What is Human Rights Watch really watching?
Published: May 22, 2022 08:11 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

The US has long used human rights issues to interfere in other countries' internal affairs and advance its foreign policy objectives. It has devised tools that could serve as a facade for its hegemonic political agenda, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) is one of them. 
Despite its appearance as an impartial NGO, HRW is devoted to producing ideologically biased and politically motivated reports on the human rights situations of other countries. Instead of promoting the great cause of human rights, it has been playing dirty tricks to stoke instability and confusion worldwide.
Meddling hand
Following the death of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez in 2013, HRW immediately issued a report calling Venezuela one of the most abusive nations and accusing the Chávez government of restricting press freedom. While leveling these allegations, the report deliberately ignored the fact that owners of private media in Venezuela used their vast resources to defend their own privileges by undermining the government at every opportunity. HRW also failed to report on the $4 million in funding provided by the US government to anti-Chávez journalists and media outlets from 2007 to 2009.
It repeated the same old trick in Hong Kong in 2019 by issuing groundless reports whitewashing the rioters as peaceful protesters, while accusing the Hong Kong police of using excessive force when in fact they had exercised great restraint in countering the riots and violence. The organization also sent its employees to aid and abet those plotting violent criminal acts and inciting separatist activities for "Hong Kong independence." 
Double standards
HRW has constantly pointed fingers at the human rights records of countries that disagree with the US and its Western allies, while remaining silent about human rights violations by Western governments. 
In February 2013, HRW condemned the Syrian government's illegal use of missiles in the civil war, yet it played deaf and dumb when, six months later, the US attacked Syria with missiles in violation of international law. HRW's Executive Director Kenneth Roth even questioned whether a simply "symbolic" bombing would be enough, as he asked on Twitter: "If Obama decides to strike Syria, will he settle for symbolism or do something that will help protect civilians?" The Executive Director of the MIT's Center for International Studies John Tirman swiftly denounced the tweet as "possibly the most ignorant and irresponsible statement ever by a major human-rights advocate."
In its reports on Cuba, HRW made zero recognition of the root cause of Cuba's economic plight, namely US sanctions, nor did it acknowledge the country's achievements in ensuring the economic and social rights of its citizens. In 2012, HRW reported on the labor violations at Jadawel International, a construction company founded and owned by Saudi Arabian billionaire Al Jaber. Soon after that, HRW admitted that it received a considerable donation of $470,000 from Al Jaber's UK-based charitable foundation. What HRW really cares about is not human rights, but political and economic interests.
Revolving Door
HRW's true colors are reflected in its close links with the US government. In 2014, Nobel Peace Prize laureates Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire sent a letter of protest to HRW titled "Close Your Revolving Door to US Government," signed by 131 experts and scholars criticizing the organization's close relationship with the US government. Before Tom Malinowski took the job of HRW's Washington advocacy director, he was a special assistant to former US president Bill Clinton and a speechwriter for late secretary of state Madeleine Albright. In 2013, Malinowski left HRW when former secretary of state John Kerry nominated him for the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The Vice Chair of HRW's Board of Directors, Susan Manilow, described herself as "a longtime friend to Bill Clinton," and helped manage his campaign finances.
HRW asserts that it does not accept private donations lest they compromise its objectivity and independence, while boasting that it does not advocate any political agenda. However, George Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations, announced a grant of $100 million over 10 years to HRW in 2010. This very person also plotted and sponsored almost all the coups and "color revolutions" in the world with "moral" and monetary support to so-called pro-democracy groups.
With all its hypocrisy and political manipulations, HRW has demonstrated what it is really watching, and human rights is probably not one of those things.
The author is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for Global Times, China Daily etc. He can be reached at xinping604@gmail.com.