In a recent blog post in Huffington Post, Mihra Rittman called upon Britain to call out Kazakhstan's violation of human rights. The call happens within the context of a senior UK Foreign Ministry official's prediction that "Kazakhstan [is] "on the verge of being a significant player on the international stage," and "that President Nursultan Nazarbaev's visit to the United Kingdom on November 3 and 4 "will confirm Britain's desire to be a partner of choice for Kazakhstan as it takes forward further reforms in governance, rule of law and human rights." Her call followed as the title of her article indicates, that there is no need to embrace Kazakhstan for its potential progress industrially if it won't also take steps towards ending its human rights abuses.
The call conviently locates the decision of trade relations in the hands of British officials, as if Kazakhstan had no choice in the matter. I would personally call for Kazakhstan to hold off on trade relations with the global power until it addresses its grave abuses.
If you're wondering what I am talking about, we could start with the reparations that Britain could pay to every single indigenous group that it destroyed, uprooted, displaced, and massacred in its global campaign for power and wealth.
We could start with a discussion about police brutality, militarization and police accountability in the Isle.
We could start with acknowledging the British "legislation that enables the government to conduct phone and internet surveillance on a mass scale."
In fact, I could go on listing things that Kazakhstan could consider before it engages in trade with Britain. There are many things as indicated here that Kazakhstan would either be directly or indirectly contributing to by engaging in trade with Britain.
Mihra's blog post does not acknowledge these realities. Whether intended or not, turning a blind eye to Britain's own contributions to human rights violations is a part of exceptionalism that consitently looks to other countries without critically considering its own contribtutions to human rights violations.
As long as we continue to look to other's wrong doings we will continue in our own wrong doing. As a member of the European Union, I say that if we genuinely are to care about human rights, we need to be more intentional about how we frame discussions on human rights. We need to care about human rights everywhere, not just when others are violating them. We need to care about human rights everywhere, especially where we have the most influence, at home.