Human rights now!

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Dec 10, 2008 Human rights now!

Today and every December 10 is Human Rights Day, renewing life into the sixty-year-old Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human rights violations run too rampant to just observe human rights day once a year. Daily, government officials, soldiers and police worldwide torture people, execute within and without the judicial system, and jail people because of their political beliefs, or racial, ethnic or religious status. In the United States, too many cops, judges, prosecutors, and jurors treat the Constitution as a nuisance in the way of their getting their job done. Too many cops love tasers and have tremendous trouble keeping them holstered. Human rights violations come in many additional forms, of course.

Too many people stay silent in the face of human rights violations until their own human rights are violated. They stay silent so as not to make waves, and so as not to cause problems with their jobs, for their family members, and for themselves. However, if you wait to speak up until your own rights are immediately threatened (they already are), that is too late. Silence is the voice of complicity; do not stay silent.

The above-displayed video to shut down Guantanamo at first blush might seem outdated seeing that Barack Obama pledged to close Guantanamo anyway. However, the American government’s human rights violations in the name of an anti-terror war, an anti-drug war, and an anti-crime war go well beyond Guantanamo. For instance, what will Obama do about Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a Qatari national whom the United States government has incarcerated without charge nor trial in a military brig inside the United States? The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear al-Marri’s challenge of his detention. Obama will have to decide what position the government takes in the Supreme Court in al-Marri v. United States.

Before you go to bed tonight, do your own part to strengthen human rights, even if it is as little as emailing and talking to your friends, family, and acquaintances about Human Rights Day, and writing at least one letter or email to a government official domestically or abroad to insist that human rights be protected now and forever. Jon Katz.

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