Tag Archives: Human Rights

Mark Collins – "The fall of Aleppo shows us exactly what we have become"

Terrible Terry Glavin roars his rage; amongst other things he excoriates feckless and irrelevant Canadian word-mongering at the UN General Assembly–an excerpt:

The truth of it is we’d just rather not take the trouble [see end of post]. We aren’t prepared to suffer the sacrifices demanded of the commitments to universal rights we profess, so we absolve ourselves by talking about “the Muslim world” as though it were a distant planet. We talk about Arabs as though they were a different species. It’s easier on the conscience that way.

Between the drooling bigotries of the isolationist Right and the clever platitudes of the “anti-imperialist” Left, the only place left to address the solemn obligations we owe one another as human beings is in negotiations over the codicils of international trade agreements, or in the rituals of deliberately unenforceable resolutions entertained by the United Nations General Assembly.

Just last Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and his diplomats conducted just such a ceremony in sponsoring a non-binding General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities in Syria, humanitarian aid access throughout the country, and an end to the siege of Aleppo. It passed, 122 to 13. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic coup [and heralded by our government–wowsers: “UN General Assembly calls for action on Syria in Canada-led resolution”].

Canadian Ambassador to the UN Marc-André Blanchard was pleased to claim that the resolution was already having an effect even before it was voted on, because the day before, Russia announced it was temporarily halting its bombing of Aleppo and had even offered to open corridors to allow civilians to flee. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic triumph.

The UN human rights office later announced that it had received credible reports that hundreds of men who crossed into Aleppo’s regime-controlled districts had gone missing…

Whilst Aleppo was falling our government issued this clarion call; one is sure it had Assad and Putin furiously reconsidering their course. Why do we bother with this worthless verbiage?

Canada demands that Assad regime and backers stop violence now and respect human rights in Syria

And if they don’t? Bah and humbug.

The start of a post from April:

The West and the Middle East: No Guts

I wrote earlier:

What to Do About the Bloody Middle East?

Poor bloody locals. If the West is truly willing to sort things out right now, are we then willing to rule–one way or another–for some decades or so to try to ensure things work out wellish? Triple double HAH! Given no willingness for, or today in the West intellectual acceptance of, such a prospect, then let us just face things honestly…

We don’t. Thank goodness we have Mr Glavin.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Sublime Erdogan the Magnificent vs the Kurds (plus ISIS/Syria)

This murderous terrorism,

Istanbul bombing: Terror attack death toll rises to 38 including 30 police as officials accuse PKK
PKK blamed for attack which is the latest in an escalating scale of violence in the country

will only make this worse–at the NY Times:

As Turkey Cracks Down, Kurdish Mayors Pack Bags for Jail

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — When Kurdish officials here in Diyarbakir, the biggest Kurdish city in the world, say they’ve been “unavoidably detained,” it is not just an excuse for lateness.

Even before I arrived, the co-mayors, Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, were jailed on terrorism charges that rights groups say are trumped up. Interviews in prison are not possible because, officially, foreign journalists are barred from the city.

Ahmet Turk, 74, a Kurd despite his name and the venerable mayor of another Kurdish city, Mardin, was out of jail at the moment. But his press officer, Enver Ete, said that it would be hard to arrange an interview: “We can’t give a time since so many people are getting arrested we can’t foresee what will happen.”

Kamuran Yuksek, a Kurdish politician, was on the phone with a reporter when he was detained briefly — just after being released from five months in prison.

I could not see Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or H.D.P., the country’s third-largest, although he lives in Diyarbakir. He, too, was jailed, along with nine other H.D.P. members of Parliament, so I arranged to see his wife, Basak, instead.

She canceled, not because she was jailed, but perhaps because she worried she would be, and she had two small children at home.

Turkey’s crackdown on Kurdish politicians, officials, news outlets, schools, municipalities, think tanks and even charities has been so thoroughgoing that it has left those who remain free expecting arrest at any moment. “My bag is packed for prison,” said Feleknas Uca, an H.D.P. member of Parliament. “Everybody has a bag in their house for prison. Now, everyone can be arrested at any moment.”

The crackdown on Kurds is part of a broader assault by the government on Turkey’s democratic freedoms after a failed coup in July, even though hard-line Islamists, followers of the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who are rabidly anti-Kurdish and hardly democratic paragons themselves, are accused of the overthrow attempt…

The crackdown on democracy has been nationwide, but on the political front it has been concentrated in the mostly Kurdish southeast, though there is no evidence, or even a government accusation, that Kurdish parties, legal or illegal, had any role in the attempted coup.

But a peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., broke down last year, and since then fighting has claimed 2,393 lives on all sides, including civilians, according to a tally by the International Crisis Group.

Mr. Erdogan’s government had been stunned in 2015 elections when the H.D.P. decimated the ruling Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., in the east especially, winning six million votes, sending 80 candidates to Parliament, and becoming overnight a nationwide political force and the third-largest party. Critics accused Mr. Erdogan of deliberately rekindling violence in Kurdish areas to stir nationalist passions and reverse his flagging fortunes.

Since the coup attempt, the government has focused on jailing officials of the H.D.P. and its local sister parties, arresting at least 45 mayors of Kurdish towns beginning in late October. New arrests are coming practically every day. This year, 2,700 local Kurdish politicians affiliated with the H.D.P. have been jailed…

Kurds have borne the brunt of the crackdown, not just in politics but also in the news media and other areas. The publications and media organizations ordered closed by the government included nearly every Kurdish outlet, except for the government’s Kurdish television channel. Some Kurdish publications have begun publishing under other names…

Meanwhile the Kurdish complication vs ISIS in Syria:

U.S. to Send 200 More Troops to Syria in ISIS Fight

The military advance is complicated by the predominant role played by Kurdish militia members, who make up a majority of the 45,000 fighters and are the most effective American partner against the Islamic State in Syria. But the Kurdish militia fighters are viewed by Turkey — a pivotal American ally — as a terrorist threat.

Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish fighters, known collectively as the Y.P.G., as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the Kurdish rebel group that has sought autonomy from Turkey since the 1980s. Ankara has demanded that the Y.P.G. not take part in the fight to retake Raqqa.

Turkish forces in recent months have swept across the border into Syria to attack Islamic State strongholds, an offensive the Pentagon has applauded [e.g. recently: “Turkish Troops, Syrian Rebels Attack Key Town Held by Islamic State”]. But the Turkish advance has also served to blunt the Kurdish fighters’ efforts to carve out a contiguous swath of territory inside Syria stretching to the Iraqi border.

As Turkish and Kurdish forces repeatedly clashed, American officials and commanders intervened to curtail the fighting. Washington desperately needs the two sides to focus on fighting the Islamic State in Raqqa, not each other.

To that end, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met twice in the last month with his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, to consult on battle plans for Raqqa. American Special Operations troops were assigned to accompany Turkish troops in Syria, giving the Pentagon on-the-ground liaisons.

In another unusual move, Brig. Gen. Jon K. Mott of the Air Force, a senior operations officer from the Pentagon’s Central Command, was recently dispatched to the Turkish Army’s operations center in Ankara to help coordinate the war effort and defuse any conflicts with the Kurds.

Pentagon officials are also toning down their vocal support for Kurdish fighters to avoid further inflaming Turkish domestic political sensitivities about any collaboration between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters…

Where it will all end knows only…Earlier (Operation Euphrates Shield— this from August):

Sublime Erdogan the Magnficent Pushing his Syria/Iraq Turkish Delight

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – PM Trudeau's Envoi to Fidelissimo…and Twitter Reactions

Former British ambassador Charles Crawford writes a nice piece:

So, Farewell Then Fidel Castro

While basking on the sunny South Carolina beaches I took time out to write a piece for National Interest on the death of Fidel Castro and how different world leaders drafted their respective statements:

The Castro case is unusually tricky. There’s no denying that he was a person of international significance, whose opinions and policies offered inspiration to global “progressive” tendencies. Likewise there’s no denying that he was among the most incompetent, brutish leaders in world history: his success in impoverishing and oppressing Cubans for all those long decades is quite astonishing. So how to come up with a few words that do justice to this, ahem, rather ambiguous record? What’s the right tone?

It turns out that it is impossible to issue a statement about Castro that does justice to both the successes and failures of his life without sounding ridiculous. How to be gracious about a plucky monster, a defiant disaster, an inspirational murderer? And what about the countless victims of Castro and Castroism? Do they get mentioned?

With examples:

… Top EU official Jean-Claude Juncker (European Commission) is worse:

The world (sic) has lost a man who was a hero for many. He changed the course of his country and his influence reached far beyond … His legacy will be judged by history.

Note the prominence of “a hero for many.” Not even a teensy hint that most of what Castro did was utterly at odds with EU values?

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau of course won the coveted Most Stupid Statement By Someone Who (Maybe) Should Have Known Better Award:

Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people (sic) for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation … A controversial figure … My father was very proud to call him a friend … the loss of this remarkable leader

This bafflingly awful statement has prompted a Twitterstorm of #trudeaueulogies derision:

– We mourn the death of Vlad the Impaler, who spearheaded initiatives which touched the hearts of millions
– A quiet loner with a quick wit, Osama Bin Laden inspired tremendous advances in air transportation security methodologies
– Mr Stalin’s greatest achievement was his eradication of obesity in Ukraine through innovative agricultural reforms

Conclusion?

Fidel Castro ended up like the mouldering corpse of Lenin in Red Square: a bizarre shrine to dishonesty, cruelty and subjugation. Fidel Castro became an obscure trinket in a bad video game that dim sly leftists click on to get new life in their endless struggle against … what exactly?..

One might well arsk.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – A Great Book From a Romanian Jew, Mihail Sebastian: "Journal 1935–1944: The Fascist Years"

Further to this post,

What’s an Intellectual Romanian Jew to do Before WW II?

I am finishing his journal:

It is an accumulation of events, thoughts and emotions that is one of the most powerful books I have read. I would add that his amateur appreciation of military developments is quite acute (it would appear that Romanians had access to quite a variety of information from non-Axis sources).

More here on Mihail Sebastian from a Romanian. He survived the war and then “Mihail Sebastian was killed by a truck as he crossed a busy Bucharest street in May 1945…”

The fate of Jews in Romania during the war depended critically on where they lived; many of those in the old Regat survived but still were subject to harsh persecution:


Romania, as Germany’s ally, joined the war against the Soviet Union. The country’s declared reason for doing so was to recover the territories of Bucovina and Bessarabia. Individual Jews’ fates in Romania critically depended on the region in which they lived at the beginning of the war. In Antonescu’s plan for “cleaning up the land,” the Jewish population of Bessarabia and Bucovina was considered hostile and was destined for “elimination.” Intense antisemitic propaganda was spread especially within the army, but also at all levels of the state hierarchy. This particular population, and by extension all Jews, was depicted as the embodiment of the “Bolshevik threat.”

Under Antonescu’s rule, Jews were subjected to discriminatory regulations, but there were quite a few fluctuations in their status, depending on the war front situation and on the political interests of the regime. Jewish real estate was nationalized on 28 March 1941, except for a few categories (exemptions included decorated Jewish war veterans; war orphans who had been baptized as Christians 20 years earlier; Jews married to Romanian nationals; Jews baptized as Christians at least 30 years before). Jewish men aged 18 to 50 had to perform forced labor.

One week after the beginning of the war, on 29–30 June 1941, the Jewish community of Iaşi was the victim of a pogrom in which more than 14,000 Jews were killed in massacres supervised by the army and the local police, with the support of Nazi troops. With the German–Romanian invasion, on Antonescu’s order 45,000–60,000 Jews in Bessarabia and Bucovina were massacred. The remaining 157,079 Jews were deported to Transnistria: 91,845 from Bucovina, 55,867 from Bessarabia, and 9,367 from Dorohoi. Between 105,000 and 120,000 of the deported Romanian Jews died. More than 21,000 Jews from southern Bucovina (the counties of Dorohoi, Câmpulung Moldovenesc, Suceava, and Rădăuți), which was still a part of the Old Kingdom, were also deported before 1942.

From the very beginning of the war, in Bucharest, community leaders (namely Filderman, leader of the Federal Union of Jewish Communities [FUCE]; with the assistance of Alexandru Şafran, the chief rabbi), succeeded in organizing an institutional network to provide religious services, education, and social support. In December 1941, FUCE was dissolved and replaced by the Jewish Central, following the model of the Judenrat. Remaining the true leader of the community, Filderman led the fight against resuming deportations and other anti-Jewish measures. In some communities, permission was granted to set up schools for Jewish children who had been excluded from the Romanian education system. Ways were found to send aid, financed substantially by international Jewish organizations, to Jews who had been deported to Transnistria.

In the summer of 1942, Jews in the Old Kingdom [the Regat] confronted the most critical times, as Romania accepted the Nazi plan to deport all Jews living in Romania to the Bełżec extermination camp. However, by November 1942 it became clear that the Romanian authorities were deferring the enforcement of this action and eventually gave it up completely [emphasis added]. They did so as a result of pressure from the Allied forces, but also because of internal opposition mobilized especially by Filderman. Policies concerning Jews began to change in October 1942, and the deportations finally ended in March–April 1943. Approximately 340,000 Romanian Jews survived. Partial repatriation began in the second half of December 1943. On 20 December, the 6,053 inhabitants of Dorohoi who had survived deportation were sent back to their hometown. On 6 March 1944, a total of 1,846 of the more than 5,000 orphans were repatriated.

Approximately 135,000 Jews living under Hungarian rule in northern Transylvania were murdered after deportation to Auschwitz, beginning in the spring of 1944. The territory of Romania, thanks to the change in attitude of authorities toward Jews, became a refuge for those who succeeded in crossing the border from Hungary…

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Hong Kong’s Growing Chicom Heebie Jeebies, Part 2

Further to this post (“Disappeared people pop up on the mainland and say the darnedest things…’), the Dragon gets ever more intrusive–oppressive?

Beijing Tightens Its Grip in Hong Kong Again

Two months after tumultuous legislative elections, and two years after the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement paralyzed the city center, Hong Kong is in the throes of another great political crisis.

Last Monday [November 7], the Chinese government intervened in the territory’s political affairs in an unprecedented way. Brazenly exploiting a technicality, and to the extreme, it barred two young legislators-elect who advocate for greater freedoms for Hong Kong from taking their seats.

The night before, demonstrators had briefly turned the cramped area around Beijing’s Central Liaison Office in Hong Kong into a battleground reminiscent of the worst of the 2014 protests, replete with police batons and tear gas. They had anticipated the bomb that was about to go off: By interfering in a case against two lawmakers brought by the Hong Kong government before a local court, Beijing demonstrated with one single gesture that it was ready to quash any electoral outcomes in Hong Kong that displeased it, to subordinate Hong Kong’s legislature to its executive branch and to subdue its judiciary, which has a reputation for independent-mindedness.

Hong Kong voters breached a floodgate in September with the election for the local legislature, known as LegCo, and now Beijing wants to close it at all costs. A group of young candidates with separatist leanings won half a dozen seats in LegCo, having campaigned on platforms that went well beyond what protesters in the Umbrella Movement ever demanded — from rewriting the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution since 1997, in order to cement Hong Kong’s autonomy, to self-determination or even outright secession from China. Last week, the empire struck back [read on]…

But can our government resist the lure of the lucre, especially with Donald Trump elected, the TPP dead and NAFTA apparently in the balance:

Chinese business leaders laud ‘golden era’ for Canadian relations

Canada, China at dawn of golden decade [at Chicom mouthpiece, Global Times]
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Oh, that cuddly panda.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Spookery Today, Especially SIGINT and Cyber Stuff

The Economist focuses almost solely on the US and UK amongst Western countries (several graphics):

Special report: Espionage

Espionage

Shaken and stirred

Technology

Tinker, tailor, hacker, spy

Governance

Standard operating procedure

Edward Snowden

You’re US government property

China and Russia
[a few other countries mentioned]

Happenstance and enemy action

How to do better

The solace of the law

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – The Jews, the Holocaust and Poland, Then and Now (and much more)

First a tweet,

plus a post last year:

Jedwabne: A Murderous July 1941 Polish Pogrom–and God?

Then an article at the NY Times Magazine on Poland today more broadly:

The Party That Wants to Make Poland Great Again
In just a year, Law and Justice has shown how a far-right nationalist government in Europe really governs — and how far it can push the limits of democracy.

What liberal “end of history“? And very relevant to the holocaust:

Endlösung

Jews, Twentieth Century Pius Popes and Mussolini

What’s an Intellectual Romanian Jew to do Before WW II?

Boden wenn nicht Blut: Horrible Heidegger, Nazism and Now

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds