How great is the US human rights record?

| by Shenali Waduge
( February 28, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The US has self-appointed itself to chide nations using the tool of human rights – therefore human rights becomes the perfect tool to give or deny loans, trade concessions or even maintain diplomatic dealings. To point fingers one’s own terrain must have in the least minimum human rights violations but a closer look at the US will reveal how appalling the US human rights record actually is and begs to ask the US to first put its own house in order before crowning itself the undisputed leader of human rights. For a country that has been responsible for the deaths of over 10million civilians over the past 75 years carrying out incursions/invasions to satisfy capitalist corporates where has there been accountability for these deaths and why is US not asked to give explanations!
Let us compare the two world powers the US & China. The US refers to China as an “authoritarian state”, a country that practices torture, degrades people, detains people, indulges in arbitrary arrest & detention, denies fair public trial, has a repressive corrupt police, interferes in the privacy of families, has limited freedom of speech and press, lacks free elections & political participation, lacks transparency in governance, discriminates people, has restricted worker rights, represses Tibet, restricts freedom in Hong Kong & Macau. These are just some of the accusations against China by the US.
Human rights campaigners protest against Guantánamo Bay in front of the White House. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP
China is no human rights champion but it is not going to take kindly to a nation accusing it of human rights violations when its own record is questionable in all areas. This is the crossroads that we currently face. In a western dominated international media very rarely are US human rights violations flagged. Accusations are always targeted towards nations that challenge the West. All that the US accuses China and other countries of happens in the mighty America as well. When US exists because of China’s loans has the US moral right to be so arrogant?
When the US accuses other nations of not providing freedom of life & personal security it emerges that 1 in 5 Americans are victims of crime annually. In 2010, 20.6m crimes were committed throughout the US (violent crime, murder, property crime, aggravated assault, burglary & robberies, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft, forcible rape). In 2010, 1 murder took place every 35.6minutes, 1 forcible rape every 6.2minutes, 1 robbery every 1.4minutes, 1 aggravated assault every 40.5seconds & 1 violent crime every 25.3seconds. A burglary took place every 14.6seconds, a motor vehicle is stolen every 42.8seconds. When the US population is 308.7m there are roughly 300 million firearms owned by civilians in the United States as of 2010. Of these, about 100 million are handguns. The US gun and ammunition manufacturing industry includes about 300 companies with combined annual revenue of about $6 billion
The US accuses China & other nations of denying freedom of privacy when it installs GPS tracking systems without the knowledge of US citizens! Moreover, thousands of people including US citizens have been subject to electronic device searches across the US between 2008 & 2010).
There are 42m black Americans in the USA – ie 13.6% of the total population. Unemployment among blacks stands at 16% as against 10% of white Americans.
There are 148,200 women in state and federal prisons with 70% guards comprising of men which explains female inmates being subject to rape, other sexual assault, sexual extortion, and groping during body searches. Some male guards even watch female inmates bathing or going to the toilet. The US prison population stands at 2.4m representing 25% of the world’s entire prison population and 60% of the 2.3m inmates suffer from some sort of mental illness. There are 3300 prisons throughout the US run by private companies.
When the US asks nations not to discriminate it emerges that over 22% Americans do not even want to have a Muslim as their neighbor. There are 2.6m Muslims in the US and over 70% of them are suffering mental agony as a result of verbal attacks against them.
US accuses countries of not allowing freedom of expression & movement. Little are US citizens aware that there are over 1200 Governmental organizations, over 1900 private companies involved in counter terrorism, homeland security & intelligence in over 10,000 locations throughout US with over 800,000 people with security clearance working in Washington DC which has a population of only 617,666! Over 260 organizations have been created following 9/11 to track, collect threat tips and coordinate counter terrorism.
The US is going to great lengths to protect its territory, it is spending billions on securing economic stability of its corporates. While all this is happening, internal problems prevail and the statistics does not reveal anything to be proud about.
There are 744,000 homeless people in the United States. In 2010, 17.2 million households, 14.5 percent of households (approximately one in seven), were food insecure, In 2010, 46.9 million people were in poverty, up from 37.3 million in 2007. The 2010 poverty rate was 15.1 percent, up from 12.5 percent in 1997.
20.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty. This means their family’s cash income is less than half of the poverty line, or about $10,000 a year for a family of four. More than 1.25 million, or 1 in every 58 children in the United States, were abused in 2006. More than half (61 percent) of the children (771,700 children) were victims of neglect, meaning a parent or guardian failed to provide for the child’s basic needs. Forms of neglect include educational neglect (360,500 children), physical neglect (295,300 children), and emotional neglect (193,400).
The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without a universal health insurance system. 46 million Americans have no health insurance. 18000 people die each year because they are uninsured. Yet, U.S. health care system has become one gigantic money making scam. United States spent 2.47 trillion dollars on health care in 2009. Americans now spend a staggering $200 billion a year on prescription drugs.
While the US Government is busy upsetting nations all over the world its own citizens including children as young as 12 are degenerating into literary drug addicts clinging to prescription & antidepressant drugs most of whom are clueless about the nefarious activities that its Government is upto worldwide. There were 100,000 workplace discrimination charges filed in 2010. The charges covered discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, religion, retaliation, age, disability & equal pay.
The 21stcentury saw US involved in bold invasions totally ignoring UN or common diplomacy. The extraordinary renditions have led to over 3000 victims who have been transported by private companies to foreign destinations to be tortured by the CIA. Guatanamo Bay, Diego Garcia still remain as torture dens of the CIA. US has not even ratified most of the important UN Conventions/Treaties & refuses to follow those that they have signed anyway.
In summary some of the US war crimes that we must never forget is the atomic bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki in 1945. It was the world’s first use of atomic bombings. The US is responsible for killing over 110,000 Japanese citizens & injuring over 130,000. By 1950 another 230,000 died from injuries and radiation. Since World War II the US has bombed twenty-three nations. Then there is the 1968 My Lai Massacre where over 500 unarmed civilians were beaten, raped, tortured & maimed by the US army platoon led by Lt. William Calley.
In 1988, totally disregarding the Rome Statute of the ICC Article 8 (2) (b) (iv) which prohibits civilian damage in an anticipated military advantage, the US shoots down Iran Air Flight 655 killing all 290 passengers & crew on board. The excuse given by the US was that the US plan had mistakenly identified the Iranian airliner as an attacking military fighter how does that explain awarding the officer who shot the place a Legion of Merit! Over 37,000 US personnel are positioned at 100 installations in South Korea & this continues to be the single greatest obstacle to peace in Korea – incidentally Ban-ki Moon is from South Korea! Another US perpetrated war crime is the lists of communist party members in Indonesia given to Suharto to kill – that figure is said to be somewhere between 100,000 to 1,000,000. The same Indonesian army invaded East Timor in 1975 using napalm, phosphorus bombs & chemical defoliants delivered by US planes.
How many of us know that the US used 8million tons of bombs in Vietnam dropped indiscriminately with 80% falling on rural areas & not military targets? How many of us know that the US used nearly 400,000 tons of napalm on Vietnamese villages where ¾ of South Vietnam was declared “FREE FIRE ZONE” & not “No Fire Zone”? What is the US preaching to Sri Lanka? A memo by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in 1967 estimates that Vietnamese civilians killed or injured by US forces were 1000 per week. 5m Vietnamese had been killed by the US. US was indiscriminately spraying nearly 20m gallons of defoliants throughout South Vietnam – present day civilians are still suffering from the after-effects, the same as Iraqi civilians. US also bombed Laos in 1964 – 230,000 tons of bombs. A further 260,000 bombs were dropped in Cambodia in 1969.
Then in Iraq the US used depleted uranium leaving a legacy of radioactive debris resulting in serious environmental contamination & health problems with child mortality reaching 380%. Between 1990 to 1997 an estimated 1.2m Iraqi children are said to have died due to the economic sanctions and as a result of the radioactivity. The goal to divide Yugoslavia into mini-states began in 1991 with US covertly providing arms, training, satellite intelligence to the Croatians to attack Serbs leaving 250,000 Serbs to be ethnically cleansed from Krajina. Under the US-brokered Dayton Agreement, Bosnia/Herzegovina was divided into 2 with US/NATO, IMF & international controlling the central government & all of its economic assets fleeced by foreign investors – they all own energy facilities, water, telecommunication, media & transportation. Sri Lankans please relate these lessons to one’s own country! In 1999, 23000 missiles & bombs, 35,000 cluster bombs, 31000 depleted uranium weapons were dropped in a country with just 11m people. US & NATO targeted schools, hospitals, farms, bridges, communication centers, waterways – these were no mistaken targets. Today, soil, water, air has spread to Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece & Italy.
The US may like to play the role of human rights champion while totally ignoring its atrocities over the past decade and foreign Governments should be far more courageous to even diplomatically remind the US that it has violated the Nuremberg Principles, violated the 1949 Geneva Convention relating to the protection of civilian prisoners of war, wounded & the sick, it has committed serious war crimes & crimes against humanity, it has purposely destroyed civilian infrastructure, it has used biological, chemical & depleted uranium – which are weapons that violates international laws but more importantly violates moral & humanitarian code of conducts expected of a civilized nation.
Shame on you, America! And despite all these guilts you are pointing fingers at Sri Lanka?


Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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