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Thursday, January 31

Human Rights Watch's annual "World Report" --Despots Masquerading as Democrats

Report Says Democracies Enable Despots By WILLIAM C. MANN Associated Press Writer

This AP report is surfacing all over and will be probably be the one that makes it in most of tomorrow's newspapers.

Too bad -- fluff as usual.

Here's a little more of what this report says from The Interpress Service
RIGHTS: West Gives False "Democracies" A Pass By Jim Lobe

and the Guardian Unlimited
Human rights group condemns western hypocrisy by Peter Walker

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (IPS) - Western governments, eager to pursue their political or economic interests, too often reward self-proclaimed and flawed "democracies" that clearly abuse the political and civil rights of their citizens, according to the latest edition of Human Rights Watch's annual "World Report" released here Thursday.

The mere holding of elections does not make a state democratic, according to the report. Yet both the United States and the European Union (EU) have used such exercises to justify aid and closer ties to friendly or potentially useful governments, according to the report.

"It seems Washington and European governments will accept even the most dubious election so long as the 'victor' is a strategic or commercial ally," said HRW director Kenneth Roth, author of the report's introduction.

In doing so, they undermine the causes of both democracy and human rights, according to the 569-report.

"(I)f dictators can get away with calling themselves 'democrats,' they will have acquired a powerful tool for deflecting pressure to uphold human rights," Roth wrote. "It is time to stop selling democracy on the cheap and to start substituting a broader and more meaningful vision of the concept that incorporates all human rights."

One of the most dramatic examples in 2007 was U.S. President George W. Bush's endorsement of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf as "somebody who believes in democracy" and his government as having put the country "on the road to democracy", even after the former army chief declared "emergency rule", fired the supreme court, and arrested thousands of opposition activists.

"(I)f, unlike human rights law, 'the road to democracy' permits locking up political opponents, dismissing independent judges, and silencing the independent press, it is easy to see why tyrants the world over are tempted to believe that they, too, might be eligible," according to Roth.

Both articles above give a "bit" more to the findings than the AP story.

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