human rights news & views

Yorta Yorta elder a hero of the Jews

Australia has a human rights defender on a par with Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler for his stance against Nazi Germany, yet William Cooper is little known in Australia today. Appalled by the vicious carnage of Kristallnacht, the watershed pogrom of November 1938, Aboriginal leader Bill Cooper (right) led a protest walk from his home […]

Pay compensation, Australia

Debate continues as to whether a national apology to the Stolen Generations will expose the government to compensation claims by survivors.  Or whether wording the apology in a certain way can limit that exposure (as the government claims).  Surely, this is to miss the point.  If compensation is owed, it should be paid.  Justice demands […]

Australia awaits apology

Australia awaits with anticipation next week’s long-overdue apology to the survivors of the Stolen Generations, their families and descendants.  This landmark step towards reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians is something the previous Prime Minister, John Howard — that formidable opponent of human rights — conspicuously failed to do, despite the 1997 Bringing Them Home […]

Who remembers the Assyrians?

Adolf Hitler is said to have assumed impunity for his Final Solution with a rhetorical, ‘Who remembers Armenians?’  His dismissive reference to the 1915-18 genocide of some 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman empire overlooks the genocide of 750,000 Assyrians by the same regime. The Christian population of the Middle East — from the Copts […]

Vale Richard Rorty

US philosopher and mensch Richard Rorty died this month, aged 75. He observed that "philosophy occupies an important place in culture only when things seem to be falling apart." A reluctant pragmatist, Emeritus Professor Rorty saw a path to realising human rights by appealling to hearts rather than minds: ‘If, like many of us, you […]

We are all Hrant Dink

Ethnic-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has been shot dead in broad daylight outside his newspaper office in Istanbul. Turkish authorities have condemned the killing. Respected editor and columnist, 52 year-old Dink had faced death threats and legal action for his views on the 1915-18 genocide of Armenians under the Ottoman empire. And yet he was an […]

Worst year ever for journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says 84 journalists were killed worldwide in 2006. Include media support staff such as interpreters and drivers, and that figure climbs to 177, the worst on record. At least 155 of those were murders and unexplained deaths, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the remaining 22 being […]

Don’t hang Saddam

Some three years after his capture, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been convicted and sentenced by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal in connection with the killing of 148 people from a Shiite village called al-Dujail in 1982, apparently in revenge for an assassination attempt. Saddam Hussein and his co-accused ought not to be executed […]

Women’s rights key to saving baby girls

There are the moral and legal arguments in favour of human rights, which ought to be enough, but, let’s face it, sometimes it helps to come up with self-interested reasons for abusers to cease and desist and for governments to protect and promote. And in this geo-political clime, ‘national security’ is leverage par excellence. Here’s […]

Bosnian Serbs face trial for Srebrenica genocide

Eleven years after Europe’s largest mass murder since World War Two, there is the prospect of justice for the victims and survivors of the massacre of over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the UN ‘safe haven’ in Srebrenica. The trial of seven former Bosnian Serb officers began last month at the International Criminal Tribunal for the […]