Tag Archives: human-rights

The folly of political correctness is exposed by one of its high priests … – The Times (subscription)

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:22 pm

February 20 2017, 5:00pm,The Times

Melanie Phillips

For decades, left-wing ideologies silence dissenters – but now there is a welcome backlash

For several years now, Trevor Phillips has been on a political journey. Originally a fully paid-up member of the metropolitan liberal set, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has been regularly denouncing some of the shibboleths to which he previously subscribed.

On Thursday he will take this further. In a documentary on Channel 4, he will blame political correctness for the rise of populism throughout the West.

The reason nobody saw the peoples revolt coming is that political correctness is too easily dismissed. At best it is viewed as a kind of idiocy that takes the avoidance of giving offence to absurd lengths; at worst, as the unpleasantly assertive politics of identity and group rights.

Phillips appears to understand that, far

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The folly of political correctness is exposed by one of its high priests … – The Times (subscription)

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Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion for Everyone Everywhere – ChicagoNow (blog)

Posted: at 7:02 pm

By James Kirk Wall, today at 5:35 pm

What if the rights enjoyed by U.S. citizens were global rights? Imagine if the people of Syria were able to protest their government without being massacred Imagine if women in Islamic countries had equal rights and privileges Imagine if nobody was imprisoned or murdered for expressing themselves Imagine if nothing was exempt from criticism be it a king or a cleric

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is for U.S. citizens, but there is a document which grants these rights to every human being on earth.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. This document contains the following Articles: Article 18 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. Article 19 Everyone 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.

Isnt it about time that the United Nations started strongly advocating its own foundational principles? Shouldnt any member be required to comply with these standards of human rights? Or does this organization simply serve as an elitist social club?

-James Kirk Wall

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The Trump team’s deal with Bahrain could ignore its human rights … – Washington Post

Posted: at 6:41 pm

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson professed in his Senate confirmation testimony that our values are our interests when it comes to human rights. Yet one of his State Departments first acts may be to abandon that stance with the tiny but strategic Persian Gulf state of Bahrain.

Concerns in Congress and the human rights community are high that the Trump team is planning to approve a multibillion-dollar sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter planes to Bahrain without any conditions, reversing an Obama administration decision to demand the government take small reform steps in exchange for the jets.

Im hoping the Bahrain deal is going to roll out without the restrictions, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said last month. I think it could happen soon.

If approved by State, the sale would reward a Sunni monarchy that has been cracking down on its majority-Shiite population and flouting U.S. requests for restraint.

Corker objected to the fact that the Obama administration attached human rights conditions to a congressional notification about the F-16 sales sent to Capitol Hill in September. Congress is given a chance to object to an arms sale before it goes through, but typically there are no conditions attached by that stage in the process.

This type of conditionality would be unprecedented and counterproductive to maintaining security cooperation and ultimately addressing human rights issues, Corker told me. There are more effective ways to seek changes in partner policies.

But other lawmakers view the question differently. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote to President Trump last week to argue against the sale.

Some people argue that our close ties with Bahrain are reason for America to avert its gaze and ignore the worsening human rights abuses, Wyden wrote. I and many others categorically reject this argument and believe instead that America is obligated to push her friends and partners to uphold basic human rights and the rule of law.

Wyden wants to know if the White House or State Department leadership consulted the departments Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor about the human rights situation in Bahrain and also how the sale contributes to U.S. national security. A department spokesman declined to comment, while the White House did not respond to my query.

Tom Malinowski, who served as the head of the bureau at the end of the Obama administration, said that the Bahrain case will show whether Congress will stand up for human rights if the Trump administration will not.

Heres the first test for Republicans who have been saying that we are going to continue to insist on human rights around the world, he said. Is this going to be a press release or are they going to do something about it?

Options for Congress are limited. In addition to Wyden, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been outspoken about the need for reform in Bahrain. They could bring up a congressional resolution to oppose the F-16 sales, but similar efforts have not succeeded in the past. Last year, the Senate failed to advance a resolution put forward by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) that opposed U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia over alleged human rights abuses in the war in Yemen.

Without congressional action, private bilateral pressures on the Bahraini government are unlikely to work. In 2015, the Obama administration lifted a four-year ban on arms sales to Bahrain after extensive negotiations. Per their agreement, the government of Bahrain released opposition leader Ibrahim Sharif. He was rearrestedon new charges only a few weeks later.

This wasnt just about human rights, this was about a country going back on its word at the highest levels, one senior Obama administration official said. It was about how the United States was treated.

The conditions Obama attached to the F-16 deal in September, which were never made public, were meant to be easy for the government to fulfill. They included the release of human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who faces years in prison for tweeting and writing an op-ed in the New York Times, and allowing some organization by the regimes political opposition following the forced dissolution of the opposition al-Wefaq party.

None of those actions were taken, and the Bahraini government is now in the midst of a full-scale crackdown, said Cole Bockenfeld, deputy director for policy at the Project on Middle East Democracy.

If the Trump administration releases the sales now, that completely validates the Bahraini hard-liners view that they dont need to even pretend to be improving on human rights anymore, he said.

As Bahrain is a major non-NATO ally and host of the U.S. Navys 5th Fleet, its stability and security are in the United States national security interest. But if the Bahrain government doesnt allow for political dissent and basic human rights, both of those goals will be undermined over the long term, along with U.S. values and interests in the region.

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The Trump team’s deal with Bahrain could ignore its human rights … – Washington Post

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Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines – Deutsche Welle

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:46 am

Deutsche Welle
Duterte's 'war on drugs' in the Philippines
Deutsche Welle
More than 7,000 people have been killed since summer 2017 when President Rodrigo Duterte launched his campaign to wipe out drug dealers and users. The rule of law has in effect been suspended. Police and vigilantes have carte blanche.
Children and Duterte's drug war: Lessons from the pastAljazeera.com
A man of God in the Philippines is helping document a bloody war on drugsColumbia Journalism Review
Japan Turns a Blind Eye to Philippines' Abusive 'Drug War'Human Rights Watch
The Wire –Asian Correspondent –Saudi Gazette
all 225 news articles »

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Human Rights Watch: Japan should condemn Duterte’s drug war – Philippine Star

Posted: at 4:46 am

MANILA, Philippines Japan should condemn President RodrigoDuterte’swar on drugs and not condone it, international group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Friday.

HRW Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine said Tokyo turned a blind eye to the country’s “abusive drug war” while theUnited States and the European Union have publicly criticizedthe rising cases of alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs has left more than 7,000 suspected drug offenders both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style or unexplained killings, since he took office in June.

According toKine,showing a lack of commitment inaddressing human rights violationsis not only a “wasted opportunity.”

“It doubtlessly gives encouragement to a government that deems as ‘inhuman’ those slaughtered in its anti-drug campaign,”Kinesaid in a dispatch released Friday.

The HRW director noted that Japan had plenty of opportunities to address the problem, such as during thePhilippines-Japan vice-ministerial meeting in Tokyo on February 10, but failed to do so.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also made a state visit to the Philippines last January 12 to 13 to renew its ties with the country. During the two-day official visit, Abe extended financial assistance in building a drug rehabilitation center in the country as support to the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign.

“But during his visit and afterward, Abe made no public referenceto the ‘war on drugs’ and its brutal cost in lives and the impact on affected families,” saidKine.

“It needs to make clear that unlessDutertedecisively ends the killings and prosecutes those responsible, he risks a suspension of Japanese financial aid, training programs, and equipment sales to the Philippine National Police,” he added.

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Human Rights Watch: Japan should condemn Duterte’s drug war – Philippine Star

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Australia Accused Of Committing Crimes Against Humanity In Offshore Detention Centres – BuzzFeed News

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:40 am

Crimes against humanity have been committed in Australias offshore immigration detention centres, a petition before the International Criminal Court has claimed.

Handout / Reuters

ID: 10539857

The submission, from the Global Legal Action Network and the Stanford International Human Rights Clinic, urged the court to investigate potential crimes against humanity committed against asylum seekers by individuals and corporate actors within the island prisons.

As recent leaks reveal, these privatised facilities entail long-term detention in inhumane conditions, often including physical and sexual abuse of adults and children, the network said in a statement.

It accused Australian governments of contracting out the running of facilities to private corporations in order to avoid responsibility.

Nevertheless, that liability for international crimes can be traced not only to direct perpetrators on the ground, but also to public officials and corporate officers and directors, the statement read.

Stefan Postles / Getty Images

ID: 10539837

Let this be a warning to people donating to GetUp! that you are being ripped off by these wacky causes, a spokesperson for Dutton said this week.

The Australian government said last year that it would at some point shut down its detention centre on Papua New Guineas Manus Island, where 871 men are still detained.

Handout / Reuters

ID: 10539823

At Australias other offshore immigration centre, on the tiny Micronesian island of Nauru, there are still 372 people detained.

The Australian government has subjected asylum-seekers on Nauru to egregious abuses that amount to torture and flout international law, a report released last year by Amnesty International found.

The human rights group found refugees on Nauru had been denied medical treatment, suffered abuse and been subject to inhumane treatment.

Earlier this month, a heavily pregnant Kuwaiti refugee held in detention on Nauru had to wait several days to be flown to Australia after doctors said she was in a critical condition and needed an emergency C-section.

The 37-year-old was suffering from the potentially life-threatening condition of preeclampsia and had a large fibroid, or benign tumour, on the wall of her uterus.

Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

ID: 10540097

Everyone feels so hopeless and helpless, an Iranian refugee detained on Manus Island told BuzzFeed News.

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Report: Improved school access in Tanzania still leaves work to be done – Africa Times

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 12:08 am

More than 40 percent ofTanzanias teens encounter barriers to secondary education, according to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report.

The report, issued Tuesday, was based on interviews held with more than 220 students, other adolescents no longer in classes, parents, government officials and organizational leaders across the country during Tanzanias rollout of a free education program for Form I to Form IV students.

Despite Tanzanias admirable efforts, many barriers remain. They include access to schools in rural areas where a trip to school means a 25 kilometer journey, or the impact to students who cannot afford transportation as well as books, uniforms and other expenses.

One troubling barrier is the national exam system that requires students to pass a primary school exit test before they are accepted into the next secondary tier. Tanzanian students have only one chance to pass that test, the HRW report found, and their failure often means the end of their formal education.

Other problems persist as well.

Tanzanias abolition of secondary school fees and contributions has been a huge step toward improving access to secondary education, saidElin Martnez, childrens rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. But the government should do more to address the crowded classrooms, discrimination and abuse that undermine many adolescents education.

According toWorld Bank data, fewer than one-third of girls who enter lower secondary school graduate. Schools routinely expel female students who are pregnant on grounds of offenses against morality, accounting for 8,000 girls each year, and girls who marry before age 18 are required to leave as well.

School officials who insist on pregnancy tests or deny these students return to school are violating their rights, HRW said. There are also access issues for people with disabilities, widespread sexual abuse and harassment, and the continued use of corporal punishment which remains legal under Tanzanian law.

The government has repeatedly committed to ensuring secondary education for all, Martnez said. Now the government needs to open the way for secondary education by ending discriminatory and abusive policies and removing the remaining barriers between many students and a quality education.

The complete report is linked here.

Image: Soko Tanzania

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Meryl Streep slams Donald Trump in another emotional speech – Washington Post

Posted: February 13, 2017 at 8:41 am

When Meryl Streep delivered a blistering critique of then-President-elect Donald Trump at the Golden Globes in January, the actress did so without mentioning his name.

On Saturday night, Streep again denounced Trump in similar fashion, this time at a Manhattangala for the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT equality.

And just as in January, there was no questionto whom she was referring in herspeech, which was at times self-deprecating, poignant and politically provocative.

The actress’s fiery speech directed at President-elect Donald Trump wasn’t a completely new act. (Nicki DeMarco/The Washington Post)

If we live through this precarious moment, if his catastrophic instinct to retaliate doesnt lead us to nuclear winter, we will have much to thank our current leader for, Streep said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He will have woken us up to how fragile freedom is. The whip of the executive, through a Twitter feed, can lash and intimidate, punish and humiliate, delegitimize the press and imagined enemies with spasmodic regularity and easily provoked predictability.

It was the first time the acclaimed actress had spoken so publicly about Trump since the Golden Globes. Her remarks last month triggered angry tweets the following morning from Trump, who called Streep one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood and a Hillary flunky who lost big.

On Saturday night, Streep addressed Trumps critical tweets about her.

Yes, I am the most overrated, overdecorated and, currently, I am the most over-berated actress of my generation, she told the gala audience to laughter, according to the Associated Press.

Streep added that she had become a target of attacks since her Golden Globes speech,including from brownshirts, a reference to the Nazi militia. Her publicist did not immediately respond to the AP to elaborate on the attacks Streep cited.

Its terrifying to put the target on your forehead, Streep said. And it sets you up for all sorts of attacks and armies of brownshirts and bots and worse, and the only way you can do it is if you feel you have to. You have to! You dont have an option. You have to.

She said that her usual instinct was to stay at home and read, garden and load the dishwasher but that the weight of all these honors drove her to continue to speak out.

[The dramatic rise in state efforts to limit LGBT rights]

In her nearly four-decade-long career, Streep has been nominated for 30 Golden Globe awards and 20 Academy Awards,more than any other actor for either honor. She has won both awards multiple times, along with numerousEmmys and Screen Actors Guild awards.

When Streep was named as a Kennedy Center Honors recipient, the performing arts center noted that the sheer breadth and joy of her artistry counts as one of the most exhilarating cultural spectacles of our time.

The American Film Institute presented her with its Life Achievement Award in 2004, citing her unparalleled talent and integrity. A decade later, Streep receivedthe Presidential Medal of Freedom, with the White House calling her one of our nations greatest actors.

On Saturday night, Streep received the Human Rights Campaigns National Ally for Equality Award.She dedicated the honor to her gay and transgender teachers, colleagues and friends. In particular, Streep remembered two teachers from her childhood in New Jersey: a middle-school music teacher who became one of the first transgender women in the country, and her piano teacher, who lived with his partner for more than 50 years.

I am not going to introduce you to all my gay teachers, just some of the most influential personalities in my past, the memorable people who made me an artist and who lived, unnecessarily, under duress, Streep said.

She then spoke about the progress that had been made in recent decades on human rights and equality.

[Trump administration signals change in policy for transgender students]

Amazingly, and, in terms of human history, blazingly fast, culture seemed to have shifted; the old hierarchies and entitlements seemed to have been upended, Streep said. Which brings us to now. We should not be surprised that fundamentalists, of every stripe, are exercised and fuming. We should not be surprised that these profound changes come at a steeper cost than we originally thought. We should not be surprised that not everyone is actually cool with it.

Streep ended with a call to live our lives with God or without Her, according to the AP.

All of us have the human right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, she said. If you think people were mad when they thought the government was coming after their guns, wait until you see when they try to take away our happiness.

Read a transcript of Meryl Streeps speech via the Hollywood Reporter.

Read more:

Meryl Streep called out Donald Trump at the Golden Globes. He responded by calling her over-rated.

The Golden Globes wasnt the first time Meryl Streep got political at an award show

The single most important line in Meryl Streeps Golden Globe speech

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President Duterte Changes and Defends Philippine Drug War – Voice of America

Posted: February 12, 2017 at 7:47 am

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is changing his deadly war on drugs.

The change came after the killing last October of a South Korean businessman by Philippine police officers working on the drug war.

The police agency blamed for killing the businessman has been suspended from anti-drug efforts.

Duterte has put the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in charge of anti-drug efforts. Duterte said the Philippine military would also assist efforts to stop illegal drug selling and use in the Philippines.

The businessman, Jee Ick-joo, was picked up by police and quickly killed, according to news reports in the Philippines.

The news reports said police led his family to believe Jee was still alive for several weeks, as they continued to ask for ransom payments.

Police offered no evidence that the businessman had any connection to illegal drugs.

Choi Kyung-jin, left, widow of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, and their former housekeeper, appear before Philippine Senate Committee.

Duterte criticizes corrupt police

Duterte spoke this week to 400 police officers reportedly under investigation for corruption and other misconduct.

He said corrupt police would be sent for two years to a southern island that is a stronghold of Islamist militants.

Duterte also spoke about former Colombian President Cesar Gavirias recent column in the New York Times. The column was titled, President Duterte Is Repeating My Mistakes.

Duterte called Gaviria an idiot for warning that throwing more soldiers and police at the drug users does not work.

Gaviria wrote in the New York Times column that doing so is not just a waste of money, but also can actually make the problem worse.

Reuters news agency reported that Duterte said his war on drugs is different than Colombias because shabu, or methamphetamine, is the common drug choice in the Philippines. The drug damages the brain. Duterte said the effects of cocaine, the drug of choice by Colombias sellers and users, are not as bad.

Last week, Catholic Bishops in the Philippines wrote a letter that was read at church services. The letter called on Catholics to speak out against the violent drug war.

Let us not allow fear to reign and keep us silent, the bishops wrote.

Human Rights Watch has been critical of Dutertes war on drugs. The group says that more than 7,000 Filipinos have been killed in the war on drugs since Duterte became president in June of 2016.

Human Rights Watch has asked for the United Nations to investigate.

Phelim Kine, the Asian director for Human Rights Watch said that the Philippine police wont seriously investigate themselves, so the UN should take the lead in conducting an investigation.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by Reuters and other news sources. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page.


ransom – n. money that is paid in order to free someone who has been captured or kidnapped

misconduct – n. bad behavior

idiot – n. a very stupid or foolish person

methamphetamine – n. a powerful, addictive, stimulant that affects the central nervous system

cocaine – n. a drug that is used in medicine to stop pain or is taken illegally for pleasure

reign – n. to rule

conduct – v. to carry out

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Marginal progress for Turkish-backed forces in north Syria – PBS NewsHour

Posted: at 7:08 am

Turkish military vehicles drive in the northern Syrian rebel-held town of al-Rai, Syria January 5, 2017. Photo by Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

BEIRUT Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition forces have managed to capture just one-tenth of a north Syrian town from Islamic State militants, a conflict monitoring group said Saturday, despite reaching its outskirts seven weeks ago.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group told the AP that nine-tenths of al-Bab remains under IS control. The Observatory receives its information from a network of contacts inside the war-torn country.

Battlefield reports from Syrian opposition forces corroborated the Observatorys review.

The Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sham militia announced Saturday on Twitter that opposition forces had taken the citys silos and sports complex in its southwestern districts. The coalitions operations room released a video on social media showing its fighters at the gates of the Hikma hospital. Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group also reported the hospitals capture.

But these amount to just marginal advances in the town, where some 100,000 residents lived before the start of the Syrian civil war, six years ago. Al-Bab lies about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Turkish border.

Turkey is leading Syrian opposition forces in a broad operation called Euphrates Shield against the Islamic State group and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces northern Syria.

Ankara wants to clear groups it says are terrorists away from its border, while Syrian opposition forces are looking to secure territory before rival government forces arrive from the south.

Turkey is the oppositions chief backer in Syrias multisided civil war. It has deployed troops, tanks and artillery inside Syria as part of operation Euphrates Shield.

Turkeys Anadolu news agency began reporting Turkish troop fatalities in al-Bab on Dec. 21. That week, 16 Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes or ambushes by the Islamic State in the town.

Dozens of civilians have been killed in Turkish air raids on the town, as well.

The IS groups Aamaq news agency reported that Turkish, American, and Russian warplanes flew more than 80 sorties over the town on Friday and struck with 150 artillery rounds.

The three powers are coordinating their aerial campaigns against the Islamic State group and other al-Qaida-linked factions in northern Syria.

Pro-government forces, meanwhile, backed by Russian airpower, are engaged with IS militants in the village of Tadif, about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) south of al-Bab.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Saturday that in the course of the battle in the area of Tadif, government forces destroyed 650 terrorists, two tanks and various vehicles fitted with arms and explosives. The figures could not be independently confirmed.

Meanwhile, Irans Supreme National Security Council authorized Russia to fly its fighters over Iranian airspace to support operations in Syria, the states semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Earlier on August, Iran confirmed that Russia bombers launched airstrikes from near the Iranian city of Hamedan, 280 kilometers (175 miles) southwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran to hit targets in in eastern Syria.

Iran is a stanch supporter of the Syrian government.

Associated Press writers James Heintz in Moscow and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran contributed to this report.

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Marginal progress for Turkish-backed forces in north Syria – PBS NewsHour

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