USA: Bush administration violates Katrina survivors’ rights

Bush and Katrina, cartoon

From Common Dreams in the USA:

Where is US Leadership in New Orleans on Human Rights Day?

by Jeffrey Buchanan

On Human Rights Day the world celebrates the work of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and others to craft the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The document defines the international community’s commitments to human rights as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

The United States, a nation built on the concept of “inalienable rights“, despite recent shortcomings has been a historic example and an international leader in spreading human rights.

Still true leadership is not just about pointing fingers and coercing other countries to respect rights. It requires the courage and introspection to address human rights crisis that develop at home.

A serious human rights crisis has developed for people displaced from the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina, particularly from New Orleans.

More than a million people were uprooted from their communities after the storm with over 300,000 from New Orleans alone still displaced over one year after the levees broke.

These vulnerable displaced people have been all but abandoned by their government officials as the future of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region is being determined.

Community leaders in the city are embracing the idea that all the storm’s survivors have a right to return to their neighborhoods to participate in the rebuilding process.

Aftermath of Katrina and music: here.

5 thoughts on “USA: Bush administration violates Katrina survivors’ rights

  1. AAPSO Statement

    This is the first HUMAN RIGHTS DAY commemoration after the establishment of the UN Human Rights Council. Despite enormous efforts, increasing and most horrifying situation of human rights violations continue in regions of the world which are experiemcing huge death tolls, acute sufferings and deadly injuries every day.

    The Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation-AAPSO-expresses deep concern over the conditions under which innocent people, women and children, elderly people and many others, become victims of these violations.

    What is taking place in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, is a dangerous demonstration of systematic, enforced gross violations of human rights, fueled by arrogantly and stubbornly foreign occupation forces. Religious, ethnic and sectarian rivalries, destruction of social fabrics as well as of vital infrastructures are common happenings. In Darfur, Sudan, massacres are perpetrated by militias or rebels which have led to the deepest human and humanitarian crisis ever occuring in this part of the world. UN Security Council is deadlocked in a common agreement regarding Darfur as individual country interests take precedent. Civil wars are looming, forcing people to flee their countries in search of safe haven; countries of the region are sliding to the abyss of abject poverty, misery and famine , illiteracy and backwardness, not to mention the natural disasters which cause ravages and destruction. Even in Sri Lanka, cease-fire agreement remains in breach leading to an imminent danger of armed conflict and recruiting child-soldiers by rebel groups.

    We are witnessing numerous cases of violations of human rights, with high degree and magnitude without any approaches to a way of seeking solutions to settle the problems. Such crisis has appeared to be persistent and is threatening the very life and capacity of the peoples and societies to reproduce themselves as viable entities.

    The fight against terrorism is carried out intensively, which generated more occasions of human rights violations, with racist connotation, using execrable practices as tortures, barbaric ill-treatment of persons and other kinds of atrocities contrary to human dignity. Discrimination with respect to race, sex, religion, and ethnicity, gravely affected and distorted the normal conduct of the daily life and the development process, causing insecurity and instability which are detrimental to social progress. Democratic practices are being threatened by suppression of fundamental freedom.

    It is inadmissible that perpetrators of these human rights violations act with impunity.

    AAPSO urges the international community to put new impetus to the efforts to fight these violations to strenghten international cooperation in order to give more vigour to the sens of the commemoration of the HUMAN RIGHTS DAY.


  2. While the ‘Right’ says the ‘Left’ has failed, even though it is Dec.
    Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello
    Wed Dec 20, 2006 4:56 pm (PST)

    Human Rights For Katrina Victims

    Jeffrey Buchanan
    December 11, 2006

    Jeffrey Buchanan is the information officer for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, a human rights organization dedicated to supporting grassroots defenders in the U.S. and around the world.

    Human Rights Day , which was December 10, is an appropriate time to review a serious human rights crisis here in the United States: The fate of people from the Gulf Coast—particularly from New Orleans—displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

    Our nation’s greatest natural disaster—and the man-made crisis that followed—were on an unprecedented scale. More than a million people were uprooted from their communities after the storm, and over 300,000 from New Orleans alone are still displaced over one year after the levees broke.

    Community leaders in the city are embracing the idea that all the storm’s survivors have a right to return to their neighborhoods to participate in the rebuilding process. But their efforts are being barred by federal, state and local authorities.

    “There are instances of officials at all levels of government siding against repairing homes and restoring the lives of displaced people,” said Stephen Bradberry, ACORN head organizer in New Orleans and 2005 winner of the RFK Human Rights award. There needs to be a fundamental shift towards government assistance that supports the right to return to a place once called home.”
    This idea is supported by the U.N.’s Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the internationally approved framework to protect human rights before, during and after being displaced by a humanitarian disaster.

    The Principles include the right to shelter, food, water, due process and equal justice, as well as the right to health, access to information and the right to vote and participate in local decisions about rebuilding. Under the Principles, the final responsibility for the human rights of displaced people in the United States falls to the federal government. It is required to create conditions allowing the displaced to voluntarily return and prevent them from being displaced longer than necessary.

    The U.S. Agency for International Development already endorses the Principles, and uses U.S. tax dollars to implement its framework in post-tsunami Sri Lanka, post-war Iraq and Colombia. Oddly, Bush administration officials over the summer told the U.N. Human Rights Committee that they do not believe Americans displaced by Katrina, who they evasively re-brand as “evacuees,” deserve the rights extended under the Principles. While the United States can be proud of its international leadership improving human rights situations after disasters abroad, it has not helped Americans realize those same human rights standards. Legal scholars with the Institute of Southern Studies have found the federal government in violation of 16 of 30 Principles.

    The U.S. government’s failures to respond to Hurricane Katrina have been well documented but fewer people realize the federal role in stopping the displaced from receiving the aid necessary to pull their lives back together to return and rebuild.

    FEMA arbitrarily denied thousands of vulnerable displaced families access to housing aid—until a federal judge ruled against the agency last week, describing FEMA’s system for delivering aid as “Kafkaesque.” Still, FEMA has refused the judges orders to begin payments while it mounts a legal appeal. Hurricane survivors, leaders from ACORN and Members of Congress like Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Al Green, D-Texas, Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., pressed federal officials in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Houston this week to follow the judge’s orders and resume payments to save displaced survivors facing eviction.

    Thousands of families have been permanently evicted from New Orleans public housing by the city’s U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development administrator, HANO. In a saddening twist, the agency plans to use relief funds to bulldoze 5,000 habitable apartments—the majority of the city’s subsidized housing—senselessly denying their former tenants their right to return home. Instead, they plan to start building mixed income housing, with room for only 10 percent as many low-income people—further shrinking the city’s stock of affordable housing at the same time as rental prices have already risen as much as 70 percent.

    To the detriment of local democracy, hundreds of thousands of displaced people—scattered across 46 different states—have no way of knowing the current state of their homes and neighborhoods. FEMA refuses to use its knowledge about the current whereabouts of the displaced to help these citizens stay informed and participate with local authorities in decisions that will affect their families and communities. Local officials, community organizations, and churches have had to improvise to plan and communicate about important new policies.

    Displaced homeowners remain unable to afford the repairs necessary to move home, even as $10.4 billion in federal aid to homeowners given to the state of Louisiana has reached only 44 families. How could the state rationalize sitting idly on these vital funds while its citizens continue to suffer?

    Mayor Ray Nagin recently told USA Today local officials cannot access most of the federal government’s almost a billion dollars pledged to rebuild New Orleans’ infrastructure. The government, in his view, has violated federal laws requiring it to assist in the rebuilding of the vital infrastructure, necessary to encourage people and businesses to return.

    Neither are city officials without fault. In August, the city of New Orleans was about to begin seizing the homes of displaced people who had not been able to afford to restore their property—as the federal government remained silent about this blatant abuse of property rights. Thankfully, brave local advocates like ACORN pressured the city council and at the last minute recrafted a local ordinance to protect the rights of the disadvantaged, and to permit appeals.

    The federal government needs to step up as the defender of the values our country defined in helping craft the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The United States can still lead the world in human rights, but leadership must begin at home. There is still hope that the incoming Congress will work with the president, ending the federal indifference to the abuses faced by the displaced in rebuilding efforts—and to make sure these kinds of abuses will not occur in future relief efforts. It is not too late for the federal government to adapt their policies to limit suffering and empower the displaced to return and participate in rebuilding their lives, their communities and the entire Gulf Coast.


  3. This is the most pointless cartoon i have seen. Make no sens and i will take a challenge from any that think is it a good cartoon.


  4. Hi Gabe, of course the point of the cartoon is that Bush did not show any leadership at all during the terrible Katrina crisis; that he instead based his reactions on public relations spin doctoring. Everyone, except the small minority of hard core Bush supporters, agrees that Bush terribly mismanaged the hurricane Katrina tragedy.


  5. Pingback: British Theresa May snubs Grenfell Tower disaster survivors | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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