the monarch is in australia just now. we hear not a peep from her. not a single word about police brutality, about the right for people to protest and to be treated with dignity. but of course, she doesn't meddle in internal politics. she has nothing to say about the abuse of human rights in any country of the commonwealth, because the welfare of people in her realm are of no concern to her. or at least, not enough of a concern for her to speak publicly about it. to have a position such as hers, with the level of free publicity she gets for her every move, and to keep silent seems unconscionable to me.
that same lack of courage filters down to the institutions of the commonwealth. the leaked report on human rights abuses highlights just that:
“There has been growing criticism that the Commonwealth does not take a stand, at least in public, on violations of its values by member states, other than in the case of the unconstitutional removal of governments,” says the in-depth analysis commissioned by Commonwealth leaders two years ago ...
In a scathing chapter titled “Silence is Not an Option”, the report criticizes behind-the-scenes diplomacy between the Commonwealth Secretary-General and member states, even during the overthrows of legitimately elected governments.
“Often the Secretary-General’s ‘good offices’ role is deployed without any public statement of concern because of the risk of compromising this behind-the-scenes activity. This had led to a void in communication . . . the absence of such information has led to skepticism about the Commonwealth’s commitment to its own values.”
while the occupy protests in australia regroup, i hope that they are able to find a way forward with the protest. so much for freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to congregate in public spaces. if you haven't seen it yet, this video clip of naomi wolf talking about her arrest covers the issues really well, particularly in light of the american first amendment:
yes, i know there was a rugby match on last night. i even tried to watch it, just as i tried to watch the semi-final with australia. but i just find the game boring, so i end up reading blogs and various links, only looking up at the tv when the commentators start getting excited. still, very happy with nz's win, though i never expected anything different.
i was actually on queen street before the match, from 5pm to 6.30pm. the atmosphere was great, and there were so many, many people. it kind of reminded me of the hajj, mostly in terms of the crowds and the enthusiasm of the people. it was just missing any spiritual aspect, but still, a lot of fun. went down to aotea square to see the occupy people. many of them were out with signs, and i thought it was great that they were getting their message out in the midst of everthing else going on. loved one of the signs that had steps for something or other, which started with 1. win the RWC 2. ban corporate greed. so we've done the first, let's hope we get some progress on the second.
and today, in amongst all the celebrations, let's not forget that over 1,000 have just died in an earthquake in turkey - close to ten times the number that died in christchurch. another disaster, another community that needs our support.
and let's not forget it's labour day. a day when we should be acknowledging rights of workers and the protections they still desperately need. the battles that were fought by those so long ago, which need to be fought all over again. the right to fair pay, the right to health and safety standards, the right to adequate leave, the right to freedom from discrimination, the right to reasonable working hours, and so much more.
the nz health and safety statistics were out on 19 october 2011, and they are pretty grim reading:
Key annual statistics for 2010
- 75 workers killed at work
- 5,945 serious harm notifications
- 89 cases where an employer or employee was successfully prosecuted for breaches of health and safety legislation.