Using ‘human rights’ as an excuse

A recent article in the Guardian should be read by all whether pro or anti-Dutertista. It explains how the human rights movement is being used as a tool of Western imperialism. Stephen Kinzer wrote the book “Overthrow” in 2006. In it, he exposed the human rights movement as more of a story of America’s century of regime change from Hawaii to Iraq.

A recent article in the Guardian should be read by all whether pro or anti-Dutertista. It explains how the human rights movement is being used as a tool of Western imperialism.

Stephen Kinzer wrote the book “Overthrow” in 2006. In it, he exposed the human rights movement as more of a story of America’s century of regime change from Hawaii to Iraq.

 

Now he writes human rights movement” should be reexamined. Kinzer was one of the most active in the movement but left it when he saw the hidden motive of some of those who propagated it.

 

Or of ignorant followers. This is relevant to Filipinos today aching for a better life and besieged by crime, graft and a run-away drug problem. They voted for a landslide victory against all odds for strongman Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

 

But he warns Duterte’s victory is imperiled by the recent appointment of James Hoge, as board chairman of Human Rights Watch thanks to a $100 million grant from George Soros the patron of CIA causes.

It is ominous that an eminent foreign policy expert has been made the head of the Human Rights Watch.

“For those of us who used to consider ourselves part of the human rights movement but have lost the faith, the most intriguing piece of news in 2010 was the appointment of an eminent foreign policy mandarin.

“Hoge has a huge task, and not simply because human rights violations around the world are so pervasive and egregious. Just as great a challenge is remaking the human rights movement itself. Founded by idealists who wanted to make the world a better place, it has in recent years become the vanguard of a new form of imperialism.”

“Want to depose the government of a poor country with resources? Want to bash Muslims? Want to build support for American military interventions around the world? Want to undermine governments that are raising their people up from poverty because they don’t conform to the tastes of upper west side intellectuals? Use human rights as your excuse!”

“Human Rights Watch and affiliated groups “promote an absolutist view of human rights permeated by modern western ideas that westerners mistakenly call “universal.” In some cases, their work, far from saving lives, actually causes more death, more repression, more brutality and an absolute weakening of human rights.”

Through the $100m Soros grant Hoge will enable the Human Rights Watch to set a global standard.

“In its early days, emerging from the human rights clauses in the 1975 Helsinki Accords, it was the receptacle of the world’s innocent but urgent goal of basic rights for all. Just as Human Rights Watch led the human rights community as it arose, it is now the poster child for a movement that has become a spear-carrier for the “exceptionalist” belief that the west has a providential right to intervene wherever in the world it wishes.”

Kinzer was for many years a foreign correspondent. To defend the rights of those who have none was the reason I became a journalist in the first place. Now, I see the human rights movement as opposing human rights.

“The problem is its narrow, egocentric definition of what human rights are. Those who have traditionally run Human Rights Watch and other western-based groups that pursue comparable goals come from societies where crucial group rights – the right not to be murdered on the street, the right not to be raped by soldiers, the right to go to school, the right to clean water, the right not to starve – have long since been guaranteed.

“In their societies, it makes sense to defend secondary rights, like the right to form a radical newspaper or an extremist political party. But in many countries, there is a stark choice between one set of rights and the other. Human rights groups, bathed in the light of self-admiration and cultural superiority, too often make the wrong choice.”

He cites the actions of human rights –do-gooders in Darfur where they show themselves not only dangerously naive but also unwilling to learn lessons from their past misjudgments. “By their well-intentioned activism, they have given murderous rebel militias – not only in Darfur but around the world – the idea that even if they have no hope of military victory, they can mobilize useful idiots around the world to take up their cause, and thereby win in the court of public opinion what they cannot win on the battlefield. They mobilise well-meaning American celebrities and the human rights groups behind them. It also prolongs war and makes human rights groups accomplices to great crimes.”

This happened in Biafra too in the 1960s. The world was supposed to mobilise to defend Biafran rebels and prevent the genocide that Nigeria would carry out if they were defeated. Global protests prolonged the war and caused countless deaths.

When the Biafrans were finally defeated, though, the predicted genocide never happened.

Kinzer says that he finally broke with his former human-rights comrades in Rwanda. The regime in power now is admired throughout Africa; 13 African heads of state attended President Paul Kagame’s recent inauguration, as opposed to just one who came to the inauguration in neighbouring Burundi.

The Rwandan regime has given more people a greater chance to break out of extreme poverty than almost any regime in modern African history – and this after a horrific slaughter in 1994 from which many outsiders assumed Rwanda would never recover.

It is also a regime that forbids ethnic speech, ethnically-based political parties and ethnically-divisive news media – and uses these restrictions to enforce its permanence in power.

“By my standards, this authoritarian regime is the best thing that has happened to Rwanda since colonialists arrived a century ago. My own experience tells me that people in Rwanda are happy with it, thrilled at their future prospects, and not angry that there is not a wide enough range of newspapers or political parties.

“Human Rights Watch, however, portrays the Rwandan regime as brutally oppressive. Giving people jobs, electricity, and above all security is not considered a human rights achievement; limiting political speech and arresting violators is considered unpardonable.

“The question should not be whether a particular leader or regime violates western-conceived standards of human rights. Instead, it should be whether a leader or regime, in totality, is making life better or worse for ordinary people.”

“I see the human rights movement as opposing human rights.

Want to depose the government of a poor country with resources? Want to bash Muslims? Want to build support for American military interventions around the world? Want to undermine governments that are raising their people up from poverty because they don’t conform to the tastes of upper west, call in the Human Rights Watch.”

This article was first published in The Philippines Star

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