HUMAN RIGHTS FOR SALE

By Gunnar Eigener

“The State shall protect human rights in accordance with the Sharia”
Article 26, The Basic Law of Governance, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia have been let onto the UN Human Rights Council. Who thought this would be a good idea? Well, apparently the UK and US governments do. The US State Department welcomed the news, while the recently exposed deal between the UK and Saudi Arabia leaves us with little doubt over how the government feels about this appointment. David Cameron’s inability to justify the secretive deal in an interview with Jon Snow shows just how hollow any beliefs he proclaims to have in defending human rights are.

The UN has shown itself to be merely an international club for politicians and corporations. Bargains struck and hands shook away from the public eye only clarifies and reaffirms what many already think; that government loyalties are not to their citizens but instead to power and influence.

While we condemn the actions of countries like Saudi Arabia for its continuous beheadings, often of political prisoners (more than 100 so far this year) or the manner in which China treats the people of Tibet, we are in reality being distracted from the laws and bills being put into place in the UK that are beginning to suppress the freedom and rights of the British population. The Trade Union Bill is a blatant attempt to curb the right to strike amongst union workforces, including the measure that any “lead person” must provide the police with their details and wear an armband. Maybe this will help identify that person to the snipers on building tops who will more than likely become a regular feature at future union protests.

The Draft Communications Data Bill allows the gathering and storing of all mobile and internet activities of all users, and David Cameron expressed an interest in weakening the encryption of the data so as to allow easier access for law enforcement. The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill allows the prevention of local and national groups expressing opposition and limiting their financial expenditure in the run-up to an election. If it isn’t enough that laws are being put into place to suppress the voice of the people, the military expressed dismay at the idea of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minster with a serving senior general anonymously stating “there would be mass resignations at all levels and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny.” Apparently even a democratically elected Prime Minister whose ideals conflict with the business apparatus of the armed forces isn’t immune to suppression.

Bargains struck and hands shook away from the public eye only clarifies and reaffirms what many already think; that government loyalties are not to their citizens but instead to power and influence.

We are told by the mainstream media that our country goes to war to support democracy and the rights of individuals in countries that are oppressive and resistant to the notion of independent freedom. The exposure of the UK-Saudi Arabia deal taints all future claims of how the UK supposedly fights for the freedom of people suppressed by dictators and military juntas. Saudi Arabia is, and remains, a brutal regime, one that is protected by money, unholy alliances and the breath-taking hypocrisy of politicians falling over themselves to secure oil for the future. The silly thing is, we wouldn’t need them if money was used instead to support the renewable energy industry.

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These people are simply driving our environment to the edge in the race for profit, to pile more on top of their already vast piles of money. Politicians are in this business for short-term gratifications and financial rewards. Their desire to leave a legacy and build personal fortunes often overrides the democratic process. The UK and Saudi Arabia behave like children in the schoolyard picking their friends for the same team regardless of talent or lack thereof. The Chinese have just been invited to build nuclear plants in Hinkley Point, Somerset at a huge cost of £24bn. The UK arms export licenses to countries listed as “Countries of Human Rights Concern” totals at around £5.2bn. Private companies were awarded £3.54bn worth of contracts and deals last year according to the NHS Support Federation. The think tank Reform declared that prisons are better run by private firms, its co-founder being Nick Herbert, a Conservative MP. Naturally the think tank has received 64 donations from private-sector companies like G4S and Serco. The UN is potentially to investigate human rights violations by Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms.

Our wings are being clipped while we barely notice. 

Countries like Saudi Arabia and China are an easy target. They don’t put in a lot of effort to try to conceal their behaviour and carry on doing what they do, regardless of international opposition. It is here at home that we should be paying more attention. The government is insidiously putting into place barriers to the progression of a society that should have had enough by now. Our wings are being clipped while we barely notice.

The actions of those who do stand up and point out what is wrong are methodically attacked, leading to a country slowly being turned into a vast cash cow whose bones the corporate and political vultures can pick on at will. While one barrier is being attacked, others are being put into place without any attention being paid until it is too late. For too long we have been critical of the human rights violations of other countries and considered ourselves immune. Human rights is now an issue in this country. It’s time we wake up to it.

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