historians, this discussion nevertheless allows consideration of the central issue of the chapter, that is, the extent to which efforts to undo systemic infliction of injury and to respond to abuse become preoccupied with reductionist Lockean constructions of the state and of the individual, thus overlooking the actual dynamics of the situations in question.
The TiananmenSquaremassacre, following upon the heady months-long Beijing Spring, has for many in the West become at least a kind of touchstone and point of reference to contemporary China
This book argues for greater openness in the ways we approach human rights and international rights promotion, and in so doing brings some new understanding to old debates. Starting with the realities of abuse rather than the liberal architecture of rights, it casts human rights as a language for probing the political dimensions of suffering. Seen in this context, the predominant Western models of right generate a substantial but also problematic and not always emancipatory array of practices. These models are far from answering the questions about the nature of political community that are raised by the systemic infliction of suffering. Rather than a simple message from ‘us’ to ‘them’, then, rights promotion is a long and difficult conversation about the relationship between political organisations and suffering. Three case studies are explored: the Tiananmen Square massacre, East Timor's violent modern history and the circumstances of indigenous Australians. The purpose of these discussions is not to elaborate on a new theory of rights, but to work towards rights practices that are more responsive to the spectrum of injury that we inflict and endure.
Part II is a consideration of three case studies: the TiananmenSquaremassacre of 1989; East Timor; and Australian Aboriginal health. The case studies were not chosen as examplary of the arguments put forward here – indeed in many respects they challenge those arguments. All, in their own way, are high-profile issues internationally or on a national stage, referred to repeatedly by the media in terms ranging from bell-like clarity (Tiananmen) to moral ambiguity and political confusion (Indigenous Australians). All occupy public as well as specialist imaginations
and underpins international treaties and declarations.
The following three case studies look at quite different situations. The first considers an event: the TiananmenSquaremassacre in China in 1989. This case study looks at the way a language of indignation that draws significantly on Lockean models of the state, political community and human rights may hinder understanding of and response to particular situations of abuse – even when that situation, in this case a textbook example of the grave abuse of citizens by their own