In the global battle for human rights, who should speak for the victims?



Xinhua, People's Republic of China

Before Lecturing Others, U.S. Must Address its Own Abysmal Human Rights Record


Is the United States hypocritical for issuing a yearly report on human rights violations around the world, while it has committed and continues to commit human rights abuses of its own? According to this editorial from China's state-run Xinhua, before Washington criticizes other nations, it should get its own human rights house in order.




April 11 2011


People's Republic of China - Xinhua - Original Article (English)

BEIJING: On Sunday, China retorted to U.S. criticism on its human rights situation by publishing its own report on America's human rights record.


The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010 was released by the Information Office of China's State Council, or cabinet, in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 issued on April 8 by the U.S. Department of State.


China's report said the U.S. reports are "full of distortions and accusations about the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions, including China. However, the United States turned a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation, seldom mentioning it."


The United States has co-opted human rights as "a political instrument to defame the images of other nations and to pursue its own strategic interests," the report said. Illustrating the dismal human rights record of the U.S., China's report said that the United States has no credibility to pose as the world's "human rights protector."


"Nevertheless, year after year, the U.S. releases its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices to accuse and blame other nations for their human rights practices," the report said. It said that this policy fully exposes the hypocrisy and double standards of the United States on the issue of human rights, and its malicious plan to pursue hegemony under the pretext of human rights.


The report advises the U.S. government to "take concrete measures to check, improve and rectify its own human rights conditions and behavior in the field of human rights, and stop its hegemonic habit of using the issue of human rights to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries."




The report outlines that in the United States, government violations of civil and political rights are severe.


-- The privacy of citizens has been greatly undermined. Between October 1, 2008 and June 2, 2010, more than 6,600 air travelers have been subject to searches by electronic devices, nearly half of them American citizens. The report cites figures released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in September 2010.


-- The abuse and torture of suspects by U.S. law enforcement for the purpose of forcing confessions is serious, and "wrongful conviction occurs quite often."


-- While advocating Internet freedom, the U.S. in fact imposes fairly strict restrictions in cyberspace. It applies double standards on Internet freedom by requesting unrestricted "Internet freedom" in other countries, while imposing strict restrictions within its own territory. This has become an important diplomatic tool for putting pressure on and seeking hegemony over other countries.


-- While the U.S. regards itself as the "beacon of democracy," its democracy is based largely on money. According to media reports, 2010 U.S. House and Senate candidates shattered all fundraising records for a midterm election, taking in more than $1.5 billion as of October 24. The midterm election, held in November 2010, ultimately cost $3.98 billion, the most expensive in U.S. history.




-- One out of every five people in America is a victim of a crime every year. The United States has the highest incidence of violent crime in the world, and the lives, property and personal security of its people are not sufficiently protected.


In 2009, an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes, 15.6 million crimes against property and 133,000 robberies were committed against U.S. residents 12-years-old or older, and the rate of violent crime was 17.1 victims per 1,000 people. The figures are from the U.S. Department of Justice.


-- The United States also ranks first in the world in terms of the number of privately-owned guns, and has the highest incidence of gun-related crime. The report notes that on already rampant gun ownership, the United States exercises controls that are too lax. Some 90 million people own an estimated 200 million guns in the United States, which has a population of about 300 million. Statistics showed there were 12,000 gun murders a year in the United States. The report also highlighted the frequent campus shootings at colleges in the United States.




-- "Deep-seated racial discrimination in the United States has permeated every aspect of social life."


Minority groups confront employment discrimination. Black people are treated unfairly or excluded when it comes to promotions, welfare and employment. The report quoted U.S media. One-third of Black people reportedly confront discrimination at work, while only one-sixteenth would lodge a complaint.


-- The New York Times on September 23, 2010 reported that by the end of September 30, 2009, a record 803 Muslim workers had filed complaints about employment discrimination, up 20 percent from the previous year.


-- The report said U.S. minority groups have a higher unemployment rate than the national average, and don't enjoy the political status of White people.


-- The proportion of U.S. minorities living in poverty is high. The poverty rate for blacks was 25.8 percent in 2009. The poverty rates of those of Hispanic and Asian origin were 25.3 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively. This is much higher than non-Hispanic Whites, the poverty rate of which was 9.4 percent.


-- U.S. minority groups face obvious inequality in education, and healthcare statistics for African-Americans is worrisome.


-- Racial discrimination is evident in law enforcement and the judiciary. Hate crimes based on race are frequent, and the rights and interests of immigrants are not guaranteed.




The proportion of American people living in poverty has risen to record highs, according to the report.


-- A total of 44 million Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, four million more than that of 2008.


-- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the share of residents in poverty climbed to 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest level since 1994.


-- The number of homeless and hungry Americans increased sharply and the number of people without health insurance rises every year.


-- The unemployment rate in the United States remains stubbornly high. Statistics in the U.S. media show that from December 2007 to October 2010, a total of 7.5 million jobs were lost.




Gender discrimination widely exists in the United States, and women in the country often experience sexual assault and violence.


Statistics show that some 20 million women a year are raped in the country, some one fifth female students on campus are victims of sexual assault, and nearly 3,000 female soldiers were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008, up nine percent from the year before.


Women are also victims of U.S. domestic violence, with some 1.3 million domestic violence victims every year, with women accounting for 92 percent of those. Many U.S. children live in poverty, and their physical and mental welfare is hardly ensured, with nearly one in four children struggling with hunger.


The report also points out the severity of violence against children in the country, citing figures from the Love Our Children USA Web site, that every year, over three million children are victims of violence and that the actual number is likely to be three times higher.


Over 93,000 children are currently incarcerated in the United States, and between 75 and 93 percent of children have experienced at least one traumatic experience, including sexual abuse and neglect.


According to the report, pornographic content is rampant on the Internet and severely harms American children, as seven in 10 have accidentally accessed pornography on the Internet and one in three has done so intentionally.




The United States has a notorious record of international human rights violations, said the report.


U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused huge civilian casualties.


Figures from the WikiLeaks Web site reveal that from March 2003 through the end of 2009, there were up to 285,000 war casualties in Iraq, with 63 percent of the 109,000 people killed during the Iraq War being civilian. "U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and other regions have also brought tremendous casualties to local people," the report says.


The report cited the notorious "kill team" formed in Afghanistan by five soldiers from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S. forces. The team committed at least three murders, in which they randomly targeted and killed Afghan civilians, later dismembering the corpses and hoarding human bones.


In addition, U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops caused death and injury to 535 Afghan civilians in 2009. Among them, 113 were shot and killed, up 43 percent over 2008, the report quoted McClatchy Newspapers as saying.




The United States has been holding individuals captured under the pretext of the "war on terror" and with various methods abusing detainees, according to the report.


The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) established secret detention facilities to interrogate so-called "high-value detainees," said the report, citing a document submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2010.


According to the document, the CIA had taken custody of 94 detainees, and had employed "enhanced techniques" to varying degrees, including stress positions, extreme temperature changes, sleep deprivation and "waterboarding" in the interrogation of 28 of those detainees.




The United States has refused to sign several key international human rights conventions and failed to fulfill its international obligations, according to the report.


To date, the United States has ratified neither the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, nor the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, said the report.


In addition, the country hasn't ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been ratified by 96 countries, according to the report. A total of 193 countries have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, yet the United States is one of the very few countries that haven't ratified it, the report said.


In addition, the first report submitted by the U.S. government to the U.N. Human Rights Council on its domestic human rights situation during the U.N. Universal Periodic Review (August 20, 2010), received a record 228 recommendations from about 60 state delegations for improving its human rights situation.



These recommendations referred to, among other things, ratifying key international human rights conventions, rights of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples, racial discrimination and the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The United States, however, only accepted some 40 of them.


During the discussion about the United States, speakers from some delegations noted that America's commitment to human rights was far from satisfactory, and they urged the United States to face up to its human rights record and take concrete action to tackle its existing human rights problems, according to the report.


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