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December 2, 2016, Rights Reading

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December 2, 2016

Our weekly roundup of what we’re reading: a few select articles from the front lines of human rights that we don’t want you to miss.

Haiti: Stateless People Trapped in Poverty, Human Rights Watch, November 29, 2016

“Not only have many been deprived of their right to nationality, they are not getting the assistance they so desperately need. Neither the Haitian nor the Dominican government is helping some of the most vulnerable undocumented people.” 

In the last year and a half, after a 2013 court ruling, roughly 150,000 Haitian-Dominicans have migrated to Haiti after living in the Dominican Republic their whole lives. The Dominican Republic took away the nationality of countless Haitians of Dominican decent, forcing these individuals and families into statelessness and into poverty. Some of the poorest are living in a Haitian Town Anse-à-Pitres, struggling to find food, basic medical care, proper shelter.

Many pregnant women and girls were interviewed in Anse-à-Pitres and found to lack access to basic medical care. Anse-à-Pitres only has two full-time doctors, but because of the lack of equipment and staff, they are not able to perform surgeries.

This article also highlights some of these interviews and makes some recommendations to alleviate the situation:

  • For Haiti to establish a helpline for assistance with their nationality
  • For Haiti and the Dominican Republic to work together
  • For the Dominican Republic to restore nationality to those affected, especially children born in January 2010
  • For the Dominican Republic end arbitrary deportation

UUSC also has a partner in Anse-à-Pitres to work with those affected by Hurricane Matthew and to work with the stateless population. Click here to read more about the work.

Myanmar’s Leader Faulted for Silence as Army Campaigns Against Rohingya,  Jane Perlez, NY Times, December 1, 2016

Satellite images of two villages in the Rakhine State, an area where the Rohingya Muslim minority live in Myanmar, show villages to be burned and destroyed. The Rohingya have faced continued brutal persecution and torture by the military and are not recognized as citizens despite having lived there for generations. Human rights organizations have confirmed incidences of brutal rape, murder, and torture, and thousands are trying to flee to Bangladesh but are being turned away. Foreign journalists have also been restricted into these areas and aid workers who were forced to leave are denied travel permits to reenter.

Noble Peace Prize winner and leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi has remained silent on these human rights abuses, with some human rights organizations even suspecting her of supporting this military campaign against the Rohingya. Not only has Aung San Suu Kyi remained silent, she has not visited the Rakhine State or the border with Bangladesh and she claims she is “taking seriously allegations of human rights violations in this country.” Aung San Suu Kyi has also recently asked the international community to withhold judgment stating that we are further fueling tension.

Obama urged to dismantle NSEERS visa tracking program, Nadeem Muaddi, CNN, November 23, 2016

“As organizations that represent diverse communities and that are committed to civil and immigrant rights, we firmly believe that removal of the NSEERS framework is a necessary imperative. We ask the administration to immediately take steps to remove the regulatory structure of NSEERS and stop any future use of the program.”

Close to 200 organizations, including UUSC, have signed a letter asking the Obama administration to abolish the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System, (NSEERS). The NSEERS program was first implemented by George W. Bush after 9/11 and “used to register and track mostly Arabs and Muslims.” The program was for males over the age of 16 from Arab countries or countries where there was a large Muslim population. The NSEERS program is technically inactive but could be reinstituted if not abolished altogether. In the ten years that it was implemented, there was not a single terrorist conviction. However, because Trump has mentioned registering and tracking Muslims or banning them altogether throughout his campaign, human rights advocates are calling on Obama to officially end NSEERS before he leaves office.

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