The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded -- sometimes violently -- by local authorities.
Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. "special rapporteur" for the protection of free expression, told HuffPost in an interview that the crackdowns against Occupy protesters appear to be violating their human and constitutional rights.
"I believe in city ordinances and I believe in maintaining urban order," he said Thursday. "But on the other hand I also believe that the state -- in this case the federal state -- has an obligation to protect and promote human rights."
"If I were going to pit a city ordinance against human rights, I would always take human rights," he continued.
La Rue, a longtime Guatemalan human rights activist who has held his U.N. post for three years, said it's clear to him that the protesters have a right to occupy public spaces "as long as that doesn't severely affect the rights of others."
In moments of crisis, governments often default to a forceful response instead of a dialogue, he said -- but that's a mistake."Citizens have the right to dissent with the authorities, and there's no need to use public force to silence that dissension," he said....
La Rue said he sees parallels between Occupy and the Arab Spring pro-democracy protests. In both cases, for instance, "you have high level of education for young people, but no opportunities."
La Rue said he is in the process of writing what he called "an official communication" to the U.S. government "to ask what exactly is the position of the federal government in regards to understanding the human rights and constitutional rights vis-a-vis the use of local police and local authorities to disband peaceful demonstrations."
Although the letter will not carry any legal authority, it reflects how the violent suppression of dissent threatens to damage the U.S.'s international reputation.
"I think it's a dangerous spot in the sense of a precedent," La Rue said, expressing concern that the United States risks losing its credibility as a model democracy, particularly if the excessive use of force against peaceful protests continue.Read the rest at The Huffington Post
U.N. Envoy: U.S. Isn't Protecting Occupy Protesters' Rights
by Dan Froomkin
What is President Obama thinking of turning a blind eye to this and then lecturing other countries? It's the height of hypocrisy.