UAE Publishes Video to “Cure” Homosexuality

UAE Publishes Video to “Cure” Homosexuality

By Carolyn Abdenour
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – The United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) produced a six-minute video entitled “Be Yourself” to cure gay men of homosexuality.  This “tutorial” posted by the government last week on YouTube shocked the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

A scene from "Be Yourself", the UAE produced film. (Photo Courtesy of Instinct Magazine)

Link to the UAE film \”Be Yourself\”.

Set in a typical suburban area in the UAE, the video tells the story of five young men: Rashid Al-Muaini, Majid Al-Muaini, Ali Al-Ghaithi, James Al-Ghaithi, and Mohammed Eissa.  Two of the characters dressed in traditional Emirati greet a third character in a t-shirt and jeans.  In his apparent shy and effeminate manner, he says “Hi guys” to the other characters in a high-pitched voice while he plays with his long hair and daintily shakes their hands.

The final two characters wearing western-style clothing join the trio and greet them in a masculine manner.  The effeminate character receives an invitation to join the other characters in an adjacent villa.   In the villa, the men tell the effeminate character he needs to change his personality.  He agrees.

As part of his straight makeover, the effeminate man mimics manly gestures.  The other men scrub his hands and face, and they cut his hair and nails.  When the newly masculine man departs, he says “Bye guys” in a high-pitched voice.  The men slap him and command him to thicken his voice.

Once the makeover concludes, the men appear pleased and proud of their work.  They also thank Allah for enabling the man’s “change.”

24-year-old founder of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights UAE Abdullah responded the video “angers me to no end, but it also saddens me.”  The video reminded him of hot afternoons when he was a teenager.  He forcibly observed men interacting or drinking coffee, so he could mimic them and make his father proud.

The UAE has enacted federal legislation that prohibits homosexual acts throughout the country.  The country can punish men engaging in consensual sodomy with fines, ten to fourteen years in prison, deportation, flogging, or death.

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual Rights UAE activist network informed the Canadian Prime Minister and Human Rights Minister, the United Nations, and various media outlets of the continued persecution their community faces.  For example, the network stated UAE officials used hormonal treatments to “cure” homosexuals.

Dubai resident and gay activist Omar said, “This is the only way to enable our rights as citizens because activism on the ground here will lead to our arrest and jailing.  We struggle.”

For further information, please see,

Albawaba  – UAE Gay “Cure” Video Causes Sting in LGBT Community – 31 Jan 2012

International Business Times – Gay Man ‘Cure Video’ Sparks Outrage in UAE – 31 Jan 2012

Huffington Post – United Arab Emirates’ ‘Be Yourself’ Video Shows Gay Men Being ‘Cured’ of Homosexuality – 30 Jan 2012

Pink News – Video: UAE ‘Straight Makeover’ Video Slammed – 30 Jan 2012

2nd Journalist in Six Weeks Killed in Somalia

By Tamara Alfred
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

Hassan Osman Abdi, 29, was shot outside his home in Mogadishu on Saturday and died on the way to the hospital.  Abdi was the director of Shabelle Media Network and had done some freelance work for CNN, according to the National Union of Somali Journalist (NUSOJ) and Reporters Without Borders.

Hassan Osman Abdi is the second journalist to be killed in the last six months in Somalia. (Photo Courtesy of Shabelle Media Network.)

“This is a terrible tragedy, both for Hassan Osman Abdi’s family and for the Somali journalist community,” said Omar Faruk Osman, secretary general of the NUSOJ.

Abdi is the third Shabelle Media Network director to be murdered, said Reporters Without Borders.  Shabelle Media Network director Bashir Nur Gedi was murdered in 2007, and his successor Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe was killed in 2009.  Local journalists believe that Abdi was likely killed because of his role in reporting on politics and corruption cases.

Abdi’s colleagues and friends told the Associated Press they were too scared to attend his funeral because militants in Somalia have targeted such gatherings in the past.

Journalist Mohamed Bashir Hashi, 23, read a death threat sent to his mobile phone: “If God wills it, you will be the next apostate to be killed.”

“Deciding to stay here is so discouraging,” said Hashi.  “We can’t even pay respects to our fallen colleague since al-Shabaab is threatening us.”

Somalia is the deadliest country in Africa for media personnel, and Mogadishu ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists in 2011, according to Reporters Without Borders.  In 2009, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Somalia as the most dangerous for journalists when nine journalists were killed.

Abdi’s murder was the second targeted killing of a Somali journalist in less than two months.  Abdisalan Sheik Hassan, a journalist with Horn Cable TV, was shot dead in December.

“We trusted the situation would improve but it’s getting worse now.  Nowhere is safe,” said Mu’awiye Ahmed, a producer and photographer at Horn Cable TV.  However, he vowed to continue working: “They can’t prevent me from my work.”

Amnesty International is urging the international community to call on the Somali authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks on journalists.  “The numerous attacks on journalists in Somalia have been part of an attempt to silence reporting about human rights abuses by all parties to the conflict in the country,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Director for Africa.

A major international conference on Somalia will take place in London on February 23.  Meanwhile, Somalia’s president strongly condemned the killing of a leading journalist as a “senseless murder,” suggesting that Al-Shabaab may have been responsible.  In a statement, President Sharif Ahmed condemned and expressed grief and sorrow at the murder.  He also urged the public to help the police investigate the killing.

“It has long been the strategy of groups like Al-Shabaab to target public figures in our society with the aim of spreading fear and panic,” said President Ahmed.  “We will not be intimidated or threatened by such odious acts.”

Minister of Information Abdulkadir Hussein Mohamed Jaahweyne called the killing an “outrageous assassination.”  He called Shabelle “one of the most important and pioneering media houses serving the country.”

Shabelle is one of Mogadishu’s most popular radio stations.  It frequently reports on government corruption, abuses by al-Shabaab militants against civilians, and extortion by government troops.

Al-Shabaab appeared to claim responsibility for Abdi’s death, saying on its website that the killing would serve as a “lesson” to other journalists.

For more information, please see:

Amnesty International – Somalia: Journalist killing highlights need for international action on impunity – 30 January 2012

The Washington Post – Fear in Somalia’s journalist community after 2nd killing in less than 2 months – 30 January 2012

CNN – Somalia president decries journalist killing – 29 January 2012


Mexican Ambassador and Wife Kidnapped in Venezuela

By Paula Buzzi
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

CARACAS, Venezuela  — Mexico’s ambassador to Venezuela, Carlos Pujalte, and his wife were kidnapped by armed men on Sunday night and then released four hours later. Pujalte’s abduction is a troublesome trend in the recent string of high-profile kidnappings in Venezuela, a country now considered one of the most dangerous in Latin America.

Police officials inspect the car of Mexico"s ambassador to Venezuela in Caracas. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters).

Pujalte’s and his wife were leaving a reception in a wealthy Caracas neighborhood on Sunday night when four armed men seized them in their car and held them for four hours before safely releasing them in a slum before dawn on Monday. The kidnapping has been dubbed an “express kidnapping” because of it’s short duration. In express kidnappings, abductors hold their victims for a short period of time for lower ransom demands or simply to rob the victims.

The details surrounding the kidnapping and if any ransom was paid remain unsealed by Venezuelan authorities. According to the Venezuela’s government, security forces launched an operation which forced the armed men to free the Pujaltes. The vehicle used for the kidnapping was found in another part of the city.

Pujalte’s kidnapping highlights a troublesome trend in Venezuela where violent crime is routinely named a top concern for Venezuelans. Leaked government reports have shown that since President Hugo Chavez first took office 13 years ago, crime has surged with the number of murders per year doubling since 1999. According to Venezuelan Violence Observatory, a non-profit organization, at least 19,336 people were killed in Venezuela last year.

Pujalte is the seventh foreign officer who has been held hostage in less than one-year term. Last November, Chilean consul, Juan Carlos Fernandez, was kidnapped in Caracas and severely injured by his abductors before being released. Within the same week, Major League Baseball player, Wilson Ramos was kidnapped during his visit home and released two days later with the help of Venezuelan security forces.

Chavez, who is seeking his third six-year term, denies that crime in Venezuela has increased since he first took office, and instead, blames high crime rates on historical roots of lawlessness dating back to the administration of former President Carlos Andres Perez in the late 1980s.

Despite souring crime rates and violent crime being a top issue for Venezuelans, a recent poll by the local Hinterlaces company shows that Chavez’s approval rating remains high. As of recently, Chavez has a 64 percent approval rating, with 50 percent of those surveyed saying they would vote for him again in the up-coming presidential elections.

“Chavez supporters have a strong emotional attachment to him and this has led some of them to fail to assess the situation objectively despite the statistics and the growing evidence of the government’s responsibility (for the crime problem),” says Diego Moya-Ocampos, a Venezuelan analyst of the IHS Global Insight thinktank.


For further information, please see:

El Universal – Seven Kidnapped Diplomats in One Year in Venezuela – 31 January 2012

CNN – Officials: Mexico’s Ambassador to Venezuela Kidnapped, Freed – 30 January 2011

CBS News – Mexican Ambassador in Venezuela Kidnap Drama – 30 January 2012

Reuters – Mexican Envoy Kidnapped, Freed in Venezuela – 30 January 2012

The Wall Street Journal  – Mexico Envoy to Venezuela Free After Kidnapping – 30 January 2012

Sudan Rebels Promise to Free Captured Chinese Workers

By Zach Waksman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

KHARTOUM, SUDAN – Monday signified a potential avoidance of further strife in Sudan.  The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), which captured more than 70 road workers, including 29 Chinese, in South Kordofan on Sunday, vowed to release the remaining Chinese from its custody.

Earlier in the day, 14 Chinese laborers were freed from rebel hands by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).  They were kidnapped when the insurgents attacked a camp in South Kordofan, a state that is rich in oil and the focus of intense fighting with South Sudan.  Those rescued were found in good condition and brought to Al-Obeid, the capital of neighboring North Kordofan, according to the South Kordofan governor.  The SPLM-N took credit for the abduction, which garnered 70 workers and nine members of the SAF.

“I want to assure you right now they are in safe hands,” SPLM-N spokesman Arnu Ngutulu Lodi told Agence France Presse.

The captured laborers, which consisted of Chinese and Sudanese workers, were building a road to connect remote areas according to media in China.  According to the rebels, they were held for their own safety in the aftermath of a battle with the SAF.  They had been caught in crossfire between the two sides.  The organization has also made clear that it has no issue with China or Chinese people.

“The leadership of the [SPLM-N],” a statement said, is “exerting the maximum effort to obtain accurate information from our forces in the field regarding the Chinese who were detained in Southern Kordofan.”

Secretary General Yasir Arman, though uncertain of whether his group had the workers, said that the SPLM-N is in contact with Beijing as part of the effort to secure their release.

The abduction’s report soon became one of the top stories in China.  The two countries are in the midst of emergency discussions.

China has long been a key player in the development of Sudan, buying billions of dollars’ worth of oil from the turbulent sub-Saharan country.  It considers this necessary because Western nations had already secured pipelines in more stable countries.  It also is aggressive in constructing infrastructure here, and in other similarly dangerous nations.  This has proven to be a boon for business, but also has potentially great costs.

According to IHS Global Insight Asia and Pacific analyst Neil Ashdown, Chinese companies sends more of its people to work on projects abroad than Western firms, which has two effects.  One is that the workers’ families tend to join them, creating even more potential peril.  The other is that the insistence on using its own workers runs the risk of alienating local populations.  But the general outcome is one of efficiency and easy business.  Most countries will not attempt projects of this nature in places like Sudan because of the constant strife.

South Kordofan has been near the center of the current strife along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, which became independent in July 2011.  The SPLM-N is allied with South Sudan.  The two countries are currently mired in discussions over how to share profits from oil, and South Sudan has threatened to cut off the supply until an agreement is reached.  The region produces 500,000 barrels of oil per day, according to the New York Times.

For more information, please see:

BBC — China Doubts Sudan Workers Freed in South Kordofan — 30 January 2012

New York Times — Sudan Says It Freed Some Kidnapped Chinese Workers — 30 January 2012

Sudanese Media Center — Haroun: Armed Forces and Security Authorities Liberate 14 of the Kidnapped Chinese Workers — 30 January 2012

Sudan Tribune — Sudan’s Rebels Promise to Release Kidnapped Chinese Workers — 30 January 2012

Sudan Tribune — Sudan Says 14 Chinese Workers Freed in South Kordofan — 30 January 2012

New York Times — Sudan Rebels Are Said to Hold Road Crew from China — 29 January 2012

Khmer Rouge Tribunal Unable to Pay Cambodian Employees

By Greg Donaldson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Approximately 300 Cambodians working at the Khmer Rouge tribunal will not be paid for their work in the month of January. Some Cambodians, including judges, have not been paid since October. International staff is paid by the United Nations and will continue to receive their salaries throughout the tribunal.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Photo Courtesy of The Phnom Penh Post )

The reason why Cambodians are going without pay is because funds from donor countries have ran out according to tribunal spokesman, Huy Vannak. However, Vannak explained “despite the fact that no key donor countries have pledged any new financial assistance, the court pursues its work as normal.”

In a “town hall” meeting on Friday administration directors told Cambodian staff for the tribunal that they would not be paid any salary until April at the earliest. The acting director of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) said that what he wants to see in the future is that when funds are received by the United Nations, these funds should be split between the Cambodian and International side of the court.

Under ECCC law expenses and salaries of the Cambodian staff “shall be borne by the Cambodian national budget.” Huy Vannak acknowledged the law but said this has not been the practice of the court. He continued “the Royal Government of Cambodia contributes funds for water, electricity, security, transportation of staff, and outreach activities.”

An unofficial translation of the 2012 Budget Law does not contain any appropriations for the tribunal. Cheam Yeap, Chairman of the National Assembly Finance and Banking Commission, said the government has a separate budget for the tribunal but has not received any budget proposals for 2012.

Anne Heindel a legal adviser at the Documentation Centre of Cambodia said it has been common practice for Cambodian salaries to be paid from voluntary international contributions to the Cambodian government. “Donors either give money to the UN side or the Cambodian side,” Heindel said.

A tribunal official explained that funds are usually applied for in November and received annually. However, this year directors did not fly to New York to apply for funds although a tentative plan is in place for the directors to visit New York next month.

David Scheffer, a United Nations appointed Special Expert, said last week it was his “job” to ensure there was adequate financial support for the tribunal. He continued to say “we need to ensure that there’s that infusion of funding from relevant sources into the tribunal on a regular basis.”

For more information please see:      

The Phnom Penh Post – KRT Pay Freeze Will Linger — 30 January 2012

CBS News –Khmer Rouge Tribunal Halts Salaries for Cambodians – 26 January 2012

Washington Post – Salaries Stopped for Cambodian Staffers at Khmer Rouge Tribunal Due to Funding Cuts – 26 January 2012

The Phnom Penh Post – Cash Crunch at KR Tribunal – 19 January 2012