Anger over Turkish withdrawal from violence against women treaty

Anger over Turkish withdrawal from violence against women treaty
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Thousands protested in Turkey on Saturday, calling for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reverse his decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. (AFP)
Anger over Turkish withdrawal from violence against women treaty
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Activists hold placards reading "Do not bow down" during a protest against Turkey's withdrawal from Istanbul Convention in Istanbul, Turkey March 19, 2021. (Reuters)
Anger over Turkish withdrawal from violence against women treaty
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People participate in a protest against Turkey's withdrawal from Istanbul Convention in Istanbul, Turkey March 20, 2021. (Reuters)
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People participate in a protest against Turkey's withdrawal from Istanbul Convention in Ankara, Turkey March 20, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 March 2021

Anger over Turkish withdrawal from violence against women treaty

Anger over Turkish withdrawal from violence against women treaty
  • Istanbul Convention obliges state parties to revise their legislation to combat domestic abuse
  • The protesters held up portraits of women murdered in Turkey

ANKARA: A presidential decree withdrawing Turkey from a major treaty protecting women from gender-based violence has caused uproar among rights groups.

The Council of Europe accord, forged in Istanbul and signed by Turkey in 2011, pledged to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality.
However, at least 284 women were killed last year during a rise in femicide in the country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew his signature from the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence — also known as the Istanbul Convention — with a presidential decree that was published in the official gazette at 2 a.m. on Saturday.
Ironically, Turkey had been proud of being the first country to ratify the convention.
The withdrawal, which was met with countrywide protests starting Saturday noon, is likely to further polarize a country where women have long fought to obtain basic rights.
Several rights group saw the withdrawal from the accord as a major blow to women’s safety because the convention contributed to improving legislative and policy standards in domestic law, and an expert group was monitoring effective implementation.
According to a 2020 survey by Istanbul Ekonomi Arastirma, a respected polling company, only 8 percent of respondents favored a withdrawal from the convention, which is known as the world’s first binding treaty to combat and prevent violence against women.
“The Istanbul Convention was not signed at your command and it will not leave our lives upon your single command,” tweeted Fidan Ataselim, secretary-general of the rights group We Will Stop Femicide Platform.
Legal experts have also criticized the unlawful way in which the withdrawal from the convention happened, as this cannot be accomplished by a single presidential decree.

FASTFACT

Legal experts have criticized the unlawful way in which the withdrawal from Istanbul Convention happened, as this cannot be accomplished by a single presidential decree.

Under Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution, international agreements such as the Istanbul Convention are considered superior to domestic law. Therefore, only the parliament can withdraw from it.
However, Article 80 of the convention, states that termination requires a notification to the Council of Europe’s (CoE) secretary general.
CoE Secretary-General Marija Pejcinovic Buric released a written statement on Saturday saying: “Turkey’s announced withdrawal from the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on violence against women is a huge setback, compromising the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond.”
Kardelen Yarli, a lawyer specialized in women’s rights, said that the “pullout from the convention with an overnight decree is a politically motivated massacre of law in Turkey where women are being murdered each day and face a mounting rate of violence and abuse.”
She told Arab News: “As a women rights’ activist, I’m ashamed of this backward move. However, we’ll keep struggling for our rights in order not to let more women to be killed in this country. This convention is still valid in our eyes and we’ll do our best to make it implemented in the most efficient way.”
She added: “Let’s make it clear: Women’s rights are human rights. We cannot cope with the violence problem by denying women state protection.”
The Istanbul Convention was signed by 45 countries and the EU, and obliges state parties to revise their legislation to effectively combat domestic violence.
The convention became the target of populist and ultra-conservative rhetoric in Turkey for those who saw it as a threat to traditional family values.
Some conservative segments in the country, including several religious sects, have long criticized the convention, asserting that it undermines family unity, overemphasizes gender equality and encourages divorce.
According to the World Health Organization data, 38 percent of women in Turkey have faced violence, compared to about 25 percent in Europe.


Abbas tells UN Israeli actions could lead to ‘one state’

Abbas tells UN Israeli actions could lead to ‘one state’
Updated 7 sec ago

Abbas tells UN Israeli actions could lead to ‘one state’

Abbas tells UN Israeli actions could lead to ‘one state’
RAMALLAH: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Friday of destroying the two-state solution with actions he said could lead Palestinians to demand equal rights within one binational state comprising Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
Addressing the UN General Assembly via video link from the West Bank, Abbas, 85, urged the international community to act to save the two-state formula that for decades has been the bedrock of diplomacy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas said Israel was “destroying the prospect of a political settlement based on the two-state solution” through its settlements on West Bank land it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
Most countries view the settlements as illegal, a position Israel disputes.
“If the Israeli occupation authorities continue to entrench the reality of one apartheid state as is happening today, our Palestinian people and the entire world will not tolerate such a situation,” Abbas said. Israel rejects accusations of apartheid.
“Circumstances on the ground will inevitably impose equal and full political rights for all on the land of historical Palestine, within one state. In all cases, Israel has to choose,” Abbas said from Ramallah, the seat of his Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the West Bank.
There was no immediate Israeli comment on Abbas’ remarks.
Critics say internal Palestinian divisions have also contributed to the deadlock in US-sponsored peace talks, which collapsed in 2014.
Under interim peace accords with Israel, Abbas’ PA was meant to exercise control in Gaza as well. But his Islamist rivals Hamas seized the coastal enclave in 2007 and years of on-and-off talks have failed to break their impasse.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a far-rightist who sits atop a cross-partisan coalition, opposes Palestinian statehood. His government has vowed to avoid sensitive choices toward the Palestinians and instead focus on economic issues.
In his UN address, Abbas threatened to rescind the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel if it does not withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem within a year.
“If this is not achieved, why maintain recognition of Israel based on the 1967 borders? Why maintain this recognition?” Abbas said.
While some Palestinians and Israelis support the idea of a single binational state, most have very different ideas of what that entity would look like and how it would be governed.
Most analysts contend a single state would not be viable, for religious, political and demographic reasons. Israeli governments have viewed a one-state concept as undermining the essence of an independent Jewish state.
US President Joe Biden reiterated his support for the two-state solution during his own UN address on Tuesday, saying it would ensure “Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state.”

US envoy to visit Sudan next week, White House says

US envoy to visit Sudan next week, White House says
Updated 41 min 45 sec ago

US envoy to visit Sudan next week, White House says

US envoy to visit Sudan next week, White House says

WASHINGTON: US special envoy Jeffrey Feltman will travel to Sudan next week to reaffirm American support for the country after an attempted coup, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said on Friday.
In a phone call with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Sullivan "underscored that any attempt by military actors to undermine the spirit and agreed benchmarks of Sudan’s constitutional declaration would have significant consequences for the US-Sudan bilateral relationship and planned assistance," the National Security Council said in a statement.


UN updates named death toll for Syria war

A Syrian Civil Defence member carries a wounded child in the besieged town of Hamoria, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria January 6, 2018. (Reuters/File Photo)
A Syrian Civil Defence member carries a wounded child in the besieged town of Hamoria, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria January 6, 2018. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 24 September 2021

UN updates named death toll for Syria war

A Syrian Civil Defence member carries a wounded child in the besieged town of Hamoria, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria January 6, 2018. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • OHCHR included only fatalities identifiable by a full name, with a place of death and an established date, from March 2011 to March 2021

GENEVA: The war in Syria has killed 350,209 fully identified individuals, according to a new count published Friday by the United Nations, which warned the real total of deaths would be far higher.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) included only fatalities identifiable by a full name, with a place of death and an established date, from March 2011 to March 2021.

“We assess this figure of 350,209 as statistically sound, based as it is on rigorous work,” High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council.

“It is not — and should not be seen as — a complete number of conflict-related killings in Syria during this period.

“It indicates a minimum verifiable number, and is certainly an under-count of the actual number of killings.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the benchmark for counting victims of the conflict, published a report on June 1 raising the death toll to 494,438 since the start of the violent crackdown on anti-regime protests in 2011.

The Observatory revised up by 105,000 its previous death toll from March 2021, following months of investigation based on documents and sources on the ground.

UN rights chief Bachelet said more than one in 13 victims on the OHCHR count was a woman — 27,727 — while almost one in every 13 was a child — 27,126.

She said the greatest number of documented fatalities was in the Aleppo governorate, with 51,731 named individuals killed.

Other locations with heavy death tolls were Rural Damascus (47,483), Homs (40,986), Idlib (33,271), Hama (31,993) and Tartus (31,369).

Bachelet said OHCHR had received records with partial information which could not go into the analysis but nonetheless indicated a wider number of killings that were not yet fully documented.

“Tragically, there are also many other victims who left behind no witnesses or documentation,” she said.

OHCHR has begun processing information on those alleged to have caused a number of deaths, together with the civilian and non-civilian status of victims, and the cause of death by types of weaponry.

“Documenting the identity of and circumstances in which people have died is key to the effective realisation of a range of fundamental human rights — to know the truth, to seek accountability, and to pursue effective remedies,” said Bachelet.

The former Chilean president said the Syrian people's daily lives "remain scarred by unimaginable suffering... and there is still no end to the violence they endure.”

Bachelet said the count would ensure those killed were not forgotten.

“Behind each recorded death was a human being, born free and equal, in dignity and rights,” she said.


Aoun hails new phase for Lebanon

Aoun hails new phase for Lebanon
Updated 24 September 2021

Aoun hails new phase for Lebanon

Aoun hails new phase for Lebanon
  • President calls for financial support for country as it tries to “claw its way back to recovery”
  • Praises recent agreement between rival factions to form new government

NEW YORK: Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Friday hailed a new phase for his country that he hopes will lead it to recovery from an unprecedented economic crisis.

In a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly, he urged the international community to financially support Lebanon as it tries to “claw its way back to recovery.”

He praised the recent agreement between rival Lebanese political factions to form a new government, and said corruption and financial mismanagement have contributed to the country’s economic crisis.

Aoun pledged that the embattled central bank would be audited, and called for the international community’s support to help Lebanon recover funds smuggled abroad.

Billions of dollars are believed to have been smuggled into overseas accounts by Lebanese bankers.

Aoun said he rejects the integration of Syrian refugees into Lebanese society, and urged the international community to help resettle them in their country.

Syrian refugees who have returned have faced arrest and torture by the regime of President Bashar Assad. 

More than a year since the devastating explosion in the Port of Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020, Aoun said a confidential investigation into the origins of the explosive material and how it entered the port continues.


Macron urges new Lebanese PM to undertake ‘urgent’ reforms

Macron urges new Lebanese PM to undertake ‘urgent’ reforms
Updated 24 September 2021

Macron urges new Lebanese PM to undertake ‘urgent’ reforms

Macron urges new Lebanese PM to undertake ‘urgent’ reforms
  • Reforms should include improving public finances, reducing corruption, improving public finances: Macron
  • Mikati vowed to respect the country’s political timetable and hold general elections next year

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday urged the new Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati to undertake “urgent” reforms to help his crisis-wracked country, as the two men met for the first time in Paris.
After repeating previous criticism of Lebanon’s political class, Macron told Mikati it was “urgent to implement measures and essential reforms” and that Lebanon “could count on” former colonial power France for support.
The reforms should include tackling power and other infrastructure problems, improving public finances, reducing corruption, and stabilising the banking system, he said.
Mikati said he had come to the French capital to reassure Macron that he and his new government, approved by the Lebanese parliament on Monday, were committed to reforming.
“I expressed my determination to implement ... the necessary reforms as soon as possible in order to restore confidence, to give hope and reduce the suffering of the Lebanese population,” he said.
He also vowed to respect the country’s political timetable and hold general elections next year.
The billionaire’s nomination has brought an end to 13 months of political deadlock since an August 2020 blast that killed at least 214 people and devastated swathes of the capital Beirut.
An economic meltdown since then has depleted central bank reserves, devalued the currency by more than 90 percent and plunged three out of four citizens below the poverty line, while those who can are emigrating by the thousands.
France has led the international response to the tragedy, organizing three international conferences devoted to Lebanon and delivering aid in exchange for promises of political reform and accountability.
Macron traveled to Lebanon two days after the blast, and returned for a second trip.
The 43-year-old French leader has repeatedly expressed exasperation over the failure of Lebanon’s leaders to end the political crisis and tackle the economic emergency.
“It’s a secret for nobody that the negotations took too long while the living conditions of Lebanese people were getting worse,” Macron said on Friday.
Speaking next to Mikati on the steps of the Elysee Palace, he said that the Lebanese population had “a right to know the truth” about the August 2020 blast in Beirut.
One of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history, the explosion was caused by a vast stock of highly explosive ammonium nitrate that had sat for years in a port warehouse, a stone’s throw from residential districts.