Resources updated between Monday, August 10, 2015 and Sunday, August 16, 2015
August 16, 2015
Disturbing images which have appeared online could be of three Assyrian Christian women ISIS abducted in February.
In three 'leaked' images shared on social media, the women hold pieces of paper on which their names and a date - July 27, 2015 - are written.
It is feared this means they will be sold to ISIS fighters if their families or charities do not pay ransom for their release, although no figure appears on the signs they hold.
On Tuesday, ISIS released 22 of more than 220 Christians they snatched from several Assyrian farming communities it raided in Iraq's north-eastern Hassakeh province, Syria, earlier this year.
The Assyrian Federation of Sweden has told MailOnline the women's surnames resemble those of families who lived in the region, although they cannot completely verify they are Christians.
It also said the theory of them being ransomed off to fund ISIS is plausible but, once again, difficult to confirm.
One woman stands over her young daughter holding a sign which reads Susan Elias along with the date July 27, 2015.
The second, who is alone, is called Hannaa Assaf Youssef. The third woman is surrounded by what appears to be her own three children but the writing on the sign could not be made out accurately.
'The names resemble the family names of people in a nearby village - Tel Jazire - so it is possible that these women could be from Assyrian villages but we cannot confirm that,' a source at the Assyrian Federation of Sweden said.
MailOnline's source, who is herself from the Assyrian village of Tel Shamiram, added: 'These names are names you find in Assyrian villages.'
Regarding the women being ransomed, the Federation said: 'It is a theory and it makes sense but we can not 100 per cent say that this will happen.'
Their images have emerged at the same time as a suspected ISIS video, thought to be filmed on July 17, which features eight kidnapped Assyrian men. Each one reads out his name and the village they were from.
The Assyrian Federation of Sweden, who translated the Arabic video for MailOnline, were certain these men were among more than 200 Assyrian Christians abducted by ISIS around the Khabur River region in February.
Its spokesman Afram Yakoub said: 'They state their names in the video and we have a list of the hostages so we can clearly see they are one of them.
'No ISIS fighter appears in the video but the last man clearly says we call on the international community to secure our release but he does not say anything about ransom.'
Their health and general appearance suggest, as ISIS have claimed, that they have not been harmed.
Islamic State fighters have abducted and sexually abused hundreds of women from northern Iraq's Yazidi community since it raided their villages last year.
But captured Christians and Jews have enjoyed more protection from the fighters because they regard them as 'People of the Book'.
The terror group may now have changed that stance, according to a recent New York Times interview with an abused Yazidi girl.
The vile ISIS fighter who raped the 12-year-old girl allegedly told her that 'what he was about to do was not a sin' because she 'practiced a religion other than Islam'.
ISIS also made clear in a 34-page manual released by its 'Research and Fatwa Department' that sex with Christians and Jews who were 'captured in battle' was also allowed.
Earlier this week, 22 of more than 220 Assyrian Christians were released. The Assyrian Federation of Sweden, which has followed the case, said it brings the total number of freed Assyrians to 45.
It claimed 14 of them were women and the freed hostages were taken to the Virgin Mary Church in the city of Hassakeh.
The Assyrian Human Rights Network said 14 of those released were women. The freed hostages were taken to the Virgin Mary Church in the city of Hassakeh, the network added.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said tribal leaders mediated the release of the 22, adding that money has been paid for the released group.
Only last week, ISIS kidnapped 230 Christians and Muslims in Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights who feared they were destined for death and slavery.
At least 60 of them are thought to be Christian and although nearly half were later released, the fate of the others is unknown.
The terrorists seized the town of Qaryatain after suicide bombers targeted army checkpoints at the entrance.
At least 45 women and 19 children were among the kidnapped while hundreds of others are thought to be missing.
Christians make up around ten per cent of Syria's pre-war population of 23million people.
August 15, 2015
August 14, 2015
The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) reports an increase in the Gazan infant mortality rate and wastes no time in speculating Israel is to blame.
Despite the fact that UNRWA spends 57% of its operating budget on "education" and only 18% on health, UNRWA health director Akihiro Seita, says: "It is hard to know the exact causes behind the increase in both neonatal and infant mortality rates, but I fear it is part of a wider trend. We are very concerned about the impact of the long-term blockade on health facilities, supplies of medicines and bringing equipment in to Gaza."
Dr. Seita failed to note the purpose of the blockade is to prevent Hamas from importing rockets, missiles, and other weapons intended to be used to kill Israeli infants - and their mothers and fathers.
August 13, 2015
August 11, 2015
They have burnt men alive and drowned prisoners in metal cages but now ISIS have released a new video showing off their new horrific method of committing murder.
Filmed in an unknown location in Afghanistan, ISIS militants are shown burying several explosive charges beneath the ground before covering them with earth.
The ten prisoners are blindfolded and led up to where the bombs have been buried before they are forced to their knees. The bloodthirsty jihadis detonate the charges, killing all the prisoners.
Several of the other victims were also condemned to death for helping the Afghan government counter the longstanding insurgency in the troubled country.
The video appears heavily co-choreographed with the ISIS fighters riding on horses across the green hills with the early morning fog adding to dramatic effect.
The two arriving militants appear surprisingly young with their fashionable looking trainers underneath their long flowing black shalmar khameez.
Keen to carry out their horrendous act of brutality, the two new arrivals rush to join the line of militants standing behind the line of prisoners.
All ten of the victims are blindfolded with a beige coloured scarf, with several of the victims appearing to be elderly in comparison to their young captors.
All the ISIS fighters carry machine guns and only one of them attempts to hide his identity by wearing a black balaklava.
Once ready, the ISIS militants lead their prisoners to where the bombs are buried, dragging their victims by their loose blindfolds.
Several militants are shown putting the final preparations to the bombs, checking the yellow wires are correctly secured before covering up the explosives with earth.
The prisoners are led up to the hill and made to stand in a line.
Concealed in the ground beneath their knees, the deadly explosive charges lie in wait, having been carefully wired up by several ISIS militants.
Unknown to the blindfold prisoners, they are made to kneel on the freshly relaid mounts of earth, where the explosives are buried.
The two ISIS fighters wait by the prisoners before sprinting away from the line of victims just before the bombs detonate.
The final scenes are too graphic to describe but represent the inhumane brutality of the jihadi organisation, who are continuing to grow in strength in Afghanistan.
Iran Human Rights, August 9 2015: According to official reports, Iranian authorities have carried out another amputation sentence in Mashhad's Vakilabad Prison – this is the second amputation sentence carried out in this prison in one week. According to the Khorasan Razavi Justice Department, a prisoner, identified as M.R., had his right hand and left foot amputated for charges including: Moharebeh (Waging war against God) through participating in eight counts of armed robbery, Destroying government property, Stealing a motorcycle, Physically harming a security agent, Consuming alcohol and illegal drugs, and illegally crossing the country's border. The prisoner's sentence was reportedly issued by Mashhad's Revolutionary Court.
This isn't the way it was supposed to be. Western backers of the Libyan uprising against dictator Muammar Gaddafi four years ago imagined that with him out of the way the door would be open for some sort of democracy or, at least, some serious respect for human rights.
To be sure, the final demise of Gaddafi himself was a gruesome dénouement. His captors dragged him dazed and bloodied from a desert culvert west of the Libyan town of Sirte and killed him with ferocious violence. Initially the revolutionary victors lied about the tyrant's fate, claiming he had died from injuries sustained in a firefight, but videos emerged that showed him partially stripped, beaten by rebels and stabbed or sodomized with a bayonet or stick in the rear before he was shot.
Western backers of the uprising tut-tutted a bit, but the country's new leaders quickly reassured them this was just a sad misstep; the new Libya would observe human rights meticulously and could be trusted to hold fair trials. There could be no comparison with Gaddafi's four-decade-long republic of fear, where torture was a fine art used with maniacal zeal on liberal and Islamist activists alike-or anyone, for that matter, disliked by "The Family."
Four years on now, more videos of rights abuses are emerging willy-nilly, and it's clear the appalling brutishness of Gaddafi-run Libya, with its culture of fear and vengeance, has carried over into the practices of those who brought him down.
Perhaps most disturbingly, many Libyans don't seem to care, or they justify the viciousness by pointing to the brutality of their foes, as if somehow that absolves them.
Earlier this month, a video posted onlineapparently showed guards beating Gaddafi's playboy son Saadi on the soles of his feet during an interrogation at al-Hadba prison. Other inmates in adjacent rooms can be heard screaming and Saadi, his head shaved, and wearing a green tracksuit, is made to listen to the torments his fellow detainees are enduring before being blindfolded and asked whether he wants to be thrashed on his rear or on his feet.
"I swear to God, if you give me rest I will give you all the information," he says at one point in the nine-minute edited video. But the aim of the abuse seems to have nothing to do with extracting information and everything to do with exacting revenge and humiliation.
And the reaction among Libyans? Mostly a collective shrug.
"Saadi has blood and corruption on his hands...hitting him on his feet doesn't seem like much to complain about," wrote one Libyan on a closed Facebook forum. "Someone who commits a crime pays the price. The fact that he is punished is not oppression."
A Libyan-American who happens to be practicing lawyer chimed in: "To all the human rights activists, who gives a DAMN what happens to this guy? All this BS sympathetic outpouring is nonsense. Whip this guy's feet until they bleed baby! For every woman raped, for every child killed, for every family destroyed!"
But it isn't only the Gaddafi family and their henchmen who are bearing the brunt of abuse. Casual, programmed brutality has seeped into every nook and cranny of divided Libya. Torture of prisoners and foes is routine by the many militias, including those loyal to either the rump parliament in the Libyan capital controlled mainly by Islamists or the internationally recognized authorities camped out in the eastern towns of Tobruk and Bayda.
Abuse is systematic, an involuntary reflex reaction, an expression of rage and frustration prompting a downward spiral, as several rights reports have documented since Gaddafi's ouster.
As their high revolutionary hopes have been dashed and as the country struggles with militia and crime-based violence, the rise of an ISIS affiliate and sharp ideological divisions galore, Libyans seem hell-bent on continuing a descent into grotesque brutality, distancing themselves from the noble objectives of the 2011 uprising.
The brusque disdain for human dignity can't be disguised even when viciousness is meant to be concealed from visiting Western journalists or rights workers. No, they don't beat migrants held in detention centers in front of you, but the sticks are in plain view, the sharp, overbearing commands are heard and detainees cower as guards approach, expecting slap at best or a beating or worse, as I saw in touring holding centers earlier this summer.
The prosecutor general of the Tripoli-based authority, who has responsibility for al-Hadba prison, has promised to launch a probe to identify the guards in the video recording of Saadi's treatment and "to take the necessary legal action against them." Few believe much, if anything, will happen to them. These are just words for overseas consumption to placate the West.
Gaddafi taught Libya that power has its own unchallengeable prerogatives and, alas, Libyans appear to have learned that lesson all too well.
Last week videos were posted of the abuse of captured ISIS-affiliated fighters, who are thrown off the back of trucks, punched, beaten and slapped amid raucous laughter-all clearly in preparation for much greater abuse to come.
Amnesty International reports that in the past year 378 people have vanished without a trace, abducted in unprecedented numbers for reasons including political beliefs or membership of this or that tribe or just for old-fashioned ransom. Among those abducted were 49 foreign nationals, including 21 Egyptian Christians kidnapped and beheaded by ISIS near Sirte in the winter.
The Libyan Red Crescent has come up with a figure of 626 abductees-508 of those in Benghazi, where Islamists have sought to clear the city of civil society activists and supporters of the Operation Dignity military offensive launched against them by General Khalifa Hafter, the head of the armed forces of the internationally recognized government.
But Amnesty notes in its report: "Supporters of each side of the conflict have also carried out numerous reprisals involving abductions, unlawful killings and attacks against civilian property."
Western powers are not helping by pulling their condemnatory punches. There has been scant censure from Western capitals of the airstrikes and artillery bombardment of civilian targets by Hafter, for example. Amnesty has dubbed the indiscriminate shelling a war crime. Western condemnation has been withheld often because of the fear it will undermine the UN-mediated peace talks aimed at setting up a unity government, one able to restore the rule of law.
But with the torture demon so deeply embedded in Libya's psyche, it will take more than a unity government to exorcize it. What is needed is a determined cultural change that stops Libyans from shrugging their shoulders when their foes "get what they deserve."
"Look around you and what do you see?" a Libyan writes on one of the threads about abuse. "Pillage, plunder, human rights violations, arbitrary arrest, torture, execution, unfair trials, illegal detention, war, terrorism, foreign interference, lack of autonomy, lack of sovereignty, squandering of resources, and much more ,,, and what about the internal psychological scars of the traumatized.........all for what? For the few who just want to be the next dictators, worse than any Gaddafi ... now every single Libyan is the loser."
Libya's Return to Barbarism Document
It is no secret that most of the Arab countries have long been mistreating their Palestinian brethren by subjecting them to a series of Apartheid-like discriminatory laws and regulations that often deny them basic rights.
In countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Syria, Palestinians are treated as second and third class citizens, a fact that has forced many of them to seek better lives in the U.S., Canada, Australia and various European countries. As a result, many Palestinians today feel unwelcome in their countries of origin and other Arab countries.
The condition of Palestinians in Arab countries began to deteriorate after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The Palestinians were the first to "congratulate" Saddam Hussein on his invasion of Kuwait, a country that used to provide the PLO with tens of millions of dollars in financial aid every year. But many fled Kuwait to be away from the anarchy and lawlessness that prevailed after the Iraqi invasion.
When Kuwait was liberated the following year by a U.S.-led coalition, some 200,000 Palestinians were expelled from the oil-rich emirate in retaliation for having supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of it. An additional 150,000 Palestinians had fled Kuwait before the U.S.-led coalition war. They had suspected a new incursion might be in the offing, and were worried about what would be awaiting them once Kuwait was liberated.
Most of the Palestinians who left Kuwait voluntarily, or who were expelled, settled in Jordan.
The Palestinians in Iraq are now also paying a heavy price. Since 2003, the number of Palestinians there has dropped from 25,000 to 6,000. Palestinian activists say the Iraqis are waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the country's Palestinian population.
The activists say that since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, Shiite militias in Iraq have been systematically attacking and intimidating the Palestinian population over the past decade, prompting many to flee.
The Shiites, they say, are opposed to the presence of non-Iraqi Sunnis, including the Palestinians, in their country -- especially in the capital, Baghdad.
In addition, they say, many Sunnis in Iraq who had opposed Saddam Hussein have also been waging war on the Palestinians, in retaliation for their support for him.
Thamer Meshainesh, head of the League for Palestinians in Iraq, was quoted a few days ago as saying that Palestinians were facing "unprecedented violations" and "increasing assaults." He warned that Palestinians in Iraq were being targeted by various militias as part of a systematic policy to expel them from the country.
Abu al-Walid, a Palestinian researcher who has been following the plight of the Palestinians in Iraq for several years, pointed out that 19,000 out of the 25,000 Palestinians in Iraq have already fled the country. He also noted that Palestinians were being targeted on a daily basis on the pretext of involvement in terrorism.
But UN only cares about Palestinians when it comes to Israel.
According to the researcher, many Palestinians captured by Shiite militias in Iraq have been brutally tortured and forced to "confess" to their alleged involvement in terrorism.
Meshainesh and Abu al-Walid accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of failing to help the Palestinian in Iraq. They said that the only effort made by the PA in this regard has been limited to "empty rhetoric."
The Palestinians in Iraq are paying the price for meddling in the internal affairs of the country. This is what also happened to Palestinians in Syria, Lebanon and Libya. Palestinians often find themselves involved, both directly and indirectly, in the rivalries that take place inside Arab countries. And when the fire reaches them, they start screaming for help, as is the case today in Iraq.
But what is most interesting is the complete indifference displayed by international human rights organizations, the media and the Palestinian Authority toward the mistreatment of Palestinians in Arab countries.
The PA, whose leaders are busy inciting against Israel on a daily basis, does not have time to care about its people in the Arab world. PA leaders say they want to press "war crimes" charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court because of last year's war with Hamas and continued construction in West Bank settlements.
However, when it comes to ethnic cleansing and torture of Palestinians in Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority leadership chooses to look the other way.
Similarly, the international media seems to have forgotten that there are tens of thousands of Palestinians living in various Arab countries. The only Palestinians that Western journalists know and care about are those living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
International journalists do not care about the Palestinians in the Arab world because this is not a story that can be blamed on Israel. An Arab killing or torturing an Arab is not an item worth publishing in a major newspaper in the U.S., Canada or Britain. But when a Palestinian in the West Bank complains against the Israeli authorities or Jewish settlers, many Western journalists waste no time rushing to the scene to cover this "major" development.
The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Iraq is not a strange phenomenon in the Arab world. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have also fled Syria during the past few years. Most have gone to Lebanon and Jordan, where authorities are doing their utmost to ensure that the Palestinian refugees know that they are unwelcome. Palestinian activists estimate that in a few years from now, there will be no Palestinians in Iraq or Syria.
The UN and other international bodies have obviously not heard of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the Arab world. They too are so obsessed with Israel that they prefer not to hear about the suffering of Palestinians under Arab regimes.
Not only do the Arab countries despise the Palestinians, they also want them to be the problem of Israel alone. That is why, since 1948, Arab governments have refused to allow Palestinians permanently to settle in their countries and become equal citizens. Now these Arab countries are not only denying Palestinians their basic rights, they are also killing and torturing them, and subjecting them to ethnic cleansing. And this is all happening while world leaders and governments continue to bury their heads in the sand and point an accusing finger at Israel.