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April 21, 2013


Senator Kerry presents the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2012, on 19 April 2013.

Senator John F. Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State presented on 19 April, 2013 the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2012. The reports are issued by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, States Department, each year for each country’s human rights practices in the past year; and this has been going on since 1999. An executive summary of the Egypt Report on Human Rights for 2012 is to be found here while the full report can be found here. In his videoed address, Senator Kerry made the following remarks: “Part of the American spirit is fierce belief in dignity, potential of every person… Human rights belong to all people, and all governments have a responsibility to protect and promote those rights… The Human Rights reports reaffirm America’s commitment to advancing the basic freedoms and dignity of all people;… they send clear message that all governments have responsibility to protect universal human rights.” We believe the U.S. is the greatest beacon of freedom in our age – and that is one part of our disappointment and frustration. We also believe that “all governments have a responsibility to protect and promote those rights”; but what we are not sure of is that Kerry’s report, in the light of the current U.S. policy in Egypt, “send[s] clear message that [Egypt’s] government [] ha[s] responsibility to protect the universal human rights [of all its citizens].”

There was a time when the Copts (and other oppressed Egyptians, particularly women and the rest of religious minorities, not forgetting the liberal Muslims) waited with eagerness and hope each year for the U.S. Report on the human rights practices of the Egyptian government. Not anymore. It constitutes a monumental failure on the part of the current administration of the U.S. when not only the oppressive governments despise and regard such reports as toothless and hypocritical but those who are oppressed by such governments too. The U.S., under Obama’s foreign policy, has lost much of its credibility with its natural allies – those who believe in the fundamental freedoms and human rights that are enshrined best in the American Constitution. Perhaps, instead of Kerry repeating what everyone knows and takes it for granted, such as “all governments have a responsibility to protect and promote those [human] rights”, he should say something like this: “The U.S. has a responsibility to protect and promote the human rights in the countries that consider themselves allies to the U.S., particularly those countries that receive billions of American taxpayer’s dollars.”

Egypt receives $1.57 billion each year in military aid and various supplies. Further, the U.S. supports the Muslim Brotherhood government of Muhammad Morsi, even when the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the States Department try to deny it. The thing is that no one believes in these denials. In effect, the current administration of the U.S., under Obama, is considered to be assisting, though not directly, in the suppression and oppression of Egypt’s Christian Copts, women and liberal Muslims by the Islamists who monopolise the government in Egypt. No one this time, surprise, surprise, is impressed by the Human Rights Report on Egypt that is issued by the States Department.

The U.S. has a huge influence on Egypt politics – it is actually the strongest of the four power centres in Egypt, which include the army, Islamists and anti-Islamist opposition. It must use its influence to improve the human rights of the 15 million Christian Copts, other religious minorities, women and liberal Muslims. That has to be done through acts not by mere words that are only meant to remain ineffective words.

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