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The Role of History in Unprecedented Times

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The Role of History in Unprecedented Times

It is clear that this era will take up significant space in future history textbooks. Just look at the deadly virus getting declared a pandemic following its global spread, the inhumane murder of George Floyd, the disruptive end of Trump’s presidency with the Capitol riots, the climate emergency and the conclusion of Brexit. It is safe to say that we are living in incredibly unprecedented times. Just as the significant events of the past still remain a subject of debate among historians today, the events of the present will also constitute a historiography of their own. History is everlasting because it is written and recorded as things happen. It is also reformed and developed further when historians question every thin detail of first-person narratives. History also acknowledges arguments that may be unconventional in nature because this invokes debate and expands the scale of historiography for future researchers. Certainly, it is only the consideration and interest of historians of the future who will find answers to questions the world is asking today.

Early last year, reports of a new virus originating in China began to emerge and for those first initial weeks and months, countries across the world remained unconcerned assuming the virus would not have a huge impact. Just over a year later, the same virus now widely known as the Coronavirus, has infected millions of people around the world and has led to the deaths of over two million people.[1] But the impact of Covid-19 does not stop here. In desperate efforts to control the spread of the virus, countries had to introduce restrictions which have and continue to devastate world economies. The worst affected economic sectors include the travel industry, hospitality and the retail sector. Beyond the material and physical loss, humanity also suffered psychologically as it learnt to live with enforced distance from family, friends and communities. Children of all ages were confined to their homes with a new form of learning as their schools were told to close.

Charles Rosenberg who is a historian of medicine commented on the societies that the epidemics affect arguing that in such cases, one finds an opportunity for social analysis. He stated:

“It is their public character and dramatic intensity – along with unity of place and time – that make epidemics as well suited to the concerns of moralists as to the research of scholars seeking an understanding of the relationship among ideology, social structure, and the construction of particular selves.”[2]

Recognising the historical significance of the pandemic in his view, Rob Perks, Curator for oral History at the British Library, has been working with his team to gather testimony ‘to be archived for future research’ ever since Covid-19 emerged. This has meant ‘gathering interviews with thousands of NHS workers, archiving websites, recording TV and radio channels, and collecting poetry and audio diaries, sometimes with partner organisations.’ Perks hopes that this will eventually turn into a national archive of Covid-19 and its impact on Britain which could also prove to be an ‘amazing resource’ for future researchers.

Covid-19 is not the first-time humanity has faced crisis which has made some people believe that to the future generations, it may not feel so significant and pivotal. It is true that the pandemic itself is not the only problem the world has had to confront but it cannot be ignored that the pandemic is responsible for a global health and economic crisis. There are social and political crises in several parts of the world, be it wars in the Middle East, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and Syria, the severing of international relations or the fight against social inequality and climate change. These crises are just as important and are in fact worsening even when they are not directly linked to the pandemic nor are they caused by it. Human and societal negligence has allowed deep-rooted issues to increase further while the world’s attention is solely devoted to the pandemic.

The widespread impact of the disease and all the issues facing the world and its population will have long-term political, economic and social effects. What matters then is how humanity will overcome these challenges ahead. But in the process of navigating the way out of this global crisis, the world will have little time to think about what was done right or wrong and what lessons there were to learn. This is a question that history takes up. It will be the historians who will have the benefit of evidence and hindsight that they will form conclusions to the questions asked above. This is not to say however, that humanity’s intervention today cannot change history, it surely can. As Michael Wood, Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester, says, “It’s totally in our hands.”

The world of today has become a global village. Hence, to maintain peace and stability around the globe, there are responsibilities attached for the entire mankind. If domestic and international crises are to be averted then it comes down to the world leaders and governments to enact policies that benefit their people, their country and also the wider world. If societies are to survive and prosper then the values of unity, justice, mutual respect and tolerance are vital for everyone to uphold. Consequently, for history to be kind, every individual effort must matter and count in changing today for the better, not just for us, but for everyone and everywhere.


[1] ‘Coronavirus Resource Centre’, John Hopkins’ University and Medicine <https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html> [accessed 13 February 2021]

[2] Charles E. Rosenberg, ‘What Is an Epidemic? AIDS in Historical Perspective’, The MIT Press on Behalf of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, vol. 118, no. 2, (1989), p. 2.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Historian of Modern World History, with special interest in history of modern Europe and Britain. I also have a keen interest in politics, systems of rule, international relations and current affairs.

Economics

African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo

African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo

Kenya, Gabon and Ghana are amongst the African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions as they voted against the UN Security Council renewing Western imposed sanctions regime on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on 30th June 2022. As well as these three countries, China and Russia also abstained from the vote.

The sanctions included an arms embargo, a travel ban and asset freezes, as well as the state being banned from providing weapons to non-government entities operating in the democratic Republic of Congo. One other facet of the resolution is a notification requirement which some representatives claimed served as a hindrance to the DRC’s ability to limit armed groups and defend their country. It is worth noting that the DRC has children as young as 6 working in mines for large corporations.

Gabon’s Edwige Koumby Missambo stated that the requirement impeded the Democratic Republic of Congo’s power to effectively and immediately counter the activities of anti-government armed groups, and that it should be lifted in definitive terms so the Congolese Armed Forces could defend their country. She said that the international community should respect the sovereignty of the country and put the interest of civilians first and foremost. Missambo said that, “Halting operational capacities in the area of security of a state that is led by democratically elected authorities is tantamount to giving license to armed groups whose agenda is to foment terror and chaos among civilians.”

Gideon Kinuthia Ndung’u of the Kenyan delegation, while praising the steps of the new resolution to lift the notification requirement on non-lethal military equipment used for humanitarian and training purposes, stated that it did not properly address the appeal made by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to fully lift the notification requirement. He said that there was a failure to acknowledge the recent steps that the government of the DRC had taken for better security and control of its weapons and ammunition management system.

Nicolas de Riviere of the French delegation which was the main drafter of the resolution voiced his regret that the resolution did not receive unanimous support as some African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Health

UN World Food Program Lowers Aid in South Sudan

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) recently decreased aid services in South Sudan, a major blow for the Central African country where over two-thirds of the population faces food shortages and hunger. 

“Faced with increasing humanitarian needs and insufficient funding, we have taken the painful step to suspend food assistance to 1.7 million people,” said Adeyinka Badejo-Sanogo, WFP Acting Country Director in South Sudan. Instead of assisting an estimated 6.2 million people in the country, the WFP will now only provide aid for 4.5 million. 

Large floods over the last three years have destroyed farms and homes across South Sudan, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. This year, UN officials anticipate more flooding, which will put around 600,000 people at risk of displacement. Violence in South Sudan has similarly forced many people to leave their homes, placing them in vulnerable situations. According to Ms. Badejo-Sanogo, “So far this year, we have seen 200,000 people newly displaced as a result of conflicts.”

South Sudan’s people are in a dire situation, and the international community must make greater efforts to send humanitarian aid to the country. Unfortunately, the Russia-Ukraine War has already diverted many countries’ focus, and nations are struggling with their own economic problems.

But ultimately, even if aid to South Sudan can be increased, it is only a temporary solution. Developing the infrastructure to combat flooding and quelling violence in the nation will create more sustainable long-term solutions.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

How the United States can Solve its Gun Violence Problem

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Here’s what the U.S. can learn from firearm laws in individual states and across the globe

Jasmeet Sidhu’s husband was inside a Wisconsin Gurdwara when a white supremacist entered and began firing. 

He shot ten congregants, killing six. Sidhu’s husband survived the 2012 attack, but her family was never the same. Sidhu, who’s now a senior researcher at Amnesty International USA, felt afraid whenever she took her kids to the Gurdwara after that.

Later that year, a gunman shot and killed twenty-six people, including twenty children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“I felt just shaken to my core that we can live in a country where you can send your kids to school or you go to pray or you go to a mall or you go to a movie theatre, or you send your kid to college and you never know if they’re going to come back,” Sidhu said.

The recent shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde have reignited debate about gun control  in the United States. In the aftermath of the shootings, the country took conflicting steps – the House of Representatives set a process in motion to raise the minimum age to buy some firearms, while the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that individuals can carry handguns in public. 

Where countries across the globe have tightened their laws after mass shootings, the U.S. has long been stuck in deadlock. While no gun policy is bullet-proof, experts like Sidhu say there are several models both within the United States and beyond which have proven they work.

Raising the age to buy a gun

Currently, federal U.S. law allows federally licensed dealers to sell shotguns and rifles, as well as ammunition for both, to individuals eighteen and up. Other firearms, such as handguns, and the relevant ammunition can only be sold to individuals twenty-one and older. 

That changes when the seller isn’t licensed; in other words, in private person-to-person sales. In those cases, handguns and handgun ammunition can be sold to individuals eighteen and older. As for long guns and long gun ammunition, individuals of any age can purchase them from unlicensed sellers.

In early June, after the recent mass shootings, New York also upped the minimum age for buying a semi-automatic rifle to twenty-one, joining other states including Florida, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont and Washington in doing so. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a federal bill to raise the minimum age to buy an assault rifle from eighteen to twenty-one, though the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate. 

“As we saw from the recent shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, and then the Uvalde shooting in Texas, these are individuals who waited until they were 18 and then legally went out and purchased a gun,” Sidhu said. “The problem there is that they were able to go buy a gun legally.”

“In a country where you can’t drink until you’re 21, and there’s so many restrictions on other aspects of life until you’re 21, it seems odd that you would have access to… weapons,” she added. 

Sidhu noted that the U.S. had a lot of drunk driving accidents when the drinking age was eighteen. Once the government raised the national drinking age to twenty-one, studies showed a direct reduction in drunk driving accidents by youth, according to the United States Department of Transportation. 

On the flip side, one rebuke to gun control is the argument that people who aren’t allowed to have guns will find a way to get one, says Kerri Raissian, director of the Center for Advancing Research, Methods, and Scholarship (ARMS) at the University of Connecticut.

“The fact that most of these very recent mass shooters have waited until they were 18 and actually waited until the time that they were legal, provides us some of the preliminary evidence that gun laws do work,” she said.

Raissian noted that young men are particularly at risk of homicide and of arrest for homicide, a risk that declines with age. 

After a 2002 shooting where a nineteen-year-old gunman killed sixteen people, Germany raised the age for carrying sports weapons to twenty-one, instead of eighteen. Following another shooting in 2009, the country introduced random police checks for gun owners.

Germany already had relatively low rates of gun violence in 2002, with 1.29 gun deaths per 100,000 population, according to GunPolicy.org. But after the new rules were introduced, that number dropped to 1.01 gun deaths per 100,000 population by 2018, twelve times lower than the U.S. for the same year.

Assault Weapons Ban

From 1994 to 2004, the United States had an assault weapons ban which reduced the number of mass shootings in the country, Sidhu said. The ban expired under President George W. Bush.

Though handguns are behind most gun violence, She notes that assault weapons are particularly dangerous because of their ability to do a lot of damage in a short time.

In 1987, after a gunman with two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun killed sixteen people and wounded fifteen others before killing himself in Hungerford, Britain, England banned certain semi-automatic rifles, among other restrictions. Later, after a gunman killed sixteen children and their teacher in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996, England effectively banned civilians from owning handguns. 

The rate of gun violence in Britain is quite low – in 2016, England and Wales had an annual rate of 0.15 gun deaths per 100,000 population, according to GunPolicy.org. 

Australia also banned all semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns after a mass shooting in 1996 which killed thirty-five people and injured eighteen. People surrendered guns in droves under an amnesty program. It’s estimated that the buyback cut down the number of gun-owning households by almost half, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

Similarly, after the Christchurch Mosque shooting in New Zealand where a gunman killed fifty-one people in 2019, the country banned assault weapons, as well as most semi-automatics, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatics, magazines over a certain capacity and certain shotguns. The country had 1.24 annual gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, the latest data available at GunPolicy.org.

gun control

Universal background check system

In the U.S., the Gun Control Act bans felons, individuals who’ve been dishonourably discharged from the Armed Forces and those without baseline mental capacity from owning guns, among others. Following the assassination attempt of former President Ronald Reagan in 1981, the country mandated background checks for individuals who purchased guns from federally licensed dealers.

But not much has changed since, Sidhu says.

Background checks don’t apply to non-licensed (i.e; person to person) sales or to inherited firearms. 

Raissian points to other inadequacies in the current system, noting that juvenile criminal records in some states are sealed once the offender turns eighteen, preventing adequate background checks from being performed in some cases for those who purchase a gun shortly after their 18th birthday. 

The new Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed at the end of June, introduces a more thorough review process for gun buyers under twenty-one years, including a juvenile record check.

Besides background checks, many scholars say gun owners should also be licensed, Raissian adds. Some states have introduced licensing systems, like Connecticut where gun owners must apply for a permit. In Massachusetts, police also interview applicants for a gun license.

Japan has almost no gun violence, with tight restrictions on who gets a gun. Handguns are banned, so residents can only buy limited firearms, such as shotguns and air rifles, but they have to pass multiple tests, including a mental health evaluation and background check to own a gun. In 2018, the country had 0.01 gun deaths per 100,000 people.

Red flag laws 

These laws give family and law enforcement the ability to petition a court to take an individual’s guns away for a period, if they’re seen as a threat to themselves or others.

While some states already have some version of red flag laws in place, the new Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in the U.S. offers financial incentives to states to introduce them, though it doesn’t require states to create those laws.

In May, Canada introduced a bill which would give courts the power to require individuals seen as a danger to themselves or others, to surrender their guns among other changes including a national handgun freeze and revoking firearms licenses from people involved in domestic violence or criminal harassment.

“Most mass shooters have had some violence against women in their history,” said Raissian. “We need to learn more about that connection, but it is possible that interrupting the cycle of violence (and) holding domestic abusers accountable can not only make women safer, it could make all of us safer.”

Research has shown that keeping guns away from people convicted of domestic violence reduced the number of gun homicides. It didn’t lead to an increase of homicides committed by other weapons.

“This is important to the argument that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ If that were true, we would see an increase in non-gun homicides,” Raissian added.

“But again, because guns are so effective at killing people, even if you try to kill someone with another weapon – and I don’t know if that happens or not, that’s not in the data – but even if you try, you’re just so much less likely to be successful in a homicide because guns are just very good at what they’re designed to do.”

‘Human rights begin at home’ 

There is also work to be done enforcing existing laws.

Beyond background checks at the point of sale, Raissian says there is a weakness in seizing guns from prohibited people found to be in possession of firearms.

“We could go a long way by enforcing… laws that we already have to enhance public safety,” she said. “That requires no votes in Congress.”

At the heart, experts agree that no policy will eliminate gun violence in the United States.

Raissian points to the nuances in individual states, where some have more suicide-related gun deaths compared to others where homicide plays a major role.

“America has a gun death problem, absolutely, but each state has its own version of that gun death problem,” she said.

For Sidhu, the push toward promoting gun rights is not an actual reflection of the United States constitution, but a stretch of what the Second Amendment was actually intended for. It reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” which Sidhu interprets as being primarily concerned with the right of the militia to keep and bear arms. 

But over time, it has been interpreted to mean that any individual has the right to have a gun, she says. 

school zone sign

With Ohio recently passing a law allowing teachers and other staff to carry guns at school, Sidhu adds that the mentality that the public can be better protected with more good guys with guns is “incredibly flawed.” In the Uvalde shooting, armed officers arrived at the school but were late to act, she noted.

People with inadequate gun training (the law drops training requirements from more than 700 hours to a maximum of 24) and high stress environments are likely to do more harm than good, Sidhu continues, adding that it’s not fair to expect teachers to now carry a weapon to protect their students on top of their regular jobs.

“The answer is not to give everybody in the country a gun so they can protect themselves, the answer is we need to put some common sense regulations in place to restrict the access of guns from individuals who are likely to misuse them,” she says.

“Human rights begin at home.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

Critics claim, G7 failed to combat food crisis

G7 failed to combat the food crisis. The summit which comprised diplomats from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US, discussed several issues, with the Ukrainian War at the top of their agenda.

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2022 - G7 failed to combat food crisis

The G7 gathered last week to discuss how to tackle the global food crisis that has been exemplified through the Russian and Ukrainian War, however critics claim that the G7 failed to combat food crisis issues. The summit which comprised diplomats from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US, discussed several issues, with the Ukrainian War at the top of their agenda.

On 28th June, the G7 promised to spend $4.5 billion this year to address the global hunger crisis. Amid this pledge, the G7 has urgently requested for the Russian Government to end the blockade of Ukrainian Sea ports. The blockade has led to a halt of Ukraine’s exports including essential goods such as cooking oil and in particular, cereals such as maize and wheat. As of April 2022 the price of oils has increased by 137.5% compared to the averages of  2014-2016, whilst the price of cereals has increased by 69.5% compared to the 2014-2016 averages. In a statement on the support for Ukraine, the G7 stated, “We urgently call on Russia to cease, without condition, its attacks on agricultural and transport infrastructure and enable free passage of agricultural shipping from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea.”

The $4.5 billion pledge is to help those who are the most vulnerable from hunger and malnutrition, but it will not be enough to help protect all those suffering from the global food crisis. 

Several activists have called out the G7 for falling short on what is needed to tackle the crisis. Max Lawson, the Head of Inequality Policy at Oxfam stated, “The G7 have simply failed to take the action that is needed”. Additionally, Lawson expressed that, “The $4.5 billion announced is a fraction of what is needed. The G7 could have done so much more here in Germany to end the food crisis and prevent hunger and starvation worldwide”. 

Furthermore, the World Food Programme (WFP) urged the G7 to, “act now or record hunger will continue to rise and millions will face starvation”. The WFP’s plan requires $22.2 billion from the G7 to help those who are suffering from the crisis, however, the G7 pledge is far from it, $17.7 billion less than what is needed. This comes after the WFP suspended food assistance to South Sudan due to a lack of funding and priorities elsewhere. South Sudan is one of the worst affected countries by the global food crisis as internal conflict, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change has all led to inflated food prices within the country. 

South Sudan is not alone, extreme weather and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic previously inflated global prices, the Ukrainian War only exemplified it. Climate change has led to the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as flooding, droughts and megafires. The recent earthquake in Afghanistan and flooding in Bangladesh

are just some examples as to how climate change has increased the likelihood of extreme weather to occur. Extreme weather has damaged crops in several countries, thus, not only damaging the supplies of food for the countries themselves but also for the rest of the world. Alongside extreme weather, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely inflated global food prices. The pandemic caused supply chain disruptions which increased food prices. However, the downside of supply chain disruptions is panic buying and hoarding, which increased the demand leading to further inflated prices. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Cancelling Canada Day: A Country Perpetuating Injustice Cannot be Celebrated

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Canada Day is celebrated every July 1st, but as the injustices against Indigenous people in the country become mainstream, calls to cancel the celebrations are amplified.

With fireworks and large festivals, Canada Day is celebrated from coast to coast on July 1st by millions of people, every year. The day, for many Canadians, is one of joy and gratitude, for the home that Canada has become for them. 

However, following the discovery of mass graves at the site of former Residential Schools, celebrating Canada Day is becoming confusing for many. 

Residential schools, among other historical policies, made essentially to assimilate Indigenous peoples and erase their culture, are one of the causes of deeply rooted intergenerational trauma and disproportionate access to resources in Indigenous communities.

Canada Day, which marks the day of confederation and the day that Canada became its own nation also marks the day that the oppression of Indigenous peoples was taken into Canada’s own hands. Calls to ‘cancel Canada Day’ become louder each year, as the injustices which were perpetuated to help bring the country to where it is today become more widely known.

Canada, the “true, north, strong and free”, as described in the country’s national anthem, was established at the price of the lives, autonomy and rights of hundreds of thousands of Indigenous peoples.

Canada recognizes its Indigenous population broadly as the FNMI — which stands for the First Nations, the Métis and the Inuit. All three Indigenous nations were directly impacted during colonization, through forced relocations, harmful policies, and cultural genocides.

The Indian Act following confederation was a legal document which specifically prevented the First Nations people in Canada from many things, including cultural practices, political actions and restricted their freedom. Under this act, First Nations could not leave reserves that the government forced them onto, without explicit permission from an Indian Agent first. The RCMP – the Royal Canadian Mounted Police known today as Canada’s FBI – was made with the intention to force and keep Indigenous peoples on their reserves.

First Nations and Métis were also predominantly affected by residential schools and the sixties scoop, when Indigenous children were taken from their homes and given up for adoption. Both of these efforts were made with the goal of assimilating Indigenous children, by “killing the Indian in the child“.

The Inuit faced dehumanization with their forced relocation into the High Arctic, a land they were not traditionally accustomed to. They were used as human flagpoles in the race to claim the Arctic, giving Canada a land advantage over countries like Russia and the United States.

For the sake of Canada’s growth as a Western nation, Indigenous peoples were used as pawns. First Nations and Métis were forced onto reserves to make space for European settlers, while the government commissioned a mass Inuit dog slaughter, to keep the Inuit stranded in the High Arctic, so that Canada could not lose their claim over that land.

The birth of a nation had become more important than the lives of Indigenous peoples who have existed since time immemorial. And because of that, Canada was born with blood on its hands — blood it has yet to wash off in full, as the country’s growth continues to be more important than respecting Indigenous peoples who’ve lived there for centuries.

The Canadian government has a long-standing history of making promises to the Indigenous community and then turning their back on them — whether that means refusing to turn their words into action or taking action that has the opposite impact.

Indigenous peoples in Canada have been long subject to unjust conditions: many communities lack access to clean water. The government has acknowledged this; however, it hasn’t done much beyond that to actually improve living standards on reserves. Indigenous peoples are subject to disproportionate rates of police brutality and violence, especially in the North. Despite multiple reports recording the numbers, institutions are not doing much to change their practices.

Most prominently, the pipeline debate has shown how the government is willing to backtrack on their promises to Indigenous peoples to protect their rights, if it results in a growth for the country. Although Justin Trudeau ran a campaign in 2016 heavily opposing the Coastal GasLink and Trans Mountain pipelines, in 2019 his government bought the pipelines to take over the project and continue it, despite protests from Indigenous peoples pleading otherwise.

Time and time again, Indigenous communities in Canada seem to be living in an entirely different country; the “true, north, strong and free,” seems more like a betraying, oppressive and unjust nation. Their rights are considered dispensable in favour of material growth, and in society, they face stereotypes that lessen their quality of life.

The question: to celebrate or to not celebrate, might seem like a hard one when Canada Day is meant to be a day where Canadians rejoice for all that the country is to them. But the answer is quite straightforward, when it is the suffering of people caused by Canada in question.

For many — those born in Canada, those who immigrated here, and those seeking refuge here — there is much to be grateful for, on Canada Day. But showing gratitude for living in a country such as Canada and acknowledging the injustices it participates in are not mutually exclusive attitudes.

Sol Mamakwa, an Indigenous MPP for Kiiwetinoong, an electoral riding in Ontario, stated in a message for Canada Day, “It is my hope that Canadians will be able to strike a balance between honouring all that Canada has done for them today while still recognizing the real history of oppression, colonialism and genocide.”

Even if most Canadians do not experience the struggles of Indigenous peoples firsthand, these struggles still affect the very fabric of Canada. The country is only as great as it treats its Indigenous peoples, whose losses the country was built upon. And every single Canadian plays a role in advocating for the better treatment of Indigenous peoples.

To celebrate Canada Day, we must want better for the people who have lost everything for it, but we also must mourn with them for all the loss they have had to face. 

Canada Day should become a holiday more meaningful than fireworks and festivals: it needs to become a day of reflection. We must cancel Canada Day’s insensitive celebrations, by understanding the context of it, because injustice simply isn’t something you can celebrate.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

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Human Rights

Rwanda: How does the UK’s immigration policy compare to others? 

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According to the new British immigration policy, asylum seekers will be sent to Rwanda. In exchange the British government will pay £120 million to Rwanda. This plan has received a lot of criticism by many and has been accused of being cruel and unethical. Other countries, such as Australia, Israel or Denmark also have similar plans regarding immigration. 

The new plan involves sending immigrants seeking asylum, 6400 kilometres away to Rwanda, instead of allowing them to apply for asylum in the UK. When having arrived in the Central African country, Rwandan immigration rules will apply to migrants, and they will not have the right to return to the UK. In case of a deportation, immigrants will either be sent to the first “safe” country, or they will be sent back to their country of origin.

Despite the current international outrage regarding this new deal, the UK isn’t the first country that Rwanda has signed such a deal with. 

In 2015 the former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu introduced a similar policy, the “voluntary” deportation programme policy. This new policy gave rejected asylum seekers the opportunity to either return to their country of origin, accept a payment of $3500 and a plane ticket to an unnamed country, which were reportedly Rwanda or Uganda, or lastly, go to Israeli jail in the case that they stayed in Israel. 

Three years later, almost 30% of immigrants, that had entered Israel illegally, had left the country.  

Just like the UK, the voluntary deportation programme was heavily criticised. A report from 2015 by the International Refugee Rights Initiative said, “Contrary to the Israeli authorities’ rhetoric, departures from Israel are neither voluntary, nor do they ensure the safety of those leaving the country. While Israel presents Rwanda and Uganda as safe destinations, in reality they are often the starting point for a dangerous journey that not all asylum seekers survive.” 

In 2021, Denmark too passed legislation allowing refugees to be sent, having made similar deals with Rwanda, Tunisia and/or Ethiopia, in regard to achieve “zero” asylum seekers. Before that, talks about achieving zero asylum seekers had already been happening and were also announced by the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen in 2020.

According to Zachary Whyte, an Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, “The Danish plans involve an initial screening of asylum seekers for vulnerability, before they are transferred to a third world country, which could be Rwanda. Their asylum cases will be processed there. If they are recognised as refugees, they will be settled there. If not, their possible deportation will be the responsibility of that third country.” 

As of today, Denmark has been successful in achieving this goal: in 2020 only 1,547 people sought asylum in Denmark. Compared to previous years, this has been the lowest number registered. 

Unlike Denmark and Israel, Australia’s immigration policy consists of sending immigrants to pacific countries, to centers in Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Nauru. Australia has been using their “Pacific Solution” since 2001, making it one of the first countries to use offshore detention centers

Refugees entering Australia were either brought to Nauru or Papua New Guinea, where the processes of becoming permanent citizens started.

As of today the Republic of Nauru still houses 112 refugees, but centers in Papua New Guinea, which housed 120 refugees, were closed after the Papuan Supreme Court ruled the centers, ”illegal”. 

In March this year, another three-year deal was announced this time with New Zealand. According to the new deal 450 refugees will be sent to New Zealand. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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