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Resources updated between Monday, February 06, 2017 and Sunday, February 12, 2017

February 12, 2017

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (File photo)

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley Opposes Appointment of Palestinian to Top UN Post Article

February 11, 2017

Former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad who was blocked from UN post (File photo)

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Friday hailed the start of a "new era at the UN" as the United States blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad to be the new world body envoy to Libya.

"This is the beginning of a new era at the UN. The United States stands firmly and unapologetically beside Israel," Danon said.

Earlier, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement that she did not "support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations," where the Palestinians do not have full membership.

"The new Administration proved once again that it stands firmly alongside the State of Israel in the international arena and in the UN in particular," Danon said, adding that "the new administration is working towards the joint interest of the United States, Israel and the special alliance between our two nations.

The Israeli envoy said he was confidant that under US President Donald Trump the "US stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm the Jewish State."

Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro slammed the move as "stunningly dumb" in a tweet.

"True it's farce, ridiculous. But if you know Fayyad - decent, smart, honest, ethical, hardworking - it's much more outrageous," Shapiro said.

Israel has repeatedly complained of bias against the Jewish State at the UN where the Palestinians have an automatic majority in votes against Israel.

However, despite the new era, the Security Council failed to agree on the wording of a condemnation of the recent attack in Petah Tikva and the rocket fire at the southern resort city of Eilat.

Bolivia raised objections to the statement, saying it should include a reference to the UN resolution condemning settlements that also denounces violence.

Egypt also rejected the wording of the US-drafted statement because it noted that the rockets were fired from the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, Israel Radio reported.

The council will again discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday, the same day that Trump is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had informed the Security Council this week of his intention to name Fayyad to lead the UN support mission in Libya and help broker talks on a faltering political deal.

Haley said the United States was "disappointed" to see the letter from Guterres, his first appointment of an envoy to a major conflict area.

"For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel," said the US ambassador.

"Going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies."

The UN chief had given the council until late Friday to consider the choice, and the United States came forward to raise objections.

Fayyad, 64, was prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007 to 2013, and also served as finance minister twice.

He had been tapped to replace Martin Kobler of Germany, who has been the Libya envoy since November 2015.

Trump and Haley have criticized the United Nations for adopting a resolution in December that demanded an end to Israeli settlement building.

However, Trump signaled a shift from his previous support for Israeli policies, telling a Hebrew-language newspaper that he did not believe Israeli settlement expansion was "good for peace."

Guterres's spokesman declined to comment on the US rejection of the UN chief's choice to represent him in Libya.

Israel hails new era at UN as US blocks Palestinian from key post Article

February 10, 2017

Former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (File photo)

UN Chief Names Palestinian to Libya Post, Risking U.S. Objection Article

The sewing machine used to take down a terrorist in a shooting and stabbing attack in Petah Tikva, Israel, February 9, 2017

Danon Calls for UN Condemnation of Petah Tikva Attack Article

February 9, 2017

An ambulance arrives at the scene of a shooting attack in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva, where five people were injured, on February 9, 2017

At least five people were lightly wounded after a Palestinian man opened fire at a bus and stabbed someone near an outdoor market in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva on Thursday evening, officials said. Police officers later arrested the West Bank man, who was still in possession of the gun used in the attack, a police spokesperson said. Just before 5:00 p.m., the gunman, opened fire at a bus near the Petah Tikva market on Baron Hirsch Street. One a man in his 50s was shot in the leg, while two women - one in her 50s, the other in her 30s - were hit by shrapnel, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service. The suspected terrorist is 18 years old, a resident of the northern West Bank, according to police. The Palestinian teenager used a Carlo-style submachine gun, a comparatively cheap improvised firearm, which is prevalent in the West Bank. Carlos, which are often cobbled together from water pipes and spare parts, are notoriously unreliable, and the weapon used in the attack apparently jammed multiple times. What is normally an automatic weapon was only able to fire a shot every few seconds, according to videos from the scene. An eyewitness told Walla news that the gunmen also entered a shop and tried to open fire, but his gun wouldn't work at all. The incident occurred at the entrance to the city's busy central market, which was crowded with people shopping ahead of Shabbat. After shooting at the bus, the suspect continued on foot towards Hovevei Tziyon Street, running through the city's alleyways, before he was cornered by a group of civilians outside a sewing machine repair shop, according to police officer Ami Ben-David. The Ynet news site reported that one of the civilians had used one of the shop's sewing machines to take down the attacker. An eyewitness told Channel 2 news that he used a wood plank to hit the man as well, and said the suspect yelled in Arabic as he was tackled. In the scuffle, a man in his 40s was stabbed in the neck with a screwdriver as he attempted to apprehend the assailant, he told medics. After the suspected terrorist was subdued by the citizens, police officers arrived and arrested him. He was handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning, Ben-David said. Video from the scene shows the police officers leading away the Palestinian suspect, as bystanders shout curses at him. A few members of the crowd tried to strike the alleged terrorist, but police kept them back. Alon Rizkan, one of the medics, described the scene following the attack as "chaos," with people shouting and fleeing from the scene. During the commotion that followed, another man, estimated to be in his 30s, suffered a light head wound, MDA said. According to the United Hatzalah emergency response organization, the man had been set upon by a mob after the attack, as they mistook him for the terrorist responsible for the attack. The man told the United Hatzalah medics that he screamed at his attackers: "I am not the terrorist! I was chasing the terrorist!" Another three people were also treated after they suffered anxiety attacks, MDA said. In total, eight victims were taken to Petah Tikva's Beilinson Hospital for treatment, the ambulance service said. A Rishon Lezion court issued a gag order on all details of the case, including the identity of the suspected terrorist, police said. A spate of stabbings, car-rammings and shooting attacks by mainly Palestinian assailants that began a year ago has waned over the last six months, though sporadic incidents have persisted. Since October 2015, 40 Israelis, two Americans, a Palestinian and an Eritrean national have been killed in stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks. According to AFP figures, some 250 Palestinians, a Jordanian and a Sudanese migrant have also been killed, most of them in the course of carrying out attacks, Israel says, and many of the others in clashes with troops in the West Bank and at the Gaza border, as well as in Israeli airstrikes in the Strip. A number of attacks during the wave took place in Petah Tikva, a suburb of Tel Aviv. In March, a terrorist stabbed a man in the a wine shop in the city. The victim pulled the knife out of his neck and proceeded to stab the terrorist to death.

Terrorist opens fire in Israel, subdued with sewing machine Document

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (in center) and his wife Sara at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, July 2016

Netanyahu to Africa Envoys: Changing UN Voting Patterns is Top Diplomatic Goal Article

Member of Knesset Haneen Zoabi at the Israeli High Court of Justice (File photo)

Arab Knesset Member Urges ICC to Indict Netanyahu Article

February 8, 2017

Russian activist Svetlana Gannushkina receives the Right Livelihood Award

Russia has frustrated a Swedish NGO's attempt to gain access to UN meetings and events over the allegedly "politicized" recipients of the NGOs "Alternative Nobel Prizes." Among the recipients of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation's annual awards in 2016 was the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the "White Helmets," which has accused Russia of war crimes in Aleppo. Another recipient of the organization's 2016 awards was the Russian activist Svetlana Gannushkina, who is critical of Russia's immigration and refugee policies and whose organization, Civic Assistance, is listed as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government.

Russia is one of 19 member states in the UN NGO Committee, which reviews and decides whether to recommend granting official UN accreditation to NGOs. Organizations seek UN accreditation because it permits them to attend meetings, to circulate documents, and on occasion to hold events inside the UN and address UN sessions. Members of the NGO Committee include countries that have little to no respect for freedom of speech or association and that continually hinder the operation of independent NGOs, such as China, Iran, Sudan, and Venezuela. Their standard operating procedure is to defer applications session after session with inappropriate, specious or repetitive questions and demands of the applicant NGO. After years of deferrals, Western states find that if they bring applications to a vote, they are simply outvoted in Committee.

The NGO Committee is currently holding a two and half week session and Russia requested information from the Right Livelihood Award Foundation about the criteria used for its awards on February 1, 2017. But when the NGO quickly provided a response while the Committee was still in session, the Russian representative submitted a second request for additional information on February 7, 2016. This time it concocted a question about why the NGO listed one of its activities as "defense" of laureates, and whether this activity involves a "high degree of politicization" of the recipients of the award.

Russia Blocks Access to the UN for NGO that praised Russian Critic Development

A placard for Iran at the United Nations

Iran prevented two organizations that criticize Iran's record on women's rights from being able to attend and participate in UN meetings and events. The NGO Women's Freedom Forum, has produced a critical report on human trafficking in Iran. The NGO Women's Voices Now screened three short films in 2016 focusing on the struggles of women in Iran.

Iran is one of 19 Member States on the UN NGO Committee, that considers applications for formal UN status. Organizations seek UN accreditation or official status because it permits them to attend meetings, to circulate documents, and on occasion to hold events inside the UN and address UN sessions. Members of the NGO Committee include countries that have little to no respect for freedom of speech or association and that continually hinder the operation of independent NGOs, such as China, Russia, Sudan, and Venezuela. Their standard operating procedure is to defer applications session after session with inappropriate, specious or repetitive questions and demands of the applicant NGO. After years of deferrals, Western states find that if they bring applications to a vote, they are simply outvoted in Committee.

On February 6, 2017, Iran managed to defer the Women's Freedom Forum's application the seventh time its application has been deferred since June 2014 by asking for "clarification on the reason behind focusing just on some countries" in the Middle East, as well as with a request for additional financial information. Iran deferred "Women's Voices Now," which had been deferred once before in June 2016, by asking for the criteria the NGO uses to select films for promotion and how it ensures they are not based on "false or fake reports" provided by "terrorist organizations."

At an earlier meeting of the NGO Committee, February 2, 2017, Iran also deferred the application of another human rights NGO critical of Iran's treatment of women.

Iran Prevents Two NGOs that Criticize Iran's Treatment of Women from Having a Voice at the UN Development

Demonstrators protesting the arrest of Turkish journalists (File photo)

Turkey Continues Purge of Civil Society, Sacks 4,400 More Teachers and Police Document

February 7, 2017

Palestinian representative to the UN Riyad Mansour (File photo)

UN Sponsors Anti-Israel Conference Promoting BDS Development

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton (File photo)

Bolton: Trump Should 'Tear Up' the Iran Nuclear Deal Article

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (File photo)

Abbas: Palestinians Pushing International Courts to Move Against Israeli Settlements Article

Ahmadreza Djalali

A scientist who worked for a Belgian university has been sentenced to death in Iran on suspicion of espionage.

Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian national and professor of disaster medicine at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), was arrested in April 2016 while visiting family in the country.

He is due to be executed in two weeks, according to VUB.

Dr Djalali's family and colleagues kept news of the arrest quiet in an attempt to avoid worsening the situation but have spoken out following the issuance of the death penalty.

The VUB announced the news on their website, claiming Dr Djalali had not had a trial or seen a lawyer.

The university's rector, Caroline Pauwels, said: "A scientist performing important humanitarian work, gets sentenced without public trial and is looking at the death penalty.

"This is an outrageous violation of universal human rights, against which we should react decisively."

Head of the VUB's Research Group on Emergency and Disaster Medicine, Ives Hubloue, told Science: "He's not interested in politics. We don't believe he would do anything at all (against the Iranian government).

"We don't believe he did anything wrong. Let him go. Let him do his work. We need him."

Mr Hubloue told the publication he believed Dr Djalali's arrest was related to his international contacts at the university, some of whom are from countries hostile to Iran, such as Israel. But he maintained the contacts were solely scientific.

A petition was launched urging clemency for Dr Djalali and has been signed by more than 40,000 people. It claims Dr Djalali had previously travelled to Iran without any issues.

In custody, Dr Djalali conducted three hunger strikes, according to the petition, which have cost him his health and 20kg in bodyweight.

He was forced to sign a confession to an unknown offence, the petition said.

Iran sentences professor at Belgian university to death 'without trial' for alleged espionage Document

The UN General Assembly on International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, January 27, 2017

UN, Scrap Your Hollow Holocaust Commemoration Article

A chilling new report by Amnesty International exposes the Syrian government's calculated campaign of extrajudicial executions by mass hangings at Saydnaya Prison. Between 2011 and 2015, every week and often twice a week, groups of up to 50 people were taken out of their prison cells and hanged to death. In five years, as many as 13,000 people, most of them civilians believed to be opposed to the government, were hanged in secret at Saydnaya.

Human slaughterhouse: Mass hangings and extermination at Saydnaya prison, Syria also shows that the government is deliberately inflicting inhuman conditions on detainees at Saydnaya Prison through repeated torture and the systematic deprivation of food, water, medicine and medical care. The report documents how these extermination policies have killed massive numbers of detainees.

These practices, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, are authorized at the highest levels of the Syrian government.

"The horrors depicted in this report reveal a hidden, monstrous campaign, authorized at the highest levels of the Syrian government, aimed at crushing any form of dissent within the Syrian population," said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International's regional office in Beirut.

"We demand that the Syrian authorities immediately cease extrajudicial executions and torture and inhuman treatment at Saydnaya Prison and in all other government prisons across Syria. Russia and Iran, the government's closest allies, must press for an end to these murderous detention policies.

"The upcoming Syria peace talks in Geneva cannot ignore these findings. Ending these atrocities in Syrian government prisons must be put on the agenda. The UN must immediately carry out an independent investigation into the crimes being committed at Saydnaya and demand access for independent monitors to all places of detention."

The report reveals a routine of mass extrajudicial executions by hanging inside Saydnaya prison that was in place between 2011 and 2015. Every week and often twice a week victims were hanged in groups of up to 50 people, in the middle of the night and in total secrecy. There are strong reasons to believe that this routine is still ongoing today. Large numbers of detainees have also been killed as a result of the authorities' extermination policies, which include repeated torture and the systematic deprivation of food, water, medicine and medical care. In addition, detainees at Saydnaya Prison are forced to obey a set of sadistic and dehumanizing rules.

The findings of the report are based on an intensive investigation, which was carried out over the course of one year, from December 2015 to December 2016. It involved first-hand interviews with 84 witnesses that included former Saydnaya guards and officials, detainees, judges and lawyers, as well as national and international experts on detention in Syria.

A previous report published in August 2016, for which Amnesty International partnered with a team of specialists at Forensic Architecture, University of Goldsmiths to create a virtual 3D reconstruction of Saydnaya prison, estimated that more than 17,000 people have died in prisons across Syria as a result of the inhuman conditions and torture since the Syrian crisis began in 2011. This figure does not include the estimated 13,000 additional deaths as a result of the extrajudicial executions exposed in this report.

The role of the Military Field Court

Not one of the detainees condemned to hang at Saydnaya Prison is given anything that resembles an actual trial. Before they are hanged, victims undergo a perfunctory, one or two-minute procedure at a so-called Military Field Court. These proceedings are so summary and arbitrary that they cannot be considered to constitute a judicial process. Testimonies from former government officials, guards, judges and detainees helped Amnesty International shape a detailed picture of the farcical procedures that lead up to the hangings.

One former judge from a Syrian military court told Amnesty International the "court" operates outside the rules of the Syrian legal system. "The judge will ask the name of the detainee and whether he committed the crime. Whether the answer is yes or no, he will be convicted... This court has no relation with the rule of law. This is not a court," he said.

The convictions issued by this so-called court are based on false confessions extracted from detainees under torture. Detainees are not allowed access to a lawyer or given an opportunity to defend themselves most have been subjected to enforced disappearance, held in secret and cut off from the outside world. Those who are condemned to death do not find out about their sentences until minutes before they are hanged.

Mass hangings

Hangings at Saydnaya are carried out once or twice a week, usually on Monday and Wednesday, in the middle of the night. Those whose names are called out were told they would be transferred to civilian prisons in Syria. Instead, they are moved to a cell in the basement of the prison and beaten severely. They are then transported to another prison building on the grounds of Saydnaya, where they are hanged. Throughout this process, they remain blindfolded. They do not know when or how they will die until the noose was placed around their necks.

"They kept them [hanging] there for 10 to 15 minutes. Some didn't die because they are light. For the young ones, their weight wouldn't kill them. The officers' assistants would pull them down and break their necks," said a former judge who witnessed the hangings.

Detainees held in the building in the floors above the "execution room" reported that they sometimes heard the sounds of these hangings.

"If you put your ears on the floor, you could hear the sound of a kind of gurgling. This would last around 10 minutes... We were sleeping on top of the sound of people choking to death. This was normal for me then," said "Hamid", a former military officer arrested in 2011.

As many as 50 people can be hanged in one night. Their bodies are taken away by the truckload to be secretly buried in mass graves. Their families are given no information about their fate.

Policy of extermination

Survivors of Saydnaya also provided spine-chilling and shocking testimonies about life inside the prison. They evoke a world carefully designed to humiliate, degrade, sicken, starve and ultimately kill those trapped inside.

These harrowing accounts have led Amnesty International to conclude that the suffering and appalling conditions at Saydnaya have been deliberately inflicted on detainees as a policy of extermination.

Many of the prisoners said they were raped or in some cases forced to rape other prisoners. Torture and beatings are used as a regular form of punishment and degradation, often leading to life-long damage, disability or even death. The cell floors are covered with blood and puss from prisoners' wounds. The bodies of dead detainees are collected by the prison guards each morning, around 9am.

"Every day there would be two or three dead people in our wing... I remember the guard would ask how many we had. He would say, 'Room number one how many? Room number two how many?' and on and on... There was one time that... the guards came to us, room by room, and beat us on the head, chest and neck. Thirteen people from our wing died that day," said "Nader", a former Saydnaya detainee.

Food and water are regularly cut off. When food is delivered, it is often scattered over the cell floors by the guards, where it mixes with blood and dirt. The very few who leave Saydnaya often do so weighing half the body weight they had when they arrived.

Saydnaya also has its own set of "special rules". Prisoners are not allowed to make any sounds, speak or even whisper. They are forced to assume certain positions when the guards come into the cells and merely looking at the guards is punishable by death.

The international community, notably the UN Security Council, must take immediate and urgent action, to put an end to this suffering.

"A firm decision must be made by the UN Security Council. It cannot turn a blind eye to these horrible crimes and must pass a resolution demanding that the Syrian government opens up its prisons for international monitors. The UN Human Rights Council must immediately demand an independent investigation into these grave violations of international law," said Lynn Maalouf.

"The cold blooded killing of thousands of defenceless prisoners, along with the carefully crafted and systematic programmes of psychological and physical torture that are in place inside Saydnaya Prison cannot be allowed to continue. Those responsible for these heinous crimes must be brought to justice."

Syria: Secret campaign of mass hangings and extermination at Saydnaya Prison Document

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

With $221 million in US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) hanging in the balance, American Jewish leaders and organizations across the political spectrum are denouncing the PA's reported use of torture against prisoners.

Israeli Arab journalist Khalid Abu Toameh charged last week that the PA's Jericho Central Prison has become a "fort of torture." Writing for the Gatestone Institute, a New York-based foreign policy think tank, Toameh cited a new report by the Arab Organization for Human Rights, which claimed that the PA's security forces committed more than 3,000 human rights violations in 2016.

That finding dovetails with Amnesty International's most recent report on human rights in PA-controlled territory, which found that torture is "common" in PA prisons.

John Calvin, who was raised in the PA-run city of Nablus, described in an interview with this week how he was arrested by the PA in 2010 for converting from Islam to Christianity. In the Nablus Central Prison, PA policemen repeatedly struck him, and initially confined him to a dark cell that he recalled "was so small, I couldn't stand up straight."

Calvin, who now lives in the US, claimed that political opponents of the PA regime are often tortured in prison. He said that seven of his family members, who have been detained by the PA because of their association with the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas, were subjected to torments such as being forced to hold their bound hands in the air for up to two days at a time.

"My uncle returned from his interrogation permanently blinded, and one my brothers suffered severe back injuries," Calvin said.

Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress for North America, said, "It is outrageous that American tax dollars intended to help build peace with the Palestinians by supporting basic services such as education and health care, are instead used to enable the abusers of human rights." Ehrenberg told that it is "only right that Congress stop the transfer of [the $221 million in] additional funding that was granted at the very end of the last administration."

Ehrenburg also expressed concern that if a Palestinian state is established, its leaders might continue engaging in human rights violations. "What kind of state can be created by such a society and how can anyone expect Israel to make peace with it?" she asked.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told that Palestinian Arab leaders with whom he has met said that grassroots Palestinian support for the PA is extremely low because of corruption and human rights abuses by PA leaders. "One important clan leader in the Hebron area estimated the PA's public approval rating at 2 percent," Cooper said. "PA officials want a state, but they don't want to bother with the hard work of building the democratic institutions needed to actually run a state - and why should they, if the foreign aid checks keep rolling in, no matter what?"

"The only way to reform the PA's behavior is if there is a price tag," Cooper added. "Governments and NGOs that have been giving money to build the Palestinians' judicial and penal system need to ensure that there is accountability, transparency and strict oversight. Otherwise, you can assume that if there is a Palestinian state, there will be corruption and torture and nothing will change. In the end, it all comes back to the checkbook."

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is likewise troubled by the latest evidence of the PA's use of torture. "We are concerned about the reports of human rights violations by Hamas and the PA," AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman told "Current law provides the administration with a mechanism to investigate and respond to such violations."

Disapproval of the PA's actions is also being expressed by liberal American Jewish groups. Ori Nir, spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, said, "We are aware of reports of torture and abuse of detainees by security services of the Palestinian Authority." Nir added, "We are definitely concerned by such practices, and believe that they should stop, even if they are done in the course of the PA's close security cooperation with Israel to fight terrorism."

Rabbi Michael Lerner, the veteran progressive activist and editor of Tikkun magazine, told, "I oppose any use of violence or torture, no matter how much the user is an oppressed group or feels that it has a justification at that moment to use these for self-preservation."

Jewish Leaders Denounce Palestinian Authority's 'Fort of Torture' Document

An Iranian execution (File photo)

According to reports compiled by Iran Human Rights, the Iranian authorities hanged 87 people in the month of January 2017, including two juvenile prisoners and six prisoners who were executed in public. Out of the 87 executions, only 19 of them were announced by official Iranian sources. Most of the executions which were carrieed out in Iran in January 2017 were for drug related charges.

According to research conducted by Iran Human Rights, executions tend to significantly increase in the months leading to an election in Iran but significantly decrease or stop a couple weeks before the election. Iran Human Rights is deeply concerned that a new wave of executions have started in Iran and worries that the number of executions will increase following the "Fajr Decade" celebrations.

Iran Human Rights urges the international community, especially European countries, to pay attention to the execution crisis in Iran, and calls on all countries which have diplomatic relations with the Iranian authorities to call on the Iranian authorities to stop executions.

"In the month of January, we witnessed an average of one execution every nine hours, including two juvenile offenders and six public executions. Lack of reactions from the international community to these executions encourages the Iranian authorities to execute even more people in the months leading to the 2017 presidential election," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson for Iran Human Rights.

Iranian authorities executed one person every 9 hours in January Document

February 6, 2017

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, January 30, 2017

UN Secretary-General Guterres' Biggest Challenge: A Culture Of Impunity Article

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein (File photo)

UN Human Rights Chief Seeks Delay in Release of Israel Blacklist, but Human Rights Council Pushes Back Development

UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk (File photo)

On February 3, 2017, UN special rapporteur on "human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories" Michael Lynk issued a press release calling for the UN to exert additional pressure on Israel for building Jewish homes, while ignoring Palestinian terrorism and incitement. His lop-sided job description, which dates back more than 20 years, is to condemn Israel and not to investigate Palestinians.

Indeed, although three Israelis were injured in a Palestinian car ramming attack that same day, Lynk's press release did not mention Palestinian terror attacks even once. Instead, Lynk called for the UN to take additional measures to force Israel to submit to the biased December 23, 2016 Security Council resolution 2334, which decreed that Israel is "occupying" the historic holiest sites of Judaism in Jerusalem.

In the words of the press release:

"United Nations Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk has called on the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly to explore effective diplomatic and political measures to ensure Israeli compliance with Security Council resolution 2334, which affirms that all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory constitute a flagrant violation of international law...

'If Israel understands that the international community will take no meaningful steps to enforce the Council's resolution, it will continue to intensify its settlement project undeterred,' the Rapporteur warned. 'And if the international community intends to preserve what remains of a viable two-state solution, it must not assume that resolutions, critical statements and international conferences alone will change state behaviour in these circumstances,' he underscored..."

UN "Expert" on Human Rights in "Occupied Palestinian Territories" Calls for UN to Increase Pressure on Israel While Ignoring Palestinian Terror Development

Chuck Downs, former executive director of the non-governmental US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (File photo)

China has blocked a human rights organization critical of China's role in human rights abuses in North Korea, preventing the organization from having a voice in the UN. The US Committee on Human Rights in North Korea, in addition to its work on North Korean abuses, has criticized China's role in forced returns of North Korean refugees.

China is one of 19 Member States in the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations which makes recommendations on granting UN status. Members also include countries that have little to no respect for freedom of speech or association and that continually hinder the operation of independent NGOs, such as Iran, Russia, Sudan, and Venezuela. Their standard operating procedure is to defer applications session after session with inappropriate, specious or repetitive questions and demands of the applicant NGO. After years of deferrals, Western states find that if they bring applications to a vote, they are simply outvoted in Committee.

China blocked the organization on February 2, 2017 by deferring consideration of their application with a question seeking additional funding and activity information. The organization had already been deferred once before in 2016.

China Blocks Human Rights Organization Focused on North Korea from UN Accreditation Development

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, January 31, 2017

US Envoy Haley Looks to Slash UN Peacekeeping Article

President Donald Trump (File photo)

Trump May Look to Renegotiate Iran Nuclear Deal Article

(File photo)

Analysis of National Health Service (NHS) statistics has found that a case of female genital mutilation (FGM) is either treated or discovered every hour in England.

Though the practice of FGM, which is performed mainly in African and Middle Eastern nations, has been illegal in the UK since 1985, the problem was assessed by medics in England every 61 minutes between April 2015 and May 2016.

During this period, there were 8,656 occasions when women or girls attended hospitals or doctors' surgeries and female circumcision was reported as being the problem. The figures show that, on average, brand new cases of FGM are discovered every 92 minutes.

The figures come as the world marks the awareness-raising, UN-sponsored international day of zero tolerance to FGM. The UN's human rights chief, Zeid bin Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, has not yet commented on the practice.

The Saudi prince has, however, spoken out about U.S. gun laws, remarking that laws respecting Americans' right to bear arms "lack rational justification" and in December he attacked President Donald J. Trump and British Eurosceptic Nigel Farage, calling the populist politicians "demagogues", who are comparable to Islamic State.

Chief executive of Plan International UK, which analysed the figures, Tanya Barron said FGM is a problem that must be tackled "from the village halls of Mali and Sierra Leone to the classrooms of Britain".

Home Secretary Amber Rudd added: "FGM is a devastating act of violence that no woman or girl should ever have to suffer and the criminals who perpetrate it should be brought to justice."

Laws against female circumcision were strengthened in 2003 but there has yet to be a single successful prosecution, a failure which has been branded a "national scandal" by the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Shadow Secretary of State for Women Sarah Champion told the Press Association: "Until we get a conviction I don't think the message is going to go out, loud and plain, that this is child abuse and is unacceptable."

The Labour MP for Rotherham, where it was revealed that - in a 16 year period - as many as 1,400 girls were groomed, pimped, and raped by men mostly of Pakistani heritage while authorities turned a blind eye, has worked to stifle opposition to child rape in her constituency. Following the exposure of Rotherham's child sex abuse scandal, Ms. Champion handed a 300-signature petition to parliament demanding powers to cut "far-right" protests.

Grooming of young British girls by gangs of predominantly Pakistani men is still occurring on an "industrial scale" in the Yorkshire town, victims and campaigners reported in August last year.

New Cases of FGM Reported Every Hour in UK Document