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Jewish World Review Feb. 13, 2006/ 15 Shevat, 5766

Nat Hentoff

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The other U.N. scandals


http://www.NewsandOpinion.com | Laura Bush has said of Pakistan's Mukhtar Mai that she "proves that one woman can really change the world." In 2002, by order of a village council, Mai was gang raped publicly and paraded naked before hundreds of onlookers for purported misconduct not involving her, but by her brother. Despite threats, she convinced a higher Pakistan court to overturn the verdict, giving the compensation money to open a school in her village. But on Jan. 20, The New York Times reported that her scheduled appearance at the United Nations that day was canceled by the United Nations.


At the United Nations' television studios, she was to appear in "An Interview with Mukhtar Mai, The Bravest Woman on Earth." But Pakistan protested because Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz would be at the United Nations that very day, and accordingly, the United Nations officials didn't want to embarrass this dignitary. Said U.N. undersecretary general for communications, Shashi Tharoor: "We are obliged to take into account the views formally expressed by member states."


But it was only after news accounts of what happened that Secretary-General Kofi Annan, very embarrassed, offered to reschedule Mai, to be co-sponsored by Pakistan.


Then, recently, for only the second time in U.N. history, a movie, "Che" — glorifying the ruthless presiding executioner in Castro's Cabana prison from 1957 to 1959 — was permitted to be filmed in the U.N.'s General Assembly, with Annan's authorization.


While he was commander of that notorious Havana prison, Che Guevara ordered and often personally executed — according to the Free Society Project's Truth Recovery Archive — more than 200 Cubans. As the archival project's director, Maria Werlau, said to the Jan. 30 New York Sun, "Che stood for the opposite of what the U.N. charter upholds."


The glowing promises of the U.N. charter, however, have often been betrayed. Steadily increasing numbers of black Africans in Darfur, for example, have been murdered, gang raped and torn from their villages by the government of Sudan, while the veto power of China on the Security Council — where this celebration of Guevara was filmed — preclude any meaningful intervention by the United Nations.


Not only the United Nations honored the murderous Che Guevara. In the Dec. 25 New York Sun, William Meyers reported on the continuing exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York of "Che! Revolution and Commerce." The wall text speaks reverently of the "classical, even Christ-like demeanor" of this "young and charismatic idealist who gave up the security of his middle-class world for his convictions."


The one time I met Guevara, at the Cuban mission to the United Nations, he expressed one of his convictions. Guevara professed not to understand English. So, looking at him and his interpreter, I asked this idealist: "Can you conceive — however far into the future — a time when there will be free elections in Cuba?"


Not waiting for his interpreter, Guevara broke into laughter at my naively ignorant question. He made it clear that I had no understanding of a true people's revolution, firmly guided by Maximum Leader Castro.


While being hospitable to the further mythicizing of Guevara in a movie — though initially turning away Mai, "The Bravest Woman on Earth" — the United Nations continues to undermine its potential to live up to its charter by its failure so far to change the repellent composition of its ludicrously named Human Rights Commission.


To his credit, Annan is trying to get the support of enough U.N. members to create a smaller human-rights commission, which the world's most barbarous human-rights abusers would not to be qualified to join. But, as a Jan. 20 Washington Post editorial, "Impasse on Human Rights," points out, among the so-far effective resisters to this vital change are Egypt and Pakistan, along with "several Caribbean countries."


Unless Annan's changes go through, when this grotesque parody of a human-rights commission meets again in Geneva next month, its decisions will still be made by such chronic crushers of human rights as Sudan, Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia and Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.


In its newly published World Report 2006, Human Rights Watch ends its grim report on Zimbabwe with this telling paragraph:


"Western governments, in particular the United Kingdom and United States, have failed to convince other (African) influential governments (especially those in the South) to take a stronger stand on Zimbabwe...


"China, Russia and other African countries state that Zimbabwe does not warrant discussions at the Security Council because they claim it is not a threat to international peace or security."


Zimbabwe is only a monstrous daily threat to its own people, but the United Nations is indifferent to the brutally repressed people of Zimbabwe.


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Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of several books, including his current work, "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance". Comment by clicking here.

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