Human rights ignored

April 17, 2014


Hannah Schilling
Multimedia Editor




Education. Food. Housing. Medical care. Privacy.


These are just a few of many things the United Nations declared as human rights that every person is entitled to in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.


Forty-eight countries signed the document, a promise to hold each other to the high standards outlined in the 30 articles. But these countries have broken their promise.


Just last week, Egypt imprisoned four men for holding parties they say involved homosexual activities. Chinese police kidnapped and tortured four human rights lawyers, hanging them by their wrists and beating them, for pursuing action to help those illegally imprisoned in “black jails” where more torture tactics are used.


The United States continues to use torture techniques on alleged terrorists before knowing if the prisoners are guilty. Former vice president Dick Cheney said the “enhanced interrogation techniques” including waterboarding, a process during which water is poured over a person’s nose and mouth to induce choking, are not torture.


Even if it was, Cheney asserted, it would not be a violation of human rights because the prisoners were “unlawful combatants.”


There is the problem. These three countries, all signers of the declaration, cannot seem to grasp the concept that every human, regardless of sexuality, political ideals or criminal activity, is still a human. Using labels to justify these abuses is shameful.


“All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law,” Article 7 of the Universal Declaration states.


Humans who choose to identify as anything but heterosexual do not shed their humanity as a result of that choice. Humans who hold a certain political belief do not become animals to be tied up. Humans who may or may not have information do not become tools to be used to further your interests. They feel pain, they feel love and they, as humans, should have the right to feel protected.


The continuation of indifference to human rights violations on the world’s stage puts everyone’s rights in jeopardy. We cannot continue to dehumanize others because that undermines who we are as humans.


Uganda in February enacted a new policy which allows up to life imprisonment for those convicted of engaging in gay sex and sets a seven-year jail term for “attempted homosexuality.” In response, the United States, the World Bank and some European countries have cut, delayed or reviewed assistance to Uganda.


This is the kind of accountability needed. We can only hope it does not stop here.


Hannah is a senior journalism and political science major from Bossier City who serves as multimedia editor for the Tech Talk. Email comments to hms017@latech.edu.


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