The anthems of protesters from Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement to James Russell Lowell Once to Every Time and Nation – composed to contest slavery and sung against the then military junta in South Korea – and the Hallelujah chorus of Hong Kong’s brave citizens contesting attempts to subvert their autonomy and the rule of law.

The protesters in Hong Kong have taken to singing Hallelujah as their unofficial anthem:- https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-48715224
https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000006569070/hong-kong-extradition-protests-christians-video.html

This is reminiscent of the protesters in Seoul who, with great courage, ended the rule of the military junta in South Korea .
During their protests they sung the great nineteenth century hymn composed by the Harvard Law School graduate James Russell Lowell published, a New England poet and campaigner against slavery. It first appeared as a poem in the Boston Courier entitled “Verses Suggested by the Present Crisis”.

The poem was quoted by Martin Luther King in his “We Shall Overcome” speech in 1966 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=130J-FdZDtY) (sung here by Joan Baez: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkNsEH1GD7Q) and appears in both Catholic and Protestant hymnals. It includes these stanzas:

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble,
When we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
And ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses
While the coward stands aside,

May this anthem encourage brave protesters from Hong Kong to Khartoum who are risking their lives defying those who seek to tyrannise them and who remind us never to take our own freedoms for granted.

You can listen to the London Philharmonic Choir singing this great anthem here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U21b6h8g7PM

Seoul’s protesters who ended the military dictatorship of South Korea.

When a British Court orders a woman to have an abortion, it turns justice on its head, is a gross violation of human rights, and represents the tyrannical suppression of the rights of a family. It also makes a mockery of the so-called “right to choose.”

The unborn child at 18 weeks gestation. 600 babies are aborted daily in the UK - some, up to and even during birth, with the full force of British law. 7 million have been aborted since abortion was made legal and some have had up to 8 legal abortions.

When a British Court orders a woman to have an abortion, it turns justice on its head, is a gross violation of human rights, and represents the tyrannical suppression of the rights of a family. It also makes a mockery of the so-called “right to choose.”

The baby’s grandmother, a midwife, says she is willing to bring up her grandchild. It is a way forward supported by the girl’s social worker. And the mother, herself, says she wants her child to be born.

A traumatic late term abortion can hardly be construed as more “in the interests of the mother” than a well-managed child birth. Does the Judge actually know what happens in a late abortion?

The Court says that “best interests” means that the family have no rights and that a viable baby of 22 weeks gestation must lose its life.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that we all have the right to life – but the Court had nothing to say about this or the best interests of that baby. This is a tragic decision for all involved.

https://news.sky.com/story/woman-with-mental-age-of-child-to-have-abortion-court-rules-11746576

This picture is of a baby in the womb at 18 weeks gestation:

The unborn child at 18 weeks gestation. 600 babies are aborted daily in the UK - some, up to and even during birth, with the full force of British law. 7 million have been aborted since abortion was made legal and some have had up to 8 legal abortions.

Why we must stand in solidarity with Sudan’s brave protestors

Sudan: “This time it’s different”

An article for New Statesman

https://www.newstatesman.com/world/africa/2019/06/sudan-time-it-s-different

SUDAN: THIS TIME IT’S DIFFERENT

By David Alton

You could be forgiven for thinking that the latest violence in the streets of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, is just the latest miserable episode in a familiar and depressing cycle in the region: peaceful protesters, yearning for freedom, being savagely beaten and killed by ruthless militia. After all, there were 14 coups between Sudanese independence in 1956 and the one that brought the unlamented Field Marshall Omar Bashir to power in 1989.
You might also expect the 50,000 people of Sudanese origin living in the UK to be downcast about events in Khartoum. They have watched as thousands of unarmed civilians have been attacked by soldiers who have invaded hospitals, raped women, looted private homes and businesses, and dumped bodies in the Nile.
Yet, they know that this time it is different. For a start, thanks to the internet and social media, young people in Sudan have a greater awareness of the outside world than their more isolated parents’ generation. The masses calling for democracy, pluralism and an end to corruption have also learned the lessons from recent failed uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world. They grasp the importance of having unity and a clear message. Moreover, unlike some of the older generation of opposition politicians, they will not be bought off by the disingenuous promises of the men in uniform.
Today’s protesters understand their place in a changing society, where Sudan’s women and minorities – religious and ethnic – deserve a voice. Their leaders have proposed a coherent and responsible approach to moving from military to civilian power over the next three years. Their concerns cannot be stuffed back in the bottle, even after the savagery unleashed on them by the Transitional Military Council which ousted Bashir in April. Nor will they be manipulated by the Jekyll-and-Hyde leader of the Rapid Support Forces, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemeti. Having initially mingled with the crowds in April, Hemeti then led his forces on an unprovoked killing spree on June 3rd, murdering more than one hundred civilians. His militia continue to patrol the streets, preying on unarmed citizens.
When I visited Darfur in 2004, at the height of the killing, I saw Hemeti’s handiwork for myself. Back then, Hemeti commanded the murderous Janjaweed militia, since rebranded as the Rapid Support Forces and absorbed into the repressive Sudanese security apparatus. Together with the Sudanese armed forces, the Janjaweed systematically destroyed Darfur’s villages inhabited by non-Arab tribes, killing more than 300,000 men and boys and raping thousands of women and girls.
I met people whom the Janjaweed had literally branded as slaves because they were ethnically black African rather than Arab. Since then, as a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan and South Sudan, I have seen evidence from reputable groups like Human Rights Watch, cataloguing Hemeti’s legacy of terror, and the ethnic cleansing in Darfur which continues to this day, although it rarely makes headlines.
The Sudanese authorities have announced that former President Bashir has been charged with corruption. But there will be no peace for millions of Sudanese without justice.
Ten years ago, Bashir was indicted for genocide in Darfur by the International Criminal Court. I have met Sadiq al-Mahdi, the head of the opposition National Umma Party, and he is clear Bashir must be handed over to The Hague. There will be no credible new beginnings in Sudan while the stink of impunity hangs in the air.
Sudanese society has changed, but has the international community also evolved? Will we offer empty, appeasing words urging “all sides” to desist from using violence, thereby ignoring the fact that only one side has weapons? Will we work with our allies to use our collective leverage to apply sustained pressure on the Transitional Military Council and its foreign backers in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt? Or will we continue to cling to better-the-devil-we-know diplomacy, in the name of short-term regional stability?
The Sudan emerging from the bloodshed offers the international community a chance to turn over a new leaf in its troubled relationship with the Middle East and North Africa, marred as it is by our sanctimonious lectures about human rights which are so at odds with our actions. We now have an opportunity to be less beholden to the tyrants who buy our weapons and launder their money through our financial systems. The bravery of Sudan’s protesters should be matched by a new honesty and boldness on our behalf. They deserve nothing less.

David Alton is an Independent Member of the House of Lords and is an officer and former chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan

Why we should support Jeremy Hunt’s call for a strong response to Iran and not lose sight of how this theocratic regime subjugates it’s own people.

https://www.euronews.com/2019/06/20/iranians-are-urging-eu-to-adopt-a-tough-iran-policy-is-brussels-listening-view

Iranians are urging EU to adopt a tough Iran policy. Is Brussels listening? Why we should support Jeremy Hunt’s call for a strong response to the Iranian regime and not lose sight of how this theocratic regime subjugates it’s own people.

By Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool

On June 15, thousands of Iranians marched in the streets of Brussels in support of anti-regime protests in Iran and the popular call for regime change in the country. And yet this was only the first of several marches that will take place in different parts of the world in coming weeks.

The next one will be in Washington DC on June 21, followed by others in Berlin, Stockholm and London.

The Iranians conveyed a clear message giving voice to the demand of the heavily oppressed and widely impoverished people of Iran, who are protesting for genuine change and increased rights and freedoms since the beginning of 2018. They declared that Iranians deserve a much better future and competent government – an alternative that is best represented by the country’s democratic Resistance movement and its leader, Maryam Rajavi.

The marchers also rejected the Iranian regime’s regional meddling, hostility and warmongering. Like millions of their countrymen in Iran, they made it clear that they want Iran’s national assets to be spent on the welfare of the people and not on exporting terrorism, supporting the dictator Bashar Assad in Syria, or financing terrorist groups like Hezbullah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.

Make no mistake neither the activists in Brussels nor the Iranian people want Europe, the US or anybody else to bring them democracy.

They see this mission as their own duty and they claim that they are capable of making it happen with the strong leadership of Maryam Rajavi.

They only expect the EU to stop their appeasement policy because it is tilting the balance of power inside the country to the regime’s favour, resulting in its repressive security forces having greater leeway to continue to assault the Iranian people’s basic rights and dignity. They expect European discussions of Iran’s future to consider the legitimate uprising of the Iranian people and their desire for regime change and quest for a free and democratic Iran.

The regime in Tehran has failed to engage in a fair dialogue with its own people for the past 40 years. It has responded to legitimate popular demands of increased rights with oppression, torture, massacre, arbitrary mass arrests and killings. How can the European Union expect such a regime to engage in logical and honest dialogue with foreign policymakers?

Fortunately, some EU member states have seemingly begun to ask that question on their own. President Emanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel have both stated that they find the regime’s ballistic missile programmes, its meddling in the region, and its human rights violations absolutely unacceptable. And the British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt has called for a strong response to the regime’s malign activities, especially in the wake of recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. In this sense, the EU does not appear to represent its individual member states. Far from echoing their statements of condemnation, the international body maintains a soft approach and merely calls for restraint from all parties.

In Brussels on Saturday, thousands of Iranians and their political supporters from Europe demanded that the European Union External Action Office explain why it did not condemn Tehran after four of its terrorists were arrested for planning to bomb the grand gathering of Iranians in Paris last year. The EU should have taken a strong position on the theocratic regime’s terrorist activity after several of its member states, including France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Austria and Denmark, were either targeted by its operatives or helped to disrupt their plots. In absence of a strong statement on this or on the tanker attacks, the EU cannot be said to be protecting and representing its member states.

The message of Iranians to the EU and all those who are trying to appease the vicious regime is: Wake up! Stop the appeasement policy. Close down Iranian embassies. Expel all their terrorists from European soil. As Mrs. Rajavi said in her video message to the rally in Brussels, “the IRGC and Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) should be blacklisted throughout Europe to make it clear that the mullahs’ malign activities will not be tolerated”.

Today, the Iranian people’s demand for freedom converges with the interest of UK and EU in the region. Thus, we in the UK and the EU must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the brave people of Iran and their Resistance as it struggles to bring freedom, democracy and justice to their homeland and to get rid of this tyrannical, theocratic regime.

It is time for the UK and the EU to open their eyes to what the Iranians want for their country before it is too late, as they are the ones who will change and shape Iran’s future. They are clearly telling us that they do not want the theocratic regime and they will get rid of it.

And if the UK and the EU abandon the people of Iran now in their difficult quest for freedom now, how will they answer to the Iranians when this regime is gone?

Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool, is an independent cross-bench member of the House of Lords and member of the British Committee for Iran Freedom,www.iran-freedom.org.He also writes on https://davidalton.net/

This week’s Parliamenary debate on anti-Semitism

House of Lords debate on anti-Semitism

12.19 pm Thursday June 20th

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, deserves the thanks of the whole House for securing this important debate and for the eloquent way in which she introduced it.

No one, as a consequence of their beliefs or who they are, should have to live their life in abject fear of racial or religious hatred, yet, as we have been reminded, recent research and reported instances of attacks show that far too many people do.

The rise in anti-Semitism, sometimes incubated within the walls of this Palace, is completely unacceptable.

I have watched with incredulity and dismay as Luciana Berger, who inherited some of my former Liverpool constituency, has been hounded and vilified.

It is truly shocking to read reports of Jewish homes being daubed with offensive graffiti and of the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, along with the promotion of hatred on university campuses and through social media. In 2018, the Community Security Trust logged 1,652 anti-Semitic incidents, a 16% increase.

I attended the recent launch of the ComRes polling data on anti-Semitism commissioned for CNN and referred to earlier. It was abundantly clear that we have become far too complacent about this cancer. Forty per cent of those surveyed said that anti-Semitism is a growing problem in this country today; 41% said that Jewish people are at risk of hate speech, while 49% thought that the Government should do more to combat anti-Semitism.

To the question why people were hostile to Jews, the answers ranged from the usual canards about Jews having too much influence, to antagonism towards Israel.

It was striking that half of the adults surveyed were unaware of ever having socialised with a Jewish person. Absurdly, one in five thought that more than 20% of the world’s population is Jewish. Disturbingly, less than half thought that Israel had a right to exist as a Jewish state.

Earlier this year, some of us heard Helen Aronson, a survivor of the Lodz ghetto in Poland, tell parliamentarians:

“It is vital that we do everything in our power to ensure that these things never happen again, anywhere in the world”.

To do that, we need much better teaching resources and, as the last survivors die, interactive learning hubs where their stories go on being told to future generations. We can also do far more to promote religious freedom, using initiatives such as the newly created United Nations International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief—there will be an event here in the House on 23 July to mark its creation.

In 1933, the Jewish writer, Franz Werfel published The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, a novel about the loss of 1.5 million lives in the Armenian genocide.

Those mass murders led to Raphael Lemkin, a Jewish lawyer, 43 of whose family were murdered in the Holocaust, coining the word “genocide” and framing the genocide convention.

Werfel’s books and those of Stefan Zweig were burnt by the Nazis. Zweig’s The World of Yesterday: Memoirs of a European charts the rise of visceral hatred and how scapegoating and xenophobia, cultivated by populist leaders, can morph into the hecatombs of the concentration camps.

Zweig described how university professors were forced to scrub streets with their bare hands, how devout Jews were humiliated in their synagogues and how apartments were broken into and jewels torn out of the ears of trembling women. And the world remained largely silent.

The haunting question remains: can we do better and act more decisively in our own generation?

12.23 pm

Speeches were limited to 4 minutes- an extended version of these remarks can be found
below

The first time, that I raised the issue of anti-Semitism in the House of Lords was in 2001. More recently I spoke in debates commemorating Kindertransport and during Lord Popat’s debate on the continuing upsurge of antisemitism in Europe and the UK.

Like my father and grandfather, I was born in the East End of London where Jews and other minorities historically lived side by side. But it was also where, in October 1936, in what became known as the Battle of Cable Street, Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists attempted to incite hatred against its Jewish residents.

It was a British harbinger of what, three years later, would become all-out war against Nazism. Like millions of others, my father and his four brothers enlisted , one of whom lost his life.

In later years, in the block of flats on a council estate where I grew up, our neighbour was a Jewish lady called Sadie Moonshine. Later, as a student activist in Liverpool the first candidates I campaigned for were Jewish.
Over all the years that have followed I have never forgotten my father’s insistence that we must protect and cherish the Jewish people from the visceral hatred which is represented by anti-Semitism.

That is a belief that has been entrenched by the Holocaust survivors whom I have met; by the site of extermination camps; and during visits to Yad Vashem.

Here in Parliament, a few months ago, in advance of Holocaust Day, I heard the testimony of Helen Aronson who survived the Holocaust as a teenager –

A survivor of the Łódź ghetto in Poland, Helen Aronson said:
‘It is vital that we do everything in our power to ensure that these things never happen again, anywhere in the world.
‘Children must be allowed to grow up safe and secure and not be wrenched from their homes, like I was.
‘That’s why it is so important that you, as members of parliament are here today and that we make a commitment to mark Holocaust Memorial Day every January.’

It should not need saying that no one should live in fear because of their beliefs or because of who they are. Difference is to be prized and upheld, and the political imperative which flows from this assertion is that wherever it manifests itself we must counter anti-Semitism.

No one should have to live their life in abject fear of racial and religious hatred, because of their beliefs, or because of who they are. Yet recent research and reported instances of attacks show that too many people do. The rise in antisemitism – sometimes incubated within the walls of this Palace – is appalling, totally at variance with British values and our way of life, and completely unacceptable. When Members of the Parliament and political parties are accused of antisemitism it sends a shocking message into the rest of society.

These acts of intimidation include nauseating online abuse and violence. I have watched with incredulity and dismay as Luciana Berger, who inherited some of my former Liverpool constituency, has been vilified and ostracised. But I have also seen reports of Jewish homes being daubed with offensive graffiti and the desecration of the resting places of loved family members laid to rest in Jewish cemeteries. And along with others, I have raised, in your Lordships House, the dissemination of hatred and prejudice on university campuses and through social media platforms.

I recently attended a discussion about a survey conducted by ComRes for CNN about European attitudes towards Jews and about the rise of anti-Semitism.

I am grateful to Andrew Hawkins, chairman of Com Res for detailing some of the headlines for me:

• Two in five (40%) of GB adults agree anti-Semitism is a growing problem in this country today, with a similar proportion saying Jewish people are at risk of hate speech (41%) and racist violence (38%) in this country. 49% thought that the government should do more to combat antisemitism in this country:

In asking why people were hostile to Jews the answers ranged from the usual canards about Jews having too much influence to antagonism towards Israel.

• I was also struck that half (49%) of GB adults are not aware of ever having socialised with a Jewish person; and, absurdly, around one in five (18%) GB adults think more than 20 percent of the population in the world is Jewish. And disturbingly that just less than half, 48% thought that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state.

• And as the last of the Holocaust survivors come to the end of their lives and a rising generation have less direct contact with those horrific events, it is noteworthy that only 46% believed that commemorating the Holocaust helps to combat anti-Semitism today; while, in a similar survey in the United States respondents under 40 years of age were 31% less likely to believe that the Holocaust even occurred.

Then when it comes to how Jewish people see themselves and anti-Semitism note that according to the Fundamental Rights Agency Survey conducted in May–June 2018 on nearly 16,500 people who considered themselves Jewish (and covering 12 EU countries that are home to over 96% of the EU’s estimated Jewish population):

– On average, 39% of all respondents experienced some form of antisemitic harassment in the five years before the survey. More than one quarter (28%) encountered such harassment in the twelve months before the survey.
– Across the twelve countries surveyed, 3% of all respondents personally experienced a physical attack because they are Jewish in the five years before the survey. In the twelve months before the survey, 2% of all respondents experienced a physical attack because they are Jewish.
– Across the twelve countries surveyed, 4% of all respondents said that their property was deliberately vandalised because they are Jewish in the five years before the survey; 2% experienced this in the twelve months before the survey.

Now recall, beyond Europe that the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, during the Shabbat morning service on 27 October 2018, claimed 11 lives.

In the UK, last year only, there were 1,652 antisemitic incidents logged by the Community Security Trust (CST), which has monitored antisemitism for 35 years. In 2018, another 630 potential incidents were recorded. The 2018 data constitutes a 16% increase from 2017 – the third year in a row in which the CST recorded such increase.

In the north of England especially, where I live, I have been concerned to note the pitiful absence of good educational projects to counter the increase in attacks fed by the increase in ignorance. The national curriculum may have a requirement to teach about the Holocaust but in many schools, this is either done half heartedly or not at all. Teachers would like to see an accessible interactive educational centre where the link between the Holocaust and today’s genocides and crimes against humanity can be clearly made.

In this 80th anniversary year since of the beginning of the World War II, which saw the deaths of over 6 million Jews., this is surely a perfect time for such an initiative – one which links the Holocaust to last year’s 70th anniversaries of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was Raphael Lemkin, a great Jewish lawyer, 49 of whose relatives were murdered in the Holocaust, and who coined the phrase genocide and drafted the Genocide Convention.

He did so after studying the genocide of Armenian Christians and Syrian Christians.

Although there are non-religious elements of antisemitism, in the context of the continued global attacks on freedom of religion or belief – I want to underline the religious anti-Semitism which targets Judaism and recall that it was Lord Sacks who rightly said that in our own times he does not understand why there is not popular indignation and political protest against the annihilation and genocide of Christian minorities in the Middle East and elsewhere. He is right when he poignantly reflects that “the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews”.

Along with others I have been supporting the establishment of the UN International Day Commemorating Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief and we are organizing an event in the House of Lords on 23 July to mark its creation. A universal day to mark the suffering of those who are persecuted simply because of their beliefs is a modest but welcome attempt to change attitudes and challenge indifference.

As a child my grandfather, who in 1917 was a young soldier with Allenby’s army in Jerusalem when it was liberated, gave me photographs of Armenians whose lives had been taken by the retreating Ottoman forces.

Twenty years earlier Mr. Gladstone, at the age of 87, had made his last public speech. It was in Liverpool’s Hengler’s Circus, before an audience of 6000, and he described what he called the “monstrous crime” of the massacre of 2000 Armenians.

The Hamburger Nachrichten, responded: “For us [Germans] the sound bones of a single Pomeranian [German] grenadier are worth more than the lives of 10,000 Armenians.”

Nineteen years later 1.5 million Armenians were murdered in a genocide still unrecognized as such by the UK, let alone by Turkey.

In 1933, the Jewish writer, Franz Werfel published, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, a novel about the Armenian genocide.

Werfel’s books were burnt by the Nazis, no doubt to give substance to Hitler’s famous remark: “Who now remembers the Armenians?”

In 1942 another Jewish writer, Stefan Zweig, published The World of Yesterday – Memoirs of a European.

Zweig’s masterful autobiography charts the rise of visceral hatred; how scapegoating and xenophobia, cultivated by populist leaders, can rapidly morph into the hecatombs of the concentration camps. As the history of the twentieth century graphically demonstrates, the hatred of difference invariably begins with anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews, but it never ends there.
Never doubt how quickly a relatively civilised and humane society, and a seemingly permanent golden age, can be ruthlessly and swiftly destroyed.

And consider that beyond the ugly spectre of Anti-Semitism appearing in main stream British politics, in 2019, for the first time since 1945, there are Nazis in the Reichstag; Austria has until recently had a coalition government which includes a party whose first leader was as an officer in the SS; Italy has a governing party which is home to fascist throwbacks; while some “yellow vests” in France mighty more appropriately wear black shirts after recently being involved in anti-Semitic abuse of the French philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut; while the far right has captured seats from Sweden to Spain.

Project Hate can be seen in the Anti-Semitic memes which accompany digital Nazism – even the live streaming of mass murders courtesy of multi-media outlets. Other shades of viral hatred – from anti-Semitism to homophobia and overt racism – readily and effortlessly morph from virtual reality into violence.

Zweig said:

“The greatest curse brought down on us by technology is that it prevents us from escaping the present even for a brief time. Previous generations could retreat into solitude and seclusion when disaster struck; it was our fate to be aware of everything catastrophic happening anywhere in the world at the hour and the second when it happened.”

And that was 1945. Now it is live streamed and in every living room and on every mobile device within seconds – including pre- arranged broadcast of mass shootings: St. Bartholomew’s Eve Massacres courtesy of Facebook and Google.

The use of social media to spread violent ideologies had a tragic outcome on March 15th with the horrific deaths of nearly 50 Muslims gathered for Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand. But we also saw the same hatred of difference at work in the Synagogue in Pittsburgh where 11 Jewish worshippers were gunned down; and in Lahore where 75 Christians were murdered as they gathered to celebrate Easter; and deaths, day after day in Northern Nigeria, following the genocide of Christians and Yazidis and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.
In a presentiment of what lay ahead Zweig wrote that “Europe in its state of derangement had passed its own death sentence” and yet the elites kept turning a blind eye, hoping that the problem would simply go away – leading him to remark: “We are none of us very proud of our political blindness at that time and we are horrified to see where it has brought us.”

Zweig saw how, in the face of indifference and the desire for a quiet life, the thin veneer that separates civilised values from mob rule very quickly cracked. He describes how university professors were forced to scrub streets with their bare hands; devout Jews humiliated in their synagogues; apartments broken into and jewels torn out of the ears of trembling women.

He says, “one man had succeeded in deadening every idea of what is just and right by the constant attrition of excess “Hitler’s most diabolical triumph.” In 1938 the conscience of the world kept quiet “or murmured just a little before forgetting and forgiving.”

On meeting groups of fleeing refugees, Zweig says” They (the Jews) were told don’t live here with us but no one told them where they were to live.”

He concludes his remarkable account of those tortured years be saying

“I knew like the patriarch Lot, in the Bible, that all behind me was dust and ashes, the past transformed into a pillar of bitter salt.”

The haunting question remains: can we do better in our own generation?

Shocking Report launched in Parliament highlighting the trafficking and exploitation of North Korean women and girls – one as young as 14 sold into marriage by trafficking gangs

North Korean Women Trafficked and Exploited 4
The All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea recently held a hearing into the shocking trafficking, by Chinese gangs, of North Korean women and girls – some as young as 12 years of age. During the evening, a new report by Korea Future Initiative was launched. It was based on interviews with 45 women in China and South Korea – women who had been ensnared by the gangs. The 14 year old was sold into marriage for £2740. Others were starved, imprisoned and abused on camera for online pornography.

The hearing was opened with remarks by the co-chairs of the All Party Group on North Korea, Fiona Bruce MP and (Lord) David Alton:

Welcome and Introduction by Fiona Bruce MP

We are here this evening to learn about the current state of human rights for North Korean women and girls in China. Today’s event marks the launch of a new report by Korea Future Initiative which is the culmination of over two years of research and interviews of over 45 North Korean women and girls who are victims and survivors of sexual slavery in China.

The report’s author, who is currently on assignment and cannot be here tonight, and her team identified brothels in China that held North Korean women captive, uncovered websites forcing North Korean girls into online pornography, and spoke with North Korean women locked into forced marriages in the countryside of north-east China.
The report, which is freely available here tonight, estimates that the exploitation of female North Korean bodies generates annual profits of at least $105 million United States Dollars for the Chinese underworld. North Korean women and girls are prostituted for as little as ¥30 Chinese Yuan ($4 United States Dollars), sold as wives for just ¥1000 Chinese Yuan ($146 United States Dollars), and trafficked into cybersex dens for exploitation by a global online audience.
Prospects for North Korean women and girls trapped in China’s multi-million-dollar sex trade are bleak. Many victims will die in China. Only small rescue organisations, such as Korea Future Initiative, and Christian missionaries will try and save them. The Government of China prevents the international community from engaging with these vulnerable North Korean women and girls. But urgent and immediate action, which must involve the international community and the UN, is needed to save North Korean refugees in China. An estimated 60% of female North Korean refugees in China are trafficked into the sex trade. Without action, this crime against humanity will continue.

Opening Remarks By Lord Alton of Liverpool

As Fiona notes, we are here to learn about the horrific practice of sexual slavery that affects women from North Korea but that emanates from China. And we can and we should ask why.

Firstly, ideological statism as we see in China today, will not and cannot allow space for the rights of the individual. All must be at the service of the state mechanism, even to the point where individual human lives, families and even whole cities can be destroyed in the process. Sexual slavery is but one way in which women have been reduced to commodities, and denied their natural rights through the brutal ideologies of China and North Korea.

The now amended ‘one child policy’, itself repugnant and dehumanising, is one of the most striking reasons we can see for the appetite for slaves to be taken from North Korea to China. With a shortage of women in the Chinese population – and more than 30 million more men in the population than women – the need to source sex workers, wives or house servants from other countries has grown.

And so we get a potent cocktail enabling this abuse. Two regimes content to destroy individual lives for the sake of the state ideology, or for the powerful within it, or even for the highest bidder. In addition, we see such an ideology that enables women to be viewed as commodities for sexual pleasure or other conveniences. Lastly, and significantly, we see two regimes that are happy to trade their own people to each other and repatriate them to suit the other. Whether it be hundreds of thousands of North Korean Workers used as forced labour in over 45 countries or women to be used as sex slaves. In fact, I asked questions of the Foreign Office on exactly that matter only a few short weeks ago.

This APPG has asked the difficult questions of our own government in season and out of season, and that is something of which I am incredibly proud. It has always been ready to expose inconvenient truths as we will hear this evening. I say this because I am glad to say that the Foreign Office has been doing some excellent work on the specific issue of Sexual Violence in recent years, and I will make sure along with other APPG members that what we hear tonight is passed on to that team.


North Korean Women Trafficked and Exploited 3

Campaign to encourage Dads to read books to their children – the best investment of time that you could ever make.

Alex Wheatle.jpg

It was great to share a platform in Parliament today with children ‘s author Alex Wheatle. Alex overcame a childhood spent mainly in social services care to become a successful writer.

Alex was in Parliament to back a campaign to encourage fathers – especially tomorrow ‘s dads – to read to their children.

Einstein was right when he said that if you want your children to do well, read to them. It’s never time wasted.

Einstein

Listen To The People of Hong Kong – And Help Them To Preserve The Basic Law That Protects Autonomy and Freedom. Read Joshua Wong’s Powerful Letter From His Prison Cell. Some Good news from Hong Kong.

If this BBC report is correct, it represents a welcome decision to think again about the proposed law change in Hong Kong -,which represents a real threat to its autonomy and “two systems one country.”
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-48645342

Following protests by more than one million people in Hong Kong I pressed the British Government on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday, during Question Time in the House of Lords, to stand by the people of Hong Kong and to uphold the international treaty signed by China and Britain guaranteeing “two systems in one country.” – and to condemn the violence which has been used against protesters. This is a time for China to honour its legal commitments to Hong Kong and to shelve the proposed extradition law.

Hong Kong Extradition Bill

11 June 2019

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

My Lords, I declare an interest as a patron of Hong Kong Watch. Does the noble Baroness agree that, as an architect of the Basic Law, “one country, two systems”, the United Kingdom Government have a moral as well as legal responsibility to ensure that Hong Kong retains its autonomy, and a duty to articulate clearly that for 25 years Hong Kong has topped the Heritage Foundation’s annual index of economic freedom because of the rule of law and autonomy? Does she agree that by removing protection from arbitrary arrest, the new extradition law threatens businesses with staff in Hong Kong, as well as the rights of millions of people who are rightly fearful of this proposal, not least while fundamental freedoms in mainland China are being systematically eroded, as is perhaps best exemplified by last week’s decision by Germany to provide refugee status to two young democracy activists from Hong Kong? We have reached a sorry state of affairs when that becomes necessary.
Baroness Goldie
The noble Lord is absolutely correct. The United Kingdom takes that agreement very seriously and is committed to monitoring it and observing our obligations under that declaration. We do that, and have been doing that, in the most forceful way that we can. An important point has been raised about Hong Kong, and I suggest that we should draw comfort from two things. It is without question that the rule of law in Hong Kong remains robust. That is, of course, thanks largely to its world-class independent judiciary, which is a very important component of the Hong Kong justice system. Yes, there are concerns; yes, we are representing these concerns; and yes, we share the apprehension voiced by others, particularly within Hong Kong. We are doing everything we can to urge the Hong Kong Government to look at this more closely and ensure proper scrutiny of this legislation before it is enacted.

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Hong Kong: New Extradition Law

12 June 2019

Question

3.28 pm

Asked by

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the government of Hong Kong’s proposed new extradition law on (1) the autonomy of Hong Kong, and (2) its Basic Law guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of its citizens.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and declare an interest as a patron of Hong Kong Watch.

Baroness Goldie (Con)

My Lords, the Hong Kong Government’s legislative proposals, if enacted as currently drafted, could impact negatively both on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the joint declaration. This morning, the Foreign Secretary publicly urged the Hong Kong Government to listen to the concerns of their people and to pause and reflect on these controversial measures. The Hong Kong authorities should engage in meaningful dialogue and preserve Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms.

Lord Alton of Liverpool

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness. She will be aware that, as we meet, tear gas and plastic bullets are being fired indiscriminately, with reports of injuries. In condemning this, will the noble Baroness reflect that in 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal, the courts in China’s Jiangsu province acquitted just 43 people, while convicting 96,271? Does she recall that a Hong Kong bookseller, imprisoned for eight months in China, was told by the authorities, “If we say you have committed a crime, you have committed a crime”?

Does she not agree, with the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square in mind, that when the law becomes a tool in the hands of an all-powerful communist state, everyone, from political dissidents, academics and lawyers to detained Uighurs, has legitimate cause for fear?

This is not least because people in Hong Kong will be left vulnerable to rendition in unjust trials, effectively giving legal status to previously illegal abductions.

Will she reflect on the statement of the International Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong that there will be,

“an adverse impact on Hong Kong as a place to live and work, and”,

on its ambitions,

“to continue growing as a major international business centre”?

While a delay in enacting this law is welcome, can we reiterate that its abandonment would be even more welcome?

Baroness Goldie

I say to the noble Lord that the most important thing is that all of us are concerned at the degree to which protests are taking place as we meet in this Chamber. The Foreign Secretary this morning was absolutely clear when he issued a statement saying:

“The ongoing protests in Hong Kong are a clear sign of significant public concern about the proposed changes to extradition laws. I call on all sides to remain calm and peaceful. I urge the Hong Kong government to listen to the concerns of its people”.

As I said yesterday—I do not want to reprise in my response to the noble Lord things that we have already covered—it is legitimate to ask if this proposed legislative changes are breaches of the joint declaration. We do not believe that they are breaches in themselves, but of course there is a risk that future abuse of provisions in the legislation could be.

It is very important to recall, as I said in the Chamber yesterday, that Hong Kong has many strengths, two of the most important of which are the robust rule of law and an independent judiciary. On the one hand we have to recognise that it would not be reasonable for Hong Kong to become a sanctuary for suspected murderers, for example, who could flee there with impunity—that would seem undesirable under international law. At the same time, of course it is important that, whatever measures are being taken by the Hong Kong Government to address this issue, they must be explicitly fair and capable of being understood and they must contain protections for human rights. It is welcome that there has been a deferment in the process of legislation, but a longer period of consultation would enable a likelihood of consensus being found.

==========================================================================

Read this powerful letter from Joshua Wong, written from his prison cell… It has appeared in TIME.

<a href="https://time.com/5606016/hong-kong-extradition-authoritarianism/
“>https://time.com/5606016/hong-kong-extradition-authoritarianism/

BY JOSHUA WONG JUNE 13, 2019
IDEAS

Joshua Wong is secretary-general of the pro-democracy party Demosistō and one of the leaders of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement.

In December 2014, during the final days of the Umbrella Movement, prominent signs proclaiming We’ll Be Back sprang up along Harcourt Road, one of the three major thruways occupied by peaceful pro–democracy protesters for nearly three months. The protest did not achieve its objective of genuine universal voting to elect our chief executive, but it awoke a generation of Hong Kongers to resist Beijing’s interference and showed the potential of civil disobedience.

That promise was fulfilled when more than 1 million took to the streets against an amendment that would allow Beijing to request extradition of any individual from Hong Kong. The chief executive would have the final say, but since he or she is handpicked by the Chinese government, we have every reason to be troubled. Yet the peaceful march on June 9 failed to change Mrs. Lam’s unwavering mind, forcing protesters to take the next step. I was deeply moved when I saw on television protesters resisting authorities to retake Harcourt Road. Five years ago, I had been temporarily detained at the police station when the exact same thing happened. I have missed the action again but in a different place: the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre. As a student leader of the Umbrella Movement, I am serving my third sentence in prison.

Here, information about the outside world can be limited, but I take every opportunity to follow the news on television or in newspapers. The hygiene conditions are poor, and there is nothing else with which to clean my table other than toothpaste. On these rainiest summer days, the extreme heat is so unbearable that turning the fan on seems only to make things worse. I share a cell with five other inmates with almost no privacy, and only a squat toilet. The moment I most look forward to every day is when the two friends or family members come to visit; I see them through a glass barrier and speak through a telephone.

Police advance towards protesters during a rally against a controversial extradition law proposal outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 12.
Police advance towards protesters during a rally against a controversial extradition law proposal outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 12. Dale De La Rey—AFP/Getty Images
My lack of freedom today is a price I knew I would have to pay for the city I love. In the five years since the Umbrella Movement, but especially since 2017, when Mrs. Lam took office, our autonomy has further deteriorated: more opposition candidates deemed unacceptable by Beijing are barred from running for elected office; the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party is completely outlawed; a National Anthem Ordinance was proposed that would criminalize individuals who disrespect “March of the Volunteers.” China is dead set on making Hong Kong more like it. Not taking a stance will mean less freedom for all.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible,” President John F. Kennedy once said, “will make violent revolution inevitable.” While I continue to believe nonviolent resistance is the best way to safeguard our way of life, China and its puppet government in Hong Kong ought to be responsible for the escalation of the present crisis. And it is not an isolated case. Beijing’s imperial reach extends far and wide, from Taiwan and Xinjiang to the South China Sea and beyond. However this ends, our city will never be the same again.

As American security and business interests are also jeopardized by possible extradition arrangements with China, I believe the time is ripe for Washington to re-evaluate the U.S.–Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which governs relations between the two places. I also urge Congress to consider the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The rest of the international community should make similar efforts. A victory for Beijing is a victory for authoritarianism everywhere. Keeping an eye on this place sends an important message to Chinese authorities that democracy, not authoritarianism, is the way of the future. It also keeps our hopes alive knowing that we are not fighting alone.

This story appears in the June 24, 2019 issue of TIME.

Contact us at editors@time.com.


Joshua is not the first to have stirred consciences, writing from their prison cell…

MLK-Letter-from-Birmingham-Jail-quotes--700x438

Also see:

https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/foreign-affairs/opinion/house-commons/104567/fiona-bruce-mp-police-fire-rubber-bullets

The Suffering of Pakistan’s Minorities Raised In the UK Parliament. Government promises to look again at how £2.6 billion of aid has been prioritised.

Faith Targeted Human Trafficking in Pakistan
Read this important post from the Arise Foundation

https://www.arise.foundation/news/faith-targeted-human-trafficking-highlights-need-for-better-foreign-aid-policy

Pakistan China Brides
and raised in parliamentary questions:

Question text
further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 29 May (HL15755), whether they are including religion as a baseline indicator of vulnerability to modern slavery and human trafficking, especially faith-targeted human trafficking; and whether their AAWAZ II programme will include religion in its monitoring and evaluation.

Question text
further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 29 May (HL15755), how they intend to help Christian women whose religion is the cause of their trafficking and enslavement when they “do not directly target specific sub groups of marginalised people e.g. Christian women”.

Question text
what are the criteria used to determine which communities in Pakistan are “marginalised” and therefore vulnerable to human trafficking and modern slavery for the purposes of their foreign aid programmes.

Shagufta
Shagufta Kauser and her disabled husband – both now sentenced to death in Pakistan

Subject: Pakistan’s Persecuted Minorities- Oral Question in the House today

New Government Minister, Baroness Sugg, Says “ I share the noble Lord’s desire to ensure that our international aid funding reaches those who most need it” and promises to review the way aid is prioritised and spent and where it goes. She confirmed that in the last decade alone Pakistan received £2.6 billion of British aid.
The UK’s leading Sikh, Lord Singh, called for Pakistan to be expelled from the Commonwealth because of its treatment of minorities.
The Former Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern said that in its treatment of minorities Pakistan is in breach of its human rights obligations.

Pakistan: United Kingdom Aid
Next
06 June 2019
Question

11.15 am

Asked by

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much United Kingdom aid has been given to Pakistan in the last ten years; and what assessment they have made of the extent to which this was used to support persecuted minorities in that country.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

In asking my Question I should mention that I co-chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Pakistani Minorities.

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Sugg) (Con)

My Lords, in the past 10 years, the UK has given £2.6 billion in aid to Pakistan, targeted towards the poorest and most excluded, who are often from minorities. We promote minority rights from grass roots to the highest levels of government. UK aid to Pakistan is declining but continues to focus on the poorest. Since 2011, UK aid has supported primary education for 10 million children, skills training for almost 250,000 people, and microfinance loans for 6.6 million people.

Lord Alton of Liverpool

I thank the Minister for that reply and welcome her to her new responsibilities.

Is she able to intervene on behalf of Shagufta Kauser, an illiterate woman from one of Pakistan’s beleaguered minorities, who now occupies Asia Bibi’s cell in Multan and who, like her, has been sentenced to death for allegedly sending blasphemous texts in English?

When two children are forced to watch a lynch mob of 1,200 burn alive their parents; when no one is brought to justice for the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities; when 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls are forcibly married and converted; and when minorities are ghettoised into squalid colonies, which I have visited, and forced to clean latrines and sweep streets, is it not time that DfID re-examined its policy of refusing to specifically direct any of the £383,000 that, on average, we give every single day to Pakistan in aid for the alleviation of the suffering and destitution of these desperate minorities?

Baroness Sugg

I pay tribute to the noble Lord’s long-standing involvement in this important issue. We remain deeply concerned by the misuse of blasphemy laws and the treatment of minority religious communities in Pakistan. We regularly raise these concerns with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level. I share the noble Lord’s desire to ensure that our international aid funding reaches those who most need it. Currently, many Pakistanis are reluctant to declare themselves members of religious minorities because of fear of discrimination. We are working to ensure that we understand where our aid is going. I can reassure the noble Lord that we continually keep our programmes under review, and where we can better prioritise resources we will do so.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)

My Lords, through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, ODA money funds the CAPRI programme in Pakistan. While its aim is to increase Pakistan’s capacity to investigate, detain and prosecute suspected terrorists, its definition of terrorism is incredibly wide. It has also resulted in torture and 195 death sentences. Will the Minister ask her department to investigate whether the CAPRI project, supported by the CSSF, could be supporting such human rights abuses? Will she commit to publishing the overseas security and justice assistance assessment that led to this project being signed off by a Minister?

Baroness Sugg

As the noble Lord will be aware, the Government oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. We will continue to ensure that our position on that is made clear in all our dealings with partner Governments. I am afraid I am not aware of the specific project that the noble Lord raises, but I will certainly go back to the department and write to him in detail.

Baroness Sheehan (LD)

My Lords, the white stripe on the Pakistan flag signifies the rights of religious minorities, but today Pakistan has strayed a long way from the ideals of its founder, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, and its heinous blasphemy laws are feared with good reason by the same minority groups he sought to protect. I ask the Minister, at the same time as welcoming her to her new role: what safeguards does DfID put in place to ensure that religious minorities are, at the very least, not discriminated against in accessing and benefiting from DfID programmes?

Baroness Sugg

My Lords, I mentioned our response to the blasphemy laws in a previous answer. We must continue to stand up for human rights and freedom of religion and belief. The Prime Minister has appointed my noble friend Lord Ahmad as special envoy on the issue. He raises it regularly, and did so recently in February.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon (CB)

My Lords, the treatment of minorities in Pakistan, particularly Christians, infringes not only the UN declaration of human rights but, ironically, also the clear teachings of the Koran, which says that the people of the book—that is, Christians and Jews—should be allowed to practise their religion unhindered.

Despite this, members of the Christian community have been murdered and placed on death row for years on end for professing their faith, and it is now reported that some Christian women and young girls are being sold into slavery in China and used for the harvesting of organs.

With that in mind, does the Minister agree that we should now look to the targeting of our aid and moving for Pakistan to be expelled, not for the first time, from the Commonwealth?

Baroness Sugg

My Lords, I certainly agree that we need to ensure that our international aid reaches those people who need it most. To that end, the Foreign Secretary has commissioned an independent report to fully understand the scope of the issue, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro will be writing recommendations on how we can better address this issue.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con)

My Lords, I understood that human rights practice in the country in question was a factor in the allocation of aid from us. I think it is clear that in Pakistan freedom of religion means that if you have a certain faith you are apt to face the death penalty, which does not strike me as in conformity with human rights or freedom of religion.

Baroness Sugg

My Lords, as I said, my department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office work closely to ensure that we are able to protect minority communities in Pakistan. We have seen some progress, and we welcome the commitments made by Prime Minister Khan to improve inclusion and transparency and to set Pakistan on a path to greater self-reliance. We have seen positive steps so far, including progress made on child marriage by passing the child marriage restraint Act and the issuing of visas to allow Indian Sikhs to make a pilgrimage to Pakistan. There are other commitments, including the creation of a commission on minorities and the Christian divorce Bill, where we will continue to support the Pakistan Government in implementing those policies.
pakistani christian refugees
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Lord Alton has raised issues connected to Pakistan on around 200 occasions in Parliament. The full list can be viewed at:

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?q=PaKISTAN+&pid=13103

This is a selection:

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the human rights and freedom of religion or belief implications of the case of the 16 year old Pakistani Christian girl Sheeza Riasat who was abducted from her parents’ home near Gujranwala, Pakistan on 12 February and forcibly converted and married; and what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about that case.

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about kidnappings and forced conversions of under-age girls who are members of a religious minority; and what were the outcomes of any such representations.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
The Government is concerned about the case of Sheeza Riasat. The Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from religious minorities in Pakistan.
We welcome the recent decision by the Pakistan Senate to pass the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2019. The Bill was recently introduced to the National Assembly.
The UK regularly raises concerns about the protection of vulnerable groups, including religious minorities, women and children, with the Pakistani Government. Officials at the British High Commission in Islamabad have raised the issue of forced marriage with the National Commission for Human Rights.
During my visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February, I met faith leaders to discuss issues faced by religious minorities, including the issue of forced marriage. I also raised our concerns about child protection, the treatment of minority communities and the issue of forced marriage with Pakistan’s Federal Ministerfor Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during the same visit.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations to vulnerable groups, including religious minorities and women and girls, and to uphold the rule of law.

=======================
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by Members of the European Parliament Religious Minorities in Pakistan, published on 13 May, which states that the situation of Pakistan’s minorities is worsening; and whether they intend to raise the contents of that report with the government of Pakistan.
• Tweet Share
• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 4 June 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are aware of the report on Religious Minorities in Pakistan which was published on 13 May by Members of the European Parliament.
The British Government regularly raises its concerns about discrimination against minority communities with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February.
At the UN Periodic Review of Pakistan’s human rights record in November 2017, the UK called on Pakistan to strengthen protection of minorities and establish an independent National Commission for Minorities. The Government will continue to urge Pakistan to honour in practice its human rights obligations, including those related to religious minorities, and to uphold the rule of law.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to their assessment in the Department for International Development’s Pakistan Report 2018 that there is a “significant modern slavery problem amongst the poor, minorities, women and children” in Pakistan and their policy to provide assistance to “target the poorest and most vulnerable”, what steps they are taking to provide direct support to Christian women reportedly being trafficked to China as brides.
• Tweet Share
• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 29 May 2019, cW)
Baroness SuggThe Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
The UK Government’s approach to tackling modern slavery and trafficking in Pakistan is to reduce the permissive environment through community-based activities, and to strengthen the legislative framework for more effective prevention and control. Our programmes do not directly target specific sub groups of marginalised people eg; Christian women, but we do target marginalised communities from a range of disadvantaged backgrounds, including Christian women who are at risk of this terrible practice.
=====================
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the treatment of the Principal of the Edwardes College, Peshawar, and his family and the attempts to intervene in the administration of the College by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor on religious minorities and educational opportunities in Pakistan.
• Tweet Share
• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 28 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are aware of this case. The British Government regularly raises its concerns about discrimination against minority communities with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religionor Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’sHuman Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February.
At the UN Periodic Review of Pakistan’s human rights record in November 2017, the UK called on Pakistan to strengthen protection of minorities and establish an independent National Commission for Minorities. The Government will continue to urge Pakistan to honour in practice its human rights obligations, including those related to religious minorities, and to uphold the rule of law.

=========================

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the case of the Pakistani Christian woman, Shagufta Kauser, who, with her disabled husband, Shafqat Emmanuel, was sentenced to death in 2014, for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages, including reports that the couple are illiterate and that the messages were in English; and what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about this case.
• Tweet Share
• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 22 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are aware and are monitoring the case of Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel. We remain deeply concerned about reports of discrimination against the Christian community and other religious minorities in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns about the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the government of Pakistan at a senior level.
I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February. The UKraised concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief at Pakistan’s UN Universal Periodic Review of human rights in November 2017. We urged Pakistan to strengthen the protection of minorities, including by establishing an independent National Commission for Minorities from all faith communities.
The UK remains firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We have repeatedly called upon the Government of Pakistan to end capital punishment and, at a minimum, commit to publicly renewing the previously imposed moratorium on the death penalty.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee fully the rights of all Pakistani citizens, including religious minorities, and to honour its international obligations.
=====================
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they welcome the decision of the Pakistan Senate to pass a bill to amend the Child Marriage Restraint Bill 1929 to set the minimum marriage age at 18 years in Pakistan; and whether they will consider ways in which UK aid to Pakistan could be used to facilitate the effective enforcement of that legislation.
• Tweet Share
• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 21 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
The UK welcomes the decision by the Pakistan Senate to pass the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2019.
The UK provided £282 million to Pakistan for the financial year 2018-19 under the AAWAZ I: Voice and Accountability Programme to promote the rights of children, youth and women. Of this, around £400,000 was spent on preventing forced and early marriages. The Department For International Development (DFID) is considering ways in which UK aid could be used to facilitate the effective implementation of the legislation once the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill is passed by the National Assembly, working with government institutions and communities to help end child marriage. DFID has set aside funding for interventions in support of ending child marriage under its AAWAZ II programme.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations to vulnerable groups, including women and girls, and to uphold the rule of law.

=====================

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the letter sent by 50 members of the European Parliament to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on 30 April warning that continued violation of the UN Treaty on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in respect of the treatment of Pakistan’s minorities may compel the EU Parliament to call on the European Commission to suspend all subsidies and trade preferences to Pakistan; and whether they are considering taking similar action.
• Tweet Share
• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 17 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are aware of the open letter to Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in which EU Parliamentarians express concerns about the persecution of minorities and highlight the link to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).
The British Government urges Pakistan to make human rights reforms in line with the relevant UN conventions, and to fully cooperate with the EU in the GSP+ process. I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’s Foreign Ministerand Human Rights Minister during my visit to Pakistan in February 2019. At the UN Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan in November 2017, the UK pressed Pakistan to strengthen the protection of minorities and to explain the steps being taken to tackle the abuse of the blasphemy laws.
========================
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to assist Pakistani Ahmadi and Christian refugees, fleeing persecution in Pakistan and awaiting determination of their asylum cases in Sri Lanka, who are seeking refuge in police stations and elsewhere due to fear of targeted attacks on minorities.
• Tweet Share
• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 16 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
The British Government has agreed with Sri Lankan counterparts the need for inclusivity and respect for human rights in their response to the Easter Sundayattacks and underlined the importance of Sri Lankans working together to reduce intercommunal tensions. Minister for Security and Economic Crime Ben Wallace visited Sri Lanka on 2-3 May and reiterated these points.
We have raised concerns with the Sri Lankan Government at reports of incidents of violence and intimidation against Muslims, refugees and asylum seekers since the Easter Sunday attacks. We have also raised concerns specifically about the situation in Negombo, where approximately 1,050 refugees were displaced from their ordinary places of residence and are now being temporarily housed.
The British High Commission in Colombo is in regular contact with the Sri Lankan Government, UN agencies and civil society organisations who are working towards a sustainable solution, including to identify secure relocation options to ensure protection of both refugees and asylum seekers.
The Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific and I have both met the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in recent weeks to raise concerns about refugees and minority rights in Sri Lanka. The Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific also addressed this issue in the House of Commons on 9 May.
====================
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 2 May (HL15272), what was the most recent response they received from the government of Pakistan about the right of Asia Bibi to join her family in Canada; and when they anticipate that this will take place.
• Tweet Share
• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 16 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
The British Government welcomes reports that Asia Bibi has been able to travel freely out of Pakistan and is now able to make decisions about her future.
We also welcome the Pakistan Government’s commitment to the rule of law, following the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s decision in January to uphold her acquittal of blasphemy charges.
Our primary concern has always been Asia Bibi’s safety and security. Since Asia Bibi’s sentencing in 2010, we have been in close and extensive contact with a range of international partners to support a positive outcome for her.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the remarks of the Prime Ministerof Pakistan on 10 April that Asia Bibi would be leaving Pakistan very soon but that there was a complication, what clarification they have sought from the government of Pakistan about (1) what is complicating her departure from Pakistan, and (2) measures to expedite her departure.
• Tweet Share
• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 2 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
As the Foreign Secretary stated in Parliament on 2 April, her case remains a high priority for the British Government. We continue to be in close, regular contact with international partners to ensure a positive outcome for Asia Bibiand her family.
======================

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government when their officials working in Pakistan last visited the shanty towns on the periphery of Islamabad to report on the conditions in which the residents live; and whether they are collecting data on the percentage of people from Pakistan’s minorities living in such areas.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 16 April 2019, cW)
Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development
UK aid prioritises support for the poorest and most excluded people and communities in Pakistan. Thus, whilst we recognise that there are poor people living in Islamabad, UK aid is focussed in the provinces with the highest number of poor people and on strengthening capacity of those provinces to deliver basic services to their populations.
DFID strive to visit as many programme locations as possible to gather feedback from communities, including minority communities. DFID Pakistanalso has projects that work directly with minorities and aims to tackle the drivers underpinning intolerance and discrimination, through promoting greater understanding between communities.
DFID Pakistan is striving to better disaggregate its results through a data disaggregation action plan which focuses on 4 key areas: sex, age, disability and geography. This will improve our understanding of those who benefit from our programmes. We do not currently have plans to collect data on religion as we recognise the risks associated with potentially revealing such sensitive information for religious minorities.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Pakistan Annual Statistical Bulletin of Federal Government Employees 2017–18, published by the government of Pakistan on 26 February, what assessment they have made of (1) the number of people employed from that country’s religious minorities, (2) the nature of the occupations open to them, and (3) the numbers working in either menial jobs or senior management grades; and what assessment they have made of the impact that UK aid programmes have had on those statistics.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 25 March 2019, cW)
Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development
We have not conducted an assessment of the composition of federal government employees as reported in the Annual Statistical Bulletin of Federal Government Employees 2017–18. However, DFID and the FCO continue to raise the issue of human rights of minorities at the highest levels of government, including in our annual Bilateral Assistance Talks. We advocate greater tolerance and action against abuses when they occur. DFID Pakistan’s Skills Development Programme will provide 330,000 poor and vulnerable people, including those from minority communities, with technical and vocational training to improve their employment prospects.
Our aid relationship with any government is based on an assessment of its commitment to our Partnership Principles, including to promote and safeguard human rights. Our aid targets the poor, regardless of race, religion, social background or nationality. Our portfolio of programmes contributes either directly or indirectly to the protection of minority rights by strengthening systems for delivery of services and by adopting a ‘do no harm’ approach.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they last raised the case of Abdul Shakoor with the government of Pakistan.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 21 March 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are aware of Mr Shakoor’s case who is an 84 year old bookshop owner. We remain deeply concerned about reports of discrimination and abuses against the Ahmadiyya community and other religious minorities in Pakistan. The Government strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the targeting of innocent people based on their beliefs.
We regularly raise our concerns about the protection of minority communities, including Ahmadiyya Muslims, with the Pakistani Government at a senior level.
At the UN Periodic Review of Pakistan’s human rights record in November 2017, the UK raised concerns about limits on freedoms of expression and religion or belief, particularly for the Christian and Ahmadiyya Muslim communities, as well as the increased misuse of terror legislation to portray religious publications of minority communities as hate material.
I discussed the treatment of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and Abdul Shakoor’s case with Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister in February 2019 during my visit to Islamabad. I am pleased to report that Abdul Shakoor was released on the 18 March 2019.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee fully the rights of all Pakistani citizens, including religious minorities, and to honour its international obligations.

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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the kidnapping of Sadaf Khan in Bahawalpur district, Pakistan, on 6 February 2018.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 18 March 2019, cW)
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they intend to make to the government of Pakistan about the case of Sadaf Khan, in particular about ensuring that (1) the due process of law is followed, (2) her forced conversion and marriage is declared null and void, and (3) she is returned to her family.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 18 March 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are not aware of a report of the kidnapping of Sadaf Khan on 6 February 2018; however, we are aware of a report of the kidnapping and forced conversion of Sadaf Amir on 6 February 2019.
The Government strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the forced marriage and forced conversion of Hindu and Christian women and girls in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns about the protection of vulnerable groups, including religious minorities, women and children, with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. Most recently, during my visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February, I met faith leaders to discuss issues faced by religious minorities, including the issue of forced marriage. I also raised our concerns about the treatment of minority communities with Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during the same visit.
Pakistan remains a priority for UK development assistance, with programmes designed to improve human rights and opportunities for women. The Department for International Development’s “Aawaz” Voice and Accountability programme in Pakistan works to empower female youth leaders from Punjab (where Bahawalpur district is located) to challenge discriminatory social norms in their communities. Our Rule of Law programme in Pakistanaims to strengthen and help to build public confidence in the formal criminal justice system through more effective investigations and prosecutions of crime. Part of the programme focuses specifically on improving access to justice for women and girls.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations to vulnerable groups, including religious minorities and women and girls, and to uphold the rule of law.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they intend to make to the government of Pakistan about the case of Sadaf Khan, in particular about ensuring that (1) the due process of law is followed, (2) her forced conversion and marriage is declared null and void, and (3) she is returned to her family.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 18 March 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are not aware of a report of the kidnapping of Sadaf Khan on 6 February 2018; however, we are aware of a report of the kidnapping and forced conversion of Sadaf Amir on 6 February 2019.
The Government strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the forced marriage and forced conversion of Hindu and Christian women and girls in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns about the protection of vulnerable groups, including religious minorities, women and children, with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. Most recently, during my visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February, I met faith leaders to discuss issues faced by religious minorities, including the issue of forced marriage. I also raised our concerns about the treatment of minority communities with Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during the same visit.
Pakistan remains a priority for UK development assistance, with programmes designed to improve human rights and opportunities for women. The Department for International Development’s “Aawaz” Voice and Accountability programme in Pakistan works to empower female youth leaders from Punjab (where Bahawalpur district is located) to challenge discriminatory social norms in their communities. Our Rule of Law programme in Pakistanaims to strengthen and help to build public confidence in the formal criminal justice system through more effective investigations and prosecutions of crime. Part of the programme focuses specifically on improving access to justice for women and girls.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations to vulnerable groups, including religious minorities and women and girls, and to uphold the rule of law.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much aid they provided to Pakistan over the past year; and what proportion of this aid was used to support efforts to end child abduction, forced conversion and illegal marriages.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 11 March 2019, cW)
Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development
The UK provided £282m to Pakistan for the financial year 2018/19. Under the AAWAZ I programme (which ended in May 2018) around £400,000 was spent on preventing forced and early marriages. Some of these beneficiaries may also have been affected by forced conversion or child abduction. Under new programming, we plan to spend around £1.88 million in preventing early and forced marriages. This includes enactment of the policy and legislative framework and capacity building support of key government institutions.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to divert aid given to Pakistan to training law enforcement officers in the emotional needs of the parents of kidnapped children, and in providing families with practical assistance.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 11 March 2019, cW)
Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development
HMG has no plans to use aid specifically to support families of kidnapped children in Pakistan. The UK is supporting the implementation of the 2018 Juvenile Justice System Act (JJSA) which will help protect the legal rights of juvenile victims, witnesses and alleged offenders. Part of this will include working with law enforcement officers and families.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan on the importance of preventing the provincial government of Sindh from establishing operational control of the Sindh Human Rights Commission; and what assessment they have made of whether this would compromise its independence.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 7 March 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
Promoting human rights is a fundamental part of the British Government’s work, including in Pakistan.
We continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations. This includes ensuring that the human rights institutional structures and processes necessary to discharge its international commitments are in place in line with international standards.
We maintain a regular dialogue with the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan about their concerns. I discussed these concerns with the Chairman of the National Commission during my visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February. I also raised human rights issues with the Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari during the same visit.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they support the UN Paris Principles, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, including the provisions which require such institutions to maintain their independence from the national governments; and if so, what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about the National Commissionfor Human Rights of Pakistan maintaining its independence from the Federal Ministry of Human Rights of Pakistan.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 5 March 2019, cW)
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Pakistan about ensuring that the Federal Ministry of Human Rights of Pakistan does not curtail the independence of the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan by controlling its financial resources.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 5 March 2019, cW)
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any assessment of whether (1) the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan is free to submit independent reports to UN bodies, as required by the UN Paris Principles; and (2) the Chairman and members of the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan are free to travel to participate in committees of the UN.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 5 March 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
Promoting human rights is a fundamental part of the British Government’s diplomatic work, including in Pakistan.
We continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations. This includes ensuring that the human rights institutional structures and processes necessary to discharge its international commitments are in place in line with international standards.
We maintain a regular dialogue with the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan about their concerns. I discussed these concerns with the Chairman of the National Commission during my visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February. I also raised human rights issues with the Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during the same visit.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the comments of Hafiz Entisha Ahmed published in the Guardian on 30 January that Asia Bibi “deserves to be murdered”; and, following the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to uphold her acquittal following nine years’ incarceration on death row, why she has not immediately been offered asylum in the UK.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 13 February 2019, cW)
Baroness Williams of TraffordThe Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development)
As the Prime Minister set out on 14 November, the release of Asia Bibi will be very welcome news to her family and to all those who have campaigned in Pakistan and around the world for her release. We welcome the assurances the Government of Pakistan has given on keeping her and her family safe, and it is important that all countries seek to uphold the rule of law and afford security and protection for the rights of all citizens irrespective of faith or belief.
It is a longstanding Government policy not to comment on individual cases. In accordance with our duty of confidentiality, we cannot confirm whether an asylum claim has been received or the outcome of such a request. Departing from this policy may put individuals and their family members in danger.
We remain deeply concerned by the misuse of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, and the fact that religious minorities are disproportionately affected. The harsh penalties for blasphemy, including the death penalty, add to these concerns.
We regularly raise our human rights concerns with the Government of Pakistanat a senior level; and we have urged them to take steps to prevent the misuse of the blasphemy laws. My Foreign and Commonwealth colleague, the Minister of State for Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, discussed our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, in September 2018. We will continue to press the new Government of Pakistan to adhere to its international obligations and uphold the rule of law.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Pakistan about employment discrimination, with particular regard to advertisements published by that government which reserve low level jobs, such as street sweeping, for religious minorities; whether UK aid supports employment opportunities in the public sector closed to religious minorities; and whether they support programmes which help illiterate members of religious minorities in that country to improve their employment prospects.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 12 February 2019, cW)
Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development
Our aid relationship with any government is based on an assessment of their commitment to our Partnership Principles, including to promote and safeguard human rights. Our development assistance targets the poor, regardless of race, religion, social background or nationality. We promote the Partnership Principles in our dealings with the Pakistan Government, and this extends to economic development and employment. The Partnership Principles Assessment (PPA) is regularly discussed with the Economic Affairs Division, Government of Pakistan, at the federal level and we discussed it formally last year at the Bilateral Assistance Talks in March. We also have specific programmes to help the poorest become more equipped for work. DFIDPakistan’s Skills Development Programme will provide 330,000 poor and vulnerable people, including those from minority communities, with technical and vocational training to improve their employment prospects.
DFID and the FCO continue to raise the issue of human rights of minorities at the highest levels of Government, including in our annual Bilateral Assistance Talks, advocating greater tolerance and action against abuses when they occur.
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pakistan massacres 1

Spectator article: President Trump’s visit to the UK – and why the UK needs to think carefully about where its true friendships lie.

The Spectator: Published June 6th

The Spectator

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/06/the-anti-trump-protesters-forget-where-britains-true-friendships-lie/

American politics – like our own – is more polarised than ever. More than perhaps any other president in living memory, Donald Trump has divided opinion. To his supporters, he can do no wrong. None of the old political orthodoxies seem to apply. To his detractors at home and abroad, his presidency is an embarrassment, arousing expressions of hatred rarely seen in Western politics.
But we would be foolish to muddle a dislike of a particular President with our historic and deep commitment to an enduring, strong, British-American relationship. Even more foolish to presume that everything he says or does has no merit.

Click on the link to read the full article.