America's Appalling Human Rights Record - by Stephen Lendman
Coincidental with high-level US - China May 9 and 10 talks, the Atlantic magazine quoted Hillary Clinton calling China's human rights record "deplorable." She also suggested possible unrest erupting like in the Middle East, then added:
"They're worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool's errand. They cannot do it. But they're going to hold it off as long as possible," ignoring America's scandalous human rights record, by far the world's worse.
Each year, the State Department publishes human rights reports for over 190 countries. Its April 8-released 2010 China assessment can be accessed through the following link:
Unsparing in its harshness, it calls China "an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) constitutionally is the paramount authority," practicing:
-- "Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life;
-- Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;"
-- Harsh and Degrading "Prison and Detention Center Conditions;
-- Arbitrary Arrest(s) or Detention(s);"
-- Repressive and Corrupt "Police and Security Apparatus" Practices;
-- Harsh "Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention;
-- Denial of Fair Public Trial(s);"
-- Incarcerating "Political Prisoners and Detainees;
-- Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence;"
-- Limited "Freedom of Speech and Press;"
-- Limited "Academic Freedom;"
-- Restricted "Freedom of Assembly and Association;"
-- Lack of Free "Elections and Political Participation;
-- Official Corruption and (Lack of) Government Transparency;
-- Discrimination, Societal Abuse, and Trafficking in Persons;
-- Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity;
-- (Restricted) Worker Rights;"
-- Repression in Tibet;
-- Restricted Freedom in Hong Kong;
-- Restricted Freedom in Macau;
-- and more in a 145 page report.
Indeed, China's no model human rights champion. However, America's record is far worse at home and abroad, yet self-criticism is absent. Moreover, rarely do major media reports discuss abuses. Instead they regurgitate managed news, suppressing full and accurate disclosure of Washington's most deplorable human and civil rights record at home and abroad.
On April 10, two days after the State Department's report, China's Information Office of the State Council published its own comprehensive report titled, "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010," saying:
"As in previous years, (US assessments) are full of distortions and accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, (America) turned a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation and seldom mentioned it."
China did, explaining internally suppressed information about:
-- America's scandalous human rights record;
-- a society in social crisis;
-- a domestic armed camp under police state laws, suppressing democratic freedoms, criminalizing dissent, spying illegally, controlling information, and persecuting political prisoners unjustly by denying them due process and judicial fairness;
-- torture, other abuses, and ill-treatment as official US policy at home and abroad;
-- having the world's largest global gulag;
-- systematic targeted killings and illegal detentions;
-- permanent wars for unchallengeable global dominance:
-- targeting nonbelligerent nations illegally without cause;
-- committing ruthless state terror;
-- endangering world stability and peace;
-- illegally transferring public wealth to America's aristocracy;
-- stealing elections;
-- institutionalizing two-party duopoly control, mocking the notion of democratic elections; and
-- as a result, is hated and feared globally, as well as to a growing extent at home.
In its report, State Department charges were mostly without corroboration. In contrast, China, under six major headings, used data from the US Justice Department (DOJ), FBI, other US agencies, state ones, and think tanks, as well as international and US media reports. They reveal a far different America than official Washington and managed major media reports, concealing dark side truths important to reveal.
(1) Life, Property and Personal Security
According to the Justice Department, one in five Americans are crime victims annually, by far the world's highest percentage. In 2009:
-- an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes were committed;
-- another 15.6 million property crimes; and
-- 133,000 million personal thefts against US residents aged 12 or older.
Easy access to guns exacerbates the problem, Reuters saying America ranks first globally on number of privately-owned firearms, an estimated 200 million, or two for every three residents. The fallout includes about 12,000 annual gun murders. Weapons are used in over one-fifth of violent crimes and nearly half of all robberies.
(2) Civil and Political Rights
Severe violations occur regularly, including:
-- privacy abuses; according to ACLU figures, more than 6,600 travelers were subjected to electronic device searches from October 1, 2008 - June 2, 2010, about half US citizens;
-- lawsuits were filed against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for authorizing search and seizures of laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices, without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing;
-- refused entry into America, Colombian journalist Hollman Morris lost a Harvard fellowship by being unjustifiably accused of "terrorist activities;" many others are treated the same way;
-- the ACLU, Asian Law Caucus, and San Francisco Bay Guardian sued for release of FBI records on its repressive investigation and surveillance of Bay Area Muslim communities because of their faith and ethnicity, not suspicion of criminality;
-- in October 2010, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials ordered subjecting airport passengers to intrusive full-body scanning or pat-downs; they constitute a violation of privacy, civil liberties, and freedom of religion in some cases;
-- torture, other abuses, and ill-treatment are major problems in state and federal detentions to unjustly punish and extract information and confessions; reports surface regularly like on May 12, 2010, the Chicago Tribune saying local police were charged with arresting people without warrants, shackling them to walls or metal benches, withholding food, denying bathroom breaks, and providing no bedding; brutal beatings are also common, especially against people of color and Muslims;
-- at about 2.4 million, America, by far, has the world's largest prison population, mostly for nonviolent offenses; Blacks and Latinos are especially affected; overcrowding is a serious problem as well as torture, beatings, other abuses, and confinement of an estimated 25,000 inmates in isolation, another form of torture that turns human beings to mush;
-- political prisoners and wrongful convictions are also common, including false charges of terrorism and murder, mostly against Blacks, Latinos, and Muslims;
-- calling itself a "beacon of democracy," it's the best money can buy, electoral success depending heavily on raising the largest amount;
-- "while advocating Internet freedom," strict cyberspace restrictions are imposed, including by the Senate in June 2010 approving the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act; if enacted, it will give authorities "absolute power" to shut down the Internet under a declared national emergency, whether or not one exists; a February 17, 2011 Foreign Policy magazine article said federal Internet policies are "full of problems and contradictions;"
(3) Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
-- real unemployment remains stubbornly high at over 20%, way above official figures; so is true inflation at about 10% because of sharply rising food, energy, medical, college tuition, and other costs excluded or downplayed in official figures;
-- record high poverty exists, up to double US Census Bureau numbers based on real cost of living estimates;
-- hunger is a growing problem with a record numbers of people on food stamps, millions more food insecure, many others needing emergency help, and growing numbers not sure about their next meal;
-- homelessness also rose sharply, many hundreds of thousands affected nationally;
-- households without health insurance exceed 50 million people; a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) November 2010 report showed 22% of Americans aged 16 - 64 had no coverage; in California, it's nearly one in four.
(4) Racial Discrimination
-- a longstanding problem, it affects all aspects of social life, but rarely reported; a May 2010 AP/Univision Poll found 61% of Hispanics and 52% of Blacks affected; on October 28, 2010, The New York Times said more than 60% of Latinos call discrimination a "major problem;"
-- American minorities enjoy fewer political rights, experience much higher unemployment, have lower incomes, fewer benefits, higher poverty, and growing inequality in education;
-- they also lack proper healthcare, face law enforcement and judicial discrimination, and are victimized most often by hate crimes;
-- Latino immigrant rights are seriously compromised, including unjustifiable detentions, interrogations, and targeting for appearing to be Mexican, Latin American, or indigenous non-whites;
(5) Rights of Women and Children
Gender discrimination is widespread;
-- in August 2010, the London Daily Mail said 90% of US women endure workplace discrimination;
-- only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women;
-- women in comparable jobs to men earn only three-fourths as much on average;
-- companies like Wal-Mart have a disgraceful gender discrimination history;
-- millions of US women are victimized by sexual assaults and violence;
-- an October 2010 National Institute of Justice report estimated 20 million annual rape victims;
-- female prisoners are extremely vulnerable to rape, mostly by guards and prison officials;
-- 25% of women experience domestic violence at some time in their lives;
-- women's health rights aren't properly protected, especially for people of color;
-- child poverty is severe;
-- on November 21, 2010, the Washington Post said 25% of children endure hunger, citing the US Department of Agriculture;
-- over 60% of public school teachers say hunger affects children in their classrooms;
-- violence against children is widespread; according to Love Our Children USA, an estimated nine million are victimized; and
-- children's physical and mental health are insecure as a result of neglect, violence, sexual abuse, and societal indifference to their status.
(6) US Human Rights Violations Against Other Nations
America's longstanding human rights record abroad is appalling. As a result, in the last two decades alone, US wars, sanctions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan caused millions of deaths and overall depravation and human misery, mostly affecting civilian men, women and children. Moreover, in both countries, the death toll mounts daily, often by cold-blooded murder.
On September 18, 2010, for example, the Washington Post said a 5th Stryker Combat Brigade "kill team" targeted civilians, committing random murders, dismembering corpses, and hoarding human bones as trophies.
Indefinite detentions and torture are rampant. According to a joint May 2010 UN Human Rights Council/Special Rapporteur report titled, "Joint Study on Global Practices in Relation to Secret Detention in Relation in the Context of Counterterrorism," America commits appalling human rights abuses, including:
-- extraordinary renditions;
-- secret detentions;
-- torture, other abuses, and ill-treatment;
-- cold-blooded murder; and
-- various other crimes against humanity.
Despite promising to close Guantanamo and end these practices, they continue seamlessly under Obama, showing as much contempt for human rights as Bush II.
In fact, the rights of numerous nations are violated. For example, Cuba's been embargoed for half a century, harming the welfare of its citizens. On October 26, 2010, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution titled, "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba" for the 19th consecutive time. Only Washington and Israel voted against it.
Under the UN Genocide Convention's Article II, America stands guilty. So does Israel for blockading Gaza. Both countries repeatedly violate, abuse and ignore international law.
Moreover, Washington never ratified:
-- the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
-- the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;
-- the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and
-- the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
On November 5, 2010, the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) enumerated serious US human rights violations, including:
-- failure to ratify key human rights conventions;
-- the rights of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples;
-- racial discrimination; and
-- maintaining Guantanamo and other overseas torture prisons.
The UN Human Rights Council and most countries condemned America for these policies, noting that while paying lip service to human rights, Washington grievously violates them.
At the same time, it points fingers, enumerates abuses globally, yet turns a blind eye to its own arrogantly, glaringly and hypocritically.
As a result, its most abusive practices continue abroad and at home, a different reality than the sanitized major media, film, academia, and other dominant versions of a nonexistent fictional America.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.