Robert Rhodes, a United States Homeland Security inspector, was charged on Friday with violating a Chinese tourist's civil rights following the vicious beating of Zhao Yan, a 37-year-old businesswoman from Tianjin.
The incident occurred late Wednesday at the US-Canadian border at Niagara Falls, after US Customs and Border Protection officers confiscated marijuana from a male pedestrian.
Rhodes pepper-sprayed and repeatedly struck Zhao after confusing her with suspected drug smugglers.
Zhao said she told the officers she had legal documents, including a passport and visa, but they did not stop beating her.
After she managed to display the documents she was told "it is a misunderstanding."
Such an explanation is far from adequate.
According to a supervisor's affidavit, subsequent investigation revealed the victim had nothing to do with the marijuana smuggling but was merely a tourist who happened to be in the vicinity.
The beating left the innocent woman's eyes nearly swollen shut and bumps and bruises on her face and head.
A swift and thorough investigation must be launched to bring the culprits to justice.
The world knows the US propensity for pointing fingers at others in human rights protections. But who is the real threat after all?
Under the banner of anti-terrorism, the United States has given its army free rein to arrest or imprison any suspected terrorists or those suspected of having connections to terrorists.
Its condemnation-provoking actions range from its invasion of Iraq without any convincing excuse to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison.
The logic is reminiscent and representative of US arrogance on the world stage.
The Americans can kill anyone they think is a potential threat to their precious lives, or beat an innocent woman half to death on the flimsiest of excuses.
Taking advantage of the prevailing sense of fear they have cultivated at home, the US security apparatus has become even more bellicose in law enforcement.
Zhao said the barbarity she suffered went beyond her imagination. But she experienced it in the home of the world's most zealous preachers of "human rights."
It remains unknown if Zhao's suffering had anything to do with her skin color. US police brutality against non-white citizens is not unusual in the country.
Whether or not the officers were aware of Zhao's status as a foreign national, their conduct was criminally inhuman.
Together with their commanders in Washington, they are painting a shameful image of their country.
(China Daily July 27, 2004)