HToughness against Moscow, leniency among friends: In view of the consequences of the Russian war against Ukraine, Amnesty International has denounced double standards. “The West’s determined response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine stands in sharp contrast to a lamentable lack of meaningful action to address serious violations by some of its allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt,” the human rights organization said in its annual report released on Monday 2022/23.
There was also sharp criticism of the Iranian government’s brutal actions against demonstrators, as well as attempts at intimidation with violence and threats from China.
West measure with double standards
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a shocking example of what can happen when states believe they can flout international law and violate human rights without consequences,” said Amnesty Secretary-General Agnès Callamard. “Responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have shown us what can be done when the political will is there.” These tough sanctions measures should be a blueprint for dealing with other human rights abuses.
The fact that the West uses double standards has enabled China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to avoid criticism of their human rights record, Amnesty emphasized. Double standards and inadequate responses to human rights violations have led to impunity and instability around the world. Specifically, Amnesty called “a deafening silence on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, inaction on Egypt and a refusal to confront Israel’s system of apartheid against the Palestinians.”
The Secretary General of Amnesty International Germany, Markus Beeko, said that the Russian war in Ukraine is acting as an accelerator that amplifies negative human rights developments. “Anyone complaining and demanding that other countries respect human rights must also put their own house in order,” he demanded of Germany and the European Union (EU).
Beeko praised Germany’s acceptance of more than a million people from Ukraine as good and important. But granting people protection also means providing the resources to ensure that they are well accommodated and can participate in social life. “The municipalities must be supported by the federal government on a permanent basis,” he demanded. There should also be “no double standards”. “The unbureaucratic help for people from Ukraine should be a blueprint for dealing with people seeking protection from all parts of the world,” Beeko demanded.
Notable developments Protest and flight
Protest and flight were prominent developments in 2022, Beeko said. For example, security authorities in 85 of the 156 countries considered by Amnesty International used unlawful force against protesters. In 35 countries they used lethal weapons and there were killings in 33 countries. In addition, activists were arbitrarily arrested in 79 countries. The right to peaceful protest has been restricted in 29 countries. Around the world, 103 million people fled their homes last year. That’s 20 million more than in 2021, more than ever before, Beeko said.
Against the background of increasing state violence against protest movements worldwide, it is important that freedom of assembly in Germany remains a valuable asset, Beeko warned. That is why Amnesty sees “with concern that more and more federal states are passing repressive assembly laws that restrict the right to peaceful protest and expand the powers of the police, for example in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and most recently in Hesse”. Beeko also called on the federal government and the EU to ban the development, sale and export of biometric surveillance technologies. Such technologies would be used in Iran or Russia, for example, to pursue protesters.
Amnesty also criticized the fact that inadequate investigations into allegations of discriminatory identity checks (racial profiling) in Germany had violated the right to non-discrimination.
Activist: Sanctions against Iran not effective
Mariam Claren, activist and daughter of the Iranian-German women’s rights activist Nahid Taghavi, who was arrested in Iran in October 2020, expressed her dissatisfaction with the German reaction to the Iranian leadership’s violent handling of the current protests in the country. You can see “clear reactions”. For example, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) initiated a special session of the UN Human Rights Council together with Iceland, after which a resolution was passed.
Nevertheless, many sanctions against Iran are not effective, Claren criticized. Again and again individuals would be sanctioned. “But I don’t have the feeling that the federal government has a clear line on the new Iran policy, which I think is needed.” Compared to other countries, there are “a little more reactions from Germany. But there can be no talk of satisfaction,” she said.
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