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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. ]
According to the HRC's July 2010 to June 2011 annual report, it received 422 complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act, citing 826 alleged grounds of discrimination. Of these, 35 percent involved employment, 27 percent involved provision of goods and services, and 16 percent alleged "racial hatred." Persons born outside the country filed 44 percent of the complaints, and Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders filed 34 percent. During this period the HRC resolved 472 complaints, 208 through conciliation.
Government policy provides for preferential programs designed to boost the economic position of ethnic Malays, who constitute approximately two-thirds of the population.
Ethnic minorities constitute an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the population, and the seven ethnic minority states make up approximately 60 percent of the national territory. Wide-ranging governmental and societal discrimination against minorities persisted. Tension between the government army and ethnic populations remained high; the army stationed forces in some ethnic groups' areas and controlled certain cities, towns, and highways. Abuses included reported killings, beatings, torture, forced labor, forced relocations, and rapes of members of ethnic groups by government soldiers. Some armed ethnic groups also committed abuses (see sections 1.g. and 2.d.).
At year's end the government had reached preliminary cease-fire agreements with three armed ethnic groups: the United Wa State Army, the National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Shan State Army-South. Fighting continued in Karen, Kachin, Shan, and Mon states (see sections 1 .g. and 2.d.).
Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State were discriminated against because of their ethnicity. Most faced severe restrictions on their ability to travel, engage in economic activity, obtain an education, and register births, deaths, and marriages (see section 2.d.).
Ethnic minority groups generally used their own languages at home. However, throughout all parts of the country controlled by the government, including ethnic minority areas, Burmese remained the mandatory language of instruction in state schools, and teaching in local languages was not offered. In ethnic minority areas most primary and secondary state schools did not offer instruction in the local ethnic minority language. There were very few domestic publications in indigenous minority languages. The government tightly controlled the limited number of Buddhist monastery-based schools, Christian seminaries, and Muslim madrassahs.
During the year there were several reports of ethnic villages being displaced for economic development, such as those around the Myitsone Dam project-- subsequently suspended by presidential order--in Kachin State.
The rights of minorities under the nationality law are not explicit; constitutional protections are extended only to "Khmer people." Citizens of Chinese and Vietnamese ethnicity constituted the largest ethnic minorities. Ethnic Chinese citizens were accepted in society, but animosity continued toward ethnic Vietnamese, who were seen as a threat to the country and culture. Some groups, including political groups, continued to make strong anti-Vietnamese statements. They complained of political control of the CPP by the Vietnamese government, border encroachment, and other problems for which they held ethnic Vietnamese at least partially responsible.
China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)
Most minority groups resided in areas they traditionally inhabited. Government policy calls for members of recognized minorities to receive preferential treatment in birth planning, university admission, access to loans, and employment. However, the substance and implementation of ethnic minority policies remained poor, and discrimination against minorities remained widespread.
Minority groups in border and other regions had less access to education than their Han counterparts, faced job discrimination in favor of Han migrants, and earned incomes well below those in other parts of the country. Government development programs often disrupted traditional living patterns of minority groups and included, in some cases, the forced relocation of persons. Han Chinese benefited disproportionately from government programs and economic growth. As part of its emphasis on building a "harmonious society," the government downplayed racism and institutional discrimination against minorities, which remained the source of deep resentment in the XUAR, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and Tibetan areas.
Ethnic minorities represented approximately 14 percent of delegates to the NPC and more than 15 percent of NPC standing committee members, according to an official report issued in July. A November 19 article in the official online news source for overseas readers stated that ethnic minorities comprised 41.3 percent of cadres in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 25.4 percent of cadres in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and 51 percent of cadres in the XUAR. During the year all five of the country's ethnic minority autonomous regions had chairmen (the chairman in an autonomous region is equivalent to the governor of a province) from minority groups. The CCP secretaries of these five autonomous regions were all Han. Han officials continued to hold the majority of the most powerful CCP and government positions in minority autonomous regions, particularly the XUAR.
The government's policy to encourage Han Chinese migration into minority areas significantly increased the population of Han in the XUAR. In recent decades the Han-Uighur ratio in the capital of Urumqi has reversed from 20/ 80 to 80/20 and continued to be a source of Uighur resentment. Discriminatory hiring practices gave preference to Han and discouraged job prospects for ethnic minorities. According to 2005 statistics published by XUAR officials, eight million of the XUAR's 20 million official residents were Han. Hui, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uighur, and other ethnic minorities constituted approximately 12 million XUAR residents. Official statistics understated the Han population, because they did not count the tens of thousands of Han Chinese who were long-term "temporary workers." While the government continued to promote Han migration into the XUAR and filled local jobs with migrant labor, overseas human rights organizations reported that local officials under direction from higher levels of government deceived and pressured young Uighur women to participate in a government-sponsored labor transfer program.
The XUAR government took measures to dilute expressions of Uighur identity, including reduction of education in ethnic minority languages in XUAR schools and the institution of language requirements that disadvantaged ethnic minority teachers. The government continued to apply policies thatprioritized standard Chinese for instruction in school, thereby reducing or eliminating ethnic-language instruction. Graduates of minority-language schools typically needed intensive Chinese study before they could handle Chinese-language course work at a university. The dominant position of standard Chinese in government, commerce, and academia put graduates of minority-language schools who lacked standard Chinese proficiency at a disadvantage.
During the year authorities continued to implement repressive policies in the XUAR and targeted the region's ethnic Uighur population. Officials in the XUAR continued to implement a pledge to crack down on the government-designated "three forces" of religious extremism, ethnic separatism, and terrorism and outlined efforts to launch a concentrated antiseparatist reeducation campaign.
It was sometimes difficult to determine whether raids, detentions, and judicial punishments directed at individuals or organizations suspected of promoting the three forces were actually used to target those peacefully seeking to express their political or religious views. The government continued to repress Uighurs expressing peaceful political dissent and independent Muslim religious leaders, often citing counterterrorism as the reason for taking action.
Uighurs continued to be sentenced to long prison terms, and in some cases executed without due process, on charges of separatism and endangering state security. The government reportedly pressured third countries to return Uighurs outside the country, who faced the risk of persecution if repatriated.
Freedom of assembly was severely limited during the year in the XUAR.
According to state official media accounts, on July 18, a group of Uighurs attacked a police station in Hotan, XUAR, killing two security guards and taking eight hostages. Police killed 14 of the attackers, captured four, and rescued six hostages; two hostages died in the rescue attempt. On July 30 and 31, through stabbings and bombings, Uighur men in Kashgar, XUAR, killed 13 persons. In the July30 incident, the civilians killed one of the Uighur attackers and took another into custody. In the July 31 incident, police shot and killed five of the suspects, took four into custody, and subsequently killed two suspects who had initially escaped. Four of the detained Uighurs were subsequently given death sentences for their involvement in the violence.
State media reported that on December 28, security forces in Hotan Prefecture, XUAR, killed seven persons and injured four others while rescuing hostages. Two police officers reportedly were killed in the incident.
In 2009 the government announced it would demolish three buildings owned by the family of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uighur Conference. The government blamed Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman in exile, for orchestrating the 2009 riots in Urumqi. At year's end the buildings had not been demolished but remained vacant and condemned. Two of Kadeer's sons also remained in prison.
Possession of publications or audiovisual materials discussing independence or other sensitive subjects was not permitted. Uighurs who remained in prison at year's end for their peaceful expression of ideas the government found objectionable included Abdulla Jamal, Adduhelil Zunun, and Nurmuhemmet Yasin.
During the year XUAR and national-level officials defended the campaign against the three forces of religious extremism, splittism, and terrorism and other emergency measures taken as necessary to maintain public order. Officials continued to use the threat of violence as justification for extreme security measures directed at the local population, journalists, and visiting foreigners.
In 2009 state media reported that XUAR authorities approved the Information Promotion Bill, making it a criminal offense to discuss separatism on the Internet and prohibiting use of the Internet in any way that undermines national unity. The regulation further bans inciting ethnic separatism or harming social stability. It requires Internet service providers and network operators to set up monitoring systems or strengthen existing ones and report transgressions of the law.
Han control of the region's political and economic institutions also contributed to heightened tension. Although government policies continued to allot economic investment in, and brought economic improvements to the XUAR, Han residents received a disproportionate share of the benefits.
(For specific information on Tibet, please see the Tibet addendum.)
China - Tibet
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
China - Hong Kong
- China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau) - Hong Kong
Although 95 percent ethnic Chinese, the SAR is a multiethnic society with persons from a number of ethnic groups recognized as permanent residents with full rights under the law. Discrimination based on race is prohibited by law, and the EOC oversees implementation and enforcement of the law. The Race Relations Unit, which is subordinate to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, served as secretariat to the Committee on the Promotion of Racial Harmony and implemented the committee's programs. The unit also maintained a hotline for inquiries and complaints concerning racial discrimination. The code of practice (along with selected other EOC materials) was available in Hindi, Thai, Urdu, Nepali, Indonesian, and Tagalog, in addition to Chinese and English. As of July 31, the EOC received 49 complaints and handled 63 cases.
The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau sponsored a cross-cultural learning program for non-Chinese speaking youth through grants to NGOs.
The government had a policy to integrate non-Chinese students into Hong Kong's schools. The government also provided a special grant for designated schools with a critical mass of non-Chinese students to develop their own programs, share best practices with other schools, develop supplementary curriculum materials, and set up the Chinese-language support centers to provide after-school programs. However, activists expressed concern that there
was no formal government-provided course to prepare students for the General Certificate for Secondary Education exam in Chinese, a passing grade from which is required for most civil service employment. Activists also noted that government programs encouraging predominantly Chinese schools to welcome minority students backfired, turning whole schools into segregated institutions." These schools did not teach Chinese to the non-ethnically Chinese students. Students who did not learn Chinese had significant difficulty entering the labor market, leading to a cycle of problems including unemployment and poverty, according to reports from the government and nongovernmental organizations.
The EOC established a working group on Education for Ethnic Minorities in July 2010, which presented a set of recommendations to the Education Bureau in March and July. According to activists and the EOC, the Education Bureau has not responded to the recommendations.
Minority group leaders and activists complained that government requirements that all job applicants speak Chinese kept nonnative Chinese speakers out of civil service and law enforcement positions. Despite the fact that both English and Chinese were official languages, reports indicated that little more than one third of government departments regularly issued their press releases in both.
Following Chief Executive Tsang's calls for support to ethnic minorities in the October policy address, the government's Community Care Fund endorsed a new program to support minorities and new arrivals with Chinese language training.
Activists and the government disputed whether new immigrants from the mainland should be considered as a population of concern under antidiscrimination legislation. While concerns were raised that new immigrants do not qualify to receive social welfare benefits until they have resided in the SAR for seven years, the courts upheld this legal standard. Such immigrants can apply on a case-specific basis for assistance.
China - Macau
China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau) - Macau
Although the government made efforts to address the complaints of individuals of Portuguese descent and the Macanese minority, members of these two groups continued to claim they were not treated equally by the Chinese majority. While they participated in political and cultural circles, some activists claimed businesses refused to hire employees who are not ethnically Chinese.
Tension between ethnic Fijians and Indian-Fijians has been a longstanding problem. Indigenous Fijians make up 57 percent of the population, Indian-Fijians comprise 37 percent, and the remaining 6 percent is composed of Europeans, Chinese, and Rotuman and other Pacific Islander communities. The abrogated constitution notes that the composition of state services at all levels must be based on the principle of reflecting as closely as possible the ethnic composition of the population," but a nonjusticiable compact in the constitution also cites the paramountcy" of Fijian interests as a guiding principle.
The compact also provides for affirmative action and social justice" programs to secure effective equality" for ethnic Fijians and Rotumans, as well as for other communities." The compact chiefly benefited the indigenous Fijian majority, although Indian-Fijians dominated the commercial sector. Indigenous Fijians dominated the civil service, including senior positions.
The government publicly stated its opposition to such policies, which it characterized as racist, and called for the elimination of discriminatory laws and practices that favor one race over another; however, as of year's end, most remained in place. The government's reform priorities, including reform of discriminatory laws and practices, were part of a political dialogue process with political parties that stalled and was not reconvened after the constitution's abrogation.
In an effort to address the sensitive question of ethnic and national identity, in 2010 the government decreed that the country's citizens would henceforth be known as Fijians," a term that previously was understood to refer only to the ethnic indigenous population. Indigenous Fiji Islanders would become known as iTaukei (literally, owners in the Fijian language). The decree requires that anywhere the word indigenous or native appears in the law and in government publications and communications, it is to be replaced by the term iTaukei. Some commentators, writing in blogs or overseas publications, observed that the lack of prior consultations with the indigenous community about the change and its promulgation by decree could complicate its implementation, given the historical opposition by indigenous Fijians to making Fijian the common name for all citizens. (The 1997 constitution used the term Fiji Islander to refer to all citizens.)
Land tenure remained a highly sensitive and politicized issue. Ethnic Fijians communally held approximately 87 percent of all land, the government held approximately 4 percent, and the remainder was freehold land, which private individuals or companies held. Most cash-crop farmers were Indian-Fijians, the majority of whom are descendants of indentured laborers who came to the country during the British colonial era. Virtually all Indian-Fijian farmers were obliged to lease land from ethnic Fijian landowners. Many Indian-Fijians believed that their very limited ability to own land and their consequent dependency on leased land from indigenous Fijians constituted de facto discrimination against them. A pattern of refusals by ethnic Fijian landowners to renew expiring leases continued to result in evictions of Indian-Fijians from their farms and their displacement to squatter settlements. Many indigenous Fijian landowners in turn believed that the rental formulas prescribed in the national land tenure legislation discriminated against them as the resource owners. This situation contributed significantly to communal tensions.
In 2010 the government promulgated the Land Use Decree to improve access to land. The decree establishes a land bank in the Ministry of Lands for the purpose of leasing land from indigenous landowning units through the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB, formerly the Native Land Trust Board) and subleasing the land to individual tenants for lease periods of up to 99 years. The TLTB is the legal custodian of indigenous lands under the iTaukei Land Trust Act and holds all indigenous land in trust for the benefit of indigenous landowning units. In practice, however, the Land Bank began leasing land directly to tenants, without any involvement of the TLTB. The first lease by the Land Bank was granted to Xinfa Aurum, a Chinese mining company, for a bauxite mine in Vanua Levu. Beginning in January the government changed the existing formula for distributing lease proceeds to indigenous landowners, under which 35 percent of revenues had gone to chiefs and 15 percent was deducted by the TLTB for administrative expenses. The new process abolishes the system of chiefly privilege in land lease income distribution and provides for a one person, one share system. This change contributed to an increase in lease renewals, as individual members of landowning units receive a greater share of lease monies than under the previous system.
The government officially promotes racial and ethnic tolerance. Ethnic Chinese, which accounted for approximately 3 percent of the population, played a major role in the economy, and increasingly participated in politics. However, some ethnic Chinese noted that, despite recent reforms, public servants still discriminated against them when issuing marriage licenses and in other services. Some activists assert that most cases of discrimination against ethnic Chinese persons go unreported. Some public officials made public statements that government officials of Chinese ethnicity made decisions based on their heritage and not based on national interest. Discussions of corruption on local blogs at times degenerated into racial diatribes.
Ethnic minorities experienced varying degrees of societal discrimination.
Although not subject to governmental discrimination, Buraku (the descendants of feudal era outcasts ) frequently were victims of entrenched societal discrimination. Buraku advocacy groups reported that despite the socioeconomic improvements achieved by many Buraku, widespread discrimination
persisted in employment, marriage, housing, and property assessments. While the Buraku label is no longer officially used to identify people, the family registry system can be used to identify them and facilitate discriminatory practices. Buraku advocates expressed concern that employers, including many government agencies, which require family registry information from job applicants for background checks, may use this information to identify and discriminate against Buraku applicants.
Despite legal safeguards against discrimination, the country's populations of Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, and Filipino permanent residents--many of whom were born, raised, and educated in Japan--were subjected to various forms of entrenched societal discrimination, including restricted access to housing, education, health care, and employment opportunities. Other foreign nationals resident in Japan as well as foreign-looking Japanese citizens reported similar discrimination and also said they were prohibited entry, sometimes by signs reading Japanese Only, to privately owned facilities serving the public, including hotels and restaurants. Noting that the discrimination is usually open and direct, respected NGOs complained of government inaction in prohibiting it. In addition, the March21 report on the March 2010 visit by the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants criticized Japan for lacking legislation to protect migrant rights and prohibit discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or nationality and for inadequately addressing the persistence of racial discrimination and xenophobia regarding migrants.
In general, societal acceptance of ethnic Koreans who were permanent residents or citizens continued to improve steadily. In 2010, 6,668 ethnic Koreans naturalized as Japanese citizens. Although authorities approved most naturalization applications, advocacy groups complained of excessive bureaucratic loopholes that complicated the naturalization process and a lack of transparent criteria for approval. Ethnic Koreans who chose not to naturalize faced difficulties in terms of civil and political rights, and according to Japan's periodic submissions to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, regularly encountered discrimination in access to housing, education, government pensions, and other benefits.
A Japanese Social Insurance Agency enforcement directive explicitly makes it easier for employers to avoid paying pension and insurance contributions on behalf of their foreign employees who teach languages as compared with Japanese employees in similar positions. A labor union representing the teachers stated during the year that the directive provides impunity to employers who illegally fail to enroll foreign teachers in the system.
Many foreign university professors, especially women, were hired on short-term contracts without the possibility of tenure.
There was a widespread perception among citizens that "foreigners," including members of Japan-born ethnic minorities, were responsible for most crimes committed in the country. The media fostered this perception by heavily reporting crimes committed by non-Japanese citizens, although Justice Ministry statistics showed that the crime rate for foreigners, excepting immigration violations, was lower than that for citizens.
Many immigrants struggled to overcome obstacles to naturalization, including the broad discretion available to adjudicating officers and the great emphasis on Japanese-language ability. Aliens with five years of continuous residence are eligible for naturalization and citizenship rights. Naturalization procedures also require an extensive background check, which includes inquiries into the applicant's economic status and assimilation into society. The government defended its naturalization procedures as necessary to ensure the smooth assimilation of foreigners into society.
Representatives of some ethnic schools continued to press the government to have their schools recognized as educational foundations and to accept the graduates of their high schools as qualified to take university and vocational school entrance exams. The Ministry of Education stated that the graduates of ethnic schools certified by international school associations as being equivalent to a 12-year program could take the entrance exam.
Marches by nativist groups declined in frequency and intensity during the year compared with 2010, and there were fewer significant incidents.
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Korea, Democratic People's Republic of
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Korea, Republic of
Essentially racially homogeneous, the country's growing ethnic minority population passed the 1.2 million mark in 2010. To meet the projected growth in ethnic minorities due to the increasing number of migrant workers and foreign brides, the Ministries of Gender Equality and Family and of Employment and Labor continued programs to increase public awareness of cultural diversity and to assist foreign workers, wives, and multicultural families to adjust to life in the country.
The law provides for equal rights for all minority citizens and bars discrimination against them. Nonetheless, some societal discrimination persisted. Moreover, some critics charged that the government's resettlement program for ending slash-and-burn agriculture and opium production adversely affected many ethnic minority groups, particularly in the North. The program requires that resettled persons adopt paddy rice farming and live in large communities, ignoring the traditional livelihoods and community structures of these minority groups. International observers questioned whether the benefits promoted by the government--access to markets, schools, and medical care for resettled persons--outweighed the negative impact on traditional cultural practices. Some minority groups not involved in resettlement, notably those in remote locations, believed they had little voice in government decisions affecting their lands and the allocation of natural resources from their areas.
Of the 49 official ethnic groups in the country, the Hmong are one of the largest and most prominent. There were a number of Hmong officials in the senior ranks of the government and the LPRP, including one Politburo member and five members of the LPRP Central Committee. However, some Hmong believed their ethnic group could not coexist with ethnic Lao. This belief fanned separatist or irredentist beliefs among some Hmong. The government focused limited assistance projects in Hmong areas to address regional and ethnic disparities in income, which helped ameliorate conditions in the poorest districts.
Although there were no reports of attacks by the few remaining Hmong insurgent groups during the year, the government leadership maintained its suspicion of Hmong political objectives. Residual, small, scattered pockets of insurgents and their families remained in remote jungle areas. The government continued to reduce its efforts to combat them actively and continued to offer "amnesty" to insurgents who surrender, but because of their past activities, amnestied insurgents continued to be the focus of official suspicion and scrutiny. The government continued to refuse most international community offers to assist surrendered insurgents directly but allowed some aid from the UN and international agencies as part of larger assistance programs.
Government regulations and policy provide for extensive preferential programs designed to boost the economic position of ethnic Malays or bumiputra, who constitute a majority of the population. Such programs limited opportunities for non-bumiputra in higher education, government employment, and ownership of businesses. Many industries were subject to race-based requirements that mandated bumiputra ownership levels, limiting economic opportunities for non-bumiputra citizens. According to the government, these policies were necessary to ensure ethnic harmony and political stability.
Despite the government's stated goal of poverty alleviation, these race-based policies were not subject to upper income limitations and appeared to contribute to the widening economic disparity within the bumiputra community. Ethnic Indian citizens, who did not receive such privileges, remained among the country's poorest groups. Another goal of this policy is for bumiputra to hold 30 percent of the nation's wealth. According to several studies, the program reached or exceeded this target; however, official government figures placed bumiputra equity at 18.9 percent. The government did not respond to public requests to make its methodology available.
In 2010 the prime minister unveiled a New Economic Model that called for restructuring the country's system of bumiputra ethnic preferences to reduce unequal treatment of different ethnicities by the government and to better target subsidies and preferences to the poorest citizens, regardless of ethnicity. Conservative bumiputra-rights groups raised strong objections to any changes that could threaten ethnic preference programs. On February 8, Prime Minister Najib launched Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputra (Teraju) to strengthen further the bumiputra development agenda and boost its economic participation. Critics expressed concerns that Teraju would undermine the New Economic Model and failed to focus on merit-based affirmative action policies. The government claimed that it was necessary because bumiputra equity in the economy remained low.
As in some previous years, the authorities appeared to selectively enforce immigration laws against migrants, particularly from the People's Republic of China. Some ethnic Chinese reported being threatened or attacked based on their race and receiving regular racial slurs. Other ethnic Chinese stated that taxi drivers commonly refused to stop for Chinese passengers, although most taxis were owned by Chinese businessmen. The local press reported that attacks on Chinese sailors by youth gangs were common. The government did not take any steps to address this problem.
A law requires that employers who hire foreign workers make monetary contributions into a fund that provides job training for citizens. While manyconsidered the law discriminatory against foreign workers, employers willingly paid the fee to hire technically skilled labor, which was not widely available in the country.
Micronesia, Federated States of
Each of the country's four states has a different language and culture. Traditionally the state of Yap had a caste-like social system with high-status
villages, each of which had an affiliated low-status village. In the past those who came from low-status villages worked without pay for those with higher status. In exchange, those with higher status offered care and protection to those subservient to them. The traditional hierarchical social system has been
gradually breaking down, and capable people from low-status villages can rise to senior positions in society. Nonetheless, the traditional system affected contemporary life. Persons from low-status backgrounds tended to be less assertive in advocating for their communities' needs, and low-status communities sometimes continued to be underserved.
The national and state constitutions prohibit noncitizens from purchasing land, and foreign investment laws limit the types of businesses noncitizens can own and operate. The national Congress granted citizenship to non-Micronesians only in rare cases. There is no permanent residency status. For the most part, however, noncitizens shared fully in the social and cultural life of the country.
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
More than 95 percent of the population report their ethnicity as Nauruan. Persons of Chinese and other Asian backgrounds constituted slightly more than 3 percent of heads of households, and i-Kiribati made up 1.5 percent. Unlike in some previous years, there were no reports during the year of violence targeting minorities.
Pacific Islanders, who made up 7 percent of the population, experienced societal discrimination. The Ministries of Justice and Pacific Island Affairs had a program to identify gaps in delivery of government services to Pacific Islanders.
Asians, who made up 10 percent of the population, also reported some societal discrimination. The government mandates a race relations commissioner who developed a Diversity Action Program aimed at the Maori, Pacific Islander, and Asian communities. The program includes an annual Diversity Forum to eliminate race-based discrimination. It was widely attended and considered effective.
The Office of Ethnic Affairs within the Department of Internal Affairs focuses on improving dialogue and understanding about minority communities among the wider population.
The law prohibits noncitizens from purchasing land or obtaining citizenship. The only legal mechanism to obtain a citizenship is by blood, meaning that one of the parents must be Palauan. Children born to noncitizens inherit their parents' citizenship. Foreign workers constituted approximately 55 percent of the workforce. A majority of citizens viewed the recent rapid increase in foreign workers negatively. Foreign workers and their dependents, both documented and undocumented, accounted for nearly a third of the population. Foreign residents were subject to discrimination and were targets of petty and sometimes violent crimes, as well as other harmful acts against the persons and property. Foreign residents made credible complaints that the authorities did not pursue or prosecute crimes committed against noncitizens with the same vigor as crimes against citizens.
In addition some foreign nationals experienced discrimination in employment, pay, housing, education, and access to social services, although the law prohibits such discrimination.
The Division of Labor handles cases of workplace discrimination against foreign workers.
Papua New Guinea
Centuries-old animosities among isolated tribes, a persistent cultural tradition of revenge for perceived wrongs, and the lack of police enforcement sometimes resulted in violent tribal conflict in the highland areas. During the year tribal fighting continued in the highlands provinces. The number of deaths resulting from such conflicts continued to rise due to the increased availability of modern weapons.
On September 30, 15 people were killed during a tribal clash between the Agarabi and Kamano tribes of the Eastern Highlands Province. Police said guns and knives were used in the fighting and a whole settlement was burned to the ground. On October 19 police reported that seven people had been gunned down and several others wounded in a tribal fight in Enga province as a result of an ongoing conflict between two tribes from the Porgera area, which has claimed numerous lives and lead to the destruction of property over the last few years.
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Ethnic Malays constituted approximately 13 percent of the population. The constitution acknowledges them as the indigenous people of the country and charges the government to support and promote their political, educational, religious, economic, social, cultural, and language interests. The government took steps to encourage greater educational achievement among Malay students. However, ethnic Malays have not reached the educational or socioeconomic levels achieved by the ethnic Chinese majority, the ethnic Indian minority, or the Eurasian community. Malays remained underrepresented at senior corporate levels and, some asserted, in certain sectors of the government and the military. This reflected their historically lower educational and economic levels, but some argued that it also was a result of employment discrimination. Some ethnic Indians also reported that discrimination limited their employment and promotion opportunities. Government guidelines called for eliminating language referring to age, gender, or ethnicity in employment advertisements; restrictive language pertinent to job requirements, such as "Chinese speaker" remained acceptable. These guidelines were generally followed.
The Presidential Council on Minority Rights examined all pending bills to ensure that they were not disadvantageous to a particular group. It also reported to the government on matters that affected any racial or religious community.
Government policy enforced ethnic ratios, applicable for all ethnic groups, for publicly subsidized housing.
The country comprises more than 27 islands with approximately 70 language groups. Many islanders see themselves first as members of a clan, next as inhabitants of their natal island, and only third as citizens of their nation. Tensions and resentment between the Guadalcanalese and the Malaitans on
Guadalcanal culminated in violence beginning in 1998. The presence of RAMSI greatly reduced ethnic tension between the two groups, and in previous years the Peace and Reconciliation Ministry organized reconciliation ceremonies. However, underlying problems between the two groups remained, including issues related to jobs and land rights.
As of 2010, foreign-born spouses, primarily from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, or Thailand, accounted for 3 percent of the population, and an estimated 8.7 percent of all births were to foreign-born mothers. Foreign spouses were targets of discrimination both inside and outside the home.
In May the National Immigration Agency extended the permitted length of stay for parents of Chinese spouses from two to six months if the purpose of the visit is to take care of pregnant Chinese spouses or those who have suffered a miscarriage.
The authorities offered free Chinese-language and child-raising classes and counseling services at community outreach centers to assist foreign-born spouses' integration into society. The Legal Aid Foundation provided legal services to foreign spouses and operated a hotline to receive complaints. The MOI also operated its own hotline with staff conversant in Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Indonesian, English, and Chinese.
PRC-born spouses must wait six years to apply for Taiwan residency, whereas non-PRC spouses may apply after only three years. PRC spouses are also permitted to work in Taiwan immediately on arrival.
Two groups--former belligerents in the Chinese civil war and their descendants living in the country since the end of the civil war, and children of Vietnamese immigrants who resided in 13 northeastern provinces--continued to live under laws and regulations that could restrict their movement, residence, education, and occupation. The Chinese are confined to living in the three northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Mae Hong Son. According to the Interior Ministry, none were granted citizenship during the year.
Tensions between persons from the eastern districts (Lorosae) and persons from the western districts (Loromonu) appeared to be greatly reduced, and no specific incidents were observed during the year.
According to the Ministry of Labor, Commerce, and Industries, ownership and operation of food retail stores in the country has been legally restricted to citizens since 1978. Despite this policy the retail sector in many towns was dominated by Chinese nationals, who also moved into unrestricted sectors of the economy. There were reports of crime and societal discrimination targeted at members of the Chinese minority.
No information in the subsection on National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Most of the population is Melanesian. Small minorities of Chinese, Fijians, Vietnamese, Tongans, and Europeans generally were concentrated in two towns and on a few plantations. Most of the land belongs to indigenous tribes and cannot be sold, although prime real estate was increasingly leased to others. Within the limits of this system of land tenure, there generally were no reports of discrimination against ethnic minorities; however, only indigenous farmers may legally grow kava, a native herb, for export.
Although the government officially prohibits discrimination against ethnic minorities, longstanding societal discrimination against ethnic minorities persisted. Despite the country's significant economic growth, some ethnic minority communities benefited little from improved economic conditions. In certain areas, including the Northwest and Central Highlands and portions of the Mekong Delta, ethnic minority groups made up the majority of the population.
Some members of ethnic minority groups continued to leave for Cambodia and Thailand, reportedly to seek greater economic opportunity or shortcuts to migration to other countries. The government monitored certain highland minorities closely, particularly several ethnic groups in the Central and Northwest Highlands, where it continued to be concerned that the religion they practice encouraged ethnic minority separatism.
The government imposed increased security measures in the Central and Northwest Highlands in response to concerns over possible ethnic minority separatist activity. There were reports that ethnic minority individuals who telephoned ethnic minority community members abroad were a special target of police attention. Authorities arrested and convicted several individuals connected to overseas separatist organizations and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms in 2011. During the period around sensitive occasions and holidays, an increased security presence was reported throughout the region. There were a few reports that Vietnamese police operating on both sides of the border returned members of ethnic minorities seeking to enter Cambodia and sometimes beat and detained them.
In late April and early May, 5,000 ethnic Hmong in Dien Bien Province gathered in Muong Nhe District as part of a millennium movement. Security personnel dispersed the crowd and arrested 150 individuals. According to the government, seven detainees (among them were Thao A Lao, Mu A Thang, Trang A Do, and Giang A Xi from Dien Bien Province) remained in police custody at year's end, charged with preventing government officials from performing official duties, and an investigation continued.
The government continued to address the causes of ethnic minority discontent through special programs to improve education and health facilities and expand road access and electrification of rural communities and villages. The government continued to allocate land to ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands through a special program, but there were valid complaints that implementation was uneven.
The government maintained a program to conduct classes in some local ethnic minority languages in elementary and secondary schools. The government also worked with local officials to develop local language curricula, but it appeared to implement this program more comprehensively in the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta, and only in limited areas of the Northwest Highlands. The law provides for universal education for children regardless of religion or ethnicity, and ethnic minorities are not required to pay regular school fees. The government operated special schools for ethnic minority children,
and there were 223 boarding schools for them in the Northwest and Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta, including at middle- and high-school levels plus special admission and preparatory programs as well as scholarships and preferential admissions at the university level. There were also a few government-subsidized technical and vocational schools for ethnic minorities. Nonetheless, there were some credible cases of discrimination against ethnic minorities.
The government broadcast radio and television programs in ethnic minority languages in some areas. The government also instructed ethnic-majority
(Kinh) officials to learn the language of the locality in which they worked. Provincial governments continued initiatives designed to increase employment, reduce the income gap between ethnic minorities and ethnic Kinh, and make officials sensitive and receptive to ethnic minority culture and traditions.
Nonetheless, local security officials detained Tang Thuy, an ethnic Khmer Krom minority group member from Soc Trang Province, for two days in March for questioning about his participation in a meeting that called for the government to respect the rights of all ethnic minorities.
The government granted preferential treatment to domestic and foreign companies that invested in highland areas populated predominantly by ethnic minorities. The government also maintained infrastructure development programs that targeted poor, largely ethnic-minority areas and established agricultural extension programs for remote rural areas.
The National Assembly's Ethnic Minority Council, along with provincial Ethnic Minority Steering Committees, supported infrastructure development and addressed some issues related to poverty reduction and an increase in literacy rates during the year.