DAP calls on 13th NAM Summit to break tradition to "revitalize" the moribund and almost dead organization by establishing a NAM Human Rights Commission to protect and promote human rights in the 114 NAM member nations

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday): In the past few days, one of the pet subjects of the speeches of Malaysian leaders including the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, in the run-up to the 13th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, is about hypocrisy and double standards in global politics, directed particularly against the world's hyperpower, the United States of America.

While many of the strictures against the arrogant and supercilious foreign policy of the Bush Administration are valid and justified, the time has also come for the leaders of the Third World to demonstrate that they are not equally guilty of such sickening hypocrisy and double standards in their speeches and statements at the 13th NAM Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

A Hypocrisy and Double-Standards Watch can profitably be established to monitor the speeches and statements of the NAM leaders at the Kuala Lumpur Summit if NAM is to discover a new relevance or succeed in the task of "revitalization" - the theme of the NAM summit.

If the NAM Summit is to revitalize the moribund and almost dead organization, and not be a colossal waste of public funds by all participating countries and in particular for Malaysia as the host nation, then it must be courageous and imaginative enough to break with tradition and pioneer the organization in new directions, as for instance, establishing a NAM Human Rights Commission to protect and promote human rights in the 114 member nations.

The Durban Final Declaration issued by the 12th NAM Summit in South Africa in 1998 committed all member nations "to provide an effective framework for the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International covenants on human rights and other relevant international instruments on human rights".

Is there a report and review of the status of human rights in each of the 114 member states of NAM five years after this declaration and commitment in Durban, South Africa?

On Wednesday, Zimbabwe's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku said that revitalization of NAM must top the agenda of the KL summit despite the impending war in Iraq. (Star 20.2.03)

How can such a call carry any credibility when Zimbabwe is one of the worst states in human rights violations?

In fact, it was only two days ago that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of judges and lawyers, Dato Param Cumaraswamy, condemned the Zimbabwe government's arrest on Monday of a High Court judge, Judge Benjamin Paradza, who had previously handed down decisions that were unpalatable to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

Cumaraswamy described Paradza's arrest as "one in a series of institutional and personal attacks on the judiciary and its independent judges over the past two years, which have resulted in the resignations of several senior judges and which have left Zimbabwe's rule of law in tatters".

By arresting a judge a few days before the 13th NAM Summit, Mugabe had shown utter contempt not only for the 12th NAM Summit Declaration in Durban but also for the 13th NAM Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

Last June, Amnesty International published a special report entitled "Zimbabwe: The toll of impunity" which documented serious human rights violations by Mugabe over the past two years, including extrajudicial executions, torture, denial of the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly.

At the end of last year, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum released figures of about 58 politically-motivated killings and over 1,050 cases of torture in 2002 alone.

If the official Zimbabwe delegation is allowed to pontificate and moralise about democracy and human rights at the 13th NAM Summit without having to account for such gross and blatant violation of human rights, including the just rule of law and a truly independent judiciary, how can NAM ever find a new relevance, let alone "revitalize" itself, when it continues to be "talk fest" of hypocrisy and double standards?

Will the 13th NAM Summit grapple with such moral dilemmas and human rights crisis in the NAM countries?


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman