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The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2002 ( Part Three) (04/03/03)

VII. Blunt Violations of Human Rights in Other Countries
The United States is following unilateralism in international affairs and has frequently committed blunt violations of human rights in other countries.
Regardless of the strong call for no war from the international community, the United States, together with a few other countries, launched a war against Iraq on March 20, 2003. The war, which has openly violated the purpose and principles of the UN Charter, has caused casualties of innocent Iraqi civilians and serious humanitarian disasters.
During its air attacks against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2002, the US troops dropped nearly a quarter-million cluster bomblets and raided a number of non-military targets, causing heavy civilian casualties. The Time newsweekly disclosed civilians killed in the Afghan war had exceeded 3,000.
The cluster bombs also left an estimated 12,400 explosive duds that continue to take civilian lives to this day (Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and Their Use By the United States in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch, Dec. 18, 2002). In 2001 the US bombing of Mudoh village reduced the local population to 100 from 250 and leveled all buildings in the village to the ground. A similar attack on Kakrakai village in central Afghanistan on July 1, 2002 left at least 54 civilians dead and more than 100 others injured (Newsweek, July 22, 2002).
The rights and interests of prisoners of war (POWs) were also violated. According to CNN (Cable News Network), a total of 12,000 Taliban fighters were reported to have been captured since the US launched its military action in Afghanistan, but only 3,500 to 4,000 of them survived. It was found that these POWs were locked into unventilated steel shipping containers after their capture, and many of them died of sweltering heat, suffocation or extreme thirst en route to the prison. Numerous mass graves in which the bodies of the dead POWs were dumped have been found in Afghanistan.   
There are also evidence of US troops' involvement in the shipping of the POWs. In November 2001, some 1,000 Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters who had surrendered in the northern Afghan city of Konduz died on their way to the prison after they were packed tightly into unventilated container trucks (Washington, Aug. 18, 2002, AFP).
According to media reports, in 2002 the United States was holding more than 600 detainees from 42 countries, mostly captured during the Afghan war, in its military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. However, the detainees were denied "prisoner of war" status by the US government and therefore faced uncertainty of their futures.
It was unclear for how long they would remain in custody or what kind of treatment they would receive. These detainees were allegedly confined for 24 hours a day to small cells and were not allowed to meet their families or lawyers. Former Al-Qaeda members were also subject to torture or other forms of maltreatment.
Hundreds of thousands of US troops are stationed overseas, and such troops have committed crimes and human rights abuses wherever they stay. Each year US troops stationed in the Republic of Korea (ROK) are caught responsible for more than 400 traffic accidents, but only less than 10 cases would go for trial in ROK courts.
On June 13, 2002, two US soldiers driving an armored vehicle crushed two 14-year-old South Korean girls to death, but both offenders were acquitted by a US military tribunal in November. On Sept. 2, three other US soldiers in Kyonggi-do, ROK, started a tussle on a road, and they deliberately smashed a taxi car parked on the roadside and beat up its Korean driver.
Earlier reports said six American soldiers stationed in the ROK were charged with sexual harassment, assault and scuffle after drinking.
The US troops in Okinawa, Japan has long been notorious for its constant involvement in criminal cases such as arson and rape. Investigation shows that after World War II US soldiers have committed more than 300 sex crimes in Okinawa, with over 130 rape cases reported since 1972.
In the wee hours of Jan. 7, 2002, Frederick Thompson, a US Navy marine stationed in Okinawa, was arrested by local police on charges of trespassing on private property after he broke into the apartment of a 24-year-old woman. On Dec. 3 the same year, the police department of Okinawa prefecture issued an arrest warrant against Major Michael Brown of the US Marine Corps, who was accused of attempted rape and damaging of private articles, but the US side refused to hand him over to the police department. (Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 15, 2002)
According to a news report in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo of April 1, 2002, there are more than 52,000 illegitimate children in the Philippines fathered by US marines stationed in this Southeast Asian country before 1991. Recently tens of Filipino teenage girls, some of them not yet 13, were sent to Mindanao in southern Philippines, to entertain US marines stationed there.

VIII. Double Standards in International Field of Human Rights
The United States, taking a negative attitude toward the international human rights conventions, is one of the only two countries in the world that have not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. To date, it hasn't ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which have got ratification from or accession of most countries in the world.
In 2002, the United States shrank remarkably from its previous stance on international human rights affairs. It used to ask for the removal of any text in UN draft resolutions that involved human rights conventions which all countries were expected to observe or the US government had not yet ratified, on the pretext of the US being not a state party to these conventions. When its request was rejected, the United States would ask for a separate voting on the text, or even cast the only dissenting vote. In July 2002, the United States withdrew a 34-million-dollar contribution it had promised to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), forcing the UNFPA to cancel its projects of assistance to women in countries like Burundi, Algeria, Haiti and India.
The United States has been releasing annually Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, censuring other countries for their human rights situations, but it has turned a blind eye to serious violations of human rights on its own soil. This double standard on human rights issues cannot but meet with strong rejection and opposition worldwide, leaving the United States more and more isolated in the international community.


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