- Created: Wednesday, 01 August 2012 11:29
- Written by Steve Palmer
Every year, the United States releases reports on other countries’ human rights practices, giving glowing awards to its allies and stooges, while upbraiding those it regards as its enemies. In response China has released a report on human rights in the US, based on publicly available information: The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011. It makes grim reading, demonstrating the double standards used by US imperialism.
Life, property and personal security
Despite its massive resources, the US suffers chronically from violent crime: the violent victimization rate is 15 victimizations per 1,000 residents. This is an average and the rate is far higher in certain areas. More than six million schoolchildren experienced bullying over a six-month period. Firearms ownership is rampant: the US population holds between 35 and 50% of the world’s civilian-owned guns, with 47% of adults reporting that they had a gun. Over 30,000 die each year and another 200,000 are estimated to be injured each year due to guns.
Civil and political rights
When it suits US imperialism’s interests, it lavishes praise on popular political movements in other countries and condemns their repression, back home it brutally repressed the Occupy Wall Street movement. The report documents many hundreds of arrests of peaceful demonstrators and documents some of the police brutality directed against the movement. While advocating press freedom, the media, controlled by a handful of unaccountable corporations, severely censors the news: Helen Thomas, the premier White House correspondent, was forced into retirement after making critical remarks about Israel. Hundreds of journalists attempting to cover the Occupy movement have been arrested. While giving 24-hour coverage to protests in Egypt, CNN and Fox News gave no live reports on Occupy. The US government constantly monitors the private correspondence of hundreds of millions of people on the internet. While supposedly a democracy, half of all Senators and Representatives in Congress are millionaires. Corporations make major campaign contributions to influential politicians. The report documents how law enforcement officers regularly harass and brutalise people, including framing them for crimes they did not commit and arbitrarily arresting and detaining them. The US has the largest prison population and highest per capital level of imprisonment in the world, often in appalling conditions.
Economic, social and cultural rights
There are no employment rights in the US: in June 2011, over 14 million people were unemployed, and a further 3.6 million were not in the labour force. There are massive disparities in wealth and income: the wealthiest 400 people in the US have $1.5 trillion in assets – the same amount as that of the poorest half of the population – more than 150 million people. Over 46 million people live in poverty and about 15% of the population receive food stamps. More than three million people in the US are homeless, while almost 50 million have no health insurance. Educational spending has been cut, teaching staff reduced and school hours shortened. Native Americans have experienced significant cultural erosion and only a handful will speak their own languages if trends continue.
Racial discrimination is rife: minorities are under-represented in politics and at senior levels in corporations, and experience poverty, unemployment, hunger, poor education, hate crimes and police harassment much higher than their share in the total population. Harassment and deportation of illegal immigrants has increased.
Women and children
Gender discrimination is widespread: women hold only 17% of seats in Congress, receive lower pay and experience discrimination in promotion. More than 17 million women live in poverty. More than two million US women are victims of domestic violence annually; nearly one in five US women have been raped and one in four has experienced serious physical violence from an intimate partner.
Poverty amongst children has reached a record level – over 20 per cent. 1.6 million children live on the street. In the past decade more than 20,000 US children have been killed by family members, and more than 1 million each year are victims of child abuse. Infant mortality is 6.7 per 1,000 live births. Black babies are more than twice as likely as white babies to die before reaching the age of one.
Violations of human rights against other nations
The US has a record of conducting experiments on unsuspecting people in other countries, exposing them to infectious diseases, radiation, interrogation techniques and withholding treatment. ‘Humanitarian interventions’ in other countries are typically accompanied by extensive civilian deaths. In Iraq over 100,000 civilians were killed, and it is estimated that in Afghanistan, civilian casualties will exceed 31,000. These wars are invariably accompanied by numerous atrocities which are blamed on individuals or ‘bad apples’.
The report concludes its litany of the US ‘dismal record’ on human rights: ‘The US own tarnished human rights record has made it in no condition, on a moral, political or legal basis, the act as the world’s “human rights justice,” to place iself above other countries and release the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse and blame other countries.’
Steve Palmer US correspondent