Wednesday, November 04, 2015

What has happened to our human rights organizations?

During the frenzy over the 2013 sarin attacks in Syria, many people cited the Human Rights Watch report as "proof" of Bashar Assad's responsibility. Few actually read the report. I did, and discovered that there was no real evidence pointing to the legitimate government of Syria; it was all smoke and mirrors and innuendo. We now know that the rebels (ISIS and Al Qaeda) were the likely culprits.

After the last Israeli attack on Gaza, the major human rights organizations turned into Israeli apologists. For more details, see the Norman Finkelstein lecture embedded above. (The details are genuinely shocking.)

And now this.

Yes, the link goes to a piece by a Russian writer on a pro-Russian website. But facts are facts, and argumentum ad hominem ain't no argument at all.

In short and in sum: Human Rights Watch has accused Russia of launching airstrikes in Syria which deliberately targeted civilians (as if Russia would have any motive to do such a thing)...
However, upon analyzing the original report of HRW, it is easy to notice that there isn’t any kind of evidence or proof in favor of the charges at all.
Do any such “local activists,” any witnesses, if we are to believe HRW, exist in nature and is there any photo/video witness evidence? “Who are these people?” These questions remain unanswered.
It’s not clear on what the very conclusion of the HRW itself is based.

Thus, the wholehearted blaming of Russia for war crimes is based on - let’s call things by their names - allegations. “Some kind of activist,” “some footage,” "likely,” “most likely,” “it could be," and the other vocabulary of Human Rights Watch along with nothing more than unsubstantiated statements - this is precisely what is offered among the arguments of the organization which employs more than two hundred employees and has a budget of around a million dollars.

It’s simply impossible to verify the majority of these claims. Although, of course, you can simply take them and believe that Russia is deliberately bombing residential neighborhoods with “vacuum bombs” and destroying civilians by the tens and hundreds. Because the sources of the HRW, “activists” and “local residents,” can’t lie...
Even if we stipulate, for the sake of argument, that the person who wrote this is a bought-and-paid-for Putin propagandist, it's still difficult to argue away the points made here. Moreover, this particular example is not the only incident which forces us to call into question the integrity of HRW.

A distinct bias has become all-too-apparent, and HRW's standards of evidence now tend to shift depending on which country or cause is targeted. When and how did the effing neocons take over the major human rights organizations?

Added note: This HRW letter to Obama on the topic of drones may seem reasonable at first glance, but read it carefully. It's pretty weak tea -- in fact, this tea is so weak as to be indistinguishable from water. Where is the condemnatory language? Why does Obama merit a slap on the wrist while Putin gets a sock in the teeth? What stops HRW from questioning the legitimacy of drones as a weapon? When will HRW say something about the facts outlined in this extraordinary report?
I don't know much about Paul Treanor, but I like how he pulled back the curtain on HRW
Russia was accused of bombing hospitals in 6 towns.

The problem with the unverified report, 5 of those towns did not have hospitals and the sixth? Untouched.

And yet the lie was repeated thousands of times by very "serious people".
The Human Rights organizations gradually became "professionalized" and bureaucratic, requiring large operating budgets. Foundations and governments stepped up, and that was that.
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