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‘Double Standards and Hypocrisy’: China Publishes Report on 2020 Human Rights Abuses in US

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Since declaring China a “malign actor” who poses a major threat to the US in 2018, the US has opened a new ideological offensive by claiming China has a bad human rights record in Xinjiang and Hong Kong – an offensive that has only gained steam since US President Joe Biden took office in January.

In a sharp rebuke to US criticisms of Chinese internal policy, Beijing has published its own report highlighting the state of human rights inside the United States. The document notes extensive racial discrimination, continuous social unrest, record social inequality, and the government’s catastrophic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Titled “The Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2020,” the document published on Wednesday by the State Council Information Office begins with the infamous last words of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died in May 2020 while handcuffed and held against the ground by Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck as Floyd repeated “I can’t breathe!”

Floyd’s death touched off the largest uprising seen in the United States in half a century as millions poured into the streets to speak out against endemic anti-black violence by police and vigilantes – and were met with batons, tear gas and rubber bullets. More than 10,000 people were arrested by US police in just two weeks, and some activists face trumped-up charges that could land them in prison for decades.

“The US government, instead of introspecting on its own terrible human rights record, kept making irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in other countries, exposing its double standards and hypocrisy on human rights,” the report states. “Standing at a new crossroads, mankind is faced with new, grave challenges. It is hoped that the US side will show humility and compassion for the suffering of its own people, drop hypocrisy, bullying, ‘Big Stick’ [diplomacy] and double standards, and work with the international community to build a community with a shared future for humanity.”

‘Incompetent’ COVID-19 Response Causes ‘Slaughter’

The report highlights the central role of the US government in allowing the COVID-19 pandemic to grow as widely and as quickly as it did, as well as for allowing it to persist for as long as it has.

The combined effect has been that with just 5% of the world population, the US has accounted for 25% of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 and almost 20% of deaths from the disease. On Thursday, data collected by The New York Times found that at least 545,300 Americans had died from COVID-19 and 30.5 million infected.

The US government’s slow response and the dismissive attitude of its central leadership enabled the virus to take hold and ensured that it hit communities far harder than was necessary. “Had the American authorities taken science-based measures to contain the pandemic, this could have been avoided,” the report notes. “But since they had not, the pandemic, as epidemiologist and former head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) William Foege had put it, is ‘a slaughter’ to the United States.”

The chaotic response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in 2020 has led to dire consequences, according to the Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2020, which was released by China’s State Council Information Office on Wednesday.

Decline of US Democracy

In addition to the domination of American politics by moneyed interests, the report also notes the corresponding decline in public trust among the US population and the ultimate culmination of divisiveness, distrust and despondency in the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

During the incident, supporters of the sitting president, Donald Trump, rallied to defend his rejection of the November 2020 election results, and militant elements led a storming of the national legislature that temporarily dispersed Congress in the middle of certifying the election results. The move failed and the results were later certified, but not before the Capitol was ransacked and five people – four rioters and one Capitol Police officer –  were killed.

The incident caused shock around the globe as the “beacon of democracy” became “what its leaders used to condemn: being unable to avoid violence and bloody destruction during transfer of power.”

“The scenes (the US Capitol building violence) we have seen are the result of lies and more lies, of division and contempt for democracy, of hatred and rabble-rousing – even from the very highest levels,” the report quotes German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier as saying the day after the insurrection.

Ethnic Minorities Face Poverty, Police Terror

The report’s section on racial discrimination notes, in addition to a series of damning statistics illustrating systemic discrimination and inequality faced by minority communities, that world leaders have spoken up time and time again about the state of human rights in the US.

It notes, for example, that Michele Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights whose commentary about humanitarian crises in Venezuela and other nations often makes US news, has also been highly critical of the state of humanitarian affairs in the United States as well. For example, in May 2020 in response to the killing of Floyd and the mass demonstrations sparked by his death, Bachelet condemned racist police brutality as well as inequality and racial discrimination in health, education, and employment in the US. In the aftermath of the January 2021 Capitol insurrection, Bachelet said it was the “destructive impact of sustained, deliberate distortion of facts, and incitement to violence and hatred by political leaders.”

Bachelet spoke out again last week as Chauvin’s trial for Floyd’s death began, saying, “To end racial injustice in law enforcement, we cannot simply see the tip of the iceberg, we must face the mass below the surface. We must address the legacies of enslavement, the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, and its context of colonialism.”

Tendayi Achiume, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, also condemned “the existential threat of police brutality and police violence” in the US and joined other members of the UN Human Rights Council in a statement supporting the George Floyd protests.

The ethnic minorities in the United States are devastated by racial discrimination, and racism exists in a comprehensive, systematic and continuous manner, according to the Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2020, which was released by China’s State Council Information Office on Wednesday

The report also notes the “countless crimes against humanity and genocides” committed by the US government against Native Americans, who have been deprived of the vast majority of their ancestral lands and “still live a life like a second-class citizen.” It notes the endemic poverty on reservations and the high rates of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses caused by “toxic radioactive environments,” which cause high rates of birth defects as well. The report later notes that Native religions have been trampled on as well, particularly by the opening of sacred land sites for mining and logging.

In addition, the report notes the stark rise in anti-Asian racism, reporting that one-quarter of Asian-Americans have been bullied for their race in the last year and that “some American politicians have misled the public on purpose,” blaming Chinese people for the deadly pandemic.

In addition, it notes that asylum seekers were treated “cruelly,” highlighting the enormous migrant detention facilities as well as the deportation of thousands of children during the pandemic.

Rising Inequality

However, the report notes that inequality has spread across all of American society, with the poorest 165 million Americans holding as much wealth as the richest 50 Americans.

“The epidemic has aggravated wealth inequality,” the report says, noting that the government’s response to the out-of-control pandemic has caused mass unemployment, deprived millions of people of health insurance coverage, and plunged tens of millions of Americans into hunger.

Rogue State

Finally, the report notes the rogue behavior of the US abroad. It notes that the US has walked away from its commitments to the World Health Organization and Paris Climate Accord, has bullied international organizations such as the International Criminal Court and UN Human Rights Council, and kept unilateral sanctions in place against a number of countries during the pandemic. In addition, then-US President Donald Trump pardoned four Blackwater mercenaries previously convicted of slaughtering civilians in Iraq during the US’ occupation war there.



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Texas anti-abortion law shows ‘terrifying’ fragility of women’s rights, say activists | Global development

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The new anti-abortion law in Texas is a “terrifying” reminder of the fragility of hard-won rights, pro-choice activists have said, as they warn of a “more aggressive, much better organised [and] better funded” global opposition movement.

Pro-choice campaigners have seen several victories in recent years, including in Ireland, Argentina and, most recently, Mexico, where the supreme court ruled last week that criminalising abortion was unconstitutional. Another is hoped for later this month when the tiny enclave of San Marino, landlocked within Italy, holds a highly charged referendum.

But Texas’s law, which bans abortions after about six weeks, once embryonic cardiac activity is detected, and does not make exceptions for incest or rape, has sent shock waves around the world, making pro-choice activists realise they can take nothing for granted.

Sarah Shaw, head of advocacy at MSI Reproductive Choices, said: “Even though we have seen little gains here and there, in some places, we can never, ever be complacent because we’re only ever really hanging on to these rights by the skin of our teeth.”

She said the Texas law was “really terrifying” because of the emboldening message it sent to other anti-choice governments and organisations, with the fact it had happened in the US giving it “a huge weight and legitimacy”.

“This is all happening in the context of a rising, much more aggressive, much better organised, better funded and much more legitimised opposition movement than we’ve ever seen before,” Shaw said.

Pro-choice campaigners say they have faced increasingly vocal opposition from organisations that started on the US religious right but have spread to other countries, such as 40 Days for Life, a group that distributes graphic and misleading leaflets to women outside UK abortion clinics.

Heartbeat International, a conservative US Christian federation, funds and coordinates a network of anti-abortion “pregnancy resource” centres, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa, to provide women with what it calls “true reproductive help”.

“It’s a transnational movement now,” said Shaw. “What we’re seeing is them [US organisations] exporting their playbooks and their money overseas.”

Abortion-rights activists in Buenos Aires celebrate as Argentina’s Congress voted to legalise elective abortion.
‘Green wave’ abortion-rights activists in Buenos Aires celebrate as Argentina’s Congress voted to legalise elective abortion last December. Photograph: Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Attacks on abortion rights usually happen in countries where other human rights are under threat, according to analysts. Last year, more than 30 countries, many of them led by authoritarian strongmen or rightwing populists, including Belarus, Uganda, Hungary, Egypt and Donald Trump’s US administration, signed a non-binding anti-abortion document known as the Geneva consensus declaration. The text was also seen as being anti-LGBTQ, as most of the signatories had not legalised same-sex marriage and several prosecute their LGBTQ+ citizens.

In one of his first acts as president, Joe Biden removed the US from the declaration in January, as well as ending the Mexico City policy, known as the “global gag rule”.

Among the signatories was Poland, which is one of only three countries to have significantly rolled back abortion rights since 2000, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The other two are Nicaragua and the US.

In October last year, Poland’s constitutional tribunal ruled that terminations due to foetal defects were unconstitutional. Three months later, a near-total ban on abortions was imposed. Abortion is now only legal in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s health.

Meanwhile, human rights observers have said that a Nicaraguan law punishing abortion without any exceptions, passed in 2006, has simply forced women to seek unsafe backstreet terminations.

Marge Berer, coordinator of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, said setbacks were all too common, with breakthrough moments often followed by backlashes.

A protest against restrictions on abortion in Krakow in March. Poland has imposed a near-total ban.
A protest against restrictions on abortion in Krakow in March. Poland has imposed a near-total ban. Photograph: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

“My experience of this is one step forward, two steps forward, or one step back, 10 steps back,” she said. “And much of it, if not all of it, depends on who is the head of the government of the day.”

Berer, who has been involved in the pro-choice movement for almost 40 years, said the overall picture was brighter than it had been then: fewer deaths from unsafe abortions, and many more countries where terminations are legal.

But, she added, she was not hugely optimistic about the future. “There’s so much misogyny in the world. And I don’t know how anybody is going to make that go away,” she said. “For me, that’s the real problem. It’s that when misogyny takes over on a policy level, it’s very nasty.”

However, there is more hope among activists in Latin America, where the marea verde, or green wave, has swept through first Argentina and, last week, Mexico, where the supreme court struck down a state law that imposed prison terms for having an abortion. While it did not automatically legalise abortion, the decision is thought to set a binding precedent for the country’s judges.

Eugenia López Uribe, regional director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said the legal change was the result of “40 years of hard work” by campaigners, with mass demonstrations, backroom lobbying and “a mainstreaming” of women’s rights in public discourse.

She said the ability of the Catholic church to tell people what to do when it came to abortion and contraception had been greatly reduced. “What we know from different surveys … is that in reality Catholics … feel that this is a private decision that you have to do with your own conscience.”

As women in Texas bear the brunt of the law brought in by the governor, Greg Abbott, their Mexican allies across the border were planning to take the fight north, she added.

“The ‘green wave’ hasn’t reached the United States so this is a very good opportunity for [it] to cross the border of the Rio Grande and go to the United States. We can make it go even further. We’ve been used to thinking about it in Latin America. Now is the time for North America.”

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France attacks US over ‘stab in back’ submarine deal

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France has called a US deal to develop nuclear-powered submarine technology with Australia and the UK, but not any EU countries, unveiled Thursday, a “stab in the back,” in the words of French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The move is to see France lose out on a multibillion-euro submarine-technology deal with Australia. “This is not over. We’re going to need clarifications. We have contracts,” Le Drian added.

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‘A forgotten disaster’: earthquake-hit Haitians left to fend for themselves | Global development

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David Nazaire, a 45-year-old coffee farmer from Beaumont, a small village in rural southern Haiti, was getting ready to harvest when an earthquake struck his home and livelihood. Much of the farming infrastructure – as well as nearby homes, schools and churches – was damaged or completely destroyed. A month later, he and thousands of rural Haitians – those most severely affected by the tremor – are still waiting for relief, and are not expecting it to arrive soon.

“The earthquake didn’t destroy our crops, but it did take everything else,” Nazaire says, outside a neighbour’s house, now a pile of rubble beneath plastic roof tiles supported by the remnants of concrete walls. “We were just getting ready to harvest, but that’s lost now.”

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Haiti on 14 August killed more than 2,200 and left 30,000 homeless. But while foreign aid and builders have been trickling into urban centres such as Les Cayes, the capital of Sud province, and other quake-struck areas, many rural Haitians see an all too familiar abandonment.

“Haiti has always been divided between an urban professional class and the ignored rural communities,” says Estève Ustache, 58, a researcher on rural development attached to a Methodist church outside Jeremie, another quake-struck town. “You have to ask yourself, why do leaders and aid workers only travel to these rural areas in a helicopter? Because they know it would be nearly impossible to go otherwise.”

The frame of a house left destroyed by the earthquake in Tricon
The frame of a house left destroyed by the earthquake, in Tricon, a rural hamlet near Les Cayes. Photograph: Joe Parkin Daniels

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, where nearly half of the 11.4m population is food insecure. But the poverty in which rural Haitians – who make up two-thirds of the population – live is startling, even by the country’s own abject standards.

The drive to Tricon, a rural hamlet just a few miles from Les Cayes – the regional capital – takes more than an hour. The road has never been paved and heavy rains can leave it impassable. Communities live in shacks built partly from material scavenged in the city. The phone signal is unreliable, and aside from a handful of community-built wells, there is no water supply.

“Everything we have, we built ourselves,” says Moise Magaly, 49, who was tending to her bean crops when the earth beneath her began thrashing, throwing her to the ground and making her arm “go crack”.

Most in the community are gaunt, after a dry spell that led to crops of cassava, beans and corn failing to yield their usual harvest. Vetiver, a cash crop often used to combat soil erosion, has been over-farmed in the area, further damaging the land.

Magaly’s house was damaged in the earthquake, knocking out the walls but leaving the roof standing on top of wooden struts. Like almost everyone else in southern Haiti, the fear of aftershocks and another quake has kept her sleeping outside, vulnerable to the Atlantic hurricane season.

Moise Magaly was tending to bean crops when the earthquake struck
Moise Magaly was tending to bean crops when the earthquake struck. Photograph: Joe Parkin Daniels

“I don’t know why no one comes for us,” Magaly says, clutching at her arm. “We’ve contacted the media and our representatives but we’ve heard nothing.”

Aid has arrived in the country, with the US delivering more than 60 tonnes of aid to quake-hit regions, while Britain has pledged £1m of support, including shelter kits and solar-powered lanterns.

But some working on the relief effort worry that as international compassion wanes, so too will the funds from donors.

“It’s a very poor area, where people don’t have the resources or the funds for materials to build their houses well,” says Kit Miyamoto, a structural engineer who runs a firm and foundation that works in Haiti and around the world to improve earthquake preparedness. “And this is a forgotten disaster because it happens out of the eyes of the world, which means there will be less funding.”

Miyamoto adds that rural homes, churches and schools were more affected than those in cities because many of them were built before 2010, when improved building codes were adopted nationwide after a catastrophic earthquake struck the capital Port-au-Prince, killing more than 200,000.

“Construction is different now, and people are more conscious of how to build in a way that does the little things right, and makes the difference,” Miyamoto says.

But despite growing awareness of resilient construction techniques, the relief effort remains hampered by the sheer isolation of the most affected communities, and some are giving up hope.

“No one has been here since the earthquake. Just like before, the only time we see an outsider round here is when they want our votes,” says Altema Jean Joseph, a 52-year-old farmer who grows vetiver, an ingredient used in expensive perfumes which, despite costing $25,000 (£18,000) a barrel, makes farmers only $4 a week. “So why would we expect them here? We’ll have to build back ourselves.”

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