Wednesday, 26 March 2008
says aim is tainting Olympics
March 25, 2008
International Herald Tribune
CARACAS, Venezuela: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez
accused the United States of promoting violence in Tibet,
saying Washington aims to weaken China and sabotage the
Olympics in Beijing.
"The (U.S.) imperialists want to divide China. And they're
causing problems there in Tibet," Chavez said in a speech
Monday night. "They're trying to sabotage the Olympics in
Beijing, and behind that is the hand of imperialism.
"We ask the world to support China to neutralize this plan,
which aims to sabotage the Olympics," he added.
The deadly riots in the Tibetan capital Lhasa this month
have been the largest and most sustained in almost 20
years, and China has blamed followers of the Dalai Lama for
Chavez has built close ties with China and said in an
earlier speech Monday that U.S. "imperialism is on the
"You see the images of the violence in Tibet. Who is that
against? Against China," Chavez said. "It's the (U.S.)
empire that wants to weaken China, because China is rising
Chavez, who survived a failed coup in 2002, has often
accused the U.S. of trying to topple his own government -
something U.S. officials deny.
Monday, 24 March 2008
claim of "cultural genocide"
Special report: Dalai's separatist activities condemned
BEIJING, March 22 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese expert on Tibetan
studies lashed out at the Dalai Lama's recent claims of
"cultural genocide" on Saturday, saying that the real
motive behind the remarks is to split the country and seek
Jin's comments came after an unrest in the regional capital
Lhasa a week ago that led to the deaths of 18 civilians and
one police officer.
The Chinese government accused the Dalai clique of
organizing, premeditating and masterminding the riot, which
involved beating, smashing, ransacking and arson, while the
Dalai Lama said the Chinese government was carrying out
"cultural genocide" in the region.
"The Dalai clique knows well how to catch the world's
attention by preaching the so-called 'cultural genocide',
because they know more and more people from around the
globe are showing interest in the distinctive and
mysterious Tibetan culture," said Jin Zhiguo, chief editor
of the Beijing-based bi-monthly magazine, China's Tibet.
"Their arguments are groundless," said 51-year-old Jin, who
worked in Tibet's cultural authorities from 1977 to 2003,
during an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
NO NEED TO KEEP BLACK SLAVERY TO ENJOY THE BLUES
"With the continuous social progress and the advancement of
productive forces, it's a natural thing for some cultural
phenomena that are attached to relatively backward means of
production to fade out of history," he said, referring to
the gradual disappearance of salt-transporting from lake
areas to pasturing areas by pack animals, yak or sheep.
"But the cultural activities closely connected with the
salt-transporting, such as singing and dancing, rituals and
taboos, have been preserved," he said, noting that a
Tibetan writer and TV journalists have recorded the
centuries-old tradition in a book and a TV documentary.
"We needn't have to keep black slavery in the United States
just in order to enjoy the Blues," he said. "The
disappearance of salt-transporting by yaks won't lead to
the vanishing of the cultural elements it gave birth to."
FUNDS TO PRESERVE TIBET CULTURE
Jin said that the Chinese government has attached great
importance to preserving the Tibetan culture and language.
He said the government founded an institution in 1979 to
salvage and edit the Life of King Gesar, a Tibetan heroic
tale and the world's longest epic that has been transmitted
orally by ballad singers or lyricists for centuries.
After many years of effort, gesarologists have, with the
help of 57 balladeers, recorded 130 volumes of audio tapes
about the epic, written down more than 90 volumes of books
and published more than 30 volumes, he said.
"Researchers are still looking for new ballad singers on
the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and collecting more oral material
from the epic," he said.
Apart from that, the use of spoken and written Tibetan
language has not been discouraged during the past years,
and companies have been encouraged to develop technologies
using Tibetan characters, according to Jin.
"Just go to the Internet cafes in Tibet and see whether you
can find a computer without inputting method in Tibetan
language. All my Tibetan colleagues can use their own
language to send text messages via mobile phones," he said.
In addition to the preservation of intangible cultural
heritage, the Chinese government has earmarked 570 million
yuan (81.4 million U.S. dollars) for the preservation of 22
historical and cultural relics in Tibet. The project will
start this year and last until 2010.
The funds will be directed at 15 monasteries under
state-level protection and seven historical sites proving
the rule over Tibet by central governments in Chinese
history, Nyi'ma Cering, Tibet Regional Cultural Heritage
Bureau director, has said.
The latest move came after another preservation project of
330 million yuan on Potala Palace, Sagya Monastery and
Norbu Lingka Palace. These began in 2002 and were expected
to be finished this year.
Over the past two decades, the central and local
governments have invested more than 700 million yuan in
total in the preservation and maintenance of historical and
cultural relics in Tibet. This covered more than 1,400
monasteries, cultural relics and religious sites.
In the eyes of Jin, the claims of "cultural genocide" by
the Dalai clique are absurd, and are actually
demonstrations of their real motive of splitting China and
seeking "Tibet independence".
"If the Chinese government really wants to launch a
'cultural genocide' in Tibet, then why does it spend money
to support us for studying, preserving and promoting the
Tibetan culture?" he said.
Thursday, 20 March 2008
By Sukant Chandan*
20 March, 2008
As George Bush announced ‘strategic victories’ in Iraq by
helping to foment the ‘first Arab uprising against
Al-Qaeda’, Bin Laden again stole the limelight by issuing a
five minute audio statement in time for the fifth
anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and of the birthday of
the Prophet Mohammed. Leaving aside Bush’s dubious claims
about successes in Iraq (which even analysts very close to
the US political elite have been warning against) Bin Laden
directs his comments to the European governments and
people. Bin Laden’s Islamist views and violent struggle may
very well be reprehensible to many but Bin Laden remains
one of the most high profile Islamist voices that is
expressing the opinions and feelings of many Muslims across
the world. There are issues raised in Bin Laden’s statement
that European would do well to address, being mainly the
problem of European troops in Afghanistan as well as in
Iraq and the high-handed and provocative way in which
Europe deals with Muslim sensitivities. It is incumbent
that Europe does so as these issues impact directly on
race-relations in Europe and Europe’s relationship with the
Muslim world, a relationship which is tense and often
violent and will continue to be so if current attitudes and
policies remain unchanged.
In what is becoming increasingly common practice Al-Sahab
the media arm of Al-Qaeda provide their own English
subtitles to the statement so as to make their messages
readily understood by Westerners and Al-Qaeda’s English
speaking supporters. The audio message is readily available
to view on many video sharing sites and news outlets on the
internet and shows Bin Laden brandishing an AK-47 assault
rifle in a training camp in Afghanistan from some years ago
Although there are many subjects that Bin Laden touches
upon in this latest statement the one issue that the
Western media has homed in on are the comments around the
re-publication this year of the Islamophobic Danish
cartoons and Bin Laden’s threat to hit back ‘not with what
you will hear but with what you will see’. While it is true
that Bin Laden sees the atrocities committed by European
forces against Muslim civilians in Afghanistan as ‘paling
in comparison’ to the re-printing of these cartoons in
Danish newspapers, there are a number of other issues that
Bin Laden raises that are just as important but which is
given little to no airtime in the mainstream media. The
media’s coverage of Bin Laden’s comments on the
re-publication of the cartoons does not give an accurate
representation of the way in which Bin Laden is presenting
the subject. By focusing only on the Danish cartoons issue
in Bin Laden’s speech, the media continues its culture of
caricaturing Muslims; taking issues out of context,
portraying Muslims as people who do not respect freedom of
speech and who are irrationally intolerant.
In fact Bin Laden’s statement puts the cartoon issue into
context by talking of Europe’s military action in
Afghanistan which results in the killing of innocent men,
women and children in mud huts; that the cartoons and the
aggression against the ‘weak and oppressed in our
countries’ are together evidence of the ‘continuation of
the war’ against Muslims. Bin Laden argues that Europe has
violated the rules of war by killing innocents deliberately
and in so doing means Al-Qaeda too is not tied to any
rules. He derides Europe’s lack of ‘etiquette’ in the war
between them and points out that amongst the billion and a
half million Muslims across the world, not one of them has
insulted the Prophet Jesus which is a revered prophet in
Islam. These themes of European insult and hypocrisy are
the main themes in this latest statement.
Perhaps unsurprisingly what most of the media seem very
reluctant to report are Bin Laden’s comments about the
allegations of bribery from the Saudis to Britain over
British BAE deals to Saudi Arabia, and how a probe into
these allegations was stopped by Blair at the insistence of
the Saudi King. Seen by many as a tenuous excuse for a
cover-up Blair cited security concerns for halting all
investigations. A little over a month ago the British
Campaign Against the Arms Trade told a judicial review in
London that the government acted unlawfully when it told
the Fraud Office to stop looking into alleged bribes to
Saudi officials by BAE. Last year the British media
reported that more than $2 billion from BAE ended up in
Prince Bandar’s bank accounts in Washington, money which is
said to be linked to an arms deal negotiated in 1985 worth
The Bin Laden statement points out the hypocrisy of the
British and the Saudis. One the one hand Bin Laden states
that while the ‘crownless’ King of Saudi Arabia can stop
this British investigation, he cannot stop the
re-publication of the offensive cartoons, something which
Bin Laden argues he is capable of doing. On the other hand
Bin Laden argues that while the Europeans are happy to use
the ‘sacredness’ of their freedom of speech to literally
add insult to injury on Muslims, they are not so keen on
these freedoms when it comes to investigating possible
corruption. Bin Laden links the cartoons issue with
European hypocrisy and corruption with Saudi Arabia, a
state which has been one of Al-Qaeda’s main targets for
guerrilla operations in recent years.
Bin Laden raises another issue which has hardly seen a
murmur of protest is the appointment of Blair to the
Quartet. After Blair’s infamous role in being the closest
and most loyal ally of Israel and Bush in the wars against
Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, he has been
appointed by the EU to be the head of the Quartet in
dealing with the Middle East. Bin Laden explains that this
is confirmation of Europe’s attitudes towards Muslims. Bin
Laden has raised an important issue as Blair’s appointment
does indeed signal a worrying sign to Muslims that Europe
is failing to put distance between itself and the US
military and propaganda campaign against independence
movements of the Middle East. Soon after the appointment of
Blair in June last year, one of the most respected Arab
journalists raised the same issue. Abdel Bari Atwan
editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi
wrote in his opinion piece that the selection of Blair
indicates “once again the insistence of the western states
and the US in particular in provoking the feelings of the
Arabs and Muslims and continuing to adopt wrong policies
which led to the current state of bloody chaos in the
Middle East. Blair, whom President Georges Bush wanted to
reward for blindly following his administration, completely
lost his credibility and is considered the most hated
person by Arabs and Muslims after President Bush”.
Furthermore Atwan wrote that rotten eggs were the only
befitting welcome for Blair when visiting Arab capitals,
What seems to be lost in the headlines and selective
reports about this latest statement is that Bin Laden is
essentially arguing that the re-publication of the cartoons
are significant in that they are a sign to Muslims that not
only will Europe treat Muslims in Afghanistan and other
countries with military terror, but will also treat them
with extreme insensitivity, failing to recognise that there
are certain ‘moral rules’ even in war that great powers in
history have followed. Bin Laden opens his address “to the
intelligent ones” in Europe, indicating that he is again,
like his previous offer of a security covenant, trying to
reach out to those in Europe who want to distance
themselves from the war against Arabs and Muslim peoples,
and thus contribute to a more peaceful world. For those who
ridicule the possibility of people and governments
responding positively to Bin Laden, one can point to the
recent comments by Jonathan Powell, former senior aide to
Blair who argues for keeping lines of communication open
with even the most bitter of enemies: "There's nothing to
say to al-Qaida and they've got nothing to say to us at the
moment, but at some stage you're going to have to come to a
political solution as well as a security solution. And that
means you need the ability to talk." Judging from the
latest Bin Laden message, Al-Qaeda have got something to
say to us. If the British could start talks without
pre-conditions with hooded guerrilla fighters from the
Irish Republican Army who were blowing up bombs left, right
and centre in English towns, then developing negotiations
towards a peaceful and just agreement with today’s hooded
gunmen who happen to be Muslim and want to expel foreign
troops from their countries is not so much of an
unimaginable prospect as it might appear to some. The
prospects for peace are grim, and one hopes that we do not
come to our senses about our flawed foreign policies only
after tragic events such as those in Madrid in March 2004.
*Sukant Chandan is a consultant for Conflicts Forum, a
freelance journalist and independent publisher. He runs two
websites: Sons of Malcolm, and OURAIM.
He can be contacted at: email@example.com
is that we never learn
Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Five years on, and still we have not learnt. With each
anniversary, the steps crumble beneath our feet, the stones
ever more cracked, the sand ever finer. Five years of
catastrophe in Iraq and I think of Churchill, who in the
end called Palestine a "hell-disaster".
But we have used these parallels before and they have
drifted away in the Tigris breeze. Iraq is swamped in
blood. Yet what is the state of our remorse? Why, we will
have a public inquiry – but not yet! If only inadequacy was
our only sin.
Today, we are engaged in a fruitless debate. What went
wrong? How did the people – the senatus populusque Romanus
of our modern world – not rise up in rebellion when told
the lies about weapons of mass destruction, about Saddam's
links with Osama bin Laden and 11 September? How did we let
it happen? And how come we didn't plan for the aftermath of
Oh, the British tried to get the Americans to listen,
Downing Street now tells us. We really, honestly did try,
before we absolutely and completely knew it was right to
embark on this illegal war. There is now a vast literature
on the Iraq debacle and there are precedents for post-war
planning – of which more later – but this is not the point.
Our predicament in Iraq is on an infinitely more terrible
As the Americans came storming up Iraq in 2003, their
cruise missiles hissing through the sandstorm towards a
hundred Iraqi towns and cities, I would sit in my filthy
room in the Baghdad Palestine Hotel, unable to sleep for
the thunder of explosions, and root through the books I'd
brought to fill the dark, dangerous hours. Tolstoy's War
and Peace reminded me how conflict can be described with
sensitivity and grace and horror – I recommend the Battle
of Borodino – along with a file of newspaper clippings. In
this little folder, there was a long rant by Pat Buchanan,
written five months earlier; and still, today I feel its
power and its prescience and its absolute historical
honesty: "With our MacArthur Regency in Baghdad, Pax
Americana will reach apogee. But then the tide recedes, for
the one endeavour at which Islamic people excel is
expelling imperial powers by terror or guerrilla war.
"They drove the Brits out of Palestine and Aden, the French
out of Algeria, the Russians out of Afghanistan, the
Americans out of Somalia and Beirut, the Israelis out of
Lebanon. We have started up the road to empire and over the
next hill we will meet those who went before. The only
lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn from
How easily the little men took us into the inferno, with no
knowledge or, at least, interest in history. None of them
read of the 1920 Iraqi insurgency against British
occupation, nor of Churchill's brusque and brutal
settlement of Iraq the following year.
On our historical radars, not even Crassus appeared, the
wealthiest Roman general of all, who demanded an
emperorship after conquering Macedonia – "Mission
Accomplished" – and vengefully set forth to destroy
Mesopotamia. At a spot in the desert near the Euphrates
river, the Parthians – ancestors of present day Iraqi
insurgents – annihilated the legions, chopped off Crassus's
head and sent it back to Rome filled with gold. Today, they
would have videotaped his beheading.
To their monumental hubris, these little men who took us to
war five years ago now prove that they have learnt nothing.
Anthony Blair – as we should always have called this small
town lawyer – should be facing trial for his mendacity.
Instead, he now presumes to bring peace to an Arab-Israeli
conflict which he has done so much to exacerbate. And now
we have the man who changed his mind on the legality of war
– and did so on a single sheet of A4 paper – daring to
suggest that we should test immigrants for British
citizenship. Question 1, I contend, should be: Which
blood-soaked British attorney general helped to send 176
British soldiers to their deaths for a lie? Question 2: How
did he get away with it?
But in a sense, the facile, dumbo nature of Lord
Goldsmith's proposal is a clue to the whole transitory,
cardboard structure of our decision-making. The great
issues that face us – be they Iraq or Afghanistan, the US
economy or global warming, planned invasions or "terrorism"
– are discussed not according to serious political
timetables but around television schedules and press
Will the first air raids on Iraq hit prime-time television
in the States? Mercifully, yes. Will the first US troops in
Baghdad appear on the breakfast shows? Of course. Will
Saddam's capture be announced by Bush and Blair
But this is all part of the problem. True, Churchill and
Roosevelt argued about the timing of the announcement that
war in Europe had ended. And it was the Russians who pipped
them to the post. But we told the truth. When the British
were retreating to Dunkirk, Churchill announced that the
Germans had "penetrated deeply and spread alarm and
confusion in their tracks".
Why didn't Bush or Blair tell us this when the Iraqi
insurgents began to assault the Western occupation forces?
Well, they were too busy telling us that things were
getting better, that the rebels were mere "dead-enders".
On 17 June 1940, Churchill told the people of Britain: "The
news from France is very bad and I grieve for the gallant
French people who have fallen into this terrible
misfortune." Why didn't Blair or Bush tell us that the news
from Iraq was very bad and that they grieved – even just a
few tears for a minute or so – for the Iraqis?
For these were the men who had the temerity, the sheer,
unadulterated gall, to dress themselves up as Churchill,
heroes who would stage a rerun of the Second World War, the
BBC dutifully calling the invaders "the Allies" – they did,
by the way – and painting Saddam's regime as the Third
Of course, when I was at school, our leaders – Attlee,
Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, or Truman, Eisenhower and
Kennedy in the United States – had real experience of real
war. Not a single Western leader today has any first-hand
experience of conflict. When the Anglo-American invasion of
Iraq began, the most prominent European opponent of the war
was Jacques Chirac, who fought in the Algerian conflict.
But he has now gone. So has Colin Powell, a Vietnam veteran
but himself duped by Rumsfeld and the CIA.
Yet one of the terrible ironies of our times is that the
most bloodthirsty of American statesmen – Bush and Cheney,
Rumsfeld and Wolfovitz – have either never heard a shot
fired in anger or have ensured they did not have to fight
for their country when they had the chance to do so. No
wonder Hollywood titles like "Shock and Awe" appeal to the
White House. Movies are their only experience of human
conflict; the same goes for Blair and Brown.
Churchill had to account for the loss of Singapore before a
packed House. Brown won't even account for Iraq until the
war is over.
It is a grotesque truism that today – after all the
posturing of our political midgets five years ago – we
might at last be permitted a valid seance with the ghosts
of the Second World War. Statistics are the medium, and the
room would have to be dark. But it is a fact that the total
of US dead in Iraq (3,978) is well over the number of
American casualties suffered in the initial D-Day landings
at Normandy (3,384 killed and missing) on 6 June, 1944, or
more than three times the total British casualties at
Arnhem the same year (1,200).
They count for just over a third of the total fatalities
(11,014) of the entire British Expeditionary Force from the
German invasion of Belgium to the final evacuation at
Dunkirk in June 1940. The number of British dead in Iraq –
176 – is almost equal to the total of UK forces lost at the
Battle of the Bulge in 1944-45 (just over 200). The number
of US wounded in Iraq – 29,395 – is more than nine times
the number of Americans injured on 6 June (3,184) and more
than a quarter of the tally for US wounded in the entire
1950-53 Korean war (103,284).
Iraqi casualties allow an even closer comparison to the
Second World War. Even if we accept the lowest of fatality
statistics for civilian dead – they range from 350,000 up
to a million – these long ago dwarfed the number of British
civilian dead in the flying-bomb blitz on London in 1944-45
(6,000) and now far outnumber the total figure for
civilians killed in bombing raids across the United Kingdom
– 60,595 dead, 86,182 seriously wounded – from 1940 to
Indeed, the Iraqi civilian death toll since our invasion is
now greater than the total number of British military
fatalities in the Second World War, which came to an
astounding 265,000 dead (some histories give this figure as
300,000) and 277,000 wounded. Minimum estimates for Iraqi
dead mean that the civilians of Mesopotamia have suffered
six or seven Dresdens or – more terrible still – two
Yet in a sense, all this is a distraction from the awful
truth in Buchanan's warning. We have dispatched our armies
into the land of Islam. We have done so with the sole
encouragement of Israel, whose own false intelligence over
Iraq has been discreetly forgotten by our masters, while
weeping crocodile tears for the hundreds of thousands of
Iraqis who have died.
America's massive military prestige has been irreparably
diminished. And if there are, as I now calculate, 22 times
as many Western troops in the Muslim world as there were at
the time of the 11th and 12th century Crusades, we must ask
what we are doing. Are we there for oil? For democracy? For
Israel? For fear of weapons of mass destruction? Or for
fear of Islam?
We blithely connect Afghanistan to Iraq. If only Washington
had not become distracted by Iraq, so the narrative now
goes, the Taliban could not have re-established themselves.
But al-Qa'ida and the nebulous Osama bin Laden were not
distracted. Which is why they expanded their operations
into Iraq and then used this experience to assault the West
in Afghanistan with the hitherto – in Afghanistan – unheard
of suicide bomber.
And I will hazard a terrible guess: that we have lost
Afghanistan as surely as we have lost Iraq and as surely as
we are going to "lose" Pakistan. It is our presence, our
power, our arrogance, our refusal to learn from history and
our terror – yes, our terror – of Islam that is leading us
into the abyss. And until we learn to leave these Muslim
peoples alone, our catastrophe in the Middle East will only
become graver. There is no connection between Islam and
"terror". But there is a connection between our occupation
of Muslim lands and "terror". It's not too complicated an
equation. And we don't need a public inquiry to get it
Tuesday, 18 March 2008
of United States in 2007
BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) -- The Information Office of the State Council published a report titled "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2007" here on Thursday. Following is the full text:
The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007 on March 11, 2008. As in previous years, the reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China but mention nothing of the widespread human rights abuses on its own territory. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2007 is prepared to help people around the world understand the real situation of human rights in the United States and as a reminder for the United States to reflect upon its own issues.
I. On Life, Property and Personal Security
The increase of violent crimes in the United States poses a serious threat to its people's lives, liberty and personal security.
According to a FBI report on crime statistics released in September 2007, 1.41 million violent crimes were reported nationwide in 2006, an increase of 1.9 percent over 2005. Of the violent crimes, the estimated number of murders and nonnegligent manslaughters increased 1.8 percent, and that of robberies increased 7.2 percent (FBI Release its 2006 Crime Statistics,FBI,www.fbi.gov/pressre1/pressre107/cius092407.htm). Throughout 2006, U.S. residents age 12 or above experienced an estimated 25 million crimes of violence and theft. The violent crime rate was 24.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older, for property crimes it was 159.5 per 1,000 households. Males experienced 26 violent victimizations per 1,000 males age 12 or older; females, 23 per 1,000 females age 12 or older. Blacks experienced 33 violent victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older, higher than 23 for whites (Criminal Victimization 2006, U.S. Department of Justice, www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs). In the United States, one violent crime was committed in every 22.2 seconds, one murder committed in every 30.9 minutes, one rape in every 5.7 minutes, one robbery in every 1.2 minutes and one aggravated assault in every 36.6 seconds (FBI Release its 2006 Crime Statistics, FBI, www.fbi.gov/pressre1/pressre107/cius092407.htm).
The United States has the largest number of privately-owned guns in the world. Frequent gun violence poses a serious threat to people’s life and property security. There are an estimated 250 million privately-owned firearms in the United States. Almost every American, even ex-criminals with felony records and minors, has firearms. The Associated Press reported on January 29, 2007 that about 410,000 Floridians were licensed to carry hidden guns, including 1,400 who had pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies, thanks to loopholes, errors and miscommunication of authorities.
II. On Human Rights Violations by Law Enforcement and Judicial Departments
The abuse of their power by law enforcement and judicial departments in the United States has seriously violated the freedom and rights of its citizens.
Cases in which U.S. law enforcement authorities allegedly violated victims' civil rights increased by 25 percent from fiscal year 2001 to 2007 over the previous seven years, according to statistics from U.S. Department of Justice (Police Brutality Casesup 25%; Union Worried Over Dip in Hiring Standards, USA Today, December 18, 2007). The national average among large police departments for excessive-force complaints was 9.5 per 100 full-time officers (The New York Times, November 14, 2007). But the majority of law enforcement officers accused of brutality were not prosecuted in the end. From May 2001 to June 2006, 2,451 police officers in Chicago received four to 10 complaints each, 662 of them received more than 10 complaints each, but only 22 were punished. Furthermore, there were officers who had amassed more than 50 abuse complaints but were never disciplined in any fashion (The Chicago Police Department's Broken System, University of Chicago, www.law.chicago.edu). On August 17, 2006, a 52-year-old Chicago woman named Dolores Robare was nearly struck by a speeding police car when she was crossing the road. The officer stopped and asked her to produce her identification. She was brutally beaten by the police when she asked them why it was taking so long (The Chicago Tribune, May 1, 2007). On December 15,2006, four businessmen were beaten by six off-duty officers at a bar for no apparent reasons (The Chicago Tribune, June 9, 2007). On August 3, 42-year-old African American Geffrey Johnson was killed at his home by the police using a taser gun. On August 6, 18-year-old black youth Aaron Harrison was shot in the back and killed by police pursuing him (The Chicago Tribune, August 9, 2007). On May 1 when Latino immigrants were campaigning for the rights of illegal immigrants at MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles, police officers abused their power by clubbing demonstrators and journalists and shooting them with rubber bullets (The Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2007). On November 12, five police officers fired 20 bullets at 18-year-old youth Khiel Coppin, eight hitting him, in front of his mother's house, after mistaking a comb he was brandishing as a gun (The China Press, New York, November 19, 2007). According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Justice in October 2007, 47 states and the District of Columbia reported 2,002 arrest-related deaths between 2003 and 2005. Among these, 1,095, or 55 percent, were killed by gunfire of state or local police (Death in Custody Statistical Tables, U.S. Department of Justice, www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs).
Abusing the inmates is commonplace in U.S. prisons. According to a report released by U.S. Department of Justice in December 2007, an estimated 60,500 inmates, or 4.5 percent of State and Federal inmates, experienced one or more incidents of sexual victimization, 2.9 percent of the inmates reported an incident involving prison staff, 0.5 percent said they had been sexually victimized by both other inmates and staff, 0.8 percent of the inmates were injured as a result of sexual victimization (Sexual Victimization in State and Federal Prisons Reported by Inmates, U.S. Department of Justice, www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs). The U.S. government acknowledged in a January 16, 2007 report that suspected illegal immigrants were mistreated in five prisons, breaching the principle of humane custody (The Washington Post, January 17, 2007). The Washington Post reported on December 17, 2007 that juvenile inmates in a West Texas youth prison were sexually assaulted or beaten and denied medical care. Those who reported the crime got revenged upon and the situation remained unimproved months after the scandal was brought to light. (Dad Dismissed Prison Reform, The Washington Times, December 17, 2007).In January 2008, seven prisoners in Georgia State filed a class-action lawsuit accusing guards and other corrections officers of abusing and torturing them between October 2005 and August 2007, including beating them with batons and special black leather "beating gloves" and ramming inmates' heads against the wall. Media reports said some 40 inmates in other Georgia prisons complained of similar cases, in which guards strapped nude inmates to iron beds or iron chairs, denying them of food, water or access to bathroom for as long as 48 hours, and causing the death of two inmates (International Herald Tribune, January 8, 2008). Guards in American prisons regularly use taser guns. According to a 2007 report from Amnesty International, 230 Americans have died from taser guns since 2001. In July 2006, a prison in Garfield County, Colorado was accused of regularly using taser guns or pepper sprayers on inmates, and then tying them to chairs in awkward positions for hours. In August, prison guards in Arapahoe County of Colorado strapped inmate Raul Gallegos-Reyes to a restraint chair for yelling and knocking on his cell door. He died after being repeatedly stunned with a taser gun.
The justice of U.S. judicial system was increasingly put in question. Survey finds that since the first DNA exoneration in 1989, there have been 209 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States. The average length of time served by exonerees is 12 years. The average age of exonerees at the time of their wrongful convictions was 26, and 15 of the 209 people exonerated through DNA served time on death row (Facts on Post-Conviction DNA Exonerations, Innocence Project, www.innocenceproject.com). The Associated Press reported on January 3, 2008 that Charles Chatman of Texas was proved innocent by DNA evidence after spending 26 years in prison. In 1981, he was sentenced to 99 years in prison after convicted of committing serious sexual assaults. He was the 15th inmate exonerated by DNA evidence in Dalas since 2001 (Texas Man Exonerated by DNA After 26 Years, the Associated Press, January 3, 2008).
The freedom and rights of individual citizens are being increasingly marginalized in the United States.
The House of Representatives and the Senate of the U.S. Congress passed the Protect America Act of 2007 on August 3, and August 4, 2007, respectively. The act enables the U.S. administration to eavesdrop terrorist suspects in the United States without court approval. It also permits intelligence services to conduct electronic surveillance on digital communications between terrorist suspects outside the United States if the communications are routed through the country (The so-called Protect America Act, http://public.findlaw.com, August 10, 2007). According to a report by the Washington Post on March 10, 2007, the FBI improperly obtained personal information on more than 52,000 people without court oversight through the use of national security letters (NSLs) from 2003 to 2005. Verizon Communications, the second largest telecom company in the United States, disclosed that the FBI sought information identifying not just a person making a call, but all the people that customer called, as well as the people those people called. From January 2005 to September 2007, Verizon provided data to federal authorities "on an emergency basis" 720 times. The records included Internet protocol addresses as well as phone data. In that period, Verizon turned over information a total of 94,000 times to federal authorities armed with a subpoena or court order. The information was mainly used for a range of criminal investigations including counter-terrorism investigations (The Washington Post, October 16, 2007). In August 2007, the United States' National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell revealed that fewer than 100 people inside the United States are monitored under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants. However, he said, thousands of people overseas are monitored (The Associated Press, August 23, 2007). The FBI is embarking on a 1 billion U.S. dollars effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, called Next Generation Identification, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad. The increasing use of biometrics for identification is raising questions about the ability of Americans to avoid unwanted scrutiny (FBI Prepares Vast Database Of Biometrics, The Washington Post, December 22, 2007). Statistics show that the government's illegal dragnet electronic surveillance has put sensitive personal information from millions of people at risk. 477 breaches into government databases were found in 2006 alone. More than 162 million records were reported lost or stolen in 2007, triple the 49.7 million that went missing in 2006 (USA Today website, December 10, 2007). In July 2007, the Homeland Security Department granted more than 4 million U.S. dollars to install 175 video cameras on the streets of cities including St. Paul, Madison (Wisconsin State) and Pittsburgh. The Boston Globe estimated that up to hundreds of millions of dollars were being spent by the department to install new surveillance systems around the country, accelerating the rise of a "surveillance society" (The Boston Globe, August 12, 2007).
Workers' right to unionize has been restricted in the United States. It was reported that union membership fell by 326,000 in 2006, bringing the percentage of employees in unions to 12 percent, down from 20 percent in 1983. Employer resistance stopped 53 percent of nonunion workers from joining a union (Sharp Decline in Union Members in '06, The New York Times, January 26, 2007). According to a report by the Human Rights Watch, when Wal-Mart stores faced unionization drives, the company often broke the law by, for example, eavesdropping on workers, training surveillance cameras on them and firing those who favored unions (Report Assails Wal-Mart Over Unions, The New York Times, May 1, 2007).
In the United States, money is "mother's milk" for politics while elections are "games" for the wealthy, highlighting the hypocrisy of the U.S. democracy, which has been fully borne out by the 2008 presidential election. The "financial threshold" for participating in the U.S. presidential election is becoming higher and higher. At least 10 of the 20-strong major party candidates who are seeking the U.S. presidency in general elections in 2008 are millionaires, according to a report by Spanish news agency EFE on May 18, 2007. The French news agency AFP reported on January 15,2007 that the 2008 presidential election will be the most expensive race in history. The cost of the last presidential campaign in 2004, considered a peak for its time, was 693 million U.S. dollars. Common estimates of this year's total outlay have tended to come in at around 1 billion U.S dollars, and Fortune magazine recently upped its overall cost projection to 3 billion U.S. dollars. An important presidential candidate of the Democratic Party raised a total of 115 million U.S. dollars in 2007, and another important candidate of the Party raised 103 million U.S. dollars. A Republican candidate said his campaign has 12.7 million U.S. dollars, and another Republican White House hopeful, a wealthy businessman, has already dished out 17 million U.S. dollars of his own. The New York Times said on November 26, 2007 that confronting an enormous fund-raising gap with Democrats, Republican Party officials were aggressively recruiting wealthy candidates who could spend large sums of their own money to finance their campaigns. Some wealthy Republicans had each already invested 100,000 to 1 million U.S. dollars of their own money to finance their campaigns. In New York's 20th Congressional District, it was estimated that each candidate would spend at least 3 million U.S. dollars.
The "cash race" has permeated various kinds of elections in the United States. According to figures from relevant institutions, from 2005 to 2006, candidates for state high courts collected more than 34 million U.S. dollars in campaign donations. In a contest in Pennsylvania to elect two new members of the state Supreme Court, judicial candidates have broken state fundraising records, pulling down 6.8 million U.S. dollars (USA Today, November 5, 2007). Having been elected, some Congress members sought to secure interests for their campaign donors. According to a report by the Washington Post on December 10, 2007, the amount of 10 biggest earmarks that House Majority Leader sponsored in 2008 congressional spending bills, either solo or in conjunction with other legislators, worth of 96 million U.S. dollars. One earmark alone cost 9.8 million U.S dollars. The earmarks included many that would benefit his campaign donors. When the 471 billion U.S. dollar Pentagon spending bill passed in November 2007, a legislator from Pennsylvania State said in a news release that he helped secure 8 million U.S dollars in funding for seven companies in his Pittsburgh-area district, including companies that contributed to his campaign. In addition, 20 freshman members of Congress secured earmarks for special-interest groups. The funding ranges from 8 million U.S. dollars to more than 18 million U.S. dollars ("Earmarks" Analysis Shows Money Follows Power, USA Today, December 12, 2007).
To seek more interests, some companies have paid for trips for some important political figures and other government employees. Records show lawmakers accepted free trips worth nearly 1.9 million U.S. dollars during the first eight months of 2007, more than in all of 2006 (Limits Don't Slow Trip Perks for U.S. Lawmakers, USA Today, October 24, 2007). According to a report by the USA Today on August 23, 2007, an examination of more than 600 travel reports on executive-branch officials over a 12-month period has found that more than 200 trips were funded by relevant companies or trade groups. The chief of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and her predecessor have taken nearly 30 trips since 2002 that were paid for in full or in part by trade associations or manufacturers of products. The expenses totaled nearly 60,000 U.S. dollars.
The U.S. administration manipulated the press. On October 23, 2007, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staged a news conference on California wildfires. A half-dozen questions were asked within 15 minutes at the event by FEMA staff members posing as reporters. The news was aired by U.S-based television stations. After the Washington Post disclosed the farce, FEMA tried to defend itself for staging the fake briefing (FEMA Official Apologizes for Staged Briefing With Fake Reporters, The Washington Post, October 27, 2007). When Private Jessica Lynch and brother of late Army Ranger Pat Tillman were testifying to Congress on April 24, they decried the Pentagon's "deceit" in turning her and Tillman's disastrous experiences into false tales of heroism and lambasted the U.S. Administration for lying about the incident (The Times, April 25, 2007).
IV. On Economic, Social and Cultural rights
The deserved economic, social and cultural rights of American citizens have not been properly protected.
Poor population in the United States is constantly increasing. According to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau in August 2007, the official poverty rate in 2006 was 12.3 percent. There were 36.5 million people, or 7.7 million families living in poverty in 2006. In another word, almost one out of eight American citizens lives in poverty. The poverty rate in Mississippi was as high as 21.1 percent (Poverty Drops as Nation's Income Hits 5-years High, USA Today, August 29, 2007). The poverty rate of major American cities was 16.1 percent. The rate was 15.2 percent in suburban areas and 13.8 percent in the South. The poverty rate in the Washington D.C. was 19.8 percent, which meant nearly one-fifths of its citizens were living in poverty (DC's "Two Economies" Headed in Different Directions, Report Finds, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, October 24, 2007).
The wealth of the richest group in the United States has rapidly expanded in recent year, widening the earning gap between the rich and the poor. The earnings of the highest one percent of the population accounted for 21.2 percent of American total national income in 2005, compared with 19 percent in 2004. The earnings of the lowest 50 percent of the population accounted for 12.8 percent of the total national income in 2005, down from 13.4 percent in 2004 (Reuters, October 12, 2007). The number of "ultra-high-net worth" U.S. households, that is, those with a net worth of 5 million U.S. Dollars or more, excluding the value of their primary homes, reached 1.14 million in 2006, a 23 percent rise from 930,000 in 2005 (Richest Households Pass 1 Million Mark, CNNmoney.com, April 17, 2007). The number of billionaires increased from 13 in 1985 to more than 1,000 in 2006 (The Observer, July 24, 2007). Top executives of major U.S. businesses made an average of more than 10 million U.S. Dollars in 2006, 364 times over that of ordinary workers. They earn as much money in one day of work as ordinary workers make over the entire year (AFP, January 4, 2008).
The past five years have witnessed relatively strong growth in the U.S. economy, but the fortunes of millions of Americans just get worse. The ratio of American wage expenditure to gross domestic product (GDP) has dropped to the lowest since records began in 1947. The average income of households consisted of members at working age has seen a continuous decline in the past five years, and is 17 percent less than five years ago (U.S. News & World Report, January 1, 2007). According to a national survey on the state of stress in America conducted in September 2007, money and work were the biggest stressors for almost three-quarters of Americans. Of the 1,848 adults polled, 51 percent worried about housing costs. Housing was a "very significant or somewhat significant" source of pressure for 61 percent of the residents in the West and 55 percent those in the East (USA Today, October 24, 2007). According to a latest report by the U.S. government, suicide rate among Americans aged 45-54 rose by about 20 percent from 1999 to 2004, the highest since records began 25 years ago (The Associated Press, December 14, 2007).
Hungry and homeless people have increased significantly in American cities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a report released on November 14, 2007 that 35.52 million Americans, including 12.63 million children, went hungry in 2006, an increase of 390,000 from 2005. About 11 million people lived in "very low food security" (Over 30 Million Americans Faced Hunger in 2006, Reuters, November 15, 2007). Results of the 2007 Hunger and Homelessness Survey released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed that 16 of the 23 polled cities reported increased requests for emergency food assistance. Among 15 cities that provided data, the average increase was 12 percent. Detroit reported an increase of 35 percent. In 13 survey cities, 15 percent of households with children were not receiving emergency food assistance they requested. In 20 survey cities, 193,183 people applied for emergency shelter or transitional housing. The number of residents applying for government rent subsidies surged by 30 percent in Baltimore County in 2007 (More Seeking U.S. Rent Subsidy, The Baltimore Sun, December 17, 2007). It is estimated that 750,000 people are homeless on any given day in the United States (Care Critical for Homeless, The Washington Post, October 22, 2007). Los Angeles County has more than 73,000 homeless people (Dying Without Dignity: Homeless Deaths in Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, December 27, 2007). Phoenix has 7,000 to 10,000 homeless people and another 3,000 who were not sheltered by the government (Rebellion, Spain, January 2, 2008). New Orleans has 12,000 homeless people (Katrina's Wrath Lingers for New Orleans Poor, USA Today, December 13, 2007). California has about 50,000 veterans living in streets (Sing Tao Daily San Francisco Edition, November 8, 2007). Health conditions of the homeless are worrying. Research shows one-third to half of the homeless have a chronic illness. The life expectancy for a homeless person ranges between 42 and 52 years (Care Critical for Homeless, The Washington Post, October 22, 2007). Among sexual offenders in many American cities, the homeless account for a high proportion. In Boston, nearly two-thirds of 136 high-risk sex offenders lack permanent addresses. In New York City, more than 100 sex offenders are registered at two homeless shelters (Many Sex Offenders Are Often Homeless, USA Today, November 19, 2007).
People without health insurance have been increasing in the United States. A Reuters report on September 20, 2007 quoted the U.S. Census Bureau as saying that 47 million people in the United States were not covered by health insurance. A U.S. family organization said nearly 90 million people below the age of 65 were not covered by health insurance at one point or throughout the period from 2006 to 2007. The number accounted for 34.7 percent of the population falling in that age (Reuters, September 20, 2007). More than 10 million young people age 19-29 were not covered either (Reuters, August 8, 2007). In Texas, the rate of uninsured people is 23.8 percent. In Arizona it is 20.6 percent. Florida 19.7 percent and Georgia 19 percent (Ming Pao San Francisco Edition, June 26, 2007). In 2006, health insurance premiums rose 7.7 percent from a year ago, hitting 11,480 U.S. dollars for a typical U.S. family plan offered by employers. The percentage of people covered by job-based health insurance fell 0.3 percentage points to 59.7 percent (Census: Health Benefits Scarcer, USA Today, August 28, 2007). Meanwhile, the number of people whose household incomes were above the poverty line but were unable to afford medical services rose from 4.2 percent of the total population in 1998 to 5.8 percent in 2006 (Ming Pao San Francisco Edition, June 26, 2007).
V. On Racial Discrimination
Racial discrimination is a deep-rooted social illness in the United States.
Black people and other minor ethnic groups live in the bottom of the American society. According to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau in August 2007, median income of black households was 31,969 U.S. dollars in 2006, or 61 percent of that for non-Hispanic white households. Median income for Hispanic households stood at 37,781 U.S. dollars, 72 percent of that for non-Hispanic white households. The rates of blacks and Hispanics living in poverty and without health insurance are much higher than non-Hispanic whites. Poverty rate for blacks was 24.3 percent in 2006, while that for non-Hispanic Whites was 8.2 percent. The rate for Hispanics was 20.6 percent. In 2006, the percentage of blacks without health insurance rose to 20.5 percent, from 19 percent in 2005. The number and rate of uninsured Hispanics increased to 15.3 million and 34.1 percent, respectively. The rate was 10.8 percent for whites (Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006, see Census Bureau website: www.census.gov). The prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS and other diseases are higher among blacks and Hispanics than among non-Hispanic whites. According to a Washington Post report, 80.7 percent of the 3,269 HIV/AIDS cases identified between 2001 and 2006 were among Blacks (Study Calls HIV in DC. A "Modern Epidemic", The Washington Post, November 26, 2007). The possibility for blacks to be infected of HIV/AIDS was seven times higher than that of whites (National Urban League: The State of Black America 2007,www.nul.org). A report issued by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank on minorities studies, indicated that white households that have reported higher social and economic status were twice that of black households, while black households that have reported lower income were twice that of white households (Washington Observer Weekly, November 30, 2006).
Ethnic minorities have been subject to racial discrimination in employment and workplace. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in November 2007, the unemployment rate for Black Americans was 8.4 percent, twice that of non-Hispanic whites (4.2 percent). The unemployment rate for Hispanics was 5.7 percent. The jobless rates among blacks and Hispanics were much higher than that for non-Hispanic whites (The Employment Situation: November 2007, issued by the U.S. Department of Labor on December 7, 2007, see www.bls.gov). A poll conducted in 2007 by the Pew Research Center shows that 67 percent of black respondents believe that blacks still face discrimination when applying for a job (As Black Middle Class Rises, Underclass Falls Still Further, The Baltimore Sun, December 3, 2007). According to statistics issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, among the 75,768 charges it received in 2006, 27,328, or 35.9 percent of the total, were related to racial discrimination (Charges Statistics FY 1997 Through FY 2006, www.eeoc.gov/stats/charges.html). In 2007, U.S. sports wear company Nike reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit, in which four former black employees of Nike's Chicago Niketown store filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company, on behalf of the 400 current black employees, accusing a Niketown manager of using racial slurs to refer to black workers and customers, segregating them into low-pay jobs, making unfounded accusations of theft against black workers and directing store security to watch black employees and customers (ABC News, July 31, 2007). In March 2007, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Walgreen, the largest drugstore chain in the United States, alleging widespread racial bias against thousands of black employees. The company was accused of making decisions about employee assignment and promotion based on race (CBS, http://cbs2chicago.com).
There is serious racial discrimination in the education sector of the United States. According to a media report, public schools tend to take tougher discipline sanctions on black students, and the rate of black students disciplined is much higher than that of white students. In New Jersey, African-American students are almost 60 times as likely as white students to be expelled for serious disciplinary infractions. In Minnesota, black students are suspended six times as often as whites. In Iowa, blacks make up just five percent of the total students in public schools, but account for 22 percent of those who get suspended (Chicago Tribune, September 25, 2007). On August 2, 2006, a black student at the Jena High School in Louisiana asked a school administrator if Blacks could sit under a tree that was traditionally reserved for the whites. He received a positive reply. But three white students hung nooses -- the notorious symbol of lynching in the racist south -- from the tree's branches the following day (The Associated Press, Jena, Louisiana State, September 20, 2007). According to a New York Times report on October 23, 2007, the black principal of a Brooklyn high school received a noose along with a letter containing racist words like "white power forever". A noose was also hung on the office door of a black professor in Columbia University. Macalester College, Trinity College and Whitman College all reported incidents in which students showed up at parties in racially offensive costumes. At one party in Macalester College, a student wore a blackface with a noose around his neck (The Associated Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota, February 11,2007). Nazi symbol swastika was also found on the campus of the Columbia University in 2007, apparently targeting American Jews, according to a report by the World Daily.
Racial discrimination in the U.S. judicial system is shocking. According to the 2007 annual report on the state of black America issued by the National Urban League (NUL), African Americans (especially males) are more likely than whites to be convicted and sentenced to longer terms. Blacks are seven times more likely than whites to be incarcerated (National Urban League: The State of Black America 2007, www.nul.org). Blacks are 10 times as likely to be imprisoned for drug offences as whites, even though both groups use and sell drugs at the same rate (Study Finds Racial Divide Across U.S. in Drug Arrests, The Washington Post, December 5, 2007). Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that as at yearend 2006, 815 of every 100,000 blacks were behind the bars. The rate was 283 per 100,000 for Hispanics and 170 for whites. Figures released by the U.S. Department of Justice in December 2007 shows that as at yearend 2006, there were 560,000 blacks in state and federal prisons, accounting for 37.5 percent of the total. Hispanics and Latinos totaled 308,000, accounting for 20.5 percent. Black men had an incarceration rate of 3,042 per 100,000, six times over that for the entire U.S. population (501 per 100,000). The incarceration rate for Hispanics was 1,261 per 100,000. Nearly eight percent of black men aged 30 to 34 were incarcerated as sentenced prisoners, compared with only 1.2 percent for white men of the same age group (Prisoners in 2006, issued by the U.S. Department of Justice on December 5, 2007, see www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs). In the United States, the percentage for young people serving life sentence is quite different for groups of different colors. The rate for young blacks sentenced to life imprisonment without parole was 10 times as young whites. It was 20 times in California (Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2007).
American justice system practices double standards on blacks and whites. The Associated Press reported that in the "Jena Six" case, six black youths were arrested for beating a white classmate and five of them were indicted on charges of attempted murder, which aroused a 2,000-student protest in the town which has merely 3,000 residents (The Associated Press, Jena, Louisiana on September 20, 2007). Meanwhile, the two women teachers accused of having sex with six black male students were released on bail (The Associated Press, March 28, 2007).
In the United States, minorities are the main victims of hate and violent crimes and murders. According to a FBI report published in November 2007, there were 7,722 hate crimes in the country in 2006, up eight percent. Among them, 51.8 percent were motivated by racial bias. Hate crimes against Muslims increased 22 percent. Hate crimes against Hispanics went up 10 percent (FBI: Hate Crimes Escalate 8% in 2006, USA Today, November 20, 2007). In New York City, hate crimes increased by 20.9 percent year-on-year in 2007. Of the 512 hate crimes that occurred in Los Angeles County in 2006, 68 percent were caused by racial problems (The China Press, June 8, 2007). According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in August 2007, Blacks account for 13 percent of the U.S. population, but were victims in 15 percent of all nonfatal violent crimes and 49 percent of all homicides in 2005 (Black Victims of Violent Crime, http://www.ojb.usdoj.gov/bjs).
VI. On the Rights of Women and Children
The conditions of women and children in the United States are worrisome.
Women account for 51 percent of the U.S. population, but there are only 86 women serving in the 110th U.S. Congress. Women hold 16, or 16 percent of the 100 seats in the Senate and 70, or 16.1 percent of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. In December 2007, there were 76 women serving in statewide elective executive offices, accounting for 24.1 percent of the total. The proportion of women in state legislature is 23.5 percent. As of September 2007, of the 1,145 mayors of U.S. cities with populations over 30,000, 185, or 16.2 percent, were women (Women Serving in the 110th Congress 2007-09. Center For American Women and Politics, www.cawp.rutgers.edu ).
The poverty rate of women is higher. Statistics show that at the year end of 2006, more than 5.58 million single women above the age of 18 were living in poverty, accounting for 22.2 percent of women in that group. Some 4.1 million, or 28.3 percent of female-householder-with-no-husband-present families were living in poverty in 2006, much higher than the national family poverty rate of 9.8 percent (Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau). Colored women are more likely to fall prey to poverty and misery. A report issued by the American Center for Reproductive Rights shows the maternal death rate of the United States ranks the 30th in the world. The maternal death rate for black women is four times that of white women. The proportion of black women infected with AIDS and venereal diseases is 23 times and 18 times that of white women, respectively. Among all the impoverished women in America, African, Hispanic, Indian and Asian women account for 27 percent, 26 percent, 21 percent and 13 percent, respectively, compared to nine percent for white women.
Women are frequently victims of sexual harassment at their workplaces and military barracks. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it received 12,025 charges on sexual harassment in 2006, 84.6 percent of which were filed by women (Sexual Harassment Charges EEOC & FEPAs Combined: FY 1997-FY 2006, see www.eeoc.gov). The National Organization for Women said every year approximately 132,000 women reported that they had been victims of rape or attempted rape, and that two to six times that many women were raped, but did not report it. The U.S. department investigating military crimes received about 1,700 sexual harassment charges in 2004, including 1,305 rape charges. A survey by the University of California among 3,000 retired female soldiers shows 25 of them suffer from sequelae of sexual harassment experiences in the barracks (Latin American News Agency, Havana, February 10, 2007). The New York Times said in a report that many American women soldiers stationed in Iraq faced the dual strikes of trauma from sexual abuses by their own ranks and that from enemy fire in the battle field. Suzanne Swift was repeatedly sexually harassed and abused by her chain of commanders. As she tried to charge them, she received an order for redeployment together with the perpetrators (Latin American News Agency, Havana, February 10, 2007). Maricela Guzman was attacked and raped while on night watch duty during her Navy boot camp training. She tried to report the incident for four times, but no one paid attention, and the command even ordered her to do push-ups as punishment for her wrongfully treating the boss (Latin American News Agency, Havana, February 10, 2007). Abbie Pickett was just 19 years old when she was sexually assaulted during a humanitarian deployment to Nicaragua. She said she was too afraid to report the incident then because the perpetrator was an officer who ranked above her (New York Times, March 18, 2007).
The living conditions of American children are of great concern. Houston Chronicle reported that a survey by the United Nations on 21 rich countries showed that though the United States was among the world's richest nations, it ranked only the 20th in the overall well-being of children. In the dimension of health and security, the United States was at the very bottom of the ranking. Statistics show that by the end of 2006, there were 12.8 million children under the age of 18 living in poverty in the United States, accounting for 17.4 percent of the country's children population. Children account for 35.2 percent of the impoverished population in the United States. The rate of impoverished children in female households with no husbands present is as high as 42.1 percent (Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006, issued by the U.S. Census Bureau in August 2007, see www.census.gov). More children are doing without medical insurance. By the end of 2006, some 8.7 million children under the age of 18 had no medical insurance in the United States, up by 11.7 percent from 2005. The rate of children without medical insurance reached 19.3 percent (Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau). More children are becoming homeless. According to a survey on hunger and homelessness in 23 American cities released in December 2007 by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, members of households with children made up 23 percent of the population who took up emergency shelter in 2007. Requests for emergency shelter from households with children increased in 10 cities (Mayors Examine Causes of Hunger, Homelessness, press release by the U.S. Conference of Mayors on December 17, 2007, www.usmayors.org). According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the infant mortality rate of the United State was seven in a thousand in 2004, and the mortality rate of black infants was 2.5 times that of whites (The Associated Press, November 10, 2007). The infant survival rate of the United States is lagging far behind other developed nations. A bill that would have expanded government-provided health insurance for children was vetoed by President George W. Bush in 2007 though 72 percent of the public supported the bill (Bush Vetoes Kids Health Insurance Bill, The Washington Post, December 13, 2007).
American juveniles are ill-treated at boot camps. A report mandated by Congress said thousands of teenagers suffered terrible abuses at boot camps, some even lost their lives. Governmental investigator said boot camp abuses took many forms, including youth being forced to eat their own vomit, denied adequate food, being forced to lie in urine or feces, being kicked or beaten. A boy was forced to clean a toilet with his toothbrush and then brush his own teeth with it. Journal left by 16-year-old Aaron Bacon, who died from an untreated perforated ulcer, shows that he spent 14 of 20 days without any food but was forced to hike 13 to 16 kilometers everyday. When he was given food, it consisted of undercooked lentils, lizards and scorpions. His father said that he had been beaten from head to toes during his month at the camp. Martin Lee Anderson, 14, died in a boot camp after guards choked him and forced him to inhale ammonia fumes (The Times, October 12,2007).
American children are not properly protected by the justice system. The United States is one of the few countries in the world that sentence children to death, and some states still have no age limit for death penalty. It sentences more children to life imprisonment than any other country. A joint research by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International shows that some 9,400 minors were imprisoned in the United States in 2005, including 2,225 who were sentenced to life imprisonment. Sixteen percent of them were in the age of 13 to 15 (Spain, Rebellion, April 27, 2007). There are currently 2,387 teenagers sentenced to life term without parole (Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2007). In California there are 227 teenagers serving life sentences without parole. The figure for Pennsylvania is 433. Teenage criminals often receive the same punishments as adults do. The Washington Post said it was roughly estimated that about 200,000 teenage defendants were sent directly or transferred to the adult system, known as criminal court. About 7,500 juveniles are held in adult jails on any given day (States Rethink Charging Kids as Adults, The Washington Post, December 2, 2007). Colored children and those from impoverished families are more likely to suffer fate of this kind. The Suffolk University Juvenile Justice Center said in 2000 that African American children, though only accounting for 15 percent of the total children population in the United States, made up 46 percent of the inmates in American jails, and 52 percent of them were sentenced in criminal court. The number of imprisoned black children is five times that of whites. The number of imprisoned Latino and aboriginal teenagers is 2.5 times that of whites (Rebellion, April 27, 2007). Many children of six and seven are treated as criminals for trivial misdoings. It is reported that the 7-year-old Gerard Mungo Jr. was arrested for sitting on a motorcycle in front of his home. The reason of the arrestment was that that kind of motorcycles was prohibited in the city. He was handcuffed to a chair for two hours (Rebellion, April 27, 2007). In Florida more than 4,500 children under 11 were charged for crimes. A six-year-old girl Desre'e Watson was arrested and charged for attacking a teacher, disrupting school function and resisting school guards (Rebellion, April 27, 2007).
VII. On the Violation of Human Rights in Other Countries
The United States has a notorious record of trampling on the sovereignty of and violating human rights in other countries.
The invasion of Iraq by American troops has produced the biggest human rights tragedy and the greatest humanitarian disaster in modern world. It was reported that since the invasion in 2003, 660,000 Iraqis have died, of which 99 percent were civilians. That translates into a daily toll of 450. According to the Los Angeles Times, the number of civilian deaths in Iraq has exceeded one million. A report from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) revealed that about one million Iraqis were homeless, half of whom were children. There were 75,000 children living in refugee camps or makeshift shelters. About 760,000 pupils could not go to school. According to media report, guards of Blackwater, a security service company with State Department background, shot dead 17 Iraqis for no reason on September 16, 2007, and it was given immunity by the State Department (The China Press, October 31, 2007). Investigation by the Iraqi government found that Blackwater guards had killed 21 Iraqis and injured 27 others before that. State Department investigation showed that Blackwater was involved in 56 shooting cases in Iraq in 2007. A U.S. Congress report said the company was involved in nearly 200 shooting cases in Iraq since 2005, and 84 percent of them were random shooting. The Associated Press reported that an Apache gunship opened fired on October 23, 2007 at a group of people suspected of planting roadside bombs near Samarra in north Baghdad, killing at least 11 people, including 6 Iraqi civilians. But local police and eyewitnesses said the number of civilians killed was 14 (The Associated Press, Baghdad, October 23, 2007). Commanders of the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment made a baiting program to kill more insurgents, in which weapons were dropped as a bait, and if someone picked them up, the snipers would shot them. Many Iraqi civilians were killed in this way (Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2007; Washington Post, September 24, 2007).
U.S. troops have killed many innocent civilians in the anti-terrorism war in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reported on May 3, 2007 that as many as 51 civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers in one week (Karzai Says Civilian Toll is No Longer Acceptable, The Washington Post, May 3, 2007). An Afghan human rights group said in a report that U.S. marine unit fired indiscriminately at pedestrians, people in cars, buses and taxis along a 10-mile stretch of road in Nangahar province on March 4, 2007, killing 12 civilians, including one infant and three elders (New York Times, April 15, 2007).
The United States has many secret jails across the world, where prisoners were treated inhumanely. "Secret prison" and "torturing prisoners" have become synonymous with America. In May 2007, the UN special rapporteur on the protection of human right while countering terrorism said after his visit to the a United States that the latter has detained 700 people in Afghanistan and 18,000 in Iraq for reasons related to the fight against terrorism. The special rapporteur expressed his concern over the conditions of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and other secret detention facilities, the lack of justice protection and access to fair trial for terrorist suspects, as well as the rendition of suspects. He also expressed his disappointment that the U.S. government had refused to allow him to visit Guantanamo Bay and other places of secret detention (Preliminary Findings on Visit to United States by Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-terrorism, May 29, 2007, www.unog.ch). In addition to Guantanamo Bay where prisoners were subject to gruesome tortures, the United States also ran secret facilities in Jordan and Ethiopia, where detainees were brutally treated. Washington Post reported on December 1, 2007 that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been running a secret jail on the outskirts of Jordan capital Amman since 2000, where many non-Jordanian terrorism suspects had been detained and interrogated with severe abuse (Jordan's Spy Agency: Holding Cell for the CIA, Washington Post, December 1, 2007). According to media reports, CIA detained hundreds of AL-Qaeda suspects in a secret location in Ethiopia. The detainees came from 19 countries and included women and children as young as seven months. They were illegally deported to Ethiopia where they were held in horrific conditions in crowded jails, with a dozen detainees sharing a single 10 feet by 10 feet cell. There was little food, and abuse and torture were commonplace (The Daily Telegraph, April 5, 2007; The Associated Press, Nairobi, April 5, 2007). The Washington Times reported on December 14, 2007 that CIA often tortured detained terrorist suspects by using waterboarding and mock execution (House Approves Ban on CIA Waterboarding, The Washington Times, December 14, 2007). The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) described in a report how waterboarding is done: the prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt. The New York Times said in a report on December 7, 2007 that CIA in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al-Qaeda operatives in 2002 in the agency's custody (CIA Destroyed 2 Tapes Showing Interrogations, The New York Times, December 7, 2007). It was widely believed that CIA was trying to destroy evidences of the existence of its secret detention program. Women prisoners were often subject to humiliation in Iraq. Reports said many of them became victims of Iraqi police and the occupying forces. Iraqis said there had never been so many rapes and atrocities against women in any war since the Middle Ages as witnessed in the Iraqi war (Rebellion, May 5, 2007).
The United States has always adopted double standards on human rights issues. It frequently exerts pressure on other countries to invite the UN special rapporteur to exam and report on the status of their human rights status, but itself has never done so. The United States requests others to obey the UN norms that allow special rapporteurs to visit any place and talk with any one without interference or surveillance, but itself has rejected such norms and has turned down the request for a joint visit to the military base at Guantanamo Bay from several special rapporteurs.
The United States has to date refused to acknowledge the right to development as part of the human rights. Although it signed the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1977, the United States has not yet ratified the convention. The United States claims that it attaches importance to the protection of the rights of women and children, but it has not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 27 years after signing on the convention. The United States is one of the seven U.N. members that have not ratified the convention. The United States has not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child 12 years after signing on it, though 193 countries have already done so. Since March 2007, the Convention on Rights of Disabled Persons has been open for signature and many countries adopt active attitude towards the convention. By the end of December 2007, 118 countries had signed the convention and seven ratified it, but the U.S. has not yet signed nor ratified it.
To respect and safeguard human rights is an important achievement in the progressing of the human society and an important symbol of modern civilization. It is also a common goal of people of all countries and races and a key theme of the tide of progress in our time. All the countries have the obligation to make efforts to promote and protect human rights in their own territories, and to promote international cooperation in accordance with the norms of international relations. No country in the world should view itself as the incarnation of human rights, and use human rights as a tool to interfere in affairs of and exert pressure on other countries and realize its own strategic interests. The United States reigns over other countries and releases Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year. Its arrogant critique on the human rights of other countries are always accompanied by a deliberate ignoring of serious human rights problems on its own territory. This was not only inconsistent with universally recognized norms of international relations, but also exposed the double standards and downright hypocrisy of the United States on the human rights issue, and inevitably impaired its international image.
We hereby advise the U.S. government to face its own human rights problems and give up the unwise practices of applying double standards on human rights issues.