Tuesday, April 21, 2009

UN racism conference

Kiwiblog and Home Paddock comment briefly on the absurd UN racism conference which New Zealand is not attending, along with Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the US.

The Herald and Stuff have reported the usual idiocy from Iran’s president but not, as far as I can see, the speech by Ashraf Ahmed El-Hojouj, the Palestinian doctor whom Libya falsely accused in 1999 of infecting children with HIV. UN Watch reports that:
Mrs. Najjat Al-Hajjaji, the Libyan chair, made every mistake. She interrupted the witness at 3 different points — and then gave Libya (!) the floor to make an objection, and finally cut him off. But nevertheless he got in the important parts. The room was gripped. It was the top story on Swiss TV news tonight (TSR).
This is what Dr El-Hojouj said:
Thank you, Madame Chair.
I don’t know if you recognize me. I am the Palestinian medical intern who was scapegoated by your country, Libya, in the HIV case in the Benghazi hospital, together with five Bulgarian nurses.
Section 1 of the draft declaration for this conference speaks about victims of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. Based on my own suffering, I wish to offer some proposals.
Starting in 1999, as you know, the five nurses and I were falsely arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, brutally tortured, convicted, and sentenced to death. All of this, which lasted for nearly a decade, was for only one reason: because the Libyan government was looking to scapegoat foreigners.
Madame Chair, if that is not discrimination, then what is?
On the basis of my personal experience, I would like to propose the following amendments regarding remedies, redress and compensatory measures:
One: The United Nations should condemn countries that scapegoat, falsely arrest, and torture vulnerable minorities.
Two: Countries that have committed such crimes must recognize their past, and issue an official, public, and unequivocal apology to the victims.
Three: In accordance with Article 2, paragraph 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, such countries must provide victims of discrimination with an appropriate remedy, including adequate compensation for material and immaterial damage.
Madame Chair, Libya told this conference that it practices no inequality or discrimination.
But then how do you account for what was done to me, to my colleagues, and to my family, who gave over thirty years serving your country, only to be kicked out from their home, threatened with death, and subjected to state terrorism?
How can your government chair the planning committee for a world conference on discrimination, when it is on the list of the world’s worst of the worst, when it comes to discrimination and human rights violations?
When will your government recognize their crimes, apologize to me, to my colleagues, and to our families?
This week, at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, the five nurses and I will present our complaint and compensation claim against Libya, filed with the UN Human Rights Committee, the highest international tribunal for individual petitions.
The slogan for this Conference is “Dignity and justice for all.” Does this include your own country’s victims of discrimination?
Thank you, Madame Chair.
Monitor: Mick Hartley

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