Beijing Xinhua Domestic News Service[FBIS Translated Text] Beijing, 27 Feb (Xinhua) -- The State Council Information Office today issued an article, entitled: "The US Human Rights Record in 2000." Its full text is as follows:
February 27, 2001
US Human Rights Record in 2000
On 27 February, the US State Department issued "The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices -- 2000." The United States, once again, regarded itself as "judge of human rights situations in the world." Through distortions and fabrications, it gathered human rights offenses against over 190 countries and regions in the world, including China, and falsely accused these countries and regions of certain abuses. However, the US report on human rights around the world completely avoided and had nothing to say about the United States' own human rights situation. The following materials precisely showed that serious human rights abuses exist in the United States:
I. Myth of 'Democracy' Dispelled as Political Rights Have Been Abused
Always claiming to be a "model of democracy," the United States has been peddling "American-style democracy" to other countries in the world. Under the pretext of safeguarding "democracy," the United States makes rash criticisms of other countries and interferes in their internal affairs. However, well-informed people fully understand that the 200-odd-year-old American "democracy" has always been nothing more than a "fairy tale" since its citizens' political rights have been ruthlessly abused persistently.
Even though the United States stipulated its citizens' right to vote when it promulgated its Constitution in 1787, its citizens had to await 184 years before they could legally achieve universal suffrage. Due to various restrictions governing voters' race, sex, property, educational level, age, length of residence, and other fields, blacks, women, native Americans, and about one-third of white men had been denied their legal rights to vote for quite a long period. Blacks, women, and native Americans only legally attained their rights to vote in 1870, 1920, and 1948, respectively; that is, 94, 144, and 172 years respectively after the United States' founding. Meanwhile, the United States only legally revoked restrictions governing voters' property, poll tax, and educational level in 1856, 1964, and 1970, respectively. It wasn't until 1971, or nearly 200 years after the United States' founding, that the United States adopted Amendment 26 to the Constitution that stipulated: Age shall not be a factor for revoking the right to vote by a citizen who is 18 years old or above, thereby legally materializing universal suffrage.
However, attaining universal suffrage legally and achieving it in practice are two different issues. The percentage of US citizens who vote has always been very low. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the percentage of voters who voted in various elections for the House of Representatives has always been between 30 and 60 percent. The highest percentage of US voters who voted in US presidential elections that have traditionally been termed as important political events was only 65 percent. For a candidate to win in a presidential election, he only need attain more than 50 percent of the total number of votes cast by voters. Consequently, US presidents actually attained support from a very small percentage of the total voters of the right age: They persistently won less than 35 percent of the total number over the past many years. The voter turnout rate for the 1996 general election was only 49 percent, and only 25 percent of registered voters nationwide voted for the president. Thus, the results of the US so-called "general elections" have never represented the will of the entire people or the majority.
The 2000 presidential election further exposed the inherent flaws of the US electoral system. The result of the election was changed three times on a single day. Vote counting was unbearably chaotic and full of loopholes. The two candidates, separately representing the Democratic and Republican parties, filed lawsuit after lawsuit on the counts and recounts of ballots in Florida and engaged in non-stop partisan bickering. Some organizations even issued commemorative coins for the election turmoil to profit from it. The 2000 general election was accompanied by demonstrations and protests. In line with the electoral system in the election law which has been carried out for more than 200 years, electoral votes, not the popular votes, ultimately decide which candidate will win. The 50 million voters who cast their ballots for the winning candidate represented less than one-fourth of the 205 million eligible voters throughout the nation, hitting a record low in US election history. As a result, the general election and the citizens' electoral power have lost their practical meaning. The myth of the US democratic system was once again exposed. The Washington Post cried out in alarm, saying the US political and electoral system had "exploded." Reuters called the election "absurd." The Associated Press reported, "Some were shocked that a nation often held as a model of democracy could also stumble" (Footnote 1). Like a drop of water that may cause water in a cup to spill over, the "X-ray film of the election" has exposed the inherent undemocratic nature of the US election system.
American democracy has always been a "game for rich people." It is called the "democracy of the wallet." In the United States, where politics is completely commercialized, any bidder for official post needs to spend a significant amount of money to win. No presidential or congressional candidate will go far without financial backing. The campaign funds have continued to climb, and the huge sums of money needed can take people's breath away. The general election in 2000 cost about $3 billion, 50 percent more than in 1996 and reaching an all-time high. The races in various states cost another $1 billion. While not forbidding political donations, US law sets upper limits on donations from individuals to candidates, political commissions and parties, but allows any amount of "soft" donations from companies or trade unions to political parties. As a result, the amount of "soft money" collected by the political parties and candidates reached $648 million, four times the amount of four years ago. During the election campaign, at least 20 contributors spent more than $1 million each. Actresses Jane Fonda wrote a $12 million check in support of a new pro-abortion rights organization. Business circles also spent a lot of money lobbying US political circles. In the 18 months before 30 June 2000, 18 British companies spent $30 million, and the US National Rifle Association, together with firearms manufacturers, funneled several billion dollars to Capitol Hill, lobbying congressional members to oppose limits on gun sales and possession. As a result, gun control legislation did not pass. In an article on 25 October 2000, the British newspaper Financial Times pointed out that the political system in the United States is decaying to a point where even American voters can smell the stink of money. The election made it clear that the federal election system has been reduced to "collective bribery" and US democracy could be sold to the highest bidders.
In the 2000 elections, Jon Corzine, a Democrat, spent more than $60 million to win the Senate seat for New Jersey, setting a new record for congressional election campaign spending. An Associated Press analysis of data on the correlation between money and electoral victory released on 9 November 2000 shows that 81 percent of the Senate winners and 96 percent of the House winners in last year's elections outspent their opponents, and that as of 18 October, 26 out of 32 Senate races and 417 out of 433 House races were won by the candidates with the most money to spend. An American expert who studies money and campaigns identified the secret of electoral success: "I can check the fund-raising balances at the Federal Election Commission and tell you what the election results will be before the election" (Footnote 2). Obviously, the key to American democracy is money, which dictates the process and outcome of an election. Small wonder that the Spanish newspaper El Mundo likens the role of money to the "cancer of US democracy," pointing out that the spread of this cancer "in any country has never reached the same scale and severity as in the United States" (Footnote 3).
Likewise, press freedom in the United States is influenced by money. Wealthy people have the power to manipulate the mass media, which have always served as the mouthpieces of the rich as well as the propaganda machinery with which those in power shape public opinion. If the rich and the powerful are so inclined, and if there are financial gains to be had, press freedom in the United States is abused now and then, even to the point of flouting international norms. Article 20 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Human Rights clearly states that "any propaganda for war" and "any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred" shall be prohibited by law. However, the United States has disregarded the provisions of the international covenant and the universal practices in many countries, sacrificing principle for profit by selling or allowing the sale of Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler's notorious anti-Semitic autobiography, ever since 1933. During World War II, the United States earned more than $20,000 in taxes from sales of this book. For 34 years after World War II, the US Justice Department continued to sell the book quietly, earning more than $139,000 in taxes. After buying the book's copyright in 1979, the US publisher Houghton Mifflin has continued to sell the book. It is estimated that at least 300,000 copies of the book have been sold over the past 20 years, generating $300,000 to $700,000 in profits.
II. Rampant Violence and Unjust Judicial System Jeopardize the Safety of US Citizens' Lives and Their Freedom
The United States, the only country in the world where carrying a private weapon is a constitutional right, is a society ridden with violence. The United States is the world's number one "gun nation" with more than 200 million private guns, or nearly one for each American. The number of registered weapon vendors in the country exceeds 100,000, more than the total number of overseas outlets of fast food giant McDonald's A tracking investigation of 70,000 guns conducted annually by a US agency showed that about 50,000 of them were used in assaults, and the rest turned up in criminal investigations: 5,000 were used in murders, 5,000 for assaults, several thousand were used in thefts and robberies, and some were used in drug-related assault incidents. The excessive number of privately owned guns has resulted in countless gun-related assaults, resulting in tragedy for many innocent people: On 29 February 2000, a six-year-old boy in the state of Michigan killed a girl, one of his classmates. On 18 April 2000, a man in suburban Detroit, who became angry when his neighbors complained about him, fired on the office of the apartment complex, leaving three women dead or injured. At the night of 24 April, seven children were senselessly slaughtered by a gunman at the Washington National Zoo. On 28 December, four masked gunmen broke into a home in Philadelphia fatally shooting seven people and injuring three. On 9 January 2001, a gunman killed three people in Houston, Texas, and on 5 February, another gunman killed four people and injured four others at a factory near Chicago. Statistics showed that over 31,000 people in the United States were killed by guns each year, and over 80 people were killed in gun-related incidents every day.
Police brutality is common in the United States. Each year, thousands of allegations of police abuse were filed across the country, but relatively few police officers who violated the law were held accountable. Victims seeking redress faced obstacles that ranged from overt intimidation to the reluctance of local and federal prosecutors to take on police brutality cases. In 1999, about 12,000 civil rights complaints, most alleging police abuse, were submitted to the US Department of Justice, but over the same period just 31 officers confessed or were convicted.
The US judicial system is extremely unfair. Thirty eight of the 50 US states carry out the death penalty. By 1 July 2000, there were 3,682 people on death row in the nation, more than 90 percent of whom had been victims of sexual abuse and assault. Most of them were poor, attained low educational levels, were not covered by Medicare services, and had to rely on officially appointed lawyers as they were too poor to pay for their own attorneys. The probability that the death sentences were erroneously meted out was very high. After reviewing the 5,760 death penalty cases in the United States over a period of 23 years between 1973 and 1995, Columbia University published a report on 12 June 2000, pointing out that 68 percent of the death penalty sentences in the country did not fit the crimes. It said that on average more than two of every three death penalty sentences were overturned on appeal. The rate of erroneous judgment on death penalty in the state of Florida was 73 percent, while the figures rose to as high as 100 percent in the states of Kentucky, Maryland, and Tennessee. According to statistics, over 660 people have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 by the US Supreme Court. Out of the total, 500 people or 70 percent were executed in the past eight years. In 2000, over 70 people or 11 percent of the total were executed. The United States also violates international conventions by convicting and executing juvenile and mentally retarded offenders, and failing to provide defendants facing execution with competent attorneys. Thirty mentally retarded people were executed in the United States in the past decade.
The United States claims it is the "paradise for liberals." However, compared to other countries, the United States has the highest number of incarcerated people in the world. According to a report of the US Department of Justice, the American newspaper USA Today reported in its 8 August edition (Footnote 5) that about 6.3 million men and women in the United States were on probation or parole, or were in jail or prison at the end of 1999. The figure represented 3.0 percent of the adult population of the United States. The "correctional population" increased 2.7 percent from 1998 and 44.6 percent from 1990. Under US laws, those who are serving prison terms after being convicted of felonies and former inmates out on probation or parole are disenfranchised, and one quarter of the states denied the right to vote for those who had served their sentences. It is estimated that over one million Americans who have finished serving their sentences are deprived of their right to vote. A report of a US judicial policy research institute showed that more than two million men and women were behind bars by 15 February 2000, up 75 percent from the 1.14 million reported 11 years ago, accounting for one-quarter of the world's total inmates, and ranking first among various countries in the world. The US Department of Justice also revealed in August 2000 that the rate of incarceration had reached 690 inmates per 100,000 US residents by the end of 1999, also the highest in the world. The state of Louisiana took the lead with 736 inmates per 100,000.
Despite huge spending that far exceeds the federal budget for education, US prisons are overcrowded, prison violence is rampant, and prisoners are badly treated. Statistics showed that in 1998, 59 inmates in the United States were killed by other inmates, and assaults, fights, and rapes injured 6,750 inmates and 2,331 prison personnel. Estimates by nongovernmental groups in the state of California showed that some 10,000 sexual assaults occur daily in US prisons, and male inmates are sexually assaulted by their cellmates. In some extreme cases, the raped inmates were literally sex slaves of the perpetrators, being "rented out" for sex, "sold," or even auctioned off to other inmates. Despite the devastating psychological impact of such abuse, perpetrators were rarely punished. A report released in September 2000 by the US Department of Justice said an "institutional culture that supports and promotes abuses" was in place in US prisons. Verifiable reports of physical abuses include brutal beatings by prison officers and officers paying inmates to beat other inmates. At Wallens Ridge State Prison, Virginia's super-maximum security prison, 50,000-volt stun guns were often used against inmates. From January 1999 to June 2000, prison guards at Red Onion State Prison, Virginia's super-maximum security prison, shot a total of 116 blank rounds and 25 stinger rounds of rubber bullets and discharged stun guns on 130 separate occasions. At Corcoran State Prison in California, eight prison guards drove a group of inmates to a small playground for an ancient Roman-style wrestling match that resulted in several deaths. Over 20,000 inmates were placed in solitary confinement in special maximum security facilities, where they were locked alone in small and windowless cells and released for only a few hours each week. They were handcuffed, shackled, and escorted by officers whenever they left their cells. At Wisconsin's new super-maximum prisons, inmates were subject to round-the-clock confinement in isolation, subject to 24-hour fluorescent lighting in their cells and 24-hour video monitoring (Footnote 6).
III. Widening Gap Between the Rich and the Poor and Deteriorating Situations of Worker's Economic and Social Rights Are Worrisome
The latter part of the 20th century was the most economically prosperous period in US history, with the economic growth rate rising steadily for 118 months by the end of 2000. However, the gap between the rich and the poor widened and the laborers' living conditions went from bad to worse. Pressing issues such as poverty, hunger, and homelessness proved difficult to solve.
The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States grew at the same pace as the economic growth. Statistics showed that the richest 1.0 percent of US citizens own 40 percent of the total wealth of the country, while 80 percent of US citizens own just 16 percent. Since the 1990s, 40 percent of the increased wealth went into the pockets of the rich minority, while only 1.0 percent went to the poor majority. From 1977 to 1999, the after-tax income of the richest 20 percent of American families increased by 43 percent, while that of the poorest 20 percent decreased 9.0 percent, after allowing for inflation. The actual income of those living on minimum salaries today was even less than 30 years ago (Footnote 7). An article in the 21 February 2000 issue of US News and World Report pointed out that the average income of the richest 5.0 percent of families in 1979 was 10 times that of the poorest 20 percent of families. In 1999, the income gap had been enlarged to 19 times, ranking first among the developed countries, and setting a new record since the US Bureau of Census began studying the situation in 1947. The income of the executives of the largest US companies in 1992 was 100 times that of ordinary workers, and 475 times higher in 2000 (Footnote 8). According to an assessment by the US journal Business Week in August 2000, the income of chief executive officers was 84 times that of employees in 1990, 140 times in 1995, and 416 times in 1999. A survey showed that the real income of the one-fifth richest of the families in Silicon Valley has increased 29 percent since 1992, while the real income of the one-fifth poorest of the families in the valley decreased during most of the 1990s, and the current income for the poorest has merely bounced back to the same level in 1992, with the employees at the lowest rank now earning on average 10 percent less than a decade age (Footnote 9).
A great number of Americans suffer from poverty and hunger. According to the statistics of the US Government, over 32 million citizens, or 12.7 percent of the total population of the country, live under the poverty line. The incidence of poverty is higher than in the 1970s, and higher than in most other industrialized countries (Footnote 10). An investigation by the US Department of Agriculture in March 2000 showed that 9.7 percent of American families did not have enough food, and at least 10 percent of families in 18 states and Washington D.C. often suffered from hunger and malnutrition. In 1998, 37 million American families did not have enough food. In New Mexico, the poorest state in the United States, 15.1 percent of the families were under threat of hunger.
The number of homeless Americans has continued to increase. A study in the mid-1990s showed that 12 million US citizens were or had been at some time homeless. According to a survey of 26 large cities conducted by the Conference of Mayors, the urgent demand for housing increased in two-thirds of the cities in 1999 over previous years. The number of homeless Americans was larger than any time in the past (Footnote 11). A report in The New York Times of 9 July 2000 said that housing in New York was in the shortest supply of recent decades. More than 130,000 families in the city were waiting for public housing at that time, and homeless shelters sometimes had to receive 5,000 families and 7,000 individuals for a night.
Worker's rights have been seriously infringed upon. Compared with other developed countries, the working hours of laborers in the United States are the longest, while their social security benefits and rights are the worst. According to a report in US News and World Report in March 2000, the average working time of US citizens was 1,957 hours annually, longer than in other developed countries. In Manhattan, about 75 percent of the people with college education aged between 25 and 32 years old work more than 40 hours a week. In 1977, only 55 percent of the people worked the same amount of time. A newly published book in the United States said that some female cashiers and workers on production lines have to wear protective undergarments because they are not allowed to take time to go to the toilet. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions submitted a report to the World Trade Organization in July of 1999, saying that the rights to organize and strike were not guaranteed in US labor laws. When employers decide to break up or prevent the establishment of trade unions, laborers have no legal redress. Only 13 percent of US workers have joined trade unions. More than 7 million of the 14 million functionaries in the state and local governments have no right to collective negotiation, not to mention the right to strike (Footnote 12). Millions of workers, including farm laborers, domestic workers, and low-level supervisors, were explicitly excluded from protection under the law guaranteeing the right of workers to organize. In the 1950s, employers retaliated against hundreds of workers for exercising their right for association, according to statistics. By the 1990s, the number of workers subject to serious retaliation climbed to more than 20,000 (Footnote 13).
Worker's rights and social security cannot be fully guaranteed for US workers. A study by the US Department of Energy in 2000 showed that the incidence of cancer among workers in nuclear weapons production was much higher than workers in other industries due to exposure to harmful radiation and chemical substances. Since the end of World War II, 22 forms of cancer have been diagnosed among the 600,000 workers in 14 nuclear plants in California, Washington and other states; this incidence rate was several times that found in ordinary factories. The US Government had treaded lightly on this issue until it was exposed by media in recent years. Under public pressure, the US Government had to "acknowledge the mistake" (Footnote 14). About 30 million US citizens had no social security eight years ago, and the figure has increased to 46 million currently. The British newspaper Financial Times reported on 25 October 2000 that 12.3 percent of US citizens had no medical insurance 20 years ago, and the rate has increased to 15.8 percent now, or one out of every six Americans.
The education situation in the United States is surprisingly poor. According to a report in USA Today on 29 November 2000, illiteracy is still a serious problem in such a highly developed country. One in five high school graduates cannot read his or her diploma; 85 percent of unwed mothers are illiterate; 70 percent of Americans arrested are illiterate; 21 million Americans cannot read. A child protection foundation has confirmed that 71 percent of fourth graders are not at the education level they ought to be. College tuition and room and board expenses have grown faster than the increase of middle class families' income. The dropout rate among college students has risen to 37 percent (Footnote 15). Statistics from the US Census Bureau show that the income of middle class families increased only 10 percent from 1989 to 1999, while the college tuition increased 51 percent during the same period. The average college tuition in 1999 was 8,086 US dollars, accounting for 62 percent of the income of low-income families. The average tuition fee of private colleges was 21,339 US dollars in 1999, up 34 percent over 1989, accounting for 162 percent of the income of poor families, but only making up for four percent of the income of rich families. More than 30 million low-income families even could not afford to send their children to community colleges.
IV. Serious Gender Discrimination & Ill-treatment of Children
Gender discrimination is widespread in almost every aspect of US society. American women have not yet enjoyed equal constitutional rights compared to men. Women in the United States not only have weak voice in politics, but also are clearly discriminated in terms of employment, job status and wages. The labor protection standards for women are below the international norms, and sexual violence, sexual harassment and domestic violence against women are also rampant in the United States.
Reuters reported on 22 March 2000 that as many as 1,100 women have joined a class action gender discrimination lawsuit, which was initiated by five women in 1978, against the US Information Agency and Voice of America on 48 charges involving job discrimination because of gender when they applied for the positions of technician, editor, expert, and announcer. Following an investigation, the court discovered that the human resource departments of the defendants had even purposely overlooked female candidates through deceptive means such as revising test results and selecting beforehand. The case involved thousands of plaintiffs and lasted 22 years. Lawyers worked on the case for 65,000 work hours. It was not until 2000 that the US Government was forced to accept an out-of-court settlement and paid 508 million US dollars in compensation after 46 out of 48 charges were upheld by the court. The breadth and depth of gender discrimination in the United States can be seen from this case, which involved the highest compensation for such a case since 1964, when the Civil Rights Bill was approved. A report released in November 2000 by an American institute studying policy on women showed that women, who are paid an average of 26 percent less than their male colleagues, do not enjoy equal pay for equal work (Footnote 16).
The number of female prisoners has been increasing markedly in the United States, and they often are the victims of various abuses. Since 1980, the number of prisoners in the United States has tripled, while that of the female prisoners has quadrupled. A report released by the US Government in December 1999 showed that accusations against jail officers of sexual abuse and other negligent behavior are widespread and criminal prosecution of prison guards for abuse of power has been on the rise. The following major cases have been reported since December 1999:
-- Eleven guards and one officer at a county jail run by a private correction company were accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by 16 female inmates;Quite a number of women and children have been smuggled to the United States who are subject to slavery and torture. According to a report released by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in November 1999, as many as 50,000 women and children were smuggled from Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe to the United States every year under false pretense. They are often forced to become prostitutes or ill-treated workers and servants, the youngest of whom are aged nine. Despite as many as 100,000 women and children were smuggled to the country in recent two years, only 250 of whom are listed as the victims of relevant cases. In 1999, the US Immigration and Naturalization Service conducted an investigation in 26 cities and found smuggled women in 250 brothels. No rights whatsoever were guaranteed for these women (Footnote 17). Human trafficking and the sexual slave trade has become the third largest illegal trade in terms of business volume in the United States, following drugs and arms smuggling. An incomplete statistics showed that criminal rings in the United States earn 7 billion US dollars from human trafficking annually (Footnote 18).
-- A jail guard in New Mexico was convicted of violation of civil rights laws on charges of committing sexual assault;
-- A prison officer in New York was sentenced to three years imprisonment with probation for raping two female inmates;
-- A prison officer in Ohio was sentenced to four years of imprisonment for conviction of sexual assault of three female inmates;
-- Some female inmates at a prison in New York disclosed that a number of female inmates were raped and even some of them gave birth to babies in their cells. The majority of the female prisoners who have been sexually assaulted cannot get access to adequate legal protection. The state of Michigan even stipulates explicitly that prisoners are not protected by civil rights laws.
Children in the United States live under worrying conditions, and they were often the major victims of violence and on an average, as many as 5,000 children were shot fatally annually. The percentage of gunshot victims under age 14 was 21 times that of 25 other industrialized countries. Some 1.5 million children, or two percent of the country's total, has one or both parents in state or federal prisons. The United States, one of five countries that has the death penalty for juveniles, has the highest number of juveniles sentenced to death in the world. Twenty-five states of the country gave the death penalty to juveniles, four of which set the lowest age for the death penalty at 17 years and the other 21 states set 16 years as the bottom line or has no age limit at all. Since 1990, 14 juvenile criminals have been executed in the United States, and in the first seven months of 2000, four juvenile criminals were put to death, more than the figure of other countries combined in the past seven years. By October 2000, 83 juvenile criminals, who were under 18 when their crimes were committed, were waiting to be executed. The Judicial Statistical Bureau of the US Department of Justice released a report on 27 February 2000, indicating that from 1985 to 1997, the inmates under age 18 in adult prisons more than doubled from 3,400 to 7,400; and 90 percent of juvenile criminals were high school dropouts (Footnote 19). To date, more than 100,000 children were incarcerated in juvenile detention facilities and many of them were subject to brutal treatment.
Many children in the United States were seriously threatened by poverty. According to an investigation conducted by the UNICEF, the poverty rate of children in the United States ranks second among the 29 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 1998, the poverty rate of American children hit 18.7 percent, 2.5 percentage points higher than that of 1979. To date, as many as 13 million children lived in poverty, three million more than the figure of 1979. Reuters reported on 20 January 2000 that children in 15.2 percent of the families in the United States were starving, and that children aged below six years in 16.3 percent of households do not have enough food. About one million immigrant children who do not hold US citizenship were not covered by Medicare. More than one million children in the country lived on the streets in a perilous position, 40 percent of whom were under five, 20 percent suffered from hunger, 20 percent were not covered by Medicare, 10 percent have seen murders, shootings, rapes and violence, and 25 percent have experienced domestic violence.
In the United States, at least 290,000 children were working in factories, mines and farms where working conditions were bad and dangerous. Children working on farms often had to work 20 hours a day and run the risk of pesticide poisoning, injury and permanent disability. They account for 8 percent of the country's total child workers, while the job-related deaths among them made up 40 percent of the country's total occupational death toll. Among these child farm laborers, merely 55 percent have graduated from high schools. It was estimated that there were one million cases of human rights violations against these child farm workers in the United States every year; yet the US Labor Department listed only 104 such cases in 1998.
V. Racial Discrimination Remains, Minorities Ill-Treated
Racial discrimination in the United States has a long history and is well known throughout the world; it still stands as one of the most serious social problems in the United States today. Even a US report on the implementation of the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination submitted to an UN organization in September 2000 admitted that racism, racial discrimination, de facto apartheid, and inequality for the minorities exist as one of the most serious and daunting challenges facing the United States.
The minorities in the United States have always been called "the Third World in the First World" and are on the brink of being forgotten. De facto apartheid is evident everywhere in America. The Washington Post reported on 3 February 2000 that even in large US cities, few residential areas were actually racially integrated. In about one-third of the black people communities, over 90 percent of the residents were black people. In the 1990s, the actual earnings of high-income families increased by 15 percent on average in the United States, but the rich-poor gap between whites and minorities almost remained unchanged. A survey made by the US Federal Reserve in March 2000 indicated that in 1998, the average net wealth of a middle-income family of Latin Americans, African Americans, or other minorities stood at 16,400 US dollars, equal to just 17.28 percent of that of a middle-income white family. The percentage was basically unchanged compared with 1992's 17.23 percent. In 1998, 72.2 percent of the white families owned their own homes while the proportions for African American and Latin American families were only 46.6 percent and 44.9 percent respectively. Nearly two million aboriginals were living on streets of big cities in the United States and 40 percent of them often went without food for up to three days a week. They were the poorest people in the world's richest country. The Christian Science Monitor reported on 15 May 2000 that immigrant families account for over one-fifth of the US poverty-stricken population and one-fourth of the total number of poor children. Among the immigrants in the United States, over nine million, or 43 percent of the total, do not have medical insurance and half of them work on a full-time job. Over 20 percent of the black people and 32 percent of the Latin Americans were not covered by medical insurance, whereas only 12 percent of the white people do not have medical insurance, according to a research report released last year by the Journal of American Medical Association (Footnote 21). The report also indicated that 41 percent of non-Latin American white youths could receive higher education while the rate for Latin Americans white youths was only 22 percent (Footnote 22).
The discrimination against minorities is deeply rooted in America. The unemployment rate among the black people was double that of whites. An investigation made in 1996 indicated that about 90 percent of the chief executives or managers of US companies had never given any black people the same status and responsibilities. Computer giant Microsoft had a staff of over 20,000 in the United States in 1999; only 557 of them were African Americans. The number accounted for about 2.6 percent of the company's total employees. The company had 5,155 mid-level administrative personnel and only 82 people, or 1.6 percent, were African Americans. A report in USA Today in 2000 said that charges of sexual harassment on immigrated workers for racial reasons had witnessed a fast increase, up 10 times from 1986 to 1999. About 2,200 cases were reported and filed for record in the 1980s, while the figure rose to 15,150 in the 1990s.
Racial discrimination has also emerged as a very serious problem in the courts. A total of 98 percent of the judges in the United States were whites while most of the people receiving prison terms or the death sentence were blacks or other minorities. The black people account for 12 percent of the total US population. However, nearly half of the over two million prison inmates in the United States were black people, and another 16 percent were Latin Americans. The black people were eight times more likely to be in prison than the white men, with an incarceration rate of 3,408 per 100,000 black males compared to the rate of 417 per 100,000 white males. In 11 states, the incarceration rate of the black males was from 12 to 26 times greater than that of the white males. The US Department of Justice estimated that 9.4 percent of all black men at the age of 25-29 years were in prison in 1999, compared to one percent of white men in the same age group. Also in 1999, the juveniles belonging to minority groups constituted one-third of the juvenile population in the United States, but they comprised two-thirds of the young people confined in local detention and state correctional systems. One of every three young black people was confined in juvenile facilities or out on bail. An investigation funded by the Justice Department indicated that the number of young black inmates jailed on first offenses was six times higher than that of white youths. Among the violent crime cases, the number of incarcerated black youths was nine times that of the white youths. Fifteen percent of juveniles under 18 were black; while among the confined people of the same age group, 26 percent were black people. Among youths held in adult prison facilities, 58 percent were black (Footnote 23). The likelihood of conviction for youths of the minorities was much higher than that for similar crimes for white youths. In California, children of color were 6.2 times more likely than white youths to be tried in adult courts, and seven times more likely to be sentenced to prison as adults when they were tried. The number of black men sent to state prisons on drug charges was 13.4 times greater than that of white men. The number of black youths sent to correctional facilities for drug offenses was 48 times higher than that for white youths. In at least 15 states, the number of black people sent to prison on drug charges was 20 to 57 times more than white men. In seven states, 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders were black men. Although the majority of crack cocaine users were white, almost 90 percent of federal drug offenders convicted for the same crime were black.
In the 200-plus years since the United States was founded, a total of 18,000 people have been sentenced to death; only 38 of them were white, accounting for only 0.2 percent of the total. No white man has ever been sentenced to death for raping a black woman. Between 1977 and 1998, the black people comprised only 10 to 12 percent of the total US population. However, out of the 5,709 people sentenced to death, 41 percent were black. A report from the Department of Justice issued on 12 September 2000 acknowledged that in the past five years, lawyers proposed to sentence 183 offenders to death, 20 percent of them were whites, nearly half of them were blacks, around 30 percent were Latin Americans and the rest of were other minorities. Of all death penalty sentences upheld by the US federal courts since 1995, the number of colored people accounts for 74 percent. The number of the black and white murder victims was almost the same; however, since 1997, 82 percent of the total number executed were black people who had murdered white people.
VI. Waging War Frequently and Rampantly Infringing Upon Human Rights of Other Countries
The United States, assuming an air of self-importance and practicing power politics in the world, has done a great deal of damage by encroaching on human rights in other countries.
The United States has, over a long period of time, built many military bases over the world. Several hundred thousand US troops are stationed in these bases and they have committed a series of crimes that violated the human rights of local residents. Such evil acts by the US troops have occurred frequently since 2000 and numerous scandals have been exposed. In 1995, a Japanese schoolgirl was raped by three American soldiers stationed in Okinawa, sparking a massive protest by the Japanese people. Following this incident, a serviceman of the US Navy at the Futenma Airbase was imprisoned for attempting to rape a Japanese woman in Okinawa City on 14 January 2000. That same month, three servicemen of the US Navy in southern Nagasaki sexually harassed two 15-year-old Japanese girls; on 9 January this year, a seaman of the US Navy sexually assaulted a 16-year-old Japanese girl in Okinawa City. On 13 January 2000, a US soldier on peacekeeping duty in Kosovo raped and killed an Albanian girl. The incident aroused strong indignation among Albanians in Kosovo. In July last year, Green Korea United, an environmental protection group of the Republic of Korea (ROK), revealed that the American military base in Seoul discharged untreated embalming fluid used for its servicemen into the Han River. The group reported that since 1991, another US military base in Kangwon Province has discharged waste oil into a local river, which is the source of drinking water for 210,000 local people. The actions of the American troops seriously polluted the local environment and endangered the health of local people. A Cuban newspaper Gelama [name as transliterated] reported on 6 November 2000 that the South Pacific Environmental Program found more than 50 areas in some island countries such as Fiji, Kiribati and Micronesia had been seriously polluted by dangerous refuse. All of the materials have been traced back to US military interests or other interests of the United States. The acting vice minister of foreign affairs of Panama revealed on 24 July 2000 that during its nearly 100-year occupation of the Panama Canal, the US stationed troops in the area, and numerous Panamanian women were abused and cast away by American soldiers, leaving hundreds of thousands of fatherless children. When the US troops withdrew from the Panama Canal area at the end of 1999, they left behind 700 abandoned pregnant women in Panama and Colon provinces alone.
The United States stretches its hands everywhere to meddle in other countries' internal affairs, secretly fostered its own forces, and created incidents of violating human rights in other countries. On 17 January 2001, the US Defense Department set up a "research institute for security cooperation in the western hemisphere." The organization's predecessor was the "Escola Das Americas" of the US Army, which was notorious for teaching military personnel from Latin American and the Caribbean region skills of torturing suspects, secret executions, and sending terror letters to intimidate political dissidents, and was denounced by the International Human Rights Organization as a "training base for dictators, killers, and assassins." In the 54 years between its founding in 1946 to its closure in December 2000, the school officially trained 56,000 cadets. Through various forms of "short-term training" and "secret training," it gave training to innumerous people. Many notorious "human rights violators" and "drug trafficking gang chieftains" were graduates of this school. The several most terrible massacres in Latin America and the Caribbean region, including that in [Uraba] of Columbia, were all done by cadets of the "Escola Das Americas." In 1981, in an action carried out by the "[Atlakater] Battalion" trained by the "Escola Das Americas," 767 innocent villagers in [Elmozot] Village of Columbia were killed, including a 90 year old elder and an infant of less than two months old.
In nearly 10 years after the end of the Cold War, peace and development has become the trend of the times and the common wishes of the people. However, being the sole superpower in the contemporary world, the United States still stubbornly maintains its cold-war mentality, continues to station troops overseas, increase military expenditure, sell large quantities of armaments, and make a show of its military strength everywhere. It has become a major root cause of sabotaging the world's peace and stability and infringing upon other countries' sovereignty and human rights. A report jointly published by the US Department of State and the US Congressional Research and Service Bureau on 21 August 2000 showed that the United States' military expenditure and arms exports both held the top place in the world. Its military expenditure accounted for one-third of the world's total; and its arms exports accounted for 36 percent of the world's total. Its military budget in 2001 will increase by 12.6 billion US dollars on top of the 2000 figure of 200 billion US dollars. According to incomplete statistics, since the 1990s, the United States used force more than 40 times against other countries. In many actions, it used various new weapons with strong killing power and weapons prohibited by the international conventions, including cluster bombs and depleted uranium bombs, causing innumerous casualties among civilians in many areas and causing a long-term disastrous impact on the ecological environment and human health in the victimized areas. Reportedly, more than 30 years ago, the United States tested depleted uranium bombs on its testing grounds in Panama; in 1991, in the Gulf War, the US forces dropped 940,000 depleted uranium bombs in Iraq (Footnote 24); in the Bosnia-Herzegovena war between 1994 and 1995, the US forces dropped more than 10,000 depleted uranium bombs; in 1995 and 1996, the US forces tested depleted uranium bombs in military exercises on Okinawa Island of Japan; in the Kosovo war in 1999, the US forces used 31,000 depleted uranium bombs against Yugoslavia when attacking 112 targets. Being affected by the radioactive materials from the depleted uranium bombs used by NATO in Bosnia-Herzegovena and Kosovo, the number of people suffering from cancer in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia increased by 30 percent (Footnote 25), and at least 10,000 residents of Kosovo died from being affected by nuclear radiation. In a small town of Bulgaria adjacent to Yugoslavia, in a period of two months, 40 out of the 80 new-born infants were deformed or had various physical defects. Soldiers and civilian officers from some European countries who were sent to perform military duties in Bosnia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia, including Kosovo, have contracted "Balkan symptom," and at least 27 people died of this disease (Footnote 26). A spokesman for the United Nations pointed out: The UN Environment Program confirmed that they found the existence of radioactive materials in the samples extracted from Yugoslavia. As all people know, uranium is a radioactive super-heavy metal, but the United States flatly denied that depleted uranium bombs may have harmful effects on the human health, and obstructed the investigations conducted by the relevant countries and international organizations. It also flatly refused to stop using depleted uranium bombs. In fact, the United States was long aware of the harmful effects produced by the explosion of depleted uranium bombs. Even before the breakout of the Gulf War in July 1990, a US military test team pointed out in a report that the explosion of depleted uranium bombs will give out extremely strong alpha ray which may cause cancer to human bodies, so effective preventive measures must be taken to protect soldiers performing military duties in areas being attacked with depleted uranium bombs. However, the residents of the same areas did not receive any warnings, and they were doomed to be victimized by the depleted uranium bombs.
The United States always adopts a negative attitude toward the international human rights covenant. It is one of the founding members of the United Nations, but it waited until 1988 to sign a major international human rights covenant for the first time, that is, the "Covenant on Preventing and Punishing the Crime of Genocide." From the signing to the ratification of this covenant and the "International Covenant on Eliminating All Forms of Racial Discrimination" and the "International Covenant on Civil Rights and Political Rights," the United States separately took prolonged periods of 40 years, 28 years, and 15 years. The United States has signed the "International Covenant on Economic, Social, Cultural Rights" for 24 years, but it has not yet ratified the accord so far. At present, the United States is one of the two countries in the world that has not joined the "International Covenant on Children's Rights," and is one of a very small number of countries that has not joined the "Covenant on Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women." Over a long period of time, the United States opposed to take the right to development as one item of human rights, and it is now the only Western country that is still voting against the "Declaration on the Right to Development." Although the United States is one of the founding members of the Organization of American States, it continued to refuse to join the "Human Rights Convention of America" and other human-rights-related treaties adopted by the organization. For other international human rights treaties it has joined, the United States always made reservation, statements, and understanding to ensure that their implementation would be strictly limited within the scope of the US Constitution and other laws, and could only be applied to the federal level and could not be applied to various states. As a result, the international covenants are a sheer sheet of meaningless paper in the United States.
As a popular saying goes, facts speak louder than words, and justice exists in people's minds. Promoting human rights is the common task of all countries, but the United States just turns a blind eye to the serious human rights problems existing in its own country and keeps using the high-sounding words of "human rights" in international affairs. Year after year, it publishes the so-called "Human Rights Report" to denounce other countries. This only exposes its hypocritical features as a false "guardian of human rights" and its true features as a world hegemony-seeker. We advise the US Government to change its course, actually adopt measures to improve the human rights conditions at home, do more things conducive to the international cooperation in the field of human rights, and stop arrogantly teaching other peoples on the issue of human rights.
(1) Article from "Washington Post." 9 November 2000; dispatch "Reuters" from Nashville. 18 November 2000; dispatch by "AP" from Tokyo. 9 November 2000.
(2) Dispatch by "AP" from Washington. 9 November 2000.
(3) Article by "World Post" of Spain. 16 August 2000.
(4) Article by "US News and World Reports" weekly. 16 October 2000.
(5) Report by "USA Today." 8 August 2000.
(6) "2001 World Report" by Human Rights Watch.
(7) Article by "Christian Science Monitor" of the United States. 18 September 2000.
(8) Article by "New Statesmen" weekly issue of Britain. 3 July 2000.
(9) Article by "Business Week" issue of the United States. 27 March 2000.
(10) Article by "Granma" of Cuba. 17 November 2000.
(11) Article by "Far East Economic Review" issue No. 20. May 2000.
(12) Article of "Workers' World Party" of the United States. 13 April 2000.
(13) Article of "Washington Post" of the United States. 30 October 2000.
(14) Report by "The New York Times." 29 January 2000.
(15) Dispatch by "AFP" from Paris. 16 May 2000.
(16) Dispatch by "Reuters" from Washington. 14 November 2000.
(17) Report by "The New York Times" of the United States. 2 April 2000.
(18) Article by magazine "Observation" of the United States. 4 December 2000.
(19) Article by "[Gerama]" of Cuba. 21 June 2000.
(20) "2001 World Report" by Human Rights Watch.
(21) Report by "Financial Times" of Britain. 25 October 2000.
(22) Article by "USA Today." 9 January 2001.
(23) Report by "Guardians" of Britain. 27 April 2000.
(24) Article by "Russian Post." 6 January 2001.
(25) Dispatch by "AFP" from London. 6 January 2001.
(26) Dispatch by "AFP" from Paris. 10 January 2001.
[Description of Source: Beijing Xinhua Domestic Service in Chinese -- China's official news service (New China News Agency)]