Brazilian Presidential Candidate Goes on Homophobic Rant During Debate

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BRASILIA, Brazil — Levy Fidelix marred his presidential race by reciting a homophobic rant during a presidential debate on Sunday.  Levy Fidelix is a conservative and former journalist who has no hope of winning, with a support rate below 1%. But given almost equal airtime to the leading candidates on national television on Sunday, he let rip with a torrent of invective.

Levy Fidelix Image courtesy of pragmatismopolitico.com

The presidential hopeful claimed homosexuals “need psychological care” and were better kept “well away from [the rest of] us”.  He also joked that Brazil’s population would be cut in half if homosexuality was encouraged because “the excretory system” does not function as a means of reproduction.

The three other opponents did not comment on Fidelix’s statements, but his statements were the talk of social media following the event.

The incident shows the challenge of maintaining fairness throughout Brazil’s complicated election process.  While there are 12 people running for President, only seven of them got to participate in the debate, due to their parties being represented in Congress.  Out of the seven, four candidates, including Fidelix, consistently poll less than 1%.  Therefore, even though they have little to no chance of winning the election, they are allowed equal coverage during the debate.

Fortunately enough, the debate was broadcast live at midnight, on Sunday, while most people were sleeping.

Nevertheless, the campaign has been largely compelling and remains too close to call. According to the most recent polls, Rousseff will win the first round on 5 October and then face a run-off with Silva on 26 October. Second-round vote intentions have swung back and forth between the two, though the president recently opened up a narrow lead.

This close to an election (Brazil’s presidential election is next week), most publics expect to hear about front-runners government programs, and rely on them to highlight any weaknesses in their opponent’s programs.  This debate should have been that opportunity.  Instead the leading candidates relied on character attacks throughout the debate.

Rousseff accused Silva of falsely claiming that she supported the tax on financial transactions, even though she voted against it four times. Political adverts during the commercial break tried to reinforce this message of “Marina the liar”. The president said she was the most reliable and experienced of the candidates. “I humbly beg your vote,” Rousseff said.

Neves attacked Rousseff over a corruption scandal at the nation’s biggest company, Petrobras. But his performance was unlikely to lift him beyond third place.

The four fringe candidates stole the show with punchier lines and more radical viewpoints.  That left televangelist pastor Everaldo Pereira, who is running on an anti-abortion, anti-gay rights platform, came across as relatively moderate in comparison with Fidelix.

For more information, please see:

the guardian – Brazil presidential candidate airs homophobic rant during TV debate – 29 Sept. 2014

ABC News – Anti-Gay Remarks at Debate Spark Anger in Brazil – 29 Sept. 2014

Huffington Post – Levy Fidelix, Brazilian Presidential Candidate, Sparks Anger with Anti-Gay Remarks –  30 Sept. 2014

On Top Magazine – Brazil Presidential Candidate Levy Fidelix Claims Gays’ Need Psychological Care – 30 Sept. 2014

 

Australia Makes Deal to Send Refugees to Cambodia

By Max Bartels 

Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania 

 

Canberra, Australia 

On Friday, Australia’s Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, signed a deal with Cambodia’s Interior Minister Sar Kheng for Cambodia to accept some of Australia’s rejected asylum seekers for money. The deal requires Australia to pay $40 million (Aus.) over a four-year period to cover resettlement costs. A spokes person for Morrison pointed out that under the deal only those refugees that chose to go to Cambodia would be sent. The trial phase is set to begin first and Cambodia has said that it plans to take between two and five people from the Australian refugee center on Nauru for relocation to Cambodia. It is understood that the deal could involve the relocation of up to 1,000 refugees from Nauru to Cambodia.

 

Families on Nauru protest the Cambodia refugee deal (Photo Curtesy of The Guardian)

Political opposition groups in both countries have voiced their dissent about the new deal. The Australian Green Party has said that the refugees would be at high risk of abuse and exploitation in Cambodia. The Australian opposition parties have warned that the level of rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation in Cambodia have increased dramatically in recent years. These groups have also said that any deal signed with Cambodia must get Parliamentary approval first. So far Parliament has not voted on the new refugee deal and has only approved refugees to be sent to Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Human rights groups have also voiced their displeasure with the deal. The U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights was not involved in the deal and a spokes person said that there is concern with such a bilateral agreement that might involve the divesting of certain obligations under the refugee convention. The director of Australian Human Rights Watch said the deal would send people to a country that has a terrible record of protecting refugees and has many human rights issues of its own.

The Refugees of Nauru have said that they will reject the offer to be relocated in Cambodia. Those refugees that have been interviewed stated that it was the common opinion amongst the camp that Cambodia is very poor with a long history of abuse and killings. 80 refugees staged a protest outside the Australian High Commission on Nauru in response to the deal.  Australia has also recently granted temporary visas to refugees on Christmas Island, who arrived on the same boats as those on Nauru but those on Nauru now only have the option of going to Cambodia.

For more information, please see:

The Guardian — Australia Signs Controversial Refugee Transfer Deal with Cambodia — 26 September 2014

ABC News — Scott Morrison to Sign MOU on Refugee Resettlement, Cambodian Government Says — 25 September 2014

BBC News — Australia and Cambodia Sign Refugee Resettlement Deal — 26 September 2014

The Phenom Phen Post — Refugees in Nauru Protest — 30 September 2014

Tensions Rise in Lebanon after Army Raids on Syrian Refugee Camps

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

BEIRUT, Lebanon – At least one person was killed and two other wounded during a raid by the Lebanese army at refugee camps near the country’s border with Syria on September 25th. The Lebanese army says it was searching for Syrian militants at the camps. The military says soldiers patrolling camp located outside the town of Arsal opened fire on men who they say were trying to set fire to tents at a neighboring camp, a statement said. Local residents disputed the military’s official version of events alleging abuse by military personnel. However, army spokesman dismissed the allegations as “lies,” adding: “Our troops act in accordance with international standards of humanitarian treatment.”

Recent military raids targeting Syriians in Arsal have led to the arrest of 22 Syrian Men. Reprisal attacks targeting the Syrian refugee population in Lebanon after a serious of clashes between Syrian extremists and the Lebanese army have forced many Syrian families out of local refugee cams after their tents and belongs were destroyed in fires and other vandalism attacks. (Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

By the time the raid ended hundreds of males, including children as young as 13, had been rounded up and taken away for questioning by the military. According to the  Lebanese army, the Arsal raids resulted in the arrest of 22 Syrian men suspected of involvement in attacks against the military – bringing the total number of Syrians detained in similar military raids over the past two weeks to an estimated 450. Dozens more were reportedly freed after interrogation.

“The situation was very bad,” said Kasem al-Zein, a former field doctor for the Free Syrian Army who now runs a hospital in the border-town of Arsal. “The refugees think the raids are unjust because they haven’t done anything wrong.” al-Zein said he treated several patients suffering from smoke inhalation and a young girl with third-degree burns on her leg.

Among those detained and later released after the raids conducted last Thursday’ was Syrian refugee Sleiman Khaled, who claimed he was blindfolded, beaten and interrogated by Lebanese soldiers at an unknown location. “They took all the men randomly,” he said. “When we got there they asked for our IDs, and those who had them on hand were separated from those who didn’t. They didn’t tell us why [we were being detained], only that they suspected we were cooperating with ISIS and Nusra.”

Arsal is the first stop for many civilians fleeing war-torn Syria. However, what was once a site of refugee has become a frontline for the tensions between the Lebanese population and incoming refugees as well as the ongoing tensions between supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Syrian rebel groups. Arsal’s local refugee camps have been badly damaged by the ongoing fighting, prompting refugees to seek shelter in the town itself. Last month, Arsal was the scene of deadly clashes killed dozens and rebels captured a group of Lebanese soldiers.

Human Rights Watch reports that the Lebanese authorities failing to take adequate steps to prevent and to prosecute increasing violence by Lebanese citizens against Syrian Refugees  following  last month’s outbreak of clashes in Arsalbetween the Lebanese Army and extremist groups the Islamic State  of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front. According to Human Rights Watch, The attacks against Syrians, most of them refugees, are being carried out in “a climate of official indifference and discrimination, with the violence appearing in some cases to be attempts to expel Syrians from specific neighborhoods or to enforce curfews.”

“Lebanon’s security forces should protect everyone on Lebanese soil, not turn a blind eye to vigilante groups who are terrorizing refugees,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The security forces have a duty to protect all persons in Lebanon, whatever their nationality.”

Human Rights Watch documented 11 violent attacks in August and September against unarmed Syrians or those perceived to be Syrian by Lebanese citizens, including attacks with guns and knives. In at least four of these instances, witnesses reported that the attacks took place in full view of Lebanese security forces, who did not intervene.

For more information please see:

Human Rights Watch – Lebanon: Rising Violence Targets Syrian Refugees – 30 September 2014

Al Jazeera – Lebanon Refugee-Camp Raids Fuel Resentment – 28September 2014

BBC News – Lebanese Army Raids Syrian Refugee Camps in Arsal – 25 September 2014

Reuters – After Border Town Attack, Syrians’ Welcome in Lebanon Wears Even Thinner – 24 September 2014