|Sri Lanka prominent in support for China and Cuba at the UN Human Rights Council|
|Tuesday, 10 February 2009|
Sri Lanka strongly supported the human rights records of China and Cuba, who each underwent a review of their fulfillment of human rights obligations under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council. China and Cuba (current Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement) underwent their reviews on 9th and 5th February 2009 respectively.
During the discussions, many member states made statements praising these two countries on the progress they have made in the human rights field.
Sri Lanka was very prominent in expressing its support to both China and Cuba in the debates, a fact observed by two well known international media agencies, Voice of America and Granma International of Cuba. Both agencies quoted excerpts from the statements by Sri Lanka's Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN-Geneva, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, in their respective reports.
Following his statement on China in the Human Rights Council chamber, Ambassador Jayatilleka was also interviewed by Chinese television.
The reports from Voice of America and Granma International of Cuba are given below.
By Lisa Schlein
09 February 2009
China’s human rights record has come under scrutiny, for the first time, by the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council under a new mechanism called the Universal Periodic Review. The report looks at progress made in human rights based on the country's economic development, but fails to address issues such as political and religious persecution. Human rights organizations accuse China of a whitewash.
China takes its position on the world stage seriously and has sent a high-powered team to defend its human rights record before the U.N. Human Rights Council.
But, China need not have worried. Opinion was definitely in China's favor as country after country took the floor to praise China's achievements. The head of the Chinese delegation Li Bao Dong set the tone of the proceedings.
In presenting his country's report, he stressed steps China has taken to safeguard its citizens' rights, to govern as a law-based society and to improve the welfare of its people.
Li said China pursues a policy of ethnic equality and regional ethnic autonomy.
"Ethnic minorities in China benefit from special preferential policies in political, economic, cultural and educational spheres," said Li. "The Chinese government encourages due and multi-language teaching in schools of ethnic minorities ... Huge investment has also been made to protect the religious practices, cultural identities and other heritages of ethnic minorities."
During the course of the three-hour debate, China was praised for its astounding economic feats and promotion of human rights. A long list of speakers supported China's use of the death penalty and Internet censorship.
Algeria deplored, what it called, the politicization of China's record by some nations. Egypt approved China's use of the death penalty and said it should be expanded. Sudan lauded China's system of re-education through labor.
Sri Lanka Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka rejected criticism of China as a manifestation of colonialism.
"China has ensured the political rights of its people. The rights of independence, self-determination and sovereignty and the social and economic rights, to freedom from feudal exploitation and to the satisfaction of material needs ... We reject the criticism surrounding Tibet, which Sri Lanka considers an inalienable province of China," said Jayatilleka.
A handful of Western countries challenged China's record. The Canadian representative, Louis-Martin Aumais questioned China about its alleged use of evidence obtained under torture and its treatment of political prisoners.
"Canada is deeply concerned about reports of arbitrary detention of ethnic minority members, including Tibetans, Uighurs, and Mongols, as well as religious believers including Falun Gong practitioners without information about their charges, their location and well being," he said.
At the end of the session, a parade of Chinese experts answered questions regarding its treatment of ethnic minorities, Tibetans, and human rights defenders. It assured the delegates at the Council that their rights, as well as the right to religious freedom and assembly were well protected.
Fausto Triana, Special correspondent
GENEVA, February 5. — Recognition of Cuba’s achievements in education, health, international solidarity and the defense of its sovereignty were highlighted today in speeches by representatives of various countries regarding Cuba’s report to the Human Rights Council (HRC).
This is part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), administered by a UN working group, which has already processed 54 other countries.
Cuba’s report was presented by Cuban Justice Minister María Esther Reus, who explained that the report was drafted via a broad process of consultation with civil society and more than 200 non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
She emphasized that her country places great importance on the UPR and that the principal quality of the Cuban political system is its ability to constantly improve in response to needs that arise.
It is a genuinely autochthonous project, founded upon a rich history of struggle for equality and solidarity among men and women, independence, sovereignty, nondiscrimination and social justice, she affirmed.
Reus concluded her presentation by noting Cuba’s adherence to the principles of objectivity, impartiality and non-selectivity that should characterize international cooperation on human rights, always open to dialogue.
Various delegates spoke after Reus. More than 100 countries registered to speak, but because of time limitations, only 60 did, 51 of which spoke constructively and the majority with remarks of admiration. The other nine, as always, repeated the same discourse dictated by the empire, serving as its allies.
One note that broke with the stiff tone of the UPR was the speech by the ambassador of Sri Lanka, who was unstinting in his comments of recognition for Cuba, affirming that it is a country in the vanguard of cooperation with the Third World. He referred to the progress of women, Cuba’s support for the anti-apartheid struggle, its medical and literacy missions, its aid in response to the consequences of the tsunami in Sri Lanka and the earthquake in Pakistan, and other issues, ending with a “Hasta la Victoria siempre!” that led to an enthusiastic ovation in Geneva’s Palais de Nations.
Other observations included “impressive results,” “best demonstration of a popular expression of democracy,” “profound commitment to international solidarity despite the U.S. blockade,” and “a Revolution that dignifies its people.”
That led Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuba’s first deputy foreign minister, to comment on the encouraging and respectful environment, in contrast to practices of manipulation and double standards in the former Human Rights Commission.
The three hours of the UPR’s deliberations concluded after speakers from South Africa, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Ecuador, Mexico, Jordan, Pakistan, Algeria, China, Russia, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica took the stand.
To round out other aspects of the report, other members of the Cuban delegation commented on the judicial, parliamentary, labor and social security, and informatics and communications. (PL).
Translated by Granma International
|Last Updated ( Friday, 09 October 2009 )|
|< Prev||Next >|