Sri Lanka: Demand an end to attacks on civilians - call for investigation and prosecution

WLUML is disturbed to hear that, in the latest outbreak of violence in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces as well as the LTTE are targeting unarmed civilians. We urge you to show solidarity and support friends in Sri Lanka and sign on/circulate this appeal.
Action needed: 
By signing this document, express your solidarity with the Mannar Women for Human Rights and Democracy and support their demands that:
  1. The Sri Lankan government immediately launch a thorough, independent, and impartial investigation into the killing of four innocent civilians, including two children, on 8th June 2006 in Mannar. We demand that such an investigation be conducted with the participation of members of independent human rights organizations.
  2. The President of Sri Lanka appoint an independent commission to investigate and effectively prosecute all reported cases of murder, torture and sexual violence committed by the armed forces.
  3. International donors provide special support to create a fund that will protect survivors of state sponsored sexual violence and increase the victims' access to the justice system locally and, if necessary, internationally.
  4. While strongly condemning all attacks on civilians – Tamils, Muslims or Sinhalese – we call upon all the warring parties in Sri Lanka to immediately stop hostilities and resume peace talks with a genuine commitment to finding a lasting political solution to the conflict.
  5. Lastly, we call on the government of Sri Lanka, the LTTE and the international community to ensure the inclusion of women in all delegations for future peace talks.
Sign on at: http://www.petitiononline.com/mannarsl/
Addresses: 
If you can, please also send letters to the following individuals and urge them to take these incidents seriously and investigate.

Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse
President
Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka
C/- Office of the President
Temple Trees
150, Galle Road
Colombo 3
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2472100 / +94 11 2446657 (this is contact for Secretary to President)
Email: secretary@presidentsoffice.lk

Mr. Chandra Fernando
Inspector General of Police (IGP)
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 440440/327877
Email: chandralaw@police.lk or igp@police.lk

Mr. K. C. Kamalasabesan
Attorney General
Attorney General's Department
Colombo 12
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 436 421

Dr. Deepika Udugama
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
No. 36, Kynsey Road
Colombo 8
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk

National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
E-mail: polcom@sltnet.lk

Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
c/o Ms Vernonica Birga
Room 3-042
c/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9615
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN)
Email: vbirga@ohchr.org (please also cc: rrico@ohchr.org)

The Communications Unit
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP)
Level 10, West Tower
World Trade Centre
Bank of Ceylon Mawatha
Colombo 01
SRI LANKA
Telephone: 011 5554471-2, 2388709, 2388710
Fax: 011 5554473

Mr. S. P. Thamilchelvan
Peace Secretariat
Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam
A9 Road
Kilinochci
Phone: 0094212283960
Fax: 0094212283959
E-mail: mail@ltteps.org

Update: Kyrgyzstan: Continued access to abortion - safe, for now

We have heard from friends from The Forum of Women's NGOs of Kyrgyzstan who recently requested support in the protest against initiatives that restrict women's right to abortion. They send their thanks and warm wishes to those who sent letters of support and solidarity. For now, these initiatives have not been adopted by the Kyrgyztsan Parliament.

Bangladesh: Continued attacks on the Ahmadiyya community

During 2003-2005 we circulated calls for action regarding attacks on the community, and subsequent updates urging action. WLUML again urges you to write to the Bangladesh Government regarding their duty to protect minority communities.
Action needed: 
The persecution of Ahmadiyya (Qadiani) groups and other minorities has been frequently used by governments as a means of diverting attention away from real political and economic problems facing the people. Extreme Right politico-religious groups have also raised questions regarding the status of the Ahmadiyya (Qadiani) community as a means of monopolising local politics and of pressurising governments.
Addresses: 
Please URGENTLY take the following action:
  1. Contact any Ahmadiyya groups in your area to offer solidarity.
  2. Write to your Foreign Ministry requesting them to uphold international commitments to religious freedom and freedom of expression.
  3. Write to the Government of Bangladesh urging it to take immediate steps to ensure the right to religious freedom and freedom of expression of the Ahmadiyya community.
Begum Khaleda Zia
Hon'ble Prime Minister
Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Prime Minister's Office, Old Sangsad Bhaban, Tejgaon, Dhaka
Phone : (880 2) 8828160 - 79, 9888677; Fax: (880 2) 8113244 (Principal Secretary)
Fax: (880 2) 9133722 (Political Sec.); (880 2) 8113243 (Press Sec.)
Email: pmo@pmo.bdonline.com or pm@pmobd.org

Mr. Altaf Hossain Choudhury
Hon'ble Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs
Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Bangladesh Secretariat (Building No. 8), Dhaka
Fax: (880 2) 8619667; and 8614788

Mr. Mosharef Hossain Shajahan
Hon'ble State Minister, Ministry of Religious Affairs
Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka
Fax: (880 2) 8615040

UPDATE: Iran: Support Iranian women - demonstration 12 June 2006

We have heard from friends who say, "Thanks to everybody who participated in this solidarity action, the website of the Iranian Presidency drastically slowed down and came to a halt several times on the 18th and 19th of June. We can be sure they have received the word. We are ending this action for now with an urgent note."

Kyrgyzstan: Support the campaign to ensure continued access to abortion

The Forum of Women's NGOs of Kyrgyzstan is requesting your support in the protest against initiatives that restrict women's right to abortion.
Source: 
Forum of Women's NGOs of Kyrgyzstan
Action needed: 
Please send your letters and messages of support and solidarity to the women's forum (email: janay@elcat.kg) and to add your signature (organisation name or individual) to the following letter:

To: President of the Kyrgyz Republic
Cc: Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament) of the Kyrgyz Republic
Government of the Kyrgyz Republic
Special Representative of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic in Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament) on gender development issues
Ombudsman of the Kyrgyz Republic
Public of Kyrgyzstan

We, the underwritten, consider it a civic duty to express our concern about the initiative of the Ombudsman of the Kyrgyz Republic to introduce a criminal liability for women and medical workers terminating 12-22 weeks pregnancy under social indications.

During its independence, Kyrgyzstan has made serious steps towards democratisation and gender development. It has ratified more than 40 UN conventions on human rights, including the main legal instrument on gender equality – Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, ratified in 1997).

In compliance with the CEDAW Committee’s General Recommendation #21 -- Equality in Marriage and Family Relations -- the decision of a woman to have or not to have a child “must not be limited by spouse, parent, partner or Government”. In addition, the Committee recommends States parties to “ensure that measures are taken to prevent coercion in regard to fertility and reproduction” (General Recommendation #19. Violence against Women.).

According to the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic on Repoductive Rights (Article 12) «a woman can not be forced by anyone to pregnancy, abortion, or delivery. Such actions are qualified as violence agains women».

Termination of pregnancy, especially in late terms, is always an extreme step. It roots in a complex combination of discriminatory mechanisms reproduced by the state and the society.

Raising the issue of the possibility of repressive sanctions against women in exercising their basic guaranteed freedoms and rights severely violates constitutional rights of a person and discriminates women. Introduction of the proposed amendment, in fact, means a reversal of democratic processes and a withdrawal from gender mainstreaming course.

The global experience demostrates that the decreases in the abortion rates are achieved not through violent repressions against women and medical personnel, but rather through targeted state policies supporting maternity, children, families, and reproductive rights. Effective regulation of reproductive behavior of people relies on a wide access to information and services on family planning.

We firmly believe that, if the measures suggested by the Ombudsman -- namely the introduction of the criminal liability for termination of pregnancy of 12-22 weeks gestation -- are adopted, the situation with reproductive rights and humanitarian security will deteriorate. Narrowed access to quality healthcare may feed the illegal abortions industry, which kills hundreds of women worldwide every day. Other facets of such measure are abandoned and slaughtered children and destroyed families. It will be hard to estimate economic damages from such political step. Maintenance of orphanages and prisons, as well as treatment and rehabilitation of victims of street abortions, and additional losses in manpower will become an extra burden for the nation.

We express our confidence, that the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Members of the Jogorku Kenesh, and the Government will not allow the adoption of the Ombudsman’s proposition as breaking fundamental human rights and contradicting both the national and international legislation.

June 07, 2006

Women Support Center
Reproductive Health Alliance
Kyrgyz Family Planning Alliance
Rural Women’s NGO “Alga”
Social Technologies Agency
Civil Initiative Center ‘Leader’
Association “Diamond”
Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan
Women Living Under Muslim Laws
Addresses: 
Again, send your letters and messages of support and solidarity to janay@elcat.kg and to add your signature to the campaign.

Iran: Support Iranian women - demonstration 12 June 2006

We urge individuals and organizations to sign up to support the peaceful protest of Iranian women demanding equal rights.
Action needed: 

UN: Act now for UN reform and gender equality

Despite the good commitments from CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action especially, implementation by governments and in the UN has been far slower than we would like. With the initiatives for reforms in the UN, there is an important opportunity now to ensure that the structural and other obstacles to effective implementation within the UN are addressed.
Action needed: 
Your input – women’s human rights and gender equality activists in Muslim countries and communities – is needed, in order to get best formulation of what we really need and want, and, to assure more legitimacy and strength in discussions with those who have the power to make recommendations to the UN General Assembly (such as Coherence Panel members) and obviously with those who have the power to make the decisions – the representatives of our governments at the UN.
Addresses: 
For interventions and documentation to the Coherence Panel, please email Koen Davidse koendavidse@hotmail.com.

For interventions to national officials, please contact (for e.g.) the women’s and gender ministries or other machineries, and the ministries of foreign affairs.

Bahrain: Take action in support of women demanding introduction of Bahrain’s new Family Code

WLUML has received an urgent request from the Committee of Women’s Petition (CWP), Bahrain. WLUML strongly urges you to take action in support of the group of women from Bahrain linked with the Committee of Women’s Petition and ensure their safe return to Bahrain following their campaigning visit to Europe in support of Bahrain’s proposed Family Code.
Action needed: 
Send urgent letters to the Bahraini authorities indicating your support for the CWP and in particular for the 10-women delegation, led by Ghada Yusuf Jamsheer, Director, Committee of Women's Petition (CWP).

At this stage, we do not recommend letters specifically urging protection of the delegation. However, it may be useful to suggest that there should be no attempt to misuse the current family cases involving the women as a means of punishing the women on the delegation.

A sample letter and addresses of officials to be contacted follow below:

Sample letter


Your Excellency/ Your Majesty/ Sir…

We are writing to express our profound support for the delegation of women from Bahrain, led by Ghada Yusuf Jamsheer, Director, Committee of Women's Petition (CWP) which recently visited London and Geneva to highlight the need for the rule of law in family matters in Bahrain.

The women of the delegation shared moving stories regarding their personal struggles to secure justice under Bahrain’s Muslim family laws as well as their determination to return to Bahrain and ensure the continuation of the campaign to codify family laws in Bahrain. We were deeply impressed by their resolve to make sure that Bahraini families are founded on mutual respect and therefore offer a more stable environment for all family members including children.

We welcome the Bahraini government’s commitment to the codification of family law and reform of Shari’a Courts in Bahrain, and hope there is no subsequent attempt by any person or authority to misuse the current family cases involving the delegation members as a means of penalising the women for their participation in this important delegation.

Yours sincerely,
Addresses: 
Send your letters to

The Embassy of Bahrain in your country
http://www.helplinedatabase.com/embassy-database/country-in-other-countries/bahrain.html

The Royal Council
His Highness the King, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain
Fax: +973-17664587 /17661618

Cabinet
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa
Fax: +973-17211363

Vice-President of the Supreme Council for Justice
Sheikh Khalifa Rashed Al-Khalifa
Fax: +973-17535852

Minister of Justice
Mr. Mohammed Ali Al Sitri
Fax: +973-17531284 /17531222

Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khaled Al-Khalifa
Fax: +973-17812849/17812881

Please send copies of your letters/messages to wluml@wluml.org

UPDATE: Afghanistan: Don’t allow warlords to silence Malalai Joya

According to the Defense Committee of Malalai Joya, on 14 April 2006, the staff of Malalai Joya's office in Farah province uncovered a plot planned by Joya's opponents against her.
Source: 
Defense Committee for Malalai Joya

Pakistan: Religious minorities - ensure protection of places of worship and properties

WLUML has received this call for action from friends at Hotline Asia and urges you to respond. They state that in the past 10 months (May 2005 to February 2006), the places of worship and properties of religious minorities are increasingly being targeted by the extremist attacks and grabbing of properties in Pakistan.
Source: 
Hotline Asia
Action needed: 
***Please respond before 31 March 2006 ***

Please write polite letters expressing your deep concern and requesting the authorities to:
  1. ensure the protection of places of worship and properties of religious minorities;
  2. take strict action against those who preach and wage violence against minority religions;
  3. protect the vulnerable religious minorities through repealing the discriminatory laws and practices that promote disharmony, persecution and intolerance towards them.
Please avoid typing 'cc ACPP' at any part of your letter but send copies to us at hotline@acpp.org separately for monitoring purposes.

SAMPLE LETTER

We write with deep concern about the insecurity of religious minorities in Pakistan, where their places of worship and properties are increasingly becoming target of religious extremists.

From May 2005 to February 2006, at least 7 Churches, 7 houses belonging to the religious minorities, 3 Pastors houses, 1 Convent, 1 girl's hostel and a dispensary run by nuns, 7 Church-run schools, a college of the Christian community, a place of worship of Ahmadis, a Temple of Hindus and 3 hospitals of the Christian community were destroyed in various provinces and cities; a Hindu couple, accused of blasphemy, lost their property; 10 persons belonging to religious minorities were killed, 27 individuals were booked under blasphemy laws; and hundreds were harassed and injured by the fanatics in different incidents.

Religious communities are profoundly shocked and hurt by these heinous acts of destruction on their sacred places of worship.

We appreciate the good attempt of your government to bolster religious freedom by introducing new procedures for the implementation of both the blasphemy laws and the Hudood Ordinances, also by the education reform of textbook. However, with hate speech against non-Muslims common at all levels in the government approved curriculum and vernacular media, and the existance of discriminatory legislation, the religious intolerance and the frequency of violence against the religious minorities in your country are still growing.

To abide by the Article 36 and 37 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which declares "protection of religious minorities and promotion of social justice and eradication of social evils", and Article 3 & 18 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights that emphasis on religious freedom of an individual, we call for your attention to the present alarming situation of the religious minorities, and request your government to:
  1. ensure the protection of places of worship and properties of religious minorities;
  2. take strict action against those who preach and wage violence against minority religions;
  3. protect the vulnerable religious minorities through repealing the discriminatory laws and practices that promote disharmony, persecution and intolerance towards them.
Addresses: 
Send letters to:

H. E. Pervaiz Musharaf
President of Pakistan
President House
Islamabad - Pakistan
Fax: +92-51-9224836, +92-51-9203297

Send copies to:

H.E.Shaukat Aziz
The Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister Secretariat
Islamabad - Pakistan
Fax: +92-51-9221596

H.E.Muhammad Ejaz Ul Haq
Federal Minister for Minorities' Affairs
Near GPO
Islamabad - Pakistan
Fax: +92-51-9205833

H.E.Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao
Federal Minister for Interior Affaires
R. Block, Pak. Secretariat,
Islamabad - Pakistan
Fax: +92-51-9202624

H.E.Lt.Gen. (Retd) Javed Ashraf
Federal Minister for Education
D - Block, Pak. Secretariat
Islamabad - Pakistan
Fax: +92-51-9203245

Diplomatic representative of Pakistan in your country.
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