UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21 (IPS) – Jeanne Kirkpatrick, former US ambassador to the United Nations, once distinguished between “friendly” right-wing authoritarian regimes (which were mostly US allies). and the West) and “hostile” left-wing regimes. totalitarian dictatorships (which the United States abhorred).
Among the “dictators” the United States shunned in the 1970s and 1980s were Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, General Than Shwe of Myanmar, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Mumar al-Gaddafi of Libya, Hafez al-Assad of Syria and Kim Il-Sung of North Korea.
At the same time, successive US administrations have moved closer to a series of right-wing authoritarian regimes and family fiefdoms, primarily in Southeast Asia, Latin America and particularly the Middle East.
These regimes have been widely accused by human rights organizations of instituting emergency laws, arresting dissidents, repressing the press, torturing and executing political prisoners, and rigging elections. (As a right-wing Southeast Asian dictator once said: “I promised to give you the right to vote, but I said nothing about counting those votes.”)
Kirkpatrick’s distinction between friendly right-wing regimes and hostile left-wing dictators prompted a response from former US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who retorted: “It seems to me that if you are in prison (and tortured ) , it makes no difference whether your torturer is right-handed or left-handed.”
But some Western countries have attempted to politically separate “right-wing governments” from “left-wing governments” – the good guys in white hats from the bad guys in black hats, like in Hollywood films of the Wild West.
The strongest link between the United States and some of the oppressive regimes in the Middle East, notably Egypt and Saudi Arabia, is primarily military.
And Israel’s right-wing government, accused by Amnesty International of human rights violations and torture, is a coalition of seven political parties.
The ongoing devastating, one-sided battle between Israel, a powerful U.S. ally, and the militant group Hamas has exposed a long-standing double standard on torture and human rights abuses. man.
The United States rarely, if ever, criticizes Israel and uses its political influence to veto any Security Council resolution condemning the Jewish state, as it did last week.
Dr Simon Adams, president and CEO of the Center for Victims of Torture, told IPS: “Unfortunately, if history teaches us anything, it is that most governments are capable of carrying out torture, whatever their political color.
Some democracies, he pointed out, try to justify torture in moments of extreme crisis, such as the United States after 9/11, while dictatorships often commit torture as part of a terror industrial system. and control, like North Korea or the Assad regime in 2001. Syria.
“The sad reality is that authoritarian governments that declare themselves to be on the far left or far right have often committed acts of torture in the name of advancing their cause,” he noted.
“The more a government is mistaken about the purported purity of the dominant ideology, the more likely it is to resort to torture against dissidents and non-believers. What all authoritarian regimes have in common is a disregard for universal human rights,” said Dr. Adams.
Meanwhile, in a report released in early November, Amnesty International (AI), a leading human rights organization, said testimonies from released detainees and human rights lawyers, as well as video footage and images illustrate some of the forms of torture and other ill-treatment. treatment that prisoners have been subjected to by Israeli forces over the past four weeks.
These included severe beatings and humiliation of detainees, including forcing them to keep their heads down, kneel on the ground during the detainee count, and sing Israeli songs.
Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Over the past month, we have seen a significant increase in Israel’s use of administrative detention — detention without charge nor trial which can be renewed indefinitely — which was already on the rise. a 20-year high before the latest escalation of hostilities on October 7.
“Administrative detention is one of the key tools through which Israel imposed its system of apartheid against the Palestinians.
Testimony and video evidence also document numerous incidents of torture and other ill-treatment by Israeli forces, including severe beatings and deliberate humiliation of Palestinians held in dire conditions,” says Morayef.
Amnesty International also says that the summary executions and hostage-taking carried out by Hamas and other armed groups on October 7 constitute war crimes and must be condemned as such, but Israeli authorities must not use these attacks to justify their own illegal attacks and collective punishments against civilians. the besieged Gaza Strip and the use of torture, arbitrary detention and other violations of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.
“The ban on torture can never be suspended or waived, including – and especially – at times like these,” Amnesty International said. Amnesty International says it has documented widespread torture by Israeli authorities in places of detention in the West Bank for decades.
However, over the past four weeks, videos and images have been widely shared online, showing horrific scenes of Israeli soldiers beating and humiliating Palestinians while detaining them blindfolded, stripped naked and with their hands tied, in a demonstration particularly frightening public torture and humiliation. Palestinian detainees.
In an image analyzed by Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab, three Palestinian men, blindfolded and undressed, can be seen next to a soldier, wearing an olive green uniform like those worn by Israeli ground forces.
A Haaretz investigation published on October 19 revealed that the image was taken on October 12 in Wadi al-Seeq, a village east of Ramallah. One of the three victims depicted in the photograph told Amnesty International that she was initially detained and beaten by settlers, but two hours later an Israeli military jeep arrived:
“One of the Israeli officers who came, approached me and kicked me on the left side, then jumped on my head with both legs, pushing my face further into the dirt, then continued to kick me while I was upside down in the dirt. with his hands tied behind his back. He then took a knife and ripped off all my clothes except my underwear and used part of my torn clothes to blindfold me.
“The blows to the rest of my body did not stop. At one point he started jumping on my back – three or four times – shouting “die, die, you piece of trash”… in the end, before it stopped for good, another police officer urinated above. my face and my body while screaming at us to “die”. Meanwhile, the UN Committee Against Torture is currently holding its sessions, until November 24, during which it will review Burundi, Costa Rica, Kiribati, Denmark, Egypt and Slovenia. These six countries are among the 173 States parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. They are required to undergo regular reviews by the Committee made up of 10 independent international experts on how they implement the Convention.
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