UN Commissioner Calls Out U.S. Among Dozens of Human-Rights Abusers Over DACA, 'Weaponized' Free Speech
In a lengthy human rights address that warned of the world growing "darker and more dangerous," a United Nations high commissioner included the United States in a list of 40 countries about which his office has growing concerns.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein -- a Jordanian prince married to an American from Texas, global maternal health activist Sarah Butler -- warned a year ago that nationalist populists like Donald Trump and Nigel Farage were using "tactics similar" to ISIS to frighten and reel in followers, and cautioned that "the populists, demagogues and political fantasists" would end up stoking "colossal violence."
In his Monday statement to open the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Zeid, who graduated from Johns Hopkins and was living in New York on 9/11, said he "will forever remember that huge gaping hole in the side of the building, the billowing smoke, the heroism of the fire-fighters and police, the collapsing towers, the murder of so many innocent people, the horror of it all."
"Today, perhaps all of us wonder whether a trigger pulled, a steering wheel turned, or a pin tugged by the fingers of some violent extremist will strike down our future prematurely. But the actions of violent extremists cannot totally obliterate our world. Only governments can do that – and this is the greater tragedy of today. Left on their current course, it will be governments who will break humanity," he said. "Terrorists may attack us, but the intellectual authors of those crimes will then often sit back and watch as governments peel away at human rights protections; watch, as our societies gradually unravel, with many setting course toward authoritarianism and oppression – staging for us, not a century of achievement and pride, but a century that is small, bitter and deprived, for the vast majority of humans."
Zeid first aimed at Burma, where in fewer than three weeks more than 270,000 people have fled to Bangladesh amid what "seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" against the indigenous Rohingya, who are majority Sunni with a Hindu minority.
"We have received multiple reports and satellite imagery of security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages, and consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including shooting fleeing civilians," he described. "...The Myanmar government should stop claiming that the Rohingyas are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages."
The commissioner called out India and Pakistan for religious and ethnic minority intolerance, as well as the Philippines for the government's "open support for a shoot-to-kill policy" against suspects. "I am also shocked by President Duterte's threat to bomb schools for indigenous children in the southern Philippines, which he said were teaching children to rebel against the government. His order to police to shoot any human rights workers who 'are part of' the drug trade or who 'obstruct justice' is yet another blow to his country's reputation and his people's rights."