Monthly Archives: July 2008

Secular Turkish Journalist Argues Against Closure of AKP

The establishment of a modern secular Turkey nearly a hundred years ago marked an important turning point in the history of Middle Eastern Islamic practices. The Turkish constitution made clear that no party which endeavored to establish religious doctrine as the basis of Turkish law was to be allowed to exist. Turkey’s Constitutional Court is presently hearing charges levied by the Public Prosecutor to close down the Justice and Development Party(AKK) on grounds it has violated the constitution by its pro-religious efforts. Yush Kanli, writing in the Turkish Daily News who regards himself as a believer in secularism expressed his opposition to the effort to close down the AKP. “Some have gone to the extent of accusing me of ‘betraying the secular democratic Republic.”

He writes with passion, “Self-catering democrats, self-catering secularists, self-caterng supporters of individual rights and liberties may not of course comprehend the need to demand justice for all, equality of all in the need to demand justice for all, equality of all in front of justice, to oppose all anti-democratic moves without discrimination and e ven to be able to say, ‘if in principle I am against closure of political parties by a military junta or by by the Constitutional Court, I am against–in principles- the closure of the AKP as well through like many people I have very strong doubts that the ruling party has an agenda incompatible with the secular democratic Republic.”

Kanli raises the important issue of respecting the right of free speech of those you believe may well seek to destroy free speech. He believes the AKP is aware of past history in which other Islamist parties were closed down and will be careful to avoid angering secularist institutions such as the Army and the Constitutional Court. We hope he is correct and agree with his views on democracy for all viewpoints.

Concern For Human Rights In Mediterranean Union

President Nicolas Sarkozy has been actively selling the idea of a Mediterranean Union(MU) which would bring together nations which border on that waterway. Some critics charge the French president is merely trying to foster an end run against having Mediterranean nations like Turkey become members of the European Union. Amnesty International has raised an interesting issue concerned with the proposal supported by Sarkozy– the absence of any statement dealing with human rights. The European Union has strong guarantees requiring all its members to adhere to basic human rights, but in the proposed MU there are no guarantees which would ensure all its members must respect the basic principles of human rights.

Nicolas Berger, Director of Amnesty International’s European office, raises the question: “Has this proposal in part been created to bypass human rights obligations? The total absence of human rights provisions leave the question open. If this is the case, we are facing a dangerous precedent: it not only undermines core principles of the EU’s relations with third countries, but openly allows human rights to be sidelined for the sake of business.”

Eyewitness To Budapest Gay Parade

On the annual Gay Pride parade in Budapest, eight foot high metal fences cordoned off Andrassy ut, the central street in and out of Budapest. Neither pedestrians nor traffic could pass the street, and a constant stream of ambulances, army cars, and riot police patrolled up and down. Helicopters swarmed overhead, adding an ominous drone to the sirens, whistles and hushed strained violence according to a Budapest Sun reporter. The Budapest gay pride parade was scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m but by 3:00 p.m. police had confied onlookers to individual blocks of sidewalks.Dozens of black clad men and women stood behind the barriers or restlessly paced on the sidewalk. A few moments before the parade there was the angry sound of chanting and yelling from the crowd.

The parade of gay men and women began as five armored cars preceded them down the street. “The violence trapped in the crowd exploded into action. A roar of outrage rippled up each side of the barrier, tomatoes flew through the air, left arms rose” as the neo-Nazi crowd displayed their true feelings. Three dozen police followed the parade dressed in riot gear and prepared for action.

According to the Budapest Sun reporter, “both sides will claim a victory. The nationalists made their statement against immorality and police control: the homosexuals and their sympathizers expressed themselves despite considerable adversity.”

Hopefully, some day men and women will be allowed to express their sexual feelings and beliefs without fear of violence. That day has yet to come to Budapest.

Mother Beats Child to Death Over Homework

Paulina Almonacid Rivera came home with her homework but anxiously awaiting the next day which marked her tenth birthday. Her mother, Erna Rivera Care, was furious with the girl for not reading the children’s book, “La Porota,” and in an infuriated rage she beat the girl to death. Police uncovered evidence the girl had been hit in the stomach, face, head and extremities, her arm was fractured and she was even hit with pieces of furniture. After the beating, the mother took the girl to a hospital where she claimed Paulina had fallen down a flight of stairs. Medical staff quickly ascertained the real cause of death and police soon arrived to arrest the mother for murder.

Police say Rivera had a prior history of abusing her children and actually Paulina had been living with relatives in order to escape her mother’s brutality. The girl’s stepfather had even brought the abuse to the attention of a Family Court but nothing was done to protect Paulina or the other children from an abusive mother.

Teachers acknowledged the girl had come to school with bruises and they had contacted the mother only to be put off with lame excuses about Paulina falling down. The real falling down is on the part of school authorities, the courts, and social services. Ironically, teachers said the little girl was a good student who did her work.

China Surpasses USA On The Internet!

China’s booming Internet population has defied attempts by its government to exert control and continues growing at the fastest rate of any nation in the world. There are currently 253,000,000 Chinese on the Internet compared to 223.1 million Americans. The Chinese figure represents a 56% increase from a year ago. This means approximately 19% of the Chinese population is online compared to 71% in the United States. It represents the first time another nation has soared ahead of the United States in access to the Internet. Of course, one dramatic difference is the extent of government interference with use of the Internet by Chinese authorities. Beijing blocks access to Web sites run by dissidents, human rights groups, and some foreign news media. For example, the Chinese population was blocked from seeing pictures or stories concerning Tibetan protests several months ago.

The research firm BOA China, says China’s online population should keep growing by 18% annually and will reach about 490 million by 2012, a number that exceeds the population of the United States. The bad news is continued Chinese government efforts to suppress dissident voices on the Internet. The good news is this spurt in Internet membership offers possibilities the creative ingenuity of those on Internet may one day surpass the ability of any government to suppress the voices of freedom.

Millions Of Afghans Living In Iran

A recurrent theme of the Bush administration on how Iran has supported terrorism and is a hindrance in the fight to create a democratic Afghanistan. It has been well documented that during the American invasion of Afghanistan assistance was provided by Iranian intelligence sources since Iran has long detested the Taliban. Seyed Taqui Qaemi, head of the Iranian Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants, estimates up to 12.5% of the Afghanistan population is now residing in Iran. His figures indicate their are now 2,000,640 Afghan refugees current in his country and they are being provided health, cultural, educational and social services. His office has also help provide literacy education to some 602,000 Afghans. He offered figures that 12,000 Afghans have graduated from Iranian universities and there are currently 3,700 Afghans attending college in Iran.

These figures suggest it would be in the best interest for Iran to have a stable Afghanistan which can provide employment and education for refugees now scattered in Iran and other nations of Asia. The Iranian government is also compelled to focus large resources to deal with the extensive trade in drugs coming from Afghanistan which has resulted in thousands of Iranian drug addicts. It is unfortunate the Bush administration is blind to the joint interests of the United States and Iran in working to end violence in Afghanistan.

Argentine Justice A Long Time Coming

During the 1970s a brutal Argentine military regime controlled the nation and ruthlessly crushed opponents accusing them of being radicals or communists. Thousands disappeared into the labyrinth of the torture chambers which were used by the military to abuse and degrade those who opposed their rule of violence. Hundreds met their faith by being thrown out of airplanes into the ocean below. Former chief of the third army corps, Luciano Benjamin Menendez was finally sentenced to life imprisonment after a judge revoked his house arrest for crimes against humanity. He was charged with kidnapping, torturing, and killing four activists in 1977. Menendez pleaded “not guilty” charging those who had rendered verdict on him represented “those guerrillas (who)are now in power.”

Menendez played a central role in the infamous La Perla clandestine detention center in the province of Cordoba, where 2,300 people were held in captivity. Only 17 kidnapees survived the experience. The people who died did not commit any crime other than having different political views than the thugs who held them captive.

Sleeping With The Nukes!

Three officers who work with missiles at the 91st Space Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, fell asleep while holding a classified “code component” — a hardware dev ice containing the codes needed to activate the control system for Minot’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. The device, kept in a locked case, installs the codes that allow the missile launch control center to command the ICBMs in the missile silos. One piece of hardware is installed and the old one is removed, somewhat akin to changing hard drives in a computer. Four officers had completed the process of changes the codes for the system underground in the launch control center and returned upside to the large living center which contains a kitchen and bedrooms. Like Goldilocks, they went to some beds and fell sound asleep.

Last August, airmen of Minot’s 5th bomb Wing mistakenly loaded six nuclear warheads onto a B-52 which then flew to Barksdale, Louisiana. The bomber sat on the runway for about 12 hours before someone noticed the error.

The incident of sleeping officers, in itself, may not be anything more than three tired men who lay down for a nap and forgot to take necessary precautions. But, the rash of such incidents raises questions about oversight on our nuclear program.

Kenya Churches Call For Compulsory Religious Exams

Two major church bodies in Kenya ant religious education to made compulsory in the nation’s schools and students compelled to take examinations on what they learn about religion. The National Council of Churches of Kenya and the kenya Episcopal Conference said the education system and curriculum needed to be reviewed to include national values and discipline in students while they are young. The NCCK said, “The solution to the challenges we have experienced in our educational institutions is in a restoration of a wholesome education and the development of a national value system.” The Catholic Church also added in its belief student unrest in schools is a result of a lack of religious influence and value formation. These church bodies want the teaching of Christian religion in all schools and the hiring of chaplains to ensure teachers are getting the right morals across.

The church bodies were uncertain on bringing back the good old days when students could be subjected to corporal punishment which had been abolished by Parliament in 2001. The church groups are upset at recent student riots which they attribute to lack of good morals. One can only assume they mean students are not obeying those in authority.

There is an assumption running through these religious statements that all people in a religion agree on what constitutes morals and values and the right view of issues. The Anglican church is currently divided over issues of gay and female rights. Which side of this conflict will be taught students in school as constituting the “Christian view?” Schools exist to create critical thinking individuals, not to propogate the ideas of a group of men who run churches.

By the way, what is the correct answer to the question: “God’s views concerning obedience to blind authority is..?”

Egyptian Youth Activists Arrested For Singing

Young activists from the Egyptian April 6 movement organized a protest over the arrest of 14 of their compatriots. The 14 youths were taken off the beach as they prepared to celebrate a national holiday and are being detained for at least 15 days by the police. Activist Waleed Rashed told the Daily News, “we felt we could spread political awareness through plays and songs. What we were doing was certainly not a demonstration or a protest, but a celebration for Egypt…We also decided to try a new form of protest through patriotic songs.” In Mubarak Egypt, gatherings with more than five people forming an organization of more than five people are outlawed under emergency laws. It is also illegal to hand out leaflets the police deem to be political in nature, and, naturally, that express views contrary to those of the government.

Rashed said they were singing songs and flying a kite which had a picture of the Egyptian flag when police arrived, destroyed the kite for some reason, and then ordered the group off the beach. One can only gather from this incident that Egyptian students should be careful to avoid singing patriotic songs without permission of authorities. Such is the state of democracy in Egypt, in the year 2008.