Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Human Rights Commission Risks Irrelevancy

I doubt that many people even know that the 60th Session of the Human Rights Commission has been taking palce the past few weeks in Geneva, Switzerland. Those that have, likely are aware because they heard about the only issue (of hundreds) being discussed there has been publicized in the US media - the recent 21-20 (relatively weak) vote to censure Cuba on its human rights record.

The US views the annual attempts at passing anti-Cuba resultions in the Commission of utmost importance. Leaders throughout the world such as Vicente Fox in Mexico received phone calls from Bush or Powell on the Cuba issue before the vote (Mexico caved at the last minute and voted with the US - against its people's will). The US expends such effort in order to justify its immoral and illegal blockade on the island 90 miles from Key West, which the UN has condemned overwhelmingly and repeatedly.

Well Cuba is fighting back this year - ingeniously. It decided to test the real relevancy and even-handedness of the Commission by sponsoring a resolution to simply allow UN investigation into the situation of 600 detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - being held by the US Government for more than 2 years without charge, legal representation and in conditions that have been described by the lucky few who were released as torturous, abusive and humiliating. The US Ambassador to the UN maintains that this ''is not a human rights issue.'' Amensty International, the EU Parliment, the UN High Commissioner, the OAS, Red Cross and nearly every other organization that matters is on the record with opposite opinions. Cuba's decision to bring the matter to the fore is monumental. The issue was ignored in Geneva last year and was ignored until Cuba stepped forwards. This shows you how scared countries are to criticize the major world power in supposed fair international fora. Seeing tomorrow whether the European countries vote with the US or Cuba on the matter will be highly revealing, particularly because their Parliment and many countries have expressed concern at the treatment of their citizens there. However the US is now telling countries that they risk the potential freedom of their citizen's if they vote against the US. You want high drama, here it is??


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