Woman on Nice beach being forced to remove her burkini by armed police, Aug. 23, 2016. | Photo: AFP
Armed French police ordered a Muslim woman to remove her burkini swimsuit on a Nice beach Tuesday, adding further controversy to a ban on the garment amid growing Islamophobia in France.
Photographs show the woman removing her burkini—a full-body swim piece, while four armed police surround her on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The woman was issued a ticket by police for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” according to AFP.
“I was sitting on a beach with my family … I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming,” said the 34-year-old mother, who only gave her first name, Siam.
“Today we are not allowed on the beach. Tomorrow, the street? Tomorrow, we’ll be forbidden from practicing our religion at all?” Siam asked.
Mathilde Cousin, witnessed the incident and told the Guardian, “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home,’ some were applauding the police. Her daughter was crying.”
Nice is the latest of 15 towns to ban the burkini. The mayor of nearby Villeneuve-Loubet said that the ban was important to “protect the population.”
Last week three Muslim women were fined $US43 for wearing burkinis in Cannes. On Tuesday, a mother of two reported she had been fined on the Cannes beach for wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls defended the ban, saying that “Beaches, like all public areas, must be protected from religious claims. The burkini is not a new range of swimwear, a fashion. It is the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.”
The niqab and burqa veils were banned by France in 2010. Critics say the burkini ban is steeped in Islamophobia and secular extremism. Some advocacy groups have filed legal action against the ban that “pits citizens against one another,” said Marwan Muhammad from the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.
The burkini was originally designed in 2004 by Australian-Lebanese fashion designer, Aheda Zanetti, who also created the “hijood,” a head covering that can be used by Muslim women to play sports.
“This has given women freedom, and they want to take that freedom away? So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians? They are as bad as each other,” Zanetti said to the Guardian.
Since the crackdown on burkinis, its sales have seen a dramatic increase of 200 percent, with many non-Muslims buying the swimsuit to protest its ban.
Until as recently as last year, Peru’s national police force harbored a “death squad” that is responsible for the extrajudicial killings of at least 20 people over a four-year period – even at times offering sworn officers bounties to kill criminal suspects, according to an official government investigation of systemic police misconduct.
In an executive summary that reads like the script of a Dirty Harry movie, the Interior Ministry’s report found “serious indications” that both high-ranking and low-level officers of the national police force “falsified intelligence information” to misrepresent at least six cases involving some 20 slayings as the justified result of confrontations with armed suspects, when in fact they were summary executions carried out by police, according to a summary of the report Monday by Vice Minister of Internal Order Ruben Vargas.
The report did not disclose the identities of the officers suspected of participating in the death squad, but Vargas did reveal that the operation was headed by a police colonel who was subsequently promoted to general.
Local media revealed the scandal over three weeks ago after department whistleblowers brought the allegations to light, prompting an investigation. The new report will now be handed over to prosecutors specialized in organized crime to open a case.
Minister of Interior Carlos Basombrio, newly-appointed under President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and inaugurated at the end of July, claimed that the evidence suggests that a group of high-ranking police officials who moved between divisions are responsible for running the death squad, and that no single police force unit itself is compromised.
Authorities also revealed that several of the officers involved in the scandal were decorated for their so-called “distinguished” achievements within the force last year. A months-long internal police investigation already found that at least two officers were promoted during the period in which they are suspected of participating in the death squad. The Investigator General intervened in the internal probe and took over the investigation over three weeks ago.
Local media report that the death squad, allegedly made up of nearly 100 officers across four units of the national police force, is suspected of carrying out the murders of 27 Peruvian civilians between 2011 and 2015 in the cities of LIma, Ica, and Chiclayo.
Media previously suggested that the 27 victims were common criminals, but the new report found that 11 victims “didn’t even have a criminal record or a warrant to justify them being identified as targets of police interventions,” according to the Interior Ministry.
The confirmation of the extrajudicial killings by the police recalls a dark history of death squads run by state security forces in the South American country that were aimed at wiping out armed left-wing guerrilla movements particularly under the reign of jailed former dictator Alberto Fujimori.
The imam of Florence has posted a picture of habit-wearing nuns splashing along the seashore on Facebook, calling for dialogue about burqini bans… but got his account blocked instead.
The post by Izzedin Elzir got some 2,700 shares, and came in response to the French southern cities – like Cannes and Nice – prohibiting the wearing of burqinis on the beach.
The day after the imam published his post, he awoke to find his account blocked.
“It’s incomprehensible. I have to send them an ID document to reactivate it. They wanted to make sure it’s my account – it’s a very strange procedure,” the indignant imam told La Repubblica.
On Friday, his account was back in, and the imam said he hopes it wasn’t blocked because of the picture, as it urges dialogue, and “we live in a society of law and freedom.”
He also noted that the burqini had only come into fashion among Muslim women over the past few years, and he expressed regret that “some politicians in France, instead of responding to the political and economic needs of their citizens, are focusing on how Muslims dress.”
Many online commenters tended to agree with the imam, saying that “The sea is for everyone,” and describing the ban as “a psychological tool against Muslims.”
However, others disagreed, “Don’t confuse the two different situations: these are women who have CHOSEN to religious life with the rules that it imposes, the ‘others’ are FORCED to dress even on the beach,” a comment read.
It’s not the first burqini-linked scandal this week. On Thursday, Austrian politician Ahmet Demir caused uproar after publishing a photo of two nuns and joking that they were “oppressed women” in burqas. Later, he took the post down and apologized, but defended his post saying that he was attempting to convey the message that “every woman should be able to wear what they want as long as they chose the clothes themselves.”
On Tuesday, Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told Corriere Della Serra that Italy wouldn’t follow France’s suit and ban the burqini, but will step up regulations of imams and mosques.
Two days later, Italian authorities expelled the Tunisian imam Khairredine Romdhane Ben Chedli. The 35-year-old imam was lately absolved of terrorism-related charges, but still deemed unfit to remain in his post, the ANSA news agency said.
A human rights body has found that Mexican police killed nearly two dozen civilians in “arbitrary executions” during a raid against a drug cartel in the country’s troubled west last year.
The independent National Human Rights Commission said in a report on Thursday that the massacre happened in the federal police raid against the Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel in the western state of Michoacan on May 22, 2015.
Police officers committed “violations of the right to life by excessive use of force that entailed the arbitrary execution of 22 civilians,” the commission said.
Meanwhile, commission chief Ismael Eslava said the government forces also perpetrated “aggravated acts of torture on two people who were detained.”
According to the commission report, forensic investigations indicated police had moved the bodies of those killed in the raid and placed guns next to them in an attempt to cover up the crime.
It also noted that a police helicopter fired 4,000 rounds into the farm where the suspects were hiding.
Responding to the document, Renato Sales, the chairman of Mexico’s National Security Committee, rejected the characterization of arbitrary executions and defended the actions of police.
He said the shooting erupted when the suspects refused to drop their weapons. “We do not think the theory of arbitrary executions stands up.”
The government said previously that the helicopter had fired to contain the suspects. It also said that the 42 people killed by police had attacked officers.
The commission report concluded that a total of 43 people were killed in the security operation, including one policeman and numerous suspected criminals, but only 22 of them were deemed arbitrary executions by police.
The commission also found fault with the actions of investigators from the Michoacan Attorney General’s Office, who mishandled ballistics evidence. Medical examiners likewise came under criticism for irregularities in the autopsies and delays in the return of bodies to their families.
The incident is considered as one of the bloodiest battles in the Mexican government’s decade-long campaign against powerful drug gangs across the Latin American state.
Official figures show that more than 35,000 people are currently missing in the country due to drug-related violence, which has also claimed thousands of lives over the past few years.
Police corruption, drug cartels and organized crime are the greatest challenges facing Mexico.
A gay black man was brutally attacked by five men in 2013 and has spent the last three years fighting for justice. Unfortunately, he may never see it. Two of five Hasidic neighborhood patrolmen have been sentenced, but will spend no time in jail.
On Tuesday, two men charged with gang assault, punishable by up to 25 years in prison, walked away with a sentence of community service and three-year probation for an attack that left 24-year-old Taj Patterson blind in his left eye.
Pinchas Braver, 22, and Abraham Winkler, 42, were two of five men that assaulted Patterson.
Whether Patterson was attacked for being gay or black or a combination, he’ll never know.
“I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m black. I’m gay, a whole slew of reasons,” Patterson told the Gothamist.
Patterson was walking through South Williamsburg when he was stopped by five members of the neighborhood patrol group known as the Shomrim. Patterson told the New York Daily News it was about 4:00am when the men knocked him down, shouting, “Stay down, f****t!”
Multiple people claim to have seen the attack.
Evelyn Keys, an MTA bus driver, intervened when she saw what was happening. She described the jackets the men were wearing to the Daily News in May, saying, “I know the first letter is an ‘S.’ Under those three letters there was a word that started with an ‘S.’”
“That wasn’t a misdemeanor,” she said.
Mariano Ortiz, 33, told the Daily Mail that his attempt to photograph the attackers’ license plates nearly ended with him being mowed down.
“One of [them] tried to hit me,” Ortiz said.
Despite the witnesses, the case faced a number of hurdles before even being investigated. Patterson attempted to report the attack to the police, but was dismayed to discover that it had been closed a day later. The report said that Patterson was attacked by only one man and claimed that Patterson was “highly intoxicated, uncooperative and incoherent.”
Patterson believes that racial issues factored into their decision, telling the Daily Mail, “I think they saw this black kid . . . and they might have seen the Jewish guys and thought he must have done something wrong because the Jewish guys wouldn’t do anything wrong.”
It took his mother, Zahra, to contact media sources for the attack to be investigated.
© assila_france / Instagram
The French women’s rights minister has defended the ‘burqini’ bans introduced in three French towns, saying the swimwear is “hostile to diversity.” She has previously been criticized for comparing veil-wearing Muslims to “American negroes” who supported slavery.
“The burqini is not some new line of swimwear, it is the beach version of the burqa and it has the same logic: hide women’s bodies in order to control them better,” French Minister for Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol told French Le Parisien newspaper.
She added that burqinis represent a “deeply archaic vision of the place of women in society and, thus, the relationship between men and women.”
“There is an idea that women are … immoral and should hide their body… A hundred years passed, but [according to burqini inventors] a woman who reveals her ankles or hair is not a woman of virtue.”
According to Rossignol, the burqini topic sparked tensions because of its political dimension.
“It is not just the business of those women who wear it, because it is the symbol of a political project that is hostile to diversity and women’s emancipation,” she said.
Burqinis have recently been a hot topic in France after several towns banned the controversial swimwear worn by some Muslim women.
The first city to ban burqinis was Cannes, with Mayor David Lisnard ruling that: “Access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have [bathing apparel] that respects good customs and secularism.”
His moved was followed by the mayor of another French Riviera town, Villeneuve-Loubet. This time the Muslim swimwear was banned for “hygiene reasons,” according to the town’s mayor, Lionnel Luca.
A village on the French island of Corsica became the third place in France to ban burqinis after the female Muslim swimwear reportedly caused a violent brawl between locals and migrants of North African origin there.
Earlier in August, the Pennes-Mirabeau commune near Marseille canceled a controversial pool party that had been planned by a Muslim group. The organizers, the Smile 13 group, which describes itself on Facebook as a sports and social event group for women and children, said they had received death threats, with one person even claiming they received bullets in the mail.
© assila_france / Instagram
RT | August 16, 2016
The Corsican village of Sisco is the third French locality to announce a burkini ban on beaches, in the name of “gender equality,” but Muslim women who oppose such “misogynistic” measures are targeting “western feminists” for a lack of public support.
Following bans by the French Riviera towns of Cannes and Villeneuve-Loubet citing “hygienic reasons” and linking it to terrorism, Sisco’s mayor enacted the restriction after a major brawl this past weekend in his village over the controversial swimsuit.
The debate has gripped France with Islamophobes, socialists, and feminists, among others, seemingly placed on the same side on the issue.
“Since when did wearing a burkini, in most cases a loose fitting nylon version of a wetsuit, become an act of allegiance to terrorist movements?” Huda Jawad of the Independent asked.
“Do Marks & Spencer or House of Fraser know that their attempt to raise profits and exploit a gap in the over-saturated clothing market is selling and promoting allegiance to ISIS?” she added, referring to recent clothing brands selling the swimwear.
“These daily micro, and at times macro, aggressions indicate the extent to which misogynistic Islamophobia has become normalized in Western discourse and public debate,” Jawad noted. “What hurts the most is the silence of fellow mainstream and ‘western’ feminists whose voices would have a significant impact on how these issues are framed and articulated.”
In an interview with Le Parisien, Socialist Party Minister for Family, Children and Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol, defended the ban and said the burkini’s purpose is “to hide women’s bodies in order to better control them.”
The same minister in April compared Muslim women who choose to wear the veil to “American negroes” who supported slavery.
While many white, Western feminists defend the rights of women to be free for what they wear or do to their bodies, there has been silence concerning Muslim women who are often marginalized.
On August 9, a ‘Burkini Day’ for women at a waterpark beside Marseilles was called off after organizers received death threats.
There were no protests from white feminists, nor did they don the burkini in solidarity with Muslim women who choose to wear the outfit. … Full article
A British parliamentary committee has criticized UK police for training Bahraini forces who are accused of ruthlessly suppressing public protests and dissent.
Under a confidential agreement in 2015 obtained by the Observer, the UK’s College of Policing agreed to train forces of Bahrain’s Interior Ministry.
The deal, however, does not mention human rights issues.
The UK parliament’s home affairs select committee has slammed the college’s agreements with regimes that have poor human rights records. The committee also blasted UK’s Foreign Office for refusing to disclose such contracts.
The committee said “opaque” agreements with foreign governments, which have been criticized for human rights abuses, “threaten the integrity of the very brand of British policing that the college is trying to promote”.
A law firm representing a tortured Bahraini activist has written a letter to the Foreign Office, saying the agreement with Bahrain raises concerns about the UK’s commitment to protecting human rights.
“We know the college provides a wide range of training programmes domestically that are of potential concern, such as the use of communications data obtained by telecoms operators, the use of interception material, surveillance and undercover policing, and the scope of its courses to overseas customers is not limited in any accountable way,” said Daniel Carey, of DPG Law.
He also argued that the college must have acquired the parliament’s approval for its profit-making activities. “The College of Policing is doing something unusual for government in selling services overseas.”
Anti-regime protesters have staged numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis since February 14, 2011, calling on the Al Khalifah regime to relinquish power.
Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to the country in March that year to assist the Manama government in its crackdown on peaceful and pro-democracy rallies.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in Manama’s crackdown on the anti-regime activists.
We know what automatic license plate readers are good for: collecting massive amounts (billions of records) of plate/location data housed by private companies and accessed by law enforcement for indefinite periods of time. What we don’t know is how effective ALPRs are at fighting/investigating crime.
George Joseph at Citylab has done some digging into the effectiveness of license plate readers and hasn’t found much that justifies the expense, much less the constant compilation of plate info.
Last month, the Bay Area’s UASI released ALPR data from the Central Marin Police Authority showing that only .02% of the nearly 4 million license plates tracked over October of 2015 through April of this year resulted in matches to any police “hot list” databases. The data indicate that zero “known or suspected terrorists” have been tracked using ALPRs, and that only a handful of other matches related to other hot-list criteria.
Why the mention of “terrorists?” Well, like most other high-tech law enforcement gear, the funding and deployment of these tools relies heavily on a narrative that never pans out: the never ending War on Terror. UASI stands for “Urban Areas Security Initiative” — a DHS grant program meant to better equip law enforcement for handling terrorism/terrorists. To secure grants to pay for ALPRs, Stingrays, 1033 program supplies, etc., all law enforcement has to do is insert “because terrorism” somewhere in the requisition form. Existential angst — and every government agency’s natural desire to stay well-funded — takes care of the rest.
But in reality, ALPRs aren’t catching terrorists. They’re not even catching dangerous criminals. Use of ALPRs has increased dramatically over the past decade, but there’s not much to show for it other than millions upon millions of “non-hit” snapshots. Instead of bringing down terrorists, drug traffickers, auto theft rings, and kidnappers, ALPRs are being used to troll low-income neighborhoods. (Oakland, CA: Picture/data by Dave Maass, Jeremy Gillula, and EFF.)
Law enforcement officials continue to claim ALPRs are being used to target “major criminal activities.” Maybe so, but there’s been a troubling push by municipalities and private companies to turn plate readers into roaming revenue generators.
As the Electronic Frontier Foundation found, several municipalities in Texas… have sparked controversy for allowing police to team up with private-sector companies to work like mobile debt collectors.
In places like Guadalupe County, the City of Orange, and the City of Kyle, Vigilant, a for-profit technology firm, gives police free license-plate readers and creates its own “hot list” for police, using police records on individuals with outstanding court fines. In exchange, police with license-plate readers identify drivers with outstanding fines during their patrols, offering them a trip to jail or the option to pay the original court fee (plus a 25 percent markup, all of which goes to Vigilant).
This budget/profit-driven approach leads directly to ALPRs spending a disproportionate amount of time roaming low-income neighborhoods where unpaid fines and fees are often more prevalent. What’s touted as a high-tech solution to serious criminal activity is being used to collect on unpaid parking tickets and unregistered vehicles. DHS anti-terrorism dollars are being converted into city budget enhancers. The “hot lists” used to direct law enforcement activity are routing officers away from dangerous criminal activity and turning them into glorified meter maids and revenue agents. Who needs to worry about terrorists when low-level scofflaws with unpaid parking tickets are more likely to generate income on the spot?
This is what’s being done with millions of records controlled by private companies and governed by a patchwork collection of inadequate minimization and data destruction policies. Rather than make cities safer, they’re only serving to make cities slightly richer. And in doing so, ALPRs are making policing — especially the sort that actually serves the community — a dusty relic of a bygone era.
I have long been a critic of military tribunals as constitutionally dubious and practically ineffectual institutions. The tribunals at Guantanamo Bay have resulted in few actual trials and undermined the standing of the United States as a nation committed to the rule of law. The principle rationale cited by former officials in defense of Gitmo has been that it would not be used to try citizens. Now in a deeply disturbing interview, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has stated that he might try citizens at Gitmo — maintaining a shadow court system for stripping citizens of basic rights of due process just a few miles off the United States shore.
As an attorney who has long practiced in the national security field (including terrorism cases), the tribunal system has never made a great deal of sense to me. Federal courts have long tried terrorists and the government has a high success rate in such cases. The creation of a faux court system only gives our enemies a rallying cry and fuels those who to call us hypocrites.
Those concerns are magnified by Trump’s dismissal of any distinction between citizens and non-citizens in the use of such tribunals. In an interview with the Miami Herald on Thursday, Trump was asked if he would use the tribunals against U.S. citizens. Trump responded: “Well, I know that they want to try them in our regular court systems, and I don’t like that at all. I don’t like that at all. I would say they could be tried there, that would be fine.”
That may be fine in Trump’s view but it would also be unconstitutional. Presidents are not allowed to create alternative court systems for denying citizens of core rights at their discretion. Such a Caesar-like role runs against the very grain of the American constitutional system. The statement by Trump reflects a disconcerting lack of faith in our court system and a fundamental misunderstanding of the limits placed upon presidents in our constitutional system.
In a much-awaited step toward uncovering the historical truth of the U.S.-backed Dirty War in Argentina in the 1970’s and 80’s, the United States has delivered over 1,000 pages of classified documents to the South American country. But critics argue that there are major gaps in the files, including the exclusion of CIA documents, that keep in the dark important details of the extent of human rights violations and the U.S. role in such abuses.
The Argentine government delivered the newly-declassified documents to journalists and human rights organizations on Monday after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented the files to President Mauricio Macri during a state visit last week.
The 1,078 pages from 14 U.S. government agencies and departments are the first in a series of public releases over the next 18 months of declassified documents related to Argentina’s last military dictatorship, including Argentine Country Files, White House staff files, correspondence cables, and other archives, according to a statement from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The files include grisly descriptions of torture, rape, assassinations, and forced disappearances carried out by the military regime under General Jorge Rafael Videla, installed after the 1976 coup against left-wing President Isabel Peron.
The documents also detail Henry Kissinger’s applause of the Argentine dictatorship and its counterinsurgency strategy, including during a visit to General Videla during the 1978 World Cup. National Security staffer Robert Pastor wrote in 1978 that Kissinger’s “praise for the Argentine government in its campaign against terrorism was the music the Argentine government was longing to hear.”
Argentina’s so-called anti-terrorism policy was in reality a brutal crackdown on political dissidents, human rights defenders, academics, church leaders, students, and other opponents of the right-wing regime. It was also part of the regional U.S.-backed Operation Condor, a state terror operation that carried out assassinations and disappearances in support of South America’s right-wing dictatorships. In Argentina, up to 30,000 people were forcibly disappeared during the Dirty War.
The documents also detail how then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter raised concern over the human rights situation in Argentina, including in a letter to General Videla rather gently urging him to make progress with respect to human rights. At the time, Kissinger reportedly demonstrates a “desire to speak out against the Carter Administration’s human rights policy to Latin America,” according to a memo by National Security’s Pastor.
The further confirmation of Kissinger’s atrocious legacy in Latin America comes as U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton courts an endorsement from Kissinger, widely condemned as a war criminal by human rights groups.
However, despite the revealing details, the batch of documents is also lacking in key archives, the Argentine publication El Destape pointed out. The package does not include files from the CIA or the Defense Intelligence Agency, which specializes in military intelligence.
What’s more, although the documents were expected to cover the period of 1977 to 1982, the latest documents are dated 1981, which means that cables related to the 1982 Malvinas War between Argentina and Britain and the U.S. role in the conflict are not included.
The Macri administration hailed the release of the documents as the result of a “new foreign policy” that has steered the country to rekindle ties with the United States after former Presidents Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez championed anti-imperialist politics for 12 years. But the self-congratulatory government narrative ignores the fact that Argentine human rights organizations have demanded for years that the archives be released in a fight for historical truth that first bore fruit in 2002 with the release of over 4,500 U.S. documents.
Furthermore, Macri has come under fire for undermining investigations into dictatorship-era crimes after his sweeping austerity campaign scrapped departments charged with gathering historical evidence in certain public institutions. The Argentine president has also been criticized over his indirect ties to the military regime, which proved to hugely benefit his family business, the Macri Society, also known as Socma.
U.S. President Obama described the move as a response to the U.S. “responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency.” Obama announced plans to release documents related to the Dirty War during a visit with Macri in Argentina in March, which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the 1976 military coup.
Obama’s visit was widely criticized by human rights activists over the insensitivity of the timing. Although he announced plans for the United States to “do its part” with respect to uncovering historical truth about the dictatorship period, he did not apologize for the United States’ involvement in human rights abuses and widespread forced disappearance.
BETHLEHEM – The Israeli government announced on Sunday that it was launching a task force to identify and deport members from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, marking the latest attack on left-wing and pro-Palestinian activism by Israel.
In a statement released by Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, Israeli Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri and Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan decided on Sunday during a meeting to form a joint task force to “expel and ban the entry of BDS activists” into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
“We must not allow BDS activists to enter to state of Israel. This is a necessary step, given the malicious intentions of these activists to delegitimize and spread lies and distortions about the reality in our region,” Erdan was quoted as saying in the statement, adding that the boycott movement against Israel “must have a price.”
“Fighting against Israeli boycott starts by fighting those who undermine the State of Israel,” Deri said. “We have a responsibility to do everything possible to crush any boycott and to state clearly that we will not allow the State of Israel to be harmed. Forming the task force is an important step in that direction.”
Without citing any names, the statement estimated that “hundreds” of pro-Palestinian activists and dozens of organizations were currently in Israel “to gather information and use it to boycott Israel, and harm its citizens,” and that the task force would also try to prevent the entrance of activists in the future.
The statement also alleged that BDS activists traveled to the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to “incite” Palestinians.
It remained unclear on Sunday evening whether the task force would only focus on foreign activists, or whether its activities would also extend to tracking and monitoring Palestinian and Israeli advocates of BDS.
Sunday’s announcement was only the latest step taken by the Israeli government to target pro-Palestinian activism.
The BDS movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.
The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has gained momentum over the past year, with activists targeting companies that act in compliance with Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In late July, the Black Lives Matter movement — which denounces police violence against African-Americans in the United States — came out in support of BDS, stating that it was committed to “global struggle, solidarity, and support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement to fight for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinian people and to end international support of the occupation.”
The Israeli government has grown increasingly concerned about the growth of the BDS movement, as the movement’s support base has expanded to include companies, universities and religious institutions around the world divesting from organizations complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.
In January, the Israeli Knesset held a conference to discuss ways to combat BDS, and dedicated 100 million shekels ($26 million) of the government’s 2016 budget to the issue.
In May, Israel issued a travel ban on BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, a permanent resident in Israel, with Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, stating at the time that the decision reflected “the lengths [Israel] will go in order to stop the spread of the non-violent BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.”
More recently, Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, passed a controversial NGO “transparency bill” into law on July 12, compelling organizations to reveal their sources of funding if more than half came from public foreign entities — a law which human rights groups and opposition Knesset members condemned for seeking to “silence criticism” of Israel and delegitimize left-wing groups.
Opposition leader in the Knesset Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Camp party then slammed the law for “symbolizing the budding fascism that is rising and flourishing in Israeli society” and making a “mockery” of the “right to organize, which is a sacred founding principle of a democratic society.”
The heart-warming image of the Olympic Refugee Team entering the Maracana Stadium last Friday was a special moment, but 77,000 Brazilian residents have themselves been displaced as a result of the Games.
The Rio 2016 Games are the first to have a team of refugees compete, in recognition of the 60 million refugees around the world.
Athletes from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo were chosen to represent the refugee team, which has been handed a group of coaches and support staff to help them during the Games.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach heralded the refugee team.
“These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem,” he said.
“We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the word. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honor and the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic Stadium.
“This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society.”
Although the Olympics may offer a handful of refugees a temporary home in Brazil, the event itself has directly forced around 77,000 Brazilian natives from their homes to make way for infrastructure.
As was the case in the football World Cup in 2014, protesters opposed the hosting of a major sporting event in Brazil – mainly due to the country’s dire economic situation and the social issues that ravage the nation.
One of the main reasons for opposition to the 2016 Olympics has been the creation of IDPs, internally displaced persons, in Brazil.
Among the worst-affected areas was the poverty-stricken Rio suburb of Vila Autodromo, where residents were forcibly removed from their homes.
The infrastructure upgrade to Vila Autodromo will drive development projects including plush apartment buildings, but serves as a sardonic reminder to poor families that they have been forced out of their homes.