The United States will talk about human rights everywhere, including its allies and at home, promised Secretary of State Antony Blinken, turning a page on Donald Trump as he lamented the deterioration in the world.
Introducing the State Department’s first human rights report under President Joe Biden, the new top US diplomat took some of his sharpest, but still veiled, blows as the Trump administration.
“Some have argued that it is not worth the United States to speak out forcefully for human rights – or that we should only highlight abuses in certain countries, and only in one way. which directly promotes our national interests, ”Blinken told reporters in clear reference. approaching Trump.
“But these people are missing the point. Defending human rights around the world is in the interest of the United States, ”he said.
“And the Biden-Harris administration will stand up to human rights violations wherever they occur, whether the perpetrators are adversaries or partners.”
Blinken ordered the return of assessments in the annual report on country records on access to reproductive health, which were suppressed under the staunchly anti-abortion Trump administration.
Blinken also denounced a commission by his predecessor Mike Pompeo that sought to redefine the American approach to human rights by giving preference to private property and religious freedom while downplaying reproductive and LGBTQ rights.
During Pompeo’s tenure, the State Department was aggressive in opposing references to reproductive and gender rights in the UN and other multilateral documents.
“There is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others,” Blinken said.
In another change of tone from Trump, Blinken said the United States recognizes its own challenges, including “systemic racism.”
“This is what separates our democracy from autocracies: our ability and our willingness to face our own shortcomings in broad daylight, to continue this more perfect union.”
Blinken has expressed concern over abuses around the world, including in China, again speaking of the “genocide” committed against the Uyghur community.
The report estimates that over a million Uyghurs and other members of predominantly Muslim communities have been rounded up in internment camps in the western Xinjiang region, and another two million are subjected to re-education training every day. .
“Human rights trend lines continue to shift in the wrong direction. We see evidence of this in all parts of the world, ”Blinken said.
He said the Biden administration prioritized coordination with its allies, highlighting recent joint efforts on Xinjiang, China’s crackdown in Hong Kong and the alleged Russian poisoning of dissident Alexei Navalny.
Blinken also expressed concern over the Burmese military’s deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, attacks on civilians in Syria and a campaign in Ethiopia’s Tigray which he previously called ethnic cleansing.
The report, written in crisp factual language, did not spare longtime US allies.
He reported allegations of unlawful killings and torture in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, citing human rights groups who said Egypt was detaining between 20,000 and 60,000 people mainly because of their political beliefs.
Biden previously declassified US intelligence that revealed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorized the gruesome murder of US writer Jamal Khashoggi.
While the human rights report has remained intact under Trump, the previous administration argued that rights were of lesser importance than other concerns with allies such as Saudi Arabia – a major producer of oil and US arms buyer who supported Trump’s hawkish line against Iran, whose record was also extensively discussed in the report.
The latest report also detailed the incidents in India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a growing US ally.
He cited non-governmental groups who reported the use in India of “torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention to obtain forced or false confessions” and quoted journalists who felt that “freedom of the press was diminished. “, Including physical harassment of journalists, pressure on owners frivolous lawsuits.