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From: Bart (129.171.32.13)
Subject:         Torture: The U.S.’s style of human rights
Date: February 21, 2006 at 8:27 pm PST

Torture: The U.S.’s style of human rights
2/21/2006 10:00:00 PM GMT

The U.S. President George W. Bush’s interpretation of human rights is based on torture, terror, secret prisons, domestic spying, desecration of religious values, assaults on innocent civilians and the deliberate proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Iran's Minister of Defense and Logistics of Armed Forces recently said.

Speaking at a Defense Ministry meeting, Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said that it is among the 21st century wonders that the Bush Administration, with its tainted human rights record, claims to be leading the world towards democracy and human rights. He also said that the U.S.’s disgrace due to the inhumane crimes committed at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail indicates that the Bush Administration has no respect whatsoever to the most basic principles of human rights, adding that these barbarian acts have isolated the U.S. and increased anti-American sentiments in the whole world.

Despite several scandals in its own human rights record, Washington continues to claim that it is the world’s human rights defender, allowing itself to meddle in other countries’ affairs in the name of human rights protection.

Earlier this week, the Law institute of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea issued a report branding the U.S. the world’s biggest human rights abuser and a typical criminal state that violates international human rights laws in different parts of the world while claiming to be spreading American-style view on human rights. According to the report, the U.S. violates laws that protect people’s elementary rights, and call for outlawing torture as well as providing prisoners with legal rights.

The report also listed a number of cases that show that serious human rights violations are committed in the United States. It states that American citizens are threatened by “rampant violent crimes and severe infringement of civil rights by law enforcement departments.” The report also highlights the fact that the U.S. refuses to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and took negative attitude to the economic, social and cultural rights of the laborers. Moreover, it shows that racial discrimination has been deeply rooted in the U.S, permeating into every aspects of society. The situation of American women and children is also disturbing, the report says, noting the increase in the number of women and children physically or sexually victimized.

* International human rights abuses

Boasted as "a paragon of democracy," the United States-style of democracy is manipulated by its bad leadership. After launching wars on Iraq and Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. administration ordered the army and the CIA to set up secret prisons, known as “dark sites” in difference foreign countries that are condemned for torture. According to latest figures, prisoner abuses in the CIA’s covert prisons claimed the lives of more than 70 detainees in 2002 alone and more than 9,000 detainees were reported to have been exposed to unbearable torture in these prisons as of the first half of 2004. The CIA is also accused of transferring foreign “terror“ suspects through European airports without any judicial involvement, a process that violates the international law, known as “extraordinary rendition”.

"In 2004 the atrocity of U.S. troops abusing Iraqi POWs exposed the dark side of human rights performance of the United States. The scandal shocked the humanity and was condemned by the international community,” the Chinese government said in its latest report on the human rights record of the United States.

The International Committee of the Red Cross also believes that prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib jail weren’t just the work of a few “rogue” soldiers as the U.S. claims, but rather a systematic behavior that warrants the prosecution of high-ranking officials.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Commission denounced the U.S.’s attempts to “legalize” torture, saying that it placed itself as an international judge, jury and prosecutor who violate international human rights laws. The UNHRC report also demanded the United States to shut down its detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on the grounds that it is violating human rights, including a ban on torture, arbitrary detention and the right to a fair trial. The lack of any U.S. investigation into these accusations is a violation of the UN Convention against Torture, the report said.

The calls to close Guantanamo fell on deaf ears. The U.S. made clear that it won’t close the detention facility. Even after the release of the UNHRC report, and even though the UN report follows an Amnesty International report last year, comparing Guantanamo with the Stalinist concentration camps, to a gulag.

In its war on terror, the United States is violating the human rights of the “few” in the name of protecting the majority. It was a huge mistake by the United States to deny Geneva Convention rights to foreign suspects it holds at its detention facilities. This decision four years ago led to all the prisoner abuses at the hands of American forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. This shame has now been doubled by Washington’s refusal to shut down Guantanamo, provoking widespread criticism and enforcing the view that the U.S. placed itself above international law.

* “Wanton slaughter”

Moreover, a recent survey on Iraqi civilian deaths shows that the U.S. frequently commits wanton slaughters during invasions and military attacks. The report, based on the natural death rate in Iraq before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, estimated that the war might have led to 100,000 more deaths in the war-torn country, with most victims being women and children. Jointly designed and conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, the report also finds that the majority of additional, unnatural deaths since the invasion were caused by violence, while air strikes from the occupation forces were the main factor to blame for the violence-related deaths.

The U.S. issues its annual report on human rights practices which usually accuses more than 190 countries of human rights abuses, but ignores the U.S.‘s violations in the field. Instead of acting as the “world’s human rights police”, the U.S. should consider its own erroneous behavior and take its own human rights violations seriously. However, it is not surprising to see that Washington, which has consistently claimed its commitment to the principles of independence and democracy, doesn’t follow these terms when it is involved.

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