Glasgow stands up for Saudi blogger – Raif Badawi

Press Release for Immediate Use

The Glasgow based human rights organisation Global Minorities Alliance (GMA) has called on the Scottish Government for immediate intervention for the release of the imprisoned Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi.  
 
Mr Badawi has become an icon for the human right to freedom of expression after being imprisoned for posting his views on Islam on the website “Free Saudi Liberals”. The 31-year-old blogger was sentenced by Saudi authorities in May 2014 to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and a major fine. Last week Mr Badawi was awarded with first Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech award, among host of other awards conferred upon him from the world over.
 
A vigil in support of Mr Badawi’s release was held by local human rights activists which was also attended by  Anne McLaughlin MP, members Global Minorities Alliance, Amnesty International, the Scottish Secular Society as well as members of the wider public in Glasgow’s busy Buchanan Street at noon time on July 4 2015.
Vigil attendees call for release of Raif Badawi

Vigil attendees call for release of Raif Badawi

 
Anne McLaughlin, MP for Glasgow North East and SNP Spokesperson in Westminster for Civil Liberties supported  the vigil and termed Mr Badawi’s lashing as ‘torture’ since thousand lashes are to be carried out in 20 sets of 50 lashes to let wounds heal in between. She further expressed her concern over the lack of pressure towards the Saudi treatment of Mr Badawi and his supporters.
 
Global Minorities Alliance urged both International and local human rights organisations, activists and civil society to force a more robust response and to increase Saudi Government not only to halt the lashing but to release Mr Raif Badawi.
 
Encouraging the attendees of the vigil to uphold any effort to free Mr Badawi, Global Minorities Alliance vice-chairperson Shahid Khan said: 
 
“We believe that every human being has a fundamental right to express their opinion which is also enshrined in the United Nations Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’ and stressed that Saudia Arabai being a key member of United Nations must honour its UN treaties.”
 
“We as GMA defend the right of all persecuted and oppressed communities around the world and stand in solidarity with Raif Badawi and his family and all those voices around the world who have been advocating the freedom of Raif which has been denied to him because of his liberal views on Islam and call for his immediate release’
 
“Our thoughts are with Mr Badawi’s family that is facing this challenge with a hope in hearts and we continue to support Mr Badawi’s courageous wife, Ensaf Haider and her children at this difficult times of their lives”, said Mr Khan. 
 
Elham Manea, associate Professor of Political Science at Zurich University and an ardent supporter of Raif Badawi, said in a message to Global Minorities Alliance ahead of the vigil: 
 
“Raif Badawi is a symbol – a symbol for the right to freedoms of opinion and expression. The vigil sends a message to the world that these freedoms are not and should not be circumcised in the name of culture and religion. They are universal. Men and women are paying a high price all over the world in their own countries to guarantee these rights. The vigil sends out the message that these fights concern us all.”

 

 
The highlights of the vigil can been found on Global Minorities Alliance Facebook Page here https://goo.gl/Pon01d
Ends

Romania: Conference on Roma Rights

 SO KERES, EUROPA? – What’s up Europe?

“In Europe, a lot of young Roma need to fight against stereotypes and discrimination every day. It is time for us to claim our space and build a movement of Roma in Europe!”, says Alexandra Bahor, a young Romni from Romania. 

  

Around 300 young Roma and Non-Roma youth activists and youth leaders from more than 15 European countries are expected to brought together for a multifaceted program, including workshops, interactions with the local communities and a public event in Cluj-Napoca. The city was selected to hold the title of the European Youth Capital 2015 – A considerable occasion to raise the voice of Roma youth on a European level!

Cluj-Napoca stands in the centre of our event for a very specific reason: On 17 December 2010, 76 families were forcibly evicted without adequate notice by local authorities from Coastei Street in the centre of the city of Cluj-Napoca. No consultation with the affected families took place prior to the eviction and no feasible alternatives to the eviction were explored. Forty of these families were relocated to inadequate housing conditions on the outskirts of the city (in Pata Rat), close to the city’s garbage dump and a former chemical waste dump, while the remaining families were left without alternative housing. We want to share the interests of the communities and show solidarity!

The idea is to offer a platform to young people to express themselves, their knowledge and ideas. Not only topics such as the Holocaust and especially Transnistria will stand in the centre of attention but also questions around Europe, identity and discrimination. The arts will not lose out either: Singing and dance workshops as well as street music and graffiti are part of the activities. The knowledge and discussions will find their expression through 48-hour-actions and the initiative and the engagement of the Changemakers. In Cluj, the participants create their own projects and will find the space to raise awareness for curical issues and a topics. During the event-week fun and relaxation will not come too short: Open discussions, jam sessions and

The initiators of the event are Phiren Amenca, a Roma organisation based in Budapest and the Platform of Former Volunteers. The latter is a new project by Phiren Amenca for former and current volunteers of the organisation who want to actively engage and exchange experience and knowledge after or during a voluntary service. The Platform is an open space for the development of projects and exchange that are initiated by its members.

For   any   further   information   please   visit   our   homepage    www.sokeres.eu,   facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/So-keres-Europa-Changemakers-Movement/757536637694223? Email: ereseuropa.mediateam@gmail.com

Source: http://www.sokeres.eu/

Refugee Week 2015: celebrate!

refugee weekBy GMA

There are lots of reasons for sadness this year’s #RefugeeWeek. According to Refugee Action, there are now more refugees worldwide than ever before; one in every 122 people worldwide is displaced from their home, and someone is forced to flee every two seconds. This year, more than 1,800 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean, and more people set out into the unknown everyday.

And yet the theme for this year’s Refugee Week is celebrate. Why? Because behind all the sadness (and behind all the media scaremongering about ‘migrants’ which cannot see the story behind a refugee’s flight) there is something else which needs to be grasped – that is, that #RefugeesContribute.

There’s the journey, there’s the fight to be recognised as being in need of protection, and then there’s integration into often new ways of life in a new country. It’s a process which requires resilience to get by, and this resilience often leads to refugees contributing way more back to a country than they supposedly ‘take’, as these images show:

10360624_10153949505249377_3448472978362496321_n 10563098_10153949505259377_1259230812819714048_n 1461295_10153949505269377_2926693228431033240_n 11061240_10153949505279377_8726795237543755324_n 11401350_10153949505359377_934134908733752965_nAs well as these famous refugees and industries which sprang out of refugee communities, there are many thousands of refugees across the UK trying to make their new country a better place, as #RefugeeWeek shows.

#RefugeeWeek in Scotland has become such a large cultural event that this year (which is also the Scottish Refugee Council’s 30th anniversary) it became a Refugee Festival instead. More than 100 events across many different mediums (theatre, comedy, film, art, music, family events, community events, discussions, workshops, etc) celebrated what a diverse and welcoming place Scotland can be. The photos from the Welcome Tent which was erected in the city centre – which can be viewed here – show how positive the messages about refugees can be when celebration (rather than persecution) is focused on.

The world can be a dark place for people seeking safety at the moment, full of war and danger and discrimination. The news gets worse and worse; but that doesn’t stop refugees from finding safety, and succeeding against the odds.

So this year, for Refugee Week, celebrate the contributions refugees have made – and think about the contributions refugees will continue to make to our country.