What human rights?

(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-05 08:42

Amnesty International portrays itself as "a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all". Its supporters claim to be outraged by human rights abuses and inspired by hope for a better world. They say they "act for justice".

Unfortunately, the group's deeds remind us of an utterly different Amnesty International.

Its latest accusations about the government's response to the riots in Tibetan-inhabited areas once again reveal the group's recalcitrant prejudice and neglect of the truth. We are not surprised that an Amnesty International report denigrating China's human rights record would surface amid all the China-bashing in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Yet its audacity in ignoring and distorting facts is truly amazing. In that report, the self-appointed human rights sheriff censured Chinese authorities for "serious human rights violations since 10 March 2008", who, in its words, "have resorted to measures that are reported to have included unnecessary and excessive use of force".

Such allegations are shameless. They stand facts on their heads. Serious human rights violations did occur. But Amnesty International has pointed its finger at the wrong party.

Everybody with common sense knows what happened in Lhasa and some other Tibetan-inhabited regions in the neighboring Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces.

The rampant mobsters burned, killed and looted. Rather than resorting to "unnecessary and excessive use of force", the local authorities, as many now believe, have shown more restraint than expected. As is true in almost all other countries, our law authorizes police officers to use weapons in certain situations. The outrageous violence in Lhasa and several other places qualified as such. By choosing to refrain from using force, the local law-enforcement staff put themselves in harm's way. Otherwise, the well-equipped police officers would not have suffered hundreds of casualties.

Yet the Amnesty International report totally ignored the widely available facts, which testify to both the lawless mobs' brutality and the authorities' restraint. Instead, it vilifies the victims as violators. We wonder what "internationally recognized human rights" the Amnesty International claims stand for, what the "better world" it envisages is like and what kind of "justice" it is after.

The self-appointed human rights watchdog complained "hundreds of people have been detained in response to the unrest". What would be an appropriate response? To let the rioters go on killing innocent people, smashing and burning down civilian property and instigating ethnic hatred? We are totally confused why the human rights advocate, "outraged by human rights abuses", appeared so indifferent to the rioters' heinous atrocities.

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