Saturday, March 01, 2008

Is There No Safe Haven for Child Asylum Seekers?

The UK government announced that children under the age of 18 who are not granted asylum would be sent back to their country of origin. The government claims that no child will be sent back without being "100% sure of a safe reception." Currently the UK receives approximately 2,000 unaccompanied minors every year. These new measures have been put into place to help stop child trafficking gangs. Most of the unaccompanied minors entering the country come from war zones seeking refuge.

After reading this article and thinking about all we have learned about the asylum process my question for everyone is: Do you think it's fair for children to have to go through asylum process all alone?

I personally disagree with what the UK government is doing. Many adults have a hard time making it through the asylum process. I cannot imagine a child having to go through these proceedings all alone. Many times these children are trying to cope with tragedy or the danger they faced in their homeland on top of being separated from their families and being in a strange new place. I feel that the governments’ main concern should be trying to help these children cope with what they are going through, and not exposing or forcing them through court procedures which could do more harm than good. People always claim that children are our future, but how can they be if the government cannot do something as basic as protecting their human rights.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Can music change the world?

While this article may not be the most relevant to our discussions, it really spoke to me. These young, twenty-something people are singing out against their society's traditions and attempting to make a change in their home. The Somalian music group has been displaced by the fighting and violence in their home country, and have been living in Kenya, some for over a decade. Singer Jamila Jamma says in the article "We are not happy with what has been happening back home, in fact we have recorded a thought-provoking song that we hope will bring our leaders back to our senses." While singing out against the war in Somalia, the group, "Waayah Cusub," is also crossing serious cultural boundaries to alert the people in their communities about social problems like AIDS. (You can listen to some Waayah Cusub songs on the BBC site)
This article raised some questions for me about the relevance of art and the responsibilities of artists when it comes to issues like AIDS, war and human rights all over the world. There has been a long standing tradition of using literature, art and music to speak out against injustices, and popular artists have a large audience to make their claims to. The question, I guess, is how much do you think the arts have an impact on society and global issues? Is there a responsibility among artists to address issues going on in the world today? How much change can they actually create?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bangladesh's Questionable Elite Police

Hmm.  If I were in power, equipped with the total authority of the land, more power than the regular police force, the ability to kill suspects, and shady characters to quiet any family member searching for answers, what would I do?  Party...a lot, because I certainly wouldn't have many worries.  Such is the case for Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) (Side note: I don't factually know how much they actually do party).  

Created in 2004 to combat inadequacies in the normal police force of low training and corruption, this group has been responsible for anywhere from 150-190 deaths in its first two years of operation (150 being the reports of the government, 190 reports of Human rights lawyers).   They have coined the term, "Death by Crossfire", which, contrary to popular believe, is not the name of a rock and roll album (though that would be a cool one), but instead refers to the fact that, "In an average week two or three people are killed in incidents involving the RAB.  'Of those who have died in this crossfire all are known terrorists and criminals of the country,' said the law minister, Moudud Ahmed."  By the way, a death by crossfire is not followed by much of an investigation.  I feel the law minister is being a tad confusing with his statement.  His RAB, stomps through the streets,  killing 'criminals' but how is this determined?  Human Rights Watch recently chastised Bangladesh for its high cases of torture and illegal detention, often at the hands of the RAB, in which many suspects never return home. 

The justice system in Bangladesh is obviously in disarray.  But in a country unable to train its police officers, is some sort of elite police unit such as the RAB necessary?  Is the far the RAB uses helping them maintain order?  Or is it another example of absolute power corrupting absolutely?  Discuss amongst yourselves...(apologies this is a week late)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Legal Immigrants now find more barriers to entry

Applying for permanent residence in the US is a hard process in general. For those who seek residency in the US legally seem to have a lot of trouble. Even though there are various ways that one can apply, often people look for sponsors. Sponsors for applications could be a spouse, a family member, or an employer. These avenues are supposed to make the process easier, however today there is still a struggle even if one has a sponsor. What does it say about our government and immigration process if those who are trying to apply legally for citizenship find constant struggles? Are illegal aliens making this process more difficult for those who are trying to do it legally?

Fidel Resigns: Should the Embargo stay?

As you all may know by now Fidel Castro resigned his position as President last week. Although everyone may think this as a catalyst for change in Cuba, nothing has happened. The Cuban economic embargo enacted during the Cold War designed to prevent American companies to do business with Cuba is still in place. Wouldn't taking down the embargo open the antiquated Cuban culture to a capitalist influence? If we do business with China, a communist country, why not Cuba?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Kosovo is Serbia!"...or is it?

Since Kosovo declared its independence a week ago there has been unrest in Serbia. Not only are the Serbs enraged by what they call an illegitimate declaration of independence, they are furious with the United States for giving recognition to what they deem to be a false state. Anti-American sentiment came to a head on Thursday at a Serbian government sponsored protest that turned violent when protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy and lit the ground floor on fire. The Serbian Prime Minister has directly blamed the United States for the violence and one of his aides was quoted as saying, "If the United States sticks to its present position that the fake state of Kosovo exists ... all responsibility in the future will be on the United States."

Ethnic tensions between Serbs in Serbia and Albanians in Kosovo have flared throughout a series of wars in the 1990s and the ethnic cleansing propagated by Slobodon Milosevic. Although Kosovo officially remained a part of Serbia, it has been administered by the United Nations since 1999 because of these wars and tensions. Does Kosovo have a legitimate claim to independence? Should the United States have acknowledged the state before the U.N. passed a resolution? Do you think this act will have implications for other nations with relatively strong separatists movements such as Cameroon?