Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Immigration debate to heat up in Senate this week



It starts today. In the wake of nation wide protests that took place this weekend, the Senate Judiciary Committee opens the immigration debate to decide the fate of 12 million illegal immigrants. Though many people are hopeful that Bush administration may reach a sound decision regarding the immigration policy, others still have their doubts. The protests over the weekend were led by more than 500,000 people who marched through downtown Los Angeles on Saturday in one of the largest demonstrations for any cause in recent U.S. history. Marchers also took to the streets in Phoenix, Milwaukee, Dallas and Columbus, Ohio. Demonstrations continued Sunday, when nearly 3,000 people, many wrapped in Mexican flags, rallied at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus and an estimated 3,500 United Farm Workers members and their supporters protested in Los Angeles.

For today, Demonstrations are planned near the Capitol, including a prayer service with immigration advocates and clergy who plan to wear handcuffs to demonstrate the criminalization of immigration violations.

Immigration debate to heat up in Senate this week

It starts today. In the wake of nation wide protests that took place this weekend, the Senate Judiciary Committee opens the immigration debate to decide the fate of 12 million illegal immigrants. Though many people are hopeful that Bush administration may reach a sound decision regarding the immigration policy, others still have their doubts. The protests over the weekend were led by more than 500,000 people who marched through downtown Los Angeles on Saturday in one of the largest demonstrations for any cause in recent U.S. history. Marchers also took to the streets in Phoenix, Milwaukee, Dallas and Columbus, Ohio. Demonstrations continued Sunday, when nearly 3,000 people, many wrapped in Mexican flags, rallied at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus and an estimated 3,500 United Farm Workers members and their supporters protested in Los Angeles.
For today, Demonstrations are planned near the Capitol, including a prayer service with immigration advocates and clergy who plan to wear handcuffs to demonstrate the criminalization of immigration violations.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Guantanamo Detainee pleads guilty to terrorism charge

An Australian national David Hicks is now the first Guantanmo detainee who has been found guilty of a terrorism charge. Hicks confessed to supporting military support to the Al Qaeda. Of course supporters of the administration would state that this case proves that there is strength to the "tactics" employed in Guantanamo. However, I openly state that in my mind, torture is never justified, not even in the case of this "war on terrorism."
Let us look at the facts surrounding Mr. Hicks' case. Earlier in the day the military judge had surprised the courtroom with unexpected rulings that two of Mr. Hicks’s three lawyers would not be permitted to participate in the proceedings, leaving only the attorney Major Mori at the defense table. Hicks was captured in late 2001 in Afghanistan. It has been nearly six years since then. Are we truly naive enough to believe that Mr. Hicks was not in some way tortured in Guantanamo Bay? Was he coerced into taking this plea?
I am not saying that it is completely out of the question that he did indeed provide military support to the Al Qaeda. However, the fact remains that it is very likely that after being held in captivity for six years, in what can only be descirbed as inhumane conditions, the man simply broke. Congratulations to the military tribunal in achieving a favorable, fair and unbiased outcome.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Saddam judge flees to seek asylum in the U.K.

Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman, who headed the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal in Saddam Hussein's trial has fled Iraq to seek asylum in the United Kingdom. The 65-year old judge arrived in the U.K. on a visitor's visa. A member of the Kurdish minority in Iraq, he is seeking asylum because he fears for the safety of himself and his family. He sentenced Saddam to death when he was found guilty of crimes against humanity, and also sentenced two of Saddam's top aides to death by hanging.

During the trial a defense lawyer and another judge were murdered. Therefore, many would say that Abdel-Rahman has a legitimate fear. However, his arrival in the United Kingdom has put the British government in a percarious position, especially as far as painting a safe picture of Iraq is concerned. This can also be linked to what Mr. Trebilcock said in his lecture--that safety in Iraq is far from certain. There is a large amount of internal stability that plagues the nation.

Anyone claiming asylum in the UK must be able to demonstrate that he or she has a "well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion". Therefore, the system is rather similar to the one that operates in the United States. The issue at hand is whether Abdel-Rahman and his family fit into one of the above categories. It is possible to construct a social group such as "persons who took part in Saddam Hussein's trial and who played a role in awarding him the death sentence." I wonder if he could use political opinion to his advantage as well. As far as his family is concerned, there have been cases, at least in the United States where family has been considered to be a social group such as the Matter of Navas v. INS, 217 F. 3d 646, 658 (9th Cir. 2000).

Tragic story of Asylum Seeker's final protest

A Napelese man named Uddhav Bhandari, aged 40, set himself on fire when his application for asylum was denied in Glasgow, Scotland. It was a last, desperate action from a man who feared being sent back to a country where he believed his life, and possibly the lives of his family, would be in danger if he returned. Mr. Bhandari, after suffering anguish and pain for 11 days in a Glasgow hospital, eventually dies last Sunday. This article raises the question that how should an individual establish a credible fear of persecution. If you cannot gather enough inofrmation to support your cliam, should you set yourself on fire or hang yourself to establish a credible fear?
I think people like Mr. Bhandari consider it more dignified to put an end to their lives with their own hands, than to die a merciless death at the hands of a ruthless persecutor. Mr. Bhandari's death is not only a statement, but also a slap on the face of International community.