Sunday, September 02, 2007

State Department spokesman on Human Rights Watch and Hezbollah

US Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 29, 2007

QUESTION: Tom, Human Rights Watch has a report
out today saying that Hezbollah engaged in indiscriminate, deliberate
on Israeli civilian areas during the war last year. They were going to
this with a news conference in Beirut tomorrow, but they cancelled it, they
said, because Al Manar, their Hezbollah TV outlet, was accusing them of
conspiring with the United States, with elements in Lebanon hostile to
Hezbollah and -- you know, urging people to try to physically prevent this
conference. I just wonder if there's any part of that you'd like to take on.

MR. CASEY: Well, let's see. What could I start with, David? First of all,
anyone that is arguing that somehow, a very independent organization like
Rights Watch is somehow doing the United States' bidding need look no
than most of the reactions we've had to some of their other comments. They
an independent organization, they set their own agenda, and they operate on
their own. And they and other human rights groups and other NGOs play an
important part in our civil society and are definitely individual
that will make their own decisions about what to say and when to say it.

In terms of the actual findings of the report, I've only seen a brief
of it, but I think it's pretty clear to most of us that the policies of
Hezbollah show no regard for distinction between innocent civilians and
innocent life and those who might otherwise be considered combatants. The
indiscriminate firing of missiles into Israel during the conflict last
caused numbers of deaths and injuries and certainly could not be described
any way, shape, or form as I understand it as following the laws of war.

As far as Hezbollah intimidation of Human Rights Watch or others, well,
unfortunately, I guess there really isn't any news there because that's just
par for the course. Hezbollah continues to be an organization that engages
terror, that supports the repression of activities in Lebanon that are
to give everyone an opportunity to have their say and continues to take
that are inherently against the interests of the Lebanese people.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)