Sunday, October 11, 2009

Continent Watch

North America, United States
Brad Paladini
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, children as young as 13 working are allowed to work in agriculture for an unlimited number of hours if they have their parent’s permission to do so. Working in agriculture is four times as dangerous as any other working environment for youths. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California is currently working to introduce legislation to limit the number of hours children can work.

Oceania, Fiji
Ali Byler
Amnesty International released a report in September detailing the increasingly severe human rights violations that are taking place in Fiji. President Ratu Josefa Iloilo enacted the Public Emergency Regulations (PER) terminating Fiji’s Constitution in April 2009 and bestowing upon himself the ultimate power to make laws. The PER grants military personnel immunity from liability if “the use of such force cause harm or death to any person”, which has resulted in severe abuse of human rights in the forms of unfair arrests, beatings, detainments, and overall inhumane treatment of anyone expressing views inconsistent with those of the current government. The most common targets of this abuse have been political activists, clergy, lawyers, journalists, and government critics.

South America, Peru
Jessica Ponce
Peru has become the desired destination for asylum seekers, usually escaping political persecution, in Latin America,. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez arrested two particular men who opposed his law that would bring political indoctrination into Venezuelan schools. Both men were charged with conspiring to commit and instigate crimes during a demonstration and both requested asylum in Peru to avoid going to trial in a country where the justice system does not provide fair trials and is severely controlled by the government.

Africa, Guinea
Bhavani Peesapati
Mass protests are currently taking place in Guinea to protest rumors that Junta head Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara intends to run for president in an election scheduled for next January. Guinean soldiers have responded by using tear gas, firing ammunition into crowds, and publicly raping women. Human rights groups are estimating that over 150 civilians have been killed and are working with the UN and the African Union to try and subdue the violence.

Asia, Burma
Amy Kim
Burma’s military government has more than doubled its political prisoner population in the last two years, reaching a total of more than 2,200 prisoners. These prisoners have been sentenced to long prison terms resulting from unfair trials for speaking out against military rule and from criticism of government actions or policies, specifically of the obstacles to humanitarian relief following Cyclone Nargis, which dealt a devastating blow to Burma in May 2008. The activists have been charged per Burma’s archaic penal code which criminalizes free expression, peaceful demonstration, and forming of independent organizations. There are 43 known political activist prisons with poor medical and sanitation conditions and more than 50 labor camps where prisoners are subjected to hard labor. Moreover, the government has a practice of transferring prisoners to remote areas, placing huge burdens on family members desiring to visit and bring essentials, such as medicine and food. The Human Rights Watch has a global campaign, “2100 by 2010,” asking for the release of 2,100 political prisoners by the scheduled 2010 elections.

Middle East, Turkey
Arine Harapeti
For years, the Turkish lobby has been pressuring world governments and media, especially in the U.S., to exclude the Armenian Genocide from history, and recent events have shown exactly how far they are willing to go. David Krikorian, a candidate for the Ohio 2nd congressional district elections for 2010, exposed the current Congresswoman holding that seat, Jean Schmidt, along with many other Congressman of taking bribes from the Turkish lobby to further the campaign of denial. Former FBI linguist, S. Edmonds, testified as to these facts during the Ohio Elections Commission hearings which are still in progress. These hearings are expected to expose the corrupt, illegal and immoral actions, not only of the Turkish still in progress. These hearings are expected to expose the corrupt, illegal and immoral actions, not only of the Turkish campaign, but also of U.S. elected officials working to hide the truth.

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