If you listen or read what the populist media has to say, then there is an atmosphere of fear in the world & in our daily lives. A fear that apparently calls for desperate measures. In the light of certain highlighted events such as the Paris attacks or shootings in the United States, some fear for their safety and are ready to accept that prevention is better than cure.
Major political figures are openly fueling the fear with dangerous rhetoric playing on paranoid minds. The seemingly endless stream of frightening stories being reported from across the globe only cement those concerns further. The prospect of “swarms” of “migrants” seeking refuge in nations we are told are already bursting at the seams rings alarm bells not to mention random acts of violence committed by said “migrants”
It is this collective anxiety that has allowed both Western and Eastern governments to roll back on social justice and become more reactionary and totalitarian. Human Rights Watch have just published their annual report highlighting this growing trend of cracking down on peaceful protest and nonviolent activism. Our own prime minister here in the UK branded those opposed to airstrikes in Syria as “terrorist sympathisers”
The downloadable report by HRW entitled “World Report 2016” is an extensive look at human rights violations totaling 338 pages. You would expect to see mention of Middle Eastern and Latin american countries, tales of torture, false imprisonment and harassment but two notable mentions are the USA and the EU
On human rights in the U.S, H.R.W writes:
“The United States locks up 2.37 million people, the largest reported incarcerated population in the world. About 12 million people annually cycle through county jails”
“At time of writing, 27 people had been executed in the US in 2015, all by lethal injection”
“While whites and African Americans engage in drug offenses at comparable rates, African Americans are arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated for drug offenses at much higher rates. African Americans are only 13 percent of the US population, but make up 29 percent of all drug arrests. Black men are incarcerated at six times the rate of white men”
The following video speaks of and shows alarming footage of police brutality towards mentally ill prisoners in the United States
With regards to the situation faced by mentally ill prisoners, President Obama ordered the Department Of Justice to review these practices last July and several states are considering reforms to the current system.
With regards to the disabled in the states:
“Corporal punishment in state schools is still widely practiced in 19 US states. Children with disabilities receive corporal punishment at a disproportionate rate to their peers, despite evidence that it can adversely affect their physical and psychological conditions. In contrast, 124 countries have criminalized physical chastisement in public schools”
HRW goes on to mention numerous violations including the 14 year old illegal detention centre Guantanamo Bay which continues even under president Obama’s watch, let’s move on to the EU…..
It’s worth noting here that last year while responding to the refugee crisis, the EU can be credited for some commendable actions trying to rescue the refugees, sadly, it wasn’t quite enough
The EU implemented resettlement programs although not all member states were entirely in favour, particularly the U.K which shockingly opted out but were more than willing to launch airstrikes in Syria and fund violent regimes thereby contributing directly to the refugee crisis
By last summer, media focus was heavily on the now infamous Calais Refugee camp known as “The Jungle”
France introduced new laws on asylum last July
The city of Paris was the scene of major violence on two separate occasions, the response was to ‘clamp down’ and tighten up security, innocent people suffered in more than one way from the victims of the attacks to innocent scapegoats who were blamed by association and in an increase of cases, physically assaulted.
For reasons unknown, the U.K barely gets a mention, perhaps because it is part of the E.U, it is a shame that that Britain is omitted from the report as the current government in the U.K has launched an attack on the disabled and jobless making their lives an utter misery via harsh bureaucratic welfare legislation, it also continues to maintain good relations with brutal dictatorships, trade deadly weapons and carry out bombing campaigns in countries like Syria under the thin veil of liberation and in response to the random acts of violence committed by a small minority.
At this point you might think I have an issue with the countries I have mentioned, in part this is true, I have an issue with their own attempts at detracting from their wrongs, there is no shortage of footage and print about what the supposed ‘bad guys’ or ‘terrorists’ are doing but if those reports scare us then the things happening right on our own doorstep ought to scare us more or better still, encourage us to take peaceful and positive action. You could start by signing petitions you care about on sites like Change and 38 Degrees, you could lobby your MP on issues that matter to you and stay informed on important topics via informative independent news sites such as The Canary
Images from Human Rights Watch & Progressives Today