openDemocracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/ en "Demand the impossible": what the left should learn from 1968 https://www.opendemocracy.net/vasyl-cherepanyn/demand-impossible-what-left-should-learn-from-1968 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The legacy of 1968 is about the future of a united Europe and the left.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/deam.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/deam.jpg" alt="An Occupy Wall Street protest march in New York in 2011." title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An Occupy Wall Street protest march in New York in 2011. Image: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/blaineo/6192635103/" target="_blank">Blaine O&#39;Neill</a> (CC BY-NC 2.0) </span></span></span>In order to understand the legacy of 1968, we have to first consider its differing meanings for the west and east of Europe. For the west, May 1968 remains a symbol of liberation and rebellion against entrenched power structures and a landmark cultural moment. But in eastern Europe it is associated with the Prague Spring and Soviet military invasion of Czechoslovakia. On the fiftieth anniversary of 1968, this split continues to define political and cultural divides across the continent. Today, Europe is being confronted by many challenges: the refugee crisis, Brexit, terror attacks, the rise of far-right populism, and conflicts in the east and the Middle East. All of which confront us with the most burning questions: How can we sustain freedom and human rights when the state and international cooperation fall short? What could a new and just solidarity look like?</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Nation states are behaving like gated communities.</p><p>Europe is not just facing problems, it is also part of the problem. But if we are to counter right-wing populism, first we need a European political coalition brave enough to be critical of the European Union. As one of the leaders of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany’s (AfD) youth organisation said at its party congress in June: “The European Union must die so that Europe can live.” By not addressing the EU’s failings, the left has allowed the right and far right to fill the vacuum. We are still defending the present political status quo when this status quo itself has to be questioned.</p><p>The dominant type of EU governance today is externalising problems beyond Europe’s borders, pushing conflicts to the outside to keep the interior safe. As a result of this strategy of bordering conflicts and punishing the peripheries for the Union’s own crisis, we are observing the return of the repressed – the EU is actually surrounded by a belt of wars in its south and east, unavoidably accompanied with an influx of migrants fleeing conflict. The logic of borders is being multiplied inside what was supposed to be a borderless zone; a new European tribalism is on the rise defining the political agenda. Nation states are behaving like gated communities and migrants are being used as scapegoats for problems that predate their arrival.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">It’s time we acknowledged the sacred cow of the present state of affairs: liberal democracy.&nbsp;</p><p>It’s time we acknowledged the sacred cow of the present state of affairs: liberal democracy. Isn’t it symptomatic that a common negative signifier of all the political trends that we usually dislike or are frightened with is called “illiberalism” today? The only ideological name liberalism is able to find for its political opponents or enemies is simply “non-liberal” – as if the political spectrum solely contains something that is liberal, and “the rest”, which is not. What a reduced perception and lowered horizon of politics dominate nowadays! Democracy itself has entered a populist modus operandi which conceals political alternatives.&nbsp;</p><p>Whenever we face ideological polarisation, discontent, fear or anger, our typical strategy today is to go back to the “norm”, to the political center that can save us from the extremes. That was, in particular, a recipe of Macron’s success, billed as the “great savior” of Europe, an anti-populist populist proposing “an alternative” from the heart of the establishment. But the root of the problem does not actually lie in the extremes, it is in the center. A populist extreme is a result of the political center’s inability to deal with inequality. The reason why the AfD could unprecedentedly enter the German Bundestag is not because of the country’s strategy of accepting migrants has backfired, as many commentators have come to assume. But because of the political center’s post-ideological “gut und gerne leben” (“live well and happy”) agenda, to quote from Merkel’s famous electoral slogan in 2017. If there is no alternative, one will get Alternative (for Germany).</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The left has abandoned utopia – and now the far-right have become the visionaries proposing a dystopian future.</p><p>Politics is foremost about dissensus, and the center is currently able to propose only a “non-ideological” “neutral” consensus, with all dissensus and critique taken up by right-wingers. After 1968, we have observed a striking crash of the left. First, it abandoned the working class, then the proletarised middle class. Ultimately, the left has abandoned the people, populus as such – and now it is the far-right who claim to speak “in the name of the people”. The left has abandoned utopia – and now the far-right have become the visionaries proposing a dystopian future. The extreme right has learned lessons from the left, and is even trying now to create a kind of nationalist International. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon is attempting to unite Europe’s far-right populists by the European Parliament elections in 2019 on the basis of an organisation in Brussels called The Movement (sic!).</p><p>The basic political lesson to be drawn from the 20th century for the left today is that it’s over. There is no recipe from the past to follow, we have to formulate new responses to the challenges of today. But what unites the revolt of 1968 and the recent “square movements” throughout the globe is that the political action in both cases took the form of occupying the public space. The problem, then as now, is the lack of a longer term vision for taking power.&nbsp;</p><p>Any progressive movement would do well to remember the famous motto of the Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organisation: “Be prepared! – Always prepared!” The problem today is that the far-right is getting ready and the left is not. Realpolitik is conducted not on the squares, but by organised structures and institutions after the revolution. The very notion of revolution has been fetishised, which overlooks that hard-won victories can be reversed without a proper political structure to implement its agenda and incorporate it into society.</p><p>At a time when authoritarian and fascizoid pathologies are cynically pretending to be the new norm, what we need is not a pseudo-liberal “balanced objectivity” – which is not just simplistic but also harmful – but a new political subjectivity. The great value of the notion of subjectivity – both in philosophical and political terms – is that by employing it we also are immediately reinstating and emphasising the existence of truth. We live today not in the post-truth world but in the pre-truth world – in a world where truth has not arrived yet. And truth is not only concrete, as Hegel put it, but also always partisan and subjective. There is no other genuine politics than the politics of truth.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The only realistic political strategy is indeed to demand the impossible.</p><p>If there is any basic political principle necessary to follow today, it is the most famous slogan of May 1968 – “Be realistic – demand the impossible!” The most dominant ideology at present is a fusion of neoliberalism, austerity and nationalistic hatred. Militarism, xenophobia, social and economic discrimination, isolationism, impoverishment are not just possible, they are welcomed. While welfare, affordable housing, living wages, free healthcare are deemed “unrealistic”.</p><p>The boundaries of the possible have radically shifted, and what was hard to predict even a decade ago – wars in Ukraine and Syria, ISIS, extreme right-wing populism on such a scale, Brexit, Trump – became not just possible, but normalised. In such difficult political times, it’s not enough to defend what little we have, hoping for moderate reforms. On the contrary, reforming the existing system is becoming harder and harder to the point where a complete transformation may be more feasible.</p><p>That’s why the only realistic political strategy is indeed to demand the impossible. In other words, the impossible is a disruption, in which politics becomes possible. If we don’t demand the impossible, we will lose what seems to be still possible today.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/gregory-leffel/revolution-that-will-not-die">1968: The revolution that will not die </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/giorgos-charalambous/left-radicalism-fifty-years-after-1968-capitalist-state-and-political-science">Left radicalism fifty years after 1968: the capitalist state and political science </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/madeleine-davis-and-ross-speer/rebirth-of-small-dark-stranger-black-dwarf-british-new-left-and-19">Rebirth of a small dark stranger: The Black Dwarf, the British New Left, and 1968</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/hilary-wainwright/spirit-of-1968-inextinguishable-50-years-later">The spirit of 1968 is inextinguishable – even 50 years later</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? 1968 Vasyl Cherepanyn Wed, 12 Dec 2018 15:49:00 +0000 Vasyl Cherepanyn 120974 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Crisis in the Azov sea: the fate of Ukraine’s naval personnel in Russia https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/alona-savchuk/crisis-in-the-azov-sea <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What happened in the Black Sea on 25 November, and what awaits the Ukrainian personnel held in Russia? <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/alena-savchuk/delo-ukrainskih-moryakov" target="_self">RU</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/PA-39926668_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/PA-39926668_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="287" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kerch Strait. Photo: Bai Xueqi / Xinhua News Agency / PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Early in the morning of 25 November, three Ukrainian vessels – the Nikopol gunboat, the Berdyansk gunboat, and the Yany Kapu tugboat – set sail from the Black Sea port of Odessa and advanced towards Mariupol, on the Sea of ​​Azov, via the Kerch Strait. The Ukrainian Navy would subsequently describe this as a “planned movement” of ships.</p><p dir="ltr">In accordance with international norms, the Ukrainian navy had given the Russian side advance warning of their intentions, notifying a coast guard post of the FSB’s Border Service, as well as the seaports of Kerch and Kavkaz, that the vessels would be passing through the Kerch Strait. Though the information was received, no response followed. The FSB later declared that the Ukrainian vessels had “violated Russian territorial waters” and dispatched four ships to confront them. One of these ships, the border guard patrol ship Don, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcTSDaCg5xA">rammed</a> the Yany Kapu tugboat (according to an investigation by Bellingcat, Russian ships <a href="https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/11/30/investigating-the-kerch-strait-incident">rammed the latter at least four times</a>). Russian ships then blocked passage under the Kerch Bridge by running aground a tanker on the ​​Azov side, and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkrz4I5ni0Q">scrambled</a> two missile-armed combat helicopters to escort the Ukrainian ships.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-small'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Bildschirmfoto 2018-12-06 um 14.51.32_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_small/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Bildschirmfoto 2018-12-06 um 14.51.32_0.png" alt="" title="" width="160" height="214" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-small imagecache imagecache-article_small" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Berdyansk gunboat after the damage. Source: Franak Viačorka / Twitter.</span></span></span>The blocking of the passage to the Azov Sea continued until the evening. At 19:00 Kyiv time, the Ukrainian ships made to exit the Kerch Strait and return to Odessa, only for Russian vessels to set off in pursuit with demands that they stop their engines. The Ukrainian ships had already left the 12-mile (22.2-kilometre) territorial zone around Crimea when the Russian ships opened fire on the Berdyansk, damaging it. The Nikopol and the Yany Kapu were forced to stop, and all three ships were subsequently seized by Russian special forces.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://news.liga.net/politics/video/ruki-vverh-strelyaem-liganet-publikuet-peregovory-na-azove">Audio recordings of the exchanges</a> between the two sides have captured shoot-to-stop threats issued to the crew of the Berdyansk by the Russian coast guard ship Izumrud, with crew members ordered to appear on deck with their hands up. In response, Roman Mokryak, the Ukrainian vessel’s captain, requested assistance, informing the Russian side that there were wounded men on board and reiterating that the ship had already left the 12-mile zone and wasn’t engaging in armed aggression or violating passage rules.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Command lost contact with the Ukrainian personnel after midnight. “The fate of the sailors isn’t known to us,” said Viktor Muzhenko, chief of the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces. Later, the FSB reported that the border patrol boat delivered the wounded Ukrainian sailors to Kerch City Hospital No. 1, following which Russian ships escorted the captured Ukrainian vessels to the port of Kerch along with the rest of the crew.</p><h2>“This is economic aggression”&nbsp;</h2><p dir="ltr">The Kerch Strait situation began to deteriorate six months ago. In late April 2018, the FSB Border Service’s Coast Guard began selectively detaining and inspecting both Ukrainian and foreign merchant ships en route to and from Mariupol and Berdyansk. The weeks after the opening of the Kerch Bridge saw a steady proliferation in the number of such incidents, with all passing vessels being stopped for inspection since the end of June.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">According to Andriy Klimenko, editor-in-chief of BlackSeaNews, 110 inspections <a href="https://www.blackseanews.net/read/142725">took place between 17 May and 31 October</a>. These inspections would unfurl along the following lines: under cover of night, a coast guard boat would approache a large ship carrying tens of thousands of tonnes of cargo and demand that it stop its engines. Armed balaclava-clad individuals then board the ship, herd the sailors into the mess and proceed to check their documents, paying particular attention to any Ukrainian citizens. Claiming that they’re on the lookout for weapons and explosives, this group then set about inspecting the cabins, the hold and the crew’s luggage.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Ships cannot pass under the Kerch Bridge simultaneously in both directions – they must do so in sequence. First a number of vessels from the ​​Azov Sea to the Black Sea, then vice versa. The FSB inspections meant a significantly longer waiting period. By October, ships would be waiting three days for clearance to enter the Azov Sea and four to leave it – a circumstance that entailed the disruption of delivery schedules and additional expenses for the shipowner to the tune of $5,000 to $15,000 a day. It was only to be expected that demand for entry to Ukrainian ports diminished, while the competitiveness of the ports themselves tailed off.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“The detention of ships in the Sea of ​​Azov constitutes pressure on the economic system of Ukraine”</p><p dir="ltr">“The detention of ships in the Sea of ​​Azov constitutes pressure on the economic system of Ukraine. Their goal is to exert the greatest possible influence on the activities of Ukrainian ports in two seas through exports and currency supply, and, in so doing, to exacerbate the economic situation in Ukraine. This is economic aggression,” <a href="https://www.liga.net/politics/articles/pole-boya---voda-kak-moskva-davit-na-ukrainu-azovskom-more">insisted</a> Boris Babin, the permanent representative of the Ukrainian president in Crimea, as early as June of this year.</p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_205">2003 Ukraine-Russia agreement</a> regarding the common use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait defines the Azov Sea as “internal waters” of both countries and stipulates that it may be freely used by both countries’ military and commercial vessels. Since the annexation of Crimea, however, the rules of passage through the Kerch Strait, which is also the sole entrance to the Azov Sea, have been arbitrarily determined by Russia. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In an attempt to reverse the course of events, Ukraine undertook a dual strategy, doing its utmost to draw attention to Russia’s actions and enlist the support of international institutions while simultaneously strengthening its positions on the Sea of ​​Azov.</p><p dir="ltr">In late October, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in which it condemned Russia’s actions in the Sea of ​​Azov, denounced the construction of the Kerch Bridge and called for an intensification of sanctions against the Russian Federation if the conflict were to develop further. The European Parliament’s censure was echoed by the US.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/PA-39263373.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/PA-39263373.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mariupol sea trade port. Photo: Ivanov Stanislav / Zuma Press / PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>“These aggressive actions in the Sea of ​​Azov, where Russia is obstructing access to Ukrainian ports, are violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and undermining international law,” US diplomat Jonathan Cohen told the UN Security Council at the time.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Navy had begun transferring its ships to the Sea of ​​Azov, with two small Gurza-M-class armoured artillery boats transported there by land in September. The Gurza-M ships immediately began escorting merchant ships from Mariupol and Berdyansk to the Kerch Strait. The number of FSB inspections instantly declined: there were eight in September, two in October, and none at all in November.</p><p dir="ltr">In late September, two more naval vessels, the Donbas command ship and the Korets tugboat, crossed the Strait en route from Odessa to Mariupol. This came as a surprise for the Russian side, who hadn’t been asked to green-light the crossing; nonetheless, they neglected to respond. But on 25 November, when the Ukrainians decided to replicate this earlier manoeuvre with three further ships, their attempt to do precipitated an armed attack against, and subsequent capture of, the vessels and their crew.</p><h2>Criminal proceedings in occupied Crimea</h2><p dir="ltr">Immediately after the Ukrainian ships were captured, the FSB announced that it had opened a criminal case against the Ukrainian personnel on charges of illegal border crossing. The FSB also <a href="https://riafan.ru/1125046-stali-izvestny-lichnosti-zaderzhannykh-ukrainskikh-voennykh-v-kerchi">publicised details</a> about the Berdyansk’s three wounded crew members (all of whom were taken to the traumatology department of Kerch City Hospital) via pro-regime media. The crew members were named as Andriy Artemenko, Vasyl Soroka (subsequently confirmed to be a Ukrainian security service officer by the SBU), and 18-year-old Andriy Eider (the youngest of the captured servicemen). “They have been given medical treatment and are not in mortal danger,” RIA Novosti <a href="https://ria.ru/world/20181126/1533503358.html">reported</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">By that time the Ukrainian navy had already lost contact with the ships’ crews and wasn’t providing any information about the sailors’ identities. Moreover, the Russian and Ukrainian sides differed in their claims regarding how many people had actually been taken prisoner: while Russian ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova reported that 24 servicemen had been captured, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces put the number at 23.</p><p dir="ltr">On the evening of 26 November, the FSB published a video showing the interrogation of three Ukrainians – captain Volodymyr Lisovoy, sailor Serhiy Tsybizov and SBU counterintelligence officer Andriy Drach. The videos show the sailors repeating formulas used by the Russian security services: “I recognise that our actions were provocative in nature”; “we entered the territorial waters of the Russian Federation”; “we were repeatedly warned about acting in contravention of Russian legislation”. Ukrainian Navy Commander Ihor Voronchenko responded by affirming that the sailors had “provided false testimonies under psychological and physical duress”, including testimony regarding Drach’s affiliation with the SBU. On the morning of the next day, however, the agency’s press service <a href="https://ssu.gov.ua/ua/news/1/category/2/view/5463#.3khEKwK6.dpbs">confirmed</a> that two SBU officers were present on board the ships.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Bildschirmfoto 2018-12-06 um 14.57.30_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Bildschirmfoto 2018-12-06 um 14.57.30_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="337" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Volodymyr Lisovoy. Photo: Kommersant Photo Agency/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Lawyers subsequently passed on to the sailors a letter of support from Admiral Voronchenko. “I understand how hard things are for you now. The Navy’s combat sailors all have an understanding attitude towards the so-called testimony currently being demanding from you. After all, the working methods of the Russian special services are a secret to no one,” the commander wrote. “You acted legally, professionally and in accordance with the norms of international maritime law and existing treaties. The law is on our side – and the whole world understands that.”</p><p dir="ltr">At roughly the same time the FSB broadcast the sailor’s tesitmony, reports emerged that that the Kiev District Court of Simferopol would choose the form of pre-trial restraint against the Ukrainian sailors on 27 November. Over a dozen Crimean lawyers involved in various political trials on the peninsula began working on the case, scouring the peninsula in an effort to find their clients – but to no avail.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The lawyers managed to discover some initial details about the incident, and about the psychological and physical condition of the Ukrainian servicemen, immediately before the start of court proceedings in Simferopol. At the same time, the total number of captured sailors (24) was definitively established, as were their identities. According to the lawyers, not a single serviceman mentioned being beaten to the defence counsel, but some did confirm that they were “subjected to psychological duress to elicit the necessary testimonies”. A case in point was Serhiy Tsybizov, one of the sailors filmed for the FSB video, who explained what happened to lawyer Oksana Zheleznyak and gave her a handwritten note to pass on to his family: “All’s fine with me. Don’t worry. Love and kisses to everyone!”</p><p dir="ltr">On 27 November, the Kiev District Court of Simferopol remanded twelve Ukrainian sailors into custody at a pre-trial detention centre until 25 January; another nine sailors were remanded on the following day, with no exception being made even for Simferopol resident Denys Gritsenko. Gritsenko’s parents attended his hearing and confirmed that if he were to be placed under house arrest, they would be ready to provide him with accommodation and care.</p><p dir="ltr">“If [he] remains at large, fearing the severity of the punishment, having no permanent residence in the Russian Federation, being citizens of another state, [the suspect] can conceal himself from the preliminary investigation and the court, threaten witnesses, destroy evidence” – it was in these terms that the FSB investigation argued for the necessity of keeping every one of the sailors in custody at the detention centre.</p><p dir="ltr">A similar ruling was made by Kerch City Court vis-à-vis the three wounded sailors. Yet lawyer Alexey Ladin learned about the previous court hearings in the late evening from the Russian media.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Under interrogation, POWs are obliged to provide nothing more than their surname, name, rank, date of birth and personal number – Russian investigators had no right to ask any additional questions</p><p dir="ltr">“For a whole day I was unable to ascertain the exact whereabouts in Kerch of my client Vasily Soroka,” said Ladin. “I spent the whole day trying to get through to the investigator so I could ask about the upcoming hearing regarding the imposition of pre-trial restraint against him. The investigator got five missed calls from me along with a text message and a voicemail.” Such conduct on the part of the investigation, added Ladin, would suggest that “impermissible measures of some kind” have been used against the sailors.</p><p dir="ltr">In his motion for the arrest of the Ukrainian servicemen, Sergei Kulakov, Deputy Head of the Investigation Department of the Crimean FSB, accused them of “crossing the state border of the Russian Federation without proper permission,” and doing so as an “organised group” (punishable by up to six years’ imprisonment as per Article 322.3 of the Russian Criminal Code). The investigation insists that the sailors acted “jointly and in concert, undertaking dangerous manoeuvres that posed a danger to ship navigation”. None of the Ukrainian servicemen pleaded guilty in court.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Bildschirmfoto 2018-12-06 um 15.03.22_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Bildschirmfoto 2018-12-06 um 15.03.22_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="278" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Yany Kapu before the incident. Source: FSB.</span></span></span>“Yuri [Budzylo, the Yany Kapu’s midshipman] said he had no access to any documents or information regarding the vessel’s route and lacked the authority to issue orders to other crew members. All he knew was that they had to sail from the port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol,” said Ayder Azamatov, Budzylo’s lawyer.</p><p dir="ltr">“We were stood there, waiting for the pilot, and then we were attacked. We didn’t violate anyone’s border. I don’t consider myself guilty,” Edem Semedlyaev, lawyer of Oleh Melnychuk, the Yany Kapu’s captain, quoted his client as saying. “He understands that these are political actions being pursued by Russia in an attempt to discredit Ukraine.”</p><p dir="ltr">Despite the fact that the Russian Federation has repeatedly described the captured sailors as having violated rules on crossing the state border and is “processing” them under its Criminal Code, Ukraine has consistently communicated its position: Russia’s actions constitute armed aggression, the captured sailors are prisoners of war and, as such, are entitled to the protection of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war.</p><p dir="ltr">“The detained Ukrainian sailors were all on-duty Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel and they were all wearing appropriate identification tags – a fact contested neither by Russia nor Ukraine. There is therefore no doubt that the Ukrainian sailors are combatants and that they acquired the status of prisoners of war following their detention,” <a href="https://ru.krymr.com/a/pochemu-zaderzhannie-ukrainskie-moryaki-voennoplennie/29625551.html">explains</a> international law expert Evgeniya Andreyuk.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Russia was obliged to inform Ukraine and the International Committee of the Red Cross about any actions undertaken in respect of the sailors immediately after detaining them, and to grant Red Cross representatives access to them. Under interrogation, POWs are obliged to provide nothing more than their surname, name, rank, date of birth and personal number – Russian investigators had no right to ask any additional questions. Furthermore, the Russian side was obliged to provide the sailors with living conditions comparable to those enjoyed by Russian servicemen; under no circumstances should they have placed them in pre-trial detention or temporary holding facilities.</p><h2>Custody in Crimea: solidarity and support</h2><p dir="ltr">It became evident after the first day of court proceedings that the Ukrainian sailors would all be held in pre-trial detention for two months. While the Ukrainian agencies busied themselves with making statements and threatening Russia with sanctions, Crimea’s activists swung into action. Close to midnight on 27 November, Nariman Dzhelyalov, an activist from the Crimean Tatars national movement, announced a collection of essential items, clothing and money for the sailors. “They’ve nothing on them save their military uniforms,” the lawyers explained.</p><p dir="ltr">At this point, the 12 Ukrainian servicemen arrested on the first day were already confined in Simferopol pre-trial detention centre. Other detainees had collected some tea, coffee and a few odds and ends of clothing for them.</p><p dir="ltr">The morning of the next day saw people from all over Crimea bringing toiletries, clothing, shoes and food to the courthouse in Simferopol. Furthermore, the volunteers amassed over 200,000 roubles’ worth of donations. In Kyiv, meanwhile, Ukrainian journalist Osman Pashayev announced that he’d be collecting funds for the sailors – and raised over 400,000 hryvnia within three days.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">The morning of the next day saw people from all over Crimea bringing toiletries, clothing, shoes and food to the courthouse in Simferopol</p><p dir="ltr">“Someone wrote in my comments recently, ‘Ukrainians, where are you?’ And an ordinary Ukrainian [from Crimea] has just passed on 44 pairs of trainers [to the captured sailors]. They’re all brand new,” said Crimean Tatar activist Riza Asanov.</p><p dir="ltr">Working late into the evening of 29 November, volunteers carried on collecting and buying essentials and clothes. Parcelling up and weighing food in accordance with the requirements of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service, they prepared care packages for the detained Ukrainian sailors. With this work in full swing, the servicemen’s lawyers received initial reports regarding their clients’ relocation from Crimea.</p><p dir="ltr">It wasn’t until midnight that all the lawyers’ and activists’ sources concurred that the Ukrainian sailors, the wounded ones included, had been relocated to Moscow. After this was confirmed in the capital, Russian journalist Victoriya Ivleva announced another fundraiser for the Ukrainians, raising just short of 400,000 roubles in three days.</p><p dir="ltr">On 3 December, Crimean Tatar activists delivered care packages they’d put together on the peninsula to Moscow. “My friends and I took it upon ourselves to bring over the items and food we collected for them in Crimea, and to get the care packages to them with the help of local friends to give them a bit of normality in such a depressing place,” explained Dzhelyalov. The Crimeans were assisted in their endeavour by Moscow-based activists and human rights defenders.</p><h2>Moscow: “standard conditions”</h2><p dir="ltr">On the morning of 30 November, Lyudmila Lubina, Commissioner for Human Rights in Crimea, officially confirmed that the crews of the three ships had, to a man, been relocated from the peninsula to Moscow “for the duration of the investigation”. By lunchtime, representatives of the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission had found 21 sailors in the Lefortovo pre-trial detention centre, and the three wounded in the medical unit of the Matrosskaya Tishina detention centre.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">“The detainees are living in standard conditions – that means cells 1.5 metres across and 2 metres long, iron beds, mattresses, wool blankets, green-painted walls. Later they’ll be transferred to cells with cellmates – these will have fridges and possibly TVs. The Ukrainians said they’re feeling fine. They ate buckwheat porridge in the morning and were given an hour of yard time. They’ll be given books to read after lunch,” <a href="https://tvrain.ru/blog/blog_kogershyn_sagievoj/zhalob_na_uslovija_soderzhanija_net_kogershyn_sagieva_posetila_ukrainskih_morjakov_v_lefortovo-494/">reported</a> Moscow PMC member Kogershyn Sagiyeva following a visit to Lefortovo. Though the sailors voiced no complaints about their detention conditions, she added, they were unhappy at the fact that they’d been deprived of contact with their relatives.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We can definitively state that absolutely nothing is decided in the Russian courts. The courts’ job is to translate the political will of the regime into procedural form”</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, Sagiyeva’s fellow PMC member Pavel Pyatnitsky reported on the wounded sailors. They’d all sustained fragment wounds, he said: Vasily Soroka and Andriy Artemenko to the arm, Andriy Eider to the legs. Artemenko had also suffered damage to his sclerae.</p><p dir="ltr">“Immediately upon admission, all three were examined by the therapist, surgeon, neuropathologist and infectious disease specialist. They underwent ECGs and ultrasound scans and had their bloods taken. Artemenko will also be examined by an ophthalmologist. The hospital’s head doctor has assessed the condition of all three patients as being stable and satisfactory,” said Pyatnitsky. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Russian lawyer Nikolai Polozov, who’s defending Captain Denys Gritsenko and coordinating the overall defence of the Ukrainian sailors, stresses that all information regarding the sailors’ health and detention conditions requires official confirmation. As of yet, the FSB’s Investigative Department has neglected to grant the lawyers access to the detainees; nor have Ukrainian diplomats and ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova been given permission to visit them. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">“A practice has evolved in Lefortovo whereby the investigator must approve lawyers’ access to their clients,” explains Polozov. “The FSB’s Investigation Department has so far failed to respond to my applications for access to the pre-trial detention centre. And it remains unclear who the case investigator is, whether an investigation team has been put together, and whether the case has been transferred from Simferopol to Moscow.”</p><p dir="ltr">That said, Polozov believes that the defence can and should use this pause (“taken for some reason by the FSB agencies”) to coordinate their position. At the moment, the primary objective is to assemble a team of lawyers from a list featuring “50-odd people”: “It’s imperative that there aren’t any special service moles in this team.” Polozov notes that this tactic of undermining the defence is quite standard in serious political trials.</p><p dir="ltr">On the evening of 7 December, Mammet Mambetov, who represents Ukrainian seaman Andriy Oprysko, reported that he was contacted by a Russian investigator, who planned to conduct “investigative tasks” relating to Oprysko on 11 December in Moscow. </p><p dir="ltr">On the same evening, Ukraine’s human rights commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova stated that the Ukrainian consul in Moscow had visited three injured seamen in the Matrosskaya tishina prison, and four seamen in Lefortovo prison. According to Serhiy Pohoreltsev, the condition of the wounded men is satisfactory: the injuries are from shrapnel, the men’s bones and joints are intact. The Ukrainian seamen held in Lefortovo have not made any complaints about conditions, and asked about their wounded comrades and passed on greetings to their families. Pohoreltsev confirmed that the Ukrainian prisoners had received parcels from activists in Crimea, and reported that he was planning to visit the remaining naval personnel on Tuesday and Wednesday.</p><p dir="ltr">As regards the development of events in the case, Crimea’s Supreme Court is imminently due to consider the sailors’ appeals against their detention. The detainees will most likely take part in hearings via video link.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite the active involvement of lawyers in the case of the Ukrainian sailors, Nikolai Polozov is convinced that their fate depends “utterly and entirely” on the Kremlin’s political will: “We can definitively state that absolutely nothing is decided in the Russian courts. The courts’ job is to translate the political will of the regime into procedural form. The decision will depend on the political lie of the land: if the latter’s unfavourable, a decision regarding an exchange will materialise earlier, and if not, then why even bother with the issue? Let them stay in jail.”</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/tetiana-bezruk/crisis-in-azov-sea">The crisis in the Azov Sea</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/alona-savchuk/how-russias-security-services-target-crimean-tatars-as-islamic-terrorists">How Russia’s security services target Crimean Tatars as “Islamic terrorists”</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/egor-skovoroda/crimea-peninsula-of-torture">Crimea: peninsula of torture</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Alona Savchuk Ukraine Wed, 12 Dec 2018 13:18:16 +0000 Alona Savchuk 120970 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How to treat a stranger in need: a moral response to the migrant caravans https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/don-mackenzie-jamal-rahman-and-ted-falcon/how-to-treat-stranger-in-need-moral-respons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Throughout history, the story of Exodus has inspired people around the world fleeing persecution.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/YESMagazine.jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p><p class="image-caption">Aerial view of Salvadoran migrants crossing the Suchiate River to Mexico, from Ciudad Tecun Uman, Guatemala, making their way to the U.S. on November 2, 2018.&nbsp;Credit: Carlos Alonzo/AFP/Getty Images via YES! Magazine. All rights reserved.</p> <p>Migrants fleeing persecution and violence in their homes and seeking refuge is a narrative often repeated in the troubled history of humankind. As Jews and Christians, we celebrate the biblical story of an entire people taken from slavery to journey toward the Promised Land.</p> <p>Like the Central Americans fleeing violence as well as economic and political instability in their home countries, the Israelites also found themselves unwelcome as they wandered through the wilderness.</p> <p>Yet, over time, the story of the Exodus has served as an inspiration for many groups, including non-Jewish people, fleeing persecution. In the Muslim tradition, the Hijra, the migration of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina, reflects this same transition.</p> <p>But while comparisons to these ancient events are compelling, they are also complicated. What is critical is realizing that all of us continually seek greater safety for ourselves and our families. And we believe that when called on by our faith traditions to provide that same safety and comfort to strangers, we are obligated to answer that call.</p> <p><strong>Pastor Don Mackenzie</strong></p> <p>Tragically, Christianity is part of the reason for a migration. Christian supremacy, a close cousin of White supremacy, is a source of oppression that forces the movement of populations. It is also a condition of imprisonment—although rarely named and understood as such—preventing people from participating in a more inclusive understanding of what it means to be human.</p> <p>It may be that almost all of the immigrants massing at our southern border are, in fact, Christian. But they are also, for the most part, Brown-skinned Hispanics. The role played by cultural Christianity in this particular migration is one that creates a fear of “other”—the one different from Christian White people. The need to feel that Christianity (and being White) is superior, reflects an extremely deep need to feel valued.</p> <p>As a pastor, I believe the lack of self-esteem, coupled with the cultural conviction that Christianity is superior to all other spiritual paths, constitutes the driver for both the oppressive and imprisoning nature of the behavior of those who claim Christianity as a spiritual path.</p> <p>From a spiritual point of view, the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth would suggest that we welcome the migrants. We need them. They need us. And from a spiritual point of view, we must also recognize the ways we in the United States help to create a climate of need in other parts of the world.</p> <p>Free trade is not the same as fair trade. The standard of living in the United States is much higher than it is in Central and South America. The support of repressive political regimes in other parts of the world helps to sustain the needs of the United States at the expense of the needs of other nations.</p> <p>All these things are rooted in the conviction that America (like Christianity and like being White) is, in fact, divinely ordained to be superior and entitled to the best of everything. None of these things is consistent with the unconditional love and essential inclusivity of Jesus’ teachings. The “us against them,” driven by fear of the other, has eclipsed the substance of Christianity’s teachings. Were we to recover that substance, the need for migration would be lessened and we would be able to grow toward a greater inclusivity and hospitality.</p> <p><strong>Imam Jamal Rahman</strong></p> <p>The migrant caravan raises spiritual questions. How should we treat those who are in dire need, especially when they offer us no immediate advantage, and we have problems of our own?</p> <p>For Muslims, the answer lies in a chapter of the Quran titled, “He Frowned.” Surrounded by powerful enemies who sought to destroy his embryonic community, the Prophet Muhammad<strong>&nbsp;</strong>sought treaties with local tribes. During negotiations with a powerful chieftain, an old blind man interrupted with questions about the Quran. The Prophet frowned, and, according to the Quran, received a revelation that night: “And the one who regards himself as self-sufficient you pay attention…but as for the one who came eagerly to you and with an inner awe you disregarded.”</p> <p>The message here is that we need to give priority to the dispossessed migrants who are traveling “with an inner awe” for the safety and opportunity of our blessed land. When we do what is just and compassionate, we are, in good time, rewarded by the spirit in ways we cannot imagine.</p> <p>Another question is how can we deal with those whose hearts are opposed to helping them? Influenced by a president who recklessly makes unsubstantiated claims that within the caravan lurk rapists, drug dealers, and terrorists, some Americans agree the response should be to build a wall and deploy the military to the border. Some hearts have become blind to the humanity of these desperate people.</p> <p>How do we open blinded hearts? If our own hearts are open, these vibrations will open other hearts. We are unimaginably interconnected, as the prophet experienced when he fled to Medina from Mecca in 622 CE. Having escaped death in Mecca, he requested the inhabitants of Medina to open their hearts and homes to the exiles from Mecca. Those who opened their hearts had a cumulative effect on those whose hearts were clenched. This laid the groundwork for an Islamic civilization to flourish from that nascent community in Medina.</p> <p>The question to ask ourselves then is: Am I ready to house or share my resources in another way, no matter how small, with at least one of the migrants? If enough of us are ready to make the sacrifice, the spiritual mystery of the invisible realms will take care of any problems. If we are unwilling to open our hearts, we are simply spouting beautiful verses from the Quran and shrugging the blame onto others.</p> <p><strong>Rabbi Ted Falcon</strong></p> <p>The commandment to care for the stranger, to welcome and to support the “other,” appears at least 36 times in the Torah—more often than any other commandment. Again and again it is stressed: “You shall not wrong nor oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:20).</p> <p>Furthermore, these “others” must be accepted as a full citizens: “The strangers who reside with you shall be to you as your citizens… for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).</p> <p>The “other” must be treated with justice, be given the rights of all citizens, and, ultimately, must be loved: “For the Eternal your God…upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger… so you too must love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).</p> <p>But why is the injunction to care for, to welcome, to treat justly, and to love the stranger the most often repeated in the Torah? And why has this basic principle been so easy to ignore?</p> <p>The answer is a matter of who we consider ourselves to be. As long as we identify solely with our separate ego-selves, we are doomed to racism, injustice, economic disparity, and environmental degradation. Our ego identities convince us that we are separate from others and separate from all other living beings on this planet. From this limited identity, we use animals, and even other people, to serve our own needs. We form ourselves into groups defining ourselves against “others.” This is our natural response to the insecurities resulting from wholly defining ourselves as separate and disconnected beings in this material world.</p> <p>Only by recognizing both the value and the limits of this identity can we transcend our natural tendencies toward polarization and the demonization of others. Without opening to our more inclusive identity, without realizing our interconnectedness with all life, we cannot avoid causing pain stimulated by our belief in our separateness.</p> <p>The work of spiritual teachers of all faiths and non-faiths must be to support our awakening to our more inclusive identity. This is the way toward true welcoming, authentic justice, and love.</p> <p>For centuries, both Jewish and Christian communities have repeated this central teaching: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Yet we will not be able to love until we see ourselves in the face of the other.</p> <p><em>This article was first published in <a href="https://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/how-to-treat-a-stranger-in-need-a-moral-response-to-the-migrant-caravans-20181128?utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=YTW_20181130&amp;utm_content=YTW_20181130+CID_fc1c4a6a9261a357b7b760773b4cdbe0&amp;utm_source=CM&amp;utm_term=How%25">YES! Magazine</a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/nora-lester-murad/freedom-is-claimed-not-granted">Freedom is claimed, not granted</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/oska-paul/refugee-to-refugee-humanitarianism">Refugee-to-refugee humanitarianism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Transformation Transformation religion and social transformation migrant rights Jamal Rahman and Ted Falcon Don Mackenzie Care Love and Spirituality Wed, 12 Dec 2018 12:33:09 +0000 Don Mackenzie and Jamal Rahman and Ted Falcon 120799 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Opioid crisis: community and care, not law and order, is the answer https://www.opendemocracy.net/jarrett-zigon/opioid-crisis-community-and-care-not-law-and-order-is-answer <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Any response to the crisis must address the underlying conditions of drug addiction.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/Screenshot 2018-12-12 at 11.18.28.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/Screenshot 2018-12-12 at 11.18.28.png" alt="Insite, a safe consumption facility in Vancouver." title="" width="460" height="284" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Insite, a safe consumption facility in Vancouver. Image: <a href="https://vimeo.com/59742774" target="_blank">Hungarian Civil Liberties Union</a> (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0). </span></span></span>How should we address the opioid crisis? Perhaps we should ask those with the most experience of it – drug users. Having spoken to hundreds of drug users over the last 12 years as an ethnographic researcher, one thing made clear to me no matter where I go is that the best way to address problematic drug use is not through law and order but through care and community. </p><p dir="ltr">Perhaps the best example of a community-orientated approach to drug addiction can be found in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, where organisations of active and former drug users and their allies responded to a drug epidemic in the 1990s with a focus on community-building and local revitalisation. When I visited in 2013, I witnessed first-hand how the scheme was transforming the lives of people living there. Small businesses and social enterprises, such as the community bank Pigeon Park Savings, had been created to offer employment and services to active drug users. There was a significant increase in social and affordable housing, several health – including mental health – facilities, and abundant community events open to public – including musical concerts. All of these various projects are supported by mixture of public funding, won by campaigners, and private donations and non-profit grants. &nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">In two years the fatal overdose rate decreased by over a third.</p><p dir="ltr">None of this would have been possible without the establishment of Insite, the first legally sanctioned <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/supervised-consumption-services">safe consumption facility</a> in North America. These facilities provide a space for people to consume pre-obtained drugs in controlled settings, under the supervision of trained staff, and with access to sterile injecting equipment. When Insite was first established in 2003, the Downtown Eastside had been home to hundreds of overdose deaths over the previous decade. In two years the fatal overdose rate decreased by 35% – then the fentanyl crisis hit. As in cities and small towns across the United States and Canada, many Downtown Eastsiders are now scrambling to respond to this latest drug-war exacerbated crisis. The difference is that because of the twenty-year-long political activism led by active and former drug users, the Downtown Eastside has the broadest and most integrated harm reduction infrastructure in the world from which to respond. </p><p dir="ltr">Harm reduction is a public health approach to drug use that begins from the nonjudgmental position that some people use drugs, those people will continue to use drugs until they decide to make a change, and until then certain measures should be taken to reduce the potential harm they cause themselves and others. The most common harm reduction measures are syringe exchange and substitution therapy (e.g. methadone). But perhaps the most effective one is safe consumption facilities like Insite. The facts bear this out: not only did overdose deaths radically decrease in the Downtown Eastside once Insite was opened, but so have they anywhere else in the world such facilities exist. &nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">As one of the early Downtown Eastside activists Dean Wilson put it: ‘addiction is a disease of loneliness’.</p><p dir="ltr">What makes the Downtown Eastside different from these other locations – and as a result, a global model for addressing opioid crises – is that harm reduction in the neighbourhood goes way beyond syringe exchange, substitution therapy, safe consumption facilities, and most recently heroin prescription. All of this is a great foundation for addressing opioid crises, but what the drug-using activists and their allies recognised from the very beginning is that it simply is not enough. Most people begin using hardcore drugs like heroin for a reason: sometimes to alleviate physical pain, and commonly to relieve emotional and mental pain. But too often the underlying condition shared by many of these users is a deep sense of isolation and loneliness, which is likely the result of social and economic precarity and anxiety. As one of the early Downtown Eastside activists Dean Wilson put it: “addiction is a disease of loneliness.”</p><p dir="ltr">The real success of the Vancouver model is that it addresses this loneliness. This is what Teresa, one of the workers at a Downtown Eastside social enterprise who also happens to use drugs, described to me as giving people opportunities to become connected. When Teresa arrived in the neighbourhood she had been homeless, using drugs, and doing sex work for several years. Despite years of being uncared for, harassed by the police, and essentially left to die, Teresa was welcomed in the Downtown Eastside, where she easily found a safe and well-maintained single-occupancy-room in which to live, a social enterprise job that paid a fair wage and adjusted to the vicissitudes of her schedule, and most importantly she found people who cared about her as a person no matter her drug using habits. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/Screenshot 2018-12-12 at 11.34.36.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/Screenshot 2018-12-12 at 11.34.36.png" alt=""Stop the war on the poor": graffiti in Vancouver." title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>&quot;Stop the war on the poor&quot;: graffiti in Vancouver. <a href="https://vimeo.com/112045738" target="_blank">Abid Virani</a> (CC BY-NC 3.0) </span></span></span>What Teresa found in the Downtown Eastside was a community of what I call “attuned care”, and this community was built by organisations of active and former drug users and their allies. Attuned care is a kind of care that doesn’t try to turn someone into something they are not, but rather cares for them as they are. This is another way of articulating the harm reduction motto of “meeting people where they are at”. The magic of attuned care is that it often opens possibilities for the person given care to become someone who is themselves more caring, connected, and responsible to others. For example, though still an active drug user, Teresa now lives in her own apartment in a quiet neighborhood near Vancouver’s Stanley Park, where she is writing a book on her experiences as a homeless person as a guidebook to help currently homeless people get back on their feet. This is just one example of the success of the Vancouver model, where success is marked by connecting drug users with others, with shared projects, and with a future filled with possibilities, rather than simply in terms of the cessation of drug use.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">The war on drugs is primarily one characterised by the punishment and marginalisation of drug users.</p><p dir="ltr">This model can be contrasted with the American model addressing the current opioid crisis. This model is better known as the war on drugs, or what many drug user activists call the war on people. They call it this because the American model of the war on drugs is primarily one characterised by the punishment and marginalisation of drug users and those associated with them. It has been a significant factor in the rise of mass incarceration in the country, and not unrelatedly, its policies have overwhelmingly impacted African-American and Latino-American communities in a negative manner. The war on drugs has also created a culture in which any person who problematically uses drugs is systematically dehumanised by being labeled an “addict,” who almost by definition is considered to have lost all the capacities of what today’s society considers a human to be, that is, rational and responsible. Because of this drug war “mentality,” as many activists call it, too many drug users are further isolated as family, friends, and too often, medical and social service workers stigmatise and turn their backs on them. As if this were not enough, the war on drugs has absolutely failed to deter drug use, and this failure has cost <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/how-to-address-opioid-crisis-ask-drug-users#_edn1" target="_blank">American taxpayers over $50 billion annually</a>.&nbsp;Not surprisingly, the current response in the United States to the opioid crisis has been a doubling down on the failed policies of this law and order approach. </p><p dir="ltr">For well over a generation, however, American drug user activists and their allies have worked hard to implement harm reduction policies despite the oppressive conditions of the war on drugs, and have been inspired by the Vancouver model to go beyond harm reduction’s public health components. &nbsp;It is now time that Americans politicians and the medical establishment join them and begin to take the Vancouver model seriously as well. As a first step, this means the United States needs a robust harm reduction infrastructure – including safe consumption facilities – to address the public health aspects of the opioid crisis. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Ultimately, however, local projects of dynamic community-building are needed so that people can once again become connected with one another, engage in shared projects of purpose with others, find economic stability and security, and, thus, regain a future that matters to them. Only with such practices of attuned care will the United States finally begin to address the precarity, anxiety, and loneliness that truly lies at the heart of the opioid crisis.</p><hr /><p><em>Jarrett Zigon is the author of </em><a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520297708/a-war-on-people" target="_blank">A War on People: Drug User Politics and a New Ethics of Community</a><em>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/drugpolicy/opendemocracy/9-things-we-ve-learned-from-50-year-war-on-drugs">9 things we’ve learned from a 50-year war on drugs</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/kasia-malinowska-bethany-medley/other-silence-breakers-women-in-war-on-drugs"> The other silence breakers: women in the war on drugs </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mary-ryder/legalising-drugs-goes-hand-in-hand-with-peace">Legalising drugs goes hand in hand with peace</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Canada </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Vancouver </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Vancouver Canada Civil society The War on Drugs Jarrett Zigon Wed, 12 Dec 2018 11:55:57 +0000 Jarrett Zigon 120969 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A very English take on Denmark https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/alessio-colonnelli/very-english-take-on-denmark <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“Here’s also why Brexit happened. Europe is a mystery. Europeans come from a faraway land. Australia is nearer.”</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2018-12-12 at 10.59.30.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2018-12-12 at 10.59.30.png" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot. Danish for kids. YouTube.</span></span></span></p><p>To understand what the English are about, read&nbsp;<a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2018/11/cold-comfort-copenhagen-denmark">Matthew Engel reporting on his trip to Denmark</a>&nbsp;this week in the&nbsp;<em>New Statesman&nbsp;</em>(30/11, print issue). It’s great; but most importantly, it’s honest. He could not avoid mentioning the Brits’ obsessions about Scandinavia –&nbsp;<em>hygge</em>&nbsp;(cosiness),&nbsp;<em>smorgasbord</em>&nbsp;and a few more (yes, and Hamlet, of course). The three benchmarks of Danishness for the Brits. It made me chuckle. Good writing indeed.</p> <p>However, parts of it saddened me too. Engel explained things about Denmark, which could’ve been applied to any other European country. Obvious things that I always thought didn’t need mentioning. But Engel was right in bringing them up – they need to be explained when addressing a varied British readership.</p> <p>Engel wasn’t being sloppy. In fact, the 67-year-old didn’t get certain things himself, before travelling there; he admitted realising them only now. Let’s look at three key passages.</p> <p>First, Engel said that “the Scandinavians certainly don’t see themselves as part of some amorphous Euromass.” Well, who does? The Spaniards think of themselves as distant. The Italians too, almost cast away on a leg-peninsula that tickles Africa with its toes. Ukrainians feel Russia is breathing down their necks and would only be too pleased to be part of a so-called Euromass. The list could go on and on. But maybe, as seen from England, we do all look the same.</p> <p>Secondly, Ben Rosamond, a British professor of politics at the University of Copenhagen, was asked about Danish society. Rosamond sees&nbsp;<em>hygge</em>&nbsp;as being about “companionship and bonds”, but also as an exercise of “Danishness” with a “dark side” to it “because if you can’t get in, it’s a bit of an issue. This is a society where the entry barriers are quite high.”</p> <p>The similar remark was made by an English expat whom Engel also talked to. The article puts emphasis on this exclusionary feature of Danish society (<em>hygge</em>), implying that Britain is luckily free from it. But as a non-Briton very familiar with Britain, this makes me think otherwise.</p> <p>What about the English class system, then? A system whose negative repercussions are felt not only by foreigners living in the UK, even long-term residents, but by many ordinary Brits as well. Think of those excluded from the&nbsp;<em>right</em>&nbsp;circles, those not on the grapevine when it comes to non-advertised jobs. Think of the Oxbridge connection. (Engel studied at Oxford.)</p> <p>Thirdly, Engel mentions how well the Danes speak English, especially younger people. He said that in the rest of northern Europe this is pretty much the same, “though Denmark may be the most extreme case. I had always assumed this was to do with the brilliance of their educational system and/or a national awareness that the English – or American – language was for them the key that unlocked the world.” He continues in the same vein; he’s grasped something new. “Somewhere in Denmark, I realised something. What do children do before they can read? They watch TV. What do they watch? Cartoons. Where do most cartoons come from? The US. In larger countries … foreign programmes get dubbed but that’s not financially viable in smaller markets. Even if there are subtitles, the kids can’t read them. So what happens? They become naturally bilingual, which can then be reinforced in school.”</p> <p>Again, by implication Engel must’ve always believed countries like Italy, Spain and others – where people on the whole still struggle with English – have school systems that don’t function. Second-class nations. (English and Danish are Germanic languages, i.e. similar to one another, just as other Nordic tongues are. This was never mentioned.) As for the cartoons, Engel is certainly right, but – as I mentioned earlier – it strikes me as odd that he’s only thought of this now. He writes this passage robotically, in logical short steps, to make sure you understand his ground-breaking pattern of thinking.</p> <p>One final consideration, arising from this compelling read. English: Europeans want to learn the American version. There’s hardly any interest in British received pronunciation or spelling. (I don’t follow this major trend, but my personal taste here doesn’t count. And anyway, I shall be loyal to British English till I die. With the occasional US concession, of course.)</p> <p>So, maybe I’m exaggerating, but I couldn’t help thinking of this as I read Engel’s gripping account (no sarcasm intended): here’s also why Brexit happened. Europe is a mystery. Europeans come from a faraway land. Australia is nearer.</p> <p>In the collective British imagination, Europe is light years away from home. You can tell that by the amount of stuff Engel had to explain or came to realise himself. And he’s doing a whole series for the&nbsp;<em>NS</em>, from each one of the remaining EU27. I can see why, and the need for it.</p> <p>(Written by&nbsp;<a href="https://alessiocolonnelli.wordpress.com/about/">Alessio Colonnelli</a>&nbsp;on <a href="https://alessiocolonnelli.wordpress.com/2018/12/04/a-very-english-take-on-denmark/">4 December 2018</a>.)</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU UK Brexit Alessio Colonnelli Wed, 12 Dec 2018 11:00:20 +0000 Alessio Colonnelli 120966 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The politics of protest in Argentina https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/juli-n-reb-n/politics-of-protest-in-argentina <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Political life in Argentina is characterized by a particularly active culture of social protest. This is a key element to understanding political dynamics throughout the 21st century. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/juli-n-reb-n/postales-de-protesta-desde-la-argentina">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/protestaargentina.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/protestaargentina.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Student protest against Macri's reforms. Argentina 2018. Wikimedia Commons.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements"><img src="https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner.jpg" alt="open Movements" width="460px" /></a></p><p><strong>The&nbsp;<em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements">openMovements</a></em>&nbsp;series invites leading social scientists to share their research results and perspectives on contemporary social struggles.</strong></p><p>The evolution of Argentina in the last few years highlights the dispute for territory between opposing social forces. There are three stages to this dispute which broadly describe the swings of the country's political pendulum.</p> <p>The first stage corresponds to the period marked by the crisis of 2001: it expresses the collapse of the neoliberal hegemony of the 1990s. It includes President Fernando De la Rúa's (1999-2000, Radical Civic Union-Alliance) resignation in December of that year and it stretches up to 2003, when a new elected government takes charge.&nbsp;</p> <p>The second stage corresponds to the cycle of the governments of the Justice Party (PJ) and the Front for Victory (FPV), beginning with the presidency of Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007), and then followed by that of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015). </p><p>This is the cycle during which a critical relationship with the neoliberal legacy is attempted through the promotion of a socio-economic model more closely related to the home market and with a greater State role in the running of the economy and in managing social protections.&nbsp;</p> <p>Finally, the last stage begins with the inauguration of Mauricio Macri (Republican Proposal: Let's Change) in 2015 which, honoring the name of the electoral coalition, carries out policies contrasting with the previous cycle and resumes the neoliberal reform agenda.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h3><strong>Disobedient crowds</strong></h3> <p>In Argentina, the 21st century began, in historical terms, with the so-called crisis of 2001. The mechanism of the crisis leading to the collapse of the neoliberal hegemony cannot be reduced to only its economic components; the impossibility of paying back a growing external debt, the multi-faceted resistance to adjustment plans and their social consequences must also be taken into account. </p><p>It is particularly important to note that the social composition of this resistance, as it is usually the case in processes of resistance to neoliberalism, was multiple and varied.&nbsp;</p> <p>There were strikes, mobilizations and a growing wave of looting in shops, and the protest reached its highest point on December 19 and 20. The President declared a state of siege on the night of the 19 to try and contain collective action. Far from its expected result, there was a sudden surge of generalized civil disobedience.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The challenge to the presidential move was a claim for his resignation: "Let’s throw them all out, let’s not leave a single one there" became the slogan of the mobilizations.</p> <p>Its epicenter was the middle layers of the population - the original social base of the government: in several neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, the response to the President's speech announcing the state of siege was a massive banging of pots and pans and spontaneous demonstrations which spread rapidly throughout the city.</p> <p>The challenge to the presidential move was a claim for his resignation: "Let’s throw them all out, let’s not leave a single one there" became the slogan of the mobilizations. On December 20, the mobilizations continued, although this time they were invoked by social and political organizations. Violent police action to clear the vicinity of the government buildings, led to intense clashes with demonstrators.</p> <p>In the end, the President was forced to resign due to lack of support and legitimacy to continue in office. The PJ, the main opposition party, imposed the terms of the succession. After a chaotic succession of several provisional presidents, Eduardo Duhalde, PJ senator and a former presidential candidate who had been defeated by de La Rúa in 1999, assumed the presidency.&nbsp;</p> <p>This frustration continued for several months. A tendency of autonomy in the streets could be noticed among different social groups. Neighborhood assemblies sought to extend citizen outrage aiming at social change. </p><p>Unemployed workers collectively took over the companies they used to work for before the crisis, and the picket movement which had emerged in the late 1990s gathered strength and widened its mobilization capacity. This was a time when the public space became the stage for assemblies and direct action. It was also the time for experimenting and searching for alternative forms of production and culture.</p> <p>The protest posed a serious challenge to the provisional government. One of the ways in which the government responded was by using repression. </p><p>The murder of two militants in a picket protest on June 26, 2002, unleashed a wave of indignation and protest which prompted a change in the government’s strategy: it called for elections as a way out of the crisis of legitimacy. President Kirchner would be enshrined into government during these elections.</p> <p>The resistance to the processes of expropriation and exclusion, and the actions challenging the existing political order, severely curtailed the viability of government policies and created the scenario which led to the fall of de la Rúa.</p> <p>Even though other political actors and political moves played a key role in his fall and in ushering a political transition, the way in which it happened cannot be explained without the presence of collective action in the streets – an action which had more to do with dismissing than establishing: it expressed a power of veto rather than the capacity to build a political alternative.</p> <p>These events during times of the crisis, however, left a deep imprint: a legacy of a new culture of battle with a strong tendency for direct action and disobedience to authority which could be activated and recreated in the future.&nbsp;</p> <p>But, above all, they left the idea that the smoke of politics in the streets can always come back dormant in the citizens’ collective memory. Collective action thus became established as a dismissing threat for the future.</p> <h3>Mobilizations from “above”</h3> <p>The political cycle of Néstor Kirchner’s and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s governments is marked by the imprint of the prevailing tendencies from the previous period, and belongs within the wide range of experiences of Latin American progressive governments. </p> <p>The origin of Néstor Kirchner’s government was marked by the general crisis of 2001. Even though it did not represent the groups which had mobilized during the crisis, it sought to recompose the country’s social order by selectively retaking the claims of the social struggles of the previous period, and proposing a reformist agenda. </p> <p>In doing so, politics regained some space and some degree of autonomy in relation to economic power. Politically, it promoted openness and recognition for the mobilized actors, and actively worked towards granting their demands. This is why the trade union movement, the human rights movement and other social organizations gave the government significant support throughout the cycle.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">As the cycle unfolded, the mobilization on the streets would not only originate from "below" – that is, from the popular sectors - but also from "above" – the more affluent sectors of the population.</p><p>As the cycle unfolded, the mobilization on the streets would not only originate from "below" – that is, from the popular sectors - but also from "above" – the more affluent sectors of the population. The political and institutional regression of the ruling classes led to the emergence of mobilization processes to defend their interests.</p> <p>These interests manifested themselves for the first time clearly in 2008 in the so-called "farmers’ conflict". This conflict managed to politicize, mobilize and polarize society like no other throughout this cycle. </p><p>In March of that year, the recently elected Cristina Fernández de Kirchner government, aimed at resolving a fiscal problem in the making, raised the rate of the withholding tax on the export of several grains, especially soya, and linked its fluctuation to international prices. </p> <p>The main agribusiness corporate entities united against this measure, claimed for its derogation, summoned their affiliates to refrain from commercializing grains and meat, and established road blocks to ensure the effectiveness of this decision. </p> <p>Thus, a social movement was created which, similarly to those developed by the popular sectors, focused on mobilization, direct action and assembly practice. The conflict exceeded however the agrarian sectors and mobilization spread to encompass social and political opposition to the government, especially by the sectors which were feeling dissatisfied with its reformist measures. </p> <p>In an urban country such as Argentina, the conflict involved and aligned the population as a whole, paralyzed the country and depleted the supplies to the main urban centers. </p><p>The government finally requested parliamentary approval of the withholding tax measure, but it was rejected in the Senate. A year later, at the general elections, support for the government decreased markedly and it lost its parliamentary majority.</p> <p>The second great moment of the mobilizations from above is the cycle of pot-and-pan banging in 2012 after the overwhelming reelection of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with more than 54% of the popular vote the year before. These protests reached their highest expression on September 13 and November 8, 2012, and April 18, 2013. </p> <p>Unlike the farmers’ conflict, there was no specific issue for them other than anger and opposition to the government. Unlike the pot-and-pan banging of 2001, its social base was not the government’s own; on the contrary, even though they were massive, they did not manage to transcend the core of the social opposition to the government and the upper-middle strata of the population.&nbsp;</p> <p>The main impact of these outraged crowds was in keeping the social opposition to the government mobilized and in wearing down its electoral triumph, thus hindering the possibility of its consolidation of a hegemonic process up against a weak political opposition.</p> <p>The mobilizations from above fulfilled a function of social opposition. They reached a peak during two non-electoral years in which the political opposition was particularly weak, in 2008 and 2012. </p> <p>In 2015, the calendar moved the axis from social to political opposition, and the cycle came to an end with the elections of that year which were won in a tight runoff by Mauricio Macri, who represented the most antagonistic political exponent to the Kirchner project.</p> <h3>Popular resistance to neoliberal restructuring</h3> <p>From the start, the Macri government has sought to implement a restructuring of Argentine capitalism in a neoliberal sense economically and politically in terms of social discipline: a framework for developing a growing repressive policy of the popular sectors. </p> <p>One of the most significant obstacles to this restructuring program is social protest. The trade union movement, the movements of the people’s economy, human rights organizations, the renewed women’s movement, are the main components of the wide umbrella of resistance to government-driven sociopolitical reforms.</p> <p>A series of social protest in December 2017 clearly show, yet again, their political role. After its victory in the mid-term legislative elections in October, the government redoubled its commitment to counter-reform, with employment, social security and taxation as its core. </p> <p>The pension reform, which consisted in changing the rate of pension increase, meaning cutting them, constituted the axis of resistance. On the day the reform was to be discussed in Congress, a massive mobilization by unions and social organizations outside of Congress was fiercely repressed. </p><p>But most of the protesters managed to reorganize and re-entered the square. In the end, the session was adjourned as the opposition demanded.</p> <p>A few days later, broad social opposition to the reform manifested itself again in another massive mobilization before a new congressional session, including a general strike. The demonstration quickly turned into a confrontation between the security forces and demonstrators in their hundreds who attacked the police columns with sticks and stones.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The repression did not dampen the indignation and, at nightfall, Buenos Aires and other cities were shaken by pot-and-pan banging against the government’s pension reform.</p> <p>The protesters tried to remain in the square despite the repression until, finally, the intensity of police action managed to clear the area. Subsequently, the security forces went on a hunt for demonstrators in the city center and deployed unusual violence, of a kind unseen since December 2001.</p> <p>But the repression did not dampen the indignation and, at nightfall, Buenos Aires and other cities were shaken by pot-and-pan banging against the government’s pension reform. </p><p>Finally, the project with some minor changes was passed. The reform went ahead, but not without costs even among Macri voters. It also damaged the agreement principle existing between the government and the leadership of the country’s main trade union regarding labor reform, which has forced the government to withdraw the proposal from being debated for the time being.</p> <p>The result of the conflict shows that social protest, in conditions of weakness of the political opposition, is a key to channeling social unrest. It has created obstacles and forced some palliative changes to the government’s planned reforms but has been unable to halt the general trend of social change. </p><p>The images of smoking barricades in Buenos Aires’s city center and of citizens protesting with pots and pans in the neighborhoods, vividly recall some of the postcards of 2001 – they show the validity of protest as a citizens’ political vehicle in Argentina today, and also the difficulties to contain it through repression.</p> <h3>Final thoughts</h3> <p>In Argentina, in recent years, social protest has become an informal political mechanism which complements the classical institutions of representative democracy, for expressing demands to the institutional political system. </p><p>One of its central impacts in political terms is negative due to its main role is the obstruction of government actions. Given the weakness of political parties, particularly those in the opposition, protest appears as a privileged form of social opposition at various stages. </p> <p>This entails that mass protest cycles draw their strength from social sectors which are not those who support the governmental alliances. In 2001, their dismissing character reached such an intense peak precisely because a substantive part of the government's social base was mobilized against it. </p> <p>On the other hand, the population’s tendency to protest makes protest a relevant factor to be taken into account for implementing public policies. Protest as a likelihood significantly affects government decisions in several areas.</p> <p>To summarize, attesting the political relevance of the negative side of protest does not imply ignoring its impact in determining policies or incorporating new demands into the public agenda, and its role in other areas such as culture and unions. We have attempted to argue the strong relevance of one of its impacts. </p><p>In our opinion, protest has resulted more in the dismissal of rather than the installation of governments, in resisting policies that in ensuring their effective implementation. But pushing aside the hierarchy of impacts, protest is, undoubtedly, one of the forms that the discussion on the destiny of the nation has taken. </p><p>Above and beyond the current government’s resolve, it is a struggle which remains open, and has the streets as its privileged stage for expressing itself.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/andr-s-del-r-o-rold-n/macri-and-judges">Macri and the judges</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/giorgios-katsambekis-paula-biglieri/argentina-after-kirchnerismo-populism-s-defe-0">Argentina after kirchnerismo: The defeat of populism and Macri’s counter-hegemonic project</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/mat-as-bianchi/macri-and-latin-american-pendulum">Macri and the Latin American pendulum</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Argentina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Argentina Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Equality openmovements Julián Rebón Wed, 12 Dec 2018 10:51:33 +0000 Julián Rebón 120965 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Scandals in sex worker rescue shelters: is ‘awful’ distracting from ‘lawful’? https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/kimberly-walters/scandals-in-indias-raid-and-rescue-shelters-is-awful-distracting-from <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How should we channel concern over the growing number of anti-trafficking scandals?</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/15790674367_2e1b0bf857_o.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Kolkata. Animesh Hazra/<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/animeshhazra/15790674367/in/photolist-q4nkmk-paK2H6-24t2VLa-24LTL5-qp7fNw-jRNoSZ-aGYyBx-dUSZmQ-9nqFsB-7RPZbS-qUoLqu-LysA9-hMohhy-reQtn9-iyZvcZ-4tJkCt-pUHKkM-dPvMqo-4tYFWV-SnNti2-pt3vYr-4nFuZk-5JpixM-aC4EwW-nSr2pw-bkJdaF-6pmv9F-3mA5Fn-Sn3ya6-2yNm4p-9CNKen-bGczac-daWv3W-8m3Bov-29HtsHA-bh3fEX-gLhjtn-gDHQMb-bCaLuv-nPaymw-3ACBS-nWKFML-86pfZq-ezjeBN-pCJcTX-7LrEXQ-4vRcGU-cjXDYh-6mZMh9-4upTzw">Flickr. (cc by-nc)</a></p> <p>In Muzaffarpur, India, <a href="https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/rapes-beatings-situation-of-terror-tiss-report-documents-bihar-shelter-horror-1312956-2018-08-13">news</a> erupted last May that the head of a government-backed shelter for victims of trafficking relied on the repeated help of his staff and silence of his neighbours while raping more than 30 inmates. A <a href="https://features.propublica.org/liberia/unprotected-more-than-me-katie-meyler-liberia-sexual-exploitation/">similar report</a> appeared in October about the transnational NGO, More than Me, for child survivors of commercial sexual exploitation in Monrovia, Liberia. In late November, yet <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/nov/23/prison-better-women-cry-foul-over-celebrated-indian-charity?fbclid=IwAR1MjpyOWuPHIOXThC39KMtCz8CWPnP6EaUjasn2CdFGratGJ3_WUv8lqGM">another report</a> broke, this time highlighting beatings and coerced labour within the prominent anti-trafficking NGO Prajwala, in Hyderabad, India. A survivor died by <a href="https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/crime/150418/hyderabad-rescued-uzbek-woman-ends-life-in-shelter-home.html">suicide</a> in the same shelter in April. Such awful scandals within the anti-trafficking movement are <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/2014/05/30/somaly-mam-holy-saint-and-sinner-sex-trafficking-251642.html">not new</a>, but 2018 has been particularly plagued by repeat shocks.</p> <p>Rights activists worry that such scandals may act as little more than lightning rods. When lightning strikes, the rod channels dangerous energy away from the building and safely into the ground where it dissipates. Similarly, when such news reports are dismissed as unfortunate but unusual ‘bad apples’, the attention they command may serve to channel energies away from the reforming the system as a whole – the awful distracting from the lawful.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Imagine being plucked from of your life, locked in a shelter, and waiting in limbo for 60 to 90 days to hear whether the court deems you in need of rehabilitation</p> <h2>The forced, fully legal confinement of sex workers in India </h2> <p>In India, for example, news reports abound about the number of arrests in Muzaffarpur and the ongoing court proceedings against those allegedly involved. While such attention is warranted, we hear almost nothing about the fact that forced rescue is both legal and pervasive in India under the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1986 (ITPA). The ITPA does not distinguish between victims of sex trafficking and adult women who choose to sell sex. By its authority, both groups are merged into one and made the <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2126796">lawful targets</a> of anti-trafficking teams. </p> <p>More to the point, the ITPA does not require that targets of anti-trafficking efforts consent to be rescued. Whether or not they wish it, once the police identify them, both victims of trafficking and voluntary sex workers have no choice but to be <a href="https://www.sangram.org/news/raided-e-book-4">locked up in protection homes</a> while courts sort out their cases. This process ought to last less than a month, but typically takes <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/vibhuti-ramachandran/rescued-but-not-released-%E2%80%98protective-custody%E2%80%99-of-sex-workers-in-i">two to three months</a> at minimum. Imagine being plucked from of your life, locked in a shelter, and waiting in limbo for 60 to 90 days to hear whether the court deems you in need of rehabilitation or whether your family can take you home from the shelter. For some inmates, this process can take three years or more. The Prajwala rescuee that took her own life earlier this year had been <a href="http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2018/apr/16/she-used-to-smile-at-us-but-could-never-communicate-1802089.html">incarcerated</a> for more than four months while waiting to be repatriated to Uzbekistan. </p> <p>Women in India who welcome rescue from trafficking adjust more easily to life within closed protection homes. However, many (and <a href="https://www.sangram.org/news/raided-e-book-4">arguably most</a>) women picked up in anti-trafficking raids completely reject forced rescue. Those who are held against their will in ‘protection homes’ – lawfully under the ITPA –resort to <a href="https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/25-women-rescued-in-trafficking-cases-escape/articleshow/19657168.cms">escaping</a>, <a href="http://sunithakrishnan.blogspot.com/2014/">rioting</a>, and <a href="https://www.epw.in/journal/2016/44-45/humanitarian-trafficking.html">self-harm</a> in an attempt to regain or at least assert their own agency. Such women point out that being forcibly detained in Indian protection homes is itself a kind of trafficking when it serves to garner funding from governmental agencies and charitable donors. They claim that such humanitarian trafficking is worse than being held in jail. In jail, they say, they could communicate more readily with their loves ones, and they would be spared requests to manufacture items sold as ‘freedom products’. </p> <p>It’s perhaps not surprising that the staff members in Indian shelters tasked with overseeing such frightened, angry, and depressed women on a day-to-day basis resort to ignoring them, busying them with manufacturing work, or using <a href="https://www.epw.in/journal/2016/44-45/who-would-live-cage.html">shame</a>, verbal and even physical <a href="https://www.epw.in/journal/2016/44-45/humanitarian-trafficking.html">abuse</a> to try to subdue them while they await court release orders. As we know from the Stanford Prison and Milgram experiments, institutional and situational expectations can lead otherwise good people to inflict harm on those under their control. While abusing inmates at trafficking shelters is nowhere lawful, it is rendered almost inevitable in shelters established to implement a law that wantonly disregards the desires and intentions of survivors. </p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Adult women should decide what’s best for themselves, and the notion that anti-trafficking NGOs must “reverse mindsets” is ethically untenable.</p> <h2>The new Indian trafficking bill: a chance missed?</h2> <p>Such paternalism pervades not just the ITPA, but the attitudes of many of those overseeing anti-trafficking efforts. The notion that anti-traffickers know better than survivors themselves compounds the harms that survivors face in the long aftermath of rescue. The paternalism undergirding these harms is well illustrated by the response on social media of a Prajwala board member to the recent report that the shelter’s inmates were angry with their treatment. She <a href="https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=792738874391480&amp;id=100009661242757">wrote</a>:</p> <p>Of course there are disgruntled elements in these shelters. Where a woman had money, alcohol, drugs at her disposal, she has now been asked to wear a uniform, is taught a skill and is asked to follow a strict routine, while her salary (in comparison to what she used to get as a sex worker, a mere pittance) is put directly into her bank account. It takes time for a reversal of mindset amongst these women.</p> <p>That a board member of an anti-trafficking NGO finds no difficulty in forcing her notion of what a woman ought to be doing with her life onto shelter inmates, and that she is comfortable requiring women to earn far less than they once did without regard to economic realities, speaks volumes of a system designed to alienate and antagonise the very people it ostensibly aids. Adult women should decide for themselves what is best for them, and the notion that anti-trafficking NGOs must “reverse mindsets” is ethically untenable.</p> <p>A new bill in India, the Trafficking of Persons Bill 2018, could take the opportunity to rectify the ITPA’s long-standing problems. Instead, the present version of the new bill not only <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/prabha-kotiswaran/empty-gestures-critique-of-india-s-new-trafficking-bill">fails to address the ITPA’s problems</a>, but it seeks to <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/kimberly-walters-vibhuti-ramachandran/recipe-for-injustice-india-s-new-trafficking-bil">expand the system</a> of forced rescue and rehabilitation to a much larger swath of workers. <a href="https://amnesty.org.in/news-update/anti-trafficking-bill-overbroad-and-disproportionate-should-be-referred-to-psc/">Amnesty International</a> and the <a href="https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23392&amp;LangID=E">UNHROHC</a> have raised human rights objections to the bill. Yet it has already passed in India’s lower house. If it succeeds in the upper house, it is poised to swell a system replete with lawful, comparatively low grade, but no less pervasive harms to the very populations that anti-trafficking networks seek to protect and empower.</p> <h2>Harming while trying to help: a world-wide problem</h2> <p>India is by no means alone in its systemic yet lawful abuses through anti-trafficking operations. Runa Lazzarino <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/runa-lazzarino/freeloaders-blackmailers-and-lost-souls-rescued-sex-trafficking-survivo">argues</a> that aftercare providers in anti-trafficking programmes as far apart as Nepal, Vietnam, and Brazil employed similar registers of distrust, disdain and disregard toward the survivors they were tasked with helping. Toni Eby <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/using-intersectional-approach-to-raid-and-rescue">notes</a> that those who wished to be rescued in the U.S. were sometimes ignored because they did not match the presumed profiles of victims. Nicolas Lainez <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/nicolas-lainez/modern-vietnamese-slaves-in-uk-are-raid-and-rescue-operations-appropria">shows</a> that many of those targeted by anti-traffickers in the United Kingdom preferred to continue working and experienced rescue as more harmful than continuing to work as they were.</p> <p>Anti-trafficking scandals are symptomatic of much more pervasive problems in our approach to righting the wrongs of human trafficking and forced labour. Such scandals should be taken as evidence that the solution itself needs to be entirely re-imagined. While some scholars have highlighted the problematic outcomes of a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/garrett-nagaishi/from-utah-to-%E2%80%98darkest-corners-of-world%E2%80%99-militarisation-of-raid-and-re">militarised approach</a>&nbsp;to anti-trafficking operations, others have pointed out that <a href="https://www.endslaverynow.org/blog/articles/sex-trafficking-and-the-carceral-state">carceral solutions</a> to severe exploitation can only ever provide partial answers. Neil Howard argues that till date the anti-trafficking movement has yet to address any of the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/neil-howard/slavery-and-trafficking-beyond-hollow-call">real roots</a> of severe exploitation. Instead of the forced detainment of victims, we require a broad-based and vigorous transnational labour and migration rights movement if we hope to make real progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/vibhuti-ramachandran/critical-reflections-on-raid-and-rescue-operations-in-new-delhi">Critical reflections on raid and rescue operations in New Delhi</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/kimberly-walters/beyond-raid-and-rescue-time-to-acknowledge-damage-being-done">Beyond ‘raid and rescue’: time to acknowledge the damage being done</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/using-intersectional-approach-to-raid-and-rescue">Using an intersectional approach to raid and rescue</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/garrett-nagaishi/from-utah-to-%E2%80%98darkest-corners-of-world%E2%80%99-militarisation-of-raid-and-re">From Utah to the ‘darkest corners of the world’: the militarisation of raid and rescue</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/kimberly-walters-vibhuti-ramachandran/recipe-for-injustice-india-s-new-trafficking-bil">A recipe for injustice: India’s new trafficking bill expands a troubled rescue, rehabilitation, and repatriation framework</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/kimberly-walters-neil-howard/interview-forced-rescue-and-humanitarian-trafficking">Interview: forced rescue and humanitarian trafficking</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kimberly-waters/rescued-from-rights-misogyny-of-anti-trafficking">Rescued from rights: the misogyny of anti-trafficking</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/elena-shih/antitrafficking-rehabilitation-complex-commodity-activism-and-slavefree-goo">The anti-trafficking rehabilitation complex: commodity activism and slave-free goods</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/prabha-kotiswaran/criminal-law-as-sledgehammer-paternalist-politics-of-india-s-2018-tr">The criminal law as sledgehammer: the paternalist politics of India’s 2018 Trafficking Bill</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/prabha-kotiswaran/neoabolitionism-s-last-laugh-india-must-rethink-trafficking">Neoabolitionism’s last laugh: India must rethink trafficking</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Kimberly Walters Wed, 12 Dec 2018 10:45:14 +0000 Kimberly Walters 120955 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Do not take Oman's stability for granted https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/marc-martorell-junyent/do-not-take-omans-stability-for-granted <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While the future of Oman is far from certain, the world has so fair paid little attention to the turbulences that might be awaiting the Sultanate.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39668835.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39668835.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A portrait of Sultan Qaboos on the window of a vehicle. Picture by Jorgen Schwenkenbecher/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>With analysts and journalists paying attention to the future viability of the Saudi and Iranian regimes, the focus has been far away from the possible evolution of Oman once Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of the country for almost five decades, passes away. </p><h3>Oman as a mediator</h3><p>Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional powers and their impact on the stability of the Middle East is consequently greater. In fact, Oman is often mentioned in relation to these two countries. Two examples will suffice to show this. The first is the Omani mediation between the Houthis and Riyadh. The <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-talks/oman-mediating-between-yemenis-over-u-n-peace-plan-official-idUSKBN18Q26C">attempt to broker peace</a> between these two parties, who have been fighting each other in Yemen for three years, ended up unsuccessfully. </p><p>The second example is Oman’s important role in the path to the signature of the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Sultan Qaboos was the host of different rounds of <a href="https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/07/23/oman-the-unsung-hero-of-the-iranian-nuclear-deal/">secret talks</a> between the United States and Iran since 2012. Moreover, the role of Oman in the Qatar blockade crisis or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have also received some coverage. </p><p>Camille Lons, from the European Council on Foreign Relations, writes that “maybe it is time to pay attention to Oman”. She does so to conclude <a href="https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_oman_between_iran_and_a_hard_place1">an article</a> that deals with the external threats that Omani traditional neutrality is facing from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. </p><h3>The importance of internal stability</h3><p>Ultimately, nevertheless, Muscat’s Foreign Policy, as it is the case with any other state, depends enormously on internal stability. Failed states cannot be proactive in the international scene. This is not to say that chaos will ensue when Sultan Qaboos, <a href="https://fanack.com/oman/history-past-to-present/neutral-oman-braces-challenges-amid-sultans-ailing-health/">an ill man</a>, dies. </p><p>The protests that took place during the so-called Arab Spring in Oman called for reforms, not for the fall of the Sultan. This tells the Omani case apart from the popular discontent shown at around the same time in other Arab countries such as Yemen or Syria, where civil war has been raging on with the contribution of external powers. </p><p>Moreover, intra-Muslim tensions are not a major reason to worry in Oman, unlike most countries of the region. The majority of the population adheres to the Ibadist sect, a current of Islam practiced almost exclusively in Oman. At the same time, discrimination against Sunni and Shia Muslims, whose combined number is quite uncertain but below Ibadis, is forbidden by law. </p><p>Another factor that favors Omani stability is the limited influence that other countries from within and without the Gulf region exert over national sovereignty. Although the United States has long been provided access to three air bases in Oman, Muscat has also been able to maintain cordial relations with Iran. </p><p>Even though Oman controls considerable reserves of gas and oil, all of its neighbours but Yemen have vaster natural resources. Thus, the strategic importance of Oman arises from another aspect, its geographic location. In fact, one of the reasons why the Sultanate has enjoyed considerable indepence is its geopolitical relevance. </p><p>Oman’s northern shores control the Strait of Hormuz, through which <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-oil-factbox/strait-of-hormuz-the-worlds-most-important-oil-artery-idUSKBN1JV24O">a third of </a><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-oil-factbox/strait-of-hormuz-the-worlds-most-important-oil-artery-idUSKBN1JV24O">world’s sea-borne oil passes</a>. Regional and extra-regional powers are aware that in the case of instability spreading to Oman, it would be difficult for any country to emerge as a winner.</p><h3>Why stability is not certain</h3><p>At the same time, there are reasons to believe that Oman’s stability is far from secure. Much of these doubts have to do with the fact that Sultan Qaboos has no designated successor. Qaboos, who gained power after deposing his father in 1970 in a bloodless coup, has never had children. </p><p>The Omani Constitution stipulates that upon the Sultan’s death, a royal family council must be convened to appoint a heir. In case the council fails to provide a name after three days, and aware of the havoc this could produce, the Sultan has left <a href="https://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/case-sealed-envelope-oman-s-path-succession-567113540">two sealed envelopes</a> in secret locations with the name of his preferred successor. </p><p>The uncertain succession of the Sultan, nevertheless, is not the only contentious issue lying in the future of Oman. Although Sultan Qaboos has been pursuing for decades an “Omanization” policy seeking to strengthen national unity, regional identities are still very strong. </p><p>The clearest case is that of Dhofar, the most southerly province of Oman. The region has traditionally been isolated from the rest of the country and has a distinct identity. Between 1963 and 1975 Dhofari insurgents opposed the central government and slogans such as “Dhofar for the Dhofaris” could be heard. While the situation is now contained, the transition process to a new ruler could be an opportunity for Dhofaris to voice their peripheral grievances. </p><p>Moreover, the reforms introduced by the Sultan after the 2011 protests had a very limited extent, and the Omani population does not have a say in the politics of the country. Sultan Qaboos still retains a certain charisma and prestige in the eyes of many Omanis, something that has masked the lack of democracy and the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/oman">violations of human rights.</a><a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/oman"> </a></p><h3>Do not take Omani stability for granted</h3><p>It would be a mistake for the world to assume that Oman will continue to be a stable country in the future. Whereas there are strong forces that might anchor Omani stability, much will depend on the transition process once Sultan Qaboos passes away. If the royal council elects a successor in a short period of time, the new ruler will be seen as having broad support within the royal family and his position of power will be cemented. </p><p>The situation will be different in case the election process takes some time, specially if the envelopes prepared by Sultan Qaboos need to be opened. In such a context, those pushing forward peripheral or democratic demands will have more chances to contest the new Sultan. A combination of the two types of demands would constitute a more serious challenge. </p><p>The preference of regional and extra-regional power for a continuation of the status quo is evident, and if need be they will probably work in this direction. However, by now they do not seem to be aware that authoritarian stability in Oman cannot be taken for granted.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/nicolai-due-gundersen/patriotism-from-fragmentation-personal-nationhood-of-om">Patriotism from fragmentation: the personal nationhood of Oman </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/tariq-al-shammari/dubai-and-gwadar-silent-economic-war-in-gulf-of-oman">Dubai and Gwadar: the silent economic war in the Gulf of Oman</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Oman </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Oman Democracy and government Marc Martorell Junyent Wed, 12 Dec 2018 09:06:31 +0000 Marc Martorell Junyent 120848 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Organising for a better future for work https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/becky-wright-simon-sapper/organising-for-better-future-for-work <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Unions must reach outside their comfort zones and develop an inclusive collective voice so that workers can organise effectively in a hostile political environment.</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/5561373619_07df89fe82_b.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">March for the Alternative, London, 2011. CGP Grey/<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/cgpgrey/5561373619/in/photolist-9truC4-9tLxTZ-9tNXHC-5btJbs-hfC196-YxHbmj-i3EGE9-i3FhAK-5buhgh-4A4m8o-9tryP4-4A5vG1-oYAmF3-21inHSo-4A5w5s-285QUEk-2b9PMC1-91SGMG-21zfhhd-27TjhES-KWTJw1-BD46X-91WeRF-914iyY-9tub3X-9tPwX1-9uNsXG-9tPe6j-9trsjr-S6N2nY-91WdSv-SrRxMb-911dWP-8SpvyE-7Y3yqF-9twr5i-9tuwvQ-8SrmHC-9tPgt3-9tLmuX-7XYWjn-8Sog1z-9tLh3i-9tSSih-9tPUKr-8SBPu6-8SKPhH-9tvEH8-9tP5Ku-bDokPd">Flickr. (cc by)</a></p> <p style="border-top:1px solid #999;border-bottom:1px solid #999;padding: 10px 0;"><strong>On 8 October 2018 we published the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/joel-quirk-cameron-thibos/introduction-future-of-work-round-table">BTS Round Table on the Future of Work</a>, in which 12 experts explain recent changes to the nature of work and offer new ideas in labour policy, organising, and activism. This piece has been written in response.</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.unions21.org.uk/">Unions21</a> is delighted to participate in this discussion regarding the future of work. Having had the opportunity to read through earlier contributions, we were especially pleased with the emphasis on governments absconding from key responsibilities, as highlighted by Alison Tate and others. We also further endorse <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/future-of-work-round-table-how-to-get-business-leaders-and-policy-makers-on-board#bader-blau">Shawna Bader-Blau</a>’s emphasis on the need to approach people as both workers and citizens simultaneously. These and other contributions feed into the bottom line for our own contribution in this piece, which starts with the premise that governments <em>should</em> act to establish a framework for social responsibility that embraces concepts of fair work, but they cannot be <em>relied</em> upon to do so. And since governments cannot be relied upon to act independently, our goal should be to organise as both workers and citizens in support of a better future for work. </p> <p>This starting point is shared with a number of earlier contributors, such as Han Dongfang, Lupe Gonzalo, Reema Nanavaty and Elizabeth Tang. We see no incentive strong enough to guarantee that policy-makers do the ‘right’ thing. </p> <p>Recent experiences in the United Kingdom have underscored the challenges which need to be overcome in order to organise effectively in defence of precarious workers and migrants. As other contributions to the roundtable have illustrated, including Emily Kenway, Alejandra Ancheita, and Luis C.deBaca, there have been some promising signs of progress in some cases and locations. It is worth emphasising, however, that these examples have frequently proved to be difficult to reproduce or scale up elsewhere. In the United Kingdom, these challenges can be primarily traced to a hostile political environment, along with the strategic choices of key stakeholders.</p> <h2>The fall (and rise?) of unions</h2> <p>Trade unions have been on the decline in the UK ever since former prime minister Margaret Thatcher confronted them head-on in the 1980s. At the beginning of that decade, trade unions had nearly 13 million members. Their lists have since fallen to 6.23 million, a drop in density from 52% of all UK employees to 23%. Collective bargaining coverage, meanwhile, has fallen from 36% of employees at the turn of the millennium to 26% today.</p> <p>Trade union membership in the public sector continues to surpass –&nbsp;by a wide margin – that found in the private sector. This discrepancy hasn’t changed even though the former has shrunk dramatically over the past decades while the latter has become engorged. To cap it all, union members are increasingly aged. Density amongst the youngest cohort is only around 5%. Yet the labour market is the tightest it has ever been.</p> <p>You would imagine that, with swathes of the UK economy now unorganised, unions would coordinate their approach and systematically pool resources to meet these political and economic challenges. For various reasons, forging common front has not been a priority. Instead, significant resources have been directed towards union mergers, legal challenges (e.g. <a href="http://shura.shu.ac.uk/713/1/fulltext.pdf">McSherry and Lodge v BT</a> or <a href="http://www.gmb.org.uk/gmb-victory-uber-workers-rights-upheld">Farrer v Uber</a>), and creating more sophisticated relationships between unions and employers in specific high-density sectors.</p> <p>In cases where a collective worker voice has been established, the prospects of employers acting responsibly have increased. However, these cases are now rare in the UK’s highly atomised economy. In an environment where over 95% of all UK companies now employ less than 10 people, how can collective voice be encouraged, nurtured, and maintained?</p> <h2>Organising outside traditional sectors</h2> <p>This is where we are noticing a new model of collective action emerge, with a number of unions reaching out in innovative ways. The <a href="https://iwgb.org.uk/">Independent Workers Union of Great Britain</a> and <a href="https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/">United Voices of the World</a> (UVA), for example, have undertaken actions amongst gig economy workers in major urban centres that have been loud, joyfully assertive, and widely reported. Unite has established a <a href="https://unitetheunion.org/why-join/member-offers-and-benefits/member-offers/community-membership-benefits/">community-based section</a>, the GMB is making strides among the <a href="http://www.gmb.org.uk/campaigns/uber/overview">bogusly self-employed</a>; Community has reached out to the <a href="https://community-tu.org/community-indycube-pledge-give-power-self-employed/">genuinely self-employed</a>; Equity has had success in the <a href="https://www.equity.org.uk/getting-involved/campaigns/professionally-made-professionally-paid/">fringe areas of performing arts</a>; and the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union in <a href="https://www.the-pda.org/pdau-boots-update/">supplanting a “fake union” within Boots plc</a>. And many more.</p> <p>What sets these sorts of actions and efforts apart from more traditional activity is the arguably oldest of organising premises – you need to go to where people are rather than where you want them to be. All of the above examples illustrate this in a different ­– and new – way.</p> <p>For the IWGB and UVW it is a question of style and structure. Their members are working in precarious circumstances designed to disempower workers. The unions rely on streamlined decision-making oriented towards demonstrable actions to physically challenge this notion of disempowerment. This has three particular effects: 1) it gets noticed, and therefore has extended reach; 2) it disconcerts employers, a necessary step on the road to engagement; and 3) it builds self-confidence amongst the workers. IWGB and UVW are operating in conventionally hard-to-recruit areas, yet these are the areas in which there has been noticeable employment growth (though now in slight decline) over the last six years. </p> <p>Unite’s community section seeks to organise those not necessarily in any sort of work. Part of this attempt to apply organising techniques to the community as opposed to workplaces is to extend the reach of trade unionism and (obviously) Unite in particular. The range of services provided includes cv and application letter writing, debt counselling, interview training, welfare, payment utilities and tax advice. This is not dissimilar to services that may be available through other community support groups – but in this case they come through the organisational and political prism of the union.</p> <p>The GMB is active in some of the same areas as the IWGB, such as Uber, and has taken a particular interest in those who are bogusly designated as self-employed. This is a subset of the gig economy sector, and the union has developed an exceptional track record in litigation to secure a reclassification so that these workers are legally recognised as such. (Readers will know that in the UK currently, there are three categories of working people – the self-employed, the employed and workers. Workers have a legal platform of rights and protections but to a lesser degree than employees).</p> <p>IWGB and GMB represent two different organisational models in the same industrial space – the former would highlight agility and speed, whereas the ability to deploy significant resources flexibly is a deciding positive actor for the latter. But there is scope for both to continue to increase their memberships.</p> <p>Community, meanwhile, have sought to engage with the growing numbers of genuinely self-employed by, in 2017, partnering with Indycube – a resource organisation for the self-employed – to create <a href="https://www.indycube.community/?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=28&amp;Itemid=248">“the first Union for freelance and independent workers in the UK”</a>. </p> <p>Equity, a union for performers, focuses on marginal workers in their sector, while pitching to employers the added value of a stable employment relationship with active involvement and a degree of underwriting by an independent union. The weakness of employers’ organisation in the UK is a major impediment to sector level bargaining, but in this instance, the union has facilitated a more co-ordinated approach by employers to realise benefits for their members.</p> <p>Finally, the Pharmacists Defence Association Union (PADU) used complex UK recognition laws to displace an incumbent but non-independent rival. Such a move was unprecedented, and PADU needed to work hard to secure the necessary turn-out in crucial legally-binding ballots on the issue.</p> <p>The PADU campaign, like all the examples cited here, are demonstrations of effective engagement with target groups of people. In each instance success has been predicated on having the means and the desire to truly understand what the concerns of that target group are. It’s member-centred trade unionism, if you will, reaching out into areas that have been resistant to or overlooked by more traditional trade unions. Taken together, they illustrate a renewed appetite for success in the UK labour movement.</p> <p>As for our own group, Unions21, we have established our <a href="http://www.unions21.org.uk/worksforus/about">Commission on Collective Voice</a> – a cross party, multi-disciplinary group to solicit, collect, evaluate, and advocate ways in which Collective Voice can work in the early 21st century. We are data gathering at present, with a publication date for our report of late spring 2019. You can contact us at <a href="mailto:worksforus@unions21.org.uk">worksforus@unions21.org.uk</a>. We’d love to hear from you.</p> <div class="bannercontainer1" style="margin-bottom:5px;"><p>Round table on the future of work</p></div> <style> .bannercontainer1 { background-image:url('https://www.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/fowbanner.jpg'); background-size: cover; background-repeat:no-repeat; width:100%; height:130px; display:flex; } div.bannercontainer1 p { color:white; font-size:150%; font-weight:bold; margin:10px 0 0 10px; opacity: 1; letter-spacing: 3px; } #debatetoc {border-bottom:1px solid #999;} #respondents {display:flex;width:100%;flex-wrap: wrap;} .respondentsleft {flex-grow: 1;flex-basis:auto;min-width:200px;margin:5px;} .respondentsright {flex-grow: 1;flex-basis:auto;min-width:200px;margin:5px;} .participant {font-size:90%;font-weight:bold;} .affil {font-size:90%;font-style: italic;color: #999;} .rspacing {margin:10px 0px;line-height:14pt;} .question {color:white;margin-bottom: 5px;padding: 5px;} .active {background-color: rgba(255, 0, 0, 0.7);} .inactive {background-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.5);} .inactive:hover {background-color:rgba(255, 0, 0, 0.3);color:black;} .tbr {background-color: #AAA;} #debatetoc a {text-decoration:none;} .disclaimer {color:#999;font-size:90%;font-style:italic;} .inlinename {font-size:200%;color:#0e63bc;font-weight:bold;} .inlineaffil {color:#999;font-size:90%;} .biobox {float:left;padding: 0 5px 15px 0;margin:0 15px 15px 0;border-right:1px solid #999;border-bottom:1px solid #999;width:150px;} .break {clear:both;border-top:1px solid #999;} </style> <div id="debatetoc"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/joel-quirk-cameron-thibos/introduction-future-of-work-round-table"><div class="question inactive">Introduction</div></a> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/future-of-work-round-table-joint-funders-statement"><div class="question inactive">Joint statement from the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the Sage Fund</div></a> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/future-of-work-round-table-how-has-world-of-work-changed"><div class="question inactive">1. How has the nature of work changed in recent years, and how has that impacted workers?</div></a> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/future-of-work-round-table-do-ethical-consumerism-and-investment-work"><div class="question inactive">2. Are existing strategies to promote ethical investment and ethical consumption effective in improving worker conditions, and how might such programmes be improved?</div></a> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/future-of-work-round-table-how-to-get-business-leaders-and-policy-makers-on-board"><div class="question inactive">3. What types of interventions would encourage business leaders and policy makers to prioritise the working conditions of workers, and how can workers more effectively participate?</div></a> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/future-of-work-round-table-stopping-race-to-bottom-in-world-of-work"><div class="question inactive">4. What needs to happen in business, politics, or organising in response to the current race to the bottom in the world of work?</div></a> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/future-of-work-round-table-how-can-institutions-and-regulations-keep-up"><div class="question inactive">5. Global patterns of work and employment will continue to evolve. How must existing regulations and organisations evolve in order to keep up?</div></a> <p class="disclaimer">This project is supported by the Ford Foundation but the viewpoints expressed here are explicitly those of the authors. The foundation's support is not tacit endorsement within. </p> </div> <!--DEBATETOC--> <div class="break"></div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/alf-gunvald-nilsen/future-of-work-and-future-of-poverty">The future of work and the future of poverty</a><br /><span style="font-size:90%;">ALF GUNVALD NILSEN</span><hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/sine-plambech-dy-plambeck/sexelance-red-lights-on-wheels">The Sexelance: red lights on wheels</a><br /><span style="font-size:90%;">SINE PLAMBECH, DY PLAMBECK</span><hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/ava-caradonna/from-brothels-to-independence-neoliberalisation-of-sex-work">From brothels to independence: the neoliberalisation of (sex) work</a><br /><span style="font-size:90%;">AVA CARADONNA</span><hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/james-sinclair/change-incentives-change-outcomes-three-ideas-to-stop-global-race-to-bo">Three ideas to stop the global race to the bottom</a><br /><span style="font-size:90%;">JAMES SINCLAIR</span><hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/mike-dottridge/reflections-on-role-of-philanthropy-in-world-of-work">Reflections on the role of philanthropy in the world of work</a><br /><span style="font-size:90%;">MIKE DOTTRIDGE</span><hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/amol-mehra/funding-future-of-work-means-addressing-gaps-in-present-of-work">Funding the future of work means addressing gaps in the present of work</a><br /><span style="font-size:90%;">AMOL MEHRA</span><hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/sienna-baskin/expanding-map-how-funders-can-ensure-quality-work-for-all">Expanding the map: how funders can ensure quality work for all</a><br /><span style="font-size:90%;">SIENNA BASKIN</span><hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/global-alliance-against-traffic-in-women/organising-beyond-silos-confronting-common-ch">Organising beyond silos: confronting common challenges amongst migrants and workers</a><br /><span style="font-size:90%;">BORISLAV GERASIMOV</span><hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/fow/luca-stevenson/decriminalisation-and-labour-rights-how-sex-workers-are-organising-for-">Decriminalisation and labour rights: how sex workers are organising for legal reforms and socio-economic justice</a><br /><span style="font-size:90%;">LUCA STEVENSON</span><hr /> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Simon Sapper Becky Wright Wed, 12 Dec 2018 08:00:00 +0000 Becky Wright and Simon Sapper 120953 at https://www.opendemocracy.net “It’s very difficult to investigate anything while the war continues”: Ukrainian human rights activist Yevgen Zakharov on investigating war crimes https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ganna/sokolova/yevgen-zakharov-on-investigating-war-crimes-in-eastern-ukraine <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Four years since the war in eastern Ukraine started, issues over qualification and investigation of war crimes are coming to the fore.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/229916.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/229916.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo CC BY ND 4.0: OSCE / Evgeniy Maloletka. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Two Ukrainian civic organisations, the <a href="http://khpg.org/en/">Kharkiv Human Rights Group </a>and <a href="https://mb.net.ua/en/">Shore of Peace</a>, recently <a href="http://khpg.org/files/docs/1541515430.pdf">published a report</a> into violent crimes committed in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014-2018.</p><p dir="ltr">Examining the destruction of residential neighbourhoods and infrastructure, unlawful arrests, torture and arbitrary executions, rights campaigners see signs of violent crime and crimes against humanity as defined by the 1998 Rome Statute. And in parallel with the report, these organisations are compiling a presentation to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is due to be sent to The Hague in the near future.</p><p dir="ltr">I talked to Yevgen Zakharov, director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, about the prospects of these crimes being investigated.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Do you believe the ICC will investigate the crimes described in your report?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Ukraine is now at the stage when the question of whether the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) will open a preliminary investigation is being decided. This is why it makes sense to present the information that should convince the court that there are grounds for investigation. I think the OTP will begin an investigation: it seems to me there is enough proof that crimes have been committed.</p><p dir="ltr">The ICC only examines these kind of cases when a state isn’t doing so. It is the state’s job to investigate and prosecute such crimes and hold those responsible accountable before its national courts. When the Court decides that a state cannot or will not do this, it opens an investigation. This is the principle of complementarity, and, so far as I know, it hasn’t come up in previous submissions relating to the conflict in Ukraine – investigations on the basis of these submissions still haven’t been started. </p><p><strong>The ICC prosecutes individuals who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Do you name the people you consider guilty of these crimes?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In our submission, we talk about violent crimes, such as extrajudicial execution, the torture of POWs and unlawful detention and captivity in inhuman conditions. We present our view of how and by whom these crimes were committed and lay out the evidence proving this. We also include information on civilian deaths and civil buildings that have been destroyed, and have set up a database of civilians who have been killed or injured. We have a list of over 3,000 names of casualties, complete with full names and dates and the location and circumstances of their death.</p><p><strong>Ukraine has not yet ratified the Rome Statute, the basis for the ICC’s work. Does this place obstacles in the way of investigations?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Not in this case. The issue is that the Ukrainian government has made two statements: in the first, it requested the ICC to investigate the events that took place between 21 November 2013 and 22 February 2014 – this is Euromaidan. In the second, it extends this request to cover the period after 22 February 2014.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-small'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/JevgenZakharov.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_small/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/JevgenZakharov.jpg" alt="" title="" width="160" height="120" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-small imagecache imagecache-article_small" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Yevgen Zakharov, 2011. CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikipedia / Natalka Zubar. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>This is enough for the ICC OTP to begin an investigation into the conflict in Ukraine. Although, of course, Ukraine will need to ratify the ICC’s Rome Statute. There is in fact provision for this in Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the European Union and changes to its Constitution. However, these changes have now been postponed for three years.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Why do you think the Ukrainian government hasn’t ratified the Rome Statute?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The government is afraid to face accusations that its representatives, its lawful military formations, have committed crimes of the kind being prosecuted by the ICC. But this is, in fact, a mistake: if they have committed such crimes and this is proved, the guilty parties can be prosecuted, whether or not they have ratified the Statute.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What is happening with submissions to the ICC over the events of the Euromaidan?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">There have been submissions claiming that actions by national forces can be regarded as crimes against humanity, but for the moment the ICC OTP has not accepted this argument and believes there are no grounds for initiating a preliminary investigation.</p><p dir="ltr">For a crime to be considered a crime against humanity and a war crime, you have to prove that these were crimes of a large-scale and systematic nature. If you look at the practice of the ICC, they usually understand “large-scale” as the deaths of more than 1,000 people. During Euromaidan, the death count was much lower. And as for a systematic nature, these events happened in Kyiv and although there were similar events in other cities, they couldn’t be regarded in the same light as there were practically no casualties. But this issue remains open – the OTP is ready to hear additional argumentation and can change its point of view.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Some people believe that investigation of these crimes should be left until after the end of the conflict. What do you think?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">It’s very difficult to investigate anything while the war continues. How can you investigate crimes committed in areas outside governmental control, if the relevant agencies have no access to them and it is impossible even to inspect their location, collect evidence or question the people involved? Once the conflict is put on hold, all the dead will be identified and buried – at present there are masses of unidentified casualties on both sides of the demarcation line – only then can we start talking about amnesty and reconciliation.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">We have to recognise that we can’t just sit and wait until the war comes to an end. As time passes, evidence disappears</p><p>On the other hand, we have to recognise that we can’t just sit and wait until the war comes to an end. As time passes, evidence disappears. So we need to do what we can. Unfortunately, this means talking about the lack of action on the part of Ukraine’s government authorities – the police, the prosecutor’s office and the security services, who have carried out hardly any investigations into these crimes.</p><p>Meanwhile, the military prosecutor’s office is investigating crimes against POWs and civilian hostages who have been held captive under appalling conditions, tortured and denied medical help. Hundreds of people have been killed in captivity. To investigate this part of the picture, we need to at least question everyone who has since been released (official figures put their number at 3,244). The military prosecutor’s office is now quizzing each one of these people, trying to identify lawbreakers – torturers, people who held others captive. This should have been happening a long time ago, from the very start of the conflict.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Apart from the military prosecutor’s office, what other official bodies are engaged in documenting violent crimes taking place during the conflict in Eastern Ukraine?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The problem is that until 30 April this year, the conflict was officially regarded as an “Anti-Terrorist Operation”, so if a shell fell on a house during a rocket attack, its destruction, or the deaths of anyone living in it, were seen as an act of terrorism, rather than a war crime. And terrorist acts fall under the jurisdiction of the Security Service of Ukraine, which does not have the resources to investigate such an enormous number of crimes (40,000 residential buildings have been destroyed during the conflict). In order for them to be investigated, they would first have to be reclassified as war crimes.</p><p dir="ltr">The Security Service, in its turn, is responsible for handling crimes linked to separatism and treason. But mass phenomena such as injuries, civilian casualties and the destruction of property are simply not investigated. When the question arises of crimes committed in areas that are not under government control, the authorities usually fall back on the excuse that they have no access to them. But in fact, even crimes committed in areas that are under government control aren’t being investigated. But things are finally changing – the national police’s Central Investigation Department has set up investigation teams to look into the issue.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>A <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tetiana-bezruk/crisis-in-azov-sea">State of Emergency</a> was recently imposed in Ukraine’s border regions. How might this affect its citizens’ access to their constitutional rights?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">I don’t think it will have any effect. There’s an old Soviet joke about how government apparatchiks would answer any question from Western journalists with the statement: “but this will have no effect on the prosperity of Soviet citizens”. It’s the same thing now: we’ve reduced Ukrainians’ pay, but this will have no effect on their prosperity; we’ve raised utilities charges by 30%, but this will have no effect on citizens’ prosperity; we’ve imposed a State of Emergency, but this will have no effect either. But, to tell the truth, we could hypothetically expect this measure to be used to limit the public’s rights. It’s hard to say yet. They’ve made verbal promises that it won’t happen, but their written statements are more ambiguous. In other words, it all depends on whether the government decides to do it, or not. I don’t think it should seriously affect the situation.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Do you think<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tetiana-bezruk/the-murder-of-activist-kateryna-handzyuk"> the large number of attacks on civil rights activists</a> is linked to revolution and conflict in Ukraine?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Indirectly, yes, because in general there is now a greater tolerance of violence. But attacks on activists are more often to do with local property disputes, when the warring sides look for allies in the voluntary sector. And when we talk about attacks on activists, we need to look at each instance individually. I don’t think the situation is as black and white as it is often portrayed. Each case is different, and you can’t just say that they’re not being investigated. I have checked the information on the 12 cases with the most serious consequences, and they have all been investigated, although admittedly, none of the perpetrators have been found.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>As well as attacks on activists, we have seen an increase in<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ganna-sokolova/can-integration-help-ukraines-roma"> pogroms against Roma settlements.</a> Would it be right to say that Ukrainian law enforcement is not interested in qualifying these crimes as a violation of Ukrainian citizens’ equality?</strong></p><p>That’s hard to say, because you have to prove criminal intent. Here, the concept of intent is interpreted somewhat simplistically – someone would have had to find an order to destroy the Roma settlement. It was more as though someone said, “Boss, your instruction to burn the Roma settlement has been carried out.” That’s why there are very few cases brought here under the criminal charge of violating citizens’ equality. Moreover, the Roma don’t <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ganna-sokolova/can-integration-help-ukraines-roma">want to participate in the investigation</a>. On the other hand, we can see <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tetiana-bezruk/yevgenia-belorusets-interview">society’s attitude to Roma</a>, we can see xenophobia. It’s wrong to think that representatives of the police are much different from other members of society.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/gabriel-levy/eastern-ukraine-we-need-new-ways-of-organising">Eastern Ukraine: “We need new ways of organising”</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/ganna-sokolova/can-integration-help-ukraines-roma">Could integration help Ukraine’s Roma?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/maria-lipman-serhiy-kudelia/ways-to-end-the-conflict-in-ukraines-donbas">Ways to end the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas: an interview with Serhiy Kudelia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/tetiana-goncharuk/donbas-we-re-used-to-shelling">Donbas: “We’re used to the shelling”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Ganna Sokolova Ukraine Tue, 11 Dec 2018 20:36:45 +0000 Ganna Sokolova 120945 at https://www.opendemocracy.net