Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Director of Amnesty International Speaks on Terror War

Stephanie Brown/The Hoya Dr. William Schulz, the director of Amnesty International USA, spoke about efforts to help raise the quality of life for Muslims and Arabs on Monday night.

Dr. William Schulz, the director of Amnesty International USA, said the United States should try to improve the social and economic conditions of Muslim and Arab populations and ally itself with European countries to effectively fight terrorism.

Schulz delivered a speech called “Tainted Legacy: The Ruin of Human Rights” to the students of the Human Rights: Culture in Crisis class and the greater Georgetown community, yesterday evening in ICC Auditorium.

“Contrary to ill-informed right-wing opinion in the United States, the vast majority of Muslims did not applaud when the planes hit their targets on 9/11,” Schulz said. “But the vast majority of Muslims are keenly acquainted with poverty and corruption.”

The Arab governments are responsible for the poverty of their citizens, according to Schulz. He stated that the “absence of democracy, lack of good governance, denial of human rights and lowly status of women” as the reasons for under-development in Arab countries.

Schulz said the citizens cannot find “nonviolent ways” to voice their dissent because of the lack of democracy in these countries.

“It is hardly surprising that [these populations] sometimes look with sympathy upon political and religious extremists,” Schulz said.

Schulz described these populations, however, as “undecided” and “persuadable.” He quoted the Yankees manager Casey Stengel: “The secret of a great baseball manager is to keep the two guys who hate your guts away from the three guys who are undecided.”

Schulz said the United States should do two things to persuade these populations against supporting terrorist activity. The first one, he said, is to improve their economic and social conditions.

“Cozying up with the Saudi royal family” and “overlooking Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s repressive ways” are not good ways to champion democracy and good governance in these countries, according to Schulz.

He also said the United States should be considerate of human rights in its own conduct. “Every time we violate rights here at home, we make it harder for moderate Muslims, to say nothing of our European allies, to stand with us,” he said.

Schulz further said the right to safety in the United States, and the right to liberty, fall into conflict as the United States tries to fight with terrorism. He gave several examples of human rights violations in the United States.

One example Schulz gave was of Cheik Melainine ould Belai, one of the 1,200 foreign nationals who was arrested after Sept. 11, 2001. He said Belai was not told what he was charged with, and he was not provided a translator even though his English was limited.

Another example Schulz gave was the treatment of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. He said the United States is violating the Geneva Convention by “refusing to allow a `competent tribunal’ to determine whether prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are `prisoners of war’ or, as the government unilaterally and arbitrarily contends, `unlawful combatants.'”

Schulz said the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights is constituted of “non-derogable” and “derogable” rights. The United States has not registered its derogation of human rights to the United Nations, according to Shulz. He said even republican Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), has recently said that the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay should either be “charged or released.”

Schulz also recalled the allegations of The Washington Post and The New York Times that the American interrogators are torturing the prisoners at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. He said that it is a human right not to be tortured.

The U.S. government is outspoken about human rights violations in small countries like Burma and Cuba, but does not speak out when it comes to the violations Russia and China commit, he said.

“Human rights advocates have an obligation to work with government, not just always criticize it, to find the right balance between security and liberty,” Schulz said.

He said the Amnesty International has an obligation to report on funding or recruitment for terrorist activity of a government. He also said along with letter writing, e-mailing and faxing to create awareness, Amnesty International also tries to influence democratic governments, corporations and international financial institutions. These actors have more power to influence the countries that violate human rights, according to Schulz.

Schulz said Amnesty International was founded in 1961 to “bare witness to human rights violations.”

Schulz came to Georgetown as part of the Pacem in Terris lecture series. The series is co-sponsored by the Office of the President, the Catholic Studies Program, the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service, the Office of Mission and Ministry and the Woodstock Theological Center.

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