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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Howard and Downer reach new low with anti-Cuba amendment in UN -Socialist Alliance

“Just when some were beginning to imagine that the Howard government couldn’t possibly go any lower, it today set a new record of sycophancy towards the Bush administration.” Dick Nichols, National Coordinator of the Socialist Alliance said today.

Nichols was commenting on the news that Australia’s representatives at the United Nations General Assembly had yesterday moved an amendment to the Cuban government’s annual UN resolution calling for the US economic blockade of the island to be lifted. The vote on the resolution is due today. Last year this resolution passed with 182 for (including Australia), the US, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands against and Micronesia abstaining. That vote reflected the fact that the blockade of Cuba has been overwhelmingly rejected by the international community which understands that it runs counter to the most basic norms of international law.

But Australia’s amendment calls on Cuba to “release unconditionally all political pisoners, cooperate fully with international human rights bodies and mechanisms, respect the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and comply fully with its obligations under all human rights treaties to which it is a State Party.”

Nichols called this statement “unadulterated hypocrisy”. He said that the US rulers were intent on fixing in everyone’s brains an association between the words “Cuba” and “human rights violations” in order to further tighten their blockade policy against the Cuban people and their revolutionary government.

“That’s by far the greatest violation of human rights taking place in the Western Hemisphere”, the Alliance spokesperson stressed. Nichols said: “If the United States were really interested in developing the human rights of the Cuban people it would have already ended this inhumane blockade, which has caused the country at least $US86 million in direct economic damage (an annual average of $US1.8 million).” “And if the US were interested in a serious discussion on human rights in Cuba it would have moved a separate reolution in the specialised UN bodies dedicated to this area, the Human Rights Council and the ‘Third Committee’.”

Nichols added: “But there’s no way that would have happened—it would have been an invitation for UN delegations to compare and contrast Cuba’s record in the area of human rights with that of the authors of Abu Graib, Guantánamo and the world´s highest prison population.”

The Alliance spokesperson said that the amendment that “the Washington string-pullers got their puppets in Canberra to move” was introduced right at the last moment to ambush UN delegations into confusion. He added: “Cuba’s delegation started to circulate its draft on 17 October. According to the Cubans, from that date onwards numerous bilateral consultations were held with other delegations but until yesterday no delegation had requested that Cuba introduce any changes to its text.” Nichols underlined: “The Australian government’s role in this business is particularly disgusting. Washington’s heavies obviously couldn’t find any other country to do their dirty business, so once aain they turned to the ever-eager-to-please Howard and Downer. One of the few areas in which Australia has disagreed with Washington’s bullying foreign policy now disappears.”

The Socialist Alliance spokesperson finished by noting that Cuba “has many, many friends in Australia. We in the Socialist Alliance will be with them in defending Cuba against this latest disgraceful attack.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION: 0425 221 565 (Dick Nichols)

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