The Pak Banker : 2020-08-20

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Opinion Trump's anti-refugee agenda Elizabeth Holtzman William L Kovacs A mid a dire global refugee crisis, President Trump has stopped at nothing to demonize refugees and asylum seekers and destroy the systems our country put in place to protect them. Ignoring his own background as the grandson of an immigrant from Germany, he has poisoned attitudes toward people fleeing violence and persecutio­n, and has drasticall­y--and illegally constricte­d the operation of the 1980 Refugee Act. What's at stake is the battle for our nation's soul, and those of us who care about protecting the persecuted must join together and use every tool we have to combat Trump's fearmonger­ing and deceit, lifting up the voices of the refugees among us. That's why I'm proud to be a part of the newly created Voice for Refuge Action Fund, the first national 501(c)4 organizati­on focused on refugees. Together we will work to upend malignant anti-refugee politics. Together we will put a human face on the refugee issue-by giving Americans a chance to see refugee faces and hear their stories-and the stories and feelings of their neighbors and the communitie­s they live in. It is time for refugees to have a place at the table: to share their desire to give back to the country that welcomed them, to demand fairness and truth from our elected leaders and to have a voice in the policies that affect their lives. Forty years ago, in response to the refugee crisis in Vietnam where more than a million people were forced to flee the country because of their work for the U.S. during the war and because of ethnic cleansing, we determined that our nation had to act. The United States needed not just to welcome many of those refugees-and we took more than 750,000-and provide leadership to persuade other countries to resettle refugees too, but we had to create a solid and permanent legal foundation for the admission of refugees to our country. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) led the effort in the Senate and I authored the bill in the House. With overwhelmi­ng bipartisan support the Refugee Act of 1980 was adopted. It put the United States on record-for all the world to see-that providing sanctuary to the persecuted was going to be an integral and important part of our country's policies and values. For decades, American communitie­s have welcomed these new neighbors and have been enriched by the economic contributi­ons refugees bring, with their strong work ethic and resilient spirit. Sadly, from his racist and xenophobic initial Muslim and refugee bans to his more recent 80 percent cut to refugee admissions-the most drastic of any president in 40 years-Trump has slammed America's door on the world's most vulnerable. And his lies about refugees have misinforme­d the American people. Contrary to Trump's baseless rhetoric, refugees already undergo "extreme vetting"-if the Department of Homeland Security and our intelligen­ce agencies can't confirm who they are, then they're denied entry to our country. Refugees who remain unsafe in the countries they have fled to and those who have desperate medical needs, including those already vetted and approved, have been left with little to no chance of resettleme­nt here in the U.S. Family members of refugees who are already here, who were promised that they could join them in a few months, have now been separated from them for years. Parents from children, spouses from each other. Advocates meeting with policy makers is important and must continue, but we also must do more. We must take up the hard work of holding our elected leaders accountabl­e and change who is making these life or death decisions about refugees. We must work with former refugees and their friends and neighbors as well as Americans of good will everywhere to build real political power. Representa­tion matters. In order to ensure that our values are reflected in government­al policy, we must help former refugees and pro-refugee candidates running for office at the local, state, and national level. We must show our elected leaders there are real consequenc­es to supporting Trump's racist anti-refugee agenda. We must galvanize former refugees and their communitie­s to become more civically engaged in a myriad of ways: voting, running for office, and making their voices heard in the halls of power. Democrats spin "post-office conspiraci­es" to secure trillions more dollars for supporters. Meanwhile, the Postal Service warns states that mail-in dead lines are too short to ensure ballots are received in time for counting. These actions are a recipe for intentiona­lly inflicted electoral chaos. Neville Sarony ter what their religion, be regarded as derogatory to people of color? The soldier's complaint is that the maiden should not have wasted the kiss on anyone other than himself. As he observes: "Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud." Let us assume, for instant purposes, that the Burmese maiden was typical of the gloriously honey-colored people of her country. Far from derogating from her in any sense of the word, the poem glories in everything that she represents to the soldier. He pines for her, speaks of her thinking of him: "For the wind is in the palmtrees and the temple-bells they say: Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay." Nor is it a pejorative comparison between Christiani­ty and Buddhism, for he asks to be shipped "somewhere east of Suez, Where there aren't no Ten Commandmen­ts.…" The "Christiani­ty" of the kiss lies in its adjectival purity rather than its religious context. else to sing it. Let us put the line in context so that it can be considered objectivel­y. The poem tells the story of a British soldier in Victorian times who fought in Burma and fell in love with a Burmese girl. He has returned to a cold, wet London: "I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin' stones. An' the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones." And though he walks with 50 housemaids out of Chelsea to the Strand, who talk a lot of loving, he asks rhetorical­ly, "Wot do they understand?" Because he has "… a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!" He recalls the first time that he caught sight of her smoking a cheroot and then comes the line to which exception is taken: "An' a-wastin Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot." The idol to which he refers turns out to be a statue of the Buddha, the icon of the most forgiving of spiritual philosophi­es. I wonder, can a kiss on a statue of the Buddha's foot, by whomsoever it is planted, no mat- The idol to which he refers turns out to be a statue of the Buddha, the icon of the most forgiving of spiritual philoso- phies. I wonder, can a kiss on a statue of the Buddha's foot, by whomsoever it is planted. any objections to the poem or any particular line within it. In the end, another choice of song was made. One cannot help wondering why the BBC did not ask someone Mohammed Nosseir Turkish women's woes Alexandra de Cramer W The US presents an image of advocating democracy by reaching out to reformers - while at the same time maximizing the benefits from its relationsh­ips with authoritar­ian leaders. The United States has a long history of supporting human-rights activists, democracy advocates and even insurgents who topple their rulers. hen the Istanbul Convention against domestic violence came into being in 2011, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proudly declared that his country was the first member of the Council of Europe to sign it. But it has proved to be an empty boast. Violence against women is not only rife in Turkey but the government now is talking about abandoning the internatio­nal treaty and removing the protection it offers women. The principles of the convention are to prevent violence against women, protect the victims of such violence and remove the impunity of the perpetrato­rs of violence. But since signing the convention in 2012, Erdogan and his Justice and Developmen­t Party (AKP) have done very little to uphold those principles. Indeed, the president appears bent on reversing them. Only two years after signing the treaty, Erdogan declared that women were "not equal to men due to their delicate natures." He added, "Our religion has defined a position for women: motherhood." To add insult to insensitiv­ity, the president uttered those statements when opening a new building for Kadem, the Turkish Women and Democracy Associatio­n. At a gathering of non-government­al organizati­ons in June 2019, Erdogan said the Istanbul Convention "is not on a par with the values of Turkish society" and therefore, he did not consider it to be binding. In an interview broadcast on July 2 this year, Numan Kurtulmus, the deputy chairman of the AKP, said that "as a person who has read the Istanbul Convention several times," he believes Turkey had been "wrong" to sign it and should consider withdrawin­g from the treaty because it advocates improper gender roles and family values. The government admits it does not keep records on how many women are killed by domestic violence. The We Will Stop Femicide Platform does, however. In 2019, 474 women were murdered. In 2013, the year after Turkey signed the Istanbul Convention, the figure was 237. In the first half of 2020, 211 women were murdered in Turkey, according to Monument Counter, a website that documents domestic-violence killings. One of them was Fatma Altinmakas. In early July, Fatma went to the police in Mus, her home city in eastern Turkey, to report that she had been raped repeatedly by her brother-in-law. The case went to trial but the court acquitted him for lack of evidence. Fatma was given no police protection after the verdict, and on July 14 her husband shot her dead to "restore his honor." Organizati­ons such as Turkey's Platform for Families, which has more than 3,000 members, regard the Istanbul Convention as a threat to Islam. Its president, Adem Cevik, has openly asserted that to prohibit early marriage is to defy God and described the Istanbul Convention as "a project to rid society of families." He also wants Turkey to withdraw from the Convention on the Eliminatio­n of All Forms of Discrimina­tion Against Women (CEDAW), an internatio­nal bill of rights for women, adopted by the United Nations in 1979 and ratified by 189 states. So far, public support for that idea appears to be limited, with fewer than 4,500 people signing a petition. The Turkish media have increasing­ly given a platform to opponents of the Istanbul Convention. One of them is Ali Erkan, a columnist on the conservati­ve daily newspaper Yeni Akit, who calls the convention "an imported law" - apparently unaware that it came into being in Turkey or of the active role played by Turkish women in its formulatio­n. Dilip Hiro “At the same time, the Pentagon deployed its aircraft carriers and other weaponry ever more threatenin­gly in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the Pacific. The question is: What lies behind this upsurge in Trump adminis- tration China baiting? A likely answer can be found in the president's blunt statement in a July interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News that "I'm not a good loser. I don't like to lose." The reality is that, under Donald Trump, the United States is indeed losing to China in two important spheres.”

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