Posts Tagged ‘Human rights’

in order to bring the wealth of communal knowledge to people in need.

Meet Bunker Roy whose lifelong committment to human dignity and self-sufficiency has proven that a single individual can make all the difference. 

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On September 25th the world lost a true hero in the untimely death of Wangari Maathai.  Her story is one of unmatched courage in the face of oppression and of boundless optimism for the future.  A story where one single women stood up to political and social oppression and to environmental exploitation.  She fought for the reforestation of her homeland which she knew was closely linked with bringing economic justice to the women of her homeland.

Honoring Wangari Maathai.

Upon hearing of Wangari Maathai’s passing I felt a deep sense of loss, as if she had been personally dear to me.  But in truth I know that the loss I feel is not personal but rather that it stems from the realization that an incredible force for the common good has left us forever.

I will mourn her deeply.

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Meet Nadia Al-Sakkaf who truly represents the Arab Spring through her courage and committment to human dignity and freedom.

Since her father’s assassination Nadia is the publisher of the http://www.YemenTimes.com, a publication that continues to speak truth to power in Yemen.

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I’m sure you know of the man who was named “Dr. Death” because of his bold battle to bring the choice of physician assisted suicide to the terminally ill. 

As a person living with Multiple Sclerosis, and hence living with a very uncertain future, I have a deep interest in the topic of  ‘dying with dignity’.  I consider the act of ending my life at a time of my own choosing as a basic human right which no religion, state or government should be allowed to take away from me.

Of course, people commit suicide every day in the US and around the world.  And I have always thought that it is usually a desperate act, prompted by helplessness and suffering that simply is too much to endure.  But ending one’s life as an alternative to suffering the unending ravages and unbearable pain of a devastating illness, is in no way an act of  desperation. 

In fact, it is an act of courage and should be supported by society the same way we have long accepted euthanasia as a merciful alternative to the unnecessary suffering of a beloved pet.  Only here, with physician assisted suicide, it is the human being him/herself who determines IF and WHEN to die.  This is the complete opposite of a decision that many fear may be made by a second party on behalf of someone who cannot express their wishes.

In a previous post about how “To live and die with dignity” I shared Craig Ewert’s courageous story of how he travelled to Switzerland in order to find the assistance he needed to die his way and at a time of his own choosing.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/suicidetourist/

It seems clear to me that anyone who is brave enough to watch the documentary of Greg’s struggle with ALS and his final decision to die, will also witness the strength and the dignity of his final choice.

However, it is not the premeditated dying that is important here, but rather, it is the legal CHOICE people ought to have, that matters.   Even if the right to die were well established and acknowledged by the power of  law, not everyone would choose this path. 

My favorite example of such an individual is Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist, who has clearly chosen to live in spite of having lost his body to the devastating effects of ALS.   

In his case, no  financial or scientific means are spared to enable him to continue his work.

He also is an inspiration to me and I admire him for his straight forward and unsentimental way of looking at life.  In his recent book “Grand Design,” he says: “There is no heaven or after-life …, that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”   He also states that he is not afraid of death, but adds: “I’m in no hurry to die.  I have so much I want to do first.”

So there you have it: more food for thought. 

I’d like to close by thanking Dr. Kevorkian for his committment to human dignity and by posing the following question: 

What gives a society the right to deny any person a choice in determining how much suffering is enough?  And WHEN and HOW to die?

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For a long time now my dissatisfaction with the limited and often biased news coverage in the US has prompted me to seek out other sources of information.  As a reader of this blog, you are aware that Al-Jazeera is one of the news providers that I turn to on a regular basis.  And as a member of our society you are probably also aware that Al-Jazeera has always been decried as an anti-American propaganda machine. 

But last week, to my utter astonishment and surprise, I saw our Secretary of  State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly praise Al-Jazeera’s coverage of events in the Middle-East.  She did not mince her words when she testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and pointed out that “Al-Jazeera has been a leader in changing people’s minds and attitudes” about the Middle-East. 

“Like it or hate it, it is really effective,” our Secretary of State said.  “In fact, the viewership of Al-Jazeera is going up in the United States because it is real news.”  She continued: “You may not agree with it, but you feel like you are getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads…”

Well said Madam Secretary and thank you for boldly stating what has become so obvious to many of us.  It makes me hopeful that change may be possible after all.

And very timely, TED talks just posted a video in which the director general of Al-Jazeera explains how his organization foresaw the coming of the Arab revolutions.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.

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As the people of Libya are fighting for their freedom, the oppressive regime of Muammar Gaddafi is using deadly force to kill the demonstrators in the streets of Tripoli. 

Libya’s falling tyrant – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

I watch in horror as mercenary armies attack with live fire and fighters jets are used to bomb the defenceless population.  How long will the leaders of the “free” world stand by and watch?

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Revolution is marching across the Middle East and the remaining dictators are quacking in their boots.  

When Egypt’s youth followed the example of  Tunisia’s peaceful overthrow of  its corrupt government, the world watched in awe as the ground shook for eighteen days until Hosnei Mubarak was forced to stepped down.   And now that the people of Egypt are engaged in the difficult task of bringing the right reforms to their government, the ground is starting to shake in neighbouring Algeria, in Bahrain, in Yemen, in Libya, and yes also in Iran. 

So the question is what will happen now?  Are we watching the inevitable collapse of all the repressive regimes in the Middle East as we did when the people of Eastern Europe demanded their freedom not so long ago?  And if yes, what will take their place?  

Among the many opinions and analyses that are being offered about the transformation that is underway in the Middle East, I find the insights of Ahmet Davutoglu most convincing.  As Turkey’s foreign minister he is a credible witness to the struggle for a more democratic Middle East.   I’d like to share an in-depth interview with him in which he discusses how the Middle East can successfully combine democracy and Islam. 

Ahmet Davutoglu – Talk to Al Jazeera – Al Jazeera English.


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Mubarak resigns and the Egyptian people have shown the world what a dignified revolution looks like.

Egypt: An idea whose time has come – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

May the people prevail and a true transition to democracy follow.

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It seems that the US Government will find itself once again on the wrong side of history.  Even though the administration’s official position is in support of the pro-democracy movement in Egypt,  it is clear that no one is willing to turn off the 1.8 billion dollar spigot which helps maintain the oppressive regime of Hosnei Mubarak.  One point eight-billion dollars annually flow from the pockets of US citizens into the coffers of the Egyptian military and the Mubarak regime’s security apparatus that suppresses the Egyptian people. 

Instead of lending real support to the struggle for democracy in the middle east, our government supports a dictator who is ‘promising reform.’  My question is this: 

At what point can anything Mubarak promises be trusted? 

Is he not the man who declared emergency powers and has maintained them for more than thirty years? 

Is he not the one who has promised many times before that civil rights will be restored in Egypt? 

Is Mubarak not the one who assured the people before that elections would be open and fair, that he would relinquish his position as head of the official political party, the party that wields all the power in the land? 

Is he not the one whose family has accumulated over forty billion dollars in wealth during his years in power?   And how much of his wealth came from the pockets of the US taxpayer over the many years of  aid given to the Mubarak regime?

And furthermore, are we so entrenched in our way of giving lip service to freedom that we are willing to stand by the rapist who promises not to abuse his victim again?

Or are we finally willing to say to him:  Enough already!  You have to go!

Will we finally stand on the right side of history and trust the people of Egypt to build their own version of democracy?

As events unfold in the streets of Egypt I want to bring the powerful words of Suheir Hammad to your attention. 

Suheir Hammad is a poet who  “blends the stories and sounds of her Palestinian-American heritage” to bring us her “meditations on war and peace, on women and power.” 

May the world heed the truth she speaks  in the concluding line of her poem:  “Do not fear what has blown up.  If you must, fear the unexploded.”

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In my Egypt watch I have come across on op-ed by Robert Grenier, who is a retired twenty-seven year veteran of the CIA’s clandestine services. 

His insights surprised me because he had served as Director of the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center under George W from 2004-06.

You may also find his post worth reading:

The triviality of US Mideast policy – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

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