Newsletter, October 2008
Welcome to the Human Rights Defence’s Newsletter; its objective is to keep you up to date with what we have accomplished, are currently working on, and what is planned for the near future. We also include short extracts of our latest articles and news. Got something you’d like to see in the technical newsletter? We’d love to hear from you! Send us your ideas or join the Support Forum.
New members, welcome!
We have a lot of new members; a warm welcome to all of you and it is a pleasure to have you on-board. Human Rights Defence is an open organization where you can start new projects and campaigns or join existing ones, share your experience with other members, and publish your opinions and ideas. On our website you find tools to contact other members, discussion groups, message boards, and much more. Our members’ thoughts, actions, and opinions are the foundation of our organisation!
Essay Competition 2008
Our annual Essay Competition was a fantastic success. The quality of the essays received and the people that participated were extraordinary. We choose to publish the top ten essays; we are currently publishing one essay per week, so take your time to enjoy them. If you feel that the subject of a particular essay touches you then feels free to comment on the authors essay via our online commenting system I am sure she/he will appreciate it. Also, I am happy to forward the message directly to the author. The winning essay is “Police Reforms in India: Crucial for ‘Human Rights’”, written by Shantanu. The second prize goes to Shoma A. Chatterji for y “Eunuchs of India are Deprived of Human Rights”. The third prize goes to Aileen S. Marques for the essay “Innocence Interred”. You can read more about the essay competition here.
Human Rights Defence campaigned for the No Extradition of Mr Gary McKinnon, also known as Solo (born in Glasgow in 1966). McKinnon is a British hacker that faced extradition to the United States for charges of perpetrating the “biggest military computer hack of all time”. Following legal hearings in the UK it was decided in July 2006 that he should be extradited to the US. In February 2007 his lawyers argued against the ruling in an appeal to the High Court in London, which was turned down on April 3. On July 31, 2007 the House of Lords agreed to hear the appeal and on June 17, 2008 the Law Lords began hearing the case. This Judgement was delivered on July 30, 2008 with the Law Lords judging that Gary McKinnon could be extradited to the United States. McKinnon was given two weeks to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights before extradition, but the Court has halted the extradition for an additional two weeks to allow time hear his appeal on August 28. Sadly the appeal of Mr McKinnon was rejected the 28 of August 2008. You can read more about it here:
We are currently working on several cases where people asked us for legal advice. If you would like to join our voluntary legal advice team, let me know. Upon receiving a request, a confirmation notice will be sent within 24 hours. Due to case complexity, the volume of requests, and the size of the advice team, we need about 20 working days to provide an answer.
Our Promotion Video
The near future
During the next months, we will highlight the human rights violations in India. So, we particularly encourage our old and new members from India to help us monitor any irregularities in your area. Please do not hesitate to send us any information about cases you would like to get international attention. Last but not least, I have inserted extracts and links to our latest articles and handpicked news. My parting words are: strong together, we can make a difference!
Luisa Teresa Salazar de Nordlander
Director at Human Rights Defence
Our New Articles
The International Human Rights Day comes and goes every year. Human Rights activists talk of torture of under trials in police custody. They talk about human beings being subjected to medical experimentation without their conscious knowledge. They discuss socially relevant subjects like violence against women, child abuse, trafficking or exploitation of child labour in TW countries. But the lot of the community of eunuchs is largely ignored even by their own. It is also true that at every stage of their existence, their rights to live and work like normal human beings are violated with impunity.
The dictionary definition of ‘violence’ (swift and great force that causes damage and injury; great force, as of feeling; damage or injury; rough, brutal force😉 is too literary to encompass the versatile facets of violence human beings inflict on fellow human beings. Violence in relation to religion, simply defined as man’s one-to-one communication with God, comprise spans the entire spectrum of violence in all its manifestations. Religion is an integral part of the social fabric. It reflects the socio-cultural ethos of our society. Today, it is also a sad reflection of man’s hatred towards his fellow-men.
In this essay I will review different aspects of the human rights system, having my main focus on the global aspect. This is to me the most interesting as the world has become more and more interconnected in several areas. The aspect I will concentrate on most in the global aspect is the deep culture of the West, containing universalism, capitalism as examples. I am usually sceptical to Western global “missions”. It is not difficult to find negative aspects of the practice of globalization, democracy and development. I am more positive to human rights. Galtung (1996) discusses if there is “a common human thing” which could be the secret of cooperation and prosperity for mankind. I will in this essay argue that this is an extremely important question in a global and unequal world which obviously does not respect each other’s differences. I argue that HR might wake up the feeling of this. I will in my essay contribute with suggestions for a positive development of HR. I will do this by highlighting the strength of the concept, and then address necessary deficits to improve. I will argue that addressing deep culture’s influence in the concept is crucial for improvement. First I will give a general outline of the ABC of the system and its approach to development.
The War on Terror, started by the US government as a response to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and later joined by other governments, has had and continues to have grave consequences for the human rights of their citizens and of citizens of other countries. This is a high price for an uncertain gain.
However, before I list these consequences, I would like to make it clear that I believe, as any rational human being, that terrorism is evil, that it has to be destroyed and that democracies have a right to defend themselves against violent, anti-democratic fanatics (see this post).
I also believe that democratic governments should be especially vigilant because the freedoms that they are elected to protect, offer opportunities for those who hate freedom, opportunities that do not exist in other political systems. Potential terrorists find it relatively easy to enter a democracy and operate in it. A democracy is a very vulnerable form of government because of the freedom it gives to everyone, even those who don’t mean well.
Human Rights Defence (HRD) and Filip Spagnoli announced that they have entered into a broad collaboration agreement in an attempt to further increase publicity and raise further awareness to political and human rights issues worldwide.
War-Journalism – Living in an ‘Information Age’, journalism and media have become a major resource. The informational revolution was due partly to the media activity. Also known as the fourth state power, media in many ways steers the informational component of the world. Moreover, media can strengthen but also undermine democracy; The way conflict and violence are presented in the media can have an effect on the situation’s outcome. Today, so-called war-journalism clearly maintains a dominant position, and it usually favours the agenda of the ruling elites.
“The great age of democracy and of national self-determination was the age of the musket and the rifle. … But thereafter every development in military technique has favoured the State as against the individual … The one thing that might reverse it is the discovery of a weapon—or, to put it more broadly, of a method of fighting—not dependent on huge concentrations of industrial plant.” “Ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will tend to be ages of despotism, whereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance. … A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon—so long as here is no answer to it— gives claws to the weak.”
Last week’s handpicked news
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© 2008 Human Rights Defence