Daya Gamage – US Bureau Asian Tribune
Washington, D.C. 09 March (Asiantribune.com): China on Thursday, March 8 released the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2006 closely following the release of the US State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006 on Tuesday.
Released by the State Council Information Office, the Chinese report lists numerous incidents showing the US human rights situation in a bad light and its violation of human rights in other countries.
Asian Tribune made a commitment that it will carry all shades of opinion on human rights situation, the US assessments and counter opinion, and finally a comprehensive submission in these columns ‘Judging the Judge’, to ascertain whether the United States has adhered to internationally accepted standards of human rights practices, the standards the US administration uses as yardsticks to judge the human rights situation in other countries.
The Peoples Republic of China, in the following account, has given a glimpse of human rights situation in the United States.
"As in previous years, the State Department pointed the finger at human rights conditions in more than 190 countries and regions, including China, but avoided touching on the human rights situation in the US," the document says.
By shining a light on the US human rights record, the document aims to "help people have a better understanding of the situation in the US and promote the international cause of human rights."
Relying on its strong military power, the US has blithely trespassed on sovereignty of other countries and violated their human rights, the document says, additionally highlighting the high number of Iraqi civilians killed by the US-led war since 2003.
A survey by Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health places at over 655,000 the number of Iraqis that have died since the war started in March 2003, translating to around 500 unexpected violent deaths per day nationwide, according to a Washington Post report on October 11, 2006.
On November 19, 2005, a US marine unit searched an Iraqi community door-to-door and slaughtered 24 Iraqi civilians after a marine was killed by a roadside bomb in Haditha.
The dead included 76-year-old disabled man, a three-year-old child, and seven women, BBC News reported on November 19, 2006.
The document says the US has repeatedly violated the Geneva Convention in systematically abusing prisoners during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On February 15, 2006, Australia's SBS TV broadcast over 10 pictures and video clips taken at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison which showed among other harrowing scenes: a man's throat having been cut, the left forearm of a detainee left with burns and shrapnel wounds, a blood-stained interrogation room, and a seemingly insane man's body covered with his own feces.
The document further reveals that even in the US, people's life, property and personal security are not secure.
The document quotes a US Justice Department report dated September 10, 2006 that counted 5.2 million violent crimes in the US in 2005, up 2.5 percent from the previous year and the highest number in 15 years.
The statistics for 2006 counted 23 million crimes among people aged age 12 or above and that for every 1,000 persons age 12 or older, there occurred 1 rape or sexual assault, 1 assault with injury, and 3 robberies.
In the US, law enforcement and judiciary forces also commonly breach human rights.
Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government agencies remanded 6,472 individuals in custody and referred them to prosecutors on terrorism-related charges.
However, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University reveals that close to three-quarters of terrorism suspects seized by the US since 2001 have not gone to trial due to a lack of evidence against them.
In 64 percent of the cases, federal prosecutors decided against prosecution, while an additional nine percent were dismissed out of hand or the suspects were found not guilty, according to a report by the AFP on September 4, 2006.
In recent years, American citizens have suffered increasing civil rights infringements, as the US government has ramped up surveillance measures targeted at average Americans since the September 11 attacks.
According to a survey released in December 2006, two-thirds of Americans think the FBI and other federal agencies are intruding on their right to privacy, according to a Washington Post report on December 13, 2006.
The US touts itself as the "beacon of democracy," but the US brand of democracy is one relying on the power of money, the Chinese document says.
In 2004, candidates for the House of Representatives who raised less than US$1 million usually had no chance of victory, the USA Today quoted a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics as saying in a report dated October 29, 2006.
For the Senate, a successful campaign on average cost US$7 million, the USA Today says. For all of 2006, the total amount poured into state campaigns in the US reached close to US$2.4 billion.
Confirming a lack of confidence in their government, 74 percent of respondents to a new Opinion Research poll pronounced the US Congress as being out of touch with average Americans, as CNN reported on October 18, 2006, and 79 percent of those questioned confirmed the too important impact of big business in the administration's decisions.
The Chinese document further takes the US to task for failing to guarantee its people's economic, social and cultural rights.
A report released by the US Census Bureau on August 29, 2006 numbered 37 million people living in poverty in 2005, accounting for 12.6 percent of the total population. The report also places 7.7 million families or one out of every eight Americans living in poverty as of 2005.
"Ethnic minorities are at the bottom of American society," the Chinese report says.
Statistics released by the US Census Bureau in November 2006 show income disparity among ethnic groups as according to the 2005 data, the average yearly household income was US$50,622 for whites, compared with 36,278 for Hispanics and 30,940 for blacks. This placed white people's income as 64 percent higher than for blacks and 40 percent than for Hispanics.
Racial discrimination was also found to be crippling America's law enforcement and judicial systems.
According to National Urban League, of the sentences issued in 12 criminal categories saw black males receive longer sentences than white males.
To explain this disparity, researchers blamed poverty, a lack of opportunities and institutional racism in the criminal justice system as reasons for the gap.
The document accuses the US of strutting by lecturing other countries by condemning their human rights practices while ignoring its own problems, showing double-standards by the US in terms of human rights.
By publishing the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2006, the document says it aims to "help the world people have a better understanding of the situation in the US and promote the international cause of human rights." (Source: Xinhua News Agency)
- Asian Tribune -
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