Human Rights News

Darfur AP photo

March 4, 2009

While in China, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton avoided issues of human rights, focusing discussions on the economy and global warming much to the dismay of human rights advocates. Yet, last week both the United States and China issued reports criticizing each others’ human rights records.

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the annual Country Report on Human Rights. The report is mandated by Congress and reflects the internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the UN International Declaration of Human Rights.

From Voice of America:
The annual reports are mandated by a 1961 act of Congress to help legislators determine, among other things, eligibility of countries for U.S. foreign aid programs. This year's report, covering rights conditions in more than 190 countries in 2008, was forwarded to members of Congress on Wednesday as it was being publicly released.
From Secretary Clinton’s speech when introducing the report:
As Secretary of State, I will continue to focus my own energies on human rights, and I will engage as many others as I can to join me, both through traditional and untraditional challenges. I am looking for results. I am looking for changes that actually improve the lives of the greatest numbers of people. Hopefully, we will be judged over time by successful results from these efforts.

To begin, not only will we seek to live up to our ideals on American soil; we will pursue greater respect for human rights as we engage other nations and peoples around the world. Now, some of our work will be conducted in government meetings and official dialogues. That’s important to advancing our cause. But I believe strongly we must rely on more than one approach as we strive to overcome tyranny and subjugation that weakens the human spirit, limits human possibility, and undermines human progress. We will make this a global effort that reaches beyond governments alone. I intend for us to work with nongovernmental organizations, businesses, religious leaders, schools and universities as well as individual citizens, all of whom can play a vital role in creating a world where human rights are accepted, respected, and protected.
The report is considered controversial by some because it does not take a look at the human rights record of the United States. Karen Stewart, Acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor made this comment in a briefing she led at the State Department:
The U.S. Government will continue to hear and reply forthrightly to concerns about our own practices. We will continue to submit reports to international bodies, in accordance with our obligations under various human rights treaties to which we are a party.
China released a report outlining human rights violations in the U.S. The report is based on United Nations reports and media coverage and is actually quite accurate in painting the social conditions existing in the U.S.

From the Korean Times:
The Chinese report, by and large does not make accusations against the United States government. Instead, it tends to cite social conditions in the country, such as the prevalence of violent crimes, including 17,000 murders, 37.3 million people living in poverty, one out of every nine black men aged between 20-34 in prison and the lack of personal security.

The two countries, in other words, focus on each other's weak points: political rights in the case of China and social conditions in that of the United States.
Here is the full text of China's Human Rights Record of United States in 2008. The report concludes:
Respect to and protection of human rights is an important indication of civilization and progress of human society. Every government shoulders a common responsibility in committing itself to improvement of human rights conditions in the country. For years, the United States has positioned itself over other countries and released the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices annually to criticize human rights conditions in other countries, using it as a tool to interfere with and demonize other nations. In the meantime, the U.S. has turned a blind eye to its own violations of human rights. The U.S. practice of throwing stones at others while living in a glass house is a testimony to the double standards and hypocrisy of the United States in dealing with human rights issues, and has undermined its international image. We hereby advise the U.S. government to begin anew, face its own human rights problems with courage, and stop the wrong practice of applying double standards on human rights issues.
Warrant Issued for Bashir

The International Criminal Court (ICC) charged Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity including the “deliberate attempt to destroy ethnic groups deemed to be supporting rebel factions in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region." He is the first sitting head of state to be charged with war crimes against humanity.

At a press conference at The Hague, Netherlands, ICC spokesperson Laurence Blairon said:
"He is suspected of being criminally responsible ... for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan; murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing, and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property."
An estimated 300,000 Darfuris have died over the last six years because of combat or through starvation or premature death related to displacement. Over 2.5 million Darfuris have been forced to flee their homes because of the conflict.

The indictment received mixed world-wide reaction, as the Voice of America reports:
Egypt's foreign minister called for the Security Council to hold a special meeting to consider suspending the warrant, according to Egypt state media. But Libya's UN ambassador, currently serving as the Security Council president, said this week the council has no immediate plans to discuss the issue.

Several advocacy and human rights groups welcomed the news of the warrant. Human Rights Watch said the ICC's decision sends a signal that even top leaders can be held accountable for international crimes, and Amnesty International called on President Bashir to turn himself in. The International Crisis Group called on the international community to back the court's decision and urged the government of Sudan to cooperate.
Invisible Children is an organization that provides the public with an opportunity to bring awareness to this issue and to give people the chance to do something about the world’s “most neglected humanitarian emergency." Check out their Web site.
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Anonymous said...

China's Government has set up military hospitals all over Beijing and Shanghai in order to conduct organ harvesting for this fast growing market. Falun Dafa are prime candidates due to their healthy livers and so forth. The "patient" is kept alive and alert while the organs are harvested in order to prolong the organ quality. There is an ever increasing demand for younger organs as well, so girls as young as ten are being sent to the "political prisons" so their organs can be harvested as well.

I wonder what Hillary's stand on this issue is, or is she more interested in trade relations and play dough.

Anonymous said...

I just read the report on the Philippines...and it was complete and accurate.