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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Release of the 2010 Human Rights Report

April 8, 2011

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SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. I’m here today to present the 35th annual report to Congress on the state of human rights around the world. The struggle for human rights begins by telling the truth over and over again. And this report represents a year of sustained truth-telling by one of the largest organizations documenting human rights conditions in the world, the United States State Department.

I want to thank Assistant Secretary Mike Posner and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and our hundreds of colleagues and embassies around the world for working so hard to make this report an honest compendium of global human rights issues. I also want to thank the many people around the world who monitor and fight for human rights in their own societies, and from whose information and recommendations we greatly benefit.

In recent months, we have been particularly inspired by the courage and determination of the activists in the Middle East and North Africa and in other repressive societies who have demanded peaceful democratic change and respect for their universal human rights. The United States will stand with those who seek to advance the causes of democracy and human rights wherever they may live, and we will stand with those who exercise their fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly in a peaceful way, whether in person, in print, or in pixels on the internet. This report usually generates a great deal of interest among journalists, lawmakers, nongovernmental organizations, and of course, other governments, and I hope it will again this year.

As part of our mission to update statecraft for the 21st century, today I’m also pleased to announce the launch of our new website, humanrights.gov. This site will offer one-stop shopping for information about global human rights from across the United States Government. It will pull together reports, statements, and current updates from around the world. It will be searchable and it will be safe. You won’t need to register to use it. We hope this will make it easier for citizens, scholars, NGOs, and international organizations to find the information they need to hold governments accountable.

Here at the State Department, human rights is a priority 365 days a year. It is part of the mission of each of our ambassadors. It is on my agenda or on Under Secretary Otero’s or anyone else’s who meets with foreign leaders. And it is a core element of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, because it actually is in line with our values, our interests, and our security. History has shown that governments that respect their people’s rights do tend, over time, to be more stable, more peaceful, and ultimately more prosperous.


We were particularly disturbed by three growing trends in 2010. The first is a widespread crackdown on civil society activists. For countries to progress toward truly democratic governance, they need free and vibrant civil societies that can help governments understand and meet the needs of their people. But we’ve seen in Venezuela, for example, the government using the courts to intimidate and persecute civil society activists. The Venezuelan Government imposed new restrictions on the independent media, the internet, political parties, and NGOs. In Russia, we’ve seen crackdowns on civil society groups turn violent with numerous attacks and murders of journalists and activists. In China, we’ve seen negative trends that are appearing to worsen in the first part of 2011.

As we have said repeatedly, the United States welcomes the rise of a strong and prosperous China, and we look forward to our upcoming Strategic and Economic Dialogue with Beijing and to our continued cooperation to address common global challenges. However, we remain deeply concerned about reports that, since February, dozens of people, including public interest lawyers, writers, artists, intellectuals, and activists have been arbitrarily detained and arrested. Among them most recently was the prominent artist, Ai Weiwei, who was taken into custody just this past Sunday. Such detention is contrary to the rule of law, and we urge China to release all of those who have been detained for exercising their internationally recognized right to free expression and to respect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all of the citizens of China.

Beyond a widespread crackdown on civil society activists, we saw a second trend in 2010 – countries violating the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association by curtailing internet freedom. More than 40 governments now restrict the internet through various means. Some censored websites for political reasons. And in a number of countries, democracy and human rights activists and independent bloggers found their emails hacked or their computers infected with spyware that reported back on their every keystroke. Digital activists have been tortured so they would reveal their passwords and implicate their colleagues. In Burma and in Cuba, government policies preempted online dissent by keeping most ordinary people from accessing the internet at all.

The third disturbing trend of 2010 was the repression of vulnerable minorities, including racial and ethnic and religious minorities along with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. In Pakistan, for example, blasphemy remains a crime punishable by death. And the blasphemy law has been enforced against Muslims who do not share the beliefs of other Muslims, and also against non-Muslims who worship differently.

In the first two months of 2011, two government officials in Pakistan who sought to reform the law, Governor Taseer and Minister Bhatti, were targeted by a fatwa and assassinated. Also, in Iraq, Egypt, and Nigeria, violent attacks by extremists have killed dozens of people who have been peacefully practicing their religions, Christians and Muslims alike. In Iran, we have multiple reports that the government summarily executed more than 300 people in 2010. Many of them were ethnic minorities. For example, in May, four Kurdish men were hanged in Evin Prison. They had been arrested in 2006 for advocating that Iran should respect human rights. They were reported to have confessed to terrorism under torture. And because I believe, and our government believes, that gay rights are human rights, we remain extremely concerned about state-sanctioned homophobia. In Uganda, for example, homosexuality remains illegal, and people are being harassed, discriminated against, threatened, and intimidated.

But the news is, of course, not all bad. We have seen improvements in the human rights situations in a number of countries, and we’ve also seen the uprisings of the past months in the Middle East and North Africa, where people are demanding their universal human rights. In Colombia, the government began consulting with human rights defenders. It is supporting efforts to stop violence. It has passed a law to restore land and pay reparations to the victims of the very long civil conflict that occurred in Colombia. Guinea held free and fair elections and inaugurated its first democratically elected president. And Indonesia boasts a vibrant free media and a flourishing civil society at the same time as it faces up to challenges in preventing abuses by its security forces and acting against religious intolerance.

Societies flourish when they address human rights problems instead of suppressing them. Freedom from fear makes economies grow as citizens invest, innovate, and participate. Where human rights matter, children grow up with the precious belief that they matter, too; that they should be able to live in dignity and shape their own destinies. People everywhere deserve no less. And we hope that this report will give comfort to the activists, will shine a spotlight on the abuses, and convince those in government that there are other and better ways.

And we want to see progress. We started doing this report 35 years ago because we believed that progress is possible. And certainly, if you were to do a chart from 35 years ago to today, you would see a lot of progress in a lot of places. But at the same time, we must remain vigilant, and this report is one of the tools that we use to be that way.

Thank you all. Now, Assistant Secretary Mike Posner.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2011 11:44 am

    Not that many in the U.S. care, but today is the 63rd anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre:

    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/04/teaching-the-nakba-at-harvard.html#more-40653

    Deir Yassin was a terrorist act and Jewish extremists essentially wiped it off the map and placed Jewish settlers in it’s place:

    http://www.deiryassin.org/mas.html

    That’s a little piece of history you won’t learn about here in the U.S. regarding things that happened in the beginning of the conflict. If anyone wants to understand the viewpoint of the Palestinians then you have to understand, or at least ask yourself, what actions are justified in response to ethnic cleansing? You have to ask yourself “what would I do?” The very same people who believe that extreme, overwhelming military force is justified against all Palestinians (such as is happening in Gaza today- we are seeing the beginning of a war), turn around and say the Palestinians have ZERO rights to respond to violence. I don’t advocate violence in any way, shape or form but I do know that there are psychological limits to what people should be expected to put up with. I saw this in South Africa during the Soweto uprising- they simply couldn’t take it anymore. I also know that we are giving the Palestinians no alternative to violence when we don’t speak out against the Israeli attempts to silence all peaceful Palestinian protests- often the Israelis do this violently and then turn around and claim the peaceful protesters weren’t really peaceful.

    Am I pro-Palestinian? Yes. Am I pro-Israeli? Yes. I believe that human rights, the right to defend oneself and the right to engage in peaceful protest is a fundamental right for all, not just for Israel and our allies.

  2. April 9, 2011 2:02 pm

    Roger Cohen is the only one in the establishment media to point out the obvious about the strange op-ed by Judge Goldstone:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/08/opinion/08iht-edcohen08.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    I’ll just talk to myself all day🙂

    • Pilgrim permalink
      April 9, 2011 10:17 pm

      Roger Cohen’s writing is excellent, and so is yours. I am grateful that you do address this sad and outrageous behaviour of the Israeli people, although some of the Israeli people also deplore it.

      The plight of the Palestinian people in their own land is truly heartbreaking.

  3. Thain permalink
    April 9, 2011 2:07 pm

    @Stacy- no you are not talking to yourself. If it weren’t for all the digging you do we’d be a lot worse off. Most people don’t make an effort to question the conventional wisdom. If CNN, Fox, AIPAC and the State Dept. tell them that Goldstone retracted his earlier report then they believe Goldstone retracted his earlier report, end of story. Actually looking into it takes a certain amount of effort. Of course most people haven’t read the Goldstone Report. Most people probably couldn’t point to Gaza on a map.

    I propose a new rule- in order to support certain foreign policies, particularly regarding the Middle East, the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, people should know where those countries are. Is that really asking too much? I’m not even asking that they know the difference between Sunni and Shiite. You know, just be able to f*cking point to Iraq on a map.

  4. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    April 10, 2011 11:15 am

    You’re not wasting your virtual breath, stacy. You turned me around. Now I’m working on my (Jewish) husband. We’re debating the Goldstone retraction and he scoffed at the notion Goldstone may have been bullied into it — until I emailed him Cohen’s article. Next, my younger son. Then, my sister-in-law, then…

    • stacyx permalink*
      April 10, 2011 11:38 am

      Good luck with that. It’s not easy to change people’s minds no matter how much evidence you have when they have been force-fed nationalistic, ethnic, religious propaganda since birth. Saturday dinner at Micah’s parents house is an exercise in self-restraint for me because I hear all the talking points that are so easily rebutted with simple facts. But contradicting what they [want to] believe is like grabbing their psychological Linus blanket from them and leaving them naked.

      Ask your husband if the head of the South African Zionist Federation is lying when he says that they had a meeting with Goldstone about all of this and they are in part responsible for his [sort of] change of heart? This isn’t some Israel Lobby conspiracy theory when the Zionist Federation is bragging about it:

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4051403,00.html

      I think he did a bit of a U-turn for his family, who he didn’t want to suffer total isolation anymore. He was completely alienated by the entire world Jewish community, his family was barred from entering their Synogogue in South Africa. That must not be easy for a self-described Zionist. He was barred from entering Israel but after the Op-Ed he has been invited back. Home Again. Family. He’s on the path to ga’al.

      This is what the Lobby and the Jewish community do. It sends an ominous message to every other Jewish person who believes in universal human rights “don’t you dare apply the same standard to Israel or we’ll do to you what we did to Goldstone.”

      I’ll be totally honest here- if the U.S. (and world) Jewish community continues to conflate the word “Israel” with the word “Jew” and treat all criticism of Israel as an attack on the Jewish people then Israel will never change course and both Israel and the community will collapse under the weight of their own contradictions.

      • Steve permalink
        April 10, 2011 1:18 pm

        Stacy- how come you didn’t cross post your news round-up from TaylorMarsh?

        Every Jewish kid, and I was no exception, is taught that the future of the Jewish people depends on the safety of, and support for, Israel. There is a lot of pro-Israel propaganda fed to kids in Hebrew school, preparing for Bar Mitzvah etc. My son didn’t really get that because my wife wouldn’t allow it😉. Also, we spent a lot of time in Israel when he was young and we made sure he saw BOTH sides of the story. But that wasn’t easy for him either because most of his Jewish peers were never shown or told that there even WAS another side to the story- like the Nakba for instance- and so he was accused of being a traitor for daring to talk about it.

        Judge Goldstone and his family were brutally targeted, physically, psychologically etc. What the Jewish community did to him is inexcusable. Prominent groups like ADL, AIPAC, Zionist Federation etc. laid the blame for all of Israel’s problems squarely on his shoulders. Honestly, we eat our own.

        Stacy is right- it was done to send a message not only to Goldstone but to anyone else who applies a consistent, objective standard of human rights/international law. It apparently worked.

    • Thain permalink
      April 10, 2011 7:25 pm

      Carolyn said:

      Next, my younger son. Then, my sister-in-law, then…

      Your younger son? Who turned him into a little Zionist?

      It’s got to stop somewhere.

      There’s a certain twisted irony to the whole the-oppressed-becomes-the-oppressor theme with Israel and it’s more unreasonable, unquestioning enablers. Loyalty oaths, blood laws, Jewish-only roads, no Israeli-sanctioned civil marriage (ie. Jews and non-Jews married), Jewish-only housing, rabid nationalism, forced expulsion of the Palestinians and destruction of their property, collective punishment and on and on. I’m no history major but doesn’t this sort of sound familiar?

  5. Thain permalink
    April 10, 2011 7:16 pm

    It really seems like Israel just carpet bombs Gaza. It’s not like we are talking like a huge area to begin with and people have nowhere to run. At least in Tunisia and Libya they could try to escape the violence by running across the border but in Gaza, there are only walls, sniper towers and closed border crossings (checkpoints)- it must be like shooting fish in a barrel.

    Here are some of the people who have died over the last few days:

    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/04/scenes-from-gaza.html

    Israel’s response is always so indiscriminate and heavy-handed. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Yes, Hamas or whatever group that is firing rockets into the desert have to stop. No doubt about it. But this is just crazy.

    Ever notice how when an Israeli dies in an attack the State Dept. has a statement released immediately but when a bunch of Palestinians civilians are killed it’s either no comment or days later some passing remark, the point of which is usually to give Israel credit for their “restraint.” It’s just too much.

  6. January 26, 2013 11:20 am

    I think that she is very attractive for her age.

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  1. State Department human rights report exposes U.S. double standards, violations of international law « compliancecampaign

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