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Blogwatch

February 27, 2009
U.S. State Dept. issues report on world human rights abuses

Seal of the U.S. Department of State.

This week, the U.S. State Department released its extensive 2008 country reports on human rights practices, a country-by-country evaluation of worker rights, free movement, privacy and other basic expectations of the State Department.

The report covers often-criticized China, whose authorities claim that the U.S. evaluations — including reports of state persecution of ethnic minorities and dissidents — willfully ignored and distorted basic facts.

Blogger Akhila Kolisetty at “Justice for All” disapproves of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent statement that “our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis.”

I’m shocked that Clinton chose to prioritize economic issues over human rights — not that those issues aren’t important, but simply because she’s denying that human rights is important. By choosing to separate human rights from all these other issues, Clinton also fails to understand that all these problems are interrelated. How can you progress on climate change or security when human rights at home are being violated?

The State Department also cited instances of political imprisonment and media control, among other charges, in Cuba. Despite such charges, Marvin Kalb of GlobalPost wonders if Cuba is the site of a “golden opportunity” that President Obama may be missing in terms of engagement.

Raul Castro has launched a program of “reform,” but it appears to be successful only in generating demands for more reform. What had once been taken for granted in Cuba — unmistakable advances in education, health care and pensions — are now under a spreading cloud of doubt. I’m told the average state wage is $18 a month, clearly no longer adequate, if it ever was. And ration cards can provide no more than half the monthly food needs of a family.

Optimists exist, and they catch glimpses of a promising tomorrow. Oil, for instance: Cuba controls a corner of the Gulf of Mexico that has oil reserves estimated at 10 to 15 billion barrels, just waiting to be developed. Would it not be better for the U.S. to be moderately dependent on Cuba for its oil than on Saudi Arabia?

And, buried deep in the State Department, but ready for rapid excavation after the Bush years, are numerous policy briefs for a considerable expansion of Cuban-American relations, including joint operations against drugs and organized crime and a lifting of the embargo in all communications and travel. Cuba could quickly become a very attractive market.

For more, listen to our online radio show on Cuba and the U.S. In other human rights news, Serbia’s arrest of accused war criminals who operated under Slobodan Milosevic led to five convictions involving 22-year sentences.

Balkan blogger “Grey Falcon” finds the acquittal of ex-Serbian president Milan Milutinovic bigger news, more atypical that the story of the convictions.  Falcon sees political motivations behind the acquittal:

The purpose of today’s verdict was threefold: to legitimize the NATO aggression from 1999 (i.e. NATO action was necessary and appropriate because the Serbs were engaging in a criminal conspiracy to murder and expel Albanians); to buttress the “Independent State of Kosovo,” proclaimed last February but so far recognized by only 55 governments; and to brand Serbia as the aggressor and criminal, rather than the victim of NATO’s aggression, occupation of Kosovo and the ethnic cleansing of its citizens that followed.

The UK has admitted complicity in the American practice of extraordinary rendition, which they had previously denied.

British blogger Stephen Linlithgow mocks Tony Blair’s previous denial of collusion:

To be fair to Tony Blair it now appears that collusion is indeed the wrong way to describe it. The Labour government appear to have actively handed over suspects to them to catch these flights. Far more than even Sir Menzies Campbell hinted at on that particular Wednesday when it was only assumed that our airspace or airfields were being used.

Venezeula is just one of several countries that responded negatively to the State Department report.  “VIO News Blog” reports on the Venezuelan condemnation of the findings, which claim that the country  has a partial judiciary and harasses the media:

Venezuela on Thursday condemned the report and categorically rejected what it says are false allegations and a clear example of political meddling in its internal affairs. Contrary to the impression given by the report, Venezuela’s opposition parties enjoy all the political freedoms that are found in other democratic countries and have in fact made significant gains in recent elections.  Meanwhile, freedom of speech is fully respected, as is demonstrated by the fact that a majority of private media outlets remain ardent and vocal critics of the government.

The report offers no evaluation of U.S. human rights practices.

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Comments

3 comments

#3

A FRIEND WAS AND IS NOW BEING FORCED TO DO PROSTITUTION IN SINGAPORE . AN AGENCY PROMISED HER WORK IN SINGAPORE . PAID FOR HER TO GO THERE . NOW MAKE HER DO PROSTITUTION TO PAY THEM BACK . I HAVE FOUND MANY PHILIPPINE GIRLS ARE LIED TO ABOUT WORKING THERE . THEN MADE TO DO PROSTITUTION TO PAY THE AGENCY BACK . HOW DO I KNOW THIS IS TRUE ? JULITA CANEOUSE GOMEZ CALLED ME CRYING AND ASKED ME TO HELP HER . SHE IS A FEMALE 36 YEARS OLD . PHILIPPINE . I WATCH YOUR PROGRAM EVERY DAY ON WQED PITTSBURG . I HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT SINGAPORE ABUSE . BUYING AND SELLING WOMEN FROM THE PHILIPPINES . THIS AGENCY .
THANK YOU ,
KEVIN R. MC INTYRE .

#2

We do not know the pain of the fallen
till we have fallen ourselves in pain
to know what it is if still alive to look up
to the cloud filled skies through the weary
eyes of that frail creature surely ennobled
with the title…Human Being.

From not too far away Another stands in
the disguise of a Mistrusted Stranger.
The Lonely Embodiment of a Mental Assessment
of an Outer Manifestation of an Inner Thought…
all this deep thinking from one so dismally frail
now lying helpless on the cold hard ground.

We rise slowly as we can and rise though
injured and in pain to become a more personified
study again of what Life literally means when
we dare to rise from the pain of the feeling
of being so long forsaken within all the miseries of our own finite selves and from the long absences of natural friendships which between man and man could restore evenso a more divine sense of fellowship to put flesh back onto
the bones of those resting deep in the valley
for so long fallen into the seemingly centuries long pain of decay and despair.

#1

Which nation-state has bloodstained hands? A few. Is the US among them?

As a state sponsor of terror, example starting with the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the invasion and occupation of Viet Nam; invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq; the toppling of Mossadegh in Iran; a 60-year track record of destabilizing elected governments and freedom movements in various parts of the world, what gives the US the right to monitor human rights in sovereign nation-states? The US should absolutely monitor its own egregious actions in violation of human rights and accept the condemnation of nonpartisan non-governmental groups like Amnesty and HRW.

The vitally important work of developing (rather than merely monitoring) human rights world-wide, is best carried out by a *combination* of intergovernmental orgs. like the UN, and NGOs like Amnesty and HRW.

The development of Ethical Democracy requires a far more equitable reordering of geopolitical power and civil society priorities.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
http://EthicalDemocracy.blogspot.com
see US and NATO out of South Asia
see Theory of Systemic Whiteness and related articles.

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