Myanmar’s Coup: Unearthing its Constitutional Roots

Myanmar’s Coup: Unearthing its Constitutional Roots

By guest contributors Namrata Rawat* and Rishav Devrani.* February 1, 2021, the world witnessed Myanmar succumbing to a military coup after a 5-year run of a democratically elected government. The coup happened on account of alleged fraud in the 2020 elections wherein the National League for Democracy (NLD) Party, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi saw a landslide victory with 83% votes in its favour. Myanmar, currently under a year-long state of emergency, would be under military rule. The coup d’état has been condemned by countries and international organisations across the globe, who have called it a serious blow to democratic reforms. However, this state of events is not unprecedented, a similar narrative presided over the 1990 election as well. The imposed state of emergency is provided for under Section 417 of the Constitution of Myanmar. It becomes pertinent to discuss this as a military rule can have unavoidable violations of human rights across the country. In this article, the authors...
Read More
Student Debt Forgiveness is a Human Rights Issue

Student Debt Forgiveness is a Human Rights Issue

By Noah Smith, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the human rights MA program. Americans owe over $1.7 trillion in student loan debt and the Federal Reserve projects that 31% of all U.S. adults have student loans. House and Senate Democrats have frequently implored President Biden to forgive up to $50,000 of federal debt through an Executive Order, an action Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has articulated Biden should take during his first 100 days in office. During a recent CNN town hall, an audience member asked President Biden what actions his administration will take to forgive up to $50,000. He quickly responded by stating “I will not make that happen.” President Biden has given several reasons for why he does not support large student debt forgiveness, namely, he believes such action would disproportionately benefit students who go to “elite” private colleges. “It depends on whether or not you go to a private university or public university,” he said...
Read More
Understanding the LGBT Rights Movement in Indonesia

Understanding the LGBT Rights Movement in Indonesia

By guest contributors Harsh Mahaseth* and Ishita Goel*   Although homosexuality is legal in most parts of Indonesia, it is widely believed that the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia is anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), with government officials making the four-letter acronym a toxic symbol. In November, Indonesian police arrested Millen Cyrus, a trans-woman Instagram influencer, for alleged drug possession. Police placed her in a male detention cell at the Tanjung Priok Port Police Station, a move that received criticism from Indonesians and the international community. Millen Cyrus was arrested on November 22, 2020, after police raided her hotel room and discovered 0.36 grams of crystal methamphetamine in her possession. Police revealed later that Cyrus had been placed in a male detention cell because her I.D card identified her as a male. She was moved to a special cell following public outrage, not because police realised their mistake. They removed her from the male detention cell in order to “stifle anger,”...
Read More
President Biden’s Promise to End Gay Conversion Therapy

President Biden’s Promise to End Gay Conversion Therapy

By: Guest Contributor Isidora Roskic, MA candidate in the Human Rights Studies program at Columbia University.  With the 2020 election results finalized, the Biden-Harris administration could bring promising advancements for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. While Trump’s Republican platform was once referred to as one of the “worst platforms in terms of LGBT issues,” President Biden’s policy proposals hold great prospect for real change. According to his Plan to Advance LGBTQ+ Equality in America and Around the World, banning so-called “conversion therapy” presently stands as one of the government’s top priorities. Gay conversion therapy (GCT), otherwise referred to as “reparative therapy,” is the pseudoscientific practice of attempting to alter one’s sexual orientation or gender identity through spiritual, psychological and/or physical intervention.  Experimental “treatments” include lobotomies, testicular tissue transplants, chemical castration, and aversive conditioning: application of electric shock to hands/genitals, and administration of nausea-inducing drugs during the presentation of homoerotic stimuli. Conversion therapy survivor, Sam Brinton, opened up about the horrors of undergoing...
Read More
Then They Came for Me: A Call for Jewish Support of #BlackLivesMatter

Then They Came for Me: A Call for Jewish Support of #BlackLivesMatter

By Anna Miller, a staff writer at RightsViews and a graduate student in ISHR’s Human Rights MA Program. Note: this piece addresses antisemitism in the United States only, though it exists worldwide. As a Jewish person born and living in the United States, my knowledge is primarily based in this country.  The Jewish people are no stranger to hatred and violence. Jewish history is marked by thousands of years of antisemitism, centuries of forced diaspora, and a boiling point of bigotry that led to the Holocaust. Today, antisemitic hate crimes and speech have reached a new high in the United States. In 2019, the Anti-Defamation League reported 2,107 antisemitic incidents, the highest number on record since ADL began tracking such incidents in 1979 (ADL).  Due to their acute familiarity with discrimination and injustice, Jews tend to be active in social justice movements and speak up about human rights issues. Notably, Jews marched in civil rights protests in the 1960s and were vocal about...
Read More
  Sex Workers’ Rights are Human Rights: Repeal FOSTA-SESTA

  Sex Workers’ Rights are Human Rights: Repeal FOSTA-SESTA

By Noah Smith, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the human rights MA program.  In 2017, President Trump signed into law two highly controversial bills projected to make it easier to reduce illegal sex trafficking online. The House bill known as FOSTA, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, and the Senate bill, SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, have garnered bipartisan support as well as praise from misguided celebrities and was hailed as a landmark victory for sex trafficking victims. However, since the FOSTA-SESTA’s conception it has done little to target and reduce online sex trafficking and conversely threatens to increase violence against the most vulnerable within society, specifically queer sex workers and sex workers of color.        Opponents as well as critics of the bill have articulated that it doesn’t appear to do anything concrete to target illegal sex trafficking, but rather targets a longstanding “safe harbor” rule of the internet: Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act....
Read More
A Refugee Crisis, Poetry, and a Camera: “Paris Stalingrad” Film Screening

A Refugee Crisis, Poetry, and a Camera: “Paris Stalingrad” Film Screening

By Rowena Kosher, co-editor of RightsViews Recently, ISHR hosted a virtual film screening of Paris Stalingrad, followed by a discussion with the film’s director, Hind Meddeb. Human Rights professor Lara Nettlefield moderated the conversation. Hind Meddeb is a French filmmaker whose work interrogates human rights issues of our time, and this film is no exception. Co-directed by filmmaker Thim Naccache, Paris Stalingrad is an intimate documentary portrait of the life of refugees living on the streets of the Stalingrad district of Paris. Many of these refugees come to France from Sudan, Ethiopia, Erythrea, Somalia, and Afghanistan to escape persecution and violence in their home countries. Yet, with everything from police violence to immigration bureaucracy to racism alike, Paris turns these refugees away, forcing them onto the streets. Meddeb approaches her documentary from the lens of community, depicting the everyday life of a refugee living on the Paris streets. In particular, the film follows a young man, Souleymane Mohammed, as he navigates the...
Read More
Sexual Terrorism and the Quest for Justice for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: The Digital Dialogue Series 

Sexual Terrorism and the Quest for Justice for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: The Digital Dialogue Series 

By Larissa Peltola, a Staff Writer at RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA program. Sexual terrorism committed by militant groups like ISIS/ISIL, Boko Haram, and Al Shabaab has gone largely unacknowledged in domestic and international courts, despite its rampant use. Sexual violence is a widespread, endemic issue in all conflicts around the world, affecting individuals, communities, and societies as a whole.  The United Nations has identified that the extensive use of sexual violence perpetrated by terrorist groups globally has been used as an incentive for recruitment, a tool for financing, destroying, subjugating and controlling communities and societies, extracting information from detainees, forcing displacement, and as a means of controlling or suppressing women’s reproductive abilities. While the high numbers of sexual abuse have led to international calls to action by civil society, activists, the United Nations Security Council, and state governments, these crimes have still not been prosecuted before any national or international court.    What Can (and Should) Justice Look...
Read More
“Abort the Government”: Polish Citizens Challenge Poland’s Retreat to Autocracy

“Abort the Government”: Polish Citizens Challenge Poland’s Retreat to Autocracy

By Ali Cain, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the European History, Politics, and Society  MA Program Over the last three weeks, Polish citizens have ignited the country’s biggest protests since the 1989 pro-democracy movement in response to the passing of a de facto abortion ban. Although Poland already had the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, its highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, concluded that performing abortions, even in situations where a baby would be born sick or disabled, violates the Constitution’s guarantee to the protection of life. This ruling poses immense infringements on women’s rights and pushes the country into deeper democratic backsliding.  Despite Polish President Andrzej Duda announcing that the ban would be delayed indefinitely, protests have developed into a larger retaliation against the ruling far-right Law and Justice Party (PiS). Since its rise to power in 2015, the Party maintains support by enflaming cultural tensions over LGBTQ+ rights, migration, and abortion. Prior to the Tribunal’s ruling, women...
Read More
Sudan: On the Path to Transition?

Sudan: On the Path to Transition?

By Reem Katrib, a RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA Program. After a 30-year conflict over its autonomy, South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan through a referendum in 2011. The Enough Project explains that this secession “caused a severe economic shock in Sudan, as the country lost nearly 75 percent of its oil reserves and 95 percent of its foreign currency reserves.” Since then, the Sudanese government has repressed political opposition, often using violence against civil society and opposition groups who have expressed their dissent at the mismanagement of the economy.  Prior to secession, Sudan had been plagued by conflict with continuing human rights violations that has meant a distrust of the judiciary in the present. In April 2019, a military council replaced Omar al-Bashir when he was forced out of office. The military leaders and opposition members negotiated to form a “sovereign council” the following August. This council acts  as a transitional government and...
Read More