Prisoners of Conscience

prison

An International outcry is being heard, a globally deep concern about the fate of innocent Iranians—basic human rights denied; imprisoned, killed…

Among these abused Iranian citizens are many Bahá’ís—those who would never  protest against their government, jailed for their spiritual beliefs…

It’s one thing to demonstrate in the street against what you feel are improper elections; it’s quite another to be sitting in your home, praying for your government, and have its agents arrest you…

Recently, at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco—where the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights  was signed in 1948—an event was attended by: “Over 1000 attendees, including local dignitaries, government officials, members of the press and Bay Area Bahá’ís and their guests, gathered to support the cause of justice for the community of Iranian Bahá’ís enduring persistent persecution.”

Listen carefully, if you would understand what evils are being perpetrated, to this two-part video presentation by Dr. Farhad Sabetan, spokesperson for the Bahá’í International Community and
Lecturer of Economics at California State University:


Spiritual Quote:

“It is incumbent upon every man, in this Day, to hold fast unto whatsoever will promote the interests, and exalt the station, of all nations and just governments. Through each and every one of the verses which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed, the doors of love and unity have been unlocked and flung open to the face of men. We have erewhile declared—and Our Word is the truth—: ‘Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship’. Whatsoever hath led the children of men to shun one another, and hath caused dissensions and divisions amongst them, hath, through the revelation of these words, been nullified and abolished. From the heaven of God’s Will, and for the purpose of ennobling the world of being and of elevating the minds and souls of men, hath been sent down that which is the most effective instrument for the education of the whole human race.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 94

Please leave Your  thoughts and feelings in the Comments.
Let’s have a conversation !

Make It Easy !
Subscribe Free
in a reader or your email

Religion & Human Rights

religious_persecution

Two Prickly Folks At The Café

PF1: “How can you say that? God intended for His servants to worship him through well-trained and devoted ministers—people called to His service and anointed with His power!”

PF2: “Bull!  You think God cares about the kind of ministers you have? Bigoted, servile automatons is what they are!!

PF1: “Well, I’d rather listen to one of my ministers than one of your so-called ‘priests’—just a bunch of puny excuses for real  men—

~~~~~~~~~
Your humble observer quickly left the Café before a fist-fight broke out…
~~~~~~~~~

That imaginary “conversation” isn’t all that different from real ones I’ve heard. People displaying highly irreligious attitudes as they fight like animals over what they claim is the “True Faith”.

This kind of religious intolerance can quickly lead to actual violence and, if sanctioned by powerful organizations or governments, roll right downhill into flagrant and physical persecution of whole groups of our human family.

From the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom:

Countries of Particular Concern:

Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

Lest someone think that concerning themselves with religious freedom is of low value, remember: losing one freedom erodes the security of other freedoms…

International Conventions that need global support:

International Religious Freedom Act of 1998
“The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom shall have as its primary responsibility the annual and ongoing review of the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom and the making of policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress with respect to matters involving international religious freedom.”

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes the freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching.”

From The Guardian:
“Religious persecution can never be excused, but its causes can be explained. The haunting fear of hidden, unexpected revolution drives every dictator, sooner or later, to savage attacks on those he fears most and understands least. Dictators who claim dominion over a man’s mind as well as his body, whose regimes are based on tyranny and their people’s ignorance of the outside world, are wont to attack religious leaders, who must, at all costs, be discredited.”

Spiritual Quote:

“The activity most intimately linked to the consciousness that distinguishes human nature is the individual’s exploration of reality for himself or herself. The freedom to investigate the purpose of existence and to develop the endowments of human nature that make it achievable requires protection. Human beings must be free to know. That such freedom is often abused and such abuse grossly encouraged by features of contemporary society does not detract in any degree from the validity of the impulse itself.

“It is this distinguishing impulse of human consciousness that provides the moral imperative for the enunciation of many of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration and the related Covenants. Universal education, freedom of movement, access to information, and the opportunity to participate in political life are all aspects of its operation that require explicit guarantee by the international community. The same is true of freedom of thought and belief, including religious liberty, along with the right to hold opinions and express these opinions appropriately.

“Since the body of humankind is one and indivisible, each member of the race is born into the world as a trust of the whole. This trusteeship constitutes the moral foundation of most of the other rights — principally economic and social — which the instruments of the United Nations are attempting similarly to define. The security of the family and the home, the ownership of property, and the right to privacy are all implied in such a trusteeship. The obligations on the part of the community extend to the provision of employment, mental and physical health care, social security, fair wages, rest and recreation, and a host of other reasonable expectations on the part of the individual members of society.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Mar 03, The Prosperity of Humankind, Section II

Please leave Your  thoughts and feelings in the Comments.
Let’s have a conversation !

You can also explore and discuss the ideas of this post at
Our Evolution‘s Forums.

Make It Easy !
Subscribe Free
in a reader or your email

For FREE Subscriptions to our monthly newsletter just send us an email at
amzolt{at}gmail{dot}com

Involuntary Wandering

Homeless. Most often starving. Raising children in squalid conditions. These are our global family’s refugees.

From Refugees International: Stateless People “More than 11 million people around the world are stateless….The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts ‘Everyone has the right to a nationality’, but stateless individuals generally do not benefit from the protection and assistance of governments, the United Nations, or aid agencies.”

By no means were refugees necessarily poor or uneducated before their forced migration.

From OneWorld.Net: Searching for Identity in an Ethiopian Refugee Camp “While thankful to be safely outside of Eritrea, Emmanuel explains that in addition to the general problems of refugee camp life such as insufficient food rations and health concerns like malaria, it is not easy to get out of the camp to carry out normal activities such as using the internet. First, a person must obtain a day pass, only 25 of which are issued every day. A bus to Shirraro, the nearest town, needs to be arranged and one must be able to cover the cost of bus fare and internet fees, which start at 15 Birr (US$ 1.56). He would like to continue his studies. ‘I have read the same physics textbook several times, but I would really like to study meteorology.’ ”

I searched Google images for quite awhile to find that picture of the mother and child. It was one of the absolutely saddest searches I’ve ever made…

I happen to be a United States citizen with a small veteran’s pension: not rich or particularly comfortable. I’ve also served time living on the streets, mostly due to a severe lack of self esteem. Yet, none of the suffering I’ve gone through comes anywhere near these peoples’ plight !

Bringing this post to an amazing end is a bit of the story of a remarkable refugee, Bahá’u’lláh. He lived in 19th Century Persia and was banished to Iraq, Turkey, and what is now Israel. This excerpt was written by His son:

“He upraised this standard of the oneness of humanity in prison. When subjected to banishment by two kings, while a refugee from enemies of all nations and during the days of His long imprisonment He wrote to the kings and rulers of the world in words of wonderful eloquence, arraigning them severely and summoning them to the divine standard of unity and justice. He exhorted them to peace and international agreement, making it incumbent upon them to establish a board of international arbitration—that from all nations and governments of the world there should be delegates selected for a congress of nations which should constitute a universal arbitral court of justice to settle international disputes. He wrote to Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Germany, Napoleon III of France and others, inviting them to world unity and peace. Through a heavenly power He was enabled to promulgate these ideals in the Orient. Kings could not withstand Him. They endeavored to extinguish His light but served only to increase its intensity and illumination. While in prison He stood against the Shah of Persia and Sultan of Turkey and promulgated His teachings until He firmly established the banner of truth and the oneness of humankind. I was a prisoner with Him for forty years until the Young Turks of the Committee of Union and Progress overthrew the despotism of Abdu’l-Hamid, dethroned him and proclaimed liberty. This committee set me free from tyranny and oppression; otherwise, I should have been in prison until the days of my life were ended.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 203

Please leave your thoughts and feelings in the Comments !

Subscribe to the Comments
Like this Blog?
Get a Free RSS Subscription
For Email Subscriptions, Contact Me At amzolt{at}gmail{dot}com

Where’s The Party ?

Today I’ll look at the mechanics of the American presidential election but also elections, in general, from the global perspective.

From OneWorld.Net: Amnesty Int’l Focuses on Americans’ Voting Rights
“Under Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to participate in government and open elections…”
“Amnesty and other groups taking part in the voter registration drive fear that millions of Americans may not be able to cast their ballots in the presidential polls if certain shortcomings in the current electoral system are not addressed before the presidential polls in November.”

From The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

From About.com-US Government Info: The Electoral College System
“When you vote for a presidential candidate you are really voting to instruct the electors from your state to cast their votes for the same candidate.”
“Each elector gets one vote.”
“While the state electors are ‘pledged’ to vote for the candidate of the party that chose them, nothing in the Constitution requires them to do so.”
“Critics of the Electoral College system, of which there are more than a few, point out that the system allows the possibility of a candidate actually losing the nationwide popular vote, but being elected president by the electoral vote. Can that happen? Yes, and it has.”

Hmmm… Government of, by, and for the People? The U.S. population is a bit over 301 million people; the Electoral College system has 538 people . . .

It could be argued that the United States election process is the best possible system. It could also be argued that the moon is made of green cheese.

My Faith counsels us to “…obey the government under which [we] live…”, it also counsels that people should “under no circumstances suffer their inner religious beliefs and convictions to be violated and transgressed by any authority whatever.”

Tough call, eh? No matter what I think about the government and its procedures, I should obey it, yet never abandon my inner convictions.

It may sound totally ridiculous yet, in my opinion, it’s based on the principle that not resisting the wrong will make it stand out all the more. If we argue and contend, we muddy the issues. If the issues are muddy, how can we clearly decide what will actually work. If we obey a wrong decision we can aid a process that will make it utterly, clearly wrong. Then, clear corrections can happen.

Some may say, “Who me suffer, just to aid some distant, just decision?”

Well… What if the distant, just decision aids your children or grandchildren?

Unbelievably, that’s a tough call for some folk . . .

“…we are concerned at the lack of leadership over a wide spectrum of human affairs. At national, regional, and international levels, within communities and in international organizations, in governments and in non-governmental bodies, the world needs credible and sustained leadership.
‘It needs leadership that is proactive, not simply reactive, that is inspired, not simply functional, that looks to the longer term and future generations for whom the present is held in trust. It needs leaders made strong by vision, sustained by ethics, and revealed by political courage that looks beyond the next election.’
“This cannot be leadership confined within domestic walls. It must reach beyond country, race, religion, culture, language, life-style. It must embrace a wider human constituency, be infused with a sense of caring for others, a sense of responsibility to the global neighborhood.”

Report of the Commission on Global Governance, Our Global Neighborhood. (New York: Oxford University Press. 1995.) p.353.
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

Please leave your thoughts and feelings in the Comments !

Subscribe to the Comments
Like this Blog?
Get a Free Subscription !

Money To Burn


CNN: Zimbabwe introduces $100 billion banknotes
Each bill “…can buy only four oranges. The new note is equal to just one U.S. dollar.”
“…the official inflation rate now at 2.2 million percent.”
“The new bills are actually bearer checks and have an expiration date of December 31.”

BBC: Zimbabwe introduces Z$100bn note
“Zimbabwe’s meltdown has left at least 80% of the population in poverty, facing mass shortages of basic goods.”
From a resident: “So Z$100 billion can’t do anything because for me to go home I need Z$250 billion, so this [note] is worthless.”
“Zimbabwe was once one of the richest countries in Africa.”

Stunning in its sadness and surrealism . . .

What causes such gross failure?

Why does it seem the haves could care less about the have-nots?

What does it take for people to realize that we’re all people?

Ever wonder how long the masses are going to take these sinister lies they’re being told?

Of course, making people starve is a very old technique used by oppressors. The oppressors don’t even have to live in the same country as the sufferers, especially in our global home.

Makes me want to cry . . .

“The dragon, symbol of heaven, comes to fight the false dragon that symbolized the inflation of the earth principle.”
I Ching

“Nations, though exhausted and disillusioned, have seemingly begun to cherish anew the spirit of revenge, of domination, and strife. Peoples, convulsed by economic upheavals, are slowly drifting into two great opposing camps with all their menace of social chaos, class hatreds, and worldwide ruin. Races, alienated more than ever before, are filled with mistrust, humiliation and fear, and seem to prepare themselves for a fresh and fateful encounter. Creeds and religions, caught in this whirlpool of conflict and passion, appear to gaze with impotence and despair at this spectacle of unceasing turmoil.”
Shoghí Effendí, Bahá’í Administration, p. 67

“Today, the agency on whom has devolved the task of creating this framework and of liberating the promotion of human rights from those who would exploit it is the system of international institutions born out of the tragedies of two ruinous world wars and the experience of worldwide economic breakdown. Significantly, the term ‘human rights’ has come into general use only since the promulgation of the United Nations Charter in 1945 and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights three years later. In these history-making documents, formal recognition has been given to respect for social justice as a correlative of the establishment of world peace. The fact that the Declaration passed without a dissenting vote in the General Assembly conferred on it from the outset an authority that has grown steadily in the intervening years.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Mar 03, The Prosperity of Humankind

Please leave your thoughts and feelings in the Comments !

~~~~~~~~~
Like this post? Get More!
Subscribe to this blog.

Sweet Words Are Crying Out For Potent Action

//www.heuschnupfen-infos.de/images/teardrop.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

image credit

Check out our most recent posts!

Working hard to be a lot nicer–in this blog and in my daily life–not just courteous and kind but proactively NICE {“refined or virtuous”}. So, since I’m building up to May15th and Bloggers Unite for Human Rights, here’s a sneak preview.


“On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears [below]…. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and ‘to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.'”

Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the
equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human
family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in
the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights
have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the
conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which
human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and
freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the
highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled
to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against
tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be
protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of
friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the
Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human
rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person
and in the equal rights of men and women and have
determined to promote social progress and better
standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to
achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the
promotion of universal respect for and observance of
human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights
and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full
realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims
THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN
RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all
peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual
and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration
constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education
to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by
progressive measures, national and international, to secure
their universal and effective recognition and observance,
both among the peoples of Member States themselves and
among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity
and rights. They are endowed with reason and
conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set
forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any
kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion,
political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no
distinction shall be made on the basis of the political,
jurisdictional or international status of the country
or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be
independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any
other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security
of person.

Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and
the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere
as a person before the law.

Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without
any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
All are entitled to equal protection against any
discrimination in violation of this Declaration and
against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the
competent national tribunals for acts violating the
fundamental rights granted him by the constitution
or by law.

Article 9.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention
or exile.

Article 10.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public
hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in
the determination of his rights and obligations and
of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the
right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty
according to law in a public trial at which he has
had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on
account of any act or omission which did not constitute
a penal offence, under national or international law, at
the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier
penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable
at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference
with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor
to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone
has the right to the protection of the law against such
interference or attacks.

Article 13.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement
and residence within the borders of each state.
2) Everyone has the right to leave any country,
including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy
in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of
prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political
crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and
principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality
nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation
due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to
marry and to found a family. They are entitled to
equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at
its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free
and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group
unit of society and is entitled to protection by society
and the State.

Article 17.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone
as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to
change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone
or in community with others and in public or private,
to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice,
worship and observance.

Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold
opinions without interference and to seek, receive
and impart information and ideas through any media
and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful
assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the
government of his country, directly or through freely
chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public
service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the
authority of government; this will shall be expressed
in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by
universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by
secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to
social security and is entitled to realization, through
national effort and international co-operation and
in accordance with the organization and resources
of each State, of the economic, social and cultural
rights indispensable for his dignity and the free
development of his personality.

Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice
of employment, to just and favourable conditions
of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the
right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and
favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and
his family an existence worthy of human dignity,
and supplemented, if necessary, by other means
of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade
unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including
reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic
holidays with pay.

Article 25.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living
adequate for the health and well-being of himself
and of his family, including food, clothing, housing
and medical care and necessary social services, and
the right to security in the event of unemployment,
sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack
of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special
care and assistance. All children, whether born in or
out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education
shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental
stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.
Technical and professional education shall be made
generally available and higher education shall be
equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development
of the human personality and to the strengthening of
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship
among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall
further the activities of the United Nations for the
maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind
of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the
cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and
to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the
moral and material interests resulting from any
scientific, literary or artistic production of which
he is the author.

Article 28.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international
order in which the rights and freedoms set forth
in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which
alone the free and full development of his personality
is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms,
everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are
determined by law solely for the purpose of securing
due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms
of others and of meeting the just requirements of
morality, public order and the general welfare in
a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be
exercised contrary to the purposes and principles
of the United Nations.

Article 30.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as
implying for any State, group or person any right
to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed
at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms
set forth herein.

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF
HUMAN RIGHTS

Please leave your thoughts and feelings in the Comments !

Like this post? Get More!
Subscribe to this blog.