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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Killing legally

Executions around the world are nearing record levels, and the United States is among the four countries which account for 97 per cent of the total, a report by Amnesty has found.

Nearly 4000 people were killed during 2004, including around 3400 in China. Kate Allen, Amnesty International's UK director, said yesterday, "the death penalty is cruel and unnecessary, does not deter crime, and runs the risk of killing the wrongly convicted. It is time to consign the death penalty to the dustbin of history."


Total in 2004

1 China 3,400*

2 Iran 159*

3 Vietnam 64*

4 United States 59*

5 Saudi Arabia 33*

6 Pakistan 15*

7 Kuwait 9*

8 Bangladesh 7*

9= Egypt 6*

= Singapore 6*

= Yemen 6*


George W. Bush preaches spreading democracy around the world and yet runs a country that only recently ruled it unconstitutional to execute child offenders. Bhutan, Greece, Samoa, Senegal and Turkey all abolished the death penalty in 2004 and yet America remains classed with Saudi Arabia and Iran in terms of human rights breaches.

How can America talk about freeing oppressed people in the Middle East (both highly questionable and politically unlikely) while abuses continue on the home-front?

Foreign affairs commentator Chalmers Johnson articulates the ways in which the US can regain lost credibility: "...the most important change we could make in American policy would be to dismantle our imperial presidency and restore a balance among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government."


Blogger Gerry said...

Excuse me, but why single America out in this post and yet not a word of condemnation for China, Iran or Vietnam?

Your crimes are only crimes if you use the D word?

Or are we so fixated on the evils America is doing that we go blind to even greater ones? Is this some form of politically-induced myopia?

Or are we using that old middle eastern maxim which goes "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" ???

I don't get it. But then, I'm not an intellectual, just your average brain-dead blogger with attitude. Best someone remove my feeding tube - I'm obviously suffering...

Ignore me, I usually go away...

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 12:41:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

By all means criticise Iran, Saudi etc. If it's not clear that I do, I do right now. Their human rights abuses are shocking and should be condemned in the strongest sense.
HOWEVER, when a country like the US preaches human rights, and tolerance etc yet is committing their own abuses, it makes Bush's rhetoric seem just a little hollow. At best.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 12:51:00 pm  
Blogger Gerry said...

Antony, that's the second time you've overlooked the opportunity to slam (communist) China and (communist) Vietnam specifically. Is that a blind spot I see? Can't bring yourself to condemn them because they are communist states?

China's total is HUGE, by comparison to America's, and Vietnam's is also huge (20 times as big as America's if we adjust of polulation size). Her your prime motivation seems to be to merely that of hypocrisy rather than the relative size of the number of deaths.

I'm starting to wonder about your ability to deliver unbiased commentary.

The word "party hack" is starting to impinge itself on my mind. I wonder why... Help me out here, Antony...

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 5:54:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Party hack? Sorry what? I ain't onside with anybody, frankly. And what's this about unbiased commentary? My aim here is to present information rarely examined in the mainstream media. Bias or not, it's different. Besides, what do you think a blog is supposed to be? Fact and opinion.
Hypocrisy is a key motivating force, yes. How dare the US preach about human rights when a) many of its allies are woeful human rights abusers b) many domestic issues are at play, leading to endemic imprisonment and executions and c) America is now sending "terror" suspects to countries such as Egypt, Saudi etc. And Bush talks about human rights?
I'm very keen to campaign against human rights abuses in China, Vietnam and will continue to say so. But they aren't preaching about human rights to anybody. The US is.
Me a communist? Puuuulease.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 6:01:00 pm  
Blogger Gerry said...

You said "I'm very keen to campaign against human rights abuses in China, Vietnam" - Care to direct my at stuff you've written about the human rights abuses in China and Vietnam, in paricular the executions, Antony?

I've just spent over an hour wading through the tedious results of a Google search on exactly that type of search-string and I could not find your name associated with anything remotely close to this subject.

I come back to my point: You seem to be more interested in singlimg America out on the basis of their hypcocrisy, whereas the numbers suggest that if the size of the crime (number executed) mattered, focus would have gone onto China or Vietnam as being far and away the worst offenders.

So I can only read your post to mean "I'm not interested in how many poeple actually were executed by China or Vietnam because I've got America dead to rights on the vastly bigger crime of hypocrisy" and this is a bit absurd to me.

What is it someone once said? "Lies, damn lies, and statistics"?

Is this perhaps a case where the major meaning of a set numbers was ignored in order to hijack them for a lesser purpose, Antony?

In closing, I look forward to your upcoming piece on human rights abuses in China and Vietnam - in particular, executions.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 8:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Ron said...

Gerry, mate, I don't know what happened to you around the time the pope died but if don't chill out a bit, you're gonna burst a bubble somewhere.

The whole point of Antony's post is that the US preaches one thing and practices another - nothing more, nothing less.

In your Googling, try and find just one entry where China and Vietnam have been upholders and defenders of human rights.

Perhaps you should re-read some of your US-critical posts from the last few weeks. :-)

Thursday, April 07, 2005 1:58:00 pm  
Blogger Gerry said...

Oh dear, Ron...

America kills 59 and that's a heinous crime because they pretend to be interested in Human Rights. But when China kills 3,400, because they openly ignore Human Rights debates, their crime is deemed less noteworthy, eh?

I can see how that's getting one's priorities right, Ron. Hold Antony's hand while I try to explain to both of you that hypocrisy is a lesser crime than killing 3,341 people (3400 minus 59 for the arithmetically challenged).

Let me underscore it this way: I'd rather be in a room with a hyocrite who justifies killing 59 people, most of whom had trial somewhat resembling "fair", than be in a room with someone who justifies killing 3400 people, few if any of which received any kind of a trial, fair or otherwise.

Are we getting this yet, guys?

Thursday, April 07, 2005 4:24:00 pm  
Anonymous Superfred79 said...

Typically in the US, most of those executed were murderers, serial rapists and the like. What about their victims "human rights"? I'm sorry, i just don't have a whole lotta sympathy for a child rapist murdering person. and should you CHOOSE to commit these crimes, you forfeit your own life. course that's just my opinion

Friday, April 08, 2005 12:04:00 pm  
Blogger steve said...

Yeah, what superfred said! Also, how is democracy mutually exclusive with executions? Wasn't Socrates executed in a democracy? Democracy means People Rule, not whatever lefty fad you want to peddle at the moment.


Monday, April 11, 2005 6:35:00 pm  

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