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A courageous radical human rights agenda

by Anthony Ravlich Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010 at 8:52 AM (0064) (09) 940 9658 10D/15 City Rd., Auckland City, New Zealand

The New Zealand government's response to the Christchurch earthquake was to assumed greater executive power to help the victims - necessary, in part, due to deficiencies in human rights law the same deficiencies which created a major tragedy at the bottom of the social scale over past 20 yrs.

A courageous radical human rights path: Letter to New Zealand Prime Minister

Anthony Ravlich


Human Rights Council Inc. (New Zealand)

10D/15 City Rd.


Ph: (09) 940 9658


Dear John Key,

it was very heartening to see parliament unanimously backing your Government’s response to the earthquake – it shows what can be done when there is a will to do so and sound common-sense employed (which our human rights law would have also reflected if the omitted human rights were included and human rights education implemented).

I am traveling to Christchurch on Wednesday, October 27, 2010 (returning November 2), to research your Government’s response to the earthquake, specifically with respect to addressing basic human rights and development. I am hoping that the greater executive power assumed by your government can be extended to the rest of the country, for example, cutting through red tape for small business and perhaps ‘kick start’ domestic demand by increasing benefits above the poverty line. But I will get a clearer picture when in Christchurch.

I consider the need for greater executive power may well, in part, have been necessitated by the omissions in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 which discriminated against those at the bottom of the social scale and purged the country of ‘tall poppies’, who would have also helped the former, from all social classes. The result is a timid, very fearful society where mediocrity reins. Consequently I see the government’s response to the earthquake as a source of hope for New Zealand – the rebuilding may help many unemployed in the country and an opportunity for your government has arisen as a result of the earthquake which could take New Zealand on a brave new course, perhaps into the unknown for many, whereby we can reestablish an ideas driven entrepreneurial/human rights culture – can the world simply rely on improvements to old ideas i.e. ever more complex computers and cell phones beyond their usefulness to many people, when faced with such massive social problems and increasing internal State conflict (not to mention possible nuclear proliferation) – rather radical ideas are desperately needed in my view. Just as in Christchurch now we need people who ‘know what they are doing’ rather than political appointments. It is a time when you have to see beyond the surface – life is not always as it seems. If I may quote one of my favorite authors, Erich Fromm (The Fear of Freedom) describing a similar period, it seems, in human history: “In spite of a veneer of optimism and initiative, modern man is overcome by a profound feeling of powerlessness which makes him gaze towards approaching catastrophes as though he were paralyzed”. We know about Christchurch and we can see what has happened in Greece and Thailand and what is now happening in Spain, France and elsewhere – we can see the siege mentality of States concerned with possible terrorism – we know about the extremely high levels of world hunger, water shortages and so on. Lets have the same unhesitating courageous response to the earthquake. Humanity has a choice. You know about the ethical approach I advocate to human rights, development and globalizations – lets take a gamble on a better future – it takes courage to confront evil in the world which would like the earthquake take us to the point (but unlike the earthquake after much people damage) of having to change.

As my work shows these omissions (plus the failure of successive governments to fund Section 5(a), human rights education, of the NZ Human Rights Act 1993 which would have alerted people to the above omissions) were primarily responsible for what I describe as a major human rights tragedy at the bottom of the social scale, confirmed by many of the terrible social statistics emerging. I witnessed this tragedy first hand over a period of 20 years and on reflection I am convinced that no witness was meant to survive with their sanity intact and able to articulate what happened. But as you may be aware my book, ‘Freedom from our social prisons: the rise of economic, social and cultural rights’ (Lexington Books) is now on the United Nations HRBA Portal website, Like the earthquake States cannot control everything sometimes one just has to have faith in the truth and in people. Those on the bottom rungs of society were also deprived of their basic rights and development (ability to help themselves), as well as many ‘tall-poppies’, including marginalized academics concerned to seek truth (the father of liberalism John Locke was an academic – there is a strong link between those that uphold intellectual freedom and those independent entrepreneurs following their dreams and seeking their truth. Many of those ‘tall poppies’ who have not already fled the country can be found in our mental institutions (including some of my middle class friends). The people damage because of ignorance has been huge. The children suffering from high levels of child maltreatment need, when they get older, to understand what was done to their parents.

I will be publicly asking for those responsible, who had definite choices, for the omissions in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (as well as the failure to fund and proactively implement human rights education) to be held to account for the consequences of their actions. Thanks,

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