The consequences of violations of human rights;
distortion of the original meaning of religion
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a basic document in force that all countries must be obedient to. There are several law enforcement agencies to which you refer in case of suspicion of the violation of human rights.
Human rights which should be treated as a starting point of all human relationships, according to which we have the right to life, happiness, education, work, freedom of thought and religion are, unfortunately, breached very often.
It would seem that such situations occur only in Africa, where many people still live in slavery without a chance for a decent existence.
However, it turns out that examples of violations of basic human rights are much closer – in our country.
Among the most frequently occurring incidents is the so called phenomenon of “wave” in military units or even schools. It involves physical and mental abuse. Older soldiers with greater experience or upper year students maltreat their younger colleagues. The victims are closed against their will in cramped and dark rooms, beaten and humiliated in front of other people. The media have also talked about cases of forcing a teenager to commit suicide.
In addition, much controversy stems from the presence of minorities in our country. There is racism and intolerance against Roma/Gypsies. There have been instances of brutal beatings of Gypsy women and stealing their belongings. It is also not uncommon to hear people shouting insults at them.
We should also mention violations in the workplace. Still, many people work in undignified conditions for little money, they are humiliated and sometimes beaten very brutally.
Let us remember that human rights belong to all of us, let us not be indifferent to the situations when they are breached. Violating human rights leads to conflicts, wars and hatred towards one another.
Paulina Królak – class IILB1, ZS nr 31 in Warsaw
The Polish government generally respects the human rights of its citizens. A number of domestic and international human rights groups operate without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials are often cooperative and responsive to their views. The country’s human rights ombudsman presents an annual report to the Sejm on the state of human rights and civic freedom in the country.
Nevertheless, there are certain problems, for example, poor prison conditions and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials. In a 2004 incident police mistakenly used live ammunition instead of rubber bullets to quell a riot after a soccer game. One person was killed and a second injured.
Occasional anti-Semitic violence and harassment are also problems. In February 2007 Leszek Bubel, a self-proclaimed anti-Semite and leader of a far-right political party, posted a video on a popular Internet site in which he boasted about his anti-Semitism and urged Jews to leave the country.. On October 20 the same year, a family court reprimanded four teenagers who jeered and attacked a 19-year-old Orthodox Jew visiting a Jewish cemetery in Warka. The youths, aged 13-16, had insulted, punched and kicked the victim.
There are cases of corruption throughout the government and society. Citizens have believed that political parties and members of the legislative branch, the health care system, and the judiciary are the most corrupt. The Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) has broad powers to audit the financial holdings of public officials and to fight corruption in public procurement. It is authorized to conduct searches and secret videotaping, wiretap telephone conversations, and make arrests.
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status; however, violence and societal discrimination against women and ethnic minorities persists. Sexual harassment is an underreported problem. Many victims do not report abuse or withdraw harassment claims in the course of police investigations out of shame or fear of losing their job.
While education is universal and compulsory until the age of 18 and schools are free, the Roma Association has claimed that many Roma children do not attend public school out of fear that teachers will encourage assimilation and uproot them from their Romani traditions.
The displays of racist behavior can be found at sporting events e.g. throwing bananas and shouting racial epithets at African soccer players are quite common. There are also isolated incidents of racially motivated violence and verbal abuse directed at persons of Asian or Arab descent.
As for the problems affecting children, police have been conducting operations against child pornography and pedophiles, some of them target the offenders who use the Internet.
Poland remains a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked persons, primarily women and girls, but to a lesser extent, boys and men for forced labor. Internal trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation also occurs. Traffickers target young, unemployed, and poorly paid women and men, particularly those with weak family ties and support networks. They attract victims with false promises of lucrative jobs or arranged marriages. Some victims believe that they are accepting employment abroad as cooks, waitresses, maids, nannies, or agricultural laborers. Traffickers threaten victims with violence, and those who resist or try to flee are raped, beaten, or injured. The Ministry of Interior, the NGOs La Strada and the Nobody’s Children Foundation have trained several hundred law enforcement officials in trafficking issues.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press. However, the law prohibits the media from promoting activities that are illegal or against government policy, morality, or the common good and requires that all broadcasts respect the religious feelings of the audiences and, in particular, respect the Christian system of values. Defamation is a criminal offense punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment. This includes publicly insulting or defaming the president, members of parliament, government ministers and other public officials. For example, in 2007 Rydzyk, the founder of conservative Catholic Radio Maryja, was charged for insulting a public official and slander after he released an audiotape with anti-Semitic comments suggesting that Jews are greedy and President Lech Kaczynski is “in the pockets of the Jewish lobby.”
Violators of human rights change the original meaning of religions, according to which we should treat others as equals. They cause their victims to suffer psychically or physically. Human rights abusers contribute to social segregation and the creation of underclasses. They sow the seeds of intolerance and moral chaos.
It is to be hoped that all the governments will give priority to civic freedom and always intervene fast enough to stop any cases of human rights violations.
Klaudia Zielińska, Scherley Stylianos, Gabriel Wożniakowski – class IILB1,
ZS nr 31 in Warsaw
There are mechanisms on an international level that are meant to prevent and stop human rights violations. The United Nations Security Council is considered the supreme instrument of protecting human rights around the globe. However, it is frequently criticized for failing to effectively act on clear violations of rights stated in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
According to article 18 everyone has the right to thought and religion; this includes freedom to manifest his or her belief in teaching, worship and observance. One of the most serious violations of this right that occurred in this century was in February 2002, in the Indian city of Godhra when a Muslim crowd attacked a train filled with Hindu activists killing 27 persons. This event triggered a spiral of religious revenge and four days later, 2000 Muslims were killed, their houses, mosques and trades destroyed and hundreds of women raped and mutilated before the members of their families.
Article 13 says that everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. The Roma hunt in Italy shows something different. Since 2007, Romani communities and settlements in Italy have been subjected to several measures taken by the authorities in the name of security, as well as vigilante style attacks by members of the public. This includes an escalation in forced evictions and destruction of Roma settlements. One of the most disturbing security measures targeting the Roma minority is the recent and still undefined initiative to collect identification information, including fingerprints, from all residents, both adults and children, of Romani settlements in the country. These measures are often accompanied by strong anti-Roma rhetoric from local and national politicians and the vilification of Romani people in the local and national media, which have created a climate in which attacks on individuals and Roma settlements are becoming increasingly acceptable.
Article 5 claims that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. However, women living in Brazilian shanty towns cannot enjoy this right. In the absence of protection from the state, women experience constant violence within the home and from criminal gangs that dominate every aspect of life in the community. Women may be punished violently for breaking the rules set out by the gangs or for their relatives having done so. Maternity services, crèches and schools can be closed for long periods because of police operations or criminal violence. Healthcare workers and teachers are often too scared to work in the communities. The only contact the women have with the government is through sporadic, militarized police incursions, in which women may be subject to illegal searches and verbal, physical, and sexual abuse and are injured or killed in the crossfire.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person (Article 3). The country that mercilessly violated this right three years ago was Israel. During the weeks from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip killed 1,417 Palestinian people. Its inhuman attack was aimed at the very foundations of civilian life in Gaza — schools, industrial infrastructure, water, sanitation, flour mills, mosques, universities, police stations, government ministries, agriculture and thousands of homes. The victims were infants, schoolchildren, elders, fathers and husbands, police officers, school teachers, sanitation workers and civil defense workers. Palestinians defending themselves with primitive weapons had no chance against Israelis using the most advanced weaponry the United States could provide. But the tragedy does not end with those who were killed. Along with thousands permanently injured, there is the incalculable psychological cost of children growing up without parents, of parents burying their children, and the mental trauma that Israel’s offensive and the ongoing siege has done to almost everyone in Gaza. There are the as yet unknown consequences of subjecting Gaza’s children to a toxic water supply for years on end. The siege robs Palestinian people not just of basic goods, reconstruction supplies, and access to medical care but of their basic rights and freedoms to travel, to study, to be part of the world. People in Gaza live in fear of another bombing campaign. They are humiliated at Israeli checkpoints and suffer the indignity of not providing for their families because of the unemployment brought about by the economic control and the illegal siege.
Breaking laws based on universal human rights results in civilized societies turning into barbarian societies. Basic human virtues disappear and inequality, injustice, and intolerance reappear. This is not what religions and the creators of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights advocate, namely the brotherhood of humanity and equality of all human beings.
Patrycja Anna Furtak – class ITOR, Dominik Krawczyk – class ILC2, ZS nr 31 in Warsaw