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Justice demands the ICC probe Israel and Hamas, but the US says ‘No’

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating possible war crimes by Israel and Hamas. However, the US opposes the decision. If the US and Israel genuinely wish to advocate for peace and justice, they should welcome the scrutiny.

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OSeveno, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating possible war crimes by Israel and Hamas. However, the US opposes the decision. If the US and Israel genuinely wish to advocate for peace and justice, they should welcome the scrutiny.

Speculation was rife that relations between the US and Israel would be frosty during the Biden presidency. Netanyahu shared a close relationship with Donald Trump and the delay in the traditional courtesy call to Israel’s Prime Minister by Biden was unusual. But the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken banished such thoughts by announcing that their commitment to Israel remains strong and that the ICC are targeting Israel “unfairly”.  This was further reiterated by US Vice President Kamala Harris in a call to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu dubbed the investigation “absurd” and motivated by “undiluted anti-Semitism”. The EU however seem to reject this characterisation. In a statement to Electronic Intifada, EU spokesperson Peter Stano, stated that all EU states have ratified the Rome Statute and “respects the court’s independence and impartiality”.

Why did the ICC launch the probe?

The ICC was established in 1998 under the Rome Statute, with jurisdiction over the most serious crimes that concern the international community, namely (a) the crime of genocide; (b) crimes against humanity; (c) war crimes; and (d) the crime of aggression. 

In January 2015, the State of Palestine, lodged a declaration to accept the ICC’s jurisdiction and made a referral, alleging that crimes by Israel had been committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since 13th June 2014. ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, released a statement clarifying that if a State Party refers a situation and “it is determined that a reasonable basis exists to commence an investigation, the Office is obliged to act”

2014 – a bloody year

The investigation centres on events during and after 2014. After the failure of the American brokered peace plan, the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas parties agreed to form a unity government. But things took a turn for the worse on 12 June 2014 , when three Israeli teenagers were abducted and killed. Netanyahu blamed the Hamas leadership for orchestrating the incident, though evidence suggests that is unlikely. A recording of the emergency call with the teenagers was leaked, revealing the Israeli police were aware that the teenagers were killed almost immediately. That didn’t stop Israel from misleading the families of the teens and the public. While launching Operation Brother’s Keeper on 13th June 2014 with the stated aim of finding the boys; they made approximately 400 arrests and acted against Hamas infrastructure. The situation was escalated further when days after the bodies of the teens were found, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was brutally choked and burned alive; his Israeli killers were later imprisoned. The situation was not helped by Palestinian armed groups, who regularly and increasingly fired rockets into Israel. In response, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge. Between 8th July to 27th August 2014, the UN reported 2,104 Palestinians were killed including 1,462 civilians of which 495 were children and 253 women. Furthermore, 66 Israeli soldiers and 7 Israeli civilians died.

Hamas is also being investigated for war crimes

The ICC investigation is however not solely focused on Israel and the IDF. The ICC’s Summary of Preliminary Findings states that there is a reasonable basis to believe Hamas and Palestinian armed groups committed the following war crimes :  

  • intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects
  • using protected persons as shields
  • wilfully depriving protected persons of the rights of fair and regular trial
  • wilful killing
  • torture or inhuman treatment and
  • outrages upon personal dignity 

It is likely that should members of Hamas and Palestinian armed groups be found guilty, the ICC will take action against them. 

Israel uses disproportionate force

The ICC also found sufficient evidence of crimes by Israel and the IDF. For anyone with the means to use modern technology, it is not difficult to find evidence of Israel’s regular use of disproportionate force, which largely impacts Palestinian civilians. 

For example, in July 2014, the IDF attacked a hospital. CNN reported “One patient and four people visiting the hospital, three of them children, were killed in the strike, according to health workers. At least 30 were injured”. The IDF claimed that Hamas was storing weapons in the vicinity of the hospital.  

Amnesty International has documented four incidents in August 2014, in which whole multi-storey blocks were completely demolished, injuring dozens, making civilians homeless who suffered a total loss of possessions, including vital documents, jewellery and other expensive assets. Hamas was said to be operating in the buildings, but why the IDF destroyed the whole blocks is yet to be explained.

The disproportionate use of firepower by Israel can also be gleaned from the number of casualties in the major conflicts between Israel and Palestine over the last 35 years. Figure 1 shows that the Palestinians suffered 88% of the deaths and 71% of the wounded. 

Figure 1 – data taken from Jewish Virtual Library

The US has on occasion expressed concerns over Israel’s conduct, but any condemnation can be argued to be symbolic rather than meaningful. Early on during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, President Obama said he was “deeply concerned” about civilian deaths, but didn’t take any concrete steps to rein in Israel. In December 2016, the US showed its displeasure by abstaining from a UN Security Council resolution that condemned the continued building of illegal settlements; but given this was merely days from the end of the Obama administration, it was not going to influence Israel’s behaviour. In fact, one Israeli official brazenly stated there was “zero chance” the Israeli Government would abide by the resolution. 

US concerns with the ICC

It seems the Biden administration will continue its close relationship with Israel. However, the US’s opposition to the ICC may also be due to the its own concerns about a war crimes investigation that is targeting them. In March 2020, the ICC was given the green light to investigate crimes committed in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Afghan security forces, as well the CIA and US military personnel. The US is not a signatory of the Rome Statute., Therefore in response, Trump imposed sanctions against ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, which the Biden administration has yet to revoke. 

The US has, in the past, given tacit support for the ICC to extend its jurisdiction over countries not party to the Rome Statute. The Security Council passed a resolution in 2005 (the US abstained), for the ICC to investigate crimes in Darfur, despite Sudan not being a signatory. It is also a well-established principle of international law that if citizens of a country such as the US or Israel commit crimes abroad, then they may be prosecuted by the courts of those jurisdictions. So, what other reason can there be for opposing an investigation of possible war crimes, other than to avoid accountability?  

Both the US and Israel claim to be supporters of justice and the rule of law. If true, then they should humbly embrace the scrutiny an ICC investigation brings.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Usman Khan is a risk and compliance professional with a Master’s degree in Middle East in Global Politics.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sultana Bhatti

    20 March 2021 at 12:58 pm

    The Israeli- American connection is hard to fathom – why is the US so enthralled to the Israeli machine financially and ideologically (and no this is not a reference to a global conspiracy) and it is SO obvious

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Crime

Fighting against hate crimes

is distressing to see that hate crimes continue to happen whereas these gruesome acts should not have any place in our civilized society

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Four members of a Canadian Muslim family were killed by Nathaniel Veltman, who ran them over in his pickup truck targeting them in an attack motivated by hate, police said on 6th June 2021. Among those killed in the incident were a 74-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman, and a 15-year-old girl. A 9-year-old boy was hospitalized in a serious condition with non-fatal injuries. Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London police department told reporters, “There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate and we believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.” 

Nathaniel Veltman was wearing a body-armour-type vest and was laughing as police arrested him for killing the family who was walking on the sidewalk. London Mayor Ed Holder said, “We grieve for the family, three generations of whom are now deceased and this was an act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, and rooted in unspeakable hatred.”

A hate crime is when prejudice leads to a violent act and these tragedies can tear communities apart. As an American, I am deeply saddened by the atrocity that happened in Ontario, and I stand in solidarity with the victims, their friends, and their families. There is no justification for such a horrible act in our well-developed society. Unfortunately, with the loss of so many innocent lives, a religious group faces yet another threat in the name of religion. 

In Canada, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) reported a surge in the number of hate-motivated incidents. According to newly released statistics, OPS said that hate crime reports were up 57% in 2020, with 182 incidents reported last year compared to 116 cases reported in 2019. The number of such incidents was also on the rise for at least the preceding two years. A total of 24 people were charged in connection with hate crimes last year, accounting for 58 counts of various offenses. . Police said the groups most often targeted by hate crimes are Ottawa’s Black, Jewish, Muslim, and east and south-east Asian communities. Among the most serious violations were mischief to property, assault, threats, theft, and harassment.

It is distressing to see that hate crimes continue to happen whereas these gruesome acts should not have any place in our civilized society. There is no satisfactory answer for the prejudice against humans by their fellow citizens. In the countless racial assaults that have occurred in the past half-century, the tale is one of unending abuse. 

Anti-Asian racism and violent attacks have also increased since the pandemic started in the United States. According to Pew Research, “40 percent of the US adults believe that it has become more common for people to express racist views towards Asians since the Pandemic began.” According to Stop AAPI Hate, there have been approximately 2,800 acts of hate and bias targeting Asian Americans since March 2020. On 16th March 2021, a shooting occurred at three spas in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Eight people were killed, six of whom were Asian women, and one other person was wounded. Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old male, was taken into custody for killing six Asian women and two Asian men in Cherokee County, Atlanta. The acts of animosity are not limited to Asian Americans of one particular ethnicity. An 84-year-old Thai grandfather, Vicha Ratanapakdee, was fatally attacked while on his morning walk in San Francisco, CA. A 91-year-old Chinese man was attacked in Oakland, CA. A 64-year-old Vietnamese man was assaulted in San Jose, CA. And a 61-year-old Filipino man was slashed on a subway in New York. Another community has once again been targeted just because of their race. These ruthless and barbaric acts left humanity devastated and heartbroken.

Dr. Abraham Kim, Executive Director of the Council of Korean Americans, condemned the recent rise in anti-Asian hate incidents and said that “…These acts of violence create fear within our communities and should be addressed by our elected officials, community leaders, and law enforcement. We encourage the nation to reject the politics of fear and recognise that together we must be part of a movement that rejects xenophobia, racism, and dehumanization.”

African Americans have also long been victims of racist attacks. In February 2021, a Michigan man was charged for causing severe bodily injury to two African teenagers through the use of a dangerous weapon. According to the charges, he confronted a group of African teenagers at a state park, repeatedly using racial slurs and saying that Black people had no right to use the public beach. He then struck one of the teens in the face with a bike lock, fracturing the victim’s jaw and knocking out several of his teeth, before trying to strike another teen with the lock.

Last year, the community also mourned the tragic death of George Floyd in Minnesota. We witnessed another historic injustice against African Americans and as a nation, we need to address the broader and systemic racism that persists in our country today. Hate crimes based on religion, colour, or race should not have any place in this modern world.

The animosity against ethnic groups has not stopped. Across the globe, people have continued to speak out about the ways they are  treated with suspicion, called names, or singled out by airport security. Yet most tragically of all, the persistence of the persecution, perhaps, leading to the downturn of nations – terrorists now brazenly assail new victims, cascading their trails of violence against all that which is simply inhumane. 

As human beings, this is our responsibility to fight hate, discrimination, and injustice. Our politicians, government officials, and media should promote building relationships with every ethnic group and advocate tolerance and inclusion. Media, which is not limited to print, or online but pronounced on television as well, should not fuel the narrative of one group as an inherently violent, terrorist, or extremist. Rather, discussion programmes should be broadcasted to raise awareness of the political, social, and cultural rights of individuals and groups.

It is time to be more receptive to the sensitivities of other groups. Racial violence is a societal problem and we should all work together to address the root causes of this since one’s religion, race or colour should not decide one’s fate. By following the true teachings of any religion, we can become humans who share the universal bond of peace, love, and harmony.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

Cyber radicals: Children and online radicalisation

The pandemic restrictions have been tough on children in particular, who have lost their socialisation opportunities and are now increasingly trying to find a cure to the boredom brought by the erosion of routine and social activities.

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Just when Britons thought face masks and other restrictions are going to become a thing of the past, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a delay of four weeks to the next phase of England’s lockdown reopening. Due to a surge in the Delta variant, first discovered in India. Johnson said at news conference held on Monday evening that he thought it was “sensible to wait just a little longer” – a disappointment for the majority of Britons who are now longing to return to a normal social life.

In addition to the many direct casualties coronavirus has been responsible for, namely the countless number of deaths, this virus has also absolutely shaken the societal balance. The restrictions and numerous lockdowns mandating ‘stay at home’ orders has exposed each vulnerable part of the society to a number of risks.

The pandemic restrictions have been tough on children in particular, who have lost their socialisation opportunities and are now increasingly trying to find a cure to the boredom brought by the erosion of routine and social activities. 

This very boredom has, according to a new report published by the Newstatesman, led to an increase in time spent online. There has also been an increase in children being radicalised by far-right, extremist ideologies. 

Despite a decades-long media and political focus on Islamist extremism, almost as many young people are now being referred to The Prevent Strategy, a controversial anti-terrorism programme by the government, aimed at stopping terrorism.

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10 out of the 12 under-18s arrested for terror offences in the UK in 2019 had links to extreme right-wing ideology, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu revealed last year. Meanwhile the proportion of referrals of under-twenties referred to Prevent for far-right radicalization in England and Wales doubled between 2016 and 2020, as the share of referrals for Islamist radicalization concurrently fell.

The report further suggests that while each individual case of radicalization is unique, there are a number of common themes: trauma, ostracization, family disorder and other psychological problems which might make younger people susceptible to the “typical grooming techniques” used by the far right to lure them in.

Another study has highlighted that social distance and the security measures have affected the relationship among people and their perception of empathy toward others. The research involved a sample of 1,143 parents of Italian and Spanish children (range 3–18). In general, parents observed emotional and behavioural changes in their children during the quarantine: symptoms related to difficulty concentrating (76.6%), boredom (52%), irritability (39%), restlessness (38.8%), nervousness (38%), sense of loneliness (31.3%), uneasiness (30.4%), and worries (30.1%) were on the rise.

Last year, Wales’ stop counter-terrorism police officer even warned that despite a slight decline in anti-terror referrals since lockdown, Detective Superintendent Jim Hall said, “children may have been radicalized at home” calling at people and teachers specifically to be vigilant to sudden changes in behaviour. 

Mr. Hall added that extremist recruiters had adapted “their narratives and methods” to create “discord and distrust within communities” during the coronavirus pandemic. In a BBC report, posts about far-right online chat groups linking the anti-racism group Black Lives Matter to terrorist organizations were found. Other posts claimed that Muslims are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 because they had not observed lockdown guidelines, and many perpetuate conspiracy theories about Chinese involvement in the intentional spread of the virus.

These figures are enough for parents to feel chills down their spine. According to the counter-terror groups, education and prevention is key in tackling this sensitive phenomenon. However, all the current restrictions mean that only those who get to interact with children the most, mainly parents and caretakers, be on their guard. Parents must develop, and change if required, their interaction with children in order to cope with the lack of purpose lockdown has brought upon. In other words, the current situation requires for parents to adapt their routines and develop an enhanced sense of empathy and understanding for their children. Instead of allowing your children to use the Internet unattended, communicating and forging a bond of friendship is now imperative in order to avoid symptoms like depression from rising. It is often said that home is the first school and parents are the first teachers. Leaving children prey to the dangers of the virtual world would mean conceding it the role of a third parent.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

How Gun Violence in America is different from the rest of the world.

In recent years, most gun violence news appears to have the United States in the subject; the numbers and manner of mass shootings are unique there

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In recent years, most gun violence news appears to have the United States in the subject; the numbers and manner of mass shootings are unique there. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit group that catalogues gun violence in the US, 104 mass shootings (four or more causalities) have occurred in 2021 so far. The number is drastically higher compared to the same date last year – 66 mass shootings had taken place by March 23, 2020. Despite the coronavirus lockdowns, 611 mass shootings happened in 2020. 

While mass shootings garner more attention, they contribute to only 2% of gun-related deaths. Every day, more than 100 Americans are killed with guns, estimating to over 38,000 deaths per year. To put that into context, the US death rate from gun violence is 100 times higher than in the United Kingdom.

Gun violence has shaped the socio-economic structure of low income areas in majority of US urban cities, leaving a multi-generational impact that lasts decades. The rise of mass shootings represents a new consideration to American life, where gun violence has now become a suburban issue. Shootings are a complex issue today and there are multiple factors that contribute to them. 

Guns & Second Amendment

Under the Second Amendment, US citizens have the right to bear arms for self-defense, resistance to oppression, and to act in defense of the state. The amendment dates back to 1689, under the pretext of “well-regulated Militia” participating in law enforcement and safeguarding against tyrannic governments. Although US has evolved from days of lawlessness to the largest democratic force in the world, the use of the second amendment legitimizes and politicizes gun ownership in America.

Gun Ownership 

The US, with less than 5% of the world’s population, has 46% of the world’s civilian-owned guns. Three-in-ten Americans own a gun, and another one to two who live with someone who owns a gun. One third of gun owners live in the suburbs and likely to be white men. This highlights an interesting aspect: while gun violence rates in urban cities are higher, gun ownership is concentrated in suburban or rural areas.

Access to Guns

Americans at large do not agree on gun laws. Federal and State legislation do not align and are often stalled at congressional level. Acquiring guns is as easy as buying a car. Most Americans can buy a gun in less than an hour, passing a minimal check of criminal convictions, domestic violence and citizenship. Some states have additional checks and balances, but do not prohibit the purchase of firearms. Americans can buy from over 50,000 gun retailers or other individuals. No federal laws are in place to mandate mental health checks, safety training or permits.

Clout of Conspiracy Theories

Gun ownership is a polarizing issue in America. Gun regulation is equated with endangering American pride and liberty. Various groups, for example QAnon, claim mass shootings are fake events staged by liberals. The narrative around mass shootings and gun violence is localised and driven by what side of the political aisle you are on. 

Access to Mental Health Services

Access to mental health services is a recent conversation in America. The Opioid crisis, unemployment, economic and social differentials in rural areas, in combination with conspiracy theories, are creating mentally and socially imbalanced individuals who are ready to shoot to find validation. In the absence of mental health support at a granular level, mass tragedies are hard to stop.

A sharp increase in gun violence is strengthening public opinion in favour of sensible gun ownership and usage; for many, the time has come to abandon antiquated and political ideals that come with gun ownership. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

Exponential increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans

Hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise in the United States as the end of Covid is in sight. In the past few weeks, the number and intensity of these crimes have exponentially increased

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More than 500 attacks since the start of the year.

Hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise in the United States as the end of Covid is in sight. In the past few weeks, the number and intensity of these crimes have exponentially increased, as the country is still grappling with 1,500 Covid related deaths a day. The notion of hate crimes is not new to American society, post 9/11, the vast majority of Muslim Americans were targeted and discriminated in some form. As if history was repeating itself, hate crimes against Asian Americans are rising at an alarming pace. Stop Asian American and Pacific Islanders (APPI) Hate Reporting Center reported 3,795 incidents in the last 11 months, with more than 500 cases just in 2021. These attacks range from verbal attacks, harassment, workplace discrimination to physical assault. The actual numbers are likely to be much higher, as Asian Americans are largely excluded. Those who are traditionally confined to their own communities, have limited access to reporting channels and hesitant to come forward due to fear of retaliation. A wide majority of the victims are Asian women, often perceived as frail, passive and subservient.

Asian American have confronted a long legacy of exclusion and inequity. The attack on Asian women businesses in Atlanta Georgia, on 16th March, killing eight people brought these to surface. Robert Aaron Long, killed six Asian women and two others in a shooting spree on Asian owned spas across the metropolitan Atlanta area. Law enforcement agencies and political leaders are slow to address these attacks as domestic terrorism targeting Asian Americans. There is strong probability that the attack will instead be investigated as a grave misdemeanour by a sex addict. Unfortunately, painting the attack in this way only further crudely strengthens stereotypes of Asian businesses as ‘sex trafficking hubs’. 

More than 20 million Asians in America trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The hate and prejudice towards Asian Americans, is deep rooted in American history. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act — the only United States law to prevent immigration and naturalisation on the basis of race, restricting Chinese immigration for the next 60 years. The “Chinese Must Go” movement reduced the number of Chinese immigrants from thousands to a handful by 1887. From 1882-1935, changing geopolitical landscape including Japanese colonization of Korea, brought Asian immigrants to the US. While the immigrants from Europe during the same time are remembered as emblems of American liberty, there is very little said about Asians arriving on the west coast, filling the increasing need of cheap labour. These early Asians were railroad builders, farmers, miners, and labourers, who did not get naturalization rights until 1952. Over the decades, Asian pursuit of education and hard work has produced doctors, scientists and technologists. Today, elite academic, technology, and medical institutions rely on Asian American contributions. Despite all these accomplishments, Asian American representation and acceptance is minimal. Strong stereotypes present Asians in a comic manner on all media platforms. 

The recent hate campaigns originate from widely believed conspiracy theories indicating that the coronavirus originated in China and developed in Chinese laboratories for a chemical attack on the West. These theories gained momentum from support at the highest echelon of American leadership. In March 2020, the then Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo used the term “Wuhan Coronavirus” first; a label, to which the Chinese Government strongly objected. The name evolved into a racial slur when former President, Donald Trump, used the term “kung flu virus” at a Presidential rally in July. With millions of followers, the false narrative spread like wildfire on social media, followed by a slew of Asian American attacks, from coast to coast.

With the change of the political leadership, the hope is that legislative and civic actions will halt these attacks. Two days after the Atlanta shooting, members of the US House Judiciary Committee met to discuss the recent attacks on Asian communities. The members of the committee largely clashed with little to no consensus on the gravity of the situation. President Joe Biden and the Democrats are urging to swiftly pass the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, the possibility of it to be yet another partisan issue, gives little comfort to millions of Asians in America.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

To Serve & Protect

The recent images from London’s Clapham Common showed a grieving, masked woman slammed against the ground by male officers.

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A unifying experience for women the world over, is the threat of gender-based violence and unsafe public spaces. At any time of day, across cultures, ages, and backgrounds there is an all too common, shared vigilance. During winter months with the sun setting before work hours end, how many women walking home are listening closely for footsteps, hurrying past alleys, crossing streets strategically, noting groups of men or even keeping keys out as a means of protection? All of these behaviours are personally familiar as are additionally disturbing realities: friends kidnapped by men, assaulted by strangers in public spaces, groped riding public transportation and even witness to gender-based violence and murder. According to the World Health Organization, globally, 1 in 3 women will experience violence at least once in her lifetime. 

To Serve & Protect

The recent images from London’s Clapham Common showed a grieving, masked woman slammed against the ground by male officers. Other large, formidable policemen shoved, and encircled women gathered in memory of Sarah Everard; killed by an officer on her walk home. Flowers laid in remembrance were trampled underfoot as officers escalated to violence and arrested citizens. All this occurred against the backdrop of a deadly pandemic and a year filled with grief, isolation and loss. 

These scenes were shocking only for those who have not been paying attention. This summer, images of police escalating violence at peaceful gatherings, vigils and protests after the brutal shooting of George Floyd sparked an international outcry. Throughout this deadly summer of Covid-19, BLM demonstrations were met with abuse, tear gas, pepper spray and riot gear from militarized police. Amnesty International USA compiled a telling report, The World is Watching: Mass Violations by US Police of Black Lives Matter Protesters’ Rights. The report documents, “widespread and egregious human rights violations by police officers against protesters, medics, journalists and legal observers who gathered to protest the unlawful killings of Black people by the police and to call for systemic reform in May and June of 2020.”

But what of police officers’ involvement in abuse towards women? What about predators hiding behind their badges? Unfortunately, this is an under-researched area of police misconduct and abuse. What is clear is that extremely vulnerable populations of women are victim to increased abuse across the board and law enforcement is no exception. Cases of harassment, rape, domestic violence and even murder have been perpetrated by officers against civilian women. The officer who entered her apartment without a warrant and shot dead Breonna Taylor dead while asleep in her bed is just another example of cruel abuse of power that has continued since the beginning of policing in America.  My earliest childhood memory of this specific form of horror took place in 1984 as a very small child hearing news of Eleanor Bumpurs, an elderly, disabled Black woman. 

A New York City police officer killed Ms. Bumpurs as officers attempted to enforce her eviction from public housing. She was shot multiple times with a 12-gauge shotgun and no officer was ever convicted. She was killed while owing less than $100 and being one month behind in her rent. Her family then sought justice through a civil lawsuit which New York City settled for $200,000 dollars. 

Reimagining the Response 

Surely there could be different choices made by Metropolitan police to disperse a crowd of peaceful women, united by injustice, grief and calls for change after an innocent woman was kidnapped and shot dead as she attempted to walk home. 

Imagine instead of escalating violence, these officers arrived and laid flowers alongside community members? What if female officers offered to escort anyone home who requested it. What if male officers sat, socially distanced without weapons or aggression and calmly spoke with community members, expressing their concern, solidarity and reaffirming their commitment to root out gender based violence in their ranks. Imagine these words were accompanied by actual plans and communicable steps their police departments were taking to address harm and hold abusive officers accountable.

What if the police were not called at all? And instead, social workers, grief counsellors and trauma-informed aides came to offer services and support circles. These community care advocates were there to hand out medical grade face-masks, share community resources and offer grief interventions. 

Can we imagine a future for policing that holds officers accountable to the community they serve and redistributes wealth from their robust budgets used for excessive force settlements and wrongful death suits, to community partners, mutual aid organizations and first responders skilled in de-escalation and support? Can we imagine a world where we reframe violence against women statistics to look more closely at the percentage of men who abuse and harm women? 

Sadly, the response to Sarah Everard’s brutal killing has been far from restorative. What’s been proposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson are plain clothed officers assigned to London bars and nightclubs to protect women out at night. How can this be a comforting solution when it was a police officer who kidnapped and killed Ms. Everard? And no arrests have been of those police officers who took selfies with the murdered bodies of sisters Bibba Henry and Nicole Smallman, both brutally stabbed to death this past summer, while walking home in London.  

Creating Safe Spaces

Safe spaces for women have existed as part of various cultures and faiths over the years. Today there are reimagined safe spaces being created using innovations in tech. For example, tracking apps that allow users to share location with trusted friends/family and receive periodic check-ins until home safely. 

But these options are only available in nations where data and cellular phones are easily accessible. And even with these safety measures and supports, there must be training for young boys and men. This training must run concurrent to efforts to root out and prosecute abusive police officers and the officers and organisations that knowingly shield them from accountability. Together, these are steps in the right direction to interrupt toxic masculinity, patriarchy and the deadly cycle of violence against women. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

Atlanta Shooting: The Rise in Anti-Asian Fueled Hate Crimes

A shooting on the evening of Tuesday 16th March 2021 in three Atlanta-area spas has left eight dead.

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A shooting on the evening of Tuesday 16th March 2021 in three Atlanta-area spas has left eight dead.

The first attack began at around 5pm, at a spa in the northern suburb of Atlanta, Acworth, which left four people dead. The shootings continued in Atlanta, where the gunman shot another four more victims.

Of the eight total victims, six have been identified as Asian women. 

The victims in Acworth have been identified as 33 year old Delaina Yaun, 54 year old Paul Andre Michels, 49 year old Xiaojie Yan, and 44 year old Daoyou Feng. 

A fifth man, Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz had also been shot, and is the sole survivor. He is currently in hospital.

The four victims from the second shooting in Atlanta have not yet been identified. 

The police arrested a suspect – 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long. In a press conference on Wednesday 17th March investigators confirmed that Long had admitted to all three shootings. He has been charged with 4 counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.

However, despite most victims being Asian, he denies that the attack was race motivated.

Instead, investigators said that Long claimed to have gone off on a shooting spree because of a sexual addiction he had been struggling with. Long told investigators that he often visited the spas he attacked.  

“These locations, he sees them as an outlet for him, something that he shouldn’t be doing,” Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department said at a press conference, “It’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”

Police also added that Long was “kind of at the end of his rope” and that 16th March, the day of the shooting, was a “really bad day for him.”

Police also shared that Long admitted that had the police not arrested him when they did, it was “very likely there would have been more victims.”

Although the possibility that the attack was racially-motivated is not totally off the table, investigators seem more than glad to place the blame on Long’s sexual addiction and mental state at the time.

Still, however, many have been asserting that this incident was an anti-Asian fueled hate crime as this incident comes at a time where anti-Asian sentiments are at an all-time high. 

Asian Americans find that along with battling the pandemic, they are battling the racism and discrimination that has been targeted at them disproportionately, due to the widespread reach of Covid-19 throughout the United States.

They are finding that just because the virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, their neighbours are blaming them for its spread.

The numbers support this claim: since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, anti-Asian crimes have risen almost 150% from 2019. 

In a report released by Stop AAPI Hate – a non-profit organisation that tracks discrimination/hate related crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – shows that since the start of the pandemic, almost 4,000 incidents were recorded by the reporting centre.

The report shows that almost 68% of the incidents were related to verbal harassment. 11% were related to physical assault. 

Majority of those who reported these hate crimes are women.

Victims of anti-Asian harassment report that often, harassers would cough in their face and yell at them to “go back to Wuhan.” Some victims have also had their homes and properties vandalized with racial slurs and insults.

Many civil rights groups blame former President Donald Trump, in part, for the rise in hate crimes. Trump is known to have often referred to Covid-19 as the “China virus”, “Wuhan virus” and the “Kung flu”.

The White House confirmed that President Joe Biden had been briefed of the attacks, and that they would remain in close contact with the investigation units.

“The question of motivation is still to be determined,” Biden told reporters on 17th March. “But whatever the motivation here I know that Asian Americans are very concerned.”

Many Asian Americans have reported being scared of leaving their homes -out of fear of harassment and discrimination. After the shootings this week, members of the AAPI community have grown even more fearful for the safety of their lives.

People worldwide are standing in solidarity with the Asian community as these anti-Asian hate crimes seem to get out of hand.

The Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, released a statement in which she stated “a crime against any community is a crime against us all.”

Since the shooting, the hashtags #StopAsianHate, and #AsiansAreHumans have been trending as people make clear that there is no justification for any sort of discrimination.

Spreading the blame for the origin of the virus will not stop its spread nor will it ease the effects of the virus. 

There are still many stories of anti-Asian hate that are not getting the spotlight, and are not being heard, leaving the Asian community to feel as though they are invisible or being ignored.

In order to address these concerns of violence and hate, we must come together and take whatever measures necessary to dismantle racism from our society.


Sources

[1]https://secureservercdn.net/104.238.69.231/a1w.90d.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/210312-Stop-AAPI-Hate-National-Report-.pdf

[2]https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/3-dead-shooting-georgia-massage-parlor-suspect-loose-n1261262

[3] https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202103/1218819.shtml

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

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