Thursday, January 20, 2011

Russian opposition: Obama is ignoring Russia's human rights abuse; reset button is worsening the situation

President Obama, it seems, is turning a blind eye to Russia's human rights abuse, which should come as no surprise:
Russian opposition leaders and human rights activists pleaded with top US officials to support their plans for political and social change, but the request was apparently given short-shrift by Washington. [A Russian newspaper], which obtained fresh files from WikiLeaks, reports that the group was consistently critical of the Kremlin and wanted American help for reform.

The members of the opposition accused the US leadership of turning a blind eye to observance of human rights in Russia... Michael McFaul, Special Assistant to The President for National Security Affairs and senior director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the United States National Security Council, met with opposition leaders at the residence of the American envoy to Russia in Moscow. The opposition asked the US to be more critical of civil rights violations taking place in Russia...

Those who were present at such meetings at the US embassy in Moscow also showed some evolution of their opinions over the years. Previously, during George W. Bush’s presidency, they asked the US for softer criticism towards Russia, but these days it is a different story. They seem to believe that there is a lack of harsh critics of Russian policies on America’s part. They even proposed discussing Russia’s internal affairs in the format of representatives from the Russian and American governments and Russian NGOs, but Michael McFaul rejected the idea.

According to the reports, the opposition said: “Washington should pay more attention to significant incidents related to freedom of assembly in Russia. To solve problems in Russia's civic society, parties should sit down at the negotiation table – both Russian and US governments, and representatives from NGOs.” The US’ response was, “It is up to Russian activists to build up their relations with their administration, without relying on America.” Leaders of the Russian opposition also believe that the recent reset of Russia-US relations has had a negative influence on human rights in Russia...

[The Russian Opposition] said that, “To further improve relations between Russia and the US, the Obama administration has ostensibly refrained from vocal support for democratic reform.” In his report to Washington, ambassador John Beyrle proposed that the US should make its position on human rights issues and democracy in Russia more clear to the members of the Russian opposition and explain to what extent the US is willing to be involved in Russia’s domestic issues.

John Laughland, director of studies at the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, believes that the parliamentary opposition in Russia does not have enough support in the country and that is why they are seeking help elsewhere.

“[WikiLeaks] documents show frustration on the part of these groups with the new Obama foreign policy – the “reset,” he said. “These opposition leaders and NGO leaders are going to the Americans and saying that they don’t feel the denunciation is active enough. They are the ones asking for more, and the Americans, in these documents at least, are being slightly reserved....”
Obama's egregious record on human rights is well known: His deafening silence over Iran's rigged election in 2009 received heavy criticism even among the Liberal elite.

In 2009, according to the AP, Egypt’s ambassador to the US expressed satisfaction “that ties [between the US and Egypt] are on the mend and that Washington has dropped conditions for better relations, including demands for ‘human rights, democracy and religious and general freedoms'."

"Conditionality" with Egypt "is not our policy," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview with Egyptian TV. "We also want to take our relationship to the next level."

[The Bush administration, on the other hand, took human rights violations very seriously. Just one example: Egypt released Ayman Nour, the imprisoned opposition leader, after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice canceled a trip to protest his arrest.]

The Daily Mail reported in 2009 that, "the Obama administration has turned off an electronic sign at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana that displayed pro-democracy and human rights messages to Cuban passers-by.

"The news 'zipper' on the fifth floor of the American Interest Section in the Cuban capital had riled the government...

"But it is now shut down amid the administration's efforts to engage with Cuba's leadership..."

President Obama, on several occasions, has indicated that Democracy building was not among his major priorities.

In 2009, the New York Times wrote that, "neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has even uttered the word democracy in a manner related to democracy promotion since taking office....

"The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has put out 30 public releases, so far, and not one of them has discussed democracy promotion.

"Democracy, it seems, is banished from the Obama administration’s public vocabulary."

Appeasement, though, has not been banished from the Obama administration’s public vocabulary. Quite the contrary, it is the keyword and the very crux of Obama's lexicon. For ultimately the President believes his policy of appeasement will make the world all the more better. But in truth, it is this very policy that is emboldening the world's tyrants and, in turn, pulling the US, and the entire free world, into a dark, bottomless abyss.

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