Category: News (Page 2 of 13)

Experts: UN program to save children didn’t work
One of the reasons why I work in human rights is because it is a mostly unambiguous field. Torturing, executing people extra-judicially, denying them due process rights is wrong. Period. There are some areas that are a bit gray – should we pursue the criminal indictment of sitting presidents, when it’s likely that by doing so they will increase repression in their own countries and/or deny access to humanitarian agencies? But in general, it’s pretty black and white.
Not so with humanitarian work. The old adage that you should not give a man a fish but teach him how to fish has definitely some truth to it – though it doesn’t explain what you should do when there are no fish in the river. And there are complex questions such as to what degree humanitarian aid absolves governments of their own responsibility to provide economic rights to their own people, to what degree it contributes to de-politicize local populations and maintain the political status quo and to what degree it has negative unintended consequences. For example, humanitarian aid is often appropriated by corrupt governments or armed groups that use it to hold populations hostage or to allow them to allocate their resources to weapons and so forth. And then there is the question of effectiveness.
This study shows that development aid aimed at children in Bangladesh has been pretty much useless: “in areas where the program wasn’t implemented, slightly more children were vaccinated against measles, and there was no big difference in death rates.” Similar accusations have been made in other instances.
I, of course, have no answers. It’s better to try and fail than to not try at all – but it’s of little use to throw money at a problem without really understanding it. And I, of course, do not (understand it). So I continue with my morally “safe” occupation and leave more complex ethical matters to others 🙂

Cheney’s Plans for a Military Coup

A friend of mine posted this in facebook, and it’s indeed frightening. It doesn’t surprise me very much, however, given that 1) I always suspected that Bush wanted to stay in power through illicit means and 2) a military dictatorship is the emblematic end result of the application of the doctrine of national security. It didn’t happen – but perhaps because they found in Obama s/o who would follow Bush’s policies.
Cheney’s Plans for a Military Coup – Harpers

Khmer Rouge victims gather to mark ‘Day of Anger’

This is just bizarre. Cambodians victims of the democide that took place in that country mark an annual “Day of Anger” by re-enacting the torture and executions that took place under the Khmer Rouge.

(AP) Cambodians marked their annual “Day of Anger” Wednesday to remember victims of the Khmer Rouge regime by re-enacting torture and distributing new textbooks about the era largely ignored by schools run by a government whose leaders once served the movement.
About 2,000 Cambodians, including hundreds of Buddhist monks, gathered at Choeung Ek, a former Khmer Rouge “killing field” dotted with mass graves about nine miles (15 kilometers) south of Phnom Penh.
Some 40 students re-enacted the torture and executions inflicted by the ultra-communists under whose rule in the mid-1970s about 1.7 million people perished.
The performance was staged just yards (meters) away from a memorial filled with victims’ skulls and mass graves where thousands of people were buried.
Relatives of the victims expressed hope that some of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders will finally be brought to justice by a U.N.-backed tribunal.
Currently on trial is Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, who commanded the notorious S-21 prison where as many as 16,000 people are believed to have been tortured before being sent to Choeung Ek for execution.
Duch (pronounced Doik) is the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial, and the only one to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. Senior leaders Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Ieng Sary’s wife, who are all detained, are likely to be tried in the next year or two.
“Why is the court taking so long to prosecute these leaders?” asked Tat Seang Lay, 47, whose two brothers were killed by the Khmer Rouge. “I want to see justice. I wish the court could end its trial process within the next few months.”
About 3,000 copies of the new schoolbook were distributed Wednesday in the province around Phnom Penh, with a half million more to follow throughout the country, said Youk Chhang, director of the private Documentation Center of Cambodia, which has amassed information about the Khmer Rouge.
Youk Chhang said the book, “A History of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979),” is aimed at educating Cambodia’s youth about an era that is part of the living history of every family and at bringing about reconciliation.
He said the government-approved book was reviewed by Cambodian and foreign scholars and includes lessons from genocide in Nazi Germany, Rwanda and elsewhere.
Cambodia’s leaders have been reluctant to dig deeply into the Khmer Rouge period. Several, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, defected from the movement after serving in military or political positions.

EGYPT: Blogger detained on charges of attempting to overthrow the government

The Egyptian government, like several other governments in the region, has been harassing bloggers, arresting them in trump up charges and doing its best to limit freedom of expression. This is just the last example. Please contact the Egyptian embassy in your country and complain about this.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
deplores the fabrication of political lawsuits by state security organs,
particularly in the province of Fayoum, where officials have created new
charges against bloggers. The most recent charge was brought against Ahmed
Mohsen, a blogger who writes the Open Your Eyes blog ( He has been accused of “exploiting the
democratic climate prevailing in the country to overthrow the regime.”
On 23 April 2009, state security forces broke into Mohsen’s house in the
city of Fayoum and searched it, but were surprised to find that the blogger
had months ago moved to Minya province to work and had not returned to
Fayoum since. Officer Amr Alhumaili, not wanting to be reprimanded for
submitting false information to his superiors, called the blogger and told
him to come to Fayoum or they would bring him from Minya. The blogger
travelled back to the city and headed directly to the Fayoum public
prosecution, where he was charged with attempting to overthrow the
government. On 29 April, he was imprisoned for 15 days pending
“It is normal for a state security officer to tell lies, but when the
public prosecution believes this lie and approves the imprisonment of a
young blogger for ‘exploitation of the democratic climate’, this is black
comedy. What democracy did this young man exploit?” said ANHRI.
“Through this statement, we notify the Minister of the Interior that your
state security officer, Amr Alhumaili, lied to you and fabricated the
record of inquiry against the young blogger, who did not have anything to
do with the city of Fayoum several months ago. Will the Minister of the
Interior punish the officer or he will turn a blind eye on the whole issue
and keep silent on the imprisonment of an innocent young man?” asked ANHRI.
For further information contact Gamal Eid, Executive Director, ANHRI,
Building No. 19, Suite 55, 26 of July St., Downtown Cairo, Egypt, tel/fax:
+20 227 736 177, e-mail:,, Internet:

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