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The Greek tragedy should be addressed by all human rights institutions, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.  There is much at stake in this Greek tragedy — and the media is doing us a disservice by not focusing on the essentials.

It is worrisome that international organizations like the IMF — that ostensibly endorse human rights — do not practice what they preach but abuse the sovereignty of States and adversely impact on the human rights of millions. EU ministers have expressed dissatisfaction with the decision to hold a referendum in Greece. Why?  Are they not for the democratic process? Do they really expect the Prime Minister of Greece to betray the people who elected him with a clear mandate not to capitulate to international pressures and not to dismantle Greek democracy? Or have the EU ministers forgotten that the Greek Prime Minister was elected by his people to represent their will and take their interests into account, in defining moments, concerning their future? Capitulating to an ultimatum from Brussels or from the IMF would be incompatible with the democratic trust placed on him by the Greek electorate.

Indeed, a democratic and equitable international order can only be achieved through international solidarity and support for democratic processes leading to outcomes maximizing people’s human rights.

Ontologically every State has the responsibility to protect the welfare of all persons living under its jurisdiction. This encompasses fiscal and budgetary sovereignty and regulatory space which cannot be trumped by outside actors, whether States, inter-governmental organizations or creditors.

Ontologically every financial institution, including the International Monetary Fund functions on the basis of risk-taking in the expectation to generate profit.  It is in the nature of the banking business.  They do not have an absolute guarantee of reimbursement.  Indeed, if there is a problem of liquidity, it is for the bank to facilitate debt reorganization and restructuring.  Not to insist on profit at any cost, even at the cost of destroying the livelihoods of millions of human beings.  Flexibility is what is needed now — not intransigence. But it seems that the hard liners are scared that if Greece succeeds in giving priority to its sovereignty — that other debtor States like Portugal, Spain and Italy will be next.  Well, maybe the bankers made an error when they approved the loans — and this is the fault of the lenders — not of those who were lured into accepting loans that they would never be able to pay back.  Imposing crushing financial demands on them appears as a form of neo-colonialism.

Article 103 of the UN Charter stipulates that the provisions of the UN Charter prevail over all other treaties, therefore no treaty or loan agreement can force a country to violate the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights of its population, nor can a loan agreement negate the sovereignty of a state. Any agreement that would require such a violation of human rights is contra bonos mores and hence null and void pursuant to Art. 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

A democratic and equitable international order requires a commercial and financial international order that facilitates the achievement of all human rights. Inter-governmental organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF must foster and under no conditions hinder the achievement of the plenitude of human rights.

Foreign debt is no excuse to derogate from or violate human rights or to cause retrogression in contravention of articles 2 and 5 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

All treaties including loan and bail-out agreements must have human rights and democratic legitimacy. Hence all human rights institutions and activists should welcome the referendum to be held in Greece.

Apparently the EU and the IMF expected Greece to accept a gruesome ultimatum, squeeze the blood out of the population — especially the poor — abandon many “aquis” in the field of human and social rights.  No democratic leader can be expected to betray the electorate and to undermine the sovereignty of the State by capitulating to international financial pressures.

The effects of the 2007-08 global financial crisis are still being felt owing to the collapse of Lehman Brothers. This is the moment for the international community to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Greece, to respect the democratic will of the Greek population, to proactively help them out of this financial crisis which finds its origin in the world financial crisis of 2007-08, for which Greece bears no responsibility.

The European Union is pouring money into Ukraine so that it can continue bombarding the people of Donetsk and Lugansk — who pose no threat to Kiev and who only aspire to self-determination.  In the 1990’s the EU solidly and correctly condemned Milosevich for bombarding Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo. Where is the outrage when the Eastern Ukrainians are being massacred? There is enough money to finance a war against self-determination, but not enough readiness and flexibility to restructure the Greek debt, the debt of a EU member State and the cradle of democracy.

EU politicians should take a look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves whether they are really for or against democracy and self-determination. The voice of the Greek people deserves to be heard in one of Athen’s most defining moments since the end of the Greek Civil War.

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