A Snapshot from Poland

JANUSZ PALIKOT, A BUSINESSMAN AND POLITICIAN. PHOTO: REPORTER DZIENNIKA INTERNETOWEGO. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS– Human Rights, Religion and Politics

When it comes to human rights, and the lack thereof, it is usually dictatorships in other parts of the world that come to mind. It is easy to forget that these complex questions may just as well surface in Europe; for example Poland, a stable democracy with strong Catholic roots, also has some human rights issues on the political agenda, much due to incompatibility between cultural-religious traditions and the contemporary, more liberal trends in human rights.

The Palestinian Refugee

ROOFTOPS OF ASKAR REFUGEE CAMP. NABLUS, WEST BANK. PHOTO: MICHAEL LOADENTHAL. FLICKR– 63 YEARS OF CONTINUOUS STRUGGLE

By May 15, 1948, the Zionists’ militia forced approximately 700,000 Palestinians (1) to leave their homes in the historic land of Palestine. Currently there are over 4.7 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, and the passing of time has not weakened their struggle for getting the right of return. As an example, on May 15, 2011, many Palestinian refugees from Lebanon were killed, and another 120 were injured, by Israeli forces during demonstrations at the Lebanese border.The Israeli forces fired towards Palestinian demonstrators who were protesting by throwing stones from Lebanon and trying to raise the Palestinian flag on the border. Referring to Palestinian refugees, Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion said that “the old will die and the young will forget”. Recently, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outright refused discussion of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. 

Failure of the Greek Asylum System

Asylum-seekers, being in that vulnerable position, could be seen as the subject par excellence of the human rights and most in need of a grid of protection. And to be sure, again and again their rights are violated. In Europe, a grim record of human rights violations, in the wake of the Dublin II regulation and the failure of the Greek asylum system, is being exposed. The human rights institutions have been harsh in their critique, but what has been achieved?

On 21 september 2010, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) declared the asylum situation in Greece a “humanitarian crisis”. The situation has been problematic for a long time. A large number of reports speak of a malfunctioning asylum system, unable to effectively determine the asylum claims being made, and a systematic practice of detaining asylum seekers for periods ranging from a few days to a few months without adequate information given as to the reasons for detention. Furthermore the detention facilities are reported as being overcrowded, unsanitary, and lacking in ventilation, mattresses and access to toilets.

Euro Orphans

“‘EURO-ORPHANS’. ‘EURO’ BECAUSE THE PROBLEM IS ESPECIALLY FREQUENT IN THE NEWLY EU-AFFILIATED COUNTRIES.” PHOTO: DSB NOLA. FLICKR

Over the past 20 years, Central Eastern Europe has been characterized by major historical events that have ultimately led up to great changes in the regions economical, political and social structures. The entry of numerous Eastern European states into the EU has facilitated for people to travel and move to other states. As there are still great inequalities between West and East, rich and poor, many Eastern Europeans decide to invest their life savings into building themselves and their children a better life at the opposite side of Europe. What is left unknown and rarely spoken of is that thousands of Eastern European children, the “Euro-orphans”, ultimately pay the highest price.

Quiet Diplomacy – An Adequate Method or a Shot in the Dark

MANIFESTATION IN STOCKHOLM. PHOTO: MARIA NYGREN.

There are currently three Swedish journalists being held captive abroad: Dawit Isaak in Eritra and Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye in Ethiopia. How effective is the present tactic of quiet diplomacy and what does the journalistic community think about this as a way of negotiating for the Swedish journalists’ freedom?