A global justice gap is being made worse by power politics despite a landmark year for international justice, said Amnesty International today in its annual assessment of human rights worldwide. Launching Amnesty International Report 2010: State of the World’s Human Rights, which documents abuses in 159 countries, the organization said that powerful governments are blocking advances in international justice by standing above the law on human rights, shielding allies from criticism and acting only when politically convenient.
Terna Gyuse - Each episode of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s long-running civil war has weighed particularly heavily on women, yet women have relatively little voice in the negotiations for peace. The renewed fighting that broke out in August 2008 between the National Congress for the Defence of the People (known by its French acronym, CNDP) and the DRC’s army and allied militias has again exposed Congolese women to displacement, death and widespread sexual violence. As director of the Society of Women Against AIDS in Africa in the DRC, Aimée Mwadi Kady conducted a study of the effects of pervasive sexual violence in the eastern DRC. Katana Gégé Bukuru set up the organisation Solidarity of Activist Women for Human Rights, which trains women to defend their rights. Here they speak candidly to Terna Gyuse during the November 2008 conference of the Association of Women in Development.
Laura del Castillo Matamoros - Thank you, Mr. President, as you honor us by your presence here today in our country – excuse me, rather, I should say, in YOUR country. Thank you for giving us the president of our dreams, made in your image and likeness. So great is his admiration for you that, in tribute to your “Patriot Act,” he designed the “Plan Patriota,” which has increased our military forces to 350,000 men. Thank you for helping to form Colombia’s flawless, morally righteous, nation-wide informant network, who believe so much in the underprivileged youth of rural areas that they convert them into “peasant soldiers.” Thank you, and the political economic ideological industrial system you lead, for giving us the privilege of being second-class citizens, given the risk that a terrorist hides in each of our hearts. Thank you for bringing your young professionals and white-collar workers here to take charge of directing our companies. Because of all this and more, Mr. President, Colombia is entirely at your disposal.
S’thembiso Msomi - A Black man is shot and seriously wounded. The unconscious man is rushed to hospital where a white doctor declares him dead. The body is transported to the mortuary where it is stored in a fridge, awaiting identification by the next of kin. A few hours later, the “dead” man wakes up. He screams and bangs on the walls of his icy cubicle, demanding release. A mortuary worker, also black, responds to him in a hushed voice: “Shhhh! Be quiet! The good doctor said you’re dead.” This is one of the stories, I am told, that deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is fond of relating when he addresses audiences. Although the tale is told to illustrate how “the West imposes its version of reality” on developing countries, it is safe to assume that the former Roman Catholic priest finds similarities between his own life and that of the shot man.
George Monbiot - South Africa is the world’s 21st biggest economy. It is also one of the most unequal. It could afford to provide everyone with sufficient water, as long as it was prepared to sting the rich and subsidise the poor. But that is a “non-market policy”, and therefore out of bounds. The problem for any government which attempts to run its services on free-market principles is that some people cannot afford to pay. This means that you must send men to their homes to cut them off. In South Africa, where people are aware of their rights, that means confrontations and riots. So Johannesburg city council, which has set up a public-private partnership with the British firm Northumbrian Water and its French parent Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, has devised an easier way to do it: rather than disconnect people, you force them to disconnect themselves.
John Pilger - The story of Diego Garcia is shocking, almost incredible. A British colony lying midway between Africa and Asia in the Indian Ocean, the island is one of 64 unique coral islands that form the Chagos Archipelago, a phenomenon of natural beauty, and once of peace. Newsreaders refer to it in passing: “American B-52 and Stealth bombers last night took off from the uninhabited British island of Diego Garcia to bomb Iraq (or Afghanistan).” It is the word “uninhabited” that turns the key on the horror of what was done there. In the 1970s, the Ministry of Defence in London produced this epic lie: “There is nothing in our files about a population and an evacuation.”
John Maxwell - If the war on Iraq was a crime against humanity, what description do we use for the decapitation of the Haitian democracy? The world press, those brave gladiators for justice and truth, speak about “hapless Haiti” and the “hapless Haitians”; they hide their prejudice and deceit behind euphemisms, behind circumlocution, obfuscations and outright lies to conceal foul crimes. They say President Aristide fled “amid a popular revolt” – of about 500 bandits in a population of eight million. But the Haitians are “hapless.” Our leaders, on the other hand, like the leaders of the United States, France and Canada, the triad behind the criminal enterprise in Haiti, are all full of hap: hatred, arrogance and prejudice.
Angie Todd - The stage has been set, and the forces are being marshaled against the government of Sudan. Both the corporate media and several respected NGOs have claimed that the Khartoum government is carrying out ethnic cleansing by proxy against Sudanese rebel supporting villages, by arming and protecting the now notorious Janjawid militia. Earlier this month the UN Security Council threatened sanctions if the violence does not come to a swift end. Amid all this, Tony Blair and George W Bush are preparing yet another military operation under the guise of a humanitarian intervention. This article provides a rarely-found exploration of the real motives of those in London and Washington, whose actions so far have hardly been characterised as humanitarian.
David Hoile - USA Secretary-of-State Colin Powell’s decision to describe the conflict in Darfur as a “genocide” is set to damage prospects for peace in the Sudan. This is for several reasons. This action will damage Sudan’s faith in the Bush Administration as an honest broker in securing peace in Sudan, either in southern Sudan or Darfur itself. For Washington to chose to put electoral expediency - diverting media attention away from the Iraq fiasco and pandering to anti-Sudanese and anti-Arab pressure group politics - before the truth of the situation in Darfur, will dramatically undermine its reputation. In putting American votes before Sudanese peace, in both western and southern Sudan, Washington is playing a very dangerous game indeed.
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