Human Rights Watch Comments on Margaret Thatcher’s Legacy

Just kidding. According to its website, the death of Margaret Thatcher a few weeks ago has not prompted HRW to saying anything at all about her.

In contrast, within hours (yes, hours) of the death of Hugo Chavez, HRW rushed out a lengthy statement that smeared his legacy.

John Pilger recently pointed out some facts about Thatcher that a sincere human rights group might have mentioned after her death:

“When she came to power in 1979, Thatcher demanded a total ban on exports of milk to Vietnam. The American invasion had left a third of Vietnamese children malnourished…”

“In 1980, she demanded that the defunct Pol Pot regime – the killers of 1.7 million people – retain its ‘right’ to represent their victims at the UN. Her policy was vengeance on Cambodia's liberator, Vietnam…”

“In 1983, Thatcher sent the SAS to train the ‘coalition’ [dominated by Pol Pot ‘s Khmer Roughe] in its own distinctive brand of terrorism…”

“In his arms-to-Iraq enquiry, Lord Richard Scott heard evidence that an entire tier of the Thatcher government, from senior civil servants to ministers, had lied and broken the law in selling weapons to Saddam Hussein…”

The UK media watchdog, Media Lens, pointed out

“Suharto's US-armed invasion of East Timor in December 1975, killed 200,000 people out of a total of 700,000 – one of the worst genocides in history by proportion of population killed.

Britain granted Suharto hundreds of millions of pounds of loans to buy weapons before, during and after Thatcher's time as prime minister. On her watch, hundreds of fighter-bombers, tanks, armoured cars and numerous other weapons were delivered and used to kill civilians….”

Media Lens also suggested a way to measure the state of press freedom  – something HRW has been very eager to comment about in Ecuador and Venezuela:

”…according to Lexis, over the past month, there have been 461 UK national newspaper articles mentioning the word 'Thatcher'. There have been 29 articles mentioning 'Thatcher' and 'Saddam'. None of these has mentioned that Thatcher armed and financed the Iraqi dictator. Anyone interested in gauging the true extent of freedom of speech in the corporate press need look no further.”

Similarly, anyone interested in gauging the extent to which the human rights industry is beholden to elites in rich countries need only compare how Human Rights Watch responded to the deaths of Hugo Chavez and Margaret Thatcher.

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