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Resources updated between Monday, February 17, 2014 and Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 23, 2014

Liu Xia

"Two prominent women - Liu Xia and Cao Shunli - were hospitalized in poor health this week, after months or years of detention, according to their lawyers and friends.

Ms. Liu, 52, the wife of the jailed Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, has been under effective house arrest for three years as her husband serves an 11-year jail term for 'inciting subversion of state power.' She was hospitalized on Tuesday, or Sunday - accounts vary - with severe depression and a heart ailment. Her emotional and mental state has long been regarded as fragile by supporters.

Ms. Cao, 52, a former cadre at the now-disbanded Ministry of Labor and Manpower, was detained after she took part in sit-down protests last year outside the Foreign Ministry, where she and others called for ordinary Chinese to be allowed to contribute to an assessment of human rights in China, part of the United Nations' Universal Periodical Review. The protests had failed - Chinese officials did not allow them to contribute to the country's human rights report, and late last year China was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council...

On Thursday morning, Ms. Cao was sent to an emergency hospital in Beijing where she was put on a ventilator, said her lawyer, Wang Yu, and a friend, Liu Xiaofang. Ms. Wang and Ms. Liu said she had tuberculosis, a liver complaint and uterine fibroids...

Ms. Cao, who was barred by security officials from traveling to Geneva late last year to take part in a training course run by a civil society group on United Nations rights mechanisms, was rushed to Beijing's Qinghe 999 Hospital from the Chaoyang Detention Center, where she was being held pending trial for 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble,' Ms. Wang said. The lawyer said Ms. Cao had contracted the tuberculosis and liver ailment while in detention and that her previous medical examinations had been clear...

Meanwhile, Liu Xia's lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said he had very little information about Ms. Liu's condition or even her precise whereabouts...'Her health has been very poor for a long time, not just her heart,' he said. 'Three years of house arrest have aggravated her health. She tried to apply for medical treatment overseas, but the authorities refused.'"

2 Prominent Women Under Detention Are Hospitalized Document

February 21, 2014

UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland

What's the easiest way to create a pro-human rights image at the UN? Send money to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. Kuwait News reports that Kuwait has donated $300,000 to the UN Human Rights Council. UN High Commissioner Pillay was thrilled and asked Kuwait to "continue its support to promote and raise awareness about human rights in different parts of the world."

The head of the Kuwaiti delegation to the UN office in Geneva, Jamal Al-Ghunaim, was equally pleased with the UN cover. "Al-Ghunaim described the talks with Pillay as very constructive. He added that the talks have tackled a large array of issues including Kuwait's cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council. He stressed that Kuwait's support of the UN Human Rights Council is meant to help put an end to the human rights abuses across the globe and disseminate human rights values."

Kuwait might begin by addressing human rights abuses closer to home. Here is how Kuwait, who is also a member of the UN's top rights body, has been "promoting and raising awareness of human rights", according to the State Department 2012 report on human rights in Kuwait:

    "Principal human rights problems included limitations on citizens' right to change their government; restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly force members abusing prisoners; restrictions on freedom of movement for certain groups...limitations on freedoms of press, association, and religion...
    Violence against women continued to be a problem... spousal rape is not a crime. The media reported hundreds of rape cases during the year. Many victims were noncitizen domestic workers. Police occasionally arrested alleged rapists...Laws against rape were not effectively enforced, especially in cases of noncitizen women raped by their employers... The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence... A woman may petition for divorce based on injury from abuse, but the law does not provide a clear legal standard regarding what constitutes injury. Additionally, a woman must provide at least two male witnesses (or a male witness and two female witnesses) to attest to the injury... The penal code penalizes honor crimes as misdemeanors. The law states that a man who sees his wife, daughter, mother, or sister in the 'act of adultery' and immediately kills her or the man with whom she is committing adultery will face a maximum punishment of three years' imprisonment and a fine of 225 dinars ($810)...
    Negative commentary regarding Jews appeared in the media...There was no government response...Reflecting the government's nonrecognition of Israel, there are longstanding official instructions to teachers to expunge from English-language textbooks any references to Israel or the Holocaust."

The UN "human rights" biz: UN Human Rights Council member Kuwait praised by UN for donation to the UN Human Rights Council Article

IAEA headquarters, Vienna, Austria

On February 21, 2014 the UN nuclear agency IAEA released a report on Iran's nuclear capabilities and its compliance with the interim agreement signed in November with Western powers entitled "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran". The report includes the following findings of Iranian non-compliance with its nuclear non-proliferation obligations and other violations of international law. Such findings are rendered meaningless, however, by the Obama administration's deal with Iran which prioritizes never-ending negotiations over serious consequences for non-compliance.

  • "The Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities...
  • Enrichment Related Activities... Contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran has not suspended all of its enrichment related activities in the declared facilities referred to below...
  • Heavy Water Related Projects...Contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran has not suspended work on all heavy water related projects..
  • Contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran is not implementing its Additional Protocol [Signed by Iran in December 2003, the Additional Protocol requires states to provide an expanded declaration of their nuclear activities and grants the Agency broader rights of access to sites in the country]. The Agency will not be in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran unless and until Iran provides the necessary cooperation with the Agency, including by implementing its Additional Protocol...
  • Possible Military Dimensions...The Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile...The Agency continues to seek answers from Iran to the detailed questions provided to Iran regarding Parchin and the foreign expert and to request access to a particular location at the Parchin site. Since the Agency's first request for access, extensive activities have taken place at this location that will have seriously undermined the Agency's ability to conduct effective verification. Since the Director General's previous report, the Agency has observed through satellite imagery what appears to be possible building material and debris at the location of interest."

IAEA finds - again - Iran not in compliance with its nuclear non-proliferation obligations Development

Palais Wilson, headquarters of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who has a long history of anti-Israel bias, has recently issued a new report where she charges Israel with "excessive use of force" and leaves readers with the impression that a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli soldiers. The report, released on February 18, 2014, is submitted annually for the purposes of keeping alive the notorious Goldstone report.

The report alleges that "The Israeli security forces seemed to have made the decision to use force that was not proportionate to the seriousness of the offence." It further alleges that "the IDF soldiers responded to stones thrown at their convoy as it passed through a crowded market near Qabatiya on 31 October 2013 with tear gas, sound grenades and live ammunition, which resulted in the death of an unarmed 21-year-old man, Ahmad Tazaz'a."

But here are the real facts, contrary to the High Commissioner's inflammatory conclusions. The IDF forces were attacked with "IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and stones" while trying to detain terrorist operatives in Qabatiya. And Ahmed Tazaz'a was not killed by IDF fire. He was actually injured in an "internal conflict" among Palestinian factions and was already hospitalized at the time of the confrontation between Israeli troops and a group of Palestinians. A detailed IDF investigation found that "official Palestinian reports said Tazaza arrived at hospital between 03:00 and 04:00, at least more than an hour before shots in the air were fired by the IDF."

One more example of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay's, perversion of human rights for her anti-human rights agenda.

The latest Israel-bashing report of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, falsifies the evidence Development

Witnesses say Chadian "peacekeepers" helping Muslims and killing civilians in the Central African Republic

"Chadian peacekeepers have killed at least 12 unarmed people in two days in the Central African Republic after fatally shooting six civilians yesterday in the capital, witnesses said.

The latest shootings occurred as the soldiers were escorting Chadian refugees to a military base near Bangui's M'poko airport, where more than 400,000 people have taken refuge from the Central African Republic's conflict.

The troops randomly shot at the civilians without provocation, according to witnesses. The violence caused scores of people to flee the refugee camp, they said.

On Tuesday, Chadian soldiers reportedly killed two civilians in Bangui and four civilians in the town of Damara, about 45 miles north of the capital.

The shootings were reported two weeks after Human Rights Watch accused Chadian peacekeepers of helping Muslim fighters in the Central African Republic, including escorting Muslim Seleka rebels from bases at which they were confined by African Union peacekeepers to areas where they committed atrocities against Christians."

Witnesses: Chadian troops kill civilians Document

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

"U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Wednesday it was a Christian militia that was behind recent atrocities in Central African Republic. Seleka, a Sunni Muslim rebel coalition, overthrew the government in March. Chaos ensued when former President Michel Djotodia lost control of the rebel force...Pillay said members of anti-balaka are deliberately targeting members of the Sunni population"

U.N.'s Pillay blames Christians for Central African Republic violence Article

February 20, 2014

Genesis Carmona is seen being evacuated on a motorcycle after being shot in the head during a protest in Venezuela Tuesday

"A Venezuelan beauty queen and student demonstrator was fatally shot in the head during a political protest, making the fifth fatality from the country's ongoing political turmoil. Genesis Carmona, 22, was photographed lying limp in the arms of a man riding a motorcycle after gunfire broke out at Tuesday's protest in the city of Valencia. She was pronounced dead at a hospital Wednesday afternoon...Tuesday's demonstration was part of a rally outside the imprisoned protest leader Leopoldo Lopez, a Harvard-educated economist who has spearheaded three weeks of demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro's government."

Venezuelan beauty queen Genesis Carmona, 22, fatally shot in head during protest Document

Anti-government protesters walk amid debris and flames on February 19, 2014 in Kyiv, Ukraine

"A short-lived truce crumbled Thursday as gunfire erupted at Independence Square, the center of anti-government protests and an increasingly violent crisis that threatens catastrophe for this divided nation...

The head of the protesters' medical service said 100 people died and 500 were injured in clashes on Thursday, just hours after the government declared a truce in fighting that had shocked world leaders with the deaths of 28 people two days before...

If Thursday's death toll is confirmed, it would make it the deadliest day in Ukraine since protests began...a doctor volunteering to treat protesters, Olga Bogomolets, accused government forces of shooting to kill, saying she had treated 13 people she believed had been targeted by 'professional snipers.' 'They were shot directly to their hearts, their brain and to their neck," she said. "They didn't give any chance to doctors, for us, to save lives.'"

Truce crumbles amid gunfire in Ukraine, protesters claim 100 dead Document

Portraits of 13 Iranians imprisoned or executed for their activism across from UN NYC Headquarters

On March 3, 2014 a multi-platform campaign called Unlock Iran will launch a website that will "guide users on a Facebook-oriented tour of what it's like to be imprisoned in Iran". The visitors will see their own timeline "altered to show what their life would be like if they were held in prison, and their friends will consist of the 10 photographed activists." This week representatives of Unlock Iran and the photographic Inside Out Project, with the help of renowned French street artist and social commentator JR, posted 11 portraits of imprisoned Iranian activists and two of recently executed activists, on a wall across the street from the UN Headquarters in New York City. According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center there were 624 executions in the country last year.

New Facebook Project Imitates Virtual Iranian Prison Article

February 19, 2014

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

A new Israel-bashing report has been issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for the upcoming March session of the UN Human Rights Council. The report is submitted annually pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions S-9/1, which in 2009 established the notorious Goldstone inquiry, and S-12/1, which subsequently adopted the Goldstone report.

The High Commissioner Navi Pillay has a long history of anti-Israel bias. She called for the creation of the Goldstone inquiry. After Goldstone claimed that Israel had intentionally targeted civilians, the High Commissioner expressed "full support to Justice Goldstone's report and its recommendations." In 2009, she issued a report that lauded Hamas for having "made public statements that it is committed to respect international human rights and humanitarian law."

In her latest report, among other things, Pillay accuses Israel of "excessive use of force" and lists alleged "incidents" on which she based her conclusion. One incident described in the report illustrates well her animosity against Israel.

The report alleges that Jihad Aslan and Younis Jahjouh "were shot and killed as they threw stones at the [IDF] soldiers" and that UNRWA employee Ruben Zayed, "was shot and killed on his way to work by the Israeli security forces as they were leaving the [Qalandia refugee] camp." It concludes that "In all of these cases, those killed or injured presented no threat to the lives of the soldiers."

In fact, while apprehending an arms dealer in the Qalandia refugee camp, the IDF was "confronted by scores of young Palestinian men who attacked them with Molotov cocktails, stones, cinder blocks and various other objects and shot at them." In response the soldiers fired shots at the rioters. After the investigation the IDF concluded that there was no excessive use of force because the violence the soldiers encountered was "extreme and unusual". In addition, the funeral of the three Palestinians was attended by Hamas leader Jamal al-Tawil. Also present was a member of Fatah's Central Committee, who called on the Palestinians to set up "human shields" to "protect the members of the resistance [i.e., terrorist organizations] and guard the homeland".

An objective report would at least include both accounts of this event.

Further, in the report the High Commissioner complains about Egyptian authorities destroying "numerous tunnels used to smuggle goods from Egypt to Gaza." She fails to mention that Hamas uses these tunnels as a way to circumvent the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and smuggle weapons into the Palestinian territory.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Pillay produces yet another Israel-bashing report Development

February 18, 2014

Boko Haram Jihadists

On Sunday morning, February 16, 2014, dozens of terrorists from the Nigerian Jihadist group Boko Haram ventured into several villages along the Christian border and slaughtered at least 150 Christians. The UN's response? Ravina Shamdasani of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights "condemned in the strongest terms Sunday's attack" without naming the religious identities of the attackers and their victims. Instead, Shamdasani used general terms such as "persons killed," "armed men," and "civilians." Solutions hurt by UN covering up religious and ethnic identities.

UN Condemns Nigeria Killing in the Abstract - No Mention of Islamic Killers or Christian Victims Development

The armed groups attacks have been increasingly deadly and sophisticated, killing more than 200 civilians in the past three weeks

"Attacks by Islamist armed groups that have killed more than 200 people in recent weeks in northern Nigeria have been increasingly deadly and sophisticated, and amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said.

On 15 February, more than 100 people were reportedly killed and hundreds of houses burnt as gunmen attacked Baga and Izge villages in Borno state. It is just the latest in a series of attacks the organization has documented there and in neighbouring Adamawa state over the past three weeks.

'These killings and the systematic campaign by armed groups targeting ordinary people constitute crimes against humanity. Perpetrators of these alleged crimes, including the leaders of the armed groups who are responsible, must be brought to justice in fair trials,' said Makmid Kamara, Nigeria Researcher at Amnesty International."

Islamist armed groups' carnage in northern Nigeria amounts to crimes against humanity Document

February 17, 2014

"The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stoned to death a young Syrian girl for membership in Facebook social network. The ISIL militants took the Syrian girl, Fatoum Al-Jassem, to Al-Reqqa religious court and the judge ruled that membership in Facebook is tantamount to adultery and sentenced her to death by stoning..."

Syrian Girl Stoned To Death For Facebook Membership Document

Crowds bow to the statues of North Korea leaders

On February 17, 2014 the UN released the "Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea." The Commission, established on March 21, 2013, was barred from visiting North Korea and held public hearings in Tokyo, London, San Francisco and Seoul, South Korea.

The UN report documents "unspeakable atrocities" in North Korea, including murdering babies born to pregnant women caught fleeing sexual violence, and political victims forced to catch snakes and mice to feed starving babies.

Among the "systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations" the Commission found to have been committed:

    - arbitrary detention, torture, executions and enforced disappearance to political prison camps;
    - violations of the freedoms of thought, expression and religion;
    - discrimination on the basis of State-assigned social class, gender, and disability;
    - violations of the freedom of movement and residence, including the right to leave one's own country;
    - violations of the right to food and related aspects of the right to life ; and
    - enforced disappearance of persons from other countries, including through international abductions.
Further, in light of "the gravity, scale and level of organization" of these violations the Commission determined that crimes against humanity have been and are "committed by officials pursuant to policies established at the highest level entailing extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation."

Crimes against humanity target first and foremost inmates in political prison camps, political prisoners, persons who try to flee North Korea ("in particular persons forcibly repatriated by China"), Christians and other religious believers, and other people accused of "subversive influences" like importing foreign movies or having contact with nationals of the Republic of Korea.

The report identifies the main perpetrators of human rights violations and crimes against humanity as "officials of the State Security Department, the Ministry of People's Security, the Korean People's Army, the Office of the Public Prosecutor, the judiciary and the Workers' Party of Korea" which are acting under "the effective control of the leadership organs of the Workers' Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission and the Supreme Leader of the DPRK." The Commission points out that "the gravity, scale and nature of the violations" committed by North Korea reveal a "state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world" and which "seeks to dominate every aspect of its citizens' live".

The report will be presented and discussed at the UN Human Rights Council on March 17, 2014 during its 25th session in Geneva.

The UN Commission of Inquiry recommends that North Korea be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC). North Korean defectors, however, are "deeply skeptical" that the UN report will lead to North Korea – who hasn't signed the Rome Statute - coming under investigation by the ICC. They are, unfortunately, right. The ICC referral in this case requires the support of the UN Security Council, where China, North Korea's traditional ally, would almost certainly veto action. In fact, the UN report found that China is complicit in human rights abuses in North Korea because it pursues "a rigorous policy of forcibly repatriating" North Korean citizens who cross the border illegally despite the gross human rights violations awaiting them in North Korea. According to the UN report, North Korea "systematically subject persons repatriated by China to persecution, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention and...sexual violence."

Furthermore, the UN Council of Human Rights is expected at this session to adopt 5 times as many resolutions condemning Israel than North Korea.

Report finds "unspeakable atrocities" in North Korea, but UN Council poised to adopt 5x more condemnations of Israel than DPRK Development

Students taking year end exams in Yemen.

There is a "crisis of learning in the Arab region" says a new report on education in the Arab world produced by the Brookings Center for Universal Education. Of 19 Arab states and the Palestinian territory, a range of data was available for 14. Among the alarming findings are:

    • 56% of primary school students cannot read or write fluently or perform basic numeracy functions. 48% of secondary school students cannot perform these basics. In the words of the report: "More than half of the region's children and youth are failing to learn, as measured by literacy and numeracy scores on international tests."
    • "When looking at the totality of children throughout the Arab world who are out of school, expected to drop out, or are not learning while in school, one sees a bleak picture and a crisis of significant proportions. For the five countries for which we have complete data, we find that nearly half or more of all primary-aged children are not learning. The situation is par¬ticularly critical in Yemen, where close to 95 percent of all primary children are not learning."
    • Only 50% of Djibouti children are even enrolled in primary school
    • Arab World Learning Barometer: percentage of students not meeting basic learning level, 2011/12, Primary: 40% of children in Saudi Arabia who attend primary school are not learning; 76.5% of children in Morocco; 91% of children in Yemen; 54% of children in Oman; 36% of children in UAE, 42.5% of children in Qatar, 70% of children in Kuwait, 65% of children in Tunisia. The share of boys in school that do not meet basic learning levels is higher than girls.
    • Total Learning Deficit (are out of school, expected to drop out, or are not learning while in school) for the 5 states where the information is available: Yemen 84.5%, Morocco 79.4%, Tunisia 67%, Saudi Arabia 48.9%, Qatar 48.1%.
    • "Education data for the Arab states are incredibly scarce. Of the 20 states in the Arab world, 3-Iraq, Libya and Sudan-have no recent data available for primary or lower secondary school enrollment, school survival (i.e., completion), out-of-school populations or learning outcomes...Only 2 countries-Qatar and the United Arab Emirates-test students at both levels for both numeracy and literacy."
    • The Arab region has the lowest female participation rate in the labor force in the world: 24.1% female participation (2008-1011). In Saudi Arabia: male youth unemployment is 23.5%, female 55%. In Egypt, male youth unemployment is 14.7%, female 54%. In Algeria male youth unemployment is 18.7%, female 37.6%. The Arab countries with the lowest rates of employing young women are: Saudi Arabia (7% of girls participate in labor force), Iraq (8.1%), Syria (9.2%) and Algeria (8.9%). "Labor force participation is particularly low for women, with an average of 24.1% compared with 77.2% for men. The low female participation rate, together with high unemployment, means that only about 18 percent of working-age Arab women actually have jobs."

New report finds there is a "crisis of learning in the Arab region" Article