Saturday, November 19, 2011
Consensual same-sex activity has been decriminalized in Russia in 1993, however, LGBTI people still face widespread discrimination and violence all over Russia. St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, has recently enacted a legislation to ban “propaganda for homosexuality” as it’s “converting Russia’s youth.”
The bill, which St. Petersburg’s city assembly passed nearly unanimously on the first of three readings, will effectively ban public events by LGBTI people and organizations under the pretext of protecting minors. Under the legislation, freedom of assembly and expression for LGBTI groups would be prohibited anywhere children might be present. If enacted, the law would allow authorities to impose fines of up to the equivalent of $1,600 for “public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.” Publications and other informative forms of literature and media representations of the LGBTI will also be restricted to what the authorities deem appropriate.
There has been a serious backlash against the bill from both the LGBTI rights activists in Russia and the international human rights organizations; specifically Amnesty International, who has urged St. Petersburg not to enact the homophobic bill which would “threaten freedom of expression and fuel discrimination against the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.”
“This bill is a thinly veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Russia’s second-biggest city,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program Director.
When comparing the situation in St. Petersburg to the United States, many would say that we’re better off here because no one would think about passing legislations like that. But is that really true? We say discrimination is wrong, yet LGBTI people do not share many of the rights that are granted to heterosexuals. Is this equality?
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Human Rights Watch is encouraging President Barack Obama to tackle Indonesia’s leader during his visit this week. President Obama should be meeting with President Soil Bambang Yudhoyono during this week’s East Asia Summit. In Indonesia, the light sentencing that was given to members of a religious lynch mob aggravated the local and international media. This mob was accused of killing three members of the Ahmadiyah minority sect. The same court had jailed one of the Ahmadiyah survivors of the attack in August for six months, who had lost his hand in the violence for defending himself and his friends.In Indonesia, Christians and the Ahmadiyah Islamic sects are minorities and have experienced persecution based on their religious affiliations. The Indonesian constitution guarantees freedom of religion; however, the persecution of minority religious groups have escalated since 2008. In February, a 1,500-strong mob of Muslims set two churches alight and ransacked a third in the town of Twanging, on Java island, as they demanded that a Christian man be sentenced to death for insulting Islam. More than 80 per cent of Indonesia's estimated 240 million people are Muslim. Five per cent are Protestants and three per cent Catholic.
The Human Rights Watch is encouraging President Obama to persuade President Yudhoyono to take serious action to prevent persecution of religious minority group to provide security and to end discriminatory laws.
I think the United States have the right to step in and encourage President Yudhoyono about this current situation in Indonesia. This country stands to protect and respect human rights. It is disturbing that the president of Indonesia hasn’t taken action to prevent more persecutions onto these minority groups. It is shameful that is all over the media, and it is making the Indonesian government lacking legitimacy especially that majority of the population are Muslims.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Furthermore, the bill sets a five year prison sentence on those who offer humanitarian aid to refugees – and even fifteen years should a person persist in offering aid after being prosecuted. This continues the trend of delegitimization of human rights organizations, by criminalizing any assistance – medical, legal, humanitarian – provided to those the law defines as “infiltrators.” The bill has been scheduled for further discussion in the committee. But judging by the recent state of human rights in Israel (which is considering placing strangling financial restrictions and taxes on NGOs that are deemed "political"), this bill has a good chance of passing in the Knesset.
Israel has consistently been a force for human rights and a home for thousands of refugees. This bill would ruin that reputation, and should not be passed.
Perhaps some of you might be familiar with the story of Lounes Matoub, the Berber singer and mondol player from Algeria who was kidnapped and killed by a radical Islamic group. His songs advocated Berber rights and secularism, and despite threats to his life and family, he refused to be silenced. We can see that persecution of musicians seems to occupy an intersection of the enumerated grounds; for Matoub, it is clear that he was targeted for both religious and political beliefs. However, if we consider a heavy metal singer in Afghanistan who continues to play his music with no political or religious agenda, can we say he is targeted for his political beliefs? Is belief in freedom of expression and performance a political opinion we ought to protect? Moreover, can we say that being a musician constitutes membership in a particular social group?
On a lighter note, even women are gaining more access to the production of music in Afghanistan. In this video, The Burqa Band performs one of their singles as a protest against both Taliban's rules for traditional dress and music regulation. In order to protect their identities and families, the group performs anonymously. Enjoy!
“A tenth of all the murders recorded in 2010 were committed by the police.”
There has been an alarming level of police brutality, killings, and torture in the Dominican Republic. Human rights violations are being committed by corrupt professional authorities who are not being held accountable for their actions. Between January and July 2011, 154 people were killed by the police in the Dominican Republic, according to the Office of the Prosecutor General. Reports indicate that while police officers claim that vast majorities of their shootings were in self-defense, in reality, police officers deliberately shoot to kill. There have also been reports of suspects being threatened, beaten, and tortured while in custody.
“The system for investigations of police abuse in the Dominican Republic is disorganized and lacks proper procedures to handle complaints of human rights violations by the police. Whether a police officer faces justice for a killing or torture depends largely on whether the victim or their family lodges an official complaint, the level of publicity a case attracts and the political pressure exerted on prosecutors,” said Javier Zúñiga.
Many families of victims are afraid to talk, as the new motto in the Republic is: “Shut up if you don’t want to be killed.”
This is a very interesting issue. Unlike the authorities in Syria, and Ukraine, where police are killing innocent bystanders, police forces in the Dominican Republic are killing those charged in criminal convictions without giving them a fair trial or allowing them to serve their sentences. They are ‘cleaning the streets’ by getting rid of criminals. They have justified their killings, but is it really a justification?