STAND Student Podcast: Democratic Republic of Congo Series Episode 3

STAND Student Podcast: Democratic Republic of Congo Series Episode 3

STAND Student Podcast

STAND Student Podcast: Democratic Republic of Congo Series Episode 3

Young Greens outside the Dáil

Listen to the third epsiode of this series on the following platforms:

iTunes

Spotify

Google Podcasts

Anchor

Castbox

Breaker

Overcast

Radio Republic

Welcome to the third episode of our podcast series on the Democratic Republic of Congo, the entirety of which has been researched, produced and edited by TCD Student Maria Salto Galdon.

In this episode we look at features of the Congolese Government, as well as the role that militias and armed groups play in the perpetration of human rights violations in the Congo.

We will also be talking to Mariam Sawadogo, Western and Central Africa Coordinator of Frontline Defenders, an organisation that provides support to human rights activists all around the world.

Learn more about the work of Frontline Defenders at:  https://www.frontlinedefenders.org

Follow us on Instagram @stand.ie for updates and links to future podcast episodes.

 

 

Compassion in the Face of COVID-19: World Humanitarian Day 2020

Compassion in the Face of COVID-19: World Humanitarian Day 2020

Humanitarian

Compassion in the Face of COVID-19: World Humanitarian Day 2020

Statues of female steel workers with facemasks

19th August 2020

World Humanitarian Day was created by the United Nations eleven years ago and it occurs annually on the 19th of  August. The aim of World Humanitarian Day is to celebrate the work of humanitarians and to show support and gratitude for their work. The United Nations’ definition of a humanitarian is someone who dedicates their life to helping others. 

World Humanitarian Day was established as a result of the 2003 bomb attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad in an effort to commemorate the 22 lives lost and appreciate the hard work that humanitarians undertake on a daily basis. Humanitarians tragically lose their lives each year, for example in 2019, 90% of the 1,009 worldwide attacks were on healthcare staff. Since the 2003 bombing many humanitarian groups have organized campaigns across the globe for World Humanitarian Day. The purpose of the campaigns is to advocate for safety and security for humanitarians and for the survival and dignity of people in crisis. 

 

“In 2019, 90% of the 1,009 worldwide attacks were on healthcare staff”

Each year there is usually a theme for World Humanitarian Day. In 2019 the theme was female humanitarians and the UN shared 24 real stories about the lives of humanitarians to represent each hour of the day. They all have very different roles but the one thing they all have in common is that they are human; they all experience moments of joy and moments of frustration just like everyone else in the world. 

The humanitarian efforts to combat Covid-19 will of course be the focus of this year’s World Humanitarian Day because humanitarians have been courageously helping the public during Covid-19. They have put others before themselves. It has been an unprecedented challenge that humanitarians have committed their time, efforts and lives to fighting against. Humanitarians face extra challenges in communities where there is conflict, regular outbreaks of diseases or natural disasters. Emergency two way telephone lines have been set up for humanitarians to communicate with one another and access healthcare resources. Due to the quick spread of Covid-19 and the travel restrictions that were put in place humanitarians were at a higher risk of burnout.  

Young people have been involved in the humanitarian response to Covid-19. They have used social media to share important and reliable information about Covid-19. The hashtag #RealLifeHeroes can be used across social media platforms for everyone to show their appreciation for humanitarians.  

 

 

Featured photo by United Nations

 
 

 

 

Racism’s Acclimation: Then and Now – A Commentary on Racism’s Immortal Grip on Black Empowerment

Racism’s Acclimation: Then and Now – A Commentary on Racism’s Immortal Grip on Black Empowerment

Humanitarian

Racism’s Acclimation: Then and Now – A Commentary on Racism’s Immortal Grip on Black Empowerment

Tokyo 2020 Candidacy poster

12th August 2020

Seemingly finite, black oppression has had a full and assorted life. What began as the slave trade has since regenerated, allowing racism to maintain an extended legacy. Historically, as notions of autonomy have developed in the black community, racists have sought to preserve injustice through Trojan Horse mechanisms that grant only false autonomy. The 13th amendment was introduced and an end to slavery in the U.S. was ratified, but a ninety year stretch of legalised segregation by dint of Jim Crow Law followed. Today, 2020’s socio-political climate is not dissimilar as racial discrimination has adapted and evolved into systemic abuse and institutionally shrouded brutalities.

It may be safe to assume that few are unaware of the death of George Floyd, an American black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police in an example of needless force. Indisputably, police brutality is an issue protected by authority, an issue that is in dire need of elimination. However, there are far more nuanced yet equally prevalent forms of discrimination weighing heavily on the black communities of 2020’s developed nations.

Racist atrocities today are veiled thinly by badges of authority, discriminatory policies, and structural loopholes. This includes government-approved policy. In Ta Nehisi Coates’ ‘The Case for Reparations’, the extended legacy of racism is exposed through its presence in America’s housing policy. The income gap between black and white households was the same in 2013 as that in 1970 despite the general decline in poverty among the black community, pointing to a system favouring white elitism.

In Ireland, direct provision saw refugees forced to live liked kenneled dogs, their humanity implicitly disregarded by withstanding bias. In light of such issues and the Black Lives Matter movement, it is questionable how progressive we really are in the 21st century, and if we as a white, privileged majority realise on an equitable scale the extent of damage that has been done to the black community.

 

“Indisputably, police brutality is an issue protected by authority, an issue that is in dire need of elimination”

Such is the case in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the once affluent neighbourhoods of Greenwood are now underdeveloped and under resourced. Formerly labelled the ‘Black Wall Street’, Greenwood was one of the wealthiest black communities in the U.S.; a place wherein African Americans could flourish socially, economically, and politically. However, in 1921 when a young black man named Dick Rowland was arrested for assaulting a white woman, this affluence came to an abrupt and unjust end.

A white mob called for him to be lynched, and members of Rowland’s local community, Greenwood Oklahoma, fought against this. What began with a baseless arrest quickly snowballed into a massacre, as white mobs retaliated against a community trying simply to protect its own. An attack on Greenwood began the morning of the arrest, lasting throughout the day where looting, bombing, and shooting all took place. Thousands of black residents were taken prisoner, and it is estimated that over three hundred residents of Greenwood died, 1,200 black-owned houses, schools, businesses, and more were torched, and tens of millions worth of today’s dollars in damage was amounted.

In short, a once thriving ethnic community was intersected and suppressed, its chrysalis overturned, the effects of which are still being felt today. Evidently, a debt has been unclaimed by those who remain unaccounted for times like the Tulsa Race Massacre. It is also by those who are in a vantage position to redress these crimes for a people disadvantaged. This is why a Case for Reparations has been made under the Human Rights Watch, asking for the failure to invest in and rebuild the Greenwood community by government and city officials to be amended, and relieve some of the impacts that are still felt today. ‘Ongoing racial segregation, discriminatory policies, and structural racism have left black Tulsans, particularly those living in North Tulsa, with a lower quality of life and fewer opportunities’. The document follows in a similar vein to the HR 40, a Bill calling for an investigation to be made into the institution of slavery, its fallout and recommendations to be made for appropriate remedies.

Black oppression has had a full and assorted life. To isolate historical instances of racism like the Tulsa race massacre from those of today is to undermine its unfortunate vitality. This succession of abuse has hindered the development of the black community and only continues to do so. On these grounds the Black Lives Matter movement is as applicable today as it was two hundred years ago when slavery was rife.

What the Tulsa Race Massacre shows is both the aftershock and evolution of racism. What it shows is how harmful it is to dismiss accountability, and the error in not learning from past mistakes as much of the world has done today. It results in further harm and related action and inaction. In modern society, poverty among the black community has been preserved by a thickly laid oppression, and the black lives matter movement may very well be its stripper.

 

 

 

Featured photo by Aaron Fulkerson

 
 

 

 

STAND Student Podcast: Democratic Republic of Congo Series Episode 3

STAND Student Podcast: A new series on the Democratic Republic of Congo

STAND Student Podcast

A new series on the Democratic Republic of Congo

Young Greens outside the Dáil

Listen to the first two episodes of this series on the following platforms:

iTunes

Spotify

Google Podcasts

Anchor

Castbox

Breaker

Overcast

Radio Republic

Welcome to the first two episodes of our podcast series on the Democratic Republic of Congo, the entirety of which has been researched, produced and edited by TCD Student Maria Salto Galdon. 

In episode one, we’ll journey into the history of the DRC, an intricate web of events that seem to have remained in the shadows but that as we will see, are very much connected, and are a direct result of the Western world’s destructive practices.

We will also briefly look at a particular point in history that Ireland and the Congo have in common.

In episode 2, we’ll be talking to Serge, a former Trinity College Dublin student and Congolese native, who will be telling us about his life both in the DRC and  Ireland.

Serge is also the singer in many of the background songs that feature in this series, so make sure to subscribe to his channel through the links in the episode description.

Follow us on Instagram @stand.ie for updates and links to future podcast episodes.

 

 

“Stop Killing Us” – Police Brutality Is Destroying Brazil’s Most Vulnerable Communities

“Stop Killing Us” – Police Brutality Is Destroying Brazil’s Most Vulnerable Communities

Humanitarian

“Stop Killing Us” – Police Brutality Is Destroying Brazil’s Most Vulnerable Communities

Lone protester, against a line of riot police
Lone protester, against a line of riot police

21th July 2020

 

Police brutality in the United States has been making global headlines recently, sparking international outrage and solidarity with victims. However, despite receiving only a fraction of the media attention, a similar phenomenon is currently wreaking havoc on Brazilian society. In the first four months of 2020 alone, an alarming 606 people in Brazil were killed by the police. In 2019, this number reached 1,814, greatly surpassing the US’s yearly average of 1,000

Political leaders in Brazil have defended these actions as a necessary response to violent gangs and drug-traffickers operating in the country’s favelas, low-income neighbourhoods which are home to Brazil’s most disadvantaged citizens, the majority of whom are black or POC. Owing to decades of state neglect, the favelas operate under an informal structure, of which gangs are commonly the rulers. Determined to eradicate criminal activity, state authorities have largely voiced support for brutal police tactics as the only solution.

Far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, infamous for his trademark gesture of a weapon with his thumb and index finger, argues that officers should not face charges if they kill on duty. In an interview, Bolsonaro claimed excitedly that the approval of such a policy would lead to criminals dying in the streets “like cockroaches” . Likewise, the Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel, who took office in the beginning of 2019, promised that authorities would “dig graves” to bury criminals if necessary and vowed to “slaughter” any armed subject. Evidently, police in Brazil aren’t just trained to hit their target; they’re encouraged to kill.

A cause for concern, it appears that the state condonation of violence affords police officers a free pass to kill without restraint and to expect no repercussions. Although police are legally obligated to call forensic experts to inspect the scene of a fatal shooting, this rule is widely ignored. In an interview with the BBC, Paulo Roberto Mello Cunha, a state prosecutor who investigates allegations of police violence, noted that sometimes, officers intentionally neglect to leave crime scenes preserved. According to Cunha, there are frequent claims from family members that victims of police killings are taken to hospital already dead in an attempt to cover up wrongdoings. More shocking still, there have been alleged incidents of guns and drugs being placed beside bodies of those killed as a means to incriminate them.

 

“Evidently, police in Brazil aren’t just trained to hit their target; they’re encouraged to kill.”

Although the police aim at gang members, there is no guarantee they will hit their target. Owing to the clustered nature of the favelas, residents live in close proximity to one another, and the result is that scenes comparable to a warzone are occurring in the middle of residential neighbourhoods, alongside ordinary people going about their daily lives. In addition to skirmishes in the streets, snipers on police helicopters, popularly referred to as “cavirão voador”, or “flying big skulls”, have been ordered to routinely patrol the skies and open fire on potential suspects. In the Complexo de Maré favela in northern Rio de Janeiro, an epicentre of police violence, a school has attempted to take measures against unintentional civilian killings, installing a big yellow sign on its roof which pleads “School, don’t shoot”.

Yet despite protective measures, civilians living in favelas are repeatedly caught in the crossfire between gang members and police. In May of 2019, Jean Rodrigo da Silva, a jiu-jitsu instructor who offered classes to disadvantaged students and adults, was shot by an officer in the head while unloading gym materials from his car. Only months later, in September 8-year-old Agatha Felix was killed in the back of a van after police, aiming for suspected criminals on a motorbike, overshot their target. 

The demographic breakdown of those who have died at the hands of Brazil’s police officers has not gone unnoticed by the country’s citizens. Overall, out of the 9,000 police killings to occur over the last decade, black men counted for over 75%. This shocking reality spurred angry demonstrations in September of last year in which civilians took to the streets to protest, some among them holding a banner which read: “Stop killing us” . 

Those residing in the abject poverty of Brazil’s favelas, where drug traffickers and criminal gangs operate, are predominantly black or POC. And while it is sadly not unusual for low-income areas to be populated by racial minorities, the alarming scale of police violence being deployed in the favelas means that structural poverty is posing a very real threat to the lives of black and POC Brazilian citizens. Bolsonaro and his government are right to take action against gang crime. However, carrying out violent police operations in favelas will achieve nothing more than the destruction of Brazil’s most vulnerable communities.

 

 

Featured photo Rogério S.

 

 

A Multi-Dimensional Approach to the Climate Crisis

A Multi-Dimensional Approach to the Climate Crisis

ENVIRONMENT

A Multi-Dimensional Approach to the Climate Crisis

Black and white photograph of yemeni children

Elizabeth Quinn

2nd July 2020

 

Human rights are a powerful tool and provide strong language to tackle the climate crisis. This can be seen in climate case Ireland. Our constitutional rights and the European convention on human rights are being used in this case to challenge Ireland’s national mitigation plan 2017. Climate cases worldwide have had symbolic value and created developments and clarifications in their own countries in several jurisdictions. Although national litigation has a role to play, it is limited in scope. In order to have a strategy effective overall to climate change, a multi-dimensional approach is also needed. We need to examine the limitations that human rights law has in its current formulation. Without being aware of these limitations we are in murky waters where the results of our efforts could be futile in the long term.

 

There are several criticisms of the human rights approach to the climate crisis. I will outline two: the limitations are useful in creative thinking of how else climate change can be dealt with, while complementing the human rights paradigm.

 

The first criticism is that there is an anthropocentric bias in climate strategies. This means that international human rights law is too focused on the individual. Climate cases argue that people’s rights will be affected if the climate is to degrade. This does not take the whole eco-system degradation into account. Thus the approach does not take into account the vulnerability of the eco-systems as a whole and the dependence that we have on the earth. Thus it is argued that human rights cannot respond efficiently to the demands and reality of the earth itself. 

 

Academics such as Kotzé have argued for a re-imagining of vulnerability theory in order to protect not only the individual but the environment itself. The author takes Fineman’s vulnerability theory which seeks to re-imagine the vulnerable subject as one who is universally created by social and political decisions. Kotzé argues that vulnerability should not be detached from environmental factors as our dependence on the earth makes us vulnerable. He states that using this theory will open space, much more than the current human rights paradigm, for a focus on the earth’s eco-system in a more comprehensive manner.

 

“The first criticism is that there is an anthropocentric bias in climate strategies. This means that international human rights law is too focused on the individual”

There is also a movement of giving legal personality to nature. Legal personality means to be capable of having rights and obligations. This provides rights for the resource itself. The idea of nature having legal personality was first written about in 1972 in the book “Should trees have standing”. In the book Stone argues that environmental interests should be recognized separately from human interests and thus nature should have legal standing. It is important to remember here that many other non-human entities have standing. For example, Companies have legal personality, so why shouldn’t nature? 

 

One recent example of this is the Whanganui River in New Zealand which has been declared to be a legal person. The river is one of New Zealand’s most important natural resources and the Maori tribe had been fighting for more than 140 years to get legal protection for the river. Based on this precedent other areas of New Zealand have also been declared to be legal persons. The river has rights and obligations. Two guardians have been appointed to act on behalf of the river- one from the crown and one from the tribe which traditionally use the river. This creates space for the river to be protected as an entity in itself, rather than being protected only when individuals are affected. 

 

This approach creates an alternative to the assumption that people have sovereignty over nature. The Paris agreement recognizes ecosystem integrity and has been argued to have a faint acknowledgement of this discourse. This argument creates an alternative to the individual-centric nature of the human rights approach.

 

The second criticism is the state-centric focus of international human rights law. Corporations have been left out of the equation. International human rights law is not directly applicable to corporations. This is problematic when fossil fuel corporations have accounted for 91% of the global industrial greenhouse emissions and 70% of all human-made emissions. An upheaval of the economic system is needed. There is a lack of political will to do so at this moment in time.

 

One asks- is there an international legal framework for business and human rights? The UN guiding principles on business and human rights are the core instrument at the international level. Although the instrument is powerful is is soft law and thus not binding. This means that corporations are not bound by it. Corporations themselves have begun initiatives, however many of them include self-reporting and are voluntary. Some of the biggest players in industries can opt-out of these initiatives. Thus there is a lack of direct obligations placed on corporations. There is a discussion now about a treaty on business and human rights, however, if it is an overarching treaty I believe it will not be supported by states and businesses alike due to their economic interests. 

 

The human rights approach does not seem to be capable of tackling the way in which the global economy operates. Without confronting this, it may not be possible to bring about the system change required. However, in tackling this, specific treaties for particular industries should be focused on. This would allow one to focus and regulate the industries which cause the most emissions and damage. It is doubtful, especially in this economy that this will happen.

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by ANGELA BENITO