Statement by Ambassador Rice on the Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Southern Kordofan
The United States welcomes the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the increasingly dire situation in Southern Kordofan. We are deeply disturbed by the reports of extrajudicial killings, attacks on civilians, mass graves, arbitrary detentions, abductions, house to house searches, forced displacements, and other clear violations of humanitarian law. We strongly support Commissioner Pillay’s recommendations, including immediate, unhindered access for humanitarian assistance and ongoing human rights monitoring as well as for an independent inquiry to hold perpetrators of violence to account. We urge all members of the UN Security Council to join us in pressing for implementation of these recommendations.
The United States is deeply concerned about alarming and credible allegations of violence committed by Sudan Armed Forces and aligned groups in Southern Kordofan. These include acts of extreme cruelty and abuse against civilians that, if true, may constitute crimes against humanity – extra-judicial killings, house-to-house searches, abductions, arbitrary arrests, and violence motivated by differences of religion or ethnicity.
The United States strongly supports an investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights into these allegations and calls on all parties to provide unfettered access and cooperation to any investigation. We condemn in the strongest terms any deliberate targeting of civilians, including UN humanitarian personnel. The United States will not tolerate impunity for such acts of violence. We have called repeatedly for a cessation of hostilities in South Kordorfan, and we have called on the Government of Sudan to stop aerial bombardments, which continue to hit civilians. We are particularly disturbed by the decision of the Government of Sudan not to honor the June 29 agreement on political and security arrangements in the region. These developments are deeply regrettable.
It is past time for an end to the violence. Today, we call upon the Government of Sudan to agree to a robust UN presence in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile that will assist the parties as they agree to future political and security agreements.
We condemn the killing of Iranian activist Haleh Sahabi in the strongest possible terms. Eyewitness and reliable accounts of Haleh Sahabi’s death yesterday at her father’s funeral in Iran are making it clear that Ms. Sahabi died as a result of reprehensible actions taken by Iranian security forces. Iranian government explanations have so far been unsatisfactory, and it shut down a commemoration of her death today, with additional reports that Iranian security forces beat members of Women for Peace and the Mourning Mothers to prevent participation in her memorial.
It is unfathomable that a government would be so terrified of its citizens that it would order the use of force against a daughter mourning at her father’s funeral. Indeed, this is a government that regularly brutalizes its citizens, imprisoning them under questionable charges, torturing them, cutting them off from the rest of the world, and denying their fundamental human rights. It is for this reason that the international community voted overwhelmingly to establish a Special Rapporteur for Iran at the Human Rights Council. We will recommend that the Rapporteur fully investigate this incident at the earliest possible opportunity.
We again express our condolences to the Sahabi family, friends, and supporters all over the world.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The story of America’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community is the story of our fathers and sons, our mothers and daughters, and our friends and neighbors who continue the task of making our country a more perfect Union. It is a story about the struggle to realize the great American promise that all people can live with dignity and fairness under the law. Each June, we commemorate the courageous individuals who have fought to achieve this promise for LGBT Americans, and we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Since taking office, my Administration has made significant progress towards achieving equality for LGBT Americans. Last December, I was proud to sign the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. With this repeal, gay and lesbian Americans will be able to serve openly in our Armed Forces for the first time in our Nation’s history. Our national security will be strengthened and the heroic contributions these Americans make to our military, and have made throughout our history, will be fully recognized.
My Administration has also taken steps to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans in Federal housing programs and to give LGBT Americans the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital. We have made clear through executive branch nondiscrimination policies that discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the Federal workplace will not be tolerated. I have continued to nominate and appoint highly qualified, openly LGBT individuals to executive branch and judicial positions. Because we recognize that LGBT rights are human rights, my Administration stands with advocates of equality around the world in leading the fight against pernicious laws targeting LGBT persons and malicious attempts to exclude LGBT organizations from full participation in the international system. We led a global campaign to ensure “sexual orientation” was included in the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial execution — the only United Nations resolution that specifically mentions LGBT people — to send the unequivocal message that no matter where it occurs, state-sanctioned killing of gays and lesbians is indefensible. No one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love, and my Administration has mobilized unprecedented public commitments from countries around the world to join in the fight against hate and homophobia.
At home, we are working to address and eliminate violence against LGBT individuals through our enforcement and implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. We are also working to reduce the threat of bullying against young people, including LGBT youth. My Administration is actively engaged with educators and community leaders across America to reduce violence and discrimination in schools. To help dispel the myth that bullying is a harmless or inevitable part of growing up, the First Lady and I hosted the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March. Many senior Administration officials have also joined me in reaching out to LGBT youth who have been bullied by recording “It Gets Better” video messages to assure them they are not alone.
This month also marks the 30th anniversary of the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has had a profound impact on the LGBT community. Though we have made strides in combating this devastating disease, more work remains to be done, and I am committed to expanding access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Last year, I announced the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. This strategy focuses on combinations of evidence-based approaches to decrease new HIV infections in high risk communities, improve care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and reduce health disparities. My Administration also increased domestic HIV/AIDS funding to support the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HIV prevention, and to invest in HIV/AIDS-related research. However, government cannot take on this disease alone. This landmark anniversary is an opportunity for the LGBT community and allies to recommit to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and continuing the fight against this deadly pandemic.
Every generation of Americans has brought our Nation closer to fulfilling its promise of equality. While progress has taken time, our achievements in advancing the rights of LGBT Americans remind us that history is on our side, and that the American people will never stop striving toward liberty and justice for all.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2011 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
The United States strongly condemns the abduction and killing of reporter Syed Saleem Shehzad. His work reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan’s stability. We support the Pakistani government’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
We remain committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan as they work to bring peace and stability to the country.
Statement by the Press Secretary on Adoption of U.S. Sponsored Amendment to Ensure Gays and Lesbians Are Covered By UN Resolution on Extrajudicial Execution
President Obama applauds those countries that supported the amendment offered by the United States to ensure that “sexual orientation” remains covered by the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary execution. Killing people because of their sexual orientation cannot be rationalized by diverse religious values or varying regional perspectives. Killing people because they are gay is not culturally defensible – it is criminal.
While today’s adoption of an inclusive resolution is important, so too are the conversations that have now begun in capitals around the world about inclusion, equality, and discrimination. Protecting gays and lesbians from state-sponsored discrimination is not a special right, it is a human right. Today’s vote in the United Nations marks an important moment in the struggle for civil and human rights. The time has come for all nations to redouble our efforts to end discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Ambassador Brownfield met today with Father Mauricio Garcia Duran of the Center for Investigation and Popular Education (CINEP) to discuss CINEP’s findings on “false positive” extrajudicial executions, threats against human rights defenders, and social intolerance.
Ambassador Brownfield congratulated Father Garcia for CINEP’s work tracking human rights violations in Colombia. The Ambassador emphasized that “human rights organizations like CINEP play an undeniable and important role in strengthening a free and democratic society such as Colombia’s.” The Ambassador noted that while the United States may not always come to the same conclusions as CINEP, we respect their courageous work to protect Colombia’s vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. “Every society must have those individuals and NGOs who speak out against injustice,” declared the Ambassador, “the United States applauds CINEP’s continued efforts to make a better future for Colombia.”
CINEP was founded in 1972 by the Society of Jesus with the goal of creating a more humane and equal society, the NGO promotes integrated and sustainable human development.
Bogotá D.C., 16 de abril de 2010