UNPUBLISHED RESPONSE TO IRISH TIMES COMMENT AGAINST IAWM PRO IN EDITORIAL

Sir,

the Irish Times editorial (‘Ireland’s Vocation’, Saturday 08 December) claims our observations on the OSCE gathering in Dublin last week miss the point. An honest portrayal of our Press Release issued last Thursday would challenge such an assertion.

The OSCE gathering is even more ironic given that, as Mary Fitzgerald reports (08 December), member states failed “to agree any decisions in the area of human rights and civil liberties”. Ironic too is the fact that peaceful protesters in Dublin were not allowed their democratic right to protest by the Guards on Thursday evening.

The sorry fact is that the claims made by the OSCE on its website regarding concerns for “human rights, conflict resolution, ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources and promoting the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms” are just not credible given the practices of the participating countries. Such practices include the widespread abuse of human rights, restrictions of free speech and media activity, use of torture, harassment of NGOs, support for dictatorships and the proliferation of warfare and nuclear weapons.

Some of these human rights abuses are noted in the Irish Times (Member states Human Rights concerns, 06 December) but this fails to mention for example that Uzbekistan’s torture regime was fully supported by the US and British Governments. We would not know about the practice of President Karimov’s penchant for boiling his victims to death were it not for the brave whistle-blowing of British Ambassador Craig Murray who was subsequently hounded out of his job by the British establishment, as revealed in his book Murder in Samarkand.

Human rights abuses are common across the membership of the OSCE from Britain to the Russian Federation and from Tajikistan to the USA and Israel.

Think of the illegal and immoral wars indulged in by the US, Britain and NATO countries and the continued use of drone attacks in the killing of countless civilians. Last Wednesday five members of a family, two of them teachers, were killed in an air strike conducted by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the Wanth Waigal district of eastern Nuristan in Afghanistan (http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2012/12/05/). The Irish Government is clearly implicated in this barbarity since seven Irish soldiers are serving under ISAF in Afghanistan. Is Ireland’s complicity in these types of barbaric acts an expression of its ‘active neutrality’?

Or think of the promotion of extrajudicial killings by the US government. Or the unashamed use of torture and the support that major western Governments give to dictatorships. Hilary Clinton’s government would happily have seen the continuation of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorial regime. Now her Government, along with Britain, is openly supporting a barbaric regime in Saudi Arabia, who helped last year to suppress pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, the home of the US fifth fleet. The US and Britain are falling over each other to sell arms to this dictatorship while threatening to start yet another war in the region, this time with Iran.

The most obvious case of human rights abuse is in Palestine, yet the Israeli delegation was openly welcomed at this gathering despite it's daily subjugation of the Palestinian people, its recent devastating military assault on Gaza and its announcement of yet more illegal settlements on Palestinian lands in the West Bank. The primary reason Israel gets away with its horrific mistreatment of and denial of human rights to the Palestinians is the unconditional support given by Western Governments, particularly the US and Britain, for its apartheid policies.

Wikileaks has contributed more to promoting the cause of human rights than any of these Governments yet we have seen the horrific treatment in prison of Private Bradley Manning in the USA (elected Guardian person of the year by its readers on Saturday) and the practical imprisonment and harassment of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Rather than missing the point, the IAWM has its finger on the pulse of campaigns seeking human rights for all throughout the world, campaigns for human rights that organisations like the OSCE seek to fudge. Social and foreign policy in countries such as the USA, Britain and Russia, is not set by the needs of human rights and security but by the prerogatives of geo-political advantage and the needs of industrial military complexes, both driven by tiny elites within these countries. This needs to change in order to achieve true human rights and real security worldwide.

The OSCE, like that other monster NATO, should be disbanded and the savings made utilised for genuine projects in exposing human rights abuses and not big expensive charades like the one hosted by Irish taxpayers last week.

Yours etc.

JIM ROCHE,
PRO Steering Committee,
Irish Anti War Movement,
PO Box 9260,
Dublin 1.