The murder of Keenan Anderson and human rights in the US
By Taslima Hyat
China Daily

The Capitol Hill in Washington DC, Dec 4, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)

Such is the belief in human rights that many are vocal about the implementation of this issue while many are afraid to even talk about human rights. Others act as perpetrators of human rights abuses. Again, many are very vocal in making statements in favor of human rights, yet don’t practice human rights themselves. However, those who are deprived of the adaptive aspects of human rights should become protestors or speak for a group or groups on behalf of the deprived.

Among the reasons why the United States has come into the discussion on human rights issues, several reasons are subversive. First of all, if any human rights violation occurs in another country outside the United States, the country immediately issues a statement and sends a strong protest letter to the press and the embassy of each country. Second, the United States imposes commercial and diplomatic sanctions on countries in the wake of human rights violations. Third, the country is very vocal on paper on human rights issues and the published reports on human rights in various countries from the State Department's Justice Center are very important. Fourth, since many news about domestic human rights issues in the United States are not published in the media, there is little opportunity for others to know about the human rights of the respective countries, so there is little opportunity for others to be informed about the real situation of human rights in the United States.

Human rights issues vary from state to state and country to country. The human rights of a citizen of Sweden are not the same as the human rights of a citizen of Afghanistan. People's needs and expectations vary depending on the context and situation. Terrorist attacks on children's schools in America are definitely a violation of human rights because it is the government's responsibility to ensure a safe learning environment for students in schools. A few days ago, a citizen of Bangladeshi origin was indiscriminately shot dead by the police forces. Apartheid still exists widely in the country, with black citizens being exploited and tortured in many cases. In any civilized country people cannot valued on the basis of skin color, it amounts to barbarism. The criteria for evaluating people should be the cause of human efficiency and accountability to the state. But apartheid is still prevalent in some areas in the United States, which cannot be accepted in any way.

Recently, the police of the country have been accused of killing Keenan Anderson, the cousin of Patrice Cullers, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, in Los Angeles. This incident has caused an uproar across the United States. The Los Angeles Police Department has released body camera footage of the accused police officer. "They're trying to make me George Floyd," Anderson is heard saying. Another video shows Anderson lying on the sidewalk as officers hold him down. Anderson was screaming for help from the officers. Later he died while being taken to the hospital. Keenan, 31, used to teach at a school called Digital Pioneers Academy in Washington DC. He also has a six-year-old son. According to a study by the medical journal The Lancet, 30,800 deaths from police violence were recorded in the United States from 1980 to 2018.

Allegedly, most of the deaths were not reported in the country's official records. Meanwhile, the first few days of 2023 saw three deaths at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department: Anderson, Takar Smith, 45, and Oscar Sanchez, 35. After releasing the body camera footage of the three incidents, LAPD chief Michelle Moore said she was deeply concerned about the deaths.

Reviews of the human rights situation in the United States at various UN forums have come up with many uncomfortable observations. The Universal Periodic Review of the country was held at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, and the issue of structural discrimination based on race was the most discussed there. It called on the country to end discrimination based on race, religion and gender, hate speech, religious intolerance, violence and brutal treatment of migrants, as well as reform the judiciary. The right to peaceful assembly, the use of police force to suppress protests and the risk to journalists were also discussed. UN independent experts at the forum called for an end to impunity for alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the global fight against terrorism.

It is said that if the United States does not deal with anyone on a bilateral issue, the United States spontaneously imposes various sanctions on the country. And if there is an opportunity to bring forward any issue related to terrorism, there is evidence against them to wipe out the country in terms of war against terrorism. In the war on terror, the human rights of ordinary citizens are widely violated. But there was no room to question whether the war on terror was actually justified. In the situation where they are supposed to work to ensure the human rights of the people of their own country, instead of doing that, they have taken away the human rights of the common people of other countries. Every year the country publishes reports on various issues of human rights, expressing their views on different countries but their indifference towards their own country is obvious. Therefore, the United States should present the real picture of human rights of their country from the State Department of Justice, then the people of the whole world will have a clear idea about the picture of human rights of that country.

The state has recently failed to establish the voting rights of the general public. Ensuring the right to vote is one of the main adjuncts to the establishment of fundamental human rights in a democratic state. In the last election in America, the world watched the internal chaos in their midst. Again, the human rights institutions there do not always come out publicly to ensure the human rights of the citizens of their respective countries or talk about their rights. So how happy is the overall human rights situation in the United States! Therefore, the country should work diligently to establish the human rights of its citizens. The United Nations human rights organizations should put pressure on the United States so that the United States stops interfering in other countries and focuses more on doing the right thing in establishing the human rights of its own citizens.

Taslima Hyat is a freelance journalist and researcher.