Category Archives: Human Rights

Is Tony Abbott the worst Western leader?

While I’ve written about Australia’s policy towards asylum seekers before, it’s hard to avoid the temptation of coming back to it. It’s the thing that frustrates me the most about my passport country, and it taps into a nasty undercurrent of xenophobia in Australian society. This policy of exclusion towards asylum seekers seems to be personified at the moment by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott – a man who seems to be an endless cycle of gaffes and plain awful comments. So just how bad is his record on this issue? Continue reading


Who do we kill?

I’m opposed to the death penalty. It’s not a proper deterrent, it risks killing the innocent and it’s applied in a haphazard manner, depending on someone’s income, legal advice, appeal to the jury and especially the colour of their skin. At a base level as well, something in me finds it repulsive that a government can strap a person to a bed to inject them with poison and call it justice. However, it’s still not a simple issue, and there are cases that make me question my assumptions. Today I want to look at three different cases from around the world. They’re all very different, and ask some extremely tough questions. Continue reading

United States Torture Report – Part 1

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on the US Congress report on CIA torture.. Today will focus on what the report says about the program, and on Sunday I will focus on what this says about the way the United States reacted to 9/11, and what will happen now.

What has been common knowledge for years was yesterday finally officially released in an extraordinary report by the US Congress into the CIA’s treatment of terrorism suspects in their Detention and Interrogation Program. Right there on paper in black and white are the facts: The CIA tortured detainees, failed to extract any useful information, then lied to their overseers about the whole program. So let’s get right into it, and look at what the report reveals about those facts. For the full report, follow this link. Continue reading

43 dead students – A war in Mexico

For the last eight years, a war has been going on in Mexico. Not between states, but between the government and some of the richest, biggest and most violent criminal gangs in the world – the cartels. It’s not even as simple as ‘criminals vs. cops’, as the cartels and the state are intertwined at all levels. This was demonstrated in horrifying fashion this September, when 43 students protesting discrimination were arrested by the police, and handed over to a cartel to be murdered. Today forensic experts announced that burnt remains found nearby include at least one of those students. So how bad is the situation in Mexico that something like this can happen? And what does it say about the links between the cartels and the state? Continue reading

Pope Francis, gay rights and the 21st century

This week the first big news came out of the Vatican synod, a gathering of bishops called together by Pope Francis to discuss the church’s teaching on the family. A preliminary report suggested that the church should take a more positive stance on homosexuality, and that gays and lesbians have “gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community”. It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of gay marriage, but it is by far the most positive wording to come out of any Vatican statement so far. So is this really a turnaround for the Catholic Church and homosexuality? And how does it fit in with attitudes across the world? Continue reading

The letter ن – Recognising Middle Eastern minorities

This week for my Middle Eastern Culture course I had to write a blog post on a ‘cultural object’ in the Middle East – this is that same blog post. It’s different from what I write most weeks, but still fits the blog quite well I think.

Many of us will recently have wondered why certain people have been changing their Facebook profile photos to the Arabic letter ‘N’ (or a strange half-moon if you don’t read Arabic). The change is a sign of solidarity with Iraqi Christians who Islamic State have forced to flee their home of Mosul. IS painted the letter on the houses of Christians (Nasrani in Arabic) to mark them out from their neighbours. The events in Mosul, and the use of this letter, show the two sided nature of the struggle for recognition faced by Middle Eastern minorities – from the outside world and in the Middle East itself. Continue reading