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The backstory: Over the past year, Western countries have welcomed refugees from Ukraine as they fled from the war, taking in about 8 million since it began. But, at the same time, many European governments are calling for reforms to the asylum-seeking system to differentiate refugees fleeing war and persecution from those seeking job opportunities. They say this second group is putting a strain on the asylum system. And, while many Western countries denounced Russia's attacks on Ukrainian civilians, that same response hasn't been there when it comes to Syria's 12-year civil war.
The development: Every year, the London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International releases a report on human rights abuses and violations worldwide. This year's report accuses Western countries of having double standards, pointing out that they quickly condemned Russia but have failed to respond as strongly to other human rights crises in countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia.
Also, Amnesty says 2022 was the deadliest year in the past decade for Palestinians in the West Bank, with at least 151 people killed by Israeli forces. The report also highlights Myanmar's oppression of the Karen and Karenni minorities, with hundreds killed and at least 150,000 displaced. And it notes Iran's response to continued anti-government protests across the country, which has resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries.
"They didn't offer the same treatment to those escaping war and repression in Syria and Afghanistan [as they did Ukrainian refugees]," said Philip Luther, Senior Research and Policy Adviser at Amnesty International. "The USA as well, of course, a vocal critic of Russia's aggression on Ukraine, in a welcome move also admitted tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the war. But it subjected Haitian asylum seekers to arbitrary detention, humiliating ill-treatment that amounted to race-based torture."
"Solidarity is owed to the Ukrainian people, but it is also owed to the people of Palestine, to the people of Eritrea, to the people of Myanmar. And that did not happen in 2022," Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard told The Associated Press.
"We can take some comfort in knowing that in the face of such repression, thousands of people still came together to write letters, sign petitions, and take to the streets. It should be a reminder to those in power that our rights to demand change and to come together freely and collectively cannot be taken away," the report states.