Citizens have the responsibility to intervene in other countries in order to ensure rights for all.
On Jan. 9, the Saudi Arabian government beheaded Nafeek for allegedly murdering the infant she was caring for. The verdict was seemingly determined based on biased evidence; they also gave her no conventional due process. Moreover, she only had limited access to a lawyer and no translator, according to ABC News. Now the world will never know whether or not she truly strangled the small boy or if the infant had choked on his milk because the Saudi Arabian government essentially decided the ruling before any trial could begin.
Researchers at non-governmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch, representatives of the European Union and the Secretary General of the United Nations have all verbally condemned Saudi Arabia’s actions. But harsh words cannot spark corrective measures because they seem to have little to no effect on the international community. Verbal condemnation rarely persuades a government to act appropriately. Syria, North Korea and China have all received criticism for inhumane treatment of people in the past, but have not changed their justice systems.
To some, Nafeek is just one person. But when Saudi Arabia currently holds 50 other maids on death row, it is clear that the world must wake up and confront governments that perpetuate injustice. In the past, the U.S. has employed economic sanctions against China following gross human rights violations, such as the Tiananmen massacre. Yet the Peterson Institute for International Economics notes that economic sanctions, though usually effective, are not very common. Thus, further utilizing this measure is necessary in coercing these nations into acting in accordance with international norms that emphasize fair judicial processes.
The world has failed to conduct humanitarian interventions where millions have died. The merciless governments of Rwanda, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo are just a few of those that have slaughtered innocent persons. The international community barely blinked at their actions because they had no personal investments in these areas.
Admittedly, intervention requires the use of resources. Governments are wary of contributing aid for the purpose of stopping crimes in other regions because it might not appear to be their problem. Yet discarding this selfish approach to handling the world’s tribulations could rid our planet of unnecessary bloodshed. If the international community prioritized valuing all lives instead of valuing just some, change would come.
America prides itself on providing equality and opportunity for its people. But how can its citizens watch silently as other human beings are denied their basic rights?
Satinah binti Jumadi Ahmad. Siti Zaenab. Tuti Tursilawati binti Warjuki. Darmawati binti Taryani. Siti Aminah.
The International Business Times reports these names are just few of the women currently on Saudi Arabia’s death row without access to a fair legal process. If the United States and the international community does not act now, more blood will spill.
In the end, Americans have the duty to ensure a fair justice system for fellow citizens around the globe. To simply ignore injustice would be to accept the principle of ending up in Nafeek’s situation, with the truth silenced and with no one to speak up for them.
Rini Sampath is a freshman majoring in international relations.
The American government cannot waste time and resources attacking systems different from our own.
Of course, this standard should not apply to such atrocities as genocide or devastating international wars, where intervention is vital for the world’s benefit. In extreme cases, one does need to stand up and fight for others, even if it does not concern them.
But every time that a non-U.S. citizen or resident falls into trouble outside of our borders, the government cannot immediately put everything down and go save him or her. For Rizana Nafeek, the Sri Lankan government did everything that it could but, unfortunately, its influence could not help.
Making the situation even more sensitive is that fact that U.S. relations in the Middle East have been in a tricky limbo for decades. By butting our heads into an issue that does not concern us, we would only be poking the beast more, with no assurance that our intervention will have a lasting positive impact.
Just because we are American does not mean that we always know what is right. But more importantly, just because we are American does not mean that we can tell other governments how to lead their countries. Our duty is to protect our citizens first and foremost, and by attempting to interfere in other governments, we would only be endangering the welfare of our own.
Sheridan Watson is a junior majoring in critical studies. She is also the Editorial Director of the Daily Trojan.