choice – for some      time citizens.                                           women’s rights. Indeed, sometimes the changes
women will feel that it is not – is not a fair request        It is clear that the rules are not working for        proposed for one agenda (i.e. tackling religious
to make. Muslim women are entitled to all of their         some people, so a change of system is called for.        discrimination and accommodating the needs of
rights as complete people, and it is the government’s      Obviously minority groups have less power and            religious minorities) might actually come at the
responsibility to provide them.                            influence, so governments should be careful about        cost of the other (i.e. women’s rights), as the case of
   Providing separate parallel options excuses gov-        demanding unfair adaptations from people, and            unregulated Sharia courts informs us.
ernments from having to think about how to inte-           human rights laws can help in this area. But ultim-         Yet parallel options can be appealing to many
grate the needs of religious minorities into the main-     ately, countries will be stronger, and the rules work    Muslim women against the backdrop of extreme
stream. It also reinforces the view that religious min-    better, when they are able to meet the needs of all      disadvantage, discrimination and marginalization
orities should negotiate for special accommodation,        the people who are bound by them.                        that in part results when countries do not adequate-
because the rules of the game are made without                A state system that sets itself up as beyond, or      ly address the needs of religious minorities gener-
bearing in mind their needs or priorities. Moreover,       not geared towards, religious thinking will present      ally or Muslim women in particular. This appeal
such accommodations end up happening in paral-             a barrier to those whose lives are lived in religious    risks being misleading, however. In reality, parallel
lel rather than being integrated. Any adaptation to        belief. When those people, in addition, belong to a      options can present a false solution to women from
the needs of religious minorities in this situation is     minority of even those who are religious, the chal-      religious minorities, forcing them to trade their
seen as an adjustment of the norm, as if the norm          lenge can be compounded. But separate parallel           rights as women for their rights to religious free-
were neutral rather than constitutive of a dominant        systems for religious minorities are only a temporary    doms. This trade is unfair and should not be asked
paradigm that serves those not in a religious minor-       solution; they allow governments to avoid having to      of Muslim women; they are entitled to have all of
ity. Thus, where the core laws that apply to all are       change to meet the needs of people who are differ-       their needs and rights met – as Muslims and as
not fundamentally altered, religious minorities are        ent. They also take power away: Muslim women are         women – by governments just as others are.
seemingly offered the choice of either using parallel      encouraged to settle for minority systems and fend          The fact that religion figures centrally in how
options and being marginalized or using mainstream         for themselves instead of trying to change the main-     some Muslim women would like to live their lives
options and sacrificing their religious beliefs.           stream system to meet their needs.                       is something the state must address from within
   For Muslim women, this means that their rights             Muslim women in Canada have successfully              a commitment to upholding human rights for all
and priorities are treated as ‘special interest’ rather    organized against the introduction of separate paral-    women from religious minorities are equal citizens,
than mainstream by decision-makers. This divides           lel systems, in particular the use of Sharia courts      and, as such their rights constitute legitimate claims
the treatment of Muslim women from how other,              for arbitration. Their efforts are useful to consider    which the majority should be concerning itself with.
non-Muslim women are treated. The UK’s parallel            not only because they revealed the diversity of          The challenge of reconciling minority religious
option allows a government’s progressive ideas on          opinion that exists within the grouping ‘Muslim          beliefs with majority laws that do not stem from
women’s rights to be suspended suddenly when it            women’, shattering the notion that Muslim women          those beliefs is a fundamental question for democra-
comes to Muslim women because they are ‘differ-            are an undifferentiated mass, but more importantly       cies and democracy-building. The solution cannot
ent’. In practice, this means that compromises are         because they pushed the state to recognize how it        be a short-cut that tells minorities to manage them-
offered legislative, legal and policy scope for those      was failing to deliver women’s rights to them. In        selves, regardless of the risks to women’s rights. p
Muslim women who choose to prioritize their reli-          successfully demonstrating how Muslim women’s
gion, when such compromises would not be accept-           rights are women’s rights, just as other women’s
able for non-Muslim women, given that they risk            rights are, they brought into the mainstream the
leading to sexist decisions. In any case, non-Muslim       notion that minority demands are legitimate claims
women would be more readily able to seek recourse          on the state that the majority should be concerning
in the regular court systems for sexist outcomes.          itself with.
    Muslim women have the right not to be
discriminated against for their religious beliefs and      Conclusion
they have the right to practise their religion too.        The experiences of Muslim women in Canada
But Muslim women also have rights as women.                and the UK provide several lessons on how indus-
Countries that have religious minorities need              trialized countries need to reflect the needs and
to treat the needs of women from these groups              priorities of religious minorities on the one hand,
– as both women and as members of religious                as well as better protect women’s rights on the
minorities – as a central issue. Governments must          other. More importantly, by focusing on women
take responsibility for the needs of all their citizens,   from religious minorities, we learn that pursuing

48                          Balancing women’s rights                             State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                           Balancing women’s rights   49
                             with freedom of religion                              and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010                               with freedom of religion

                                            ALGERIA                       LIBYA
        Western                                                                                     EGYPT

THE GAMBIA                                                                  CHAD                     SUDAN
GUINEA-BISSAU                     BURKINA                                                                                               DJIBOUTI

       SIERRA                                         NIGERIA                                                                ETHIOPIA
       LEONE            CÔTE
                                  GHANA                                           CENTRAL
             LIBERIA                                                            AFRICAN REP.
                                                           CAMEROON                                                                          SOMALIA

                                          SAO TOME
                                       AND PRINCIPE
                                                                      REP. OF

                                                                                                                            KENYA                      Korir Sing’Oei
                                                                      CONGO                        RWANDA
                                                                                     DEM. REP.
                                                                                   OF THE CONGO
                                                                                                                                        I N D I A N
                                                                                                                 TANZANIA               O C E A N

                  A T L A N T I C                                                                 ZAMBIA

                    O C E A N




                                                                                    SOUTH AFRICA
              inority rights protection and promo-       cattle and goat farming have disappeared, creating      $920m (£563m). It is arguable that such practices        Reserve. This is in line with the 2006 decision of
              tion in Africa did not register much       greater food insecurity and increasing dependency       disproportionately impact on land held by minority       the Botswana Constitutional Court.
              improvement in 2009. Forced or             on the state for food rations, MRG’s 2009 work          or indigenous groups, largely because these groups          The use of legal approaches to facilitate resolu-
threatened evictions, either on the grounds of envi-     on climate change found. The failure by the UN          own land under tenure arrangements that are not          tion of some of the seemingly intractable challenges
ronmental protection or to secure land for national      Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in           sufficiently protected by national legal systems. This   facing minorities received a further boost in 2009.
development, took place among hunter-gatherer            December 2009 to agree on an international treaty       situation is more serious for women and children         Shell, the oil company, settled an alien tort claim
communities of Ogiek and Sengwer peoples in              to check global warming represents a great threat       among vulnerable minority groups, who must pro-          instituted against it in the United States by Ogoni
Kenya. Pastoral Maasai in the Loliondo area in           to the livelihoods of indigenous peoples in Africa.     vide for families using land-based resources, from       activists in Nigeria for the corporation’s complic-
Ngorongoro district of Tanzania also suffered forced     These livelihoods are already stretched beyond their    medicinal plants to wood fuel.                           ity in human rights violations. These included the
evictions that were particularly violent, including      capacity for resilience, according to the ACHPR in         A December report by Fahamu, a leading pan-           environmental damage caused on Ogoni land by oil
rapes perpetrated by security agents of the state.       its 2009 work on climate change and human rights.       African civil society platform, said that demands        extraction operations. According to the BBC, Shell
Responding to the widespread nature of these evic-          The link between natural resource exploitation       for territorial self-determination have re-emerged       paid out US $15.5 million in compensation for this
tions, the African Commission on Human and               and the violation of minority rights remained of        in Tanzania’s largely Islamic island of Zanzibar, on     claim. The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni
Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) issued an urgent appeal          significant concern in 2009, especially in the energy   the heels of news of new finds of extensive oil and      People (MOSOP), a leading advocacy organization
requiring the Tanzanian state to halt the evic-          sector. This trend is expected to intensify with        natural gas reserves. These claims were supported by     in the Niger Delta, welcomed the decision.
tions and provide an explanation, which had not          the energy needs of the continent far outstripping      this author’s interview with Edward Porokwo, the             In April 2009, the ACHPR handed down its first
been received by the 46th Ordinary Session of the        supply. According to Friends of Lake Turkana, a         Executive Director of Pingos Forum, a well-known         decision in favour of the Endorois community in
ACHPR in November 2009.                                  Kenyan NGO, the construction of the Gibe III            indigenous peoples’ NGO in Tanzania.                     Kenya, recommending restitution of the commu-
   Conflicts in Chad, Democratic Republic of             project in Ethiopia’s Omo River, a main inlet of           With the referendum on the self-determination         nity’s ancestral lands in Lake Bogoria. This decision
Congo (DRC) and Sudan continued to dispropor-            Kenya’s Lake Turkana, will have adverse impact on       of Southern Sudan just a year away, 2009 saw             marked an important moment for the recognition of
tionately impact on minority communities, and            the Karamojong, Turkana and Toposa communities          increased military conflict in the oil-rich Abyei        collective rights in the ACHPR’s jurisprudence.
particularly on minority women and children. The         that depend on the Lake Turkana basin. Further,         district, pitting the Sudanese People’s Army (SPA)          States are, in some cases, still failing to imple-
Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel            the expansion of Olkaria II geothermal fields in        against the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement        ment judicial decisions touching on indigenous land
force, attacked villages in the DRC and, accord-         Kenya, as reported by news agency Bloomberg in          (SPLM). This led to the displacement of Dinka            rights in Botswana (Miscellaneous Application No.
ing to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees             November 2009, may have a negative environ-             tribal communities. However, the decision of the         52 of 2002 Roy Sesane and Anor v. The Attorney
(UNHCR), displaced over 120,000 people in the            mental and socio-cultural impact on the Maasai          Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration               General of Botswana, 2007), Uganda (Benet case,
months of August and September 2009. Conflict            community living in the precincts of Kenya’s Hell’s     (PCA) in July 2009 brought some hope of an end           2006) and Kenya (Civil Application 305/2004,
also continued in North and South Kivu, affecting        Gate National Park, according to the Centre for         to this conflict, when it delimited the borders of       Rangal Lemaiguran and Others (on behalf of the
many communities including the Batwa/Bambuti.            Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE), a               Abyei oil fields between the Dinka and Masseriya         Ilchamus) v. Attorney General, 2008). But rather
In Ethiopia, the conflict between the government         Kenyan NGO.                                             ethnic groups.                                           than be discouraged by this, minorities are increas-
and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)             In Uganda, oil finds in Bunyoro, in Amuru                                                                     ingly using courts, and this provides a visible
in Somali Region has continued into 2009. In             district of Northern Uganda, are also increasing        Legal progress?                                          national and international platform for their griev-
August 2009 Al-Jazeera, the international news serv-     tension between Kampala and communities in one          While the above context paints a fairly grim pic-        ances against the state, if nothing else.
ice, interviewed human rights defenders who alleged      of Uganda’s ancient kingdoms, the Bunyoro-Kitara        ture of the human rights situation of minorities in         New normative standards and institutional
that the scale of indiscriminate killings and burning    empire. These large energy projects have report-        2009, the approach of African governments towards        arrangements at the regional level in 2009 could,
of villages taking place in the Ogaden was of a simi-    edly been implemented without the free, prior and       minorities seems to be slowly changing. A discourse      in the long term, engender greater realization of
lar nature to those happening in Darfur in Sudan.        informed consent of minority communities.               that recognizes the existence of minorities is emerg-    minority rights in Africa. These include the deci-
Only a few reports on this low-intensity – but              Global food security is a problem that profoundly    ing, and this seems backed by attempts at resolving      sion of the African Union’s Assembly of Heads
nevertheless deadly – conflict in Ogaden have been       impacts on the minorities and indigenous peoples        minority concerns through some limited consulta-         of State in Sirte, Libya, in July 2009 to adopt the
published due to severe restrictions on the media        in Africa; food insecurity was severe in 2009. In       tion rather than by imposing predetermined solu-         Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in
and humanitarian organizations by the Ethiopian          response to this crisis, some of the world’s wealthi-   tions. For example, in 2009 Botswana held consul-        Africa, which commit states to ensuring that land
government.                                              est countries, notably the Gulf States and China,       tations with the Wayeyi minority group with a view       laws provide for equitable access to land, especially
   Indigenous peoples also bore the brunt of the         are buying or leasing land in Africa to satisfy         to formulating solutions to the Wayeyi’s historical      by the landless, women, youth, displaced persons
impact of climate change. East African pastoralists,     their appetite for food and bio-fuels. In what the      exclusion from the House of Chiefs (a traditional        and other vulnerable groups. Similarly, the African
for instance, lost 70 per cent of their livestock dur-   UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)              governance structure that exerts enormous influence      Union (AU) Convention for the Protection and
ing the drought of 2006–9, according to a report         described as the ‘new scramble for Africa’, nearly      in informing state developmental priorities). The        Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa,
by the Humanitarian Policy Group, a collective of        2.5 million hectares (6.2 million acres) of farmland    Botswana government also reported to the ACHPR           adopted on 22 October 2009 in Kampala, Uganda,
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and oth-           in just five sub-Saharan countries, Ethiopia, Ghana,    that it was consulting with the San community to         provides more protection for minorities, who are
ers including Care International. As their traditional   Madagascar, Mali and Sudan, have been bought            develop a more comprehensive framework for the           often internally displaced from their ancestral lands.
resource base diminishes, traditional practices of       or rented in the past five years at a total cost of     community’s access to the Central Kalahari Game          As well as institutionalizing the role of the Special

52                                              Africa                        State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                          Africa                                             53
                                                                                and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
Rapporteur on internally displaced persons, the
                                                           Special report
Convention obligates states to ‘prevent political,
social, cultural and economic exclusion and mar-

ginalization that are likely to cause displacement
of populations or persons by virtue of their social
identity, religion or political opinion’ (Article 1(b)).
It also requires states parties to ‘protect communi-
ties with special attachment to, and dependency, on
                                                           and religious
land due to their particular culture and spiritual val-
ues from being displaced from such lands, except for
                                                           minorities in
compelling and overriding public interests’ (Article
4(5)). The adoption by the African Court on                Africa
Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACtHPR) of its first
decision in Michelot Yogogombaye v. The Republic           Citizenship establishes the scope of rights and
of Senegal, Application No. 001/2008, although             responsibilities provided to an individual within
criticized for delays, marked the end of the Court’s       a state. Many people cannot claim a nationality
ten-year hiatus and provides opportunities for the         or citizenship because they lack official proof
further litigation of minority rights. Unfortunately,      of birth or are incapable of satisfying the high
only Burkina Faso has made the requisite                   thresholds of connection with the state estab-
Declaration accepting the right of individual peti-        lished under national laws. These individuals
tion to the Court, thereby limiting access thereto by      are denied rights associated with citizenship,
aggrieved minorities except via the ACHPR.                 and hence become stateless. According to the
                                                           International Observatory on Statelessness, a
Religious minorities                                       European academic think-tank, ‘Statelessness        their rendition to Ethiopia to stand trial for terror-   Above: Nubian women and a child in Kenya.
In 2009, the International Labour Organization             issues appear in all regions of Africa, often       ism offences on the grounds that the youths were         Nubians continue to have difficulty in getting
(ILO) and ACHPR report, The Rights of Indigenous           affecting ethnic or religious minorities consid-    non-nationals attracted the ire of civil society in      access to National ID cards, employment and
Peoples in 24 African Countries, noted that Africa         ered to be “non-indigenous” to the country at       Kenya. In response, the Kenyan state established the     education. UNHCR/G. Constantine.
today is a net importer of religious doctrine. Islam       hand or groups with historical or cultural ties     Presidential Action Committee to Address Specific
in the north and north-west and Christianity in sub-       elsewhere.’ Statelessness also arises in coun-      Concerns of the Muslim Community in Regard               individual’s citizenship claim. This practice is in
Saharan Africa have taken the place of or fused with       tries that do not permit female citizens to pass    to Alleged Harassment and/or Discrimination in           sharp contrast to the treatment of other ethnic and
pre-existing indigenous African religions. According       nationality to their children.                      2007. In its July 2009 report, the committee raised      religious groups in Kenya, whose pursuit of identity
to the 2009 Afrobarometer Working Paper (no. 13),             According to scholar Bronwen Manby, sig-         concerns about, among other things, the arbitrary        documents is prima facie successful, even when docu-
traditional African religions in their pure form have      nificant populations of concern include 3.5         arrests of Muslims based on their religious dress.       mentary proof is lacking. According to an April 2009
declined from approximately 20 per cent of the sub-        million in Côte d’Ivoire who lack identity docu-       The Nubian community has been present in              Forced Migration Review report, for the Nubians,
Saharan population since 1970. Clashes within one          ments; 110,000–155,000 Sahrawis taking refuge       Kenya for about 100 years. Many live in harsh condi-     the length of time required to obtain citizenship
small sect of either Islam or Christianity, and the        in Algeria, who have been stateless for 32 years;   tions of poverty and deprivation in the Kibera slum      documents, if they succeed at all, ranges from 5 to
dominant facets of these faiths, are the hallmark of       and hundreds of thousands of children in Egypt      in Nairobi. Before 2009, when Nubians were finally       10 years, since most of them have to be screened by
religious conflicts in Africa. Followers of Buddhism       with non-Egyptian fathers.                          recognized in the national population census process,    a vetting committee. The report states that, prior to
and Hinduism are largely made up of the immigrant             Religious minorities in Africa are arguably      to be a Nubian and a Muslim in Kenya amounted to         2009, the committee was comprised mainly of non-
Indian, Japanese or Chinese groups in the continent.       more likely than other groups to experience the     membership of a non-Kenyan identity. Despite this        Nubians. Almost 50 per cent of Nubians still have
By virtue of their non-proselytizing approach, these       problem of statelessness. The situation of the      recognition, however, they continue to suffer from       no documents to prove their citizenship, resulting in
religions have remained fairly uncontroversial in          Nubians in Kenya and of the Baha’is in Egypt        citizenship-based discrimination. Isa Abdul Faraj, the   their de facto statelessness.
Africa, in contrast to both Islam and Christianity.        is a testament to this proposition. It can also     Chair of the Nubian Council of Elders informed this         In Egypt, the government requires all identifica-
Recent research suggests that religious pluralism          be argued that the challenges facing minority       author in November 2009 that the bulk of Nubians         tion papers to list religious affiliation but restricts
rather than homogeneity promote development and            communities in Kenya’s North Eastern and            experience obstacles to their application for citizen-   the choice to the three officially recognized religions:
democracy, hence the need to emphasize protec-             Coast provinces in procuring identity docu-         ship in Kenya immediately upon disclosing their          Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Baha’is are thus
tion for other faiths beyond the dominant Islam            ments are compounded by their Islamic faith.        names, most of which are Arab and identify them as       unable to obtain identification papers because they
and Christianity. As evidence from 2009 shows              For instance, the arbitrary arrests of 18 Kenyan    Muslim. Such designation instantly results in more       refuse to lie about their religious affiliation.
(see country sections below), the rights of religious      Muslim young people in March 2009 and               documentary evidence being required to sustain an           The Baha’i World News Service, a pro-Baha’i
minorities in Africa need better protection. Although

54                                               Africa                     State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                          Africa                                               55
                                                                              and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                              religion often provides an important platform to           Association for Women’s Rights in Development           lodges on condition that they desist from supporting
                                                              mobilize groups in order to contest structural mar-        (AWID), a Canada-based international women’s            game hunting. Meanwhile Survival International,
                                                              ginality, violent extremism has unfortunately also         rights organization, reported that a court in Biskra,   a UK-based NGO, accused the Botswana govern-
                                                              become endemic. Furthermore, many religious                southern Algeria, also sentenced 26-year-old woman,     ment of issuing 112 mining licences on Basarwa
news agency based in Haifa, Israel, reported                  minorities suffer the extra discrimination of being        Samia Smets, to 10 years’ imprisonment for alleg-       land since their evictions, raising doubts about the
in 2009 that without national identity                        stateless, which exacerbates their marginalization         edly having violated the Qur’an. The same court was     government’s intention to make the Basarwa co-
documents, Baha’is and others caught in the                   from generation to generation.                             reported to have convicted six men for eating during    owners in the mining and tourism wealth generated
law’s contradictory requirements are deprived of                                                                         Ramadan, the Islamic period of fasting.                 from CKGR. Such mining has been condemned as
a wide range of citizenship rights, such as access            Algeria                                                                                                            unethical by the Bench Marks Foundation, an ecu-
to employment, education, and medical and                     According to the Algerian Constitution, Islam is the       Botswana                                                menical corporate accountability organization, the
financial services.                                           state religion. The Constitution guarantees freedom        Seretse Ian Khama retained the presidency in 2009,      UN news agency IRIN reported in September 2009.
                                                              of conscience and proscribes discrimination. While         in elections that were deemed free and fair by elec-       In March 2009, on a country mission to
‘Employers, both public and private, by law cannot            the law (Algerian Family Code I.II.3) does not rec-        toral observers. Such relatively successful elections   Botswana, James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on
hire someone without an ID, and academic insti-               ognize marriages between Muslim women and non-             belie the homogenizing policy of the Botswana           the rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous
tutions require IDs for admission. … Obtaining                Muslim men, it does however recognize marriages            government that continues to impose the Tswana          peoples, witnessed how the exclusion of indigenous
a marriage licence or a passport requires a birth             between Muslim men and non-Muslim women. By                identity on all Botswana communities. As MRG            Basarwa and other minorities from ‘the design and
certificate; inheritance, pensions, and death benefits        law, children follow the religion of their fathers, even   reported in 2009, the chieftaincies based on Tswana     implementation of the Government development
are contingent on death certificates. The Ministry            if they are born abroad and are citizens of their (non-    identity deepen Tswana domination, while seriously      initiatives affecting them’ affected the cultural diver-
of Health has even refused to provide immuniza-               Muslim) country of birth. Section 4 of the Algerian        undermining the identity, including religions, of       sity and identity of these communities. He observed
tions to some Baha’i children because the Interior            Criminal Code provides that ‘any damage or des-            other minorities. In the struggle against perceived     that this approach ultimately impeded government
Ministry would not issue them birth certificates              ecration of the Holy Book (Quran) is punishable            Tswana privilege, Wayeyi and other minorities have      programmes. Indeed, the present development para-
accurately listing their Baha’i religion.’                    by 5 to 10 years in prison’. While in most cases it is     appealed to the courts, as well as the ACHPR. What      digm on the part of the Botswana government runs
                                                              non-Muslims that suffer deleterious effects from the       the government likes to portray as an ethnically        counter to its own Framework for a Long-term Vision
In its 2009 report, international NGO Human                   Islamization of the law in Algeria, indigenous people      homogeneous land is actually a multicultural coun-      of Botswana (Vision 2016), which obliges the gov-
Rights Watch (HRW) gave evidence of the                       too, especially women, are negatively impacted. For        try, with about 45 ethnic groups speaking about 26      ernment to ensure the recognition of diversity and
pervasive nature of religious discrimination                  instance, according to the 2009 report of the NGO          different languages.                                    engage in the promotion of minority cultures.
against the Baha’is in Egypt. With reference                  the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs           Minority rights advocacy organizations in               In contrast to the lack of respect for ethnic diversi-
to court cases in Egyptian administrative                     (IWGIA), women from the Amazigh minority ‘suf-             Botswana continue to contest the constitutional         ty, the Botswana government has maintained a fairly
tribunals, HRW highlighted the religious                      fer the weight of tradition and of the Family Code         provision that only eight ethnic groups are capa-       liberal attitude towards religious diversity. According
persecution, exclusion and state failure to                   which draws full inspiration from Islamic (Sharia)         ble of nominating representatives to the House of       to the official website of the Botswana government,
protect Baha’i religious liberties. However,                  law [and] places women in a subordinate position’.         Chiefs. Consequently, other groups, numbering           of the estimated 70 per cent of citizens who identify
HRW cites two cases where discrimination                      This discrimination exists in spite of the Amazigh         over 36, feel that their language, culture and reli-    themselves as Christians, most are from the Anglican,
based on the religious identity of Baha’is                    community’s demographic strength: about 30 per             gions have come under threat because of the prevail-    Methodist and United Congregational Church of
was successfully contested in 2009. The                       cent of the Algerian population.                           ing Tswana hegemony.                                    Southern Africa. These groups coexist with minor-
first involved a lawsuit by the father of twin                   In theory, missionary groups belonging to the              State resistance to an approach that is more         ity Christian groups such as Lutherans, Roman
children, who sought to obtain proper birth                   Christian faith are permitted to conduct humani-           respectful of minority rights was evident in            Catholics, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
certificates for them. The second concerned a                 tarian activities without government interference          Botswana’s inaugural report to the ACHPR                Saints (Mormons), Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s
college student, who needed a national identity               as long as they are discreet and do not proselytize        in November 2009. In his submission to the              Witnesses, Baptists, the Dutch Reformed Church
card to re-enrol in university but could not                  openly. But according to the US International              Commission, the Minister for Justice, Defence and       and Mennonites. Muslims, primarily of South Asian
obtain it as a Baha’i unless he falsified his                 Commission on Religious Freedom (USCIRF)                   Constitutional Affairs reported that the state had      origin, who number slightly more than 5,000, as
religious identity. In both cases, the court                  Annual Report 2009, at least 12 Christians and con-        not implemented the court’s decision of 2006 to         well as smaller groups of Hindus and Baha’is, enjoy
provided a compromise in which members                        verts to Christianity from Islam were prosecuted on        allow the Basarwa tribe to return to the Central        equal treatment with other faiths. USCIRF reported
of the Baha’i religion were allowed not to                    charges of breaching Ordinance 06-03. This 2006            Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). He argued that            that representatives of Baha’i, Christian, Hindu and
disclose any religious affiliation in their identity          government law regulates faiths other than Islam.          the court’s ruling presented ‘impracticable solu-       Muslim communities came together in April 2009 to
application documents. These decisions                           USCIRF also presented evidence of instances in          tions’, but asserted that dialogue was ongoing          form and register an official interfaith council to dis-
depart from an initial decision of the Egyptian               which converts to Christianity have suffered perse-        between the state and the Basarwa community, to         cuss religious issues and promote interfaith dialogue.
Supreme Court that had dismissed the Baha’i                   cution in the recent past in Algeria. They include         ensure that the community benefits from revenue
discrimination claim in December 2006. p                      a woman, Habiba Kouider, a convert from Islam,             from the park through creation of their own eco-        Burundi
                                                              who was arrested and charged in March 2009 after           tourism lodges within the CKGR. He said that            It is noteworthy that Burundi’s current Constitution
                                                              police found copies of the Bible in her bag. The           Basarwa will be trained and allowed to run eco-         uses the terms ‘minority groups’ quite explicitly to

56                                                   Africa                         State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                         Africa                                                57
                                                                                      and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
include ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, and      allocation of natural resources. Forest-dwelling Ba’Aka,   in schools due to the allegation that they ‘stink’ of   ment, expropriation and violence against Bambuti
recognizes that their substantive inclusion is a pre-       in particular, were subject to social and economic dis-    milk/butter, hence others do not want to sit next to    communities throughout North and South Kivu,
requisite to good governance and national security.         crimination and exploitation, which the government         them. Peul women are marginalized by an internal        perpetrated both by the FDLR and by Congolese
By linking minority rights protection with good             has done little to prevent. Despite repeated promises,     and external cultural context that does not incor-      armed forces.
governance and safety of the state, the Constitution        the government took no steps to issue and deliver iden-    porate them into decision-making structures, the           The elusive Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA),
places such rights on the same level as other major         tity cards to Pygmies, lack of which, according to many    report said.                                            an insurgency group that originated in northern
national concerns and pursuits.                             human rights groups, effectively denied them access to        More than half of Chad’s population is Muslim,       Uganda in the 1980s, attacked dozens of villages
   The Constitution further provides, in Articles 143,      greater civil rights.’                                     approximately one-third is Christian, and the           and towns, mostly between December 2008 and
164 and 180 respectively, for proportionate ethnic                                                                     remainder follows indigenous religious beliefs or has   January 2009, in the far north-east. Around 1,100
representation in public enterprises, the National          The CAR, however, appears to be taking some                no religion. Most northerners practise Islam, and       civilians were killed, hundreds abducted and close to
Assembly and the Senate. The explicit mention of            steps to ameliorate the challenges faced by minor-         most southerners practise Christianity or indigenous    200,000 displaced, according to Alan Doss, head of
Batwa as beneficiaries of this ethnic quota constitutes     ity and indigenous groups. With support from the           religions. However, population patterns are becom-      the UN Mission in DRC (MONUC).
the highest level of identification for this ancient        UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human               ing more complex, especially in urban areas.               In its consolidated Eighth, Ninth and Tenth
hunting and gathering community in central Africa.          Rights (OHCHR) and the ILO, the government                    Whereas the Chadian Constitution provides for        Periodic Report considered by the ACHPR dur-
With three seats in the National Assembly and in            has sought to enact legislation that provides for          freedom of religion, the government has proscribed      ing its 46th Session in November 2009, the DRC
the Senate, as well as a representative in the National     affirmative action for minorities, similar to the law      certain Muslim groups on the grounds of extrem-         conceded interfering with the exercise of religious
Commission for Land and Other Assets, Batwa vis-            adopted in 2007 by the Republic of Congo. These            ism. The African News Agency (AFROL) reported           freedom in order to protect public interest. For
ibility in public processes has marginally improved,        efforts failed to bear fruit in 2009. In 2008, CAR         in 2009 that Chadian troops killed 72 followers of      instance, it reported suspending the activities of
IWGIA reported in 2009. But despite such recogni-           adopted a National Plan for Education for All, to          a Muslim spiritual leader in Kouno, 300 km south-       Pastor Kuthino Fernando’s Victory Army Church
tion, stereotyping and the marginalization of Batwa         increase access to education from 10 per cent to 80        east of N’Djamena, Chad’s capital city. The Islamic     for burning the Qur’an live on television.
people continues, resulting in their weak involve-          per cent for ‘minority groups’ (‘Pygmy’, Mbororo           leader had threatened to launch a ‘Holy war’ in            In recent years, DRC has witnessed the mush-
ment in public life. According to the 2009 report of        and handicapped children and children living in            defence of the Islamic faith and to fight corruption.   rooming of many evangelical Christian sects, many
the NGO Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), Batwa               mining areas). However this policy has yet to be                                                                   with massive support from the global Christian
rarely attend political or religious gatherings. Most       implemented.                                               Democratic Republic of Congo                            community. Pastors of these sects implore their
land traditionally held by Batwa has been annexed by           The CAR Constitution provides for freedom of            The vulnerable situation of minorities, including       congregations to submit to divine providence, cast-
dominant communities with state concurrence, leav-          religion, although it prohibits what the government        that of the Batwa or Bambuti Pygmies, in the DRC        ing the solution to DRC’s social and political chal-
ing most Batwa as squatters and consigning many to          considers to be religious fundamentalism or intoler-       in 2009 was compounded further by major armed           lenges to God and not human agency. While such
a life of bonded labour.                                    ance. USCIRF 2009 reported that the government             conflict, including in the Kivus and in the north-      an approach is soothing to the political establish-
   Discrimination against Albinos is prevalent              generally respected religious freedom in practice.         east. An agreement between the governments of the       ment, an attempt by religious organizations to chal-
in Burundi. At least 12 Albinos in the eastern                 USCIRF further reported on the state’s continued        DRC and neighbouring Rwanda led to joint mili-          lenge corruption and maladministration is met with
Burundian provinces of Cankuzo, Kirundo,                    ban since 2007 of Eglise Jehova Sabaot, an African         tary operations in the Kivus at the start of the year   repression and killings. In 2006 Bundu Dia Kongo
Muyinga and Ruyigi, on or near the border with              independent church, on the basis that its leader-          targeting the Forces démocratiques de libération du     (BDK), an Africanist spiritual movement estab-
Tanzania, were killed in 2009 according to a                ship was involved in various criminal operations.          Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu power group. Renegade             lished in 1986 by Ne Muanda Nsemi, mobilized
November Red Cross report.                                  Although Eglise Jehova Sabaot public worship has           Congolese general Laurent Nkunda was detained on        traditional Kongo beliefs, recovered ancestral ways
                                                            been derailed by this closure, members continued           the Rwandan border and his forces of the Congrès        of self-governance and attracted national attention
Central African Republic                                    to meet at private residences with little state            national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP)               when its supporters began to clash regularly with
The Preamble to the 2004 Constitution of the                interference.                                              were rapidly integrated into the Congolese army.        police. The exchanges were exceptional for the
Central African Republic (CAR) emphasizes that                                                                         With logistical support from the UN mission, the        extraordinary persistence on the BDK side, and
CAR is a state that guarantees security of persons          Chad                                                       Congolese army launched a new operation against         the unwarranted brutality and unprecedented use
and property and protects the most vulnerable,              Discrimination against minorities in Chad contin-          the FDLR, Kimia II, which continued for most of         of lethal force by state security forces. Independent
minorities in particular. USCIRF reported that, in          ued, despite the government’s adoption of a law            the year, leaving hundreds of thousands displaced.      reports by the UN and HRW suggest that several
spite of constitutional prohibition of discrimination,      in 2006 that includes the promotion of tolerance              As part of this conflict, some members of the        hundreds of unarmed BDK supporters were mas-
indigenous groups experienced multiple cases of             and respect for other cultures as one of the objec-        Batwa/Bambuti minority community in the DRC             sacred. Congolese authorities, however, continued
discrimination with regard to the right to property,        tives of the educational system, the ILO and an            have suffered torture, burning of their houses and      to label BDK a ‘terrorist group’ and maintained
natural resources and citizenship. The report specifi-      ACHPR 2009 report said. The Peul minority, a               killings, and have experienced a particularly high      that the death toll from the clashes was around 30
cally noted that there is:                                  nomadic cattle-breeding group constituting about           incidence of rape and extreme sexual violence. Two      persons. In March 2008, police made a pre-emptive
                                                            250,000 of Chad’s 10 million population, expe-             investigation missions undertaken by MRG and            strike, killing 200 BDK members in anticipation of
‘societal discrimination against Pygmies (Ba’Aka and        rienced continued stereotyping in 2009. A 2009             its partner organization the Réseau des associa-        further protests. The UN Mission in DRC consid-
Baninga)…. They continued to have little say in deci-       report in Indigenous Affairs journal stated that Peul      tions autochtones pygmées (RAPY) in March and           ered the killings a deliberate effort to wipe out the
sions affecting their lands, culture, traditions, and the   girls are most discriminated against and stereotyped       September revealed a pattern of repeated displace-      BDK movement.

58                                                 Africa                         State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                         Africa                                            59
                                                                                    and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                                                                                       Left: Coptic boys sell posters from a street stall dur-    quently used to restrict the work of civil society and
                                                                                                                       ing the Coptic festival Moulid of Mari Girgis near         the media’. The Charities and Societies Proclamation
                                                                                                                       Luxor, Egypt. James Morris/Panos.                          Law was adopted on 6 January by parliament. This
                                                                                                                                                                                  new law criminalizes human rights activities by
                                                                                                                       Consequent upon these systematic attacks on reli-          foreign NGOs and by Ethiopian organizations that
                                                                                                                       gious freedoms, Eritrea was designated one of the          receive more than 10 per cent of their funding from
                                                                                                                       eight ‘countries of particular concern’ for serious vio-   abroad; imposes disproportionate penalties for minor
                                                                                                                       lation of religious freedom by the US Commission.          administrative breaches of the law; and allows govern-
                                                                                                                       USCIRF also stated in 2009 that ‘the government            ment interference in the operation and management
                                                                                                                       has also interfered with the Catholic Church, taking       of civil society organizations. NGOs such as the
                                                                                                                       over church schools, health clinics, and other social      Pastoralist Forum of Ethiopia, the leading lobby for
                                                                                                                       service facilities. Since November 2007 it has expelled    pastoralists’ rights in the country, which depends
                                                                                                                       at least 14 foreign Catholic missionaries by refusing      on international funding to carry out its economic
                                                                                                                       to extend their residency permits.’                        empowerment and governance reform programmes,
                                                                                                                          Over 3,000 members of unregistered churches             will be adversely affected.
                                                                                                                       have been incarcerated in Eritrea since 2005 and              Ethiopia presented its Article 62 Report dur-
                                                                                                                       many have been beaten or otherwise abused to               ing the 46th Session of the ACHPR in November
                                                                                                                       compel them to renounce their faith, HRW’s 2009            2009. The delegation presenting the periodic
                                                                                                                       World Report said.                                         report argued that the Constitution only recog-
                                                                                                                          The use of torture to repress religious expression      nizes ‘nations, nationalities and peoples’ and makes
                                                                                                                       is widespread. Almost 3,000 of the estimated 20,000        no mention of indigenous peoples or minorities.
                                                                                                                       Eritrean prisoners of conscience are Christians.           This understanding of minorities falls short of
                                                                                                                       According to a 2009 report in the UK national              international standards as expressed in paragraph
Egypt                                                      state-controlled in 2009. HRW reported that the             newspaper, the Guardian, they were detained pend-          5.2 of General Comment 23 on Article 27 of the
The year 2009 saw Egypt joining with the USA to            government has failed to implement the outcomes             ing denial of their faith.                                 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
sponsor a resolution before the UN Human Rights            of the 1997 referendum that would have ushered                                                                         (ICCPR): ‘The existence of an ethnic, religious or
Council (HRC) that sought common ground                    in a new constitution, hold competitive elections           Ethiopia                                                   linguistic minority in a given state party does not
between proponents of a prohibition on ‘defamation         or re-open the independent interim parliament               On paper, the 1995 Constitution of the Federal             depend upon a decision by the state party, but
of religion’ and free speech advocates. However, the       suspended since 2002.                                       Republic of Ethiopia is an example of what a con-          requires to be established by objective criteria.’
country did not fare better in ensuring the protec-           The government issued permits only to                    stitution protective of minorities in a multicultural         In contrast to Eritrea, Ethiopia showed relative
tion of religious minorities within its territory.         Orthodox Christian, Catholic and Lutheran                   African society should look like. The lived reality of     tolerance for religious diversity, allowing the major-
   Alongside Baha’is, whose discrimination has             churches, and Muslim communities, to practise               minorities in Ethiopia in 2009, however, is a study        ity Ethiopian Coptic Church to coexist with other
been discussed above, Copts also continue to               their religion. While the recognized religious              of exclusion and oppression, suggesting that a good        Christian and Islamic faiths. USCIRF reported
suffer religious persecution. In June 2009, the            groups are allowed to operate, they too have not            constitution on its own does not offer solace to           that in 2009, minority religious groups, including
Catholic Online, the official online news source           been spared. In 2006, for instance, the govern-             minorities unless it is anchored within a supportive       Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, members of the Church
of the Catholic Church, reported that hundreds             ment forced out the patriarch of the Eritrean               political culture and institutional frameworks.            of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), ani-
of young Coptic girls, including many under-age,           Orthodox Church after he refused to interfere with             According to an International Crisis Group (ICG)        mists and practitioners of indigenous religions:
have been kidnapped, raped, forced to convert to           a movement to reform the church and he remains              September 2009 report, the Ethiopian Peoples’
Islam and marry Muslim men. Egypt’s 12 million             confined to date. In 2008 the government revoked            Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) policy              ‘occasionally complained of discrimination in the alloca-
Copts comprise about 15 per cent of the popula-            the exemption from military service for most                of ethnic federalism has not dampened conflict, but        tion of land for religious sites. Protestants reported dis-
tion. According to the report, Christians who              Orthodox priests. USCIRF said that:                         rather increased competition among groups that vie         crimination in treatment and access by local officials when
want to convert to Islam are welcomed with open                                                                        over land and natural resources, as well as admin-         seeking land for churches and cemeteries. Local authorities
arms, while Muslims who would like to convert to           ‘In January 2009 the government reportedly car-             istrative boundaries and government budgets. ‘The          refused to grant land to Muslim leaders to build mosques.’
Christianity are usually imprisoned and tortured.          ried out countrywide arrests of influential Muslims,        EPRDF’s ethnic policy has empowered some groups
Out of 444 representatives, Egypt’s parliament             describing the 60 Muslims arrested as “radical              to the disadvantage of others, deepening the sense         Kenya
has just two Coptic elected representatives, one of        Islamists.” Early in 2009, the government also began        of communal grievance that pervades the country            The 2007/08 post-electoral violence was marked by
whom was disqualified for holding dual citizenship.        confiscating vehicles marked with license plates des-       … [and] powerfully promoted ethnic self-awareness          fratricidal ethnic conflict. Since then, the coalition
                                                           ignated for religious groups. The mass confiscation         among all groups,’ the report said.                        government established in 2008 has held together
Eritrea                                                    severely limited the abilities of the religious groups to      Amnesty International (AI) reported that in 2009,       and attempted to heal the fractured sense of civic
Eritrea’s social-political life remained highly            perform daily tasks.’                                       ‘legislation and other forms of regulation were fre-       trust. But the sheer scale of displacement, accompa-

60                                                Africa                          State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                            Africa                                                  61
                                                                                    and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
nied by the worst drought in years, and economic          the slum upgrading project, an important national           Muslims in Northern Kenya purport to circumcise           ever; hence the mere possession of Bibles and other
downturn exacerbated by global recession in 2009,         initiative. In the same vein, the search for national       girls in order to comply with Islam.                      Christian literature at home is by itself not illegal.
has frustrated the government’s efforts, according        solutions to the energy crisis facing the country, has                                                                Non-nationals who are mainly Roman Catholic and
to an October 2009 report by the Kenya National           resulted in the drilling of massive geothermal wells        Mali                                                      live in and around the capital, Nouakchott, are able
Dialogue and Reconciliation Monitoring Project.           in Olkaria, with the Maasai community inhabiting            The government of Mali has struggled to end the           to practise their religion. A small number of Jewish
   In 2009, the Kenyan government established             this part of the country suffering deleterious envi-        conflict with Tuareg people, a nomadic minority           expatriates practise their religion, although they do
key institutions identified in the National Accord        ronmental effects.                                          who have periodically taken up arms demanding             not have a synagogue.
and Reconciliation Act of 2008 to reform the                 The Kenyan Harmonized Draft Constitution                 greater rights for their people, including political         In 2009, AI reported that hundreds of migrants,
electoral and boundaries system, finalize the             released on 17 November 2009 has strong language            autonomy. Intensive oil exploration by Chinese            believed to be heading to Europe, were arbitrarily
writing of a new constitution and roll out a              that recognizes minorities both at the national level       and Australian firms ongoing in northern Mali,            arrested and detained in Mauritania. ‘Many were
national programme of healing and reconcili-              and at the three levels of proposed devolved govern-        have heightened Tuareg demands for equity in              detained in inhuman conditions and ill-treated
ation. The establishment of a Commission on               ment (county, region and states) proposed by the            natural resource exploitation in their territory. The     before being expelled, frequently not to their coun-
Integration and Cohesion and the Truth, Justice           Draft. The Draft, like the current Constitution,            Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based inde-            tries of origin and without being able to challenge
and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) in early             grants the minority Muslim religion its adjudica-           pendent think-tank, reported in 2009 that, while          the expulsion decision,’ the report said.
2009, and the appointment of the Commissioners,           tive mechanism, the Kadhi courts, and empowers              the July 2006 Algiers agreement calling for greater          Mauritania has in the past been censured by
are particularly indicative that the state no longer      it to determine personal matters between two con-           government efforts in developing the northern             the ACHPR for arbitrary expulsion of black
wishes to sweep the problem of ethnic discrimi-           senting Muslims subject to the supervision of the           regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal in return for          Mauritanians on racial grounds. These expulsions,
nation and historical injustices under the carpet.        High Court. This proposal has angered Christian             Tuareg abandoning their demands for regional              which took place in 1989 and 1990, saw some
While these institutional arrangements provide            groups, particularly the Pentecostals and evangelical       autonomy has resulted in substantial surrender of         75,000 people expelled. By July 2008, only 4,500
opportunities for the better understanding of             groups under the banner of the National Council of          arms, conflict still remained.                            of the deportees had been repatriated to
minority rights, none of them have come up with           Churches. Consequently, on this ground alone, the               According to AI, in 2009 the difficult economic       Mauritania through the technical and material
explicit strategies for ensuring substantial involve-     Kenyan Church has threatened to mobilize its mem-           conditions in the country saw protests organized          assistance of the UNHCR and with the cooperation
ment of minority communities in their processes.          bers to vote against the Draft Constitution when it         against the rise in the price of basic commodities and    of the state, scholar Bronwen Manby reported in
   The government, in spite of the decision of            comes to the referendum in June 2010. The debate            against plans to privatize the supply of water in Lere,   2009. Since the 2008 coup, the repatriation pro-
the African Commission on the Endorois case               between the two communities has focused around              in the north-west of the country occupied by Tuareg.      gramme has stalled.
(see above) that asserted the rights of a minority        the Kadhi courts and the constitutional review, and         At least six people were injured in November 2009,
community to self-determined development, has             allowed extreme elements from both sides to speak           one of whom died later in hospital, when security         Namibia
persisted in its approach to national development         out with great vehemence.                                   forces shot at the demonstrators. Mali’s response to      In November 2009, Namibia held its fourth multi-
without due regard to the rights of minorities and           For the first time since independence, the Kenyan        economic challenges in the country further accentu-       party elections since the end of South Africa’s
indigenous groups enshrined in various interna-           cabinet adopted a draft land policy which estab-            ate Tuareg grievances against the state.                  domination two decades ago. While the South
tional and regional human rights instruments. For         lished community land tenure to replace the highly             NGOs have reported that Mali displays a high           West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) won
instance, in pursuing an important national project       discredited trust land system that has been highly          degree of religious tolerance towards minority            a comfortable majority, there is increasing pressure
to conserve the Mau forest, a water catchment             disadvantageous towards minorities. This draft              groups. Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic             for it to carry out bold programmes of land reform,
area that serves the entire East African region, the      policy has been presented to parliament and adopt-          charity said in its 2009 report on religious liberty      Reuters news agency reported.
government’s strategy is to carry out massive evic-       ed as Sessional Paper No. 3 of 2009. Already it             that, ‘no legal obstacles to conversion from one             Namibia is a predominantly Christian country.
tions of all persons accused of encroaching on the        appears that the implementation of this policy will         religion to another’ exist in Mali, and Christians are    Ten per cent of its 2.1 million citizens practise
forest. While the need to conserve the Mau forest is      be strongly resisted by lobby groups, particularly          free to preach without fear of persecution. USCIRF        indigenous beliefs. The Legatum Institute (a
important, the government’s handling of the Ogiek         the Kenya Land Owners Association, which works              2009 noted that members of the same family in             UK-based think-tank) ranked Namibia 63rd out
community, which for centuries has utilized this          with large-scale land holders, most of whom own             Mali can adhere to different faiths and ‘that fol-        of 104 countries in its Prosperity Index in 2009.
environment in a sustainable fashion and which            ranches in the largely pastoralist districts of Laikipia,   lowers of one religion attend religious ceremonies        However, the relative prosperity of Namibian indi-
claims this forest as its ancestral land, has been less   Naivasha and Kajiado.                                       of other religious groups, especially baptisms, wed-      viduals did not seem to favourably influence state
than satisfactory. Speaking to the New York Times            Harmful practices against minority women, espe-          dings, and funerals’.                                     and non-state treatment of minorities in 2009.
in November 2009, Daniel Kobei of the Ogiek               cially female genital mutilation (FGM), continued                                                                     While the conservancy system in Namibia allows
Peoples Development Programme (OPDP), said the            among pastoralists in northern Kenya and parts of           Mauritania                                                communities to manage rural areas as ‘protected
Ogiek will suffer irreparable violations of their right   the Rift Valley. In spite of legal prohibition against      Islam is constitutionally decreed the state religion in   areas’, where they are still allowed to carry out
to life and cultural survival, among others, if evicted   the practice, the government has failed to ensure its       Mauritania; much of the Mauritanian population            traditional economic activities including hunting
alongside recent forest squatters.                        effective monitoring, thereby weakening the deter-          practises Sunni Islam. Proselytizing by non-Muslims       and gathering, this has not necessarily improved
    Similarly, the Nubian community, which for            rent effect of the law. In July 2009, 300 girls were        and the printing and distribution of Bibles and           the lot of minorities. The Indigenous Peoples of
100 years has occupied Kibera slum, were neither          reported to have gone through FGM in Marakwet               other non-Islamic religious materials is explicitly       Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC) reported
consulted about, nor have they benefited from,            district in North Rift, the Daily Nation said.              prohibited in the country. Privacy is respected, how-     in 2009 that, for instance, Khwe, a San-speaking

62                                               Africa                          State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                           Africa                                             63
                                                                                   and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
community, are not recognized as an ethnic group         reported land and air strikes by the JTF on militia       Rwanda                                                       Somalia
by the central government and hence lack politi-         camps and communities across the Warri South and          A new law criminalizing ‘genocidal ideology’ was             In January 2009, following UN-sponsored
cal representation in government. The absence of a       South-west local government areas in Delta State,         promulgated on 1 October 2008 and began to be                peace talks, an agreement between Somalia’s
singular traditional authority is the reason given for   including the Ogoni minority community, leading           implemented in 2009. The terms of the crime are              Transitional Federal Parliament (TFG) and the
this denial of the right to representation. While the    to a virtual occupation of the area by the JTF for        ambiguously expressed; however, the offence is               Djibouti-based wing of the opposition Alliance
Constitution of Namibia as implemented through           several months. ‘When residents were finally able         punishable by 10 to 25 years’ imprisonment. The              for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS-Djibouti)
the Communal Land Reform Act of 2002 grants              to return in August 2009, most found their houses         intention of this law has been questioned by many            was signed. A Government of National Unity
traditional chiefs unfettered authority over com-        destroyed, worsening their already imperiled liv-         international organizations, including the NGO               was formed and parliamentarians elected a new
munal land, it denies San people recognition of          ing conditions, but also raising questions on the         Article 19. It is feared that the law is an instru-          president, moderate Islamist Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
their traditional authority, hence by implication        proportionality of the government offensive against       ment for stifling freedom of expression and limiting         The peace agreement also led to the withdrawal of
curtailing their land rights. The result is often con-   the militia groups,’ the report said. These large-scale   political space for those opposed to the current gov-        Ethiopian troops from the country.
flict with other communities. A July report in daily     forced evictions were carried out despite previous        ernment. In December 2009, Rwandan opposition                   However, radical Islamist opposition groups
newspaper The Namibian said that conflict arose in       government assurances that no evictions would take        presidential candidate Bernard Ntaganda was sum-             such as Al Shabab and Hizb-al-Islamiya continued
Nyae Nyae between cattle farmers wishing to use          place. There were reports that some state officials       moned to answer charges under the law at a Senate            to fight. The African Union’s peacekeeping force
the conservancy land and Ju/’hoansi who are pre-         asked for bribes to protect villagers’ property from      committee inquiry. He denied promoting genocide              (AMISOM) was targeted and on 22 February a
serving and conserving the area – and who depend         demolitions. The compensation paid has simi-              ideology and ethnic ‘divisionism’. While govern-             suicide attack against an AMISOM base killed 11
on it for their survival. The situation continued to     larly been criticized as inadequate or non-existent,      ment sensitivities to the use of ethnic differences are      Burundian soldiers. On 20 February, President
seriously threaten the livelihoods of Ju/’hoansi San     according to AI.                                          understandable given the 1994 genocide perpetrated           Ahmed offered to introduce Sharia law in exchange
people in their ancestral land as well as the diverse       Nigeria’s 140 million people are nearly evenly         against the Tutsi minority, the state’s ethnic policy        for a truce. However, in April and May, fresh fight-
wildlife found in the area, including a number of        divided between Christians, who predominate in            may also conceal hierarchies and discrimination              ing in and around Mogadishu led thousands to
endangered species, the report said.                     the south, and Muslims, primarily in the north.           against vulnerable minorities such as the Batwa and          flee in a new wave of displacement. According to
   In August 2009, The Namibian reported that the        In July 2009, four days of rioting was ignited by         women from minority groups.                                  the Norwegian Internal Displacement Monitoring
Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), a Namibian com-           Boko Haram, an Islamic sect opposed to Western               While Rwanda’s 1994 conflict pitted the Hutu              Centre, up to 1.3 million Somalis remained dis-
munity organization, condemned the exploitation          education, medicine and values in Borno, Kano             and Tutsi ethnic groups against each other, MRG              placed in early 2009.
of the Himba minority by a Swedish reality TV            and Yobe, in northern Nigeria; 800 people (mainly         has reported that Rwanda’s minority Batwa popula-               Al Shabab captured most parts of the country
show, whose depiction of the community was con-          Boko Haram supporters and three Christian pastors)        tion also suffered mass killings. But they were not          including Mogadishu and the south and central
demned as ‘derogatory’ and in contravention of the       were confirmed killed. The rioting, which initially       recognized in post-conflict reparations frameworks           regions. Civilians continued to be indiscriminate
principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of        targeted police and government bases, also led to         in Rwanda. In May 2009 the UN Human Rights                   victims of the conflict. MRG field research in 2009
Indigenous Peoples. (UNDRIP)                             extensive property losses, including the destruction      Committee, in its concluding observations on                 found minorities, including children, were recruited
   In 2008, the UN Committee for the Elimination         of government installations, according to a July          Rwanda’s Periodic Report, raised concerns about the          to fight by Al Shabab forces. Al Shabab imposed
of Racial Discrimination (CERD) expressed concern        report by the BBC.                                        non-recognition of the existence of minorities and           a harsh version of Islamic law in areas it captured.
about the high incidence of rape of San women by            Sharia (Islamic law) is already in force for           indigenous peoples in Rwanda, as well as reports             MRG research found that informal Sharia courts
members of other communities, and recommended            Muslims in 12 northern states, but the sect is fight-     that members of the Batwa community are victims              were imposing penalties of amputation and ston-
the launch of investigations. The Namibian state         ing to have it enforced more broadly in those states      of marginalization and discrimination.                       ing. AI said that there were several public execu-
has yet to carry out any proper investigations to        and to impose it throughout Nigeria, the BBC said.           Rwanda’s religious minorities have also suffered          tions, including the stoning of a 13-year-old girl
address gender-based violence perpetrated against        Twenty churches, police stations and prisons were         some discrimination. USCIRF reported in 2009 that            in Kismayu. Some reports said she was a member
San women.                                               burned before police captured Boko Haram’s leader,        members of Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to be               of the Tumal minority. In Brava, Al Shabab forces
                                                         Mohammed Yusuf. He was killed in detention.               detained by local authorities. Seventeen were arrested       destroyed Barawani shrines, desecrated tombs and
Nigeria                                                  According to news agency Al-Jazeera, the attacks          and imprisoned for up to one week after they declined,       detained sheiks for several days.
Nigeria is a diverse country of 250 ethnic groups.       had been in alleged retaliation for the burning of        for religious reasons, to participate in night patrols – a      Many killings targeting Christians occurred in
Managing these complex differences, which are            two mosques by Christian groups.                          community policing response to crime. However,               2009. According to Christian news agency Compass
often reinforced by religious divisions, is a sig-          The disproportionate use of force by the Nigerian      judges ruled in 2005 that members of the faith were          Direct, in September Omar Khalafe, 69, was shot
nificant challenge to the state. Social and political    military police against Boko Haram has been criti-        not required by any law to take part in the patrols.         dead by Al Shabab fighters at a checkpoint near
grievances have abounded since independence from         cized, however. This conflict came on the heels of           Government officials presiding over wedding               Merca, after he was found with 25 Bibles in Somali
Britain in 1960, often leading to serious conflicts.     another religious conflict in Jos ignited by political    ceremonies generally require couples to take an              in his possession. USCIRF reported that Christians
   In May 2009, clashes between the Joint Task           differences. In November 2008, more than 700 peo-         oath while touching the national flag. Jehovah’s             keep a low profile, only worshipping in house
Force (JTF) set up by the Nigerian government            ple were killed in Jos, the capital of Plateau State,     Witnesses object to this on religious grounds, mak-          churches. Converts to Christianity have also been
to combat kidnappings by armed groups in Delta           when a political feud over a local election degener-      ing it difficult for its members to marry legally.           attacked.
State, in the south-west of Nigeria, led to two weeks    ated into bloody confrontation between Christians         Some find placing their hands on a Bible on top of              The impact of increasing Islamic fundamental-
of fighting between the JTF and militia groups. AI       and Muslims. Violence erupted again in early 2010.        the flag is an acceptable alternative.                       ism on women in Somalia is clear. In April, CNN

64                                              Africa                         State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                              Africa                                           65
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
reported that Al Shabab ordered women in Baidoa
to cover their bodies and heads from view or risk
                                                        sometimes members of the Puntland police, army
                                                        or security service. MRG research has found they          ‘We are                                                    threat to their safety.
                                                                                                                                                                                Another woman, this time from a noble clan,
a jail term, and prescribed the specific colours for
such clothing. It is not clear yet how this order
                                                        have great difficulty in obtaining access to justice,
                                                        with police often refusing to investigate minority        considered                                                 describes the consequences of marrying a man
                                                                                                                                                                             from the saab. She says that although she knew

                                                                                                                  inferiors and
has affected women from minority groups in the          complaints, including allegations of rape. Where                                                                     the risk of marrying her husband, ‘destiny is more
country, but it curtails women’s right to privacy and   customary law is applied, minority elders must                                                                       important than anything else …’ They married
bodily integrity. Speaking to the New York Times in     negotiate compensation with their majority coun-                                                                     secretly in a nearby town in 2009, but have been
September, President Ahmed indicated that most
Somali women already wear such veils.
                                                        terparts, and, following this, submit the decision
                                                        to the courts, which close the case with no further
                                                                                                                  no one wants                                               living in a state of anguish since her family found
                                                                                                                                                                             out about their wedding. The bride told MRG:

                                                        investigation or judicial action. Minority members
                                                        have reported ongoing discrimination in such cases.       to marry us’                                               ‘My life became unbearable when my family got to know
Regions that had begun to show signs of pursu-          In February 2009, a 16-year-old from a minority                                                                      about my marriage. I was beaten up by my family who
ing a path of sustainable change faltered in 2009.      was killed in a fight in Bosasso. He was held down                                                                   had my husband imprisoned. The police officers tried
The Somaliland Republic in Hargeisa failed to           by a group from the majority community, and               Inter-clan marriage in Somaliland is still a cause         their best to mediate and explained to my family that
conduct scheduled elections. Despite generally          killed with a piece of glass. The compensation given      of violent conflict, MRG researchers in the                our religion did not forbid inter-marriages. But there
greater awareness and implementation of minority        was 70 camels (where 100 are customary for the            region have found.                                         was no way to convince them. The police decided to keep
rights compared to the rest of the country, progress    life of a member of the majority community) and                                                                      my husband in jail as a way to protect him from further
was limited in 2009 by government inaction and          cash of 200,000 shillings, where the normal rate is                                                                  retaliation. At last, he was freed after the intervention of
the persistence of negative social attitudes towards    300,000 shillings. The case was settled and closed        Compared to southern Somalia, Somaliland is con-           others of his relatives.’
minorities among members of the majority clans.         by the court.                                             sidered to be relatively safe from inter- and intra-clan
Access to justice remains difficult for minorities,        The ongoing situation of Somali peoples includ-        violence; the last clan conflicts were resolved in 1997.   Despite the adversity that they face, she and her
who include Yibro clan peoples and the Gaboye           ing its most vulnerable minorities was worsened at        However, despite this comparative stability, violence      husband now live together. She says:
occupational group. Political participation is also     the end of 2009 by severe drought. More detailed          against members of minority groups is still prevalent.
an issue. However, extreme anti-minority views are      information on Somalia’s minorities, including first-        Minority occupational groups, collectively known        ‘I live in a constant state of panic and tension. I am
rarely heard in public; and where they are, they are    hand testimony, can be found in MRG’s forthcom-           as saab or boon in Somaliland, are faced with par-         afraid that my family members will kill me because
criticized by the mainstream media.                     ing (2010) report on the country.                         ticular prejudice. They are considered to be inferior      they have already done all that they could. Sometimes
   Intermarriage between those from ‘noble clans’                                                                 to majority groups, who are referred to as ‘noble’         they attack me in public places and people of goodwill
and those from occupational groups has increased        Sudan                                                     clans. This prejudice extends to customs including         have rescued me. I do not know when this nonsense
in recent years. However, women have reported           Despite the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement            marriage. Members of noble clans are absolutely for-       will end, only Allah the Almighty knows.’
being beaten by their families if they undertake such   (CPA), which ended the two-decades-long civil             bidden to marry members of the saab.
a commitment. Some have told MRG they are in            war between North and South Sudan, stable peace              In 2009, one saab woman told MRG how                    Sometimes the violence towards couples of such
fear for their lives. MRG has serious concerns about    in the country remains elusive. Sudan has failed to       her marriage to a man from a noble clan ended              marriages can escalate and affect those around
stability in Somaliland and the safety of minori-       heed calls to address issues of identity and participa-   violently when his family found out about their            them. A 17-year-old saab girl recalls watching wed-
ties. Many remain in camps for internally displaced     tion – on both a political and economic level –           relationship. His relatives beat her and forced her        ding celebrations of a woman from a noble clan
people.                                                 concerning land rights, justice and non-discrimi-         husband to divorce her. She continued:                     and a man from the saab on her way home from
                                                        nation. A December 2009 ICG report said, ‘The                                                                        school. As she was watching, big cars drove up to
Puntland                                                failure to foster democratic transformation in the        ‘they identified me as the major problem, the one          the party and armed men got out. When she saw
Minorities in Puntland, who include Yibro and           North has also undermined the chances for political       tempting their son. I was terribly injured and my          the men, she started to run out of fear and ignored
Gaboye, as well as Bantu, live in extreme condi-        settlement in Darfur and exacerbated tensions in          family had to take me to hospital. The elders met and      them when they told her to stop. She says,
tions, and are subject to discrimination by police,     other parts of the country.’                              I was given compensation. Their message was clear:
the judiciary and members of majority clans. This          On 4 March 2009, the pre-trial chamber of the          “Take your compensation and leave our son alone.” We       ‘they shot me in my arm. That was the last time I went
is the case both for groups born in the region and      International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest       are considered inferiors and no one wants to marry us.’    to school. I am now afraid of going out. My arm still
Bantu, many of whom are IDPs from southern              warrant against Sudanese President Omar El Bashir                                                                    hurts and it is not functioning properly. All I remember
Somalia, and live in camps. Minorities also experi-     for war crimes and crimes against humanity com-           Because of such violent reactions from their fami-         is that I fainted. I do not know what happened after
ence barriers to political participation from major-    mitted in Darfur. He was the first head of state to       lies, couples with partners from different clans often     that. I heard that other people were also wounded.’ p
ity clans. MRG research has found that violations       be so charged by the ICC. In response, the govern-        choose to leave their homes to start a new life
against minority women and children in Puntland         ment of Sudan immediately revoked the permits of          together. However, eloping is not always possible          Edited by Rahnuma Hassan from MRG’s
are widespread. A persistent pattern of rape of         13 international humanitarian aid organizations and       and some couples choose to remain despite the              forthcoming report on Somalia.
minority IDP women in Bosasso exists. Perpetrators      closed down three national organizations. The clo-
include men from majority communities and               sures came without prior notice and the government

66                                             Africa                         State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                            Africa                                                    67
                                                                                and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
did not allow a transition period in order to ensure     Right: Mundari people at a cattle camp in Central
continuity of supply of emergency aid in Darfur and      Equatoria Province, Southern Sudan, October
other parts of Sudan.                                    2009. J. B. Russell/Panos.
   Violence against minorities, which began in
Kordofan in 2007, continued in 2009. In February,        Christians continue to suffer discrimination from
local members of the Popular Defence Force (PDF),        government permissions departments concerning
aligned with the governing National Congress             the right to build places of worship. Conversion
Party (NCP), threatened to kill a local Presbyterian     from Islam is a crime punishable by death. Life for
Church leader, according to the UN. In March,            converts to Christianity from Islam is made so dif-
PDF members interrupted a church service and             ficult that they often flee Sudan, USCIRF said.
threatened further destruction after breaking the           Public order laws in Sudan, inspired by strict
cross on the church’s roof, USCIRF said. In the          interpretation of Sharia, impacted on women.
same month, a Catholic church in Shatt Dammam            According to the Strategic Initiative on Women in
and an Episcopal church in Shatt Mazarik were tar-       the Horn of Africa (SIWHA), a regional women’s
gets of arson attacks. According to USCIRF, church       rights NGO, these laws impose ‘severe penalties
leaders reported to the UN that the crimes were not      for behavior which does not cause loss or damage
investigated by Kadugli police. At the end of the        to other persons’ property or life; behaviour which
month, following fighting between the PDF and            would be permissible in most states in Africa’.
the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the           While the ACHPR in Curtis Francis Doebbler v.
Southern Kordofan State Legislative Council held a       Sudan indicted Sudan for its Criminal Code, which
special session to address the mounting religious and    sanctioned public lashings of women in order to
ethnic tensions in the area.                             secure chastity by limiting public contact of the
   In Southern Sudan, inter-tribal conflict in Jonglei   two sexes, and ordered the state to review the law,
and Warrap states claimed more than 300 lives. A         by 2009 Sudan had done nothing to ensure that
complex mix of factors, including access to cattle       its laws complied with the African Charter. In two
grazing, which nomadic communities must have to          high-profile cases, Lubna Hussein, a journalist
survive, as well as cattle raiding and mutual suspi-     attached to the UN in Khartoum, was convicted
cion between ethnic groups and political groupings,      of the crime of ‘indecent or immoral dress’ when
saw clashes between Bari and Mundari communities         she wore a pair of trousers, an outfit which is worn
in April.                                                daily by women across African cities. For this, she
   The Abyei dispute over natural resource shar-         was fined £200. Although the Sudanese government
ing in central Sudan displaced over 50,000 people        (in its third periodic report under the International
in 2008, when fighting broke out between the             Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) claimed to
Sudanese army and SPLA forces. Following this the        have abolished Public Order Courts in 2007, in fact
NCP and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement           this authority sentenced Lubna to caning.
agreed to accept as final and binding a ruling by           In November 2009, a 16-year-old South Sudanese
an arbitral tribunal in The Hague. The decision of       Christian girl, Silva Kashif, was sentenced under the
the International Arbitral Tribunal on Abyei was         same decency law to be lashed 50 times for wearing a
announced in July 2009, placing the Hellig oil field     mini-skirt. In media interviews the girl said the skirt
in particular outside the Abyei area. International      came below the knee. Such laws affect non-Muslims
observers said the implementation of the ruling          as well and serve to increase the religious polarization
would provide a ‘litmus test’ of the will of both        between the various Sudanese regions.
sides to implement the CPA. Some believe that if
key elements are not properly implemented, and the       Darfur
international community does not help to ensure          The situation in Darfur deteriorated further in
this, Sudan risks a return to all out civil war.         early 2009. Attacks on villages and against the
                                                         UN-African Union joint Mission in Darfur
Religious minorities                                     (UNAMID), led to further displacements in
In the north, all Christians and followers of other      the troubled region. The Internal Displacement
traditional religions are subject to Sharia law.         Monitoring Centre, an NGO, reported that the

68                                              Africa                         State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities   Africa   69
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
total number of IDPs in Darfur was 2.7 million in          stand towards religion. Sharia in personal matters        the region. This resulted in deaths and destruction     and revealing the depth of its support for homopho-
January 2009. It said that from January to March           was discontinued from application in courts and the       of property, and eroded community support for the       bia in Africa.’ However, while most orthodox reli-
a further 65,000 people were displaced. Aid efforts        Kadhi’s courts were abolished immediately after inde-     disarmament programme. It also led to the suspen-       gious groups support the legislation, they are opposed
and strategies to tackle the difficult conditions many     pendence, ushering in an era of legal universalism.       sion of funding to the programme by the main            to the penal measures proposed, particularly the
face are being affected, and this is compounded by            This refusal to accommodate the Islamic judicial       bilateral donor to the project, Norway.                 use of capital punishment. These developments, as
the ongoing threats to peoples’ safety, which, in          system, particularly in Dar es Salaam and the islands        Batwa, one of the most vulnerable communities        pointed out earlier in this chapter, generally portend
turn, leads to waves of displacement, the report said.     of Zanzibar and Pemba, historically the regions with      in the world, witnessed further deprivation of their    ill for pluralism in Uganda.
                                                           the highest concentration of Muslims in the country,      access rights in the Bwindi Mgahinga National
Tanzania                                                   increased the resonance of demands for separation         Park when DRC, Rwanda and Uganda signed an              Western Sahara
In its pursuit of foreign direct investment in the agri-   from the mainland in 2009. Notable is the fact that       agreement to create a transboundary biosphere out       The struggle for self-determination of Western
cultural, mining and tourism sectors, the Tanzanian        the national anthem of Tanzania has on occasion been      of the national parks that cover the Virunga land-      Sahara continued in 2009 despite Morocco’s hard-
government carried out violent evictions of minority       shunned by the Zanzibar House of Representatives in       scape. This decision, like many before it, was taken    ening position. In 2007, the UN attempt to break
groups. These were accompanied by rapes and other          favour of their original anthem and sporadic use of the   with no consultation or involvement of Batwa. The       the deadlock over Western Sahara brought Polisario
gender-based violence against the Maasai indigenous        Zanzibar flag has also re-emerged in 2009, according      Benet Lobby Group reported that a decision of the       and Moroccan authorities together for the first time
community in Loliondo in August and September              to interviews conducted for this report. In May 2008,     Ugandan High Court to restore the ancestral rights      in ten years. But two years on, this spirit of open
2009, the Chair of the African Commission’s Working        12 elders from Pemba presented a memorandum to            of the community over Mt Elgon National Park            dialogue seems to have dissipated. UN Security
Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in             Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the head of the UN dele-         in 2005 remained largely unimplemented by the           Council Resolution 1754 in April 2007 called
Africa reported. The government leased out part of the     gation in Dar es Salaam. The key point of the memo-       state, even though about 1,000 of their members in      for the two parties to hold unconditional talks to
community’s land to the Sovereign Emir of the United       randum was secession from Tanzania. As was expect-        Kapchorwa district have been temporarily allowed        achieve ‘a mutually acceptable political solution
Arab Emirates (UAE) through the OBT Corporation            ed, Dar es Salaam perceived these actions as treason-     to settle in the park.                                  providing for the self-determination of the people
to carry out safari hunting in Loliondo, NGO Survival      ous, arresting and prosecuting the 12. Zanzibar’s            Uganda’s 2005 constitutional amendment that          of Western Sahara’. However, Security Council
International said.                                        discontent, although often framed in religious terms,     created the new Equal Opportunities Commission          Resolution 1871 of April 2009 effectively down-
   This was the latest in a series of such evictions.      appears to be linked to the unequal share of revenue      (EOC) mandated the government to establish it           graded the previous resolution and urged the parties
Land in another village in Ngorongoro, Soitsambu,          resources between the island and mainland, especially     within a year. The EOC was intended to address          ‘to hold small, informal talks in preparation for a
was allocated to Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL)          after the discovery of natural gas in Zanzibar.           discrimination and to ensure that affirmative action    fifth round of negotiations’.
to facilitate barley cultivation in 2003. This was                                                                   for marginalized groups is promoted and observed.          The apathy of the international commu-
opposed by the Maasai community. TBL eventually            Uganda                                                    Despite passage of the 2007 Equal Opportunities         nity towards Western Saharan demands appears
leased the land to Tanzania Conservation Limited, a        In September 2009, a three-day riot in Kampala            Act, the Commissioners were only appointed by the       unchanged, particularly after the European Union
subsidiary of Thomson Tanzania Ltd, for 96 years,          led to the deaths of at least 50 people and the arrest    president in August 2009. While it is still too early   (EU), in May 2009, launched fresh negotiations with
IWGIA reported in 2009.                                    of 600 others. Members of the ancient Buganda             to assess its strengths, the establishment of the EOC   Morocco, reviving agreements which had previously
   The Barbaig community, another minority group           kingdom rioted over the state’s refusal to allow their    provides an important institutional mechanism           been cancelled. These focused on the fisheries sector;
whose land was annexed by the state for private            traditional leader, the Kabaka, to visit a part of the    which minorities in Uganda, including Batwa, can        while Moroccan waters are relatively rich in fishery
tourism development, has consistently refused to           kingdom. The Buganda community has continued to           use to advocate for recognition more visibly.           resources, the most abundant fisheries are found off
move from the land. They have experienced con-             demand a semi-autonomous federal unit for itself, a          In 2009, the president, contrary to the principles   the coast of Western Sahara. The Representative for
stant repression by security forces. In April 2008,        demand largely driven by the quest for the restoration    laid out in the Constitution, continued to cre-         Europe of Western Sahara’s Polisario exiled govern-
14 Barbaig elders were arrested and incarcerated for       of Buganda land annexed by the state after the aboli-     ate new districts defined on an ethnic basis, the       ment claimed in a letter in to the EU Commissioner
refusing to accede to an order for the relocation of       tion of kingdoms during the first Obote government.       Ugandan newspaper New Vision said.                      on Fisheries and Maritime Affairs in May 2009 that,
45 families out of the leased land.                           The discovery of oil early in 2009 in Lake Albert         The Ugandan parliament in 2009 considered            ‘Morocco’s key tactic to illegally maintain its occupa-
   In the three cases, the Village Land Act of 1992,       within the traditional territory of another kingdom,      enacting a law that would reaffirm penalties for        tion of Western Sahara is to include the Western
which was meant to grant security of tenure to com-        the Bunyoro Kitara, is also already creating serious      homosexuality and criminalize the ‘promotion of         Sahara waters within its fishing areas under Moroccan
munities, seems to have been flouted with impunity,        tensions with the national government.                    homosexuality’. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of          control in order to involve European interests in its
mainly for tourism and mining. In the meantime,               Minority groups in Uganda remain highly dis-           2009 targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender    military illegal occupation and the permanent viola-
the Wildlife Conservation Law enacted in 2008              advantaged. The Batwa, Benet and pastoralists in          (LGBT) Ugandans, their defenders and anyone else        tion of international law.’
grants powers to the Minister in Charge of Wildlife        Karamoja, for instance, held no important chieftain-      who failed to report them to the authorities, whether       A European-wide coalition of pro-Sahrawi activ-
to declare any land, including village land, a wildlife    cies, meaning their access to political participation     they are inside or outside of Uganda (International     ists, united in the ‘Fish elsewhere campaign’ under
protection area.                                           is limited. In northern Uganda, the integrated            Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission                 the leadership of AI, has underlined that the EU–
   Compared to some other African countries with a         disarmament programme of the state, which for the         [IGLHRC], 2009). These homophobic attacks are           Morocco fisheries deal in its current form is con-
Muslim minority, in Tanzania the debate on Sharia          first time had been designed with the Karamojong’s        reinforced by dominant religious views. Hence in        trary to international law and the UN peace process.
has taken a different dimension, largely due to inde-      involvement, was abandoned in 2008, when the              March 2009, the IGLHRC pointed out that, ‘The              In order to clamp down on civil society demands
pendent Tanganyika’s state policy to take a secularist     state mounted another brutal security operation in        American religious right is finally showing its hand    for self-determination, Morocco has had recourse

70                                               Africa                          State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                         Africa                                              71
                                                                                   and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
‘Once villages are                                          Irriri, a sub-county of Karamoja, has become a
                                                         growing population centre, as people settle in large
                                                                                                                    means that there are few other means to procure
                                                                                                                    food. Communities like these rely on the UN
                                                                                                                                                                            constitutional reform and transitional justice rolled
                                                                                                                                                                            on. However, these processes may yield little in an

disarmed, they                                           permanent groupings for reasons of security. Moses,
                                                         the sub-county chief of Irriri, believes that one of
                                                                                                                    World Food Programme to provide relief; many
                                                                                                                    cannot register for food aid, however, because
                                                                                                                                                                            environment marked by intense political competi-
                                                                                                                                                                            tion between the coalition partners, and where

are not provided
                                                         the biggest problems faced by communities is that          of incorrect population figures provided by the         ZANU PF continues to dominate the control of
                                                         of insecurity and conflict. Despite government             government. Even if registering for food aid is         security infrastructure which it manipulates at will.
                                                         attempts to increase security, the situation has not       possible, there is no guarantee that the food aid          USCIRF reported that Anglican Christians
with any extra                                           improved. Although the government has attempted
                                                         to disarm groups, it has not provided them with
                                                                                                                    will be sufficient, as many villagers complain
                                                                                                                    that raids often occur soon after delivery and
                                                                                                                                                                            from the Church of the Province of Central
                                                                                                                                                                            Africa (CPCA) were arrested, harassed and pre-

protection’                                              alternative livelihood strategies which they can pur-
                                                         sue in order to dissuade them from continuing to
                                                                                                                    again the communities are left with nothing.
                                                                                                                       Women in particular identify other issues
                                                                                                                                                                            vented from attending church by the government.
                                                                                                                                                                            Police continued to disrupt Anglican church
                                                         raid other villages. Another problem has been that,        as well, regarding basic services such as schools       services and sanctioned the seizure of property
                                                         once villages are disarmed, they are not being pro-        and access to water. They say there has been            by splinter groups. They arrested parishioners,
Samia Liaquat Ali Kan talks to sub-county                vided with any protection, leaving them vulnerable         an inadequate provision of good-quality educa-          interrogated priests and lay leaders, and locked
chief Moses in Irriri, Uganda, about issues faced        to attacks from other groups. Inevitably, they need        tion for themselves and their children. Hidden          the doors of churches to keep worshippers away.
by pastoralist communities and the lack of               to procure weapons to protect themselves and the           fees mean it is difficult for families to afford to     Religious leaders who were critical of government
impact government policies have had on their             cycle of violence continues.                               send their children to school; often schools are        policies, who spoke out against human rights
lives in the past ten years.                                Discussions with the communities confirm that           located far away from the communities, which            abuses committed by the government, and who
                                                         insecurity is a major concern. People feel that the        makes it very hard for younger children to be           provided humanitarian assistance to citizens dur-
                                                         government has not been able to protect them from          able to attend. Access to water is still a problem,     ing a nearly three-month ban on NGOs, were
The semi-nomadic pastoralist communities of              armed groups and this has resulted in people being         as women have to travel for miles in order to           also harassed, the report said. The Standard, a
Karamoja have long been marginalized from main-          killed and women being raped. They also men-               collect water and firewood. This is a time-con-         Zimbabwean daily newspaper, reported on 3 May
stream political decision-making processes in Uganda.    tion that, as violence has become a part of life, the      suming activity and also dangerous, as there is         2009 that an Assemblies of God church in north-
They suffer from extreme poverty and struggle to         inability to protect one’s family signifies emascula-      always the risk of being attacked or kidnapped.         ern Matabeleland was closed down ‘as its resident
maintain their traditions as wider socio-economic        tion and can lead to social problems like alcoholism       In terms of health care, there has been some            pastor fled after being tortured by Zanu-PF sup-
changes have had a negative impact on the sustain-       and increased domestic violence.                           improvement as women receive free medicine              porters on suspicion that he was an MDC sympa-
ability of their lifestyle. One central problem these       Another major concern is around access to food.         through NGOs; however they still find that              thiser’. Pius Ncube (then Archbishop of Bulawayo
communities face is the outbreak of armed violence       Attacks by other communities and cattle rustling           government health clinics are often too far away        Catholic Church and one of President Mugabe’s
as groups compete for scarce resources.                  have resulted in a decrease of numbers of cattle over      from them to access.                                    most outspoken critics), was assaulted by security
   Past governments have done little to make a dif-      the years and this means that communities can no              Hearing from these communities makes it              personnel and finally forced to resign through
ference to Karamojong people, they considered pas-       longer rely on their traditional pastoralist liveli-       clear that the last ten years of government poli-       negative state campaigning including allegations of
toralism to be ‘backward’. This prejudiced view has      hoods for survival. In addition, seasonal rains have       cies specifically focusing on poverty reduction         ‘immoral’ behaviour. p
meant that the government policies that do address       decreased in the last decade, and the areas of East        have had little positive effect on their lives or
issues faced by pastoralists are often not imple-        Africa in which pastoralist communities reside have        livelihoods. p
mented properly, or are inappropriate or unsuccess-      increasingly suffered from drought. For settled com-
ful. An example of such a policy is the disarmament      munities, farming and food production has become           Text edited by Rahnuma Hassan from MRG’s
attempts by the government that have been going          increasingly difficult, as drought results in crop fail-   forthcoming report on Poverty Reduction
on since the 1980s.                                      ure and the death of livestock. Insecurity in the area     Strategy Papers

to its nationality law. Aminatou Haidar, a vocal         tion of a government of national unity late in 2008.       foreign enterprises and the grabbing of white-owned
human rights defender was in 2009 refused the right      The international community’s response to re-engage        farms has not abated in 2009, even after the coali-
of entry into Western Sahara by Moroccan authori-        with Zimbabwe in 2009 has at least rekindled the           tion agreement between President Mugabe and
ties. Following a hunger strike of 34 days, she was      hopes of a nation whose population was besieged by         opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai took effect.
allowed to return.                                       myriad socio-economic challenges, including the near          While 2009 was expected to record a marked
                                                         collapse of the education and health sectors.              change in the political culture of the state, repres-
Zimbabwe                                                    The white minority continues to be threatened in        sion still informs the Zimbabwean government’s
A collective sigh of relief marked the signing of the    Zimbabwe, although overall they remain economi-            response to politics. By fits and starts rather than
global national accord in Zimbabwe and the forma-        cally advantaged. The wave of nationalization of           deliberate and consistent planning, the processes of

72                                              Africa                         State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                         Africa                                             73
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
    Alaska (US)


 N O R T H


      Hawaiian Islands (US)
                                       UNITED STATES


                                                                                    DOMINICAN REP.
                                                                                                               A T L A N T I C

                                                                                                                     O C E A N
                                                                                                                                 Maurice Bryan
                                                            BELIZE                       Puerto Rico (US)
                                              GUATEMALA      HONDURAS
                                              EL SALVADOR      NICARAGUA

                                                       COSTA RICA
                                                                                                          Guyane (Fr.)





                               S O U T H
                                                                            CHILE                    URUGUAY
                              P A C I F I C
            he Americas region stretches from the            human trafficking and threats against ordinary              Some observers argue that attempts to hasten         abuses, environmental degradation and climate
            South to the North Pole and includes             citizens and human rights defenders continued to         the process of change, particularly in Honduras,        change. Indigenous and African descendant lands
            large populations with varied cultures and       occur or increased during 2009. This was obvious         may have contributed to regional destabilization.       continued to be usurped without consultation for
ethnicities in North, Central and South America,             not only in the conflict areas of rural Colombia         According to reports from the Inter-American            petroleum extraction, precious metal mining, log-
and the Caribbean Basin. Among the hemisphere’s              but also in Brazil’s favelas, the rainforests of Peru    Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the polit-          ging and large-scale agro-industry, such as beef
hundreds of millions are numerous indigenous peo-            and Ecuador, and the urban centres, border               ical turmoil that ensued in that country included       production and oil palm and soybean plantations,
ples, as well as African descendant populations and          towns and resource extraction zones of Central           notable instances of disregard for key international    mostly for export to wealthy countries. This involves
descendants of immigrants of European, Middle                American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras           human rights principles. The overall negative affect    massive deforestation, biodiversity elimination, sin-
Eastern and Asian-Pacific origin.                            and Mexico. Most of these areas are inhabited by         of the political turmoil was directly felt by minor-    gle-cropping, chemical spraying or leaching of toxic
   The battle to retain or reclaim ancestral lands and       significant numbers of indigenous peoples and            ity communities when widespread international           mining chemicals. Regional environmental and
cultures and protect basic rights continued to be            African descendants.                                     condemnation led to a freeze in the flow of interna-    indigenous rights activists continued to call for more
the primary focus of most indigenous and African                                                                      tional development assistance to Honduras. These        initiatives that examine the cultures of indigenous
descendant communities during 2009. These                    Socio-political change                                   financial sanctions held back efforts that could        and African descendant communities, to see what
populations remained the most socio-economically             The societies of the Americas continued to undergo       have helped in advancing national Millennium            lessons these may contain for sustainable environ-
marginalized in the region and under threat of ter-          profound political changes during 2009. There            Development Goals (MDGs), especially in light of        mental management and coexistence.
ritorial dispossession. Spokespersons for community          was a notable increase in political participation        the current global economic downturn.                      During 2009, the region also continued to be
councils, especially in areas such as the Pacific coast      by indigenous peoples and African descendants in                                                                 affected by unprecedented heavy rains, landslides,
of Colombia are now increasingly describing their            countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay,    Economic change                                         floods and droughts that occurred in countries
situation in terms of ‘population cleansing’.                Venezuela and the USA, including successful efforts      After having reached historically high levels during    from Argentina to Mexico, with the impact on
   The efforts of the affected African descendant            to increase levels of representation at both local and   the previous decade, money sent to Latin American       the human population made worse by the existing
and indigenous populations to achieve redress by             national government levels.                              and Caribbean (LAC) countries by citizens abroad        economic disparities and marginalization of African
appealing to existing laws and statutes continued to            The introduction of new ‘pluri-cultural’ constitu-    continued to decline significantly in 2009. The         descendant and indigenous communities. Among
be met mostly by intransigence or indifference by            tions in Bolivia and Ecuador, and the coming to          World Bank reported that these remittance flows         those most affected have been Guatemalan indig-
state and private entities. In some instances, such as       power of the first African-American president in US      dropped by as much as 12 per cent compared to           enous peoples, who have been suffering the effects
the indigenous protests against resource extraction          history were among the most obvious examples of          2008. The countries most affected by this include El    of the worst drought in 30 years. In addition to
in the Peruvian Amazon, this resulted in notably             regional political shifts. The so-called ‘Obama fac-     Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and,       mining activities, the bulk of Guatemala’s land area
violent confrontations with state authorities.               tor’ may also have set the tone for a general change     to a lesser extent, Bolivia and Ecuador. According      is devoted to large-scale agro-businesses, involving
                                                             in perceptions in the rest of the region, especially     to World Bank data, remittances accounted for over      the production of coffee, sugar and palm oil. With
Rights compliance                                            with regard to greater participation by minorities       10 per cent of GDP in 2007. For Guyana, Haiti           a predominantly indigenous population, Guatemala
Official intractability often results from an appar-         and indigenous peoples in public life.                   and Honduras, remittances accounted for over 20         also has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition
ent disregard for, or unwillingness to comply with,             The increasing participation of indigenous            per cent of GDP. In Mexico, although remittances        in the LAC region, and the fourth highest in the
legal norms designed to safeguard the rights of              peoples and African descendants at the national          contribute only 3 per cent to the overall economy,      world.
vulnerable indigenous or African descendant com-             political level in countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador,   this translates into more than US $20 billion annu-        Guatemala experienced in 2009 two consecutive
munities. This is perhaps reflective of broader issues       Nicaragua and Venezuela also had an international        ally – much of it going to regions with significant     climate-induced low harvests in the country’s eight
in the region, regarding the upholding of laws, and          dimension. During 2009, this resulted in the con-        indigenous and African descendant populations.          mainly indigenous corn-growing regions. This led
individual and collective rights in general. The 2009        tinued expansion and strengthening of regional              The fall in remittances had a marked direct effect   to a sharp rise in food prices, which was having an
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)                  alliances and regionally oriented institutions, such     on indigenous and African descendant communities.       enormous impact by the end of 2009 on the 2.5
report on human development in Central America               as ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for the People          Regardless of their educational level, members of       million predominantly Mayan indigenous peoples
indicated that state authorities, as well as citizens in     of Our America) and UNASUR (Southern Cone                indigenous and African descendant populations have      in 21 of the country’s provinces. Large numbers
the region, are increasingly concerned about greater         Alliance). Member states of these blocs have all         long found it much easier to obtain decent incomes      of indigenous children in drought-hit subsistence
illegality, the militarization of civilian life, and wide-   publicly affirmed their commitment to greater            by working abroad rather than in their home coun-       farming areas began to show all the classic signs of
spread insecurity and violence.                              inclusion of indigenous and minority popula-             tries. Remitted funds therefore represent a signifi-    extreme malnutrition and starvation.
   Regional charters and bodies such as the Inter-           tions, and improvements in the lives of the least        cant portion of the annual household income in             One possibly related factor is that indigenous
American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) have                 advantaged in their societies. The ongoing process       these communities, helping many to remain above         peoples and African descendants are granted
explicitly pointed out the close connection between          – particularly among ALBA members – includes an          the poverty line.                                       only limited participation – at best – in decisions
the promotion and protection of human rights and             effort by the respective governments to re-found                                                                 affecting the use of their land and the allocation
the ability to guarantee the rule of law. In a growing       the nation-state through constitutional reforms that     Human rights and the environment, including             of national resources. This is despite the exist-
number of virtually uncontrollable rural and urban           allow for more direct citizen input into decision-       climate change                                          ence of a range of local regional and international
areas, unlawful acts such as disappearances, torture,        making at all levels, via referenda as well as local     Events in the region in 2009 continued to demon-        instruments that include International Labour
kidnappings for ransom, extra-judicial killings,             governance initiatives.                                  strate the direct connection between human rights       Organization (ILO) Convention No. 169 and

76                                              Americas                           State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                         Americas                                           77
                                                                                     and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
                                                         Special report
Peoples (UNDRIP) that guarantee indigenous
peoples such rights. These norms have already influ-

enced important precedent-setting IACtHR rulings,
such as Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua and Saramaka v.
Suriname, which stand as the first legally binding
decisions by an international tribunal to uphold
the collective land and resource rights of African
                                                         of discovery
descendant communities and indigenous peoples.
However, the fifth Summit of the Americas, in
                                                         and canons
April 2009, which was attended by heads of all
the regional states except Cuba, did little to ensure    of recovery:
that the member states’ human rights obligations
would be met, or that there would be strong efforts      religious
to safeguard the rights of African descendant and
indigenous populations in the future, according to
an analysis by Amnesty International (AI).

The indigenous population in Argentina numbers
between 700,000 and 1.5 million. These figures           indigenous
include groups such as the Aymara, Chiriguano,
Guaraní/Mbyá, Mapuche, Quechua, Toba and                 American
Wichi/Mataco. Despite constitutional recognition
of their ethnic and cultural identity, and the exist-
ence of laws for advancing bilingual education and
communal ownership of ancestral lands, little real
progress to safeguard their rights was achieved in
                                                         belief systems
2009. Responsibility for the implementation of
these principles rests with Argentina’s 23 provincial    Even though the everyday realities in the socie-
governments, but only 11 provinces have constitu-        ties of the Americas play out as essentially secu-
tions recognizing indigenous rights.                     lar economic, political and social dramas, there
   During 2009, Argentina’s indigenous peoples           are significant religious influences that underpin
continued to have little say in the use of their lands   and drive the plots and dialogues. The fact that
or the management of their natural resources. As         various acts of these dramas have had a notably
a result, protests continued in many provinces           adverse impact on the well-being of the region’s
over attempts to dispossess or evict indigenous          indigenous and African descendant populations         governments are aiming to introduce constitutional       Above: Afro-Colombian boys at the entrance to the
communities from their ancestral lands to make way       may be an indication that what is in play is not      reform that would be more reflective of indigenous       remote village of Pie de Pato in the Choco region of
for tourism or large-scale petroleum, mining and         only rights issues related to disparity and exclu-    cultures, beliefs and land-holding traditions. The       northern Colombia. Moises Saman/Panos.
agro-industry projects. Indigenous organizations         sion, but also a virtually irreconcilable clash of    respective governments have also publicly expressed
such as 11 de Octubre Mapuche-Tehuelche                  belief systems.                                       interest in developing more reciprocal regional inter-   systems still operate among large swathes of indig-
Organization continued in 2009 to claim that their                                                             relationships. In MDG-linked sectors such as health,     enous descended peasant populations stretching from
constitutionally guaranteed rights to land ownership     Inclusive political environments                      education, economy and transport, governments are        Nicaragua, Panama and Colombia, through Peru and
and their title deeds were not being respected, and      Over the past eight years, Latin America has wit-     hoping that work on a regional level can be improved     Paraguay, to Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina. Many
that the sale of land with people living on it was       nessed the coming to power of a number of so-         through linkages with organizations such as ALBA.        of these practices are rooted in the traditional indig-
still occurring.                                         called ‘populist’ governments, especially in coun-       The willingness of indigenous and African             enous worldview and cosmology in which humans,
                                                         tries with large politically mobilized indigenous     descendant populations to support these governments      the environment and the entire cosmos are enmeshed
Mapuche claims                                           populations such as Bolivia and Ecuador. Besides      is probably based on the fact that many of the practi-   in a network of reciprocal relationships that also
An estimated 200,000 Mapuche (People of the              expressing doubts over globalized free trade, these   cal aspects of traditional indigenous communal value     includes a spiritual dimension.
Land) live in Patagonia, which encompasses the

78                                           Americas                      State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                          Americas                                            79
                                                                             and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
Special report

Doctrines of discovery                                   Intolerance                                                  the earth and all it contains. These beliefs were in stark   ognized during nineteenth-century state formation
Throughout the approximately 500-year history of         Of singular importance to adherents of the ‘religion         contrast to those of most pre-Christian traditional          and the establishment of private property laws in
state formation in the Americas, religious think-        of conquest’ were notions of the absolute rightness          indigenous societies – especially in the New World –         the Americas. Moreover, the indigenous and African
ing has been a key factor in the region’s evolution.     and superiority of the faith’s worldview and values.         and this could be regarded as lying at the root of the       descendant populations were completely excluded
From the outset, European colonial expansion into        They could cite as evidence the conquest itself, as          aforementioned irreconcilability of belief systems.          from any involvement in the formulation of policies
the Americas was a religious project, sanctioned and     well as the supposed social, economic and material                                                                        by the newly independent republics.
directed by the highest level of the Church hierarchy    accomplishments of the colonial order.                       Continuity                                                      Instead, all across the Americas it was deemed
in the form of hemispheric doctrines such as the            Consequently among the main characteristics of            Many traditional indigenous American religions are           necessary to attract additional immigrants from the
1493 Papal Bull Inter Caetera of Pope Alexander VI       New World colonial expansion was a highly intolerant         mainly earth-based, and generally encourage humans           colonizing cultures of Europe and elsewhere, who
and the Doctrine of Discovery. In addition, religious    approach to traditional indigenous and African belief        to be socially and environmentally reciprocal. To            shared the same religious views and would main-
fundamentalists such as Puritan Protestants were         systems. These were not respected and religious con-         varying degrees, this view continues to inform the           tain and expand the dominant value system. The
among the first settlers in the continental United       version of indigenous peoples and African descendants        thinking of many rural subsistence indigenous peoples        migrants were enticed with offers of large land hold-
States and the eastern Caribbean.                        specifically aimed at the total eradication of their tra-    and African descendant communities in the Americas,          ings, thereby sowing the seeds for current land claim
   According to the fifteenth-century Doctrine of        ditional belief structures, even if that also meant physi-   especially those that still mainly depend on the for-        conflicts in countries such as Argentina, Chile and
Discovery, any Christian European country that           cally eliminating the peoples and their cultures.            ests, rivers, and small-scale agriculture and fishing for    Paraguay during 2009.
‘discovered’ lands populated by non-Christians              In 2009, indigenous activists in countries such as        their livelihoods and that have had limited contact             In countries such as Guatemala, Peru and Mexico
could conquer and claim the territories, eliminate       Bolivia and the United States have therefore con-            with formal educational systems. For practical sur-          as well, the authorities continued during 2009 to
the populations and expropriate their possessions        tinued to argue that it is the workings of these doc-        vival reasons, they remain acutely aware of their need       come down heavily on indigenous communities that
and resources. Some would argue that it provided a       trines and belief systems in the contemporary secular        to function as guardians rather than as subjugators          challenged the ongoing illegal expropriation of their
clear licence for the enslavement, territorial dispos-   context that still constrain the goals and aspirations       of the land, which is still usually held in common.          land and resources by national governments for mul-
session, cultural disintegration and ethnocide of mil-   of indigenous peoples and African descendants and            Their activities are aimed at providing enough for           tinational corporate use. Activists across the region
lions of indigenous American and African people in       their efforts to control their natural resources, and to     their daily needs, with little non-seasonal surplus or       have come to regard most government officials as
the Americas.                                            preserve traditional cultures, lands and lives.              material accumulation. This self-sufficient vision has       agents who not only act on behalf of dominant for-
   Religious doctrines, and agents of the Church,           As evidence, they can point to the 1823 US                never accorded with either colonial or postcolonial          eign interests and wealthier countries, but also iden-
played a key role in ‘native civilizing projects’,       Supreme Court ruling that used the Doctrine of               mainstream thought in the Americas, which may have           tify more closely with these exploitative principles
as well as in policy and state development. Well         Discovery as the basis for its decision that Native          helped to contribute to the communities’ present-day         rather than with indigenous and African descendant
into the twentieth century in LAC countries,             Americans have only a right of occupancy to their            vulnerability. Traditional indigenous belief systems         community interests. They point to state policies
the provision of many social services – especially       lands and not legal ownership, which became the              resonate even less with twenty-first-century neoliberal      that invariably perpetuate expansionist doctrines
education – was almost exclusively left up to            foundation for US Federal Indian law. In July 2009,          economic models, which promote very large-scale glo-         of dominance, such as the alienation of communal
religious institutions.                                  this and other realities prompted the UN Permanent           balized agro-businesses, manufacturing and trade, and        land and natural resources, and the subjugation
   It is for this reason that both the Prime Minister    Forum on Indigenous Issues to call for a study of the        large privately held land holdings.                          and exploitation of local labour, with many of the
of Canada and later Pope Benedict XVI in 2009            Doctrine of Discovery and its effects on indigenous             Nevertheless, from Alaska to Argentina, in 2009           main victims belonging to indigenous and African
were led to apologize for the abusive treatment of       peoples. It is due to be completed by the start of the       the indigenous idea of communally held land as               descendant communities.
indigenous students in Canadian boarding schools.        2010 session.                                                opposed to privately owned property continued to                At the December 2009 Parliament of the World’s
Financed by the government, these were run by                                                                         be an integral part of community identity and a vital        Religions, indigenous peoples’ representatives
religious organizations that removed indigenous chil-    Differences in perception                                    overall belief system. Activists argued that indigenous      claimed that it is such contemporary practices that
dren from their families and intentionally stripped      One likely finding of any study is that central to the       land claims could be justified from the perspective of       demonstrate a direct historical connection to the
them of their language, traditions and culture.          debate are marked differences in key perceptions. The        safeguarding of indigenous peoples’ religious rights.        doctrines of conquest, prompting them to call col-
   Moreover, religiously inspired principles and         incoming religious systems brought to the New World          Moreover, African descendants who entered the                lectively on religious leaders, such as Pope Benedict
belief systems still operate at the most prominent       a set of theological assumptions, especially regarding       Americas also had collectivist traditions of their own       XVI, to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. In
levels of regional society due to the dominant           the relationship of humans to nature and the universe,       preferred to acquire and hold property communally            July 2009, the Protestant Episcopal Church of the
role of religious institutions in elite leadership       derived from texts that were held to be sacred. For          whenever they could in the post-emancipation era.            USA passed a landmark resolution, repudiating the
development and in guiding secular policy                example, in the Old Testament Book of Genesis,                                                                            Doctrine of Discovery and urging the US govern-
discourses, including with regard to concepts such       humans are portrayed as being made in the likeness of        Exclusion                                                    ment to endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights
as ‘ethics’ and ‘civilization’.                          their creators and encouraged to have dominion over          Such views of land ownership were not legally rec-           of Indigenous Peoples. p

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                                                                                  and Indigenous Peoples 2010         and Indigenous Peoples 2010
provinces of Río Negro, Neuquén, Chubut and             temporarily retreated. The corporation, which was       cally been afforded to Afro-Argentineans, Afro-        mal access to basic services.
Santa Cruz. According to Equipo Nacional de             granted an oil concession by the government, backs      descendant rights groups such as Afro-Indio indicat-      The election was a victory not only for the
Pastoral Aborigen, 94 per cent of this group still      its claim to the area with the support of a former      ed that they regard this as a modest but significant   presidential candidate but also for his allies and
have no title to the lands they have occupied ances-    Argentinean Supreme Court justice who professes         move in the right direction.                           supporters. One of these is Afro-Bolivian candidate
trally. As a result, land is frequently sold to the     to have acquired the land at a public auction. The                                                             Jorge Medina of the community of Chijchipa in
highest bidder, leading to land ownership disputes,     Mapuche Confederation of Neuquen released a             Bolivia                                                the Department of La Paz, who became the first
such as those that continued during 2009.               formal statement immediately after the encounter,       According to the 2001 Census, approximately            person of African ancestry in the history of Bolivia
   During June 2009, hearings continued in the          denouncing the petroleum company, as well as the        62 per cent of Bolivia’s population self-identifies    to be able to participate as a fully fledged member
ongoing civil trial to determine possession of the      former justice and the provincial governor, for sup-    as indigenous (mainly Quechua or Aymara).              of the Bolivian parliament, winning more that 90
Santa Rosa estate in the southern Patagonian prov-      pressing, ignoring and violating Mapuche rights         President Evo Morales – who is of indigenous           per cent of the vote in his district in the December
ince of Chubut. The case goes back to October           over the past two years.                                background – won his December 2009 re-election         2009 elections. Medina ran for the position of
2002, when the Curiñanco-Nahuelquirs, an indig-            The Mapuche Confederation of Neuquen have            bid with over 63 per cent of the popular vote.         Representative for Original Indigenous and Afro-
enous Mapuche family, were forcibly evicted by the      compared the latest incident to previous confronta-     His nearest rival, a right-wing ex-military official   Bolivian People in the Department of La Paz, under
Benetton Group SpA from a 535-hectare stretch           tions with petroleum companies in the area, such as     gained just 28 per cent.                               the banner of MAS – IPSP (Instrumento Político
of land in Chubut. The family claimed to have           that of 2001 when Mapuche protests led investors           Since taking office in 2005, the Morales            por la Soberanía de los Pueblos). The majority of
received verbal permission from a government land       to seek a legal resolution. In that case, the court     government has experienced strong opposition           the estimated 35,000 Afro-Bolivians live in the
settlement agency to use what was supposedly unoc-      ruled that Mapuche had a right to demonstrate on        in its efforts to re-found the state in order for it   Yungas region of La Paz Department and have
cupied indigenous territory. Benetton claims owner-     their own territory, based on ILO Convention No.        to be more responsive to indigenous community          historically remained at the low end of the socio-
ship of over 2.2 million acres of land – including      169, and dismissed all charges against them. While      needs. Violence has flared up several times,           economic scale. Like the indigenous population,
the disputed territory in Patagonia – through the       this was seen as a great victory for Mapuche, the       much of it fomented by the non-indigenous              they continue to face widespread discrimination
Compañía de Tierras de Sud Argentino (CTSA).            events of 2009 indicate that the judgment seems to      landowning minority in the wealthy departments         and other serious challenges in the areas of health,
This makes Benetton the largest landowner in            have had little lasting impact.                         of Beni, Pando, Santa Cruz and Tarija. They have       education, literacy, income and employment. Afro-
Argentina. The case went to court after the family                                                              continued to oppose the Morales government and         Bolivians regard the fact that a person of African
refused a Benetton offer to settle in another area,     Steps towards Afro-Argentinean inclusion                had earlier called for departmental autonomy.          origin is finally able to participate as a full member
and the litigation has continued to attract atten-      In a national environment where minorities such         However, even though right-wing opposition             of the Bolivian parliament as confirmation of the
tion. This is because of the global recognition of      as Chinese, Koreans, Roma and immigrants from           candidates won the Santa Cruz stronghold with 53       process being undertaken by African descendants
the Benetton brand-name, and because the case           Latin America do not receive equal treatment,           per cent of the vote, Morales still garnered 40 per    and indigenous communities to create a new social
highlights the challenges of reconciling traditional    Afro-Argentines in particular continued to experi-      cent in that region. As reported in MRG’s State        order, namely a ‘pluri-cultural’ Bolivia. The result
indigenous concepts of land ownership and use           ence discrimination in employment, education            of the World’s Minorities in 2008 and 2009, Santa      also serves to reinforce a growing notion among
with private property laws that are constitutionally    and housing. According to US State Department           Cruz had seen some of the worst anti-Morales           African descendants across Latin America that they
enshrined in all the countries of the region.           reports, they continued to endure racial affronts       violence, when gangs allegedly recruited by the        are much more likely to find an inclusive environ-
                                                        while using public transportation and to be denied      large landowners engaged in systematic attacks         ment for public participation in countries that have
Resource extraction                                     entry to commercial establishments. However,            against local indigenous groups. Morales was also      elected so-called ‘indigenous-friendly’ governments.
Resource use in Mapuche communities is another          MRG partner organization Afro-Indio reported in         able to win a majority in two other eastern regions    So far these administrations have demonstrated a
of the group’s concerns, and protests continued         December 2009 that, in an unprecedented public          that had previously gone to the opposition.            greater responsiveness to their needs and aspirations
during 2009. Hearings occurred in Salta Province        gesture towards inclusion, the Municipal Council           Morales is arguably the hemisphere’s only           compared to others, and have taken practical affirm-
following a December 2008 ruling in a lawsuit           of the City of Santa Fe, the capital of the Province    indigenous president. Together with his allied         ative steps, such as appointing African descendants
brought by 18 indigenous communities in which           of Santa Fe, voted to rename a public walkway           MAS Party (Movement Towards Socialism), he             to high-level official positions, both locally and as
the Argentine Supreme Court ordered a suspension        close to the Ethnographic and Historical Museums        enjoys considerable support from the historically      foreign representatives.
of plans to harvest approximately 2 million acres of    that was previously known as ‘The Path of Two           marginalized indigenous and Afro-Bolivian popula-
forest. There were also year-end protests in Salta by   Cultures’. The intention was to acknowledge the         tions. The MAS now controls both the Senate and        Brazil
Mapuche who claim that 12,000 hectares of their         African element in Argentinean society by officially    Lower House of the newly formed Pluri-National         During 2009, Brazil enhanced its position as an
communal lands were re-designated as a nature           changing the name of the walkway to ‘The Path of        Legislative Assembly (the Congress Plurinacional       emerging global economic contender. The so-called
reserve by state governmental decree, and also that     Three Cultures’. It also authorized the building of     or parliament, formerly the national congress).        ‘country of the future’ also received a huge inter-
Mapuche lands were being ceded to private entities      two emblematic monoliths representing indigenous        This will make it easier to institute long-desired     national image boost on being selected to host the
for the establishment of a private country club.        and African cultures, to be placed in a sufficiently    changes, especially for Bolivia’s indigenous com-      2016 Olympics. Nevertheless, social investment ini-
   In September 2009, a Mapuche confronta-              visible location so that they properly represent the    munities. The IACHR reports that 70 per cent           tiatives seem to have had only a limited effect on the
tion with a US-based petroleum company on               encounter of the three cultures and serve as a public   of the country’s more than 4 million indigenous        country’s historically marginalized African descend-
Lonko Purran territory in the Neuquen district          reference point.                                        population continues to live in poverty or extreme     ant communities and indigenous peoples. Brazil
of Argentina ended peacefully when the company             In a society where little recognition has histori-   poverty, with little access to education and mini-     ranks only 75th on the UN’s Human Development

82                                           Americas                        State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                        Americas                                           83
                                                                               and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                                                                                 Left: Pankararu girls wait for the beginning of the     Raposa Serra do Sol Reserve
                                                                                                                 Tore ceremony at Favela Panorama, Sao Paolo,            Following the December 2008 Supreme Court deci-
                                                                                                                 Brazil. Eduardo Martino/Panos.                          sion to uphold President Lula da Silva’s creation
                                                                                                                                                                         of the Raposa Serra do Sol Reserve in the northern
                                                                                                                    In July 2009, the publication O Globo reported       Brazilian state of Roraima – near the Venezuela/
                                                                                                                 that the country’s Supreme Court denied an appeal       Guyana border – the last of the few remaining non-
                                                                                                                 by Brazil’s Democratic Party aiming to overturn         indigenous rice-farming settlers who moved into the
                                                                                                                 affirmative action at the University of Brazil. The     territory two decades ago have finally left.
                                                                                                                 petition argued that the quotas violate the ‘consti-       The reserve, over 4 million acres and encompass-
                                                                                                                 tutional right of human dignity’ and the universal      ing about 42 per cent of Roraima State, is now
                                                                                                                 right to education. While the Court ruling defended     one of the largest protected indigenous areas in
                                                                                                                 the constitutionality of racial quotas, it emphasized   the world. For more than a decade, it has been the
                                                                                                                 the need to increase the focus on socio-economic        scene of violent frontier conflicts between indige-
                                                                                                                 remedies rather than on racially based quotas.          nous peoples and non-indigenous Brazilian farmers,
                                                                                                                                                                         with settlers intimidating protesters and sometimes
                                                                                                                 Indigenous peoples’ land rights issues                  mounting armed resistance to hamper police evic-
                                                                                                                 The National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI)              tion operations.
                                                                                                                 estimates that there are 460,000 indigenous peo-
                                                                                                                 ple living on indigenous lands and an additional        Urban favela pacification
                                                                                                                 100,000 to 190,000 in other areas, including urban      In 2009, state governments in major cities such as
                                                                                                                 areas. Some rainforest indigenous settlements           Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo continued their efforts
                                                                                                                 contain groups that still live in voluntary isola-      to pacify the large number of poor, marginalized
                                                                                                                 tion. More than half of Brazil’s indigenous people      urban shanty towns (favelas), which contain major-
                                                                                                                 continue to live in poverty, with poor health condi-    ity African descendant populations. First founded
                                                                                                                 tions, in communities where traditional ways of life    by squatters seeking work in the big city, the favelas
                                                                                                                 and culture are under ongoing threat from logging,      have existed for decades and continue to expand. In
                                                                                                                 land developers, agricultural expansion and resource    Rio de Janeiro, over 2 million people, or 30 per cent
Index and displays the greatest measure of inequality   averaging approximately half those earned by             extraction.                                             of the city’s population, live in the almost 800 fave-
in all of Latin America: the wealthiest 10 per cent     Brazilians of European descent.                             While the 1988 Constitution obliged the federal      las built on the hills that overlook Rio.
averaging a monthly household income of 5,600                                                                    government to demarcate all indigenous areas by            For most of their existence, shanty-town residents
reais (US $1,982) while the poorest 50 per cent get     Affirmative action                                       the year 1993, at the end of 2009, the final phase      have lived on the margins of urban society without
by on about 272 reais (US $96) per month.               In recent years, the Brazilian government has initi-     – which is actual legal registration – continued to     social investment or police protection, and in the
   There are approximately 90 million Afro-             ated affirmative action measures to correct these        be the most difficult. Among the primary reasons        vacuum, powerful organized gangs have emerged.
Brazilians, constituting nearly half of the very        inequalities, and there are programmes in place at       are high-level corruption and deep-seated prejudices    According to local media, these sometimes admin-
mixed national population; however, they continue       nearly 20 government-run universities. In 2009,          and discrimination against indigenous people and        ister ‘communitarian justice’, including enforcing
to represent a large percentage of the poor and a       however, significant debate continued on the effec-      African descendants by local-level functionaries.       sentences for transgressors. Vigilante groups are
small percentage of the professional and managerial     tiveness of this policy.                                    During 2009, human rights monitors reported          common, especially against those who go unpun-
middle and upper classes. Moreover, a sizeable racial      Affirmative action bills to decide whether            that confrontations continued to occur over land        ished by the formal legal system after being accused
education gap continues to be a major constraint to     the government should impose racial quotas               ownership or resource exploitation rights. National     of crimes.
any rapid change. This is partly linked to the fact     have been approved by the Brazilian House of             authorities are often unable to provide the required       Recently, the state government has begun taking
that the rich can pay for private education and pre-    Representatives, but at year-end these remained          protection due to limited state presence in remote      steps to pacify favelas; these have mainly involved
college tutoring, while the poor attend inadequate,     stalled in the Senate. The bills seek to create racial   areas. On the other hand, in several states where       frequent heavily armed police raids which activists
overcrowded and under-financed public schools.          and socio-economic quotas in all federal universi-       there is a police presence in indigenous areas, AI      and residents complain have resulted in a number
   Although the law prohibits racial discrimination,    ties, and propose reserving 50 per cent of all places    and local human rights monitors reported the            of human rights violations, including summary
caste and colour continued to affect access to oppor-   for students from public high schools. Of those          continued existence of organized death squads           executions, deaths and injuries to many civilians
tunity during 2009, especially for Afro-Brazilians      reserved spots, up to half would be set aside for        linked to security forces that targeted persons         and bystanders.
and indigenous peoples. Brazilians with dark skin       Afro-Brazilians and indigenous students. The other       on behalf of landowners. Given the support
tones, such as African descendants, continued to        half would be allocated to low-income students, of       perpetrators enjoy, including from governors            Favela occupation
encounter social and economic discrimination,           whom indigenous people and African descendants           and state and municipal legislators, these abuses       In 2009, the authorities began a much more com-
including higher rates of unemployment and wages        constitute a significant portion.                        continued to occur with impunity.                       prehensive strategy of favela pacification. After more

84                                          Americas                          State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                         Americas                                           85
                                                                                and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
than a decade of just guarding the entrances and         viewed with increasing scepticism in early 2009,           subsistence, thereby guaranteeing significant food       communities that now seem threatened with immi-
conducting sporadic raids, a permanent 24-hour           following city plans to begin building 3 meter             self-sufficiency. The Colombian NGO CODHES               nent and complete disappearance as a result of
policing presence is being instituted as part of a       high containment walls around at least 11 of Rio           estimates that nearly 4.3 million people have been       violence and dispossession, especially given the close
new policy of urban integration. According to state      de Janeiro’s informal settlements. State authorities       internally displaced in Colombia over the past two       relationship between their lands on the one hand,
authorities, the aim is to establish fixed Peacemaker    indicated that the city’s favelas have been doubling       decades, between 200,000 and 300,000 per year.           and identity and culture on the other.
Police Units (PPU) in designated favelas, after          in size and threaten the forest at the edge of the city.   Displaced rural people have few skills beyond farm-          Among the groups particularly affected are
first eliminating the large organized gangs. These       Critics claim that the walls are more a social con-        ing and few social support structures in the areas to    Embera, Gauibos and the Siriri-Catleya indigenous
operations can involve units of up to 300 military       tainment plan rather than an ecological conservation       which they are forced to flee.                           communities, including those near the border with
policemen, mainly from the elite Special Operation       effort, the aim being to establish a barrier between          As the number of internally displaced people          Venezuela. According to UNHCR, in early 2009
Battalion (BOPE). The BOPE units are judged              the favelas and the beachside condominiums of the          (IDPs) grows, humanitarian assistance is becoming        more than 2,000 indigenous Embera fled from their
by experts to be one of the most violent military        wealthy. The authorities cited the need to protect         ever more costly and difficult to provide. Processing    territory in the department of Choco, leaving 25
forces in Latin America. They utilize equipment          what is left of a huge bio-diverse Atlantic rainforest     of claims can sometimes take weeks or months and         villages abandoned. In August 2009, human rights
considered to be more powerful than that tradition-      that once covered 16 eastern Brazilian states but is       assistance is only temporary, at best. The most IDPs     observers reported the massacre of 12 indigenous
ally used in civilian law enforcement, including a       now down to just 7 per cent of its original size.          can expect is transitory shelter for two to six months   people, including 7 children in southern Colombia.
fleet of armoured vehicles, known as ‘Pacificador’          Environmentalists, human rights activists and           and, regardless of family size, a stipend of about US    There were also increasing reports of systematic
(Peacemaker) or ‘Caveirão’ (Big Skull), equipped         residents continued to argue that the so-called            $500 to help them get re-established wherever they       sexual violence against indigenous women. There
with point 30 carbines, M16 assault rifles, C-4          ‘eco-walls’ are essentially an attempt to hide the         find themselves.                                         are 27 indigenous groups in Colombia that are
explosives and fragmentation grenades. Taking over       favelas, which can be seen from Rio’s beaches.                With a government allocation of just US $508          considered to be at risk of disappearance. And the
a community usually means having to do battle            They claim the barriers would physically segregate         million for IDP relief, during 2009 many IDPs            Colombian Indigenous Organization (CIO) esti-
heavy resistance from organized groups of up to 200      favela residents from the rest of society, and that        continued to live in unhygienic, desperate and           mates that one indigenous person is murdered every
people, and the casualty rate can be high. Gangs are     other conservation measures can be applied. For            uncertain conditions, with limited access to health      72 hours.
increasingly well-armed with assault weapons that        example, in one favela, government and community           care, education, employment or income opportuni-             Activists describe the events occurring in
give them new power to resist. According to find-        representatives have agreed to build nature paths,         ties. Many IDPs are forced to turn to begging or         remote rural Colombia as a gradual but inexorable
ings by Brazilian NGO Viva Rio, organized gangs          adult recreation areas and playgrounds alternating         prostitution, and become particularly vulnerable to      programme of ethnic cleansing. This is allegedly
in Brazil now have about 4 million illegal weapons,      with low 90 cm walls to prevent expansion. In              trafficking schemes for sexual exploitation or other     designed to remove indigenous and Afro-Colombian
made easier to obtain by deeply entrenched corrup-       addition, a jurist for the UN Committee on                 organized illegal activities. While assistance is pro-   subsistence peasant farming populations from very
tion in official circles.                                Economic, Social and Cultural Rights defined               vided through government bodies such as Acción           fertile terrain, in order to usurp the land to grow
   In October 2009, just days after Brazil’s selection   the walls as ‘geographic discrimination’, especially       Social, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute           illicit crops such as coca leaf and opium poppy,
to host the 2016 Olympic games, favela gangs shot        since other types of occupation, such as luxury            and the Ministry of Social Protection, interna-          or to establish large-scale agro-business ventures,
down a police helicopter during a BOPE raid just         condominiums, homes and hotels, also affect the            tional humanitarian support from groups such as          including palm oil plantations and beef cattle
1 mile from Maracana stadium, where the open-            native forest cover on Rio’s outskirts.                    the International Organization for Migration, the        production.
ing and closing ceremonies of the Olympics are              During 2009, the first favela to be fully pacified,     International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN
scheduled to be held. According to Brazzilmag.com,       socially enhanced, as well as walled off, was Dona         High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and               New militia groups
by the end of 2009 the pacification units had com-       Marta, home to an estimated 7,500 people. This             the Colombian Red Cross continue to play a               In addition to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
pleted the establishment of PPU stations in seven        now ‘model’ favela earned international fame in            major role.                                              Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation
favelas. The aim is to offer so-called ‘community        1996 as the production location for the Michael                                                                     Army (ELN), there are growing numbers of ille-
security’ to a third of Rio’s favela residents by the    Jackson music video, ‘They Don’t Really Care               Population removals                                      gal paramilitary groups operating in the Pacific
end of 2010.                                             About Us’.                                                 Afro-Colombian human rights groups indicate that         region of Colombia, especially in the departments
   Probably of much greater importance to resi-                                                                     of the more than 4 million IDPs in Colombia,             of Antioquia, Arauca, Cauca, Choco, Narino and
dents is that PPU stabilization includes providing       Colombia                                                   over 30 per cent (nearly 1.3 million) are Afro-          Putumayo. Historically, these areas have had large
long-needed basic services as part of a Growth           Despite official pronouncements touting improved           Colombians. Another 15 per cent (600,000) of the         African descendant populations that traditionally
Acceleration Programme (PAC). This means install-        national security, the 44-year-long internal armed         IDPs are from indigenous communities, despite the        hold communal titles to large areas of fertile land.
ing basic water and sanitation infrastructure, thor-     conflict in Colombia continues to simmer and is            fact that those who self-identify as indigenous in          The Organization of American States (OAS)
oughfares, street lighting, health and education serv-   now taking an increasingly heavy toll on African           Colombia make up only 2 per cent of the national         estimates that there are approximately 23 new illegal
ices, internet communication and housing upgrades.       descendant and indigenous communities. Apart               population (43 million people). Moreover, the            armed groups operating in the country. In addi-
All of these services have been lacking previously.      from the continuous loss of lives and livelihoods,         country’s April 2009 decision to finally support the     tion to operations such as kidnapping for ransom,
                                                         the greatest threat during 2009 was the ongoing            UNDRIP is not reflected in existing measures to          extortion and cross-border smuggling, Colombia’s
‘Eco-walls’ or social barriers                           apparent systematic dispossession of communities           safeguard the rights of Colombia’s indigenous com-       outlaw militia groups systematically abuse and
Talk of greater social integration of the 800            from large areas of land on which they have lived for      munities. Human rights defenders are concerned           threaten indigenous and Afro-Colombian popula-
unpainted concrete and brick favelas began to be         scores of years and on which they depend for their         at the growing number of Colombia’ s indigenous          tions, often giving them no more than 24 hours

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                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
to vacate their holdings, taking only what they can       infrastructure, such as highways, drainage canals and    these already vulnerable populations at even greater       tion politicians and members of various workers
carry. Consequently, indigenous people and African        agro-business plantations. Moreover, government          risk. During 2009, African descendant organizations        and indigenous peoples’ organizations, such as
descendants in the zones of conflict no longer have       officials have expressed a desire to see a tenfold       in the Cauca Valley reported that there is now a           the Centro Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo
any faith in the capacity of state security forces to     increase over the coming decade of areas planted         higher incidence of eye and skin irritation, which the     (CNTC), which is involved in land reclamations,
protect them. Many see state operatives as ineffec-       with crops such as African Palm and soybeans. This       communities attribute to aerial glyphosate dispersal.      had been increasingly voicing concern about the
tive or as acting in tandem with one or other of the      would mean total crop areas of some 7 million               Another threat to young Afro-Colombians and             lack of progress in dealing with issues that affect
illegal groups. The overwhelming percentage of the        acres, if implemented.                                   indigenous people continues to be the forced               traditionally marginalized groups. They demanded
personnel in the state forces are conscripts undergo-                                                              recruitment of young males and females to swell the        measures and resources to increase opportunities
ing compulsory military service, who are more inter-      Human rights defenders at risk                           ranks of the guerrillas or outlaw paramilitary groups.     in a country where 40 per cent of the popula-
ested in ending their terms of duty without being         The task of bringing the issue to public attention       A history of official neglect and almost no social         tion lives on less than a dollar a day. Among
killed than in protecting the civilian population.        rests largely in the hands of rights defenders. But      investment in predominantly Afro-Colombian and             their main concerns were the negative effects of
   One especially disquieting random threat, accord-      Afro-Colombian and indigenous human rights               indigenous areas has helped to constrain income-           the US-sponsored Central American Free Trade
ing to African descendant human rights defenders,         defenders continued to be under threat during            generation and earning opportunities. According            Agreement (CAFTA), the socially and environ-
is the tendency of security forces to try to produce      2009, both from old militia groups as well as from       to community development activists in the Cauca            mentally destructive operations of multinational
so-called ‘false positives’. There are a number of        the increasing number of new armed groups, espe-         Valley, offers of combat-pay incentives by the vari-       mining companies, and the efforts of real estate
reports of senior-level military personnel who            cially when they openly criticized attacks on the        ous armed groups now represent the main available          developers to fragment and expropriate the com-
pay illegal paramilitary groups to forcibly acquire       community or voiced concerns about perceived cor-        income-earning opportunity in these areas; espe-           munal beachfront lands of African descendant
young men, who are turned over to local govern-           ruption and collusion by official authorities.           cially since the conflict also severely constrains other   Garifuna communities. These areas were being
ment brigades which then kill them, dress them up            During 2009, African descendant and indigenous        traditional survival activities, such as farming and       redefined as Areas Under Special Management
in combat fatigues and present them as guerrillas         human rights defenders continued to be subject to        fishing. This all but ensures that another generation      (ABRE) and then opened up to large-scale tourism
supposedly killed in successful encounters. Army          harassment by paramilitary groups as well as by the      of rural Colombians will be drawn into the coun-           projects.
brigades have also reportedly entered educational         state, with government agents asserting that human       try’s long-running violent, bloody, and increasingly          In August 2008, amid criticism from the business
institutions and killed young men who were then           rights activists are engaging in activities support-     dehumanizing conflict.                                     community, right-wing political groups and many
also dressed up in guerrilla uniforms and presented       ing terrorism and the militia groups just as easily                                                                 in Congress, Honduras joined the anti-CAFTA
as dead combatants.                                       accusing them of working for the government.             Honduras                                                   Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), cit-
                                                          During 2009, according to UN observers, harass-          After almost a century of rule by military dictators,      ing supposed US apathy toward Honduran poverty.
Corruption and impunity                                   ment of indigenous human rights defenders and            Honduras has had seven consecutive democratic              In early 2009, Zelaya pushed through controversial
Of great significance to observers who seek an end        Afro-Colombian activists included surveillance and       electoral transitions since its 1982 constitution          measures such as a 60 per cent rise in the minimum
to the conflict is that those who stand to benefit the    wiretapping, forced entry, destruction of human          change. However, on 28 June 2009, the country              wage. This alienated the powerful business elite who
most economically from the ongoing dispossession          rights defenders’ offices, threats by phone and email    experienced the militarily enforced ousting and exile      complained that it would increase operating costs as
and lawlessness in the country can be found at the        to individuals and their families, arbitrary arrests     of the sitting President Manuel Zelaya Rosales, with       well as restrict employment growth.
very highest levels of the national society. As report-   and sometimes detention of human rights defend-          the full knowledge of Congress and the Supreme                Zelaya’s relationship with Congress grew decid-
ed in State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous      ers with unfounded criminal charges being brought        Court. The ensuing crisis served to delay efforts          edly worse after October 2009, when he sought
Peoples 2009, investigations by the Supreme Court         against them.                                            aimed at bringing about lasting social, economic           to hold a plebiscite to determine whether there
and prosecutor-general’s office established links                                                                  and political change that could have benefited             should be constitutional reform. The reforms
between politicians and paramilitary groups, and          Conflict and the environment                             marginalized African descendant and indigenous             would have allowed for more direct citizen input
succeeded in implicating 15 governors, 31 mayors          The conflict also has an environmental dimen-            populations.                                               into decision-making at all levels, via plebiscites
and 70 congressional representatives who continued        sion. Those who are able to remain on their lands           Manuel Zelaya of the centre-left Liberal Party was      and increased local-level governing initiatives,
to serve time in jail during 2009. However, activists     were faced with another debilitating problem dur-        elected president of Honduras in November 2005.            similar to those being instituted in Ecuador and
point out this has done little to improve the situa-      ing 2009. This arose from ongoing international          Among his close advisers were human rights activ-          Bolivia. The proposed reforms were appreciated
tion. During 2009, displacement and violence with         attempts to eradicate illicit crops such as coca by      ists and lawyers, with roots in the country’s small        by many African descendant and indigenous com-
impunity have continued to escalate, indicating that      aerial spraying. In April 2009, the UN Office of         radical left that fought against the dictatorships         munities, who saw it as a chance to end their own
the collusion and corruption are pervasive, and that      Drugs and Crime reported that Colombia sprayed           of the 1970s. Of particular interest to indigenous         political marginalizaton. They therefore welcomed
maintaining the conflict continues to enjoy high-         the herbicide glyphosate over 515 square miles           people and African descendants was that the presi-         signals to that end, such as a televised speech given
level political and economic support.                     (133,496 hectares) of coca bush cultivation. The         dent had increasingly begun to respond to criticism        by Zelaya the day before his ouster, when he reiter-
   According to human rights organizations working        chemical also affects regular food crops and livestock   from grassroots movements, such as the independ-           ated that Honduras ‘was in the process of change
in the dense forests of the Pacific coast, paramilitary   in the general vicinity.                                 ent National Coordination of Popular Resistance            [and] of transformation’. However, such hopes of
gangs are continuing to seize Afro-Colombian land            In addition to contaminating the food supply, the     (Bloque Popular-Coordinadora Nacional de                   change disappeared, when, on the following day,
to facilitate agro-business conglomerates. The land       toxic runoff from the land also kills fish and other     Resistencia Popular) and other social activists.           the president was placed on an army aircraft and
is then transformed by deforestation and elaborate        aquatic life in the rivers or along the shore, putting      The Popular Resistance, consisting of opposi-           sent to Costa Rica.

88                                            Americas                         State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                            Americas                                          89
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
‘They say you                                              He taught me to understand I have a responsibility
                                                           to keep our traditions from our ancestors and to teach
                                                                                                                       ‘The earth is our Mother – Madre Tierra. …
                                                                                                                       We believe disrespect for the earth can invite
                                                                                                                                                                                to Zelaya’s ouster were routinely disrupted by
                                                                                                                                                                                state agents as well as by private individuals. This

are not a                                                  people about them. So the discrimination I can talk
                                                           about is the way people behave to those of us who
                                                                                                                       destruction. Even now those of us who still
                                                                                                                       practise the traditional ways make festivals
                                                                                                                                                                                affected the operations of a range of local and
                                                                                                                                                                                international media services, including CNN en

                                                           want to keep our vision and traditional knowledge           or make pilgrimage to the volcanoes to show              Español, Guatevisión (Guatemala), Cubavision
                                                           and religion and beliefs.’                                  respect. But now most of the people have to              International, Ticavisión (Costa Rica) and especially
                                                                                                                       keep these beliefs to themselves. They feel              the Venezuela-based Telesur news network, which
you are not                                                Pelico says that the discrimination against his beliefs
                                                           is not new and began when the Spanish first arrived.
                                                                                                                       they cannot talk about it openly because of
                                                                                                                                                                                is supported by regional governments including
                                                                                                                                                                                Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay and Venezuela. The

religious’                                                 ‘To begin with the Spanish changed the names our            In addition to religious discrimination,
                                                                                                                                                                                regime also especially targeted local community
                                                                                                                                                                                broadcasters that cater to indigenous and African
                                                           Mayan ancestors had given to all the rivers, the            Pelico describes some other issues faced by              descendant audiences.
                                                           mountains, the valleys, volcanoes, the lakes and springs.   indigenous people.
The issue of religious discrimination in the               These were sacred places and these names had real                                                                    Harassment
Americas is complex especially given the                   meaning and power. The ‘conquista’ began to name            ‘Maybe the biggest thing is the way our people           The IACHR also received testimony about the har-
region’s colonial history. To find out more,               these places after their own religious saints. So now       now look at the earth. We believe in communal            assment of prominent public figures who publicly
Maurice Bryan speaks with Hector Pelico, an                we have all these places, even volcanoes named after        ownership. The earth is not meant to be                  showed support for, and demanded restitution of
artisan of indigenous Mayan descent, who sells             religious saints. They have no connection to us and our     bought and sold. You cannot buy and sell your            the deposed president. Among those affected were
his handicrafts outside the Chalchuapa Temple              Mayan culture or ancestors or our traditional beliefs.      mother. Many of our Mayan people now do not              governors, members of Congress including min-
complex in El Salvador.                                    But people don’t like it when you say things like that.     have access to land because it is all privately          isters, mayors, as well as indigenous and African
                                                           They say you are not a Christian; you are not religious.    owned by big farms and mining concessions.               descendant community leaders. State functionaries
                                                           This is the discrimination I am talking about.’             We have all this mining and deforestation in             reported that, in addition to personal threats and
‘On a personal basis, I cannot say I have big                                                                          our countries around here, which is destroying           acts of violence, they also were subjected to budget
problems with discrimination. The women in my              On the significance of changing the names of                the earth. How much more gold do they need?              cuts and military occupation of the public build-
family have more problems. They wear traditional           these geographical locations and the importance of          Look at the drought we are now having here.              ings in which they worked. A number of them fled
[Mayan] clothes and people treat you different when        honouring the Earth, Pelico explains:                       This shows people are doing bad things to the            the country for their own safety. Among these was
you live the indigenous identity, especially in the                                                                    earth. We are no longer in harmony. Every                the respected young Afro-descendant Garifuna
city. Some restaurants tell them they cannot come in       ‘… the names were connected to our religion, and            year we have less and less to leave for our              physician, Dr Luther Castillo, who learned that
dressed like that. People do not want to respect the       our religion is connected to the earth. Our spiritual       children. So all the technology and development          the Honduran army had reportedly received orders
indigenous culture. They think it is backward and          connection is to the earth. We believe in honouring         is no good if it destroys the earth. So we should        to arrest him and shoot if he resisted. Castillo
that all indigenous people are poor and uneducated.        the earth and there is a story connected to nearly          not be surprised if the Earth Mother and                 had only recently been appointed Director of
So it is not easy.’                                        every place name. That was our vision and our spirit        Earth Spirits begin to punish us with storms             International Cooperation in the Honduran
                                                           history. There were special names for the point where       or droughts and earthquakes because of our               Foreign Ministry.
When asked how he overcomes this attitude                  a particular river started or where a spring came           disrespect. This is the kind of knowledge we
towards indigenous people, Pelico explains that:           out of the earth. And we had special ceremonies for         lose through discrimination and disrespect for           Impact on African descendants
                                                           these places at various times of the year. The whole        our beliefs.’ p                                          Castillo’s departure had a particularly direct effect
‘… my grandfather was a traditional priest – some          community took part. It helped to bind the people                                                                    on the Afro-Honduran Garifuna community. For
people call it shaman – so he knew a lot of things.        and keep them connected to the earth.                       Edited by Rahnuma Hassan                                 the past decade, he had been serving as director of
                                                                                                                                                                                the Luaga Hatuadi Waduheñu Foundation (‘For
                                                                                                                                                                                the Health of our People’ in Garifuna) and with
                                                                                                                                                                                community support had established in 2007 the
Human rights abuses                                        also recorded that demonstrators were experiencing          the IACHR, those who were detained were subject          first-ever Garifuna Rural Hospital and outreach
The internal political disruption led to serious report-   harassment and having their free speech rights cur-         to beatings, threats at gunpoint and verbal abuse, and   centre. The facility is supported by a number of
ed human rights violations, including against African      tailed through the placement of military roadblocks         in the case of females, sexual abuse. At some police     international aid organizations and medical schools,
descendant and indigenous protesters. In August            and the arbitrary enforcement of curfews. They also         posts, judges who appeared in response to petitions      such as those connected to the US Johns Hopkins
2009, the IACHR conducted an on-site visit to              received reports of arbitrary detentions of between         for habeas corpus were also mistreated, threatened at    University and the University of California (San
Honduras to observe the human rights situation and         3,500 and 4,000 people by the police and the army           gunpoint and verbally abused.                            Francisco), and serves some 20,000 people in the
confirmed a pattern of disproportionate use of force,      during the demonstrations, and of cruel, inhuman               As events unfolded, information was censored          surrounding communities. It is considered vital to
arbitrary detentions and the control of information        and degrading treatment in poor detention condi-            by military-enforced news blackouts. Media               these communities as studies have determined that
aimed at limiting political participation. The IACHR       tions afterwards. According to testimony provided to        efforts considered supportive of the opposition          the Honduran population has among the worst

90                                             Americas                           State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                          Americas                                           91
                                                                                    and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
‘… Right now                                               the mass media … everywhere … at all levels. And
                                                           that is a problem because 80 per cent of the Peruvian
                                                                                                                          Amazon are head shrinkers and cannibals and should
                                                                                                                          be bombed with napalm.’
                                                                                                                                                                                 Paraguayans of identifiable indigenous ancestry pre-
                                                                                                                                                                                 fer not to be officially classified as such. Indeed, 90

we need real                                               population is Indigenous or mestizo [Euro-Indigenous
                                                           mixture]. Then another 10 per cent have African                In addition to anti-discrimination legislation,
                                                                                                                                                                                 per cent of the country’s population speaks Guarani,
                                                                                                                                                                                 the indigenous lingua franca. This reluctance reflects

action. Not just
                                                           ancestry so that is 90 per cent overall that is non-           Carpio feels that businesses and schools should        perhaps the ongoing social and economic margin-
                                                           white. But the interests of this 90 per cent are mostly        receive training on prejudice and discrimination,      alization, and the long record of systematic abuses
                                                           ignored. That kind of inequality is what                       explaining that, ‘they need to understand the harm     to which Paraguay’s indigenous peoples have been
pretty words’                                              creates problems.’                                             their ignorance is causing to other people and the
                                                                                                                          country: especially in the economic area. There is a
                                                                                                                                                                                 subjected. These have included enslavement, extra-
                                                                                                                                                                                 judicial executions, sexual violence and also child-
                                                           When asked to expand on how racism manifests                   lot of discrimination in employment and without        trafficking.
                                                           itself in the media, Carpio gives the example of a             money you cannot really get ahead.’ She also              According to the US State Department, Paraguay
In November 2009, Alan Garcia, the president               TV commercial for a major Peruvian newspaper                   thinks that, ‘Schools need special programs, also      ranks as the second poorest country in South
of Peru, apologized to the country’s African               that she found particularly offensive:                         the businesses in Peru need special programmes.’       America, with just 10 per cent of the population
descendants for the centuries of ‘abuse, exclusion                                                                                                                               controlling 66 per cent of the land and 30 per cent
and discrimination’ that Afro-Peruvians have               ‘[They had] a TV commercial for the food and                   Carpio uses the example of newspapers to               of rural people being landless. In 2009, state neglect
suffered, beginning with enslavement by Spanish            nutrition section of El Comercio newspaper. The                describe the kind of programmes that she               and ongoing tensions between notions of traditional
colonizers. Maurice Bryan speaks to a young                advertising showed what is supposed to be an African           thinks are needed. She suggests that the staff         communal land ownership and private property
Afro-Peruvian university student and community             family but they showed them as … what? Cannibals!!             at newspapers need anti-racist training to             interests continued to affect the lives of the coun-
activist, Cecilia Carpio, about her reaction to the        There is this mother who is telling this cannibal son          change the way they perceive Afro-Peruvians.           try’s various indigenous cultures.
apology and her views on discrimination in Peru.           not to eat fat white people because they are full of           Newspapers should also stop publishing
                                                           cholesterol. Then she says instead the son should learn        offensive material and should instead publish          Human rights violations affecting indigenous
                                                           from his brother because he eats healthy. They showed          educational information on the valuable                communities
‘Although I suppose in one way you can look at the         the brother cooking a thin white person. Then the text         contributions of Afro-Peruvians in building up         Although the political climate has changed signifi-
apology as a positive thing … in reality it is nothing     said – “Eat healthy and be healthy, El Comercio brings         Peru.                                                  cantly since the era of dictatorships, human rights
more than another nice-sounding speech. Every single       you tasty and healthy food with delicious recipes and                                                                 violations against indigenous people are still preva-
day the Peruvian state itself shows the opposite. What     advice from experts in cooking and nutrition… every            Although she agrees with those who say that it         lent. The IACHR found that some two decades
we have in Peru is a big racial and class divide.          Tuesday and Thursday.”’                                        will be difficult to change attitudes on race, she     since the end of military dictatorship, indigenous
Apologies alone are not going to change that. Good                                                                        insists that:                                          communities continue to face considerable obsta-
intentions alone will not change it. What we need are      ‘The government may apologize all they want, but as                                                                   cles, affecting their access to land and ability to
real programmes.                                           long as they keep on allowing such racist communication        ‘… it is no use saying [the situation for              express their cultures. In 2009, the levels of poverty
                                                           there will never be any progress in stopping racial            minorities] has always been that way. The fact         and illiteracy of Paraguayan indigenous people con-
‘What we have is a kind of a caste system. We have         discrimination. If they were truly serious then the congress   that people made mistakes in the past does not         tinue to be significantly higher than among the rest
a small number of Spanish and other European               should pass legislation to stop such racism and then really    mean that we have to keep on making them.              of the population, and in some cases 20-year-old
descendants who control most things: the economy, the      enforce the law. Then the court would have to punish           Maybe that is what the famous apology you              land claims cases are yet to be settled.
politics, the culture and the religious groups. And some   offenders like El Comercio and others who try to show          mentioned is supposed to mean, but right now we           While the Paraguayan Constitution recognizes
of them – not all mind you, but a very influential         African descendant people and indigenous people in such        need real action. Not just pretty words.’ p            the right of indigenous peoples to hold communal
group of them – promote white supremacy and strong         insulting ways. Another paper like that is El Correro.                                                                property and requires the state to provide these
racism in the country in public education, religion, in    Early this year it said that indigenous Peruvians in the       Edited by Rahnuma Hassan                               lands to them free of charge, this is no stipulation
                                                                                                                                                                                 for compliance. The 2002 Census of indigenous
                                                                                                                                                                                 people calculated that 45 per cent of Paraguay’s
                                                                                                                                                                                 indigenous people did not enjoy definitive legal
access to health services in the region, with a nation-    projects, many of them in marginalized areas where             tial ouster were themselves arrested. However, they    ownership of their land.
wide average of 8.7 doctors and 3.2 nurses per             African descendant and indigenous people make up               are likely to be pardoned by the new administration
10,000 people.                                             the majority of the population.                                before ever having to face trial.                      Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa
   Concerns over the legitimacy of the new regime             In November 2009, the country held its sched-                                                                      According to an AI report, during 2009 the Yakye Axa
also caused international financial institutions, such     uled elections. The presidency was won by the                  Paraguay                                               and Sawhoyamaxa, who belong to the Enxet indig-
as multilateral banks, and aid agencies to freeze the      centre-right National Party candidate Porfirio ‘Pepe’          According to government estimates, there are           enous people, continued to live in decade-old tempo-
transfer of funds to Honduras. These sanctions led         Lobo, a rancher and farmer who served as president             around 108,600 people in Paraguay who iden-            rary homes alongside the Pozo Colorado-Concepción
to an immediate downsizing or halting of a number          of Congress from 2002 to 2006. Also at the end of              tify themselves as indigenous. This is thought to      Highway, having been deprived of their traditional
of much-needed social and economic development             2009, the military leaders involved in the presiden-           be an under-estimate, given the fact that many         communal lands nearly two decades ago, when these

92                                             Americas                            State of the World’s Minorities        State of the World’s Minorities                        Americas                                            93
                                                                                     and Indigenous Peoples 2010          and Indigenous Peoples 2010
were taken over by private owners. After 10 years of       campaign promises to initiate widespread structural,          As a result of the demonstrations of up to 30,000     world history. It inspired hope among marginalized
litigation, around 90 families of the dispossessed Yakye   social and cultural changes, including land reform         people, the government declared a state of emer-         groups in the US and raised expectations that great-
Axa (Island of Palms) indigenous community are still       and respect for indigenous land rights.                    gency in the affected areas and in June 2009 sent        er respect for diversity would follow in the actions
forced to live on a narrow strip of land between the          In the case of the Yakye Axa, at the end of 2008        in heavily armed security forces. The resulting vio-     of the administration itself. Having received 67 per
Pozo Colorado-Concepción highway and the wire              President Lugo signed a bill declaring the 15,963          lence claimed a number of indigenous and security        cent of the Latino or Hispanic vote and 63 per cent
fence that marks the edge of the large cattle ranch that   hectares of the disputed land to be ‘of social interest’   force lives, prompted resignations in protest by         of the Asian American vote, since taking office in
absorbed their ancestral land. Similarly, up to 500        and ordered it to be expropriated from the current         government officials and increased scrutiny of the       2009 the Obama administration has sought to fulfil
Sawhoyamax (meaning ‘From the place where the              owner and handed over to INDI for restoration to           billion-dollar deals that were developed with foreign    election promises to minority groups, all of whom
coconuts have run out’) have also been existing on the     the Yakye Axa. The bill was tabled with four Senate        petroleum companies.                                     looked forward to seeing some reflection of national
edge of the highway, because their lands in the heavily    commissions and discussed in the session that began           In August 2009, Peru’s justice minister was sum-      demographic composition in the new administration
forested area on the eastern edge of the Chaco region      in March 2009. However, members of a congres-              moned to appear before the UN Human Rights                  Hispanics are the fastest-growing minority in the
are also now in the hands of private owners, who have      sional committee voted against the return of indig-        Committee, and the UN Special Rapporteur on              country, and at 14.5 per cent of the total population
already deforested large areas for beef production.        enous lands to the Yakye Axa community, thereby            indigenous rights called for an independent inves-       are well on their way to becoming the largest minor-
    When their lands were seized in the 1970s, mem-        undermining the supposedly binding decision made           tigation. Nevertheless, the blockades and demon-         ity in the US. In March 2009, the new president
bers of these indigenous communities remained              by the IACtHR and dealing a fatal blow to commu-           strations failed to stop the exploration projects. As    chose an encounter with the US Hispanic Chamber
as workers on the same private estates that had            nity attempts to regain their ancestral territories.       a result AIDESEP lodged an urgent appeal with            of Commerce to unveil a comprehensive new edu-
expropriated their ancestral territories. They suffered                                                               the country’s Constitutional Tribunal to halt the        cation reform plan. And in August 2009 Sonia
years of exploitation and mistreatment before being        Peru                                                       project in the part of the Peruvian Amazon known         Sotomayor – whose family background is Puerto
evicted in the early 1990s, when they started litiga-      Indigenous peoples in Peru constitute more than            as ‘Block 67’. According to Amazon Watch, for 30         Rican – became the first Hispanic woman and the
tion against the estates aimed at reclaiming a limited     half of the national population, yet social condi-         years the company involved has been discharging          third female ever to serve on the Supreme Court,
portion of their original holdings. Since then, they       tions for the majority of them continued to be less        more than 1 million barrels a day of untreated toxic     in the life-tenured position as the nation’s 111th
have been living on the highway.                           than adequate during 2009. In addition to ongoing          waste directly into the rainforest. As a result, the     justice. Sotomayor’s ten-week confirmation hearing
    After much legal wrangling in 2005 and 2006,           concerns about the chronic lack of basic services          Achuar indigenous people now have unsafe levels of       raised issues of gender and ethnicity. This included
the IACtHR found that the rights of the Yakye              such as health and education, and inadequate access        a range of toxins, including lead and cadmium, in        criticism by Republicans over her prior case rulings
Axa and Sawhoyamaxa to judicial protection, to             to income opportunities, Peru’s indigenous peoples         their bodies. The fish and game on which they have       on property rights, in a racial discrimination lawsuit
property and to life had been violated. Among other        continued to face loss of their land, which is often       traditionally depended for food self-sufficiency have    brought by white fire-fighters in New Haven, as
measures, the IACtHR ordered the return of the             their main remaining asset and only safeguard              also been poisoned.                                      well as her comments on the role of diversity in the
traditional lands. They gave Paraguayan authorities        against complete destitution.                                                                                       judiciary. The new justice received a unanimous
three years to implement this. The Court required             According to the Asociación Inter-étnica para           Afro-Peruvians                                           vote from Democratic senators, while only nine of
the authorities to provide resources to purchase the       el Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP),               According to the Afro-Peruvian organization Centro       the Senate’s 40 Republicans voted in her favour.
land from the current owners and to help the Yakye         the umbrella organization of Peru’s 60 Amazon              de Desarollo Etnico (CEDET), in 2009 about 55
Axa and Sawhoyamaxa re-establish themselves there.         indigenous groups, oil prospecting and extrac-             per cent of Afro-Peruvians continued to consider         Minority representation
However, at the end of 2009, the settlers are still        tion is now occurring in more than 80 per cent of          themselves as living in poverty, with another 23 per     Other notable Hispanic appointments included
in place and no measures to enforce the ruling have        indigenous territories, with many of the concessions       cent living in extreme poverty. The combined 78 per      Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of
been taken.                                                overlapping already titled lands of some indigenous        cent total compares unfavourably with the 50 per         Labour Hilda Solis, as well as Cecelia Munoz, direc-
    After nearly a generation as squatters, AI reported    communities. In addition, during 2009 the govern-          cent average poverty rate for the national population.   tor of the White House Office of Intergovernmental
that many traditional practices have almost vanished       ment continued to promote the development of               As a means of highlighting their ongoing margin-         Affairs, Nancy Sutley, the Chair of the White
and community cohesion and food sovereignty                large-scale agro-industry in the coastal zones, where      alization in the face of what they see as continued      House Council on Environmental Quality, Louis
through hunting and fishing are also no longer pos-        there are a number of communally titled campesino          official indifference, MRG partner organization          Caldera, the head of the White House Military
sible due to lack of access to ancestral lands and         properties. Many indigenous small farmers in the           CEDET, together with Makungu por el Desarrollo,          Office, and Moises Vela, the Vice-President’s
deforestation. Employment opportunities are also           coastal regions have been forced to pledge their land      presented in July 2009 the first-ever alternative        Director of Administration.
limited, which means that the communities now              titles to obtain commercial loans and now risk los-        report on Afro-Peruvians to the UN Committee for            Eric Holder became the nation’s first African
increasingly depend on food handouts from state            ing their land altogether.                                 the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)          American Attorney-General. Two African
agencies and private institutions.                            In April 2009, indigenous communities through-          in Geneva. The document strongly challenged the          American women were also appointed: Susan Rice
                                                           out the remote Amazon region began a series of             state’s official report to the 57th Session of CERD      as Ambassador to the UN and Melody Barnes as
New hopes                                                  blockades and protests against government plans to         and provided recommendations.                            domestic policy adviser. President Obama also
The August 2008 swearing-in of President Fernando          open up 67 million hectares of the Amazon rainfor-                                                                  named Asian Americans Eric Shinseki and Nobel
Lugo, a former Catholic bishop, initially offered          est and to allow increases in petroleum and other          United States of America                                 Prize-winning physicist, Steven Chu to serve as
some hope to Paraguay’s indigenous communities,            natural resource extraction on indigenous territories.     The election of the first US president of identifiable   Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Energy
after 61 years of one-party rule. Lugo had made            There was no prior consultation or consent.                African descent represented a watershed moment in        Secretary respectively.

94                                             Americas                          State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                          Americas                                           95
                                                                                   and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                                                                                  Left: Triqui women dance to music from Oaxaca            distress. Iraq Veterans Against the War (Fort Hood
                                                                                                                  in Greenfield public library. Over 1,000 Triquis         chapter) demanded that the military overhaul its
                                                                                                                  live in Greenfield, California, USA. David Bacon/        mental health care system and halt the repeated
                                                                                                                  Report Digital.                                          deployments of the same troops.
                                                                                                                                                                              Hasan, who is now paralysed from the waist
                                                                                                                  The Boston-based non-profit organization United          down as a result of his wounds, was charged with
                                                                                                                  for a Fair Economy reported that African American        13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts
                                                                                                                  borrowers stand to lose between US $71 billion and       of attempted murder under the Uniform Code of
                                                                                                                  US $92 billion in assets. Moreover, foreclosures         Military Justice, and may face additional charges
                                                                                                                  produce ripple-effect challenges in terms of aban-       at court-martial. Following the incident, national
                                                                                                                  doned houses, devaluation of neighbourhoods and          surveys by Rasmussen Reports found that 65 per
                                                                                                                  shortfalls in state and municipal services, as well as   cent of Americans favoured the death penalty in
                                                                                                                  potential increases in crime.                            Hasan’s case, and that 60 per cent want the case
                                                                                                                                                                           investigated as an act of terrorism. However, 80 per
                                                                                                                  Religious tolerance – the Fort Hood shooting             cent also said that they were concerned this could
                                                                                                                  In November 2009, a mass shooting at the world’s         start an anti-Muslim backlash.
                                                                                                                  largest military installation (339 square miles) in
                                                                                                                  Fort Hood, Texas, strongly tested the nation’s levels    Native American land claims
                                                                                                                  of religious tolerance, particularly the capacity of     In an effort to meet campaign pledges to Native
                                                                                                                  US society to separate violent acts by individual        Americans, the Obama administration agreed in
                                                                                                                  Muslims from the religion of Islam as a whole.           December 2009 to pay US $3.4 billion to settle a
                                                                                                                     On 5 November, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a             long-running Native American land claim case. In
                                                                                                                  39-year-old US-born army psychiatrist of Palestinian     1996, Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfoot
                                                                                                                  descent opened fire on his fellow service members at     Nation, filed a complaint alleging that for more
                                                                                                                  the Soldier Readiness Centre in Fort Hood, killing       than a century the US government had mismanaged
                                                                                                                  13 people and wounding another 30, before being          billions of dollars in income from natural resources
                                                                                                                  shot and severely wounded by civilian police officers.   on Native American land.
                                                                                                                     The killings raised a public outcry and risked           The dispute dates back to the 1887 Dawes Act,
                                                                                                                  increasing anti-Muslim feeling across the US. The        which handed over resource-rich Native American
                                                                                                                  fact that Hasan’s former imam later praised him          communal land to white-owned companies. As in
                                                                                                                  publicly online for the shooting, while encouraging      the rest of the Americas, the indigenous concept of
                                                                                                                  other Muslims serving in the military to ‘follow in      communally held land as opposed to privately owned
Economic recession                                       Americans reached 16 per cent, more than twice the       his footsteps’, did little to calm any anti-Islamic      property was an integral part of Blackfoot Nation
One of the first acts of the new Obama                   national average. African Americans are especially       public sentiments.                                       identity and overall belief system. Nevertheless, under
administration was to pass a US $787 billion             susceptible to downturns in the economic cycle              The shooting was widely condemned, including          the Act, their territory was divided into individual
economic stimulus package aimed at combating             compared to other Americans and have not recov-          by Nadal’s family, the Council on American-Islamic       plots with each family being assigned a portion of
the sharp downturn in the global economy, which          ered from losses during the 2001 recession.              Relations and by dissident Saudi cleric Salman al-       land. The individual families were then supposed to
several publications, including The Economist,              Among the hardest hit sectors were construction       Ouda (reportedly a former inspiration to Osama bin       be compensated for the use of their land. However,
attributed to a crisis within the financial sector of    and manufacturing, which employ a much higher            Laden), who expressed concern that the incident          the claims were disputed and grew more complicated
the US itself. While the effects of the recession were   percentage of Hispanic workers compared to the           would have negative consequences. Analysts and           with each passing generation.
widespread throughout the US, it had a notably           general population. In the larger context, rising        officials discussed Hasan’s psychological state             Many unsuccessful attempts were made to arrive
strong impact during 2009 on African American and        Hispanic unemployment poses a special challenge          and possible motive, including the fact that he          at a settlement, including several trials with the
Hispanic communities, exacerbated by the persistent      not only in the US but also in the rest of the hemi-     appeared upset about an imminent first-time              plaintiffs claiming they were owed some US $47
unfavourable socio-economic gap between these            sphere, since it results in less money being available   combat deployment to Afghanistan and that his            billion. Under the settlement the US government
groups and the rest of the population.                   for Hispanic immigrants to send back to LAC home         work involved counselling soldiers leaving for and       has agreed to pay US $3.4 billion to settle the dis-
   During 2009, the US unemployment rate rose            countries as remittances.                                returning from stress-producing battle zones in          pute. Following Congressional approval, the Interior
to 6.7 per cent, which translates into some 12 mil-         The loss of jobs also meant an increasing and         Iraq and Afghanistan. Brian Levin of the Centre          Department will use US $1.4 billion to compensate
lion unemployed people. However, figures indicate        widespread inability to make mortgage payments,          for the Study of Hate and Extremism, according to        the 300,000 members of the Blackfoot Nation and
that for male and female Hispanics, unemployment         which led to a large number of housing foreclosures      the Huffington Post, suggested that the incident fell    establish a US $2 billion fund to purchase land
rose to 12.9 per cent, while the rate for African        in African American and Hispanic communities.            somewhere between a crime, terrorism and mental          from them.

96                                           Americas                          State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                          Americas                                            97
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
African American farmers                                USDA treated as a class action suit in light of their
The issue of foreclosure, dispossession and land loss   land losses.
continues to be a major factor in rural America,           The suit was first filed in 2000 and sought to end
even in situations where communal ownership is          what the Hispanic farmers claim is blatant discrimi-
not involved. In another effort to fulfil campaign      nation in the awarding of operating and disaster
promises, President Obama announced plans in            loans between 1981 and 2000. Furthermore, in
May 2009 to provide US $1.25 billion to settle a        2009 they stated that nothing has changed since
long-standing $3 billion class action discrimination    the suit was filed nine years ago and cited the con-
lawsuit brought by African American farmers against     tinuing power loan officials have to influence land
the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).                ownership and profitability, which, when misused,
   In the 1990s, African American farmers filed a       can become an effective instrument for dispossessing
lawsuit (Pigford v. Glickman) charging the USDA         them of their land and water rights.
with a history of racism and discrimination in its         Hispanic farmers claim that the members of local
federal loan and subsidy programmes. Their charges      USDA loan boards were mostly prosperous farmers
were supported by the lead plaintiffs’ evidence as      who gave loans to their friends and acquaintances.
well as by government reports, investigations and       This caused excluded Hispanic farmers to go bank-
studies over a 30-year period. All concluded that the   rupt, leading to foreclosures. The lands would then
USDA treated African American, Hispanic, Native         be put up for auction and bought, usually by pros-
American and women farmers unfairly by taking           perous local white farmers.
longer to process their loan applications and deny-        Although a federal judge granted class-action
ing a higher percentage of their loans.                 status to the case filed by the over 14,000 African
   The lack of access to credit over the years may      American farmers in 1999, another judge denied the
have contributed greatly to a general loss of African   same designation for the 100 plus Hispanic farmers.
American farmland due to foreclosure. In 1978,          Using the example of the African American farmers’
over 30,000 African American farmers owned land         lawsuit, lawyers for the Hispanic farmers petitioned
in the US, and it is estimated that currently some      the US Supreme Court in 2009, seeking a review of
53 per cent of the USDA’s land holdings once            the decision that their clients cannot sue as a class.
belonged to African-American farmers.                   Thus far the court has rejected their request. p
   In 1999, a US District Court judge certified
the discrimination case as a class action suit. The
USDA agreed to an out-of-court settlement of
between US $450 and US $600 million. Although
it was the biggest settlement in history for a civil
rights case, it was considerably less than the farm-
ers had asked for and the plaintiffs were barred
from participating.
   With over 14,000 outstanding complaints and
another 3,000 submitted that have not been proc-
essed, in 2009 the president decided that the US
$1 billion the government has already provided was
insufficient, and requested instead a US $1.25 bil-
lion settlement package. The USDA also ordered a
temporary suspension of all foreclosures.

Hispanic farmers
Other minority farmers with similar complaints
of discrimination have also been seeking redress.
During 2009, more than 100 mostly Mexican
American farmers in several states sought to have
charges of loan grant discrimination against the

98                                          Americas                          State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities   Americas   99
                                                                                and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010

       KAZAKHSTAN                                          NORTH
                               MONGOLIA                    KOREA
TURKMENISTAN                                                 KOREA
                                                                                                   P A C I F I C
             Jammu and
  AFGHANIS   Kashmir                  CHINA                                                         O C E A N

  PAKISTAN            TIBET
                  NEPAL BHUTAN

                       BANGLADESH               Hong Kong
              INDIA          BURMA    LAOS
                                   THAILAND   VIETNAM
                         Nicobar                 BRUNEI
             SRI LANKA   Islands                                                                                Bougainville
                                          MALAYSIA                                                  PAPUA NEW     SOLOMON ISLANDS
      MALDIVES                                                                                      GUINEA
                                       SINGAPORE Borneo                      Sulawesi                                                Wallis and
                                                                                                                                     Futuna (FR.)
                                               I N D O N E S I A                     TIMOR-LESTE                                FIJI ISLANDS        French Polynesia (FR.)
                                                                                                                   New Caledonia (FR.)
                 I N D I A N
                 O C E A N                                                                    AUSTRALIA

                                                                                                                           NEW ZEALAND
                                                   Felix Corley, Jared Ferrie,
                                                   David Fickling and Farah Mihlar
                                                                    Asia and
                                                         Below: Members of the Jewish community in
                                                                                                                    Special report
                                                         Bukhara, Uzbekistan. This community can be traced
                                                         back to the twelfth century, but it is rapidly depleting

Asia                                                                                                                Religious
                                                         as many leave to avoid persecution. Leo Erken/Panos.                                                                 same controls as all other faiths.
                                                                                                                                                                                 The communities which bear the brunt of gov-
                                                         ethnic Turkmen often removed from jobs in state                                                                      ernment pressure include independent Muslims who

Felix Corley
                                                         institutions. Religious communities have struggled
                                                         to be allowed a legal existence. Uzbekistan too has
                                                                                                                    minorities in                                             function outside state-controlled structures, many
                                                                                                                                                                              Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses. These suffer
                                                         long followed highly authoritarian policies, includ-
                                                                                                                    Central Asia                                              raids by regular and security police on services and

           uthoritarian rule is now the norm in the      ing mass arrests of those presenting a real or imag-                                                                 meetings, closures of places of worship, confiscations
           five former Soviet republics of Central       ined threat to the state. In 2009, Kyrgyzstan and                                                                    of literature, interrogations, beatings, threats, fines,
           Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,     Tajikistan have both moved dramatically towards            The governments of all five Central Asian states          short-term detentions and longer prison sentences.
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The political,              authoritarianism, with new laws in each to tighten         – Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan most intensively,           Some of those held by the authorities have died in
economic, social, religious and media spheres are        already strict controls on religious activity. The         but also Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan            detention amid allegations of torture. These attacks
closely controlled in these countries – entirely in      Kazakh government, despite withdrawing a pro-              – actively try to control all religious activity,         leave a marked sense of fear among many religious
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and to a lesser             posed harsh law on religious activity in 2009 and          along with other forms of actually or potentially         communities that any public activity, especially crit-
but growing extent in the others. Following the          taking over the chairmanship of the Organisation           independent civil society activity. Despite rivalry       icism of or even publicity about state actions against
events of 2009, the US-based independent monitor         for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in          between these states, such control mechanisms are         them, could lead to further reprisals.
Freedom House in 2010 put all five states in the         2010, is following this trend, even if it still presides   remarkably similar.                                          Some of these actions against religious freedom
‘not-free’ category.                                     over the most open of the Central Asian states.               No Central Asian state allows any religious com-       are allowed by domestic laws, which often break
   Potential threats are crushed or prevented from          Ethnic minorities often feel marginalized as politi-    munity to operate totally freely. Most of Central         the relevant country’s constitution as well as
emerging, using the pretext of stability and national    cal, economic and social power is held by the domi-        Asia’s population is Muslim and the Islamic com-          international human rights agreements the countries
security. This means the suppression of human rights     nant ethnic community. Even then, power rests in           munity is under the tightest government control.          have ratified, such as the International Covenant
and severe restrictions on the activities of independ-   the hands of a few powerful families.                      Leading clerics are chosen by the president or            of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Yet officials
ent religious communities, businesses, trade unions,        Governments in the region have often followed           government, and close government control is kept          often go far beyond what is allowed, knowing that
media and NGOs. The population is kept as far as         the rhetoric of esteeming ‘traditional’ religions          over lesser appointments. The Muslim communi-             their government has no willingness to prosecute
possible from foreign contact outside state control.     (essentially state-controlled Islamic communities          ties cannot freely choose chief muftis or other           them for human rights violations. Trials of religious
   The Turkmen government has gone furthest in           and the Russian Orthodox Church, with Jewish               leaders. Turkmenistan’s presidents, for exam-             believers who are unfavourably regarded by officials
establishing total government control over society.      and Catholic minorities added as an afterthought).         ple, have frequently replaced chief muftis (most          are often conducted unfairly, with breaches of legal
Ethnic minorities have long faced state-sponsored        Communities outside this category face vilification        recently in September 2009, the fourth in a decade).      procedures laid down by domestic laws. Cases have
exclusion policies that verge on racism, with non-       through the media, limits on their legal activity and,     Independent Muslim groups outside the framework           occurred of religious believers being prosecuted
                                                                                                                    of the state-controlled Muslim structures find it         and convicted for offences which do not exist in
                                                                                                                    hard or impossible to function. All other religious       domestic law.
                                                                                                                    communities are controlled from the outside,                 In 2009, the Kyrgyz and Tajik governments
                                                                                                                    through state pressure and threats.                       brought in new highly restrictive religion laws,
                                                                                                                       The Russian Orthodox Church and the Jewish             despite strong national and international opposition.
                                                                                                                    community are often offered by state officials as         The Kazakh government tried in 2008–9 to tighten
                                                                                                                    examples of the benign approach of Central Asian          its laws on religious activity, but this sparked intense
                                                                                                                    governments to minorities. But this approach lasts        opposition from local religious communities and
                                                                                                                    only as long as the Russian Orthodox and Jewish           human rights defenders, as well as the international
                                                                                                                    communities express (a sometimes) effusive loyalty        community. Apparently for fear of the damage this
                                                                                                                    to whichever president is in power, and do not            would cause Kazakhstan’s image before taking over
                                                                                                                    attempt to reach beyond their usual ethnic constitu-      the chair of the OSCE in 2010, the government
                                                                                                                    encies. Even this does not guarantee protection from      dropped its proposed legislation. However, it has
                                                                                                                    state hostility; as reported in 2008, Tajikistan’s only   announced its intention to bring in similar measures
                                                                                                                    synagogue was bulldozed to make way for a presi-          in 2011.
                                                                                                                    dential palace. Catholics and Lutherans also have            The Kazakh government’s website for its
                                                                                                                    similar levels of protection, although they face the      2010 chairmanship of the OSCE claims that its

                                                                                                                    State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                   103
                                                                                                                    and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                         to varying degrees, raids on their members, beat-         various drafts of a proposed revised Administrative       growing number are being expelled. Indeed, for-
                                                         ings, fines and imprisonment. Religious publications      Code, expected to be adopted in late 2010.                eigners are subjected more widely to human rights
                                                         mostly face government censorship. The states often          In July 2009, Gay McDougall, the UN                    abuses. In May 2009, following a nine-day visit
policy is one of ‘freedom of conscience and              obstruct invitations for foreign fellow-believers to      Independent Expert on Minority Issues (IEMI),             to Kazakhstan, Manfred Nowak, the UN Special
freedom of religious confession’, and ‘non-              visit and take part in religious events and activi-       visited Kazakhstan. She echoed calls by local reli-       Rapporteur on torture, stated that, ‘there are some
interference by the state in the internal affairs        ties, while religious communities’ foreign contacts       gious communities and human rights defenders              groups that run larger risks of cruel, inhuman and
of religious associations’. However, within              remain a source of official suspicion. States often       for the abolition of any registration requirement.        degrading treatment than others’, noting that the
Kazakhstan, officials from the president                 refuse permission for religious communities – espe-       McDougall also complained that the Assembly of            likelihood for foreigners to be subjected to such
downwards actively promote intolerance                   cially those which the governments regard with dis-       the People of Kazakhstan – designed to give a voice       treatment seems to be ‘higher than average’.
of religious minorities. In 2008, President              favour – to open new places of worship.                   to ethnic minority communities – is a top-down               AI expressed concern in September 2009 that,
Nazarbaev warned that, ‘tens of thousands                                                                          body which is not elected on a representational           ‘Refugees are not effectively protected and con-
of different missionary organizations work in            Kazakhstan                                                basis. She also called for greater sensitivity in the     tinue to be at risk of refoulement or abductions.’
Kazakhstan. We don’t know their purposes                 Kazakhstan attempts to keep all religious communi-        promotion of Kazakh as the state language, fearing        Refoulement is a term describing when refugees are
and intentions, and we should not allow such             ties under tight government control or supervision.       that this could have an adverse impact on those who       forced to return to situations where they are at seri-
unchecked activity.’ Another sadly typical               Surveillance by the National Security Committee           may need greater time to adapt from using Russian.        ous risk of persecution; it is expressly prohibited
example was the claim in a film shown in                 (KNB), the country’s intelligence agency, is often           The majority religious faith is Islam, but the         in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of
Aqtobe to military cadets in December 2008               reported by minority religious groups, as is the          minority of Muslims who choose to practise their          Refugees, which Kazakhstan has acceded to. AI
by the Justice Ministry’s Religious Affairs              use of highly intrusive questionnaires requesting         faith outside the framework of the pro-government         warned that the Kazakh authorities continue to
Department that the Hare Krishna faith                   information such as believers’ political views and        Muslim Board face particular pressure. In February        cooperate with China, Russia and Uzbekistan in the
incites devotees to commit murder.                       the names of religious leaders’ close friends. Among      2008, 14 out of 15 Muslims arrested in April 2007         name of regional security and counter-terrorism, ‘in
   Common features of the countries’ laws on             the violations of human rights faced by religious         were given prison sentences of between 14 years and       ways that breach their obligations under interna-
religious activity which defy international human        minorities and other religious groups are: attacks        19 years 6 months at a closed trial in Shymkent.          tional human rights and refugee law’.
rights commitments are many. An example is               on religious freedom by officials from President          The remaining prisoner received a three-year correc-
the bans on unregistered religious activity. Small-      Nursultan Nazarbaev downwards; censorship; state-         tive labour sentence.                                     Kyrgyzstan
scale private religious meetings in private homes        sponsored encouragement of religious intolerance;            The deliberate nature of such official hostility       In January 2009, a highly restrictive new religion
can be punished as an administrative or even a           legal restrictions on freedom of religion or belief;      towards the right of all to freedom of religion or        law came into force, amid protests from human
criminal offence. Religious communities which            raids, interrogations, threats and fines affecting both   belief was illustrated by 2008–9 moves to adopt           rights defenders, religious communities and interna-
cannot or do not want to acquire state registra-         registered and unregistered religious communities         harsh new legislation changing the religion law and       tional bodies, including the OSCE. Human rights
tion risk raids and imprisonment if they meet            and individuals; unfair trials; the jailing of a few      amending the Administrative Code and other laws.          defender Aziza Abdirasulova, of the Kylym Shamy
together as a community. Many have had to go             particularly disfavoured religious believers; restric-    This would have imposed further controls on reli-         (Candle of the Century) Centre for Human Rights
underground and meet only in small groups.               tions on social and charitable work; close police and     gious activity: for example, small religious groups       Protection, told the news service of the Norway-
Arbitrary denial of registration allows officials        KNB surveillance; and attempts to deprive religious       would not have been allowed to maintain open              based religious freedom organization Forum 18 that,
the possibility of preventing communities they           communities of their property. These are coupled          places of worship. Penalties for holding religious        ‘The new law contradicts international human rights
regard with disfavour from gaining a legal exist-        with violations of other fundamental human rights,        services, conducting charitable work, importing,          standards.’ According to Shamy, the new law broke
ence. Independent Muslims, non-Muslim com-               such as freedom of expression and of association.         publishing or distributing religious literature, or       the Constitution’s guarantee that, ‘No laws restrict-
munities with members of a traditionally Muslim             Unregistered religious activity, despite being fully   building or opening places of worship in viola-           ing freedom of speech and freedom of the press may
background, and faiths which are new to the              allowed in the country’s international human rights       tion of ‘demands established in law’ would have           be adopted’, as well as the guarantee of freedom
region are most likely to face arbitrary denial          commitments and not specifically banned in Kazakh         been increased. Repeat ‘offences’ would have led          of ‘thought, speech and press … [and] unimpeded
of registration. Even for communities that face          law, is penalized under the Administrative Code.          to a religious community being banned. These              expression of those thoughts and beliefs’. Some of
less official disfavour, registration can be time-       Those brought to trial often state that legal proceed-    changes were approved in November 2008 by the             the new restrictions, for example the wide-ranging
consuming and expensive to arrange, requiring            ings are conducted unfairly and not in accordance         parliament, the lower house of which is composed          bans on ‘proselytism’ and the distribution of reli-
permission from a range of state agencies.               with Kazakh law. Members of religious minorities          exclusively of deputies from the president’s party.       gious literature, restrict both freedom of speech
   Other aspects of religious activity which             such as the Council of Churches Baptists, who             These were found by the Constitutional Council to         and freedom of the press. A legal challenge in the
attract active official hostility in all five states     oppose registration on principle, have been fined.        violate the Constitution, as local and international      Constitutional Court was dismissed in July 2009.
– particularly but not only by communities               When they refuse to pay these fines they often have       human rights defenders had repeatedly pointed out.           The new law requires all religious communi-
without state registration – include owning or           property, such as cars, washing machines and live-        However, in its National Human Rights Action              ties to re-register with the State Committee for
renting places of worship, carrying out religious        stock, confiscated. In several cases, leaders refusing    Plan, the government has indicated that it will be        Religious Affairs (SCRA) by 1 January 2010. It bars
education inside a community, sharing beliefs            to pay fines have been imprisoned for up to five          introducing similar legislation in 2011.                  communities not registered by the SCRA and the
with others and maintaining foreign contacts. p          days and court-ordered bans on their congregations           The authorities are particularly suspicious of legal   Justice Ministry from receiving legal status. Those
                                                         have been handed down. Such penalties remain in           foreign residents involved in religious activity. A       with fewer than 200 members are prohibited from

104                                   Asia and Oceania                         State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                  105
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
registering with the SCRA. All the 200 must be             abroad without state approval. A joint Council of          banned the Salafi school of Islamic thought. In           tions on their activity. In December 2010, Deputy
adult Kyrgyz citizens, who must provide personal           Europe (CoE) and OSCE legal review of the draft            September 2009, a religious affairs official defended     Culture Minister Mavlon Mukhtarov stated that if
data. The application also needs to include informa-       law found that it imposes ‘undue constraints on            criminal charges against up to 17 members of the          the number of mosques in a local area exceeds the
tion about the organization’s religious faith, form        religious activity in the country’ and that ‘provisions    banned Jehovah’s Witnesses, for allegedly inciting        new religion law’s mosque quotas, ‘we will close
of rites, history in Kyrgyzstan and attitude towards       are inconsistent with OSCE commitments and gen-            inter-religious hatred. This carries a sentence of        down mosques which exceed the quotas’.
marriage, family, education and military service.          eral international human rights standards’.                between five and nine years’ imprisonment.
Finally, written permission is needed from the local          In August 2009, Kyrgyzstan established a state             A harsh new law on religions was approved by           Turkmenistan
authorities for the use of premises where the com-         Coordinating Council on the Struggle against               the Tajik parliament in March 2009. It was signed         All religious activity remains under tight govern-
munity meets.                                              Religious Extremism. The execution of council deci-        by President Emomali Rahmon in the same month             ment control. The Muftiate (Muslim Board) is con-
   Smaller religious communities, including some           sions will be obligatory for the different parts of the    and came into force in April. The law was adopted         trolled from the inside through the state’s appoint-
Protestants, Baha’is and Hare Krishna devotees,            government, but officials were unclear as to what          despite protests by local human rights defenders          ment of the chief mufti and other imams, while all
expressed concern to human rights monitors                 they mean by religious extremism and what the              and religious communities, as well as international       other faiths are controlled from the outside through
and international media that they did not have             council will do. It is led by the SCRA, the Interior       bodies, including the OSCE and the UN Special             intimidation, threats and arbitrary interference. All
enough members to register. Throughout 2009,               Ministry and the NSS security police, and will have        Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma         religious communities have to abide by the highly
SCRA officials refused to process registration or          members from other parts of the government, the            Jahangir. She warned that enacting such a law             restrictive law regulating religious practice, which
re-registration applications in all but a handful of       state-sanctioned Muslim Board and the Russian              ‘could lead to undue limitations on the rights of         bans all unregistered religious activity and strictly
cases, citing the absence of approved regulations to       Orthodox Church.                                           religious communities and could impermissibly             limits registered religious expression.
enact the new law.                                            A draft Strategy on State Policy in the Religious       restrict religious activities of minority communities’.      Although the government allows Sunni Islam to
   Officials of the Prosecutor’s Office, police,           Sphere from 2009 to 2015, made public in October              Restrictions imposed by the law include provi-         operate (within tightly controlled limits), this is not
national security service (NSS) security police,           2009, aimed to tackle ‘external and internal threats       sions that: the founders of a religious organization      the case for Shia Islam, which is mainly professed by
local executive authorities and the SCRA have              connected with religion, and the rise of radical reli-     seeking registration must show a document from            the ethnic Azeri and Iranian minorities in the west
visited many non-Muslim religious communities              gious movements and inter-confessional contradic-          their local executive body certifying that they have      of the country. Under former President Saparmurat
across the country. Jehovah’s Witnesses in Maili-          tions in Kyrgyzstan’. It proposed a list of banned         lived in their territory and adhered to the religion      Niyazov (who ruled for 21 years and died in 2006),
Suu faced raids and summonses in April 2009. In            religious organizations, set out new restrictions and      for at least five years; the government must now          a Turkmen-speaking and ethnically homogeneous
some regions, branches of Protestant Churches,             called for tighter monitoring of foreign missionar-        approve all published or imported religious litera-       Turkmen national identity was promoted, of which
which had been officially registered in Bishkek,           ies. Visas for foreigners involved in religious activity   ture, which can only be in an ‘appropriate quantity’;     Sunni Islam was seen as a part. The policy contin-
were ordered by the local authorities in spring            have already been cancelled or denied.                     the number of mosques is limited; state controls are      ues to be evident in official harassment of ethnic
2009 to stop their worship meetings, saying that                                                                      imposed on the appointment of imams, although             Turkmen members of religious minorities, as well
their ‘registration in Bishkek does not cover their        Tajikistan                                                 other faiths appear free to appoint their own lead-       as of non-Turkmen minorities. Ethnic Turkmens
activity’ outside the capital.                             In recent years, Tajikistan has seen an increasing         ers; Muslim prayers can only take place in mosques,       who are members of non-Muslim faiths face public
   The 2009 law banned the sharing of one’s faith,         crackdown on all religious activity that is independ-      homes and cemeteries, not at places of work or on         humiliation and accusations from officials of betray-
required state examination of all imported religious       ent of state control, in which minority religious          the streets around mosques when mosques are full;         ing their nation. And while the Russian Orthodox
materials and banned all distribution of religious         believers and groups – both inside and outside the         all religious organizations must get the consent of       Church is tolerated, the Armenian Apostolic
literature and other materials in public places. It also   majority Islamic community – have been major               the government to invite foreigners or attend reli-       Church has been banned from being revived. An
required the registration of all religious education       targets. Starting in 2007, many mosques or Muslim          gious conferences outside the country; and written        estimated 15 per cent of those who attend Russian
programmes, whether full- or part-time. Such reli-         prayer halls, the country’s only synagogue in the          permission from both parents is required before           Orthodox churches are said by local people to be
gious education can only be conducted by registered        capital Dushanbe and Protestant churches have been         children can take part in religious education.            Armenians. No Armenian Apostolic communities
religious organizations and with local authority           closed, bulldozed or threatened with confiscation. All        The new law also bans unregistered religious           have legal status.
permission.                                                Jehovah’s Witness activity was permanently banned          activity, in defiance of international human rights          Acquiring new places of worship is almost impos-
   Since the religion law was enacted, the SCRA has        in 2007 and two small Protestant communities were          standards. Since 2006, almost no religious organiza-      sible for religious communities. While the Russian
been drafting a new Law on Religious Education             ‘temporarily’ banned in that year. One of these was        tions have reportedly been given state registration.      Orthodox Church, perhaps the least restricted faith,
and Educational Institutions which, if adopted in          allowed to resume activities in late 2008. State offi-     Shortly before the re-registration deadline of 1          was finally able to consecrate three new churches
its current form, would impose further restrictions        cials publicly denied in 2008 that the bans were in        January 2010 imposed by the new legislation, fewer        in 2009 after long official obstruction, other com-
on the activities of religious organizations and edu-      operation, despite official statements to the contrary     than half the religious communities in the country        munities without existing places of worship are
cational institutions. An autumn 2009 draft would          and the testimony of the minorities concerned.             had been re-registered. Some mosques had already          confined to ad hoc arrangements to which the
reportedly impose sweeping controls on who could              The Tajik authorities continued to impose such          been refused re-registration, and many were waiting       authorities can object at any point. No official com-
open religious educational institutions. It would          bans in 2009. The activity of a Baptist congregation       for registration, along with the Baptist Union and        pensation has been given for the many mosques, the
ban all but approved and licensed institutions, limit      in Dushanbe was forbidden because they met for             the country’s only synagogue. When re-registering         Hare Krishna temple and the Seventh-day Adventist
the numbers of students in such institutions and           worship in a private home without state registration.      some non-Muslim communities, the Religious                church bulldozed, or for Protestant churches confis-
ban individuals from seeking religious education           Commencing in February 2009, the Supreme Court             Affairs Department imposed territorial restric-           cated in the last decade. All the mosques which have

106                                  Asia and Oceania                            State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                   107
                                                                                   and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                                                                                    Right: An Uzbek family in a village in the Dashogus       up largely of ethnic Uzbeks or others deemed to be
                                                                                                                    region of Turkmenistan. Carolyn Drake/Panos.              of Muslim background – is all but impossible. Also
                                                                                                                                                                              banned and punishable in law is any form of reli-
                                                                                                                    used as an instrument of social control. Detained         gious education without specific state approval, as
                                                                                                                    religious believers are routinely beaten in custody       well as the sharing of one’s faith. Religious literature
                                                                                                                    and some women have reported being raped or               is censored by the government; specific permission
                                                                                                                    sexually abused by officers or threatened with such       is required to print or import any religious publica-
                                                                                                                    abuse. One female Jehovah’s Witness minor was             tion, with quantities to be determined by officials.
                                                                                                                    sexually abused in police custody in Samarkand in            While the law lays down strict limits on ‘permis-
                                                                                                                    2008. Such sexual assaults, or even rumours of such       sible’ religious activity, many of the restrictions
                                                                                                                    assaults, have a double impact on women in such           imposed by officials are arbitrary and go far beyond
                                                                                                                    a conservative society where conventions of ‘hon-         what the law declares. Religious communities –
                                                                                                                    our’ are deeply ingrained. Religious believers given      whether Muslim or of other faiths – are not able to
                                                                                                                    long prison terms for practising their faith, as well     buy, build or open places of worship freely. Some
                                                                                                                    as other prisoners in Uzbekistan, continue to face        places of worship have been confiscated. Open as
                                                                                                                    torture and ill-treatment once in prison or labour        well as covert surveillance of religious believers and
                                                                                                                    camp. The UN Committee against Torture found              communities by the security police is widespread.
                                                                                                                    in November 2007 that the use of torture by Uzbek         The NSS has sent agents to monitor worship,
                                                                                                                    state officials is ‘routine’.                             recruited spies within communities and even hidden
                                                                                                                       While the state-backed Muftiate is under com-          microphones in places of worship.
                                                                                                                    plete government control, with the state appointing          Mosques have on occasion been arbitrarily
                                                                                                                    the chief mufti and all clerics, Islamic groups which     banned from allowing women or children to attend,
                                                                                                                    choose to practise their faith outside this structure     while night prayers in the Muslim holy month of
been built in recent years have been by decision of         ice is offered, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have in         face intense state pressure. Mahalla committees           Ramadan have been banned in places. Non-Muslim
the government and often with government funds,             recent years borne the brunt of this. Speaking at       maintain lists of active religious believers in their     communities complain that they are banned from
despite the constitutional separation of religion from      the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva in             district, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and many            holding religious services in Uzbek, being forced
the state. No independent mosques are allowed to            March 2009, the head of the Turkmen government          independent Muslims have been imprisoned. In late         to use Russian. Religious books or recordings,
open or function.                                           delegation Shirin Akhmedova rejected the recom-         2008, a fierce campaign was unleashed against fol-        whether or not they have been specifically banned,
   Religious believers – especially Protestants and         mendations from numerous international organiza-        lowers of the late Turkish Muslim theologian Said         are routinely seized during police raids on religious
Jehovah’s Witnesses – have been fired from their            tions and oversight mechanisms – including the          Nursi; in 2009, according to Forum 18’s calcula-          communities. Courts frequently order such
jobs or evicted from their homes because of their           UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and        tions, at least 47 adherents had received prison sen-     confiscated literature, including Christian Bibles, to
faith. Their children have also been threatened with        belief, Asma Jahangir – that Turkmenistan intro-        tences totalling some 380 years, with the possibility     be burned.
expulsion from schools, including in 2009.                  duce a civilian alternative to compulsory military      that other trials of Nursi adherents went unreported.        Numbers of hajj pilgrims are restricted by the
   Religious communities are forcibly isolated from         service. While in 2007 and 2008 most conscientious      AI put the number of Nursi prisoners at over 68.          government to about 5,000, which is about a fifth
their fellow-believers abroad. Many known active            objectors were given suspended sentences, living        At the end of 2009, one Protestant pastor and three       of the pilgrim quota granted by Saudi Arabia. All
religious believers are blacklisted from leaving the        at home with many restrictions and often having         Jehovah’s Witnesses remained in prison serving            pilgrims need approval from their local authori-
country, even if they have a valid passport. Rarely do      to hand over some of their earnings to the state,       long sentences. Also in 2009, Forum 18 knew of 21         ties, the NSS and the Hajj Commission, which is
officials give reasons why individuals are entered in       the policy of imprisoning conscientious objectors       religious minority believers (Protestant Christians,      controlled by the state Religious Affairs Committee
the computer travel blacklist. Those barred from trav-      resumed in May 2009.                                    Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baha’is) who received             and the Muftiate. Active religious believers of a
elling at Ashgabad airport receive no compensation                                                                  prison terms of between 5 and 15 days to punish           variety of faiths have had the required two-year
for their wasted airplane tickets. In previous years, the   Uzbekistan                                              them for their religious activity. Fines are routinely    exit permission withheld, preventing them from
government allowed only 188 Muslim pilgrims to              Of all the states of Central Asia, the government       handed down for various religious ‘offences’, such as     travelling abroad even if they have a valid passport.
travel each year on the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, but       of Uzbekistan has gone the furthest in deploying        religious meetings in private homes, with fines often     Foreign citizens legally resident in Uzbekistan have
in 2009 it banned any from travelling, citing fears of      force against religious believers as part of its sys-   100 times the minimum monthly wage.                       been expelled to punish them for religious activity.
the spread of the H1N1 virus. Turkmenistan’s hajj           tem of control over all religious activity. Religious      Uzbekistan’s highly restrictive 1998 religion law      Jehovah’s Witness Irfon Khamidov was expelled in
quota is believed to be about 5,000. Only in excep-         worship and other religious meetings are at risk of     bans all unregistered religious activity, and penalties   May 2009, one day after the end of his two-year
tional circumstances does the government’s Religious        raids by the security police, the National Security     are imposed through the administrative and crimi-         prison sentence; Khamidov had lived in the country
Affairs Committee allow religious communities to            Service (NSS), ordinary police, and local adminis-      nal codes. Gaining state registration for new com-        for some years. Before being deported to his native
invite fellow-believers from abroad.                        trative officials, as well as by members of the local   munities – especially for independent Muslim com-         Tajikistan, he was allowed to see his two-year-old
   No alternative to compulsory military serv-              mahalla (neighbourhood) committees, which are           munities, non-Muslim communities led or made              son for the first time for one night only. p

108                                   Asia and Oceania                            State of the World’s Minorities   State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                    109
                                                                                    and Indigenous Peoples 2010     and Indigenous Peoples 2010
South                                                    Special report

Asia                                                     The rise in
Farah Mihlar
                                                         extremism in
          outh Asia is likely to remain high on the
          international political agenda in 2010,
          particularly due to the worsening situation    a minority
in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is linked to global
geopolitical and security challenges. Increased          context and
                                                         its impact on
attacks by al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the
failure in 2009 by the governments of Afghanistan,
Pakistan and their international allies to limit their
activities, are putting the lives of large numbers of
civilians under threat. In such situations of conflict
                                                         women: a look
minorities, including Christians and Sikhs in
Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP),          at the situation
are among the most vulnerable. Communities
become trapped between warring sides and are             of Muslims in
                                                         Sri Lanka
victims of large-scale human rights violations
and displacement.
   The fortunes of the rest of South Asia remained
mixed throughout 2009. Sri Lanka entered a new
phase in its post-independence history with the          Sri Lanka’s 8 per cent Muslim population has
end of a bloody 30-year conflict. The situation in       experienced major cultural changes that have
Sri Lanka for ethnic minorities, however, remains        accelerated in the last two decades. During this
of concern as targeted human rights violations           period, there has been a religious resurgence,
continue, and there is little talk of post-war           bringing with it both a greater emphasis on
reconciliation or a political settlement involving       religious identity and a rise in radicalism among
minorities. At the close of 2009, Nepal was nearing      Muslims. This is manifest in a significant shift
a political crisis. The country’s attempt to draft       in religious practices and identity, demonstrated   religious resurgence and radicalism, particularly in    Above: Veiled Muslim women walking in the
a constitution, following the end of a conflict          by such basic forms of expression as the dress      Muslim societies, is on Muslims in a majority con-      streets of Eravur, Eastern Sri Lanka. Dushiyanthini
and the shift from a monarchy to a republic,             code for Muslim women. Previously influenced        text or in a religious state. But, sometimes the very   Kanagasabapathipillai.
was close to a breakdown due to disagreements            by neighbouring Indian Tamil culture, Sri           fact that a community is in the minority can also
between political elites and the Maoists. In spite       Lankan Muslim women are increasingly adopt-         bring about such changes. The dynamics of religious     majority Sinhalese and the largest minority group,
of its increasing political and economic influence,      ing a dress code more closely linked to religious   change differ in a minority context to a majority       the Tamils. Nevertheless, Muslims were deeply
the regional super-power India failed to play a          and cultural practices of the Arabian Peninsula.    one, and women can be particularly affected by          affected, especially those living in the war-torn north
constructive role in the case of both countries. In         In Sri Lanka, social and cultural changes,       extremism in such situations.                           and east of the country. As the ‘other’ community,
India, despite strong constitutional guarantees on       increased radicalism and a hardening of atti-          There are multiple social, political and economic    i.e. the second largest minority, however, the impact
minority protection, there were reports of human         tudes are not entirely unique to Muslims. They      factors that have contributed to the recent religious   of the conflict on them was rarely considered, and
rights violations against minorities, indigenous         have been among the main social consequences        and cultural changes among Muslims in Sri Lanka.        the Muslim community was repeatedly left out of
communities and Dalits.                                  of the 30-year ethnic conflict in the country and   They cannot all be discussed here, but a few should     attempts at conflict resolution.
   A growing trend of radical, sometimes militant,       have affected all religious communities, includ-    be highlighted in order to enable a better under-          This contributed to an increasing need felt by many
nationalism and religious extremism throughout the       ing Buddhists, Christians and Hindus.               standing of the changes that have occurred. The         Sri Lankan Muslims to redefine their identity beyond
region is posing a major threat to religious minori-        Much of the research that exists on issues of    Sri Lankan conflict was largely fought between the      the national level to a more global one, encompassing
ties. In Pakistan, the Taliban and other Islamic

110                                 Asia and Oceania                      State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                         Asia and Oceania                                  111
                                                                            and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                militant groups have endangered the lives of reli-
                                                                                                                                                                                gious minorities, particularly Christians. In India,
                                                                                                                                                                                Hindu nationalist extremists continued to threaten
                                                                                                                                                                                Christians and Muslims, particularly among the
the ‘ummah’ or a global Islamic community. Constant      to Sri Lanka for scholarships and charitable activities.        Interestingly, many women have also chosen             poorest and most marginalized sections of soci-
attacks and harassment against the Muslim commu-         These are generally linked to a particular school of         to use the headscarf to achieve some level of             ety, such as the Dalits. In Sri Lanka and Nepal,
nity by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), who fought the Sri      Islam known as Wahhabism, which is widely consid-            emancipation. They feel that they can negotiate           Buddhist (in the former) and Hindu (in the latter)
Lankan government until 2009 for a separate state for    ered by academics and commentators to be a more              more freedoms, including being able to travel and         radical groups harassed other religious communities
Tamils, also led Muslims, particularly those living in   radical version of Islam. In the last few years, there       participate in public life. These would previously        and attacked their places of worship.
the north and east of the country, to dissociate them-   have been at least two students from every major             not have been encouraged in some conservative
selves from Tamil society and culture.                   madrasa or Islamic religious school in Sri Lanka who         traditional sections of the community. A young            Afghanistan
   Muslims in Sri Lanka have also been affected by       have been awarded scholarships to study at Saudi uni-        Muslim girl studying at Ummul Mumineen, a                 A significant part of 2009 was taken up by the
broader political and religious trends, including glo-   versities; the scale of this funding is a recent develop-    Muslim finishing school, said in 2007:                    presidential elections that were marred by wide-
bal power dynamics, affecting Muslims everywhere.        ment. Moreover, this is replacing the previous practice                                                                spread allegations of fraud, affecting the political
They too are influenced by the growing transna-          of sending such students to study in India.                  ‘Traditional thinking parents try to stop girls’ educa-   stability of the country. The first round of elections
tional Muslim discourse on issues affecting Muslim           One of most obvious indicators of the changes            tion. In Islam, as long as religion is adhered to, a      was held on 20 August, the result of which was that
communities and criticism against states in the glo-     occurring among Muslims is the shift in women’s              woman can advance in education – this is very liber-      the incumbent President Hamid Karzai was unable
bal North for their foreign policy positions towards     dress code. Until recently, Muslim women wore                ating. If our husband dies, we have to be able to con-    to stave off a run-off, while his side was tainted
Muslim countries and populations. The last decade        Indian saris. Young girls wore salwar kameez (long           tinue to fend for ourselves. Old-fashioned people are     by widespread allegations of fraud. The second
has seen an acceleration of protests outside mosques     shirts with trousers), an outfit seen all over South         scared to send girls to go on their own to pursue their   round was fixed for 7 November, but was called
in Sri Lanka over the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq     Asia. They draped their mundanis (long scarves made          studies. We can do it as long as we are in hijab.’        off when Karzai’s main opponent, Dr Abdullah
and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.                of light fabric) over their breasts and, when neces-                                                                   Abdullah, pulled out of the race. Karzai ultimately
   A combination of these factors has led to a resur-    sary, such as in prayers, used it to loosely cover their     Since they live in a minority context, Muslim             gained another term, but his reputation was weak-
gence of Islam and an Arabization of religion and        heads. However, in the last 20 years or so, Sri Lankan       women’s freedoms are not necessarily limited to           ened. Throughout the campaign and during the
culture among Sri Lankan Muslims in the past two         Muslim women have increasingly begun to shun this            those expressed by their own tradition. They have         elections, ethnic issues played out, often causing
decades. This is not an entirely new phenomenon.         dress code in favour of an Arab-style dress with a head-     the desire to access the same rights and freedoms         tensions among communities. In the province of
There have been occasions in history, such as during     scarf, in some instances combined with a face veil, and,     as Sinhalese and Tamil women, despite extremely           Balkh, in the relatively more stable northern part
Sri Lanka’s independence movement, when Muslims          more often than not, entirely in black. This dress code      rare occurrences of discrimination against them           of Afghanistan, the Institute for War and Peace
linked their identity to Arab traders and, on various    shows no Sri Lankan or even South Asian influence. In        as a minority, or prejudice because of their dress        Reporting said in September 2009 that tensions
occasions, took on aspects of Arab cultural practices.   the crowded streets of many big cities in Sri Lanka and      code. This specific minority context contributes          between Pashtuns and Tajiks were destabilizing the
But the scope and extent to which this is occurring      in popular public spaces in the capital city Colombo,        to their negotiating their emancipation. In               province. Ethnic minorities, such as Hazaras and
now is unprecedented.                                    Muslim women are now more clearly identifiable.              response, however, Muslim religious leaders are           Uzbeks, also came under pressure as both candidates
   This trend has been intensified by two further fac-       In any society, particularly in a minority context, it   increasingly trying to dissuade women from taking         went all out to vie for their support, which had the
tors. First, when Sri Lanka’s economy was liberalized    is not unusual for women to be forced into taking on         on demanding careers. Imams argue that Muslim             potential to decide the election.
in the 1980s, a large number of Muslims belonging        the role of embodying the group’s cultural or religious      women should not have too much contact with                  Karzai was declared president on 3 November.
to lower-income categories took up employment as         identity – Muslims in Sri Lanka are not alone in this.       men, even if they comply with the stricter dress          He has ahead of him an enormous task, as coali-
migrant workers in the Middle East. As these work-       However, in Sri Lanka, the shift in dress code appears       code, and warn that families are being neglected.         tion force governments are under public pres-
ers began returning from countries such as Saudi         to have happened largely voluntarily. None of the            The subtext is that Islamic values are being eroded       sure to bring home their troops, and Afghans are
Arabia and Kuwait, they brought home religious           women interviewed by MRG spoke of being forced to            and that Muslim women are not fulfilling what             increasingly frustrated by the rising violence and
influences and practices that were markedly different    adopt the headscarf or the Arab-style dress. There is,       the religion considers to be their primary role.          the increasing numbers of civilian casualties. Amid
from those in Sri Lanka. Since the eighth century,       however, considerable influence and pressure exerted            Despite these pressures, many Muslim women             domestic and international criticism over high lev-
when Islam was brought to Sri Lanka by Arab and          by male and female religious preachers to maintain           from all walks of life continue to challenge the          els of corruption and ineffective governance, the
Indian traders, Indian Tamil and Sinhala Buddhist        the practice. Imams and religious leaders argue that         various barriers they face both from outside              Taliban continues to grow in strength, posing a
influences became woven into religious practices and     it is compulsory for women, while there is far less          and inside the community. However, with                   major security and human rights threat. Between
culture. The ‘new’ Islam brought back by migrant         pressure on men to abide by any specific Islamic dress       the growing Arab influence on Sri Lanka’s                 January and December 2009, the civilian death
workers was critical of the ‘old’ Islam, particularly    code. Often, mosque sermons throughout the country           Muslims and the resultant strengthening of                toll rose to 2,412 compared to 2,118 during the
with regard to dress code and traditional customs        are dedicated to the theme of how women should               radical elements, the space for Sri Lankan                same period the previous year, the UN Mission in
associated with births, marriages and funerals.          dress and behave, providing examples and condemn-            Muslim women to achieve greater freedom and               Afghanistan reported.
    Second, funds have poured in from Saudi Arabia       ing those who do not comply.                                 autonomy could shrink in the years to come. p                In July 2009, President Karzai signed a new law
                                                                                                                                                                                that severely restricts the rights of minority Shia

112                                Asia and Oceania                             State of the World’s Minorities       State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                  113
                                                                                  and Indigenous Peoples 2010         and Indigenous Peoples 2010
women. The Shia Personal Status Law was criti-
cized by women’s human rights groups for allow-
                                                          Awami League government and the United People’s
                                                          Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, was largely         Local group                                                 occupy land belonging to Hindu families. These fam-
                                                                                                                                                                               ilies have lived on this land for over a hundred years.
ing a husband to withhold food from his wife for
not having sex with him, restricting women from
                                                          neglected by the previous Bangladesh National
                                                          Party government. The return to power of the             supported by                                                According to eyewitnesses, local police were present
                                                                                                                                                                               at the scene, but did not take any action.

                                                                                                                   ruling party
working without permission and denying women’s            Awami League raised some hopes, but, despite the                                                                         Later, the police deployed forces to take control
custody rights over their children. Compared with         commitments, human rights violations continued                                                                       of the land. Angry residents responded by staging a
an earlier draft, there were some changes, but many       to be recorded against ethnic and religious minority                                                                 demonstration at the police station demanding the
of the repressive measures remain. It was expected
to be discussed in parliament but was approved by
                                                          and indigenous communities in the CHT. Evictions
                                                          and the forced displacement of communities, such
                                                                                                                   activists try to                                            immediate arrest of the attackers. However, police
                                                                                                                                                                               officers interviewed by Odhikar said no idol was
President Karzai, reportedly to win over the political
support of senior Shia leaders ahead of the presiden-
                                                          as the Mady and Garo in the CHT, continued to
                                                          be reported by human rights groups and the media         occupy Hindu                                                vandalized, though they did admit to the gunshots
tial elections. A separate family law for the country’s
Shia, mandated under the Constitution, had been
a long-standing demand of the community, which
                                                          in 2009. In February 2009, the CHT Commission
                                                          stated that, ‘Indigenous and religious minorities
                                                          have been targets not only of land-grabbing, but
                                                                                                                   temple                                                          The disputed land is supposed to have been
                                                                                                                                                                               owned by a Hindu who left for India in 1947.
                                                                                                                                                                               Ruling party leaders in the area, however, say the
feared the imposition of a family code dictated by        also of human rights violations including arbitrary                                                                  land belongs to them and have accused Hindus
the majority Sunni. Many Shia in Afghanistan,             arrest, unlawful detention, torture, rape, killing       Odhikar, a leading Bangladeshi human rights                 of encroaching on the land. On 30 March 2009,
including Hazara, endured grave human rights              and religious persecution.’ In November 2009, the        organization, tells Farah Mihlar about the                  one of the political leaders, through a court order,
abuses under the religious strictures of the Taliban.     Jumma community blocked streets and protested            unique manner in which religious communities                evicted at least 15 families from the area.
Minority Rights Group International (MRG)                 over the failure to prosecute a soldier who had          in Bangladesh are affected by state sponsored                   Raghu Nath, an eyewitness and publicity secre-
expressed concern regarding the impact of the law         attempted to rape a Jumma woman. According to            land-grabs and attacks.                                     tary of the temple managing committee, explaining
on Shia women. While it appears to have been              the non-governmental organization (NGO) Survival                                                                     the incident, said that groups of people with politi-
passed in the name of protecting the rights of a reli-    International, seven people were injured as soldiers                                                                 cal connections attacked the temple and vandalized
gious minority community, it is in fact in violation      attempted to break up the protest.                        In Bangladesh, the perpetrators of attacks against         the images of gods and goddesses. He alleged that
of international women’s human rights principles.            Bangladesh’s small Urdu-speaking, non-Bengali         religious minorities are often associated with politi-      they have been trying to occupy the land and the
The law also ignores non-discrimination provisions        Bihari population faced citizenship issues during the    cians and the violence is almost always linked to           police are supporting them in this regard. He also
contained in the Afghan Constitution.                     2009. In 2008, local media reported that a High          incidents of land grabbing and/or evictions. On             said that the same gang went to the temple on
                                                          Court had ordered 300,000 Biharis be granted citi-       11 September 2009, the Daily New Age newspaper              28 April 2009 and injured 10 persons in a bid to
Bangladesh                                                zenship after over 30 years of living in poor condi-     reported that a group of local people with backing          occupy the land. A case was filed in this connection,
A month after being sworn in as prime minister in         tions as stateless in camps. Despite being given iden-   from ruling party politicians allegedly vandalized          on 29 April, accusing 30 people, but the police had
January 2009, Sheikh Hasina, head of the Awami            tity cards to vote in the December 2008 elections,       idols of a Hindu temple located on a piece of dis-          not arrested anyone by time of writing.
League, faced a mutiny by border guards that left at      media reports in early 2009 stated that the Biharis      puted vested property in RM Das Lane at Sutrapur                ‘We have been residing here as successors of our
least 74 people, mainly soldiers in the army, dead.       had not been provided with passports, restricting        in old Dhaka. (Property known as ‘vested and non-           earlier generations although we have no papers and
The mutiny was brought to an end with the arrest          their freedom of movement.                               resident’ property was earlier called ‘enemy prop-          documents. A few local leaders prepared fake docu-
of some 700 border guards. Apart from this, the              The situation for the larger refugee population       erty’, and belonged to the Hindu community that             ments showing ownership of the land and somehow
political situation in Bangladesh remained largely        in Bangladesh, the Rohingya, remained extremely          left East Pakistan after the 1965 war between India         obtained a court order in their favour,’ Chanchal
stable through 2009.                                      poor. Rohingyas are Burmese Muslims who fled             and Pakistan.)                                              Roy, General Secretary of the temple committee,
   Incidents of violence and land seizures affect-        their homeland due to persecution. They live in             Local residents said they also fired several rounds of   told Odhikar, adding, ‘We have neither the money
ing ethnic minorities in Bangladesh were recorded         squalid camps, and have virtually no political, social   bullets attempting to scare the residents and forcibly      nor the power to fight against the fake claims.’ p
throughout 2009. Odhikar, one of the country’s            or economic rights. In June 2009, Bangladeshi
leading independent human rights organizations,           media reported that the authorities in Cox’s Bazaar
recorded 38 incidents of violence against ethnic          district tore down several makeshift huts belong-
minorities, including 4 killings, 4 cases of land         ing to Rohingyas. In the same month, Médecins            panel, removed Bangladesh from its watch-list of            during 2009, including assaults, land seizures and
seizures and 25 injuries. Most of the incidents were      sans Frontières reported that it had treated several     countries noted for violations of religious freedoms,       one killing. There were also 27 attacks on places of
perpetrated by local gangs, in some cases reportedly      injured Rohingyas, who had been violently evicted        on the grounds that there had been signs of                 worship during the year, most of them instigated
under political influence.                                from their temporary homes by Bangladeshi state          improvement for religious minorities during the             by local gangs or political leaders who acted in a cli-
   In 2009, the Bangladeshi government asserted           officials. In July 2009, groups of Rohingyas leaving     December 2008 elections. However, Bangladesh’s              mate of impunity, with police taking no action over
its commitment to implement the Chittagong Hill           Bangladesh, due to insecurity and poor economic          religious minorities, including Hindus, Christians          the incidents. According to Odhikar, in February
Tracts (CHT) peace accord, and said that it would         conditions, were arrested and detained in Thailand.      and Ahmaddiyas, faced incidents of targeted vio-            2009, 300 Hindus were injured and one woman
press ahead with vacating army camps in the area.            In 2009, the US Commission on International           lence. MRG’s partner NGO Odhikar recorded a                 raped in Maheshkhali, Chittagong, when gangs
The peace accord, signed in 1997 between the then         Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a congressional              total of 541 incidents affecting religious minorities       attacked a religious event. In March and April 2009,

114                                 Asia and Oceania                           State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                             Asia and Oceania                                   115
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
mainly Hindus were affected when gangs forced             based discrimination as a human rights violation.        leaders were quoted in the media as saying that they      the statement the government said that more
some 400 people from their homes in the Sutrapur          In March 2009, the UN Human Rights Council               were not consulted in the process.                        consultations were required before a final decision
district of Dhaka. In both places, Hindu temples          (HRC) took a significant step in deciding to publish        In the tribal areas of Manipur, continuous inci-       would be taken.
were destroyed. Supporters or members of the              all of the reports of the former UN Sub-commission       dents of violence were reported. In August and               In 2009, India suffered a major blow to its
ruling Awami League have been accused of being            on discrimination and descent. India voted against       September 2009, tensions rose in Imphal, Manipur,         reputation for fostering religious pluralism, after
involved in almost all of the attacks against Hindus.     this decision. At year’s end, Dalit human rights         over the killing of a young boy by the military, sup-     the country was put on the USCIRF watch-list of
In October 2009, Awami League members fired               organizations were lobbying for the HRC to put           posedly during a shoot-out. International and Asian       countries with violations of freedom of religion.
gunshots and evicted Hindus from their homes,             in place a UN framework to eliminate caste-based         human rights groups have, however, accused the            The large-scale violent incidents in 2008 against
again in Sutrapur. In that incident and others dur-       discrimination. According to the International Dalit     army of targeted killings, which the military then        Christians in Orissa and the climate of impunity
ing the month of October, a total of 14 temples           Solidarity Network, the EU and Nepal support the         attempts to portray as accidental. At least 17 mili-      towards violations of religious rights contributed
were reportedly attacked.                                 framework. International human rights groups say         tant groups are fighting the Indian military in this      towards this decision.
   Targeted gender violence is an integral part of the    India continues to oppose this and remains the big-      region, claiming that the government exploits indig-         In February 2009, the Indian Supreme Court
attacks against religious minorities. During 2009,        gest obstacle to effective international action on the   enous community resources while preventing the            ruled that the state authorities in Orissa should
there were two reported cases of rape of religious        issue.                                                   communities from benefiting from them. The mili-          provide security for the thousands of Christians who
minority women, according to Odhikar statistics. In          Dalits and Adivasis, indigenous or tribal com-        tary has been accused by international human rights       had fled their homes during the religious violence
January, the wife of a Christian pastor was raped in      munities, are among the poorest in India. MRG            organizations, including Amnesty International            the previous year. The court barred the government
Chaksing Baptist church in the village of Vennabari,      research during the last several years shows that they   (AI), of committing human rights violations against       from withdrawing troops from violence-prone areas.
100 km south of Dhaka. A Hindu woman was also             barely enjoy basic socio-economic rights and face        civilians, including extra-judicial killings, abduc-      The same month a Christian man was found dead
raped in the incident in Chittagong in February.          entrenched and endemic discrimination, includ-           tions, arbitrary arrests and detentions in the guise of   in the Rudangia village, Orissa, allegedly killed by
There were no reports as to whether the perpetrators      ing outlawed practices such as having to clean dry       counter-terrorism.                                        Hindu extremist groups, media reported.
of both crimes were identified or brought to justice.     latrines by hand and without protective equipment.          In June 2009, at least 12 people were killed and          Christians in India can face threats and intimida-
                                                          Tribal communities, in particular, are affected          dozens of houses set ablaze when an armed group           tion and be forcibly made to convert to Hinduism.
India                                                     by land disputes and armed conflicts. In its 2009        from the Dimasa tribe attacked people belonging to        According to national newspaper reports in
The first half of 2009 was dominated by parliamen-        report, the NGO Asian Human Rights Centre                the Naga community in Assam’s remote mountain-            February 2009, 18 Catholic families were forcibly
tary elections in India. In July, the coalition led by    warned that one of the biggest challenges facing the     ous region. The area is constantly affected by separa-    taken to a Hindu temple, where they were made to
the Congress Party was declared to have won and           Indian government was the growing security prob-         tist and tribal insurgencies, and over 50 people were     convert and perform Hindu rituals, as well as then
invited to form a government. Throughout the year,        lem arising out of the Naxalite conflict. According      killed in several separate incidents of violence in the   sign statements that they had voluntarily converted.
there were a number of cases of human rights viola-       to the report, Naxals, or Maoist rebels, are recruited   three months leading up to this incident. The con-           In May 2009, US-based NGO International
tions against ethnic and religious minorities, indig-     from among marginalized communities, including           tinuing conflict between indigenous groups, such as       Christian Concern reported that a gang set fire to
enous communities and Dalits.                             several indigenous groups, and are now active in 13      Dimasa and Naga, is just one example of the Indian        the Holy Spirit Church of God Ministry Church
   In the run-up to the polls, Dalit human rights         Indian states. Violence during the 2009 elections        state’s failure to tackle competing territorial claims    in Andhra Pradesh. This was just one of several
groups reported that Dalit communities were               was dominated by Naxalite incidents, and the Asian       made by the country’s many different communities.         incidents where churches were attacked by radical
attacked and otherwise severely affected by election-     Human Rights Centre accused Indian political elites         The year also saw mixed fortunes for two of            groups. The Evangelical Fellowship of India, which
related violence. In April 2009, MRG stated that          of not taking substantive action to resolve the con-     India’s prominent linguistic and ethnic minorities        monitors and reports on attacks against Christians,
political groups used violence and intimidation           flict, which is rooted in discrimination, marginaliza-   in the south and south-east of the country. Violence      said there was a rise in incidents in the south of the
against Dalits to forcibly take their votes. Dalit vil-   tion and exclusion. Indigenous peoples have suffered     broke out in the southern Tamil Nadu state from           country. Of the 152 incidents against Christians
lages also faced boycotts for failing to vote for par-    immensely in the Naxalite conflict, as they face         January to May 2009 over the military offensive           during 2009, 86 happened in southern states,
ticular parties or candidates.                            brutal human rights violations perpetrated by the        that was taking place in neighbouring Sri Lanka.          mainly in Karnataka (with 48) and Andhra Pradesh
   In April 2009, the UN High Commissioner                militants and are targeted by the Indian military on     Several major towns were disrupted by strike actions      (29). In February, the UN Special Rapporteur on
for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in a speech to the         the assumption that they are supporting the rebels.      that on many occasions led to incidents of violence       freedom of religion or belief came down strongly on
National Human Rights Commission in Delhi, said              In April 2009, the Indian authorities gave Sterlite   and arson, injuring scores. The response from the         India for its ‘pervasive climate of fear and intoler-
that, although India enjoys an array of laws and          Industries India Ltd, a subsidiary of the UK-based       ruling party was tardy and limited. The incidents,        ance’, and asked the government to provide greater
institutions designed to combat all forms of discrim-     Vedanta Resources plc and the state-owned Orissa         and Tamil Nadu’s concern for the plight of Tamils         protection for religious minorities, particularly
ination, religious and caste-based prejudices remain      Mining Corporation, permission to mine bauxite           in Sri Lanka, eased with the conclusion of the con-       Christians and Muslims.
entrenched. ‘Of particular concern is caste-based         in the traditional homeland of an indigenous com-        flict there.                                                 The situation for Muslims in some parts of India
discrimination, which is still deplorably widespread,     munity called the Dongria Kondh, international              In December 2009, the government responded             remains tense. Particularly since the Mumbai attacks
despite efforts by the government and the judiciary       media reported. The two companies stated that they       to months of protests and strikes by announcing           in 2008, the Indian government has used counter-
to eradicate this practice,’ Pillay said.                 have drawn up proposals to develop the indigenous        that it would create a separate state for the country’s   terrorism measures to arrest and detain large num-
   At the international level, India continued to         community’s land during the 25-year period that          Telegana people. The new state is expected to             bers of Muslims arbitrarily. In 2009, the UN High
remain a major obstacle to efforts to recognize caste-    they have permission to mine. However, indigenous        be carved out of Andhra Pradesh, but following            Commissioner for Human Rights urged India to

116                                 Asia and Oceania                           State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                  117
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
counter suspicion against Muslims in the country and
warned that anti-terrorism laws threatened human
                                                           Khanna, gave the go-ahead for the prosecution of
                                                           senior Congress Party politician Sajjan Kumar, who         Christians in                                           Hindus) and Rashtriya Svayam Sevak Sangh (RSS)
                                                                                                                                                                              are often accused of being behind attacks such as
rights. In January 2009, thousands of people took to
the streets to protest against the imprisonment and
                                                           has been accused of instigating the 1984 anti-Sikh
                                                           violence that resulted in more than 3,000 killed and       Orissa, India,                                          those in Orissa. ‘A distinction needs to be made
                                                                                                                                                                              between political power and movement power.

                                                                                                                      feel ‘helpless’
killing of two Muslims accused of being terrorists.        several thousand injured.                                                                                          Even though politicians may change, the move-
The protesters were demanding a judicial investiga-                                                                                                                           ments such as VHP and RSS remain powerful,’
tion into the killings. Many of the protesters said that   Nepal                                                                                                              Father Michael says.
several Muslim youths had been arrested on minimal         The political progress that Nepal has made since it                                                                   Across India, he says, the situation for Christians
evidence in Uttar Pradesh on suspicion of terrorist        became a democracy in 2008 suffered a setback dur-         A year after one of the worst cases of religious vio-   varies. Even though in most parts of the country
links. After the Mumbai attacks, the government            ing the course of 2009. In May 2009, Maoist leader         lence in India targeted at Christians, Father S.M.      they do not face incidents of violence, they are still
rushed through new laws, allowing police to hold sus-      and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly           Michael tells Farah Mihlar about the latest situa-      targeted by these groups in hate campaigns.
pects for up to 180 days without charge.                   known as Prachanda, resigned from his post over            tion in the affected city – Orissa – and explains the      ‘These fundamentalist groups want to, all the time,
   In April 2009, the Indian Supreme Court rejected        a dispute about how the Nepali army is run. The            general sentiment amongst the community.                create some kind of obstacle or hindrance to religious
a plea by a Muslim student who had been expelled           Maoists wanted the country’s army commander                                                                        minorities. They use the media and through other
from a Christian missionary school in Madhya               sacked, a move which President Ram Baran Yadav             ‘Christians of India are today in a state of deep       propaganda they brainwash people against Christians,
Pradesh for refusing to shave off his beard. The pre-      did not support. The Maoist withdrawal from the            shock and sorrow at the communal violence               they portray Christians as not being in the main-
siding judge ruled that it was against India’s secular-    government led to a deterioration in the security          unleashed against them,’ Father Michael says.           stream, as not loving India,’ he says. ‘This can lead to
ism and associated sporting a beard with terrorism         situation and brought Nepal’s peace-building and           In 2008, Hindu extremist groups targeted                attacks and discrimination in everyday life.’
and extremist values.                                      constitutional process to an impasse.                      Christians in Orissa, in attacks that lasted for 45        ‘Generally Christians feel helpless.’ Father
   In 2009, communal riots in India, mainly those             As 2009 drew to a close, at least four people were      days, in which a nun was raped, 81 people lost          Michael explains that a large number of Christians
conducted by Hindu extremist groups against reli-          killed during three days of protests and strikes called    their lives, 50,000 were rendered homeless, 147         come from the Adivasi and Dalit groups, which
gious minorities, claimed 23 lives, while 73 people        by the Maoists. Nepali media reports stated that           churches burnt down and more than 4,000                 results in them facing double discrimination.
were injured, according to an article written by Dr        the former rebels gave the government one month            houses destroyed.                                       Because of their social standing they are already
Asgar Ali Engineer, who heads the Centre for the           to sort out the dispute, threatening further action if        The situation in Orissa remains very tense and       among the poorest and most marginalized groups.
Study of Secular Society. The article also stated that     they did not do so. There is no immediate threat of        many Christians are afraid to return to rebuild            Politically, too, he says, Christians are sidelined.
riots took place in Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka,      Nepal returning to conflict, but there is strong likeli-   their homes. Despite a political change in the state    ‘Because we are such a small number we are not an
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar           hood that the security situation in the country could      following elections, which saw the defeat of the        influential vote bank, so none of the political parties
Pradesh. However, there were no riots in Andhra            worsen, threatening the peace process. It appears very     Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, Hindu          bother to take into consideration our needs.
Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Orissa,           unlikely that the 601-member Constituent Assembly          extremist groups remain powerful in the area.              ‘There are constitutional guarantees in India for
Tamil Nadu and West Bengal – all of which have sig-        (CA) will be able to meet its April 2010 deadline to          Hindu extremist/militant groups such as Vishwa       religious minorities and then there is the practical
nificant minority populations and have seen incidents      have a draft constitution in place.                        Hindu Parisad (VHP – World Federation of                reality. These don’t always correspond,’ he says. p
of violence and rioting in previous years.                    The CA, which has a significant representation
   The year 2009 saw a series of important court           of minorities, offers a good opportunity for minori-
rulings and legal measures, which had a significant        ties to be involved in the country’s peace-building
impact on issues facing religious minorities in            process. However, the stresses of the peace process,
India. April and May 2009 brought some posi-               combined with the volatile security situation, put         Tharu community continued to conduct protests in        to implement the eight-point agreement reached
tive developments for victims of the 2002 violence         the country’s minorities and indigenous peoples in a       May and June. International human rights groups         between it and the Joint Madhesi Democratic Front
against Muslims in Gujarat. The Supreme Court              vulnerable situation. Tensions between the Madhesi         also accused police of using excessive force against    in 2009.
ordered that cases be ‘fast-tracked’ or expedited in       and Tharu communities and Maoists continued to             the protesters.                                            Nepal’s 3.6 per cent Muslim population saw
the Gujarat high court and also directed a ‘Special        increase during 2009. In March 2009, transport                Nepal’s Terai lowlands are home to about half of     some significant positive changes during 2009,
Investigation Team’, to investigate the role of            services in the southern Terai region were disrupted       the country’s 27 million people, and the residents      mainly in terms of political guarantees. At the
the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) Chief Minister           and violence erupted, killing several people in the        of the region, known as Madhesis, have long com-        beginning of 2009, following five days of protest,
Nadendra Modhi and 61 others in the riots. Two             course of days of protests and strikes conducted by        plained of discrimination by the Himalayan nation’s     the still Maoist-led government reached an agree-
senior state politicians, the BJP’s Maya Kodnani and       Tharu groups. Tharu were protesting the govern-            mountain communities.                                   ment with the United Muslim National Struggle
Jaydeep Patel, leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad         ment’s failure to recognize their unique identity             Nepal’s foreign minister in the caretaker govern-    Committee to arrange for legal provisions to ensure
(a Hindu extremist group), were arrested for their         by categorizing them as Madhesis. After several            ment, Upendra Yadav, who is also president of the       the independent identity of all minority groups,
roles in the communal violence that saw the killing,       rounds of crisis talks between the government and          Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (the fourth largest       including Muslims. The government also promised
rape and torture of several thousands of Muslims.          Tharu representatives, an agreement was reached on         party, with 53 seats in the CA) told Nepali media       to appoint a Muslim commission to look into the
   On 31 December 2009, Indian national media              14 March to recognize the communities’ separate            that his party would only continue to support           grievances of the community. In June, Nepalese
reported that the Governor of Delhi, Tajendra              identities. Despite this agreement, groups within the      the government if it made a written commitment          Prime Minister Madhav Kumar expanded his cabi-

118                                  Asia and Oceania                            State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                         Asia and Oceania                                    119
                                                                                   and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
net to include two Muslim ministers.                        frustrations remained among Pashtun communities in          during which at least 24 people were killed.              controlled by them. The targeting of Sikhs was par-
   For the first time in the history of the former          the NWFP over lack of investment and land reform,           Mohajirs are descendants of Muslim refugees from          ticularly acute in the Orakzai FATA, MRG’s own
Hindu kingdom, in September 2009 the Muslim                 issues that the Taliban has exploited.                      India, who came to Pakistan after independence and        research found. Taliban demanded jizya from 40
holiday of Eid-ul-Fitr was declared a national holi-           In October 2009, the Pakistani government                partition in 1947. Though the attacks had an ethnic       Sikh families living there; they also seized a member
day and celebrations were conducted across Nepal.           renewed its military offensive against Taliban              dimension, they were driven by political factors          of the Sikh community and demanded a ransom.
   The situation for the country’s small Christian          strongholds, this time in South Waziristan, a               and linked to political parties. Armed paramilitary       He was released after the Sikh community paid half
population was considerably less positive. A teenage        Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) west              troops were sent out to patrol the streets and ensure     the amount, before fleeing the area. In the process,
girl and a woman were killed, and over a dozen oth-         and south-west of the NWFP provincial capital,              security, preventing further clashes.                     the Taliban destroyed 11 Sikh homes.
ers wounded, when a bomb went off during mass at            Peshawar. South Waziristan is home to ethnic                   Pakistan’s religious minorities continued to face         Pakistan’s Shia minority was also targeted during
the Church of Assumption in Dhobighat on the out-           Pashtuns divided into tribes such as Waziris, Burkis        a series of human rights violations and targeted          the course of 2009. In February, an explosion at a
skirts of Kathmandu in May 2009. There were 150             and Mahsuds. Over 300,000 people were displaced             attacks. The country’s Christian population face          procession to mark the death of Shia religious leader
people in the church at the time. A fringe Hindu            as a result of the fighting, UN agencies reported. In       increasing threats to their lives from the Pakistani      Imam Hussain in Dera Ismail Khan, NWFP, killed
extremist group called the National Defence Army            December, the government declared the campaign              Taliban, as well as other Muslim extremists, who          15 people and injured dozens. Later in the month,
claimed responsibility for the attack. The outfit also      over, saying that much of the Taliban’s military            demand that they convert to Islam. At village level,      at least 25 people were killed and over 150 injured,
said that it had bombed a mosque in the east of the         infrastructure had been destroyed. A day later,             Christians are also vulnerable to arbitrary arrest and    also in Dera Ismail Khan, at the funeral of a local
country last year, killing two people. A week after the     media reports stated that the prime minister retract-       detention, as they have limited access to justice.        Shia leader who had been killed by militants the day
incident, the same group demanded that the Nepal’s          ed his comments and said that the campaign was              In one incident, a church in Bannu, NWFP, was             before. In April, in Chakwal, 22 people were killed
1 million Christians leave the country. Christians are      ongoing and may extend into North Waziristan.               vandalized on 11 May 2009. The intruders burned           and 30 injured in another suicide bombing targeting
politically marginalized in Nepal, and not a single         At the end of 2009, the UN High Commission for              Bibles as well as the altar, and smashed windows          a Shia religious gathering.
member of the CA is from the community.                     Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 280,000 people               and fans. Christians were among those who were               Incidents of forced conversion continued to be
                                                            from South Waziristan remained displaced.                   displaced by the fighting in Swat, although they          reported in Pakistan, often linked to gender-based
Pakistan                                                       The Pakistani province of Balochistan, which is          mostly chose to go into the provincial capital            violence. In April 2009, in Sindh province, a minor-
Pakistan is facing a major political and security crisis,   home to the Baloch minority as well as to Pashtuns,         Peshawar, rather than to the camps.                       ity minister stated that 18 Hindu women had been
putting large numbers of members of minorities in           is currently one of the most explosive parts of the            The violence faced by Christians was not limited       forced to convert to Islam. A month later, a Christian
grave danger. In 2009, the country’s security situation     country. In February 2009, the head of UNHCR’s              to Pakistan’s north-west. In August 2009, eight           woman was abducted, raped and forced to convert to
deteriorated, with repeated targeted attacks by militant    office in the provincial capital Quetta, John Solecki,      Christians were burnt alive by Muslim extremist           Islam, according to the 2009 USCIRF report.
groups killing scores of people. In the early part of       was kidnapped by the Balochistan Liberation United          groups in Gojra in Punjab province, during violent           Unidentified gunmen shot and wounded
the year, Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi,            Front. Solecki’s driver Syed Hashim was killed in the       attacks over rumours that a Qur’an had been des-          Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister, Hamid Saeed
an organization affiliated with the Taliban, agreed to      incident. According to media reports, the separatist        ecrated. In a subsequent report, the independent          Kazmi, in Karachi in September. Kazmi, a cleric
a ceasefire after the government gave the go-ahead for      group made three demands to the Pakistani govern-           Human Rights Commission of Pakistan stated that           and vocal opponent of the Taliban, belongs to the
the imposition of Sharia (Islamic law) in the NWFP’s        ment, including the release of 141 women arrested           the attacks were premeditated and that local officials    Barelvi sect – moderate adherents of Sufism.
Swat Valley. The ceasefire did not last and, in May         by the Pakistani government and the investigation of        had been aware of the threat. Following the attack,
2009, the government launched a major military              more than 6,000 alleged missing persons. In April,          Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced               Sri Lanka
offensive against Taliban positions in Swat. The fight-     Solecki was released, and in a subsequent incident          plans to review ‘laws detrimental to religious har-       The year 2009 will undoubtedly go down as a
ing also spread to Buner, Shangla and Dir districts.        three Balochi elders were killed. The government            mony’. However, Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy             pivotal one in post-independent Sri Lankan his-
Over 2 million people, mostly ethnic Pashtuns, fled         claimed they were killed accidentally in a shoot-out,       law (clauses 295-B and 295-C of the Penal Code)           tory, as it saw the end of the country’s 30-year war.
the area. Religious minority Sikhs and Christians were      but the armed group insists that the government con-        remains in place and is used as a basis for arresting     Fighting between government forces and the Tamil
also displaced but tended to travel beyond the tem-         ducted the killings. People have been extra-judicially      and detaining members of religious minorities.            Tiger (LTTE) rebels reached a climax in the early
porary camps set up in the NWFP, MRG reported in            killed, arbitrarily arrested, detained, made to disap-         A church was burnt down in Punjab’s Sialkot            part of 2009, as the government took over large
its August 2009 briefing paper, Pakistan: Minorities        pear and tortured by security forces in Balochistan,        district in September 2009, again following               areas of land that had been under rebel control. By
at Risk in the North-West. There were reports that          according to Asian and international human rights           rumours that a Qur’an had been desecrated. Also           February, the LTTE was cornered in a tiny area of
Pashtun displaced in other provinces were being             groups. The area has long been marginalized and,            in September, a Christian man was found dead in           land in north-eastern Sri Lanka, where they were
discriminated against, through excessive demands for        due to increasing poverty, Balochis are becoming dis-       a jail cell. The Pakistan Christian Congress called       essentially holding over 200,000 ethnic Tamil civil-
security documents based on a presumption that they         satisfied and feel disenfranchised by the government.       on judicial authorities to conduct a full and impar-      ians hostage. Despite the concentration of such a
were Taliban supporters. This was despite the fact that     Moreover, given that Balochistan, and Quetta in par-        tial investigation into the killing. Police said it was   large number of civilians in the conflict zone, the
many local Pashtun communities had put up fierce            ticular, is an important base for the Taliban, there is a   suicide, but local Christian clergy said they found       Sri Lankan military continued to press on. Between
resistance to the insurgents. By July 2009, the fighting    clear risk that civilians will be drawn into the conflict   torture marks on his body.                                February and May 2009, daily reports emerged in
had ceased and people were allowed to return home,          between it and the government.                                 Sections of the Sikh community in Pakistan were        international media of dozens of civilian killings. In
but MRG warned that security guarantees were lim-              Inter-ethnic violence broke out in Karachi in            harassed and faced economic difficulty over ‘jizya’,      March, the UN High Commissioner for Human
ited, particularly for minorities. Moreover, underlying     February 2009 between Mohajirs and Pashtuns,                a religious tax imposed by the Taliban in areas           Rights accused both sides of committing war crimes.

120                                   Asia and Oceania                             State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                  121
                                                                                     and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
   The Sri Lankan government clamped down on             the camps, granting freedom of movement to the           without charges. Shantha Fernando, a Sinhalese            to protect ethnic and religious minorities. A group
media coverage, and media and local and interna-         remaining displaced persons. The entire issue of         Christian, was arrested by Sri Lankan police in           of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group facing severe
tional NGOs were restricted from entering the war-       displacement had been dealt with haphazardly by          March 2009 and handed over to the Terrorist               repression in Burma, found no respite after fleeing
torn areas, making it difficult to verify information.   the government. By year’s end, there remained close      Investigation Department, as he was on his way to         by sea to Thailand. Evidence came to light that
The government maintained that only some 75,000          to 300,000 internally displaced, including about         India for a World Council of Churches meeting.            Thai soldiers allegedly bound the refugees’ hands
people were caught up in the fighting and vigor-         100,000 members of the Muslim minority.                  Fernando, who is Executive Secretary of the Justice       behind their backs and set them adrift once again in
ously denied reports that civilians were being killed.      Despite the end of the conflict, the situation for    and Peace Commission of the National Christian            motorless boats. Thailand’s government promised
According to MRG’s December 2009 briefing, Six           minorities remained uncertain. During the second         Council of Sri Lanka, was held without charge under       an investigation. At the end of 2009, we were still
Months On: No Respite and Little Hope for Minorities     half of 2009, the government did not offer, nor hint     emergency regulations. He was released later on bail,     waiting for the results of that probe, which may or
in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan military unilaterally       at, any minority rights guarantees. More specifi-        but a case against him is pending in the local courts.    may not have taken place. As Rohingya continued
declared a no-fire zone, and asked civilians to leave    cally, there was very little discussion of a political      In the past few years, there has been a rise in        to risk their lives to escape Burma, the military
LTTE-controlled areas and come to the zone, assur-       autonomy package for minorities. Accountability,         Sinhala Buddhist nationalism that is affecting minori-    government scaled up attacks against other minori-
ing them of their safety. However, beginning on          both generally concerning human rights violations        ties. Christians and Muslims have borne the brunt         ties, causing wave after wave of refugees to flee into
7 April 2009, the military shelled the zone, killing     in Sri Lanka and more specifically relating to the       of it. In 2009, there were sporadic incidents where       Thailand and China.
hundreds of civilians, including children.               last few months of fighting, remained a considerable     Christian churches or religious leaders were attacked        A harsh reception was also given to asylum-seek-
   The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakshe           problem. There was a pervasive climate of impunity       by such extremist groups, local minority groups have      ers and refugees from other countries. Despite pro-
declared that the conflict had ended on 19 May           in the country, where human rights violations went       told MRG. Muslims have also been targeted by such         tests from the international community, Thailand
2009, following the killing of the LTTE’s sen-           ignored and unpunished.                                  groups. Muslim religious practices that have been         forcibly deported more than 4,000 Hmong to
ior leadership, including its leader Vellupillai            The general human rights situation in Sri Lanka       part of Sri Lankan culture for centuries are now          Laos, which has a history of repression against the
Prabhakaran. In most parts of the country, people        remained poor during 2009, and those most                increasingly criticized. Objections are often aired in    indigenous people that, according to human rights
thronged the streets, jubilant and celebrating the       affected were generally from minority communities.       Sri Lankan media by Buddhist groups over the ‘azan’       groups, continues to this day. The deportation
end to a conflict that had claimed more than 70,000      Media freedom hit a new low, and there were sever-       or the muezzin’s call to prayer and other religious       was a violation of international law. Some of the
lives. In the north of the country, however, the situ-   al attacks on journalists through the course of 2009,    practices, such as the slaughtering of animals for Eidh   deportees had been given refugee status because of
ation for ethnic Tamils was alarming. International      including the killing of high-profile editor Lasantha    al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice.                their legitimate fears of persecution in Laos, while
media reported that over 280,000 people, who had         Wickrematunga and the imprisonment during most              The year also saw an increase in intra-religious       the Thai government prevented UN officials from
been trapped by the fighting for months without          of the year of Tamil journalist J.S. Tissanayagam.       conflicts among both Christians and Muslims.              determining the status of most of the rest. In neigh-
food and who were traumatized by the violence, had       There was also a clamp-down on work by NGOs,             For Muslims, the conflict is mainly between radi-         bouring Cambodia, officials also chose to ignore
begun pouring into displaced camps. The displaced        particularly human rights and aid agencies, as well      cal groups inspired by the Saudi Arabian Wahhabi          their obligations under international law by deport-
were held in makeshift closed camps that were            as threats and intimidation directed at those work-      movement and the more traditional Sufi groups.            ing to China 20 Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic minority
severely overcrowded and lacking facilities. Food,       ing in these organizations.                              In July 2009, a police curfew had to be imposed           from Xinjiang province, who sought asylum after
water, shelter and sanitation were huge problems.           Muslims make up 8 per cent of the Sri Lankan          as one person was shot dead and several injured in        witnessing the rioting that broke out in their home
Families were separated. Local and international         population. The government did not make clear its        rioting between the two sides in the southern town        province on 5 July 2009 and lasted several days.
NGOs and the media were given very limited               plans to resettle Muslim displaced who have been         of Beruwala. There have also been some violent            China asked for them back and Cambodia acqui-
access. The UN and the International Committee of        living in camps for nearly 20 years. Some Muslims        incidents between Catholics and evangelicals in the       esced, despite the international outcry over the fact
the Red Cross (ICRC) also faced severe restrictions.     began to return to their homes during 2009, but          Christian community.                                      that China has been known to detain, torture and
There were reports of abductions, kidnappings,           they received no assistance from the government,                                                                   execute Uighurs accused of anti-state activities. It

arbitrary arrests and torture from within the camps.     Muslim NGOs reported. The community also                                                                           was not lost on observers that Cambodia flouted
Some 10,000 people were detained as suspected            feared that they would be neglected in plans to rede-                                                              its international obligations by deporting them two
LTTE cadres, local NGOs reported.                        velop areas affected by the conflict.                                                                              days before signing 14 economic agreements total-

                                                                                                                  East Asia
   Six months after the end of the conflict, the gov-       During the last stages of fighting, both Hindu                                                                  ling $1.2 billion with China on 21 December 2009.
ernment had begun a hasty return and resettlement        and Christian places of religious worship were                                                                        Tensions between and within religious communi-
process. Nearly half of those housed in Menik farm       destroyed in shelling and artillery attacks by both                                                                ties also flared up in South East Asia in 2009, with
camp were allowed to return to their areas of origin.    sides, according to local human rights activists who                                                               governments failing to protect religious minorities
MRG and other international human rights groups          cannot be named for security reasons. In January         Jared Ferrie                                              and in some cases attacking them outright. In the
argued that the process did not meet international       2009, some 17 civilians were killed and 39 injured                                                                 Philippines, armed Islamist groups and security forces

standards. The government had not guaranteed             in the bombing and shelling by the Sri Lankan                       he beginning of 2009 saw the plight of         battled, displacing civilians, while Christian and other
adequate security for the returnees, nor had they        army of the American Ceylon Mission church in                       Rohingya people gain media attention           vigilante groups proliferated, some backed by the
ensured that facilities such as schools, hospitals and   Suthanthirapuram. Six Christian priests, who chose                  throughout the world, setting the tone for     government. Hard-line Islamist groups in Indonesia
transport would be in place. In November 2009,           to remain with the trapped civilians till the very       a year during which South East Asian nations would        attacked minority Muslims whom they accused of
the government announced that it was opening up          end, were arbitrarily held in detention for months       repeatedly fail to honour international obligations       heresy, while the federal government allowed the rul-

122                                 Asia and Oceania                          State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                   123
                                                                                and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
ing party in Aceh to organize a morality police force,
                                                             Special report
which began harassing those who did not conform
to its strict interpretation of Islamic dress code and

                                                             As China flexes
behaviour. In Malaysia, the government continued to                                                                to those it suspects of anti-state activities – such as      while Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen praised
allow Islamic courts to restrict religious freedom by                                                              providing photos of police brutality to international        cooperation between the two countries on ‘trans-
erecting legal barriers against those wanting to con-                                                              media – and its courts have proven to be quite free          border crime’, including human trafficking and ter-
vert to other religions. Freedom of speech advocates
scored a victory on 31 December when the Federal
                                                             economic                                              with handing down death sentences to dissidents.
                                                                                                                   So it was a great disappointment to see Cambodia
                                                                                                                                                                                rorism. It was clear that Cambodia had scuttled its
                                                                                                                                                                                scruples in the face of China’s economic might – a
Court ruled, against the government’s wishes, that
Christian publications could use the word ‘Allah’. But
                                                             muscle in South                                       deport the Uighurs in a blatant violation of its obli-
                                                                                                                   gations under international law, which prohibits
                                                                                                                                                                                scenario likely to be playing out in developing coun-
                                                                                                                                                                                tries throughout the world where China has offered
opponents reacted to the ruling by burning churches,
setting fire to seven between 8 and 10 January 2010.         East Asia,                                            sending refugees back to a country where they may
                                                                                                                   face persecution. Christophe Peschouxe, representa-
                                                                                                                                                                                investment with no strings attached on human rights.
                                                                                                                                                                                In this case, the rights of minority Uighurs were
One church was extensively damaged, but no injuries
were reported. In Vietnam, the ruling Communist              minorities get                                        tive of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for
                                                                                                                   Human Rights in Cambodia, stated that:
                                                                                                                                                                                crushed under the political and economic weight of
                                                                                                                                                                                an emerging superpower.

Party began cracking down on non-state-sanctioned                                                                                                                                  Before the deportation, Amy Reger, of the Uighur-
religious groups in 2009, after allowing more reli-                                                                ‘This deportation is all the more disturbing in a country    American Association, a US-based NGO, said:
gious freedom during preceding years. In one of the                                                                that has known massive persecution during the wars
more severe incidents, police and thugs attacked a                                                                 and during the Khmer Rouge regime, and which knows           ‘The Uighurs who have sought refuge in Cambodia
Buddhist centre headed by Thich Nhat Hanh, one of            Until the close of 2009, Cambodia was building        all too well the price and value of refugee protection.      have effectively been labelled as criminals by the
the world’s best-known monks and peace activists.            up a reputation as a nation that had committed        Thousands of Cambodians have had their lives saved           Chinese government without having been tried in a
                                                             to developing a system of protecting the rights of    thanks to the international refugee protection system,       court of law. The Uighur-American Association is
Burma                                                        refugees. Having emerged from one of the worst        including many leaders of this country, past and present.’   therefore extremely concerned that if they are repatri-
As the ruling military government prepared the               mass murders of the twentieth century, many                                                                        ated to China by Cambodian authorities, Cambodia
ground for elections in 2010, it retained its grip on        Cambodians became direct beneficiaries of inter-      One problem for the Cambodian government, how-               will be sending these Uighurs to a terrible fate – pos-
its citizens. Critics such as Mark Farmaner of the           national refugee protection when they fled the        ever, was that a request from the country’s largest          sibly execution, and likely torture.’
Burma Campaign UK, a pro-democracy NGO, pre-                 bloody Khmer Rouge regime. It is one of only          investor is hard to ignore. China has poured more
dicted that the elections would be strictly controlled       two South East Asian countries to have signed         than US $1 billion in foreign direct investment into         She added that, over the past few years, Uighur
and/or fraudulent, as the military regime is unlikely        the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status         Cambodia, according to Reuters news agency. The              asylum-seekers have been sent back to China from
to concede power. Indeed, while three state-run              of Refugees (the Philippines is the other), and the   group deportation took place on 19 December 2009,            various countries and subjected to ill-treatment
newspapers ran a commentary urging ethnic minori-            UNHCR had recently cut staff in Cambodia as           one day before Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping was         or worse. In 2003, for example, Shaheer Ali was
ties to take part in elections, Burma’s leader, Senior       the government created its own office responsible     due to arrive to oversee the signing on 21 December          executed in China after being deported from Nepal,
General Than Shwe, warned soon afterwards that               for determining the status of asylum-seekers.         of 14 economic agreements with China, financing              where UNHCR had granted him refugee status.
voters should be sure to ‘make correct choices’,                But the UN moved too soon. In December             projects ranging from infrastructure construction to
according to United Press International, the BBC             2009, the Chinese government stepped into the         temple restoration and buying office furniture for           There were indications that Cambodia initially
and other news agencies. The last election took              picture, requesting the return of 22 Uighurs who      ministries. Although Cambodian officials denied              supported the asylum bid by the Uighurs, some
place in 1990, when the electorate overwhelmingly            had requested asylum after leaving China. Beijing     any link between the deportation and the economic            of whom had arrived soon after the July riots.
voted for the National League for Democracy,                 was seeking people whom it claimed had been           agreements, most observers thought this disingenu-           Speaking on condition of anonymity, multiple
the opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi.                involved in the deadly rioting in the provincial      ous. At a press conference after the signing ceremony,       sources said that UNHCR officials had been asked
The regime put her under house-arrest where she              capital, Urumqi, in July 2009. China is known         Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan                   by the Cambodian government to assist with the
remains, one of more than 2,000 political prisoners.         to have a broad definition of guilt when it comes     said Xi thanked Cambodia for returning the Uighurs,          review process. But the asylum-seekers themselves
The US-based NGO Freedom House, in its May
2009 report on the world’s most repressive societies,
which measures political rights and civil liberties,     February 2009, during her first trip to the region        began to engage Burma’s government in 2009. In               government to bring into the political process ethnic
judged Burma to be one of eight countries with the       as US Secretary of State, ‘Clearly, the path we have      November, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt               minorities, who make up more than 40 per cent of
worst human rights records in the world.                 taken in imposing sanctions hasn’t influenced the         Campbell travelled to Burma with his deputy Scot             the population and have been subjected to violence
   Some interpreted the regime’s decision to             Burmese junta,’ adding that Burma’s neighbours’           Marcel, the first diplomatic trip by US officials to         and discrimination. On 10 December 2009, more
hold elections as a sign that it is willing to take      strategy of ‘reaching out and trying to engage them       the country in 14 years. The diplomats met with              than 400 lawmakers from 29 countries signed a
incremental steps toward allowing more political         has not influenced them either’. The administra-          government officials as well as representatives from         letter sent to the UN Security Council, asking it to
freedom, although such reasoning may have been           tion of US President Barack Obama, perhaps                minority groups, including Arakan, Chin, Kachin,             investigate the Burmese government for perpetrating
rooted in exasperation. Hillary Clinton said on 18       in the absence of any viable options, tentatively         Mon and Shan. The United States urged Burma’s                crimes against humanity. Some scholars have sug-

124                                 Asia and Oceania                           State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                              Asia and Oceania                                     125
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                        negotiated ceasefire agreements with 17 armed            Burma’s poorest state, with 70 per cent of its popula-   Cambodia
                                                        groups, including the Kachin Independence Army,          tion living below the poverty line, compared with        The ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) contin-
                                                        the United Wa State Army and the Shan State Army,        the national average of about 33 per cent, according     ued to consolidate its power in 2009, filing a spate
were worried. Several complained that they              according to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth             to IRIN. Chin people, who belong to a number of          of lawsuits against opposition politicians, civil soci-
were being watched by Chinese agents, and the           Office. In 2009, some of those agreements began to       distinct tribes, have been recruited as forced labour,   ety activists and journalists. Human rights groups,
Uighurs were shifted between safe houses in             break down, possibly as a result of an attempt by the    arrested arbitrarily and tortured, according to HRW.     and even the United States embassy, pointed to
Phnom Penh. During one of these shifts, two             military leadership to consolidate power before the      The forced labour is particularly problematic as it      corruption and political interference in the courts,
of them went missing, perhaps anticipating the          elections. During the autumn, the Burmese military       takes farmers away from their fields. A May 2009         and accused the CPP of attempting to create a one-
fate that would befall the remaining 20.                clashed with the Kokang militia, forcing more than       survey by the World Food Programme (WFP) found           party state by muzzling opposition voices, according
   The controversy heated up as the date grew           30,000 refugees to flee into China, according to         that most residents were unable to afford food, health   to media reports, including a 23 July article in The
closer for the visit of the Chinese delegation.         UNHCR. Militia members who crossed the border            care or education and had to take out loans, incurring   National newspaper. Mu Sochua, an opposition
The Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry                  reported that government soldiers attacked militias      personal debt to pay for basic services.                 parliamentarian who lost a defamation lawsuit filed
spokesperson had been the contact for report-           in an attempt to dislodge local leaders, according          Christians, who comprise 4 per cent of Burma’s        against her by Prime Minister Hun Sen, said in an
ers, but that changed less than a week before           to a report by Radio Free Asia. Chatham House,           population, were targeted in other areas of the coun-    interview that such tactics had a dual purpose: the
Xi’s visit when reporters’ questions began to           a UK-based research organization, said that the          try as well. In January 2009, officials closed down at   lawsuits intimidated and silenced opposition voices
be referred to the Ministry of Interior. That           Burmese military also tried to force ethnic militia      least eight house churches in Rangoon, while other       while distracting public attention from issues such
shift coincided with the Uighurs being taken            groups, including Kachin and Wa, into becoming a         churches reported having to request permission           as a declining economy – particularly massive layoffs
by armed Cambodian officers from the safe               border guard force, but they resisted such attempts.     to hold religious ceremonies at least two months         in the garment manufacturing sector that mainly
houses to one location where some of them               Across the border in Thailand, UNHCR reported            in advance, according to the 2009 International          affected women – and land seizures that continued
were reportedly shackled. The official rhetoric         2,000 Karen arriving at refugee camps after fleeing      Religious Freedom Report (IRFR 2009) issued by the       to take place throughout the country.
changed as well, beginning to mirror statements         a military build-up as government troops and their       US State Department.                                        Forced evictions affected Cambodia’s population
coming out of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in           allies in the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army closed         About 4 per cent of Burma’s citizens are Muslim       as a whole (the vast majority are ethnic Khmer and
Beijing, which was claiming that the Uighurs            in on Karen National Union bases. In addition to the     and they continued to suffer repression at the hands     Buddhist), but indigenous peoples, who are mainly
were criminals without providing any evidence.          fighting, refugees told IRIN, the UN-funded news         of the state in 2009. For example, the Burmese gov-      animist, were targeted in areas where their tradi-
In an interview, Minister of Interior spokesman         service, that they were afraid of being forced to work   ernment refuses to grant citizenship to Rohingya,        tional lands were slated for development by resource
Khieu Sopheak claimed the Uighurs were ‘ter-            as labourers and porters for the army. The summer        rendering them a stateless Muslim ethnic minor-          companies (see case study: ‘If we lose the land we
rorists’ and ‘criminals’. The group included a          of 2009 also saw Burmese troops displace more than       ity who have also been subjected to forced labour        lose everything’). The government continued to
woman with two small children. Khieu said the           10,000 Shan civilians, according to a 14 August          and land confiscation, among other abuses. The           ignore a 2001 law that grants ownership to people
group had been put aboard a 9.30 p.m. flight            report by Human Rights Watch (HRW). Quoting              Rohingya have long been fleeing Burma, but their         living on public land for five years or more, and
on a Chinese plane that took off from the mili-         ‘credible reports by Shan human rights groups’,          plight burst into the headlines in early 2009 when       makes special provisions for collective land rights
tary airport.                                           HRW said that seven army battalions were deployed        photos (some taken by tourists) showed refugees          for indigenous peoples. On 4 September 2009, the
   The day after the Uighurs were deported, a           to central Shan state and troops attacked 39 villages,   being detained by Thai authorities on beaches            government pulled out of a World Bank-funded
Chinese court sentenced five people to death            burning down more than 500 houses between 27             after they were captured at sea, as documented in a      programme aimed at sorting out land titles. In a
for what it said was their role in the July riots,      July and 1 August. The HRW report accused the            May report by HRW. Given the harsh conditions            7 September speech, widely quoted in the media,
bringing the number of executions related to            government of forcibly relocating civilians as part of   they live under, it is not surprising that so many       Prime Minister Hun Sen said that cooperating
the riots to at least 22. It is not known whether       an intensified counter-insurgency campaign against       Rohingya attempt to escape Burma. The regime’s           with the World Bank on the programme, ‘was dif-
those five included members of the group who            the Shan State Army-South, which was ambushing           attitude was summed up in a February 2009 letter,        ficult because it was complicated and had too many
failed to obtain asylum in Cambodia. UNHCR              government troops regularly, including a 15 July         quoted by AFP on 11 February, from the Burmese           conditions’. Although the programme had issued
requests for access to them in China were               attack that killed 11 soldiers. The UN Office on         Consul-General in Hong Kong to his fellow                more than 1.1 million land titles in rural areas since
denied, and no statements have been issued              Drugs and Crime noted a 10 per cent increase in          heads of mission, ‘In reality, Rohingya are neither      2002, David Pred, founder of NGO Bridges Across
about their fate. p                                     opium production in 2009 as ethnic militias, such as     “Myanmar People” nor Myanmar’s ethnic group.             Borders, said in an interview that many titles exist
                                                        those connected to Wa and Kachin, reportedly used        You will see in the photos that their complexion is      only on paper and the process had failed to halt
                                                        drug money to buy arms to resist the government.         “dark brown”. The complexion of Myanmar people           illegal evictions. He accused donors of refusing to
gested that charges of genocide could be laid against      In a country where 90 per cent of citizens are        is fair and soft, good-looking as well. … They are       use their leverage to stand up to corrupt Cambodian
Burma’s military rulers, who have carried out cam-      Buddhist, religious minorities also faced persecu-       ugly as ogres.’ In 2009, Burma began constructing        officials. In a 13 July 2009 report, the World Bank
paigns of ethnic cleansing, religious persecution and   tion during 2009. For example, Christians make up        a concrete and barbed-wire fence along its border        itself noted ‘a particular disconnect between institu-
crimes against humanity against minority groups.        more than 80 per cent of those living in Chin state,     with Bangladesh. It said the fence was to prevent        tional, legal and policy achievements and insecurity
   Many ethnic minorities have their own armed          where they have been subjected to discrimination that    smuggling, but human rights groups argued that           of land tenure for the poor, especially in urban
resistance movements, and there are about 40 armed      has forced thousands to flee to Malaysia and India,      its true purpose was to prevent more than 200,000        areas, and indigenous peoples’.
groups in Burma. The government claims to have          according to a 7 December report by IRIN. Chin is        Rohingya refugees from returning.                           On 29 December 2009, the CPP-controlled

126                                  Asia and Oceania                        State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                          Asia and Oceania                                   127
                                                                               and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
National Assembly passed a controversial law
allowing the government to expropriate land for
                                                        forum for ‘civil parties’ (victims given a voice in the
                                                        trials by lawyers representing them as groups) said in     ‘If we lose the                                         partner KCD, could be illegal. They question
                                                                                                                                                                           whether the companies carried out the required
development, despite complaints by human rights
groups and opposition members that the vague
                                                        interviews that they supported the court’s decision.
                                                        Mok Sitha, 69, who said she lost 10 family members         land, we lose                                           Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
                                                                                                                                                                           before starting operations. They also point to

language of the law would allow it to be used by        under the Khmer Rouge, said, ‘I agree with the court.                                                              a 2001 Cambodian land law that includes
government officials to force people from their land    They should charge them more.’ Tolosh Kor Seum,                                                                    special provisions for collective land rights
illegally. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that        41, also said he agreed that the Khmer Rouge leaders                                                               for indigenous peoples that appears to have
Cambodia granted a licence on 23 December to a          should be charged with genocide. He added that he                                                                  been ignored.
Vietnamese company to search for bauxite deposits       was taking part in the trial as a civil party because he
in Mondulkiri province. No information has been         wanted to contribute to the historical record to pass      Neth Prak, 28, is a student of sociology and            Prak describes the impact of the activities
released about specific sites for exploration, but      along the next generation. Tolosh said, ‘I want to         anthropology at the Royal University of Phnom           of the rubber company on Bunong people,
Mondulkiri is home to several indigenous commu-         let them know how many Muslim people have been             Penh. He is from the Bunong indigenous group            saying:
nities who could be threatened if bauxite deposits      killed and how they have been treated during the           in Cambodia. He speaks to Jared Ferrie about
are found on their traditional lands.                   Khmer Rouge.’                                              the terrible impact that industrial development         ‘… it is a very complicated, hard problem for
   While Buddhism is the state religion, Cambodia’s        The year ended with the widely condemned                is having on his people and their spiritual             Bunong people. They are afraid to lose their
Constitution provides for freedom of religion.          deportation to China of 20 Uighurs who had                 traditions.                                             land, but land has been lost, and this has put
Laws and policies ‘contributed to the generally free    applied for asylum in Cambodia after fleeing China                                                                 people in a very bad situation. It’s not only
practice of religion’, according to the IRFR 2009.      following the riots in Xinjiang province in July                                                                   [agricultural] land, it’s been cemeteries and the
Freedom House, however, pointed to discrimina-          2009. The UN, the US embassy, and organizations            Bunong number about 20,000 and live in the              places they go for hunting, and the places they
tion against ethnic Cham Muslims in its 2009            including Amnesty International (AI) and HRW               eastern Cambodian province of Mondulkiri.               go to worship, the sacred forests. The company,
Freedom in the World report. ‘The Chams have            issued statements urging Cambodia not to deport            While Cambodia’s population is overwhelmingly           they don’t care because they have a license from
come under new suspicion from the ethnic Khmer          the asylum-seekers and condemning the move                 Khmer and Buddhist, Bunong people practise              the government.’
majority in the wake of Islamic terrorist attacks       when it did. Human rights groups accused the               their own form of spirituality that is intrinsically
in Southeast Asia and elsewhere’, according to the      government of violating international law, point-          connected to their environment.                         If the company continues to clear land for
report, which also refers to discrimination against     ing out that Cambodia had ratified the 1951 UN                                                                     rubber plantations, Prak adds that,
Cambodia’s ethnic Vietnamese minority. Followers        Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and          ‘We can say they are animists, because we believe
of the nineteenth-century Muslim leader Imam San,       its 1967 Protocol. Cambodia has thus committed             in spirits in nature: the mountain, tree, the waters,   ‘…it will have a big impact, because if all the
a small sect within the Cham minority, said they        itself to the principle of non-refoulement, whereby        the sky, the rice spirits. Elephants, buffalo – all     land is taken up by rubber [trees], there will not
experienced discrimination from fellow Chams,           states are barred from returning a refugee or an           these animals have spirits and almost a similar life    be any space to grow rice. For Bunong, rice is very
who claim they are not true Muslims, according to       asylum-seeker to a country where that person faces a       to the humans.                                          important to the culture. Most of the ceremonies are
an article in the Asia Times, an online news source.    serious risk of persecution. China has been accused                                                                related to the rice. If they don’t have any land to
The sect’s 37,000 members blend Islamic practices       of detaining, torturing and executing Uighur               ‘We practise agriculture, but when we finish, for       grow their rice, they will not have any ceremonies.
with animist ceremonies, and they pray once a week      asylum-seekers upon return, even in cases where the        example in June or at the beginning of July, we         It will be a big loss for the culture. If we lose the
rather than five times a day.                           individual had gained refugee status.                      go for hunting for half a month and then we start       land we lose everything.
   In December 2009, the UN-backed tribunal that                                                                   work (farming) again. We harvest rice and prepare
is trying former leaders of the Khmer Rouge offi-       Indonesia                                                  for the next crop. Then in May we do honey              ‘Maybe we will get jobs and become rich, but I
cially acknowledged atrocities committed against the    Persecution of religious minorities continued              hunting, collecting honey in the forest. At this time   don’t think so. I think Bunong will be the losers.
Cham and Vietnamese minorities as genocide. The         throughout 2009. Followers of the Ahmaddiya reli-          we are free from agriculture and we go in               And for the old [ways of] living, the culture, it will
Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia,       gious group faced attacks from Islamist groups that        the forest, just go for a walk, hunting and fishing     be lost. Myself, as a Bunong, I’m really concerned
which is a hybrid court combining Cambodian and         consider them heretics. On 11 December 2009, for           and collecting honey. Some people they go for a         about that. That’s why I came to study sociology
international law, handed down genocide charges         example, a group of people claiming to be members          week or two weeks in the forest, just walking with      and anthropology. I hope that I can document that,
against four former leaders of the Khmer Rouge          of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) raided a house        the family.’                                            and I hope to collect the knowledge to keep for the
regime who were awaiting trial. In an interview, Youk   in Jakarta where Ahmadis had held Friday prayers,                                                                  next generation.’ p
Chhang, who heads the Documentation Centre of           according to news reports compiled by the Wahid            But their way of life is under threat from a new
Cambodia, an NGO, welcomed the charges and              Institute, a Jakarta-based non-profit organization.        rubber operation that has already displaced
pointed to massacres of both minority groups, includ-   Police took six Ahmadis to the police station in order     some Bunong and destroyed sacred forests and            Edited by Rahnuma Hassan
ing one incident where the Khmer Rouge wiped            to prevent them from being physically harmed, a            cemeteries. Critics say the joint venture by
out an entire community of Cham who lived on an         police chief said. The deputy head of the FPI Jakarta      Socfin, a French company, and its Cambodian
island. For their part, two members of a Cham del-      chapter later said that his group had initiated the
egation who travelled to the court to take part in a    raid and demanded that police detain the Ahmadis

128                                Asia and Oceania                           State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                         Asia and Oceania                                    129
                                                                                and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
for violating a government decree. A decree handed       ing the province’s natural resources, which include     oil plantations, are responsible for most of the mas-   on telephone conversations between Hmong being
down in June 2008 does not ban Ahmaddiya out-            mineral deposits and forests, without compensating      sive deforestation, which threatens not only the        held in camps in Laos after being deported from
right, but it prevents Ahmadis, who number about         them. They have also raised concerns about non-         environment, but also indigenous communities.           Thailand and their relatives living in the US. Lao
200,000 in Indonesia, from spreading their beliefs       Papuan migration into the province. On 29 January       The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and           authorities told Radio Free Asia that concerns about
and orders them to embrace ‘mainstream Islam’,           2009, police in Nabire fired rubber bullets and         Forest Degradation (REDD) programme would               the welfare of the Hmong were groundless and
according to the Wahid Institute. Local governments      injured at least five people who were demonstrat-       see big polluters buying carbon credits, generat-       that they would be resettled in villages constructed
issued bans against Ahmaddiya and other religious        ing for local elections to be held, according to AI,    ing financial resources that would be used to pay       near the capital, Vientiane. The government did
groups, including al-Qiyadah al-Islamiya, according      which reported that police also beat demonstrators      for reforestation or forest preservation. Under the     allow three members of the US Congress to visit
to IRFR 2009. Twelve Ahmaddiya mosques were              with rattan sticks and rifle butts. In January 2009,    REDD programme, the Indonesian government               one of the resettlement villages, 70 km outside
destroyed in 2009, including one in South Jakarta        Papua’s High Court extended the sentences of 11         plans to plant millions of hectares of new forest       of Vientiane. In a press conference afterwards,
that was set on fire on 2 June.                          protesters who were jailed after raising the banned     annually with financing from international donors       Congressman Eni Faleomavaega said, ‘There is no
   In the province of Aceh, the Aceh Party gained        Morning Star flag, a symbol of independence, in         and the private sector. Some indigenous communi-        indication of discrimination or harassment or mis-
a majority in the 9 April 2009 parliamentary             March 2008. The protesters were initially sen-          ties, including Oma’lung, a subgroup of Dayaks liv-     treatment of the people in Phalak village.’ However,
elections. It then proceeded to implement elements       tenced to eight months’ imprisonment, but upon          ing in Borneo, have reportedly embraced the REDD        it should be noted that the Lao government strictly
of Sharia law that violate the human rights of           appeal the sentences were extended to three and a       programme as a path to preserving their homeland        controls information. As a result, it is difficult to
women and members of non-Muslim minorities,              half years for one protester and three years for the    and culture, according to Our World 2.0, a publica-     obtain independent verification of apparent abuses.
according to local human rights groups. The party        others. On 6 April, police opened fire on students      tion by the United Nations University, which is a           The Laos Constitution officially allows for
is the political wing of the Free Aceh Movement,         peacefully protesting the elections and calling on      think-tank for the UN. Nevertheless, the Indonesian     freedom of religion, but human rights groups say
which fought for independence before signing a           the UN to organize a referendum to determine the        government must ensure proper and meaningful            authorities, particularly at a local level, harass or
peace agreement. During the run-up to elections, at      future of Papua. Four demonstrators were seriously      consultation with affected indigenous communities       ill-treat dissident Buddhists as well as Christian
least five Aceh Party leaders were killed, its offices   injured, including a 10-year-old boy. Three days        and ensure that no forced displacement occurs in        and animist groups. On 30 November 2009, UN
were bombed, and Indonesian soldiers removed             earlier, police arrested 20 student demonstrators and   conjunction with any REDD programme.                    Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
some of the party’s flags, according to HRW. After       charged three with treason and incitement, charges                                                              Asma Jahangir released a statement after a visit to
winning the election, the Aceh Party formed a            that carry a maximum penalty of life imprison-          Laos                                                    Laos, urging authorities to respect religious diver-
‘Sharia patrol unit’ of 800 officers, which is tasked    ment. These incidents were documented by HRW.           A long-simmering debate about the fate of minority      sity. She noted that religious minorities have been
with forcing residents to adhere to the party’s strict   In June 2009, HRW released a report document-           Hmong who fled Laos to seek asylum ended abrupt-        economically and politically marginalized, as well
version of Islam.                                        ing abuses by the Indonesian Special Forces,            ly at the end of 2009. More than 4,000 Hmong            as targeted specifically for their religious beliefs. In
   Indonesia’s Christian minority also continued to      Kopassus, in West Papua. Drawing on interviews          were deported from camps in Thailand on 28              response, Lao authorities acknowledged such repres-
face attacks and discrimination. In January 2009,        collected from victims in 2008 and 2009, HRW            December, despite protests by human rights groups,      sion, but said instructions had been passed to lower-
10 members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant Islamic       said Kopassus members ‘arrest Papuans without           the UN, and governments including the United            level officials that such incidents would no longer be
group, were tried for killing a Christian school-        legal authority, and beat and mistreat those they       States. Many worried that the deportees would face      tolerated.
teacher, according to IRFR 2009. In late October,        take back to their barracks’. The report noted that     persecution in Laos, which has attacked members of          Incidents of harassment or ill-treatment of minor-
at least 17 students from the Setia Christian College    Australia has resumed regular training of Kopassus      the ethnic minority because many Hmong fought           ity Christians blighted Laos’ human rights record in
in Jakarta went on a hunger strike to protest the        soldiers and pointed to statements by US Secretary      with the United States in the 1960s and 1970s           2009. The US State Department Country Report
forced eviction of 900 students from their campus        of State Hillary Clinton that suggest that the US       against the communist Pathet Lao, who took over         2009 noted that the situation for Christians varied
accommodation, an incident documented by AI.             may also decide to train Indonesian Special Forces.     the country. The deportees included 158 Hmong           from region to region. Decree 92 on Religious
The students were housed in a building that was          On 11 August 2009, AI released a statement decry-       who had been granted refugee status after UNHCR         Practice defines the rules for religious practice and
owned by the city, but was then turned over to a         ing the failure to resolve the killing of Papuan pro-   decided that they did indeed face the threat of per-    establishes the government as final arbiter. Local
private company after a legal dispute. The previous      tester Opinus Tabuni one year earlier. According to     secution in their home country.                         officials have used its terms to curtail minority reli-
year saw the evacuation of 1,400 students from the       AI, the unsolved murder ‘highlights the continued          One day after the mass deportation, UNHCR            gious practice, while not always understanding its
campus after attacks by villagers and others allegedly   lack of accountability in cases involving the lethal    asked for access to the deportees in Laos and offered   provisions. There were reports throughout the year
linked to the FPI, according to AI. Twelve churches      use of firearms by law enforcement officials’.          to assist the Lao government in resettling them to      of local officials banning Christian worship, refusing
were attacked and destroyed during 2009, according          In 2009, Indonesia set up a legal framework to       a third country. In early January 2010, UNHCR           permission to build churches or harassing worship-
to IRFR 2009.                                            implement a UN-backed programme to reduce               regional spokesperson Kitty McKinsey said in an         pers. There were also reports of Christians being
   In resource-rich West Papua, authorities contin-      greenhouse gas emissions through market incentives.     interview, ‘We haven’t received access or even a        forced to renounce their faith.
ued to clamp down, sometimes violently, on indig-        After China and the US, Indonesia is the world’s        formal response.’ Advocates in the US, such as the          As construction continued on dams along Laos’
enous peoples’ activists peacefully seeking greater      largest emitter of greenhouses gases, mostly due        Center for Public Policy Analysis, a Washington         rivers in 2009, indigenous peoples continued to
autonomy or independence. Members of Papuan              to rampant deforestation, according to the World        DC-based research group, said Lao authorities took      lose their livelihoods as they were displaced. In
indigenous communities, who number 800,000,              Bank. Logging – both legal and illegal – as well as     away members of the group who had been involved         May, the NGO International Rivers (IR) visited the
have accused the central government of exploit-          mining and conversion of forested areas to palm         in fighting the Pathet Lao. Those reports were based    Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project, a dam under

130                                 Asia and Oceania                          State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                         Asia and Oceania                                    131
                                                                                and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
construction in central Laos, and discovered that           that infringed upon religious freedom. Shanmuga          the Federal Court, affirmed a ruling that grants         Lumad indigenous people in Mindanao were being
the Theun-Hinboun Power Company had violated                Kanesalingam, legal adviser to the Malaysian             them land rights. Advocates said the ruling could        forcibly recruited by the military to fight the New
a number of agreements it had signed in order to            Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity,          help indigenous peoples resist destruction wrought       People’s Army, a communist rebel group.
be allowed to operate. Among other violations, the          Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, said in an inter-          by oil and logging companies.
company had failed to compensate villagers for their        view, ‘A significant minority of non-Muslims are                                                                  Thailand
loss of assets and livelihoods, and failed to provide       still unlawfully being treated as Muslims, and are       The Philippines                                          The year 2009 began with shocking photographs
documentation of ‘good faith negotiations’ with             subjected to Islamic law. They cannot marry non-         Violence continued to plague the southern region of      and video footage showing Thai officials allegedly
indigenous communities that will be affected by the         Muslims, and when they die their bodies will be          Mindanao, home to most of the country’s minor-           mistreating Rohingya refugees, who had escaped
project. The dam will displace 4,186 indigenous             taken away by the Islamic authorities and their          ity Muslim community, after a breakdown in peace         neighbouring Burma by sea. The images were
people from the reservoir area and affect a further         non-Muslim families disinherited.’ He pointed to         negotiations between the government and the Moro         accompanied by stories of abuse, including allega-
51,441 people living downstream, as well as under-          two cases in particular in which he was involved.        Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the previous year.       tions that Thai soldiers set refugees adrift in boats
mine food security for about 50,000 people, accord-         The ‘body-snatching’ case of Mohan Singh saw the         A ceasefire was declared on 29 July 2009, but fight-     without engines. Reports in January 2009 indicated
ing to IR. The Lao power development plan will see          Islamic authorities take possession of the deceased      ing was ongoing in some areas. In May 2009, the          that as many as 200 Rohingya were missing, while
55 large dams built, of which seven are currently           man’s body in order to give it a Muslim burial.          National Disaster Coordinating Council reported          300 were known to have drowned. Boats full of
under construction.                                         Singh was a Punjabi Sikh, but the authorities            that there were still 703,949 internally displaced       refugees were found drifting in the Andaman Sea by
                                                            claimed he had converted to Islam in 1992. The law       persons (IDPs), most of whom were Muslim. Living         the Indian Coast Guard. One survivor told IRIN,
Malaysia                                                    allows conversion to Islam but prohibits convert-        conditions were poor in evacuation centres, which        the UN news service, that Thai soldiers bound the
Despite campaign pledges by Prime Minister Najib            ing from Islam to any other religion. Singh’s Sikh       lacked sufficient food, water and sanitation. Diseases   hands of 412 refugees behind their backs, towed
Razak to address long-standing grievances among             family rejected the claim, but they were rebuffed        are common and some IDPs have died due to                them out to sea and left them there. Another refu-
Malaysia’s minorities, who staged demonstrations            by the authorities. Kanesalingam noted of the fam-       lack of medical attention. The military reportedly       gee, one of only 107 people to survive the ordeal,
that were widely credited as a key to his predeces-         ily, ‘They will also be disinherited.’ He mentioned      blocked relief supplies to IDPs, who were publicly       told IRIN, ‘The food and water ran out within a
sor’s defeat, the government has implemented few            also the case of a Hindu woman whose husband             labelled as an ‘enemy reserve force’ by Lt. Col.         few days. We were starving for nearly two weeks
reforms. Perhaps such failed promises added to the          had converted to Islam and was trying to force her       Jonathan Ponce, spokesman for the sixth infantry         and feared we would never see dry land again.’
ethnic and religious tensions that plagued the coun-        to go to the Islamic Syariah court (the Malaysian        division, during a 30 June 2009 forum, according to         Chris Lewa, of the Arakan Rohingya National
try in 2009. Many minority activists resent poli-           Sharia courts) in order to divorce her and take pos-     the Asian Legal Resource Centre, an NGO.                 Organization, said in an interview that four boats
cies that favour Malays, who account for half the           session of their children whom he wished to convert         Another armed group, Abbu Sayyaf, continued to        containing at least some Rohingya refugees were
population and are granted preferred status when it         to Islam as well. Kanesalingam said, ‘Government         mount attacks in 2009 and carried out kidnappings        found by Indian authorities in 2009, three of which
comes to education, jobs and status.                        authorities and the civil courts show undue defer-       against civilians. The most publicized incident was      had been set adrift by the Thai navy. The persons
   Religion is also a point of contention for minori-       ence to such Syariah court orders. Much anticipated      the 15 January kidnapping on the island of Sulu of       on board numbered 448 and included Bangladeshis
ties, and the courts are often called on to settle issues   law reforms have been deferred pending the Syariah       three representatives of the International Committee     as well as Rohingyas. At the end of 2009, Lewa said
that challenge Islam’s dominance. Islam is the state        authorities’ feedback.’                                  of the Red Cross. They were freed in April and           224 Rohingyas remained in a prison in Port Blair
religion (60 per cent of Malaysians are Muslim), but           Indigenous communities, who comprise 11 per           October. On 10 and 11 April, Abbu Sayyaf mem-            in the Andaman Islands, which are administered by
Article 7 of the Constitution states that ‘other reli-      cent of the population, continued to face threats to     bers allegedly killed two farmers in Zamboanga           India. Seventy-nine Rohingya refugees remained in
gions may be practised in peace and harmony’. A 31          their traditional way of life as mining, logging and     City; the group claimed that the farmers were mem-       a detention centre in Bangkok. They were found
December 2009 court ruling was a telling example of         hydroelectric dam construction threatened their          bers of a Christian militia, according to IRFR 2009.     on 19 August 2009 drifting in a boat with a broken
how such tensions play out in the social arena. The         environment. At the end of 2009, for example,               As a signatory to the UN International                engine and were picked up by the Thai navy. The
court overturned the government’s March ban on              the Bakun hydroelectric dam in Borneo was in the         Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of            refugees had first been caught by the Burmese navy,
the use of the word ‘Allah’ in Christian publications       final stages of completion, with officials saying they   Racial Discrimination, the Philippines came under        tortured and set adrift, according to Lewa. She said
in the Malay language; the government appealed the          would begin filling it with water in early 2010.         review during 2009. In the 28 August 2009 report         some of them had been burned and two of the refu-
decision. Protesters firebombed several churches soon       Thousands of indigenous people have already been         released by the committee overseeing the conven-         gees spent two months in the hospital recovering
afterwards. In October, the government seized and           driven from their ancestral lands to make way for        tion, committee members expressed concern that           from the torture. Thai officials first put the refugees
destroyed 20,000 Bibles in which the word ‘God’             the dam, which will eventually flood an area of jun-     ‘leaders of these communities continue to be victims     in a detention centre in Ranong, a province along
had been replaced by ‘Allah’, a common practice in          gle the size of Singapore. Those affected include the    of extrajudicial executions as well as of disappear-     the Andaman Sea, where conditions had been very
Christian texts written in Malay. The government            Penan tribe, who number about 10,000, of whom            ances and detention and over reports indicating          poor. They were brought to Bangkok after human
said that switching the words could cause confu-            about 400 are thought to be among the last nomad-        occupation of indigenous territories by the armed        rights groups protested.
sion and lead to Muslims to convert to Christianity,        ic hunter-gatherers left in the world. Twelve more       forces and armed groups’. The committee was also            On 20 January 2009, the head of Thailand’s
according to a report by CNN.                               dams are planned in Malaysian Borneo, according          concerned about ‘the effects of internal displace-       army announced that the military would investi-
   Several other court cases brought minority               to a report by The Independent, a UK newspaper.          ment as a consequence of armed conflict especially       gate the scandal, IRIN and other news agencies
religious rights into focus in 2009, as they were              The year 2009 also saw a significant legal victory    on indigenous peoples’. The newspaper Davao              reported. Thailand said the probe would be led
launched against actions taken by the government            for indigenous peoples, as Malaysia’s highest court,     Today reported on 5 March that members of the            by the Internal Security Operations Command

132                                   Asia and Oceania                            State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                          Asia and Oceania                                   133
                                                                                    and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
(ISOC), which is the same army unit that allegedly      claiming they were fleeing persecution.                      armed opposition group is thought to use terror           evicted 150 monks … beating some of the monks
perpetrated the abuses. The ISOC was set up during         Thailand is home to about 150,000 refugees,               tactics against fellow Muslims to keep them under         in the process’. The following day, more than
the Cold War to run anti-communist death squads,        according to Refugees International (RI), many of            control. On 12 March, for example, an insurgent           200 nuns fled the monastery to the nearby Phuoc
according to IRIN. Thailand refused offers from         whom are ethnic minorities who fled Burma to nine            shot and killed Laila Paaitae, a well known Muslim        Hue pagoda in Lam Dong province after being
outside agencies, including UNHCR, to help with         camps on the Thai side of the border. Aid workers            women’s rights and peace activist who promoted            threatened. The Guardian newspaper reported in
the investigation. A year later, no details had been    and UNHCR officials at the Mae La camp reported              coexistence between Malay Muslims and Thai                mid-December that a mob of about 100 people,
released to the public and it is unclear whether the    during 2009 that women suffer from high levels of            Buddhists, HRW reported.                                  who were allegedly led by undercover police and
ISOC had carried out an internal investigation.         domestic and sexual abuse, a situation that is likely           ICG accused the Thai government of failing             party officials, attacked the pagoda and assaulted
   The year ended with the Thai authorities target-     to be similar in other camps. About 13,000 refugees          to live up to promises to solve the conflict. In its      some occupants. The authorities gave the occupants
ing another refugee minority. On 28 December,           from the camps were resettled in 2009, while                 December report, it said, ‘The government has             until 30 December to leave that pagoda and many
the military deported more than 4,000 Hmong             more than 43,000 were resettled in 11 countries              made little progress in addressing political grievances   have since gone underground to escape persecution,
asylum-seekers to Laos, despite protests by human       between 2004 and 2008, according to the UN. In               or alleviating the sense of injustice among Malay         while others have asked for asylum in France,
rights groups who accused the Laos government of        a September 2009 report, RI warned that more                 Muslims.’ ICG recommended that the govern-                according to the Guardian. Observers such as HRW
human rights violations. Military units in riot gear    funding for refugee camps might be necessary in              ment take control of policy away from the military,       linked the attacks to proposals made by Thich
forced thousands at the Huay Nam Khao refugee           2010 if the Burmese military continues its offensive         including measures such as revoking martial law,          Nhat Hanh in 2007 urging the government to ease
camp onto buses and sent them back to Laos. The         against ethnic militias, causing more refugees to flee       which gives the military sweeping powers, as well as      restrictions on religion.
Thai military had prevented UNHCR officials             to Thailand.                                                 taking stronger measures to prosecute those respon-          While a 2004 Ordinance on Beliefs and Religions
from entering the Huay Nam Khao refugee camp               In southern Thailand, the military continued to           sible for attacks against Muslims, especially the 8       allows for religious freedom, Vietnam’s government
to assess their refugee claims. In May 2009, the        fight an ethnic Malay armed group, and the number            June attack on the mosque. ICG also recommended           requires all religious groups to be authorized and
international medical relief NGO Médecins Sans          of attacks by the latter increased in 2009 compared          pursuing talks with the insurgents to explore options     overseen by management committees. The gov-
Frontières (MSF), which was the primary group           to 2008. Malay Muslims are a minority in Thailand            for a compromise, which could include ‘a special          ernment recognizes six religions and 29 ‘religious
providing medical aid to the refugees, withdrew         as a whole, but a majority in the southern provinces         administrative structure’ for at least parts of south-    organizations’. Members of groups which are not
from the camp in protest at the strong-arm tactics      bordering Malaysia. The International Crisis Group           ern Thailand.                                             recognized face persecution. The Unified Buddhist
by Thai authorities. In a statement, MSF said, ‘We      (ICG) released a report in December 2009 which                                                                         Church of Vietnam (UBCV), for example, is
can no longer work in a camp where the military         stated:                                                      Vietnam                                                   banned and its members are routinely threatened,
uses arbitrary imprisonment of influential leaders to                                                                Political analysts and human rights organizations         detained and imprisoned and harassed. In a July
pressure refugees into a “voluntary” return to Laos,    ‘Buddhist monks required military escorts and one was        accused Vietnam of backtracking on freedom of             2009 incident, police prevented UBCV monks in
and forces our patients to pass through military        killed in a June bombing while another was injured;          expression, particularly religious freedom during         pagodas in south and central Vietnam from leaving
checkpoints to access our clinic.’                      there were six car bombs during the first 11 months of       2009. The Wall Street Journal reported that as            to attend a memorial ceremony for their patriarch,
   At a camp in Non Khai, 158 Hmong were also           the year, the highest number since 2004; by September        Vietnam was preparing to join the World Trade             according to HRW.
deported, despite UNHCR warnings that they were         415 people were killed and 773 injured; most civilians       Organization in 2007, the government allowed                 Christians and followers of other religions faced
‘persons of concern’ and could face persecution.        who were attacked were those thought to be collaborating     greater freedom for religious groups. But in 2009         similar persecution by the authorities during 2009.
The 158 who were detained in Non Khai had been          with the Thai authorities, especially teachers who, insur-   it changed tack, cracking down on religious lead-         About 200,000 Catholics protested in July 2009
granted refugee status. Kitty McKinsey, UNHCR’s         gents believe, are imposing Buddhist ideas on Malay          ers, human rights activists, journalists and bloggers.    after police destroyed a temporary church and
regional spokesperson, said in an interview, ‘The       Muslim students; by August nine educators had been           Some analysts saw this as an attempt by the govern-       arrested 19 people. During the attack, police beat
fact that we gave them refugee status shows that        killed; insurgents burnt down 11 schools in 2009.’           ment to stifle dissent and maintain Communist             parishioners with electric batons and used tear gas,
they had a well-founded fear of persecution.’ The                                                                    Party control in the wake of a bout of high inflation     according to HRW. On 27 March, an appeals court
governments of Australia, Canada, the Netherlands       Muslims too came under attack in southern                    in 2008 and the global economic crisis in 2009.           upheld the sentences of eight Catholics who were
and the US had all volunteered to resettle the group,   Thailand during 2009. On 8 June, gunmen opened               They expected repression to continue in the run-up        convicted in December 2008 of destroying public
but the Thai government ignored the offers.             fire on dozens of Muslims praying at a mosque in             to the 2011 party congress, which often heightens         property and disturbing public order. They had
   The Lao government has a history of animos-          Aipayae village, killing 10 people and injuring 12.          tensions between reformers and conservatives within       been protesting against what they said was govern-
ity toward the Hmong because of their coopera-          Police issued warrants for a former paramilitary             the party, according to the Wall Street Journal.          ment expropriation of church property. About
tion with the United States during its ‘secret war’     ranger and another man – both Buddhists. Police                 In Vietnam: Sharp Backsliding on Religious             5,000 Catholics marched to the appeals court but
in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s. The US Central          said they believed the attack was in retaliation for         Freedom, HRW focused on violent attacks on                were stopped by a reported 1,000 police officers in
Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited Hmong people        the killing of Buddhists by insurgents. A video post-        followers of Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the world’s          riot gear, according to a story by Viet Catholic News
in its fight against the communist Pathet Lao. Tens     ed online in January 2009 showed a Malay Muslim              leading Buddhist monks and peace activists. At            that was posted on the Vietnam Human Rights
of thousands of Hmong fled after the US pulled out      man being beaten by Thai soldiers. Human rights              the Bat Nha monastery on 27 September 2009,               Network website.
in 1975 and the Pathet Lao took over the country.       groups documented three cases of serious abuse               the report recorded that, ‘more than 100 thugs               Other Christians who were not members of
The Hmong who were deported back to Laos on 28          against Malay Muslims by security forces in 2009,            and undercover police officers armed with sticks          churches registered with the government-sanctioned
December 2009 had arrived in Thailand in 2004,          and many less violent cases, according to ICG. The           and hammers broke down the doors and forcefully           Evangelical Church of Vietnam (ECV) were also

134                                Asia and Oceania                            State of the World’s Minorities       State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                 135
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010         and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                                                                               Left: Hmong children near Sapa, in the north of             Chinese citizens better living standards, greater
                                                                                                               Vietnam. Dieter Telemans/Panos.                             political rights and additional legal protection. On
                                                                                                                                                                           3 December, the Xinhua news agency disseminated
                                                                                                               however, the group of 24 remained in political              a speech by the Minister of the Information Office
                                                                                                               limbo, living in a pagoda and surviving on dona-            of the State Council Wang Chen on the successful
                                                                                                               tions of food, according to the Phnom Penh Post.            implementation of the NHR plan, stating:
                                                                                                                  Vietnam’s ethnic minorities also faced barriers
                                                                                                               to health care, education and other services. The           ‘From what had been observed in the appraisal process,
                                                                                                               UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that                   the National Human Rights Action Plan was well or
                                                                                                               the poverty rate among ethnic minorities was 69             relatively well implemented up to date. … For most of
                                                                                                               per cent, compared to a rate of 23 per cent for             the targets and tasks which are expected to be finished
                                                                                                               the majority Kinh (80 per cent of the population)           in two years, 50 per cent, or even 65 per cent for some,
                                                                                                               and Han Chinese ethnic groups. In Cao Bang                  have been accomplished so far.’
                                                                                                               province, where ethnic minorities make up 98 per
                                                                                                               cent of the population, maternal mortality rates are        The government further stated how during the year:
                                                                                                               more than ten times those in Bin Duong province,
                                                                                                               near Ho Chi Minh City, according to UNICEF.                 ‘the rights of ethnic minority groups have been further
                                                                                                               A World Bank report, released on 3 June 2009,               protected with the adoption of various measures to boost
                                                                                                               identified six factors for higher poverty rates among       social and economic development in regions inhabited
                                                                                                               ethnic minorities: lower education levels, cultural         by ethnic groups. The State Council convened the first
                                                                                                               prejudice, less mobility, lack of access to fertile land,   national conference on ethnic minorities’ cultures and
                                                                                                               lower market access and lack of access to financial         promulgated regulations and policies to promote the
                                                                                                               services. The report recommended improving                  development of ethnic minorities and their cultures.’
                                                                                                               education levels among ethnic minorities as the key
                                                                                                               to addressing poverty.                                      The speech was supported by government statistics
                                                                                                                                                                           referring to central government investments of 1.24

                                                                                                               East Asia
                                                                                                                                                                           billion yuan in infrastructure construction, housing
victims of the crackdown on religious freedom. At     land and implementing policies aimed at assimilat-                                                                   projects and improvements in the standard of living
least 40 Montagnards – persons belonging to the       ing them. For example, almost all schooling, even                                                                    and incomes of minorities in the Tibet Autonomous
indigenous communities of the Central Highlands,      in areas where they are the majority, is conducted in                                                                Region (TAR) and the Xinjiang Uighur
many of whom are Christian – were arrested in         Vietnamese rather than in Khmer. In January 2009,        Jared Ferrie                                                Autonomous Region (XUAR). However, while the
Gai Lai province in 2009, according to HRW. In        HRW released a report highlighting abuses commit-                                                                    official statistics seem to record significant percent-
one incident, police raided a prayer meeting of       ted against the Khmer Krom. HRW obtained inter-          China                                                       age increases in employment rates and per capita
Montagnards on 14 August and beat eight peo-          nal memos written by government officials, ‘outlin-      Contributed by Marusca Perazzi                              disposable income in these geographic areas, they
ple so badly that one had to be hospitalized. In      ing their concerns about unrest among the Khmer                                                                      failed to provide any disaggregated data proving

February, police arrested 11 Montagnards and beat     Krom in the Mekong Delta and strategies to moni-                     he year 2009 was the 60th anniversary of        that minority groups inhabiting those ‘autonomous’
them and shocked them with electric batons in an      tor, infiltrate and silence Khmer Krom activists’.                   the founding of the People’s Republic of        regions had been the primary beneficiaries of such
attempt to force them to join the ECV. At least 300   In December 2009, a group of 24 Khmer Krom                           China (PRC) and the 20th anniversary            funding, when the areas are increasingly populated
Montagnard Christians are imprisoned in Vietnam,      arrived in Cambodia and asked for asylum, accord-        of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The Chinese               by an overwhelming number of Han Chinese.
according to HRW.                                     ing to reports in the Phnom Penh Post newspaper.         government marked the year by consolidating its                 In practice, China’s human rights record remains a
   The Vietnam Human Rights Network released          One member of the group, Choa Sokha, said he             political power and celebrating its achievements in         matter of serious concern, with economic growth and
a statement accusing police of beating to death       was arrested and tortured after leading protests call-   many areas, while pledging to improve the country’s         development not translating into improved minority
Thach Thanh No, a deacon of the Khmer Religious       ing for religious freedom in 2007. He initially fled     human rights record. With the publication of the            rights protection. In February 2009, the Chinese gov-
Alliance Church, on 4 April 2009. The incident        to Cambodia but crossed into Thailand after fac-         first National Human Rights Action Plan (NHR                ernment showed that its human rights commitment
allegedly took place in Tra Vinh province, in the     ing harsh treatment by Cambodian authorities. In         plan 2009–10) on 13 April 2009, ‘The government             is less than whole-hearted when it rejected many of
Mekong Delta. The region is home to many Khmer        December, Thailand sent them back to Cambodia,           admitted that “China has a long road ahead in its           the recommendations of the UN Human Rights
Krom, who share their ethnicity with the major-       as it did in June with another group of 54 Khmer         efforts to improve its human rights situation”’, as         Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic
ity population in neighbouring Cambodia, but are      Krom. Under Cambodian law, Khmer Krom have               reported by the official Xinhua news agency. The            Review (UPR), which called for greater democracy,
a minority in Vietnam. The Khmer Krom have            the right to citizenship and therefore could not         NHR plan includes a section on the protection               an improvement in the human rights situation and
accused the government of expropriating their farm-   apply for asylum as refugees. At the end of 2009,        of the rights of ethnic minorities and promised             greater adherence to the rule of law.

136                               Asia and Oceania                          State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                             Asia and Oceania                                     137
                                                                              and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
   In reality during the year, ethnic, religious and lin-   authorities’ lack of disaggregated statistical data       ethnic identity and culture. Initially peaceful dem-      tests by security forces, and the government’s con-
guistic minorities faced severely discriminatory prac-      regarding the socio-economic status of members of         onstrations on 5 July 2009 became violent resulting       tinuing crackdown in Tibetan areas’. In November
tices in mainstream society. With regard to religious       ethnic minorities. CERD also criticized obstacles to      in the deaths of 197 people, mainly Han, with over        2009, AI called for urgent action to be taken, as there
minorities, there were numerous examples of human           the effective public participation of minorities and      1,700 injured, according to the White Paper of            had been sporadic reports following the Tibetan
rights violations, including: abuses of freedoms of         particularly minority women. And the UN body              the Information Office of the State Council of the        demonstrations of 2008 of Tibetan monks and nuns
expression, speech and press; denial of other civil and     criticized the incentives system that grants the right    PRC, Development and Progress in Xinjiang, pub-           facing intimidation and harassment. Individuals were
political rights; an insufficiently independent and         to work and settle in autonomous minority areas           lished in September 2009. The Chinese authorities         being prosecuted in unfair trials and those who were
effective judiciary; as well as many cases of arbitrary     ‘that might substantially alter the demographic com-      have presented the violent incidents of July 2009         being held in detention centres were enduring cruel,
arrest, detention and inadequate access to remedy.          position with negative impact on customary tradi-         in the XUAR merely as an inter-ethnic conflict            inhuman or degrading treatment, torture, or in some
Respect for the fundamental rights of some ethnic           tions and cultures’. CERD also urged the Chinese          between Uighurs and Han, rather than admitting            cases death. Despite such severe repression, 2009
minorities, notably freedom of religion, conscience         government to improve its respect for the religious.      that the violence was an expression of the deep frus-     nevertheless saw renewed political protests against
and movement remained closely monitored and                                                                           tration felt by Uighurs. The causes are many and          the Chinese policies towards Tibetans continuing in
severely restricted. Moreover, systematic failure to        Defiance and repression                                   include ongoing state-sanctioned or state-instigated      Sichuan province.
implement basic labour standards and address labour         As indicated in MRG’s State of the World’s                repressive measures, the lack of implementation of           In March 2009, the European Parliament
rights infringements gained China bottom place              Minorities 2007, the Chinese authorities’ classifica-     policies relating to Uighur development, and forced       adopted a resolution on Tibet, pressuring China to
out of the 196 countries in the Labour Rights and                                                a
                                                            tion of 55 national minorities (sh˘ oshù mínzú),          mass assimilation processes.                              resume a dialogue on ‘real autonomy for Tibet’ on
Protection Risk Index – Human Rights at Risk Atlas          neither reflects the self-identification of such groups      With the September ‘100-day’ and the November          the basis of the Memorandum for Genuine Autonomy
2010, a human rights risk assessment tool produced          nor the reality of ethnic diversity within the coun-      ‘strike hard’ official campaigns in 2009, and the         for the Tibetan People, a document presented to
by the UK-based research company Maplecroft.                try’s boundaries. While some of China’s minority          new regional ‘law on education for ethnic unity’          Beijing by envoys of the Dalai Lama in 2008. The
   During 2009, the Chinese government’s authori-           groups may have benefited from such recognition,          threatening ‘national unity’ on top of the existing       European Parliament expressed concern over the
tarian tendencies continued to weaken the rule              the system is still fraught with difficulties, and        national law against secession, the authorities target-   lack of access to fair trial procedures for convicted
of law. It did, however, take a number of positive          largely used as a comparative exercise to emphasize       ed Uighurs across the XUAR. By the end of 2009,           Tibetans and Uighurs, and strongly condemned
steps, most especially in the area of legislation.          Han superiority, given that ethnic minorities are         the China News Service reported that 34 people had        the execution of two Tibetans in September 2009.
There were attempts to draft a refugee law, revise          discriminated against in all walks of life.               been convicted of committing crimes in connection         In a November 2009 resolution, the European
the Law on the Protection of State Secrets of the              In 2009, the Chinese authorities equated the           with the rioting in July. Another 22 had been sen-        Parliament called for the commutation of all pend-
People’s Republic of China, and reform the extra-           frustration of ethnic minorities, especially the          tenced to death, with nine executions having already      ing death sentences related to the Tibet protests
judicial administrative form of punishment for              Tibetan and Uighur populations, with social               occurred by year’s end.                                   of the previous year. It also called on the Chinese
minor offences operating outside China’s Criminal           unrest to be repressed, leaving the underlying               Since the violent clashes in the XUAR in July          government, ‘to make efforts to develop a genuine
Procedure Law (CPL), known as Re-education                  factors fuelling their discontent unaddressed.            2009, the Chinese government has enforced a mas-          Han–Uighur dialogue, to adopt more inclusive and
Through Labour (RTL), with the newly drafted                The government brushed aside the root causes of           sive communications shutdown, tightly controlling         comprehensive economic policies in Xinjiang aimed
Illegal Behaviour Correction Law (IBCL). However,           minorities’ discontent as well as Han resentment          the flow of information across the region and in          at strengthening local ownership, and to protect the
these initiatives were marred by other restrictive          of ‘minorities’ special treatment’. It also displayed     neighbouring provinces. Online sources of informa-        cultural identity of the Uighur population’.
measures affecting key human rights. Legal barriers         a lack of understanding and intolerance towards           tion and mobile communications remained censored             In the IMAR, where ethnic Mongols have long
affected the implementation of China’s minorities           the reality of ethnic diversity across the country.       for months following the July incidents.                  been subjected to cultural assimilation, population
policy. For example, no significant progress was            While gaining widespread support for its ‘corrective’        The treatment of hundreds of Uighur men,               transfers and political repression by the Chinese
made to include a definition of racial discrimination       policies in the XUAR and the TAR from the Han             women and children in the XUAR followed the               authorities, the NGO Southern Mongolian Human
and a prohibition of discrimination in domestic leg-        majority, the regime implicitly contributed to            same pattern as that which occurred after the March       Rights Information Centre (SMHRIC) recorded
islation. In August 2009, the UN Committee on the           undermining the frail social fabric and exacerbated       2008 Tibetan riots, which led to four persons being       that, during 2009, human rights advocates remained
Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), in             the already tense relations between minority              sentenced to death and hundreds still remaining           imprisoned while other activists had been jailed for
its Concluding Observations, commended China for            communities and those Han who live in the TAR,            unaccounted for, according to USCIRF 2009. By the         ‘“attempting to organize a protest” in the regional
adopting a series of policies and programmes aimed          the XUAR and Inner Mongolia (IMAR). But the               end of April 2009, the US Congressional-Executive         capital Hohhot in May for the 62nd anniversary of
at the advancement of minorities, including protect-        disproportionately violent measures adopted by            Commission on China (CECC) in its ‘Special Topic          the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.’
ing the rights of special groups in the Hong Kong           the Chinese government to repress subjugated              Paper: Tibet 2008–2009’ reported that TAR courts
Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) through               and discriminated ethnic communities cannot be            had convicted 84 Tibetans in connection with the          Freedom of religion
mechanisms such as the Women’s Commission                   condoned on the basis of the state’s obligations to       2008 riots to sentences ranging from death, death         While China is officially atheist and religious
and the Ethnic Minorities Forum, and the entry              protect its citizens and to maintain social stability.    with a two-year reprieve or life imprisonment. In         activities remain a very sensitive subject, freedom
into force of the Race Discrimination Ordinance.               The year 2009 was a defining one for Uighurs           the same vein, CECC described how the judicial            of religion is enshrined in the Constitution and
Nevertheless, in practical terms a number of rights         in the XUAR. The population has long suffered             authorities have used the state secrets law and other     regulated by a body of national and regional laws
obligations remained unfulfilled. In its report,            persistent human rights abuses, widespread discrimi-      measures, ‘to prevent and punish attempts to share        that oversee the ‘normal religious activities’ of all
CERD expressed concerns regarding the Chinese               nation and loss of land to the detriment of their         information on protests, the suppression of the pro-      religious groups. Only officially sanctioned religions

138                                   Asia and Oceania                            State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                   139
                                                                                    and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
– Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism              Right: The Chinese government is in the process of
and Taoism – are protected under PRC law. While            tearing down the Old Town in Kashgar to replace
Buddhism is implicitly supported by the govern-            traditional Uighur homes with modern Chinese
ment, Roman Catholicism is officially ostracized           buildings. Xinjiang, China, April 2009. Carolyn
and Catholic adherents can only be involved in             Drake/Panos.
religious activities through the state-sanctioned
Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant            people with religious beliefs to play a positive role in
Churches of China and the Chinese Catholic                 promoting economic and social development.’ The
Patriotic Associations. Under the Regulations              government remained wary of religions regarded
on Social Organizations (RSO), ‘patriotic reli-            as a contributing to social unrest, but there was
gious associations’ of Buddhism, Taoism, Islam,            official tolerance of religious groups seen as non-
Catholicism and Protestantism are regulated by the         threatening, such as those associated with Buddhism
State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA)          and Taoism, like the Zhuang followers of the Sue
and control the scope of the registered and unreg-         Gong in the provinces of Guangdong, the Guangxi
istered religious groups. According to a Chinese           Autonomous Region, Guizhou and Yunnan.
government White Paper published in 1997, China               Some Han followers of Buddhism, Catholicism,
had over 100 million followers of various faiths. In       Protestantism or Taoism have faced religious
May 2008, the international National Geographic            restrictions and detentions in 2009. Among the
magazine reported that the country was composed            Tibetan Buddhist (Lamaism) sects, the powerful
of 41.5 per cent atheists, 27.5 per cent Chinese           Gelug – with the Dalai Lama as spiritual leader –
folk believers, 8.5 per cent Buddhists, 8.4 per cent       remained the most persecuted and discriminated
Christians and 1.5 per cent Muslims. Government            against in the TAR and the IMAR, enduring rigor-
statistics refer to 20 million Muslims, 16 million         ous restrictions of religious practices. In contrast,
Protestants and 5 million Catholics, although unof-        Ben, Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya Buddhist devotees
ficial figures are higher.                                 from Lhobas, Monbas, Tus and Yugurs enjoyed
   The issue of religious freedom remained very            greater religious freedom and less official scru-
sensitive during 2009, with citizens mostly unable         tiny. The same went for Achang, Bai, Blang, Dai,
to uphold their right to freedom of religion through       De’ang, Gin and Lahu ethnic minorities practising
any legal recourse. Practitioners of ‘illegal’ faiths      Hinayana or Pali Buddhism in Yunnan province.
were often subjected to harassment, beatings and           Most Muslims, including Bonan, Dongxiang, Hui,
detention. The US CECC in its 2009 ‘China                  Kazaks, Kirgiz, Salar, Tajiks, Uighurs, and Uzbeks         activities, as well as intimidation and imprisonment    reports of physical abuse and other forms of inhu-
Human Rights and Rule of Law’ update pointed               who live in Gansu, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous              of religious leaders and activists, the number of       man treatment.
out how an unknown number of unregistered reli-            Region, Qinghai and the XUAR could exercise                Catholics and Protestants continued to grow,
gious groups experienced major difficulties in regis-      their religious rights. At the end of October 2009,        mainly in large cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou,      Democratic People’s Republic
tering and had been subjected to informal oppres-          the China Daily, for example, reported that 2,250          Shanghai and Wuhan, and in certain rural areas.         of Korea
sive administrative measures at the hands of local         pilgrims from north-west China’s Ningxia Hui               A considerable number of Miao, Yao and                  North Korea is almost entirely homogeneous with
authorities, the Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) and        Autonomous Region set off for the hajj to Mecca.           Yi minorities also practise Catholicism or              regard to ethnicity. While freedom of religion
the Public Security Bureau (PSB).                          However, Freedom House noted in its 2009                   Protestantism, with no reports of religious rights      is recognized under domestic law, according to
   In 2009, the Chinese leadership pointed to the          Freedom in the World report that the religious activi-     infringements during 2009.                              USCIRF 2009, ‘genuine religious freedom does
need for religious affairs to be governed by law rath-     ties of Muslims in the XUAR were increasingly                 The ban on the practice of those beliefs which       not exist’. In an August 2009 report on human
er than by administrative means, ‘through a correct        curtailed. Freedom of assembly, association and            the state has designated to be ‘evil cults’, includ-    rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of
understanding and proper handling of key and dif-          movement were severely restricted, and there were          ing the Falun Gong, remained in place. Through          Korea, the UN noted that, ‘In reality, religions are
ficult religious affairs’, to ensure China’s social har-   reports that young Uighurs and Tibetans had been           central government directives, like the ‘Strike Hard’   seen as unwanted competition for the cult-based
mony and stability. In a March 2009 Special Press          forcibly indoctrinated by the People’s Liberation          campaign, the authorities increased coercive and        indoctrination based upon the 10 principles for
Summary upon the opening of the Second Session             Army. Official exploitation of religion and suspicion      punitive measures against these communities. The        unitary ideology preached by the regime, which
of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC),              towards certain religious communities have made            US CECC’s 2009 report found that Falun Gong             deifies the leadership at the top in a pseudo-
China’s top legislative organ, the Xinhua news agen-       society as a whole, and minorities in particular, vul-     adherents had died after beatings. Falun Gong fol-      theocratic manner.’
cy reported Premier Wen Jiabao as saying, ‘We will         nerable and fearful about the future.                      lowers had also been exposed to electric shocks and        USICRF 2009 recorded that between 150,000
fully implement the Party’s basic principles on work          Despite concerted governmental efforts to prevent       force-feeding during 2009, while being detained in      and 200,000 prisoners were being held in remote
related to religions and enable religious figures and      the spread of Christianity through restrictions on         RTL camps or in police custody, where there were        camps on religious grounds, and that in May 2009:

140                                  Asia and Oceania                            State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                         Asia and Oceania                                 141
                                                                                   and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                             Less than 70 per cent of Ainu youth make it to high      failed in 2009 to act on a UN recommendation to          problematic during 2009, according to the World
‘Reports continue to indicate that the North Korean          school, 10 per cent of those drop out. In universi-      grant religious freedom to the approximately 80,000      Bank’s Mongolia Monthly Economic Update on recent
government has taken new steps to combat the growth          ties and colleges, the drop-out rate is 19 per cent.     foreign workers in the country. The Constitution         economic and social developments and policies in
of clandestine religious activity, particularly that which   More than half the respondents said they expected        also states that the president, cabinet ministers,       Mongolia. The Mongolian government, however,
reportedly is spread by cross-border contact with China.     government to enact measures to help them access         members of parliament and the judiciary must be          has taken some positive steps to foster human rights,
According to the testimony of North Korean refugees,         education. The panel established in 2008 submitted       Sunni Muslims. Atoll chiefs may practise other           ranging from suspending the death penalty to increas-
anyone engaged in such activity can be arrested, tor-        a report to the Japanese government in June 2009,        forms of Islam (an atoll is an island of coral that      ing equal access to education for ‘vulnerable groups’
tured, and imprisoned.’                                      which stated that the government bears a ‘strong         surrounds a lagoon). According to a report released      and minority children, partly through a funding
                                                             responsibility’ for restoring Ainu culture. Included     in October 2009 by the UN, the UN Special                pilot scheme, according to the UN Human Rights
In February 2009, the UN cited reports it had                in the recommendations was legislation that would        Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma        Committee in its fifth periodic report of states parties
received that:                                               give Ainu special access to land and water resources     Jahangir, expressed concern in May about an article      to the ICCPR under Article 40.
                                                             so that they could maintain such traditions as           of the Constitution that prevents non-Muslims               The state sponsored translations of the Constitu-
‘security agents from the National Security Agency           salmon-fishing. According to a 30 July 2009 article      from becoming citizens. Jahangir wrote in her state-     tion and other legislation into Kazakh and renewed
(bowibu) and the public security agency (anjeobu)            in the Japan Times, the government plans to estab-       ment, ‘The implementation of this article … could        facilities for local-language television and radio
have stepped up their surveillance and infiltration at       lish a consultative body on Ainu affairs, which will     have a significant negative impact on human rights       broadcasting in Kazakh-inhabited Bayan-Ulgii
borders in order to halt religious activities, even posing   include Ainu representatives.                            in the country, including those for individuals who      aimag. In October 2009, at the end of the first visit
as pastors or setting up fake prayer meetings to entrap         Prejudice against Burakumin remains wide-             have converted from Islam.’ The UN received no           by a UN Independent Expert to Mongolia, the UN
new converts. Those who seek refuge in other countries       spread. Ethnically non-distinct from the majority        response from the government.                            Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Vernor
and who contact missionaries are liable to be punished       of Japanese, they were the lowest caste during the          Not satisfied with enshrining Islam as the official   Muñoz Villalobos, praised Mongolia’s achievements
severely if sent back.’                                      Edo period from 1603 to 1868. Although the caste         and compulsory religion, the government took             while encouraging the government to produce disag-
                                                             system has long since been abolished, discrimination     steps in 2009 to oversee the way it is practised.        gregated statistical data on minority education, and
Japan                                                        remains and the issue was brought to the forefront       On 4 January, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs            called for the promotion of a human rights culture
Despite positive political developments for Ainu in          in 2009 when Google posted a map online that             announced its intention to prevent groups from           to strengthen women’s public participation and com-
2008, members of the indigenous community still              distinguished ‘burakus’, or districts where many         holding Friday prayers at a time other than 12:35,       bat stereotyping.
faced major obstacles in 2009, according to survey           descendants of Burakumin still live. The Japan           which is the officially sanctioned prayer time, the         After decades of repression, Mongolia’s religious
results released in June 2009 by the Hokkaido                Times quoted sources saying that descendants of          US State Department reported. On 1 March, the            groups are calling on the Mongolian government to
University Centre for Ainu and Indigenous Studies.           burakumin are often blacklisted from jobs and face       government established a committee on religious          strengthen its adherence to freedom of religion or
The study indicated that household incomes among             other forms of discrimination. In a July 2009 report,    issues, which promptly discussed a ban on discos         belief and promote greater religious tolerance. Mon-
Japan’s 50,000 Ainu are only 60 per cent of the              Freedom House also noted, ‘Japan’s three million         in order to prevent ‘un-Islamic conduct’, according      gols, 40 per cent of whom are atheists, generally tend
national average, and college advancement rates are          burakumin, who are descendents of feudal era out-        to a committee member. In April, the Ministry of         towards practising traditional religions such as Sha-
half those of other Japanese people. The chief of the        casts, and the indigenous Ainu minority still suffer     Islamic Affairs started a programme to promote           manism and Lamaism rather than other faiths. With
University Centre told media that such data could            from entrenched societal discrimination that pre-        religious awareness in schools, but the programme        restrictions on proselytizing, the government respects
be useful to the government in formulating policies          vents them from gaining equal access to housing and      ignored religions other than Islam, which it             the religious rights of Tibetan Buddhists (50 per cent),
in support of Ainu.                                          employment opportunities.’ During its 23 July 2009       promoted, USCIRF 2009 said.                              Muslims (4 per cent), Shamanism believers and Chris-
   In 2008, the Japanese House of Representatives            review of Japan’s report to the UN Committee on             Some laws in the Maldives, which were drawn up        tians (6 per cent). Religious minorities rely on consti-
officially classified the Ainu as an ‘indigenous peo-        the Elimination of Discrimination against Women,         according to perceived Islamic values, discriminate      tutional guarantees of freedom of religion or belief as
ple’. Many commentators saw this as a substantial            the Committee, ‘expressed regret at the lack of infor-   against women, and women from minorities                 well as the 1993 Law on Relations between the State
step forward, as the resolution was linked to the UN         mation and statistics concerning minority women’.        suffer multiple forms of discrimination as a             and Religious Institutions and local policies. While
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples              In a report released by the UN, the committee also       result. In matters relating to adultery, finance and     religious groups such as the Kazakhs in Darkhan-Uul
(UNDRIP). The government set up an expert panel              noted a lack of ‘any proactive measures, such as a       inheritance, the testimony of one man is equal to        or Orkhon must register annually and reportedly face
to determine future policies to uphold Ainu rights           policy framework to promote their rights’.               that of two women. In regard to inheritance, male        burdensome bureaucratic requirements, there were
and help guide policy. The Hokkaido University                                                                        heirs are granted twice the share of female heirs.       no accounts of any violent repression of religious
June 2009 report suggested that the government               Maldives                                                 Women are prevented from marrying non-Muslim             minorities during the year, as confirmed by USCIRF
has a long way to go to make up for past injustices,         Islam is the state religion of the Maldives. The         foreigners, but men are able to do so.                   2009. However, government pressure and control
which include the seizure of traditional lands, cul-         Constitution, ratified in 2008, prohibits citizens                                                                of churches reportedly continued in Tuv province
tural repression and forced assimilation, including          from practising other religions and precludes non-       Mongolia                                                 near Ulaanbaatar. Such local authority interference
a prohibition on use of the Ainu language. More              Muslims, including the Christian minority, from          Contributed by Marusca Perazzi                           in religious activities in the area prompted followers
than half the survey respondents said they had no            voting or holding public office. Non-Muslim for-         Acute economic hardship, increasing poverty and          of religious groups, like the International Religious
experience of preserving aspects of their culture,           eigners must practise their religious beliefs in pri-    unemployment, pervasive corruption, lack of trans-       Liberty Association (IRLA), to urge the government
such as their language, song, dance and storytelling.        vate, according to USCIRF 2009. The government           parency, and policing and security issues remained       in September 2009 to implement religious freedoms.

142                                    Asia and Oceania                            State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                          Asia and Oceania                                   143
                                                                                     and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
In spite of widespread leniency towards others’ reli-      an Indian national who teaches at a Seoul univer-       While 93 per cent of Taiwan’s 23 million people              Oceania comprises more than two dozen states
gious beliefs, affiliations and customs, discriminatory    sity, and his female friend Hahn Ji-seon, who is        practise a mixture of Buddhism and Taoism, 4.5            and territories spread across the south-western
attitudes persisted, with reports of harassment and        Korean. The case prompted politicians to begin          per cent are Christian. Indigenous people account         Pacific Ocean, all but three of which have less than
abuse, albeit that these were more likely to have been     drafting legislation that would define discrimination   for about one-third of Taiwan’s 300,000 Christians,       1 million inhabitants, and nearly a dozen of which
induced by widespread socio-economic frustrations          by race and ethnicity, and impose criminal penal-       according to a 24 February speech 2009 by Auxiliary       have populations of less than 100,000. In the larg-
rather than religious differences.                         ties, the New York Times reported.                      Bishop John Baptist Tseng King-zi, which was              est and third-largest countries, Australia and New
   Traditional prejudices and rivalries exist between         USCRIF 2009 reported that, ‘the government           reported by the Union of Catholic Asian News. He          Zealand, descendants of British and Irish colonists
Kazakhs and Khalka but no specific incidents were          generally respected religious freedom in practice’.     is Taiwan’s only indigenous bishop. Tseng spoke           make up the bulk of the population. In Papua New
reported. In northern Mongolia, Muslim Kazakhs,            However, more than 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses              at an event to mark the release of UN Educational,        Guinea, indigenous people form the majority of the
Buddhist herders and nomadic Shamanist Tuva                remain in prison due to conscientious objection         Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO)           population and the political class, although small
continued to maintain good relations. Along with           to military service, according to the US State          annual Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger.          numbers of ethnic Europeans and Asians are influ-
Darkhad and Uriankhai, Tsaatan in Khuvsgul prov-           Department. Military service is compulsory for all      According to UNESCO, nine indigenous languages            ential in political and business circles.
ince follow their own unique Shamanistic tradition of      South Korean men over the age of 18.                    are ‘unsafe’, seven are ‘critically endangered’ and one      The Melanesian states closest to New Guinea
nature worship, considered to be the oldest form of                                                                is ‘severely endangered’. Seven indigenous languages      have very diverse populations, characterized by
religion practised by Mongolian nomads. In addition        Taiwan                                                  have disappeared from Taiwan over the past 50 years.      large numbers of linguistic and cultural groups as
to governmental and the community’s own efforts            An amendment made in 2000 to Taiwan’s                       Taiwan’s significant population of migrant work-      compared to population size. The Polynesian states
to preserve its language, distinctive customs, and         Constitution protects and preserves indigenous          ers was hit hard by the global economic crisis in         of the middle Pacific have more homogeneous cul-
religious beliefs and traditions, the Tsaatan commu-       languages and cultures. The government officially       2009. Taiwan is an export-driven economy and              tures, with the Micronesian states of the north-west
nity sought to ensure their culture’s future existence     recognizes 14 indigenous tribes, which account for      employs migrants in factories that manufacture            Pacific being intermediate between the two. Across
by initiating sustainable forms of community self-         2.1 per cent of the population, or about 484,000        mostly garments and electronics. When exports fell        the small Pacific island states, Asians and Europeans
empowerment such as eco-tourism.                           people. Six of 113 legislative seats are reserved for   by more than 40 per cent during the first quarter of      form significant minorities in almost every country;
                                                           indigenous people. While relations between the          2009 compared to 2008, many foreign workers were          indigenous peoples are in numerical majority every-
Republic of Korea                                          government and indigenous groups are generally          laid off, while working hours dipped below full-time      where except the Northern Mariana Islands, where
Ethnic minorities make up a very small percentage          positive, household incomes for indigenous people       for others, according to Migration News, which is         Asian communities formed 56 per cent of the popu-
of South Korea’s 48.7 million people. The largest          remain significantly lower than the national average    published by the University of California, Davis.         lation in the 2000 Census.
minority comprises approximately 20,000 people             and unemployment rates are higher. The Council of       Many foreign workers take out loans to pay brokers           Of the smaller states, only Fiji has a significant
of Chinese descent who are barred from obtaining           Indigenous Peoples works with government minis-         who place them in jobs. Once they arrive, they pay        non-indigenous population, the descendants of
citizenship or becoming civil servants. Since citizen-     tries to raise living standards.                        for company-provided accommodation. As workers            indentured Indian labourers brought in by British
ship is transferred through parents, some children            Taiwan’s indigenous communities are concen-          lose employment, some find themselves unable to           colonists around the turn of the twentieth century
born to ethnic Chinese parents have been rendered          trated in mountainous, rural areas in the east. Some    pay debts incurred while seeking work in Taiwan,          to work in the island’s sugarcane industry. Indo-
stateless, according to an 11 March 2009 report by         indigenous villages were destroyed by Typhoon           Migration News reported.                                  Fijians, who comprise around 37 per cent of the
RI. The children do not qualify for Korean citizen-        Morakot, which struck Taiwan on 7 August 2009,                                                                    population, have historically had poor relations with
ship, nor can they obtain Chinese citizenship if their     bringing record rainfall and mudslides in which                                                                   the majority Fijian population. The country’s two

parents are ‘settled abroad’ (i.e. if they have acquired   about 500 people were killed. In the aftermath of                                                                 coups in 1987 and 2000 were prompted by elec-
permanent residency outside China).                        the storm, mainland China directed some aid specif-                                                               tions in which the Indo-Fijian-backed Fiji Labour
   Foreign workers, who have doubled in number             ically towards indigenous communities, a move that                                                                Party came to power, and the government that
over the past seven years to 1.2 million, have             was possibly symbolic of China’s strategy of curry-                                                               emerged from the 2000 crisis also excluded Indo-
reported widespread discrimination. In a November          ing favour among minorities on one hand, while          David Fickling                                            Fijians from positions of influence, in contravention
2009 briefing to the UN, AI reported discrimina-           suppressing dissent on the other. The Chinese gov-                                                                of the country’s Constitution. In 2006, the com-

tion in the workplace against foreign workers who          ernment, which considers Taiwan a province and                        igration was a key issue in Oceania         mander of Fiji’s military forces, Frank Bainimarama,
are mostly from South Asia. AI cited cases of sexual       blocks its attempts at gaining international recogni-                 throughout 2009. Indian and Chinese         overthrew that government with the stated aim
abuse, racial slurs and mandatory disclosure of            tion as an independent state, set aside 20 million                    migrants in Australia and Papua New         of ending the discrimination against Indo-Fijians,
HIV status, and the group reported that ‘incidents         yuan for ethnic minorities, according to a report by    Guinea, in particular, were victims of violence.          although his own post-coup government has
of xenophobia are on the rise’ since the beginning         China’s Xinhua state news agency. Chinese officials     Australia’s Labor government continued to uphold          become increasingly authoritarian. In April 2009,
of global economic crisis in 2009. Foreign work-           also promised Taiwan’s ethnic minority and indig-       many features of the previous government’s                the country’s court of appeal ruled the 2006 coup
ers have also reported abuse in public. Prosecutors        enous groups further assistance in economic devel-      draconian refugee policy, although progress was           illegal, prompting the sitting government to suspend
charged a 31-year-old Korean man with contempt             opment, including in the tourism and agricultural       made in some areas. Meanwhile, indigenous                 the Constitution and censor media outlets. The
after he made racist and sexist comments on a bus          sectors, Xinhua reported.                               peoples in New Zealand and particularly Australia         authorities have promised elections by 2014.
during a 10 July incident that was widely reported            Taiwan recognizes religious freedom and there        continued to suffer disadvantages compared to the            In recent years, the Asia-Pacific Forum of
in the media. The man insulted Bonogit Hussaine,           were no significant violations reported in 2009.        majority population.                                      National Human Rights Institutions has been

144                                  Asia and Oceania                           State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                           Asia and Oceania                                 145
                                                                                  and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                                                                               Left: A young member of the Yolngu religion              Australian migrant detention centres. The site is also
                                                                                                               in Ramingining, Northeast Arnhem Land,                   outside Australia’s migration zone, meaning that
                                                                                                               Australia, undergoes an initiation ceremony or           refugees there are assessed at ministerial discretion
                                                                                                               dhapi. Polly Hemming.                                    and have minimal rights of appeal.
                                                                                                                                                                           Bilateral ties between Australia and India came
                                                                                                               appeal in 2008, as a result of doubts about how          under pressure following violent attacks on some
                                                                                                               a lower court had assessed evidence of traditional       of Australia’s estimated 100,000 Indian students,
                                                                                                               owners’ links to the land. The new deal would settle     mostly in western Melbourne. Australian officials
                                                                                                               all claims within two years, Western Australia’s         said that most such attacks were random robberies,
                                                                                                               attorney-general said.                                   but the Federation of Indian Students of Australia
                                                                                                                  Meanwhile, Australia’s 517,000 indigenous             claimed that the authorities were downplaying
                                                                                                               Australians remain far behind the majority popula-       evidence of racial motivation. Following extensive
                                                                                                               tion in a range of measures, including health, life      coverage of the issue in Indian media and promised
                                                                                                               expectancy, educational attainment and employ-           boycotts of Australian-based shoots by Bollywood’s
                                                                                                               ment. Northern Territory students came last in           biggest labour union, John Brumby, premier
                                                                                                               national literacy tests in September 2009, with some     of the state of Victoria, visited India to reassure
                                                                                                               age groups recording a decline on the previous year’s    potential students. Australia’s Tourism Forecasting
                                                                                                               scores. The results reignited a debate over bilingual    Committee, an industry group, predicted a 20 per
                                                                                                               education in remote indigenous schools, which the        cent drop in Indian overseas student numbers in
                                                                                                               Territory government wants to enforce from 2010          2010 as a result of the negative publicity.
                                                                                                               to enhance English-language literacy. Indigenous            Around 60 per cent of Australia’s population
                                                                                                               groups fear the plans will threaten the survival of      belongs to Christian denominations and a further
                                                                                                               Aboriginal languages; 110 of Australia’s 145 indig-      30 per cent are of no stated religion. Australia’s
                                                                                                               enous languages are in danger of disappearing and        420,000 Buddhists form the second-largest group,
                                                                                                               the government committed A$9.3 million during            making up 2.1 per cent of the population, according
                                                                                                               2009 to preserving them.                                 to the 2006 Census, followed by 340,000 Muslims.
                                                                                                                  The federal government also acted in 2009 to             In January 2009, the Queensland Retailers’
                                                                                                               abolish some draconian legislation regarding refu-       Association called for a ban on people wearing any
pressing Pacific countries to establish their own      adjusted to comply with the Act from July 2010,         gees. A rule barring asylum-seekers from working or      clothing that covers the face, including the Muslim
human rights bodies, and both Papua New Guinea         but Aboriginal groups argue that the most contro-       receiving health benefits if they fail to apply within   niqab, in shops, but the proposals were not taken
and Nauru took steps to set up such groups             versial measures will remain in place.                  45 days of arriving was lifted, and a law was passed     up by the state government. In December, the
during 2009.                                              The government also announced that it will           to end a policy of charging refugees for their time      New South Wales administrative decisions tribunal
                                                       establish a new representative body for indigenous      in immigration detention, which in some cases            upheld a complaint of racial vilification against talk
Australia                                              Australians to replace the Aboriginal and Torres        resulted in bills of hundreds of thousands of dollars.   radio broadcaster Alan Jones and ordered him to
Progress was made in 2009 towards undoing the          Strait Islander Commission, which was abolished         However, an increase in boat arrivals of refugees off    pay A$10,000 in damages over comments made on
damage done by several previous setbacks for indig-    by the federal government in 2004 following claims      Australia’s north-west coast tested the popularity of    air in the run-up to the 2005 Cronulla riots. Using
enous rights in Australia. In November, the federal    of corruption among its leadership. The body is         the Rudd government’s more liberal refugee policy,       strongly derogatory language, Jones had said that
government introduced a law to reinstate the Racial    expected to be functioning by January 2011. The         particularly in October 2009, when an Australian         persons of Middle Eastern origin had ‘taken over’
Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory. The      government also signed the UN Declaration on the        coastguard vessel rescued 78 Sri Lankan Tamil            the beach in southern Sydney and called for a ‘com-
Act had been suspended for the purpose of the 2007     Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in April          refugees in Indonesian waters, sparking a stalemate      munity show of force’ against Lebanese Australians
National Emergency Response (NER), a military-         2009. The step was particularly significant, given      when Indonesia refused to allow it to dock. The          visiting it. More than 100 people, from both major-
backed intervention in the Territory’s indigenous      that Australia had voted against the declaration        refugees were eventually allowed to disembark in         ity and minority ethnic groups, were charged fol-
communities, that was prompted by reports of           when it was adopted by the UN General Assembly          Indonesia from where they will migrate to several        lowing the subsequent riots and retaliatory unrest.
widespread sexual abuse against Aboriginal children,   in 2007.                                                countries, including Australia. The government’s
principally by adult male Aborigines. The NER             In Western Australia, the government signed an       Human Rights Commission continued to criticize           New Zealand
involved far-reaching measures, including alcohol      initial agreement with the Noongar people over          conditions at Australia’s offshore Christmas Island      The indigenous Maori make up around 15 per
bans, prescribed spending patterns and state control   a native title claim covering the city of Perth and     centre, saying that its isolation limits detainees’      cent of New Zealand’s population and have
of Aboriginal land, prompting an investigation by      large parts of the south-west of the state. Court       access to legal advice, counselling and health care.     traditionally enjoyed better civil rights than many
the UN’s Special Rapporteur on indigenous rights,      claims over the issue were first lodged 12 years ago,   Previous research has highlighted particular prob-       other colonized peoples, although they continue
James Anaya, in August 2009. The NER will be           but were rejected by Australia’s Federal Court on       lems of gender insensitivity towards women in            to suffer from racism and lower educational,

146                               Asia and Oceania                          State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                          Asia and Oceania                                  147
                                                                              and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                                                                                     Left: Women sing and pray during a Sunday                settlement in the capital Port Moresby were razed
                                                                                                                     church service in the village of Kubut, in the           in June 2009, and further demolitions were car-
                                                                                                                     Western Province of Papua New Guinea. The                ried out in the suburbs of Four Mile and Hohola
                                                                                                                     majority of local citizens are members of a              the following month, the UN Office of the High
                                                                                                                     Christian church; many have combined their               Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
                                                                                                                     Christian faith with traditional indigenous              reported. Local media quoted residents claiming
                                                                                                                     practices. Natalie Behring/Panos.                        that food, goods and money were taken during
                                                                                                                                                                              the raids. Police also demolished squatter settle-
                                                                                                                     whelming majority of the population are Christian,       ments around the Porgera gold mine in the New
                                                                                                                     although traditional beliefs remain very strong, and     Guinea highlands in April. The facility is owned by
                                                                                                                     reports of religious discrimination are rare. Baha’is    Barrick, the world’s largest gold mining company.
                                                                                                                     form the second-largest religious group, with local      The company says the squatters were carrying out
                                                                                                                     leaders claiming up to 40,000 followers. There are a     illegal mining, but local groups say that most were
                                                                                                                     few thousand Muslims, including increasing num-          forced to pan tailings due to degradation of their
                                                                                                                     bers of converts.                                        land. Plans to remove camps around the highlands
                                                                                                                        Unrest overtook more than half a dozen of Papua       town of Goroka were also announced in September
                                                                                                                     New Guinea’s major towns in May 2009, after a            2009, although they had not been carried out by
                                                                                                                     dispute between local and Chinese migrant workers        year’s end.
                                                                                                                     at a nickel refinery site near the northern town of         Sporadic violence between clans continued
                                                                                                                     Madang led tens of thousands of New Guineans to          through the year, particularly in Enga and Eastern
                                                                                                                     take to the streets in a wave of anti-Chinese protests   Highlands provinces. Such tit-for-tat violence has
                                                                                                                     and riots. Diplomats reported that nine Chinese-run      historically been common in the New Guinea high-
                                                                                                                     businesses had been looted, while three rioters were     lands, although political rivalries and the relatively
                                                                                                                     shot dead and one trampled to death in the turmoil,      recent introduction of guns are thought to have
                                                                                                                     according to The Australian newspaper. Ethnic            worsened the situation over the past few decades.
                                                                                                                     Chinese have been present in Papua New Guinea               Inter-clan sexual violence is also a common trig-
                                                                                                                     since the nineteenth century, but migrant numbers        ger for such feuds, and the UNICEF has reported
economic and health outcomes than the majority            of discrimination. Attitudes towards ethnic Chinese        have grown rapidly over the past decade. They are        that Papua New Guinea has one of the world’s
population. In November 2009, the cabinet                 had improved over the previous year, although              now estimated to comprise around 20,000 people,          highest rates of sexual violence. Traditional prac-
in Wellington signalled that it would repeal              opinions about ethnic Indians had become more              or 0.3 per cent of the population. Some have set up      tices that relegate women ‘to the status of chattel’,
controversial legislation passed in 2004, ruling that     negative, the group reported. Two school-children          small goods shops and fast food outlets, which make      according to UNICEF, contribute to rape going
New Zealand’s foreshore and seabed belonged to            in the south island city of Christchurch were sus-         them a highly visible presence in New Guinean            under-reported. Women are also excluded from
the Crown and could not be transferred to Maoris.         pended in August 2009, after a racist attack on an         towns. Many indigenous New Guineans believe              political participation at all levels. In March, the
The legislation had been strongly opposed by the          Indo-Fijian student who had recently started at the        these businesses undercut locally owned rivals and       government’s sports minister, Dame Carol Kidu,
Maori Party, which forms part of the National-led         school. Sixty per cent of people in the survey also        claim that their owners have obtained work permits       introduced a bill to increase women’s presence in
coalition government. The UN Human Rights                 believed that Pacific Islanders, who make up a fur-        fraudulently. Around half a dozen ethnic Chinese         national politics by adding three appointed female
Council, in May 2009, called on the government            ther 7 per cent of the population, suffered discrimi-      have been killed over the past decade by indigenous      representatives to the 109-member parliament.
to find ways of compensating Maoris for the loss          nation. The Commission said that the majority of           employees alone. The unrest echoed similar violence      The measure failed to gain the necessary two-thirds
of their traditional lands and pursue a review of the     the nearly 6,000 complaints it had dealt with over         against Chinese businesses in the neighbouring           majority to pass. Dame Carol Kidu is the only
Act, as well as to take action to address other aspects   the course of the year had related to racial, disability   Solomon Islands and in Tonga in 2006.                    woman in the national parliament. p
of disadvantage suffered by Maori. Following              and sexual discrimination, but pointed out that               Papua New Guinea’s highly diverse population
Australia’s signing of the UNDRIP in April 2009,          New Zealand has no system of collecting official           means that there is no single dominant ethnic or
pressure built on New Zealand to do the same.             data on racially motivated crime, an issue that has        linguistic group, although outside their own com-
Maori Party leader Pita Sharples suggested that an        previously been raised by the UN.                          munities indigenous New Guineans can become
endorsement was likely, however the government                                                                       marginalized. A strong tradition of land ownership
backed off from that position.                            Papua New Guinea                                           and widespread poverty means that migrants from
   A survey in February 2009 by New Zealand’s             Papua New Guinea has one of the most heteroge-             rural areas frequently end up in squatter settlements
Human Rights Commission found that 74 per cent            neous populations in the world, with more than             on the fringes of large towns. These are popularly
of respondents believed Asians, who comprise 7 per        800 languages spoken among its 6.2 million people,         regarded as encouraging crime and disease, and are
cent of New Zealand’s population, suffer some level       according to the World Bank database. The over-            regularly bulldozed by police. Parts of the Five Mile

148                                 Asia and Oceania                            State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                          Asia and Oceania                                  149
                                                                                  and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010

  A T L A N T I C                                                                                    FINLAND

     O C E A N                                             NORWAY


               IRELAND       UNITED                     DENMARK
                             KINGDOM                                                      LITHUANIA
                                                        GERMANY                   POLAND

                                                                     CZECH REP.                                         UKRAINE

                               FRANCE                     LIECH.    AUSTRIA                                    MOLDOVA
                                                                          BOSNIA                                                                            GEORGIA
                               ANDORRA                    SAN MARINO               SERBIA
PORTUGAL                                                                  AND HERZE.                                       B L A C K       S E A
                                            MONACO                                 MONTENEGRO                                                                             AZERBAIJAN

           SPAIN                                                                     Kosovo                                                                     ARMENIA
                                                                       ITALY      ALBANIA


                                                                          M E D I T E R R A N E A N                S E A
                                                                                    Katalin Halász
           he experiences of ethnic, religious and lin-   tection of vulnerable groups in the current econom-       cover if any might be refugees or victims of traffick-   lum and visa policy. The Programme was criticized
           guistic minorities and migrants in Europe      ic climate, so that the response to the crisis leads to   ing, pregnant women, unaccompanied children, sick        for its restrictive security approach, to the detriment
           reveal persistent discrimination, prejudice,   more rather than less equality.                           or injured. Boats carrying the migrants were inter-      of the protection of human rights.
stereotyping and racism. Xenophobic attacks occur            Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) work-            cepted at sea, and Italy persuaded Libya to receive         Of particular concern is the treatment of child
regularly throughout the continent. While there           ing on social justice issues and human rights also        the passengers following an earlier agreement. Joint     migrants and minor asylum-seekers, who are espe-
have been fine declarations and well-meaning anti-        draw attention to the impact of the economic crisis       naval patrols and other returns soon followed. Libya     cially vulnerable to human rights abuses, particularly
discrimination policies and legislation, considerable     on the poorest and most marginalized communi-             has no asylum procedure and has not signed the           if they are unaccompanied when crossing borders.
work remains to be done in confronting widespread         ties. In the absence of reliable statistical data on      1951 United Nations (UN) Convention relating             In October 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW)
prejudices on the streets and in the mindset and lan-     vulnerability caused by the economic recession,           to the Status of Refugees. Many migrants are held        raised concerns over France’s treatment of the 1,000
guage of mainstream institutions.                         the International Federation of Red Cross and             indefinitely in detention centres where conditions       unaccompanied migrant children who arrived in
   Around one in six people in Europe claims to           Red Crescent Societies (IFRCRCS) published in             are reported to be poor.                                 Paris by plane in 2008 and were detained in transit
have personally felt discriminated against or har-        October 2009 testimonies of people from 52 coun-             This incident led to an international outcry and      zones, where they were denied rights granted to
assed, according to a Eurobarometer survey released       tries in Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus,           put European migration policies in the spotlight.        other migrant children in France. Greece, which has
by the European Commission in November 2009.              many of them belonging to a minority group. The           Hammarberg also highlighted the European trend           long been criticized for its migration policies and
The results of the survey show that, at 61 per cent,      IFRCRCS identified pre-existing vulnerabilities,          of criminalizing undocumented migration, stating         for conditions in its detention centres, planned to
discrimination on ethnic grounds is seen as the most      namely poverty, age, membership of a minority or          that it raises serious human rights issues. In Italy,    grant citizenship to some 200,000 migrant children
widespread form of discrimination in the European         being a migrant, as the key determinants of adverse       for example, the parliament approved legislation         but also to send thousands of detainees away. In the
Union (EU). More than one-third of Europeans              impact. Moreover, the organization expressed fears        in 2009 which criminalizes irregular entry, allows       UK, a medical report was published which revealed
also think that discrimination on the grounds of          that the economic downturn may make such vulner-          citizens’ patrols to help the police to keep order,      the serious physical and mental health problems
gender and religion or belief is widespread.              abilities more entrenched.                                and sentences landlords to up to three years in          of children who are asylum-seekers and are held in
   The EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)              Commentators warn that it is still too early to        prison if they rent to undocumented migrants.            British detention centres.
published the first ever EU-wide survey on ethnic         assess the social, economic and political impact of       In April 2009, Jennifer Chary was prosecuted in             Member states have introduced a series of new
minority and immigrant groups’ experiences of rac-        the recession on minorities. However, the Anti-           France for aiding and abetting an undocumented           measures with the stated aim of better integrat-
ist crime and discrimination in 2009. It revealed         Defamation League (ADL), a US-based NGO,                  migrant who was the man she was about to marry.          ing their migrant populations. In 2009, the EU
a certain resignation on the part of ethnic minori-       carried out a survey in seven European countries          When they applied for a marriage licence, Chary’s        launched its integration portal and platform for
ties and immigrants, due to a lack of faith that          in February 2009 which found that 31 per cent of          partner was deported and she was charged with            member states to exchange good practices and views,
the authorities would provide effective protection        respondents blame Jews in the banking sector for          the offence, which carried a penalty of up to five       and to act together on integration issues. In reality,
against discrimination, harassment and racially           the current economic crisis. Populist-nationalist         years’ imprisonment plus a steep fine. Ultimately,       however, some countries have been strongly criti-
motivated violence. Racist crime and discrimina-          parties in Europe are spreading anti-Semitic, anti-       negative publicity led the prosecutor to drop the        cized for introducing integration measures that risk
tion may, therefore, be far more widespread than is       immigrant and anti-integration messages, blaming          case. Such restrictive migration laws and policies       being discriminatory and appear intended to control
recorded in official statistics.                          ethnic and religious minorities for the downturn.         not only criminalize migration but also run the risk     immigration. In 2009 the UK Borders, Citizenship
   Europeans were also asked how they thought             Blaming the Jewish community for the recession            of encouraging xenophobic attitudes towards both         and Immigration Act of 2009 introduced the con-
the recession would impact on funding for equality        or playing on sensitive issues such as immigra-           migrants and established minorities. Moreover, the       cept of ‘earned citizenship’, whereby migrants are
and diversity policies in their countries. The 2009       tion, Islam and ‘benefit-breeding’, the radical           criminalization of undocumented migrants means           encouraged to undertake voluntary service to reduce
Eurobarometer figures show that Europeans have            right made gains in the European Parliament and           that fewer individuals will be willing to bring com-     the time it takes to gain citizenship. It also created
few illusions about the impact of the crisis, with 49     won seats in Austria, Denmark, Greece, Hungary,           plaints against people-smuggling rings, or employers     a new category of ‘temporary leave to remain’, with
per cent of Europeans believing that, because of it,      Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Romania and the         who take advantage of the undocumented.                  restricted access to public services and benefits.
policies promoting equality and diversity will be         UK. A new Eurosceptic group was formed in the                Nevertheless, a harsh tone was maintained at the      The Act was criticized, among other things, for not
considered less important and receive less funding.       European Parliament, the Europe of Freedom and            EU level as well. EU member states have for the          addressing the detention of asylum-seeking children.
Furthermore, more than half of Europeans think            Democracy group, under the leadership of the              first time asked for the creation of joint flights to       In October 2009, Jorge Bustamante, the UN
that a possible increase in the levels of discrimina-     UK Independence Party (UKIP). A number of                 deport irregular migrants, financed by Frontex, the      Special Rapporteur on the human rights of
tion in the labour market on the grounds of ethnic        the group’s parties are described by national and         European agency in charge of the EU’s borders.           migrants, urged states to take a ‘serious and in-
origin will follow, while more than 40 per cent state     European media as far-right, anti-immigration,            And an EU Directive was adopted during 2009 that         depth approach’ to tackle racism, xenophobia and
that the crisis will contribute to increased levels of    xenophobic and, in some cases, racist.                    penalizes employers of undocumented migrants, fur-       related forms of intolerance, which, he noted,
discrimination in the labour market on the grounds           Anti-migrant messages, such as comments made           ther risking the exploitation of migrants already in     persist and impact seriously on the lives of millions
of gender (43 per cent) and religion or belief (42        by the far-right British National Party (BNP) leader      a vulnerable position. The Stockholm Programme           of migrants every day. Hate crimes against ethnic
per cent).                                                Nick Griffin soon after he entered the European           (adopted under the Swedish Presidency of the EU          and religious minorities and migrants continue
   In response, the Council of Europe (CoE)               Parliament in 2009, found their parallels in reality.     in December 2009) outlines the EU’s vision in the        to be a serious problem throughout Europe. The
Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas                     In May 2009, Italy forcibly returned more than 200        area of freedom, security and justice for the period     Organisation for Security and Co-operation in
Hammarberg, called on states to ensure better pro-        migrants to Libya, without screening them to dis-         2010–14 and covers topics such as migration, asy-        Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions

152                                            Europe                           State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                          Europe                                            153
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and Human Rights (ODIHR) launched a report on              tutional racism. In Austria, Amnesty International      motivation has been recognized as an aggravating         ment concerning strengthened fundamental rights
the occasion of International Tolerance Day, draw-         (AI) accused the police and criminal justice system     circumstance in criminal cases since 2004). Once         protection lies in the accession of the EU to the
ing attention to the numerous instances of intimida-       of being guilty of racial profiling, in particular      transposed into national laws and implemented, the       European Convention for the Protection of Human
tion, threats, vandalism, assault, arson and murder        that there is a widespread assumption that persons      Framework Decision may remedy inconsistencies in         Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), as
committed against minorities in Europe. The CoE            belonging to ethnic minorities are perpetrators rath-   EU member states’ criminal law provisions on rac-        provided for in the Lisbon Treaty. Accession to the
Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)           er than victims of crime. In Malmö, Sweden, over        ism and xenophobia.                                      ECHR means that, while upholding EU law, the
issued a series of country reports examining racism        100 demonstrators marched in protest against police        The draft directive prohibiting discrimination on     ECJ would be able to apply the ECHR directly.
and intolerance. Noting positive developments in           racism in March 2009.                                   the grounds of religion or belief, age, disability and   Moreover, the EU and its institutions can be made
Bulgaria in terms of a strengthened institutional             Hate speech is spreading on the streets of Europe    sexual orientation outside the employment sphere         accountable to the European Court of Human
framework against racism and discrimination, ECRI          and on the internet. In television adverts, the Czech   was presented by the European Commission in              Rights (ECtHR) on rights and obligations arising
warned that the situation of Roma and asylum-              National Party campaigned with the slogan, ‘Final       2008 and was being debated by member states dur-         under the Convention.
seekers remained worrying, and that the response of        solution of the Gypsy question’, evoking the rheto-     ing 2009. In April 2009, the European Parliament            The new Treaty and the Charter are significant
the justice system to allegations of racist or discrimi-   ric of the Third Reich. Also in the Czech Republic,     backed the proposal and called for multiple dis-         from a minority rights standpoint. They establish
natory behaviour should be improved. Problems              neo-Nazis invited David Duke, former leader of the      crimination to be introduced into the text. This is      that the rights of persons belonging to minorities
with the implementation of existing legislation            Ku Klux Klan in the United States, to give lectures     not likely to happen, as many member states still        should be respected and that the EU should respect
prohibiting discrimination against migrants and            in Prague and Brno. He was arrested on his arrival      face problems with the transposition of the direc-       cultural, religious and linguistic diversity. Article 21
asylum-seekers, as well as racist or xenophobic over-      in the country in April 2009 on charges of denying      tives adopted in 2000: the Race Equality Directive       of the Charter widens the list of prohibited grounds
tones in political discourse, were noted in Belgium,       the Holocaust, a crime punishable by up to three        and the Employment Equality Directive. As the            of discrimination, which now include, ‘sex, race,
Germany, Hungary, Norway and Slovakia.                     years’ imprisonment in the Czech Republic.              European Commission launched infringement                colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features,
   Protection of national minorities’ languages in             In its 2009 country report on Belgium, ECRI         proceedings against governments for their failure to     language, religion or belief, political or any other
Slovakia came under international scrutiny after           noted with concern the persistence of racist, anti-     take the necessary steps, the Czech Republic could       opinion, membership of a national minority, prop-
the Slovak government introduced amendments                Semitic, Islamophobic and xenophobic discourse          have been subjected to high EU fines since it passed     erty, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation’. The
to the Law on the State Language that was due to           on the internet. The Chair of the Danish Nazi           the Anti-Discrimination Act only in 2009.                enforceable nature of the rights contained in the
come into effect on 1 September 2009. The propos-          organization, the National Socialist Movement              Following the ruling of the European Court            Charter means that individuals and NGOs will be
als established fines of up to 5,000 euros for using       in Denmark (DNSB), uses Facebook, the online            of Justice (ECJ) in the Belgian case Centrum voor        able to hold European institutions accountable for
minority languages in public services if the minority      social networking website, to recruit members to his    Gelijkheid van Kansen en voor Racismebestrijding v.      breaches. There are EU member states which have
in question forms less than 20 per cent of the local       organization. ‘Some of the newest technologies are      Firma Feryn in 2008 – in which the ECJ established       yet to ratify the CoE’s Framework Convention for
population. The amendments stirred up tensions             being used to peddle some of the oldest fears,’ said    that a firm that had publicly stated that it would       the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM),
between the Slovak and Hungarian governments,              UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in June 2009,          not recruit employees of a certain ethnic origin was     namely Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg and France
and tens of thousands of the half million ethnic           stating that everyone has a role to play in eliminat-   in breach of the principle of equal treatment in the     (which has not signed); in these countries, the pro-
Hungarians living in Slovakia gathered to protest.         ing cyber-hate.                                         labour market – the Labour Court of Brussels issued      visions of the Charter can help to ensure more effec-
Knut Vollebaek, the OSCE High Commissioner                    Racist violence, whether it is physical violence,    a judgment in August 2009 reiterating the same           tive minority rights policy and practice. The same
on National Minorities, mediated between the               vandalism or damage to property, is an every-           principle. The Labour Court ordered the abolition        holds true for Turkey, via its EU accession process.
Hungarian and Slovakian governments to ensure              day reality for Europe’s ethnic, religious and          of Feryn’s discriminatory recruitment criteria and       However, with regard to Poland and the UK, which
that, while the Slovak government takes steps to           linguistic minorities. The November 2008 EU             the publication of the judgment in four widely pub-      insisted on opt-out clauses, the Charter will not cre-
preserve the state language, the linguistic rights of      Framework Decision on Combating Certain Forms           lished Belgian newspapers.                               ate any justiciable rights.
national minorities are also respected. Vollebaek          and Expressions of Racism and Xenophobia by                New approaches for the protection of human
issued a statement after the adoption of the law’s         Means of Criminal Law requires governments              rights in Europe were established by the entry           Roma
implementation principles on 4 January 2010, stat-         to challenge and counter racist crimes through          into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December         In the absence of precise data, the European Roma
ing that he will closely monitor the implementation        an effective transposition and implementation of        2009 and by the appointment of a new EU                  community is widely estimated to comprise more
of the law.                                                the Framework Decision into national law. The           Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and         than 10 million people and constitutes the big-
   Institutional racism remains a major concern.           Framework Decision encourages EU member states          Citizenship. The Lisbon Treaty establishes a core        gest single minority group in the EU. The Roma
In the UK, 10 years after the Stephen Lawrence             to amend their criminal legislation to punish the       set of values of dignity, equality, tolerance, justice   community is composed of several groups and sub-
inquiry that established evidence of institutional         act of assistance in racist or xenophobic activities,   and solidarity, which were not explicitly mentioned      groups distinguished by language, ethno-cultural
racism in the police, an independent review by the         and to consider racist or xenophobic motivation as      in previous treaties and which the European insti-       identity, religion, way of life, history of migration
Runnymede Trust, a London-based race equal-                an aggravating factor in the determination of penal-    tutions have to take into account when formulat-         and legal status. These differences impact strongly
ity think-tank, concluded that institutional racism        ties by the courts. Some countries, like Finland for    ing policies and legislation. The Lisbon Treaty          on their standing and opportunities in the wider
within the police still persists. In Northern Ireland,     example, have started to compile data and statis-       introduces the European Charter of Fundamental           society, but most Roma suffer from the same deep-
the family of an Asian man who was killed five years       tics on hate crimes, which are not recognized as a      Rights into EU primary law as a legally binding          rooted discrimination and segregation in the fields
ago accused the Public Prosecutors Service of insti-       separate category in Finnish law (although racist       body of rights and values. A further substantial ele-    of education, employment, health care and housing,

154                                             Europe                          State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                          Europe                                              155
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                                                              The Swiss case is not a rare or isolated exam-
                                                           ple of rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in
                                                           Europe. In May 2009, ultra right-wing groups
      religious                                            held an ‘anti-Islam’ rally to oppose the building of
                                                           a large new mosque in Cologne, Germany. This

      intolerance in                                       was countered by a peaceful demonstration by
                                                           church groups, the Green Party, trade unions and

      Europe                                               anti-racism organizations. After the authorities
                                                           in Denmark’s capital city Copenhagen approved
                                                           the country’s first purpose-built mosque, the
                                                           extreme-right Danish People’s Party launched an
      In the second half of 2009, the Swiss country        anti-mosque campaign in September 2009. Full-
      town of Langenthal became the focus of interna-      page advertisements claiming that the new mosque
      tional attention following a campaign, backed by     would be funded by the ‘terror regime in Iran’
      the ultra-conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP),   were published in several daily papers.
      to ban all minarets from mosques in Switzerland.        In Athens, Greece, the only capital city in
      On the grounds that minarets symbolize ‘Islamic      Europe without a licensed mosque or cemetery
      power’ and thus represent ideological opposition     to serve its Muslim population, a shop used as a
      to the country’s Constitution, members of two        Muslim prayer centre was attacked with firebombs
      parties initiated a national referendum asking the   in May 2009. Five persons were injured. The
      Swiss electorate whether they wished to add the      attack came a day after the police clashed with
      sentence, ‘The construction of minarets is forbid-   more than 1,000 Muslim demonstrators, protest-
      den’, to Article 72 of the country’s Constitution.   ing that a police officer had reportedly desecrated
      The referendum was held on 29 November 2009;         a copy of the Qur’an during an identity check.
      57 per cent of those participating backed the           A mosque in France was set on fire in the
      ban, although it may be overturned by the Swiss      Rhone region in December 2009, only two weeks
      Supreme Court or the ECtHR. The ban may be           after the desecration of Muslim graves in the
      put to the test by a mosque construction project     military cemetery of Arras. According to a recent
      that is already pending in Langenthal.               survey conducted in France, the Swiss ban has
         The vote has been condemned by human              contributed to rising tensions concerning Islam in
      rights groups, including Minority Rights Group       the country, where 41 per cent of interviewees are
      International (MRG), warning that the ban vio-       opposed to the construction of Muslim places of
      lates both the right of Muslims in Switzerland       worship as opposed to 22 per cent in 2001.
      to manifest their religion and the prohibition          In Belgium, a 2009 survey undertaken by the
      of discrimination on the grounds of religious        Instituut voor Sociaal en Politiek Opinieonderzoek
      belief, as set out in international human rights     (Ispo) at the Leuven Catholic University
      instruments. The UN High Commissioner for            (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) showed similarly
      Human Rights, Navi Pillay, spoke out against         negative perceptions, with nearly one Flemish per-
      the Swiss minarets ban in December 2009.             son in two having a negative opinion of Muslims
      Already, in October 2009, the UN Human               and Islam: 48 per cent of Flemish people believe
      Rights Committee expressed concerns about both       the values of Islam are a threat to Europe and 37
      the referendum initiative and the discriminatory     per cent believe that most Muslims do not respect      and Islam should be viewed in light of a recently    Above: A controversial poster in a Zurich train
      advertising campaign which accompanied it,           European culture and way of life.                      published Gallup study on the level of integration   station calls for a ban on minarets in Switzerland.
      depicting a burqa-clad woman against a back-            These survey results and the apparent nega-         and exclusion of Muslim communities in France,       The poster was brought out by a right-wing political
      ground of threatening, missile-like minarets.        tive public opinion against Muslim minorities          Germany and the UK. France has the largest           party. Mark Henley/Panos.

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Muslim population in Europe – approximately 5              France, Sweden and the UK during 2009. In                 education, and access to goods and services, includ-     in all schools of the region. On behalf of the girls,
million people (most of whom hold French nation-           France, two firebombs, intended for a synagogue in        ing housing. The main political issues surrounding       a Belgian feminist group (Baas Over Eigen Hoofd
ality). The study shows that, like the just over 2 mil-    an ethnically mixed north Paris neighbourhood, hit        the proposal are, on the one hand, whether the EU        – BOEH, Boss of my own head) filed a case against
lion Muslims in the UK and approximately 3 mil-            the façade and shattered the windows of a nearby          enjoys the necessary legal competence to legislate       the decision with the Council of State, the highest
lion Muslims in Germany, French Muslims identify           kosher restaurant on 2 January 2009.                      in these areas – some governments, like that of          administrative court in Belgium in September 2009.
with their country and support its values and                 In a report published in September 2009, the           Germany for example, question the EU’s powers            Media reported that the Moroccan community was
institutions. It also found that patriotism is shared      ADL examined a rise in anti-Semitic criticism in          to legislate on topics such as education, health care    now planning to fund its own schools. Mohamad
across religious lines, as the majority of respondents     Spain following Israel’s three-week military opera-       and social protection in the framework of the new        Chakkar, president of the Federation of Moroccan
see no contradiction between religious practice and        tion in Gaza, including the publication of anti-          proposal. On the other hand, there is the balance        Associations, said, ‘Research has shown that the
identification with their respective countries and         Semitic cartoons and articles in mainstream media.        to be found between the interests of individuals, as     education gap between immigrant and non-immi-
their institutions.                                           A survey conducted in Austria, France, Germany,        members of a faith community, to have their right        grants students in Flanders is the widest in Europe.’
   Nonetheless, a new report examining discrimina-         Hungary, Poland, Spain and the UK by the ADL              to manifest their religion or their right to education   He also expressed dismay over the speed with which
tion against Muslims in the EU, conducted by the           also points to the alarming trend of blaming Jews         be respected, and a possible general public interest,    the ban had been decided.
EU’s FRA, confirms persistent Islamophobia across          in the financial industry for the current global eco-     or the rights and interests of others.                      Meanwhile, international organizations and
Europe. According to the report, 1 in 3 Muslim             nomic crisis. Nearly one-third of respondents blame          Human rights NGOs, such as the European               NGOs are supporting communities in their efforts
respondents were discriminated against and 11 per          Jews in the banking sector for the current economic       Network Against Racism (ENAR), which advocates           to build tolerance, including human rights educa-
cent were victims of racially motivated ‘in-person         crisis. A similar proportion believe that Jews have       for the rights of religious minorities, argue that on    tion and other initiatives aimed at changing dis-
crime’ (assault, threat or serious harassment) at least    ‘too much power’ in business and finance and are          the question of balancing religion or belief in the      criminatory and exclusionary attitudes. The OSCE
once in the previous 12 months. The highest levels         not loyal to their country.                               public sphere and access to education on the grounds     created a website called ‘The Tolerance and Non-
of discrimination occurred in employment and in               In the meantime, the debate on allowing the            of religion or belief, the discretion of the member      Discrimination Information System’, which pro-
private services. Discrimination, harassment and           wearing of religious symbols in public areas and on       state must be exercised with full respect for all fun-   vides a rich source of information on issues relating
racist crime remain grossly under-reported, mainly         reconciling freedom of thought, conscience, reli-         damental human rights and cannot lead to the denial      to religious and other forms of intolerance, includ-
because of lack of confidence that the police would        gion or belief with other fundamental rights such as      of the right to education. In this regard, the ECHR      ing legislative initiatives, international standards and
be able to do anything.                                    freedom of expression, freedom of association and         and the case law of the ECtHR provide guidance,          detailed country information.
   FRA Director Morten Kjaerum also highlighted            peaceful assembly, respect for private and family life,   setting out that everyone has the right to freedom of
the growing number of anti-Semitic incidents in a          the prohibition of discrimination or the right to edu-    thought, conscience and religion or belief in teach-     The rise of the far right
report that revealed new data on incidents against         cation continues in legislatures and in courtrooms.       ing, worship, practice and observance. Restrictions      Right-wing radicalism and the spread of xenophobic
the Jewish community in Europe. He stated that:            In November 2009, the ECtHR ruled against the             on the wearing of religious clothing and symbols         and extremist attitudes towards ethnic, religious
                                                           display of crucifixes in Italian classrooms, on the       should reflect a general approach which is neutral       and linguistic minorities is an issue confronting the
‘The Agency’s research shows that during 2007 and          grounds that it violated the child’s right to freedom     and impartial between all forms of religion or belief,   whole of Europe. Contemporary forms of extreme
most of 2008, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in      of religion and the right of parents to educate their     and is compatible with the principles of respect and     right-wing ideologies have gained momentum as
the EU declined, but that it has been on the rise again    children in line with their convictions. The Court        the need to foster tolerance and pluralism.              part of a backlash against the rapid changes induced
since December of 2008 … this rise could partly be         concluded that there had been a violation of the right       The continuing debate on the question of the          by globalization and other cultural and social shifts
affected by the situation in the Middle East, as well as   to education as contained in Article 2 of Protocol No.    place of religion in public life demonstrates the        in post-war Europe. Pursuing strategies playing on
by the global financial crisis.’                           1 to the ECHR, and a breach of freedom of convic-         sensitivity around the issue in an increasingly mul-     (and encouraging) growing anxieties in an increas-
                                                           tion and religion as also protected by the ECHR. The      ticultural Europe. Education systems and schools         ingly pluralistic Europe, political parties and move-
Concerns that Israel’s invasion of the Gaza strip in       Court’s decision sparked anger in the largely Catholic    are directly concerned with the issue and there is       ments have emerged that are propagating racism and
December 2008 would spark anti-Semitic violence            country and it has since been appealed.                   no unanimity, not only over the presence and wear-       intolerance against the ‘other’. These movements
against Jews in a number of European cities, as well          Striking a fair balance between different rights in    ing of religious symbols in schools but also over        have proved adept at hiding behind advocacy of free
as other public expressions of anti-Jewish attitudes,      a multicultural context is a challenge also faced by      the status to be given to teaching about religions,      speech and selling claims that supposedly homoge-
were expressed by human rights groups. These fears         the EU as the proposal for a new anti-discrimina-         particularly minority religions, such as Islam or        neous majority cultures are in need of protection.
were confirmed by a series of violent attacks in a         tion directive is debated. The new directive seeks to     Judaism. In Antwerp, in the Flemish region of               A study undertaken by the private, non-profit
number of countries in the aftermath of the inva-          outlaw discrimination on the grounds of religion or       Belgium, 60 Muslim girls dropped out of school           organization, Bertelsmann Stiftung, on the radi-
sion: physical assaults on Jews and attacks on syna-       belief, disability, age and sexual orientation in the     after the decision by a school to introduce a ban on     cal right in Europe argues that the face of today’s
gogues have been reported in Belgium, Denmark,             fields of health care, social protection and benefits,    headscarves that rapidly led to a general blanket ban    far-right is changing. Instead of an old-fashioned

158                                              Europe                          State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                          Europe                                              159
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Special report

‘classical’ biological racism, the new ‘populist’ right     seats of the socialist Progressive Alliance of Socialists   same time, the Italian radical right-wing Northern      in 2001, said that far-right militants are becoming
embraces an ideology comprising ethnocentrist               and Democrats), the new European Parliament is              League achieved a major victory in the wealthiest       more sophisticated and, unless politicians challenge
nationalism with an element of religion-based exclu-        much more fragmented, with new anti-EU groups,              parts of the country, such as the Veneto and north-     their message head on, a repeat of those incidents
sionism. Aiming to establish themselves in main-            such as the European Conservatives and Reformists           ern Lombardy. The Northern League promotes a            could be provoked. Groups like the anti-Islamist
stream political arenas at the national and European        Group and the hard-right Europe of Freedom and              hard-line and xenophobic immigration policy. In         English Defence League and the Aryan Martyrs’
levels, ultra right-wing populist parties justify their     Democracy group, made up of anti-immigration                this political climate, it is not surprising that the   Brigade made headlines when issuing threats,
anti-immigration, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic             and xenophobic parties, such as the Italian Lega            Italian parliament has passed the toughest immigra-     including a death warrant sent by the latter to the
rhetoric not by arguing openly for the superiority          Nord (Northern League), the Danish People’s                 tion law in Europe and also discussed introducing a     secretary of Unite Against Fascism, ‘for crimes
of the white race but by stoking fears that ethnic          Party, the True Finns Party, the Mouvement pour             ban on the burqa. A bill was introduced in October      against all loyal white patriots and British national-
minorities, immigrants, Muslims, homosexuals and            la France and UKIP. In October 2009, Hungary’s              2009 but not debated by the parliament before the       ists’. Politicians too have expressed concerns after
others are a threat to the integrity of the national        Jobbik and the BNP cobbled together a further               end of 2009.                                            the Stop Islamization of Europe group confronted
community and will destroy the achievements of              ultra-right pan-European grouping, called the                  Far-right parties in other parts of Europe also      around 1,000 opponents outside a mosque in north
modern societies. The economic crisis has boosted           Alliance of European Nationalist Movements –                have parliamentary ambitions. According to a new        London. The Communities Secretary said that
the popularity of populist nationalist organizations        including France’s Front National, Italy’s Fiamma           opinion poll, an increasing number of Swedes            extremists are using tactics that echo those of the
that feed the resentment towards minorities, blaming        Tricolore, Sweden’s National Democrats and                  would help the xenophobic Sweden Democrats to           1930s British fascists.
them for economic and social problems reinforced by         Belgium’s Walloon extremists, also called the Front         win their first-ever seat in the Swedish parliament,       In a move to increase pressure on right-wing radi-
the recession. Openly racist and militant right-wing        National – but failed to get public funding.                the Riksdag.                                            calism, the German Interior Minister banned a far-
extremists are still present, of course. But the shift in      The gains made by right-wing populists in the               Hungary’s radical nationalist party, Jobbik          right youth organization, the Heimattreue Deutsche
argument and style from the classical racist discourse      European Parliament signal a dangerous develop-             (Jobbik Magyarorszagert Mozgalom – Movement             Jugend (Patriotic German Youth), for disseminating
proved successful in the 2009 European elections,           ment. By adapting their rhetoric to bypass national         for a Better Hungary) has already gained suffi-         its Nazi propaganda to young people. The organi-
which indicated substantial support for far-right           bans on ultra-right views (and the Charter of               cient support to cross the 5 per cent threshold for     zation was said to have close links to the National
populist parties in many EU member states.                  European Parties for a Non-Racist Society, signed           representation in parliament. Jobbik blames Jews        Democratic Party (NDP), Germany’s main far-right
   Despite declines in some member states, such as          by the European Parliament in 2001), they have              and Roma for the social and economic problems           nationalist party, which also supports the annual
Belgium, France and Poland, far-right parties gained        gained considerable support in many countries.              facing Hungary post-transition and post-EU acces-       neo-Nazi ‘mourning march’ on 14 February in
European Parliament seats in a number of coun-              Footholds in the European Parliament and at the             sion. It has also coined the term ‘Gypsy crime’ to      Dresden. On this day, right-wing extremists from
tries. In Austria, the Freedom Party (FPO) won two          national parliamentary level allow these populist           denote certain types of crime supposedly committed      all over Europe gather to commemorate the fire-
seats, the Dutch anti-Islam and anti-immigration            right-wing parties to shift formerly far-right ideas        exclusively by Roma. More worrying was Jobbik’s         bombing of the city by the Allied forces during
Freedom Party of Geert Wilders (PVV) sent four rep-         (on immigration, for example) into the main-                cooperation agreement with TMRSZ, a police trade        the Second World War. The organization United
resentatives to the European Parliament, and Italy’s        stream. In Austria and the Czech Republic, racism           union, although this has since attracted criticism      Against Racism and the local platform Geh Denken
Northern League has more than doubled its represen-         watchdogs and political analysts have pointed to            from, among others, the Hungarian prosecutors’          called for international support to end acceptance
tation from four to nine members of the European            an increase in crime related to extremism, which            office. The authorities have also attempted to crack    of this annual neo-Nazi demonstration; 10,000 sup-
Parliament. Two other right-wing parties (the               they believe is connected to the growing number             down on the banned Hungarian Guard (Magyar              porters protested against the march.
Alleanza Nationale, formerly led by Gianfranco Fini,        of supporters of far-right movements. They warn             Garda), a pool of volunteer militia created by Jobbik      While anti-immigrant, xenophobic and nation-
and Alessandra Mussolini’s Social Action) merged            that mainstream political parties must change their         which draws on Nazi-style symbols. Nevertheless,        alist extreme right parties and movements are
with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People      approach. Sonya Ferker from the ZARA anti-racism            approximately 15 per cent of Hungarians voted           establishing themselves in Europe, minorities are
of Freedom Party and are now represented in the big-        organization in Austria, warned that political debate       for Jobbik in the European Parliament elections in      still under-represented in politics, government and
gest European-level centre-right party, the European        on immigration, ‘is entrenching polarization and            2009, and a survey last year concerning attitudes       public life. In the last weeks of 2009, an ongoing
People’s Party (EPP). With no seats in the previous         producing an “us and them” view on immigration’.            towards extremist movements showed 10 per cent          discussion in Bulgaria on broadcasting Turkish news
European Parliament, the BNP and the Hungarian                 Illustrative of the efforts of far-right parties to      public support for the Hungarian Guard.                 on the state television channel led Prime Minister
far-right Jobbik made significant breakthroughs             move into the mainstream is the merger in Italy in             The announcement by Jobbik that it was setting       Boyko Borisov, the leader of the centre-right party
winning two and three seats respectively. Denmark,          2009 of the National Alliance (Alleanza Nationale)          up a London branch, the British Jobbik Society,         GERB, to announce the party’s support for a
Greece, Romania and Slovakia also sent far-right rep-       and Social Action with Prime Minister Silvio                in order to strengthen links with the BNP, stoked       national referendum on the issue. The suggestion
resentatives to the European Parliament.                    Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party. On 7 June             fears about the reach of the far right into the UK.     was initiated by the nationalist party ATAKA (The
   In addition to a centre-right majority (the centre-      2009, when (as in most countries) the European,             An expert on community relations, who led the gov-      Attack). There are approximately 800,000 Turks in
right EPP won 264 seats as opposed to the 184               council and provincial elections were held at the           ernment review into the country’s worst race riots      Bulgaria, and state television has been broadcasting

160                                              Europe                            State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                         Europe                                            161
                                                                                     and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                       and access to goods and services. They face growing     Roma EU citizens who exercise their right to free         formally inaugurated in April 2009. The Platform
                                                       anti-Roma attitudes across Europe.                      movement and settle in another EU member state            held its second meeting, dedicated to education, in
                                                          The different legal statuses of Roma minority        in search of better living conditions continue to         September 2009. The EU Roma Policy Coalition,
10 minutes’ news in Turkish every evening since        groups add to their ambiguous place in the broader      experience racism, discrimination and exclusion.          which was set up by human rights NGOs to advo-
the 1990s.                                             national communities, as it differs both within and     Barriers remain to their enjoyment of key civil,          cate for Roma rights and inclusion at the EU level,
   At the end of 2009, the Constitutional Court        between countries. Depending on the period of           political, economic and social rights, including the      was highly critical of the mandate and structure of
in Turkey banned the pro-Kurdish Democratic            migration of the groups, and on the level of official   right to vote in local and European elections, and        the Platform, expressing concern over the lack of
Society Party (DTP) and 37 of its members              recognition of them as a national or ethnic minor-      access to social protection, health care and public       key targets and a coherent structure for the process
from politics for five years. In its decision, the     ity, some long-established communities are citizens     housing. For example, the Finnish capital Helsinki        itself, which would be necessary to achieve a strate-
Court’s eleven members agreed unanimously              of the country where they live and are entitled to      refused to offer housing or health services to Roma       gic EU approach to Roma issues.
that the DTP had links to terrorist activities.        rights granted to recognized minorities. However,       from Romania, stating that social problems should            The 2008 Roma Summit clearly identified the
Many national and international human rights           in others, such as Denmark, Roma are not recog-         have been solved in their home country.                   EU member states and their governments as the
organizations and regional institutions, such as       nized as a minority group. Newly arrived groups are        In Italy, 11 months after the government adopted       main actors responsible for improving the situation
CoE and the EU, criticized the decision, as the        sometimes considered refugees or asylum-seekers, or     its ‘declaration of the state of emergency with regard    of Roma in the EU. It remains to be seen whether
party had not only been a channel for Kurdish          even illegal immigrants. A large number of Roma         to settlements of nomad communities’ in 2008,             the Spanish Presidency of the EU will be able to
voices but also promoted gender equality and           are nationals of the countries that joined the EU       the authorities engaged in coercive documenta-            achieve real progress upon the occasion of the
constitutional rights. Besides, the decision could     in 2004 and 2007, and, as such, are entitled to the     tion of Roma and Sinti in numerous camps, taking          Second EU Roma Summit, which will be held on 8
run the risk of harming the peace process in           right of free movement, but, due to restrictions that   photographs of them and fingerprinting them, and          April 2010, International Roma Day. While
Turkey as it coincided with a new ‘Kurdish             some countries, such as the UK, introduced for          using the information gathered to deport those who        social policy belongs to the exclusive competence
Initiative Programme’.                                 Romanian and Bulgarian nationals, lack full resi-       could not prove their right to live in Italy. Human       of the EU member states, and thus does not
   In Italy, the first black mayor in the country      dence and employment rights.                            rights groups urged the European Commission to            fall within the scope of EU harmonization, key
is a member of the anti-immigration Northern              Being a minority everywhere and widely dispersed     start infringement proceedings addressing Italy’s         international organizations and NGOs are keen to
League party. Sandy Cane, an Italian-American          across Europe and beyond it, but lacking a kin state,   violation of the fundamental rights of Roma and           see the EU assume a stronger role in promoting
became the mayor of Viggiu, a town of 5,000            the Roma population occupies a peculiar position,       Sinti enshrined in the EU Race Equality Directive         Roma participation and consultation in decision-
near Milan. The UK’s Independent newspaper             characterized by political and social marginaliza-      and the EU Data Protection Directive. By the time         making processes.
quoted Cane, who voted for US President                tion. The Roma are not recognized as a national or      of writing, no official response had been received           Referring to the FCNM as representing ‘an
Barack Obama in the United States and sees             ethnic minority in many countries and are thus at a     to the letter sent to European Commissioner for           emerging international consensus’ on protecting
no contradiction in a black woman running for          disadvantage compared to other historical national      Justice, Freedom and Security Jacques Barrot and          minorities, the ECtHR reinforced the principle of
an anti-immigrant party, saying, ‘To tolerate          minorities, whose minority rights are protected by      European Commissioner for Employment, Social              non-discrimination in its decision in the case of
illegal immigration above all harms those who          domestic legislation as well as international trea-     Affairs and Equal Opportunity Vladimir Spidla.            Munoz Diaz vs. Spain. The case involved a woman
enter our country with the desire to work and          ties and conventions. The lack of authorized legal         The FRA report identified a tendency towards,          of Roma origin whose marriage was not
integrate themselves and to have a normal life.’       status is a fundamental issue, as it strongly impacts   ‘a more general “Roma response” covering Roma             recognized by the Spanish authorities as it had
Italian human rights activists just nodded in          on possibilities to participate in public and politi-   nationals, Roma citizens of other EU countries and        been held according to Roma rites. The court
resignation as this statement was in line with so      cal life as well as accessing social and economic       Roma third country nationals’. Such a policy, which       underscored that, ‘cultural diversity is of value to
much else that is xenophobic. There were media         rights. Acknowledging the importance of this issue,     categorizes all Roma together regardless of their legal   the whole community’.
reports in January 2009 that the kebab had             the European Parliament, in its 2005 Resolution         status, risks undermining their citizenship rights,          ‘Neglect is not an option’, said the OSCE
become the new target of a Northern League             on the Situation of the Roma in the European            infringing their enjoyment of human rights, and           Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues at a United
campaign against ‘ethnic food’ in northern             Union, called on EU institutions, member states         putting Roma communities in a vulnerable posi-            States Helsinki Commission meeting in June 2009,
Italy. The drive to make Italians eat Italian          and candidate countries to consider recognizing         tion. The FRA report recommends that the EU and           warning that if governments do not take urgent
actually led to a ban on the opening of any new        the Roma as a European minority. In 2009, the           its member states adopt targeted policies based on        steps, tensions between majority populations and
kebab and ethnic food outlets. The campaign            CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas                ‘integrated rights- and equality-based standards pro-     Roma communities will increase, with the risk of
was labelled ‘gastronomic racism’ by the opposi-       Hammarberg also called on states to ‘employ all         moting social cohesion and delivering the promise         further violence targeted at Sinti and Roma.
tion and by leading chefs. Media noted some            possible means to end the statelessness of Roma and     of civis Europaeus sum’.                                     Hammarberg also urged European governments
confusion over what actually counts as ‘ethnic’        provide them with a nationality’.                          Following the first European Roma Summit in            to adopt more effective and inclusive policies for the
cooking, given that Sicilian cuisine is influenced        The situation of Roma EU citizens migrating to       2008, the EU Council adopted a set of ‘Common             Roma, stating that ‘Anti-Gypsyism continues to be
by Arab cuisine. If it used French flavours, it        and settling in other EU member states was also         Basic Principles for Roma Integration’ in June            a major human rights problem in Europe.’
would presumably survive the Italian ‘culinary         a key theme addressed at an international confer-       2009, aiming at promoting the full inclusion of              In fact, 2009 was marked by a sickening spiral of
ethnic cleansing’. p                                   ence organized jointly by the FRA, the Council of       Roma, and making use of a policy-coordination             violence against Roma across Europe. The abuse of
                                                       Europe and the OSCE in November 2009. The               and best practice-sharing mechanism, the Integrated       six Roma boys, aged between 10 and 16 years, by
                                                       FRA presented a report which detailed how many          European Platform on Roma Inclusion, which was            police officers in the Slovakian town of Kosice on

162                                           Europe                        State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                           Europe                                            163
                                                                              and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
Below: Roma girls from Sajókaza. Sándor Naske.          performed to earn a living. He also referred to        and killings. Far-right groups have denied any links    thorized sites, near Wickford in Essex, have also lost
                                                        Roma as being, ‘a collectivist, almost tribal-level    to the attacks, but emphasize the need to fight         their latest battle against eviction.
21 March 2009, provoked an international outcry.        social group’. A group of Hungarian human rights       ‘Gypsy crime’. During 2009, the far-right Magyar           In Slovakia, a wall is being built between a Roma
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and AI           defenders (the Hungarian Helsinki Committee,           Garda (Hungarian Guard), set up by the anti-Roma        settlement and the rest of the village of Ostrovany
called on the government of Slovakia to ensure that     the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic       and nationalist Jobbik party, staged several public     with the agreement of the local authorities, who
an unbiased investigation is conducted and that the     Minorities, the Chance for Children Foundation,        events in towns and villages with large Roma com-       turned a deaf ear to the claims of the Roma inhabit-
perpetrators are brought to justice. The boys were      the Roma Civil Rights Foundation) and the ERRC         munities, who started to form self-defence groups.      ants of the village who say that the wall will turn
forced to hit and kiss each other and strip naked       denounced these statements as irreconcilable with      In the town of Sajobabony, local Roma clashed with      their settlement into a zoo.
while being filmed by the officers. It has also been    the prohibition of discrimination as defined by the    supporters of Jobbik and Magyar Garda after one            It hardly comes as a surprise that in the EU
alleged that the police set dogs loose on the boys      Constitution.                                          such event.                                             Minorities and Discrimination Survey conducted
and that two boys were bitten.                             In Hungary, anti-Roma sentiment and violence           Multiple grounds of discrimination confronted        by the FRA, the Roma reported the highest overall
   The Kosice incident is just one of a string of       escalated, taking eight lives and leaving dozens       by Roma women continue to be a cause of grave           levels of being discriminated against of the groups
attacks against the Roma community. The violence        injured in a period of 18 months, between January      concern. According to a letter sent to Hammarberg       surveyed. According to the report, 1 in 5 Roma
is reinforced by openly racist public discourse that    2008 and June 2009. In one of the attacks, a Roma      by a coalition of human rights organizations in         were victims of racially motivated personal crime
scapegoats Roma, not only by extremist right-wing       man and his 5-year-old son were shot dead as they      February 2009, forced sterilization continues in        (including assaults, threats and serious harassment)
parties and movements, but also sometimes by            were trying to escape from their house, which was      the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, with          and every second Roma respondent was discrimi-
mainstream politicians and public figures. On 2         set on fire by Molotov cocktails moments before.       cases reported as recently as last year. This was       nated against at least once during the 12-month
April 2009, Máté Szabó, Hungarian Parliamentary         After a Roma woman was shot dead and her daugh-        confirmed by the ECtHR, which ruled on 28 April         period surveyed.
Commissioner for Civil Rights, stated in an inter-      ter seriously injured at the beginning of August       2009 that Slovakia had violated the rights of eight
view with an online news portal that ‘criminality       2009, the police asserted that the incident was        Roma women by denying them full access to their         Cyprus
categorized on an ethnic basis’ – so-called ‘Gypsy      related to a series of attacks targeting the Roma;     medical records, which they had sought in order         The Constitution of Cyprus, which was drawn up
crime’ – exists, and identified it as a type of crime   four suspects were later charged with the assaults     to prove that they had been forcibly sterilized after   in 1960 after the country gained independence for
                                                                                                               giving birth.                                           the first time in its history, divided the Cypriot
                                                                                                                  The Czech government announced that it regret-       population into two communities and cemented
                                                                                                               ted the forced sterilization of Roma women in the       a rigorous bi-communalism between the Greek
                                                                                                               past. Rights activists are now hoping that Slovakia     and Turkish populations on the island. Greek and
                                                                                                               will follow suit. From the 1970s until 1990, the        Turkish were designated as official languages, but
                                                                                                               Czechoslovak government systematically sterilized       after the 1974 division of the country, bi-lingualism
                                                                                                               Roma women in order to reduce the birth rate of         in practice ended. Members of the Turkish Cypriot
                                                                                                               Roma. The Czech government decided that a series        community who stayed in the government-control-
                                                                                                               of measures would be undertaken by the end of           led area have not been able to exercise their language
                                                                                                               2009 to ensure that such violations do not occur        rights fully as provided in the Constitution. At
                                                                                                               in the future. In Hungary, the Ministry of Social       the time of independence, members of the island’s
                                                                                                               Affairs and Labour issued a statement promising         recognized three religious minorities, the Armenian
                                                                                                               financial compensation to a Roma woman for steri-       Orthodox, Maronite Catholics and Roman
                                                                                                               lization undertaken against her will.                   Catholics (Latin), had to opt to join one of the two
                                                                                                                  Substandard Roma and Traveller housing remains       communities for voting purposes and all three chose
                                                                                                               a major concern across Europe. According to a           to belong to the Greek Cypriot community.
                                                                                                               report issued by the FRA, the overall housing situ-        These three minority groups were designated
                                                                                                               ation of many Roma and Travellers in the EU             as national minorities under the FCNM, which
                                                                                                               is dire. Many live in barely habitable dwellings,       entered into force in 1998. In its third periodic
                                                                                                               without basic infrastructure and with poor access to    report on the application of the FCNM submitted
                                                                                                               mainstream institutions. Evictions and demolitions      in April 2009, Cyprus reflected on the Advisory
                                                                                                               of Roma settlements are common across the EU.           Committee’s opinion regarding the obligation
                                                                                                               In Burgas, a Bulgarian Black Sea town, 200 Roma         of affiliation to either the Greek or the Turkish
                                                                                                               families protested against the planned demolition       Cypriot community imposed on national minori-
                                                                                                               of their houses, built without planning permission.     ties. It stated that any changes would require con-
                                                                                                               They created a human chain surrounding their            stitutional amendment, which ‘would be politically
                                                                                                               houses but were finally left homeless. Gypsies and      incorrect, if not practically impossible’ in the sensi-
                                                                                                               Travellers living on one of the UK’s largest unau-      tive political climate of the country.

164                                           Europe                         State of the World’s Minorities   State of the World’s Minorities                         Europe                                            165
                                                                               and Indigenous Peoples 2010     and Indigenous Peoples 2010
Religious                                               in the Constitution as ‘Others’ – are denied the
                                                        right to stand for election to those bodies. This
                                                                                                                       The ruling is expected to have huge ramifica-
                                                                                                                    tions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and beyond. If
                                                                                                                                                                              include the wearing of religious symbols. Cases
                                                                                                                                                                              include Moscow Branch of the Salvation Army v.

minorities                                              includes national minorities who have lived in
                                                        Bosnia and Herzegovina for centuries. In the words
                                                                                                                    correctly implemented (and at the time of writing,
                                                                                                                    draft amendments to Bosnia’s Constitution and elec-
                                                                                                                                                                              Russia (Application No. 72881/01, judgment
                                                                                                                                                                              dated 5 October 2006) and Leyla Sahin v. Turkey

and the
                                                        of Jakob Finci, ‘We are simply deprived of the right        tion law were being considered by the Parliamentary       (Application No. 44774/98, judgment dated 10
                                                        to take part in elections, we are unable to exercise        Assembly, in order to bring these provisions in line      November 2005). However, there are certain
                                                        our … right, the right to be elected.’                      with the ECHR in time for elections in October            circumstances in which the state can place restrictions
European                                                   Further, although the case did not specifically
                                                        address this issue, it is not only minorities through-
                                                                                                                    2010), it will assist in breaking down ethnic and
                                                                                                                    religious divisions in the country, by encouraging
                                                                                                                                                                              on people who wish to wear such symbols.
                                                                                                                                                                                 Article 9 provides that such limits must be pre-

Court of                                                out Bosnia who are disenfranchised as a result of
                                                        these arrangements. The House of Peoples has
                                                                                                                    political participation and representation, and pro-
                                                                                                                    moting social cohesion. In addition, the decision
                                                                                                                                                                              scribed by law, necessary in a democratic society
                                                                                                                                                                              – to protect public interests, including the rights

Human Rights                                            15 members distributed equally among the three
                                                        ‘Constituent Peoples’: five Bosniaks (Bosniaks are
                                                        recognized as Muslims and the term is distinct
                                                                                                                    offers important protection for religious and ethnic
                                                                                                                    minorities who lack electoral rights in other ECHR
                                                                                                                    states, in providing a legally binding judgment that
                                                                                                                                                                              and freedoms of others – and proportionate. In the
                                                                                                                                                                              absence of a common approach to religious diversity
                                                                                                                                                                              in Europe, the ECtHR gives states a broad ‘margin
                                                        from ‘Bosnians’, which denotes citizens of Bosnia           can be relied upon against their own governments.         of appreciation’ in determining what restrictions
Lucy Claridge discusses ground-breaking legal           and Herzegovina irrespective of their ethnic origin/        The case is also highly significant on an international   are in the public interest. In other words, it gives
cases from 2009 and their implications for              religion), five Croats from the Federation of Bosnia        level, as it is the first time that the ECtHR has con-    governments a wide and perhaps dangerous discre-
religious minorities in Europe.                         and Herzegovina, and five Serbs from the Republika          sidered how Protocol 12 of the ECHR should be             tion to decide the relationship between the role of
                                                        Srpska. Serbs in the Federation of Bosnia and               applied to potentially discriminatory situations. As      the state and the role of religion, and also what is
                                                        Herzegovina (BiH) and Bosniaks and Croats in the            Jakob Finci recognizes, ‘The most important thing is      appropriate in each domestic context. In this way,
Discrimination against minorities and                   Republika Srpska are therefore also excluded from           that we can now ensure that all citizens … will enjoy     states can justify bans on wearing religious symbols
political participation                                 standing for office.                                        equal rights.’                                            in public, and still comply with Article 9 of the
In a ground-breaking recent case before the                Bypassing usual procedure, the case was referred                                                                   ECHR.
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), a               directly to the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR and              Minorities, religious freedom and the wearing of             In November 2009, the ECtHR issued a conten-
Bosnian Jew and an ethnic Roma successfully chal-       judgment was delivered on 22 December 2009.                 religious symbols                                         tious ruling, in which it declared that the display of
lenged discriminatory provisions within Bosnia’s        The Court found Bosnia and Herzegovina to be                Accommodating religious diversity within states is        crucifixes in Italian classrooms violated Article 9 of
Constitution and electoral laws which deny their        in breach of Protocol 12 of the ECHR, which                 an issue of much controversy within Europe and            the ECtHR and also Article 2 of Protocol No. 1,
right to public participation. The case is the first    provides for the right to equal treatment and non-          beyond. In fact, Europe has not reached agreement         which protects the right to education, on the grounds
time that the ECtHR has looked at how to apply          discrimination, in failing to allow its citizens who        on how states should reconcile freedom of thought,        that it is contrary to a parent’s right to ensure her
relatively recently enacted anti-discrimination pro-    are not ‘Constituent Peoples’ to stand for election         conscience, religion or belief with the rights to         child’s education and teaching in conformity with
visions of the European Convention on Human             to the presidency. The Court also found a violation         freedom of expression, freedom of association,            her religious and philosophical convictions (Lautsi v.
Rights (ECHR).                                          of Article 14 of the ECHR, which provides for               respect for private and family life, the prohibition      Italy, Application No. 30814/06; judgment dated 3
   Jakob Finci, a prominent Jew, and Dervo Sejdić,      freedom from discrimination, taken in conjunction           of discrimination and the right to education. It is       November 2009).
of Roma ethnicity, argued that the country’s            with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1, which protects            therefore not surprising that the extent to which            Soile Lautsi, a parent and citizen of both Finland
Constitution and election law are discriminatory        free elections to the legislature, as a result of the       governments can determine and indeed control the          and Italy, had claimed that Italy’s administrative
in preventing them from running for or being            ineligibility of ‘Others’ – including national and          wearing of religious symbols and clothing in public       law requiring the compulsory display of the crucifix
elected to the presidency or upper house of the         religious minorities – to stand for election to the         areas, for example a headscarf, turban or crucifix,       in every state school classroom violated the right of
parliament. In particular, the applicants argued        House of Peoples.                                           has been continuously tested and challenged both          parents to ensure their children’s education in con-
that this discrimination was based solely on the           Of particular importance is the judgment’s con-          in domestic courts and in the ECtHR. This issue           formity with their own religious and philosophical
grounds of their race/ethnicity and, in the case of     firmation that racial and religious discrimination can      has received most attention in the context of public      convictions.
Finci, his religion. MRG represented and advised        rarely, if ever, be justified. Referring to previous case   educational institutions, where there is a perceived         In reaching its decision, the Court held that
Finci throughout.                                       law, the Court stated that ‘racial discrimination is a      need to avoid schools becoming places of religious        the right to education under Article 2 of Protocol
   Bosnia’s Constitution and electoral law state that   particularly egregious kind of discrimination’, which       indoctrination rather than of education, as discussed     1 is aimed at safeguarding pluralism and social
only members of the ‘Constituent Peoples’ – ethnic      ‘requires … special vigilance and a vigorous reaction’      in two key cases below.                                   inclusion in a state’s educational system. The
Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks – are eligible to stand      and which is not ‘capable of being objectively justi-          According to Article 9 of the ECHR, everyone           right also protects respect for the religious and
for election to the three-member presidency of the      fied in a contemporary democratic society built on          has the right to manifest their religion or belief in     philosophical convictions of parents. The state
House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly.         the principles of pluralism and respect for different       teaching, worship, practice and observance. This          must therefore avoid, even indirectly, imposing
Those who are not ‘Constituent Peoples’ – defined       cultures’.                                                  has generally been interpreted by the ECtHR to            beliefs on children. The presence of the crucifix

166                                          Europe                            State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                           Europe                                             167
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
could easily be interpreted by pupils of all                   A long-standing country of emigration, Cyprus          backed up by any statistical evidence regarding a sup-      of employment and education, including efforts to
ages as a religious sign, and they would feel               has experienced a rapid transformation into a host        posed growth of criminal activity among migrants.           promote and foster the linguistic abilities of chil-
that they were being educated in a school                   country for immigrants. This is due to a number                                                                       dren. However, ECRI also expressed concerns over
environment bearing the stamp of a given                    of factors, including the easing of restrictions on       Germany                                                     some aspects of the AGG, in particular regarding
religion. It concluded that, where the state has            crossing the Green Line dividing the northern and         ‘Much has been achieved in the fight against racism         housing. The report confirms human rights groups’
an established religion, it has a special duty              southern parts of the country, as well as accession       in Germany over the past few years. Yet much still          concerns about the limited knowledge of potential
to protect the religious freedom of others,                 to the EU in 2004. KISA and the 2009 European             needs to be done,’ concluded Githu Muigai, the              victims about their rights under the AGG, and
particularly those in a religious minority.                 Social Watch Report on Migrants point out that            UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of              emphasizes that the Act’s effectiveness is hampered
   The judgment has sparked much debate, with               migration to Cyprus is widely viewed as a temporary       racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and relat-        by the two-month time-limit for initiating a com-
widespread condemnation from both Italian                   phenomenon – that the country is seen as a tran-          ed intolerance during his 10-day visit to the country       plaint. According to the report, the latter issue is
politicians and the Vatican, who declared, ‘It              sit stop for most third-country nationals on their        in July 2009. In a statement issued in Berlin, the          compounded by the limited role afforded to NGOs
seems as if the court wanted to ignore the role             journeys towards other European countries. Hence,         UN Special Rapporteur emphasized that Germany               under the law. According to the ECRI 2009 report,
of Christianity in forming Europe’s identity,               migration policies tend to put less emphasis on           needs to broaden its concept of racism from one             the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, with its
which was and remains essential.’ At the time of            integrating the growing migrant population, many          associated only with right-wing extremists to one           small staff and annual budget, appears to have rela-
writing, a request to refer the case to the Grand           of whom have settled in Cyprus. Migrants can only         that also encompasses the discrimination and harass-        tively few resources to carry out its statutory tasks.
Chamber, the Court’s highest chamber, is yet to             stay if they are enrolled in higher education or are      ment occurring in everyday life, particularly towards          Germany’s repatriation policies for members of
be decided. p                                               working. This leaves many migrants vulnerable to          migrants. Thus, Germany has to step up its efforts          Roma, Ashkalia and Egyptian (RAE) minority com-
                                                            exploitative working conditions.                          to integrate its migrant population.                        munities to Kosovo prompted CoE Commissioner
                                                               The Migrant Cities study by PRIO Cyprus (the              The gap in the educational achievements of               for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg and the
                                                            International Peace Research Institution) shows           migrant pupils and of native Germans remains                UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),
   In September 2009, the Committee of Ministers            Cypriot society reacting to the presence of migrants      significant and is steadily increasing. Poverty, other      as well as minority rights organizations such as
of the CoE adopted a series of recommendations              with both incidents of racism and xenophobia, and         socio-economic hurdles, plus a migrant background           MRG and the Kosovo-based Roma and Ashkalia
regarding the application of the European Charter           a wider lack of interest, ‘a small, extreme, racist       reduce the educational opportunities of migrant             Documentation Centre (RAD), to investigate the
for Regional or Minority Languages, which Cyprus            minority … is opposed to the presence of migrants         children, and differences remain in place even              state of minorities forcibly returned to Kosovo
ratified in 2002. Under the Charter, Armenian               … [but] the majority simply does not care about           between children of the same general socio-eco-             from Germany. Among the countries that have
and Cypriot Maronite Arabic are acknowledged                the experience, conditions, problems, or joys of          nomic background. At the same time, young people            readmission agreements with Kosovo concerning
as minority languages. After reviewing the state of         migrants in Cyprus and this perpetuates a situa-          with a migrant background have considerably fewer           the forced repatriation of members of the RAE
minority languages in 2009 the CoE recommended              tion of “living apart” and not “together”,’ said Olga     chances to enter further education and vocational           communities to their country of origin (includ-
the development of a structured policy for the pro-         Demetriou, a project leader at PRIO Cyprus at the         and professional training than their German coun-           ing Austria, Sweden and Switzerland) Germany,
motion of Armenian and Cypriot Maronite Arabic,             launch of the report in 2009.                             terparts. This trend is confirmed by the 2009               with the majority of RAE refugees living in the
including targeted financial support and teacher               A police sweep operation carried out in September      country report of the CoE’s ECRI, which also notes          country, is the biggest sender. From 1999 until the
training initiatives. Some members of the Roma              2009 in search of illegal immigrants and those respon-    that some teachers reportedly display discrimina-           end of August 2009, there were 92,240 voluntary
community speak a mix of Turkish and Kurbetcha,             sible for a violent clash between worshippers at the      tory attitudes in the classroom, in particular towards      returns and 21,852 forcible returns. The UNHCR
which is not acknowledged as a regional or minority         Omeriye mosque a month earlier led to a further           Turkish and Muslim children.                                confirmed in a report in November 2009 that the
language, however. And the CoE notes that Turkish           deterioration of the relationship between Cypriots           In 2008, the first court decisions within the con-       situation of minority communities in Kosovo is
is in a very similar situation in government-con-           and the migrant population. The police were heavily       text of the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG)               precarious, and that ‘respect for minority rights
trolled areas, despite its status as being one of the       criticized by members of ENAR-Cyprus and KISA for         were taken. The AGG came into force on 18 August            continues be the most significant human rights
official languages of the country                           the raids in the old town of Nicosia, which started at    2006; it implements the EU’s equal treatment direc-         issue in Kosovo in the post-independence era’.
   The strict bi-communal institutional structure has       5 a.m. and involved 247 police officers. According to     tives and extends protection against discrimination         The social, political and economic exclusion of
been criticized by human rights groups advocating           the Cyprus Mail, the police alleged that the operation,   on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, gender,            Kosovo’s minorities is a remaining issue, and after
for the rights of minorities and migrants living on the     involving the blockage of six exit points from the old    religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation   attacks on Roma by Kosovo Albanians in September
island, such as the Nicosia-based KISA – Action for         town and house searches, was intended to ‘prevent         to public employment and a number of private law            2009, the CoE’s Committee of Experts on Roma
Equality, Support, Anti-racism. They argue that it          crime, combat illegal immigration and restore the         fields. In 2009, however, ENAR members raised               and Travellers called on states to consider granting
fails to address the needs of the country’s minorities      sense of security in the old town’. The raid ended        concerns that neither the AGG nor the Federal               asylum to members of the Kosovo Roma commu-
and migrants. As KISA argues, the division of the           with 150 migrants being taken to police stations for      Anti-Discrimination Agency are providing effective          nity. Referring to the UNHCR report and his own
island in 1974 further alienated the two main com-          identification; there were 12 arrests in connection       protection for victims of discrimination and that the       repeated visits to Kosovo in March and July 2009,
munities and consolidated the conviction that ethnic        with the Omeriye mosque violence and 36 for illegal       latter fails to meet its obligations adequately.            Hammarberg sent a letter to the Chancellor of
or religious difference is a potential threat. Minorities   residence. A number of organizations staged a dem-           In its 2009 report, ECRI noted positive develop-         Germany, Angela Merkel, in December 2009, urg-
who had opted for the Greek Cypriot community               onstration on 4 October 2009 to condemn the police        ments, such as a number of government measures to           ing the German government to halt forcible returns,
continue to live in the Turkish part of the island.         operation, which they saw as discriminatory and not       eliminate inequalities or discrimination in the fields      in particular of Roma.

168                                              Europe                           State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                             Europe                                            169
                                                                                    and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
   The ultra right-wing remains a serious problem        the SS as a concentration camp guard during the            ering religious clothing was however introduced for           In the national report submitted to the UN
in Germany. ‘Germany for Germans!’ and similar           Second World War, was widely seen as breaking              teachers, parents and students in educational settings,    Universal Periodic Review, the term ‘extremist
slogans are frequently heard at rallies all over         new ground. In the decades following the war, the          and also for government officials interacting with         crime’ was used again by Russian state authori-
Germany. Moreover, national socialism appears to         German authorities prosecuted only top leaders of the      the general public. In May 2009, a court ruling also       ties, who officially acknowledge the existence and
have support beyond those who appear in public           Nazi regime for the Holocaust. Guards and others           introduced the requirement that female school staff        increase of such crimes and provide some statistics.
demonstrations. According to an annual report            working in the concentration camps were seen as act-       shake hands with males in greeting, even if this goes      ‘Extremist crime in Russia is on the rise. In 2004,
published in May 2009 by Germany’s Federal               ing under command and thus had limited culpability.        against their religious affiliation.                       130 extremist acts were carried out; in 2005, 152
Office for the Protection of the Constitution, there                                                                   While a government report released in 2009 shows        were registered, while the figure rose in 2006 to
are nearly 5,000 militant neo-Nazis, while 30,000        The Netherlands                                            that integration of ethnic and religious minorities has    263 and in 2007 to 356. In the first half of 2008
Germans consider themselves as having extreme            Discussions concerning the position of Muslims in          improved in the last couple of years, human rights         alone, 250 were registered.’ The Moscow-based
right-wing views.                                        the Netherlands featured prominently in the public         groups and the CoE indicated otherwise. Human              SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis prefers
   However, far-right parties have suffered a sharp      debate on discrimination and racism during 2009.           rights group Defence for Children International            the term ‘hate crimes’ and reports that, according
decline in votes in the 2009 national elections          Islam is frequently portrayed as a threat to Dutch         warned that the rights of migrant and refugee chil-        to their research, there were 525 victims (of whom
compared to four years ago. The two prominent far-       society by politicians and public figures. After the       dren are inadequately guaranteed in the Netherlands,       97 died) of racist violence in 2008. The follow-
right parties, the National Democratic Party and the     far-right Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders made          and that those separated from their parents are vul-       ing year, 48 people had been murdered and 253
German People’s Union between them won support           a controversial film equating Islam with violence          nerable to abuse or ill-informed about their rights.       injured by September as a result of racist attacks.
from 681,000 voters, well down from the 858,000          and the Qur’an with fascist texts, an Amsterdam               CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas               Many violent attacks are reported against members
who voted for them in 2005 when the parties              court ordered prosecutors to put him on trial. The         Hammarberg, also emphasized that ‘policies towards         of the Armenian, Jewish, Muslim and non-Russian
entered into an electoral pact. The outcome meant        decision followed numerous complaints by human             migrants and asylum-seekers require further review’        Orthodox Christian communities.
that only 1.5 per cent of the 44 million Germans         rights groups and citizens over the prosecution serv-      in the country report presented in March 2009.                Comprehensive figures on the actual numbers of
who turned out to vote in 2009 supported the             ices’ refusal to press charges against Wilders, and        Addressing issues concerning discrimination and            racially motivated or xenophobic attacks are hard to
extreme right parties, although in some states, such     stated that, ‘in a democratic system, hate speech is       intolerance, the rights of the child, anti-terrorism       establish, as victims and their families may be loath
as Saxony, support for the NDP reached 4 per cent.       considered so serious that it is in the general interest   measures and ethnic profiling, the Commissioner            to approach the authorities. However, as AI reports,
   Support for Islam to be granted the same legal        to … draw a clear line’. The court order is notable,       recommended that the protection of minority rights         despite the government’s call for harsh punishments
status as Christianity and other recognized religions    as Dutch courts tend to be reluctant to restrict           be strengthened.                                           for those convicted of such crimes, no comprehen-
is growing in the country and is being actively          freedom of expression when it concerns statements                                                                     sive government plan to combat racism and racial
discussed by the main political parties. The Green       made by politicians and public figures. Wilders            Russia                                                     discrimination has been put in place. In 2008,
Party expressed its support for taking concrete          attracted headlines in the UK during 2009, when            With the collapse of the Communist bloc and the            Russian NGOs presented an alternative report to
steps in this direction. Interior Minister Wolfgang      he was stopped from entering the country. He had           emergence of post-Soviet states in the territory of        the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Schäuble of the Conservative Christian Democratic        been invited by the Eurosceptic UKIP to screen his         the Former Soviet Union, the Russian Federation            Discrimination (CERD) that examined Russia’s
Union has said that this is his long-term aim, but       film, but the then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith             has experienced considerable political, economic           compliance with the International Convention
also stated that Muslim communities are still some       banned his entry. The ban was later overturned by          and social change during the last decades. Growing         on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
way from meeting the requirements that have to be        a High Court decision, leading to Wilders’ visiting        nationalism, xenophobia, racism and religious              Discrimination. The alternative report confirms that
fulfilled under the German Constitution, including       the UK in March 2010. He screened the film at the          intolerance have become increasingly visible. After        the Russian government has become more active in
the ability to provide teachers to educate children      House of Lords, upon UKIP’s invitation.                    a steady rise in ethnic violence, official statements      opposing racist violence and hate speech. For exam-
enrolled in state schools about their faith. The crea-      Muslims constitute around 5.2 per cent of the           concerning hate crime were first made in 2004, when        ple, the numbers of persons charged with incitement
tion of the German Islam Conference (DIK) could          population and are mainly concentrated in larger cit-      a 9-year-old Tajik girl was killed. According to the       of ethnic hatred has increased, and a number of top
be an important symbol of change. The goal of            ies. According to 2008 figures of the Central Bureau       Equal Rights Trust, the acting Interior Minister at        officials have acknowledged and condemned ethni-
the Conference is to ensure better integration of        of Statistics, there are approximately 373,000 Turks       that time, Rashid Nurgaliyev, admitted that ‘acute         cally motivated violence and the incitement of racial
Muslims and to promote inclusive communities by          and 335,000 Moroccans; other Muslims come from             manifestations of extremism’ towards visible minori-       hatred. Nevertheless, the NGO alternative report
counteracting segregation and preventing extremism.      the country’s former colony of Suriname or are             ties existed in the country. Incidents of racial vio-      points out that, in spite of an increasing prosecution
   Two prominent court cases in 2009 helped to           asylum-seekers from the Middle East. As the 2009           lence were identified as ‘extremist crimes’ that were      rate for hate crimes, this should be viewed in light
highlight racism and hate-motivated crimes. A            report of the US Commission on International               threatening the security of Russia. The 2009 National      of the scale of hate crimes and the amount of racist
German man was sentenced to life imprisonment            Religious Freedom (USCIRF 2009) notes, the                 Security Concept of the Russian Federation states          propaganda being distributed. According to NGO
for the brutal murder of a pregnant headscarved          Turkish government appoints imams for most of the          that ‘ensuring national security includes countering       estimates, hate crimes have been growing by about
Egyptian woman, Marwa El-Sherbini. The killing           more than 200 Turkish mosques in the Netherlands.          extremist activity by nationalist, religious, ethnic and   20 per cent a year and have become increasingly
sparked outrage in Sherbini’s home country and led       The Dutch government provides funding for educa-           other organizations and structures directed at disrupt-    violent, often involving weapons and explosives.
to renewed debates about Islamophobia in Germany.        tion in religious schools and other religious institu-     ing the Russian Federation’s unity and territorial            The NGO alternative report criticizes the Russian
   The trial of the 89-year-old John Demjanjuk, a        tions. Headscarves are in practice permitted almost        integrity and destabilizing the domestic political and     government’s approach towards combating hate
Ukrainian-born Soviet prisoner of war who joined         everywhere, including in schools. A ban on face-cov-       social situation in the country’.                          crimes, arguing that it is too limited and selective

170                                           Europe                           State of the World’s Minorities      State of the World’s Minorities                            Europe                                            171
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010        and Indigenous Peoples 2010
when suspending or terminating mass media outlets
or NGOs that disseminate hate. The report states
                                                           laws exist that ban Wahhabism, a term increasingly
                                                           used by government officials, journalists and the       ‘They told                                             in Iraq continue to be dangerous for minority

                                                                                                                   me I did not
that this shifts ‘the focus of preventing and eliminat-    public to mean Islamic extremism. The Russian                                                                     Zeena, a 44-year-old Assyrian woman, and
ing discrimination from protection of the individu-        NGO Memorial reports that Muslims considered                                                                   her three children, aged 17, 15 and 9, have been
                                                                                                                                                                          in Sweden since December 2007 waiting for
                                                                                                                   deserve to stay
al’s rights and dignity to a fight against those whom      ‘overly devout’ may be arrested or be ‘disappeared’,
the state deems its opponents’.                            especially in the North Caucasus. Inter-community                                                              their appeal to be accepted. All they have had is
    The 2002 Law on Extremism (amended in July             tensions and anti-Islamic sentiments resulting in                                                              rejection. Zeena said the response to her appeal
2006) was also mentioned in USCIRF 2009 for
its impact on religious minorities, particularly the
                                                           discrimination persist after the 2004 school siege in
                                                           Beslan, North Ossetia, with no intervention by the
                                                                                                                   in Sweden’                                             states that Iraq is a safe country and that she and
                                                                                                                                                                          her family do not need to stay in Sweden.
Muslim community, by allowing the criminalization          authorities. Muslim communities face difficulties in                                                              But Zeena’s experiences in Iraq have been far
of a wide spectrum of speech and activities. The law       opening and maintaining mosques.                                                                               from safe. Before leaving the country, Zeena’s
risks encouraging racial and religious discrimination.        According to USCIRF 2009, there are at least 80      For Iraqi refugees fleeing the current conflict,       family faced daily bomb threats and her husband,
USCIRF placed Russia on its watch list in 2009. As         Russian-based anti-Semitic websites and approximately   arrival in Sweden can seem like the start of           who is still in Iraq, has been threatened by
the report notes, security services tend to treat the      100 small, ultra right-wing newspapers that regularly   a new life. But many are finding that their            gunmen. Like many other minority communities
leaders of some Islamic groups, and groups termed          print anti-Semitic and Islamophobic materials.          difficult journey to the country only ends in          in the country they were forced to stay at home
‘non-traditional’, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as                                                             official rejection and the risk of being returned.     and not go to work or, as a final choice, to leave
a security threat.                                         Sweden                                                  For Iraqis from minority religious and ethnic          the country. After she and her family decided to
   The Federal List of Extremist Materials is updated      In the second half of 2009, Sweden held the             communities, this is particularly difficult to         make a new start, they initially went to Syria and
four times a year by the government. According to          Presidency of the EU. The Swedish Presidency            face. Zeena*, an Iraqi Christian mother of             stayed there for two months.
the human rights group Forum 18, in May 2009,              was open to working with NGOs in the negotia-           three, tells Suzan Ayyildiz about                         Of Sweden she says: ‘[I] hoped this would be
there were 367 items on this list of banned publica-       tions on the draft EU Equal Treatment Directive         her experiences.                                       a place where there is no worry about safety.’
tions. While the list of banned texts includes extreme     but could not achieve its adoption before the end                                                              However, arriving in the country was only the
nationalist and anti-Semitic publications, it also com-    of its Presidency. The UN High Commissioner                                                                    first step. Now, Zeena has to deal with the
prises Islamic religious texts. Publication of the texts   for Refugees and other human rights organizations       Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003,             complications of her claim to gain her legal status.
on the list can be punished with a four-year prison        working on protecting the rights of asylum-seekers      many Iraqis fear for their safety on a daily basis.    She says, ‘[The authorities] told me that I did not
term. One problem identified by USCIRF is that             and migrants called on the Swedish government to        Minority groups, such as Chaldo-Assyrians, suffer      deserve to stay in Sweden.’ But for her there is no
even low-level local courts, with little knowledge of      reassert the importance of a rights-based approach to   in particular. They and their places of work and       other option. Sweden is where she and her children
religious doctrine, can ban texts, with the result that    migration and border controls within the framework      worship are physically targeted by extremist groups    are finally beginning to feel safe.
the ban is enforced throughout Russia.                     of the ‘Stockholm Programme’, which was adopted         in an attempt to make them convert or leave their         Many appeals are rejected but people want to
   Although the 1997 legislation concerning reli-          during the Presidency and sets out key priority areas   homes. This constant threat to their security has      keep their hopes up, as Zeena has done so far. She
gious practice grants protected status to the four         for the EU in the area of justice and home affairs.     led many members of minority groups to flee the        says that she will renew her appeal as returning to
founding religions recognized by the state (the            A key achievement during the Swedish Presidency         country in search of a new beginning.                  Iraq is not an option. ‘Nobody threatens us here;
Russian Orthodox Church, Buddhism, Islam                   was the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and          In October 2009, the UNHCR reported that            we are part of the society but only not legally,’ she
and Judaism), human rights reports highlight the           the establishment of the European Charter of            the number of asylum-seekers originating from          adds. She and her children feel free to participate
privileged status accorded to the Russian Orthodox         Fundamental Rights as a legally binding document.       Iraq has consistently been the highest for the last    in social activities in Sweden. Her children can
Church, including official arrangements to pro-               Domestically, an important milestone in the          four years, with 13,200 Iraqis making claims in the    go to school and she can go out to meet with her
vide spiritual counselling and conduct religious           protection of minorities was the adoption of the        first half of 2009 alone. The majority of the claims   friends or see her lawyer, although there is always
education. The country’s other religious communi-          new Discrimination Act by the Swedish Parliament,       made by Iraqis in the last four years were made to     doubt about being deported.
ties, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Orthodox Old            which entered into force on 1 January 2009. The         Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Sweden               There are many stories like Zeena’s; despite the
Believers, Protestants, Roman Catholics and others         Act outlaws discrimination based on gender, ethnic-     has been a popular destination for Assyrians in        tougher laws, asylum-seekers from Iraq continue
must accept greater government control. In 2009,           ity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender   particular, as there is an existing Chaldo-Assyrian    to seek refuge in Sweden, the rest of Europe and
the Russian government established the Expert              identity and age. It also established a new watch-      community there.                                       worldwide. Many will face being returned; but,
Religious Studies Council, which has been criticized       dog, the Equality Ombudsman, which is headed               However, there has been a sharp decline in          particularly for those from minority communities,
for its over-broad mandate. The Council has among          by Katri Linna, the former Ombudsman against            asylum claims to Sweden since 2007, when a             it is a ruling that seems impossible to follow. p
its powers the right to investigate religious groups at    Ethnic Discrimination. The reform streamlines the       migration court ruled, ‘that the situation in Iraq
the time of registration and their written materials.      ombudsman function and gathers four of the previ-       was not one of “armed conflict”’. The implication      *Names have been changed to protect identities
   Increasing discrimination against Russia’s approx-      ous ombudsman posts into one authority.                 of the above ruling is that many of these refugees
imately 20 million Muslims was also reported by the           According to national population statistics, up      may now be turned away, even though conditions         Edited by Rahnuma Hassan
USCIRF 2009. In parts of the country, for example          to the first quarter of 2009, the largest group who
the regions of Kabrdino-Balkaria and Dagestan,             immigrated to Sweden were returning Swedish citi-

172                                             Europe                          State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                        Europe                                           173
                                                                                  and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
zens (3,857), followed by Iraqis (2,451) and Somalis     Iraq, whereby rejected asylum-seekers could be           ‘Many things were done in this country for years.              While the minister’s opening was welcomed by
(1,305), who are the largest African community in        forcibly returned to Iraq. Prior to this, only Iraqi     People from different ethnic backgrounds were               the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP),
Sweden (about 25,159 people). According to a 2005        nationals who agreed to be returned were accepted        expelled. This was the result of a fascist approach.’       many Kurds and intellectuals, it was criticized by
report submitted to the OSCE by the International        by the Iraqi authorities. Those returned go back         Government representatives organized workshops              others for being unclear. Moreover, the initiative
Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Sweden             to an uncertain future. MRG’s 2009 report on             with representatives of Roma NGOs, Alevi NGOs               was followed by various developments that did not
has the largest number of Roma in the Nordic             Iraq’s uprooted minorities cited an August 2009          and non-Muslim minorities, which were welcomed              fit with its stated aims. The DTP was closed down,
countries with about 50,000 Roma living there.           Swedish Radio News investigation which revealed          by some but criticized for not resulting in any con-        37 party members were banned from political
There are numerous religious communities in the          that Iraqi Christians whose asylum applications          crete progress.                                             activities and two MPs were removed from office
country; their numbers are estimated on the basis of     had been rejected by the Swedish government and             The ‘Ergenekon case’ (concerning suspects                following a decision by the Constitutional Court
statistics submitted by religious organizations as the   who have been forcibly or voluntarily returned to        accused of involvement in an alleged military coup          in December 2009. Soon after, many members of
government does not register the religion of citizens.   Baghdad, are once more fleeing the country. Out of       in October 2008) continued in 2009. It saw the              the DTP, including some mayors, were detained
Approximately 5 per cent (450,000–500,000) of            25 interviewed for the programme, including seven        accused brought before the courts for the first time.       following accusations that they were members of
the population is Muslim; the Jewish community           children, ‘all but one are now on the run again from     A military-backed strategy aimed at reducing public         the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or the
estimates that among Sweden’s 20,000 Jewish peo-         widespread persecution in Iraq’.                         support for the ruling Justice and Development Party        Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which is
ple there are 8,000 practising members. As stated           Despite the establishment of a hate crime unit by     (AKP) and reportedly drafted in April 2009, was             alleged to be the urban arm of the PKK.
by USCIRF 2009, religious education covering             the Stockholm County police to train police offic-       disclosed by daily newspaper Taraf in June 2009.               Despite the government’s initiatives, no concrete
all major world religions is compulsory in public        ers to detect and inform the public of hate crimes,      Likewise, the ‘Cage Operation Action Plan’, allegedly       progress was achieved during 2009 regarding the
schools and a government authority was established       and its subsequent expanded role to cover the whole      drawn up in March 2009 to target, harass and attack         treatment of minorities. The government remains
in 2003 to promote the protection of human rights        country in 2009, racism within the police caused a       non-Muslim minorities, and mentioning the kill-             reluctant to review constitutional provisions.
and the values of tolerance and democracy.               major uproar in Sweden. Police officers were caught      ings of three Zirve Publishing staff, the 2007 murder       Ethnic minorities, including Caucasians, Kurds,
   Religious and ethnic discrimination continues to      on video using racist insults during a riot in an eth-   of journalist Hrant Dink and the 2006 murder of             Laz and Roma, are not recognized as minorities
be a concern, however. Swedish members of ENAR           nically mixed neighbourhood in Malmo and some            Father Santoro, a Catholic priest, was also published       and are therefore not fully guaranteed a number
reported that individuals originally from Middle         50 officials adopted racist names while role-playing     by Taraf in November 2009. The plan apparently              of rights or services, including access to media in
East and Africa are subject to greater levels of rac-    criminals and suspects during a training exercise.       sought to blame the AKP for those deaths, Turkish           their own languages and mother tongue education
ism and discrimination. Roma also face widespread        The police chief subsequently promised an inde-          media reported, and was meant to garner support for         or training.
discrimination.                                          pendent inquiry into racism within the police.           the suspects in the Ergenekon case.                            In 2009, several racist attacks against Kurds and
   In August 2009, MRG raised concerns about the            Meanwhile the leader of the far-right Sweden             In addition to killings of non-Muslims since             Kurdish politicians took place. Some human rights
practice of Swedish authorities of forcing Roma to       Democrats openly argues against Muslims in the           2007, the accused in the Ergenekon case are report-         organizations, such as the Contemporary Jurists’
return to Kosovo, where they face discrimination         country, saying that ‘Islam is Sweden’s biggest          edly linked to various extra-judicial killings that         Association, criticized public officials for not tak-
and other violations of their human rights. MRG          threat’ since the Second World War. Jurists believe      took place in the 1990s in south-eastern Turkey.            ing effective measures to prevent these attacks or
warned that:                                             that the text, which appeared in the opinion sec-        While a section of Turkish society and intellectuals        conduct proper investigations. The military still has
                                                         tion of the Aftonbladet newspaper in October 2009,       has been supporting the prosecution of these acts, in       influence on the country’s political discourse as well
‘Sweden should ensure that before it returns Kosovo      qualifies as hate speech and agitation against an        the hope that Turkey will face its past and make a          as on its judiciary, and there is a separate judiciary
Roma, circumstances are created which allow them to      ethnic group. But Chancellor of Justice Göran            fresh start that will ensure equal treatment of all citi-   for members of the military services.
live in dignity and without discrimination … most        Lambertz said he was not considering launching           zens, the military, nationalists, republicans and the
are placed on planes without any aid and dropped at      an investigation into whether the article violates       main opposition party have been strongly critical.          Religious minorities
the airport in Kosovo without any support in terms of    Swedish rules governing freedom of expression.              Another important positive development was the           Changes are needed to Turkey’s policies and legal
housing, employment or health care.’                     The party, founded in 1988, argues that Sweden           ‘Democracy Opening’, which was initially called the         and administrative mechanisms regarding the
                                                         should remain a homogeneous society by drastically       ‘Kurdish Opening’. Announced by the Minister of             treatment of religious minorities. The government
AI also criticized Sweden for the treatment of           cutting the numbers of immigrants. It has recently       the Interior in July 2009, it aimed to bring about          still refers only to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne,
asylum-seekers from Iraq. In its 2009 country            made gains in local elections and there are fears that   equality for all citizens, including Kurds, Alevis,         which, while guaranteeing specific rights to non-
report, AI cited the UN Committee Against Torture        it may win a seat in the national parliament in the      Roma and non-Muslim minorities. The Minister                Muslim minorities, has not kept up with develop-
(CAT), which raised serious concerns about the           2010 national elections.                                 of the Interior met journalists, NGO staff and              ments in international human rights standards.
practice of Swedish authorities of keeping asylum-                                                                representatives of different sections of society in         Moreover, Turkey continues to violate the Treaty of
seekers in detention before deportation without          Turkey                                                   August 2009 to discuss finding a peaceful solution          Lausanne by applying it only to Armenians, Rums
any time-limits set by law. According to the report,     Contributed by Nurcan Kaya                               to the Kurdish question. Later, the minister briefly        (members of the Eastern Orthodox community)
most new applications for asylum were rejected           In 2009, Turkish state policy on minorities began        shared the contents of these talks in a speech before       and Jews. This leaves other non-Muslim groups,
by the Migration Board on the grounds that there         to be discussed openly for the first time in the his-    parliament on 13 November 2009. As with the                 such as Assyrians, Baha’is, Chaldeans, Protestants
was no internal armed conflict in Iraq. In February      tory of the Republic. At a congress that took place      Ergenenekon case, the opposition and nationalists           and Yezidis outside the scope of the Treaty.
2008, an agreement was reached by Sweden and             on 23 May 2009, Prime Minister Erdoğan stated,           accused the government of betraying the state.              Furthermore, Turkey has limited the property and

174                                            Europe                          State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                             Europe                                            175
                                                                                 and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                                                                                Left: A Kurdish nomadic family sit outside a cave       to volunteer at their churches. According to Topuz,
                                                                                                                where people lived until forced to settle by the        American, British and German volunteers in Izmit
                                                                                                                government. Carolyn Drake/Panos.                        were expelled on the basis of not having work permits,
                                                                                                                                                                        although they were volunteering at their church. p
                                                                                                                their problems and possible solutions for the first
                                                                                                                time. Bianet, an online news agency, reported in
                                                                                                                November 2009 that these workshops were criti-
                                                                                                                cized by some Alevis for not being sufficiently con-
                                                                                                                crete in finding any solutions. Alevi NGOs organ-
                                                                                                                ized a conference in November 2009 to demand
                                                                                                                equal treatment, including the removal of the com-
                                                                                                                pulsory classes from the school curriculum and the
                                                                                                                official recognition of Cemevis as places of worship.
                                                                                                                   The very small Jewish community in Turkey,
                                                                                                                comprising approximately 23,000 people, is fac-
                                                                                                                ing increasing discrimination. According to a 2008
                                                                                                                Pew survey on European attitudes toward Jews and
                                                                                                                Muslims, 76 per cent of respondents in Turkey had
                                                                                                                a negative view of Jews, compared to 49 per cent in
                                                                                                                2004. A 2009 study on radicalism by Yilmaz Esmer,
                                                                                                                a professor at Bahçesehir University, showed that
                                                                                                                64 per cent of Turks in 34 cities stated that they
                                                                                                                do not want Jewish neighbours. In response, the
                                                                                                                community has initiated an outreach programme.
                                                                                                                For example, Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva is conduct-
                                                                                                                ing inter-faith prayer services at the Neve Shalom
                                                                                                                synagogue in Istanbul, the site of previous extremist
                                                                                                                attacks, including a car-bombing in 2003 that left
                                                                                                                more than a dozen people dead and many injured.
                                                                                                                   Timur Topuz, President of the Board of the
                                                                                                                Istanbul Protestant Churches Foundation estimates
education rights of Armenians and Rums, in viola-       of the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya are still      that there are 5,000 Protestant Christians in Turkey.
tion of the Treaty.                                     pending. The police officers, who were accused of       Although the Law on Constructions (Law no.
   The Law on Foundations (Law no. 5555) that           negligence for failing to protect Dink despite hav-     3194) allows new church es to be built and opened,
entered into force in February 2008 allows non-         ing received intelligence that his murder was being     Protestants report that they face bureaucratic obsta-
Muslim foundations to apply to recover properties       planned, remain in their posts. No case was brought     cles when seeking recognition from municipalities.
seized by the state in the 1970s, but only if they      against them in 2009 despite attempts by human          According to the regulations, places of worship need
are still in the hands of the state. According to       rights lawyers.                                         to be at least 2,500 square meters – a requirement
the European Commission’s 2009 Turkey Progress             Alevis are still not acknowledged as a diverse       which is almost impossible to meet. However, the
Report, 1,393 applications were lodged by non-          group, different from Sunni-Muslims. Their places       Istanbul Protestant Church did gain legal status,
Muslim foundations to recover their properties          of worship, ‘Cemevis’, are not recognized by author-    despite not meeting this requirement. Protestant
before the deadline of August 2009. The law does        ities. Alevi children are obliged to attend compul-     churches also have problems when setting up non-
not guarantee the return of, or compensation for        sory ‘religious culture and ethics’ classes which       profit foundations. According to Topuz, their foun-
properties belonging to non-Muslim foundations          focus on Sunni Islam, despite the ECtHR’s ruling        dation is the only one that is officially recognized.
that were seized and sold to third parties.             in Hasan and Eylem Zengin vs. Turkey, issued on 9       Although missionary activities are legal in Turkey,
   Discrimination and racist attitudes towards          October 2007, which found that the classes violated     prejudice and harassment are common against
non-Muslim minorities are widespread. The cases         the Alevi children’s right to education under Article   Protestants. They receive threats by email, phone or
brought against the accused of the racially motivated   2 of the first Protocol to the ECHR.                    post; mostly these are not properly investigated and
murders of the Armenian journalist and human               Beginning in June 2009, government representa-       judicial proceedings are slow. Another problem is
rights activist Hrant Dink and the Christian staff      tives organized workshops with Alevis to discuss        that non-Turkish citizen Protestants are not allowed

176                                          Europe                          State of the World’s Minorities    State of the World’s Minorities                         Europe                                            177
                                                                               and Indigenous Peoples 2010      and Indigenous Peoples 2010

        Palestinian Authority





                      SAUDI ARABIA              BAHRAIN


                                                                            Lena El-Malak
                                                      U.A.E .


                                                     A R A B I A N
                                                          S E A
        n a volatile region mired in conflict, 2009      to threaten the lives of its numerous minorities.
                                                                                                                    Special report
        ranks as a particularly tumultuous year. The     Although there was an overall decrease in sectarian
        rise of the right in Israel’s February 2009      violence, religious minorities are still falling prey to

                                                                                                                    The status of
elections puts into question the rights and freedoms     attacks from militant groups. The volatile situation                                                               host countries have granted citizenship to Palestine
of Israel’s Palestinian minority. The formation of       in Iraq continues to push thousands of Iraqis, par-                                                                refugees. A formal legal status under national law,
a coalition government incorporating the far-right       ticularly members of minority religious groups, to                                                                 codified in legal instruments, in many instances
political party of Yisrael Beitenu has further alien-
ated this minority, composed of both Palestinian
                                                         seek refuge in neighbouring countries, and asylum
                                                         further afield.
                                                                                                                    Palestinian                                             does not exist. The legal position of Palestinian
                                                                                                                                                                            refugees in individual Arab states largely depends
Christians and Muslims.
   The Israeli military operation in Gaza in the
                                                            Northern Yemen also witnessed increased con-
                                                         flict and concomitant loss of civilian life in 2009        refugees in the                                         on administrative practices, which are often subject
                                                                                                                                                                            to arbitrary changes. The actual treatment of the
Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in January
2009, resulted in considerable loss of life and wide-
                                                         as clashes erupted in the north of Yemen between
                                                         government forces and Al-Houthi rebels. Saudi              Middle East: 60                                         refugees depends to a great extent on the policies of
                                                                                                                                                                            the various host countries vis-à-vis Palestinians in

                                                                                                                    years on, still
spread destruction of property. A year on, and with      Arabia was dragged into the conflict when some of                                                                  general, and the Palestine Liberation Organization
Israel obstructing the entry of construction material,   the fighters managed to cross its border.                                                                          (PLO) in particular.
thousands of Gazans continue to live in tents or the        Military operations, sectarian violence, dis-                                                                      In an attempt to regularize the status of
rubble of their former homes. The blockade, which
has been imposed on Gaza since 2007, also limits
                                                         puted elections, the consolidation of power in the
                                                         hands of extremist political parties and the rise of
                                                                                                                    unprotected                                             Palestinian refugees in the Arab world, the League
                                                                                                                                                                            of Arab States adopted the Protocol on the
the entry of food and medical supplies.                  religious militant groups have all contributed to                                                                  Treatment of Palestinians in the Arab States on 11
   The events in Gaza overshadowed the relationship      the volatile situation in the Middle East. A report                                                                September 1965. Also known as the Casablanca
between Israeli Palestinians and their government,       published by the United Nations Development                The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948        Protocol, this is a multilateral agreement which
as it did relations between Israel and Arab govern-      Programme (UNDP) and the League of Arab States             led to the forcible displacement of over 725,000        was ratified by nine state members of the League,
ments throughout the region. This chapter focuses        in December 2009 identified six additional key             Palestinians from their homes. On 8 December            including the three main host countries (Jordan,
in particular on Palestinians outside the OPT who        interrelated challenges facing the region, includ-         1949, the United Nations Relief and Works               Lebanon and Syria). It is binding on the ratify-
are in a minority or non-dominant position in            ing: institutional reform, job creation, the promo-        Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East          ing states, although neither the Protocol nor the
neighbouring states, as well as on the Palestinian       tion and financing of pro-poor growth, the reform          (UNRWA) was established by UN General                   Arab League’s Charter provide for enforcement
minority within Israel.                                  of educational systems, economic diversification,          Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) to ‘carry out in col-      mechanisms in cases of violation. The Casablanca
   The elections in Iran, which were among               and increased food security and self-sufficiency           laboration with local governments … direct relief       Protocol called for Palestinians, while keeping their
the most controversial to date, also led to a            within existing environmental constraints. Despite         and works programmes’ for the benefit of these          Palestinian nationality, to be treated on a par with
reinforcement of dogmatism. The re-election of           the magnitude of the challenges and the threats            refugees. UNRWA began operations on 1 May               nationals in Arab states with regard to employment,
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009               to regional stability, the Middle East has all the         1950. Sixty years on, in the absence of a solution to   the right to leave and return to the territory of the
was challenged by reformists and moderates,              ingredients it needs, from a rich and diverse culture      the Palestinian refugee issue, UNRWA continues to       state in which they reside, freedom of movement
who had promised to improve the situation of             to an abundance of natural, economic and human             be the main provider of basic services to 4.6 million   between Arab states, issuance and renewal of travel
minorities and initiate a rapprochement with             resources, to rise above these challenges and over-        registered Palestinian refugees residing in its five    documents, and freedom of residence, work and
Europe and North America, after years of isolation.      come the threats.                                          areas of operation (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West    movement.
The disputed elections were followed by massive                                                                     Bank and the Gaza Strip).                                  The Protocol set a high standard of protection
public demonstrations across the country, which          Iran                                                          Throughout the years, UNWRA has had to               for Palestinians. Unfortunately, most Arab states
were, at times, violently repressed by government        The year 2009 was a significant one for Iran and its       deliver its services both in times of relative calm     never fully implemented it. In addition, in 1991,
forces. With fresh demonstrations erupting in            people. It began with celebrations in February, as         in the Middle East and in times of hostilities.         the League of Arab States adopted Resolution 5093,
December, the internal situation in Iran continues       the country geared up to mark the 30th anniversary         The Agency works in close cooperation with              which authorized states to treat Palestinian refugees
to be alarming.                                          of the Islamic revolution. Drafted in the aftermath        the governments of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria,           in accordance with local norms rather than the pro-
   Meanwhile, Iran’s allies in Lebanon were defeated     of the revolution, Iran’s Constitution recognizes          and with Israel and the Palestinian Authority in        visions set forth in the Protocol, thus bypassing the
by the March 14 Alliance in Lebanon’s close June         Islam as the state’s official religion and the Twelver     the OPT, in order to carry out its operations.          standard of protection set by it.
2009 elections. It then took Prime Minister Saad         Ja’fari School of Shi’ism as the doctrine followed by      Notwithstanding UNRWA’s achievements over the              Today, Palestinian refugees continue to face dis-
Hariri five months of intense negotiations to break      its adherents. The majority of Iran’s 66.5 million         past 60 years in educating generations of refugees      criminatory treatment, particularly with regard to
the deadlock with the opposition and form a coali-       population is Muslim (Shia 89 per cent, Sunni 9            and providing them with health care, relief and         employment and freedom of movement in the Arab
tion government; this was duly achieved. It is to be     per cent). In addition to the Sunnis, Iran has sev-        other essential services, the status of Palestinian     region. After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in
hoped that improved relations with Syria will have a     eral other religious minorities; 2 per cent of Iran’s      refugees in the Middle East remains precarious.         2003, Palestinians have been targeted in Iraq, and
positive impact on Lebanon’s economy and lead to         population are Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian and             With the exception of Jordan, none of the Arab       thousands of them have fled.
greater stability, following years of turmoil.           Baha’i. According to Article 13 of the Constitution,
   Meanwhile, internal conflict in Iraq continued        Zoroastrian, Jewish and Christian Iranians are the

180                                      Middle East                            State of the World’s Minorities     State of the World’s Minorities                         Middle East                                      181
                                                                                  and Indigenous Peoples 2010       and Indigenous Peoples 2010
                                                                                                                    only recognized religious minorities, who, within         if incarcerated, recanting their religious affiliation as
Special report
                                                                                                                    the limits of the law, are free to perform their reli-    a precondition for releasing them.’
                                                                                                                    gious rites and ceremonies, and to act according to          On 18 December 2008, for the sixth consecu-
   While the status of Palestinian refugees in Arab        severe shortages of even the most basic goods such       their own canon in matters of personal affairs and        tive year, the UN General Assembly passed another
states continues to give cause for concern, it should      as food, fuel and medicine. Thousands of them were       religious education. Baha’is, on the other hand, are      resolution (A/Res/63/191) condemning the human
not detract from Israel’s responsibility towards these     also forced to leave their homes during last year’s      not recognized as a religious minority. However, as       rights situation in Iran and denouncing the govern-
refugees. Following their displacement from their          Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, and many   non-Muslims, they are protected under Article 14          ment’s harsh treatment of religious, ethnic, linguistic
homes in 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted             continue to live in tents to this day.                   of the Constitution, provided that they refrain from      or other minorities – whether they are recognized
Resolution 194(III) on 11 December 1948, which                As UNRWA marks its 60th anniversary, the con-         conspiracy or activity against Islam and the Islamic      or not. On 20 November 2009, the UN General
affirmed the refugees’ right to return, and to res-        tinued existence of the leading agency in charge of      Republic of Iran.                                         Assembly’s Third Committee approved a further
titution and compensation. Despite repeated and            Palestinian refugees serves as a potent reminder of         Notwithstanding the formal guarantees of protec-       resolution (A/C.3/64/L.37) on human rights in Iran,
near unanimous reaffirmations of this resolution by        the plight of the world’s largest and longest-standi