Addressing Brain Drain

Commodore Bainimarama’s speech to the UN General Assembly last month:

Fiji has suffered more than 20 years of mismanagement, corruption, and nepotism. Our infrastructure, our judicial system, and our systems of accountability have all remained underdeveloped and unproductive. Many of our finest brains have left the country to migrate, because they could see no future in a country governed by ethno-nationalism, corruption and greed. In order to ensure that democracy has a real chance of survival in Fiji’s future, serious, and principled reforms must be implemented to build roads, institutions and values.

Here’s the sad thing Commodore. I am probably one of the brightest Indo-Fijians around, not to mention one of the most educated ones. And I neither chose to leave Fiji nor stay in the United States. However, how are you going to encourage people to come back and the bright minds from escaping with your dictatorial regime in place? We want to work in a democracy, not under some power-hungry demagogue.

Bainimarama: I Staged Coup to Stop Terrorists

While Lasenia Qarase and his corrupt government was nothing to extol and praise, Bainimarama labeled them as ‘terrorists’ at the United Nations General Assembly, in order to legitimise his reign:

I believe that these critics are largely unaware of the extent to which politicians, in league with those who employ terror as a tactic to push a racial supremacy and corrupt agenda, had become a threat to the safety and security of our people. Terrorism has become a global issue and it impacts Fiji as well. We are fully cooperating in the international effort to control and contain this scourge.

The full speech is here, courtesy Coup 4.5

Commodore, you are reigning over Fiji with the military, using force and terror tactics. What does that make your regime?

UN report on human rights of migrants in the United States

I do not remember the last time the United States got a pat on the back or an award for upholding human rights. Please remind me, was I in this world? If so, how young? Anyway, this time the issue of human rights of migrants and AT issue is the pro-longed stay in detention centers, inadequate appeals process … at least that is what newspapers that pick up the report are mentioning. What they are not talking about is the discussion on life on both sides of the border, on the sheer desperation that it takes to risk lives crossing the border at dangerous areas,  on the lack of protection from human smugglers, on the vulnerability of children in border areas.

Sure, not all non-citizen migrants come through Mexico, but an overwhelming majority do. It is a historical pattern of migration that the United States has been trying to curb for quite a while. I wonder what gives a country the right to “westward expansion” through mass colonization, raping, plundering and pillaging and not another country the right to at least culturally expand “northward” through sheer migration. Someone please give me a logical answer that is not ripe with hypocrisy and nationalist trash. We don’t do litter here.

Here is the UN report, that none of the newspapers have provided a link to. I detest it when reporters write about a “report” and do not document the primary source.

America blasted on Rights of Non-Citizen Migrants

U.N. investigator Jorge Bustamante was unimpressed by America's overuse of substandard detention facilties with an inadequate appeals process and called for other alternative on what he calls "non-citizen migrants" in detention.

No PERSON shall be denied the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness without due process of law — Without doubt, our most basic and fundamental rights belong to all persons and not just American citizens. It is NOT alright to hold people, especially children, in detention for years without trial, to ignore pleas from their families and communities, to overlook their basic medical needs. Why are we wasting so much money and resources on rounding up people? Is this an extension of the military-prison-industrial complex? I tend to think so. We should be building more schools, and yet, we are building more detention centers and prisons. What purpose does it serve other than to pour money into the coffers of private businesses? (See this blog post on how detention centers make more profit than prisons). I hope to do more research on this soon.

Bustamante had made similar claims in a similar report last year (see here). He noted the increased racism and xenophobia in the United State post-9-11, especially against people of Middle-Eastern and South-East Asian descent. With the economy in a state of recession, immigrants, especially migrant workers, are not being seen in a favorable light.

The United States has countered his reports with assertions that this country has the most fair and liberal immigration laws. While that may be true till further investigation, it does nothing to counter claims of migrant rights abuses. We can do much better in our treatment of immigrants, of people who look "different" from the norm, of young children who were simply brought here by their parents. We can start with passing the DREAM Act so that we can stop punishing innocent children and young adults for the crimes committed by their parents. Under what law is it just and fair for undocumented students to "do the time" for crimes and misdemeanors they did not commit?

Apparently, the United States arrogantly sees it fit to ignore its human rights abuses, while pointing fingers at human rights conditions in other countries. We must lead by example if we want to preserve respect for human rights and for ourselves.

The UN report can be accessed here.