Syria Meets 1st Deadline Destroying Chemical Weapons Sites

By Darrin Simmons
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

DAMASCUS, Syria-Syria has met a key deadline in the disarmament program, destroying all of its declared chemical weapons production and mixing facilities.  The next deadline is November 15, when the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Syria must agree to a detailed plan for destruction of the 1,000 metric tons of toxic chemicals.

OPCW investigates chemical weapons sites in Syria (photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

“Phase three will last to June 2014 and will involve United Nations mission support to monitor all destruction of 1,000 tons of chemical weapons.  The UN/OPCW has no mandate to destroy them so a UN member state will have to provide technical and operational support.

But also, we have to be a bit suspicious about the second phase as this is what Syria has declared, and see that other states will agree with Syria on the amount it said it has.  Other countries may have their own intelligence,” stated Omar Al Saleh, a reporter for Al Jazeera.

The OPCW has inspected and removed chemical equipment from 21 out of the 23 chemical weapons sites across Syria, with the other two sites being too dangerous to inspect and already having their equipment transferred.

Locations of the sites which were not inspected have not been specified, demonstrating the perils of operating in a war zone with multiple places being under siege and unpredictably shifting battle lines.

A spokesman for the OPCW, Michael Luhan, reported that one of the two uninspected sites was near Damascus.  It was also reported that eight inspectors returned to OPCW headquarters after spending a month in Damascus as part of an advanced team there on October 1st.

“Syria has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable,” said the OPCW.

While some experts favor the announcement as a milestone, others remain fearful as it has left Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in control of 1,290 tons of chemical weapons and an assortment of conventional weapons used during the country’s bloody civil war to kill over 100,000 people.

“The Assad regime continues to use artillery, air power and siege tactics against civilians, with thousands killed every month.  While the destruction of facilities is an important first milestone, it brings no relief to the Syrian people.  As winter approaches, the humanitarian situation grows more acute with millions left vulnerable,” stated the British Foreign Office.

It will remain to be seen whether Syria destroys all of its stockpiles by mid-2014. 

For more information, please see the following:

Al Jazeera-Syria chemical weapons facilities ‘destroyed’-31 October 2013

Guardian-Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities destroyed, says watchdog-31 October 2013

New York Times-Chemical Arms Inspectors Say Syria Has Destroyed All Declared Sites-31 October 2013

Reuters-Syria meets deadline to destroy chemical production facilities-31 October 2013

Saudi Writer Arrested for Supporting Women Drivers

By Thomas Murphy
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – On October 27, Saudi police arrested Tariq al-Mubarak, a columnist who criticized the country’s ban on women drivers.  The arrest followed an October 26 protest of the driving ban, during which at around sixty women got behind the wheel.

A Saudi Arabian woman starts her car and prepares drive despite the country’s outdated ban on female driving. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

On October 6, Tariq al-Mubarak wrote an opinion article that is titled “It’s Time to Change Women’s Place in the Arab World.”  The article, available here, supported women’s rights generally, but education, freedom to travel, and marriage were specifically mentioned as areas for reform.  Al-Mubarak, a young schoolteacher, is also a member of a core group that has supported the right of women to drive.

He was called to the Interior Ministry’s Criminal Investigation Department on Sunday on the pretext that a car was stolen.  However, when he arrived he was interrogated about his involvement in the “Women2Drive” campaign, the activist group behind the driving protest.  Human Rights Watch and local activists report that al-Mubarak remains in custody and does not have access to a lawyer or family.

The police have also fined and harassed some of the women that participated in the protest by driving.  Fines were typically around 300 Saudi riyals ($80 USD) and many of the women and their male guardians were forced to sign a pledge stating they would respect the laws in the future.  Days after the protest, police cars remained outside of the homes of some participants.

The activists responsible for the “Women2Drive” campaign have reportedly been followed over the last few days and are preparing for the possibility of arrest.  They have put contingency plans in place and have provided phone numbers to journalists and human rights organizations in the event they are arrested.

The activists called for women specifically with international driver’s licenses to take part in the October 26 protest.  The campaign began in 2011 and was started by Saudi women with goal having the ban on women drivers repealed.

Human Rights Watch has called for an end to the mistreatment of the activists associated with “Women2Drive” and announced their support of the group’s mission.

“Saudi authorities are retaliating against people who want a very basic right for women, the right to get behind the wheel and drive themselves where they want to go,” said Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch Deputy Middle East director. “The authorities should end the driving ban and stop harassing people for supporting women’s rights.”

For further information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Saudi writer held for backing women drivers – 30 October 2013

Human Rights Watch – Saudi Arabia: Free Journalist who Supported Women Driving – 30 October 2013

Reuters – Saudi women say they will keep pushing for right to drive – 28 October 2013

Guardian – Saudi Arabia’s women hold day of action to change driving laws – 25 October 2013

Latest Reports Indicate the U.S. Operated 80 “Listening Posts” Worldwide and Tapped Merkel’s Phone Starting in 2002

by Tony Iozzo
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More details have developed after the German magazine Spiegel reported last week that the U.S. National Security Agency had tapped into phone conversations on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a meeting of European Heads of State last week. (Photo courtesy of Kyiv Post)

Reports have indicated that the United States has been operating a global network of 80 “eavesdropping centers”, including 19 European listening posts in cities including Paris, Berlin, Rome and Madrid, according to the German magazine.

Spiegel said that the new details were based on American intelligence documents, leaked as a part of the Edward Snowden controversy. The magazine also reported that Angela Merkel has allegedly been listened to by the NSA since 2002, while she was a leader of the opposition party. She was allegedly under surveillance all the way up until U.S. President Barack Obama visited Berlin in June. Obama assured Merkel that her phone is not being and will not be listened to in the future, but U.S. officials have consistently declined to address reports of past surveillance.

Germany had already stated it would send a delegation to Washington D.C. to seek details of its own from the White House, even before the latest reports surfaced.

Spiegel has broken a series of stories about U.S. surveillance of its allies and neighbors from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor.

In the latest reports, Spiegel stated that the NSA and Central Intelligence Agency established the 80 worldwide listening posts under a joint unit established in the 1970’s. Several were based in the capitals of European allies, apparently operating out of U.S. embassies.

The report states that the United States ran two posts in Germany, one in the U.S. embassy in the Germany’s capital, Berlin, and another in Frankfurt. German counter-intelligence officials told the magazine that they would increase their monitoring of the U.S. embassy as a result.

According to an additional leaked U.S. memo last week, the U.S. sought to monitor the telephone numbers of 35 world leaders. Last week, the U.S. ambassadors in Paris and Berlin were both summoned for explanations and clarification regarding these reports by their host countries.

Reportedly the U.S. does not operate similar surveillance operations in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand under intelligence-sharing agreements with those countries. The spying row prompted leaders meeting at a European Council summit to demand a new deal with Washington on intelligence gathering.

For more information, please see: 

Fox News – Report Claims US Had Merkel’s Phone Monitored Since 2002 – 27 October 2013

Kyiv Post – US Bugged Merkel’s Phone From 2002 Until 2013, Report Claims – 27 October 2013

BBC News – US Bugged Merkel’s Phone From 2002 Until 2013, Report Claims – 26 October 2013

The Telegraph – US Operates 80 Listening Posts Worldwide, 19 in Europe, and Snooped on Merkel Mobile 2002-2013 – 26 October 2013

 

 

SNHR: Syria ……. When the Students and Teachers are Killed Together in Class

Documenting the shelling of Adnan Almalki school in Dier ez-Zoor

Date of incident: 20 October 2013

Prepared by SNHR

The methodology of this report is based on the investigations conducted by SNHR’s team in Dier ez-Zoor governorate, with a number of residents and activists.

It contains the testimonies of witnessing residents documented in the report, in addition to news and pictures from cooperative activists inside the city.

The incident’s details

On Sunday 20 October 2013, 9:30 am, Syrian government’s warplane, without any warning or real justification, shelled the Adnan Almalki school located in Alqusor neighborhood (under the control of government forces).  The school was shelled while students and teachers were inside.

Location map:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=35.341157,40.128635&num=1&t=h&z=17

Testimony of an eyewitness and survivor known as Abo Faisal:

You can communicate with the witness by Skype account:

Mgro7-mn

” The massacre took place on Sunday 20/10/2013, at 9:30 am ”

The students were in school when the MIG shelled the school during the official school hours, the regime forces know that the school is working officially, there are only students there and noarmed manifestations ”

Alqusor neighborhood under the control of the regime, and the teachers are taking their wages from Minister of education

The warplane strike that targeted  the school directly led to kill four students and a teacher, and injured dozens of students”

Syrian Network for Human Rights’ director Fadel Abdulghani said: ” Syrian government always claims that they are fighting Al-Qaeda, extremists, and terrorism, but does shelling schools, markets and hospitals is for the same reason??!, They are sending message that they will prevent all forms of stability and life in all provinces that rebelled against Al-Assad regime, should mention it is not the first time that government forces shell school and commit systematically crime against humanity in many Syrian governorates”

SNHR’s team could document the killing of at least 4 victims: three children with their female teacher, while activist said that there were other three children couldn’t be recognized, we also document almost 15 injuries most of them were children.”

Shell led to damage great parts of Adnan Almalki school, and some parts of the neighboring Zaki Alarsozi school”

=============================

Name of the massacre victims:

1- Child Ahmad Rafea Alsara, Alqusor – Dier ez-Zoor

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9Bj18tlYYKBZkY1bkxIN0J6YnM/edit?usp=sharing

2- Girl child Ayah Ghassan Alhawas, Alqusor – Dier ez-Zoor

3- Miss Manal Alhaiji, Alqusor – Dier ez-Zoor, teacher

1- Child Husam Ahmad Alrabie, Alqusor – Dier ez-Zoor

=============================

Proofs and attachments:

Video shows the smoke caused by shelling

http://youtu.be/nXLPXZW7tbE

Photo of injured girl:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BXsBk3fIcAAoehj.jpg:large

=====================================

Conclusions:

1. Syrian network for human rights emphasize that the shelling of the school was deliberately aimed at civilian targets, so the Shabieha and Government forces violated international human rights law that protects the right of life.  In addition, it was committed in a non-international armed conflict so it tantamount to war crimes and had all the elements.

2. SNHR considers the shelling of the school in Dier ez-Zoor accompanied by killing  a war crime.  This is not the first time, but it’s almost a daily event in all Syrian govern orates, so it follows a systematic and widespread methodology.

3-  Random attacks committed by the Syrian government are considered violations of customary IHL, because it shells populated areas, not specific military targets.

4- Those attacks, especially the shelling, caused losses in civilians lives, injury , or damaged civilian objects.  There are very strong indications to believe that damage was too excessive when compared with the expected  military benefit.

5.The size and repeated nature of the massacre, the level of excessive force used, in addition to the random nature of the shelling, and coordinating attacks cannot be but only supreme directives of a state policy.

 

============================

 

Recommendations:

 

Syrian Government

1-    Immediately stop all human rights’ violations.

2-    Respect international obligations of protection of civilians in times of war, and respect the rules of international humanitarian law and international human rights law

 

Human Rights Council:

1-    Demand the Security Council and the concerned international institutions to hold their responsibilities of what’s happening for the Syrian People of killing, rape, displacement, and arrest.

2-    Pressure the Syrian Government Troops to stop shelling and killing, and release all the kidnapped and arrested.

3-    Hold allies and supporters of the Syrian Government Troops: Russia, Iran, and China, morally and physically responsible for what’s happening to the Syrian people.

4-    Give this case serious attention and give it a high priority, and try to take care of victims’ families psychologically,  materially, and educationally.

 

==================================

 

Security Council :

1-    Decide to refer all the criminals and the involved to the ICC.

2-    Warn the Syrian Government Troops of the repercussions of using brutal methods on the stability of civil peace and coexistence between the people of the same society.

3-    Insert Syrian National Army, and Shabiha troops loyal to Syrian Government’s.

 

==================================

 

Arab League :

1-    Demand the Human Right’s Council and United Nations to give serious and right attention to stop the daily killing.

2-    Political and diplomatic pressure on the Syrian Government Troops ‘s main allies-Russia, Iran and China -to prevent them from continuously providing cover and international and political protection for all the crimes committed against the Syrian people and hold them morally and physically responsible for all the excess of the Syrian Government Troops.

3-    Serious attention of this case and give it a high priority, and try to take care of victim families psychologically, materially, and educationally.

 

===================================

 

 International Commission of Inquiry :

The International Commission of inquiry must stop describing the conflict in Syria as a conflict between two equal parties in crimes, power and centralized decision,  and give an accurate description of violations without alleviate for political purposes.

The committee must also increase its carders in Syria because of the magnitude of the daily crimes committed to enable requires wider and more comprehensive documentation.

SNHR: Starving to death ……………. Moadamyeh’s besiege of the Damascus countryside

Prepared by Syrian Network for Human Rights

The report presents aspects of the besiege imposed by government forces on the town of Moadamyeh since 18 November 2013.  It also details how government forces have displaced, starved, and shelled civilians.

The report is based on six testimonies from Moadamyeh residents including a doctor, an eyewitnesses who saw or heard the government forces arrest relatives and then execute them.

This report has been prepared by SNHR  team in the Damascus countryside and logistics team outside Syria in cooperation with the residents and local activists in Moadamyeh.

Moadamyeh is located west of Damascus city in East Ghouta, and is administratively affiliated with the Darya district of  Damascus countryside.  The current population is 12,000 people.

The town is bounded to the North by three regiments of the 4th Division and from the South-East of the Palestinian organization’s camp of the regime’s army, from West officers’ housing, Saraya Al-Sira’ brigades and Yusuf al-‘Azma barracks of regime’s forces, and East Mezzeh military airport.

Location map:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=33.461127,36.19222&num=1&t=h&z=15

The siege began on 18 November 2012, when Government forces surrounded the city on all sides with military checkpoints and military armored vehicles, and surrounded the entrance of the city and main roads with about 20 checkpoints of 4th Division and Air Force Intelligence, backed by tanks t-72 and t-82, and ZSU-23-4 “Shilka.”

Testimony of Mahmoud Abo Ali resident in Moadamyeh:

“The city is suffering from scarcity of all food materials, medical, drugs, and fuel, in addition to the heavy and daily shelling on the city, the regime also used chemical weapons, the people of this city have been exposed to different type of death, even starvation, recently 7 children died as a result of hunger, adding to cut off electricity, water and connections.”

You can communicate with the witness through his Skype account:

mrkazmoadamiaalsham

Testimony of Amir Almoadamani ,resident in Moadamyeh:

“Hospitals and Dispensaries are totally destroyed, almost 80% of schools and mosques are destroyed, and some razed to the ground, houses have not been spared of shelling, where 75% of the city has destroyed, hunger totally dominate the area, regime’s forces prevented the entry of food, medicines and fuel, tragedies in Moadamyeh greater than from being counted in numbers.”

You can communicate with the witness through his Skype account:

adsport19821

==================================

Many Governments, senior United Nations officials, and human rights groups including Syrian Network for Human Rights call on the Syrian Government to grant humanitarian access to Qusayer during fighting in May and June/2013.  But the Security Council did not issue a statement on the right of access until the end of fighting because of Russian obstructionism.

The Syrian Government has rejected international calls for the evacuation of civilians and has refused to grant access to independent observers who were able to facilitate evacuation operations.

On 2 June, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said that Syria will not grant the International Committee of the Red Cross access right of entrance until the end of hostilities.

The Syrian Government has blocked the entry of food, bread and flour, medicine, baby milk, and fuel, in a policy to starve the residents.  The so-called “people’s committees (militiamen)” prevent the entrance of United Nations assistance to the region, leading to the fully closure of markets.

Syrian Network for Human Rights’ director Fadel Abdulghani said: “Syrian regime carries out systematic starvation and impoverishment operations to push the residents to compare their conditions before they rise up against the Syrian regime and after, and which to return to their old conditions, where they used to eat and drink regardless tyranny, oppression, gagged, and humiliation of dignity, they do so in the areas that out of their control, as example price of bread bag is 20 Syrian Pound, while in Damascus countryside reach to 300 Syrian pound if any.”

SNHR documented the murder of 11 residents, including 10 children, who were deprived of food and medical supplies.  SNHR’s director said “They didn’t kill because of shelling or executions, but starved to death.”

The following link contain names, photos, and other victim’s details:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bu2UHeQ4xly4cBdVWaF3id8Z3eDJv5gy9aQ4K7nArNE/edit?usp=sharing

====================================

 

Testimony of Mr. Yasser who visited large number of families that left Moadamyeh told us:

” I visited large more than 8 families who could get out of Moadamyeh by the Red Crescent, and inquired about many things like military, service, medical , humanitarian, relief and even personal  subjects…

Dealing between people in Moadamyah is by barter, not sale and purchase, because there are no Currency in the city

There is no food in the city, people eat herbs, leaves of trees and plants

Of course people there are literally skeletons have souls, People dies cause of hunger, relief materials don’t reach the city because of the siege imposed by government forces.

There are no water, no electricity, no communications.

Most of the families lost many of their children.”

In addition to shutting off electricity, water, and connections in the city by Syrian Government, Government Forces also with its daily shelling use various types of weapons destroyed 60% of the residential buildings in full, shelling often targeted public facilities (hospitals, schools, mosques, and clinics).

In addition to shelling the city with chemical weapons on 21 August 2013.

Medical Situation:

All of the hospitals, dispensaries, and medical centers were shelled, and do not function anymore, except for two small medical centers with five doctors and 40 nurses, suffer from shortage in medical materials.  Because of this, some manufactured equipments meant to be used once, are used several times after sterilization, and this exacerbated  injured conditions, amputated infected parts, and stopped treating other wounded.

Testimony of Dr. Omar Alhakim, works in Moadamyeh medical centre:

“The city has been severely suppressed by the security forces and militiamen since the beginning of the peaceful protests, about 10 months after FSA fended off the regime’s forces repeated attempts to storm the town.  They imposed a severe siege, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated , where we suffer from running out the food supplies in the city; nothing lefts for the residents to eat only plants, the city is totally empty from food, there are approximately 12,000 civilians trapped since 10 months including 7 thousand children and women, Electricity cut off from 10 months, flour is missing from 7 months, dry bread missing from 5 months, and now all Foodstuffs run out.

In addition to losing the entire medical substances, treatment the injuries with primitive tools and materials intended for one use by using them for several times, Drugs are almost non-existent, and antibiotic medications are only given one pill to a patient in extreme necessity conditions, the city is now at the gates of a real humanitarian disaster ”

You can communicate with the witness through his Skype account:

mohanad198938

============================

Educational status:

In Moadamyah 22 schools are closed, 15 of them are totally destroyed from shelling by government forces, the rest are extensively damaged.  They are out of service and cannot function anymore.

Photo of school on 1/3/2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Drt3lncQFuE

11 mosques in the city, large parts of them destroyed from shelling.

Photo of Omari mosque on 14/8/2013:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9Bj18tlYYKBWXJGUWhaellRMzA/edit?usp=sharing

Initiative to bring out the civilians

On Saturday 16 October 2013, Red Cross members provided help to the residents to display from the city, Government forces warned the families that they should evacuate the city, because it was announced by the official media as military zone, during displacement and at the western entrance of the city, government forces targeted them by heavy artillery led to kill 1 victim and almost 20 injuries:

Victim: Ziad Shihabi, Moadamyah of Damascus countryside:

http://youtu.be/WZozYcncQIM

Testimony of  media activist Murad Alshami, who was present while trying to evacuate the civilians:

You can communicate with the witness by Skype account:

Morad.773

“The city of Moadamyah have been besieged since the beginning of Daria battle, because of the very important location of the city, as it is between Mezzah military airport and Sumarieah housing and Eastern neighborhood, officers’ housing, Saraya Al-Sira’ brigades and Yusuf al-‘Azma suburb, 4th Division and their housings and regiment 100.

Moadamyah is military zone, there is no entrance or exist way since the beginning of Daria battle.

That’s mean there is no military barrier for inspection or otherwise…. snipers at all entrance, transit from and to the city is forbidden … that’s mean its prison anyone try to get out  immediately sniped, and targeted by Shilka armored , heavy machine guns, thermal scope snipers, and Alwite People’s committee barriers.

From four months ago, we have identified more than 10 dates for getting out the civilians with United Nation Commission.

There were many connections with Red Cross, where they pledged to enter the aids, but they didn’t enter foods or unwind siege.

Red cross and ministry of national reconciliation intervened in one thing which is city evacuation

Nun Fadia Allaham entered the city and asked for guarantees, I was one of those who helped her and secured her, as she can take out whomever she wants, we told her to act as she wants.

First day 13/10/2013, about 1000 civilians came out, the next day almost 2000 civilians gathered , but only 500 of them could leave and they told the rest for tomorrow .

when the people gathered, Fadia and her friends arrived, she told us that she prepared buses for men to go out not just women, they told her continue with children and women temporarily

After a while, almost 10 minutes, shelling on Free Syrian Army barriers, which was almost 200 miters away from regime’s barriers ,was started, then shelling on civilians who were trapped in the middle, victims were from FSA then women and children.

Thousands of civilians were trapped in the city.”
Testimony of one of the displaced, where she was there during the shelling, and refused to disclose her identity

“First thing the agreement became between day and night, no one knew about it ..

who arrange the agreement is two persons of Moadamyah ( Samir and Ali Ghandour ), for sure they lived outside Moadamyah, but they found that this is the best solution, the mediation between the regime and Moadamyah’s residents were Red Cross and Nun Fadia Allaham.

Indeed the first three days, many civilians have been evacuated

good number of them

who get out alone survived, but those who rode regime’s buses , they prevent them to get out the places where they kept them until they have someone out of Moadamyah to sign guarantee for them, ( that’s mean if he/she has someone to ensure they will let him out, if not he/she will stay )

When people get out of Moadamyah, security forces checked the ID’s to see if they have their names or not, many detention cases took place.

Of course who get out not only from Moadamyah, also from Daria

next day almost 3000 civilians tried to go out, and gathered at buses point.

Then shelling from 4th division started on this area, they were in, which is near Asia factories at Jdidt Artouz side ( the west side of the city ) , particularly Arbaeen highway.

First, the regime shelled by one mortar, amost 50 meter far away from civilians.

Team of Red Cross and Nun withdrew directly.

after their withdrawal, artillery shelling on civilians started, many of them fell between victims and injuries

Free Syrian Army intervened, and tried to evacuate civilians, ambulance injuries, and take victims.

Clashes between FSA and regime’s forces that tried to take civilians as humans shields, the civilians already are humans shields in this area, because it is occupied by the regime…

Two of the government forces were dead, and five get injured

FSA eventually could move civilians of Daria and Moadamyah to inside of Moadamyah via fields

Fields area usually one of the most targeted areas, because usually FSA holed there.

That’s mean they back again to worse besiege, shelling was continuing in that moment very badly.

Who went out by his car alone, he could get his relatives, people who went with regime, they took them to a school in Qudsia suburb.”

==================================

Evidences:

Video shows civilians, children and women, used as human shields in Moadamyah during their displacement:

http://youtu.be/YBDPt_ZGGTg

Video shows injuries from shelling civilians gathering’s point during their displacement with Red Cross:

http://youtu.be/Am6QoYOQsNM

http://youtu.be/DQK-yNCX-Qw

Video shows shelling on displacements gathering point:

http://youtu.be/vpFjjg7ti8c

==============================

Government forces imposed a severe besiege on these villages, which makes it extremely difficult to provide medical and food supplies, and deprived hundreds of families who now must leave and move to safe areas.  This is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law governing conflict in Syria, where they should allow the provision ofof food and medicine, and if there is a need to take the approval from the Syrian Government and also allow them to carry out inspections of those convoys, but it is illegal to prevent these convoys abusively as they are now, and are considered as a form of collective punishment of the civilians.  Here, the international community must intervene urgently to provide humanitarian relief in Moadamyah and save them from being starved to death.

Exert real pressure on the Syrian Government to give all medical and food aids and to allow civilians to leave.  They should pressure the Syrian Government to obey them and hand over its stock of chemical weapons under threat of force.

A Video Satire of Women’s Driving Restrictions in Saudi Arabia Goes Viral

Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi women campaigning for the right to drive in Saudi Arabia have received support from a group of Saudi comedians whose satirical view of the ban forbidding women in Saudi Arabia from getting behind the wheel of a car continues to draw international attention to the campaign for women’s rights.

“No Women, No Drive” has received more than 6 million views since it was posted to YouTube over the weekend (Photo courtesy of the New York Times)

Their video, No Woman, No Drive, is a satirical play on the Bob Marley classic song “No Woman, No Cry,” has gone viral YouTube, receiving more than 6.5 million views since it was posted on Saturday.

One of the video’s creators, Saudi Arabian performer Hisham Fageeh, is well known in the Arab-speaking world for his comic videos on YouTube, which often contain a social commentary.

The tune mocks the country’s ultraconservative restrictions that ban women from operating vehicle and require them to be in the company of a male guardian for several activities. The video also mocked the claim by one Saudi cleric that if women were allowed to operate a vehicle it could damage their ovaries and affect reproduction. Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan’s, a leading figure in Saudi Arabia, argued that “if a woman drives a car, it could have a negative physiological impact … Medical studies show that it would automatically affect a woman’s ovaries and that it pushes the pelvis upward.” He argued that the ban prevents reproductive problems.  Al-Loheidan said, “We find that for women who continuously drive cars, their children are born with varying degrees of clinical problems.”

Well known on the Arabic-speaking web for his funny YouTube videos, which often contain a degree of social commentary, Hisam Fageeh has posted a new video spoofing his country’s practice of forbidding women from attaining driver’s licenses. Fageeh parodies the Bob Marley song “No woman, no cry” with lyrics lampooning Saudi Arabia’s car-related gender restrictions, which Saudi women are challenging this week with a mass protest drive.

Fageeh continued to mock the country’s ban on Monday after at least 60 women took to the road in protest of the ban on over the weekend. In a post on Twitter, he jokingly suggested that young, unpredictable, teenage male drivers are more of a danger to the public than adult women drivers. He tweeted “Just got hit by another car driven by a teenage male while doing a phone interview about #NoWomanNoDrive” with the hashtags #NoTeenagerNoDrive, #Saudi and #Irony.

Tamador Alyami, an activist and blogger in the city of Jeddah, who drove last week, said she appreciated the video and appreciated the satirical comedy at this stressful time for the women’s rights movement. She said, “It cracked me up. I laughed, and I shared it with everybody. I wanted it to have the same effect on them because it eased up a lot of the tension I was feeling.”

For further information, please see:

CNN International – Saudi Cleric Warns Driving Could Damage Women’s Ovaries – 30 October 2013

Huffington Post UK – Saudi Comic’s ‘No Woman, No Drive’ Video Goes Viral – 30 October 2013

The New York Times – Saudi Men Sing ‘No Woman, No Drive’ In Mock Homage To Ban On Female Drivers – 30 October 2013

The Daily Beast – ‘No Woman, No Drive’: Behind the Viral Video – 28 October 2013

The Washington Post – ‘No Woman, No Drive’: Saudi Arabian music video spoofs ban on female drivers – 27 October 2013

 

 

 

Thousands Urgently Need Pain Relief in Senegal

By: Danielle L. Gwozdz
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Africa

DAKAR, Senegal – Human Rights Watch has released a report stating that thousands of patients in Senegal suffer from excruciating pain every year without any type of relief.  The reason is due to unnecessarily restrictive government regulations and poor training for healthcare workers, which impede their effective medical treatment.

Patient in Senegal suffering without any pain relief (photo courtesy of Angela Chung, HRW).

Patients are in need of pain relief to reduce suffering from prolonged illnesses, like cancer, but only a few hundred have access to medications, such as morphine.

Human Rights Watch says each year 70,000 people need this pain relief and that Senegal needs to integrate palliative care measures into its regular health care system.

This came from HRW’s 85-page report titled, “Abandoned in Agony: Cancer and the Struggle for Pain Treatment in Senegal.”

Morphine is an essential and inexpensive medication for treatment of severe pain, but Senegal only imports about one kilogram of morphine each year – enough to treat only 200 cancer patients. HRW also found that morphine is unavailable outside of Dakar, Senegal’s capital.

Frequent shortages limit access to the medication in the capital as well.

The reports also explain that an estimated 80 percent of patients with advanced HIV suffer from moderate to severe pain throughout the course of their illness.

Worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) claims that approximately 80 percent of people have no or insufficient access to treatment for such pain.

“Many thousands of cancer patients and other Senegalese suffer unnecessary agony because they can’t get morphine to treat their pain,” said Angela Chung, health and human rights fellow at Human Rights Watch.

“Senegalese officials should ask themselves whether they would want their own parents or children – or themselves – to suffer such pain when there is a cheap and effective way to relieve it.”

The Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance says the situation is particularly bad in sub-Saharan Arica, where only six countries – South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Swaziland – have made palliative care programs part of their national health plans.

Palliative care in Senegal, and a lot of sub-Saharan countries in general, is very poorly developed because it’s not seen as a priority,” Chung said. “I think people might erroneously assume that cancer is something you get in a developed country, but it’s actually a huge problem in Africa and it’s increasing every year.”

People suffering from disease must often travel as much as 10 to 15 hours just for some pain relief.

HRW interviewed more than 170 patients, family members, medical personnel, and officials about the problem. Many patients, however, said they were in too much pain even to be interviewed.

“I am in pain 24 hours a day,” said a 47-year-old man in Dakar who has prostate cancer and suffers during morphine shortages.

“You cannot believe the pain I have all over my body. It is in my bones. I cannot have a real life without my medication. I try to bear the pain for 2 or 3 days, and when I cannot handle it I will take one pill . . . I went to all the pharmacies and they do not sell it.”

For more information, please visit: 

Human Rights Watch – Senegal: Thousands Urgently Need Pain Relief – 24 October 2013
Tolerance – Senegal: Thousands Urgently Need Pain Relief – 24 October 2013
Leuk Senegal –
Senegal: Thousands Urgently Need Pain Relief – 70,000 a Year Suffer Torment for Lack of Treatment – 25 October 2013
RSS Pump News – Senegal – Thousands Urgently Need Pain Relief – 70000 a Year Suffer Torment – 24 October 2013
My Legal Right –
Senegal: Thousands Urgently Need Pain Relief – 24 October 2013
allAfrica –
Senegal: Rights Group Presses for Chronic Pain Care in Senegal – 25 October 2013

Lebanese Military Deployed to Tripoli Amid Rising Community Violence

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BEIRUT, Lebanon–Two people were killed Monday in northern Lebanon in a fight that broke out between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime and the Lebanese military, which is struggling to control tensions and prevent outbreaks of violence stemming from the Syrian civil war.

Flag’s flown in pro-Assad demonstration by supporters of Hezbollah (Photo courtesy of The Jerusalem Post)

Monday’s violence was the latest in a series of clashes that have broken out since last Tuesday. 17 people have been killed and more than 100 people wounded since the violence began last week. The fighting broke out in the Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen districts of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city located about 30 miles from the Syrian border.

Communities in Lebanon are deeply divided between supporters and opponents of the Assad regime. Supporters of the Hezbollah movement within Lebanon have sent fighters and resources into Syria to support the Assad regime while Sunni organizations have also sent fighters and smuggled weapons and other resources into Syria to support Syrian Rebels.

Lebanon’s interim government deployed the Lebanese army to Tripoli on Monday in response to last week’s violence. The conflict in Syria has exacerbated tensions in Lebanese communities, supporters of Hezbollah and supporters of Sunni Organizations have accused each other of using the city of Tripoli as a base for organizing and sending, fighters, weapons and other resources across the border into Syria. Lebanon’s acting Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that “security forces will take every step to put an end to the violence and chaos.”

The sudden influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanese communities, including Tripoli, has raised community tensions and placed new strains on the state. Syrian refugees now make up a quarter of Lebanon’s population. The refugee crisis has spread the countries institutional systems thin and raised tensions in the region.

While Lebanon has remained in relative state of peace following the 2006 civil war the influx of Syrian refugees into the state since the start of the Syrian civil war has put new strains on state resources and has sparked a rise in tensions between communities.

By this time last year 300,000 Syrian Refugees has crossed the border into Lebanon. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expects that by early next year, two million refugees will have crossed into Lebanon. One in four people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee, the sudden influx of people into the Lebanon population has left rescues stretched thin in the state, and the crime rate has increased by 30% over the past year.

Lebanon is still struggling to support 400,000 Palestinian refugees who remain in the country, many of whom are livening in desperate poverty and in communities where violence is common. As a result of this bitter experience Lebanon has so far failed to provide basic services to Syrian refugees, unlike Jordan, which has accepted a large number so Syrian refugees, Lebanon has so far refused to provide refugee camps. Shelters cannot have more than a basic timber-and-plastic frame, so far the building of permanent and semi-permanent structures by refugees has been prohibited.

For more information please see:

Al Jazeera – Lebanon army deploys amid violence in Tripoli – 28 October 2013

Reuters – Two die in northern Lebanon in spillover from Syria war – 28 October 2013

The Guardian – Lebanon suffers under the strain of a refugee crisis now out of control – 26 October 2013

Jerusalem Post – Syrian civil war spreads to Lebanese city of Tripoli – 27 October 2013

Magnitsky’s Mother Sues Russian Prosecutor Who Organized the Cover-Up of Her Son’s Death

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Distribution

29 October 2013 – Nataliya Magnitskaya, the mother of the late whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, has sued Russian Deputy Prosecutor Victor Grin for his role in exonerating all Interior Ministry officials who falsely arrested and tortured her son in custody. The lawsuit will be heard on Wednesday, 30 October 2013, at 11 am at the Moscow City Court(http://www.mosgorsud.ru/sudz/apellechionnaya_instance/ua/?pn=13).

“The conclusion by Deputy General Prosecutor of Russia …unquestionably violates the rights of Mr Magnitsky’s mother ..and is in deep contradiction with the conclusions by members of the President’s Council on Human Rights,” says the complaint filed by Mrs Magnitskaya’s lawyer.

In his own review of the case, Deputy General Prosecutor of Russia Victor Grin stated that no violations were found in the acts of Interior Ministry officials on the Magnitsky case. It was issued on the request of the Russian Investigative Committee in 2011 and was used by the Investigative Committee to justify not opening any criminal investigation into those officials.

A local district court in Moscow earlier refused Mrs Magnitskaya’sapplication. The refusal was issued by district court judge Igor Alisov, who also posthumously convicted the late Magnitsky in July in the first ever trial of a dead man in Russian history. Judge Alisov has since been promoted by order of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Moscow City Court.

The lawsuit filed by Mrs Magnitskaya’s lawyer also asserts that the decision by judge Alisov was backdated and that it was then covered up.

“The decree [by judge Alisov] is unlawful, there are signs of falsification in its issuance,” says the complaint filed with the Moscow City Court.

According to the complaint, judge Alisov told Mrs Magnitskaya’s lawyer on 17 April 2013 that he had not yet considered the complaint. A month later, judge Alisov sent a refusal to consider the complaint dated 27 March 2013, i.e. three weeks before the meeting with the lawyer.

A probe was then carried out by the Tverskoi district court chair Ms Solopova into this discrepancy which found “carelessness” in the acts of judge Alisov. The probe was based on the “oral conversation held with judge Alisov on 6 September 2013” in which judge Alisov explained the identified discrepancy by “the work overload, the lack of attention during the production of the court order.”

The challenge brought by Mrs Magnitskaya is one in a series of lawsuits in which she seeks to compel the Russian state to bring to justice those responsible for the arrest, torture and murder of her 37-year old son.

For further information, please see:

Law and Order in Russia

China Announces Two Suspects in Tiananmen Square Car Crash

By Brian Lanciault
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China– Chinese police have announced two suspects, reportedly from the tense Xinjiang region, after a car crash at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square resulted in the deaths of five people.  Analysts said the incident looked like a premeditated attack.

Business resumed as usual at Tiananmen Square, after a deadly crash injured 38 and killed five. Chinese authorities have announced two suspects involved in the incident. (Photo Courtesy of AP)

The crash — in which an SUV drove along the pavement through crowds and then caught fire at the capital’s well-known sensitive site — killed three people in the car and two tourists, according to Beijing police.

The square lies next to the Forbidden City, a former imperial palace and top tourist attraction.  It was the location of pro-democracy protests in 1989 that were violently crushed by authorities, garnering international attention.

Police identified two suspects and four license plates, all from Xinjiang, in relation to a “major case” on Monday. The notification was posted in hotels across the area.

Police instructed hotels to be on alert for “suspicious” guests and motor vehicles.  Security guards from several hotels in Beijing confirmed they had received a police notice.

A version posted online by 64tianwang.com, a Sichuan-based human rights news site, gave the suspects’ names, identity numbers and registered residences, while urging hotels to report any potentially relevant information.

The authenticity of these reports has not been confirmed.

Xinjiang, in China’s far west, is home to ethnic minority and largely Muslim Uighurs.

State media has reported several violent incidents there and a rising militant threat. Uighur rights groups complain of ethnic and religious repression, in an area where information is tightly controlled.

Police have arrested 140 people in Xinjiang in the past months for allegedly spreading jihad. Twenty-two Uighurs were killed in August in an “anti-terrorism” operation, the official news agency Xinhua reported.

One of the suspects named in the notice was from Lukqun, where state media said 35 people were killed in June in what Beijing had labeled a “terrorist attack”.

Chinese political expert, Willy Lam, said the Tiananmen incident “looks like a terrorist attack” but warned that more information was necessary to reach such a strong conclusion.

“If it is indeed a terrorist attack it shows that Beijing’s efforts in trying to stamp out terrorism have not been very successful,” he added.

But Ilham Tohti, a prominent Uighur intellectual, said the police notice was not definitively linked to the Tiananmen crash, and even if a Xinjiang car was involved, it would not establish that members of the minority were responsible.

“Some media has suggested it was a terrorist attack carried out by Uighurs, without evidence being produced,” he said.

“I worry that this event, even though it may have nothing to do with Uighurs, could lead local governments to increase repression and discrimination.”

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying declined to elaborate on the incident at a press briefing, but said that while Xinjiang “enjoys sound economic and social development”, it sometimes experiences violence and “terrorism”.

“We sternly oppose and crack down on such incidents to ensure the safety and security of society as well as people’s lives and properties,” she added.

The reports and witnesses said the SUV drove along the pavement outside the Forbidden City on the north side of the square before crashing into the crowd.

In addition to the five fatalities — one of them a female tourist from the Philippines — another 38 people were injured, police said.

Images posted on Chinese social media sites showed the blazing shell of the car and tall plumes of black smoke.

The square appeared normal on Tuesday, with no sign of any damage at the crash site.

For more information, please see:

BBC News– Tiananmen crash: China police ‘seek Xinjiang suspects’— 29 October 2013

LA Times– China leaders were nearby during apparent Tiananmen Square attack— 29 October 2013

New York Times– Beijing Crash May Be Tied to Unrest in Xinjiang — 28 October 2013

AFP– China names suspects after Tiananmen crash — 29 October 2013

Reuters– China suspects Tiananmen crash a suicide attack— 29 October 2013

U.S. Drone Strike Kills Two Somalians

By Brandon Cottrell
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America 

MOGADISHU, Somalia – A United States military strike in Somalia today has left at least two members of the al-Shabab military group dead.  Of those killed, was the group’s top explosives expert.  It is also believed that an al-Shaba commander linked to past suicide bombings was also killed in the strike.

A U.S. drone strike killed at least two members of the al-Shabab militant group (Photo Courtesy CNN).

According to Abu Mohamed, an al-Shabab member, the drone was fired at a vehicle traveling in Somalia’s Middle Juba region.  While it is not clear how he knew it was a drone strike, he said that he did not see any helicopters in the sky.

Other witnesses also confirmed that a strike had occurred and that at least two Somali men had been killed.  Several witnesses also reported seeing a drone flying away from the scene.  One of those witnesses said that he “came to the scene shortly after [he heard loud bangs] . . . [and] saw two dead bodies.  Then al-Shabab fighters came . . . and took the bodies.”

Another witness also weighed in, saying that “We don’t know who was killed but I can confirm that there was an attack, aircraft sounded over the sky and a few minutes later a heavy explosion followed. No one can dare go to check what happened, the Shebab will kill you.”

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, further confirmed the strike when he said that there was a US counterterrorism strike against a target in Somalia.  He, however, did not give any further details.

Today’s drone strike comes less than a month after a US Navy SEAL operation in Somali, where they tried to capture or kill Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, who is one of the lead planners al-Shabab attacks.  Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, speaking about the Navy SEAL operation, said that, “While the operation did not result in [a] capture, [the operation] demonstrated that the United States can put direct pressure on al Shabab leadership at any time of our choosing.”

Furthermore, todays drone strike  indicates that US remotely piloted attacks are continuing even though President Obama has stated that the use of drone strikes, which has been criticized for causing civilian causalities, could and would be constrained.

For more information, please see:

CBS News – U.S. Drone Strike Kills Two Suspected Al-Shabab Militants In Somalia – 28 October 2013

Global Post – US Drone Strike Against Shebab In Somalia – 28 October 2013 

NBC News – US Kills Two Top Leaders Of Terror Group That Attacked Kenya Mall – 28 October 2013

Washington Times – U.S. Drone Strike Kills Two Al Shabaab Terrorists In Somalia – 28 October 2013

U.S. Ambassador to Spain Meets with Spanish Authorities Amid Latest NSA Spying Allegations

by Tony Iozzo
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MADRID, Spain – Spanish authorities have called on the United State Ambassador to Spain, James Costos, to discuss alleged spying by the U.S. National Security Administration on Spanish citizens.

U.S. Ambassador to Spain, James Costos, met with Spanish authorities after the El Mundo story came out. (Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

The Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, produced a graphic which it claimed to be an NSA document that had recorded information on over 60.5 million phone calls in Spain between December 10, 2012 and January 8 of earlier this year.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry issued a statement after a meeting between Spain’s Secretary of State for the European Union, Inigo Mendez de Vigo, and U.S. ambassador to Spain James Costos.

“Spain has relayed to the United States the importance of preserving a climate of trust and its interest in understanding the full reach of practices that, if true, would be considered inappropriate and unacceptable between allies,” the Spanish foreign ministry stated.

“We will continue to confer with our allies, such as Spain, through our regular diplomatic channels to address the concerns that they have raised,” Costos said in a statement.

Madrid has also asked the United States to provide additional data from the NSA about this alleged surveillance. U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered a review of U.S. surveillance programs after Snowden leaked documents that raised alarm in the U.S. and abroad.

Spain has so far resisted calls from Germany for the European Union’s 28-member states to reach a “no-spy deal”, after reports that the NSA monitored the phone of German chancellor Angela Merkel.

El Mundo has stated it had reached a deal with Glenn Greenwald, the Brazil-based journalist who has worked with other media sources on information provided to him by Snowden, to gain access to these documents about the phone surveillance. El Mundo stated the telephone monitoring did not appear to track the content of calls but recorded information about their duration and location.

Representatives from the European Union are expected to meet with officials in Washington, D.C. to convey their concerns this week. The representatives from the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs are expected to speak with members of the U.S. Congress and security officials to gather more information about the recent allegations of U.S. spying on European leaders and citizens.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Spain Summons US Ambassador Over Spying – 28 October 2013

BBC News – NSA Surveillance: Spain Demands U.S. Explain “Monitoring” – 28 October 2013

The Independent – NSA “Tapped 60m Spanish Phone Calls” as Country Joins France and Germany in Latest Snowden Revelations – 28 October 2013

New York Times – Spain Summons U.S. Ambassador in Spying Scandal – 28 October 2013

 

 

SNHR: Urgent Appeal

More than 3,000 residents of Sadad village (south east Homs) are now trapped in the village after clashes between the the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other armed groups from one hand, and regime forces from the other.  Both conflicting parties have imposed a curfew, preventing residents from leaving their homes, and food and medical supplies are running low due to the curfew.

Syrian Network for Human Rights calls on the concerning international aid organizations, especially the International Committee of the Red Cross, to respond quickly and evacuate the civilians.

SNHR also calls on these international bodies to exert real pressure on the conflicting parties to allow civilians to leave or at least admit entrance to those providing humanitarian and medical assistance.

Saudi Women Defy Driving Ban

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – More than 60 Saudi women claimed to have answered the call for women across the country to defy the state law forbidding women from driving in Saudi Arabia. This display of civil disobedience took place on Saturday, when activists for women’s rights across Saudi Arabia called on women to get behind the wheel of a car in defiance of the ultra-conservative state’s discriminatory laws.

Saudi women defy driving ban across the country on October 26 (Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

The campaign for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, particularly the campaign for the right of women to drive, has gained international attention on social media after numerous Saudi women filmed themselves driving in open defiance of the law and posted the videos to YouTube.

Saudi authorities stopped five women who were spotted driving in Riyadh. Fawaz Al-Meeman, an assistant spokesmen for the Riyadh police, said, “each case was dealt with accordingly.” He explained that the women were not taken to police stations. Instead, they were detained in their vehicles until their male guardians arrived at the scene, at which point they were released into the custody of their guardians.

Mai Al-Swayan posted a video to YouTube showing her driving from her home to a nearby grocery store in defiance of the law. She said, “I drove on the highway and was noticed by a couple of cars but they were fine with it.”

While Riyadh police did not take any women to police stations for breaking the law banning women from driving, that was not the case in other cities. In Jeddah, photographer Samia El-Moslimany said she was taken into custody for having driven a car. She said she was taken to a police station where another woman was being detained for having driven a car.

Saudi Arabia’s spokesman for the Interior Ministry Mansour Al-Turki said Saturday was a “normal day, just like every Saturday,” and said that he was not aware of any violations to the driving law, but regional police spokesmen said that if violations of the ban on women driving did occur, they would be dealt with. “Not just on the 26th. Before and after. At all times.”

The Interior Ministry issued a warning earlier in the week in response to the calls of activists women who openly defy the law. The warning was issued to women caught driving as well as anyone taking part in demonstrations.

Adam Coogle, a Saudi Arabia researcher for Human Rights Watch said the discriminatory driving laws in Saud Arabia are shameful and that the Saudi Interior Ministry is trying to “deflate the momentum” behind the activists campaign through “direct, individual intimidation.”

There is not a specific traffic law that prohibits women from driving in Saudi Arabia, but religious edicts are often interpreted to mean women are not allowed to operate a vehicle.

Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan, a prominent religious figure in Saudi Arabia, claimed that driving can have a negative impact on a women’s ovaries. He claimed that “medical studies show that it would automatically affect a woman’s ovaries and that it pushes the pelvis upward.”

For more information please see:

Al Jazeera – Saudi Women Defy Driving Ban across Country – 27 October 2013

CNN – Saudi Arabia Women Defy Authorities Over Female Driving Ban – 26 October 2013

CNN – Why Saudi Arabia Can’t Ban Women from Driving Forever – 25 October 2013

CNN – Saudi Cleric Warns Driving Could Damage Women’s Ovaries – 30 September 2013

 

German Intelligence Delegates Will Visit White House to Discuss Spying

by Michael Yoakum
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States –  The National Security Agency (NSA) has been listening in on calls made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the past ten years according to German Language news service Der Spiegel. Chancellor Merkel, outraged by the news, summoned the US ambassador for the first time in decades.

In response to news of NSA spying, officials from Germany and France have asked the United States to sign a no spying deal by the end of the year. (Photo courtesy of BBC News)

German government spokesman Georg Streiter announced that officials from Germany’s foreign and domestic intelligence agencies will be traveling to the United States to talk with White House and NSA officials sometime in the near future.

“We are seeking a basis for cooperation between our [intelligence] services, which we all need and from which we have all received a great deal of information … that is transparent, that is clear and is in keeping with the character of being partners,” Merkel said.

European Union leaders, angry over allegations of widespread NSA spying, have reluctantly agreed to maintain their partnership with the United States.  Analysts suspect France and Germany may be seeking an arrangement similar to the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing agreement the United States has had with the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada since just after World War II.

News of Chancellor Merkel’s phone calls being bugged is just one of several reports that surfaced last week detailing widespread NSA spying.  Headlines in European newspapers this past week have included allegations that the NSA has been spying on millions of French citizens. Additionally, a British newspaper says it has obtained a confidential memo detailing NSA spying on 35 foreign leaders back in 2006.

A statement released by EU leaders Friday warned that “[a] lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field of intelligence-gathering.”

President Obama ordered a review of U.S. surveillance programs after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing widespread spying operations that outraged US citizens.

For more information, please see:

NBC News – US spied on German leader Merkel’s phone since 2002: report – 26 October 2013

Times of India – German spy chiefs to head to US for talks – 26 October 2013

ABC News – Germany, France Want US to Agree to Curb Spying – 25 October 2013

BBC News – Top German spy chiefs to go to Washington for talks – 25 October 2013

TIME – Germans Coming to U.S. On Heels of Snooping Reports – 25 October 2013