UN refugee chief warns New Zealand massacre the result of toxic politics, media

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, Italian Filippo Grandi, addresses his statement, during the Pledging Conference for the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. (AP)
Updated 10 April 2019

UN refugee chief warns New Zealand massacre the result of toxic politics, media

  • New Zealand PM Ardern has said the world has been stuck in a vicious cycle of extremism which must end
  • Grandi said the mosque attacks in New Zealand showed this has become an issue of security and stability for all countries

UNITED NATIONS: The UN refugee chief said Tuesday he has never seen “such toxicity, such poison” in politics, the media, social media and every day conversation focused on refugees, migrants and foreigners.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the March 15 attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 50 Muslim worshippers was the result “of that toxic language of politics.”
Grandi urged countries everywhere to take “a leaf from the exemplary response of the people and the leadership of New Zealand” in responding to the “toxic trends” by restating the values that underpin global solidarity and “reaffirm that our societies will not be really prosperous, stable and peaceful if they do not include all.”
An Australian white supremacist, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who has been charged with the mosque killings which included many immigrants, livestreamed the shootings and sent out a lengthy manifesto. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the world has been stuck in a vicious cycle of extremism which must end, and she will never utter his name and give his views the oxygen he wanted.
Grandi told the Security Council “there is unprecedented stigmatization of refugees and migrants,” and responses are increasingly inadequate.
He said he has worked with refugees for over three decades and has seen “much solidarity, even heroism in some of the responses that are provided on the ground” to help them.
And “that solidarity is still very strong” in many parts of the world, from African villages to the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, to communities in Latin American helping Venezuelans, Grandi said.
“But also in these 3 1/2 decades I have never seen such toxicity, such poison in the language of politics, in media, in social media, even in everyday discussions and conversations around this issue — toxicity that focuses sadly, tragically, often, on refugees, on migrants, on foreigners,” he said. “That should be of concern to us all.”
Grandi added that “many politicians believe that — and I think they are proven right — that doing this expands their consensus.”
But he said this is wrong and unfair to people “that are fleeing because they seek safety from war, from persecution.”
He said the mosque attacks in New Zealand showed this has become an issue of security and stability for all countries — and governments need to address the issue of language on social media and in politics.
“It is an issue if left unchecked may have very grave consequences, not only for our work but for the world in general,” Grandi warned.


Patten says China pursuing ‘Orwellian’ agenda in Hong Kong

Updated 33 min 2 sec ago

Patten says China pursuing ‘Orwellian’ agenda in Hong Kong

  • Chris Patten defended London’s announcement that it would grant residency and a path to citizenship for nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents
  • China shocked many of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people when it announced earlier this month that it will enact a national security law for the city

BEIJING: The last British governor of Hong Kong criticized the Chinese government on Friday over proposed national security legislation, calling it part of an “Orwellian” drive to eliminate opposition in violation of the agreement on handing the territory over to Beijing.
Chris Patten defended London’s announcement that it would grant residency and a path to citizenship for nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents if Beijing goes through with passage of the legislation.
The law is seen as potentially imposing severe restrictions on freedom of speech and opposition political activity in the former British colony that was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997. China has denounced the offer of citizenship as a violation of its sovereignty.
“If they’ve broken the (Sino-British) Joint Declaration, if they’ve thrown it overboard, how can they then use the joint declaration as though it stops us doing something that’s a sovereign right of ours?” said Patten, now chancellor of the University of Oxford, in an online talk with reporters.
The declaration is a bilateral treaty signed as part of the handover process. China has essentially declared it null and void, while Britain says Beijing is reneging on its commitments made in the document that was supposed to be remain in effect until 2047.
China shocked many of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people when it announced earlier this month that it will enact a national security law for the city, which was promised a high level of autonomy outside of foreign and defense affairs.
An earlier push to pass security legislation was shelved after massive Hong Kong street protests against it in 2003. However, Beijing appeared to lose patience after months of sometimes violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year that China said was an attempt to split the territory off from the rest of the country.
Patten said the security legislation is unnecessary because Hong Kong’s legal code already includes provisions to combat terrorism, financial crimes and other threats to security.
“What Beijing wants is something which deals with those rather worrying Orwellian crimes like sedition, whatever that may be,” Patten said.
China may also be seeking grounds to disqualify opposition candidates from running in September’s election for the local legislature by accusing them of being disloyal, he said.
Beijing has ignored promises that Hong Kong could democratize of its own accord after the handover, Patten said. The US should unite with other democratic countries to oppose underhanded tactics by Beijing, he said.
“It’s the Chinese Communist Party which attacks us, which hectors, which bullies, which tells companies which have roots in our countries, that unless they do what China wants, they won’t get any business in China,” Patten said. “That’s the way the Mafia behave, and the rest of the world shouldn’t put up with it, because if we do, liberal democracies are going to be screwed.”