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Organization for Difending Victims of Violence
Human Rights Council 34th session
Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights
War and EnvironmentMr. President,
Destructions of wildlife, loss of biodiversity, poor air quality, contamination of soil and water, are some of the destructive effects of modern warfare, which has negatively affected the Middle East region and its people. In the ongoing conflicts such as Yemen, Iraq and particularly Syria, military machinery and explosives have destroyed forests and habitats on an unprecedented scale. Experts have repeatedly warned about the water shortage crisis in Yemen and the endless calamity to the environment in Syria.
Negative effect of war stays on environment years after the conflict is over. This is the case of southern Iran which is seriously affected by the Iran- Iraq war, causing widespread sand storms in the region, negatively affecting the people’s normal routine and the children’s access to education.
Concerned by the environment destruction cause by armed conflicts in the Middle East, our organization calls on the UN SR on environment to address ecocide in the region in the reports submitted to the HRC and the General Assembly.
Our organization draws the attention of the international community to serious water shortage and people’s lack of access to safe drinking water in Yemen.
We call on the environment NGOs to urge the Middle East government unite their efforts to reconstruct and protect the environment through running international conferences to discuss the issue or signing memoranda of understanding on environmental cooperation.
Since, according to Rio Declaration 1992 , States are committed to cooperate in the after-war development, we call on the states to cooperate with countries such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen to reconstruct their destroyed environment.
Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with SR on Myanmar
Crimes against Humanity Committed by Myanmar Security Forces
We express serious worries on the UN SR Yanghee Lee’s lack of access to Myanmar's northern Rakhine State.
We note the investigations the UN HC team to access the situation of Rohingya minorities. The detailed findings, confirm “Mass gang rapes, killings including of babies and young children, brutal beatings, disappearances and other serious human rights violations by Myanmar security forces” which amount to crimes against humanity according to the Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The widespread crimes have taken place while the world has ignored the early warnings of an occurrence of a genocide expressed by Myanmar civil society group and ODVV’s frequent concerns over the situation of Rohingya minorities in the HRC regular sessions within the past years.
Deeply troubled by the situation in Myanmar, our organization echoes the HC Zeid’s voice and calls on the international community, to join him in putting pressure on Myanmar government to stop the cruel military operations .
We call on the ICC to start investigations and prosecutions of all the perpetrators of atrocities in Myanmar.
We call on all civil society members to urge all member states to join the UN in finding and implementing effective intervention methods to put the crimes into an end.
We call on concerned NGOs to run awareness raising online campaigns to inform the Myanmar leadership of the strong possibility of being tried in a court for committing crimes against humanity.
We call on the Security Council, to utilize its punitive measures such as sanctions to discourage Myanmar government from continuation of the crimes. We urge the Security Council to take immediate action and established an international tribunal to hunt down and punish the perpetrators of Myanmar crimes.
Item 4: Challenges of Sand Storms and Drinking Water in South of IranMr. President
Environmental calamites are humanitarian tragedies which are widely ignored all over the world. The various dimensions of these problems are getting more complicated in developing countries such as Iran.
Numerous international documents unanimously emphasize on the link between enjoyment of human rights and existence of a healthy environment, recognizing the right to breathe clean air as fundamental human rights for all people.
Khuzestan in South of Iran, have been overtaken by dust storms for years now. Officials and NGOs have taken measures to control the dust-rising land, but they have not resulted in tangible changes of the situation.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV) acknowledges all government project funding and efforts including the initiative of hosting a regional meeting on combating sand and dust storms leading to the UN resolution A/71/463.
However, being concerned about the situation and living conditions of people in the south of Iran the ODVV calls on the government and the private sector in the region:
To support and ensure the full implementation of the projects that revitalize Horolazim and Shadegan wetlands.
To continue planting trees on dust rising lands of Iran-Iraq borders, in order to prevent occurrences of dust storms. To realize this aim, officials can use the potential capacity of millions of Arbaeen and Ashoora pilgrims, who travel from Iran to Iraq to perform religious ceremonies, as it was done in Nov. 2016 in a smaller scale .
ODVV also calls on the local NGOs fully engage with local authorities to find short term solutions to the challenge of dust storms while the long term projects are being implemented.
ODVV encourages the NGOs to join the local authorities and run awareness raising campaigns on methods of dealing with sand storms.
ODVV calls on the local and national research centers to study various methods of reversing desertification process.
Item 5: Promotion and protection of all human rights
Refugee policies in the EU
After the escalation of war in Syria and Iraq, about 5 million Syrians fled their country. Also, half a million Iraqis were driven from their homes. Afghanistan and Libya too have experienced migration and refugee crisis in various forms. Such situation illustrate new wave of migrations to the countries in the region and also Europe.
The data shows the majority of the refugees are settled in the neighbouring countries of their own country. However, thousands of people taken upon themselves and their families the dangers of a tiresome journey through land and sea to Europe where they face inappropriate treatment and anti-refugee policies. New waves of nationalism and empowerment of the patriotic parties has escalated anti-refugee sentiments in Europe and North America. The EU who used to take-in refugees in the beginning of the Syrian crisis, is closing the door to thousands of migrants through adopting new laws.
ODVV expresses its deep concern over the new approach of the EU member states towards refugees. The EU has still not managed to create a coordinated mechanism for accepting refugees, and the member countries do not have the inclination to do anything in this regard, either. Such policies target thousands of refugees and also harms international laws, such as the 1951 Convention on Refugees.
ODVV invites the European Union to introduce a comprehensive refugee policy in order to prevent inappropriate treatments towards refugees and decrease the humanitarian calamities of refugees.
ODVV also invites the European colleagues and NGOs to increase their awareness campaign to prevent xenophobia in the Europe.
Item 6, General Debate: The Universal Periodic ReviewMr. President,
Now that the first two UPR cycles are closed and the third round has started, the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV) which has been actively participating in HRC sessions for successive years would like to make a comment on the oral intervention registration process for NGOs in HRC interactive dialogues.
As it is known, the space for NGOs who take the floor in interactive dialogues is seriously limited and civil society members need to strongly compete against each other in order to be able to register their oral statements in the beginning of the list.
In the past, NGO members with physical strength and good running ability were able to take the chance of registering their oral intervention which would extremely discriminate against the applicants with a poor physical condition. Nowadays, thanks to the arrangements and decisions made by the Human Rights Council there is an online registration process which is more convenient than the old method.
However, there are ambiguities over the efficiency and fairness of the new online system. Cross-checking with other NGO members, within one country and among various counties have proven that an NGO which has registered within the first 20 seconds of the registration time is 20th in the oral intervention list while another NGO which has registered its intervention 10 minutes later ranks 4 in the same list.
ODVV urges the HRC secretariat to make clarifications on the NGOs ranking method in the lists of oral statements for interactive dialogues as soon as possible, so that the existing ambiguities are removed.
Item 9:New US Policies and Islamophobia
Islamophobia is not a hidden phenomenon anymore and has turned into a common feature of contemporary political discourse. The phobia is partly fueled by the media coverage of the statements made by political figures who shape the public opinion, exacerbating xenophobic feelings leading to violent behavior.
After the last presidential election in the Unites States, political leaders have been using Isamophobic rhetoric more frequently in their remarks and advocate policies that target Muslim Americans. The policies are proven to be supported by 25 percent of the nationals . There is evidence that these viewpoints are associated with recurring cases of harassment against Muslims in the country. According to some research reports, the remarks used in campaign and election have led to an unprecedented increase of Muslims harassments incidents and anti-Muslim hate groups.
Xenophobic expressions have been frequently referred to as sources of serious concern by the UN officials including the UN HC António Guterres , Ban Ki Moon , UN SRs on “Minority Rights” , “Freedom of Religion” , “Contemporary Forms of Racism” , “Human Rights of Migrants” and “Freedom of Opinion” .
Recognizing the UN principles, our organization echoes the UN officials’ remarks against xenophobic expressions that violate international human rights law .
We call on the HRC to study the best practices of countering politicians’ hate speech which is setting a new precedent in official violation of UN standards.
We call on the Special Procedures to create a database and record all cases of Islamophobia and the relationship between “politicians’ hateful remarks” and “escalation of hate crimes against minorities”.
We call on all member states to sanction the use of hateful remarks by political figures who shape public opinion and trigger hate crimes.