June 28, 2012

The United States in Human Right Standards

The United States in Human Right Standards

PART I | If there is ever a country that always yearns to publicize to the world, without being asked, the conditions of human rights; it is the United States. In its annual report on human rights, the US speculates what China or Russia did or what Venezuela or Eritrea didn’t and so on.

But it never utters a single word about itself, or the rights of its people, or the rights of the people in Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan. If its disclosure had been necessary, or permitted to be exact, the condition of human rights would have been something like the following. We apologize for sticking to the head topics only for now, as details will be treated in future publications.

• “… all Men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” This quote, called an “immortal declaration” and considered a phrase with the most grand “continuing importance”, belongs to Thomas Jefferson, who ironically, along with his wife, possessed hundreds of slaves. Until his death in 1826, Jefferson refused to free Sally Hemings, whose four children he had fathered, and her two children. They were only set free by his daughter from his first wife eight years later. Moreover, he had refused to recognize Haiti as a nation solely because it was founded by slaves.

• Until 1865, the US ?had slaves that could be sold, exchanged and slaughtered, just like livestock. When congress passed the 1865 Slave Abolition bill, the justification given was not because “men were all equal” or “human rights were violated” but instead biblical arguments were raised and keeping slaves was said to be not compliant with what Christian faith demanded. According to that legal justification, it was therefore possible for anyone who didn’t fear God to keep enslaving people.

• Until 1920, American ?women had no right to vote. It was only with the 19th
Amendment to the constitution that women were finally granted the right to vote. Each state was given the power to ratify the amendment whenever it pleased.

• Black Americans were ?not allowed to get on the same bus as whites. Later, the law also dictated that the blacks get up for the whites whenever there were no more seats. It was then that the Montgomery Bus Boycott movement came, triggered by the incident where Rosa Parks, a black woman, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. The protests that ensued persisted from December 01, 1955 up to December 20, 1956, its victory putting an end to the policy of bus segregation and allowing blacks and whites to travel together. Would reminding the US, now supposedly engaged in Human Right advocacy, with such a story cause her to be conscious of these actions perpetrated less than 60 years ago?

• The US Supreme Court ?has to this day banned any type of worship in public schools, and by way of its Lemon test the court dictates requirements for legislation concerning religion.

• Although the US ?maintains a Speech Freedom Act passed in 1941, it employs 300,000 fulltime workers with the sole task of monitoring and intercepting telephone and internet communications. A clear example of this is the fact that 12,300 citizens who exercised their right to free speech were detained last year for being threats to National Security.

• A recent occurrence that ?proved the right to ‘Freedom of Assembly’ is not in fact observed in practice is the Occupy Wall Street movement that started in 2011, where police violence and brutality was witnessed in clearing the protests and eliminating the principal activists.

• The right to “freedom ?to travel” was later violated by the Passport Act of 1926, which gave the US State Department the power to rebuke or totally refuse the issuance of passports to its citizens. According to this Act, no American citizen is permitted to travel to Cuba. Moreover, there are 8,000 citizens included in a “no-fly list”; these people don’t know why they are on the list and haven’t been told when they asked.

• According to the “Smith ?Act,” any group or organization suspected of harboring thoughts advocating the violent overthrow of the government, is deprived of its right to assemble and becomes liable to criminal penalties.

• According to its “Martial ?Law 64,” the US has the right to deport with or without evidence any individual it suspects as being a threat to its national security.

• The US enacted a law that ?permitted it to deport any citizen of any rival country during a state of war or terrorism. Accordingly, it had deported 70,000 Japanese citizens, after confiscating their property. In doing so, it might have unknowingly imparted a lesson on its subservient regimes.

• According to its “Alien ?and Sedition Acts,” anyone who, at a time of war, made false claims against the government or spoke maliciously on the nation’s war activities, that person would be liable to high criminal penalties.

• Although the fourth Amendment of the US Constitution prohibits unwarranted searches and confiscations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has total liberty to search and confiscate any public or private property.

• In line with its “Chinese ?Exclusion Act,” enacted because Chinese immigrants supposedly created competition for the Americans on the job market to the extent of posing a threat to the National Security, there are still laws prohibiting Chinese citizens from entering the US.

• The Nationwide ?Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI) gives the federal government or any individual the responsibility to put any suspicious person under surveillance, including telephone and email interception. At present, it is estimated that there are 21 million individuals under constant surveillance.

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