Silence and Indifference in Response to Human Rights Violations

The following is my response to Gil Bailie, who posted this video of a representative from UN Watch addressing the UN Human Rights Council. Gil Bailie’s post is here.

Gil, the point of this speaker’s message was that the UN Human Rights Council (formerly the UN Commission on Human Rights) has been selective in its condemnation of human rights violations and that it has shown a strong bias against Israel and in favor of Hamas and Hezbollah. I can’t judge the truth of his claims on the basis of this video, but I would strongly agree with the principle in question—i.e., that the Council’s response to human rights violations such as torture, persecution, and violence against women should never be one of silence and indifference. I would even broaden the principle so that it holds every citizen of Western liberal democracies to the same standards of justice and fairness.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wrote, “I swore to never be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides, Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim, silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

I’ve noticed your support of the Bush-Cheney administration over the years, and your obvious dissatisfaction with our current president. I don’t recall your speaking out against those responsible for the prison abuses at Abu-Ghraib and Guantanamo. One of these, of course, is former Vice-President Cheney, who admitted—and then defended—his role in allowing those abuses. I would have expected to hear an outcry from every American throughout the political spectrum. Instead, the response from the right was…. yes, silence and indifference.

President Obama has ended most of these abuses, but there are reports that the extraordinary renditions are still going on and that prisoners are still being mistreated. Can you join me in congratulating Obama for what he has done but demanding that he do more to end these abuses? And can you join me in demanding that those responsible for the Abu-Ghraib human rights violations be brought to justice?

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2 Responses to “Silence and Indifference in Response to Human Rights Violations”

  1. After the Images : What photographs of torture do. « Jared Del Rosso Says:

    […] as it did the Supreme Court’s decision. In a commendable post on human rights,  Douglas Remy uses a particularly troubling photograph to adorn his writing. The photograph shows a trail of blood leading out of a cell at Abu Ghraib. […]

  2. “When you just see blood”: Abu Ghraib, Errol Morris, & the Double Lie of a Photo « Jared Del Rosso Says:

    […] recent blog entries on torture. (See “Interrogating Torture” @ ONTOSAURUS and “Silence and Indifference in Response to Human Rights Violations” @ […]

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