Source: National Post
Yet another case where the corrupt UN simply lacks the honesty and/or courage to address the important issues of the world. Instead they choose to focus their crosshairs on a law (Bill 78) enacted in Quebec, Canada, in order to end the violent protests. There is a significant difference between “Peaceful Assembly” and “Rioting”. The Quebec protests have started to learn towards rioting, molotov cocktails hurled at police, students attacked whom are trying to attend classes, vandalism, rock hurlings, and shutting down classes. Please jail all these selfish people, immediately.
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, could not be expected to mention every abuse in the world as she sketched out the “backdrop of crises” against which the Human Rights Council opened its meeting in Geneva Monday. She had no time for the Tibetan herder who died last week after setting himself on fire to protest Chinese repression, the 30th Tibetan to suffer such a fate since 2009. The alleged beating and detention in Cuba of a well-known dissident after he testified about rights abuses before a U.S. Senate subcommittee this month did not make it into her speech. Nor did the 13-year prison sentence an Iranian court recently imposed on one of that country’s leading rights activists, Abdolfattah Soltani. In fact, China, Cuba and Iran – just like Saudi Arabia and Belarus — did not receive a single mention in Ms. Pillay’s address. Canada, however, was squarely in her sights. “Moves to restrict freedom of assembly in many parts of the world are alarming,” she said. “In the context of student protests, I am disappointed by the new legislation passed in Quebec that restricts their rights to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly.” There has been a fair bit of exaggeration since the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 78 last month to rein in massive street protests and campus blockades by students opposed to tuition hikes. Amnesty International called the law “an insult to fundamental freedoms” and university professors have compared it to Vladimir Putin’s clampdown on protest in Russia. The main restriction is a requirement that organizers of demonstrations with 50 people or more advise police at least eight hours in advance. They can be ordered to alter their route if police deem it poses a “serious risk” to public security. It provides for fines of up to $35,000 for student leaders and $125,000 for associations organizing illegal demonstrations.
That is a lot of money, but to suggest the legislation belongs in the same company as suspected war crimes in Syria, torture in Eritrea or political prison camps and food shortages in North Korea is absurd. Hillel Neuer, executive director of the non-governmental organization UN Watch, said that when he organizes demonstrations outside the UN’s Geneva headquarters he has to follow stricter rules than those in Bill 78. “When I do a human-rights rally, I have to fill out all kinds of police permits, and I doubt that she’s ever issued a statement saying that the demonstrators in front of her building don’t have enough rights,” Mr. Neuer said. Speaking to reporters in Rio de Janeiro, where he is attending a global environmental conference, Quebec Premier Jean Charest noted that protesters in Geneva are required to give police 30 days notice, not eight hours. “So we’re not as severe as the place that hosts the United Nations,” he said. “We’re more supple, and more permissive.” Federal Foreign Minister John Baird also jumped to Quebec’s defence. “Quebec is a very democratic place subject to the rule of law,” he said. “People can challenge the government’s decisions in court so I stand behind the government of Quebec.” Student groups were in court last week to challenge the constitutionality of Bill 78. “With what’s going on in Syria, with what’s going on in Iran and Belarus, the UN would be better to spend its time on there,” Mr. Baird said. Béatrice Vaugrante, executive director of Amnesty International’s branch for French Canada, was encouraged that the UN had responded to information about Bill 78 provided by her group and others in Canada. She said the legislation might not compare with the abuses committed by such repressive regimes as Syria and Zimbabwe, but Canada is perceived as a leader in human rights and needs to be held to a higher standard. “You don’t expect that from Canada,” she said. “The world is watching Canada.” Mr. Neuer, however, said Canadian activists who flagged Bill 78 to the UN and succeeded in having it included in Monday’s speech have done a disservice to the human-rights cause. Energy spent addressing Quebec student protests is diverted from more pressing problems, such as the police states of Belarus and Cuba and the “misogynistic regimes” of Iran and Saudi Arabia, he said. “At the end of the day it’s selfish, because it’s not as if the UN has unlimited time. There is a limited amount of things that are going to be mentioned in a speech, a limited amount of things that countries are going to talk about, that UN experts are going to focus on.” Ms. Pillay concluded her speech by stressing that her office can only do so much. “Everyone must be focused on how we can make the greatest impact through the most efficient use of the limited resources available to us,” she said. A good start would be to let Canadian courts settle whether Bill 78 is abusive and turn her attention to actual crises