On February 28, 2022, the People’s Republic of China released “The Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2021.” What follows is the full text of the report.
The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China
- A heavy price for U.S. epidemic prevention and control
- Entrenched violent thinking threatens lives
- Playing with fake democracy tramples on political rights
- Indulging in racial discrimination exacerbates social injustice
- Creating a migrant crisis against humanity
- Abuse of force and sanctions violates human rights in other countries
The human rights situation in the United States, which has notorious records, worsened in 2021. Political manipulation led to a sharp surge in COVID-19 deaths; Shooting deaths hit a new record; Fake democracy trampled on people’s political rights; Violent law enforcement made life harder for migrants and refugees; Discrimination against ethnic minority groups, especially Asians, intensified. In the meantime, unilateral U.S. actions created new humanitarian crises across the globe.
- The United States has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, with 34.51 million confirmed cases and 480,000 fatalities, which far surpassed the numbers in 2020. Average life expectancy fell by 1.13 years, the biggest drop since the Second World War.
- Public security situation in the United States deteriorated and violent crimes remained prevalent. There were 693 mass shootings in 2021, up 10.1 percent from 2020. More than 44,000 people were killed in gun violence.
- More than 420 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 U.S. states. Only 7 percent of young Americans view the country as a “healthy democracy,” while public trust in the government has fallen to almost historical low since 1958.
- Around 81 percent of Asian American adults said violence against Asian communities is rising. Hate crimes against Asians in the New York City jumped 361 percent from 2020. Fifty-nine percent of Americans said ethnic minority groups do not have equal job opportunities.
- In fiscal year 2021, the United States detained more than 1.7 million migrants at its southern border, including 45,000 children. Violent law enforcement claimed 557 lives, the highest number since 1998, which more than doubled that of the previous fiscal year.
- A U.S. drone strike during its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan killed 10 members of an Afghan family, including seven children, among which the youngest was only two years old. The United States still held 39 detainees at the Guantanamo prison.
Fernand de Varennes, a special rapporteur on minority issues of the United Nations, said the U.S. legal system of human rights protection is incomplete and outdated, which has led to growing inequality.
As for the U.S. malpractice in creating human rights crises in other countries in the name of human rights, Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University, said “Americans must first fix what has gone wrong at home and rethink how they deal with the rest of the world.”
In 2021, the U.S. public persona of “human rights defender” was totally debunked as the so-called “Summit for Democracy” under the guise of safeguarding human rights became a farce. At the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, many countries blasted the United States for being the “biggest destroyer” of human rights in the world and urged the country to address its own severe human rights violations.
A heavy price for U.S. epidemic prevention and control
Despite having world’s most advanced medical equipment and technology, the United States has the biggest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths globally. The U.S. government never rethinks its response measures and still lacks effective anti-epidemic plans. Instead, it stoked the origins-tracing of COVID-19, and has been keen on passing the buck, shifting the blame and political manipulation.
Disregard for people’s rights to life and health
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, the epidemic prevention and control has been highly politicized, which has become a tool and a bargaining chip for Republicans and Democrats to attack, reject and confront each other. U.S. politicians focused only on their political gains in disregard of people’s lives and health. The federal and local governments went their own way and constrained each other, which has not only made it very difficult to integrate and coordinate the management of medical resources, but also made people disoriented about epidemic prevention and control policies. And thus various anti-intellectual words and deeds that reject science and common sense have become prevalent. Misled by political manipulation, some Americans refused to wear masks, and even launched an anti-vaccine movement, which accelerated the spread of COVID-19. By the end of 2021, nearly 30 percent of Americans still had not been vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Associated Press (AP) reported on Dec. 19, 2021 that U.S. hospitals were overwhelmed as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations caused by infections among the unvaccinated continued to surge. States, local governments and the public “have now been left out on their own,” American news website Vox said on Jan. 2, 2021. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, by late February 2022, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States had exceeded 78 million and the death toll surpassed 940,000. Its number of COVID-19 deaths recorded in 2021 has far surpassed the total for 2020. According to the analysis by researchers at the University of Southern California and Princeton University, the deaths caused by COVID-19 have reduced overall life expectancy by 1.13 years, the biggest drop since the Second World War. Life expectancy was estimated to fall by 2.10 years among African Americans and 3.05 years among Latinos, while the decline was 0.68 years among whites. The U.S. government’s unscientific, unequal and irresponsible epidemic prevention and control conducts have seriously undermined its people’s rights to life and health. The New York Times reported on Nov. 18, 2021 that the pandemic has proved to be a nearly two-year stress test that the United States “flunked,” and that the American people’s trust in their government has been “bankrupt.”
People’s mental health deteriorated due to the uncontrolled outbreak
A study published in The Lancet Regional Health — Americas in October 2021 found 32.8 percent of U.S. adults experienced “elevated depressive symptoms” in 2021, compared to 27.8 percent in the early 2020 months of the pandemic and 8.5 percent before the pandemic. According to a public opinion poll, more than a third of Americans aged between 13 and 56 said the pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives. The poll finds teens and young adults have faced some of the heaviest struggles as they come of age during a time of extreme turmoil, the AP reported on Dec. 6, 2021. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy was cited by The Los Angeles Time as saying on Dec. 9, 2021 that the number of suspected suicide attempts in 2021 was 51 percent higher among adolescent girls compared to the same period in 2019.
The number of the homeless is staggering
The Washington Post reported on Dec. 7, 2021 that “homelessness is one of the United States’ greatest current challenges, no matter the region.” The AP reported on Sept. 9, 2021 that the number of people without permanent shelter in Rhode Island had increased by more than 85 percent since January 2021. According to a report by the group Advocates for Children, more than 100,000 New York City schoolchildren were homeless at some point during the 2020-2021 school year. The total number of homeless students during the school year represented nearly one-tenth of the city’s public school system. Some students had to live in cars, parks or abandoned buildings. The New York Times reported on Dec. 19, 2021 that in San Francisco one of every 100 residents was homeless.
The elderly’ rights to life are flagrantly violated
U.S. politicians have followed the natural law of “selecting the superior and eliminating the inferior,” declaring that “the elderly could sacrifice for the country” and that “the national economy is more important than the lives of the elderly.” The U.S. CDC said that the vast majority of U.S. COVID-19 deaths have been among people aged 65 or older. According to Stat News, an American health-oriented news website, more than half a million elderly people in the United States have died from COVID-19, accounting for four-fifths of all fatalities. According to a report by Claudia Mahler, the United Nations independent expert on older people, on July 21, 2020, discrimination in the delivery of health care services, insufficient prioritization of nursing homes in responses to the virus, and lockdowns left older people more vulnerable to neglect or abuse. And there was “a significant undercount of nursing home deaths” in the United States during the pandemic.
Serious damage to the global anti-pandemic cooperation
Washington vigorously pursues “America First,” not only withholding anti-epidemic materials from other countries, but also prohibiting the export of domestic medical materials and buying out the production capacity of drugs that may be used to treat COVID-19 patients. The United States has repeatedly coerced the WHO, interfering and dragging down global anti-pandemic cooperation.
The United States has engaged in “vaccine nationalism,” pushing some underdeveloped countries and regions into a desperate situation of having no vaccines to administer.
Since March 2021, the United States has thrown away at least 15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, significantly more than many poor countries have prepared for their whole populations, according to NBC News on Sept. 1, 2021.
“It’s really tragic that we have a situation where vaccines are being wasted while lots of African countries have not had even 5 percent of their populations vaccinated,” said Sharifah Sekalala, an associate professor of global health law at England’s University of Warwick.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also slammed rich countries over their hoarding of vaccines, adding that “they are just giving us the crumbs from their table. The greed they demonstrated was disappointing.”
The Biden administration is still pursuing U.S. interests in ways that are detrimental to the interests of the rest of the world, commented an article on the website of the U.S. Foreign Policy magazine.
Entrenched violent thinking threatens lives
The United States has consistently had one of the highest rates of violent crimes in the world. Gun control measures have been stagnant and gun violence has been rife. The police are discriminatory in law enforcement, killing innocent people and causing public anger. Law enforcement officers commit crimes with impunity, and judicial injustice has been widely criticized. Wrongful and unjust cases continue to exist without being corrected and compensated effectively. Prison inmates are abused, and domestic violence as well as youth violence has increased significantly. The American people live in fear of lack of security.
Deterioration of social order has accelerated the proliferation of guns
The United States is the country with the largest number of privately owned guns in the world. The U.S. public have lost confidence in the government’s social security governance and felt extremely insecure, which drives many to purchase guns to protect themselves.
The Small Arms Survey (SAS) researchers estimate that Americans own 393 million of the 857 million civilian guns available, which is around 46 percent of the world’s civilian gun cache.
There are 120 guns for every 100 Americans, according to the SAS. No other nation has more civilian guns than people.
Everytown for Gun Safety also reported on Dec. 21, 2021 that over 15 million guns were sold through October.
“Ghost guns,” which are assembled from parts purchased by individuals online, are even more proliferating.
According to a report by The New York Times website on Nov. 20, 2021, over the past 18 months, ghost guns had accounted for 25 to 50 percent of firearms recovered at crime scenes.
By the beginning of October last year, the San Diego Police Department had recovered almost 400 ghost guns, about doubling the total for all of 2020 with nearly three months to go in the year.
It also reported that since January 2016, about 25,000 privately made firearms had been confiscated by local and federal law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Gun violence seriously endangers people’s lives
The United States has the worst gun violence in the world. According to statistics released on Jan. 5, 2022 by the Gun Violence Archive website, the number of fatalities from shootings in the United States rose from 39,558 in 2019 to 43,643 in 2020, and further to 44,816 in 2021. In 2021, there were 693 mass shootings in the United States, up 10.1 percent from 2020.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Oct. 5, 2021 that children and teens in the United States are 15 times more likely to die from gunfire than their peers in 31 other high-income countries combined, quoting data from the Children’s Defense Fund.
At least 30 shootings occurred on U.S. campuses during the school season from Aug. 1 to Sept. 15, 2021, killing at least five people and injuring 23, the highest number on record.
A total of 1,229 teens aged 12 to 17 were killed and 3,373 injured in shootings in the United States in 2021. On Nov. 30, 2021, four students were killed in a mass shooting at a Michigan high school by a 15-year-old suspect who used the same gun that his father bought on Black Friday.
CNN reported on Nov. 26, 2021 that Jason R. Silva, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at William Paterson University, said that the United States is the only developed country where mass shootings have happened every single year for the past 20 years.
Shooting incidents have caused a large number of casualties and posed a major threat to public safety. According to an April 2021 Pew Research Center survey, 48 percent of Americans see gun violence as a very big problem in the country today.
Police brutality tramples human life
According to data compiled by Mapping Police Violence, at least 1,124 people died in 2021 due to U.S. police violence. The majority of killings occurred during non-violent offenses or when there was no crime at all.
The USA TODAY website reported on June 21, 2021 that police in the United States fatally shoot about 1,000 people a year. Police have fatally shot more than 6,300 people since 2015, but only 91 officers have been arrested, or just 1 percent of those involved.
The USA TODAY website reported on July 8, 2021 that a poll showed that just 22 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. police treat all Americans equally.
Racial and ethnic groups are often subjected to unfair justice. The USA TODAY website reported on July 15, 2021 that a 20-year-old African-American man in Minnesota, Daunte Wright, was shot and killed by police after being pulled over outside Minneapolis for an expired license plate. Wright’s death was one of a string of incidents in which African-Americans were pulled over for traffic violations and killed innocently.
A study of 20 million traffic stops in North Carolina over more than a decade shows that African American drivers are twice as likely as white drivers to be pulled over by police.
The USA TODAY website reported on May 24, 2021 that within a year of the death of George Floyd, who died after an officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes, enforcement killed hundreds of people of ethnic minorities in the United States.
According to the report, since the year 2000, there have been over 470 murders at the hands of law enforcement in Minnesota. Only one police officer was convicted in the history of Minnesota and that was a minority man that killed a white woman.
The Christian Science Monitor website reported on Nov. 23, 2021 that the Urban Institute found that homicides with a white perpetrator and a black victim are ten times more likely to be ruled justified than cases with a black perpetrator and a white victim.
Human rights violations by prison staff are commonplace
The United States has the highest incarceration rate and the highest number of incarcerated people in the world. An Associated Press investigation has found that the U.S. federal Bureau of Prisons is a hotbed of graft, corruption and abuse.
CTV News reported on Nov. 14, 2021 that crimes committed by federal prison staff in the United States are not uncommon. Since 2019, more than 100 U.S. federal prison staff members have been arrested and convicted of sexual abuse, murder and other offenses.
Prisoners held in U.S. private prisons are at risk of being abused. The UN News reported on Feb. 4, 2021 that in 2019, there were about 116,000 U.S. prisoners held in privately operated facilities, representing about 7 percent of all state prisoners and 16 percent of federal prisoners, quoting data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
On April 20, 2021, nine UN experts, including the UN Human Rights Council Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Older Persons, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Physical and Mental Health, issued a joint statement condemning U.S. human rights violations against Mumia Abu-Jamal, a prisoner of African descent.
The statement said Abu-Jamal, who has been in prison for 40 years, was a social activist and journalist. The 67-year-old suffers from a number of diseases including chronic heart disease, liver cirrhosis and high blood pressure. In February 2021, he was diagnosed with COVID-19. While receiving treatment for heart failure in late February, he was handcuffed to his hospital bed for four days; and when he was hospitalized again in early April for surgery, his family, lawyers and others were denied access to him.
The statement calls on the U.S. government to comply with its international human rights obligations, take urgent measures to protect Abu-Jamal’s life and dignity, immediately stop the practice of withholding information, and allow outside visits to monitor his human rights situation.
It also calls on the U.S. government to take all necessary measures to protect the lives of all detainees, especially the elderly and disabled prisoners who are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The credibility of the U.S. judicial system is in tatters
According to statistics released by the U.S. National Registry of Exoneration on Jan. 11, 2022, 2,933 people have been wrongly convicted in the United States since 1989, with a combined 25,600 years of wrongly imposed prison sentences. However, 14 U.S. states lack legal provisions related to compensation for wrongful convictions.
The BBC reported on Nov. 23, 2021, that Kevin Strickland, 62, had maintained his innocence since his arrest at the age of 18. He was wrongly convicted of third-degree murder in June 1979, only to be found not guilty in 2021 before being imprisoned for more than 42 years, the longest wrongful imprisonment in Missouri history. But under the state’s law, he is unlikely to receive any financial compensation.
The USA Today website reported on July 8, 2021, that a survey showed that only 17 percent of Americans believe the U.S. criminal justice system treats everyone fairly.
Playing with fake democracy tramples on political rights
Political donations bring about transfers of interests after elections, political polarization further intensifies antagonism and division in the U.S. society, and legislation and gerrymander restricting voting eligibility have become tools for parties to suppress the public opinion. The operation of the U.S. political system is moving away from the public will and social demands, the right of the majority of the public to participate in politics is essentially deprived of, and international confidence in the U.S. democratic system continues to decline.
The American-style democracy has descended to a game of transferring interests
Money politics become increasingly rampant in the United States, which makes politicians more neglectful of people’s interests and demands.
Noam Chomsky, a political commentator and social activist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has pointed out that there is a positive correlation between Americans’ wealth and their influence on policy-making, and for about 70 percent on the income-wealth scale, they have no influence on policy whatsoever and are effectively disenfranchised. Ray La Raja, professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, noted in an article for The Atlantic that America’s current system is democratic only in form, not in substance, as the nominating process is vulnerable to manipulation by plutocrats, celebrities, media figures and activists, while many presidential-primary voters mistakenly back candidates who do not reflect their views.
According to The Guardian on Jan. 7, 2021, candidates spent 14 billion U.S. dollars alone on advertising for the 2020 U.S. president election cycle. The U.S. Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) reported on April 15, 2021 that Wall Street executives, their employees and trade associations invested at least 2.9 billion U.S. dollars into political initiatives during the 2020 election cycle. The U.S. media outlet Politico said on Nov. 17, 2021 that a secret-money group “doled out” 410 million U.S. dollars in 2020 to the Democratic Party, aiding the latter’s efforts to win back control of the Senate.
In the 2020 presidential election, U.S. pharmaceutical companies made huge political donations to both parties, and the Democratic administration, after taking office, invested an enormous sum of money back to the companies involved, with Moderna alone earning profit of nearly 1 billion U.S. dollars. The federal government then funneled interests directly to pharmaceutical companies by purchasing large quantities of COVID-19 vaccines, resulting in massive hoarding and waste of vaccines in the United States. The U.S. government gave pharmaceutical companies a free hand in pricing COVID-19 vaccines, leading to continuous increases in vaccine prices. The Financial Times reported that Pfizer raised the price of its COVID-19 vaccine for the European Union from 15.5 euros to 19.5 euros, and the price of a Moderna jab increased to 25.5 euros from 19 euros. However, the production cost of a Moderna dose is estimated to be less than 3 U.S. dollars.
Political polarization leads to an increasingly divided U.S. society
The election chaos in the United States has further intensified political polarization and continues to tear the society apart. On the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, prompted by the incitement and manipulation of extreme politicians, tens of thousands of Americans who rejected the 2020 presidential election result flooded to Washington, D.C., and a large number of demonstrators forced their way into the Capitol building and clashed with police, leaving five dead and more than 140 injured. The constitutional process to affirm the presidential election result was interrupted. A Brookings online article in May 2021 indicated that though all 50 states certified the 2020 election results, 77 percent of Republican voters still questioned the legitimacy of the elected president due to allegations of electoral fraud, a phenomenon that happened for the first time in nearly 100 years.
Changes of government did not reduce or remove the political polarization in the United States. The American people are becoming more incompatible with each other over such issues as pandemic prevention and control, race relations, abortion rights and gun control, while the political struggle between Democrats and Republicans over infrastructure construction, social welfare bills, government debt ceiling and other legislation related to the economy and people’s livelihood have become more intense, and the Congress has been nearly dysfunctional. A Republican leader even went so far as to deliver a record 8.5-hour speech in the Congress to block and delay a vote on a Democratic-proposed bill.
The Pew Research Center reported on Oct. 13, 2021 that the United States was regarded as the most politically polarized country in a survey involving 17 advanced economies, as 90 percent of the American respondents said there are at least strong conflicts between those who support different parties, and about six-in-ten thought their fellow citizens disagree not only over policies, but also over basic facts.
Confrontations between political parties restrain and harm electors’ right to vote
In order to win elections, Republicans and Democrats used legislation and gerrymander as well as other tactics to aggressively prevent voters who do not favor them from casting a ballot. In 2021, 49 states in the United States introduced more than 420 bills that would restrict voting. These bills either reduced the amount of time voters have to request or mail in a ballot, restricted the availability of drop-off locations, imposed stricter signature requirements for mail-in voting, or enacted new and stricter voter-ID requirements, which made mail-in voting and early voting harder and built barriers for the elderly, disabled, minorities and other groups to exercise their voting rights. NBC News reported on March 8, 2021 that the state of Georgia was pushing dozens of restrictive voting bills targeting African American voters. Voting rights experts and civil rights groups have argued that “the movement adds up to a national assault that would push voters of color out of the electorate.”
Gerrymander has become a tool to suppress the political influence of minority voters. The Democratic and Republican parties exploit their political clout in each state to increase the chances of winning by redrawing congressional districts, often at the expense of the rights of minorities.
CNBC reported on Aug. 13, 2021 that the practice of redrawing congressional districts often targets voters of color and the gerrymandering in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania alone gave Republicans 16 to 17 more congressional seats. Daily newspaper the Chicago Tribune reported on Sept. 3, 2021 that Illinois’ redistricting aimed to keep Democrats in control of the state legislature for at least a decade. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported on Nov. 30, 2021 that the redrawn congressional districts for Ohio give Republicans an unconstitutional partisan advantage, with which the Republicans can anticipate winning 67 percent to 80 percent of the congressional seats — even though they are only likely to obtain about 55 percent of the vote.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Dec. 8, 2021 that although Texas has seen a significant increase of the number of people of color, its new redistricting plan intentionally diminished the power of Latino and African American voters. Latino Texans make up nearly 40 percent of the population, but just seven of the 38 congressional districts are predominantly Latino. Texas is home to the largest African American population in the country, but not one of the 38 congressional districts in the state is predominantly black. In a survey of the American public on the fairness of congressional districting, only 16 percent of the surveyed thought that congressional districts would be re-drawn fairly in their states.
The international community’s confidence in U.S. democracy continues to decline
A national poll of America’s 18- to 29-year-olds released on Dec. 1, 2021 by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School showed that only 7 percent of the surveyed viewed the United States as a “healthy democracy,” and 52 percent believed that the American democracy is either “in trouble” or “failing.” Data released by the Pew Research Center in May 2021 indicated that the American public trust in the government neared a historic low since 1958, as only 2 percent of Americans said they can trust the U.S. government to do what is right “just about always,” and only 22 percent said they can trust the government to do what is right “most of the time.”
In an opinion published on June 12, 2021, The Washington Post said that in the past few years the world has been horrified by the chaos, dysfunction and insanity of American democracy, which was seen by U.S. allies as a shattered and washed-up has-been. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said what happened on the Capital Hill was “disgraceful.” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Capitol riot was “the result of lies and more lies, of divisiveness and contempt for democracy, of hatred and incitement — even from the very highest level.” A research has showed that just 14 percent of Germans and fewer than 10 percent citizens in New Zealand saw American democracy as a desirable model for other countries.
Despite the fact that the U.S. democracy is proved to be a complete failure and its global image is badly damaged, the U.S. government held the so-called “Leaders’ Summit for Democracy” in a high profile, politicizing democracy and using it as a tool to form cliques and force other countries to take sides, in an attempt to split the world. The so-called “Leaders’ Summit for Democracy” is in essence a summit that undermines global democracy, and has been widely criticized and condemned by the international community.
French political scientist Dominique Moisi said that it is always difficult to preach what one does so badly itself. USA Today, The New York Times, and other American media have also commented that American democracy is “falling apart” and the United States must first address its own failings, and that critics questioned “whether the United States could be an effective advocate for democracy amid problems at home.”
Indulging in racial discrimination exacerbates social injustice
The “virus” of deeply-entrenched racism in the United States is spreading along with the novel coronavirus, with anti-Asian hate crimes happening frequently, discrimination against Muslim communities increasing steadily, and racial persecution of indigenous populations still remaining, which has led to an even widening racial economic divide and growing racial inequality.
Asian Americans face increasingly severe discrimination and violent attacks
As a result of U.S. politicians’ manipulation over racial issue, the number of attacks targeting Asian Americans has drastically increased. According to a report published on Nov. 18, 2021 by the national coalition Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate, from March 19, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021, a total of 10,370 hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander people were reported to the organization, and a majority of the incidents took place in spaces open to the public like public streets and businesses.
Statistics released by the New York Police Department on Dec. 8, 2021 showed that anti-Asian hate crimes in the city rose by 361 percent from that of 2020. According to a report of The Washington Post on April 22, 2021, a Pew Research Center survey found that 81 percent of Asian adults said violence against the group was rising. The New York Times commented that “no vaccine for racism.” It said that Asian New Yorkers live in fear of attacks, and the psychological effects of anti-Asian violence have scarred Asian communities in the United States. U.S. broadcaster NPR reported on Oct. 22, 2021 that one in four Asian Americans feared that members of their household would be attacked or threatened because of their race or ethnicity.
On March 16, 2021, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, a white male, launched gun attacks at three Asian-owned spas in Atlanta, killing eight people. Six of them are Asian women.
The deadly shooting epitomizes an escalation of discrimination and violent attacks against Asian-Americans in the country in recent years, sparking unprecedented anger and fear. Thousands of Asians and people of other ethic groups took to the streets in massive “Stop Asian Hate” rallies and marches.
On Jan. 28, 2021, an 84-year-old man from Thailand was deliberately knocked down to the ground and then died in San Francisco.
On April 23, 2021, Ma Yaopan, a 61-year-old Chinese man, was attacked from behind and fell to the ground on a street in New York. He then was repeatedly kicked in the head, which caused facial fractures. After eight months in a coma, he eventually died in hospital.
On Nov. 17, 2021, three Chinese high school students were violently assaulted on a subway train on their way home from school in Philadelphia. “It was clear that they were picked on because they were Asian,” said a local police officer.
On April 3, 2021, a report of The New York Times documented more than 110 anti-Asian incidents in the past year with clear evidence of racial hatred. “Over the last year, in an unrelenting series of episodes with clear racial animus, people of Asian descent have been pushed, beaten, kicked, spit on and called slurs. Homes and businesses have been vandalized,” said the report. That was just a tip of the iceberg of racist attacks on Asians in the United States.
BBC reported on July 22, 2021 that being regarded as a “permanent alien” is a painful experience shared by many Asian Americans, and under the combined effect of xenophobia and anti-communism, the U.S. government has been suspicious of Chinese scientists for more than half a century.
Since the implementation of the so-called “China Initiative” in November 2018, Chinese scientists have frequently been subjected to gratuitous harassment, monitoring and crackdown by the U.S. government. Vile and absurd acts of the U.S. law enforcement authorities have been constantly exposed by the media.
The New York Times on Nov. 29, 2021 reported on its website that about 2,000 academics at institutions including Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University have signed an open letter, expressing concerns that the initiative unduly targets researchers of Chinese descent.
The Yale Daily News reported on Dec. 9, 2021 that nearly 100 Yale professors have jointly published an open letter condemning the China Initiative, saying that it is invasive and discriminatory, disproportionately targets researchers of Chinese origin, and poses threats to scientific inquiry and academic freedom. They called for an end to the initiative.
According to an investigation by MIT Technology Review, a majority of cases under the initiative have had charges dismissed or are largely inactive.
Several Asian-American civil rights groups in the United States said that investigation against Chinese under the initiative would lead to “discrimination and stigmatization.”
Xi Xiaoxing, a Chinese scientist victimized by the initiative, said the current situation of scientists of Chinese origin is similar to that of Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during World War II, almost like a return to the McCarthy era.
On July 28, 2021, Foreign Affairs published an article titled Rivalry Without Racism on its website, saying that “U.S. foreign-policy makers’ consistent overexaggeration of China’s threat to the United States” is a vital element of the recent surge in anti-Asian incidents. Demonizing China leads to the demonization of Asians in the country, and “until policymakers stop using China as a punching bag for all of the United States’ woes, Asian Americans will continue to be at risk,” said the article.
Discrimination and attacks against Muslims are on the rise
Bloomberg reported on Sept. 9, 2021 that over the past two decades since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, discrimination against Muslim Americans has surged.
The Associated Press reported on Sept. 9, 2021 that a poll found 53 percent of Americans have unfavorable views toward Islam.
In a 2021 report, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said it receives more complaints of bullying and Islamophobic rhetoric every year. A report published by the council’s California chapter on Oct. 28, 2021 showed that more than half of the students surveyed across California said they do not feel safe at school because they are bullied for their Muslim heritage. That’s the highest percentage the California chapter has documented since the survey started in 2013.
A survey released on Oct. 29, 2021 by the Othering and Belonging Institute in University of California, Berkeley, found that 67.5 percent of the Muslim participants had experienced Islamophobia-related harms and that 93.7 percent of the respondents said they had been impacted by Islamophobia emotionally or physically.
The aborigines have long suffered cruel racial persecution
The United States has a long and dark history of violating the rights of indigenous people, including Indians, who have experienced bloody massacres, brutal expulsions and cultural genocide.
An article titled “The United States Must Reckon With Its Own Genocides” published on the website of Foreign Policy on Oct. 11, 2021 noted that over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, more than 350 indigenous boarding schools were funded by the U.S. government, which aimed to culturally assimilate indigenous children by forcibly separating them from their families and communities to distant residential facilities.
Until the 1970s, hundreds of thousands of indigenous children had been uprooted from their homes and many had been abused to death in those boarding schools where their American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian identities, languages, and beliefs were forcibly suppressed.
The United States is not just morally, but also legally responsible for the crime of genocide against its own people, said the article.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navajo Nation, the Cherokee Nation, the Sioux Nation and other Native Americans have struggled with disease and poverty, which, however, has all been systematically ignored. The Navajo Nation, which stretches across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, was once among the areas with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection across the country.
The Guardian reported on April 24, 2020 that early data indicated dramatically disproportionate rates of COVID-19 infection and death of Native Americans. Among about 80 percent of U.S. state health departments that have released some racial demographic data on the impact of the coronavirus, almost half of them did not explicitly include Native Americans in their breakdowns and instead categorized them under the label “other.” “We are a small population of people because of genocide,” said Abigail Echo-Hawk, chief research officer of Seattle Indian Health Board. “If you eliminate us in the data, we don’t exist.”
Russian news network RT reported on Jan. 8, 2022 that since the 1950s, among more than 1,000 clandestine nuclear tests the U.S. government has conducted, 928 took place on lands of the Shoshone Aboriginal tribe, leaving 620,000 tons of radioactive dust. The amount of radioactive dust is nearly 48 times that of the nuclear explosion in Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. According to Ian Zabarte of the Shoshone Nation, more than 1,000 people of the Shoshone Aboriginal tribe have died directly from the nuclear explosion, and many people have consequently suffered from cancer.
The economic divide between races continues to widen
There has been a long-term and systematic economic inequality between ethnic minority groups and the white population in the United States, which is manifested in various aspects such as employment and entrepreneurship, wages, and financial loans.
USA Today reported on April 7, 2021 that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 48 percent of the Asian community’s estimated 615,000 unemployed were without work for six months-plus through the first quarter of 2021. The figure surpassed the portion of long-term unemployed among jobless workers of other ethnic groups.
Alexandra Suh, executive director of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance in Los Angeles, said that Asians in the United States have been racialized, steered toward jobs and industries like catering, laundries and domestic work, nursing and personal care, which are devalued, underpaid and impacted hardest during the pandemic.
On July 30, 2021, USA Today reported on its website that a new Gallup poll showed that 59 percent Americans do not believe racial minorities have equal job opportunities.
The Hill reported on its website on Sept. 11, 2021 that 27 percent of minority-owned small businesses remained closed, much higher than White-owned small businesses. White-owned startups are seven times more likely to obtain loans than Black-owned ones during their founding year. Throughout the pandemic, businesses owned by people of color did not receive equitable access to federal aid, being hit harder economically.
CNN reported on July 15, 2021 that around 17 percent of African American households lack basic financial services compared to 3 percent of white households.
On Dec. 15, 2021, the Los Angeles Times reported on its website that despite representing 19 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanic families hold just 2 percent of the nation’s total wealth. The median net worth of white families is more than five times greater than Hispanic families.
Structural flaws in its system have led to increasing racial inequality in the United States
On Nov. 22, 2021, UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues Fernand de Varennes said at the end of a 14-day visit to the United States that when it comes to human rights and minorities, the United States is a nation “where support for slavery led to one of the world’s most brutal civil wars, where racial segregation persisted late into the 20th century, and where indigenous peoples’ experiences have for centuries been one of dispossession, brutality and even genocide.”
With a legal system that is structurally set up to advantage and forgive those who are wealthier, while penalizing those who are poorer, particularly minorities, minorities such as African Americans and Latino Americans in particular are crushed into a generational cycle of poverty, de Varennes said.
Creating a migrant crisis against humanity
The U.S. government has often interfered in other countries’ internal affairs by wielding the club of “human rights.” However, the policy of separating migrant children from their families has severely endangered the migrants’ lives, dignity, freedom and other human rights. The migrant and refugee crisis has even been used as an instrument for American partisan attacks and political strife. Constant government policy changes and police brutality adds to the sufferings of the migrants who have already been subject to extended custody, cruel torture, forced labor and many other inhumane treatments.
Asylum seekers are subject to police brutality
In 2021, the humanitarian crisis continued to intensify as the southern border of the United States saw an increasing inflow of migrants, and border enforcement officers used increasingly violent means to expel or prevent asylum seekers from entering the country.
Data released by U.S. Border Patrol shows that in fiscal year 2021, as many as 557 migrants died on the southern border of the United States, more than double the previous fiscal year, hitting the highest number since records began in 1998. Media reports say this does not reflect the dire situation on the U.S. southern border and “the real number of migrant deaths may be greater.”
The USA Today website reported on Nov. 29, 2021 that from January to November 2021, there have been more than 7,647 publicly reported cases of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping and other violent assaults against asylum seekers.
In September 2021, more than 15,000 asylum seekers from Haiti crowded under a bridge in the Texas border town of Del Rio, sleeping in squalid tents or dirt in the sweltering heat, and surrounded by trash under dire living conditions. U.S. border patrol authorities brutalized the asylum seekers, with patrols on horseback, brandishing horsewhips and charging towards the crowds to expel them into the river. The footage of the scene immediately sparked outrage when they were released.
CNN commented that this scene is reminiscent of the dark era in American history when slave patrols were used to control black slaves. The New York Times commented that “there were the outrageous images of agents on horseback herding the migrants like cattle” and the U.S. government in general always seems to say the right things on racial issues, but too often their deeds come up short when measured against their talk.
Facing a flood of criticism, the U.S. government soon forcibly deported thousands of asylum seekers back to Haiti, most of whom had not lived there for nearly a decade since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
On Oct. 25, 2021, the UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism and the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent issued a statement, condemning the systematic and mass deportation of Haitian refugees and migrants by the United States without assessing the individuals’ situation was a violation of international law, “the mass deportations seemingly continue a history of racialized exclusion of Black Haitian migrants and refugees at U.S. ports of entry.”
Dissatisfied with the U.S. government’s inhumane handling of Haitian migrants and refugees, Daniel Footie, the U.S. special envoy for Haiti, resigned in anger after just two months in office.
Immigrant children face prolonged detention and abuse
“And while Biden has officially ended Trump’s policy of ‘family separation,’ his use of Title 42 has created family separation 2.0,” USA Today website reported on Nov. 29, 2021. It forced many minors to separate from their parents.
“There are more than 5,000 unaccompanied children in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody,” CNN reported on April 23, 2021. Many of them have been staying in custody for longer than the 72-hour limit set by federal law, it added.
“A stash of redacted documents released to the human rights group (Human Rights Watch) after six years of legal tussles uncover more than 160 cases of misconduct and abuse by leading government agencies, notably Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Border Patrol,” The Guardian reported on Oct. 11, 2021. “The papers record events between 2016 and 2021 that range from child sexual assault to enforced hunger, threats of rape and brutal detention conditions.”
Conditions in private detention facilities where migrants are held are poor
Most of the detention facilities in the United States are built and operated by private companies. In order to reduce operating costs and maximize profits, private companies generally build in accordance with the minimum standards contracted with the government, resulting in poor detention facilities and a harsh internal environment. A lack of supervision has led to chaotic management of the detention facilities and repeated violations of human rights, while detainees suffered varying degrees of physical and mental health damage.
U.S. authorities detained more than 1.7 million migrants along the Mexico border during the 2021 fiscal year that ended in September.
Among them, up to 80 percent are held in private detention facilities, including 45,000 children.
“Conditions were deteriorating inside the ’emergency intake’ shelter erected in the harsh desert of Fort Bliss (Texas),” reported the El Paso Times on June 25, 2021.
“There were nearly 5,000 children there, and some 1,500 children are still being held at the troubled site, where conditions in ‘jam-packed’ tents resembled ‘a stockyard,’ were ‘traumatizing’ and risky for the children’s health and safety, according to half a dozen current and former workers, volunteers and civil servants, as well as internal emails obtained by the El Paso Times.
Many immigrants are victims of human trafficking and forced labor in the United States
Tighter U.S. immigration policies, combined with weak supervision at home, have exacerbated human smuggling and labor trafficking targeting immigrants.
A report by AP on Dec. 10, 2021 said that for years, immigrants who smuggled into the U.S. have been forced to work long hours on farms, living in filthy, overcrowded trailers, lacking food and clean drinking water, and facing threats of violence from regulators. The workers’ IDs and travel documents were withheld, which limits their ability to seek help to escape their predicament.
A human trafficking indictment released on Nov. 22, 2021 on the website of U.S. Department of Justice documents that dozens of workers from Mexico and Central American countries have been smuggled to farms in the southern part of the state of Georgia, where they were illegally imprisoned under inhumane conditions as contract agricultural laborers, becoming victims of U.S. modern-day slavery.
After being cheated into farms with the promise of an hourly salary of 12 U.S. dollars, they were required to dig onions with their bare hands, paid 20 cents for each bucket harvested, and threatened with guns and violence to keep them in line. At least two of the workers died as a result of workplace conditions and one suffered from multiple sexual assault.
The New York Times website reported on Nov. 11, 2021 that hundreds of workers from India were lured to New Jersey, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles etc. with the promise of fair pay and good hours, but instead they had nearly no time off from work that was grueling and frequently dangerous, moving stones that weighed several tons and facing health risks from exposure to harmful dust and chemicals. The workers were confined to their living quarters and had their passports confiscated, and were also threatened with retaliation, said the report.
Exclusion of immigrants becomes more and more extreme
The immigration policy, that is wavering, inconsistent and often disregards human rights, is the main cause of border crisis and immigrants’ tragedy. The situation reflects that the policy is deeply affected by extreme xenophobia. According to an article published by Washington Post on Aug. 22 last year, with domestic debates in the U.S. over immigration increasingly driven by racialized resentment, anti-immigrant sentiment and entangled with domestic political battles, U.S. policymakers are more inclined to use techniques like force and coercion when resettling refugees. According to another article on Washington Post published on Oct. 20 last year, more than 1.7 million immigrants were detained by the U.S. Border Patrol along the southern border during the 2021 fiscal year, soaring to the highest level since 1986. The U.S. government hopes to deter illegal border crossing through tough law enforcement, which has made it more difficult for illegal immigrants to enter the country, resulting in them being forced to cross more dangerous areas. The situation in turn creates a larger humanitarian crisis.
Abuse of force and sanctions violates human rights in other countries
The U.S. has always pursued hegemonism, unilateralism and interventionism. The country frequently uses force, resulting in a large number of civilian casualties. Its abusive use of unilateral sanctions has caused humanitarian crises, challenging justice with hegemony, trampling on righteousness with self-interest, and wantonly violating human rights in other countries. It has become the biggest obstacle and destroyer of the sound development of the international human rights cause.
The website of USA Today commented on Aug. 26, 2021 that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was a total disaster. Tragedies like the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and Vietnam show that Washington has a history of ignoring basic humanitarianism for its own selfish ends.
In the chaos at Kabul airport, a U.S. C-17 transport plane forcibly took off regardless of the safety of Afghan civilians, with someone crushed to death in wheel well while the plane retracting landing gear, and others falling to their deaths from the air.
Even in the last minutes of the frantic evacuation, U.S. army’s air strikes caused heavy civilian casualties. However, the U.S. Defense Department publicly said that no U.S. military personnel would be punished for the deaths of civilians in drone strikes.
The U.S. war on terror has killed millions of people. Since the 21st century, the United States has launched a series of global foreign military operations in the name of anti-terrorism, resulting in nearly one million deaths. The website of USA Today reported on Feb. 25, 2021 that the so-called anti-terrorism war launched by the United States in the past 20 years has claimed the lives of more than 929,000 people, according to the “costs of war” study by Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs of Brown University. The 20-year U.S. military operations in Afghanistan have killed 174,000 people, including more than 30,000 civilians, and injured more than 60,000 people. The New York Times reported on Dec. 18, 2021 that investigation found that more than 50,000 U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan were reckless and poorly targeted, killing tens of thousands of civilians. The military has been concealing the number of casualties, and the actual number of civilian deaths is much higher than the military’s published figures. The most obvious case is the U.S. airstrike on the Syrian hamlet of Tokhar in 2016. The military claimed that about seven to 24 civilians “intermixed with the fighters” might have died, but the U.S. military actually attacked private houses and more than 120 innocent civilians were killed.
The ongoing war and instability have made nearly a third of the Afghan population refugees. A total of 3.5 million Afghans have been displaced by the conflict, and nearly 23 million face extreme hunger, including 3.2 million children under the age of five. When the United States withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, it immediately froze billions of dollars in foreign exchange reserves at the Afghan central Bank, causing the Afghan economy to be on the brink of collapse and making life worse for the people. According to an assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program which was released November 2021, only 5 percent of Afghans receive enough food on a daily basis. The New York Times reported that U.S. national defense contractors were the real winners in the “war on terror” and that the United States’ 20 years in Afghanistan “really built not a country but more than 500 military bases and the personal wealth of those who supplied them.” Only about 12 percent of the reconstruction aid the United States provided from 2020 to 2021 actually went to the Afghan government, with most of the rest going to American companies like Lewis Berger. The Gulf Today website of the United Arab Emirates published an article titled “How the United States Destroyed Iraq” on Dec. 19, 2021, saying that inadequate food supply and inflation have left Iraqis chronically hungry. As a result of the damage to power plants and water treatment facilities caused by U.S. bombings, the number of people suffering from diarrhoeal diseases was four times higher than pre-war level. The lack of medicine and medical equipment has left Iraq’s health system in crisis, with the poor, children, widows, the elderly and other most vulnerable groups suffering the most.
Unilateral sanctions affect negatively people of other countries. Alena Douhan, UN Special Rapporteur on Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on Human Rights, highlighted the sanctions’ devastating impact on all of Venezuela’s population, as well as on their enjoyment of human rights. The U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil sector have resulted in Iran’s inability to import sufficient medical supplies, affecting the Iranians’ right to life and health. The U.S. embargoes against Syria have severely affected the Syrian people’s enjoyment of economic, social, and cultural rights. On June 23, 2021, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution for the 29th consecutive year to call on the United States to end embargo on Cuba and start dialogue to improve bilateral ties with the country. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said the United States continues to impose the embargo and sanctions against Cuba in the face of COVID-19, causing huge losses to the Cuban economy and society, and the Cuban people are suffering from the harm caused by this extremely inhumane act. Economic embargo is a massive, flagrant and unacceptable violation of the human rights of the Cuban people and “like the virus, the blockade asphyxiates and kills, it must stop,” he added.
The Guantanamo Bay prison has been the scene of repeated torture scandals. On Feb. 23, 2021, a group of 16 UN experts said many of the remaining detainees are vulnerable and now elderly individuals whose physical and mental integrity has been compromised by unending deprivation of freedom and related physical and psychological torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The experts, including the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. CBS News reported on Oct. 29, 2021 that the United States still holds 39 people at Guantanamo Bay. Majid Khan, a former detainee there, publicly revealed for the first time the torture he suffered, including being beaten, given forced enemas, sexually assaulted, starved, and deprived of sleep. “I thought I was going to die,” he said, “I would beg them to stop.” He said he was suspended naked from a ceiling beam for long periods, doused repeatedly with ice water to keep him awake for days. He described having his head held under water to the point of near drowning.
The independent panel of experts on human rights appointed by the UN Human Rights Council issued a statement on Jan. 10, 2022, saying that two decades of practicing arbitrary detention without trial accompanied by torture or ill treatment violates international human right laws, and is a “stain on the U.S. government’s commitment to the rule of law.” Despite forceful, repeated and unequivocal condemnation of the operation of this horrific detention and prison complex, the United States continues to detain persons many of whom have never been charged with any crime, the experts said. The experts urged the U.S. to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. They also called for reparations to be made for tortured and arbitrarily detained prisoners, and for those who authorized and engaged in torture to be held accountable, as required under international law.
Photo credit: Grendelkahn on WikiMedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).