Resources updated between Monday, April 04, 2016 and Sunday, April 10, 2016
April 10, 2016
April 8, 2016
April 7, 2016
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented death of 2658 persons in the month of March 2016. The casualties are as follows:
Civilians: 588 civilians, including 125 boys and girls under the age of eighteen, and 89 female citizens over the age of 18, they were killed as follows:
223 citizens including 43 children and 45 citizen women killed in raids by Russian and Syrian warplanes' bombing and helicopters' barrel bombs, 90 civilians including 23 children and 5 citizen women were killed in the shelling and sniper fire of the regime forces, 28 civilians were killed under torture in Syrian security prisons and dungeons of its intelligence branches, 5 citizens including 3 children and a citizen women died due to poor health conditions and the bad living conditions and the lack of medication, 13 civilians including 7 children and 2 citizen women were killed in the bombing by warplanes of the international coalition, 67 civilians including 23 children and 12 citizen women killed by the mortar shells and sniper fire of the rebel and Islamic Factions and Jabhat Al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Levant), and 7 citizens were executed at the hands of the rebel and Islamic Factions and Jabhat Al-Nusra, 38 civilians including 4 children and 3 citizen women executed by the "Islamic state", 45 civilians including 10 children and 12 citizen women killed by mortar shells and sniper fire and gunshot by the "Islamic state", 60 citizens including 10 children and 9 citizen women were killed in the bombing of booby trapped vehicles, explosive belts and IEDs by unidentified gunmen in several areas, 11 civilians including a female child and a male child and a citizen woman (and 7 of those 11 citizens are still unidentified) killed by the Turkish border guards, and citizen killed by the Jordanian border guards.
TWEET: Syria, March 2016: 2658 killed. 588 were civilians. 28 civilians were killed in Assad's dungeons.
Rebel and Islamic fighters: 376
Defected soldiers and officers: 2
Regime soldiers and officers: 414
Members from Popular Committees, NDF and regime's informers: 335
Militiamen from Hezbollah guerrilla: 13
Non-Syrian Pro-regime mostly Shia militiamen: 65
Fighters from the rebel and Islamic factions, the "Islamic State", Jabhat Al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Levant) and Jaish al-Mohajereen and al-Ansar of non-Syrian nationalities: 854
Unidentified casualties: 11
"These sorts of visits bring a lot of collateral damage," Cuban pro-democracy activist Marta Beatriz Roque lamented in anticipation of President Barack Obama's trip to the island. With the visit complete, new data has emerged clarifying exactly how much collateral damage. 498 arrests occurred during President Obama's visit, adding to a total of 1416 in March.
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), an NGO dedicated to tracking the rates of politically-motivated and/or arbitrary arrests on the island, has issued its monthly report showing March to have been the most active month for political arrests in 2016 so far. 2016 generally has been an especially active year for Cuban oppression, and the number of arrests have not fallen under 1100 in the first three months. For comparison, only 610 politically-motivated arrests were documented in March 2015, and only one month had an arrest rate over 1,100: November.
The CCDHRN notes that the rate of arrest for March 2016 is "the highest of its kind of abuse for the month in the Western Hemisphere and much of the world currently." There have been nearly 4,000 politically-motivated arrests in Cuba in 2016, though the organization notes it is "sure that the real numbers are much higher throughout the island, as it is impossible to have a complete figure given the opaque and closed nature of the ruling regime in Cuba for the past six decades."
The report also specifically identifies President Obama's visit to the island as an aggravating factor. "Instead of assuring an atmosphere of civilian peace, a true wave of police oppression consisting of innumerable intimidating actions was unleashed," resulting in 498 arrests while President Obama was present. This number is nearly double the number of arrests occurring during Pope Francis's visit to Cuba in September 2015.
There appear to be two major driving factors in making the rate of arrests so high: the number of arrests occurring to prevent the free practice of Christianity during the month of Easter and the repeated arrests of a number of opposition leaders who insisted on continuing their pro-democracy activity. Hundreds of arrests involving the Ladies in White group - a dissident group consisting of relatives of political prisoners who attend Catholic Mass together on Sundays - were documented. Most involved keeping the women from publicly attending Mass. On Good Friday, dozens of Ladies in White were arrested "to impede their attendance at the Stations of the Cross Procession." Two were described as "severely beaten."
The leader of the Ladies in White organization, Berta Soler, was arrested eight times in March, twice a week.
Hundreds were arrested for attending activities described by the CCDHRN as "welcoming President Barack Obama" to Cuba. The report also sheds light on one arrest caught on camera: that occurring before the eyes of ESPN reporter Bob Ley, after activist Yasel Rivero Boni ran up to the camera and yelled "down with the Castros" before being hauled away. Six people were arrested in connection to that incident.
Others were arrested in response to no activity whatsoever. In the city of Santa Clara, Maikel Armenteros Orama and Osney Quintana García were arrested "for being suspected of having placed an anti-government sign in a publicly visible place."
Zaqueo Báez, an activist made world-famous after being filmed beaten and arrested in front of Pope Francis, was arrested shortly before President Obama's arrival to the island "on suspicion of potentially planning opposition activities." He remained under house arrest until President Obama left.
Many of those arrested have been critics of President Obama. In February, the head of the dissident group Estado de SATS Antonio Rodiles described the president's planned visit as "giving the Castro regime a pat on the back." After being physically attacked the Sunday before President Obama's arrival, Rodiles told international media that some of his colleagues had "fractures and contusions," and that Cuban state police "hit us with everything."
He was arrested six times in March. Berta Soler lamented before the trip, "this won't help us at all." She eventually met with President Obama personally before he went on to attend a baseball game with Raúl Castro.
April 6, 2016
UN Sanctifies Evil Article
April 5, 2016
A mass abduction, even larger than the April 2014 raid on Chibok, Borno state, which brought Boko Haram to international visibility, occurred months later, Human Rights Watch alleges. However, out of fear of angering the Nigerian government, parents of the victims refused to report it.
The Agence France-Presse cites four eyewitnesses who corroborate the new Human Rights Watch report, which claims that months after the 2014 Chibok raid, Boko Haram jihadists attacked the nearby village of Damasak and abducted an estimated 500 people, 300 of whom are believed to be children. Another 200 villagers were reportedly killed in the struggle.
The four AFP witnesses are "a local government administrator, a local chief, another elder and a resident." They all claim the attack occurred on November 24, 2014. They also all shared that, out of fear of upsetting the government of then-President Goodluck Jonathan, who denied reports of the raid publicly, they said nothing.
"Every parent was afraid to speak out," the administration said. "We kept quiet on the kidnap out of fear of drawing the wrath of the government, which was already grappling with the embarrassment of the kidnap of the Chibok schoolgirls," he added, noting that he had lost a seven-year-old child himself. The few who attempted to request aid from public officials were ignored, he claimed.
"Three hundred children have been missing for a year and yet there has been not a word from the Nigerian government," senior Nigeria researcher for Human Rights Watch Mausi Segun said in a statement accompanying the report.
All 276 girls kidnapped from Chibok remain missing despite repeated assurances from the Jonathan government and, later, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari that they would be found and freed. Evidence exists indicating that Western intelligence officials knew of their whereabouts months after the abduction but were unable to coordinate a rescue plan that would not result in many of their deaths, so they opted against acting.
Damasak lies about 200 miles away from Chibok and has fallen victim to multiple Boko Haram raids and remained occupied by the group, now affiliated with the Islamic State, for much of 2015.
Damasak was first liberated from Boko Haram in March 2015. Chadian and Nigerien forces attacked the jihadists in their stronghold and caused them to flee. During their assessment of the town, they found a mass grave containing more than 100 decomposing bodies in the village. At the time, polls indicated that President Jonathan would be soundly reelected; as Nigeria continued to suffer Boko Haram attacks, citizens lost faith in Jonathan's governance and elected Buhari president, who ran on a platform of zero tolerance for jihadi groups.
The foreign troops left Damasak shortly thereafter, and Nigerian troops did not immediately replace them as villagers began to return to their homes. The result was another mass kidnapping: "more than 400 women and children," according to one witness. Another estimated more than 500 abducted. During the second Chadian liberation of Damasak, soldiers found 43 children hiding in silence in remote spots throughout the village, who initially refused to leave their hiding spaces when approached by soldiers, thinking them Boko Haram terrorists.
Nigerian soldiers finally came to Damasak, and in April 2015, found upwards of 400 more dead and decomposing bodies strewn throughout the town.
Boko Haram has strongly relied on its mass abductions to continue executing terrorist attacks in Nigeria and neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. Women and young girls are often used as suicide bombers, as their loose-fitting clothing can more easily hide and bomb, and, as women, they are less suspect than young men who might join the group.
President Buhari has insisted that the increased number of instances of female suicide bombers detonating near mosques is a sign the group has lost much of its power, though the Buhari administration has warned residents to disregard a recently released video of Boko Haram head Abubakar Shekau alleging he will soon retire.
Officials still have no clues of the location of the missing Chibok girls. One apparent discovery – a ten-year-old would-be suicide bomber who claimed to be part of the Chibok group – was found to be lying, as she was too young to have been in the classrooms affected at the time and showed no signs of having ever attended a Western-style school.
April 4, 2016