UK’s Overseas Operations Bill: A Pretext for Abuse or a Protection for War Veterans?

UK’s Overseas Operations Bill: A Pretext for Abuse or a Protection for War Veterans?

By guest contributor, Indrasish Majumder* In 2019, the British government attempted to pass a bill that would prevent British soldiers from being prosecuted for crimes committed while serving abroad. The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill (“Operations Bill”) was introduced in light of some UK operations in Iraq and Afghanistan which prompted an unprecedented number of criminal cases against British soldiers years after these operations. The UK government argued that the allegations raised were baseless and that it had proposed the Bill to shield its troops from false accusations. The Operations Bill seeks to safeguard British personnel by establishing a five-year statute of limitations on prosecution of suspected crimes committed by British troops while stationed outside British territory. It also sets time restrictions for such cases as well as claims brought under the Human Rights Act of 1998. The Operations Bill has been criticised for being unconstitutional and misleading, and it has been claimed that it breaches obligations of the UK government under international human rights,...
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Macron, Laïcité, and a Fight for the Rights of French Muslims

Macron, Laïcité, and a Fight for the Rights of French Muslims

By Lindsey Alpaugh, staff writer, RightsViews, Human Rights MA student.   French Muslims and French Electoral Politics France is stomping on the freedom of religious expression of its Muslim population. This spring and winter have seen a slew of anti-Muslim legislation in France, with some political commentators believing these measures come in advance of a right-wing-oriented election in 2022.  On December 2nd, 2020 the Council of Ministers announced that it was dissolving the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF). The CCIF was founded in 2003 to fight discrimination against Muslims in France, and to provide legal aid to those fighting discrimination cases. Criticizing this decision, Human Rights Watch stated that “under international and European human rights law, states can only restrict the rights to freedom of association, freedom of religion and belief, and freedom of expression in a way that is lawful, necessary, and proportionate. Dissolving associations under international human rights law should be a measure of last resort taken because an association advocates...
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Rerouted, Rerooted: Oral Histories of Syrian-Armenian Refugees

Rerouted, Rerooted: Oral Histories of Syrian-Armenian Refugees

By Larissa Peltola, Editor, RightsViews.   The Armenian Genocide, which took place 106 years ago, today, claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians. While people around the world are now more aware of what occurred in 1915, following a global push for recognition of the genocide, few are aware of the lasting implications of the genocide which have carried on to this day. HRSMA alumna Anoush Baghdassarian (‘19) and Pomona College graduate Ani Schug (‘17) have undertaken the important and necessary work of collecting the oral histories of Syrian-Armenian refugees - the descendants of genocide survivors - to keep the memories of those who have perished alive. What was the Armenian Genocide?  Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer who coined the term genocide, was moved to do so after hearing about the systematic annihilation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Before WWI, Armenians - in what is now Turkey - totaled over two million. But by 1922, there were fewer than...
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Brexit and its International Implications on Religious Communities in the United Kingdom

Brexit and its International Implications on Religious Communities in the United Kingdom

By guest contributor Dr. Ozgur H. Cinar.* The United Kingdom (UK) is frequently on the international agenda on account of Brexit. Finally, the European Union (EU)-UK Trade Agreement was signed on 31 December 2020. It came into force on 1 January 2021. Although the debate over the political, economic, social and cultural effects of Brexit continues to rage, its effects on the religious communities has not been explored. In particular, when considering the rise in hate crime following the EU Referendum of 23 June 2016, especially religious communities are wondering what is happening to the British lifestyle, traditionally founded as it is on tolerance and pluralism.  In a cosmopolitan country such as the UK where there are people of many different nations and beliefs, it is necessary for the state to take an active role in safeguarding. This freedom has a significant place in human rights in regard to the shaping of individual and social identity by enabling individuals to act in...
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“Abort the Government”: Polish Citizens Challenge Poland’s Retreat to Autocracy

“Abort the Government”: Polish Citizens Challenge Poland’s Retreat to Autocracy

By Ali Cain, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the European History, Politics, and Society  MA Program Over the last three weeks, Polish citizens have ignited the country’s biggest protests since the 1989 pro-democracy movement in response to the passing of a de facto abortion ban. Although Poland already had the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, its highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, concluded that performing abortions, even in situations where a baby would be born sick or disabled, violates the Constitution’s guarantee to the protection of life. This ruling poses immense infringements on women’s rights and pushes the country into deeper democratic backsliding.  Despite Polish President Andrzej Duda announcing that the ban would be delayed indefinitely, protests have developed into a larger retaliation against the ruling far-right Law and Justice Party (PiS). Since its rise to power in 2015, the Party maintains support by enflaming cultural tensions over LGBTQ+ rights, migration, and abortion. Prior to the Tribunal’s ruling, women...
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Make the Money, Make (up) the News? The Underreported War of Nagorno-Karabakh

Make the Money, Make (up) the News? The Underreported War of Nagorno-Karabakh

By Nay Alhelou, Co-Editor of RightsViews and MA Candidate in Human Rights Studies at Columbia University.  Four weeks on, the war over Nagorno-Karabakh continues despite a third ceasefire agreement that was supposed to take effect on October 26. In the meantime, a parallel war – a war of (mis)information – finally starts to make headlines. Over the past two weeks, both academics and journalists reported on the ways in which Azerbaijan has been using its financial power to set the tone of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Academics at Harvard University and Columbia University pointed out that Azerbaijan has been investing in lobbying firms and using social media ‘trolls’ to spread misinformation in the aim of getting the public’s support. For example, Azerbaijani Telegram channel “The Tagiev” claimed that videos showing the capture and execution of two Armenian soldiers were staged, even though originally the channel itself posted them and identified them as real. However, an investigation by Bellingcat found that the videos were...
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The Struggle for Equality: When Will European Roma Human Rights Finally be Respected?

The Struggle for Equality: When Will European Roma Human Rights Finally be Respected?

By Larissa Peltola, a staff writer for RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA Program.  The Roma, pejoratively referred to as Gypsies, are Europe’s largest and most marginalized and disenfranchised ethnic minority.  There are an estimated 10-12 million Roma in Europe, making up 5 percent of the population. The Roma are most concentrated in Italy, Spain, France, and the UK, according to Amnesty International, but have settled in every country on the continent. Originally migrating to Europe in the 9th century from Northern India and what is now Iran, Turkey, and Armenia, the Roma have faced discrimination, racism, xenophobia, and inhumane treatment in every country they have settled in. They were forced into slavery in most of Europe leading up to the 19th century, were the second-largest group targeted for extermination by the Third Reich (an estimated 25-75% of Europe’s Roma population were decimated in WWII), and were targeted for murder and rape during the conflict in Kosovo.  Today,...
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Turkey’s Alarming Regional Intervention Continues to Affect Minority Communities with Impunity, This Time in Azerbaijan

Turkey’s Alarming Regional Intervention Continues to Affect Minority Communities with Impunity, This Time in Azerbaijan

By Guest Contributors Anoush Baghdassarian and Sherin Zadah Tucked away into the southern caucasus is a region struggling for survival, not against COVID-19, but against yet another offensive by Turkey, this time in Azerbaijan, targeting the region's minority populations.   On Sept. 27, 2020, a war broke out in the Republic of Artsakh, also known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). The conflict is mainly between Armenia, the ethnic Armenians of NKR, and Azerbaijan, but Turkey is also a player in the conflict; it has pledged support for Azerbaijan, closing its border with Armenia and reaffirming Azerbaijan’s claims to territorial integrity.  Amid the current crisis, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to “support our Azerbaijani brothers with all our means as always,” including military assistance. This manifested into a coordinated premeditated attack against one of its historic minority communities — the Armenians. This follows shortly after Turkey’s crimes against the Kurds, another one of its repeatedly persecuted ethnic groups. Turkey launched a targeted military campaign...
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German Populist AfD Party Uses Moria Fires to Reinvigorate Anti-Refugee Sentiment

German Populist AfD Party Uses Moria Fires to Reinvigorate Anti-Refugee Sentiment

By: Guest Contributor Ali Cain. Ali is a M.A. Candidate in the European History, Politics and Society Program at Columbia University. Her MA research analyzes how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the Alternative for Germany Party's anti-refugee policies and rhetoric.  The Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) is a far-right populist party that promotes protecting the German identity, traditional family values and climate change denial. Once a fringe party unable to meet the 5% voting threshold to enter the German Parliament, the AfD’s opposition to migration policies and xenophobia has elevated its support. After German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Germany’s borders to one million refugees in 2015, the AfD both seized upon and helped instill fears over cultural differences, crime and violence. The Party’s fearmongering tactics were so successful that it became the third largest party in the German Parliament in the 2017 federal election.  The AfD continues to be relentless with its attacks upon refugees as exhibited in its response to the...
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Why the EU Should Reconsider Renegotiating the 2016 EU-Turkey Migration Deal

Why the EU Should Reconsider Renegotiating the 2016 EU-Turkey Migration Deal

Guest Contributor Ali Cain is an M.A. Candidate in the European History, Politics and Society Program at Columbia University. She is additionally the Program Coordinator for the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR). Her research interests include populism, refugee rights and transatlantic relations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used over 4 million refugees in Turkey as political blackmail against the European Union (EU). Leveraging the 2016 EU-Turkey Migration Deal, Erdogan has consistently threatened to “open the floodgates” and allow refugees to cross into neighboring Greece whenever his demands are not  met. Previous demands have included quicker EU accession talks, European support for a refugee safe zone in northern Syria, and more funding to support refugees.  In late February 2020, Russian and Syrian government forces attacked the Syrian province of Idlib, forcing thousands to flee into northwest Turkey. In response, Erdogan finally fulfilled his threats and allowed thousands of refugees to leave, even providing buses for transportation to the...
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