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Pics: Anti-war protesters burn US flag in Dublin city centre

THE IRISH ANTI-War Movement (IAWM) held a demonstration this evening to protest US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit.

Clinton is visiting to attend an OSCE meeting in Dublin with foreign ministers to discuss cooperation in promoting peace, human rights and economic growth.

Earlier today the IAWM said the protest was called to draw attention to the contradictions between the stated aims of the OSCE regarding concerns for human rights and security and the actions of many of the participating countries.

Protesters were stopped from marching to Dublin castle where Clinton and the visiting foreign ministers are being hosted at a dinner.

Gardaí said this evening that no one was arrested at the demonstration which has been described as small in numbers.

via Pics: Anti-war protesters burn US flag in Dublin city centre.

via Pics: Anti-war protesters burn US flag in Dublin city centre.

Diamonds to Dust in Disgust

Blood diamonds fund Israeli war crimes

On Saturday 24th November at 14:30 pm on Grafton Street, Dublin, Anne Clinton, a human rights activist from Limerick, will use a hammer to pulverise the diamond jewellery she got from her husband years ago in a public display of her outrage at jewellers for bankrolling Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

The action takes place just days before members of the Kimberley Process (KP) diamond regulatory system meet in plenary session in Washington to review the definition of a “conflict diamond” which presently excludes cut and polished blood diamonds.

Anne says: “Having learned that diamonds are a major source of funding for the Israeli military which is again mercilessly slaughtering and terrorizing innocent men, women and children in Gaza I can no longer tolerate wearing diamonds. When I look at any diamonds they now remind me of the horrific images of mutilated children in Gaza. What I once thought were symbols of love now have zero emotional appeal – they repulse me. Diamonds are worthless, human life is priceless. I want every woman, every mother, and every sister to think of the children in Gaza, murdered, maimed and terrorized by Israel, funded by over $1 billion per year of revenue from the Israeli diamond industry.”

In 2010, Israeli economist Shir Hever stated: “Overall the Israeli diamond industry contributes about $1 billion annually to the Israeli military and security industries … every time somebody buys a diamond that was exported from Israel some of that money ends up in the Israeli military so the financial connection is quite clear”.

Diamonds are Israel’s most important export commodity, accounting for 30% of manufacturing exports, worth $22 billion in 2011. Even though diamonds from Israel fund the Israeli military which stands accused of war crimes by the Human Rights Council, the jewellery industry allows these diamonds to contaminate the diamond market masquerading as conflict-free diamonds.

Despite numerous calls for jewellers to end the trade all diamonds that fund human rights violations the KP insists the regulations should only apply to rough diamonds thus allowing cut and polished blood diamonds to evade scrutiny. If, as seems likely, the KP plenary refuses to broaden the definition of a “conflict diamond” and continues to allow cut and polished blood diamonds to contaminate the market, consumers can have no confidence in the ethical provenance of any diamonds.

Related Link:

via Diamonds to Dust in Disgust – Indymedia Ireland.

via Diamonds to Dust in Disgust – Indymedia Ireland.

Over 18,000 sign petition demanding equal access to healthcare

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL IRELAND has presented more than 18,000 signatures calling for equal access to healthcare based on income to Leinster House today.

The petition which was organised by Amnesty International Ireland as part of its Right to Health campaign, which holds that everyone in Ireland has the right to health – and that the country committed to this when it became party to the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1989.

The signatories of the petition have called on the Minister for Health to enshrine in law a commitment to provide equal access to healthcare based on the needs of the patient rather than their ability to pay.

Government has set out an ambitious programme of reform. But the reality is that our health system is broken, people are still on waiting lists, and families are struggling to pay their increasing insurance premiums”, Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International in Ireland, said today.

“Access to appropriate, affordable health services is a human right, and one which the Irish public are clearly demanding. Government reforms of the health service must be underpinned by human rights standards, including a legal guarantee that everybody will be able to access healthcare on an equal basis,” he added.

Amnesty International is calling on the Government to set out their plans on universal healthcare reform and to debate them publicly.

The human rights organisation also wants the Government to use the opportunity of the proposed Universal Primary Care Act and the Universal Health Insurance Act to set out clear – and human rights compliant – guiding principles for the health service including universal, equal access to care.

via Over 18,000 sign petition demanding equal access to healthcare.

via Over 18,000 sign petition demanding equal access to healthcare.

Amnesty International launches its Write for Rights Campaign

Katherine Allen is the Director of Amnesty International

As 2012 begins to draw to a close I will once again reflect on the people I have been privileged to meet. This year, two courageous individuals stand out, both indomitable figures in Burma‘s struggle for human rights.

Both Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Zarganar – one of Burma’s most famous comedians who poked fun at the government – dared to stand up and speak out for the people of Burma, and they did so knowing that they faced the prospect of abuse, harassment, arrest and long-term imprisonment. For Amnesty supporters it wasn’t just a privilege to be able to stand with these and other human rights defenders, many of us saw it as a necessity.


So when Zarganar took to the stage of the Secret Policeman’s Ball in New York earlier this year after having had his 59-year prison sentence commuted only a few months before, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi received Amnesty International‘s Ambassador of Conscience Award in Dublin, making her first visit to the UK and Ireland in nearly 25 years, not only was I honoured to meet two of the bravest human rights activists of our time, I was also reminded of the indelible impact which the support and the solidarity of Amnesty activists can have in helping to achieve enduring positive change for others.

This is why I am so delighted that Amnesty International launches its Write for Rights Campaign today. Here is a wonderful opportunity to be able to voice our support and stand with women and men much like Aung San Suu Kyi and Zarganar; women and men who have bravely dared to defend their human rights even at the risk of persecution and harassment.

Featured in this year’s Campaign are the Pussy Riot duo who have been imprisoned for daring to freely express their opinion in Russia. They are currently facing years of imprisonment in arduous conditions in two separate labour colonies.

A brave young women’s movement in Afghanistan called Young Women for Change also features in this year’s Write for Rights Campaign, as does Azza Suleiman, a 49-year-old woman from Egypt who was seriously beaten by security forces in Tahrir Square during the uprising, after she went to the aide of another woman who was being beaten by soldiers. Azza was beaten so badly she now has a fractured skull and suffers from memory loss. This brave woman is now calling for the perpetrators of this abuse to be brought to justice, and we must stand with her.

We must also stand with Hakamada Iwao – one of the world’s longest serving inmates on death row. Hakamada has languished on death row for 44 years in Japan. Amnesty considers his case to have been unfair and is calling for a commutation to his death sentence.

The joy of meeting brave men and women like Zarganar is made all the sweeter in knowing that we have stood shoulder to shoulder with them in their darker days, even though we were thousands of miles away going about our own lives. On the days when it seemed as though there was no hope for them, Amnesty persisted in its support. Amnesty’s Write for Rights Campaign gives thousands of people throughout the UK the chance to send a message of solidarity, whether it be a letter or a card of support, or taking a photo in solidarity. It will only take five minutes to take action, but the impact could last a lifetime.

The days for the likes of Azza and Hakamada may seem dark now. But I urge you to join me in standing in solidarity with them now. Because when we see the success achieved for them, the joy is all the sweet

via Kate Allen: Just Five Minutes to Take Action, the Impact Could Last a Lifetime.

via Kate Allen: Just Five Minutes to Take Action, the Impact Could Last a Lifetime.

‘Schools should decide on ethos v rights’

Schools should be allowed to decide on the right balance between their religious ethos and the rights of staff despite plans to give legal protection to gay or divorced teachers, a Catholic schools leader has said.

Changes were proposed this year to employment law that allow schools, hospitals, and other religious-owned employers discriminate on certain grounds to protect their ethos. Unions representing staff the organisations had been lobbying for such changes.

The Seanad rejected Fianna Fáil senator Averil Power’s bill in May after Justice Minister Alan Shatter said it posed constitutional issues over the rights of religions orders to protect their ethos.

A Department of Justice spokesperson told the Irish Examiner that arrangements are being made to set up the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission as soon as possible and they will be asked to undertake an examination of the issue as a priority task.

However, in an article for the Jesuit journal ‘Studies’, the head of the group representing religious orders and the bishops on education issues says much of the criticism of section 37 of the Employment Equality Act is caused by misinterpretation of its intentions.

via ‘Schools should decide on ethos v rights’ | Irish Examiner.

via ‘Schools should decide on ethos v rights’ | Irish Examiner.

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