– 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.
– 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.
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.