Friday, September 25, 2015

Saudi Arabia to Head a UN Human Rights Council Panel

Remember my friendly alien from outer space?  The one who tries to make sense of earth-people values and norms and customs?

Suppose I told this alien (possibly of no biological sex or of what's called race in loose human parlance) that human rights are supposed to be something earth's countries, or at least some of them, really care about.  How, then, would I explain this piece of news?

Last week’s announcement that Saudi Arabia — easily one of the world’s most brutally repressive regimes — was chosen to head a U.N. Human Rights Council panel provoked indignation around the world. That reaction was triggered for obvious reasons. Not only has Saudi Arabia executed more than 100 people already this year, mostly by beheading (a rate of 1 execution every two days), and not only is it serially flogging dissidents, but it is reaching new levels of tyrannical depravity as it is about to behead and then crucify the 21-year-old son of a prominent regime critic, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted at the age of 17 of engaging in demonstrations against the government.
Then there's of course the obvious problem of women's rights, or rather, lack of such rights in Saudi Arabia.  Greenwald doesn't mention that part.  Maybe because it's too obvious. 

Greenwald's piece continues by linking to an interview with a US State Department spokesperson, Mark Toner.  You should read the interview.  I bet you don't know whether to cry or to laugh.  That is, if you actually care about human rights.

If you only care about oil, well, then the interview is pretty understandable.  You have to say something to defend this bizarre choice, to hide the fact that the powerful defend those who have something material they want.

I feel sorry for the job Mr. Toner had there.  But this particular farce puts into rather clear light the question how much human rights, including women's rights, actually matter in the top games those powerful boys (and a few gals) play with our lives.