May 4, 2016

The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner has put out a statement ahead of President Obama's visit to Flint, Michigan regarding ongoing human rights violations following the nearly two-year poison water scandal.

It starts by recognizing that water is a human right, regardless of poverty or income:

“The Flint case dramatically illustrates the suffering and difficulties that flow from failing to recognize that water is a human right, from failing to ensure that essential services are provided in a non-discriminatory manner, and from treating those who live in poverty in ways that exacerbate their plight"

It goes on to say what we all know to be true - this would never ever in a million years have happened if the town of Flint was well off or white. Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said:

“Decisions would never have been made in the high-handed and cavalier manner that occurred in Flint if the affected population group was well-off or overwhelmingly white."

Bingo. He went on to say:

“Elected officials would have been much more careful, there would have been a timely response to complaints rather than summary dismissals of concerns, and official accountability would have been insisted upon much sooner.”

Oh, so you mean Governor Snyder wouldn't have ignored it for about 2 years while trucking bottled water in to city employees, knowing that the residents were drinking poison?

They end with a plea to the government to get to the bottom of this crisis (ahem, Governor Snyder):

“A city that has been plagued by poverty and its related ills, now has the additional burden of overcoming another crisis. The residents of Flint have a right to know what happened and who is responsible for the water crisis. We call on the federal and state governments to use the occasion of President Obama’s visit to map out a human rights compliant strategy to ensure that such events are not replicated in other parts of the country."

When you think of the United Nations addressing water sanitation issues, you do not think of America, do you? But this is what is happening in a state run by a Republican Governor more focused on lining his pockets than keeping his (poor, primarily black) residents safe. Keep this in mind come November when you go to the polls.

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