‘Calling a halt to killings in Syria’: Irish Times 28/04/2012.

Calling a halt to killings in Syria

  • Sir, – Credible reports that Syrian security forces have murdered people who have had contact with UN monitors represent a challenge to all of us. The United Nations acts in our name. If silence represents complicity in the face of crimes against humanity, allowing the UN to be used to select people for summary execution makes us even more culpable, unless we take action to stop the killing.The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, even before these most recent crimes, had called for the referral of the Assad regime to the International Criminal Court.In the light of the string of recent atrocities, that makes a mockery of efforts to secure peace in Syria, surely the Dáil and Seanad will demand such action in an urgent resolution, and request the Minister for Foreign Affairs to seek to lobby the Security Council to act.Thousands have died as tanks and artillery have indiscriminately shelled besieged cities and snipers have targeted peaceful protesters. But the most egregious aspect of the Assad regime’s response has been the callous and indiscriminate targeting of children.

    Lois Whitman, children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, has stated: “Syrian security forces have killed, arrested, and tortured children in their homes, their schools, or on the streets. In many cases, security forces have targeted children just as they have targeted adults.. It’s clear from the brutal methods used against children that Syrian security forces show child detainees no mercy . . . We fear that children will continue to face horrendous punishment in detention until Syrian officials understand they will pay a price for such abuse.”

    If we fail to act, we may condemn thousands, including who knows how many children, to torture and death. The heart-rending memorial on April 6th in Sarajevo commemorating the outbreak of war, and which highlighted the deaths of more than 1,000 children in the indiscriminate slaughter of the siege, is a compelling reminder of how real that threat is in Syria. – Yours, etc,

    RONAN TYNAN; RANA KABBANI (Syrian Writer Broadcaster); CHRISTINE MURRAY (Web Master – Irish Pen); VALERIE HUGHES; Dr BRONAGH CATIBUSIC; MIRZA CATIBUSIC; BRENDAN SIMMS, (Author, Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia); GERALDINE MITCHELL; MICHAEL McLOUGHLIN (International Sec., Labour Party); GARRET TANKOSIC-KELLY (Former UN Resident Representative); FARUK KLEPO; PETER WALSH; ELVEDINA DIZDAREVIC and JOHN FEIGHERY.

    (from ,  The Irish Times , 28/04/2012)

    The following two links are about Tal Al-Mallouhi and are related to campaigns by PEN International to raise awareness of her plight  and her ongoing imprisonment..

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have mentioned Tal Al-Mallouhi in two posts recently. Tal is a poet imprisoned in Syria. I am adding a link to the PEN International appeal on her behalf, along with a link to her poem , You will remain an example .

I thought to edit one of these existent posts to include a letter published in today’s Irish Times (28/04/2012) which details the plight of those victims of the Assad regime , and the need for U.N intervention in increasing violences against the people of Syria.

Irish PEN , Urgent Need for Constitutional Referendum on Blasphemy In Ireland

I am linking here to the Irish PEN statement on Ireland’s need for a Constitutional Referendum on Blasphemy. Readers of this blog know that there is a link to the International PEN Statement on Defamation of Religions on the Site, and some links to the 2006-2009 Defamation Bill. I am adding here two links from Irish PEN, which is affiliated closely with International PEN.

Urgent Need for Irish Constitutional Referendum on Blasphemy
March 18th, 2011.

The Executive Committee of Irish PEN, the Irish Centre for PEN International, is campaigning for a constitutional referendum to be held on blasphemy in the Republic of Ireland by the end of 2011.

Why do we need a constitutional referendum?

Article 40.6.1.i of the Irish Constitution requires that blasphemy be banned and hence abolishing the offence requires a constitutional referendum.

Why is the move towards “defamation of religions” bad?

Human rights attach to individuals, not to states, organised groups or ideas. When governments seek to limit the rights of individuals to criticise, they are not seeking, as they claim, to protect faith or belief. Rather, they are seeking increased power over their citizens. Religions are capable of good and evil. To ensure that the good dominates, it is essential to maintain freedom of expression, ensuring writers are free to criticise them

Edit : 30/03/2011 : Press-Release from American PEN.

New York City, March 30, 2011—PEN American Center today praised the U.N. Human Rights Council for ending efforts to restrict speech considered offensive to religions, calling the Council’s recent unanimous vote on a religious tolerance resolution “a vital affirmation of the inextricably-linked rights of freedom of expression and religion.

“We are delighted that the OIC has come to share our view that in the necessary work of building mutual respect between the world’s religious traditions, the criminalization of speech about a religion—however offensive to its adherents—would have been an unhelpful step,” PEN President Kwame Anthony Appiah said today in New York. “This is especially so because incitement to violence on any basis, including religion, is already exempt from the wide protections for freedom of expression in international law.”

Beginning in 1997, a coalition of countries led by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has put forward a series on resolutions on “combating religious defamation” that contained language demanding that states ban blasphemy and other religious denigration. PEN and a number of other human rights organizations have lobbied against the proposals, warning that they would significantly erode crucial international and national protections for freedom of expression. In submissions to the Human Rights Council and in a presentation for U.N. delegates in Geneva this past September, PEN cited numerous cases where governments have used religious defamation laws to jail writers and suppress unpopular opinions, and it has insisted that blasphemy laws do little to achieve the stated goal of curbing religious bigotry.

Instead of reintroducing the religious defamation resolution at the current Human Rights Council session, the OIC presented a new resolution that focuses on ending religious discrimination. The resolution, which passed unanimously last Thursday, removes all references to protecting religions and shifts the emphasis to protecting individual believers, something PEN has long argued is the correct approach both in principle and in the law.

Related Links.