Wednesday, 10 December 2014


Commentary: A shameful scar in U.S. human rights history


There are probably few other countries in the world as self-righteous and complacent as the United States when it comes to human rights issues, but the Ferguson tragedy is apparently a slap in the face.

Following a grand jury decision on Monday not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson, who shot dead African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, protests and demonstrations have flared up and expanded to scores of cities across the United States.

After the ruling, Barack Obama, the country's first African-American president, called for respect for "the rule of law" in an hour-long speech Monday night.

The tragic incident and the subsequent ruling are characterized as a miscarriage of justice and a violation of human rights.

Besides, the very fact that an incident that happened in a small town more than three month ago has triggered long-standing, widespread public indignation against the country's law enforcement system is strongly demonstrative of some deeply-rooted maladies in the United States, a self-styled human rights defender and judge.

Racial divide remains a chronic disease after civil rights leader Martin Luther King delivered half a century ago the landmark speech "I have a dream" and voiced his aspiration for equal rights of the black people in the country.

In its worst violence in recent times, the acquittal of four white policemen in the beating of a black motorist in 1992 sparked a six-day riot involving thousands of people across the metropolitan area of Los Angeles, leaving as many as 51 people dead.

In history, racial tensions cut deep in the United States. a country that always points its fingers at other countries on the issue.

Today, the scar is obviously far from being fully healed, as a recent survey showed that some 51 percent of Americans do not believe African-Americans could be treated equally with the white people by the law enforcement.

Some might argue that racial differences and conflicts are unavoidable in a "melting pot" like the United States, where people come from virtually every corner of the world.

But it is undeniable that racial discrimination against African Americans or other ethnic minorities, though not as obvious as in the past, still persists in every aspect of the U.S. social lives, including employment, housing, education, and particularly, justice.

The death of Brown should serve as a stark reminder for Uncle Sam that there are a lot of human rights violations in its own soil and that it should first fix its own problems before criticizing other countries.

It is highly advisable that all countries, including the United States, enhance communication and cooperation on human rights issues and learn from each other's experiences and lessons to make improvement rather than point fingers at others.

China Voice: U.S. should clean up its own human rights issues

BEIJING, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- As Human Rights Day approaches, high-profile cases of violations within American borders and by its agencies abroad are being scrutinized, especially as it pertains to be a defender of civil liberties globally.

United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Nov. 25 urged the U.S. to examine race-related issues in its law enforcement and justice systems following a controversial ruling on the shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

On Nov. 24, a grand jury did not indict caucasian Darren Wilson, a former police officer, who shot dead Michael Brown in August in Ferguson, Missouri. The decision led to protests and rioting in the small town and more than 170 U.S. cities followed suit, dividing the nation.

Cases of unfair and biased policing of minorities in the U.S. are not new, further fueling the nationwide protests.

Besides its deeply-rooted racism, the surveillance scandal -- which targeted its own citizens as well as leaders of other countries -- and attacks on foreign soil in its anti-terror campaigns -- resulting in heavy civilian casualties -- have also drawn international concern.

A congressional report detailing measures of torture allegedly used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on al-Qaida detainees during interrogation, expected to be released soon, has also added fuel to the hot disputes.

America is neither a suitable role model nor a qualified judge on human rights issues in other countries, as it pertains to be.

Yet, despite this, people rarely hear the U.S. talking about its own problems, preferring to be vocal on the issues it sees in other countries, including China.

As a developing country, China is in the process of ensuring its citizens have access to the constitutional and social rights to ensure development. Part of this developmental process is the acknowledgement and understanding of its own human rights issues.

A white paper on human rights released by the Chinese central government in May 2014 highlighted enhanced social fairness, justice and freedom of speech, along with raised living standards, improved social security system and further strengthened democracy and legal system.

The report noted that development across the country was unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable, and that greater efforts were needed to bring higher standards to human rights protection.

In response to the uproar following the Furguson case, the U.S. Federal Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation and President Barack Obama pledged more police funding to ensure officers were equipped with uniform-mounted cameras.

However, many protesters believe these moves to be mere lip service, as they fail to fully address what is a widespread problem.

The U.S. calls for patience from its citizens, runs counter to what it demands from other nations.

China is open to dialogues and exchanges with other countries over its human rights issues and welcomes friendly advice and suggestions. However, should a country adopt double standards, being "loose" domestically and "strict" abroad, its contrasting principles could be taken as a disregard for human rights.

What the U.S. appears to be doing is defending its own national interests and wielding human rights issues as a political tool.

The Untied Nations General Assembly declared Dec. 10 to be Human Rights Day in 1950, the day on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted.

The day continues to be commemorated as, globally, the worldwide human rights mission is far from complete.

In light of this, perhaps the U.S. government should clean up its own backyard first and respect the rights of other countries to resolve their issues by themselves.

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