Ethnic minorities suffer from anti-terror battle

Tenth anniversary of September 11 terrorist attacks

More than 200 million members of ethnic minorities in eleven countries in Africa and Asia are suffering the consequences of the fight against terrorism. The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) draws attention to this fact as the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C approaches. According to the human rights organization the worst affected are two Muslim nationalities, the Uighurs in northwestern China and the Pattani in southern Thailand. The governments in both countries are using the worldwide anti-terror coalition to portray their internal conflicts as problems of international terrorism. Through such "false labeling" they hope to gain more international support in the suppression of protests against their governments' policies. In Africa, primarily the Tuareg suffer under the growing militarization of the Sahara. More and more nations are participating in military intervention there, to curtail the influence of the "Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb" (AQIM).

In numerous other states, with governments held to be moderately Muslim, members of ethnic minorities suffer indirectly from the consequences of the battle against terrorism. Human rights abuses against Balochi, Christians and Ahmadiyya in Pakistan have increase dramatically. This is widely ignored by the international community. The European Union (EU) and the US remain passive, to avoid endangering the cooperation of the persecuting state in the anti-terror coalition. Christians and Ahmadiyya in Pakistan are victims of arbitrary accusations based on controversial criminal law provisions regarding alleged blasphemy. Christian human rights activists and politicians fear for their lives and are not adequately protected by security agencies. In the regions populated by the Balochi minority, Pakistani security agencies systematically "disappear" and torture dissidents, and imprison them without charges.

In Indonesia the anti-terror coalition is silent about the growing number of attacks on Christian churches and Ahmadiyya religious denominations, as well as about the continuing persecution in Indonesian West Papua. Arbitrary arrest and torture of Papua activists and dissidents on the Maluku Islands are not criticized by the international community. Apparently they do not wish to offend the government of the most populous Muslim nation in the world.

Also in Algeria and Morocco, as well as the West Sahara, which is occupied in violation of international law, human rights abuses against Berbers, Tuareg, Sahrawis and others go unpunished, because the anti-terror coalition does not insist on an end to impunity. Ethiopia and Somalia's transitional government are not held accountable for war crimes and the arbitrary persecution of various ethnic groups and dissidents, because they are supposedly a "bastion" against the encroachment of Al Qaeda in the Horn of Africa. But this "bastion" is brittle, as these countries do not obey their own laws; rather, they systematically violate basic human rights. In the view of the STP, the anti-terror coalition have lost their credibility, because it applies a double standard in questions of human rights.