One significant story may have missed the important attention of audiences in Zimbabwe, especially politicians and political watchers last week. It concerns Israel and its continued occupation and repression of Palestine, which the world has continued to frown upon and has duly — at the apex body of the United Nations — continued to condemn and calling for an end to this system of apartheid characterised by egregious forms of human rights abuses.
The United States of America has, as is now common knowledge, continued to stand by apartheid Zionist Israel and has vetoed or undermined efforts to bring to an end its repression and abuse of the people of Palestine, who not only demand independence, but also restoration of stolen lands, wealth and humanity.
Countless resolutions have been made on the platforms of the United Nations and all the US has defeated or undermined to stand with Israel.
For its own part, the HRC has the “Agenda Item 7” which mandates member states debate Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians at every meeting.
Now, last week, the United States went even further.
According to a report on Voice of America, an envoy to the UN Human Rights Council called out the panel for what she called “unfair” treatment of Israel, which has been targeted by the council’s resolutions more than any other country.
Erin Barclay accused the HRC of having “an obsession” with Israel and opined that the “obsession” was hurting the council’s credibility.
“When it comes to human rights no country should be free from scrutiny, but neither should any democratic country be regularly subjected to unfair, unbalanced and unfounded bias,’’ she said.
Barclay pointed to human rights abuses currently taking place in countries like Syria, Iran and North Korea, and, given this context, said the HRC’s annual rebuke of Israel serves only in “making a mockery of this council.”
“The United States will oppose any effort to de-legitimise or isolate Israel, not just in the HRC, but wherever it occurs,” she said.
The envoy called on the council to move away from the “unbalanced and unproductive” practice and instead focus its efforts on “the most critical human rights situations” around the globe.
Well, fair and square!
And how about on how the US treats other countries such as Zimbabwe, Madame Envoy?
Zimbabwe is subject to US sanctions that are renewed on an annual basis since 2003. This period of the year is when successive US administrations from George Bush have been renewing an Executive Order extending sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Executive Order 13288 first came into effect on March 10, 2003 meaning that, as we speak, it is just two days short of its 14th birthday! It is also interesting to note that the Barack Obama administration decided to renew the sanctions weeks before their scheduled annual ritual.
The sanctions are predicated on Zimbabwe’s alleged human rights violations, as, in conceiving them Bush “determined that the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions, contributing to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Zimbabwe, to politically motivated violence and intimidation in that country, and to political and economic instability in the southern African region, constitute(d) an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States”.
There is no question that the US — and its allies in the West — has had an obsession with Zimbabwe.
Secondly, anyone would see that the US and the West have been unfair, unbalanced and biased in their annual rebuke and punishment of Zimbabwe.
When you compare the egregious nature of the violations that Israel commits in Palestine as well as the poor records of some of US’ allies such as Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Afghanistan and Bahrain (see a Human Rights Watch list here <https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/01/02/barack-obama-dump-these-8-unsavory-allies>), you tend to see the hypocrisy that the US has against Zimbabwe.
We make zero apologies for pointing out this self-evident fact.
That is, even when we consider the human rights reports made with respect to Zimbabwe.
It is rather fortunate that as we are speaking the US has just released an annual human rights report for the countries of the world, including Zimbabwe and Israel.
For those that have seen the Zimbabwe report, they will note that the report is not only shallow, but sounds superficial as the major issues there concern the likes of Evan Mawarire, Linda Masarira, Promise Mkwanannzi — who are all named — and other small time activists that bobbed to the surface last year.
Itai Dzamara also features there, too.
And when one looks at it, nothing there is compelling, appearing, too, as it is to be some echo chamber of self-seeking human rights activists here who make a living out of opposition to Government.
In fact, sections to do with such issues as prison conditions — that is lack of amenities and all — are far more convincing than the political human rights which the US and the West try to stick onto Zimbabwe to justify continued sanctions.
Now that is unfair.
Or let’s look at the situation in Israel and Palestine. For obvious reasons the latest US report waters down Israel’s violations, even strangely blaming the poor Palestinians.
Says the report in summary: “The most significant human rights problems were terrorist attacks targeting civilians and politically and religiously motivated societal violence; institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel, many of whom self-identify as Palestinian, in particular in access to equal education, housing, and employment opportunities; and institutional and societal discrimination against Ethiopian Israelis and women.”
We all know better than these euphemisms. Palestinians — men and women and children — are killed by Israel; they are discriminated against apartheid style; their land is being stolen and expropriated and black Jews and women are repressed. That is the grave situation that everybody knows — including at the echelons of the UN — but the US does not want to acknowledge.
Amnesty International, for example, explains that: “Israeli forces unlawfully killed Palestinian civilians, including children, in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and detained thousands of Palestinians from the OPT who opposed Israel’s continuing military occupation, holding hundreds in administrative detention. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained rife and was committed with impunity. The authorities continued to promote illegal settlements in the West Bank, including by attempting to retroactively ‘legalise’ settlements built on private Palestinian land, and severely restricted Palestinians’ freedom of movement, closing some areas after attacks by Palestinians on Israelis. Israeli forces continued to blockade the Gaza Strip, subjecting its population of 1,9 million to collective punishment, and to demolish homes of Palestinians in the West Bank and of Bedouin villagers in Israel’s Negev/Naqab region, forcibly evicting residents. The authorities imprisoned conscientious objectors to military service and detained and deported thousands of asylum-seekers from Africa.”
Sari Bashi, Human Rights Watch’s Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director, notes that the Israeli settlements have wreaked havoc on Palestinians.
“. . . the Israeli army blocks travel between Palestinian towns, destroys nearby Palestinian homes and businesses, and renders off-limits valuable Palestinian agricultural land. The Israeli authorities also disproportionately allocate to Israelis natural resources extracted from Palestinian lands, such as water and valuable stone and marble that belong to the Palestinians.”
She concludes: “Yet the US has consistently opposed international measures of accountability for abuses caused by settlements, including actions by the International Criminal Court, with the explanation that ‘unilateral’ Palestinian attempts to achieve justice interfered with real or imagined negotiations.”
It is the same US that imposes sanctions on Zimbabwe based on the adventures of the likes of Evan Mawarire.
This is the real obsession.
And it stinks.