International news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 18 April, 2012 - 10:25

Islamist parties have taken to the streets to oppose the ratification of a law which would penalise domestic violence in Pakistan.

Women’s rights campaigners confronted the bigots outside parliament last week.

The Islamists’ arguments against the legislation include: preventing domestic violence is “Western”; and that the Bill is a copy of Indian legislation.

A spokesperson for Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl said, “We will not let these senseless women, who depend on American dollars, to work against the Constitution and Islamic Shariah,”

The anti-violence Bill, first introduced in 2009, advocates jail terms for those found guilty of violence against women, children and domestic workers.

Farzana Bari, a women rights activist, commented: “This is a very soft bill, it gives a minimum punishment of three months and maximum of three years, but it is important that it is passed,”

Violence against women in Pakistan is widespread. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan states that 943 women were the victims of honour killings in 2011.

Tunisian union defies ban

Riot police enforcing the ruling Islamist party’s ban on protests in central Tunis, used tear gas and batons against thousands of union-organised protesters on Monday 10 April.

The workers had assembled to protest against a police attack on an unemployed workers march.

There are 700,000 unemployed workers in Tunisia.

Amna Guellali, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the police had beaten some members of the constituent assembly who had participated in the march. Guellali said the clashes appeared to mark a new level of conflict between the government and the secular left. “People went down to the Avenue Bourguiba with the spirit of a showdown with the government,” she said. “There was a feeling of: ‘We are going to defy this ban just as we did during Ben Ali’s rule.’”

The ban on assembling in the Avenue Bourguiba — symbolic centre of the uprising against Ben Ali’s dictatorship last year — was imposed after 28 March, when a group of secular artists and ultra-conservative Islamists both staged marches there. Fighting took place after the Islamists attacked the artists.

The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) has declared that the 1 May celebrations will be held in Avenue Bourguiba and signalled its intention to break the government’s protest ban.

Justice for Daniel Ngonga Nsevelo!

Congolese asylum seeker Daniel Ngonga Nsevelo was assaulted by private security guards working for the UK Border Agency during a failed attempt to deport him.

Daniel, a friend of Angolan asylum seeker Jimmy Mubenga, who was murdered by G4S security guards, has been on hunger strike for nearly a month in protest at his treatment. He is being detained at the Colnbrook Bypass centre near Heathrow Airport.

Daniel has been assaulted three times over the course of nine separate deportation attempts.

Sign the petition to demand his release here