America’s first black president, Barrack Obama, is contending with a wave of angry civic voices in South Africa, where he is on an official tour, and where many are accusing him of lacking a credible African policy.
Yet the worst challenge for Obama is not the street marchers, it is coming from far away Russia where, Edward Snowden, speaking from his hide out at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, has lobbed an explosive grenade at the political conduct and human rights claims of President Obama who he accuses of deploying “the old, bad tools of political aggression” and “using citizenship as a weapon” in order to silence him.
Snowden piled charges against the American president that will resonate in many parts of the developing world, especially on Obama’s alleged lack of belief or faith in the principles of human rights, around which western democracies have defined their modern civilizations.
Highlighting on the right to asylum, he said: “For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country.”
In the same statement, Snowden accused the Obama administration of a disdainful attitude towards the rights to free expression of citizens, saying, his home government is “afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.” Snowden also accused Vice President Biden of pressuring foreign leaders to deny him extradition.
Below is Snowden’s statement as it appears on the Wikileaks Web site:
One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat from my government for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.
On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.
This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.
For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person.
Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.