Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Kawsachun News.
Several countries have taken to the General Assembly to warn against the suspension mechanism, which was used to oust Russia from the Human Rights Council on April 7, when a resolution was adopted in the General Assembly despite only being supported by a minority of United Nations member states.
93 of 193 members voted for the resolution titled, Suspension of the rights of membership of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council.
Of the remaining 100 members: 24 voted against the resolution; 58 abstained; and 18 countries, among them Venezuela, did not vote.
The Russian Federation was elected as a member of the Human Rights Council in 2020 with 158 votes—but it took only 93 votes to remove its membership from the Council.
Cuba was among the vocal critics of the suspension mechanism utilized for April 7’s vote, saying its use sets a precedent whereby a country can be removed with no minimum number of votes required for the approval of a suspension, without the majority of the Assembly, and in a vote where abstentions are treated differently than in other votes.
The following is an excerpt of the statement by the Permanent Representative of Cuba to the UN, Ambassador Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, in explanation of vote on the draft resolution on the suspension of the rights of the Russian Federation as a member of the Human Rights Council:
“This clause can be activated with the support of only two-thirds of those present and voting; therefore, abstentions do not count and there is not even a minimum number of votes required for the suspension to be approved.To be elected as a member of the Human Rights Council, a country needs to obtain at least the support of a majority of the UN members, i.e. at least 97 votes, in a secret ballot.Thus, the rights of a member of the Council can be suspended by the will of an even smaller number of States than those that decided to elect it and grant it those rights.
The Russian Federation, which was elected as a member of the Human Rights Council in 2020 with 158 votes, could today be suspended with a lower number. This suspension mechanism, which has no parallel in any other UN body, can easily be used selectively. Today it is Russia, but tomorrow it could be any of our countries, particularly nations of the South that do not bow to the interests of domination and firmly defend their independence.”
The representative went on to say:
“Cuba will be consistent with the reservations it made regarding the mechanism of suspension of membership, upon the adoption in 2006 of resolution 60/251 that established the Human Rights Council and resolution 65/265, of 2011, on the suspension of Libya’s rights.
The adoption of the draft resolution we are considering today will set an additional dangerous precedent, particularly for the South. It is not enough for them to impose country-specific resolutions and targeted mandates. Now they intend to take a new step towards the legitimization of selectivity and the creation of a Human Rights Council increasingly at the service of certain countries, as was once the extinct and discredited Human Rights Commission.For the reasons stated above, the Cuban delegation will vote against draft resolution A/ES-11/L.4.”
A transcription of the statement by the Permanent Representative of Cuba, read in the General Assembly, can be read here in Spanish.
Watch the full statement given by Ambassador Pedro Pedroso on our YouTube and Facebook.
A mambo and hougan—the traditional voudou priestess and priest—lead ancestral ceremonies before rallies take the streets and block the central arteries of Port-au-Prince, Cap Haïtien, and other Haitian cities and towns. After one of their members was kidnapped, leaders of the Protestant Church directed its congregation to halt all activities at noon on Wednesday and bat tenèb. Bat tenèb, literally “beat the darkness,” is a call for all sectors of Haitian society to beat pots, pans, street lights and anything else as a general alert of an emergency. A Catholic church in Petionville held a mass with political undertones against the dictatorship. When marchers from outside took refuge from the police inside the church, the Haitian National Police tear gassed the entire congregation.
Ti Germain, a well-known Lavalas activist, was hauled away by President Jovenel Moïse’s henchmen for protesting in the downtown Chanmas Plaza last week and has not been seen since. Peasants come together to form self-defense units against land grabs by the Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK, or Haitian Bald Headed Party) and their foreign backers before mobilizing in the streets themselves. With the spiritual hymn of resistance blaring from a sound truck, “A fight remains a fight. My sword is in my hand, I’m moving forward,” tens of thousands of protesters move toward police lines guarding the Delmas 96 entrance, which seals off the Haiti of the 0.01 percent from that of the 99.99 percent.
Chanting “The People Poetry Revolution!”, young writers and poets took to the streets on May 3 calling for a Haiti where youth have a future. A cultural worker, Jan Wonal, asserts, “They [the imperialists] fashion themselves the messengers of art, literature, history of art. So, for us, cultural revolution against cultural imperialism is an imperative.”
All of Haitian society is in revolt.
Who Cares About Haiti?
CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and the full gamut of mainstream media outlets have paid scant attention to this social insurrection. The headlines—if they mention Haiti at all—have focused on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Biden regime’s deportation of Haitians to the “civil unrest” of Haiti. The anti-neoliberal rebellion goes unmentioned.
According to one protestor at a mass demonstration, “If we were Hong Kong, Taiwan or in any country the U.S. lists as an enemy, there would be everyday coverage of our movement.”
The corporate press only mentions Haiti in the context of a natural disaster, a deadly disease or chaos. Millions of people in motion in a U.S. neocolony like Colombia, Chile or Haiti are not deemed newsworthy. The dominant narrative is people in the streets protesting is not a revolt, but a “political crisis.” It is not convenient for a neocolony to make noise and rise up against the empire’s handpicked lackeys and puppets.
In response to the media whiteout, Haitian intellectual Patrick Mettelus emphasized, “Our national liberation struggle is first and foremost a battle of ideas; it is an informational war. How can we counter the dominant narrative and show what is good, beautiful, encouraging and hopeful from our homeland?”
Showdown: Haiti vs. Imperialism
Ignoring months and years of widespread anger, Moïse continues to say resigning is not an option. The United Nations and Organization of American States (OAS) agree the U.S.-backed despot has another year remaining in his presidency, even though the 1987 Constitution stipulates his term ended on February 7. Former president Jean Bertrand Aristide called the UN, OAS and United States “the troika of evil” for the heavy-handed role they have played in Haiti’s historic destiny. This alone explains why Aristide was twice the victim of coup d’etats orchestrated by these neocolonial forces.
Moïse went before the United Nations General Assembly on February 24. In a 28-minute display of arrogance, the tone-deaf puppet patted himself on the back for supposedly carrying out ongoing socio-economic reforms. Adding insult to injury, Moïse now intends to brazenly overturn the 1987 constitution. This constitution was the result of consultations among hundreds of local committees representing all sectors of society一women, peasants, poor neighborhoods, etc.一coming together on the heels of the 1986 dechoukaj (uprooting) that overthrew dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Enshrined in the constitution is protection of Haitian cultural and economic sovereignty, and women’s empowerment, among other democratic rights. Today, these same sectors, representing the vast majority of Haitian society, are taking to the streets against Moïse and his dictatorial scheme to overturn the people’s constitution.
The reformist wing of the opposition has propped up a transition president, Joseph Mécène Jean-Louis, who has been in hiding since February 7, in fear of persecution of Jovenel’s National Intelligence Agency (ANI). Ruling class families such as the Vorbe/Boulos faction, which supported Jovenel (and Michel Martelly before) have now turned on Moïse and want to replace him without systemic change.
Kidnappings have reached epic proportions. The djaspora (Haitians in the diaspora) are afraid to travel back home. The Center for Human Rights Research and Analysis reported 157 kidnappings in the first three months of 2021. This lawlessness is representative of a society that has lost all confidence in Moïse. The most oppressed layers of society have been overwhelmed by the weak gourde (1 U.S. dollar equals 87 Haitian gourdes), widespread joblessness and no hopes for a dignified future. According to the UN’s World Food Program, half of Haiti’s 10.7 million people are undernourished. This bleek social reality has pushed the most castaway to resort to armed violence and taking hostages.
The fundamental demand of the popular sectors is a “sali piblik,” or a united transition away from dictatorship and neocolonialism that involves and empowers the masses of Haitian people.
While the corporate media silences Haitian voices, the Committee for Mobilization Against Dictatorship in Haiti (KOMOKODA), Leve Kanpe, the U.S./UN Out of Haiti Coalition, and other diaspora and anti-imperialist organizations across the United States and the world are standing with the historic Haitian rebellion.
“The ‘Core Group’ is a cabal of predatory countries and institutions created by the United States of America after the overthrow and kidnapping of President Aristide in 2004 to give a veneer of international legitimacy to their domination over Haiti,” KOMOKODA stated as the group protested May 3 in front of the French embassy in Port-au-Prince, “Join us as we stand in solidarity with the Haitian people, who are in the streets fighting for their liberation and their emancipation.”
Danny Shaw is a professor of Caribbean and Latin American Studies at the City University of New York. Since the most recent rebellion began on February 7, he has traveled to Haiti twice to stay with the mass anti-imperialist movement. A Senior Research Fellow at the Center on Hemispheric Affairs, Danny is fluent in Haitian Kreyol, Spanish, Portuguese and Cape Verdean Kriolu.
The arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich after his flight was diverted May 23 to the Belarusian capital of Minsk has generated more negative publicity for Belarus’ government and has raised questions about the extent of the new Cold War.
Protasevich, 26, is editor of outlawed Telegram channels that had stirred opposition to President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994. Telegram is a messaging application used on smartphones. High-profile individuals, media outlets and organizations also use it to broadcast one-way communications to their followers.
After the arrest, the Biden administration announced it would re-impose economic sanctions on state-owned companies in Belarus, and that it would add names to the list of sanctioned officials associated with “ongoing abuses of human rights and corruption.”
Dismissing Lukashenko’s claim that Protasevich’s flight contained a bomb threat, the New York Timeseditorialized that Lukashenko had “gone too far” in “hijacking a commercial airliner to kidnap an opposition journalist.” Aside from urging the U.S. response be “swift,” the Times referred to Lukashenko’s attempt as a “Jason Bourne plot.”
However, when former Bolivian President Evo Morales’ flight was forced to land in Vienna in 2013 because U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden was thought to be on board, the incident was dismissed as a mistake.
Belarus is one of the last remaining socialist countries in the world and a close ally of Russia, a country the United States has targeted for decades via the first “Cold War”—when it was the former Soviet Union—and thereafter with neoliberal policies and NATO troops at its border. This puts Belarus particularly at risk for U.S. subversion.
The U.S. government has funded opposition movements against Lukashenko, who has been caricatured as a brutal dictator and a “throwback to the regional bosses of the Soviet era,” as the Timesdepicted him.
While some aspects of the criticism are accurate, Lukashenko has a considerable degree of popular support in Belarus because he resisted Western-imposed privatization programs in the 1990s and preserved a social safety net, resulting in low poverty and inequality levels.
The opposition movement has been depicted heroically even though it was photographed during anti-regime protests in August flying the pre-revolutionary flag, implying its goal was to reverse socialist-type economic programs.
Some of its members have ties to far right-wing networks in Europe that went unreported in the media.
A May 26 profile in the Times depicted Protasevich as a precocious young man who had bravely “resisted his country’s tyranny since he was 16” when he “first witnessed what he described as the ‘disgusting brutality’ of Mr. Lukashenko’s rule.”
His first arrest came when he watched a “clapping protest”—considered an offensive gesture in Belarus—against Lukashenko, causing him to be expelled from high school and his mother to resign as an army academy teacher.
After being forced to abandon his university studies, Protasevich became an opposition journalist in Poland, helped establish a Telegram channel to resist Lukashenko and joined forces with opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in Lithuania.
Left out of the fawning portrait was Belarusian courts had determined the Telegram channels he had worked for, Belamova and Nexta, were “extremist” and first set up by people such as Igor Losik, who had served as consultants with the U.S. propaganda organ, Radio Free Europe.
Protasevich furthermore enlisted in a militia that fought alongside the neo-Nazi Azov battalion in eastern Ukraine against Russian backed separatists, was wounded in battle and reportedly worked for the Azov battalion’s press service.
Protasevich’s selfie in an explicitly neo-Nazi brand Sva Stone. It’s extremely unlikely that one can wear these T-shirts without being “in”. pic.twitter.com/brpsUgEpPw
Photographed in a T-shirt featuring far-right iconography, Protasevich is even suspected of being the young man featured with an assault rifle and military uniform on the front of Azov’s propaganda magazine, which is emblazoned with a large neo-Nazi symbol.
Media’s Anti-Russia Bias
Fitting a century-long pattern of Russophobia, the Times has led the charge for a new Cold War against Russia and has supported regime change in Belarus.
When protests broke out over a contested election last summer, the Times erroneously predicted Lukashenko’s downfall many times, and in April chose not to report on a coup as well as an assassination plot led by an opposition politician holding a U.S. passport.
The biased coverage of Belarus has extended to alternative media like Counterpunch.
On May 31, it ran an article by an anti-Lukashenko playwright, Andrei Kureichik, titled “The Taking of Roman Protasevich,” which used hyperbolic language in characterizing Belarus as a “terrorist and criminal state.” In another exaggeration, Kureichik claimed Lukashenko had established “open air concentration camps” by “employing military weapons and special equipment against peaceful civilians without restrictions or liability.”
No mention was made of Protasevich’s ties to the Azov battalion in the article, nor about foreign backing of the anti-Lukashenko movement. The latter was confirmed by Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus, who tricked Nina Ognianova, a National Endowment for Democracy (NED) senior European program officer, into admitting the NED had trained and funded the leaders of the protest movement that was working to overthrow Lukashenko.
After writing a book about U.S. bombardiers in World War II titled, Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team, famed author John Steinbeck wrote: “We were all part of the war effort… correspondents were not liars, but it is in the things not mentioned that the untruth lies.”
These words apply very well to corporate media outlets—and sometimes even to the alternative press—when it comes to their coverage of Belarus, where it is in the things not mentioned that the untruth lies.
Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine and author of four books on U.S. foreign policy including, Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019) and The Russians Are Coming, Again (Monthly Review Press, 2018), with John Marciano.
Armenia, a landlocked Caucasus nation-state of around 3 million people appears in a hopeless position. Following defeat in the 44-day war against Azerbaijan last autumn, the country remains stuck in the Russian geopolitical orbit, and has been forced to make painful concessions to its arch enemy, Azerbaijan.
On June 20, Armenia held parliamentary elections that led to the victory of the Civil Contract Party, whose leader is Acting Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Although he is seen by many Armenians as a traitor, given he failed to preserve Armenian control over Nagorno-Karabakh—a mountainous territory in Azerbaijan that ethnic Armenians have controlled since 1994—Pashinyan’s party won 54 percent of the vote. The opposition Armenia Alliance, led by former President Robert Kocharyan, garnered a distant second with 21 percent. Why did Armenians vote for the person who signed the de facto capitulation to Azerbaijan on November 10?
Choosing Between Traitor and Old Guard
From the perspective of an average Armenian voter, the choice they had was either “traitor” Pashinyan, who came to power in 2018 following the so-called “Velvet Revolution,” or Kocharyan, who represents the overthrown corrupted old guard.
According to Armenian analyst David Arutyunov, the opposition did not offer any practical alternative for resolving the issues of demarcation, a burning question in the country. Indeed, in May, Armenian authorities accused Azerbaijan’s army of advancing more than 3 kilometres (2 miles) into southern Armenia. They claimed the Azeri state was trying to lay siege on Lake Sev Lich (Black Lake), shared by the two countries. In other words, Armenia had lost control not only over most of Nagorno-Karabakh, but also over certain parts of the Republic of Armenia.
As Arutyunov points out, Azerbaijan likely will keep pressuring Armenia until the end in order to get as many concessions as possible in the process of resolving the border demarcation.
Some Armenian officials have announced Russian border guards will be deployed to those areas where Azerbaijani units allegedly advanced. At this point, however, it is highly uncertain how the border will be protected after demarcation—will the Russian troops permanently stay there, or will Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to guard borders on their own? As a result of the 44-day war, some 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops were deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh to protect the region’s capital, Stepanakert, and the surrounding area, which is the only portion of the territory that is still de facto under Armenian control. From the Armenian perspective, Russian peacekeepers are seen as the only guardian of the remaining Armenian population in the region. Moreover, Armenia has become so dependent on Moscow, it expects the Kremlin to protect not just ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, but the borders of the Republic of Armenia, too.
Russia, on the other hand, is obligated to defend Armenia. The Caucasus country is a member of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is often described as a Russian version of NATO, having come into being after the former Soviet Union came apart. Other CSTO members include Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. However, during the war, Russia refused to provide help to its nominal ally, Armenia. According to Key Article 4 of the Treaty, “If one of the State Parties is subjected to aggression by any state or group of states, this will be considered aggression against all States Parties to this Treaty.” The problem for Armenia is that in 2020, Azerbaijan did not attack Armenia itself, but Armenian-backed forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. That is why Moscow hesitated to directly intervene. But in May 2021, following the border incidents, Pashinyan wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking for military assistance. To this day, however, no such aid has been provided.
Meanwhile, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have signed a protocol of alliance in a bid to further strengthen their ties. “In the event of a third state’s threat to the independence or territorial integrity of any of the parties, the parties will provide necessary assistance to each other,” the protocol stipulates.
Even before the two countries became formal allies, Turkey supplied Azerbaijan with modern, sophisticated weapons, including the Turkish-made Bayraktar drones that proved to be a game changer in the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Russia promises to arm Armenia, although it remains unclear what prevented the Kremlin from selling modern weapons to its ally before the war broke out. Over the years, Russia aimed to preserve good relations with both Azerbaijan and Armenia and at the same time to keep playing the role of the regional arbiter. However, indications suggest the Kremlin prioritized lucrative business and energy ties with Azerbaijan than its nominal alliance with Armenia.
Although the Armenian leadership may have felt because of Moscow’s unwillingness, it hardly has a choice but to keep playing the Russian card. The country depends on Russia economically, politically and militarily.
According to the Moscow-brokered peace deal, signed in November between Pashinyan and Aliyev, Azerbaijan will be able to cross to its exclave Nakhchivan—bordering Armenia, Turkey and Iran—through Armenian territory, and the Russian Federal Security Service will secure roads. Such an action could undermine remnants of Armenia’s sovereignty in the south, primarily in the area bordering Iran.
Azerbaijan, on the other hand, has insisted on the construction of the Nakhchivan corridor, also known as Zangezur Corridor, which would effectively connect the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with mainland Azerbaijan. Given that Azerbaijan, as the clear victor, has an upper hand to the defeated Armenia, sooner or later Armenia will have to agree to the Azeri terms and conditions regarding this transregional project. Thus, it is not surprising that Pashinyan, celebrating his election victory, said, “All agreements will be fulfilled.” His room for political maneuvers vis-à-vis Azerbaijan is rather limited.
In the short term—at least until 2025, when the 5-year mandate of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh expires—Russia will remain the dominant regional actor. In the mid and long term, Turkey is expected to improve its positions in the Caucasus, and possibly build a military base not far from the Russian border. Azerbaijan already benefited from its military ties with Turkey, while Armenia proved to be collateral damage in a wider geopolitical game played by Russia and Turkey.
And the game is far from over.
Nikola Mikovic is a Serbia-based contributor to CGTN, Global Comment, Byline Times, Informed Comment, and World Geostrategic Insights, among other publications. He is a geopolitical analyst for KJ Reports and Global Wonks.