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    Keep the human rights abusers off U.N. council

    Keep the human rights abusers off U.N. council
    By Editorial Board, Published: November 10

    IN RECENT WEEKS, an imprisoned Cuban human rights activist and rapper,
    Angel Yunier Remón, known as “El Critico,” has been on a hunger strike
    against his incarceration, and is reported to be near death. An
    innovative artist with an underground following among impoverished Cuban
    youth, he was jailed March 26 after an altercation at his home staged by
    Castro’s goons, a gambit to coerce him into silence. But instead he has
    been resolute, and fought back.

    Recently, friends and supporters organized a campaign in social media to
    call attention to his plight. But the pace of repression in Cuba is not
    slowing. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
    Reconciliation reports 909 political arrests in October, the highest in
    months. Many of those detained have been part of the “Ladies in White”
    movement, wives and mothers of political prisoners who are arrested on
    Sundays as they walk to and from Mass.

    Washington Post Editorials
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    In an expression of rank hypocrisy, Cuba is seeking a seat on the
    47-member United Nations Human Rights Council. The General Assembly
    votes Nov. 12 for 14 new members . Recently, Rosa Maria Payá, daughter
    of the Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, who died in a suspicious car wreck
    last year, appealed to the body to reject Cuba, noting that death
    threats, arbitrary arrests and violence are routinely used to repress

    According to a General Assembly resolution, candidates for the council
    are supposed to be countries that “uphold the highest standards in the
    promotion and protection of human rights.” Cuba does not meet that
    criterion. Other regimes that resort to brutality and violence because
    they lack genuine political legitimacy are also bidding for seats.
    Admittedly, the council is not the most effective force, but why bestow
    membership on those who brazenly violate basic principles of human dignity?

    Should China, which brooks no challenge to the ruling party’s monopoly
    on power and maintains a gulag of political prisoners and the largest
    Internet censorship operation in the world, be sitting in judgment about
    human rights? Many are reluctant to speak out because of China’s vast
    economic power. This is shameful. Russia, too, wants a place. Its
    qualifications? Two young women of Pussy Riot, the girl band, remain
    imprisoned for staging a protest in a cathedral; a dozen people face
    arbitrary prosecution for participating in the Bolotnaya square
    demonstrations; oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky is entering his 10th
    year behind bars; a regressive wave of legislation in recent months has
    further suffocated civil society.

    Also seeking a seat is Vietnam, which has been rounding up human rights
    defenders, political dissidents, lawyers, journalists, bloggers,
    democracy advocates, religious activists and others. Saudi Arabia wants
    to be on the council, even though it has routinely thrown people into
    prison without charge or trial, and refuses to allow women to drive on
    their own.

    If these countries are given seats, what message does it send to the
    rest of the world? To those like El Critico, bravely standing up to

    Source: “Keep the human rights abusers off U.N. council – The Washington
    Post” –

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