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Resources updated between Monday, April 28, 2014 and Sunday, May 04, 2014

May 4, 2014

Demyana Abd Al-Nour

"One year after Muslim extremists in Egypt accused her of committing blasphemy during class, a Christian teacher who suspected she would not get a fair trial remains trapped in exile. Demyana Abd Al-Nour, 25, a first-year social studies teacher at Sheikh Sultan Primary School in a village in Upper Egypt, fled the country last May, before she was formally charged with violating Article 98f of the Egyptian Criminal Code. Although human rights organizations across Egypt roundly condemned the allegations against her as false and a violation of human rights, prosecutors brought charges against Al-Nour, and the court refused to dismiss the case. Human rights groups also condemned the charges because they came at a time of widespread hostility toward Christians, with blasphemy accusations increasingly used to persecute Copts. Al-Nour's decision to flee Egypt and seek protection in France appeared to be justified when the court later refused to admit witnesses and reports demonstrating her innocence. On June 11, 2013 she was convicted and fined an exorbitant amount, 100,000 Egyptian pounds (US$14,270), far beyond her low-income family's ability to pay. Remaining in hiding as her appeals process slowly grinds through the Egyptian legal system, she is awaiting the final outcome of the judicial proceedings, said Safwat Samaan, chairman of "Nation Without Borders," a human rights and development group headquartered in Luxor, Egypt. Samaan said Al-Nour is mentally preparing herself to become a refugee if the case isn't dropped."

Christian Teacher in Exile Awaiting Appeal of Her 'Blasphemy' Case in Egypt Document

May 2, 2014

Kim Jong-un

The UN Human Rights Council is continuing to review human rights situations in various countries during its 2-week meeting currently being held in Geneva. On May 1, 2014 the human rights record of one of the worst world abusers the Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) - was reviewed. In theory, the Council "undertake[s] a universal periodic review (UPR), based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments..."

In practice, the UPR has become a place where the worst violators of human rights are commended and rights abusers present themselves as human rights champions.

The case of North Korea shows exactly how perverse the UPR process has become.

On February 17, 2014 the UN released the "Report of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea." The Commission's report documents "unspeakable atrocities" in North Korea, including crimes against humanity including murdering babies born to pregnant women caught fleeing sexual violence, and political victims forced to catch snakes and mice to feed starving babies. The Commission concluded that "the gravity, scale and nature of the violations" committed by North Korea reveal a "state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world" and which "seeks to dominate every aspect of its citizens' lives".

On May 1, 2014 during the UPR of North Korea the head of the North Korean delegation made the following statements:

    "The DPRK has consistently maintained the people-centered human rights ideas that fully guarantee dignity, equality...All people in our country under the wise leadership of Kim Jong-un and his politics of valuing people and love for people made strenuous efforts for the economic development... Innovative measures were taken for the promotion and protection of human rights... Independence and impartiality of judiciary was ensured ...The government made great efforts to bring improvement in economic improvement... We will honor our international obligations to promote human rights... There are no political prisoners in our vocabulary...The state respects religious life...Freedom of travel is fully guaranteed both in practice and in law...Regarding freedom of expression as one of the fundamental human rights the constitution provides freedom of speech, assembly, press. In the DPRK people are under protection of constitution and other laws and freely express their views...no one can restrict these rights... This review is good occasion for promoting understanding of real human rights situation in the DPRK...We will participate in the spirit of constructiveness and sincerity..."
At the same time, the UN representative of North Korea was delighted by the UN's UPR mechanism: "The UPR mechanism represents excellent means to realize human rights though genuine dialogue and cooperation and we will participate genuinely in the UPR process."

The UPR included the following praise for North Korea's horrific record from a who's who of human rights abusers:
    Turkmenistan: We welcome efforts to strengthen its legislation including in the field of promotion of child and women rights.
    Uganda: We commend them for the presentation of their report. DPRK appears to have made progress in the area of education.
    Uzbekistan: We express our gratitude for the national report. We note progress in health care, education, gender equality. We note promoting the rights of women, children.
    Zimbabwe: The DPRK introduced number of laws to enhance efforts to promote and protect human rights. It includes promotion of women and children rights.
    Angola: We note efforts to improve rights of women in the country.
    Belarus: We note achievements in the are of free medical care.
    Bolivia: We highlight institutional progress in human rights.
    China: China welcomes efforts and progress made in human rights.
    Venezuela: We commend the major progress made in the DPRK.
    Democratic Republic of the Congo: DPRK made progress in the promotion of human rights.
    Egypt: We commend in particular protection of rights of women, children.
    Iran: We commend the DPRK constructive engagement with the UPR process.
    Lao: We welcome the efforts made by the DPRK in education.
    Sudan: We have seen with satisfaction the reforms taken in the country in the area of human rights.
    Syria: We appreciate efforts to improve the living standards...We congratulate on the progress in right to education and right to health.
What comes next? On May 6, 2014 the Council will adopt a "preliminary" UPR report on North Korea. It will contain a list of "recommendations" made by states for improving North Korea's human rights record - including lots of fake "recommendations" made by like-minded countries. North Korea is free to reject or accept these suggestions - with no consequences - and their responses are recorded in the report. In September 2014 the Council will adopt the final UPR report which will contain no findings, no conclusions, and no decisions to take action on North Korea's appalling human rights situation.

Number 1 fan of UN human rights review process? North Korea's Kim Jong-un Development

May 1, 2014

The Sanjiang Church

"A massive church was razed to the ground this week in Wenzhou, a coastal Chinese city nicknamed the 'Jerusalem of the East' for its large Christian population. Local officials responsible for the demolition say the church was an illegal structure that was four times the permitted structure size. But Christian groups are concerned that the demolition signals an official campaign against religious organizations. The Sanjiang Church took 12 years and 30 million yuan ($4.7 million) to build, reports Chinese media. Its soaring spires were a symbol of worship in a city that is fifteen percent Christian. The church's demolition on Monday was preceded by a month-long standoff between supporters of the church and local authorities, with supporters occupying the church to protest its destruction. The church was originally a government-approved project under the official 'Three-Self Patriotic Movement,' a state-sanctioned Protestant church. Last September it was lauded by the local government as a model engineering project. But the official rhetoric has since changed entirely... U.S.-based Christian rights group China Aid says the faithful are worried that the church demolition could be a sign that the government is tightening its grip over the spread of Christianity in China."

China Denies Church Demolition is Persecution of Christians Document

"President Bashar al-Assad is still using chemical weapons against civilians, a scientific analysis of samples from multiple gas attacks has shown.

In the first independent testing of its kind, conducted exclusively for The Telegraph, soil samples from the scene of three recent attacks in the country were collected by trained individuals known to this news organisation and analysed by a chemical warfare expert.

Our results show sizeable and unambiguous traces of chlorine and ammonia present at the site of all three attacks...

The attacks, which in some cases used canisters marked with their chemical contents, were conducted by helicopter. In the Syrian civil war, only the regime has access to aerial power, making it now certain that the recent chemical attacks could only have been carried out by the regime, not the opposition.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a British chemical weapons expert involved in the testing, said: 'We have unequivocally proved that the regime has used chlorine and ammonia against its own civilians in the last two to three weeks'...

Several people, including children, died and hundreds were seriously wounded in the attacks.

Video footage and eye witness testimony show casualties displaying symptoms typical of chlorine gas and ammonia poisoning: sore eyes, irritated skin, difficulty breathing and a bloody foaming from the mouth."

Syria chemical weapons: the proof that Assad regime launching chlorine attacks on children Document

April 30, 2014

International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands

The Wall Street Journal reports that "the International Criminal Court (ICC) is among the 63 international agencies and treaties the Palestine Liberation Organization will seek to join amid the collapse of peace talks with Israel."

At the same time, a senior official "with the party that dominates the PLO on Tuesday denied such a move was at hand, saying the Palestinians want to avoid angering the U.S." Apparently, ratifying upwards of 63 treaties did not meet with the same concern.

The WSJ also obtained a list of 48 treaties and agencies to which the Palestinians intend to apply in addition to 21 treaties they formally applied to on April 1, 2014. In the case of the first twenty-one treaties, it was clear that only states could sign, ratify or accede.

Nevertheless, UN and officials of the other agencies acting as so-called treaty "depositories" immediately agreed that "Palestine" was entitled to join. In addition to the ICC, the WSJ reports: "the list includes the Law of the Sea and the convention on international civil aviation...the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and conventions against the use of land mines and cluster munitions."

UN officials told the WSJ that ratifying the law of the sea treaty and the convention on international civil aviation "would give Palestinians legal control over their airspace and territorial waters off Gaza." UN assurance notwithstanding, such a claim would be subject to clear dispute.

"Palestine" Moves to Join the International Criminal Court Development

Palais des Nations, home to UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland

On April 28, 2014 the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva began a 2-week meeting to review human rights situations in various countries, all on the basis of equality. The process, called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), is touted as the Council's central innovation.

In theory, the Council "undertake[s] a universal periodic review (UPR), based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments..."

In practice, the UPR is a process in which the worst violators of human rights are commended and democracies are heavily criticized - in the name of non-selectivity.

On April 28, 2014 the human rights situation in Norway was reviewed by members of the Council and any other UN member wanting to comment. Here are some of the gems from the "interactive dialogue."

    Iran was "concerned with a number of human rights issue in the country." Iran recommended Norway "Prevent, prohibit and combat hate speech, stop and combat all forms of discrimination against persons from immigrant background especially Muslims and to support the cultures of persons belonging to national minorities."
    Saudi Arabia was concerned "at the increasing cases of domestic violence rape crimes and non-equality in wages" and "continuation of hate crimes against various races especially against Muslims. We hope government will criminalize such actions... " The Saudis recommended combating "discrimination against indigenous peoples", enacting "legislation to criminalize any disrespect of religion and prophets in the media and law to define the crime of rape", and enacting "laws on gender equality and wages and to prevent domestic violence."
    Sudan recommended to Norway that it intensify "efforts to combat hate crime and domestic violence."
    Russia accused Norway of "tangible problems in respect to human rights in particular in freedom of confession" and "serious problems in Norwegian child welfare system and high level of violence against foster children". It recommended ensuring "fuller respect of freedom of confession and religion" and "combating public expressions of racial intolerance."
The ball is now back in Norway's court - which is asked to indicate whether it accepts or rejects recommendations - albeit the process guarantees no follow-up action of any kind comes from rejection. Norway will, however, desperately be seeking a way not to say directly that it rejects anything. For Norway, perpetuating the fraudulent UN human rights process will come first.

UN Rights Council trumpets process of equating Norway with Iran and company Development

Distraught parents of kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

"For two weeks, retired teacher Samson Dawah prayed for news of his niece Saratu, who was among more than 230 schoolgirls snatched by Boko Haram militants in the northeastern Nigerian village of Chibok. Then on Monday, the agonising silence was broken. When Dawah called together his extended family members to give an update, he asked that the most elderly not attend, fearing they would not be able to cope with what he had to say. 'We have heard from members of the forest community where they took the girls. They said there had been mass marriages and the girls are being shared out as wives among the Boko Haram militants,' Dawah told his relatives... The April 11 abduction of the girls - students aged between 16 and 18 who were sitting a physics paper at their school, one of a handful in troubled Borno state that had opened specially for final exams - shocked a nation inured to violence during a five-year insurgency. Desperate parents launched their own rescue attempts in the 60,000 square kilometre Sambisa forest where the girls were being held. Security sources said at least three rescue attempts had been scuppered...'It's unbearable. Our wives have grown bitter and cry all day. The abduction of our children and the news of them being married off is like hearing of the return of the slave trade,' said Yakubu Ubalala, whose daughters Kulu and Maimuna are among the disappeared."

Nigerian Schoolgirls 'Given to Boko Haram Kidnappers as Wives' Document

"Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the sentence of 15 years in prison followed by a 15-year ban on travelling abroad that a Riyadh court passed on 17 April on Fadhel Al-Manafes, a human rights defender and blogger. He was also fined 100,000 riyals (19,300 euros). Held since 2 October 2011, Manafes was convicted on charges of undermining national security and stability, inciting sedition and sectarian divisions, disloyalty towards the king, publishing articles and communicating with foreign journalists with the aim of harming the state's image, creating a banned association and inciting protests. 'We firmly condemn this verdict,' said Lucie Morillon, head of research and advocacy at Reporters Without Borders. 'We urge the authorities to free Manafes at once and to overturn his conviction on all the charges. This 15-year jail term is typical of the contempt that the Saudi authorities show towards fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of information. They imprison those who dare to speak out in order to intimidate the rest.'"

Saudi Human Rights Blogger Gets 15-Year Jail Term Document

April 29, 2014

UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland

On April 28, 2014 the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva started reviewing human rights situations in various countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The process is know as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

In theory, the Council is supposed to "undertake a universal periodic review (UPR), based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments..." Instead, the UPR has become a process where the worst violators of human rights are commended and are able to cast themselves as human rights champions.

On April 29, 2014 the human rights situation in the DRC was reviewed by members of the Council and any other UN member wanting to comment.

Wivine Mumba Matipa, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the DRC, delivered a self-congratulatory opening statement. It included the following:

    "My country has provided notable efforts in the framework of the promotion and protection of human rights...The Democratic Republic of the Congo has also taken important initiatives in order to better promote and protect the human rights... This is the place to mention the efforts of the government in the framework of the fight against impunity, which is one of the motivations for the reform of our judicial system...The fight against sexual violence, engaged my country at the highest level... Government is sparing no effort to remedy this tragic situation... The government has facilitated the access, verification, the separation and the protection of children associated with armed forces and groups... Parallel to the protection and the separation of the children of the parties to the conflict, the government has invested in the search for answers to the multiple needs of their rehabilitation."
Fellow human rights abusers lined up to respond to these untruths with the following:
    Nicaragua: We welcome the fact that ... the DRC has made a lot of efforts to continue to strengthen its system for promoting and protecting human rights.
    Palestinian Authority: We note with appreciation the number of organizational acts that have been promulgated since 2009 to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.
    Sudan: Sudan welcomes the DRC's commitment to promoting the institutional and normative framework for human rights.
    Venezuela: National report...clearly reflects the progress in the promoting and protecting human rights.
    China: China commends the DRC for its constructive attitude and...country endeavors to eliminate violence and discrimination against women.
    Gabon: Gabon congratulates the DRC for its commitment to human rights in particular equality, non-discrimination.
    Mauritania: My delegation highly values the eagerness of the government to promote and support UN mechanisms especially the UPR.
As for the actual human rights record of the DRC, here is just a sample from the latest U.S. State Department report:
    "[I]mpunity for human rights abuses remained a severe problem in the security services. Authorities did not prosecute or punish the majority of abusers...The recruitment and use of children...continued... The judiciary was corrupt and subject to influence... [R]ape was common throughout the country... The SSF [state security force], RMGs, and civilians perpetrated widespread sexual violence... It was common for family members to pressure a rape survivor to remain silent, even in collaboration with health-care professionals, to safeguard the reputations of the survivor and her family... After a sexual assault, many young women and girls were labeled as unsuitable for marriage, and married women were frequently abandoned by their husbands. Some families forced rape survivors to marry the men who raped them or to forego prosecution in exchange for money or goods from the rapist...Child abuse...regularly occurred... There were an estimated 8.2 million orphans and other vulnerable children in the country. Ninety-one percent received no external support of any kind, and only 3 percent received medical support."

Democratic Republic of the Congo praised at UN rights body despite appalling conditions Development

UN Headquarters, New York City

Fox News reports: "The United Nations is spending billions annually on partnerships with private organizations, governments in the developing world, and think tanks, often without knowing where the money is going or how well it was spent, according to a report from a U.N. watchdog [the Joint Inspection Unit]. The partnerships, which number in the tens of thousands, stretch across economic development and humanitarian relief efforts to such things as 'peacekeeping, disarmament, human rights and good governance,' it says. [T]he report... cited concerns raised by the U.N.'s own auditors about money transfers from the U.N. to its 'implementing partners,' and what the report delicately calls 'the lack of robust mechanisms to provide assurance that partners are spending funds as intended, and projects are executed efficiently and effectively.' In short, under such partnership arrangements, the U.N. may not know what it is doing, how well it is doing it, or even who its partners are...[A] partial accounting for the partnership splurge amounted to about $12 billion in the U.N.'s biennial budget for 2010-2011..."

UN spending billions on partnerships, often without oversight Article

April 28, 2014

Secretary John Kerry

"What do the allegation of 'apartheid Israel' and Yom Hashoah, the annual commemoration of the Holocaust, have in common? The former is the modern face of anti-Semitism. The latter is the reminder that anti-Semitism begets violence, horrible violence crimes against humanity. So when Secretary of State John Kerry suggested on April 25, 2014 just prior to Yom Hashoah, that Israel is on the verge of becoming an 'apartheid state,' it was more than a libel. It was dangerous....First, he connected Israel to apartheid and then he referred to Palestinian violence as an understandable response. As reported in the Daily Beast, he said: 'People grow so frustrated with their lot in life that they begin to take other choices and go to dark places they've been before, which forces confrontation.' This is not the first time Kerry has made such a move. Back in November 2013 he goaded: 'Does Israel want a third intifada?'... Except the truth is, Palestinians do not reject anti-Semitism but act to promote it. And a U.S. Secretary of State who magnifies the lie of Israeli racism, and rationalizes violence against the Jewish state, is unfit for the job."

Secretary Kerry's willful ignorance of the lessons of the Holocaust Article

The UN Committee, created in 1975 to implement the infamous Zionism-is-racism General Assembly resolution, has held yet another vile session. On April 24 and 25, 2014 the UN "Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People" had what was billed as a "Roundtable on Legal Aspects of the Question of Palestine" in Geneva. All but the opening session were closed to the public. Or more accurately, after the representative of the UN-accredited Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust reported what had occurred at the opening session, she was barred from an additional session which had been advertised as open to the public.

In fact, though the event was advertised as closed except for two sessions, the published "List of Participants" reveals that 9 civil society organizations all 9 with well-established anti-Israel credentials and 7 based in Ramallah - were actually taking part.

The opening session featured the representative of the Palestinian Authority - Issa Qaraqe, Palestinian Minister for Prisoners' Affairs, and as we reported earlier, he accused Israel of torturing and raping little children and subjecting Palestinian detainees to medical experiments.

A record of the private sessions, however, was obtained by Human Rights Voices. They included:

    Sharon Weill, University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute, questioned the authority of military courts in Israel to try civilians, because "they are neither independent not impartial," and are "not providing due process" but "are political courts which are structurally prevented from providing a fair trial."

    Valentina Azarova, Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law, Al-Quds University argued in favor of the Palestinian "right to return" including "Palestinian refugees in the Diaspora with a territorial link to Israel." In other words, she advocated a legal right to abolish a Jewish state. She also supported the "BDS" (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign against Israel, pushing third states and international actors to adhere to "the duty of non-recognition, non-aid or assistance...the same goes for private entities like businesses."

    Larry Johnson, Adjunct Professor, Columbia Law School, and the former UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, criticized U.S. law in relation to "Palestine."

    Michael Bothe, Professor Emeritus, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, suggested a "catalogue of possible measures," including "conditionality of trade and assistance" such as stopping arms export and military aid for Israel's commission of "genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, attacks against civilians".

    Iaian Scobbie, Professor of Public International Law, University of Manchester; suggested the Israelis are guilty of grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which he proceeded to quote: "willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement."

    Chantal Meloni, Professor of International Criminal Law, University of Milan, who was also involved with the notorious Russell Tribunal for Palestine, accused Israel of being a racist state guilty of the humankind's most despicable crimes: "de facto bantustanisation of the West Bank"; "Judaisation of East Jerusalem," "war crimes and possible crimes against humanity." She said that it was "essential that Israel's crimes be heard by...the ICC (International Criminal Court.)"

    Meloni openly rejected even a facade of sovereign equality: "A focus solely on the battlefield whereby both sides could be presented as bearing responsibility for international humanitarian law (IHL) violations would be misleading as it would not tackle the root cause of the conflict. That is why it is critical to include other crimes. I think in particular of the crimes of apartheid, persecutions, torture (as crimes against humanity), and of course the settlements (as a war crime)."
The Chair of the Committee, Abdou Salam Diallo from Senegal, ended the meeting with praise for the "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" movement. He said: "Our Committee...cannot remain indifferent to the magnitude of the public opinion, including civil society, as for example those of the campaign 'Boycott Divestment and Sanctions'. That is why we are encouraged with recent decisions of major European banks and pension funds to cease all activities with Israeli companies profiting from the settlements." Diallo also thanked all participants for their "brilliant contributions."

Representatives of the United Kingdom and Sweden took part, along with 9 members of the UN staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

UN office in Geneva holds 2-day Israel-bashing confab; bans all but anti-Israel NGOs Development