Brazil - could do better. Joy Napier at the Henry Jackson Society blog The Scoop has posted this in response to Iran's rejection of Brazil's offer of asylum to the Iranian woman Sakineh Ashtiani, who is under sentence of death by stoning for adultery. She is quite right to be severely critical of Lula's adoption of cultural relativist rhetoric as a get-out, especially given Brazil's powerful position in the world economy, but hey, cut the guy some slack - at least he tried. Better than what we have seen from some powerful nations which ought to know better. Oh and note the use of the subjunctive in the last sentence.
In response to Iran’s rejection, Lula said, "I've learned as a head of state to respect the laws of all nations. If Iran is willing to discuss this matter, we would take great pleasure in talking about this woman's case, but each country has its laws, its religion and we have to, whether we agree with it or not, learn to respect that." Lula’s resort to the rhetoric of cultural relativism in the face of atrocity, is yet another sad example of the failure of those in key positions of power to prevent the type of state-sponsored persecution that runs rampant in rogue states such as Iran. The history of Brazil has been marked by the persecution of vulnerable minorities – from the colonial enslavement and mistreatment of its African population to the severe marginalisation of its indigenous minorities. Brazil is in an invaluable position of power at the forefront of the developing world - it is a leader in Western Hemisphere emerging markets and boasts the world’s eighth largest economy. Surely Brazil, a country dedicated to universal democratic and humanitarian ideals, must recognize the danger of its complicity with Iran’s absolute disregard of the rights of women. As Lula prepares for his inevitable departure from office this October, we can only hope that his successor grasp the grave importance of taking a firm stance on Brazil’s leading role in the world as a champion global human rights.