Human Rights for ALL

Last week the CIA's torture report was released.  If you are reading my blog, I am sure you are familiar with it already.

In response, there are a lot of people who are expressing sentiments that can be summarised as "I don't care if they torture terrorists" or even "I encourage the torture of terrorists."  Some qualify this by adding the condition it be used to gather information relevant to thwarting terrorist attacks.  Some do not.

Regardless of what information is or is not gathered from "enhanced interrogation" sessions, I am opposed to these techniques.  I am not a terrorist supporter, nor do I condone what certain individuals have done around the world.  Nevertheless, I cannot and will not condone torture of any kind.

First of all, I strongly believe everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - should have more than just the basic human rights.  This applies to alleged terrorists (let me remind you that the majority - if not all - of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay have not yet been processed through the legal system) as well as known terrorists, and all individuals around the world.  To quote the Backstreet Boys, "I don't care who you are, where you're from, what you did ...," because you still are human and still deserve human rights.

Second, to deny these human rights to ANY human being is, in my opinion, an act of terrorism.  The individual being tortured may have killed hundreds of people in cold blood through torture, but they still deserve human rights.  It really is that simple.

Third, well, actually, I do not really have a third point.  To deny anyone human rights, to torture them, regardless of what they did or did not do, is to lower oneself to that level and to become a terrorist oneself.

Honour Killings

Honour killings happen around the world, not just in the Middle East.  They are far more prevalent amongst Muslim families, but this is all speculation.

The fact is crimes like this are hard to process - statistically and emotionally.  There is no doubt that the perpetrators intended to cause death; that much is clear.  But are they?  Why are they doing it?  We can only speculate.

There are few - if any - convictions following believed honour killings.  Even when suspects are known, investigations are not nearly as thorough as they would be for other crimes.

Today the BBC reported four men have been convicted and sentenced to death for an honour killing.  She allegedly married against their will - they accused the husband of abducting her - and was pregnant at the time of her murder.  Her husband was convicted of killing his previous wife six years ago.  In light of these facts, I do believe that the reason this case resulted in a conviction whereas the majority do not is because she was pregnant at the time.

BBC News - Four sentenced to death for Pakistan 'honour killing'

BBC News - Why do families kill their daughters?:

Father Bernard Kinvi

This man is a hero.  Father Bernard Kinvi is a Catholic priest in the CAR, where sectarian violence erupted last year and the Anti-Balaka have been massacring Muslims.  Father Kinvi has saved hundreds of Muslims, despite the risks.  When he would go out in search of bodies so he could give them a proper burial, the Anti-Balaka told him, "We have our jobs, Father and you have yours.  We kill them and you bury them."  He kept going.

International aid has not helped this issue.  Last year, the UN sent aid after the massacres had stopped (for a time). There have been certain individuals trying to raise awareness and save people since the beginning, but to say the response has been limited would be an understatement.

It is because of men like Father Kinvi that there are still Muslims from CAR who are still alive.

The Sad Hidden Plight of Child Grooms

The horror of young girls being married off is not unknown and is talked about on occasion, but no one thinks about boys being married off too.  Yes, child marriage is far more detrimental for girls than boys - the teenage body is not actually ready to give birth multiple times - but it is still very bad for both.

I would like to see more research on the subject.  So far there really isn't much information on how child marriage impacts boys; other than the known consequences of dropping out of school and entering the workforce at a young age there really isn't much out there.

The Sad Hidden Plight of Child Grooms - The Daily Beast:

The children with AK-47s who defied IS

For the people caught up in this desperate war, the sight of a young child brandishing the planet's most widely used instrument of death has become a thing not of horror but of pride.

BBC News - The children with AK-47s who defied IS:

Sheep Oppose Drone Surveillance

Drones and NSA surveillance were topics of discussion last year.  This year, they are still issues, but no one is talking about them.

Here, a sheep opposes drone surveillance.  I just want to point out that SHEEP oppose it.  Actively.

(Actually, it's pretty funny)

Apartheid in South Africa

In response to today's International Law lecture on apartheid in South Africa, I asked a friend of mine who is from South Africa how they teach about apartheid there.  Never having been to South Africa - let alone attended school there - I have only learned about it from an outsider perspective.  This is his response to how apartheid is taught in South Africa.

How is the history of apartheid taught in South Africa?

We are exposed to it basically every day from something about it being on the news to magazine and newspaper articles to documentaries to racist rants online. It's everywhere. Many people feel utterly saturated by the entire concept by the time it's taught to them in high school that they quickly lose interest. That's what happened to me but I got interested in it again in university.

In primary/high school it's mostly just touched on. We're taught that pre-1994 SA was filled with evil white people who put a system into place to oppress anyone who was non-white and they were violently struck down if they tried to resist. Then along came Mandela in 1994 and he saved South Africa. We study some specific examples like the Sharpeville Massacre and how SA was sanctioned internationally but not much else.

In university it's taught far more in-depth and in uni I discovered for the first time that there had been a conflict during this time called the South African Border War (which is what I study in my research). And of course uni goes far more in-depth and you discover it wasn't just a collection of super-evil people keeping apartheid going but that white people also fought against it and that there were many, many other terrible incidents beyond the Sharpeville Massacre. But you're also taught that the ANC got violent and bombed innocent civilians in relation to apartheid forces doing the same.

In other words we're taught initially that the ANC and Mandela were the shining knights coming to SA's rescue to destroy the evil apartheid system but later if you dig deeper you see that even though the apartheid system was awful, the revolution that threw it over was far from bloodless and that the current system is just as corrupt, if not more so, than the old one and we're all just waiting for apartheid-style laws to rear their ugly head again (which is kind of already happening - look up "Protection of State Information Bill").

The victors write the history and it becomes apparent as you grow up that yes, apartheid was terrible and we're glad it's gone, but the ANC is no longer the amazing party it was and of course skew how apartheid is seen in the schools.

For your question specifically, the history of apartheid is everywhere in our country, we're saturated by it and any overseas group that make even the smallest documentary on it are shown here IF it shows the ANC as the good guys only and doesn't acknowledge their violent methods in the late-apartheid struggle. It's not like in Germany where they just don't talk about it, everyone here knows about it and in schools it's taught in a very specific manner.

Israel Killing Civilians

As you should already know,  Israel has invaded Palestine.   This does not surprise me at all, nor is it unexpected.   Quite frankly, I have been waiting for this.

The reason I have not yet blogged about this is simple - it is all so very political.   Don't get me wrong,  I have no issues with commenting on politics; I have had a very hard time finding a news source that isn't incredibly biased.

Then today I read this article and I couldn't stay silent anymore.  I am very much against what Israel has been doing - this is terrorism,  war, and bordering on genocide.

Israel claims they are after the Hamas.  My question is WHY WOULD THEY THINK A UN SCHOOL IS A HAMAS BASE?  I am very upset and outraged.

Shellfire 'kills 15 in Gaza school'

Child slavery and chocolate

With Valentine's Day this Friday, everyone is talking about chocolate.  Either they are looking forward to chocolate on the day itself, or the gigantic sale that happens the next day.  February and chocolate go hand in hand.

But have you ever considered what goes into the chocolate you buy?  Besides the FDA's disturbing limits for rat hairs, insect parts, rat droppings, etc., there is also the blood, sweat, and tears of children.  For the people who eat chocolate, slavery is a far gone thing of the past.  Children working in fields instead of going to school?  Isn't that illegal?

In the "civilized" Western world where people eat chocolate without a second thought - except maybe for the calories - these thoughts never cross our minds.  We do not consider the hard work that goes into making chocolate; we just assume machines do it and no one gets hurt.  After all, isn't everything done by machines these days?  And how could something like chocolate, which is so commonplace, promote slavery?

Well, it does.  Here is a CNN article on the topic, but I assure you there are many more.  Oxfam, Amnesty, every human rights organization, and investigative journalists have showcased this issue.  With Valentine's Day upon us, take time to consider the message you are really sending with chocolate.

Child slavery and chocolate: All too easy to find – The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery - Blogs:

Human Trafficking

January is human trafficking awareness month.  Most people associate human trafficking with sex trafficking, and while sex trafficking is a form of human trafficking there is a lot of non-sex trafficking going on in the world as well.

Here is an example of sex trafficking abroad.  I would like to point out, though, that human - and sex - trafficking happens everywhere.
BBC News - UK paedophiles pay to watch webcam child sex abuse in Philippines:

Here is a youtube video on the topic.

And most importantly, here is a list of what to look for - signs of human trafficking.  If you see something, report it.

Victim Blaming

This came across my facebook feed this morning.  It is a wonderful parody of how our society blames victims for the crimes committed against them.  While it seems absurd for a crime like arson, it is very common with rape victims.

It is never okay to blame a rape victim for what happened.  Nothing anyone does excuses rape.  If someone is not capable of giving clear and enthusiastic consent, then it is rape.  No one asks for it.  No one deserves it.  No one should have to suffer it in the first place, and then again when trying to get help.  It is never the victim's fault.

Today I also happened to read a short article - which I have since lost, alas - about how lesbian women are being raped in order to "fix" them.  This is not a new concept, and is considered by many the best way to "convert" a homosexual individual.  This is not true, under any circumstances.

Just to be clear, I do not support or condone rape.  I do not support or condone arson.  I do not support or condone the comments in the image below.  I do not support or condone the culture of victim-blaming.

Restaurant owner with down syndrome runs the friendliest eatery ever.

This came to me via my facebook, from one of my friends back in Canada.  I love what Tim has done and hope to one day visit his restaurant.  His story is very inspiring and I think it is very important for everyone to see what people with disabilities can accomplish with love and support.

Also I love how he brings more happiness into the world, one hug at a time.

Restaurant owner with down syndrome runs the friendliest eatery ever.:

'via Blog this'