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Archive for the ‘Prison’ Category

There are few countries that take to heart free speech as much as we do here in the United States.  While some in the US may have problems with the political bias laced in television and radio news, we still cannot deny that we are free to say what we want: pro-government, anti-government, pro-Obama, anti-Obama, liberal, conservative — anything goes.  However, this luxury is not so prevalent in countries where the media is filtered by the government, making sure that anything “offensive” or harmful to the “stability” of the government is censored or whitewashed.

Iran, a country that continues defying the world with its controversial nuclear program, will someday have to answer for its numerous human rights violations following its 2009 Presidential Election.  Nearly 4,000 people have been arrested since June, but one of the real concerns is the abuse prisoners face by the police and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.  Our concern is over the rape scenarios female prisoners are subjugated to by the jailers and other authorities.  Many of these accusations have been made against the government, amidst the turmoil of the election that is widely-believed to have been stolen by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ali Larijani, the Iranian parlamentary speaker, has spoken out against these claims, calling them “baseless”.

The swift denial is likely an effort by hard-liners to discredit allegations of widespread prisoner mistreatment that have helped fuel continued protest by reformists who claim President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the June election.

Continue reading this story here (Jerusalem Post).

How does one prove that the jailers and other authorities haven’t been beating and raping its captors?  You can’t.  Often criticized for its ironclad censorship and whitewashing, the Iranian authorities censor out anything they deem offensive or critical of the government.  Trying to appeal to the authorities?  Get in line with the other suppressed.

China is another country often blamed for censorship and human rights violations.  Beijing is currently (or at least should be more) in hot water because of its “black jails” — black holes where innocent people are unjustly imprisoned and must be censored.  A twenty-year-old Chinese student found herself in one of these black jails when she tried to petition to the government in regards to dispute over grades at school.

But shortly after the student arrived, she was picked up by police. She was delivered to a run-down hotel and dumped in a locked room filled with other detainees. There, a guard raped her.

Read the rest of this story here (MSNBC).

Because these black jails are secret and censorship is key for “stability” in the Republic of China, there is no real way to confront this issue.  This government, like Iran’s, will deny it no matter what so as to keep its public image clean.  Though countries like China and Iran will continually deny any accusations of wrongdoing by its government or its prisons, the rest of the world can see through its lies.  Freedom of speech and unrestricted internet access keep us enlightened, if not skeptical of the human rights in hard-line regimes.

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On Wednesday, August 5th, the world let out an enormous sigh of relief when word spread that both reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee safely returned home after nearly 140 days in detainment.  Both reporters, working with Al Gore’s San Fransisco-based media outlet Current TV, accidentally crossed into North Korea from China’s border in March 2009.  After months of questioning, solitary confinement, and receiving sentences of twelve years in a work camp, former President Bill Clinton secured their amnesty and aided in their return to United States soil.

Read the rest of the story here (Reuters).

Tensions between the United States and North Korea has been on the brink for years.  North Korea continues to defy the world with its controversial nuclear program and missile tests that put South Korea, Japan, and other neighboring powers in danger.

The most recent confrontation has been with Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had their releases secured without any sort of nuclear negotiation with Washington (as far as we know).  Is this a sudden positive PR move on Kim Jong-Il’s part or is there a deeper political scheme at hand?

Regardless, two women should never become bargaining chips between two obstinate nations.  While we are overjoyed that these two ladies are finally home, their potential 12-year imprisonment would have been their death sentences.

Aside from the fact that North Korea is in a constant state of famine, the labor camps, also known as gulag camps, are notorious for beatings, executions, and rape.  Even though Laura Ling and Euna Lee were sentenced to twelve years of work at one of these camps, they would be lucky to even fulfill half of that sentence.

“They work logging in the mountains, quarrying stone and at farms. The work is extremely difficult and prisoners are beaten by guards for not working fast enough or forgetting to sing patriotic songs as they work,”

As stated before, these two young ladies became bargaining chips between two powers with very different aims.  Human beings should not be used and exchanged like currency, especially for political gain.  Thankful, both Laura Ling and Euna Lee have returned to their families.  Let’s just hope that they do not suffer ongoing dread of how their lives could have ended.

Additional Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=7785836&page=1

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/great-escape-survivors-reveal-horror-of-north-korean-concentration-camps-451351.html

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