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Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights’

Clinton in the Congo, and the real message gets lost…

In Africa, Congo, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aide, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on August 14, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Clinton in the Congo, and the real message gets lost.

Clinton in the Congo

CongoShadow

by Nancy Johnston
THE BALTIMORE SUN

August 13, 2009

The UN reports that there have been 200,000 acts of sexual violence in the Congo since 1998, 65 percent against children. Since January, more than half of the thousands of rapes reported were perpetrated by the Congolese army, according to Human Rights Watch. That is to say nothing of the more than 2 million displaced citizens, and 5.4 million who have died in connection with the war waged against rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.

An AP report which detailed the $17 million of aid the U.S. has pledge to end such violence described the scene at a refugee camp Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited.

“Residents told Clinton that women and young girls and boys are often victimized by rape when they leave the camp to gather wood or tend to outside gardens. One camp official said a young boy had been raped on Monday.

“One of the two victims Clinton met had been gang-raped after her husband and four children were killed. The other, eight months pregnant at the time, lost her baby and was found by hospital workers in a forest where she had stumbled.”

There are no words for the horrors these people have faced in the past decade.

    But if you’ve watched the news those horrific statistics and stories didn’t register. That’s because Secretary Clinton’s umbrage over a question about a Chinese loan offer became the story, instead of the corruption of officials and the sexual warfare being waged throughout the country.

At a news conference, a student in the audience asks Ms. Clinton what Mr. Clinton thinks about a disputed Chinese contract, and she reacted harshly. It’s unclear what the student was thinking — did he misspeak, meaning to ask for President Obama’s opinion, instead of Bill Clinton’s?

Did the translator ask the wrong question? Did one or the other of them think it appropriate to question our top diplomat about her husband’s opinion, rather than her own? But the point is that the narrative has switched from life-and-death issues that everyone should be united against, to another “Shrill Hill” sound bite.

“Poor Hillary,” her detractors and supporters both say, “She was just so tired! And it must be so hard to see Obama light up the world in his travels; and that Bill, saving those journalists from North Korea, stealing her thunder.”

To which I say, give me a break.

Hillary Clinton has been a professional politician, a U.S. senator, a presidential candidate and she is now the secretary of state of the United States of America. She has nothing to prove to the commentators and the pundits; her job is to advise the president on foreign affairs and enforce the policies of the USA.

She was not a petulant child craving recognition, nor does she need your defense. Secretary Clinton had a point to make, and it was this: I am the representative of the most powerful country in the world, and you will respect both my office and me as a human being.

While you’re at it, why don’t you show that same respect to the women of the Congo?

In a country where being female might be a death sentence and rape is used as a weapon against the population, this is not a point to be made lightly. Perhaps it wasn’t diplomatic, but it was entirely appropriate for Clinton to defend her position and her dignity in a place where so many wives and daughters have no defense or recourse.

So don’t pity Hillary, who in your mind has to compete with her powerful husband and boss. Pity the millions of Congolese who are suffering.

And get alongside her, whether as a feminist or a human being: There’s plenty to find offensive in this situation without falling back to either Clinton hatred or misogynistic punchlines.
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State Department Releases Human Rights Reports

In Asia Tour, Human Rights, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, protest, sexism on February 25, 2009 at 6:58 pm

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February 25, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: I apologize for being a little late. This is such an important event in the annual calendar of the State Department.You know, human progress depends on the human spirit, and this inescapable truth has never been more apparent than it is today. The challenges of this new century require us to summon the full range of human talents to move our nation and the world forward.

Guaranteeing the right of every man, woman and child to participate fully in society and to live up to his or her God-given potential is an ideal that has animated our nation since its founding.It is enshrined also in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and was reflected in President Obama’s Inaugural Address when he reminded us that every generation must carry forward the belief that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.Our foreign policy must also advance these timeless values which empower people to speak, think, worship and assemble freely, to lead their work and family lives with dignity, and to know that dreams of a brighter future are within their reach.

Now, the promotion of human rights is essential to our foreign policy, but as a personal aside, I have worked for many years and in various capacities on the issues that are encompassed under the rubric: human rights. It is of profound importance to me and has informed my views and shaped my beliefs in ways large and small.As Secretary of State, I will continue to focus my own energies on human rights, and I will engage as many others as I can to join me, both through traditional and untraditional challenges. I am looking for results. I am looking for changes that actually improve the lives of the greatest numbers of people. Hopefully, we will be judged over time by successful results from these efforts.

To begin, not only will we seek to live up to our ideals on American soil; we will pursue greater respect for human rights as we engage other nations and peoples around the world. Now, some of our work will be conducted in government meetings and official dialogues. That’s important to advancing our cause. But I believe strongly we must rely on more than one approach as we strive to overcome tyranny and subjugation that weakens the human spirit, limits human possibility, and undermines human progress. We will make this a global effort that reaches beyond governments alone. I intend for us to work with nongovernmental organizations, businesses, religious leaders, schools and universities as well as individual citizens, all of whom can play a vital role in creating a world where human rights are accepted, respected, and protected.

Our commitment to human rights is driven by our faith and our moral values, and by our belief that America must first be an exemplar of our own ideals. But we also know that our security and prosperity and progress is enhanced when people in other places emerge from the shadows to gain the opportunities and rights that we enjoy and treasure.

It is now my pleasure to bring to the podium Karen Stewart, Acting Assistant Director* for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, who will present the report and take your questions. Karen?

Thank you. Thank you all very much.