Brazil Follows Uruguay And Effectively Approves Gay Marriage

By Brendan Oliver Bergh
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BRASILIA, Brazil – 2013 has certainly been a telling time for same-sex relations. While some misguided Catholics appreciated that the Pope approved of same-sex unions, the real story comes from the approval of same-sex marriages in Latin America.  Authorities in Brazil have effectively legalized same-sex marriage, following Argentina and Uruguay in providing equal rights to couples.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice have issued a ruling allowing any couple in Brazil to seek a marriage without a judges consent. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

Brazil’s National Council of Justice, a panel which oversees the legal system and headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court announced a resolution on May 14, 2013, stating that notary publics who preform marriage ceremonies cannot refuse to preform same-sex ceremonies. Having been debating this issue after a 2011 Supreme Court ruling they announced that there was no reason for the government to wait for congress to pick up the slack and pass a law extending gay couples rights they already technically and legally have. After this ruling, if a notary public officer rejects the signing of a gay marriage, he could face sanctions. Same-sex civil unions have already been authorized in the country, and this would allow same-sex unions to be converted into marriages, allowing them the same protections that already benefit heterosexual marriages in the predominantly Roman-Catholic nation. From now on, couples in all 27 states will no longer need to petition a judge in order to receive a marriage license, and that includes Brazil’s estimated 60,000 gay couples.

The 2011 ruling recognized stable homosexual unions and that the Brazilian constitution granted them the rights. Chief Justice Barbosa, chief justice of the Supreme Court called it binding, and announced that the lower courts should follow it. However a strong religious faction in congress opposes same-sex marriage and has yet to approve any laws which would support same-sex marriage reform and regulations. Citing judicial activism, Marco Feliciano of the Social Christian Party stated “it’s something most Brazilians do not want” as well that the decisions was “unconstitutional.” Congressman Feliciano, an outspoken opponent of gay rights has called AIDS a “gay cancer.” A week later on May 22, the conservative party appealed the council’s decision to the Supreme Court.

Perhaps bowing down the Brazilian resolution. 4 days later French President Francois Hollande signed into law a bill authorizing marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

For more information please see:

On Top Magazine – Conservative Leader In Brazil Challenge De Facto Gay Marriage Ruling – 22 May 2013

Telegraph – Brazil Judicial Decision Paves The Way For Same-Sex Marriage – 15 May 2013

New York Times – Brazilian Court Council Removes A Barrier To Same-Sex Marriage – 14 May 2013

BBC – Brazil Judicial Decision Paves Way For Gay Marriage – 14 May 2013

Standard Digital – Brazil Paves Way For Gay Marriage – 10 May 2013

Syrian Judges to Hold Unity Conference in Turkey

Defected Members of the Judiciary Will Plan Comprehensive Law Code For Liberated Areas

Istanbul, Turkey – On May 1 and 2, 2013, the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies (SCPSS) hosted the Syrian Expert House, a gathering of Syrian academics, human rights activists, members of the political opposition, and professionals in Istanbul, Turkey to conduct a workshop on Constitutional Reform and Rule of Law in Syria. After two days of intense discussions, the Syrian Expert House concluded its meeting with specific collective recommendations for establishing rule of law and achieving constitutional legitimacy in the post-Assad interim period.

Workshop participants discussed a number pressing concerns regarding judicial affairs in Syria, most notably the status of the judiciary in the liberated areas and the challenges these courts face. Additionally, participants discussed how to achieve constitutional legitimacy after the fall of the Assad regime and unanimously decided that a return to the Constitution of 1950, without modification, would be the ideal solution for achieving this legitimacy. The 1950 Constitution is the only constitution in Syrian history that was drafted and approved by a Constitutional Assembly. It also has received popular support, despite the presence of some controversial articles regarding minorities and freedom of expression. However, in the absence of an entity with the legal authority to amend the constitution, the Syrian Expert House recommended that the 1950 constitution be accepted wholesale initially, with the expectation that amendments to the document would be the first order of business of a future Constitutional Assembly.

The participants recommended that the transitional interim government, formed immediately after the fall of the regime, set a date for popular elections to choose members of the Constitutional Assembly, which, in addition to amending the 1950 constitution, will be in charge of the formulation of a new Syrian constitution. The Syrian Expert House also identified steps for ensuring the independence of the judiciary through mechanisms and precise standards to protect the judiciary from executive interference in its decisions and in its structure. The “Judicial Authority Law,” which grants excessive power to the Syrian judiciary, was also discussed and it was unanimously agreed that this portion of the Syrian law code is not conducive to an independent and sound legal environment in Syria.

On the second day of the workshop, participants discussed the rule of law and legal protection during the transitional phase. Participants agreed to prepare a general conference for uniting all the defected judges and lawyers currently living in liberated areas or abroad into one national judicial body that would uphold one unified national transitional law code. The participants also formed a preparatory committee for this conference made up of eight members:

Dr. Radwan Ziadeh (Executive Director, Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies)

Judge Marwan Kea’yed (Unified Judicial Council)

Judge Ziad Al-Basha (Independent Judicial Council)

Judge Iman Shahoud (Independent Judicial Council)

Lawyer Mazen Jouma’a (Liberal Lawyers of Aleppo)

Lawyer Haitham al-Maleh (Head of the Judicial Office of the National Coalition)

Lawyer Mohammed Obaid (Legal adviser to the interim government and the National Coalition)

Lawyer Mohammed Sabra (Legal adviser to the interim government and the National Coalition)

Participants also discussed the most important laws that should be repealed or amended in the future transitional phase and at the same time warned judges about the pitfalls of interfering in the legislative process. The participants also discussed the importance of transitional justice in Syria and studied the mechanisms established by the National Preparatory Committee for Transitional Justice last month.

The president in charge of the formation of the interim government, Mr. Ghassan Hitto, visited the members of the workshop and received a briefing on their work and the challenges and difficulties faced by the judiciary. Mr. Hitto promised that the independence of the judiciary would be a priority of his government. He also urged the participants to continue to make efforts in order to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people.

This workshop was the first of five workshops organized by the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies on behalf of the Syrian Expert House. Thematic topics of the five workshops included: constitutional and legal reform, political and administrative reform, electoral reform, security sector reform, and economic reform. The results of these workshops will be submitted in a general conference held by the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies and the Syrian Expert House in July.

Members of the Syrian Expert House first met in October 2012  in Istanbul, Turkey at a conference widely regarded as the most inclusive gathering of the Syrian opposition to date. The Syrian Expert House was established by the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies for producing thoroughly Syrian research outputs on the post-Assad political transition process in Syria. The Syrian Expert House will lay the necessary groundwork for promoting considered and deliberate reforms following the end of the Syrian conflict.

Prepared by the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies

Interpol Rejects Russia’s Politically Motivated Warrant and Rules in Favour of William Browder

Press Release

24 May 2013 – Interpol has rejected Russia’s attempt to misuse Interpol systems against William Browder, the leader of the worldwide campaign for justice for Sergei Magnitsky, by deleting its request from the Interpol’s channels.

“The decision by Interpol to delete the Russian “all points bulletin” for William Browder from the Interpol system is a clear sign that a deeply corrupt regime will not be allowed to freely persecute whistle-blowers who have exposed it. We hope that one day those responsible for Sergei Magnisky’s torture and murder will be brought to justice, with help from Interpol,” said a Hermitage Capital representative.

Interpol’s General Secretariat has now deleted the request from the Russian authorities seeking to “locate” Mr Browder in order to detain him on a Russian arrest warrant.

In its decision, Interpol’s General Secretariat has followed the recommendation from Interpol’s Commission for the Control of Files, who has found the Russian request to have a “predominant political character.” Interpol’s Commission for the Control of Files is responsible for the observance by Interpol and its entities of Interpol’s Constitution and data processing rules. Under Article 3 of the Interpol’s Constitution, any improper use of Interpol systems for political purposes is strictly prohibited.

The decision by the Interpol’s Commission for the Control of Files was issued during its 86th session held in Lyon on 23-24 May 2013.

On Monday, 27 May 2013, Mr Browder will continue his campaign for Magnitsky sanctions in Europe at the ‘Time for European Magnitsky Law’ event organised in Berlin within framework of the Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy & Human Rights 2013 (, on the invitation of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and member of the European Parliament, Kristiina Ojuland. The Magnitsky campaign calls for visa sanctions and asset freezes on Russian officials involved in the false arrest, torture and killing of Sergei Magnitsky, and the $230 million corruption he had exposed. The law imposing such sanctions has already been adopted in the United States, and 16 Russian officials have been sanctioned by the U.S. Government.

For further information, please see:

Law and Order in Russia

U.S. Government Admits Drone Strikes Killed Four Citizens

By Mark O’Brien
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, United States — The Justice Department acknowledged for the first time this week that U.S. drone strikes have killed four American citizens in the Middle East since 2009.

In a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder (above) to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy on Wednesday, the Obama Administration acknowledged for the first time that U.S. drone strikes have killed four American citizens since 2009. (Photo Courtesy of USA Today)

The admission came Wednesday, the day before President Obama a new approach to the nation’s drone policy, in a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Based on generations-old legal principles and Supreme Court decisions handed down from WWII, as well as during the current conflict, it is clear and logical the United States Citizenship alone does not make such citizens immune from being targeted,” Holder wrote.

During counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda and other forces, the United States targeted and killed one American citizen—Anwar al-Awlaki—and acknowledged the deaths of three others as a result of U.S. drone attacks.  Those citizens—Samir Khan, an al-Qaeda propagandist; Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the son of Anwar al-Awlaki; and, Jude Kenan Mohammed—were killed around the same time but “were not specifically targeted.”

The letter described the older al-Awlaki as the planner of the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009, and it said he plaid a key role in a failed attempt to bomb cargo planes headed for the United States in 2010.

The letter was a response directed by President Obama to congressional inquiries into the “administration[‘s] use of lethal force against U.S. citizens.”  The White House said it “informed the relevant congressional oversight committees that it had approved the use of lethal force against al-Awlaki in February 2010—well over a year before the operation in question.”

On Thursday, President Obama announced a new approach to drone strikes in the future, tightening the rules of who can be targeted.

“In the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al-Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States,” Obama said at the National Defense University in Washington.

“Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states,” he said.  “This war, like all wars, must end.  That’s what history advises.  That’s what our democracy demands.”

The Administration said, moving forward, the U.S. military would be the lead authority for drone strikes instead of the Central Intelligence Agency.

For further information, please see:

Bloomberg Businessweek — Obama Sees Sunset on Sept. 11 War Powers in Drone Limits — 24 May 2013

CBS News — Attorney General Holder: Drones Killed 4 Americans Since 2009 — 22 May 2013

USA Today — Holder Says Four U.S. Citizens Killed in Drone Strikes — 22 May 2013

Voice of America — US Officially Acknowledges Drone Strike Killings — 22 May 2013

Police Shooting in Immigrant Neighborhood Sparks Sweden’s Worse Riots

By Madeline Schiesser
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Stockholm is burning, sparked by an incident of alleged police brutality twelve days ago.  According to the brother-in-law of the deceased 69 year-old male victim, the man returned home when he was accosted by a gang of youths, who he threatened with knife.  Later when police knocked on his apartment door, he mistook them for the gang and did not answer, prompting the police to break down the door.  The police in turn thought the woman inside the apartment, the man’s wife, was in danger, and shot the man.  Other reports indicate the man was still wielding the knife, and the police acted in self-defense.  The man, a resident of the primarily immigrant-dominated Husby neighborhood, had emigrated to Sweden from Portugal 30 years ago and married his Finnish wife.

(Photo Courtesy of The Local)

Since then, beginning Sunday evening five days ago, with the cry of “police brutality” the worst civil unrest in Sweden in modern times has erupted throughout the suburbs of Stockholm.  Rioters have particularly taken to burning cars as a sign of their contempt for the police, and more than 300 cars have met a toasty end.  A police station at one point was even set on fire, but the flames were quickly contained.  On one night, more than 200 people threw rocks at police.  On another night, firemen were called in to put out over 90 different blazes throughout the city.  Furthermore, shop windows have been smashed, and several police officers have been injured.

Local media also reported, however, that police officers used racist slurs, like “monkey” and “pig” while controlling the unrest.  Authorities say the claim is under investigation, although no formal reports of such an allegation have been filed.

Reza Al Bazi, 14, and his friend Sebastian Horniak, 15, said they witnessed the violence; Horniak said he saw police firing warning shots in the air and calling a woman a “monkey.”  “I got upset yesterday because I saw police attack innocent people, they beat a woman with a baton,” he said.

A small number of arrests were made each night, although generally those arrested were not from the area in which the arrests took place, leading to an increased belief that the rioters are in fact a smaller group that travel about to cause trouble.

Husby resident Marianne Farede, 26, spoke out angrily against the rioters: “It’s idiotic. They’re ruining things for the people that live here. We’re the ones that suffer. It’s our cars that are getting burned, it’s our money.  They’re just waiting for the smallest reason to take their frustration out on the police. I don’t know why they think police are their enemies? They aren’t their enemies. They’re doing their best to protect us.”

Although the death of the unnamed resident of Husby has been cited as the igniting force behind the riots, they represent a greater social tension.  Over the last century, Sweden has seen a swell in immigration, especially since WWII, and although its economy has done relatively well in light of the global financial crisis, Sweden has also seen the fastest growing rate of inequality of any Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country over the past 25 years.

Although many immigrants (15% Swedish population) come to Sweden due to its generous refugee policy, they struggle to learn the language and find employment despite numerous government programs.  For example, in Husby, where 80% of the 12,000 residents are immigrants, the overall unemployment rate was 8.8% in 2012, as compared to 3.3% in Stockholm as a whole.  Furthermore, a total of 12% in Husby received social benefits last year, compared to only 3.6% on average in Stockholm.

Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag emphasized that the actions of the rioters are not representative of the majority of immigrant youth.  “I’ve seen in the international media that this is a riot between young people in some parts of Stockholm and the society, but this is not true. It’s a small proportion. The majority of young people in Tensta, Husby, Rinkeby, they go to schools and they want to have opportunities in Sweden, and it’s important to tell that story,” he said.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt further stressed the need to end the violence and return control of the besieged neighborhoods to their residents.  “This is not OK. We will not give in to violence.  We must all help out to regain calm. The residents of Husby need to get their neighborhood back,” he said.

For further information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Rioters Continue to Battle Police in Sweden – 24 May 2013

Independent – Stockholm Burning: Riots Grip Surburbs as Violent Trouble Spreads – 23 May 2013

The Local – Minister: Stockholm Riots ‘Not Youth Versus Society’ – 23 May 2013

The Local – Stockholm Riots Spread South on Fourth Night – 23 May 2013

Al Jazeera – Sweden Riots Continue after Police Shooting – 22 May 2013

The Local – Stockholm Riots: a View from the Street in Husby – 22 May 2013

Norway Recommends Bringing Magnitsky Sanctions to the UN Security Council

Press Release

23 May 2013 – Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Espen Barth Eide has recommended bringing the issue of Magnitsky sanctions to the UN Security Council. Responding to a group of Norwegian parliamentarians, Minister Eide pointed out that the decisions of the UN Council are binding on all UN member states and would be a proper forum to consider the issue of sanctions and asset freezes in relation to Russian officials in the Magnitsky case, as opposed to an individual action by Norway.

In his letter to a group of Norwegian lawmakers (available at:, Foreign Affairs Minister Eide said that Magnitsky case has now become symbolic of the negative trend in human rights in Russia, and “raises the question of the Russian legal system independence.”

I also agree that Magnitsky case has become of symbolic significance as an expression of the negative trend we are now seeing of an increased pressure on human rights, civil society and political opposition in Russia,” said Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister.

Minister Eide shared the concern expressed by Norwegian members of parliament over the posthumous trial of Sergei Magnitsky carried out by Russian authorities in spite of it being three years after his death in police custody.

I share their [Norwegian members of parliament] concern about how Russian authorities have handled the supervision of Sergei Magnitsky death in custody. The posthumous trial of Magnitsky is just as disturbing,” said Minister Eide.

Responding to the matter of introducing visa sanctions and asset freezes on Russian officials in the Magnitsky case in Norway, Minister Eide suggested that the best forum to consider it would be the UN Security Council, rather than a unilateral action by Norway, who is not an EU member.

“When it comes to the issue of sanctions and the freezing of funds, I underline that the basis for the Norwegian sanctions policy is that sanctions should be based on binding decisions of the UN Security Council, such decisions are also legally binding for all UN member states. Norway has no tradition of unilateral action against individual countries or persons, and in our opinion it is not necessarily legitimate and have the legal effect to be effective,” said Minister Eide.

Minister Eide stressed that Norway will continue to use its membership in international organizations, such as the OSCE and the Council of Europe, to individually and jointly with other like-minded people raise the human rights agenda in Russia, including through the strengthening of the monitoring mechanism at the Council of Europe, of which Russia is a member.

For further information, please see:

Law and Order in Russia

Major Event in Germany Promoting European Magnitsky Sanctions Cancelled Because German Government Refuses to Grant Safe Passage to William Browder from Politically Motivated Russian Arrest Warrant

Press Release

22 May 2013 – German authorities have refused to grant William Browder, the leader of the global campaign for justice for Sergei Magnitsky, safe passage to Germany from a politically motivated Russian arrest warrant, resulting in the cancellation of the European Magnitsky Law event, scheduled in Berlin on 27 May 2013.

In the latest development concerning the Magnitsky sanctions, the German government has informed the event organisers that Germany is not able to guarantee the safe passage of Mr Browder to Berlin, in light of the recent actions from the Russian government who are seeking assistance from police worldwide to “locate” Mr Browder in retaliation for his campaigning for sanctions on Russian officials.

William Browder was a keynote speaker at the ‘Time for European Magnitsky Law’ event, on the invitation of European Parliament deputy Kristiina Ojuland, and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy.  The event was to be held in Germany next week within the framework of the Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy & Human Rights 2013 (, which has freedom of expression on the agenda.

“It is remarkable that the German authorities, who have refused calls to sanction Russian officials responsible for torturing and killing 37-year old Sergei Magnitsky, are now effectively sanctioning the person fighting for justice for Mr Magnitsky. By doing so, the German authorities are, for all intents and purposes, becoming an accessory to the Russian cover-up of Magnitsky’s killers in Europe,” said a Hermitage Capital representative.

The actions of the German authorities are in contrast to actions from the UK, Belgian and Norwegian governments, who undertook not to act on political and abusive requests from the Russian government in relation to Mr Browder.

For further information, please see:

Law and Order in Russia

War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Vol. 8, Issue 3 – 6 May 2013


Central African Republic & Uganda



Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)




Special Court for Sierra Leone


Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber


International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia


Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia


Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma


United States 

South & Central America







Gender-Based Violence


UN Reports

Successive Car Bombs in Russia Kills Eight and Wounds Several Others

By Alexandra Sandacz
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MOSCOW, Russia – On Monday, two car bombs, which occurred in Russia’s North Caucasus region, killed eight people and left 20 injured. Officials believe the incident was aimed towards law enforcement officers because the explosion occurred outside a local marshal’s building.

Two successive car bombs kill eight and leaves 20 wounded. (Photo Courtesy of CNN).

Although security officials found one bomb and were in the process of defusing the first car explosive, another bomb in a separate vehicle was detonated soon thereafter.

A spokesman for Daghestan’s Interior Ministry, Vyacheslav Gasanov, stated that no one was hurt after the first explosion occurred outside the headquarters of the court’s bailiffs’ directorate. However, several individuals were killed after the second blast ensued.

Investigators stated that both explosions were set off by remote control.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Islamist insurgents launch near daily attacks on police and federal officials in the North Caucasus region.

Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim region between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, is one of the most violent province in the North Caucasus area. Insurgents claim they are battling to create an Islamic state out of southern Russia. As a result tens of thousands of people have been killed.

Car bombs, suicide bombings, and firefights are common in Dagestan. In the past, rebels sought to increase casualties by setting off a blast to attract law enforcement officers and then detonate a second bomb.

In 1999, Putin launched the second war in Chechnya when he was acting as prime minister. In addition, he likes to take credit for preventing the region from splitting from Russia.

Simultaneously, on Monday, Russian militants and security forces announced that they prevented a terror attack planned for Moscow.

The National Anti-Terror Committee expressed that security forces killed two militants and detained another. All three were described as Russian citizens trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The operation took place in the Orekhovo-Zuevo region of the Moscow suburbs.

A spokesman stated, “They were planning a terror attack in Moscow.” No civilians were injured. However, one Federal Security Service officer was wounded.

For further information, please see:

Aljazeera – Car Bombings Hit Russia’s Dagestan – 20 May 2013

CNN – 8 Dead, 20 Hurt in Dagestan Bombing, Security Officials Say – 20 May 2013

NBC News – Car Bombs Kill At Least Two in Russia’s Dagestan – 20 May 2013

RFE/RL – Deaths Reported in Dagestan Bombing – 20 May 2013

Comprehensive Report Regarding the use of Chemical Weapons by the Syrian Regime

 Report prepared by Syrian Network for Human Rights 14 May 2013
The 1925 agreement banning the use of chemical and biological weapons in war prohibits the killing of persons by asphyxiating gases,  other poisonous gases and bacterial methods of warfare.
The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)
Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction
(Signed at London, Moscow and Washington on 10 April 1972.
Entered into force on 26 March 1975)
Chemical Weapons Convention
Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction
 ( Signed at Paris and New York on January 13,1993 , Effective, April 29,1997 )
Syrian Network for Human Rights’ team conducted separate investigations for each case of chemical weapons use by Syrian Armed Forces inside Syrian territories.
The team encountered great difficulties, especially with regards to the Syrian government’s intervention in preventing the Syrian Network for Human Rights to work freely on the Syrian’s territory.  The team members could not participate in field visits and conduct analyses.
Therefore, Syrian Network for Human Rights’ Team, who exists in all of the Syrian territories, documented and recorded information and testimonies obtained from survivors, eyewitnesses, and physicians who examined injuries, to finally document the following appendixes and attachments.
Syrian government’s Armed Forces launched 13 attacks and targeted 5 Governorates, using varying poisonous gases in some of these attacks, and chemical weapons in others.  That is what we could confirm in these current circumstances through testimonies of residents and physicians in the field hospital.  Syrian network for human rights’ team prepared detailed reports about those terrify attacks that led to 57 victims, and 504 injuries.
The targeted governorates can be summarized as follows :
Homs: Two chemical weapons attack
First attack:
The first attack was on December 23, 2012, targeted Bayada and Deir Ba’lbeh in Homs.  It resulted in 6 deaths and at least 60 injuries, including 10 left in critical condition, 4  paralyzed, and 3 blinded.
Second attack:
The second attack was on December 25, 2012, it targeted Zafarana village in northern Homs.  It resulted in at least 35 suffocations, all residents, Syrian Network for Human Rights didn’t document any deaths.
Aleppo: Three chemical weapons attack
First attack:
The first attack was on March 19, 2013, in Khan Alasa’l in Aleppo’s western countryside.
Syrian Government’s Armed Forces warplanes deployed missiles with chemical warheads on Khan Alasal, resulting in 22 deaths, and 250 injuries.
Second attack:
The second attack was on Saturday April 13, 2013, in the Sheikh Maksoud neighborhood in Aleppo
According to a Syrian Network for Human Rights member in Aleppo: A helicopter belonging to the Syrian Government’s Air Force (owned by the Syrian Government only) dropped two poisonous gas bombs on Sheikh Maksoud – North of Aleppo (Kurdish majority). the bombs are comprised of metal cans, fairly like conservers, with plastic cans inside that contain toxic materials which turns into gases.  It also has safety valves.
These bombs led to 5 deaths, including two infants, and more than 12 injuries caused by the inhalation of poisonous gas, transferred to Afrin for treatment.
Third attack:
Third attack was in Saturday April 27, Kueres military airport in Aleppo
Syrian Government’s Armed Forces dropped artillery shells on Free Syrian Army centers, immediately tuned into gases when exploded .
It led to 10 dead of FSA , 15 injuries of  poisoning , suffocation , and allergic symptoms cause of inhaling the poisonous gas , transferred   to FSA medical points around the airport
Third: Damascus countryside 5 chemical weapons attacks
First attack:
First attack happened nearly at 11 AM, on Tuesday March 19, 2013, in Al-Otaiba town.
It led to 5 deaths, more than 60 suffocation injuries, women and children were harmed.
The second attack: in Adra
Second attack:
Second attack happened nearly at 9 PM on Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Adra Town.
It led to two deaths, and more than 40 injuries, all residents.
Third attack:
Third attack happened nearly at 4 AM, on Tuesday April 09, 2013, in Al-Otaiba town.
It led to deaths of a number of livestock owned by residents.  The Syrian Network for Human Rights did not document any death cases among citizens.
Fourth attack:
The fourth attack occurred on Wednesday April 25, 2013 in Darea city.  Shell attacks were focused on the southern area in the city.
Syrian Government’s Armed Forces shelled the city with two surface to surface missiles with chemical warheads ( poisonous gases ), and led to a large number of asphyxiations among citizens, and resulted in the deaths of poultry.
Fifth attack:
Fifth attack occurred on Wednesday April 17, 2013 in Ain Tarma town – Damascus countryside.
Syrian Government’s Armed Forces, after clashes with the FSA, shelled the town with poisonous gas bombs, resulting in the death of one citizen, and 8 injuries ( Free Syrian Army and citizens ).
Forth: Damascus governorate 2 chemical weapons attacks
First attack:
First attack was on Sunday April 7 , 2013, Jobar neighborhood
It targeted the neighborhood with poisonous gas, and led to 7 sever suffocation injuries.
Second attack:
Second attack was on Sunday April 14, 2013, Jobar neighborhood
Targeted the neighborhood with poisonous gas, led to 1 Syrian’s death and more than 30 injuries
Fifth: Idlib governorate 1 chemical weapon attack
On Monday April 29, 2013, in Saraqeb
According to residents’ testimonies: A helicopter belonging to the Syrian Government’s Air Force (and is owned by the Syrian Government only) dropped bags that dispersed dust particles, causing 14 suffocation injuries.  The injured were transferred to Saraqeb hospital.
Attacks’ Details according to Eyewitnesses and Physician in field hospitals
Homs Governorate:
Sunday, December 23, 2012
That morning, the Syrian Government’s Armed Forces shelled the area of Al-Bayada, Deir Ba’lbeh and Al-Steen Street, shelling continued for hours, then Syrian Government’s Armed Forces retreated. This was followed by an explosion that emitted plumes of white smoke at around seven in the evening in the same day.
They were later identified as poisonous gases, and led to more than 50 injuries, which were transferred to the hospital.  According to testimonies of field hospital physicians and eyewitnesses, the bomson  resulted in cases of delirium, nerveconvulsions, loss of consciousness, tingling or numbness in all parts of the body, loss of taste, extreme pain in the eyes of victims, myosis, and severe constriction in the pupils.  Suffocated victims needed extended treatments to the trachea, treatment by oxygen, in addition to gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting which resulted in acute failure of the respiratory system, and Haemoptysis similar to the symptoms of pneumonia inhalation, which was the cause of deaths of the casualties.
Attack led to 7 residents’ deaths, and at least 60 injuries, including 10 left in critical condition, 4 paralyzed, and 3 blinded.
Victims who were documented through communication with physicians and their families:
A media activist in Free Syrian Army who was an eyewitness in Homs said:
“We heard a voice like gas bomb, no smell or color, suddenly people fell down, everyone who was near the bomb were affected the most, I was a little bit further but when I came closer to help the injured, I received the same symptoms: couldn’t breathe, eye penumbra, and my nerves were relaxed.  I stayed in this situation for 5 days, and received dozens of injuries.
Appendixes and attachments:
Victims who were documented through communication with physicians and their families:
1- Alaa As’aad Hassan – (El Chircassy) – Al-Bayada – 12/23/2012 – cause: suffocation resulting from gases that were launched
2- SaberMando– Al-Bayada-23-12-2012-cause: suffocation resulting from gases that were launched
3- Ehab Asi – Al-Bayada -23-12-2012 – cause: suffocation resulting from gases that were launched
4- Bassam Iboros – 25 years – Deir Ba’laba – the Arab Spring – 12/23/2012 – cause: suffocation resulting from gases that were launched.
5- Walid Mohammed Hamadi – Al-Khalidiya – 12/23/2012 – cause: suffocation resulting from gases that were launched.
6- StoffIbrahim Hammadi – Al-Khaldia – 12/23/2012 – cause: suffocation resulting from gases that were launched.

Videos and pictures of injured people

Video showing a field hospital which includes a lot of cases of suffocation and testimony of  those injured in the attack.
Field hospital which was filled with injured
The following is a report was sent by physicians who were in the field hospital and treated the injuries:
photography report of one of Homs physicians:
The second attack in Homs:in Al-Zafranah
On Tuesday 12/25/2012
Syrian Government’s Armed Forces again used poisonous gases of the same kind, in Al-Zafranah village – north Homs.  These gases led to more than 20 suffocations, but we did not document any deaths.
Appendixes and attachments:
Videos depicting the fall of poison gas on the region


Aleppo Governorate:
First attack in Khan Al-Asal
The reality of  what happened in Khan Al-Asal, testimony of eyewitnessesvictims’ families and activists.
Date of attack: 03/19/2013
Documented by The Syrian Network for Human Rights

Khan Al’asalislocatedinthe western countrysideofAleppo governorate , about5kilometersfromAleppo,andmost of its residentsloyal tothe Assad regime.  western part ofthe regionwasliberalizedon25/02/2013, it includes thepoliceacademy, and some farms, but other parts has still beenunderthecontroloftheAssad regime.
The region was bombed as said at 3:45 am by military air forces, warplanes dropped missiles which exploded and fired fragments like sand to long distances.  The missile fell in the southern region of Khan Al’asal.
Note the following:
First: military air force is commanded only by Syrian government’s Armed Forces.
Second: the bomsong targeted areas loyal to Syrian regime either by mistake, or deliberately and intentionally, and all victims were people loyal to the Syrian regime. Actually, this is why Syrian regime insist that the limits of United Nations Investigation Commission will only include the attack that targeted Khan Al’asal.
The report:
Location on the map:
Testimony of Dr. Nael Hariri, he has treated the injuries in Aleppo University Hospital:
He was the eyewitness in Aleppo University Hospital, when the injured were transported to the hospital, he is a physician working in the hospital, his name is Nael Hariri, and he is still alive:
“After the bomson g which target Khan All’Asal,  the hospitals in the city began to receive hundreds of cases of injuries.  25 killed were counted at Al-Ragaa hospital, Al-Razi hospital, Al-Shahbaa hospital, Syrian Specialist hospital, and Aleppo university hospital.  They all died and had symptoms of bronchospasm, suffocation, myosis, and nausea and vomiting sometimes without any malformed in an external dead body.  While hundreds of injured people (about 200 – 250 cases) were treated in public and private ambulance rooms, they had symptoms of allergic and metabolic similar to symptoms of phosphorus poisoning.  This creates strong medical doubts outweighing the use of chemical Sarin gas since its symptoms include light allergic reactions and even quick death within a few seconds.  This depends on the amount of gas that the body has been directly exposed to.”
The communication with the witness can be done through his account on Facebook
Testimony of female eyewitness, she could communicate with some nurses in Aleppo University Hospital.  Her name is Hala Ngari, and she is still alive:

“The injuries of Khan Al’asal’s residents who suffered from asphyxiation were transported to Aleppo University Hospital, but media correspondents were prevented from entering the hospital,while police, and security forces filled the hospital.  The only correspondent there was Shadi Helw (the correspondent of the Syrian satellite channel), any other media correspondents that want to enter will be subjected to full body searches, and they cannot take photos.”
The cases of suffocation filled the hospital.  Additionally, I would like to say that there are victims in  Khan Al-Asal who have not been transported to the hospital yet, patients die immediately, or died on the stretcher, and the injured requiring oxygen await death, and so do others with lighter symptoms.
The significantly important information to those who claim that this gas is not a chemical gas, is the nurses and physicians suffered from neurological disorders because of the smell of the patients’ clothes, furthermore, one of them suffered from suffocation, so patients undressed patient’s clothes that affected the medical staff.”
The communication with the witness can be done through her Facebook account
Testimony of one of the nurses from Al-Ragaa hospital, during the treatment of the injured, but she refused to disclose her identity  out of fear of being tracked by security forces:
“Almost 40 injured arrived at the hospital, all of them suffered from bronchospasm and myosis, 10 of them died.  Furthermore, two nurses and a doctor suffered from syncope and nervous convulsions.
It is believed that the material used is organic phosphor because it transfers by touch and inhalation.”
Testimony of resident’s eyewitness, his name is Ahmed Subh, and he is still alive:
“Khan Al-Asal has been shelled for a long time, a part of it was liberalized and all people in the occupied parts are Shabiha and loyal to Asaad regime. The warplane shelled the southern neighbourhood. Difficulty, we could confirm that the bombs was carried by chemical materials, and resulted in cases of suffocation, through our communication with some relatives residing in the southern neighbourhood and by spying by wireless its frequency the same of Army’s chanel . Due to they are loyal to Alasaad regime, they transported to governmental hospitals”.
You can communicate with the witness through his account on Skype :
Testimony of resident’s Eyewitness, he is a media activist, his name is Abu Abdullah al-Halabi, and he is still alive: he told us about the place that was shelled
“I’m in Khan Al-Asal, and every two days I participate with the youth (free army) in battlefield. Khan Al-Asal consist of four neighbourhoods, most of its residents are  Alawites, supportive to Alasaad regime and Shabiha, all of them are armed. All the vicitms  was Shabiha, and we are the residents and we know them.”
You can communicate with the witness through his account on Skype :
Syrian Network for Human Rights documented the killing of 22 Syrians from the region’s residences after they suffered from suffocation.  The victims include five children, seven women and a doctor who was overseeing the treatment of patients in the hospital.  Additionally, we documented nearly 250 injuries of symptoms of metabolic syndrome, hepatic failure, nervousconvulsions, loss of consciousness, haw in the ability of taking, and myosis.  All these symptoms are similar to the symptoms of  organic phosphorus poisoning.
Victims’ Names:
1)     Ms. Znob daughter of Taha Za’rour and Khayria.
2)     Ammar son Mahmoud Za’rour and Zaina.
3)     Ahmed son Ali Za’rour and Marashaa.
4)     Ms. Fatima daughter Ali Za’rour, and Marashaa.
5)     Zaror son Ali Za’rour and tmoo.
6)      Hassan Son    Za’rour Ali Za’rour and Amon.
7)     8) two children, they are the sons of: Ali son    Ahmed Ali Za’rour.
9)     Ms. Amon Daughter of Ismail Amuri and Maryam Rajab.
10)Ahmed Son of  Omar Amuri and Helmeyet.
11)Ahmed Son of  Abdu Amuri and Amon.
12) Mrs. Samiha Daughter of Fares Abdul Qadir and Fatoom.
13)Mohamed Son of Mahmoud Saleh and Ayouche.
14)Abdo Son of Hassan Qaddah and Amina.
15)Ms. Zeinab girl Zakaria Abdullah Ali and Ayouche.
16)Ms. Buthaina Daughter of  Zakaria Abdul Ali and Ayouche.
17)Ms. Zahra Daughter of  Ali Abdullah Za’rour and Zeinab.
18) Victim Abdel Hadi Son of Ali Abdullah Za’rour rn and Zeinab.
19)– 21) Three children, they are the sons: Ahmed Abdo Amuri and Fatima
22)Unknown physician– during his treating of patients in Aleppo university hospital.
Appendixes and attachments:
Testimonies of some residents
Testimony of Battalion Commander in free army
Second Attack:
Sheikh Maksoud neighborhood
The second attack was on Saturday April 13, 2013 , in Sheikh Maksoud neighborhood in Aleppo
According to Syrian Network for Human Rights member in Aleppo: Helicopter belonging to Syrian Government’s Air Force (who is owned only by the Syrian Government) dropped two poison gas bombs on Sheikh Maksoud – North of Aleppo (Kurdish majority).  The bombs are metal cans fairly like conservers with plastic cans inside containing toxic materials which turn into gases.  It also has safety valves.
These bombs resulted in 5 deaths, including two infants, and more than 12 injuries due to the inhalation of poisonous gas, patients transferred to Afrin for treatment.
Medical source inside Afrin hospital told us that those who were exposed to the gas showed signs of hallucinations, vomiting, heavy runny nose and burning eyes. Their conditions deteriorated after they got into the hospital in three hours they had other symptoms such as myosis, nerve irritation and throat irritation, breath shortness, loose neurological reflexes which worsened to the loss of consciousness and frothing from the mouth.
Also, the health of some paramedics also deteriorated
Physicians inside Afrin Hospital told us that they didn’t conduct any Lab tests to know what material caused this.  The only tests were conducted in two labs in Syria, one in Aleppo and the other in Damascus, and both belong to Syrian criminal Security.
Many hospitals lack the necessary drugs and agents to heal such injuries, and doctors don’t have suitable suits or protective masks.
Another medical source in a field hospital in Shiekh Maksoud told us that one of those who inhaled the poisonous gases lost his vision immediately.
Name of the victims as we could only document by communicating with their families and friends :
1-     Ms.Ghadir Alnadaf
2-     Child Abo Bakr Abdullah – 2 years –
3-     Chidl Younes Abdullah – 4 months –
4-     Ms. Ghernas Kubani
5-     Ms Ghalia ( unknown surname )
Names of the families who were exposed to the poisonous gas
1-     Ms. Reem Younes
2-     Moneer Younes
3-     Abdullah Younes
4-     Yaser Younes
5-     Jasem Alali
6-     Mahmod Bakri
7-     Alaa Bakri
8-     Mostafa Horo
9-     Rojhalat
10-   Hafal Ibrahim
11-    Rashad Abdo
12-   Ismael Mamo
Appendixes and attachments:
Testimony of physician in Afrin Hospital :
Testimony of Sheikh Maksod’s resident about poisonous shelling
Video shows injuries in the hospital
Photos of the incident
Third attack:
Kueres military airport in Aleppo
Third attack was on Saturday April 27, Kueres military airport 16 Km far from Aleppo in Aleppo countryside ( Dier Hafer airport )
Syrian Government’s Armed Forces dropped artillery shells on Free Syrian Army centers, immediately turned into gas when they exploded.
It led to 10 dead from the FSA, 15 injuries resulting from poisoning, suffocation, and allergic symptoms which included heavy runny nose, burning eyes and hallucination due to inhaling the poisonous gas.  Patients were transferred to FSA medical points around the airport.
Map of the airport :
According to an eyewitness, Yousef Satouf, a media activist and resident in that area who is still alive:
During clashes there is shelling, Saturday almost at 1.00 PM artillery shells hit the Free Syrian Army centers, the shell turned into gas immediately when it exploded, some suffocated to death when they inhaled the gas and others were transferred to a field hospital near the airport. Injuries showed signs of poisoning, suffocation, and allergic symptoms which included heavy runny nose, burning eyes, hallucination, and vomiting.
You can communicate with the Eyewitness by Skype:
Victims’ names:
1-     Yousef Ahmad Almahshi
2-     Abdulrazak Almetaeb Alwasmi
3-     Husain Alaid Aljunaid
4-     Abdulwahab Khshilij
5-     Hamza Ali Sarhan
6-     Mohamad Ahmad Mohemed
7-     Idris Mahmod Alahmad Alshahod
8-     Fahd Alkhalaf
9-     Abdulrahman Krot
10-   Mazen Alhamadi ( Abo Adi )
Damascus Countryside: 5 chemical weapons attacks

The first attack: Al Otaiba:
Tuesday 03/19/2013, and at approximately 11 AM, Syrian Government’s Armed Forces bombed Al Otaiba by missiles that carried toxic warheads.  It led to the spread of clouds of gas after the explosion.  Also, it resulted in 5 victims who were known by residents.  They are:
1-    Hosam Kashisha
2-    Husein Kashisha
3-    Yousef Kashisha
4-    Mohamed Abu ElKheir
5-    Kasem Abu ElKheir
In addition to injuring more than (60) Syrians from this region, most of them are women and children.  They suffered from suffocation, respiratory failure, Haemoptysis, severe drop in blood pressure, nervous and peripherals convulsions, myosis .
Appendixes and Attachments:
In the following video, testimony of a doctor who oversaw the treatment of injured with these gases.
In the following video, testimony of one of injured with these gases
Video shows one of injured with these gases
The second attack: Adra
On Sunday 03/24/2013, at almost 9 pm, forces of the Syrian army loyal to Syrian government bombed the Adra region with missiles containing chemical warheads. It led to two deaths, 6 injured with convulsions, and more than 38 injured from the region.
Appendixes and attachments:
Victim Mahmoud Said Karim, who was killed after inhaling toxic gases
Victim Abu Anas Arbash, who was killed after inhaling toxic gases
Testimony of a doctor who are inside the field hospital, explaining the status of each patient, while he moves among them:
The following video shows the field hospital from its inside, and a number of injured:
Third attack: Al-Otaiba:
On Tuesday 09/04/2013, Syrian army loyal to government Syrian targeted Al-Otaiba by three missiles carrying chemical materials.  The Syrian army forces left the place in the last night, and the bomson   g occurred on Tuesday at 4 Am.
Syrian network for the human rights did not document any deaths.  After the departure of  battalions armed rebels left, the withdrawal of the military forces of the Syrian government. The attack resulted in the death of a number of animals.
Appendixes and attachments:
This video shows an armed rebels taking about what happened:
Video shows death of poultry as a result of the bomson   g by chemical materials
Fourth attack: Daria
Mohanad ( resident in Daria ) was poisoned by gases that targeted the city, he told us:
“On Wednesday evening in April 25, 2013, Syrian Government’s Armed Forces shelled the city with two surface to surface missiles, shells targeted the southern area of the city and spread on a large scale not a small, you can say almost 2 Km2 ( Mohanad added )
Missile was almost 500 meter away from us , we thought it is as usual shelling , didn’t care , for us it is usual and frequently, this is the war waged by Syrian regime on us , shortly thereafter symptoms appeared : breath shortness, body spasm, corestenoma , then we transferred to field hospital and get cure by the doctor there , no body killed thanks God , Animal and livestock in the area died , the cow that didn’t die their milk turned to green
Dozens of the residents witnesses the incident even those far away , cause the launching was in the dark night , Electricity in Darea was cut by Syrian Government form more than five months.”
Videos of the attack:
Physician testimony about using poisonous gases by Syrian Government’s Armed Forces during inspection one of the injury
Fifth attack: Ain Tarma town
On Wednesday April 17, 2013, Syrian Government’s Armed Forces shelled Ain Tarma town in Damascus countryside with poisonous gas bombs after clashes between FSA where they could hit a military checkpoint centered at the entrance of the town
Syrian Government’s Armed Forces reply with quick revenge by using poisonous gases , led to 1 victim killed and 8 injuries ( free army and civilians )
Video document the incident
Damascus Governorate : 2 chemical weapons attack on Jobar neighborhood
First attack
On Sunday April 7,2013, Syrian government’s Armed Forces shelled Jobar neighborhood in the capital, Damascus by bombs containing poisonous gases, according testimonies of resident Mr. Abu Adel and activist Abu Wael.  The attack led to more than 7 injuries in residents who suffered from the following symptoms:
Convulsions, respiratory failure, corybantiasm with dermatoxerasia, cases of bloody vomiting, eye pain accompanied with extreme myosis, and chaos in the vision.
Appendixes and attachments
Video was depicted at the field hospital in Jobar documenting the symptoms of the victims:
Second attack:
On Sunday April 14,2013, Syrian Government’s Armed Forces using poisonous gas led to the death of one Syrian and more than 30 injuries, a number of paramedics and nurses injured while doing their duty to cure the others, Symptoms were: hard breathing, rubeosis iridis, chalasia, and passing out.
One victim: Young man Ibrahim Darwish
the following videos shows poisonous gases injuries
Idlib governorate: 1 chemical weapons attack on Saraqeb
On Monday April 29, 2013 , Helicopter belonging to Syrian Government’s Air Force (who is owned by only Syrian Government) dropped bags led to dispersion of dust particles, causing 14 suffocation injuries, transferred to Saraqeb hospital
Photos and Videos of the incidents :
–   One of the rescuers who went to help injuries of chemical shelling on Saraqeb 29-4-2013
–   Helicopter thorwing barrels containing chemical materials in April 29 , 2013
–    Suffocation cause chemical shelling on Saraqeb, April 29, 2013
–     Chemical tank dropped on Saraqeb , April 29 , 2013
–     Injury caused by chemical bombs in Saraqeb , April 29 , 2013
–      Photo for the same Injury caused by chemical bombs in Saraqeb , April 29 , 2013
Legal conclusions:
The Syrian government, by using poisonous gases in different Syrian Territories, violated both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, the use of poisonous weapons in all circumstances of armed conflicts is prohibited.
Armed Rebels
We didn’t document any case of chemical weapons or poisonous gases used by armed rebels
Human right council
1-     Serious attention of the case  of using poisinous gases
2-     Call upon security council and relevant organizations to take upon their responsibility towards this extremly serious matter
3-     Exert pressure on the Syrian government to stop using such type of internationally prophited weapons
4-     Hold the allies and supporters of the Syrian government: Russia, Iran, China, morally and physically responsible towards excesses of Syrian Regime in this regard
5-     Demand international weapons and institutions concerning mass destruction weapons to monitor closely developments in Syria and alert any potential breaches by Syrian Government
Security Council :
1-     Decision to refer all the criminals and the involved to ICC
2-     Warn the Syrian Government Troops of therepercussionsof using chemical gases on life’s future in Syrian and its impact on stability of civil peace and coexistence of people in the same society .
3-     Serious attention to the case and put it under continously control and research
4-     Decision to enable investigation team to move freely in Syria to make sure of the allegation of the use of this weapons
5-     Demand form country technicly cabable to apply satellite monitoring on chemical weapons and its warehouse in Syria , and to warn if the Syrian Government start any procedusre to use it
Arab League :
1-     Demand Human Right Council and United Nations to give this serious issue the right attention and follow up
2-     Serious attention of this case and give it high priority, and try to take care of  family of poisinous gas victims
3-     Political anddiplomaticpressureonthe Syrian Government Troops’mainallies-Russia, Iran andChina -to prevent Syrian Government to use posinous gases , and prevent them fromcontinuous providingcoverandinternationaland political protectionforallthe crimes committed againstthe Syrian people andhold themmoraland physicalresponsibilityforallthe excesses oftheSyrian Government Troops
4-     Serious attention to the case and put it under continously control and research
5-       Support local councils and families with protective equipments and precautionary means and medical materials to deal with such disaster if it occures again

Al-Zaatari in Jordan Soon to Become World’s Largest Refugee Camp

By Ali Al-Bassam
Impunity Watch Managing Editor, News

AMMAN, Jordan — Al-Zaatari, Jordan, the second largest refugee camp in the world, is set to become the largest by the end of this year.  The camp, already home to 500,000 refugees, receives between 2,000 – 4,000 refugees on days when the violence in Syria is especially dire, and will soon overtake the Dabaab camp near the Somali-Kenyan border as the highest-populated refugee camp in the world.  According to Jordan’s Ministry of Interior, al-Zaatari as a city is the fifth largest population center in Jordan.

Al-Zaatari’s refugee camp is estimated to become the world’s largest refugee camp in the world by the end of this year. (Photo Courtesy of Al Jazeera)

Jordanians, struggling to recover from the country’s recent economic collapse, are weary of the increase of refugees, and have resorted to blaming them for a shortage of water and electricity.  “This is really the first time where we hear people in this country very loudly articulating views against opening our borders to receive more refugees,” said Jordanian Legislator Mustafa Hamarneh.

Jordan, concerned about the long term effects of housing so many refugees, requested the global community to provide immediate aide.  “We need the UN’s assistance, and we need it immediately,” said Jordanian Minister of Interior Hussein Majali in a press conference.  Majali praised the UN’s efforts thus far, but said that more is still needed to be done.  “We could see two million refugees in Jordan by the end of the year,” said Majali.  “The crisis is affecting Jordan on every level, healthcare, economically, education, all our sectors are being stressed.”  Refugee Affairs Coordinator for Jordan’s Ministry of Interior, Saleh al-Kilani, said that the refugee crisis costs the jordanian government 2,500 Jordanian Dinars (approximately $3,500) per refugee per year, and that Jordan has already spent $826 million on the current crisis.

Syrians refugees are also voicing their resentment, as riots and protests now occur regularly within the al-Zaatari camps.  Residents of the camp say that they are tired of the “wretched living conditions,” and that “they are being made to feel like prisoners.”

The al-Zaatari camp itself is comprised of tents and mobile-home caravans.  The caravans create a class-based distinction between refugees who have little, and those who have less.  Refugees turned al-Zaatari into their own community by establishing an unregulated marketplace.  Refugees successfully converted tin stalls into shops and vendors, and created jobs within the camps, where they earn a steady income in teaching in Unicef-run schools, cleaning bathrooms, and pitching tents.

Jordan, a key ally of the U.S., is also concerned about the next state of Syria if the Assad regime falls.  It is weary of what could occur if Syria becomes an extremist state.  Hamarneh believes that no country in the Middle East, including Jordan, would be prepared for that outcome.

For further information, please see:

Al Jazeera — Jordan to Host ‘World’s Largest Refugee Camp’ — 16 May 2013

Catholic Online — As Death and Destruction Rain Down in Syria, Refugees Flee With Lives to Jordan — 16 May 2013

CBS News — Tensions Rise as Syrian Refugees Flood Jordan — 16 May 2013

Jordan Times — Jordan Hosting Largest Number of Registered Syrian Refugees — 16 May 2013

New York Times — Syrian Refugees Struggle at Zaatari Camp — 16 May 2013

International Day Against Homophobia: Eastern European LGBT Communities Face Continued Adversity (Updated)

By Madeline Schiesser
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MOSCOW, Russia – May 17th is International Day Against Homophobia.  LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) communities around the world plan to mark this day with events such as gatherings and rallies.  However, in Eastern European countries in particular, signs of discrimination against LGBT peoples remain prevalent.

Moldovan gay-right’s activist Artiom Zavadovsky stands by a banner with the promise, “Everything will change for the better.” (Photo Courtesy of RFE/RL)

Last week, a man, age 23, in the southern Russian city of Volgograd was tortured and murdered by several of his companions when he admitted to them he was gay over a few beers, according to investigators.  Close friends and family of the victim deny the allegation he was gay.

At least two men, ages 22 and 27, were arrested in connection with the murder, and are belied to have allegedly beat the victim, sodomized him with a beer bottle, smashed in his skull with a stone, and then dumped his naked body.  A third has been questioned.  Activists in Russia say that it is rare for police to specify homophobia as the motive for a crime.

Local laws banning dissemination of “homosexual propaganda” to anyone under 18 have cropped up across the country, and a bill for a national ban on “homosexual propaganda” will receive a second reading in parliament later this month.

Authorities in Moscow rejected requests by the Russian LGBT community to hold a gay pride march later this month to celebrate 20 years since homosexuality was taken off the books as a criminal offense, despite the flexibility of the request to accept several alternative days for the march.  They claimed the venue the activists wanted was booked.

In St. Petersburg, one of the first cities to ban “homosexual propaganda,” authorities accepted an application for a rally to mark International Day Against Homophobia.  Despite the ban, portions of St. Petersburg and other cities, usually green-spaces, were designated, under the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev, as “free-speech zones” where citizens can hold events by simply notifying authorities in advance, without going through the often difficult process of receiving official permission which typically results in denied applications.  Activists took advantage of this procedure in St. Petersburg in order to hold their rally, despite several cries from anti-gay politicians to ban the event.

In Moldova, activists have been met with some success recently in combating intolerance and this week launched their 12th annual weeklong “Rainbow Over The Dniester” festival to coincide with International Day Against Homophobia in the conservative and predominantly Orthodox Christian country.  Festival organizer Anastasia Danilova believes that access to information has greatly helped people become more tolerant.

Despite the increasingly tolerant attitudes towards homosexuality in Moldova, Festival organizers decided to move the venue of a march scheduled for May 19th from downtown Chisinau to another part of the city due to pressure from authorities over concerns of clashes and social tensions.  The Orthodox Church has criticized the march and called for a counterdemonstration the same day.

In Ukraine, the parliament is considering two bills that if passed would infringe on the free-speech rights of the LGBT community.  The bills, similar to Russia’s “homosexual propaganda” laws, define propaganda as any public activity that spreads positive information about homosexuality, such as rallies, parades, demonstrations about LGBT rights, discussions, or special courses.  Violators of the laws could be sentenced to several years in prison.

Meanwhile, legislators have postponed discussion on a bill to prevent discrimination  against sexual minorities after about 300 protesters gathered in front of parliament May 14, carrying signs with slogans such as, “We are the majority, and we are against homosexuals!” and, “No to Homosexuals, Yes to Family, Save Ukraine!”  Presently, sexual orientation and gender identity are not prohibited grounds for discrimination.

A report released by the E.U.’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) on Friday, based on a survey of 93,000 LGBT people throughout the E.U. and Croatia, confirmed that East European states had the highest records of  homophobic behavior, while over 1 in 4 respondents reported being attacked or threatened with violence in the last 5 years due to their LGBT identities.  Of those attacked, more than half reported that they did not report the incident to authorities because they believed no action would be taken.

However, despite the findings of the survey, Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, head of FRA’s equality and citizens’ rights department, said there appeared to be a “pattern across Europe whereby things seem to be improving for the younger generation.”

The FRA survey of 93,000 LGBT persons shows high discrimination in Eastern Europe. (Photo Courtesy of BBC News)

For further information, please see:

BBC News – EU LGBT Survey: Poll on Homophobia Sparks Concern – 17 May 2013

Amnesty International – Ukraine: Discrimination and Violent Attacks in Pervasive Climate of Homophobia – 16 May 2013

HRW – Ukraine: Reject Discriminatory LGBT Laws – 16 May 2013

RFE/RL – Moldovan LGBT March Location Changed – 16 May 2013

RFE/RL – St. Petersburg LGBT Activists To Test ‘Propaganda Law’ With Tolerance Event – 16 May 2013

RFE/RL – Moldova’s LGBT Festival Seeks To Build On Recent Successes – 15 May 2013

RFE/RL – Ukraine MPs Postpone Antidiscrimination Debate After Protests – 14 May 2013

BBC News – Arrests Over ‘Anti-Gay’ Murder in Volgograd Russia – 13 May 2013

REF/RL – Russian Officials Say Volgograd Killing Was Homophobic Attack – 12 May 2013