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At least 450 persons were killed in a massacre in Eastern AL Ghouta’s towns by chemical weapons – Wednesday, 21 August 2013
For the Prohibition of the Use of Asphyxiating, Poisoner Other Gases, and Bacteriological Methods of Warfare; 1925 agreement banning the use of chemical and biological weapons in war.
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)
A preliminary report :
Up to this point, we have documented that at least 460 people were killed, including whole families with children and women who were asleep when the attack took place this morning.
At around 3:00 a.m. in the morning, regime’s forces fired rockets with chemical heads on Zamallaka and on Al Zainia area in Ein Turma. Then after around 2 more hours, the regime targeted Mua’dameyet Al Sham with rockets containing chemical warheads, leading to the fall of more casualties as the rockets hit civilian districts.
Jobar district was slightly affected as the gases were driven to it by the wind. A huge number of civilians were consequently subjected to the gases, leading to the martyrdom of tens of them. The numbers continue to increase rapidly as they suffocate to death due to the lack of needed medical supplies required to save them.
Do note that the death toll is very hard to report right now as there are many civilians in critical conditions in several medical points across the towns of Eastern Al Ghouta. At least 15 new victims have been taken to Al Mleha town (videos are show below in this report). Also note that after the victims were taken to other towns that include Arbin, Saqba, Jisreen, among others, for treatment, the regime’s forces began bombarding these towns using artillery and warplanes.
Symptoms of the patients include nausea, hallucinations, suffocation, hard coughing, high blood pressure, seizures, during affection and post-death gargle, etc. Still, no clue of the chemical weapon/toxic gas that was used by the regime’s forces to target the innocent civilians.
Families are fleeing the targeted areas other nearby areas as reported by activists there as they are utterly horrified.
Activists also report the lack of Atropine that is usually used to treat civilians during chemical attacks by the regime; oxygen tanks are not available too. Medics are only using vinegar to the mouth and nose and are washing the bodies of the victims with water.
Doctor speaking from a medical point in Eastern Al Ghouta, also receiving victims of chemical weaponry:
–Photos/videos of martyrs taken from Arbeen:
(21 martyred children and 8 martyred men in video solely)
(father carrying martyred daughter)
(one of the martyred children)
(one of the martyred children)
(2 martyred children)
(one martyred child)
(11 martyred children)
(a martyred child)
(2 martyred children)
(3 martyred children)
(photo of martyred toddler)
(martyred children and men on ground)
(martyred children and men on ground)
(3 martyred children; identification of martyrs beginning)
–Victims of chemical weaponry:
(more than 50 martyrs in one medical point in Arbin)
(tens of martyrs on ground)
(toddler aged months killed by chemical weapons)
(child killed; elderly man crying)
(child affected; blue lips due to suffocation)
(civilians on ground)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPZwlhsglIs (huge number of victims on ground)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfTKTlf4-Dg (children affected; lips blue due to suffocation)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc5kqpYyT2c&feature=c4-overview&list=UUfMnrc-v5i_cieu14Gy5Mhw (attempts to resuscitate a child)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcHWSKMD96w&feature=youtu.be (failing attempts to save civilians)
http://youtu.be/dcHWSKMD96w (failing attempts to save civilians)
–Bombardment on Arbin:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmFEsh3Tvqo&feature=youtu.be (MEG warplane hovering over Arbin)
–Photos/videos taken from Hamoureyyeh:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlYSmoa6BUs&list=UUQ57A4S-uWJrpi8j5AN9N5Q (tens of civilians on ground in a medical point, suffocating)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK1Nu8A1jEo&feature=c4-overview&list=UUQ57A4S-uWJrpi8j5AN9N5Q(attempts to resuscitate children)
–Photos/videos from Saqba:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBq0HJs_ggw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUPJ5c1m7advFxfWUfuVR2Vw(ambulance cars rushing to rescue victims)
(3 videos documenting martyrdom of 40 civilians in one medical point)
http://youtu.be/Qa0fWpKmFuY (part 1)
http://youtu.be/t8H_iuI56zY (part 2)
http://youtu.be/zUnehzxsUGs (part 3)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UU_uONafGE&feature=youtu.be (doctor speaking of symptoms)
http://youtu.be/nRDkuRGNFiE (children suffocating to death)
http://youtu.be/YVTZSLUtLOQ (child suffocating to death)
Videos of casualties due to chemical weaponry used; taken inside a medical point in Saqba:
http://youtu.be/lwGdDYnAoWU (part 1)
http://youtu.be/-SOSz4tjBnI (part 2)
http://youtu.be/87DT2eDqh1Y (part 3)
http://youtu.be/_warMtjAdlA (part 4)
Photos showing civilians martyrs; others suffocating to death:
–One of rockets that targeted Saqba today; bombardment:
–Photos/videos taken from a medical point in Mua’dameyet Al Sham:
(12 martyred men on ground)
(child affected by chemical weapons)
(martyrs killed by chemical weaponry)
http://youtu.be/IdED26CH2SM (elderly man amongst martyrs)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Da_UizjNUz4 (primary footage of some of martyrs)
http://youtu.be/ImCUPr9VIOQ (martyrs lined on ground)
–Bombardment on Mua’dameyet Al Sham:
–Photos/videos taken from a medical point in Jesreen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkWdhXtP3kw&feature=youtu.be (civilians on ground; suffocating, with seizures)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpiqnS8OuIs&feature=youtu.be (one of the cases of suffocation)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNkPHUySCvI (attempts to save civilians suffocating)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPWfQ6wEa5U (victims, some martyred, on ground)
(tens of martyrs on ground)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDr4lXnMvJI (some of martyrs of Jesreen)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrk1siUUrdE (medic crying, carrying a martyred child)
–Bombardment on Jisreen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUd8cnX1y-U (moment a shell fell)
–Photos/videos taken from another medical point in Kufrbatnah:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-IkS3HIm6U&feature=c4-overview&list=UUvZk_PlaBG7ctP-Zrrcf_5Q (civilians terrified; tens of casualties on ground)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=de278-eftBA&feature=c4-overview&list=UUvZk_PlaBG7ctP-Zrrcf_5Q (civilians terrified; tens of casualties on ground)
(martyred children/men/women lined on ground)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO8_eZcZkNE&feature=c4-overview&list=UUvZk_PlaBG7ctP-Zrrcf_5Q (whole family martyred)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkGa2jr9MBA&feature=c4-overview&list=UUvZk_PlaBG7ctP-Zrrcf_5Q (martyrs lined on ground; most children)
(children mostly/men affected by chemical weaponry; failing attempts of resuscitation due to lack of medical supplies)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGOAmM1rN8s&feature=c4-overview&list=UUvZk_PlaBG7ctP-Zrrcf_5Q (toddler suffocating to death)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dCRW9bfa7o&feature=c4-overview&list=UUvZk_PlaBG7ctP-Zrrcf_5Q (makeshift hospital packed with civilians)
–Bombardment on Kufrbatnah:
–Photos of new mass of victims arriving to Al Mleha town: (no martyrs reported from there yet)
16 young men, 6 women, and 2 children
(victims of chemical weaponry)
Syrian government by using poisonous gases in different Syrian Territories violated both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, because of the Prohibition of the Use of poisonous weapons in all circumstances ever in armed conflicts.
We didn’t document any case of using chemical weapons or poisonous gases by armed rebels
Human right council
1- Serious attention of the case of using poisonous gases.
2- Call upon security council and relevant organizations to take upon their responsibility towards this extremely serious matter.
3- Exert pressure on the Syrian government to stop using such type of internationally prohibited weapons.
4- Hold the allies and supporter of the Syrian government: Russia, Iran, China, moral and physical responsibility towards excesses of Syrian Regime in this regard.
5- Demands international weapons and institutions concerning mass destruction weapons to monitor closely developments in Syria and alert any potential breaches by Syrian Government.
1- Decision to refer all the criminals and the involved to ICC.
2- Warn the Syrian Government Troops of there percussions of using chemical gases on life’s future in Syrian and its impact on the stability of civil peace and coexistence of people in the same society.
3- Serious attention to the case and put it under continuously 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 technically capable to apply satellite monitoring on chemical weapons and its warehouse in Syria , and to warn if the Syrian Government start any procedure to use it.
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 poisonous gas victims.
3- Political and diplomatic pressure on the Syrian Government Troops’ main allies-Russia, Iran and China -to prevent Syrian Government to use poisonous gases , and prevent them from continuous providing cover, and international and political protection for all the crimes committed against the Syrian people and hold them moral and physical responsibility for all the excesses of the Syrian Government Troops.
4- Serious attention to the case and put it under continuously control and research.
5- Support local councils and families with protective equipment and precautionary means and medical materials to deal with such disaster if it occurs again.
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By Darrin Simmons
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
CAIRO, Egypt-Mohamed ElBaradei, recently-resigned interim vice president of Egypt’s foreign affairs, is being sued for a “betrayal of trust” due to his decision to resign. A Cairo court has set the trial for the 19th of September.
Mr. ElBaradei faces charges of “breaching national trust” that were brought forth by a law professor, Sayyed Ateeq, at Cairo’s Helwan University. Mr. Ateeq stated that ElBaradei could face up to three years in prison with the finding of a guilty verdict. However, judicial sources say that the maximum sentence is a fine and suspend jail time.
A co-leader of the National Salvation Front (NSF), an organization aimed at deposing ex-President Morsi, Mr. ElBaradei gained ample political support. The former head of the UN nuclear agency, he originally supported the overthrowing of Morsi from power on July 3rd.
However, on August 14th, Mr. ElBaradei resigned from his post as Vice President of Foreign Affairs. His resignation followed yet another massacre of several hundred Morsi supporters by police forces at the dispersal of a protest in eastern Cairo.
“He was appointed in his capacity as a representative of the NSF and the majority of the people who signed the Tamarod declaration,” stated Ateeq. “Dr. ElBaradei was entrusted with this position and he had a duty to go back to those who entrusted him and ask to resign instead of stepping down on his own,” Ateeq further stated.
In the aftermath of ex-President Morsi’s ousting, politically driven lawsuits have flooded the Egyptian court system on both sides of the table. Morsi supporters earlier brought numerous cases against opposition figures during Morsi’s time in power while anti-government activists have called the suits “a form of political intimidation.”
Further arrests of Muslim Brotherhood leaders along with the public prosecutor’s decision to charge Morsi have preceded the filing of the case. Mr. ElBaradei, who recently left Egypt for Europe, is unlikely to attend any part of the trial.
Khaled Dawoud, an aide to ElBaradei and former NSF spokesman reported, “If this case against ElBaradei is true then it is a major escalation showing that things are getting very polarized. You’re either on this side or on that side.”
Dawoud further expressed disapproval of the decision to file the case by saying, “Set a precedent that harms Egypt’s reputation abroad, when a politician is prosecuted just for resigning from his post, something that has never happened before in any country in the world.”
For more information, please see the following:
Aljazeera-Cairo court sets trial date for ElBaradei-21 August 2013
First Post-Egypt: Mohamed ElBaradei to be tried for ‘betrayal of trust-21 August 2013
Independent-Egypt crisis: Now Mohamed ElBaradei faces wrath of army after resigning from cabinet-20 August 2013
Reuters-Egypt’s ElBaradei to face court for ‘betrayal of trust’-20 August 2013
Syrian Network for human rights documented 647 victims, on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 all across Syria. Most of the victims are women and children.
Damascus and countryside: 606 victims
Aleppo: 8 victims
Idlib: 3 victims
Dier Alzoor: 7 victims
Daraa: 2 victims
Homs: 6 victims
Hama: 13 victims
Qunaitra: 1 victims
Lattakia: 1 victims
by Tony Iozzo
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
LONDON, England – The decision of British authorities to detain the partner of a journalist who has reported on both United States and United Kingdom surveillance programs has come under fire, as opposition politicians and human rights lawyers are demanding an explanation.
David Michael Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, who writes a column for the British newspaper The Guardian, was detained for nine hours before being released without charge.
Greenwald has written about the U.S. and U.K. surveillance programs based on the leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Miranda had met with Laura Poitras, an American filmmaker who has worked with Greenwald on the Snowden leaks, in Berlin and was in route to Rio de Janeiro. The Guardian has stated that Miranda, though not an employee of the newspaper, “often assists [Greenwald] in his work,” and the newspaper generally reimburses Miranda for his flights.
During Miranda’s nine-hour detention, the maximum allowed by law, he was questioned by many agents. “I stayed in a room; there were six different agents, entering and leaving, who spoke with me. They asked questions about my whole life, about everything. They took my computer, video game, cellphone, memory thumb drives- everything,” Miranda stated.
The police have stated that Miranda’s detention was lawful under Schedule 7 of Britain’s Terrorism Act 2000, which allows police to detain an individual at an airport, port or international rail station for up to nine hours for questioning about whether they have been involved with acts of terrorism.
“They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism,” Greenwald has written in a column.” He opined that his partner’s detention and questioning were “clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ.”
Britain’s official independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson, stated he has asked authorities to explain why Miranda was detained for the maximum allowable amount of time. Of the 69,000 people stopped pursuant to Schedule 7 between 2011 and 2012, less than 40 people have been held for over six hours.
As Miranda is a Brazilian national, Brazil’s foreign minister Antonio Pariota has sought reasoning from British Foreign Secretary William Hague, calling Miranda’s detention “not justifiable.”
Though the United States government has stated it was given a “heads up” regarding the planned detention, it has stated that the decision for the detention was independent from them.
Greenwald now plans to “write much for aggressively than before” about the U.K.’s surveillance programs. “I’m going to publish many more things about England as well. I have many documents about the system of espionage of England, and now my focus will be there, too. I think they will regret what they’ve done.”
For more information, please see:
Al Jazeera – Snowden Journalist to Publish UK Spy Secrets – 20 August 2013
The Independent – Snowden Affair: US Was Given ‘Heads-Up’ on Detention of David Miranda at Heathrow – 20 August 2013
BBC News – US Given ‘Heads-Up’ on David Miranda Detention – 19 August 2013
The Guardian – David Miranda: “The Said I Would be Put in Jail if I Didn’t Cooperate” – 19 August 2013
New York Times – Britons Question Whether Detention of Reporter’s Partner Was Terror-Related – 19 August 2013
Yahoo News UK & Ireland – Use of UK Terror Law to Detain a Reporter’s Partner ‘a disgrace – 19 August 2013
By Brian Lanciault
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
PYONGYANG, North Korea– North Korea has agreed to South Korea’s proposal to resume reuniting families that were separated during the Korean Civil War (1950-53). Observers take this as a sign of encouragement that the otherwise bitter and flaring relationship between North and South is beginning to cool down.
The reunions are expected to take place on September 19, during the elaborate Chuseok harvest festival, according to reports released on Sunday by KCNA, a major North Korean news agency.
North Korea set off months of unsettling tensions with a long-range rocket launch in December followed by an underground nuclear test in February. The North’s menacing rhetoric against the United States and South Korea hit its apex between March and April amid U.S.-South Korean military drills in the region, and a vote by the U.N. Security Council to impose even tougher sanctions on the Pyongyang regime, in hopes to quell the swelling tide of nuclear threats.
The KCNA reported that both North and the South, following an agreement to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Zone, will soon discuss the possibility of resuming cross-border tours at Mount Kumgang.
The Kaesong Industrial Zone, a massive complex, located in the North but shared by the two nations, has been closed since April. Kim Jong Un’s regime began blocking South Koreans from entering the manufacturing complex, which sits on the North’s side of the heavily fortified border and houses the operations of more than 120 South Korean companies. Pyongyang then removed the more than 50,000 North Koreans working in the zone’s factories, saying it was temporarily suspending activity in the area. The decision to halt operations surprised some observers, since Kaesong has long been considered an important source of hard currency for Pyongyang.
Mount Kumgang is a North Korean resort where a South Korean tourist was shot by a North Korean soldier in 2008 after allegedly walking into an off-limits area. The reunion will take place at the resort.
“The Kaesong Industrial Zone and the tours to Mt. Kumgang resort are valuable works common to the nation which should not be delayed as they are symbols of reconciliation, unity, reunification and prosperity,” the KCNA reported.
The tragedy of divided families dates to the 1950-1953 Korean War, when the Cold War’s division of the peninsula into two nations became a permanent state of affairs. Amid fighting, millions became refugees — either fleeing violence or fearing political repercussions from either side. In the winter of 1950, some 650,000 refugees left North Korea as U.N. forces retreated after a surprise Chinese offensive.
There is no direct contact between the two Koreas, but a few families in the South have managed to establish voice and written contact, albeit in secrecy, with their relatives in the North in recent years. Most such communications are a result of North Korea’s border with China, which has become easier to overcome, not to mention the prominence of illegal cell phones that have penetrated the otherwise insulated state.
The first family reunions took place following a landmark summit between the two Koreas in 2000. Since that time, 17,100 people representing 3,500 families have been reunited on more than 18 separate occasions.
The meetings are bittersweet, as the chances of any of the divided family members meeting again are slim. The last such reunion took place in 2010.
According to a report at the time, approximately 80,000 South Koreans registered to join one of the few reunions, but 40,000 people are believed to have since passed away or given up hope, according to the South’s Ministry of Unification. Figures from north of the demilitarized zone remain unknown.
For more information, please see:
BBC — North Korea Agrees to Family Reunions with South — 18 August 2013
Reuters — North Korea accepts South’s proposal to resume war-torn family reunions — 18 August 2013
Bloomberg — North Korea Agrees to Reunion Talks After Gaeseong Accord — 18 August 2013
Deutsche Welle — North Korea agrees to resumption of family reunions — 18 August 2013
CNN — North Korea agrees to family reunions with the South, report says — 18 August 2013
LIMA, Peru – Two top commanders of Peru’s Shining Path group were killed during a clash with government troops in southeast Peru according to President Ollanta Humala.
Alejandro Borda Casafranca, and Martin Quispe Palomino were killed by a covert force formed to track down top rebel leaders. “The intelligence sources that have participated in this action have confirmed that the dead terrorist criminals are the number one and number two of the Shining Path’s military structure,” Mr. Humala said, referring to Mr. Borda Casafranca and Mr. Quispe Palomino, respectively.
After a firefight, their bullet-riddled and burned corpses were found in a house in an isolated township of Ayacucho, south of Lima. President Humala said a third rebel believed to be Casafranca’s close colleague was also killed in the military operation.
The announcement is a victory for Humala’s administration, which has struggled to combat remnants of the Shining Path in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valley, or VRAEM. President Humala has made bringing peace to the VRAEM one of his top priorities since coming to office in July 2011. He has pledged to root out the Shining Path and increase the state’s presence in the region.
The VRAEM, the most densely planted coca-growing region in the world, is the last remaining stronghold of the Shining Path. The group is believed to still have 300 to 500 members in the area located in southern Peru.
Peru’s terrorism and security analyst Jaime Antezana said that the killing of the two rebel leaders was the government’s first successful blow in recent years at the top military ranks of the group. Antezana said the two men were deeply involved in the rebels’ management of coca leaf cultivation, as well as the processing and transport of cocaine.
Last year, security personnel captured one of the group’s original leaders in the Upper Huallaga Valley, Peru’s other major cocaine producing region located north of the VRAEM. He was sentenced to life in prison in June.
Shining Path’s insurgency began in 1980. Inspired by Maoism, the rebels tried to lead a “People’s War” to overthrow what they called “bourgeois democracy” and establish a communist state. They took control of Peru’s rural regions and some urban areas by the early 1990s, raising fears in the U.S. government that it might someday take power. However, its founder, Abimael Guzman, was captured in 1992 and subsequently sentenced to life in prison. The conflict resulted in some 70,000 deaths.
The group has largely been crushed by the army, but remnants of the group remain, and they often attack military patrols in jungle areas. Security forces say the group has allied itself with drug traffickers and now finances itself by growing and smuggling coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine.
For more information please see:
Al Jazeera– Peru says Shining Path leaders killed – 14 August 2013
Los Angeles Times – Peru commandos kill two Shining Path leaders – 13 August 2013
The Wall Street Journal – Peru President Says High-Ranking Shining Path Members Killed – 12 August 2013
Reuters – Peru says top two Shining Path rebels killed in jungle shootout – 12 August 2013
BBC – Peru’s security forces kill three Shining Path rebels – 12 August 2013
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By Brandon Cottrell
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Dwayne Jones, age 16, was murdered on July 22, when he attended a street party dressed as a woman.
Prior to attending the party, Jones confided in a girl from his church that he would be attending dressed as a woman. Upon his arrival, the girl’s friends asked Jones if he was a man or a woman; once the group determined that Jones was a man, they began verbally assaulting him. Jones attempted to run from the group, but was unable to escape. He was then beaten for several hours, stabbed, shot and run over by a car. The group also beat two of Jones’ friends who attended the party with him.
Annie Paul, a blogger at the Jamaican University of the West Indies said that, “Judging by comments made on social media, most Jamaicans think Dwayne Jones brought his death on himself for wearing a dress . . . in a society that has made it abundantly clear that homosexuals are neither to be seen nor heard.”
Jamaica is often portrayed as one of the most hostile countries for gay and transgendered people. Just last year alone, two homosexual men were murdered and thirty-six others were victims of mob violence. Homosexuals are also often victim to arbitrary detention and harassment by police. Due to such hostility, much of the gay community keeps their sexual orientation secret. In addition, many of their parties and church services must be held in secret locations.
Some believe that much of the homophobia in Jamaica stems from centuries-old laws that ban sodomy. Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, however, vowed during her election campaign that the anti-sodomy law would be evaluated and potentially repealed by Parliament. Additionally, Simpson-Miller said she was open to appointing homosexuals to her cabinet, a stark contrast to former Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s stance.
Meanwhile, Senator Mark Golding condemned Jones’s murder and called on police to “spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators to justice.” Additionally, leading human rights groups in Jamaica have called on the government to condemn the killing and investigate the crime. Prime Minister Simpson-Miller and many other prominent leaders, however, have been silent.
To date, the investigation of Jones’ murder has not revealed any suspects and no arrests have been made.
For further information, please see:
Jamaica Gleaner – Gov’t Shouldn’t Let Dwayne Jones’ Death Go In Vain – 13 Aug 2013
International Business Times – Jamaica: Transgender Teenager Dwayne Jones Murdered by Homophobic Mob – 12 Aug 2013
CBS News – Transgender teen stabbed, shot and run over by Jamaican mob – 11 Aug 2013
Human Rights Watch – Jamaica Cross-Dressing Teenager Murdered – 01 Aug 2013
Key report to General Assembly outlines Secretary General’s vision of ‘a world we have a right to expect’
The UN has just released the Secretary General’s report to the forthcoming General Assembly on progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and recommendations for what should replace them in 2015. The report, “A life of dignity for all,” is a powerful and timely endorsement of the need to follow up the MDGs with a holistic and transformative framework of development commitments anchored in the universal fulfillment of human rights.
Echoing the central premise that has motivated CESR’s advocacy and analysis over the last two years, the report asserts that ending poverty is “a matter of basic justice and human rights”. It includes a welcome recognition that freedom from fear and want are inseparable, and that human rights encompass the economic and social dimensions of human well-being. “No person should go hungry, lack shelter or clean water and sanitation, face social and economic exclusion or live without access to basic health services and education”, says the Secretary General. “These are human rights, and form the foundations for a decent life.”
Many of its specific recommendations capture those made by CESR and the organizationswith whom we have been working to secure human rights at the core of the renewed development agenda. It calls for the sustainable development agenda to be universal, rights-based and supported by rigorous accountability mechanisms. It states that promoting decent employment, ensuring decent wages, strengthening social protection and putting in place redistributive policies are a prerequisite for achieving the existing Goals and must be the basis of inclusive growth in the future. The report is also strong on the need for more effective global governance and for a stronger commitment by wealthier states to follow through on aid, trade and debt relief commitments, as well as cracking down on illicit capital flows, and stemming tax avoidance and evasion, which is a significant drain on countries’ resources in both the North and South.
It calls for particular attention to the rights of the most vulnerable and excluded, such as women, children, the elderly, indigenous people, refugees and displaced families, as well as people with disabilities, recognizing that discrimination and denial of human rights are often an underlying cause of disparities and inequalities. It calls for action to tackle exclusion and inequality in all its forms, with particular emphasis on ensuring the equal rights of women and girls, including in the economic and social spheres, as well as action to tackle discrimination against migrants and income inequality.
The report recognizes that “human rights and effective governance based on the rule of law and transparent institutions are outcomes and enablers of development”, and that lasting peace and sustainable development cannot be fully realized without respect for human rights, transparency and accountability, including ensuring citizens’ involvement in policymaking and oversight in the use of public resources. It calls for a renewed focus on more equitable forms of mobilizing domestic resources, including by broadening the tax base and improving tax administration, and improving corporate and public governance of extractive industries in resource-rich countries. It also calls for a robust framework for international development financing, which should include commitments to eliminate illicit financial flows and to enhance the regulation of secrecy jurisdictions. Echoing CESR’s particular concerns about accountability, the report states that the success of such commitments “depends on assigning roles, responsibilities and clear accountability” for all actors involved, including international financial institutions and the private sector.
Perhaps the most welcome aspect of the Secretary General’s report is its responsiveness to the calls which human rights and social justice groups in all corners of the globe have been voicing. “People across the world are demanding more responsive governments and better governance and rights at all levels. We have heard their calls for peace and justice, eradicating poverty, realizing rights, eliminating inequality, enhancing accountability and preserving our planet.” Human rights are not just referenced rhetorically in his proposals – they are recognized as the purpose of the post-2015 framework, as well as the principles that sustain it. “Ultimately, the aspiration of the development agenda beyond 2015 is to create a just and prosperous world where all people realize their rights and live with dignity and hope.” For such a sustainable development agenda to take root, the Secretary General argues that the international community must agree “a far-reaching vision of the future firmly anchored in human rights and universally accepted values and principles, including those encapsulated in the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Millennium Declaration”, as well as “a participatory monitoring framework for tracking progress and mutual accountability mechanisms for all stakeholders.”
Strong monitoring and accountability, the Secretary General recognizes, will be crucial for the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda, and can be strengthened through the direct engagement of citizens and improving data collection, dissemination and analysis, including efforts to capture gaps within and between population groups and to assess the quality of outcomes. Goals, targets and metrics to measure their achievement should take into account human rights and inequality in a cross-cutting manner.
With this report, the Secretary General has raised the level of debate and expectation around the role of human rights in the post-2015 development agenda. When they come together at this September’s General Assembly, member states will need to roll up their sleeves, team up with civil society worldwide, and get to the hard work of implementing the resounding call for a universal agenda with human rights-centered sustainable development at its core, and undertake the profound transformations required to build “the just, prosperous and sustainable world that people want and have a right to expect”.
For further information, please see:
By Ben Kopp
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
MOSCOW, Russia – Activists and celebrities started campaigns against the Sochi Olympics, pointing to Russia’s prohibition on homosexual “propaganda” and pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva’s (Russia) apparent support of it. Amidst outcry, U.S. President Barack Obama and athletes rejected boycotting the Olympics.
In June 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a ban on homosexual “propaganda”. While the Russian Interior Ministry stated that the law would be enforced during the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said that it “received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”
Olympic athletes have expressed their support for the LGBT community. After all, speed skater Blake Skjellerup (New Zealand) and figure skater Johnny Weir (U.S.) stated that the Olympic Games in Russia is best place to stand against homophobia.
Going on record about his sentiments in a blog post for Runner’s World Magzine, Runner Nick Symmonds (U.S.) stated his support for the LGBT and his disagreement with Russia’s law. However, he also wrote, “I say this not out of fear of prosecution by the Russian government, but out of respect for the fact that I will be a guest in the host nation. Just as I would not accept a dinner invite to a friend’s house and then lecture them on how to raise their kids, neither will I lecture the Russian government on how to govern their people.”
On 13 August 2013, high jumper Emma Green Tregaro (Sweden) and 200m runner Moa Hjelmer (Sweden) painted rainbow colors on their fingernails before competing in Moscow.
On 15 August 2013, pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) received criticism for defending her country’s laws. “We consider ourselves like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys,” she said. “It comes from the history. [The protests are] disrespectful to our country. It’s disrespectful to our citizens, because we are Russians. Maybe we are different than European people and people from different lands. We have our law which everyone has to respect. When we go to different countries, we try to follow their rules. We are not trying to set our rules over there. We are just trying to be respectful.”
To clarify her comments, Isinbayeva made a statement released by the local organizers of championships: “What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries, particularly when they are guests. I respect the views of my fellow athletes, and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people.”
FIFA, which planned for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup, asked for clarification on the law because FIFA statutes “foresee zero tolerance against discrimination.” Qatar, which also prohibits homosexual activity, has been awarded the 2022 World Cup.
Amidst mounting tensions, creating unity remains the ultimate goal.
For further information, please see:
CNN – Nick Symmonds Blasts Russia on Gay Rights at Moscow Track Championship – August 16, 2013
Euronews – ‘I Was Misunderstood’ Says Gay Row Russian Athlete – August 16, 2013
RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty – As Gay Athletes Prepare to Take a Stand in Sochi, the Question Is How to Do It – August 16, 2013
Sky News – Yelena Isinbayeva: Respect Russia’s Gay Law – August 16, 2013
Washington Post – Russian Pole Vaulter Says She May Have Been Misunderstood When She Condemned Homosexuality – August 16, 2013
The Guardian – Isinbayeva Says Green Tregaro’s Gesture Was Disrespectful to Russia – August 15, 2013
Bloomberg Businessweek – FIFA Asks WCup Host Russia to Explain Anti-Gay Law – August 14, 2013
USA Today – Entertainment World Leads Olympic Outcry against Russia – August 11, 2013
By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
CAIRO, Egypt – Dozens of civilian protesters were killed across Egypt as security forces clashed with protesters. At least 95 people were killed and hundreds more injures in Cairo’s Ramses Square after Egyptian security forces opened fire on anti-coup protesters orchestrating a “Day of Rage” against the military-led government.
In Alexandria, at least 21 people were killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of the military coup. More people were reportedly killed across the country, with at least eight protesters being killed in Damietta and four in Ismailia.
The Muslim Brotherhood and other anti-coup groups, calling themselves the Anti-Coup Alliance, had called for the “Day of Rage” protests on Friday to protest the Egyptian military’s crackdown on sit-in demonstrations that left hundreds of civilians killed on Wednesday, August 14. The Muslim Brotherhood denied any involvement in these attacks.
Said Mohammed, an anti-government protester, reportedly witnessed snipers and men in helicopters gun down people in the crowds. “Helicopters started to shoot us as we were walking,” he said. “Not bombs this time, it was bullets. My friend took a shot in the neck and he died. This was the first time we saw helicopters shooting. There were people shooting from the windows.”
As Egyptian forces cracked down on protests camps organized by the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, some Morsi supporters directed their anger at the nation’s Christian minority. Churches, houses, monasteries, orphanages, schools, businesses and other establishments belonging to Coptic Christians were attacked in nine provinces across the country. The Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic activist group, said Thursday that these attacks caused “panic, losses and destruction for no reason and no crimes they committed except being Christians.”
Bishop Angaelos, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said that he was told by colleagues in Egypt that 52 churches, in addition to Christian owned homes and business, were attacked in a 24-hour time period beginning Wednesday. Ishak Ibrahim, from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, reported that he has confirmed at least 30 of these attacks.
Two days before Wednesday’s violence, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II called on all Egyptians for peace in Egypt and for all Egyptians to prevent further bloodshed. He said, “With all compassion I urge everyone to conserve Egyptian blood and ask of every Egyptian to commit to self-restraint and avoid recklessness and assault on any person or property.”
Egypt’s violence has been condemned by the international community. U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the actions of Egypt’s Intern government and called for it to end the month long state of emergency that was put in place by the intern government following Wednesday’s violent crackdown on civil protests. In response to the violence in Egypt, President Obama cancelled a planned joint military exercise in protests of the state’s bloody clashes with civilians protesting the ouster of former President Morsi, suggesting a growing right between the historic allies.
For further information please see:
Al Jazeera – Scores Dead in Egypt’s ‘Day of Rage’ Clashes – 16 August 2013
NBCNews – Obama Condemns Egypt over Violence, Cancels Joint Military Exercise – 15 August 2013
USA Today – Egypt’s Christians under Attack Since Morsi’s Ouster – 15 August 2013
CNN International – ‘Horrible’: Christian Churches across Egypt Stormed, Torched – 1 August 2013
By Dan Krupinsky
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Frequent attacks on its staff have caused Doctors Without Borders to withdraw from Somalia, after more than two decades of humanitarian service in the country.
Since the group, known internationally by its French acronym MSF, began providing basic and emergency healthcare to millions across the nation in 1991, 16 people working for the group have been killed and dozens more attacked.
Two workers were shot and killed in December 2011 by a Somali employee who learned that his contract was not going to be renewed. The shooter was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison, but after serving only three months, was released.
In a statement, the group accused the civilian leaders of the nation of supporting the violent actions, denouncing “extreme attacks on its staff in an environment where armed groups and civilian leaders increasingly support, tolerate, or condone the killing, assaulting, and abducting of humanitarian aid workers.”
Dr. Unni Karunakara, the group’s international president, cited the realization of active support and approval for the attacks as the “final straw.”
“In choosing to kill, attack, and abduct humanitarian aid workers, these armed groups, and the civilian authorities who tolerate their actions, have sealed the fate of countless lives in Somalia,” said Dr. Karunakara.
“Respect for humanitarian principles, always fragile in conflict zones, no longer exists in Somalia today.”
Somalia, without effective government for most of MSF’s tenure in the country, was thought to be headed towards more stability when the first parliament in over two decades took office in 2012. But working conditions for MSF have not improved, prompting the group to pull out of a country for only the second time in its history, after the death of five workers at the hands of the Taliban caused the group to pull out of Afghanistan in 2004.
The decision to pull out leaves hundreds of thousands of Somalis with no healthcare services at all.
Just last year, MSF delivered more than 7,000 babies, treated more than 30,000 malnourished children and vaccinated 60,000. Additionally, they operated the only pediatric clinic in Mogadishu and in some cities were the only establishments for women to get C-sections.
According to the New York Times, a Mogadishu hospital employee called the group’s pullout “disastrous,” although also added that they pledged to continue supporting the hospital for an additional three months.
The Somali government offered no comment on the move, other than to say that it will be discussed in a cabinet meeting on Thursday.
For further information, please see:
ABC News – Doctors Without Borders Pulls out of Somalia – 14 August 2013
All Africa – Somalia: Doctors Without Borders to End Mission in Somalia After 22 Years – 14 August 2013
CNN – Doctors Without Borders to pull out of Somalia over attacks on staff – 14 August 2013
New York Times – Doctors Without Borders to Pull Out of Somalia – 14 August 2013
NPR – Violence Causes Doctors Without Borders To Exit Somalia – 14 August 2013