Protecting those who cannot protect themselves

February 23, 2008 Kyron No Comments

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.jickids Protecting those who cannot protect themselves

-George Santayana

My newshound Johanna sent me another article that my father and she must have been reading at the same time because their emails on this article arrived almost simultaneously.

As many of you may be aware of by now, insurgents in Iraq have been using the disabled as human bombs. It was originally announced that these women had down syndrome but the article sent to me this morning announces that medical records now say that they suffered from depression and schizophrenia but no record shows them having down syndrome. Seems obvious to me that either is equally horrific and predatory but I digress.

News reports at the beginning of the week (and included in this past Sunday Paper) stated that the acting director of a Baghdad psychiatric hospital was arrested on suspicion of supplying al-Qaeda with the women to blow up the crowded market places. One would think this was a good step in the efforts to protect individuals who are potentially impaired mentally from being used in such a manner.

Overall the article seems as if it’s going to wind up being a clarification on earlier reporting that these women had down syndrome and some discussion of how their mental illness might or might not have made them unwitting victims of terrorists. Then you hit this one little paragraph that almost seems as if it’s an afterthought.

Worries about insurgents using mentally disabled people as bombers prompted the Iraqi government’s decision this week to begin enforcing a Saddam Hussein-era law to round up beggars and the mentally disabled. Iraqi officials said the mentally disabled would be sent to hospitals while beggars would be taken to the police, foster homes, juvenile institutions or their families.

I guess in a country not used to having freedoms this might seem like an acceptable solution.  I must remember however democracy is an evolution. I live in a country who was founded on freedom yet we too have had periods in our history where segregating populations for safety seemed like an acceptable solution to perceived threats. Certainly “Indian Reservations” and even more recently Japanese Internment Camps should be historical lessons that others should make sure not to repeat. I certainly hope that the American officials will work to convince the powers that be in Iraq that this is NOT the solution to their problem.

So often you read stories and think wow…what progress we’re making for the rights of those with disabilities. Unfortunately it only takes one article such as this to remind us how very far we still have to go as a world society in protecting the rights of those who can not necessarily protect themselves.

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