Wednesday, December 06, 2006

US: Justice Dept. Brings First Charges for Torture Abroad

It was announced today that the United States Justice Department has arrested a U.S. citizen for human rights abuses committed abroad. This is the first time the U.S. has pressed criminal charges against a citizen for torture outside the country.
More specifically, Charles “Chuckie” Taylor, Jr., son of the former Liberian president, was detained in Miami for committing human rights abuses in Liberia during his father’s presidency. Taylor was responsible for an elite anti-terrorist unit that has been accused of committing various violent assaults, rape, beating people to death and burning civilians alive. “Today’s first-ever charges for torture committed abroad are a crucial step by the US government to ensure justice for this crime,” said Elise Keppler, counsel with Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program. “It is especially significant for Liberian victims of Chuckie Taylor’s alleged abuses. After years of civil war, Liberia’s justice system is in no shape to pursue this type of case.”
While this is indeed an important moment for the U.S. Judiciary System, I wonder how this could affect Americans who have been accused of similar crimes abroad. I think this is especially relevant considering our classes’ ongoing debate about CIA “black sites.”

ASEAN urged to establish human rights commission

ASEAN was formed 40 years ago to battle human right violations in Southeast Asia. The organization still has no body to fight these violations. People within ASEAN have talked about ways to confront the issue but no one has made any movement toward making a change. Leaders of Southeast Asian countries say that they are working to make the ASEAN community a reality by looking for violations of human rights in their own countries. They contribute the headway that they have made to industrial and commercial development.
I see this as an attempt by these countries to move forward and live up to the international call for the respect of human rights.

A Real Pay-It-Forward Project

A friend sent me this url. I thought you might like to read it and think of alternative pay-it-forward projects. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

now even peace is controversial

What can possibly be said of the state of things when people take offense to a peace sign?

First of all, I feel the satanic symbol complaint borders on being hilarious. As for the complaint from those who have children serving in the war-I feel as though whether you have children or other relatives in the war or not, taking offense to a peace sign seems unwarranted. Clearly, those with loved one's off fighting would be definite proponents of peace, as that would likely mean the safe return of their loved ones and a worthwhile end to their fighting.

A peace sign wreath around Christmas time is in no way comparable to a sign that says “drop bombs on Iraq.” It is doing just the opposite, it is a symbol of peace-not an advocate of death and suffering.

Stop dying and start living

Seems like the situation in Darfur is getting worse every day. It's spread to eastern Chad as well as the Northern Central African Republic and threatens to disrupt over 6 million lives. Despite these horrors I cannot say that I would take up arms and fight. My life is as good as those that are lost in the fighting, so why would I risk losing it?
Giving aid and getting involved in evil situations is not the only way to promote good. When I read about all of the terrible events that are occuring each day I make a promise to myself to make up for them by living as well as these lives were lived poorly. I do the same tedious daily activities as everyone else but force myself to keep my eyes on what matters. When little things are getting me down I have to stop myself and remind me of my duties. But I always think about when students a hundred years from now look back to today, what will there be that justifies the horrors that we're dealing with? To make up for the Holocaust we gave a homeland to those who had suffered... but in retrospect we know this didn't solve anything. Even if Israel was at peace, would that make up for the millions of individuals whose lives were made into the opposite of what life should be? So I've decided to be the justification. I've decided that I want to give the world something that makes people say, "A child was just raped and mutilated in front of her parents? That's horrible. But look at what this man did with his life." And my accomplishments won't include trying to stamp out all the evil in the world so that it's neutral instead of ugly. Instead, I'll be pulling up the other side: the good, joyful, and beautiful.
So here's my statement to all of you. Instead of rushing out of your way to put out the fires that surround you, hold your path. You can spend your entire life trying to put out these fires, but in the end what will you have gained? I'm not advocating denying any sort of aid to anyone, but remember that extinguishing a flame doesn't replace what it consumes. Everyone of us has been given such good circumstances in which to live, so use what you have to increase the beauty of the world. I have a lot to make up for. Won't you help me?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bush Meets With Iraqi Shiite Leader

Is it possible that the United States is committing a human rights abuse by remaining in Iraq when the leaders have asked us to leave?
It talks about how the Iraqi Shiite leader is asking the US to leave so that peace can be restored. Bush claims that our presence needs to be increased due to a recent rise in violence. Is it possible that the rise is violence is due to our prolonged presence?
I think that the Iraqi people feel like the fight is between two groups of people and we are interfering in a civil war.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Secrets

So this is an interesting blog, that I feel is worth seeing. It's a blog that accepts anonymous postcards featuring people's secrets on them. Some of them are amusing and asinine, like last week's Macaulay Culkin scares me, and some of them are moving, dealing with people's battles with cancer and abuse. It might not be human rights to the scale of Darfur or the Iraq war, but it's an interesting site that shows people's battles with good and evil on a very personal level. I'm not so much looking for a reaction on this blog as much just showing a different angle of humanity.

Chavez coasts, human rights abuses continue

"Venezuela is one of the most violent countries in the world" said a researcher from UNESCO who conducted a crime study in the nation recently. Venezuela had the highest gun-related deaths of all 57 nations surveyed. Homicides are up 67% since 1999 and Chavez still seems cozy.
Experts say that this is possible since Chavez's policies have made a good deal of difference in the lives of his people. Ironically, however, the people who are worst affected by crimes are the poor in Venezuela, who also make up Chavez political base. The crimes against the rich are recognized. However, when the poor are killed, or injured, it often goes unnoticed.
Chavez's opponent in the upcoming elections is taking a stand on this issue and is making it a concern for the people.

Thailand: Insurgent Attacks Shut Down Schools

Malay-Muslim Separatists are targeting teachers as symbols of the state in provinces of Southern Thailand and eradicating the area's students their human right to education. On last Monday, teachers of the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat decided to close all 944 government schools for fear of safety. Since schools are run by the government, the insurgents are making a statement by terrorizing civilians and now targeting the child population through their education. Since November 1st, a total of 5 teachers have been killed, 2 injured and at least 10 schools burnt to the ground by the insurgents. These attacks are a direct threat to Thai children's safety and right to education. Though the Thai government is trying to work out negotiations with the insurgents and allow for a safe return for teachers and students in the area; imagine how each of us would feel if we were in danger if we were to pursue our education? Such an immediate attack on there poor kids human right to their education is appalling!

Is torture "sometimes" okay?

Below is my comment to Dr. D’s post on “When is a CIA blunder worth American justice?” I’m posting it separately because it is a controversial topic that I want to get more opinions on from others in the class before the post goes into the archives.

This comes back to our class argument about whether torture is okay sometimes. In class, there were good arguments made by both sides. If you say that it is “sometimes” okay, that would almost justify Masri’s case if the CIA could produce evidence that they had enough suspicion to detain and torture him. I do not doubt that torture of any sort is a human rights abuse. I even feel that torture of a known mass murder is wrong, because at the end of the day, he is still human. If someone is a threat to society, he can be imprisoned, but he still deserves to be treated humanely. Keepers of justice should never bring themselves down to the level of the criminals – something that is prevalent in justice systems throughout the world today, unfortunately.

Anyone who would read this article would be sympathetic towards Masri. If we were in his position – after all, he is as innocent as any of us – we would be outraged at the CIA and US justice system. They have no right to torture and degrade us in such a humiliating and completely unnecessary manner; however, are the “mistakes” worth it if a terrorist is found every once in a while using this system? Well if I was in Masri’s shoes, the answer would be an immediate “no!” Of course not. If you take a step back and look at the situation from the cushioned, leather chair of a top politician, the answer may “depend.” Ensuring security for all will inevitably lead to a few “mistakes” along the way, but “the end will justify the means.”

As for me, I am just left confused. I feel as though I need to study the work of the CIA, their effectiveness, and other alternatives to make a decision on this topic. I feel there is a lot more under the surface that needs to be considered in this complicated issue before I can effectively argue one side or the other. Our class debate was like the blind fighting the blind with no quality arguments (in my opinion) being brought up by either side. It would be interesting to see how the arguments would change after rigorous investigation of the topic.