Sunday, April 19, 2009

UN Watch Turns Tables on Libyan Chair, Exposes Durban 2 Hypocrisy

From UN Watch (Geneva) Briefing No. 190, April 18, 2009:

Qaddafi rep panics and cuts off torture victim testimony story on Swiss TV news last night was the surpise "coup d'eclat" by UN Watch, when it turned the tables on the Libyan chair of the Durban II planning committee, in a showdown yesterday that exposed the U.N. hypocrisy whereby the chief organizers of a world "anti-racism" conference are themselves the worst perpetrators of racism and discrimination.

See the full exchange below, and watch out for for the YouTube video of the full debate.

United Nations Durban Review Conference
Preparatory Committee, Third Substantive Session
17 April 2009, Geneva

Statement by United Nations Watch
Delivered by Ashraf Ahmed El-Hojouj

Thank you, Madame Chair.

I don’t know if you recognize me. I am the Palestinian medical intern who was scapegoated by your country, Libya, in the HIV case in the Benghazi hospital, together with the five Bulgarian nurses.

LIBYAN CHAIR NAJJAT AL-HAJJAJI, BANGING ON GAVEL: Stop... stop.... I ask you to stop. You are, you are not addressing the agenda item... I will allow you to resume only if you address the agenda item we are discussing.

[Victim resumes testimony]

Section 1 of the draft declaration for this conference speaks about victims of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. Based on my own suffering, I wish to offer some proposals.

Starting in 1999, as you know, the five nurses and I were falsely arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, brutally tortured, convicted, and sentenced to death.

LIBYAN CHAIR NAJJAT AL-HAJJAJI, AGAIN BANGING ON GAVEL: Stop... You are again not addressing the agenda item. I urge you to address the agenda item.

[Victim resumes testimony]

All of this, which lasted for nearly a decade, was for only one reason: because the Libyan government was looking to scapegoat foreigners. Madame Chair, if that is not discrimination, then what is?

On the basis of my personal experience, I would like to propose the following amendments regarding remedies, redress and compensatory measures:

One: The United Nations should condemn countries that scapegoat, falsely arrest, and torture vulnerable minorities.

Two: Countries that have committed such crimes must recognize their past, and issue an official, public, and unequivocal apology to the victims.

Three: In accordance with Article 2, paragraph 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, such countries must provide victims of discrimination with an appropriate remedy, including adequate compensation for material and immaterial damage.

Madame Chair, Libya told this conference that it practices no inequality or discrimination.

But then how do you account for what was done to me, to my colleagues, and to my family, who gave over thirty years serving your country, only to be kicked out from their home, threatened with death, and subjected to state terrorism?

LIBYAN CHAIR NAJJAT AL-HAJJAJI, AGAIN BANGING ON GAVEL: There is a request for a point of order. I give Libya the floor for a point of order.

LIBYAN DIPLOMAT: Madame Chair, I object to the testimony by UN Watch. This is not the correct agenda item. Thank you, Madame Chair.

LIBYAN CHAIR NAJJAT AL-HAJJAJI: We shall now move on to the next speaker...

[Due to the unjustified cut-off by the Chair, the following portions were unable to be read.]

How can your government chair the planning committee for a world conference on discrimination, when it is on the list of the world’s worst of the worst, when it comes to discrimination and human rights violations?

When will your government recognize their crimes, apologize to me, to my colleagues, and to our families?

This week, at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, the five nurses and I will present our complaint and compensation claim against Libya, filed with the UN Human Rights Committee, the highest international tribunal for individual petitions.

The slogan for this Conference is “Dignity and justice for all.” Does this include your own country’s victims of discrimination?

Thank you, Madame Chair.


Bulgarian Nurses Sue Libya in International Tribunal; UN Watch as Co-Counsel

Related to the above testimony, click here for the new 100-page legal complaint filed by the Bulgarian nurses against Libya with the UN Human Rights Committee, the highest international tribunal for individual human rights complaints.

UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, an international lawyer formerly with the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, is serving as co-counsel in the action together with Dr. Liesbeth Zegveld, an international law professor and attorney in the Netherlands. The complaint is released here for the first time to the public. (Click here for the related complaint filed by Dr. El-Hojouj last year.)

Both Dr. Dr. El-Hojouj and Bulagrian nurse Kristiyna Valcheva will speak tomorrow at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, on Sunday, 19 April 2009. Watch live webcast at This time Dr. El-Hojouj will be able to deliver his full speech — without interruptions...
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