Friday, December 17, 2010

Mass Rapes, Torture, Executions, Detention, Disappearance, Discrimination against women, lesbians and gay men, people with disabilities, the elderly, migrants, "foreigners", Black, Brown, and Indigenous People, and an Erosion of Human Rights in Democratic Societies is the Rule, not the Exception

What follows is from Voice of America News. Please click on the title to link back. I offer commentary in bold and brackets in the text.

Human Rights Violations the Rule Not Exception in 2010

UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay (file photo)
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay (file photo)

Human rights violations were the rule rather than the exception in 2010.  [And this has been the case for the last 500 years, with 2010 being no exception. The issue, as always, is this: Who or what government counts as a terrorist, and what counts as terrorism and a violation of human rights?] The United Nations says crimes such as mass rapes [not to mention individualised rapes which are also terroristic against women as a class], torture, extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detention, disappearances remain widespread throughout the world.  Even [corporately controlled quasi-]democratic societies are experiencing an erosion of human rights due to the so-called war on terror and growing xenophobia. [Consider this: which of the following is actually "a war on terror" and which is the perpetration of terrorism? And how do you distinguish the two? Is it by the number of humans who are terrified? Which generates more terror? First World genocide against the Fourth World or Indigenist activism to combat corporate-militarised invasion and occupation of Native Lands? Men's war on women or feminist activism to stop it? And, if three thousand U.S.ers and two buildings are destroyed in an act of terrorism, the U.S. response to invade and occupy two countries in Central Asia is seen as an appropriate response by the U.S. government. Does that mean that when the U.S. government murders hundreds of thousands of people, and destroys thousands of buildings, Afghanistan or Iraq invading and occupying the U.S. for a half dozen or more years would not be terrorism but instead would be the appropriate thing to do?]

[...] U.N. Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay is capping off a turbulent year by celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Throughout the past 62 years, the Declaration has acted as a guide for human-rights values and a beacon of hope for millions of oppressed and abused people. [And it has been routinely, arrogantly, and flagrantly ignored or rejected by many nations in the West, including, especially, the U.S.]

She marks its achievements on Human Rights Day by honoring the hundreds of thousands of human-rights defenders who speak up against discrimination, often at great cost to themselves and to their loved ones. [And the retaliation for speaking out doesn't just impact individuals, although it certainly does do that. Speaking truth to power, and trying to hold brutal governments and corporations accountable also causes additional retaliatory distress and devastation to whole groups and classes of people, such as Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, and women across race, region, and class.]
"While combating discrimination and other important human rights causes, they themselves are often subject to discrimination," she said. "In fact, every year, thousands of human-rights defenders are harassed, abused, unjustly detained and even murdered." [And routinely murdered.]

Geneva Director for Human Rights Watch, Julie de Rivero says it is hard to say whether the situation of human rights now is better or worse than in previous years.  [We can at least conclude this: the rich are richer and more destructive. There's more rape and slavery of girls and women now than ever before.] But it is possible to detect certain patterns. [I'd identify the patterns as specifically this: Christian white het male supremacist. I wonder why no one else does.]

One of these, she says, is impunity for major violations. [Such as the relative impunity to any white- and male-dominated country for global violations of humans, non-human animals, and other life including to the Earth. Such as the relative impunity of the white het male supremacist Christian Churches who have committed child-rape, promoted patriarchal control of women by men; promoted heterosexist practices; lesbian self-hatred, gay self-hatred; promoted and conducted physical, sexual, and spiritual violations of Indigenous children across North America and beyond. Such as the relative impunity of corporate pimps raping and trafficking women. Such as the relative impunity of men who batter women. Such as the relative impunity of husbands who rape women. Such as the procurers who rape women in systems of prostitution. Such as fathers and father-figures and male relatives who, more than twice as often as abusing boys, incest their daughters or other girls in the family. Such as the complete impunity of U.S. white men who rape Indigenous women. But...] She gives Sri Lanka as an example.

"We saw the war end in Sri Lanka, but at a very high cost for civilians that were caught in indiscriminate fire by both sides," said Julie de Rivero. "And, yet, no accountability for war crimes in that country…And last of all, I would say the Bush era cases of torture that were committed under the guise of the war on terror that have remained unaccounted for and for which there is still impunity." [There is never any form of accountability for the war crimes, corporate and other economic crimes, non-war military crimes, anti-woman crimes, anti-queer crimes, racist crimes, genocidal crimes, and ecocidal crimes committed by the U.S. against any other country, nation, tribe, or people.]

De Rivero says the war on terror [but not on U.S. terrorism] and heightened concern for national security are leading to a further erosion of human-rights values, even in democratic societies.  She says the same fears are increasing xenophobic sentiments in European countries. [Translation: this means that white het male-ruled Europe is moving in a fascistically racist/misogynist direction.]

She says another worrying trend is sexual violence against women, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [The rape of women and girls by men is not, in any reasonable sense of the term, a "trend" nor is it, in any way, limited to the DRC, even while the gross frequency of terroristic rape in the DRC is a particular atrocity. Something that has been going on for millennia cannot be termed "a trend". Or, if that's the case, then over the last 500 years there's been a growing trend of European-descended Christian white het men taking over the Earth and destroying as much of it as possible. The highlighting of rape in one country in Africa without noting how it has been taught to many males across centuries by European men is, to me, racist and misogynistic. This is not to say that European men invented rape. It is to say European men globalised it as a form of terrorism of women and girls.]

"The scale of the phenomenon, I think, always compels us to focus on this particular situation because rape has been so normalized as a weapon of war in that country [and as a weapon of men's war against women in hundreds of countries] that it is shocking and the devastation that it causes is incredible in the lives of individuals and the community," she said. [The global community of womankind.]

"I think you have certain human rights violations that just continue year after year," said Rupert Colville. [Like rape. Like battery. Like trafficking. Like sexual and wage slavery. Like poverty. Like famine. Like loss of access to clean water or to water at all due to damming, such as in Borneo.]

Rupert Colville is Spokes[person] for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"You get some progress and then you get backsliding on something like torture," he said. "Almost all states have laws that prohibit torture and declare it a crime.  And, yet many states are still practicing it and many States do not prosecute those who commit it."

He says impunity for a whole range of crimes is a major concern, as is discrimination.

"Discrimination [and terrorism] against women, discrimination [and terrorism] against homosexuals, discrimination [and terrorism] against people with disabilities, the elderly, many, many groups - minorities, indigenous peoples," [against whom the problem is spiritual, cultural, sexual, and physical genocide, not only discrimination] said Colville. "So, that is a constant theme really on every continent, including in the developed countries, [especially in and by the CRAP-developed countries] where I think the treatment of migrants [and immigrants if they aren't Christian and white] or foreigners [or people who are returning to land that was stolen from them by "foreignors"] has clearly deteriorated in the past decade or so."

Colville notes the wheels of justice often grind slowly. [Because they are principally controlled by Westerners, Global Northerners, whites, heterosexuals, and last but not least: men.]  He says it can take years for the victims to get redress, but it does happen. [Not in the case of Black people, Brown people, Indigenous people, and women across race. Not in the case of the poor or the people of the Third World. Not by the non-human animals, plant life, seas, atmosphere, and the Earth as a whole system of Life. Can he point to any substantive redress achieved by and for any of those populations or places?]

"As we have seen, there is Chile and Argentina for example," he said. "You do not need to give up hope.  [As Derrick Jensen often notes, hope is not primarily what is needed. Effective oppression-ending systems of full accountability and the complete composting of CRAP is what is needed.] Twenty-thirty years down the line, people still are being brought to court and charged with serious crimes. [That's a pitiful example of justice, and again, "redress" is not primarily what is needed. The ending of all forms of gross exploitation, human violation, and the destruction of Earth is. Poor people cannot sue. Most trauma survivors cannot or will not sue. The Earth cannot sue Western/Global Northern governments, although it will eventually consume them all.] You still see people being brought to courts for crimes during World War II. [This is a classic example of using exceptional cases being presented as if they can be anything other than that.] So, that perhaps is the strength of the system. [No. Wrong. The fact that these cases will always only be exceptions to the rules proves that it is, in fact, the weakness of the system, if "strength" means effectively standing for, creating, and maintaining human rights.] It is that with these very serious crimes there is no statute of limitations. [Well, individual survivors do die.] Circumstances do change and people who think they are actively immune to justice sometimes find that is not actually the case in the long term." [I await this being the case with male supremacist perpetrators of misogynist violence. As yet, I see no evidence of  circumstances substantively changing for girls and women globally.]

The efforts of people who fight for human rights are supported by a body of international human rights law. [This is, tragically, more theoretical than experiential.]

Nine core international human-rights treaties lay out the rights and protections afforded individuals against specific violations.  They specify the obligations and responsibilities of States toward their citizens. [And they, alone, cannot stop States, governments, nations, corporations, and other perpetrators of human rights violations from ENDING the abuses and the crimes.]

Laws are no guarantee of good behavior. [No. But they are frequently a guarantor of very bad behavior--such as the laws that allow corporations to exist at all, let alone avoid paying taxes and being accountable to the abuses they perpetrate.] But states that have signed  treaties are more likely to be persuaded to implement them.  [This is not an adequate tool for achieving justice and liberation. Making patriarchal social organisation illegal and actionable, the pimping and procuring of girls and women illegal and actionable, making militarisation of genocidal First World governments illegal and actionable, and economic globalisation illegal and actionable, and making corporations an illegal entity would be a start. Why won't the UN acknowledge this?]

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Julian's note: I sent this blog post's URL to the I await their reply.