The slaves that make iPhones sweat us out

A decade ago my old friend and colleague Joel Johnson told me “I’m going to China.” Not to become a Buddhist, but to go around Shenzhen, have some ‘he fen’ in good conditions and see with your own eyes how you work at Foxconn, the mega-corporation that makes iPhones and other Apple products. The thing was very bad there. And from what we’ve just learned, it still is. Especially if you are a Uyghur.

At Gizmodo we had spent 2010 writing about suicides in the “hellish factory”From iPhones and iPads. The Cupertino people were getting beat up everywhere. Foxconn employees were dropping like flies, literally. Some for depression, others for stress, some for their families to charge a suicide premium. All for inhumane working conditions with prison wages. Those who did not commit suicide, lived or died like banshees, exhausted after working 34 hours straight. The situation was such that Foxconn had installed networks in all the buildings of its large industrial complex to avoid the photo of brains scattered on the sidewalks.

Apple declared herself scandalized and surprised at that semi-slavery party, as if they did not know what the pod was about, in plan Captain Renault at Rick Blaine’s underground casino. “But what are you telling me!”, Which Dona Manolita would say to a neighbor as if she did not know that Paquito and the tobacconist get perched every time Paco needs some pitis. Doña Manolita is the neighborhood kiosk, but he has us all controlled as if he were the Stasi.

At the time, Apple’s Doña Manolita was Katie Cotton, Steve Jobs’s supreme PR. The Cotton was not a shark. It was a real megalodon. 50% evil genius, 50% sociopath and 100% cheeky. I still remember the day he called me to yell at me on the phone after asking him for a comment on Steve Jobs’ cancer return exclusive. That was the appetizer of what would happen years later, when Jobs sent us to his Gestapo after the iPhone 4 lost in the bar.

The working conditions at Foxconn was the final straw. All the media, from the ‘New York Times’ to the Sebastopol parish leaflet distributed firewood and Cotton had no choice but to launch a campaign announcing that they were going to do everything possible to make that change. Audits! Corporate responsability! Human rights! Cotton and the Cupertino bosses wailed as they crossed themselves. Jobs save us from fucking sales.

Come on, the typical bullshit in the face of a gallery that wrote “this is a scandal!” on Twitter from his brand new iPhone 4, me included.

Steve Jobs. (Reuters)Steve Jobs. (Reuters)
Steve Jobs. (Reuters)

Since then, Apple has been filled with how responsible, inclusive and diverse they are with their entire workforce. Unfortunately, it is not so. In 2012, the ABC program ‘Nightline’ issued a report in which they found that not much had changed. As another of my colleagues titled, Foxconn’s reality is that “better” is still wrong. A Apple’s own report claimed that two-thirds of all its suppliers forced their employees to work longer hours than allowed by the Chinese legal limit, but that would not happen from there. Promised. Word of Jobs, we beg you, hear us.

Do not go yet, there is still more, what Porky Pig would say. The following year more problems were discovered with another Apple supplier: Pegatron. Cupertino defended himself arguing that had audited that company since 2007 and had found nothing at all. Really good, but come on, what if that would investigate the new allegations. Or something. Last year, the non-governmental organization China Labor Watch He again accused Apple of turning a blind eye to Foxconn’s new abuses of its workers during the production of the iPhone 11. According to CLW, Foxconn continues to violate Chinese labor laws, but Cook and his mariachis are seen to be brought to the hilt because they continue working with them like nothing.

At this point it is clear that what counts is the peel and that’s it. In fact, we are going to much worse. This same week, the ‘Washington Post’ published the news that one of Apple’s key suppliers was using Uighur forced labor. According to the ‘WaPo’, the company Lens Technology forces former Uighur concentration camp prisoners to make components for Apple devices.

A report from the US Congress says that Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola and Calvin Klein would be among the companies that use Uighur forced labor

The Cupertino company has flatly denied this (in Spain, contacted by El Confidencial, the head of public relations has silenced us for an answer), saying that they they know for good that their production lines at Lens Technology do not use forced labor of “reconditioned” Uighurs. To the rest of the production lines, then give them. Other Lens Technology customers, by the way, are Tesla and Amazon. That response from Apple seems like a clear indicator that it knows what is going on in those factories but decides to ignore it.

The news only confirms what we already assumed. As Bloomberg points out, a report of the United States Congress say what Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola and Calvin Klein they would be among the companies that use forced labor in the “autonomous” Uyghur region, in Xinjiang. This devastating report forced the American Congress to create a law entitled Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which requires that all American companies use neither prisoners nor forced laborers in any aspect of the manufacture of their products.

Right here, my friends, comes the culmination of Apple’s impudence and hypocrisy: the ‘Washington Post’ featured on November 20 how the Cupertino company would have secretly met with congressmen to try to “water down” the law that prohibits trading with companies that use forced laborers. Logically, Apple responded by saying that the ‘Washington Post’ exclusive was “fake news”, as if it were the Trump clown. They are advocates of social justice. Missing plus. Fortunately, the law ended up passing unanimously without the changes demanded by the Apple lobby. It will be necessary to see if it works or if it is just makeup so that no one feels bad about Black Friday.

Protest against Apple in China.  (EFE)Protest against Apple in China.  (EFE)
Protest against Apple in China. (EFE)

Is logical to imagine that the same happens with Huawei, Xiaomi or any other Chinese manufacturer. The only difference between American or European companies and Chinese is the hypocrisy of the former, but the case of Apple is especially bloody. Forcing people to make gadgets is terrible whoever does it, but when you go cool through life beating yourself on the chest, announcing that you are the company that respects the environment the most (is not true), Privacy (another milonga) and human rights (what a folly), corporate falsehood reaches the level of those homophobic telepreachers who are always caught with pornography of 6-year-olds on the MacBook.

And then there are all of us, of course. When Joel came from China he asked me a simple question: What is our responsibility in all this? I asked them about the letter to the Magi a couple of days ago and they sent me an SMS with the headline of this column.


UNESCO’s response to the COVID-19 emergency in Peru

The Peruvian Government, after declaring a State of National Emergency as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, has implemented a series of measures to face this situation. Part of these measures has included the closure of schools and higher education centers, both public and private, as well as of all the sites declared World, Cultural and Natural Heritage by UNESCO.

UNESCO, through the actions of the UNESCO Office in Peru, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the UNESCO Regional Offices for Latin America and the Caribbean (in Santiago, Montevideo and Havana), the IESALC (based in Caracas ), the UNESCO Chairs, and the CRESPIAL (UNESCO Category 2 Center), among others, have placed themselves at the service of the Peruvian State and society in all sectors, in response to the emergency situation.

UNESCO in Peru frames its response strategy in the global directives of UNESCO, as well as in the specific needs of the country and the work with other Agencies of the United Nations system in Peru.

On this page, UNESCO in Peru presents the second edition of its report: “UNESCO in Peru in the face of the COVID-19 emergency: A strategic response”. The brochure offers a complete report and the infographic a brief summary of the actions carried out by UNESCO throughout 2020, in response to the COVID-19 crisis in Peru.


Politics without human rights

The most powerful and complete legal and public policy arsenal for the construction of the constitutional democracy is in the rights humans. Unfortunately, in Mexico there is no political force that has understood this potential to constitute an alternative offer to the traditional positions that move in the right-left spectrum, already converted into a vicious circle. The blind spot of this continuum is clearly expressed by the coming and going of politicians and politicians of different colors with the same placebos offered as ineffective medicine at gigantic costs in material resources and time.

There are times in history – and in your conscious engine: politics– in that having in view opportunities to break with undesirable situations of “normality”, they are not selected as desirable options. In some cases these “normalities” are not abandoned and in others they are abandoned in ways that, in the end, were not the best. This is the case of human rights in our time. Having been the central breaking point with which it was tried to leave behind the horror of the two world wars of the last century, the process of incorporating them into the nation states has been long and incomplete. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights it tried to be the constituent charter of the postwar order. However, the implementation of the legal system to which it originates – international conventions and treaties and national norms – has not become a priority in practical politics. Apart from the civil organizations that fight for its respect or for its realization, the promises of the parties and governments have been inconsistent with the agenda of the human rights. In general, supposedly “more urgent” considerations such as growth, political stability or complicity with institutions that violate them have greater weight in the decisions of governments.

That post-war agreement on human rights is under threat today more than ever. The geopolitical, ideological and national foundations on which it has been sustained are shaking in plain sight. With the honorable exceptions of Canada, most of the British community and Western Europe the great powers military and economics have resisted accepting the human rights agenda as internal political priority, while sometimes they use it to justify their foreign policy and not infrequently their interventionism, as is the case of the United States. China’s policy both internally and towards Hong Kong and ethnic groups such as the Uighurs is openly violating the civic and political rights. Russia and many of its allies violate civic and political rights in broad daylight. The vast majority of countries, whether democratic or not, have shown themselves incapable of internally processing respect for economic rights, social and cultural, such as the right to work, social security, health and education and collective, such as the right to a healthy environment.

In order for Mexico to comply with these obligations, a constitutional reform was made in 2011. Among its provisions, as read in Article 1 of the Constitution, is that “all authorities, within the scope of their powers, have the obligation to promote, respect, protect and guarantee human rights “. It is obvious that practically all national and local authorities are at fault with this constitutional provision. But the most unfortunate thing is that none of the political parties has adopted it as a program of action. We have there another manifestation of blindness.

Academic of the UNAM.


better data for better adaptation strategies

UNESCO, through its Office in San José, promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women in the water resources sector. The Montevideo Strategy sets the roadmap for the implementation of the Regional Gender Agenda towards the fulfillment of the commitments of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a special focus on ensuring cooperation and financing for the fulfillment of regional and international commitments. including those of the Lima Work Program on gender adopted in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The situation of water resources in Central America represents a complex panorama in a region with great challenges at the political, economic and social level; These challenges are intensified by the effects of climate change, precisely because of a weakened state structure and little planning in water management. Central America generally has high water availability, but the water does not reach the entire population or it does so without being of quality, which shows that the management of the resource in the region is barely incipient. The problem in the region is not that there is no water, but that more than 50 million people live in poverty, which increases the gaps in access to water and sanitation.

The Dublin Principle mentions that women play a central role in the provision, management and protection of water resources. The growing interconnectedness between gender, water and sustainable development demands that we do more to ensure greater gender equity in all our efforts to safeguard and properly manage water resources for future generations. The inclusion and strengthening of women in decision-making spaces is necessary. If women are half of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean, it would make sense that they have the same representation in different areas of society. It is a matter of human rights, however, according to UNDP data, women do 75% of unpaid domestic work, one in three of them does not generate income and 54% work in informal contexts, with fragile income and little social protection.

In this context, UNESCO San José and the United Nations World Water Assessment Program (WWAP), presented on November 4 the 2019 edition of the UNESCO WWAP Toolkit of data disaggregated by sex and water and gender indicators. This regional presentation of the Toolkit was accompanied by the launch of its training program that will begin in 2021.

According to WHO data, in more than 80% of cases it is women and girls who are in charge of managing and providing water to families, since in many cases they are the ones who manage household chores. Access to water and sanitation becomes vital for the control of pathogens such as the virus that causes COVID-19, data and information corresponding to this intrinsic relationship between women and water becomes vital in decision-making.

María Ester Serrano and the Minister Patricia Mora of the Ministry of Women in Costa Rica celebrated the launch of this event and mentioned that “every anecdote is a case, and every case a statistic, and if it is added, it reaches scientific evidence” and they mention the need to make visible the actions of women in all areas of life and ensure their human rights.


dozens of life sentences and solitary confinement

About 500 people prosecuted in the maxi-trial against the military and civilians involved, according to the indictment, in the 2016 coup d’état. As a result of the actions that took place at the Akinci air base, near the capital. Dozens of people will have to serve solitary confinement sentences for attempting to kill Erdogan and attack institutional targets.

Ankara (AsiaNews / Agencies) – A rain of life sentences in Turkey today. One of the main maxi-trial against almost 500 defendants belonging – according to the prosecution – to the network of the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, accused of being the mastermind of the (failed) coup d’état in the summer of 2016. At the center of the process are the actions carried out at the Akinci air base in Ankara, supposedly used by the coup plotters as headquarters to launch the attack against the legitimate institutional government of the country.

Dozens of pilots and high-ranking officers hovering around the base were found guilty of attempting to “overthrow the established order” and “assassinate President” Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The defendants planned to bomb various strategic points in the capital, including Parliament.

About 27 people each received dozens of sentences of aggravated life imprisonment, signifying severe incarceration characterized by stricter detention measures. Since 2004, this modality has replaced the death penalty, which is prohibited. At this time, 475 people are being tried (365 of whom are already in preventive detention) and 337 have already received the sentence. Among them is former air force commander Akin Ozturk, who was convicted of attacking government buildings and attempting to kill Erdogan, along with four other gang leaders, who are considered “civilian imams” and were linked to the Gulen network.

Since the night of the attempted coup in mid-July 2016, in which 250 people were killed and for a few hours shaken Erdogan’s power, the Ankara government began a veritable witch hunt. Attacks directed against tens of thousands of suspected opponents, intellectuals, activists, national and foreign personalities, military and judges, teachers, intellectuals and ordinary people. People united by a single matrix: membership, real or supposed, to the network of the Islamic preacher exiled in Pennsylvania (United States).

According to the President, Gülen’s supporters were trying to create a “state within a state” by infiltrating the police forces, the judiciary and other institutions key to the life of the country. Since the night of the coup, 292,000 people have been arrested, almost 100,000 are in prison awaiting trial, and 150,000 state employees (military and civilian) have lost their jobs. To date, the various trial courts have handed down more than 2,500 life sentences.


Ozil hits rock bottom: Arsenal also leaves him out of the list for the Premier League – Europa Directo

The German Mesut Özil has not been included by the London Arsenal in the list of players to dispute the Premier League. The former Real Madrid player will not be able to play for the Gunners until at least the next transfer window in January. Meanwhile, he will only be able to do so with the U21 team.

Mikel Arteta had to select a list of 25 players to play in the domestic championship and has left out Özil, whose contract ends next summer, and Sokratis.

Özil has not played for Arsenal since last March and this season he has not yet entered any call-ups with Arteta.

The German was already out of the list a few days ago to play the Europa League.


Boris Johnson already has a solution for the crisis and the pandemic: more military spending – Europa Directo

Boris Johnson has found a way to lift the spirits of Tory MPs and the rank and file of the party. Polls place the Conservatives fairly on par with Labor – some with Keir Starmer’s party. in front-, which is a big drop from the December 2019 elections, which the Tories won by 11.5 points difference. Dozens of Tory MPs are making no secret of their displeasure at the unfulfilled promises the prime minister made at the end of the summer. At that time, the government anticipated an imminent return to economic normality. The second wave of the coronavirus has required the return of the most drastic measures, so far without very positive results.

Everything is depressing for the Tories shortly before the final culmination of Brexit. The alternative that Johnson presents, the candy with which he tries to make his party and the population forget the hardships of the present, is to return to the past and the naval glories of the empire. It is time to brighten the great power character of the United Kingdom with a large increase in military spending.

Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House in January leaves London without a reliable ally in Washington, even though Donald Trump’s erratic character and his disinterest in European countries were not a guarantee for British foreign policy either. But Biden is a pragmatist that it will try to rebuild relations with Europe and the importance of NATO, and there the United Kingdom can play a relevant role. The downside for London is that a post-Brexit Britain is less interesting as an intermediary in the dialogue with the Europeans for the US. Furthermore, Biden has already made clear that the future of Ulster is a matter that interests you especially.

To remedy this, Johnson has opted for rearmament. An extra expense of £ 16 billion over the next four years. The largest increase in real terms since the time of Margaret Thatcher. There was a prior commitment to increase Defense spending by 0.5 points above inflation, so the final figure could be around 21,500 million.

“This is our opportunity to end the era of withdrawal, transform our Armed Forces, strengthen our global influence, unite our country, invest in new technologies and defend our people and their way of life,” said Boris Johnson.

The Ministry of Finance had resisted Defense requests until now. It was Johnson’s personal intervention that closed the debate. The increase in public spending during the pandemic will force Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak to completely review the budget that was presented in March. Next week, Sunak will present the new data to Parliament. Expected to confirm that UK finances have taken the hardest hit since World War II.

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Under current conditions, analysts see no alternative but to increase taxes – a very difficult drink for conservatives to accept – although no decision in that regard is expected until 2021 when the final economic impact of the pandemic is known.

The Bank of England has predicted that the drop in GDP will be 11% this year, the largest decline in the last three centuries.

Always ready to live up to imperial glories or to emulate Winston Churchill for whom the naval force was the best standard of British influence, Johnson intends to pay special attention to the Navy as a symbol of foreign policy and of the country’s global strength. The extra money will serve to complete the strike group of the two new aircraft carriers already delivered to the Navy, but still pending their final deployment (the first of them will do so next year). Frigates, support ships and aircraft what do you need they were still in the air due to budgetary problems. “More warships for the Royal Navy” is the goal that Johnson has announced.

The Green Party has compared the increase in spending to the £ 4 billion added for the fight against climate change. “We are walking blindly into a dystopian video game without a public debate” about the country’s priorities, has said its number two, Amelia Womack. Pacifist NGOs have been more aggressive in criticizing. “Tanks and warplanes will not keep us safe from the most serious threats we face: pandemic, poverty and the climate emergency. Covid-19 has revealed the superficiality of naive opinions that argue that weapons give us security. You cannot attack a virus with nuclear weapons “, has denounced Symon Hill, of the organization Peace Pledge Union.

The construction of the two aircraft carriers was commissioned by the Gordon Brown Government a decade ago. After coming to power and at the beginning of the era of austerity, David Cameron seriously considered selling one of them, still under construction, but the high price meant that there were no candidates. The contracts made made it more expensive to cancel the order than to carry it to the end, even though the deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan showed that the Army was most in need of the money.

As a symbol of the country’s military power, aircraft carriers belong to an earlier era. These giants of the sea are now much more vulnerable due to the advancement in missile technology. The Chinese anti-ship missile Dong-Feng 21 It is its most recognized adversary since it was put into action in the early 1990s. Mounted on a mobile platform from the ground, it has an operational range of about 1,700 kilometers. It is designed to attack large ships, especially aircraft carriers. It can land on its target at a maximum speed of Mach 10.

It’s not that China has kept its ability to make aircraft carriers obsolete a secret. In military parades, he has presented later versions of the Dong-Feng with a range of 3,000 kilometers.

The reality is that Boris Johnson is not interested in declaring war on China. It is enough for him to warm the patriotic spirits of the Tory deputies who cannot explain how the prime minister could so quickly lose the support he obtained at the polls less than a year ago.

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Write for Rights: An opportunity for governments to defend a sense of humanity

Amnesty International today launches the world’s largest human rights campaign, Write for Rights, in which it calls on governments to rectify injustices against people who are detained or persecuted in countries around the globe, and to lead by example to build a fairer post-COVID-19 world.

“As devastating as it has been, the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought out the best in people. We have witnessed countless acts of compassion and solidarity as people come together in their communities to help those who need it most. Unfortunately, many governments have gone the wrong way, arresting and persecuting human rights defenders, ”said Julie Verhaar, Acting Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“We are at a crossroads: we can choose to build a future that has goodness, solidarity, tolerance and human rights at its core. Governments must seize this moment to demonstrate that they can rectify injustices by releasing prisoners of conscience, ending the persecution of human rights defenders, and respecting and protecting the right of all people to freedom of expression. . “

Write for Rights: The World’s Largest Human Rights Campaign

Every December, people around the world write millions of letters, emails, tweets, Facebook messages and postcards on behalf of others whose human rights are under attack, in what has become the largest rights event humans of the world. The ten cases selected for Write for Rights 2020 refer to private individuals and human rights defenders from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Burundi, Chile, Colombia, Malta, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey.

Gustavo Gatica is a psychology student in Santiago, Chile. On November 8, 2019, he attended a protest against rising inequality, part of a series of mass demonstrations that made headlines around the world for his inspiring example of popular power. The police violently suppressed this protest, and repeatedly fired at protesters with rubber-coated pellets.

Gustavo was hit in both eyes and left permanently blind. Amnesty International is calling for a full investigation into the events that led to Gustavo’s injuries, and for the commanding officers to be held to account.

In Malta, three teenagers from Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea are incarcerated awaiting trial on unfounded terrorism charges after acting as interpreters for the captain and crew of a Maltese tanker that rescued them – themselves and more than 100 others. migrants – from their sinking inflatable boat.

Initially, the captain wanted to take the 114 people, including 20 women and at least 15 children, back in Garabulli, Libya, where they would have been in danger of suffering abuses such as detention under inhumane conditions, extortion and torture.However, after discussing it with the migrants, the captain and crew agreed to take them to Malta.

But when they got there, the three teenagers, who had acted as interpreters, were arrested for allegedly hijacking the ship and for forcing the captain to take them to Malta. They are now charged with very serious crimes that could carry life sentences, simply for refusing to be illegally returned to a place of torture. Amnesty International demands justice for “the three from El Hiblu” and calls for the charges against the young men (now 21, 18 and 16 years old) to be dropped.

Other cases include the following:

  • Germain Rukuki, Burundian human rights defender and prisoner of conscience serving a 32-year prison sentence. He was found guilty because of his human rights work. Amnesty International is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
  • Jani Silva, an environmental defender who represents hundreds of peasant people in the Putumayo region, Colombia, constantly threatened by illegal groups, the army, drug traffickers and multinational companies. In Colombia, human rights defenders face numerous acts of persecution, repression, threats, criminalization, and even homicides. Amnesty International is calling for the protection of Jani Silva and others who, like her, defend human rights.
  • The METU LGBTI Solidarity Group, whose members they face a prison sentence for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Turkey. LGBTI students at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara have been organizing an annual Pride march on campus without restriction for years. In 2019, the peaceful event was dissolved by the police. Students and a teacher were arrested and beaten, and the case is now in court. Amnesty International is calling for all those accused to be acquitted, for the excessive use of force by the police to be investigated, and for students to be free to hold peaceful marches on campus.
  • Idris Khattak of Pakistan, an enforced disappearance researcher for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, was – in a cruel twist of fate – enforced disappearance himself on November 13, 2019, and can now be charged with espionage. Amnesty International calls for his immediate release.

Campaign successes

As seen in previous years, letter writing can really make a difference for people whose cases are featured in Write for Rights, and it often offers tremendous emotional support and encouragement to these individuals and their families.

Nigerian teenager Moses Akatugba was arrested and sentenced to death when he was 15 years old, after being accused of stealing three phones. In 2019 he was released after 800,000 Amnesty International supporters showed their support.

“They sentenced me to death because the police claimed that I had stolen three phones,” says Moses. “But now I am free, because people like you wrote letters to support me. After eight years in jail, and 800,000 letters from Amnesty International supporters around the world, I was released. Those letters kept me spirited. Today I am alive thanks to them. Your letters can save a life. “

In July 2020, the death sentence of a South Sudanese was overturned, thanks in part to Write for Rights. According to his court testimony, Magai Matiop Ngong fired his father’s gun at the ground as a warning to his cousin, who was trying to stop him from fighting another boy in their neighborhood. The bullet ricocheted and hit his cousin, who later died in hospital. Magai, then 15 years old, was tried for murder without a lawyer. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Our research shows that the death penalty is used disproportionately against poor and disadvantaged people. According to international law, and the laws of South Sudan, sentencing a child to death is illegal.

More than 765,000 people took action and wrote to the government of South Sudan to express their solidarity with Magai. The South Sudan Court of Appeal eventually overturned Magai’s death sentence because he was a child at the time of the crime, and sent his case back to the High Court for a proper sentence..

“The power of individual actions to save lives and hold governments to account should never be underestimated. Year after year, we see the enormous impact that something as simple as writing a letter or an email can have, ”said Julie Verhaar.

“Write for Rights is about people who help others, and this way of expressing our shared humanity has never been more important and relevant. Governments must respond to this widespread desire for change by administering justice to those whose human rights are under attack. ”

Additional information

Write for Rights mobilizes hundreds of thousands of people around the world to, through action, change the lives of people at risk. Last year, more than six and a half million actions were taken – an annual increase for the eighteenth year in a row. The Yasaman Aryani case, in Iran, alone, received more than a million shares.

The Write for Rights campaign will run from November 20 to December 31, 2020.


The pandemic hits Brexit: a positive interrupts face-to-face negotiations in the final stretch – Europa Directo

The outbreak of the pandemic forced face-to-face meetings to stop in spring. Even the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, tested positive. The videoconference format dragged on for months, until both parties realized that the only way forward could be with face-to-face meetings where papers and notes could be exchanged. But even so, the main issues in contention have not finished being closed. There are only six weeks left until the United Kingdom makes its exit from the European Union effective and, to this day, there is still no agreement on the future relationship between London and the EU.

And just now, when time is running out, a positive among Barnier’s negotiating team has forced the negotiations to be interrupted this Thursday.

“One of the negotiators on my team has tested positive for COVID-19. With David Frost [el negociador jefe británico] we have decided to suspend negotiations at our level for a short period. The teams will continue their work in full compliance with the guidelines, ”said Barnier.

“I am in close contact with Michel Barnier”, said Frost: “The health of our teams comes first.”

“The Commission has informed us that an official in their delegation has tested positive for COVID-19,” said a British Government spokesman: “We are discussing the implications for the negotiations with them. We have been and will continue to act in accordance with public health guidelines to ensure the health and well-being of our teams.

After last week the negotiations took place in London, this Monday they had resumed in Brussels. “Me and our team have been in talks almost every day since October 22,” Frost said upon arrival: “We are working to reach an agreement, but the only possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and recovers the control of our laws, our commerce and our waters. That has been our constant position from the beginning and we will not change it. There has been some progress in a positive direction in recent days, although of course important elements have not yet been agreed. We will work to take advantage of them and reach a general agreement if possible. But we may not be successful. Either way, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson made clear on October 16, citizens and businesses must prepare for the change that is coming on December 31, whether there is an agreement or not.

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“We want our future cooperation to be open but fair across the board,” Barnier said. And what did he mean? To the main disputed issues: fisheries, the level playing field and the governance of the agreement. Apart from the fact that the United Kingdom continues to pretend to skip international law if it goes ahead with the bankruptcy of the Brexit withdrawal agreement in relation to the Irish protocol.

“Fishing is very complex, it affects several countries and not all in the same way,” a diplomatic source abounds, “and the 27 are also united in this. We know that the quotas cannot be the same before as after Brexit, but an agreement must be reached ».

“We have to find a solution that is sustainable”, say sources from the Spanish Government: “Fishing is a matter of sharing a very traditional fishing environment, very important, for some more than for others in social terms. But in terms of fishing it is important. We also have many cross interests. Both what we fish and what we receive from exports from the UK to our domestic fish market. Fishing is a very special world in which it is as important to fish as to buy the fish.

Regarding the issue of governance: “It is about avoiding the Swiss model”, says a diplomatic source in relation to the trade agreement with the Swiss Confederation: “A model that has proven to be very complicated to manage by the European Commission and by the States, in which having 25 different tables to address the relationship all it does is complicate the relationship and turn marketing into a kind of permanent policy. That can not be”.

“What has not been healthy is that Anglo-British debate that sovereignty does not consist in negotiating an agreement,” says a community source, “but in the other saying the same as you. That is a misunderstanding of what sovereignty is. When a government tells you at a negotiation table that it has made Brexit to be sovereign and immediately afterwards it tells you that since it is sovereign, what you have to do is what it tells you, because then it seems to me that there is a misunderstanding about what the sovereignty”.

What the positive has caused is a disruption of face-to-face conversations, which is the most fruitful format. However, for now, the talks continue, albeit virtually. Barnier must be quarantined but will remain “in permanent contact with David Frost,” say diplomatic sources. The rest of the negotiators who were not in contact with the infected person can continue the conversations, while the rest do so virtually.

What remains on the agenda is the meeting of the 27 ambassadors to the EU this Friday morning to discuss the status of the Brexit negotiations.

“As the prime minister has said,” explains a British source, “we have been totally clear that we want nothing more than a Canadian-style relationship based on free and fair trade. It has always been our preference to reach an agreement and we are working hard to achieve it, but only if we can reach one that is compatible with our sovereignty and thus regain control of our laws, our trade and our waters. That has been our constant position from the beginning and we will not change it.

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“If we cannot reach an agreement that fully respects the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, we will leave with a status like Australia has,” says the British source.

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