The rise of violent groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) are the product of governments’ tendencies to ignore rights abuses, Human Right Watch has warned.
“Human rights violations played a major role in spawning or aggravating many of today’s crises,” Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth said in the introduction to the 664-page World Report 2015. . “Protecting human rights and ensuring democratic accountability are key to resolving them,” he said.
|Human rights violations played a major role in spawning or aggravating many of today’s crises. Protecting human rights and ensuring democratic accountability are key to resolving them.|
Discussing the general deterioration of human rights, the report drew attention to a number of examples worldwide including intensified repression in Egypt, ethnic cleansing of Sunni civilians in Iraq and China’s recurrant crackdown on the Uighur minority.
The report also accused governments affected by growing turmoil of suppressing popular pressure for democratic change, and said that many governments chose to prioritise security threats over human rights.
The rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has been the culprit of numerous beheadings of journalists and aid workers, did not emerge on its own, the report stated.
The rights organisation argued that the US-led military surge in Iraq in 2003 produced a hole in security.
Sectarian policies of the Iraqi and Syrian governments and international indifference to those governments’ human rights abuses played an important role in spawning the violent groups.
In Syria, ISIL was able to portray itself as a group capable of standing up to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad’s military as government forces attacked civilians in opposition-held areas.
Though the US-led coalition has taken on ISIL, no nation has increased pressure on al-Assad to stop civilian killings, the report pointed out.
The US’ offensive against ISIL has overshadowed efforts to end Assad’s abuses, it said.
This perceived “selective concern has been a gift to ISIS recruiters, who portray themselves as the only ones willing and able to stand up to Assad’s atrocities,” Roth stated in the report.
The report shed light on a number of other security challenges while highlighting governments’ tendency towards putting security as a priority over human rights.
“Some governments make the mistake of seeing human rights as a luxury for less trying times, instead of an essential compass for political action,” Roth continued.
“Rather than treating human rights as a chafing restraint, policymakers worldwide would do better to recognize them as moral guides offering a path out of crisis and chaos.”