Resources updated between Monday, April 27, 2015 and Sunday, May 03, 2015
May 3, 2015
The UN held yet another Israel-bashing meeting, this time of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on May 1, 2015, at UN headquarters in New York.
And Palestinian UN representative Riyad Mansour made yet another of his blood libels. In his words: "Israeli occupying forces engage in a pattern of killing and maiming children... Israel, the occupying power, deliberately targets schools and hospitals."
Palestinian use of children as human shields, hospitals as terrorist command centers, and schools as weapons depots, somehow was omitted from his remarks.
In another of its year-round pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel meetings, the UN sponsored a "Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian people," at the UN office in Vienna on March 31 and April 1, 2015. Mohammad Shtayyeh, Senior Adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, proclaimed: "Historically, the Palestinian leadership had moved from an armed struggle from 1967 to 1988 to a strategy of peaceful negotiations for a two-State solution." Blanked out of actual history: non-stop terrorist attacks and rocket attacks by Palestinians that have cost over 1000 Israeli lives in the Second Intifada alone, and two Gaza wars with genocidal Hamas. The Palestinian Authority has refused to negotiate with Israel since April 2014.
May 2, 2015
May 1, 2015
"Those waiting for the Obama administration's much-hyped decision on whether to abandon Israel at the United Nations will have to keep waiting. Foreign Policy's Colum Lynch is reporting that the Obama administration has been pushing its European allies to postpone a vote at the UN, designed to pressure Israel over the contours of a two-state solution, until after President Obama concludes a nuclear deal with Iran...
But that's not wholly positive news. After all, if Obama wants to postpone UN action on Israel because he doesn't want to fight with the pro-Israel U.S. Congress, that suggests that the action he wants to take at the UN would anger the pro-Israel Congress. Here the prediction takes a distinctly negative turn. Were Obama planning to unequivocally support Israel at the UN, he surely needn't worry about congressional opposition...
Allowing Iran a much freer hand in the region–which, it must be conceded, Obama is already doing–would harm America's traditional allies, especially Israel...
The president seems to want to side against Israel on this issue, but believes he just doesn't have the political capital to take such a drastic step.
Yet he also doesn't want to side with Israel on the issue because he doesn't want to go on record against a peace plan that he really supports. So he doesn't want the vote to ever actually take place.
Perhaps he just wants the vote to be a looming threat to quiet Israel's opposition to the Iran deal. Whatever the case, he won't be able to put off the UN vote forever. And that's when we'll see if the president who took the extraordinary step of downgrading the U.S.-Israel military alliance while Israel was at war is also ready to downgrade the U.S.-Israel diplomatic alliance and unleash the full prejudice of the United Nations on the Jewish state."
"The United States has been privately leaning on France and other allies to hold off on pushing a measure at the U.N. Security Council that is designed to force movement on the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process at least until negotiations over Iran's nuclear program have concluded, diplomats told Foreign Policy.
The American pitch for a delay, which has not previously been reported, comes just weeks after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that he would push in a matter of 'weeks' for a new U.N. 'parameters' resolution that would set a fixed timetable for negotiating a political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has appealed to his French counterpart to put the decision off until at least after the deadline for Iran talks wraps up at the end of June, or possibly even later, after the administration has secured congressional support for the deal, according to diplomatic sources...
'The bottom line is that any resolution that has to provide for parameters for a Palestinian state has to have consensus of all council members, whether it's based on the French text or some other text," added a Security Council diplomat. "It all depends on what the Americans want and when they want to move forward.'"
A 14-year-old girl has died and her mother has been left severely injured after they were thrown off a moving bus following a sexual assault in India.
Arshdeep Kaur and her mother Shinder, were travelling from their home in Punjab, northern India, to visit relatives when a group of about half a dozen men began harassing them.
The men grabbed Arshdeep and made several attempts to 'molest' her and her mother, but instead of defending them, the bus staff joined in the sexual assault.
The incident took place on a near-empty bus near Moga, some 50 miles from the Pakistani border, in Punjab province.
Mrs Kaur, 38, daughter Arshdeep, 14, and son Akashdeep Singh, had taken the bus from their home village to visit Mrs Kaur's parents, Tribune India reports.
Shortly after boarding the bus, a group of men had surrounded mother and daughter and tried to grab both of them.
Mrs Kaur alerted the conductor about the harassment, he joined in and started abusing them both.
After fighting off her attackers, Mrs Kaur ran through the bus to tell the driver to stop the bus, but according to her testimony, he started driving faster.
The assault continued until the bus slowed down and mother and daughter could break free, however as they attempted to get off the bus, Mrs Kaur says they were pushed.
Arshdeep and Mrs Kaur both suffered serious injuries, and the 14-year-old later died in hospital.
'No one helped. They first pushed my daughter off the bus, then me,' Mrs Kaur told NDTV from her hospital bed today.
Shortly after the pair had been pushed off, the bus stopped by the roadside and the alleged perpetrators, including the conductor, cleaner and driver fled the scene.
The three could later be apprehended and police have launched an investigation into the incident.
There has a heightened sensitivity to the issue of sexual assault in India in recent weeks after officials banned a documentary about the 2012 gang rape and murder of an Indian student in Delhi.
Officials said the documentary, called India's Daughter, would cause further disorder if it was shown, following a number of protests and incidents of vigilante justice in the country.
The documentary explained the brutal rape and murder of 23-year-old student Jyoti Singh, who was attacked on a bus when she returned home from the cinema.
One of the six men convicted of the attack, bus driver Mukesh Singh, was interviewed in prison and told researchers that had Jyoti not fought back she would not have been killed.
Her death led to protests throughout India and outraged the world.
Britain Told U.N. Monitors of Active Iran Nuclear Procurement
As Iran and six world powers work to finalize a preliminary nuclear agreement that would ultimately eliminate sanctions on Iran, new evidence has been revealed which casts additional doubt that Iran can be trusted.
"Britain has informed a United Nations sanctions panel of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms, according to a confidential report by the panel seen by Reuters.
The existence of such a network could add to Western concerns over whether Tehran can be trusted to adhere to a nuclear deal due by June 30 in which it would agree to restrict sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.
Talks between six major powers and Tehran are approaching the final stages after they hammered out a preliminary agreement on April 2, with Iran committing to reduce the number of centrifuges it operates and to other long-term nuclear limitations.
'The UK government informed the Panel on 20 April 2015 that it "is aware of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network which has been associated with Iran's Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA) and Kalay Electric Company (KEC)",' the Panel of Experts said in its annual report. The panel monitors Iran's compliance with the U.N. sanctions regime.
KEC is under U.N. Security Council sanctions while TESA is under U.S. and European Union sanctions due to their suspected links to banned Iranian nuclear activities.
Iran, which is has been under sanctions for years, has a long history of illicit nuclear procurement using front companies and other methods of skirting sanctions..."
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un [BBC profile] has ordered the execution of 15 officials this year, theSouth Korean National Intelligence Service [official website] told a closed parliamentary meeting on Wednesday. These officials were allegedly executed by firing squad [BBC report] for spying. Four members of the Unhaso Orchestra are believed to be among the 15 executed [CNN report]. Two vice-ministers were also killed [Guardian report], allegedly for disagreeing with or complaining about their orders from Kim. North Korea has not confirmed these executions, but Kim has been known to "purge" his opponents before. In 2013 he put his uncle, Chang Song-thaek [BBC profile], to death along with several officials close to him.
In November UN Special Rapporteur on the situation in the People's Republic of Korea Marzuki Darusman said that there is enough evidence to hold North Korean leader Kim responsible for "massive" human rights atrocities [JURIST report] committed in the country. Also in November the UN General Assembly urged [JURIST report] the Security Council to call on the International Criminal Court [official website] to investigate the crimes. The UN has sought to investigate and counter alleged human rights abuses in North Korea in the past. The UN Human Rights Council [official website] adopted a resolution [JURIST report] last March urging the UN Security Council to take action against those responsible for documented crimes against humanity in North Korea. Last February then-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated that there can no longer be any excuses for inaction [JURIST report] in North Korea following the release of a UN report. In September 2013 the UN Human Rights Commission reported widespread human rights abuses [JURIST report] occurring in the country.
"I was asked to kill my parents on the day I was captured," said 16-year-old Babagana, a former Boko Haram child slave. "I had no courage, so they killed them in front of me."
"That is how Boko Haram operates," he told me when I saw him in March in Borno State. "They first take out your parents so you have no one else to fall back to."
This may be the most tragic fact about the fight raging in northeast Nigeria: It is a war waged by children against children. Minors make up nearly a quarter of Boko Haram's soldiers. Some recruits are as young as 10 and are inducted by raids on villages. They are brutalized and forced to commit atrocities on fellow kidnap victims and even on their own families. Militants kill children who attempt to escape from captivity.
Recently village militias have been enlisting young kids to fight against Boko Haram, as well. And the plague is spreading.
This week, the Nigerian army rescued almost 300 girls and women taken captive by Boko Haram, and even though they were not the Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped more than a year ago now, there was a great sense of pride and relief that the Nigerian Army was able to do this.
But many stories have not had such happy endings.
Last month the Chadian Army announced that it had rescued 43 children held by Boko Haram in Damask, Borno State. All had been soldiers in the Boko Haram ranks, but they were not from Nigeria.
The news of the rescue had at first given hope to local people. In March, militants abducted over 400 women and children from the same town in Borno, and I spoke with Bukkar Hassan, who had two sisters among the 400 kidnapped. He was set to travel to Damask, thinking the girls could be among the rescued kids only to be told that the lucky children were all of Chadian origin. Hassan began to weep.
For kids living in a state of constant fear, violence becomes a way of life and the psychological trauma is incalculable.
Fearing abduction, streams of children, often with parents in tow, leave their homes every night and walk for hours from surrounding villages to reach the relative safety of major towns, only to trek their way home again by daybreak.
"We're seeing a high level of suffering," says Musa Kubo, a senior government official in Nigeria's northeastern Borno State. "Thousands of people in the northeast, mostly children, are just struggling to survive."
Since the insurgency began in 2009, thousands of children have been abducted to work as child soldiers and porters, or to serve as "wives" of rebels and bear their children, like those hundreds of girls taken from Chibok school just a year ago. The numbers have soared, with nearly a thousand children abducted in the past 18 months alone.
The Nigerian military, with help from troops from Chad, Cameroon and Niger, has claimed major gains against the Islamists in recent weeks, recapturing many towns held by the insurgents, and the newly elected Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is a military man committed to eradicating the insurgency.
But the impact of the fighting and violence has caused the humanitarian situation in the area to deteriorate rapidly over the past year. And the contrast between the embattled northeast and the prosperous southern regions of the country grows more extreme all the time.
The bustling commercial capital of Lagos, located in the south, exemplifies Nigeria's transformation from a country plagued by economic decay to prosperity.
With an average GDP growth of more than 6 percent over the past 10 years, Nigeria can come across as a compelling story of hope for other African nations.
But the 6-year-old uprising by Boko Haram militants, aiming to create a hardline Islamic state, has killed more than 13,000 people since 2009 and forced some 1.5 million others-half of them children-to flee to squalid and overcrowded camps to escape wanton attacks and killings. The number of internally displaced persons has almost tripled since 2012. Attacks on soft civilian targets continue, carried out by child soldiers much younger than their victims.
The violence has, among other things, cut millions of households off from access to their farms, causing a surge in food insecurity. "We estimate that only about 20 percent of agricultural land in Borno State (the hardest-hit area) was harvested last season," U.N. Assistant Secretary General Robert Piper told AFP in an interview, pointing out that "that leaves a massive deficit."
There are dramatic rates of acute malnutrition among the displaced children in Nigeria. In some areas, including Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, malnutrition rates as high as 35 percent have been recorded among children.
Fear of militant attacks badly hit the planting season for 2014, threatening to aggravate the already severe food shortages in the coming months. In the same vein, health facilities barely function as stocks run out and health workers flee to escape Boko Haram attacks.
During one peak of conflict in the region, a high number of deaths of children were caused by bacterial infection. Children suffer from lack of clean water and can quickly contract with bacterial diseases that threaten their lives. In Borno State an outbreak of cholera was declared last September. In under a month, there have been 4,500 cases and 70 deaths from the disease in Maiduguri, where the number of cases continues to rise.
But even as the humanitarian needs increase, the security situation is making it far more difficult for aid workers to get in.
Hoping to address some of these challenges, UNICEF has launched a new social media campaign-#BringBackOurChildhood-to highlight the plight of the over 800,000 young people who are missing out on their childhoods as a result of the conflict.
"To tell the stories of the children who have fled the violence, UNICEF and leading Snapchat artists will share images based on drawings from children in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon," UNICEF said in a media release. "The artwork reflects what children miss from home and the emotional wounds and suffering they have endured, including seeing their parents and siblings killed, tortured or abducted."
The violence wracking Africa's most populous country is meanwhile sending shockwaves through the entire region.
Militants have been increasingly carrying out cross-border attacks into Cameroon, Niger, and Chad, which are also struggling to host around 200,000 Nigerian refugees.
In addition, around 100,000 Cameroonians have been displaced further inland to get away from the volatile border areas.
Despite the gravity of the humanitarian situation, less than 20 percent of the $93 million requested by the U.N. for Nigeria in 2014 was received.
This year, the organization is asking donors to cough up $100 million for its 2015 operations in the country, a figure that represents only a tenth of the country's humanitarian need, which is estimated at $1 billion.
"The government will have to foot most of that bill," said Piper, who coordinates the U.N.'s humanitarian work in Africa's Sahel region. "Nigeria [Africa's largest oil producer] is generally perceived as relatively prosperous, and it is hard to raise funds for."
Unfortunately, the "success story" that Nigeria represents in the minds of the world's economic policy makers presents a jarring contrast with the tragedy of conflict in the northeast that shows few signs of abating despite improved military efforts against Boko Haram.
As the country and its international allies continue to search for ways of reaching thousands of displaced persons in the troubled region, it remains to be seen how much can be done to protect children from grave violence and conscription.
The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court ("ICC") has told reporters that her preliminary examination of alleged Israeli war crimes - which she began in January - will be fair. Fairness, in her eyes however, means treating Israel's exercise of self-defense during the 2014 Gaza War equally with Hamas's deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians and Hamas's use of human shields.
Fatou Bensouda said she will consider the evidence "independently and impartially without fear or favour...We will of course look into the alleged crimes committed by all sides to the conflict."
"A senior United Nations aid worker has been suspended for disclosing to prosecutors an internal report on the sexual abuse of children by French peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic.
Sources close to the case said Anders Kompass passed the document to the French authorities because of the UN's failure to take action to stop the abuse. The report documented the sexual exploitation of children as young as nine by French troops stationed in the country as part of international peacekeeping efforts...
The treatment of the aid worker, who has been involved in humanitarian work for more than 30 years, has taken place with the knowledge of senior UN officials, including Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, and Susana Malcorra, chef de cabinet in the UN, according to documents relating to the case.
The abuses took place in 2014 when the UN mission in the country, Minusca, was in the process of being set up...
[T]he internal report on the sexual exploitation [is] by Paula Donovan, co-director of the advocacy group Aids Free World, who is demanding an independent commission inquiry into the UN's handling of sexual abuse by peacekeepers...
Entitled Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces and stamped 'confidential' on every page, the report details the rape and sodomy of starving and homeless young boys by French peacekeeping troops who were supposed to be protecting them at a centre for internally displaced people in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.
Donovan said: 'The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations' appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn't uncommon. The UN's instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks – ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble – must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access, top to bottom, and full subpoena power.'"
Iran is now responsible for the greatest threat of nuclear proliferation this century, but that didn't stop Iran from speaking for 119 "non-aligned" states at a UN session on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Speaking at the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons held on April 27, 2015, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated: "[T]he heads of state and government of the non-aligned movement ...express great concern over the acquisition of nuclear capability by Israel, which poses a serious and continuing threat to the security of neighboring and other states, and condemned Israel for continuing to develop and stockpile nuclear arsenals."
As world leaders struggle to respond to the threats posed by Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, the United Arab Emirates blamed Israel for the growing terrorist menace. Speaking at the first ever Security Council formal debate on violent extremism held on April 23, 2015, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, representative from the United Arab Emirates stated: "In the Middle East the unresolved and brutal conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, as well as the longstanding Israeli occupation, had led to further violence and fractured the global security order. These crises have left political vacuums, which have exacerbated extremism, leading to spill-over effects that have destabilized the entire region."
French President Francois Hollande vowed Thursday to "show no mercy" against French peacekeeping troops if they are proven to have sexually abused displaced children in the Central African Republic. But there's good reason to believe that won't happen.
For years, governments and multilateral bodies have promised to hold accountable those who abuse the world's most vulnerable - the same people they are charged with protecting. Yet reports documenting decades of abuse by peacekeepers reveal a pattern of impunity.
In 2005, when Jordan's ambassador to the United Nations presented a damning report on the prevalence of sexual abuse in peacekeeping missions around the world, the global diplomatic body agreed that it was responsible for ending the pattern of behavior.
Currently, there are 16 active U.N. peacekeeping missions deployed across the world, from Haiti and Western Sahara to Lebanon, India, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But 10 years later, although some perpetrators have been identified and charged, the epidemic of abuse shows no sign of having been stamped out. Here, then, is but a sample of some of those abuses:
Bosnia and Kosovo: In the early 2000s, human rights groups alleged that U.N. and NATO peacekeepers and police not only frequented brothels, but reportedly ran them and even help traffic women from Eastern Europe to work as prostitutes in the establishments.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Peacekeepers offered starving, orphaned girls living in makeshift camps they helped supervise eggs or other small snacks in return for sexual favors. During one investigation into allegations of abuse in DRC, used condoms were found scattered around the military camps. A U.N. stabilization force for DRC was first established in 1999, and there are still peacekeepers there today.
Haiti: U.N. peacekeeping troops have been present in Haiti in some capacity since 1994, and they returned in 2004 to aid in suppressing violence on the island nation. In 2011, a video surfaced of Uruguayan U.N. soldiers seemingly raping a Haitian teenager. In 2012, a court martial convicted three Pakistani peacekeepers serving in Haiti for sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy.
Ivory Coast: According to a 2008 BBC report, a 13-year-old girl told the news network that she was gangraped by 10 peacekeepers in a field near her home. In 2009, Save the Children conducted a poll of ten underaged children, and found that eight had exchanged sexual favors for food or housing with U.N. peacekeepers there.
Burundi: Two U.N. peacekeepers were repatriated after being accused of having sex with prostitutes, one of whom was a minor. U.N. regulations prohibit peacekeepers from patronizing sex workers.
Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone: Interviews with community members in these three neighboring countries revealed that peacekeepers had withheld medical supplies, food, and water from desperate civilians until they offered them sexual favors.
Cambodia: During a mission to Cambodia in 1992 and 1993, U.N. peacekeepers frequented brothels with such frequency that the number of prostitutes there increased from 6,000 to 25,000. This incident gained particular notoriety after a U.N. official defended the peacekeepers' behavior, saying "boys will be boys."
East Timor: Human rights groups have documented cases of abuse of children and at least 20 babies left behind by peacekeepers who impregnated local women and then left them without financial support, often ostracized from their communities.
Central African Republic: Leaked U.N. documents show that French forces serving in a peacekeeping mission in Bangui - prior to the establishment of a U.N. peacekeeping force there - sexually exploited children living in the camps for orphans and displaced civilians. They offered food and small amounts of cash in return for sex, sometimes with children as young as nine.
The allegations were leaked to the French government by a U.N. staffer. According to the Guardian, whose staff obtained a copy of the report, the abuses took place when the U.N. mission there was in the process of being set up. The U.N. employee who leaked the documents did so out of frustration at the U.N.'s failure to take action against the perpetrators, and he has since been suspended from work.
The U.N.'s secretary general's office released a statement about the report on Wednesday, saying their Bangui office on human rights "conducted a human rights investigation in late spring of 2014, following serious allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children by French military personnel." The worker who was suspended for handing the documents over to the French government breached protocol in doing so, and the U.N.'s preliminary assessment found "that such conduct does not constitute whistleblowing."
April 30, 2015
al-Raqqa province: IS executed 2 men from al-Qahtania and al-Jarnia in Raqqa countryside in the charge of "Magic", the men then have been beheaded in the presence of many civilians including children.
SOHR documented 130 people were executed by the IS since the 28th of Mar until the 29th of April/2015 in Aleppo, al-Raqqa, Der-Ezzor, al-Hasakah, Homs and Hama.
SOHR documented the execution of 92 civilians in Damascus, Hama, Aleppo, al-Hasakah, al-Raqqa, Der-Ezzor and Homs, in the charges of theft under the name of IS, Magic, Insulting Allah, dealing with regime forces and YPG, homosexual, Spying and al-Rafida), the 92 also included 46 civilians ( including 3 children and 11 women ) who were executed ( salughtered, burned or shot ) in al-Mabouja village which is inhabited by Sunni, Islamili, Alawite , in Salamia eastern countryside.
The IS also executed 24 militants from rebel and Islamic battalions, Jabhat al-Nusra, and YPG, in the charges of al-Radda, fighting the IS, attempting to escape from IS prisons, and dealing with YPG.
14 soldiers in regime forces were executed by the IS, after capturing them in different areas around Syria.
ISIS terrorists have carried out one of their most savage executions yet, smashing huge concrete blocks onto the heads of two men accused of murder.
Shocking pictures show militants lifting concrete blocks high above their heads as the condemned men lie at the side of the road with their hands tied.
Other images show the gruesome aftermath, the concrete blocks having been hurled onto their skulls.
The two men were bludgeoned to death in Nineveh province in northern Iraq after the Islamic police arrested them for robbing and killing three women.
It is known as a qisas punishment - 'eye for an eye' retribution.
In the background stand bloodthirsty armed jihadists and a baying crowd.
Images of two men being behead by Isis in a Syrian village called Jarnyah, west of Raqqa, also appeared on social media this week.
It's thought that they were executed after being accused of practicing sorcery.
The blindfolded men are seen resting their heads on a wooden block, with a huge machete resting on their necks as a crowd looks on.
April 29, 2015
"On Monday the United Nations issued a report about attacks on their facilities in Gaza during last summer's fighting between Hamas and Israel. The report's conclusion was widely reported as finding that the deaths of 44 civilians were the fault of the Israeli military. Strictly speaking that's true, as there's little doubt that the casualties at some of their facilities were killed or wounded by Israeli fire. But before the anti-Israel propaganda machine starts cranking up to denounce the Israelis as war criminals-as the Palestinians are preparing to do at the International Criminal Court-a close reading of a document that was prepared by a hostile UN reveals a far more nuanced picture of what happened in Gaza. While some of the shelters in question might have been struck in error in the heat of battle in a confusing environment, even the UN was prepared to admit that many of their institutions in Gaza were being used as arms depots by Hamas and that armed fighters were shooting at Israel in the vicinity of many of the places that were attacked. While Israel's military can't be said to be perfect, the real fault for what happened belongs to both the Hamas terrorist overlords of Gaza and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that operated the facilities.
Using their new perch as a member of UN agencies, it's likely that the Palestinian Authority will seek to get the International Criminal Court to investigate and indict Israel for war crimes in Gaza. This is a dangerous gambit for the PA because even though the UN body is biased against the Jewish state, the evidence of criminal intent or behavior is lacking. Moreover, there is ample proof of Palestinian war crimes. Indeed, every one of the thousands of Hamas missiles fired at Israeli cities and towns was a crime. As were the attempts by the Islamist group to use tunnels dug underneath the international border between Gaza and Israel to commit acts of murder and kidnapping...
There's little doubt that a breakdown of each individual incident would be portrayed in a far less negative light in a document prepared by a more neutral party. After all, the UN was largely dependent on UNRWA for the report. But if we were to accept these findings as definitive, what can't be forgotten is that the only reason there was any firing anywhere near UN facilities is that Hamas routinely used them and other buildings such as schools and hospitals to shield their efforts to shoot at Israelis. The people of Gaza as a whole, and not just those at UN buildings, were used as human shields by the terrorist movement that governs the strip, itself a war crime.
Moreover, UNRWA has a long record of allowing itself to be used by Hamas as it employed their members and showed little interest in preventing its buildings from being used the same way all other schools and humanitarian institutions were employed-as cover for Hamas fighters...
Hamas continues to view all of Israel within the 1967 lines as 'occupied territory' that must be liberated from the Jews. As long as it rules in Gaza and UNRWA is its willing accomplice, there will never be any 'place of safety' in the strip or in Israel. That is the nub of the problem, not specific Israeli decisions to fire on areas where terrorists are shooting."
"In the roster of organizations whose well-meaning objectives have been distorted by bias and prejudicial resolutions, Amnesty International (AI) stands high. For those concerned with human rights, AI is now part of the problem, not part of the solution. It has lost the treasure of a spotless reputation. The stated objective of AI is to work to protect human rights worldwide, and to mobilize the grassroots power of millions of people to effect change. Yet its members recently refused to approve a text that called on the UK government to monitor anti-Semitism closely and periodically review the security situation of Britain's Jewish population.
A majority of members at AI's annual general meeting in London on April 19, thought otherwise. By a vote of 468 to 461, they rejected a resolution to campaign against anti-Semitism, and to tackle the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Britain, whether physical or verbal, online, or in person...
[I]t displayed that for AI, the concern about anti-Semitism was less significant than other human rights issues. One might even conclude that the 468 members voting against condemning anti-Semitism might not disapprove of it or, even more, might believe that Jews have no human rights...
It is pitiful that AI should have descended so low in its partiality in Middle Eastern affairs and in its lack of genuine concern for human rights – at least for the human rights of Jews."
April 28, 2015
"When my attackers came for me in 2007, they wanted to make me a victim. But I stand tall today... My name is Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian-born British citizen gay rights activist. And I am not a victim."
Bisi Alimi tells his incredible story in on the newest Quorum video. After coming out on Nigerian television, Alimi was beaten, tortured, and almost killed. He fled his country.
Yet, he refuses to be a victim.
"These narratives don't shape me," he says. "I want to own my own story." And, as you will see, those of straight allies who have helped LGBT Africans speak in their own voices and on their own terms; of bloggers and journalists and activists; of, as he puts it, lovers, friends, sisters, and brothers.
Contrary to myths of dependence and invisibility, Alimi-who has also written for The Daily Beast insists that LGBT Africans must embrace their own agency "to choose to fall, or to rise."
Ultra-radical Islamic State insurgents have killed at least 2,154 people off the battlefield in Syria since the end of June when the group declared a caliphate in territory it controls, a Syrian human rights monitor said on Tuesday.
The killings of mostly Syrians included deaths by beheading, stoning or gunshots in non-combat situations, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, urging the United Nations Security Council to act.
"We continue in our calls to the U.N. Security Council for urgent action to stop the ongoing murder against the sons of the Syrian people despite the deafness of members to the screams of pain of the Syrian people," it said in a statement.
Islamic State, which also holds tracts of land in neighboring Iraq, is an offshoot of al Qaeda and has set up its own courts in towns and villages to administer what it describes as Islamic law before carrying out the killings.
The Observatory, which tracks the conflict using sources on the ground, said its figure included combatants, civilians and also 126 Islamic State fighters who had tried to flee the group or were accused of being spies.
It did not include several beheaded foreign journalists and a Jordanian pilot who was burnt to death by the group, so the probable figure is even higher, the Observatory's Rami Abdulrahman said. Hundreds of people believed captured by the Sunni Islamist group remain missing, he added.
One of the worst massacres was against the Sunni Muslim Sheitaat tribe which had been battling Islamic State in eastern Syria. Islamic State has killed at least 930 Sheitaat tribespeople, the Observatory said. (Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
April 27, 2015
Christians and followers of other religions in China suffered the worst abuses in a decade last year as part of a state-sponsored crackdown on dissent, according to a Christian human rights group.
The organization China Aid said the persecution of religious practitioners and human rights advocates in China increased by more than 150 percent last year.
According to its annual report released on Tuesday, 17,884 individuals were persecuted for their religious beliefs. Authorities detained nearly 3,000 dissidents and sentenced 1,274 people, compared to just 12 in 2013.
President Xi Jinping of China, widely viewed as the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) most authoritarian leader since Mao Zedong, has instituted a broad campaign to suppress all forms of dissent. China Aid said Christians are increasingly the target of this repression, as well as Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and practitioners of the Falun Gong religion.
The report estimates that there are about 70 million Christians in China split between underground house churches and state-sanctioned churches in the "Three-Self Patriotic Movement" (TSPM). And the number of followers is expected to increase. One professor at Purdue University estimates that China could become the largest Christian nation in the world by 2030.
The CCP considers the rising popularity of Christianity as a threat to its dominance, China Aid said, and has used aggressive measures to intimidate members.
"The Chinese government's persecution campaign included forced demolition of churches and crosses, the detention and imprisonment of pastors and church members on criminal charges, forcing churches into bankruptcy by confiscating church property and imposing fines, and manipulating state-run media to label house churches as 'cult' organizations," the report said.
A local police force-including 600 SWAT officers and government agents-demolished the cross last year at Salvation Church, a Christian house church in the eastern coastal city of Wenzhou. The officers attacked 14 church members on July 21 and seriously injured five, according to the report.
Zhang Shaojie, former pastor at the Nanle County Christian Church in central China, was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined after being convicted of "gathering a crowd to disrupt public order" and "fraud." Zhang mobilized his congregation to petition the government in Beijing after local authorities seized property that the church had set aside for a new building. Local officials responded by detaining some church members and barring their travel to Beijing. The Nanle church of more than 1,000 members shut down.
The CCP has also tried to subvert the Christian movement from within through a process of "sinicization" or the promotion of "Christianity with Chinese characteristics."
The TSPM, along with state religious agencies, has instructed members to attend seminars on sinicization and adopt Chinese cultural traditions into their worship practices. Church leaders are sent to "patriotic education sites" to instill loyalty to the Party.
"The sinicization of Christianity amounts to de-Christianizing the church in China and eradicating the universal nature of Christianity under the appearance of constructing a 'Christianity with Chinese characteristics,' and, in the name of prioritizing the interests of the Communist Party, usurping Christian doctrine that 'Christ is the head of Church,'" the report said.
Human rights lawyers in China have had some success in pushing back against the persecution of Christians. More than 100 Christians have been freed with their assistance or released on probation and are awaiting trial.