The day America lost its status as the ‘ultimate defender’ of human rights — RT World News


May 4, 2001 marks the day the United States was expelled from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The decision should have provided the superpower with a much-needed wake-up call. Instead, he became more reckless on the world stage.

In hindsight, there was no loss of irony about Washington losing his seat on the body for the first time since the panel was established in 1947. That’s because, in this When it comes to America’s human rights record, the “best” was yet to come. In a few years, the United States would rewrite the book of inhumane behavior in its decades-long war on terror. And while it’s something no one could have predicted in May 2001, perhaps the feeling that America had lost its moral compass was already in the air.

One of the reasons given for the Geneva-based organization’s vote on global power was its growing frustration with Washington’s refusal to live up to its commitment to international treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. In direct opposition to the views of his European allies, George W. Bush withdrew Washington’s tentative support for the measure, arguing that it would cause “serious harm to the American economy.”

Another reason cited for the Americans being pushed out of their seats was due to Israel’s unrelenting support in the latter’s perennial conflict with the Palestinians. In March 2001, following relentless episodes of violence and killings, with the Palestinian side bearing the most casualties, the UN Security Council attempted to pass a resolution that would have created “an appropriate mechanism to protect Palestinian civilians, including through the establishment of a United Nations observer force”. Predictably, the United States was the only member to defeat the motion, with four abstentions. In fact, nearly every US veto issued since 1988 has blocked resolutions targeting Israel, because, as the US claims, Palestinian terrorist groups have not been adequately condemned.


Of course, not everyone agreed with the decision to remove the United States from membership in the human rights club. Amnesty International, for example, jumped to America’s defense, calling for its withdrawal “as part of an effort by nations that routinely violate human rights to escape scrutiny”.

Either way, that brings us to the real irony of America being stripped of its seat in the first place. As previously reported, not only did Washington disregard the warning about its increasingly arrogant actions, but its behavior actually worsened over time.

In his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, George W. Bush called three countries – North Korea, Iran and Iraq – the “axis of evil”. Just before the US leader passed judgment on these nations, Washington opened the gates to Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) detention camp, or, as Amnesty International has dubbed it, “the Gulag of our time”.

Located in the far south of Cuba, on the Guantanamo naval base, Gitmo has become synonymous with what the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has fought to prevent, namely brutality, torture and the perversion of justice.

Moazzam Begg, a prisoner-turned-activist who spent three years at Gitmo, described the horrors he witnessed. “I saw two people beaten to death” Begg told RT. “I saw a prisoner with his hands tied above his head to the top of the cage being punched and kicked repeatedly until he was killed. The Americans accepted that it was a homicide.

In April 2004, it was also discovered that the United States was responsible for serious human rights violations at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Euphemistically described as “enhanced interrogation skills”, prisoners were systematically tortured, raped and sodomized. The Guardian published some of the shocking images, and viewer discretion is strongly advised.

Unexpectedly, the human rights record of the United States did not improve with the arrival of Barack Obama, the first black American president who came to power on the promise of “hope and of change”. In 2016 alone, under Obama’s watch, US forces dropped some 26,171 bombs on foreign countries. Syria and Iraq were both targeted some 12,000 times each, while Afghanistan (1,337), Libya (496), Yemen (35), Somalia (14) and Pakistan ( three) also suffered attacks on their territory. In his last year in office, Barack Obama had the dastardly distinction of being at war longer than any other president in US history.

Has the US learned anything in the decades since it was kicked out of the UN commission? Judging by the fate of some of his biggest critics, it would seem not. In 2010, Australian activist Julian Assange released a series of leaked documents – with Hollywood-sounding names like “Collateral Murder” and “Iraq War Logs” detailing possible war crimes committed by the US military – provided by Army analyst Chelsea Manning.


A Russian pilot describes his hell in prison in the United States

After being granted asylum for seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for political persecution (Assange was also wanted in Sweden for sexual assault, but feared that if he was there he would be handed over US prosecutors), he was arrested by British police. In May 2019, President Donald Trump’s administration charged him with violating the Espionage Act of 1917. The move was harshly condemned by the media as a violation of the First Amendment. Since April 2019, Assange has been incarcerated in the maximum security Belmarsh prison in London as his health reportedly deteriorates.

Meanwhile, Edward Snowden, the former CIA analyst turned whistleblower, has also paid a heavy price for exposing some of the less admirable activities of the US government, such as spying on citizens, both in country than abroad. Now living in Russia, Snowden is said to be waiting for the day he will be allowed to return to his native country.

For those who thought inhumane treatment was only for ‘terrorists’ and ‘traitors’, just this week Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko returned home after spending more than a decade in a US prison for his alleged involvement in drug trafficking. Yaroshenko revealed the horrors he was exposed to during this time.

“There was a torture room where I was tortured for two and a half days. It was inhuman, physical and psychological torture, with tremendous pressure. At some point, I didn’t even want to live anymore… I didn’t want to go back to this world anymore.

Clearly, this is not the kind of behavior one would expect from a country that routinely passes judgment on other governments. The saying about “people who live in glass houses” comes to mind. Unsolicited sermons on human rights have more meaning coming from those who practice what they preach.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.




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