Scandal at the United Nations

On March 20, 2017, a scandal occurred at the so-called United Nations Human Rights Council. On that day, sinister dictatorships joined forces in order to silence a defense of human rights.

On 20 March 2017, Hillel Neuer spoke for the organization UN Watch at the so-called Human Rights Council:

“Today we ask: Is the world living up to the Vienna Declaration, which reaffirms basic human rights?

We ask the government of Turkish President Erdogan, if it cares about human rights, why did they just fire more than one hundred thousand teachers, university deans, judges, prosecutors, religious figures and public servants?

We ask Pakistan, when will they release Asia Bibi, the innocent, Christian mother of five, now on death row on the absurd charge of blasphemy?

We ask Saudi Arabia, when will you end gender apartheid? When will you stop oppressing all religious practice that is not Wahhabist Islam? When will you release Raif Badawi, serving 10 years in prison for the crime of advocating a free society? We welcome the Secretary-General’s new pledge of UN reform. That is why today, pursuant to Article 8 of Resolution 60/251, we call for the complete removal of Saudi Arabia from this Council.

So long as 1.3 billion people are denied their basic freedoms, we call for the removal of China. So long as human rights are abused by Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, and UAE, we call for their removal.

So long as the Maduro government imprisons democracy leaders like Mayor Antonio Ledezma of Caracas, and causes its millions of citizens to scavenge for food, we call for the removal of Venezuela.

So long as the Castro government jails Eduardo Cardet, a prisoner of conscience, we call for the complete removal of Cuba from this Council…”

The Cuban representative couldn’t retrain himself and interrupted. He was followed by a number of representatives of other nations who discussed for thirteen minutes whether the so-called Human Rights Council should even have hear such criticism.

Cuba explained that the members of the Human Rights Council had been elected, and therefore UN Watch should be called to order! Bangladesh criticized the language of UN Watch as „not only unacceptable, it is abhorrent”.

Bangladesh doesn’t consider reported violations of human rights as unacceptable and abhorent, but instead emphasized that the organization UN Watch itself was seriously worrying and its continued participation is „not desirable“.

Venezuela agreed with Cuba and Bangladesh, that UN Watch has nothing to do with the promotion of human rights. „We therefore reject the fact that this political body (which) violates the spirit of cooperation that needs to prevail in our work.”

Pakistan said that UN Watch doesn’t respect the honor of the Council which should always be at the top of the Council’s agenda.

After Pakistan, the United States, without addressing the content of UN Watch’s statements, stated that the organization should be allowed to speak further.

China said the allegations were „completely unacceptable“.

The United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Canada seconded the right for UN Watch to speak. Saudi Arabia and Iran opposed. Lithuania stated that non-governmental organizations are a valuable part of dialogue, so they should be allowed to talk. Germany agreed. Bolivia, on the other hand, agreed with Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia:

„We are not questioning freedom of expression, it is the content of what has been said which discredits the NGO. We are clear in how this NGO operates. Thank you.“

After an interruption lasting over 13 minutes, the vice-president of the Human Rights Council addressed the “distinguished members of the Council”:

“We have wasted more than 10 minutes, we listened to fifteen countries whether to allow UN Watch to continue with this statement. We need all to recognize that we are short of time in this session. So with that in mind, we need to work in an efficient manner, to finish the agenda. I ask the representative of UN Watch to continue with his statement. He has 10 seconds left. But I will ask him to stay in line with the language that we have in this Council and respect member States and more importantly to respect the Council itself.“

Only ten seconds! How can one respond adequately in ten seconds after over ten minutes of aggressive attacks by member nations and a reprimand by the chairman? Hillel Neuer needed however only nine seconds:

„Mr. President, we have the right to cite the suspension provision of this Council’s own charter. They can silence human rights defenders at home, but they cannot do so at the United Nations.“

On 20 March 2017, countries such as Saudi Arabia and China were worried about human rights violations within their own borders being addressed, although five days earlier, on 15 March 2017, they themselves were not very squeamish about pointing out the human rights violations in other member States.

Egypt accused Great Britain of massive human rights violations. Venezuela accused some member states of the European Union of xenophobia and racism, without forgetting to promote itself as an example of a just society. China also praised its own „exemplary“ respect for human rights, but criticized racism in the USA. Russia indignantly pointed out racism in the US, France and Germany, emphasizing that sexual violence is particularly high in Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain and the USA. Syria said that people are being protected in Aleppo. Iran pointed out that Israel was in fact the root cause of the crisis in Syria. North Korea agreed that Israel was to „blame for systematic violations of human rights“ creating crisis in the Arab territories near Syria. Hillel Neuer found the right response to this farce:

“Mr. President, let the record show that everything we just heard from some of the world’s worst human rights abusers has no basis in law or in fact. When will this U.N. Council live up to its own Charter and address the real human rights abuses taking place in the following regions:

In Afghanistan: Misogyny.
In Algeria: Excessive force.
In Belarus: Authoritarianism.
In Burundi: Genocide warning.
In Cambodia: Violence against women.
In Central African Republic: Sexual abuses by peacekeepers.
In China: Denial of basic freedoms.
In Congo: Child labor.
In Cuba: Dictatorship.
In Ecuador: Suppression of dissent.
In Egypt: Extra-judicial killings.
In Eritrea: Forced labor.
In Ethiopia: Arbitrary killings.
In Haiti: Chronic corruption.
In Iran: Torture.
In Iraq: Militia killings.
In Laos: Abuse of prisoners.
In Lebanon: Hezbollah atrocities.
In Libya: Mass killings.
In Malaysia: Police killings.
In Maldives: Jailing of opposition.
In Mali: Torture.
In Mauritania: Slavery.
In Morocco: Unfree judiciary.
In Myanmar: Violence against minorities.
In Nigeria: Extra-judicial killings.
In North Korea: Forced labor camps.
In Pakistan: Death penalty for blasphemy.
In Panama: Corruption.
In Qatar: Slave labor.
In Russia: Persecution of dissidents.
In Saudi Arabia: Beheadings.
In Sri Lanka: Arbitrary arrests.
In Sudan: Bombing of civilians.
In Syria: Massacre of civilians.

Mr. President, when will the world hear about the real human right abuses?”

The Human Rights Council, however, had more urgent matters to concern itself with. Instead of addressing the human rights violations cited by Hillel Neuer, the Council preferred to concentrate on a single country, which has been criticized more than all other countries combined. That country is Israel, the Jew among nations. The allegations against Israel were apartheid, crimes against humanity, extremism, terrorism and the “Jewification” of Jerusalem. The latter is obviously considered a crime at the United Nations. Here, too, Hillel Neuer found the right words:

“Mr. President, let me begin by putting the following on the record: Everything we just heard — from the world’s worst abusers of human rights, of women’s rights, of freedom of religion, of the press, of assembly, of speech — is absolutely false; and, indeed, Orwellian.“

This speech was also interrupted by Egypt and Pakistan. Hillel Neuer, however, continued unimpressed:

“Israel’s 1.5 million Arabs, whatever challenges they face, enjoy full rights to vote and to be elected in the Knesset, they work as doctors and lawyers, they serve on the Supreme Court.

Now I’d like to ask the members of that commission that commissioned that report, the Arab states from which we just heard – Egypt, Iraq, and the others: How many Jews live in your countries? How many Jews lived in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco?

Once upon a time, the Middle East was full of Jews. Algeria had 140,000 Jews. Algeria, where are your Jews? Egypt used to have 75,000 Jews. Where are your Jews? Syria, you had tens of thousands of Jews. Where are your Jews? Iraq, you had over 135,000 Jews. Where are your Jews?

Mr. President, where is the apartheid? Why is there a U.N. commission on the Middle East that does not include Israel? From the 1960s and the ‘70s they refuse to include Israel. Where is the apartheid, Mr. President? Mr. President, why are we meeting today on an agenda item singling out only one State, the Jewish State, for targeting. Where is the apartheid, Mr. President?“

After this speech, the so-called Human Rights Council fell silent. It was the most genuine silence at the United Nations in a long, long time.


Translation: William Wires

Über tapferimnirgendwo

Als Theatermensch spiele, schreibe und inszeniere ich für diverse freie Theater. Im Jahr 2007 erfand ich die mittlerweile europaweit erfolgreiche Bühnenshow „Kunst gegen Bares“. Als Autor verfasse ich Theaterstücke, Glossen und Artikel. Mit meinen Vorträgen über Heinrich Heine, Hedwig Dohm und dem von mir entwickelten Begriff des „Nathankomplex“ bin ich alljährlich unterwegs. Und Stand Up Comedian bin ich auch. Mein Lebensmotto habe ich von Kermit, dem Frosch: „Nimm, was Du hast und flieg damit!
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