The trendlines on human rights continue to move in the wrong direction, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.
The trendlines on human rights continue to move in the wrong direction, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. Governments that respect human rights are more likely to support the rules-based international order that the US and its allies have built and invested in for decades and decades, Blinken said.
“The trendlines on human rights continue to move in the wrong direction. We see evidence that in every region of the world, this is happening,” Blinken said on Tuesday, releasing the annual report of the State Department on human rights assessment of countries. “We see it on the genocide being committed against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinxiang,” he said, also citing attacks on and the imprisonment of opposition politicians, anti-corruption activists, independent journalists in places like Russia, Uganda and Venezuela. “We see it in the arbitrary arrest, beatings and other violence against protesters in Belarus and in the violations and abuses inflicted on the people of Yemen by the parties in the country’s conflict,” Blinken said.
“We also see it in the ways authoritarian governments are using and exporting new technologies to surveil and harass citizens and spread disinformation at home and abroad. We see it in what is happening in Burma the events since the military coup occurred after this year’s report was finished but we must highlight them,” he added.
The US, Blinken said, is committed to working with its allies and partners to hold the perpetrators of these abhorrent acts accountable.
All of these alarming trendlines are being worsened by COVID-19, which autocratic governments have used as a pretext to target their critics and further repress human rights, according to Blinken.
The coronavirus has disproportionately impacted the individuals and groups in societies who are already subject to abuse to discri mination and marginalisation before the pandemic, such as racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI persons. Women and girls have also endured greater gender-based violence during lockdowns and face more obstacles to seeking help, Blinken said.
Some have argued that it is not worth it for the US to speak up forcefully for human rights or highlight abuse only in select countries and only in a way that “directly advances our national interests”, he noted.
“I believe those people missed the point. Standing up for human rights everywhere is in America’s interests and the Biden-Harris administration will stand against human rights abuses wherever they occur regardless of whether the perpetrators are adversaries or partners,” he said.
“Countries where dissent is welcomed, where corrupt and abusive officials are punished, where labour laws are respected, where people of all backgrounds have equal access and opportunities. Those countries are more likely to be peaceful, prosperous, stable,” he said. They are less likely to fall into conflict. They are more likely to have growing economies and be markets for our own goods and services, he said.
“Look at the countries that run roughshod over the rights of their people. They are almost always the same countries that flout internationally-accepted rules beyond their borders whether that’s by lopping off the territory of other countries, launching cyber attacks, harassing dissidents, spreading disinformation or breaking trade rules,” Blinken said.
“In addition to all of these reasons there’s a simpler one, standing for people’s freedom and dignity honours America’s most sacred values. At our best, we stand for freedom and justice for all, not just here at home, but around the world. “We will hear from some countries as we do every year that we have no right to criticise them because we have our own challenges to deal with,” he said.