Asean Summit, Malaysia on Nov 21, 1015

Asean Summit, Malaysia  on Nov 21, 1015
Asean Establishes Landmark Economic and Security Bloc
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - Text version)

“….. Here is the prediction: China will turn North Korea loose soon. The alliance will dissolve, or become stale. There will be political upheaval in China. Not a coup and not a revolution. Within the inner circles of that which you call Chinese politics, there will be a re-evaluation of goals and monetary policy. Eventually, you will see a break with North Korea, allowing still another dictator to fall and unification to occur with the south. ….”

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)









North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk
North Korean defector and activist Hyeonseo Lee, who lives in South Korea, poses as she presents her book 'The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story' in Beijing on March 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Fred Dufour)

US under fire in global press freedom report

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Myanmar junta executes two pro-democracy rivals

Yahoo – AFP, 25 July 2022 

Myanmar's junta has executed four prisoners including a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi's party and a prominent activist, state media said Monday, in the country's first use of capital punishment in decades. 

The four were executed for leading "brutal and inhumane terror acts", the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said. 

The paper said the executions were carried out "under the prison's procedure" without saying when or how the men were killed. 

The junta has sentenced dozens of anti-coup activists to death as part of its crackdown on dissent after seizing power last year, but Myanmar had not carried out an execution for decades. 

Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former lawmaker from Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) who was arrested in November, was sentenced to death in January for offences under anti-terrorism laws. 

Democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu -- better known as "Jimmy" -- received the same sentence from the military tribunal. 

Two other men were sentenced to death for killing a woman they alleged was an informer for the junta in Yangon. 

Diplomatic condemnation 

The junta was heavily criticised by international powers last month when it announced its intention to carry out the executions. 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the junta's decision, calling it "a blatant violation to the right to life, liberty and security of person". 

UN rights experts said that if the executions went ahead -- for the first time in Myanmar since 1988 -- it could mark the start of a spate of hangings. 

The experts said that under the junta's martial law provisions, the death penalty could be given for 23 "vague and broadly defined offences" -- which in practice could include any criticism of the military. 

Myanmar expert Richard Horsey of the International Crisis Group (ICG) said on Twitter that the executions were "an outrageous act. And one that will create political shockwaves, now and for a long time to come". 

Phyo Zeya Thaw had been accused of orchestrating several attacks on regime forces, including a gun attack on a commuter train in Yangon in August that killed five policemen. 

A hip-hop pioneer whose subversive rhymes irked the previous junta, he was jailed in 2008 for membership in an illegal organisation and possession of foreign currency.

 He was elected to parliament representing Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD in the 2015 elections, which ushered in a transition to civilian rule. 

The country's military alleged voter fraud during elections in 2020 -- which the NLD won by a landslide -- as justification for its coup on February 1 last year. 

Suu Kyi has been detained since then and faces a slew of charges in a junta court that could see her face a prison sentence of more than 150 years. 

Kyaw Min Yu, who rose to prominence during Myanmar's 1988 student uprising against the country's previous military regime, was arrested in an overnight raid in October.

Droupadi Murmu sworn in as India's first tribal president

Yahoo – AFP, 25 July 2022 

Droupadi Murmu was sworn in as India's president on Monday, making her the first person from one of the country's marginalised tribal communities to serve as head of state. 

The former school teacher and state governor was elected to the largely ceremonial position last week with 64 percent of the vote by members of India's parliament and state assemblies. 

Murmu, who is from the Santhal tribe and was born in eastern Odisha state, paid her respects before her inauguration at a memorial dedicated to India's independence hero Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi. 

"I started my life journey from a small tribal village," Murmu, 64, said after taking the oath of office in parliament. 

"From the background I come from, it was like a dream for me to even get elementary education," she added. 

"But despite many obstacles, my resolve remained strong and I became the first daughter from my village to go to college." 

Murmu's win was considered a certainty because of the strength of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies in the parliament and state assemblies. 

Analysts said the move will likely help Prime Minister Narendra Modi extend his base among the poor tribal communities ahead of his re-election bid in 2024. 

"Her assuming the Presidency is a watershed moment for India especially for the poor, marginalised and downtrodden," Modi said on Twitter after Murmu's address. 

Murmu said her election would give hope to those left behind by India's recent economic growth. 

"It is a matter of great satisfaction to me that those who have been deprived for centuries, who have been away from the benefits of development... are seeing their reflection in me," she said. 

India's prime minister wields executive power, but the president can send back some parliamentary bills for reconsideration and also plays a guiding role in the process of forming governments. 

Murmu is the country's second woman president after Pratibha Patil, who held the position for five years from 2007. 

She succeeds Ram Nath Kovind, the second president from the Dalit community, the bottom of the Hindu caste system.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

N. Korea appoints veteran diplomat as first female foreign minister

France24 – AFP, 11 June 2022 

A career diplomat who speaks fluent English, Choe Son Hui
served as a close aide to Kim Jong Un during talks with the
United States LUONG THAI LINH POOL/AFP/File

Seoul (AFP) – North Korea has appointed veteran diplomat Choe Son-hui as its first female foreign minister, state media reported Saturday, as Pyongyang pushes ahead with a blitz of sanctions-busting weapons tests and ignores US calls for talks. 

Choe, who formerly served as the North's vice foreign minister, was tapped to lead the foreign ministry at a ruling party meeting overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, the state media KCNA reported. 

She replaces Ri Son Gwon, a hardline former military official who previously led talks with the South. 

A career diplomat who speaks fluent English, Choe served as a close aide to Kim during nuclear talks with the United States and accompanied the North Korean leader to summits with then US president Donald Trump. 

She held a rare question and answer session with reporters on the night the two leaders' summit in Hanoi collapsed without a deal in February 2019, blaming Washington for the failed talks. 

"I think the United States has missed a golden opportunity with its rejection of our proposals," she said. 

Diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington have since stalled, with the Kim regime in recent months not responding to the United States' repeated offers to return to negotiations. 

The nuclear-armed North has meanwhile carried out a blitz of sanctions-busting weapons tests this year, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017. 

US and South Korean officials have also warned that Kim's regime is preparing to carry out what would be its seventh nuclear test -- a move that Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman warned would provoke a "swift and forceful" response.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Saudi women move from behind wheel to under the hood

France24 – AFP, 3 June 2022 

Ghada Ahmed (R) works on a car in Saudi Arabia, where garages are tapping
women as a source for mechanics Fayez Nureldine AFP

Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) – An auto repair garage in Saudi Arabia is turning to an untapped source for new car mechanics: Saudi women, who just four years ago weren't even allowed to drive. 

At the Petromin Express garage in Jeddah, on the Red Sea coast, new female recruits check oil and change tyres alongside their male counterparts, part of a nationwide push to bring more women into the workforce. 

Yet the women trainees have, perhaps inevitably, encountered a host of barriers as they enter a field that is male-dominated the world over –- and even more so in the conservative Muslim kingdom. 

Several told AFP their first months on the job have brought flashes of self-doubt, scepticism from relatives and outright hostility from some customers. 

One "old man" who came by the garage immediately ordered all the women out, saying he didn't want them going near his car, recalled recruit Ghada Ahmad. 

"At the beginning, it's normal not to trust us, because I'm a woman and he doesn't trust my work as a woman," said Ahmad, wearing grease-streaked white gloves and a long blue overcoat. 

"It's something new for them... After years of only seeing men, now comes a woman." 

As she struggled to learn the basics, Ahmad had moments when she wondered if such men might have a point. 

"I used to go home with swollen hands, crying and saying: 'This job is not for me. It looks like their words were correct,'" she recalled. 

But as her skills improved, so did her confidence –- aided by other customers who were more encouraging. 

"One man came and said: 'I'm very proud of you. You are honouring us. You are a crown on our heads.'" 

Helpful husbands

Expanding women's rights is central to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 agenda, intended to diversify the oil-dependent economy while softening Saudi Arabia's radical image. 

The highest-profile change came in 2018, when Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's de facto ruler, oversaw the end of a decades-old ban on women driving. 

The country has also eased so-called "guardianship" rules that give men arbitrary authority over female relatives.

 

Ola Flimban checks the tyre pressure on a car at a garage in Jeddah
Fayez Nureldine AFP


These moves have burnished Prince Mohammed's reputation as a women's rights champion, despite a crackdown on dissent that has ensnared some of the very activists pushing for reform.
 

Yet women mechanics in Jeddah told AFP they could never have started working without their husbands' consent. 

Ola Flimban, a 44-year-old mother of four, first heard about the jobs from a social media post, and immediately asked her husband, Rafat Flimban, if she could apply. 

Rafat agreed and helped his wife prepare for the interview by teaching her the names of spare parts. 

"Now she has experience in different car types, how to change oil, how to check cars. She's even checking my car," he said. 

The support at home has made it easier for Ola to deal with wary customers at the garage. 

"They are surprised that girls work in this field, and ask us to explain how we fell in love with this field," she said. 

"That is the most common question." 

As she spoke, 20-year-old Mechaal drove up in his silver sedan for an oil change. 

He admitted being "shocked" that the task would be carried out by a woman, but he soon came around. 

"If they are here, it must mean they are trained," he said, "and maybe they understand my car better than me." 

Petromin vice president Tariq Javed said his company was "confident that this initiative will encourage more women to join the automotive industry in all stages". 

The company says its training covers "all express services, including oil, battery, tyres, A/C, and other automotive requirements". 

'We make girls feel relaxed'

Perhaps the biggest winners from the firm's initiative are the city's women drivers. 

"We make girls feel relaxed when we operate on their cars," said 30-year-old Angham Jeddawi, who has been at the garage for six months. 

"Some girls feel shy when dealing with men. They don't know how to talk with them, and they don't know what will be done with the car. But with us they are free to talk a lot." 

For Jeddawi, the job has fulfilled a lifelong goal she once thought impossible. 

A male customer watches over Ghada Ahmed as she works on his truck
Fayez Nureldine AFP


"My dream was to enter the automobile sector, but for a Saudi woman this field was not available. So when the opportunity came, I applied straight away," she said. 

The knowledge she's gained has encouraged her to hit the road herself. 

She has been studying for her driving test and hopes to have a licence within a month. 

"If I face a problem in the middle of the road, now I know how to react," she said.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Pacific nations reject China security pact

Yahoo – AFP, Frank Bainimarama, 30 May 2022

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that that Beijing is willing to
work with other major powers in the Pacific region to help island nations
develop (AFP/Vaitogi Asuisui MATAFEO) (Vaitogi Asuisui MATAFEO)

Ten Pacific island nations rebuffed China's push for a wide-ranging regional security pact Monday, amid worries the proposal was designed to pull them into Beijing's orbit. 

Talks in Fiji between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and leaders from the small island nations failed to reach an agreement, in a high-profile diplomatic setback for Beijing. 

China is offering to radically ramp up its activities in the South Pacific, directly challenging the influence of the United States and its allies in the strategically vital region. 

The proposed pact would see Beijing train Pacific island police, become involved in cybersecurity, expand political ties, conduct sensitive marine mapping and gain greater access to natural resources on land and in the water. 

As an enticement, Beijing is offering millions of dollars in financial assistance, the prospect of a potentially lucrative China-Pacific islands free trade agreement and access to China's vast market of 1.4 billion people. 

Behind the scenes, Pacific leaders have voiced deep misgivings about the offer. 

In a recent letter to fellow leaders, David Panuelo, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, warned the offer was "disingenuous" and would "ensure Chinese influence in government" and "economic control" of key industries. 

A more soft-spoken public rebuke came after the talks, when leaders said they could not agree to Beijing's proposed "Common Development Vision" due to a lack of regional consensus. 

"As always, we put consensus first," co-host and Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said after the meeting, indicating that broad accord would be needed before inking any "new regional agreements". 

Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia were said to be among those concerned about the proposals, along with Taiwan-recognising Palau, which was not invited. 

"We would rather deal with our own security issues with China", Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Soroi Eoe told AFP, indicating concern about any region-wide pact. 

Chinese officials -- working frantically to secure support during Wang's 10-day diplomatic blitz of the region -- admitted their entreaties had fallen short. 

"There has been general support from the 10 countries," Chinese ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo told reporters in Suva. "But of course, there are some concerns on some specific issues and we have agreed that these two documents will be discussed afterwards until we have reached an agreement." 

Speaking from Suva, Wang made the face-saving announcement that the 10 countries had agreed to memorandums of understanding on China's "Belt and Road" infrastructure initiative. 

The two sides will "continue to have ongoing and in-depth discussions and consultations to shape more consensus on cooperation", he said, urging those worried by Beijing's intentions not to be "too anxious and don't be too nervous". 

The full proposal has not been made public, but was leaked to media including AFP ahead of Monday's meeting. 

China has said it will release a "position paper" highlighting the proposals to the public in the coming weeks. 

Balancing act 

Western powers have bristled against China's move into the region, with the US State Department warning South Pacific nations to be wary of "shadowy, vague deals with little transparency". 

Australia joined the United States in urging a spurning of China's attempts to expand its security reach deep into the region, with the country's new foreign minister warning of the "consequences" of such deals. 

Many in the Pacific are uneasy at being thrust to the centre of a geopolitical tussle between China and US allies. 

Most capitals are keen to maintain amicable ties with China, balancing relations between Beijing, Washington, Canberra and Wellington, while focusing on the more urgent threat of climate change and day-to-day economic issues. 

During a joint appearance with Wang, Bainimarama hit out at those engaged in "geopolitical point-scoring". 

It "means less than little to anyone whose community is slipping beneath the rising seas, whose job has been lost to a pandemic or whose family is impacted by the rapid rise in the price of commodities", he said. 

All but a few of the Pacific Islands are low-lying and deeply vulnerable to sea-level rises caused by climate change. 

Before the meeting, President Xi Jinping sent a message that China would be "a good brother" to the region and that they shared a "common destiny", according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Tokyo to recognise same-sex partnerships from November

 Yahoo – AFP, May 11, 2022 

Japan is the only Group of Seven nation that does not recognise
same-sex unions (AFP/Philip FONG) (Philip FONG)
 

Tokyo will begin recognising same-sex partnerships from November after revising current rules, officials said Wednesday, becoming the largest city in Japan to do so. 

Japan is the only nation of the Group of Seven countries that does not recognise same-sex unions, and its constitution stipulates that "marriage shall be only with the mutual consent of both sexes". 

But in recent years, local authorities across the country have made moves to recognise same-sex partnerships, although such recognition does not carry the same rights as marriage under the law. 

"We collected opinions from the public for the past two months and we heard opinions (from same-sex couples) who said they want to be recognised as partners," a Tokyo government spokesman told AFP. 

The metropolitan government plans to ask legislators to approve revising a local ordinance next month, and will then begin accepting applications for the certificates in October and issuing them in November. 

The city is considering offering various services currently only available to married couples to those with the partnership certificate, including applying for city-administered apartments, the spokesman said. 

Tokyo's Shibuya district in 2015 became the first place in Japan to begin issuing symbolic "partnership" certificates to same-sex couples. 

Many areas have followed suit, with activists saying more than 200 municipalities now recognise same-sex partnerships, granting couples rights including the ability to visit a partner in hospital and rent property together. 

In a landmark ruling last year, a court in northern Sapporo said Japan's failure to recognise same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, a verdict hailed by campaigners as a major victory. 

But Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has been cautious on the possibility of any legislative changes at the national level to recognise same-sex unions. 

Taiwan is currently the only place in Asia with marriage equality, having taken the unprecedented step of legalising same-sex unions in 2019.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Dalai Lama urges move to renewable energy to combat climate crisis

France24 – AFP, 23 April 2022 

The Dalai Lama was presented with a block of ice carved from one of the fast-melting
glaciers in India's Himalayan Ladakh region - Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (OHHDL)/AFP


New Delhi (AFP) – Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama urged the public to reduce fossil fuel use during a meeting with activists to mark Earth Day, warning that the climate change crisis transcends national boundaries.
 

The 86-year-old -- who is now living in exile in India's Dharamshala -- was presented Friday with a block of ice carved from one of the fast-melting glaciers in India's Himalayan Ladakh region. 

Mounted on a wooden stand, the hunk of ice was meant to highlight the effects of climate change on the Tibetan plateau. 

"In my own life I have witnessed the decline in snowfall, first in Tibet and later, in Dharamshala," the Dalai Lama said during the Earth Day event. 

He urged for the adoption of renewable sources of energy to mitigate the crisis that is posing a threat to the entire human race. 

"We need to take urgent steps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and adopt renewable sources of energy such as those that rely on the wind and the power of the sun," he added. 

"The threat of climate change is not limited by national boundaries -- it affects us all." 

The Himalayan ice block expedition covered around 250 kilometres (155 miles), with the trekkers travelling on foot, bicycle and in electric vehicles to raise awareness about the effect of fossil fuels on glaciers. 

They also used low-carbon technologies to keep their sample from melting.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Pink Floyd release first new song since 1994 for Ukraine

Yahoo – AFP, April 7, 2022 

David Gilmour: 'We, like so many, have been feeling the fury and the frustration of this vile
act of an independent, peaceful democratic country being invaded and having its people
murdered by one of the world's major powers' (AFP/JOHN D MCHUGH) (JOHN D MCHUGH)

Pink Floyd have written their first new song in almost 30 years to support Ukrainians, the band announced on Thursday. 

"Hey, Hey, Rise-Up!" will be released on Friday, and be used to raise funds for humanitarian causes linked to the war. 

It samples Andriy Khlyvnyuk, from one of Ukraine's biggest bands BoomBox, singing in Sofiyskaya Square in Kyiv in a clip that went viral. 

Khlyvnyukh abandoned a world tour to return to Ukraine and help defend his country. 

"We, like so many, have been feeling the fury and the frustration of this vile act of an independent, peaceful democratic country being invaded and having its people murdered by one of the world's major powers," Pink Floyd said on their official Twitter feed. 

In a press release, band leader David Gilmour said he had been moved by Khlyvnyuk's video: "It was a powerful moment that made me want to put it to music." 

He was able to speak with Khlyvnyuk from his hospital bed in Kyiv, where the singer was recovering after being hit by shrapnel in a mortar attack, the record company said. 

"I played him a little bit of the song down the phone line and he gave me his blessing. We both hope to do something together in person in the future," Gilmour said. 

The image accompanying the song is of a sunflower, and was inspired by a viral video showing a Ukrainian woman insulting two armed Russian soldiers. 

In it, she tells the soldiers: "Take these seeds and put them in your pockets. That way sunflowers will grow when you all rest here." 

It is the first original music from Pink Floyd since 1994's "The Division Bell". 

Gilmour tweeted his opposition to the war soon after Russia's invasion, saying: "Putin must go". 

The band has also pulled their music from Russian and Belarusian streaming sites in protest at the invasion.


Friday, April 8, 2022

Qatar security guards trapped in 'forced labour': Amnesty

Yahoo – AFP, April 7, 2022 

Concern for the human rights of Qatar's army of migrant labourers has refused to go
 away as the World Cup nears, despite promised reforms by the emirate's rulers
(AFP/Tobias SCHWARZ) (Tobias SCHWARZ)

The UN labour agency joined Amnesty International Thursday in calling on World Cup hosts Qatar to protect thousands of security guards who a report said were victims of "forced labour". 

Guards posted at World Cup stadiums, ministries and offices often had to work months, sometimes years, without a day off, Amnesty said in a study. 

Qatar, where the World Cup starts on November 21, insists it has cracked down on hundreds of "unscrupulous" companies, but acknowledged that abuses still take place. 

An army of migrant labourers from Africa and Asia work as poorly paid guards across the tiny emirate whose energy wealth has fuelled a construction boom. Thousands more are being taken on for the World Cup. 

Amnesty said 34 current or former guards it interviewed "described routinely working 12 hours a day, seven days a week -- often for months or even years on end without a day off". One Bangladeshi guard said he did not get a day off for three years. 

"Physically and emotionally exhausted, workers kept reporting for duty under threat of financial penalties -- or worse, contract termination or deportation," said Stephen Cockburn, an Amnesty researcher. 

Those who took a legal weekly day off often had wages cut, Amnesty added. Guards also lost money for taking a toilet break without getting cover, taking a day off sick or just wearing their uniform "improperly". 

The men complained that they had to work outside in Qatar's notorious summer, when temperatures hit 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit). 

Guards from Uganda and Kenya said they had more jobs in the heat and received lower wages than other nationalities. 

Work or deportation

Following previous criticism, Qatar in 2017 introduced a minimum wage, cut the hours that can be worked in heat and ended part of a system which forced migrant workers to seek employers' permission to change jobs or even leave the country. 

But Amnesty said there is still a "massive power imbalance" between employers and migrant workers in Qatar, where trade unions are banned. 

"Qatar's laws on working time for security guards are clear but are too often violated," said Max Tunon, head of the UN's International Labour Organisation office in Doha. 

Overtime must be "voluntary, limited and paid at a higher rate" in line with the law, he added. 

In a veiled reference to World Cup organisers and other major Qatari enterprises, Tunon said: "Clients contracting security companies should do their due diligence and monitor the treatment of guards, including their working hours and living conditions." 

Qatar's World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy confirmed that three security companies involved in last year's Club World Cup and FIFA Arab Cup tournaments had been "blacklisted" from future projects. 

The three were found to be in "completely unacceptable" breaches of its Workers Welfare Standards. 

The committee said that in all, seven contractors had been blacklisted from its projects and more than 220 were on a watchlist. Fifty companies had been blocked by the labour ministry from World Cup projects. 

The committee said there will always be "contractors attempting to beat the system, regardless of stringent regulations or monitoring." 

The labour ministry said cases of abuse were falling and the Amnesty report had ignored progress made in Qatar since it was awarded the World Cup in 2010. "The reality is that no other country has come so far so quickly, but for some the pace of change will never be fast enough."

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Pakistan swears in Ayesha Malik as first woman supreme court judge

Yahoo – AFP, 24 January 2022

A photo released by Pakistan's Press Information Department shows Justice
Ayesha Malik being sworn in as a supreme court judge (AFP)

Pakistan swore in Ayesha Malik as its first female supreme court judge on Monday, a landmark occasion in a nation where activists say the law is often wielded against women. 

Malik attended a ceremony in the capital Islamabad where she now sits on the bench alongside 16 male colleagues at Pakistan's highest court. 

"I want to congratulate Justice Ayesha Malik on becoming the first woman judge of the Supreme Court," Prime Minister Imran Khan said. 

"I wish her all the best," he added on Twitter. 

Lawyer and women's rights activist Nighat Dad said Malik's promotion is "a huge step forward". 

"It is history in the making for Pakistan's judiciary," she told AFP. 

Malik was educated at Harvard University and served as a high court judge in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore for the past two decades. 

She has been credited with rolling back patriarchal legal mores in her Punjab province jurisdiction. 

Last year she outlawed a deeply invasive and medically discredited examination used to determine a woman's level of sexual experience. 

Women in Pakistan often struggle to gain justice in rape and sexual assault cases, and the test was deployed as a means of discrediting victims by casting aspersion on their character. 

Malik's elevation to the apex court of Pakistan may clear the way for more women to enter the historically conservative and male-dominated judiciary of the Islamic republic.

 "She has broken all barriers in the judicial system and it will allow other women in the system to move forward," said lawyer and women's rights activist Khadija Siddiqi. 

"I hope this will lead to more women-centric decisions by the judiciary in the future." 

But her appointment has been mired in controversy for the past four months, with claims she jumped a queue of more senior male candidates qualified for the post. 

Earlier this month the Pakistan Bar Council staged a strike to protest against Malik's nomination.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

China mulls bill to tackle workplace discrimination against women

Yahoo – AFP, December 25, 2021

Assembly-line workers at a factory in Fuyang in eastern China (AFP/STR)

Chinese lawmakers are discussing new rules to prevent workplace discrimination and sexual harassment against women amid a string of high-profile cases in recent months. 

A draft bill published Friday includes a ban on employers stating gender preferences on job ads and quizzing female applicants about their marital or pregnancy status –- a common practice that has been criticised for decades. 

Rapid economic growth in the past four decades coupled with the one-child rule has opened up more educational and employment opportunities for Chinese women. 

But women's participation in the workforce has dropped, due to gender-based filtering when hiring and as more women care for families amid a severe shortage of affordable childcare options. 

A report by Human Rights Watch in June found that one in five civil service job postings in 2019 specified a preference for male applicants. 

The report also says that it was a common practice for employers including schools to force female staff to sign contracts promising not to get pregnant for several years as a pre-condition for being hired. 

The proposed new rules come amid concerns that China's new three-child rule could make employers even more reluctant to hire women and as officials crack down on the local #MeToo movement after a string of cases that led to a public outcry over sexual assault in the workplace. 

Earlier this month, e-commerce giant Alibaba group fired a female staffer who had accused a manager of sexual assault. 

The proposed amendments will make enforcement easier by clearly defining what sexual harassment is, state-run Xinhua news agency said. 

According to a draft text published Friday, it prohibits "vulgar speech", "inappropriate physical behaviour" or "the display or dissemination of sexual images, information, text, audio or video". 

It also requires employers to set up mechanisms to prevent, investigate and respond to such complaints "without delay", but there were no details on any penalties for failing to do so. 

The amendments are open for public comment until January 22, 2022.

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