Civilians bombed, kids detained, abuses in China: Happy Monday

The Times carries a piece today, with some harrowing footage, about an excellent Human Rights Watch report revealing that civilian killings in Afghanistan from UN and NATO air strikes have tripled I the last year. It’s a very timely piece of research, coming as the US military said last night that it would reopen an investigation into an August air strike in which the Afghan government says 90 civilians, mainly women and children, were killed.

There’s also a powerful new campaign launched in the New Statesman this week, revealing the trauma that children encounter when they are detained in immigration detention centres. The New Statesman, supported by various organisations and a smattering of celebs, is calling for the UK to stop detaining children as part of the immigration and asylum process.

There’s also still a fair bit about on China, now that the Paralympics have started (and GB has been winning some more medals). Guardian’s Comment is Free has a piece by former GB paralympian Kristina Veasey, saying that we must keep up the scrutiny of China’s human rights record. Kristina is highlighting the case of blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, locked up after he helped villagers take legal action against a policy of forced abortions and sterilisations.

CiF also carries a piece from Fu Ying, the Chinese ambassador to the UK. A lot of this is pretty reasonable to my mind – I think the Games has opened up China and helped to change people’s prejudices. Seeing Chinese people going crazy for the Olympics certainly helped to ‘humanise’ a nation that has seemed remote and alien to many westerners But Fu Ying’s piece predictably overlooks the human rights perspective: protests were quashed, the Internet was censored and promised media freedoms were not respected in the run-up to the Games and there’s precious little indication that Beijing 2008 will leave behind a lasting human rights legacy.

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