Heidi Hautala is available today online on Security Jam in the Security & human rights -forum at 17.30-18.00 CET.[:]
There are especially two items I would like to talk about:
1. The role of silent diplomacy
We have appointed today the new Commission for the European Union. The new Lisbon treaty also brings along the office of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. I have several times inquired after Baroness Catherine Ashton’s position on quiet diplomacy. I fear that quiet diplomacy is a way not to lift up difficult questions, such as human rights issues. Emphasizing quiet diplomacy can be one sign of the current trend to prioritize economical interests over human rights.
I have for example as guests tomorrow in the European Parliament Maia Bichikashvili, deputy Director of the Georgian Public Broadcaster, Ekaterina Kotrikadze, head of the news departement of Pervyi Kavkazskyi, and Maître Henri d’Armagnac, the lawyer representing Perviy Kavkazskiy in Paris Trbinual case against Eutelsat.
We will hold a press conference, because under pressure from Russia Eutelsat, the leading European satellite operator, has refused to transmit Perviy Kavkazskiy, the newly established Georgian satellite television channel in Russian language. This sudden refusal leaves Intersputnik and Gazprom Media Group – both of which adhere to the Kremlin’s editorial line – with a de facto satellite tranmission monopoly over Russian-language audience in Russia and beyond. This is a very alarming sign to pluralist media.
This case of censorship is only the most recent accommodation of authoritarian regimes by Eutelsat. BBC’s Persian TV service (PTV), a popular channel amongst Iranian opposition supporters, was obliged to switch satellite by Eutalsat last year and it has similarly refused to continue to broadcast an independent Chinese TV channel.
Check also here.
My question is: what kind of tools do we have to eliminate the risk to ignore human rights in this kind of cases? How should EU react under the new treaty and how should this question be dealt in the new European External Action Service?
2. The state of Guantanamo
Guantanamo remains a strong symbol of injustice still today. European Parliament has pronounced repeatedly that the prisoners left in the camp must either be prosecuted or released. The promise of Obama has to be fulfilled.
I remain especially gravely concerned of the situation of Uighurs in Guantanamo Bay. The administration acknowledges that arresting them was a mistake but the Uighurs cannot be returned to their home countries because there are in severe risk of torture. The Obama administration should push for quick resettlement of Uighurs in the United States despite the pressure of the Chinese government.
We have urged our governments to resettle detainees into Europe, but we should also critically discuss about the detention policy in the US, for example the secret prisons in different countries.
This item will be more discussed today in the plenary of the European parliament
I will be present here to talk about these and other related questions at 17.30-18.00 CET.
Check also my human rights diary