OPINIONS Observer: Human rights record of US is appalling


Observer: Human rights record of US is appalling

By Li Yunlong | People's Daily app

20:58, April 07, 2021

For many years, the US has disguised itself as a champion of human rights and an incarnation of justice. However, while the US constantly accuses other countries of violating human rights, it never looks into the human rights issues back home.

The truth is the country has an ignoble record of human rights and serious violations of human rights. Such a country is in no way qualified to make carping comments on the human rights situations in other countries.

The US government's incompetent response to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to human rights tragedies.

Faced with an epidemic rarely seen in human history, the Trump administration had repeatedly ignored warnings of the pandemic given by the World Health Organization (WHO) and public health agencies in the US.

Certain US politician deliberately downplayed the epidemic situation and the federal government failed to take effective measures, the country lost crucial weeks for pandemic prevention and control.

As the epidemic situation continued to get worse, the US government, however, paid little regard for scientific public health principles and was not willing to control the virus through thorough testing, tracing and isolation. Instead, it fantasized about bringing the crisis to an end with magic new medicines.

Although the virus was spreading in a vast area in the US, then American leader and some state officials had been extremely reluctant to issue any decree to make wearing masks mandatory.

Even when the COVID-19 situation was out of control in the US and the country’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and death toll from the disease rose to the highest in the world, the Trump administration was hasty to restart the economy due to political concerns. Several states rushed to reopen and caused the virus to shift to the South, West and eventually the rest of the United States.

The American people have paid a heavy price for the government's misconduct during the outbreak. As of the end of February 2021, the US, with a population of less than 5 percent of the world's total, accounted for more than 25 percent of all the confirmed cases and nearly 20 percent of the deaths from the COVID-19.

The rights of Native Americans have been seriously infringed. The modern history of Native Americans is a history of colonization and genocide. Today, Native Americans still live a life like second-class citizens and their rights have been trampled over.

Among Native Americans, 21.9 percent live below the poverty line, as compared to 9.6 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

The average life expectancy of American Indians is 5.5 years lower than that of all races in the US. The incidences of diabetes, chronic liver disease, and alcohol dependence of the racial group are 3.2 times, 4.6 times, and 6.6 times the US average, respectively.

A UN report said that some of the most devastating effects of COVID-19 had been felt by racial and ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples. The hospitalization rate of Native Americans was five times that of non-Hispanic white Americans; and the death rate of Native Americans also far exceeded that of white Americans.

The human rights of African Americans in the US have also been crushed. Although slavery has been abolished for over a century, African Americans are still denied equal access to rights.

African Americans face severe racial discrimination, which can be easily seen in the workplace and daily life. As it suffers from systematic employment discrimination, the racial group sees higher unemployment rate, fewer job opportunities, and lower wages. In the past 40 years, the unemployment rate of African American workers has maintained twice that of whites.

Racial discrimination in law enforcement is also commonly seen in the US. Media report showed that African Americans made up 13 percent of the US population, and yet one-third of all imprisoned people, which means that there were more than 1,000 African American prisoners for every 100,000 African Americans.

Unchecked police violence has led to frequent deaths of African Americans. Data revealed that African Americans accounted for more than 28 percent of the fatal shootings by the police, and were three times as likely as whites to be killed by the police.

In May 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, died after being brutally kneeled on his neck by a white police officer for eight minutes. The brutality of American police toward African Americans captured on video sparked a national outcry, and the movement "Black Lives Matter" has then spread across the country.

The US is the country with the most civilian-held firearms in the world. The number of guns held by civilians in the US has far exceeded the total population of the country, and is showing an upward trend.

Frequent gun-related violence, large or small, has become an iconic feature of the country. Against the background of an out-of-control epidemic and social instability, Americans bought a total of 23 million guns in 2020. The surge of the sales of guns resulted in a large number of shooting deaths. Last year, a record high of more than 41,500 people died by gun violence in the US.

Within only 11 days from March 16 to 26, 2021, eight shooting incidents were reported in the US, including the Atlanta spa shootings in Georgia and the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, which caused at least 23 deaths.

While boasting itself as a defender of human rights and making irresponsible remarks about other countries on the topic, the US government seems unable to tackle the major human rights issue that tens of thousands of American citizens are killed in gunshots every year.

How is such a government that can't guarantee the safety of the people in its own country qualified to judge the human rights situations in other countries?

The author is a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (National Academy of Governance). The opinions expressed in the article reflect those of the author, and not necessarily those of the People's Daily app.

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