Modern Countries that Severely Oppress Minority Groups

A minority group is the category of people who experience relative disadvantage. This is as compared to members of a dominant group. Being a member of a minority group typically has basis. These are based on differences in observable characteristics or practices, which includes: ethnicity for ethnic minority, race for racial minority, religion for religious minority, sexual orientation for sexual minority, and even disability. Also, it is important to recognize that an individual may simultaneously hold membership in multiple minority groups. Likewise, people may also be part of a minority group in regard to some characteristics, but also is part of a dominant group in regard to others.

As members of minority groups are prone to differential treatment in the countries and societies in which they live, the term minority groups occur within the discourse of civil rights and collective rights in a certain country. These minority groups often face discrimination in multiple areas of social life that includes housing, employment, healthcare, and education, among the others. Discrimination may also occur through structural inequalities, in which opportunities and also rights are not equally accessible to all. Discrimination to these minority groups may be committed by individuals. The language of the rights of these groups or the minority rights is often used to discuss laws designed to protect minority groups from discrimination. Moreover, to afford them equal social status to the dominant group.

When in a new country, immigrants may take on minority status. These immigrants are usually in hopes of a better future economically, educationally, and politically than in their homeland or the country they are from. Voluntary minorities are more likely to do better in school than other migrating minorities, because of their focus on success. Adapting to a very different culture and language make difficulties in the early stages of life in the new country. They are the so-called voluntary immigrants. They do not experience a sense of divided identity as much as involuntary minorities. They are also often rich in social capital because of their educational ambitions and goals. Some of  the major immigrant groups in the United States are the Mexicans, Central and South Americans, Cubans, Africans, and the Indians.

In 1945, a sociologist, Louis Wirth has defined a minority group as any group of people who, are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment because of their physical or cultural characteristics, and who therefore regard themselves as the objects of collective discrimination. “Minority” connotes discrimination. In its sociological use, the term subordinate group can be used interchangeably with the term minority. On the other hand, the term “dominant group” is often substituted for the group that’s in the majority. These correlate to the concept that subordinate groups are those who lack power compared to the dominant group while, the dominant group is that which holds the most power in a given society.

One has to keep in mind that being a numerical minority is not a characteristic of being a minority group. The larger groups can sometimes be considered minority groups due to their lack of power. The predominant characteristic of a minority or a subordinate group, is the lack of power. There are many examples in our history of the scapegoating of a minority or a subordinate group. One example would be example from the last century is the way Adolf Hitler was able to give the blame the Jewish population for Germany’s social and economic problems. A lot of states in the United States have enacted laws to disenfranchise immigrants.  These laws are so popular because these laws let a dominant group scapegoat a minority or a subordinate group.

Somalia

The country is the world’s most dangerous country for minority communities. And according to a new global survey from the Minority Rights Group International (MRG), Somalia and has overtaken Iraq to top a global ranking of countries where minorities are most under threat. Fierce fighting and the threat of state repression have seen Somalia, Iraq and Sudan lead this year’s ranking of ‘Peoples under Threat’, which is a major feature of MRG’s annual State of the World’s Minorities report. At first, Somalia was in third place and Iraq led the list. Raising hopes for democracy, there is a new government in Somalia.

There is the specter of a return of large-scale clan violence – and groups that supported the old order are now under tremendous threat,” Director of MRG says. Key allies of the US in its ‘war on terror’, including the governments of Pakistan, Turkey and Israel, intensified repression of particular ethnic communities in 2006. The country Pakistan is also in the top 20 list. Also, Turkey and Israel have both shown major rises in the rankings. According to the report one of the main spill-offs of the war on terror has been the rise in “Islamaphobia” in the European Union including the United Kingdom, affecting millions of ethnic Arab and South Asian and other Muslim minorities. African States make up more than half of the top 20 list. Sudan is third in the list, a consequence of the continuing appalling levels of violence in Darfur, targeted at farmers such as Zaghawa, Masalit and Fur tribes, by government forces and Arab militia (Janjaweed), and the continuing failure of the international community to find ways of stopping the violence. Iraq continues to see targeted killings and brutality to people from minority groups like the Christians, Yezidis and Mandaeans. Aside from these groups, other minority groups in Iraq face daily violence, torture and even political assimilation. This has led to an exodus of these communities from the country.

Turkey

Another major riser in the rankings is Turkey where tensions surrounding the EU accession process are driving a growth in virulent religious and nationalist extremism. These were thrust into the international spotlight by the murder of Turkish-Armenian human rights lawyer Hrant Dink in late December 2006. But the biggest jump of all is Sri Lanka which saw a return to conflict last year and which moved 47 places since 2006 to be ranked 14th in 2007. Minority Tamils and Muslims are not only caught up in fighting between government and rebel forces but are targeted for human rights abuses including abductions and disappearances because of their minority status. Leading the list are Afghanistan, Burma and Thailand are other Asian countries.

Ethical Consumer was founded in the days of South African apartheid when the boycott of South African goods was in full swing. Ever since we have marked companies down for operating in countries that we view as governed by oppressive regimes, on the basis that it gives the regime funds and legitimacy. Companies receive a rating in the Human Rights column on the score tables if they have operations in two or more countries. The rationale behind this is straightforward, companies benefit from the very conditions which contribute to oppression, such as harsh labor conditions, lax environmental regulations and an economic environment conducive to corruption and tax avoidance. Furthermore, trading with a regime helps to make it financially viable. Oppressive regimes are supported by a series of economic ties without which they would not survive. Foreign investment is a crucial element of this. The countries on oppressive regimes list include Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Libya, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey. Rating countries is obviously going to be politically fraught, and it’s impossible to avoid political bias altogether. Many human rights indexes aren’t subtle about it , the Freedom of the World index.

Burma

Burma sits in the corner of Southeast Asia between India and China. It is a secluded country of almost 60 million people. Burma is now known as Myanmar. Currently, the country has a fertility rate of 2.21 children and, unique for its part of the world, does not suffer from sex-selection. Comprising about 95% of the population are  Buddhists but there is also a small Muslim minority residing in the northern state of Rakhine. Known as the Rohingya, these Muslims have been dubbed as the most oppressed people in the world. The country’s government enacted a citizenship law which removed the Rohingya from a list of minorities which are recognized as citizens of the country in 1982. This left the Rohingya effectively stateless; they have the status of illegal immigrants. In a highly corrupt country, the Rohingya live under threat of extortion and bribery from local government officials, without legal recourse.

This can be seen poignantly in many cases, especially when the Rohingya face extortion when trying to attain marriage and child licenses. Without an official marriage license, cohabitation is punishable by imprisonment, nor is the threat idle. Currently in prison for violation, there are over 500 men. This kind of  abuse has now grown into full-blown ethnic cleansing. It is difficult for Rohingya to obtain a permit-required by law, to have a child. The country’s current law punishes women bearing  so-called illegal children with fines or imprisonment. The local officials line their pockets with bribes from couples who are desperate to have children. But most of the time, it gets worse. The Arakan majority actively seeks to prevent the Rohingya from reproducing. There was a time when the local Arakan leaders reaffirmed a two-child limit upon the Muslim people of the Rakhine state.  The local Arakan leaders have claimed that the law would benefit Muslims, arguing that their rapid population growth was fueling ethnic violence in the country. They have claimed that reducing the population of Muslims would ease ethnic tensions. The law, not surprisingly, does not apply to Buddhists. Often led by Buddhist monks, mobs of Arakanese loot Muslim stores, burn down mosques, and incinerate entire Muslim neighborhoods. NGO’s and reporters have documented horrific scenes of Muslims being burned alive on the streets of Burma. Children fleeing a burning neighborhood have been beaten to death while policemen watch and do nothing.

The Party Chairman of the National Democratic Force claims that the two-child limit is supposedly intended to help the Rohingya prosper. Defending his position, the chairman has said that people shouldn’t only see the birth control plan from a human rights point of view and that people should also think about providing a sufficient amount of food for the entire population. He also said that the policy is part of a plan to provide more development for everyone. People should look at this from a political point of view asking how will other nationalities be affected if the Rakhine state government allows (Rohingyas) to have as many children as they want?” Because of  this, the Burmese state rationalizes away blatant ethnic cleansing as a food distribution program necessary. This is for equitable economic development. Including coercive population control, a small ethnic minority is facing horrendous persecution. The mask of development is fooling no one in a country where a quarter of all children under 5 are underweight and where minorities are burned alive. The country does not need a two-child policy.

Ethnic violence cannot be solved by eliminating the minority, just as poverty cannot be solved by getting rid of the poor person. As it has always been, the most effective policy to deal with these problems is to eradicate the hatred and the poverty by developing the human person. The Burmese recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize has once said that  people need a change in Burma. Burma or Myanmar is a rich country because of its natural resources, but our most important resource is our human resource and that has been neglected. The people do not have adequate education, they do not have adequate healthcare. People want to build up a society of people who are allowed to care for themselves, who are allowed to shape their own destiny. These are some of the richest modern countries in the world. Traditional indicators like per-capita gross domestic product and the number of people in full-time work, are included in these variables. Also, these variables include more interesting figures. These interesting figures include the number of secure internet servers a country has and also how well-rested people feel on a day-today basis. The variables are then split into nine sub-indexes: economic quality, business environment, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, social capital, and natural environment.

New Zealand

The county is officially the most prosperous country on earth that is according to the Legatum Institute. New Zealand has ranked top of both the social capital and economic quality sub-indexes, and also 2nd for business environment and governance category.

Canada

Canada is the second-largest country in the world after Russia, because it takes up about two-fifths of the North American continent. The country is sparsely populated, with most of its residents living within 125 miles of the U.S. border. The country’s reputation of welcoming immigrants plays a large role in Canadian identity, as does  the country’s expansive wilderness to the north. Canada, with a high standard of living, is a high-tech industrial society. Dramatically bolstering trade with the United States are the trade agreements in the 1980s and 1990s. Now, Canada and United States are each other’s largest trading partner. Canada is a significant exporter of energy, food and minerals. Canada’s biggest economic driver is the service sector. The country ranks third in the world in proven oil reserves and also the world’s fifth largest oil producer.

Japan

The county is one of the world’s most literate and technically advanced nations. Japan is an East Asian archipelago country made up of four primary islands and more than 6,800 others. Japan’s people lead a distinctly urban lifestyle. The country is mostly covered by mountains and heavily wooded areas. The country is long culturally influenced by its neighbors. Today, Japan blends its ancient traditions with aspects of Western life. The country has largely bounced back from the manufacturing disruption caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. Japan has claimed the title as the third-largest economy in the world. Japan is also among the world’s largest producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment and steel. Its service sector makes up the highest percentage of the economy. That is in terms of gross domestic product and employment.

Sweden

Flanked by Norway to the west and the Baltic Sea to the east, the Kingdom of Sweden expands across much of the Scandinavian Peninsula. By land mass, it is one of the largest countries in the European Union. Sweden’s capital city which is  Stockholm was claimed in the 16th century. Sweden has remained neutral in times of war for centuries, despite its militaristic roots. Instead, commitment to human rights, public service and sustainability have helped to make it a respected leader in international affairs. Some of the world’s most generous people are the Swedes. They have donated about 1 percent of gross national product to humanitarian aid programs each year. The country’s  society continues to diversify as a growing number of refugees. Accounting for 10 percent of the population are being welcomed into Swedish borders.

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