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Iraq Abuse Exposes US Double Standard in Human Rights

Chinese human rights experts Tuesday unanimously condemned the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers, saying that the issue exposed the United States' double standard in human rights and unmasked its true features as a hypocrite rather than a "world human rights guard".


"The mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers was an inevitable outcome of the United States' long-term exertion of hegemony and power politics in the world," said Dong Yunhu, vice chairman and secretary-general of the China Society for Human Rights Studies.


"The United States always pursued a double standard in the human rights sector," he added. "It regarded itself as the incarnation of human rights, often criticizing other countries' human rights 'problems' and forcing other countries to obey international conventions on human rights, while it ignored its own human rights problems and willfully offended international conventions."


Dong pointed out that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers ruined mankind's basic dignity and ruthlessly trampled human rights.


The abuse has severely violated international human rights conventions and international humanitarian laws, such as the universal declaration of human rights, international covenant on civil and political rights, convention against torture and other cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Geneva Convention related to the treatment of prisoners of war.


At the end of April, the American CBS broadcasting network took the lead in exposing a variety of mistreatments of Iraqi prisoners by US forces at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, capital of Iraq. The more than 20 forms of abuse by US soldiers include forcing prisoners to masturbate, to be naked and to build up a "human pyramid", as well as letting dogs bite prisoners.


"This is a new record of US human rights violation," said Gu Chunde, vice director of the Human Rights Research Center under Renmin University of China, adding that it was not an accidental issue, but a reflection of US long-term existing human rights problems.

Gu said sexual harassment and encroachment are common in jails in the United States. A report issued by Human Rights Watch in September 2003 said that one in five male inmates in the country had faced forced sexual contact in custody and one in 10 had been raped. For women inmates, they are subject to sexual assault by jail guards, and one fourth of the women inmates are sexually assaulted in a few jails.


According to a report by the US-based Newsweek magazine, in Afghanistan's US military prisons, the abuse of prisoners led to several deaths two years ago. And when prisoner abuse scandals were exposed at US military prisons in Guantanamo, Cuba in 2002, the US government even declared that they were not necessarily going to follow the Geneva Convention rules.


Tian Jin, a member of the China Society for Human Rights Studies said the United States released a human rights report every year to distort and criticize more than 190 countries' "problems" in human rights sector, while it ignored its own human rights problems. Its double standard in the human rights sector turned out to be very obvious.


On the fact that the US national leaders and military leaders have apologized about the issue and promised to give criminal punishment to those involved soldiers and military officers, Prof. Chen Zhishang commented that "what they did was not enough".


Chen said the fundamental solution to the prisoner abuse scandal is hinged on a fundamental change of US human rights policies. The United States should acknowledge its own problems in the human rights sector and give up its human rights double standard when dealing with international affairs.


(Xinhua News Agency May 12, 2004)

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