New data to show that Ottawa police continue to disproportionately pull over Middle Eastern and black drivers

And so it continues. To its credit, the OPS continues to collect this data after the period mandated by the settlement:

Data from the continued collection of race data from all traffic stops conducted by Ottawa police continues to show disproportionate numbers of Middle Eastern and black drivers being stopped by police, according to an email sent to all officers by Chief Peter Sloly in advance of Wednesday’s public release of two studies.

Police were to hold a “technical briefing” for media Wednesday morning detailing the findings of the second set of race data collection during traffic stops. The original project was mandated as a result of a human rights settlement with the police service after a young black man alleged he was racially profiled when he was pulled over while driving a luxury vehicle. Though Ottawa police were only required to collect data on the perceived race of drivers that officers pulled over from 2013 to 2015, the force opted to continue the project.

The report details the second set of that data and “shows that while there are modest decreases in disproportionate rates, we continue to see high disproportionate rates of Black and Middle Eastern males being stopped,” Sloly told officers. In 2016, the findings from the first set of data was largely the same.

The service was also to release the results of a “diversity audit” on Wednesday that surveyed the state of the service’s own diversity. That audit “shows that, while we are making progress in many areas such as outreach recruitment and the new neighbourhood resource teams, we still have work to do on leadership and governance, policy, human resource management, promotional processes, and community policing and engagement,” Sloly wrote.

“These are not easy issues to face in any profession and I know that community comments and criticism are felt by front-line police officers first,” he said.

Sloly said the reports contain “difficult findings” but that he vows that the service will not blame officers and instead will work with them and the community to “improve our systems.”

The reports, too, contain “opportunities to address systemic barriers and make policing better for everyone.”

Sloly wrote that “bias, racial profiling and other forms of discrimination” can exist in policing as they do in the rest of society but that the documents are proof that there have been efforts to address both the community’s and officers’ concerns.

“We are going to continue to strive for professional and equitable policing,” the chief said. “We have to work together to move from reports and recommendations to greater action.”

Source: New data to show that Ottawa police continue to disproportionately pull over Middle Eastern and black drivers

THE XINJIANG PAPERS ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims

Incredibly detailed reporting on the extensive and highly organized efforts by the Chinese government to repress knowledge of its repression of its Uighur muslim minority, and the chilling nature of the Chinese bureaucracy at work.

Of note to those who preach engagement at any cost and no matter the interlocutor and subject:

The students booked their tickets home at the end of the semester, hoping for a relaxing break after exams and a summer of happy reunions with family in China’s far west.

Instead, they would soon be told that their parents were gone, relatives had vanished and neighbors were missing — all of them locked up in an expanding network of detention camps built to hold Muslim ethnic minorities.

The authorities in the Xinjiang region worried the situation was a powder keg. And so they prepared.

The leadership distributed a classified directive advising local officials to corner returning students as soon as they arrived and keep them quiet. It included a chillingly bureaucratic guide for how to handle their anguished questions, beginning with the most obvious: Where is my family?

They’re in a training school set up by the government,” the prescribed answer began. If pressed, officials were to tell students that their relatives were not criminals — yet could not leave these “schools.”
The question-and-answer script also included a barely concealed threat: Students were to be told that their behavior could either shorten or extend the detention of their relatives.
I’m sure that you will support them, because this is for their own good,” officials were advised to say, “and also for your own good.

The directive was among 403 pages of internal documents that have been shared with The New York Times in one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China’s ruling Communist Party in decades. They provide an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, in which the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.

Read the Full Document: What Chinese Officials Told Children Whose Families Were Put in Camps

The party has rejected international criticism of the camps and described them as job-training centers that use mild methods to fight Islamic extremism. But the documents confirm the coercive nature of the crackdown in the words and orders of the very officials who conceived and orchestrated it.

Even as the government presented its efforts in Xinjiang to the public as benevolent and unexceptional, it discussed and organized a ruthless and extraordinary campaign in these internal communications. Senior party leaders are recorded ordering drastic and urgent action against extremist violence, including the mass detentions, and discussing the consequences with cool detachment.

Children saw their parents taken away, students wondered who would pay their tuition and crops could not be planted or harvested for lack of manpower, the reports noted. Yet officials were directed to tell people who complained to be grateful for the Communist Party’s help and stay quiet.

The leaked papers offer a striking picture of how the hidden machinery of the Chinese state carried out the country’s most far-reaching internment campaign since the Mao era. The key disclosures in the documents include:

President Xi Jinping, the party chief, laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31. Mr. Xi called for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy.”

Terrorist attacks abroad and the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan heightened the leadership’s fears and helped shape the crackdown. Officials argued that attacks in Britain resulted from policies that put “human rights above security,” and Mr. Xi urged the party to emulate aspects of America’s “war on terror” after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The internment camps in Xinjiang expanded rapidly after the appointment in August 2016 of Chen Quanguo, a zealous new party boss for the region. He distributed Mr. Xi’s speeches to justify the campaign and exhorted officials to “round up everyone who should be rounded up.”

The crackdown encountered doubts and resistance from local officials who feared it would exacerbate ethnic tensions and stifle economic growth. Mr. Chen responded by purging officials suspected of standing in his way, including one county leader who was jailed after quietly releasing thousands of inmates from the camps.

The leaked papers consist of 24 documents, some of which contain duplicated material. They include nearly 200 pages of internal speeches by Mr. Xi and other leaders, and more than 150 pages of directives and reports on the surveillance and control of the Uighur population in Xinjiang. There are also references to plans to extend restrictions on Islam to other parts of China.

The documents include 96 pages of internal speeches by Mr. Xi, 102 pages of internal speeches by other officials, 161 pages of directives and reports on the surveillance and control of the Uighur population in Xinjiang and 44 pages of material from internal investigations into local officials.

Though it is unclear how the documents were gathered and selected, the leak suggests greater discontent inside the party apparatus over the crackdown than previously known. The papers were brought to light by a member of the Chinese political establishment who requested anonymity and expressed hope that their disclosure would prevent party leaders, including Mr. Xi, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions.

The Chinese leadership wraps policymaking in secrecy, especially when it comes to Xinjiang, a resource-rich territory located on the sensitive frontier with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups make up more than half the region’s population of 25 million. The largest of these groups are the Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language and have long faced discrimination and restrictions on cultural and religious activities.

Beijing has sought for decades to suppress Uighur resistance to Chinese rule in Xinjiang. The current crackdown began after a surge of antigovernment and anti-Chinese violence, including ethnic riots in 2009 in Urumqi, the regional capital, and a May 2014 attack on an outdoor market that killed 39 people just days before Mr. Xi convened a leadership conference in Beijing to set a new policy course for Xinjiang.

Since 2017, the authorities in Xinjiang have detained many hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in internment camps. Inmates undergo months or years of indoctrination and interrogation aimed at transforming them into secular and loyal supporters of the party.

Of the 24 documents, the directive on how to handle minority students returning home to Xinjiang in the summer of 2017 offers the most detailed discussion of the indoctrination camps — and the clearest illustration of the regimented way the party told the public one story while mobilizing around a much harsher narrative internally.

Even as the document advises officials to inform students that their relatives are receiving “treatment” for exposure to radical Islam, its title refers to family members who are being “dealt with,” or chuzhi, a euphemism used in party documents to mean punishment.

Officials in Turpan, a city in eastern Xinjiang, drafted the question-and-answer script after the regional government warned local officials to prepare for the returning students. The agency coordinating efforts to “maintain stability” across Xinjiang then distributed the guide across the region and urged officials to use it as a model.

The government sends Xinjiang’s brightest young Uighurs to universities across China, with the goal of training a new generation of Uighur civil servants and teachers loyal to the party.

The crackdown has been so extensive that it affected even these elite students, the directive shows. And that made the authorities nervous.

“Returning students from other parts of China have widespread social ties across the entire country,” the directive noted. “The moment they issue incorrect opinions on WeChat, Weibo and other social media platforms, the impact is widespread and difficult to eradicate.”

The document warned that there was a “serious possibility” students might sink into “turmoil” after learning what had happened to their relatives. It recommended that police officers in plain clothes and experienced local officials meet them as soon as they returned “to show humane concern and stress the rules.”
The directive’s question-and-answer guide begins gently, with officials advised to tell the students that they have “absolutely no need to worry” about relatives who have disappeared.
Tuition for their period of study is free and so are food and living costs, and the standards are quite high,” officials were told to say, before adding that the authorities were spending more than $3 per day on meals for each detainee, “even better than the living standards that some students have back home.
If you want to see them,” the answer concluded, “we can arrange for you to have a video meeting.

The authorities anticipated, however, that this was unlikely to mollify students and provided replies to a series of other questions: When will my relatives be released? If this is for training, why can’t they come home? Can they request a leave? How will I afford school if my parents are studying and there is no one to work on the farm?

The guide recommended increasingly firm replies telling the students that their relatives had been “infected” by the “virus” of Islamic radicalism and must be quarantined and cured. Even grandparents and family members who seemed too old to carry out violence could not be spared, officials were directed to say.

“If they don’t undergo study and training, they’ll never thoroughly and fully understand the dangers of religious extremism,” one answer said, citing the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State. “No matter what age, anyone who has been infected by religious extremism must undergo study.”

Students should be grateful that the authorities had taken their relatives away, the document said.

“Treasure this chance for free education that the party and government has provided to thoroughly eradicate erroneous thinking, and also learn Chinese and job skills,” one answer said. “This offers a great foundation for a happy life for your family.”

The authorities appear to be using a scoring system to determine who can be released from the camps: The document instructed officials to tell the students that their behavior could hurt their relatives’ scores, and to assess the daily behavior of the students and record their attendance at training sessions, meetings and other activities.

Family members, including you, must abide by the state’s laws and rules, and not believe or spread rumors,” officials were told to say. “Only then can you add points for your family member, and after a period of assessment they can leave the school if they meet course completion standards.
If asked about the impact of the detentions on family finances, officials were advised to assure students that “the party and the government will do everything possible to ease your hardships.
The line that stands out most in the script, however, may be the model answer for how to respond to students who ask of their detained relatives, “Did they commit a crime?
The document instructed officials to acknowledge that they had not. “It is just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts,” the script said.
Freedom is only possible when this ‘virus’ in their thinking is eradicated and they are in good health.

Secret Speeches

The ideas driving the mass detentions can be traced back to Xi Jinping’s first and only visit to Xinjiang as China’s leader, a tour shadowed by violence.

In 2014, little more than a year after becoming president, he spent four days in the region, and on the last day of the trip, two Uighur militants staged a suicide bombing outside a train station in Urumqi that injured nearly 80 people, one fatally.

Weeks earlier, militants with knives had gone on a rampage at another railway station, in southwest China, killing 31 people and injuring more than 140. And less than a month after Mr. Xi’s visit, assailants tossed explosives into a vegetable market in Urumqi, wounding 94 people and killing at least 39.

Against this backdrop of bloodshed, Mr. Xi delivered a series of secret speeches setting the hard-line course that culminated in the security offensive now underway in Xinjiang. While state media have alluded to these speeches, none were made public.

The text of four of them, though, were among the leaked documents — and they provide a rare, unfiltered look at the origins of the crackdown and the beliefs of the man who set it in motion.

“The methods that our comrades have at hand are too primitive,” Mr. Xi said in one talk, after inspecting a counterterrorism police squad in Urumqi. “None of these weapons is any answer for their big machete blades, ax heads and cold steel weapons.”

“We must be as harsh as them,” he added, “and show absolutely no mercy.”

In free-flowing monologues in Xinjiang and at a subsequent leadership conference on Xinjiang policy in Beijing, Mr. Xi is recorded thinking through what he called a crucial national security issue and laying out his ideas for a “people’s war” in the region.

Although he did not order mass detentions in these speeches, he called on the party to unleash the tools of “dictatorship” to eradicate radical Islam in Xinjiang.

Mr. Xi displayed a fixation with the issue that seemed to go well beyond his public remarks on the subject. He likened Islamic extremism alternately to a virus-like contagion and a dangerously addictive drug, and declared that addressing it would require “a period of painful, interventionary treatment.”

“The psychological impact of extremist religious thought on people must never be underestimated,” Mr. Xi told officials in Urumqi on April 30, 2014, the final day of his trip to Xinjiang. “People who are captured by religious extremism — male or female, old or young — have their consciences destroyed, lose their humanity and murder without blinking an eye.”

In another speech, at the leadership conclave in Beijing a month later, he warned of “the toxicity of religious extremism.”

“As soon as you believe in it,” he said, “it’s like taking a drug, and you lose your sense, go crazy and will do anything.”

In several surprising passages, given the crackdown that followed, Mr. Xi also told officials to not discriminate against Uighurs and to respect their right to worship. He warned against overreacting to natural friction between Uighurs and Han Chinese, the nation’s dominant ethnic group, and rejected proposals to try to eliminate Islam entirely in China.

“In light of separatist and terrorist forces under the banner of Islam, some people have argued that Islam should be restricted or even eradicated,” he said during the Beijing conference. He called that view “biased, even wrong.”

But Mr. Xi’s main point was unmistakable: He was leading the party in a sharp turn toward greater repression in Xinjiang.

Before Mr. Xi, the party had often described attacks in Xinjiang as the work of a few fanatics inspired and orchestrated by shadowy separatist groups abroad. But Mr. Xi argued that Islamic extremism had taken root across swaths of Uighur society.

In fact, the vast majority of Uighurs adhere to moderate traditions, though some began embracing more conservative and more public religious practices in the 1990s, despite state controls on Islam. Mr. Xi’s remarks suggest he was alarmed by the revival of public piety. He blamed lax controls on religion, suggesting that his predecessors had let down their guard.

While previous Chinese leaders emphasized economic development to stifle unrest in Xinjiang, Mr. Xi said that was not enough. He demanded an ideological cure, an effort to rewire the thinking of the region’s Muslim minorities.

“The weapons of the people’s democratic dictatorship must be wielded without any hesitation or wavering,” Mr. Xi told the leadership conference on Xinjiang policy, which convened six days after the deadly attack on the vegetable market.

The Soviet Prism

Mr. Xi is the son of an early Communist Party leader who in the 1980s supported more relaxed policies toward ethnic minority groups, and some analysts had expected he might follow his father’s milder ways when he assumed leadership of the party in November 2012.

But the speeches underscore how Mr. Xi sees risks to China through the prism of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he blamed on ideological laxity and spineless leadership.

Across China, he set about eliminating challenges to party rule; dissidents and human rights lawyers disappeared in waves of arrests. In Xinjiang, he pointed to examples from the former Soviet bloc to argue that economic growth would not immunize a society against ethnic separatism.

The Baltic republics were among the most developed in the Soviet Union but also the first to leave when the country broke up, he told the leadership conference. Yugoslavia’s relative prosperity did not prevent its disintegration either, he added.

“We say that development is the top priority and the basis for achieving lasting security, and that’s right,” Mr. Xi said. “But it would be wrong to believe that with development every problem solves itself.”

In the speeches, Mr. Xi showed a deep familiarity with the history of Uighur resistance to Chinese rule, or at least Beijing’s official version of it, and discussed episodes rarely if ever mentioned by Chinese leaders in public, including brief periods of Uighur self-rule in the first half of the 20th century.

Violence by Uighur militants has never threatened Communist control of the region. Though attacks grew deadlier after 2009, when nearly 200 people died in ethnic riots in Urumqi, they remained relatively small, scattered and unsophisticated.

Even so, Mr. Xi warned that the violence was spilling from Xinjiang into other parts of China and could taint the party’s image of strength. Unless the threat was extinguished, Mr. Xi told the leadership conference, “social stability will suffer shocks, the general unity of people of every ethnicity will be damaged, and the broad outlook for reform, development and stability will be affected.”

Setting aside diplomatic niceties, he traced the origins of Islamic extremism in Xinjiang to the Middle East, and warned that turmoil in Syria and Afghanistan would magnify the risks for China. Uighurs had traveled to both countries, he said, and could return to China as seasoned fighters seeking an independent homeland, which they called East Turkestan.

“After the United States pulls troops out of Afghanistan, terrorist organizations positioned on the frontiers of Afghanistan and Pakistan may quickly infiltrate into Central Asia,” Mr. Xi said. “East Turkestan’s terrorists who have received real-war training in Syria and Afghanistan could at any time launch terrorist attacks in Xinjiang.”

Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, responded to the 2009 riots in Urumqi with a clampdown but he also stressed economic development as a cure for ethnic discontent — longstanding party policy. But Mr. Xi signaled a break with Mr. Hu’s approach in the speeches.

“In recent years, Xinjiang has grown very quickly and the standard of living has consistently risen, but even so ethnic separatism and terrorist violence have still been on the rise,” he said. “This goes to show that economic development does not automatically bring lasting order and security.”

Ensuring stability in Xinjiang would require a sweeping campaign of surveillance and intelligence gathering to root out resistance in Uighur society, Mr. Xi argued.

He said new technology must be part of the solution, foreshadowing the party’s deployment of facial recognition, genetic testing and big data in Xinjiang. But he also emphasized old-fashioned methods, such as neighborhood informants, and urged officials to study how Americans responded to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Like the United States, he said, China “must make the public an important resource in protecting national security.”

“We Communists should be naturals at fighting a people’s war,” he said. “We’re the best at organizing for a task.”

The only suggestion in these speeches that Mr. Xi envisioned the internment camps now at the heart of the crackdown was an endorsement of more intense indoctrination programs in Xinjiang’s prisons.

“There must be effective educational remolding and transformation of criminals,” he told officials in southern Xinjiang on the second day of his trip. “And even after these people are released, their education and transformation must continue.”

Within months, indoctrination sites began opening across Xinjiang — mostly small facilities at first, which held dozens or hundreds of Uighurs at a time for sessions intended to pressure them into disavowing devotion to Islam and professing gratitude for the party.

Then in August 2016, a hard-liner named Chen Quanguo was transferred from Tibet to govern Xinjiang. Within weeks, he called on local officials to “remobilize” around Mr. Xi’s goals and declared that Mr. Xi’s speeches “set the direction for making a success of Xinjiang.”

New security controls and a drastic expansion of the indoctrination camps followed.

The struggle against terror and to safeguard stability is a protracted war, and also a war of offense,” Mr. Chen said in a speech to the regional leadership in October 2017 that was among the leaked papers.
In another document, a record of his remarks in a video conference in August 2017, he cited “vocational skills, education training and transformation centers” as an example of “good practices” for achieving Mr. Xi’s goals for Xinjiang.

The crackdown appears to have smothered violent unrest in Xinjiang, but many experts have warned that the extreme security measures and mass detentions are likely to breed resentment that could eventually inspire worse ethnic clashes.

The camps have been condemned in Washington and other foreign capitals. As early as the May 2014 leadership conference, though, Mr. Xi anticipated international criticism and urged officials behind closed doors to ignore it.

“Don’t be afraid if hostile forces whine, or if hostile forces malign the image of Xinjiang,” he said.

‘Round Up Everyone’

The documents show there was more resistance to the crackdown inside the party than previously known — and highlight the key role that the new party boss in Xinjiang played in overcoming it.

Mr. Chen led a campaign akin to one of Mao’s turbulent political crusades, in which top-down pressure on local officials encouraged overreach and any expression of doubt was treated as a crime.

In February 2017, he told thousands of police officers and troops standing at attention in a vast square in Urumqi to prepare for a “smashing, obliterating offensive.” In the following weeks, the documents indicate, the leadership settled on plans to detain Uighurs in large numbers.

Mr. Chen issued a sweeping order: “Round up everyone who should be rounded up.” The vague phrase appears repeatedly in internal documents from 2017.

The party had previously used the phrase — “ying shou jin shou” in Chinese — when demanding that officials be vigilant and comprehensive in collecting taxes or measuring harvests. Now it was being applied to humans in directives that ordered, with no mention of judicial procedures, the detention of anyone who displayed “symptoms” of religious radicalism or antigovernment views.

The authorities laid out dozens of such signs, including common behavior among devout Uighurs such as wearing long beards, giving up smoking or drinking, studying Arabic and praying outside mosques.

Party leaders reinforced the orders with warnings about terrorism abroad and potential copycat attacks in China.

For example, a 10-page directive in June 2017 signed by Zhu Hailun, then Xinjiang’s top security official, called recent terrorist attacks in Britain “a warning and a lesson for us.” It blamed the British government’s “excessive emphasis on ‘human rights above security,’ and inadequate controls on the propagation of extremism on the internet and in society.”
It also complained of security lapses in Xinjiang, including sloppy investigations, malfunctions in surveillance equipment and the failure to hold people accused of suspicious behavior.
Keep up the detentions, it ordered. “Stick to rounding up everyone who should be rounded up,” it said. “If they’re there, round them up.

The number of people swept into the camps remains a closely guarded secret. But one of the leaked documents offers a hint of the scale of the campaign: It instructed officials to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in crowded facilities.

‘I Broke the Rules’

The orders were especially urgent and contentious in Yarkand County, a collection of rural towns and villages in southern Xinjiang where nearly all of the 900,000 residents are Uighur.

In the 2014 speeches, Mr. Xi had singled out southern Xinjiang as the front line in his fight against religious extremism. Uighurs make up close to 90 percent of the population in the south, compared to just under half in Xinjiang over all, and Mr. Xi set a long-term goal of attracting more Han Chinese settlers.

He and other party leaders ordered a quasi-military organization, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, to accelerate efforts to settle the area with more Han Chinese, the documents show.

A few months later, more than 100 Uighur militants armed with axes and knives attacked a government office and police station in Yarkand, killing 37 people, according to government reports. In the battle, the security forces shot dead 59 assailants, the reports said.

An official named Wang Yongzhi was appointed to run Yarkand soon afterward. With his glasses and crew cut, he looked the picture of a party technocrat. He had grown up and spent his career in southern Xinjiang and was seen as a deft, seasoned official who could deliver on the party’s top priorities in the area: economic development and firm control of the Uighurs.

But among the most revealing documents in the leaked papers are two that describe Mr. Wang’s downfall — an 11-page report summarizing the party’s internal investigation into his actions, and the text of a 15-page confession that he may have given under duress. Both were distributed inside the party as a warning to officials to fall in line behind the crackdown.

Han officials like Mr. Wang serve as the party’s anchors in southern Xinjiang, watching over Uighur officials in more junior positions, and he seemed to enjoy the blessing of top leaders, including Yu Zhengsheng, then China’s most senior official for ethnic issues, who visited the county in 2015.

Mr. Wang set about beefing up security in Yarkand but he also pushed economic development to address ethnic discontent. And he sought to soften the party’s religious policies, declaring that there was nothing wrong with having a Quran at home and encouraging party officials to read it to better understand Uighur traditions.

When the mass detentions began, Mr. Wang did as he was told at first and appeared to embrace the task with zeal.

He built two sprawling new detention facilities, including one as big as 50 basketball courts, and herded 20,000 people into them.

He sharply increased funding for the security forces in 2017, more than doubling spending on outlays such as checkpoints and surveillance to 1.37 billion renminbi, or about $180 million.

And he lined up party members for a rally in a public square and urged them to press the fight against terrorists. “Wipe them out completely,” he said. “Destroy them root and branch.”

But privately, Mr. Wang had misgivings, according to the confession that he later signed, which would have been carefully vetted by the party.

He was under intense pressure to prevent an outburst of violence in Yarkand, and worried the crackdown would provoke a backlash.

The authorities set numeric targets for Uighur detentions in parts of Xinjiang, and while it is unclear if they did so in Yarkand, Mr. Wang felt the orders left no room for moderation and would poison ethnic relations in the county.

He also worried that the mass detentions would make it impossible to record the economic progress he needed to earn a promotion.

The leadership had set goals to reduce poverty in Xinjiang. But with so many working-age residents being sent to the camps, Mr. Wang was afraid the targets would be out of reach, along with his hopes for a better job.

His superiors, he wrote, were “overly ambitious and unrealistic.”

“The policies and measures taken by higher levels were at gaping odds with realities on the ground and could not be implemented in full,” he added.

To help enforce the crackdown in southern Xinjiang, Mr. Chen transferred in hundreds of officials from the north. Publicly, Mr. Wang welcomed the 62 assigned to Yarkand. Privately, he seethed that they did not understand how to work with local officials and residents.

The pressure on officials in Xinjiang to detain Uighurs and prevent fresh violence was relentless, and Mr. Wang said in the confession — presumably signed under pressure — that he drank on the job. He described one episode in which he collapsed drunk during a meeting on security.

“While reporting on my work in the afternoon meeting, I rambled incoherently,” he said. “I’d just spoken a few sentences and my head collapsed on the table. It became the biggest joke across the whole prefecture.”

Thousands of officials in Xinjiang were punished for resisting or failing to carry out the crackdown with sufficient zeal. Uighur officials were accused of protecting fellow Uighurs, and Gu Wensheng, the Han leader of another southern county, was jailed for trying to slow the detentions and shield Uighur officials, according to the documents.

Secret teams of investigators traveled across the region identifying those who were not doing enough. In 2017, the party opened more than 12,000 investigations into party members in Xinjiang for infractions in the “fight against separatism,” more than 20 times the figure in the previous year, according to official statistics.

Mr. Wang may have gone further than any other official.

Quietly, he ordered the release of more than 7,000 camp inmates — an act of defiance for which he would be detained, stripped of power and prosecuted.

I undercut, acted selectively and made my own adjustments, believing that rounding up so many people would knowingly fan conflict and deepen resentment,” Mr. Wang wrote.
Without approval and on my own initiative,” he added, “I broke the rules.

Brazen Defiance

Mr. Wang quietly disappeared from public view after September 2017.

About six months later, the party made an example of him, announcing that he was being investigated for “gravely disobeying the party central leadership’s strategy for governing Xinjiang.”

The internal report on the investigation was more direct. “He should have given his all to serving the party,” it said. “Instead, he ignored the party central leadership’s strategy for Xinjiang, and he went as far as brazen defiance.”

Both the report and Mr. Wang’s confession were read aloud to officials across Xinjiang. The message was plain: The party would not tolerate any hesitation in carrying out the mass detentions.

Propaganda outlets described Mr. Wang as irredeemably corrupt, and the internal report accused him of taking bribes on construction and mining deals and paying off superiors to win promotions.

The authorities also emphasized he was no friend of Uighurs. To hit poverty-reduction targets, he was said to have forced 1,500 families to move into unheated apartments in the middle of the winter. Some villagers burned wood indoors to keep warm, leading to injuries and deaths, his confession said.

But Mr. Wang’s greatest political sin was not revealed to the public. Instead, the authorities hid it in the internal report.

“He refused,” it said, “to round up everyone who should be rounded up.”

Source: ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of MuslimsMore than 400 pages of internal Chinese documents provide an unprecedented inside look at the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.By Austin Ramzy and Chris BuckleyPRINT EDITION‘Show Absolutely No Mercy’: Inside China’s Mass Detentions|November 17, 2019, Page A1

The fight to get citizenship for descendants of German Jews

Good long read largely recounting one case:

A British lawyer is accusing the German government of violating the country’s constitution by refusing to restore the citizenship of thousands of people descended from victims of the Nazis. He argues that the law began to be misapplied under the lingering influence of former Nazis in the 1950s and 60s, and that it’s still being misapplied today.

James Strauss has lived all his life in New York but in the 1930s his family ran an inn and butcher’s business in the town of Gunzenhausen, south of Nuremburg. It was here that an event known as the Bloody Palm Sunday pogrom took place in March 1934, with the inn at its epicentre. As Nazis rioted in the town, two Jews were murdered and Julius Strauss, James’s father, was beaten unconscious and locked up in the town’s jail.

The pogrom is recognised by historians as one of the worst anti-Semitic incidents in Germany prior to the Kristallnacht attacks in November 1938.

The ringleader, Kurt Baer, a member of a Nazi paramilitary force known as the SA, was tried and jailed – but soon released by a Nazi-sympathising judge.

He then returned to the inn to take revenge, shooting and seriously wounding the 27-year-old Julius and murdering his father Simon. (Baer was later sentenced to life imprisonment, but pardoned after four years.)

As soon as he was able to, Julius fled Germany in fear of his life and settled in New York, where he met and married another German Jewish refugee. But he never fully recovered from the attack as the lead bullets could not be removed from his body, and he died as a result of his injuries in 1956, on his son James’s ninth birthday.

Almost 60 years later, in 2015, James Strauss decided to make a trip to Gunzenhausen. “There I met lovely young people from the junior high school and local officials who had worked hard to commemorate this terrible incident,” he says. “I was blown away by their knowledge.”

Strauss returned to the USA with “good feelings” about modern Germany and decided that “in honour of his father and the positive work that had been done in Gunzenhausen,” he would claim his right to have the family’s German citizenship restored.

He thought he had a watertight case when he made his application in 2017. “But when I arrived with the papers at the New York consulate, I was advised there was a problem,” he says. Strauss was told he was not eligible because his father became an American in 1940 – before he had been officially stripped of his German nationality.

While legislation was passed as early as 1933 allowing for German Jews to be stripped of their citizenship – simply by publishing their names in a newspaper – in many cases it only happened in the mass denaturalisation of all Jews who had fled the country, in November 1941.

Article 116 of Germany’s post-war constitution says descendants of people deprived of their citizenship during the Nazi era “shall on application have their citizenship restored”, but the German authorities are refusing the descendants of people like Julius Strauss on the grounds that they left “voluntarily”. It’s an argument that flies in the face of historical realities. Had Julius Strauss stayed in Germany he would have perished in the Dachau concentration camp, along with the other Jewish residents of Gunzenhausen.

Strauss is furious and is determined to challenge the rejection. “This is a betrayal of not only my family but the new Germany and the school kids who have worked so hard,” he says.

For the past year, London lawyer Felix Couchman has been working overtime, flying back and forth to Germany and putting together a case to persuade – or force – the German government to stop excluding various categories of Jewish people from Article 116.

James Strauss is one of more than 100 descendants of Nazi victims who have had their applications rejected and have sought Couchman’s help. Scattered across the globe in the UK, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Israel and the USA, they have come to together in Couchman’s pressure group, the Article 116 Exclusions Group, in order to fight their case, if necessary, all the way to Germany’s constitutional court.

While Strauss’s application was spurred on by an admiration for the new Germany, in the UK the 2016 EU Referendum prompted a sharp rise in applications.

In 2018 1,506 applications for German citizenship were made in the UK, compared to 43 in 2015. But Couchman says that while Brexit was the catalyst in galvanising collective action, it is not simply a Brexit issue. Brexit has served only to reveal a practice that is “morally and ethically wrong”, he says.

The way Article 116 has been interpreted has gone against the spirit of the constitution, he argues, and ignores “how much these people suffered under the Third Reich”.

Judith Rhodes’s mother, Ursula Michel, came to the UK in 1939 on the Kindertransport, an operation that brought thousands of Jewish children to safety while their parents remained behind. “Her life was fractured and she never got over the guilt of surviving,” Rhodes says. Her family all perished in the Holocaust.

Rhodes, who lives in Yorkshire, is now active in Holocaust education in her mother’s home town of Ludwigshafen am Rhein – she shows pupils the little suitcase that her mother was allowed to bring with her.

To make it easier to continue doing this after Brexit, Rhodes decided to apply for German citizenship. But she was refused.

Rhodes’s application was rejected on the grounds that she was born before 1 April 1953, to a German mother married to an Englishman. If it had been the other way round and her father had been German it’s likely that her application would have been granted.

“I am furious because I think the ruling discriminates against women. This is the 21st Century and this sort of sex discrimination should not be allowed,” she says.

“I think the attitude of the German government is that Jews should have stayed in the Third Reich and not fled to safety. It is like an insurance company saying to a homeowner they would not pay up as they did not stay in their house as it burnt to the ground, fighting the fire.”

Ursula Michel's kindertransport passportImage copyrightJUDITH RHODES
Image captionUrsula Michel’s Kindertransport passport

Felix Couchman’s mother also came to the UK on the Kindertransport. He set up the Article 116 Exclusions Group when, like Judith Rhodes, one of his brothers was advised by the German Consulate in London that he would not be eligible to apply for German citizenship. Even though Article 116 says that descendants of Germans deprived of citizenship “shall… have their citizenship restored”, the consulate argued that under German naturalisation law citizenship could only be passed on through the father, up until the 1970s.

Although Couchman had not considered applying for German citizenship himself, and had never been involved in campaigning before, this spurred him into action.

“Although my mother died in 2001, I was acutely aware of what she would have expected me to do,” he says.

“I think the German government started off thinking we were a bunch of little old ladies drinking tea,” he laughs, “but the moral backbone of our campaign means we are not going away. They have been surprised by our determination.”


How the German government interprets Article 116

Automatic right to citizenship is denied to people:

  • Born out of wedlock, before 1993, to a formerly German father with a foreign mother
  • Adopted by formerly German parents before 1977
  • Whose ancestor acquired foreign citizenship before being stripped of German citizenship
  • Born before 1 April 1953 to a formerly German woman (and a non-German man) who fled Germany before being stripped of citizenship
  • Born after 31 December 1999
  • Whose ancestors were Jewish members of German communities annexed by the Nazis during their military expansion, such as Danzig and Czechoslovakia (non-Jewish Germans in these areas were naturalised en masse, but Jews were not)

Interest in the campaign has snowballed. Couchman’s wife, Isabelle, deals with the hundreds of people who have contacted the group. “Some are very elderly and have suffered a great deal,” she says. “Some of them lost their entire families in the Holocaust.”

While Couchman and a Cambridge University PhD student, Nic Courtman, lobby political parties in Germany, Isabelle runs a support network. “People are very emotional and they often cry on the phone when they contact me,” she says. “It can take months for them to decide if they want to pursue their battle.” Some are elderly Holocaust survivors, for example Kindertransport children, who are still traumatised by their experiences.

Central to Couchman’s case against the German government is the atmosphere in which Article 116 was implemented. “We have been told from varying sources of Nazi influence on the way the law was interpreted in the 1950s and 1960s,” he says.

The head of the Interior Ministry department that dealt with residence and asylum was at that time Kurt Breull, a former Nazi who had made his anti-Semitic views clear during the 1930s.

It was in this period that people like Julius Strauss, who had fled the country and taken another nationality before they were stripped of their German citizenship, were deemed ineligible – and also Jews who had lived in eastern territories occupied by Germany, such as Danzig (now Gdansk, in Poland).

“We have to understand how these exclusions arose in order to fix them,” says Couchman.

Nic Courtman has studied the German government’s own investigations into the failure of de-Nazification, finding documents that show the Interior Ministry was aware of controversy surrounding Article 116 in the 1950s, when a commission was set up to examine possible reforms.

That commission was led by Prof Ulrich Scheuner, a former Nazi supporter who, the documents reveal, supported the practice of trying to exclude certain groups. “That influence still filters down and affects decisions today as it set precedents,” Couchman says.

In August, the Article 116 Exclusions Group won their first battle. Two decrees issued by the German government, after pressure from the group, permit some of the descendants of Hitler’s victims to apply for discretionary naturalisation under the Nationality Act.

The German government says the decrees facilitate the acquisition of German citizenship “for those claimants who suffered similar historical injustices to those set out in [Article 116] but are not entitled to restoration under that Article due to legal reasons”.

A statement provided to the BBC, says that the government “highly appreciates” the fact that descendants of victims of National Socialist persecution now wish to acquire German citizenship, and states that the new decrees “provide a swift, directly applicable rule… reducing citizenship requirements for eligible persons to a minimum”.

Judith Rhodes is one of those who might meet the requirements, but only if she takes a series of language and citizenship tests. She says this is still discriminatory and resents “being asked to jump through hoops”.

For Couchman the concessions are “a partial resolution but do not cover all the exclusions”. Adopted children, for example, are still not considered eligible.

“This is a discretionary act that you have to go in begging for,” he says. “What we want is our constitutional right under Article 116.”

Short presentational grey line

Couchman’s group has some powerful allies and has managed to gain the support of opposition parties – the Greens, Die Linke and the FDP – who are leading a parliamentary investigation into the issue. It is still seeking the support of the partners in Germany’s governing coalition, the CDU and the SPD.

Couchman points out that in September Austria’s parliament unanimously ratified a law that extends citizenship to the descendants of Nazi victims who fled Hitler’s Third Reich.

“If Austria is able to pass legislation to rectify the issues over the restitution of citizenship on cross-party lines, I do not see why this cannot be done in Germany,” he says.

The fight has taken over the Couchmans’ lives. The couple work weekends and late into the night. Their two teenage children make sure there is dinner on the table in between studying for their exams.

It is the family’s personal story that drives them forward. Couchman’s grandfather, Fritz Beckhardt, was a German flying ace and World War One hero, but after the Nazis came to power his war record was wiped from the history books.

Couchman’s mother, Suse Beckhardt, was born in 1930 in Wiesbaden. When she was seven, her father had an affair with an Aryan woman, which was a crime under the Nazis, and he was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

“An Air Force chum, a prominent Jewish lawyer, Berthold Guthmann, decided to appeal to Herman Goering, one of the most powerful Nazi leaders, who was one of their wartime colleagues,” says Couchman.

Extraordinarily, Fritz was released from Buchenwald in 1940 and told to leave the country. Before he left, he promised his sister and parents-in-law that he would return. None of them survived the Holocaust. Nor his did his friend, Guthmann, who was sent to Auschwitz.

Beckhardt and his wife arrived in the UK in 1940 but were interned with other German nationals on the Isle of Man. It was not until 1943 that they were eventually reunited with their children, who had fled on the Kindertransport before the war.

Suse Beckhardt's Kindertransport paperImage copyrightFELIX COUCHMAN
Image captionSuse Beckhardt’s Kindertransport paper (she disliked her first name, Hilda)

Determined to keep his promise to his family, Fritz Beckhardt returned to Germany in the 1950s to fight for the restitution of the family property and their business.

“He fought and fought,” says his grandson, Couchman, whose mother remained in the UK. “The shop was not profitable because people still did not like to shop in Jewish shops in the 1950s but he did not close the business. You fight for what you believe is right.”

Source: The fight to get citizenship for descendants of German Jews

Far right’s poor leadership saved Australia from outbreak of populism, nationhood inquiry told

Of note. Once again, notable differences between Canadian and Australian political systems, parties and policies:

The major parties have been urged to put populist parties last on their how-to-vote cards and reject the myth of a “homogenous national identity” in submissions to the Senate nationhood inquiry.

Two academic experts, Glenn Kefford and Duncan McDonnell, have warned the inquiry that Australia may have avoided outbreaks of populism only because of poor leadership on the extreme right. Major universities have called for transparent and independent decision-making in government as a cure for voter disillusionment.

The inquiry – spearheaded by Labor’s Kim Carr and Liberal Amanda Stoker – was criticised by the Greens for its “bizarre grab-bag of issues” after it solicited submissions on all forms of extremism – from ecofundamentalism and postmodernism on the left to conservative nationalism on the right.

But despite initial misgivings that it could be hijacked by those with extremist views, the submissions published so far canvas a range of mainstream reforms including an Indigenous voice to parliament, allowing dual citizens to run for parliament and democratic reforms including term limits.

Kefford and McDonnell submitted that “radical right populism” had been a “marginal force” in Australia – with One Nation absent from the commonwealth parliament between 2000 and 2016 – while radical left and rightwing parties had increasingly become parties of government in countries such as Austria, Finland, Greece and Italy.

Source: Far right’s poor leadership saved Australia from outbreak of populism, nationhood inquiry told

Alberta cancels decades-old grant for anti-racism initiatives

Part of overall cuts, although Jason Kenney was sceptical of these kinds of grants when federal minister (not without reason):

A grant that helped fund anti-racism and anti-discrimination programs for decades in Alberta has been eliminated under the budget cuts of the United Conservative government.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund, valued at $1 million per year, has been dissolved, according to Cam Stewart, the Commission’s manager of communications. The grant, he said, has existed in some form or another since 1988.

Stewart said the grant has helped fund initiatives and projects across the province that dealt with education and raising awareness about discrimination, racism, and issues marginalized communities face in Alberta. For example, the grant has helped fund the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee, which has been working since 2002 to develop resources and best practices that address hate-motivated crimes in Alberta.

Star Edmonton reached out to the office of Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice, for comment on the cancellation of this grant, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of reported hate crimes has risen in both Edmonton and Calgary from 2016 to 2018. Both cities saw a combined total of 149 hate crime incidents in 2018, up from 103 in 2016 — a 45 per cent increase.

With the rise of reported hate crime incidents in Alberta and Canada as a whole, Irfan Chaudhry, Director of MacEwan University’s Office of Human Rights and Equity, said an appetite for education and awareness in Alberta has been increasing, and many of those education programs are funded by the Multiculturalism Grants program.

“There’s still a lot of division that us as Canadians maybe haven’t acknowledged, and these types of programs at least provide the space for targeted approaches for these conversations to happen,” Chaudhry said.

The grant helped fund one of Chaudhry’s projects — a podcast out of MacEwan University that was geared towards exploring narratives of hate and counter-hate in Alberta, and opening up honest conversations about these issues. He said he was hoping to tap into the grant’s funding for similar projects in the future as well.

“Because the grant is gone, there isn’t a comparable funding stream available locally, and that’s definitely going to impact future variations of projects like this,” Chaudhry said.

Stewart said the grant not only helped fund educational initiatives about racism and discrimination on a smaller scale, but also on a more systemic scale. The grant, for example, helped fund training programs on harassment and bullying in the workplace for human resources professionals, and sensitivity training for nurses about discrimination against Indigenous people in the healthcare system.

“(These projects) empowered people to address issues so they could fully participate in society without discrimination,” Stewart said.

Both Chaudhry and Helen Rusich, a program manager at REACH Edmonton who has worked on various anti-discrimination initatives in the city, expressed concerns on what the cancellation of this grant would mean as hate crimes become a more prevalent issue in society.

Rusich, who most recently worked on the Coalitions Creating Equity under the grant’s funding to develop educational material on hate crimes and hate incidents, called the government’s decision to cancel the grant “shortsighted.” She said it will be detrimental to the province in the long-run if issues of hate and racism against marginalized communities go unaddressed.

“Mosques are attacked, synagogues are attacked,” Rusich said. “I think the cost is huge, not just the emotional cost but the economic cost as well.”

Chaudhry said the funding cut also sends a message that the new government doesn’t consider racism and discrimination in the province to be an important issue that needs to be addressed.

“Collectively, this sends a strong message in terms of where priorities are for addressing racial discrimination in our province,” Chaudhry said. “It’s not looking good.”

According to Stewart, no other grant funding exists on a provincial that is aimed specifically at tackling issues of racism and discrimination in Alberta. The only funding available would now be through the Federal government, but Choudhry said those programs are not as localized, and exist on a much larger scope.

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Stewart said the Alberta Human Rights Commission is now looking for other means of funding to honour grant commitments they have already made, as well as to support future projects. Rusich said REACH Edmonton is now exploring either municipal or provincial funding to continue the work of Coalitions Creating Equity across the province.

“We will continue to do this work because it is so necessary,” Rusich said.

Source: Alberta cancels decades-old grant for anti-racism initiatives

Our reply to the co-chairs: Petition to reconsider location of the 2020 International Metropolis migration conference in Beijing

Further to our petition on change.org and the email received from the co-chairs of the Conference, Jan Rath of the University of Amsterdam and Paul Spoonley, Massey University New Zealand, we have sent and posted on change.org our reply:

Thank you for your comprehensive and thoughtful response to our questions and concerns.

Under normal circumstances, holding a migration conference in China would be of interest.

Equally, in principle we do not disagree that cultural, academic and policy exchanges can sometimes be useful in generating shifts in repressive regimes and that isolation only worsens and alienates such regimes. 

However, this depends on the subject matter and country circumstances.

Is it appropriate to hold a migration conference, where so many issues are linked to human rights, in a country which does not enshrine human rights and the associated values of promoting integration, tolerance, academic freedom, multiculturalism, and protection of refugees?

While Metropolis may view itself as an apolitical network, the host organization in China, the Centre for China and Globalization (CCG), is not, as it is effectively part of the Chinese government through the United Front Work Department.

The decision to hold the conference in Beijing at a time of the repression of the Uighurs and other minorities along with general human rights abuses is in itself a political decision to turn a blind eye to those abuses. 

There can be little doubt that it will be presented as such by the Chinese government. We are also convinced, based on experience, that Chinese authorities will not permit a free and open exchange of ideas on relevant Chinese policy or practice. Foreign speakers will be discouraged from raising issues that might ‘offend’ the government, Chinese participants will be prohibited from doing so, and ‘minders’ will be present to monitor and intervene in the event of any real or perceived criticism.

While indeed all countries have “blemishes in its policies and actions,” there is a difference between China and the countries that have typically hosted Metropolis. 

Placing restrictive immigration policies among Western countries on the same level as the Chinese government “re-education” camps for Uighurs or its lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law lacks credibility.

The bilateral disputes between China and Canada have nothing to do with broader issues raised by the petition and its signatories.

To claim that “the Government of China is not involved in setting the agenda or the terms of the debate” when the host organization, the CCG, is effectively part of the Government of China, is not credible.

Once again, the decision to hold the Conference in China given the current circumstances is in itself a political decision and it is disingenuous if not naive to pretend otherwise.

Once again, grateful that you consider signing the petition (change.org) and spreading the word as the more signatures we get, and the broader the geographic coverage, the better (as of November 15, we have about 150 signatories, about 70 percent from Canada with the vast majority of the rest being from the US.

 

Don Cherry, Colin Kaepernick and why ‘stick to sports’ doesn’t work

Good column by Balkissoon:

Seen one way, Don Cherry and Colin Kaepernick lost their jobs in similar fashion, after widespread objections to their bringing politics into their respective games. Seen more clearly, the situations are completely different, as Mr. Cherry used his Hockey Night in Canada platform to broadcast a prejudiced diatribe unsupported by facts, while Mr. Kaepernick silently took a knee in NFL stadiums to protest documented examples of police killings of unarmed civilians.

Both men were in the news this week, with Mr. Cherry being fired from Coach’s Corner on Monday after he refused to apologize for a rambling accusation that “you people that come here” don’t respect veterans and soldiers. Mr. Kaepernick’s story has a new twist – on Tuesday, the NFL announced it was playing host to a workout this weekend where coaches and owners could assess how game-ready the quarterback is after three years off the professional field.

These are just two recent examples of professional sports being used as a lens through which to view current affairs. Which is hardly a surprise, as sports have always reflected and refracted the day’s politics; African-American sprinter Jesse Owens’s 1936 Olympic success in a rising Nazi Germany is just one way-back example. What’s silly, but also unsurprising, are futile calls to keep athletics and politics separate. That’s impossible and not desirable, either.

Other relevant stories from the past week include a Woman of the Year award won by U.S. soccer midfielder Megan Rapinoe. In her speech at the ceremony, put on by Glamour magazine, she said that Mr. Kaepernick is still “effectively banned from the NFL” for protesting “known and systematic racial injustice.”

Ms. Rapinoe also referenced a continuing gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer. The same day, she was quoted elsewhere criticizing a revamped pay structure that would benefit female soccer players – but only new signees, not those already on the national team.

As well, former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice stoked the fire burning between China and the NBA. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said the Chinese government told him to fire Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey for a pro-Hong Kong comment made in October. (Beijing denies this happened.) On Monday, Ms. Rice called China’s harsh response “a violation of American sovereignty.”

Unbelievably, not one of these four stories was covered by the smart, snarky U.S. sports website Deadspin. That is, the formerly smart website Deadspin, which was full of killer sports reporting, alongside great pieces about politics, parenting, culture and ephemera. That all changed in October, when the site’s new-ish owners, G/O Media, advised the editorial staff that their new mandate was to “stick to sports.”

In response, acting editor-in-chief Barry Petchesky filled the homepage with non-sports stories and was fired. The entire editorial team then resigned. The hollowed-out site that remains is now missing both fun commentary and real journalism – in 2014, Deadspin was one of the first outlets to obtain audio of then-L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling making overtly racist comments that eventually got him ousted from the NBA.

“Do I make the game, or do they make the game?” Mr. Sterling said about players on that tape, as quoted by Mr. Petchesky in a New York Times op-ed from Monday. Pointing out that not sticking to sports had made the site quite successful, the former editor furiously rebutted the idea that athletics exists separately from the wider world, saying that “Deadspin’s position was that it’s all in the game.”

Since its 2004 founding, “Deadspin’s approach was a reaction to the predominant strain of sports writing at the time, which treated athletes as either Greek demigods unconcerned with the dealings of the world or spoiled millionaires playing children’s games,” Mr. Petchesky wrote.

That’s a brave approach considering the power those demigods can wield – British journalist David Walsh endured years of public insults from Lance Armstrong before the cyclist’s doping scandal finally broke wide. Following his work, genuine journalism focused on sports has led to an overdue airing of dirty secrets, from the effects of rampant concussions, to attempts to hide domestic violence, to multiple coverups of the sexual abuse of minors. That’s a good thing.

Sure, it’s a downer that such revelations encroach on the thrill of watching elite athletes in action, but ignoring concussions, unequal pay and the rest of it was a pretty distasteful way to be entertained. Sports are part of real life and denying that has never made problems go away.

Source:     Don Cherry, Colin Kaepernick and why ‘stick to sports’ doesn’t work Denise Balkissoon 11 hours ago Updated       

Douglas Todd: How Quebec’s religious restrictions compare to harsh regimes

Not sure of the utility of such comparisons compared to more like countries:

Continuing to prove Quebec is a distinct society in North America, the francophone province’s decision to restrict certain public servants from wearing religious symbols has got the rest of the world buzzing.

Quebec’s government, with firm support from voters, will no longer allow its judges, police officers, teachers and others in positions of “authority” to wear head scarves, turbans or other religious symbols on the job.

Although widely condemned in English-speaking Canada and the U.S., Quebec says Bill 21 protects the religious neutrality of the secular state, similar to France’s laïcité laws. Quebec politicians cemented their secularist approach by removing a large crucifix from the legislative building.

How does Quebec’s ban compare to less-discussed religious restrictions in the rest of North America? And how does it contrast with the world, where constraints on religious minorities often lead to imprisonment, mass detention, job termination, clandestine worship, floggings and even execution?

I attended two conferences in October at which the convolutions of religious freedom were front and centre. You couldn’t have asked more informed scholars, journalists and officials from around the globe for perspective on what is happening in Quebec, which, somewhat like France, emphasizes that diverse religious beliefs are fine, but should be private.

Penn State sociologist Roger Finke, who charts a startling range of global religious-freedom conflicts, is concerned about Quebec’s new law, but knows it pales in comparison to elsewhere.

Theocratic Saudi Arabia, for instance, allows no other religion than Islam to be practised. In Egypt “societal discrimination against non-Muslims is extremely high,” with members of minority faiths frequently thrown into jail. In China, an officially secular state, Christians and others are “forced underground.” About one million Uighurs Muslims have been imprisoned in China’s mass camps.

“When compared to the beheadings in Egypt, the re-education camps in China and the numerous imprisonments and killings around the globe, Quebec’s Bill 21 is mild,” Finke said after speaking at a religion and law conference at Brigham Young University.

“However, it is clearly denying a freedom. This can deny people the ability to openly express their beliefs as well as follow the guidelines of their faith by wearing hijabs, turbans, veils and other dress,” Finke said, expressing a widespread view among English-speaking North Americans.

But it’s not as if the rest of multicultural Canada lacks quarrels of freedom of religion and belief. Diverse religious leaders rebelled when the federal Liberals launched a summer-jobs program that required groups to declare themselves supportive of abortion rights to get funding.

And the Supreme Court of Canada’s refusal of Langley’s Trinity Western University request to open a law school, because it has a Christian code of conduct that restricts LGBQT people, is seen by many in the U.S. as a stark infringement of religious freedom.

Still, such North America battles are relatively minor. After a conference of the International Association of Religion Journalists in Salt Lake City, executive director Endy Bayuni outlined ways religion is restricted in his homeland of Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

The biggest threat to religious freedom in Indonesia, population 264 million, is its decades-old blasphemy laws, says Bayuni, a senior editor at The Jakarta Post.

“Hundreds of people have gone to jail under this law, on the pretext that they have insulted religion. A Buddhist woman was given a two-year jail term under the blasphemy law for complaining about the sound of the call to prayer from a mosque near her home,” said Bayuni.

“Her home was attacked and several Buddhist temples in the town were razed by a mob. The perpetrators only received one- to two-month jail terms. The leaders of the Ahmadiyyah and Shia (schools of Islam) have also gone to jail for blasphemy because their faith is considered an affront to Sunni Islam.”

Although Indonesia, like 95 per cent of countries, formally guarantees religious freedom in its constitution, the twist is it only officially recognizes six faiths: Islam, Protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Therefore, people from smaller religions often can’t get birth certificates, marriage licences or hereditary rights because of their beliefs. That’s not to mention, Bayuni said, “anyone going around proclaiming to be an atheist would be attacked.”

Asked about Quebec’s new law, Bayuni said former Indonesian strongman Suharto also banned head scarves, mainly because they were seen as signs of radicalism. Nowadays more Muslim women are wearing them. The only thing banned in Indonesian schools and workplaces is the burqa, which covers the entire body and face (with a mesh over the eyes).

A journalist from Malaysia, Zurairi Abd Rahman, helped explain just how different religious freedom frictions are in each nation. After the International Association of Religion Journalists conference (disclosure: I’m on the board of the organization) Zurairi said the main threat in his country, in which Islam traditionally gets highest official status, is the way non-state organizations are pressing to ensure Muslims dominate the country’s top posts.

“The same lobby is now pushing the narrative that Christians and liberals are trying to take over the government, which would then abolish Islamic institutions,” said the news editor at The Malay Mail, who goes by the pen name Zurairi AR.

Muslims are also being squeezed by “Islamicization,” said Zurairi. “Activist Maryam Lee was recently investigated for allegedly insulting Islam” after writing a book, Unveiling Choice, “detailing the personal experiences of women who have stopped wearing head scarves.” Shariah law, which applies only to Muslims, is becoming increasingly harsh, he said, and broadened to govern such things as “adultery, ‘cross-dressing’ and ‘insulting Islam.’”

Malaysia would not follow the lead of Quebec and attempt to ban displays of faith in the public service, Zurairi said. A key threat to religious freedom in Malaysia is in many ways the opposite of that in Quebec: Some companies and schools are forcing women to wear hijabs.

Elizabeth Clark, professor of law at Brigham Young University, said she understands why Quebec and France have responded to the once-overwhelming political power of the Roman Catholic Church by ensuring schools and government remain “religion-free zones.”

Quebec is attempting to uphold both gender equality and LGBQT rights by emphasizing religious belief should be purely private, Clark said. But she believes it’s going too far “with regards to the impact it has on the religious freedom of those seeking to manifest their beliefs through wearing head scarves.”

Religious freedom dovetails intimately with other human rights, including freedom of opinion, says Finke, making a strong case. Even though Bill 21 will only affect a small number of Canadians, and no freedom is absolute, its implications are worth understanding and questioning.

Source: Douglas Todd: How Quebec’s religious restrictions compare to harsh regimes

Quebec’s values test: Why not focus on everyday gender equality?

Another good and thoughtful column by Sheema Khan.

One point of interest is her call for the long-promised revision of the citizenship study guide to include everyday examples of what gender equality means, not the criminal ones cited in the current guide.

As the government did not manage to get its revision published during its first mandate, it should consider this suggestion if not already included in the revision:

Galloping from one controversial social policy to another, the government of Quebec recently unveiled its “Values Test” for prospective immigrants. Derided by some, the test requires newcomers to the province to be aware of a few “key” values. French is the official language of la belle province. Polygamy is illegal, whereas marriage between two individuals is not. Men and women are equal before the law. There’s nothing wrong in letting immigrants know what to expect about their future society. However, in view of Bill 21, one can’t help but be cynical about the Coalition Avenir Québec’s attempt to narrowly define who is – and who isn’t – vrai Québécois.

Quebec’s stance on gender equality is laughable in view of Bill 21 – hijab-clad Muslim women are barred from teaching in public schools, whereas Muslim men are not. Jewish men who sport a kippa or yarmulke cannot serve as prosecutors or clerks in a provincial court, while Jewish women face no such restrictions. The courts will decide if the notwithstanding clause overrides the violation of gender equality (as enshrined in section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).

Nevertheless, we should emphasize gender equality to those arriving from countries where women are accorded fewer resources and rights than men. According to the 2016 census, three of the top 10 countries of birth of recent immigrants were Pakistan, Iran and Syria – all of which finished in the bottom five (of 145 countries) of the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Index.

The culture shock can be great. I still remember my cousin’s surprise when he could not access his mother’s bank account as a matter of right, as he used to do in Saudi Arabia. Or one Middle Eastern relative who was dismayed that his wife was automatically a co-owner of the marital home. Or one husband’s disbelief that he would have to split marital assets 50-50 in the case of divorce. These are hard-won rights for women that should never be compromised. Immigrant men have complied and adapted to the new reality. And that’s a good thing.

While current guidelines from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada reiterate the equality of women and men before the law, they might want to add a line or two referring to everyday examples – such as financial independence and property rights of women. Instead, these guidelines leap to examples of criminal behaviour, stating: “Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings,’ female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence.”

Such dramatic pronouncements, however, don’t help immigrants learn about the positive aspects of gender equality. And they lull Canadians into a sense of complacency that women in Canada are doing just fine. Not so fast.

In her compelling memoirs, Truth Be Told, Beverley McLachlin chronicles her own efforts to combat sexism within the legal profession but points to the broader fight for women’s equality throughout Canadian society. A fight that is by no means close to over.

According to the 2018 Gender Gap Index, Canada ranks 16th in the world (out of 149 countries) for its equitable distribution of resources between men and women. While we are tied for first in the field of education, we are 21st in political empowerment, 27th in economic participation and 104th in health/survival. The relatively high placements in politics and economics, however, mask absolute inequities.

For example, in 2018, Statistics Canada reported that Canadian women earned 87 cents for every $1 earned by men. A 2018 Angus Reid study indicated that women are more likely than men to experience poverty. Women in Canada live at greater risk than men of domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, and sex trafficking. Even with the #MeToo movement, women still underreport sexual assault and harassment. Women and girls are often subject to online hate and sexualized abuse. While women make up roughly half the population, they are underrepresented in political and professional leadership positions. As MacLean’s Anne Kingston rightly observed, sexism permeated the 2019 election, culminating in a vicious, sexist slur painted on Catherine McKenna’s campaign office.

“Working toward gender equality is not only still relevant. It is urgent,” observes the Canadian Women’s Foundation. It’s a message we should all take to heart. The fight for gender equality begins here.

Why the People’s Party of Canada election result shouldn’t be underestimated

Overblown risk IMO. PPC did not even appear to influence CPC immigration-related positions. And as someone who spent some time looking at the bios, backgrounds and campaigns of PPC candidates, most of their candidates were more placeholders than active campaigners:

As Canada’s federal election fades from the headlines, temperatures drop, and the hockey season shifts into full swing, Maxime Bernier’s first campaign as head of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) might begin to fade from memory. After all, the PPC’s results were forgettable. Bernier lost in his own riding, and PPC candidates tallied only 1.6 per cent of the national vote.

Yet progressive Canadians dismiss the PPC at our peril.

In the party’s first campaign, Bernier managed to find candidates for 94 per cent of Canada’s federal ridings.

These candidates delivered the PPC message at doorsteps, schools, and town halls from coast to coast.

The party received almost 300,000 votes in its inaugural run, a foundation on which it might well build.

Its ideology of exclusionary, anti-immigrant nationalism is eerily similar to political movements across Europe. The PPC derides the United Nations as “ridiculous” and “dysfunctional,” worrying that participation may “dilute” our “national sovereignty.”

It sees no moral justification for international aid.

It contends that immigrants threaten “to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of our country” and that we should build physical barriers to stop refugees.

Bernier urges that the Multiculturalism Act be repealed to “ensure social cohesion.”

This mashup of anti-globalism, hostility to immigrants, and cultural nationalism draws from an international populist right that, in most cases, was not taken seriously at first.

Not long ago, in countries such as Hungary and Poland, anti-immigrant nationalist parties were considered alien to a liberal, post-Communist political culture. Now they have swept to power.

The Lega in Italy was once frowned upon as a fringe regionalist party. It recently morphed into a nationalist-populist voice that, according to current polls, would win a plurality of seats if Italians voted today.

These movements distort national histories to buttress their exclusive visions of national community.

In Europe, right-wing nationalists replace the painful lessons of the 20th century with glorified national histories, and assert the cultural superiority of their own national community. According to the Alternative for Germany Party, Hitler and the Nazi regime were just a “petty mistake.” In Poland, the governing Law and Justice Party has introduced a law banning anyone from blaming Poland for crimes committed during the Holocaust.

The PPC likewise hearkens to an imagined past in decrying the supposed decay of the present.

In a speech at a July rally in Mississauga, Bernier claimed that immigration to Canada was once uncontroversial: “immigrants who came to Canada gradually integrated into our society . . . They became Canadian, but with a distinct flavour.”

It is only over the “past decades,” the Party’s platform explains, that immigration has become problematic — a period in which, not coincidentally, immigrants have been more globally diverse than ever before.

In reality, Canada has a difficult history of xenophobia.

In the early 1900s, when the government recruited southern and eastern Europeans to farm the prairies, alarmists decried diversity. “Assimilation,” ranted one leading parliamentarian, “means the intermarriage of your sons or daughters with those who are of an alien race.” His prejudice was written into an exclusionary new immigration law in 1910.

In the 1920s, Canada changed immigration policy to virtually ban arrivals from China.

In the 1930s, Canadians prevented the arrival of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, and in the following decade officials interned 22,000 innocent Japanese Canadians.

After the Second World War, Canadians fretted over the suitability of newcomers from Communist countries and delayed signing the United Nations convention on refugees.

It is also worth remembering that Canadian history has seen cross-burning, segregated neighbourhoods, race riots, and looting. Our recent turn away from race as the basis of national identity and immigrant recruitment has been a step toward social cohesion and justice, not the opposite.

Canada has struggled to become a more just, inclusive nation. What progress has been made on that front is by no means set in stone.

Government action is warranted to address the unease exploited by populism. Canada needs to bring its immigration and multicultural policies into the 21st Century:

  • In the economic hubs where we need immigrants, we have allowed housing to become unaffordable.
  • Annually, we accept thousands of workers on pathways to citizenship, but our laws prevent their families from joining them.
  • Accessing the labour market is a major challenge for many newcomers.
  • Our education and health systems need help to support the social, linguistic, and cultural needs of global migrants.

The list could easily be continued.

The European liberal political mainstream, like that in the United States, laughed at right-wing populism before awaking to falsified histories and an unrecognizable political landscape. Canadians should not make the same mistake.

The ideology of the PPC, and not recent immigration, constitutes a threat to the social cohesion and unity of Canada. Who we think we have been in the past will shape our answers to these challenges.

Canada has always struggled to integrate immigrants with decency, pragmatism, and justice. To achieve a more just Canada and safeguard against the politics of hate, we must preserve an authentic and critical memory of our past and build boldly for our future.

Source: Why the People’s Party of Canada election result shouldn’t be underestimated