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Index June 2006

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Anti-LTTE Tamils in Sri Lanka face death

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Human Rights Watch: Advocates protection of civilians from both government & Tigers, June 30, 2006, Daya Gamage, US Bureau of Asian Tribune.
America’s most influential and prominent human rights advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, is deeply concerned about child recruitment by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) of Sri Lanka and political killings, according to Jo Becker, the children’s rights advocacy director for the rights group in a recent interview with the PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service, a widely subscribed broadcasting and television network in the United States.

However, she advocates that the United Nations and western governments should continue to pressure both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers to protect civilians from violence and strictly observe international human rights and humanitarian law.

Jo Becker is the author of the HRW report entitled “Funding the ‘Final War’: LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora,” which created a diplomatic and political onslaught by western nations on Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers a few months ago which led to the Canadian government and European Union’s decision to proscribe the outfit in their jurisdictions.

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a Hunger Strike and Coca-Cola in India

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Villagers Begin Hunger Strike to Demand Government Action Against Coca-Cola (see India Resource Center).

Villagers in Mehdiganj in north India are on a hunger strike to demand the closure of the Coca-Cola bottling plant. Community leaders have accused the Coca-Cola bottling plant in of creating severe water shortages affecting over twenty villages, polluting agricultural land and groundwater, illegally occupying land, evading taxes and treating workers unfairly. The hunger strike comes exactly 3 months after the community initiated an indefinite vigil directly in front of the Coca-Cola factory. Community leaders have been frustrated by the lack of action from the government, and have embarked upon the hunger strike to emphasize the severity of the situation facing the communities.

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A Petition

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Linked with our presentation of Nang Charm Tong – Burma.

Petition to Free Hkun Htun Oo and all Political Prisoners in Burma. Sign Online Petition:

1. Read the letter that will be presented to world leaders here;
2. Sign the petition form here.

London Raiding

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By Mike Marqusee – Excerpt: … At 4 AM on June 2nd, another grim episode in the war on terror was played out on a quiet residential street in east London. In what the media initially hailed as a major anti-terrorist triumph, 250 heavily armed police descended on a house where, it was alleged, Muslim terrorists were manufacturing chemical weapons to unleash on innocent Londoners.

In the course of the pre-dawn raid, 23-year old Mohammed Abdul Kahar was shot. He and his brother, 20 year old Abul Koyair, were arrested and subjected to seven days intensive interrogation, after which both men were freed without charge. No evidence of chemical weapons or indeed illegal or suspicious activity of any kind had been found.

At a press conference after their release, the brothers described their ordeal. They seemed patently sincere and painfully bewildered. When Kahar heard the front door being smashed down, he assumed it was a burglary and left his bedroom to come down stairs, where, at a distance of “two or three feet”, a policeman opened fire without issuing a warning or identifying himself. “We had eye contact and he shot me straight away,” recalled Kahar. The bullet entered his chest and exited through his shoulder, sparing his life by inches. “I was begging him, ‘Please, please, I can’t breathe,’ and he just kicked me in my face. He kept on saying, ‘Shut the fuck up’…. one of the officers slapped me on the face … I thought that they’re going to either shoot me again, or they’re going to start shooting my brother.”

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News on the english Voltairenet.org

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Headlines of the last Voltaire.net-Edition in english (French Online-News):
September 11th : 42 percent of US citizens doubtful about official version;
Abu Musab al-Zarkawi: Evil’s superhero;
Dr Kim Howells speech: Relations between Islam and the West;
Darfur: Simplification and Moralization of the Conflict;
Caricatures and hysteria that disguise the truth;
Afghanistan: Media Unanimity.

Electronic Iraq is Looking for Translators!

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See on Electronic Iraq Net;

write to Jeff Severns Guntzel, Nigel Parry, Ali Abunimah, Laurie King, Arjan El Fassed, the Electronic Iraq Team.

Are you fluent in Arabic and English? Would you like to help Electronic Iraq bring Iraqi voices and viewpoints to an international audience?

Electronic Iraq (eIraq) was launched in February 2003 to provide a humanitarian perspective on a then-looming conflict. The site quickly became a respected and vital resource unparalleled in its track record of providing up-to-date news and analysis about Iraq, with a unique focus on the experiences of the Iraqi people enduring daily the tragedy and chaos of war.

As testimony to eIraq’s distinctive and reliable work, which provided a real-time alternative history of the war, both the Library of Congress and the British Library added the website to their digital archives.

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Freud’s Requiem

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Linked with our presentation of Hanif Kureishi – England & Pakistan.

Book Reviews, by Hanif Kureishi, Monday 26th June 2006 – Freud’s Requiem: mourning, memory and the invisible history of a summer walk, Matthew von Unwerth. Continuum 256pp, £18.99, ISBN 0826480322.

Written as a commission in 1915, Sigmund Freud’s On Transience is a short, beautiful and enigmatic work. When he wrote it, Freud was 60. His sons Martin (Lucian’s father) and Ernest were away at war, and news of them was intermittent. At this stage of his life Freud had few patients, and the Austro-Hungarian empire – with his beloved Vienna at the centre – was being destroyed. There were many reasons for him to be pessimistic, even despairing …

… (Read the rest of this long book review by Hanif Kureishi on this site of the NEWSTATESMAN).

Exile and the Kingdom

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Linked with our presentation of Laila Lalami – Morocco.

Excerpt: … The Last Friend begins in the schoolyard of a French lycée in Tangier in 1960. Fifteen-year-old Ali has just arrived with his family from Fez. After school one day, a few bullies attack him, calling him “a Jew,” because he is light-skinned and his family name begins with “Ben.” (The particle is, in fact, common among both North African Jews and Fez Muslims.) Ali, who narrates the incident, tells us that a boy named Mohammed–Mamed, for short–rushes to his defense. The two become fast friends, although they have different sensibilities. Mamed, the son of a wealthy couple, embraces the nationalist struggle, reads Fanon, Marx and Lenin, and longs for the establishment of social justice in a newly independent Morocco. Ali is also fiercely opposed to colonialism, but he prefers to spend his time reading poetry or watching movies rather than poring over radical manifestoes. In time, Mamed leaves for France to study medicine, while Ali goes to Quebec to study film. (Read the long article of Laila Lalami on this page of The Nation).

… again Burma

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Excerpt from a today’s publication in ‘The Nation, Thailand‘:Today, the world finds itself at odds with another brutal military junta in the Southeast Asian country of Burma, which continues to incarcerate Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Suu Kyi’s “crime” is being loved by the people of Burma. Her political party won 82 per cent of the seats in parliament in Burma’s last democratic election, only to have the results annulled by the ruling military junta. She has remained locked up for 10 of the past 17 years. Many people of Burma fare much worse, suffering the most severe forms of torture.

The situation for ethnic minorities in the country is even worse. The military regime rules by brute force, oppressing and relocating hundreds of thousands of ethnic minorities who stand in opposition to its rule. Two thousand eight hundred villages have been burned down or otherwise destroyed in eastern Burma alone, some repeatedly, to force ethnic minorities to move to military-controlled areas. As a result, there are over one million Burmese refugees, and over half a million internally displaced people (IDPs).

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Love and Betrayal in Colonial Africa

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Linked with our presentation of Laila Lalami – Morocco.

Excerpt: … The archipelago of Zanzibar was, at various times in its history, under the rule of Persians from Shiraz, Arabs from Oman and Europeans from Portugal and Britain. The islands’ location in the Indian Ocean, along major trade routes between Africa and Asia, made them a particularly enviable prize for conquerors. With few exceptions, the settlers tended to mix with the locals until the next wave of colonizers displaced them, resulting in a merging of languages and customs that makes the country one of those places for which the term “confluence of cultures” seems to have been invented. Abdulrazak Gurnah, one of Africa’s most celebrated novelists and a native of Zanzibar, has mined his homeland’s rich history in several of his books, and he returns to it with Desertion, a novel about–what else?–colonialism and miscegenation. Now a professor of English and postcolonial literature at the University of Kent, Gurnah left Zanzibar in 1968, a few short years after the country gained independence. He chose to stay in Britain, like many other educated people of his generation. This exodus has been the focus of much of his work; all of his previous novels feature a man displaced from Zanzibar to England for political or personal reasons, an immigrant who retains ambivalent feelings about both his homeland and his adopted country.(Read the rest of this 4 pages long article on The Nation).

The Microcredit Guide in Summary

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It provides a summary overview of Microcredit issues for quick reference. Select the links for a full section of Guide material relevant to each heading.

Upscaling Outreach of Microcredit: In order to reduce world poverty ratios by half by 2015, microfinance initiatives need considerable impetus. In order to achieve poverty ratios of this magnitude, upscaling microfinance becomes imperative for microfinance institutions and advocators all over the world. Upscaling would require:
· Replications of alternative populist models like SEWA Bank, Grameen and ASA models [Bangladesh], Banco Sol etc.
· For facilitating micro entrepreneurs to have greater access to the formal financial systems, microfinance institutions will have to become licensed. Transformation of MFIs from informal or semi informal institutions to more formal structures would further lend impetus to the upscaling process.
· In the process of transformations, organizations will have to move from traditional products of savings and loans to more innovative product lines.
· Reaching the poorest of the poor will require special efforts on behalf of the practitioners, donors and formal financial institutions. Experiments to upscale microfinance have already been initiated, effective partnership, governance and innovations should enable the microfinance sector to meet the challenge of upscaling microfinance to achieve the desired outcome of poverty reduction.

Sustainability of Microfinance: (Read the rest on the article on this page of OneWorld.net).

United Nations Children’s Rights Report

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United Nations Children’s Rights Report:

There is no way to thoroughly enumerate the various ways in which children around the world are economically exploited and physically mistreated. But the numbers are great — and the suffering widespread. Behind the hideous imagery — of children beaten or sexually abused by parents; ravaged beyond their years by hard living and drug abuse on the streets; maimed by landmines or turned into killers by war; stricken with AIDS — are the all-too-common struggles against disease, hardship, and family or social traditions that compromise children’s humanity or subject them to physical and emotional suffering.

While victims of injustice and poverty have always had trouble being heard, none have had more trouble, historically, than children. Whether exploited as child labourers or prostitutes, drafted as young teenagers into armed forces, forced as young girls into a lonely life as domestic workers, deprived of an education to work on the family farm, or denied adequate nutrition and health care, children need help and protection from an adult world that perpetrates most of the abuse.

The Special Rapporteur’s Role: To highlight the existence of the most egregious violations of international human rights law and encourage Governments to investigate particular cases, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has appointed a Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The Special Rapporteur, an expert in the field, works to gather and analyse facts for the Commission.

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Convention on the Rights of the Child

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UNICEF’s mission is to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF is guided in doing this by the provisions and principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Built on varied legal systems and cultural traditions, the Convention is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations. These basic standards—also called human rights—set minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be respected by governments. They are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each individual, regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability and therefore apply to every human being everywhere. With these rights comes the obligation on both governments and individuals not to infringe on the parallel rights of others. These standards are both interdependent and indivisible; we cannot ensure some rights withoutor at the expense ofother rights.

A legally binding instrument:

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(Zürcher) Kantonsrat verabschiedet neues Gewaltschutzgesetz

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Verbunden mit unserer Präsentation von Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold – Switzerland.

19. Juni 2006, 10:47, NZZ Online: Kantonsrat verabschiedet neues Gewaltschutzgesetz, Opfer häuslicher Gewalt besser schützen – Opfer häuslicher Gewalt können im Kanton Zürich künftig besser und rascher geschützt werden: Der Zürcher Kantonsrat hat am Montag das neue Gewaltschutzgesetz mit 92 zu 48 Stimmen verabschiedet. (sda) Mit dem Gesetz erhält die Polizei neue Kompetenzen. Sie kann (potenzielle) Täter aus der Wohnung oder dem Haus wegweisen oder ihnen verbieten, gewisse Gebiete zu betreten. Ausserdem kann sie eine Kontaktsperre veranlassen.

Diese Massnahmen gelten während 14 Tagen und können auf maximal drei Monate verlängert werden. Bei schwer wiegender Gefährdung kann die Polizei einen Täter bis zu 24 Stunden in Gewahrsam nehmen. (Siehe den Rest dieses Artikels auf dieser Seite der NZZ).

John Pilger: Freedom next time

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COMMENTS ON JOHN PILGER’S NEW BOOK, by Stephen Lendman

Excerpt: … John explains how fraudulent and dangerous Bush’s priorities are based on its policy papers and one conceived a few years before it came to power. It began with a 1997 “messianic conspiracy theory” called The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) written by many of the far right neoconservative ideologues now in power. This document is an imperial plan for US global dominance to extend well into the future and be enforced with unchallengeable military power. It was a blueprint for the current “war on terror” (which John calls a “war of terror’) and “preventive war” that began after 9/11 and is now ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan with further conflicts likely ahead. The Pentagon goes even further in its Vision 2020 that lays out a goal that calls for “full spectrum dominance.” By this is meant the total, unchallengeable control of all land, sea, air and space and the self-given right to enforce it with the use of nuclear or any other kinds of weapons.

The British government under Tony Blair is part of the same scheme as a complicit junior partner. It sees it in its own interest to be allied with the US and Bush administration and supports its imperial policies. As a result, John explains, it’s no surprise Mr. Blair has taken his nation to war more often than any British Prime Minister in modern times. For him and George Bush, international law, norms and any sense of morality are irrelevant and aren’t allowed to stand in the way of their unrestricted political violence portrayed as having a democratic face and purpose. Freedom Next Time exposes this hypocrisy to show that “imperialism, in whatever guise, is the antithesis of the ‘benevolent and moralistic.’ ” It examines the history and events in five countries John knows well as a journalist and filmmaker …

(Read the whole article of June 15 on Stephen Lendman’s Blog).

Vellore women show the way

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By Ramya Kannan (The Hindu), on OneWorld SouthAsia, 15 June 2006 – It could be said that change in Vellore began with the Kalanjiam (granary). In just the way a deeply scarred society heals itself, some parts of the district have hit the path of recovery. The prime agent of change is Kalanjiam, a federation of women’s self-help groups.

Over 260 SHGs are members of this group that brings about attitude change in the villages. “Our men are useless, all drunkards. Long ago, we realised that depending on them was impractical. So we have taken things into our hands,” says Rachel, president of the federation, headquartered in Gudiyatham.

Working in an area that is nearly `endemic’ to child labour, with the local beedi and matchstick industries hiring children for work, the women decided to storm this Bastille. The other aspects of their agenda are to prevent fresh recruitment of child labourers, outlaw the sale of alcohol, put all children in school, provide them tuition, books and notebooks, create employment opportunities for adults and use their savings to benefit women and children.

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The Price of Madness

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by Butler Shaffer – On 9/11, one of my colleagues and I were watching videotape of the planes hitting the World Trade Center earlier that day. He asked my response to this surreal atrocity. My concern, I replied, was twofold: (1) Americans were now going to have to do some very deep soul-searching to discover why so many people in the world have such an intense hatred for America that they could do this, and (2) I despaired of what the long-term implications of this would be. The attack was of such horrific dimensions that when I turned on my television that morning – not knowing what had happened – my first reaction was that I was viewing a clip from a forthcoming catastrophe film, complete with amazing special effects. Since some one-third of television “news” consists of Hollywood gossip and movie promotions, there was a sound basis for my response. When I switched to another channel and saw the same ghastliness, I knew that reality was outdoing Irwin Allen. As we approach the fifth anniversary of this act of horror, my initial concerns have proven themselves valid. To this day, most Americans – be they for or against the invasion of Iraq; be they Democrat or Republican, “conservative” or “liberal” – show no disposition to confront the deeper implications of all this. Depth analysis takes a commitment of moral and intellectual energy, and most of us are more comfortable inquiring into such superficial matters as missing teenagers, spousal murders, or sexual predators … (Read this long article on LewRockwell.com).

Somalia – Parliament votes in favour of foreign peacekeepers

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16 June 2006, Source: UN humanitarian news and information service IRIN.

Somalia’s transitional parliament has voted in favour of the deployment of an African peacekeeping force in the country to support the interim government in its efforts to restore law and order and re-establish state institutions after 15 years of anarchy.

Some 125 of the 197 members of the Transitional Federal Parliament present when the vote was taken on Wednesday cast their ballots in favour of the government-sponsored motion, compared to 72 against. “They [the government] have been lobbying very hard for this, and they won,” said Abdulkadir Shaykh Muhmmad, an MP from Baidoa, the south-central town where both the parliament and the government are currently based.

The African Union has already mandated the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy a peace-support mission to Somalia. IGAD, which sponsored the reconciliation process that culminated in the creation of the Transitional Federal Government(TFG)in 2004, has given Sudan and Uganda the responsibility of mobilising troops for deployment in Somalia. IGAD comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

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EU and Democracy

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The EU needs a democratic reshuffling of its institutions’ geography… by Franck Biancheri … but contrarily to the current centralistic initiative of some MEPs (who only wants to bring the Parliament to Brussels and nothing more), a democratic EU does not require more ‘Brussels centralism’ but more decentralised management. The question is not to put the Parliament in Brussels too … but rather to put everything else but the Parliament outside Brussels … (see this article on Newropean Magazine).

Towards an Inclusive Interpretation of Conflict

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Linked to our presentation of George Khutsishvili – Georgia.

FROM KOAN TO METAOBJECT – by George Khutsishvili, 18th of May 2004

One of the twentieth century’s most brilliant minds, a Nobel Prize winner in physics Dr. Niels Bohr has solved the wave/particle dilemma in the physics of micro-world by introducing his mind-illuminating complementarity principle, a universal methodological tool for reconciling seemingly incompatible pictures of reality. Suddenly, it was clear that what looked like mutually exclusive and/or incompatible pictures of an object, could be more adequately seen as the complementary pictures of a metaobject. This breakthrough became possible thanks to Dr. Bohr’s ability to transcend the conventional limits of a scientific world outlook. Similar processes earlier in the century helped overcome crises in foundations of mathematics and logic (cf. the Goedel’s Theorem and metamathematics ). They have revealed important aspects of regularities in overcoming major crises of human thinking and understanding, indispensable also while dealing with violent social conflicts, especially those with the issue of ethnicity involved. It turns out we cannot solve any major ethnic, social, or religious conflict without altogether changing, transforming our world outlook, seeing the world from a new perspective, where the problem is rather transcended than decided.

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Women’s Rights Protest Broken Up in Tehran

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See this and more on this Media Alert page:

Human Rights First condemns the use of force by police to break up a peaceful demonstration of women in Tehran on June 12, 2006. Hundreds of women and men gathered in a downtown square to protest the discriminatory laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to demand legislative change to ensure equal rights for women, especially in marriage and divorce, child custody, inheritance, and other areas.

Preventing demonstrators from peacefully gathering to express their views is a violation of the Iranian government’s obligations in international law as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights instruments.

Repeating the violence which has been used to quell dissent in previous years, about 100 police officers attacked the demonstrators, using pepper spray and beating them with batons. Witnesses claimed that women were dragged along the ground by their hair and savagely beaten.

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… some texts of Piri Thomas

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Linked with our presentation of Piri Thomas – USA.

It’s got our beautiful children
living in all kinds of hell
hoping to survive and making it well
Swinging together in misty darkness
With all their love to share
Smiling a Christ-like forgiveness,
That only a ghetto cross can bear.

Excerpt of ‘Born Anew at Each A.M.’

See here on his own website some of his Poetry Works:

A First Night At El Sing Sing

Born Anew at Each A.M.

Cara de Palo Thoughts

Fire Water

If in the Moment of Passing

I Have Seen

Love is a Sharing

My World

No More Trumpets of Despair

Sermon From The Ghettos

Softly, Puerto Rican, You Ain’t Alone

The Eyes of My Heart

The Formed Faces of All

The Tombs

What Is The Thick Black Line?

And here about his Prose Works:

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVELS:

Down These Mean Streets;

Por Estas Calles Bravas;

7 Long Times.

ESSAYS AND STORIES:

The Stoop;

Shine, Mister?

Some sites on Human Rights

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The Declaration and the UN;

explanation on wikipedia;

Freedom of speach, on derechos;

Maximiliano Herrera’s Human Rights Site;

Monitoring Freedom around the world;

Human Rights Watch HRW;

on amazon;

The HR on BBC;

on the right to protest;

HR and terrorism;

Human Rights and Universal Responsibility;

Policy Papers – Human Rights, Freedom of Information and Data Protection;

The European Convention on Human Rights and its five protocols;

other UK human rights links;

Islam online;

Freedom of information;

Freedom of Expression and HR;

Legal Information Service.

The human rights and wrongs

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By Rebecca Steel, Warsaw Poland, on her blog on February 06, 2006:

excerpt: … Yes, we everybody has the right of freedom of speech, yes we should be allowed to express our opinions openly and without fear of reprisals by those who hold different views. I listen to and read about people who hold different views from mine all the time. They challenge and jostle ideas, they forcefully encourage justifications and ensure consistency. But can’t we be a little sensitive about it all? Can’t we foresee the potential for clumsy cartoons being highjacked by extremists with ulterior motives? Can’t we decide that maybe this isn’t the way to defend freedom of speech? That this isn’t the path to follow towards a peaceful world? …

Read the rest of this presentation on the author’s blog.

Link to a Forum about Understanding Islam.