World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Department of Public Information - News and Media Services Division - New York
Durban, South Africa
31 August 7 September 2001
RD/D/41
6 September 2001

Plenary
AM Meeting

ADDRESSING RACISM CONFERENCE, NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS CALL

FOR URGENT ACTION BY MEMBER STATES TO COMBAT DISCRIMINATION

As the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance neared the end of its deliberation, a number of international human rights organizations and national rights groups maintained that governments were failing in their responsibility to deal with the human rights crises that generated so much anger and frustration in civil society.

Echoing the sentiments of many speakers, the representative of Human Rights Watch urged governments to drop their denial and equivocation and turn wholeheartedly to remedying racism and all forms of intolerance. Hope, rhetoric and apology were not enough. "There is no substitute for action", she said. The Conference must be about the experience of victims, justice, government accountability and follow-up.

The representative of Amnesty International said what had emerged from the ranks of civil society was essentially a cry for help. Governments had a critical duty to listen and to act with a renewed sense of urgency. He urged governments to recognize the abuses of the past, including those related to past forms of slavery and colonialism. "In speaking, he said that Amnesty International disassociated itself from parts of the document adopted by the NGO Forum which reflect extreme views.

In all, this morning the Conference heard from 28 non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Their members, representing indigenous populations, religious societies, youth groups and national human rights organizations, urged the Conference to focus its attention on the inalienability of all basic human rights in its final Declaration and Programme of Action.

The NGOs from all regions of the world have been a vocal presence in Durban since the Conference opened last Friday, approving an NGO Declaration and Programme of Action, which were presented to the President of the Conference yesterday.

The Conference, which opened last week and ends tomorrow, 7 September, has set as a goal adopting a Declaration and Programme of Action that can be used as a framework by individual countries, governments and their civil society partners to promote policies of tolerance and further protect citizens from all forms of discrimination.

The meeting was also addressed by Antonia Mercader, Minster of Education and Culture of Uruguay.

The representative of Mali also addressed the meeting.

The representatives of Iraq and Malaysia also exercised their right of reply.

Also speaking to the meeting this morning were the Islamic Women's Institute of Iran; the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development; AFRECure -- All for Reparations and Emancipation; Al-Khoei Foundation; Fraternite Notre Dame; Canadian Hispanic Congress; Union des ecrivains et artistes de Cuba; European Roma Rights Centre ; Organization for the Solidarity of the People's of Asia, Africa and Latin America; International Institute for Peace; Institute on Race, Health Care and the Law -- University of Dayton ; International Save the Children Alliance; World Alliance of Reformed Churches; Amnesty Alliance; Grand Council of the Crees/Eenou Astchee; Rights of Children; Guyana Human Rights Association; Te Kawa Maro -- Maori Organization; International Catholic Migration Commission; Human Rights Association of Turkey; Susila Dharma International Association; Asociacion Proyecto Caribe; Mujeres Peruanas Unidas en Argentina; Espacio Afro Americano; World Organization Against Torture and the Metis National Council.

The Conference will continue its general debate this afternoon at 3 p.m.

Statements

ANTONIO MERCADER, Minister of Education and Culture of Uruguay: Convinced that democracy is the only political system which allows respect and enjoyment of human rights for all individuals, we conceive multicultural and multi-ethnic diversity as an enriching factor and acknowledge that because of that factor, the communities of migrants, African descendants and indigenous descendants have contributed greatly towards the formation of the Uruguayan society.

Uruguay wants to stress the role of education in the promotion of the values of tolerance. Equality and peaceful coexistence with people of different orientations start in school. Education is the most adequate instrument in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. That task must be met not only by the educational system, but also by the permanent promotion of positive values in the core of the family and society in general.

To accept those who are different, to value diversity and assist dialogue and to compromise, even under adverse circumstances, is the challenge we face. It is evident that the approach and flexibility towards distant or antagonistic positions requires a significant dose of determination. We propose to make the utmost effort to globalize those principles. We are sure that this is the spirit that moves the groups in drafting the Declaration and Programme of Action and are optimistic about the results.

M. LOUIS MARIE BASTIDE (Mali): Human dignity is essential for all people, regardless of any distinction. Differences between peoples should be celebrated. The challenge is to foster tolerance. Discriminatory practices sometimes lead to gratuitous ill-treatment to the most vulnerable people. We must outlaw all racism in order to build a new mankind. How can we build for the future without looking at the present and reviewing the past? The slave trade and colonization should be condemned. The slave trade, accompanied by the enslavement of the African people, will haunt the collective consciousness of the world. How can this Conference turn a blind eye to the plight of the Palestinian people?

A culture of tolerance, considered a human value, needs to emerge in order to build a future where everyone is rightfully free. As a part of the partnership between governments, particular attention has to be paid to education of human rights in all school curricula. Mali is committed to the establishment of a mechanism that will ensure the effective implementation of the results of this Conference. We need to build a new world, one without racism and discrimination.

ISLAMIC WOMEN'S INSTITUTE OF IRAN: We are living in a country of more than 2.5 million refugees. There are nearly 6 million Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan. There are two conflicting views with respect to Afghani refugees in Iran. One view is that the vast number of immigrants places a heavy burden on our economic, social and cultural resources and weigh heavily on our taxpaying citizens; the other, as a boon that has provided a profitable and cheap workforce. Those conflicting views might be the real culprit behind the Government's 20 years of foot-dragging to come up with a comprehensive plan to determine the fate of Afghani refugees. The plight of Iranian Muslim immigrants in foreign countries, particularly Europe and America, can be divided into two categories: problems in relation to governmental agencies and offices in the recipient countries and problems directly related to the recipient counties. In some countries, like France, women cannot wear Islamic dress in the workplace. Jobs are denied women who wear Islamic dress, although there seem to be no laws determining dress codes for women. Also, European countries have displayed a long-standing bias towards Asian immigrants. Indians in the United Kingdom, Arabs in France and Turks in Germany have been exposed to various types of discrimination. Muslims are discriminated against in Canada, despite the cultural and religious diversity in that country. We respectfully and earnestly request the Conference to focus its attention on the in alienability of all basic human rights in its final Declaration and Action Plan.

ASIA PACIFIC FORUM ON WOMEN, LAW AND DEVELOPMENT: I am here to talk to you about the multiple discrimination I face as a woman, and as a refugee. Where I live in Burma, the military dominates every aspect of life, from the political and social spheres to the cultural. Non-military citizens are discriminated against and do not benefit from the privileges military careers offer. We ethnic women, who are never in the military, face multiple discrimination. War is also raging against the ethic nationalities in the country. Soldiers commit sexual violence against the women everyday. That ethnic persecution is a form of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and has forced many of us to flee Burma. Some have become refugees or migrant workers in neighboring countries. It is vital to bring about genuine and meaningful political change in Burma. Over 50,000 internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants on the Thai-Burma and Burma-Indian borders have signed a petition calling upon the World Conference against Racism to address the consequences of racial discrimination and related human rights violations committed by the ruling authorities. We demand the Burmese ruling authority eliminate all discriminatory practices, particularly against refugees and women.

AFRECURE -- ALL FOR REPARATIONS AND EMANCIPATION: We recommend a forum for the African-American people, those who are the descendants of slaves throughout North America, Central and South America, and the diaspora. We recommend that a trust fund be established for activities under this forum, funded by all governments in which we are domiciled, or by any government or person sympathetic to our quest for human rights. We did not come to the Americas willingly, and we did not come as Christians. The Indigenous Americans who were colonized are now receiving reparations and recognition as peoples. We want to be restored and recognized, and that is a form of reparation which can be made more definitive in a forum. At present, we have no United Nations collective human rights.

AL-KHOEI FOUNDATION: We are concerned that Islamophobia and related intolerance are increasing in Western Europe and the United States. Islamophobia should be recognized as a form of racism. It is the duty of governments to help eradicate that form of racism, which incites violence against Muslims. We abhor the demonizing of Muslims in the media. We would like to see European countries strengthen legislation to protect Muslims and other religious minorities. We are concerned about the selective use of Islamic symbols by certain societies. We emphasize our concern at the detention of Shiite Muslim clerics in Iraq and appeal to the international community to consider their plight.

FRATERNITE NOTRE DAME: As a religious person, heading an international, humanitarian organization, let me tell you that at Fraternite Notre Dame we painfully have to face the problem of racism every day, especially in the missions of emergency relief where we intervene, such as Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and Kosovo. I would like to speak about the critical subject of religious discrimination, for we have to admit that in many countries, and especially in Europe, in France, religious freedom is not practised. A wind of persecution has swept down over religious minorities and newer religious orders for several years. That partial judgement qualifies everything as a "sect". Every religious organization must be able to act and move freely and without hindrances, as long as its actions are not in conflict with the interests of public welfare. We very much want that anti-religious campaign to cease.

CANADIAN HISPANIC CONGRESS: Our organization is a part of a dynamic change taking place in Canadian identity, while at the same time maintaining our cultural and ethnic diversity. While we welcome the support of the Government to ensure the protection and promotion of our rights, much remains to be done. Canada has always been a nation of minorities. In comparison with other countries, it has never had a civil war and serves as a model of democracy. Every person must adopt a new mentality regarding racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. There is not much time left -- we all know what has to be done. Please, let's change our attitudes in order to build a better world for all.

UNION OF WRITERS AND ARTISTS OF CUBA: I am from the Caribbean, a part of the continent of the Americas to which millions of people from the African continent were forced during the slave trade. While it is true that our ancestors faced unspeakable horrors at the hands of their captors, it is also true that many fought back against their colonialist oppressors. It is in the name of those rebels and all those who struggled for the expression of freedom in the face of oppression that I am here today. I am also here to demand that reparations be provided so that we can truly protect and promote the famous human rights about which we have heard so much during the Conference. We cannot condone attempts to conceal the roots of colonialism and other crimes devised with the cynical purpose of legitimizing the inequitable appropriation of land and development opportunities. The process of reparations will have to identify a working agenda that elaborates phases, deadlines and methods of operation.

EUROPEAN ROMA RIGHTS CENTRE: The Romani participants hope that this Conference will be the starting point for the promotion of the fundamental human rights and freedoms of Roma on an international level. Specifically in Europe, Roma are the victims of an unchecked wave of violence at the hands of racist skinheads as well as law enforcement authorities. It is in the power of national governments when designing, implementing and evaluating policies to combat racism and prevent discrimination to involve representatives of Roma at all levels. Governments must also ensure consistent and adequate enforcement of existing legal standards in the field of discrimination. European governments should sign and ratify, without delay, Protocol 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides a comprehensive prohibition on discrimination in the enjoyment of all rights set by law.

ORGANIZATION FOR THE SOLIDARITY OF THE PEOPLES OF ASIA, AFRICA AND LATIN AMERICA: More that 4.5 billion human beings living in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the so-called third world, look to this Conference with great expectations and the hope of seeing their aspirations and legitimate demands taken seriously. Crushing levels of poverty, unemployment and other social ills are underpinned by the racist attitudes of countries who, by colonialism and now imperialism, participated in the plundering of our countries. We came here in peace in the hope to be understood so that the gates of the rich and powerful would be opened to the poor. Unless those doors are opened, the people will have to open them themselves. We urge you to remedy the genocide of peoples of the third world, including the people of Palestine.

INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR PEACE: My organization, based in Vienna, has long been active in the field of human rights. Human rights activists in Europe have always followed with interest developments in the former colonial dominions. My organization has studied issues of human rights in the context of the evolution of societies of south Asia. Of late, the increasing focus on descent and occupation related issues prompted us to send a team to study the Indian caste system. Despite the existence of a constitutional and legal structure that outlaws any kind of discrimination, caste-based discrimination does exist. The solution lies not in labelling those aspects of humanity as racism, but rather in ensuring the greatest spread of economic development and education in order to increase awareness and mould attitudes in a constructive way. It is our assessment that as far as the caste system is concerned, many of the emotions that it arouses do have a basis in reality. But the instruments to fight those evils are best fashioned at home within the milieu in which the problem exists.

INSTITUTE ON RACE, HEALTH CARE AND THE LAW -- UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON: Socio-economic status directly impacts on health status. Poverty contributes to poor nutrition, the inability to pay for care, and access to available providers. The conditions under which we live also directly impact on our health. Stress related to racism creates particular psychosocial effects that can produce deleterious health outcomes. It is important for us to increase the training and retention of medical and mental health staff of colour.

Racism also affects the availability of appropriate medications. We strongly urge the international community to support the affordability of medicines for impoverished groups and countries that are denied access as a result of cost, especially HIV/AIDS drugs. Physical and mental health treatment is dependent upon appropriate diagnosis. We strongly urge that any assessment devices or instruments used for diagnosis and classification be culturally appropriate and used in a culturally competent manner.

INTERNATIONAL SAVE THE CHILDREN ALLIANCE: There should be reference in the Conference documents on the importance of mother-tongue teaching at the primary school and pre-school levels. People should have the opportunities to have access to education in their mother tongue. The mother tongue is what enables children to take off in their learning. Minority groups are more likely to live in harmony with the majority if they feel that their culture and language is accepted as well. Pluralism of language can also favour a country's commercial and trade relationship with other countries. Investment in mother-tongue education benefits society at large. We should not lose that opportunity.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: We urge you not to permit the perpetrators of racism to water down the results of this Conference. This Conference must be about the experience of victims, justice, government accountability and follow-up. State-sponsored and State-tolerated racism and related intolerance are universal, and they have maimed, excluded and killed millions of people throughout the world. Every Government represented here is a perpetrator. Some of you face your accountability with more frankness and transparency than others.

We urge Governments to drop their denial and turn wholeheartedly to remedying racism. You should recognize caste discrimination and condemn it. The layering of racism upon sexism produces discrimination of women that is unique. Also, we support the creation of truth commissions to examine and redress how governments' past racist practices, particularly slavery, contribute to contemporary deprivation. The Conference should recognize the racism intolerance and xenophobia faced by refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and internally displaced persons and reaffirm commitment to relevant international conventions in that regard. The key to progress is follow-up to the commitments made here. Hope, rhetoric and apology are not enough. There is no substitute for action.

WORLD ALLIANCE OF REFORMED CHURCHES: We call upon States and religious institutions, who have too long been silent, to raise the principles and values of restorative justice. While the criminal justice system in the United States asks about guilt and punishment, restorative justice asks what has happened and who can be healed. When victims and survivors of violence are silenced because they object to the State's use of capital punishment, there is no justice. When community leaders and politicians falsely state that the death penalty is a sufficient deterrent to crime, there is no justice. Justice requires education, religious and community intervention and broad cooperation in order to ensure that the underlying causes of prejudice and racial discrimination are addressed. I have walked with three people on death row during their final hours, and I can tell you that the death penalty is a crime against humanity. We must work for restorative justice, a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty and worldwide abolition.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Racism is a blatant attack of the very notion of human rights, and those who suffer abuse have a legitimate expectation of redress through the law. Unfortunately, legal and judicial systems frequently mirror the prejudices of their society. Patterns of arrest, conviction and sentencing, as well as the treatment of refugees, show that governments around the world turn a blind eye to racial discrimination. Where there is racism, there can be no justice. Amnesty International is calling on governments to adopt national strategies and plans of action to combat racism in the administration of justice. We are concerned that several key issues are still unresolved or ignored. First, there is evidence that the death penalty continues to be applied in a racially biased manner in a number of countries. We urge governments of countries where such punishment is still used to investigate any disproportionate impact of the death penalty on racial groups. We also call on governments to declare a moratorium on executions, pending such an investigation. The Conference should recognize the plight of the Dalits as a group suffering from racially discrimination based on descent. The Conference should also acknowledge that refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are being increasingly subjected to xenophobia and racism. Lastly, Amnesty urges governments to address the issue of reparations for past abuses, including those related to slavery and colonialism, and to address the human rights crisis in the Middle East by applying consistently and fully a framework based on human rights rather than politics.

Amnesty disassociates itself with parts of the documents adopted by the NGO Forum, which reflects extreme views. The principle message that should emerge from the NGO Forum is that governments should not abandon their human rights obligations in their face of crises, which themselves stem from anger and frustrations. The NGO Forum was essentially an appeal for help.

GRAND COUNCIL OF THE CREES/EENOU ASTCHEE: We call ourselves the Humans. We are one of the peoples of the world. Twenty-five years ago, the Canadian Government permitted a large hydroelectric project to be built on our lands, which flooded our traditional territories where we have lived for thousands of years. Our people were not consulted as the project began. We were told that we were squatters on our own land. The courts said our rights had expired. Cree lands are being clear-cut and mines are opened by multinationals without consideration for our people. We have been deprived of our means of subsistence and are completely dependant on the Government. We pray for recognition of our rights. We had great hopes for the Conference, but the Declaration takes us backwards, because it says the word "peoples" does not have a human rights meaning. Paragraphs 26 and 27 are discriminatory. As a woman, that concerns me, because women always suffer discrimination of any kind more than anybody else.

RIGHTS OF CHILDREN: The future belongs to young people who aspire to live in a world where rights are respected and harmony and peace are respected. Arriving at that goal requires a personal commitment from all human beings, starting at this Conference. While everyone would reject the idea of being racist, the real test comes when we interact with each other on a daily basis. Making assumptions about person based on physical appearance is mindless. Young people are affected by racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Therefore, the concerns of young people should be considered during this Conference. All appropriate paragraphs on young people must be adopted, especially paragraph 78.

GUYANA HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION: Building a shared future means respecting the differences in all humans. Success requires eradicating everyday forms of racism that are deeply rooted. Verbal abuse, preference and exclusion lay the groundwork for more serious forms of racism. Why do some still feel superior to others? Hasn't discrimination caused enough destruction? Discrimination at the personal level leads to discrimination at the political level. There needs to be laws that ensure that all ethnic communities can enjoy their political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. At the level of families, value must be nurtured. Multiracial friendships have to be encouraged, not resisted. Eliminating racism requires all sectors of society to be mobilized, especially the young people. Those young people should be encouraged to develop activities that celebrate diversity.

TE KAWAU MARO: This Conference is a psychological assault on racist attitudes. It is about a Programme of Action to deliver justice, compensation and reparations to victims. To refuse to apologize shows a lack of moral fibre and courage of conviction, leaving a festering, untreated sore. Those who reject reparations and compensation are out of touch with developing trends. Precedents have already been established. The negotiated process Maoris have been through resulted in the return of certain lands, assets, resources and finance. The wider community of New Zealand can no longer plead ignorance of Maori issues. Racist barriers will come down, a change in attitude precedes an effective change in the law. And what of commentators stating that the country would be bankrupted if apologies of past colonial injustices and treaty breaches were made: it has not occurred. The world has not fallen apart. In fact, it is much healthier. Paragraph 27 of the Declaration, concerning self-determination, is unnecessary. Indigenous peoples should not be prejudiced by future negotiations on self-determination.

INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC MIGRATION COMMISSION: The Commission recognizes the inherent dignity of each individual and upholds the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all human beings. In the fiftieth year of the adoption of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, we observe with concern the serious difficulties among participating States in reaching consensus on the clear link between the themes of the Conference and the fate of one in every 120 persons in the world who are forcibly displaced. We affirm that this Conference should uphold the centrality of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol and existing international norms and standards for the protection of refugees. We should settle for nothing less. But words alone cannot change the lives of real people. This Conference must include an integrated follow-up mechanism. In order for that mechanism to be effective and clear, it must be included in this Conference's final documents.

HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION OF TURKEY: Turkey is a multi-ethnic, multicultural, multilingual and multi-religious country. Nonetheless, Turkey's legal and administrative system has been built on the basis of the Turkish ethnic group only. Only Turkish language, music, history and culture are recognized in schools and Government. The Government system did not, at best, recognize the other cultures, and, at worst, has aided in destroying those cultures. Minority status has only been granted to Orthodox Greeks; other minorities are struggling to be recognized. The Kurds have their identity and culture denied by the Government, although they are the second-largest group in Turkey. Millions of Kurds have been displaced. Their right to education in their mother tongue has been denied. The Conference was asked to ensure that the right to education in one's mother tongue is recognized. Such a right should be included in the documents of this Conference.

INDIAN MOVEMENT "TUPAJ AMARU": Indigenous people of the Americas, victims of colonialism and racism have come here to ask for justice and reparation. The European colonial holocaust was perhaps the greatest indignity seen by mankind. No one has the right to avoid responsibility for writing in blood this, the darkest page of the history of the world. Who bears the responsibility for those crimes against humanity? The answer lies in the political will of the present and former colonial Powers and no doubt, they are the ones who bear the moral responsibility to right the wrongs of the past. The international community must work to ensure programmes aimed at reparations, restitution, compensation and rehabilitation of indigenous populations and Africans and their descendents. The Conference must recognize the right to self-determination for indigenous peoples and African and African-Americans and, at the same time, work to transform and humanize the world and existing economic orders, which are unjust and untenable.

SUSILA DHARMA INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION: The Conference is called on to espouse the highest ethnical values, and to work in cooperation, not competition, to ensure the highest human development for all people. Restore the well-being of your communities by addressing the issues of injustice. Implement social programmes addressing the needs of the disenfranchised. Implement creative formal and non-formal education programmes. Create opportunities for contact and interaction between people through the arts. Foster and nurture a culture of peace, where people value the richness of human diversity.

ASOCIACION PROYECTO CARIBE: Our organization is one of the few black organizations working in my country. Racial discrimination of this community continues today. We face exclusion from the decision-making process and unemployment, among other things. African descendants are not recognized as a minority in the Constitution. However, the injustice has been recognized by the President of Costa Rica, who asked for pardon and expressed a feeling of guilt and repentance to our forefathers. He fails to acknowledge, however, that the damage done then continues today and action should be taken to protect the rights in the economic, cultural and social areas of this community. Adequate resources should be provided to change the situation.

MUJERES PERUANAS UNIDAS EN ARGENTINA: The feminization of discrimination has hit hard the community of Peruvian women in Argentina. Seventy per cent of those women are employed in domestic service. Many of them do not have the right to residence, have no social security and no protection against employer abuse. Argentinean law does not favour migrant labour. Peruvians are stereotyped in the mass media as thieves, with highly xenophobic tendencies. Despite that, Peruvians work in an organized fashion, because we cannot remain impassive. We need to sensitize the community. The feminization of emigration should not be understood only in terms of victims, it is also a consequence of the role women play in the family in times of crisis. It is the women who first adopt to new social patterns.

ESPACIO AFRO-AMERICANO: Speaking openly and truthfully of the past is the only way to heal the wounds, and pave the way for long-lasting solutions. The transatlantic slave trade was, is and always will be a crime against humanity. The topic of reparation does not need to be discussed any longer. The colonizing Powers became rich on the backs of those countries and people. Their rise in military activity has increased the number of internally displaced persons and refugees in the world. There has to be universal cooperation to ensure the respect of everybody's rights. Increasingly, the territories of Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples are coming under pressure because of development and the exploitation of natural resources. That is a serious threat to the right to exist and to cultural diversity. Durban should be a starting point in taking a stand against all forms of discrimination, and hopefully, it will not be necessary to hold a fourth conference.

WORLD ORGANIZATION AGAINST TORTURE: Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are some of the major factors leading to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, summary executions and forced disappearances. Besides the content of the texts adopted by this Conference, my organization gives great importance to the follow-up mechanisms that will be set up. We wish to see national institutions determined to play a greater role, particularly in the framework of a rapid alert process. We also fully support the innovative proposals presented here that aim at creating new or reinforced synergies between the United Nations agencies and the institutional and conventional mechanisms. However, those efforts alone are not sufficient to ensure an efficient implementation of the Programme of Action. That is the reason why we call on the participant States to this Conference to create a permanent observatory composed of eminent and independent experts, and to give this observatory every necessary means. We expect this observatory to reinforce all the activities of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and of the different institutional and conventional mechanisms.

METIS NATIONAL COUNCIL: The Meti people in Canada are an indigenous people which had resorted to armed struggle in the nineteenth century. The Meti do not want to exercise their right to self-determination externally, but internally. We do not aspire to separatism, we want to exercise our right to self-determination inside Canada. Canada sits on our homeland and denies us our land. It still refuses to recognize our rights in federal law, contrary to the Canadian Constitution. We call for the removal of paragraph 27 in the draft Declaration. That clause must be condemned as racism against indigenous peoples and contrary to international law.

Rights of Reply

The representative of Iraq, exercising the right of reply, said the representative of Al-Khoei made nothing but false allegations about the arrests of elderly clerics. This woman, who had been living in America for a long time, should come to Iraq and see the situation for herself. The clerics do not face any discrimination. All religions are respected and are free from discrimination in Iraq.

The representative of Malaysia, exercising the right of reply, said there were some misrepresentations and distortions from the non-governmental organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia yesterday. The incident referred to yesterday was not induced by racism. It was a situation where there were spontaneous outbursts of violence, and the perpetrators were brought to court. With respect to the bail-out of some companies, the Government had to undertake some help to aid companies that are important to the country as a whole. Malaysia has proven to have the most effective political system -- it has had economic prosperity, respect for rights and political stability in its 44 years of independence.

There are many legal immigrants in Malaysia who go through certain processes. But the ones that enter illegally are deported to their country of origin. The country does not condone the ill-treatment of those people.

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