Category: Global

Russian Man Arrested Under Anti-Terror Law For Promoting Yoga

A yoga teacher in Russia has been charged with illegal missionary activity under a controversial new law designed to fight terrorism.

Computer programmer Dmitry Ugay was detained by police in St Petersburg in October while giving a talk at a festival about the philosophy behind yoga.

Ugay says he was stopped 40 minutes into his discussion, put into a car and taken to a police station without being informed of his apparent offense.

The 44-year-old now faces a fine for allegedly conducting illegal missionary activity, an administrative offense under the new Yarovaya law, a package of legal amendments intended to fight terrorism that is named after its author, the MP Irina Yarovaya. The new legislation includes restrictions on missionary activity, religious groups, and followers of what the government deems ‘non-traditional’ religions.

Ugay’s arrest comes after he was accused by fellow festival-goer, Nail Nasibulin, of recruiting young people to join into the ranks of this pseudo-Hindu organisation under the guise of cultural events”.

Two months after his arrest and subsequent release, he now faces a fine at a court hearing next week in St Petersburg, state news agency Rapsi reported.

But Mr Ugay, who admits following Hinduism, strenuously denied the other claims, telling the Meduza news agency: “I did not name a single religious organisation in my speech, nor did I use a single religious book, and did not name a single religious figure apart from Christ and Buddha.

The arrest has been met with concern in Russia, with critics calling the wording of the Yarovaya law open to interpretation.

Alexander Verkhovsky, head of the Moscow-based Sova Centre which monitors the exploitation of anti-terror measures, said: “It’s entirely unsurprising that police officers on the ground cannot work it out.

“Because the law exists, it is going to be implemented somehow. It cannot be implemented well because of the stupidity of the phrasing.”

He said in Mr Ugay’s case it was unclear what religious group he was allegedly persuading people to follow.

Mr Verkhovsky added: “What was he calling people to join? Yoga is in no way a religious group.”

A Hare Krishna follower has also been charged with illegal missionary activity for handing out literature, and faces a 50,000 rouble (£68) fine.

And the Salvation Army was also fined and had 36 copies of the bible confiscated after they were not properly labelled as religious material.



Neo Nazi Couple Sentenced For Being Part of a Terror Group

A British neo-Nazi couple who named their son after Adolf Hitler was sentenced Tuesday to several years in prison for being part of a terrorist group.

Adam Thomas, 22, and Claudia Patatas, 38, from Banbury, Oxfordshire, were found guilty of being members of National Action – an extreme right-wing group that was banned in 2016.

Thomas was sentenced for six years and six months, and Patatas for five years. In total, six members of the group were convicted. A friend of the couple, Darren Fletcher, was sentenced to five years after admitting he was also a member of the National Action group. Daniel Bogunovic, 27, from Leicester, was sentenced to six years and four months. Two other men, Joel Wilmore, 24, a cyber-security worker and National Action Midlands cell “banker”, and Nathan Pryke, 26, a van driver described as the group’s “security enforcer”, were the last members convicted. Pryke was jailed for five years and five months, and Wilmore was jailed for five years and 10 months.

Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court had heard how Thomas, who was  a former Amazon security guard, and Patatas, a wedding photographer, gave their child the middle name “Adolf”.

Thomas, who even had swastika scatter cushions at his home, said the name was given in “admiration” of the German dictator. The jury also saw photos of Thomas as he posed  with his newborn son while wearing the hooded robes of the Ku Klux Klan.

The court also heard how Patatas, who moved to the UK from Portugal, told another National Action member “all Jews must be put to death”.

Thomas once told his partner he found “all non-whites intolerable”.

The couple, who also wanted to “bring back concentration camps”, were found guilty after a seven-week trial.

Thomas, who was rejected from joining the army twice, was also convicted on a majority verdict of having a terrorist manual. The couple had also both been involved in the desecration of war memorials, including one in Warwickshire, and were “equally extreme” in their views and actions, according to the judge.

When sentencing Thomas and Patatas, Judge Melbourne Inman said both had “a long history of violent racist beliefs” and described National Action as a group with “horrific aims”.

“These are not idle words,” the judge said. “The vile regime you and Thomas worship, and which you wish to impose on this country, did – and would do – exactly that.”

“Its aims and objectives are the overthrow of democracy in this country by serious violence and murder, and the imposition of a Nazi-style state which would eradicate whole sections of society by such violence and mass murder,” the judge added.

Indian Sex Workers Fight For The Right To Refuse Rescue

MUMBAI, INDIA — Reports of forced labor at a shelter for abused women run by a charity in India sparked fresh fears on Monday that the country’s long-awaited anti-trafficking bill could lead to consenting sex workers being locked up and treated like victims.

The Lower House of the Indian Parliament cleared the anti-trafficking bill in July this year and it is expected to be tabled in the Upper House in December.

India’s women’s minister has said it aims to unify existing anti-trafficking laws, prioritize survivors’ needs and prevent victims such as those found in brothel raids from being arrested and jailed like traffickers.

But sex workers’ organizations say it does not distinguish between victims of trafficking and women doing sex work out of choice, and could lead to the latter being held in shelters.

“There is a concern among sex workers’ rights movements about adult consenting sex workers being incarcerated in protection homes,” said Aarti Pai of the India-based National Network of Sexworkers.

Prajwala houses 600 women in its shelter in Hyderabad. Joshua Caroll, based in Myanmar, and who works for The Guardian, was in the city for six weeks and met seven survivors from Prajwala and reported on the conditions at the home.

Caroll reported that the seven women he interviewed told him that they were ill-treated, exploited and felt caged. The women preferred staying at a prison over the home.

Caroll reported that his request to visit shelter was rejected by Sunita Krishnan who runs the shelter.

One of the survivors as saying: “I was pulled out from a sex work by Hyderabad police and housed at Prajwala. For about a year, I was made to sew and clean bathrooms for money that I never received. It would have been better to be in a prison, at least you can meet with your family there.”

Another survivor described the atmosphere inside Prajwala as being one of fear and despair. Those who rebelled against their detention were beaten, she alleged. The inmates have no contact with the outside world. There are several instances of inmate self-harming and suicide attempts at the shelter, according to the women.

A 26-year-old Uzbek national, who was rescued from the flesh trade and lodged at the Prajwala home in Ranga Reddy district for rehabilitation allegedly committed suicide in April this year.

Women who had stayed at the home said that they were forced to work under the “life skills” program, which Prajawala describes as part of its “rescue and rehabilitation”strategy. The women said if they resisted, the police would be called and they received a severe beating, a woman said.

Another woman who stayed at the home two years ago said she had beaten up and her belongings confiscated. “They hit my head with a stick,” she recalled.

Of the seven former residents, five said they witnessed staff beating other detainees or were subjected to violence themselves.

Asked about the report, Krishnan alleged that the seven witnesses were paid off.

“I met this journalist at an awards function and he asked me about my grants. I know he was commissioned to damage my identity. I wrote about this on my blog,”  Krishnan said. “He spoke to seven survivors and has named none. What about the 20,000 girls I have rescued?”

She said the entire story is judged on the experience of the seven residents. “He has not visited my shelter but sent me a mail asking four questions, like ‘Do you beat up inmates’. How do I answer such questions,”  Krishnan said,

She said she “knew the lobby backing him (Mr Caroll).”

“These are girls were sent to my home by the court, and I am responsible till they stay there. If the survivors were mistreated, they would have told the court and not a journalist,” she said.

Amazon Accused of Asking Spanish Police to Force Workers Back to Warehouse Floor and Monitor Productivity

Amazon asked police in Spain to intervene in a mass strike at a warehouse on the outskirts of Madrid, according to local reports.

Close to 90 percent of the workers — almost 1,600 employees — participated in the walkout at Spain’s largest Amazon warehouse in San Fernando de Henares near Madrid, and will continue to strike, Reuters reported.

Amazon is accused of requesting that local police forces stop the strike and force workers back on to the warehouse floor. According to Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, supervisors at Amazon even asked police to stay on site during the day to ensure that worker productivity levels remained high.

A source at Spanish union CCOO, which helped coordinate the strikes, told Business Insider that Amazon “wanted to send the police inside the warehouse to push people to work.”

Amazon’s request “dumbfounded” police, according to El Confidencial. “The request was  rejected by the police, who maintained that controlling labor productivity doesn’t fall within its powers,” a police source said.

Amazon denied that it had asked police to intervene in the strike. A spokeswoman told Business Insider:

“Amazon is a responsible business that puts its customers and associates first. We always work with public authorities, including the police, to ensure the safety of our people and our operations.

“However any suggestion that we have used this relationship in an improper way is categorically wrong. Anyone who understands the way businesses and local authorities work will know that these ludicrous suggestions are the worst kind of misinformation.”

However, this is not the first time Amazon has asked police to intervene in Amazon warehouse protests in Spain, El Confidencial notes. When workers went on strike on Prime Day in July, Amazon asked police to guarantee workers access across the picket line and to trucks carrying merchandise. The strikes in July resulted in clashes with police, including some arrests.

Majority Female Homicide Victims are Killed by Family or Partners, According to U.N. Study

The “most dangerous place” for women around the world may be at home. More than half of female murder victims last year were killed by their partners or family members, according to a new United Nations study.

he findings were released by the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Sunday to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The report found that of 87,000 recorded female homicide cases last year, 50,000, or 58%, were committed by the victims’ intimate partners or family members. The toll equates to six women killed every hour, or 137 killed every day, by people they know.

“Women continue to pay the highest price as a result of gender inequality, discrimination and negative stereotypes,” UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov told Agence France-Presse. “The fact that women continue to be affected by this type of violence to a greater degree than men is indicative of an imbalance in power relations between women and men inside the domestic sphere.”

Anger Mounts as South Korea Ends Program Created to Aide ‘Comfort Women’

South Korea has announced it will dissolve the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation. The Japanese-funded foundation was established in 2016 to support the victims of Japanese wartime sexual slavery, often known as “comfort women”

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said the move risked damaging relations and foreign minister Taro Kono called the decision “unacceptable”. “If international pledges are broken then forging ties between countries becomes impossible and as a member of the international community we urge South Korea to act responsibly,” Abe told reporters.

The widely expected decision effectively kills a controversial 2015 agreement to settle a decades-long impasse over the sexual slavery issue and threatens to aggravate a bitter diplomatic feud between the Asian U.S. allies over history.

Relations between the two neighbors are already strained after a South Korean court ordered a Japanese company to pay compensation for wartime labour. Bilateral ties have continued to deteriorate under South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who has focused on improving relations with North Korea and sees Japan as a potential obstacle.

As part of the pact, Abe offered his “most sincere apologies” and the two sides agreed to “finally and irreversibly” resolve the issue of “comfort women”, a common euphemism for the victims.

Japan contributed about $9 million to establish a foundation to support surviving victims and their families. About $3.9 million has already been paid to 34 surviving victims and 58 families of deceased victims, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news. The government has not decided what to do with the remaining funds but plans to consult various civic groups and the Japanese government.

South Korea said the foundation did not sufficiently reflect the opinions of the women. In announcing the decision, Seoul’s ministry of gender equality and family, which managed the foundation, said: “We will try our best in setting up policies to recover the honor and dignity of the victims. We have … decided to end the project based on the result of our reviews and current circumstances around the foundation.”

Study Suggests 40 Million People Won’t Have Access to Insulin by 2030

As the number of people living with diabetes continues to rise, the access to insulin needed to meet growing demand will fall short, a new study predicts.

By 2030, 79 million adults with type 2 diabetes are expected to need insulin to manage their condition and if current levels of access remain, only half of them will be able to be able to get an adequate supply, according to a modeling study published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

Access to the drug must be significantly improved, the researchers warn, particularly in the African, Asian and Oceania regions, which will be most affected.

“These estimates suggest that current levels of insulin access are highly inadequate compared to projected need, particularly in Africa and Asia, and more efforts should be devoted to overcoming this looming health challenge,” said Dr. Sanjay Basu, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University in the US, who led the research.

“Despite the UN’s commitment to treat non-communicable diseases and ensure universal access to drugs for diabetes, across much of the world insulin is scarce and unnecessarily difficult for patients to access.”

Insulin is needed to treat all people with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes. The latter form of the disease is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity.

Basu’s team set out to explore how rates of diabetes will change over the next 12 years, namely by how much numbers will rise, in order to predict the amount of insulin that will be needed and whether everyone who needs it will have access.

Using data from the International Diabetes Federation and 14 studies to get a picture of type 2 diabetes numbers across 221 countries, the team modeled the burden of type 2 diabetes from 2018 to 2030.

They predicted that, worldwide, the number of adults with type 2 diabetes will rise from 406 million in 2018 to 511 million in 2030. The United States will have the third highest numbers globally, with 32 million people predicted to be living with the condition in 2030.

“The number of adults with type 2 diabetes is expected to rise over the next 12 years due to aging, urbanization and associated changes in diet and physical activity,” said Basu.

However, not all people with diabetes require insulin. Of that global total of 511 million, 79 million were predicted to be in need of insulin to manage their diabetes — a 20% rise in the demand for insulin — and only 38 million are likely to have access to it based on current resources.

Insulin treatment is expensive and the market is currently dominated by three manufacturers, according to the study.

“Unless governments begin initiatives to make insulin available and affordable, then its use is always going to be far from optimal,” said Basu.

American Missionary Killed After Trespassing on Remote Island

An American man was killed on an island inhabited by a tribe that resides on the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands hundreds of miles off the coast of India.

The American was identified as 27-year-old John Allen Chau, who sources said was a Christian missionary who wanted to convert the Sentinelese tribe that inhabits the island where he was killed.

Chau was killed by members of the tribe, which is a protected class under Indian law, according to police officials. Dependra Pathak, Director General of Police of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, told CNN: “We refuse to call him a tourist. Yes, he came on a tourist visa but he came with a specific purpose to preach on a prohibited island,” Pathak said. He also stressed that the Sentinelese must be left alone and that any forced contact with the outside world could put them in danger.

A complaint has been filed in Chennai by the US consulate there. The Chennai FIR is a missing persons complaint that was filed at the request of Chau’s mother.

Chau, sources said, was a missionary who wanted to meet the Sentinelese in order to convert them to Christianity. He was also looking for “adventure”, the source said.

Police spokesperson Deepak Yadav, said the Sentinelese is a sensitive tribe living in that area for 60,000 years. They should not be contacted. They could be prone to diseases from outside world. The Coast Guard and Indian Navy carry out patrolling to prevent people from entering.

Sources say Chau contacted some fishermen in order to reach the North Sentinel Island. A group of seven fishermen agreed to help and took to a forest located on the island.

Chau was murdered on the North Sentinel Island, which is part of the Andaman Islands, and seven people have been arrested in connection with the murder. The seven arrested are local fishermen who allegedly helped Chau reach the North Sentinel Island.

According to the fishermen, they used a wooden boat fitted with motors to travel to the island on November 15. Chau spent the day on the island and returned with arrow wounds. When Chau returned to the island the next day the tribespeople broke his canoe. Chau returned to the island on the 16th, but never came back. The fisherman who brought Chau to the island said they saw his body being drug around by the tribespeople.

His body has not yet been recovered.

Russian Activists at LGTBQIA Conference Attacked With Acid-Like Substance

Moscow- The fifth annual LGBTQIAPP+ Family Conference was set to take place on November 9th, but was cancelled early due to volunteers being attacked for the second year in a row.

Conference organizers initially managed to secure a location for the event for free, but funding issues forced organizers to raise money via crowdfunding to hire security for the venue. Unfortunately, the added safety measures weren’t enough to keep participants and volunteers at the event safe.

The LGBTQIAPP+ Family Conference aims to bring together activists, psychologists, therapists, educators and health professionals who would not otherwise have the possibility to receive information as to how to best support the LGBTQIA community.

Same-sex parenting is not explicitly banned in Russia, but LGTBQIA parents face threats under a 2013 law banning the spread of “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. If they look for support on parenting or in their relationship, they have “nowhere to turn,” the organizers said when explaining the importance of the conference.

“We managed to provide video seminars on Saturday [November 10] and tried to provide workshops on Sunday. But unfortunately the address got out again and we received direct threats regarding further attacks. Thus we decided to cancel the afternoon sessions for the security of our participants and volunteers,” Nadeshda Aronchik, a co-organizer of the conference says.

“It was devastating that the work of six months just vanished,” she continued. “But I decided not to give up and we are already planning to make one day of the conference take place in December.”

On the morning the conference was to start, November 9, the conference venue address, which had been kept confidential for security reasons, was leaked on VK ( VKontakte, a Russian social media platform) and was rapidly picked up by a number of homophobic groups. Yulia Malygina, director of Resource LGBTQIA Moscow, attempted to file an online complaint with the police, but due to a technical glitch was not able to finalize it.

Around lunchtime, the site started receiving calls and online messages to cancel the conference. When the organizers and volunteers arrived at 3 p.m., management told them it had decided not to host the conference so as to not jeopardize the security of other events taking place there. “It was clear how difficult this decision was for the management,” Malygina said.

Resource LGBTQIA Moscow notified participants about the cancellation, but volunteers remained at the site. At 7 p.m., a group of five or six volunteers left for a shop across the street. Aronchik said at this point, one person ran towards the volunteers and sprayed them with an “acid substance.” The substance hit two people in the eyes, but also affected other people in the group who were also sprayed.

The two volunteers that were injured received hospital treatment and are in stable condition. They are being kept under constant monitoring as the substance may lead to longterm consequences. Malygina said that people at the site told her they had seen the assailant there earlier that day, asking questions about the conference and waiting outside the building.

While the substance is yet to be identified by police, Aronchik told Pink News she was  sure it was not pepper-spray, as it has been reported elsewhere.

“They were sprayed with the same acid substance as me and my colleagues last year,” she says. Last year, a group of four men attacked conference guests, organizers and volunteers with an unknown substance, forcing the conference’s third day to be cancelled.

Aronchik believes the person responsible for this year’s attack is related to the far-right group who orchestrated the one last year. Her suspicion is reinforced by messages the conference organisers received after the November 9 attack.

“After the attack, the organisers received threats through calls and SMS saying they should ‘die’ and ‘burn in hell’ and saying, ‘How did you like our present? Last year was only the beginning,’” Aronchik says, adding that they reported the threats to the police.

Immediately after the attack, Malygina called the police, who arrived 40 minutes later. But when they learned who had called them, the police refused to provide any assistance, stating “it wasn’t their territory” and left. They suggested calling another police precinct responsible for that site. Those police arrived two-and-a-half hours later. Aronchik describes the police’s attitude to the LGBT+ activists as “ambiguous.”

“They were as friendly as Russian police can be,” she says. She accompanied the volunteers targeted in the attack to the police. Aronchik recalls: “The policeman was semi-friendly—he had some homophobic and misogynistic statements but not as homophobic as I’ve experienced before, so it was kind of fine. So all in all I’d say, for the Russian police, it was OK”

The violence has been decried by various LGTBQIA organizations. “It is totally unacceptable for activists to face threats and attacks simply for holding a conference,” said Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch “The Russian authorities need to do more to ensure that these threats and attacks stop.”

The organizers’ biggest issue now is funding, as they can’t afford to rent a venue and they also need to provide security . “We are currently looking for donors or any other help in Moscow and outside.” Aronchik says. Their crowdfunding campaign can be found here.

German newspaper prints names of 33,293 refugees who died trying to get to Europe

A German newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel, has  listed names of 33,293 people it says died while trying to immigrate to Europe between 1993 and May of this year. The piece includes 46 pages of victims’ names, ages and countries of origin, as well as causes and dates of death. 

One entry is a 15-year-old boy who drowned on 15 November 2016 when a rubber dinghy he was on with 23 others sank while trying to travel from Libya to Europe.

Another tells of Iraqi migrant Talat Abdulhamid, 36, who froze to death on 6 January after walking for 48 hours through the mountains on the Turkish-Bulgarian border.

Mamadou Konate, 33, from Mali did manage to make it to Italy — but  died earlier this year in a blaze that consumed a ramshackle camp in San Severo.

The newspaper said it wanted to document “the asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants who died since 1993 as a consequence of the restrictive policies of Europe on the continent’s outer borders or inside Europe”. 

The majority of the people on the newspaper’s list drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.

Last year was the deadliest for migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean, with at least 5,079 dying or going missing during their journey, according to the UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

“While overall numbers of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean by the eastern route were reduced significantly in 2016 by the EU-Turkey deal, death rates have increased to 2.1 per 100 in 2017, relative to 1.2 in 2016,” the IOM said in a September report.

“Part of this rise is due to the greater proportion of migrants now taking the most dangerous route – that across the central Mediterranean – such that 1 in 49 migrants now died on this route in 2016.” According to a spokesperson for the IOM. 

Some of the immigrants who succeeded in reaching Europe later died in violent attacks or killed themselves in custody while waiting to be deported back to their home countries.

A 17-year-old Somali boy died when neo-Nazis in the eastern German town of Schmoellnhe forced him to jump off a tower on Oct 21, 2016. A 30-year-old man from Uganda committed suicide in an immigrant detention center on the coast of southern England while awaiting deportation. 

“We want to honor them” Der Tagesspiegel wrote. “And at the same time we want to show that every line tells a story…and that the list keeps getting longer, day by day.”

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