Human Rights Report Released

March 14, 2008

"Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free." - 14th Dalai Lama

The 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices was released by the U.S. Department of State this week. The 5,000 page report covers human rights issues in 196 countries, and is receiving much criticism from nations around the world. The document is considered to be arrogant and hypocritical by many countries who object to having the United States pointing an accusing finger at them for alleged human rights abuses. After all, the U.S. is a country with it's own serious human rights abuses - accusations of torture in Guantanamo Bay, thousands of homeless living on streets across the nation, racism and hate crimes, millions of uninsured children, and, of course, the U.S. is known as a destination for trafficked women, men, and minors.

The report, which is written as a requirement of the U.S. Congress in compliance with Sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, acknowledges the criticism in the preface:

"As we publish these reports, the Department of State remains mindful of both international and domestic criticism of the United States’ human rights record. The U.S. government will continue to hear and reply forthrightly to concerns about our own practices, including the actions we have taken to defend our nation from the global threat of terrorism. Our laws, policies, and practices have evolved considerably in recent years, and we continue to strive to protect innocent civilians from attack while honoring our longstanding commitment to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. As part of this effort, the United States submits reports to international bodies in accordance with its obligations under various human rights treaties to which it is a party."

Included in the section of the report entitled, "the world's most systematic human rights violators" were: North Korea, Sudan, Burma, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Eritrea.

Outraged nations across the globe protested the hypocrisy of the report including:

Sri Lanka:
"The report presents a distorted view of the actual situation in Sri Lanka during the year 2007 and is unfortunately a litany of unsubstantiated allegations, innuendo and vituperative exaggerations. It was noted that there was a suspicious similarity between the comments made in the report and the views expressed by those deliberately seeking to denigrate the Government of Sri Lanka. While Sri Lanka had concerns with respect to human rights in the late 2006 and early 2007, the government had taken a range of positive steps to address these concerns. The Government was confident that the situation will continue to improve. Human rights is an important issue for the Government of Sri Lanka."
"The State Department said in the report that "countries in which power was concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers remained the world’s most systematic human rights violators."

Al-Sadig accused the US of being “the biggest violator of human rights in the world”.

The Sudanese official said that “Guantanamo Bay detention camp and secret prisons around the world” are examples of US abuse of human rights.

He also said that Sudan is committed to human rights which are part of national legislation based on Islamic Shari’a law."
"The spokesman also said that the government is disappointed at the report's lack of balance as it failed to mention the significant reform measures taken by the caretaker government for consolidating and sustaining democracy."
"The Foreign Ministry says U.S. criticism is based on groundless accusations and biased sources, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. That organization said Russian parliamentary elections in December did not meet democratic standards."
"China on Wednesday voiced strong opposition to the U.S. State Department’s 2007 Human Rights Report that criticizes China’s human rights conditions.

“China is willing to have dialogue and exchange of views with other countries on the human rights issue”, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

However, the spokesman stressed that the country sternly opposes to any intervention to the internal affairs of other countries in excuse of human rights concern."

China's response was a their own 6-page report on the human rights abuses in the United States. I read it, and it was accurate and chilling.

"By publishing the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2007, the report says it aims to "help the people have a better understanding of the real situation in the United States and as a reminder for the United States to reflect upon its own issues".

The report was broken into seven sections:

I. On Life, Property and Security of Person   
The increase of violent crimes in the United States poses a serious threat to its people's lives, liberty and personal security.

II. On Human Rights Violations by Law Enforcement and Judicial Departments
The abuse of their power by law enforcement and judicial departments in the United States has seriously violated the freedom and rights of its citizens.

III. On Civil and Political Rights
The freedom and rights of individual citizens are being increasingly marginalized in the United States.

IV. On Economic, Social and Cultural rights
The deserved economic, social and cultural rights of American citizens have not been properly protected.

V. On Racial Discrimination
Racial discrimination is a deep-rooted social illness in the United States.

VI. On the Rights of Women, Children 
The conditions of women and children in the United States are worrisome.

VII. On the United States' Violation of Human Rights in Other Countries
The United States has a notorious record of trampling on the sovereignty of and violating human rights in other countries.

The Chinese report states:
"We hereby advise the U.S. government to face its own human rights problems and give up the unwise practices of applying double standards on human rights issues."

Meanwhile in Tibet

Chinese military troops have surrounded three of the largest monasteries in Tibet and there are reports of gunshots, death and injuries.

The AFP reports:

"The unrest spread outside Lhasa, with monks leading a rally of up to 4,000 people in Xiahe, Gansu province, the site of one of Tibetan Buddhism's most important monasteries, the Free Tibet Campaign said, citing Tibetan sources there.

The unrest followed three days of protests by hundreds of monks in Lhasa, India and elsewhere around the world that marked the anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951, a year after sending troops in to "liberate" the region from what it said was feudal rule. The Dalai Lama, fled to India following the failed 1959 uprising.

But Tibet's Communist government blamed groups close to the Dalai Lama for "organised, premeditated and masterminded... sabotage," Xinhua said early Saturday."

The Dalai Lama said that "the protests were a result of public resentment of the "brute force" employed by China to maintain control of the region for more than 50 years.

"I therefore appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people," he said in a statement issued from his base in India.

"I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence."