Human rights record of the United States in 2012
Updated: 2013-04-22 07:25
Kimani Gray Protest on Church Ave between E55th st Nostrand Ave, and in Brooklyn, NY on March 13. In response to the shooting of a 16-year-old boy by police, protesters in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn have been holding nightly vigils and marches and there have been frequent clashes with NYPD. (Stephanie Keith / Polaris)
Editor's note: The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China published a report titled "Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012" on Sunday. Following is the full text:
The State Department of the United States recently released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, posing as "the world judge of human rights" again. As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it. Facts show that there are serious human rights problems in the U.S. which incur extensive criticism in the world. The Human Rights Record of the U.S. in 2012 is hereby prepared to reveal the true human rights situation of the U.S. to people across the world by simply laying down some facts.
The human rights situation in the U.S. in 2012 has deeply impressed people in the following aspects:
Firearms-related crimes posed serious threat to the lives and personal security of citizens in the U.S. Some shootings left astonishing casualties, such as the school shooting in Oakland, the Century 16 theater shooting in Colorado and the school shooting in Connecticut.
In the U.S., elections could not fully embody the real will of its citizens. Political contributions had, to a great extent, influenced the electoral procedures and policy direction. During the 2012 presidential election, the voter turnout was only 57.5 percent.
In the U.S., citizens' civil and political rights were further restricted by the government. The government expanded the scope of eavesdropping and censoring on personal telecommunications. The police often abused their power, resulting in increasing complaints and charges for infringement upon civil rights. The proportion of women in the U.S. who fell victims of domestic violence and sexual assault kept increasing.
The U.S. has become one of the developed countries with the greatest income gap. In 2011, the Gini index was 0.477 in the U.S. and about 9 million people were registered as unemployed; About 16.4 million children lived in poverty and, for the first time in history, public schools reported more than one million homeless children and youth.
There was serious sex, racial and religious discrimination in the U.S. Indigenous people suffered serious racial discrimination and their poverty rate doubled the national average. A movie produced by a U.S. director and aired online was deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, sparking protests by the Muslims worldwide.
The U.S. seriously infringed upon human rights of other nations. In 2012, U.S. military operations in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan caused massive civilian casualties. U.S. soldiers had also severely blasphemed against local residents' religion by burning copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, and insulting bodies of the dead. There was a huge rise in birth defects in Iraq since the war against Iraq with military actions in which American forces used metal contaminant-releasing white phosphorus shells and depleted uranium bombs.
The U.S. was not able to effectively participate in international cooperation on human rights. To date, the U.S. remains a country which has not participated in or ratified a series of core UN conventions on human rights, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
On Life and Personal Security
The U.S. was haunted by serious violent crimes in 2012 with frequent occurrence of firearms-related criminal cases. Its people's lives and personal security were not duly protected.
According to statistics released by the FBI in September 2012, an estimated 1,203,564 violent crimes occurred in the U.S. in 2011, about 386.3 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. Aggravated assaults accounted for 62.4 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement. Robbery reached 29.4 percent of violent crimes, forcible rape accounted for 6.9 percent, and murder amounted to 1.2 percent of estimated violent crimes in 2011. And firearms were used in 67.7 percent of the nation' s murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and 21.2 percent in all crimes in the U.S.
Americans are the most heavily armed people in the world per capita. According to a CNN report on July 23, 2012, there were an estimated 270 million guns in the hands of civilians in the U.S. and more than 100,000 people were shot by guns each year. In 2010, there were more than 30,000 deaths caused by firearms. However, the U.S. government has done little in gun control. In 2008 and 2010 landmark Supreme Court rulings on two firearms-related cases dramatically diminished the authority of state and local governments to limit gun ownership. Roughly half of the 50 U.S. states have adopted laws allowing gun owners to carry their guns openly in most public places. And many states have 'stand your ground' laws that allow people to kill if they come under threat, even, in some cases, if they can escape the threat without violence. According to an article on the website of the Hindu on August 7, 2012, in population-adjusted terms, civilians in some parts of the U.S. are more likely to become the victim of a firearms-related murder than their counterparts in war-torn regions like Iraq or Afghanistan. On January 16, 2013, the U.S. president announced 23 steps on gun control to take immediately without congressional approval. And the president signed three of the measures. But the public opinion generally believes that the gun-control measures will encounter great resistance.
According to a report on the USA Today's website on October 17, 2012, the violent crime rate went up 17 percent in 2011. Firearms-related violent crimes posed as one of the most serious threats to the lives and personal security of the U.S. citizens. Statistics showed that an estimated 14,612 people fell victims of murder in 2011 and 9,903 of them were firearms-related murder victims (Website of the Congressional Research service, www.fas.org, November 14, 2012). The U.S. witnessed more firearms-related violent crimes in 2012. According to NYPD statistics published on September 2, 2012, there had been 1,001 shootings so far that year in New York, about 3.4 percent more than the 968 reported at the same time the previous year (NY Daily News, September 9, 2012). According to statistics from the website of Chicago Police Department, there were 2,460 shooting incidents in Chicago in 2012, up 10 percent year on year. Some of the shootings were quite bloody and terrifying, such as the movie theater shooting in Colorado and the school shooting in Connecticut.
On July 20, 2012, James E. Holmes, 24, entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, carrying an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one handgun. He sprayed people at the theater who were watching a movie, leaving at least 12 dead and 59 wounded. A witness said: "He was just literally shooting everyone, like hunting season." According to a CNN report on July 21, law enforcement documents showed that the weapons were purchased legally by Holmes at sporting goods stores in the Denver area over a six-month period before the shooting happened. According to a CNN report on July 23, in wake of the shooting rampage in Colorado, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "I don't think there's any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have."
On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He committed suicide after that. But before he came to the school, he had shot and killed his mother. The incident was the second deadliest school shooting in the U.S. history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre which left 32 killed.