Foreign and Military Affairs

Full text: US Human Rights Record in 2009

(Xinhua)
Updated: 2010-03-12 16:52
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VI. On US Violations of Human Rights against Other Nations

The United States with its strong military power has pursued hegemony in the world, trampling upon the sovereignty of other countries and trespassing their human rights.

As the world's biggest arms seller, its deals have greatly fueled instability across the world. The United States also expanded its military spending, already the largest in the world, by 10 percent in 2008 to 607 billion US dollars, accounting for 42 percent of the world total (The AP, June 9, 2009).

According to a report by the US Congress, the US foreign arms sales in 2008 soared to 37.8 billion US dollars from 25.4 billion a year earlier, up by nearly 50 percent, accounting for 68.4 percent of the global arms sales that were at its four-year low (Reuters, September 6, 2009). At the beginning of 2010, the US government announced a 6.4-billion-US dollar arms sales package to Taiwan despite strong protest from the Chinese government and people, which seriously damaged China's national security interests and aroused strong indignation among the Chinese people.

The wars of Iraq and Afghanistan have placed heavy burden on American people and brought tremendous casualties and property losses to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Iraq has led to the death of more than 1million Iraqi civilians, rendered an equal number of people homeless and incurred huge economic losses. In Afghanistan, incidents of the US army killing innocent people still keep occurring. Five Afghan farmers were killed in a US air strike when they were loading cucumbers into a van on August 5, 2009 (http://www.rawa.org). On June 8, the US Department of Defense admitted that the US raid on Taliban on May 5 caused death of Afghan civilians as the military failed to abide by due procedures. The Afghan authorities have identified 147 civilian victims, including women and children, while a US officer put the death toll under 30 (The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 9, 2009).

Prisoner abuse is one of the biggest human rights scandals of the United States. A report presented to the 10th meeting of Human Rights Council of the United Nations in 2009 by its Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism showed that the United States has pursued a comprehensive set of practices including special deportation, long-term and secret detentions and acts violating the United Nations Convention against Torture. The rapporteur also said, in a report submitted to the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations, that the United States and its private contractors tortured male Muslims detained in Iraq and other places by stacking the naked prisoners in pyramid formation, coercing the homosexual sexual behaviors and stripping them in stark nakedness (The Washington Post, April 7, 2009). The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has begun interrogation by torture since 2002. The US government lawyers disclosed that since 2001, CIA has destroyed 92 videotapes relating to the interrogation to suspected terrorists, 12 of them including the use of torture (The Washington Post, March 3, 2009). The CIA interrogators used a handgun and an electric drill to frighten a captured al-Qaeda commander into giving up information (The Washington Post, August 22, 2009). The US Justice Department memos revealed the CIA kept prisoners shackled in a standing position for as long as 180 hours, more than a dozen of them deprived of sleep for at least 48 hours, three for more than 96 hours, and one for the nearly eight-day maximum. Another seemed to endorse sleep deprivation for 11 days, stated on one memo (http://www.chron.com). The CIA interrogators used waterboarding 183 times against the accused 9/11 major plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and 83 times against suspected Al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah (The New York Times, April 20, 2009). A freed Guantanamo prisoner said he experienced the "medieval" torture at Guantanamo Bay and in a secret CIA prison in Kabul (AFP, London, March 7, 2009). In June 2006, three Guantanamo Bay inmates could have been suffocated to death during interrogation on the same evening and their deaths passed off as suicides by hanging, revealed by a six-month joint investigation for Harpers Magazine and NBC News in 2009 (www.guardian.co.uk, January 18, 2010). A Somali named Mohamed Saleban Bare, jailed at Guantanamo Bay for eight years, told AFP the prison was "hell on earth" and some of his colleagues lost sight and limbs and others ended up mentally disturbed (AFP, Hargisa, Somali, December 21, 2009). A 31-year-old Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay who had been on a long hunger strike apparently committed suicide in 2009 after four prior suicide deaths beginning at 2002 (The New York Times, June 3, 2009). The US government held more than 600 prisoners at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. A United Nations report singled out the Bagram detention facility for criticism, saying some ex-detainees allege being subjected to severe torture, even sexual abuse, and some prisoners put under detention for as long as five years. It also reported that some were held in cages containing 15 to 20 men and that two detainees died in questionable circumstances while in custody (IPS, New York, February 25, 2009). An investigation by US Justice Department showed 2,000 Taliban surrendered combatants were suffocated to death by the US army-controlled Afghan armed forces (http://www.yourpolicicsusa.com, July 16, 2009).

The United States has been building its military bases around the world, and cases of violation of local people's human rights are often seen. The United States is now maintaining 900 bases worldwide, with more than 190,000 military personnel and 115,000 relevant staff stationed. These bases are bringing serious damage and environmental contamination to the localities. Toxic substances caused by bomb explosions are taking their tolls on the local children. It has been reported that toward the end of the US military bases' presence in Subic and Clark, as many as 3,000 cases of raping the local women had been filed against the US servicemen, but all were dismissed (http://www.lexisnexis.com, May 17, 2009).

The United States has been maintaining its economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba for almost 50 years. The blockade has caused an accumulated direct economic loss of more than 93 billion US dollars to Cuba. On October 28, 2009, the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba," with a recorded vote of 187 in favor to three against, and two abstentions. This marked the 18th consecutive year the assembly had overwhelmingly called on the United States to lift the blockade without delay (Overwhelming International Rejection of US Blockade of Cuba at UN, www.cubanews.ain.cu).

The United States is pushing its hegemony under the pretence of "Internet freedom." The United States monopolizes the strategic resources of the global Internet, and has been retaining a tight grip over the Internet ever since its first appearance. There are currently 13 root servers of Internet worldwide, and the United States is the place where the only main root server and nine out of the rest 12 root servers are located. All the root servers are managed by the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which is, by the authority of the US government, responsible for the management of the global root server system, the domain name system and the Internet Protocol address. The United States has declined all the requests from other countries as well as international organizations including the United Nations to break the US monopoly over the root servers and to decentralize its management power over the Internet. The United States has been intervening in other countries' domestic affairs in various ways taking advantage of its control over Internet resources. The United States has a special troop of hackers, which is made up of hacker proficients recruited from all over the world. When post-election unrest broke out in Iran in the summer of 2009, the defeated reformist camp and its advocators used Internet tools such as Twitter to spread their messages. The US State Department asked the operator of Twitter to delay its scheduled maintenance to assist with the opposition in creating a favorable momentum of public opinion. In May 2009, one web company, prompted by the US authorities, blocked its Messenger instant messaging service in five countries including Cuba.

The United States is using a global interception system named "ECHELON" to eavesdrop on communications worldwide. A report of the European Parliament pointed out that the "ECHELON" system is a network controlled by the United States for intelligence gathering and analyzing. The system is able to intercept and monitor the content of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other digital information transmitted via public telephone networks, satellites and microwave links. The European Parliament has criticized the United States for using its “ECHELON” system to commit crimes such as civilian's privacy infringement or state-conducted industrial espionage, among which was the most striking case of Saudi Arabia's 6-billion-dollar aircraft contract (see Wikipedia). Telephone calls of British Princess Diana had been intercepted and eavesdropped because her global campaign against land-mines was in conflict with the US policies. The Washington Post once reported that such spying activities conducted by the US authorities were reminiscent of the Vietnam War when the United States imposed wiretapping and surveillance upon domestic anti-war activists.

The United States ignores international human rights conventions, and takes a passive attitude toward international human rights obligations. It signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 32 years ago and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 29 years ago, but has ratified neither of them yet. It has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities either. On Sept. 13, 2007, the 61st UN General Assembly voted to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which has been the UN's most authoritative and comprehensive document to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. The United States also refused to recognize the declaration.

The above-mentioned facts show that the United States not only has a bad domestic human rights record, but also is a major source of many human rights disasters around the world. For a long time, it has placed itself above other countries, considered itself "world human rights police" and ignored its own serious human rights problems. It releases Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse other countries and takes human rights as a political instrument to interfere in other countries' internal affairs, defame other nations' image and seek its own strategic interests. This fully exposes its double standards on the human rights issue, and has inevitably drawn resolute opposition and strong denouncement from world people. At a time when the world is suffering a serious human rights disaster caused by the US subprime crisis-induced global financial crisis, the US government still ignores its own serious human rights problems but revels in accusing other countries. It is really a pity.

We hereby advise the US government to draw lessons from the history, put itself in a correct position, strive to improve its own human rights conditions and rectify its acts in the human rights field.

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