Socialist Worker

British government report into human rights tries to whitewash its allies’ crimes

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2763

Protesting against Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salmans visit to London in 2018

Protesting against Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to London in 2018 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The government has patted itself on the back with its release of a foreign office report into human rights around the world.

The 80-page document is full of Britain’s so-called successes in upholding freedom of religion, media freedom, gender equality and LGBT+ rights.

This is despite the Tories ramping up state repression of Muslims, scapegoating migrants and refusing to grant transgender people legal rights in Britain.

In a foreword to the report, foreign secretary Dominic Raab claims Britain has been “ready to stand up for our values in the face of human rights violations, fraudulent elections and attacks on democracy”.

In reality, the report highlights how the British state’s imperialist interests trump human rights.

Imperialism

Its hypocrisy is glaring on Saudi Arabia—a dictatorship and key ally of Western imperialism in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia is prosecuting a brutal war in Yemen, which has caused a devastating humanitarian crisis.

The report boasts that Britain has slapped sanctions on individuals and organisations in states, including Saudi Arabia.

Britain plays vital role in Israel’s crimes
Britain plays vital role in Israel’s crimes
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It talks of Britain’s leading role in highlighting the “treatment of children within conflict zones”. “We made strong calls for action from parties to conflict,” it says, listing Yemen as one of the examples.

And it goes on to say that Britain has “provided over £200 million in response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen” in 2020/21.

Yet this is the same British state that’s sold at least £16 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the war began in 2015.

Saudi Arabian warplanes continue to use British-made bombs and missiles secure in the knowledge that Britain supports them.

The report also criticises Afghanistan’s “rising violent conflict, terror attacks and a significant increase in security”. But the report fails to mention that the 20-year invasion and war headed by Britain and the US has brought only intensified horror. And it has now ended in defeat and humiliation.

The report is also quick to vilify China’s oppression of the Uyghur Muslims. While the repression China inflicts on Muslims is outrageous, the British state is no champion of the cause of Muslims.

Iran is criticised as “protests were suppressed, mass arrests occurred”. For the Tories to criticise another state for suppressing protest reeks of hypocrisy. At the top of their agenda is a clampdown on protests in Britain.

The report criticises Israel's violation of “human rights and international humanitarian law”. This is despite Britain funding Israel’s military and bombs that were dropped on Palestinian people.

How the British military works with the generals in Belarus
How the British military works with the generals in Belarus
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The report claims it “continues to oppose” Israel’s “illegal settlement expansion”. This was not the angle Boris Johnson pledged when Israel bombed Palestine in May.

Raab says Britain has stood up for democracy after fraudulent elections. The report talks about how Raab supported Belarusian journalists “in the face of a sustained and brutal crackdown on independent media in Belarus”.

Yet the British military had trained the Belarusian regime’s troops—including in “urban warfare tactics”.

A few months after Raab was appointed foreign secretary in July 2019, the two militaries signed a cooperation agreement.

Criticisms of Rwanda were also raised and the “need to allow opposing voices to hold the government to account”. Yet Rwanda is the country home secretary Priti Patel has been eyeing up as a place to process asylum seekers.

It also brags about a “firm” commitment to the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme—with a meagre 20,000 refugees fleeing Syria taken in. Syria has 5.6 million refugees.

The Human Rights and Democracy Report shows Britain attempting to put itself at the centre stage of human rights. The reality is it is one of the biggest abusers.


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