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Macedonian Activist Ends Hunger Strike for Migrant Rights

On Saturday, June 20, human rights expert and activist Suad Missini ended the hunger strike he started six days prior in protest of inhumane treatment of migrants passing through Macedonia. Mr. Missini issued the following statement [links added]:

While the effects of the changes of the Asylum Law are yet to be seen in practice, the conditions in the migrant center in Gazi Baba has not been improved. The refugees are still kept in the center which gains characteristics of a concentration camp, under impossible, inhuman and degrading conditions, out of the legal framework and international human rights standards which are part of the national legal system.

Authorities in Republic of Macedonia chose to remain deaf to the demands for solving of this problem by numerous international organizations and institutions. They act blind to the fact that the UN Committee Against Torture characterized the treatment of refugees in this center as torture and breach of the UN Convention Against Torture in its latest report. And all this while our country is a member of the UN Human Rights Council.

On the other hand, I'd like to stress that Macedonia, as member of Council of Europe (CoE), received a visit by the CoE Committee for Prevention of Torture, which included a visit to Gazi Baba center. This summer, the president of this committee Mikola Gnatovskij visited Macedonia and also talked to the authorities about this center, among other things. I emphasize that Macedonian authorities have still not issued approval for the report of this visit to be published.

Finally, two days before the start of the hunger strike, the Ombudsman of Republic of Macedonia presented the catastrophic situation and lawlessness that rule in this center.

Today, we can acknowledge that the public in Republic of Macedonia, as well as the international public and foreign media and organizations, are fully aware and informed about the problem with this center. These days, Gazi Baba center is an international topic. If the government decided that this catastrophic problem should not be a subject of immediate reaction and subsequent solution, then this definitely puts our country among those which openly and unscrupulously conduct torture, while the authorities are legitimized as institutions lead by persons which have no respect for human lives. The lives of hundreds of people detained within this center. And finally, about my life.

Therefore, on this day I end the hunger strike. Because the limits of health risks are already surpassed, and because the potentials of this strike are fulfilled.

My demands, which are demands by an enormous part of the public in Republic of Macedonia, are partially fulfilled.

My civic act was a drop which made waves, which, I sincerely hope, together with all the other efforts, will lead to solving of this problem which turns our country into an uncivilized space.

I am immensely grateful to the thousands who sincerely and unambiguously expressed their support, making this civil act as much theirs, as it was mine.

Meanwhile, Twitter users continue sharing leaked photos showing the conditions of detained refugees.

Human Rights Activist Begins Hunger Strike for Migrants in Front of Macedonian Parliament

The growing migration crisis has recently also affected countries in southeastern Europe, with new issues arising almost daily. Reacting to the inhumane treatment of migrants who pass through Republic of Macedonia, renowned human rights activist Suad Missini started a hunger strike in front of the Parliament building in Skopje. He began the strike immediately after publishing his three demands in a Facebook post on Sunday, June 14, which garnered almost 300 likes and over 90 shares in just the first day.

I am just starting a hunger strike.
In front of the Parliament.

I demand urgently and immediately:

  1. Urgent adoption of the changes of the Asylum law, that would enable safe transit or temporary stay of refugees passing through the Macedonian territory, as well as free use of all publicly available means of transport.
  2. Concrete and publicly announced measures by the Ministry of Interior in view to safeguard the life, security and possessions of refugees passing through Macedonia.
  3. Immediate liberation of all refugees and migrants detained in the Gazi Baba center and its immediate closure.

The strike will not end unless these demands are fulfilled.

Suad Missini

Thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and other war zones pass through Macedonia, traveling from Greece towards Serbia on a path to try to reach Germany or other well-off EU countries. The migrants used to follow the railway tracks on foot, suffering horrific “accidents.” Lately the migrants buy bicycles, reportedly at inflated prices, in southern Macedonian towns and cycle on the main highway. Many of them fall victim to human trafficking rings and gangs of robbers. Some of the refugees are held as “witnesses” in the Reception Center for Foreigners “Gazi Baba” in Skopje in what Macedonian Ombudsman Idzhet Memeti has called “inhuman, unhealthy, and undignified” conditions.

The Government is supposed to discuss the amendments to the  Asylum Law on June 16.

After Citizen Uprising in Burkina Faso and Burundi, Are Niger and Togo Next?

Protests in Niamey, Niger via Abdoulaye Hamidou on twitter (with his permission)

Protests in Niamey, Niger via Abdoulaye Hamidou on twitter (with his permission)

20,000 Nigeriens took to the streets in Niamey, Niger on June, 6. There are multiple causes for the protests: endemic poverty, mediocre governance and restricted free speech are among the main grievances from Nigerien civil society.   These protests come on the hill of similar uprisings in Burkina Faso, Burundi and Togo. The government resigned in Burkina Faso while elections are postponed in Burundi. In May, citizens in Lome protested presidential election results  that saw Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe won a third term.

FIFA Elections Are in Progress

Despite the recent arrests of FIFA officials due to indictments laid by the US Department of Justice, the world football governing body has said that its elections, which it calls the 65th FIFA Congress, will continue as scheduled today. Current FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who headed the organisation while the two-decade siege of corruption, bribery and money laundering was allegedly taking place, is seeking a fifth term at today's congress. Blatter has refused to resign amidst the scandal, despite several calls for him to step down.

You can watch the live feed of the FIFA elections here.

ISIS Fighters Capture Ramadi in Iraq

Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Al Anbar province, has been captured by ISIS fighters. Joey Ayoub is putting the story together, tracking citizen journalists reports, news and testimonies, on Global Voices Checkdesk, a partnership project between Global Voices and Meedan's Checkdesk.

The city, in central Iraq, is about 110 kilometres west of Baghdad and 50 kilometres west of Fallujah. Hundreds of people have reportedly been killed, and thousands forced to flee their homes.

ISIS, an Al Qaeda off-shoot, has come to control larges swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, attracting news headlines for the horror it has waged against civilians in areas they have occupied.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Assistance Mission for Iraq:

UN agencies are rushing humanitarian assistance to people fleeing Ramadi for the second time in a month.

Close to 25,000 people have fled Ramadi following ISIL attacks and fierce fighting in the city. Most of the displaced are fleeing towards Baghdad, with many trying to enter through security checkpoints.

The report adds:

Within the past month, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations have provided life- assistance to more than 130,000 people who fled Ramadi following ISIL attacks in April. Tens of thousands of kits and rations have been distributed to more than 35 locations across Anbar Governorate. Thousands of families who had fled earlier had returned to their homes in Ramadi, when fighting again broke out, forcing them to flee a second time.

In July, the food pipeline will break. “Nothing is more important right now than helping the people fleeing Ramadi. They are in trouble and we need to do everything possible to help them.” Lise Grande, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator said. “Thousands of people had to sleep in the open because they didn't have places to stay. We would be able to do much more if we had the funding.”

Candlelight Vigil for the 23 Victims of Boko Haram Suicide Bombings in Chad

Images in the aftermath of the bombings from Eric Topona with his permission

Image in the aftermath of the bombings from Eric Topona with his permission

Two suicide bombings killed at least 23 people Monday (June 15) in Chad's capital N'djamena. Chad government stated that four attackers belonged to extremist group Boko Haram and were killed by the blast which targeted police. More than 100 people were also injured in the incidents. Chad has committed his army against Boko Haram in Nigeria. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has repeatedly threatened to attack Chadian interests before monday's bombings. Chadian activist Abdelkerim Yacoub Koundougoumi Egrey announces that a candlelight vigil to show solidarity with the victims will take place in Paris, place de la république on June 16 at 18h.

candle

Mexican Indigenous Community Accuses Famous Designer of Plagiarism

French designer Isabel Marant has made a name for herself in the world of fashion, owing to her eclectic style, which blends materials and ethnic influences together in her designs. These creations carry a price tag starting in the hundreds of dollars.

However, for the authorities and citizens of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, a Mixe community in Mexico, they were more than just a source of inspiration. They accuse Marant of selling her creations as if they were her own take on the traditional dress of the territory.

“Tlahuitoltepec defends its embroidery; accuses Frenchwoman Isabel Marant of plagiarism”.

The famous dressmaker sells this piece for $290, close to 4,500 Mexican pesos, while the price of the garment in the indigenous community is around 600 pesos ($40).

Marant is “hijacking a cultural heritage for commercial benefit, which puts indigenous communities at risk, as well as the originality of the fashion industry”, maintained the mayor, Erasmo Hernández González, who stated that they will be taking legal action.

Did Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen's Ancient Marib Dam?

Unconfirmed reports say that Saudi coalition forces, which have been bombing Yemen for more than two months have targeted the Marib Dam, one of the engineering wonders of the ancient world.

On Twitter, Hussain Albukhaiti claims:

In a follow up tweet, Albukhaiti posts a photograph of ruins, of what he describes as the dam, which dates back to the 8th century BC and is considered the oldest known dam in the world:

The size of the destruction of Yemeni infrastructure and history is still unaccounted for. We are gathering information and leads here on the damage on Global Voices Checkdesk, a collaboration project between Meedan Checkdesk, an online news verification tool, and Global Voices Online.

Leave a comment here to contribute tips to this story or to join our team.

2 Reasons Why Madagascar's President Hasn't Been Impeached Yet (Contrary to Media Reports)

Screen Capture of Media Headlines about Madagascar via Google News

Screen capture of media headlines about Madagascar via Google News

Numerous media outlets have reported that Madagascar's President Hery Rajaonarimampianina has been impeached. While members of parliament have voted 121 in favor of his impeachment out of 125, there are a few reasons why the president is still projected to stay in charge for the time being:

  1. The constitutional court has to approve of the motion to impeach. The procedure may require a prolonged period to review the allegations.
  2. The legitimacy of the vote has been challenged over accusations of fraudulent counting.

Malagasy observers have weighed in on the motives behind the motion of impeachment.

#IFellAsleepToo: Sleeping Latin American Doctors Go Viral

It's a trending topic under the hashtag  #YoTambienMeDormi (#IFellAsleepToo). In one week, there have been 17,500 comments on Twitter. The stories of tens of thousands of doctors in Mexico and Latin America who are sharing pictures of them sleeping during their long hospital shifts have gone viral.

It all started when a blogger criticized a physician whose photo showed him sleeping, according to the BBC.

“We know this work is tiring, but they have the duty to fulfill their responsibilities while there are dozens of sick people who need their attention at any moment,” Noti-blog site reports, showing the photo of a medical resident at General Hospital 33 in Monterrey, México, who fell asleep at 3 am while filling out the records of that night's patient number 18.

I Fell Asleep Too, because we are not machines but human beings like everyone else

In addition to showing solidarity, the spontaneous campaign has also been a way to put a face the sacrifices people in the profession must make, including long meal-less, sleepless shifts, which are not always financially compensated nor always provide the necessary basics for the job.

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