Improving Human Rights Reduces Poverty
Improving Human Rights Reduces Poverty
  • Ji-hye Kim
  • 승인 2013.11.11 09:39
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Poor people in a wealthy world
The hunger map for 2012 was published in the British newspaper, the Guardian. It marked the food security risk index of regional groups and was analyzed by the UK-based risk analysis consultants Maplecroft. It was made by using the health index and current state of food supplies in 197 countries. The security risk index considered social anxiety due to a shortage of food and high prices. This map shows how many people are hungry in the world represented by 5 colors. Ten countries, including Ethiopia and Somalia, are in red which indicates extreme risk. Except for Afghanistan, every country in the extreme risk category is located in Africa. Many African countries have also been placed in the orange category which indicates high risk. North Korea, Syria, and India are three of the non-African countries in the orange category. India has the second largest population in the world at about 1.2 billion people (1,200,000,000); therefore, poverty in India is a serious issue. Although many poor people are concentrated in countries that are entirely red and orange, extreme poverty exists in countries that are categorized as medium and low risk as well.
Associated Press (AP) survey showed that 4 out of 5 Americans have at some point lost their job and had first-hand experiences with poverty at least once in 2013. From 2007 to 2009 America experienced its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and the number of Americans who considered themselves to be middle class dropped sharply. Furthermore, according to the AP, about 80% of unemployed adults lost their jobs for more than a year and depended on food stamps or government subsidies. 15% of the total population or 46.2 million people have an annual income of 23,000 dollars or less per a family of four. In addition, around 40% of Americans between 25 and 60 years old have been placed at or below the poverty line including those with low incomes and people who have been unemployed for a long time. The reality of not listening to the have-nots
When most people think about the word, “poverty,” they only think of starvation, low income, and disease. However, poverty is not always caused by a lack of money. Old fashioned household relationships that are supported by outdated social systems, people who are forced from their homes even though they work hard, people who are attacked or discriminated against due to a difference in values could all be considered different forms of poverty.

Human rights have not been protected
Hundreds of Turks are against building a new shopping center at Texan Gezi Park in Istanbul. This demonstration has been ongoing since May 27th 2013. However, Turkish police have been attempting to put down the demonstration by using excessive force. According to a report by the Turkish Medical Association, 8 thousand people have been injured. They have also used 130 thousand canisters of tear gas since the rallies took place for 20 days, and 150 thousand bullets which are normally allocated in the police budget were used up. Turkish mass media also reported that the police made special requisitions for equipment in order to suppress the protest including 100 thousand more bullets and more armored cars.
Another example of poverty is that homophobia is still a problem in countries like Jamaica, the Republic of South Africa, and Ukraine. Some men in Jamaica were branded as criminals simply because they expressed love for each other publicly. In extreme cases homophobia causes people to attack and murder homosexuals, but the police in South Africa often do not investigate these incidents. “Pride March” for protecting the human rights of homosexuals has never been held in Ukraine. It was supposed to be held in May 2012 in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. However, the public made a threat to cause violence against the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual) participants, and the police did not take proper safety measures either, so eventually the march was called off. In many countries, the atmosphere of bias allows the possibility of physical violence and other human rights abuses to occur. In this way “suffering from poverty” indicates people whose human rights are not protected as well as people who are forced to live a hand to mouth existence.

How Amnesty International deals with poverty
Amnesty International is an NGO that accepts members regardless of nation, race, or religion. They were awarded the Nobel Prize for peace in 1977, and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1978. They are active in 150 countries around the world. They have a combined 3 million supporters and members. An English lawyer, Peter Benenson, was outraged because two Portuguese students who had a toast for freedom in 1961 were imprisoned, so he started this organization. Amnesty International Korea is currently working for the release of prisoners of conscience, the abolition of the death penalty, the improvement of human rights of immigrant workers, guarantees of freedom of expression, and regulation of the arms trade. They are also working to protect human rights through international solidarity.
Amnesty International refers to the vicious cycle of poverty when they deal with the its underlying causes. The vicious cycle of poverty consists of 4 stages: deprivation, disregard, exclusion, and anxiety. Many people forfeit their rights, and try to get them back, but other people disregard these people because it is not related to their own problems. They are always excluded from important decisions like the policy making process, and they are alienated from society. As a result, they become people who suffer from anxiety. Amnesty International finds fundamental reasons, for why human rights violations occur and they help the disadvantaged achieve sustainable change by highlighting illogical systems or situations for them. The following paragraph is an example that shows how Amnesty International helps the disadvantaged whose rights were violated.

The campaign to stop forced evictions of the Roma tribes
More than 200 Roma tribes people that emigrated from Rumania to France were evicted from their temporary residences. The police evicted them from tents which had been accommodating 230 people and movable dwellings in Ris-Orangis, a suburb of Paris. The justification for this action was concern over public health and safety. They were evicted without appropriate alternative residences or support. Marek Marczynski, Europe and Central Asia Programme Deputy Director, said that this is a shameful and callous behavior and a complete disregard for France’s international human rights obligations. Amnesty International sent a letter to request a stop to the expulsion of refugees to the mayor of Ris-Orangis, but they have not received a reply yet.
Thus, Amnesty International began working to resolve these problems. They organized a flash-mob which requested the Roma tribes’ settlement with activists from the Roma tribes on April 8th 2013 in front of the EU (European Union) headquarters located in Brussels, Belgium. This action put a spotlight on the evictions, so the activists experienced compulsory eviction and racial discrimination. Then, they published a report, “Pushed to the Margins;” the story of the compulsory eviction of the Roma tribes on June 18th 2013 in Romania's capital, Bucharest. Finally, Amnesty International and the activists of the Roma tribes collected 93,000 signatures for their petition to the EU parliament. Thousands of ordinary people urged the EU to establish legal recourse related to the discrimination against the Roma tribes within the EU countries through these signatures.

Action taken by ordinary people
Amnesty International Korea’s domain name is, and there are several ways we can help. Informing about human rights infringements at home and abroad and signing petitions are two forms of Online Action. Telephone Campaigns inform people about progress, and solicit participation over the phone. Mobile Action includes receiving signatures for petitions via text message. There is also Urgent Action (UA) which has been set up in order to prevent human rights abuses such as kidnapping, death penalty, torture, and arbitrary imprisonment. Amnesty International members write petition letters and send them to areas where Urgent Action is required. The UA which started in 1972, has 100,000 active members. They write more than one thousand letters every year regarding abuses that take place around the world. Amnesty International is also supported by their members so they can remain independent economically and politically. In addition, they continually attempt to exert influence related to the state of human rights and explore future activities by gathering members at membership meetings. Amnesty Student Network Korea is comprised of members and supporters in their twenties. They take a critical look at society and learn about different human rights issues through regular meetings, campaigns and activities. They also send petition letters, carry on signing campaigns, and they work for human rights in a number of different ways.

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