Secretary Clinton to Head to Geneva for Meeting of UN Human Rights Council
President Obama spoke about Libya this evening and denounced the violence:
US President Barack Obama told the world Wednesday to unite to hold Libya accountable for a vicious protest crackdown, stiffening a US response to the crisis that critics had cast as too mild.
In his first televised response to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s decision to unleash vengeance on demonstrators, Obama reached out to US allies and promised to deploy a “full range of options” to halt “outrageous” bloodshed.
Obama spoke as officials said that Washington was considering fresh sanctions and other steps against Libya, and as political pressure mounted on his administration for a more activist response.
The administration’s careful previous line on violence that a former Libyan minister said had killed 1,000 people, appeared to be dictated by fears that American diplomats and citizens in Libya could face reprisals.
But by late Wednesday, a US-chartered ferry with a capacity of 575 passengers was riding out bad weather in Tripoli harbor before casting off on an evacuation mission to Malta.
“The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous, and it is unacceptable,” Obama said at the White House.
“So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms, and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.”
Obama defended his administration against claims that its response to the violence, the latest wave of unrest crashing across the Middle East, had been too tempered.
“Over the last few days my national security team has been working around the clock to monitor the situation there and to coordinate with our international partners about a way forward,” he said.
But the president did not mention Libya’s ruthless and unpredictable leader Kadhafi, who has ruled for decades and frequently defied the United States, by name.
Seeking to corral international action on Libya, Obama said that in such a volatile situation, it was “imperative” for nations to speak with one voice.
He said he would dispatch Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a ministerial-level meeting in Geneva on Monday of the UN Human Rights Council…
Irony Alert: Guess who has a seat on the Human Rights Council? Libya. This article is from May 2010:
Ever since the Libyan government in 2003 made peace with Washington and abandoned its nascent nuclear weapons program, Tripoli has ascended virtually every important diplomatic body at the United Nations — including the African Union chairmanship, the U.N. Security Council, and the presidency of the U.N. General Assembly.
Tripoli’s growing diplomatic respectability has gnawed at relatives of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103, which in 1988 was bombed by a Libyan agent as it flew over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground. But Republican and Democratic governments have learned to work with Tripoli, and the Obama administration did not mount a campaign to block its election to the rights council, as it did for Iran.
Senior U.S. officials maintain that they can make progress on promoting human rights even when not working with like-minded countries.
“We’re working with longstanding and new partners, including partnering with Egypt on freedom of expression and working with some traditional opponents of country resolutions in the African Group to pass a resolution on Guinea in March,” said Suzanne Nossel, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations.
The council will formally elect 14 new members tomorrow, including Angola, Libya, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritania, Moldova, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Qatar, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Uganda. All the candidates’ names have been put forward as part of a slate of candidates previously agreed upon by the U.N.’s key regional groups.
Human rights groups criticized the election of Angola, Libya, and Malaysia, all of which have poor human rights records. They said their success highlighted the need for an end to the U.N. voting practices of selecting the candidates on the basis of a pre-agreed slate. And they criticized the United States and other Western governments that seek to promote human rights for failing to compete openly for their seats on the council.
*sigh* We never learn, do we?
And this just came through the wire. I have to say, Secretary Clinton puts out more statements about Iran than probably any other country. This statement is longer than the statement they issued on :
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON
Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Iran
The United States remains deeply concerned by the persecution of Iranian citizens at the hand of their government. Over the past ten days, we have witnessed the bravery of thousands of Iranians who once again took to the streets to exercise their fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and expression. It has been made clear to the world that Iran denies its citizens the same fundamental rights it continues to applaud elsewhere in the Middle East.
Security forces have beaten, detained, and – in at least three cases – killed peaceful protesters. Off the streets, the regime’s leaders have targeted human rights defenders and political activists, and authorities have recently rounded-up ex-government officials and their families; former members of parliament; clerics and their children; student leaders and their professors; as well as journalists and bloggers. They also continue to deny their citizens access to information by jamming satellite transmissions and blocking internet sites.
Iran’s leaders also continue to persecute ethnic and religious minorities. We are troubled by reports that, of the dozens of prisoners executed in 2011, most are ethnic minorities. At the same time, Baha’is and other religious minorities continue to be subjected to arbitrary arrests and prosecutions, harsh sentences, and unsafe prison conditions. We call on Iran to free all political prisoners and persecuted minorities.
The steady deterioration in human rights conditions in Iran has obliged the international community to speak out time and again. Today, the United States sanctions two Iranian officials – in addition to the eight sanctioned by the President last fall – for perpetrating these abuses. The world will continue to watch and will hold accountable those responsible for these actions. The United States joins the international community in affirming the universal rights to which all men and women – in Iran and around the world – are entitled.