June 19, 2007
Gun control as a "human right"?
Today's Wall Street Journal profiles a human rights activist named Mustafa Ibrahim, who's demanding that Hamas start implementing gun control in Gaza ASAP:
Mr. Ibrahim, the human-rights worker, says dramatic action is needed -- not only to stem the flow of guns, but to deal with arms already on the streets. Hamas must begin "collecting the illegal weapons which have spread in the Gaza Strip," he says, and immediately ban people from carrying arms in public.What I found more than a little disconcerting was that he's not just calling for Hamas to disarm Fatah, or other militias, but ordinary citizens who only want to defend themselves:
...what concerned Mr. Ibrahim and many other residents was not only guns in the hands of militias, but also that weapons on the streets would beget more weapons. Ordinary people, he says, "started getting weapons to defend themselves."Can ayone blame them? Hamas, long known for persecuting people wearing the wrong clothes or even listening to music, is now engaged in an orgy of executions, including throwing people off buildings, as it installs an Islamist dictatorship.
Fatah is a corrupt and evil joke, and cannot and will not protect private citizens. Ordinary citizens are attempting to flee from Gaza -- to Israel.
And as Roger L. Simon points out in a piece titled "Gaza: Better Call Human Rights Watch... or someone," no one seems to like the Gazans.
(Don't look at me; I'm disinclined to like people who vote for Hamas, or Fatah. Of course, I wonder what would happen to some poor Gazan clueless enough to write in "Libertarian Party"....)
So, are they better off disarmed entirely? If the right to keep and bear arms in self defense is a human right, and if governments (especially ones like Hamas) are the greatest violators of human rights, then it strikes me that as human rights dilemmas go, disarming private citizens and not the government is by far a worse evil than disarming everyone.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of Hamas, under the circumstances, how is it that private citizens arming themselves can be seen as a human rights violation? It strikes me that it's the only defense people have.
Who is this Mustafa Ibrahim, and why does he want Hamas to disarm private citizens? It would be all too easy to see him as a spokesman for Hamas who's hoodwinking journalists, but I'm not so sure about that. I Googled his name and nothing stood out at me, but the name is common enough. Human rights organizations do exist in Gaza.
The rhetorically twisted position of Human Rights Watch is that governments should impose gun control -- in the name of "human rights."
Human Rights Watch holds that it is governments' responsibility to help solve a problem that governments have largely helped create. They should do so by developing binding norms and implementing measures to halt flows of arms, especially small arms and light weapons, to human rights abusers. It is also imperative that governments muster the political will and bolster their ability to bring to justice those who by misusing small arms, or facilitating their illicit flows, have been either instrumental in perpetrating human rights abuses or have acted in contempt of international humanitarian law.Governments? The same governments that violate human rights should be encouraged to disarm their victims? That's like using criminals to disarm law abiding citizens.
Among other things, Human Rights Watch demands that arms not be sold to governments which are "not actively engaged in the creation of national and regional registers for small arms."
Which means Hamas better get on the gun control band wagon fast!
FWIW, I think the human rights activists have it backwards. Rather than have the Hamas government disarm the citizens, I think it would be better to disarm the government first.
The larger issue (forgetting the detestable Gaza) is the false dichotomy that's being drawn between guns and human rights. Being armed is a human right, as is the right to self defense. It's almost as if the activists are saying that self defense violates the human rights of governments or something. What's next? Private property and free speech as human rights violations?
I think someone's been listening to "Imagine" too many times.
Masked gunmen torched and looted the Rosary Sisters School and the Latin Church in Gaza City, using rocket-propelled grenades and then burning crosses, Bibles, and nearly everything else inside. Christians living in Gaza City have called for protection against Muslim extremists and many want to leave the Strip as soon as the border crossings are reopened.I don't know whether Hamas is disarming the Christians, but I wish activists like Mustafa Ibrahim didn't use terms like "human rights" to describe what is precisely the opposite.
posted by Eric on 06.19.07 at 09:15 AM
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