- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 27, 2004

China, Cuba, Russia, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe: This is the alliance of some of the worst Communist dictatorships and Islamist fascist regimes that, under the guidance of Vietnam and with the grave contribution of India, are working to expel our organization from the United Nations.

Let’s start with the facts: Last Friday, under the initiative of the Hanoi regime, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations of the United Nations voted (nine in favor, eight against and two abstentions) a “recommendation” to suspend the Transnational Radical Party for three years from its high-level consultative status with the United Nations. (The TRP has been the first political organization to have this recognition bestowed upon it.) The final decision now will be taken during the plenary session of the U.N. Economic and Social Council to be held in New York in July. The bad news is that this attack could well achieve its goal.

The Radicals are “guilty” of having guaranteed to Mr. Kok Ksor the right to speak at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights since 2001, when a new wave of violent persecution was launched by the Hanoi regime against the Montagnard people of Vietnam.

Mr. Kok Ksor, the leader of this mainly Christian indigenous people, is now a U.S. citizen and relentlessly continues to advocate for the preservation of the political, cultural and religious identity of his people. Since 1975, the Vietnamese regime has been perpetrating a creeping genocide against the Montagnards and is successfully managing to conceal it under a veil of silence (especially after a new bloody wave of repression of last Easter) due to the indifference of the international community and of the United Nations itself. The same veil of silence covers the other criminal actions taking place in Vietnam against all political, ethnic and religious entities who advocate freedom and democracy, such as the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam.

In reality we are witnessing a new chapter in a long story. Within the United Nations, three things can be seen to be systematically taking place. First, there is the attempt to apply pressure on all those NGOs that are the most active in defense of liberty and democracy: The TRP already had been attacked (we subsequently won this case) by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government in 2000, and other similar attacks have taken place against — to cite just two examples — Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders.

Second, the enemies of freedom show ever more frequently that they know how to work well together, with all the skills required for effective teamwork. In the past, this synergy has already been seen many times at work (one has in mind the Islamic Conference or the Non-Aligned Movement); today, it is happening with this union among some of the countries that that are the worst of the worst in regard to respecting human rights, and that, for example, has been able to guarantee the election of Sudan to the Commission on Human Rights. (Genocide is taking place in that country. As was the case a decade ago in Rwanda, the United Nations is basically sitting and watching.)

Third, there is the difficulty in organizing an alliance among those who work “for the good” (rather than “for the evil”), and in making them work together with similar effectiveness. It would be important if the member countries of the “Community of Democracies,” which defend the NGOs that are attacked (and even this time, under the guidance of Italy, the United States, Romania, Germany, Peru, Cameroon, Chile, Turkey and France came down on the side of the TRP), were to organize themselves more efficiently both inside and outside the United Nations. This would give life to an effective “U.N. Democracy Group,” as we set out in this newspaper on March 23.

The Democracy Group can turn those who use terror against their own citizens and then cover up human-rights violations at the United Nations into a minority, and it can also manage to move this organization from a destiny that, at the present time, involves a negation of the very principles set out in its founding charter. Today, the United Nations, contrary to its original project, is a tribune where autocrats and oppressors are legitimized and given international recognition and power on human-rights issues.

We need, then, to prepare democratic countries and ourselves for the challenge of July. It is not only the fate of a political organization or our party that is in the balance, but also an ideal that is much more important for many oppressed peoples in the world.

We also need to work toward the solution of a problem that is of immense strategic importance: We should convince the largest democracy on the planet, India, to operate in a way that conforms to the hopes of democrats all over the world. The new foreign minister, Natwar Singh — who was the secretary-general of the Non-Aligned Movement at the time of Indira Gandhi — after the intervention of the coalition in Iraq called for a return of the Non-Aligned Movement as a “counterweight to the American superpower,” which, according to him, had illegitimately adopted a policy of “regime change” in Iraq. We need to clearly and loudly make the new Indian government understand that setting off in this direction is exactly the opposite of what India and the United Nations really need.

Daniele Capezzone is secretary general of Radicali Italiani. Matteo Mecacci is a member of the Transnational Radical Party and the General Council.

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