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Thursday, March 8, 2007

HUMAN DIGNITY THROUGH HUMAN RIGHTS - WE ARE ALL THE KEEPERS OF JUSTICE



The book that is the follow-up to the Darfur Diaries film

Would you like to live on sand without any facilities, any comforts at all and no protection? These people have been doing it for four years now. Who cares? Do YOU?


Below is a post that got buried in one of my earliest posts. And back then, I had no readers. But, now, I do, so I thought I would repost this. It is about my visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp.

You may have noticed if you have checked me out at all, that I have a passion for Social Justice and Human Dignity through Human Rights. I don't know why I'm like this, but I am. And I'm really okay with it. I mean I live my life passionately and I make no apologies for this. It doesn't mean that I don't hear a little voice of fear rearing its ugly and devious head much of the time - I do. I have little pieces of paper posted around my house for me to see the quotes of various people - and this is one that is appropriate at this place in the post:

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." Audre Lorde

An aside: For a year now I have been working with the Pell Center, an international policy center on the Salve Regina University campus in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, to have the film Darfur Diaries - Message from Home screened.

http://www.darfurdiaries.org And March 5, the contract was signed with Jen Marlowe, one of the young producers and directors of this film to come and speak, answer questions at the Jane Pickens Theatre on Washington Square, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, March 25, Sunday, at 7:00 p.m. after the film is shown. This is very exciting to me. I own this film on DVD. You may purchase it on http://www.amazon.com

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My Visit to Dachau, Germany

Silence doesn't stop genocide.

Never has.

Never will.

Be Bold.

Be Loud.

Be persistent.

Don't take "No" for an answer.

Genocide is NOT OKAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . Or is it?


A little over year ago, on November 22, (2005), I spent 6 hours at the Dachau Extermination Camp in Dachau, Germany. It was the last day of a 22 day trip – all of which was light-hearted until this day. Other days were spent in Villach, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Austria; Venice, San Gimignano, Siena, Italy; and Munich and Dachau, Germany. The intense experience stayed with me while up in the air, flying all the way back to Providence’s Green Airport and for the weeks to follow. To walk through the stone arch where the victims were expected to and did go, then, walk in the sacred buildings, rooms, the oven room, and the sacred grounds where four churches or church memorials are stealing away the space once used to create hell on earth……was all so indescribably sobering and humbling. I walked this ground alone. On a cold, gray sky day in November, stepping over furrowed and compacted snow. But I had shoes and warm clothes to call my own. And I knew I could leave. Alive. This place was “far away” from my home too. Just like Africa. Dachau was the very first concentration camp opened by Adolf Hitler within two months of his reign of power. It was opened on Wednesday, March 22, 1933. Adolf Hitler was given power with the blessings of the people and the Lutheran Church. It was a time of lamentations in the aftermath of World War I - no jobs, the masses going hungry. That is what I read about for two hours in the first small space that I entered. What was the environment for this kind of thing to be done by humans to humans? The Dachau Camp was a training center for the SS concentration camp guards, then they were sent to other camps. I photographed a large campaign poster for Hitler while in this first room, the words on the poster: “Our Last Hope”. Not only did Jewish people go to Dachau, but ministers, priests, Jehovah Witnesses, homosexuals, the mentally challenged, communists and anyone who spoke out against the government’s actions. We have a moral obligation in this country to speak out against our government’s actions if we believe in our hearts that something is wrong. That is who we should be and what we should have the courage to live out. I believe - it’s an unspoken creed of decency.

My port of entry and departure of this trip (inspired by free points to fly somewhere, anywhere) was Munich, the birthplace of the Nazi party where Hitler honed his craft of speaking to the masses.

When I arrived the morning of November 2, traveling by train and looking out the window while going from the airport to downtown Munich, something struck me with awe in a way. I saw fields, flat land, country fields with rows of crops cut away, bounded by fences, clusters of trees that had not been cut down to make way for farming, farm houses, barns, cattle. It looked JUST LIKE HOME IN NORTHERN INDIANA. The trees were even maples and others that I recognized, the same kind I grew up knowing the common names of in the woods where two of my three childhood houses were situated. It felt like home. The names painted on the barns were the same names painted on barns in Indiana and the same familiar last names of classmates’ that I went to Indiana public schools with. And yet there I was only a short distance from the Dachau Extermination Camp, where evil could be smelled for miles around from 1933 until 1945. The years when my parents were kids. Sitting alone, type in “Dachau Concentration Camp” in the google window of your computer and merely have the haunting feelings these people realized every minute of the day and night.
Try

http://www.ushmm.org/

http://photo.net/bp/dachau



These things we do to one another…Whether it is genocide, or complicity for genocide’s madness to be allowed to carry on. Whether it be something small, like saying words in a calloused or intentionally mean-spirited way to another humankind’s brother or sister - this thing we could change if we only had the will. What is this thing in us, that is so dark that we will do anything not to confront it and hide from it? Life can be grand. I love my life, I truly do. But life can go seriously wrong, too. I know that too. I’ve had my share of that. Just working at being thoughtful, here. Something that a busy, hurried life allows us to evade.

We each have a voice, we each have a presence - let us not be silent. This is a pivotal time in our personal lives, in our representational government's "life" to stand and say who we are, not what we have been, because our United States history's policy on genocide is dismal and excruciatingly painful. It is the season we claim “Peace on Earth”.

Let us stand together and let's not be moved from the right things to do regarding our being human. We have been called to be human in the most basic way on this subject. Where there is a will - there is always a way. And where there is no will - there is never a way. This is not so much a religious principle, as it is simply a virtue of character, that is embraced in various religions around the world. We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers.

I am one person, but I am on a mission. You are one person, who I am sure has a heart and a soul that wants the same as the Darfuri and Chadian people want – a safe environment for their families to live out their days here as mortal beings.

When the Nazis arrested the Communists,I said nothing;
after all, I was not a Communist.
When they locked up the Social Democrats,I said nothing;
after all, I was not a Social Democrat.
When they arrested the trade unionists,I said nothing;
after all, I was not a trade unionist.
When they arrested the Jews,I said nothing;
after all, I was not a Jew.
When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest.

……………………………………………………translated by Bob Berkovitz

Thank you for your heart, your soul.

Thank you.

The end of the repost submission.

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The Darfur Diaries film

Darfur Diaries: Message From Home
Run-time: 57 minutes

Please click HERE for a clip of the film
(QuickTime player required)


Synopsis: In October, 2004 a team of three independent filmmakers – Aisha Bain, Jen Marlowe and Adam Shapiro – left for Darfur, Sudan and eastern Chad. After monitoring the worsening political and humanitarian crisis for months and recognizing that the mainstream media offered marginal and inadequate coverage, the team set out with the goal of providing a platform for the people of Darfur (both those displaced inside Darfur and those living in refugee camps in Chad) to speak for themselves about their experiences, their fears, and their hopes for the future. The conflict serves as the ongoing narrative in the film, but the focus is on the people who are living through what has been termed a “genocide.” Through the voices of refugees, displaced persons, and in particular women and children, who are always among the most vulnerable in any conflict situation, this film seeks to provide space for the marginalized victims of atrocities to speak and to engage with the world. Additionally, the film probes the history, culture and heritage of Darfur as a means of deepening understanding of the crisis and complicating easily assumed perceptions by which the conflict is often portrayed (such as a matter of race, ethnicity or religion).


The film presents the Darfurians the filmmakers met (refugees and displaced peoples, civilians and fighters resisting the Sudanese government, child soldiers, teachers, students, parents, children and community leaders) as a people with full lives, culture, and heritage--people with homes that they desperately want to return back to, people undergoing traumatic loss but who demonstrate inspiring strength and resilience, and people whose lives, homes, safety and rights deserve to be protected vigilantly as a fundamental human right.


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Meet the Producers/Directors of Darfur Diaries

Which is, now, a book, as well as, a movie:

Jen Marlowe is a founding member of the "Rachel's Words" initiative (www.rachelswords.org). She is also currently facilitating a youth peace-building project in Mostar, Bosnia-Hercegovina. From 2000-2004, she coordinated and directed a conflict transformation program in Jerusalem, creating and implementing co-existence programs for hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli youth. In addition, she worked in conflict resolution with youth in Afghanistan, and facilitated dialogue groups between youth from India and Pakistan, and Turkish and Greek Cypriot youth. Previously, Jen was the artistic director of Two Roads Theatre Ensemble, a theatre education company in Seattle, WA and a teaching artist at Seattle Children's Theatre. Jen holds a B.A. from University of Pennsylvania in psychology.

Aisha Bain is the Asia Program Associate at Global Rights: Partners for Justice, where she works on women’s rights in India and environmental rights in Mongolia. She completed her Masters degree in the International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program in the School of International Service with a concentration in Human Rights at American University. Before arriving at AU, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar and traveled throughout much of the Horn of Africa. She served as Deputy Director at the Center for the Prevention of Genocide where she worked extensively investigating and reporting the massacres in Darfur and Northern Uganda, and lobbying for international action. She has also conducted extensive field research in human trafficking in South East Asia in summer 2004.

Adam Shapiro most recently served as Country Director in Afghanistan for the international human rights organization Global Rights (www.globalrights.org). He is a Ph.D. candidate in International Relations at American University, and holds an MA in Politics from New York University and an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University. Adam is a founding member of InCounter Productions which produced the documentary film, About Baghdad (Spring 2004- www.aboutbaghdad.com), based on filming in Baghdad,Iraq in 2003. Adam is also a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (www.palsolidarity.org) in Palestine and lived and worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for three years. He has lived and worked throughout the Arab world and speaks Arabic. Adam serves on the Board of Directors of Partners for Peace (www.partnersforpeace.org) and as a Member of the Executive Team of Imagine Life (www.imagine-life.org)


Please consider Using Your Voice to Stop the Genocide in Darfur
Your Voice is So Important:

http://www.savedarfur.org/content

http://www.genocideintervention.net/index_home.php

http://www.standnow.org/

http://www.ajws.org/

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This is a wonderful movie which hopefully will inspire you to be alive with conscience and do something about the injustice done to humans by humans.
Consider seeing this movie.

PLEASE
, sign the petition of Amazing Changes Campaign
http://www.theamazingchange.com/abolish.html

Do more than see the movie, "AMAZING GRACE". Be inspired to act. . .
to act with our own "will" and "force" of passion, conviction and knowing the truth.

“Loose Change to Loosen Chains”
Use your loose change to free slaves around the world.

Email Zach Hunter, a fifteen year old, who wants to put an end to world-wide slavery
Tell him know what you are doing in your community to end slavery:
contact@theamazingchange.com

His website:
http://www.myspace.com/amazingchange

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"Peace will not work if just one man alive is unjust. . . "
Joseph Pintauro

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Thank You for your conscience and compassion
and action.

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2 Comments:

At July 8, 2007 at 7:14:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://allafrica.com/stories/200707051299.html

Ex-Museveni Maid Sues Whitaker

The Monitor (Kampala)
NEWS
6 July 2007
Posted to the web 5 July 2007

By Grace Matsiko
Kampala

An American adviser to the NRM government on trade and investment has lost a preliminary appeal in a U.S. court to dismiss a fraud case filed against her by her Ugandan housemaid.

Ms Idah Zirintusa, a former State House employee, sued Ms Rosa Whitaker in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for fraud, unjust enrichment, and illegal interference with her earlier contract with State House.

Ms Zirintusa alleges in court papers that Ms Whitaker entered into a three-year oral employment contract with her promising four times the wage she earned in Uganda, full tuition at an American college, food, and shelter.

It is further alleged that Ms Whitaker promised Ms Zirintusa to make separate payments to support her family in Uganda.

In the pleadings, a copy of which Daily Monitor has obtained, Ms Zirintusa further says that Ms Whitaker violated various provisions of the US Fair Labour Standards Act, D.C. Payment and Collection of Wages Law, and D.C. Minimum Wage Act by failing to pay her the minimum wage and overtime fee to which she was entitled for the domestic services she provided Ms Whitaker and her friend Ms Pauline Harris.

Ms Whitaker worked as the assistant U.S. trade representative for Africa under President Bill Clinton, and during the early years of Mr George W. Bush's presidency.

In that job, she "developed and implemented the African Growth and Opportunity Act and other bilateral and multilateral trade policy initiatives towards Africa".

When she left the trade representative's office, Ms Whitaker founded The Whitaker Group, a consultancy firm that advises several African countries, including Uganda, on international business issues.

The Whitaker Group officials were recently in Uganda pushing for increased production of organic cotton to make apparel for the American market.

In her defence, Ms Whitaker argues that Ms Zirintusa could not sustain her claims because she was not legally permitted to work in the United States.

She also argues that her accuser is not entitled to overtime pay under either federal or Washington D.C. law because Ms Zirintusa lived in her employer's home - in this case Ms Whitaker's home.

Ms Whitaker bases her defence in part on the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) which makes it illegal for aliens to sue for breach of contract. In its ruling, however, the judge allowed Ms Zirintusa to proceed with the suit.

The court stated that nothing in IRCA prohibits undocumented workers from asserting their labour rights under the US Fair Labor Standards Act.

The court also ruled that Ms Whitaker acted fraudulently when she "made material misstatements of fact" in January 2003, September 2003, and July 2004.

The court found that Ms Whitaker falsely promised Ms Zirintusa that if she accepted her offer of employment, the American lobbyist would provide payments for the care and support of the accuser's family in Uganda.

According to the court's ruling, Ms Whitaker made these representations knowing they were false and Ms Zirintusa reasonably relied on the misstatements to sell her possessions at a significant loss and leave her family in Uganda to work for Ms Whitaker in the United States.

"The Court finds that these facts are sufficient to overcome a motion for judgment on the pleadings," reads part of the January 3, 2007 ruling.

Ms Zirintusa, who once worked as a catering officer at State House Nakasero, arrived in the United States on August 18, 2004 on a student visa.

On the issue of unjust enrichment, the court held that Ms Zirintusa proved that Ms Harris had received a benefit at Ms Zirintusa's expense by accepting domestic services without paying for those services.

Ms Zirintusa, who still lives in the United States, is now demanding full compensation for the value of the services rendered.

The court is yet to set a date to hear the Ugandan's compensation claims against Ms Whitaker. Efforts to reach both women for further comment were unsuccessful.

President Museveni's press secretary said he was not aware of the case. "If it is true that there was an employment agreement," Mr Tamale Mirundi said, "then that lady has a right to sue."

 
At July 9, 2007 at 1:25:00 AM EDT , Blogger ilovemylife said...

Thank you "anonymous" for your posting this comment and story of a "sister's " life and the link.

You may feel free to keep me posted on this story of Ms Idah Zirintusa.

 

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