Address Racism against Asian Americans, Stop Scapegoating and Double Standards
The United Nations Association of China (UNA-China) hosted an online side-event “Racism against Asian American: Scapegoating and Double Standards” on June 28, 2021, on the sideline of the 47th session of the Human Rights Council. The participants shared the view that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, ethnic hatred against Asians and people of Asian descent has been continuously fueled in the United States. The participants analyzed the root causes of this phenomenon and racism that exists in the US in a comprehensive, systematic and continuous manner. They believe that the US government, United Nations bodies, international community and civil society should take concrete actions to address racism against Asian Americans in the US and put forward specific suggestions. The event reflected the following views:
I. Reasons and root causes of the deeply entrenched racism against Asian Americans in the US include:
· Lack of political will.
The US government has consistently disregarded its serious human rights problems including racism, racial discrimination, and hate crime, and does not provide the political leadership to raise awareness of the severity of the problem, deal with the root causes, and take action to end impunity and provide redress for the victims. Irresponsible and discriminatory rhetoric by US politicians and officials directly fuel hate crime and hate speech.
· Social cleavage.
Longstanding white supremacism, social injustice, racial divide, and lack of equal opportunity in employment, education, health and other social protection, have all contributed to the rise of the scourge.
· Governance deficit.
US democracy is about protecting white supremacy, not to protect the human rights of all peoples. The US has never put the promotion and protection of all human rights of all peoples, regardless of race, color and other background, as the overarching principle of its governance, thus causing widening gap between the rich and the poor, persistent and rising discrimination against descents of Asians, Africans, Muslims, Latinos and Native Americans. Middle class and other disadvantaged people are also disproportionately affected by the COVID-19.
· Institutional and systemic defects or deficiency.
The US is in lack of proper laws, standards, procedures and guidance on eliminating racism. There is no nation-wide standard for what constitutes a hate crime, and reporting by local police remains voluntary.
· Abuse of freedom of speech.
The right to freedom of speech is abused and quite often became the pretext for the US to reject the punishment of hate speech. This shows there is no clear difference of freedom of speech and hate speech, and hate speech is often incited in the name of freedom of speech.
· Disregard of international laws.
The US makes no response to calls from international community. The US government has adopted reservations barring citizens from bringing claims under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination treaty to courts to enforce its duties and rejecting the punishment of hate speech. Accordingly, since ratification the US government has not enacted legislation to bring the country in line with these provisions.
To eliminate racism, both symptoms and root causes must be addressed. The US government, the UN bodies and the international community all have their roles to play.
They requested the US government to:
· Shoulder responsibilities on promoting genuine equality among all races and ethnicities, through policies and programs. Adopt measures to address the root causes of racism, and provide equal opportunities to all races in health, employment, etc. Bridge social divisions and political polarization. Promote tolerance and mutual understanding among different groups.
· Reject all expressions of racist hate speech and discriminatory rhetoric, in particular by officials and public figures, and stop disseminating misrepresented and misguiding information and politicizing COVID-19 to avert criticism of their own misleading anti pandemic policies, and stop using racist slurs and making irresponsible remarks to make other countries scapegoat of their own failed policies and practices.
· Reform its legal system to respond to the serious violations of human rights of the minorities. Define the difference between freedom of speech and hate speech. Provide the legal basis for investigating hate speech and hate crime, hold the perpetrators accountable, end impunity, and provide remedies for victims of discrimination.
· Fulfill its commitment under the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and respond in action to the recommendations made by many countries during its Universal Periodic Review regarding the gross violations of human rights of racial minorities in the US.
· Stop using the pandemic as a political tool, prohibit any acts of fabricating and spreading disinformation about the origin of the virus, and stop using stigmatization tactics and unilateral coercive measures against other countries for the purposes of dominating the world and maintaining its hegemony. Stop stockpiling vaccines, practicing double standards on human rights and inciting confrontation and global divide and fracture.
· Speed up the implementation of SDGs. Guarantee people’s right to life, right to development as well as their economic, social and cultural rights so as to address the root causes of inequality and racial confrontation, and promote dialogue and understanding among different civilizations.
They made the following recommendations to the UN bodies:
· The Human Rights Council should establish an independent international commission of inquiry. The commission of inquiry should examine the facts and circumstances relating to the systemic racism, violations of international human rights laws and abuses against Asians and Asian descents in the US, investigate and report US responses to hate speech and hate crime and other forms of racism.
· The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance should pay a fact-finding visit to the US, assist in identifying the root causes and make recommendations to the US government, and submit reports to the Human Rights Council.
· The UPR and other human rights mechanisms, including special procedures, working groups, forums, advisory committees and treaty bodies, within their mandates, should pay attention to the deeply entrenched and continuous scourge of racism in the US and other countries with a racist history, including Canada and Australia, and request those countries to report their actions taken in connection with the problems in their regular reports to the Human Rights Council.
· The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination should activate “Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure” to inquire the gross and persistent racial discrimination and racial violence against Asian-Americans in the US.
· The Human Rights Council should discuss the matter under relevant agenda items of its regular session and take actions to prevent the escalation of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the US.
As for the international community, they proposed that:
· The US and other countries which have a history of genocide and racism against indigenous people and other minorities, including Canada and Australia, should promote culture of peace and respect, and put laws and policies in practice to oppose white supremacism of all kinds, including on social media.
· All countries should ban hate speech, racial slurs, and other racist narratives and propagandas, including on internet. Make it possible to bring legal punishment to hate speech and hate crime.
· All countries should cultivate culture of tolerance, racial equality and genuine respect of all human rights of all peoples.
· All countries should make it possible to prosecute all kinds of racial violence, including that towards Asians, Africans, Latinos, and Indigenous people. Provide legal protection and remedy to the victims.
· Support a science-based research of origin of the virus. Support the WHO to play a leading role in an objective matter in pandemic response. Jointly oppose stigmatization and politicization of public health issue.
They advised the civil society of all countries to:
· Play an active role in educating young people to respect cultural diversity. Disapprove stigmatization and politicization of human rights and public health and other issues.
· Monitor cases of racism and oppose double standards and politicization of human rights issues.