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Where Are the Human Rights Groups? The silence is deafening. ^ | Tuesday, April 15, 2003 | By Richard Pollock

Posted on 04/14/2003 11:31:11 PM PDT by JohnHuang2

Where Are the Human Rights Groups?
By Richard Pollock | April 15, 2003

When a team of special operations forces conducted that daring rescue mission and freed Pfc. Jessica Lynch, they found more at the Saddam Hussein Hospital than a scared, 19-year-old POW.   In the basement they found weapons and munitions and a torture chamber.  Coalition forces have found such weapons and military staging areas in other hospitals, schools and religious sites throughout Iraq.   Embedded reporters have filed harrowing stories of Iraqi soldiers executing civilians, forcing teenagers at gunpoint to fight the war and the showering of artillery rounds into groups of fleeing civilian refugees.

Iraq's gross human rights violations and continual breach of international laws are not isolated incidents, but the norm.  You wouldn't know it, however, if you listened to many human rights and anti-war groups. 

In writing this in 2003, I feel a distinct sense of déjà vu from my time as an anti-war activist 30 years ago.  In 1969 I served on the steering committee of one of the major anti-war groups, the People's Coalition for Peace and Justice. This group, among other things, argued that the United States and the Saigon government were guilty of war crimes It was interesting to see how that issue was handled while I sat in the group's closed-door committee meetings in Washington.  As a young activist then, I was surprised no one raised or denounced the idea of Vietcong or North Vietnamese atrocities.  It simply was a non-starter. It was part of a culture to focus only on U.S. attacks on civilians.  One of the most passionate persons on this point was a soft-spoken, grandfatherly gentleman named Abe Bloom.  Everyone loved Abe.  He was kind and warm. He was also one of the official committee representatives of the Communist Party/USA.  He strictly followed the line of the party's Central Committee.  And among the pastors, lawyers, and activists on the steering committee, Abe's proposition was  universally accepted: Only evil America was capable of committing atrocities.

I remember when American B-52 bombers had hit the Bach Mai hospital near Hanoi.  In righteous indignation, leading anti-war organizers from the PCPJ and other organizations described the Bach Mai attack as a war crime.  Later, American anti-war activists who traveled to Hanoi for wartime visits made an obligatory solemn trek to Bach Mai. It became a North Vietnamese pillar, a shrine to American "crimes against humanity."

This time around it's clear to me and to most Americans that war crimes are being committed.  But it is Baghdad, not Washington that's the culprit.  It's Iraqi government abuse and terror directed against civilians.  And the incidents are transparent and numerous.  

One might expect anti-war and especially human rights advocates to be on top of these dreadful stories.  After all, they do claim the "high ground," asserting they care about Iraqi civilians and Iraqi human rights. 

So it was pretty dispiriting to not find much from these groups.  For instance, if you search the Web Site for International ANSWER, one of today's major anti-war organizations, the group has nothing to say about any of the dreadful array of human rights violations committed by Iraqi officials. Yet at every breath they assail the United States and aggressively push their April 12 demo against Bush.

The International Action Center, a part of ANSWER, and headed by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, seems to be living in a fantasyland. While there are no reports or repudiation of Iraqi injustices anywhere in his site, Clark this week published, "Instead of posing as
liberators, the U.S. high command has called for open warfare against the Iraqi civilian population. In the last 48 hours, hundreds of civilians have been shot down on the roadways, in their homes, on their farms. The aerial bombings are becoming more indiscriminate as missiles
land in markets and residential neighborhoods."  Funny, no embedded reporters have caught onto the story yet.

The track record of major human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch is even more disheartening. Neither group has targeted its wrath against Iraq.  In fact, on March 30 Amnesty International delivered a petition to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling on the British and American governments to make more information public about Iraqi civilian deaths and warning both governments to abide by international law.  Over the past two weeks then reports streamed in of Iraqi atrocities, Amnesty International released only one formal human rights protest.  It found evidence of human rights abuses in 14 countries, including the United States and Britain-but not Iraq.   The crimes committed?  They are hindering anti-war protests.

Until April 2, Amnesty said little about Iraqi attacks on its own people.  On that date the group asked for "human rights monitors" to be posted in Iraq, but seemed to equate the coalition's accidental killings with Saddam's direct targeting of civilians.  AI went bonkers on April 3 with the headline "Iraq: People come first - protect human rights" but there is not a word about Iraqi civilian attacks.  Instead, the lead article is about alleged use of cluster bombs in population areas, proclaiming, "Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the high toll of civilian casualties and the use of cluster bombs in US military attacks in heavily populated areas."  It is hardly a credible charge given the coalition forces rather fastidious avoidance of civilian areas throughout Iraq.

AI did criticize Iraq on Voice of America.  Claudio Cordone, its top international law director admitted that Iraqi soldiers wearing civilian clothing were a violation of international law. But in the next breath he berated the United States for its treatment of Afghan and Taliban combatants in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Human Rights Watch isn't much better.  To their credit, on April 3 they finally criticized Iraq for storing about 150 anti-personnel landmines inside the Kadir Karam mosque. There still has not been, however, any mention of Saddam's widespread effort to intimidate, terrorize and execute Iraq's own citizens.

The depressing failure of anti-war and human rights organizations to be bold and outspoken about Baghdad's responsibility during a dark hour or the Iraqi people may go down in history as the moment when citizen groups saw or heard no evil while the whole world was watching.  When self-appointed watchdogs remain silent in the face of killing, terror, and mayhem against innocent civilians, the watchdogs are not only useless, they make a mockery of human rights and liberty.

TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: amnestyinternational; humanrightswatch
Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Quote of the Day by McGavin999

1 posted on 04/14/2003 11:31:11 PM PDT by JohnHuang2
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2 posted on 04/14/2003 11:32:42 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: JohnHuang2

Those Greenies sure faded to black,
when Iraq the oilfields did attack;
Greenpeace? Not around;
Earth First? Was not found;
'Cuz they knew Saddam would shoot back!

3 posted on 04/14/2003 11:40:13 PM PDT by martin_fierro (Mr. Avuncular)
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To: JohnHuang2
These points need to be our reply at the anti-American rantings - "Why did you not say anything about the Saddam atrocities?" "Where were you during Saddam's reign?" "Why do we only hear of 'supposed' American harm and never of any of the terror inflicted on innocents by their dictators, their terrorists activities"?

Maybe all of this anti-American stuff has been going on for years, but I was not that aware of it. It has me seriously worried.

4 posted on 04/14/2003 11:44:19 PM PDT by ClancyJ
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To: JohnHuang2
Liberals dont bash Liberals.
5 posted on 04/14/2003 11:58:44 PM PDT by noutopia
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To: ClancyJ
Maybe all of this anti-American stuff has been going on for years, but I was not that aware of it.
You don't have to be courageous to learn about the stuff in America that arouses the ire of Amnesty International; all you have to do is read the newspaper or tune in the TV. OTOH criticizing people who seriously abuse human rights can result in having your own human rights--even your right to life--seriously abused. At best, then, CNN's "the devil made me do it" jeremiad is always at work. And that systematically makes criticism of (classic) liberal polities such as the US and the UK inherently a half-truth.

If your news organization can't be accused of a pro-American, pro-conservative "bias," your organization will in actual fact have an anti-American, anticonservative slant by default.

6 posted on 04/15/2003 5:26:07 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: JohnHuang2
Propaganda has its tentacles everywhere. The hot buttons of small groups of "useful idiots" are pushed. That becomes a broad based Coalition of Criminals.
7 posted on 04/15/2003 5:33:05 AM PDT by PGalt
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To: JohnHuang2
8 posted on 04/15/2003 5:34:50 AM PDT by nicmarlo
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To: ClancyJ; All

Maybe all of this anti-American stuff has been going on for years, but I was not that aware of it. It has me seriously worried.

the watchdogs are not only useless, they make a mockery of human rights and liberty.

While they are the worst, the issue of human rights is a control issue. So often where here these two words -- human rights -- from politicians, bureaucrats, mainstream media, academics and clerics. Yet they avoid like the plague the two words--individual rights.

Human rights is a group think tool that parasitical elite and especially collectivists use to manipulate large segments of the population. What it boils down to is sacrifice the individual for the betterment of the group. Talk about an oxymoron. Without the individual there cannot be a group.

It's the same with liberty/freedom. That is an individual concept that's been hijacked by parasitical elites. In short, freedom is the inalienable right to do whatever a person chooses so long as they do not initiate force, threat of force or fraud against anyone.

I'd say that more than 97% of the population abides by that. Whereas 99+% of politicians and bureaucrats initiate force, threat of force or fraud against people. Somewhat lower percentages of other parasitical elites mainly foist fraud and deception on people.

9 posted on 04/15/2003 8:46:25 AM PDT by Zon
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