Thursday, January 01, 2009

More Empty and Shameful Statements

Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi and her organization, the Defenders of Human Rights Center, have been under a tremendous amount of pressure lately. First, the Iranian authorities shut down the Center on December 21, then they confiscated documents from Ebadi's private law office on December 29, and just this morning, a group of about 150 protesters showed up at her private residence, condemning her silence on Gaza.

It goes without saying that official harassment of Ebadi and her colleagues is unacceptable and must end immediately, but when one reads the maddeningly inane statement Ebadi's Defenders of Human Rights Center just put out, it is hard not to feel frustrated with its calculating hypocrisy. Had Ebadi not said anything at all, it would have been better. I have copied and pasted the full translated statement below in italics, with my comments after each paragraph:

What has transpired in recent days in Gaza has been cause for serious concern of human rights defenders and supporters of peace around the world. The raw and extreme violence perpetuated in Gaza has injured the conscience of humanity and it is clear that such developments will only work to further endanger sustainable world peace.

"What has transpired" and the "extreme violence perpetuated"? What, pray tell, has transpired and by whom? I understand the prevalence of passive construction in Persian, I use it all the time myself, but why doesn't Ebadi's statement name Israel in this or any other paragraph? Why don't they give us a sense of "what has transpired"? Why so vague?

The defenseless women and children of the region have been victimized even further by the perpetrators of violence who fathom nothing else but increasing their own power.

Here we go with the womenandchildren again. Are womenandchildren the only ones victimized? Are all dead, wounded, or starving men in the Gaza strip fair targets? And to say that these womenandchildren are victimized "by the perpetrators of violence who fathom nothing else but increasing their own power," is this not the most thinly veiled accusation against Hamas and only Hamas?

The world community has grown tired and impatient with the acts of murder, bloodshed and violence, and what is taking place in Gaza today is yet another example of these bitter and bloody events.

Ok, yes, "the world community", whatever that phrase means, have grown tired of bloodshed. But you know what else is tiresome? Carefully crafted statements by so-called human rights organizations who don't have the guts to call a spade a spade when it comes to anything having to do with Israel and Palestine. This used to be a problem that was particularly evident in the case of US-based organizations, but I guess when you start imagining that your main audience are the US-based groups who invite you to their conferences and arrange speaking tours for you, you have to adjust your language to that which pleases them.

We call upon the international community to react quickly and with force through whatever means possible to end the murder and violence in Gaza, and call upon humanitarian organizations to take necessary steps to defend the basic human rights of the citizens of Gaza and to quickly, seriously and effectively respond to and address the needs of victims in Gaza.

Even in the concluding paragraph, the writers can't bring themselves to name the perpetrators or to give an example of the violence they claim to abhor.

I haven't been this disappointed in Ebadi since she decided to parrot the US demands on Iran regarding the nuclear issue.

The Office for the Consolidation of Unity,dafter-e Tahkeem-e Vahdat, put out a statement on Gaza that was so shamefully bad that it makes Ebadi's look like a the work of a conscientious radical. I may write about them in another post, though I am not sure if they are worth the effort. It suffices to say for now, that I wouldn't expect anything more from a group whose leaders/role models are the likes of former NED fellow Ali Afshari and AEI favorite Akbar Atri.