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This Week in Human Rights


Unrest continues to spread in South Africa in the wake of last weeks shootings, which claimed the lives of 34 union strikers at a London owned mining operation. As a result, platinum and gold prices are on the rise, further complicating the tensed relationship between workers and corporate interests. South African President, Jacob Zuma, has promised to create a commission to investigate the shootings. Representatives for the miners have said that they will not return to work until their wage demands are met. This situation began nearly two weeks ago when a group of rock drill operators demanded wage increases of up to $1,500 a month and came to a head on August 16th when police forces opened fire on the workers in a highly controversial display of force.

A girl in Pakistan, possibly as young as 11, has been arrested in a Christian area of the capitol Islamabad accused of desecrating a Quran. This incident has become part of the nations larger debate over the validity of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws. The girl, who some human rights observers believe to be mentally impaired, has been taken into protective custody in consideration of the local cultures tendency to resort to mob violence in the wake of blasphemy accusations. There have been several anti-blasphemy related mob-incited deaths over the past years including the death of the minister of minority affairs and a Punjab Governor.

Three members of the Russian anti-authoritarian punk band, Pussy Riot, have been sentenced to two years in jail for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” on August 17th. The judge who handed down the sentence claimed that the bands feminist beliefs encouraged religious hatred despite the bands “punk prayer” calling on the higher power of the Virgin Mary to rid the nation of a legally secular figure, President Vladimir Putin.