Human Rights

The battle for human rights, particularly in third world countries, is another aspect of debunking and dissent. Governments and corporations perpetrating or supporting human rights violations seek to cover up those facts. Critical thinking and seeking alternative sources of information is required to even be conscious of what's going on.

Once you are concerned about human rights violations, the problem then becomes how to act in dissent of those violations.

Excerpts from Repression, Inc., by Julie Light at Corporate Watch (

"..human rights abuses, once committed primarily by repressive governments, are increasingly carried out in the corporate interest. "Free" trade and economic globalization have no more brought freedom and democracy to most of the world's people, than did the cold war before it.

"...Nazi collaborators included big corporate names such as Ford, General Motors, Chase Manhattan Bank, Siemens, Bayer and Volkswagen. Since that time, many corporations have continued to be intimately connected with human rights abuses. ITT and others helped overthrow democracy and install the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile; numerous companies supported South African Apartheid; Union Carbide's record in Bhopal is frequently described as corporate violence.

"Despite this sordid history, it has only been in recent years that transnational corporations' complicity with human rights abuse has come under more systematic scrutiny. The international press, citizens' movements and traditional human rights organizations have sounded the alarm on a series of cases. Among those we cover in this Feature are labor abuses in global sweatshops, oil and gas companies' complicity with brutal military regimes in countries such as Burma, Nigeria and Indonesia and the growing prison industry in the United States.

"...the onslaught against human rights is increasingly perpetrated by the institutions of globalization such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. This system, as we argue in the "Globalization" section of this Feature, puts corporations' freedom to trade and invest above people's basic freedom and governments' will to enforce human rights. Or as Human Rights Watch researcher Arvind Ganesan puts it, "governments ignore human rights in favor of perceived trade advantages."

"The South Africa experience has proven critical to the movement for democracy in Burma in the 1990's. "We are inspired by the previous generation of activists who used divestment to help South African majority black communities to bring justice to their country." observes Zarni, an activist with the Free Burma Coalition.

"In response to organizing, city and state governments throughout the U.S. have passed anti-apartheid style selective purchasing ordinances targeting corporations doing business with the Burmese Junta. As a result of this and other efforts, the free Burma movement has won significant victories including agreements by Pepsi, Apple Computers, Liz Claiborne, Motorola and even oil companies like ARCO and Texaco to pull out of the country.

"However, selective purchasing came under fire in 1997 when the European Union and Japan, prompted by pressure from their corporations, used the World Trade Organization to challenge a Massachusetts law. But before that dispute was settled, a US federal judge struck down the Massachusetts selective purchasing legislation upon challenge from the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) - a U.S. corporate lobbying group. While the US court ruling is on appeal and the WTO case on hold, both challenges are potentially severe blows to local efforts to reign in corporate complicity with human rights violations. As Boston congressman Byron Rushing who authored the Massachusetts law put it, "If selective purchasing had been banned ten years ago, Nelson Mandela might still be in prison today."

"Meanwhile, Washington will not begin to put human rights front and center in its foreign policy without consistent pressure from US citizens. Building a movement for human rights and self-determination at home and abroad is a formidable task in the face of the disproportionate influence that corporate dollars have in U.S. politics. One hopeful approach to addressing U.S. corporations' human rights abuses overseas is embodied in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on behalf of Burmese citizens which seeks to hold UNOCAL accountable for its continuing complicity with human rights violations in Burma. Another initiative seeks to revoke UNOCAL's corporate charter for human rights and environmental violations in Burma and in the US."

-- WAR & PEACE --

"The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines war as "a quarrel usually between nations conducted by force, a state of open hostility, suspension of ordinary international law." Use figuratively, the word means "hostility or contention between persons"; used to describe a "war of the nerves," its definition is " an attempt to wear down an opponent by gradual destruction of morale."