Amnesty International and governments responses

Human rights issue is used as weapon with double edge. The West views human records in other countries according to their allegiance to them. There are double standards concerning this. The West is still boycotting the regime in Zimbabwe because of the human situation there affecting dispossessed white farmers and the black majority still repressed by Robert Mugabe’s security and armed forces.

Concerning G20, it will always prioritise maintaining its economic lead worldwide. Poor countries are the least object of concern, except for offering them economic aid, which evaporates quickly because of corruption. Africa alone got aid amounting to $700 billion in the past years without showing any economic recovery. It’s always the least developed continent, with the exception of few countries like Botswana.
It’s unlikely that the West will put pressure on Saudi Arabia to respect fundamental human rights, especially those concerning women who are seen far behind, compared with other women even in Muslim countries like Morocco and Lebanon. The economic stability of Saudi Arabia as a big oil supplier to the West far outweighs its shortcoming concerning human records. in other words, the West favour the balance to tilt on the economic side which secures jobs at home rather than on human rights and democracy which can bring fundamentalists and anti-west to power.

Here are two questions I put to Irene Khan of Amnesty International
1- What’s the significance of Amnesty International if its authority is limited to publishing human rights abuses without having the power to redress them?

2- There are governments who use the positive things about them in your reports to claim they’re doing well as far as human rights are concerned.

These are her answers to my questions.

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Is Pakistan a failed state?

As long as Pakistan isn’t a full-fledged democracy where the popular vote resounds more than explosives, it will continue to be an unstable country. It’s a country where there are internal differences that makes it look continuously unstable despite the façade of democratic institutions.

The seeds of the dangers it is facing are homegrown. There are the extremists ready to fight the military and to fool them through their spectacular attacks that spares neither top politicians as well as ordinary people. There are the major political parties which accuse each other of betrayal after agreeing to a common goal to win the elections. Nawaz Sharif allied his party Pakistan Muslim League with the party of Pakistan Peoples Party, only to find himself under house arrest because of leading a strong support for the free judiciary movement in Pakistan.

For Pakistan to be on the right track, it needs to end nepotism, the level of corruption among the officials, for impoverished Pakistanis to benefits of international aids, Without transparent policies and democratic process, Pakistan will continue to live in its own vicious circle, that of elections followed by military coups and political protests followed by elections followed by another military coup and waves of political protests.

Concerning its relations with India, it seems that both countries seem to be destined to continue to be suspicious of one another as from their independence there are many issues between them that remain unresolved, particularly Kashmir which is still disputed between them.

Some of the questions about their relations can be:

1- How much influence does India have on Pakistan internal policies?

2- How does India view Pakistan’s close ties with the USA in its fight against terrorism?

3- What role does religion play in the differences between India and Pakistan as the latter is predominantly Muslim while the first is predominantly Hindu and Buddhist?

4- What does it take for India and Pakistan and India to trust each other in view of the record of their enmity that culminated in two wars between them? Can they for example sign an extradition treaty to show their good will?

5- What can Pakistan learn from India’s democracy as in India the transfer of power has been through the ballots while in Pakistan, election results were ignored and power was taken over through military coups , assassinations and imprisonment?

6- Can the last elections in Pakistan which brought an elected government and president be a total break from military takeover? Can democracy succeed in Pakistan despite terrorist threats, the big influence of religious leaders and the deep divisions between the major parties?

Sex abuse in Catholic schools

One of the “darkest chapters” in Ireland’s history is how the Irish Deputy Prime Minister refers to the abuse of children in Catholic- run institutions.

The sexual scandals within the Catholic Church show that no one can be above temptation despite religious teachings.

The Catholic Church in the West is in a crisis because of falling membership and church services attendance. Its teachings look archaic to many when it comes to sexual orientations, the use of condoms and contraception.

As there are less and less people committed to the Catholic Church, this means, there are less and less people ready to give their children a Catholic education. Because of a shortage in local priests in UK (mainly Northern Ireland), now there are, for example Polish priest who fill the gap.

However, the mistakes committed by the few shouldn’t overshadow the good deeds by the religiously committed Catholic clergy. It doesn’t mean that the past of the Catholic Church was tarnished with sex scandals that it should close down with its schools. In any institution, there is the good, the bad and the evil. It’s a matter of cleansing it from the bad and the evil to keep it in the image of the good.

Should Guantanamo be closed?

President Obama promised the prison would be closed by January 2010 but now he faces complications to his plans as the senate refused the 80 million dollars needed to close the facility. The argument being that the American people do not want the prisoners to be transferred to United States soil.

Now it seems both the US administration and the Guantanamo detainees are prisoners of a situation from which both need an escape. While the US administration is face with the judicial wrangling concerning the closure of Guantanamo, the detainees are faced with uncertain future, especially if they are deported to their countries of origins or if there is no country accepting to receive them, including their own.

The US can strike a deal with Venezuela President Hugo Shavez who offered to receive Guantanamo detainees.

The prisoners should be transferred to their countries of birth and be given a fair trial under the auspices of international observers. Keeping them in Guantanamo will continue to raise controversies. After all, the Moroccans released from Guantanamo so far have been tried in Morocco. Some were acquitted, others recaptured after their acquittal.

Whatever, the Guantanamo prison, when it is evicted of its detainees, should be kept as a memorial for the generations to come for them to make an assessment of the imprisonment conditions there. It should remain a symbol of cross-border terrorism , cross-border imprisonment and cross-border (mis)carriage of justice.

India, great democracy and great disparity

India is the second most populated country on Earth with its more than a billion population. This remains a challenge for any Indian government as the poor largely outnumber the rich. What seems to keep India a stable country is its democratic system despite its flaws.

The existing slums in India is an indication that it’s still has a long way to go before all the Indians can enjoy the fruits of its economic boom. Slums can be a matter of the past if the Indians use their potentials to the most for equitable share of its wealth and not by maintaining two facets in which a large section lives in abject poverty while others have immense wealth.

India still has to create an economic system that can make it a power to contend with. Asians markets can flourish through economic relations with India, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of cheap labour. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to create jobs for the poor Indians in sectors like building, but they themselves can’t afford a descent home.

Are some countries deaf to world opinion?

There are many countries that don’t care about world opinion as they consider their policies a matter of sovereignty and the defence of their interests and security. In Africa, there is Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who , despite international sanctions and condemnation, continues to go ahead with his policies. His apparent sharing of power with  Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is  just a strategy to continue his grip on power.

In the Middle East, Israel’s latest attacks on Gaza showed that the international community has only words but lacks firm actions to prevent human catastrophes.

There are regimes as in North Korea and Burma which are callously ready to defy international sanctions and condemnations and to enslave their people for the sake of their ideology.

History has shown that in face of international determination, regimes can be toppled as it was the case with Saddam in Iraq and Slobodan Milosevic in ex-Yugoslavia who were toppled despite their strong armies because they were real danger for the West, respectively to the USA and Europe.

Regimes can survive as long as they have the means to control their people with iron fist and foreign policies to divide world opinion. If one of these pillars crumble, this is the signal of their downfall. Leading countries like the USA have the policies of wait-and-see for apparently benign regimes and swift actions for those which look beyond repair.

Do some countries need dictators?

For some countries benign dictatorship is better than a democratic rule. It’s the mentality of the people in a country that decides the kind of rulers they deserve. As long as there are people who themselves can’t abide by the rules affecting their daily lives, like not throwing rubbish in the street and respecting road code either in the presence or the absence of a policeman, such people still to be under the tutorship of a leader who should keep them under his grip. If they are given more freedom, they’re likely to turn more chaotic.

Democracy means plurality and the right to have different opinions. It means accepting defeat by recognizing and respecting the winning side. In some countries, especially in Africa, elections are marked with fatal violence. To put it mildly such countries are still on the first step of the mile of the democracy they should reach. When things settle, their situation hardly improve in terms of governance and progress. For them a good dictator is better than a fake democracy which is just a means for the self-serving and the powerful to legitimize their grip on the power at the expense of the legitimate rights of the people they’re supposed to serve.

In short, democracy can be successful if both the leaders and the people are all qualified to play by the rules.

In the Arab world there are monarchies and republics. It is acceptable for a monarch to be the head of state for life.

What is peculiar for the Arab republics is that leaders never change through the ballot. They can be a new leader just through a coup, or as a result of the death or the assassination of the president. They seem to have presidents for life. There is even tendencies for presidents to be succeeded by their sons as it was the case in Syria. There are rumours that the presidents of Egypt, Yemen and Libya are likely to be succeeded by their respective sons.

Is dictatorship good for Arab countries? Well, for some where killing a women who has had sex outside marriage for the honour of her family is still widely supported, they still deserve a dictator as long as dictatorship is still practiced in homes and where the father still has great authority over everyone in the family.

Does the sex life of politicians matter?

The Berlusconi’s very public falling out is grabbing headlines — and has grabbed our attention. The Italian Prime Minister has now demanded an apology from his wife. This after she said she wanted a divorce accusing him of “consorting with minors”.

Sex is still a deadly weapon when it comes to politics. In the USA many politicians, including presidential candidates had to fall because of their sex scandals. In Israel, ex-President Katsav had to resign because of sex harassment towards a number of women and the list of sex and politics can never be exhausted. However the sex of life of politicians does matter, especially when it comes to extramarital relationship or bawdy behaviour.

It doesn’t make sense to elect a sex maniac as this can change the attitudes towards the moral authority a politician should have. Politicians are still expected to be conservative when it comes to sex. In France, which is still considered as one of the most liberal countries, President Sarkozy caused a storm in French society after his divorce and relationship with his current wife before they got married.

The image of a politician as a family person still plays a part in being or not being elected. As such politicians have to be above flesh temptations. Even for gay politicians, it’s one thing to be a committed gay and it is another to be a promiscuous gay. As the private life of politicians still matters in its smallest details, it goes without saying that their sex life matters the most when it comes to marital or casual relationships.

Swine flu and the economy

In case of the apparent danger of swine flu, it seems prevention is better than cure. If it spreads alarmingly, the entire economic revenues can’t eradicate it easily.

However, it is the responsibility of the individuals to be sensible. Anyone feeling the symptoms should avoid mixing with the others and seek medical advice instead of spreading it by disregarding the precautions.

The economy needs to keep going ,but not at the expense of general health. In other words, there is no need to have factories busy producing just vaccines for the entire workforce lying in beds because of an entrenched virus that can claim more material and health disasters if the economic activities keep going for a periodical gain that can turn into a permanent loss.