Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Even Obama Must Know Better

The Republic of Turkey wants to join the EU and, when President Obama addressed the Turkish parliament on Monday, he made it very clear that the U.S. is 100% behind this effort.

For years, Turkey was barred from applying for EU membership because of its notorious record of torture that continues into the present, and we're not talking panties on the head or waterboarding. In Turkish prisons and detention centers, according to the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, torture continues at "crisis proportions."

This, of course, is nothing new. Historically, Turkish forays into Eastern Europe were so ghastly that, in some areas, plains dwellers built entire villages underground to conceal them from the Turks. To this day, Turkey refuses to acknowledge that its predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire, committed genocide on 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1924.

That's why it could be expected that, when the U.S. president addressed the Turkish parliament on Monday, he would raise the difficult topic of torture.

He did.

Sadly, after a European tour in which every Obama speech featured an obligatory blame-America-first component, Obama's focus was not was not on the torture practiced throughout Turkey's penal system for crimes not even recognized as such in the United States, but on "torture" as practiced by the United States:
Every challenge that we face is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation. This work is never over. That's why, in the United States, we recently ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. That's why we prohibited — without exception or equivocation — the use of torture. All of us have to change. And sometimes change is hard.
Every step taken by Turkey to reduce their human rights abuses is, of course, to be welcomed. It is a shameful practice, though, for Obama to confess to every country with a podium and a microphone that we are their equals (or more) in their particular histories of abuse.

The unalterable fact is that the United States is a country largely invented and populated by people who escaped the abuses of the homelands they fled. Ask any of the 100,000 Kurds now living in the USA about this country's track record on torture. They'll tell you all you need to know.

No comments:

Post a Comment