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China, Russia And Iran Exploit Canadian Resident School Tragedy To Discredit Canada’s Human Rights Records

October 31st, 2021 13:59

Dis­in­fowatch, a Cana­di­an web­site track­ing for­eign dis­in­for­ma­tion, report­ed ear­li­er this month that Chi­na, Rus­sia, and Iran have used a nation­al tragedy in Cana­da to dis­cred­it the country’s rep­u­ta­tion as human rights defend­er and deflect from their own human rights abus­es. Accord­ing to the Disin­in­fowatch report:

Octo­ber 8, 2021   The dis­cov­ery of unmarked graves at for­mer Cana­di­an res­i­den­tial schools in spring 2021 received wide­spread cov­er­age by Cana­di­an nation­al media over the past four months. But cov­er­age of this top­ic has not been exclu­sive to domes­tic out­lets; state-owned media in Chi­na, Rus­sia, and Iran have devot­ed sig­nif­i­cant cov­er­age to the sub­ject while state-con­trolled social media accounts have active­ly ampli­fied these for­eign nar­ra­tives. In so doing, these regimes have exploit­ed the res­i­den­tial schools tragedy in order to dis­cred­it Cana­da and its voice as a glob­al defend­er of human rights.

Author­i­tar­i­an regimes often use a rhetor­i­cal tac­tic called “whataboutism” as part of their infor­ma­tion and influ­ence oper­a­tions, where­by neg­a­tive sto­ries in west­ern lib­er­al media are exploit­ed by these regimes in order to deflect atten­tion away from their crim­i­nal activ­i­ty and human rights abus­es. Whataboutism was a fre­quent Cold War tac­tic of Sovi­et pro­pa­gan­dists, who would, for exam­ple, point to the mis­treat­ment of Black Amer­i­cans when­ev­er Sovi­et ter­ror and repres­sion were men­tioned by West­ern media and offi­cials. While his­tor­i­cal and cur­rent injus­tices in lib­er­al demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­eties must be addressed, the weaponiza­tion of those issues by malign for­eign regimes for the pur­pose of pro­pa­gan­da, must be rec­og­nized, ana­lyzed and exposed.

Read the full report here.

Accord­ing to the report, Chi­na used the res­i­dent school tragedy to dis­tract from its human rights vio­la­tions in Xin­jiang by cre­at­ing a false moral equiv­a­len­cy between the two events. Rus­sia and Iran, on the oth­er hand, have exploit­ed the issue as a mech­a­nism to dis­cred­it the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment and under­mine the country’s cred­i­bil­i­ty on human rights issues.

The report notes that Chi­nese Eng­lish-lan­guage state media sites Xin­hua, Chi­na Glob­al Tele­vi­sion Net­work (CGTN), and The Glob­al Times col­lec­tive­ly wrote 94 arti­cles about the res­i­dent school tragedy while Russ­ian Eng­lish-lan­guage state media out­lets RT, Sput­nik, and TASS pub­lished 28 arti­cles, and Iran’s Press TV pub­lished 16 articles.