Calling on G8 Leaders to Address Ongoing Human Rights Situations

 

Human Rights Now(HRN), a Tokyo based human rights
organization, issued a statement in June urging the G8 states to address
ongoing serious human rights violation in the world, in particular, the
situations in Burma( Myanmar), Darfur/ Sudan, and human rights violations in
the course of ” war on terror”.
In the wake of the G8 foreign ministers’ meeting, based on recent developments
of the human rights situation, Human Rights Now urges the G8 leaders to make a
strong commitment to the world’s human rights problems.

 


1. Situation in Darfur/ Sudan


In the Darfur region of Sudan, serious human rights violations have been taking
place since February of 2003. The government and government-supported militias
have continuously attacked the region’s non-Arab residents and more than
200,000 people have reportedly been victimized. Rape and other forms of
violence against women have frequently been used to terrorize the population.
Two to three hundred thousand people have been forcibly displaced and turned
into refugees. Furthermore, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) agreed to
by the northern and southern Sudanese governments in January 2005 is in
jeopardy because of the ongoing conflicts in the Abyei region.
This situation must be addressed by the international society. Upon the call of
many of the world’s international human rights organizations, more than 130,000
people participated in the petition calling for the G8 leaders to address and
make a strong commitment on this situation.
HRN welcomes the foreign ministers’ meeting addressing of the issue by calling
for 1) immediate cease fire and adherence of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(
CPA), 2) support for UNAMID, 3) adherence of the UN Security Council, 4) full
cooperation with the ICC, and for the G8’s commitment to humanitarian and
development assistance. However, this was not enough, because the statement did
not clearly urge the world to stop any importing of arms to the Darfur area.
While the UN Security Council resolution set an arms embargo, this has often
been violated and has become a cause of conflict.
HRN urge G8 leaders to issue a strong statement including the above points, as
well as arms embargo and to act to resolve the situation. The world, and all
parties to the conflict, is watching how the G8 acts.

 


2. Situation in Zimbabwe


The Human Rights situation in Zimbabwe now faces a critical moment. Despite the
victory of the Opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
President Mugabe and the ruling party insisted on and implemented the final
presidential election. During the process of this final election, gross human
rights violations of opposition, including extrajudicial killing and arbitrary
detention has taken place. As a result, the election committee declared Mugabe
was elected as the president with 85% vote. Now, the opposition are persecuted,
more and more people are becoming refugees, and human rights violations and
repression are prevailing throughout the entire nation.
It is very clear that an election in the course of such gross human rights
violations is illegitimate. Mugabe and the authorities must stop the violence
and human rights violations, nullify the election result, and conduct a
re-election immediately.
HRN calls upon the G8 leaders to address this issue by issuing a strong
statement including in the following area;
1) Clearly state that this election is illegitimate and recommend the authority
to conduct fair and transparent election with participation of all parties
concern, having international monitoring team on the election.
2) Condemn the recent human rights violations, including killing of the
opposition, and urge the authorities to stop the human rights violations and
violence
3) Request peaceful dialogue between the authorities and the opposition to
resolve the problem, support current and future efforts of the UN and regional
organ, and make clear that the peaceful resolution should based on respect of
the March election result.
4) Pledge immediate humanitarian aid to address the crisis, in particular meet
the needs of the most vulnerable population affected by the situation.

 


3. Situation in Burma ( Myanmar)

 


In Burma, the military junta (the SPDC) brutally repressed peaceful
demonstrations for democracy led by massive numbers of monks last September.
Since then over 1,900 monks and democracy activists have been detained.
Since Cyclone Nargis hit Burma, the SPDC has continued to neglect its
responsibility to supply food, medical care and sanitation to the cyclone’s
victims, and prevented foreign aid As a result, the lives of many of the
suffering, especially women, children and the elderly, are at risk. Further,
the SPDC has forcibly displaced the evacuees from evacuation centers and sent
them back to cyclone-devastated areas, and forcibly taken them into forced
labor.
At the same time, the SPDC forced through its referendum on the new
constitution, which is designed only to prolong the survival of the military
regime, and which makes the realization of respect for human rights and
democracy even more distant. The SPDC also extended the house arrest of
democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
While HRN welcomes the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting address of the situation, it
calls upon the G8 leaders to issue a strong statement including the following.
1) Condemn the brutal crackdown against pro-democracy activists last September,

the imposition of the constitutional referendum, and the extension of Aung San
Suu Kyi’s detention.
2) Urge the SPDC to immediately release all political detainees, and initiate
the democratization process by opening a serious dialogue with pro-democracy
groups, ethnic minority leaders and others concerned.
3) Given the humanitarian crisis that many cyclone victims still face, increase
the amount of G8 countries’ relief aid and at the same time urge the SPDC to
fulfill its obligation to provide for the basic needs of victims, such as food,
health, medical treatment and sanitation in close cooperation with donor
countries.

. Tibet and DPRK


  Since March 2008, the Chinese authorities have brutally
cracked down on the Tibetan demonstrators, and continue to detain monks and
citizens in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other regions where Tibetans
reside. In the wake of international criticism regarding this treatment, the
Chinese authorities commenced a dialogue with the representative of Tibetan
leader the Dalai Lama. However, the Chinese Authorities have so far stubbornly
rejected all requests made by the Dalai Lama, including release of citizens and
monks detained since March, and full and free access of the Media into the
Tibetan Autonomous Region. There is no development of the peaceful resolution
based on the Tibetans’ given “high- level” autonomy. One could argue that the
dialogue is merely cosmetic, conducted by the Chinese authorities for damage
control.
The International Community must not forget the human rights situation of
Tibet.
The G8 should request the Chinese government to work on serious dialogue with
Tibetans to solve the problem in peaceful way, and call for the immediate
release of demonstrators and acceptance of full and free media access.

As for the DPRK, HRN welcomes that the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting remarked on
the improvement of the human rights situation in the DPRK and not only Security
issues, and expects that similar remarks will be made in the G8 statement.

 


5.
 Situation in Iraq


Regarding the situation in Iraq, the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting expressed
commitment to promoting human rights. However, no remark was made on the human
rights violations committed by Multi National Force (MNF) including, some G8
countries.
UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) released a report on the human rights
situation in Iraq in October 2007, documenting widespread human rights abuses
including extrajudicial executions committed by insurgents, MNF and privately
hired contractors, and recommending specific measures in response. UNAMI urged
“all credible allegations of unlawful killings by MNF forces [to] be thoroughly,
promptly and impartially investigated, and appropriate action [to] be taken
against military personnel found to have used excessive or indiscriminate
force,” and urges the United States authorities to investigate reports of
deaths caused by privately hired contractors, and establish effective
mechanisms for holding them accountable whenever circumstances surrounding the
killings show no justifiable cause. The countries participating in the MSF
within the G8 members should establish its accountability in regards to
promoting human rights in Iraq.

 


6. Counter-terrorism and human rights


HRN express its disappointment on the lack of comment regarding human rights in
the Foreign Ministers’ Statement on counter-terrorism. The G8 countries must
recognize that they are not exempt from responsibility for human rights
violations in the 21st century. In particular, since September 11th in 2001, in
the name of “the War on Terror” innocent civilians have been killed in
Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya. Other grave breaches of international human
rights and humanitarian law include, but are not limited to, the torture and
indefinite detention of terrorism suspects in Guatanamo Bay and at other
disclosed and undisclosed locations worldwide.
However, the G8 countries refuse to accept any accountability for these
violations, contributing to the spread of human rights violations throughout
the world in the name of the “War on Terror”.
HRN urges the G8 leaders to address the following issues at the summit:
1) State clearly the G8 member states’ commitment to adhering to established
international human rights standards and international humanitarian law in all
circumstances and address past breaches of the Geneva Conventions in the course
of the ” War on Terror,” including attacks on civilians and the practice of
torture in interrogations. The parties responsible for these violations should
be identified and held accountable in a court of law.
2) Establish concrete measures to prevent the recurrence of human rights
violations in the course of the “War on Terror”.

 


Violations of human rights will be repeated as long as the international
community tolerates them. If the G8 countries continue to extol democracy and
civil liberties, they should live up to the ideals they proclaim and fulfill
their responsibilities regarding the above-mentioned human rights violations.
The silence alone at this summit of the G8 nations with regards to these abuses
would worsen the human rights situation.