Julian Assange is the head of WikiLeaks and faces a harsh prison sentence in the USA if he were to be extradited from Britain. He released over 750,000 documents which showed corruption and human rights abuse at the hands of the American government in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as at the prison camp on Guantánamo. The documents were given to him by private Chelsea Manning, who was arrested in 2010 and served 7 years in prison. Just yesterday, a British court decided against extraditing Assange, on the grounds of his mental health. Edward Snowden is a former contractor for the National Security Agency who in 2013 transmitted to journalists 1.7 million classified documents detailing NSA online surveillance of American citizens. He was charged under the Espionage Act, but gained asylum in Russia.
So, are these people heroes or criminals? How crucial is it for a democracy to have whistleblowers? And where is the line between warning the public and exposing wrongs on the one side and breaking the law and putting your country at risk on the other? What is more important, freedom of speech and the right to privacy, or loyalty to your employer and country? And what costs does this come with for the individual who has to make that choice?
A court sketch of Julian Assange at the Old Bailey in London for the ruling in his extradition case on Monday, January 4, 2021.
You have now watched two documentaries about social media and how it can be used to influence people without them even knowing it. Write a blog post where you briefly summarize what they were about and compare the two documentaries in terms of genre and form. Which of the two did you like the best, or did you feel you learned the most from? Give reasons for your answer.
Discuss what they tell you about the issues of migration and refugees. What thoughts do these texts provoke in you?
Warshan Shire has said it is important to her to “tell the stories of those people, especially refugees and immigrants, that otherwise wouldn’t be told, or told inaccurately.” What do you think she means by this? Does she succeed in doing so with her poem? Give examples from the text. Can you find similar examples from the other text you read?
4. Immigrant Posters: Discuss these posters and the message they send:
Fighting for human rights can be very dangerous. If you are a woman fighting for human rights in a country with no respect for them, it is even more dangerous… Read these stories and reflect on the courage needed to be an activist in any form and to stand up for your right to protest…
Democracy is under pressure in many parts of the world. Take a look at this video to find out more.
Another sign of threats to the freedoms associated with democracy, is the number of journalists killed while carrying out their job. According to CPJ, Committee to Protect Journalists, 53 journalists were killed in 2018. Read about some of them here and pick one story that you share and comment on in your blog.
The Nobel Peace Prize 2018 was awarded jointly to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” We have earlier seen that Denis Mukwege has worked relentlessly for women who have been raped and sexually assaulted in conflicts in The Democratic Republic of Congo. Nadia Murad from Iraq was kept a sexual prisoners of the IS and continues to be one of the strongest spokespersons against sexualized violence. She belongs to the Yezidi minority, which you can read more about here. To learn more about her activism, read this article from the Guardian
Write a blog post where you answer the questions below. Use quotations from the book to underline your statements.
What kind of resettlement process did Baba and Amir go through when coming to the US? Did any other characters have to go through similar processes?
What did Rahim Khan mean when he told Amir “there is a way to be good again”? Is it important for Amir to “be good again?” Are we always able to reconcile with past mistakes or past human rights abuses? Does it matter if we do? Why/why not?
Baba says to Amir: “there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft… When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to her husband, his children’s right to their father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth… There is no act more wretched than stealing.” Do you agree with Baba? Why/why not? Can you think of other rights that can be violated by stealing?
In the sene where Assef attacks Hassan – what rights did he steal from Hassan?
Assed says: “Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns. It always has been, always will be. We are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, no this Flat-Nose here. His people pollute our homeland, our watan. They dirty our blood. … Afghanistan for Pashtuns, I say.” Do you recognize Assef’s attitude from people in the media, people from history etc? Who? Can Assef’s attitude lead to human rights issues, such as hate crime? How?
Baba says to Amir: “I grew up with Ali. My father took him in, loved him like his own son. Forty years Ali’s been with my family.” Yet Ali is not treated like Baba’s brother, but rather his servant. Neither Ali nor Hassed can read or write, and they eat Baba and Amir’s leftovers. Why do you think that is? How can it change? What responsibiliy do we have to try and break such norms, and how can we do that?
In two weeks, 70 years will have passed since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. The Declaration affirms an individual’s rights across 30 articles, covering a range of issues from basic rights as an individual to rights as a member of society.