Thursday, March 30, 2006

That Neutrality-But-Fighting-for-Human Rights Tendency

While the insistence of Amnesty International to be bereft of political inclination and ideology is quite admirable in ensuring that human rights are truly respected regardless political tendencies, it is in that neutrality-but-fighting-for-human rights tendency that the inherent weakness of the organization comes to the fore. The struggle for human rights, even in a liberal and abstract sense, does not exist in a vacuum. In every country and continent, it is set in a backdrop of political and socio-economic contradictions in which the powerful in a society defines the terms of how and what human rights are to be respected, observed and even violated.

To insist the liberal view that human rights is irrespective of ideology and persuasion is to play blind to the existence of classes and the conflicts that arise from it. It fails to highlight that the reason for the detentions in Guantanamo is part of a war on terrorism not for basic human freedoms but for the global quest for oil and larger foreign markets for surplus goods and capital. Moreover, it also it fails to explain that the cause for the Communist Party crackdown of political dissent in China of its very own peasants and workers is due to the emergence of a new capitalist class breeding itself inside the Party which is supposed to struggle for the interests of the working class and the people. To simply abhor both the human rights violations of Hamas and Israel through suicide bombings and military aggression, respectively, does not in reality help address the roots of conflict and war, and lifts to the realm of sentimentality the need to address the human rights issue. It fails to question for example, the reason why Nepalese Maoists chose the road of people’s war or why Iraq is on the brink of civil war as suicide bombings intensify.

An organization cannot struggle for human rights without knowing the entire historic struggle of a people oppressed. It cannot simply make criticisms of both sides of the conflict as there must always be bias for the oppressed, exploited and deprived of their human rights. As such, it must also keenly identify the powerful which defines human rights in its own terms and the powerless which struggles to preserve itself, the aggressor and the aggressed upon peoples, in which the organization is cognizant that these political and socio-economic contradictions are a result of class conflicts (religious and racial conflicts etc. are off-shoots of class conflicts) in societies. It is in this framework that an organization must delineate its struggles in order to contribute truly to achieving a just and lasting peace. It must struggle for human rights as part of a national/class struggle for liberation and change and as part of the international struggle against all forms of imperialism, fascism, chauvinism and reaction which create the environment in which human rights violations thrive.

On Amnesty International

Amnesty International is an international organization that truly lives up to its thrust to be:
“…independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion. It does not support or oppose any government or political system, nor does it support or oppose the views of the victims whose rights it seeks to protect. It is concerned solely with the impartial protection of human rights.” (AI, 2005)

AI has consistently been at the forefront for the defense of international human rights as stipulated in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It has released sharp criticisms of human rights conditions of a broad range of countries such as the United States, China, Middle Eastern states such as Iran and Iraq, Palestine and Israel, and many more countries. These different governments espouse wide-ranging ideologies from both sides of the political spectrum – be it capitalist democracy, socialist democracy or Islamic democracy, Christian, Jewish or Islamic extremism, military authoritarianism and many other political forms and systems which these nation-states pursue, be it for its own national interest or otherwise.

Nonetheless, Amnesty International has stood clear that regardless of political ideology, the demarcation for the respect of universally recognized human rights must be respected at all times. It deplores the torture, arbitrary arrests and detention of political prisoners and suspected terrorists in US-controlled prisons such as Guantanamo in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq but is as resolute in its opposition to the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown of political dissent by rural Chinese peasants and workers in state-run factories threatened with dislocation and unemployment, respectively. It has rebuked the Palestinian militant group Hamas for its toleration of religious violence against Israel yet has seriously castigated Israeli authorities for the bombing of Palestinian prisons and settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


“As our new graduates receive their diplomas from their respective universities, there will be not enough jobs in the workforce to absorb them.” This was the statement of Marco delos Reyes, National President of the National Union of Students of the Philippines as the NUSP and the Kabataan Party lambasted the failure of the Arroyo government to generate enough enough for the youth, despite its promise to provide six to ten million jobs in six years.

Delos Reyes says, “Even as Mrs. Arroyo proclaims that at the core of job generation would be call centers, construction and tourism, it does not represent a fundamental solution to the problem of widespread joblessness in the country. These are unsustainable in the long run, as these are dependent on fluctuations of the international market.”

“The extent of joblessness in the country is highlighted by the fact that graduates are forced to become OFWS abroad, employed in jobs entirely different from the degrees they obtained – teachers becoming household help and engineers becoming company drivers in the Middle East, to name a few. Most appalling, though, is the nerve of Mrs. Arroyo to continue this policy of labor export, honoring the OFWs as heroes in order to hide her failure to provide secure and gainful employment at home.” Delos Reyes asserts.

“The youth never studied, paid high tuition and fees, and obtained degrees only to be unemployed or underemployed in the end. But even if there were a number of jobs available, it is uncertain whether these jobs can provide permanent employment to the new graduates, especially call centers where high turnover rates abound. More so, the current practice of contractualization of labor by many private corporations has deprived many workers and employees their deserved salaries, benefits and securities of tenure. Government service is also untenable due to its current policy of freeze hiring and rationalization, besides the fact that government perennially keeps its employees overworked and underpaid. The best example for this would public school teachers that receive less than ten thousand pesos in salaries, a far cry from the estimated 16,000 pesos or above needed by families to meet the their daily cost of living.” Delos Reyes explains.

Delos Reyes asserts, “As such, we demand the Arroyo government to provide gainful employment and job security to the youth, especially the new graduates. As the future of this nation, the youth must be sufficiently be given due importance by this government. It should instead focus on job generation than quelling political dissent and harassing those questioning its legitimacy.”

“But the sincerity of Mrs. Arroyo to provide jobs for our new graduates is greatly being doubted by the NUSP as she has consistently failed the youth in addressing youth issues such as high tuition fees in private universities and budget cuts and state universities. What assurance do we have now, especially when suspected military agents gunned down Cris Hugo, a graduating Bicol University student who is one of the brightest lights of student leadership, for simply standing up against the Arroyo regime for her failures in ensuring the youth a bright future ahead.” delos Reyes finally says.

Reference: 09173375051, Terry Ridon, NUSP Vice-President for Luzon

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