January 28, 2004

YOU’VE HEARD THIS in the Blogosphere before, but apparently the idea is going mainstream:

The Nobel Peace laureate and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble called human rights organisations a “great curse” yesterday and accused them of complicity in terrorist killings.

“One of the great curses of this world is the human rights industry,” he told the Associated Press news agency at an international conference of terrorism victims in Madrid.

“They justify terrorist acts and end up being complicit in the murder of innocent victims.”

His words drew an angry reaction from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, two of the world’s biggest human rights groups, with about 200,000 members in Britain and more than a million worldwide.

Steve Crawshaw, director of the London office of Human Rights Watch, said:”It is extraordinarily regrettable and disappointing that, above all, a man like that says something like this.”

What’s really regrettable and disappointing is that he has to say something like this. The good news is that he had some impact:

The Madrid conference ended with a declaration which went some way to supporting Mr Trimble.

It said: “We call on NGOs and other civil organisations that stand for the defence of human rights to make a commitment to defend victims of terrorism and to identify terrorist acts for what they are, regardless of their cause or pretext and without striking balances or blurring the distinction between victims and executioners.”

That would be nice.