“Week in Review” is a new addition to the New Civil Rights Movement by Tanya Domi, which presents a review of top news throughout the world and in America each Sunday. We begin this week by highlighting several major stories from the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York this week.
Obama Affirms the Human Rights of Gays and Lesbians at the UN
After laying down an aggressive LGBT human rights agenda at the UN during the past year, President Barack Obama called for equal rights for lesbians and gays in an address before the UN General Assembly. “No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,” Obama said. Mark Bromley, chair of the Council on Global Equality, issued this comment on Wednesday: “The President’s remarks today at the UN General Assembly, where he called for the world to ‘stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,’ were historic. Never before has a sitting U.S. President spoken so clearly about LGBT rights in a formal address to the full General Assembly. It shows how far we have come.”
Palestinians Ask the UN for Statehood Vote
Mahmood Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, went before the UN General Assembly this week andsolicited the UN for a full Statehood vote n the Security Council. The U.S. has indicated it will veto such a proposal. Abbas was received warmly by the world body during his speech, receiving a standing ovation. Abbas said during his speech, “I call upon the distinguished members of the Security Council to vote in favour of our full membership. I do not believe that anyone with a shred of conscience can reject our application for a full membership in the United Nations and our admission as an independent state.” Upon Abbas’ return to Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestinians greeted him in a raucous celebration.
Pope Calls for Global Religious Alliance Against Gay Marriage and Abortion
During a tour of his native Germany, Pope Benedict XVI called on Orthodox Christians to join with the Roman Catholic Church to form a religious alliance against gay marriage and abortion. During a meeting with Orthodox Christians he said, ”Knowing, too, the value of family and marriage, we as Christians attach great importance to defending the integrity and the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman from any kind of misinterpretation,” adding, “Here the common engagement of Christians, including many Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, makes a valuable contribution to building up a society equipped for the future.” The Orthodox Church also condemns homosexuality and has proven to be a formidable adversary toward LGBT rights in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Putin Announces Second Run for Russia’s Presidency
Endorsed by his party United Russia, Vladimir Putin announced he will run for President again in 2012by switching places with Dimitri Medvedev. Many Kremlin watchers have said the younger Medvedev had been keeping the seat warm for Putin to reclaim for a 2012 run. Theoretically, if successful, this election could extend Putin’s reign of power to 2024 equating his time in power to that of Stalin and Brezhnef. Medvedev announced he would step down from the presidency yesterday, allowing Putin to move forward, with no significant opposition in sight.
13 Million Affected by Famine in Horn of Africa
A predicted famine in Sub Sahara Africa rages on, affecting at least 13 million people who have been disproportiately displaced from Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, a failed state located in the Horn of Africa. Startling photographs documenting this famine can be attributed to lower wheat crop yields around the world, coupled with poor humanitarian response by state officials. Somalis are fleeing, by walking out of the poor country that takes about a month, to the Dadaab refugee camp, located in Northern Kenya, the largest such camp in the world today. But arriving to the the camp does not assure access to food or safety and many continue to die in the camp. The U.S. government is providing an array of humanitarian assistance, including $69 million in emergency food aid to support the populations in emergency conditions.
Jailed American Hikers Return to the U.S.
Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, two American hikers who had been held in an Iranian prison for more than two years, were released this past week and returned to the United States on September 25. The two were released from Tehran’s Evin prison under a $1 million bail deal and arrived in Oman on Wednesday in the first leg of their journey home. The third hiker, American Sarah Shourd, was released for health reasons in November 2011. Shourd met Fattal and Bauer in Oman for a joyous reunion. Bauer asked Shourd to marry him while they were imprisoned in Iran. Nick Kristof of The New York Times interviewed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this past week and raised the issue of the American hikers. On Thursday, Ahmadinejad told CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer that homosexuality is, ”one of the ugliest behaviors in our society. It is against divine will, divine teachings of any and every faith, and it is certainly at the detriment of humans and humanity.”
End of Era: DADT Ends
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a Clinton Administration “compromise” in 1993 during the effort to repeal the gay ban was finally repealed this past week that was marked by celebrations from Washington D.C. to San Francisco. This watershed event was made evident in an official Department of Defense website titled “DADT is Repealed.” Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in observation of the day, “Today, with implementation of the new law fully in place, we are a stronger joint force, a more tolerant force, a force of more character and more honor, more in keeping with our own values.”
The White House issued the following statement from President Barack Obama, ‘Today’s achievement is a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change; to Members of Congress, from both parties, who voted for repeal; to our civilian and military leaders who ensured a smooth transition; and to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform who showed that they were ready to move forward together, as one team, to meet the missions we ask of them.”
Republicans Boo Openly Gay Soldier During GOP Presidential Debate
In the same week DADT was repealed into the history books, a partisan Republican audience jeered Stephen Hill, an openly gay soldier based in Iraq, who questioned in an YouTube presentation whether Republican candidates for the presidency would reinstate the discredited and unconstitutional policy. Virulent anti-gay candidate Rick Santorum, condemned the jeering by the audience, only to retract his statement a day later. The New Civil Rights Movement captured all the candidates comments or actions about the jeering of the gay soldier following the debate. Ultimately, only John Huntsman, candidate from Utah, expressed his regrets for not condemning the jeers of the audience.
Troy Davis Executed in Georgia Prison Garnering Worldwide Condemnation
Troy A. Davis, sentenced to death row 19 years ago for the killing of Mark Allen MacPhail, an off-duty Savannah, Georgia police officer in 1989, was executed on September 21 after the U.S. Supreme Court and the Georgia Parole Board denied his request for clemency. Pleas for Davis’ clemency were submitted by numerous luminaries, including former Nobel Peace laureates President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as Pope Benedict and the European Union. The Georgia conviction of Davis unraveled in recent years, when several eye witnesses recanted their original statements. The NAACP has established an on-line condolence book for Troy Davis, who will be buried on October 1.
HRC Announces Obama as Keynote Speaker for Annual Dinner
“We are honored to share this night with President Obama who has a tremendous record of accomplishment for LGBT people,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “On the heels of the end to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ we look forward to celebrating our victories and redoubling our efforts for the fights that remain ahead.”
The event, HRC’s largest fundraiser which is expected to draw nearly 3,000 attendees, will be the evening of Saturday, October 1st at the Washington Convention Center. many wonder if the President will make any major news this time, like supporting full civil marriage equality.
Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.
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