Condemned for rights abuses, Venezuela to join UN rights council
|ON THE ATTACK: Venezuelan exile Eligio Cedeno, UN Watch director Hillel Neuer, and Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen, heading to United Nations European Headquarters to challengethe upcoming election of Hugo Chavez to the U.N.’s top human rights body. Geneva, June 27, 2012.|
GENEVA, June 28 – This afternoon UN Watch will bring Venezuela’s most-wanted man — a banker and former political prisoner who escaped the clutches of Hugo Chavez — to confront his oppressor in a plenary debate of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The high-profile appearance has already sparked interviews withCNN, Spanish news agency EFE, Agence France Presse and Canada’s National Post.
By Joshua Rapp Learn, June 28, 2012
After Venezuelan bank president Eligio Cedeno served nearly three years behind bars on charges he claims were politically motivated, UN human rights experts condemned his sentence.
The three UN rapporteurs also criticized the arrest and jailing of the judge, Maria Lourdes Afiuni, who ordered Mr. Cedeno’s release, saying punishing her for doing her job created a “climate of fear.”
Their cases have also been before the UN Human Rights Council, the same body that Venezuela — accused of numerous human rights abuses — is soon expected to join despite protests.
On Thursday, the government of Hugo Chavez will be shamed when Mr. Cedeno appears before the Human Rights Council in Geneva to ask “how they can include a country that doesn’t respect their decisions.”
He said he only wants to tell his story — “I’m a simple, humble victim of the government” — so the council can make a proper decision. More
UN Watch to Plenary: “Expel Despots from U.N. Rights Bodies”
China, Cuba & Iran: “Delete UN Watch’s Remarks from the Record”
UN Watch’s testimony yesterday to plenary of U.N. Human Rights Council:
“To the remaining tyrants and dictators around the globe, who have systematically violated the rights of their peoples, we give notice: Your time has passed. No more will the world suffer your specious arguments to justify policies and practices of abuse and repression in the name of claimed exceptions to the universality of basic human rights. We unequivocally reject such dishonest apologetics, which suit the interests of the despots, and not the interests, or ideas, of their peoples.”
“We assert that the writ of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly, continues to run through all societies, and for all times. The talk of tyrants is refuted by the cries of prisoners, who—from the dungeons of Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Tibet, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere—demand justice and freedom on the basis of these universal laws and eternal truths.”
“We call on the United Nations to continue on the path of reform, including by: suspending China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia from the UN Human Rights Council; removing Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women; and expelling Saudi Arabia from the Executive Board of UN Women…”
Reaction: China, Cuba, Iran Ask to Delete UN Watch Remarks; U.S.A. Defends UN Watch
China: UN Watch “violates in a gross manner the internal affairs and the sovereignty of the member states of the United Nations.” Such NGOs are “not qualified at all to comment or to criticize the eligibility of the members of the United Nations or the members of the Council.”
Cuba: UN Watch’s remarks “shouldn’t appear in the General Debate because its statement has nothing to do with what we are discussing today.” It “doesn’t really deal with the issues that we’re discussing today in our debate, but this NGO was allowed to end [its speech], despite the fact that I lifted my flag, because I wanted to raise my point of order then, when that statement was being made… I hope that our position is duly reflected on the topic. I think [the UN Watch statement] is outside the debate today.
Islamic Republic of Iran: “I would bring your attention, Vice-President, that this NGO speaks out of the agenda of General Debate of Item 3.”
United States of America: “We firmly believe that NGOs must be permitted to speak in the council. [While] we may disagree from time to time on the content of their statements, our view is that it is essential that civil society voices be heard here in an atmosphere of open expression. Without addressing the substance of the speaker’s statement, we are of the opinion that what we have heard of the intervention is indeed addressed to the subject matter at hand under agenda item 3. So we’d like to make sure that my statement is also on the record to that effect.”
Editor’s Note: UN Watch is grateful to the United States and all other democracies who defend the freedom of expression of human rights organizations within the United Nations.
Victim Testifies: My Dream for A Better Syria Became a Nightmare
Yesterday’s U.N. debate on Syria featured only one victim from Syria, the speaker from UN Watch. From the speech delivered by Syrian exile Ahed Alehndi at U.N. Human Rights Council debate, June 27, 2012:
This chamber just heard from one Syrian—a representative of President Assad’s government—who said his country protects human rights. I am here today, speaking on behalf of UN Watch, for the world to hear another Syrian—one who was arrested and tortured by this government. My name is Ahed Alhendi, and I am a Syrian human rights activist and blogger…
My people are continuing to be slaughtered. Words are no longer enough. Hoping for Assad to become a “reformer” is no longer a tenable position.
Was not the United Nations founded to stop genocide and other mass killings?
Was not the United Nations founded to protect the most basic of human rights, such as the right to life?
Why is the United Nations allowing a government to massacre its own people in broad daylight?
What was the United Nations thinking when it elected Syria to UNESCO’s human rights committee?
As we sit here in Geneva, in Syria men, women, and children are being killed. If we do not act now, for many it will be too late.
Thank you, Madam President.