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US credibility dented over Iraqi prisoner abuses
By Wen Jianqiao (Xinhua)
Updated: 2004-05-20 12:45

The US State Department released its annual report on human rights Monday despite a global outrage at the prisoner abuses by US troops in Iraq.

The 270-page report, entitled "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: the US Record 2003-2004," covers human rights records in 101 countries, in a purported effort to promote freedom and end rights abuses around the world.

It is no surprise that the United States, which regards itself as a "human rights defender," will continue to issue the rights report next year and accuse others of "poor rights records" at the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Washington certainly has a right to express itself, but it can neither force other countries to take its opinion seriously nor discourage them from criticizing human rights violations by the United States.

"(US) credibility has taken a huge blow," Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said, describing the prisoner abuse scandal as "a perfect example of how it's not enough to have moral clarity if you don't have moral authority."

"While trumpeting the US endeavor in helping other countries improve human rights, the report makes no mention of its own abuse of Iraqi prisoners," said Lin Bocheng, vice president of the China Foundation for Human Rights Development.

"Posed as a 'world human rights defender,' the United States has made itself a scoundrel as its forces ruthlessly ravaged prisoners' dignity and trampled on their basic human rights in Iraq, and this has tarnished civilization and is despised by the whole international community," Lin said. "The release of the record, therefore, only serves to satirize its human rights ' promotion' around the world."

While denying the US accusation against Venezuela over its rights record, Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said: "The United States knows no limit when it comes to human rights violations, and therefore can hardly erect itself as the judge of humanity."

It seems that the US government should first review the rights violations in the United States as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan, where detainees were inhumanely treated, and numerous civilians were killed or maimed.

Tens of thousands of people, including women and children, suffered starvation and malnutrition under the US-imposed sanctions on a number of countries, which Washington considers " undemocratic."

Crimes committed by US troops at US bases abroad, such as rapes of local women in Japan, triggered indignation at and protest against US military presence there.

The feasible way to solve the issue of human rights is to have dialogues on an equal footing, bilaterally or multilaterally, as countries differ in political system, economy, culture, history and social development.

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