Where interests converge with human rights, the latter loses out – except when human rights is useful in pursuing those interests. Washington has always raised human rights whenever it suited its neocolonial interests – whether in Iraq ’91, Serbia ’99, Afghanistan ’01, and Iraq ’03. Now that the Obama administration is engaged in “Operation Libyan Freedom,” interests are pursued under the guise of human rights.
Enter Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, who nn Thursday singled out the Qadhafi regime’s rape atrocities in a statement released to the press:
“The United States is deeply concerned by reports of wide-scale rape in Libya. Since Eman al Obeidi bravely burst into a hotel in Tripoli on March 26 to reveal that Qadhafi’s security forces raped her, other brave women have come forward to tell of the horrible brutality they have experienced. Recently, the International Criminal Court has taken note of the appalling evidence that rape in Libya is widespread and systematically employed. A thorough investigation of this matter is needed to bring perpetrators to justice.”
Naturally Libya isn’t the only country that threatens or uses rape as a weapon. Bahrain has used it as well:
“A prominent Bahraini human rights activist said he had been threatened with rape while in custody after he refused to apologize to the king over his role in anti-government protests.
Human rights groups said Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was removed from a military court Monday on the third day of his trial after he told the judge about his treatment.
Bahrain was one of many Arab countries that rose up against its autocratic system – the Al-Khalifa royal family. Will Bahrainis like Abdulhadi al-Khawaja get the same committment and attention that Al-Obeidi got from the Sec. of State?
“We are also troubled by reports of sexual violence used by governments to intimidate and punish protestors seeking democratic reforms across the Middle East and North Africa. Rape, physical intimidation, sexual harassment, and even so-called “virginity tests” have taken place in countries throughout the region. These egregious acts are violations of basic human dignity and run contrary to the democratic aspirations so courageously expressed throughout the region.”
The vagueness of “across the Middle East and North Africa” without naming names suggests that the U.S. isn’t concerned about rape as a weapon of war, but that Libya is using rape as a weapon of war. That Bahrain and its patron Saudi Arabia are as guilty doesn’t warrant any specific outrage from the Obama administration; neither did the plight of a Filipino woman who was sentenced to 100 lashes by the Saudi regime – for being a rape victim! Or the plight of Afghan women, since the same warlords that rape and oppress women are the same ones put in place and supported by the Americans.
The Obama administration is complicit with Bahrain’s rape torture not only because of its silence; but also because their airwar in Libya was made possible in part with Saudi collusion bought with a deal allowing the Saudi army to invade Bahrain and suppress that uprising. Bahrainis thinking of taking the U.S. to the ICC might be surprised to find that the same court Clinton invoked to go after Qadhafi’s people happens to be the same court the Obama administration refuses to recognize.
Yet another case of “worthy vs. unworthy victim” – Libyans being the worthy ones.