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Human Rights

The Takeaway

Serbian Boy Faces Death Threats for Expressing Pro-American Views Online

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rastko Pocesta, a 12-year-old boy in Serbia is under police protection and has become an unlikely symbol of the struggle between the liberal, pro-western minority and the Serbian nationalists, who still have strong anti-American feelings after NATO bombings during the late 1990's.

 

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The Takeaway

Eve Ensler Taps Into the Teenage Psyche

Monday, March 01, 2010

March is Women's History Month and in celebration we've invited Eve Ensler to talk about her latest projects. The author, playwright and well-known feminist has worked to advance women's rights worldwide.

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The Takeaway

In Mexico Gang Wars, Who Watches the Watchmen?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Amnesty International is taking sides on the drug and gang violence that's already killed 7,000 people this year in Mexico... and their stance may surprise you.

The international human rights watchdog group is accusing the Mexican government of turning a blind eye to thousands of complaints against the Mexican military.  According to the charges, the same military troops tasked with providing security against gang violence are themselves guilty of torturing, and in some cases murdering, civilians.

The Houston Chronicle's Mexico bureau chief, Dudley Althaus, covered this story and joins us to discuss the ramifications of these alleged abuses.  Are these violations a necessary evil in fighting a war so out-of-control, or something to inspire the ancient question: "Who Watches the Watchmen?"

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The Takeaway

Argentina's First Gay Marriage Blocked at Last Minute

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A judge blocked Latin America's first gay marriage at the last minute today in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The last-minute reversal highlights the divided opinion on gay marriage in predominantly Catholic Latin American culture. We get the latest from BBC’s South America correspondent, Candace Piette, live from Buenos Aires.

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The Takeaway

Report on Chinese 'Black Jails' Ahead of President's Asia Trip

Thursday, November 12, 2009

As we discussed with researcher Phelim Kine earlier this morning, a just-released report from Human Rights Watch alleges that China is operating a distributed system of secret prisons that hold citizens petitioning for redress from their government.  We continue the conversation with Keith Bradsher, Hong Kong bureau chief for our partner, The New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Chinese Detention System Called "Alleyway in Hell"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On the eve of President Obama’s visit to China next week, a new report alleges that a sprawling system of “black jails” has been used to detain Chinese citizens petitioning for redress from the government. The report, called “An Alleyway in Hell[pdf, 737.06 kb], is just out this morning from Human Rights Watch. It describes Chinese citizens being abducted off the streets of Beijing and other cities with no charges. The citizens were imprisoned in state-owned hotels, nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals, where the conditions are often brutal. We speak to Phelim Kine, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

 

 

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The Takeaway

Disabled Students More Likely to Face Corporal Punishment

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A new report by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch says that children with disabilities are more likely to face corporal punishment in school than their peers. We talk to Alice Farmer, a lawyer with the ACLU, and Anna Moore, the mother of a 10-year-old boy with autism.

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The Takeaway

Intimidation: A Journalist is Murdered in Chechnya

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Natalya Estemirova, a prominent journalist and human rights activist, was kidnapped yesterday from her home in the Chechen capital of Grozny. She was found a few hours later, dead of gunshot wounds to the head and chest. She spent her career documenting kidnappings and killings in Chechnya and was working on documenting an arson campaign by government-backed militias. Her work frequently pitted her against the Chechen government. Her death raises larger questions of safety for human rights workers and journalists. Joining The Takeaway with more of the story is Dimitri Babitch, political journalist with the Russian news agency Rio Novosti in Moscow.

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The Takeaway

Remembering Tiananmen Square

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Twenty years ago today the Chinese army rolled their tanks into Tiananmen Square in Beijing and quashed the massive protests that were taking place there. Seven weeks of uprisings, demonstrations, and hunger strikes were wiped out under the treads of Chinese tanks. Casualties numbered in the hundreds or the thousands — there has never been an official accounting — but the toll on the democracy movement was near fatal. To help recreate the scene for us we are joined by the BBC's Kate Adie, who reported from the ground in Tiananmen Square. We are also joined by photographer Jeff Widener, who captured the quintessential image of the struggle — a lone man standing against a line of tanks.

See also the New York Times Photo Essay Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen.

Also: watch a BBC interview with Kate Adie about her experiences that day and her hopes for the future of democracy in China.

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The Takeaway

Does Karadzic Have a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card?

Monday, May 25, 2009

The former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested in July 2008, after 11 years on the run. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia accuses him of genocide for his involvement in the decimation of Bosnia's Croat and Muslim population. But his lawyers say they have evidence that he was told by Richard Holbrooke, now the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that he would not stand trial for war crimes. They are outlining their evidence today in The Hague. For more on this story, The Takeaway is joined by Charles Ingrao, professor of history at Purdue University.

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The Takeaway

The secret history of the CIA interrogation tactics

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A new examination by our partner The New York Times, shows that in 2002 top officials in the Bush administration for the first time signed off on the barbaric interrogation procedures, that in the past it had always condemned. And no one involved in that decision, from the President down through the House and Senate, knew the history behind the methods they had just signed off on. Even George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director who insisted that the agency had thoroughly researched its proposal didn't know of the history of these programs.

What was that history? According to several former top officials interviewed by the New York Times, the methods used by the CIA against terror suspects were taken from a military training program, called SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. The program had been created decades earlier to give American pilots and soldiers a sample of Communist torture methods that had wrung false confessions from Americans during the Korean War. Obviously not something you want to pick up off the shelf and start using again. Here to present his report is New York Times reporter Scott Shane.

For more, read Scott Shane's and Mark Mazzetti's article, In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Inquiry Into Their Past Use in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

American journalist in Iran sentenced to eight years

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jailed Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi has been sentenced to eight years in prison for alleged espionage. President Obama has called for her release, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has urged the country’s chief prosecutor to fairly examine the case. But Robin Wright, Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the author of Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East, says Saberi may be caught in the crossfire during a period of extraordinary tensions within Iran and between Iran and the US.

For more on this case, watch the video below from the Associated Press.

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The Takeaway

Fine print of the torture memos reveal shocking details

Monday, April 20, 2009

The fallout from the release of the so-called torture memos that document the CIA's interrogation techniques against purported terrorists continues. Now more details of the potentially illegal torture are becoming clear. In 2007, a former CIA officer told new organizations that an al Qaida operative, Abu Zubayadah, had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew. Now new analysis of the so-called torture memos shows that Zubaydah was actually waterboarded at least 83 times. The same simulated drowning technique was used almost 200 times against Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the self-described planner of the September 11 attacks. New York Times reporter Scott Shane has been following this story for the paper and he joins The Takeaway with the disturbing tale.

For more, read Scott Shane's article, Waterboarding Used 266 Times on 2 Suspects in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Same-sex marriage: For some a beginning, for others an end

Thursday, April 09, 2009

With both Iowa and Vermont legalizing same sex marriage within the last week, we wanted to take a step back and talk about the future of gay marriage in the United States. What is the next step for the gay rights movement, and which state will be the next one to let same sex couples marry? Or are these court decisions the spark that will mobilize those opposed This morning will be present both sides of the argument. We'll begin first with Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project and representing the other side of the conversation is Maggie Gallagher. She is the President of the National Organization for Marriage.

Here are two of the PSAs released by the campaigns:



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The Takeaway

Awaiting a verdict in human rights trial of Peruvian President Fujimori

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

After a fifteen-month long trial, a verdict is expected today in the trial of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori on charges of human rights abuses. This is the first time an elected Latin American president has been tried for human rights abuse. Fujimori is accused of ordering two massacres that killed 25 people. He denies the charges, but faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Mr. Fujimori is currently serving a six-year prison term for abuse of power. Joining us for more is James Painter, Latin American analyst for the BBC's World Service.

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The Takeaway

Are we torturing U.S. prisoners?

Monday, March 23, 2009

The United States holds at least 25,000 prisoners in long-term solitary confinement prisons across the country. They're called "Supermax" prisons, where prisoners are confined without human contact for at least 23 hours every day. Should these isolation cells be considered torture?

The Takeaway is joined by Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and author of a piece in this week's New Yorker called "Annals of Human Rights". Dr. Gawande writes that we know how monkeys respond when scientists have placed them under solitary confinement: the monkeys become severely disturbed and withdrawn. It's, of course, not ethical to do similar experiments on adult human beings, but Dr. Gawande argues that is exactly what we are doing to tens of thousands of prisoners in Supermax prisons in the United States.

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The Takeaway

Judges rule California must close prisons

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A panel of three federal judges has ruled that California is not providing its prison population with adequate health care and ordered the state to reduce its prison population by up to a third. The state says it will appeal. Anti-prison advocates Rose Braz, Campaign Director of Critical Resistance, and Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, join The Takeaway with a look at this case and how the economic crisis could impact criminal justice around the country.

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The Takeaway

State secrets rear their head in the Obama administration

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

While campaigning for president, Barack Obama was extremely critical of the Bush administration’s treatment of detainees. But now his administration is invoking the states-secret privilege to uphold the dismissal of a federal lawsuit involving rendition and torture. Here with us to discuss it is ACLU staff attorney Ben Wizner, who argued the case for the plaintiffs.

Watch Rachel Maddow's (melo) dramatic reenactment of the hearing and Ben Wizner's appearance on her show:

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The Takeaway

NBC News is hunting the war criminal next door

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

NBC is hunting for the war criminals among us. The network is working on a series about international war criminals living in the United States, due to air this month or next. One of their first investigations involves a Maryland college professor who the network claims participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. A letter from the network to the university led to the school suspending the professor. Hot on the trail of the fallout of that investigation is Brian Stelter, media reporter for the New York Times, and he joins us now.

For more, read Brian Stelter's article, On Trail of War Criminals, NBC News Is Criticized in today's New York Times.

"The issue that concerns journalistic ethics professors, for example, is that having a journalistic organization work with a local law enforcement, or in this case a foreign government, it taints the entire process."
— Brian Stelter of the New York Times on a new NBC series aimed at catching war criminals

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The Takeaway

A cold day in Moscow with the murder of a lawyer

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In a frightening echo of the killing of 2006's murder of Anna Politkovskaya a very prominent Russian lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, was assassinated in broad daylight in Moscow yesterday. The speculation is that Markelov was targeted for his human rights activities. We turn to James Rodgers, the BBC's Moscow correspondent, for more on this disturbing event.

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