Human Rights Watch’s double faces: slamming UN Chief against China

A human rights watchdog has slammed the U.N. secretary-general for failing to press China’s president to release an imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate, accusing Ban Ki-Moon of caring more about his own re-election than the protection of dissidents reported the Associated Press.

Ban did not discuss China’s human rights record or the imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo, the nominee of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, during a meeting Monday with President Hu Jintao. AP reported that rights advocates have urged Ban to join other world leaders in publicly expressing concern over Liu’s imprisonment.

Philippe Bolopion, U.N. advocacy director for Human Rights Watch (HRW), accused Ban of failing “in one of his most basic duties, which is to be a clear voice on human rights.”

“This looks like a misguided attempt to secure Chinese support for his re-election and overlooks the fact that the world needs a courageous and outspoken secretary-general… The fact that his office doesn’t even claim that human rights issues were raised in private is particularly shocking, especially coming from a secretary-general who often defends his timid public statements by tough talk behind the scenes,” said Bolopion.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters that human rights did not come up in Ban’s meeting with Hu because there were many other issues to discuss. Nesirky added that the world body’s previous statement on Liu – which did not call for his release but said Ban has long advocated for improvement on human rights – still stands.

The best kind of defense is attacking. Human Rights Watch appears to have its own issues to settle with the UN Secretary General – but criticizing Ban in this manner could literally confuse the public as to the real motive of the human rights organization which was hard hit following revelations of systematic factual, moral and ethical violations, according to Jerusalem Post. Marc Garlasco, HRW’s senior military analyst, was fired after the discovery of his obsessive collection of Nazi war memorabilia.

HRW is “an association that is all about influence — an influence that depends on a carefully honed image of objectivity, expertise and high moral tone. So it was perhaps a little awkward that a key member of staff was found to have such a treasure trove of Nazi regalia,” Jonathan Foreman wrote in his article, Nazi scandal engulfs Human Rights Watch, which appeared in The Times.

HRW gets its money from charitable foundations and wealthy individuals rather than a mass membership. According to Foreman, it seeks to make an impact, not through extensive letter-writing campaigns, but by talking to governments and the media, urging openness and candor and backing up its advocacy with research reports. Moreover, “Human Rights Watch is founded on belief in the superiority of American values. It has close links to the US foreign policy elite, and to other interventionist and expansionist lobbies,” Paul Treanor wrote in his article, Who is behind Human Rights Watch?

With the information mentioned above, can HRW still claim that someone has failed in one of their most basic duties?

Human Rights Watch “is itself involved in practices it condemns elsewhere, such as discrimination in employment, and exclusion from social structures. It can also claim no neutrality. An organization which will not allow a Serb or Somali to be a board member, can give no neutral assessment of a Serbian or Somali state. It would probably be impossible for an all-American, English-only elite organization, to be anything else but paternalistic and arrogant,” Treanor added.

Andrew Brown joined Treanor’s views in an article he wrote for the Guardian. Brown pointed out that “the essential point about human rights is that there is no evidence whatsoever that they actually exist… We are told that the two qualities of human rights are that they are “self-evident” and “unassailable”.

“This is like saying that the chief quality of porridge is its excellence as a material for building skyscrapers. The chief evidence for the existence of these unassailable and self-evident human rights is that we are told, by people who believe in them, that they are everywhere attacked and trampled. Everywhere that human rights have gone, terror and bloodshed have followed… Of course the apologists will claim that these are perversions of the original idea,” Brown added.

“But why should we listen to the apologists, when they believe in something that doesn’t even exist,” Brown questioned.

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