Attack on UN Attack on Justice and Human Rights
IRAQ: Attack on UN in Baghdad an attack on justice and human rights
The attack that killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, symbolises an attack on those who promote the principles of justice and human rights, stated Amnesty International's Secretary-General Irene Khan.
"The brutal murder of Sergio Vieira de Mello is yet more proof that people who serve humanity and defend human rights are easy targets in a world in which national security has trumped human security."
"Human rights, the international community and all those who promote peace and justice in Iraq are under attack."
"Only when human rights take centre stage and inform our approach to world security, will we stop these hideous crimes from occurring again," she said. "The next few days in Iraq will be critical. We can establish the genuine security needed to breach this perilous chasm or we can revert once again to the tactics which breed the unrest and discontent at the root of this violence. What further evidence do we need that eroding the principles which underpin human rights leads only to escalating insecurity and death?"
"Sergio Vieira de Mello the man has been killed, but his ideals and message remain alive," declared Ms Khan as she stated that grief has only strengthened Amnesty International's resolve for action.
Ms Khan cautioned that Mr Vieira de Mello's murder has put at stake the fundamental human rights of the Iraqi people. "Iraq must be a building site for human rights ? it must not be allowed to become a wasteland."
Paying tribute to Mr Vieira de Mello, a close friend of many years, Ms Khan said: "He was a man of action and conviction, exuding all that is positive and passionate in life."
Ms Khan called for the perpetrators of the attack to be apprehended and brought to justice but added: "His death must not become a pretext for a witch hunt nor lead to widespread abuse of human rights."
An opinion piece by Irene Khan, Secretary-General of Amnesty International, follows.
Opinion piece by Irene Khan, Secretary-General of Amnesty International: Mourning the man, honouring the message
The brutal murder of Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General in Iraq, is yet more proof that people who serve humanity and defend human rights are easy targets in a world in which national security has trumped human security.
As the UN Special Representative in Iraq, he was a symbol of the international community's commitment to the country. As UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio was the highest authority on human rights in the world. This is a moment of deep grief for all those who care for Iraq and for human rights.
I mourn Sergio as a friend and as an international leader. He was a dynamo and a risk taker with great charm. He was a man of action and conviction, exuding all that is positive and passionate in life. But his death signifies much more than the passing of a good man.
The people of Iraq who believe in justice and peace are under attack. The international community is under attack. Human rights are under attack.
Sergio's murder has put at stake the fundamental human rights of the Iraqi people. It has put at risk the ability of the international community to stand with the Iraqi people in their struggle for human rights.
Sergio was convinced that the participation of all Iraqis was the foundation stone on which Iraq must be built. He championed the cause of human rights of Iraqis to those who did not want to hear.
If Sergio's death is to have any meaning, Iraq must be a building site for human rights ? it must not be allowed to become a wasteland.
Truth and justice for the Iraqi people was Sergio's goal. The principles that he held so dear in life must not be sacrificed now. The perpetrators must be apprehended and brought to justice but his death must not become a pretext for a witch hunt nor lead to widespread abuse of human rights ? no arbitrary arrests, no arbitrary detentions, no excessive use of force.
There are those who will see this tragedy as proof that Sergio was wrong in his approach to Iraq ? respect for human rights and participation of the Iraqi people.
But Amnesty International and other human rights activists know that only by putting human rights at the heart of security can this meaningless violence be brought to an end. This is what Sergio believed. This is what he and his colleagues worked and died for.
killing of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is an
outrageous attack on human rights defenders everywhere. We
will not let it pass. Our grief only strengthens our resolve
for action. They killed the man, they can never kill his