LIMA, Peru—At least 5000 people protested in the capital on Monday against a new Peruvian labor law, which discriminates against young people. Protests were held outside of the home of President Ollanta Humala, in downtown Plaza San Martin, and in front of Confiep, which is Peru’s biggest business organization. The peaceful protest has been the third protest against the legislation. The first protest earlier this month became violent as police armed with riot gear and water tanks used tear gas and beat protesters to disperse crowds. Some protesters fought back by throwing sticks and stones, and small Molotov cocktails.
The Youth Employment Law, which has been dubbed “Ley Pulpin” is supported by President Humala and passed by Congress. The law allows for employers to cut employment benefits, such as social security, life insurance, bonuses, and holiday benefits for young employees between the ages of 18 and 24.
The Peruvian government maintains that the new law will not only help reduce youth unemployment, which is four times higher for those aged between 18 and 24 than those between the ages of 30 and 65, but it will also help the poor. Lawmakers believe that because it will be cheaper to employ young people, employers will be more drawn to the idea of hiring new graduates and younger workers. Further, the benefits initially reduced will be incorporated if the employee continues to work for the employer after he or she turns 25.
However, the law has been met with opposition from student groups and labor unions. “We cannot allow the government, through their inaction and the few measures they have taken to reactivate our economy, to claim it has an effect on us young people with this package [law], with these abusive measures that violate the labor rights of the young,” declared Leonardo Rojas, one of the many protesters. Another protester, Marco Agurre said, “Unfortunately the fundamental rights of young people are being assaulted, many young people, this law is affecting all the young people in the country.” Picket signs were used, such as the one protester Cesar Ames used which read, “We are not just university students but also the people, citizens, and hundreds of members of the unions to annul this law and to open it up for debate and a general plan about what the labor law is.”
The International Labor Organization (ILO) has also criticized the new law. The ILO argues that the informal labor sector will not disappear, which is what the Peruvian government has claimed to justify the law.
By Kathryn Maureen Ryan Impunity Watch, Managing Editor
RAMALLAH, Palestine – The United Nations Security Council has rejected a draft resolution on the Palestine issue which failed to receive the necessary nine votes. The resolution would have called for a peace deal with Israel within a year and an end of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories by late 2017. The Security Council will convened at 5:00PM on Tuesday to discuss the Palestinian proposal calling for peace. Twenty-two Arab ambassadors to the United Nations met on Tuesday and decided to move forward and put the resolution to a vote before the Security Council. A United Nations spokesperson confirmed that the Security Council would convene today to discuss the Palestinian statehood bid. A senior Israeli diplomat said the likelihood of a vote was expected to take place either later tonight or Wednesday at noon. The Israeli diplomat said it expected the United States to veto the bid if it were to pass. Palestinian officials have warned that if the bid to win support for a United Nations resolution failed they are prepared to join the International Criminal Court to file suits against Israel.
The Palestinian resolution called for occupied East Jerusalem to be the capital of the new state of Palestine, an end to Israeli settlement building and settling the issue of Palestinian prisoner releases. Palestinian officials also said the draft resolution calls for negotiations to be based on pre-1967 territorial lines, meaning the borders that existed before Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in 1967. “We’ve been deliberating this issue for almost three and a half months. It is not a lack of flexibility, because we took some of the French ideas in our revised text,” Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador said.
“The Security Council has once again failed to uphold its charter duties to address this crises and to meaningfully contribute to a lasting solution in accordance with its own resolutions,” Mansour said when the resolution failed. “This year, our people under Israeli occupation endured the further theft and colonization of their land, the demolition of their homes, daily military raids, arrests and detention of thousands of civilians including children, rampant settler terrorism, constant affronts to their human dignity and repeated incursions at our holiest sites,” he added.
The United States, Israel’s closest ally in the international community, had reiterated its opposition to the draft resolution. The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said the resolution undermined efforts to “achieve two states for two people.” She said “It is deeply imbalanced and contains many elements that are not conducive to negotiations between the parties including unconstructive deadlines that take no account for Israelis legitimate security concerns.”
The resolution received eight “yes” votes, two “no” votes from the United States and Australia, and five abstentions, from the UK, Lithuania, Nigeria, South Korea and Rwanda. Senior Palestinian Authority officials said Tuesday evening that Jordan will request a vote on the Palestinian draft at the end of the Security Council meeting. The Palestinians believe there is majority support for the vote. The Palestinian Authority expects the resolution to receive “yes” votes from Russia, China, France, Argentina, Argentina, Jordan, Chad, South Africa, Chile, and Luxembourg. The United States and Australia are expected to oppose the vote. The U.K., Rwanda, Lithuania and Nigeria are considered to be on the fence on this issue, or may be likely to abstain.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that he believed France and Luxemburg will vote in support of the resolution, which will give the Palestinians the nine votes they need. “I’m sure that the countries that for some reason decided to support the Palestinian move will reach the conclusion that they made a grave mistake.” He said “I hope the Palestinians don’t get the nine votes in the end,” Lieberman said, “but expect that the Americans will” Lieberman said that the Palestinian bid was a political move initiated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to further his own internal Palestinian political agenda. “The move will not achieve a thing but destroy any chance of reaching an agreement,” he said. “Abbas is doing it as part of his struggle with the Hamas and Dahlan and the rest of his opponents and not for obtaining a Palestinian state. It is all for his political survival.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to speak about the results of the vote and outline future steps of the Palestinian Authority, during a rally at the Palestinian Authority headquarters commemorating the anniversary of Fatah Party’s founding.
In an attempt to stop the passage of the resolution Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a number of the leaders of Security Council member states and asked them not to support the resolution. Netanyahu referred to the Palestinian resolution during a meeting on Monday with the Indiana Governor Mike Pence during the governor’s visit to Israel. “We expect the entire international community, at least its responsible members, to strongly oppose this dictate to the UN and the Security Council. What we need is direct negotiations and not dictated terms,” Netanyahu said.
The first coalition aircraft to be shot down by ISIS since the start of the U.S lead airstrikes on ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria occurred last week. A Jordanian military jet went down over Raqqa Province in Syria. There is some dispute over the circumstances of the Jet’s crash. ISIS claims that they are responsible for shooting the plane down. The U.S military, claims simply that the plane crashed and it was not due to ISIS anti-aircraft fire.
ISIS took the Jordanian pilot, Moath al-Kassassbeh hostage after his plane went down. Both Jordan and the U.S have made statements that they are committed to getting the pilot back safely. Since the capture ISIS has published a purported interview of Kassassbeh where he made statements about the circumstances of his crash. He stated that a heat-seeking missile hit his F-16 jet and caused him to go down. Since the interview ISIS has established a hash tag on twitter asking for suggestions on how to execute Kassassbeh, the hash tag has been re-tweeted over 1,00 times. During the interview Kassassbeh was asked what he thought ISIS would do with him and he responded, “they will kill me”.
ISIS is known for coercing captives into participating in their propaganda, so far is unclear whether Kassassbeh made the statements at all and if so whether he was forced to. Kassassbeh comes from a very prominent Jordanian family and his uncle is a former Major General in the Jordanian Army. Kassassbeh’s father has been pleading with ISIS publicly to hand his son back over to coalition authorities. The family has been appealing to ISIS by talking about Kassassbeh’s religious zeal, that he is a good Muslim and that he always flew with a copy of the Quran.
The shock of Kassassbeh’s capture has caused many in Jordan to call for an immediate withdrawal from the coalition against ISIS. Lawmakers and some in parliament are calling for the withdrawal. Jordanian authorities, on the other hand have issued statements that the incident has given nothing but resolve for the cause of fighting ISIS and Islamist extremism. Jordan is a key Arab ally in the U.S coalition, other members include Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE. Jordan has a high security risk, with the ISIS threat present in neighboring Syria.
By Mridula Tirumalasetti Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BOGOTA, Colombia — Head of the Southern Bloc of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and member of the rebel group’s Secretariat, Joaquin Gomez, arrived in Havana this past Sunday to participate in the peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government. The presence of Gomez during peace negotiations represents “a new gesture of peace from the FARC, expressing our determination to advance toward the signature of the final agreement that will establish a foundation for the Colombia of the future,” according to organization’s peace delegation. The Colombian government issued a statement that confirmed Gomez’s trip to Cuba, which asserted that Gomez’s departure “was carried out according to established protocol and with the express authorization of the President of the Republic.” Gomez joins two other FARC leaders participating in peace negotiations, Pastor Alape and Carlos Lozada, and is the fifth FARC Secretariat member in Havana.
Peace talks have been ongoing between the government of Columbia and the FARC since 2012. Although the FARC has declared ceasefires previously, these have been temporary. The FARC declared an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire earlier this month, which would only end if they were to be attacked.The move, which was welcomed by the UN and the European Union, was met with skepticism from the Colombian government. President Juan Manuel Santos called the ceasefire a “gift…full of thorns,” cautioning that the truce was a chance for the FARC to re-arm. The government declared it would not join in the truce. Santos also condemned the attack by the FARC that killed five soldiers in a rural area of western Colombia. He said the soldiers died “defending the security of their fellow Colombians.” In November, the FARC captured Colombian general Ruben Dario Alzate, which halted negotiations and almost derailed the peace talks. However, the General was released unharmed in order to revive negotiations. FARC also captured and recently released a soldier, Carlos Becerra Ojeda.
The Colombian state has been at war with the Marxist group for over 50 years. The FARC, which was formed in 1964, was one of a few guerilla groups that emerged in response to governmental repression of popular progressive movements during the 1950s and 1960s. The Colombian government and the FARC have reached partial deals on the issues of land reform, ending drug trade, and the FARC’s future participation in Colombian politics. However, the issues of victim compensation and ending the armed conflict have not yet been agreed upon.
By Kathryn Maureen Ryan Impunity Watch, Managing Editor
CAIRO, Egypt – Monday marks the one year anniversary of the arrest of Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste who were jailed in Cairo on December 29, 2013 on charges of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and spreading “false news.” In June, Greste, an Australian, and Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian, received a seven-year sentence, while Mohamed, an Egyptian, was sentenced to 10 years. The arrests and charges sparked international condemnation from world leaders and journalism and speech advocates around the globe. Al Jazeera has denied all charges against its staff and has called on the immediate release of the journalists. Journalists and activists around the world have posted photos of themselves holding up banners bearing the Twitter hashtags “#FreeAJStaff” and “#JournalismIsNotACrime.”
Baher Mohamed’s wife, Jehan Rashed, told Al Jazeera that the day her husband was arrested had been the worst of her life. “The sentiment of injustice is overwhelming,” she said. “Baher was arrested on this day a year ago. It was the worst day Baher, our children and I have ever lived.” She continued “It was a dark day. I wonder if the [Egyptian] Army and Police are protecting the people. They came to arrest a journalist, while realizing deep within he is a respectable professional, but they acted as if he was a felon.” Colleagues and friends of the jailed journalists marked the anniversary of their arrest at newsrooms across the world on Monday.
Later this week an Egyptian court will decide whether the journalists have grounds for an appeal of their convictions. The court will start to look at the case on Thursday and will examine the process behind the original trial, a process that Al Jazeera has maintains was flawed. The journalists deny collaborating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood after the overthrow of democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi in a military coup last year. They say they were jailed simply for reporting the news.
The court can either dismiss the entire case, uphold the verdict and the original sentences, or order a new trial. The Egyptian government has defended the jailing of the journalists, arguing that it was not a political decision. While President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is able to issue a presidential pardon he maintains that he will not interfere in the judicial process.
World leaders have called for the release of the three journalism, viewing their arrest and convictions as an affront to free speech in the new Egypt, which the government maintains is a democratic state. United States President Barack Obama called for the release of the journalists earlier this year, urging the newly elected Egyptian president to free the jailed Al Jazeera journalists.
Peter Greste penned a letter just before Christmas from his cell in Cairo. The letter was first published in The Sydney Morning Herald. The Letter reads:
I write to all our friends and supporters from my jail cell in Mazraa Prison, Cairo.
As we approach Christmas and the rather inauspicious anniversary of our arrest on December 29, there is a temptation to become morose over our continued detention. After all, on paper we don’t seem to have made much progress.
The three of us – myself and my colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed – are still in prison, still convicted of broadcasting false news and aiding a “terrorist organization,” and still just one year into prison sentences of seven years for myself and Fahmy, and 10 years for Baher.
But, at the same time, we have changed something fundamental. We – and by that I mean all involved in this fight for justice, including us three, our families, and you, our supporters – have created a huge global awareness of not just our cause, but the far wider and more vital issues of press freedom, the persecution of journalists, and of justice in Egypt.
We have galvanized an incredible coalition of political, diplomatic and media figures, as well as a vast army of social media supporters to fight for that most basic of rights: the right to know. Everyone, from US President Barack Obama to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has been speaking out both publicly and in private to demand our release and call for a free press in Egypt.
But, even more than that, we have reignited public discussion and awareness of the vital role that unfettered journalism plays in any healthy, functioning democracy.
Sometimes it is easy to forget why we need it at all. Journalism can, at times, look pretty sordid, and few of us who work in it can claim to have never succumbed to the more base instincts of our trade. And in the wired world of the internet, with its citizen reporters and millions of sources, it is tempting to wonder why we need professional journalists at all.
But that noise is the reason itself. Never has cleared-eyed, critical, skeptical journalism been more necessary to help make sense of a world overloaded with information.
We should never forget that journalism is not a science. It is a human craft as vulnerable to biases and inaccuracies and flaws as any other. And, at its worst, it can be quite destructive. But the reason we still buy newspapers, listen to the radio or switch on the evenings TV news bulletin is to find context and understanding; a sense of perspective.
The best journalism puts a frame around an issue. It helps define it, clarifies it, and makes sense of it. And, above all, it challenges authority.
In a functioning democracy, political legitimacy comes from the voters. We, the people, hire politicians. As with any responsible business, it is incumbent on employers to keep an eye on their employees and, as we all know, we tend to work better, more efficiently and more honestly when we know we are being monitored.
I am not talking of a big brother society here. Just good, old-fashioned accountability.
The philosopher and writer Albert Camus was absolutely right when he said the press can, of course, be both good and bad, but without freedom it can never be anything but bad.
That is why our cause, as opposed to simply our case, is so important, and not just for Egypt. The noise you all have been making sends a clear and unequivocal message to politicians around the world: a free press is an indivisible part of a free society.
As we approach the end of our first year in prison, I cannot help but feel proud and strengthened by all that has been achieved so far. We haven’t won this fight yet – we are still behind bars after all – but we have made our cause abundantly and unequivocally clear.
And for that reason, it really is a very good Christmas.
So, from our cell in Cairo, all the very best in season’s greetings.