Group Classification on National ID Cards: News stories
AP 21 Dec 1999 Burundi Deputy Shot by Soldiers By Christophe Nkurunziza Associated Press Writer Tuesday, Dec. 21, 1999; 10:04 a.m. EST BUJUMBURA, Burundi –– Soldiers manning a checkpoint in Burundi's capital killed a member of parliament, an army spokesman said Tuesday. The dead man, Gabriel Gisabwamana, was a member of the majority Hutu party, Frodebu. He was shot after the 10 p.m. curfew Monday night, said the army spokesman, Col. Longin Minani. Minani said police are still investigating what happened. A friend of Gisabwamana's said the slain man and three other people had gone to a neighborhood bar in a northern district of Bujumbura Monday night. The friend, Pancrace Cimpaye, said soldiers ordered Gisabwamana and the three other Hutus to stop and asked for their identification cards. "Three were able to flee, but Gabriel was murdered by soldiers," he said. The majority of Burundi's 6.5 million inhabitants are Hutus, but the army and police in the tiny central African nation are mostly Tutsis. Tutsis have run the country for all but four months since independence from Belgium in 1962. Gisabwamana was the 25th Frodebu member of parliament to be killed since October 1993, the month Tutsi paratroopers kidnapped and killed Melchoir Ndadaye, the country's first democratically elected president and a Hutu. At least 200,000 people, most of them civilians, have died in fighting since then. Several months ago, Hutu rebels stepped up attacks on the outskirts of Bujumbura. The army and police have rounded up tens of thousands of Hutu civilians from areas north of Bujumbura since then and shipped them off to camps, ostensibly for their own protection. Critics of the forced moves say the military wants to clear the area of supporters of the rebels who are trying to oust President Pierre Buyoya. International aid agencies say the camps are breeding grounds for disease and people living in them do not have adequate food.
COTE D IVOIRE: IRIN Focus on the latest electoral crisis [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] ABIDJAN, 4 Dec 2000 (IRIN) - The smouldering remains of burnt tyres and barricades made of crates, bits of metal and, on one road, freshly cut trees, were a few of the visible signs on Monday of fresh political upheavals in Cote d’Ivoire. The latest crisis, which further threatens the stability and cohesion of an already fractured society, is pegged to the Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify ex-Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara from the 10 December election. Ouattara’s candidature had been approved by the electoral commission, but the court ruled that he had not provided admissible evidence that he was an Ivorian national. The decision is “illegal and completely arbitrary”, Henriette Diabate, secretary-general of the party Ouattara chairs, the Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR), said on Radio France Internationale (RFI) on Friday. “We have been patient,” she said. “We have wanted to comply with the rules in view of what is happening in our country. We cannot accept such a decision and we affirm that the party’s chairman cannot be excluded from his country’s political process.” The RDR reacted to the decision by withdrawing from the elections and calling a demonstration for Monday 4 December. The government said at the weekend that the demonstration was illegal and, on Sunday, Interior Minister Emile Boga Doudou announced a ban on all anti-election protests from 5 to 11 December. Following discussions on Sunday with the government, the RDR agreed to call off the march and replace it with a public meeting at the Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Le Plateau, Abidjan’s central administrative district. However, that meeting did not get off the ground, according to media sources. AFP said the sound system failed and some RDR supporters insisted on demonstrating. Towards 13:00 GMT RDR leaders and supporters left the stadium, AFP reported. Thousands protest against Ouattara’s exclusion Up to mid-afternoon, there were still thousands of protesters on the main road near the stadium. Some vowed to continue the protest on Tuesday and until they achieved their goal. “We want the presidency, we don’t want just the parliamentary seat,” one youth told IRIN, while others nodded emphatically. “They are saying we are Mossi (Burkinabes), well this is Ouagadougou,” another youth said in an apparent reference to claims by Ouattara’s detractors that he is Burkinabe and that his supporters are not true Ivorians. Later in the afternoon, thousands of RDR supporters could be seen walking the 15-km stretch from Plateau to the outlying neighbourhood of Abobo, where they were occasionally dispersed by bursts of teargas from patrolling gendarmes. Some had sticks, IRIN saw three traditional hunters (‘dozos’) with guns, but many of the marchers, who included men and women of all ages, were unarmed. At least three people were reported to have been killed. In the middle-income neighourhood of Cocody, anti-RDR groups armed with machetes and sticks lined some streets and massed in the compounds of apartment buildings near the state television station. A source later told IRIN that RDR protesters had been cleared from the area. At one point IRIN saw two youths stripped naked surrounded by gendarmes. At least one of the youths was wounded on the back and above his ear. At a nearby intersection lay the inanimate body of a naked boy, who seemed to be in his mid-teens. There was blood on the side of his head. There were men armed with machetes and sticks near the body, while about 12 heavily armed gendarmes stood less than 100 metres away. In the compound of an appartment block in the same neighbourhood, two youths struggled to escape from a cudgel-wielding mob. IRIN members of staff who walked towards the scene were intercepted by young men who surrounded and threatened them and demanded that they show their identity cards. One member of the mob later sought to explain why the group was edgy: “We don’t know who is who,” he said. “They (RDR protesters) have been causing problems here.” International community expresses dismay The international community has deplored Ouattara’s exclusion from the parliamentary race. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on 1 December that he was “dismayed” by the Ivorian Supreme Court’s decision. A spokesman for the Secretary-General said Annan felt only an election with the broadest possible participation would serve the cause of democracy and stability in Côte d’Ivoire. The spokesman said the United Nations was reassessing its involvement in the observation of the elections. The European Union (EU) was reported to have suspended at least part of its aid to Cote d’Ivoire. National unity under serious threat? There is increasing evidence that the latest crisis transcends the issue of Ouattara’s participation in the parliamentary election and could even threaten Cote d’Ivoire’s unity. A group of associations from northern Cote d’Ivoire, where the RDR draws much of its support, warned the government at the weekend to resolve the situation or order the “repatriation” of southerners from 13 districts of the north, including Ouattara’s home area, Kong. Interior Minister Emile Boga Doudou said on radio that he had been informed that state representatives in Kong had been asked to leave. He said he immediately contacted “Gaoussou Ouattara, who is the elder brother of Alassane Ouattara, to inform him of my concern” and that he had received assurances from the elder Ouattara, who is the outgoing parliamentarian for Kong, “that the administration would not be endangered”. In its edition of Monday 4 December, ‘Le Patriote’, a pro-RDR newspaper, showed a map of Cote d’Ivoire with the north separated from the south on its front page, with the caption “Cote d’Ivoire on the brink of secession”. Asked whether there was a real danger of this, RDR Secretary-General Diabate said on BBC: “No, I think the secessionist threat can be serious if we are not careful. The fundamental problems have to be eradicated.” North feels it is being punished, RDR official says Basically, she said, northerners want people to understand that Cote d’Ivoire “is one and indivisable and that there cannot be two measures, one for people from the north and one for people from the south. I myself am from the south and I know how people talk about northerners in my milieu, in my family.” She said northerners saw Ouattara as a symbol. “He is being punished for reasons which are not necessarily the fact that he is from the north but, through Ouattara, an entire region, an entire people, are being punished.” In a reference to the post-election violence in which 171 persons are said to have died, she added: “During the events that we experienced here, people from the north were selectively killed in cold blood and are considered foreigners, so Alassane is just a symbol of the struggle.” The violence occurred after ex-military leader General Robert Guei declared himself the winner of the 22 October presidential election, from which the Supreme Court also disqualified Ouattara, along with other major politicians. Some people died when pro-Guei forces fired on demonstrators calling for the election result to be respected. The protests forced Guei to give up power on 25 October, paving the way for the winner of the poll, Laurent Gbagbo, to be sworn in as president. However, the RDR called for a rerun of the presidential election and demonstrated to press its demand. This sparked clashes between supporters and opponents of the RDR. Gendarmes were accused of siding with the anti-RDR group: according to witnesses, northerners were taken from their homes, beaten and taken to police stations. Heaps of bodies were later found.
Washington Post 18 March 1997 Page A12 The Egypt's Endangered Christians After Violent Attacks, Ancient Coptic Minority Fears It Has Become the Target of Islamic Militants By John Lancaster Washington Post Foreign Service EZBET DAWOUD, Egypt -- The most striking memory of the surviving villagers, when they describe the horror of what happened here, is how peaceful everything had seemed. It was just after dusk. Jadala Mansour, 46, worked behind the counter of his tiny tailor's shop while an assistant hunched over a sewing machine. A few steps away, Fadel Hanafi chatted with four friends in front of his small grocery shop, the one with the banana tree out front. It didn't seem to matter then that Hanafi, a father of 11, was Muslim and the four other men were Coptic Christians. Now it seems to matter a great deal. In a bloody spasm of violence and terror, gunmen believed to be Islamic militants, wielding assault rifles and wearing masks and military fatigues, walked into this predominantly Christian hamlet 300 miles south of Cairo around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and shot everyone in sight. The four-minute assault killed 13 men -- nine of them Copts -- including Mansour and his assistant as well as Hanafi and his four Coptic friends. The attack was the second of its kind in a month and one of the bloodiest against Egypt's Christian minority since 1991, when Islamic militants launched a violent campaign against the secular, military-backed government of President Hosni Mubarak. On Feb. 12, gunmen killed nine Christians while they attended a youth meeting at a Coptic church in Abu Qurqas, 160 miles to the north. Although Egyptian security forces have clearly gained the upper hand in their battle against Islamic extremists during the last several years, the spate of recent attacks has reminded Egyptians of the militants' continued capacity for mayhem. In particular, they have reinforced a sense of vulnerability among Christians -- who make up roughly 10 percent of Egypt's 60 million people -- in a predominantly Islamic country where some Muslim militants regard them as heretics and even the government seems to consider them second-class citizens. "Clearly there have been enough incidents and they've been dramatic and bloody enough that it probably goes beyond random acts of violence," said Virginia Sherry, associate director of Human Rights Watch/Middle East in New York. "The question is whether orders are being given at some level within the militant hierarchy to carry this out." Although Egyptian police say both attacks were the work of the Islamic Group, Egypt's main militant Islamic organization, they have yet to produce evidence for that claim. After the church massacre, an Islamic Group spokesman denied responsibility for the attack, but was then contradicted by another spokesman. Some analysts said this suggests the organization has splintered. In a statement sent to international news agencies Saturday, the Islamic Group denied the attack in Ezbet Dawoud, accusing Egyptian security forces of organizing the slaughter to discredit the militants. Egyptian police have named three Islamic Group members as suspects in the killings. Since 1991, more than 1,000 people on all sides have died in political violence in Egypt, a key U.S. ally and partner in the Middle East peace process. But the militants are now on the defensive. Government security forces have killed or driven abroad many of their top leaders and jailed thousands of rank-and-file sympathizers. As a result, militants who once staged high-profile attacks on government officials and tourists in Cairo and other major cities are now largely confined to hit-and-run operations against police in the sugar-cane fields and mud-brick villages of Upper Egypt. Overall, the level of violence has dropped from a peak of 415 deaths in 1995 to 187 last year, according to the Ibn Khaldoun Center, a Cairo research organization. "Why are they giving this priority to attacking Copts?" asked Hana Mustafa, an expert on extremist violence at the government-backed al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies. "I think it was a long time since they had a high-profile attack and maybe the Copts represent an easier target than assassinating a politician." Egypt is the home of the Coptic faith -- known here as the Church of St. Mark -- and has been since before the advent of Islam. While most of Egypt's Copts adhere to the Orthodox faith, some are affiliated with the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. But despite their long history in Egypt, Coptic Christians, who often have a small blue crucifix tattooed on the inside of one wrist, have long occupied an ambiguous place in a country where Islam has become the official religion. Copts are grossly underrepresented in the upper reaches of government and the army, for example, and are still subject to 19th-century Ottoman law that sharply restricts their ability to build or repair a church. Religion is noted on government identity cards. In the past, human rights organizations have complained that official discrimination against Copts "fuels intolerance and -- intentionally or not -- sets the stage for anti-Christian violence by Islamic militants," according to a 1994 report by Human Rights Watch/Middle East. Mubarak's government recently has moved to redress some of these grievances by, among other things, ordering Muslim preachers to refrain from describing Copts in their sermons as infidels, according to human rights monitors. Police guards have been posted outside Coptic churches. But the Copts remain especially vulnerable to militant violence, in part because they are often suspected of collaborating with police and also because of their relative prosperity. Militants have been known to rob jewelry stores owned by Copts as a means of financing their operations. Copts are a majority in Ezbet Dawoud, a hamlet of one- and two-story mud-brick homes bisected by a putrid drainage ditch. The hamlet is attached to the larger village of Baghora, where the skyline is dominated by the handsome brick spires of the church -- one of four in Baghora -- of Mary Girgas Kibir. The attackers approached from the direction of the church, villagers said, firing at everyone they encountered. "Every night they sit out here," said Saleh Fadel, 17, describing how his father and his four Coptic friends were slain in front of the family grocery store. "Three people came and they started shooting at them. When I heard the shooting, I hid in the shop." He emerged to find his father sprawled on his back next to the drainage ditch, fatally wounded by gunshots to the chest. After the rampage, the gunmen fled into dense sugar-cane fields. An hour later, attackers presumed to be the same men fired on a train heading north to Cairo, killing a 40-year-old woman and wounding six men. Whatever sectarian tensions lurk beneath the surface here, Muslims and Christians have been coping with their grief together. They scattered lentils on bloodstained earth to ward off evil spirits and, on Saturday, mingled at memorial services for the dead. "Here there is no difference between us," said Halim Weesa, 70, a prosperous Christian landowner paying his condolences to Muslim friends at a mourning tent in Ezbet Dawoud. "We are all one family."
Al-Ahram Weekly 15 - 21 June 2000 Issue No. 486 Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 -- Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Features Travel Living Sports Profile People Time Out Chronicles Cartoons Letters Raising the bar By Aziza Sami In order to promote exports, Egyptian products must begin to comply with international bar-code labelling regulations. Bar-codes, those curious vertical lines imprinted on packages, are designed to be read by laser scanners, facilitating the quick and efficient retrieval of data. By the year 2002, the codes are set to become a requisite condition for all goods entering the European and US markets. Currently, the Ministry of Economy and External Trade, the Centre for Export Development and the Authority for the Supervision of Imports and Exports are all actively promoting the technology. Due to its utility in quality control, warehousing and retail, the technology has obvious business applications. Also aware that bar-coding can improve efficiency, two years ago the government began issuing bar-coded national personal identity cards. Symbol Technologies, a Silicon Valley firm whose founder invented the laser is collaborating with the government in the identity card programme. Aside from the identity cards, Symbol is very interested in the heath care sector. Through an Egyptian partner, Gargour Technologies, the American firm is approaching Egyptian hospitals directly, rather than through the auspices of the Ministry of Health. Ideally, bar-coding would provide access to a patient's full medical record and via a wireless communication system this information would be available at any hospital anywhere. The technology, nevertheless, may at times be too sophisticated for the Egyptian environment. Despite the government's realisation of the increasing importance of bar-coding, immature infra-structure conditions and a lack of public awareness are serious obstacles to full implementation. At the moment, even though most major department stores and supermarkets use bar-coding, experience has shown that shop personnel may sometimes refuse to use the technology. Yves Phares, managing director of Gargour Technologies, a supplier of software for wireless communications applications, told Al-Ahram Weekly that in one extreme case, the owner of a clothes shop bought the bar-coding hardware with no intention of actually using it. The merchant merely attached bar-coded labels to clothes "so as to give customers the impression that the apparel is imported." Aware that technological sophistication is critical for future economic prosperity, the government is actively promoting the greater use of information technology in the school system. Yet in education as well, there are infrastructure obstacles. A good example of the promise and the problem is a school in Luxor participating in the Globe Project, sponsored by US Vice President Al Gore as part of the US-Egypt Partnership. The project is responsible for fostering greater access in Egyptian schools to computers and the Internet. The computers and user manuals of the Globe Project are donated through USAID. Unfortunately, in the Luxor school, the results have been frustrating. Students have been given hearsay knowledge of the IT world. They study the information revolution, but the new computers gather dust. The school only has a single telephone line in the school master's office. The pupils, therefore, have no Internet access. School sources said only the local city council has the power to authorise an additional line, but as yet has not done so. However positive the objectives of the Globe Project are, chronic infrastructure constraints have defeated good intentions. Presumably, the problem is not limited to that one school. But despite the structural limitations of the Egyptian environment, IT companies are lured by the promise that, eventually, it will evolve into a lucrative market. According to David Copson, director of international distribution for Symbol, many within the IT sector see much opportunity to "vertically expand" into the Egyptian market. Copson says that Information Technology and Communications Minister Ahmed Nazif has been an active force in promoting foreign investment. The minister is described by Copson as having "a vision" of the economy of tomorrow. Nazif and others in the government realise that "we are on the verge of an IT explosion," Copson said. Nevertheless, before Egypt can take advantage of future IT opportunities its infrastructure deficiencies must be addressed. But again, despite the impediments, international investors are interested in Egypt because of the size of its market, and its proximity to both the burgeoning Israeli IT sector and the oil-rich Gulf, which is also making IT inroads. "The city of Dubai, for instance, has been placed on line," said Copson. "And so the area has the potential to become an IT hub." Egypt has its eye on the same goal, and many foreign investors are banking that it can overcome its infra-structure difficulties.
According to the Egyptian Law No. 260 enacted in 1960 and amended by Law No. 11 enacted in 1965, all Egyptian males must apply for the Egyptian ID Card within 30 days of their 16th birthday. Steps to receive your Egyptian ID: Buy Egyptian ID forms from any post office and make sure that "Form No. 34 Gond" is included. Stamp these forms from your school or your university (If you are a currently enrolled student) or stamp them from three employees working in the government. Go to the nearest civil registration office "segel madani" to your residence and submit the stamped forms and your official birth certificate. Make sure when you receive your Egyptian ID from your civil registration office that your finger print is clear on the ID.
Africa Online 1997 Ethnic Arithmetic By The Analyst Tribal figures often seen to play a crucial role in allocation of resources, job placements and even educational opportunities While releasing the provisional results of the 1999 national population census, the minister for planning, Mr Gideon Ndambuki, downplayed the issue of the ethnic population breakdown, pleading that it was more important to present a national outlook than to harp on tribal arithmetic. Even in the run-up to the census, Ndambuki’s predecessor at planning, Prof George Saitoti, had dwelt on the same issue, and assured Kenyans that they would not necessarily have to answer queries on their ethnic background. In the words of Ndambuki, "population should be seen in terms of Kenyans as a whole rather than along tribal lines". If indeed the figures to be released will not give a breakdown by tribe, that would be a first for Kenya. The ethnic groups that harp on numerical superiority will feel cheated, and, in any case, legitimate questions might be asked about why data should be collected if some of it should be kept under wraps. Well before Ndambuki had his day at the podium, the Daily Nation had come out with an exclusive scoop on leaked provisional census results, and, not suprisingly, the highlight was the ethnic breakdown, which showed the Kalenjin having overtaken the Luo to become Kenya’s third most populous ethnic group after the Kikuyu and then Luhya. Ethnic details were included in the census questionnaire, with each tribe being assigned a specific code. Not all tribes, however, appeared in the tribal code list. An irate resident of Lamu who was not amused by the omission of his tribe from the tribal code list was reported to have stabbed a local chief. If the government was really serious about discarding the ethnic issue, it might have been preferable to omit any such details from the questionnaire, although even that might have raised a ruckus. The leaked census report published by the Daily Nation showed the Kikuyu leading at ethnic tables with a population of 5,302,479, followed by the Luhya at 4,069,920. The Kalenjin were third 3,465,953 while the Luo, who used to rank second up to the 1979 census, were relegated to fourth place with a population of 3,105,100. Whether that is true or not, it is no moot point. Ethnic arithmetic is often seen to play a crucial role in allocation of resources, job placements and even educational opportunities. And it is such considerations that have prompted politicians like cabinet ministers William ole Ntimama and Francis Lotodo to urge their ethnic communities to ignore government-promoted family planning programmes so that they can catch up with other Kenyans in competition for the national cake.
Daily Nation 8 July 1998 ID cards fee revised By NATION Reporter The Government has announced new fees for the registration of persons and renewal of identity cards. This follows amendments to some rules of the Registration of Persons Act by Minister Marsden Madoka in a legal notice published in the Kenya Gazette of July 1. Kenyans attaining age 18 will pay Sh50 to acquire a new ID. A person who wishes to renew a mutilated identity card will be required to pay Sh100. The same fee applies to a person who changes names or residence. The fee to acquire a new identity card for a registered person who lost one has now been increased by Sh100 from Sh200.
Daily Nation Letters Wednesday, January 19, 2000 Why this discrimination? NEP (North Eastern Province) or as many still prefer to call it, the Northern Frontier District (NFD), is a living example of the neglect, suppression and oppression that was inflicted on it by the colonial government as well as the successive independence or ruling regimes. It is a place with poor infrastructure, scarce and underdeveloped social amenities. It is a place administrators arbitrarily impose emergency laws to harass civilians. A good example is the 1980 curfew imposed on Garissa district. Innocent civilians were arrested and tortured by the same government that is supposed to safeguard their rights. Another area where the people of the province are sidelined is when it comes to the issue of identity. They are screened and even forced to carry an extra ID card called screening card. Why is this happening to us alone while other communities settled along the borders like Samia, Teso or the Masaai are not screened? What is all this national discrimination? But one can be consoled or at least we have seen light at the end of the tunnel because our parliamentarians who usually have no political goal, have tried to raise the issue in parliament. Thanks to them. Fellow Kenyans, when we talk of the truth history tells us that every tribe in this country must have migrated into Kenya, either from the Congo, the Horn of Africa or the Bah-el-ghazl in South Sudan. So let us not make the people of the northern province try to change any oppressive statutes through the participation of the on-going constitutional review process and let us determine and re-examine our future in this new millennium. Ali A. Alishube, University student, Uganda
Daily Nation (Niarobi) Commentary 2 June 2000 Kenya a majimbo state in everything but name By KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA If you just reached the age of majority and are anxious to be treated as an adult Kenyan, welcome to the world. You may be surprised at how all the nationalistic hogwash being mouthed everywhere is reduced to zero when you are suddenly forced to discover your tribe, clan and another classification of you that translates into the English equivalent of "door". To get a national identity card – that magic badge that allows you to walk around after dark and opens doors to college, employment, passports and nightclubs – you need details of your origin that a birth certificate cannot provide. These are the kind of details that require you to make a trip to your cradle and pay homage to your "ancestral" chief – after all, you need to know his full names and those of his assistant. In all fairness, it is perhaps one of the sensible ways of making sure some Congolese do not start saying they are of Pokot parentage and stake a claim to our national potholes, poverty and corruption. But this national amusement with the place of origin is hardly a joke that ends on a light note. The national ID, once issued, is a millstone that ties every Kenyan to their place of birth. Together with one's distinctive tribal names, the details on the national ID fling open doors of discrimination on the basis of tribe and place of birth, and give no reparatory benefit for the violation of privacy they perpetrate. One day, they could determine where one can vote. I have no immediate plans of getting my name onto the national List of Shame. So this week, I put a young relative on a bus to the village so that she can pick up Higher Education Loans Board forms from her district. The education officer at Nyayo House, Nairobi, looked at her ID just once and shook his head. He and education officials elsewhere are under strict instructions to issue loan application forms only to university entrants born in their areas of jurisdiction. If the applicants have bought a new home and shifted, or been displaced by clashes, is a small matter the government is indifferent to in its great quest for fair distribution of resources, district by district. It happens with everything else, apparently. Joining the army police, mass communication, teacher training and medical training colleges requires one to go back to their "home" district. If a riot breaks out at the university and you have to cool your heels at home for 14 weeks, look to your chief –. Equitable distribution of resources and opportunities, it is called. There is so much prudence, with everybody ever so careful not to please one tribe or region at the expense of offending another, that regionalism is now an unwritten official policy. A sacked minister is replaced with an MP from his own tribe, his rival preferably. The same goes for Permanent Secretaries, parastatal heads and even university professors. It is all a big cauldron for boiling mediocrity and provincialism in the name of fairness. There is a great awareness of ethnic balance in this country, giving a district to the Abagusii here and another to the Marakwet; creating one for the Mbeere and yet another for the Abasuba. And all this when we are a happy unitary state – if only in name. There seems to be a consensus in Kenya that we should be proud of who we are, tribes and all. So, why the pretence? Even with all these sensitivities to regions and tribes, we do not seem to address the issues of bread and butter, life and death, with the same sense of fairness. There is a lovely road that runs from Marwa to Nyeri Town that would be perfect if the gullies on it were filled and tarmacked. It has been lying in its abandoned state for the last three years. To travel to Turkana and to North Eastern Province, one needs police escort all the way. In many parts of this country, children are still dying of immunisable diseases. As people in Nairobi moon over their inability to shuttle between four television stations because of power cuts, some villagers are just learning that the hours of day can be extended by the use of paraffin. Is it surprising, therefore, that a Cabinet Minister goes on like a stuck record about majimbo? If you think about the penury, disease and illiteracy people at the Coast have to wade through before the rest of Kenya begins to notice them, you might actually realise why majimbo is an obsession for Nassir. Mr Nassir has ready allies in the Cabinet, notably William ole Ntimama and Julius ole Sunkuli, and this sympathy is spreading. Even the seemingly radical National Convention Executive Council and the National Development Party's Otieno Kajwang are sympathetic to majimbo. The calls for majimbo are, perhaps, attempts to come to terms with the contradictions inherent in Kenya. The biggest handicap for the majimbo and federal option for Kenya is that it has inarticulate proponents who are just difficult to like because of the noises they make. Some of the arguments posed for federating are definitely illiterate. Many politicians have proposed majimbo from a spoiler's standpoint. Majimbo, for them, is a threat to castrate the national leadership before it is passed on to tribes some of us think are not fit to rule over us. I, too, would have a problem with being ruled by a tribe, even if it was mine. On the other hand, those who would have us live under this pretended unitarianism fear the option of majimbo may just unleash a horde of local goatherds on us as regional heads of government. Everybody talks about the economic viability of majimbo but no one has even suggested that running under a federal system is having a secession, Eritrea-Ethiopia style. The grand vision of the unitary government notwithstanding, it must be acknowledged that this system is proving incapable of being fair and just to every Kenyan. In some places, there are historical grudges over denied opportunities and punishments for not voting right. The current wave of ethnic suspicion is not going to be wished away. Maybe there can be legislation that outlaws discrimination on the basis of tribe – not the generic one that talks about race and sex. And maybe that kind of law may just be overlooked like the Highway Code. The centralised system of government is great, if that is what Kenyans choose. It works okay in Britain with counties being allowed a slice of the local action, running constabularies instead of a national police force, water and power distributed at a local level. What our councils and district administrations are pretending to be doing right now can be handled by one entity. Majimbo can be de-horned by changing the principle point of reference from the tribe to geographical regions such as the provinces we are all now used to. Even in this awareness, we need to make certain that this country remains one by setting down universall-acceptable rules that guarantee the absolute free movement of labour and capital even as we hide in our ethnic bigotry. It is time to let the majimbo genie out of the bottle and deal with it once and for all.
Daily Nation February 22, 2001 Rights activists allege bias in issuance of IDs By NATION Correspondent Muslims in Kakamega are being frustrated before being issued with ID cards, says a rights lobby. The Kenya Medical Association Committee on Human Rights yesterday wondered why Muslims were being screened before being issued with the cards. The lobby's secretary, Dr Amin A. Sheikh, said: "This is psychological torture to these young Kenyans, who are being told to come with both parents and many documents before their cards are processed," Dr Sheikh said. He added that the requirements for getting an ID card must be standard and applicable to all Kenyans without discrimination. The registration of voters might be adversely affected if youths were not allowed to obtain ID cards freely. Dr Sheikh said that the committee had already launched the protest to the head of the civil service, Dr Richard Leakey and the Principal registrar, but to date no replies have been received. "We are appealing to Dr Leakey to intervene so that all Kenyans who qualified to get Identity cards are not subjected to torture by demanding documents which are irrelevant", he said
Daily Nation 27 Feb 2001 IDs Will Be Issued, Says Registrar Nairobi All willing and eligible applicants will be issued with identity cards, the Principal Registrar of Persons said yesterday. Mr Wellington P. Godo said his department - which has recently come under heavy criticism from politicians and the Electoral Commission of Kenya - has the ability and resources to undertake the job. The unit, which has more than 500,000 uncollected IDs will "avail the cards at chief's centres countrywide for quicker and convenient collection," he said. "No fees will be charged for this service, and we expect about 68 per cent of the cards to be delivered in this manner," he added. A more efficient filing system has also been established in registration centres in urban areas "to allow for expeditious retrieval of processed IDs," he said. This system covers Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Nyeri, Eldoret, Thika, Kakamega and Kericho, he said. Mr Godo expects the remaining 32 per cent to be delivered in this manner. "People who applied for cards in these urban areas should collect them at the centres where they registered," he said. The National Registration Bureau was also bringing services closer to the people through mobile registration programmes, he said. Mr Godo was speaking at a press conference at his Nairobi offices. Leader of the Official Opposition Mwai Kibaki over the weekend claimed the Government was deliberately sabotaging voter registration by failing to issue IDs. He said 3.5 million Kenyans would be locked out of the next general elections for lack of IDs. ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu on Friday criticised the Bureau's district offices for being in inefficient. He said the department was frustrating the current voter registration exercise which, although it was about to end, had only realised 18 per cent of the targeted one million voters. Mr Godo it should not take more than two weeks for fresh Nairobi applicants to get IDs, while the duration would be three to four weeks for people applying in the rural areas. He said extra care had to be taken to ensure that aliens and illegal immigrants did not obtain IDs. He added that 14.5 million IDs had been issued since 1977/78.
Daily Nation 17 June 1998 NGOs launch report on General Election Jeff Otieno Nairobi Three non-governmental organisations yesterday launched a report on last year's General Election. The report, 1997 General Election in Kenya, was launched by the Institute for Education in Democracy, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, and the National Council of Churches of Kenya at a Nairobi hotel. The NCCK General-Secretary, the Rev Mutava Musyimi, urged Kenyans to be committed to democratic ideals. He told the Government to resolve the resurgent ethnic violence, the constitutional reforms question, and the Moi succession. "We must reiterate that it is the duty of the Government to ensure that citizens enjoy their rights to association, movement, expression of political opinion, including free electoral choice," he said. On the Moi succession, the Rev Musyimi said: "While the current constitutional framework is clear on this matter, it is, however, incumbent on the current leadership to adhere to constitutional provisions to guarantee a smooth and tranquil transition." The Rev Musyimi took issue with the political parties, saying most of them relied almost entirely on patronage and that none of them had an independent base, a clear ideological identity or a firm policy foundation. On the overall administration of the elections, the 260-page document says the level of confusion and maladministration on behalf of the Electoral Commission generated a crisis of confidence in the electoral process among Kenyans. The report blames maladministration for the low voter turnout in parts of the country. "It was also observed that active rejection by some political parties and levels of apathy among some sections of the population as well as the burning of voter cards by some persons resulted in low registration levels in some areas," says the report. It adds that the problems were compounded by the fact that voter registration takes place during a designated period. The report says the structure of the electoral constituencies is a matter of concern. "The significant variation in the demographic size of many constituencies violates the principle of equality of the vote." The three NGOs welcomed the legal, constitutional, and administration reforms introduced by the Inter-Party Parliamentary Group prior to the General Election. But the report says the changes were introduced late and had limited benefit for purposes of the elections. It criticises the KBC for biased coverage. "State media remained heavily biased in favour of Kanu. Such a situation should not have occurred at these elections and must not be repeated in future." It accuses Kanu of vote-buying and bribery. It names Sirisia, Bumula, Kitui, Makueni, Machakos, Meru, and Mathioya as some of the areas were bribery and vote-buying by Kanu operatives featured prominently. -- Copyright © 2001 The Nation.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights Examination of State Reports 9th session, March 1991 Rwanda SUMMARY OF THE EXAMINATION OF THE STATE REPORT OF RWANDA Commissioner Nguema, the Special Rapporteur for the report of Rwanda, was of the opinion that the system of quotas according to ethnic groups could be described as racial discrimination, I wish to refer you to measures that have been adopted recently, I have obtained this information through the media, with the usual reservations, of course. It has been decided in Rwanda to delete the mention of tribal origin on the ID card. This has been the measure taken to delete that, on the national ID cards originally, there was a space for tribal origin so that henceforth there would be no mention of tribal origin on the ID cards and such would gradually lead to the abandonment of certain practices and allow the country to drift away from such a situation.
Independent (London) 7 July 1994 "Identity card was passport to death", By Richard Dowden, A passport to life, or death - the Rwandan identity card can be either, writes Richard Dowden. In the picture (left) [photograph omitted] you can see that the first line of information below the photographs denotes ethnicity - Hutu, Tutsi, Twa or naturalised Rwandan citizen. When the Hutu militias, the gangs of killers, began their genocidal massacres of Tutsis in April, they needed only to ask for identity cards to decide who lived and who were chopped or speared to death. Like Protais Gahigi, a 38-year-old Tutsi man with five children who were all murdered in the church at a Spanish mission at Musha in eastern Rwanda. The card was picked up recently by Carlos Mavrolean, a cameraman for the American Broadcasting Corporation. He said it was lying on the floor, not far from the altar. Among the splin- tered pews and scraps of clothing on the floor were three unex- ploded grenades and a discarded machete. The blood on the card was still sticky. The bottom card was lying outside the customs shed at Rusumo, on the border with Tanzania. Mugema, a 20- year-old Hutu peasant, was one of hundreds of thousands of Hutus fleeing the rebel army. It would have helped him through the roadblocks set up by his fellow Hutus but Mugema was probably one of those who threw away his card to try to conceal his ethnic identity as the mainly Tutsi rebels closed in, fearing they would seek revenge.
Internews May 3, 2000 ACCUSED ISSUED FAKE IDENTITY CARDS TO MINORITY TUTSI ARUSHA, Tanzania. . The sixth witness for the defense in the case against former mayor of Mabanza commune in Kibuye, Western Rwanda, testified on Tuesday. Bagilishema, 44, is charged on seven counts, which include genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and various violations of the Geneva Conventions. The accused served as mayor of Mabanza commune from 1980 until July 1994, when he fled the country. Prosecutors allege that using his position in the community, Bagilishema helped organize, incite and direct the slaughter of thousands of Tutsis. The witness, a Hutu man known only as "Z.D.," told the court that contrary to the prosecution's allegations, Bagilishema made many efforts to help secure Tutsis. "There were Tutsis who were hiding in his house, Tutsi women," witness Z.D. said. "I heard it said of him that he was doing that. He also distributed false ID cards indicating Hutu tribe for Tutsis to help them cross the road blocks and flee," he said. The witness also told the court that RPF radio station Muhabura aired a broadcast in which they "thanked the bourgomestre (mayor) of Mabanza for the manner in which he had behaved to control the situation and help people." The rest of Z.D.'s testimony and cross-examination was heard in a closed session because of concerns that the information given could compromise the security and identity of the witness. The court next heard the seventh defense witness, this time entirely in open session. Witness "Z.J.," another Hutu man living in exile, told the court how Bagilishema issued a circular to churches soliciting for food and support for Tutsi refugees camping at the communal office. He also said that the refugees were allowed to leave the office area to their homes to collect foodstuffs. Several Tutsi survivors who came in as prosecution witnesses said Bagilishema did nothing to provide food for them. They also said that communal police were directed to confine them to the commune premises and not allow them to leave. Z.J. told the court of efforts by the communal police to stop Hutus from the northern commune of Rutsiru (Abakiga) from attacking Tutsi and looting. "They came in waves ... there were many of them. It was total chaos ... the police and traders fought them off," he said. However, the witness said that the arrival of two officers of the national "gendarmerie" (para military police) changed the situation. "The communal police wanted to prevent the Abakiga from looting while the gendarmes wanted the Abakiga to loot," Z.J. said. The witness said there were several instances in which the gendarmes appeared to side with the attackers. The testimony goes to the heart of prosecution allegations that Bagilishema encouraged the forces under his control, mainly the communal police, counselors and other commune officials to kill Tutsi. The image being created by the defense, on the contrary, is of a man who did his best with the resources he had to contain a situation that was advocated and sponsored by officials of higher authority than himself. The trial will continue tomorrow with the testimony of the eighth defense witness, an unprotected witness who will be heard in an open session. The court is sitting in the presence of Judge Erik Mose (Norway), presiding; judges Mehmet Guney (Turkey) and Asoka Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) flank him. Mary Kimani
21 September, 2000, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK Rwanda 'healing genocide scars' The head of an official Rwandan organisation set up to help rebuild society after the genocide of 1994, says real progress is being made. Aloysy Inyumba, executive secretary of the National Commission for Unity and Reconciliation, said more than three-and-a-half million returning Rwandans had been re-settled and reintegrated into communes around the country. Speaking in a BBC interview, she said that, for the first time, Rwandans' identity cards now no longer stated their ethnic group. She acknowledged that Rwanda's justice system was in crisis, but said she was very hopeful about the future.
nternews (Arusha) June 26, 2001 Witness Breaks Down During Testimony in 'Media Trial' Mary Kimani Arusha A prosecution witness in the so-called "Media Trial" today broke down as she narrated to judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) how Interahamwe militiamen almost killed her during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The Interahamwe were allied to the then ruling party, the Movement for the Republic for National Development (MRND). The witness -- identified only as "AEU" -- broke down as she described how she was forced to watch people being killed and dumped in a hole at a place called Kaburini in a commune nicknamed 'Rouge.' She said Hassan Ngeze, one of the defendants in the Media Trial, together with another man named Hassan Gatoki and several militiamen, extorted money from her to ensure her safety and that of her children. AEU is testifying against Ngeze, owner and former editor of an alleged extremist Rwandan newspaper, 'Kangura.' Ngeze is jointly tried with Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, both founding members of the Radio Television Libre Des Mille Collines (RTLM). All three have denied using their respective media to incite ethnic Hutu to kill ethnic Tutsi. Ngeze is additionally charged with personal involvement in the militia's massacre activities, including the murder of at least one person. AEU said prior to the genocide, Ngeze established a system through which people could be identified as Hutu or Tutsi, regardless of the ethnic community stated in their identity cards. Ngeze's system, AEU said involved militiamen inserting two fingers into the nose of someone suspected to be Tutsi. If the fingers fitted the nose, the militiamen declared the person Hutu. If the fingers did not fit, the person was declared Tutsi. This is based on the stereotype that the Hutu are stocky and have wide noses while the Tutsi are tall and have pointed noses. AEU told the court although her ID stated was Hutu; she failed the test as she had a narrow nose. She claimed that Ngeze and Gatoki knew she was Tutsi and extorted 300 US Dollars per child with a 'Hutu nose' and 700 US Dollars for herself. She said Ngeze and Gatoki promised her safe passage across the border to former Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) on condition that she pays them 1000 US Dollars. However, when Gatoki tried to escort her to the border, AEU claims she was arrested by militiamen at a roadblock and taken back "to be killed." She said the militiamen beat her up so badly, they left her for the dead, with blood all over her body. Defense attorneys will cross-examine AEU tomorrow. Meanwhile, John Floyd of the US, counsel for Ngeze, asked the court to direct the prosecution to reveal the contents of their discussion with a witness -- identified only as AAW-- who declined to testify yesterday. Stephen Rapp of the United States, prosecution representative, told the court yesterday that AAW refused to testify, claiming that after deep prayer he realized that some information on his witness statement "were lies." Floyd asked the court to direct Rapp to reveal the false information in AAW's statement saying that such information was "exculpatory material" and the prosecution was "under obligation to reveal it." In response, Rapp said that the discussion did not touch on the contents of the whole testimony and that AAW told the prosecutors that the allegation of the murder of a certain Tabaro and his children "was a lie." After AAW refused to testify, Rapp said, he realized that the witness' new position differed significantly from the statement. Rapp said he is now unwilling to call AAW to take the stand. Judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding) directed Floyd to make further enquiries out of court and only seek the court's assistance if he encounters any difficulty. The matter is before Trial Chamber I of the ICTR, comprising Judges Pillay, Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka De Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka.
Internews (Arusha) 29 June 2001 Former Investigator Pleads Not Guilty to Genocide by Sukhdev Chhatbar. Simeon Nshamihigo, former defense investigator at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), today pleaded not guilty to three counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Nshamihigo, 42, pleaded not guilty to all the counts before Judge Erik Mose of Norway. He allegedly committed the crimes between April and July 1994 during the genocide in Rwanda. The former investigator, who for three years went under the assumed name of Sammy Bahati Weza, worked in the defense team of genocide suspect Samuel Imanishimwe, whose trial is currently in progress before the ICTR. Imanishimwe, former commander of Cyangugu barracks, is jointly tried with Andre Ntagerura, former transport minister; and Emmanuel Bagambiki, former governor of Cyangugu, in the "Cyangugu Trial." During today's proceedings, Holo Makwaia of Tanzania, prosecution representative, alleged that Nshamihigo was responsible for killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to hundreds of ethnic Tutsi between 6 April and 17 July 1994. Nshamihigo was deputy prosecutor in Cyangugu Prefecture during the genocide. The prosecution has alleged that he organized and participated in a campaign to exterminate the Tutsi in his prefecture. "The campaign consisted of compiling lists of influential Tutsi and members of the political opposition and identifying persons to be killed on the basis of such lists," the prosecution alleged. Nshamihigo is accused of collaborating with and escorting Bagambiki and Imanishimwe to killing sites in Kamarampaka Stadium in the prefecture. He allegedly supervised the forced transfer of refugees from Cyangugu Cathedral to the stadium, where they were killed by militiamen, the prosecution claims. According to the prosecution, Nshamihigo supervised roadblocks in Cyangugu town, delivered weapons to kill the Tutsi and, at times, provided names of persons to be killed. "Sometime between 28 and 30 April 1994, Nshamihigo ordered the killing of the accountant of the prefecture [Cyangugu], a Tutsi who had managed to obtain a Hutu identification card," the indictment reads. Nshamihigo was arrested on 19 May in Arusha over immigration irregularities. Tanzanian police held him for being in the country illegally and for holding two fake Congolese passports. The passports were in the Nshamihigo's assumed name, Weza. On 25 May, the Tanzanian authorities dropped the charges against Nshamihigo and handed him over to the tribunal, following a request from Carla Del Ponte, ICTR Chief Prosecutor.
South Africa Boston Globe 15 Oct 2001 Polaroid Blazed Trails in Workplace, Human Resources Specialists Recall By Diane E. Lewis, Oct. 14--Polaroid Corp. wasn't just a pioneer in photography. Human resource specialists -- including some who worked there -- also remembered the Cambridge company as a corporate trailblazer that was among the first to offer its employees work-family, domestic violence, and education benefits. "Using company time and company money, Polaroid provided training for its workers," recalled Henry Morgan, who served as the company's HR director from 1968 to 1972. "Programs that stressed self education and encouraged individuals to take responsibility for themselves were plentiful at Polaroid.... It encouraged an atmosphere where people were free to do and create -- a most unusual thing." But the company, whose employee-driven culture landed it in the 1993 book "The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America," fell on hard times in recent years, which ended with its bankruptcy filing last week. As digital imaging and one-hour film development began eroding sales, Polaroid began eliminating some of the benefits that had burnished its image. In recent weeks retirees have faced steep cuts in their pension and health benefits and newly laid-off workers have been let go without a severance package. Even so, Morgan and others in the human resources and work-life benefits arena, have not forgotten Polaroid's past as an employer of note. Sandra Waddock, a management professor and a senior research fellow at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, recalled that the company was instrumental in getting other firms in Massachusetts to develop programs that offered battered female workers a link to the region's family shelters. "They really fostered the knowledge that domestic abuse was an employee matter and that employers ought to be involved," said Waddock, who noted that the company still ranks high on a list of the 100 best corporate citizens, published by the Minneapolis-based Business Ethics magazine. She added that Polaroid's founder, Edwin Land, "had a tremendous vision that was shared with employees throughout the company. It was one of the first to recognize the importance of diversity, and one of the first to think about the role it was playing in South Africa." But on at least one occasion it was two of the company's workers who prodded it to do the right thing. On Oct. 5, 1970, an African-American photographer named Ken Williams who worked for Polaroid in Cambridge noticed his employer's equipment was being used to make the passbooks and identification cards that monitored the whereabouts of over 21 million South African blacks. Within days, Williams and an African-American chemist named Caroline Hunter had formed the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement. They organized a protest outside the firm's Technology Square headquarters and demanded the company sever ties with South Africa. The protest put Polaroid in the spotlight. "Polaroid, with its liberal image, and the fact that [Land] was regarded as a progressive figure, made the whole thing especially poignant," Willard Johnson, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the Globe in a 1990 interview. "In the end, Polaroid decided to pull out" of South Africa. Afghanistan Tribune (Chandigarh) 28 June 2001 Taliban denies change in decision Islamabad, June 28 A Taliban official said today there had been no change in the decision that Afghanistan’s Hindu nationals should wear a yellow mark to distinguish them from the country’s Muslim majority, according to the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP). Information Ministry official Abdul Hannan Himmat told the Pakistan-based private news agency from Kabul that no formal order had been issued to implement the decision. Himmat was commenting on a report by the Islamabad newspaper The News that two Pakistani diplomats had persuaded the Islamic Taliban to change the decision because of the adverse international reaction to it. Himmat was also unaware of any move to replace the distinguishing yellow mark with a special ID card as reported by The News.
BBC 22 Nov 2001, Zimbabwe to get tough on ID cards Police prevented a rally in Harare on Wednesday The Zimbabwean Government has announced plans to introduce legislation allowing it to jail or fine people who move about without identity cards. The projected legislation, reported by the official Herald newspaper, is the latest in a string of restrictions which critics say are designed to hamper the political opposition ahead of presidential elections early next year. Four years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that such a measure would be unconstitutional, but the paper quoted the government as saying it was designed to combat increasing crime and terrorism. It has recently accused the opposition of carrying out acts of terrorism. On Wednesday, the government said it would introduce tough new security laws making a wide range of offences punishable with life imprisonment or death. Bulawayo clashes Political violence has erupted again in the volatile townships of Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo between supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Last night two houses belonging to MDC officials were burnt and the occupants were severely beaten by a mob. Several other houses of suspected opposition supporters were stoned by the mob forcing many residents to flee to other areas of the city. Violence erupted in Bulawayo last week after a war veterans leader, Cain Nkala, was killed. Arrests Meanwhile civil rights campaigners say the police arrested and detained 35 people trying to demonstrate against changes to electoral laws on Wednesday in the capital, Herare. Cain Nkala's killing inflamed tensions in Bulawayo The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) had planned to march on parliament on Wednesday, accusing President Robert Mugabe's government of trying to take away democratic rights by introducing new arrangements for next year's presidential election. They say the arrests took place in Harare's city centre on Wednesday afternoon as heavily armed riot police easily dispersed a small crowd gathered for the protest action. The NCA, a coalition of trade unions, church groups and human rights organisations are also opposed to plans to stop pressure groups from taking part in voter education and election monitoring and making the government's sponsored electoral commission the sole authority instead. NCA spokesman Douglas Mwonza said 18 of those arrested are their members. Police have confirmed the detention of 17 people belonging to the NCA.
A Case of Mistaken Identity: Antihaitianismo in Dominican Culture, by Ernesto Sagás For over a century and a half, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have shared the island of Hispaniola. Their relationship, however, has rarely been amicable. In the Dominican Republic, this antagonism has led to the creation of a set of anti-Haitian prejudices called antihaitianismo. Antihaitianismo is actually the present manifestation of the long-term evolution of racial prejudice, the selective interpretation of historical facts, and the creation of a nationalist Dominican false consciousness. That process, of course, did not take place spontaneously. It was orchestrated by powerful elite groups in the Dominican Republic with strong interests to defend. The Origins of Antihaitianismo :" In order to perpetuate this false consciousness, the Dominican government has institutionalized many of the racist elements of Dominican culture. For example, the word indio is commonly used to describe the great majority of Dominican mulattoes. The Dominican government uses indio as a skin color descriptor in the national identity card that every adult Dominican must have. That way, indio is no longer a slang term, but an official racial category, accepted and used by the Dominican government for identification and classification purposes. Most Dominicans fall within the indio category. Those with a darker skin tone are labeled moreno, but actually very few Dominicans are labeled black, due to the term's pejorative connotations. "
Nonviolent Activist January 1997 Unearthing Guatemala’s Disappeared By Grahame Russell Doña Gloria's son Tomas The night of Sept. 10, 1981 The Forensic Anthropology Team Solo Dios sabe donde esta Now, finally, we are less afraid To see the bones . . . is no small thing Doña Gloria's son Tomas About twenty years ago, (she doesn’t remember exactly when) Doña Gloria de Leon Garcia came here to the Peten department in northern Guatemala. From south of Lake Izabal, she and her family came looking for a piece of land, a life. They found it, for a while. Then, "some time ago" Gloria’s husband died of natural causes, por muerte de Dios. But there was no "death by God" for her son. Today, she is looking for his body in a mass grave, a clandestine cemetery being dug up by the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Team 15 years after he was "disappeared" by 10 masked soldiers. Tomas Leon, her eldest, was born in the village of El Monaco, township of Los Amates, Izabal, on September 18, 1960, as proven by his identity card that Doña Gloria still keeps,the only photo she has of him. His identity card says he was a labrador (dayworker). It reads "¿Sabe Leer?" ("Know how to read?"), and, typed in the space provided, "No." "Know how to write?" "No."
Rio Negro - On February 13, 1982, community members were told to bring their identification cards to the neighboring village of Xococ, which by then had been turned into a civil patrol outpost. Seventy-four villagers who went never returned. They were massacred and buried in a clandestine cemetery.
Omaid Weekly 1 May 2000, issue #419, Taliban foster police state with national ID card April 27, Kabul (Omaid): According to Afghanistan-based Payam-e-Mujahid newspaper, the Taliban have decreed the creation of a new identification card for Afghanistan's estimated 15 million citizens, a large number of whom live under Taliban sway. The militia's so-called interior ministry will charge a fee of 50,000 Afghanis per card. There is a three-fold purpose for this move, reports Payam-e-Mujahid. The fee for the card, while insignificant vis-à-vis the Afghani-US dollar exchange rate, will nevertheless rake in revenue for the Taliban. Despite the militia's booming narcotics business, it is facing a serious financial crisis, partly due to Pakistan's fast-deteriorating economy. While the Taliban war machine is bankrolled by a number of groups, including international terrorist Osama bin Laden, father-in-law of Taliban leader Mulla Omar, the militia's main financier remains Pakistan's military intelligence arm, the Inter Services Intelligence directorate. Besides the all-too-obvious economic boon, the new card will also play a role in aiding the Taliban's failed political and military condition, and abetting the militia's ethnic cleansing campaign. The Taliban, Payam-e-Mujahid writes, have asked civilians in northern parts of the country -- mainly areas along Taliban-United Front frontlines -- to also identify their ethnicity. According to Payam-e-Mujahid, the identification of the ethnicity of travelers, already closely monitored, will be more easily facilitated by the new cards, and the number of ethnic-based arrests and imprisonments will likely increase in Taliban-occupied areas. For the past four years, the Taliban have pursued a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign throughout Afghanistan, targeting mainly non-Pashtun groups -- Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras -- but also a growing number of ethnic Pashtuns, who've become increasingly weary of militia rule and Pakistani hegemony. Pashtuns, who comprise a significant part of the militia's ranks -- a cadre that also includes large numbers of Pakistani Punjabis, Pathans and Sindhis, as well as many Arab militants, and other extremists from China, Burma, Bangladesh, and the Philippines -- have in recent months resisted Taliban recruitment efforts. The new cards, Payam-e-Mujahid believes, will help to identify fighting-age men in the southern and western provinces -- especially Uruzgan, Qandahar, Badghis and Helmand. Reports from inside the country indicate that young Pashtun Afghans in these provinces have either gone into hiding in their own provinces, to Kabul or other provinces, or outside the country to escape from fighting for the Taliban.
DPA TALIBAN DENIES CHANGE IN DECISION ON HINDUS (FP, July 1) Updated on 7/1/2001 1:18:15 PM Frontier post KABUL (Agencies): Taliban official has denied any change in decision on Afghan Hindus.According to reports a Taliban official on Saturday said there had been no change in the decision that Afghanistan's Hindu nationals should wear a yellow mark to distinguish themselves from the country's Muslim majority. Information Ministry official Abdul Hannan Himmat said that a private news agency from Kabul reported that no formal order had been issued to implement the decision. Himmat was commenting on a report appeared in Pakistani newspapers, and said that two Pakistani diplomats had persuaded the Taliban to change the decision because of the adverse international reaction to it. Himmat was also unaware of any move to replace the distinguishing yellow mark with a special ID card. I
Reuters 20 Aug [ ] Cambodia finally passes nationality law Reuters News 20 Aug 7:44 PHNOM PENH, Aug 20 (Reuter) - Cambodian legislators on Tuesday passed a nationality law that is crucial for the holding of elections and could affect the status of minority groups. Senior parliamentarian Son Soubert said passage of the law, which decides who can hold Cambodian citizenship, was vital. ``Otherwise we cannot discuss the electoral law...(and) the immigration law cannot be applied totally,'' he told Reuters. The government has said all laws will be in place by the end of the year for the holding of local elections due in 1997 and general elections in 1998. Son Soubert tried to dismiss fears that the government would use the immigration and nationality laws to expel tens of thousands of ethnic Vietnamese and other minority groups. He said King Norodom Sihanouk had guaranteed that all those who could prove residence in Cambodia before a 1970 coup that ousted him from power should be allowed to stay. Cambodia is home to around 100,000 ethnic Vietnamese, many of whom have been here for generations but fled persecution in the 1970s, often losing their documentation. Some legislators, including Son Chhay of the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP), were concerned about an article allowing foreigners to buy citizenship for $400,000. Businessmen from places such as Hong Kong, which reverts to China in 1997, will not have to meet residential qualifications necessary for others but must pass a language test. ``I'm worried that criminal people, people involved with the mafia and drug trafficking, will be willing to pay this money to use Cambodia as a scapegoat (for their crimes),'' Son Chhay told Reuters. Both Son Chhay and Son Soubert also said some foreign businessmen had improperly bought Cambodian identification under the previous government that let them buy property, but their status would be clarified under the new legislation. If the law was fully implemented, ``there's going to be quite a large number of these people jailed,'' Son Chhay said. Son Soubert said most of Tuesday's session was spent discussing penalties for those using forged Cambodian passports or identification cards. Legislators agreed to amend these articles to punish only foreigners using fake identification and hiked the proposed jail term to between five and 10 years from one to five years. The assembly had on Monday dropped one controversial article which said naturalised Cambodians could lose their citizenship if they violated the constitution or other laws. The law was tabled in June but parliamentarians had failed to complete debate when the National Assembly's three-month session ended in July. An extraordinary session was convened last week to finish the work.
Hong Kong Standard, 2 June 1997 BEJING ORDERS CRACKDOWN ON MINORITIES BEFORE 1 JULY By Fong Tak-ho Beijing has ordered a nationwide crackdown agaiast ethnic minorities in a bid to prevent violent attacks by Xmjiang secessionists during the handover penod. Under the crackdown ethnic minorities throughout the country, especially those living in Guangdong, were to be repatriated to their rural hometowns, Chinese sources said. lt is understood the campaign will be conducted jinder the guise of a drive against the spread of illegal migrants. According to die central administration‘s policy, all residents without a resident‘s licence, work permit or valid identity card are regarded as illegal residents. Most migrants from Xinjiang living in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen fall foul of these requirements, sources say. The crackdown came after secessionists in the restive Xinjiang province vowed to exact revenge for die deaths oftheir comrades in Februaiy riots and subsequent exedutions. A series ofbomb blasts rocked Beijing and die Xrnjiang capital ofUrumqi in February, leaving at least mne dead and dozens injured. Chinese President Jiang Zemin has laid down four priorities for security arrangements during the handover. Officials should look to ensure smoothness, stability, the safety of state leaders and an incident-free period, according to sources. To ensure a peaceful transition, all major leaders in the relevant central mimstnes and regional governments are working round-the-clock to prepare thorough security arrangements. A hotline between departments in all major cities has been set up to ensure speedy communication in case of emergency. A Communist Partyofflcial in Xinjiang said security forces were preparing for secessionist attacks during the handover. He said all officials in the region had cancelled holidays over the handover period. lt is understood that security operations in southern border areas have also been pushed up a gear to stave off possible attacks. All military forces and police have cancelled leave until die handover celebrations are over.
Peoples Daily 28/09/1999, updated at 16:00 Full Text of White Paper on Minorities Policy (II)
Reuters 30 Aug 1999 Xinjiang bristles under Chinese rule By Bill Savadov Urumqi, China, - The desire for a separate state is alive and kicking in China's remote western region of Xinjiang, though a security crackdown has curbed violent protests against Chinese rule. From the capital of Urumqi and the central city of Korla, to the ancient oasis of Khotan in the south and Kashgar in the west, residents point to uneasy relations between the ruling Chinese and the ethnic Uighur minority. "Everyone wants independence but it is impossible," says a 24-year-old goldsmith as he heads to evening prayers at a mosque in Urumqi. "There is no way." The Turkic-speaking Uighurs is Moslem and make up around 47 percent of the region's 17 million people. Chinese officials say the number involved in separatist activities is small. Authorities are trying to bring the ethnic minorities into the fold with concrete improvements in living standards. "This small number of people engaged in separatism does not represent any ethnic group," said Xinjiang government chairman Abulahat Abdurixit. "We have cracked down severely on these activities. There have been big improvements in people's lives. The leadership of the Communist Party has given us today's Xinjiang so most minorities do not engage in separatism, they oppose it he said." Amnesty cites rights violations Human rights group Amnesty International said China's crackdown had been marked by "gross violations" of human rights, including arbitrary detentions and arrests, torture and executions for political crimes. In a report earlier this year, Amnesty said it had recorded 210 death sentences and 190 executions in the region since 1997, mostly of Uighurs convicted for subversion or terrorism. China jailed 18 people for up to 15 years last month for separatist activities. It recently detained prominent Uighur businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, whose activist husband lives in the United States, as she tried to meet a group of visiting Americans. Despite pledges of religious freedom, the government has also seized religious materials -- some in Arabic -- and shut Koranic schools, especially those advocating more fundamentalist beliefs, officials and residents said. "We have relatively free, democratic and open religious policies and laws," said Liu Xinsheng, deputy governor of Khotan prefecture. "But there is a small group of people who do not feel satisfied." Local officials declined to give details of the crackdown, but they cited a handful of activities in the last few years that had threatened safety and stability. In February 1997, separatists tried to sabotage oilfield equipment at Donghetang in southern Xinjiang, officials said. A five member Islamic group planted a bomb at a brick factory in Khotan last year, and one worker suffered leg injuries in the explosion, they said. "These activities influence our lives and work and break the law," said Yao Yongfeng, party secretary of Kashgar prefecture. "We have increased the degree of the crackdown against violent separatists," he said. "From last year, the area has been very calm." Tight security evident Signs of tight security are evident across Xinjiang. Paramilitary guards with semi-automatic weapons stand at the entrances to government buildings in Urumqi. Vehicles entering and leaving Khotan face police checkpoints while in Kashgar, identity card inspections are frequent and plain-clothes police keep a watchful eye on mosques, residents said. "The Chinese leadership is thinking about whether to have a really hard-nosed policy keeping the minorities down or co-opting them. To create a situation where these minorities will actively join with the government in the development of this region," said Bruce Esposito, professor of East Asian history at the University of Hartford in the United States. "To me, the wild card in this is Islamic fundamentalism," he said. "If the Chinese become repressive in Xinjiang, it will take off." Religious materials, weapons and funds for Uighur separatists already flow into the region through bordering central Asian states with support believed to come from Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, analysts said. Xinjiang shares a 5,400-km (3,350-mile) border with eight countries, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The challenge to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party comes amid perceived moves towards independence by Tibet and Taiwan as well as Beijing's crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which held large-scale protests in July. Mixed feelings towards Chinese Even for Uighurs who do not advocate independence, feelings towards Chinese run from acceptance to indifference to hostility. Some said they faced discrimination in finding jobs and in dealings with officials. "I don't like Chinese," said a 23-year-old waitress at a roadside restaurant near Korla. "If a Chinese enters a house, my house, then he becomes master. Do you understand?" A 25-year-old Chinese man who lives in Khotan explains that he finds Uighur women beautiful but would never marry one. "It's impossible," he said. "The cultural difference is too great."
AP 4 June 2001 By Elaine Kurtenbach Hong Kong's chief executive praised China's leaders Monday as the most enlightened in the country's history, even as more than 20,000 people held a candlelight vigil to recall Beijing's military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square 12 years ago. A sea of flickering candles lit up Hong Kong's Victoria Park on Monday night as crowds sat on a grassy field and a soccer pitch around a stage bedecked with banners reading, "Educate the next generation, pass on the baton of democracy." Witnesses said more than 20,000 people were present, though organizers claimed there were more than 40,000. Police did not give a figure. ... Funeral wreaths at the park surrounded a 10-foot-tall monument that read: "Democracy martyrs shall never die," while black banners reading "End the one-party dictatorship," and "Reverse the verdict on June 4," fluttered in the air. The protesters called on Beijing to "end one-party rule" and sang patriotic songs. Six teen-agers ignited a torch on the stage, meant to symbolize that young people will continue fighting for a democratic China. The protest was organized by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which is branded as "subversive" by Beijing. "We want to let them (the teen-agers) understand the most vigorous event in the history of modern China, and that many lives have been sacrificed in the fight for democracy," said Szeto Wah, a lawmaker and chairman of the alliance. In Beijing, security was not noticeably increased in Tiananmen Square on Monday. Police vans usually in place to pick up protesters from the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement had withdrawn to the south of the giant plaza. Police occasionally checked bags and identification cards. Loudspeakers played patriotic songs interspersed with orders to visitors not to join in "inappropriate activities" in the square.
The Straits Times, FEB 15 1999 Laws 'still unfair' to ethnic Chinese Despite assurances, discriminatory policies in Indonesia are far from abolished, say human rights activists By SUSAN SIM INDONESIA CORRESPONDENT JAKARTA -- Institutional discrimination is still visible in Indonesia because the government has not removed its legal basis, human rights activists said as they took issue with President B. J. Habibie's recent statement that he has abolished all discriminatory policies here. "In many quarters, his statement would be seen as a misleading statement," National Human Rights Commission chairman Marzuki Darusman said. "Social discrimination is certainly visible here. I think in fact his statement brings out another dimension, which is whether or not we ourselves are a racist community. We have to address ourselves to this question more now than ever." The Habibie government, despite early pledges to dismantle a system of active discrimination against the eight million to 10 million ethnic Chinese, has done nothing, the deputy chairman of the ruling Golkar charged, adding: "The government just wants the problem to go away on its own. It has not ... laid the legal basis for getting rid of discriminatory policies." Officials say the inertia is as much symptomatic of Dr Habibie's administrative style -- he believes issuing a decree can resolve problems -- as the fact that the practices are a gold mine for the bureaucracy. For example, ethnic Chinese are required to obtain citizenship certificates before they can apply for identity cards even if they were born here and their lineage date back generations. The ID cards, issued free to any other Indonesian, is the lifeline to documents like a driving licence, passport, bank credits, university places and job interviews. The documentation process also requires layers of security screening and authentication, and commands hefty fees. "In 1978, I had to pay 300,000 rupiah to get my citizenship certificate authenticated so I can get an ID card," said lawyer Frans Winarta, who counts himself a seventh generation Indonesian. "You can imagine how many million rupiah we have to pay now for that certificate book. And each time we move house, we have to pay some more to record the change of address. When our children are 18, we have to go to court and get separate citizenship certificates for them." And although ID cards are no longer supposed to carry special identification codes for ethnic Chinese, officials have since devised a numbering system "so they can still tell", he said. The President did issue a decree last September instructing all officials to "end the usage of the term pribumi and non-pribumi" and provide equal treatment and service to all -- regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. Yet, not all ministers, much less lower-ranking officials, have seen the decree, campaigners say. Meanwhile, unwritten quotas in state universities and the civil service discourage ethnic Chinese from applying, Mr Winarta said. "These are the most difficult to combat because they are informal barriers to entry," he said, adding that getting unfair laws repealed was only the first step. "So long as the Chinese are considered foreigners here, there will be no peace."
Singapore Straits Times MAR 26 1999 Return of ethnic Chinese critical No large-scale foreign investments for Indonesia as long as they stay away, President Habibie now concedes By DERWIN PEREIRA IN JAKARTA PRESIDENT B.J. Habibie has conceded that large-scale foreign investment will return only if the ethnic Chinese put their money back into the country. In an interview in the latest edition of the Hongkong-based Asian Affairs journal, he also maintained that his administration was doing its best to alleviate the concerns of the battered Chinese-Indonesian community. "Let me say first that in my set of values, I make no difference between our people," he said. "The ethnic Chinese in Indonesia are Indonesian. There is no question about that." Asked whether he shared the views of financial analysts, who have concluded that there will be no large-scale foreign investments as long as the ethnic Chinese stayed away, he replied: "I agree." His comments appear to contradict earlier statements he made that the return of ethnic Chinese was not critical to the Indonesian economy. In an interview with the Washington Post last July, he had said: "If the Chinese community doesn't come back because they don't trust their own country and society, I cannot force, nobody can force them. "But do you think that we will then die? Their place will be taken over by others." Since last year's May riots, in which ethnic Chinese neighbourhoods and businesses were looted systematically, thousands of them have left the country. Political observers suggest that the softening of Mr Habibie's stance was largely a result of the continued precarious state of the economy and its political knock-on effect. During the interview, he assuaged concerns that his government was doing little to protect the 10 million Chinese Indonesians, highlighting efforts to eliminate state-sanctioned racial discrimination by removing special codes for ethnic Chinese on their identity cards. The government also passed a decree last September, instructing all officials to "end the usage of the term pribumi and non-pribumi" and to provide equal treatment and service to all. Said Dr Habibie: "Before, the Chinese descendants had the word 'Chinese' on their ID card. I find this disparaging. They are as Indonesian as I am. "I provoked a lot of protest, but so what? I had to do it. The point is that, the Chinese have been hijacked for political purposes and they have been misused by my predecessors and there are still people willing to misuse them." But Dr Habibie's critics charge that discrimination is still present, despite publicly declared policies against it. Another sore point for many is Jakarta's apparent "lax attitude" in its investigations to May's ethnic riots and the rapes against Indonesian-Chinese women. Responding to why it was taking so long for Jakarta to get to the bottom of things, he said: "I don't have a full picture of what happened. I am not sure we will have it before the election. What we have seen in May is not the face of Indonesia. We are still ascertaining what happened, who engineered it. We know it was engineered. That is all we know."
Asian Human Rights Commission AHRC Publications - Human Rights Solidarity - March 1999 Volume 9 No. 3 AHRC - Human Rights Solidarity - March 1999 Volume 9 No. 3 - Death Toll Rises in Religious Fighting -- INDONESIA Death Toll Rises in Religious Fighting Days of rioting among rival Christians and Muslims on the devastated Indonesian island of Ambon has claimed at least 50 lives. Among those killed is a soldier who was stabbed to death by rioters after they refused to hand over weapons. One of the latest batches of victims was five Muslim men who had been dragged from a truck at a Christian roadblock, hacked to death and their bodies set alight, with an outnumbered military patrol standing helplessly by. The unofficial death toll in the religious violence was put at more than 100. At least 20,000 locals on Ambon were sheltering at mosques, churches and police and military posts after an Indonesian military Hercules evacuated remaining foreigners to Ujung Pandang, on the island of Sulawesi. About 5,000 soldiers and police patrolled the smouldering remains of Ambon’s commercial and residential districts, trashed during days of fighting between Muslim and Christian mobs since 19 January 1999, but residents said armed gangs were still roaming back-streets and outlying villages. Fighting between the two religious groups has flared on Ambon and two other islands in eastern Indonesia. The lynching of the five Muslims came soon after Indonesia’s Armed Forces Commander General Wiranto toured the riot-torn capital of the Moluccas, once known as the Spice Islands, and issued shoot-on-sight orders against armed gangs and imposed a night-time curfew. Officials put the death toll at 52, but Christian and Muslim sources said the official toll counted only corpses brought to hospitals and that many bodies had been dumped into rivers and the sea. The Ambon police chief, Colonel Karyono, also conceded that many more victims might be uncovered from within the remains of burnt out buildings. A local aid organisation, Baileo, said it had already recorded 122 deaths and 145 people injured in the main city of Ambon, but continuing violence in surrounding villages meant the death toll would climb. "The situation is still very tense," a Baileo spokesman said. "People are too scared to leave their homes and we cannot go outside the town. In one area we cannot reach, at least 500 homes have been destroyed." Indonesian newspapers listed the extensive damage, which includes the main market, scores of shops and hundreds of homes and cars. However, in an effort to prevent fuelling the explosive religious tensions, they made no mention of the destruction of eight mosques and eight churches. Ordinary Indonesians are only too aware of the religious divisions and the terrible consequences for the nation if revenge attacks break out in other parts of the country. Reports from predominantly Christian Ambon identify most of the victims as Muslims. However, Indonesia is a majority Muslim nation, and this leaves religious minorities on the heavily populated Muslim-dominated islands of Java and Sumatra fearful of retaliation. Police have confirmed the killing of the five Muslims. The five were stopped at a roadblock in a predominantly Christian area, despite an escort of three armed soldiers. The mob manning the roadblock demanded identity cards, which show a person’s religion, and dragged the five from the truck. Soldiers fired warning shots, but the men were hacked to death on the road. "They threw their bodies into a gorge, poured gasoline over them and burned them," an Ambon police officer was quoted as saying. President B.J. Habibie announced Ambon was "under control" but one local resident contacted by telephone said: "The main streets are controlled by the soldiers, but the small streets and outside the city are still being patrolled by the gangs." Some rice was now available in the city centre, but much of the commercial district had been destroyed, he said. (Source: Sydney Morning Herald and Associated Press, 25 January 1999.)
Reuters 6 April 2000 Moslems vow to send jihad army to Indonesia islands JAKARTA, - Thousands of Moslems on Thursday vowed to send an army to Indonesia's ravaged Moluccas, or spice islands, this month to fight a holy war against Christians. Their leaders said if the government prevented them from entering, they would instead fight a jihad on the main island of Java. More than 5,000 Moslems, many armed with swords and daggers, crowded into a major Jakarta stadium for the meeting to mark the Moslem new year, a public holiday in Indonesia. Dressed in white Moslem robes and military boots the Moslems chanted "God is Great." Ayip Safruddin, head of the Communication Forum For Moslems, told reporters they hoped to raise an army of 10,000. "We hope to go to the Moluccas before the end of this month. Our target is 10,000," Ayip said. THOUSANDS KILLED Fighting between Christians and Moslems in the Moluccas over the past 14 months has killed thousands of people. The situation has largely been brought under control since March but there are still sporadic clashes. The government ordered a naval blockade of the islands to prevent weapons and would be fighters entering from other areas after a series of Moslem groups vowed to wage a holy war. Christians have accused Moslems of trying to wipe them out and called for international intervention. On the other hand, massacres of Moslems blamed on Christians have stirred deep passions elsewhere in the predominantly Moslem country of Indonesia. In January at least five people were killed on the tourist island of Lombok in anti-Christian riots prompted by the spice islands conflict. President Abdurrahman Wahid, a moderate Moslem cleric, came under fire when violence on the spice islands escalated in December after months of relative calm. Ayip said if the government stopped his forces entering the spice islands, they would wage war on the island of Java. "It is up to them to choose -- whether we wage jihad in the Moluccas or Java," said Ayip. Java is Indonesia's most heavily populated island and is where the capital Jakarta is located. While the majority of Java's 100 million people are Moslem, there are also large numbers of Christians and members of other religions. It also contains many nominal Moslems who do not practice the faith or who mix it with pre-Islamic beliefs. Indonesia requires its citizens to designate themselves as belonging to one of five officially accepted religions. Identity cards and other documents state what this religion is, making it easy for others to find out. In the violence in the Moluccas and elsewhere, fighters have frequently demanded to see the identity cards of strangers to find out their religion.
Jerusalem Post 27 Sept 2000 MKs discusses striking nationality from ID cards by Dan Izenberg. The Knesset Law Committee was packed with MKs and VIPs to hear Acting Interior Minister Haim Ramon's request to eliminate the "nationality" entry from government-issued identity cards. In addition to the unusually high number of committee members, Jewish Agency Chairman Sallai Meridor attended to argue against Ramon's request, while former Interior Minister Natan Sharansky (Yisrael Ba'aliya) was there to support it. The vote on Ramon's proposal will be held in the committee on October 3. According to Ramon, there are two reasons to abolish the nationality entry. The first is that no other country in the world registers its citizens by nationality. "The former Soviet Union used to have a nationality category, and it was used to discriminate against many nationalities, above all the Jews," said Ramon. "No enlightened country has this category," he said. Ramon added that the situation had become absurd. "There are 130 different nationality entries including a dash, "unknown," "no nationality," and "not yet registered," as well as more conventional entries such as "Cambodian," "Singaporian" and "Kurdish." "This is not a country of all its citizens," he said. "It is a country of all of its nationalities." At least 270,000 non-Jews from the former Soviet Union, who are Israeli citizens according to the Law of Return, are registered by nationality, such as Tartar, Moldavian, Byelorussian, and Estonian, continued Ramon. "Some of the discrimination is aimed at them." Ramon added that religious parties should be the first to support the move, because currently Interior Ministry registry officials must register anyone who has converted to Judaism abroad in a Reform or Conservative ceremony as a Jew in their identity cards. By abolishing the nationality entry, Israel would be spared some of the battle over whether the state should recognize non-Orthodox converts to Judaism as Jews, said Ramon. But Ramon stressed that he was not talking about abolishing the nationality entry from the population registry. The population registry includes far more details on every citizen than the identity card and its contents can only be changed by law. In opposing Ramon's request, Meridor emphasized the symbolic importance of the nationality entry, where Jewish Israelis are listed as Jews while Arabs, Druse and Circassians are listed according to their ethnic roots. "It would be wrong to make the change," he said. "The ID card is not just an identity card. It also defines [the group to which] each person belongs. Everyone here has two identities. He belongs to Israeli society and he belongs to Jewish or Arab society. That is one of the unique features of Israel. It is a state of all of its citizens, but not just its citizens. "We are building a state and that is difficult, and we are building a Jewish society and that is difficult. It is very hard to build, and very easy to destroy." Meridor rejected Ramon's argument that the nationality entry inevitably led to discrimination. "True equality is acceptance of the 'other,'" he said. "The true test is to give equality to the 'other.'" Sharansky poked fun at the government. "We better take advantage of the civil revolution’ which is available this week," he told the Knesset. "Who knows. Maybe next week the government will be offering a haredi revolution." Sharansky said he received his identity card, with the specification that he was Jewish, while still in Russia and had been extremely proud of it. "But I don't think that my Israeli identity is strengthened when a new immigrant presents his ID card to a hotel receptionist and feels ashamed because his nationality is listed as 'dash,'" Sharansky stressed, however, that he opposed changing the population registry. The Law Committee split along coalition lines during the subsequent debate, with Likud MKs and members of the three religious parties - NRP, Shas and United Torah Judaism - speaking out against.
AP 10 Sept 2001 Police: Suicide Bomber Was Israeli ABU SNAN, Israel (AP) — Many Israeli Arabs are deeply sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, but Muhammad Saker Habashi is the first suspected of taking the most extreme step. Police believe Habashi, 48, is the man who set off an explosive charge on his back Sunday near a crowded train station in the northern town of Nahariya. Habashi's blue Israeli identity card was found next to the shattered body. Sunday's attack, which killed three Israeli Jews and wounded many others, raised fears of violence on a new front — from the within the Jewish state. The violence of the past year, in which more than 600 Palestinians and 170 Israelis have been killed, has embittered Israel's Arab citizens and radicalized some of them. Yet nearly all the suicide bombings have been carried out by Palestinians from the West Bank. Habashi, however, came from Abu Snan, a village just 8 miles from Nahariya in the foothills of Israel's Galilee region. A statement from the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said Habashi apparently had linked up with Islamic extremist Hamas bombmakers in the West Bank. Habashi was born and raised in Israel, where Arabs make up about 20 percent of the population. Secular in his youth, he became religious in the early 1980s. He joined the Islamic Movement, organizing marches and rallies. In 1996, he became the Imam, or preacher, in the village mosque. Habashi's neighbors and relatives were hesitant to talk about him on Sunday, except to express disbelief he was the bomber. ``We never thought any sane person could do a thing like that,'' said Rafik Nasrah, a neighbor. Fowzi Mishlav, head of the Abu Snan local council, called the board into an emergency session. ``We decided unanimously to condemn this criminal act,'' Mishlav said after the meeting. ``I'm sure it's an act of a single man who represents only himself.'' But last November, seven residents of the village were arrested and charged with spying for the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas. Police said they planned to plant bombs in Israel and kidnap a soldier. Their names were not released. Habashi was not just another resident of Abu Snan. He ran against Mishlav in an election in September 2000, representing the Islamic Movement. In a race marked by repeated acts of violence, Habashi lost. Last week Israeli police announced the arrest of four Israeli Arab teen-agers suspected of planning to plant bombs in Israel, the latest evidence of the increasing alienation of the community. While some Jewish lawmakers called for reprisals against Israeli Arabs, Culture Minister Matan Vilnai said Israel must face the core issue of how to coexist. ``They're not going to evaporate and we're not going to evaporate,'' he said.
Who is a Jew, again By Shahar Ilan, Ha'aretz Monday, September 18, 2000 It's still a long road to cancelling the nationality rubric in the population registry. This is an issue that in the past has stirred up political emotions strong enough to rock governments. The road begins with the approval of the Knesset Law, Justice and Constitution Committee. A majority is expected there, but it's not guaranteed. Then, Interior Ministry Haim Ramon can cancel the provision - but only in ID cards, not in the actual population registry. That requires legislation. But even if he does go the half-step and it might take a lot of the wind from the sails of this age-old controversy, it won't go away entirely. Eleven justices are now convened as a High Court of Justice to hear requests from some 50 converts who want their Judaism recognized. Most are Reform or Conservative Movement converts. That's where the latest battle lines are drawn in the war over "who is a Jew." There are two issues here. One is who will be recognized as a Jew under the Law of Return - immigrantion rights. But most of the appellants in the case already have immigrant rights because of family family ties, so that element is largely irrelevant. The real issue is who will be registered as a Jew in the Population Registry and on the ID - meaning who will the state actually recognize as a Jew. If Ramon could cancel the nationality element in the registry that would render most, if not all, High Court cases on the matter meaningless. But since he can only eliminate it from the ID card, the court cases will continue. Others affected by the issue are new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who are forced to suffer odd and bizarre classifications like "nation-less" or "Ukrainian." So, who cares about the nationality item? Mostly the National Religious Party, which regards it as central to the Jewish identity of the state. In the past there were those who claimed the Shabach needed it for security reasons. But finally someone asked them, and their answer was "nonsense." Another myth gone. Ramon has not yet signed the elimination of the national identity rubric. He's passed it on to some other ministers for their opinions. But when they return it to him it will need that Knesset Committee okay. The chair of the committee, MK Amnon Rubinstein of Meretz, says he believes the committee has a majority in favor, because of the MKs representing new immigrants from the former Soviet Union. He plans to bring the issue up during the Knesset recess, possibly for a vote at the same time. Traditionally, the Haredim were in favor of cancelling the nationality rubric because they saw it as a technical, not a ideological issue. But committee member Avraham Ravitz of United Torah Judaism isn't quite ready to say he won't oppose it - in a time of "civic revolutions" he is particularly suspicious. Yesterday Rabbi Michael Melchior, the only religious minister, who represents Meimad in the One Israel faction, came up with his own ideas for a reform of the registry problem. But his solution requires legislation. His proposal is for the citizens to declare their nationality. That will satisfy the Orthodox, because the state won't determine if the citizen is a Jew. It will satisfy the Reform and Conservative, because it will be egalitarian. At the same time, the original conversion documents will be deposited with the population registry, so the registrar can check if the person converted according to Halakha. Campaign to End Jerusalem ID Card Confiscation
Jerusalem Post 27 Sep 2000 MKs discusses striking nationality from ID cards Dan Izenberg The Knesset Law Committee was packed with MKs and VIPs to hear Acting Interior Minister Haim Ramon's request to eliminate the "nationality" entry from government-issued identity cards. In addition to the unusually high number of committee members, Jewish Agency Chairman Sallai Meridor attended to argue against Ramon's request, while former Interior Minister Natan Sharansky (Yisrael Ba'aliya) was there to support it. The vote on Ramon's proposal will be held in the committee on October 3. According to Ramon, there are two reasons to abolish the nationality entry. The first is that no other country in the world registers its citizens by nationality. "The former Soviet Union used to have a nationality category, and it was used to discriminate against many nationalities, above all the Jews," said Ramon. "No enlightened country has this category," he said. Ramon added that the situation had become absurd. "There are 130 different nationality entries including a dash, "unknown," "no nationality," and "not yet registered," as well as more conventional entries such as "Cambodian," "Singaporian" and "Kurdish." "This is not a country of all its citizens," he said. "It is a country of all of its nationalities." At least 270,000 non-Jews from the former Soviet Union, who are Israeli citizens according to the Law of Return, are registered by nationality, such as Tartar, Moldavian, Byelorussian, and Estonian, continued Ramon. "Some of the discrimination is aimed at them." Ramon added that religious parties should be the first to support the move, because currently Interior Ministry registry officials must register anyone who has converted to Judaism abroad in a Reform or Conservative ceremony as a Jew in their identity cards. By abolishing the nationality entry, Israel would be spared some of the battle over whether the state should recognize non-Orthodox converts to Judaism as Jews, said Ramon. But Ramon stressed that he was not talking about abolishing the nationality entry from the population registry. The population registry includes far more details on every citizen than the identity card and its contents can only be changed by law. In opposing Ramon's request, Meridor emphasized the symbolic importance of the nationality entry, where Jewish Israelis are listed as Jews while Arabs, Druse and Circassians are listed according to their ethnic roots. "It would be wrong to make the change," he said. "The ID card is not just an identity card. It also defines [the group to which] each person belongs. Everyone here has two identities. He belongs to Israeli society and he belongs to Jewish or Arab society. That is one of the unique features of Israel. It is a state of all of its citizens, but not just its citizens. "We are building a state and that is difficult, and we are building a Jewish society and that is difficult. It is very hard to build, and very easy to destroy." Meridor rejected Ramon's argument that the nationality entry inevitably led to discrimination. "True equality is acceptance of the 'other,'" he said. "The true test is to give equality to the 'other.'" Sharansky poked fun at the government. "We better take advantage of the civil revolution’ which is available this week," he told the Knesset. "Who knows. Maybe next week the government will be offering a haredi revolution." Sharansky said he received his identity card, with the specification that he was Jewish, while still in Russia and had been extremely proud of it. "But I don't think that my Israeli identity is strengthened when a new immigrant presents his ID card to a hotel receptionist and feels ashamed because his nationality is listed as 'dash,'" Sharansky stressed, however, that he opposed changing the population registry. The Law Committee split along coalition lines during the subsequent debate, with Likud MKs and members of the three religious parties - NRP, Shas and United Torah Judaism - speaking out against. Proposed Cancellation of Nationality Clause on Identity Cards Rejected by Eliezer Rauchberger A large majority of the Knesset plenum rejected two proposed laws last week which had been presented for preliminary readings. Both proposals were presented by Roman Bronfman (Ta'al) and Yuri Stern (Israel Beiteinu). One was cancelling the listing of nationality on personal identity cards (teudat zehut). Although the nationality information on the ID card is not considered reliable (the card itself proclaims this information is not reliable), its presence has considerable emotional content. Although the Government opposed the proposal to cancel the nationality listing, a number of Knesset Coalition members supported it, among them Meretz members; Roni Milo (Center), Sofa Landber, and Speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg (One Israel), as well as Deputy Minister Marina Solodkin of Yisrael Ba'Aliya. Minister for Religious Affairs Yitzhak Cohen (Shas), who expressed opposition to the proposed law in the name of the Government, said that the ramifications of the "nationality" clause in the State of Israel are unlike those of other countries. In Israel, he explained, we are referring to the Jewish nation, and the records must make that clear. Cohen noted that although Minister of Internal Affairs Natan Sharansky opposes the proposal, he could not attend the discussion because of illness. Meretz' voting against the government provoked the ire of Shas representatives who were angry at Meretz for having supported the law in violation of the Government's and the coalition decision. Later, MK Yossi Paritzki of Shinui suggested a proposal to forbid advertising on pirate radio stations as well as playing them in public places. This proposal was also rejected by a large majority of the coalition. In this instance, however, the Meretz Knesset members also supported the proposal. The tension between Shas and Meretz escalated, erupting when Deputy Minister Yitzhak Vaknin hurled harsh remarks at Education Minister Yossi Sarid, calling him "antisemitic" because Sarid has yet to transfer money to the Maayan Hachinuch HaTorani network, despite the fact that the Knesset Finance Committee has approved the transfer, and it was the subject of an explicit agreement before the budget vote. In the wake of Vaknin's remarks, a commotion erupted in the Knesset plenum which intensified after Ilan Gila'on of Meretz' sharp response. The meeting chairman was forced to announce a recess in order to calm the soaring spirits. The various sides later apologized, and peace and quiet returned to the Knesset plenum. http://www.shemayisrael.com/chareidi/YSaclause.htm http://www3.haaretz.co.il/eng/scripts/article.asp?mador=14&datee=09/18/00&id=93291
NPR Morning Edition 4 Sept 2001 COMMENTARY Life as an 'Outside Person' An NPR Correspondent Describes How Foreigners Fare in Japan Eric Weiner -- Because Japan was virtually isolated from the outside world for centuries, its population remained ethnically homogenous. Now, though, the number of foreigners living in Japan is growing -- and so are complaints of discrimination. On Morning Edition, NPR's Tokyo Correspondent Eric Weiner reports that "Foreigners living in Japan face a number of daily indignities, from the merely annoying to the infuriating" -- everything from having to carry an ID card at all times, to being denied entry to some bars, shops and resorts. During 10 years as an NPR correspondent, Weiner has lived in Jerusalem and New Delhi, and has traveled extensively through the Middle East and Asia. In all that time, he says, he never experienced racism -- but in Japan, he is "constantly reminded of my foreign-ness." Exclusively for NPR.org, Weiner writes about his experiences as a foreigner in Japan today. By Eric Weiner You may have heard that the Japanese are blatantly racist. That they clearly don't like foreigners. Having lived here for more than two years, I can assure you this is definitely not true. There is nothing blatant or clear about Japanese attitudes towards foreigners. Their feelings are complex -- murkier than a bowl of miso soup. That leaves us gaijin -- literally "outside persons" -- playing a constant guessing game. A cab passes me by, picking up a Japanese passenger instead. Was it a racist slight? Or did he simply not see me? I'm riding the subway; the train is crowded, as it almost always is, yet the seat next to me is empty. Xenophobia or mere coincidence? In Japan, you are never sure. To be honest, I've never experienced racism before. During my previous postings for NPR -- in India and the Middle East -- I was treated with reverence bordering on the sycophantic. It's different in Japan. Foreigners are treated alternatively with admiration and suspicion -- and, occasionally, both simultaneously. Just as we have a stereotype of the typical Japanese, the Japanese, I've learned, have their own two-dimensional image of us gaijin. We're big and hairy. We're messy. We're prone to unpredictable, occasionally violent outbursts. Of course, not all gaijin are created equal. There is a definite pecking order. We Westerners are at the top of the heap. At the bottom are the Nigerians, Taiwanese and other less prestigious foreigners. I can only imagine what life for them is like here. As a foreigner living in Japan, I am constantly reminded of my foreign-ness. I am required -- by law -- to carry an "alien registration card" at all times. Although it is uncommon, I still might be barred from a restaurant or hotel that has a policy of "Japanese only." Even a Tokyo nightclub called Club International -- and, as columnist Dave Barry says, I am not making this up -- has a sign outside that reads "No Foreigners Allowed." That more or less sums up Japan's attitudes towards all things foreign. Yes, they crave the cosmopolitan flavor that foreigners bestow; but no, they don't want to get too close to them. Japanese consumers can't get enough foreign products. This is the single largest market for Louis Vuitton and other European designer goods. The latest trend here is to wear T-shirts embossed with English words, apparently chosen at random. The English words carry no meaning; they are merely decoration. On the one hand, the Japanese welcome foreign influences. You can get a reasonably good fajita in Tokyo these days, and you are never far from a latte. Yet they manage to keep these foreign "contagions" at a safe distance. They even use a separate alphabet just to write foreign words. So I've come to the conclusion that there is simply no way for a foreigner like myself to gain acceptance, let alone to assimilate. I know foreigners who have mastered the Japanese language. The Japanese refer to them as the "gaijin who speak good Japanese." One American even went so far as to become a naturalized Japanese citizen -- a long, tortuous process. He is now known as the "gaijin who has a Japanese passport" (and, incidentally, he is still barred from establishments that say "Japanese only"). In many ways, the United States and Japan couldn't be more different when it comes to attitudes towards foreigners. The United States is a diverse nation of immigrants. Japan is an ethnically homogenous nation (or views itself as one) where you are either born Japanese or you are not. You do not become Japanese. If it's possible for a nation to have a superiority complex and an inferiority complex at the same time, than that nation is Japan. On the one hand, the Japanese believe they are better than us foreigners. (Japanese rice is better. Japanese cars are better.) Yet they exert tons of energy trying to look like us. Many young Japanese women dye their hair blond, wear platform shoes and have plastic surgery to make their eyes more rounded. There are countless rules to follow in Japan, and no matter how careful you are, no matter how fastidious you are, you, as a foreigner, will break several rules every day. Some of the rules are simple, such as taking your shoes off before entering a home (I now find it unseemly to wear shoes indoors). But other rules aren't automatically self-evident. Don't eat while walking. Never, never blow your nose in public. Always apologize when brushing against someone, even if it wasn't your fault. Recently, I was in a sento, a Japanese public bath (and one of the truly luxurious experiences of living in Japan). The rules say you must scrub yourself thoroughly before entering the hot tub. Knowing that gaijin like myself are held to a higher standard of cleanliness than your average Japanese, I scrubbed and scrubbed. And scrubbed. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. "Excuse me," said the Japanese man next to me. I braced myself for an anti-foreigner tirade or, at the very least, a critique of my bathing technique. "Excuse me," he repeated, "but you are washing yourself with shampoo. The soap is over there." I mumbled a thank you, privately ashamed for anticipating the worst from my fellow bather. I now break the rules here on a regular basis. I figure I'll never be fully accepted, so I've decided to enjoy the slack that we foreigners are afforded. Being a gaijin, it turns out, does have its advantages.
Jordan Times (Amman) 18 Nov 2001 Citizens Urged To Collect New ID Cards Before Year-End By Rana Husseini Amman - Passports and Civil Status Department Director Awni Yervas urged citizens to collect their free magnetic national identification cards before the end of the year. "We have issued around one million new cards, but according to our data, an additional 1,117,000 citizens who are eligible to vote in the upcoming elections did not replace their older cards," said Yervas. He told The Jordan Times that the number of people appearing at the department to replace or issue a new national card had declined since Sept. 1, when the department started issuing the free magnetic cards. He attributed the slow pace to people's preoccupation with world events following the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the US. But he warned that time was running out for those who did not get the new card, because starting next year "people wishing to obtain the new national card will have to pay JD2." "There are only 45 days left before the end of the year, and the month of December is filled with holidays. We do hope citizens will collect their cards before the deadline," he said. The new card will be the only official document used by voters in future parliamentary elections as proof of their identity and their electoral district. Its introduction, Yervas said, allows citizens to vote at any balloting station in their district. The card will carry a watermark stamp once an individual has cast a vote to prevent and repeat votes or abuse, he added. "Our aim is to ease voting procedures to encourage Jordanians to cast their ballots in the upcoming elections," he said. © 2001 Jordan Times (Amman).
LA Times 2 Apr 1990 The Forgotten Hostages: Lebanese Kidnappings: An unkown number have been abducted, usually because of their religion. by Marilyn Raschka, Special to the Times BEIRUT -- The plight of foreign hostages in Lebanon is continually in the news, but generally less known is the fact that many Lebanese themselves are seized as hostages. Since the civil war began in 1975, no one knows how many of this country's citizens have been abducted and killed, by one side or the other, depending on their religion. This has come to be known as the "battle of the IDs," because religion is spelled out on Lebanese identity cards, and much of this activity takes place at the so-called Green Line that divides Beirut into predominantly Christian and Muslim sectors. In one instance, a woman driving from East Beirut to West was stopped by a young man who wanted a ride to the other side. She agreed but, upon noticing that the crossing point was virtually deserted, decided to turn around. "But the young man begged me to keep going," she said. "It was the worst decision I have ever made." Four gunmen stepped out, stopped the car and demanded the young man's papers. He was not carrying them. "I think he delibarately left them at home because people were being killed according to the religious affiliation shown on their IDs," the woman recalled. In any case, the young man was dragged out of the car and taken away. The gunmen threatened to take the woman with them for questioning and relented only when her daughter, 7, began screaming. One of the men told the child: "Don't cry. I won't take your mother away from you." Like all the other women who agreed to talk with a reporter about theri experiences, this woman asked that she not be identified by name. Foreign women in Beirut rely on thier gender as a kind of immunity, but where Lebanese women are concerned, it has been no help. Two years ago a young woman working as a paramedic was abducted along with her male partner, and their captors forced themn to drive to a deserted area, where they were blindfolded. "They waid they would execute my partner first, then me," the woman recalled. She said she heard shots and almost passed out. THen the gunmen laughed and removed her blindfold, revealing that her partner had not been hurt but was shaking with terror. Both were freed, and a higher-up in the captors' militia, who had interceded, apologized. "As we were driving back," she said, "we heard some men calling to us. It was our kidnappers, waving and smiling." She said she sees them from time to time and that they continue to greet her cordially. As for their motive, she guesses that she and her partner were to be traded for victims held in East Beirut. For the families of Lebanese men who are abducted, life is difficult. Legally, the victims are not considered dead until 10 years have pased. In the meantime, their assets are frozen. "My husband's bank accounts are frozen," a Lebanese woman lamented recently. She said she has turned for help to a lawyer,. who is working his way through the red tape woven by the Lebanese government, which itself is hostage to the war. Solving financial problems has been easier for her than solving social problems. "People call me and others like me 'dead/alive widows'" she said. The woman, who has two teaching jobs, does not talk openly about her husband's abduction for fear that her students might try to take advantage of it and threaten her for higher grades. A week before her husband was abducted, she said, his brother, the brother's wife and their son were abducted. The family was well-to-do, and it was assumed that ransom would be sought. She said her husband withdrew money from his bank and went to talk with the abductors, whose identity he knew. He did not return. On several occasions she has been approached by people who said they had information about her husband, information they offered to exchange for money, usually the equivalent of about $200. She said she has been tempted but has refused, although she knows others who have. "The foreign hostages' families have support from so many sources," se said. "We have no one."
"Abdullah Habashi" (a.k.a. Abdullah al-Hariri) has been trained to poison the minds of Muslims, and he was sent to Damascus. There he began his activities by visiting Muslim scholars and attending their lectures, in order to analyze their personalities. However, after much effort to spread his poisonous beliefs, he found that Damascus was too spiritual and Islamic a place for him, as he was unable to poison the minds of people. Therefore he was ordered by his masters to move on to Lebanon. There he sought asylum from the Secretary General of the Religious Affairs Department in Lebanon, Mukhtar Alele. He was given shelter on condition that he only stay in the mosque of Ziqaq al-Bilat in Beirut, and the condition that he in no way spread his teachings to people. Unfortunately, "Abdullah Habashi" broke his promise to the General Secretary who had sponsored him. The Prophet (s) said, "al-Muslim idha wa'ada wafa.'" Which means "the Muslim when he makes a promise, fulfills it" The first action that he did was to break his promise. He began to spread his teachings through Lebanon at that time, and has continued until the present day. During the Lebanese crisis the so-called "Abdullah Habashi", gave a fatwa that his followers could rob any house left empty by tenants who had fled the fighting. He also permitted them to kill any person who carried an identity card which identified them as Christian or non-Muslim. This is not accepted in Islam. http://menic.utexas.edu/menic/newsites.html#engd
UPI 17 March 1997 Lebanon issues new identity cards BEIRUT, March 17 (UPI) -- Lebanon has issued new identity cards that for the first time do not include the holder's religious affiliation. President Elias Hrawi received the first magnetic card at a ceremony at the Interior Ministry workshop where they are being printed. The card, which officials say cannot be forged, includes all the details authorities believe are relevant, except the bearer's religion. It replaces cards that were designed before the outbreak of the civil war in 1975. However, details of religious affiliations will be stored in the Interior Ministry's database. The old card, which included the holder's faith, was tantamount to a death certificate during the 16-year civil war, when tens of thousands of Lebanese were killed at checkpoints manned by rival Muslim and Christian militiamen after being identitifed by their religion. Hrawi urged all Lebanese ``to carry out their duty'' and apply for the new card. Interior Minister Michel Murr said the new card was designed in such a way as to prevent forgery, ``especially after the previous dire experience during the war when foreigners resorted to forging Lebanese identity cards.'' Murr was referring to Palestinian and other foreign guerrillas who forged the cards in order to move around the country or travel abroad. He said the ministry workshop was able to produce 200,000 such cards a month.
News from Beirut March 18 1997 ....... -- Lebanon-Identity Card Available Yesterday, Lebanon's new coded identity card, first in 20 years, was handed at a special reception at a workshop in Badaro. The design of the new card was reached after studying seventeen international identity cards. This innovation will gradually replace the old identity card and the civil status document Ikhraj Al Kaid. The new card does not mention the religion or sect of the holder in compliance with the Taif Accord, and it will be the only recognized official document after 16 month. Applications should be submitted to the mayors' offices in various regions. Children below age 3 will be exempted of attaching photos and putting finger-prints, and boys below 15 will not be required to provide finger-prints. Minister of Interior, Michel Murr, said that an application form should be filled at the mayor's office who will then send it to the civil status directory. The workshop capacity is 10,000 card a day and 250,000 monthly. Mr. Murr pointed out that the card will be delivered within one week. President Hrawi, speaking on the occasion, said the issuing of new cards is another step in the process of rebuilding our infrastructure which would not only focus on roads, water, and sewerage, but it will also involves gaining our identity and averting forgery. He added that the state should not be blamed for the errors and mistakes in the voters lists, contending that the civil status administration cannot work perfectly if there are no mayors to issue birth, marriage and death certificates. He expressed gratitude to those involved in the process for their efforts, and called upon the Lebanese to carry on the obligations of having the new card as well as to obtain the identification cards for the municipal election. He said his identity card was issued before 1973 and was used twice to vote, noting that the old identity card is not acceptable now for the coming municipal election.
ShuFiMaFi A FREE weekly news report on Lebanon and the Lebanese March 21, 1997 New ID card Interior minister MICHEL MURR last Monday unveiled the new "fraud-proof" identity card and announced that the Lebanese citizens would be given 16 months to apply for the document (through the local "moukhtars"). For the first time in Lebanon's history, the ID cards will not display the bearer's religion.
Christian Science Monitor 2 Apr 1997 The Lebanese government began issuing new identification cards to its citizens in March for the first time since civil war began in 1975. While officials point out that the laminated cards contain a magnetic strip aimed at curbing fraud, ordinary Lebanese seem most struck by what the IDs do not contain: any mention of the bearer's religion. Few Lebanese have forgotten that during the 1975-1990 civil war, Christian and Muslim militias kidnapped thousands of civilians at roadblocks, abetted by the paper IDs that noted the bearer's religion. ``Many would like to see an end to the religious sectarianism that permeates Lebanese society,'' says Muhamad Mugraby, a Beirut lawyer involved in human rights. ``But religious groups continue to put up stiff resistance to any such move.''Much of Lebanon's civil war was fought over deconfessionalizing'' society, or reducing religious sectarianism. The 1989 Taef Agreement, ratified by Lebanese parliamentarians gathered in Saudi Arabia to negotiate an end to the civil war, even called on the parliament to outlaw the divides. It never did. Clinging to old ways Edmond Saab, executive editor of Beirut's An Nahar newspaper, says the new ID cards are a move in the right direction. ``I think it's a step ahead in having a modern society where [civil law] is more important than than religious, or confessional, relations,'' he says. But Mr. Mugraby, the lawyer, believes religious identity is ingrained , and that many Lebanese find security in groupings. "The poorer, the less educated, the less privileged feel they are in greater need of protection, which allegiance to the system will provide them.'' Since the days of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Lebanon for more than 400 years, individuals have been considered first to be members of their religious group, each with its own courts, educational councils, and charitable institutions. Lebanon today has some 18 religious confessions, including Maronite, or Eastern-rite Catholic Christians, Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, Druze, and Alawites. One apparent defender of the current system is parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and the Shiite Amal movement that he heads. Mr. Berri has allowed draft laws designed to change the system to languish on his desk. His critics say this is ironic, because he was a bitter foe of sectarianism during the war. A professor of politics at a university here, who asked not to be identified, thinks Berri is now most interested in preserving his group's numerical strength. Before the war, Lebanon was dominated by a clique of Maronite politicians. Now that the war is over, Shiites wield the most power,'' he says. Government posts are still apportioned according to a community's size. Youth drives the change Sectarianism, nevertheless, is less prevalent than it once was, especially among the young and more educated. At least one-third of Lebanese young people declared they would not hesitate to marry someone of a different religion, according to a recent poll. The Rev. Michel Awit, a Maronite spokesman, seems open: ``Christians would mostly accept civil marriages if everyone else did. It's the Muslims that do not.'' Msgr. Mansour Hobeika, a member of the Maronite religious court, expresses the opposite view. ``We will fight civil marriages with all our force, because they are against our principles,'' he says. Lebanese President Elias Hrawi, a Maronite Christian whose own children have married Muslims, began a drive last November to introduce civil marriages. As for the new ID cards, skeptical Lebanese note that, using a bar-code reader, officials can still instantly identify a person by religion as well as by name.
Betsy Hiel: Middle East Reports - September 5, 2000 Opposition gets election boost in Lebanon By Betsy Hiel TRIBUNE-REVIEW BEIRUT, Lebanon - In a landslide victory, construction magnate Rafik Hariri and his allies captured all of Beirut's 19 seats in Lebanon's parliamentary elections Sunday. The results were announced Monday. By crushing Prime Minister Selim Hoss, the billionaire businessman is poised to retake the position he once held. Lebanese citizens voted in Beirut, the Beka'a Valley and - for the first time in 28 years - in the recently reacquired south for the remaining 65 candidates of Lebanon's 128-member parliament. The opposition's strength in the second and final round of voting - and the ruling party's loss of once-secure seats in the first round, held in the north and the Chouf Mountains on Aug. 27 - boosts Lebanon's reputation as a growing democracy in a region ruled mainly by monarchs and authoritarian leaders. The Lebanese army patrolled many polls, keeping order as supporters deluged voters with their candidates' voting lists. Although voting irregularities were reported, analysts here judged the overall election to be clean. Scuffles between rival camps, including one stabbing, were reported. "We can say that in terms of the electoral procedures and administration, it has improved," said Hassan Krayem, secretary general of the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections. "But in terms of the political nature of the democratic elections, it either stayed the same or retreated in some ways. With 18 different religious sects, Lebanon has a complex sectarian political system. A voter's religion is listed on electoral cards. By law, the country's president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the parliament speaker a Shi'ite Muslim. Under the 1989 Ta'if Agreement, parliamentary seats are now split between Muslims and Christians. On Sunday, many Beirut residents made long trips south to vote in the village of their families. Here, an individual's vote is based on their identity card and parenting, not on residence. "It is a confessional system, and they are afraid that if they allow people to vote wherever they reside, the voting in Beirut will change," Krayam explained. Most candidates were from oligarchies based on wealth, familial ties and clan patronage. The election reconfirms the fragility of a system that Krayam calls "political feudalism." Yet even critics said Hariri's landslide promises a power transition based on voting, something unique in the Arab world. "People voted against a very inefficient government," said political science professor Fawwaz Traboulsi of the Lebanese American University. "They voted in the hope that a Hariri comeback will get the country moving again." Hariri's victory may put him on a collision course with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud. In 1998, Lahoud engineered Hariri's ouster after six years as prime minister. Lebanon's constitution requires the president to consult parliament before nominating a prime minister. "Mr. Lahoud is reluctant (to appoint Hariri), but he has said he will go about it constitutionally and listen to the will of the people," Traboulsi said. Hariri is credited with Lebanon's reconstruction boom following a 16-year civil war that ended in 1991. On Sunday, many pro-Hariri voters recalled his record of social services and his economic policies. Although much of Lebanon's $22 billion national debt was accumulated under Hariri, voters here are wistful for better economic times and believe he can improve the country. "Many prime ministers have come and gone, but no one worked the way he did," Beirut resident Mohammed Sidani said after voting. In the shantytown of Jnah, the entire Mushlib Matar family supported Hariri. When Prime Minister Hoss replaced him, Suhair Mushlib Matar said, "the Lebanese pound lost a lot to the dollar, and many people became unemployed." "Rafik Hariri is a man of dignity and honor, and stands for the unity of all of Lebanon's sects, not just one," Ghassan Zinka said after voting in Beirut. He said the businessman's connections with world leaders will help the country. In the south, the Resistance and Development party, anchored by the Shi'ite alliance of Amal and Hizbollah, won easily. Riding a wave of popularity for its role in Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon in May, Hizbollah captured nine parliamentary seats, up from seven in 1996. The Shi'ite alliance between rivals Amal - led by parliamentary speaker Nabi Berri, an ally of Syria - and the guerrilla movement Hizbollah was orchestrated by Syria, American University's Traboulsi said. "There was the fear that any competition between the two would easily degenerate into armed conflict," he explained. Syria is considered the power broker in Lebanon. It maintains 35,000 troops and an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 workers in the country. This was Lebanon's first election since the end of Israel's two-decade occupation in south Lebanon and since Syrian president Hafez al-Assad died in June. His son and successor, Bashar Assad, is expected to exercise a lighter touch over Lebanon, which is smaller than the state of Connecticut. The Shi'ite political block is one way for Syria to retain control over the fractious parliament, Traboulsi said. Most of the newly-elected parliamentarians are considered to be pro-Syrian. Betsy Hiel is a Cairo-based correspondent of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. She has been in Lebanon for three weeks, observing the country's elections and examining its refugee problem. Her articles from the region can be read online at tribLIVE.com, and she can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
The Straits Times Oct 11 1999 Groups object to plan to state religion on ICs An association of various non-Muslim religions says the move would lead to discrimination and hurt national unity KUALA LUMPUR -- Non-Muslim groups have rallied against a government decision to include a person's religion on his identity card, arguing that it could lead to discrimination against them. They wanted the government to reconsider the decision which they described as "a step backwards" in the country's move to forge national unity, The Sun reported yesterday. A non-government Muslim group, Pertubuhan Jamaah Islah Malaysia, also joined the chorus, saying the move could disrupt religious harmony. The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) said "the mention of race and/or religion would be viewed by the authorities in such a manner that could lead to bias and discrimination". They were reacting to the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi over the weekend that religion would be included in identity cards in future. The feature would help the authorities ascertain the religion of identity-card holders in critical cases such as family disputes over a person's religion when he died, he said. The Deputy Premier said it would also help prevent Muslims from masquerading as non-Muslims to patronise the casino at Genting Highlands or to avoid fasting during Ramadan. Said MCCBCHS president A. Vaithilingam: "While one can appreciate that one would be proud that his or her religion is mentioned in the identity card, the council is also concerned with the arbitrary methods used by the National Registration Department in identifying one's own religion." He went on to say that the National Registration Department "had always ignored the important section of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution on the freedom of choice of worship of a citizen". Expressing surprise and disappointment with the announcement, he said the government should stick to the current policy of not mentioning race and religion in the identity cards as this meant that all citizens were regarded as Malaysians, irrespective of race and religion. Gerakan vice-president S. Vijayaratnam was quoted by The Sun as saying the decision was "a step backwards in the light of the Prime Minister's desire for national unity and Bangsa Malaysia". "If it becomes necessary for some reason to determine the religion of an individual, in the vast majority of cases the name alone would be enough to show it as far as the Muslim/non-Muslim distinction is concerned," said the politician whose party is in the ruling National Front. He said it was unfair to subject the whole nation to this undesirable exercise, just for sporadic cases such as tackling fasting month offences, claiming of bodies or entering casinos. "In the quest of a united Malaysia, it would be encouraging to perceive that the authorities are placing less emphasis on religion and race," he added.
Tuesday, October 12, 1999 MALAYSIA Government stretching faith in ID card system IAN STEWART in Kuala Lumpur A Malaysian government decision to include religion on identity cards has drawn strong criticism from religious groups and a leader of one of its own parties, who described it as an "undesirable exercise". The plan was announced on Friday by the Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, who said the added feature would help authorities in cases where members of a family disagreed over the religion of a person who had died. It would also help them expose Muslims masquerading as non-Muslims in order to patronise the Genting Highlands casino or to avoid fasting during Ramadan, he claimed. Followers of Islam are barred from gambling and, during the fasting month, are required to abstain from food or drink during daylight hours. The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism immediately called on the Government to reconsider its decision. The council president, A. Vaithilingam, said the inclusion of religion on identity cards could lead to bias and discrimination. A non-government Muslim group said the move could disrupt religious harmony. S. Vijayaratnam, vice-president of Gerakan, one of the smaller parties in the ruling National Front Coalition, said the plan was a step backwards in light of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's desire for national unity. As far as distinguishing Muslim from non-Muslim, the name on the card alone would suffice to show religion. The country's Malay majority are almost all Muslim. "It is unfair to subject the whole nation to this undesirable exercise just for such sporadic cases like tackling fasting month offences, the claiming of bodies or entering casinos," he said. Mr Vijayaratnam added that in the authorities' quest for a united Malaysia, they should be perceived to be placing less emphasis on religion and race. Responding to the criticism, Mr Badawi said the Government was not trying to discriminate against any group. He said all members of the cabinet, which comprised ministers of various religions and races, had agreed to the plan and it was better that the decision be accepted.
Straits Times 20 Oct 1999 Religion decision under review By Frederick Fernandez PORT KLANG: The Government will review its decision to include the religion of the holder in the new high quality identity card issued to Malaysians since last month. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he had received feedback that some quarters were concerned that the inclusion of the religion in ICs would give room for discrimination. He said he would brief the Cabinet today during its weekly meeting about the views and objections to the inclusion of a person's religion in the IC. Abdullah, who is also Home Minister, said people remained wary of having the additional data on the new ICs. He said they remained sceptical although the Government had sought to reassure them that there was no intention for discrimination. "I will submit a report on the matter to the Cabinet and a decision will be made then," he told newsmen after opening the Kemira-Kuok Fertilisers Sdn Bhd factory at Westport here yesterday. Abdullah was asked to comment on the opposition by various non-Muslim organisations which felt that the move was against national integration and could lead to discrimination among those who practised different faiths. The Government had earlier stated that the inclusion of the religion would enable authorities to act more swiftly against Muslims who gamble and who do not fast during Ramadan.
Straits Times 23 Oct 1999 Council unhappy at religion-on-IC plan Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism says move to state religion of Muslims will lead to discrimination PETALING JAYA -- A council representing Malaysian Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs has expressed disappointment that the Cabinet has not withdrawn completely its plan to include religion in identity cards. It noted that the government was still going ahead with the plan, although only Muslims would be affected, said the Nanyang Siang Pau yesterday. This position was stated by Mr A. Vaithilingam, the president of the council, known as the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism, said the Chinese daily. He added that the council was grateful that the Cabinet took a serious view of its position on the issue, but was unhappy that it did not rescind the new ruling. The council had argued last week that the move would lead to discrimination among people of different faiths. It said that it would discuss this development at its next executive committee meeting on Nov 3. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in announcing the decision on Wednesday, said non-Muslims were exempted because they disagreed with the move. He added that non-Muslims who had their religion stated on their ICs could have them changed at no cost. ''We are not forcing them if they feel it is not important ... but if they want it changed, they have to get new ones," the Sun quoted the Deputy Premier to have said. More than 100,000 ICs stating the holder's religion at the lower left-hand corner had been issued since last month, said the daily. Datuk Abdullah said that the decision to have religion included in the ICs of Muslims was based on views submitted by Islamic religious departments. It would make it easier for religious authorities to identify a Muslim when he committed an offence. These would include visiting casinos at Genting Highland, or eating in public during the Muslim fasting month. Aliran, a non-governmental organisation, said the decision to state one's religion, even if it was solely for Muslims, could only divide society. Honorary secretary Dr Francis Loh said the use of separate laws would be at odds with the goal of creating a Bangsa Malaysia, or a united Malaysian race not divided along racial and religious lines.
The Singapore Straits Times 2nd December 2000 Mahathir blames 'dirty tactics' for Lunas loss His words were twisted and he never labelled all Chinese people as 'extremist', only those groups that 'spread hatred among people', he says By WAN HAMIDI HAMID IN KUALA LUMPUR MALAYSIAN Premier Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted that his remarks against the Chinese educationists and election appeals group Suqiu may have had some impact in the outcome of the Lunas by-election. But the Umno President, putting the blame on the opposition's alleged dirty tactics for the loss of Lunas, believes his views were twisted by certain people. 'I never said the Chinese are extremists. I only directed my criticism against the extremist groups. 'The Chinese understand that when I use the word extremist I was referring to those who spread hatred among the people. I also criticised the Al-Ma'unah sect, even though they are Malays, for being extremist,' he said. Dr Mahathir was speaking to reporters after chairing the Umno Supreme Council meeting here yesterday, two days after the opposition Parti Keadilan Nasional ousted Barisan Nasional from its stronghold in Lunas. The loss had a great impact in Dr Mahathir's home state of Kedah, as the ruling coalition no longer has the two-thirds majority in the state legislative assembly. From a majority of 4,700 votes gained in last year's general election, BN lost when Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan candidate polled more than 10,000 votes to win with a 530 majority. While the Chinese had solidly supported BN last year, the voters in Lunas surprised everyone by swinging their votes to the opposition. Observers noted that the Chinese in Lunas were upset with Dr Mahathir, who had been critical towards organisations they revered such as the educationists Dong Jiao Zong and Suqiu. However, Dr Mahathir rejected such a view, insisting that demands by the Chinese community had been fulfilled from time to time. He said that when the Chinese wanted the powers of the Education Minister to change the status of a Chinese school to a national school be removed, the government complied. 'We thought it was over. But the extremists are not satisfied, they want more. So what's the problem with Vision Schools? It is just a concept of three types of schools combined together so that pupils can learn from each other and live in a real multiracial society. 'Don't tell me the Chinese want to segregate themselves. In that case, we can no longer allow Malays to send their children to Chinese schools,' he said. The Malaysian Prime Minister appealed to the Chinese community not to listen to the extremist groups that fought on the premise of applying pressure on the government. 'Friends can pressure me but I will never bow down to extremists' pressure.' 'And I have the right to criticise anybody I like. When I criticise the extremists, I hope the Chinese community will not think that I am attacking them.' Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Shahrir Samad was one of the few politicians who blamed Dr Mahathir's criticism against the Chinese for losing Lunas. However, the party President rejected such claims, stating that Umno has its own stand on the matter. The Premier believes BN gained more votes in Lunas compared to last year's election despite the opposition's scare tactics. He accused the opposition of bringing in more than 100,000 outsiders to campaign in the constituency, hinting that there could also be phantom voters among them. The opposition alleged that BN tried to bring in phantom voters to Lunas, including the incident where Keadilan supporters detained 12 buses carrying 300 passengers on the eve of polling day. 'They confiscated our supporters' identity cards. We are thinking of taking legal action against this act of gansterism,' Dr Mahathir said.
The Economist: (Oct. 31 - Nov. 6, 1992) Bhutto's March: Wherever she goes in Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto is mobbed by enthusiastic crowds. Journalists hang on her every word. Is she going for the kill by rallying opposition to the prime minister, Nawza Sharif, in a n attempt to force a general election? It won't be easy. Since 1977, when prolonged street frenzy provoked the army to topple her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, no Pakistani government has succumbed to the politics of mass agitation. Given two hectic elections in the past four years, few people want another just yet. Last month's floods have uprooted millions of people in Punjab and thoughts of an election are far from their minds as they try to rebuild their lives. Why, then, should Mr. Sharif give the impression of being besieged? The prime minister's ruling Islamic Democratic Alliance exists in name only: several alliance partners have left after finding Mr. Sharif reluctant to share the spoils of office. Now he is turning on Miss Bhutto, but by doing so he has only succeeded in breathing new life into her party, which is widely seen as much-maligned underdog. Mr. Sharif's relations with the press have alos soured. In a parliamentarydebate in August, an opposition MP accused the government of planning to "eliminate" ten prominent journalists. Although this was denied, subsequent events suggest that some of Mr. Sharif's associates may have indeed decided to teach the press a lesson. One journalist on the alleged hit list, Ghulam Hussain, has been arrested on trumped-up charges and forced to close his paper. Another, Shaheen Sehbai, has been roughed up by thugs. In a much-publicised case the editors of the Jang/News group, Shakil ur Rahman and Maleeha Lodhi, were foolishly charged with sedition for publishing a poem. Mr. Sharif was obliged to backtrack when journalists united to boycott parliament and took to the streets in protest. The police Special Branch has begun to compile dossiers on journalists, who therefore fear they may be next in the firing line. Small wonder the press is hostile to the prime minister. Now the government has decided that the identity cards of all Pakistanis will note their religion. In a mostly Muslim country in which no two religious groups can agree on who or what constitutes a true Muslim, this is bound to fan sectarianism and discriminate against non-Muslims. Some believe Mr. Sharif is clutching at the mullahs for support because he is losing his grip. Mr. Sharif's relations with the army are alos tense. The army says it has restored law and order in Sindh and wants to return to barracks. No, says the government, it must stay in Sindh to give support to the embattled provincial government of Muzaffar Shah. Senior army officers say the army should not become partisan and "allow its name to be dragged in the mud". Miss Bhutto aims to exploit Mr. Sharif's difficulties. She has announced a programme of rallies throughout Pakistan, culminating in a "long march" to the capital, Islamabad, in Novemeber. Other opposition leaders agree that Mr. Sharif must go, though they are unclear how to get him out. Mr. Sharif may not be finished, but the next few months will be testing for him.
Arab News 3 Nov 1992 Sindh MPs Reject Change in ID Card: Islamabad, Nov. 3 (R) -- A provincial assembly has defied the government by rejecting a move to force all Pakistanis to list their religion on identity cards. The assembly in the southern province of Sindh late yesterday unanimously adopted a resolution against the government's decision last month to add a religion column to identity cards. "The national identity cards of other countries have name, nationality and number only. They do not have a religion column. We do not want a situation in Pakistan," minority assembly member Hoshang Baroacha said today. "The religion column will lead to discrimination," independent member Amir Haider Shah said. The defiant move signals the most serious challenge so far to Prime Minsiter Nawaz Sharif bid to force Pakistan's 120 million people to declare their religious beliefs on national identity cards. Such declaration would leadto sectarianism, warned Sindh oppositon memeber Saleem Khokhar who tabled the motion. "Our movement will not suffer because of such resolutions, rather the dormant forces have been identified," Religious Affairs Minister Abdul Sattar Kahn Niazi said in an interview. "We are a nation based on ideology ... and are thus bound to declare our religion," he said. The column would help to protect the rights of Pakistan's Christian, Hindu, Sikh and other minorities. He dismissed fears it would encourage discrimination against non-Muslims. "Minorities will have full rights," he said. However, he said, the column was intended to differentiate between Muslims and Ahmadis, a sect declared non-Muslim and heretical in 1974.
DAWN WIRE SERVICE - 20 May 2000 Issue : 06/19 - 65 million NICs to be issued - Correspondent ISLAMABAD, May 19: Arrangements have been made for issuance of 65 million national identity cards to those people who had applied for NIC during 1998 census. The new card would be fire-proof, damp-proof and irreplaceable and would be delivered to the applicants on their addresses given on the census form. The cards would be distributed over a period of three months, starting from September. Each recipient of the card would have to pay Rs50-80, depending on the mailing and production charges presently being worked out by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). Sources told Dawn on Friday that NADRA had taken over the job in April, which should actually have been completed about a year ago. The change in governments incapacitated the relevant authorities from taking a decision about finalizing the arrangements in this connection. It has now been decided that NADRA would get the cards designed and printed by some experienced international or local firms. The Pakistan Revenue Automation (PRAL) has now been engaged for processing the entire data given by the applicants, while Z.A. Khan Associates have been engaged for the delivery of the cards. The delivery men would receive the card fee against a receipt duly signed by each recipient. The PRAL has started working on the forms which have been filled by the applicants in Urdu, English, Sindhi and Pushto. The staff is being employed to translate and correctly spell all the entries in a single (English or Urdu) language. The new NICs would automatically scrap the old cards as these would not be acceptable from any person who was 18-year-old or more at the time of 1998 census. Those who have not been able to fill the application form, will have to apply for the card immediately after the issuance of the new card.
2000 Computerised ID cards by December 2001 RECORDER REPORT ..........LAHORE (November 1) : Punjab National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Director Brigadier Nadim Qamar said on Tuesday that every entitled citizen would get computerised national identity card by the end of December 2001. ..........In a briefing to the newsmen, he said Rs 35 has been fixed for getting computerised ID card. ..........He said Nadra has completed its task in Sargodha and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions and handed over voter's lists to the Election Commission. ..........The Nadra had issued 168,000 new identity cards in Sargodha Division and 650,000 in Dera Ghazi Khan Division. ..........In the second phase, Nadra has planned to issue 1,050,000 new identity cards in six districts of Gujranwala Division and three districts in Bahawalpur Division. ..........In the third phase, new identity cards would be issued in three districts of Faisalabad Division and six districts of Multan Division. He said 90 percent of the application forms for the issuance of new identity cards have so far been received. ..........Besides, the issuance of new identity cards and preparation of voters lists, Nadra was feeding details of forms got filled in on the basis of national population census held under the National Citizen Data Bank in 1998. ..........He also demonstrated various stages of compilation of the voter's lists. He said so far over 180,000 forms have been scanned which after a thorough scrutiny would be submitted to the central office of Nadra, where information collected from all over the four provinces are being fed on the computer. ..........He expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of staff concerned towards issuance of national identity cards. ..........He admitted that the registration offices were under the grip of agent mafia and people were facing a lot of difficulties in procurement of identity cards. ..........However, situation is being improved gradually as the government has assigned the task of issuing computerised identity cards up to the age of 18 years and preparation of voters list for onward submission to the Election Commission, he concluded. ..........Copyright 2000 Business Recorder (www.brecorder.com)
Malay- News Straits Times, The Star/Asia News Network, AFP... OCT 12 1999 Move to state religion in ICs: KL stands firm No hidden agenda, motives or attempt to discriminate against anyone, says Deputy Prime Minister KUALA LUMPUR -- The government is standing firm on its decision to include religion in identity cards, the Deputy Prime Minister has said. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that there was no hidden agenda, "no hidden motives, no attempts to discriminate" in the plan. "As you know, the Cabinet comprises ministers of various religions and races ... all are satisfied and have given their agreement so it is better that the decision is accepted," he said on Sunday. "The government has no vested interest or any hidden agenda to discriminate against anybody. It is merely to make things easier for everybody," he added. A council representing Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs has urged the government to reconsider, saying the move could lead to discrimination. Some 100,000 of the new cards have so far been issued. About half the country's population is mainly Muslim Malay, with Chinese making up around 30 per cent and ethnic Indians 10 per cent. Datuk Abdullah said last week the idea was to better enforce certain laws. "If the religion is not stated in the IC, it's difficult for the authorities to take action when religious issues come up," he said. For instance, he said, the authorities would find it easier to identify Muslims who entered casinos and amusement centres if religion was included in their identity cards. "In a nation like Malaysia, where we have Chinese who look like Malays and Malays who look like Chinese, it will be easier if the religion is included on the identity cards," he said. Meanwhile, opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said the government had damaged decades of nation-building by deciding to include the reference to religion. -
AP 5 Dec 2001 Saudi Women Get ID Cards By WARD PINCUS, Associated Press Writer DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Under pressure to give women more rights, Saudi Arabia has begun issuing identity cards to female citizens for the first time, a government official said Wednesday. About 2,000 women have been issued their own identity cards since the program started last month, said an official in the department responsible for the cards, speaking on condition of anonymity. The cards include a picture of the woman's uncovered face. Previously, a Saudi women were only named, but not pictured, on a ``family ID'' card identifying them as dependents of their fathers or husbands. For cultural and religious reasons, Saudi women do not show any part of their bodies - except for hands, eyes and feet - to any men but close relatives. The family IDs without photos had sometimes led to bank fraud through impersonations. The new photo ID cards will be used at banks. Most Saudi women lead extremely restricted lives: they cannot drive, travel, pursue higher education or get a job without the written approval of a male guardian. However, Saudi women run more than 1,500 businesses. Islamic law gives women strong control over money they earn, are given by family or inherit. The new cards should be popular with businesswomen because they no longer will have to rely on a male manager, father or husband to conduct business. Businesswomen also will be able to use banks' women-only sections, where they do not have to be veiled. One academic said Saudi Arabia, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, has come under increasing pressure regarding its treatment of women. ``Suddenly now it appears they are taking steps toward reform, progress that is from external pressure,'' said Mai Yamani, a research fellow at the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs. Western media have questioned whether the conservative kingdom's religious and education systems produced people like suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, a Saudi exile. Most of the Sept. 11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Yamani said pressure also came from influential women within the ruling Al Saud family and the powerful business families in the kingdom. The Saudi Civil Status Administration, responsible for issuing the cards, has developed procedures to prevent women's faces from being viewed by men other than close family while obtaining the cards. A woman applying for the card must be accompanied by her husband. However, another goal for some Saudi women - the right to drive - is a long way off, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef said earlier this year. Saudi Arabia is the only Gulf state to ban female drivers.
March 17 , 2001 the Staitess times Race and history: It's not all bad news By Han Fook Kwang POLITICAL EDITOR THINKING ALOUD SINGAPORE'S brand of multi-racialism has been in the spotlight lately, which is not a bad thing if it results in a better understanding of what it is about. This is seldom easy because race is always an emotional issue and we all can't help looking at it through our own ethnic lenses. Indeed, after the dialogue between government leaders and members of the Malay-Muslim community two weeks ago, which was brutally frank and open, some people might have become frustrated that there was no quick and easy solution to the problems raised. And that the debris of history, as Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew put it, is so thick everywhere that it clouds the horizon and makes progress painfully slow. Then, there has been talk lately that the Government might have changed its approach to race, that it is now more open to having an integrated Singapore society rather than having the different races develop on their own. This has raised expectations and increased calls for changes to be made to the ethnic self-help groups which, critics say, do not encourage the development of an integrated Singapore society. Finally, all this discussion is taking place amid headline-grabbing news about ethnic killings in the region, from the bloody massacre of Madurese by Dayaks in Kalimantan to last week's revenge killings of Indians by Malays in Petaling Jaya. You could say there isn't a better time to talk about race and ethnicity. In getting to grips with some of the tricky issues being thrown up, I believe it is equally important to put out a strong message of hope and optimism. That the difficulties can be overcome, and that the aspirations of Singaporeans for a truly integrated and multi-racial nation are within reach, if not in their own lifetime then certainly in their children's. Without this message, there is a danger that some in the minority communities might lose hope, so heavy is the burden of history that they have to carry, and so wide the gap in understanding. In fact, although the history of race relations here has been a troubled one, it is not altogether bleak. I would, in fact, argue that the more recent history, beginning with Aug 9, 1965, should give Singaporeans plenty to be optimistic about. There are two reasons for this. First, when independence was thrust on Singapore in 1965, making multi-racialism work was not just a nice slogan to make everybody feel good - it was a matter of survival, and more. It was also a challenge to prove the critics wrong. No one put this across more forcefully than then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in September 1965, in a speech which should be remembered as the rallying cry for multi-racialism here. 'But I say to you: here we make the model multi-racial society. This is not a country which belongs to any single society, it belongs to all of us... 'I guarantee you this: there will be a constitution which we will get redrawn in which minority rights (will be entrenched)...You know it is very easy in Singapore for people to stand up and if you talk, 'One race, one language, one religion', there will be a lot of trouble. We do not want that sort of thing. 'So we are going to get the chief justices of India, Australia, New Zealand and a few others, together with our own Chief Justice and a few of our own eminent lawyers, to draft 'entrenched clauses'...No government can cancel the clauses. 'We are an equal society. You are equal to me. Nobody is more equal than others. In some places, they say, 'We are all equal'. But what they mean is they are more equal - which makes life very difficult. But here, when we say equal, we really mean it.' Not many nations in a similar situation, with a potentially explosive mix of races in their territory, begin their journey forward with such a forthright exposition of what it intends to achieve. Singapore could not have asked for a better start in its multi-racial journey to nationhood. But it is one thing to articulate a vision, and quite another to make it work. Which brings me to my second point about why the recent debris of history wasn't so troublesome: the 36 unbroken years of political stability and high economic growth which followed independence presented Singapore with almost ideal conditions to work out that multi-racial ideal. If you think about it, very few countries, perhaps none, have had a more peaceful period than Singapore to get the various races to live together and understand each other's ways. Without political infighting in the country, race was never used as a political football to stir up trouble in the way that has happened to many countries elsewhere. With high economic growth throughout those years, racial ties have not been subject to the same tension and pressure as they have elsewhere when jobs are scarce and poverty is widespread. This economic pre-condition for racial harmony is an important factor which Singaporeans take for granted but which the Indians and Malays in the poorer areas of Petaling Jaya know only too well. These two ingredients, the political will right at the outset and the peaceful social conditions, have shaped Singapore's multi-racial development. Yet, the outcome has not been as ideal as what some people might have hoped for. Yes, they accept that there have been no riots and there is tolerance all round. But they say there is no deep understanding of the races, no real intermingling among them. And nothing like the integrated Singaporean has yet emerged out of so many Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians. When this newspaper conducted a survey last year to find out how deep the racial ties were, the results were not spectacular. Although most Singaporeans believed that race relations were better today than those of 10 years ago, fewer than one in two would bet their lives on these ties if there was a crisis. As for mixing among the races, the survey found that, generally, the more intense or personal the activities or interaction, the less open the respondents were towards the other races. Many people, for example, had friends only from their own race. In fact, this is also the experience in Malaysia, which has also had relative peace and stability but with a different political approach to organising its multi-racial society. A recent survey by Universiti Malaya, for example, found that more than 97 per cent of Malay, Chinese and Indian respondents did not interact with students of other races. The fact that the two societies, which had chosen separate paths to achieving racial harmony, have not had dissimilar results must reveal something quite profound. It shows, not that multi-racialism has not worked, but that it takes an awfully long time for real changes to take place at the deeper personal level, even when conditions are near perfect. This should be warning enough that we need to be realistic about what can be achieved. More harm might be done if we try to hasten the process at a pace which the different communities might not be comfortable with. You need another reason to be hopeful? It came to me as I sat among the audience in the Parliament auditorium, listening to Malay-Muslims as they put their concerns to Mr Lee and his younger colleagues. It wasn't in the arguments put up on either side. But it was right there on stage during the last half hour, after Mr Lee left, and the younger ministers held forth. There they were - Wong Kan Seng, George Yeo, Teo Chee Hean and Mah Bow Tan - the product of those 36 years of working out that multi-racial ideal trying to persuade the audience that Malays were not being discriminated against. No one listening to them could say they sounded like a Chinese leadership intent on exerting its cultural supremacy and failing to understand the issues because it was looking at them through Chinese lenses. In fact, I do not think you can find any place in the world with a Chinese majority, a more racially open-minded leadership, English-speaking and multi-racial to the core. Change the scene: let's imagine it was a Chinese audience taking up issue with the Government because it was not doing enough to promote the Chinese language and culture. I think those same leaders would have a harder time on stage defending their position and the Government's record. More than all the words spoken, Singapore's multi-racial record is best personified by the upbringing and outlook of its younger leadership, and of the people it has been entrusted to lead. It has been 36 years in the making, but that model multi-racial society might yet be realised.(e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sunday Leader November 21,1999 IT firms vie for new NIC project By Asgar Hussein Seventeen companies have submitted Expressions of Interest for the establishment of a production centre to issue tamper-proof high-security 'smart' NIC cards, IT centres for data capture, and an information database. The companies include Millennium Information Technologies Ltd., East West Information Systems, Energen International Ltd., Informatics (Pvt) Ltd., Visual Computing Systems (Pvt) Ltd., The Golden Key Co. Ltd., Excel Technologies(Pvt) Ltd., Barcode Automation Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., Bartleet Electronics Ltd., Computerland (Pvt) Ltd., DTK Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., Vanik Incorporation Ltd., Ceylon Business Appliances Ltd., BC Computers Ltd., East mate Lanka and ASA Systems Inc. of Japan, Metropolitan Computers (Pvt) Ltd. and Data Management Systems Ltd. The new national ID card project proposal consists of encoding the required information on 'smart' cards with adequate security features, and producing these cards at the Registration of Persons Department (RPD) in Colombo 5. It also envisages data capture such as photograph and fingerprint at the divisional secretariat level, at IT centres. The relevant information will be input into a Relational Database Management System. The proposal also seeks information interchange with other relevant departments, including the Department of Immigration and Emigration and Registrar General's Department. The 17 companies submitted Expressions of Interest only for the pilot project (which entails setting up IT centres at Colombo, Kalu- tara and Gampaha) expected to be completed in about 12 to 18 months after work begins. Following this, the RPD intends to expand the project gradually to cover the entire island. It is learnt that the Evaluation Committee for the pilot project, which includes representatives from RPD, Council for Information Technology (CINTEC) and the Defence Ministry, will shortly announce the short-listed companies. These firms will then be called upon to submit bids probably sometime early next year. Informed sources said if everything goes as planned, the first new 'smart' NICs should be out before the end of next year. An expert on 'smart' cards, Nayana Dehigama said latest technologies such as cryptography and biometry could be integrated into the tiny smart chip to offer personal identification applications with very high security and tamper-proof features. He added that many governments are seriously considering the smart card option for national ID cards and voter registration purposes. "Access Control Solutions could also be implemented using smart card technology," he stated. In Sri Lanka, the present manual system of issuing NICs has not significantly changed since 1972. The production of details in the document is manual and the final production of the card is mechanised. The data of personal details and document details is kept manually in index cards and bound registers at the RPD in Colombo 5. According to RPD sources, there are a number of drawbacks in the present manual system. These include problems in securely storing paper records and the risk of fraudulent activity like submission of forged birth certificates. Difficulties are also experienced during renewals, updating, issuing of duplicates, cancellation, etc., and in responding to queries from other agencies like the Department of Elections and the Department of Immigration and Emigration. These disadvantages, coupled with national security concerns, compelled the government to take a decision to adopt a more expeditious system of issuing tamper-proof high-security cards, with a readily accessible database for obtaining relevant information to help state agencies like the Registrar General's Department, Elections Department and law enforcement agencies to verify the identity of persons.
AP 25 August 2001 Fear of rape during searches haunts women in Sri Lanka- Security forces routinely question Tamils on military ties BY SHIMALI SENANAYAKE, COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Exhausted after a night's work at a busy cafe and an anxious encounter with police, Velu Arshadevi was fast asleep when the loud thumping came at the door of a house shared by the cafe's employees. ``I sat up in the bed. It was about 3 in the morning and who would come?'' Arshadevi recalled asking herself. At the door, the 28-year-old mother of two found the police officer who had stopped her on the street hours earlier. He said she would have to come with him to the station as police needed to further verify her identity because she was a Tamil. The identity check earlier was routine, and -- as always -- unnerving. Police regularly question Tamils about possible ties to the militants who have waged a civil war for 18 years to establish a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's 3.2 million minority Tamils. But what came next scarred Arshadevi's life, and her case has come to represent the worst fears of Tamil women -- being raped by members of the Sinhalese-dominated security forces who exercise control over their day-to-day lives. While the government denies the rebels' charges that Tamils are discriminated against by the majority Sinhalese -- 14 million of the 18.6 million population -- Tamils point to their treatment at police checkpoints as just one example of how their lives are different. A Sinhalese who presents his national identity card usually is allowed to go on. A Tamil in most cases will be detained if he doesn't also have a separate police report verifying his name, age and address. Standing outside her home after the knock on her door that night in June, Arshadevi was afraid to go with the policeman. She argued that her ID papers had already been checked and were in order. But he insisted, and she had no choice. Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the police and military in this island nation have special powers to interrogate, arrest and indefinitely detain anyone they suspect of connections to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Arshadevi said that instead of being taken to the police station, she was pushed into a narrow concrete staircase leading to an army camp. For the next hour and a half, she said, she was gang raped as she cried out for her attackers to stop. The policeman who led her to the stairway, S. Premathilake, now faces charges of rape along with two other cops. Arshadevi's ordeal has brought protests from Tamil parliament members and human rights organizations. Selvy Thiruchandran of the Women's Education and Research Center, a government-funded rights group, said the rapes are another manifestation of a civil war born of an ancient conflict between two ethnic groups, each with its own language and religion. Women's right advocates say many cases of rape or sexual harassment have been reported by Tamil women in the past, but there have been no convictions against security forces except one where the victim was murdered. In March, two Tamil women detained by navy and police in the Tamil-majority northern town of Mannar reported they were gang-raped by members of the security force. No arrests have been made. Kumudini Samuel of the Women & Media Collective, a women's rights group, said many Tamil women don't report rape because they fear further harm from police and doubt action will be taken
Sri Lanka New requirement of identity cards for people in Jaffna (May 2000) New special military identity cards issued in 1999 in Jaffna must be carried by children as young as 10 and are almost impossible to replace. Since April, residents in Mannar are required to have special army permits In addition to National Identity Cards, people living in Army areas are required to have military-issued special identity cards (SIC) "The Government [...] made a commitment to speed up the issuing of permits to allow mobility in war-affected areas. However, new Special Identity Cards issued by the army in Jaffna in summer 1999 have presented new problems. Children as young as ten are required to carry these cards, which are almost impossible to replace when lost." (SCF-UK 8 May 2000, p. 122) "In April 1999, the military took steps to issue special army permits (ID cards) to all residents in Mannar as is already done in Vavunyia. Although the regular hardships and obstacles that the Tamil people in Vanni were facing as a result of this system of special passes was pointed out, the government did not take any steps to introduce a more convenient system […] It was reported that at the end of January 2000 the government is expecting to introduce the same special identity card system to the 600,000 people who live in the Batticaloa District." (MIRJE 22 February 2000 p. 18) "According to reports, the Army's demands relating to security are creating more problems for the people of Jaffna. The military say strict security measures are necessary to curb LTTE infiltration into the peninsula. A new order requires each family to provide a family photograph to the closest military camp, together with three copies of a form containing information about the family. All family members must be present at the camp to submit the forms. The people in Army areas must have military-issued special identity cards (SIC), in addition to National Identity Cards, although human rights agencies say this contravenes constitutional provisions on equality. After discovery that the Tigers were posing as students, all students are now expected to possess SICs. By August, 378,500 of the 525,000 Jaffna population had been issued SICs." (BRC August 1999a) Norwegian Refugee Coucil
HRW October 1996 Vol. 8, No. 4(E) SYRIA THE SILENCED KURDS Another group of stateless Syrian-born Kurds -- including a significant but thus-far undocumented number of children -- are in an even more tenuous position than those categorized as "foreigners" because they are not issued identity cards and are not listed in official population registers. The Arabic word used in Syria to refer to these Kurds is maktoumeen ("unregistered," or "not appearing in the records"), following the terminology that is used to describe them in documents issued by Syrian government ministries. Kurdish children become maktoumeen when one of the following three conditions apply: if they are the children of Syria-born Kurdish "foreigners" who marry women who are Syrian citizens; if one of their parents is a "foreigner" and the other maktoum (singular of maktoumeen); or if both parents are maktoumeen.
Thailand Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1999 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2000.
Posted on April 06, 201 at 09:59:21: Shan Herald Agency for News 6 April 2001 No: 04 - 07 Shans in Thailand holding "the last festival" Amid reports of deportation in view following August deadline, Shans in northern Thailand have been holding festive ceremonies initiating their sons to become novice Buddhist monks. "This might well be our first and last novitiation festival" said a father in Fang, Chiangmai Province, whose 10-year old son was dressed in a traditional garb of a Shan prince before receiving the yellow robe from a senior monk. He told S.H.A.N. he had heard reports about Thai authorities' recent decision to repatriate all aliens who arrived in Thailand after 1985. "That means many of us will have to leave our new homes and farms here too," he said. Thousands of Shans in Thailand hold various identity cards: Displaced Person's Card (Pink) for those who came before 1985 and Highlander's Card (Blue), Illegal Entry Card (Orange) and Highlanders Survey Card (Green) for those who came afterwards. Hundreds of thousands however are living and working in Thailand without any identifications. They will not also enjoy the benefit of entering a refugee camp like Karens and Karennis. 195 novitiates shall be ordained as novice monks at Phrathat Chalermphrakiat Temple, Wiangwai Village, Mawnpin Tract, Fang District today. Another 46 boys are being ordained at Papao Temple, Chiangmai, where novitiation ceremonies, better known as Poy Sanglawng, have been held for five consecutive years. POPULATION:
NYT 3 May 1979 Illegal Refugee Exodus Increasing, but Hanoi Denies Encouraging It By Henry Kamm Special to The New York Times "The most politically sophisticated refugees say Vietnam helps the Chinese leave both to acquire their gold and foreign-currency holdings and to relieve the country of an economic class for which there is no further use. All refugees forfeit their visible belongings, particularly houses and lands, to the state. But the Chinese, a largely landless merchant and artisan class, have put their savings in gold. Vietnam, which is short of convertible currencies, gives the Chinese the choice of leaving for a price or being sent to new economic zones that have infertile land. The refugees say the richest Chinese have probably left by now because the price demanded by Government agents has been dropping. Depending on the region, prices have averaged about seven tablets of gold, sometimes less. Police and Army Are Rivals Vietnamese who did not have important positions in the old regime can sometimes buy Chinese identity cards for two tablets of gold, refugees here said. Other Vietnamese benefit from the Chinese exodus by paying relatively small bribes to the security police handling departures. "
Ethnicity Proposal Stirs Debate On Nationality And Citizenship By Jeremy Bransten Prague, 22 January 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The re-emergence of nationalism has been one of the defining features of post-communist societies across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. But while many national and ethnic conflicts in the area have been fought as military campaigns during the past decade, some battles are being waged on paper. In Georgia, a group of parliamentarians has introduced a bill to restore the category of "ethnicity" or "nationality" on passports and identification documents. After the fall of communism, many post-Soviet states and countries in Eastern Europe, including Georgia, dropped the ethnicity category, in line with standard Western practice. But the idea of re-introducing the classification has fanned nationalist emotions in Tbilisi and raised concerns among some Western observers. Antti Korkaakivi, a senior official at the Council of Europe's Human Rights Division, told RFE/RL this week (Jan. 21) there is no universal or Europe-wide standard on whether to include ethnicity as a separate category in personal identification documents. But he added that he does not know of a single Western European democracy where this is standard practice. The Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, which now comprises 40 member states from East and West, was established 50 years ago to promote democracy, the rule of law and human rights across the continent. Georgia, like its neighbors Armenia and Azerbaijan, has special guest status at the Council and is seeking to join it as a full member. Korkaakivi says the mandatory inclusion of an ethnicity category on public documents could violate the Council's newly adopted European Framework Convention on National Minorities: "The main rule of the Framework Convention on the protection of national minorities, which entered into force in early 1998 -- its main rule and underlying idea is that a person belonging to a national minority has the freedom, or should have the freedom, to choose to be treated or not to be treated as such. "And if there is an ethnicity line included in an identification document, that should definitely reflect this rule -- i.e., ethnicity should not in any way be imposed upon a person. If a person does not want to be treated as a member of a national minority, he or she should have the right to stay out of that." In a recent radio speech, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze called for reasoned debate on the ethnicity issue, but he also indicated he was leaning towards those who favor re-introducing the category. Shevardnadze said Georgia had its own traditions and it was, in his words, "not right to follow the West blindly in the matter." He did not give specific reasons. But observers warn that Georgia -- a multiethnic state comprising tens of thousands of Armenians, Ossetians, Kurds, Jews, Abkhaz and other minorities -- could encourage separatism and discrimination if the bill becomes law. Korkaakivi, at the Council of Europe, says a better solution in this case would be to follow Russia's example. In Soviet times, Russia maintained a mandatory separate nationality or ethnicity entry in identification documents, as did all other Soviet republics. But the line was made voluntary in newly issued Russian passports. "In the discussion that was going on in the Russian Federation some time ago, the end result, which was a discretionary ethnicity line, certainly looks to me like it is much more along the lines of the ideas underlying the Framework Convention on National Minorities. Imposed ethnicity is something that is not in line with the convention." In some cases, of course, national minorities may wish to be distinguished from a society's majority -- to ensure that their specific character and traditions are recognized and valued. But, Korkaakivi stresses, the guiding principle is that this should be voluntary. Korkaakivi notes that in his native Finland the Swedish minority, which comprises about 6 percent of the population, has the right to use its language in official business. The state also funds Swedish-language schools and cultural institutions for those who want to use them. But on their passports, all Finns -- whether ethnic Swedes or otherwise -- are simply Finnish citizens. Different countries have different rules on acquiring citizenship. The United States recognizes the so-called "right of soil," meaning that anyone born on U.S. territory becomes a citizen regardless of ethnic origin or parentage. Other countries, such as Germany, derive citizenship from bloodlines, meaning that someone who is not born in Germany but can prove ethnic German ancestry is entitled to citizenship. Others born in Germany but of foreign parents cannot get immediate citizenship. Those rules may soon change. The new German leftist government is keen to amend the country's 80-year-old citizenship laws in order to grant citizenship to more resident foreigners -- particularly among its more than two million Turkish residents, many of whom were born in Germany. But human-rights experts say it does not matter so much what rules a state uses to determine citizenship. What is important is that, once citizenship is granted, all citizens are treated the same, without regard to gender or ethnic identity. And, as many studies have demonstrated, including a recent survey on Ukraine by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, ethnic identity is hardly a scientific or objective measure. It is, to some degree, what people choose to make it. The study, entitled "Ethnic Re-identification in Ukraine," showed that since independence in 1991, a significantly higher proportion of Ukrainian residents chose to identify themselves as ethnic Ukrainians, compared to official Soviet statistics back in 1989. While some of the change was due to ethnic-Russian emigration from Ukraine, the study shows that if forced to declare a particular ethnic allegiance, most people will write down what they believe will most satisfy the authorities. In case they are of mixed ethnic background, they will tend to identify themselves with the dominant ethnic group in a country. All the more reason, say human-rights campaigners, to leave ethnicity off official documents and let people keep it a private or public matter, as they see fit. Ukraine, like most post-Soviet states, has since dropped its ethnicity category.
Ap 2 May 1993 Greece-Religion By PATRICK QUINN Associated Press Writer ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Despite a storm of protest, Greece may soon become the only country to ask its citizens to state their religion on the new European Community identity cards. The decision, backed by Parliament, has run into opposition from the EC, the government, non-Orthodox Christian groups, Jews, Muslims and leading intellectuals who call it discriminatory and potentially dangerous. "Greece can't be the only European country with such a thing -- especially now, towards the end of the 20th century," said Nisim Maes, president of the Central Israeli Council of Greece in the nation's small Jewish community. But the move has the support of a powerful alliance made up of the Orthodox Church, members of the ruling conservative party, the main opposition socialist party and some leftist deputies. They say Orthodoxy is a part of the country's national identity. The new identity cards, to be issued later this year, would be used to travel within the EC. They will be the only form of identification needed for public and private transactions. The issue comes at a time of rising concern about the role played by religion in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the former Yugoslavia and in the growing tide of nationalism spreading across the Balkans. "I don't believe that Bosnian Muslims were very religious, they were very secular. But ... the fact is that religion was enough to cause this horror," said Nikos Stavroulakis, curator of Athens' Jewish museum. About 98 percent of Greece's 10.2 million people are baptized Orthodox Christians and it is the official religion, even though the constitution separates church from state. The controversy began earlier this year after the government introduced legislation to make religion optional on new identity cards instead of mandatory, as it has been for decades. It said religion would be an anachronism on the new, Europe-wide cards. The church charged the legislation was"national betrayal" and its Parliamentary supporters threatened to vote it down, forcing the government to withdraw it from debate. Government spokesman Vasilis Magginas said the administration would try to resubmit the legislation before the cards are printed, sometime before the end of the year, and after "trying to convince Parliament to accept this."
3 May 1998: Sixty Greek intellectuals, MPs, professors and entertainers petitioned for the separation of church and state and an end to the mandatory mention of religion on national identity cards. (Agence France Presse 5/6/98)
Associated Press [12 Oct 1999] Greece-Religion By PATRICK QUINN Associated Press Writer ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Despite a storm of protest, Greece may soon become the only country to ask its citizens to state their religion on the new European Community identity cards. The decision, backed by Parliament, has run into opposition from the EC, the government, non-Orthodox Christian groups, Jews, Muslims and leading intellectuals who call it discriminatory and potentially dangerous. "Greece can't be the only European country with such a thing -- especially now, towards the end of the 20th century," said Nisim Maes, president of the Central Israeli Council of Greece in the nation's small Jewish community. But the move has the support of a powerful alliance made up of the Orthodox Church, members of the ruling conservative party, the main opposition socialist party and some leftist deputies. They say Orthodoxy is a part of the country's national identity. The new identity cards, to be issued later this year, would be used to travel within the EC. They will be the only form of identification needed for public and private transactions. The issue comes at a time of rising concern about the role played by religion in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the former Yugoslavia and in the growing tide of nationalism spreading across the Balkans. "I don't believe that Bosnian Muslims were very religious, they were very secular. But ... the fact is that religion was enough to cause this horror," said Nikos Stavroulakis, curator of Athens' Jewish museum. About 98 percent of Greece's 10.2 million people are baptized Orthodox Christians and it is the official religion, even though the constitution separates church from state. The controversy began earlier this year after the government introduced legislation to make religion optional on new identity cards instead of mandatory, as it has been for decades. It said religion would be an anachronism on the new, Europe-wide cards. The church charged the legislation was"national betrayal" and its Parliamentary supporters threatened to vote it down, forcing the government to withdraw it from debate. Government spokesman Vasilis Magginas said the administration would try to resubmit the legislation before the cards are printed, sometime before the end of the year, and after "trying to convince Parliament to accept this."
Kathimerini 16 May 2000 Religion off ID cards State authority stands firm against Church, dismisses call for referendum In a groundbreaking decision yesterday that threatens to unleash Orthodox zealots on the streets of Athens, the state Personal Data Protection Authority said Greeks' religious beliefs must not be mentioned on state identity cards. People who want to advertise their faith, Authority chairman Constantine Dafermos said, can always ask the Church of Greece to issue them identity cards of its own, as trade unions do. In what Ignatios, Bishop of Demetrias, called a "ghastly" development for the future of the Greek people, the Authority decided that Greeks' religious beliefs, occupation, spouse and nationality - as well as their thumb prints - should not be listed in police identity cards, which all citizens are obliged to carry lest they be detained temporarily by the police. Dafermos said he would be forwarding the decision - which, according to three-year-old legislation on the release of personal data, the government has to adopt - to the Public Order Ministry, so that local police departments can be briefed on what data to include in the ID cards they issue. Speaking to journalists after the three-hour meeting, Dafermos noted that people's religious beliefs and occupations are subject to change at any time and cannot be regarded as proof of their identity. He said it would be discriminatory to comply with the desires of the Church and make the use of such data optional. "If it was up to card bearers, then PASOK supporters would want their political beliefs stated on their identity cards, now that the party is in power," he said. Thumb prints must also be excluded, Dafermos said, as "according to common perception, such data denote criminal activity." But new ID cards will mention their bearers' blood group. The Church was horrified. "We will become a minority that is persecuted within the European Union," Ignatios said. On Sunday, Archbishop Christodoulos also complained of persecution by "rabid hounds," calling on the government to hold a referendum on the matter. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, however, ruled this out yesterday while stressing that Church and State have their own, separate businesses to attend to. More ominously, he noted that Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos - under attack from Church officials for his support for a more secular state - does not function independently of the government. Today's hearing in Athens on a suit calling for the banning of former Communist MP Mimis Androulakis's allegedly "blasphemous" book "M to the power of n" could provide an opportunity for Greece's voluble Christian zealots to formulate their own response.
http://www.errc.org/rr_sum1998/editorial.shtml An article by the Executive Director of the European Roma Rights Center, Dimitrina Petrova Last May 1998, during my field research in Greece, I found that thousands upon thousands of Roma possess ID cards on which the word 'agrammatos' (illiterate) looms beside the person's photograph. A degrading policy, reflecting a no less degrading reality. Roma of all ages who have never been in school - even for one day - travel the roads of Greece today, in the company of others who have been in school for a year or two. In the former communist countries, complete illiteracy is rare among Romani adults. Under the communist policies of heading toward full social and ethnic homogeneity, featuring eradication of nomadism, unemployment and illiteracy, much at the price of wiping out traditional Romani cultures, Romani children were enrolled in schools as a matter of course.
"ECRI comes down against religion on IDs" 29 June 2000 Kathimerini (28.06.2000)HRWF (29.06.2000) - Website http://www.hrwf.net/ - Email email@example.com - Non-Orthodox religions in Greece are subject to discrimination, and any references to religious beliefs on state identity cards only reinforce discrimination. These points were included in the findings of a report released yesterday in Strasbourg by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the expert body of the Council of Europe in combating racism.The commission notes that in Greece, where the prevailing religion according to the constitution is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church, that "although the constitution provides for freedom of religion, non-Orthodox religious - notably other Christian - groups have faced administrative obstacles and legal restrictions on religious practice, and members often experience intolerant behavior and sometimes discrimination." State IDs ECRI recommends, as it did in its previous report, that "any reference to religion be removed from identity cards, in order to limit overt or covert discrimination against members of non-Orthodox religions, who may in some cases be considered less 'Greek' than Orthodox ethnic Greeks." The report comes at an uneasy time for Greece, when State and Church have engaged in a public "debate" over the government's decision to eliminate the slot of religious beliefs on the state identity cards, with the Church having staged mass rallies and demanding talks with the government. According to the commission, problems faced by non-Orthodox religious groups in Greece included "difficulties in obtaining and executing building permits and opening places of worship," while "some members of these religious groups have also been arrested on grounds of proselytism." "The European Court of Human Rights has found Greece in violation of religious freedom in cases concerning these matters," ECRI says. ECRI underlines that "although the situation in these areas is reported to be improving, for example as concerns prosecutions for proselytism, the ECRI considers that considerable efforts are still needed to fully guarantee freedom of religion to minority religious groups and to promote a climate of tolerance."
Kathimerini 19 July 2000 New ID cards to be issued from Monday The government's decision to scrap the mentioning of religion as well as other personal details from state-issue identity cards will apply to cards issued from next Monday, July 24. The decision was signed by the ministries of public order and finance on Monday and is to be sent to police stations within the next few days, advising them of the new format which has prompted strong opposition from the Church of Greece, the conservative opposition and even some deputies from the ruling PASOK party. People who already have cards do not need to replace them. Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris declined to comment yesterday on the Church leadership's statement condemning the "autocratic" move by the government but said that the Church's rallies and decision to collect signatures demanding the option of declaring religion on the cards had divided the Greek people. Regarding the question of redistributing monastery land to landless people, Hytiris said ominously: "This is one of the subjects connected to Church-State relations and... we think that a dialogue on this should be held as soon as possible." The main opposition New Democracy party's parliamentary spokesman Prokopis Pavlopoulos accused the government of "burying its head in the sand" and of irresponsibility. Bishop Anthimos of Alexandroupolis said the government's insistence on removing religion from the cards was a "big mistake." Holy Association of Clerics of Greece president Evstathios Kollas said he doubted that the Church would send a representative to celebrations on July 24 to mark the restoration of democracy in Greece in 1974 after a seven-year dictatorship.
Sunday, July 23 2000 16:08 20 Tammuz 5760 ID card religion labels spark controversy in Greece Front Page Feature By Marilyn Henry SALONIKA (July 23) - After 39 years, Moses Constantinis of Athens intends to get a new identity card. The laminated blue card he carries in his wallet shows a serious young man with a full head of dark hair, not the balding man with tufts of gray around his ears. Since the day he got it from Greek authorities in 1961, that card has been an irritant. When Constantinis, now 68, shows it to bank clerks when he withdraws cash, or to postal authorities when he retrieves a parcel, he braces for the occasional snide comment after officials glance at the card and its notation of his religion: "Israelite." But now, under prodding from the European Union, Greece says it will change its identity cards and remove the slot that for a half-century has designated a citizen's religion. "I don't know if I am going to be the first or second in line, but I am definitely going to get a new one," said Constantinis, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece. He may have to wait. The socialist government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis insists it will adhere to its decision to abolish the religion slot on the identity cards, saying the indication of religion violates Greece's 1997 privacy legislation, and harms its efforts to join modern Europe. However, the government's plan is vehemently opposed by the Greek Orthodox Church, which has drawn tens of thousands of protesters to the streets of Athens and Salonika in two rallies.Observers said it was the first time in some 150 years that the Orthodox Church, the nation's official church, publicly challenged the government's authority. The battle is serious. The church sees the change in identity cards as an assault on its power, perhaps the first domino denting its official position and beginning to knock down its commanding ties with the state. Some 85 percent of the population support Greeks' faith being listed on state identity cards, with only 13 percent agreeing with the government that the religious-belief slot should be erased, according to a poll reported earlier this month in the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini. Women, people over the age of 60 and the "poorly educated" were the government's strongest critics, the paper reported without indicating how many people were surveyed or the margin of error. Some 98 percent of the Greek population is Orthodox. The minorities, who are protected by law, are primarily Jews and Moslems. The strong affection of the population for the church is not predominately spiritual. Christianity and Hellenism are linked. The church is inextricably bound with the language, culture and identity of Greeks and with the independence of modern Greece, whose national flag includes a cross. The development in the 19th century of a Greek national consciousness was, in effect, the same as the development of religious consciousness, scholars and diplomats say. In the struggle against the Ottoman Turks, it was a bishop, Germanos of Patros, who proclaimed the outbreak of the Greek war of independence in 1821. Weeks later, Orthodox Patriarch Grigorios V was hanged by the Turks in Constantinople on Easter Sunday. Greece, with a population of 10 million, is eager for full acceptance into the European Union. So the government paid attention when the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe this spring reiterated its call - for the second time in four years - for Greece to remove the religion entry on identity cards. Such a change would "limit overt or covert discrimination against members of non-Orthodox religions, who may in some cases be considered less Greek than Orthodox ethnic Greeks," the commission said. The commission was not referring to any specific problems concerning the Greek Jews. However, its review of Greece noted that: "Although there are no reports of problems in the exercise of freedom of religion by the Jewish communities in Greece, antisemitic material often appears in the extreme right-wing media, and antisemitic undertones have also surfaced from time to time in public debate." The Jewish community long has opposed the listing of religion, noting that religion did not appear on other important official documents, such as military identity cards. Delegations of visitors, such as one from the American Jewish Committee two years ago, would meet with government and church officials and mention communal opposition to the designation of religion on the cards. This year, however, the Jewish community has taken a low profile, Constantinis said. This was an EU matter, and there were powerful voices in secular intellectual circles siding with the government against the church. However, that has not stopped some segments of society from turning this into a Jewish issue. There has been a spate of vandalism at Jewish sites, including an attack in May at the Athens cemetery that defaced some 90 graves. The weekly newspaper Orthodox Press had a recent headline saying, "Jewish plot behind the IDs." Recent church-led rallies had an anti-Jewish flavor, and fliers were distributed saying that Jews were pressuring the government to change the cards. "This has not become a Jewish issue [in society], but the fanatic Christian Orthodox think we are to blame," Constantinis said. "History has proven even here in Greece that Jews are an easy target." "The Greek church and people are one and the same. Greeks are Christian Orthodox," the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, said at a news conference in May. Then he added, Jews "have no reason to be scared." Although the identity cards are now creating fissures, they also figure prominently in Jewish gratitude toward and pride in the Orthodox Church. The religion slot that is now causing the commotion saved Jews during World War II, when the church provided false identity cards. Nonetheless, the bogus cards did not rescue many from the Nazis. Before the war, there were some 80,000 Jews in Greece in 26 communities. Today, the Jewish population is about 5,000, primarily in Athens and Salonika. In Athens, the Jewish Museum proudly notes a letter of March 23, 1943, wherein the Greek Orthodox leader, Archbishop Damaskinos, protested the deportation of Greek Jews. His religion, he said, recognizes no discrimination, superiority or inferiority on the basis of race or religion. "The Greek Jews not only have proved precious contributors to the economic progress of the country, but have in general displayed respect for the laws and complete awareness of their duties as Greek citizens," the letter said. "They have participated in common sacrifices for the homeland, and were in the first line of the battles that the Greek nation fought in defense of its inalienable historical rights." However, Damaskinos's effort also can be criticized. It was not a general protest of German policy, but was specifically and exclusively concerned with "the fate of our 60,000 fellow Jewish citizens." "We certainly do not ignore the profound conflict between new Germany and the Jewish nation, nor do we intend to be supporters or simply judges of the international Jewry or its activities in the area of the great political and economic problems of the world," the archbishop wrote. In Salonika, which lost 96 percent of its Jews in the Holocaust, the Jewish museum displays a painful photograph whose story generates an equal measure of wrath against the Germans and the Greeks. The picture shows Jewish men detained near the downtown port, in Liberty Square, in July 1942. They are being forced by German troops to perform humiliating "exercises" in the square. The degradations were intended to gauge how far the Germans could go before the Greeks would react. The Greeks did not react, and the men were registered and deported for forced labor. The identity card has sparked a riveting debate about Greek identity and a quiet, critical examination of Christian-Jewish relations within segments of Greek Jewry that has yet to be sorted out. The political maneuvering guarantees that the end is not in sight. Earlier this month, the Greek parliament rejected a proposal by the opposition New Democracy party to retain the "religious belief" slot as an optional entry, which is a compromise proposal that would be favored by the church. Last week, a committee of the Orthodox Church said it would begin collecting a petition drive in September to convince the government to hold a referendum on the cards. "The issue got whipped up like a souffle," said Samis Taboh, a Jewish artist in Salonika. "And it can't go down because it is still hot."
Kathimerini ATHENS, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2000 NEWS & FRONT PAGE Simitis rejects Church call for ID dialogue With the Church of Greece deadline of September 14 approaching before it begins to collect signatures in an effort to press the government to allow the faithful to declare their religion on identity cards, PM Costas Simitis said yesterday that the issue was closed. "Identity cards are a State issue and the issue is closed," Simitis told a news conference. This was in reply to the Church's call on Friday for a dialogue by September 14 and its call for a referendum. "Human rights in this country are not determined by referendums," he said. Archbishop Christodoulos countered "the poison arrows" aimed at the Church, saying that like St. Paul, he had to defend the Church. Upset by the small congregation in one of Athens's wealthiest areas, Christodoulos warned: "Beware, in case your occupation with the stock exchange, dollars, businesses, factories and drachmas seduce you and the Lord suddenly finds you and you are unprepared."
Kathimerini (Athens) 8 Nov 2001 ATHENS, Christodoulos meets Simitis ANA Archbishop Christodoulos (r) visited Prime Minister Costas Simitis in his office yesterday for the first time since his announcement in August of the results of a Church petition calling for a referendum on whether religion should be declared on state identity cards. The occasion was the visit to Athens of Archbishop Anastasios of Albania. The three discussed the situation in Albania, keeping away from contentious issues.Kathimerini (Athens) 31 Oct 2001 Religious freedom 'improvement' US State Department report sees more tolerance but Greek police must stop detaining Jehovah's Witnesses By Miron Varouhakis Religious freedom in Greece saw a "general improvement" over the last year, according to representatives of religious minorities in the country, a US State Department report said. "Overall, leaders of minority religions noted a general improvement in government tolerance during the period covered by this report, citing fewer detentions for proselytizing; the conscientious objector law; and an effective, well-run Ombudsman's office, which successfully handled an increasing number of cases," the report declared. Released this month by the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the International Religious Freedom Report covers the period from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001. In its seven-page report on Greece, the State Department notes that "the generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom." At the same time it underscores that while the Constitution provides for the right of all citizens to practice the religion of their choice and "the government generally respects this right, non-Orthodox groups sometimes face administrative obstacles or encounter legal restrictions on religious practice." The State Department devoted a good part of its report to the national debate that was sparked by the government's decision last summer to remove mention of religious affiliation on national identity cards, a debate which still continues though the government stands firm. "Archbishop Christodoulos vociferously criticized the government and launched a campaign to collect signatures to petition the government to allow religious affiliation as an option on national identity cards," the State Department report notes. "In March 2001, Archbishop Christodoulos blamed 'the Jews' for the government's decision to remove notation of religious affiliation on national identity cards. The government distanced itself from Christodoulos's statement." The report also highlights the two religious protests that Archbishop Christodoulos organized in Thessaloniki and Athens in June 2000, with both drawing over 100,000 supporters, as well as that the Orthodox Church alleges it has collected 3 million signatures for its petition. In Greece, a country where the Constitution establishes the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ (Greek Orthodox) as the "prevailing" religion, "approximately 94 to 97 percent of the population identify themselves, at least nominally, with the Greek Orthodox faith," there are "approximately 500,000 to 800,000 are Old Calendrists." According to the State Department, of the estimated population of 10.9 million people, some 98,000 Muslims are officially estimated to be living in the country - "though some Muslims claim to number 130,000 to 140,000 nationwide." The report underscores that the Greek State maintains official figures only for the Greek Orthodox and the Muslim religions and, according to the State Department, that Greece is also home to 50,000 Jehovah's Witnesses; 50,000 Catholics; 30,000 Protestants, including evangelists; 5,000 Jews; 300 Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), while "Scientologists claim 12,000 members, a figure observers believe to be high." "Approximately 250 members of the Baha'i faith are scattered throughout the country, the majority of whom are Greek citizens of non-Greek ethnicity. There are also small populations of Anglicans, Baptists and non-denominational Christians," the report states. The State Department finally notes that the "majority of non-citizen residents are not Greek Orthodox. The largest of these groups is the Albanians (approximately 700,000, including legal and illegal residents); of these, a few are Orthodox and Roman Catholics but the majority are non-religious." Although no major incidents were recorded during the period covered by the report, non-Orthodox groups sometimes faced administrative obstacles or encountered legal restrictions on religious practice. According to the State Department, on October 17, 2000 the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs rejected an application from the Scientologists of Greece for recognition and a permit for a house of prayer on the grounds that Scientology "is not a religion." The report notes that, "the Scientologists reapplied for a house of prayer permit in late February 2000 in a step toward gaining recognition as a religion" since, according to its president, "the group chose previously to register as a philosophical organization because legal counsel advised that the government would not recognize Scientology as a religion." The Scientologists appealed the ministry's decision with the Council of State and the case is scheduled to be heard in December. Under the Constitution, only the Orthodox Church and the Jewish and Muslim religions are considered by law to be "legal entities of private law." Under current laws, the establishment of "houses of prayer" for religions other than the Orthodox Church, Judaism, or Islam is regulated by general provisions of the Civil Code regarding corporations. Thus, these religions cannot, as religious entities, own property; the property must belong to a specifically created legal entity rather than to the church itself. Other administrative-related incidents that are included in the State Department's report include certain alleged career limitations that non-Orthodox citizens faced within the military, police, and firefighting forces, as well as the civil service, because of their religion, and reports of difficulties in renewing visas by foreign representatives of several religious denominations, including Protestants and Mormons. Finally, under the section "Abuses of Freedom of Religion," the State Department notes: "Church leaders report that their permanent members (non-missionaries) do not encounter discriminatory treatment." However, the report continues, "police occasionally detained Mormons and members of the Jehovah's Witnesses (on average once every two weeks) after receiving complaints that the individuals were engaged in proselytizing." As noted in the report, in most cases these individuals were held for several hours at a police station and then released with no charges filed, while "many reported that they were not allowed to call their lawyers and that they were verbally abused by police officers for their religious beliefs." No court cases against proselytizing were heard during the period covered by this report.
Kathimerini (Athens) 24 Oct 2001 IN BRIEF Identity crisis. The Church of Greece yesterday said it would draft a directive to the faithful regarding its campaign to keep the mention of religious belief listed on state identity cards. During a session of the Church ruling body, the Holy Synod decided to explain to congregations next month why the campaign was held. A Synod spokesman said there was no question of believers being instructed not to accept the new ID cards - which have yet to be issued - and conceded that "the law may be tough, but it is the law."
Kathimerini (Athens) 25 Oct 2001 (abridged) ATHENS, Simitis's tailor-made Cabinet Prime Minister surpassed even Andreas Papandreou in way he exercised absolute authority Man with the plans. Prime Minister Costas Simitis, well into his sixth year in office, has just reshuffled his Cabinet in his own image. From now, any credit - or blame - will be his. By Stavros Lygeros Kathimerini The government reshuffle is by definition a decision for the prime minister, but this time he exercised absolute authority, surpassing even the leadership style of Andreas Papandreou in his heyday. Costas Simitis distributed the portfolios solely on the basis of his own criteria, meaning that he assumes entire responsibility, without recourse to any of the excuses used in the past. .... Revenge is a dish that is best eaten cold. Dissenters dropped in the reshuffle Three ministers, one deputy minister (Elisavet Papazoe) and nine deputy ministers in the previous administration are not on the new Cabinet list. Christos Papoutsis, the former merchant marine minister and European commissioner, had made statements critical of the reformist bloc, particularly within the various PASOK committees. Therefore his stance toward the party leader from his place on the party's Executive Bureau will prove to be exceptionally interesting. The removal of former Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos, one of the most controversial due to the dispute with the Church over the removal of the mention of religion from state identity cards, was only to be expected, as was that of Miltiades Papaioannou, the former labor minister.... Following his call for a "clear mandate" at the party congress earlier this month, Prime Minister Costas Simitis chose not to give ministries to cadres who had either criticized him over the past year or who had been actively supportive of Akis Tsochadzopoulos, the former defense minister, in the period before the party congress. IRIN 8 Oct 2001 Foreigners to Be Registered The Department of Immigration and Nationalities Affairs has finalized preparations to register foreigners living in Ethiopia, Ethiopian radio reported on 5 October. All foreign nationals living in Addis Ababa, permanently or temporarily, were required to register between 8 and 17 October, said the radio. Foreigners with resident permits are required to present a residence permit card and two photographs, while non-residents are required to bring in their passports. Foreign nationals with diplomatic status are exempted from the exercise. The schedule for registration of foreign nationals living outside Addis Ababa would be announced later, the radio said. Foreigners who fail to register within the specified time will face the relevant immigration laws.
AP 28 August 2001 Greek Church in ID Card Hassle By PATRICK QUINN, ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The powerful Greek Orthodox Church on Tuesday demanded a nationwide referendum be held on the government's decision to strip religion from state identity cards. Church leader Archbishop Christodoulos released the final tally of a yearlong petition drive against the decision - more than 3 million signatures, or 27 percent of Greece's population. ``We call on the government to go forward and hold a free and peaceful referendum so the people can express their will,'' Christodoulos said. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas ruled out a referendum. ``We are not concerned by the number of signatures,'' Reppas said. ``This discussion is at an end for us.'' The government abolished the religion entry on state-issued mandatory ID cards in May 2000, saying the changes were needed to conform with European Union standards on privacy protection and civil rights. Greece's religious minorities, including Jews, Muslims and Roman Catholics, welcomed the decision as a way to curb alleged religious discrimination. The church strongly objected and accused the government of trying to undermine the role of religion in Greece, where more than 97 percent of the native-born population of 11 million people is baptized as Orthodox Christians. Last year, Christodoulos led more than 500,000 demonstrators in two huge rallies against the changes. A repeat of the demonstrations could increase pressure on the Socialist government of Premier Costas Simitis, which has hit all-time lows in popularity polls. Christodoulos said he planned to make a direct appeal Wednesday to President Costis Stephanopoulos, who is respected but holds only ceremonial power and cannot reverse government measures.
Ap 2 May 1993 Greece-Religion By PATRICK QUINN Associated Press Writer ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Despite a storm of protest, Greece may soon become the only country to ask its citizens to state their religion on the new European Community identity cards. The decision, backed by Parliament, has run into opposition from the EC, the government, non-Orthodox Christian groups, Jews, Muslims and leading intellectuals who call it discriminatory and potentially dangerous. "Greece can't be the only European country with such a thing -- especially now, towards the end of the 20th century," said Nisim Maes, president of the Central Israeli Council of Greece in the nation's small Jewish community. But the move has the support of a powerful alliance made up of the Orthodox Church, members of the ruling conservative party, the main opposition socialist party and some leftist deputies. They say Orthodoxy is a part of the country's national identity. The new identity cards, to be issued later this year, would be used to travel within the EC. They will be the only form of identification needed for public and private transactions. The issue comes at a time of rising concern about the role played by religion in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the former Yugoslavia and in the growing tide of nationalism spreading across the Balkans. "I don't believe that Bosnian Muslims were very religious, they were very secular. But ... the fact is that religion was enough to cause this horror," said Nikos Stavroulakis, curator of Athens' Jewish museum. About 98 percent of Greece's 10.2 million people are baptized Orthodox Christians and it is the official religion, even though the constitution separates church from state. The controversy began earlier this year after the government introduced legislation to make religion optional on new identity cards instead of mandatory, as it has been for decades. It said religion would be an anachronism on the new, Europe-wide cards. The church charged the legislation was"national betrayal" and its Parliamentary supporters threatened to vote it down, forcing the government to withdraw it from debate. Government spokesman Vasilis Magginas said the administration would try to resubmit the legislation before the cards are printed, sometime before the end of the year, and after "trying to convince Parliament to accept this."
3 May 1998: Sixty Greek intellectuals, MPs, professors and entertainers petitioned for the separation of church and state and an end to the mandatory mention of religion on national identity cards. (Agence France Presse 5/6/98)
Kathimerini (Athens) 3 Apr 2001 Archbishop Christodoulos's claims to have discovered on the Internet evidence of an international Jewish plot to remove mention of religion from Greek state identity cards drew a pained response from Greek Jews, according to correspondence released yesterday. This was sharply dismissed by the Orthodox Church leader, who said anti-Jewish sentiment predated Christianity, being explicable on "purely theological grounds." In a letter published on the Church of Greece's Internet site, the Central Jewish Council of Greece said remarks of the kind Christodoulos made during an interview with To Vima daily on March 15 foster anti-semitic sentiment. In the interview, the archbishop of Athens and all Greece had said, regarding the government's controversial decision to abolish the faith slot from police ID cards: "Do you know who is behind the identity card matter? The Jews, and for the first time we have evidence of that." The 62-year-old church leader claimed he got wind of the plot on an Internet page belonging to the World Jewish Council, adding that international Jewry had also badgered the government into building a monument to the Jews of Salonica that were killed in German World War II concentration camps. "Remarks with such a content... lead to the creation of a general anti-semitic mood," the Central Jewish Council of Greece said in a letter to the archbishop dated March 20. "The results of such a mood can include vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and institutions, which even you yourself are forced to condemn." And the council said it could not understand why Christodoulos linked "as (he) should not have" the ID card issue with the monument "to the 60,000 Greek Jews of Thessaloniki who died in Nazi camps." Last month, Government Spokesman Dimitris Reppas dismissed the archbishop's comments as falsehoods that "cause problems to the country's international image." Christodoulos said the Jewish council's letter caused him pain to read, in a response dated March 26. "It was with pain that I read your letter, which I can only describe as a result of weak faith and memory," he said. "Anti-semitism is described in the Bible... it has a purely theological explanation and is clearly pre-Christian," he added. "Throughout the centuries, the enemies of the Jews did not wait for identity cards to be issued in order to organize their extermination. Nor were the only Jews led to crematoria those who had identity cards." The archbishop said he found the fact that the council had written to him citing "journalists' articles," instead of mentioning "the word of the Lord" most worrying. "I enjoin you not to abandon the faith of your ancestors, and continue to have their faith and its Truth as your guide and protector." And he noted that he had never accused Jews of acting in secret against Christians. "It was not Jews but Greek politicians who acted in secret, hiding from the people which interests they were serving and why," Christodoulos said.
KATHIMERINI (Athens) 26 June 2001 Citing the government's internal political problems and international developments, the Church of Greece yesterday said it would refrain from presenting the results of its campaign to keep religious belief on state identity cards. But a Church announcement warned that it would be "imprudent" for the government to continue its "unfair" attacks. It had been due to announce tomorrow how many people have signed its petition for a referendum on whether the slot should be restored on the blue plastic cards. The Church had double-checked its figures, and was to present them to President Costis Stephanopoulos on Thursday. "By no means does the Church of Greece desire at this point to have its actions on the ID issue construed or unfairly interpreted as a direct or indirect intervention in politics," Archbishop Christodoulos said after a session of the Holy Synod. "It does not want to become part of any political problem," he added. "It will not furnish an occasion, pretext or opportunity for games, by local officials or international powers." Church sources said the announcement would be made in the fall. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas hailed the announcement as "a positive development." "What is particularly welcome is that the Church leadership makes it clear that it is not - and will not become - part of a political game," he added. Yesterday, Church sources said over 3.1 million people have signed the referendum petition, which was launched on September 14 and ended at the end of April. Christodoulos said the results were "impressive." And he warned that "until the Church defines the new date for the presentation of the results, any continuation of the subversive and unfair attacks against it will be an imprudent act." Christodoulos said it was a shame the announcement had to be postponed. "The forces of godlessness and the enemies of our traditions, a gang of persons cut off from our people, have managed to entice those in power into trampling on the self-evident," he said. "As a result, time is being lost in confrontations, energy is being wasted and the spiritual balance of a faithful and industrious people is being disturbed."
KATHIMERINI (Athens) 29 June 2001 Court decisions come and go, Church of Greece officials said yesterday, commenting on the publication on Wednesday of a Council of State decision that effectively scotched the Church campaign to restore the religious faith slot to state identity cards. "Our only comment for the time being on the decision, which was taken despite a strong minority vote against it, is that the judges too are judged, while decisions come and go as judicial precedent shows," Efstathios, Bishop of Sparta said after a meeting of the Holy Synod, the Church ruling body. The decision, first made public six weeks ago, was formally issued yesterday. It found that it would be unconstitutional to list religious faith on ID cards, even if card bearers wanted to. The Church, which insists it should be optional, says over three million Greeks have signed its petition for a referendum on the question. "The authorities must either hold a referendum... or table a new law," Efstathios said. Holy See
Agence France Presse , June 09, 2000 Kosovo minorities still suffering one year after war PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, June 9 (AFP) - Kosovo´s minority Serbs and Roma gypsies are still suffering from a lack of security and freedom of movement one year after the UN took over the province, according to a report published Friday. The report by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said minorities in the Yugoslav province are still subject to violence and limited public services. While it points to some signs of hope, such as Roma participation in the consultative Kosovo Transitional Council, the report is generally downbeat after a year of UN administration. Criminal activity remains "unacceptably high," with minorities suffering a disproportionate number of attacks and violence a "prominent feature of minorities´ everyday life," the assessment said. It blamed the situation on a continued shortfall of UN police, despite continued appeals from UN mission head Bernard Kouchner, and on a "lack of a functioning and impartial judicial system." Revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians directed against Serbs and Roma have been frequent since the UN and KFOR international peacekeepers took over Kosovo last June. Some 240,000 non-Albanians have fled the province. The report cited the case of a Serb man found dead near the northeast town of Podujevo in February, shot in the mouth and eye with his seatbelt wrapped around his neck and his identity card pinned to his chest. An added effect of the violence has been a restriction in minorities´ freedom of movement, which has affected health care, education and other social services. "In the worst cases, minority populations remain trapped in their enclaves or even in their homes, unable to venture out without a heavily armed escort," the report said. Serb children in Pristina have to be bussed under KFOR escort to overcrowded schools in nearby Serb villages, while many Serbs cannot visit normal health care facilities. Many have to go to special facilities in KFOR-guarded enclaves or even go to Serbia for treatment. The report said it was "essential that the international community find creative and practical ways to ensure that minorities have full access to public services in Kosovo." The joint report is the fifth by the UNHCR and OSCE, covering the period from February to May.
New Russian Passports Must Silence Ethnic Rancour Analysis by Valery Tishkov (*) MOSCOW, Dec 9 (IPS) - The new Russian Federation identity documents and passports, issued from September to gradually replace Soviet-era ID papers, have drawn fire from radical nationalists for omitting any reference to 'nationality' -- meaning ethnic identity. It was Joseph Stalin who decided ethnicity should be entered on papers in 1934, set according to the parent (just one) and it could not be challenged or changed. Each Soviet citizen had to give his or her 'nationality' on all forms. This was the notorious 'fifth point' on the form that entered Soviet folklore as a symbol of ethnic discrimination, particularly with regard to Jews. The first step to reforming this came in the 1993 Russian Federation Constitution, in which the state guarantees the equality of rights and freedoms for all. Article 19 forbids any restrictions on a citizen's rights on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, language or religious convictions. Article 26 proclaims that ''everyone has the right to determine and indicate his ethnic affiliation. No one may be forced to determine or indicate his ethnic affiliation''. This apparently well-meaning initiative has made for some strange bedfellows. Objections to the removal of nationality/ethnicity from the new passports have come from several independent-minded Federation republics, notably in the fractious North Caucasus. Authorities in Tatarstan and Ingushetia have said the republics may now start issuing their own internal passports. They are supported, for very different reasons, by the Russian nationalists and not a few neo-fascists and racists, who seek to preserve the so-called 'state-formed' Russian ethno-nation. Many non-Russian nationalists view the new passports as an attempt by the state to change nationality and to turn everyone from Russian Federation citizens into 'Russians'. Of the 28 million non-Russians living in the federation, out of a total Federation population of some 148 million, less than half live in their own republics. There are as many Tatars living in Moscow as there are in Tatarstan, yet unsurprisingly for a community making a difficult life in the capital, they do not share the views of those who burned a model of the new passport on the streets of the Tatarstan capital recently. Moscow will continue to collect data on the ethnic composition of the Federation population and their native languages in regular censuses, the next of which is due in 1999. The forms including these points have already been drawn up. The data collected will be used to determine the state's policy on a national and local level, especially with regard to education, culture and information. Otherwise, in all other areas -- applying for a job, acquiring property, choosing one's place of residence, an individual's relationship to law enforcement agencies and the courts -- ethnicity is of no importance and employers and officials will probably be banned from asking about it under the present rules. Nevertheless many politicians standing for office have no hesitation in playing the ethnic card. Certain appointments to prestigious positions are made on the basis of ethnic origin. But the major problem remains the potential for further ethnic strife in the federation. Many specialists believe that a free choice of nationality and the revival of interest in ethnic roots could lead to a further 120-150 nationalities emerging with the Federation, especially if federal funds for small nations become available. The groups most affected would be Russians and Tatars. Many Tatars would put themselves down in their passports as Bulgars, Mishars, Kryashens, Kalmaks or Nagaibaks. The Nagaibaks, Orthodox Christian Tatars from Chelyabinsk region, number several thousand and in the past many objected to being listed as Tatars. Some of the Tatars from Astrakhan would put themselves down as Nogaitsy, to whom they are culturally close. About a dozen new nationalities would appear among the Siberian Tatars alone. Several million would no longer describe themselves as Russians, preferring to be registered as Cossacks, Great Russians, Kolychans or Pomors, while many people of mixed descent could choose. Mordova would lose its Mordovans, who would split into Erzyas and Mokshas, as had already begun to happen in the interim census of 1994, although the census does not link ethnic identity and citizenship so closely as a passport. In Soviet days the Institute of Ethnography and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, or the Institute of Ethnography as it was then called and the Soviet Central Statistical Board drew up an official list of nationalities within the old USSR. Today the institute has no intention of drawing up such a list: the sheer fact of its existence was a form of coercion then and would be now. But those that would lose out the most are the groups constructed during the Soviet period, such as the Avars and the Dargins in Dagestan. The Avars could split into at least a dozen groups, but the Andiitsy, the Archintsy and the Beshtintsy are sure to declare their own identities. Dargins, who registered as such when the Dagestani communist party chief was a Dargin, would be deserted by Kubachins and Kaitaktsy, who have their own distinct languages. The complex ethnic mosaic in the Russian Federation is complicated by the constantly changing identification with an ethnicity. The first record of a person's ethnic identity is entered in a passport at the age of 14 to 16, an age when it is difficult to decide which ethnicity to belong to: that of the father or mother, or simply that of the people one has grown up with and lives among. There will be countless demands for entries to be changed and to allow dual or even triple nationality to be entered. Among the other objections raised to the new passports came one from the president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, who complained that the passport text would be printed only in Russian. The rationale for this is the fact that only a small number of people in the country have a poor command of Russian. On the other hand some languages used in the Federation use different ways of writing first names and surnames. Some ethnic groups do not use the patronymic, the middle name based on the father's name commonly used by Russians. One way to solve this problem could be something similar to the old Soviet practice, where individual republics printed the basic details and name of the document also in the official language of the republic -- although this has already been rejected by North Ossetia's president Akhsarbek Galazov. In some Federation republics no official language or languages have been laid down in the republic constitution. In others, including North Ossetia, Karelia, Komi, Udmurtia and Chuvashia, Russian is the basic or only language of the population. And in some republics there are more than two widely spoken languages, and Russian serves as the language of communication for everyone. Allowing republics to the right to acknowledge their statehood by allowing passports in two languages with additional national symbols could be considered -- but the view of the Institute of Ethnography and Anthropology remains that nationality should be kept off the Russian Federation passports. It believes that if the government concedes this, Russia will spend the next 30 or 40 years arguing over state building, with unpredictable consequences. (*) Valery Tishkov is the director of the Institute of Ethnography and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This item comes to IPS via the Institute of War and Peace reporting in London, publishers of WarReport magazine.
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 79, Part I, 23 July 1997 NEW RUSSIAN PASSPORTS NOT TO LIST NATIONALITY. Vladimir Kolesnikov, head of the Interior Ministry's passport and visa department, announced that new Russian passports will not contain the infamous "Line 5," on which Soviet citizens were required to list their nationality, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 23 July. In accordance with a recent government directive, the new passports will begin to be issued on 1 October. All Soviet-era passports currently held by Russian citizens are to be replaced by 2005. BURUNDI: Draft accord criticises Belgium, reduces presidential powers NAIROBI, 24 Jul 2000 (IRIN) - The draft accord describes Burundi’s conflict as “fundamentally political with ethnic dimensions that are extremely important”, Hirondelle said. It trongly criticises Burundi’s former colonial powers - Germany and particularly Belgium - for “playing a determining role in fuelling the frustrations of the Bahutu, the Batutsi and the Batwa, and in the divisions that led to ethnic tensions”. “In the context of a divide and rule strategy, the colonial administration injected and imposed a racist and caricatured vision of Burundi society.” The draft also condemned Belgium’s introduction of ethnic identity cards in the 1930s which “strengthened the perceptions of ethnic differences”. The Belgian news agency Belga said the comments took Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel “by surprise”. He was quoted as saying that this was “victimisation and an attempt to pass the blame off on someone else”. The draft has a number of built-in checks and balances to ensure that the future transitional president will not have the powers that President Pierre Buyoya currently enjoys, Hirondelle added. The president and first vice-president will come from different ethnicities and political parties, and the president will not be able to take any major decisions unilaterally. Parliament will have “considerable” powers, Hirondelle said, including the ability to amend laws on a two-thirds majority. Finally, the transitional president will not be eligible for election in the ensuing presidential polls.
RUSSIA RFE/RL 13 January 2000, Volume 2, Number 2 OPERATION WHIRLWIND ENDS BUT NON-MUSCOVITES STILL LIVE IN FEAR. Operation Whirlwind -- the roundup and deportation of thousands of non-Muscovites, especially Caucasians, in the Russian capital -- ended in October, but dozens of people are still detained, and the police have resumed their previous level of harassment and extortion of non-permanent residents, according to Susan Brazier for Moscow's Memorial Human Rights Center. However, Whirlwind failed in its declared objective: tracking down the terrorists who blew up three apartment buildings and killing some 300 residents. Still, Moscow officials proudly cite the operation's statistics: 2,386 people arrested, 800 shipped out of the city, and more than 20,000 who applied to reregister as residents refused. Recently, the city opened a hotline for Chechens for complaints, and the police supposedly received an order to be sensitive to minority communities, Brazier reports. "The Moscow Times" quoted human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina of the NGO Civic Assistance as saying that lately the "madness" has decreased, but there is no "radical change." (Indeed, the expulsion of "persons of Caucasus nationality" from Moscow has been going on since October 1993. That decree, issued by Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, has not been rescinded.) One crisis has passed, Brazier writes, but "migrants and refugees are still subject to the whims of a police force whose racism and brutality is well-documented and a government that refuses to bring it into line." Until those problems are addressed and while Russia wages war against Chechnya, "thousands of people wait in trepidation for the next time a new policy, a new terrorist act, or a political whim means another wave of ethnically targeted humiliation, arrest, and abuse."
Human Rights Watch Date: 22 Jan 2001 -- Field Update on Chechnya With major military clashes between Russian and Chechen forces ending in spring 2000, civilian lives in Chechnya are blighted by Russian forces who detain, torture, extort, and harass them on a daily basis; and by Chechen rebels who target civilians who cooperate with the Russian administration, and who bomb Russian positions in densely populated areas. Even though civilians are far less frequently the victims of indiscriminate bombing and shelling than they were in the early months of the war, (1) they still face the daily risk of torture, "disappearance," and summary execution. Russian forces now control all districts of Chechnya, except for parts of the mountainous south, where it continues to bomb and launch artillery strikes on Chechen positions. Chechen rebels mount frequent ambushes on Russian government troops in Russian-controlled areas, kill soldiers at checkpoints, attack police stations and Russian military positions, and target for murder Chechens working with the Russian administration. Human Rights Watch has documented violations of human rights and humanitarian law regarding Chechnya in four reports. (2) The most recent of these, Welcome to Hell: Arbitrary Detention, Torture, and Extortion in Chechnya, detailed the cycle of arbitrary detention, torture, and extortion perpetrated by Russian forces from January through April 2000 against Chechens suspected of rebel collaboration. Two Human Rights Watch researchers returned to the region (3) in November and early December 2000 to investigate Russian government claims that civilians are returning to a "normal life," and that allegations of widespread human rights violations by Russian forces documented in Welcome to Hell are "outdated." (4) On the basis of almost one hundred new interviews with victims and witnesses, Human Rights Watch found that violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have not lessened; they have become routine. Civilians continue to live in a stranglehold of fear. Russian soldiers and police on sweep operations arbitrarily detain men and women, particularly young Chechen men ranging in age from fifteen to forty-five, and loot homes. Detainees are frequently taken to makeshift detention facilities such as earthen pits, where they are routinely tortured and denied all due process rights. Many detainees have "disappeared" without a trace. Groups of masked men, often speaking unaccented Russian, burst into homes of civilians at night and take away or kill their inhabitants. Chechen rebels have threatened and killed civilian administrators and are presumably responsible for the bombing of Russian positions that have killed and wounded numerous civilians. All of the abuses described in this brief research summary took place from July to November 2000, a time the Russian government has characterized as a "period of normalization" of the situation in Chechnya. The pattern of abuses described confirms the work of other human rights and humanitarian organizations active in Chechnya, including the Memorial Human Rights Center, a prominent Russian nongovernmental organization. Sweep Operations: Arbitrary Detention and Pillage Russian forces conduct sweeps of towns and villages ostensibly to seize illegal weapons and ferret out those suspected of rebel collaboration. In many Chechen villages, sweeps may occur anywhere from every week to every few days. During a sweep, soldiers typically surround a village, district, or street and conduct systematic house-to house searches. Russian forces on sweep operations have arbitrarily detained large numbers of people, primarily young men, for indefinite periods, often holding them in pits or other makeshift facilities. They have also systematically stripped homes of valuables. The most frequently cited grounds for detention of Chechens is the need to check the identity of the detainee or his or her lack of a residence permit for the town or village where the sweep operation is taking place. (5) Periods of detention may last from a day or two to weeks or months. Russian forces have detained Chechens on other, wholly arbitrary grounds as well; following are several examples: "Sulumbek P." was detained on August 23, 2000, in Alkhan Kala. Soldiers were reportedly in search of his brother, but when they learned he was not home, they took Sulumbek P. They gave no other reason for his detention. (6) "Kheda L." was detained in a town in eastern Chechnya in September 2000 when soldiers found a picture in her house of her in traditional dress standing next to a man with a beard. (7) "Ali A." was detained on September 1 or 2, 2000, in the Chernoreche district of Grozny when soldiers allegedly found bullets in his home during a sweep operation. According to "Ali A.," the soldiers planted the bullets themselves under his couch. (8) Several young Chechen men told Human Rights Watch that they had destroyed photographs of themselves with beards or in military garb to avoid detention. In the vast majority of cases Human Rights Watch documented, officials at police stations or military command posts did not formally register the detentions. Detainees are often held in unofficial detention centers, have no access to lawyers, and are not formally charged; while they interrogate detainees, it is not clear whether police and other Russian forces carry out further further investigatory measures, such as summoning witnesses or gathering material evidence. In the three cases cited above, the detained individuals were kept in makeshift detention areas: "Sulumbek P." told Human Rights Watch that he was kept in a pit near Tangi-Chu for five weeks, during which he was interrogated and tortured. Relatives bribed soldiers for his release. (9) According to a doctor who knows her, "Kheda L." was first kept at a local police station and then taken to the Khankala military base, where she was tied to a pole in the ground. She was ill-treated for several days and eventually dumped half conscious by the side of a road. (10) "Ali A." told Human Rights Watch that he was held for three days in an oil tank and tortured, together with dozens of other men from Chernoreche district. (11) Numerous Chechen civilians told Human Rights Watch that their houses had been stripped of their valuables by soldiers and police officers during sweep operations. In fact, these operations were so frequently the occasion of systematic pillage that many Chechens believe they are carried out not to seek out rebel fighters and their weapons or ammunition depots but for the personal enrichment of the troops. In one case documented by Human Rights Watch, Russian soldiers on a sweep operation in Sernovodsk on October 23, 2000, fired on twenty-two-year-old Apti Vagapov when he ran out of the courtyard of his house. Vagapov's father, who witnessed the incident, told Human Rights Watch that a soldier shot Vagapov through the head, without uttering a warning or firing warning shots. After two months of lying in a coma, he died in an Ingush hospital. (12) Torture and Ill-treatment Twelve persons provided Human Rights Watch detailed testimony of torture they suffered, through November 2000, while being detained by Russian security forces. Several medical professionals told Human Rights Watch that they frequently treat persons who are victims of torture, suggesting that the practice is widespread and ongoing. A doctor from a mid-sized village in Chechnya, for example, told Human Rights Watch that for months he has examined new torture victims every week. (13) All former detainees, without exception, told Human Rights Watch that they had been beaten and kicked while being held by Russian security forces. Many said they were tied up, or suspended by their hands above the ground, and beaten and kicked on the arms, legs, head, and kidneys. Several former detainees said they had been beaten on the genitals. "Adlan A." was detained in July 2000 and held at a police station in Achkhoi-Martan for three days. He told Human Rights Watch that police officers tried to make him confess to the murder of several women. They beat and kicked him in the back, kidneys, and genitals, and slammed his head into a wall. He refused to confess, and was released after two days. (14) "Aslambek S." was detained in October 2000 and held in a pit for four days. He said that soldiers repeatedly threatened to execute him. He was beaten and kicked on each of the four days. One day, he was put on a chair and asked whether he was married. When he said "no," the soldiers beat him in the genitals saying "then you don't need these." (15) A number of former detainees also reported being tortured by electric shock. "Vakha T." was detained on October 19, 2000 in Chernoreche and held for five days at the commandant's office in a certain district of Grozny. According to his brother, he reported being subjected to electroshock every day with wires attached to his ears or to the handcuffs on his wrists, which released a current through his body. (16) Soldiers threw cold water over "Sulumbek P." before attaching electric wires to various parts of his body, including his genitals. He said he was also frequently beaten and told he would be executed. "Sulumbek P." lost much of his sight in his left eye as a result of a blow with a rifle butt. Human Rights Watch researchers saw his left eye, which appeared to have been knocked out. (17) Extortion Most former detainees told Human Rights Watch that Russian forces had extorted payment from their relatives in exchange for their release; sums ranged from several thousand roubles to thousands of dollars, and would include demands for weapons and ammunition. (18) According to relatives of former detainees, Russian forces set specific sums and deadlines for paying. Extorted sums were paid either directly to soldiers or police officers holding the detainee, or through middlemen. (19) "Sulumbek P."'s brother, for example, told Human Rights Watch that he located Sulumbek P. through Chechen middlemen five days after he was detained on August 23, 2000. The following four weeks, he and other relatives collected money for the $1,000 ransom and were compelled to purchase ten automatic weapons indirectly from an intermediary and then hand them over to Russian forces. (20) Some Chechens have great difficulty amassing the required sum. In one recent example, a duty officer at the military commandant's office at the Khankala military base told the mother of a nineteen-year-old detainee that he would be released if she delivered U.S.$1,000 and two automatic weapons to the base before December 9, 2000. Russian forces had detained her son on November 26, 2000 at a checkpoint when he was traveling to Grozny to extend his identification card. On December 2, the woman, the mother of ten children, was permitted to speak to her son for a few minutes at the military commandant's office in Assinovskaia. She said his face was swollen and bloody on the left side. According to the woman, her son said he had been beaten and told her: "Mama, mama, sell everything, get me out of here." When Human Rights Watch interviewed the mother on December 6, she was trying to collect the money. (21)
Kurdish Observer 24 June 2000 Disrespect to Christianity Despite the fact that they are Christian, it was ruled that "Muslim" should be written on the ID cards of the Syriac Ahmet Ozer family, because of the attitude of denial of the Supreme Court in Turkey. The Ozer family will have their children baptized in the coming days in the Swiss city of Zurich. ALI OZSERIK/ZURICH The efforts of a Syriac family to fulfill the obligations of the Christian faith have tripped over the obstacle of the word "Islam" being written on their identity cards. Their objections to this have resulted in the entire family catching its breath outside the country. Ahmet Ozer, the father of two, said that because of oppression because of their faith, the family first migrated to Adana, then Istanbul, and was finally driven to taking refuge in the Swiss city of Zurich. He will have his children baptized in a church in the coming days. The Ozer family objected to "Islam" being forcibly written on their ID cards and filed suit on the basis of Article 47 of TCK 1587, the law concerning vital statistics to the Bakirkoy No. 2 Public Order Court. The court accepted this request on March 3, 1999. But the Supreme Court rejected the lower court's ruling without giving any rationale, and with an arbitrary decision, ruled on June 29, 1999 that the Ozer family must remain "Muslim." Ozer applied to the court because he could not have his children baptized nor could he send them to a Christian school because "Islam" had not been erased from their ID cards. The Bakirkoy Public Order Court found their application acceptable and ruled that "Christian" should be written instead of "Muslim" on their ID cards. But although the family was filled with hope after this decision, they were disappointed by the ruling of the Supreme Court. The court had established that they were Christians The Bakirkoy No. 2 Public Order Court had opened an investigation after Ahmet Ozer filed his case. The results of the investigation were written in the court's decision as follows: "The request of Ahmet Ozer filed as petitioner C.042/01.S.45.K17 has been examined and because the family has been raised in the Christian faith, and because they have openly declared that they serve this faith, and because their applications to the church for baptism have been rejected on the grounds that they are registered as Muslims on their identity cards, it has been ruled that the Islam registration be erased from their identity cards." Supreme Court overturns the ruling The court's ruling was reviewed by the Supreme Court's 18th Legal Office. Despite noting that Ozer "did not fulfill the obligations of the faith of Islam and was raised a Christian," the court ruled that the original decision was in contradiction with the law and overturned it. The only solution left for the family was to escape to any member of the European Union that Turkey was struggling to join. Thus, Turkey is starting on its path to the EU by sending it victims of its failure to abide by the EU?s criteria. The Ozer family escaped the country because they were afraid that something might happen to their children after they received death threats and oppression through indirect means from security forces because of the legal application they had made. Ahmet Ozer, who had opened the case on behalf of all four members of the family, said that they were constantly walking the thin line between life and death after the case began being heard in the Bakirkoy court. He said that he was followed wherever he went and was kept under close control at his workplace. This went so far that Turkish officials extending their influence even to Cyprus, where he had gone because of his job and where they had the Cyprus police searching for him in the Cyprus-Guzelyurt forest fire. Already being sought by the authorities, Ozer said also was save by only a hair's breadth from a group of civilians who tried to kill him with firearms. Ozer said that his aging mother and father living in Adana were constantly being threatened and that persons who refused to identify themselves had warned them that "this case will be the end of your entire family." Saved from massacre Ahmet Ozer is the third generation of his family. The sole member of the Ozer family to have survived the 1915 massacres was Grandpa Hizni Ozer, who owed his life to a Muslim family who gave his refuge. The Muslim Kurdish family introduced Hizni Ozer as a Muslim and made this official by having him registered as a Muslim on his ID card. But they did not change his Syriac name, Hizni. His wife Fatime agreed that Hizni should be able at least to carry his name as a remembrance into the future. The family did not give up its Christian faith even when the memories of the massacres were still fresh and raised their children as Christians. The family was able to remain Christian in Mardin, while the second and third generations were able to live their faith more openly.
Turkish Press Review -- Fri, 04 Aug 00 RENEWAL OF IDENTITY CARDS Central Population Administration System (MERNIS) project was adopted by the Council of Ministers yesterday and decided to be implemented. According to the project, every Turkish citizen will have an Identity (ID) number consisting of eleven digits and the ID cards will be renewed in five years starting from November. Interior Minister Sadettin Tantan said that they supported the removal of parts in ID cards stating marital status, religion and blood type. /Hurriyet/ :
Kurdish Observer 30 August 2000 Children held hostage in Turkey due to Kurdish names Rojbin and Rozerin, two children who arrived at Istanbul Airport, are being held hostage by Turkish police because their names are Kurdish. Their parents don’t know what to do. BEXSI GUNEY / NURETTIN BUYUK Rojbin is four years old, and Rozerin only two. The basis for the names of both children is the sun that gives light and life to us all. But now these two children, on account of their names, are obliged to remain separate from their parents, thousands of kilometers away. What has befallen Rojbin and Rozerin on account of their names is but the latest and most striking example of the way in which Turkish authorities have no tolerance for anything Kurdish... Both children are officially registered with the Bulanik district of Mus province. In 1995, before either child was born, their mother Aysel Azar and their father Savci Azar took refuge in Germany due to the repression in Turkey. A year later, they had a son. This was their first great joy. They gave him the name “Rojbin” (“one who sees the sun”) due to, in their words, gratitude to God. A second child was born to them two years later. This one, a girl, they named “Rozerin”, meaning “the yellow of the sun, or the yellow of gold”. Pride in names Rojbin and Rozerin thus became associated with their ethnic identity, which has always been suppressed in Turkey. They are known by these names in the German town of Alfeld, where they live. They are proud of who they are, just as their parents are. The years of exile passed, and the Azar family began to long for their homeland. The application for political asylum that they made in 1995 was accepted two years later, and Germany thus recognized the Azar couple as political asylees. The mother of the family, Aysel Azar, was given an official travel document “valid for travel to all countries”. The days, and then the years, pass, but Aysel never travels abroad. The only country to which she would like to travel is the one in which she was born. Despite the official document provided her, she is uneasy, thinking “What might happen if I were to go back?” She says that, in early 2000, when Turkey’s candidate status for the European Union was officially accepted, she finally resolved to visit her native country, and began preparations for a trip there during the summer vacation period. Rojbin and Rozerin were excited at this prospect. “These are Kurdish names; we can’t register them” Aysel Azar, together with Rojbin and Rozerin, boarded an aircraft on 1 July to go to Turkey for a six-week visit. When they landed at Istanbul Airport, first their passports were checked, and the police, charging tht Rojbin and Rozerin did not have identity cards, gaver their mother a written document stating that “These children don’t have Turkish identity cards; they can’t go back to Germany without getting such cards.” Following these threats, the desire of Aysel Azar and her two children to see their land of origin turned into a nightmare even in their first hours in the country. Based on the document provided her at the airport, Aysel Azar applied to the Bulanik population registry office to have identity cards issued for her children. There she was told that “These are Kurdish names; we can’t register them.” German Consulate: “This is Turkey...” She thereupon applied to the German Consulate in Istanbul. When she explained to consulate officials what had transpired, they were at first astonished, and were unwilling to believe her: “How can such a thing happen?” They then phoned the police at the airport, and were told the same thing as Mrs. Azar. The consulate officials then sheepishly said that “This is Turkey; anything can happen...” Aysel Azar then applied to a lawyer, who told her that “Kurdish names are legal in Turkey; such a prohibition is absurd.” But the lawyer’s efforts also proved fruitless. It became clear yet again that Turkey is a state of law, but not of justice. “Send for children’s father” Aysel Azar, cutting off her vacation, was obliged to return to Germany, leaving Rojbin and Rozerin behind. During her exit from Turkey, police told her that “These children won’t go back until their father comes.” And so now Rojbin and Rozerin, as a result of their names, are living apart from their parents, thousands of kilometers away...
17 april 2001
 IDENTITY CARD BILL PRESENTED TO PARLIAMENT A bill to allow the use
of modern technology in population registration has been presented to Parliament,
Anatolia News Agency reported on Monday. The bill envisions certain amendments
to the Population Law, according to which births inside the country will
have to be reported within 30 days, and those outside the country within
60 days. Besides registry books, population registration details will be
kept on computer. Moreover, under the bill, identity cards will not be confiscated.
Besides personal and administration information, individuals' identity numbers
and religion will also be logged into the computer database. /Turkish News/
MILLIYET (LIBERAL) 5 aug 2000 REMOVAL OF RELIGION FROM NEW IDENTITY CARDS
CAUSE DEBATE Speaking at a press conference, Justice Minister Hikmet Sami
Turk said ''everybody has religious freedom according to the Constitution
and the European Convention of Human Rights. Nobody should be forced to
reveal its religion on its identity card. Therefore I personally believe
that religion should not exist on the new identity cards.'' Interior Minister,
Sadettin Tantan, on the other hand said religion might be included in the
new identity cards. Virtue Party (FP), Recai Kutan also spoke against the
removal of religion from the identity cards and suggested that ''people
who wish should be able to remove religion from their identity cards''.
.7 April 1993: Despite government efforts to make it voluntary, Parliament
votes to maintain the mandatory listing of religion on state identity cards.
Group Classification on National ID Cards
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