Former RUF Rebel Convicted of Contempt in Taylor Trial

By Jessica Ties
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – A Sierra Leone man, Eric Koi Senessie, has been found guilty on eight out of nine contempt of court charges following a trial that began on June 11 at the Special Court in Freetown.

Eric Koi Senessie has been convicted of contempt of court for tampering with witnesses in the trial of Charles Taylor. (Photo Courtesy of Sierra Express Media)

The charges arose from allegations that he tried to persuade prosecution witnesses to recant their testimony in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Four of the counts accused Mr. Senessie of offering bribes to witnesses and the other five counts alleged that he attempted to influence witnesses.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Senessie repeatedly harassed at least three of the prosecution’s witnesses at their homes and offered to pay them in exchange for recanting their testimony against Charles Taylor.

The prosecution called witnesses who had testified at Taylor’s trial and reported harassment by Mr. Senessie to testify against him at trial. Mr. Senessie testified on his own behalf and called five  additional witnesses to testify in his favor.

After hearing testimony, Justice Teresa Doherty found that Mr. Senessie had “…knowingly and willfully interfered with the administration of justice…” and convicted him on all counts except for one count of attempting to influence a witness.

The maximum penalty for a contempt conviction is seven years imprisonment, a fine of twenty million leones which equates to approximately $4,600 in American currency, or both. The actual sentence will be determined after the prosecution and the defense submit recommendations on sentencing.

Mr. Senessie was once a member of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group that was supported by Charles Taylor during civil war in Sierra Leone. Taylor aided the RUF by abetting in terrorism, murder, rape, conscription of child soldiers and pillage in exchange for diamonds.

Charles Taylor was convicted of eleven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity last month and given a sentence of fifty years in prison.


For further information, please see:

Sierra Express Media – Eric Koi Senessie Convicted of Contempt of Court for Witness Tampering – 23 June 2012

Jurist – Sierra Leone War Crimes Court Convicts Former RUF Member of Witness Tampering – 22 June 2012

Voice of America – In Taylor Trial, Tampering Conviction for Ex-Rebel – 22 June 2012

Modern Ghana – Contempt Trial of Eric Koi Senessie Opens at the Special Court for Sierra Leone – 8 June 2012

Crackdown on Student Protests Continues

By: Ryan Aliman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

KHARTOUM, Sudan – Supporters of the Khartoum government have burned down student dormitories in Khartoum University last Monday.

Protests continue over Sudan's austerity measures. (Photo Courtesy of Radio Dabanga)

Composed of students and security agents, these pro-government forces also set ablaze different offices in the University while they attacked and detained student demonstrators.
These assaults were part of a crackdown on the protests that started on June 16 at Khartoum University. Various student groups and youth movements gathered to clamor against President Omar Al Bashir’s announcement that the national government shall raise taxes and prices and cut fuel subsidies. These austerity measures are an attempt to recover from the country’s US$ 2.4 billion deficit which was exacerbated by the split between Sudan and South Sudan in July last year. In a span of 10 days, the protests grew and spilled over to other parts of the country.

The Sudanese police and security authorities responded to these demonstrations with severe force. Reports show that government forces, joined by pro-government students, have fired tear gas and live ammunition injuring the protesters. They have also held several students in custody. Once detained, these students were reportedly blindfolded and beaten. They were also forced to sign a promissory note that they will no longer participate in any protest once they are released. Some of the detainees, meanwhile, have been sentenced to lashings for violating South Sudan’s public order laws. The authorities also conducted widespread raids across the country and arrested relatives of the protesters and members of the opposition party.

When asked to comment on the demonstrations, President Al-Bashir dismissed these as insignificant. He referred to his dissenters as “foreign -backed aliens and bubbles”. He also endorsed the “forceful and immediate” suppression of the protests and threatened to deploy “real jihadists” or “Muhajhdeen” once the demonstrations escalate further.

On June 27, Human Rights Watch released a report urging Sudan to rein in security forces and to release or charge the detainees. Human Rights Watch Africa director Daniel Bekele suggested that Sudan might be using the protests as “an excuse to use violence and intimidation to silence dissenters”. “Authorities should call off their security forces and vigilantes, end the violence immediately, and respect the right of the people to protest peacefully”, he pleaded.

According to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, security forces shall employ nonviolent means as far as possible before resorting to the use force. Authorities shall exercise restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense if the lawful use of force is unavoidable.


For further information, please see:

Sudan Tribune – Sudan Protest: UN Urges Restraint and Respect for Human Rights – 28 June 2012

Sudan Tribune – HRW Urges Sudan to Rein in Security Forces, Release or Charge Detainees – 27 June 2012

Bikyamasr – Sudanese Call for Friday Mass Demonstration Against Bashir – 27 June 2012

Albawada – Sudan Day of Rage: June 29 – 27 June 2012

Radio Dabanga – Dormitories of Protesting Students set Ablaze by Sudan Security Agents – 26 June 2012

Worldwide Release of “S.O.S. — Siege on Syria”: A Short Film Highlighting the Atrocities in Syria and a Call to Action

Syrian artists are calling on the International Criminal Court to hold the Syrian Regime accountable for their crimes against humanity and demand an immediate stop to the murder of civilians, the bombing of hospitals, the rape of women, and the torture of prisoners which are all currently being perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad and his regime in Syria.

At a special evening for the International Criminal Court in The Hague, commemorating the farewell of the first Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and the welcome of his successor Fatou Bensouda, The Cinema for Peace Foundation, presented the first official screening of “S.O.S. – Siege on Syria”, a short film, which sheds light on the unbelievable atrocities being committed by the Assad regime in Syria. The film follows members of the local Arab community and supporters of the Syrian revolution as they assembled a flash mob in Detroit, Michigan to raise awareness of the ongoing violence in Syria; and aims to bring to attention to the Syrian uprising for freedom and dignity.

The film has already reached several members of the European Union and was screened for a select assembly of U.S. congressmen and the U.S. ambassador to Syria on June 22, 2012. Cinema for Peace is asking everybody to screen this film and distribute it in social media networks, so it can reach a worldwide audience. Since the film’s shooting, the number of Syrian martyrs has already doubled with nearly 20,000 Syrians massacred, many of which have been women and children. As well as targeting civilians with shelling, fighters have also moved in on the ground and brutally shot and stabbed peaceful civilians to death. In addition to the many thousands murdered, there are hundreds of thousands more who have been displaced. A Syrian activist and victim featured in the film declares, “Everyone that can say a word, and doesn’t say that word, the blood of the people dying is on their hands”

In response to this plea, Syrian artists and Cinema for Peace Foundation are releasing “S.O.S. – Siege on Syria” and calling for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad and his regime; an urgent deliverance of mediators, emergency supplies and humanitarian aid to the afflicted civilian population, and an immediate stop to the violence and murder of innocent civilians.

Invisible Children have joined the charge, standing with Cinema for Peace Foundation in calling for an international unified voice demanding an end to the violence. “We are a generation who will not stand for the brutality against our brothers and sisters, wherever that may be. As a part of a global connectivity, there is a responsibility that flows from it.” The strength of a worldwide call can provoke change, and Cinema for Peace Foundation in partnership with Syrian artists and Invisible Children are appealing to the international community to be a part of bringing peace and justice to Syria by sharing “S.O.S.- Siege on Syria” as far and wide as possible and appealing for the freedom of the Syrian people.


Cinema for Peace Foundation
Friedrichstraße 113
D – 10117 Berlin
Phone: +49 – (0)30 76 77 525 – 22
Fax: +49 – (0)30 76 77 525 – 20

Syrian Revolution Digest – Thursday 28 June 2012



The Relics!

When regime propagandists begin describing the majority population in their country as Relics, especially after their president declared war against said majority, chances for the success of a new plan that lacks enforcement mechanisms drop to null, while those for ethnic cleansing on an even larger scale than witnessed so far increase to 100%. But if world leaders expect the relics to go gently into that good night, they are as delusional as Assad and his militias.  

Thursday June 28, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 139. The Breakdown: 59 in Damascus Suburbs (mostly in Douma), 26 in Homs, 17 in Daraa, 15 in Deir Ezzor, 9 in Hama, 9 in Idlib, and 2 in Aleppo.

Lebanese police is reportedly increasing its crackdown against Syrian anti-regime activists living in Lebanon, with new arrests reported. Previously Lebanese authorities surrendered Syrian activists to the Assad regime despite their refugee status. International community should act now to pressure Lebanese authorities into complying with all norms and regulations pertaining to treatment of refugees.


Op-Eds & Special Reports

The Massacre of Douma (Damascus Suburbs)

Victims: 38 dead, and 150 wounded. Most died in the continuous shelling of the town, but 14 people were executed when pro-Assad militias stormed their neighborhoods, they belonged to one family: Al-Tomei. The dead included 7 children and a 90-year old grandmother The victims , The fridge The pounding sets buildings on fire The invading tanks pound their way into the neighborhood , gunships took part in the pounding Tank in action Nearby Kafarbatna is also pounded In Arbeen, helicopter gunships take part in the pounding

Unfortunately, what could have been a good point to make on the need for providing structural and constitutional protections to the country’s minorities in the future reads like an exercise in pro-regime propaganda. The authors, self-proclaimed intelligence analysts focusing on Syrian-Lebanese issues, adopted regime line on the expulsion of Christians from Old Homs and the nearby town of Qusayr.

Rather than attributing the exodus of 80,000 Christians to the same reasons that paved the way for the simultaneous exodus from adjacent neighborhoods of over 500,000 Sunni inhabitants, that is:  indiscriminate and well-documented shelling of neighborhoods by pro-regime troops, our “intelligence” analysts claim that Sunni fighters took the time to risk their lives to go on a suicidal house-to-house mission to order Christian families out. The presence of Christians in the middle of areas targeted by pro-regime militias was a major complicating factor for the regime, their departure facilitate the intensification of the bombing campaign. Yet, our intelligence analysts want us to believe that local Sunni fighters made this major miscalculation not once but twice: in Old Homs and Al-Qusayr.

A better take on the threat to Christians in Qusayr can be found here.

To date, experts simply refuse to see the real patterns emerging on the ground, patterns which denote active planning for the creation of a future enclave in the coastal and central parts of Syria where the overwhelming majority population is made up of Alawites and Christians. The only beneficiaries of massive population shifts in the country are Assad and his loyalist militias. In fact, most Christians who left Old Homs went to live in Alawite-majority neighborhoods in Homs City and most those who left the town of Qusayr went to live in towns and villages close to majority Alawite towns and villages, although some escaped to Lebanon, and from there to western countries.

Syria’s Turkish Relics

But the most telling development of late is the declaration of war enunciated by Bashar Al-Assad against his enemies, i.e., the majority of the Syrian people, even as world leaders keep speaking of political solutions and peaceful transfer of power. Assad is not interested in taking part in power-sharing arrangements even if they keep him in power for a while or afford him a face-saving exit to U.K. Whether as President of the country, or a warlord with his own major turf, Assad wants to stay in Syria, and no amount of coaxing, plans or talks can change his mind. His bombs speak louder than all words, and his propagandist are already trying to draw a scenario that can justify further ethnic cleansing in the country, on a more mass scale.

The recent dismissal by pro-Assad ideologue on Addounia TV, the network owned by Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf, of the Sunni inhabitants of Homs as “Turkish Relics” from Ottoman times comes as the latest attempt at justifying the ethnic cleansing that took place there. The Assad regime has moved from blatant denial into defiant admission and justification of the crimes its militias are perpetrating all over the country. This is both a sign of weakness and strength. Assad and his advisers know that they are losing the country, they also know, however that their plans for the creation of a loyalist enclave on most ethnic lines are progressing nicely. Putin is buying them the time they need for that.

Power Sharing

In this light, plans for unity government proposed by Kofi Annan seem completely unrealistic, especially considering the absence of any enforcement mechanisms. What would make an Assad who just declared war against 80% of his people and whose militias are busy ethnically cleansing huge swathes of lands from native Sunnis, now deemed as Turkish Relics, stop and decide to allow for such unity government to take place and to pave the way for his replacement, absent any serious threats to is very existence?

The War in Videos

In Khan Al-Sibil, Idlib province, where fighters managed to take control of an anti-aircraft battery, they now target the helicopter gunships targeting their community

Basra Al-Harir, Daraa, comes under fire at night Al-Hraak gets pounded at night Daraa City (Sadd) comes under fire at night , ,

Zamalka, Damascus Suburbs, comes under fire at night ,

The sounds of war in Deir Ezzor City , local fighters destroyed three attacking tanks, and mass defections continue to take place on a regular basis. Pro-Assad militias in these parts often draw on members from Sunni Arab tribes in Hassakah and Raqqah which is why defections are quite common. The aftermath of pounding–JjUQVz8 Helicopter gunships take part in the pounding The tanks taking part in laying siege to the city

In Homs Province, the pounding of Talbisseh continues , and the pounding of Houla the pounding of Rastan The pounding of Old Homscontinues (Jouret Al-Shayah) , ,

The pounding of Jabal Shahshabo, Hama Province, continues

Lattakia, Jabal Al-Akrad, the pounding continues

Still, whenever people have the chance to demonstrate peacefully, they do in droves:

In Damascus: Daraya Dafalshawk Barzeh Qaboun Halbouni

In Hama: Bab Qibli

In Homs City, Wa’er

In Idlib: Marrat Al-Nouman (funeral) Kafar Ouaid

Israeli Settlers Leave West Bank Settlement

By Mark McMurray
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

JERUSALEM, Israel — On Tuesday, Israeli authorities began enforcing a court order calling for the dismantling of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

Residents await evacuation from Ulpana. (Photo Courtesy of the New York Times)

The evacuation comes after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in September that five of the fourteen buildings in Ulpana, housing thirty families in total, sit on Palestinian land.  Temporary housing has been provided for the families in the larger town of Beit El, of which Ulpana is a suburb.  Hoping to find a way to relocate the buildings instead of destroying them, the government asked the court to delay the removal of the structures, which was scheduled for July 1.  The government’s request was denied, leading to the evacuation this week.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the building of additional housing in the disputed territory.  Three hundred homes are to be built in Beit El, with an additional five hundred to be constructed in other parts of the West Bank.  The announcement came as supporters of the settler movement, mainly right-wing critics within Netanyahu’s Likud party, spoke out against the removal of settlers from Ulpana.

Israel Harel, a senior fellow at the Institute for Zionist Strategies, has mixed feelings about the compromise of building new settlements in Beit El to replace the housing abandoned in Ulpana.

“In the general arena, the settlers’ movement made a big victory,” he said.  “But there is a big inner debate about if this compromise should be accepted.”

Tzaly Reshef, a founder of Peace Now–an Israeli group opposing the settlements–believes there will be no two-state solution with the presence of settlements in Beit El.  “While Netanyahu may say from here to eternity that the Israelis will negotiate, the Israelis will compromise, what he does on the ground shows his real intentions,” he said.  Experts believe the settlements in Beit El would become a part of the Palestinian state if the two-state solution moves forward.

Israel captured the land where the settlement is located as a result of the Six-Day War in 1967.  The decision to create new settlements in the area fifteen miles north of Jerusalem has been criticized by the Palestinians and the U.S.  They argue that building new structures within the disputed territory undermines the peace process.  Critics of the East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements, citing the 2003 road map for peace and Israeli law, also claim that the buildings are illegal under both local and international law.

For further information, please see:

BBC News – West Bank Jewish Settlers Leave Ulpana Outpost – 26 June 2012

New York Times – Settlers Begin Evacuation of a West Bank Outpost – 26 June 2012

Times of Israel – No Violence As Fifteen Families Leave Homes at Givat Ulpana Outpost – 26 June 2012

Jewish Journal – Ulpana Residents Agree to Leave Peacefully – 20 June 2012


Turning Point for Human Rights in Azerbaijan

By Pearl Rimon
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

BAKU, Azerbaijan –  The legal affairs and human rights committee of the Council of Europe voted on a resolution that calls for Azerbaijani authorities to resolve the cases of more than 80 political prisoners and to ensure that no further arrests on politically motivated charges are made. By the passing of this resolution, the Council of Europe has sent a clear message to the Azerbaijan government to stop using its criminal justice system as a way to deal with political oppositions.

Vivdadi Isganderov, detained human rights defender. (Photo Courtesy of Frontline Defenders)

The adopted resolution comes from a report by Christoph Strässer, who was assigned to follow up on political prisoners in the country. Azerbaijan has denied Strässer’s visa for entry into the country since 2009. Strässer was forced to write his report without meeting with the political prisoners and relied on information provided by consulting Azerbaijani lawyers, and local and international human rights groups. His report listed around 100 political prisoners who are in detention due to trumped up charges.

Azerbaijan was admitted into the Council of Europe in 2001 but on the condition that they would release all political prisoners. Among the political prisoners is Vidadi Isganderov, a human rights defender who was sentenced for three years following a complaint he submitted to authorities alleging vote rigging during his 2010 parliamentary election. Instead of investigating his complain, he was charged and convicted of interfering with the elections.

“ARTICLE 19 welcomes this decision by the Council of Europe as crucial step in recognizing that political prisoners exist in Azerbaijan, something which the authorities in that country have continued to deny,” says Dr. Agnes Callamard, director of ARTICLE 19, a London based human rights organization.

Azerbaijani authorities released nine political activists last week, but a number of journalists, human rights defenders and activists remain in custody. This month alone, three were arrested on false charges in what appears to be retaliatory action for their human rights work.

Hilal Mammadov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Tolishi Sadoi, was arrested on June 21 on alleged drug possession charges and is in pre-trial custody for three months. Mehman Huseynov, a blogger for Institute for Reports’ Freedoms and Safety is in custody and charged with “hooliganism”. Ilham Amiraslanov, an activist for the country’s 2001 flood victims is currently detained on weapons charges.  sent to pre-trial custody for three months. On June 12, Mehman Huseynov, a blogger and photographer at the Institute for Reporters’ Freedoms and Safety, was arrested and charged with “hooliganism.” And on June 8, police arrested Ilham Amiraslanov, an activist who worked on behalf of victims of a 2010 flood in eastern Azerbaijan, on trumped-up weapons possession charges.

For further information, please see:

Public Service Europe – Enough is Enough Azerbaijan Must Act On Human Rights 28 June 2012

Azeri Report – Council of Europe Adopts Resolution on Azerbaijan’s Political Prisoners 26 June 2012

New Europe Online – Amnesty International Welcomes Release Azerbaijani Activists 26 June 2012

Notes From India: Anemic Women and Prenatal Care

By Emily Schneider
Special Contributor, Blog Entry #3

We’re visiting our third health center in Bihar, India and I am hot, dirty, and exhausted.  We arrived in Patna at 5:00 a.m., after a twelve hour train ride from Delhi, and have been visiting health centers ever since.  Right now, we’re at a Primary Health Center (PHC) in Patna.  Primary Health Centers are larger than the Sub-Health Centers (SHC) but are spread farther apart throughout the districts.  They should be open 24 hours and have doctors and nurses on hand at all times.  Our guide informed us that this particular PHC served as the model for all others in the state of Bihar.

The "model" PHC.

We are trying to see as many health centers, covering all economic levels, in as many different districts throughout the state as possible.  Our job is to question the doctors and nurses about the care they’re providing and the supplies they have available.  We are also supposed to thoroughly document everything we see with pictures.  We’re trying to find out if the health centers in Bihar are complying with the established national guidelines.  Previously, they were in violation of almost every regulation.  For example, Bihar didn’t have enough health centers and the health centers they had established didn’t have enough medical equipment or supplies.  Additionally, they weren’t open the requisite 24hours a day, and they were not clean and sanitary.

All of these problems leads to India’s alarmingly high maternal mortality rate.  Human Rights Law Network even filed a public interest lawsuit to bring the substandard level of care to the attention of the Indian government and the public.  The courts ordered a reform of the Bihar health centers a year ago.  Now my team has been sent to see if there was any change following the court order or if the conditions remain the same.

The inside of the PHC.

One of the most prevalent problems that directly contributes to maternal mortality rates is anemia.  Many studies note there is a prevalence of anemia throughout India and that it contributes to death during childbirth.  It also helps to explain the very high maternal death rate in comparison to other countries.  The percentage of maternal deaths caused by hemorrhage is also greater in India than the rest of the world.   This can also be attributed to the high rate of anemia.

Anemic women are increasingly susceptible to communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria; both of which are associated with complications during and after pregnancy.  According to the most recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), in India, it is estimated that 55% of women are anemic; some studies place the number of pregnant women who are anemic as high as 85%.  The NFHS-3 survey also stated that in 2004, approximately 22,000 maternal deaths were directly related to anemia.  However, the most troubling aspect of the survey is that the number of women suffering from anemia in India has steadily increased over the past ten years.

According to the new government guidelines, women should be provided with dietary supplements during the requisite four ante-natal care appointments.  The implementation of this simple practice would be a big step forward in helping to reduce the occurrence of anemia in pregnant women.  That is, if it actually ever happened.  The problem is that ensuring that this practice does manage to be implemented is dependent on a number of things.  First, all pregnant women should be officially registered in their district; second, they should be provided free ante-natal appointments that involve physical checkups, tests for anemia, vaccinations, and dietary supplements; and third, the facility must actually have the proper dietary supplements to provide them to the women.

The reality is that many women never register.  Those who do register usually don’t receive any ante-natal care visits.  Those few who do go for ante-natal care visits do not get proper physical exams and are hardly ever tested for anemia.  Almost none of the women are actually given the dietary supplements to help them stay healthy and strong during pregnancy.

This woman had given birth an hour before this and was preparing to leave the hospital. Government standards require women to stay for 48 hours, but none of them do because of overcrowding and fear of maternal mortality rates. Most hospitals kick women out who are dying because they don’t want them to die in their facility.

We asked the chief medical officer at the “model” health center to estimate how many mothers he sees with anemia.  He told us he hardly ever treats pregnant anemic women and that anemia is a very rare condition in India.  Hopefully, in our next few visits we will be able to uncover more information to determine who is correct.  The doctor or the statistics from the NFHS-3 survey.


Emily Schneider is a third-year law student at Syracuse University College of Law.  She will be contributing to Impunity Watch by blogging about her experiences in India, where she is spending her summer working as an intern.  

Syrian Revolution Digest – Wednesday 27 June 2012



All-Out War All Across Syria!

As long as the All-Out War waged by Assad continues to meet with an all-out grappling by international leaders to the illusion of political solution, Syrians will continue to die and Syria will continue to disintegrate.

Wednesday June 27, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 104. The Breakdown: 42 in Idilb, 15 in Damascus Suburbs, 14 in Deir Ezzor, 10 in Daraa, 10 in Homs, 8 in Qamislo, 3 in Hama, 1 in Hassakah and 1 in Aleppo. The toll includes 20 children.

Major battles took place throughout Syria today, but the main story remains the indiscriminate shelling by pro-Assad militias of communities where local resistance groups have managed to wrest control of their communities. As these words are being written, Damascus City and Suburbs are witnessing major clashes with explosions heard throughout many key neighborhoods.

Live-streaming the pounding of Douma Suburb, Damascus


The headquarters of a privately-owned, pro-government TV station were attacked and employees were kidnapped and killed. The government blames ‘terrorists’. Rebel forces deny that they target the media.

Islamist group says it is launching investigation to discover who is behind ‘despicable crime.’ Al-Mayadeen: Kamal Ranaja served as aide to top Hamas man killed in Dubai in 2010

Hamas leader believes Mossad behind killing, says Kamel Ranaja was former deputy of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was assassinated in Dubai over two years ago.

Expert says Turkish was not aware Syrian forces capable of intercepting enemy planes flying under radar. US officials: Damascus beefed up missile defense after Israel bombed reactor

Op-Eds & Special Reports

HOW DOCTORS OPERATE IN WARTIME In Syria and beyond, doctors risk their lives to save others. Here’s what it takes to do this dangerous work.

“There has been a definite pushback from Obama’s administration,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian activist and author who coordinated the delegation’s trip. Mr. Abdulhamid described the current White House administration as a “black box” of secrecy. Mr. Abdulhamid said he sent an email to the White House to request a meeting but never heard back. He blamed that on a technical glitch rather than purposeful negligence, but also noted the administration’s policy of noninterference in Syria.

Video Highlights

Two of twenty children who died today: they died when the town of Hayyan, Aleppo Province, came under heavy shelling The pounding ,

Two more children fell in the town of Habeet, Idlib Province

More scenes from the massacre of Al-Hameh, Damascus Suburbs (June 26) Pro-Assad militias invaded the town and executed locals en masse

Nighttime protesters in Ruknaddine Neighborhood, Damascus City, come under fire

The pounding of Houla, Homs Province, continues , The nearby town of Talbisseh is also pounded , Helicopter gunships take part The town of Rastan gets pounded as well Meanwhile, the indiscriminate pounding of old neighborhoods in Homs City continues (Jouret Al-Shayah) (Qoussour)

The pounding of the town of Da’el, Daraa, left many dead

The pounding of Sanamein, Daraa

The town of Maarabah, Daraa, gets pounded by Helicopters

The pounding of Karnaz, Hama Province

The pounding of Ma’arrat Al-Nouman, Idlib ,

The pounding of Khan Al-Sibil, Idlib A house catches fire

Local in the town of Albou Kamal along the borders with Iraq come under fire

The Khmer Rouge Trial Faces A Few Obstacles

By Karen Diep
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia– Time is of the essence in the Khmer Rouge trial.  According to experts, funding and health threaten the trial of Khmer Rouge’s three surviving members for the deaths of approximately 2 million people.

King Guek Eav, the prison chief. (Photo Courtesy of The Guardian)

Nuon Chea, the chief advocate, Khieu Samphan, the head of state, and Ieng Sary, the foreign minister, face charges that include genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The Khmer Rouge, a Communist movement, is responsible for the execution, torture, forced labor, and starvation of millions from 1975 to 1979.  Survivors have waited a very long time for the prosecution of those liable.

“The victims, especially myself, we suffer for too long,” said Marie Chea, now 60 years old.  “I lost my family, my mom, my dad, my brothers and sisters.  I suffer, suffer, even when I am back home — I say home because I am in the United States more than 30 years.”

In 2006, voluntary contributions from various nations paid for the existing tribunal.  However, since its creation, the tribunal has cost more than $160 million and this year faces a $22 million budget decrease.  Financial stress aside, the court faces other dilemmas.

Seven months have already passed in the first “mini-trial.”  Since opening statements in late November, the court has only held trial hearings on 78 days.  On Thursday, it adjourned for about a month.  To date, the tribunal has only completed one case, the sentence of S-21’s prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, to life imprisonment.

In an effort to expedite the process, judges of a UN-supported court in Phnom Penh have divided the intricate case into smaller trials, thus leaving the most serious crimes for later proceedings.

In addition to funding troubles and slow pace, the ailing health of the Khmer Rouge’s senior members and their ability to endure the entire trial is a grave concern.  Last month, the hearings were postponed for a week because 86 year old Ieng Sary was hospitalized for bronchitis.

“This is it, this is the trial. Nobody believes there’s going to be a second phase,” voiced Anne Heindel, a legal consultant to the Documentation Center of Cambodia.  Moreover, according to Jakarta Globe, Heindel fears of a “narrow judgment” that would veil “the story of what happened under the Khmer Rouge.”

The first trial piece centers on the forced transfer of city inhabitants to rural work sites.  Shortly after the evacuation, the regime allegedly killed thousands of “enemies.” The prosecution has twice requested that the judges include this crime among others in the first trial.

For many Cambodians, far worse crimes- mass purges, forced marriages, and torture – under the 1975-1979 regime may never be heard.  As Heindel stated, unaddressed crimes “would greatly diminish the legacy of this court.”

For further information, please see:

Jakarta Globe- Fear Grow for Early End to Khmer Rouge Trial- 24 June 12

The Guardian-Kmer Rouge leaders go on trial in Cambodia– 26 June 12

The Huffington Post- Khmer Rouge Trial: Kaing Guek Eav, Chief Jailer, Gets Life In Prison– 12 Feb. 12

The New York Times-Survivors Seek Answers at Khmer Rouge Trial– 20 Nov. 12


Syrian Revolution Digest – Tuesday 26 June 2012




As local resistance groups manage to overwhelm pro-Assad troops and militias throughout Syria driving them out of their town and communities, Assad’s subsequent strategy calls for indiscriminate shelling of these communities using heavy artillery, tanks and helicopter gunships. The tragic nature of this development aside, the situation does give an opportunity for interested international parties to direct air strikes against positions held by pro-Assad militias with minimal risk of collateral damage to civilian populations. But international dithering continues to prolong the life of the Assad regime. Iran and Russia are no longer the sole external culprits in the massacres currently perpetrated by pro-Assad militias.

Tuesday June 26, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 113. The Breakdown: 33 in Damascus Suburbs (Hameh and Qudsayah, West of Damascus, and Douma, East of Damascus) 16 in Daraa, 24 in Idlib, 14 in Homs, 10 in Deir Ezzor, 9 in Aleppo, 5 in Hama and 2 in Damascus City.

Assad officially admits he is waging war against the Syrian people Assad says Syria in a “real state of war” Indeed, a war is an apt description of what is taking place in so many towns and cities across the countries, even in Damascus suburbs: Fierce fighting erupts near DamascusEven UN monitors are feeling the heat: Syria deemed too dangerous for U.N. monitors to resume mission. But the mood inside the regime’s upper ranks seems to be increasingly cloudy, as more high level defections are reported: Latest Syrian Defectors Are From Higher Ranks.

Turkish PM’s border warning to Assad could pave the way for formalizing and protecting the de facto safe haven carved out in Idlib Province by local resistance: Turkey PM Erdogan issues Syria border warning. In this light, NATO’s lack of retaliation might of little consequence for now: Turkey, NATO assail Syria, but no retaliation for shoot-down seen. So does French dithering: French support waning for any action in Syria: poll.

Meanwhile, more U.S. officials are calling for serious action on Syria: Rice: Syria will never be stable with Assad in place.


Op-Eds & Special Reports

The Resistance

Video Highlights

Rebel control over the areas adjacent to the Syrian-Turkish borders in the Idlib province was firm enough to encourage a visit by former SNC President, Bourhane Ghalioun. So, even as Assad was giving his defiant speech, Mr. Ghalioun was paying a visit to the liberated communities near the Turkish borders: Arriving in disguise Meeting members of the local resistance The trip back A day earlier, members of the local resistance managed to take control of an anti-aircraft gun

Maar Dibseh, Idlib Province: a helicopter gunship makes an emergency landing and gets destroyed by members of the local resistance In nearby Khan Al-Subul, local resistance destroy a BMP Wounded and martyrs , ,

The pounding of Khan Shaikhoon, Idlib Province ,

Elsewhere, in Homs Province, members of the local resistance capture a brigadier General working for the Syrian air force

Al-Hameh, Damascus: mass grave for today’s victims of mass shelling The martyrs The pounding of Al-Hameh was caught on camera Nearby Qudsaya offers several martyrs as well , , The pounding of Qudsaya was caught on camera

Talbisseh, Homs Province, the shelling continues: , , , The view from street level

The pounding of old neighborhoods in Homs City continues

The pounding of Deir Ezzor City continues–d63Q Shops catch fire A home catch fire Martyrs A little child among the martyrs

Mleihah Al-Gharbiyeh, Daraa is pounded by choppers

The Palestinian Refugee Camp near Daraa City offers more martyrs as the continuing pounding displaces more people The funeral Mourners come under fire from snipers

Syrian Network for Human Rights: Salah Addein, Inkhel, and Douma Massacres

Salah Addein Massacre | 22 June 2012

Following prayer on Friday, the Salah Addein neighbourhood residents took to the streets in protests.  The largest of the march groups walked from the mosques of Bilal and Al-Nasir Salah Addein.

The protesters marched  while chanting slogans condemning the homicides perpetrated against the Syrian people.  They demanded the toppling of the Syrian regime and made calls for freedom and dignity for the Syrian people.

Suddenly, four armoured vehicles, affiliated with the regime’s army, arrived and opened machinegun fire at the protesters.  They killed eight within the first few minutes, and proceeded to target anyone who tried to aid them.  Paramedics and locals confirmed that most of the gunshots were to the head and the chest.


Bodies of a father and son who were victims of the massacre.  The son is 15 years old, his father was killed as he tried to treat his dying son.

Inkhel Massacre | 21 June 2012

The Syrian regime 15th brigade shelled the city of Inkhel, in the Daraa governorate to the south of Syria, around 5:00 a.m. for three continual hours.  The shelling killed six citizens and injured many others.  Those critically injured are now in danger as there is a severe medical supplies shortage.

The events of Inkhel followed the pattern of all the earlier massacres.  First came random shelling in order to terrorize the residents, then the regime’s army began a land incursion with tanks surrounding the city and armoured vehicles raiding the area using large numbers of infantry, security forces, and snipers.

Next came the house raids during which extra judicial executions were carried out against three citizens.  Four others were slaughtered with knives, in a manner similar to the massacres in Idleb and Homs which were duly documented earlier. In addition, snipers stationed in the city killed two and injured at least thirteen others.

Around 10:00 a.m., once the shelling and raids were over, the residents prepared the victims for burial.  As the funeral procession was heading to the cemetery, the army and security forces killed three of the mourners.  This additional monstrous act was done because the mourning families chanted anti-regime slogans due to the rage they felt over the deaths of their family members.  These final killings make the death toll of the massacre stand at 18 victims, including one woman.

Houses are destroyed from the shelling attacks that began the Inkhel massacre.

Douma Massacre | 21 June 2012

In its constant attempts to crush the revolution and its strongholds, the Syrian regime sent dozens of tanks and an estimated 7,000 troops of military reinforcements to the city of Douma, just east of Damascus.  The shelling started around 9:00 am and lated until late at night.  The city came under shelling from all directions due to the circular position of tanks.  Near Mesraba Bridge, in the southern area the city, no less than 25 tanks were stationed.  In addition, heavy artillery, positioned a ways from the city, also participated in the shelling.  The heavy artillery was positioned inside the vehicles administration department, affiliated with the Syrian army, and near Dahiyet al-Assad bridge, to the west of Douma.

Various types of weaponry and ammunition were used ranging from mortar shells to 1.5 meter-long rockets which helps to explain the large number of casualties and wounded.  Thirty-four people were killed in this horrific massacre including three bodies that were completely burned due to artillery shelling.  Moreover, no less than 135 were wounded, including nine who were in very critical conditions.  Further, a very large exodus was observed in the area, with an estimated 150,000 people fleeing the city.  Those residents who remained sought refuge in basements and shelters.

Shelling was concentrated on the neighbourhoods of Al-Masaken, Al-Humeira, the perimeter of the Great Mosque, and even reached the Al-Hijariya neighbourhood.

A state of panic and terror prevailed, particularly among the children, as helicopters hovered over the city.  In the meantime, the Syrian government also cut off the water and power supplies as well as  all communications.  Medical services and supplies were extremely scarce due to the regime’s forces surrounding the city and preventing wounded people from leaving; as well as doctors from entering the city.

We have been able to document 34 victims by collecting their names and filming a video for each victim.  The victims include Mohammad Al-Nabulsi, a paramedic of Douma, who was killed while trying to rescue some of the wounded people.  Also among the casualties were a young woman and a Palestinian young man.

 Muhammad Ahmad al-Nabulsi, a paramedic volunteer.  He was killed by a mortar while treating the wounded.


All information and videos contained in this report provided by:

Syrian Network for Human Rights

Senator McCain Calls Upon President Obama to Apply Aggressive New Sanctions Designed to Combat Terrorism to the Russian Organized Crime Group Who Murdered Sergei Magnitsky

Press Release
Hermitage Capital

26 June 2012 – Today U.S. Senator John McCain called on President Obama to invoke Executive Order 13581 against the Klyuev Organized Crime Group in Russia connected to the murder of whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Executive Order 13581 was signed by President Obama in July last year and allows the President to “proscribe” organized crime groups using the same tools that the US Government currently uses against terrorist organizations.

“I write to you today to request that you begin a process to determine whether to designate and impose sanctions, under the Executive Order 13581, against a dangerous transnational criminal organization known as the “Klyuev Group ,” said Senator McCain in the letter.

“Public information, much of it uncovered by Mr. Magnitsky himself before his arrest in Russia in 2008, suggests that the Klyuev Group has colluded with senior Russian officials to engage in bribery, fraud, embezzlement, company thefts, and other serious financial crimes…Activities of the Klyuev Group appear to put the U.S. and international financial systems at serious risk of abuse,” said Senator McCain.

Designating the Klyuev Organized Crime Group (“KOCG”) as a significant criminal organisation posing a US national security threat means that all assets and property of any member of the KOCG will be blocked, and no US person is allowed to do business with them, or with anyone who does business with them anywhere in the world.

According to independent investigations, the KOCG is a major Russian criminal organization that has been involved in fraud, murder, international money laundering, as well as financing and supplies to the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel and weapons trafficking involving North Korea and Iran (

In spite of numerous filings with Russian law enforcement agencies, the KOCG’s operations continue within Russia unrestrained which lead to the group being referred to as the “untouchables”.

The KOCG came to prominence when they were exposed for stealing $230 million from the Russian treasury and torturing and then killing anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

The KOCG involves members of the criminal gangs from former Soviet Union, ranking members of the Russian secret service, police, judges, and tax officials, and has international connections to illicit networks and shell companies in Panama, Moldova, Cyprus, Latvia, Switzerland, UK, and New Zealand.

According to a new investigative video, “The Magnitsky Files” and filings in various jurisdictions, the Klyuev Group is extremely powerful and has embezzled and laundered around $800 million through the international banking system and is reported to be responsible for violent crimes, kidnapping, extortion and deaths.

The significance of proscribing the KOCG is that anyone lending any type of support or assistance or financing to it will be subject to the same kind of U.S. sanctions.

“Basically, applying this executive order to the Klyuev crime group would put them in the same category as Al-Qaeda. It is an extremely strong measure and will seriously curtail their criminal business,” said a Hermitage Capital spokesman.

Senator John McCain has requested President Obama to use the presidential powers under the Executive Order 13581 which is designed specifically to curtail the activities of significant criminal organisations whose operations are inter-twined with foreign governments.

“Such organizations are becoming increasingly sophisticated and dangerous to the United States; they are increasingly entrenched in the operations of foreign governments and the international financial system, thereby weakening democratic institutions, degrading the rule of law, and undermining economic markets,” says the U.S President’s Executive Order Executive Order 13581.

Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year old Russian lawyer who was investigating the money laundering by the KOCG, was falsely arrested, tortured and killed in police custody two and a half years ago. His killers have not been brought to justice in Russia.

The Executive Order 13581 was signed by U.S. President Barak Obama on July 24, 2011 to address “the activities of significant transnational criminal organizations” posing national threat.

The term “significant transnational criminal organization” means a group of persons, that

  1. includes one or more foreign persons;
  2. engages in an ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity involving the jurisdictions of at least two foreign states; and
  3. threatens the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.


For further information please contact:

Hermitage Capital

Phone:             +44 207 440 17 77
Twitter:            @KatieFisher__

33 Syrian Officers, Including General and 2 Colonels, Defect to Turkey

By Ali Al-Bassam
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East 

ANKARA, Turkey — Thirty-three members of Syria’s military defected into Turkey on Sunday night.  They were part of some two hundred people who crossed between the Syrian-Turkish border into the Hatay Province.  Turkey’s state-run Andalou news agency said the group included a general and two colonels, but a government official claimed that there was no general among the group, only three colonels.  Despite this, the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not know the overall number of those who crossed into Turkey.  Andalou also reported that the group of defectors was placed in a refugee camp in Hatay.  Turkey now hosts 33,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed into the country since the revolt against Al-Assad began 16 months ago.

Syrian Refugees
Syrian arrivals have taken refuge in the Hatay Province of Turkey. (Photo Courtesy of BBC News)

The recent defections have increased the number of generals within Turkey since the revolution began to thirteen.  The generals now give logistical support to the Free Syrian Army, even though Turkey denies that they are arming the rebels.  Thousands of soldiers have also abandoned the Syrian regime, but most of them are low-level conscripts.  So far, there is no evidence that their defections have negatively affected the Syrian military’s ability to fight.

Two days prior to the defections, a Turkish aircraft was shot down by Syrian forces who claim that it had violated their airspace.  Bulent Arinc, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that “all options are on the table”  for Turkey’s response.  Earlier on Monday, Jihad Makdissi, Syria’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, said that “[t]he Turkish warplane violated Syrian airspace, and in turn Syrian air defences fired back and the plane crashed inside Syrian territorial waters.”  Turkey claims that the plane was in international airspace, and that the plane was on a training flight to test Turkey’s radar capabilities. Turkey also insists that it was not spying on Syria.

Turkey has summoned a meeting with NATO for Tuesday to agree on a response to the downing of its aircraft.  European Union members in Luxembourg requested a calm response from Turkey, saying that they would increase pressure on Assad.  On Monday, EU spokesman Maja Kocijanci said that the EU decided to add another Syrian official and six firms and government institutions to its sanctions list, which already includes 120 individuals and nearly 50 entities.

Analysts believe it is unlikely that Turkey will take immediate military action against Syria.  Cagri Erhan, a professor of political science at Ankara University, said “I don’t think Turkey’s response will be a military one.  War is not one of the options.  Turkey will act in line with measures taken within NATO.”

“I’m not of the opinion that Turkey will immediately respond militarily,” agreed Beril Dedeoglu of Galatasaray University. “But if there is another action, then there will certainly be a military response, there is no doubt.”

For further information, please see:

Anadolu Agency — Thirty-three Syrian Army Defectors Fled to Turkey — 25 June 2012

Al Jazeera — Turkish Cabinet Meets to Discuss Syria Crisis — 25 June 2012

BBC News — Syria General and two Colonels ‘Defect to Turkey’ — 25 June 2012

Gulf News — 33 Syria Military Members Defect to Turkey — 25 June 2012

Reuters — Syrian Officers Defect, Turkey Looks to NATO — 25 June 2012

Syrian Revolution Digest – Sunday 24 June 2012 Part II



On the Road (4)!

The official statement by the White House on the downing of a Turkish jet by Assad air defenses promised that the U.S. will “work with Turkey and other partners to hold the Assad regime accountable.” Let’s see to what further inefficient and laughable policies this promise will engender on Tuesday when NATO is scheduled to meet. Because after 16 months of stupidity, hypocrisy and inefficiency, I do not dare expect anything from international policymakers except more of the same. Of course, that’s what all can expect from us as well, because we are not planning on giving up.

Sunday June 24, 2012

Clashes are now taking place on a regular basis in towns and communities across Syria, including Homs, Idlib, Hama, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Daraa and Damascus Suburbs. The average daily death toll is around 150. Recourse to helicopter gunships and heavy artillery by pro-Assad troops and militias continues to be a routine occurrence.


Op-Eds & Special Reports

What Russia Gave Syria A guide to Bashar al-Assad’s arsenal.

“The Wounded Will Be Killed” An American photojournalist describes what he saw during the month he spent in a Syrian village under siege. The Martyrdom of Al QusayrImages from photojournalist Robert King’s recent visit to a Syrian community under siege.

Video Highlights

Shelling in Maarbah, Daraa Daraa City, Daraa Al-Hraak, Daraa – a dead child is mourned by his mother Talbisseh, Homs Rastan, Homs The mangled bodies of the locals Homs City , Deir Ezzor City Ariha, Idlib Hass, Idlib a tank takes part in the pounding