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European parliamentarians should apologise first for their past human rights record

KHMER TIMES March 22, 2021

PHNOM PENH – European parliamentarians should be shameful of their colonial past, and have humility in preaching to Cambodia and other countries in Asia and Africa about human rights, instead of having their parliamentarians talking non-stop on putting sanctions on former colonies on human rights. European parliamentarians should apologise first, and compensate  before they adopt the high moral grounds to talk about human rights in former colonies.

Their parliamentarians should be morally responsible in discussing on how European colonists should compensate their former colonies for the formers’ past atrocities, bombing and killing of peoples, suppression to the rights to self-determination, rights to development, rights to land, rights of dissent, rights to decent livelihood, their sub-human treatment against colonial subjects, enslavement, land grab, looting of cultural and natural assets.

Those European parliamentarians don’t have the least moral ground to stand high to treat other Asian and African countries as sub-nations if they don’t redeem their past deeds and shameless human rights records.

Their supremacist and exceptionalism is deplorable, dishonest, and shameless.

When China  reaches out to Africa, the Europeans said that the Chinese is looting natural resources and destroying the environment. But what had the Europeans done so far in Africa other than making the whole continent as a “hopeless continent” after centuries of colonization?

Even after colonization, how much has their aid contributed to the development and poverty reduction in Africa? According to a book entitled “The China Model and Global Political Economy”, as Africa’s healthy economic growth for the past decade has taken place with increased Chinese activities in the continent, it is hard to deny that the Chinese approach has fared better than that of the Western powers that provide aid and advice to African countries. Sub-Saharan Africa’s real GDP annual growth rate was 2.8 percent in 1992-2001, rose to between 5 to 7.4 percent in 2002-8. In fact, with Africa’s brighter economic prospects, there are now media stories of thousands of Portuguese returning to Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony in Africa, to seek economic opportunities.

Cambodia’s case is not much different from Africa. Not that Cambodia is favouring China but the fact speaks for itself. And Cambodia is subject to attack by those European former colonists as being China’s colony. Maybe, they can only see and judge other countries’ actions from the lens of imperial colonists.

Their media accuses China of taking Cambodian lands, Cambodian jobs, ports, electricity, sovereignty and independence. But even if economically China does benefit, Cambodia also benefits in terms of development and poverty reduction.

Cambodian law can punish and expel Chinese citizens when the latter’s commit crimes. There is no extrajudicial privilege like what the European enjoyed as colonists. Colonies cannot touch the colonists no matter how savage the latters’ treatment to the local people. One Cambodian village called Krang Leav in Kampong Chnnang province was re-named as “Savage Village” in 1925 for killing a Frenchman that was extremely savage in his treatment against the Khmer people in the whole village.

European countries accuse China for land occupation in Cambodia, but it is totally different from “land occupation” by the European colonists in the Asia, Africa and America, because the Chinese pay their rents, they pay tax, and they bring in roads, railways, hospitals, jobs, ports, economic growth, development and poverty reduction in a matter of decades. While the European colonies made people even poorer, and killed people who were resisting their suppression and they land-grabbed the whole countries or continents for centuries.

Many former colonies of Europe are still poor and inherited conflictual and dividing societies as a structural imposition of the system that supported the “divide-and-rule” mantra from their former colonists. How Myanmar continues to suffer in conflicts and cannot find any solutions to the structural ethnical conflicts like Rohingya crisis is the real example of legacies from the European colonists.

In old times, European colonists took everything from host countries; taxes, workforce or slaves, cultural and natural assets, anything that ships could bring back to Europe. People were enslaved; human rights degradation and work decency was not a subject for discussion. European colonists even took other countries’ citizens to fight and die for their own wars for the sake of expansion of their empires.

And their moral justification was that they “civilized” their colonies, and protected their colonies from invasion and loss of territories.

Even if they deserved credit for protecting their subjects’ territories, their justification should stop at their mercenary mandate by receiving equivalent financial payment, and not the centuries-long subjugation. The sacrifice both in terms of resources depletion, exploitation, and human slavery does not justify their moral obligation of “mission of civilization” because they themselves were savage in how they treated their colonial subjects. That was not a form of human civilization at all.

In the new forms of colonies, these European colonists dictate their market terms. They benefit from low wages and “sweat shops” from poor countries that don’t have other choices but to take their terms and conditions for economic survival.

Still, those Europeans have their moral justification, which is that they are in fact doing charity, and protecting human rights and democracy against poor countries that don’t listen to them. Those poor countries can take it or leave it.

The fact is their importers benefit the most from the value chain while the poor countries only benefit from minimum wage. Their consumers, corporations, interest groups benefit the most from their application of trade protectionism and exploitation system through the application of human rights standards that poor countries, by default, would never have the chance for perfection in their whole life because they are poor, and thus politically and economically incapable of improving the situation for the better enjoyment or full enjoyment of all aspects of human rights like the rich European countries do.

They still have their justification for their noble deeds in protecting human rights even if the fact on the ground is that they are killing people’s livelihood especially during the great impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Europe should be shameful for their human rights preaching, and their parliamentarians should discuss how much they should compensate their former colonies for their human rights atrocities, bombing and killing of peoples, land grab, natural resources degradation, cultural resources looting, people slavery, and trafficking in persons.

European parliamentarians should have humility in preaching human rights considering their past human right records. European parliamentarians should have some humility and not pride in their European ancestors’ deeds. European parliamentarians owe an apology for their  shameless inheritance of everlasting mindset of mastership.

Cambodia News Home

SOURCE – KHMER TIMES, CAMBODIA  March 22, 2021

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