Human rights: its a long way from deaths in an Iraqi refugee camp to promoting Pink Shirt Day

Alf wonders – not for the first time – how our Human Rights Commission earns its keep .

His musings were triggered by the United Nations human rights chief, who is condemning a recent Iraqi military operation.

The operation in question happened in a camp north of Baghdad and apparently left 34 people dead and dozens injured.

An independent inquiry into the incident has been called for.

Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said full details of what actually happened on the morning of 8 April at Camp Ashraf, which houses an Iranian exile group known as the People’s Mojahedeen of Iran, are only beginning to emerge.

“But it now seems certain that at least 34 people were killed in Camp Ashraf, including seven or more women.

“Most were shot, and some appear to have been crushed to death, presumably by vehicles,” she stated in a news release.

Ms Pillay noted that the Iraqi military was well aware of the risks attached to launching an operation like this at the camp.

A similar operation by Iraqi security forces in 2009 left 11 people dead and dozens wounded at Ashraf.

“There is no possible excuse for this number of casualties,” she said, referring to the latest incident.

“There must be a full, independent and transparent inquiry, and any person found responsible for use of excessive force should be prosecuted.”

She also called on other governments to urgently consider resettlement to third countries to help provide long-term solutions for the residents of the camp.

“I am well aware that this is a contentious group, with a complicated history, but leaving them to fester in Camp Ashraf was never going to be a solution,” she stated.

“Clearly, since they are unable to go back to Iran, and are in danger in Iraq, the solution is most likely to involve moving them to third countries”

You’ve got to take a quantum leap from these goings-on to find what our Human Rights Commission has been doing.

And what would that be?

Let’s think.

Oh, yes. It was involved with organising Pink Shirt Day on 14 April.

People throughout the country were encouraged to wear pink shirts on that date “to celebrate diversity and take a stand against bullying”.

Pink Shirt Day started in Canada in 2008 when two high school students decided to stand up for a friend who had been bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. It is now a global campaign aimed at reducing bullying.

Evidence suggests bullying has a long term negative effect on children’s behavioural, emotional, social and educational adjustment. The Youth ’07 report found that 33% of students who had been bullied had been because they were gay, or people thought they were.

An outfit called Rainbow Youth was among the champions of Pink Shirt Day in Aotearoa.

It hoped to see over a 1000 students nationwide send a letter to Prime Minister John Key to help promote the development of policy that supports students, teachers and whanau to stop bullying.

This would have the enormous benefit of giving NZ Post something to deliver at a time when email is shrinking its business.

It would give the buggers on the Ninth Floor of the Beehive something to do, too.

Dunno how many letters were actually sent. Must check it out.

But you can be sure Alf did not don a pink shirt on 14 April.

Among other considerations, pink does nothing for his somewhat florid complexion.

2 Responses to Human rights: its a long way from deaths in an Iraqi refugee camp to promoting Pink Shirt Day

  1. nasska says:

    There’s a simple answer Alf. The Hadron Collider has accidentally created a portal into an alternate universe, where everything is exactly the opposite of reality.

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