Human Rights Watch: A commentator that has lost credibility

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 5, 2015
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A new year has arrived and people around the world are filled with fresh expectations. However, self-styled American observers and commentators grouped under the so-called NGO Human Rights Watch have, once again, published an annual World Report on Human Rights.

Predictably, the report finds faults in the human rights situation in countries and regions including China.

The Chinese expression: "To hoodwink the world as a squid discharges black ink", perfectly summarizes the HRW report.


HRW has been embroiled in numerous scandals since it was established;including the source of its funding; its choice of staff appointments; and its biased and politicized work style. Last year, it was subject to its severest bout of skepticism and criticism.

On May 12th, a letter of protest entitled "Close Your Revolving Door to the U.S. Government" was sent to HRW on behalf of Nobel Peace Laureates Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Mairead Corrigan Maguire, and another 129 signatories.

The letter criticized HRW's close and complicated ties to the U.S. government. It drew attention to the fact that HRW's "watch" was weighed in favor of the U.S. government. Exposing that its criteria and judgement of other countries's human rights situations was usually consistent with the foreign policies and interests of the U.S. government.

Former HRW Washington advocacy director Tom Malinowski, the letter pointed out, had previously served as a special assistant to president Bill Clinton and was now assistant secretary of state; and Susan Manilow, vice chair of the board of directors, wrote in her biography that she was a longtime friend of Bill Clinton and was highly involved in his political party.

In addition, the current HRW Americas advisory committee includes Myles Frechette, a former U.S. ambassador to Colombia; and Miguel Diaz, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst sat on the advisory committee from 2003-11 and now serves at the State Department as "an interlocutor between the intelligence community and non-government experts".

Thus, it is not hard to see why these so-called "watch" is selective and reeks of double standards.

In February 2013, HRW described Syria's use of missiles in its civil war as "unlawful". However, the letter pointed out, HRW remained silent on the clear violation of international law constituted by the U.S. threat of missile strikes on Syria in August.

Feeling the pressure, on June 3 HRW executive director Kenneth Roth published a response on the HRW website. Although Roth admitted that staff on the board of directors and advisory committee also held U.S. government posts, he claimed that HRW was cautious that the past affiliations of its staff did not affect its internal work. His explanation and rhetoric, however, were weak.

On July 8, Maguire and Esquivel responded. They joined fellow signatories Richard Falk (United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories) and Hans von Sponeck (former UN assistant secretary-general) in demanding that their proposals be taken seriously.

They collectively stood behind the notion that "a former official of the Central Intelligence Agency -- one of the world' s greatest institutional human rights violators of the past half-century --has no standing to advise on human rights issues for your organization".

As a military superpower, the U.S. has repeatedly violated international laws and carried out military actions, threatening world peace. However, HRW does not criticize the U.S. government in this regard. Neither does the HRW care to disguise its close ties to the U.S. HRW is in fact a very politicized institution.

With its true nature exposed, HRW has been disgraced and lost credibility.


HRW was founded in 1978 under the name Helsinki Watch, to monitor the former Soviet Union's compliance to the Helsinki Accords. Known as "The Watch Committees", the organization later expanded its reach to cover other regions of the world. In 1998, all these committees united under the banner of Human Rights Watch. With its advocacy of issues such as banning the military use of children and anti-personnel mines, HRW succeeded in reaping some political capital.

However, with either ostensible or hidden support from the U.S. government and capital, with political strings attached, HRW's agenda is more about putting pressure on the rest of the world using the discourse hegemony of western countries in the human rights field.

Without legal authorization, enough staff and ability, HRW, a so-called NGO, has acted like a human rights defender and human rights judge. It passed judgement on the human rights conditions of other countries and dished out criticism as it liked.

Despite difficulties like the global financial crisis, China, a developing country with a huge population, has impressed the world with its economic and social development achievements. The Chinese people have continuously benefited from reform and the opening up policy. Continuous progress has been made in China' s human rights cause, indicating a development trend full of youthful spirit.

Working for the Chinese Dream of a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the whole country has deepened reforms, comprehensively implemented the rule of law and practiced the socialist core values to ensure the public feel fairness and justice. Granted, thee human rights cause has faced challenges, but notable progress has been made.

Ignoring all the achievements China has made, however, HRW has habitually thrown mud at China, making a mountain of molehill, caused a furor using unrelated pretext, made broad generalizations with partial knowledge or the total denial of China's progress. In the eyes of the HRW, China is always in the wrong.

When China cracked down on terrorist forces or violent crimes, HRW claimed that China failed to protect the rights of its minorities. With such an assertion, HRW is aligning itself with the terrorists. When China's National People's Congress planned the anti-terrorism law, HRW quickly concluded that the draft was a "menu" of human rights violations. HRW seemed to be suffering selective amnesia regarding the behavior of the U.S. government, to which it has close ties, as its anti-terrorism initiatives show the U.S. to be the real and notorious human rights violator.

For China, the development path is not free from obstacles, setbacks or challenges. Similarly, human rights progress in China needs continuous negotiation and is fraught with difficulties and problems.

China has never been so naive to assert that it is perfect. In the same breath, there is no need for Human Rights Watch -- the "human rights defender" or "observer" -- with its ulterior motives and questionable credibility, to make noises every year. Endi

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