Suu Kyi to lead Myanmar team contesting genocide court case

Excerpt of Associated Press articlethat features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the New York-based Global Justice Center, said Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s civilian government “failed to act against genocide in Rakhine State with any level of urgency and have taken no steps to hold the military to account.”

“The international community should no longer have illusions where Suu Kyi and the civilian government stand and must act to support The Gambia and take other measures to hold Myanmar accountable,” Radhakrishnan said in a statement.

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Suu Kyi to defend Myanmar against genocide accusation at UN court

Excerpt of Al Jazeera article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

The Gambia and Myanmar are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, which not only prohibits states from committing genocide but also compels all signatory states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, noted that Myanmar's civilian government had failed to act in 2017 and taken no steps to hold the military to account.

"Now, they are going to defend the military and the government's genocidal actions on one of the world's largest and most influential stages," Radhakrishnan said in a statement. 

"The international community should no longer have illusions where Suu Kyi and the civilian government stand and must act to support The Gambia and take other measures to hold Myanmar accountable."

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Episode 12 – Genocide and gender with Akila Radhakrishnan

Excerpt of Asymmetrical Haircuts podcast episode that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

We grabbed Akila Radhakrishnan – the president of the Global Justice Center based in New York, an international human rights organisation focused on gender equality and the rule of law, that’s been at the centre of all the lobbying for this move. 

Their special interest is in the gendered nature of genocide – check out their reports The Rohingya from Discrimination to Destruction– and Beyond Killing by the amazing Sareta Ashraph.

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Women, peace, security agenda approaches 20th year with shaky progress

Excerpt of Devex article that quotes GJC Deputy Legal Director Grant Shubin.

The Security Council passed a new resolution on Wednesday calling for the full implementation of 1325, showing the “urgency and need” for making good on the agenda, according to Grant Shubin, the deputy legal director of the Global Justice Center. But the new resolution has its own gaps, including the fact that it does not have any sexual and reproductive health and rights language, Shubin said.

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Myanmar might finally be held accountable for genocide, but the court case must recognise sexual violence

Excerpt ofThe Conversation US article that cites GJC's "That's Illegal" podcast and a speechby President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Myanmar might finally be held accountable, but defending the Rohingya from genocide shouldn’t just be left to the global Islamic community. They need to be joined by countries with an interest in reducing the sexual and gender based violence at the core of the Tatmadaw’s genocidal campaign.

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In Which Trump Reminded the Global Community How Hateful He Really Is

Excerpt ofMs. Magazine op-ed by GJC Program Coordinator Merrite Johnson.

Here’s a quick recap of Tuesday’s address: Trump wants to empower American citizens, but only if those citizens are Trump voters. He believes in free speech, but only for himself and the white supremacist ilk he’s emboldened. He thinks women ought to have rights, but not their right to bodily autonomy. He believes in religious liberty, as long as it’s not for Muslims. He thinks every child “is a sacred gift from God,” unless that child was born outside the United States, in which case he’ll condemn them to die in federal custody.

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Bringing a Gender Perspective to Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide and War Crimes

Excerpt ofLSE Women, Peace and Security blog post that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

International bodies must recognise the importance of publicly acknowledging the gendered experiences that people face rather than treating gender analysis as an ‘add on’. Dr Sheri Labenski details the discussion from the recent Centre event “What Does a Gender Perspective Bring to Crimes Against Humanity Genocide, and War Crimes?” where speakers Patricia Viseur Sellers and Akila Radhakrishnan, discussed crimes against humanity and genocide respectively, detailing reasons why a gendered approach should be applied to international offences and their prosecution.

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Ending Impunity for Gender-Based Violence in Genocide

Excerpt ofMs. Magazine op-ed by GJC Legal Intern Katherine Comly.

Ask any feminist how they think their government is doing at holding perpetrators of sexual violence accountable and most would respond with an emphatic “poorly”—at best. Internationally, there are moves being made to tackle sexual violence, like awarding the Nobel Prize to Nadia Murad and passing the first Security Council Resolution on the issue. Still, they go nowhere near solving systemic problems.

There currently exists, however, a major opportunity to reform how the international justice system addresses sexual violence: the investigations into genocidal violence against the Rohingya in Burma. A gendered understanding of these crimes is essential and will fulfill the international community’s responsibility to recognize and punish all forms of genocidal violence.

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Experts warn ongoing abuse precludes Rohingya return

Excerpt ofAnadolu Agency article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Quoting a Thursday report released by the UN Fact-Finding Mission documenting and analyzing sexual and gender-based violence committed by Myanmar’s military, international humanitarian law organization Global Justice Center (GJC) President Akila Radhakrishnan said in a statement: "To date, no military perpetrator of sexual violence has been held accountable in Burma [Myanmar] for their crimes."

“Sexual and gender-based violence is, at its core, an expression of discrimination, patriarchy, and inequality,” said Radhakrishnan. “As a result, accountability for these crimes must be holistic and seek to address and transform the root causes of violence.”

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“Never Again” Means Holding the Trump Administration Accountable

Excerpt ofMs. Magazine op-ed by GJC Development and Operations Assistant Sophia Fiore.

When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compared the detention centers along the southern border of the U.S. to concentration camps, she sparked a heated debate about whether the facilities met that definition. In the following days, the press spent more time picking apart her word choice than focusing on the dire conditions in the detention centers that have led to severe health conditions—and, in some cases, the death of detainees.

Many find it difficult to accept that these horrors occur, especially in the U.S. We say “never again,” but are blind to the assaults on human rights and the dehumanization of people taking place every day on our watch.

Let’s not mince words: The conditions at the border blatantly violate international standards and the international legal obligations of the U.S.

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Trump’s Gag Rules Hurt the Most Vulnerable Women

Excerpt ofMs. Magazine op-ed by GJC Legal Adviser Elena Sarver.

Over the last two and a half years, the Trump administration has waged war on women’s sexual and reproductive rights. The battles have played out internationally and here at home—driven by oppressive gag rules globally and domestically.

The Global and Domestic Gag Rules are just two of the repressive policies that the Trump administration has put in place to deny abortions to women. Both of these policies are intended to restrict access to necessary services and silence the conversation around abortion, ultimately causing great harm to women’s health and their lives. But while their names are similar, these policies target two different pools of federal funding. 

The Global Gag Rule is outwardly oriented, and prevents foreign non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. global health funding from providing or “promoting” abortions as a method of family planning. Trump’s iteration of the decades-old Republican policy expanded its scope from family planning assistance to global health assistance—restricting $8.8 billion in U.S. funding instead of $600 million.  

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US Move on Reproductive Rights Sets Dangerous Precedent

Excerpt ofFair Observer op-ed by GJC Legal Adviser Elena Sarver.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration cut funding to the Organization for American States for protecting reproductive rights. While America’s attention has turned to the restrictive abortion bans across numerous states, the Trump administration has continued its relentless attacks on women’s bodies and the very foundations of women’s rights abroad. Under the guise of foreign policy, the White House is exporting censorship — ultimately threatening US allied relations, the human rights system and women’s health.

These actions should raise red flags around the world about the United States’ damaging influence on human rights systems abroad, and its potential to cause increasing harm in the future.

In March, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new changes to enforce and implement the Trump administration’s draconian policies on sexual and reproductive rights in foreign assistance. In the first part of Pompeo’s announcement, the administration expanded the scope of the Mexico City Policy (also known as the Global Gag Rule) to prohibit foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive US global health assistance funds from financing any other foreign NGOs that carry out banned operations, including performing or promoting abortion as a method of family planning.

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There’s Nothing “Pro-Life” About Sweeping Abortion Bans

Excerpt of Ms. Magazine op-ed by GJC Communications Manager Liz Olson.  

Alabama’s sweeping abortion ban compares abortion to the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, as though the termination of a fetus is morally equivalent to the willful annihilation of a people. But it is abortion bans, not the women who seek them, that put lives at risk every day.

Legislation that criminalizes abortion access and provision does not prevent abortions—it just makes them more dangerous. The World Health Organization reports that about 25 million unsafe abortions are performed annually, primarily in regions with heavily restrictive abortion laws. Women who have unsafe abortions face serious and even fatal medical complications like heavy blood loss, infection and damage to internal organs. Unsafe abortions are even a leading cause of maternal mortality: 68,000 women die from them every year around the world.

The deadly impact of restrictive abortion policies is so well documented that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, once declared that total abortion bans “amount to a gender-based arbitrary killing, only suffered by women, as a result of discrimination enshrined in law.” 

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Much More Than Language: How the US Denied Survivors of Rape in Conflict Lifesaving Care

Excerpt of Women Under Siege op-ed by GJC Deputy Legal Director Grant Shubin.  

On Wednesday, April 23, 2019, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2467 during the Council’s annual Open Debate on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence. .

After months of German-led negotiations, passage of the Resolution ultimately came down to sexual and reproductive health (SRH)—specifically, whether the U.S. would veto its inclusion in the final text.

The U.S. justified its position by claiming that SRH is a euphemism for abortion services. Not only is this not true—SRH includes, among other things, contraception, safe abortion services, HIV prevention, and prenatal healthcare—but even if it were, abortion services for survivors of sexual violence save lives.

Unsafe abortion causes the deaths of 47,000 people each year and leaves another 5 million with some form of permanent or temporary disability. They may suffer complications, including hemorrhage, infection, perforation of the uterus, and damage to the genital tract or internal organs. In fact, the consequences of denying abortion services have been found to be so severe that it can amount to torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment.

The international community cannot become accustomed or complacent to the Trump administration’s use of domestic politics to hold international rights hostage. Because it is more than just words that are given up last minute on the floor of the Security Council—it’s women’s lives.

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When Reporting on Rape Stands in the Way of Justice

Excerpt of Ms. Magazine blog post by GJC Communications Manager Liz Olson.

As hundreds of thousands of Rohingya survivors fled to Bangladesh over the past two years, the abuse they suffered in Burma has made headlines.

Their stories are horrific—recounting brutal episodes of torture, murder and sexual violence, often committed in public and in front of family and community members. In different ways, so are their experiences with the press.

Some Rohingya survivors of sexual violence have reportedly been interviewed as many as 70 times each by media outlets, UN bodies and non-governmental organizations—posing serious challenges to the health and safety of survivors and to future justice efforts.

At first glance, the idea that sexual violence can be over-documented may seem counterintuitive. Don’t we want as much evidence as possible to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes? In practice, however, uncoordinated and overzealous documentation harms both accountability efforts and the well-being of survivors.

The adage that “sex sells” is true in advertising and seems equally true in reporting, even in the coverage of atrocity and human rights abuse. As journalists and advocates cover stories of sexual violence in conflict, we must make sure not to sensationalize or exploit survivors’ suffering in order to make an impact.

Read the Full Post at Ms. Magazine Blog

US Abortion Restrictions Violate Women’s Human Rights

Excerpt of PassBlue op-ed by GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan and CHANGE President Serra Sippel. 

Every year, 25 million women across the world are forced to obtain unsafe abortions. The United States, through its foreign policy, is deeply complicit in the violation of these women’s right to life and equality under international law.

International human-rights frameworks guard against these violations and hold the US and other countries accountable. The International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), for instance, details the basic rights and freedoms guaranteed to all people worldwide, including the right to life, the right to liberty and the right to equality. Such rights are not symbolic: they are grounded in the dignity of each human being and protected by international law.

Since 1966, 172 parties — including the US — have signed the ICCPR. It is one of the few human-rights treaties that the US has ratified. But today, the US imposes illegal abortion policies that brazenly violated its obligations under the Covenant and other binding provisions of international law.

Read the Full Op-Ed in PassBlue

Where Can Refugees Turn for Abortions?

Excerpt of Ms. Magazine blog post by GJC Development Director Danielle Stouck.

I first met Fatima and her four young children at a coffee shop in downtown Amman in the summer of 2014. With tears in her eyes and her youngest son asleep in her arms, she recounted the details of her harrowing escape from Syria’s southwestern Daraa province and her experience crossing the border into Jordan.

Not everyone in Fatima’s family escaped safely. Her husband and brother, she explained, were missing and presumed dead after a raid in her village had left her home and community decimated. She was alone, struggling to make ends meet and desperate for help. She and her children were traumatized. And she was pregnant.

Unwanted pregnancy occurs everywhere, but it is especially concerning in crisis settings, where displaced and refugee women are among the most vulnerable of at-risk populations. As a recent Guttmacher Institute report on refugee reproductive rights points out, “Women’s needs do not suddenly stop or diminish during an emergency—in fact, they become greater.”

When Fatima reached out to me in 2014, I was working with a Jordanian non-governmental organization to strengthen protections against sexual and gender-based violence and provide critical sexual and reproductive health services to refugees from Iraq and Syria. Fully funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, our work involved developing strong referral pathways for refugees in need of family planning support, including abortion services.

Thankfully, I was able to connect Fatima with the medical and psychosocial support that she so desperately needed. She was able to safely terminate her pregnancy and was provided with contraceptives and counseling as she worked to rebuild her life in Jordan. But five years later,  I would be barred from providing women like her with the same level of care. Under the Trump administration’s reinstatement and expansion of the dangerous and illegal Global Gag Rule, I would be “gagged”—and women like Fatima would be denied information critical to their health and their futures.

Read the Full Post at Ms. Magazine Blog

How Gender Shaped the Rohingya Genocide

GJC Legal Adviser Elena Sarver published a blog post in Ms. Magazine on how gender shaped the Rohingya genocide.

In August 2017, the Burmese military launched a wave of violence against the Rohingya—burning villages, massacring civilians and subjecting survivors to horrific acts of sexual violence. These attacks occurred after decades of discrimination in the forms of restricting access to healthcare, denying citizenship rights and limiting marriages and the number of children.

Now, Rohingya refugees face their second winter in the refugee camps of Bangladesh as the international community seeks accountability for these atrocities.

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