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Personal Interview
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Project History
QUESTION 1: What do you know and think of the human rights movements in some countries in the past and present? How effective are they? Are they really necessary? What are some possible consequences, both good and bad?

RESPOND:

I donít know about any human rights movements and I donít if they are effective. So I donít know if they are really necessary. To be truthful, I donít really care, unless it was going to affect me. And about past human rights movement, I know about womenís rights movements, childrenís rights movements, and the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King. I am glad that those happened, but I wouldnít have wanted to join the movements for inexplicable reasons.
[Jenny, grade 10, female, African American]

I donít know too much about these activities, but if they are what the people want, then, they should happen.
[Jeff, grade 10, male, Caucasian]

I donít really know much about movements in other countries. I do now that there are human rights abuses in places like China, and many Middle Eastern nations. I think that human rights movements bring about positive consequences most of the time.
[Tierney, grade 10, female, Caucasian]

I am not aware of nay recent or current human rights movement. But often, they are necessary for the people to express their opinions
[S., grade 10, female, Asian American]

Human rights have become an important concept to the call for equality and justice in many parts of the world. However, it has also become a political topic in itself. By this I mean that politicians, some activists, and others use it to advance their own interest. An important dimension of human rights is that it might not mean the same thing to people of different culture. Nevertheless, these rights are sometimes used to force others become like the originators of this concept. So, I think these movements are becoming more effective in this sense (the homogenization of cultures around the world) rather than in promoting justice and equality.
[Mr. N, physics teacher, male, Turk]

QUESTION 2: What are your opinions on the extent of human rights? How should it be balanced with state interest? Does the state have the right, under any condition, to suppress the voice of the peopleís voice?

RESPOND:

I think humans have all the rights they need, sometimes too many right now. The state has no right to suppress the peopleís voice just because that would be downright grimy.
[Jenny, grade 10, female, African American]

People should be able to express their opinions, and the government should listen and follow the will of the people.
[Jeff, grade 10, male, Caucasian]

As a general rule, the rights of the individual should be supported, as long as they do not harm the general good. For example, war demonstrations are fine, but selling state secrets to the enemy is not. The state does not have the right to suppress the voice of the people or to restrict their ideas and opinions, but it does have the right to punish actions that harm others, which may stem from these ideas.
[Tierney, grade 10, female, Caucasian]

I donít think it is right to suppress the peopleís voice, but, in some cases, it is necessary for the general good.
[Kathy, grade 10, female, African American]

People should have a right to voice their opinion, but not to a n extent that it would lead to physical violence. There are certain actions the government must take in order to ensure public safety, even at the expense of personal freedom. But the government never has the right to suppress the voice of the people, because when that happens, it is no longer for the general good.
[S., grade 10, female, Asian American]

State is a political institution that has the right to use violence if needed. In this sense it is both a source of stabilization and political decision-making. It becomes crucial to understand each case in terms of this balance between the stateís dual roleóto preserve human rights and to ensure security. I believe that citizens have a great role in shaping the stateís interpretation of each case. We cannot simply let a small group of people to decide what is the right thing to do.
[Mr. N, physics teacher, male, Turk]

QUESTION 3: What do you think of dissident activities? Does it really make any impact?

RESPOND:

I think sometimes dissident activities are needed to make a point. But I generally disagree with them, depending on how oppressed the people are. They do work sometimes, but more often the only impact is the further persecution of those involved.
[Jeff, grade 10, male, Caucasian]

Dissident activities work only if they are coupled with actions to produce changes within the government. For example, a large crowd protesting will draw much public attention, but will do little to advance the cause unless this crowd could also vote and has a good relationship with its elected representatives. But yes, dissident activities do have an impact, as they might move the mass to action. However, the government structure must be able to adapt the opinions of the dissidents rather than crumbling before them.
[Tierney, grade 10, female, Caucasian]

In order for a nation to have a healthy political atmosphere, it is necessary for the people to constantly question all of its actions, for in doing so, the people can better their ruling body. The only negative consequence to it is that differences in opinions might lead to political dispute and chaos.
[S., grade 10, female, Asian American]

Protests under totalitarian regimes are necessary, since it is impossible to see the pieces of truth existing in all positions otherwise. However, by definition, dissident activities can never be too influential. They will always be marginal. Still, this does not mean that the role they play is insignificant. The only possible danger in dissident activities is that they may become so intent on their goal that they will use all means to achieve it. This is dangerous for both mainstream society as well as dissident groups.
[Mr. N, physics teacher, male, Turk]
2003 Seevak [Andrei Sakharov].