Meditation Focus #46
The Need For Greater Compassion Towards All Our Fellow Human Beings
Web posted on September 1, 2001 for the 2 consecutive weeks
beginning Sunday, September 2, 2001
What follows is the 46th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, September 2, 2001.
THE NEED FOR GREATER COMPASSION TOWARDS ALL OUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
4. Special Focus of Attention on Afghanistan
5. Peace Watch for the Middle East
Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance attack the most basic notion of human rights that everyone is equal in dignity and worth. Yet they occur in every country of the world. According to William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, "Racism has been at the core of some of the most horrific human rights violations that the world has witnessed since the United Nations' last major focus on race in the 1960s. Yet there is still no consensus on how to address this rampant plague." As people around the world currently hear brief news report about the U.N. World Conference on these crucial issues (held in Durban, South Africa from 31 August to 7 September 2001 where 6,000 representatives from 166 countries are now gathered), we may begin to grasp the enormity of the difficulties experienced by millions of our brothers and sisters whose human rights are violated every day for a wide variety of reasons, all basically having to do with the lack of compassion for others. Some of these human rights were violated centuries ago - over 12 million Africans were shipped to north and south America, often in chains, during the some 400 years in which the trade flourished - yet their legacy of racial discrimination still endure today. According to Gerald LeMelle, AIUSA Deputy Executive Director for Advocacy and a delegate to the conference, "Racism exists in virtually every nation in the world and therefore contributes to the denial of human rights to millions of people. To effectively work for a global solution to this problem, nations must first address the issue at home." In much of Asia and parts of Africa racism has become coterminous with caste in the definition and exclusion of distinct population groups distinguished by their descent. Express recognition is required that caste-based discrimination bars millions from the exercise of their civil and political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
Throughout the world, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and internally displaced persons are the victims of racial discrimination, racist attacks, xenophobia and ethnic intolerance. Racism is both a cause and a product of forced displacement, and an obstacle to its solution. In 2000, some 150 million migrants were living outside their countries of birth. Of these, some 50 million people were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, and human rights violations. Criminal justice has an enormous potential for unjustified discriminatory effect. According to the Amnesty International report, the effects of racism in the United States are particularly acute in the criminal justice system. African Americans and other minorities suffer disproportionate rates of incarceration, accounting for 60 percent of the 1.7 million people currently in jail or prison in the US. African American men are imprisoned at more than eight times the rate of white men, and one-third of all young African American men are in jail or prison, on parole, or on probation. African American women are imprisoned at eight times, and Hispanic women at four times, the rate of white women. The scope of today's global human rights problems far exceeds the capacity of global institutions to address them. The problem is most acute in the global economy, where a disturbing institutional void frequently leaves human rights standards unenforced. But the problem also arises as the world struggles to stop mass atrocities, protect the victims of these crimes, rebuild their countries, and bring their persecutors to justice. In each case, a more interconnected and seemingly smaller world rightfully feels a greater responsibility to respond. Yet the capacity to meet these demands has not kept up with the challenges.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks to contribute in faciliting the experience and actual expression of compassion in the hearts and minds of every human being on Earth. Enfold the entire planet and all its inhabitants in the growing awareness that we all form One Human Family and that if we all share the most precious gift of Life, it is in order to grow spiritually and manifest unconditional Love and compassion, no matter the circumstamces, in all we think, say and do, for the Highest Good of All.
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation to the healing of the Earth as a whole. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage * 8:00 AM -- Los Angeles * 9:00 AM -- Mexico City, San Salvador & Denver * 10:00 AM -- Houston * & Chicago * 11:00 AM -- Santo Domingo, La Paz, Caracas, New York *, Toronto *. Montreal *, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 AM -- Halifax *, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 1:00 PM -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 4 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, London *, Dublin * & Lisbon * 5:00 PM -- Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Geneva *, Rome *, Berlin *, Paris * & Madrid * 6:00 PM -- Ankara *, Athens *, Helsinki * & Istanbul * & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Baghdad *, Moscow * 8:00 PM -- Tehran * 8:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 PM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington +4:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/full.html to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.
3. MORE INFORMATION ON THIS MEDITATION FOCUS
This section is for those who wish to understand in more details the situation outlined in this Meditation Focus. For those who wish to read on, we would encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. We provide the details below because we recognize that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.
You may want to see first the UN Web page at http://www.un.org/WCAR/ where you can read about the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa -- 31 August - 7 September 2001
Basic information at http://www.un.org/WCAR/e-kit/backgrounder1.htm
Trafficking in women and children at http://www.un.org/WCAR/e-kit/issues.htm
Migration and discrimination at http://www.un.org/WCAR/e-kit/migration.htm
Gender and racial discrimination at http://www.un.org/WCAR/e-kit/gender.htm
Racism against indigenous people at http://www.un.org/WCAR/e-kit/indigenous.htm
Protection of minorty rights at http://www.un.org/WCAR/e-kit/minority.htm
and much much more...
U.N. Race Conference Racked by Middle East Tension
(Reuters) - Middle East tensions threatened to sink a U.N. conference against racism on Saturday despite pleas by Nelson Mandela to seize the chance to end the contagion of discrimination. Mandela, the father of South Africa's multi-racial democracy, made an impassioned call for delegates to put aside differences.
Mandela, the father of South Africa's multi-racial democracy, made an impassioned call for delegates to put aside differences and act to rid the world of a disease that was an ''ailment of the mind and the soul.''
``It kills many more than any contagion. It dehumanizes anyone it touches,'' the 83-year-old former South African President said in a recorded speech to the second day of the U.N. Conference Against Racism.
ANNAN EXPRESSES CONCERN
U.N. General-Secretary Kofi Annan warned rows over the Middle East -- Arab states want a condemnation of Israel included in the final declaration -- and controversy over how to handle the historic issue of slavery threatened the conference.
African and Caribbean states want a formal apology and some countries are pressing for financial reparations. ``The conference has given the world an opportunity to face the issue of racism squarely. But two issues threaten consensus -- the Middle East and slavery,'' Annan told a news conference shortly before he left Durban for Kinshasa.
The draft declaration does not equate the Israeli doctrine of Zionism with racism but it says: ``Foreign occupation founded on settlements...(is) a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity.''
The United States, Canada and Israel have only junior level delegations at the conference, attended by some 6,000 delegates from 166 countries, in protest at what they see as anti-Israeli bias. Washington has warned it could withdraw altogether before the conference closes on September 7 unless the offending language is removed.
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Africa's most populous state, said an apology was the only way to heal the wound left by the human trafficking. Over 12 million Africans were shipped to north and south America, often in chains, during the some 400 years in which the trade flourished until the 19th century.
``We must demonstrate the political will and assume the responsibility for the historical wrong that is owed to the victims of slavery,'' Obasanjo told the conference.
The United States and the European countries are wary of offering too explicit an apology for fear of legal litigation and have rejected any notion of reparations.
Outside the conference hall in central Durban, a crowd several thousand strong chanted pro-Palestinian slogans.
U.N. Conference on Racism Opens
Despites Leaders' Calls for Unity, Mideast Divisions Dominates
DURBAN, South Africa, Aug. 31 -- Representatives of 166 nations gathered here today to launch an ambitious U.N. conference on combating racism and discrimination. But divisions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict threatened to undermine the meeting, and conference organizers pleaded with participants not to let that happen.
Welcoming the delegates, South African President Thabo Mbeki spoke confidently of their common resolve to "ensure that every human being leads a life of dignity," and that no one should be "despised" or impoverished, denied statehood or turned into a "permanent refugee," simply "because they are not white."
The goal of the week-long conference in Durban's sleek convention center, planned for well over a year, is to identify the sources and victims of racism and discrimination in contemporary life and to recommend ways for governments, civic groups and international organizations to prevent and combat them.
The meeting's writ is so broad that it has attracted an extraordinary variety of minority groups, who traveled here this week to promote their causes. They include Indian untouchables, HIV/AIDS patients, South African Bushmen, Tibetan refugees, Afro-Latinos and European Roma, or gypsies.
But inside and outside the convention center, the first day of the U.N. conference was dominated by the divisiveness and finger-pointing over the Middle East that already have prompted the United States, Canada and Israel to decline to send high-level delegations. In fact, only a few heads of state are attending, mostly from African countries, and many are from states that have questionable records on discrimination and human rights. They include the leaders of Algeria, Togo, Rwanda and Gabon, as well as Bosnia and Cuba.
In his opening remarks, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan urged conference participants to refrain from "mutual accusations" and instead to unite against all forms of discrimination. He said that as victims of anti-Semitism in history, "many Jews deeply resent any accusation of racism" on the part of Israel, but that the "wrongs" done to Palestinians also should not be ignored. "Mutual accusations are not the purpose of this conference," Annan said. "Rather than pick on any one country, let us admit that all countries have issues of racism and discrimination to address."
Amnesty International Urges U.S. to Recommit to Addressing Racism During U.N. Conference
Organization Will Challenge all Nations to Combat Discrimination that Fosters Human Rights Violations
(Washington, DC) - As the World Conference against Racism opens, Amnesty International USA's delegation pledged to press the United States government to combat racism more aggressively at home and to urge participants to reduce racism and the resulting human rights violations it spawns globally.
"Racism has been at the core of some of the worst horrific human rights violations that the world has witnessed since the United Nations' last major focus on race in the 1960s," said William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. "Yet there is still no consensus on how to address this rampant plague."
In its recent report, Racism and the Administration of Justice, Amnesty International called on governments to adopt national strategies and plans of action to combat all forms of racism and to include specific measures addressing the administration of justice. Key proposals included:
- Ratifying without reservations international human rights treaties and cooperating with international monitoring bodies;
- Ensuring that national laws prohibit all forms of discrimination and provide effective protection against racism; and
- Identifying and eliminating all forms of institutionalized racism.
Many Causes Set Tone for U.N. Summit On Racism
Full Coverage at http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/World/United_Nations/
Also highly recommended: the Human Rights Watch information on this UN Summit at http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/race/
... where you will find...
World Conference Against Racism Backgrounder, July 28, 2001
HRW Submission to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, June 22, 2001
Biographies of the Human Rights Watch delegation to the World Conference Against Racism
Discrimination by reason of caste
In much of Asia and parts of Africa racism has become coterminous with caste in the definition and exclusion of distinct population groups distinguished by their descent. Despite formal protections in law, discriminatory treatment remains endemic and discriminatory societal norms continue to be reinforced by government structures ranging from the police and the lower courts to state and municipal authorities. Express recognition is required that caste-based discrimination bars millions from the exercise of their civil and political, and their economic, social, and cultural rights a precondition for international programs to support the abolition of caste discrimination and to remedy abuses.
Caste: Asia's Hidden Apartheid
HRW Press Kit
Draft Resolution on Discrimination Based on Work and Descent
May 12, 2001
Caste Discrimination: A Global Concern
HRW Report, August 29, 2001
End Global Caste Discrimination Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Human Rights Watch today called for an end to caste-based discrimination around the world. Press Release, March 21, 2001
End Caste Discrimination
HRW Special Focus Page
Discrimination in the Determination of Nationality and Citizenship Rights
Millions of people have been denied or stripped of citizenship in their own countries solely because of their race, national descent, and gender. In many countries, children born in their mothers country are denied her nationality because women can not transmit nationality. These citizens without citizenship are denied a broad range of civil and political, and economic, social and cultural rights.
Nationality and Statelessness
HRW Press Kit
The Rights of Migrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers
Throughout the world, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and internally displaced persons are the victims of racial discrimination, racist attacks, xenophobia and ethnic intolerance. Racism is both a cause and a product of forced displacement, and an obstacle to its solution. In 2000, some 150 million migrants were living outside their countries of birth. Of these, some 50 million people were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, and human rights violations. Industrialized states have introduced a barrage of restrictive policies and practices over the past decade targeting asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants. Even traditionally generous host countries in the developing world, often over-burdened with their own social and economic problems, have become increasingly reluctant to host large refugee populations.
Press kit on refugees, migrants and racism - August 2001
Protecting the Human Rights of Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons Suggested Language from Human Rights Watch) August 6, 2001
Racism and Refugees: HRW Contribution to the World Conference Against Racism
A Critique of Elements of the Draft Declaration and Programme of Action - May 2001
Racism, Refugees and Migrants: HRW Contribution to the European Conference Against Racism
Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Internally Displaced Persons
HRW Special Focus Page
Discrimination in Criminal Justice
Criminal justice has an enormous potential for unjustified discriminatory effect. At the national or local level discrimination can arise from practices with racist intent, like racial profiling, in which an individuals presumed race is the determining factor in placing them under suspicion. The mechanisms of criminal justice can equally result in unjustified discriminatory effect where there is no clear racist intent. Discriminatory impact can be shown in patterns of police abuse, arbitrary arrest, incarceration, prosecution, and sentencing. The de facto denial of remedies to particular groups within a criminal justice system or the disparate effect of de jure disenfranchisement of members of a particular group may be evidence of unjustified racial discrimination regardless of the intent of lawmakers and public officials.
Racism and the Administration of Justice
HRW Press Kit
Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs
Reparations for Slavery and Segregation
Groups that suffer today because of slavery or other severe racist practices should be compensated by governments responsible for these practices. Human Rights Watch is calling for the creation of national and international panels to identify and acknowledge past abuses and to guide action to counter their present-day effect. The panels should aim to reveal the extent to which a governments past racist practices contribute to contemporary deprivation, domestically and abroad. Reparations for past abuse should focus first on groups that continue to suffer the most severe hardships. A primary purpose of reparations would be to address the social and economic foundations of todays victims continuing marginalizationthrough means such as investment in education, housing, health care, or job training.
An Approach to Reparations
Human Rights Watch Position Paper - July 19, 2001
Reparations Urged for Slavery, Segregation
Press Release - July 19, 2001
Other Human Rights Watch contributions to the World Conference Against Racism fora:
Statements by Human Rights Watch to the Inter-Sessional Working Group for the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance
Human Rights Watch World Report 2001 "Racial Discrimination and related Intolerance"
Statement by Human Rights Watch to the First Preparatory Committee
May 1-5, 2000
Recent Press releases
Global Caste Discrimination, August 29, 2001
Côte d'Ivoire: Politicians Incite Ethnic Conflict, August 28, 2001
Anti-Racism Summit Needs Concrete Results, August 27, 2001
South Africa: Racism Plagues Response to Rural Crime, August 22, 2001
See also the excellent and most comprehensive Human Rights Watch World Report 2001
Here is the Introduction from: http://www.hrw.org/wr2k1/intro/index.html
This introduction to Human Rights Watch's annual World Report describes this weakness in the institutional capacity to address the global human rights challenges of our time. It highlights the enforcement gap for issues of human rights in the global economy. It discusses the inadequate resources given to the United Nations to assume its assigned tasks of keeping the peace and assisting war-torn nations with national reconstruction. And it describes the recent strides taken toward a new institutional justice system for the world's worst human rights criminals but laments the U.S. government's persistent refusal to countenance U.S. nationals being held to the same standards as the rest of the world.
This report--Human Rights Watch's eleventh annual review of human rights practices around the globe--covers developments in seventy countries. CLIP
Highlights of the year include, on the positive side, the popular rebellion against the Milosevic regime in Yugoslavia, the conclusion of a treaty barring the use of children as soldiers, and the U.N. Commission on Human Rights's first formal criticism of a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council (Russia, for its abuses in Chechnya). On the negative side, the U.N. Human Rights Commission refused yet again to condemn China for its relentless suppression of political opposition, the U.S. government failed to abide by conditions included in a major military aid package to Colombia that would have required the Colombian army to sever its ties with paramilitaries, and there was a growing crisis in the world's response to refugees and asylum-seekers and persistently inadequate protection for the internally displaced.
4. Special Focus of Attention on Afghanistan
As an example of a place of Earth - amongst dozens of others - where people must endure considerable harsdhip, Afghan people deserves a special attention because of the scope, severity and lenght of their ordeal.
The following petition has been widely circulated on the Internet over the past couple years and you may have already seen it. Although the signatures collected through this petition are no longer accepted by those who were supposed to collect them [more details on this at http://www.brandeis.edu/unet/updates.html], its wide dissemination certainly had an impact because millions of people have seen it. It may be worth reading it again so as to keep in mind the terrible situation of women in Afghanistan, now aggravated by the drought, hunger and difficulties encountered by humanitarian NGOs to assist the Afghan people in their time of greatest need.
More details in "Religious Arrests Shake Afghan Aid" at http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/23/international/23AFGH.html.
You may also review our previous Meditation Focus on Afghanistan at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus34.htm
Subject: Women's Rights Petition
Petition to the United Nations
Madhu, the government of Afghanistan, is waging a war upon women. Since the Taliban took power in 1996, women have had to wear burqua and have been beaten and stoned in public for not having the proper attire, even if this means simply not having the mesh covering in front of their eyes. One woman was beaten to death by an angry mob of fundamentalists for accidentally exposing her arm while she was driving. Another was stoned to death for trying to leave the country with a man that was not a relative. Women are not allowed to work or even go out in public without a male relative - professional women such as professors, translators, doctors, lawyers, artists and writers have been forced from their jobs and restricted to their homes. Homes where a woman is present must have their windows painted so that she can never be seen by outsiders. They must wear silent shoes so that they are never heard. Women live in fear of their lives for the slightest misbehavior.
Because they cannot work, those without male relatives or husbands are either starving to death or begging in the street, even if they hold Ph.D.'s. Depression is becoming so widespread that it has reached emergency levels. There is no way in such an extreme Islamic society to know the suicide rate with certainty, but relief workers are estimating that the suicide rate among women must be extraordinarily high: those who cannot find proper medication and treatment for severe depression and would rather take their lives than live in such conditions. At one of the rare hospitals for women, a reporter found still, nearly lifeless bodies lying motionless on top of beds, wrapped in their burqua, unwilling to speak, eat, or do anything, but slowly wasting away. Others have gone mad and were seen crouched in corners, perpetually rocking or crying, most of them in fear.
It is at the point where the term human rights violations has become an understatement. Husbands have the power of life and death over their women relatives, especially their wives, but an angry mob has just as much right to stone or beat a woman, often to death, for exposing an inch of flesh or offending them in the slightest way. Women enjoyed relative freedom: to work, to dress generally as they wanted, and to drive and appear in public alone until only 1996. The rapidity of this transition is the main reason for the depression and suicides Women who were once educators or doctors or simply used to basic human freedoms are now severely restricted and treated as subhuman in the name of right-wing fundamentalist Islam.
It is not their tradition or 'culture,' but it is alien to them, and it is extreme even for those cultures where fundamentalism is the rule. Everyone has a right to a tolerable human existence, even if they are women in a Muslim country. If we can threaten military force in Kosovo the name of human rights for the sake of ethnic Albanians, citizens of the world can certainly express peaceful outrage at the oppression, murder and injustice committed against women by the Taliban.
Hundreds of thousands of people who signed this Internet petition so far agree that the current treatment of women in Afghanistan is completely UNACCEPTABLE and deserves action by the United Nations and that the current situation will not be tolerated. Women's Rights is not a small issue anywhere, and it is UNACCEPTABLE for women in 2001 to be treated as subhuman and as so much property. Equality and human decency is a fundamental RIGHT, not a freedom to be granted, whether one lives in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
Some information on effective (non-email-abuse-based) activism regarding the issues discussed in this two-year-old chain letter is available on the
Feminist Majority website at http://www.feminist.org/
and Kabultec site at http://users.erols.com/kabultec/links.html
5. Peace Watch for the Middle East
Here are some of the latest developments in the Middle East. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well.
West pushes Mid-East talks
(Friday, 31 August, 2001)
At least 10 Palestinians were injured in Friday's violence The United States and European Union are trying to build on Israel's withdrawal from Beit Jala to start new dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians, despite ongoing violence.
But just a day after Israel ended an incursion into the town, the Israeli army reportedly entered two Palestinian areas of the divided West Bank city of Hebron. The latest incursion came amid reports that both sides were preparing an agenda for a possible meeting between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
Sources close to the Italian Foreign Ministry have told correspondents that the two might meet informally next week in Cernobbio, near Milan.
Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero, who visited the Middle East last week, found Mr Peres and Mr Arafat willing to talk "based on well-prepared meetings" to be held soon, a foreign ministry statement said.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will also visit the Middle East and meet with the region's leaders on Sunday. And in Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US was encouraged by the Beit Jala understanding and hoped it would lead to security co-operation.
Attending the UN conference on racism in Durban, Mr Arafat said, "We are trying our best" to arrange a ceasefire. Meanwhile one of Arafat's lieutenants in the West Bank indicated that Mr Arafat had been the guiding force of the Palestinian intifada.
"I think that President Arafat is not only supporting the uprising, but also the leader of it," Marwan Barghouti, a leader of Mr Arafat's Fatah movement, reportedly told Israel's Channel 2.
Full coverage on the Middle East
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