LA Times is Wrong on Cuba * Putin’s Promises * UN’s Ziegler: “Finally, the truth comes out!”


Re: “Time to include Cuba,” Los Angeles Times Editorial, April 17

To the Editor:

In criticizing the United States for excluding Cuba from the Summit of the Americas, you argued that “engagement, not isolation, is the best way to encourage change.” Cuba’s record in other international forums demonstrates the opposite.

In 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Council elected Cuba as a member and then dropped Havana from its watch list. In return for this engagement, Cuba has vehemently opposed efforts to scrutinize abuses by China, Iran, Sudan, Syria and other repressive regimes. Cuba takes a leading role in sponsoring resolutions that justify terrorism and advocate cultural relativism instead of universal human rights.

Should Raul Castro’s communist government really be given another forum to subvert?

Hillel C. Neuer, Geneva
The writer is executive director of U.N. Watch.


Putin Promised Free Speech, But Russia Imprisons Pro-Democracy Bloggers

To the Editor:

Russia’s alarming restrictions on internet freedom, including the imprisonment of pro-democracy bloggers (Nervous Kremlin seeks to take back control, 16 April), are inconsistent with its membership of the UN Human Rights Council. When he first became president in 1999, Vladimir Putin promised to defend freedom of speech. When he returns to the post next month, Putin would do well to honour his word – and that of his country.

Hillel C Neuer
Executive director, UN Watch, Geneva


Translated from original French

Sense of the Theatrical

Dear Editor,

Well, well, the truth finally comes out! Thanks to a Swiss TV broadcast and the letter to the editor of Mr. Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch (Tribune de Genève, March 30 [see below]).

Fifteen years ago, during a public roundtable organized by a Geneva association for the release of one of his books, Jean Ziegler called me a liar because I had mentioned his central role in founding the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize.

After another speaker confirmed my statement, Mr. Ziegler grabbed his coat and pretended to leave the room, crying slander. I admired his sense of theater: the organizer of the meeting had to beg him to return by presenting him with profound apologies.

Francoise Buffat
Vandoeuvres, Switzerland


March 30, 2012
Translated from French original

Jean Ziegler’s Rejected Application

Dear Editor,

Your report that Jean Ziegler “withdrew his candidacy” is contradicted by the United Nations itself. (“Ziegler Renonce,” Tribune de Genève, 26 Mars 2012).

According to the UN Human Right Council website, Jean Ziegler applied for the Cuban-sponsored post of UN expert on the “equitable international order,” but was the only one of four applicants not to have been even invited for an interview. The documents say nowhere that he “withdrew.”

On the contrary. In his 9-page application, Ziegler declared: “I am personally very motivated to assume this mandate.” He stressed his strong desire to “participate in the promotion of the justiciability of all human rights within the normative framework of the United Nations.” He emphasized to the UN that he would have six weeks per year to tour the world on country visits.

When Ziegler ran for a UN post in 2008, his friend and fellow socialist Micheline Calmy-Rey (the former Swiss Foreign Minister) lobbied capitals around the globe on his behalf. Her departure from the scene apparently hurt him this time.

Perhaps more damaging was that in the past year Ziegler lost any remaining credibility after Swiss TV, basing itself on UN Watch’s reports, exposed his long-time propaganda activities on behalf of Libya’s Qaddafi regime, including Ziegler’s central role in creating the “Muammar Qaddafi Prize for Human Rights.” Shortly thereafter, the Salzburg Festival canceled Ziegler’s keynote address. Now the UN has finally followed suit.

Hillel Neuer
Executive Director, UN Watch


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