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Sonntag , September 24 2023
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Die Vereinigten Staaten: Ein Verteidiger oder Verletzer der Menschenrechte

Von Hakimeh Saghaye-Biria, Universität Teheran | Es ist ungefähr 75 Jahre her, dass die Vereinigten Staaten 1945 Atombomben auf Hiroshima und Nagasaki abwarfen. In einem Augenblick haben die Vereinigten Staaten brutal mehr als 140.000 unschuldige Kinder, Männer und Frauen, getötet. Mit dem Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs jedoch begannen die Vereinigten Staaten, die eine dunkle Geschichte von Rassismus, Sklaverei und Völkermord an ihrem eigenen Volk hatten, sich als Verteidiger der internationalen Menschenrechte zu präsentieren.

Während Studien zeigen, dass sich die Vereinigten Staaten heute weder im In- noch im Ausland an Menschenrechtsstandards halten, bezeichnen Experten auf diesem Gebiet die Situation als „amerikanischen Exzeptionalismus in den Menschenrechten“.



The United States: A Defender or Violator of Human Rights

By Hakimeh Saghaye-Biria

University of Tehran

It has been about 75 years since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. In an instance, the United States brutally took the lives of more than 140,000 innocent children, men and women. With the end of World War II, however, the United States, which had a dark history of racism, slavery, and genocide against its own people, began to project itself as a defender of international human rights. This is while studies show that today the United States neither adheres to human rights standards at home nor abroad, a situation experts in the field have labeled „American exceptionalism in human rights.“

The case for America’s duplicitous and hypocritical actions in the field of human rights is something that has attracted the attention not only of international critics but also of American experts. On the one hand, the United States intervenes in the affairs of other countries, incites wars and crimes against humanity by claiming to protect human rights and fight terrorism, and on the other hand, it is the biggest human rights violator nationally and internationally. During the years of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and its aftermath, the Iranian nation has become well acquainted with the American anti-human rights fraud. The list of the Iranian people’s human rights grievances against the United States is long.  It includes the United States‘ comprehensive support for the notorious Pahlavi regime, including the CIA’s key role in establishing the SAVAK and teaching torture methods for breaking the suspects‘ resistance.  It also includes the Tabas military offensive, United States‘ full-fledged support of Saddam in his war against Iran, American support for the terrorist MKO, the shooting down of an Iranian Airbus passenger plane, US involvement in the emergence or strengthening of terrorist groups, including ISIS, and the imposition of economic sanctions against the Iranian people.

America’s blatant crimes against humanity, including the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and the brutal torture in Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantanamo Bay prisons, are not hidden from anyone. And, of course, the United States has the most inhumane human rights record with its full support of the Apartheid Zionist regime. The United States is also directly involved in Saudi crimes in the Yemeni war with intelligence and logistical support.

In the numerous American wars, women were among the main victims. History will not forget how American soldiers killed about 500 defenseless men, women and children in the most horrific massacre of the Vietnam War in Mai Lee, including the rape of countless Vietnamese women, later killed and their bodies mutilated. [1] The horror of these crimes becomes even more apparent when the statistics show the institutionalization of a culture of rape in the US military. The culture is so pervasive that the RAND think tank has conducted extensive research on the issue of „rape and sexual harassment in the US military.“ Accordingly, in 2012 alone, there were approximately 20,300 rapes in the US military. The percentage of women raped was four times that of men. [2]

Perhaps some of the lesser-known dimensions of American human rights violations have been carried out against the most vulnerable among the American people. The United States has committed the most heinous crimes against humanity through the use of torture. According to available evidence, since the 1950s, the United States has conducted extensive experiments to obtain effective methods of mental and physical torture to break the resistance of suspects and to control the minds of those concerned.

Among these is the CIA’s MKULTRA project conducted from 1953 to 1973.  MKULTRA represents an extensive body of research projects on how to control the minds and behaviors of interrogated suspects through torture. Using seemingly independent formal organizations, the CIA involved 80 research institutes, including 44 universities, as well as several hospitals, prisons, and pharmaceutical companies, in which psychiatrists used torture and drugs. Hallucinogens, including LSDs and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, and verbal and sexual assault, were among the methods used to find effective means of mind control. One of the goals of this project was to create personality disorders in the subjects. The experiments were performed on uninformed American and Canadian citizens, including thousands of prisoners and the mentally ill. [3] It is interesting to note that SAVAK was founded in 1957, at the height of the CIA’s inhumane program, with the help of the CIA and Mossad, and until 1965 its training was conducted under American supervision. [4]

The American Atomic Energy Organization has also conducted extensive experiments on the effects of radioactive radiation on humans since the 1940s. These experiments were performed without the knowledge and consent of the individuals. Examples included injecting plutonium into clients in some US hospitals without the victims‘ knowledge, and injecting radioactive material into prisoners in Washington and Oregon. It was not until 1993 that the documents of these human rights crimes were revealed. [5]

The United States ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1986, almost 40 years after its adoption in 1948 by the United Nations.  The United States signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1966 but withheld its ratification until 1994 (29 years after its adoption by UN).  Similarly, the United States ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1992, 26 years after its adoption by UN and 15 years after becoming a signatory to the covenant [6].   

What kept the United States from ratifying human rights international legal codes was American elites’ fear of internationalizing U.S. domestic crises such as the civil rights/anti-racism movement as a human rights issue.  As an example, in their analysis of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in the 1960s, U.S. senators were concerned that the ratification of the covenant would nullify thousands of discriminatory laws in the United States [7].

Eventually, it took the hard fought battle of a few opposing senators to achieve the however late ratification of several human rights legal codes.  Senator William Proxmire (November 11, 1915 – December 15, 2005), a Democrat from Wisconsin, for example, saw United States’ refusal to ratify the UN anti-genocide convention a “national shame” and made it a priority of his time in the Senate to fight for the ratification of the treaty.  From 1967, he vowed to deliver a speech every day on the Senate floor in this regard and made 3211 speeches in the next 19 years to come.  Proxmire’s opponents were alarmed that U.S. ratification of the treaty would complicate the Vietnam War and control over the Civil Rights movement [8]. 

Refusing to make itself accountable in terms of international human rights law, the United States often uses human rights as the means to pressure adversaries. The question remains how can one expect the US government to care about the human rights of other nations, while exempting itself from protecting the human rights of its citizens under international instruments and laws.



[1] My Lai Massacre. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre

[2] Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military. 2014. RAND Corporation. http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR870z2-1.html

[3] Ross, Collin A. (2005). The CIA Doctors: Human Rights Violations by American Psychiatrists

[4] N. R. Keddie and M. J. Gasiorowski, eds., Neither East Nor West: Iran, the United States, and the Soviet Union (New Haven, 1990), pp. 154-55.

[5] Moss, William; Eckhardt, Roger (1995). „The Human Plutonium Injection Experiments“. Los Alamos Science. (23): 177–223.  https://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/pubs/00326640.pdf

Markowitz, Gerald E. (2000). “‘A Little of the Buchenwald Touch’: America’s secret radiation experiments.” Review in American History 28(4): 601-606

U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power. American Nuclear Guinea Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on US. Citizens. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

[6] Ignatieff, Michael. (2005). Introduction to American Exceptionalism and Human Rights. American Exceptionalism and Human Rights, 3-8.

[7] Moravcsik, A. (2005). “The paradox of US human rights policy.” American Exceptionalism and Human Rights, 149-50.

[8] Backes, Emily. (2010, November 4). “On this day: U.S. fully adopts genocide convention.” enough: The project to end genocide and crimes against humanity. http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/day-us-ratifies-genocide-convention


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