- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Radio Free Europe reports that the Belarusian government, a last bastion of authoritarianism in Europe frequently blasted by Western government and human rights organizations for its crackdowns on the media and opposition groups, has struck back with a human rights report of its own. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs report, titled, "Human Rights Violations in Certain Countries in 2012," aims to highlight “human rights violations in those countries that traditionally represent themselves as “developed democracies”.
The report surveys 23 European countries plus the United States. The U.S. section makes for interesting bizzaro-land reading. There are a few real-world issues that are frequently brought up by activists in the United States, such as the police crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street and last year’s anti-NATO demonstrations in Chicago, concerns about privacy wiretapping, and drone strikes, as well as the fact that "600 thousand of Washington’s residents are not entitled to elect their representatives to the Senate and the House of Representatives."
The authors also seem to relish pointing out the difficultires faced by OSCE observers during last year’s election in some parts of the country.
There are also some strange inaccuracies, such as the reference to "G. Stein, a candidate from the Green Party, [who] has on several occasions during the electoral campaign been subjected to administrative arrest, owing to his participation in peace protests." Jill Stein, who is a woman, was arrested at an environmental protest. With some unclear wording the report alsoseems to imply that the U.S. government paid to broadcast the Innocence of Muslims on Pakistani TV rather than ads disavowing it.
Then there’s the report’s bizarre fixation on U.S. state secession campaigns:
In November, people in seven American federal states collected sufficient numbers of signatures necessary for a secession from the USA. The civil petitions have been posted on a White House website’s special section, where people can leave their submissions or join those posted earlier. To begin dealing with a petition, the White House needs to receive at least 25 thousand signatures in 30 days. Once this requirement is met, an official response will be published on the website.
The Texas’ petition gathered more than 125 thousand signatures. The petition points out that the US economic travails resulted from the Federal Government’s failure to reform fiscal policies. In addition to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee have also collected the required numbers.
So far, the White House has not considered the civilian petitions, which can be regarded as violation of the right to self-determination.
It appears that if Texas ever did secede, Belarus might be the first to recognize it.