Monday July 23, 2018
Home Lead Story Russia Using ...

Russia Using World Cup To Gloss Over Its Human Rights Record: Activists

FIFA President Gianni Infantino insists world football's governing body is engaging Russia on the issue

0
//
15
People play soccer at the Red Square during the 2018 soccer World Cup in Moscow, Russia, June 19, 2018.
People play soccer at the Red Square during the 2018 soccer World Cup in Moscow, Russia, June 19, 2018. VOA
Republish
Reprint

Human rights campaigners say Russia is using the glitz of the World Cup to try to gloss over its deteriorating human rights record — and they want tournament organizer FIFA to use its leverage to force change.

The 12 Russian host cities have enjoyed a World Cup makeover, as Russia presents a friendly face and photogenic scenery to hundreds of thousands of visitors. Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch, is urging visitors to dig a little deeper.

“Our message to the fans is: Take a little time and learn more about the human rights crisis in Russia today, about what is, in fact, happening under the tournament’s glitter.” She described the situation as the biggest crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union.

“Russian citizens are denied their rights to speak freely, to protest freely, and people actually go to jail for posting online things like ‘Crimea is not Russia.'”

 Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov looks out from a defendants' cage as he listens to the verdict at a military court in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, Aug. 25, 2015.
Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov looks out from a defendants’ cage as he listens to the verdict at a military court in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, Aug. 25, 2015. VOA

Among those locked up is Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who criticized Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and is serving a 20-year jail term on terrorism charges.

In the Russian republic of Chechnya, Oyub Titiev, director of the human rights group Memorial, has been detained on drug charges, which his supporters said are false and politically motivated.

Before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the release of several political prisoners. Campaigners are hoping he may repeat the gesture.

“We got a confirmation from FIFA that the organization’s leadership is engaging on the issue and hoping for a positive resolution,” Lokshina said.

Oyub Titiyev, the head of regional branch of Russian human rights group Memorial, attends a court hearing in Grozny, Russia, March 6, 2018.
Oyub Titiyev, the head of regional branch of Russian human rights group Memorial, attends a court hearing in Grozny, Russia, March 6, 2018. VOA

FIFA President Gianni Infantino insists world football’s governing body is engaging Russia on the issue.

“Concrete progress has been made in terms of human rights and the way we are dealing with human rights questions. Also through football and through an event like the World Cup,” he said in a recent interview.

On the opening day of the World Cup, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was arrested after staging a protest outside the Kremlin, calling for an investigation into the torture and disappearance of several gay men in Chechnya. In 2007, Tatchell was attacked in Moscow by neo-Nazis and suffered partial brain damage.

A short walk from the Kremlin lies Diversity House, set up to provide a safe space for LGBTQ and other minorities to watch the games. Pavel Klymenko, of the equality campaign group FARE Network that organized the facility, said it is intended to make a political point.

Russian police detane gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, center, as he holds a banner that reads "Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people" near Red Square in Moscow, Russia, June 14, 2018.
Russian police detane gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, center, as he holds a banner that reads “Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people” near Red Square in Moscow, Russia, June 14, 2018. VOA

“This house is a way of saying to everyone — to the footballing world, to the Russian society — that minorities are part of the game, part of society.”

Also read: Canadian Accused Of Helping Russian Intelligence Agents Sentenced To Prison For 5 Years

The fear is that once the fans and footballers return home, Russia’s human rights crackdown may intensify. (VOA)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2018 NewsGram

Next Story

Facebook Accused of Protecting Far-Right Activists Who Broke the Sites Rules

Moderators at Facebook are protecting far-right activists, preventing their Pages from being deleted even after they violate the rules set up by the social media giant, the media reported.

0
Facebook
Moderators at Facebook are protecting far-right activists, preventing their Pages from being deleted even after they violate the community rules. Pixabay

Moderators at Facebook are protecting far-right activists, preventing their Pages from being deleted even after they violate the rules set up by the social media giant, the media reported.

The process called “shielded review” was uncovered by Channel 4 Dispatches – a documentary series that sent an undercover reporter to work as a content moderator in a Dublin-based Facebook contractor.

“In the documentary, a moderator tells the ‘Dispatches’ reporter that Britain First’s pages were left up, even though they repeatedly broke Facebook’s rules, because ‘they have a lot of followers so they’re generating a lot of revenue for Facebook’,” the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Similarly, popular pages, including those of activists like Tommy Robinson, are protected from Facebook rules.

Robinson is currently in jail, serving a 13-month sentence for contempt of court.

Richard Allan, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, was quoted as saying in the documentary that the company’s rules are based on revenue.

“If the content is indeed violating it will go,” Allan said.

Facebook, however, said it will remove Robinson’s page if he repeatedly violated the site’s community standards.ABritain First’s Facebook page was eventually banned in March 2018.

“It’s clear that some of what is shown in the programme does not reflect Facebook’s policies or values, and falls short of the high standards we expect.

Facebook
Facebook, social media.Pixabay

“We take these mistakes in some of our training processes and enforcement incredibly seriously and are grateful to the journalists who brought them to our attention,” Allan said.

The documentary also showed that Facebook moderators have turned blind eye to under-age accounts.

“Moderators are told they can only take action to close down the account of a child who clearly looks 10-years-old if the child actually admits in posts they are under-aged,” The Telegraph reported, citing the documentary.

“We have to have an admission that the person is under-age. If not, we just pretend that we are blind and we don’t know what underage looks like,” a trainer told the undercover reporter.

Facebook is also facing the flak for launching Messenger Kids that encourages children under age 13 to join social media.

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in December warned the social media giant to stay away from his children.

Also read-Facebook Joins Skill India Mission to Train Empower Youth

Early this year, more than 100 child health experts have urged Facebook to withdraw the app.

Despite call for withdrawal by experts, Facebook has decided to expand the reach of Messenger Kids by introducing the video calling and messaging app designed for children under 13 to families in Canada and Peru.

Facebook said it will also introduce Spanish and French versions of the app. (IANS)