December 6, 2016
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The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has endorsed the idea of banning the burka, wherever it is legally possible. This, in response from her drop in popularity for allowing about one million asylum seekers into Germany, has made the election season against the anti-immigration party even harder in the coming year. The ban would make it illegal to wear burkas or a full-face veil in public buildings, even though very few women cover their faces in Germany. It is also very probable that the German constitution would prevent the ban from passing. This ban could also be in response to the growing popularity of the anti-immigration party in Germany that has capitalized on the anger produced by the influx of immigrants and refugees. This public stance, especially since this is the first time the Chancellor has made the sentiment known, could be a way to garner back some of the support from her party and the German people- a re-election strategy, or is Germany now following in the footsteps of France?
November 28, 2016
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Long time Cuban Dictator, Fidel Castro died on November 25 and news spread quickly to the Cuban exile community in Miami, FL, were mass celebrations ensued. People came out waving the Cuban flag in the wake of the death of the man the defined the live of many Cuban Americans in the last few decades. Many were celebrating that Castro died, while others were celebrating that they were hopeful that this now meant that Cuba was free. Many were hopeful that this would mean improved relations with Cuba, allowing many to visit the country they fled, reunite with family, or even allow more Cuban Immigrants into the country. Nearly 500,000 people have left Cuba in the last 50 years, with more expected to leave in the wake of Castro’s death. The US has supported a program that allows Cuban Americans to apply for a green card after spending a year and a day in the US, and some fear that program will be thrown out in the wake of president-elect Trump and an improving relationships between Cuba and the United States. In the end, the Castro’s death represents an end to a painful chapter in the live of many Cubans and Cuban Americans.
November 8, 2016
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Members of Jobbik – the radical-right challengers to Mr Orban’s Fidesz party – held aloft a banner during the vote, reading: “The traitor is the one who allows terrorists into the country for money”
The Prime Minster of Hungary’s attempt to block the immigration of Syrian refugees into Hungary has failed. PM Viktor Orban’s referendum to block the 1,294 refugees that would be settled in Hungary based in the EU quota system, was shot down by Parliament. The referendum failed to gain the two- thirds majority needed for the bill to pass. The PM’s party, Fidez, is the majority party in parliament, but the second largest party abstained from voting. This abstention is biggest reason the referendum did not pass. The second- largest party, Jobbik, is anti immigration, but they abstained because they want the anti immigration ban to apply to all foreigners. The Jobbik want Orban to get rid of the policy that allows rich foreigners to buy residency in Hungary of $330,000. A policy that has already allowed a Saudi Citizen with ties to Osama Bin Laden and on the FBI most wanted list, to buy residency in Hungary. And thousands of other non-EU citizen have bought residency in Hungary through this policy. Orban has called this power display “blackmail”, and Jobbik has said that they are willing to support Orban’s referendum after he scraps the foreigner bonds.
November 1, 2016
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The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has fired the peacekeeping chief in South Sudan after aid workers claimed that UN troops refused to respond when soldiers attacked an aid compound in July. This failure to act resulted in the death of a journalist and the rape of aid workers, and the deaths of at least 73 others in the three days of violence. Among the dead there were over 20 internally displaced people who had sought UN protection and two Peacekeepers. The Peacekeeping Chief was Kenyan Lt General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki, and Secretary General Ban has called for his immediate replacement. Because of inadequate leadership, the four battalions (China, Nepal, Ethiopia, and India) acted on conflicting orders, and all four ineffectively responded to the violence. Because of this gross negligence, “civilians were subjected to and witnessed gross human rights violations, including murder, intimidation, sexual violence and acts amounting to torture perpetrated by armed government soldiers.” Both the political factions in South Sudan are accused of Atrocity Crimes, and it is not clear which one committed this act.
There are currently 16,000 peacekeepers in South Sudan.
October 19, 2016
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In the ICC, Jean-Pierre Bemba, a well connected businessman and former Vice President of the DRC was found guilty of witness tampering in his trial on October 19th. Bemba, convicted of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity for action in the Central African Republic, who is serving the remainder of his 18- year sentence, was not the only one indicted. Four others were found guilty, including his lawyer, his case manager, a Congolese politician and a witness for the defense. Bemba masterminded the witness corruption during his original trial by use of phones and coded language. Ultimately manipulating 14 key witnesses in his trial. The four indicted and convicted along with Bemba, are charged with more than 100 crimes, and could face up to five years in jail. No information yet if or how much Bemba’s sentence will be lengthened. This is the first case of corruption that the ICC has faced.
October 11, 2016
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President Duterte of the Philippines has continued his war on drugs by officially banning smoking cigarettes in all public locations or face a fine in violation. Now this doesn’t seem that bad, but Duterte has only been in office since June 30, 2016 and already over 3,500 people have been killed. This is because Duterte is waging war on both drug dealer and drug users. In September, Duterte gave a speck likening himself to Hitler, and saying “Hitler massacred three million Jews … there’s three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Duterte has been working out eliminate all drug dealers and user in the Philippines and has given his support to the civilian population to kill the addict and drug dealers themselves, with the promise they will not be prosecuted. Many have come out to criticize Duterte for his remarks, Ronald Lauder, the World Jewish Congress President and Phil Robertson who is the Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch. Duterte is entering dangerous grounds,which could get him tried by the ICC, for a president just past his first 100 days.
October 4, 2016
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One Word – Episode 25: Christopher Columbus (Native Americans)
Christopher Columbus, a name we have all heard and probably at one point were told to idolize him. We were taught that he discovered America, responsible for opening up the New World to Europe modernization. I found this video on my facebook feed and felt that it was relevant for the fact that even though it was 500 years ago, great atrocities were wrought upon the native population of the Americas, and Columbus got glory and impunity, even in the history books, for centuries. So why do we have a national holiday for a man that is responsible for the rape and mass murder hundreds, if not thousands, of Native American? Christopher Columbus began the immeasurably long trials of strife of Native Americans brought on by Europeans and American settlers. As said in the video, the scars of pain and suffering caused by Columbus are still felt today in the Native American Community. So in this age of strict political correctness, why do we have a national holiday to celebrate a man who got lost at sea and began the genocide of Native Americans?
September 26, 2016
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History is written by the victors. The winners decide the rules, and the punishments to dole out to those who break those rules. The Nuremburg and Tokyo trials after WWII proved that. The defeated Germany and her allies were put on trial by the victorious world powers, but these winners had the express design to punish the losers in this war. That is how it has always been; the winners punish the defeated for their crime, but what about the crimes of the victors? The crimes of the victors are often ignored in favor of publicizing the crimes of the losers, but shouldn’t all crimes in a conflict be persecuted? Shouldn’t the nations that preach that impunity cannot exist, be held responsible for the crimes that they committed? It is this in mind that the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) and the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) were created. They were made in the image of the Nuremburg and Tokyo Trials, but with a new purpose of prosecuting both the winning and losing sides in the conflict. These tribunals are trying to make sure that no matter what side you are on, that committing war crime will never go unpunished.
September 21, 2016
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“The Banality of Evil”
I remember first hearing this phrase and thinking how can evil be ordinary? It gives many great comfort to think that people are born inherently evil, that your neighbor, friend, colleague, would never be this caricature of evil. But that is not the truth, and the truth is a terrifying reality. Normal people can do more damage than the person holding the gun, The Nazis proved that. The bureaucratic officials of Nazi German were a well-oiled machine where one signature at the bottom of an insignificant piece of paper could send thousands to their death. It was so easy to blame the figurehead of the movement, Hitler, but he never pulled a trigger (except on himself). The power behind Hitler was the fire he ignited with his rhetoric and promises, and to a severely economically depressed Germany, his words sounded like salvation. People still question why anyone would follow a man like Hitler, but they didn’t follow the man, they followed the promise of a future that Hitler promised. Hitler made the masses proud to call themselves German once again after humiliation in WWI. People could have felt they had an obligation to the man who raised their country back up, they could have whole-heartedly believed in his rhetoric. The important thing to remember is that without the support of the masses, the ordinary people, no dictatorship or genocide would ever happen; they would have no army, no followers to fill their ranks, no support for their cause.
September 11, 2016
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In response to Helen Fein.
Genocide, as a word, has not been around for a particularly long period of time. The word has only come into existence after the genocide that we are most familiar with, the Holocaust (alternately, The Shoah). Yet the crime of genocide is as old as civilization. There has always been hatred between groups of different religion, ethnicities, and nationalities. But genocide is only a small part of the spectrum of crimes against humanity, and like how laws change with the time, definitions and must change and include more. The article goes into the broader class of Atrocity Crimes; which, based on the article, is an all-encompassing class of crimes against humanity, but these crimes must fit within a set of guidelines to be atrocities. This classification, I believe, makes these crimes much more likely to be tried in court and have some form of justice be a possibility. With guidelines that have been agreed upon by an international council, the crimes will be more likely to be tried if they fit the requirements. But, there must still be change, and more importantly, steps towards prevention of atrocity crimes.