By S.T. Patrick
It’s fair to wonder whose rights are being protected by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a non-governmental organization (NGO) that has watched on and cheered as American interventionists have sanctioned small Latin American nations as a common practice.
Like many nefarious organizations, bills, and lobbying groups, HRW has a nice name with a message that’s difficult to criticize. Who couldn’t believe in an organization that monitors human rights abuses across the Third World? But just as legislative bills with “children” and “veterans” in their names are often nothing but pork politics funneling money to pet congressional organizations owned or operated by big campaign donors, HRW is often not what it appears to be.
When you follow HRW’s recommendations for sanctions, what you find is that they are targeting countries that are not exactly friendly to large American corporations buying control of their natural resources. To mainstream Republicans, that makes them “leftist” governments. To populists, however, they are governments concerned with the sovereignty and economic freedom of their own people.
In the past few months, as the world has dealt with varying levels of coronavirus response, Human Rights Watch Australia’s development and outreach manager Stephanie McLennan praised new U.S. sanctions on Nicaragua. The idea is to bury governments deemed unfriendly with economic sanctions that cause hunger, poverty, and hardship—and inevitably create enmity toward the United States from its citizens. This rustles up tension among the poor and the working class who inevitably call for a new leader. In steps the CIA to install a more friendly (to U.S. business interests) leader with the vocal applause from HRW.
In an article on HRW for news analysis website The Grayzone, Ben Norton wrote: “Since its founding days, Human Rights Watch has functioned as a revolving door between the NGO sector and the U.S. government. It has repeatedly refused to oppose American wars and military interventions, and displayed clear double standards toward Washington’s allies, while fixating obsessively on the supposed misdeeds of independent nations targeted by the U.S. for regime change.”
HRW was founded under the name Helsinki Watch in 1978. It was to monitor the Soviet Union’s compliance with the Helsinki Accords, an agreement between 35 nations. Its founders were Robert Bernstein and Aryeh Neier. Bernstein was the president of Random House for 25 years. Neier was the president of George Soros’s Open Society Institute from 1993 to 2012. Soros announced in 2010 that he planned to give $100 million to HRW over a 10-year period to help it expand internationally. Soros has long funded regime change across the globe and, though a leftist supporter of American Democratic politics, has been a rabid anti-communist internationally, where most of his own profits are made. Throughout its duration, HRW has also taken large grants from the Ford Foundation, which, itself, has direct links to CIA activities.
Ken Roth has helmed HRW for the last 27 years. Roth was a former federal prosecutor, who now calls for the persecution of leaders and countries he deems to be in violation of human rights mandates around the world. In recent years, he has supported coups in Bolivia and Venezuela, he has pushed for tighter restrictions on Nicaragua, and he backed the Trump administration’s murder of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Roth’s sights are now set on China. He has compared the Chinese government to Nazi Germany, and he notoriously spread a falsified video of Chinese “killer robots.” It was later discovered that this was special effects training and not film footage of murderous robotic soldiers.
With the aid of the Soros money, HRW now operates three entire floors of the luxurious Empire State Building in New York City.
Sanctions are not as popular as they once were. Once seen as a way to avoid war, sanctions are now looked upon by a critical international community as a direct path to poverty and starvation and as a prelude to war. When applied unilaterally, they have the stench of imperialism. As American diplomat and current head of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass wrote for the Brookings Institute, “Economic sanctions are increasingly being used to promote the full range of American foreign policy objectives.”
With Soros and an array of foundations financing what amounts to an interventionist advocacy group eager to spark the CIA’s covert war machine, Human Rights Watch is not an organization that can or should be trusted to denounce any country for any sort of abuses.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected]. He is also an occasional contributor to TBR history magazine and the current managing editor of Deep Truth Journal (DTJ), a new conspiracy-focused publication available from the AFP Online Store.