Racial discrimination and related intolerance

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We are served refreshment only in separate cups at roadside tea stalls, turned away from public swimming pools, stopped on highways as presumptive criminals, trafficked as prostitutes, denied our mothers nationality, classed willy-nilly as mentally disabled in schools, and abducted into slavery. We are denied housing or burned out of our homes, refused fresh water from village wells, barred from employment or forced to perform degrading labor, and driven out of out of our communities or even our countries by terror. We face beatings, sexual assault, wrongful arrest, or murder on a daily basis. In lieu of the birthright of equality we are marked from birth with the brand of discriminatory treatment.
These words are the distillation of testimony received by Human Rights Watch that reflect the reality of racism as a global ill. This is the experience of countless millions who are victims of racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance on a daily basis. They include minorities around the world-and some majority populations too, even in the post-apartheid era. They have in common their humanity and the denial of full equality by reason of their birth. They are the victims of the politics of exclusion, stigmatization, and scapegoating-or of targeted neglect and social invisibility. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) defines racial discrimination broadly and concretely. Adopted in 1965, its definition of racial discrimination includes any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life. The reality of racism does not turn only on the definition of the groups that are oppressed, or on the much disputed concept of race itself, but may be driven largely by the perceptions of the oppressor. Racism blights the lives of groups defined primarily by ethnicity, caste, or an identity shaped by religion. Unlike class or other indicators of social status, these are attributes by which people are instantly identified and which can not readily be shed. Even if the very idea of race is discounted, racism is a very real and deadly phenomenon. The convention on racial discrimination requires states to guarantee to all individuals the enjoyment of rights without such discrimination-and to ensure that public policies are discriminatory neither in purpose nor in effect. In many countries, the discriminatory effect of public policy, regardless of its intent, serves to lock people away from the exercise of civil and political rights-and by doing so bars their way to the enjoyment of economic, social, and cultural rights. International action to combat racism has long been on ...

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