The world has no lack of totalitarian regimes that slaughter their own people. We are hardly surprised to read about the oppression and cruelty suffered by millions around the world. The irony strikes us, however, when these regimes intend to join the United Nations Human Rights Council. Like ivory hunters gathered at the elephant's anti-poaching club, terror and human rights don't mix well.
Syria's government has killed at least 350 demonstrators since its pro-democracy protests began last month, yet Syria expects to win a seat on the UN Human Rights Council when elections are held May 20. In a historical move, UNHRC did suspend Libya's membership in March because of Libya's poor human rights record. It seems bizarre, therefore, to replace Libya with Syria. What was the point of bothering to toss out Libya?
Fifty human rights groups have signed an appeal to stop Syria from being elected to the UN Human Rights Council for obvious reasons. Syria has shamelessly murdered hundreds of civilians during the past month, battering groups that dare petition their government for greater freedom. Syria has also been classified as a state sponsor of terrorism because it constantly supports the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Non-governmental organization UN Watch is leading the crusade to block Syria's election. UN Watch and partnering organizations have taken the wild position that countries on the Human Rights Council should actually demonstrate some concern for human rights.
On Monday, the Syrian government sent tanks rolling into the city of Dara'a from four directions, cutting off electricity and killing at least 25 people that were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Snipers shot at civilians from house tops, and bodies reportedly lay strewn in the streets with no ambulances called to get them. According to TIME, nine soldiers have been confirmed dead recently, including five officers, but rights activists claim the soldiers were killed because they refused to follow orders to shoot civilians.
Iran may be involved in the violence against the Syrian people. Syrian opposition sources claim that the snipers were sent by Tehran. Syria has long been an Iranian ally – or puppet – used both to divide the Arab world between the Sunnis and Shiites and, of course, to fight Israel.
The Assad regime is important to Iran, and under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran has made its presence felt in Syria. Iran has opened "Islamic Cultural Centres" across Syria, and the mullah missionaries have been sent in to teach the Syrian people to be good Shiites.
Syrian dissidents and victims will arrive for a press conference at the UN headquarters on May 19th, backed by UN Watch and the much-signed petition with the goal of stopping Syria's election.
Not that Syria hasn't said the right things. After it was nominated by the Asian Group and its nomination was endorsed by the Arab League, Syria issued a statement, "pledging to uphold the highest standards in promotion and protection of human rights ... and fundamental freedoms…Syria considers that the protection of human dignity and fundamental rights are the basis of freedom, justice and peace."
That's very nice.
The fact is that many of the 47 nations on the Human Rights Council are well known abusers of civil rights. Yet, while they mow down their own people, the countries on the council have long attacked Israel.
"Choosing Syria to be a global judge of human rights would be like appointing Bernard Madoff to defend victims of financial fraud," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based monitoring group. "It's a moral outrage."
"If Syria is elected to the UN Human Rights Council, it will be yet one more indication of an organization that has totally lost its moral clarity and betrayed the lofty ideals on which it was founded," Advancing Human Rights executive director David Keyes said. "Allowing one of the worst human rights violators in the world to join a body dedicated to upholding human rights would be comical, if it wasn't so sad. The Syrian dictatorship is slaughtering civilians in the streets by the hundreds and arresting them by the thousands. Is there anything at all that would disqualify one from serving on the Human Rights Council?"
If Syria does win a seat on the council, it will not say much about Syria. However, it will say a great deal about the UN.
Related Links: The Tehran-Damascus Axis - The Wall Street Journal