Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Human Rights Day: Phhtttt!

Isn’t it ironic that today, December 10, is Human Rights Day?

Human Rights Day is a global observance, not a national holiday, and nothing that will give kids a day off, close banks or stop your daily mail.  It was developed by the UN way back in the 1940s, following the Second World War. 

Its observance is marred today.

ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL, The United States has been disgraced by newly released reports showing that our country used torture on detainees who, it was believed, may have been involved with or had contact with those who brought about the 9/11 attack in New York.  It’s a shameful day in U.S. history.

But torture isn’t limited to just the national and international arenas.

ON THE STATE LEVEL, our office is dealing with a first-hand report from inside the women’s prison located in Ypsilanti regarding a mentally ill inmate:  The last 18 months she has been locked in an Observation Cell without showering, reading material, or any form of human contact, for mail is not allowed.  Now she is locked in a room without a mattress, for they say she tore off a string.  The food the mentally ill are served is a joke:  peanut butter/jelly sandwiches, cookies, sliced bananas, graham crackers, for EVERY MEAL for a year!  That’s cruel and unusual punishment.

And just this week we received a report

ON THE LOCAL LEVEL:    Three local police officers show up at a downstate woman's home in the evening while her children were there. They tell her she's under arrest because she has not gotten her blinker repaired in the time frame her fix-it ticket specified. (She gets paid every two weeks and was waiting for a paycheck.) The amount needed was $285. Her parents wired the money via Western Union and it arrived at 9:30 p.m. She was not released until 1:30 a.m.

The mother tells me she called the police department to make sure her daughter was there and a male officer said, "Oh, the fat lady?" The mother told the officer her daughter was diabetic and had a heart condition and asked if her daughter had her meds with her. They said not. The mother said, "You can't do that to her." The officer said, "We can do anything we want."

In jail the woman was put in a holding cell with other men and women, some bloodied from domestic and other violence. She asked for something to eat. The officer told her, "You look like you should lose some weight." She never received anything to eat -- or meds

It’s past time to sit in our easy chairs and cluck our teeth over alleged human rights violations. It’s past time to say things like that only happen in other places.  On Human Rights Day, 2014, let’s get off our duffs and say, “No more!”  Support your favorite organization that deals with these issues, and express your immediate displeasure with any and all of your elected public officials who don’t represent what you feel and believe.  Your dollars and your voices count!

1 comment:

Louise Reichert said...

AMEN, Doug! Thank you for putting into words what I have been feeling. These days this is NOT a nation of which I am proud. I am appalled, aghast, and angry. I wonder if there are any others who feel the same?