Friday, November 8, 2013

Mexico - Torture

The article I read discusses the use of a Mexican Supreme Court ruling that any dismisses any evidence obtained through torture in court. Israel Arzate Meléndez was detained in 2010 and tortured until he confessed to his involvement in a multiple homicide. He read this confession off of a script to his torturers. He endured waterboarding, electric shock and asphyxiation. Arzate was held for one year awaiting his trial until a court discovered his illegal detention and issued him under house arrest. The Mexican Supreme Court took his case in 2012 and he was released on November 6, 2013.
It interests me how even though numerous counties adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, counties are still changing their laws to adhere to this document. In 1991 the law was first passed that banned the use of torture as a means of interrogation. In 2008 the Supreme Court reaffirmed this law. It seems odd that it has taken this long for a ruling like this to pass. Is it irrational of me to think that any government would be efficient in passing legislation? I guess so. What is the point of even having a Declaration of Human Rights if no one even follows the document and the courts that uphold the laws have little to no power of the counties breaching the laws. In this case it took over 40 years for legislation to be made; still it required a Supreme court ruling to protect the individual's rights. If there is still a long way to go for human rights to be implemented into developed countries, how long will it take to reach developing war torn countries?

Suffering Outside of the Spotlight: The Eritrean Refugee Crisis

            There are many human rights atrocities that are fully within the public eye. There are videos made, campaigns run, and events held in order to educate the public and attempt to raise money for assistance. One example of this that comes to mind is the Kony 2012 campaign produced by Invisible Children, Inc. that went viral. However, there are many other situations such as this that are currently occurring: and no one is talking about it.
            This ignorance is exemplified by the fact that almost no one has heard about the Eritrean refugee crisis. Eritrea is a small African country that has a population of about 6 million people, and it has one of the highest rates of producing refugees, with over 2 million refugees currently seeking asylum in other parts of the world. The government is known for excessive detention, torture, and forced labor as punishments for practicing unauthorized religions or speaking out against the government. Many refugees are trying to escape from this or required military service.
These refugees usually escape towards Italy in overcrowded boats, which routinely capsize. Such an incident occurred recently in which over 300 people died. There are many other Eritrean refugee deaths that are occurring which could be stopped if action was taken. There are refugee camps in northern Ethiopia that are set up to house the escapees. However, these camps are horribly lacking any services other than basic food and limited healthcare.

Action needs to be taken to improve the efforts to care for these Eritrean refugees. If the Eritrean refugee crisis was brought to the attention of world leaders, we could possibly do more to care for the refugees while plans are being made for their resettlement. 

Article can be found here:

Refugee forcibly returned

 The article, found here, is about the forcible return of a Rwandan refugee back to Rwanda. I believe that this is a grave human rights violation as Joel Mutabazi has faced persecution even when he had asylum in Uganda. Many people came to Uganda for the sole purpose of killing him and he has been the victim of many kidnapping attempts. I believe the Ugandan government has failed him as he was given asylum but they decided that he was too much work and forcibly returned him back to his home country. I feel disgusted that a supposedly democratic government would have such corruption as to return a refugee to be killed. Despite the horror of this act I feel this is somewhat expected of third world countries such as these. On the other hand I wonder if the Rwandan government had purposely let the police take him back to his own country. Where leadership changes hands so quickly it shouldn't be hard to believe that there would be corrupt members of the police force. I feel that the Ugandan government simply decided that protecting Joel would be too much work and when they realized he probably had no important information concerning Rwanda, they simply weighed the risks against each other and decided it would be in their best interest to return him back to Rwanda. Even though this may look like oversight. In a war torn part of the world such as this I find what happened to be extremely sad but it should not be surprising given the circumstances and how precarious the balance of power is.

Social Media hellping to opress women around the world

We all heard how social media helped rights activists spread there ideas across fairly quickly and provoke peoples response, for example the Egyptian revolution where Egyptian citizens were able to take down the regime that ruled for years in Egypt by using social media to call thousand of people to group together and protest. But can there be a negative side of social media and human rights? Can it help certain governments oppress vulnerable populations? The answer is definitely yes. In Saudi Arabia there are reports of women being arrested for comments or statuses they post on social media. Oppressive regimes understand that through social media people can spread awareness about important events and that is why they try to target those activists and arrest them, just like they do to women in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia in particular where women are not aloud to speak up in public, they use social media as there "freedom" space where they can express themselves freely, but now they need to think twice before there are able to voice there opinion in fear of the government looking over there shoulder to see what they are writing. 
I think that this issue should be addressed, the whole purpose of oppressing regimes is to inflect fear into the citizens, fear of being caught and punished, but with social media people were able to fulfill one of there most basic rights as humans, freedom of speech. But now when people are able to voice there opinions (i.e Egypt), oppressing governments understand that its dangerous for there survival as a regime to let that situation continue, so they are trying to shut down one of the most basic rights humans have. We cant let that happen, every human being should have the right to voice his opinion and social media helps people do just that

2020 Olympic in Japan. Is it safe?

Tokyo Japan has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2020 summer games. Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe personally made a presentation to the committee and promised an effective cleanup of radiation leaking. However, I personally do not agree with hosting summer games at 2020 in Japan.

Japan is suffering the side effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, an energy accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, initiated by the tsunami of the Tokyo earthquake and tsunami on 11th March 2011. The damage caused by the tsunami produced equipment failures, releasing of radioactive materials beginning on March 12th. It was the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Since the nuclear disaster, 300 tons of highly radioactive water has been flooding into the Pacific Ocean on a daily basis. According to David Suzuki, an expert of Nuclear energy, Japan will be perished and the coast of North America should really evacuate, if Fukushima falls in a long-term earthquake. Radiation leaking also affects marine environment. Every Bluefin tuna tested in the waters off California in 2012 has shown to be contaminated with radiation that originated in Fukushima. (Do not eat seafoods from Pacific ocean!)

The public and international communities raise pressure on Japan to show demonstrable progress in cleaning up the world’s worst nuclear accident. However, there is no such progress. As the challenges facing Fukushima Daiichi become clearer with every new radiation leak and mishap, only the workers who are responsible for cleaning up the plant are suffering from plummeting morale, health problems and deep anxiety about the future. There are 6,000 technicians and engineers remain on the frontline of the clean up.

According to many experts, those radioactive materials last at least 50 years. In addition, many high-ranking officials and nuclear researchers left Japan right after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Japanese government tells the false story to the citizens of Japan and all the people in the world. How could they clean up the radioactive materials that last at least 50 years in 7 years? If Japan can clean up radiation leaking in 7 years, why Chernobyl is still closed and abandoned? Also, Why International Olympic Committee takes such risks that ten thousand athletes and thousands of audiences may be exposed to radiation?

Farrakhan's Freedoms?

Recently in class, during our analysis of the graphic novel of Persepolis, an interesting question was brought up: what are the costs of freedom, and is freedom worth those costs? One of the concerns raised was that a problem can occur when people use their freedoms to encroach on other people's freedom. Although some believe that we as a nation do a decent job of making sure that doesn't happen, this article brings to light the exact problems that we fear unlimited freedom brings. Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, a Black Muslim group, decided to use his influence to relay, what he believes to be an important message to all of his followers. He believes that Jews, as a whole, should NOT be trusted by black people, because of the ALLEGED actions of their ancestors, and their "massive influence" on the origins and beginnings of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Sound eerily familiar? Let's go back to Medieval Europe. I'm pretty sure that they believed that you couldn't trust Jews because they "killed Jesus Christ." The result of that belief, widely spread and supported, was the extreme anti-Semitic air existing in Europe for hundreds of years. The same ideology that influenced a young Adolf Hitler to take on the task of "cleansing" the world of this race. This is the same EXACT line of thinking that lead to the decimation of 6 million Jews in one of the most horrifying acts of mass murder known to man. Although I'm all for freedom of speech, and the rights of man, Farrakhan should NOT be allowed to spew such hate and awful generalizations about a people because of the lasting effect his words can have on the world. His words may have been denounced, and his actions may be looked down upon, but this does not change his ability to influence. His influence may inspire, inspire a new young Adolf, who decides to exact the revenge of his people on their ancestral slavers. And even though it may not be nearly at the level of the Holocaust, this new young black Adolf may cause pain and suffering due to his inspiration, all through the influence of a Mr. Louis Farrakhan. I know that this may be an extreme view to take on the situation, but its one that must be considered. Does Farrakhan cross a line in his address? And if he does, do we have the right to limit his speech? It's these tricky questions the surround the gift of freedom, and it's very difficult to draw a line somewhere.

Poor working conditions in China manufacturing plant

Human rights are the basic liberties and freedoms and respects that every human being on Earth should be entitled to. The reason why human and civil rights are always all over the news is because its simply wrong to treat anyone else as less than a human. What is defined as human rights varies from time period to time as culture and way of life is constantly changing. Such as how the world is rapidly industrializing, ideal working conditions and treatment and pay are considered human rights. One country that seems to be constantly violating these rights is China. China is an area of lots of unskilled people, low salary and loose labor regulations. A very recent case is a factory that manufactures hardware for Dell and other large companies. Undercover investigators from the China Labour Watch caught and experienced many violations within this plant. The entire way the plant operates is horrible. The employees have to an agency fee between a USD  equivalents of $16 to $82 to even work. The youngest of the laborers are barely 16! They are required to work around 28-30 days out of the month, and 8 hours a day plus overtime usually. After all this labor, they are only given about $250s worth in American currency. That’s not it; if their job requires them to stand, they stand for all 8 hours and if they have to sit, they sit all 8 hours. The only way we can stop these incidents is to make a statement and tighten the laws and enforcement and hand out harsher punishments. A huge plant being shut down would send a huge message to the rest.

Domestic Violence Issues

This article really opened my eyes to the severity of a certain issue: domestic violence.  Oftentimes, this issue is not represented enough because it often goes unreported; many times, victims are too afraid to call out their abusers because of fear of retaliation, and this is certainly a valid fear.  Many of the attempts of women for help end up in the situation not changing at all.  In this article, the woman sought out many different outlets for help: shelters, social workers, even the police, and the end result is nothing; she basically has no choice but to return to her abusive husband with her five children.   

This particular incident happened in Hungary, but similar situations occur every single day to many women and children all over the world.  I think that the reason that this issue is so prevalent in so many countries, especially the more “developed” ones that have the means to effectively reduce the amount of incidents is either ignorance or pure indifference.  In the article, it states that Hungary’s reforms to curb domestic violence says that prosecutors can only take action after the women report being assaulted on two separate occasions. This is completely ridiculous to me. 

How come two people can be arrested and sent to jail instantly for having a street fight, but a woman who gets abused by her partner requires extensive evidence in order to ensure her justice and safety?  Why do governments and law enforcement seem to pay more attention to people not paying their share of taxes instead of the helpless citizens getting beaten under their watch?  It seems to me like the priorities of many countries around the world need to be checked, and until that happens, situations like this are going to continue to be prevalent.    


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Human Rights and Drone Strikes

Recently, due to human rights examinations from different groups globally. the United States use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAVs or drones, has come into consideration for treatment as a human rights abuse. People that support this claim state that drone strikes are inherently destructive, and cause unnecessary collateral damage. They also state that the use of unmanned vehicles is unethical, primarily because it does not provide an opportunity for a human conscience to provide intervention.

To these claims, I respond. What is it about drone strikes that cause collateral damage that is inherently worse than regular air strikes that do the same? Is it because we give human operators the benefit of the doubt while holding their mechanical and computational counterparts to a higher standard? I believe that there is no difference between drone-caused damage and human-caused damage. To a degree, greater atrocities have been committed by humans than drones in the past. Drones are programmed to follow a specific set of instructions, while humans are capable of choice; choice that is not always for the better. One very pertinent example of this is the My Lai massacre. This massacre occurred at the hands of human soldiers in Vietnam in the days before drones were used at all. This example is also pertinent because it shows the power of leadership in the army. When a superior gives an order, soldiers are obligated to follow regardless of the order. In very few cases do soldiers disobey direct orders, which brings human operators back full circle. On the battlefield, because of the obedience instilled into each individual soldier, soldiers become in similar likeness to drones. That is not to say that they are not capable of free choice, but that they deny themselves that choice in their service.

In light of everything said above, I believe that the focus for these human rights groups should not be on drones, but on the needless and collateral destruction of war zones. Drones present an easy target for groups to work against, but they are not the source for the damage that people truly protest. They are merely tools from which actions occur.

Written by:
Brock Overcash

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Human Rights Agenda For the New Iranian President

The organization Human Rights Watch sent an open letter to the new Iranian president, demanding several key reforms.  Iran is a country that is more modern than most other Middle Eastern countries, as illustrated by their hosting of free elections.  Despite this, many question the legitimacy of this label.  There are certainly questions about the fairness of Iran's last election, in which Ahmadinejad was "reelected" despite mass disapproval.  Iran also has a long history of human rights abuses, especially towards political prisoners.

The letter demands the freeing of political prisoners or enemies of the state, as well as ending the house arrest of prominent leaders who oppose the regime. The letter also calls for, notably, an expanded academic environment, more women's rights, and a guarantee of the rights of women.  In general, it can be said that the majority of The West is hoping that the new president will begin the slow steps of modernization in this proud and ancient country.

One groups analysis of another group's treatment of their people is always a difficult subject because each group probably defines human rights in a different way.  There are some truths which are self evident to all people, in all cultures.  Some of these truths are being violated by Iran; such as the discrimination, imprisonment, and mistreatment of minorities.  Restrictions on the media, unfair detainment of civilians, and cruel and unusual punishment are also areas in which we can all agree the government needs to shape up, as Im sure the people of Iran will agree.

Some areas, however, are less black and white.  Women's rights are one area where there is a lot of grey area caused by cultural differences.  On one hand, I think we would all like for women to have the rights to be educated, own property, and be generally independent.  We must be careful, however, to carry over such generalizations to cultural legacies, such as the veil.  While many western women see the veil as a sign of subjugation, many women feel it is a wonderful institution that protects their dignity and worth.  It is easy to see that point when one stops and observes the way in which western culture has objectified women's bodies.  Men are more likely to mistreat and subjugate a women when she is nothing more than an object of his desire.  I would argue that in some ways, middle eastern culture is much more respectful of women than their western counterparts.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Madison Evans

Big Business and Human Rights
A large issue has arisen recently in which the living conditions of many have been compromised by the sheer nature of wealthy corporations. While nearly all countries have laws against human rights violations within the work force, most of these companies neglect to practice such laws. As a result, major corporations within largely influential nations such as the United States and European Nations fail to uphold human rights laws when they go abroad. Issues such as environmental neglect and labor law indifference are certain examples of breaches within human rights that companies have undertaken. For example, in 2012, Human Rights watch acknowledged how a popular oil company in India was overstepping its environmental regulations, indirectly impacting surrounding communities. In order to ensure that large corporations do not breach the extent of human rights, outside organizations must hold them accountable. Whether through financial/economical consequences or some other form of response, the behavior of these business cannot remain unnoticed. It is the right of every human being to have his or her life and quality of life protected. A business infringing on such a right for sheer economic gain is corrupt and inhumane.

“Its Very Good News” Malala Did Not Win Nobel Peace Prize

                The Nobel Peace Prize was recently issued to the Organization for The Prohibition of Chemical Weapons instead of the Pakistani teen activist Malala.  About a year ago a member of the Pakistani Taliban shot her in her home village due to her campaign on teen women’s rights to education.  My initial reaction to this article was a little superficial and I found that the more I read into it the more my reaction started to change.  I first thought about how it is dangerous to be a human rights activist.  The freedom of speech liberties that we have here in America are sometimes taken for granted and freedom of speech in other nations is not always truly free.  Individuals like Malala who speak out against the norm in order to spark social reform put themselves at immense risk.  Groups often resist change even when the change is more equitable for all making fighting for human rights very dangerous. 

The article talks about how honorable and brave Malala was and how she should have won the Nobel Peace Prize.  During the time that I spent reading this article I shared the same sentiment but the more I read the more I started to realize something that is not as obvious as the initial theme of the article.  I realized that sometimes people who are honored and receive distinctions when fighting for human rights are not always the people who deserve it the most.  Malala put her life at risk in order to fight for what she believed in and I believe that she did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize due to the reactions that would ensue.  Groups such as the Pakistani Taliban would react in a very aggressive manner putting her life at risk so I believe that for this reason they decided not to award her the Prize.  As I said before those who are most deserving of praise are sometimes the people who cannot receive it.  I am not saying that Malala is an unsung hero because she does have her fair share of acclaim but I do believe that there are cases like hers where human rights activists cannot be recognized due to the nature of their work.  This is what stood out to me most after the material from the article had time to sink in and is the message that one should take away from something like this.

Avoidable Pain

The above linked article tells about the suffering going on in Senegal.  Around the world, terminal diseases cause immense pain for thousands upon thousands of people before they die.  They are already sentenced to death for the most part with the disease they have, but the cruelty of the disease makes them suffer all the way to the end.  Medicine that relieves pain like morphine makes this time much more pleasant and bearable for many people.  Unfortunately, many third world countries cannot always provide these medicines for their citizens.  It becomes a completely different issue and a human rights violation when the government of a country is what is prohibiting this medicine and thus causing thousands of its own citizens unnecessary pain.  This is the problem happening in Senegal.  The government there is very restrictive and only allows for the import of one kilogram of morphine per year.  According to the article, that is only enough for 200 patients per year.  The country doesn’t have an amazing low disease rate and that’s why they need so little morphine. No. They have thousand of people (about 70,000 per year) that need medicine to control the painful symptoms of the diseases they have.  The government has the ability to help these people but does not.  This violation of human rights reminds me just how lucky I am.  That instant pain relief is always there when I need it.  I never have to worry while thousands of people cannot live ordinary lives in Senegal because their government refuses to import more morphine to help them.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Japan: Death row inmate's retrial rejection is 'travesty of justice'

            The Japanese Supreme Court denied a retrial for 87 year old death row prisoner who was convicted of murder based on a forced confession. The writer described it as a “travesty of justice”. 87 year old man, Okunishi Masaru, has spent more than 40 years facing execution.  On Oct. 17, it was his seventh request for a retrial. Since his eighth retrial process will take several years, he will likely die in prison.
Okunishi Masaru has been on death row since 1969, after being convicted of the murders of five women.  During his first retrial, the Japanese Supreme Court denied his retrial because of lack of evidences. As I read this article, the writer chose to write very defensibly for this old prisoner. However, how does this writer knows the truth?  What if the old prisoner really killed five innocent women? I read and heard few cases that quite a number of people who became prisoners, although they didn’t convict crimes. However, if you think about the families or friends of the five murdered women, how would you feel about letting their relative killer free?

Although people say death penalty should be abandoned to protect prisoner’s human rights, did the prisoner’s concerned about the victims’ human also? There are many different cases of murdering, yet I can simply think of two big cases, intentional or unintentional murder. Even though everyone deserves second chance of one’s mistake, it has certain limitation. I really think that people who deserves second chance is the one who is under those limit, such as an unintentional murder. After passing the limitation, I mean obvious you have to take the responsibility of your action. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Water Boarding as Torture

What do you do when someone has made it their sole purpose in life to destroy everything you know and love and has been brainwashed into thinking that what they're doing is correct?  Do you kill them, do you detain them and interrogate them, or do you slap them on the wrist and let them go.  Clearly the last answer is the last popular, and the first one is the least lucrative.  That leaves only detainment and questioning, and if anything is known about the U.S. government, it is that the CIA and other agencies are notoriously adept at their "advanced interrogation techniques."  One of these techniques, water-boarding, has always been under fire for being particularly brutal and also because there are those, including former vice president Dick Cheney, who claim that it is not torture.

And so we come to the crux of the matter: which matters more, the possibility of gaining information that could keep US citizens safe, or the guarantee of violating the basic human rights of non-US citizens?  Assuming that the captive you have in custody is in fact a terrorist withholding information that is detrimental to US citizens, subjugating them to water-boarding almost ensures that when they are captured by terrorists, these same methods will be used against them.  At this point, morality leaves the equation, and you are left with a torture form that will most definitely be used against our own troops, which is something that both parties of government can agree is unacceptable.

Water-boarding is particularly torturous as it simulates the experience of death, something that most forms of torture can't replicate. Having your nails pulled out, being beaten, electrocuted, or humiliated are all painful and degrading, but at the end of the day, the victim knows that they are being tortured.  With a form of torture such as water-boarding, the detainee doesn't know if at the end of the session, they are alive of dead.  A similar example of mock execution is pulling the trigger of an empty gun on someone, thereby forcing them to imagine their death.  These methods really put the "cruel and unusual" in punishment, and have no place in the future.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Social Norms and Working Class Treatment

     Apparently there are some individuals who don't immediately feel empathy towards other individuals. Namely the incident that recently happened where a working class servant was abused by his employer. It shows that the social norms there imply that it’s acceptable to express anger in a violent manner with no regards to the individual. So, who is to blame here? Is it the individual who attacked the servant, because it was through his actions alone that enabled the incident to take place? Is it the social norms of the country at the moment, because all individuals will ultimately learn from their surroundings? Or is it the system of government in place at the time which will set precedent for said social norms. And if not set an example they at least will decide what is the proper way to act on a country wide basis. I think that based on the way the Saudi media is reacting to the video and the story overall the government should not hold too much of the blame, but personally I think that they are not doing enough to change the general mindset of their people to think that treating other individuals in this way is in anyway ok. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think that social norms in Middle Eastern countries emphasize the feelings of other individuals, it seems as if it’s something learned personally, but if one is raised in a closed environment, the sense of empathy that would be gained through social interaction is lost by growing up in a privileged environment. Finally as far as the action of the individual go, I don’t think that it’s possible to figure out what’s going on in someone’s head at any given time, however I think that I can draw two reasonable conclusions about the individual’s behavior. Either he didn’t fully understand what he was doing by physically punishing his servant on impulse. Or he knew exactly what he was doing and decided to inflict pain to correct the actions of his servant.

Syrian Refugees Find Problems

Syria has been a country of unrest for a long time. Many people in Syria have to run away or risk death, and so they try to flee to other countries. However, these refugees are being turned down wherever they go. Neighboring countries, such as Jordan, have been increasing security and making it harder for refugees to enter their country. Even worse, some of these refugees are forcibly deported back into Syria.
While there is a significant strain on food and water due to the massive influx of people, it is unacceptable to force the refugees back into the country that they tried so hard to escape from. Syria is currently in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the last decade. It is understandable that the Jordan and other neighboring countries want to decrease their population in order to better conserve their resources, but throwing them back into danger is simply deplorable. Instead these countries should find someway to accommodate them even with minimal resources, or if possible send them to other countries that can accommodate them.
However, even for those lucky few that are able to stay in refugee camps, they are still not safe. There is not enough food or water, and many children cannot go to school because they need to work. This is all because of the bigger problem still left in Syria. Even though these camps are in poor condition, and the countries are in the wrong for deporting the victims, it is all just masking the bigger problem in Syria. There needs to be more help in Syria before any of the problems with the refugees can ever be solved.

Drones take Innocent Lives

Although in past years top officials in Pakistan’s government have denied knowledge of the CIA’s drone campaign, they have “routinely received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts.” Maps and documents, prepared by the CIA, that were shared with Pakistan’s government record the success of strikes that killed alleged al-Qaeda operatives. Apparently, drones strikes were “talking points” for CIA meetings and became routinely discussed. Although now Pakistan’s government is unified against drone attacks, it remains unclear as to how they will halt as they are a major part of Obama’s antiterrorism campaign. I think most people already knew that the government of Pakistan was in on the drone strikes, but these official documents solidify this rumor.

This drone campaign has killed 3000 people, including hundreds of civilians. Although the CIA has killed dozens of alleged al-Qaeda officials, they later shifted to also targeting “lo-level fighters.” Attacks on these people were approved based on “suspicious activity,” despite the identity of those killed being unknown. The CIA continues to claim the civilian death count is zero but according to The Guardian, 67 civilians have been killed by drones since 2008. Unfortunately, I think many people already knew that civilians were being killed, despite the CIA’s denial.

Some may claim that the number of innocent deaths is very low compared to deaths of insurgents but that does make it okay? Reading this heartbreaking story of an individual who lost her mother to a drone strike brought tears to my eyes. Why was her mother targeted? Was she not a human as well? Humans everywhere are equal. If the situation had been reversed, and even one civilian had been killed in the US, that one death would be taken very seriously, the family would be cared for, and action would be taken to stop attacks that killed innocents. 

It is unfortunate that the Pakistani government knew about drone strikes and did nothing to protect their civilians. It is even more unfortunate that the US has not taken action to protect civilians from drone strikes. Despite their knowledge of some innocent people dying, they did not think it important enough to address. Reading this article, which starts off with "Just 67 civilians were killed..." Just? 67 is more than zero and it should not be taken lightly. Humans are humans no matter where they are from and the fact the US has not taken action to prevent these innocent deaths disgusts me. 

Human Rights Abuses in Russia

This article is about the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia, and how the torch relay preceding the games will draw attention to the human rights abuses in the country's history. The article also talks about the recent restrictions on LGBT members of the community. Recently, I read another article talking about how Vladimir Putin was restricting the rights of athletes at the Olympic Games based on sexual orientation.

If we were to think about the human rights violations on the people before the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany, there are some comparisons. The International Olympic Committee did not pay attention to Hitler's anti-Semitist campaign during that time. Hindsight may be 20/20, but the whole point of studying human rights violations in history is to make sure they do not repeat again.

This makes me think of the human violations I've heard concerning the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. There are many renovations happening to hold the event in stadiums around the country, and the people are complaining about the allocation of money. There is a lot of money spent on preparations for the World Cup while it could be used to handle some of the everyday concerns of the people.

In a way, when you spotlight one country for a positive reason such as the Olympic Games or the World Cup, you are bound to see the negative of the policies of the respective countries. You can think about how the media exploits the lives of celebrities. Maybe their lives are no more messed up than the lives of ordinary people's, but you see the negative aspects a lot more because it's in the media. In a way, it is good that we have these worldwide events to focus attention on particular discrepancies in countries because otherwise, we might not hear about it as much.

Israel Agrees to U.N. Human Rights Review

October 28, 2013
By Nick Cumming Bruce

Perhaps there is yet hope... not for the human race but for the international system that structurally incentives certain actions which in this case includes Israel submitting to a human rights review. The fact that diplomatic pressure has caused Israel to submit is very encouraging because it suggests that collectively we can create the conditions for good behavior even if individually we are only acting in our own self interest. It also brings hope to liberal theorists of international politics because it suggests that multinational institutions like the united nations can settle the anarchic nature of our international system and truly act as a policing force. The often say that the international system is self-help so if you are powerful you can do what you want and if you are weak you suffer what you must. However, in this case, at least in part, we see hope that there is an egalitarian force at work. If the United Nations is able to conduct this review and act on it we see the potential for other powerful countries to be subject to the international laws they have so long evaded.

A Time For Change

In American culture, it is often seen that women are similarly equal to men and have very similar human rights. Although there is not an exact equality between men and women, it seems that there is a progression to create more equality in the areas where rights are not equal; however, this is not the case in some Middle Eastern nations. In Saudi Arabia, Tariq al-Mubarak, a male journalist, is currently in prison after expressing his optimism and hopes that women will be able to drive themselves and get closer to having equal rights in an article called “The Woman in the Gulf…Time for Change.” After the article was published and spread, women planned to drive on streets around the country as a way of protesting on October 26; however, this caused the women to be stopped by police and to acquire fines for their actions.

            Personally, I believe that Saudi Arabia is placing these restrictions too heavily on the women and men that want to push for a revolution of rights. From my American upbringing, I have learned that women have many of the same abilities as men and that these women should be able to act on and engage in these equal rights. Here, women are often the providers for families and take a large portion of the action in the home. Although men are seen as the ones with more power in Saudi Arabia, I believe that the women should be more equal. I find this lack of rights to be morally and ethically askew; however, I cannot say that my beliefs are right and that theirs are wrong because that would be an appeal to cultural and moral relativism. Although I understand that their rights are culturally opposing to ours in a system where males have traditionally had dominance for thousands of years, I, like Tariq al-Mubarak, believe that it is time for a change and that these women should have the right to drive, as well as many other rights that they are lacking.

Pakistani Civilian Lives Ended by US Drone Strikes

Reports have been released recently by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch claiming innocent civilians in Pakistan are being killed by US drone strikes.

In October 2012, Mamana Bibi, a 68 year old grandmother, was indeed one of those victims according to her grandchildren. The children recalled how they witnessed her death in front of their eyes while she was picking vegetables from the garden. The US has yet to acknowledge any part in the matter.

A similar case in July 2012 occurred where a series of US drone strikes killed 18 laborers including one boy. Bystanders immediately came to help the wounded in what was a horrific and gruesome scene, while US drones still hovered overhead.

Obama defended the use of drones, by saying that the unmanned airplanes would only be used if there was an "imminent threat," and when they was "near certainty" that civilians would not be hurt and "no other governments capable of effectively addressing the threat," CNN reported...... Yeah, Mamana's cucumbers might have been weapons of mass destruction. Good job taking care of that. 

Between 400 and 900 civilians have been killed with many more injured according to NGO and the Pakistan government. Can you imagine walking around your village, with a drone hovering above you, not knowing if the US may decide to consider you a "terrorist" or a "security threat" and your life ending at any instant?

 I can safely declare one thing: If the roles were somehow reversed, and Pakistan was sending its own drones into the US, with civilian casualties in the same range, there would be chaos. It would be utterly unacceptable and there would be dire consequences. So how does the US continue to be alright with "defending" against terrorism at the expense of innocent civilians losing their lives? Is that not a terrorist act in itself? Why is there seemingly no care for Pakistani lives lost? Are Pakistani lives worth less than American lives to the US government? Is that not a violation of "all men are created equal"?