Posts

the-purge-human-rightsTen years in the future, America has undergone a fundamental change in both government and society. After teetering on the brink of failure in the mid-2010s, the United States elects a new regime to power: the so-called “New Founding Fathers,” who have managed to restore our nation. Unemployment has been nearly eradicated and crime rates have dropped to 1%. America enjoys prosperity — all thanks to one night of the year known as “The Purge.”

For a 12-hour period, Americans are permitted to “feed their beasts” by purging themselves of their evil thoughts. All crime is legal — up to and including murder. The only citizens protected from The Purge are “category 10” officials, who viewers are led to believe are the politicians promoting the program. The Purge is glorified in society, and citizens participate without a second thought.

The film follows James and Mary Sandin, a young, wealthy couple who have made their living by selling home security systems to those rich enough to afford them. Though James and Mary choose not to partake in The Purge, they have no option but to protect themselves when their son saves a ‘target’ from being murdered. They must make the decision to protect the refugee or hand him over to those wanting to kill him.

The concept of the film forces viewers to ask themselves what they would do in the Sandins’ situation. For decades, real people have had to make these hard decisions, yet they are portrayed in the film as an abstract concept.

Rwanda. South Africa. Yugoslavia. The Holocaust. Genocide, the systemic killing of specific groups of people, has been going on almost since the beginning of time. At the end of World War II, many nations came together and promised that “never again” would they sit idly by while human beings were massacred.

‘The Purge” is an overt example of genocide. Throughout the film, characters discuss the fact that the poor are the true victims of the program. Because they cannot afford to protect themselves, they make easy targets. The rich in dystopian America have gained a sense of entitlement and view the poor as a drain on the system. They use “The Purge” as an opportunity to cleanse the nation of its “scum” and “pigs.” What is disguised as an opportunity to meet “natural, animalistic urges,” is really just an opportunity to rid the United States of a group of people viewed as undesirable.

Human rights are based on the idea that every person is a moral and rational being and should be treated with dignity. They go beyond just freedom of speech and other rights we hold dear here in the US. They are basic and primal. The very first right assured to any person is the right to life. No one human being is allowed to take the life of another for any reason. And as simple as this concept sounds, history has showed us repeatedly that this right is often disregarded. Freedom of thought, religion, speech, all of these are important, but they mean nothing without the right to life.

What does “The Purge” teach us about human rights? It teaches us that they can easily be ignored. All it takes is for a few people to not stand up and speak out, and even the most basic human right can be lost.

– Allana Welch
Source: European Convention for Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Human Rights, IMDB
Photo: The Nerdpocalypse

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Poverty in Rwanda
Rwanda has made vast improvements in reducing poverty in the past decade. Nevertheless, the majority of their population lives below the poverty line. Discussed below are the leading and somewhat surprising facts about poverty in Rwanda.

 

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Rwanda

 

The Bad News

1.  57% of Rwandans live below the poverty line and 37% live in extreme poverty.

2. Rwanda is the most densely packed country in Africa. With an annual population growth rate of around 3%, the population will have an additional 12 million people by 2015.

3. The 1994 genocide, which killed about 1 million people, changed the demographic structure of the country. Women now account for 54% of the population, and women and orphans were left as the heads of many households.

4. 44% of Rwandan children suffer from stunting. This means that they are unable to grow to their full potential because of a lack of adequate nutrition.

5. Agriculture employs 80% of the labor force, but only accounts for a third of the country’s GDP. Nearly half of Rwandan agricultural households experience food insecurity.

 

…The Good News

6. At least 1 million Rwandans have been lifted out of poverty in the last five years. This has been attributed to an increase in agricultural incomes and income transfers.

7.  Between 2006-2011, Rwanda posted an average annual growth of real GDP of 8.4%. This was driven mainly by higher productivity in the agricultural and industrial sectors.

8. Since 2005 the mortality rate of children under 5 has been halved from 152 to 76 deaths per thousand.

9.  Immediately following the genocide, 100 percent of the government budget came from foreign aid. In 2011, the figure had fallen to 40%.

10. Participation in secondary schooling has doubled since 2006, and primary education has far exceeded the set target.

Rwanda still has a long way to go, but the recent successes provide hope for the 10 million people living within its borders. A combination of government programs, foreign aid, and a continued focus on agricultural production promises to bring more and more people out of poverty in Rwanda every day.

– Kathryn Cassibry

Sources: World Bank, Rural PovertyFeed the FutureUNDP
Photo: The Telegraph

bosnian_war_nato_global_poverty_development_national_security_opt

The Bosnian War was an ethnic conflict that ravaged the former Yugoslavia from 1992-1995.  The Bosnian War was marked by the systematic mass rape and murder of Bosnian Muslims by Serbian nationalists. In order to understand the genocide in Bosnia, however, one must first examine the recent history of the torn Balkan region.

At the conclusion of World War II, Bosnia became a federal republic of Yugoslavia when Yugoslavia was united under the authoritarian dictator Josip Broz Tito. Under Tito, strict policies were instituted that dampened tensions between the three main ethnic groups in the newly formed republic: The Bosnian Muslims (or Bosniaks), the Catholic Croats, and the Orthodox Serbs. When Tito died in the early 1980s, Yugoslavia disintegrated, fanning the fire of ethnic hostility.

The Serbian President Slobodan Milošević was the driving force behind the genocide. Milošević ascended to power in 1989 on a platform of emotional rhetoric that appealed to his supporters. Milošević propagated a message of extreme Serbian nationalism, calling for the expansion of the Serbian state into Bosnian territory. In a 1988 Belgrade speech, Milosevic identified Bosniaks as the “internal enemy,” a gesture eerily similar to Hitler’s pre-WWII demonization of the Jews in Germany.

Wary of Serbia’s aggressive ambitions, Bosnia declared independence in 1992. A Serb army was quickly formed in Bosnia by Radovan Karadžić with the support of Milošević in Belgrade. The purpose of this army was to cleanse Bosnia of “non-Serbs” who were predominantly Bosniaks. After Bosnia’s declaration of independence, Serbian forces sieged Sarajevo and began the extermination of thousands of Bosniaks that continued for three years.

NATO intervened in 1995 and conducted military strikes that decimated the Serbs, forcing them into a disadvantageous position.  In November of the same year, the presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia signed the Dayton Accords, formally bringing the war to a close. The number of Bosniaks killed is estimated at about 100,00. The population was dramatically reduced through ethnic cleansing.

How could seemingly normal human beings commit such heinous acts of violence in the name of the state? Surely nationalism was the driving force behind the genocide in the Bosnian War, but loyalty to one’s flag should never result in atrocities of this magnitude. History, however, has proven that nationalism has the ability to motivate average people to do terrible things. In the case of the Bosnian War, the Serbian commitment to ethnic cleansing and state expansion resulted in the genocide of innocent men, women, and children.

– Josh Forgét

Sources: Wikipedia, Gendercide.org, Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War, The Three Yugoslavias
Photo: Military Photos

In May of 2012, the Daily Mail posted an article regarding author Matthew White’s book, “The Great Big Book of Horrible Things” which ranks the worst atrocities in history. The rank lists World War II as number one, the regime of Genghis Khan as number two, Mao Zedong’s regime as number three, British India famines as number four, and the fall of the Ming Dynasty as number five. The Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin ranked as number seven, and the Atlantic slave trade as number ten. (The list of all ten is available on Daily Mail.) On another source, the worst atrocities are ranked based on death tolls marking WWII as number one, the regime of China’s Mao Zedong as number two, Soviet Union’s Stalin regime as number three, WWI as number four, and the Russian Civil War as number five.

For the purpose of objectivity, it is important to note that all atrocities are significant and that these calculations seem mostly based on numerical and statistical measures. The presented list below will rank the top five photos of atrocity based on a combination of measures: timeliness (1945-present), death tolls, and global-scale emotional significance.

1) WWII led to approximately 55 million deaths (including the Holocaust)

Hiroshima

(the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki)

2) (1949-1987) During China’s Mao Zedong regime, approximately 40 million lives were lost

ChinaFamine

(Famine during the Great Leap Forward)

3) (1975-1979) Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge/Pol Pot regime caused approximately between 1.7 to 2 million deaths.

PolPotKhmerRouge

4) (1994) Rwanda’s genocide led to approximately 800,000 deaths

RwandanGenocide

5) (1980-1989) The Soviet-Afghani War which led to approximately 1, 500,000 deaths

SovietAfghanWar

Leen Abdallah

Sources: The Hemoclysm, Religious Tolerance
Photos: Daily Mail, Google, Google, Google, Google