ODVV Statements at 24th Session of the Human...
item 3 :Contradiction of unilateral and multilateral sanctions with Right to Development principles
In its first article, the UN General Assembly Declaration on the Right to Development (1986) defines the right to development as follows: "the right to development is n inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realised." In fact the right to development in this definition has roots in the fundamental concepts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two International Conventions.
Respecting different views regarding "justice" and "duty" of the right to development, the ODVV deems this group of rights and part of the Third Generation of Human Rights, and sees it as a "right". From this aspect, not only the right to development is a legal concept, but it is also seen as factors in the realisation of human rights; in a way that we believe that if there is no development or not be in a proportional all inclusive form, the realisation of human rights will rarely take place.
With this approach, whatever is an obstacle in the way of the development of society from five political, civil, economic, social and cultural aspects with the right to development principles, and more importantly, contradicts the two fundamental human rights covenants frameworks.
In fact, examples of the right to development can be seen in may human rights treaties and conventions. Articles 15(2) and 15(4) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, name development as a right Article 15(2) speaks of provisions for the full implementation These commitments include necessary measures for the provision, protection and development and promotion of science and culture. The main pivot is science and culture which must be considered in three stages of protection, development and promotion. 15(4) deals with the recognition of state parties to the covenant of the benefits from encouragement and expansion of cooperation and international communication with regards to science and culturel.
Also the introduction of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women states: "...the full and complete development of a country, the welfare of the world and the cause of peace require the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields " This paragraph considers development in all dimensions, due to a comprehensive concept that with its unique characteristic is not possible without the integrated participation of women.
In many other human rights treaties, wherever there's word of the necessity of mankind to improve and promote children, women, disabled, the elderly and minorities' condition, the necessity for the bringing about of suitable conditions for these situations as "inherent and human rights". For the preservation of human dignity and preservation and bringing about the conditions for a decent life, people have the right to through proportionate - not necessarily equal - enjoy the conditions. With this in mind, the ODVV believes the imposition of unilateral and multilateral sanctions is the blatant violation of the right to development. We believe that sanctions quickly destroy the political, economic, social, cultural and civil infrastructures of a healthy society, and this is in the event that the true reasons behind sanctions, are more political nature than being legal, which will have more destructive effects.
In our view regarding the contradiction of sanctions with the right to development a number of points can be raised:
a) According to paragraph 2 of Article 1 and also paragraph 55 of the Charter of the United Nations, unilateral sanctions in a way have negative effects on the right of the citizens of the target state in the right to self determination. At the same time the punishing sanctions, affect the right to development of the target state, and in the long and short run threaten this right.
b) Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/19/32 (18 April, 2012) clearly bans unilateral coercive measures in the form of economic pressures against a state. Paragraph 3 of the resolution states: "Condemns the continued unilateral application and enforcement by certain powers of such measures as tools of political or economic pressure against any country, particularly against developing countries, with a view to preventing these countries from exercising their right to decide, of their own free will, their own political, economic and social systems:"
Article 9 of the resolution states: "Underlines the fact that unilateral coercive measures are one of the main obstacles to the implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development and, in this regard, calls upon all States to avoid the unilateral imposition of economic coercive measures and the extraterritorial application of domestic laws that run counter to the principles of free trade and hamper the development of developing countries:"
c) In the general opinion presented by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2007 regarding the link between economic sanctions and the respect of economic, social and cultural rights, four rights (right to life, right to enjoyment of suitable living standards (food, housing and medical care), right to freedom from hunger and right to health are deemed as the main measures for the determination of the legality levels of economic sanctions. On this basis, it can be concluded that whenever these sanctions violate one of these rights, their inhumanity and contradiction of sanctions with human rights principles will be more justifiable.
d) The banning of the use of economic and sanctions tools against a state and also criticism of aggressive and non-cooperative approaches have repeatedly and glancingly been mentioned in other international documents. For example the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in articles 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 18 speak of rights such as the right to have fair and suitable working conditions, the right to a decent living and right to food, clothing and adequate housing, education, and a right to enjoy advancement in science and technology, the right to enjoy the benefits of the art. These instances show the importance of these rights and the necessity to respect the most basic relations between states.
The ODVV believes that the important point that must be noted when studying the effects of sanctions on human rights, is the reiteration in many documents on the effects of unilateral (like the ones imposed by the United States against Iran on the pretext of nuclear activities) sanctions on the human rights of the target state. In fact lesser attention has been given to the study of the effects of multilateral (such as the ones imposed by the United Nations Security Council and the European Union against Iran) sanctions within international documents. This is in instances where a state, such as Iran, is subjected to both types of sanctions at the same time, and it makes it impossible to distinguish the effects of negative sanctions on the human rights of the people of Iran, while increasing the bad effects of sanctions, receiving their feedback for neutral international observers is very difficult.
It must not be forgotten the issuing of four sanctions documents alone in 2011, and also 5 sanctions documents in 2012 by the United States, is a record unprecedented in the last three decades. These records have been matched by the EU too, where from the beginning of 2013 the total number of Iranian institutions having sanctions imposed on them 40 and the total number of Iranian nationals who have been sanctioned has reached 105.
It must be said that among the America imposed sanctions, one of the strangest ones, is the new sanctions that were imposed in February 2013, which put pressure on countries that imported oil from Iran, where the money for the purchased oil would be kept in bank accounts in these countries and only be released for purchasing necessary goods for Iran. This factor alongside the numerous problems created by America and the EU in the transfer of money in Iran, has resulted in the import of many vital goods, medicines in particular to be disrupted, and Iran's choice to buy drugs to be restricted to a number of specific countries.
Associating sanctions with the right to development in this statement, the ODVV tied to point out in brief the hidden and visible effects of unilateral and multilateral measures of a limited number of countries against another UN member state, which no body or international document has managed to prove a diversion in the peaceful nuclear activities of Iran. We believe the sanctions have had a huge negative effect on the right to development of the people of Iran; and we call upon the Security Council to adopt a practical measure in the form of a resolution or raising the subject in the Council and review the negative consequences of these measures, and prevent the continuation of the use of these tools to put political pressures on countries.
Item 4 :Unilateral Sanctions are Equal to Human Rights Violations
The imposition of sanctions against Iran by the West, the United States in particular over the recent months on the pretext of Iranian nuclear activities, in such way that not only economic activities, but a major part of the everyday private and social living of the people are affected.
At the same time as the improvement and advancement of general international law and the daily increasing organizing of the international community, the necessity for the gradual transfer of the authority to use punishments from states to international organizations is observed. In fact it is because of this that one of the basic and foundational principles that formed the United Nations, the promotion of friendly relations, controlling any form of bilateral or multilateral tensions, and finding solutions through talks, research and arbitration of disputes between states. Taking a look at the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and hundreds of other international documents over the last seven decades shows that all of the international community's efforts have been the injection of the spirit of cooperation, equality and friendship among nations so that mankind does not have to experience the evils of war again. What is interesting is that in the rich literature of the United Nations, very little is said about the prescription of legitimacy of economic sanctions, often unilaterally and coercively, Exactly the opposite, most of the prescriptions have been with observation of people's rights, referral to arbitration, investigation, fact finding and wisdom, the necessity for increasing international cooperation and avoidance of unilateral coercive measures (economic and military. This factor becomes more highlighted especially if we consider the human rights approach of these documents.
In fact it can be said that paragraph 2 and 55 of Article 1 of the UN Charter, that unilateral sanctions in a way have negative effects on the right to self determination of the target country. Furthermore these punishment and sanctions collectives affect the right to development of the country, and threaten it in the short and long term basis.
Overall, rights such as the right to life, right to enjoyment of good living standards (including food, clothing, housing and medical care), the right to free of hunger, and the right to good health, are some of the stipulated human rights in the Universal Declaration, which during the imposition of general and or unilateral sanctions, greatly have negative effects on the people of the target country.
The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights governed on friendly relations and cooperation between countries in accordance with the UN Charter, were both important steps taken by the international community in reaffirming the importance of friendly relations between nations. Overall with consideration of the fact that the guaranteeing of peace and establishment of friendly relations and cooperation of countries is one of the most important goals of the United Nations, then not only all its member states must avoid threats to use of force in their international relations, but they must also avoid actions that undermine international cooperation.
In any event unilateral coercive sanctions and their effects on the enjoyment of human rights, takes part a vast volume of international human rights documentation. In this regard between 1995 and 2013 there have been 6 UN Secretary General reports, 1 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report, 6 UN Commission on Human Rights reports, and 5 Human Rights Council reports are the basis of the literature on the subject of unilateral coercive measures within the human rights institutions of the UN. In 1989 a resolution entitled Economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries, was drafted by the Countries of the South which in its first proposal received 118 votes for, 23 against and 2 abstains. Until 1995 this resolution alone and after 1996 alongside with the Human Rights and Unilateral Coercive Measure resolution were put to vote in the Third Committee and the UN General Assembly and have always received high votes.
Currently the latest document in this regard is the Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/RES/19/32 of 18 April 2012 which condemns the continued imposition of unilateral measures by some powers as a means of political and economic coercion against a country, particularly developing one.
In spite of the consensus of international organizations in this regard, the United States in the meantime does not stop at these self imposed sanctions, and by using its power, it forces other countries to observe these sanctions which have been devised within US domestic laws. In return this action not only interferes in the domestic affairs of Iran as the country under sanction, but also other countries are also forced to observe internal American laws and join in these sanctions.
Another point that must be noted is that the US Government's position has been that by imposing targeted sanctions, no harm will be done to the people, while this reason solely shows that America does not want to accept responsibility for the grave violation of rights that these sanctions commit, and diverts world public opinion away from the human rights violations that follow these sanctions.
The results of sanctions against the people of Iran are so obvious that American academic studies confirm that sanctions are the main cause in a rise in prices, currency and shortage of goods.
As a nongovernmental organization active in the field of human rights warn about the consequences of the human rights violations from the imposition of sanctions on the people of Iran; and call upon the Human Rights Council to ensure the commitment of western governments, the United States in particular, to international institutions and international law, and avoid the imposition of unilateral sanctions against thepeople of Iran.
Item 4 :Countering the Breeding Grounds of Radical Violence and Terrorism
[Paste your statements text here]Survivors of terrorist acts and families of victims of terrorism have all experienced the state of horror and fear and sustained the pain and sufferings resulted from terrorist attacks. We , reflecting the demands of the victims of terrorism and supporting survivors and families of victims, endeavors to provide the chance for them to attend before public sphere and international assemblies. These victims try to take an active role in the fight against terrorism and supporting victims. Due to the damages they have sustained in terrorist attacks, they pursue their fight against terrorism free from any consideration.
According to the Resolution 49/60 of the UN General Assembly, “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them”. we, along with international laws, condemns any act of terror and recognizes any support voiced for terrorist groups in contradiction with counterterrorism laws and regulations.
Victims of terrorism, beyond the official lists of foreign terrorist organizations, are concerned about the conduct of terrorist organizations and on this basis declare that:
so long as have their pugnacious ideology,
and until they are insisting on their past terrorist background which includes the murder of innocent civilians and taking responsibility of their attacks,
And while are still safeguarding the same agenda for perpetrating terrorist acts stated in their doctrine,
would be still considered terrorist entities.
Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/MKO) has resorted to a lot of violent acts against civilians in order to achieve its political and ideological goals. Keeping its aggressive ideology and cultic nature, this group still emphasizes on its doctrine based on which it used to justify the bombings and terrorist attempts. The propaganda activities and the supports made for this cult at international assemblies is the obvious violation of international laws which all clearly have opposed providing any ground for the activities of terrorist groups.
Violation of counterterrorism laws is waiving the rights of the victims of terrorism. Accordingly, supporting Mojahedin-e Khalq is negligence in countering terrorism and ignoring the rights of victims.
According to the Resolution 60/288 of the UN General Assembly adopted on September 20, 2006, appropriate “measures must be undertaken to prevent and combat terrorism, in particular by denying terrorists access to the means to carry out their attacks”. Despite, what we are witnessing today about the case of Mojahedin-e Khalq is the total admission and encouragement of terrorism. How could it be possible that on one hand, terrorism is defined as a means of weakening and destroying the human rights, freedom and democracy but on the other hand, a group which has a file replete with killing a lot of innocent people is being supported under the name of democracy and freedom and promotion of human rights?
Terrorism targets the values of the democratic societies; the support of Parliament of the European Union and the support voiced by the American senators and officials, are all in contrary to the anti-terrorism laws. It is really an unimaginable pain for the families of victims to observe the support offered for Mojahedin-e Khalq by these parliamentarians. The group which has brutally killed many civilians, children and parents, and even assumed the responsibility of those attacks, not only has not been duly punished for its crimes but also is being backed under a double, instrumental approach on terrorism.
The condemnation of terrorism by parliaments and human rights communities, shows the contradiction of terrorism with the fundamental human principles, human rights and humanitarian law principles, and ultimately the fundamental anti-terror laws principles.
The result of supporting this terrorist group which has perpetrated many inhuman terrorist acts is nothing more than weakening the human rights.
Mojahedin-e Khalq has repeatedly violated the existent values of the UN Human Rights Charter including the laws governing the armed conflicts and protection of civilians. For many years MEK has threatened the peace and security of the human beings and targeted many innocent people.
Accordingly, the international community must conduct the immediate intensive efforts for preventing and combating terrorism. Here, the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy must take into account some critical issues for stopping the perpetration of terrorist acts. It is worth mentioning that for addressing each of these issues, we can refer to certain institutions and agents:
From the United Nations and all MemberStates:
There is a strong connection between terrorism and radical cultic inclinations, in a manner that most of the terrorist groups contain their members in their closed structure through mental indoctrinations and brainwashing methods. Preserving the cultic features and insisting on the ideology which allows them to kill or resort to violence, is a terrible threat against the security of the civilians. States must take effective measures in the face of such a danger and hold an extended approach toward terrorist threats and the grounds for the occurrence of terrorist acts.
Adopting a comprehensive definition of terrorism, The United Nations and member states have to take into account the causes of violence appeared specifically in the form of the cults.
By articulating the concerns of this international entity beyond the relocation of members of Mojahedin-e Khalq and recognizing the cultic relations governing this group, confirmed in many international reports including the Human Rights Watch report (2005) and the RAND Institute report (2009), the UN can provide the ground for the freedom of MEK members from this cultic structure.
The necessity of observing counterterrorism laws and resolutions by Member States:
According to the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/288, the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, before granting asylum, appropriate measures have to be taken by member states, for the purpose of ensuring that the asylum-seeker has not engaged in terrorist activities.
Now how it is possible that countries like Albania and Germany have granted refugee status to the members of this group without any precondition requiring their repentance for their past activities. Even the United Nations has merely focused on the relocation of the group and completely ignored the gross violation of human rights by this group. So, appropriate decisions have to be reached for suppressing the cultic features of these members too. It is worth mentioning that this cultic aspect offers high potential for this group to commit aggressive violent measures.
From the International Committee of Red Cross:
Granting collective asylum to the residents of Camp Liberty, has been the ongoing effort of the leaders of this cult for detaching their members from human rights institutions including the International Committee of Red Cross and therefore protecting the cultic structure of the organization.
Taking necessary steps to return back members of the MEK and reconnecting them with their families is one of the main responsibilities of the ICRC. Considering the existent link between cult and terrorism, ICRC’s efforts in this regard, are considered as a critical move for fighting against terrorism and radical violence.
Countering the breeding grounds of radical violence and terrorism
We believes that transferring members of Mojahedin-e Khalq from Camp Liberty to third countries is a suitable opportunity for concluding the terrible condition of human rights within this cult and releasing members of MEK. For the realization of this objective, the collaboration of human rights bodies like High Commissioner for Refugees is essential.
Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism NGO(s) without consultative status, also share the views expressed in this statement.
Item 6 :The Necessity to Redefine the Importance of the UPR Mechanism
The UPR mechanism is one of the most valuable and lasting tools the international community has designed for the promotion and protection of human rights. The universality of this mechanism all governments in turn are both observers and are observed, and also the effectiveness power of all the actors - governmental and nongovernmental - in the improvement of human rights around the world are increaded, are some of the positive aspects of the UPR mechanism.
It was hoped that this process would gently replace confrontational procedures such as the old releasing resolutions and "naming and shaming" mechanism. It was hoped that the international community's look at the human rights situation of a country would be in the form of a full package, that every four and half years would be given to the country and they get asked to remove their human rights problems in between two rounds by the use of the recommendations provided. The United Nations and the rest of the States were supposed to assist the State under review with a cooperative and conciliatory approach. And help reach human rights high values.
Nevertheless unfortunately not only the universality of UPR has lost its functionality over a period of time, but the strengthening of procedures based on resolutions and increasing pressures from other Council monitoring mechanisms, has also added to further undermine the effects of the UPR. Another new development is that over the last two years the volume of the open letters written by special rapporteurs, individual or collective, to put media pressure on some countries have increased. Letters that are influenced by weak and strong media contents increase or decrease. In fact it seems that in most cases, instead of the rapporteurs making the flows and take the media with them they are thrown around side to side by the media waves.
The ODVV believes the worth and value of the UN's and this Council's human rights monitoring mechanism must be preserved, and must do their utmost to move in the framework of the same package approved by the Council, i.e. the UPR mechanism. This way, over time we shall witness the return of the real worth of the UPR.
Item 7 :Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Territories
[Paste your statements text here]Human rights violation cases against Palestinians in Occupied Territories rise in number each year. On one hand in pursuit of its interests and objectives, Israel targets international organizations with lobbying and its influence, and on the other hand, not only does it not implement international human rights principles and laws, but it acts contrary to them, and is recognized as one of the most certain violators of human rights. This is while they try very hard to draw public opinion and present democratic images of itself.
The deliberating point with regards to Israel’s human rights violations is the condemnations that it receives from international organizations, particularly the Human Rights Council. In spite of these condemnations, Israel continues to violate human rights. As a nongovernmental human rights organization, the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV) recommends that while condemning the Israel’s grave human rights violations, international organizations must bring about ways to investigate these violations and show international legal reaction towards these grave human rights violations committed by Israel. The following are some examples of human rights violations in the Occupied Territories:
- Violation of the right to life: According to human rights organizations’ reports, in the first six months of 2013, the IDF abducted 1719 Palestinians and shot dead another 16.
The IDF extensively show violent and disastrous reactions towards Palestinian peaceful demonstrations against the construction of the security barrier and settlements building. For example, in the West Bank, between March and April this year, the IDF killed two civilians and injured another five which included a child and an Irish journalist. Also in June 3 Palestinians who were involved in peaceful demonstrations against settlements construction and the security barrier were injured.
- Gaza blockade: The daily economic and living conditions of the residents of Gaza following the blockade of the region have greatly been affected by energy threats. Poverty, hygiene and medical problems, family and street fights, mental disorders such as depression, hidden and visible anger, behavioural disorders and etc. are all the results of energy security crisis. The reduction of fuel imports to the Gaza Strip has even caused problems for the people’s cooking. Many hospitals and medical centres cannot provide medical treatment due to power shortages, because they only get 20 percent of the electricity that they need, as a result these centres are closed most days of the week and cannot provide medical services to patients. The energy crisis in Gaza has also noticeably affected the water supplies.
- Palestinian prisoners' conditions: Up to the end of may there were approximately 4800 Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons, 236 of which were children.
Some sources put the figures for July at 6800, 169 of which were under administrative detention, and were in prison without being tried or charged with any crimes. Most of these individuals are residents of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, among which of course there are women and children. The PA's Prisoners' Affairs Ministry announced that there are at least 235 children in Israeli prisons, and among them thee are 35 children below 16.
350 Palestinians in January, 236 in March, 259 in April, 263 in May and 300 in June were abducted and transferred to Israeli prisons. Currently there are 13 Palestinian prisoners on unlimited hunger strikes, and Israeli officials ignore their terrible conditions. Israel has been deemed responsible because of large scale abusive behaviour towards prisoners and must be condemned. The death of Arafat Jeradat in February due to nervous shock and excruciating pain, and injuries as a result of torture and failure to treat him, and also the death of Meysareh Abu Hamdieh in April 2013 are clear examples of the violation of the rights of prisoners committed by Israel.
- Settlements constructions and Jewfication of Jerusalem: The illegal settlements construction by Israel in the Occupied Territories is another clear violation of human rights committed against the Palestinians. It is in such way that the majority of European countries and international organizations have opposed and criticized it; nevertheless, Israel has not stopped this trend, and even within the framework of its claims regarding welcoming peace talks, Israel simultaneously continues the construction of settlements.
The illegal settlement constructions take place while Israel has dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank and detains and interrogates civilians. For example in July this year, around 51 attacks took place against Palestinian assemblies in the West Bank and during this period 15 civilians among which were 8 children (that included one under 5) and 2 civilians from the Gaza Strip were detained at the checkpoints.
- Demolition of homes and confiscation of lands: This is another aspect of Israel's human rights violations committed against Palestinians. In the first three months of 2013, one hundred and fifty-five Palestinian properties were demolished in East Jerusalem and the West Bank making 379 individuals homeless. Nevertheless, the confiscation of Palestinian lands is on the increase. For example in May 2013 final warnings were issued to the residents of Ramoon as part of the confiscation of Palestinian lands by Israel. What is interesting is that the warning meant that no money would be given to the landowners.
- Violation of children's rights: Children are an important part of the concerns of human rights organizations in Occupied Territories. The IDF actions in arresting and imprisoning children near the security barrier and other regions is the violation of article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Also by failing to do its duty to create a safe and healthy environment for the children of Gaza Strip and military attacks against their schools, Israel violates article 24 of the same Convention, and endangers the mental health of children. It is estimated that in the last 10 years, Israel has imprisoned 7000 Palestinian children between 12 and 17 or been subjected to interrogation. On this basis in the time period from January 2010 to March 2013 there were 14 instances of the use of children as human shields or forced to spy by the IDF were reported to human rights organizations. According to latest until June 2013, 193 Palestinian children were detained or under investigation, 41 of which were between the ages of 12 and 15. It can be said that there's been a 14.6 percent drop compared to the previous year, nevertheless this figure is still the highest in the last 3 years.
- Violation of Palestinian women's rights: Women's conditions in Palestine is one of the most blatant violations of human rights in the Occupied Territories. In a ceremony in commemoration of the International Women's Day on 8 March which was held at the United Nations, two videos were shown on Palestinian women's conditions. The effects of extensive demolition of homes and administrative detentions on Palestinian women's mental and physical conditions were points the video clips had concentrated on. Mental and physical pressures and problems in every day life were subjects discussed by the women interviewed in the clips.
- Freedom of expression: Journalists in the Occupied Territories are subjected to abuse just for speaking the truth. This only means cracking down on the truth, freedom of speech and silencing of the media in preventing journalists from doing their jobs.
NEDA Institute for scientific and political research NGO(s) without consultative status, also share the views expressed in this statement.
Item 9 :The Need for Renewed Attention to the Islamophobia Phenomenon
Islamophobia can be described a enmity and hatred towards them or illogical fear from Muslims. This definition includes discrimination against Muslims in the form of rejecting them from political, economic, social and public life, believing in the subjugation of Islam and Muslims towards the West and the assumption of Islam being a political and violent ideology and not a religion.
In 1996, An independent policy research organisation focusing on equality and justice through the promotion of a successful multi-ethnic society, Runnymede Trust published "Islamophobia: A Challenge for us all" in which as well as the above definition of Islamophobia, it also puts discrimination against Muslims n the form of depriving them from a natural economic, social and public life in this circle.
Although Islamophobia is not a very new phenomenon, but since the early 00s most western societies have been witness to the noticeable expansion of Islamophobia, and many deem the turning point was the 9/11 attacks and a general increase in hating immigrants in these societies. Nevertheless, the influence of Islsamophobic networks in public decision making processes and mainstream media, wrong policies and literature of some western governments towards Muslims, relative use of Islamophobic mentalities in the western media (in comparison to other forms of xenophobia), and historical negative views of Islam and Muslims all have played important roles and created an environment of anti-Islamic sentiments in these societies.
For example according to a poll in 2010, only 37 percent of Americans had positive views of Islam, and according to another poll in the same year around one third of American voters believed that Muslims should not be allowed to run for president. This trend is on the rise in America, to an extend that in 2011 Americans' positive views towards Islam has dropped to 30 percent.
According to the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, regarding intolerance, prejudice and discrimination in Europe also, often times Europeans do not have positive views of Muslims and Islam, a trend that is stronger in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, with France, Britain and the Netherlands ranking next.
This negative view has resulted in the formation of extremist groups in America and Europe, who have been campaigning to increase pressure on Muslims and also justify their aggressive policies. According to a report called "The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism", these groups in America use the following eight guidelines to create suspicion against Islam as a religion and the Muslim community in America:
Strategy One: Frame Muslim-Americans as dangerous to America
Strategy Two: Twist statistics and use fake research to “prove” the Muslim threat
Strategy Three: Invent the danger of “creeping Sharia”
Strategy Four: “Defend liberty” by taking freedoms away from Muslims
Strategy Five: Claim that Islam is not a religion
Strategy Six: Maintain that Muslims have no First Amendment rights under the Constitution
Strategy Seven: Link anti-Muslim prejudice to anti-Obama rhetoric
Strategy Eight: Claim an “unholy alliance” exists that includes Muslims and other groups targeted by the Right Wing
Overall Islamophobia can be defined as a world view with a view based on unreasonable hatred of Islam and Muslims which ends in rejection, deprivation, discrimination and written, spoken and practiced violence against them. The roots of these attitudes existed prior to the 9/11 attacks, and the assumption of Islamophobia being solely a product of these attacks is unrealistic. Just as reducing it to racist tendencies of west's extremists groups is not credible.
Nonetheless, Islamophobia turned more visible and aggressive following the 9/11 attacks and it was during this period that the terms "Islamic terrorism" or "Jihadist terrorism" found new places. The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) the 9/11 attacks gave a new life to enmity towards Muslims, and increased hatred and violence, violence that went farther than just physical violence, and in a more extensive form and in the form of a bad image, verbal abuse and appears in an atmosphere of created fear. The findings of this report stresses on the "deep and rooted nature of Islamophobia and Xenophobia" and shows that anti-Islamic trends have numerous resources and have different outwardly examples.
But alongside Islamophobia there is another creeping disaster called sectarian tensions on the rise, especially in the Middle East region, a clear example of which is the rise in Salafist ideology. This has resulted in a rise in the last few months in the number of sectarian attacks in unrest regions such as Syria, Iraq or Egypt against Christian and particularly Shia minorities by religious extremists. In fact after years of historical efforts to marginalise the Shia in the regional countries, after years of international organizations turning their blind eyes, have now turned into official policies of religious extremists, and a number of ME regional governments such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. For example during its years of rule in Iraq, the Baathist regime - despite being secular - had turned the Shia majority population of the country to a marginalised community. Discrimination against the Shia escalated when following the 1991 uprising, the Saddam Hussein regime began its organized crackdown on the Shia. Following the fall of Saddam, Al Qaeda and its regional backers, with the reasoning that the Shia government of Iraq cooperates with Washington, they turned it into a part of their anti-American war. As a result bombings began in Shia towns in Iraq began, and the Shia holies shrines and hundreds of their pilgrims became victims of Al Qaeda and its regional supporters' violence in such way that the Shia turned into the main victims of sectarian violence in Iraq.
Pakistan is another country that has witnessed a gradual rise in sectarian tensions over the last two decades. Over the recent years the killing of Shias has taken a new form and routine. Some of the examples of the killing of the Shia in Pakistan is the bombing in 2008 that left 45 dead, the 2009 Karachi bombing that left 46 dead, the 2010 bombing of a religious ceremony that left 49 dead, the Kowaiteh bombing in 2010 on Quds Day that left 80 dead, the suicide bombing in Pachenar in 2012 that left 50 dead. It is clear that the terror attacks against the Shia which is a noticeable minority in the country takes place on a daily and weekly basis, and the aforementioned only include the big terror attacks.
The Shia minority in Saudi Arabia who live in the biggest province (Al-Sharqia) of the country, have almost all the country's oil in their regions; a wealth that in comparison to non-Shia citizens they benefit less from. The Shia sect in Arabia, which is one of the oldest sects in the country is not even recognised as an official Islamic sect by the Saudi rulers, and therefore the Shia are deprived from the benefits of other monotheist religions (Judaism and Christianity) in the country, and most often are deemed Kafirs (infidels) by the Wahabi religious leaders who have the official religious body under their control and consult and advise the king.
Another important regional country that has sectarian tension on the rise is Bahrain, a country with a majority 80 percent Shia population under the rule of the Al-Kahalifa Shia minority and discrimination takes place in various forms. The Sunni minority in Bahrain has all regime high political positions in its hands, and the Shia are only hired in the lowest echelons of power. The security and military forces of the country is in the hands of the minority. Under these conditions political crackdown turns into sectarian crackdown, and the majority are marginalised and alongside being deprived of the benefits of the minority, are cracked down and do not have the right to any form of dissent.
Therefore with a brief review of the political and regime situation in the Middle East the high potentials for sectarian tension among the people of the region can be noticed. The ODVV believes that if international human rights bodies had timely intervened and taken proper measures against religious extremism, the roots of most of these problems would have been dried both in the Middle East and the West. The United Nations failure in timely and genuine concentration on the subject of dialogue among civilizations and religions, and also failure in serious confrontation with any form of insulting individuals religions, and failing to clarify the boundaries between freedom of expression and defamation have all resulted in most of these dormant processes to rejuvenate again.
Our NGO believes that if the Human Rights Council does not take resolute action that is away from political observations and tendencies against these evil phenomena, in the coming years cases of human rights violations due to sectarian and religious tensions will take the number one spot at the Council.