As part of a greater crackdown on Chinese human rights defenders, human rights campaigner Liu Feiyue, lawyer Jiang Tianyong, and activist Huang Qi have all been missing since November. The Chinese government should immediately account for these men who have all been previously harassed by authorities and appear to have disappeared, forcibly.
On November 17, national security police arrested Liu Feiyue, founder of the Hubei-based grassroots rights monitoring organization Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch. Although Liu’s family has not received a written notice, Hubei police told Liu’s family that he was being detained on suspicion of “subversion of state power”(1). Liu’s Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch is a grassroots platform that has reported human rights abuses in China since 2006, documenting detention, imprisonment, and harassment of activists, petitioners, and protestors, including the use of involuntary psychiatric detention (2).
On November 21, Beijing human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong went missing. He is said to be in police custody for allegedly “leaking state secrets” (3). The Legal Daily said Mr. Jiang was a “citizen advocate” who “meddled in some serious cases, wantonly fabricated and spread rumors on the internet, and incited petitioners and the families of people in legal proceedings to resist state agencies” (4). These accusations are not substantiated. Jiang’s family tried for several days to report his disappearance to various police units, but officers declined to act (5). A state report said Jiang’s family “has been notified according to the law”; however, his family said they have received no such notification and do not know where Jiang is being held (6). Jiang, who was disbarred in 2009 for political reasons, has long been active in human rights cases, and in 2011, he was detained for two months and tortured for his activism (7).
On November 28, Huang Qi, founder of Sichuan-based website “64 Tianwang”, was taken from his home in Chengdu, Sichuan Province by public security officers. There has been no formal notification about his detention and his whereabouts remain unknown. Huang, imprisoned twice for a total of eight years, has used his website to report on human rights violations, including the detention of activists, petitioners, and Falun Gong practitioners, and forced demolitions since 1999 (8). Awarded the Press Freedom Prize by Reporters Without Borders in November 2016, 64 Tianwang is one of the longest-running human rights websites based in China (9).
China’s Criminal Procedure Law requires police to notify families within 24 hours of criminal detention, but the requirement can be waived in cases involving “national security” and “terrorism,” and when the police believe that such notification could “impede the investigation” (10). Although the Criminal Procedure Law allows lawyer-client meetings within 48 hours of lawyers making such requests, in cases involving “national security,” “terrorism,” and “major corruption,” police approval is required before such meetings can take place (11). This is highly problematic because as Amnesty International’s Nicholas Bequelin has explained, “The definition of what is a ‘state secret’ is over-broad and open-ended. There is no real way to legally challenge a classification. […] Even publicly available information can be considered a state secret if communicated abroad […] State secrets charges have long been the weapon of choice to silence critics, dissenters, journalists and party foe[s]” (12). The secret detention of individuals significantly increases the risk of torture in detention. With the law open to state interpretation, the Chinese government, critics claim, is empowered to silence anyone it feels poses a threat to its agenda. Critics also argue that not only does this punish those who do dissent, but also sends a serious warning to the rest of China that if one does not silence their criticism, the state will silence them instead.
China’s use of forced disappearances is not uncommon. In 2011, an anonymous online declaration for a “Jasmine Revolution” resulted in dozens of Chinese government critics disappearing and being held in secret locations for weeks. In 2012, changes to the Criminal Procedure Law made it lawful to hold individuals for up to six months without disclosing their whereabouts (13). In July 2015, the government took into custody more than 280 human rights lawyers, their associates and activists supporting them and concealed information about the detainees whereabouts and wellbeing for months (14). Many of these lawyers faced criminal charges, including subverting state power, which can carry a sentence of up to life in prison.
These disappearances reflect a government crackdown on human rights defenders since President Xi Jinping took power. Xi’s leadership has followed an authoritarian path in response to perceived threats to the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy. Under his predecessor, Hu Jintao, China was governed by a softer authoritarian rule. Because he was considered a soft leader, Jintao’s reign saw a spike in corruption and decentralization of power within the party. In response, Xi has orchestrated the harshest crackdowns on free speech and anti-government rhetoric witnessed in China in the last 30 years. President Xi has grown increasingly insecure about independence movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as the influence that Western culture has had on Chinese people. This has caused him to further promote Communist values, and shelter China from the world in terms of cultural integration. President Xi’s domestically popular anti-corruption campaign continues to include prosecutions that violate the right to a fair trial. Activists seeking to defend human rights, such as Liu Feiyue, Jiang Tianyong, and Huang Qi, have faced a surge in punishment under Xi, at times enduring arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, politicized prosecutions, and torture.
The Chinese government’s fear of criticism is exemplified by Central Document No. 9, issued by the CCP Central Committee and circulated throughout the Party system nationwide (but leaked outside of China) in 2013. It reveals the CCP’s assessment of the ideological weaknesses it is experiencing inside the Party and in society, and further illustrates the dislike the CCP has toward Western political influence. The document paints a picture of a ruling party under assault from within and without––an extremely unconfident party acting defensively to fend off perceived threats to its continued rule and existence. Noteworthy problems listed include: the promotion of Western constitutional democracy, the promotion of “universal values” in an attempt to weaken the theoretical foundations of the Party’s leadership, the promotion of civil society in an attempt to dismantle the ruling party’s social foundation, and the promotion of the West’s idea of journalism, which is said to challenge China’s principle that the media and publishing system should be subject to Party discipline. The problems explicitly listed exemplify the state’s fear of those who fight for human rights and access to an open and unbiased media.
The status of human rights under President Xi Jinping continues in a negative direction. Chinese authorities should order an immediate and impartial investigation into the missing activists whereabouts, publicly disclose its findings, and bring those responsible to justice. If credible evidence of an internationally recognized crime does exist, those in custody should be given a fair and unbiased trial in court that is in line with international human rights standards. Chinese authorities should ensure that those detained are protected from torture and have access to adequate medical care. Additionally, the detainees should be allowed access to their families and a lawyer of their choice. Forced disappearances in China should not go ignored by the international community.
(1) "China: Three Activists Feared 'Disappeared'" Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 16 Dec. 2016. Web. 28 Dec. 2016.
(4) "Lawyer, Web Publisher Accused of Leaking Secrets." China Digital Times. China Digital Times, 23 Dec. 2016. Web. 28 Dec. 2016.
(5) "China: Three Activists Feared 'Disappeared'" Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 16 Dec. 2016. Web. 28 Dec. 2016.
(12) "Lawyer, Web Publisher Accused of Leaking Secrets." China Digital Times. China Digital Times, 23 Dec. 2016. Web. 28 Dec. 2016.
(13) "China: Three Activists Feared 'Disappeared'" Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 16 Dec. 2016. Web. 28 Dec. 2016.
(14) "China: Events of 2015." Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 27 Jan. 2016. Web. 28 Dec. 2016.
Image: © Jess Yu | Dreamstime.com - 1 July protest in Hong Kong
With only 5 years since it gained independence in 2011, South Sudan has struggled through a civil war that has killed approximately 50,000 to 300,000 people and displaced 1.6 million (1). The war broke out in December 2013, following President Salva Kiir’s accusations that former Vice President Riek Machar was plotting a coup d’état. This conflict has resulted in three years of fighting between government forces, rebel troops and allied militias. The fighting has mostly pitted Kiir's Dinkas, the dominant ethnic group estimated to be roughly a third of the population, against Machar's Nuer tribe. But dozens of other ethnic groups, South Sudan have been pulled into the conflict as the fighting spreads. Despite a fragile peace deal signed last year, fighting and attacks on civilians continue.
The civil war has resulted in United Nations condemnation and allegations of ethnic cleansing. The UN established the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (UNMISS) in March 2016 to monitor and report on the human rights situation. On December 1, the head of the commission reported that there was a steady process of ethnic cleansing underway in the country, involving massacres, starvation, gang rape and the destruction of villages. "The stage is being set for a repeat of what happened in Rwanda and the international community is under an obligation to prevent it,” commission chairwoman Yasmin Sooka told a news conference (2). "You have ethnic tensions because people have been displaced from their land based on ethnicity. Everybody believes that a military conflict is almost inevitable in different parts of the country,” Sooka told Al Jazeera (3). The United States also warned of escalating violence. "We have credible information that the South Sudanese government is currently targeting civilians in Central Equatoria and preparing for large-scale attacks in the coming days or weeks," Keith Harper, the US representative at the UN Human Rights Council, said in Geneva (4). In November, the UN's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, told the Security Council there was a risk of "outright ethnic war" and the "potential for genocide” (5). The UN human rights experts are expected to publish a report on their findings in March.
Despite the UN’s critical reporting on the situation in South Sudan, there has also been criticism of UNMISS and how the UN has handled the crisis. This criticism is justified as the commission’s failure to send help when a call came from the nearby compound under attack resulted in dozens of people being killed between July 8 to 11 (6). At least five foreign aid workers were raped when between 80 and 100 uniformed soldiers overran a hotel (7). In the weeks following the violence, UNMISS also struggled to send out patrols. During this period, several South Sudanese women were raped by soldiers from President Salva Kiir's Sudan People's Liberation Army. Peacekeeper’s deaths could have been prevented with a quicker response and better access to medical care. UN leadership has failed peacekeepers through inadequate emergency care and a timid response to government obstruction (8). Although the UN opened an investigation into the situation, it did not address these failures directly. Instead, the investigation resulted in Ban Ki-moon firing the Kenyan commander of peacekeeping forces in the country for failing to protect civilians.
This response resulted in Kenya pulling out its troops deployed in South Sudan as a form of protest against the UN. The Kenyan ministry expressed anger that this incident was unfairly blamed on a single individual, and said that Lieutenant General Ondieki was not to blame for violence that killed dozens of people (9). "What is clear is that UNMISS suffers from fundamental structural and systemic dysfunctionality, which has severely hindered its ability to discharge its mandate since its inception," the ministry said (10). Although the response by UNMISS was inadequate, improved trauma care and medical support is necessary to help them in their mission. The government of South Sudan has tried to relentlessly block UNMISS's movement, including trying to limit deployment of additional peacekeepers. Peacekeepers in the region need real support, including an arms embargo, instead of UN headquarters merely offering condemnations.
On December 1, South Sudan President Salva Kiir denied allegations by the United Nations that ethnic cleansing in the country's conflict is so bad that the stage is set for genocide."There's no such thing in South Sudan. There's no ethnic cleansing," he told Reuters news agency in the Johannesburg (11). Security guards prevented further questions.
Despite Kiir’s denial, the violence cannot be ignored. More than 4,000 people are crossing into Uganda daily, where the Bidibidi refugee settlement, open since August, now hosts some 188,000 people (12). Another 36,600 refugees have reached Ethiopia since early September, and more than 57,000 fled to Congo this year (13). It is the largest mass exodus of any conflict in Central Africa since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In the Equatorias region, the UN commission "heard numerous accounts of corpses being found along the main roads," the UN's Godfrey Musila said (14). Aid workers describe gang rape as so prevalent that it has become 'normal' in this environment (15). UN workers have heard villagers all over the country declaring that they are ready to shed blood to get their land back (16). Additionally, a cattle-raiding feud between rival ethnic groups in Jonglei state has left hundreds of people dead and some 100,000 displaced since South Sudan’s independence (17). The countless accounts of violence and mass human rights violations show that the political conflict has resulted in ethnic cleansing, despite Kiir’s protestations to the contrary.
The reasons behind the political crisis and civil war go beyond ethnic conflicts. Although the country is rich in oil, it is still one of Africa’s least developed economies. Instead of using oil money to fund infrastructure, health services or other initiatives that benefit the public good, oil money has been stolen by elites or spent on the military. Post-independence excess of money, as well as arrogance within the government, resulted in shutting down the national oil production because of a dispute with the northern Sudanese president. Kiir’s “big tent” policy, which in practice resulted in using state funds to buy loyalties by licensing corruption, required a large income, which no longer existed (18). This policy had the repercussion of intensified political competition within the ruling party. It was also highly problematic that the nation did not have a professionalized, institutionalized army, but rather a collection of militias.
Political conflict caused political identity to default into ethnic identity. In South Sudan, groups, including militias, have been historically organized on an ethnic basis. Likewise, the groups that have organized around the president––the militias that carried out the massacres in Juba in the first days of the conflict in December 2013––have organized on an ethnic basis (19). Political tension and ethnic-based fear and resentment has resulted in people turning inwards to their own ethnic groups for security. Riek Machar resorted to ethnic mobilization because it was quick and cheap. He could call upon the Nuer militia and the so-called “White Army” to mobilize almost overnight, as they have done for some 20 years (20). And then, inevitably, the conflict became primarily Nuer verse Dinka.
In order to prevent this civil war from turning into genocide, the international community needs to step in immediately. To avert continued mass bloodshed, the UN experts lists a number of steps: expedite the immediate arrival of the 4,000-strong Regional Protection Force in South Sudan; ensure that the force is not restricted only to the capital; freeze assets; enact targeted sanctions; and implement an arms embargo (21). Peacekeepers on the ground need the support of an arms embargo; otherwise, violence is going to continue to get out of control. Although the UN’s condemnations are a necessary step, it is important that it is followed up with actions that directly address the situation. There also needs to be immediate deployment of the regional protection force already approved by the UN Security Council in resolution 2304. The force's mandate should be expanded to include monitoring, disarming and demobilizing any armed group targeting civilians. In addition, the African Union Commission and the South Sudan government need to urgently establish the proposed Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS). Although it is imperative that the fighting is brought to an end, those responsible for crimes against humanity still need to be held accountable. The international community needs to act now to stop ethnic cleansing, genocide and state-collapse in South Sudan.
(1) Waal, Alex De. "Understanding the Roots of Conflict in South Sudan." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, 14 Sept. 2016. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.
(2) "UN: 'Ethnic Cleansing under Way' in South Sudan." Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network, 01 Dec. 2016. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.
(6) "Kenya Withdraws Troops from UN Mission in South Sudan." Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network, 03 Nov. 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
(8) Wells, Matt. "The UN Has Failed Its Peacekeepers in S Sudan." Al Jazeera English. Al Jazeera Media Network, 10 Sept. 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
(9) "Kenya Withdraws Troops from UN Mission in South Sudan." Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network, 03 Nov. 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
(11) "South Sudan Denies UN Allegations of 'ethnic Cleansing'" Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network, 1 Dec. 2016. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.
(14) "UN: 'Ethnic Cleansing under Way' in South Sudan." Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network, 01 Dec. 2016. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.
(17) "South Sudan Profile." BBC News. BBC, 27 Apr. 2016. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.
(18) Waal, Alex De. "Understanding the Roots of Conflict in South Sudan." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, 14 Sept. 2016. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.
(21) "Security Council Approves Regional Protection Force for UN Mission in South Sudan." UN News Center. United Nations, 12 Aug. 2016. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.
Image: © Paskee | Dreamstime.com - Fleeing the fights
The decision by South Africa, Burundi and the Gambia to leave the International Criminal Court sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the African countries under the Court’s jurisdiction. Created in 2002 and governed by the Rome Statute, a 1998 treaty, the ICC is the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity (1). The treaty had 124 member states including 34 African states, which represents the largest regional bloc of member states (2). Described as a “milestone in humankind’s efforts towards a more just world,” in the ICC’s founding documents, the Court aims to hold criminals accountable for their crimes and prevent atrocities from happening again (3).
Since then, many African countries have expressed dissatisfaction with the Court, which is located in The Hague, and have accused it of bias. The Gambia announced on October 25 that it would withdraw from the ICC, calling the Court an “‘International Caucasian Court’ for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans” (4). Burundi labeled the ICC as a ‘Western tool to target African governments’ (5). Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni called the ICC “useless” and praised South Africa’s decision to leave (6). Namibia is also reconsidering its membership. Additionally, the African Union earlier this year said it would consider a mass withdrawal from the Court––a proposal initiated by Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, who had previously appeared at The Hague on allegations of crimes against humanity (7). Despite this, the Court also has supporters in the region. At an African Union summit meeting in July, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia were among the countries that opposed a Kenyan-led drive for a group walkout (8).
Frustrations with the Court are not unwarranted. Nine out of 10 cases the Court is currently investigating are in African countries (Mali, Cote D’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Libya, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo). Georgia is the only country not in Africa facing an investigation. One example of bias is the fact that the Gambia has pressured the ICC to try and punish the European Union for the deaths of thousands of African migrants trying to reach its shores, yet has been unsuccessful. Additionally, the ICC’s unwillingness to prosecute Tony Blair for his role in the Iraq War is another example of institutional prejudice. Defending the Court against accusations of bias, the ICC’s top prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, a lawyer from the Gambia, points out that six of the nine African cases were brought to the Court by African governments and that two were referred by the United Nations Security Council (9). Also, supporters of the ICC argue that the focus on Africa was partly a result of the difficulties of conducting inquiries in other places and due to a prosecutorial strategy of going after high-level perpetrators (10). The Court has initiated preliminary investigations into situations in Palestine, the Ukraine, Colombia, Afghanistan, as well as the UK’s involvement in the Iraq War, but this preliminary caseload also includes investigations into Nigeria, Burundi, Guinea and Gabon (11).
South Africa’s decision to leave the ICC is especially problematic. The state announced it would leave in response to criticism that it had ignored an order to arrest President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, saying that handing a leader over to the ICC would amount to interference in another country's affairs (12). It's an unfortunate change of positions for a country that was a founding member of the Court in the years after South Africa emerged from apartheid and had a legacy of supporting international justice under Nelson Mandela’s rule. As one of Africa's most developed countries, it is a reasonable fear that more states will follow South Africa’s decision to leave the ICC in a snowball effect. The Gambia already has. Yet, the criticism that South Africa faced for not arresting Mr. Bashir was deserved. Mr. Bashir has been long sought by international prosecutors for charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide related to the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. His ability to elude the Court once again is seriously damaging to the six-year campaign to bring him to justice. As a member of the ICC, South Africa had international and domestic legal obligations to arrest the ICC fugitive.
Facing criticism from human rights groups for the Bashir situation, President Jacob Zuma justified the decision to quit the ICC by arguing it conflicted with the state’s obligations to the African Union to grant immunity to serving heads of states (13). U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Zuma to reconsider its plan to withdraw from the ICC saying he "appreciates the continued and unwavering commitment of the South African government to justice and accountability" and hopes it will reconsider its decision (14). Ban said that he regretted the ICC departures and that they could "send a wrong message on these countries' commitment to justice” (15). South Africa’s decision to leave was not based on the “bias” that has been an understandable criticism of the Court. Zuma’s decision was an attempt to protect leaders who have committed horrible crimes and was a betrayal to all of the victims who have suffered.
The African leaders who are being persecuted deserve to be. In April, ICC chief prosecutor announced an investigation that would begin in Burundi for acts of killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence (16). This would have most likely found controversial President Pierre Nkrunziza guilty of widespread violence. It is apparent that Burundi’s withdrawal is about protecting top leaders’ own interests and not about unfairness and geopolitical prejudice. Additionally, the Gambia justified their withdrawal as a response to geographical prejudice, yet the state has a questionable human rights record and had serious prospects of facing an ICC investigation eventually. If African states want to blame the Court for bias, that is understandable. Yet, that is not the real reason they are leaving. Domestic considerations, including the possibility of imminent prosecution, are the main motives behind ICC withdrawals.
The African Union has pressured its member states to withdraw from the ICC on grounds of alleged institutional bias. In January 2016, the AU met with the purpose of developing a “comprehensive strategy,” which included a withdrawal from the ICC and demanding that serving heads of state, including senior state officials, be granted immunity from prosecution (17). Giving serving heads of state immunity conflicts with the AU’s stated value of “justice.” Another conflict is that Article 4 of the constitutive act of the AU expressly rejects acts of impunity (18). Also, 2016 has been identified as the “African year of human rights with particular focus on the rights of women,” yet countries are backing out of their commitments to protect human rights. It is fraudulent that the AU claims to work in the best interests of the people, but wants impunity for African leaders that are committing atrocious crimes against African people.
If problems with the ICC were just about geographical prejudice, the African states would stay in the Court in order to reform it from within and make sure that the pursuit of justice is applied equally to all states and regions. Efforts need to be directed toward reforming the Court, not giving up on it and its goals of a more just world. If African states continue to back out and challenge the Court’s legitimacy, which is very possible due to South Africa’s influence, it could be fatal for an institution designed to protect the world’s most vulnerable people. The African states that do support the ICC need to continue to speak out and express their support of the institution as well as their continued commitment to human rights. Also, the ICC needs to find ways to work with the African Union and ensure that the ideals of justice and human rights are prioritized above state official impunity. It is necessary that the ICC maintains legitimacy for the sake of the victims who are abandoned and hurt by the governments that are supposed to be protecting them. South Africa, Burundi and the Gambia’s decision to leave further hurts their people and is an affront to decades of efforts in the global fight for human rights.
(1) Associated Press. "AP Explains: Why African States Have Started Leaving the ICC." Fox News. FOX News Network, 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.
(3) Chutel, Lynsey. "The African Leaders Leaving the International Criminal Court Actually Have a Chance to Fix It." Quartz Africa. Quartz Africa, 28 Oct. 2016. Web. 2 Nov. 2016.
(4) Jospeh, Abraham. "Why Did South Africa, Burundi and Gambia Decide to Leave the International Criminal Court?" The Wire. The Wire, 1 Nov. 2016. Web. 2 Nov. 2016.
(8) Chan, Sewell, and Marlise Simons. "South Africa to Withdraw From International Criminal Court." The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Oct. 2016. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.
(11) Chutel, Lynsey. "The African Leaders Leaving the International Criminal Court Actually Have a Chance to Fix It." Quartz Africa. Quartz Africa, 28 Oct. 2016. Web. 2 Nov. 2016.
(12) Associated Press. "AP Explains: Why African States Have Started Leaving the ICC." Fox News. FOX News Network, 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.
(13) Nichols, Michelle. "U.N. Chief Urges South Africa's Zuma to Reconsider Quitting ICC." Reuters. Reuters, 30 Oct. 2016. Web. 2 Nov. 2016.
(18) "Constitutive Act." African Union. The African Union Commission, 2001. Web. 2 Nov. 2016.
Image: © STRINGERimages | Dreamstime.com - The Flag And The International Criminal Court In Dramatic Colours Photo
Chinese culture has long been portrayed by the Western film and television industry in a negative light. Racism and stereotyping leads to many Asian cultures being lumped together and confused. Often times anything “Oriental” is referred to as Chinese, and cultural appropriation is not uncommon. Asian-American actors are often pigeonholed into the same types of roles, including the perpetual foreigner, the sidekick, or the nerd. For example, in the 1984 film Sixteen Candles, Long Duk Dong was a foreign exchange student whose clueless and drunken behavior provided comic relief at the expense of reinforcing stereotypes. Long Duk Dong has become a symbol of racist caricatures that have showed up in film or television over the years.
Although some might argue that the days of Chinese stereotypes being outright mocked in Western television and films are over, this is not true. On October 3, the Internet blew up after Fox News ran a segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” where reporter Jesse Watters interviewed Chinese immigrants on the streets of New York City’s Chinatown. The cringe-worthy segment used loaded questions and Asian stereotypes to mock Asian Americans. The video contained references to martial arts, Mr. Watters playing with nunchucks, getting a foot massage, and asking if watches being sold on the street were “hot”. The use of subtitles for speakers with accented but perfectly intelligible English bought into the perpetual foreigner syndrome. When one woman says she doesn’t want to vote for Mr. Trump so she was voting for Mrs. Clinton, Watters responds with, “So China can keep ripping us off.” Reacting to the video with disgust, elected officials and activists protested outside the Manhattan headquarters of Fox News. Mayor Bill de Blasio called the segment “vile” and Councilman Peter Koo said, “Passing off this blatantly racist television segment as ‘gentle fun’ not only validates racist stereotypes, it encourages them” (1).
Racist film and television plays into the xenophobia and anti-China sentiment that many Americans have. Since the majority of Americans will never visit China and have little formal education on the topic, it is easy for them to believe what they see on television. Fear-mongering politicians like Donald Trump, Republican U.S. Presidential candidate, often use China as a scapegoat for problems in the United States and claim it is a threat and hindrance to America’s growth. China was mentioned 12 times during the first presidential debate, mostly by Mr. Trump, who says he will “win” against China if he becomes president (2). This sort of divisive rhetoric is highly problematic as it seeks to bring conflict to Sino-American relations. The Sino-American relationship has been described by world leaders and academics as the world's most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century (3). Having shared political, economic, and security interests, creating an “us vs. them” mentality and positioning the countries at odds against one another is dangerous. For the benefit of both countries, as well as the rest of the world, it is necessary for Sino-American relations to be pragmatic.
One of the shared American and Chinese interests is that of the film industry. In recent years China has had growing interest and influence in Hollywood. Measured by movie ticket sales and the massive theater building boom, China is expected to become the world's largest film market next year. Chinese companies also continue to increase their investments in entertainment properties. Dalian Wanda Group purchased the Burbank production company Legendary Entertainment earlier this year, owns the AMC movie theater chain, and agreed to buy Carmike Cinemas for $1.1 billion, which would create the world’s largest cinema chain (4). Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. is also teaming up with Wanda to market its films in China (5). Additionally, Hollywood’s highest-grossing director, Steven Spielberg, is working with Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in a partnership that will help Mr. Spielberg’s Amblin Partners produce, finance, and distribute movies in China (6). In exchange, Alibaba will rely on Amblin to become a bigger part of Hollywood’s production and distribution scene (7).
Many people in the United States are worried about China’s growing influence in Hollywood. Sixteen members of Congress wrote a letter calling for scrutiny of Chinese investments in the U.S. film industry (8). These concerns are not misguided. In efforts to legitimize the continued rule of the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping has waged a soft-power campaign to improve China’s global reputation and increase its influence abroad. The campaign requires artists, filmmakers, writers, academics, and the media to “serve socialism” and show “positive energy” by offering uplifting messages about the party (9). A movie cannot play in China unless it is approved by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (10). American studios that want films distributed in China either submit to Beijing’s censors or self-censor. China’s poor history with respect toward human rights, its authoritarian governance, and mass censorship leads to legitimate concerns about the films the party will approve. Many people are worried about Chinese propaganda slipping into films as well as censorship of any criticism. Therefore, calls for scrutiny of Chinese investments and what films are produced are not wrong. Being a country that upholds creative freedom, the film industry needs to be careful about protecting itself against pressures from the Chinese Communist Party.
Despite this, the partnerships between China and Hollywood also have many benefits. As China is to become the leading film market, appealing to Chinese audiences is inevitable for American companies. The Chinese market is a place to make up for lost ground if a movie fares poorly in the United States. Many films that are expensive to make depend on the added revenue of overseas sales. Also, distribution partnerships are increasingly important for Hollywood studios, since they have little control over how a movie is marketed or released in China. By working with Chinese firms, American companies can have more control. China and Hollywood working together not only brings economic benefits, but cultural ones. In reference to his partnership with Alibaba, Steven Spielberg said, “We can do co-productions between our company and your company, and we can bring more of China to America, and more of America to China” (11). As the United States and China continue their bilateral relationship it is important for citizens of both countries to better understand each other’s culture to reduce xenophobia and racism. Growing Chinese influence in production should limit the racist and stereotypical portrayals of Chinese culture and people in Western film and television. Although scrutiny of Chinese propaganda is not mistaken, efforts to completely limit Chinese influence in film could precipitate dangerous federal regulation of culture. As China’s influence in Hollywood continues to grow, it is important that a pragmatic approach is taken to preserve favorable Sino-American relations.
(1) Stack, Liam. "Protest Against Fox Correspondent Accused of Racism for Chinatown Interviews." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 6 Oct. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
(2) DiChristopher, Tom. "Jack Ma: I'm Not Worried about Anti-China Sentiment on Campaign Trail." CNBC. NBCUniversal, 1 Sept. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
(3) Gul, Ferdinand A., and Haitian Lu. Truths and Half Truths: China's Socio-economic Reforms (1978-2010). Oxford: Chandos Pub., 2011. Print.
(4) Hammond, Ed, Anousha Sakoui, and Alex Sherman. "AMC's $1.1 Billion Carmike Deal Makes China Movie Powerhouse." Bloomberg. Bloomberg, 3 Mar. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
(5) Ma, Wayne, and Erich Schwartzel. "Sony and Wanda Team Up to Market Films in China." Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 23 Sept. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
(6) Abkowitz, Alyssa, and Erich Schwartzel. "Alibaba Goes to Hollywood in Deal With Steven Spielberg’s ..." Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc, 10 Oct. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
(8) Daly, Robert. "Hollywood’s Dangerous Obsession with China." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 7 Oct. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
(11) Abkowitz, Alyssa, and Erich Schwartzel. "Alibaba Goes to Hollywood in Deal With Steven Spielberg’s ..." Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc, 10 Oct. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
Image: © Waihs | Dreamstime.com - Shenzhen, China: Cinema Photo
A report released by the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program has shed light on the human rights violations faced by those held in Canadian immigration detention centers. Canada’s policy of detaining children or separating them from their detained parents is not only inhumane, but also violates international human rights standards. Many children are held in facilities that resemble medium-security prisons and some are held in young offender centers, or even solitary confinement (1). Approximately 242 children were held in Canadian immigration detention every year between 2010 and 2014 (2). That figure excludes the many children who stay in detention with their parents in order to avoid separation, taken by a child protection agency.
The practice of detaining children is part of a larger issue that plagues Canada’s immigration detention system. In 2012, the Canadian parliament passed Bill C-31, which permits the government to designate a group of incoming migrants as “irregular arrivals,” subjecting them to mandatory detention with limited judicial review (3). The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has the power to detain non-citizens deemed to be a flight risk, who pose a threat to public safety (less than 2% of those detained) and those whose identities cannot be confirmed (4). Canadian law sets no limit on the amount of time these migrants can be held. According to the Canada Border Services Agency, there are, on average, 450 to 500 people who are detained at any given time under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (5). Many detainees are refugees, victims of smuggling and human trafficking, or people that do not want to leave their family members behind. People detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act are not criminals, nor are they facing criminal charges, yet many are treated as such.
The abusive nature of these facilities often results in psychological trauma that can continue long after being released from detention. Unable to experience childhood normalcy, children are given few chances to play and receive inadequate education. Even short periods of detention have negative consequences for children. Research shows that children react to immigration detention with “extreme distress,” become aggressive, display separation anxiety, have difficulty sleeping, and suffer loss of appetite (6). It is a complicated situation because even if children are released from detention, the emotional distress from family separation can be even more damaging. Additionally, a Red Cross investigation in 2014 found numerous shortcomings at facilities for immigrant detainees, including overcrowding and inadequate mental health care (7). Newcomers are often held in provincial jails or police facilities alongside violent criminals. Since 2000, at least 15 people have died in the custody of the CBSA, including 3 people by suicide (8).
The unfair detainment of children hurts Canada’s reputation as a global human rights supporter. Canada has signed international agreements, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that any detention has to be done as a last resort and for the least amount of time possible. Canada’s defiance of human rights standards has resulted in criticism from the international community, including the United Nations who labeled Canada’s treatment of immigration detainees as cruel and unusual (9). In 2015, the UN Human Rights Committee urged Canada to refrain from detaining “irregular migrants” for indefinite periods, to ensure that detention is used as a measure of last resort, and to provide refugee claimants with access to an appeal (10). The committee also urged Canada to provide essential healthcare services to all refugee claimants, including medical support for mental health conditions (11). Additionally, the committee recommended that Canada establish effective, adequate, and well-resourced oversight mechanisms for national security and intelligence agencies, including the CBSA which has the sole power to arrest and detain non-citizens on administrative grounds (12).
In response to the criticism, Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced in August that the Canadian Immigration Detention Program is to get a $138-million makeover (13). The government's reform objectives include increasing the availability of alternatives to detention, reducing the use of provincial jails for detention to prevent the interaction of immigration and criminal detainees, avoiding the detention of minors in the facilities as much as possible, improving physical and mental health care offered to those detained, and maintaining ready access to facilities for agencies such as the Red Cross, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as legal and spiritual advisers (14). The End Immigration Detention Network says reforms are welcome, but the system is inherently unfair (15).
"Immigration detention including in immigration holding centers is imprisonment without charges or trial. It should end, not be expanded by throwing over a hundred million dollars at it," the Network's spokesperson Tings Chak said (16).
The steps being made by Canada to reform its Immigration Detention Program are a step in the right direction. Yet, only time will tell how seriously the government takes its promise to seek out alternative methods for detention and family separation, which should be the main priority. Other countries, such as Sweden and Hong Kong, allow children to reside with their families in the community through reporting requirements, financial deposits, supervision programs, and electronic monitoring of parents (17). Detention is not only inhumane, but also more costly with lower compliance rates, compared to these alternative methods (18). Programs like this should be what Canada is investing in, not just improving the conditions of detainment. Detaining people, including children, solely because of their immigration status is an unacceptable violation of human rights. Canada must act swiftly and efficiently to create humane policy alternatives, including thoughtful refugee resettlement reform, to end the tragic suffering of families and children.
(1) Kassam, Ashifa. "Canada Detains Hundreds of Children for Immigration Violations, Report Finds." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.
(3) Muscati, Samer. "Canada." Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 28 Jan. 2016. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.
(4) Kassam, Ashifa. "Canada Detains Hundreds of Children for Immigration Violations, Report Finds." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.
(5) "Canada's Immigration Detention Program to Get $138M Makeover." CBC News Montreal. CBC Radio Canada, 15 Aug. 2016. Web. 2 Oct. 2016.
(6) Bochenek, Michael Garcia. "Canada's Detention of Children." Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.
(7) "Canada's Immigration Detention Program to Get $138M Makeover." CBC News Montreal. CBC Radio Canada, 15 Aug. 2016. Web. 2 Oct. 2016.
(8) Kassam, Ashifa. "Canada Detains Hundreds of Children for Immigration Violations, Report Finds." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.
(9) "UN Human Rights Committee's 2015 Concluding Observation on Canada." University of Toronto Faculty of Law. University of Toronto, 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.
(13) "Canada's Immigration Detention Program to Get $138M Makeover." CBC News Montreal. CBC Radio Canada, 15 Aug. 2016. Web. 2 Oct. 2016.
(17) Bochenek, Michael Garcia. "Canada's Detention of Children." Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.
Image: © Alexskopje | Dreamstime.com - Immigrant visa form
With help from students at the USC Gould School of Law, two Tanzanian teenage sisters have been granted asylum in the United States. Tindi Mashamba and Bibiana Mashamba were born with albinism, a genetic condition that inhibits the body’s ability to produce melanin, a pigment that protects the skin from the sun and enables it to take color. Due to their white skin, the sisters were targeted and attacked in their home country of Tanzania. After both of their parents had passed away, the girls’ home was invaded and Bibiana’s leg and two fingers were cut off by poachers and sold. Fearing for their lives if they had to return home after their tourist visas expired, the sisters were very happy that their asylum was granted and that they would be able to attend school in California.
Unfortunately, this horrific case is not rare. Albinos across Tanzania and East Africa live their lives in fear as they are persecuted and discriminated against. Thought to bring good luck and wealth, their body parts are sold to witchdoctors, or ‘mgangi’ (1). Tragically, since the first documented murder of an albino in Tanzania in 2006, the situation has escalated (2). Although the witchdoctors once used hair, fingernails, and urine of albinos to produce their charms and magic potions, they have now turned to use the arms, legs, bones, inner organs, and genitals of albinos (3). Children are sometimes even stolen from their mother's arms by traffickers. According to the United Nations, the most dangerous country for albinos worldwide is Tanzania where 156 have been attacked, mutilated, or killed since 2006 (4). Since many attacks are never reported, the number is believed to be much higher. Tanzania has the highest rate of albinism in the world with an estimated 1 in 1,400 children born with albinism, compared to a worldwide rate of 1 in 20,000 (5).
Lacking education surrounding the medical condition has resulted in superstitious beliefs that have been deeply imbedded into the culture. In Tanzania, albinos are described as immortal spirits, and people attribute supernatural powers to them. Although some believe albinos bring luck, others believe that they are curses that result from having sex with an evil spirit called a 'tokolosh' (6). Some also believe having sexual intercourse with an albino can cure AIDS which leads to rapes, even against children (7). Albino children are often abandoned by their parents and teased at school. Tindi and Babiana were often beat by their teachers. Many men leave their wives if they give birth to a baby with albinism, and mothers are often advised to poison their albino babies. It is very difficult for them to receive adequate education or find paid work (8).
Another major problem that contributes to this mass human rights violation is the poverty that plagues the region. The basin of Lake Victoria is where many of the murders and mutilations happen (9). Although millions of people around Lake Victoria depend on fishing for their livelihoods, the industry has been struggling for years now (10). It is believed that fishermen are responsible for many of the attacks as they not only make money off the body parts, but they use the witchdoctor’s charms to bring themselves wealth and luck. Albino body parts are traded on the international black market and albino skin can go for £6,000, internal organs for £65,000, and a whole body for £130,000 (11). This is a lot of money for someone living in one of the poorest countries in the world. Desperation leads to poachers doing whatever they can to make money, even if it comes at the expense of the basic human rights of others.
Efforts made by the government to stop this persecution have been ineffective. Even though the government of Tanzania has banned witchdoctors, it will not end the problem. Since witchdoctors are very common and many politicians frequent them, they are not going to go away with simply a ban. Corruption in the government enables the attacks on people with albinism. Elections are a frightening time for people in Tanzania. The director of Under the Same Sun in Tanzania, which fights for the rights of albinos worldwide, has said that mgangas have admitted that they help politicians to win elections by making magic potions for them using albino body parts (12). It is very disappointing that the government officials, who should be protecting their people, are contributing to the murder and attacks against people with albinism. In addition, according to the United Nations, in only 1 in 5 cases of albino murder was the accused punished (13). This lack of accountability allows violent criminals to go free and continue to hurt others. It also sends a horrible message to the community that this human rights violation is allowed by the government.
To address the attacks and discrimination faced by those with albinism in the region, the first-ever United Nations-sponsored regional forum for Action on Albinism in Africa took place in Tanzania in June (14). United Nations independent expert on albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, explained that there are many specific and effective measures that countries have used to help tackle the problems those with albinism face including “having a dedicated office and budget on the issue, creating a telephone hotline to report crimes and threats, regulating 'witchcraft' and traditional medicine practitioners among others” (15). Over 150 people from 28 countries in the region gathered in Dar es Salaam to create a continental roadmap of specific measures aimed at dealing with the human rights issues faced by these people (16). Although it will not be easy to come up with exact measures to solve all the problems, the Action on Albinism forum was a step in the right direction to ensure that those with albinism are no longer persecuted and have their human rights protected.
The persecution of people with albinism for their body parts is not only disturbing, but also a mass human rights violation that needs to be stopped. Stemming from poverty and lacking education surrounding the disorder, the community needs to be educated about albinism and the necessary respect for human rights. Research must also be conducted on why the witchdoctors ask for albino body parts and why the superstitions are so widely believed. In addition, corruption in the government needs to be addressed as the respect for life and laws must come from the top on down. Even though there is no immediate solution for this issue, hopefully Tanzania and other countries in East Africa can address this problem to protect the human rights of all who live with albinism.
(1) Obert, Michael. "'His Blade Was Dull. He Hacked and Hacked. There Was a Jerk, My Arm Tore Off. That's When I Screamed': Tanzania's Hunted Albinos Relive the Horror of Their Limbs Being Stolen by Witchdoctors Who Buy an Arm for £1,000 and a Head for 'double'" Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 16 July 2015. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
(5) Corey, Charlton. "The 'ghost People' of Tanzania: The Albino Community Who Live in Fear of Being Hunted down and Hacked to Pieces for Their Body Parts Which Are Treasured by Witch Doctors." Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers, 18 Feb. 2016. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
(6) Obert, Michael. "'His Blade Was Dull. He Hacked and Hacked. There Was a Jerk, My Arm Tore Off. That's When I Screamed': Tanzania's Hunted Albinos Relive the Horror of Their Limbs Being Stolen by Witchdoctors Who Buy an Arm for £1,000 and a Head for 'double'" Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers, 16 July 2015. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
(7) Corey, Charlton. "The 'ghost People' of Tanzania: The Albino Community Who Live in Fear of Being Hunted down and Hacked to Pieces for Their Body Parts Which Are Treasured by Witch Doctors." Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers, 18 Feb. 2016. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
(8) Obert, Michael. "'His Blade Was Dull. He Hacked and Hacked. There Was a Jerk, My Arm Tore Off. That's When I Screamed': Tanzania's Hunted Albinos Relive the Horror of Their Limbs Being Stolen by Witchdoctors Who Buy an Arm for £1,000 and a Head for 'double'" Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers, 16 July 2015. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
(14) "First-ever UN Forum on Albinism in Africa to Focus on 'less Talk, More Action'"UN News Center. UN, 15 June 2016. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
Image: © Djembe | Dreamstime.com - African albino
The burkini, a full-body bathing suit designed to conform to Islamic modesty codes, has caused quite the controversy in France. This summer, the burkini has been banned in more than 30 French towns and resorts as a response to concerns about radical Islamic terrorism (1). The ban was justified according to the Cannes government because “beach attire that ostentatiously displays a religious affiliation, while France and places of worship are the target of terrorist acts, is likely to create risks to public order” (2). In response to the ban, France’s highest administrative court ruled it violates fundamental liberties and is illegal as there were no proven risks of disruption to public order, or reasons of hygiene or decency for the ban (3). Yet, 22 towns in France are maintaining a ban on the burkini despite the court rulings (4). Tensions are high between those who see the laws as a violation of religious freedom and those who view the burkini as inconsistent with France's high regard for secularism.
The refusal to uphold the court mandated right to a burkini is adding to the political tension in France. Cogolin Mayor Marc Etienne Lansade, of the right-wing National Front political party, intends to enforce the ban until September 15, saying that women are forced to wear burkinis and that the government must protect them from this pressure (5). French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the burkini a "symbol of the enslavement of women," and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called wearing the burkini a “provocation” (6). Ignoring both religious liberties and the ruling of the courts, politicians have been called out for manipulating the situation for political gain, and using it to deliberately target Muslim women following a string of terrorist attacks. Sefen Guez Guez, an attorney for the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, has claimed that the bans were part of a political agenda aimed at winning elections and not a necessary security precaution (7).
Human rights activists argue that efforts to outlaw the burkini are Islamophobic. The United Nations have labeled the bans in France as "a grave and illegal breach of fundamental freedoms" and a "stupid reaction" to recent extremist attacks (8). The Collective Against Islamophobia in France plans to sue each municipality maintaining the ban on the burkini (9). There has also been international outrage amongst the public after photos of armed police forcing a Muslim woman to take off her clothing layers on a beach in Nice were circulated on the internet. The woman was publicly humiliated as others on the beach yelled degrading comments at her and cheered the French police on. In response, Twitter users posted photos of nuns wading into the water wearing their habits and called out the French government for the hypocrisy that they didn’t make the nuns take their clothes off too (10). Others shared photos of a man wearing a wetsuit in comparison to a woman wearing a burkini, emphasizing the ridiculousness that the wetsuit was deemed appropriate while the burkini wasn't (11).
While the French politicians maintain their stance that the burkini is a provocative political danger and representative of the enslavement of women, the designer of the swimsuit, Lebanese-Australian inventor, Aheda Zanetti, said that many people have misunderstood it. She explains that she created it for women who want to maintain modesty while still having the freedom to enjoy an active lifestyle and participate in any sporting activities (12). “The burkini swimsuit is freedom and happiness and lifestyle changes — you can’t take that away from a Muslim, or any other woman, that chooses to wear it,” Ms. Zanetti said (13). Many women choose to wear the burkini out of desire for comfort and because they are proud of their religious culture. One Muslim woman explained that she wore a burkini because she did not like having her body too exposed in public due to the over-sexualizing nature of society (14). Forcing a woman to strip in public so that they show more skin is an abuse of power. The mayors that have created the bans have done so not for legitimate concern for the freedom of the women, but to make a political statement to showcase their authority to mandate what a woman can put on her body.
Even though it is true that many women living in Islamic countries experience harsh repression and are forced into wearing very modest clothes, banning their right to wear them is not the right answer. It is counterintuitive that the French government wants to free women from their oppression of restrictive clothing, yet they impose laws restricting what they can wear. It is also sexist to assume that just because a Muslim woman is wearing modest clothing that she is oppressed and “in need of saving.” The politicians claim that they want to free these women from their enslavement, but they are not actually giving these women the freedom to wear what they want or have a voice in this debate. If the French want to free women from oppression, they should promote freedom of religion, instead of imposing a facade of equality upon them against their will.
The banning of the burkini is just one part of the larger issue. The French concept of state secularism, laïcité, is a defining principle of the republic that repeatedly comes in conflict with Muslim beliefs. In theory, laïcité promotes secularism and keeping religious belief private. However, in practice, laïcité has enabled discrimination. Regulations aimed at Islam have increased over the years with a ban of wearing headscarves in public high schools in 2004, another law banning the full-faced veil in public spaces in 2010 and now the ban of the burkini (15). Although Muslim students might not wear head scarves, some schools hold Mass every day, and nearly every French state holiday is a Roman Catholic holy day (16). Likewise, nuns are allowed to wear clothes that cover their bodies on the beach, but Muslim women are denied the same right. If France is really going to use the justification of secularism either everything must be allowed or everything must be banned. Politicians cannot continue manipulating laïcité to specifically target those of Muslim belief.
The recent terrorist attacks in France have been tragic and the concern over radical Islam is understandable. Though, by banning the burkini, the French officials are giving into the fear and hatred that the radicals depend on. The public humiliation of a Muslim woman by forcing her to take off her clothes in public only fuels the radicals’ belief that Western countries are at war with Islam. France is supposed to be a country of liberty, equality and fraternity, but Muslim women are being denied these rights. Everyone should have religious freedom and the right to wear what they want. Instead of calming religious tensions, the bans have had the opposite effect. The ban on the burkini is not only illegal, but also ridiculously misguided.
(1)Mortensen, Antonia, and Angela Dewan. "French Towns Maintain Burkini Bans despite Court Rulings." CNN. Cable News Network, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
(2) Breeden, Aurelien, and Lilia Blaise. "Cannes, Citing Security Risks, Bans Full-Body ‘Burkinis’ From Its Beaches." The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 Aug. 2016. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
(3) Sims, Alexandra. "Burkini Ban in Cannes Overturned as French Court Rules Decree 'violates Basic Freedoms'" The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
(4) Mortensen, Antonia, and Angela Dewan. "French Towns Maintain Burkini Bans despite Court Rulings." CNN. Cable News Network, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
(5) Mortensen, Antonia, and Angela Dewan. "French Towns Maintain Burkini Bans despite Court Rulings." CNN. Cable News Network, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
(8) Sims, Alexandra. "Burkini Ban in Cannes Overturned as French Court Rules Decree 'violates Basic Freedoms'" The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
(9) Mortensen, Antonia, and Angela Dewan. "French Towns Maintain Burkini Bans despite Court Rulings." CNN. Cable News Network, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
(10) Rubin, Alissa J. "French ‘Burkini’ Bans Provoke Backlash as Armed Police Confront Beachgoers." The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Aug. 2016. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
(12) Bilefsky, Dan. "France’s Burkini Debate Reverberates Around the World." The New York Times. The New York Times, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
(14) Readers, Guardian, and Carmen Fishwick. "Why We Wear the Burkini: Five Women on Dressing Modestly at the Beach." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
(15) Erlanger, Steven, and Kimiko De Freytas-tamura. "Old Tradition of Secularism Clashes With France’s New Reality." The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.
Image: © Gabriel Petrescu | Dreamstime.com - Women dressed in traditional Islamic dress on beach
On August 10th, The Guardian released 2,000 leaked incident reports from Australia’s detention camp for asylum seekers on the remote Pacific island of Nauru (1). Many prisoners on the island are refugees who were transferred there after they arrived by boat to Australia. The Australian government opened Nauru, along with another camp on Manus Island, as a way to deter asylum seekers from attempting a dangerous voyage to Australia by sea and to make clear they will not be settled in Australia.
The Nauru files, which total more than 8,000 pages, detail the assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse, and contemptible living conditions endured by those in detention (2). More than half of the 2,116 reports involve children, although children made up only about 18% of those in detention on Nauru during the time covered by the reports (3). Verbally abused by security guards on a daily basis, children are growing up at these camps with their dreams of a better life forgotten. Traumatized and disturbed, many detainees develop mental disorders. Seeing no hope in their situation or life, many prisoners turn to self-harm or suicide. A psychologist who worked in the center told Guardian Australia that 98% of the people he dealt with were suicidal (4). The horrible living conditions and cruelty from guards has led to desperation. Self-harm, including lip sewing, has become a way for prisoners to protest and express how voiceless and powerless they feel.
More than 100 former employees from the Nauru and Manus detention centers have signed a letter calling for detainees to be brought to Australia (5). Having seen the brutal conditions and desperation of the prisoners firsthand, the signees explain that a Parliamentary Inquiry into the situation does not go far enough and the crisis needs immediate response (6). In addition, more than 1,800 academics from universities across Australia have signed a letter to the prime minister calling for an end to offshore processing, boat turn backs, and mandatory detention (7). The letter also argues Australia must work with other states in the Asia-Pacific region to create a regional refugee resettlement framework based on equity, capacity, and responsibility (8). The academics explained the need for a national policy summit to bring together asylum seekers, advocates, policy experts, community representatives, and politicians from all parties to create “a more just and humane approach to refugees” (9).
The publication of the Nauru files has also led to international outcry. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, delivered a scornful assessment of Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva (10). The statement condemned the hostile treatment of these men, women, and children, and added that Australia’s cruel deterrence policies have set a pitiful benchmark for its regional neighbors (11). As the Australian government claimed no abuse had been happening, Amnesty International accused Australia of a "mass cover-up” (12). Amnesty International called for the end of offshore processing and immediate resettlement of all refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island (13). They also explained the need of prisoners to be given medical and psychological support as many have been driven to the brink of a physical or mental breakdown by their treatment on Nauru (14). Additionally, journalists and people all over the world have spoken out about this human rights violation. The recent #LetThemStay campaign expressed the public opinion that the camps were fundamentally wrong and cruel.
Despite this, Australia’s minister for immigration and border protection, Peter Dutton, said the country’s refusal to accept asylum seekers who try to reach its shores by boat will not change (15). Leaders of Australia’s governing parties have said the country’s zero-tolerance policy has created a steady decrease in the number of asylum seekers attempting to reach their shores, and the officials have shown few signs of wanting to change the policy (16). Although it is understandable that they would not want people dying by boat in their attempt to seek asylum, this policy is misled, as it seeks to end human suffering by just resorting to another form of human suffering.
Yet, public pressure resulting from the release of the Nauru files has caused the Papua New Guinea government to announce it will close its offshore detention center on Manus Island. This announcement came less than a day after former and current staff members denounced the camps.
"Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are in agreement that the center is to be closed," Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said on Facebook (17).
Unfortunately, with no timeline, the closure will not be rushed, and no one from the camps will be settled in Australia. Additionally, only the Manus Island center is scheduled to be closed, while the Nauru center remains open.
Although there has yet to be an announcement for the closure of the Nauru center, it is likely to come soon. This prediction is likely not only based upon widespread criticism of the camp and the closure of the Manus Island center, but also because Ferrovial, the Spanish multinational that runs the camps on Nauru and Manus, does not want to continue when its current contract expires (18). Profiting from human suffering has both hurt the company's reputation and has potential legal consequences. Ferrovial’s financial stakeholders have also faced criticism as a recent report released by the Human Rights Law Centre and GetUp’s No Business in Abuse campaign reveals the global banks and corporate investors linked to the camps and calls on them to take immediate action to end the business relationships that associate them with human rights abuse (19). The Australian government’s efforts to extend the contract despite Ferrovial’s indication that it does not want to continue suggests that there are not contractors lined up to fill Ferrovial’s position.
Even though there is hope that the Nauru detention camp will eventually close, the Australian government needs to be held accountable and create immediate policy change. Enough lives have been irrevocably damaged and the denial of the abuse can no longer continue. Using costly and cruel measures to try and stop migration is inhumane and misguided. These camps not only are fundamentally wrong and cruel, but also violate international law. Built on the desire for political expediency, the offshore camps were never a long-term solution. The Australian government needs to create humane policy alternatives that include thoughtful refugee resettlement reform. Australia’s international reputation has been extremely damaged thanks to this gross human rights injustice. Nauru needs to close.
(1) Farrell, Paul, Nick Evershed, and Helen Davidson. "The Nauru Files: Cache of 2,000 Leaked Reports Reveal Scale of Abuse of Children in Australian Offshore Detention." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 10 Aug. 2016. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
(4) Davidson, Helen, and Ben Doherty. "More than 100 Current and Former Nauru and Manus Staff Call for Detention Centres to Close." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 16 Aug. 2016. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
(10) Webb, Daniel. "UN Human Rights Chief Condemns Australian Government's "hostility and Contempt" towards Refugees | Human Rights Law Centre." Human Rights Law Centre. Human Rights Law Centre, 16 June 2015. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
(12) "Australia: Reaction to The Guardian's Damning 'Nauru Files' on Refugee Abuse." Amnesty International. Amnesty International, 09 Aug. 2016. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
(15) Cole, Brett. "Australia Will Close Detention Center on Manus Island, but Still Won’t Accept Asylum Seekers." The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 Aug. 2016. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
(17) Westcott, Ben, Judy Kwon, and Hilary Whiteman. "Australia to Close Manus Island Refugee Detention Center." CNN. Cable News Network, 17 Aug. 2016. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
(18) Ball, Rachel, and Daniel Webb. "Offshore Detention Was Destined to Fail. The Collapse Might Be Closer than You Think | Rachel Ball and Daniel Webb." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 08 Aug. 2016. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.
Image: © David Hewison | Dreamstime.com - Free Refugee Rally - Don't Send Them Back!
The Zika virus epidemic plaguing much of South America has sparked international debate over reproductive health rights in Brazil. In April, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects (1). This epidemic has caused many women to seek alternative reproductive choices, including abortion. However under Brazilian law, abortions are illegal unless the woman's life is at risk, she was raped, or the fetus has anencephaly –– a rare condition in which part of the brain or skull is missing (2). There is no exception for microcephaly or other developmental defects caused by Zika (3). The Brazilian government’s refusal to decriminalize abortions and provide safe healthcare for women is a violation of international human rights standards.
Strict anti-abortion laws force women to resort to unsafe and illegal abortions. There are as many as 900,000 illegal abortions in Brazil each year (4). These laws particularly burden low-income women who do not have the means to find a person qualified to assist with their needs related to reproductive health. Women who cannot afford black market abortion pills, which carry the added risk of being counterfeit, may resort to drinking unsafe chemicals, inserting sharp objects into the uterus, and even taking their own lives (5). The number of women who sought medical attention for botched abortions last year was greater than the number of women who received legal abortions by nearly 100 to 1 (6). Additionally, after the connection between Zika and birth defects made headlines, there was a spike in demand for illegal abortion pills like misoprostol, according to Women on Web, which provides medication for women who are seeking an abortion in countries where it is banned (7). In December, Brazilian Customs seized over 26,000 abortion pills coming into the country (8).
A study by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization found that abortion is just as prevalent in countries where it is prohibited as it is in countries where abortion is legal (9). Therefore, making abortion illegal is not going to decrease the number of abortions that occur. Since illegal abortions are often dangerous to a woman’s health, having access to safe and legal abortions can prevent unnecessary death or suffering. Highly restrictive abortion laws violate women's human rights based on agreements made at the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (10).
Adding to the problem, Zika detection and diagnosis is also expensive. To identify if you have Zika, the cost in private labs is close to 1000 reais (just over 250 USD)–– a price that the majority of women cannot afford (11). Additional financial strains are placed on women because many are abandoned by their partners once they get pregnant or after the baby is born. Some well-off Brazilian women are able to afford relocating to other regions in order to give birth to a healthy child. One woman, Brazilian radiologist Juliana Salviano, and her husband might spend around $15,000 on rent and other expenses while she stays temporarily in South Florida during her baby’s gestation (12). Unfortunately, the majority of women cannot afford to just leave Brazil.
Former Brazilian Health Minister José Gomes Temporão explained that Brazilian women are prisoners of laws that are created and approved by men (13). A country where conservative religious influence is strong, sexual and reproductive health services are criminalized or unavailable. Stigmatization and lack of knowledge about reproductive health choices has led to high rates of teenage pregnancies region-wide. For example, 38 percent of girls and women in the region get pregnant before the age of 20 (14). UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein argued that laws and policies that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services must be repealed, and that women must have the information, support, and services they need to exercise their right to determine whether and when they become pregnant (15).
Efforts made by South American governments to deal with this problem have been inadequate. In December, a high-ranking Brazilian health official advised women to postpone getting pregnant because of the Zika outbreak (16). Other countries in Latin America have also issued similar warnings, such as El Salvador, which advised women not to get pregnant until 2018 (17). In an environment where sexual violence is so common, women cannot control when or under what circumstances they get pregnant. Telling women to just avoid pregnancy is oversimplifying the problem and ignoring key issues, including men’s failure to honor the rights of women and girls.
Conservative governments and institutions have been exercising their influence to counter progress, including religious leaders who are vowing to resist any effort to ease Brazil’s abortion laws (18). In addition, politicians in Brazil are drafting plans to make abortion laws even more harsh, with jail terms of 4.5 years for women who abort fetuses with microcephaly (19). Alvaro Ciarlini, a judge and constitutional law expert, said the chances of changing Brazil’s abortion laws are remote (20). Ciarlini argued that the Supreme Court made this clear in its 2012 decision when it ruled that abortion was permissible only when it was certain the mother’s life was endangered or the fetus would be stillborn, rather than disabled or deformed (21).
Despite this, Judge Coelho de Alcantara of Brazil went against the country’s ban on abortion by announcing he will allow women to end a pregnancy in cases of microcephaly (22). Having public officials come out in support of abortion rights is not enough, if the conversation around the issue is to be reshaped. In order to win the long fight for reproductive health rights, women need to be educated on what their rights are and advocate for them. Reproductive health services need to be destigmatized, and sexual education needs to be taught in schools. If abortion rights are ever going to be respected in Brazil, there needs to be a continuous fight for policy change and legislation that uphold the health rights of women. The Zika epidemic is already terrifying enough for Brazilian women, and their lack of health rights only worsens the situation.
(1) "CDC Concludes Zika Causes Microcephaly and Other Birth Defects." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Apr. 2016. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.
(2) Mcdonald, Brent. "Brazil’s Abortion Restrictions Compound Challenge of Zika Virus." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 18 May 2016. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.
(10) "Abortion - A Matter of Human Rights and Social Justice." Women on Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
(11) "Is Zika a Tipping Point in the Fight for Reproductive Rights in Latin America?" Global Fund for Women. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016
(12) Johnson, Reed. "In Brazil, Zika Fuels Abortion Debate." The Wall Street Journal. News Corp, 8 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
(14) "Is Zika a Tipping Point in the Fight for Reproductive Rights in Latin America?" Global Fund for Women. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016
(15) "Upholding Women's Human Rights Essential to Zika Response." OHCHR. United Nations, 5 Feb. 2015. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
(16) Mcdonald, Brent. "Brazil’s Abortion Restrictions Compound Challenge of Zika Virus." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 18 May 2016. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.
(18) "Is Zika a Tipping Point in the Fight for Reproductive Rights in Latin America?" Global Fund for Women. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016
(20) Johnson, Reed. "In Brazil, Zika Fuels Abortion Debate." The Wall Street Journal. News Corp, 8 Mar.
2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
(22) "Is Zika a Tipping Point in the Fight for Reproductive Rights in Latin America?" Global Fund for Women. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
Image: © Junior Braz | Dreamstime.com - <a href="https://www.dreamstime.com/editorial-stock-photo-facade-vital-brazil-building-butantan-institute-sao-paulo-june-founded-producer-image73713578#res14972580">Facade of Vital Brazil Building in Butantan Institute</a>
Since being sworn into office in May, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to cooperate with the United Nations and has ignored international human rights standards. In a recent speech, Duterte declared that the Philippines would not honor its commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement, a global climate deal. “You are trying to stifle us,” Duterte said. “That’s stupid. I will not honour that” (1). When an ambassador reminded him that the Philippines signed the deal, Duterte said, “That was not my signature. Somebody else’s, not mine” (2).
The agreement was created during the 21st Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in France last December (3). The historic UN pact, agreed to by 195 countries including the Philippines, aims to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit) and strives to keep temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels (4). The signatories are also required to step up measures that will stop the increase of greenhouse gas emissions (5). The Philippines, under then president Benigno Aquino III, committed to reducing carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 (6). The agreement does not include consequences for countries that fail to meet their emission reduction goals.
Duterte has criticized the international climate agreement in the past. He previously accused the UN of being hypocritical for creating a pact that requires all countries to make greenhouse gas cuts, while rich countries have been the ones to release the most contaminants (7). Duterte feels that developed countries that have already benefited from industrialization are trying to dictate and stifle the growth of other nations. Although Duterte’s frustration with the hypocrisy of industrialized nations is understandable, this climate change deal is critical for nations vulnerable to extreme weather, like the Philippines.
The consequences of the Philippines’ refusal to honor the climate pact will be tremendous for both the country and the planet. Although it accounts for less than 1% of the world’s emissions, the Philippines is disproportionately affected (8). As climate change continues, storms like Typhoon Haiyan, which left over 6,000 people dead in 2013, are likely to grow more severe (9). In order for countries like the Philippines to survive the devastating impacts of climate change, global emissions must be reduced.
Last May, Duterte said industrialized nations should help developing countries comply with the Paris Agreement by providing financial assistance (10). Francis Dela Cruz, an associate for energy policy at the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, has argued that industrialized nations should provide developing countries financial and technical support so they can adapt to the impacts of climate change and build resilient economies (11). Since the Philippines is the leader of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 50 countries that suffer the most from climate change, it is important that the country remain active in UN climate negotiations (12).
The Philippines is ranked 22nd in the 2016 edition of Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index by Ernst and Young, beating South Korea and a host of European countries based on a number of macro, energy-market, and technology-specific indicators (13). Unfortunately, the Philippines has not profited from renewable energy growth as much as other Asian countries. Now is the time for the country to capitalize on its resources and bring positive change through strategic climate and energy investments.
The Philippines’ refusal to honor the UN climate pact threatens environmental security. The agreement seeks to reverse the effects of climate change, which hurt countries like the Philippines; however, Duterte is more concerned with short-term economic progress than long-term environmental security. It is important that President Duterte reevaluates his position on the Paris climate deal, not only for the safety and future of his people, but also for the safety of the rest of the world.
In addition to not honoring commitments made to the UN, Duterte has received international criticism for his blatant disregard for human rights. Duterte won in an electoral landslide in May after pledging to fill funeral parlors with drug dealers and ambitiously promising to end the widespread drug epidemic in 6 months (14). Since May, his anti-crime initiative has left more than 400 suspected drug users or drug dealers dead and more than 4,400 have been arrested (15). "My order is shoot to kill you. I don't care about human rights. You better believe me," Duterte said on August 5 (16).
Duterte’s war on drugs has resulted in widespread panic. Police have killed innocent people, using the anti-drug campaign as an excuse (17). The impoverished have been the hardest hit, with many low-income neighborhoods labeled as “free fire” zones. Government officials are not even safe (18). Duterte told Filipinos on the day of his inauguration last month, “If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself, as getting their parents to do it would be too painful” (19). The unprecedented killings have scared more than half a million drug users and dealers into turning themselves into the police (20).
Duterte’s campaign pledges included the reintroduction of the death penalty by hanging, as well as offering bounties for the bodies of drug dealers (21). Capital punishment by hanging, he said, should be imposed for heinous crimes, and criminals convicted of killing, along with robbery and rape, should be meted “double the hanging” (22). Duterte also vowed to ban children from walking on the streets alone late at night. If children are caught, their parents will be arrested and thrown into jail for “abandonment” (24). Police officials have said the plan to end crime is undoable, and that crime has prevailed in Davao City, where Duterte served as mayor for more than 22 years (25). As mayor of Davao, he was accused of running vigilante death squads (26). Rights groups say the squads –– made up of police, hired assassins, and ex-Communist rebels –– have killed more than 1,000 people, including children and petty criminals (27).
Human rights organizations have criticized the UN’s silence and are calling on the international community to denounce the violence. Human Rights Watch, Stop Aids, and International HIV/Aids Alliance are among more than 300 civil society groups that have signed joint letters to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (28). The letters ask for Duterte to immediately end all his incitements to kill people suspected of dealing drugs and call upon the President to honor all international human rights obligations, including the right to life, the right to health, and the right to due process (30). Phelim Kine, Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said, “International drug control agencies need to make clear to [Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte] that the surge in killings of suspected drug dealers and users is not acceptable ‘crime control’, but instead a government failure to protect people’s most fundamental human rights” (31).
Duterte was elected by democratic election, yet he is leading the country closer to a dictatorship every day. Using fear and violence to end crime has not only proven ineffective, but also dangerous and wrong. By villainizing drug addicts and dealers, he is dehumanizing them so that their slaughter is admissible by the people. His liberal use of the death penalty and desire for gruesome hangings show that he is out to fill the streets with blood. By creating a paranoid hysteria among the people, he is encouraging more violence and crime, not creating solutions. Fear mongering is leading to an inhumane society, and as Duterte has already made clear, he does not care about human rights.
Even though the Philippines is rampant with crime and citizens are fed up, this is not the right answer. As human rights organizations have already declared, criminals have a right to life, due process of law, and fair trials. Finding a solution to the drug epidemic needs to include rehabilitation for suffering drug addicts, not their death. In addition, Duterte needs to focus on a major factor in the creation of drug-related epidemics, namely poverty. Instead of turning low-income areas into war-like zones, Duterte must work on improving the quality of life for his people. Such an effort would include improving access to quality education and medical care.
Hopes that Duterte may reconsider the Paris Agreement may be an ulterior reason explaining why the UN has yet to publically criticize him. Whatever the UN’s reason, its failure to condemn these atrocities is unacceptable. Duterte has 6 more years left as president. The international community must not stand by and allow this mass violation of human rights to continue. The UN has a responsibility to speak out and protect human rights. A denouncement of Duterte’s crime control policies is overdue.
(1) "Philippines Won't Honour UN Climate Deal, Says President." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 July 2016. Web. 06 Aug. 2016.
(2) Romero, Alexis. "Duterte Says He Will Not Honor Paris Climate Deal." Philstar. N.p., 18 July 2016. Web. 06 Aug. 2016.
(4) "Philippines Won't Honour UN Climate Deal, Says President." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 July 2016. Web. 06 Aug. 2016.
(5) Romero, Alexis. "Duterte Says He Will Not Honor Paris Climate Deal." Philstar. N.p., 18 July 2016. Web. 06 Aug. 2016.
(7) "Philippines Won't Honour UN Climate Deal, Says President." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 July 2016. Web. 06 Aug. 2016.
(10) Romero, Alexis. "Duterte Says He Will Not Honor Paris Climate Deal." Philstar. N.p., 18 July 2016. Web. 06 Aug. 2016.
(11) Dela Cruz, Francis. "Philippines' Duterte Asked to Reconsider UN Climate Deal Threat." Climate Home. N.p., 19 June 2016. Web. 06 Aug. 2016.
(14) Gayle, Damien. "More than 700 People Killed in Philippines Drugs Crackdown." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 02 August 2016. Web. 05 Aug. 2016.
(15) Associated Press. "400 Dead in a Month in Philippines' 'shoot-to-kill' War on Drugs." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 5 Aug. 2016. Web. 06 Aug. 2016.
(17) Gayle, Damien. "More than 700 People Killed in Philippines Drugs Crackdown." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 02 August 2016. Web. 05 Aug. 2016.
(20) Associated Press. "400 Dead in a Month in Philippines' 'shoot-to-kill' War on Drugs." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 5 Aug. 2016. Web. 06 Aug. 2016.
(21) "Duterte Vows to Bring Back Hanging and Kill Criminals in Philippines." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 17 May 2016. Web. 05 Aug. 2016.
(28) Gayle, Damien. "More than 700 People Killed in Philippines Drugs Crackdown." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 02 August 2016. Web. 05 Aug. 2016.
Image: © Hrlumanog | Dreamstime.com - <a href="https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-philippine-independence-day-held-luneta-park-manila-philippines-june-philippines-vice-president-jejomar-binay-lead-flag-raising-image31571035#res14972580">Philippine independence day held in Luneta Park, Manila</a>
Erin is from Chicago, a junior at USC and plans on graduating in May 2018. She is a political science major with minors in psychology and business law, currently studying abroad at the University of Cape Town.