The Human Rights Crisis Everyone's Ignoring

The Human Rights Crisis Everyone's Ignoring

Grab some popcorn, this is a big one.
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I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty tired of hearing about all of the petty drama going on in the world. Here’s the thing: in a week, you’ll forget about who stood up for the national anthem. In fact, they’ll still be making millions of dollars and you’ll still be watching their games. And you won’t care or remember which gun laws are in place; you’ll only remember the lives you once knew (Let me take this sidebar to criticize those who are turning a national tragedy into a soapbox for their political agenda. Shame on you). So how about we take a moment to highlight a few issues that have been hiding from the spotlight, but deserve to be acknowledged:

If you just want to support the crisis and don’t feel like reading today, click here to donate to UNICEF’s work with Rohingya children or here to donate to the Myanmar Humanitarian Fund that assists NGO’s and the UN in providing urgent support.

Ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Myanmar (Burma)

Y’all, this is one of the biggest human rights issues in our lifetime. The minority group Rohingya is being forcibly displaced to border countries such as Bangladesh. This is due to a process called “ethnic cleansing,” a process by which the government of Myanmar has been trying to rid the Rohingya of a country they have inhabited for centuries. If they stay, they are subject to “security forces and local militia reportedly burn[ing] villages and shoot[ing] civilians.” These attacks have been occurring since late August, and continue to this day. Furthermore, on Monday, October 9, “at least 13 Rohingya refugees, 11 of them young children… have drowned when the fishing boat they were on capsized in stormy weather.” Additionally, there is an increasing amount of gender-based violence, including rape, emerging from this violence. With 24,000 women pregnant or breastfeeding, women’s health and safety have been especially vulnerable.

By the numbers:

Overall, there were around 300,000 people who fled to Bangladesh in the first two weeks of the crisis, with most recent estimates totaling around 515,000. As of early September, around 400 people have been killed, with more recent estimates totaling 1,000. Though this may seem like a small number compared to the total population, it is important to note that this crisis is in the very early stages of development, and the Rohingya have been blessed with the open borders of Bangladesh that allow them to escape quickly.

Woah, woah, woah, back up. Who are these people anyway?

According to Minority Rights Group International, the Rohingya are a distinct Muslim population residing in Rakhine State of Myanmar (Burma). These 1.1 million people have been ostracized since the military coup in 1962, a year in which the first of many restrictions on Rohingya began until the eventual loss of citizenship in 1982. Moreover, the new regime refuses to recognize the population as citizens, forcing them to live segregated from the rest of the country without access to healthcare, schools or jobs. In fact, they are rarely permitted mobility and often struggle to obtain simple documents such as marriage permits. Tragically, these issues have been the mere beginning of their struggles. Since the early 60s, the population has been forced to flee in waves of hundreds of thousands, some still exiled in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Some of the atrocities committed by the Burmese army that have forced them to flee include: torture, extra-judicial killing and summary execution, arbitrary arrest and detention, rape, destruction of homes, forced labour, forced relocation and eviction, and confiscation of land and property.” I encourage you to read more on the colorful history of Myanmar and the current conflict, but for now, you have an overview of one of the budding humanitarian issues of our time. What will you do to stop it?

Cover Image Credit: Vimeo

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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An Open Letter To PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk

For an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, I have many questions.

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Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I, like you, am a firm believer in the right to compassion for all living beings around the world. Ever since converting to veganism from the omnivorous lifestyle I was raised to lead nearly six years ago, I have heavily relied on PETA.com and its affiliates for information, facts and statistics, recipe ideas, cruelty-free lifestyle selections, and activism opportunities on almost a daily basis so that I may further grow my knowledge and support for this permanent lifestyle change. When I search for new beauty or household products, clothing, shoes, and more, it is always comforting to see the "PETA-Approved Vegan" logo on the box, and I am confident in the purchases that I am making.

It was only recently that a new stream of data was brought to my attention that has altered my viewpoint of your organization and what it truly stands for, and I request that you provide the public your reasoning or justification for such acts, and any reparations that need to be made. Another lifelong vegan friend of mine recently pointed out to me a website called petakillsanimals.com where there is sizable physical legal evidence of immense animal cruelty, suffering, and murder at the hands of PETA over the last fifteen of years. Seeing as you have been the CEO of the organization for over 25 years, I figured it would be best to address you directly, seeking a response to this evidence of cruelty from the globally renowned organization that does all that it can to fight cruelty in every form.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, from 1998 to 2017, 85.2% of all dogs and cats transferred to your facility for shelter were euthanized within 24 hours of being brought to your facility. Despite your reasoning that you painlessly end the suffering of animals who would have otherwise been left to suffer anyway, the arguments and justifications that you are making mirror the arguments of the meat, dairy, poultry, and fish industries (whom you dedicate your life to combating) all too identically. Just as PETA fights to end society's blasé attitude toward animal cruelty and murder, your attempt at claiming that the way you euthanize the animals in your facility is "better", renders one of PETA's greatest catchphrases, essentially, worthless: "There is no such thing as humane murder".

Similarly, after wrongfully luring a family pet off its porch in 2014, PETA took the pet from its owner's property and euthanized it, bringing the dog's owners to file a lawsuit with your organization that was just settled in 2017, where PETA was forced to pay the family nearly $50,000 dollars in damages. Finally, terror is not ever a justifiable option to invoke change, so why are you personally and professionally so aligned with the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization responsible for arson, extensive property damage, and assault? Why have you donated nearly $80,000 to groups that promote harming life in order to save a life?

Ridding the world of violence with more violence has never, does not, and will never work, so if I can request only one thing from you in this letter, even if you refuse to answer my other questions, it is this: please take the funds that are allocated towards extensive euthanasia drugs and services used by and in your facility, and put them toward building either another building to house more animals if physical space is a concern, for providing food and more extensive adoption services for these animals, or donate them to a true no-kill animal-rights organization like Best Friends Animal Society, Underdog Rescue, or any others provided on this list.

In this letter, my intention was neither to attack nor provoke you in an inflammatory manner, but rather to merely seek truth from an organization that I once so dearly respected and wish to one day respect again in the same manner. I thank you for your time, and for all of the lives that you have saved in between.

Sincerely,

An Animal Lover & Ally

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