Human Rights: March 2011 Archives
DREAMActivist Pennsylvania held a rally on Saturday in Philadelphia at which six undocumented Pennsylvanians came out of the shadows, disclosing their immigration status publicly to the supporters and reporters in attendance. The Dreamers spoke, some through tears, of the anger and frustration they feel about their situation: of not being able to drive, travel, or vote. Of living in fear of deportation and permanent separation from their loved ones.
But each speaker also sounded a note of hope, and some were openly defiant. The theme of the rally was "undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic." That defiance was expressed through action when the speakers led supporters from the rally site in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia to the ICE Investigations Office located a few blocks away. An ICE suburban was parked in front, a visible symbol of the detention and deportation regime that targets Dreamers and their families. Several anxious uniformed officers guarded the building, which was closed for the weekend, as though the marchers were going to storm and ransack it. ICE is not used to being challenged by its prey.
In front of the ICE office, Dreamers and allies deposited diplomas into a coffin marked "Broken Dreams" to symbolize the death of their dreams under the current oppressive immigration legal system. They chanted and yelled and sang. The mood was one of exuberance. The speakers who had shed tears earlier were smiling now. ICE was present, but did nothing. The nativists who clog comments sections of articles about immigration were entirely absent. The politicians who claim to support immigrant communities were nowhere to be seen.
Though the DREAM Act was voted down last year, Dreamers haven't gone anywhere, they are here and stronger than ever. Local Spanish-language media was at Saturday's rally in force; the journalists at Univision and Al Dia have grasped the civil rights messaging at the heart of the DREAM Act movement and are broadcasting it to their audiences. Leaders who ignore or diminish Dreamers do so at their political peril.
[Video: Raul Romero/seesawfilms]
Fighting deportation to an almost certain death: the Bulatov Family.
What happens when a country with significant oil supplies is considered to be an ally of the United States but is, according to Wikileaks, riddled with corruption and mafia-style autocratic rule? Lately we've been hearing a lot about what has been going in the Middle East due to media coverage of the recent pro-democracy populist movements in Tunisia, Egypt, and now in Lybia to break free from despotic rule. Yet, we have not heard very much about what is going in Central Asia, where it appears that authoritarianism is alive and well, post-Soviet era. In Kazakhstan, it is currently a crime to insult its President and it seems that even our own U.S. government has been trying to call for a more open government in that country but doing so very carefully so as to not "offend" Kazakhstan's President too much.
When the Soviet Union fell, the western world rejoiced at the prospect of freedom and democracy coming to the former Soviet Republics; but what progress has been made towards this end? In the case of Kazakhstan, its oil and gas supplies have been opened to capitalist markets, and that is almost certainly viewed by Wall Street as "progress". Yet, the country's record on civil rights has lagged behind, having a direct impact on the livelihood of its citizens to the point that some of them have been seeing themselves as having no other choice but to flee to the United States in fear of their very lives. So what has really changed since the fall of the Soviet Union? Who are the rulers of Kazakhstan and what are their relationships to U.S.-based business interests?