Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Reverse Orientalism of Looking For an ‘Arab Spring’ in Central Asia

Filed under: Media and Conflict,Nonviolence — story spotted by Ernie Fraser @ 08:23 PDT

In 1978, Edward Said defined orientalism as “a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.” The Muslim world, he argued, is rarely seen as significant and complex in its own right, but derives its significance from its relationship with the West: a comparative framework that guarantees a delusory bias. The Orient is the West’s “surrogate and underground self”, an “Other” that allows the West to define its cultural identity while justifying its imperialist goals.

Though ostensibly meant to include the broader Muslim world, the theory of orientalism has never worked well with Central Asia. As I’ve previously noted, Central Asia is “not the “other” but the other’s “other” — Russia’s orient, a region whose history and political complexities are poorly understood even by some who proclaim to be experts; a region whose best-known ambassador is Borat. Unlike the Arab world, Central Asia is not demonized and degraded in the Western public imagination: it is disregarded. The region connotes nothing – except perhaps obscurity itself.

There is a certain irony, therefore, in the new identity that has been forged on Central Asia since January 2011: that of the Arab world’s aspirational doppelganger…

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UM Committee on the Rights of the Child examines report of Myanmar

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment,children and youth,Human Rights,Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:17 PDT

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today considered the combined third and fourth periodic report of Myanmar on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child…

Just two days ago the Government of Myanmar had ratified the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography… [T]he National Committee on the Rights of the Child was reconstituted in May 2011. Reforms had been carried out in healthcare, with maternal, newborn and child health at the centre, and free and compulsory primary education had been introduced. The Government placed high priority on the prevention of child labour, particularly child recruitment into the military, and was taking punitive action against perpetrators from the armed forces…

Kamla Varmah, Committee Expert acting as Co-Rapporteur for the report of Myanmar, expressed concern that the age of criminal responsibility was seven [7] years old, that the employment age was 13, and that there was no minimum age for marriage for boys while girls as young as 14 could be married with parental consent. Ms. Varmah raised issues including adoption, birth registration, the high infant and under five mortality rate, chronic malnutrition of children and the right of children to be heard. She noted that only 1.3 per cent of the national budget was spent on health services and 2009 figures showed that only 0.6 per cent of gross domestic product was spent on education compared to the 80 per cent spent on the military and State-owned enterprises.

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