International Day of Democracy 2014

15 September 2014

15 Sep is International Day of Democracy, as observed by the United Nations.

On this International Day of Democracy, it is prudent to take stock of the state of democracy in Singapore.

Since the last election, which was seen to be a watershed, there has been a proliferation of views from a wide range of people and groups. This is a heartening sign for the health of our democracy.

Many of these views are aired online. Needless to say, the internet is going to play a big part in shaping the issues to be contested in the next election.

Facebook, online news sites and blogs are all exceptional tools that have democratised information and people’s right to share their views.

MARUAH, a human rights organisation, is very encouraged by this level of democratisation, which has raised awareness on important social issues and highlighted the work done by many non-governmental organisations and concerned citizens.  Read the rest of this entry »


MARUAH condemns the actions of ISIS

13 September 2014

This letter was sent to ST Forum on 5 Sep 2014, but was not published.

The Forum Page Editor
The Straits Times

Dear Sir

MARUAH, a human rights organization, refers to the article Obama Vows to Degrade and Destroy ISIS Militants (ST September 4, 2014) and is deeply worried about ISIS’s escalating use of fear tactics to promote its extremist agenda. The brutal beheadings of journalists Mr Steven Sotloff and Mr James Foley are acts that shock the conscience of mankind. Our deepest condolences to the families of the journalists and the people of America.

ISIS has sought to market that shock and cheapen our conscience by filming and sharing the beheadings. These videos were intended to be seen and, of course, reported. The journalist compatriots of Steven Sotloff and James Foley, no doubt, have a duty to report the facts of the beheadings, despite the ethical implications of their reports on violence and turmoil.

After James Foley’s death, the New York Post ran a picture of his beheading and a sensationalist headline as its front page story. New York Post was roundly condemned not just by concerned citizens but by other newspapers as well.

Such sensationalist spectacles not only create an audience for ISIS but also belittle the memory of journalists who are unjustly murdered. If we are to be humane and respect the memory of the dead, we have to extend the right to privacy and freedom from attacks upon one’s honour – ensconced in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – to them as well.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in line with Resolution 29 “Condemnation of Violence Against Journalists” spoke out against ISIS’s murder of Steven Sotloff. Similarly, United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, has sought to hold ISIS accountable “no matter how long it takes.”

We, as citizens from all over the world, can do our part in curbing the influence of ISIS by refusing to view and share the exploitative videos. When we view and share these videos, whether intentionally or not, we validate the terror tactics of ISIS.

Let us not feed a theatre of cruelty.

MARUAH would like to state categorically that ISIS as an organization deserves our condemnation and these acts of theirs to resolve deep-seated issues of beliefs and faiths are cheap, sensational, exploitative, cruel, barbaric and cowardly. There is no heroism here.

Mr Simon Vincent,
Member, Youth Group
MARUAH


Opening Statement by new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

8 September 2014

The new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has made his opening statement at the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council.

“The mandate of my Office encompasses all human rights, for all people. Its priorities span discrimination; the rule of law and ending impunity; poverty; violence; continuing efforts to improve international human rights mechanisms; and widening the democratic space. In recent months, OHCHR’s concerns have been numerous. They have included severe acts of discrimination in many regions; widespread violations of economic and social rights due to failures of governance and other concerns; apparent violations of human rights in the context of counter-terrorism; sexual violence; attacks motivated by stereotypes and hatred of many kinds; over-incarceration; the death penalty, and many other issues”

See link below for the full statement.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14998&LangID=E


Advocacy awards for 10 groups, individuals

4 September 2014

Ten individuals and organisations who made major contributions to the growth of civil society in Singapore in the last three years were honoured at the inaugural Singapore Advocacy Awards.

They are, in alphabetical order:
ACRES (animal welfare organisation)
All Things Bukit Brown (heritage preservation movement)
Braema Mathi (human rights advocate)
Chan Li Shan (mental health advocate)
Damien Chng (second chances advocate)
Eugene Tay (environmental sustainability advocate)
Jeremy Boo and Lee Xian Jie (social issue filmmakers)
Louis Ng (animal welfare advocate)
M Ravi (human rights lawyer)
Pink Dot (freedom to love movement)

Braema Mathi and Louis Ng both won the “Advocate of the Year” award. Read the rest of this entry »


UN Sec-Gen report on Responsibility to Protect

24 August 2014

The United Nations secretary-general has issued a report that outlines the ways in which national, regional and international actors can assist States in fulfilling their responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

The report can be downloaded at the link below.
http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A%2F68%2F947


TOC report on MARUAH event “Pulp Friction”

6 August 2014

Please see link below for a media report by The Online Citizen (TOC) on MARUAH’s recent event on our right to information and freedom of expression.

http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/08/pulp-friction-challenging-norms-and-legislation/

Are we muzzled? Are we getting access to information? Can we cope with diversity of views? What is the role of public institutions like the National Library Board? Who are they supposed to serve and how? How do we ensure that our personal values also have a space in secular Singapore?

These were some of the questions that arose from the recent near-pulping of two library book titles that were deemed to contain “non-pro-family” content, which MARUAH, a human rights NGO in Singapore, attempted to answer by organising a forum last Sunday, titled “Pulp Friction: Our Right to Information and Right to Expression”…


PULP FRICTION: Our Right To Information & Right To Expression

20 July 2014

pulp friction
Are we muzzled?
Are we getting access to information?
Can we cope with a diversity of views?

What is the role of public institutions like our Library?
Who are they supposed to serve and how?
How do we ensure that our personal values also have a space in secular Singapore?

MARUAH is organising a forum discussion on the topic:

PULP FRICTION: Our Right To Information & Right To Expression

Our panelists will give you a comprehensive take on the right to information and expression. They will share thoughts on the recent NLB saga, governance of the Arts and how we need to look at Conflicts in other countries.

Come and be a part of this important conversation.

Event Details:
Date: 3rd August 2014 (Sunday)
Time: 5pm to 7pm
Venue: Blk 231 Bain Street
#04-41 Bras Bash Complex
Singapore 180231
Directions

To register for this event please click the link below.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGxvZGVWWkxka0hjNS1iTXpPY0ZQNGc6MA


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