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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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Paul de Rooij called my attention to this interview with prof. Francis Boyle from 2002. A few years ago, before dealing with Amnesty's UK office, I might have dismissed the following assertion (excerpted from the interview) as over-the-top. Now, it seems quite plausible.

"So certainly when I am dealing with people who want to work with Amnesty in London, I just tell them, 'Look, just understand, they’re penetrated by intelligence agents, U.K., maybe U.S., I don’t know, but you certainly can’t trust them.'"

http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/articles/article0004573.html
Thu Mar 08, 2007 3:47 am
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
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Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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https://www.amnesty.ca/amnestygift.ca/celil.php#eaction

Dear Alex Neve

I just received an appeal by email regarding Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen whom you believe is suffering an extreme injustice at the hands of the Chinese government. I filled out the form you asked people to use to request that.the Chinese government grant Mr. Celil independent legal counsel and demand that he not be tortured. I was impressed that my note would automatically be copied to Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister.

Why hasn't Amnesty International issued such an appeal on behalf of Max Charbonneau, a Canadian citizen who has been illegally imprisoned in Haiti under a government with which the Canadian government has far more influence?

Why hasn't a similar appeal been issued to demand the release of Haitian political prisoners? About a hundred remain imprisoned by a judiciary that (along with the police force) was stacked by the Latortue dictatorship which Canada strongly supported.

Why wasn't such an appeal issued on behalf of Jean Candio while he was a political prisoner in Canada?

If you have issued such appeals I apologize, but I haven't seen them.
Fri Apr 20, 2007 11:41 pm
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
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Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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RE: HRW Press Release "Venezuela: TV Shutdown Harms Free Expression"
http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2007/05/22/venezu15986.htm

Mr. Vivanco

Do you deny that

1) For two days before the coup of 2002, RCTV preempted regular programming to run continuous (and farcically one sided) coverage of a general strike aimed at ousting Chavez
2) RCTV ran manipulated video footage blaming Chavez supporters for firing on protestors
3) RCTV blacked out coverage of pro-governments protests that foiled the coup
4) Marcel Granier, head of RCTV, showed up in person at the presidential palace to pledge his support for Pedro Carmona's brief dictatorship.

I ask because you wrote that Chavez has "accused" RCTV of supporting the coup. Do you seriously contend that it did not?

You have argued that Venezuelan government "does not cite a single final judicial or administrative ruling establishing that the channel had in fact committed any of these alleged offenses during its 20–year contract. No one from the channel has been convicted for their alleged complicity in the attempted coup. "

The fact that RCTV officials have not been thrown in jail reveals that government critics have ample freedom of expression - much more than in most countries. It doesn't refute that RCTV supported the coup.

You seem to call for laws to be changed to give RCTV a better chance to stay on the public airwaves. Does that really sum up the depth of HRW's concern and understanding about the corporate media and human rights?

The mass media in Venezuela, as in most countries, in controlled by unelected, unaccountable wealthy people. Why not challenge the Venezuelan, government, along with other countries, to democratize ownership and control of the media - to make it independent of both the government and the oligarchy? That would address the greatest obstacle to free expression in any capitalist country.

A legitimate human rights group should be horrified at what the RCTV did in Venezuela in 2002. It should be horrified at the manner in which the corporate press routinely buries major crimes. It should be calling for real solutions, not following a herd attempting to pass off the unaccountability of media moguls as freedom of expression.

Joe Emersberger
Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:20 am
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AlyK



Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 27

Post Post subject: great letter Reply with quote

Just wanted to say that I think that is a great letter, Joe. Keep up the great work..


Aly
Fri Jun 15, 2007 12:08 am
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
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Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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Just after the US backed opposition in Bolivia massacred Morales supporters, and just after US Ambassadors are expelled from both Bolivia and Venezuela, Human Rights Watch comes out with over two hundred pages of criticism of Venezuela under Hugo Chavez.

http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/09/18/venezu19844.htm

The imperial priorities and assumptions revealed by both the content of the report and its timing are impossible to miss.

I an article I wrote in 2006 I pointed out that "Two years after the coup in Haiti HRW allocated more than 22,000 words towards the situation in Venezuela - more than double what it had allocated to Haiti in the same period. "

See http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/4131

The new report makes those numbers even more lopsided. HRW has focused barely any attention on Haiti since 2006 while continuing to frequently publish disproportionate criticism of Venezuela. I pointed this out again in an article of March 2008.

See http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/16786

The latest report rehashes much of the criticism HRW has levelled at the Chavez government in the past. One of HRW's main complaints is the supposed lack of independence of the Venezuela judiciary. As I pointed out in 2006

"Haiti offered much more compelling examples than Venezuela of a judiciary under the thumb of the executive....In December, 2005 Haiti's unelected government fired the supreme court because it had hampered a US millionaire's attempt to run for president. HRW remained silent."

The US backed coup in Haiti led to thousands of political murders and left the judiciary stacked with supporters of the dictatorship even after Rene Preval was elected in 2006. The lingering impact of brutal dictatorial rule on the Haitian judicary is clearly revealed by the ongoing persecution of Yvon Neptune and Ronald Duaphin - but don't expect to learn anything about that from HRW.

Instead see http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/18256 about a recent ruling against Haiti by the IACHR. To learn about Ronald Dauphin;'s plight see http://www.counterpunch.org/scherr09022008.html

The disappearance of Human Rights activist Lovinsky Pierre Antoine has been similarly ignored despite its very grave implications.

See http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/8_20_8/8_20_8.html

What is most glaring about HRW's latest report is the dismissal of the threat posed to Venezuelan democracy by the US government (HRW is, after all, based in Washington) and the Venezuelan opposition. HRW's emphasis is entirely directed at the Chavez government as if the US and its allies were minor irritants that Chavez has opportunistically depicted as serious threats - never mind that they overthrew him and have made serious efforts to destroy the economy.

The silence about the US role can't be explained by saying HRW restricts itself to considering domestic policy. HRW has, for example, called for the OAS to investigate Colombia's allegations that Venezuela has funded the FARC. It also won't do to say HRW doesn't document the crimes of non-state perpetrators. HRW certainly has much to say about the FRARC for example.

Why does HRW fail to acknowledge the serious threats to democracy posed by the both the US and their allies in Venezuela (the groups that did, after all, briefly install a dictatorship in 2002)?. Perhaps the best way to answer is to recall how HRW performed just after the coup. Al Giordano summed up HRW's repose as follows:

"They recognized an illegitimate 'authority' as legitimate. They failed to call for the removal of that dictatorial regime. They failed to call on other nations and the OAS to refuse to recognize it. They failed to call for invoking the OAS Democratic Charter for the one event it was intended to prevent."

It appears HRW assumes that the US and its clients have the right to overthrow governments - even popular democratically elected ones - but that they should try to behave themselves a little bit after doing so.
Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:23 am
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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Dear Miguel Vivanco and Ken Roth.

I don't agree with the Venezuelan decision to expel Human Rights Watch - even though under similar circumstances I am certain that an equivalent Venezuelan based group would not be tolerated in the US.

If the Venezuelan government had funded groups who had briefly overthrown the US government, and who then went on to sabotage the US economy, a Caracas based group would not be attending press conferences in Washington criticizing the US government. In fact, Venezuela would be lucky to exist as a country at all. Look what the US has done to Iraq and Vietnam - countries that never attacked the US at all.

I disagree with the expulsion of HRW, but you cannot pretend to be victimized defenders of democracy as you did in your latest report.

In 2002, while the Carmona dictatorship was briefly installed, HRW did not declare the dictatorship illegitimate; nor did it call on other nations and the OAS to refuse to recognize it; nor did call for invoking the OAS Democratic Charter - as HRW would later do in opposition to judicial reform policy of the Chavez government.

Would HRW have responded less disgracefully to the coup in Venezuela had it not been reversed so quickly? There is scant reason to believe you would have because you responded to the US backed coup in Haiti, two years later, in exactly the same.

The coup in Haiti resulted in thousands of political murders. Yet the volume of criticism directed by HRW at Venezuela in this latest report alone dwarfs everything that it has produced about Haiti since 2004.

Days before you released your report on Venezuela scores of Evo Morales supporters were massacred in Bolivia. Where are your calls for an investigation into the US role?

I disagree with the expulsion because I believe in freedom of speech even for views I detest, and even for visitors to my country. I also disagree with the expulsion because it will make victims out of HRW while making it easier for you to continue to ignore the real victims in Haiti and Bolivia - and the enemies of democracy in Washington.

Joe Emersberger.
Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:12 am
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: my reply to HRW's emergency request for funds Reply with quote

my reply to HRW's emergency request for funds
Posted by emersberger on January 1, 2009, 6:27 am

Why don't you answer some simple questions that you've evaded for years

see http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/3867

In the meantime I'll encourage people not to give your group a dime.

Joe Emersberger


In a message dated 12/30/2008 6:26:26 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, DonorService@hrw.org writes:

December 30th, 2008


IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED: Please click here


Dear Friend,

You received a note from me just last week – why am I writing again? It’s because I have just received news of an incredible opportunity for Human Rights Watch and I need your urgent help right now.

Our friends at MoveOn, Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Open Society Institute have offered to help us to recover from the financial loss we suffered due to the Madoff scandal. They will provide $2 for each dollar you donate to Human Rights Watch between now and the end of the day tomorrow.

Your gift of $50 will mean $150, and your gift of $250 will mean $750.

It’s an amazing opportunity - and one we cannot afford to miss given these tough economic times. Please, don’t let this opportunity to TRIPLE your support of Human Rights Watch pass.

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Your help and your immediate action is crucial. Today you have a unique opportunity to help strengthen our work. Please help us to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

Sincerely

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Executive Director

I have forwarded the email that our friends at MoveOn have sent to their members so that you can see their passion for our shared vision of justice.





HRW Home | Contact Us | Free Mailing Lists
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350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor New York, NY 10118-3299 USA

www.hrw.org
Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:33 am
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
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Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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HRW responds to criticism of Venezuela report
Posted by emersberger on January 7, 2009, 3:21 pm

http://www.coha.org/2009/01/head-of-human-rights-watch-responds-to-scholars-criticism-of-venezuela-report/
Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:34 pm
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
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Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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http://www.coha.org/2009/01/head-of-human-rights-watch-responds-to-scholars-criticism-of-venezuela-report/

Below is the comment I posted to COHA's site


Joe Emersberger Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
January 11th, 2009 at 12:44 pm
The academics made a very specific claim about HRW’s report:

“The most cited source with regard to political discrimination is the newspaper El Universal. ”

El Universal being an opposition newspaper.

HRW responded by looking at ALL sources they quoted which evaded the point. Moreover the sources HRW listed as presumably unbiased sources (the ILO, IACHR) have shown bias against Venezuela.

The IACHR failed to call for reinstatement of Chavez while a dictatorship was briefly installed following the coup of 2002. Please don’t say the facts weren’t clear. The people in the slums of Caracas not only figured out that a coup had taken place - they foiled it.

The ILO’s ruling that the oil industry shutdown was not intended to bring down the Chavez government was preposterous, as is HRW’s attempt to hide behind it as part of their effort to defend their report.

The problem isn’t the use of biased sources. Completely unbiased sources cannot exist about topics like human rights conditions. The problem is failing to sensibly factor political bias into an analysis. For example, I cite HRW on Colombia, noting that HRW is biased in favor of US allies. Hence HRW are more likely to downplay rather than exaggerate the crimes of the Colombian government.

I hope that this public debate continues and that, as part of it, HRW will finally answer some questions which I have been posing to them for years and to which they have never replied.

1) When a coup deposed Chavez for 2 days in 2002, why did HRW’s public statements fail to do obvious things like denounce the coup, call on other countries not to recognize the regime, invoke the OAS charter, and (especially since HRW is based in Washington) call for an investigation of US involvement?

2) Very similarly, when a coup deposed Haiti’s democratically elected government in 2004, why didn’t HRW condemn the coup, call on other countries not to recognize the regime, invoke the OAS charter, and call for an investigation of the US role? Many of these things were done by the community of Caribbean nations (CARICOM). A third of the UN General Assembly called for an investigation into the overthrow of Aristide. Why didn’t HRW back them up?

3) Since 2004, why has HRW written about 20 times more about Venezuela than about Haiti despite the fact that the coup in Haiti created a human rights catastrophe in which thousands of political murders were perpetrated and the jails filled with political prisoners?

4) Why did HRW never write a word in support of Father Gerard Jean-Juste, Haiti’s most prominent political prisoner after the coup? Even after Amnesty International named him a “prisoner of conscience” and participated in an international campaign to have him released to receive treatment for cancer, HRW said absolutely nothing. Instead HRW has repeatedly objected to law suits brought against Venezuelan “civil society” leaders like Maria Corina Machado, who has never been jailed despite signing the infamous Carmon decree which briefly abolished Venezuelan democracy.

Joe Emersberger
Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:13 pm
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
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Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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RE: Washington Post Op-Ed- Exposing A Chavez Charade; Jose Miguel Vivanco; May 2, 2009

Dear Jose Miguel Vivanco

In this op-ed you mention that Latin Americans are suspicious of the US government because of how the Bush administration responded to the 2002 coup that briefly ousted Hugo Chavez. However, you fail to address how badly HRW's credibility has was also damaged in recent years..

Please answer these questions if you are interested in restoring HRW's badly damaged credibility:

1) When a coup deposed Chavez for 2 days in 2002, why did HRW's public statements fail to do obvious things like denounce the coup, call on other countries not to recognize the regime, invoke the OAS charter, and (especially since HRW is based in Washington) call for an investigation of US involvement?

2) Very similarly, when a coup deposed Haiti's democratically elected government in 2004, why didn't HRW condemn the coup, call on other countries not to recognize the regime, invoke the OAS charter, and call for an investigation of the US role? Many of these things were done by the community of Caribbean nations (CARICOM). A third of the UN General Assembly called for an investigation into the overthrow of Aristide. Why didn't HRW back them up?

3) Since 2004, why has HRW written about 20 times more about Venezuela than about Haiti despite the fact that the coup in Haiti created a human rights catastrophe in which thousands of political murders were perpetrated and the jails filled with political prisoners? Haiti's judiciary remains stacked with holdovers from the coup installed regime. The lingering impact of the coup is revealed by a recent ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in favor of Yvon Neptune. Haiti has ignored the IACHR order that it dismiss the case against Neptune and pay damages for his illegal two year imprisonment. HRW has not publicly urged the Haitian government to obey the ruling, nor has it applied any public pressure on the government to investigate the disappearance of Lovinsky Pierre Antoine, a leading human rights activist.

4) Why did HRW never write a word in support of Father Gerard Jean-Juste, Haiti's most prominent political prisoner after the coup? Even after Amnesty International named him a "prisoner of conscience" and participated in an international campaign to have him released to receive treatment for cancer, HRW said absolutely nothing. Instead HRW has repeatedly objected to law suits brought against Venezuelan "civil society" leaders like Maria Corina Machado, who has never been jailed despite signing the infamous Carmon decree which briefly abolished Venezuelan democracy.

5) Why hasn't HRW called for a full disclosure of US funding of the opposition in Bolivia given the murders recently perpetrated in Pando by anti-government groups? HRW has called on the OAS to investigate the Colombian government's allegations that the Chavez assists the FARC. In contrast, HRW has not urged the US government to cooperate with the Freedom of Information Act requests made by Jeremy Bigwood regarding US activity Bolivia.


Joe Emersberger
Wed May 06, 2009 1:07 am
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
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Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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emailto HRW re press reelease assailing Venezuela - again
Posted by emersberger on August 1, 2009, 6:36 am

HRW has said nothing since July 8 about the ongoing and intensifying repression in Honduras. Apparently they've been too busy working on a long winded press release assailing Venezuela yet again


HRW stated

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/07/31/venezuela-repeal-measures-aimed-critics

"What we are witnessing is the most comprehensive assault on free speech in Venezuela since Chávez came to power,"

HRW apparently forgot about the coup of 2002 during which the private media imposed a comprehensive black out aimed at propping up the dictatorship of Pedro Carmona. The mere existence of multi-millionaire, even billionaire, media moguls is a serious and ongoing assault on freedom of speech. HRW's analysis of press freedom ignores the impact of private power. In fact, during the 2002 coup HRW disgraced itself by also ignoring the gravest abuse of public power.

HRW's press release then destroys the justification for the amount of criticism it has aimed at the Chavez administration over the last decade by saying:

"So far, a vibrant public debate continues in Venezuela, in which anti-government and pro-government media are equally vocal in their criticism and defense of Chávez. However, by expanding and toughening the penalties for speech and broadcasting offenses, Chávez and his legislative supporters have strengthened the state's capacity to limit free speech, and created powerful incentives for self-censorship."

Since 2004, HRW written about 20 times more about Venezuela than about Haiti despite the fact that the 2004 coup in Haiti created a human rights catastrophe in which thousands of political murders were perpetrated and the jails filled with political prisoners. All of this was done with the collaboration of Haiti's private media. Don't hold your breath waiting for HRW to notice or to answer criticism about their priorities.

Similarly in Honduras, the de facto government has certainly imposed harsh press censorship, but a large segment of the private media has willingly aided and abetted the regime.

The Chavez government has resorted to using regulations to reign in the abuses of the private media. This strategy is flawed because it leaves itself open to charges of censorship and does not strike at the heart of the problem - undemocratic control of public debate. The Venezuelan government is on much more solid ground with its efforts to democratize the media through community broadcasters. Here is a fine article about that initiative

http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/4678

Critics can validly argue that the community broadcaster (despite regulations aimed at keeping them independent of government officials) still depend on the government for funding. However, that could be amended through legislation that limits the ability of government to arbitrarily cut funding.
Sat Aug 01, 2009 7:31 pm
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