Washington Abuses Indian Diplomat
by Stephen Lendman
India’s New York consular official was targeted. Devyani Khobragade is Deputy Consul General. On December 12, US marshals abused her.
They arrested, handcuffed, detained, and strip-searched her multiple times. India’s government had to post a $250,000 bond for her release.
She’s charged with visa fraud and failing to pay her Indian maid proper wages. True or false doesn’t justify treating her abusively.
Doing so compromised her diplomatic immunity. Her lawyer, Daniel Arshack, said she’ll plead not guilty.
Her diplomatic status protects her from prosecution, he said. Regardless of pending charges, she deserved respect.
Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, she should have enjoyed full diplomatic immunity. Host countries are obligated to provide it.
It grants foreign officials free movement and travel. It requires treating them respectfully. All appropriate steps must be taken. Article 29 states:
“The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.”
If nations want their diplomats treated lawfully, they’re obligated to treat foreign officials the same way. International law mandates it.
Washington spurns it with impunity. It violates core constitutional and US statute law provisions. It operates extrajudicially. It does so unapologetically. It does so hypocritically.
CIA agent Raymond Davis operated covertly in Pakistan. In January 2011, he was arrested and detained. He shot and killed two men. It was at a crowded Lahore traffic stop.
Pakistan charged him with murder and possession of a concealed, unlicensed gun. Washington lied claiming it was a botched robbery. So did Davis saying he acted in self-defense.
He shot both men 10 times in the back at close range. He fled the scene. He carried a telescope, a GPS set, bolt cutters, a survival kit, and a long-range radio.
His gun a powerful Glock semi-automatic pistol. It’s able to fire 17 – 33 rounds. It depends on what magazine is used.
Davis assassinated two targeted victims. It didn’t matter. Obama officials claimed diplomatic immunity. They demanded his release. Davis was no diplomat. CIA operatives are spies.
Washington applies pressure relentlessly. Doing so got Davis released. Murder didn’t matter.
Alleged visa violations and underpaying wages apparently are more serious offenses. Only in America. Hypocrisy defines policy.
Why Washington would risk straining relations with India isn’t clear. Why was it over offenses far less than major ones, if true? They pale compared to commonplace US policy brutality.
They don’t rise to the level of American crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.
Khobragade didn’t rob, brutalize or kill anyone. If tried and convicted, potentially she faces years in prison.
India’s government expressed justifiable outrage. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called her treatment “deplorable.” Other Indian officials voiced outrage.
Imagine if US embassy or consular officials were abused abroad. Imagine how Washington might retaliate. Khobragade explained her treatment, saying:
“I must admit that I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, holed up with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity.”
Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro endured a similar abuse. It happened years earlier. At the time, he was Chavez’s foreign minister.
In September 2006, he was part of Venezuela’s New York General Assembly delegation. He arrived without trouble. None occurred during his stay.
Heading home, things changed. He was accosted at JFK Airport. Officials demanded he surrender his ticket and boarding pass. They claimed his name was on a so-called “red list.”
He was lawlessly detained. He was taken to a small room. He was maliciously strip-searched. It was done to harass and humiliate him. He protested in vain.
He identified himself as Venezuela’s foreign minister. He said treatment then got worse. Police threatened to handcuff and beat him.
He was isolated. He was detained for 90 minutes. He was denied legal and other outside contact.
Venezuela’s government demanded a full apology. A State Department spokesperson issued a contemptuous one.
It was typical Washington. What happened was Bush administration thuggery. It continues unapologetically. Obama operates the same way.
Lawlessness defines longstanding US policy. So does unjustifiable brutality. America’s most disadvantaged are mistreated. People of color are targeted for not being white. It happens with disturbing regularity.
Thousands of political prisoners languish in America’s gulag. It’s by far the world’s largest. It’s one of the most abusive.
Torture is commonplace. Practices include dogs savaging prisoners, shocking them with cattle prods, burning them with toxic chemicals, harming them with stun guns, beating and abusing them in other ways.
Longterm isolation turns normal prisoners into dysfunctional ones. It contributes to anti-social behavior and mental illness. At times, it creates sociopaths.
Other victims become zombies. Isolation is like being buried alive. It can cause irreversible psychological trauma and harm.
It’s common practice in US prisons. It’s cruel and usual punishment. It violates America’s 8th Amendment. It doesn’t matter.
Violence in America is endemic. It’s part of the national culture. Among all industrialized nations, America by far has the highest homicide rate.
Similar video games crowd out simpler street play. Violent films are some of the most popular. Women are routinely abused. Husbands mistreat wives and daughters.
One-fourth of adult women are victimized by forcible rape. It happens one or more times in their lives. Often it’s by someone they know. Family members are responsible.
Many girls are molested as young children. Often it’s repeatedly by a close family member.
An astonishing 75% of women experience extreme levels of violence in one or more forms. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury. It’s the second leading cause of death.
Homes with adult males are the most dangerous places for millions of women. Assailants abuse them freely. Often it’s with impunity. Societal help is lacking.
Children endure horrific abuses. Millions suffer serious neglect, physical mistreatment, and/or sexual abuse. Family members are more dangerous than strangers.
Childhelp addresses prevention and treatment of child abuse. It defines it as “any act of commission or omission that endangers or impairs a child’s physical or emotional health and development.”
It “includes any damage done to a child which cannot be reasonably be explained and which is often represented by an injury or series of injuries appearing to be non-accidental in nature.”
Non-accidental injuries include “hitting, kicking, slapping, shaking, burning, pinching, hair pulling, biting, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping and paddling.”
Sexual abuses include “fondling, penetration, intercourse, exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, child prostitution, group sex, oral sex, or forced observation of sexual acts.”
Neglect includes “(f)ailure to provide for a child’s physical needs.”
Examples include “lack of supervision, inappropriate housing or shelter, inadequate provision of food and water, inappropriate clothing for season or weather, abandonment, denial of medical care and inadequate hygiene.”
Emotional abuse includes “(a)ny attitude or behavior which interferes with a child’s mental health or social development.”
Examples include yelling, screaming, name-calling, shaming, negative comparisons to others, telling them they are ‘bad, no good, worthless,’ or ‘a mistake.’ ”
It’s failing to provide parental affection and support. It’s needed to develop a child’s emotional, social, physical and intellectual well-being.
All of the above practices are commonplace in America. Where’s the public outrage? Why haven’t authorities cared enough to act responsibly?
Why do they most often turn a blind eye to outrageous forms of abuse? Why are perpetrators so rarely prosecuted? Why is a national epidemic allowed to persist?
America’s elderly and infirm are affected. Women most of all are harmed. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates up to two million Americans aged 65 or older have been injured, exploited or mistreated by caregivers annually.
Often they’re family members. Most often they’re unpunished. Federal, state and local funding to combat it is less than years earlier.
Actor Mickey Rooney is aged 92. He’s one of many victims. In March 2011, he testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
He implored members to stop what experts call chronic emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse of elderly Americans by family members or other caregivers.
His stepson, Christopher Aber, intimidated him, he said. He blocked access to his mail.
He abused him various ways. He stole his money. He withheld medication and food.
“You can’t believe it’s happening to you,” said Rooney. “You feel overwhelmed.” He urged Congress to criminalize what’s happening.
“I’m asking you to stop this elderly abuse,” he said. “I mean stop it now. Not tomorrow. Not next month, but now.” Pass legislation saying “it’s a crime, and we will not allow it in the United States of America.”
Rooney said he suffered in silence. He did so for years. “I didn’t want to tell anybody. I couldn’t muster the courage, and you have to have courage,” he stressed.
“I needed help, and I knew I needed it. Even when I tried to speak up, I was told to shut up and be quiet.”
Eventually he got a court order. He turned over his affairs to an attorney. He got a restraining order against his stepson. Countless others suffer similar abuses. They do so largely out of sight and mind.
Despite his age and frailty, Rooney devoted time and effort publicly. He’s an advocate for elder abuse protection. His celebrity gives him credibility and attention.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), over 14% of noninstitutionalized adults experienced some form of elder abuse in 2009.
It cautioned that reported numbers may way understate reality. Many elder abuse instances go unreported. So does widespread women and child mistreatment.
Dr. Mark Lachs heads geriatrics at the New York Presbyterian Health System. He was blunt, saying:
“I tell the physicians I train that if they’ve seen 15 or 20 older people in their practices then they have probably met an elder abuse victim, whether they realize it or not.”
Based on a 2011 New York state study, “it would appear that for every elder abuse victim that makes it into an official service or reporting system, another 23 to 24 go undetected,” Lachs stressed.
Women, children and elder abuse in America reflects a largely silent epidemic. Marie-Therese Connolly heads Life long Justice (LLJ). It’s a nationwide initiative.
It pursues effective ways to safeguard America’s elderly. Billions of dollars are spent to lengthen life. Elder abuse research gives pause for concern, says LLJ.
It estimates up to 11% of aged 60 or older elders at home suffer abuse, neglect or exploitation. Nearly half of all people with dementia at home are abused or neglected by caregivers.
“For every case of elder abuse (reported), 23.5 (others are) not.” From “50% – 90% of nursing homes are understaffed at levels that harm residents.”
“Elder abuse includes mistreatment, neglect and financial exploitation,” says LLJ.
“It occurs in homes and facilities; cuts across all demographic groups; and causes untold suffering and cost, not just for its victims, but also for those who care about and for them.”
“Victims often live their last years – impoverished, injured, neglected and in fear – with little effective assistance, protection or attention from any system.”
They “suffer more injuries and illnesses and are three times more likely to die sooner than non-victims.”
“In addition to depleting the resources of already stressed individuals and families, elder abuse costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal, state and local program expenditures.”
“We are at the early stage of a hidden epidemic,” LLJ stresses. “As 77 million baby boomers age, and caregiving shortages grow more acute, the problem will” become much more serious than already.
Rooney expressed what many others feel, saying:
“You’re afraid, but you’re also thinking about your other family members.” He noted concern about potential criticism from “family, friends, and people who know them.”
“They might not want to accept the dysfunction. Everyone should love their families as I do. I love my family,” he stressed.
He deserves as much back or more in return. Millions like him lack it. America’s most vulnerable are harmed. Abuses continue largely out of sight and mind.
Even foreign dignitaries aren’t safe. Diplomatic immunity doesn’t matter. Nor does rule of law justice.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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