Is America's human rights record declining? 

Washington Edited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Mar 31, 2021, 08:18 AM IST
main img


Story highlights

The US state department is set to release a report on human rights. Washington will sit in judgement of nearly 200 countries and their human rights record but what about America's own human rights record?

10 months ago, a death in America led to worldwide outrage. 46-year-old George Floyd died in police custody. A police officer knelt on his neck for close to 10 minutes. The death of George Floyd led to the birth of a movement. These pictures went viral.    

CCTV cameras and police bodycams captured the events leading up to Floyd's death. The fatal arrest was a clear case of excessive use of police force. It also highlighted a pattern of systemic racism in the US.  

Racial profiling, excessive violence, police brutality and the virus of racism, this too is a pandemic and America is in denial. It sees the problem in others.  

The US state department is set to release a report on human rights. Washington will sit in judgement of nearly 200 countries and their human rights record but what about America's own human rights record?  

10 months after the killing of George Floyd. The virus of racism is alive and thriving in America. It is targeting not just African Americans but even Asian Americans.  

The US, the self-appointed champion of human rights, has failed to secure the most basic rights of its own people.   

On Monday, the officer accused for the murder of George Floyd went on trial. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin faces three charges, second degree murder, third degree murder and manslaughter. 

On the 25th of May last year, he was the cop, who arrested George Floyd. Floyd had allegedly tried passing a counterfeit 20 dollar bill at a grocery store. Chauvin was among a group of four cops responding to the police call. They found Floyd inside a car across the grocery store.  

First, the police officers pulled him out. Floyd was handcuffed, forced to face down on the street while Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd's neck. 

Watch |

That stomach churning moment was captured by bystanders. On Monday, the jury was shown that video. "I can't breathe". Those words led to a global campaign against racism.  

The United States saw violent protests across 50 states. Since then, the country has witnessed a change of guard, a new president, a new government but racism in America has only got worse.  

In recent weeks and months, Asian Americans have come under attack. Consider these numbers, hate crimes against Asian Americans surged 149 per cent. An advocacy group received more than 2,800 reports of hate crimes. In all of these incidents, Asian Americans were the target.  

This month, three day-spas in Georgia were attacked. Eight people died in the shootings. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent. It's quite evident. This attacker was motivated by race.  

After African Americans last year, Asian Americans took to the streets this month. They too are demanding equal rights and amid the raging debate, one lawmaker decided to make a statement.  

This is Lee Wong, an elected official in Ohio. At the meeting of the trustees in West Chester township, Wong decided to make a statement against the rising hate.  

Lee Wong is a war veteran. He got up, took off his shirt to reveal the scars of war he endured for America. Lee Wong, West Chester Township trustee, said, "For too long, I have put up with a lot of s*** in silence. Excuse me the language. Too afraid to speak out, fearing more abuse and discrimination."  

"There are some ignorant people that will come up to me and say that I don't look American - or patriotic enough. Now that really gets my goat."  

"People questioning my patriotism? that I don't look American enough? They could not get over this face. I want to show you something. I want to tell you, because I'm not afraid."  

"I'm 69-years-old, and I'm going to show you what patriotism - the questions about patriotism - looks like."  

"Here is my proof. (lifts up shirt to reveal scar) This is sustained through my service in the US military. now, is this patriot enough? I'm not ashamed to walk around anymore."  

Lee Wong moved from China to the United States more than 50 years ago. He spent two decades in the army. He serves his community as a trustee. Even after serving Americans all these years, he has to prove his loyalty to America. The divide became deeper after the insurrection at the US Capitol.    

Here is yet another example. Violence broke out near the Oregon state Capitol building. Two groups on opposite ends of the political spectrum came face to face. One was the far-right group called Proud Boys and the second was the far-left, anti-fascists. They clashed. One of them tried to run his car into a protester. The police looked helpless.  

African Americans demanding justice for police brutality, Asian Americans being targeted in hate crimes, political opponents engaged in violent clashes. This is the America that human rights reports hardly talk about.