Jason Loh Seong Wei

Jason Loh Seong Wei

Thursday, 20 May 2021 15:46

UNSC should issue fresh resolution

POST-ARAB Israeli wars, Israeli Zionists have been emboldened to expel Palestinians through evictions and land grab, in defiance of international laws.

One can refer to United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2334, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the two-state solution. UNSCRs are binding for member states under Article 25 of the United Nations Charter.

The latest Sheikh Jarrah incident is part of the ongoing, systematic and concerted campaign of ethnic cleansing and apartheid in Jerusalem since 1967.

Zionist provocations in response to peaceful protests against illegal and criminal evictions in Sheikh Jarrah by storming and violating the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque on the last Friday night prayers of
Ramadan on May 7 resulted in Hamas, the elected and, hence, legitimate authority in Gaza, to react by firing rockets into Israel.

One doesn't need to be a supporter of Hamas to recognise the fact that this organisation cannot be equated to the Islamic State (Daesh) or Al-Qaeda. It's not a

terrorist outfit, but a resistance movement. Its founder, the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was  assassinated by Israel in 2004.

The firing of rockets, therefore, can't and shouldn't be construed as acts of terror. Rather it's in self-defence and a moral duty against Zionist intrusion and aggression in a territory under its occupation.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) should convene to issue a fresh resolution to compel Israel to allow UN officials and ICC investigators to enter Gaza to probe war crimes, with priority given to the state of Israel in what's an asymmetric and disproportionate conflict.

In fact, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has expressed intention to press ahead with an inquiry.

Non-compliance and non-cooperation by Israel would result in the enforcement of sanctions.

This would be reminiscent of UNSCR 687 of 1991 (and by extension, UNSCR 1441 of 2002) with specific reference to the demand that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein then, allow UN inspectors to monitor and verify claims of disarmament of the "weapons of mass destruction" arsenals.

In the resolution on Israel, the UNSC should call for Jerusalem to be placed under an international body and call on countries, including the United States, that have moved their embassies to the city to reverse the decision. At the same time, a UN peacekeeping force should be stationed to preserve and maintain the status quo.

In addition, the UNSC must demand for an end to the land, air and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League should take the lead, too, as the blockade, which is stifling life for Gazans, should be part of the agenda of de-escalation and holding Israel to account.

Furthermore, the UNSC has the opportunity to recall UNSCR 497 of 1981 in which the annexation of Golan Heights from Syria in 1973 was declared "null and void and without international legal effect".

With the backing of like-minded countries, Turkey could send its navy to the limits of the exclusive economic zone of Gaza to contain and pressure Israel in the eastern Mediterranean and send a strong signal of its determination to end the blockade, sooner or later.

Now more than ever, Israel is showing the world that it's on the wrong side of history.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't care as his focus is only on saving his skin from corruption charges.

Netanyahu is also bent on annexing the West Bank — pursuing ethnic cleansing and apartheid to its fullest possible — putting the lie to the two-state solution.

Reactions the world over against Israel's atrocities are rising as he drags the nation down to serve his personal and political interests. This may prove to be the beginning of Netanyahu's undoing.

The writer is head of social, law and human rights at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research

Published in New Straits Times on Wednesday, 19 May 2021.

All over the world, we are witnessing rising levels of violent hate crime inspired by religious ideology for which there seems to be no lasting and sustainable solutions.

For example, India is now one of the top five countries in the world known for physical hostility against religious minorities, according to Pew Research.

For a start, the call should be to increase awareness of the phenomenon, as well as cultivate a sense of empathy with victims of religious violence and persecuted minorities who are not our co-religionists or compatriots.

Specific examples of religious violence around the world include ethno-religious cleansing of the Rohingya by the Buddhist Burmese majority; lynching of Muslims by Hindutva supremacists in India; vigilante persecution of non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan; communal and terrorist attacks on the Copts in Egypt; sporadic inter-ethnic and inter-religious violence in parts of Indonesia such as Sulawesi and West Papua/Irian Jaya; militant Buddhists in Sri Lanka targeting religious minorities, especially Muslims; acts of terrorism by Boko Haram against Nigerian Christians; and continuing oppression of Palestinian Muslims and Christians by Zionists (whose Jewishness or DNA credentials could well be dubious and), justified (wrongly so) by an appeal to a fantasy notion of biblical legacy.

It's submitted that the roots of religious violence lie deeper than just religious fanaticism. Religious identity only provides that ideological cloak for the competing and contestation of rival political, social or economic interests.

FIRSTLY, we have to be sensitive and empathetic to the plight of our fellow human beings in other parts of the world suffering from genocide and violent persecution irrespective of ethnicity and religion.

SECONDLY, we should be moved to take some form of concrete action, however small, in terms of that which is outside our society (that is, regional, international) which directly relates to these situations.

The kind of practical action we can take might be:

SPREADING the word to others such as neighbours, colleagues, co-religionists;

INVOLVEMENT with non-governmental organisations as members or volunteers/supporters in organising roadshows, public talks, seminars and so on to create awareness and explore concrete measures to address religious violence, etc;

COLLECTIVE prayers at mosques, churches, temples; and,

PETITIONING the relevant authorities such as Wisma Putra, and international bodies such as the United Nations, Asean, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League, etc.s to pressure and assist host governments to combat the scourge of religion-based terrorism.

We at EMIR Research pride ourselves in taking the central or middle ground of moderation and rejecting extremes on both sides of the spectrum or polar opposites. It, therefore, behoves us to speak up about such issues with the view of promoting solidarity, sympathy and support for the affected communities (just as in the case of the Palestinians) in the name of humanity and universal values.

Whether these communities suffer from internal displacement due to ethno-religious conflict and cleansing or intense and institutional persecution by both state and society, all of us have a role to play in standing up to violence done in the name of our religion (whichever it is).

Not to mention, too, that so-called religion-inspired violence too often leaves behind a trail of destruction (infrastructural, environmental) that sets back the sustainability and liveability of these zones of conflagration. Thus, violence in the name religion also interlocks with environmental and sustainable development issues as embodied by theUN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

In conclusion, in our effort to build a better, and more just, equitable, progressive and peaceful world, we certainly cannot avoid highlighting these issues, sensitive though it may be to a few. Speaking and standing up against religious violence should perhaps be on top of our agenda for the 21st century, among other policy challenges.

May we and our government have that resolve to articulate forcefully on this subject — beyond just the Palestine issue — on behalf of oppressed Muslims and non-Muslims alike as part of the common challenges we face as the human race.

The writer is head of Social, Law & Human Rights at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research

Published in: New Straits Times, Thursday 26 November 2020

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/11/644362/world-must-speak-out-against-religious-violence