He denounced the killings and made Duterte cry
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stepped down as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in August, but Rodrigo Duterte is still upset about what the Jordanian told him — and how he made him feel.
Zeid hurt Rodrigo Duterte’s feelings and made him cry.
Last week, Duterte, who has cursed world leaders and poor Filipinos alike, joked repeatedly about the rape of women, who inspired a bloody campaign of mass slaughter,recalled during a conferencehow Zeid said, “Duterte, you need to see a psychiatrist.”
Duterte was deeply offended.
“Napaiyak tuloy ako, inaapi-api kasi ako ng mga tao.” he recalled. [‘I broke down in tears. They were mistreating me.’]
Who is Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein? Who is this man who wounded the heart of the Philippine president who once told soldiers he’ll back them up if they’re ever accused of rape, and who once yelled at protesting jeepney drivers, “Mahirap kayo? Putangina magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom.” [You’re poor? Mother whore, go suffer in poverty and hunger!]
In recalling how Zeid hurt his feelings, Duterte disclosed that another leader also did not like Zeid: his cousin, King Abdullah II of Jordan.
I have yet to read about Zeid’s reactions to Duterte’s claims. But it’s safe to assume he was probably unfazed. He’s used to being insulted by other leaders and governments. As a Prospect magazineprofile reported, aside from the Duterte government, Zeid has been attacked by many nations including North Korea, Venezuela, China and Russia.
Not surprising for a UN official who is also one of the most outspoken human rights advocates in the world. The magazine profile recalled a 2016 international conference in which Zeid “called out a parade of ‘xenophobes, populists and racists’” including Donald Trump and right-wing leaders in Europe, and the Islamic State.
“He shook with rage. The room was stunned into silence, then burst into a standing ovation. One ambassador present calls it ‘a moment of pure authenticity, emotion and reason.’”
The speech was a high point in a long UN career that exposed Zeid to some of the most atrocious acts of cruelty in recent times. He was a junior official in Bosnia when he was stunned to see a warlord’s car decorated with the skull of a child, according the Prospect profile.
In a recent interview on the turmoil in Myanmar, Zeid was quoted as saying, “What kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother’s milk. And for the mother to witness this murder while she is being gang-raped by security forces who should be protecting her?”
But Zeid inevitably caused too much of a stir and made too many enemies to keep the top UN human rights post. He could have offered to serve another four-year term, but as Prospect reported: “Zeid saw the writing on the wall. ‘To be re-elected in my job would be to fail,’ because it would mean a series of punches pulled with member states. Now he is leaving, the last of the few global leaders willing to speak out about human rights abuses, what does that mean for the state of the world?”
For Duterte, who now routinely makes the list of the world’s most thuggish rulers, Zeid’s departure was certainly good news.
The human rights warrior who made Digong cry is gone.
But then again, Zeid’s successor could prove to be as tough on Duterte, if not tougher.
The new UN Human Rights Commissioner, former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, is the first woman to hold the post. She is an internationally known advocate for women’s rights.
She most likely will be even more familiar with the horrors and abuses many Filipinos have become reacquainted with under Duterte — the denigration of women, the silencing of critics, the mass killings.
Bachelet survived the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Her father, an air force general, was tortured and later died in prison. She herself endured prison and torture.
Pinochet was often been compared to Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator that Duterte has embraced as a hero.
Visit the Kuwento page on Facebook.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.