Human Rights
posted December 2010
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WikiLeaks and Freedom of Speech

WikiLeaks brings some truth to our lives for the first time in a long time.

As our governments hide behind secrecy laws and information gathering techniques that conceal their disrespect and disregard for the law and the lack of accountable for their actions.

Jonathan Weller describes in the Huffington Post several reasons to celebrate the Wiki Leaks phenomena, his points are:

  1. “anything that reminds the powerful that they cannot act with complete impunity all the time has to be a good thing” “given that the direction of public life has all been away from holding the powerful accountable, consider the WikiLeaks disclosure a (small) reversal of that most unwelcome trend.”
  2. “we’re getting a lot of important information here, things that the public has a right and a need to know, including disclosures about malfeasance and wrong-doing by government agents, without a lot of downside except, again, to embarrass those agents and their bosses.”
  3. “The leaks have also, one can hope, helped to expose further the lie that is the notion of a liberal US media.”

Indeed the actions of WikiLeaks have allowed a transparency that brings to light the misdeeds of many governments and now with the arrest of Julian Assange the denial of bail in a sex-crimes investigation only reminds this writer of the actions of the Malaysia government in the jailing of their opposition leader on sodomy changes.

I for one, support an organization that places the truth and transparency of the actions of our governments ahead of their claims that WikiLeaks has placed in danger the lives of agents for those governments.

The trumped up charges of sexual misconduct against Julian Assange are at best dirty antics.

Call for the return of our Freedom of Speech

WikiLeaks can be found presently at wikileaks.ch
Jonathan Weiler Professor of International Studies, UNC Chapel Hill

The full article can be found at this link.

posted November 2010
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Islam and the West

by Madeleine Albright The Huffington Post (Nov 11, 2010)

The signatories below and I welcome the many initiatives that are underway among governments, in civil society, and within the religious community to expand areas of cooperation between the Muslim community and other actors. President Obama’s trip to Indonesia this week is an important example of the high-level attention that must be given to these relationships. Despite such efforts to enhance communications, serious obstacles remain. In almost every part of the globe, there continue to be people who have chosen — whether out of ignorance, fear, or ill will — to sow conflict where reconciliation is needed. It is up to responsible voices on all sides to make the case for constructive action based on shared interests and values. This is a duty that extends beyond governments alone, to include decision makers and other people of influence from all sectors of society. The standard we seek to achieve is not mere tolerance, but a widespread attitude of genuine mutual respect.

As former foreign ministers, we have a particular interest in solving practical problems. We favor policies and initiatives that will improve the environment for cooperation across the boundaries of nation and creed. We recognize, of course, that the present state of relations between Muslims and the West must be viewed within an historical context and that the terms “Muslim” and “the West” refer to entities that are resistant to easy generalization. We also acknowledge that the prospects for success will be profoundly affected by the future direction of events in such areas of conflict as Afghanistan and Pakistan, and by progress in the Middle East peace process. We believe, however, that certain broad steps can and should be taken to strengthen the foundation for intercultural understanding.

First, we must be willing to conduct an honest self-examination that does not gloss over differences or duck hard issues. Superficial courtesy is easy, but the path to agreement on the application of moral principles is arduous. A dialogue that matters will examine, among other topics, the legacy of imperialism, women’s rights, freedom of worship, the criteria for just war, educational standards, and the appropriate relationship between religious and civil law.

Second, we must communicate better by eliminating from our vocabulary terms that recall past stereotypes or that reflect ignorance or disrespect. The idea that the West has singled out Islam as an enemy is nonsense; so is the allegation that Islam provides a rationale for terrorism. On whatever side, the actions of a few cannot be used to condemn the many.

Third, we must emphasize the firm connection that exists between democratic and Islamic values while also heeding the lesson of Iraq, which is that democracy must find its roots internally. Neither Islam nor any other religious faith should be used to justify despotism or to validate the suppression of civil society.

Fourth, we must establish common ground on questions of immigration and integration in all of our countries and others. Leaders in and outside of government must search for answers that take into account economic and demographic realities, while discouraging reactions based on prejudice or fear. Here, as elsewhere, a balance between rights and responsibilities must be maintained.

Finally, we should continue to expand business, scientific, academic, cultural and religious contacts that provide a social bridge connecting the Muslim world to non-Muslims in the West.

There exists no single instrument for transforming relations. There are, however, a number of tools that can be used by political, religious, business and academic leaders to generate progress. These include official policies, educational initiatives, and public-private partnerships of all types that reinforce certain basic precepts, such as:

  • The common moral foundation of the three Abrahamic faiths;
  • Respect for human rights based on the legal equality of persons and the inherent dignity and value of every human being;
  • A rigorous commitment to truth – in official pronouncements, in the media, in the classroom, and on the Internet;
  • Support for broad-based economic development so that young people everywhere are able to look to the future with hope; and
  • An honest effort to view the world – historically and contemporaneously – through the eyes of the “other.”

Improving the overall relationship between Muslim communities around the world and the West is a task that has political, religious, intellectual, social, cultural, and economic components. It requires the best efforts of leaders from all sectors and from both sides of the divide.

Governments must not shy away from a leading role in this process but rather constantly strive to guide and develop mechanisms for integration in their societies. It will take time and require patience, but the objective is vital if we are to learn from, not repeat, the mistakes of the past.

Madeleine Albright – United States

Halldór Ásgrímsson – Iceland

Lloyd Axworthy – Canada

Shlomo Ben Ami – Israel

Erik Derycke – Belgium

Lamberto Dini – Italy

Alexander Downer – Australia

Jan Eliasson – Sweden

Rosario Green – Mexico

Igor Ivanov – Russia

Marwan Muasher – Jordan

Ana Palacio – Spain

Niels Helveg Petersen – Denmark

Lydie Polfer – Luxembourg

Malcolm Rifkind – United Kingdom

Adam Daniel Rotfeld — Poland

Jozias van Aartsen – The Netherlands

Hubert Védrine – France

Knut Vollebaek – Norway

posted October 2010
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A La Beaute Du Monde

A La Beaute Du Monde 9.5

these words are written
within these flames
driven by the spark of strife
thrown against this storm
with a certain sort of sorcery

a wish with uncertain promise
leads us on
each with our separate gods
searching for some given rights
lost or finally found
in our lives.

these ashes only whisper to the world
a song of strike
fading into trails of smoke


posted October 2010
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The Burning Buddha An Explanation

The Burning Buddha An Explanation

The Burning Buddha is a collaborative art project focused on the discussion of human rights and human rights abuses. The sculpture and video provide an expression of Blake’s Art Activism-using sculpture to promote Human Rights.

The Burning Buddha asks us to contemplate our human rights and remember those who have given their lives to bring human rights to the world’s attention. This work of art honours these lives, the principle to which these lives were devoted, and the faith known to those who cared about the rights of humanity.

The Burning Buddha symbolizes the ghost that is left to speak to us of freedom and of hope, a ghost that stands for Human Rights and remains a beacon representing the sanctity of life and the value of our beliefs.