Category Archives: human rights

Khmer Rouge trial set to begin

The United Nations and the government of Cambodia have at last reached terms under which a genocide tribunal can begin. Disagreements between the local and international sides of the arrangement have accounted for the delay in getting to this point, but it looks like the thing is ready to roll. UNAKRT (United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials) and ECCC (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or the tribunal before which former Khmer Rouge leaders will soon stand) are announcing updates on their websites. From a joint statement issued today:

The process of drafting the internal rules has been a complex one. The ECCC is a unique exercise in international justice. For the first time a hybrid court, taking as its foundation the national law of the country in which it is operating, has has incorporated the work of Co-Investigating Judges into its process. We have had no precedents as we work to integrate Cambodian law and procedure and the particular characteristics and structure of this court, while ensuring that international standards are upheld.

What should be our feelings on mixing local and international justice thusly? My confidence in justice dispensed by the UN may be marginally higher than my confidence in justice dispensed by Cambodian officials, but in this case the difference hardly matters. There is, unfortunately, nothing on the books of any respectable system of law that can award these monsters what they deserve. This is why I advocate prevention over cure. Monsters of history must be located and neutralized before they can make more history.

el gigante

Al-Qaeda torture methods. Yummy!

From Doug Ross @ Journal:

During a series of raids on Al-Qaeda safe houses in Iraq, U.S. military personnel discovered an official “Al-Qaeda Torture Manual” and various tools used for the express purpose of torture. Items recovered included meat cleavers, whips, and bolt-cutters. In addition, several victims — still alive — were discovered…

…If you have the stomach for it, The Smoking Gun website has reprinted the entire document. Among the chapters: how to sever limbs; squeeze a victim’s head in a vise; remove eyeballs; apply a blowtorch or a clothes iron to exposed flesh; and drill through hands.

When I read stuff like this I stop caring whether Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan or whether they’re in Iraq or whether they’re in Iran or in Pakistan or in Indonesia or in Somalia or in Europe or wherever the hell they are. (in fact they’re in all those places, and more) I stop caring whether some particular terrorist act perpetrated by this group was directed at my own nation or at an allied nation or at any other nation. I stop giving a flying f— about what the “root causes of terrorism” might be. I want to see AQ and jihadists like them annihilated because they are simply enemies of civilization of the most recalcitrant kind.

The rest of Doug’s topic highlights the moral bankruptcy of certain prominent media outlets for their inflated coverage of America’s crimes when things like this are going on, and the reactions of bloggers to the above. Can’t help but feel sorry for people who may still believe that the mainstream media represented by the NYT is the only or even a good source of news today.

H/T to Nuke’s News & Views

Keep on speaking, people

Yes, the people have spoken on Iraq. Randy Barnett notes that the people have also spoken on healthcare. In fact, the people have spoken on many things.

The people have spoken on Darfur!

A majority (50 percent) of Americans favor US military intervention in Darfur, so long as it is part of an international peacekeeping force.

Americans are more reluctant to take military action if it is unilateral and potentially dangerous.*

(dangerous to Americans, they mean)

Go people! Tell them Janjaweed we won’t stand for their genocidal (oops, I said the ‘G’-word) antics and that through our focused indignation we can make them stop raping and murdering, in a similar way that by voting for Democrats who will bring our troops home we can make the various tribes, gangs and religious factions in Iraq all stop abusing each other.

Seriously now, the results of the poll, which show an increased desire on the part of Americans to see something done to save Darfur, are not bad news. It’s just not going to save Darfur. As Scott Kirwin and I discussed the other week, you could expect an “international peacekeeping force” to be about as much help in ending genocide as you could expect ExxonMobil to be in ending global warming.

Stories that don’t get told often enough

On the one hand will be a person who says “Communism IS a special kind of monster. It has been the bloodiest ideology of the 20th century bar none.”

On the other hand will be a person who says “Totalitarianism is awful in all of its forms. I don’t single out any one breed but condemn them all.”

How needless that there should be any quarrel between these two since both are stating a critical truth. Totalitarianism is horrible in all of its forms; the world has certainly seen more than enough variations on this same appalling theme.

At the same time, the particular breed called communism does deserve a special spot in hell’s library for the extent to which it was attempted worldwide, for the numbers it put up–100,000,000 million murdered by a conservative estimate, for being arguably the most notorious social experiment in all of human history. Not to mention that it still goes on in some places.

Which is why those of us who think history is kind of important (and do not wish to see it repeated) must continuously harp on the relative lack of inattention given to the Red Plague by certain institutions. From a back issue of Reason Online Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley made this observation:

Indeed, in the decade since the Berlin Wall fell, or even the decade before that, no Hollywood film has addressed the actual history of communism, the agony of the millions whose lives were poisoned by it, and the century of international deceit that obscured communist reality. The simple but startling truth is that the major conflict of our time, democracy versus Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism–what The New York Times recently called “the holy war of the 20th century”–is almost entirely missing from American cinema. It is as though since 1945, Hollywood had produced little or nothing about the victory of the Allies and the crimes of National Socialism. This void is all the stranger since the major conflict of our time would seem to be a natural draw for Hollywood…

I’m not enough of a theater-goer to be able to measure for myself what coverage communism may not be getting in cinema, but the detailed explanation that follows in the above quoted article rings true given the biases I know Hollywood to have inherited from the propaganda front of the Cold War. Its roots go much deeper than most people realize.

Why reform doesn’t happen

Here’s a story about a Chinese couple filing a lawsuit in a US District Court against Yahoo for the company having provided information that Chinese authorities used to sentence the man to prison (for his writings online). I don’t see what can come from this other than a symbolic gesture. If imprisoning and torturing people for expression of ideas is the law in China, and if United States trade law honors Chinese law as I believe it does (somebody with more legal expertise than myself correct me if I am wrong here), then what case do they have?

Former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky in his famous book The Case For Democracy argued that to encourage reform in oppressive states the West should make relations with those states dependent on the degree to which they honor basic human rights. In so doing we utilize one great advantage a free society enjoys over an oppressive one–it is invariably more prosperous. The reasoning is that the oppressive society needs the technology and assistance of the free society more than the free society needs anything the oppressive society has to offer.

Obviously the West lacks any will whatsoever to carry out Sharansky’s idea, as one can plainly see from looking at relations with China, or Saudi Arabia, or hell, Iran. Read this Opinion Journal piece on EU dealings with Iran and ask yourself what incentive the Ayatollahs have to ever change their ways.

Christopher Hitchens On Free Speech

Here’s Hitchens defending free speech (attacking proposed “hate speech” legislation in Canada) and reflexively showing some more of that trademark contempt for religion.

“Now I am absolutely convinced that the main source of hatred in the world is religion.”

“I think it should be, religion, treated with ridicule and hatred and contempt.”

Yes, he made both of these statements in the same speech. Can he not see the irony? The first half of his address, however, was quite solid. Hitch is an intellectual heavyweight who you have to take seriously even though it is, I think, impossible for virtually anybody to agree with the man 100% of the time.

(via Nuke’s News & Views)

Moral Bankruptcy in East Asia

Recommended reading for those even moderately interested in international relations in Asia is this piece by GI Korea on the moral bankruptcy of those who point the finger of shame at the Japanese for deplorable behavior they long ceased to practice, while uttering not a peep about the deplorable behavior that goes on in their own backyards right at this very moment. The sexual slavery of North Korean refugees in China, for instance.

The state of international affairs today is that the outrage against nation states which have come to generally respect basic human rights will be disproportionately louder and shriller than the outrage against nation states which generally still don’t. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out why this is.

Ahmadinejad in Pajamas!

You gotta say this much for those Ayatollahs. They’ve picked up on the propaganda potential of internet technology faster than your average theocratic thugs. Iranian president Ahmadinejad has his personal blog! Well now, that’s more than you can say for Mister Bush, isn’t it? It proves beyond dispute that one of the two leaders at least is in touch with his people. This definitely makes up for all the Iranian bloggers that government has been putting in jail (and probably torturing) for the views they express.

A comment section is provided on Ahmadinejad’s blog so that you, yes you, can welcome the great man to the blogosphere, tell him how much you admire his wisdom and courage and how eager you personally are to see the Zionist state obliterated at his trusted discretion. Kind of like how I imagine participating in a handshake event with Joseph Goebbels would have been like.

Here’s the message I submitted:

In terms of civil, political and religious rights, you head one of the least free countries in the entire world. Allah be praised when ruthless, twisted, toxically deranged Jew-hating excrement like Khamenei and yourself are out of power.

My first draft was less nice, but for the purpose of having it pass review and be displayed among the other comments I guess it doesn’t matter.

(Hat tip to Raw Feed)

The Bugblatter Approach

I’m gonna have to revise my opinion about the UN. Those folks are brilliant. Geniuses, the whole lot of ’em.

Consider this recent news about Arab leaders not cooperating on the Sudan crisis.

Secretary-General Ban’s attempt this week to marshal international help for Darfur victims suffered serious setbacks as an Arab League summit Riyadh, as well as at the U.N.’s own Human Rights Council, declined to exert any pressure on Khartoum.

Mr. Ban, who visited the Arab League summit in Riyadh yesterday, told Arab heads of state that he expected support for a U.N. plan to send 20,000 troops to Darfur, where according to America, genocide is taking place.

When I read the bolded phrase I had this epiphany.

To the simple American mind, the fact that genocide is going on in Darfur is something we (arrogantly) think we can straightforwardly state. I mean, all the accounts, all the reports, all the pictures are right there for all to behold.

But this only reveals our doltishness and inability to think outside the box compared to those UN highbrows who use a more advanced and clever method when confronted with sticky problems, which I’ll call the Bugblatter Approach.

Recall from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy what the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal is and how one is advised to deal with it:

Daft as a hairbrush, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal is arguably the most insanely idiotically dense creature in existence. It believes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you. Therefore, if you are faced by the horrid (yes, horrid, in spite of its intelligence, or lack of) Beast you should wrap your towel around your head (you do have one, don’t you?!)

The Bugblatter Approach then is to drape a towel over your head such that you cannot see the problem. In the case of Arab members of the UN, that would be a second towel over their heads (sorry, couldn’t resist it).

I’m sure you and I can think of many others who employ this clever and useful technique.

The Bugblatter Approach. Give it a try today!

Iranian Kurds Speak

Excerpt from Michael J Totten’s interview with Iranian Kurds during his most recent trip to Iraq:

MJT: Which regime was more oppressive to you?

Mohtadi: The Iranians.

MJT: Worse than Saddam?

Mohtadi: Yes, of course. To Iranian Kurds, yes.

MJT: Tell us something about this. Very few Americans, including me, know very much about what the Iranian government has done to the Kurds in Iran.

Mohtadi: That’s exactly our problem. So many people in the West and in the world know that Kurds had problems in Iraq, they have problems in Turkey. But very few people know that Kurds are under oppression in Iran, as well.

Something to think about as we contemplate policy towards Iran.

Our relationship with the Kurds in Iraq is and has every reason to continue being a working one. For all our blunders and betrayals, we came through for them in the end. Point in fact is that the prosperity the Kurds now enjoy in Iraq demonstrates what can be achieved when the West sticks to its guns; it was enforcement of the no-fly zones over the years between the wars which enabled them to build the successful modern state (a sovereign state all but in name) that they have today while the Shia inhabitants of Saddam’s playhouse were in bloody shackles.

What, I wonder, will be our policy regarding the Kurds in Iran? Can they look forward to a day of liberation with (if need be) borrowed muscle from the free world or is the game of liberation a game that we’ve all grown tired of? This is an example of the kind of question I would like to see put to presidential candidates at home when election time rolls around.