FOUNDATION: Unit I. Why Do We Need Human Rights? 3 of 6

The Tyranny of States
 

Advocacy groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report that leaders of repressive regimes continue to kill and maim their own citizens every year — at a rate rivaling actual wars.

One careful study of state killings reports that:

  • About 170 million people have been killed by governments in the twentieth century.
  • This is more than all those killed in all international and civil wars combined.

The same study demonstrates that if all of those victims of power were alive in one country, it would be the sixth most populous state in the world.

Sample Statistics Comparing Death by One’s Own Government to Death by War

State

Years

Killed by Government
Mass Murder

Killed by War

Soviet Union

1917 – 1987

69,944,000

21,403,000

China

1949 – 1987

35,236,000

3,440,000

China

1928 – 1947

17,907,000

17,522,000

Nazi Germany

1934 – 1945

20,946,000
(in all of Europe)

5,200,000
(just in Germany)

Turkey

1900 – 1923

2,782,000

2,222,000

Cambodia

1970 – 1987

2,664,000

794,000

Viet Nam

1945 – 1987

1,813,000

2,510,000

Pakistan

1971

1,650,000

75,000

Source: Rummel, R.J., 1994. Death by Government. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM
A Personal Story

In August 2002, Human Rights Watch reported the case of Muzafar Avazov, a 35-year old Uzbek man who was arrested for practicing Islam. He died in prison. The Uzbekistan authorities returned his body to his relatives, who discovered signs of severe torture. His body was nearly 70 percent burned.

In an interview, his mother explained what had happened to Avazov in prison:

“He didn’t want to confess to praying five times a day because he didn’t consider it a crime, so they put long metal spikes in a canvas bag and beat him with it. Still he didn’t confess, so they attached electrodes to his abdomen. Still he didn’t confess, he didn’t die. So he was put into 25 liters of boiling water, in a bath. When his skin was off, they poured disinfectant on him. They removed his fingernails and broke his nose and teeth. There was nowhere on his body that was not covered with bruising and signs of torture.”

Source: Giles, Whittell,
“A powder keg that is about to explode,” The Times (UK) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7-1065098,00.html


What about sovereignty of the state in relationship to other states? Can one state tell another what to do? Are there decisions a state must make for itself?
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights News: Uzbekistan
Muslim Uzbekistan
Eurasianet.org: Conviction of 62-Year-Old Mother