Human Rights Archives

Panelist View  |  February 12, 2007 5:07 PM

Why Ugandan Peace Talks Go Nowhere

After six months, the peace talks in southern Sudan between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels and the Ugandan government have made little progress. Here's why.

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Panelist View  |  March 10, 2007 2:05 PM

Changing Behavior to Fight Aids: Overrated

A recent article in Lancet published the results of a study data from two clinical trials in Africa that suggest that circumcision reduces a man’s risk of contracting HIV by as much as 65 percent. Going by the articles in Uganda and Kenyan newspapers, this caused quite some excitement.

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Panelist View  |  June 4, 2007 8:26 PM

A Candle for Tiananmen the Rest of My Life

By Kin-ming Liu

Hong Kong -- I just returned from a candlelight vigil in Victoria Park where up to 55,000 people (claimed by the organizers; the police estimated 27,000 people) marked the 18th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. This former British colony has been the only place in China where people have the freedom to commemorate what happened in Beijing on June 4, 1989.

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Guest Voice  |  February 29, 2008 10:23 AM

In Kenya, A Battle for Words

By Njoroge Wachai

There has been a cacophonous debate over whether Kenya’s post-election violence should be characterized as “ethnic cleansing.” It’s a debate that some politicians and diplomats are handling cavalierly. They’re behaving as if a thousand innocent people haven’t had their lives snuffed out in the most brutal way, mainly because they belonged to this or that tribe.

Some, like Chairman of the U.S. House Sub-Committee on Africa and Global Health Donald Payne, are asserting that President Kibaki’s administration is exploiting the term “ethnic cleansing” (first coined in the 1990s to describe the macabre massacre of ethnic Albanians by the Serbs in Kosovo) to deflect charges of election rigging. In a recent hearing on Kenya, Payne said using the term “…plays right into the hands of the Kibaki camp, allowing them to portray themselves as victims of an ethnic conflict.”

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 |  June 23, 2008 12:12 PM

Tsvangirai's Lawyer Meets His Own Fate

Eric Matinenga in a holding cell in Rusape, Zimbabwe.

When I was imprisoned in Zimbabwe two years ago while writing my undergraduate thesis, advocate Eric Matinenga refused to bribe local officials to secure my release.

"I am a lawyer. My tools are the law,” Mr. Matinenga said. “If one bypasses the law, there will never be justice here.”

Then this bald, bespectacled lawyer entered Harare’s sprawling courthouse and, with relentless focus and wit, successfully argued for my release.

As Mr. Matinenga led me out of the crowded, subterranean cell in which I had lived for one week, he said, “The courts are the last hope here.”

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Guest Voices  |  July 22, 2008 11:30 AM

Bush Should Apologize for Torture

By William Bache

ISTANBUL, Turkey - In the wake of Abu Ghraib, "extraordinary rendition" and Guantanamo, torture has become a stain on America's good name, something that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. This stain, which has especially harmed U.S. relations with the Muslim world, must be removed, with all those involved being held accountable for their actions.

The U.S. Congress needs to conduct a thorough investigation into crimes of torture authorized and carried out by U.S. officials, while governments worldwide should work together to prevent future abuses and encourage an environment of mutual respect for human rights.

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Guest Voice  |  November 13, 2008 10:06 AM

Burma's Black Hole

By Meredith Walsh

A 6-week-old girl sleeps peacefully in the delivery ward at Mae Tao Clinic, a health center in northwestern Thailand, not 2 km from the Burma border. Her mother crossed the border from Burma into Thailand to deliver her at the clinic, tested positive for HIV during delivery, and then made a decision every mother hopes never to make: she returned to Burma and left her daughter behind in Thailand. The Burmese military has destroyed health care systems to the point that there is no support or treatment for HIV-positive children or adults.

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 |  November 26, 2008 3:02 PM

Iraqi Women Face Trials, Tribulations in Jordan

By Sarah Chynoweth and Ada Williams Prince

"Every time a bomb went off I thought the baby was coming."

This is what a young Iraqi woman told us about her experience giving birth in Iraq. Many Iraqi women have demanded caesarean sections rather than risk delivering their infants during war, even though some were well short of their due date, putting the mother and child's health in danger. The woman, a gynecologist in fact, fled to Jordan soon after the delivery with her baby and husband in search of safety.

Although life in Jordan is free of gunfire and explosions, it is not free from fear, particularly for Iraqi women and girls.

If you are an Iraqi woman in Jordan, your life is filled with dread and uncertainty. Since Iraqis do not have legal status there, they are afraid of being caught by the authorities and deported back to Iraq--even though this does not occur very often. Because of this, many are afraid to come forward to receive health care, even if the services are available and accessible.

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Guest Voice  |  April 24, 2009 2:58 PM

Defining a Future As Neighbors

The Current Discussion: Today is "Genocide Remembrance Day "in the Armenian community, a particularly strained time of year for Turkey and Armenia. What's a realistic first step forward toward reconciliation for each of these countries?

By Richard Giragosian

Armenians throughout the world are gathering today for their annual April 24th commemoration of the Armenian genocide, in a traditional ceremony of collective remembrance. Yet this year's commemoration differs greatly from previous such ceremonies, as Armenia and Turkey are now poised to forge a new and historic agreement on "normalizing" relations. After a long process of secret diplomacy that culminated in the first-ever visit to Armenia by a Turkish head of state last September, both sides now finally seem ready to reexamine their past and redefine their future.

Later today, President Barack Obama is set to issue the traditional presidential statement on the Armenian genocide, with both sides eagerly anticipating, or fearing, his choice of words to define the tragic events of 1915. Clearly, there is a substantial amount of evidence showing that the events of 1915, during which roughly 1.5 million Armenians were killed, constituted a concerted state policy of genocide. Moreover, an independent legal assessment of the applicability of the convention to the Armenian case, commissioned by the respected International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), concluded that "the events (of 1915), viewed collectively, can thus be said to include all of the elements of the crime of genocide as defined in the Convention, and legal scholars as well as historians, politicians, journalists and other people would be justified in continuing to so describe them."

But any narrow focus on only the genocide issue or President Obama's choice of wording obscures the point, as the burden for addressing Turkey's historical legacy now rests with Turkey itself, which has already embarked on a significant, and at times painful, reexamination of its past and redefinition of its identity.

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Panelist View  |  April 28, 2009 10:53 AM

The Trouble With the 'Genocide' Label

The Current Discussion: Today is "Genocide Remembrance Day "in the Armenian community, a particularly strained time of year for Turkey and Armenia. What's a realistic first step forward toward reconciliation for each of these countries?

By Salil Tripathi

Turkey and Armenia have begun the slow, tentative waltz of rebuilding relations, after President Obama spoke in Istanbul, but did not use the G-word.

That was perhaps a wise decision, notwithstanding the strong emotive reason that propelled many to call a spade a spade, a machete a machete, and a genocide a genocide, leading to the Congressional Resolution. The truth is that ultimately only communities themselves can make the decision to leave the past behind. International leaders - even one as gifted as Barack Obama - can only play a limited role. (Sudan's conflict didn't stop when Colin Powell called the killings in Darfur a genocide, and few countries joined him in condemning the Sudanese leadership.)

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