Teenagers huddled in a cage outside the UN in Geneva Monday, as protestors demanded that the world body address the “unconscionable” US policy of separating migrant families crossing its southern border.
Three teens wearing t-shirts with “#ClassroomsNotCages” scrawled across the front stood inside a small cage erected outside the gates of the United Nations’s European headquarters, as dozens of demonstrators urged the UN Human Rights Council take on President Donald Trump’s administration.
“The action today is about creating more pressure and more exposure of just how terrible and dehumanising this policy of the American government is towards children,” said Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, which helped organise the protest.
“What the Trump administration is doing is both lawless and immoral, and because it is so focused on children, it is unconscionable,” she told AFP.
The union was among 15 labour organisations and rights groups that filed a complaint a year ago with the UN’s top rights body over the Trump administration’s so-called “zero tolerance” policy of separating migrant parents and children who illegally cross the border.
According to the complainants, the issue has reached the final stages of the Human Rights Council’s review process, and its Situations Working Group is scheduled to consider it this week.
The rights council secretariat refused to comment, telling AFP only that its complaint procedure is “by definition confidential”.
The complainants are meanwhile hoping the council will issue an opinion “and make it clear that what has happened in America is a violation of the international protocols and international rights declarations,” Weingarten said.
– ‘Purposefully cruel’ –
Amid domestic and international outcry, Trump announced last June that his administration would halt the family separation policy.
But by then, thousands of children had been removed from family members and placed in temporary accommodation, leading to harrowing images and reports of administrative chaos in which many parents have been unable to find their children.
Observers say many of those children remain in US custody, and maintain that the separations are continuing.
“We know kids are still being separated. We know kids are still being held,” Weingarten said.
Sandra Cordero, who heads the organisation “Families Belong Together” that has been working to reunite many of the separated families, agreed.
“There are still hundreds of cases of separation,” she told AFP.
And out of the 2,500 children who were separated in the months prior to Trump’s announcement last June, “there are still hundreds that have not been reunited or even contacted,” she said.
Activists also decry the “deplorable” conditions in many of the places where separated children are being held, and point to the fact that at least six children, between the ages of two and a half and 16, have died in US custody.
And Cordero especially slammed the government’s “purposefully cruel” failure to establish a system to keep track of the children and ensure family reunification would be possible.
Weingarten meanwhile said that Monday’s demonstration was important to keep the spotlight on the plight of the children — some just months old — taken from their families.
“We need to keep that level of outrage alive,” she said.
“That is the only way this is going to be change.”
‘They have a responsibility to not be stupid’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe slaps Trump’s ‘ignorant’ rally-goers for swallowing Trump lies
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough blamed President Donald Trump's supporters for failing their most basic civic responsibility by remaining willfully ignorant and swallowing his lies.
The president claimed his betrayal of the Kurds was actually keeping them safe, despite credible reports of war crimes against them by Turkey, and the "Morning Joe" host challenged rally-goers to open their eyes -- and believe what they see.
"It's the responsibility to people that show up at those rallies to not be stupid, to not be so stupid that they should be kept away from blenders," Scarborough said. "All they have to do is spend three seconds actually watching the news, all they have to do is spend three seconds on Google, spend three seconds talking to somebody that is not completely brainwashed to see that this is a horrible deal for the Kurds."
‘This was the smoking gun!’ MSNBC’s Morning Joe explains why Mulvaney ‘confession’ could end Trump presidency
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had offered "smoking gun" evidence in a stunning confession to the crime at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
The "Morning Joe" host said Mulvaney had made a stunning "confession," but he said the president had on the same day endorsed the ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish allies he had betrayed to Turkey.
"There's so much to talk about, we joke for a few minutes at the top of the show, Mika likes do that, me, I like to get straight into the news," said Scarborough, who frequently annoys his wife and co-host by bantering about sports at the start of the show. "But there's so much going on that if somebody just woke up this morning they might not think that yesterday was not one of the most significant news days in, during the Trump presidency, and I may even argue one of the most significant news days over perhaps the last decade, just in terms of volume."
Vote-splitting fears raised in final days of Canada election
In the dying days of what Justin Trudeau described as one of the "nastiest" election campaigns in Canadian history -- with plenty of mudslinging, attack ads and misinformation -- he played up fears on Thursday of vote-splitting handing victory to his rival Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives.
Policy announcements gave way to calls to vote strategically to keep Trudeau's Liberals in power and prevent a rollback of his progressive policies by the Tories.
Pollsters predict a minority government -- either Liberal or Conservative -- resulting from the October 21 ballot.
Attack ads accused Liberals of seeking to legalize hard drugs and the Tories of allowing assault rifles on Canadian streets -- claims that are flat out wrong or exaggerated, respectively.