Human Rights

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Three strikes in four years finally got the point across: the Immokalee farm workers were no longer going to stand for conditions of slavery and low wages. In 1995, 3,000 workers started their protest by collaborating together in a general labor strike. The following year, a worker was beaten for leaving the fields to get a drink of water, and the second strike began with the slogan, “To beat one is to beat all of us.”  Finally, in 1999 a third strike commenced.

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Imagine being a member of the United States Armed Forces, making sacrifices everyday to protect your country and the freedom that it stands for. Now imagine after of years of dedicated and honorable service, being discharged from the Armed Forces because of your sexual orientation. This is the story of Air Force Major Mike Almy, who served in the United States Air Force for thirteen years, six of these years in Iraq.

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Across the world, millions are subjected to physical and psychological torture and other forms of politically motivated violence and abuse. Now more than ever, The United States has become a safe escape for these victims of torture. The United States government estimates that over 500,000 immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the United States have been victims of politically motivated torture. According to the United States government, these survivors have come to the United States from Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

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It has been five years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Sadly, five years later, devastation continues to manifest itself throughout the ravaged city. In May, Amnesty International released a new report detailing the numerous human rights violations suffered by the people of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck land in 2005.

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Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the relationship between the general public and Arab Americans has changed dramatically. Prior to 9/11, Arab Americans had relatively similar experiences to those of other immigrant groups in the United States, and were recognized by many as being a politically, economically, and spiritually diverse group.

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Tragedy has swept the United States with the recent teenage suicides linked to anti-gay harassment. Students at Rutgers University in New Jersey are currently mourning the death of Tyler Clementi; a freshman who jumped off of the George Washington Bridge on September 22 after his roommate posted a video on the internet of Tyler having a sexual encounter with a man.

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I had been to New York City before, enough times to consider myself more knowledgeable than the average tourist. After all, I have seen the Empire State Building, been to Times Square, and walked through Central Park. Hey, I can even work the subway system. I thought that I knew NYC.

I didn’t. New York City is more than beautiful clothes and people, as I quickly discovered during a trip there for serving the homeless. The trip was undoubtedly an eye-opener about the degree of homelessness and also, poignantly, about myself.

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 There are an estimated 27 million individuals worldwide who are currently victims of human trafficking, according to Kevin Bales, an expert on human trafficking. According to the United Nations organization Economic and Social Commision for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), human trafficking is defined as the circumstance in which someone is held against their will through force, fraud, or coercion without being able to freely leave the situation; it is quite literally modern-day slavery.

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Imagine if suddenly your school banned the wearing of pants on school grounds. They gave you plenty of notice to prepare for the transition—to grow comfortable with the humiliating sensation of walking around… pant-less. To many students in France, these feelings of embarrassment and indecency would not be entirely unfamiliar.

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In a region once called the most beautiful place on earth, social and political turmoil have led to dramatic abuses of human rights. According to a 2008 Worldfocus report, 20,000 deaths in Kashmir have been officially accounted for, but human rights organizations estimate that up to 70,000 people have died and 8,000 have “disappeared.” Around 1,000 bodies have been found in mass graves in Kashmir Valley, according to Haley Duschinski, who has conducted extensive research on the Kashmir conflict.

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