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UN Watch Briefing

Issue 422

Communist regime lashes out, accuses UN Watch of being "paid for and financed by the U.S government," says it "lacks credibility and legitimacy"

• The Washington Post editorial board reports today (see below) on UN Watch's clash with Cuba and its allies, and endorses the call for an inquiry—submitted by UN Watch with the signatures of more than 50 world figures—into the death of dissident Oswaldo Paya.

• In today's daily UN press briefing, the spokesman of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed receiving UN Watch's appeal for an inquiry, and said that human rights officials will be following up with representatives of Oswaldo Paya's family.

• YouTube now has the video from yesterday's UNHRC debate where UN Watch exposed the phony "Right to Peace" initiative now being enshrined by the Human Righrs Council at the behest of Cuba and Syria's murderous regimeTranscipt below.

 

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Following is yesterday's speech by executive director Hillel Neuer in the UN Human Rights Council plenary, which provoked a scathing response from the Cuban delegate. Click for video.

"When Murderers Bring Us the Right to Peace"

Mr. President, at its 20th session, on 5 July 2012, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 20/15 by which it established a working group to negotiate a draft declaration on “The Right to Peace.”

Let us be clear: To promote peace, the international community does not need more resolutions; it needsresolution.

Article 1 of the United Nations Charter enshrines the maintenance of peace as its first purpose. That is why we were concerned to see the Council’s scarce time and resources diverted from addressing urgent country situations in order to deal with this questionable exercise.

What does "the right to peace" mean?

Let us refer to the interpretation of one of the co-sponsors of last year’s resolution, Syria.

In its statement to the working group three weeks ago, Syria said: “We all agree that the right to peace is not only a basic and necessary right, but is in fact inseparable from the most fundamental right, which is the right to life.”

Mr. President, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that over 70,000 men, women and children have been killed in Syria. If the contemplated Declaration on The Right to Peace is consistent with the Assad government’s particular interpretation and implementation of the right to life, does it add or detract from the UN charter? Does it benefit or harm humanity?

Let us also refer to the chief sponsor of the resolutionCuba—which said it “reaffirms the right to peace as a fundamental condition for the enjoyment of all human rights, in particular the right to life.”

However, when this country spoke this week in defense of North Korea, they invoked that entity’s “right to peace.”

Mr. President, i
f the right to peace is equivalent to North Korea’s particular interpretation of the right to life, will this benefit humanity? Will this add to the United Nations Charter?

If the countries committing the most egregious, gross, and systematic human rights violations known to mankind are the ones invoking the right to peace, do we need it? Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT: I was informed of the fact that the Cuban delegation has asked for the floor, in exercise of its right of reply. I therefore give the floor to Cuba.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

CUBA (Ms. Yurmika Fernadez Palacio): Thank you, Mr. President. Making use of the right of reply I would like to respond to the unfounded allegations put forward by the organization United Nations Watch, which once again lacks in credibility and legitimacy in this Council, when it refers to Cuba as a country which violates human rights.

We would like to recall at this juncture that this is an organization paid for and financed by the government of the Unites States, which has openly maintained a media war, and a war of all kinds, against the revolution in Cuba.

Cuba has the right to invoke of course and to defend the right to peace. As a way of standing up to the wars of conquest and plundering that have been waged by Western countries, headed up by the biggest hegemonistic power, as a result of which myriad civilian lives of men, women, and children, have been lost.And one must therefore consider that the right to peace is fundamental. It must be defended, it must be protected. There should be a declaration on it.

And the working group is working, and is working appropriately. Therefore, we roundly reject the accusations put forward by this phony NGO concerning what Cuba has said, in its statements on DPRK [North Korea] and statements on the right to peace, which we believe should be promoted and defended, even though this does not suit these NGOs. Thank you very much.

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Obama administration should urge a probe of Oswaldo Payá death

By Editorial Board, Thursday, March 14

NELSON MANDELA was locked up on Robben Island. Andrei Sakharov was exiled to Gorky. Vaclav Havel was thrown into a Prague jail cell. Aung San Suu Kyi was repeatedly placed under house arrest. All of these courageous, dissident voices were muffled at some time by authoritarian regimes, but in the end, they found their way back to freedom. Oswaldo Payá of Cuba never got that chance.

Mr. Payá, who pioneered the Varela Project, a petition drive in 2002 seeking the guarantee of political freedom in Cuba, was killed in a car wreck July 22, along with a youth activist, Harold Cepero. The driver of the vehicle, Ángel Carromero, a Spaniard, was convicted and imprisoned on charges of vehicular homicide; in December, he was released to Spain. He told us in an interview published on the opposite page last week that the car carrying Mr. Payá was rammed from behind by a vehicle with government license plates. His recollections suggest that Mr. Payá died not from reckless driving but from a purposeful attempt to silence him — forever.

On Wednesday, his daughter, Rosa Maria Payá, appeared before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Speaking for the group U.N. Watch, Ms. Payá presented an appeal signed by 46 activists and political leaders from around the world, urging the United Nations to launch an international and independent investigation into Mr. Payá’s death. The signatories declared, “Mounting and credible allegations that the Cuban government may have been complicit in the murder of its most prominent critic, a leading figure in the human rights world, cannot go ignored by the international community.”

The Varela Project was summarily and arbitrarily crushed by Fidel Castro. Ms. Payá told the council that Cuban authorities imprisoned the majority of its leaders. She said that Yosvani Melcho Rodriguez, 30, has spent three years in prison as punishment for his mother being a member of the movement with Mr. Payá.
Ms. Payá was interrupted in Geneva by the Cuban representative, who accused her of being a “mercenary who has dared to come to this room.” His attempt to silence her drew support from China, Russia, Pakistan, Nicaragua and Belarus. The U.S. representative spoke up for her right to address the group. She was then allowed to finish. [Video]

After Mr. Payá’s death, the White House paid tribute to him, saying, “We continue to be inspired by Payá’s vision and dedication to a better future for Cuba, and believe that his example and moral leadership will endure.” When pro-democracy activists were arrested and beaten at his funeral, the White House again spoke up. But in the past week, since Mr. Carromero’s interview was published, the administration has not uttered a word. What if it had been Sakharov, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mandela or Havel who was run off the road? Would it have said nothing? At this critical juncture, with new information at hand, the United States ought not to be complicit in silence about who killed Oswaldo Payá.

Source: The Washington Post  





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