Friday, December 10, 2004

Human Rights

Today is the 56th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Till the year 2003, I was looking for any copy of this declaration. During that time when I ask about such matter I receive very weird looks. One day a baathist, feeling pity for me, told me to take care and to stop asking about it, otherwise I might be hurt.

Till the late 1970s there was a lesson in Iraq schools, starting at fourth grade, called (National Education). It dealt with many issues, except Human Rights, such as the three authorities (legislative, executive, judicial). When Saddam seized power this lesson changed into an educational doses about Baath ideology and to be changed later into some kind of rituals to praise Saddam and to wash brains.

This year, a new lesson is going to be taught in college about Human Rights. Asking many students and lecturers, it is obvious that there is lot of ignorance about this subject and others (like democracy).

After April 9th 2003, I asked many Iraqis about the Universal Declaration. I can claim that 95% of them had never heard about the name. I’m speaking about college students and middle class people.
Feeling free to ask about copies of the declaration, I managed to find two copies (English & Arabic) offered to me by a retired Iraqi official who worked for the UN. I printed out them, photocopied the printout, and distributed them. The reaction I got from people, frankly speaking, was discouraging. Anyhow, I wrote letters to newspapers to publish the declaration. At least one of the most popular newspapers (Al-Sabah) published it and other universal declarations by the UN which I had known nothing about them.

I believe and insist that we, Iraqis, need educational rehabilitation. For that we need continuous support by the free world.


Blogger Louise said...

This is an excellent thing you have done Ibn Alrafidain. I am a bit discouraged, but not surprised by the reaction you had from people who heard the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the first time. It is a good thing to know that at least one newspaper published it. I hope more newspapers, radio and television show deal with the issue. Saddam's brainwashing has surely soaked so deeply into people's minds that it will take many years for it to be rinsed clean. Same goes for many other dictators in the Middle East and elsewhere. Teaching people about their basic rights as human beings is the last thing a dictator would want to do, as it would bring about his own downfall.

2:39 AM  
Blogger Diogenes Of Pumpkintown said...

Don't feel too bad about your people.

Probably 95% of people in the US have never heard of it either.

3:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ibn_Alrafidain,
As my mom always says, 'great minds think alike, small ones seldom differ.' (Joke, har har.)

Did you see my post under 'awareness'? You can now get the full text on the web:

Happy Universal Human Rights Day, my friend!


3:41 AM  
Blogger Louise said...

Beth, my grandmother's version was "and fools seldom differ."

8:40 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Greetings, Ibn, I wish you health and happiness and above all safety for you and yours.

Most Americans would not know about the Declaration, mainly because it was adopted by the UN, and as you should know has fell out of favor with the people in the US, for at least the last generation.

But it once was a favored topic and something that the US was deeply involved with from its start. John Humphrey from the US helped draft the initial ideas and principles.

Personally dedicated to the task of preparing this Declaration, Eleanor Roosevelt, who chaired the Human Rights Commission in its first years, asked, "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."

So, you can see that "The Declaration" is a noble and needed document to the nations and would be nations of the world. But let me make a statement here, my opinion as well as millions of others opinion all over the world.

The United Nations has become impotent. The United Nations has failed or even made worse almost every mission it has undertaken for the last 30 years.

For an enlightment of how most informed Americans feel about the UN at this time in history, look HERE (scroll down to find the topic "Coalition of the crooked and unfree?"

Yes, most Americans (under the age of 65 or so) would have no recollection or idea of this document, unless they had a college course that happened to bring it up for study or discussion.

But don't worry about that, because in each and every American's heart the basic ideas and thoughts in the "Declaration" is alive and well. Also, in our hearts are these Americans .

This is MY post

Papa Ray
West Texas

8:46 PM  
Blogger Louise said...

Papa Ray, perhaps when you live in a culture where repect for human rights are so commonly woven into the fabric of everyday life, you tend to not be aware that such a document exists and that in many parts of the world governments do not respect the basic rights of their citizens. However, I'm willing to bet that the average American intuitively knows what those rights are, even if they don't know there is a document that crystalized those principles and made them goals toward which we should all strive and vehemently defend. And you are right. When the United Nations passed that declaration, that organization was new and still had promise. It has been totally compromised and is now more than just useless. It actively endangers the human rights of many people the world over. And so does the left, which thinks that the principle of sovereignty is more important that human rights. The case of Iraq is a glaring example of how misguided that interpretation is. Note the quotation from the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur on this site.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Pat in NC said...

Good for you Ibn for taking the initiative.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Louise said...

Yes, Pat in NC, I should have said that, too. It was on my mind. It is through individual actions and working together that Iraqis will begin to taste democracy. So many of our favorite bloggers have the right stuff, don't they.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Greetings, sorry about the "missing link" from previous post, about how Americans and others feel about the UN.

Here it is:

Scroll down to the "Coalition of the crooked and unfree"

For some reason it won't link. Copy and paste it to address bar.

This is My post

Papa Ray
West Texas

12:31 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Thank you Louise for your thoughts.

As I said in my last paragraph,

"But don't worry about that, because in each and every American's heart the basic ideas and thoughts in the "Declaration" is alive and well. Also, in our hearts are these Americans" .

As you said in your post:

"However, I'm willing to bet that the average American intuitively knows what those rights are, even if they don't know there is a document that crystalized those principles and made them goals toward which we should all strive and vehemently defend".

The link I had that didn't work says much more about why Americans and many other people in the world have no confidence at all in the United Nations at this time.

If the U. N. had done its job for the last 30 to 40 years, I am willing to believe that there would have been several wars years ago (UN Troops and others) and that the world would be a much safer place where human rights were accepted and enforced.

This is My Post

Papa Ray
West Texas

12:43 AM  
Blogger Louise said...

Please excuse my indulgence, Papa Ray, but John Humphrey was a Canadian, not an American.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Greetings, Louise

Not to turn this blog into a chat room, but thanks for the correction. For someone that has studied that period in our history(me), That mistake is funny. Maybe I wish he was an American, maybe that had its effect on my old mind. But in any case he was a great man with many great accomplishments.

I would like to take the liberty of posting part of one of your posts from I guess your web site.

"This, folks, is how tyrany is defeated and democracy spreads. Regretably, at the beginning of the 21st century, it still requires the sacrifice of lives and the bravery of those young people in Iran, who, God willing, will not meet the same fate as countless numbers before them did. The war in Iraq has bolstered the democracy movement in neighbouring Iran and, no doubt, in many other parts of the Muslim world. Is it worth the ultimate sacrifice of so many lives? Only those whose countries are struggling for freedom can call that one. Patronizing editors of medical science journals should shut up, stick to medical science and let the oppressed peoples of the world find their voice so they can speak for themselves."

Louise - the Iraqi blog addict


Louise, I agree with you that only the people in those countries, will ever know for sure, if it was worth it or not. I think that the same will apply for the families of the American Soldiers and Marines that will have died (and will die) in this war. The same of course will apply to other countries Soldiers.

I am afraid that the majority of the people in the US and I know in a lot of other countries don't really believe that there IS A WAR. I'm reminded a little that, that is the way,people all over the world felt in the late 1930s'.

Religion, Greed, Tribal Ignorance and misguided honor are driving this war (I really include the war in Afghanistan, in the big picture). It is going to be difficult to start a change in cultures that are thousands of years old.

Thanks for the correction

This is my post

Papa Ray
West Texas

3:44 AM  
Blogger Louise said...

Papa Ray, as long as Ibn AlRafidain doesn't mind, I would be happy to chat with you. I enjoy reading your posts. The only thing I would disagree with, is your last statement, and it's not really a disagreement. I think all cultures are very old, but some have undergone enormous change in recent history. I think the prospect for bringing the Muslim world into the 21st century is very good. I believe the age of European empires followed by Cold War era stalled many countries in their tracks. I really think what is going on in the Middle East is a three way struggle between forces for modernity (who are represented by our friends the bloggers, such as Ibn Al Rafidain), the Arab Nationalism that currently rules most of the Middle East and the extremely reactionary Islamist movement. I think the modernizers will win.

5:17 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Greetings, Louise

Pardon us, Ibn, while we clog up your blog a little more.

Here is a little essay, that kinda says some of the same thoughts as your last post:

The thing about this post and yours, is that it kind of skips over the period of time, that this is going take to happen, or at least makes it sound like it will just be a couple or three years to accomplish.

In MHO or My NOT HO, This is more than about the things you or this essay mention, the (fundamentalism) that the essay mentions.

It is about RELIGIOUS Ignorance, fundamentalism and otherwise, just as it has been many, many times in the history of mankind.

This is something, it seems, very few people want to acknowledge or even bring into the conversation. Well, let me tell you, it is like trying to hide an elephant in the bathroom. It will work for a while, but it is just going to be impossible to flush and get rid of, that is, without a hell of a mess.

War is messy, it spills all over everyone, the bad, the innocent and the uncaring.

I am afraid, or actually positive, that "mess" is going to cost thousands and thousands of lives. Even more, if someone manages to commit a terrorist act in the US that takes thousands of lives again.

Right now, MOST Americans really are not concerned about a war anywere. They don't worry about it, more than just a few discussions or arguments over the dinner table or in front of the tv. It is not something that scares or makes them angry.

As a side note, people are becoming aware that the American Adminstration is fighting these "little wars" on the "cheap", and they (Americans, at least) don't like it. They might not like to spend taxpayer's money but when it comes to our troops and what they need or want, they don't want it "on the cheap".

But, let me tell you, if and when MOST Americans get scared, or angry, that will change and it will be "not a war on the cheap" or a "little war" in Iraq. It will be one that the people of America DEMAND that revenge and retribution be visited on ANYONE, ANYWHERE that has to do with bringing hurt or terror upon them and their loved ones.

It might only last a few years, but I doubt it. The only short solution is the one a President of the US would not want to use. That is the use of America's Nuclear arsenal. But I can tell you that is being considered in war plans right now, at this time.

One of the problems now in Iraq and other places on this little planet, is security for people to voice and vote in elections. The other is to be able to have an honest election where there is no cheating or such.

That the elections in Iraq are going to contested and called dishonest and other not so kind names is a given. What is done about it and how it is handled, I have no idea.

Ibn, in this post topic,expressed concern for education of the Iraq population and disapointment in the lack of knowledge of the Declaration of Human Rights. I maintain that most of the population, like the population of most other places on this small planet, could care less about education and politics and fancy declarations, if they think they or thier loved ones are going to be killed if they try and vote or even express an opinion about anything.

That is the mindset of the Middle East and many other places (China-N. Korea, more places that I care to mention). No one wants to die, ANYWHERE, NO ONE wants to put their loved ones in danger. NO ONE wants to make their religious leaders shun or target them for death or worse.

But, guess what, until people put their freedom, ideals and their country ahead of their safety, their families safety, their tribes safety or approval, and ahead of MOST of all, their religious leaders that want no change, no enlightment, no equality, no freedom of thought or action, and NO TOLERANCE of any other religion, nothing will change, it will decline into total global war. (sorry for the running sentences, I write like I think)

Human Rights may be what everyone deserves, wants and should have without anyones permission, but that is not the real world. That is just not how it works when you have people that have other ideas, and are driven by ideals, emotions,greed and ignorance.

As I have said in many other of my posts..

May God help us all.

This is my post

Papa Ray
West Texas

7:17 PM  
Blogger Louise said...

Thank you Papa Ray. I just took a quick scan of that article and I will read it more closely later today (Christmas shopping to do, you know - arrrrgggh). I will say that I have read an increasing number of articles that say similar things written by Arabs and Muslims. I think modern technology - the Internet - will speed up the arrival of the day when human rights are far more universally accepted than they are today. I'm over the hill myself, so I may not live to see it, but I am hopeful. But I do think my kid's generation may see it. Have you ever read Sami's blog? He and his generation will help this come about.

Here is another good article that was posted on one of the blogs I was reading yesterday by a well known Muslim scholar.

What you say about nuclear weapons is really scary. I hope that never happens.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...


Thank you for the link, he is an interesting man with interesting thoughts. But, I wonder where his is voice is being heard?

For every Islamic scholar that has an open mind, you can find 5 that have different plans for the future, such as these essays:Islam double speak for reform from "With in" . There are several on this page. Of course, look at the web site it is published in, one that is read by and believed by half the world.

It is not looking too good for the future.

This is my post

Papa Ray
West Txas

9:41 PM  
Blogger Patty-Jo said...

Ibn, you are a man of great courage. Your love of your people and your country shows in your words and actions. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Son of the Land of the Two Rivers is a good name for you to take, because you are proving yourself to be a true and loving son.

The source of Freedom is not in America. The is nothing special about that land, or it's air, or it's water, that freedom should have its source there. The same is true of Europe, and any other place.

The source of freedom is in people like you.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ibn, The part that makes the US bill of rights different from the UN or any other is that we believe that every person has these rights as a gift of his maker (or if you don't have one, at least these rights are inate). The UN rights are given to individuals by their government. Big difference. What a government gives it can also take away.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Greetings, Ibn

If you are discouraged, click on these audio files they will furnish you with a little humor. We all need some humor on this small planet in a large universe.

This is my post

Papa Ray
West Texas

12:25 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

I am impressed by your intiative, as well, Ibn al-Rafidain.

It is important to be active politically within Democracy. Someone has to keep the public informed. Sometimes just telling one friend can make a difference. I wish some Americans had your insight. At any rate, you represent the hope for a bright democratic future in Iraq.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Tom Naka said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:13 AM  

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