Resources updated between Monday, September 01, 2014 and Sunday, September 07, 2014
September 7, 2014
"Two British human rights workers who disappeared while researching alleged abuse of migrant labourers in Qatar are being held by the Gulf state on unspecified charges, it was confirmed today. The gas-rich country, which has embarked on a vast building boom to prepare for the 2022 World Cup, acknowledged that Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev had been held by its "security authorities" and remain in detention after a six-day silence on their whereabouts. The Norwegian charity employing the Britons said Mr Upadhyaya had sent text messages before his disappearance last Sunday complaining that he was being followed by plain clothes police and feared arrest in the final hours of a visit to interview Nepalese labourers about their working and living conditions."
September 5, 2014
The UN directly contributed to the death of Palestinian civilians during the Gaza war. Arutz Sheva reports that a UN official admitted Israel sought the UN's help in clearing neighborhoods of civilians in advance of imminent Israeli operations directed at military targets embedded in those civilian neighborhoods - and the UN refused.
Eliminating the gratuitous personal complaints, the bare facts admitted at an August 21, 2014 press conference given by Pernille Ironside, Chief of the UNICEF Gaza Field Office, are as follows:
The UN Human Rights Council has been caught in another human rights cover-up, this time in Libya, and by its own staff.
In 2012 the Council adopted a resolution, entitled "Assistance for Libya in the field of human rights" which said: "The Human Rights Council...welcom[ed]... the ongoing efforts of the transitional Government of Libya to fulfill its obligations under the international human rights treaties to which Libya is party, to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms... [and] commend[ed] the courage of the people of Libya, and strongly support[ed] the efforts of the transitional Government of Libya towards a swift and peaceful political transition and the full realization of human rights".
In 2013 and 2014, the Council adopted two more resolutions which "recognize[ed] the efforts made by Libya in building the basis for democracy, the rule of law and human rights" and "welcom[ed]... the commitment of Libya to the rule of law" and "the efforts made by the Government of Libya to stabilize the security situation."
But on September 4, 2014, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the United Nations Human Rights Office released a report which concluded that "serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law are taking place in the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi with dire consequences for civilians and civilian infrastructure." The abuses found in Libya include the following: "...indiscriminate shelling and attacks on civilian objects, the shelling of hospitals, the abduction of civilians, torture and unlawful killings... harassment of and attacks against journalists by all parties to the conflict, including... abductions and assassinations...The fighting has also severely affected the administration of justice. The courts in Tripoli and Benghazi effectively stopped functioning..."
The Obama administration has been a lead champion of the bona fides of the Human Rights Council, having joined the Council in 2009 as one of its first major foreign policy moves.
"Reporters Without Borders condemns the verdict handed down two days ago by a Riyadh appeal court upholding the sentence of 10 years' imprisonment and 1,000 lashes passed on the cyber-activist Raef Badawi.
Badawi is the co-founder of the website Liberal Saudi Network, an online discussion forum aimed at encouraging political and social debate in Saudi Arabia. His sentence for 'insulting Islam' was originally imposed on 7 May by the Jeddah criminal court, which also ordered him to pay a fine of one million riyals (200,000 euros). The authorities have since closed down the website."
"ISIS has received considerable world attention for its savage beheadings, executions of captured soldiers and men in conquered towns and villages, violence against Christians and Shiites, and the destruction of non-Sunni shrines and places of worship. But its barbarity against women has been treated as a side issue. Arab and Muslim governments, vocal on the threat ISIS poses to regional stability, have been virtually silent on ISIS's systemic degradation, abuse, and humiliation of women. To the men of ISIS, women are an inferior race, to be enjoyed for sex and be discarded, or to be sold off as slaves.
From ISIS-captured territory in Syria, we saw a photograph of a line of women, covered from head to toe and tied to one another by a rope, as they were being led to a makeshift slave market. Little girls, who were going to school and playing with dolls before ISIS fighters arrived at their doorstep, were married off to men many times their age."
September 4, 2014
From September 2-5, 2014 Turkey is hosting the ninth annual meeting of the United Nations-backed Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The forum is supposed to discuss key issues "that could affect every Internet user today and tomorrow."
Maybe they should start with the host. Earlier this year Turkey had shut down Twitter, blocked YouTube, and jailed journalists and bloggers. Amnesty International reports on September 2, 2014: "Twenty-nine Twitter users are being tried in Izmir, Turkey, and face up to three years in jail for posting tweets during last year's protests that the authorities claim 'incite the public to break the law'. None of the tweets contained any incitement to violence....Three users have been additionally charged with 'insulting' the Prime Minister."
During peaceful demonstrations against the scheduled Gezi Park demolition in Istanbul in June 2013 President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Twitter a "menace to society."
VOA News reports: "Turkey has a very poor record of protecting free expression online, with tens of thousands of websites being blocked under legislation passed in 2007. Internet controls were further tightened in February this year...The U.N. insists the choice of Turkey was normal, as it has rotated between all member nations. Assistant Secretary-General Thomas Gaas defended the Istanbul venue at Tuesday's press conference. 'The United Nations works to promote an in-depth discussion of an open, free Internet and we believe this discussion has to take place; it is good that this discussion is taking place here,' said Gaas."
No changes in Turkey are expected on the "menace to society" following what is in effect the UN's vote of confidence in its host's behavior.
The Obama administration is playing with fire at the UN Security Council, actively considering the idea of capitulating to Arab demands over a resolution on Gaza. Now on the table are draft versions from the United States, Europe and Jordan/the Arab group.
The Europeans are pushing for the introduction of an "international monitoring and verification mission" in Gaza that would supposedly ensure the implementation of the ceasefire agreement. What it would actually do is prevent Israel from exercising the right of self-defense against Hamas attacks emanating from Gaza in the future, since the international personnel would immediately serve as human shields for Palestinian terrorists. The European proposed mission would also supposedly investigate and report on violations, despite the reality that UN missions in other Arab countries (such as Lebanon) have never satisfactorily fulfilled similar mandates.
The United States draft resolution asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to develop options for a verification mechanism for "dual-use" materials - such as concrete - that Israel would be expected to allow into Gaza. That's the same Secretary-General who spent the 50-day war slandering Israel with the charge of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians.
The United States holds the presidency of the Security Council for the month of September and may view a Gaza resolution as a "victory" during its tenure. The frequent course of UN diplomacy is to expect the U.S. to capitulate to European demands as a faux "middle-ground." Moreover, it would not be the first time that the Obama administration played protecting Israel against international coalition-building on other fronts.
September 3, 2014
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), infamous for its one-sided coverage of the Gaza war, slammed Israel for "an unprecedented scale of destruction in Gaza".
On September 2, 2014 the United Nations Information Service in Geneva held its "regular press briefing" chaired by the Director of the Information Service. The briefing included statements by the several spokespersons of UN agencies and offices including the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs.
Jens Laerke, OCHA's spokesperson, focused solely on the situation in Gaza while making the outrageous claim of "an unprecedented scale of destruction in Gaza."
Journalists in Geneva were also briefed on the current developments in Syria and Iraq, but OCHA's Laerke apparently didn't think that almost 200,000 dead in Syria or the persecution of the Iraqi Yazidis, Christians and other minorities merited OCHA's attention.
OCHA's mandate is to "ensure a coherent response to emergencies" including through "mobilizing and coordinating effective and principled humanitarian action in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies, advocating the rights of people in need, promoting preparedness and prevention and facilitating sustainable solutions."
Clearly OCHA forgot the "principled" part of "principled humanitarian action," opting instead for serving as an obsessive anti-Israel propagandist.
Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists who kidnapped 43 United Nations peacekeepers, all Fiji nationals, on August 27, 2014 inside Syria have issued a list of demands for their release.
According to news reports: "The rebels from the Nusra Front, which has ties to al-Qaida, have demanded to be taken off the U.N. terrorist list; humanitarian aid delivered to parts of the Syrian capital Damascus; and compensation for three of its fighters it says were killed by U.N. officers during a shootout."
The UN's response? It sent "hostage negotiators to Syria."
Fiji's military commander Brig. Gen. Mosese Tikoitoga said the U.N. had sent negotiators to Syria to take over discussions from military leaders: "Negotiations have moved up to another level with the professional negotiators now in place".
"A British businessman living in Saudi Arabia was set upon and beaten up by members of the country's religious police after using a women-only cash till with his wife at a local supermarket.
Peter Howarth-Lees, who is married to a Saudi woman, was knocked to the ground and kicked by three members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, known as the Mutawa, who followed the couple out of the shop.
'While I was on the ground all three of them proceeded to kick me repeatedly in the head and back and then one of them stamped hard on my face,' he said in a statement to a local website. 'On seeing this, my wife got out of the car and somehow managed to push them off me and I managed to stand up.' His wife was kicked in the stomach."
September 2, 2014
"Islamist Boko Haram insurgents overran most of a northeastern Nigerian town on Tuesday after hours of fighting that killed scores and displaced thousands of residents, security sources said. The Islamists launched an attack on the town of Bama, 70 km (45 miles) from the Borno state capital of Maiduguri, on Monday. They were initially repelled but came back in greater numbers overnight, the sources and witnesses said. Nigerian defense spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. The sources said there were heavy casualties on both sides and one said at least 5,000 people fled the town. In a bungled air strike, several Nigerian troops were killed at the Bama armory by a war plane targeting the insurgents, a soldier on the ground told Reuters. Two months after Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria declared the area they seized an Islamic caliphate, Boko Haram has also for the first time explicitly laid claim to territory it says it controls in parts of northeast Nigeria. They captured the remote hilly farming town of Gwoza, along the Cameroon border, during fighting last month. The group's leader Abubakar Shekau in a video declared it a 'Muslim territory' that would be ruled by strict Islamic law..."
"The barbarians have butchered another American journalist and threatened to do the same to a defenseless Brit - a pair of menacing acts met by silence from President Obama.
"The Islamic State released another horrific video Tuesday that shows the beheading of 31-year-old Steven Sotloff.
"'I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State because of your insistence on continuing your bombings,' the English-accented executioner known as 'Jihadi John' says as he holds a knife to Sotloff's neck.
"'Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.'
"Then, as the reporter struggles to get off his knees, the killer starts sawing at his neck with a knife.
"The final scene shows the murderer threatening to do the same to a captured British citizen, David Haines. Like Sotloff, he is clad in orange."
"Iran's leaders are preparing for another visit to New York this month for the U.N. General Assembly, but many of their citizens aren't going anywhere as they languish in the regime's prisons for political crimes. One notable case is Farshid Fathi, an evangelical Christian pastor who this week will spend his 35th birthday in jail. The intelligence ministry arrested Pastor Fathi in December 2010. The father of two then spent a year in solitary and semi-solitary confinement in Evin prison's Ward 209, reserved for political cases. There he was interrogated for hours on end and subjected to psychological abuse, according to an Iranian Christian convert who has also spent time in prison for his beliefs, currently resides in the country and is familiar with Pastor Fathi's case. A Tehran revolutionary court in February 2012 convicted Pastor Fathi of acting against national security and sentenced him to six years including time served. More recently he has been transferred to Rajai Shahr prison on the outskirts of Tehran, where he is sharing a cell with addicts and other common criminals who routinely harass and threaten him. When he inquired about the reason for this latest transfer, the pastor was told that it was because he sang Christian hymns. The Iranian regime knows the political value of punishment and humiliation all-too well, and in Pastor Fathi's case his harsh imprisonment is meant to send a message to his followers. Iran's traditional Christian communities, such as Orthodox Armenians and Assyrians, are protected under the Islamic Republic's constitution as so-called People of the Book. Their daily lives are subject to various legal restrictions, however. Their schools and church activities are closely watched, and they can't lead most public institutions..."
A Christian Prisoner in Iran Documents
On August 29, 2014 the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) slammed the United States for "racial and ethnic discrimination". The Committee is composed of 18 supposedly "independent" experts who monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by state parties, of which the U.S. is one. During its latest assessment of U.S. compliance with the treaty, the Committee issued "concluding observations" that accuse the U.S. of "racial profiling of racial or ethnic minorities by law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration, border enforcement officials and local police."
Heading the Committee's assessment of the U.S. record on racial discrimination was Committee member, and Vice-Chair, Noureddine Amir of Algeria, who acted as "rapporteur" on the U.S. report. Amir held a news conference on August 29, 2014, in which he made the outrageous claim that "racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life" in the United States.
Amir said: "The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern and particularly in light of the shooting of Michael Brown...This is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials. Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing."
So who are these human rights "experts"?
The Committee members judging the United States included "experts" from countries with atrocious records of the rights they were supposed to examine, like Algeria (Vice-Chair), Russia (Vice-Chair), China, Pakistan and Lebanon. For example, according to the latest U.S. State Department country report, "excessive use of force by police" and "impunity for police and security officials" remained "a problem" and one of the major "human rights concerns" in Algeria. In Russia, there was "a pattern of beatings, arrests, and extortion by police when dealing with persons who appeared to be of Caucasus, Central Asian, African, or Romani ethnicity." In China "Security forces committed human rights abuses. Repression and coercion, particularly against ...ethnic minorities... were routine." In Pakistan "societal discrimination against national, ethnic, and racial minorities persisted as did discrimination based on caste." And in Lebanon there was "a widespread pattern of discrimination against individuals who did not appear ethnically Lebanese...Arab, African, and Asian students, professionals, and tourists reported being denied access to bars, clubs, restaurants, and private beaches."
September 1, 2014
UN'S top rights body decides to study & report on ISIS violations until March 2015
On September 1, 2014 the UN Human Rights Council held a "special session" on Iraq. The session - pushed by the Obama administration as doing something in response to the horrific terrorist rampage across Syria and Iraq - was supposed to address "the human rights situation in Iraq in light of abuses committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups."
The resolution that was adopted by the Council at the end of the special session is seriously flawed. Despite the obvious urgency of the ISIS threat, the resolution requests a report on violations of human rights law in Iraq for presentation seven months from now in March 2015. The text - pushed by the United States among others - congratulates the UN and Iraqi partners (ie the United States) for helping the Iraqi national authorities, notwithstanding the horrors already endured, and the continuing onslaught against Yazidis, Christians and other minorities. The resolution focuses on Iraq and never mentions ISIS operations in Syria, as if the terrorist organization recognizes state boundaries.
For many participants, the special session became an opportunity to focus on a new ISIS victim: Islam. Various states and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) were primarily worried that atrocities committed by ISIS would reflect badly on Islam: