Sunday, March 31, 2013

Further Violence in Darfur

While the conflict in Darfur has undoubtedly decreased in recent years, it appears that violence in the region is unfortunately on the rise once more. So far this year, government forces, namely the Border Guards, have displaced nearly 100,000 people and killed at least 500. The militants have been identified BY NAME and have been shown to be affiliated with the Sudanese Army or the Border Guards. Still, however, there is no justice for the victims of these horrible actions. Unless the militants are killed by villagers defending themselves, they get away without any repercussions. Multiple organizations, including Amnesty International, have called on Sudan to put the accused (once again, they have actual names of soldiers involved in the attacks) on trial. Sudan, however, has not responded to any of the pleas. The army soldiers appear to be conscripting ordinary men into makeshift militias to help with the attacks on citizens. They are being armed with heavy, military-issued weapons such as RPG's and heavy machine guns. The villagers only have small arms to defend themselves from the hordes of genocidists. It is unbelievable that, in 2013, genocide is still taking place and even more unbelievable that no one has stepped in to stop it. Of course, human rights groups have spoken up in support of the Darfur region, but no authority figure has heeded their warnings. If the conflict in Darfur is going to stop, the countries bordering the region need to intervene to save thousands of innocent lives. Until that happens, the killings will continue and violence will escalate to even more disturbing levels.

The article can be found here.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saudi Arabia Skype Ban

In a recent move Saudi Arabia has threatened to ban Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp due to their strong encryption. Saudi Arabia's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) wants the developers of the applications to provide a means for monitoring communications or they have threatened to block access in their country. A similar issue happened in 2010 when the CITC banned BlackBerry services due to the company's use of encryption. Saudi human rights groups are already protesting the proposed ban saying it violates the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Personally I agree that this is a worrisome move by the Saudi government. Services like Skype were utilized in the Arab Spring to organize resistance movements. If the Saudi government seeks to monitor communications or to ban them, it may be because they have similar fears. The official reason the government says it doesn't want encrypted communications is it makes it harder to combat terrorism. This draws parallels to the Patriot Act of 2002 which also increased government monitoring in the name of security and fighting terrorism. While different circumstances led to the rise of each piece of legislation, both I believe are intruding onto human rights.

Mali: Soldiers Torture Detainees in Léré

Here is the link for the topic:

Middle Africa is like a vortex where religion, political parties and military groups twisted together. A lot of issues that violated human rights have happened in this area. Malian soldiers tortured seven suspected supporters of Islamist armed groups in Léré, near Timbuktu. As described by the victim, soldiers attacked them when they went from nearby villages to sell their cows. All happened because they are muslins. After the torture and other ill-treatment of the men caused lasting injuries, One man went blind in one eye after being clubbed in the face with a gun butt, while another had gone partially deaf after being kicked repeatedly in the head. It is so astonish that innocent people have to face such threat everyday. They have to live under fear. I think, no matter what kind of religion they have, the bottom line is that they are humans. They have right to live and they should have freedom for their belief. It’s ridicules that their rights are violated in this way. One the other hand, the government should make more effort to protect their citizen. How can people support a government that couldn’t even be able to protect their own people? It’s basic responsibility for government to keep their citizen safe despite their religion. In addition, soldiers are protectors for citizen and homeland. They are not weapons to sweep out minority group with different belief. People despite of what they think and belief should be respected. At least, their safety of life should never be violence. The reason that soldiers torture these innocent people is because the connivance from government. Only when government treats the safety of citizen seriously, punishes those tortured innocent people illegally and puts more efforts to spread ideas of human rights and equality, the massive situation may development in positive way.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Doctor kills terminally ill patients

These patients had a right to live the remainder of their lives. Some of them may have had 3 more months to live, but any given patient could be hit by a drunk driver on their way home from the hospital, and in effect only would have had some few minutes left to live. Throwing these people away and counting for nothing not only their remaining time to live, but also the time they had lived and the experiences and advice they could have shared is appalling.

If it was truly only to make the hospital run more smoothly by freeing up beds, it is unimaginable why this doctor was granted bail at all. She may very well be guilty for the murders of 300 patients under her care.

The fact that this activity has potentially gone on for some time and that numerous other doctors may have been involved is terrifying. In any given case, not a single doctor stepped forward until recently? How was she able to get away with this without any other employees or even patients noticing? It's a baffling occurrence and I'm curious to see the outcome of the trial.

Brazil: UN experts voice concern over deprivation of liberty for detainees

     A UN  human rights panel's visit to Brazil has raised some concerns as to what is called an "excessive use" of policies leading to the deprivation of liberty as well as a lack of effective legal assistance to people got caught or detained in Brazil. The deprivation of liberty was seen throughout the country including prisons, police stations, and detention centers for migrants. There were serious offenses done in these institutions, violating the international human rights standards. Furthermore, majority of these institutions are penury and generally cannot afford effective legal assistance. For instance, few states do not even have legal defenders placed. And also, even in states that have one, the detainees had to wait for more than a few months to be able to see a public defender. For some worst cases, people had waited more than a few years before they could get a trial and find out what charges were against them. I personally think this is seriously problematic. They should really provide a rigorous protection for the rights of the arrested and detainees to a fair trial. If you think about how hard it would be living under a lengthy pre-trial detention, there must be some measures to bring a facilitated and effective legal assistance to anyone in the country. I believe everyone should be equal before the law.   

A Not so Typical Radio Channel

This is perhaps the most astounding piece of community unity that I have seen out there, and I've seen quite a bit of the world for someone my age. Guatemala is not the most advanced country in the world, but this particular community shows some ideals that were once strongly fought for in developed countries, namely the education of children and women. I believe that this world cannot progress without a generally educated population and such a radio station is the prime example of people having this same vision.

It is sad to think that the government would actually prefer to carry out the laws that inhibit such progressive institutions than to analyze the situation and realize that there may be something wrong with the established radio system. If only other areas of the world could achieve this much, I believe that populations would be more intelligent which in turn leads to greater degrees of development as people seek more knowledge and greater opportunity.

Although it may not be easy to teach tens or hundreds of people how to read a particular language, this radio station demonstrates an attractive alternative: transmitting news to the population in a way that they can understand and without bias so as to have the people develop their own moral choices over the situations around the world, but perhaps more importantly, in their country.

The amount of support that Radio Sembrador has reached shows that people wish to be educated and that it is important to the population, but oftentimes the act of teaching needs to be taken up by local hands rather than more distant hands (as in the government) because there cannot be one established form of education for everyone as different regions have different subcultures.

I personally would like to see more of this form of motivation and initiative from other places in the world. I try to do my own part to educate the world by participating in tutoring programs and always offering my services to friends, but imagine the progress in the world if we reached out to at least one other person to help them become more of a world citizen. 

Torture of Malian detainees

Link to article: The article I read is about the torture of detainees by soldiers in the Malian army. This torture is different from many other instances of torture because it was not requested or suggested by the state, and because there was little to no interrogation going on, as the detainees were farmers, not militants. The troops were sent as part of an offensive to realm part of Mali from Islamist militants, and they captured the fares on their way back from a market. They were clearly not soldiers, so they were taken only because they were Islamic. They were tortured brutally for over a month. I think that this instance of yorture is especially heinous because it was clearly only done out of hatred for the prisoners' religious affiliation, not because they were soldiers or because they were believed to have critical information. Even worse, the Malian government has not reacted we'll to these allegations. Upon hearing about the terrible human rights violations which occurred without authorization from the Malian government, they should have immediately taken action, launching an investigation and punishing those responsible for these crimes. However, they have done almost nothing to address the problem. By standing by and allowing its soldiers to torture innocent victims, they are part of the problem. If other Malian soldiers see the lack of accountability after this incident, many more violations like these may start to occur. I think that the international community should step in and pressure the Malian government to take action. Any less would make us a secondary accomplice to atrocities like these.

Indonesian Executions

            Mr. Adami Wilson was executed on March 14th for a drug-related offense in Indonesia. The United Nations is taking action to urge the Indonesian government to only use the death penalty how it is described in international law. The UN describes the death penalty as only to be used to punish someone for intentional killing. I personally think being executed for a drug related offense is ridiculous and serves as a warning that many more Indonesians may begin to be executed for trivial offenses such as this. Over one hundred and thirty people are believed to be on death row right now in Indonesia, and over half have also been convicted for drug related offenses. This hit home for me because I have friends who could be on death row if the United States took the death penalty as lightly as Indonesia does. If they don’t take the United Nations advice and begin to take a human’s life more seriously these executions could increase, and maybe they will also begin to execute people for more trivial offenses such as stealing.  Even prisoners have the right to life unless they have done something horrible that warrants the taking of that right. The United Nations is hoping that the government will consider a moratorium on executions. It is news such as this that makes me wish that the United Nations had more power over these situations, and instead of just trying to convince Indonesia they could actually force them to comply to international law. 

Turkey: Time to remove the shackles on freedom

Turkey: Time to remove the shackles on freedom

URL of the site:

"The right to freedom of expression is under attack in Turkey. Hundreds of abusive prosecutions are brought against activists, journalists, writers and lawyers. It is one of Turkey’s most entrenched human rights problems." was said by John Dalhuisen, Director of Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International. In Turkey, recent years have seen increasingly arbitrary use of anti-terrorism laws to prosecute legitimate activities including political speeches, critical writing, attendance of demonstrations and association with recognised political groups and organizations - in violation of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
 Investigative journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, are currently being prosecuted on charges of supporting the activities of Ergenekon, an alleged criminal network engaged in a plot to violently overthrow the government for “knowingly and willingly supporting a terrorist organization”. The evidence against Ahmet Şık is based largely on his book “The imam’s army”, which alleges the existence of a network within state institutions and civil society made up of followers of the Turkish Islamic scholar in exile, Fetullah Gülen, a supporter of the Justice and Development party (AKP) government. The evidence against Nedim Şener consists of no more than written works and tapped telephone conversations with defendants in the Ergenekon case about matters not related to any crimes.
 After the world have experienced two world wars, people started to seek for peace. The world they wish to have, consist of no slaveries, hatreds, discriminations. Based on the Human Rights, all people should have freedoms in all aspects. To seize this freedom, people in all countries fought vigorouly within their countries until now. The article talks about the situation in Turkey, where the governemnt has taken away the freedoms of the people to express their opinions. All sorts of practices that violates the international human rights law, will be frequent in Turkey.
 Although many countries in the world, did succeed to retain the peace they acquired, still in many places, people suffer by their rights taken away. For the good of all people in the world, we should pay attention to those who suffer.

Can Congo benefit from mistakes leading to Rwanda?

The UN Security Council has authorized an ‘Intervention Brigade’ as the Council granted mandate renewal for United Nations Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo. The Resolution 2098, enables ‘Offensive Combat Force To Neutralize and Disarm Congolese Rebels, Foreign Armed Groups’. This is an important moment in the history of UN and the Security Council as the resolution approves the creation of the Security Council’s first-ever “offensive” combat force. Eastern Congo is experiencing renewed fighting as recently there have been clashes between the army and rebels of the “Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo” (APCLS). The resolution condemned the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) “and all other armed groups and their continuing violence and abuses of human right”. Having learnt and extensively discussed the Rwanda genocide incident in the class, one cannot help but draw parallels between Congo and Rwanda. Also one cannot help but question whether this resolution was passed with the great Rwandan genocide in the mind of all the delegates in the Security Council. The fact that this is the first such combat force approved by the UN Security Council speaks volume of the impact that the Rwandan genocide had. Also the UN does not want to make the same mistake of undermining the volatility of the situation in this region. The developments regarding this issue in the Democratic Republic of Congo are extremely important especially as a reference to see how much importance is being accorded to human rights and their violations and to see what actions will be taken by the leaders of the world to prevent another Rwanda from happening.

Malian Soldiers Torture Detainees in Léré

In the city of Léré, Mali, seven men were detained by soldiers as suspected supporters for armed Islamic extremist groups. The men claimed that they were not even interrogated. They were just tortured and had death threats yelled at them before being transferred to another location where they received medical treatment for their injuries. Types of torture experienced by the victims include repeated beating, waterboarding, and being injected with a caustic substance that could cause lasting damage the victims. One victim is reported to have gone blind in one eye while another has gone deaf.

Since January 2012, Mali has been in a state of rebellion with the Islamic northern part of the country staging a coup. The Tuareg, Arab, and Peuhl ethnic groups make up a majority of the rebellious faction. Multiple cases of torture by Malian soldiers against these ethnic groups have been reported in the northern part of the country.

The French have already sent and intervention force but the UN may take further measures. The victims of the torture claimed they thought they would be safe to travel to the market because of the presence of the French soldiers, but they were still detained and tortured by Malian soldiers. The Malian army is using their more advanced technological resources to take advantage of the poorer parts of the nation to attack minority groups. There is not proof that any of the victims are associated with any rebel groups. Even then, it is unacceptable to torture anyone for any reason. I believe that if the UN ends up intervening in the northern Mali conflict, they also need to investigate the current government of Mali and their military to prevent further human rights violations from taking place.

Mobile Technology for Human Welfare


The economies of developing nations are structured such that there are a lot of poor families who can barely afford the basic amenities required in life. To make their living, they need to start a business. Any business requires initial investment of money which these people do not have. Also, they do not have access to loans from banks and as such are caught in a vicious cycle of poverty. The economic principles of microfinance and microcredit have turned out to be a boon for these people. The principle of microfinance entails providing small cash loans to people in rural areas of developing nations to start a business with no or very little interest rate. Although this has turned out to be a great success, the principle did not penetrate the market as much as it was expected to. The social entrepreneurs turned to technology to address this issue, specifically mobile technology as explained below with Africa's example.

Africa has experienced an unbelievable explosion in mobile phone use over the past decade. In 1998, there were fewer than four million mobiles on the continent. Today, there are more than 500 million. In Uganda alone, 10 million people, or about 30% of the population, own a mobile phone, and that number is growing rapidly every year. The mobile devices are a way of life for the African people. The most dramatic example of this is mobile banking. Four years ago, in neighbouring Kenya, the mobile network Safaricom introduced a service called M-Pesa which allows users to store money on their mobiles. If one wants to pay a utilities bill or send money to a friend, one simply dispatches the amount by text and the recipient converts it into cash at their local M-Pesa office. It is cheap, easy to use and, for millions of Africans unable to access a bank account or afford the hefty charges of using one, nothing short of revolutionary. And the people deploying microfinance have utilized this simple technology to help millions of people earn their way out of poverty.

The use of mobile technology in Africa for solving century old problems is a refreshing advertisement for technology and its hand in human welfare.

Somalia: Protect Displaced People at Risk

Human Rights Watch said that members of state security forces and armed groups have raped, beaten, and otherwise abused displaced Somalis who ran away from famine and armed conflict. Protection and securit for those displaced population is needed from Somali government.Cases of serious violations, including physical attacks, restrictions on movement and access to food and shelter, and clan-based discrimination against the displaced in Mogadishu is briefly described in the report(“Hostages of the Gatekeepers”).

People who came to find safety from famine faced new conflicts of hostility and abuse. Rape and sexual abuse of displaced women and girls, including by government soldiers and militia members, has been an enormous problem in the unprotected environment of the camps.  Many victims of sexual violence don’t report their experiences to the authorities because they fear reprisals from their attackers. Gatekeepers and militias controlling the camps have also diverted and stolen food aid intended for famine-stricken camp residents. Gatekeepers sometimes have kept camp residents from leaving to attract greater humanitarian assistance, which the gatekeepers would then siphon off for their own benefit. The communities from the regions most affected by the famine have been particularly vulnerable to abuses.

The new government should turn the page on the transitional government’s failures and provide accountable protection to the displaced, who are among Somalia’s most vulnerable citizen. The new Somali government announced plans to relocate the capital’s tens of thousands of displaced people in 2013. The government should ensure that relocations are voluntary, that they are conducted safely and with dignity, and that competent police forces can provide security at the relocation sites. The government’s stated aim of completing relocation of displaced people despite the tremendous challenges of providing assistance and protection at the new resettlement sites. They should be careful that not to put the displaced at greater risk of abuse and neglect.

Finally: Venezuela's chance for a change

Shock invaded Venezuelans as their beloved president Hugo Chavez passed away a couple of weeks ago. People grieved after him and for two weeks, almost everything in the country was closed. While most of the country was very sad, some of my venezuelan friends were actually celebrating his death. It's ironic how people celebrate such a tragedy, but then again Chavez made life very hard for his people, even though his supposed intentions were to help the poor, he ended up only helping himself.
With Chavez gone, the country has the chance for a change, if the majority chooses to vote for Capriles, one of the current candidates for presidency. The other option is to stay just where they are by choosing the current President of Venezuela, Maduro, as the new president. Yes, he is the president even though he is running for election. I'm not sure about how this kinds of things work in America, but I know for sure that in the Venezuelan Constitution it says that the candidates for presidency are NOT supposed to BE presidents at the same time. Maduro, maintaining Chavez's tricks, just chose to do what he wanted to do. If the Constitution is not important for Maduro even before his actual term begins, what is there to be expected of his future important decisions regarding his country? Are the people going to realize that they have the chance to be one of the most powerful countries in the world? Instead they have to wait for months to find milk and bread in grocery stores. I guess we can just hope for the best.

North Korea Seeks Response

Jack Zimmermann
Blog 3
29 March 2013

North Korea Seeks to Respond

This article appears quite frightening at first. North Korea readying its cache of rockets and missiles to target military bases and mainland America? That right there is a scary thought. But with further reading it became clear that even if North Korea were to keep on their current flow of thought and continue seeking to attack our country, they are ill-prepared to send missiles to our mainland. This entire situation, in my opinion, is a drastic over-reaction to the US flying bombers over South Korea. The United States made no direct threat towards North Korea nor did it encroach on the border of the country in any way. With North Korea seeking to bring about a more peaceful and prolonged relationship with America, I believe that the readying of all their missiles will end up being simply an attention grabber. With North Korea claiming that they are preparing to launch a hefty attack on our military bases and country, I would think our government must now hear what they have to say and try to negotiate some sort of relationship with the country instead of risk North Korea following through with these threats. America is left in a pickle with this situation: they face the decision of whether or not it is our responsibility to enter the country and try to force a regime change and implant a different government. If not, barring action from China, my guess is that the two governments will begin speaking further concerning peace talks. I would think if our government is willing to talk, things would be much more successful then it was with Dennis Rodman. The radicals in North Korea seeking “destruction of Washington” are mostly likely overzealous and neither the majority voice nor a large contributor to the decision making in North Korea. This small conflict will hopefully blow over swiftly and leave the two countries in a better situation than they were before.

Human Rights Violations lead to Hunger Strike

Six men in Iran have been imprisoned for a crime that they did not commit.  Five of the six men have been given death sentences, while the other received 20 years in prison.  They were forced into a confession, which their families believe was a lie.  During their time in prison, they have been tortured brutally, and have not had any access to a physician, leading to some serious illnesses and physical problems.  Because of this torture as well as the receiving of the death sentence, all six men have decided to go on a hunger strike in order to be noticed by human rights activists and other people who can possibly aid in their situation.  Personally, I think that their plan is working. The article that I read has been getting out to the world, although the Supreme Court did review their sentences and decided to uphold the death sentences for the five out of six men.  I do not exactly understand the hunger strike, as it seems to me that they are simply making it worse for themselves in prison, as they are only drinking water and milk, and not eating any food.  The conditions in this prison in Iran must be incredibly bad for the men to go to such great lengths to be noticed.  Many of them have developed diseases, which must be getting worse with their severe hunger.  Although these men have been found guilty of multiple crimes, they have gone to great lengths in order to attempt to have their sentences lifted, and the case deserves to be reopened under normal circumstances without the threat of torture if they do not confess to a crime that they did not commit.

Does" Human Rights" a word found in a Dictionary in North Korea?

North Korea is known for notorious human rights issue violation and hostile environment against their own citizens to keep their communist ideology and the dictatorship for decades. People suffer starvation, lack of freedom and people are always under a "neighbor watch" which eliminates their privacy and the sense of community. 

This article talks about what is going on with their prison camps in North Korea. It is not so surprising that such inhumane torture is still going on in North Korea. A lot of South Korean military hostage from the Korean War suffered in those labor prisoner camps until their death. These types of human rights problem existed from decades ago. The worst part of the problem is that almost nobody has a direct influence that can resolve such issues.

North Korea has always been under human rights watch but nothing effective was done to resolve the problem. This is potentially the bigger problem than the human rights violation that is happening in North Korea currently. The rest of the world does not have the tools to help the people in stubborn state of North Korea. 

In my opinion, this is going to become more serious problem since N.K. is getting cut off from the rest of the world more and more as they develops nuclear weapons and continue to contest against South Korea and United States. U.N signed a sanction that is going to significantly reduce the ability of North Korea from trading with the outside world to attack their economy but that is just causing North Korea to be more isolated. 

Resolving the human rights issue in North Korea is a very urgent task. People are dying every minute due to torture, starvation and execution for their ideology. We do not hear every details of what happens in North Korea but we know that there is more than what we read about. I hope there comes a day when North Korea people can enjoy the same human rights signed in Universal Declaration of Human Rights

It's Not You, It's Me

It's Not You, It's Me

Link to the article:

The last week or so, there has been a lot of talk about gay marriage and equality with the court ruling coming up. This article talks about how straight people and their relationships are affected by gay people and their relationships. Basically it goes on to say that the reason gay marriage shouldn't be okay is because it will cause straight marriages to lose meaning and spouses will "start ignoring their children, cheating on one another and getting divorced." 

In my opinion, this is a load of bologna. Growing up in Seattle, WA I'm used to a very large gay community and I can say for a fact that what they do or what they believe in has no effect on my views. Whether you agree with it or not, it shouldn't have an effect on your life and relationships. People who use this argument seem like they are just projecting their relationship problems onto the gay community. Obviously this is not of the same magnitude, but projecting ones problems is part of the reason for anti-semitism and the beginning of the holocaust.

My opinion on this article was not meant to be for or against gay marriage but to point out an interesting way our society views certain rights. We don't give reasons as to why the actual right is bad but how it affects us. I think this is something that clouds our understanding of the rights themselves and the affect on the people it regards. It is a very selfish way of viewing human rights and it is a problem that has plagued our culture for decades.

What is happening in Somalia?

Somalia is a very dangerous place these days. Not only are citizens being raped and beaten, but members of the state security forces. The government is not doing what they need to do to protect all of the people in Somalia.  The main thing that needs to be improved is the overall protection of everybody located in Somalia.  There are reported physical attacks and other information in other articles that are very disturbing to read about.  It is hard to imagine that people are actually going through all of this across the world.  Most of this is happening all around the world, we are just not aware of it.  Instead of finding non-violent negotiation methods, all the Somalis are joining into the violent ways.  This will not accomplish anything in the future.  All this is teaching people is to solve problems violently ad then nothing will ever get solved.  The government is not helping with this situation, because the government believes that violence is the way to go and everything will get solved that way.  If protection is focused on becoming relevant in Somalia then all the other small things will quickly start to vanish.   This will help the future of not only the people of Somalia, but end up effecting many more people in the world before they even know it.