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Friday, August 31, 2007

Human Rights - Experimenting On People

It never fails to disgust me, though it has long since ceased to surprise me, that some of the most vocal critics of human rights violations are themselves guilty of human rights violations. Witness the U.S. taking China to task, for example, over documented violations of human rights by the Chinese government. While remaining conspicuously silent about the documented violations of human rights involved in the Trail of Tears, when U.S. soldiers deliberately gave the indigenous populace smallpox-infected blankets that wiped out large numbers of them, thus assuring that they could be driven from their homelands which would later come to house such eminent displays of human genius, architectural and otherwise, as the megamalls and suburbs of this groaning land. But I digress.

I sometimes think white people have this vision of themselves (and each other) as noble, restrained, generous, kind, civilized and caring people adrift in a sea of brown-black-and-yellowness chiefly distinguished by barbaric behaviours and a failure to appreciate the tremendously appreciationworthy qualities of whites. Ignoring completely, of course, the fact that what they possess of civilization - the alphabet, the numeric system, astronomy, mathematics, plumbing - all came to them from that very selfsame sea of yellow-brown-black barbarians, who invented these things while white people were still running around dying themselves blue, wrapping themselves in skins for warmth, and plotting which of their neighbours to loot or pillage next.

Why, you might ask, am I waxing wroth so umbrageously. Because I read the newspapers, of course. Which affords me the chance to stumble across something like this article in the Guardian, which describes how the British tested mustard gas on Indian soldiers, undoubtedly without their consent, possibly even without their knowledge.
The Guardian understands that the British military did not check up on the Indian soldiers after the experiments to see if they developed any illnesses.


Many suffered severe burns on their skin, including their genitals, leaving them in pain for days and even weeks.


The experiments took place over more than 10 years before and during world war two in a military installation at Rawalpindi, now in Pakistan. They were conducted by scientists from the Porton Down chemical warfare establishment in Wiltshire who had been posted to the sub-continent to develop poison gases to use against the Japanese.
I wonder how they held the Nuremberg trials, given the state of their own collective conscience.

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