Dear Jane Duncan,
Perhaps "The Freedom of Expression Institute/ Media Review Network" should now put in a bid for The Sunday Times ? Why not have a word with George Soros... he might back you ?
(Soros funds The FXI so you could have a quiet word in his ear ?)
The Sunday Times suggestion that South Africa is a "skunk" really is the last straw...
November 18, 2007
South Africa's Depraved Foreign Policy Exposed
The Sunday Times, one of South Africa’s leading weekend newspapers, today ran a front page story exposing the South African government for a foreign policy that runs counter to South Africa’s human rights ethos. Many of the most abhorrent examples of South Africa’s voting record at the United Nations, which we have consistently exposed over the last few years, have now thankfully found there way into the mainstream South African media.
Sunday Times: SA now skunk of the world
South Africa’s human rights reputation is in tatters after a series of “sell-out” votes at the UN on issues ranging from rape and gay rights to tyranny.
This week the watchdog UNWatch ranked South Africa last, alongside China, Russia, Pakistan, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, on a human rights list.
Human rights organisations have branded Pretoria “the chief human rights villain”.
SA is accused of shielding Sudan, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar.
A major source for the article was UN Watch, a human rights organisation based in Geneva, who we also regularly rely on for our information. Their reports, documenting the voting pattern of UN Human Rights Council member countries, show South Africa to have consistently taken anti-Human Rights positions. In fact we rank as one of the worst, along with China, Russia, Pakistan, Algeria and Saudi Arabia.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch described South Africa (and India) as “the biggest disappointments among free democracies”. Thomas Wheeler, of the SA Institute of International Affairs, echoed these sentiments complaining that South Africa had “lost the moral high ground.”
The South African government’s response has been posted on the Sunday Time’s website (although it was not published in the newspaper). Rather than dealing with the substance of the accusations, they have chosen to attack the messengers by casting aspersions about UNWatch’s agenda. The government’s response claims that
‘UNWatch is one organization that is actively campaigning to undermine a key South African initiative at the global level, the World Conference Against Racism.
While the world is grappling with and trying to find solutions to the problems of racial hatred and intolerance UN Watch posts articles on its website describing the conference as a “global festival of hatred”.
It is therefore important that while quoting these organizations the Sunday Times should also inform its readers about the extent of their agenda.’
It’s not surprising that the government has chosen to respond to such a serious issue in this manner. Sadly these type of paranoid accusations against any criticism have become commonplace in the twilight of the Mbeki presidency. UN Watch’s objections to the World Conference Against Racism have nothing to do with South Africa. They are guided by a concern for fighting the international institutionalization of anti-Semitism.
I was a delegate to that conference in Durban and I would say ‘global festival of hatred’ is a pretty appropriate title. Does the South African government think it is appropriate for Nazi like cartoons depicting Jews as bloodthirsty animals are acceptable murals for a conference against racism. Or pamphlets bewailing that Hitler lost the war, because there would then have been no Israel. Does selling the protocols of the Elders of Zion (available for R20 , an official publication of the government of Iran) set the right tone for solving the problem of racial hatred I wonder? Here are some of the posters that littered the conference (courtesy eyeontheun.org where you can find more of these monstrous posters).
If this is the case, then it has become clear that the South Africa international agenda is diametrically opposed to that of world Jewry and in fact the entire free world.
Something from our democracy of hypocrisy’s response that also deserves mention is the credit that South Africa claims for the replacement of the now defunct UN Human Rights Commission with the new UN Human Rights Council.
South Africa claims to have supported the creation of a new Human Rights Council because it lost it credibility due to problems of double standards, selectivity and politicization. Further to this South Africa explains that by double standards, they mean that the previous Human Rights body only concerned itself with human rights problems “in some and not in other countries.”
Ok, we can all agree with that. But has the problem of selectivity and double standards been remedied? The smuggness of the South African response suggests that it has.
Perhaps they take us for fools. The new Human Rights Council has only ever passed resolutions against one single country – Israel. No other country, not Sudan, Cuba, China, Myanmar nor Zimbabwe has been condemned by the Council. The problems that afflicted the old guard have been replicated in the new – South Africa should look to other places for credit because there is none to be found in the wretched UN Human Rights Council.
South Africa also respond with the tired and old ‘divisions of labour between the organs of the United Nations.’ This doesn’t fly. If South Africa’s voting could honestly be explained by these technical reasons then their diplomatic relations with the despotic nations would not match their voting records.
Case in point – look at the lavish welcome that the Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir recently received from President Mbeki. No highfalutin explanations of the types of human rights that we protect, or technical meanderings about matching the appropriate UN forum to the right abuse can explain these facts on the ground.
Previously at IAS
A warm SA welcome for the President of Sudan
SA/AU aid and abet Sudanese regime
South African solidarity visit with Belarus
South Africa votes against resolution calling for an end to human rights abuses in Burma
South Africa betrays gay people at the UN
South Africa protects Mugabe at the UN
South Africa expresses support for Iran's nuclear drive
The South Africa/Iran nuclear nexus
South Africa fails to back UN resolution on Holocaust denial