Trump, European populists are a threat to human rights – Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch warns the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and the rise of populist leaders in Europe poses a “extraordinarily dangerous threat” to human rights. Their yearly report also criticises Russia, China, and Turkey’s leaders for crackdowns on dissent and Syria’s al-Assad for targeting civilians.

WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES (JANUARY 12, 2017) (REUTERS – The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and the rise of populist leaders in Europe poses a “extraordinarily dangerous threat” to human rights, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch warned on Thursday (January 12) in its annual global report.

The 687-page report reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries.

“Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign, vividly illustrated this politics of intolerance. Sometimes overtly, sometimes through code and indirection, he spoke to many Americans discontent with economic stagnation and an increasingly multi-cultural society in a way that breached basic principals of dignity and equality,” Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said. “The global rise of populists proposes an extraordinarily dangerous threat to human rights.”

Trump will take office on Jan. 20. Roth cited Trump’s election campaign and a successful campaign for Britain to leave the European Union as examples of the politics of intolerance. In France, Marine Le Pen, head of the anti-EU, anti-immigrant National Front, is campaigning for the presidency.

“We see a similar scapegoating of asylum seekers, immigrants, and especially Muslims in Europe. Leading the charge have been Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. But, there are echos of this intolerance in the Brexit campaign, the rhetoric of Viktor Orban in Hungary and Jaroslaw Kaminski in Poland, in far-right parties from Germany to Greece. Throughout the European Union, officials and politicians harken back to distant, even fanciful time of perceived national ethnic purity,” he said.

Roth was also critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan for their crackdowns on dissent, and he accuses Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of flouting the laws of war by targeting civilians in the country’s conflict.

“We forget at our peril the demagogues of yesteryear: the fascists, communists and others of their ilk who claimed privileged insight into the majority’s interests but ended up crushing the individual,” Roth said.

He said voters around the globe needed to demand politics based on truth and the values of a rights-respecting democracy.