Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 11 May 2004

Sudan seated at the rights table


By Arnold Beichman, The Washington Times

May 11, 2004 — The farce which calls itself the United Nations Human Rights Commission has just elected Sudan as one of its respected members. Sudan is an Islamic state specializing in ethnic cleansing of African blacks.

Sudan, an erstwhile British colony, is the largest country in Africa with a widely scattered population of 31 million. It was once a notorious slave state, filling ship holds with black Africans for sale to Arab potentates.

Is Sudan still engaged in slavery? In April 1996, U.N. special representative for the Sudan, Gaspar Biro, reported "an alarming increase . . . in cases of slavery, servitude, slave trade and forced labor." In June 1996, two reporters from The Baltimore Sun illegally visited the Sudan. They produced a series of articles in The Sun called "Witness to Slavery," in which they documented slavery in the Sudan. In fact, they bought two young slaves and set them free. More people have died under Sudan’s Islamic dictatorship than in Kosovo, Bosnia, Serbia and Rwanda combined.

The slave trade was outlawed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thus slavery is illegal everywhere in the world. Yet today there are more people — 27 million, by conservative estimate — enslaved worldwide than ever before. Sudan contributes to this global total.

With the election of Sudan, which is on a U.S. short list of terrorist nations, to the U.N. Human Rights Commission the time has come to examine the diminishing, even negative, role the United Nations plays in defending and broadening human rights. For how can the U.N. be anything but a barrier to democratization (which would be the end result of broadened human rights) when the enemies of freedom have so much power in the U.N. itself?

It is time for the world’s leading democracies to create their own chosen instrument for bestowing legitimacy on efforts to spread democracy throughout the world. The recommendation comes at a time when voices in the Arab world are raising the question about Islam’s negative role in the process of modernization and whether the Koran’s interpreters are impediments to democratization.

One of those voices belongs to a columnist, Abdallah Rashid, who some months ago wrote in the United Arab Emirates daily Al-Itihad: "The entire world is perplexed about us — the Arabs — and no longer knows whether we truly live on this planet or came from another planet. Are all the Arab peoples in need of psychological treatment, or are we a hopeless case for which psychological treatment will make no difference? The whole world is perplexed about us: Do the Arab peoples support democracy or not? Do they want their freedom, or have they gone into the dungeon of repression, pleased and satisfied with handcuffs on their wrists, bonds of steel on their ankles, and prisoner’s collars about their necks? The entire world is perplexed about us. Do we really seek our freedoms and attempt to rid ourselves of ages of oppression, deprivation and domination?"

The answer to these questions is simple for Sudan’s rulers and their Islamic National Front. They do not support democracy. The only freedom they favor is their own and they seek to make permanent oppression, deprivation and domination over the non-Islamic population which is Christian or animist. How can the G-8 countries — U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the European Union — allow their policies to be influenced in any way by a U.N. many of whose 191 members repudiate the lofty principles of the U.N. Charter?

Just as he had done a year ago when Cuba won membership on the U.N. commission, Sichan Siv, the American delegate, walked out of the U.N. chamber when Sudan was elected to the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission. In doing so, Mr. Siv told the New York Times: "The United States will not participate in this absurdity. Our delegation will absent itself from the meeting rather than lend support to Sudan’s candidacy."

Isn’t it time for the democracies to put an end to this nonsense? Isn’t it time for President Bush to order an end to our participation in the theatre of the absurd known as the Commission on Human Rights and thereby bestowing by a fake majority vote legitimacy on tyranny?

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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