Friday 15 August 2008

Human Rights Watch: Violations from all sides (updated)

It is not surprising to hear but Human Rights Watch reports about the violation of human right from all sides - Russia, Georgia, and South Ossetia - in the recent war-like crisis in the Caucasus:
"Forces on both sides in the conflict between Georgia and Russia appear to have killed and injured civilians through indiscriminate attacks, respectively, on the towns of Gori and Tskhinvali, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch expressed its deep concern over the apparently indiscriminate nature of the attacks that have taken such a toll on civilians."
And the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) - which has binding authority over Georgia and Russia - has issued the following statement:
"[T]he current situation gives rise to a real and continuing risk of serious violations of the [European] Convention [on Human Rights]. With a view to preventing such violations and pursuant to Rule 39 [interim measures], the President calls upon both the High Contracting Parties concerned [Georgia and Russia] to comply with their engagements under the Convention particularly in respect of Articles 2 [Right to Life] and 3 [Prohibition of Inhuman and Degrading Treatment] of the Convention.

[...] [T]he President further requests both Governments concerned to inform the Court of the measures taken to ensure that the Convention is fully complied with."
The media and most of the blogosphere is talking about geopolitics, about who has gained or lost influence in the region, and who is to blame and who not. Commentators argue about diplomatic victories, political inability, present philosophical and legal assessments, care about international law and even refer to chaos theory. I myself have argued about the weakness of the EU Council conclusions, and in geopolitical terms I am right - but at least the text puts a lot of emphasis on humanitarian questions, which is actually the right thing to do.

The fact that human rights abuses have occurred and that a humanitarian crisis is on the way (yet another one, I might add), is much more important than all this political analyst chitchat (no offence intended to those linked in this article!).

But instead of really caring for human rights, the "leaders" of Russia and Georgia are playing games: Making war crime accuses the continuation of the war itself is nothing by cynical. Playing with human rights as political weapon while tolerating human rights abuses of their own troops is disgusting. Those political leaders are nothing but ignorant, because they miss the point of being the leaders of human beings.

History of mankind is the history of war, people killing people, reciprocity of cruelties, and suffering for nothing but national, regional, and global politics. Instead of solving conflicts, we spend hours and days talking about them, creating them through repetition and disguising the real issues behind the concepts of "nation", "territory", "international law". In fact, it is not Russia against Georgia, Georgia against South Ossetia, the East against the West, it is human beings killing human beings because other human beings (allegedly) have been killing other human beings.

Whether Russia has used cluster bombs or not is a detail, important to discuss if you are far away, but unimportant if you or your children have been killed.

There have been human rights abuses in this conflict as in most conflicts before. That is the message everyone should get!

The rest is nothing but winding each other up about political and legal terms.


Anonymous said...

True the humanitarian dimension to this conflict has been underreported/underdiscussed, notwithstanding occasional "the cargo plane with aid just landed" reports.