Here we are again this old familiar place on what is the annual International Human Rights Day and while the original egis of the recognition was made on credible aspirational terms towards a better world it seems that over several years since the world has turned to something else, counter to the objectives set out. We have a Syrian crisis festering right before our eyes, groups and advocates clashing over which rights should be prioritised or are morally acceptable, our least amongst us especially homeless persons on the MSM/transgender front are essentially left out in the cold by the very bureaucrats who claim to represent them but the populations are easily found and made use of for statistics especially in the department of HIV and such yet they are left alone no sooner after the results come to hand alongside the insulting tokenism that is often parading as legitimate answers.
So the main question is whose human rights really?
We have a United Nations that seems near impotent if not just ceremonial on many issues including the refugee crisis madness in places like Greece, Germany, France, Austria and so on and yet as people flee mostly for genuine reasons very little help seems to come their way. Right wingers in the same breath are out in earnest now playing on the fears of sometimes ignorant populations who feel their peaceful countries or existence are being turned upside down with ‘foreigners’ disrupting their way of life but where is the human rights for the genuinely fleeing folks? It has become a political football for example in Germany’s upcoming elections or in France where there is an election to win and juxtapositions or populism seem to be making the fleeing refugees and their rights or protections shafted.
That recent telephone directory cover controversy as caused by the hypocritical antigay group Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, JCHS is one such matter that shows us on the human rights front we are eons away from just true tolerance as the so called moral police who think they can impose on everybody else their views. No theocracy ‘round here is the loud rebuttal. Gay rights in the JCHS’ eyes are seen as a fallacy as they prey on yet again the ignorance of the masses sadly which includes clergy, theologians, lawyers and pastors with a gullible congregant populations. The fearmongering is palpable and is so easily done without fail by voices such as Dr Wayne West with obsequious servants who can’t think to save their own lives. Only so called pressured Christian groups or voices matter as some invisible hand somewhere is intent on silencing them they claim because they oppose for the most part homosexuality yet near silent on every other atrocity out there; that old victimhood card. The sad part is that honest, forward thinking and balanced/tolerance Christians or church body are batched as crackpots due to these fanatics.
Meanwhile ho is really standing up for the children these days?
It is disturbing to watch the news cast on television at a certain part of the presentation as a list of missing kids is shown and we wonder, yet groups find time for phonebook covers, homosexuals and buggery law but are all but blind to the things that sit right before our eyes on a daily basis. Some voices who have been championing children’s causes have simply stopped as they feel the thing looks hopeless as slow action from the state is a turn off, while the ones who are active continue to incorporate an old conflation of paedophila, homosexuality, crimes of passions beliefs and a so called gay agenda in their advocacy, case in point Betty Ann Blaine; which gives further strength to the fearmongering imperative as the key strategy y said groups. While I support the thrust for the rights of children to do so by ostracising others who one does not like or misunderstand is not the way to do so. The awful Ananda Dean murder and its unsolved case file status so many years ago is one of those cases that brought persons such as Blaine to prominence and who had mass support but as of late the support has waned somewhat as she shows her colours. Hope she does well at the upcoming Global Missing Children Conference and not let her antigay sentiments cloud her judgement.
We recently recognised the day of the girl child in a bid to raise awareness of girls their issues and abuse to include sexual abuse yet only days ago we had that awful report of a 14 year old rape victim in St Catherine was forced to ride in the very car of the police to the precinct alongside the very perpetrators; to be asked to relive the ordeal like that in the face of supposed enlightenment and training of cops but practice of what is taught is another matter. That other matter where the police spent the better part of eight plus hours at a crime scene of a murder of a teen arguing who has jurisdiction over the matter is another one that shows up the cracks in our justice system and rights. To have the family standing their already in their grief to look on helplessly on a body and to be told by the cops who arrived they cannot handle it is plain absurd, then why did they arrive in the first place then if when 119 or 911 told them the location they should spared the family the grief by telling 911/119 to find another team. Who cares about anything anymore these days? Then we wonder why vigilante justice is seen more and more as a credible option in the eyes of some? Call a ‘shotta’ perhaps; maybe in the eight hours of waiting maybe something would have been done already, at least a plot to find the bastards or best someone’s head back get lick out. Sigh! Of course the illegality of it makes it problematic plus persons who go that route never actually stop paying these men as they when broke simply find you and ask if not demand money on the strength of the secret.
We have CISOCA, Children’s Advocate & Office of the Children’s Registry and a myriad of child rights groups yet we are bombarded with child abuse stories and crimes as the adults continue to quarrel with them living in a world they did not make. Similar to the nonsense about having the most churches per square miles yet per square inch or towns and nation has crime and destitution spreads like an infection while only a few enjoy wealth and privilege. Yet again the refrain the more things change the more they stay the same is appropriate; we ought to have way better improvements and a reduction in atrocities yet things are going in the opposite direction. There must come a point when enough is enough. Oh the monotony. The few things that do work are often not replicated or starved of resources to make them expand with little interest.
Women’s rights seem in stagnation these days with pretty announcements as usual from gender specialists and ministers of government, I have announcement-itis these days, lofty aspirational goes yet blah! Where is that sexual harassment bill that has been sitting on the order paper of the house for so long? Where is the real equality in terms of equal pay or breaking the proverbial glass ceiling? The week of day for recognising violence against women is here again and after the hash tags, social media awareness, what’s next, back to normal, especially the more impacted persons I suspect do not even visit the pages or have a smart phone for that matter. The grand partnership signing on Wednesday December 7 yet another event for smiles for the camera for social pages and media moment with a who’s who of rights personalities, politicians and such as the opposition was missing in a huff following their parliament walk out the day before as they are upset at their election loss on both fronts local and national while complaining about the name change of the partnership as if any party has copyright over words such as “progress”, semantics! I tell you so even in the signing moment the greater idealistic concern for rights and harmony is killed off in a sense and rights linked therein are overlooked. The PNP has convenient amnesia when they made name changes prior; remember the tagline in 2002 “Log on to Progress” subsequently renamed afterwards and then the 2011 partnership signing. The delivery on these partnerships or the lack thereof is the elephant in the room where rights are also directly intertwined. Whatever the thing is named and by whom just get the job done.
Who is really representing certain other issues such as continued HIV discrimination or persons with disabilities apart from the small genuinely concerned groups who are trying their utmost best as lolly voices in the wilderness; as disabilities awareness weeks ends the Executive Director of Disabilities Association of Jamaica lamented on a radio interview that society seems to have lost something as an uncaring nature is here with us again. She and others cite the public transportation complaints, access to thoroughfare, inability by some to pursue tertiary education namely the hearing impaired as institutions have no sign language capacities to disseminate the courses. World AIDS Day just ended and amidst the elegant presentations, radio interviews, online and social media runs were on the up and up but as the hype cools down the issues raised are still there even after so called improvements, it makes one start to wonder what is the point of it is all then? Itty bitty achievements are not enough in my eyes, ARVs for example are cheaper and supposedly more readily available yet shortages interrupt persons’ adherence schedules, or persons forced to travel long distances out of parish to wait in long lines for prescriptions to be filled while a plethora of groups break out like an infection mostly on social media and not actually in the real world engaging real people.
The Public Defender for example seems like many other outfits that need resources are lacking in them if not deliberately starved and rights get caught up in that as well, apart from the pursuit for natural justice for aggrieved persons the office is swamped with complaints from the public seeking redress for rights breaches by agents of the state or government and the cases linger, yet in the midst of it all we hear of flowery aspirational goals of Human Rights Institutes and training which all sound so up in the air yet somehow cannot materialise. The previous administration launched the thrust for the institute but it seemed stuck in the quicksand somewhere and if it dares wiggle or too much is said on it, it may very well get swallowed up as other matters take precedence. The Human Rights for All campaign seems to be more about cake cutting events and experts meeting for shindigs than about actual reaching a way larger percentage of real people.
The Independent Commission, INDECOM standoff with the police high command and by extension the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP only serves to obscure the processes of Justice, clearly some police have not unlearnt the old ways or the ‘squaddie’ mentality yet people who want to be honest are exposed by the very same shady cops in the system and then made to be targeted as informers in their communities so people see wrongs and simply shut up. When family members of victims who speak out but who are harassed by the very police who did the harm in the first place it leaves one wondering yet again what is the point of it all? Groups such as Jamaicans for Justice have been at it on a stretch and yet the more things change the more they stay the same. Honest police are afraid to speak out openly as repercussions can apply, that video episode with an alleged police man living aboard brought that front and center; albeit so many years after the particular issue he was passionate about, whether he was truthful is one thing but to release such a footage warrants serious contemplation.
How do persons can get motivated to stand up?
The fight continues no doubt but the cloudiness that impedes it is of concern.
Peace & tolerance