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Resources updated between Monday, January 26, 2015 and Sunday, February 01, 2015

January 31, 2015

The UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, in charge of granting NGOs UN-accreditation, is currently meeting in New York. UN NGO status allows NGOs to participate in UN meetings, and can include circulating documents on the official UN website and speaking rights.

The UN NGO body that accredits NGOs includes countries infamous for NGO harassment and intimidation: China, Cuba, Iran, Mauritania, Russia, Pakistan, Sudan and Venezuela. They frequently manage to derail many applications of western NGOs.

On January 29, 2015 the Committee reviewed an application from the WARBE Development Foundation, based in Bangladesh and co-founded by the European Union. The organization is working "to improve the lives of those migrating" and "ease the suffering of victims of exploitation". Iran, the Committee's newly-elected Vice-Chair, responded to the application by asking a question "about the way the organization elects its members." As a result, the decision on UN accreditation was postponed.

China blocked decision on the Coordination of Associations and People for Freedom of Conscience, a French-based NGO on the grounds that the organization has "a surplus" and China wanted to know what it is being used for. China also blocked decision on the Advocates for International Development, an NGO from the United Kingdom and demanded it "use the correct United Nations terminology for Taiwan Province of China."

Further, Cuba blocked the application of the United States-based Center for Media and Peace Initiative. The Center is working on "the promotion of conflict-resolving media practice around the world primarily through training of media professionals." Cuba postponed the Center's application by asking questions on "courses held by the Center in Sierra Leone" and on a "Seminar on women in media."

Cuba blocks UN accreditation of US-based Center for Media and Peace Initiative Document

January 30, 2015

U.S. Congress

On January 29, 2015 seventy five U.S. senators sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the Palestinian Authority effort to use the International Criminal Court to charge Israel with war crimes. The bipartisan letter places further financial assistance to the Palestinians on hold until the Senate hears from the executive branch about the implications of the Palestinians joining the ICC in light of US law.

Senators Waiting on Palestinian Aid Pending Review of ICC Moves Article

January 29, 2015

Sarah Attar was the first ever female Saudi athlete to compete at the Olympics on the track at London 2012

"Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia wants to see men and women compete in separate Olympics with a controversial proposal to joint-host segregated games. An official from the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee floated the idea of male athletes competing in his country while a female games would be held in neighbouring Bahrain. Prince Fahad bin Jalawi Al Saud, an international relations consultant to the president of the Saudi committee, told French sports website Frances Jeux that he could see the country bidding for the Olympics with another Gulf state."

No women allowed: Saudi Arabia wants MEN-ONLY Olympics with ultra-conservative plan for segregated games Document

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah

A Kuwaiti defense lawyer says an appeals court has upheld a ruling against a Twitter user and ordered him jailed for five years over comments he posted online deemed insulting to the ruler of the Gulf nation.

Attorney Fahad al-Harbi said Thursday that the court determined that Abdulaziz al-Mutairi had insulted the country's hereditary emir in comments made on the social media platform. He says the tweets were made in 2012.

Al-Harbi says his client will continue to contest the ruling through the courts.

Kuwait has the most freewheeling political scene among the oil-rich Gulf Arab states, but insulting the emir remains illegal. The country has brought charges against several people in recent years over social media posts deemed offensive by authorities.

Kuwaiti Appeals Court Jails Man for 5 Years Over Twitter Comments Deemed Insulting to Ruler Document

Mansour Mirlouhi hanged publicly today four weeks after he was arrested.

Two men were executed in Iran today. One of them was hanged publicly in central Iran four weeks after he was arrested.

Two prisoners were hanged in two different Iranian cities today, reported the Iranian state media.

Mansour Mirlouhi hanged publicly today four weeks after he was arrested.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA reported that a man was hanged in public early this morning in the town of Golpayegan (Central Iran). Several thousand people were gathered at the scene of the public executions. The man who was identified as Mansour Mirlouhi (43) was charged with Moharebeh (Waging war against God) and "Corruption on earth" for participation in several episodes of armed robbery and two armed clashes in Khomein and Golpayegan resulting in death of three security forces and two civilians, said the report.

According to the report Mirlouhi was arrested on 1. January 2015 and sentenced to death on January 24 by section one of Isfahan Revolution Court. His death sentence was approved by the Supreme Court two days later on January 26 and he was hanged publicly two days after that, on January 28.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) strongly condemns today's public execution and Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson og IHR said: " Beside the inhumane and degrading punishment of public execution, lack of due process is another serious violation of human rights in this case. The whole judicial process leading to the man's execution lasted less than four weeks. Unfortunately lack of due process is not uncommon in Iran".

The state run Iranian news agency Fars reported about another execution in Tehran today. The prisoner was identified as "Ali Kamalvand" and was sentenced to 74 lashes for stealing and three times execution for three rapes, said the report. The charges haven't been confirmed by independent sources.

Man Publicly Executed Four Weeks After His Arrest Document

Palestinians stand next to burning tires outside the headquarters of the UN Special Coordinator in Gaza City on January 28, 2015.

"Dozens of Palestinians attacked a UN compound in Gaza City on Wednesday, protesting the halting of aid due to a shortfall of funding from donor countries. The rioters jumped over the compound's walls and smashed guard cabins and windows, burned tires and threw stones."

Palestinians Attack Gaza UN Compound After Aid Suspended Article

January 27, 2015

Forouzandeh Vadiati of Iran, new Vice-Chair of the UN Committee on NGOs

On January 26, 2014 the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, in charge of granting NGOs UN-accreditation, elected Iran as its vice-chair. UN accreditation or "consultative status" provides NGOs with real benefits, such as attending international conferences and events, making written and oral statements, organizing side events, entering UN premises, and having opportunities to network and lobby.

However, the very UN NGO body that accredits NGOs now includes numerous countries infamous for NGO harassment and intimidation such as China, Cuba, Iran, Mauritania, Russia, Pakistan, Sudan and Venezuela. In the past, the worst abusers like China and Sudan have frequently managed to derail many applications of western NGOs.

This is how the new vice chair Iran treats non-governmental organizations at home, according to the State's Department most recent report on human rights in Iran:

    "The government restricted the work of human rights groups and activists and often responded to their inquiries and reports with harassment, arrests, and monitoring of individual activists and organization workplaces. The government restricted the operations of and did not cooperate with local or international human rights NGOs investigating alleged violations of human rights. By law NGOs must register with the Interior Ministry and apply for permission to receive foreign grants. Independent human rights groups and other NGOs faced continued harassment because of their activism as well as the threat of closure by government officials following prolonged and often arbitrary delays in obtaining official registration... Human rights activists reported receiving intimidating telephone calls and threats of blackmail from unidentified law enforcement and government officials... Courts routinely suspended sentences of human rights activists. This form of sentencing acted as de facto probation, leaving open the option for authorities to arbitrarily arrest or imprison individuals later...human rights defenders reported arrests without a warrant, denial of access to legal counsel of their choice, and physical and psychological duress during interrogations for the purpose of soliciting signed and televised confessions. These human rights defenders also reported being held in solitary confinement for periods ranging from one day to almost one year, unfair trials, and, in some cases, severe physical torture, including rape, electrical shocks, hanging by hands or arms, and/or forced body contortion... The government continued to imprison lawyers and others affiliated with the DHRC [Defenders of Human Rights Center]...The government denied all requests from international human rights NGOs to establish offices in or conduct regular investigative visits to the country."

Iran, where NGOs go to die, elected Vice-Chair of UN Committee on NGOs Article

January 26, 2015

Protesters at a rally in support of the editor-in-chief of the magazine Adam Bol, who began a hunger strike to protest the shutdown of the magazine and arrest of journalists

Kazakh journalists arrested over protest Document

Yukiya Amano, IAEA Director-General

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in Jakarta, Indonesia, on January 23, 2015: "As far as Iran is concerned, the Agency is able to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared to us by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. But we are not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."

IAEA Cannot Conclude that All Nuclear Material in Iran Is in Peaceful Activities Article