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Resources updated between Monday, May 04, 2015 and Sunday, May 10, 2015

May 8, 2015

A still shot from Youtube video showing Yazidi slave-girls (date unknown)

Zainab Bangura, the United Nations Special representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, recently interviewed numerous females whom the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) kidnapped and forced to be sex slaves.

She found what others have previously discovered: rape, slavery, slave markets, and women undergoing surgery to restore their virginity.

"Women and girls are at risk and under assault at every point of their lives," she explained, adding that the threats lurk behind them "every step of the way... in the midst of active conflict, in areas under control of armed actors, at check-points and border crossings, and in detention facilities."

She also told journalists about the sex markets the militants throw to sell women to different men.

"Girls are literally being stripped naked and examined in slave bazaars," she claimed and said they were "categorized and shipped naked off to Dohuk or Mosul or other locations to be distributed among ISIL leadership and fighters."

In November, a video on YouTube showed ISIS militants laughing and joking while purchasing Yazidi slaves. The men acted like they were bidding on an object, not a human being. One man explained to the camera eye color makes a difference on the price and the female must have all her teeth.

One woman phoned a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter to beg them and the West to designate as their next target the brothel where she being held. She said the terrorists "raped her 30 times in just a few hours." She wants the brothel bombed to kill the jihadists and end the women's misery as sex slaves.

Bangura said the militants promised young girls to ISIS leaders. They also force the girls into prostitution, which is one way the group raises funds. One woman was married off 20 times, but each time the militants forced her to undergo surgery to repair her virginity.

Turkish news outlet Hurriyet Daily News interviewed Yazidi women and girls in Iraq about the horrific treatment they received from ISIS.

Many are "ashamed and afraid" since they come from "a deeply traditional culture." From The Sunday Times:

The magnitude of the crisis is such that Baba Sheikh, a prominent Yazidi religious leader, issued an unprecedented statement to the community. It declared the women were victims who had suffered through no fault of their own and should be supported, not ostracised.

Young women worry they will be stigmatised and become "unmarriageable" in a culture in which sexual intercourse before marriage is frowned upon.

Although abortion is illegal in Kurdistan, even for cases of rape, some doctors have secretly been performing terminations for those who have come back pregnant. Some returning Yazidi girls are also secretly seeking surgery to reverse the loss of virginity.

"ISIL have institutionalized sexual violence and the brutalization of women as a central aspect of their ideology and operations, using it as a tactic of terrorism to advance their key strategic objectives," continued Bangura.

Sarah, a 14-year-old girl The Sunday Times interviewed, is still traumatized. Two men offered their hands in marriage, but she refused.

"I refused both of them; I don't want to fall in love," she cried. "I don't think I can. I don't want to be married or have children - I am damaged goods."

ISIS Forces Girls To Undergo Virginity Surgeries & Marries Them Off 20 Times Document

UN peacekeepers largely paid for by US taxpayers.

The United States taxpayers will pay the United Nations approximately $3.024 billion in 2015, according to testimony by Brett Schaefer, a Heritage Foundation fellow, before the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee responsible for multilateral institutions on May 6, 2015. This total accounts for $621.9 million toward the UN regular budget and $2.402 billion toward the UN peacekeeping budget. In contrast, 35 nations will pay less than a total of $29,000. Schaefer testified that the US' contributions continue to rise due to the UN's runaway budget which increased from nearly $15 billion in 2002 to nearly $41.5 billion in 2012. A major factor behind that increase is the "failure to arrest growth" in UN personnel costs which accounts for 70% of UN spending.

Schaefer pointed out that US contributions to the UN may be higher than reported: "there is also a lack of transparency and analysis on the U.S. side...(the) 2006 report confirmed that actual U.S. contributions to the U.N. were higher by about 25 percent than previously reported by the State Department. The reporting requirement lapsed in 2011. As a result, a comprehensive accounting of U.S. contributions to the U.N. system after FY 2010 is not available and the last reliable accounting by the OMB was for FY 2010, which reported contributions totaling $7.692 billion."

This figure is more than double today's figure, raising the question of what exactly is the true cost of US' membership to the UN.

United States taxpayers on hook to the United Nations for approximately $3.024 billion in 2015 Article

UN Headquarters

The press was blocked from attending a PEN event on press freedom at the United Nations titled, "Finding Security in Unsafe Passages: United Nations Event about Protecting Journalists' Safety and Rights." According to the website of PEN, an international press freedom organization, the panel was to "delve into the wide range of risks journalists face every day. Experts will offer safety tips, share advice for protecting sources and copyrights in all types of media and address cybersecurity risks." One of the panelists blasted UN's decision to block the journalists: "One would think the more coverage for these types of issues would be better because these are really serious issues that journalists are facing...so discouraging journalists from covering the event just seems odd."

Journalists Prevented from Covering PEN Event on Press Freedom Article

Breathing oxygen in Sarmeen, Syria, in March, after what residents called a gas attack. Credit Mohamad Zeen/Agence France-Presse Getty Images

Syrian activists and a doctor reported Thursday of new suspected chemical attacks in the northwestern province of Idlib, leaving several dozens of people suffering from asphyxiation. Mohammed Tennari, a doctor who testified before the U.N. Security Council last month after treating a number of victims in Idlib from an earlier chemical attack, said there were at least three separate attacks in the province that injured nearly 80 people.

Tennari, who spoke with The Associated Press from near the border with Turkey, shared field reports from doctors in the three villages that were reportedly hit. The reports said government helicopters dropped barrel bombs containing chlorine on the villages of Janoudieh, Kansafrah, and Kafr Batiekh on Thursday.

Tennari is on his way back from the United States where he reported to the council on a suspected chlorine attack in March that killed three children and their grandmother in the same province. He is the coordinator for the Syrian American Medical Society, which has volunteer medical personnel treating victims and reporting on attacks in Syria.

Also, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, another monitoring group which is based outside the country, reported the three different attacks, sharing on Twitter images it said were from field hospitals where victims were taken. The group reported that 69 people were injured in the attacks.

The reports could not be independently verified. There has been an increase in reports of suspected chlorine bombs amid intensified fighting in the province where the rebels have made significant advances against government troops in recent weeks. Rebel fighters seized the provincial capital and weeks later moved in on a strategic town near the border with Turkey. The government has vowed to restore control.

Tennari said a man in his thirties died Thursday from another suspected chlorine attack in a fourth village in Idlib on May 2. The man's six-month-old baby died in that attack, Tennari said.

Despite condemning such attacks, the United Nations has been unable to follow through with action or assign blame. The rise in attacks comes as the United States is leading an effort to create a way to attribute blame.

On Thursday, the current council president, Lithuanian Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite, said a "large majority" of members support the U.S. effort and are ready to move quickly in the next few days. But Syria ally Russia worried whether it will be objective, with Ambassador Vitaly Churkin telling the AP, "They've done their attribution of blame already."

The U.S. and some other council members accuse Syria's government of using chlorine against its own citizens, saying that no other party in the conflict has the helicopters to deliver such weapons. Russia has insisted that more evidence is needed to blame anyone.

Even though the Security Council, badly divided on Syria, came together in 2013 to rid Syria of its chemical weapons program, chlorine was not included in that effort. The chemical does not have to be declared because it is also used for regular purposes in industry. Chlorine is a poisonous chemical element used as a bleaching agent and for water purification, but in more concentrated form can cause victims to suffocate.

The reports of new attacks came after the International Committee for the Red Cross director of operations, Dominik Stillhart, warned on Thursday that the humanitarian situation in Syria has deteriorated sharply amid intensified fighting in several parts of the country between government forces and rebel groups, as well as among rival opposition faction.

"The fighting is escalating in many parts of the country and more and more people are being forced to flee their homes. It is causing untold suffering," said Stillhart.

Stillhart finished a two-day visit to the Syrian capital, Damascus, where he met government officials, appealing for more access to areas affected by the fighting, including the violence-torn, besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk on the outskirts of Damascus. The camp has been the scene of clashes between local fighters and the Islamic State group since the beginning of April. It was the latest tragedy to engulf the camp's residents, who have already suffered through a devastating two-year government siege, starvation and disease.

About 18,000 people are still in the camp, a built-up area once home to some 160,000 Palestinians and Syrians. The United Nations over the weekend expressed alarm over the continued fighting, along with the use of heavy weapons, and airstrikes.

Fighting has also intensified elsewhere in Syria in recent weeks, as rebel advances have pushed out government forces from contested areas in the country's south and north. Government troops are pushing back.

On Thursday, Syrian government forces and allied fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah group took control from Islamic militant fighters of more areas near the Syrian border town of Assal al-Ward.

Syrian Activists Report New Chlorine Attacks in Idlib Document

May 7, 2015

Mashhur Fahd Shamseddine was reportedly only 15-years old when he died fighting for Hezbollah. (image via Aksalser)

"Hezbollah mourned last week the death of a teenager killed 'on jihadist duty' in Syria. The party's Al-Manar television reported last Tuesday that 'Hezbollah bid farewell to the mujahid martyr Mashhur Fahd Shamseddine.' Neither Hezbollah nor media outlets associated with the party made any reference to the boy's age. Hezbollah only announced that he had died in a tragic accident while performing his jihadist duty. However, Arabic-language newspapers reported Shamseddine was only 15...

'[S]ources of Hezbollah said that [the boy] died while he was receiving a military training. This raises a question: why are you giving military training to children?'...

They recruit and start training at very young ages-typically at around 10-13 years old, when they join the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts, says 35-year-old Hussein, a former scout...The Imam al-Mahdi Scouts were founded in 1985 and are registered with the Lebanese Ministry of Education."

Hezbollah's War Crime: Using Child Soldiers Article

Protesters run across a fire towards police lines in the Musaga neighbourhood of Bujumbura, Burundi.(Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images)

Protesters burned a man alive on the streets of Burundi's capital on Thursday, saying he was a member of the ruling party's youth wing that had attacked them during demonstrations against the president's third-term bid, a witness said.

Protesters have been on Bujumbura's streets for almost two weeks, often hurling stones at police who they say have fired live rounds, which police deny.

The confrontations have plunged the African nation into its worst crisis since an ethnically fuelled civil war ended in 2005.

"They put tyres around his neck and then burned him," a witness told Reuters after seeing the man killed in the Nyakabiga district of Bujumbura, one of protest flashpoints.

Local media also reported the incident, while the Red Cross said a man was killed in Nyakabiga but, in line with its usual practice, did say how he died. It said a woman was killed in another area, taking Thursday's death toll to two.

Protesters said the victim of the burning was a member of the Imbonerakure youth wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, which they say has a attacked them. The government has regularly dismissed charges that Imbonerakure is fomenting violence.

Presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho condemned the Nyakabiga killing "in the strongest terms possible". "We don't want the situation to degenerate and take us back to those years when people were killed on the streets in broad daylight," he said.

OLD WOUNDS

Opponents of President Pierre Nkurunziza say his bid for a third term violates the constitution and a peace deal that ended a war pitting the ethnic Hutu majority against the Tutsi minority.

Rallies, which have so far been confined to the capital, have included protesters by members of both ethnic groups. But diplomats say an escalation in violence could reopen old wounds. A constitutional court ruled on Tuesday that Nkurunziza, who once led the main Hutu rebel group, was allowed to run because his first term, when he was picked by lawmakers and not elected, did not count. The opposition say the court is biased.

"I will respect the decision of the constitutional court," Nkurunziza said in a televised address on Wednesday night. "I would like to assure the national and international community that in case I am elected now, this will be my last term."

The president has called the protests illegal and an "insurrectional movement". He has offered amnesty to the scores who have been detained if the protests stop.

Civil society groups and opposition parties say protests will go on until he drops his plan to stand, but urge peaceful rallies.

"We ask all those protesting against the third term to continue to demonstrate peacefully and show restraint," Gabriel Rufyiri, a member of the civil society groups which has been calling for the demonstrations, told Reuters.

Worried about a relapse into bloodshed, foreign ministers from the East African Community nations were in Bujumbura this week to discuss the crisis.

Alongside Burundi, the other members are Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, a nation with the same ethnic mix as Burundi. Rwanda suffered a genocide in 1994 in which 800,000 mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered.

Almost 40,000 people, many of them Tutsis, have already fled Burundi to neighbouring states Rwanda, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo for fear that violence will spread across the country.

Man Burned Alive in Burundi Protest Against Presidential Bid Document

May 6, 2015

U.S. citizen Adam Gadahn (aka "The American Taliban") was killed this year in an airstrike from an unmanned drone operated by the CIA. He was not the target. The house he was in was the target, based on patterns of behavior.

Civilian Casualties in War Time. White House Double-standards Applied to Israel. Article

Formerly imprisoned Iranian journalists (file photo)

Astonished reactions to recent statements made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a television interview with PBS' Charlie Rose, in which he defended his government's human rights record, continue to pour in.

Siamak Ghaderi, a journalist who was dismissed from his job at the Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency (IRNA) and imprisoned for four years in 2010 for publishing posts critical of the government on his blogs, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, "Currently, there are some 50 journalists and bloggers inside Iranian prisons for what they wrote.... I, along with many other journalists, was accused of 'propaganda against the state,' and 'assembly and collusion against national security,' for writings following the 2009 [disputed presidential election]."

"I spent weeks under duress inside Ward 209 of Evin Prison, [where I was pressured] to take responsibility for the news articles and reports I had written. What was all this pressure and the sentence I received for, then? Had I climbed up someone's wall? Had I embezzled government funds? It was for my journalism profession and my beliefs. Why I did I go to prison for four years, Mr. Zarif?" asked Siamak Ghaderi.

In the April 28 interview with Charlie Rose, when Zarif was asked about journalists imprisoned in Iran, he asserted, "We do not jail people for their opinions. The government has a plan to improve, enhance human rights in the country. As every government should. And I believe we have an obligation as a government to our own people to do that. But people who commit crimes, who violate the laws of the country, cannot hide by being a journalist, being a political activist. People have to observe the law."

In response to Zarif's remarks, Siamak Ghaderi, who currently lives in the US, told the Campaign, "First, as a minister of a government elected by the people, he lied publicly and falsified the facts, and second, in his explanation the following day, he said that he was only addressing the topic of [imprisoned Washington Post reporter] Jason Rezaian, and that's an even worse excuse. Is he the spokesperson for the Iranian Judiciary to talk about Jason? Mr. Zarif is the minister of an elected government, a government that received its votes through Hassan Rouhani's slogans and pledges; therefore it is only natural that people react to the smallest lies or falsifications of this administration. He should have been a lot more careful in choosing his sentences."

Following the public outcry about his April 28 remarks, Zarif published a post on his Facebook pageon May 1, in which he wrote, "A group of fellow countrymen inside and outside the country have used my specific, exact, and necessary response to a question about a reporter, whose situation has been used as an excuse for several amendments in the Senate to confront the nuclear agreement, as an excuse for long articles on the subject, and some have also chosen to criticize me without hearing the question or the answer!"

By "a reporter," Javad Zarif was referring to Jason Rezaian, who has been in prison for more than nine months, most this time without charge, and, since April, under national security charges.

The journalist Parastou Sarmadi, whose husband Hossein Nouraninejad, also a journalist, has been sentenced to one year in prison, wrote on her Facebook page: "Mr. Zarif, we don't expect you to show us sympathy, but at least don't throw salt on our wounds. My husband saw [his newborn child] Sohrab for the first time when he was four months old, and only for a month at that. He was in prison for two months after that, and he is now back in prison."

Nouraninejad began serving his one-year prison term on April 21, 2015, on charges of "propaganda against the state."

In a short piece on his website, the journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouee, who served five years and four months in prison on charges of "acting against national security," and "propaganda against the state through publishing articles on the economy in newspapers and his personal website," also challenged the statements Zarif made during the Charlie Rose interview.

"As one of the prisoners who was interrogated and psychologically and physically tortured and forced to spend several years in prison, I testify that just as [former president] Ahmadinejad and other judicial and state officials lied about this, the Rouhani Government and his Foreign Minister lie about this," said Amouee.

Bahman Ahmadi Amouee was arrested immediately after the 2009 disputed presidential election, and was released more than five years later in September 2014 upon completion of his sentence.

"Why Did I Go to Prison for Four Years, Mr. Zarif?" Document

Narges Mohammadi

According to reports from Iran, the authorities have arrested the prominent human rights lawyer, Narges Mohammadi in her home early this morning. A report by "Radio Zamaneh" says that that Narges Mohammadi refused to open the door and the security forces entered her home and arrested her with force.

Narges Mohammadi is a prominent Iranian civil rights activist and deputy head of the banned Defenders of Human Rights Center, and one of the founders of the civil society group "Step by step to stop the death penalty" or LEGAM.

Branch 15 of Tehran Revolution Court under judge Salavati, summoned Narges Mohammadi, charged with crimes against national security and she was supposed to appear in court on May 3. Her lawyers were scheduled to meet in the court today.

Narges Mohammadi is faced with the charges of "propaganda against the state," "assembly and collusion against national security," and "establishing the anti-security and illegal 'Step by Step to Stop Death Penalty' (LEGAM) group." LEGAM is the first campaign shaped in Iran to abolish the death penalty.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) strongly condemned the arrest of Narges Mohamamdi. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR said: "Narges Mohammadi has been arrested solely for her peaceful civil activism for the human rights. Her arrest indicates the low tolerance of the Iranian authorities for peaceful activities". He continued: " We urge all thE countries with increasing diplomatic relations with Iran to demand Narges Mohammadi's immediate release".

Narges Mohammadi had previously been sentenced to 11 years in prison for her peaceful activities. She suffered from poor health while being in the prison. She was released on bail in July 2012.

Iranian Regime Arrests Prominent Human Rights Defender Narges Mohammadi Document

Hamas terrorists usually fired rockets at Israeli towns from civilian areas in Gaza. (IDF Spokesperson Unit)

"Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, former commander of the UK's forces in Afghanistan ... told Tazpit News Agency that the United Nations, foreign governments and human rights organizations were 'deliberately misunderstanding, and misrepresenting, international laws of armed conflict,' specifically referring to the law of proportionality... Meanwhile, he continued, those very same bodies were not adequately holding Hamas responsible for their own clear violations, particularly regarding "'human shields.'"

Former UK Cmdr.: UN, Foreign Governments "Deliberately" Twisting Laws of Armed Conflict on Israel Article

(File photo)

"The Islamic Bloc, Hamas student movement, resumed its activities in UNRWA schools after the last military confrontation between Israel and a coalition of Palestinian organizations lead by Hamas (Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014)...

UNRWA has become a convenient surrogate for terrorist organizations, led by Hamas, which was chosen in successive elections to lead the workers union and the UNRWA teachers union, as the key mentors who influence generations of Palestinian refugee descendants about engaging in 'right of return' through jihad, to Arab villages that existed before 1948.

The Hamas takeover of the UNRWA institutions and UNRWA staff should set off alarms regarding the possibility of funding given by donor countries (primarily the United States) finding its way to financing the salaries of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists..."

Activities of the Islamic Bloc in UNRWA Schools after Operation Protective Edge Article

May 5, 2015

"UN cholera is a crime against humanity!" (file photo)

"Complaints filed by the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux have led four United Nations human rights experts to file a formal Allegation Letter against the UN for violating Haitians' human rights in its response to the cholera epidemic.

This was the first time that experts have filed an Allegation Letter against the UN itself, it is usually reserved for governments...

The letter from the independent human rights experts was the latest of many allegations that have come from a diversity of scientists, institutions, including the U.S. Center for Disease Control and even UN insiders."

Human Rights Experts Allege UN Violated Haitians' Rights Article

SOHR documented 11017 air raids carried out by the regime warplanes and explosive barrel bombs dropped by the helicopters on several areas in all over Syria from Idlib in the north to Daraa in the south and from al- Bokamal in the east to Lattakia mountain in the west since the beginning of this year until April 30.

The helicopters dropped 5934 barrel bombs on different areas in the provinces of Rif Dimashq, Aleppo, Homs, Hama, al- Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, al- Quneitera, Daraa, Idlib and Lattakia.

The warplanes carried out at least 5083 raids on areas in the provinces of Damascus, Rif Dimashq, Aleppo, Homs, Hama, al- Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, al- Raqqa, al- Quneitera, Daraa, Idlib and Lattakia.

On the other hand, SOHR also documented death of 1606 civilians, including 255 women and 369 children, due to aerial bombardment carried out by the regime warplanes and helicopters while about 13000 other civilians were wounded. The aerial bombardment also resulted in destroying people's public and private properties as well as it left huge material damages in several areas and displaced dozens of thousands of people.

The explosive barrels and air raids also resulted in the death of 708fighters from the Nusra Front, IS, rebel and Islamic battalions while other hundreds fighters were wounded.

SOHR renews its appeal to UN Security Council to assume its responsibilities and work on using its power in order to stop the daily killing committed against the Syrian people and destroying their social structure, coexistence, past, present and future by using all kind of weapons, whether they are firearms or media, where the Syria helicopters intensified and concentrated on using explosive barrels in the last six months Despite the adoption of resolution 2139 by the Security Council, where the most important mission of this resolution is to maintain the international peace and security.

More Than 11000 Airstrikes Carried Out by the Syria Warplanes and Helicopters in the Last 4 Months Document

ISIS throws gay man off building (Photo by Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently)

Islamic State fighters have reportedly thrown another man, accused of being gay, off a building and stoned him to death after he survived the fall.

The campaigning group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a Syrian based campaign against ISIS and the Assad regime, have reported that a man accused of being gay was thrown from a building in Iraq and stoned on the ground after surviving the fall.

A crowd on the ground watched as a number of masked men, some of whom were pointing assault rifles at the victim, threw the man from a two storey building, a fall that would not have resulted in his death, but one that would have resulted painful injuries.

One of the photos published shows the man mid fall from the building, as up to eleven men are seen on top of the building. One of the men is flying a flag apparently baring the symbol of ISIS. Meanwhile a photo shows a large crowd of spectators, including children, watching the entire execution.

Homosexuality is forbidden under Islamic State. Men who are accused of homosexual are often thrown from building tops, before being stoned to death as they lay defenceless on the ground from injuries sustained by the fall.

ISIS Execute "Gay" Man By Stoning As He Lays Defenceless On Ground Document

Hamas terrorists (file photo)

"Last week, the United Nations Office of the Secretary General issued a summary of its long-awaited Board of Inquiry (BOI) report on the 2014 Gaza War...The BOI's formation and origins stand in marked contrast to the UN Human Rights Council inquiry currently underway. The HRC mission has been tarred by a biased mandate, pre-determined conclusions of Israeli violations, and highly prejudiced staffing. Moreover, it is conducted within the HRC framework, controlled by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and many of the other world's worst human rights abusers...

The BOI summary...reveals, at best, gross incompetence by UNRWA, which apparently had no policies in place aimed at preventing these illegal activities...

According to the report, the organization essentially handed over rockets found hidden in UNRWA schools to unknown local authorities during the war, with no apparent concern for Hamas' involvement...

[I]n every case examined by the BOI, UN and Palestinian 'witnesses' claimed to never have seen any Hamas activity anywhere near the UN facilities where Israeli operations took place - assertions that bear no credibility whatsoever.

These incredulous claims beg the question as to how much more extensive Hamas operations in and around UN facilities were downplayed or hidden."

A Troubling Picture of UN Complicity in Palestinian War Crimes Article

May 4, 2015

Remnants of Qassam rockets. Photo: Bukvoed via Wikimedia Commons

"UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon published a summary report of the Board of Inquiry on April 27 concerning the strikes from facilities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in July-August 2014...

A letter from the UN secretary-general was appended to the summary, in which Ban ... expressed his dismay that 'Palestinian militant groups would put United Nations schools at risk by using them to hide their arms.'

But the secretary-general's dismay should have included not only the 'militant groups' (Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades) that imperiled UN facilities, but also that UNRWA employees in Gaza probably knew that the agency's facilities were being used to conceal Hamas weapons. Yet, they chose not to issue any warnings nor did they do anything about it. It would be inconceivable that the agency's employees were unaware that rockets and mortars were being stashed there. Hamas militants would not have been able to conceal the weaponry cache inside UNRWA schools and storerooms without the agency's employees seeing the activity or possibly even assisting.

Since the June 2007 coup staged by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, there has been a reciprocal relationship between UNRWA and the movement...UNRWA, unfortunately, appears to serve as a fig leaf, whose existence allows Hamas to control Gaza while letting UNRWA shoulder the burden of civilian responsibility as a representative of the United Nations.

Eight months have passed since the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge and the UN has yet to learn the lessons or take responsibility for the fact that its agency's facilities and storerooms, including the schools that were designed to support the Palestinian population in Gaza, served as Hamas weapons depots. The UNRWA director in Gaza, Robert Turner, should have taken responsibility for putting the civilians at risk; he should have either resigned or been dismissed."

UNRWA Takes No Responsibility for Rocket Launchers in Shelters Article

Taking the stand at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, MP Walid Jumblatt told the court that he was convinced that Syria was behind the 1977 assassination of his father. (Screen grab)

Taking the stand at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Monday, MP Walid Jumblatt told the court that he was convinced Syria was behind the 1977 assassination of his father.

"It is the Syrian regime that assassinated Kamal Jumblatt," the Progressive Socialist Party chief told the The Hague-based court. Jumblatt said that he has judicial evidence that supports this conclusion.

Prior to his death, an investigative judge released a report detailing "the car that followed Kamal Jumblatt, how they stepped out of the car, how they killed him, how that car later left to the headquarters of the Syrian intelligence in Sin el-Fil," Jumblatt told the court.

Just 40 days after the death of his father, Jumblatt traveled to Syria, a decision which he explained in detail. "Based on my conviction that I am an Arab nationalist and based on the threats that were surrounding Lebanon, I had no choice but to go to Syria and to seal a deal, a political settlement, with those who assassinated Kamal Jumblatt," he said.

"When I went to see [then-Syrian President] Hafez Assad... I looked at him. I still had some hair left on my head. He said 'You look a lot like your father.' And then we sat down and he started talking... I didn't feel anything. I was surprised," he said.

Jumblatt is expected to provide evidence over the next several days detailing the domination of Syria over Lebanese political and military affairs. While five Hezbollah suspects have been charged with plotting the blast which killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the prosecution has moved towards suggesting Syrian involvement in the conspiracy.

Syria Killed My Father: Jumblatt to Special Tribunal for Lebanon Document

Chen Guangcheng (file photo)

Writing for the National Review, Ambassador John Bolton details how in his new book Chinese human rights activist, Chen Guangcheng, paints a starkly different picture of his escape to America - and the priorities of then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton - than the one published in "Hard Choices" by Clinton herself. Bolton highlights the role played by Clinton's point man during the crisis, Howard Koh, Legal Advisor to the State Department.

"Beijing diplomats worked to persuade Clinton's aides, who responded by working to persuade Chen...State's top lawyer, Harold Koh, 'spoke movingly of the difficulties Chen would face if he decided to leave China,' suggesting that Chen study law at NYU's Shanghai campus. (This was a far more dangerous offer than what Chen says NYU actually proposed - that he study at the school's Manhattan campus, in safety in America rather than under a Chinese gun.) Clinton complains that Chen hardened his tone, insisting his vulnerable family be brought to Beijing before any final decisions...Koh continued to press the urgent need to decide. 'The first time we met,' Koh said to Chen, 'I told you that time was of the essence. I don't think you should refuse an offer that's already in hand [to stay in China and study law at NYU Shanghai]. This is a good proposal." Chinese officials "are quite angry with you, and also angry at the U.S.,' Koh opined, hardly comforting to a man fearing for his life from those very officials. Clinton's aides "kept encouraging me, as if I were a child, to see just how beneficial the Chinese terms were," Chen writes...Finally, Koh told Chen he has 20 minutes to decide, or Beijing will declare him a traitor. Chen asked himself, 'At this point, what could I do?'..."

Chen Guangcheng: Freedom from China no thanks to an Obama White House Article

Soldiers and people carrying machetes ride on the back of a vehicle along a street in Gombe January 30, 2015. Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

Community leaders and residents accused Nigerian troops of killing dozens of civilians and razing homes to avenge the deaths of six soldiers.

Traditional ruler chief Jessie Miri told reporters up to 80 people have been killed yesterday in multiple attacks by soldiers over the weekend in the Wase district of central Plateau state.

Spokesman Capt Ikwedichi Iweha denied the special task force attacked any civilians, asking why they would attack the very people they are supposed to protect.

But residents said the soldiers arrived in more than a dozen armored personnel carriers. Community leader Comrade Jangle Lohbut called a news conference in Plateau state capital, Jos, to say he had documented at least 38 deaths, including those of two police officers, members of the National Security and Civil Defense Corps and a member of a vigilante group. "Soldiers stormed some villages in Wase ... Villages belonging to Tarok and other tribes were razed and many lives, men, women and children, were lost." He said hundreds of people are homeless as a result.

Youth leader Shafi'i Sambo said the attacks on villagers, mainly of the Tarok tribe, follow the killings and mutilations of six soldiers by Tarok youths on Thursday. He said four soldiers still are missing in that attack.

Plateau state is riven by ethno-religious violence over land use between mainly Christian farmers and mainly Muslim semi-nomadic cattle herders that has killed thousands over the years.

Nigeria's military has been accused of many atrocities including the deaths of thousands of detainees in the northeastern Islamic uprising by Boko Haram.

In 2013, reports by The Associated Press and Amnesty International investigations found the military had killed more than 200 civilians and burned down thousands of homes in the northeast fishing community of Baga after a soldier was killed in the town.

Nigerian Troops Accused Of Killing Dozens Of Civilians In Revenge Attacks Document

Hamas parades its weapons (file photo)

"The headlines in most places were entirely predictable: 'UN Says Israel Killed 44 Palestinians in Schools During Gaza War.' That was indeed one finding of a UN report published Monday - but only part of the story.

The report also confirmed something Israel's been saying all along: Hamas stored mortars and other weapons in at least three UN schools during last summer's war and fired rockets at Israel from two of them...

In fact, Hamas has long used UN facilities as a staging grounds and observation posts for attacks on Israel. And the United Nations barely raised an objection - unless and until Hamas was caught and called out.

The Palestinian Authority has hinted at having Israel investigated by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. But the real crimes here were committed by Hamas - and its UN accomplices."

UN Report Outlines How Hamas Used Kids as Human Shields Article