Updates from August, 2010 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 2:20 pm on August 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    I have nothing against France, but… 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    Recently the France´s First Lady spoke out against the pending death by stoning of an Iranian woman for adultery and murder:

    Shed your blood and deprive children of their mother, why? Because you have lived, because you have loved, because you’re a woman and because you’re Iranian? Everything within me refuses to accept this.

    There can be no doubt about it — lapidation has no place in a civilized society, and it is laudable that Carla Bruni-Sarkozi has intervened in support of human and women´s rights. But why does her human rights work have to be limited to Iran?

    Why doesn´t she speak out for the women´s rights to wear what they like in France? (Like, a veil, maybe, if they choose?) Why does she remain silent while en masse deportations, smacking of the ones carried out by Nazis a few decades ago, of Roma continue?

    By no means, she should not stop calling for human rights in Iran. But maybe she should ALSO pay a bit more attention to what is happening in her own backyard. Because some may argue that racism and discrimination, like stoning, have no place in a modern civilized society, either.

  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 4:43 pm on August 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , free speech, ,   

    Wikileaks controversy 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    Recently Wikileaks found itself embroiled in a fresh controversy. Some of the US critics claim that Wikileaks only picks on the US and other western democracies. Their opponents reason that Wikileaks is only as good as its sources of information. But even if there is certain preference for exposing the US and western countries — something that so far has not been truly demonstrated by critics — wouldn´t such preference be justified?

    It is a fact that the USA and most of the western powers are real democracies, where most human rights are truly respected. Criticism of the authorities there is well tolerated and in fact Wikileaks would not be conceivable in many other countries.

    It is also a fact that, say, Turkmenistan or Thailand are not real democracies, and many if not most human rights there are not at all respected. Criticism of the authorities there is not tolerated, and critics might find themselves in jail pretty quickly for doing a fraction of what Wikileaks considers its mission.

    But let´s consider implications of the actions, especially beyond their borders, of the US versus, say, Turkmenistan. As a consequence of actions of the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, and earlier in Serbia/Kosovo, thousands of people were killed and many more were displaced or made destitute. (By now, probably, many more people died from the US force, than in hands of the regimes the US sought to topple.) To those dead and to their families, it does not matter that the US is one of the freest countries in the world. It only matters that in their eyes the US forces murdered their loved ones.

    And how many people were killed by unfree Turkmenistan beyond its borders? Zero, correct. The fact that the government of Turkmenistan may be not very nice towards its own people may not speak in its favor, equally as the fact that people of Turkmenistan continue to put up with such government may not speak in their favor, either.

    But the implications for the rest of the world are clear: there is much more potential damage and life loss inflicted by the free and democratic US than by unfree and undemocratic Turkmenistan. And this potential to inflict damage warrants that extra bit of attention from Wikileaks and the like watchdogs.

    In the free speech terminology, it is in the public interest to subject to scrutiny someone in a position of authority. The US certainly is and regards itself to be in a position of considerable international authority. As such, it should be flattered, not angered by the interest its actions generate.

  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 9:59 pm on August 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    France and its minorities 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos

    It seems just so recently France was shaken by immigrant youth riots. Back in October 2005, thousands of young people of North African descent — predominantly Muslim and overwhelmingly disenfranchised — rebelled against perceived brutality and racism of the French police. Several cities of France were literally on fire, while the nation watched in disbelief. The shock was evidently not just at the extent of violence, but also at the sudden realization that the nation was deeply divided along the racial/ethnic/religious lines.

    Although the riots did not end too well for many immigrants (some were imprisoned, others were deported), France finally had to face the reality of becoming a de facto multiethnic state where “egalité” and “fraternité” were but remote ideals. In a way, the riots and ensuing crackdowns became an opportunity in disguise for critically reassessing the issues of immigration, integration, racism, discrimination and equality of opportunities. Some measures were taken at the state level to try and address some of the systemic problems (the time will show how successfully).

    Today France faces another ethnic conflict, this time with immigrant Roma. The events started developing according to the familiar already scenario: minor incidents with law enforcement have snowballed into a massive anti-Romani and anti-immigration campaign. Currently, expulsions of illegally resident Roma are ongoing and upcoming, even though most of them had personally nothing to do with the initial incidents.

    The question is — will this conflict also lead to the reassessment of certain dubious national policies? Dubious, because how else should one call selective restrictions adopted by several EU members of the EU´s fundamental freedom of movement of people? And more importantly — will the objectives behind such restrictions, as well as behind the current blanket deportations of members of a specific vulnerable group, withstand historic scrutiny as legitimate and proportionate?

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