Development and the 2016 Olympics

Development occurs due to a variety of reasons; due to Brazil winning the bid to host the Olympic Games in 2016 a range of projects have begun in the country which will contribute its development. However this is not good news for all, Al Jazeera’s report titled “The real cost of Brazil’s Olympic Games” sheds light on the issue of ‘social cleansing’ of people living in Vila Autodromo[1] which is clearly a human rights violation. Using Al Jazeera’s report, and other sources that deal with Brazil’s deployment for the Olympic Game, I will attempt to identify the meaning of development and the human rights issues that arise due to development, or a lack thereof.

The community of Vila Autodromo is bordering on Olympic Park which is an area being developed for the Olympic Games, the park will receive a lot of international attention during the Olympic Games in 2016; the community believes this is the reason they are being evicted from their homes, as one of the inhabitants put it “world doesn’t want to see poverty”. As Vila Autodromo is not being developed due to the games, I could argue that to ‘develop’ is to ‘reduce poverty’; however I believe this would be an incomplete meaning. This is because poverty exists in developed countries such as Australia[2], however there is no denial of the fact that Australia is considered to be a developed country[3]. This is not to say that the reduction of poverty is not development; the reduction of poverty does raise the quality of life for people however what we need to keep in mind is that even in the most developed nations there are minorities that remain undeveloped.

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Vila Autódromo – Copyright Catalytic Communities 2015

The common conception of being developed is an economic one[4], this is one of the reasons why Australia is considered to be highly developed[5]. However Brazil has the 7th highest GDP in the world but is still considered to be under developed[6], the reasons given as to why Brazil is not considered developed is due to a high birth rate, high death rate, lack of career opportunities, high levels of gender inequality, lack of education, lack of healthcare, low living standards, and a low per capita GDP[7]. Some of these reasons align with the UN’s definition of development, and some of these issues are also in violation of the UN declaration of Human Rights such as gender inequality, lack of education, and living standards. If we accept the UN declaration of Human Rights, we can now then identify that a lack of development is a Human Rights issue.

One of the elements need to reduce poverty is the infrastructure needed to support the population[8]; Brazil has started to tackle some of these issues, Al Jazeera’s report points out that banners on the construction activities in Rio de Janeiro boasts “The Olympics bring more than just the Olympics”, this is referring to the long term effects that the games will have on the city. As a result of winning the bid to host the Olympic Games several projects have been started across Brazil which aim to develop communication, electricity, sanitation, roads, transport, water, and other infrastructure in the host cities. While the primary purpose of these project may be to meet the operational requirements to be the Olympic Game’s Host City, the infrastructure improvements will create jobs and contribute to the quality of life for millions of people long after the Olympic Games are over. If the reduction of poverty and raising the quality of life for people is considered development the infrastructure upgrades can also be considered development.

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Rio de Janeiro – Copyright Carlos Ortega 2011

A flaw with infrastructure is that control of it can fall into the wrong hands thus making it unsafe to utilise by the majority of the population. One of the main human rights issues facing Brazil is its high crime rate, which is a major issue for human rights. The 1995 Country Report on Human Rights Practices highlights some human rights violations such as torture, arbitrary detention, and extrajudicial killings; some of these violations are also committed by the state police[9]. Brazil has tackled some of the issues, over the last few years there has been a reduction of gang activity, more police patrols, and the government has gained back control of parts of cities[10]. These security improvement can also be considered development as they generally improve the people’s safety and quality of life.

One thing to keep in mind while striving for development is the effect it has on everybody, going back to Al Jazeera’s report, the people of Vila Autodromo are being forcefully removed from their homes even tho they have a legal and human rights protecting them from such action. The state of Brazil has violated some of the basic human rights of its people in the name of security and development for the Olympic Games[11]. Reports of state brutality has surfaced in Brazil[12] just as it does in similar ‘developing’ nations when people’s human rights and development needs of state are in conflict.

Using Al Jazeera’s report on “The real cost of Brazil’s Olympic Games” I’ve explored the various development activities which is taking place in Brazil due to the Olympic games; I’ve attempted to identify what development means and how it relates to Human Rights. I have identified that Development is the process of improving the quality of life for the majority of people; and that a lack of development can be a human rights issue. The pursuit of development can also result in human rights violations by the developers when the rights of people and development needs are in conflict.

 

References

Australian Council of Social Service, “Poverty” Australian Council of Social Service, 2014. http://www.acoss.org.au/poverty-2/

DePersio, Greg, “Is Australia a developed country?” Investopedia, 2016. http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/112415/australia-developed-country.asp

DePersio, Greg, “Is Brazil a developed country?” Investopedia, 2016. http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/082515/brazil-developed-country.asp

Ifzal, Ali and Pernia, Ernesto M. “Infrastructure and Poverty Reduction – What is the Connection?” Asian Development Bank, Published January, 2003. http://www.adb.org/publications/infrastructure-and-poverty-reduction-what-connection

Investopedia, “Developed Economy” Investopedia, 2016. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/developed-economy.asp

Kay, Katty, “Will crime cripple Rio’s Olympic ambitions?” BBC, Published February 19, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26124991

Thomas-Davis, Maya, “The real cost of Brazil’s Olympic Games” Al Jazeera, Published March 1, 2016. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/01/real-cost-brazilian-olympic-games-160125060759255.html

U.S. Department of State, “Brazil Human Rights Practices?” U.S. Department of State, Published 1995. http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/democracy/1995_hrp_report/95hrp_report_ara/Brazil.html

Vila Autódromo, “Vila Autódromo” Facebook, Published June 4, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/vivaavilaautodromo/posts/798670800239804

World Cup and Olympics Popular Committee of Rio de Janeiro, “Rio 2016 Olympics: The Exclusion Games” World Cup and Olympics Popular Committee of Rio de Janeiro, Published November, 2015. http://www.childrenwin.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/DossieComiteRio2015_ENG_web_ok_low.pdf

[1] Thomas-Davis, Maya, “The real cost of Brazil’s Olympic Games” Al Jazeera, Published March 1, 2016. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/01/real-cost-brazilian-olympic-games-160125060759255.html

[2] Australian Council of Social Service, “Poverty” Australian Council of Social Service, 2014. http://www.acoss.org.au/poverty-2/

[3] DePersio, Greg, “Is Australia a developed country?” Investopedia, 2016. http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/112415/australia-developed-country.asp

[4] Investopedia, “Developed Economy” Investopedia, 2016. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/developed-economy.asp

[5] DePersio, Greg, “Is Australia a developed country?” Investopedia, 2016.

[6] DePersio, Greg, “Is Brazil a developed country?” Investopedia, 2016. http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/082515/brazil-developed-country.asp

[7] ibid

[8] Ifzal, Ali and Pernia, Ernesto M. “Infrastructure and Poverty Reduction – What is the Connection?” Asian Development Bank, Published January, 2003. http://www.adb.org/publications/infrastructure-and-poverty-reduction-what-connection

[9] U.S. Department of State, “Brazil Human Rights Practices?” U.S. Department of State, Published 1995. http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/democracy/1995_hrp_report/95hrp_report_ara/Brazil.html

[10] Kay, Katty, “Will crime cripple Rio’s Olympic ambitions?” BBC, Published February 19, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26124991

[11] World Cup and Olympics Popular Committee of Rio de Janeiro, “Rio 2016 Olympics: The Exclusion Games” World Cup and Olympics Popular Committee of Rio de Janeiro, Published November, 2015. http://www.childrenwin.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/DossieComiteRio2015_ENG_web_ok_low.pdf

[12] Vila Autódromo, “Vila Autódromo” Facebook, Published June 4, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/vivaavilaautodromo/posts/798670800239804

This is an altered version of an assignment submitted for human rights studies.

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Impact of race and religion for refugees in Australia.

It is interesting to observe the impact race and religion has on refugees. Australia, as we know it today, has been built by immigrants. The first non-indigenous arrivals were the British in 1788 and declared that the land was ‘terra nullius’ even though the settlers were aware of the native population (Thompson 2011). Around 1850 when the Australian gold rush began, a significant amount of migrants entered the country from Europe and China to work in the gold mines. However laws to control the only the Chinese population at the time were created (Price 1974), it is suggested that “Cultural differences” among other issues was the cause of this (SBS 2015). In 1901, the “White Australia policy” was introduced and which restricted the entry of Non-European immigrants into Australia.

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Chinese immigrants to Australia at the Pageant of Nations, Sydney Town Hall, 1938

 

While the above relates to immigrants and not refugees or asylum seekers, it is safe to assume that even stricter laws would have applied to refugees. For example, in 1835, New South Wales Governor, Sir Richard Bourke declared that “all people found occupying land without the authority of the government would be considered illegal trespassers”; this effectively made aboriginal Australians “illegal trespassers” in their own land. And after many non-white refugees entered Australia during World War 2 the Australian government wanted to deport those who did not leave voluntarily, however due to protest, needed population growth, and labour the government relaxed its policies (Racismnoway 2015). Tazreiter states that “persistent fears over border control and the protection of insiders or citizens from both real and imagined threats have been dominant and potent since early white settlement days” (Tazreiter 2010), this is quite evident in the above examples.

In contemporary Australian society, it is argued that the ‘othering’ of muslins is “…grounded in a series of interrelated cultural myths and stereotypes, largely based on the opposition of a ‘primitive’ Islamic culture…vilification of Australian Muslims continues the historic xenophobia by non-Muslim Australians, embodied in commonwealth policies aimed at discouraging ‘undesirable’ immigrants from coming to Australia” (Saniotis 2004). This sentiment seems to be reflected in current Australian policies where the current federal government implies that it prefers to take on Christian refugees over Muslims from the current Syrian migrant crisis (Bagshaw 2015). The Australian government states that this is on the bases of those who are ‘persecuted minorities’, however it is suggested by journalists who have been in Syria that the most vulnerable were Muslims (Pasha 2015).

Impact of race and religion for refugees in Australia references

This is an altered version of an assignment submitted for human rights studies.

The truth of photographs

…the camera’s ability to transform reality into something beautiful derives from its relative weakness as a means of conveying truth.” (Sontag 1973)

The above quote by Sontag (1973) refers to the fact that the end photograph someone sees has been influenced by the photographer’s choice of composition and any alterations made to the overall work, as a result the photograph does not necessarily reflect reality but reflects a ‘beautiful’ (I’d use the word constructed) version of the subject being photographed.

This is why photojournalists need to follow a strict code of ethics to ensure they do not mislead the public with their images, the code of ethics deal with photo manipulation, privacy and how ‘graphic’ it is (Burkholder 2009). It is important to note that even if photojournalists follow these ethical rules the end picture will not portray the truth; this is because ‘the truth’ is relative and contextual. For example in the 1994 US intervention of Haiti, also known as “Operation Uphold Democracy”, there were two photographs of US troops landing in Haiti which show the situation from different perspectives. One of the photographs depict US troops on the lookout putting their training into action (image 1 below) on the other hand another photographer captured the fact that those reported images were staged (image 2 below) (Ritchin 2008).

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Image 1 – © Alex Webb/Magnum

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Image 2 – © Alex Webb/Magnum

We need to keep this in mind when dealing with visual media for human rights activism as the images we display could easily be misinterpreted or portray the wrong meaning. However to create humanitarian images and depict the intended gaze the creator of the image must be aware how the image will portray the subjects to the spectators. In the book “Human Rights Film Festivals: Activism in Context “ Dr.Tascón (2015) explores the role of ‘the humanitarian gaze’ in film festivals but based on how easily visual media can be manipulated. To ensure we understand the issues the media is trying to portray it’s worth thinking about what gaze is being used, regardless of if we are spectating a film festival, the news, or any other source.

An interesting topic to think about is the fact that in modern society it’s not only photojournalists or professionals who will take photographs of events, amateur footage from smart phones and cameras may also provide insight into events. As such these armature images may help provide the general public gain a more impartial, or at least a broader range of, views for significant events. An example of this is in the Occupy Wall Street movement where activists formed makeshift media teams to show the people what was going on in the protests as the mainstream US media was either ignoring or attacking the movement (Al Jazeera 2012). These teams set up live streams on the internet so that people outside the movement could find out about the movement and what was going on inside it (Al Jazeera 2012). As we know today, the early gaze some US media attempted to set up for the movement was completely wrong.

Notes
Briefly “the humanitarian gaze” is the power relationship which is set up due to people observing the image; for example, INGO’s such as Oxfam use images of sick children to set up a relationship of the viewer (powerful, can aid) to starving children (weak, helpless). While such relationships are positive in the short term they have negative consequences later, I may explore this further at another time.

Images referenced above were retrieved from http://art-bunker.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/war-tricks.html

The truth of photographs references

  • Al Jazeera. 2012. ” Fault Lines – History of an occupation “. YouTube video, Posted by “Al Jazeera English”, March 21, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4VLYGfGDZg
  • Burkholder, Carolynne. 2009. “Online Journalism Ethics” School of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, http://journalismethics.info/online_journalism_ethics/photojournalism.htm.
  • Ritchin, Fred. 2008. “After Photography” New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
  • Sontag, Susan. 1973. “The Heroism of Vision” In “On Photography”, Page 87. New York: RosettaBooks LLC, 2005.
  • Tascón, S. M. 2015. “Human Rights Film Festivals: Activism in Context. Basingstoke” UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

This is an altered version of an assignment submitted for human rights studies.