VII. On the Violation of Human Rights in Other Countries
The United States has a notorious record of trampling on the sovereignty of and violating human rights in other countries.
The invasion of Iraq by American troops has produced the biggest human rights tragedy and the greatest humanitarian disaster in modern world. It was reported that since the invasion in 2003, 660,000 Iraqis have died, of which 99 percent were civilians. That translates into a daily toll of 450. According to the Los Angeles Times, the number of civilian deaths in Iraq has exceeded one million. A report from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) revealed that about one million Iraqis were homeless, half of whom were children. There were 75,000 children living in refugee camps or makeshift shelters. About 760,000 pupils could not go to school. According to media report, guards of Blackwater, a security service company with State Department background, shot dead 17 Iraqis for no reason on September 16, 2007, and it was given immunity by the State Department (The China Press, October 31, 2007). Investigation by the Iraqi government found that Blackwater guards had killed 21 Iraqis and injured 27 others before that. State Department investigation showed that Blackwater was involved in 56 shooting cases in Iraq in 2007. A US Congress report said the company was involved in nearly 200 shooting cases in Iraq since 2005, and 84 percent of them were random shooting. The Associated Press reported that an Apache gunship opened fired on October 23, 2007 at a group of people suspected of planting roadside bombs near Samarra in north Baghdad, killing at least 11 people, including 6 Iraqi civilians. But local police and eyewitnesses said the number of civilians killed was 14 (The Associated Press, Baghdad, October 23, 2007). Commanders of the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment made a baiting program to kill more insurgents, in which weapons were dropped as a bait, and if someone picked them up, the snipers would shot them. Many Iraqi civilians were killed in this way (Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2007; Washington Post, September 24, 2007).
US troops have killed many innocent civilians in the anti-terrorism war in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reported on May 3, 2007 that as many as 51 civilians were killed by US soldiers in one week (Karzai Says Civilian Toll is No Longer Acceptable, The Washington Post, May 3, 2007). An Afghan human rights group said in a report that US marine unit fired indiscriminately at pedestrians, people in cars, buses and taxis along a 10-mile stretch of road in Nangahar province on March 4, 2007, killing 12 civilians, including one infant and three elders (New York Times, April 15, 2007).
The United States has many secret jails across the world, where prisoners were treated inhumanely. "Secret prison" and "torturing prisoners" have become synonymous with America. In May 2007, the UN special rapporteur on the protection of human right while countering terrorism said after his visit to the a United States that the latter has detained 700 people in Afghanistan and 18,000 in Iraq for reasons related to the fight against terrorism. The special rapporteur expressed his concern over the conditions of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and other secret detention facilities, the lack of justice protection and access to fair trial for terrorist suspects, as well as the rendition of suspects. He also expressed his disappointment that the US government had refused to allow him to visit Guantanamo Bay and other places of secret detention (Preliminary Findings on Visit to United States by Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-terrorism, May 29, 2007, www.unog.ch). In addition to Guantanamo Bay where prisoners were subject to gruesome tortures, the United States also ran secret facilities in Jordan and Ethiopia, where detainees were brutally treated. Washington Post reported on December 1, 2007 that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been running a secret jail on the outskirts of Jordan capital Amman since 2000, where many non-Jordanian terrorism suspects had been detained and interrogated with severe abuse (Jordan's Spy Agency: Holding Cell for the CIA, Washington Post, December 1, 2007). According to media reports, CIA detained hundreds of AL-Qaeda suspects in a secret location in Ethiopia. The detainees came from 19 countries and included women and children as young as seven months. They were illegally deported to Ethiopia where they were held in horrific conditions in crowded jails, with a dozen detainees sharing a single 10 feet by 10 feet cell. There was little food, and abuse and torture were commonplace (The Daily Telegraph, April 5, 2007; The Associated Press, Nairobi, April 5, 2007). The Washington Times reported on December 14, 2007 that CIA often tortured detained terrorist suspects by using waterboarding and mock execution (House Approves Ban on CIA Waterboarding, The Washington Times, December 14, 2007). The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) described in a report how waterboarding is done: the prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt. The New York Times said in a report on December 7, 2007 that CIA in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al-Qaeda operatives in 2002 in the agency's custody (CIA Destroyed 2 Tapes Showing Interrogations, The New York Times, December 7, 2007). It was widely believed that CIA was trying to destroy evidences of the existence of its secret detention program. Women prisoners were often subject to humiliation in Iraq. Reports said many of them became victims of Iraqi police and the occupying forces. Iraqis said there had never been so many rapes and atrocities against women in any war since the Middle Ages as witnessed in the Iraqi war (Rebellion, May 5, 2007).
The United States has always adopted double standards on human rights issues. It frequently exerts pressure on other countries to invite the UN special rapporteur to exam and report on the status of their human rights status, but itself has never done so. The United States requests others to obey the UN norms that allow special rapporteurs to visit any place and talk with any one without interference or surveillance, but itself has rejected such norms and has turned down the request for a joint visit to the military base at Guantanamo Bay from several special rapporteurs.
The United States has to date refused to acknowledge the right to development as part of the human rights. Although it signed the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1977, the United States has not yet ratified the convention. The United States claims that it attaches importance to the protection of the rights of women and children, but it has not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 27 years after signing on the convention. The United States is one of the seven U.N. members that have not ratified the convention. The United States has not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child 12 years after signing on it, though 193 countries have already done so. Since March 2007, the Convention on Rights of Disabled Persons has been open for signature and many countries adopt active attitude towards the convention. By the end of December 2007, 118 countries had signed the convention and seven ratified it, but the US has not yet signed nor ratified it.
To respect and safeguard human rights is an important achievement in the progressing of the human society and an important symbol of modern civilization. It is also a common goal of people of all countries and races and a key theme of the tide of progress in our time. All the countries have the obligation to make efforts to promote and protect human rights in their own territories, and to promote international cooperation in accordance with the norms of international relations. No country in the world should view itself as the incarnation of human rights, and use human rights as a tool to interfere in affairs of and exert pressure on other countries and realize its own strategic interests. The United States reigns over other countries and releases Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year. Its arrogant critique on the human rights of other countries are always accompanied by a deliberate ignoring of serious human rights problems on its own territory. This was not only inconsistent with universally recognized norms of international relations, but also exposed the double standards and downright hypocrisy of the United States on the human rights issue, and inevitably impaired its international image.
We hereby advise the US government to face its own human rights problems and give up the unwise practices of applying double standards on human rights issues.