Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
United States Department of State
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011
[ProfRandall's note: This report was generated using a tool provided by the State Department. Interestingly, the state department did not exercise its responsibility to assess the human rights status of the United States. It also did not include North Africa as a part of Africa; rather including it in the Near East. Furthermore, it identified the Americas as the Western Hemisphere rather than North, Central and South America. ]
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
The law grants citizenship to Arab applicants who have resided in the country for 15 years and non-Arab applicants who have resided in the country for 25 years. There was a lack of transparency in the naturalization process, and there were numerous reports that the citizenship law was not applied uniformly. There were allegations that the government allowed foreign Sunni employees of the security services that had lived in the country for fewer than 15 years to apply for citizenship. There were also reports of Arab Shia who had resided in the country for more than 15 years and non-Arab foreign residents who had resided more than 25 years, who had not been granted citizenship.
Although the government asserted that the labor code for the private sector applies to all workers, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and international NGOs noted that, in practice, foreign workers faced discrimination in the workplace (see section 7).
According to the BICI, in mid-March rioters beat to death two South Asians and attacked 87 others. According to testimony provided to the BICI, the attackers targeted the individuals due to their ethnicity.
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
The constitution grants equal rights to all ethnic minorities and allows for minority languages to be used in the media and in schools. In practice minorities
did not enjoy equal rights, and the government consistently denied their right to use their language in school. The government disproportionately targeted minority groups, including Kurds, Arabs, Azeris, and Baluchis, for arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, and physical abuse (see also section 1.e., Political Prisoners and Detainees). These groups reported political and economic discrimination, particularly in their access to economic aid, business licenses, university admissions, permission to publish books, and housing and land rights. The government blamed foreign entities, including a number of governments, for instigating some of the ethnic unrest.
There are between five and 11 million ethnic Kurds in the country, who have frequently campaigned for greater regional autonomy. There were two
terrorist organizations inside the Kurdish province; however, they did not represent the majority of the Kurdish population. Nevertheless, the government persecuted the entire minority for criminal acts sponsored by the two organizations. According to a 2009 HRW report, the government used security laws, media laws, and other legislation to arrest and persecute Kurds solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and association. The government reportedly banned Kurdish-language newspapers, journals, and books and punished publishers, journalists, and writers for opposing and criticizing government policies. Although the Kurdish language is not banned, schools did not teach it. Authorities suppressed legitimate activities of Kurdish NGOs by denying them registration permits or bringing spurious charges of security offenses against individuals working with such organizations. Kurds were not allowed to register certain names for their children in official registries.
There were several instances of Kurdish activists sentenced for political crimes during the year. For example, on January 31, the Revolutionary Court in Kermanshah sentenced Kaveh Ghassemi Kermanshahi, a journalist and human rights activist, to five years in prison. Kermanshahi was an executive member of the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization and the OMSC. He was also a member of the student organization Daftar Tahkim Vahdat. The court charged Kermanshahi with "acting against national security" and "propaganda against the regime." His lawyer described his long sentence as "unprecedented."
In mid-June the Saqqez Revolutionary Court, in Kurdistan Province, found Mohammad Moniri, a Kurdish teacher, guilty on charges of cooperating with
opposition groups and propaganda against the regime. The court originally sentenced Moniri to five years in prison, but his sentence was reduced to six months. Moniri entered prison on June 19.
Foreign representatives of the Ahvazi Arabs of Khuzestan claimed their community of two to four million in the country's southwest encountered oppression and discrimination, including torture and mistreatment of Ahvazi Arab activists and the lack of freedom to study and speak Arabic.
On April 15, authorities violently oppressed a protest organized by ethnic Arabs in the Khuzestan region. Security forces reportedly fired live rounds into the crowd. It was estimated that a dozen demonstrators were killed and scores more injured. The RSF reported that authorities arrested up to 97 protesters. The demonstrators were commemorating the sixth anniversary of a 2005 demonstration that security forces violently suppressed. The
government insisted that the report was fabricated. On the same day, a representative from the Ahvazi Organization for the Defense of Human Rights, based in London, told HRW that, since April 15, security forces had "killed 48 innocent protesters, injured tens, and arrested hundreds of Ahvazis. On April 18, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi wrote a letter about the incident to the UN high commissioner for human rights. According to Ebadi, hundreds of people in the city of Ahvaz had gathered for a peaceful demonstration against the government's discrimination towards its Sunni minority. The country's semiofficial news agency Fars reported that only one person had been killed during the protests.
On May 11, according to an official report from the Khuzestan district attorney, seven young Arabs had been executed in the preceeding days in the town of Ahvaz. However, posts on Facebook reported that nine young Arab activists from Ahvaz had been executed. Official sources claimed that those executed were criminals dealing in drugs, although such claims often were leveled as justification to execute political activists from the Arab minority. The Arab minority in Ahvaz asked for the intervention of global human rights organizations.
Ethnic Azeris comprised approximately one-quarter of the country's population, were well integrated into government and society, and included the supreme leader among their numbers. Nonetheless, Azeris complained that the government discriminated against them, banning the Azeri language in schools, harassing Azeri activists or organizers, and changing Azeri geographic names. Azeri groups also claimed a number of Azeri political prisoners had been jailed for advocating cultural and language rights for Azeris. The government charged several of them with "revolting against the Islamic state.
According to the ICHRI, during the six-month period from March21 to September 21, more than 320 cultural, political, women's rights, and human rights activists were arrested in the Azeri provinces. Most of these arrests concerned the protests about the drying out of Lake Urmiya, one of the largest saltwater lakes in the world. According to international media reports, protesters, who claimed that the government did not act to save the lake partly due
to its location in the minority Azeri province, chanted, "Long live Azerbaijan, and "Urmiya is thirsty / Azerbaijan must rise up, otherwise it will lose. As a result of these arrests, Azeri activists were beaten, flogged, tortured, fined, and expelled from university.
Iran Green Voice announced that in late May that a Revolutionary Court sentenced seven Azeri activists--Yunes Soleymani, Mahmmud Fazli, Naim
Ahmmadi, Aydin Khajehei, Sharam Radmehr, Yashar Karimi, and Hamideh Frajazade--to six months in prison for membership in the Azeri Party's Central Committee. A six-month suspended sentence was given to activists Alireza Abdollahi, Behbud Gholizade, and Akbar Azad, for a five-year probation period. Another activist, Hassan Rahimi, was cleared on all counts after being held in solitary confinement for four months.
Local and international human rights groups alleged serious economic, legal, and cultural discrimination against the Baluch minority during the year. Baluch journalists and human rights activists faced arbitrary arrest, physical abuse, and unfair trials, often ending in execution.
On June 6, a revolutionary court in Baluchistan Province sentenced Sakhi Rigi to 20 years in prison on charges of "acting against national security and "propaganda against the regime, based on his blogging and other Internet activities relating to the government's discriminatory treatment of the Baluch community.
The country's population includes Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, as well as religious minorities including Chaldeans, Assyrians, Armenians, Yezidis, SabeanMandaeans, Baha'i, Shabak, Kakai, and a small number of Jews. Many consider the Assyrians and Chaldeans to be a distinct ethnic group. These
communities speak a different language, preserve Christian traditions, and do not define themselves as Arabs. The country also has citizens of African descent, "Black Iraqis, a population that community representatives estimated to number more than one million.
The constitution identifies Arabic and Kurdish as the two official languages of the state. It also provides the right of citizens to educate their children in their mother tongue, such as Turkmen, Syriac, or Armenian, in government educational institutions in accordance with educational guidelines or in any other language in private educational institutions.
During the year discrimination against ethnic minorities was a problem. There were numerous reports of Kurdish authorities discriminating against minorities, including Turkmen, Arabs, Yezidis, and Assyrians, in the disputed territories under the de facto control of the KRG. According to these reports, authorities denied services to some villages, arrested minorities without due process, took them to undisclosed locations for detention, and pressured minority schools to teach in the Kurdish language. Ethnic and religious minorities in Tameem frequently charged that Kurdish security forces targeted Arabs and Turkmen.
Within the three provinces of the IKR, there was little evidence of sanctioned government discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, although there have been complaints that KRG authorities have been slow to return land confiscated by the previous regime that had belonged to Christian churches and Christian farmers. Minority communities operated their own schools and were represented both in the parliament and executive branch of the KRG.
However, incidents of societal violence against minorities in the IKR did occur. On December 2, between 300 and 1,000 rioters attacked legally operating businesses owned by Christians and Yezidis in Dohuk Province. The rioters burned or destroyed 26 liquor stores, a massage parlor, four hotels, and a casino. The riot followed midday prayers at the Rasheed Mosque in Zakho where the imam had allegedly denounced the businesses as anti-Islamic and had incited followers to attack them. In addition to promising compensation for those who suffered damages to property and businesses, President Barzani ordered the formation of an investigation committee, which concluded that some followers of the KIU "emboldened the violence against Christian businesses, that some leaders of the KDP "failed to control their members from attacking KIU organization centers, and that Dohuk Province security and administrative officials were "negligent in their control of the situation. As of year's end, no one had been compensated for property lost or destroyed.
According to press reports, Palestinians continued to experience arrest, detention, harassment, and abuse by authorities. A 2006 citizenship law prevents Palestinians from obtaining citizenship and Jews who emigrated to other countries from reclaiming citizenship.
Black Iraqis reported widespread economic and social discrimination. Black Iraqi leaders estimate that more than 20 percent of the Black Iraqi population was unemployed, compared to an overall unemployment rate of 15 percent. Minority Rights Group International reported that many were laborers or worked as domestic workers.
Israel and the occupied territories
Arab citizens of the country faced institutional and societal discrimination. Tensions between Arabs and Jews were sometimes high in areas where the two communities overlap, such as Jerusalem, the Galilee, and Negev, and in some cities with historically separate Jewish and Arab neighborhoods.
On March 23, the Knesset codified into law the longtime practice of community admissions committees determining someone's suitability for moving into small communities of fewer than 400 families in the Negev and Galilee. The law prohibits any discrimination based on "race, religion, gender, nationality, disability, age, parentage, sexual orientation, country of origin, or political affiliation," but NGOs petitioned the High Court to overturn it, alleging that in practice the admissions committees restricted Arabs from living in small Jewish communities and could use criteria such as military service to exclude Arab citizens from admission into communities.
According to NGOs, new "kosher certificates" indicating that no Arabs were employed by a business were found in several businesses during the reporting period. Numerous "death to Arabs" slogans were spray-painted along highways during the reporting period, including across a pedestrian bridge in Herzeliya.
In June the mayor of Nazaret-Illit, Shimon Gafso, said that his city would never be a "mixed city," despite its high percentage of Arab residents, and that he would never house a mosque or permit Christian residents to light Christmas trees in public places. Referring to clashes between Arab citizens and police in October 2000, Gafso added, if I had participated in the events, then there would have been more Arabs killed."
Immediately following an October 3 arson attack on a mosque in Tuba-Zangariyye, the government strongly condemned the incident, and President Peres, the chief rabbis, and many religious leaders visited the mosque the next day.
On November 23, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein ordered an investigation into Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu's statements concerning the Arab minority. Eliyahu, who is a government employee, reportedly called on citizens not to rent apartments to Arabs in Safed and to expel the city's Arab residents.
The law exempts Arab citizens, except for Druze, from mandatory military service, but some serve voluntarily. Citizens who do not perform military service enjoy fewer societal and economic benefits and are sometimes discriminated against in hiring practices. Citizens generally were ineligible to work in companies with defense contracts or in security-related fields if they had not served in the military. The government managed a National Civil Service program for citizens not drafted for military service, giving Arabs, haredi Jews, Orthodox Jewish women, and others the opportunity to provide public service in their own communities and thus be eligible for the same financial benefits accorded military veterans.
The government began implementing a new economic development fund for Arab and other minority populations. The 800 million NIS (approximately $210
million) "Arab plan" focused on 12 Arab-majority towns and villages, investing in housing, transport, community-based law enforcement, and job training (particularly for Arab women). A majority of the funding for housing and transport projects was made available through a combination of private sector investments, public tenders, and government matching funds.
Resources devoted to Arabic education were inferior to those devoted to Hebrew education in the public education system and some Arabs in ethnically mixed cities chose to study in Hebrew instead. The separate school systems produce a large variance in education quality, with just 31 percent of Arabs qualifying for university acceptance on the matriculation exam, compared to 76 percent of Jews, according to Central Bureau of Statistics findings in 2009.
Approximately 93 percent of land was in the public domain, including approximately 12.5 percent owned by the NGO Jewish National Fund (JNF), whose statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews. According to a 2005 attorney general ruling, the government cannot discriminate against Arab citizens in marketing and allocating lands it manages, including those of the JNF. As an interim measure, the government agreed to compensate the JNF for any land it leased to an Arab by transferring an equal amount of land from the Israel Lands Administration to the JNF. Legal petitions against the JNF policy of leasing public land only to Jews continued at year's end. The NGO Israel Land Fund continued its program to purchase Arab land throughout the country and market it to Jewish buyers, including in the diaspora; the organization claimed that all the land belonged to Jewish people and described as a "danger" the purchase of Jewish-owned lands by non-Jews. Various Arab NGOs similarly bought land and built exclusively for Arabs.
New construction is illegal in towns that do not have an authorized outline plan for development, which is the legal responsibility of local authorities. At year's end according to the government, 47 of the country's 128 Arab communities had fully approved planning schemes, 29 had outline plans in the final stages of the localities' approval process, seven were still developing their outline plans, and 45 were promoting detailed plans for their updated outline plans. Localities are also responsible for initiating and submitting urban outline plans to the district committees, which are responsible for approving any expansion of the municipalities.
While Arab communities in the country generally faced economic difficulties, the Bedouin segment of the Arab population continued to be the most disadvantaged. More than half of the population of an estimated 160,000 Bedouin lived in seven state-planned communities and the Abu Basma Regional Council. Approximately 60,000 Bedouin lived in at least 46 unrecognized tent or shack villages that did not have water and electricity and lacked educational, health, and welfare services. Bedouins living in established towns enjoyed the same services provided to all citizens. The government- sponsored Committee for the Arab, Druze, and Circassian Populations' Affairs built six centers to provide water to areas that included unrecognized villages. Some direct water connections were also made to families residing in unrecognized villages. The government reported that there were numerous pirated connections to water pipelines absent authorization of the Israel National Water Corporation.
On June 6, the Supreme Court ruled on Adalah's 2006 appeal, stating that the Water Tribunal should provide basic access to water for persons living in unrecognized villages but was not obligated to provide additional water access to half of the petitioners who already possessed legal places of residence in recognized towns.
In the unrecognized "villages" constructed without official authorization on state land in the Negev claimed by various Bedouin tribes, all buildings were illegal and subject to demolition. In July the state commenced legal proceedings against 34 residents of the unrecognized "village" of Al-Arakib to recover 1.8 million NIS ($471,500), the cost of demolishing their homes approximately two dozen times since 2010. Al-Arakib had been repeatedly rebuilt illegally on state land since 1998, despite multiple eviction orders and a 2007 Supreme Court decision.
The government maintained a program to encourage Bedouins to relocate from unrecognized villages to established towns by providing low-cost land and compensation for demolition of illegal structures for those willing to move to designated permanent locations. Many Bedouin complained that moving to government-planned towns required giving up claims to land they had lived on for several generations, while the government claimed it was difficult to provide services to clusters of buildings throughout the Negev that ignored planning procedures.
The law bars family reunification in cases where one spouse is a non-Jewish citizen of Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon. Palestinian male spouses who are 35 or older and female spouses who are 25 or older may apply for temporary visit permits but may not receive residency based on their marriage and have no path to citizenship. The government originally enacted the law following 23 terrorist attacks involving suicide bombers from the occupied territories who had gained access to Israeli identification through family unification. During the year human rights NGOs and international organizations continued to criticize this ban, which primarily affected Palestinian spouses of Arab citizens. In 2009 in response to an NGO petition, the Supreme Court demanded an explanation within six months from the government for its refusal to grant social and health insurance to an estimated 5,000 Palestinian spouses of citizens who were granted "staying permits" to reside legally in Israel. In January 2010 the court recommended the government provide a temporary solution that would be in place until an official policy could be formulated. In July 2010 the government requested an additional five months to formulate a response regarding the provision of social benefits to nonresidents. The committee was deliberating recommendations at year's end.
The government prohibits Druze citizens, like all citizens, from visiting Syria. The government allowed noncitizen Druze from the Golan Heights to visit holy sites in Syria through the ICRC-managed pilgrimage program, but it has prevented family visitations since 1982.
A estimated population of 130,000 Ethiopian Jews faced persistent societal discrimination, although officials and the majority of citizens quickly and
publicly condemned discriminatory acts against them. In May 2010 approximately 200 parents and children protested racial segregation in Beer Sheva's Otzar Haim kindergarten, where they claimed Ethiopian Jewish children were educated in a room separate from the rest of the children. An official from the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry then visited the site and forced the school to cease the segregation. There were reports of discrimination in admissions targeting Ethiopian Jews in the school system of Petah Tikva during the year.
Israel_ the occupied territories [Palestinians]
Although not a numerical minority, Palestinians faced targeted violence and discrimination from Israeli actors in the occupied territories (see also sections 1.a., 1.c., 1.f., and2.d.).
The Jerusalem Legal Aid Society and Human Rights Center and other NGOs reported an increase in attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians and their property in the West Bank. The attacks included direct violence against Palestinian residents. Unnamed settlers killed at least two Palestinians during the year, including 17-year-old Fakhri Yousef Akhlaiel, a resident of Khirbat Safa, on January 18. Akhlaiel was reportedly harvesting grapes on his family's land at the time of the shooting. News reported that police investigated the incident, but there were no reports of arrests or indictments.
Some Israeli settlers reportedly used violence against Palestinians as a means of harassment and to keep them away from land that settlers sought to expropriate. In the Palestinian village of al-Baqa'a, NGOs reported that settler violence drove out significant portions of the Palestinian population, with no intervention from the IDF or the Israeli national police. On December 5, Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement kidnapped and subsequently released Salim Jamil Shehadeh, a 60-year-old shepherd, from Orif village. The settlers also stole 50 of Shehadeh's sheep. There was no information about an investigation at year's end.
Other violence was in retaliation for killings of Israelis. On March 12 and 13, for example, following the killing of five Israeli settlers in Itamar (see section 1.a), settlers conducted widespread retaliatory attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank governorates of Nablus, Salfit, Qalqilya, Hebron, and Ramallah. Settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles at 16 separate locations in the West Bank, and there were multiple reports of settlers kidnapping and beating Palestinians before releasing them. Settlers also attacked PA emergency medical responders.
Various human rights groups continued to claim that settler violence was insufficiently investigated and rarely prosecuted. Some groups in part attributed this to the Israeli Ministry of Defense's Civil Administration's neglect of Palestinian complaints and also to Palestinian residents who were often reluctant to report incidents, fearing settler retaliation. The Israeli NGO Yesh Din reported in 2010 that more than 90 percent of investigations into offenses against Palestinians carried out by Israeli in the West Bank were unsuccessful.
Settlers also exploited religious tensions to harass Palestinian villages by vandalizing, breaking into, or burning 10 mosques. UNOCHA reported a 150 percent increase in attacks on mosques during the year.
Access to social and commercial services, including housing, education, and health care, in Israeli settlements in the West Bank was available only to Israelis. Israeli officials discriminated against Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem regarding access to employment and legal housing by denying Palestinians access to registration paperwork. In both the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli authorities placed often insurmountable hurdles on Palestinian applicants for construction permits, including the requirement that they document land ownership in the absence of a uniform post-1967 land registration process, high application fees, and requirements that new housing be connected to often unavailable municipal works. According to B'Tselem, since 2000 Israel has curtailed the Palestinian population registry, denying paperwork to Palestinians and effectively declaring Palestinians illegal residents. Some Palestinians defined as illegal residents faced harassment, arrest, or deportation to the Gaza Strip.
The World Bank reported that Palestinians suffered water shortages, noting that approximately half of the domestic water supply for Palestinians was purchased from Israel. The Palestinian Water Authority claimed that Israel controls 90 percent of the shared water resources of the Mountain Aquifer, which underlies the West Bank and Israel. According to Amnesty International (AI), Palestinians received on average of 18.5 gallons of water per person per day, falling short of the World Health Organization's standard of 26.5 gallons per person per day, the minimum daily amount required to maintain basic hygiene standards and food security. The PA's ability to improve water network management and efficiency was limited by political constraints, including the requirement for Israeli approval to implement water-related projects and the PA's lack of authority in Area C to prevent theft from the network, as well as by the PA's own management challenges. Between January and July, according to the UN, the Israeli military destroyed 20 water cisterns, some of which were funded by donor countries for humanitarian purposes. The Israeli military also destroyed unlicensed Palestinian agricultural wells, claiming they depleted aquifer resources. During the year the two sides partially resolved a long-standing dispute on the rehabilitation of licensed Palestinian wells, with Israel allowing Palestinian farmers to rehabilitate 57 licensed wells in the Eastern Basin of the Mountain Aquifer, increasing water supply in the largely agricultural Jordan Valley of the West Bank.
In the West Bank, some NGOs reported an increase in settler expropriation of natural water springs located on privately owned Palestinian land. Yesh Din documented settler expropriation of 26 springs and their conversion into recreational "nature parks." Palestinian residents reported that water supplies were intermittent, and settlers and their security guards denied Palestinians, including shepherds and farmers, access to the springs. AI estimated that the settler population in the West Bank used as much water as the entire Palestinian population.
NGOs claimed that Jerusalem municipal and Israeli national policies aimed at decreasing the number of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. Government-sponsored construction of new Israeli housing units continued, while building permits were difficult to obtain for Arab residents of East Jerusalem, and homes built by Arab residents without legal permit were subject to demolition. The Israeli NGOs Bimkom and IrAmim claimed that Palestinians in East Jerusalem continued to face barriers to purchasing property or obtaining building permits. Land owned or populated by Arabs (including Palestinians and Israeli Arabs) was generally zoned for low residential growth. Approximately 30 percent of East Jerusalem was designated for Israeli residents. Palestinians were able in some cases to rent Israeli-owned property, but were generally unable to purchase property in an Israeli neighborhood. Israeli NGOs claimed that of all land designated for housing in West Jerusalem and in the Israeli neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, at least 79 percent was unavailable for Arab construction.
The Jerusalem Municipality and Jewish organizations in Jerusalem made efforts to increase Israeli property ownership or underscore Jewish history in predominately Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Municipality advocated increased Israeli influence and property ownership in East Jerusalem's Kidron Valley.
Although Israeli law entitles Arab residents of East Jerusalem to full and equal services provided by the municipality and other Israeli authorities, in practice the Jerusalem Municipality failed to provide sufficient social services, infrastructure, emergency planning, and postal service for Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Palestinian residents constituted 35 percent of Jerusalem's population but received only 10-15 percent of municipal spending. The ACRI reported that this resulted in Palestinian residents' lack of access to running water, crowded classrooms in substandard buildings, and poor sewage infrastructure, among other problems. Many Jerusalem municipal forms were not available in Arabic. Bus services in Jerusalem were largely segregated in practice.
There were three groups of Palestinians residing in the country, many of whom faced some discrimination. Those who migrated to the country and the
Jordan-controlled West Bank after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war received full citizenship, as did those who migrated to the country after the 1967 war and hold no residency entitlement in the West Bank. Palestinians still residing in the West Bank after 1967 were no longer eligible to claim full citizenship but were allowed to obtain temporary travel documents without national identification numbers provided they did not also carry a Palestinian Authority travel document. These individuals had access to some government services but paid noncitizen rates at hospitals, educational institutions, and training centers. Refugees who fled Gaza after 1967 were not entitled to citizenship and were issued temporary travel documents without national numbers. These persons had no access to government services and were almost completely dependent on UNRWA services.
Several human rights organizations stated that the Ministry of Interior revoked national numbers of some longtime citizens of Palestinian origin during the year, despite codified passport issuance procedures (see section 2.d.).
Palestinians were underrepresented in parliament and senior positions in the government and the military, as well as in admissions to public universities. They had limited access to university scholarships.
Approximately 68 percent of the country's residents were noncitizens, many originating from the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Societal discrimination against noncitizens was prevalent and occurred in most areas of daily life, including employment, education, housing, social interaction, and health care.
A February report funded by the EU and written by a coalition of local human rights organizations, A Culture of Racism in Lebanon, identified a widespread pattern of discrimination against individuals who did not appear ethnically Lebanese. Lebanese of African descent attributed discrimination to the color of their skin and claimed harassment from police who periodically demanded to see their papers. Arab, African, and Asian students, professionals, and tourists reported being denied entry into bars, clubs, restaurants, and private beaches. Male foreign migrant workers reported regular harassment from police officers and said they were often accused of theft. Syrian workers, usually employed in the manual labor and construction sectors, continued to suffer discrimination, as they did following the 2005 withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon.
Arabic-speaking Muslims of mixed Arab-Amazigh (Berber) ancestry constituted 97 percent of citizenry. The principal minorities were Amazighs, Tuaregs, and Toubou. These minority groups are predominantly Sunni Muslim but identify with their respective cultural and linguistic heritage rather than with Arab traditions. Several nomadic groups live in areas along the country's desert borders, including Tuareg and Toubou. The country was home to an estimated 1.5 million to two million foreign workers and undocumented migrants, many of whom fled or were displaced during the conflict. Of those, nearly one million were thought to be of Sahelian or sub-Saharan African origin.
Under Qadhafi, Arabic was declared the only official language, and the regime denied the existence of non-Arab citizens. Amazigh people faced discrimination, including limitations on the use of their native language. Amazigh fighters participated in the revolution and were able to publicly use Amazigh symbols and the alphabet. At year's end, they pursued fledgling efforts to advocate for equal protections for Amazigh culture and language.
There was societal discrimination and violence against dark-skinned Libyans, including those of original sub-Saharan descent, in part due to allegations that Qadhafi used African mercenaries during the conflict.
Many of the poorest regions in the country--particularly the Middle Atlas region--are predominantly Amazigh with illiteracy as high as 80 percent. Basic governmental services in this mountainous and underdeveloped region were not extensive.
Official languages are Arabic and--with the new constitution--Amazigh. Arabic predominates, but French and Amazigh were available in the news media and, to a much lesser extent, educational institutions.
Approximately 60 percent of the population, including the royal family, claimed some Amazigh heritage. Amazigh cultural groups contended that their traditions and language were being lost rapidly to Arabization. The government increasingly provided television programs in the three Amazigh dialects of Tarifit, Tashelhit, and Tamazight. The government also offered Amazigh language classes in the curriculum of 3,470 schools. Expanding Amazigh language education was hindered primarily by a lack of qualified teachers, which the palace-funded Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture was addressing through the creation of university-level teacher training. Instruction in learning the Amazigh language is mandatory for students at the Ministry of Interior School for Administrators in Kenitra.
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Legal and social discrimination against noncitizen workers was a problem. The government distinguished between citizens and noncitizens in employment, education, housing, and health services. Noncitizens were required to pay for electricity, water, and some secondary and higher education (services provided without charge to citizens). Noncitizens were eligible for medical coverage at a nominal fee. Noncitizens generally could not own property, but the law provides for property ownership in three designated areas. Cultural, linguistic, and religious differences and divergent economic status accentuated social discrimination between citizens and migrant workers. "Bidoons" also endured social discrimination.
Although racial discrimination is illegal, societal discrimination against members of national, racial and ethnic, or tribal minorities was a problem. Foreign workers from Africa and Asia were subject to formal and informal discrimination, especially racial discrimination. The tolerance campaign of the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue sought to address some of these issues.
There were numerous cases of assault against foreign workers and reports of widespread worker abuse. The Shia minority continued to suffer social, legal, economic, and political discrimination. To address the problem, the Ministries of Defense and Interior and the National Guard held antidiscrimination training courses in recent years for police and law enforcement officers. There were no reports of training during the year or of the success rate of these programs.
The government generally permitted national and ethnic minorities to conduct traditional, religious, and cultural activities, although the Kurdish population--citizens and noncitizens--continued to face official and societal discrimination and repression. However, the government used less violence and arrested fewer Kurds than in previous years. Many activists and opposition groups claimed that the government's marked change in attitude toward the Kurds was an effort to manipulate sectarian tensions for propaganda purposes. Unlike in previous years, there were no reports of suspicious Kurdish conscript deaths in the military, nor did government forces perpetrate violence during Kurdish festivals such as the New Year (Nowruz) celebrations.
Although the government contended there was no discrimination against the Kurdish population, it placed limits on the use and teaching of the Kurdish language. It also restricted the publication of books and other materials in Kurdish, Kurdish cultural expression, and at times the celebration of Kurdish festivals.
Authorities continued enforcement of an old ruling requiring that at least 60 percent of the words on signs in shops and restaurants be in Arabic. Officials reportedly sent patrols into commercial districts to threaten shop owners with closure if they refused to change the names of their stores into Arabic. Minority groups--especially Kurds, whom the government appeared to target specifically--regarded the step as a further attempt to undermine their cultural identity.
After the start of the March uprising, the government utilized its state-run television station to spread propaganda that the protesters were Sunni Islamists in an effort to scare minority groups into submission to the state.
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
United Arab Emirates
Approximately 89 percent of the country's residents were noncitizens originating primarily from the Indian subcontinent. Societal discrimination against noncitizens was prevalent and occurred in most areas of daily life, including employment, education, housing, social interaction, and health care.
The law criminalizes commercial disputes and bankruptcy, which led to discrimination against foreigners. In practice, these laws were selectively enforced and allowed local Emiratis to threaten expatriate business people and foreign workers with harsh prison sentences to assure a favorable outcome in commercial disputes.
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Although racial discrimination is illegal, racial and societal discrimination against the Akhdam (an estimated 2-5 percent of the population) was a problem. The Akhdam generally lived in poverty and endured persistent social discrimination. According to a 2009 study by the NGO Save the Children, the Akhdam community, an ethnic minority descended from East Africans, was the social group most vulnerable to discrimination. The government's social fund for development provided basic services to assist them.