Resources updated between Monday, November 14, 2016 and Sunday, November 20, 2016
November 18, 2016
November 17, 2016
A 25-year old British tourist who reported a gang-rape while visiting the United Arab Emirates has been arrested and charged with "extramarital sex."
The U.K.-based group Detained in Dubai told British newspapers this week that a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was detained last month after telling police that two men raped her in a hotel. The victim is out on bail, but her passport was taken and she owes nearly $30,000 in legal fees.
"They have taken her passport as lawyers thrash it out," a family friend told The Sun on Monday. "She is staying with an English family but she is absolutely terrified. She went to the police as the victim as one of the worst ordeals imaginable, but she is being treated as the criminal. Police regularly fail to differentiate between consensual intercourse and violent rape. Victims go to them expecting justice, and end up being prosecuted."
The woman claims that two British men, who have since left the country), took turns raping her while the other used recording equipment.
The U.K. Independent contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for comment Wednesday and was told that officials are aware of the case and providing the woman with support. The spokesman said officials are also in contact with UAE authorities.
"The horrible case at hand shows that it is still not safe for victims to report these crimes to the police without the risk of suffering a double punishment," Radha Stirling, the founder and director of Detained in Dubai, told the newspaper.
Three Christians in Iran have been sentenced to 80 lashes by a Sharia court after they were found guilty of blasphemy for drinking holy communion wine.
Yaser Mosibzadeh, Saheb Fadayee and Mohammed Reza Omidi, also known as Youhan, are due to be flogged in public after they were arrested at a house church gathering in Rasht in May.
The trio spent weeks in prison before they were finally released on bail, but they will now have to face the cruel and degrading punishment after they were guilty by Islamist judges.
The three men are Christian converts from Muslim backgrounds, and the sentence reflects the state's hard-line refusal to recognise the right of Muslims to change their religion.
It is not illegal for Christians to drink alcohol in Iran but under Sharia law, Muslims are forbidden from drinking and it is illegal for Muslims to convert to another religion.
Security agents also raided the home of their pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and his wife Fatemeh Pasandideh and arrested them at the same time, but the couple were not jailed.
The men are appealing against the verdict, but they also face more serious charges of 'action against national security', along with Pastor Nadarkhani.
They are due to be sentenced at a later date.
Iran stepped up its crackdown on Christian activists in 2015, and at least 108 Christians have been rounded up by police in the last year alone, with as many as ninety prisoners currently languishing in jail for their faith.
Many Christian prisoners have been beaten and abused, and some have been threatened with death, according to Christian charity Release International.
There is a cure for the hysteria gripping foreign capitals and diplomatic salons after a Trump win: soul-searching. For the explanation of why Americans demanded a fresh start can be found as much in the chambers of international diplomacy as it can in Washington corridors.
The United Nations provides a useful vantage point by which to understand the Trump phenomenon.
On September 5, 2016, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein claimed there were similarities between Donald Trump and ISIS. He labeled Trump a "populist" and opined "the propaganda of Da'esh uses tactics similar to those of the populists." On October 12, 2016 al-Hussein directly weighed into the U.S. elections and told reporters, if elected, Donald Trump "would be dangerous from an international point of view." Evidently, it never occurred to a Jordanian prince that most American listeners would wonder first about his qualifications to lecture them on freedom of speech, democracy and human rights.
If Americans had been looking for human rights guidance from the United Nations, however, they would have encountered other impediments.
In late October, the UN General Assembly elected Saudi Arabia to the UN's top human rights body, the Human Rights Council. Iran is an elected member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Sudan supervises NGO applications for UN-accreditation and participatory rights from its berth as Vice-Chair of the UN's Committee on NGO's. Is a disconnect between multilateral authority figures and the chosen standard-bearer of American values really so difficult to figure out?
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also made a steady stream of veiled swipes at the Republican candidate and his party's platform over the course of the campaign. Speaking about climate change on May 18, 2016 at a US campus commencement address, he ordered students: "Don't vote for politicians who deny the problem." On September 20, 2016 he told the General Assembly: "I say to political leaders and candidates: do not engage in the cynical and dangerous political math that says you add votes by dividing people and multiplying fear. The world must stand up against lies and distortions of truth..."
But Americans know the facts intrude. UN peacekeepers who arrived in Haiti in 2010 gave the population cholera, killed ten thousand people and sickened hundreds of thousands more. Ban's response has been to deny the problem: circle the wagons, claim diplomatic immunity, and deny scientifically-proven culpability and reparations. Moreover, throughout the Secretary-General's tenure he has propagated the cynical fiction of zero tolerance of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, while presiding over a culture of impunity for repeated violations of the world's most vulnerable women.
And then there is Ban Ki-moon's failure to stand up against dangerous distortions about terrorism. The UN has never been able to define terrorism because the 56 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation insist on a distinction between terrorism and armed struggle against "foreign occupation and colonial or alien domination."
So Ban published a "plan of action" in December 2015 that changed the jargon to "countering violent extremism" and played to his audience. His prevention strategy begins: "Definitions of "terrorism" and "violent extremism" are the prerogative of Member States... [T]his Plan of Action pursues a practical approach to preventing violent extremism, without venturing to address questions of definition."
The world's leading multilateral institution, headquartered just minutes away from 9/11's Ground Zero, still cannot define terrorism, and instead is flogging a plan to solve a scourge it cannot identify because of political correctness. It ought not to have been a surprise that Americans turned elsewhere for leadership counseling.
There are other ways to make sense of the American election without succumbing to the hyperbole being flung around the globe about xenophobia.
Serious evaluations of such accusations require a major dose of Realpolitik. Take, for instance, the wild unsubstantiated claims about Trump and his team's antisemitism being made by the Washington-based Anti-Defamation League. The head of the ADL served for over three years, until the end of 2014, in Obama's White House as a Special Assistant to the President. He's a partisan, period.
French Ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, tweeted immediately following the election on November 9, 2016: "The world is collapsing before our eyes." That is precisely the kind of unhinged nonsense that Americans just tuned out.
After eight years of President Obama, where is "the world"? Sanctions against Iran – the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism – are in ruins and, despite militarization, the country has been granted a right to enrich uranium. Nuclear proliferation is underway. Four-hundred thousand are dead in Syria. Refugee flows are fueling serious instability. Islamist radicalization is on the ascendance. Russia and China are territorially on the march. North Korea is becoming increasingly belligerent. Turkish democratization has been set back decades. Hilary Clinton was Obama's Secretary of State through half of all this, and in effect, was an Obama third term. To ordinary Americans, not international elites, this looked like a world collapsing already.
Watching Europeans and the United Nations wish for more of the same, Americans might begin to suspect that the world wants an American president to fail. If not, now would be a good time to work with President Trump to succeed, for when America wins so does international peace and security, democracy and human rights.
November 16, 2016
"Russia says it will withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) under a directive signed by President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the ICC had 'failed to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal,' in a statement released Wednesday.
It described the ICC as 'ineffective,' adding that 'during the 14 years of the court's work it passed only four sentences having spent over a billion dollars.'
Russia also criticized the court's handling of the country's five-day conflict with neighboring Georgia in 2008, saying 'we can hardly trust the ICC in such a situation.'...
The announcement comes days after the ICC published a damning verdict on Russia's actions in neighboring Crimea.
The ICC said in a report released Monday that 'the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol factually amounts to an ongoing state of occupation.'...
President Putin's directive also follows suggestions from French President Francois Hollande last month that Moscow was guilty of war crimes in Syria..."
November 15, 2016
November 14, 2016