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Resources updated between Monday, April 20, 2015 and Sunday, April 26, 2015
April 24, 2015
Last month a Taliban faction took responsibility for killing Samiullah Afridi, the lawyer who represented the doctor who assisted the CIA in locating Osama Bin Laden. In 2009, West Point's Combating Terrorism Center published a report showing that al-Qaeda kills eight times more Muslims than non-Muslims. As a preponderance of terrorist attacks and related violence in the last decade have taken place in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia, it stands to reason that Muslims are the primary victims of these attacks.
Unreported however is the systematic targeting and killing of Muslim lawyers and lawmakers in Muslim countries for their work on behalf of human rights and democratic values.
In 2014, Mohamed Mohamud Heyd was killed in Somalia; Salwa Bugaighis in Libya, and, Samira al-Nuaimy killed by Islamic State. In Pakistan, Waqar-ul-Hasan was killed in April, Rashid Rehman in May, and Gihulam Haider in October. This list is not exhaustive.
On August 16, 2006 the IRIN news agency reported that "Since October 2005, 38 lawyers have been murdered and hundreds attacked for defending cases which their enemies say are 'against Islam,' according to the Iraqi Lawyers Association." Two weeks before, Salah Abdel-Kader, who handled honor killing and custody battle cases was shot dead in his office. According to IRIN, a note was found near his body stating: "This is the price to pay for those who do not follow Islamic laws and defend what is dreadful and dirty."
IRIN quoted Safa'a Farouk, a lawyer and spokesperson for the ILA who had received six threats since February: "Most lawyers in Iraq today are worried about taking on such cases because they have to evaluate how much they will affect their safety." IRIN also quoted Qusay Ahmed, a member of the ILA: "Since January, at least 120 lawyers have left Iraq to Jordan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, frightened by the constant threats. And since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, hundreds of others have already left."
On September 25, 2014, ISIS publicly executed, by a masked firing squad, Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy an Iraqi lawyer well known for her work on women's rights after several days of torture because of her Facebook posts critical of ISIS, including one referring to the "barbaric bombing and destroying of mosques and shrines in Mosul." Her execution was condemned by the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights and its Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq.
Pakistan's International News reported on December 31, 2011, that 20 lawyers were killed in Pakistan during the year; on April 31, 2014, the paper reported that 41 lawyers had been killed since its first lawyer, Iqbal Rind, was killed in 2000. On April 13, 2014, the Karachi Bar Association passed a resolution demanding that the government ease gun licensing procedures for lawyers. On May 3, Pakistani lawyers boycotted the courts after the third lawyer in five weeks was killed.
Salwa Bugaighis, assassinated in her home by unknown assailants on June 25, 2014, was a prominent Libyan human rights lawyer, known for defending political prisoners during the Gaddafi regime and was a founder member of Libya's National Transitional Council, its first governing body after the fall of Gaddafi. Her death prompted a statement by Samantha Power.
Rashid Rehman, an official with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and a lawyer defending a university professor accused of blasphemy, was shot dead in his office on May 7, 2014. On April 10, The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a statement expressing its concern that during a hearing in the case three people present in the courtroom stated to Mr. Rehman "You will not come to court next time because you will not exist any more." The statement added that "judge is reported to have remained silent."
Al-Shabaab took responsibility for the July 3, 2014 killing of Mohamed Mohamud Heyd a Somali lawmaker. On February 9, 2015, Reuters reported that al-Shabaab killed the sixth Somali lawmaker since the start of 2014 and quoted al-Shabaab's military spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab: "We killed (the) lawmaker. We shall continue killing them one by one."
Killing Muslims lawyers who defend human rights and promote democratic values draws the societies they are from further away from achieving these goals.
April 23, 2015
Execution of alleged drug traffickers continue in Iran. More than 50 drug convicts have been executed during the last 10 days. Most of the executions have not been announced by the official sources.
Iran Human Rights, April 22, 2015: Three prisoners were hanged in the prison of Ardebil (Northwestern Iran), reported the Iranian state media. The three prisoners who were not identified by name, were convicted of drug-related charges in three different cases. The charges were: buying and possession of 231 grams of heroin, participation in possession and trafficking of 1400 grams of heroin and possession of about one kilogram of heroin, said the report.
The executions were carried out on Tuesday April 21.
The Assad regime - responsible for the deaths of over a hundred thousand Syrian citizens, including through the use of chemical weapons - has found a culprit: Zionism.
At a General Assembly thematic debate on "Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism" held on April 21, 2015, the Representative from the Syrian Arab Republic claimed that the self-determination of the Jewish people is responsible for the rise of Muslim terrorist groups. He told the General Assembly:
"Mr. President, those that think that groups such as Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, Boko Haram, Jemaah Islamiya occurred spontaneously or by accident are deluding themselves or they are just choosing to look away. There are real networks that explain how these groups developed. The most visible are Zionism, the fatwas that have been issued and the extremist educational programs, and the authorization by certain governments of terrorism and extremism as a tool for implementing political agendas that are very doubtful in Syria or elsewhere."
April 22, 2015
Harrowing images have emerged showing the seconds before a media activist was brutally murdered by militants loyal to the Islamic State in Syria.
Taken on the frontline of fighting in the countryside outside the rebel-held city of Aleppo, the photos show a prisoner wearing an orange jumpsuit being forced to his knees before being shot.
ISIS released the disturbing photographs on the same day as they bizarrely attempted to portray everyday life under the terror group's control as happy and carefree - distributing images of smiling farmers living near Aleppo who use Western technology to grow and harvest their abundant crops.
Images of the media activist's brutal execution were released by ISIS' Halab Media Centre, which operates in and around the city of Aleppo and has previously released sickening images and videos of the terror organisation murdering anybody who dares to oppose them.
Brave activists operating on the ground in Syria have been hugely successful in helping to unite and inspire a resistance against the terror group by sharing images and reports of their atrocities online.
Groups such as Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, which operates in ISIS' de facto capital city, work undercover, secretly filming ISIS militants as they take part in near daily massacres.
This has, however, made the activists a major target, with the terror group exacting bloody revenge on those found to be spreading information on their activities.
Charged as spies, the campaigners face certain death - either by being shot at point-blank range or crucified in a public square.
The activist seen in the latest ISIS photographs show him just moments before his 'execution'.
The fact he was forced to his knees and the presence of men standing around him wielding assault rifles has led analysts to believe his death was almost certainly by shooting, even though his moment of death is not shown and there are no images of his body.
With his arms tightly bound behind his back with plastic handcuffs, blurry images show the victim being dragged through a public square by his heavily armed captors.
His name and the group he worked for are not known, but ISIS identified the man as a 'media activist' understood to have been murdered sometime earlier this week.
The images emerged on the same day as ISIS made a bizarre attempt to portray themselves as a peace-loving group by distributing photos of smiling farmers harvesting their crops.
Using Western-style crop-spraying equipment, a group of young men are seen in the fields happily picking cabbages while young boys load them on to the back of a lorry.
The happy pastoral scene is in stark contrast to the campaign of rape and massacre ISIS has brought to vast stretches of the Syria and Iraq - where depraved extremists carry out daily atrocities in the name of the radical interpretation if Islam.
The juxtaposing scenes emerged as Kurdish officials claimed ISIS militants were preparing for an attack on a city in north east Syria, near the border with Iraq, where the terror group remains a significant threat despite recent setbacks elsewhere in the two countries.
I am Camelia. I write on Facebook and blogs with the name Foring Camelia. I am not sure if I will be able to fully convey to you our situation. Every moment passes with the omnipresent fear of death. Islamic extremists can murder any one of us at any time.
In 2013, when four atheist bloggers were wrongfully arrested due to pressure from extremist Muslims, I protested. They are not criminals, they haven't done anything wrong, so why were they arrested, remanded and sentenced to serve jail time for nothing but writing? I could not accept such an injustice, and so I took to the streets, placard in hand, and joined a movement to demand their just treatment. I wrote for days demanding their release. It was back then when radical Muslims first targeted me. I fought relentlessly for my friend Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, who writes on the blogs mukto-mona.com, amarblog.com andamrabondhu.com using his own name, "Shubrata Shuvo."
I have always been very outspoken about the denied rights of wrongfully imprisoned bloggers like him and strived to find lawyers for him, face the media, raise awareness among people and keep his parents safe. The highly popular Bangladeshi newspaper Kaler Kantho wrote a report on me back then, in which they published details about my activism.
S hortly after that, a fundamentalist Islamist group by the name of Hefazothe Islam held a rally where they branded me as an infidel and held a precession to demand my punishment. But that did not stop me, and after my friend Subhrata got released on bail, we both began working for the rights of persecuted bloggers. For this reason, the fundamentalists often send us death threats online. Farabi Shafiur Rahman, a member of one of the groups suspected of carrying out the murder of Avijit Roy, issued a fatwa against me, where he stated that I ought to be slaughtered. He wrote this on his Facebook, "Foring Camelia should be murdered by having her throat slit," and also wrote numerous provocative posts about Shubhrata, with the aim of inciting his murder. We try not to be frightened by these and keep our project running. But after the murders of Avijit Roy on February 26 and that of Washiqur Rahman Babu on March 31, we started receiving numerous death threats on our personal Facebook profiles. They are always keeping their eyes on us. The have declared that they will execute us as soon as they get the opportunity.
Justice for the murders of Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman is far from a reality, as the authorities have failed to even identify the perpetrators in the last month and a half. It is becoming rather evident from their lack of urgency about the investigations that they are not too keen on providing justice.
For this reason, we cannot rely on assistance form law enforcement. Our lives are in danger. We are desperately looking for a way to escape from this vicious fundamentalist Islamist group with our lives.
This frightening experience is not unique to us. Anyone who protested the attacks on Avijit Roy and his wife and demanded justice for them is now consumed with fear. Many have stopped writing. The extremists groups have been spreading their propaganda for a while now, and they have succeeded in planting the inaccurate notion that freethinkers are the most dangerous elements of society who seek to destroy religion, in the minds of the ordinary Muslims. The phenomenon is not unlike the atrocious witch-hunts, which took place from the 14th century to the 17th century. At that time, around 6 million people, mostly women, were accused of practicing witchcraft, and executed by being burned alive, according to Maria Mies's book, Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale. Most of those who were accused of being witches were rich in wisdom and knowledge about the science of logic and rationalism. They were ardent protestors of lawlessness and disorder in the society.
One must wonder why the ordinary people allowed the murder of such a large number of innocent women to occur. The reason was that the perpetrators of the executions convinced the people that these women were not humans but witches. They preached that the women are possessed by the devil and that they are dangerous to society. The ordinary people of that time were ignorant and scared of the supernatural and so fell into the trap set out by these murderers, and mass hysteria ensued.
The general public in Bangladesh has adopted a role of inaction regarding the issues of the murder and the persecution of bloggers. They are confused because many of them do not understand what blogging means. The extremists saw this as an opportunity and seized it. They selectively killed bloggers whose views were controversial, and who gave precedence to the topic of religion in their writings. They are doing this to spread misconceptions among the ordinary people. They are using religion as a tool to silence the voices of protest. Moments after a blogger is killed, the extremists distribute some of the most disputed articles written by the slain blogger among the people. They use these articles to justify the murders to the people and also to spread a highly skewed view of what the blogger wrote about. But if the ordinary people read all of the blogs written by them, they would see that the blogger addressed various other issues in their blogs as well. They would realize that the murder was an extremely tragic and unjustifiable crime and that they need speak out against it.
"Why are they hunting bloggers?" one might ask. The bloggers are targeted because they have become the loudest voice for the people of the country. They freely discuss a wide variety of topics and offer critiques. They blatantly point out the nation's mistakes. They promote conversations that bring to light various issues that need to be addressed. This poses a dire threat to these extremist groups. They wish to keep the people uninformed so that they may pull the strings and control the nation. They need to protect their lies and hypocrisies from exposure. They also know that the bloggers are harmless and make easy targets, because the only way they can retaliate is with words.
Since none of the murderers have so far been brought to justice, they are now fearless and going to carry on. They have achieved their goal of silencing their critiques by threatening them with death.
The situation now is beyond anybody's control. These groups of extremists have gotten so powerful that they are murdering people in broad daylight and getting away with it, and nobody is capable or willing to resist them.
Article has been translated from Bangla to English by Riasat Ahsan
As sectarian conflict rages among Muslims, and Arab states continue to abuse human rights, Jordan turned to the old trope of blaming Israel for the violence roiling the Middle East.
At the UN General Assembly debate on "Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism" held on April 21, 2015, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, Nasser Judeh, said that Israel is to blame for the spread of terrorist groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Shabab.
He told the General Assembly: "In the Middle East, failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a cause of the spread of terrorism."
"Since our last debate, the chaos in our region has only grown worse. Another nation state has been overrun by radical extremists. First Syria, then Iraq, then Libya, and now Yemen. The extreme elements in our region have displayed a level of barbarism that is shocking even by Middle Eastern standards.
The situation has become so dire that - in a rare display of unity - the Arab leaders have joined forces. It should come as no surprise that they have lashed out with little regard for the consequences. The Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen have hit humanitarian aid convoys, hospitals, schools, and civilian neighborhoods, and left entire families dead.
And yet there have been zero Human Rights Council condemnations and zero calls for a Commission of Inquiry. If Jane Austen were writing about the United Nations today, her book could be called Pride and Prejudice, but a more fitting title would be Hypocrisy and Double Standard...
The truth of the matter is that when Israel is at the heart of a crisis, the Arabs don't miss a beat. But when fingers can't be pointed at Israel, some Arab nations are downright heartless...
Make no mistake; Israel's battle today will determine how we all live tomorrow."
April 21, 2015
"Coming in the context of this 70th Yom HaShoah, the statement by Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC): '...I have come to the conclusion that the jurisdictional basis for opening a preliminary examination into this situation [the crimes of ISIS] is too narrow at this stage' - is a betrayal of the ICC's original aspiration to follow the historic example of the 1945-46 Nuremberg Tribunal.
The politicization of the ICC has added to the emptiness of the 'Never Again' catch-phrase, compounded by the 'ever again' fear of the 'G-word' (Genocide) political and financial repercussions...
We still have a window to ban financing, recruiting, arming, glorifying the Nazis' heirs. We must strive to isolate and quarantine the Jihadist epidemic, so that there may be no need for Nuremberg after it is all over – although, as we already should know, it will never be totally over."
Religious leaders gathered at a conference held on April 18, 2015 on the sidelines of the regular meetings of the United Nations. The meeting was sponsored by Sponsored by the Global Strategic Alliance, the Eng Aja Eze Foundation and the National Israel Hispanic Coalition.
Entitled "The Persecution of Christians Globally: A Threat to International Peace and Security", a series of speakers called for increased UN action to protect Christians from state-sanctioned oppression and from terrorist atrocities.
One such speaker was Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations. Urging the world body to address the global threats to Christians, Auza stated: "Christians have been specifically targeted. As a 2014 Pew Research Center report on religious hostilities across the world documented, brutal attacks on people of faith happen to Christians more than to any other religious group. Between 2006 and 2012, Christians were targeted through harassment, persecution or martyrdom in 151 out of 193 Members States of the United Nations. This points to a collective failure of this international organization, whose primary objective is to spare peoples and nations from the scourge of violence and unjust aggressions."
As the International Criminal Court (ICC) conducts a preliminary investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes, Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has declared that the ICC will not investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity, including alleged genocide, committed by ISIS. In a statement released on April 8, 2015, Bensouda said that the ICC lacked jurisdiction over ISIS because (a) neither Syria nor Iraq, the sites of ISIS's atrocities, have accepted ICC jurisdiction, and (b) the thousands of foreign nationals belonging to ISIS from states that have accepted ICC jurisdiction don't count.
In Bensouda's words:
1. "Crimes of unspeakable cruelty have been reported... Syria and Iraq are not Parties to the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court .Therefore, the Court has no territorial jurisdiction over crimes committed on their soil..."
2. "Several thousand foreign fighters have joined the ranks of ISIS in the past months alone, including significant numbers of State Party nationals from, inter alia, Tunisia, Jordan, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Australia. Some of these individuals may have been involved in the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes. A few have publicised their heinous acts through social media. The information available to the Office also indicates that ISIS is a military and political organisation primarily led by nationals of Iraq and Syria. Thus, at this stage, the prospects of my Office investigating and prosecuting those most responsible, within the leadership of ISIS, appear limited."
Bensouda concluded: "In this context, I have come to the conclusion that the jurisdictional basis for opening a preliminary examination into this situation is too narrow at this stage..."
To repeat: the war crimes of "unspeakable cruelty" committed by ISIS are "too narrow" for the International Criminal Court!
ISIS could come before the ICC if the case was referred by the Security Council. But that would endanger Syria's Assad - protected by Russia and China at the Security Council - as the conflict would be considered more generally.
April 20, 2015
"An explosive device was detonated outside the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza City overnight, without causing any injuries, U.N. and Palestinian security sources said late Saturday.
'A bomb exploded near the outer wall of U.N.RWA's headquarters in Gaza, some 10 meters from the gate, without causing any injuries or damage,' agency spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna told AFP.
The Hamas-run security forces also confirmed the blast, saying they had opened an inquiry after 'two homemade bombs' exploded, one outside UNRWA and a second elsewhere in the city, causing slight damage but no injuries...
Such explosions take place on a regular basis in Gaza, often targeting political officials, whether representatives of president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party or the rival Hamas movement which is still the de facto power in Gaza."
Three men accused of being agents of the Syrian government have been executed in a shocking new video, Islamic State has claimed.
The barbaric footage, released earlier today, shows the men kneeling in the middle of a dusty road in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, as a militant brandishing a sharpened sword stands behind them.
It comes just one day after the extremist group claim to have shot and beheaded more than 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya.
The new eight-minute video shows the men - wearing orange Guantanamo-style jumpsuits with their hands and feet in chains - sitting in a dirty, underground room.
After giving information about each of the prisoners in Arabic, the men are blindfolded and filmed in the back of a moving van while an ISIS militant decked in black guards over them.
When the van stops, the barefoot captives are escorted out and begin to march slowly down an abandoned street, surrounded by fighters holding guns.
The professionally-shot film pans the scene - showing buildings irreparably damaged by bombing - before phasing into a picture of the executioner's sword being sharpened before the brutal executions.
One by one the prisoners are beheaded by a fighter, who is dressed completely in black and unidentifiable. Their bodies are left on the road.
Initial reports suggested the extremist group targeted the men because they worked for the Syrian regime.
But they did not confirm who the men - thought to be aged between 35 and 45 - were or when the execution took place.