PRESS RELEASE: UK – IHRC Chairman: HR community must resist US’s political exploitation of HR issues

Islamic Human Rights Commission
30 September 2010

PRESS RELEASE: UK – IHRC Chairman: World HR community must resist the US’s hypocritical political exploitation of HR issues

Massoud Shadjareh, the Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), has criticised the US for claiming that its latest sanctions against Iran are motivated by concern for the human rights of Iranian citizens.
In a statement on 29 September, the Obama administration announced sanctions against eight Iranian officials, saying that they had been responsible for “sustained and severe violations of human rights.” 
The statement also said: “As the president noted in his recent address to the UN General Assembly, human rights are a matter of moral and pragmatic necessity for the United States.”
Shadjareh, however, has called on both the HR community and the media to treat such claims with scepticism, calling them “hypocritical,” “self-serving” and “politically motivated”. He particularly warned the HR community against allowing its agendas and priorities to be set by the interests of “one of the world’s greatest abusers of human rights.”  
Shadjareh said:
“For the US to pose as a champion of human rights is hypocritical and self-serving, and should be reported as such by all responsible media and human rights organizations.
“Examples of the US’s abuses of the human rights of critics and opponents around the world are too numerous to list.  It is well established that behind the well-known examples of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram is a network of secret prisons into which numerous people have disappeared, beyond the reach of any legal protection, and subjected to appalling torture.  
“The realities of extraordinary rendition, by which people have been seized off the streets, illegally transported across the world, and vanish never to be heard of again, are also well-known.
“The US also openly boasts of its extrajudicial assassination of opponents, not least through the use of drones in places like Pakistan and Yemen.  These often also kill dozens of other people, men, women and children, in the process – people whose human rights apparently do not include the right to life.  
“Then of course there is the US’s support of numerous authoritarian and dictatorial regimes across the world which are notorious for their oppression of any political dissent, but are regarded as valuable allies of the West, such as Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.  Any prospect of their officials being subjected to US sanctions?  
“The US’s closest ally is, of course, Israel, which has been brutally oppressing the Palestinians in the territories it illegally occupies for nearly half a century; is currently imposing an economic blockade against Gaza which is clearly illegal under international law and earlier this year killed 9 humanitarian workers on a civilian aid ship international waters.  All evidently without raising any concerns about human rights in Washington.
“And all that is without even raising the issue of US foreign policy in terms of Iraq, Afghanistan and so on.  These conflicts have been characterised by atrocities for which few if any soldiers or officials have been held accountable. Certainly the commanders and policy-makers responsible have never had their assets frozen or been banned from travelling anywhere.
“The fact is that the US is itself one of the world’s greatest abusers of human rights, thanks to its status as the world’s dominant superpower.  It should not be allowed to get away with using the issue of human rights to attack its political opponents without its own record being raised by objective commentators and HR activists.  It is not acceptable that all the US’s own abuses can somehow be black-boxed as aberrations, while it is allowed to pose as a champion of the human rights of people around the world.
“Secretary of State Hilary Clinton describes the use of the human rights issue as a ‘new tool’ in US foreign policy.  HR activists and organizations must be very cautious of allowing themselves to become tools of the US for use against its opponents. Activists and organizations cannot afford to let their agendas to be tied to American foreign policy priroties if their own credibility is to be maintained.””
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The Islamic Human Rights Commission is an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

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