OSCE meeting remains under far-right's shadow

Published 18.09.2017 00:00

The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is being held in Warsaw where human rights-related issues including abuse, discrimination, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and hate crimes are being discussed in an array of panels and side events from Sept. 11-22.

As dozens of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) make presentations regarding various issues in the scope of human rights and demand that member states respond to their demands, the appearance of far-right groups which openly attack Islam and Muslims during the sessions have cast a shadow over the OSCE's positive stance for the defenders of human rights.

The most widely discussed issue at the OSCE's meeting has been the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where human right abuses are underreported due to the fact that reporters do not have ease of access to the area. Human rights' groups and NGOs have claimed that Russia and its proxies have been blocking journalists' access to the conflict zones and there have been allegations of some being murdered, kidnapped or harassed. Another issue being brought to the fore at the OSCE meeting is the progress being made with regard to the exchange of detainees between the warring parts with the involvement of the OSCE. Despite considerable progress having been made, there are still detainees on both sides and civilians who remain trapped between the factions.

Another hotly debated topic has been hate crimes, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Several Jewish and Islamic NGOs have addressed the issue of hate crimes in Europe. While the Jewish claimed that anti-Semitic sentiments are still strong in Europe among the far-right and other nationalist circles, Islamic NGOs allege that Muslims are suffering from increasing attacks on a daily basis, especially following the attacks in European cities carried out by Daesh. Claiming that the member states did not have an agenda or were reluctant to combat the anti-Muslim sentiments and xenophobic attacks, the Islamic NGOs are demanding that member states increase the preventative measures being taken to tackle the issue. In addition, several European countries including Austria, France, Belgium and Germany have been accused of fueling the anti-Muslim stance by pushing several policies such as the hijab ban. Islamic NGOs have said it has become more difficult for Muslims, especially women, to find employment or be accepted to universities in Europe.

Some sessions of the OSCE meeting were assigned to Interpol, which is criticized for not working effectively, and a consensus has been reached that the Interpol must be reformed to ensure it operates in a more efficient way.

On the other hand, the OSCE has faced its share of criticism, as well. It was observed that some figures with ties to terror groups appeared at the meeting. Namely, in an incident of irony, some members of the People's Revolutionary Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), which has been issued an arrest order by Interpol, were present at some sessions, near the Interpol officials. Also, several anti-Muslim, far-right NGOs were allowed to make presentations which directly attacked the core values of Islam. It was contradictory that the OSCE allows Islamic NGOs to express their thoughts and concerns about xenophobic attacks and policies while accommodating far-right representatives in the same sessions. Therefore, the sincerity of the OSCE's attempts to tackle hate groups has been brought into question. Several Europe-based NGOs that are run by Turks have also criticized the OSCE for allowing far-right groups to openly attack Islam and Muslims in the sessions.

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