Human Rights Watch — Promoting Peace and Justice in Times of Conflict

Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org) is an independent organization that works around the world to help promote and defend human rights.  They have offices all over the globe that work both locally and with the other regional offices to prevent government as well as social oppression.  They do this by challenging laws that are set by national governments and by making sure that fair practices are carried out within these national governments.  They advocate freedom and try to further this through activism.  There are petitions for basically every issue they associate themselves with and are always looking for people to support their mission to protect human rights.

 

Human Rights Watch started in 1978 as Helsinki Watch which originally monitored the way citizens in the Soviet Block were being treated by their governments.  There was initiative taken to call out these governments and publicize the injustices that were taking place.  The organization grew as the Civil Wars in Central America were taking place and was known as the Americas Watch.  Like Helsinki Watch and Americas Watch, more branches formed around the globe as conflicts arose in places like Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In 1988 these branches combined as Human Rights Watch which allowed them to advocate their agenda in different areas of the world while being interconnected.

Human Rights Watch is not affiliated with any single human rights issue; they have branches that deal with oppressive governments, sexual violence, combat violence, and many issues like these that prevent people from rights they should have.

While they are continuously working to make sure that people around to world are allowed to exercise the rights and are constantly trying to work with governments to ensure that the citizens of their countries have the rights that they deserve, Human Rights Watch has been successful in doing so in some cases.

Burma

A recent victory for Human Rights Watch involved putting pressure on the Burmese government to free political prisoners.  While there are at least 200 prisoners that were confirmed to be released, there are still many more that are being imprisoned for criticizing the government.  Human Rights Watch continues to advocate for their freedom and understands that the root of the problem is oppressive government.

In Burma people can be convicted if they speak negatively about the government in any way, shape or form.  This has led to the large amount of political prisoners in Burma’s incarceration system.  These prisoners spoke out against the Burmese government and criticized them for many.  A specific instance where many Burmese citizens were arrested was following Cyclone Nargis where many people criticized the government for not accepting enough aid to help those that were seriously affected.  Many activists as well as prominent figures in Burma were thrown in jail for publicly speaking about this and were used as examples for the rest of the country.  Human Rights Watch has been trying to end this injustice and believes that citizens should have the right to call out their governments without there being a penalty.  They have been pressuring the Burmese government to release these political prisoners through grassroots petitions and by communicating directly with the Burmese government.

You can sign the petition to free Burmese political prisoners here:

http://www.kintera.org/c.nlIWIgN2JwE/b.6079759/k.2578/Free_Burma

Egypt

Human Rights Watch was also heavily involved with the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.  They were there to support protestors and the citizens of Egypt that wanted Mubarak’s regime to come to an end.  They were also there to help release journalists that were arrested during the revolution and were sometimes successful in doing so.  Human Rights Watch had bloggers and journalists that they supported throughout the revolution to help spread information about what was happening.  In result many of the journalists were arrested by the Egyptian government causing Human Rights Watch to put pressure on the government to release them.  They supported Egypt through the entire process of putting an end to an oppressive government and are still trying to make sure that human rights are being valued even after the fall of Mubarak.

Human Rights Watch is concerned about women’s roles in Egypt and their right to be a part of the new Egyptian government.  They acknowledge that after times of conflict women’s rights have been forgotten and they are working to make sure that this doesn’t happen in Egypt.  They want to make sure that every citizen of Egypt has rights and is able to exercise their rights without a struggle.

Uganda

In Uganda, Human Rights Watch has worked feverously to stop the Lord’s Resistance Army which is a rebel group that has caused havoc on Ugandan citizens.  The Lord’s Resistance Army has had a track record of extreme violence towards Ugandans.  This violence ranges from beatings, killings, kidnapping, rapes and more atrocities.  Human Rights Watch documented this from Ugandans that have dealt with the Lord’s Resistance Army.  These documentations were in forms of letters addressed to the United States government to help them against this violence that they were facing.  Human Rights Watch translated the letters and the documentation of these injustices and presented them to the Obama administration in hope that they would get involved.  They urged the Obama administration that this needed to be stopped and that the United States needed to do everything in its power to make sure these people did not continue to be the victims of this violent rebel group.

The Obama administration signed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament Act as well as the Northern Uganda Recovery Act in result.  Human Rights Watch continues to work with those that live in Uganda as well as the United States government to help protect the citizens of Uganda from being attacked by the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Linked is the Press Release documenting the violence committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army: http://www.hrw.org/node/89324

Human Rights Watch works with people all over the globe to advocate and ensure that everyone has rights.  They operate around the globe which allows them to keep up with issues locally and also tie it into the global system as well.  Instead of having citizens of countries or nation-states that are oppressed deal with these issues themselves, Human Rights Watch believes that is up to everyone to make sure that human rights around the world are being protected.

All of the information and media used is from www.hrw.com.  You can get involved with Human Rights Watch at www.hrw.com by signing petitions, donating, or keeping up with the issues by subscribing to the newsletter.

– Ifath N. Iftikhar

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Atigarp
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 21:48:29

    I like this blog about Human Rights Watch and it was really informative for me. Though I did have a little knowledge about their works, reading the individual cases about each country was more informative than just the list of general works that they do. I didn’t know that the Burmese government used to imprison the people who spoke against the Burmese government, that information was new to me. And I really like the fact that Human Rights Watch are looking into matter as such too. The blogger’s and Journalist part of Human Rights Watch was also an interesting one. I thought this was the a smart way to spread out words and news to people all around the world to get the support that they were looking for.

    Reply

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