Week 2: Causes of Human Rights Violations In this week, we return to the seven human rights violations from around the world that were introduced in last week’s media presentation and explore the causes of each.
U.S.: Japanese Internment Camps The United States responded to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor with Executive Order 9066, which was authorized by President Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. This order excluded all Japanese descendants from the Pacific Coast of the United States, such as California, Oregon, and Washington.
On the West Coast of the United States, Japanese Americans were subsequently ordered to report to assembly centers on May 9, 1942, for removal to internment camps. In total, 120,000 ethnic Japanese people, 62% of whom were American-‐born U.S. citizens, were detained in War Relocation Camps for the duration of World War II. Africa: Rwandan Genocide Tensions initially flared over the belief that the airplanes of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Hutu President Cyprien Ntaryamira were shot down by Rwandan and Hutu extremist groups on April 6, 1994. After further investigation by Rwandan officials, it was held that Hutu extremist were responsible. To date, disagreement remains. The Hutus responded to the accusation with violence in fear that the Tutsi regime would enslave the Hutus if they remained in power. Hutu militias associated with the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi political groups began to murder Tutsis in mass numbers.
Most of the foreign dignitaries were evacuated during the early days of the violence as Hutu civilians were forced to participate in the killings or be shot. Many were instructed to kill their Tutsi neighbors and wartime rape became the norm. It was noted that the rape of Tutsi women was, to a certain degree, systematic. South America: Pinochet’s Rule in Chile Chile was known for its stability in Latin America, compared with its neighbors, until the 1960s. By then, the Cold War began to affect the mountainous nation, and Chile became a part of the Alliance for Progress. The alliance was to keep socialistic revolutions from taking hold in Latin America. But as the decade went on, labor unions took on a stronger role in Chilean politics and a youthful leftist movement spread like wildfire. In 1970, the Socialist Party won the presidency with Salvador Allende Gossens. Allende had promised a republic to the people of Chile and said he would provide reforms that would make the working class more equal. President Nixon told his advisers that he wanted Allende out of power. The only way for Allende to be overthrown
was by the Chilean military rising up against him, so the CIA was ordered to instigate a military coup. The Chilean people were seeking their own change, regardless of the coup, after the economy began to crumble under Allende’s rule. By 1973, the Chilean congress and judiciary stood against Allende and claimed that his government went against the Chilean constitution. The military then stormed his palace and Allende died while armed. Pinochet was then swept into office where he dismantled the Chilean parliament, suppressed all opposition, gained control of all commerce, banned trade unions, and made Chilean citizens abide by his rule with force and torture.
Europe: The Holocaust Trouble began shortly after the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. After Hitler won the free elections of 1933, his ability to invade and succeed in military actions from 1939 to 1942 in Denmark, Eastern Europe, France, Holland, and Russia worked in conjunction with his persecution of the Jews of that day. Hitler was able to convince a large portion of the German citizenry, and often people from various other countries, of his idea that the Jewish culture was in need of extermination.
Nazi Germany systematically sanctioned the genocide of more than6 million European Jews through a variety of cruel and tortuous methods. It should be noted that these estimated 6 million Jews represented approximately two thirds of the estimated 9 million Jews who resided in Europe prior to their extermination during World War In addition to the 6 million Jewish people exterminated by the Nazis during the war, an estimated 5 to 11 million ethnic Poles, Romani, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, people with disabilities, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other political and religious opponents were held in concentration camps and executed.
Middle East: Iranian Election Crackdown Protests revolved around the questionable June 13, 2009, Iranian presidential election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won. The support of the protestors (mostly Iranian citizens) and international onlookers was in favor of the opposing candidate, Mir-‐Hossein Mousavi.
The Iranian government arrested approximately 170 of its citizens in Tehran on June 13 and 14. By August 2009, it was confirmed by the Iranian government that there were over 4,000 detained as a result of the residual protests. Reports have revealed that executions of protestors were conducted in secret and without notification of their families or legal representation. Though the Iranian government has openly claimed responsibility for 27 deaths, media outlets have reported over 150, resulting from the protests. Reports also have indicated that military personnel broke into homes, intentionally harmed their citizenry, and shot into large crowds of people, unprovoked.
Opposition leaders have claimed that the prisoners have been tortured and raped in prison and have condemned these actions, but Iran’s parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, denied that any prisoners were abused. The Iranian government went to unforeseen lengths to control media portrayal of the election and protests by its citizenry. The censorship was said to be at a level of total blackout of all negative depictions of the Iranian election and government. This was also the first time when citizens banded together in attempts to dismantle the Iranian government’s control of the Internet by using Facebook and Twitter to distribute codes that would allow them to communicate openly about their reality in Iran. As a result, the Iranian government totally dismantled the Internet. Asia: Chinese Treatment of Tibet The Tibetan legal code, derived from the 13th century, is known to allow legal punishment for crimes that included physical mutilation, such as eye gouging and/or hand and feet mutilation. The Chinese government believed that the Tibetan government and this legal practice was too archaic and as a result corrected these traditions by imposing its own will upon Tibet. The Chinese destroyed monasteries and have murdered an estimated 500,000 to 1.2 million Tibetans in an effort to impose their laws. They also have kidnapped, displaced, produced inhuman prison conditions, arrested with no criminal justice, and prohibited citizens from openly expressing disagreement with the Chinese government. Tibetans also note that they are not free to express their religion (Buddhism) as they are called to do.
Australia: Treatment of Aboriginals/Stolen Generations The Australian government believed that there was a need to protect the Aboriginal children who were unable to protect themselves against neglect, abuse, and abandonment as a result of the growing industrialization and urbanization of Australia. Aboriginal children were removed from their biological parents and given to non-‐Aboriginal Australians to raise and indoctrinate them into the nontraditional Australian way of life. Law enforcement was given search and seizure powers to investigate and seize Aboriginal youth and transfer them to government-‐sanctioned institutions, and faith-‐based institutions were used to house, rehabilitate, and reintegrate the Aboriginal children back into society.