The US should look at the human rights situation in its territory first!

by Jubeda Chowdhury

The United States imposed sanctions on several companies and individuals in China, Myanmar, and North Korea on December 10, 2021, on ‘International Human Rights Day to protect human rights ( so called) in the world. On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the US Treasury Department has announced the imposition of sanctions on the assets of 15 individuals and 10 organizations in various countries for serious human rights violations. The United States has also imposed sanctions on Bangladesh’s Special Police Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and six of its officers.

Bangladesh has expressed dissatisfaction over the US sanctions. The US ambassador to Dhaka, Earl R. Miller, had been summoned to the State Department today to express his dissatisfaction. Millions of people go missing in the United States each year, but the US government does not know how to solve this problem. The US police kill thousands of people every year in the line of duty. So, the sanction of this America on other countries isn’t appropriate. On the other hand, The US always wants to use the ‘Uighur issue” as a political tool to counter the rise of China. In fact, the countries that develop, the governments that do good work are often attacked. If you do good then there is a problem. In the case of Bangladesh, Security forces may have fired several times to save lives when terrorists fired their weapons. There might have been some separatist incidents. But what a US punishment it is in reaction to those! The US might have very ill motives behind this. Bangladesh is an active member of China-run ‘BRI’. Actually, Bangladesh didn’t show interest to join the US-led ‘QUAD’. Another issue is that the US wants to sign two defense agreements with Bangladesh as the latter is seeking to buy advanced equipment from the US as part of its goal to modernize the military by 2030. But Bangladesh didn’t show interest to sign the ‘General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)’ and the ‘Acquisition Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA)’ agreement with the USA. It may be an issue for Bangladesh.

The sanction of the US is very problematic in the case of China and Bangladesh in this regard. Myanmar and North Korea cases may be totally different. It is the bad universal habit of the USA to counter the rising powers. It imposed sanctions upon anyone at any time anywhere in the name of serving human rights worldwide when it can be understood that its interest isn’t serving. (Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, etc.)

Let’s talk about the human rights situation in the USA. Recently, 918 people have been shot and killed by police in the USA in the past year. This isn’t my data. This is the data of the ‘Washington Post.’ Protests over the 2020 Black Lives Matter, revived by the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd by three Minneapolis police officers, indicate the largest protest movement in U.S. history. The US should look at the human rights situation in its territory first.

On February 26 this year, UN human rights experts called on the US government to end police torture and racial discrimination in the United States. According to reports of Western media outlets such as The Guardian and BBC, there are serious violations of human rights in the USA.

An article in the Lancet titled ‘Fatal police violence by race and state in the USA, 1980–2019: a network meta-regression on October 2, 2021, shows the horrific pictures of human rights violation in the USA. The report stated that between 1980 and 2018, many people died in police custody in the United States. Fifty-five percent of these deaths were unreported or miscellaneous, meaning the exact cause of death was not disclosed. Although only 10 percent of the population is black, the death rate of blacks in police custody is three and a half times that of whites.

Can the US answer the question of the Abu Ghraib prison, Guantánamo Bay prison abuses? The world hasn’t forgotten the incidents of the USA’s ‘Enhanced interrogation and waterboarding’ cases?

The world has not forgotten the tragic scene of a black man being strangled to death by the police on the streets of the United States last year. Not only that, when Palestinian children hurled stones at the Israelis who attacked their homes, Israeli forces fired indiscriminately at them. The United States has not imposed sanctions on the Israelis. On the contrary, if a country proposes condemnation of this human rights violation at the United Nations, the United States vetoes it. So, their sanction is motivated, one-sided, and ineffective.

According to Human Rights Report 2021, Covid-19’s grossly disproportionate impact on black, brown, and indigenous peoples, associated with chronic inequalities in health, education, and economic conditions, has highlighted the lasting effects of past clearly racist laws and policies and the continuing obstacles to equality. The series of police killings of George Floyd and other police killings of blacks in May gave rise to widespread and extensively peaceful protests, which in many cases were met with brutality by local and federal law enforcement agents.

This is the human rights situation in the USA. The self-proclaimed promoter of world peace, human rights, democracy worldwide, the US always speaks about the human rights violations in their targeted country. There may have been an ill motive behind this. In the name of protection of human rights in many countries, the US tries to serve its vested interest. We know the incident of the Iraq war, the war in Afghanistan, etc. The US authority should look at the human rights situation in its country first. The United States is involved in human rights abuses, including killings, disappearances, and abductions, and not just in its own country.

The democratic forces of the world are well aware of the fact that they are now talking about strengthening the “world democracy” and holding a conference to regain the lost ground after failing to establish a single world order.

The United States, meanwhile, claims that an average of 1,100 people are victims of law enforcement killings each year in the United States. Even in their country, six lakh people go missing every year. Neighboring democracies like India have similar cases.

Former United States Senator Robert Reich tweeted a few days ago. He said there were 984 extrajudicial killings in the United States in 2020. According to various US media reports, at least 6,700 people have been extrajudicially killed by law enforcement in the United States since 2015. That means an average of 1,000 people die without trial each year in the United States.

For example, the United States has sanctioned seven people, including a Bangladeshi police chief and a RAB DG, in the United States. Allegedly, that was extrajudicial killing. But, the number of extrajudicial killings in the United States is higher each year than in Bangladesh. Moreover, there are several countries in South Asia where extrajudicial killings are taking place.

Extrajudicial killings are taking place even on our India-Bangladesh border but we do not see any such action against those countries. Why not India? Why China and Bangladesh? They have chosen a few countries to show that they want to work with democracy. It is clear that their biased policies to some countries totally are baseless. When China and Bangladesh come closer, then the US decided to stop the improvement of China, Bangladesh. It is a biased, one-sided step of the US. The US needs India for its narrow Indo-Pacific strategy that’s why it is totally biased towards India.

The United States also imposed sanctions on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was later given a red-carpet reception, proving that such sanctions were in fact ineffective. What is an irony! What kind of US self-interest is! Actually, the US is very clever, cunning. It knows the appropriate use of when, how, whom.

On the other hand, it is very disappointing to see that Bangladesh has been put in line with states like North Korea or Myanmar which significantly stands different, both in terms of human rights records and political standing on the global, regional and domestic scale. Targeting China is the USA’s main agenda. North Korea and Myanmar should be another issue? Thus, it is clear to say that the recent US sanctions upon China and Bangladesh are very problematic.


About the writer:

Jubeda Chowdhury, a lady private tutor in Dhaka city and freelance writer. With a Master’s Degree in International Relations at the University of Dhaka.