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OSCE Vienna 2013 – Repudiate the Cairo Declaration

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 22, 2013

Published on Saturday, 20 July 2013

This is the seventh in a series of posts on this week’s OSCE “Supplementary Human Dimension” meeting in Vienna. More will be coming in the next few days. See the reference to a list of links at the bottom of this post for previous articles.

The following paper (official pdf version) was filed at today’s OSCE meeting in Vienna by International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA). It calls for the repudiation of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam as having no relevance to what Western nations or the OSCE identify as human rights.

Note: The abbreviation “pS” in the text below is short for “participating State(s)”

OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting

Rule of Law in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Vienna, July 12th 2013

Session II: Effective National and International Instruments to protect human rights and prevent human rights violations: Best practices, current challenges and solutions

In reference to the excellent discussion of the universality of human rights, ICLA wants to draw attention to a deficiency in this field that can easily and usefully be corrected.

Before we can discuss effective national and international human rights, we need to define the terms unambiguously.

As most here would know, we have two main definitions of human rights, the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the European Human Rights Convention, both sound human rights instruments.

However, a third and potentially dangerous alternative definition exists, sponsored by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), namely the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. This declaration, originally drafted by the Iranian theocratic regime, makes each and every right subject to Islamic law, also known as Sharia. This, in turn, negates the very notion of inalienable individual rights and several other essential values.

The Cairo Declaration is recognized as a so-called “regional instrument” by the United Nations, but rarely, if ever, used or referred to. It is thus functionally redundant, yet its approval creates an unneeded and potentially dangerous ambiguity in the formal definition of the human rights. For Sharia is incompatible with democracy and fundamental human rights, as stated in 2003 by the European Court of Human Rights, and thus the Cairo Declaration is equally incompatible with any meaningful definition of human rights, as well as with several OSCE commitments.

Thus, to avoid willful misinterpretations of what “human rights” refer to, it would be good for the protection of human rights defenders to have the Cairo Declaration explicitly repudiated by those OSCE pS that also hold membership of the OIC. If they do not do so, they should provide a detailed justification for keeping this declaration on the books, and the intended use of it.

ICLA thus recommends that:

  • OSCE makes a statement that the Cairo Declaration has no relevance to its understanding of human rights.
  • OSCE pS that are also members of OIC explicitly repudiate the Cairo Declaration as being of no relevance, now or in the future, for the interpretation of “human rights”.

Source: Right Side News


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Following the current developments in Egypt, the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) issued the statement

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 17, 2013

10/07/2013  | The Commission follows with deep concern and regret the tragic clashes and bloodshed in Egypt over the past week, and deplores all forms of violence and attacks on private and public property, as well as places of worship.

While it reaffirms the need to ensure freedom of expression, including through peaceful demonstrations, for all Egyptians alike without fear for safety, or of reprisal, the Commission strongly condemns all those who have made the situation in Egypt escalate into violence and loss of life.

The Commission reminds that the sanctity of human life is highly revered in all religions, and that the Holy Quran teaches that the unjust deprivation of the right to life of an individual is same as the killing of all people. Islam also commands to respect other’s freedom of religion. Under international human rights law, no derogation from these universal rights may be permitted.

Whereas it reiterates that it is the obligation of States to promote and protect the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, the Commission reasserts that the exercise of these rights has to be carried out in conformity with the law at all times, so as to preserve public safety and order as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Commission also reaffirms States’ obligation to ensure that no one shall be deprived of his or her liberty except on such grounds, and in accordance with such procedure, as are established by the law.

The Commission welcomes the pledge of the Egyptian Interim Authorities to uphold their responsibilities in this regard and to reinstate respect for the rule of law, and it calls upon the latter to ensure the freedom of the media, as well as the early restoration of constitutional democracy.

The Commission also welcomes the recently initiated inclusive dialogue, and encourages all parties and political forces in Egypt to constructively engage in this process, confident that it will enhance peaceful national reconciliation efforts while laying the foundations of a pluralistic society, based on sound democratic institutions, and wherein human rights for all are wholly observed and protected.

The Commission unequivocally supports the right of the Egyptian people to determine their future in their continuous and legitimate quest for development, freedom and social justice, and their right to choose their new leadership through free and transparent elections. It further calls upon the international community to fully respect the free will of the Egyptian people, without interference in the internal affairs of the country. It also underlines that support for the ongoing national reconciliation efforts at this critical moment could not be overemphasized.

As the Holy Month of Ramadan begins, Muslims in Egypt are once more reminded of the true nature of Islam, which instructs them to be compassionate towards each other, and tolerant towards others. All parties and factions in Egypt are urged to resort to calm, hence allowing for the creation of an amicable environment necessary to maintain social peace and cohesion. Exercising maximum restraint and the immediate cessation of all acts of violence and incitement to hatred and violence are imperative to turn over the pages of recent history once and for all.


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OIC urges UN chief to ‘do more’ to curb anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 11, 2013

UNITED NATIONS, July 11 (APP): Representatives of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have urged United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN member states to do more to persuade the Government of Myanmar to stem the tide of violence against Muslims in that South East Asian country. Authorities in the South-east Asian country had so far failed to end what amounted to genocide against Muslims, said Roble Olhaye, OIC Chairman and Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the United Nations. Expressing deep concern over the intolerable and unacceptable violence that had left some 130,000 Muslims displaced and living in pitiful conditions, he said it was the Myanmar Government’s responsibility to protect its people, no matter their background or religion.
Ambassador Abdallah Yahya Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of SaudiArabia, joined Ambassador Olhaye in stressing that the anti-Muslim violence was occurring at a time when Myanmar was enjoying improved diplomatic relations with the rest of the world, and its democratic progress was attracting significant attention.
Despite that progress, however, the Government cannot be allowed to turn a blind eye to egregious violations of human rights against one people, Olhaye emphasized.
He said he had just returned from a meeting with the Secretary-General andhis Special Adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, and had asked them to take a more forceful position in calling on the Myanmar Government to shoulder its responsibility for ending the violence.
Myanmar is having a honeymoon with the world, Al-Mouallimi said, adding,however, that the honeymoon was being built on the bodies of Muslim victims throughout the country. The world could not be swept up by democratic progress in Myanmar if it did not include full rights for Muslims.
The atrocities went beyond the persecuted Rohingya people to affect Muslimsthroughout the country, he said, adding that “we cannot accept that what is happening represents the great Buddhist people”.
It was incumbent upon the Government of Myanmar to protect Muslims and to ensure their right to work, to live safely and to perform their religious rites.
Echoing the call on the Secretary-General to make his voice heard more loudly on the issue, the Saudi ambassador emphasized:  “We have no intentions of standing on the side and watching this process take place without any action”.
He called upon powerful actors, including the United States, the European Union and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), to exercise their influence and ensure that ethnic cleansing in Myanmar was put to an immediate end.
Several waves of clashes between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, the first of which occurred in June 2012, have affected hundreds of thousands of families, mostly Muslims, in the country’s western region. Some 140,000 people, mostly Rohingya, remain displaced in Rakhine and tens of thousands of others have fled by boat.
Asked what more the United Nations system could do to prevent violence in Myanmar, Olhaye replied that the United Nations is part and parcel of the international community that is helping in the reform and democratization process in that country.
As the conscience of the world, the Organization must speak out more loudly in exerting pressure on the Government to stop the violence. There is a lot more that the Secretary-General and the United Nations can do, Al-Mouallimi added, calling, in particular, for efforts to engage personally with the President of Myanmar.
Asked what more the ‘Group of Friends on Myanmar’ could do to end the violence, he said there had so far been a failure to reach agreement on a Human Rights Council resolution condemning the atrocities against Myanmar’s Muslims.
Recalling that his country had joined the consensus in 2012, when the General Assembly had voted to recognize democratic developments in Myanmar, he said it had done so on the understanding that sufficient recognition would be given to the plight of Muslims there.
“We are still waiting,” he said. Indeed, it was not enough to insist on the basic structures of democracy; ending killings and persecution was a far more basic requirement of democracy.
When asked about the type of support that the OIC intended to provide to Muslims in Myanmar, Al-Mouallimi said it had offered to send a humanitarian team and to provide assistance to the victims, but those offers had been rejected by the Government. He called on the international community to ensure that such efforts were better received in the future.
Asked specifically about the Security Council’s inaction on the situation, Olhaye said the OIC’s next stop would be a meeting with Council members that would take place very soon. “We shall see, face-to-face, what will transpire out of those discussions”.
Source: APP

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OIC urges UN to help Myanmar Muslims

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 11, 2013

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has called on the UN to make more efforts to end the tyranny that Muslims are facing in Myanmar.

During a Wednesday meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, OIC envoys said that the UN should put pressure on Myanmar’s government to resolve problems the Rohingya Muslim community is facing in the country. 

“Myanmar is having a honeymoon with the world. The only problem is that that honeymoon is being built on the bodies of the Muslim victims in that country,” said Saudi ambassador to the UN Abdullah al-Mouallemi. 

Hundreds of Rohingyas have been killed and thousands displaced in attacks by extremist Buddhists in Myanmar over the past year. 

Roble Olhaye, Djibouti’s UN ambassador and head of the OIC group at the UN, described the anti-Muslim attacks in the country as “ethnic cleansing.”

“The Myanmar authorities are failing to take the necessary measures to stem the violence,” he added at a press conference with Mouallemi.

“What we need from the UN is to have its voice heard loud and clear, being the conscience of the world,” Olhaye said. 

The Saudi envoy to the UN also stated that the UN chief had pledged to do more in defending the rights of Rohingya Muslims. “There is a lot more that the UN can and should do,” Mouallemi said. 

“We called on the secretary general to interfere to make his voice heard more loudly.” 

“The most basic human rights and human values are being stepped upon by the current government and by the radical elements within Myanmar,” Mouallemi added.

“There has to be an end to the killing, that is much more basic, there has to be an end to the persecution, to the tyranny that this population is facing,” he said. 

The Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar accounts for about five percent of the country’s population of nearly 60 million. The persecuted minority has faced torture, neglect, and repression since Myanmar’s independence in 1948. 

Thousands of Rohingyas in the western state of Rakhine are deprived of citizenship rights, becoming vulnerable to acts of violence, expulsion, and displacement. 

Source: Press TV

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Malala’s Lessons for the Muslim World

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 11, 2013

by Amb. Ufuk Gokcen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, United Nations

In 2009, Malala Yousafzai, a seventh grade student in the Swat district of Pakistan, made headlines around the world for exposing the inequities that young girls faced under the Taliban in her hometown of Mingora. She has become a symbol of peace through her continued advocacy for education of girls in her region and has been recognized by governments around the world for her important advocacy.

On Oct. 9, 2012, gunmen stopped a bus taking students home from school, asked for Malala Yousafzai by name, and shot her in the head.

In phone interviews following the attack, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban cited her role as an “advocate for the West” as the reason for her targeting and vowed to target her again if she survived.

The Pakistani Taliban is now resorting to other deplorable methods of intimidation by throwing acid on the faces of girls who seek education. The Taliban in Afghanistan has used the same scare tactics.

As the world reels in the face of such senseless brutality, it is easy to generalize the underlying ignorance and intolerance that motivated this attack to the rest of the Muslim world. The perceived rejection of “Western” values by this group of extremists can leave the impression that we are seeing the beginning of a new kind of despotism threatening the rights and lives of anyone who stands up for these values.

The OIC General Secretariat, the newly established OIC Independent and Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), and around 50 Pakistani Ulema were among those condemning the cowardly act of shooting Malala as un-Islamic. However, at the grass roots level, civil society institutions of the OIC member countries, including women and youth, NGOs and clergy, should be more pro-active and vocal.

The small group of extremists, in contrast to 1.5 billion mainstream Muslims, can not represent any Islamic tradition. However, there is a danger. If not challenged, these inhuman terror methods could be emulated elsewhere, such as West Africa and Sahel.

Saudi commentator Tariq Maeena underlined in his op-ed published by the Gulf News that what was indeed disturbing was the absence of forceful rejection by established Islamic religious institutions and figures of such twisted practices and values. Is it possible not to agree? It is high time that ignorant and twisted minds hijacking and misinterpreting the Islamic values are confronted and challenged forcefully by the highest religious authorities.

At the intergovernmental level, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has taken the lead to improve the rights and opportunities of women within its member states. One of the central tenets of the OIC’s Ten-Year Programme of Action is the advancement of women’s rights.

Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the OIC, reinforced the importance of equality and opportunity for women saying, “Women are an important segment of our societies … Their advancement in all the areas is therefore imperative to achieve sustainable and balanced development, and to bring progress and prosperity in society.”

The OIC’s work on behalf women’s rights have included the formation of the OIC Department of Family Affairs which addresses the issues of women, youth, and children and the creation of an Islamic Network of Women Scientists which encourages a greater involvement of women in both scientific and technological fields. The OIC has also partnered with the United States Departments of State and Health as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, civil society, and other international organizations to reduce the mortality rate of women during childbirth and to ensure children’s health during the first month of their life.

Additionally, the OIC made the historic decision to establish the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) in June 2011. Not only does the mission of the IPHRC encourage the placement of women on the Commission, but it has made the rights of women and children its top priority. The 18 member Commission is currently chaired by a woman, Dr. Siti Ruhuaini Dzuhayatin, who is an distinguished lecturer of sociology from Indonesia and helped set up the first women crisis centre in her country. Meanwhile, women even in the most criticized OIC member countries are making historic progress, though in a gradual manner; and others in some member states are holding tight to not lose their rights and acquired standings in the transition to democracy. One common aspect in all these countries is that women are determined to have a stronger say in how their societies and countries are ruled, and they don’t want to go back.

As the OIC focal point in the US-OIC engagement, one of my most pleasant duties was to co-sponsor a symposium in June 2011 with the US Department of State entitled, “Changing Mindsets to Promote Women and Girls in Science.” While the United Nations recently marked the first International Day of the Girl Child, it is the duty of all of us to do more to enable millions of bright minds like Malala to have better prospects and bring down the false obstacles in front of women erected in the name of traditions or the misinterpretation or manipulation of religious teachings.

Source: Huffington Post

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Secretary General Discusses Muslims in Southern Thailand with Thai Prime Minister

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 9, 2013

07/07/2013 | Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), met with the Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra in Istanbul on 6 July 2013. Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and other senior government officials were also present in the meeting. 

The discussions focused on the situation in Southern Thailand and the relations between the government and the Muslim communities in that region. 

The Thai Prime Minister expressed to the Secretary General her governments desire to engage positively with the OIC on the issue of the Southern Border Provinces and emphasized her wish to secure peace and stability in that region. 

The Secretary General thanked the Prime Minister for her expressions of good will and encouraged the Thai authorities to accelerate the ongoing process of confidence building measures and to address the root causes of the problem through a comprehensive approach based on empowering the population of Southern provinces to assume the responsibilities of their internal affairs through a system that allows residents to exercise their cultural and linguistic specificities and manage their natural resources under the full respect for the country’s constitution and territorial integrity. 

He further welcomed the steps of the Government of Thailand, in cooperation with Malaysia, to start a constructive dialogue with (BRN), one of the opposition factions, in order to develop a road map to resolve the existing problems through dialogue and he expressed the hope that in future this dialogue will expand and be more inclusive so that other organizations and groups representing Muslims in Southern Thailand can participate. 

The Thai Prime Mınister informed that following the common understanding expressed in the Joint Press Statement issued after the Secretary General’s visit to Thailand in 2007 and the statement following the 2012 visit of the Secretary General’s Special Envoy, the government was in the process of lifting the emergency law in 5 territories following a process of consultation with the local communities. Progress had also been made in the field of education where government supported schools and religious learning centers catering to the local population had been established in the South earlier this year. The Prime Minister further reiterated the Government’s desire to engage in peaceful solutions to the problems of the South and to obtain support of the OIC in that regard. It was also noted that after several meetings the Government had agreed with armed insurgent groups in the South for a ceasefire to take place during the Holy month of Ramadan. 

The Secretary General welcomed these developments as a positive step forward and expressed the willingness of the OIC to contribute to the process of confidence building, dialogue and economic development in the region through the support of the Islamic Development Bank and other OIC organs and agencies. 

The Secretary General reiterated the position of the OIC to support all peaceful initiatives that guaranteed the human rights of citizens and developed mutual understanding, dialogue and cooperation for the betterment of all communities in both Thailand and the wider region. 

The Prime Minister thanked the Secretary General for his support and assured him of the government’s interest in consolidation of relations between the OIC and Thailand to further deepen cooperation to ensure peace and security in the country and the region as a whole.

Source: OIC

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Ihsanoglu Tasks Myanmar’s Government On Responsibility To Eradicate Discrimination Against Muslims

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 9, 2013

07/07/2013 |  The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, tasked the Government of Myanmar to assume its responsibility to eradicate all forms of discrimination against Muslims and not allow Buddhist extremists to incite against any section of the community. He noted that this discrimination includes the 2005 law which imposes on all Rohingya Muslim families the policy limiting them to only two children in Buthidaung and Maundaw cities in Arakan State. He described this law a violation of all human rights standards. 

In his speech to the Arakan Rohingya Union Congress held at the OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah from 7 – 8 July 2013 and read on his behalf by the Director of Muslim Minorities in the OIC, Talal Daous, the Secretary General stated that the violence targeted at Rohingya Muslims last June led to killings and destruction of properties and created thousands of refugees and displaced persons. He asserted that this type of violence should not continue and that it is the responsibility of the authorities to address the root causes of the issue and protect peoples’ lives and properties in Myanmar. 

Ihsanoglu explained that the OIC continues to support and participate in all national, regional and international efforts and initiatives geared towards finding peaceful and lasting solution to the problems in Myanmar. It also supports the return of refugees and the restoration of the rights and privileges they have been denied by the authorities. In this regard, the Secretary General expressed its gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz who supported the Rohingya minorities, gave them a generous welcome and granted them the opportunity to live and work in Saudi Arabia. This year has already been marked by an important event of official issuance of residence permits to Rohingya refugees. 

Ihsanoglu remarked that today’s meeting is the second for the Union since it was inaugurated at the OIC General Secretariat on 30 May 2011. The Arakan Rohingya Union was established on the basis agreed upon principles o achieve peaceful coexistence, democracy and human rights. OIC Member States has supported the establishment of the Union in Resolution No. 4/38-MM adopted by the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in Astana. 

The Secretary General stated that the Arakan Rohingya Union had in the last two years made tremendous progress considering the various challenges it faces and the dearth of resources. He stressed that the Arakan Rohingya Union plays its role as the legitimate representative of the Rohingya people across the world, defends their cause and improves their conditions in Myanmar, and helps to find a lasting solution to their suffering.

Source: OIC

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OIC conference on Rohingyas in Jeddah next week

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 5, 2013

Arab News, Friday 5 July 2013 | The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will hold on July 7 and 8 the Arakan Rohingya Union Conference at its headquarters in Jeddah.

The charter of the Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU) will be submitted to the members for discussion in preparation for its adoption.

The agenda of the conference will also include introduction of the current and new members of the union, which was established by the OIC in May 2011 to unite the Rohingya refugees around the world.

Waqarudin, director general of the first session of the union, will present his report on ARU’s achievements. The conference will look into the strategy and action plan of the union in the next session, in addition to electing officials and the formation of the Supreme Council, the committees and advisory board.

In a letter sent through his special envoy, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told Myanmar President Thein Sein that the organization, on behalf of the 57 heads of the member states, is ready to assist in reaching a long-term solution to problems of Muslims in Myanmar.

Special envoy Talal Daous, director of minorities department at the OIC, accompanied by Hassan Abdin, delivered the letter last week.

In the letter, the secretary-general said the OIC is ready to assist in any way to reach a long-term solution for the existing and emerging problems of all Muslims in Myanmar, who deserve nothing less than the basic rights accorded to any citizen of Myanmar, including access to urgent humanitarian assistance.

The special envoy delivered the letter to Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and during the meeting discussions focused on the importance of the secretary-general’s visit to Myanmar and the Contact Group on Myanmar.

“We believe that a long-term solution to the problems of the Rohingya Muslims can only be found through the restoration of their legal status and the recognition of their birth right, including citizenship,” said Ihsanoglu.

He said the targeting of Muslims in central Myanmar during the last week of March and last week of April has been a particularly worrying development for the reason that unlike the Rohingya Muslims, the recent events involved Muslims who are integrated in the Myanmarese society with full citizenship rights in areas outside the Rakhine region.

“We are concerned that what was once considered as a case of inter-communal violence confined to one part of Myanmar now has the danger of spreading throughout the country,” Ihsanoglu said.

The OIC chief said that with the cooperation of the authorities in Myanmar, OIC member states would be willing to establish a collaborative mechanism with Myanmar to provide economic and humanitarian assistance to all those in need, confidence building between communities, interfaith dialogue and technical expertise to assist Myanmar in its democratic transition and integration into the international community.

Source: Arab News

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