Saturday, July 12, 2014

Russia: The Anti-Activist State

On February 20th, 2014, Ruslan Kutaev, head of the Peoples of the Caucasus’ Assembly, was arrested and charged with having “a large amount of heroine” on his person upon arrest. This arrest came two days after Kutaev publicly criticized an order handed down by Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. This order was one that prohibited memorial events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the expulsion of one of the Russian peoples known as the Chechens. The Chechens were deported en masse to Central Asia on February 23, 1944 during the reign of Stalin. Kutaev was upset because the order reflected a lack of commitment on the part of the authorities to safeguarding historical memory. 2 days after making that statement, Kutaev was arrested.
            Kutaev knew right away that his comments had angered those in power. The very next morning after Kutaev had delivered his statement, Kutaev received a call from the head of Kadyrov’s administration saying that Kadyrov was upset with Kutaev’s comments and wished to speak with him. Afraid for his life, immediately after the call Kutaev left his home for the village of Gekhi, where his relatives live. Kutaev was arrested the next day at 2 p.m. by around 30 law enforcement or security officials. Witnesses have said that upon hearing the noise of the approaching officials, Kutaev stepped outside of his home and was instantly put in a car by officials and was driven away. Kutaev was placed in custody 11 hours after being arrested with bruises covering his body.
            Kutaev’s improper arrest and treatment by law enforcement shows the risks that are taken when one speaks out against government orders. Kutaev was framed and beaten for simply disagreeing with an order made by the government of the region of Chechnya. When Kutaev was allowed to speak with his lawyer privately, he wrote notes to his lawyer claiming that “on the day of his arrest unidentified personnel beat him, subjected him to electric shocks, and threatened harm to his family members to force Kutaev to confess to drug possession with intent to sell.” Kutaev was obviously strong-armed into confessing to a crime that was forced on him by the local government. This appalling treatment of political dissent shows that Russia still has a great deal of progress to make in the area of political abuses of power.

Will Walter


Friday, July 11, 2014

Electronic Information Rights

The definition of privacy is forever changing in the United States. The right to privacy is protected by the fourth amendment, but as today’s era of social media and data storage comes into bloom, there is significant debate over what is private and what is not. The Bill of rights was added to the constitution over 200 years ago, and has done a very good job so far of protecting the citizens of the United States. This clause was added to the constitution to guarantee the citizens of the United States some basic human rights. The Supreme Court recently took a case on whether or not a search warrant was necessary or not in order for police officers to search through a smart phone. The article can be found here. Before the Supreme Court ruled in favor of this new rule, smart phones were considered a piece of evidence found on a suspect, like a piece of paper with a note or legal documents. The new ruling makes it necessary for the police to obtain a warrant before searching through a phone. This is to help prevent self-incrimination.
 I personally believe that this is a step in the right direction. The right to privacy is one of the most basic of the human rights, and it is also one of the most violated here in the United States. Over the last several months it has come to light how much The United States Government invades and collects information about our daily lives. This new law explicitly forbids the government for what should have been implied. This new law also highlights both the greatest strength and weakness of the Bill of Rights. They are extremely vague. Our founding fathers wrote them so that they could continue to make sense with modern times, but sometimes they are helplessly trivialized by the rapid expansion of technology. As a result, many questionable court cases have arisen about what exactly is protected under the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court continues to settle these controversies as they arise, but in order to completely protect the American people, there must be some Major legal reform.
As the world moves into the Information age, one of the most import human rights that can be protected is the privacy of information. Whether it is a Cell Phone or a form of social media, the world around us is evolving at a rapid rate. In order to protect electronic Privacy, a new system is needed to protect the American people. Our best hope is that whatever this new law may be, it has just as much of a profound and lasting impact on the United States as the Original Bill of Rights had during the birth of this grand country.

3D Printing: Good or Bad?

Technology advances exponentially every day as more and more bright thinkers innovate our tomorrow, but will this hurt our fundamental values in the long run? Will technology eventually go beyond what is human and right? Has it already? At this point, no one really knows, or really, no one can agree. Whether or not we think technology has gone too far, we all know that it definitely has the capability to.
3D printing has been a hot topic in the science field for being extremely cheap to make durable parts. Although it is still quite expensive (decent ones in the low thousands), 3D printers have become more and more accessible to the common household and are expected to be sold in department stores in the near future. There’s even a makeup printer on its way to the shelves:

Now, fuchsia blush isn’t going to take away your human rights, but think of all the possible things that could. Right now people are investing in a 3D printed small and compact drone that can fly to remote areas, deliver packages, or even conduct search rescues all for a relatively inexpensive price.
A 3-D-printed drone created by engineers from the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
Although there are so many possibilities where this drone can excel and help people, if put in the wrong person’s hands, it could lead to dangerous violations of privacy. Giving regular citizens the power to have 3D printers that could make drones (or anything for that matter) can allow people easy access to invade someone’s home or private territory. Imagine how easy it would be to follow people around or even video record them without them knowing. By making 3D printers easily accessible to the public, we make it ten times easier to let people go too far.

The real question is whether or not the pros outweigh the cons. Even though 3D printing could allow people to make weapons or other harmful materials, they could also make life more convenient and cost-efficient and even save lives. I believe that 3D printing is headed in the right direction, but it needs to be monitored for it can definitely get out of hand. The issue is that this is something markets and governments would have a difficult time keeping under control. Only time will tell what will happen.



Civilians: The New Target

                War. The event that most humans despair, which causes them to awake every night in cold sweat. The event that haunts every generation, because it robs sons from fathers and torments mothers with images of what her child promise if he lived longer. But these parents hide these thoughts behind brave smiles as they wave farewell to their sons as they step through the terminal, ready to defend the cause which they believe in and are willingly to die for.
                At least, though, these brave soldiers accept the probability of their demise when they enrolled into the army. Today, soldiers no longer fight in lonely fields far away from towns similar to battles during the Civil War; instead, they often fight their conflicts in the middle of cities, apartments, home, parks, or any other place swarming with civilian life. The advances in weaponry, from the popular Burnside Carbine in the 1860s, which effectively shot a bullet each minute, to an AK-47, which rapidly shots bullets in seconds, creates permanent damage to unfortunate families in the war zone before the conscience can intervene. Thus, during the twentieth century, a new type of war emerged, one waged on innocent civilians caught helplessly during these armed conflicts.
               In 1900, historians estimated that civilian fatalities ranged around five percent; by the end of WW2, it climbed to sixty five percent. At the recent turn of the century, it escalated to ninety percent during the wars of the 1990s. Since then, almost four million civilians died during these conflicts, like those that persists in Afghanistan. According to a recent UN article, the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during the Afghan conflict were the leading cause of conflict-related death to civilians, escalating twenty four percent from last year statistics. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded that the first half of this year, about 1,564 civilians died, while 3,289 received injuries.  Out of these casualties, 520 were children, a thirty four percent increase since last year. Though death by IEDs remains the second leading cause of death in these regions, the third leading cause of death, suicide bombings, resulted in 583 civilian casualties. Surprisingly, those killed by government forces has been cut down by half, while anti-government attacks nearly doubled in the past couple of years.  
In this image, a minivan holds the bodies of Afghan
citizens, who were killed by American soldiers during
armed conflict.
                The failure of the Afghanistan government to provide any efficient methods of prohibiting this kind of action frustrates me the most. The Taliban claimed its attacks caused 553 civilian casualties, like they are proud for causing these kinds of horrific acts. By the action of both participating forces in armed conflict, they deprive these innocents’ right of live peacefully. But why?  What do armed forces gain for stealing these lives? Perhaps, being frighten out of their minds, soldiers shoot at everything that moves, frighten that if they do not, those that move would kill them. These types of violence that not only dominates this region, but other third world countries with deteriorating governments or approaching a civil war, causes many to live in fear for their lives.  Currently, this terror plagues my extended family in Venezuela, who witnesses these types of violence from the army to the peaceful protesters every day. If the situation becomes worse, they plan to seek refuge in Portugal in order to protect themselves.
                However, most do not have the resource to flee the violence in their country. If they survive the firefights, they head to refugee camps, hoping that the conflict does not follow them there. Then, they spend the rest of their time worrying and praying, just like soldiers’ parents do every night before they go to sleep.

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Israel-Palestine Conflict Intensifies at the Cost of Palestinian Civilian Lives

     The Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization, are engaged once again with the Israeli military in a war of bombings. Israel retaliated when the Hamas killed civilians and began using drones and planes to target over one thousand different suspected Hamas bases. After pinpointing these locations, bombers began attacking these targets. 

     Both sides began using explosives to attack the others, however Israel had a clear advantage. The military used early warning systems and computer guidance systems to evacuate any civilians in danger and destroy missiles midair. The Palestinians did not have access to such technology and paid for it with civilian lives. The Israeli military might have billions of dollars worth of bombing technology, but they cannot accurately control the explosions of their bombs. When they target the Hamas bases in the city, many bombs kill innocent civilians and even miss their primary target. So far, the bombing of Palestine has lead to around eighty to one hundred civilian deaths and approximately fourteen deaths of young children. 

     Israel has been approached and criticized by many human rights organizations in regard to the loss of civilian lives during their bombings. The United Nations human rights officials asked for a cease fire but the Israeli prime minister would not give up until the Hamas threat was quelled. 

I find it repulsive that when an industrial power is engaged in war with a third world country, the civilians suffer. Both America and Israel use “precision” airstrikes and kill many innocent people accidentally. I believe that both these nations could use their vast militaries to find a cheaper solution to eliminate targets without harming the civilians in the area. 

Yet Another Possible Sudanese Civil War


Sudan has undergone constant political turmoil since it's independence in 1956, predominately coups with a few scattered elections. Since the establishment of a government in Sudan, christian rights have been endangered due to Islamic law enacted, while also rights to life and shelter have been ceased due to political turmoil. July 9th, 2011 signified South Sudan's independence, as it seceded from Sudan due to religious differences, although a prominent oil-rich town of Abyei continues to be fought over. Recently, a DMZ buffer zone has been agreed upon by the South Sudanese President and Sudanese Prime Minister. However, the recent December conflict erupted after the vice president Marchar was removed from office, and supporters of both the ex-vice and current president clashed. The Ugandan military was eventually called in to help, and a ceasefire was instated January 1st of this year, yet violence continues.

Call to Attention

In an article off the Oxfam America website, actress Kiera Knightly speaks about the terrible conditions she saw in South Sudan. Being quite fond of Ms. Knightly, I read the article and was astounded by how much Sudan been devastated- 4 million people in need of food due to loss of harvest, due to the continual showers sweeping Sudan. 4 million people cannot find food due to the loss of their land, unable to prepare for the oncoming season because of military fighting and upheaval. Kiera met with two widowers, whom both have children to attend to, but with their husbands gone, life is unbearable for all South Sudanese families. Their rights to life have become endangered; the article mentions children forced to play by sewage, and malnutrition being the ultimate cause of death. Imagine your children playing in toxic material, while you yourself to feeble to stop them. This is the fate of Sudanese women during this political conflict. Since the conflict broke out, the right to property has also been ceased from Sudanese families.Some 10,000 people have died since the conflict, 400,000 displaced from their homes, fleeing violence between political radicals and Ugandan soldiers. Families struggle to survive as farmers cannot bring in the harvest, displaced by violence and further impeded by seasonal rains. The UN has warned that 50,000 children could die if humanitarian aid does not increase to help Sudanese citizens. This is a major crisis that we all should relate to. We have families and friends who have the right to life and property, eating plentiful in a warm home. Due to this pesky conflict, however, the citizens of Sudan have lost these inherent rights, and lose children every day as a result. The people of South Sudan should not be punished for the selfish acts of radicals whom endanger the lives of so many.

(From OxFam America)
Kiera Knightly, meeting Rebecca, mother of two, and hearing of the
hardships faced by families displaced by the turmoil.


The Fight for Women's Rights Continues

      The women’s rights battle that has been going on for years still continues today. Recently, during a conflict involving the Syrian government and armed forces, women were physically abused and tormented. The sight and thought of women being detained and tortured in Syria is utterly horrible. The worst part is that in Syria’s conflict, women are the ones being severely  punished either by getting injured or losing family members. As the article states “Women are taking on increasing responsibilities – whether by choice or due to circumstance – and they should not have to pay with intimidation, arrest, abuse, or even torture.” They are being penalized for helping out in the whole conflict, which is an absolute infringement of human rights. As noted in the article from the interviews with refugee women, they are being harassed and abused due to participating in nonviolent protests and helping needy Syrians. Along with this torment, the women in Syria are also responsible for upholding discriminatory policies such as restrictions on their dress and movement. This is directing violating several human rights along with the rights of women. Strict and immediate actions must be taken by the international communities to prevent Syrian government and armed forces from committing such violations.

Personally, it was quite disappointing reading about this, because as much as people say women have all the rights, they don’t. Yes, in some countries women have more rights than they did many years ago, but in other countries they are still being discriminated.  Due to the advancement in technology and weapons, more conflicts are occurring and women are being pushed into them without any particular reason. In Syria, women and girls are being abused simply due to the fact that they are helping others or that they are women. Their rights as human beings are taken away.  Freedoms such as freedom to dress in the way a women wants continues to be taken away in Syria and in several other countries.  Many organizations around the world are fighting for women’s rights today; however, some countries still are not taking adequate actions to solve them. I personally believe that women should be given all human rights and be treated equally. Abusing and harassing women is completely inhumane, and has to be stopped before it increases throughout the world.

NSA, the National Spy Agency

Thirteen years ago, on September 11th, there was a horrible terrorist attack on the United States by a Middle Eastern terrorist group called the Al-Qaeda. Today, the after effect of the attack still remains prominent as we wait for the security lines in the airport or have to go through the rigorous process of becoming a United States Citizen. However, there is another after effect that still remains today—the prejudice against American Muslims. Growing up in the United States, I realized I began to take part in this prejudice. Although I had friends that were Middle Eastern, I always thought that terrorists were all Middle Eastern men. Although my views have changed as I matured, this prejudice and racism against American Muslims is still a big problem today.

For years, American Muslims have been under surveillance by the United States government. The sad truth is that often times these American Muslims are only targeted because of the misguided belief that terrorists might be hiding in their midst. This prejudice has been exemplified in airports, jails, and federal investigations. On July 9th, The Intercept reported that the United States Federal Government has been spying on at least five Muslim Americans over four years. They described a spreadsheet containing over 7,000 emails. The Muslim American targets consisted of Hooshang Amirahmadi, a Rutgers University professor who is the president of the American Iranian Council, and Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil-rights organization. The accused Muslims and many others believe that there is no other explanation to the secret investigations other than racism. The acts of the federal government violate the first and fourth amendments in the Bill of Rights. The government is regulating the American Muslim’s freedom of speech as well as their freedom from unreasonable searches.

The main federal department behind the spying is the National Security Agency, or the NSA. Unlike their name, they use modern technology for domestic spying purposes. I don’t believe that this issue only has to do with racism or with American Muslims. The unreasonable searches could happen to anyone anytime without anyone knowing. I believe that the government does not have rights to know our private lives, and therefore is violating our private lives.


Native American Loss of Language

The article I am responding to related to the preservation of North American Native languages. According to the article, up to 55 Native languages disappeared in North America due to decades of racist and discriminatory policies toward the Native people. The author never used the words "human rights," but I assume he would consider these alleged racist and discriminatory policies to be a human rights violation because they imply that our language or culture is superior to the Natives'. I agree that our policies promote our language and culture over the Natives'; we only teach history through a European perspective, and barely teach anything about Native American culture.
   But I disagree with the assertion that the Natives' loss of language is a bad thing or the North American governments encouragement of assimilation is racist or discriminatory. Language is  a barrier and Native American people live in the same nation as the dominant cultures surrounding them. In order for Natives to function in North American societies, they have to learn English or else they will be limited to subsistence farming, horrible manual labor jobs or they can choose to be complacent with the very modest welfare checks North American governments give to Natives. If you do not speak English, you do not even have the skills to be a cashier at McDonald's. It is unfortunate, but it is a reality and because of it North American governments are justified in promoting English to all peoples living under their jurisdictions. The promotion of English and use of it by Natives will, unfortunately for some, cause Native languages to disappear because Natives have less reason to use them.
   However, the assimilation of Native Americans, and resulting loss of language, can be viewed in a very positive light. I gives Natives the opportunity to get an education and well paying jobs which most would appreciate. Universities and employers are more likely to accept and hire Native Americans than other demographics. I believe that collectively North American societies want to see Native Americans succeed.
    English is a must-know in North American societies, and because of this governments encourage Natives to learn it. The collateral in this is that many Native languages are lost and forgotten which upsets some people, but North American governments are still justified in promoting English because it not only gives Native Americans a chance at survival, but it gives them a myriad of opportunities to succeed in their societies.

Ties Between the Muslim Community, the Jewish Community, and the African Slave Trade

Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan

Many students were left shocked and very offended at The University of California, Berkley, after Louis Farrakhan, the Muslim nation leader warned black students to be cautious about befriending Jewish students. Farrakhan's reasoning behind this claim is his belief that "the Jews were behind the black slave trade." After many scholars looked into this claim, and the NOI book that it comes from, it is clear that this book is nothing but pages of lies to exploit and humiliate the Jewish people, which it does a very good job of.
When taking an even closer look at this strange situation, my researchers found that Farrakhan has secret ties with African Blacks slave trade himself, a twist of irony isn't it? In Sudan, Africa's largest country, and Mauritania, another troubled country in Africa, nearly a third of African Muslim's are working as slaves and serving to a master. While the conversion of Black Mauritanians to Islam happened just about one hundred years ago, and as the Koran forbids enslaving fellow Muslims, this is a problem Africa is continues to face. The slavery situation in Sudan is only worsening, and Farrakhan is refusing to admit that he has knowledge about any of it. The American Anti-Slavery Group is working to keep the areas of Sudan and Mauritania covered, helping to liberate thousands of slaves as fast as they can, but the AASG can do very little about Farrakhan and his secret relations with slavery filled countries.
What Americans, including many of the Berkley students were filled with after hearing Farrakhan's claims, was a sense of guilt and serious degradation. Not only did he accuse the Jewish students (or perhaps their ancestors) to be blamed for the African slave trade, but he robbed the African black students of a sense of security and belonging. Farrakhan has infringed upon these students human rights, as well as the hundreds of thousands of enslaved Muslim (and non Muslim) Africans in Sudan and Mauritania. These slaves have no sense of freedom, in regards to freedom of life, religion, or simply the freedom of happiness.
While the American Anti-Slavery Group is working hard to make this knowledge of Farrakhan's secret ties, and stockily high number of enslaved individuals public, there is not much they can do further than their continuous efforts to liberate these slaves in African countries.


Don’t Turn a Blind Eye on Mass Murder

            The ongoing divide in Iraq between the two dominant religious groups, the Sunni and the Shia, has caused countless human rights violations, including the most recent mass murder of Sunni prisoners. Human Rights Watch, a news source that follows human rights violations, stated, “Iraqi security forces and militias affiliated with the government appear to have unlawfully executed at least 255 prisoners in six Iraqi cities and villages since June 9, 2014.” While a staggering 255 deaths is deplorable, there is much more to the story than numbers can tell.
            The heated conflict between the Sunni and Shia has caused many problems thus far. Recently, an uprising rebel group known as ISIS, led by the Sunni, has escalated this problem. Because the majority of military in Iraq is Shia and ISIS is a Sunni group, problems like these are nearly unavoidable; however, we should not turn a blind eye on mass murder. Human Rights Watch reported that at least eight of the 255 deaths were boys under the age of 18. How can a government brutally take away an adolescent child’s life in cold blood? In America, we remain utterly unexposed to controversy leading to large-scale government mass murder. Therefor, it is easy for some to view the controversy in the Middle East as benign. However, all of the people killed still shared the same joy out of their first-born child, the happiness at their daughter’s marriage, and the laughs derived from kicking the ball in the back yard. The 255 people mowed down by their government were people exactly like you and me, except born on the losing team.

            For these reasons, it is obvious how we should react. Although the controversy between Sunni and Shia has existed for hundreds of years, we should not turn our backs on mass murder of people exactly like you and me. It is our duty as humans on this large green and blue planet to uphold our inherent rights.

Media Censorship in Israel

Tensions Continue to rise Between Israel and Gaza

The cease-fire has been broken, and the fighting between Israel and Gaza continues to escalate. There has been recent exchanges of bombings and missile strikes, with reported deaths on  both sides. Unfortunately, Israel launched this week a massive offensive attack on Gaza called Operation Protective Edge. Perhaps even more unfortunately, the people of Israel are aware that the war is going on, but most of them haven't the faintest idea of Israel's role in the occurrences. As far as the people of Israel are concerned, their nation is under attack, unprovoked, from their neighbors, Gaza. Upon further investigation, it is easy to see that this is quite contrary to the truth, but that is not the purpose of this blog post. What is interesting to examine, however, is why the Israeli population is under this impression. 

In Israel, all news articles regarding military activities are censored. As the article states, "this means that authorities have pre-approved every item the public receives." Essentially, it is up to the military authorities what information the public receives about any military action, leaving the authorities the power to make the public believe whatever they are told, regardless of its validity. When reading this article, I was instantly reminded of The Orphan Master's Son and the situation in North Korea. Jun Do is quick to realize the fictionalizations of the North Korean news. It is because of the fictional news that much of the population has completely incorrect opinions about most of the outside world. 

In both of these cases, it seems completely unfair to the public of both nations that the government would censor and/or essentially make up the news. Some of the basic principles outlined by both the UN and the United States Constitution state that, as US citizens, we have the right to the freedom of press. However, this only applies to what we as citizens can put into the newspapers, what we can submit as articles. I think that this freedom should extend to the government, and place restrictions on how much they can censor the media. Not only do I think this should be adopted as legislation in the United States, but also all over the world. How is it fair to the citizens of other nations if all the news they receive is corrupted? Because of this, the citizens themselves become corrupted and their minds become polluted with half-truths and false hopes. How does that seem fair?

The Government’s Overreaction

Are we not allowed to have opinions disagreeing with our government? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has given us the ability to express how we feel about certain subjects. It also states there would be no interference from holding personal ideas, regardless of the media used to express those ideas. The Thai Government is inhibiting critics of the government from speaking out and giving their opinions. The Thai Government is restricting the rights of expression, along with the right of association, and assembly, because they fear another uprising after the attempted coup that occurred on May 22nd of this year. The Thai people are not allowed to speak out or demonstrate ideas denouncing the government. Doing so has led to more than 300 arrests by the Thai military who are supporting the Monarchy.
In May Thanapol Eawsakul was detained for the first time after he was summoned under martial law. He was forced to sign an agreement that he would not give his opinion about the government or be involved in political activities. He was also not allowed to leave the country unless he had permission from the National Council for Peace and Order. His non-compliance with this order would result in a sentenced of two year in prison or fined 40,000 baht, about $1,250. He then made a comment to only explain his situation on Facebook. Later he received a phone call from a military officer wanting to meet and discuss his posting. He was told he would not be arrested before the meeting, but he was. This law is trying to stop another populist uprising and possible coup, but the opposite effect is happening and the people are becoming angry and agitated by the government’s crackdown. The government cannot control the thoughts and opinions held by their citizens. Restricting expressions instead of having open forms of debates increases the chance of another uprising. Is this law trying to prevent change to a society that wants it by suppressing people’s rights or is it arresting and detaining people that committed crimes in the May 22nd coup? A legitimate government complying with the laws and having the support of the people should have no reason to restrict the right of expression. This tyrannical government is likely short lived.

Technology: A Crucial Tool

According to Screening for Mental Health, mental disorders are a leading cause of disability in the world. Some mental disorders include: depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and suicide. Although anyone can get this illness, refugees are especially more vulnerable to these disorders due to their sufferings of torture and violent conflict. In today’s society, refugees’ rights of healthcare and protection from torture are far from being promised. However, due to the dedication of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the refugees are starting to notice the realization of at least one of their rights—the right to healthcare
When I first looked at the article, all I noticed was the refugees’ right to healthcare being enacted. However, upon reading it a several times, I realized that this article portrays both the violation and implication of the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Article 5 of the document states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The way in which the refugees are treated violates both portions of this right. However, what stood out more to me was rather the implication of the article 25 which states that “everyone has the right to a standard living adequate for the health and well-being of himself. “
Greg Vinson, the Senior Researcher and Evaluation Manager states that the mental sufferings of the refugees are “heartbreaking since we have effective treatments for these issues.” I agree. Unlike Americans who have easy access to treatments, the refugees probably can’t even imagine getting close to medical care. However, they are more susceptible to medical disorders due to their sufferings, and therefore require more attention. I respect the Minnesota Department of Health for their decision to offer a mental health screening to all the newly arrived refugees.
Technology makes this screening more accessible to the refugees. Honestly, refugees wouldn’t be able to reach out for help even if they knew they had an illness. The mental screening is conducted through an online survey, which can be easily accessed. The refugees are to answer five questions given to them during the initial health screening exam. If it wasn’t for technology, the refugees would not be able to escape their suffering, which would lead to a more serious illness and perhaps death. Therefore, I believe that the Minnesota Department of Health does an excellent job in integrating technology into protecting the refugees’ rights to healthcare.
Although this organization doesn’t directly cure the refugee’s possible illnesses, it takes a step closer to perfectly protecting the refugees’ rights to healthcare. And especially in today’s society, technology is a crucial tool in enacting these rights.


Thai Junta's Facebook

As technology advances, the access to the Internet has become extremely easy and the frequencies of expression of thoughts on-line and off-line are almost the same these days. Thanapol Eawsakul, the editor of Fah Diew Khan magazine was arrested for leaving a comment against the military rules on Facebook and people say that this arrestment is unreasonable. Thai government banned Thanapol from making political comments, becoming involved in polictical activities, and traveling overseas without permission from NCPO. Thai government’s effort to silence critics increases the citizens’ doubts towards Thai junta. Thai junta is trying to restrict people’s freedom of expression on-line by secretly vacuuming up Facebook data.

When junta asked Facebook to hand junta Thai people’s personal information, Facebook rejected, so the government created a misleading Facebook application to acquire its citizens’ information. When Thai people try to get on to one of the more than 200 government’s restricted websites, people will have to click either “log in with Facebook” button or “close” button. That way, people who log in with Facebook and access the restricted page will get caught and be punished. After leaving a criticism on Facebook, Thanapol received a phone call from an unidentified military officer and the officer asked him to come to the meeting to exchange opinions and assured that he will not arrest him. But when Thanapol went to the meeting, a man took him to military custody and gave him the seven-day administrative detention.

Even after the military authorities announced that they would stop arresting people, so many people were unreasonably arrested. Thai government is violating Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rightseveryone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers—by accessing people’s Facebook information and restricting their freedom of expression. This news article surprised me because I don’t want my government to know which websites I access and what posts or comments I leave on social network. If this had happened in America, people would have had stronger response towards the government. I think Thai people should stand together against Thai junta and get the right to the freedom of expression back.


Freedom of Expression in Thailand

               On May 22 of this year there was a military coup in Thailand.  This coup severely restricted the right of freedom of expression, going so far as to arrest dozens of people who speak out against the brutal and arbitrary nature of the military.  In a recent article published by, a story is told about a news editor who was arrested for being critical of the military on Facebook.  The arrest of the editor caused a problem for the military junta in Thailand because of the world wide outpouring of support for the editor.  Since this incident the junta has been forced to give leeway to non-violent critics of the military.  Sadly this incident has not forced the junta to release over 300 prisoners held for similar reasons in prisons across the country.  The junta even claims that all arrests for non-violent freedom of expression have stopped and that they no longer arrest those critical of the ruling government. 
               I find this news story incredibly depressing.  For my entire life I have been in favor of unrestricted, non-violent freedom of expression.  I believe that without this freedom every society would be drastically different.  Looking at North Korea, this country has very strict laws in place to prevent freedom of expression and the entire country is forced to believe a lie because of it.  The fact that the current government of Thailand is using posts peoples’ Facebook pages to target arrests is very concerning.  This article shows that there are advances in technology that destroy human rights instead of advancing them like I talked about in my last blog.  This article also highlights the fact that many developing countries around the world are caught in a cycle which is very hard to escape.  This cycle causes long term suffering for citizens of the country.  The reason why this cycle persists is because countries such as Thailand are afraid of the freedom of expression.  If country leaders are so insecure they cannot take criticisms perhaps they should not be politicians.   In the United States, it is the exact opposite, politicians are forced to take any criticism whether it be from another politician or a citizen.  

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