Tag Archives: discrimination

Money Alone Can’t Solve Roma Problems

The European Union is willing to spend millions of Euros in an effort to improve the lives of Roma children in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Educational opportunities undoubtedly are a key component of dealing with issues of prejudice and bigotry, but money in itself spent in school improvement is not sufficient for the tasks that lie ahead. An estimated 300,000-500,000 Romas live in Slovakia and a large number inhabit settlements which lack running water or electricity. Roma children do not succeed in school which places them at a disadvantage in seeking decent paying jobs or even securing modern housing.

The story in America of dealing with poverty and discrimination is the importance of simultaneously confronting education, housing, and jobs as well as undertaking programs for adult education. Spending another hundred or two hundred million Euros will not result in much difference unless it also addresses other issues. There is also need for an extensive program dealing with multiculturalism for children in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Japanese Silence About Burakumin

Many Japanese people are sharing the world wide interest in an African American becoming president of the United States, but few ever pause to think about their own nation’s abuse of people who are from buraku backgrounds. A buraku is the term used to describe an area where many people have ancestral ties to the people who were placed at the bottom of feudal society in the Edo period where they carried out low level tasks considered “tainted” according to Buddhist and Shinto beliefs. Many were engaged in butchery and leather work where the killing and use of animal corpses was involved. The estimate of the number of such people in modern Japan ranges from 1.2 million up to three million.

Few Japanese people will even use the expression and its use is considered a conversation stopper. Most large corporations have finally gotten around to hiring people from a buraku area but few smaller sized companies will hire such people. It is commonly assumed people of this background are linked to organized crime. A recent incident in which a leader of the Buraku Liberation League was found to be connected to crime lords reinforced beliefs in their criminality. As a result of this story, Osaka Governor Toru Hashimoto cut all government assistance to buraku areas.

There is not government legislation to deal with discrimination based on one’s origin in Japanese society nor does Japan have a vibrant multicultural education which would raise such topics with students in school. It is believed silence and not seeing are the best solutions to dealing with hate and discrimination.

Segregation Increases For Immigrants In Sweden

Sweden in 2008 experienced its highest level of immigration with most newcomers arriving from Africa and Asia. A recent report observed that immigrants from these areas are behind those born in the European Union in areas such as “eduction, the job market and living arrangements.” Satistics Sweden(SCB)s was surprised at the extent of segregation these individuals were experiencing once arrived in their new homeland. A particular problem noted Lotta Persson of SCB is “they are not eligible in the same was as other groups for upper secondary education, as they are not achieving the right grades, even though we take into account how long they have been in Sweden.” Ironically, immigrants from Africa have rather good education backgrounds but they are more often found in low skilled work.

Sweden has its own version of “white flight” as native born Swedes move from neighborhoods containing a high proportion of immigrants from Asia and Africa. Persson states bluntly: “they are definitely discriminated against in society. This discrimination may be one of the reasons for segregation as it might be m ore difficult for them to get loans to buy a house.”

Ironically, the same reasons for discrimination exist in Sweden as in America and the same consequences are also found-difficulty in securing loans to purchase a house.

Turkish Minorities Get Support From Political Party

The past weekend marked several demonstrations in Turkey by members of the Alevi community to protest the ongoing bias and discrimination they face from dominant Muslim groups which refuse to recognize them as a legitimate Islamic force. Historically, the liberal minded Alevi, have sided with leftist political parties, and were surprised when the Nationalist Movement Party(MHP)reached out to Alevis and offered support for their fight for equality. Deviet Bahcli, leader of the MHP, urged an end to separating Turkish people on the basis of ethnicity or religion. “The MHP is sincerely ready to solve the problems of our Alevi brothers through mutual understanding, and to start a new process.”

Ironically, in the past, the MHP has been involved in anti-Alevi demonstrations so its turn around has caused confusion among Alevis, but also interest in discovering a new political ally. It could simply be a political move to gain votes against the governing Justice and Development Party(AKP) which has not met Alevi demands for an end to discrimination and recognition of them as Muslims who have a more liberal approach to life.

PM Olmert Admits Prejudice Against Israeli Arabs

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been gradually changing his attitude to reflect a more sophisticated and multicultural position regarding the Israel-Arab conflict. He came out strongly in support of ending discrimination against Israeli Arabs. “There is no doubt that for many years there has been discrimination against the Arab population that stemmed from various reasons.” He met with representatives of Arab groups that want the Attorney General to investigate an October, 2000 incident in which Israel officers killed 13 Arabs. Olmert said he lacked power to intervene in the case.

There is conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority but frequently over looked in the conflict between Israelis and Arabs is the rampant discrimination that exists in Israel against its Muslim citizens. Israel lacks control over the Arab world but it can end discrimination against citizens within its own country.

Japan Insists Racism Is Ending

The Japanese government in a new report to the United Nations claims it has made “every conceivable” effort over the past seven years to rid the nation of any form of racial discrimination. Human rights groups, and Doudou Diene, the UN special rapporteur on racism, have called for passage of legislation which would make clear racism and xenophobia are against the law. However, the government has insisted that Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution makes it illegal to engage in racist activities so there is no need of any new legislation.

The Japanese report focuses intently on the situation of the Ainu, Korean residents, and other foreigners. Of the 23,782 Ainu, 93.5% of youth to on to high school and 17.4% on to college. However, about 30% of Hokkadio’s Ainu claim they experience discrimination at school, in job interviews or when getting married. It does not appear passing a law would be that onerous an event in Japanese society.

Lithuania Commits To End Discrimination

After months of wrangling over words and issues, the parliament of Lithuania is now prepared to pass legislation which will take a dramatic stand on prejudice and discrimination in the nation. The new law will prohibit discrimination of people over gender, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, beliefs or creed, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity or religion. The legislature did agree to exempt religious institutions which are dedicated to propogating certain values from being compelled to violate the basis of their institutional beliefs.

The legislation finally places Lithuania in accordance with the European Union Law on equal rights. The work of the Lithuania legislature is remarkable and goes a long way to protect the rights of all members of the community against hate and discrimination.

Baha’i Prejudice Continues In Turkey

A world wide six million member religious group continues encountering prejudice in Turkey which refuses to recognize the Baha’i faith as a significant religious entity. A Baha’i is not allowed to enter his/her religious faith on identify cards which are important documents in modern societies. Although, the Turkish Baha’s community does not encounter the severe discrimination against them which is practiced in Iran, they still confront the daily issues of being an ignored religion in a society that essentially is Muslim. A European Union report noted, “administrative documents such as identify cards include an entry on religion that may be filled in or left blank. this might lead to discriminatory practices.” The United States State Department has also expressed its concerns over the manner in which people of the Bahai’ faith are treated in Turkey. It is common for Interior Ministry police to check up on them and create an image that somehow a Baha’i is not a loyal Turk. Parents of Baha’i children have to deal with their children being given instruction in the Muslim faith in schools, but there is no allowance for learning about their own religion.

It is clear that Baha’i members do not deal with threats of jail and loss of jobs which is very common in Iran, but there is no reason why Turkey cannot recognize the religion and accord it all the freedom and opportunities provided other religious faiths.