OneWorld UIC, Fall 2007
PRESIDENT Priscilla Kunamalla EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Sameera Guttikonda Adam Kuranishi EDITORIAL BOARD Seyi Akintorin Michelle Gutknecht Jailan Hanafy Kostya Nakazny Anand Sandesara Sujay Shah
Acknowledgments: UIC Honors College UIC Study Abroad Office UIC Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Chicago Organization Fund (COF)
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It is with great delight that I present to you the Fall 2007 issue of OneWorld at the University of Illinois – Chicago. Since its recent integration into UIC’s already flourishing body of student-led organizations, OneWorld has grown immensely and has made every effort to put forth an engaging and thought provoking publication each semester. Every issue of the magazine offers a unique assemblage of current events, first-hand experiences, research, and creative exposés that are driven entirely by student initiatives. OneWorld’s vision centers on the key acknowledgment that social unrest, political turmoil, natural disasters, and uncontrollable disease have laid claim to countless lives worldwide. However amidst the statistics and media coverage (or lack thereof ), the profound plight of humanity often remains unknown to the masses. Our sincere hope is that readers will find the articles to be inspiring and informative, that with this new awareness, OneWorld readers will be confronted with the impact that these current situations have on us as individuals and on those throughout the world. Above all else, is our desire for readers to be challenged by the responsibilities we each share as citizens of a larger global community. Armed with this knowledge, action can be taken, and substantial impacts can be made in our world. Priscilla Kunamalla President
OneWorld Magazine 4
Burma: Struggle For Freedom by Kway Sint
7 Trouble in Paradise by Salwa Halloway 10 Botswana: Democracy vs. AIDS Prevention by Adam Kuranishi 12 Egypt’s Hidden Conflict by Anand Sandesara 14 Granada: Expressions On The Walls by Christopher DeBoo 17 My Life. My Faith. My Freedom by Isna Kugshia 19 Knowmore.org by Michelle Gutknecht 20 Outsourcing Surrogacy by Kumud Kataria 22 The Privatization of Water by Emily Finchum 23 Change And Continuity by Sujay Shah 24 Keeping It In The Family: Nepotism In Global Politics by Sameera Guttikonda 25 Bali’s Struggle: Balancing Culture, Sociopolitical Responsiveness, and an Economy by Adam Kuranishi 28 Learning From The Past: The Collapse Of The 2000 Camp David Accord by Priscilla Kunamalla
OneWorld UIC, Fall 2007
Burma: Struggle For Freedom by Kyaw Sint
Burma, also known as Myanmar, is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, bordering Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, Thailand, and with its coast along the Indian Ocean. The nation’s fifty million people are highly diverse with the Bamar being the majority ethnic group with the minorities consisting of the Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine, Shan. Within them are many sets of belief systems, ranging from the Buddhist majority to Islam and Christianity. In September 2007, over one hundred thousand people, led by monks and students, protested in a series of nation-wide demonstrations dubbed the Saffron Revolution. However, Burma’s military regime halted these protests, killing over two hundred and publicly rounding up and arresting numerous students revered monks. The crackdowns continue as suspected protesters are still being rounded up and disappearing with the conditions and whereabouts of many of the prisoners unbeknownst to their families. The protests in the last month are not the first or new violent crackdown to occur in Burma but one of its numerous atrocities in more than forty years under military rule. Just in the 1988 protests, over three thousand students and protesters were machine-gunned down. The people of Burma continue to demonstrate fully aware of the possibility being killed, imprisoned, or tortured. In history, students and monks, highly regarded in society, stood up because of the suppression
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of speech by the British colonialists. Recognizing their national duties to the founding goals of independence of a free and representative government and the peaceful environment to practice religion, students and monks continue to protest against the violent suppression of speech of the military regime of the past forty-five years and for an immediate democratic government that has been promised for seventeen years. The Independence Movement
government continue to be pursued today. The Independence Movement “Lut-Lat-Yay” (lut: to free/release; lut-lat: freedom ; yay: call) began in the early twentieth century to gain independence from Britain who had colonized Burma a few decades earlier. The Independence movement mobilized the population, led by revered monks and students to secure independence and with it, the rights to speech, religion, and fair justice. Monks were opposed to the
from British colonialism provides an analogy for the resistance against Burma’s military regime. This period in Burmese history is a great source of pride and hope and its struggles and goals for a free and representative
British gestures of disrespect towards Buddhism. Imprisoned monks were forced to disrobe when detained, which, in a devout Buddhist society, confers utter disrespect of the faith. Other incidents include British visi-
Photography by http://flickr.com/photos/chrstbll/
tors entered the Shwedagon pagoda (a highly revered monument of Buddhism) wearing shoes which is again a gesture disrespecting the tradition of these devout people, since all visitors are expected to remove their shoes before entering any pagodas. Burmese students too were rallied by feelings that the British considered their people as second-class citizens. They proudly called themselves Thakins, a title reserved for the British rulers, as masters of their own nation, rather than the British. Aung San, elected to the Rangoon University Student Union, and U Nu, refused to identify an anonymous author of an essay criticizing the British administration in their organization’s magazine and were briefly expelled, setting off a student union protest which succeeded in allowing them to return to school. Students from universities across the country believed that through resistance they could achieve reform and that their nation will gain independence. In many cases, students and monks protested on campus grounds and around pagodas. These students initiated and led the fight for the nation’s independence. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Aung San and his colleagues saw the opportunity of the war as leverage to gain independence from Britain. They established groups and formed alliances with other student groups. They met with the Japanese military who sent Aung San and his colleagues to train in Japan to return to secure the territory for the Japanese invasion of Southeast Asia. In 1942, Aung San formed the Burma Independence Army, and aided Japan in controlling Burma. At first, Aung San respected Japan and sought a similar militarydominated model for Burma. However, Aung San and his colleagues were soon disillusioned by the Japanese. They saw the mistreatment of the people by the Japanese military involving practices of slave labor and treatment of Burmese people again as second-class citizens, as Japan reneging their promise of independence. The Burma Independence Army rebelled against Japan and allied themselves with
the British with the hope of independence after the war. Aung San and other political leaders united and recognizing the destructive elements of fascism, they formed the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League. At the end of World War II with the surrender of Japan, Burmese students hoped that Britain would finally grant them independence and finally, on January 27, 1947, Aung San and Clement Atlee, then Prime Minister of the U. K., signed an agreement which secured Burma’s Independence. Aung San also united many ethnic minorities for a single nation. Unfortunately, on July 19, 1947, Aung San and his eight cabinet members were assassinated by a rival, U Saw. Aung San, who died at 32, is seen as the father of independent Burma, well known for his inspiring speeches and essays, leading fellow students for Burma’s independence, founding and leading the Burmese military through the war, and signing the treaty for independence with the British. From 1948 to 1962, Burma was a nation ruled by democracy. After the war, the nation was considered one of the most promising countries in Southeast Asia. It boasted the highest literacy rate, the most successful rice-exporting economies, abundance of resources such as natural gas, teak forests, wildlife, rich minerals, and access to the Indian Ocean. After Aung San’s assassination, U Nu was democratically elected as Burma’s first Prime Minister. U Thant, a close advisor to U Nu, became the third Secretary-General of the United Nations. Despite the country’s prosperity, insurgencies from communist splits were feared of taking the country by force. As the new prime minister, U Nu declared Buddhism as the official religion of Burma infuriating the non-Buddhist ethnic minorities, who threatened the nation with armed conflicts. Harboring fears of instability, U Nu placed General Ne Win in control of the military to stabilize and unify the country. U Nu won elections with a large majority of the votes for a second term. But, with the military under his control, General Ne Win, in 1962, overthrew the democratic government
and arrested U Nu. He reasoned that with the threats from the ethnic minority groups a strong military leader was urgently needed to stabilize the nation. This was not temporary and from then on, the country has remained under control of the military junta. The military regime, from 1962 to present, is considered by many to be one of the world’s most brutal and ruthless military regimes. Four months after the military coup by General Ne Win, students protested peacefully at Rangoon University, but were abruptly halted when the troops opened fire on the protesters, killing hundreds, and dynamited the Rangoon University Student Union building, which was a focal point in the Independence movement. In December of 1974, the military denied a state funeral for the beloved third UN Secretary General U Thant, who promoted peace and democracy internationally. Students brought his coffin and buried him at the Rangoon University Student Union grounds and protested, giving speeches denouncing the military dictatorship. The military took action and killed even more students. Many waves of violence against protesters continued. The military regime is reported to have committed many genocides against ethnic minorities such as the Shans, Karens, Arakans, Rohingya, and many others. Organizations such as the International Labor Organization and Amnesty International have denounced the military regime for forced labor and violence toward other ethnic minorities through starvation, torture, and rape. Human Rights Watch has reported that the Burmese military are forcibly recruiting children as young as ten to the military by recruiters and civilian brokers. Prostitution is increasingly becoming more common as many are unknowingly trafficked and exploited as sex workers and according to UNAIDS, HIV/AIDS among sex workers are 32%. In August 8, 1988, huge protests, known as the failed uprising, began after the total economic failure of the country under the control of the military regime. Students and monks, as in previous generations, joined in calling for change. Over 3000 people were
OneWorld UIC, Fall 2007
killed by the military and many more were arrested. Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, was in Burma tending to her mother’s illness during this time. After her mother’s death and witnessing the conditions of her home country, she felt that she had a duty to her nation and to the entire Burmese people to restore democracy and free elections. She gave speeches across the country. As the daughter of the beloved General Aung San, the honored father of modern Burma, she gained the respect of ordinary Burmese who were moved by her speeches of what Lut-LatYay (freedom) that her father sought. In May 1990, the military regime held a nationwide multi-party elections, Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won an overwhelming majority—over eighty percent in almost all districts. The military regime, astonished with the results, denied the NLD its rightful place in power and placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest while other party leaders were detained in prison and tortured. The government, understanding that mistreating Aung San Suu Kyi would inflame the people, cleverly imprisoned her in her own residence. The military regime offered Aung San Suu Kyi a choice to be released on the condition that she leaves Burma and never return. Aung San Suu Kyi, resolved to dedicate her life to restore freedom to the Burmese people, refused and she has remained under house arrest to this today, although she was briefly released back in 1996. Meanwhile, many NLD members continued to be harassed, jailed, and tortured in prisons. In 2003, when Aung San Suu Kyi was briefly released, Depayin Massacre occurred where at least seventy of her supporters were killed by plain-clothes soldiers of
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the regime although the planned attempt to assassinate her was in vain. Reflecting on Burma’s history, students and monks have always led the protest for Lut-Lat-Yay against the ruling junta. In looking at the current situation in Burma, one can see that history is repeating itself. Sparked by the rise of fuel and natural gas by five-folds within a week, students and monks led demonstrations against the military regime for the basic human rights of safety, freedom of speech, religion, and democracy. Their admirable efforts were trampled when the officials opened fire. The official counts of deaths (approximately 20) are far from reality. Insiders report that between two hundred and three hundred people have been killed while 4,000 monks and protesters have been imprisoned. Inside the detention centers, many are being tortured. There are even reports that injured protesters were carried away and burned alive in crematoriums in order to remove any evidence of the large-scale brutality incited by the junta. Although international pressure has intensified to condemn the junta and its actions, China has consistently refused to strongly denounce this ruthless regime. In January 2007, Rus-
sia and China have vetoed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would have urged Burma to ease repression and release political prisoners. China, Russia, India and some other countries provide the junta with weapons and training. China also has significant economic investments in Burma. Therefore, to protect their investments, they will not officially declare their disapproval of the junta’s reactions towards the peaceful protests. No amount of investments justifies protecting this regime that as mercilessly tortured and murdered its own people. Therefore, we must pressure China, Burma’s major trading partner, to openly denounce the actions of the Burmese military regime. We, as students, must denounce human rights abuses occurring around the world as we are also participants in our increasingly globalized world. Human rights are not an “internal issue” as the regime claims. If the regime wants trade sanctions lifted, they must first prove
that at least the freedom of speech is respected. We must not lower our moral standards by supporting a regime that blatantly disrespects basic human rights.
Photography by http://www.thtc.co.uk/includes/images/blog/00338.jpg
Trouble In Paradise By Salwa Halloway
When I was younger and would mention that my parents are from Sierra Leone, the common response was “What? Where is that?” Now, all I have to do is say, ‘Have you heard of the movie “Blood Diamonds”?’ Afterwards, people express their sympathies or show signs of pity. Really, I feel ashamed to associate this magnificent land with an action film that supposedly aims to bring awareness of Africa’s problems to the general public. Sierra Leone’s contribution to the world stretches beyond amputees, child soldiers and poverty. If anything, that is just a minute, yet terribly tragic part of our history. It does not represent who we are as a nation. Nestled between Liberia and Guinea lies Sierra Leone. Small, but mighty, the country boasts a rich history. Initially inhabited by the Bulom people, an ethnic group known for its intelligence and mastery of carving, Si-
erra Leone first came into contact with Europeans in 1462 when the Portuguese explorer, Pedro da Cintra, landed on her beautiful shores. Legend has it that he named the land Sierra Leone, which translates to Lion Mountain, either because at a distance the mountains resembled lions, or because his expedition occurred during rainy seasona period occurring from April through October that is characterized by heavy rainfall- and the thunder was so intense that is sounded like a lion’s roar. The British, who would eventually become Sierra Leone’s colonial power, were the next to explore. However, their “explorations” resulted in exploitation. People were taken into slavery, and Sierra Leone was robbed of its many natural resources. One of Sierra Leone’s impacts on the Western Hemisphere came about from the slave trade. In 1839 on the Spanish slave ship, “La Amistad,”
the Mende farmer Sengbeh Pieh (or known in America as Joseph Cinque) organized and staged a rebellion in resistance to becoming a slave. After being tried in America and awarded his right to live as a free man, he and the other captives aboard the ship returned to their homeland. The events which occurred on La Amistad play a pivotal role in American history. It is the spark that caused the fire known as the American Civil War. Another aspect of Sierra Leonean history is the founding of the capital city, Freetown, in 1787. Freetown acted as a refuge for free slaves. The freed slaves originally came from Nova Scotia, where they had migrated following the American War of Independence. Furthermore, with the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, all captives seized on the high seas were brought for resettlement to Sierra Leone. In addition to freed slaves and captured Africans, the Maroons of Jamaica found themselves in Freetown. The given information is a testament to the kind nature of the Sierra Leonean people. Had the people of Sierra Leone not been tolerant, they would have rejected the Europeans, freed slaves, returned captives, Maroons, and later Lebanese, Indians, and Pakistanis. If it were not for the welcoming attitude of the Sierra Leonean, these people would have never been able to integrate into Sierra Leonean society. Contrary to the stereotype of Africans being uneducated and primitive, Sierra Leonean society was highly civilized
OneWorld UIC, Fall 2007
and expressed an interest and value in education. In fact Shakespeare’s Hamlet was performed on September 1607 on a ship, the Dragon, anchored off the coast of Sierra Leone. The performance was attended by several African dignitaries. Also, the first performance of Richard II was held in Sierra Leone. Moreover, in the book Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race, author E.W. Blyden mentions Foday Tarawally, a native who lived in the interior of the country and had an extensive library of texts written in Arabic. Keep in mind the Mr. Tarawally was not a noted scholar. He was just a common Sierra Leonean who, like many other Sierra Leoneans, was educated, valued education, and availed himself of every opportunity to acquire knowledge. Furthermore, Sierra Leone holds the first institution of higher education in sub-Saharan Africa (Fourah Bay College, founded in 1827), and the first secondary school for boys (CMS Grammar School, founded in 1845) and for girls (Annie Walsh School, founded in 1849). However, it is the reputation of Fourah Bay College that landed Sierra Leone the appellation of “the Athens of West Africa.” Students as north as Tunisia and as south as Namibia came to Sierra Leone to receive an education. It is the combination of tolerance and education which permitted progress to occur in Sierra Leone. In 1794, women received the right to vote, making Sierra Leone the first country in the world to allow such a monumental and progressive action. Another example of advancement is that Sierra Leone bears no signs ethnic or religious animosity. It is common for Christians to take part in the Eid-al –Fitr festivities and for the Muslims to partake in Christmas celebrations. In addition, it is ordinary for a Sierra Leonean to refer to himself or herself as “ChrisMus,” or Christian and Muslim. With all the wonders of this country, how is it that from 1991 to 2001 a campaign of terror dominated? Sierra Leone’s blessing and curse are its mineral resources- diamonds, iron ore, chromium, bauxite and rutile, to name a few. In fact, at one point Sierra
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Leone produced twenty-five percent of the world’s ornamental diamonds. The diamonds, which are mostly alluvial, are easily extracted from the earth without the need for heavy machinery. Sierra Leone at this juncture of its history was relatively defenseless, which made it easy for mercenaries from Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Europe to invade and unleash mayhem. Even, the most cited arms supplier to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the rebel force through which outside sources exploited Sierra Leone, was Viktor Bout from Russia. His guns were given to children, under the influence of adults. The children, who would eventually be known as child soldiers, were seized, heavily drugged and then released to society to commit heinous crimes. Their tasks included killing their own parents, maiming innocent civilians and acting as human shields.
The history of the RUF began in March 1991. Hungry for power and supported by outside forces, Foday Sankoh and his men attacked villages in the eastern part of Sierra Leone. The RUF consisted of Charles Taylor’s (warlord and former president of Liberia) thugs and mercenaries from Burkina Faso. The trademark of the RUF was the maiming of limbs. Often they would give the victims the options to wear their limbs “long sleeve” or “short sleeve.” “Long sleeve” meant that only the hands would be removed. “Short sleeve” victims had their hands and forearms removed by machetes or other sharp objects. Other atrocities include, but are not limited to, raping women and girls, beatings, pillaging and the setting of homes and people on fire. The RUF shortly went on the take over the diamond mines of the Kono district. As the years progressed the
Sierra Leonean government struggled to contain the RUF’s actions. In May of 1997, the democratically elected president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was overthrown by a military junta called the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). Its leader, Johnny Paul Koroma, invited the RUF to join them in Freetown. As a combined force, the AFRC and RUF proceeded to maim, rape, kill and bring destruction to Freetown, among other parts of the country. Many people were forced to flee the country, or face torture at the hands of the RUF and AFRC. The blood of the Sierra Leoneans poured in the streets of Freetown.
from persecution. The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) also attempted to establish peace at this time by placing troops in the country. However, in April of 2000, RUF activity, including kidnapping UNAMSIL troops and holding them hostage, returned. Sankoh and other members of the RUF were arrested for their violation of the peace agreement. By May 2000, the British intervened in hopes of subduing the rebel forces. They were successful and in January of 2002, the war was officially declared over. Where was the world while Sierra Leone suffered? Why is it only recently, several years after the war,
The ECOMOG, the military arm of the Economic Community of West African States, were able to subdue the AFRC and reinstate Kabbah as president. However in January of 1999, the RUF returned with a vengeance. This period of the war is referred to “Operation No Living Thing” with the slogan “Fawl sef no go waka na treet (Even the chickens will not be present in the streets.) This statement implies that every living being will be killed. By July 1999, the Lome Peace Accord was signed, allowing the RUF to have seats in the Sierra Leonean government and to receive general amnesty
that people are taking interest in the country? Wouldn’t the attention have been more appropriate during “Operation No Living Thing” or even before that period in time? Why did “Blood Diamonds” not emphasize the foreign elements which instigated, or at least encouraged, the war? Since the 1980s DeBeers had allowance to mind diamonds offshore, and kept an office in Sierra Leone and the neighboring countries. Furthermore, the RUF sold the diamonds to outside sources, such as the previously named Viktor Bout, in return for weapons. Also, the ECOMOG appealed to the USA for
Photography by http://flickr.com/photos/lindsaystark/505912923/in/set-7
logistics in 1997 and was rejected. For a great amount of time, the ECOMOG was fighting the rebels with only one helicopter. Could these factors, among others, have impacted the outcome of the war and possibly explain why the war lasted so long or even why it occurred in the first place? Why does the movie and many other sources insist that Sierra Leone experienced a civil war? The characteristics of this war resemble that of an invasion. Could this possibly be an attempt to perpetuate the idea of the savage Africans killing each other? Lastly, I am grateful for the British intervention, but an enormous amount of credit needs to be given to the Kamajor. The Kamajor, under the guidance of the late Samuel Hinga Norman, consisted of traditional hunters and warriors who have mastered the land and thus used guerilla warfare to fight off the rebels. They were able to secure portions of the country, while the rest of the world ignored us. In return for his courage, Hinga Norman was arrested, and he recently died as a prisoner. He and his men saved Sierra Leone. He is a hero of Sierra Leone. Why is he not featured extensively in the movie, “Blood Diamonds”? Could it be that he goes against the image of a constructive African? When will history have its say? Sierra Leone is not yet in a stable position. It has had its second election since the war, but progression still needs to take place. The story of Sierra Leone mimics the story of many African nations-potentially rich countries with glorious histories caught in a state regress, because they were denied the opportunity to improve themselves. To quote the former Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba, “History will one day have its say…Africa will write its own history, and it will be, to the north and to the south of the Sahara, a history of glory and dignity.” So, next time I mention that my parents are from Sierra Leone, please don’t express any sympathy. Because really, I am not sad about being Sierra Leonean.
OneWorld UIC, Fall 2007
Botswana: Democracy vs. AIDS Prevention by Adam Kuranishi Imagine living in a country with the greatest average economic growth in the world. One that has a constitutional democracy, a gross domestic product per capita that is two to four times greater than that of its neighboring countries; one that provides free health care and public education to its citizens. In a world plagued by an acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic, affecting 38.6 million people and responsible for 3 million deaths annually around the world, this country spends more money per person on HIV/AIDS related causes than any country on its continent. About the same size, geographically as France, but only 3% of France’s population, Botswana is in the heart of Sub-Saharan Africa. Since the country gained independence from British colonialism in 1966, Botswana has made tremendous progress through its economic, political, and social achievements. According to an International Monetary Fund report comparing worldwide economic growth over the past 40 years, Botswana has reached the top of the charts and continues to grow economically at 5.4% annually. The country remains economically comfortable as the diamond industry flourished and continues to profit today. Botswana has earned a relatively respectable reputation, free from civil and international wars, and has sustained a responsive, socially progressive government. Despite having an esteemed human rights record, and a successful
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economy, the country is stricken with a horrendous epidemic, a uniquely disastrous situation when compared worldwide. Botswana is currently home to the second worst AIDS crisis in the world. Currently, the government spends about $70US per person annually on prevention mechanisms, allocating more money per capita than any state on the African continent. However, in spite of these strong fiscal efforts, 40% of Botswana’s adult population is infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This accounts for approximately 350,000 of its citizens. The first case of HIV in Botswana was reported in 1985. During the fifteen year span after the initial diagnosis was made, Botswana’s life expectancy rate dropped fifteen years, with 40% of its population under twenty years. As the
epidemic ravages its population, Botswana still holds the most prosperous economy in the world, and continues to funnel funds into HIV/AIDS programs, trumping the financial efforts of every country on its continent. How could a country with a highly responsive government and such tremendous wealth be in such a health crisis? To
answer this convoluted question, you must first take into consideration Botswana’s approach to the AIDS pandemic during the 1980s, its economic dependencies, governmental structure, and cultural barriers. In 1985, the World Health Organization reported 20,303 AIDS cases, and acknowledged the virus’s steady and dangerous growth. It was at this time, as AIDS became a worldwide issue that the wealthy, socially responsive Botswana government quickly campaigned against the epidemic. Working domestically and in conjunction with many international humanitarian groups, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), USAID, Ministry of Health, and other international NGOs, the government attempted to shine light on HIV and they facilitated prevention mechanisms in an attempt to control its spread. The government of Botswana adopted western prevention techniques in an attempt to change sexual behavior. In 1988, the first national campaign used radio messages and billboards advocating the ABC (Abstain from sex, Be Faithful, where a Condom) program and condoms were distributed to the public free of charge. The latex birth control is an effective, predominately western, prevention technique. The quick rate in which the government bombarded its public with sex education and accessibility to contraceptives created an unexpected social response among the citizens of Botswana. Considering HIV/AIDS wasn’t as prevalent in Botswana during the 1980s, the government’s bold attempts to change sexual behavior and societal norms
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caused local civic groups and churches to condemn the government’s prevention programs. Because of the conflicting message, the public ignored the campaigns, while younger generations, who now possessed contraceptives and new perspectives on sexual freedom, challenged traditional constraints, and went on to contribute to the pandemic’s rapid growth. The WHO, western NGOs, and the Botswana government failed to take into consideration cultural aspects and local perceptions of sex. Sexual activity in Botswana has cultural sentiment. Embedded in their religion and traditions, sex is given special value, not only for procreation, but is also “health-giving.” Premarital and casual sex was uncommon before the introduction of condom use and western sexual education. When condoms were massively distributed to the public, young adults were exposed to a new culture of sexuality. As a result, Botswanas were engaging in more casual sex both with and without protection. Condom use did not become an agent of control but rather evolved into a major contributor to the
spread of HIV. If the local government is unwilling to encourage its citizenry to practice HIV prevention and utilize the free testing clinics and Antiretroviral Treatments, HIV will continue to dominant its population. Additionally, the newly implemented HIV/AIDS educational programs excluded cultural healers, and somewhat undermined traditional interpretations of disease prevention and health care. The western organizations, such as WHO, did not take into account traditional mechanisms other than biomedical science and pharmaceuticals. Indeed, biomedical science and Antiretroviral Treatment drugs have proven to be effective and successful, however, by neglecting to consider cultural and societal techniques, the Botswana government and NGOs failed to develop a sufficient understanding of the disease among the people. As a result, the federal government’s efforts were ignored by civic groups, churches, grassroots organizations, and local sectors of government. Lack of collaboration between local and federal government essentially fueled the growth of the epidemic. Aside from social stigmas and a lack of cooperation between the levels of government, apathy towards the epidemic is also influenced by the seemingly small impact it has had on Botswana’s prosperous economy. The Botswana economy is dependent on the tourist, cattle, and diamond industries. These three entities have not been plagued by the epidemic, allowing the markets to flourish. Employing only a small portion of the population, tourism and cattle companies have not experienced turmoil in their labor force. The most critical aspect of the economy, the Diamond and Mining industry only
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employees 6,300, and of the workers, only 26% of them are essential, trained technicians. As long as these few members of the labor-force stay healthy, the economy has and will remain strong. If the economic situation in Botswana declines because of AIDS, the public might find it necessary to take action on the issue. Until they face fiscal dire, the citizenry will continue to ignore the epidemic. It is important to compare Botswana to other African countries that have improved their AIDS prevalence rates over the years. With a population 15 times that of Botswana, yet with only1/10th of its GDP, Uganda’s HIV/AIDS situation has dramatically improved since the mid-1980s. The country’s HIV incidence rates have gradually declined in 20 years from 30% to 10%. Uganda’s conservative leader, President Musevini, promoted traditional family values, prohibiting western condom campaigns and institutionalizing sexual behavioral control. Unlike the democratically responsible Botswana government, Musevini forced HIV testing, rather than making it voluntary. Musevini worked with churches and civil society to promote “faithful marriage” ideals and efforts to stigmatize the epidemic’s victims. Comparing Botswana to Uganda, it is obvious that an attempt to preserve civil liberties and make HIV testing voluntary, instead of mandatory, has not made any progress in the health issue, and in fact, has perpetuated its demise. In order for Botswana to make progress, HIV tests must be made mandatory, cooperation between local and centralized government must be implemented, and the economy needs to be directly effected by the epidemic to spark attention and concern. Princess Anne of Britain once said, “It could be said that the AIDS pandemic is a classic own-goal scored by the human race against itself.” In Botswana’s case, the societal issues and human ignorance that contributes to the affluence of the pandemic and the citizenry has yet to improve. This lack of social progress is the country’s greatest enemy in the fight against AIDS.
OneWorld UIC, Fall 2007
Egypt’s Hidden Conflict by Anand Sandesara The traffic is always bumperto-bumper, and the honking is incessant. The metro, clean as it may be, packs people like sardines into each cart. The streets are crowded, and the lack of traffic laws leads to a cetain amount of chaos. From sunrise, through the oppressive afternoon heat, until 3 AM, people leisurely walk along the Nile riverside with friends and family. Cairo, Egypt has a particular pulse as its sixteen million residents make up Africa’s largest city. Ninety-five percent of Egyptians live on only five percent of the land, and still, Egypt is the continent’s second most populous nation. In the hustle and bustle lifestyle of modernity, one would imagine that global identities blend together among the Egyptian masses. However, as I learned during my study abroad this past summer at the American University in Cairo (AUC), religious and ethnic group tensions are ever-present but seldom addressed. Simple comments I heard made their mark on me as I was challenged to evaluate a side of Egypt entirely separate from its ancient treasures, ornate mosques, and mouthwatering cuisine. “I hate Israeli Jews,” Maha said matter-of-factly as she took in another puff from her watermelon sheesha. History class was canceled for the day, so four of us students decided to dine at a nearby café where our conversation took an unexpected turn towards religion. I was taken slightly off guard by her strong remark, for Maha had been one of the most hospitable Egyptians I had met. In retrospect, her position was not entirely unexpected. With the Israeli-Palestinian problem so close to home, and the Israeli-Egyptian border having led the two nations to a number of conflicts, including the defeat of
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the Six Days War in 1967, it was not unusual for animosities to still exist. Nonetheless, it was surprising that sentiments still existed to such a degree and that those opinions were held by what seemed like a more open-minded generation. Maha was only twenty years old and was very well-educated in comparison to the average Egyptian. And perhaps most perplexing of all was her admittance to having never met a “yahudi” (Jew) in her life. Shocking? The deep-rooted IsraeliPalestinian conflict has progressed to such convoluted proportions that there is no clear right or wrong side and no agreeable solution in near sight. Still, Egyptian media seemed to present a clear bias in favor of the Palestinian cause. There were posters publicizing the conditions of Palestinian refugees all around the city, and Al-Jazeera regularly ran television stories on their plight while AlAhram published articles with regards to their dismal treatment. Even though it may seem as though Egyptian media has taken a slanted view on the issue, the conditions of the Palestinians are undeniably awful. In my classes at AUC, the statistics showed that the Gaza Strip was one of the most densely populated areas of land on the planet home to over one million Palestinian refugees. Education and exposure to the matter from such a vantage point creates needed sympathy, yet I found that this one-dimensional view has led to a degree of religious intolerance. While Cairo was once home to a huge Jewish community, today’s numbers show that less than seven
hundred Jews remain. “No, no, no, we’re not Muslim!” my students exclaimed, shaking their heads in disapproval and mild horror. During my two month stay, I taught English to young adults in a Coptic Christian community of Cairo through a non-profit organization. Every Tuesday and Thursday my friend and I conducted two hour classes where we worked on English skills and vocabulary based on lesson plans we had created ourselves. When we picked
religion and nationality as a lesson plan, we were startled by the harsh responses we received from our students upon simply asking if any of them were Muslim. While the majority of population adheres to Islam, ten to fifteen percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians. The religion has been present in Egypt as early as the second century AD, but as it turned into a minority faith in the face of Islam, it became less tolerated. According to many Coptics, Egyptian law has raised obstacles for
Photography by Anand Sandesara
churches to be built or even repaired, unlike with mosques. Additionally, Copts are statistically underrepresented in most government positions. Despite meager media coverage of religious
in a heavy accent. My five friends and I had just climbed Mount Sinai and were resting in a small tent near the summit, drinking mint chai and waiting for the sun to rise. Having trekked up
violence, Copts have been the targets of hate crimes, facing numerous murders and church attacks. The future of the Coptic community seems unsure as the Muslim Brotherhood, a largely influential Islamic-based political party, continues to gain support amongst the Egyptian population. Many Copts have a small Coptic cross tattooed onto the inside of their right wrists, a source of great pride. It also serves another purpose- in times of severe persecution and possible weakness in belief, Copts cannot renounce their religion since they have been permanently marked. In some ways, Egypt’s internal conflict is ironic since religion is so infused in the culture and language of the country. If you ask someone, “How are you?” they will respond, “Alhamdullilah” or “praise be to God.” If you ask someone if they are free next weekend, they will say, “Insha’allah” or “Godwilling.” While many assume that Allah refers to the Islamic god, Arabicspeaking Christians and Jews also refer to their supreme being as Allah, since it is just the word for God. It is unfortunate the different interpretations of this one word have led to such sectarian violence. “Americans good, Egyptians bad,” our Bedouin guide, Ali, said to us
the mountain in a grueling three hours, trying to keep up with our speedy guide in the darkness, we were sweating and out of breath. I almost hadn’t caught his comment, and I was too exhausted at the time to inquire further on the puzzling statement. The Bedouin are traditionally a desert nomad people, but in recent times, many have been forced by the pressures of the modern world to settle down in urban areas. Much of the Egyptian Bedouin population inhabits the Sinai Peninsula, which is considered one of the more economically disadvantaged regions of the country, save a couple of tourist towns on the coast. Unemployment here is rampant, and a large part of the Bedouin dissatisfaction with the Egyptian government comes from the lack of economic support and inadequate investment in the region. The rise in terrorist activity that Egypt has seen over the last few years is most often blamed on the Bedouin population. Largely starved of resources, some members of tribes have turned to radical Islam and the rhetoric of al-Qaeda, leading to attacks in the peninsula. Tensions between Cairo and the Sinai tribes have also risen as a result of the state’s interference in traditional Bedouin ways of life and
Photography by Anand Sandesara
reluctance to economically integrate the region with the rest of the nation. Cairo’s harsh security measures in the Sinai have at times led to security sweeps that have unnecessarily detained hundreds of Bedouin individuals, including women and children, in attempts to break any suspected terrorist cells. While my guide Ali expressed his sentiments towards Egypt’s government, distancing himself from the nation and identifying more with his tribe, he is clearly not alone in his frustrations. Bedouins across the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa suffer similar plights involving what they believe are apathetic governments. My time in Egypt gave me the best two months of my life, exposing me to a beautiful country and culture. Whether I was buying mangos from the street vendors, spending time in gardens of Al-Azhar, camping in the Sahara, wandering the ruins of Luxor, enjoying the Mediterranean air of Alexandria, or swimming in the reefs of the Red Sea, Egypt was my paradise. However, away from the glamour of city life or the intrigue of Nefertiti and Tutankhamun, it is clear that Egypt faces a little-acknowledged problem as the rich diversity of the region’s people is undermined by bouts of division and intolerance. Of course, the opinions I heard cannot be attached to everyone. Maha’s sister and my Palestinian roommate were both very open and accepting individuals. Nevertheless, subtle hints of the problem were prevalent, and one can only hope that Egypt begins to recognize these deep-seeded issues and tackle them head on. One must take into consideration that it is not uncommon for countries to struggle with internal battles when it comes to dealing with their diverse populations. However, as one of the most influential nations of the Middle East and North Africa, Egypt needs to end its religious and ethnic group tensions in order to continue to serve as a model for the region and ensure that its impressive history will be followed by a bright and unified future.
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Granada: Expressions On The Walls Photographs and text by Christopher DeBoo
Equating fascism and capitalism as forces to be reckoned with and destroyed, the image below suggests that fascism isnâ€™t the only active fight here in Spain. For a citizen of a largely capitalist country to express both in the same breath is insanity. Yet the socialist leanings of the anti-fascist graffiti movement in Granada would suggest that neither fascism nor capitalism is acceptable in Spain. We would be wise to heed this suggestion as Spain is fast emerging as a world power and its economy is growing daily. Do the youth of the nation really desire this boom-time for Spain?
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Read at its simplest translation, the spray reads “Clean Granada; Kill Fascists,” and appears to be an extreme call to the uninformed eye. But in case you were unaware or know very little of 20th century Spanish history, here will be offered a crash course. In a nutshell, Franciso Franco, a general-cum-dictator with exceptionally fascist tendencies, assumed power in Spain after the bloody Spanish Civil War. From 1936 until 1939, with the support of other notable European fascists of the day [Mussolini and Hitler to name a few], Franco and his breakaway army defeated scores of often loosely unified leftists, centrists, anarchists, and international volunteers against fascism, along with everyday Spanish supporters of the Spain of old. Upon the rebel victory, the varied cultures of Spain were made to give up their way of life to conform entirely to Franconian standards: Catholic, Spanish, heterosexual, and obedient. Though these are not repressive attributes when elected individually, Franco’s Spain stomped out dissidence with an iron fist and suppressed public expression to minimal levels. Incarcerations, secret police, interrogations, disappearances campaigns of disinformation, and general isolation of the country were all quite common in Franco’s Spain. However, shortly after Franco’s death in 1975, Spain reformed itself into a parliamentary constitutional monarchy under Juan Carlos II. Civil liberties were restored, and large degrees of independence were soon granted to the 16 “autonomous communities” of Spain. Yet the damage had already been done to the political aspirations, to the cultural psyche, and to the human dignity of nearly two generations of Spaniards. With vengeance being the powerful motive that it is, the anti-fascist sentiment is still keen on grabbing a piece of retribution, or at least an ounce of prevention, with these wounds still only freshly healed.
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Note: “Nazis” often appears interchangeably with “Fascistas/Fachas” amongst politically-agitated Spanish youth. It seems they believe it makes for an increasingly bold case against oppressive state government to use mention of the Third Reich’s most (in)famous political party, and call on the sympathies of the majority; I can’t say it’s a wholly ineffective tactic. There are also numerous anti-racist groups (“skinheads anti-raicistas”) who may employ the same terminology in their graffiti. Found on the wall of Hospital Gran Capitan was this shining gem of anti-fascist art, located just steps from a 16th century Catholic monastery amidst a very populated plaza. The political pendulum in modern Spain is agitated, swinging wildly between the Partido Popular (People’s Party or PP), a center-right conservative group and the PSOE, a leftist Spanish Socialist Workers Party, while touching on all other manners of political belief in between. Notice the sickle-and-hammer adjacent to the Anarchist “A,” posing the suggestion that socialists and anarchists are united against fascism, as they sometimes were in the civil war years. Today, nearly thirty years after the death of Franco, the children who lived under the last days of the Franco regime and the earliest days of the New Spain are growing up and many of them are university-aged. Here, the University of Granada hosts anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 students in a city of perhaps 270,000 to 310,000 persons. As a 22 year-old computer engineering major, Stephan is a prime example of the student population here, a child of the post-war era. “It’s probably the art students,” Stephan tells me of the graffiti here. “They’re the politically uneasy ones, the ones that think that their fight for a more socialist Spain is actually going to happen this next  election.” “They are all wrong,” he continues, “Nobody likes Zapatero [PSOE, President of Spain], and it’s going to go to the PP.” The outcome of the next election obviously remains to be seen. But the implication that Spain’s next president will again come from the right-hand of the political spectrum must strike a nerve deep in the collectivist mentality of some youthful post-war Spaniards.
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My Life. My Faith. My Freedom by Isna Kugshia A simple cloth on her head stopped her from getting an education. A Muslim woman is distinguished among other women, most notably by her attire. The Hijab is a head scarf worn by Muslim women around the world as an insurance of modesty, respect, and devotion to her faith. The various media sources have brought great attention to Muslim women in the last few years, often misrepresenting the truth. The Hijab is portrayed as an oppressor to the Muslim woman and a danger to secular society. The truth is that an increasing number of younger Muslims are adhering to the Hijab as a liberator. The Hijab allows Muslim women to be regarded through their character and not through their attractiveness. This piece of cloth has caused an eminent debate within the international political arena, which is why some nations have taken it upon themselves to ban the Hijab. The media’s overall ill portrayal of a Muslim female and France’s highly secular outlook sparked the French ban of the Hijab in March 2004 by former President Jacques Chirac. The law ordered the ban of all “conspicuous” religious symbols in public schooling, but with a Muslim population of over 8 million, the ban was ostensibly for the regulation of the Hijab. Under this law, a small cross or Star of David would be allowed. Company executives were given the choice to decide if they wanted to allow female workers to wear the Hijab. The majority of Muslims in France saw the law as a prejudiced decision which was devised to limit their religious rights. This move reaffirmed France’s motive to create a bold division between church and state because in their view, the Hijab was violating this division. Only in 1905 was the idea of expanding separation of
state considered, and decades later in 1989, French council men had decided that the headscarf would be permitted unless it was willfully worn to antagonize other religions. In many ways the French government failed to recognize the idea that the Hijab is not a form of expression or rebellion against the government. Wearing the Hijab is a religious practice, and it shows commitment to the faith that Muslims pose. The Hijab serves as a function for women in Islam, and allows for gender equality because the woman is perceived not as an object of beauty, but rather as an individual with aspiring ideas, powerful goals, and incalculable talent. Physical attractiveness is not a factor in judging a woman and her thoughts when she wears the Hijab. The Hijab has been part of Islam since its birth; it is not merely a cultural or fashionable ideology. The French media, amidst the commencement of the Hijab ban, broadcasted several programs about Muslim women, in which the interviewees were all but Muslim. The French media refused to incorporate the views held by Muslims until there were massive global protests. Non-Muslims were also outraged by this law, which virtually denied the right to practice religion. Under the media’s heavy negative influence, the French questioned why Muslims wanted to live in France, where their views seemed to conflict with modernism. Muslims counter
Photography by http://flickr.com/photos/93925132@N00/
argued, asking why being fully clothed conflicted with western dogma, while being nude, for example, was oftentimes deemed acceptable. The ban claimed to having freed French Muslim women from being forced to wear the Hijab by their husbands or fathers, but ironically, the majority of Muslim women chose to wear the Hijab as followers of Islam. Many of these women demanded that the right to practice their faith be returned. Most Muslims living in France are second or
third generation French citizens, whose parents are of Algerian decent and were brought to France as laborers. These Muslims are now primarily Frenchspeaking natives, who are left with no more ties to their homelands. They are French citizens, not newly arrived immigrants as is often believed. The French Ministry has had conflicts with Muslims for centuries and in March 2004 the French finally decided to act against this matter by prohibiting the
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Muslim women from wearing the hijab and essentially inhibiting them from following their faith. The debate about whether the French government took an unruly turn continues to this day, three years later. France’s behavior has influenced Germany, Britain, Tunisia, Spain, and Italy to consider following in their footsteps. Promisingly enough, for the American Muslims, the Hijab will not be banned in public schools unless it interferes with the learning of other students. This serves as a slight ray of hope, but the possibility of it remaining that way is low, thanks to the domino effect France’s decision is beginning to have on other western nations. How far can
with and disposes of a toy as he pleases. Since when is the better of society based upon the covetousness of a politician? Turkey’s new President Abduallah Gul, along with Prime Minister Erdogan, finally lifted the ban on the Hijab on September 20, 2007, which had prohibited Muslim Women from attending public institutions or the workplace upon employer demand. This prohibition had virtually divided the nation into two: the pro-Islamic and the anti-Islamic. This was in a country where 97% of the population identified themselves as Muslim, but the few ruling elite were extreme secularists. The pro-modern, secularist government is firm on Ataturk’s principles, which
nations go to end the threat they see in Islam? Apparently far enough to violate human rights say some. And others protest that outlawing the Hijab is like outlawing Islam, because the Hijab is an integral part of their faith. They believe that denying a head-scarved female education, employment, or a hopeful future are unfortunately the results of France’s division of church and state.
views Islam as an internal threat to the government. Ataturk became the founder and first President of Turkey in 1923, and for the next decade, he implemented policies which replaced Islamic laws with western ideologies and reforms, which brought Turkish laws to cleanse of any Islamic idea. Putting restraints on Muslim name holders and Islamic dressing, Ataturk turned Turkey towards westernism at the cost of democracy and personal freedom, in hopes of joining the European Union. The general elections held in July 2007 resulted in a rough loss for the traditional secular government,
Turkey’s Controversy on Hijab The Hijab has become a crucial factor for the gamble of politicians, a parallel to a young child who plays
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where Candidate Gul was seen as a threat to secularism because of his devoutness to Islam. Now President Abduallah Gul, along with Erdogan, is going to amend the secularist constitution to allow the Turks their basic human liberties. In 1999, Merve Kavacki, Gul’s wife, was elected democratically for a parliamentary seat and had been approved by President Demirel. The day she took her seat, however, she was humiliated for wearing the headscarf, and it was demanded that she leave. Demirel later eradicated her Turkish citizenship in spite of the peoples’ vote and acceptance of her Hijab. Upholding elimination of the Hijab on a “sectarian” motive is not a promising clarification for some Turkish leaders when 76% of the Turkish population approves of it. The fight for human rights has always been a universal battle and unfortunately this battle may never end as we see negative qualities prevail unchallenged in our societies. The University of Illinois - Chicago’s many Muslims would agree that following Islam and living in a secular society is a challenging journey. The prayer five times a day, fasting, and other religious obligations are an integral part of Islam, which cannot be compromised. Unfortunately, the struggle for basic human liberties has, is, and may always be prevalent in our society, where the victim can be anyone. It is essential that we learn to appreciate the liberties we are given and promote universal human rights.
Illustration by http://flickr.com/photos/22701595@N00/
Knowmore.org - The User Friendly Buyers’ Guide to Responsible Consumerism and Everything Corporate by Michelle Gutknecht Current Trends and the Consumer’s Dilemma Over the last decade, there has been a noticeable shift to an overall heightened awareness of the social, environmental, cultural, and political implications of our daily buying habits and our collective long term consumption patterns in this country. The “Green Movement” in particular has really gained widespread recognition, and support from politicians, celebrities, corporations and the general public, due to filmmakers and various organizations showcasing the undeniable mounting evidence that proves the reality of global warming that scientists have been trying to warm the public about for years. In reaction to these popularized environmental concerns, a significant portion of the general consuming public have been trying to make a conscious effort to buy from earth-friendly brands and companies, but the prominence of “greenwashing” (the practice of companies presenting misleading information about their products in order to create the illusion of environmentally sound practices and ideals) often deters customers from making a truly informed decision. This corporate deception of the truth is evident not only when it comes to environmental issues, but also in the areas of human rights, workers rights, business ethics and political influence. And while there is an increasing number of concerned citizens aware of this proliferation of strategic misinformation who are striving to make thoughtful decisions about their consumption patterns, their good intentions often remain only intentions because there seems to be no easy or efficient way to sift through all of the marketing-thick messages; until now.
Know More Three years ago, Rhode Island based spoken word and hip hop activists Sage Francis and Bernard Dolan joined forces and co-founded an informational consumer activist website like no other called Knowmore.org. The website is self proclaimed “a grassroots, web-based community” that implores their readers to “question your goods, and vote with your wallet,” and provides them with a wealth of resources and information to help them make those conscious and informed consumer decisions and make the most of their purchase power. Features of the Site
The primary goal of the site is to help their readers become more informed and conscious consumers by providing them with a vast database of “easily searchable corporate and political information designed to aid responsible citizens, progressive thinkers and activists.” The KnowMore database is the only corporate catalog of its kind. Essentially, it’s a collection of extensive profiles compiled by the organization’s researchers and volunteers that provides information about the company’s at-
titudes and actions concerning human rights, workers rights, the environment, business ethics and political influence. The original profiles are compiled by KnowMore researchers and volunteers, but since the database is in wiki format, readers are encouraged to comment on profiles and add and new or missing information to company profiles, which is frequently and meticulously monitored by KnowMore administrators. And while it is hard to miss that the founders of the site have strong opinions about many political issues, Knowmore is not affiliated with any political party, candidate or PAC in any way. Rather, they make quite clear that they are committed to providing politically neutral, unbiased, independent and objective source of information to their readers, in order to accurately address “some of the most crucial, contested topics of our time.” The key to the genius of this tool is that it makes creating responsible consumer habits easy. If someone is planning to go shopping for new gym shoes, for example, and wants to make a socially responsible purchase, they can do research that would have formally taken an inordinate amount of time in under ten minutes. All they have to do is simply log on to the site, and enter the names of gym shoe companies (like Nike, Reebok, New Balance, Adidas, and so on) into the search bar, which will bring up the individual profile for each company. The user can then read through the article, check the companies’ ratings, and quickly and easily compare their various environmental and labor practices side by side. It must be understood that the database is still a work in progress, and does not yet have complete profiles for every corporation out there. However, it is the most complete catalog of its kind created by
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the people, for the people. And while there are plenty of websites that share helpful hints and suggestions on how people can consume more consciously, it is this comprehensive, politically neutral, user friendly database that truly makes Knowmore.org unique, and sets them apart from the rest. In addition to maintaining the corporate database, KnowMore also lives up to their claim of being “dedicated to chronicling and resisting corporate attacks on democracy, workers’ and human rights, fair trade, business ethics and the environment,” by researching companies suspected of blatant deceit, hypocrisy, or foul play, and publishing articles on what they’ve found. One such article that received national attention was Dolan’s expose about the retail clothing company,
American Apparel. Dolan revealed that while the company claims to be labor rights friendly and sweatshop free, their treatment of their workforce particularly by their CEO was oftentimes despicable. Site Overhaul Knowmore.org has been continuously bolstering its database and expanding its leadership over the past three years, and this growth coupled with the interest of a generous web designer has inspired the founders to launch a brand new version of the site in November of this year. In addition to a complete visual and stylistic overhaul of the site, the new and improved Knowmore.org ambitiously plans to include individual profiles for every single current Fortune 500 company. The updated site will also feature a
page called Behind the Logos, which will showcase a number of highly recognizable corporate logos that readers can click on to learn more about the oh-so easily recognizable corporation. The new site will also feature a daily news section, and an extensive page on how to get involved in the issue of responsible consumerism. There will also be a new page called Uncommercial, where viewers can choose from a variety of poignant informational video clips, lectures and documentaries that provide unique perspectives and entertaining insight into the issues of informed consumerism. Videos include a segment about Naomi Klien’s notorious brand busting book, No Logo, full length versions of the Supersize Me and McLibel documentaries, and the entire Bill Moyers PBS special called “Buying the War.”
Outsourcing Surrogacy by Kumud Kataria
In the year 2003, when a grandmother gave birth to her own twin grandchildren, the story made headlines all across the world. This situation was a result of in vitro fertilization which was the procedure utilized when the grandmother decided to “lend her womb” to her daughter, who was unable to carry out the pregnancy through natural means. In vitro fertilization is the union of a sperm and an egg in a lab, which results in a fertilized egg ready to be implanted into the womb of another woman, the surrogate. This event took place in the Akanksha Infertility Clinic in the city of Anand, located in India’s western state of Gujarat. This was the work of Dr. Nayna Patel. Ever since this incident was reported, the Akanksha Infertility Clinic, headed by Dr. Patel, experienced great business, and was inundated with requests. To fulfill these requests, a number of surrogates were available from
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multiple nearby villages. Over the past three years, more than fifty babies have been born in the clinic. Interestingly, many were born into Western families and Indians living overseas. The cost of this process to take place in India is approximately $12,000, which incorporates all expenses, including medical implantation along with the surrogate fee. Although this amount of money seems expensive at first glance, it is relatively inexpensive when compared to the same procedure that costs up to $70,000 in the U.S. Taking into account the vast difference in cost, it is inevitable that critical eyes would immediately assume the reason as to why women look to India as an alternative solution is their unwillingness to pay the high western fees. In a sense, these many women are accused of taking advantage of poor and illiterate foreign surrogates. Closer analysis, however, dictates the convenience of the procedure being carried out in
India due to the absence of unstable surrogacy rules and regulations, to which women must strictly adhere in the United States. In addition, it is a timely process in the U.S. and for many individuals, time is a crucial factor. At the age of 40, Jessica Ordenes from New Jersey decided to pick India as her final option for surrogacy, after waiting for seven years under the U.S. system. She says, “I was running out of eggs, running out of hope, running out of patience with being treated like a number in the U.S. system. I read about the clinic online – I felt India was my last chance.” Another woman, Karen, from Los Angeles, who was diagnosed with a uterine tumor in her teen years, chose India after many attempts to find a suitable surrogate in the United States. Being a Buddhist, she felt that she and a surrogate from India could share common ground, in terms of beliefs in the concepts of karma and fate. Speak-
ing from experience, her opinion was that although there were a number of suitable surrogates in the U.S., they just didn’t click with her quite like they did in India. Of course surrogacy in India has created quite a concern, considering that almost everything these days, from customer service to tech support, is already being outsourced. Now that pregnancy is also being outsourced, many Americans are expressing concern about this. The belief that this issue will only further promote the continuation of outsourcing through different mediums is what has caused this matter to be contentious. Much like the leap that US IT companies have taken abroad, the issue of outsourcing surrogacy is causing many to jump to the conclusion that the reduced price of the procedure is the sole reason women are going to India. However, that is evidently not the case. Defending her decision to choose an Indian surrogate, Karen justifies, “Some people make it out like we went grocery shopping and came back with a baby. But being in India was tough – the heat, the mosquitoes, worrying about [the surrogate] and the baby’s health. You have to want a baby real bad to deal with this kind of arrangement.” With these facts in place, it makes sense that foreigners see India as a better option for surrogacy. As a result of surrogates already having given birth several times before becoming a surrogate, these surrogates enter the process with a great amount of experience and confidence. Additionally with the risk of human emotions entering the picture, an Indian surrogate says it would be hard to think of the baby as her own since it won’t have the same skin color as her. The surrogate goes
on further to explain that even if she does feel sad after the birth, she will not show her emotions because she is
familiar with the situations these mothers are going through. Since infertility is traditionally looked down upon in India and other countries, the surrogates, many being mothers themselves, understand the importance of having a child. Thus there is a strong willingness among Indian women to carry and give birth to birth an American child. This seems to be a well-balanced situation, benefiting not only the foreigners, but the Indian surrogates as well. Even though $12,000 may not be enough for surrogates in America, it holds a completely different value in India. Excluding medical expenses and other costs, the surrogates take home between $5,000 and $7,000. This, interestingly is equivalent to amount their rural jobs would generate in ten years. This income means a
Photography by http://flickr.com/photos/dey/3983604/
great deal to the families of surrogates and often their survival depends on it. It gives many families hope for a better future and better opportunities, which were unavailable before because of the lack of money. One surrogate, for instance, decided to put her income towards buying a brick house and leaving their old mud house, investing in her husband’s small business. Indian surrogates also use this money towards providing their children with educations, which is often the only way out of the vicious cycle of poverty. One surrogate says, “My daughter wants to be a teacher. I’ll do anything to give her that opportunity.” Many of these Indian women go through great lengths to become surrogates. They leave their villages for the period of the pregnancy, since this concept is not yet completely understood in many villagers and is often frowned upon. In addition, these surrogates putting their bodies through nine months of pregnancy, time after time can be very damaging and might raise concerns in regards to their health and wellbeing. With technology and medicine advancing each year, processes such as in vitro fertilization are becoming widespread. As the number of couples unable to conceive increases, procedures such as this are becoming a major point of attraction, shadowing adoption, and other viable solutions for childbirth. The reasons for surrogacy becoming a popular alternative is the generally increasing inability of women to carry a child of their own, due to old age, uterine tumors, and a wide range of other reasons. Regardless of what the reason may be, critics are not holding back and are relating the process of surrogacy in India to outsourcing of jobs. Regardless, the occurrence of western families pursuing surrogacy in India continues to grow.
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The Privatization Of Water by Emily Finchum To many Americans, picking up a bottle of water is simply part of a daily routine. In conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), corporations have begun to label bottled water as a, “Smart Choice” and because of this publicity, the bottled water market has grown by leaps and bounds in the past ten years. With the new designer bottles that have hit the market, from brand names such as Figi to SmartWater, drinking bottled water has become somewhat of a fashion statement in America today. Meanwhile, Americans are sitting on what could, arguably, be called the best water filtration and purification systems in the world. So why do we insist on paying $1.29 per bottle for what is otherwise free from the tap? The recent controversy regarding the actual level of purification of bottled water has, in turn, sparked questions about the quality of water treatment centers in America. After Aquafina, a subsidiary of PepsiCo©, admitted that their product was nothing more than tap water, anxiety over the cleanliness of American tap water has begun to circulate. In the years since the advent of bottled water as an in-demand product, corporations have repeatedly warned against the dangers of tap water, which oftentimes include heavy metals, chlorination, and bacteria. Statistical data shows that 35% of Americans prefer buying bottled water because they believe that tap water is dangerous. There are, however, are growing environmental considerations in the production of bottled water. In quantitative terms, the production of the bottles along with their transport to various retail locations necessitates the consumption of 47 million gallons of oil per year. Despite extensive federal regulations concerning tap water filtration standards, the American public still feels compelled to purchase bottled
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tap water at a premium cost. According to the International Bottled Water Association, the bottled water industry draws over $10 billion annually. Given the fact that standards of tap water filtration and distribution are no less regulated than the production of bottled water, many find it logical to assert that the U.S. bottled water market is no more than a corporate ploy that feeds off of the insecurities of the American public. In contrast, there are several global examples of the real dangers posed by faulty, or in some cases nonexistent, water filtration methods. Simply put, contaminated water is the cause of at least 80% of salient health problems throughout the world. Most of the world’s developing continental areas, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, face daily dangers in their water supply. Some of these issues surround the issues of abysmal sanitation and the lack of organized methods to access groundwater for irrigation practices. Furthermore, in some of these areas, there is no separation between the drinking water supply and the waste depository. Water-bourne diseases plague mostly the impoverished populations of these areas due to a lack of access to hygienic sanitation as well. In these regions – under these conditions – the fear is not centered on trace amounts of calcium or mercury, but instead involves life-threatening bacteria and parasites. From this contrast alone, it has become increasingly obvious that the perceived dangers in the American water purification systems are relatively unfounded. Advertising campaigns on the part of bottled water corporations are constantly asserting the differential purity of their products; however, the federal sanitation mandates are such that the public water systems use the same state-of-the art filtration systems that the corporations employ. Why,
then, should the public continue to engage in such wasteful behavior under the pretense that bottled water is more healthy than tap water? The bottom line is that tap water and bottled water are synonymous – there is no evidence that there are differences in chemical composition or purity between them. The United States supercedes much of the world in terms of sanitation practices, yet these benefits are eschewed as the bottled water corporations attempt to monopolize what should be a basic human resource. Whilst many Americans continue to subscribe to the rampant marketing campaigns of the bottled water industry and turn up their noses to the government- subsidized sanitation programs, it is often forgotten that water is not at all an abundant resource in most of today’s world. To many people, clean water is a human right that is unfortunately denied. This situation ultimately comes down to the corporate take over of yet another natural resource, one that is particularly integral to human survival. With water being one of the primary components of not only the earth, but the human body as well, it is unfair to assert that any one entity should be able to controlthe supply and distribution of this fundamental resource. By continuing to support bottled water, Americans are, in effect, taking clean water away from those who desperately need it and are regrettably contributing to the further denigration of the earth’s environment. By making use of the water systems that have been constructed in America and giving up the daily dose of Aquafina, Americans can help to modulate negativeenvironmental repercussions while still getting the necessary eight glasses of water a day. And in the process, the focus on increasing the quality of water supplies in underserved countries can be restored.
Change and Continuity by Sujay Shah Change and continuity. These are two aspects of life that are especially conspicuous in Rosia Montana, a small mining community tucked away in the mountains of Romania. Regarded as the oldest settlement in Romania, Rosia Montana is the site of one of the most intriguing and fiery debates in Europe. Since its founding almost 2000 years ago, the villagers of Rosia Montana have been mining its mineral wealth. From the time of the Romans, who first plundered the mountains for gold to the Communist period, mining has been the sole economic activity in the region. During the Communist era, Romanian mines employed many people, but after the revolution in 1989, this state-subsidized industry collapsed, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty among the mining villages. As a result, about 2,800 people were fired from the copper and gold mines in Rosia Montan. Today, the unemployment rate in the region is nearly 70%. As one of the European Unionâ€™s newest members, Romania is attempting to imitate its neighbors by trying to develop a strong economy with established industries that will allow its citizens to have a solid source of income. However, with such down-
trodden areas as Rosia Montana, it is a seemingly impossible task. In what seemed to be a gift from heaven, Gabriel Resources, a Canadian based corporation, entered the scene in 1997, planning to construct the largest gold mine in Europe. Their subsidiary, Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, was granted a 20 year exploration license on the land, with the condition that they would first have to purchase hundreds of houses and displace essentially the entire village. At that time, gold was selling for about $330 an ounce. Today, the price has more than doubled, surpassing $700 an ounce, ensuring enormous profits for the company and stable jobs for many citizens of Rosia Montana.The problem, however, arises amidst the fact that nearly the entire village would have to be displaced. Gold Corporation began buying out homes in 2002. At present, two thirds of all the homes in Rosia Montana have been purchased by Gold Corporation. While two thirds is a majority, many people in the area are still not willing to let go of their lifestyle. These residents oppose the new mining idea due to the fact that it would undermine the importance of the area and in the long run, ruin the environment.
Photography by http://flickr.com/photos/standa/
Rosia Montana is considered one of the oldest cities in Romania and consequently, has its own important history. In order to mine much of the gold needed by Gold Corporation, numerous landmarks would be destroyed, thus placing this history on the back burner. The new mining also is presenting problems in regards to the environment. The cyanide used by mining companies such as Gabriel Resources is highly toxic. Also, in order to mine 300 tons of ore, approximately four mountains must be destroyed in Rosia Montana, resulting in valleys being flooded with the effluent of the cyanide treatment. Essentially, Rosia Montana is feared to become another Baia Mare. In January 2000 the biggest environmental disaster in Europe since Chernobyl occurred in the Romanian city of Baia Mare. Heavy rains flooded a pond of mining waste, destroying the containing dam and displacing more than 20 million gallons of cyanidelaced sludge into the River Tisza. Over 300 tons of dead and dying fish were hauled out in order to hasten the removal of cyanide from the ecosystem. It was the regionâ€™s largest economic and environmental disaster in living memory. And while much was promised to amend the situation, nothing of the sort was accomplished. In fact, people of the area still painfully recollect the damage caused by the accident. Rosia Montana: continuity or change. What should become of this historic area? Should economic growth shadow environmental safety and the identity of the village? Should the oldest settlement of Romania be destroyed to ensure the jobs of thousands of people? Only time will tellâ€Ś
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Keeping It In The Family: Nepotism In Global Politics by Sameera Guttikonda We grew up on the notion that this nation we belong to is a level playing field. Our forefathers deliberately split from England, a direct defiance against an age-old monarchy. Instead, we like to believe that in America, anyone from anywhere can become anything. We’ve all heard stories of people going from working in a diner to running a multinational company, or of welfare receivers later becoming famous novelists. But among our most favorite success story is that of the small town boy suffering through misfortune becoming a political representative of the state, or even of the country. Bill Clinton was raised in a small town in Arkansas. Barack Obama was raised mostly by his grandparents. But both men ended up in hugely successful political positions. However, this individual hard work seems to be regressing back to the British tradition lately. More and more politicians are passing on their governmental prowess to relatives or spouses. Take, for example, the aforementioned Bill Clinton. Pundits have speculated that Hilary Clinton might not have been a viable competitor in the presidential race, or even won her seat in the senate without the influence of her husband, President Clinton. It was widely criticized when, five days after swearing into office in 1992, Clinton appointed his wife to head the insurance reform campaign, bypassing other candidates. It is obvious that, despite whatever nuclear differences might have occurred, Bill supports Hilary, both by providing his public endorsement and private support. A more obvious case of presidential nepotism is the case of senior and junior Bush. Close to 30% of Americans believe that George W. Bush invaded Iraq not because of a threat of weapons of mass destruction, but to finish a war his father, George H.W. Bush, started. This has grown
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to become one of the most hot button topics in America today. India, a nation relatively new to democracy, has a similarly strong history of nepotism. The first prime minister of India was Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1947. His daughter, Indira Gandhi, became prime minister in 1966 and stayed in this position for three successive terms. She became one of India’s most beloved, as well as notoriously corrupt elected officials to date. Following her assassination, her son Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister in 1984. The latest rung in the Nehru ladder is Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi’s wife. As a citizen of Italy, she ran for prime minister in 2004, but lost due to opposition concerning her lack of Indian citizenship. Regardless, she remains the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party. Obviously, in the short time that India has been a free republic, it has, by the votes, chosen to remain loyal to a single family. But has the political insight and intelligence been passed down, or is each resulting official just a trickle of the generation past? Indians may have a variety of opinions, but only one shows in their voting record. Nepotism has also been discovered to be prominent in the United Nations, among the most respected and hailed organizations worldwide. The former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, is best known for his work in attempting to achieve a level of peace among nations. However, his son Kojo was found to have used his father’s status to order a luxury vehicle to his home in Ghana, as well as to land a position working for a company, which was later found to be connected to the Oil-for-Food scandal. Although Annan did not approve of this situation,
current secretary general Ban Ki-Moon knew exactly what he was doing when he recently appointed his son-in-law Siddarth Chatterjee to be his chief of staff. Paul Wolfowitz, the head of the World Bank, was caught attempting to finagle a raise for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, also an employee of the World Bank. Even in the most soughtafter and respected positions, nepotism appears to exist in full force. While the technical definition of nepotism is just the act of trying to provide for one’s own, one may wonder whether this causes any substantial harm. The previously mentioned offenders may argue that this is not so, but in the case of global politics, it seems that “having one’s back” could mean playing with the lives and trust of millions of people who depend on their elected officials. Maybe we ought to stick with the principles this country began with, and leave the father-son business to the barbershops.
Photography by http://flickr.com/photos/shailphoto/2047918634/
Bali’s Struggle: Balancing Culture, Sociopolitical Responsiveness, and an Economy by Adam Kuranishi
“Om Swastiastu,” (om-suastia-stoo) “greetings” in Balinese, I carefully attempt to articulate this blessing as Wayan introduces me to many of his friends and locals. Scootering through crowded flee-markets, narrow, poorly paved roads and into villages, I sit on the back of his motorbike, soaking in the smells and beautiful, unfamiliar sights. He would take me to a Balinese “casino,” loud and energetic, testosterone raging, as men wearing their traditional, religious garb shout at their favorite during an intense cockfight. Lasts a mere five minutes, a rooster in defeat, falls to the ground. Conscious, it realizes its body can no longer continue the fight; he accepts his demise. Little do both cocks know, despite who wins, both their feathers plucked, they will be skinned, decapitated, cut into small pieces, skewered, thrown on a grill, and sold for 10,000 rupiah ($1.20); quicker than the length of the battle. Cockfights are a legitimized activity; it has important cultural and historical relevance. Wayan, my trustworthy guide and friend, is a traditional stone carver by day, and reggae singer by night. Dark skinned, dreadlocked, Bali native “rastaman,” he intends to show me the real Bali. I visit ancient Hindu temples, traditional Indonesian restaurants, local family compounds, rice fields, mountains, and Balinese artists; Wayan only introduces me to authentic Balinese experiences. He expresses great pride in his culture and religion, and keeps me from Western techno clubs and major tourist attractions. Wayan is a perfect representation of the Balinese philosophy, stressing the importance of the Hindu religion and traditional cultural values. Ninety-seven percent Hindu, Bali is a phenomenon, sustaining its prevalent
Photography by Adam Kuranishi
culture amidst the western, tourist generated economy. According to Travel + Leisure Magazine, Bali is “the world’s #1 tourist island.” As a destination for honeymooners and family vacations with over three million international visitors annually, it boasts a $5-billionper year tourist industry. The touristgenerated economy attracts its customers to the beautiful beaches, gorgeous weather, rain forests, and outstanding, preserved culture. Highlighted in the tourist guides, the Balinese, enchanting, non-western culture is a major attraction. Backpacking alone, I attempted to build relationships and connect with people, in order to investigate beyond the idealized, tour guide perspective. Asking questions, participating in religious rituals, mimicking the Balinese lifestyle, and experiencing hands-on, I would soon witness the complexities that result from maintaining a traditional culture. Entering into
a typical family compound, Wayan introduces me to a few of his band members. I’m offered tea and asked to join as they watch a DVD of a taped concert of UB40, an English reggae/ pop band popular in the 1980s. They are quick to engage in a conversation, curious to discover the reason for my visit and my plans for the rest of my stay. Equal to their inquiries, I am also eager to discover their interests. As a political science major, inevitably I ask about their social and political issues. My research for this summer destination has focused on Indonesian history and it’s political institutions. After four hundred years under Dutch and later Japanese colonization, Indonesia, specifically the island of Bali, resisted hegemonic rule, preserving its own unique culture, establishing its own language, and maintaining its customs. With the downfall of the Japanese military dictatorship, as a result of World War II, Indone-
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sia would gain its independence, as a sovereign state, governed by authoritarian rule. After the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and other internal circumstance, the regime would fall, calling for democratization. Indonesia is in a new age of politics, given praise from other western democracies for espoused ideals and cooperation with the U.S’s “war on terror.” I was eager to ask the opinion of locals on their country’s recent transition to democracy and what they thought of the old regime. Ketut, adjusting the strings of his guitar, explained, “We all preferred the Suharto regime over this new government. The new democracy promised many projects and programs, but it doesn’t seem as if any work is getting accomplished.” He continued, “The Balinese are very apathetic to politics. We may not agree with the actions of George Bush, our government, and others, but we understand god created Bush, Osama Bin Laden, the bad people and good. We practice our religion, engage in our rituals, work, maintain the rice fields, play in our band, and accept that we have little influence on government.” It seemed the Balinese were very apathetic to Indonesian politics, however despite such a lack of concern, the issue of terrorism worried them. The deadliest act of terrorism in Indonesia’s history occurred on October 12, 2002 in a major tourist district of Bali. The combination of a suicide bomber and large car bomb outside a popular nightclub, killed 202 people (164 western tourists) and injured 209. Jemaah Islamiyah, a violent, southeast Asian Islamic group, was identified as the culprit. This attack caused much distress for the Balinese natives, who argue that the recent transition to democracy has led to a rise in Islamic fundamentalism in neighboring islands. Indonesia has always been a predominately Muslim country, hailing at 88% of its populations and the largest citizenry of Muslims in the world. Before democratization, Indonesian Islamic practices were considered moderate, with little to no issues of terrorism. The island of Bali remains a unique enclave of a predominantly peaceful Hindu culture. These terrorist
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attacks, the U.S. government’s War on Terror, the post 9/11 era, and the Indonesian government’s flexible national immigration policies between islands, have frightened the Balinese who are anxious about the likelihood of more incidents. After the 2002 attacks, the Balinese responded with prayer and non-violent actions. “We are peaceful people, we have trust in god, and we didn’t want the terrorists to think they disrupted our way of life,” explained Ketut. With Hindus being a minority in Indonesia, Bali, with its predominantly Hindu population, faces conflicts regarding maintaining this aspect of cultural identity amidst its increased dependency on a rapidly growing tourist-generated economy. Furthermore, this conflict creates a lack of concern and energy among the people in regards to Indonesia’s many complex social and political issues. Political apathy and detachment from governmental issues has plagued the Balinese. Issues of political corruption and human rights violations are often uncontested. Troubling the community, a neglected public educational system has resulted in a largely illiterate population. This situation perpetuates the political apathy. Political Science studies have shown that generally more educated individuals understand the
importance of governance, and are thus more likely to engage in political discussion and activism. From my experience in Bali, it is apparent that the struggle to maintain its culture and inherent religious views has deflected attention from social issues, such as the importance of education for all and public health. Domestically and internationally there is an unequal opportunity for education. The efficiency of the schools in Indonesia is dependent on how affluent the families of the areas are. Poorer youth are more likely to receive a less adequate education, as opposed to a wealthier student. Considering that the average Indonesian make about $50-$100 a month, depending on the sector of employment, it is almost impossible to pay such tuition. As the student’s education continues to higher levels of schooling, annual fees increase dramatically. At the most basic elementary level, tuition ranges from $150 to $200, while at the University level, tuition can run from $6,000 to $6,500 per year. For many Balinese youth, it is also frowned upon to leave their village for adequate schooling. As a result, the children are forced to attend the local, inadequate schools, this too, depending on if they can afford it. This has resulted in uneducated youth, thus perpetuating the ‘revolving door’
Photography by Adam Kuranishi
of permanently illiterate generations. There are many fiscal issues that prevent families from affording school fees. After democratization, in 2000, Credit was introduced resulting in substantial debt for many families. They are often forced to sell their land, usually to Westerners and tourist industries. This has led to an uneven distribution of wealth, with a large poor class. With 17% of its population under the poverty-line, 38 million Indonesians live under substandard conditions. The situation has worsened over the years. The rise in food prices, two years of drought with intense brush fires, recent tsunamis and earthquakes, and fluctuation in fuel costs have a combined impact on the overall rise of an impoverished community. Considering 85% of the labor force in Bali is employed by the service sector and 40% of the whole country’s employment is dependent on service jobs, Indonesia relies on the tourist industry for fiscal growth. If tourism declines because of travel warnings or terrorist attacks, it will profoundly harm the economy. Service employment can lack consistency, also offering low wages and no health benefits. Often these corporations take advantage of the cheap labor without taking into consideration the insufficient wage and the substandard of living that it perpetuates. Economic issues have left many Indonesians without healthcare. With governmental budget cuts, costs of healthcare have increased 40% over the last two years. Considering most medical products, pharmaceuticals, and mechanisms are imported; the costs for the products are extremely high, thus unaffordable for the average Indonesian, especially the population under the poverty level. Basic medical services in public housing, such as X-Rays and routine procedures cost $50 to $100. As hospital budgets face major cuts with a plummeting economy, hospitals find it difficult to provide basic care. Lack of health care gives rise to malaria, avian flu, typhoid, malnutrition, and the infant mortality rate. As I ride on the Wayan’s motorbike, I am conscious of the limited, inadequate care I would receive in the result of an accident. As the population was introduced to
credit, Indonesians began to use it to afford motorbikes. With more motorbikes cruising the roads, the likelihood of accidents, however the current medical system cannot accommodate for these collisions. To experience a different reality in Indonesia, I put things into perspective both socially and politically. Traditional culture that is advertised in the travel magazines, is extremely complex when experienced hands on. It also opened my mind to the issues that arise from political apathy. Public health issues, the educational system’s inefficiencies, and fiscal problems are steadily plaguing the archipelagic state. A responsive, efficient government is necessary to maintain human rights and facilitate adequate public health standards. Preservation of culture and traditions, however, are equally important for the communal structures, individualism, and diversity. In eras of imperialism,
“By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more.” It is the citizenry that must have the conscious mind and make sure necessary human liberties are being addressed. Especially during an era of new democratization, Indonesians have the opportunity to address their governmental and social issues. Non-for-profit organizations have made progress in finding solutions to the problems of Indonesia. Uplift International serves to improve the well being of the world’s most vulnerable populations by promoting the universal human right to health through education and advocacy, advancing equity in global health, specifically in Indonesia. FreeCHE is a locally organized, Sumatran, youth group concerned about local education issues. The organization’s vision is to make adequate, free access education for every child. They have created alternative schools for youth in the poorest villages of Padang.
colonialism, and globalization, often cultures are suppressed by western ideologies. Fortunately for the Balinese, they have preserved their unique traditions despite tourism and western, corporate influences. The balance of traditionalism with political activism and social awareness is necessary for a healthy, satisfied society while ensuring responsible government. In the words of the famous French philosopher, Albert Camus,
These are two organizations that have the conscious-mind and work ethic to make the government accountable for efficient policies. Despite difficulties with political apathy, while balancing traditionalism and the complexities of a modern world, these two organizations offer hope for Indonesia.
Photo by http://picasaweb.google.com/donatheguitarman/FreeCHEInstituteProgram
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Learning From The Past: The Collapse of the 2000 Camp David Accord by Priscilla Kunamalla
In light of the tumultuous relationship between Israelis and Palestinians and their history with failed negotiations and stagnant peace processes, one must wonder if the rare window of opportunity for peace in the Middle East has been permanently shut. The overall failure of the 2000 Camp David Accords was attributed to the unfavorable timing of the peace talks and to the unequal balance of power, which harbored impenetrable distrust between the Palestinians and Israelis. The logistics of the Camp David proposals themselves were flawed in both their content and in their failure to successfully negotiate the terms of an agreement concerning three key issues that are inexplicably linked to achieving stability in the region: the conflict over occupied settlements, the right of return of refugees, and disputes over holy sites in Jerusalem. The Camp David Summit began on July 11, 2000 when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat accepted US President Clinton’s invitation to begin negotiations at Camp David. The overall objective of the summit was to bring final status issues to the forefront of the debate and to reach substantive agreements by the summit’s September 2000 deadline. The final status issues were: Jerusalem, refugees, and territorial borders. The summit’s inability to effectively disentangle the Israeli - Palestinian conflict surrounding the final status issues is what many
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believe led to its ultimate failure. On July 25, 2000, the summit drew to a close without having produced any final agreements between the Palestinian and Israeli delegations. In its place however, was a “Trilateral Statement,” signed by Arafat, Barak, and Clinton, which outlined, in extremely general terms, the underlying principles behind the negotiations as well as the progress that had been made during the peace talks. A segment from the “Trilateral Statement” reads, “While [President Clinton, Chairman Arafat, and Prime Minister Barak] were not able to bridge the gaps and reach an agreement, their negotiations were unprecedented in both scope and detail.” Although such optimism is key in approaching conflicts as complex as the one between Israelis and Palestinians, the summit’s failure to seize the historic moment set before it and its inability to push for definitive solutions has left many unsure of what it will take to bring about lasting peace. Upon the conclusion of the unsuccessful Camp David Summit, Barak and Arafat attempted further negotiations in Washington as well as in Taba, Egypt. However, both efforts failed to move beyond the initial phases of the peace talks and into the core issues whose resolution is the only way in which to actualize peace. Jerusalem is a highly controversial final status issue that remains to be effectively dealt with. Because of their contending principles and political interests, the Israeli stance on
Jerusalem completely diverges from the Palestinian position and is what many believe was the primary weakness in the Camp David Accords. Barak came to Camp David maintaining that there would be no relinquishment of parts of Jerusalem that were placed under Israeli control after the 1967 War. While he did make proposals offering bilateral sovereignty over other holy sites in Jerusalem as the summit progressed, Arafat and the Palestinian delegation refused to accept any level of Israeli control over their treasured religious monuments. The Haram al-Sharif is the third holiest Islamic site and holds great spiritual and cultural significance to the Palestinians; therefore conceding on issues of territory was unthinkable to Arafat. Throughout the negotiations Arafat rejected anything short of full Israeli withdrawal from Jerusalem and insisted on total Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem. Even when Barak proposed a vertical division of sovereignty over the Haram al-Sharif sites, Arafat maintained his position stating, “The Arab leader who would surrender Jerusalem is not yet born.” Such a proposal would designate the surface areas of Haram al-Sharif as Palestinian territory and the land beneath it, which Israelis considered to be the Temple Mount, would be under Israeli control. The battle over Haram al-Sharif was and continues to be a huge stumbling block for those searching for peace in the region and most specifically at the negotiating table during the Camp
David Summit. With both the Palestinians and Israelis determined to establish Jerusalem as their state capitals, there was no room for effective compromise at Camp David. Robert Malley and Hussein Agha, coauthors of “The Palestinian-Israeli Camp David Negotiations and Beyond,” published in the Journal of Palestine Studies, state, “In the public analysis, the summit meeting fell apart in bitter disagreement over how to share or divide Jerusalem.” True, Barak had offered more concessions than any other Israeli leader had in the past, but the fundamental goal of the Israelis was still to strengthen their state through Jerusalem and they were essentially unwilling to recognize full Palestinian sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem. The goal of sovereignty over their lands, however is at the heart of the Palestinian predicament, therefore common ground was extremely difficult to find amidst the diverging perspectives. Resolving one party’s grievance would, in effect, mean the obliteration of the other party’s goals and would ultimately end without comprehensive agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis. The intense debate over the issue of Palestinians refugees was another obstacle in the negotiations between Barak and Arafat. In the Palestinian view, Israel’s goals resulted in devastating ramifications for thousands of Palestinians who have been displaced, detained without reason, and have been denied the claims to their ancestral lands. Palestinians have been vehemently fighting for the observance of UN Resolution 194, which addresses the right of return for persons who were made refugees by occupation. At Camp David, Arafat insisted on the right of return for Palestinians refugees as well as on compensation for the losses that occurred when Palestinians were forced to leave under Israel occupation. Upon entering the peace talks at Camp David, Barak maintained the opposing Israeli stance by refusing to recognize the Palestinian right of return because doing so could result in the dismantlement of the state of Israel itself. In
return for compensation for Palestinian refugees, the Israeli delegation insisted on an “end of conflict” statement from the Palestinians that would release Israel from the culpability associated with issue of refugees since the establishment of the state of Israel. Had the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators been able to find common ground on this topic, there may have been hope that other aspects of the Camp David Summit would be dealt with effectively as well. However,
to make it clear that there would be no withdrawal of Israeli troops or settlers to the 1967 borders. However, fairly early into the negotiations, he unexpectedly offered, in terms of land, what no other Israeli leader had offered before. But Barak’s sudden flexibility, was matched by Arafat’s characteristic insistence on full Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories as well as the reestablishment of the Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Without
as mentioned before, the divisive issue concerning Palestinian refugees did not progress at Camp David, and as both delegations firmly upheld their positions, there was no substantial development made. By adamantly clinging to their specific national ideologies, both sides collectively thwarted all hopes for lasting resolutions and dissolved vital opportunities during the negotiations and peace talks. Resolving the broad and often ambiguous issue concerning sovereignty of territories and borders that must apportioned in the region is certainly the cornerstone of the success in any negotiation process between Israelis and Palestinians. Prior to the commencement of the summit, Barak had seemed
presenting counterproposals or making concessions of his own, many believed that Arafat thought coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis was not a suitable solution to the conflict. In the Palestinian perspective, Israel was not so much making courageous concessions by offering the Palestinians land; they were instead giving back land that the Palestinians firmly believed belonged to them to begin with. To Arafat, the sacrifices made by the Palestinian people in terms of the forceful implementation of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land were concessions enough; the Palestinians had nothing more to offer. Israelis naturally, have every intention to further strengthen their state. In order for any negotiations to
Photography by http://flickr.com/photos/joshhough/314002724/
OneWorld UIC, Fall 2007 29
succeed, there must be an equal balance of power between the disputing parties. The collapse of the Camp David Accords could in part be attributed to the unequal balance of power that existed between the Israelis and Palestinians, which led to a detrimental feeling of distrust between them. The seemingly inherent distrust between the Palestinians and Israelis played out drastically between Arafat and Barak in 2000 and
have evened out the unequal balance of power by organizing the Palestinians, emphasizing unity among them, and by placing constructive pressure on Israel instead of consistently rejecting all of the proposals they put forth. Because of the Palestinian inability to initiate plans and counterproposals, they denied the US the leverage they needed to push Israel to move towards an agreement. The Palestinians had a real opportunity to
factored into the overall failure of the peace talks themselves. The Palestinians entered the summit with a feeling of skepticism towards Israel because of Barakâ€™s refusal to comply with the interim agreements that had been agreed upon prior to the Camp David. Barak had retracted his concessions on numerous occasions and the Palestinians viewed that as evidence that Israeli could not be counted on to abide by future agreements, including those made at Camp David. The fact that the US had seemed to do very little to ensure that Israel was fulfilling their obligations as outlined in previous treaties and agreements, heightened Arafatâ€™s suspicion of the summit itself. Arafat was persuaded that the US and Israel were manipulating the peace talks and essentially setting a trap for the Palestinians. On the other hand, many experts claim that Arafat could
change the course of the conflict in the Middle East by organizing themselves and applying the necessary pressure on the US and Israel in order to ensure that there was an equal balance of power during the negotiations. When seeking solutions to complex issues such as those plaguing the Middle East, appropriate timing of negotiations is essential to the success of peace talks. Upon being summoned to Camp David by President Clinton, Ehud Barak displayed a surprising eagerness to convene as soon as possible. Barak had confidence going into the summit knowing that he was strongly supported by the US. Arafat, on the other hand, was more reluctant and proposed preparatory talks so that goals could be outlined and logistical measures could be taken to ensure that Camp David would not fail. Arafat had
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also made requests for a third Israeli withdrawal to be implemented before the Camp David Summit, but these requests were essentially denied by the US. Nonetheless, Arafat accepted US requests to assemble at Camp David despite his firm belief that the peace talks were prematurely timed. While the urgency with which Barak approached the negotiations can be vital in building agreements with the Palestinians, a preparatory session was equally as important in setting the foundation for the peace talks. The Camp David Summit would have been more effective had they been scheduled after both the Palestinians and Israelis had time to better prepare for negotiations. When dealing with highly sensitive issues, which directly effect thousands of Israeli and Palestinians lives, it is imperative that appropriate timing of key events such as negotiations, be adequately considered. Only then can one avoid preventable obstacles and, more importantly, the dissolving of hope that is likely to ensue after the failure of the peace talks. When Camp David was first envisioned, it was considered the stepping stone upon which peace between the Israelis and Palestinians could finally be attained. As it soon became apparent that the negotiations at Camp David had failed, many questioned whether peace in the region could ever be a possibility. In such situations it is crucial to fully comprehend the flaws in past attempts at peace so that one day it will not seem so unfathomable to envision a serene and stable Middle East. Through the valuable lessons learned from previous endeavors for peace perhaps one day future generations of Israelis and Palestinians will not be doomed to inherit intolerance and hatred towards their neighbors, but will have proved the skeptics wrong by choosing to exist peacefully as one.
Photography by http://flickr.com/photos/itfcfan/68722642/
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Published on Dec 9, 2010
A magazine from the L1W chapter at the University of Illinois- Chicago. This magazine explores local and global justice issues with a persp...