At home with human rights

I worked from home yesterday. Yes, I know it can be a euphemism for catching up on daytime TV but I really did work from home. It was only in the evening, after Id finished my hours spent diligently at the computer, that I realised I hadnt set foot outside of the house all day. But, of course, I could have done so if Id wished. I could have gone to the paper shop, popped out to a café for my lunch or just taken a stroll around the block.

Todays papers are full of stories of two women who dont have that choice, confined under house arrest.

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has had plenty of time to become accustomed to confinement, having spent 12 of the last 18 years under house arrest. The Guardian noted this morning that while she has offered talks with Burmas military leaders, San Suu Kyi has not been released from house arrest as she was in 1996 and again in 2001. Add your voice to those calling for her release by clicking here.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan ex-PM Benazir Bhutto has suddenly had to become accustomed to house arrest. Today she tried to defy those confining her and attend a rally, only to be given a 30-day detention order. Of course, if you are already under house arrest, a detention order probably doesnt change things greatly.

The Times has a moving update to a story Ive followed with interest since watching a John Pilger TV documentary entered for Amnestys Media Awards a couple of years ago. In contrast to todays reports of politicians under house arrest, its the story of ordinary people who were evicted from their homes and have fought ever since to be allowed to return.

The Chagos islanders were evicted by the British government in the late sixties and early seventies to make way for a US military base on Diego Garcia, one of the islands in their Indian Ocean archipelago - but 150 miles away. Despite three unanimous court rulings in their favour in the last seven years, the legal process drags on. Many of the original islanders, several of whom live in Crawley having been granted British citizenship, are dying. Apparently, of 2,000 evicted just 700 are still alive and they suspect the British government is delaying things until none survives.

Its a sad story and a shameful one. The Times quotes one of the court judgements, which said that the islanders are being denied one of the most fundamental liberties known to human beings. Its time to allow them home.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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