Are they a human right tool or a human rights violation ?
By: Bassem Eid
Sanctions could be
considered of the most severe and dangerous punishments that a
country may face, specially that such a measure is always taken
against either a poor or a developing country. And the question
that we may ask is: Who decides these sanctions? Is it the
international community, or the legal organizations, or the UN,
or a superpower like the USA, for example.
After the human rights subject
has become the issue of the present time, our world today is
trying to politicize this subject and divert it to serve its
needs, wishes and interests. The Un today represents governments
not peoples or human rights organizations, this fact in turn
make us suspect the UN’s credibility and its protection of human
rights. Instead of maintaining and conserving the human rights
of the peoples, they have become like hostages for the policy of
oppression of the UN that became a tool to practice pressure
instead of providing assistance to nations that face racial
expurgation, or compulsory deportation.
Calling for imposing sanctions
differs in its content according to the party suggesting that;
there is a great difference between a legal rights organization
who seeks to limit and fight injustice and aggression against
humanity, and what they call “countries that sponsor peace”,
those states that pretend they want to stop bloodshed, violence
and wars, by spreading terror and fear against poor countries
and degrading them, without paying any notice to decisions of
the UN, and referring to the right of Veto when things don’t go
in step with their interests or policies.
The Question to be asked: When
to call for sanctions? And what is the background that deserves
such a severe measure? Are those sanctions meeting a genuine
international demand, or do they fulfill indirect objectives?
The crisis of Iraq and what the
people of Iraq are facing is an obvious evidence on the
partiality of the UN, and its absolute silence and ignorance of
the American aggression that is not justified. Did the imposing
of sanctions against Iraq come because of the dictatorship of
the regime or because the Iraqi opposition is being suppressed
and have no refuge inside Iraq?
Did they impose the sanctions
because of the suppression and complete darkness inside Iraq, or
because of the corruption and bad performance of the regime?
Was it because Iraq occupied
Kuwait, or because Iraq withdrew from Kuwait?
Or was it because Iraq possessed
modern technology that threatened the regional stability?
Of course, such standards do not
apply for Israel, that has the same powers and abilities, and
even more, and we hear nothing against it, not even a
condemnation…it is a clear double standard policy!
When a long war broke our
between Iraq and Iran, and lasted for seven years, we didn’t see
any superpower then calling for the “protection of rights”, not
even from the UN. Hundreds of thousands, including thousands of
children died, with no sanctions imposed against any party, and
no assistance given either.
The American Secretary of State
then, Henri Kessinger, said: “Let the children play with guns!”
… I personally see sanctions as a tool for human rights if the
background was that human rights were violated, otherwise they
could be considered a human rights violation.
I myself called for this
measure, sanctions, to be taken against the Palestinian
Authority in July 1994, when they closed an-Nahar
newspaper at that time. This request was considered very serious
by the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people who
reacted very violently against me neglecting the fact that I am
a human being who has the right to express his opinion. They
attacked me with all kind of charges like saying I was a
collaborator and a traitor who worked for enemy countries. But
when I repeated this request in following years on various
occasions, I didn’t face the same reactions.
Yet, we should differentiate
here between such a request coming from a legal rights
organization, and the request that came out from the American
Congress calling for sanctions to be taken against the
Palestinian Authority because it was abusing human rights,
simply because this call wasn’t really intended to preserve the
rights of the Palestinians, but to make the Palestinian
Authority submit to the Israeli and American dictations. And
when was the American Congress interested in reserving the
rights of the Palestinians who suffered from Israeli violations
of demolishing houses, killing people, torture, brutality and
aggression for more than 30 years without hearing a condemnation
from the same Congress?!
No one should suspect in my
calling for sanctions against the PA because I intended to
protect the rights of the Palestinian people that were violated
repeatedly by Israel in previous years.
In the year 1993, Human Rights
Watch organization issued a report covering the activities of
the “under-cover special Israeli units” in the years 1988-1992,
during the days of the Palestinian Uprising “Itifada”. A
delegation from that organization met with the American
President George Bush and presented the report to him and asked
him to impose sanctions on Israel until it announces the
stopping of activities of these special units, and consider them
illegal, and punish those responsible for the killing of tens of
Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. But President Bush
didn’t make a move, and neither did members of the Congress who
probably didn’t have time to read the report.
Imposing sanctions on countries
may disturb some local legal rights organizations who may act to
prevent that on the basis that this measure could harm the
economy of that country whose people would suffer as victims of
these sanctions that are seen as an international collective
punishment. What happened recently in Indonesia, is an example
of this, where the local Indonesian human rights organizations
demanded a delay in imposing sanctions. This claim could be true
if the reasons for sanctions were pure political, otherwise
sanctions that are imposed are mostly against countries with
corrupted regimes whose leaders try their best to capture the
abilities and fortunes of its people, and such a measure when
taken doesn’t really affect all the classes of the people.
The question that should always
be asked: Who is calling for sanctions? And the reason for that;
is it to enable forming a democratic system to replace
dictatorship and oppression? Or is it because a certain party
refused to apply some peace agreement that was achieved? Or is
it to evacuate some occupying power from a country whose people
long for independence and sovereignty? Or maybe to allow some
individual governor to have power in order to control the
fortunes of a nation?
These questions deserve
discussion because they raise some important ideas, and such a
discussion may make us look into the issue of sanctions from a
different angle, this in turn may make us understand the
suffering of the people some nations in the region who face the
nightmare of what they call democracy and human rights, while in
reality, it is a human rights violation.