March 8, 2005
HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT: A 'MASTERPIECE OF AMERICAN HYPOCRISY'
** Critics cite Gitmo and Abu Ghraib as reasons why the U.S. "is in no position to point fingers."
** Other dailies praise the report's "credible and unsparing analysis."
** "Harsher rhetoric" indicates human rights now "condition" U.S. policy towards allies.
** Pro-PRC papers blast the report's "lengthy and distorted assault on China."
'No right to talk about human rights'-- Many writers assailed the report for omitting the U.S. as a "serious violator of human rights," arguing that "excesses committed by the U.S." in Iraq, Guantanamo and elsewhere "undermine any moral authority America might seek to claim." The U.S. "should be the subject of world condemnation," declared Morocco's pro-opposition Al Alam, because its troops "set human society back to the pre-human era at Abu Ghraib." Given the U.S.' "tarnished" image, the "monumentally misleading" report reflects the U.S.' "hypocritical and deceitful" foreign policy, added Bangladesh's independent Prothom Alo.
The report 'should be considered seriously'-- Moderate dailies saw "much merit" in the report's "justifiable criticism." South Africa's balanced Business Day hailed the "critical but nuanced document" as "well-researched," while Taiwan's pro-independence Taipei Times judged the report's advice to their leaders "friendly and well-intentioned." Thai papers saw the report's points as a "basis for improving" the status of human rights in Thailand; elite Matichon urged its readers to "stay calm, honestly analyze the problems [mentioned in the report] and find ways to rectify them" instead of overreacting to the U.S.' "unsolicited interference."
'Determined to make' allies 'uncomfortable'-- Observers stated that human rights issues now "play an important political role" in U.S. foreign relations. Moscow's business-oriented Kommersant labeled human rights a "cornerstone of U.S. policy." Outlets emphasized the report's "strong criticism" of regional partners as proof of this new focus, ranging from "harsh language toward Saudi Arabia and Egypt" to "exaggerated allegations" against Bangladesh. The West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam noted "unprecedented harshness" towards "certain countries that until recently have been considered U.S. allies"; Bangkok's conservative Siam Rath blasted this tendency as "back-stabbing."
'A fig leaf for its hegemonism'-- Mainland Chinese media, including independent Hong Kong outlets, united to blast the report's "display of hypocrisy," seeing a "double standard" in light of the U.S.' own "serious human rights violations." They added that the "arrogant and ignorant" U.S. merely seeks to "stir up troubles in China." Official Global Times expressed "strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition" to Washington's "pointless" attempt to blacken China's human rights record. Hong Kong's pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po added that the U.S. "frequently uses human rights as an excuse to interfere in other countries' internal affairs."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprites foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 36 reports from 17 countries over 1 - 8 March 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed in order from the most recent date.
GERMANY: "Morality And Human Rights"
Wolfgang Koydl filed for center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (3/2): "For decades, the State Department has submitted a Human Rights Report on the situation of human rights in the world. For decades, the Iraq of despot Saddam Hussein has played an inglorious role. This year again there is a chapter on Iraq...and the only difference is that Saddam has been ousted and that the cruelties were committed under the supervision of a civilian transition government that was installed by the U.S. occupational force. The report seems to be grist to the mill for those who have always suspected America of hypocrisy and said the U.S was only interested in power and oil.... But this conclusion is wrong. An hypocrite would try to cover up incidents as they are laid down in the report...for it is the objective of this publicity to end this deplorable situation. What remains is the accusation of applying double standards. Why is Washington closely watching developments all over the world but excludes itself? But this accusation involuntarily hides a great compliment. Even critics have confidence only in the United States in writing a credible and unsparing analysis of their own human rights violations."
RUSSIA: "Friendship With Bush No Exemption From Discussion On Human Rights"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (3/2): "Importantly, strong criticism of Russia and other former Soviet republics included in its sphere of interests came a mere four days after the Putin-Bush meeting in Bratislava where a lot was said about democracy in Russia and democratization processes in the rest of the former U.S.S.R. This way Washington reminded Moscow that personal friendship with George Bush is no exemption from discussions on a topic which, while being unpleasant to Russia is seen by Americans as a cornerstone of U.S. policy."
CROATIA: "U.S. Still Supports The Death Penalty"
Gordana Tintor commented in the Zagreb-based government-owned Vjesnik (3/3): "While death penalty opponents hope that the Supreme Court decision is ‘another step toward full eradication of that cruel practice,’ the fact remains that as many as 66 percent of Americans support the death penalty. As respectable human rights defenders claim, the United States is, with the license to kill children-offenders, reducing its own claims that it is a ‘progressive force in defense of human rights’.”
CYPRUS: "Uncle Sam's Shame"
The independent English-language Cyprus Weekly wrote (3/4): "The annual reports by the U.S. State Department on the human rights situation in Cyprus have always sparked strong local criticism for being deliberately misleading in an effort to whitewash Turkey's continuing war crimes and human rights violations. This year's report is more monumentally misleading than ever, by going as far as to blame the Cyprus government for the international boycott of Ercan airport in the occupied north, instead of clarifying that this is the direct result of the Turkish occupation and the fact that the breakaway state is branded illegal by the United Nations. The new report also breaks new ground by clearly seeking revenge against the Greek Cypriots for rejecting the Annan Plan, which is so staunchly backed by Washington, even though its provisions restricting the refugees' right to return amount to a violation of fundamental human rights, something that any impartial report should have stressed. The deliberate attempt of the report to mislead and to absolve Turkey of blame is also stressed by its continuing refusal to adopt the clear judgments of the Human Rights Court of the Council of Europe that hold Turkey guilty of continuing gross violations of human rights in Cyprus that amount to war crimes.... The whitewash continues in the separate report on Turkey, where there is no mention whatsoever of Turkey's culpability in the invasion and continuing illegal occupation of Cyprus."
TURKEY: "What Kind Of Shamelessness Is This?"
Ibrahim Karagul wrote in Islamist opinion maker Yeni Safak (3/3): “After seeing the U.S. 2004 Human Rights report, I couldn’t stop saying ‘what kind of shamelessness is this?’ I am not going to debate the content of the report. In its Turkey section, there is no new discovery other than the ‘Yarsanists’(cult of angels). Many of us heard this word for the first time when we read the report, and a prize should be given to the U.S. diplomat who discovered this cult. It is shameful that the U.S. still publishes the Human Rights Report. As a serious violator of human rights, how can the U.S. talk about freedom and human rights. There are the examples of Guantanamo, Iraq, many prison camps, and many torture cases. Than there is the massacre in Fallujah.... The spokesman of the Iraq Health Ministry, Dr. Halid el-Sigali...stressed that the U.S. used chemical weapons, mustard gas, and nerve gas in the Fallujah attacks. Now there are hundreds of dead animals on the streets of Fallujah. Why does no one pay attention to this news? Which human rights you are talking about? What right do you have to publish a human rights report? What kind of shamelessness is this?”
"If The U.S. Doesn’t Mind"
Oktay Eksi commented in mass-appeal Hurriyet (3/2): “I wish our American friends would decide soon where to place Turkey. This time, in the 2004 Human Rights report, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky compared democracy in Turkey with that of Iran and Afghanistan. Former Secretary Colin Powell labeled Turkey as an example of ‘moderate Islam.’ Let me remind you that until today, the U.S. used to call us first ‘underdeveloped’, then ‘developing’, after realizing that they could sell anything to Turkey as ‘emerging market’. And, from time to time, just to flatter Turkey, the U.S. calls us a ‘strategic partner’ and a ‘reliable ally’. However, if the U.S. doesn’t mind, it is a bit too much to compare Turkish democracy with democracy in Iraq and Afghan democracies. Yes, democracy is not perfect in Turkey, but nor do we compare it with American democracy. In other words, if the U.S. wanted to compare the democracies in Indonesia, Iraq, and Afghanistan with a worn-out democracy, then they should put their own country’s name there and not Turkey’s. Democracies survive in states that practice the rule of law. Such states apply the same laws to everyone in the country, citizens and foreigners alike. That is how it is in Turkey. But in the US, different laws are applied to foreigners, especially Muslims. Turkish media works differently than the U.S. media. The U.S. press doesn’t reflect the facts to the people, but only the information the U.S. administration gives them. In the human rights report, the U.S. mentions the continuing torture in Turkey but never mentions the torture at Abu Gharaib. Now you tell me which country has more democracy and law?!”
WEST BANK: “On The Threshold Of A New Middle East”
Mohammed Yaghi opined in independent Al-Ayyam (3/3): “The part in the State Department’s 2004 Human Rights report that particularly grabbed my attention was the unprecedented harshness in dealing with certain countries that until recently have been considered U.S. allies.... During the Cold War, these reports used to focus on human rights violations committed by the Eastern bloc and its allies. U.S.allied countries, which practiced the most abhorrent human rights violations, were never mentioned. The report’s language has greatly changed since the demolition of the Berlin Wall, but it had never reached the level of boldness of this year’s report...including criticizing Arab countries that have been viewed by the public as America’s closest allies.”
MOROCCO: "A Report That Lacks Credibility"
Abdullah Bakkali opined in pro-opposition Istiqlal-party-published Arabic-language Al Alam (3/3): "The U.S. State Department insists on maintaining a strange, long-standing tradition of issuing an annual report on human rights conditions for most countries of the world except, of course, for the United States. The U.S. is not a local, regional or international legal institution. It is not a U.N. organization. No one, including America, has the right to monitor or assess human rights conditions in the world except U.N. affiliated commissions.... A country that established the terrible Guantanamo camp, and whose soldiers' behavior set human society back to the pre-human era at Abu Ghraib prison, as well in other camps at Al Rashid in Iraq and in Afghanistan, should be the subject of world condemnation and has no right to talk about human rights in the world. A country that tortures prisoners and then hands them over to Third World regimes; a country that practices the death penalty and implements it via inhumane methods; a country that expels journalists for simply opposing U.S. foreign policy; a country that has instituted a counter-terrorism act (Patriot Act), while criticizing others for doing the same; a country that practiced ethnic cleansing against native Indians; a country whose warplanes do not see any problem with bombarding entire families and explaining that it was by mistake; such a country has absolutely no right to monitor human rights in the world. But America is like the camel who does not see his own hump, only other camels’ humps."
"Human Rights: An Overwhelming American Report. Four Years Of Progress Up In Smoke"
Independent French-language L'Economiste opined (3/2): "The latest State Department report on human rights is without appeal for Morocco. Four years of progress has gone up in smoke, the situation has even greatly deteriorated, however Morocco was treated better than its Algerian or Tunisian neighbors. The State Department reports are to taken very seriously. They condition, in large part, America’s policies with respect to its partners."
QATAR: "U.S. Human Rights Report"
Government-funded, semi-independent Al Jazeera television station observed on its "Harvest of the Day" report (2/28): "A U.S. official admitted that the U.S. itself also violates human rights in various detention centers, although he refused to talk about the transport of some detainees to Arab states criticized in the report.... The harsh language toward Saudi Arabia and Egypt did not surprise many observers, despite the U.S. need for their assistance in terms of oil, fighting terrorism, and the peace process.... The moral authority of the report has decreased in recent years, because the U.S. image in the world has been tarnished, and the U.S. has gone from the country of freedom, rights, and the Statue of Liberty, to the country of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the shipment of detainees, with the blessing of the U.S., to torture cells in Arab countries.”
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "Assessing Human Rights In The U.S."
Xie Xiang commented in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (3/4): “The Information Office of State Council of China issued its ‘2004 human rights report on the U.S.’ The report reveals that the U.S. has at least six significant human rights problems of its own, including: first, crime and violence are rampant in the U.S.; second, so-called U.S. democracy is controlled by money; third, poverty, hunger and homelessness cast a dark shadow over U.S. society--noteworthy it that the U.S. refused to join the `International Pact for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;’ fourth, racial discrimination exists at every level in American society; fifth, the condition of American women and children is worrisome; and, sixth, the world has been shocked by the abominable behavior of U.S. soldiers and their treatment of prisoners in Iraq. Human rights experts indicate that U.S. accusations against China in its Human Rights Report use mostly unclear resources and vague wording. Conversely, the Chinese Human Rights Report on the U.S. uses well-known facts and exact numbers. China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the U.S.’ pointless criticism of China's human rights record. The U.S. double standard has received the condemnation of many countries around the world.”
"Annual U.S. Human Rights Report Arbitrarily Criticizes China’s Human Rights Record”
Tang Xin maintained in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (3/2): "Around the world, the annual U.S. human rights report is broadly referred to as the ‘hypocritical report'.... Regarding China, this year’s report has made a lengthy and distorted assault on China’s treatment of its Tibetan citizens, and its actions against East Turkish terrorists.... Of course, the U.S. fails to mention its own serious human rights failings. The U.S. clearly uses a double standard when it comes to the issue of human rights.... The facts are clear: A large number of women, children and other Iraqi citizens have been innocent victims of the U.S. military during the Iraq War. The U.S. has also committed serious abuse against defenseless prisoners of war. How can a country with a record of such serious human rights violations in Iraq chastise other countries for human rights violations? It is thus not surprising that people around the world refer to the report as `an American-style report of superiority and hypocrisy.’”
"Human Rights Report Evades Domestic Human Rights Problems, Prisoner-Abuse Acandal"
Official Shanghai Municipal Committee-run Jiefang Ribao said (3/2): "The U.S. has evaded the serious human rights problems existing in its country, fully exposing the double standards which this country holds on human rights issues.... A country which has committed such a large-scale violation of Iraqi human rights actually wants to 'grade' the human rights conditions of various countries, and no wonder some people have called it a 'U.S.-style superiority complex and display of hypocrisy.'"
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "First, Look In The Mirror"
Frank Ching wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (3/8): "This year, the U.S. was especially vulnerable to charges of arrogance and hypocrisy because of widely publicized cases of its troops subjecting Iraqi prisoners to demeaning treatment, including torture. Moreover, there have been widespread and credible reports of America sending terror suspects to other countries to be tortured.... For Washington to sit in moral judgment on the rest of the world is the height of hubris, especially when the U.S. itself has been found to have feet of clay. It is a situation that must be changed, sooner rather than later. If Washington intends to continue to monitor the situation of human rights in the world, it should not leave itself out of the study. The U.S. may be the sole superpower, but it must not behave like a bully. Or else, before long, China will not be the only country to retaliate."
"U.S. Human Rights Report Is Impudent"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (3/2): "If a government issues a global report to comment on global issues, they should talk about their own situation and try to 'identify their own inadequacies' before criticizing others. Nevertheless, Uncle Sam alone always criticizes others but never himself. The 2004 global Human Rights Report made comments on the so-called human rights situations in more than 196 countries around the world. The U.S. was not included in the report. Is the human rights situation in the U.S. so perfect that no criticism can be made at all?.... The war on terrorism had largely crippled Washington's authority on human rights issues.... China's human rights situation is, of course, not yet satisfactory, especially in the rural areas, where the economic conditions are bad, their culture and education are backward and the legal system is not perfect. People's rights are not fully protected. However, the Chinese government did not deny the fact and they are working very hard to improve the situation.... The report commented on the Hong Kong SAR government. However, the content was 'totally unrelated' to human rights. Once again, it shows that some people in the U.S. government are arrogant and ignorant."
"U.S.: Fake Human Rights And Real Hegemony"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po editorialized (3/2): "The U.S. State Department issued the global Human Rights Report to criticize the human rights records of China, as well as many other countries. It arouses indignation because the report went so far as to tarnish China for making use of counter terrorism to suppress 'Tibet independence' elements, and it also accused China of abusing prisoners. We urge the U.S. government to stop imposing hegemonism and power politics in the scope of human rights. We urge them to stop using human rights to interfere in other countries' internal affairs. They should not use a double standard in the scope of human rights. The U.S. should see the human rights problems in its own country and how it has infringed upon other countries' human rights. Only in this way can dialogue on human rights issues be conducted equally. Otherwise, it will only expose the fake human rights and the real hegemony of the U.S.... In the U.S., violence runs wide, people's lives and safety lack protection and racial discrimination is deeply rooted. Externally, it waged war, abused war prisoners and brought disaster to the lives of many people. The U.S. itself has serious human rights problems and it basically does not have the right to criticize other countries. The U.S. frequently uses human rights as an excuse to interfere in other countries' internal affairs. It proves that human rights have become a fig leaf for its hegemonism. If people in the White House have self-knowledge, they should identify their own inadequacies and think about how to improve their own human rights."
"Unilateralism In The Scope Of Human Rights"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked in an editorial (3/2): "The U.S. State Department issued the 2004 Human Rights Report and it wantonly criticized the 'human rights situation' of 196 countries around the world. The Human Rights Report has become routine business for the U.S. State Department each year. Since the report is biased and lacks fairness, every year the report incurs displeasure and repudiation of many countries, putting the U.S. in a passive and embarrassing situation. It is not appropriate for a country to use its own standard, subjective judgment and certain political motives to 'evaluate' other countries' situation. This can be treated as unilateralism in the scope of human rights.... People can interpret the U.S. criticisms, as the U.S. government does not like the current political system of China. They believe that China should adopt the western system. It seems that they want to stir up troubles in China. Such comments that allow the minority to spoil the interests of the majority are hardly convincing and acceptable.... Since every country has various human rights problems, discussions on an equal ground are needed to resolve the problems. Using unilateralism or drawing one's own standard is basically not practical."
TAIWAN: "Taiwan Outshines China In Rights"
The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times editorialized (3/3): “Since the U.S. Human Rights Report contains a 56,000-word section on China and an 11,000-word section on Taiwan, a detailed comparison of their human-rights record is a time-intensive procedure. But even a superficial review makes it clear that Taiwan and China are very different countries. China is demonstrating yet again what kind of country it is--with a regime that does not respect the opinion of 23 million Taiwanese, wants to include Taiwan in its territory by legislative flat and plans to provide a legal basis for military attacks on Taiwan. However, the U.S. report deserves some criticism itself when it comes to its comments about the media here. It cites pan-blue friendly sources saying that because Taiwan’s market is not mature enough to support a massive media industry, certain media outlets that depend on media placement by the government and loans from government-controlled banks may not be neutral in their news coverage. What is ignored in this report is that due to the manipulations by the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government and a majority of media workers being Mainlanders, a large sector of the media has long favored the pan-blue camp. To make its voice heard, the Democratic Progressive Party government must rely on advertising to defend itself. All in all, the advice given by the U.S. is friendly and well-intentioned. For many years, it has been such friendly admonishments from Washington, together with the pride of the Taiwanese, that have turned Taiwan into an advanced country in terms of human rights. Chen’s recent announcement that a future constitutional amendment will include a ‘National Council of Human Rights’ was made as a response to the expectations of the international community and is just one more step toward improved rights for everyone.”
THAILAND: “The Treasure The U.S. Shows Us"
A commentary in elite, pro-opposition Naew Na read (3/8): "The report has compiled and pinpointed the problems so precisely that the Thai government has found it hard to form an excuse. That is why the Thai government, so full of prejudice that it allows ‘instilled’ patriotism to veil the hard truth about many Thais’ human rights violation problems shored up by their own government’s negligence, has chosen not to offer any explanation. In fact, the government is obliged to encourage NGOs in Thailand to monitor the human rights situation in our country.... Thus, when informed of the ‘Map to the Treasure’, it shouldn’t have kicked and screamed, but should have either considered the content as a basis for improving the situation or clarified each single point with which it disagreed.”
"World Police And Human Rights"
Poomarat Thaksadipong observed in business-oriented Post Today (3/6): "As the superpower, the US acts as if it were the ‘world police’ to monitor human rights violation.... The issue is exploited to accommodate its foreign policy, especially against small countries.... This year the reports include several pages of Thailand’s human rights violation cases, a piece of work by embassy human rights officials who fed Washington with information on every single minute case without considering the whole picture.... Each year we have to respond to the world police.... We have to admit mistakes, if truly committed, in order to make an improvement, and then argue against exaggerated allegations. Why doesn’t the US learn to ‘criticize’ herself for issuing laws limiting the American citizens’ rights and for sending invading troops to other countries? It seems the US is only good at attacking small defenseless countries, but has been unable to do anything against Russia or China.”
"What Shall We Do When Our Friend Acts Stubbornly?"
Witaya Tantasuth commented in conservative Siam Rath (3/4): “The important thing is that the U.S. State Department’s report was based on inaccurate information. Some issues in the report were distorted and only negative points were mentioned. The report failed to mention Thailand’s attempts to put things right and provide explanations to foreign diplomats. This kind of behavior has been repeated many times by the U.S. State Department and it has raised a question as to what we should do when associating with a hypocritical and back-stabbing friend.”
"Concerns Over Thailand’s Reputation"
Top-circulation, sensationalist Thai Rath opined (3/4): “The argument that the U.S. gauges other countries based on its own standards is not completely true because the U.S. claims it uses Thailand’s, not the U.S.’, Constitution and laws as the measuring ruler.... In fact, everything that is mentioned in the U.S. report has appeared in the news and criticized by human rights organizations in the country. If the government is certain that the accusations are groundless, or if they are true but legal under Thai law, it should provide clarifications with supporting data and good reasons.... Most worrisome is Thailand’s image in the eyes of the Muslim world. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) once had a good attitude toward Thailand regarding our treatment of Muslim people in the south. Since the Tak Bai incident, the organization has adopted a harsh stance. The U.S. government report may rub salt into Thailand’s wounds. Most worrisome is that transnational terrorist movements may find a pretext to interfere with Thailand’s domestic affairs.”
"Thailand Condemned In World Arena"
Mass-appeal Daily News editorialized (3/4): “The Human Rights Report which was released worldwide through foreign news agencies is another serious condemnation of Thailand. It looks like Thailand has become a culprit in the eyes of the world. It is perhaps time for us to find out what has gone wrong and what should we do to correct it.”
"U.S. View Of Thailand"
Elite Matichon read (3/4): “Instead of being angry at the U.S.’ unsolicited interference in our domestic affairs, we should stay calm, honestly analyze the problems and find ways to rectify them. We should also clarify what was inaccurately stated in the report.... The southern unrest represents human rights violations both by the perpetrators and state authorities…If we want to quell the unrest in order to end human rights violations, we must have a good plan and closely monitor state authorities’ actions.”
"A Damning Report Card"
The independent English-language Nation declared (3/2): "It is surprising that the release of the annual human rights report prepared by the U.S. State Department could ever have become such a pain for Thailand. Before the Thaksin Shinawatra took power four years ago, the Thai government generally welcomed as a seal of approval on the country's respect for human rights and commitment to democracy. Indeed, it used to be one of the most positive things coming from our friends in Washington, DC. Now the Foreign Ministry finds it necessary to defend the country's deteriorating human rights record every year when the report comes out. This year the ministry's spokesman said the U.S. should not impose its standards on other countries. Apparently he did not realise that when it comes to standards for human rights, they are the same everywhere. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is accepted by all members of the civilised world. 2004 was an extraordinary year because human rights were flouted with impunity by the government. Incidents at Krue Se Mosque in April and Tak Bai in October stood out, drawing an outcry from around the world. The U.S. State Department also chronicled in detail the government's attempts to muzzle the media, which used to be among the freest in Asia. The report said the government had continued to harass and intimidate journalists and editors and to pressure them to exercise self-censorship. All of the issues listed in the US report have been reported before by the Thai media. The report was prepared by the U.S. State Department as part of its standard procedures and will be treated by US policymakers as a reference in pursuing U.S. relations with foreign governments. That the Thaksin government feels embarrassed by the report only highlights the fact that violations of human rights are something to be ashamed of. And we have no problem with that."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Irfan Siddiqui remarked in the second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt (3/4): "When the cry for human rights resounds from Washington, I reflect for hours that despite having so many acclaimed places of learning, esteemed think tanks and unlimited resources of information the super power does not know that outside world does possess eyes and ears.... A hall in San Diego echoed with applause when the commander of the ‘justice army’ in Afghanistan and Iraq, James Mattis gladly announced that we enjoy killing them.... General James also served in Iraq and all the stories about Abu Ghraib belong to his era.... When he returned home, he was promoted to a three star general.... One hundred and sixty human rights organizations working in America have unanimously opined that the so called State Department report that criticizes human rights violations in different countries is a masterpiece of American hypocrisy."
BANGLADESH: "Calling Somebody A Thief By His Master For The Crime He Committed For Him"
Farhad Mazhar opined in independent Bangla-language Prothom Alo (3/7): "The U.S. Human Rights Report has not been prepared independent of U.S. foreign policy; rather it is a document to determine the U.S. foreign policy. Its objective is directly political.... In fact, it is a document showing whom the U.S. will attack, rebuke or criticize. It is not at all a description of the state of human rights. That does not mean that the document has no truth. Of course, there is truth. I fully agree with the factual aspect of the document, but only a fool will judge the document on the basis of its facts.... Although India's situation is a hundred times more serious than that of Bangladesh, the U.S. State Department said, the government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, numerous serious problems remained.... They are telling us, you are doing bad things, but we are not going to make trouble with you. This reveals the hypocritical and deceitful aspect of the U.S. foreign policy.... Bangladesh does not have the capability to speak against what the U.S. State Department says about Bangladesh. India has that capability. Therefore, what can be said about Bangladesh cannot be said about India or Israel. The government's human rights record has worsened and it is continuously violating human rights. It is not something new.... The U.S. State Department has especially mentioned extrajudicial killing by the security forces. It is an important aspect of the U.S. foreign policy toward Bangladesh..... The mark of dishonor it has put on itself was for pleasing the U.S. and the EU nations. The government wanted to show that it would deal terrorism with a heavy hand so that law and order improves and an atmosphere conducive for foreign investment is created. But they forgot that public opinion on human rights in these countries play an important political role. While reading the U.S. Human Rights Report, the alliance government might be saying to itself 'the master is calling me a thief for the crime I committed for him.'"
"The Government Should Perform Its Duty"
Independent Bangla-language Jugantor commented (3/4): "The U.S. human rights report on Bangladesh has commented that the government's human rights record has worsened further. The Washington meeting of Bangladesh's financial donors also mentioned the gradual decline of the situation. Without accepting the U.S. report, the Law Minister said that the government is playing a powerful role in improving the human rights situation. He also did not accept the criticism of the RAB's extrajudicial killing in the name combating terrorism. The U.S. State Department publishes human rights reports on each country every year. All think that these reports should be considered seriously. It would not be an offence to remind those who are now in power how they accepted these report when were in the opposition. It should also be considered whether people will accept the attitude that reports are justified when they go against others, but unjustified when they go against us. The government should perform its duties in improving human rights situation. The denial of the worsening situation will not bring any good; rather, it will tarnish the image of the country further."
"Variety Of Human Rights"
Conservative Islamic Bangla-language Sangram declared (3/4): "The Bangladesh government has rejected the U.S. State Department report on Bangladesh's human rights situation. If any country or its agency prepares a report on another country and if that report is one-sided and unfounded, it would be natural for the relevant country to reject it. Bangladesh has rejected the U.S. human rights report for the same reason.... Some time it becomes necessary to adopt tough measures against those who cross the limit for the preservation of human rights of millions of people. The U.S. who adopted series of tough laws and measures to preserve law and order should not have difficulty to realize this. It became unavoidable to adopt strong measures the way some miscreants raised their heads with encouragement from home and abroad and ignored law and order. The creation of the RAB was for this reason. Killers and miscreants die in crossfire not only Bangladesh, but also in other countries, including our neighbors. But the question of human rights does not arise in respect to them. In the present world, the issue of human rights is much linked to politics. Various interests are also involved in it. So, voices are not raised when real violations of human rights occur, but incidents are created or human rights are wrongly interpreted to put some countries under pressure. Local and foreign cliques are active in this regard. Media's motivated roles are also noticeable. The government, therefore, should take necessary measures in regard to deception in this issue and the people should also be careful."
SOUTH AFRICA: "Pot Vs Kettle"
Balanced Business Day commented (3/3): “It was always going to be tempting to point gleefully at the log in Uncle Sam’s eye after he had rudely called the world’s attention to the splinters lodged uncomfortably in ours. It is becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. has repeatedly crossed the line between legitimate national defense and abuse of human rights.... But was the U.S. State Department actually intending to denigrate SA in its 2004 country report on human rights practices.... A careful reading of the report…reveals a critical but nuanced document that is well-researched and praises almost as much as it chides. The government could gain much by taking its content to heart and redoubling its efforts to address the problems it highlights.... Instead it...labeled [the Report] ‘presumptuous’ and ‘dubious.’ Foreign affairs should rather compile a country report on the U.S.’s human rights record. The world’s biggest democracy would surely welcome the input.”
"Worrying Blast From The Past"
The liberal Star commented (3/3): “The…reason why the U.S. State Department’s attack on our human rights record should come as no surprise is the simple fact that we know of many of these abuses, because they have been widely reported--and commented upon...in the media.... What is concerning...is our government’s reaction. At the time of writing it still has to respond.... There is no doubting our record as a new nation emerging from the darkness of racial oppression, but we cannot use it as a catch-all trump card in the face of justifiable criticism. To do so cheapens the strides we have made as a new nation and avoids facing liability for the very thing that is threatening to drag us back into the dark days.”
"U.S. Can’t Point Fingers"
Pro-opposition, center-right Citizen stated (3/2): "There is much merit in the US State Department’s worldwide human rights report. But there is also a gaping flaw.... The U.S. is in no position to point fingers.... The two major blots on America’s record are the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq. The US may well believe it is fighting for a just cause but much of the world does not agree that this presumption gives America any right to behave as it has been doing.... And millions have seen proof of how US troops abuse detainees in Iraq. Such facts undermine any moral authority America might seek to claim.”
BRAZIL: "The U.S. And Human Rights"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (3/2): "The State Department’s annual report on human rights this year has deplorably raised doubts in regards to its impartiality and authority to approach the issue. Just to cite two flagrant examples: at no moment does the document refer to the arrest without formal due process in Guantanamo of persons accused of terrorist activities. Also ignored were the atrocities carried out by U.S. troops against Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.... It is therefore deplorable that a study that was traditionally respected due to its seriousness and plurality of sources has now been transformed into a tool to legitimate or deviate the attention from excesses committed by the U.S.... The report, showing a deplorable series of isolated episodes or trends in all regions of the planet, would have more credibility if the U.S. paid attention to its own problems. In this case the report should include not only Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, but also the massive death penalty condemnations in the U.S. as well as the effects that the [U.S.] legislation created to fight terrorism has had on civil rights.”
MEXICO: "New Message From Washington"
The lead editorial in nationalist Universal read (3/1): "For several months now the U.S. State Department has been particularly attentive with observations and opinions--from its own perspective--on Mexico's development and the full range of internal affairs, such as the fight against drug-trafficking, the security of the border towns, migratory flows and now, the human rights situation. In its annual report, the State Deptartment describes the Mexican panorama as 'desolate,' according to the report, where thousands of kidnappings continue, political impunity prevails, and there is corruption and inefficiency in the fight against human rights violations.... There is nothing that surprises us in this document, but these points are all on the agenda for our country.... One can understand the geo-strategic importance of Mexico for U.S. national security, but it is surprising that the harsher rhetoric, instead of serving as a basis for understanding between both countries, seems determined to make us uncomfortable.... The human rights issue is not exactly one where the U.S. can be proud, given the attacks against migrants and the treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo after the war in Afghanistan or then in the jails of Iraq."
COSTA RICA: "At Least We Are Unscathed"
Conservative Prensa Libre observed (3/1): "The annual U.S. Human Rights Report details that, unfortunately, in many countries thousands of people remain completely defenseless and many live in conditions of brutal repression, poverty and violence in the sight of their leaders and all humanity. The report details the chaos and adversity to a greater or lesser extent, and only a few, like ours, come out practically unscathed in the text. Dramatic examples jump out of the report, like Darfur, Sudan, Zimbabwe, China, Venezuela, Cuba. The sad part is that there still exist people who defend these regimes, that act as equals of countries that do protect the integrity and freedoms of their people, including in international fora, where despite being flagrant violators, they represent people like themselves who perpetuate false images, lie, and mock humanists and democrats. It's like this in the UN and OAS, regional agreements, conventions and summits, where they allow delegates and fanatics from murderous regimes, demagogues, and rights violators, who sign agreements with smiles and handshakes, while in the nations they represent hunger and fear wipe the smiles from the faces of the great majority. Shamefully, totalitarian states, lying ideologies, and above all, those complacent who applaud the buffoon, the crude, leader dressed in military olive drab, the menacing Asian leader or the multimillionaire wrapped in skins and feathers, are guilty that in a battered world, mistreatment and ignomy persist."
VENEZUELA: “Human Rights: Look Who’s Talking”
Pro-government tabloid Diario VEA editorialized (3/3): “The U.S. administration’s incorrigible spokespeople do not stop meddling into our country’s affairs. According to the Department of State, ‘Venezuela’s human rights record is poor’. Says who? None other than the Bush administration. Can the U.S. government really speak of Human Rights? The Bush administration has trampled over all the principles of the International Law when it invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Which human rights has the United States observed in Afghanistan and Iraq? Photographs depicting sadistic tortures suffered by hundreds of prisoners in Iraq went around the world. Are these tortures a good Human Rights practice? The Bush administration has no moral credability to speak of Human Rights. The United States sponsored and funded the April 11 coup against democratically and constitutionally elected President Chávez. What kind of Human Rights did the U.S. defend with that criminal act against the rights of the Venezuelan people? The Bush administration also funded and sponsored the national labor stoppage and oil sabotage that deprived millions of Venezuelans of food. And this is the government that accuses Venezuela.”
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