Shocking disrespect for rights

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 October, 2010, 12:00am

It has recently come to light that medical workers with the US government did experiments on people in Guatemala between 1946 and 1948 as part of research to fight the spread of the disease syphilis.

Some 696 people are said to have been used for the experiments but they weren't told. They included soldiers, prison inmates and mentally ill people.

It is shocking that the US government could have done such cruel things. I thought the US was a civilised place, but it seems I was wrong.

The purpose of the research was good, but there was no need to sacrifice lives to find treatments for diseases. Every life is valuable. The US government did not show proper respect for people's rights.

The medical profession's purpose is to save lives, not kill people. We are not laboratory mice.

Chan Yi

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Yi. Even though we think of people as being quite civilised today, it is not unusual to find out they have done terrible things in the past. What is important to remember is that it is 'in the past' and not being done today. While we would never excuse such actions now, in those days it was considered acceptable. Thankfully most of the world has moved on and become more aware of human rights.

Sad to say, though, humans are still being abused in various forms; in countries where the government thinks it is okay for men to beat their wives, or in others where people are treated like beasts of burden and made to work themselves to death for little pay.

The lessons we can take away from this harsh bite of reality are many: life is not fair; we are very lucky not to have been born into those circumstances; the work of helping our fellow humans is never done, but we are making progress; sometimes the struggle seems worthless, but look how far we have come.

Susan, Editor