Resources updated between Monday, March 02, 2015 and Sunday, March 08, 2015
March 8, 2015
More than 50 people were killed and scores wounded in a series of suicide bombings in northern Nigeria on Saturday, witnesses and authorities told CNN.
The blasts occurred in Maiduguri, the capital of the tumultuous Borno state, at the city's main market, a fish market and a bus station.
Four suicide bombers -- three women and a man -- carried out the attacks, according to witnesses.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bloodshed. But the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has been behind many similar attacks in northern Nigeria and beyond, killing hundreds in recent months as part of its terrorist campaign to bring its twisted version of Sharia law to the region.
Clement Adoda, a Borno state police spokesman, said at least 54 people were killed and another 139 wounded in the suicide attacks.
Suleiman Bulunkutu said he and others involved in the rescue operation had taken about 50 bodies to the Maiduguri General Hospital morgue.
"This toll doesn't include those taken to three other hospitals," Bulunkutu said. "Therefore, the final (death) toll may be higher."
In the first blast, a woman dressed in a hijab got off a motorized rickshaw and blew herself up outside the Baga Road fish market around 11:20 a.m. (5:20 a.m. ET), fish trader Mohammed Boni said.
The next attack took place about an hour later outside Monday Market, the main one in the city, where people were lined up to go through security. Those measures -- in which people are checked for explosives and guns -- were set up because of the spate of Boko Haram attacks in the city and region.
Two women joined the female security line, one of whom "blew herself up, causing minimal casualty," said witness Abdulkarim Musa.
Then, as people gathered to help, the second woman detonated her explosives, said Musa, who was waiting outside the market in the male security line.
The third attack occurred at a bus station.
"He came in our midst near the bus station and pressed a remote device he was holding in his hand," a wounded survivor who requested anonymity for his personal safety said from Maiduguri General Hospital.
Such attacks, sadly, are nothing new for Borno State, one of those hit hardest by Boko Haram and the Nigerian military's campaign to stop them.
The terrorist group has not only bombed crowded markets but attacked churches and mosques, raided villages, and kidnapped people young and old -- most famously the more than 200 girls taken last April from a school in Chibok.
Despite prolonged efforts by human rights organizations, six Sunni men were hanged in the early morning of March 4, 2015 at Rajai Shahr Prison in Iran.
Hamed Ahmadi, Kamal Molai, Jamshid Dehghani, Jahangir Dehghani, Sedigh Mohammadi and Seyed Hadi Hosseini all belonged to the Sunni sect of Islam, which is much persecuted by the mostly Shi'a Islamic Republic of Iran.
The sister of Jamshid and Jahangir Dehghani stated to the Roozonline News Agency that the families were unexpectedly summoned by prison authorities for their last visit with their loved ones. "The call was most unexpected; no one had any idea that the executions were to be taking place right away, not even the men themselves. We were told to go to the prison for our very last visit, so we went... The men were in iron cages, with shackled hands and feet... we saw them for 10 minutes only -- from afar... We just looked at them, we could not touch them. That was our last visit."
Their families and supporters had gathered outside the prison in hopes of halting the execution, as they had also done last June. One supporter wrote on her Facebook:
March 7, 2015
A 28 year old Saudi woman has been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for indecency and speaking out to media about her subjection to a gang rape in 2006, Iranian PressTV reported Saturday.
The woman was, back in 2006, driven to a secluded area after entering the car of a student friend when she was 19 years old. There, she was raped by seven men, according to the report.
According to Saudi legislation, women must at all times be accompanied by a male family member in public. The victim was initially sentenced in court to 90 lashes for not adhering to this law; Her rapists were sentenced to five years in prison.
The sentence was appealed by the victim's lawyer. Yet instead of mitigating her sentence, the courts worsened it whilst banning her lawyer from the case and stripping him of his license under the claims that the woman committed the offense of speaking to media in addition to the indecency she was originally sentenced for, PressTV reported.
The harsh verdict has been condemned by politicians and human rights organizations.
Human Rights Watch said, according to PressTV, that the ruling both "sends victims of sexual violence the message that they should not press charges...and offers protection and impunity to perpetrators."
A driver ploughed his car into pedestrians in Jerusalem on Friday, injuring five people in an attack that further inflamed tensions a day after the Palestinians vowed to halt security co-ordination with Israel.
Israeli-Palestinian relations have been severely strained by last year's war in the Gaza Strip, violence in Jerusalem and moves by the Palestinian leadership to sue Israel for alleged war crimes.
The Palestinian threat to halt security co-ordination ramped up pressure on Israel ahead of a general election this month, although president Mahmud Abbas has pledged to negotiate with whomever the Israelis elect.
The car ramming on Friday bore the hallmarks of a series of "lone wolf" attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem last year.
"A young man rammed his car (into pedestrians), and then got out and tried to stab people," police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.
Four Israeli border guards were among those injured in the attack outside a security forces' base on the line separating west from Arab east Jerusalem.
The driver was shot and seriously wounded by a security guard at the scene, according to police.
They said the suspect, in his 20s, was a resident of Arab east Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel after it occupied the West Bank in 1967.
He was identified by relatives as Mohammed Salaymeh from the neighbourhood of Ras al-Amud.
Israel was shaken by a spate of attacks in the Holy City in October and November in which Palestinians ploughed vehicles into groups of pedestrians, killing several people.
On those occasions the attackers were shot dead at the scene.
The incidents triggered months of tensions, including violent protests, in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of a future state.
Relations worsened in December when the Palestinians submitted a UN Security Council resolution – which was voted down – calling for an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank within two years.
In January the Palestinians joined the International Criminal Court,where they plan to file a formal war crimes accusation against Israel in April, almost a year after the two sides broke off peace talks.
Israel has hit back by freezing tax revenue to Mr Abbas's Palestinian Authority, leaving the Palestinian administrative body unable to pay its workers.
On Thursday, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which dominates the PA, announced it was ending security cooperation with Israel.
The co-ordination was launched under the 1993 Oslo peace accords which led to the creation of the PA.
It is considered crucial for Israel to monitor the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and its West Bank members.
The halt to cooperation, if implemented, would force Israel to "take over full responsibility for the Palestinian people in the occupied State of Palestine, the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza," the PLO said.
It gave no time frame for ending security co-ordination.
Mr Abbas, despite vowing to continue to press the Palestinian case through the UN, signalled he was willing to resume peace talks with whichever prime minister takes office after the March 17 election.
"We ask all countries of the world to recognise the state of Palestine," he said at the PLO conference on Wednesday.
"But we want to say to the Israeli side, these recognitions do not mean in any way that we do not want to negotiate, or that we're running away from negotiations."
"Whoever" wins the Israeli election, Mr Abbas said, "or whatever his politics ... we will deal with him."
March 6, 2015
"...UNRWA has required enormous financial support from the international community-support that increases as the population served by UNRWA increases. Although UNRWA receives some resources from the U.N. regular budget, most of its funding is provided through voluntary contributions. The U.S. is the largest single-state donor to UNRWA, providing $294 million (24 percent of UNRWA contributions) to support the regular and non-regular budgets in 2013. Cumulatively, the U.S. has provided roughly $4.9 billion in contributions to UNRWA since 1950. Despite this generous support, the U.S. has been unable to address a number of concerns about UNRWA's mandate, operations, and impact...
UNRWA has failed to accomplish what should be the focus and priority of every refugee organization: the permanent resolution of the problem by either assisting refugees' return to their own country or settling them permanently in another country as quickly as possible. The Palestinian refugee problem is hardly unprecedented. In the decades preceding and following the establishment of UNRWA, there have been numerous refugee crises involving hundreds of thousands or millions of refugees who were successfully repatriated or resettled and integrated into various destination countries. Indeed, Israel absorbed over half a million Jewish refugees from Arab countries in its first three decades. Many of these efforts have been facilitated by UNHCR. The fact that the Palestinian refugee situation remains unresolved after six decades, albeit due in considerable part to the political interests of Arab countries in perpetuating the problem as a justification for their ongoing hostility toward Israel, is clear indication of UNRWA's failure..."
March 5, 2015
"At the same time as the six Sunni Kurdish prisoners were executed in Rajaishahr prison of Karaj, Iranian authorities hanged at least 8 prisoners in the Ghezelhesar prison of this city. At least 32 people have been executed in the past three days in Iran.
Iran Human Rights, March 4, 2014: According to sources Iran Human Rights (IHR) has been in contact with at least eight prisoners were executed in the Ghezelhesar prison of Karaj Wednesday morning March 4. According to this report 16 prisoners were transferred from the Unit 2 , ward 4 of Ghezelhesar prison for execution. eight of them were executed and the remaining eight haven't come back to their ward yet.
Six of the prisoners who were executed are identified as: Mohammad Khandan, Mohsen Alipour, Masoud Rasouli, Asghar Mir-Adli and Mohammad Mahmoudi. All the prisoners were convicted of drug-related charges.
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported about 15 executions in the Ghezelhesar prison of Karaj on Wednesday. Eight of these prisoners are the same as the ones reported by Iran Human Rights sources here. The remaining seven might be from the other units of the prison. According to this report 23 prisoners were scheduled to be executed in this prison on Wednesday, but eight of them were not executed.
According to Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) six prisoners have been executed in the prison of Urmia during the past two days. Two Prisoners charged with murder and sentenced to "Qesas" and four prisoners charged with drug trafficking were hanged in Orumiyeh Central Prison, from 2 to 4 March, reported KHRN.
The prisoners are identified as Bahman Baduyi and Babakhan Hatam Pour charged with murder and hanged on March 4, and Naser Tamari, Farhad Bagheri, Nihad Joulideh and Behzad Jalili all charged for drug trafficking and hanged on March 2.
None of the above mentioned executions have been announced by the official Iranian sources.
Iranian authorities implemented blinding punishment of a prisoner on Tuesday March 3."
March 4, 2015
Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, added his voice to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's concern with "parkinglotism." A tool for changing the subject from the global threat posed by Islamic extremism to a fictitious generalizable fault of Western society. He said:
"Terrorists are a small minority who do not represent any religion...Stereotyping is a real fear of Muslim communities. The recent murder of three Muslim students in North Carolina, possibly due to their faith, underlines the message that extremism is criminal and devoid of any religion."
The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) addressed the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva on March 3, 2015. Here's some of what he had to say.
(1) "...We must search to identify the root causes of Daishism, bokoharamism, parkinglotism..."
[The parking lot refers to an incident in February 2015 in which three young Muslims were killed by a gunman in North Carolina in what police said was a dispute over parking and possibly a hate crime. The incident is still under investigation.]
(2) Islamic States at UN mirror Obama administration lingo on "violent extremism" and "root causes"
"...the daunting challenge faced by the international community at the present is the rise of violent extremism....To confront it, we need an understanding of the contexts, the root causes of its manifestations....[J]uxtaposing this phenomenon to one religion or a region would be a great mistake....[T]hose roots lie in what we inherited from the previous century...Two world wars...A Cold War...Colonization...McCarthyism...[R]eligion should not be the culprit. Accusing religion as the source of extreme violence and terror is an abyss that will drown us all. This OIC position had to deal with an increasingly Islamophobic world...We must show courage to openly discuss and address sensitive issues such as limits to freedom of expression when it comes to inciting hatred and discrimination based on one's religion or belief..."
(3) Islamic States use UN "human rights" platform to demonize the Jewish state
"OIC remains seriously concerned with...mass atrocities by Israel...war crimes and even genocide...most inhuman occupation...judaization...apartheid..."
March 3, 2015
March 2, 2015
In his opening speech to the March 2015 session of the UN Human Rights Council, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights targets one country, first - the United States:
"....with alarming regularity, human rights are disregarded, and violated, sometimes to a shocking degree.... They pick and choose between rights. One Government will thoroughly support women's human rights and those of the LGBT communities, but will balk at any suggestion that those rights be extended to migrants of irregular status."
John Kerry addressed the UN Human Rights Council at the opening of its March session in Geneva. Kerry took the opportunity to voice President Obama's support for the UN body that plays a central role in demonizing Israel on the world stage and twisting human rights principles to discriminate against Israel and promote antisemitism. In his words:
"President Obama believes deeply in the mission of the Human Rights Council...He made the decision to re-engage shortly after he became President...President Obama and I support the HRC for a simple reason: We believe in its mission and its possibilities."
At the tail end of his remarks he added:
"It must be said – the HRC's obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization. It has the potential to limit the good we can accomplish."
The treatment of Israel since its inception does not "risk undermining the credibility" of the Council. It has undermined its credibility. Kerry's remarks were as disturbing as they were telling.