Comments by David G. Littman, NGO Representative for the Association for World Education (AWE) and the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), United Nations, Geneva. For David Littman’s comments on the current human rights activities at the UN in Geneva, see: Stealth Jihad with Dialogue vs. Freedom of Expression at the UN (Act 2) (November 25).
The 8th Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the tragic “Situation of human rights in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo” began on Friday. It was called at the request of 16 Western countries; the number of co-sponsors soon reached 39 States, but not one from the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, or the NAM (Non-Aligned Movement). The DRC even alleged that the host country refused visas for two ministers, which the Swiss ambassador categorically refuted in diplomatic terms. The Egyptian ambassador, acting as coordinator of the African group, tried to halt the discussion at 5:30pm; this was unacceptable for France (on behalf of the European Union) and also for the Council president. The histrionic statement delivered by Sudan’s ambassador woke up some representative to the sheer absurdity of this UN masquerade, and the conclusion of the statement by the ambassador of Pakistan, speaking for the OIC, completed this grim “˜picture”:
In conclusion, the OIC reiterates its call that the Council’s Special sessions should not become tools for castigating weak and vulnerable countries, while condoning impunity in case of influential members of the international community. An ongoing siege in Gaza, which has been widely condemned by the International community and continues to pose severe hardships for hundreds of thousands, must also merit the attention of the Council as any situation in the world, on the basis of consensus.
Considering that four of the eight Special HRC sessions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th), since July 2006, targeted Israel in “the occupied Palestinian territories” (with one on Gaza and another on Lebanon), and only one on Darfur, on Myanmar and on “˜food”, such a gross distortion portrays the HRC”s natural “˜climate” — a UN body often referred to as “this august body” and “the conscience of the world”. A glance at the proposed draft resolution on the “human rights situation” in the DRC — as “submitted by Egypt on behalf of the African Group” — reveals a blatant refusal to face the manifold atrocities being carried out non-stop in that region and beyond. Its preamble states blandly: “Reiterating the principles and objectives of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights” — but there is no mention throughout the text of either the grave ethnic strife or what the EU strongly deplores in its resolution: the “increasingly widespread cases of sexual violence, summary executions, recruitment and use of child soldiers by the armed groups, cases of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment, massive displacement of populations and plundering of villages”¦”
This “˜Comedy of Errors” Council took place while barbaric horrors in Mumbai continued — with an expression of condolence from the president to the Indian ambassador, but nothing else. Before the session began, we handed to the president and the High Commissioner for Human Rights our “˜Urgent Appeal” concerning those bloody massacres, broadcast on all TV networks — aimed thereby at spreading fear worldwide. Our text is reprinted below. It was also handed to about 30 Western ambassadors and delegates. We shall refer to it tomorrow in concluding AWE”s statement on the ongoing tragedy in the DRC — and will prepare a factual follow-up with both our oral and written statements.
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ASSOCIATION FOR WORLD EDUCATION
Case Postale 205 — 1196 Gland — Suisse
Human Rights Council President Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay
28 November 2008
MUMBAI: Condemn killings in name of God or Religion — any Religion
The horrors committed at Mumbai by the Deccan Mujahideen (i.e. “Jihadist Soldiers”) call for an unequivocal condemnation by the UN Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the President of the Human Rights Council. A condemnation of “terrorism” should include a condemnation of all those who kill or incite to kill in the name of God or religion — of any religion.
In 1999, representatives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other faiths and of civil society, meeting in Geneva, promulgated the Geneva Spiritual Appeal which called on global decision-makers “not to refer to any religious or spiritual imperative to justify any form of violence.” This appeal was reaffirmed in March 2003 in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Geneva by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Bahai and other religious leaders declaring: “Together we denounce all references to God to justify and foster hatred.”
This same subject was addressed positively at the recent seminar organized by the “Catholic-Muslim Forum”, established between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and representatives of the 138 Muslim leaders who signed the Open Letter to Christian leaders of 13 October 2007.
As we have warned year after year at the Commission, at the Sub-Commission, and also at the Council, “more indiscriminate Jihadist attacks are anticipated daily” — and this is now evident to all. A policy of silence on this use of an “Ideology of Jihad” by Muslim spiritual and secular leaders, by the OIC and Arab League, and by the international community, implicitly condones a blasphemous evil that should be condemned unequivocally by all Muslim thinkers, theologians and clerics as a “Defamation of Islam.” If this policy of silence is accepted by the international community — a form of complicity — the future for humanity will be bleak. The bells are tolling loud and brutally clear.
It is not our purpose to attack Islam, nor, by turning the spotlight onto abuse carried out “in the name of Islam”, to condone the abuse of human rights by the followers of other religions, by military forces, by governments, or by non-state actors.
In face of this cult of hate, death and destruction against “the other” — we are appealing to you as President of the Human Rights Council, and as High Commissioner for Human Rights to condemn all those who kill — and call to kill — in the name of God or religion — of any religion.
RenÃ© V.L. Wadlow
David G. Littman
Association for World Education to the United Nations Office in Geneva