Radical AfD party members clash; 400 arrested

RADICAL FIGHT: Protesters try to block access to the party congress of right-wing populist party ‘Alternative Fuer Deutschland’ (Alternative for Germany) in Stuttgart on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 30 April 2016
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Radical AfD party members clash; 400 arrested

STUTTGART: German riot police on Saturday arrested around 400 protesters trying to block access to the congress of the right-wing populist AfD political party, as clashes broke out between party members and left-wing activists.
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is meeting in the western city of Stuttgart, where it is expected to adopt an anti-Islamic manifesto, emboldened by the rise of European anti-migrant groups like Austria’s Freedom Party.
The AfD congress comes a week after the far-right Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer sent shock waves through Austria’s political establishment by winning the first round of a presidential ballot.
Heavily-armoured riot police used pepper spray to hold off protesters, many dressed in black and masking their faces, as officers escorted AfD members into the congress hall.
Clashes erupted between left-wing activists and AfD delegates, while demonstrators burned tyres and threw firecrackers at journalists and police, who numbered over 1,000.
“No rights for Nazi propaganda,” cried one group of demonstrators. Now polling around 14 percent, AfD is eyeing entry into the federal Parliament in elections next year after a string of state election wins. The AfD was formed only three years ago and has since gradually shifted its policies to the right, while entering half of Germany’s 16 state legislatures and the European Parliament.
Having initially railed against bailouts for debt-hit eurozone economies, it has changed focus to protest against mostly-Muslim migrants and refugees, more than a million of whom sought asylum in Germany last year.
The AfD has loudly protested against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal migration policy but also channelled popular anger against established political parties and the mainstream press.
Around 2,400 members are expected at the weekend congress, which comes after AfD deputy leader and European parliament member Beatrix von Storch last week caused anger by labelling Islam a “political ideology that is incompatible with the German constitution.”
Von Storch said the congress would call for a ban on Islamic symbols in Germany such as minarets on mosques, the call to prayer and full-face veils for women.
It will openly challenge the government position, repeatedly stated by Merkel, that today “Islam is part of Germany,” a country that is home to some four million Muslims.


Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

Updated 24 April 2019
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Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

  • An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996
  • The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time

TOKYO: Japan’s government apologized Wednesday to tens of thousands of victims forcibly sterilized under a now-defunct Eugenics Protection Law and promised to pay compensation.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he was offering “sincere remorse and heartfelt apology” to the victims.
His apology comes just after the parliament enactment earlier Wednesday of legislation to provide redress measures, including $28,600 (¥3.2 million) compensation for each victim.
An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996. The law was designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants” and allowed doctors to sterilize people with disabilities. It was quietly renamed as the Maternity Protection Law in 1996, when the discriminatory condition was removed.
The redress legislation acknowledges that many people were forced to have operations to remove their reproductive organs or radiation treatment to get sterilized, causing them tremendous pain mentally and physically.
The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time.
The apology and the redress law follow a series of lawsuits by victims who came forward recently after breaking decades of silence. That prompted lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties to draft a compensation package to make amends for the victims.
The plaintiffs are seeking about ¥30 million each ($268,000) in growing legal actions that are spreading around the country, saying the government’s implementation of the law violated the victims’ right to self-determination, reproductive health and equality. They say the government redress measures are too small for their suffering.
In addition to the forced sterilizations, more than 8,000 others were sterilized with consent, though likely under pressure, while nearly 60,000 women had abortions because of hereditary illnesses, according to Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
Among them were about 10,000 leprosy patients who had been confined in isolated institutions until 1996, when the leprosy prevention law was also abolished. The government has already offered compensation and an apology to them for its forced isolation policy.