This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Baha'i Persecuted in the Islamic Republic of Iran

"One reason clerics in Iran have targeted the group with such zeal is the fact devout Muslims see the Baha’i faith as heresy and an insult to the teachings of Islam. The religion started in 1844 in the southern city of Shiraz when a man named Bab announced the coming of a messenger of God. In 1863, one of Bab’s followers named Baha’ullah declared himself to be the messenger and began preaching a message of unity among faiths. His followers were attacked and he spent years in exile, dying in the city of Acre, in what was then Palestine, in 1892."
"The Islamic Republic’s 34-year rule has hurt many religious and political groups in Iran, but one community has borne an especially heavy burden: the Baha’is, a religious minority viewed as heretics by some Muslims."
"Dozens of Baha’is were killed or jailed in the years immediately following the Islamic revolution in 1979. Billions of dollars worth of land, houses, shops and other Baha’i belongings were seized in subsequent years by various Iranian organizations, including Setad, the organization overseen by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."
Reuters Staff
(Multiple pictures of Baha’i religious leaders arrested in Iran are seen during a protest at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro June 19, 2011. Picture taken June 19, 2011. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

The Baha'i assemble seven of their faithful as leading members of their religious community; they are called the Yaran, the "Friends" and represent the needs of Baha'is in Iran, for in their tradition there is no clergy and the Friends serve as a kind  of administrative group to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Iran. All seven of the current Friends are languishing in Iranian prisons. Previous groups were "disappeared" during the 1979 Iranian revolution under the Khomeinist regime. And in 1981 the last eight members of the Spiritual Assembly were executed by firing squad.

The current seven Friends were charged and tried singly for espionage, insulting religious sanctity, collaboration with Israel, propaganda against the regime and "spreading corruption on Earth". Convicted, they were sentenced to twenty years in prison, and have now been incarcerated for ten years. Baha'i originated out of a schism with Shia Islam and unlike Islam the Baha'i religion places its emphasis on human unity, equality between men and women, the alleviation of poverty, and respect for science.

They preach world peace, and unlike most other religions, including Islam that do likewise, world peace is their actual goal which they work assiduously toward achieving. As for religious devotion, it is meditation, teaching and good works that spur them to honour their religious dedication. An estimated six million faithful live around the world, half of whom live in India. Canada has 35,000 Baha'i faithful. Although Baha'i faithful originally came from Iran, an estimated 300,000 are left there and remain persecuted and despised.

Baha'i are considered under Iranian law to be "unclean". They are not permitted to work in specific employment categories and nor are they within the Islamic Republic of Iran legally persons; there their legal protections have been severely attenuated. Government services are withheld from them, marriages in the Baha'i religion are unrecognized in law, and their progeny are considered to be illegitimate. They may not enrol in post-secondary education. In short, these beleaguered people of peace live with unrelenting fear.

They are arrested and placed in jail for being Baha'i. Baha'i owned businesses such as toy stores, optometrist offices auto-body repair shops, stationery stores, etc., were shut down after it was noted by authorities that they were not open for business on Baha'i holy days. When Baha'i are picked up by police, their families are given no notice of their whereabouts, and tend to know nothing of their fate. Baha'i men are sentenced to prison for the crime of "acting against national security" through teaching the Baha'i faith.

The "moderate" president Hassan Rouhani's administration has overseen a worsening situation for Iranian Baha'i, along with Iranian journalists, gays, reformists and dissidents. The Baha'i World Centre is located in Haifa, Israel. There the faithful live in peace and serenity and security. They find haven in Israel, their centre located there where their holy figures lived and died. Perhaps because of the presence of the centre in Israel, Iranian authorities accuse them of collaboration with Israel.

Pictured to the right is the Seat of the Universal House of Justice and on the left is the International Teaching Centre building. Both are located on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. (Photo: Iain Simmons via Flickr)
Pictured to the right is the Seat of the Universal House of Justice and on the left is the International 
Teaching Centre building. Both are located on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. (Photo: Iain Simmons via Flickr) 

"The Baha’i Faith is entirely non-political and we neither take sides in the present tragic dispute going on over the future of the Holy Land and its peoples nor have we any statement to make or advice to give as to what the nature of the political future of this country should be."
"Our aim is the establishment of universal peace in this world and our desire to see justice prevail in every domain of human society, including the domain of politics."
"As many of the adherents of our Faith are of Jewish and Moslem extraction we have no prejudice towards either of these groups and are most anxious to reconcile them for their mutual benefit and for the good of the country."
 Shoghi Effendi, head of the Faith from 1921-1957

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Holding Out Hope for a Syria Accounting

"This is not some abstract human rights issue. This lies at the core of this conflict and of any possible solution or reconciliation. Hundreds of thousands of victims and their families need justice, remedy and assurance that the future will be free from such violations."
Laila Alodaat, lawyer, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

"Countries don't need this evidence -- they already know what's happening."
"There is no justice. And because there is no justice, there is no hope."
Abu Ali al-Hamwi, Syrian detained and tortured by the Syrian regime

"The problem as I see it is not so much what mechanism one can use to bring accountability, but how you actually get your hands on the people you want to prosecute."
Kevin Jon Heller, law professor, SOAS, University of London
Report title page
Syrian Accountability Project
Evidence abounds, of the human rights violations perpetrated by President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite-led regime in Syria. The level of sustained cruelty this regime has engaged in has few parallels in today's world, of a government committing to persecute, torture and slaughter its population representing a majority sectarian religion ruled by a minority sect fearful of losing its grip on power, using all the tools in its advanced military arsenal against rebel groups unequally armed to defend themselves, marks this conflict as a modern-day aberration.

Yet tribal and religious conflicts between national groups competing for influence and power are not that unusual; what sets this one apart is the level of barbaric viciousness displayed by a government against its people. This is a situation that the United Nations recognizes as threatening a segment of humanity at any given time, and which it took steps to guard against by committing itself to intervention through an obligatory protocol called 'Responsibility to Protect' (R2P). A theoretical invention which was incapable of venturing beyond theory.

Mostly because of the need for the UN Security Council comprised of permanent members, Britain, France, United States, China and Russia to full agreement in the imposition of sanctions and action to be taken to interrupt the slaughter. Russia, sometimes alongside China, casts the dissenting vote. Although figures range between 400,000 to 600,000 deaths so far in the Syrian Civil war displacing half of its 23-million population the carnage continues unabated with the regime using treaty-forbidden methods of mass murder.

In the six years the war has raged, no path to peace has yet presented itself. Syrian human rights groups claim over 200,000 people are missing, while tens of thousands remain in government custody where prisons are geared to torture and kill opponents of the regime. Others who are eventually released speak of torture, fear, hunger, deprivation, health declines, filth, disease and overcrowded conditions where humanity is totally absent.
Destruction at a hospital room in Khan Sheikhoun. April 4, 2017
Getty Images : Witnesses said clinics treating the wounded were subject to air strikes
As for evidence: an estimated three tons of Syrian government documents sketching out a gruesome catalogue of of war crimes committed by the state are being held in Europe, provided by a Syrian police photographer who had photographic evidence of 6,000 dead Syrians, tortured and slaughtered by the state; documentation which he had fled Syria with, with a view to sharing them with the world, hoping to see justice done.

Instant communication through the use of smartphones and the Internet have provided more than sufficient evidence from direct, on-site accounts by survivors of the perpetrators of state barbarism. Yet only one war crimes case against Syrian officials filed in Spain exists and no prospective cases have been sent on to the International Criminal Court, since Syria was never a signatory. And while the United Nations Security Council has the capacity to refer a case to the court, Russia's veto power ensures it will not.
A Syrian victim receives treatment after an alleged chemical attack at a field hospital in Idlib province, 4 April 2017
Russia clashes with other world powers over chemical gas deaths in Syria : BBC

The Syrian government and Bashar al-Assad are adamant that the conflict has resulted from an international conspiracy to destroy his country; all opposition represents a coalition with foreign-backed terrorism, and nor had his regime committed atrocities. In March of 2011 a dozen boys wrote on the wall of their village school "It's your turn, Doctor"; that Assad would represent the next Arab leader to fall in the Arab Spring. The boys were speedily arrested, imprisoned, tortured and signed 'confessions'.

Arrests, torture, killings began in earnest thereafter, as did aerial bombardments and chemical attacks.

A United Nations Commission of Enquiry, along with human rights groups, described the regime's assault against its civilian populations as representing an industrial scale massacre. In one prison facility alone, thousands of prisoners have been executed, according to Amnesty International studying Saydnaya prison close to Damascus. People disappear and are never again seen. People have no hope left.

Still, activists, lawyers and others within Syria document atrocities taking place there, in the hope that one day justice will be seen. Among them are experienced war-crimes prosecutors building cases against the president and his government officials. The non-profit group Commission for International Justice and Accountability has been acquiring captured government documents, with over 750,000 government documents holding hundreds of thousands of names of regime enablers.

The look of this father carrying his two children after the chemical attack in Syria encompasses all of the injustice of this world ... Kareem Shaheen/Twitter

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Nameless Ciphers in Genocide

Hungarian Jews arrive in Auschwitz, 1944
Yad Vashem, Israel
"These people [Holocaust survivors] are dying out. We won't be able to access the information they have in their minds."
"Members of the family [of those who were murdered] don't remember the names of small children. Cousins who lived 60 kilometres away never knew those newborns [whose young lives were obliterated]."
"[Children or grandchildren call Yad Vashem to ask] 'Maybe you can talk to my grandfather and convince them [to recall]'."                                                       "The difficulty is compounded by the fact that sources can be in 30-40 different languages, most are handwritten and can be in different scripts, such as Latin, Hebrew and Cyrillic. Our staff not only need to be linguists but they need to know calligraphy,"
Alexander Avram, director, Yad Vashem, Hall of Names
A visitor pauses under photographs of Jewish victims of the Nazis in the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial  in 2005.
David Silverman / Getty Images   A visitor pauses under photographs of Jewish victims of the Nazis in the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in 2005.
"I thought I should leave this evidence behind. For me they are not just names, there are faces behind these names."
"It's all etched into your memory: their faces, they will always be there."
Vera Schiff, author, Holocaust survivor, Toronto
The World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem's staff has managed through patient effort to identify most of the six million victims of the Holocaust; their names, ages, genders, where they lived, who their relatives were who died alongside them. Anything relevant about each of these victims of genocide that would help to put a human face, a life, an existence to a dead memory. To ensure that their presence is not lost in a dead zone of forgetfulness. They lived, and their lives should be documented as much as can be possible.

The researchers in Jerusalem have an estimated 1.3-million dead whose backgrounds, whose family names have yet to be revealed, for lack of testimony that would identify them and bring them back to life through recognizing their identities. They hope yet to be able to persuade reluctant survivors to document whatever little they may know of extended family members to enable the researchers to make that vital identification of individuals. Understandably, Holocaust survivors would prefer not to remember the horrors that marked those traumatizing years of suffering and death.

The Center has so far recorded 4.7-million names of Jews whose lives were extinguished in the Final Solution of Nazi Germany's death camps. That gigantic task was initiated in 1950 and has been carried on ever since, but is still far from completion. And it will not be completed until every last Jew who was murdered by order of the Third Reich is documented properly. Archives containing victims' names through a collection of over 2.5 million "pages of testimony", single-page forms containing whatever is available of the personal details identifying a person represents the last-stage resource.

Each was completed by a survivor of the Holocaust, by a descendant of the dead, or by a friend whose memory of the dead has been invaluable in the documentation process. Where the person was born, lived, married, how they made their livelihood. Holocaust survivors are declining steadily in numbers after the passage of so much time. And those who are left may or may not wish to divulge what they are reluctant to recall of painful times and memories that torment them still.

The issue of child victims who died while other family members managed to survive is another complicating factor. There were one-and-a-half million Jewish children alone murdered during the Holocaust, and of that number an estimated half have been named. "It's one of the saddest things, we have reports where parents are named with say three or four children, unnamed. They were little children and people just don't remember", says Dr Avram

"Filling out this page of information saying this was my father, mother, grandfather, nephews and nieces - you cannot bury your relatives who perished but you can remember them in a way that will commemorate them forever, so this is very important and also therapeutic for many survivors", explained Dr. Martin Auerback, at Amcha, a support service for Holocaust survivors in Jerusalem.

Beyond the death camps that gassed Jews to death with Zyklon B, then moved their bodies into giant crematoria where dense black clouds of smoke covered the skies and rained down particles on the land below, the stench of burning flesh and bones making no secret to nearby residents in various Nazi-occupied countries of Europe of what was occurring, there were other methods employed by the Third Reich to rid Europe of its Jews.

Mobile killing squads called Einsatzgruppen shot an estimated 1.5-million Jews to death after the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. And in Ukraine, at Babi Yar, 33,000 Jews from the capital Kiev alone were shot to death and toppled into a ravine in 1941, half of whom are awaiting identification. Yet other Jews died from starvation, disease, or slave-labour-related exhaustion in ghettos and in labour camps, or killed in the extermination camps with which the work camps were twinned.

They were seen by their killers, and treated as sub-human ciphers to each of whom a number was assigned as their identification, the infamous branding of human beings as a means of keeping records. Naming them, elaborating as much as possible on their identities with details of their existence can be viewed as a gesture to restore a modicum of dignity to them in their appalling deaths, a restoration of sorts denied them by their murderers.

Bar chart of number of identified victims

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Monday, April 24, 2017

I Am A Jew

"Not all Jews practise Judaism. Traditionally, anyone whose mother is Jewish has been identified as Jewish, but that condition is not necessary for Jewish identity, either. Presently, many Jews are citizens of the modern state of Israel, but a majority of the world's Jews do not fit that description. Who is a Jew? It's a complex question."
The Holocaust Chronicle; A History in Words and Pictures

Who is a Jew? Me. I am a secular Jew. The history, the heritage, not particularly the culture, but most certainly an indefinable sense of being, view of the world, feeling for humanity, knowledge of right and of wrong, all elements that I acknowledge to be Jewish in origin and in being, are mine. To greater or lesser degree I share all this and more -- and less as well -- with millions of other human beings around the globe.

Had I been born elsewhere than in North America I might not have lived to see eighty years of age, which I now am. Had my parents not left Russia and Poland they would have perished as the extended members of their family had, and I would have been born, in 1936, in Poland or in Russia. My fate would have been sealed.

Instead, I can recall as a child whose family's poverty denied me childhood toys yet somehow managed to find me books, being aware of something monumental and evil happening, something that gripped my parents' perceptions, something that was mentioned often in hushed discussions with friends, but not neighbours. I can recall reading bleak, black accounts, of a type much too dismal and frightening to be shared with a child. I can remember navigating my own search for reading material unsupervised by my parents, at a time when a heightened awareness existed which no one in my hearing gave a name to.

I remember the shocking mumblings of my parents, after the war had ended and the "Greenies" began to enter Canada where we lived and a special, quiet regard of sensitive horror, of gratitude and of empathy was borne in the presence of survivors, that not only did refugees enter Canada, but those who walked the streets of Toronto whom the survivors recognized from another place where humanity was totally absent. That is what I remember.

What I have no need to remember is the stark awareness that has stalked my life, that the lives of Jews and their ill fortune was a curiosity to those not Jewish; sometimes an irritation, sometimes an embarrassment, something to be avoided in polite company. The knowledge of that desolation, of that muffling death through suffocation when a pesticide became the extermination tool of a deaths head regime that gloried in solving the problem of a worldwide pestilence with a solution no one else had yet devised because it had awaited the precise time and bureaucratic finesse of an ideology so well fitted to the task.
"Jews trace their origins to the biblical patriarch Abraham, who lived almost four thousand years ago. Judaism, a distinctively monotheistic religion is rooted in the exodus of the ancient Hebrew people from Egyptian slavery and in experiences they shared under Moses' leadership at Mount Sinai. The early Jews' ritual laws and ethical rules distinguished them from other groups."
"Eventually occupying the Mediterranean coastal land of Canaan, the Jews established the kingdom of Israel. Unable to sustain the unity and autonomy it enjoyed from about 1000 to 922 B.C.E., the kingdom was split by internal divisions, besieged, and occupied by a variety of conquerors. In 70 C.E., the Romans ruthlessly put down a sustained Jewish rebellion. Most of the surviving Jews were dispersed to various parts of the Roman Empire. Exiled Jews have lived in European lands for more than 2000 years."
"Whether their outlooks are secular or religious, their homes in Israel, Europe, the United States, or anywhere else in the world, Jews are not a race but a people unified by memory and history, culture, tradition and religious observances that are widely, if not identically, shared."

1934: "Twenty-Five Points of the German Religion" are issued in Germany by Professor Ernst Bergmann. It holds that Christ was not a Jew but a Nordic warrior put to death by Jews, and whose death spared the world from Jewish domination; Adolf Hitler is the new messiah sent to Earth to save the world from Jews. Heinrich Himmler is given responsibility for police in Prussia, making him the chief of police forces throughout the Reich. The Institut fur Erbbiologie und Rassenforschung (Institute of Hereditary Biology and Race Research) is founded at the University of Frankfort am Main by Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Versechuer to study racial and hereditary issues."

The Holocaust Chronicle; A History in Words and Pictures

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Turkish Armenian Genocide

"Until recently, the smoking gun was missing. This is the smoking gun; an earthquake in our field [historical genocide. The discovery of which should remove] the last brick in the denialist wall."
"My firm belief as a Turk is that democracy and human rights in Turkey can only be established by facing history and acknowledging historic wrong-doings."
"The past is not the past in the Middle East. This is the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East."
Taner Akcam, Turkish historian, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts
Picture of the crumbling Surp (Saint) Garabed Church in Çüngüş, eastern Turkey
The archways of the crumbling Surp (Saint) Garabed Church in Çüngüş, eastern Turkey, hint at the former heights of Armenian culture here. Many old churches have fallen to ruins or been converted into mosques in the former Armenian heartland. But grassroots attempts at reconciliation, often led by Turkey’s minority Kurds, have also helped rebuild one of the largest Armenian churches in the Middle East, in the city of Diyarbakır.

As a prelude to the Armenian genocide, hundreds of thousands of Armenian men, women and children were murdered between the two years of 1893 to 1896 by the military of the Ottoman Empire tasked by their leaders to rid the world of Armenians who would not accept Turkish demands that they must integrate themselves completely into all aspects of Turkish life and identity, surrendering their entire heritage; geography, language, religion, social customs and aspirations for an independent Armenia.

There is a startling resemblance between the Turkish-Armenian polarization of over a century earlier to that which now faces Kurds living in Turkey whom the government of Turkey has for generations insisted they surrender their identity, culture, heritage, geography, language to that of Turkey. The current Islamist government of Turkey following in the tradition of an earlier era arrests, charges and imprisons political Kurds as enemies of Turkey, while attacking and killing militant Kurds who return deadly fire. And in the tradition of the Ottoman war on civilian Armenians, the Turkish military targets civilian Kurds.

When Turkey committed in the First World War alongside Germany it was with a declaration that they were engaged in jihad against the infidel and mass arrests of the Armenian intelligentsia and professionals took place with many being hanged. Systematic death marches were carried out killing Armenian men, woman and children, marched into the Syrian desert to die of exhaustion and starvation and disease. An estimated one and a half million Armenians died during these death marches or were executed en route.

Turkish historian Taner Akcam published The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire, in 2012. Accessing Turkish archives he was able to prove the deliberate, planned, coordinated genocide of the Armenian people for which the government and military of Turkey were responsible. Over the decades since, Turkey has always denied anything remotely resembling a deliberate genocide took place, insisting that during the war years, unfortunate deaths on a wide scale, simply occurred.

Turkey may have joined Germany in its conflict against Allied nations, but Turkey's exploit in slaughtering a million and a half of Europe's Armenians, killing children, raping women, executing their men, and generally leading them toward certain, excruciating death by whatever means were possible, most certainly must have impressed Adolf Hitler who had his own extermination plans for the near future in the elimination of European Jewry. Building on Turkey's exploit, Germany ambidextrously waged a massive war effort and launched an equally massive genocide.
Armenian orphans evacuating from Turkey, 1922
A group of Armenian orphans evacuating from Turkey, 1922 - See more at: http://www.genocide-museum.am/eng/online_exhibition_18.php#sthash.LMWEOylL.dpuf

Historian Akcam has studied the Armenian genocide for decades, patiently putting together a damning jigsaw of documents sourced from around the world to prove state complicity in the killings. An original telegram that came out of an archive held by the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem from the post WWI trials came into his possession recently. Which elaborated on a Ottoman Empire official in the Turkish city of Erzurum sending a telegram in secret code to a colleague.

Details were asked relating to the deportation and slaughter of Armenians in eastern Anatolia. Eventually a copy of the telegram, deciphered, helped in the conviction of the official, Behaeddin Shakir, who was involved in planning what historians have acknowledged and Turkey continues to deny, as the well organized extermination of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Empire leaders, representing the first 20th Century genocide.

Mr. Akcam, diligent scholar and historian that he is, argues that attribution for a great deal of the chaotic misery roiling the Middle East of today resulted from distrust between the various communities relating to historical wrongs no one is interested in admitting to, much less to confront, discuss and understand. Which is certainly a refreshing change from the usual claims made by self-interested Middle East entities who trot out continually the accusation that the existence of Israel is to blame for all that goes awry in the Middle East.

"He has piled clue upon clue upon clue", stated Eric D. Weitz, history professor at City College of New York. Naming Mr. Akcam as "the Sherlock Holmes of Armenian Genocide". Turkey will never, certainly never under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accede to an admission of responsibility. Genocide is not a word nor a concept that Turkey is prepared to admit to; for as they insist, the chaos of a world war produced the Armenian deaths, and the Turks suffered difficulties, as well.
Near East Relief Society Armenian Orphans
Children taken in by Near East Relief
Collection of Near East Relief Society
Maria Jacobsen, DIARY 1907-1919, KHARPUT, TURKEY
Tessa Hofmann & Gerayer Koutcharian
Armenian Review, Spring/Summer, 1992, Vol. 45, No. 1-2/177-178, p. 119, Fig. 56
- See more at: http://www.genocide-museum.am/eng/online_exhibition_3.php#sthash.aYj0TVVa.dpuf

The Armenians were traitors, as Turkey would have it, planning to fight Turkey in concert with Russia. This is a version that Turkish culture values, long a standard explanation published in Turkish school curricula, supported by a vast majority of the Turkish population. "My approach is that as much proof as you put in front of denialists, denialists will remain denialists", stated historian Bedross Der Matossian, at the University of Nebraska, author of Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire.

Picture of villagers picnicking at the border town of Bagaran, Armenia
Picnicking at night beneath apricot trees—and a giant cross shining defiantly into Turkey—villagers in the border town of Bagaran, Armenia, belt out songs of memory, cultural endurance, and survival. The bitter dispute between Armenia and Turkey dating back four generations has paralyzed economic, diplomatic, and political progress in the region. The ancient crossroads between Turkey’s eastern highlands and the Caucasus remains in the thrall of ghosts.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Refugee Sponsorship in Canada : Mutual Obligations

"Unlike any other refugee populations, social media and mobile applications are very commonly used by the Syrian refugees and the population who are actively connected to each other via mobile devices, specifically WhatsApp."
"Refugees were comparing what Syrian friends received in terms of services in other cities and provinces and requested equivalent services and support."
"Many partners and stakeholders were concerned about the [Syrian] youth group [which had experienced a lapse in their education and might find it a future challenge to both fit in to Canadian society and find employment]."
"The perception was that given the integration challenges mentioned above, this group could become disenfranchised and have a harder time developing a sense of belonging to their communities."
Government of Canada report
Syrian refugees line up at the processing centre in Amman, Jordan, where they will meet with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) employees on Dec. 13, 2015.
Syrian refugees line up at the processing centre in Amman, Jordan, where they will meet with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) employees on Dec. 13, 2015.  MCpl Bernie Kuhn / Canadian Forces

"If instances of sponsors asking refugees to pay for their own sponsorship come to our attention, we will investigate."
"However, we will not comment on any investigations which may be underway."
Remi Lariviere, Immigration Department spokesman

"Large-scale refugee movements place pressure on health-care systems, both in their immediate response and as part of long-term resettlement efforts."
"As Syrians integrate into Canada, meeting their longer-term, health-care needs will call for a seamless network of health-care providers, supported by community partners."
"[Some children arrived with illnesses including cancers, seizures and developmental disorders. Malnutrition and children with intellectual disabilities were also observed at a rate higher than in the general Canadian population]."
"[In Toronto, more than 500 dental emergencies were addressed. Patients of all ages had severe mouth diseases, unable to sleep or eat because of pain.]"  
Canadian Communicable Disease Report study

A recently published government study began with an evaluation by the Immigration Department of the refugee program to settle Syrians through privately sponsored programs which saw 8,918 refugees arriving in Canada between November 2014 and March of 2017, of whom 581 wee interviewed. Twenty-three of those surveyed stated they had paid for the completion of their sponsorship application or for the provision of their personal support in Canada; in some instances being asked to give payment.

This is an illegal situation since private sponsorship groups are not meant to accept or to require that any funds be supplied by a refugee for submitting a sponsorship. It is not just Syrians, according to the report, who have ended up paying sponsors. Privately sponsored refugees arriving from elsewhere in the world surveyed for a previously-undertaken study had divulged that 19 of 451 refugees that paid for their sponsorship, as well. On the other hand, on a private note, it seems entirely reasonable if the refugees have the financial wherewithal, that they be expected to help support themselves.

In the evaluation of the first wave of Syrians documentation comparable with other refugee groups, it was divulged that some Syrians are less educated and are possessed of a more meagre proficiency of one of the two Canadian official languages, both indices which are meant to identify ideal characteristics for welcoming immigrants and refugees to Canada. Syrians, through this enquiry, were also revealed to have larger families and a lower state of awareness of Canadian rights and freedoms than refugees from other groups.

All of which might mark them as less than ideal candidates for migration to and absorption into Canadian society. These are also recognized factors that contribute to additional settlement challenges, (as, for example, a greater financial investment in supporting larger families) which, when added to the popularity among Syrian refugees of social media, has resulted in an additional complication; the expectation among Syrian refugees to Canada of certain services that they feel they are entitled to.

It was also established that only ten percent of adult government-assisted Syrian refugees had found employment, a number which government officials feel to be comparable with other refugee population groups assisted by government for settlement in Canada. September marked the 13th month of the initial group of refugees being situated in Canada, significant since refugees can expect financial support from the federal government or private sponsors for a twelve-month period before they are expected to become independent.

Those not yet self-supporting theoretically can ask for provincial social assistance, to receive welfare  benefits. The estimate is that from March 2017 approximately 1,890 to 2,005 Syrian adults would be eligible to access provincial welfare. The burden on the Canadian taxpayer, from the moment the estimated 40,000 Syrian refugees entered Canada and received financial support for housing, food, medical care, language and job training and education, straining all public welfare systems in the process, now extends to funding in some of the same spheres through provincial welfare.

But it is the future trajectory of the capacity of the Syrian refugees to accept Canadian cultural and social values, to join the mainstream of self-sufficient and law-abiding citizenry that will represent the true test of the wisdom of bringing in to a country dedicated to equality, fundamental human rights entitlements, protection of rights and freedoms, a pluralistic society and economic opportunities having succeeded or failed.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Seriously?! Trump Contemplating Tearing Up the Iran Nuclear Agreement? Oh, Maybe Not: "On Notice"

a)"Today I’d like to address Iran’s alarming and ongoing provocations that export terror and violence, destabilizing more than one country at a time."
b)"This letter certifies that the conditions of Section 135(d)(6) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (AEA), as amended, including as amended by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-17), enacted May 22, 2015, are met as of April 18, 2017."
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

"Iran could follow the Syrian and North Korean examples and cheat. Or, while enjoying hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it can adhere to the agreement and deactivate parts of its nuclear facilities rather than dismantle them. It can develop new technologies for producing atomic bombs while testing intercontinental ballistic missiles."
"It can continue massacring Syrians, Iraqis and Yemenis, and bankrolling Hamas and Hezbollah. The [Joint comprehensive Plan of Action] enables Iran to do all that merely by complying."
"The remaining American sanctions on Iran must stay staunchly in place and Congress must pass further punitive legislation. Above all, a strong link must be established between the JCPOA and Iran's support for terror, its pledges to annihilate Israel and overthrow pro-American Arab governments, and its complicity in massacres."
Michel Oren, historian, former Israeli ambassador to the United States
Zarif addressed reporters alongside his visiting French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault [Atta Kenare/AFP]

Mr. Oren's statements and recommendations can be understood fully in the context of both recent history and even more recent events that continue to take place on the world stage and the Middle East. The agreement that Mr. Oren makes reference to focused solely on Iran's nuclear ambitions; it failed, deliberately and for various reasons, to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran to account for its support of Islamist terror and terrorist groups and its own intercontinental ballistic missiles program whose progress Iran ostentatiously highlights.

The Republic continues to be a threat to the stabilization of the Middle East through its enabling sponsorship of Bashar al-Assad's Syrian civil war against the Syrian Sunni rebels whose initial protests were limited to seeking equality with the country's minority Shiite Alawite population. By dispatching its Al-Quds division of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps to Syria and calling on its surrogate militia Hezbollah to fight alongside Assad, Iran has helped to slaughter hundreds of thousands of Syrians and make homeless millions more among whom are millions of refugees flooding Europe.

Iran's plan of conquest for the Middle East, where it leads a Shiite minority to threaten the majority command of the Sunni Arabs, along with its determination to keep experimenting until it succeeds in emulating its flamboyant North Korean counterpart keeps the Middle East in a tinderbox state of suspense and suspicion. Former President Obama's self-congratulatory "win" in spearheading an agreement that the Security Council members plus Germany supported in the fiction that it would significantly delay Iran's nuclear ambitions coming to fruition found great disfavour with the new U.S. President.
Still from Video: Rouhani says Iran won't allow Trump to tear up nuclear deal

Secretary of State Tillerson's polarizing message of recognizing the malevolent threat Iran represents while at the same time overstating the Republic's compliance with the risibly fictitious constraints represented by the agreement enabling Iran to see the crippling financial sanctions lifted and international conglomerates slavering at the bit to re-enter Iran's lucrative energy market has privileged Iran while creating an even greater destabilization in the Middle East with Yemen another proxy battleground between Shiite Aryan Iran and Sunni Arab Saudi Arabia.

President Trump may have spoken impetuously and grandiosely of his plans to reverse the Obama administration's capitulation to Iranian demands, but the man has the focus of a mosquito and the memory of a gnat to match the determination of an amoeba. His penchant for quixotic turn-abouts from one position to another puzzles and confounds both friend and foe. He exercises his option to abuse friends and befriend foes, and no one knows where they stand with this man, much less does he himself fully appreciate that consistency is a desirable attribute as much as is thoughtful intelligence.

"Boeing Co. landed its second jetliner sale to an Iranian airline since the 1970s, a $3-billion deal that sets up a test of the planemaker's ties with President Donald Trump. The pact with Iran Aseman Airlines to purchase thirty of Boeing's 737 Max planes adds to a separate $16.6-billion agreement with Iran Air, which the Chicago-based manufacturer is still finalizing. If completed, the transactions would be the first U.S. aircraft exports to Iran since the Shah era", reported Bloomberg.

A bill to block the sale has been entered in the House, but under current law the deal is perfectly legal, illustrating clearly what the next move by the American President should be; altering the sanctions regimen, reinstituting sanctions and bolstering them considerably. It is the Republic of Iran that represents the greatest threat to world stability at the present time, although North Korea's careening narcissistic boy wonder comes a close second.

This photo, released by the Iranian Defense Ministry in March 2014, purports to show the Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missile and the Persian Gulf anti-ship ballistic missile. (AP Photo/Iranian Defense Ministry)
This photo, released by the Iranian Defense Ministry in March 2014, purports to show the Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missile and the Persian Gulf anti-ship ballistic missile. (AP Photo/Iranian Defense Ministry)

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