Resources updated between Monday, October 27, 2014 and Sunday, November 02, 2014
November 1, 2014
"An Egyptian court has convicted eight men for 'inciting debauchery' following their appearance in an alleged same-sex wedding party on a Nile boat, sentencing each of them to three years in prison. "The Internet video shows two men exchanging rings and embracing among cheering friends. In September, a statement from the office of Egypt's chief prosecutor said the video clip was 'shameful to God' and 'offensive to public morals.' "Saturday's verdict is the latest in a crackdown by authorities against gays and atheists. The campaign also targets liberal and pro-democracy activists and violators of a draconian law on street protests. "The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in September that Egyptian authorities have repeatedly arrested and tortured men suspected of consensual gay conduct.
"The leader of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group Boko Haram has denied agreeing to any ceasefire with the government and said more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls all have converted to Islam and been married off.
"In a new video released late Friday night, Abubakar Shekau dashed hopes for a prisoner exchange to get the girls released.
"'The issue of the girls is long forgotten because I have long ago married them off,' he said, laughing.
"'In this war, there is no going back,' he said in the video received by The Associated Press in the same way as previous messages.
"Nigeria's chief of defense staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, on Oct. 17 announced that Boko Haram had agreed to an immediate cease-fire to end a 5-year-old insurgency that has killed thousands of people and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes in northeast Nigeria.
"But attacks and abductions have continued with the extremists this week seizing Mubi, a town of more than 200,000 people. Fighting also continued Friday in Vimtin, the nearby village where Badeh was born.
"Shekau in August announced that Boko Haram wanted to establish an Islamic caliphate, along the lines of the IS group in Syria and Iraq.
"Fleeing residents have reported that hundreds of people are being detained for infractions of the extremists' version of strict Shariah law in several towns and villages under their control.
October 30, 2014
On October 28, 2014 the UN General Assembly held an all-day American-bashing session. For the twenty-third year in a row the UN adopted a resolution submitted by Cuba entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba". The text was adopted by an overwhelming majority of 188 votes in favor, 2 against (Israel, United States), and 3 abstentions (Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau).
Before and after the vote the worst human rights abusers lined up to condemn the United States and congratulate Cuba on its "achievements".
Bolivia, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China (a total of 130 of the 193 UN states), complained about the 'inhumane" embargo which was "undermining public health" in Cuba. At the same time the "Group of 77" praised Cuba for "supplying medical assistance at an international level of highest quality."
Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, congratulated Cuba on its "fight against Ebola."
Nicaragua accused the U.S. of the "inhumane" embargo which was "the most prolonged and ruthless exercise in contemporary times."
Syria said the "inhumane" embargo has "deepened the suffering of the Cuban people" and "the fact that Israel has voted with the United States was proof that it was voting against international law."
Russia said the embargo "has a pernicious impact on the international system."
Mexico "applauded the actions of the Cuban Government."
India said the embargo "undermines multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations itself".
Vietnam praised Cuba for "attaining significant achievements."
Venezuela said the US "has become the most isolated country in the world."
Zambia complained about "untold suffering of the Cuban people."
Belarus said the embargo "resulted in the violation of human rights" while Zimbabwe complained about "great suffering" of the Cuban people.
Sudan accused the United States of pursuing "illegal and aggressive policies" against Cuba and "expressed total solidarity with Cuba."
In the end the Cuban Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, said his country would never "give up its quest for a different international order, nor cease in its struggle for 'the equilibrium of the world'."
His words were carefully chosen. "Equality" and "equal rights" among its owns citizens is not part of this Cuban government's quest.
October 29, 2014
The UN has just elected several notorious human rights abusers to serve a 3-year term on its body charged with promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms - the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The ECOSOC is one of six principal UN organs and consists of 54 UN members elected by the General Assembly. Its job is to "make or initiate studies and reports with respect to international economic, social, cultural, educational, health, and related matters" as well as "make recommendations for the purpose of promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all."
On October 29, 2014 the General Assembly held elections for 18 new members and chose such paragons of human rights as Zimbabwe (received 178 votes of 193 UN members, the same number as France and Germany), Mauritania (177 votes), Pakistan (181 votes) and Uganda (181 votes). Here are are some examples of how new ECOSOC members have been "promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all" so far.
In Zimbabwe "Security forces committed human rights abuses. The most important human rights problems remained the government's targeting for torture, abuse, arrest, and harassment of members of non-ZANU-PF [Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front] parties and civil society activists ... Executive influence and interference in the judiciary continued, and the government infringed on citizens' privacy rights ... Authorities restricted freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement. The government continued to evict citizens, invade farms, private businesses and properties, and demolish informal marketplaces. The government impeded nongovernmental organization (NGO) efforts to assist those displaced and other vulnerable populations. The government arrested, detained, prosecuted, and harassed NGO members. Government corruption remained widespread, including at the local level. Violence and discrimination against women; child abuse; trafficking of women and children; and discrimination against persons with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons, and persons with HIV/AIDS were problems." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2013, Zimbabwe)
In Mauritania "The central human rights problems were the use of torture by police to extract confessions, continuing slavery and slavery-related practices, and trafficking in persons. Other reported human rights problems included harsh prison conditions, abusive treatment in detention facilities, arbitrary arrests, and lengthy pretrial detention. Government influence over the judiciary, limits on freedom of assembly, restrictions on religious freedom for non-Muslims, and public corruption were problems... Rape was considered a serious problem... Families of the victim commonly reached an agreement with the rapist for monetary compensation...Human rights activists and lawyers reported that rape victims were stigmatized, persecuted, and even imprisoned. Domestic violence was a serious problem ... Child abuse occurred...child marriage was widespread... FGM/C [female genital mutilation/cutting] was practiced by all ethnic groups." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2013, Mauritania)
In Pakistan "The most serious human rights problems were extrajudicial and targeted killings, sectarian violence, disappearances, and torture...Harassment of journalists, censorship, and self-censorship continued....Sectarian violence and discrimination against religious minorities continued. Corruption within the government and police was a persistent problem. Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, "honor" crimes, other harmful traditional practices, abuse, and discrimination against women and girls continued to be serious problems. Child abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of children persisted. Widespread human trafficking – including forced and bonded labor – remained a serious problem. Societal discrimination against national, ethnic, and racial minorities persisted, as did discrimination based on caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status... Lack of government accountability remained a problem, and abuses often went unpunished, fostering a culture of impunity." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2013, Pakistan)
In Uganda "the state security forces (SSF) committed human rights abuses. The three most serious human rights problems in the country were a lack of respect for the integrity of the person (including unlawful killings, torture, and other abuse of suspects and detainees); restrictions on civil liberties (including freedom of assembly, the media, and association); and violence and discrimination against marginalized groups, such as women (including female genital mutilation/cutting), children, persons with disabilities, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community....Officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity... Rape remained a serious problem throughout the country...authorities did not investigate most cases... Domestic violence against women remained widespread... Child abuse remained a serious problem, particularly rape and sexual abuse of girls... Corporal punishment remained a problem in some schools and sometimes resulted in death...There were numerous reports of ritual sacrifice of children during the year." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2013, Uganda)
October 28, 2014
"She wrestles with demons. The memories of her nine-month imprisonment and the beatings and abuse she suffered at the hands of a Syrian interrogator still burn inside her. Now that she's in southern Turkey, she works as a journalist under an assumed name. And she prefers living with other women who understand the humiliation she went through. Others, as she knows only too well, suffered worse than she did under the harsh regime of Bashar al-Assad's prisons and secret detention centers.
"Rowaida Yousef, as she calls herself, used to be a math teacher and citizen journalist in Damascus. She has worked for the independent Syrian media outlet Radio Rozana since her release from Assad's jails in March. The transition has been surreal.
"When she was in prison, she says, 'I was always trying to remember what I had told them during the interrogations so my lies would remain consistent.'
"Now, she's trying to extract truths from people who are too frightened to speak it-afraid not only of the regime that imprisoned them, but for their families when they are released.
"Drawing on her own horrific firsthand experiences and what she witnessed, much of Yousef's reporting has been focused on the impact on women of the four-year-long Syrian civil war-and especially on what happens to women inside Assad's prisons.
"Yousef is trying to map the sexual abuse and rape of women detainees, which she believes has happened more in the cities of Homs and Aleppo and less in the detention centers of Damascus. In the capital, the Assad regime has been more cautious. It may be afraid it will lose the support of urban, middle-class Sunni Muslims if its henchmen there in the capital are allowed to rape at will..."
"North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seeking to erase the remaining influence of his dead uncle, executing about 10 senior Workers' Party officials on charges from graft to watching South Korean soap operas, according to an aide to a South Korean lawmaker.
br> "The deaths by shooting are part of Kim's latest round of purges, said Lim Dae Sung, a secretary to ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo who attended a briefing at the National Intelligence Service yesterday in Seoul. Kim had Jang Song Thaek, his uncle and de facto deputy, killed in December last year. Lee didn't say when the executions took place, or who the officials were.
br> "Kim, who returned to the public gaze with a cane this month after six weeks out of view, had a cyst removed from his right ankle in September or October, Lim said today. A foreign doctor invited to the isolated nation performed the surgery, Lim said by phone, adding the condition could recur due to Kim's obesity.
br> "Kim, believed to be about 30, exercises dynastic control over North Korea's 1.2 million troops and nuclear arms program, having taken over the 24 million-strong nation after his father Kim Jong Il died in December 2011. His period of seclusion prompted speculation about his health and grip on power.
br> "'Kim Jong Un is trying to establish absolute power and strengthen his regime with public punishments,' Yang Moo Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said by phone. 'However, frequent purges can create side effects...'"
October 27, 2014
"Dozens of girls and young women are being abducted by Islamic extremists in northeast Nigeria, raising doubts about an announced cease-fire and the hoped-for release of 219 schoolgirls held captive since April.
"Thirty teenage girls and boys have been kidnapped since Wednesday from villages around Mafa town, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, the local government chairman Shettima Maina told reporters.
"Escaping residents said Boko Haram insurgents abducted 80 girls and women from neighboring Adamawa state on Oct. 18.
"Older women in the group were released the following day and said the extremists kept about 40 younger women and girls, according to the residents. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by the insurgents.
"On Oct. 17, Nigeria's military announced a cease-fire had been agreed with Boko Haram. He ordered his troops to immediately comply.
"But the insurgents have launched several attacks since then and on Friday a multinational force including troops from Nigeria and Niger wrested back control of a town held by Boko Haram on the western shores of Lake Chad."