EU’s War on Human Rights ‚On All Fronts‘: Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey, Myanmar and Russia

Written by | Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

With its long tradition of promoting democracy and human rights across the world, the European Union now appears to be fighting a war on all fronts to achieve these long-term objectives. Confirming this development, the Council of Europe has given its prestigious annual Vaclav Havel Human Rights Award to the Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, who was released from jail last month after nearly three years in prison. Named after Vaclav Havel, the human rights activist and president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, the prize has been awarded annually since 2013 to individuals or institutions for an extraordinary contribution to the defense of human rights. Al-Hathloul is a prominent womens’ rights activist known for defying the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia and for opposing the Saudi male guardianship system.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the United Nations to take necessary steps to address what it calls China’s crimes against humanity targeting Uyghur Muslims and other Turkich minorities in the Xinjiang region. The report, entitled “‘Break Their Lineage, Break Their Roots’: China’s Crimes Against Humanity Targeting Uyghurs and Other Turkich Muslims,” also urges the UNHRC to create a commission of inquiry to investigate the crimes. “Chinese authorities have systematically persecuted Turkich Muslims — their lives, their religion and their culture,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at HRW, in the report. “Beijing has said it’s providing ‘vocational training’ and ‘deradicalization,’ but that rhetoric can’t obscure a grim reality of crimes against humanity.”
The StopErdoganNow, an alliance of rights groups, calls for “tough sanctions” on Turkey, blaming the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic service, for not taking concerns about alleged human rights violations in Turkey seriously enough. StopErdoganNow wanted to send a letter to EU High Representative Josep Borrell, demanding that he presses the European Council to “impose tough sanctions on Turkey,” but the letter was never delivered, according to Chris Wilson, a spokesman for the alliance. “Our position is that the leaders of the EU have sacrificed respect for human rights on the altar of financial self-interest,” Wilson said, adding that the recent visit of Presidents Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel to Turkey was “premature, to say the least, and will give Erdo?an easily gained opportunities to use them for propaganda purposes”.
In a separate but related development, the EU has imposed sanctions on 10 of Myanmar’s military leaders, as well as two giant military conglomerates, in its toughest measures yet against the February coup and the bloody crackdown on protesters demanding the return of the elected government. Myanmar’s State Administration Council (SAC), set up by the military the day after it seized power, was “responsible for undermining democracy and the rule of law”, the EU said. “The military forces and authorities operating under the control of the SAC have committed serious human rights violations since February 1, 2021, killing civilian and unarmed protesters.” Meanwhile, in Russia, Alexey Navalny has been hospitalised amid mounting global concern for the hunger-striking Kremlin critic, whose health is reportedly deteriorating rapidly. The move comes after Western powers raised alarm following the warning by Navalny’s physician that the 44-year-old could be on the verge of death in jail due to his rapidly deteriorating health. The Russian jailed opposition politician announced a hunger strike at the end of March in protest against what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to treat him properly for acute back and leg pain.

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