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A blog about human rights in their many forms.

The international community must not consent to 'new Burmese apartheid'

Opinion: Muslims are suffering at the hands of Myanmar's government, which is now planning an awful new program.
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US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks alongside Wunna Maung Lwin, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Myanmar, prior to meetings at the US State Department in Washington, DC on Sept. 30. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

YANGON, Myanmar  Myanmar's foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin took to the podium at the United Nations building in New York late last month and told the international community that “all major concerns related to human rights” in the former police state had “been addressed to a larger extent.” Given the government's efforts in this field, he asserted, his country “had now reached the middle tier of the human rights ladder” and should no longer be subjected to the scrutiny of the UN Human Rights Council.

While the minister's speech drew polite applause, his claims could hardly have been taken seriously. 

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President Obama: America's millennials not really a 'lost generation'

With the midterm elections next month, the president pitched his plans for a generation disillusioned with his economic leadership.
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US President Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting Oct. 9 at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, Calif., where he addresses issues affecting millennials today. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama is offering a new commitment to American millennials, but with youth unemployment and student debt levels still oppressively high, the country's largest generation has withdrawn some of its once-fervent support for him.

"A lot of you entered into the workforce during the worst financial crisis and then the worst recession since the Great Depression,” Obama told a forum at Cross Campus, a business and innovation center in Santa Monica, Calif. on Thursday. “A lot of cynics have said, ‘Well, that makes many of you part of a lost generation.’ But I don’t buy that, because when I travel around the country, I see the kind of energy and hope and determination that so many of you are displaying here.”

The president praised the efforts of millennials to overcome a recovering economy and assured them of his administration’s support in issues that affect them most — wage equality, unemployment, health care, education and debt.

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The US is jailing immigrant women and children under appalling conditions

Most asylum seekers are law-abiding but are detained in spite of international law.
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Families of Central American immigrants turn themselves in to US Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico to McAllen, Texas on Sept. 8. Although the numbers of such immigrant families and unaccompanied minors have decreased from a springtime high, thousands continue to cross in the border illegally into the United States. (John Moore /Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas — In America, women and children as young as 11 months old are being jailed.

More than 500 women and children are currently detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a for-profit detention center in Karnes City, Texas. Six hundred more are held in Artesia, New Mexico.

Among those detained was Nayely Bermudez Beltran, a 7-year-old from El Salvador who is suffering from a malignant brain tumor. Nayely’s mother, Sara Beltran Rodriguez, came to the US border with her daughter in July, fleeing family violence in El Salvador so severe that she feared for their lives.

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Why maternal health and mortality matters

The issue could be losing out to other global health concerns, but advocates insist it should be a top priority.
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The four panelists (from left) at an Oct. 7 webcast on the impact of maternal health on children, families and communities: Amy Boldosser-Boesch, interim president and CEO of Family Care International; Jeni Klugman, senior adviser at The World Bank Group and fellow at Harvard Kennedy School; Alicia Yamin, lecturer on Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health and policy director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University; and Aslihan Kes, economist and gender specialist at the International Center for Research on Women. (Jessica Mendoza/GlobalPost)

BOSTON – The world could be a lot less safe for mothers after 2015. As the deadline for the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, advocates for maternal health say the issue is in danger of fading in future models of sustainability.

“There’s a real concern that the more targeted, focused goals [for maternal health] will be absorbed into broader objectives, and that they will then disappear,” said Martha Murdock, vice president for regional programs at Family Care International (FCI), a New York-based nonprofit that works for safer pregnancy and childbirth worldwide.

That concern set the tone for an Oct. 7 strategy meeting and later a panel webcast of women’s and maternal health advocates, researchers and implementers at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University in Boston.

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Investigating hate crimes is a top FBI priority, but local police often ignore them

Commentary: A look at hate and its relationship with terror.
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Thousands gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech on August 24, 2013, near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW PALZ, New York — Recently, I found a very disturbing message on my car. Just above several bumper stickers praising President Barack Obama, someone had inked, “I love niggers.”

The car was parked in my boyfriend’s driveway in East Fishkill. He had seen the message in black marker as he was about to leave for work and asked me to come outside. “I called the cops,” he said. “It’s a hate crime.”

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‘Women2Women’ is empowering young female leaders to help build global peace

Commentary: Empower Peace brings girls from the Middle East and Arab World to Boston for dialogue and mentorship.
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Young women look out from a hut in an agricultural area south of Iraq's central Shiite Muslim Shrine city of Najaf on April 14, 2014. (Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — We are living in a dangerous reality. It’s a reality where terrorists are holding hostage Islam, a religion that, at its core, is peaceful, compassionate and tolerant.

Since Sept. 11, 2001 and continuing with the most recent executions of journalists, including James Foley of GlobalPost, a misunderstanding and manipulation of Islam and Muslims has permeated discourse about the Middle East and the Arab world. American-Muslim relations are strained and Islam is not portrayed positively in the media.

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To move forward, Jerusalem must steer its own fate

Analysis: Unless citizens of all faiths find a way to work together, weak leadership and old hatreds will keep the city from a potentially bright future.
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A Ferrari Formula One racing car in action during the 2014 edition of the Formula 1 Peace Road Show on Oct. 6 in Jerusalem, Israel. The two-day event returns for its second year, showcasing stunt performers and exotic vehicles, racing past historic monuments on the ancient city's streets. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM – Behold the new Jerusalem.

Here I was, stuck in ungodly traffic on the outskirts of the ancient walls of the Old City, that sacred quarry of stone that holds traditions dear to all three Abrahamic faiths. And through a crowd lined up along the ramparts and the sidewalks nearby, I suddenly heard the thunder of powerful engines and the screeching of tires.

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David Cameron heading the wrong direction on human rights, experts say

Breaking with the European Convention could set the UK back 50 years in human rights progress and have negative global impact.
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Prime Minister David Cameron gestures as he delivers his keynote speech to the Conservative party conference on Oct. 1, 2014 in Birmingham, England. Cameron addressed the conference for the final time before the general election in 2015. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

LONDON — An alarming new plan to scrap the United Kingdom’s Human Rights Act and break with the European Convention could have sweeping, global ramifications, say human rights experts.

The eight-page document, put forward by Prime Minister David Cameron and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling last week, outlined a course of action that the Council of Europe called “inconceivable.”

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In British town, influx of migrants creates conflict

Analysis: The arrival of Eastern Europeans in a traditionally Pakistani area strains neighborly relations.
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HENDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13, 2013: Makeshift shelters constructed by homeless Romanians on the former site of Hendon Football Club. Britain is home to more than 190,000 Romanian migrants, one of the largest Roma populations in western Europe. (Oli Scarff /Getty Images)

SHEFFIELD, England — I take a stroll down Page Hall Road in Sheffield, a typical working class area of the industrial north. The houses are narrow, cramped, identically structured, all rusty red brick and battered front doors.

Children play in the streets, tagging each other and running to the shops to buy sweets and soda. It’s an unremarkable scene except that this one small area has lately become a major focus of immigration conflict in the United Kingdom.

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Some of Islamic State’s worst crimes are against women, UN report says

On the militant group’s long list of human rights abuses and potential war crimes, its treatment of women is stark in its cruelty.
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Iraqi Kurdish protesters denounce the Islamic State threat to Yazidi women and girls during a demonstration outside the UN offices in the city of Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region, on August 24, 2014. Hundreds of thousands of people across northern Iraq have fled violence, which has seen members of minority groups face kidnapping and death, after the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group spearheaded a militant offensive that has overrun large areas of the country. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

Beatings, forced marriage, imprisonment and rape – these are the fates of women at the hands of the Islamic State, according to an Oct. 2 report by the United Nations human rights office in Iraq.

The 26-page document, which details abuses committed by the Islamic State (IS) from July 6 to Sept. 10, reveals – amid a litany of human rights violations and possible war crimes – the targeting of women for capture and mass enslavement.

“[W]omen and children who refused to convert were being allotted to [IS] fighters or were being trafficked as slaves in markets in Mosul and to Raqqa in Syria,” according to the report, which relies partly on testimonies from survivors and from prisoners who managed to contact the UN.

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