South Africa – Still Under Duress

Starting back on August 10th strikes concerning South African miners have caught international attention due to the gruesome brutality encountered by police forces. Details of what happened, now weeks ago on August 16th are somewhat murky. What is clear is the amount of deaths carried out at the mining institution Lonmin near the city of Marikana. Officials killed 34 striking miners and wounded at least 78. The reason I find this to be sickening is the miners were striking simply to have a raise from 4,000 rand (482 USD) to 12,500 rand a month. Although their act of striking may have been ‘illegal,’ isnt all forms of striking? Miners are thrown into physically dangerous situations, whose work literally supplies the globe’s precious metals (for example the Lonmin mine alone supplies 12% of the globes precious metals). These strikes therefore not only have domestic ramifications but also international. As other global mining institution’s shares have gone up, Lonmin has gone down because of the altercation between government officials and miners.

Despite  the massacre of August 16th, things have taken a turn towards the unknown. Miners have not been awarded the 12,500 rand raise and have continued to strike, turning the argument into a deadlier negotiation between government officials and their citizens. Yesterday the Lonmin miners threatened colleagues who were still found at the mine to be killed, showing that there truly is three sides to every story. Today, September 6th, officials have reached a peace accord between union workers and officials. However it is uncertain as to how far that agreement will last.

I believe underlying causes of this dispute are monetary and civil rights factors. If South Africans were welcome to protest then they wouldn’t have resorted to violence, and same with police officials. It just goes to show that the better people are equipped with the most basic human rights, then the less they will turn towards violence.

 

You can get more information on the South African mining strikes at the following websites: http://bit.ly/Trcq0s , or http://bit.ly/TZeF8I or http://bbc.in/Opukgv

Peaceful Protesting?

Recent arrests in Ethiopia have led to a questioning of the government’s actions, particularly  their “anti-terrorist” measures. The journalist and blogger, Eskinder Nega, who has been praised over the years by international human rights groups, was arrested earlier this July and sentenced 18 years in prison on terrorist charges. The government of Ethiopia has put Mr. Nega along with his colleagues, and two Swedish journalist under arrest many times for their criticism of government action and legislation. Ethiopia’s “anti-terrorist”  laws breech freedom of press, therefore putting Mr. Nega as well as many other activists at fault for supporting (among other issues) the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) – a classified terrorist group by the Ethiopian government. This is a separatist group formed in the early 1980’s in the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia. The main issue advocated by the ONLF is autonomy of their own nation-state, due to the amount of ethnic Somalis living in their territory.

Without going into detail of the complex relationship and history between the ONLF and the Ethiopian government, the main issue is the human rights abuses carried out by the government. Regardless if the ONLF should become its own nation-state, individuals should be able to voice their opinions on the issue. If governments can get away with putting their citizens  under bogus anti-terrorist legislation, then we should all be worried. It is instances such as these that the international community needs to be more aware of.

You can find more information on Mr. Nega at: http://bbc.in/MoYFts or http://nyti.ms/PTeb6D or http://econ.st/Ow0wyh. In addition, there is a fundraising site that tells much more about Mr. Nega’s story at: http://bit.ly/saythE

Progress For Women

An article recently published by the Economist discussed South Korean politics, namely Ms.Park Geun-hye’s decision to run for President in the December elections, against current incumbent Lee Myung-bak.  Not only is this an exciting time for women because of Ms. Geun-hye’s decision to run, but also the fact that she has a chance to win the election. As the daughter  of former autocratic leader Mr. Park Chung-hee, she served as first lady after her father and mother were assassinated in the late 1970s. Her main concern was that North Korea would not interfere. This focal point of her decision gained herself much respect with the older Korean community.

Although she doesn’t possess an automatic win with the election this December, it is definitely not out of the question that she could take Presidency. This is a huge step for women all over the world. Women in powerful positions are far and few between; although media tries to focus on that 10% or so who do have leverage in bureaucratic positions, the real number is much lower. Hopefully Ms. Geun-hye’s win will empower and inspire more women to step out of the oppressive-domestic role and into the power realm of today’s increasingly progressive global civil society.

You can access the Economist article here: econ.st/NIpYSs

The World Bank – continuing its mission?

In recent news there has been a dilemma over  corruption within the World Bank – one of the only global entities whose sole purpose is to alleviate poverty. The June Forbes  issue sparked my curiosity on the matter. Although the institution in question is accused of corruption, which may very well be true, the mere fact of its almost 70 year presence and continuing humanitarian aid shows that it is still on the right track, despite inside problems. After Forbes put out its article discussing the corruption within the World Bank, the institution itself put out a disclaimer on many of the points discussed within Forbes. 

You can read the Forbes article here: onforb.es/MU4v7b. The disclaimer by the World Bank can be read here: bit.ly/PXtE3U.

In  conclusion I believe that the World Bank, along with other international organizations, may have some biases due to contributing countries’ agenda; however I also am convinced that the presence of such a humanitarian based organization, despite inside corruption, is progressive in helping the world’s most impoverished people.

Moving ahead?

Although there has been international consensus on the mass human rights abuses in Syria, the international community still is unable to take action against Assad’s violent regime. Despite diplomatic discussion between world leaders, there is still no resolution to end the violence in Syria. Like this article points out, Russia has a history of geopolitical interests in Syria which deters it from approving any effective policy. Additionally, since Russia and China are members of the UN Security Council, the UN is in limbo towards making any peace progress. It seems as though this issue has moved to the back-burner for global civil society. Although there are updates on the Syrian question, politicians seem to be treading lightly instead of informing and thereby mobilizing citizens to take action. Increasingly individuals have weight in how they voice their problems to their legislators. I am positive that if enough noise was made by various individuals across borders, Syria would be a much more civilized and most importantly safer nation. 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/18/obama-putin-syria-meeting

Obama’s landmark decision

Its about time

Finally Obama has passed an executive order that allows immigrants to live and work in the US without being deemed an ‘illegal alien.’  Although there are positives and negatives to every decision made, Obama made the correct decision to allow migrants to live and work in the US. Many of the migrants whom will be affected by this policy are economic migrants. These migrant’s jobs are typically agricultural and do most work that Americans feel themselves superior to. Although this legislation was passed before the US election,  I believe it was a good move for the country — which, may I remind everyone is a nation made of immigrants.