Posts Tagged ‘Human rights’

Why you’re wrong about communism: 7 huge misconceptions about it (and capitalism)

February 9, 2014

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Most of what Americans think they know about capitalism and communism is total nonsense. Here’s a clearer picture

Why you're wrong about communism: 7 huge misconceptions about it (and capitalism)Karl Marx, Gordon Gecko

As the commentary around the recent deaths of Nelson Mandela, Amiri Baraka and Pete Seeger made abundantly clear, most of what Americans think they know about capitalism and communism is arrant nonsense. This is not surprising, given our country’s history of Red Scares designed to impress that anti-capitalism is tantamount to treason. In 2014, though, we are too far removed from the Cold War-era threat of thermonuclear annihilation to continue without taking stock of the hype we’ve been made, despite Harry Allen’s famous injunction, to believe. So, here are seven bogus claims people make about communism and capitalism.

1. Only communist economies rely on state violence.

Obviously, no private equity baron worth his weight in leveraged buyouts will ever part willingly with his fortune, and any attempt to achieve economic justice (like taxation) will encounter stiff opposition from the ownership class. But state violence (like taxation) is inherent in every set of property rights a government can conceivably adopt – including those that allowed the aforementioned hypothetical baron to amass said fortune.

In capitalism, competing ownership claims are settled by the state’s willingness to use violence to exclude all but one claimant. If I lay claim to one of David Koch’s mansions, libertarian that he is, he’s going to rely on big government and its guns to set me right. He owns that mansion because the state says he does and threatens to imprison anyone who disagrees. Where there isn’t a state, whoever has the most violent power determines who gets the stuff, be that a warlord, a knight, the mafia or a gang of cowboys in the Wild West. Either by vigilantes or the state, property rights rely on violence.

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UN demands prosecution of Bush-era CIA crimes

March 5, 2013
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RT,  March 04, 2013
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AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards

AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards

A United Nations investigator has demanded that the US publish classified documents regarding the CIA’s human rights violations under former President George W. Bush, with hopes that the documents will lead to the prosecution of public officials.

Documents about the CIA’s program of rendition and secret detention of suspected terrorists have remained classified, even though President Obama’s administration has publicly condemned the use of these “enhanced interrogation techniques”. The US has not prosecuted any of its agents for human rights violations.

UN investigator Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, said that the classified documents protect the names of individuals who are responsible for serious human rights violations.

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Glenn Greenwald: The Obama GITMO myth

July 23, 2012
 

New vindictive restrictions on detainees highlights the falsity of Obama defenders regarding closing the camp

By Salon, July 23, 20

The Obama GITMO myth

Accused Sept. 11 co-conspirator Ramzi Binalshibh is shown while attending his military hearing at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba. (AP/Janet Hamlin)

Most of the 168 detainees at Guantanamo have been imprisoned by the U.S. Government for close to a decade without charges and with no end in sight to their captivity. Some now die at Guantanamo, thousands of miles away from their homes and families, without ever having had the chance to contest accusations of guilt. During the Bush years, the plight of these detainees was a major source of political controversy, but under Obama, it is now almost entirely forgotten. On those rare occasions when it is raised, Obama defenders invoke a blatant myth to shield the President from blame: he wanted and tried so very hard to end all of this, but Congress would not let him. Especially now that we’re in an Election Year, and in light of very recent developments, it’s long overdue to document clearly how misleading that excuse is.

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USA: ‘Vomiting and screaming’ in destroyed waterboarding tapes

May 11, 2012

By Peter Taylor,  BBC Newsnight, May 9, 2012

Secret CIA video tapes of the waterboarding of Osama Bin Laden’s suspected jihadist travel arranger Abu Zubaydah show him vomiting and screaming, the BBC has learned.

The tapes were destroyed by the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, Jose Rodriguez.

In an exclusive interview for Newsnight, Rodriguez has defended the destruction of the tapes and denied waterboarding and other interrogation techniques amount to torture.

The CIA tapes are likely to become central to the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, at Guantanamo Bay.

When Khalid Sheikh Mohammed appeared before a special military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay last Saturday, he refused to put on the headphones that would enable him to hear the translator.

His civilian attorney, David Nevin, said he could not wear them because of the torture he had suffered during his interrogation.

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What Must Be Said by Gunter Grass

April 10, 2012

What Must Be Said

by Gunter Grass

HARDNEWS, April 2012

The controversial poem published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung has raised a storm across the world 

Why do I stay silent, conceal for too long

What clearly is and has been

Practiced in war games, at the end of which we as survivors

Are at best footnotes.

 

It is the alleged right to first strike

That could annihilate the Iranian people–

Enslaved by a loud-mouth

And guided to organized jubilation–

Because in their territory,

It is suspected, a bomb is being built.

 

Yet why do I forbid myself

To name that other country

In which, for years, even if secretly,

There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand

But beyond control, because no inspection is available?

 

The universal concealment of these facts,

To which my silence subordinated itself,

I sense as incriminating lies

And force–the punishment is promised

As soon as it is ignored;

The verdict of “anti-Semitism” is familiar.

 

Now, though, because in my country

Which from time to time has sought and confronted

Its very own crime

That is without compare

In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also

With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares

A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,

Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence

Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,

But as a fear wishes to be conclusive,

I say what must be said.

 

Why though have I stayed silent until now?

Because I thought my origin,

Afflicted by a stain never to be expunged

Kept the state of Israel, to which I am bound

And wish to stay bound,

From accepting this fact as pronounced truth.

 

Why do I say only now,

Aged and with my last ink,

That the nuclear power of Israel endangers

The already fragile world peace?

Because it must be said

What even tomorrow may be too late to say;

Also because we–as Germans burdened enough–

Could be the suppliers to a crime

That is foreseeable, wherefore our complicity

Could not be redeemed through any of the usual excuses.

 

And granted: I am silent no longer

Because I am tired of the hypocrisy

Of the West; in addition to which it is to be hoped

That this will free many from silence,

That they may prompt the perpetrator of the recognized danger

To renounce violence and

Likewise insist

That an unhindered and permanent control

Of the Israeli nuclear potential

And the Iranian nuclear sites

Be authorized through an international agency

By the governments of both countries.

 

Only this way are all, the Israelis and Palestinians,

Even more, all people, that in this

Region occupied by mania

Live cheek by jowl among enemies,

And also us, to be helped.

Ni Yulan, disabled Chinese activist jailed for fraud and ‘making trouble’

April 10, 2012

Supporters say prison sentence given to Ni Yulan, disabled after police beating, is illegal, unfair and inhumane

Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin

Ni Yulan with her husband, Dong Jiqin. She has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

A Chinese court has jailed a high-profile rights activist who is disabled due to police mistreatment for fraud and “making trouble”.

It is Ni Yulan’s third prison term since she angered officials by defending the rights of people whose homes were demolished to make way for new developments, including those moved because of the 2008 Olympics.

The 51-year-old’s supporters believe the latest charges were further retaliation for her activism and have attacked the two-year-and-eight-month sentence as illegal, unfair and inhumane given her deteriorating health. She normally relies on a wheelchair but lay on a bed and used an oxygen machine during her trial.

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Saudi Arabia – human rights abuses in the name of fighting terrorism

August 30, 2011
Saudi special forces outside the hotel where the Counter Terrorism International Conference. Riyadh, February 2005.

Saudi special forces outside the hotel where the Counter Terrorism International Conference. Riyadh, February 2005.

© AP/PA Photo/Hasan Jamali

Amnesty International, 22 July 2009

We were afraid that something bad might have happened to him, that he might have been tortured. We called the prison but they would respond: “Be patient, the investigation is not finished.” I cried: “Let me just hear my husband’s voice”. His disappearance was so sudden…me and my family kept asking ourselves: why is it happening?

Wife of Khalil ‘Abdul Rahman ‘Abdul Karim al-Janahi who was arrested at Riyadh airport in April 2007.

The Saudi Arabian authorities have launched a sustained assault on human rights under the façade of countering terrorism, Amnesty International said in a new report on Wednesday.

Thousands of people have been arrested and detained in virtual secrecy, while others have been killed in uncertain circumstances. Hundreds more people face secret and summary trials and possible execution. Many are reported to have been tortured in order to extract confessions or as punishment after conviction.

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Shame of US Justice

January 12, 2011

By Yvonne Ridley, Foreign Policy Journal, Jan 10, 2011

America’s international standing as a fair and just country does not match its superpower status as the world’s greatest democracy.

When it comes to basic human rights it is there in the gutter alongside some of the world’s most toxic, tinpot dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.

So there’s little surprise that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange fears being extradited to The States where some politicians and Pentagon officials have already called for his execution and Attorney General Eric Holder admits his government may invoke the US Espionage Act.

But it’s not just the persecution and the prosecution Assange should fear, either – the wheels of justice can be agonizingly slow in a process which could take years. And in the case of the Guantanamo detainees there is no end in sight – the majority of them have not been charged but simply forgotten.

Having stepped inside US prisons – both military and civilian – I can tell you there is nothing civilized about the penal institutions in the United States.

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Human Rights Day & U.S. Hypocrisy

December 14, 2010

Defensive America’s Contempt for Full Court, Press

by Nima Shirazi, Foreign Policy Journal, December 14, 2010

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” – André Gide

“WikiLeaks has shown there is an America in civics textbooks and an America that functions differently in the real world.” – James Moore

Sixty-two years ago, on December 10, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration, to which the United States is undoubtedly beholden, affirms:

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.

Well, except for WikiLeaks, of course.

Internet giant Amazon.com, which hosted the whistle-blowing website, dropped WikiLeaks last week, “only 24 hours after being contacted by the staff of Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate’s committee on homeland security.” Lieberman’s call for censorship was also heeded by the Seattle-based software company, Tableau, which was hosting some informational, interactive charts linked to by WikiLeaks. These graphics contained absolutely no confidential material whatsoever and merely provided data regarding where the leaked cables originated and in what years they had been written. Nevertheless, for fear of government retribution, Tableau removed the charts, explaining,

Our decision to remove the data from our servers came in response to a public request by Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, when he called for organizations hosting WikiLeaks to terminate their relationship with the website.

Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal have all since followed suit.

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The Conflict in Chechnya: Confronting the Threat of State Disintegration and the Right to Self-Determination

November 30, 2010

Shavkat Kasymov, Foreign  Policy Journal, November 28, 2010

Abstract

This essay focuses on the right of the Chechen people to self-determination. I examine the legitimacy of the Chechens’ claim to self-determination and assess the policies of the Russian government toward the minority populations of the Caucasus. I also assess various aspects related to the legitimacy of the movements that fight for self-determination in the context of the global war on terror as well as the problem of violations of minority group rights. In this essay, I argue that current policies of the Russian government in the Caucasus do not lay the foundation for the long-lasting peace and stability in the region and are, in large part, conducive to the continuation of separatist tendencies.

Human Rights and Nation Building Policies

The right to self-determination is intimately linked to the right to free association as well as a guaranteed protection of cultural rights under universal UN conventions, whereas the concept of state sovereignty is the foundational framework on which the global peace and security are built in the modern world. Today, the conflict of principles of state sovereignty and identity group rights continues to generate and fuel a number of local wars and conflicts in many parts of the world. Moreover, some localized conflicts have been extended to other countries owing to the ideological factors that fuel them.

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