Resources updated between Monday, September 15, 2014 and Sunday, September 21, 2014
September 21, 2014
The UN's top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, is poised to adopt a resolution on human rights in Yemen on September 25 or 26, 2014. Despite the fact that Yemen has an abysmal human rights record - ranked lowest on the Freedom House scale as "not free" - the Council has gone to extraordinary lengths to praise the country.
The text of the resolution is entitled "Technical assistance and capacity building for Yemen in the field of human rights." It includes such language as: " The Human Rights Council... Welcomes... the commitment of the government of Yemen to fully promote and protect human rights...Welcomes the measures of the government of Yemen to end the recruitment and the use of children...Notes with appreciation the considerable representation of women...Looks forward to the Government continuing its efforts to promote and protect human rights... Reiterates the commitments and obligations of the government of Yemen to promote and protect human rights".
The actual record of human rights in Yemen, as detailed in the most recent State Department report of 2013 includes:
September 20, 2014
On September 19, 2014 a Palestinian diplomat, speaking at a side event during the current UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, compared Israel's actions in Gaza to the bombing of Hiroshima. Permission for all such side events must be given by the UN secretariat, and the events are advertised by the UN.
Here are some of the comments made by Adel Atieh, representing the peace-seeking "state of Palestine:"
September 19, 2014
"On April 14, 2014, members of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram raided a girls' school in Chibok, a town in northern Nigeria, and abducted 276 girls between the ages of 17 and 20. In spite of a worldwide outcry and assistance from the United States, the government of Nigeria has been unable to rescue the missing girls. Today marks their 158th day of captivity. Of the 276 girls originally abducted, 57 managed to escape in the first 48 hours, most while they were being transported from the school to territory controlled by Boko Haram. Four of those girls have recently come to the United States under the auspices of the Jubilee Campaign, an American NGO which has been working with victims of Boko Haram in Nigeria, so that they can finish their education is safety. Boko Haram is opposed to the education of women. One of those four girls told her story to Breitbart. In order to protect her and her family, who remains in Nigeria, her identity has been kept secret."
September 18, 2014
According to a new UN report, some of the world's worst human rights abusers are denying access to UN human rights investigators. The list includes members of the UN's top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, despite the fact that states promise cooperation if elected. Members refusing to cooperate include China, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates.
On September 12, 2014 the UN watchdog on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances presented its report to the UN Human Rights Council session currently being held in Geneva.
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances was established in 1980 with a mandate to "to examine questions relevant to enforced or involuntary disappearances of persons" including by conducting visits which "are undertaken only at the invitation of a Government".
In its report to the Council the Working Group lists countries which it has requested, but has never been able, to visit. Here are the holdouts:
The execution wave continues in Iran. According to the official and unofficial reports, in the last 30 days at least 95 people have been executed in different Iranian cities. This is an average of more than 3 executions everyday. Iran Human Rights urges the international community to condemn the execution wave in Iran.
Iran Human Rights, September 18, 2014: Five people were hanged publicly in the cities of Shiraz and Sardasht (Province of Fars, Southern Iran) early Thursday morning September 18., reported the Iranian state media.
According to the Young Journalists Club (YJC), a news website close to the Iranian security forces, four of the men were hanged in the "Azadi (Liberty) Square" of Shiraz. These men were identified as: "Bahram", "Edalat" and "Mohammad" charged with kidnapping and rape, and "Jahanbakhsh B." charged with "corruption on the earth" and armed robbery.
One man identified as "Hossein Sh." was hanged publicly in Sardasht. He was charged with "Corruption on earth" and armed robbery, said the report.
Pictures of the public executions in Shiraz shows children watching the executions.
"The sentences faced by the young people who answered Pharrell Williams's call are suspended for the moment, but could be carried out any time in the next three years. It's been a tense, worrying time for Iran's 'Happy' group, the seven young men and women arrested in May for posting their version of Pharrell Williams' music video on YouTube. Over the last few days, they've been pacing up and down the hallways of the Tehran courthouse where their trial was due to take place, making sure all their legal papers were in order. Today their lawyer, Farshid Rofugaran, told IranWire that six of his clients had been sentenced to six months in prison and 91 lashes. One of them was given a sentence of one year in prison and 91 lashes. 'Fortunately,' said Rofugaran, 'the sentences were suspended.' But he was quick to point out that, until he received official notification, he could not be 100 percent sure of his clients' situation."
"A blogger found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammad in his postings on Facebook has been sentenced to death. An informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the blogger, Soheil Arabi, will be able to appeal the decision until September 20, 2014. Agents from the Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Sarallah Base arrested Soheil Arabi, 30, and his wife in November 2013. Arabi's wife was released a few hours later, but he was kept in solitary confinement for two months inside IRGC's Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, before he was transferred to Evin's General Ward 350. Branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court, under Judge Khorasani, found Arabi guilty of 'sabb al-nabi' (insulting the Prophet), on August 30, 2014. 'The way he was arrested was illegal. It is not clear how the agents were able to enter their home at that time in the morning. All the doors were locked and family members were asleep. Agents entered his home and bedroom. He and his wife were arrested and some of their photographs and personal belongings were taken after their home was searched,' said the source."
September 17, 2014
Discourse at UN's top rights body today includes Cuba accusing U.S. of running "concentration camps"
On September 16, 2014 the Cuban Ambassador Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo claimed that the United States is "torturing" people in "concentration camps."
Camejo, speaking at the UN Human Rights Council, said: "The US, aided and abetted by some EU allies, holds records for political assassinations and extrajudicial executions including with unmanned vehicles. They hold record for abductions, torture in concentration camps such as the illegal base in Guantanamo Bay and also for prisons and arbitrary and racist implementation of the death penalty and crimes against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan... "
After she finished the Council's President, Baudelaire Ndong Ella of Gabon, said: "Thank you, Ambassador."
The Obama administration has said "the Human Rights Council is a critical venue for addressing some of the most persistent threats to human rights around the world" (June 10, 2014) and that "U.S. leadership helped to keep the Council at the forefront of international efforts to promote and protect human rights" (June 30, 2014).
Richard Falk, a former UN "Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories" and antisemite has been invited to deliver the annual Edward Said lecture at the Columbia University Heyman Center for the Humanities on October 20, 2014.
His credentials? Falk has glorified Ayatollah Khomeini as a "true revolutionary", publicly supported investigating theories that the 9/11 was an "inside job", analogized Israeli actions to that of the Nazis, and defended the Boston marathon bombing.
September 16, 2014
The only place that UN peacekeepers on the Golan Heights feel safe is in Israel - exactly the feeling of Israelis. But that's the same place that a constant stream of UN resolutions demand Israel leave and turn over to Syria. The irony is lost on the UN.
On September 15, 2014 the UN announced that its peacekeepers were "relocated" to Israel from all of their posts in the Syrian Golan Heights due to a "deteriorating situation".
The following are remarks by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General:
"An update from the UN Disengagement Force in Golan Heights (UNDOF) - the situation in UN Disengagement Force on the Syrian side and the area of separation, has deteriorated severely over the last several days. Armed groups have made advances in the area of UNDOF positions, posing a direct threat to the safety and security of the UN peacekeepers along the Bravo line and in Camp Faouar. All of UN personnel in these positions have thus been relocated to the Alpha side. UNDOF continues to use all available assets to carry out its mandated tasks in this exceptionally challenging period and environment."
September 15, 2014
On September 10, 2014 the UN watchdog on arbitrary detention told the UN Human Rights Council that it continued to be denied access to various countries it sought to investigate.
The "Working Group on Arbitrary Detention" was established in 1991 with a mandate to "investigate cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily" including by conducting "field missions upon the invitation of Government".
In its report to the Council the Working Group lists countries which it has requested, but has not been able, to visit. The list includes UN Human Rights Council members and serious human rights abusers like Algeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The working group requested visits to Saudi Arabia and Russia in 2008, to Algeria in 2009 and to Venezuela in 2011.
All of these countries have continually refused to issue an invitation - thereby precluding the UN visit.
Other than the appearance in the report's list, none of these states anticipate any consequences of their non-cooperation.
"The Supreme Court in North Korea on Sunday sentenced one of the three Americans known to be held in the country to six years of hard labor for committing 'hostile acts' against the North.
North Korea said the American, Matthew Todd Miller of Bakersfield, Calif., committed the crime while entering the country on a tourist visa in April, according to the official Korean Central News Agency."