Prominent human rights, advocacy groups in US hail victory of Biden, Harris

Yoshita Singh
·4-min read

New York, Nov 8 (PTI) Several prominent human rights and advocacy organisations in the US hailed the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris, urging their administration to promote civil rights, racial equality and “reverse four years of regression” on human rights, and underscoring that this is the moment to “heal the nation”.

“In a democracy, the will of the people, not of politicians, determines the outcome of an election. Now President-elect Biden needs to govern on behalf of all Americans,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Kenneth Roth said.

“People came out in record numbers to vote. The electoral process must ensure that their choices are respected. This is a moment to heal the nation and end the divisiveness,” he said.

HRW said Biden should “reverse four years of regression on human rights” and immediately work to place respect for rights at the forefront of US laws and policies.

The organisation hailed Harris’ victory, noting that exactly 100 years after women in the United States gained the right to vote and 55 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, “Kamala Harris, the daughter of parents who immigrated from India and Jamaica, has become the first woman, first Black American, and first Asian-American to be elected vice president of the United States'.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, congratulated Biden on his victory and encouraged the incoming administration to promote civil rights, racial equality, a just foreign policy, and the inclusion of American Muslims in diverse government roles.

CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said Biden has pledged to end the 'Muslim Ban' on his first day in office, include Muslims at every level of his administration and address issues of racial and religious discrimination.

'We plan to join other American Muslim leaders and organisations in ensuring that the Biden administration fulfils these promises,” he said.

President Donald Trump had imposed a controversial travel ban, often referred to by critics as a 'Muslim ban', on several Muslim majority countries, including Iran and Syria, through a series of executive orders.

Sayu Bhojwani, founder and president of New American Leaders, said it is the start of a new chapter in American democracy.

'This truly historic day rests on the persistent action — and belief — that we can be better, through a more reflective democracy.

'For the first time in our country's history, a woman will be serving in the White House, shattering that glass ceiling, and representing all immigrants and people of colour, like her parents who came from India and Jamaica seeking freedom and opportunity,” she said, adding that Harris' victory is not only historic, “especially in the age of Trump's America, but an inspiration to people like us of all ages.” Human Rights Watch said US officials should ensure that the voters' will is respected and not undermined by baseless lawsuits as Trump has made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

“Trump’s reckless allegations of voter fraud” in the presidential election have met with bipartisan condemnation.

'Candidates have the right to pursue the legal avenues available to them, but pursuing baseless claims unnecessarily prolongs the electoral process and may serve to undermine confidence in the outcome of the election,” it said, adding that a record number of Americans of all backgrounds participated in the election amid a pandemic and other structural obstacles to casting a ballot.

HRW stressed that as president, Biden should make human rights a priority at home and abroad.

'Biden should also press for swift legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, tackle systemic racism, and rectify harms and injustices in the criminal and immigration systems.” On foreign policy, HRW said the incoming administration should demonstrate global climate leadership, promote and protect sexual and reproductive rights, and ensure that US weapons and technology are not sold to rights-abusing governments.

Human rights abusers should not be given “red carpet” treatment but instead be pressed on human rights both publicly and privately.

Awad said the American Muslim community is urging Congress and Biden to enact and implement civil rights reforms including ending bigoted and discriminatory immigration policies such as the Muslim and Africa travel bans, detainment of asylum seekers.

Nonprofit organisation PEN America said the US is back from the brink, and a new day dawns. “This election is called, and disinformation and alternative facts did not win,” it said.

The organisation said the 2020 election again makes plain that “we confront a crisis of trust and truth that runs deep, impairing pandemic response, bedeviling our politics, and setting us against our neighbours. Our information ecosystem is broken, thwarting our democracy. It must be fixed, and it can be fixed.” Going forward, PEN America said it will step up its work restore faith in a credible free press — and secure a vibrant future for local journalism, inoculate the public against disinformation, dismantle racism and other barriers of exclusion that silence essential voices, counter online harassment and defend truth-tellers. PTI YAS SCY SCY