Human Rights: What they say… what others say


Human Rights: David Alton

Brazil

What they say…
“The Brazilian political system has achieved a high-level of maturity as a democratic regime under the rule of law. No one shall be obliged to do or refrain from doing something except by virtue of law.”
Brazilian Embassy, London
What others say…
“The systematic use of torture and ill-treatment continued in police stations, prisons and juvenile detention centres. Human rights defenders were threatened and attacked.”
Amnesty International, Year 2000 Report

Burma

What they say…
“For 50 years the successive governments and the people of Myanmar have invested heavily into the defence of their freedom. This is certainly not the time to give up the march towards Myanmar’s long term socio-economic goals.”
Myanmar Information Committee, Yangon
What others say…
“Life in Burma is punctuated with inconveniences imposed by the capricious nature of the country’s hard-headed rulers. Conversations, even on a busy street, are whispered and fearful – mention the dialogue between the regime and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and their eyes turn down to the ground.”
Jonathan Head, BBC Correspondent in Rangoon

China

What they say…
“Many friends have asked me what is the greatest success China achieved in the past 50 years. It would not be too difficult for me to list all the outstanding achievements. The system of democratic supervision has been enforced. All government organs and personnel are under legal and popular supervision and abuses of power have been greatly reduced.”
H.E.Ambassador Ma Zhengang
Royal Institute of International Affairs
What others say…
In the latest of a series of trials which represent egregious violations of international human rights standards, an abuse of the law and a slap in the face to the international community, the Chinese government sentenced dissident Liu Xianbin. Liu was unable to find defense counsel as a series of lawyers withdrew from the case following pressure from the authorities.
Human Rights in China, August 1999

The Democratic Republic of Congo

What they say…
The situation in Congo is quiet, the economy is improving and politically people are in dialogue.
Mr Henri N’Swana,
Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
What others say…
As a result of the conflict that started in August 1998, over 700,000 persons were internally displaced, most of them inaccessible to relief organisations. There exists a volatile security situation and many other constraints.
UNHCR, Geneva

Egypt

What they say…
“Egypt is not only a geographical but also historical and ethnic unit. By all standards, the Egyptians are a whole, united people. Thanks to its location, the Egyptian people intermingled with other races and nations who all melted into a homogeneous human entity, that took part in all realms of human activity.”
Egypt State Information Service, 2000
What others say…
“While hundreds of suspected supporters of banned Islamist groups were released, thousands of others, including possible prisoners of conscience, remained held without charge or trial. Others served sentences imposed after grossly unfair trials before military courts. Torture and ill-treatment of detainees continued to be widespread; the majority of cases occurred in police stations.”
Amnesty International 2001 Report

Indonesia and East Timor

What they say…
“The Indonesian Government has consistently endeavored to adhere to the humanitarian precepts and basic human rights and freedoms embodied in its national philosophy. Indonesia has always stressed indivisibility, interdependence and non-selectivity in all deliberations on human rights.”
Indonesian Government 2000
What others say…
“Serious regional conflicts, a weak legal system, and delicate civil-military relations posed ongoing obstacles to the protection of human rights. The government failed adequately to protect the hundreds of thousands of people displaced in Aceh and the Moluccas as well as East Timorese refugees in West Timor.”
Human Rights Watch
Year 2001 Report

Iran

What they say…
“The Leadership are shelters protecting all tendencies and outlooks. [We]… permit individuals, each holding his own particular and differing outlook and disposition, [to] express their attachments to the principles of the revolution and the political system in their own ways, and air their particular viewpoints.”
Meeting members of the “Ten – day Dawn Celebrations Headquarters”
January 24, 1998
What others say…
“Parliament condemned the use of violence in kidnappings and murders with the aim of pressurising intellectuals and dissidents and silencing them through terror. Parliament called for human rights organisations and a delegation of independent human rights observers to be granted unhindered access to Iran in order to monitor the human rights situation.”
European Parliament
December 1999

Iraq

What they say…
“Let me point out the gist of what I want to say: being the living essence and the authentic representatives of the Arab nation. In line with God’s will to make the Arab nation the forerunner of humanity in all commendable deeds.”
PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSSEIN’S ADDRESS
on the 33rd Anniversary of the 17-30 July Revolution
What others say…
“There is a policy of “Arabization”…the resettlement of Kurds and their replacement by Arab peasants. Moreover, more Kurds were forced to relocate in no-mans-land along the border with Iran and Turkey in so-called “collective villages” located in barren areas easily accessible to the Iraqi army. The government called them “victory cities” which had been described as concentration camps housing over one million Kurds. Iraqi aircraft have attacked Kurdish villages with bombs containing lethal poison killing thousands of civilians.”
CASI, Cambridge University

Israel

What they say…
“The framework of a democratic Jewish state is built on liberty, justice and peace, as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; and the call for good neighborly relations with the surrounding Arab states, for the benefit of the entire region.”
Israel’s Declaration of Independence
What others say…
“Will he undertake to meet me and my hon. Friend to hear at first hand some of the atrocities that we learned about in the occupied territories, including the disproportionate use of force and questionable terms of engagement for Israel’s troops, which led to the killing of a boy from Hussan school in Beit Sahour?”
Mr Michael Connarty MP (Falkirk, East)
House of Commons, Tuesday 23 January 2001

Mozambique
“In early 2000 a cyclone swept across southern Africa leading to three weeks of severe floods which devastated Mozambique. Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless in Mozambique’s worst flooding in 50 years. But southern Mozambique bore the full impact of the rains and rising waters. In the capital Maputo tens of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes. The worst hit were people living in makeshift homes in the slums around the capital. ‘I own a cake shop in town,’ one man told me, ‘but I don’t know whether it’s still there or not.’ In a sense, the water has washed so much away – I hope not, but this feels like an emergency country again.”
BBC Reporting, Mozambique

North Korea

What they say….Citizens have freedom of religious beliefs. This right is granted by approving the construction of religious buildings and the holding of religious ceremonies.

Article 68, The North Korean Constitution

What others say….Persons engaging in religious proselytizing may be arrested and subjected to harsh penalties, including imprisonment and prolonged detention without charge…The Government deals harshly with all opponents, including those engaging in religious practices deemed unacceptable to the regime.

2002 International Freedom Report, US State Dept.

Pakistan

“General Musharraf needs help and support in overcoming vast problems–not condemnation, but practical and positive support. I say that because I believe the alternative would be chaos and highly dangerous to us all. Pakistan is surrounded by a number of other highly volatile and unstable “Stans”. We surely have a vested interest in seeking to ensure a strong, friendly and responsible Pakistan within the Commonwealth, a rock of stability in a very unstable part of the world. The alternative is a fragmented and irresponsible Pakistan with a nuclear ability. Think how dangerous it would be to India and, indeed, to the rest of the world if the Taliban had access to nuclear weapons. To those who say that we have no direct interest, I respond that l billion people in 55 countries are Muslims and that there are in this country over a million citizens, many of whom have strong links with Pakistan.”
Lord Weatherill
House of Lords, Wednesday 19 January 2000

Russia

“Bribery and bureaucracy are crippling the economy, abuse and corruption flourishes in the country’s judicial system. Standards of living remain low, and as the rate of growth slows, there is a risk of stagnation. Along with the shadow economy, we have shadow justice and the public have lost faith in the courts. One million Russians are in detention awaiting trial, when many of them have committed crimes which did not require custodial sentences.” He admitted that investigations took years, and that the state was not able to provide decent conditions in jails.
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

Sudan

What they say…
“The government of Sudan is committed to respecting the human rights of everyone under its jurisdiction. It believes that this goal is compatible with the Islamic and African traditions of Sudan.”
Advisory Council on Human Rights of the Government of Sudan
What others say…
“The civil war continued to devastate the lives of countless civilians during 2000. Despite government claims that the human rights situation in areas under its control was improving, lawyers, journalists, students and human rights defenders were harassed and intimidated. Dozens were arrested and tortured. Those responsible for human rights abuses were not brought to justice.”
Amnesty International Year 2000 Report

Turkey

What they say…
“Turkey remains determined to take steps wherever needed to enhance its democratic system and to enhance the rights and freedoms of the individual.”
Turkish Government statement
What others say…
“Writers, politicians, religious leaders, human rights defenders and many others were tried and imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression, particularly when they expressed opinions on the Kurdish question or the role of Islam. Torture remained widespread and the perpetrators were rarely brought to justice.”
Amnesty International Year 2000 Report

Vietnam

[Fr.} Van Ly tried to upset the people.  He encouraged their right to own land; he lied that there was no true freedom in Vietnam, and he refused to obey the authorities and accept their control.  He armed his group to fight the authorities.
Le Quang Vinh, Head of Vietnamese Government Committee on Religion
What others say…
Amnesty International believes that once again Father Nguyen Van Ly is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of his peaceful religious and political beliefs. He has not used or advocated violence. The organization calls on the Vietnamese authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, and to allow him to continue with his ministry without restrictions.
Amnesty International, Document “Fr. Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly – Prisoner of Conscience”