Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Middle East Human Rights

Syrians are furious that their calls for human rights within their own country are being defied by their dictatorial government. More furious yet that government troops are opening fire on protesters. Funeral processions to mourn the death of civilians, of a child, fired upon with live bullets. More deaths, more funerals, more attacks.

President Bashar al-Assad is being informed by the international community that his handling of the situation defies human rights, that he is trampling on the aspirations of his people, that he is violating their rights. He has gone to great lengths to impress upon onlookers that what is occurring is the result of a foreign conspiracy, that it is 'gangs' and 'criminals' and jihadists who are defying his order.

Moammar Gadhafi has infuriated the West and his own Arab neighbours by dispatching his military to destroy the demonstrators and protesters who have assembled themselves into a righteous army determined to unseat him. They also represent 'gangs', 'criminals' and al-Qaeda in origin. And foreign interlopers; the Western crusaders are in league with them.

But for President al-Assad no such labelling as a human-rights violator, no threats of being hauled before the International Criminal Court, no concerted effort to assist the Syrians who scream their defiance of their dictator, shrieking that he should be turning his armed forces against the Golan-Heights-holding Zionists, not Syrians.

Syria, protector and patron of Hamas, whose leader lives in safety in Damascus, and the generously-supporting patron of Hezbollah, both of which terrorist groups are labelled as such by the West, appears to present as the known devil and conceivably tolerable. From the Arab League no condemnations, no intervention, no discussions similar to those taking place with Yemen.

Arab human rights groups, however, have an argument with the Arab League for their support of Syria's candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, set for a May vote. Egyptian, Bahraini, Algerian, Saudi, Yemeni, Syrian, Sudanese and Iraqi NGO groups claim the support of the Arab League "shows flagrant disregard for the feelings and rights of the Syrian people, who have broken the barrier of fear and risen up in revolt".

And so, what else is new? Libya too was on the UN's Human Rights Council. Iran has been lauded for its record on human rights through the Human Rights Council. Simply put, it's business as usual in the Middle East. And at the United Nations. That business represents utter failure in the areas of human rights and entitlements.

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