“Rights Group Disgrace”

01Dec06

This isnt very Egypt-related, but I thought I would post it.

I was reading the Ahram Weekly when i came across this opinion piece by Jonathan Cook. He essentially tears apart this recent report by HRW. He says:

“If one thing offers a terrifying glimpse of where the experiment in human despair that is Gaza under Israeli siege is leading, it is the news that a Palestinian woman in her 60s — a grandmother — chose last week to strap on a suicide belt and explode herself next to a group of Israeli soldiers invading her refugee camp.

“Despite the “man bites dog” news value of the story, most of the Israeli media played down the incident. Not surprisingly; it is difficult to portray Fatma Al-Najar as a crazed fanatic bent on the destruction of Israel.

[…]

“Just at the moment Fatma was choosing death and resistance over powerlessness and victimhood — and at a time when Gaza is struggling through one of the most oppressive and ugly periods of Israeli occupation in nearly four decades — Human Rights Watch (HRW) published its latest statement on the conflict. It is a document that shames the organisation, complacent Western societies and Fatma’s memory.

“In its press release “Civilians must not be used to shield homes against military attacks”, which was widely reported by the international media, HRW lambastes armed Palestinian groups for calling on civilians to surround homes that have been targeted for destruction by aerial bombardment by the Israeli air force.

“Noting, almost as an afterthought, that more than 1,500 Palestinians have been made homeless by these demolitions in the past few months, and that 105 houses have been destroyed from the air, the press release denounces Palestinian attempts at non-violent and collective action to halt the Israel attacks. HRW refers in particular to three incidents.”

There’s a little more right after the jump. To be honest, I am appalled. I dont recall when last HRW was this disappointing. Read the article to get Cook’s assessment of the factors that lead to their “disgraceful” behavior.

“There is a good reason to believe this reading of international law is patently wrong, if not Kafkaesque. Popular and peaceful resistance to the oppressive policies of occupying powers and autocratic rulers, in India and South Africa for example, has always been, by its very nature, a risky venture in which civilians are liable to be killed or injured. Responsibility for those deaths must fall on those doing the oppressing, not those resisting, particularly when they are employing non-violent means. Under HRW’s interpretation, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela would be war criminals.

“Human Rights Watch also applies a series of terrible double standards in this press release.

It refuses Palestinian civilians the right to protect their homes, labelling them as “human shields”, even while admitting that most of these homes are not legitimate military targets, and yet it has not said a word about the common practice in Israel of building weapon factories and army bases inside or next to communities, thereby forcing Israeli civilians to become human shields for the army.”

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3 Responses to ““Rights Group Disgrace””

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  1. 1 Letter to HRW « The Egyptian
  2. 2 “Human Rights and Non-State Actors” « Cairene’s Nilometer

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