Resources updated between Monday, March 28, 2016 and Sunday, April 03, 2016
April 3, 2016
Saudi Arabia has already executed 82 people this year and is on course to behead twice as many prisoners as it did in 2015, according to new statistics compiled by a leading human rights organisation likely to raise fresh concerns about the UK's close ties to the Kingdom.
The British Government has been urged to do more to put pressure on its Gulf allies to halt the bloodshed in light of the figures, which would see the total death toll in Saudi Arabia reach a record high of more than 320 by the end of the year if the current rate is maintained.
This would be more than double the 158 executions carried out by the Kingdom last year, which was in itself a dramatic rise on the 88 people it beheaded in 2014. The figures were compiled by the UK organisation Reprieve using a combination of official statements from the Saudi government and reliable local media reports.
Earlier this week, the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon paid a low-key visit to Saudi Arabiato "help strengthen the UK-Saudi defence relationship", meeting Crown Prince Muhammad bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the minister of interior who is in charge of ordering executions. Days later, at least two more prisoners were beheaded.
During his trip Mr Fallon also met Saudi defence minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz and other members of the Saudi Royal family. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said he had "reiterated the importance of working together to deal with global threats, including countering the poisonous ideology of Daesh and regional instability".
However, it did not say whether Mr Fallon had raised the subject of executions with the interior minister. Human rights groups are increasingly concerned about the fates of Ali al Nimr, Dawoud al Marhoon and Abdullah al Zaher, who have all been sentenced to death by the Saudis despite being children at the time of their alleged crimes. All three were convicted for alleged offences connected to protests calling for reform in the Kingdom and could be executed at any time without warning.
"As Saudi Arabia looks set for yet another record breaking year of beheadings, it is more important than ever that its allies in the UK, Europe and the US call for it to stop," said Harriet McCulloch, deputy director of the death penalty team at Reprieve.
"The deep injustices of the Saudi system mean that those being sent to the swordsman's blade are in many cases tortured into 'confessing', guilty of nothing more than calling peacefully for reform, or even sentenced to death as children. The UK and US must immediately call for Ali, Dawoud and Abdullah's sentences to be commuted before it is too late – given the rising tide of beheadings, vague reassurances are not enough."
A Government spokesperson said: "The Defence Secretary visited Saudi Arabia to discuss a range of regional issues. The UK is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances and we make our views well known to Saudi Arabia. We have raised these particular cases at the highest levels and will continue to do so. Our expectation remains that the three individuals will not be executed."
Nearly a week after recapturing Palmyra from ISIS, Syrian forces say they're uncovering grim evidence of how the Islamist terror group conducted its 10-month occupation of the ancient city.
The liberating forces found a mass grave with at least 40 bodies -- many of whom were women and children -- in the northeastern part of Palmyra this week, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
The dead are believed to have been among hundreds killed by ISIS after it stormed into the central Syrian city in May, SANA reported. Some of the remains show signs of beheading and torture, SANA said.
The Syrian army and militias loyal to the regime seized the city and chased out ISIS fighters on March 27, state-run media said. Since then, the government has been trying to assess the death and destruction that the group left behind.
Palmyra, in the Homs countryside northeast of Damascus, is a place of ancient ruins that are considered to be among the world's most treasured, and is recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site.
ISIS demolished some of the ruins, including the 1,800-year-old Arch of Triumph and the nearly 2,000-year-old Temple of Baalshamin. ISIS also beheaded the antiquities expert who looked after the ruins.
Palmyra was a caravan oasis when Romans overtook it in the mid-first century. In the centuries that followed, the area "stood at the crossroads of several civilizations" with its art and architecture mixing Greek, Roman and Persian influences, according to UNESCO, the U.N. agency that documents the world's most important cultural and natural sites.
Syrian government forces have been battling militant groups including ISIS in a five-year war that has torn the country apart. The war has killed more than 250,000 people, left 1 million injured and displaced millions since the bloodshed began in 2011, according to the United Nations.
An advocacy group has released horrifying details of how at least 98 Central African Republic (CAR) girls were allegedly sexually abused by international peacekeepers.
The report was released by AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization, on Wednesday. The group said that MINUSCA, the UN's peacekeeping mission in CAR, met with local leaders and victims "who reported that troops from France and Gabon have sexually abused several girls in their province."
The group cited three CAR girls who said that they, along with a fourth girl, were raped by UN peacekeepers.
The girls said they "were tied up and undressed inside a camp by a military commander from the Sangaris force (the French military intervention in CAR) and forced to have sex with a dog," the group wrote.
After the rape, each girl was reportedly given 5,000 Central African Francs ($9).
"The three girls interviewed sought basic medical treatment. The fourth girl later died of an unknown disease. One of the survivors said that she was called 'the Sangaris' dog' by people in the community."
According to the group, the alleged perpetrators "left CAR, returning home in 2015."
Also the organization mentions one more case of a 16-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by a Congolese UN peacekeeper.
The girl's mother told police that the peacekeeper "raped her daughter in a hotel room at 4pm on Monday, March 28, 2016."
"When police questioned the accused in the presence of his UN military commander, the soldier confirmed that he 'had sexual intercourse' with the victim several times, and paid her between 2,000 and 3,000 Central African Francs [$3-5dollars]."
The report was sent directly to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who immediately issued a response, expressing his horror.
"I am shocked to the core by the latest allegations of abuse by international forces in the Central African Republic. Our focus must be on the victims and their families. We are talking about women and young children who have been traumatized in the worst imaginable way," Ban said in a statement, released by UN.
He added that these crimes by UN peacekeepers "only fester in silence."
"Yet, we must face the fact that a number of troops who were sent to protect people instead acted with hearts of darkness."
Earlier in March the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) said it received new allegations which refer to incidents which occurred in 2014 and 2015 in the Kemo prefecture of the CAR.
The UN investigation into "these sickening allegations, which suggest sexual abuse and exploitation of a large number of women and girls, must leave no stone unturned," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
"We are taking these allegations – some of which are particularly odious – extremely seriously. It is vital that the victims are protected and receive all necessary care," he said.
The United Nations currently has 106,000 troops and police serving in 16 peacekeeping missions.
April 1, 2016
March 31, 2016
March 30, 2016
March 29, 2016
According to the United Nations, the most evil country in the world today is Israel.
On March 24, 2016, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) wrapped up its annual meeting in New York by condemning only one country for violating women's rights anywhere on the planet – Israel, for violating the rights of Palestinian women.
On the same day, the UN Human Rights Council concluded its month-long session in Geneva by condemning Israel five times more than any other of the 192 UN member states.
There were five Council resolutions on Israel. One each on the likes of hellish Syria, North Korea and Iran. Libya got an offer of "technical assistance." And countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and China were among the 95% of states that were never mentioned.
No slander is deemed too vile for the UN rights bodies that routinely listen to highly orchestrated Palestinian versions of the ancient blood libel against the Jews.
In Geneva, Palestinian representative Ibrahim Khraishi told the Council on March 24, 2016: "Israeli soldiers and settlers kill Palestinian children. They shoot them dead. They will leave them to bleed to death." And in New York, Palestinian representative Haifa Al-Agha told CSW on March 16, 2016: "Israel...is directing its military machinery against women and girls. They are killing them, injuring them, and leaving them bleeding to death."
Operating hand-in-glove with governments and the UN secretariat are the unelected, sanctimonious NGOs, to which the UN offers free facilities and daily advertisement of "side-events." In theory "materials containing abusive or offensive language or images are not permitted on United Nations premises."
In practice, in Geneva the UN permitted handouts that claimed Israel "saw ethnic cleansing as a necessary precondition for its existence." A film accused Israel of sexual violence against children and "trying to exterminate an entire Palestinian generation." Speeches focused on the 1948 "catastrophe" in which a "settler colonial state" was established on Palestinian land.
The New York CSW-NGO scene included a film set in in the context of Israeli "oppression" and the "tear gas of my childhood," and statements analogizing the experiences of Palestinians to today's Syrian refugees.
Picture these real-life scenes:
In Geneva's grand UN "human rights" Council chamber, 750 people assembled, pounced on the Jewish state, broadcast the spectacle online, and produced hundreds of articles and interviews in dozens of languages championing the results.
On the ground, Israelis are being hacked to death on the streets, stabbed in buses, slaughtered in synagogues, mowed down with automobiles, and shot in front of their children.
In New York's UN Headquarters, 8,100 NGO representatives gathered from all corners of the globe, in addition to government delegates, and watched the weight of the entire world of women's rights descended on only one country.
On the ground, Palestinian women are murdered and subjugated for the sake of male honor, Saudi women can't drive, Iranian women are stoned to death for so-called "adultery," Egyptian women have their genitals mutilated, Sudanese women give birth in prison with their legs shackled for being Christian.
Isn't it about time that people stopped calling the UN a harmless international salon or a bad joke?
The poison isn't simply rhetorical. One of the Council resolutions adopted last week launches a worldwide witch-hunt for companies that do business with Israel – as part of an effort to accomplish through economic strangulation what Israel's enemies have not been able to accomplish on the battlefield. The resolution casts a wide net encompassing all companies engaged in whatever the UN thinks are business "practices that disadvantage Palestinian enterprises."
And the toxicity is self-perpetuating. Acting at the beck and call of Islamic states and their conduit – French Ambassador Elizabeth Laurin, Council President Choi Kyonglim selected Michael Lynk as the newest UN "independent" human rights investigator on Israel.
Lynk's qualifications? He has likened Israelis to Nazis, and challenged the legitimacy of the state of Israel starting in 1948 as rooted in "ethnic cleansing."
All of this played out in the same week that Europe was reeling from the Belgian terror attacks. Petrified or already vanquished, no European state voted against this onslaught of UN resolutions against Israel. Germany and the United Kingdom occasionally abstained, while France voted with Arab and Islamic states on all but one Council resolution.
Here we are just 70 years after World War II and Europeans believe that they can license this vitriol against the Jewish state – the only democracy on the front lines of an Islamist war against human decency – and the consequences can be contained to the Jews.
Even as the converse stares them in the face. Two days after the Brussels attacks, Islamic states rammed through a Council resolution slyly labeled "Effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of all human rights" that was actually so anti-human rights even Belgium was forced to vote against it.
As for the United States, the Obama administration has been the Human Rights Council's most important supporter. Though the US is currently in a mandatory one-year hiatus after serving two consecutive terms, President Obama plans to bind his successor by running again in the fall for another three-year term that starts January 1, 2017.
Memo to Americans who are mad as hell: it's time to elicit a promise from our would-be leaders to refuse to sit on the UN Human Rights Council or to legitimize the United Nations.
March 28, 2016
More than 70 people, including 29 children, have been killed by a Taliban suicide bomber who targeted Christians near a children's playground in a park in Pakistan.
Some 300 people were injured when explosives packed with ball bearings ripped through crowds near the children's swings in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, in Lahore, where many had gathered to celebrate Easter.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack, adding: 'The target was Christians.'
Senior police official Haider Ashraf confirmed that the death toll had risen to 72 on Monday morning, adding the majority of the dead were Muslims.
The blast happened a few metres away from children's swings, and most of the victims are believed to be women and children.
Witnesses described children screaming as people carried the injured in their arms, while frantic relatives searched for loved ones.
The chief minister of Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif, has announced three days mourning and pledged to ensure that those involved in the attack are brought to trial.
Nasreen Bibi, the mother of a two-year-old injured in the attack, spoke through tears as she waited for news from the doctors.
'We were just here to have a nice evening and enjoy the weather. May God shower his wrath upon these attackers. What kind of people target little children in a park?'