Yazidi Target of Sexual Violence and Other War Crimes Committed by Islamic State  

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Jana, a 19 year old girl, was finishing her final year of secondary school with hopes of one day becoming a doctor when her village was taking over by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Jana belongs to Iraq’s Yazidis religious minority. The Yazidis are a Kurdish community who practice Yazidism, an ancient faith with strong ties to Zoroastrianism and ancient Mesopotamian religions that has been heavily influenced by both Islam and Christianity. Yazidism is practiced by Kurdish communities that are practiced in both Iraq and Syria.

 

According to a United Nation’s report ISIS fighters “gathered all the males older than 10 years of age at the local school, took them outside the village by pick-up trucks, and shot them.”Among those believed to have been murdered by ISIS fighters were Jana’s father and eldest brother.

“I was hiding behind a water tank in the front yard and saw them killing my father and brother and [taking] away my mother and sister. I don’t know anything about them since” a 14-year-old Yazidi girl living in a refugee camp in Iraq’s Duhok governorate. A19 year old Yazidi said “They put us in trucks and drove us to a big building, before transferring us to a hall across the road. She continued, “Then their seniors came and started condemning our religion and asking us to convert to Islam … They separated me along with other young ones and ordered us to stay there while taking away the elderly women. She added, “The man I was given to raped me several times and then left me in the room on my own. I was shaking from pain and fear in that hot room, my entire body sweating. Suddenly, another man came and did what he wanted to do despite me crying and begging him, kissing his foot to leave me alone …”

Thousands of Yazidi women and girls have abducted by ISIS fighters, many were taken during their attack on the Sinjar district on 2 August 2014. 2,500 girls and women were abducted during the attack on Sinjar. Since then, one hundred girls and women have managed to escape their jailers and rejoin their community.

The enslaved women have become a source of income for the ISIS group. Treated like cattle, they are trafficked in markets in Mosul in Iraq, and Raqqa in Syria. The women and girls are often sold for between $25 and $1,000. Women who resisted are killed and many have committed suicide, some Yazidi who managed to get their stories out of ISIS controlled territories have said they would rather face death than life as a sex slave.

Enslavement of women has been used as a weapon of war by ISIS, it is used as a means of subjecting the community, dissolve family units and even pollute the bloodlines of the populations targeted by ISIS. Some young girls were “cheaply sold” and mainly given to young boys as a way of recruiting them into the ISIS ranks.  ISIS itself publically encourages that taking of women as spoils of war and as a form of punishment of those they consider “infidels.” The organization claimed “One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar — the infidels — and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law,” in the ISIS propaganda publication “Dabiq.”

Kurdish authorities say they have rescued around 100 Yazidi women, in part through the payment of ransoms to Arab tribesmen who acted as intermediaries. However, thousands of women remain enslaved by the ISIS group.

For More Information Please See:

CNN International – ‘Treated Like Cattle’: Yazidi Women Sold, Raped, Enslaved By ISIS – 30 October 2014

CNN International – Why ISIS’s Treatment of Yazidi Women Must Be Treated As Genocide – 30 October 2014

International Business Times – ISIS News: ‘Raped, Abused’ Yazidi Women Beg West To Bomb Their Brothel and Kill Them [VIDEO] – 30 October 2014

Al Jazeera – Traumatized By ISIL, Yazidis Seek Help – 28 October 2014

Ecuador Right Behind U.S. in Gender Equality

By Delisa Morris,

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

QUITO, Ecuador–President Rafael Correa highlighted and appreciated advances in gender equality on Wednesday, acknowledging the recently released World Economic Forum report, Global Gender Gap for 2014.

President of Ecuador Rafael Correa / Photo courtesy of telesurtv.net

“Finally, gender justice in the country,” said President Correa via his Twitter account. Ecuador currently stands as the second most equal country in Latin America, following Nicaragua, which ranks as the 6th most equal country in the world.

The report ranked Ecuador at 21 for global gender equality.  Iceland was found to be the most equal, followed by Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

On a scale of 0.00 of inequality to 1.00 of complete equality, Ecuador obtained an overall score of 0.745.  This ranking takes into account the four distinct categories of: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.  Ecuador scored above average in all areas.

Factors include wage equality, labor force participation, literacy rate, enrollment in primary education, healthy life expectancy and number of women in ministerial positions.

Females play a strong role in Ecuador’s political life, standing at 29 percent inclusion. Currently the ministers of Justice, Social Inclusion, Health, Transport and Public Works, the Coordinating Minister of Social Development, President of the National Assembly and the two Vice Presidents of the National Assembly are positions held by women in Ecuador.

In the area of education, women obtained ratings surpassing men.  Enrollment in primary education stood at 1.01, secondary education at 1.03 and tertiary education 1.15. The total score for women in the category of educational attainment stood at 0.996, as literacy rate is at 0.098.  The average for all sampled countries for educational attainment stands at 0.935, therefore Ecuador was above average.

The World Economic Forum has been publishing reports on gender equality since 2006.  The company reports on gender equality in 142 nations around the world.

Ecuador’s current standing sharply contrasts with its standing at 82 in 2006. Following the election of President Correa in 2007, Ecuador’s ranking dropped drastically to 44.

The Global Gender Gap Report seeks to represent the gender based disparities which are found worldwide. The country rankings are provided to provide comparison and create awareness of the gender gaps existing in today’s world, and the opportunities that could be generated through greater female inclusion.

Through the study, the correlation between female inclusion and the long term economic competitiveness of countries is tracked to devise mechanisms to reduce the gender gap. Currently, the gender gap for economic participation worldwide stands at 60 percent.

Cuba followed Ecuador with a ranking at 30, Argentina (31), Peru at (45), Panama (46), Chile (66), Brazil (71), Mexico (80), Venezuela (86), and Guatemala (89).

For more information, please see:

telesur – Strides in Gender Equality Recognized in Ecuador – 29 Oct. 2014

World Economic Forum – Top 10 most gender equal countries in Latin America and the Caribbean – 28 Oct. 2014

Buenos Aires Herald – Country is strong in gender equality index – 29 Oct. 2014

telesur – Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador Among World’s Best for Women Representation – 28 Oct. 2014

Over 1,000 people evacuated in the face of floods in Buenos Aires City

By Delisa Morris, 

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Heavy rain and strong winds plummeted Buenos Aires Tuesday night forcing over 1,000 people to evacuate the city due to flooding.  Fallen trees and power outages were among the wet conditions flowing into Wednesday evening.

People wade through flood water in Argentina / Photo courtesy of CNN.com

Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said power outages have been applied in certain areas as a preventive measure, and confirmed 5,000 policemen have been sent to the 17 damaged areas with water, food and mattresses to aid local governments.

The most damaged areas are in Buenos Aires province. For instance in Marcos Paz, 60 kilometers away from Argentina’s capital, 120 families had to be evacuated, while in Coronel Pringles, 500 kilometers away from Buenos Aires city, 450 people decided to leave the area.

The Municipality of Lujan also issued a red alert due to the dangerous 4-meter rise of the Lujan River during the storms.  Local firemen informed reporters that, 12 families had to be evacuated.

“The river is growing at a rate of 20 centimeters per hour,” the fire department told reporters.

Roof collapses and structural damage to buildings has been attributed to the strong winds in the city of Bragado.  Local firemen told reporters the city appears to have been hit by a “tornado”.

Capitanich confirmed the city was hit by a tornado during a press conference today, and stated Bragado was the most damaged city so far.

Though many people have been evacuated and 70 houses have been damaged, no injured people have been registered.

In Buenos Aires City, more than 100 trees have collapsed due to the strong winds, Civil Defense director Daniel Russo informed.

Bus and train services have been interrupted.

Delays were also noted on the General Paz highway at the level of the Oeste freeway and the San Martín Avenue, due to water accumulation.

On the Puente Pueyrredón Bridge, water was completely covering the road, prompting traffic chaos.

Furthermore, flight delays and 30 cancellations have been registered in both the International Ezeiza Airport and the City’s Metropolitan Airport.

In 2013, one of the heaviest storms recorded in Argentina killed dozens of people in the province and forced thousands more to evacuate.

For more information, please see:

Buenos Aires Herald – Over 1,000 people evacuated over floods in BA City province – 29 Oct. 2014

NBC News – Heavy Downpours Cause Flooding in Buenos Aires – 29 Oct. 2014

BBC News – Rains and winds lash Buenos Aires province, Argentina – 29 Oct. 2014

Fox News Latino – Storm forces evacuation of 1,000 people in Argentina – 29 Oct. 2014

Burkina Faso President Declares State of Emergency and Dissolves Government

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso – Protesters have taken to the streets in Burkina Faso angry at plans to allow Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore, whose has held office for 27 years, to extend his term as President. On Thursday the protesters set fire to parliament. Reporters say the protesters set ablaze to the nation’s parliament as well as City Hall and the ruling party headquarters are also in flames in the capital, Ouagadougou. Some of the protesters also ransacked the state television station and attempted to storm other government buildings.

protesters took to the streets of Burkina Faso on Thursday after learning their president would be seeking a change in national law to allow him to serve another term. (Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

President Blaise Compaore responded to the protests by declaring a state of emergency, an act that will dissolve his government. “I dissolve the government from today so as to create conditions for change,” the statement from the President said. It was unclear where the President was when the statement was issued. The President also reportedly said he is open to talks with the opposition. “I’m calling on the leaders of the political opposition to put an end to the protests. I’m pledging from today to open talks with all the actors to end the crisis.”

Army General Honore Traore, the joint chief of staff, also said that the government and parliament had been dissolved on Thursday. “A state of emergency is declared across the national territory. The chief of the armed forces is in charge of implementing this decision which enters into effect today,” said a statement read by a presenter on Radio Omega FM.

Protesters in the capital Ouagadougou, ransacked government offices and set fire to cars, before attacking the national television headquarters. While Police had tried to control the crowds using tear gas, the demonstrators were able to push through the barricades. The protesters chanted “It is over for the regime!” and “We do not want him again!” as they advanced. The ruling party headquarters in Burkina Faso’s second city of Bobo Dioulasso as well as the city hall were also torched by protesters.

“It is difficult to say what happens next, but things are out of control because the demonstrators do not listen to anyone,” Ablasse Ouedraogo, an opposition politician said. Benewende Sankara, another opposition leader said “the president must deal with the consequences.”

The African Union expressed “deep concern” over the ongoing violence and said it would be sending a high-level delegation to the country, while the European Union urged a “constructive dialogue.” Journalists and protesters have been sharing stories using social media as events unfold in Burkina Faso using the #lwili hashtag.

For more information please see:

Al Jazeera – Burkina Faso Declares State of Emergency – 30 October 2014
BBC News – Burkina Faso Parliament Set Ablaze – 30 October 2014
BBC News – Burkina Faso President Declares State Of Emergency – 30 October 2014
The Wall Street Journal – Army Seizes Power in Burkina Faso – 30 October 2014

Tunisia Decides: Country that Ignited the Arab Spring Holds Historic Elections

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

TUNIS, Tunisia – On December 17, 2010 Mohammed Bouazizi, a disenchanted fruit seller, committed an act of self-immolation in protest of the Tunisian state. Bouazizi’s actions would set in motion a chain of events that would forever change Tunisia, a historical authoritarian state, and spread across the Arab World. After his protests thousands of Tunisians took to the streets demanding an end to authoritarian rule in their country. Today the country that ignited the Arab Spring is on the verge of becoming a full democracy, holding critical elections over the weekend. Election observers said the elections demonstrated Tunisia’s support for democratization.

Electoral workers count ballots at a polling station in Tunis after Sunday’s historic vote. (Photo courtesy of the Guardian)

Tunisia’s elections were closely watched around the world. The country is poised to become the first Arab Spring state to make a full transition to democracy. Unlike Syria, Egypt and Libya, which have been embroiled in conflict of varying degrees from Syria’s horrific Civil War to Egypt’s brutal crackdown on Islamist groups, Tunisians have addressed deep political divisions and prevented a full out unraveling of their country.

Tunisians filled polling stations on Sunday to cast a vote for the country’s new parliament, a 217 seat body that will serve for a five year term. Officials estimated that the voter turnout was close to 60% based on partial figures. The elections are the second in Tunisia since the popular uprising that sparked the Arab Spring forced former President Zine-el-Abidine Ben Ali out of power in 20011.

“We had some fears about the turnout,” said Juini Nooredine, a polling station operator in downtown Tunis. “But what happened was the opposite. Tunisians gave themselves a challenge and showed they want democracy and elections.” He paused, then added, “So the revolution succeeded.”

Two major political powers were jockeying for control of the government: the Islamist party Ennahda, which led a coalition government for two years from 2011 during the country’s transitional period, and Nidaa Tounes, a party led by Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old former prime-minister which has positioned itself as a secular, modern alternative to the Islamist parties. Mr. Essebsi hinted soon after polls closed on Sunday that his party would emerge victorious. “We have positive indicators that Nidaa Tounes is in the lead,” he told the press and supporters.

Preliminary results showed Tunisia’s secular Nidaa Tounes party is emerging as victor with the majority of the seats won. Nidaa Tunis has won 83 seats or 38% of the seats in parliament according to official provisional results released on Monday. The country’s leading Islamist party, Ennahda, conceded defeat on Monday after coming in second place with 68 seats or 31% percent of the seats in parliament. The Ennahda party was the first Islamist movement to secure power after the 2011 Arab spring revolts began. “We have accepted this result and congratulate the winner,” Lotfi Zitoun, an Ennahda party official, told the press.

While the Ennahda party enjoyed widespread support form he poor the party, which is accused of mismanaging the economy and for inexperience when it led Tunisia during the transitional period, fared far worse than it expected during Sunday’s elections. Ahmed Gaaloul, a member of Ennahda’s shura (consultative) council, argued that history has demonstrated that the first governments to lead countries after revolutions often had a difficult time. “Most of the post-revolution governments faced difficulties, simply because people’s expectations are higher after revolution,” he said. “Governing is not an easy task in those conditions because you don’t want to prove powerful when people revolted against that.”

International observers said Sunday’s election were a good sign for democratization in Tunisia saying the vote was orderly, despite some reports of isolated irregularities.

For more information please see:

Al Jazeera – Tunisia’s Ennahda ‘Faces Defeat’ In Elections – 28 October 2014

The Guardian – Tunisia’s Islamist Party Ennahda Accepts Defeat in Elections – 27 October 2014

Bloomberg – Tunisians Vote for First Permanent Assembly since Revolt – 26 October 2014

The New York Times – Voter Turnout Bolsters Tunisian Hopes for Post-Revolution Stability – 26 October 2014

Voices for Sudan Applauds U.S. Special Envoy on Policy Speech 

 


Washington, District of Columbia – Voices for Sudan Inc. welcomes the speech of US Special Envoy for Sudan/South Sudan: Donald Booth, who spoke at the Atlantic Council this past Thursday, October 9th to offer future insight and reflect upon his past year of service in regards to U.S. policy on Sudan and South Sudan.

Booth’s speech entitled U.S. Policy on Sudan and South Sudan: The Way Forward, highlights the problems, devised steps, and processes necessary to address these problems in both Sudan and South Sudan. The speech also places the issues in a holistic context, offering insight in regards to the role of the United States, as well as the relationship between Sudan and South Sudan.

Voices for Sudan especially commends Booth for stressing the important issue of interconnectivity between Sudan and South Sudan. Since it’s inception Voices for Sudan has long argued for a holistic approach to peace in the region. In accordance to Booth’s speech VFS president Jimmy Mulla states:

Voices for Sudan advocates for a comprehensive approach to issues in all of Sudan (Sudan and South Sudan).” 

The leading theme in Booth’s speech was inclusivity- both in South Sudan where authoritarian tendencies and a concentration on the interests of elites led the new nation to conflict and eventual civil war, as well as in Sudan, where the concentration of power and resources fell to a select group, and neglected the needs of those who’s identity did not match. In both circumstances Booth argues the need for inclusivity, which is necessary to avoid future fragmentation and conflict. Booth also declares the necessity of a national dialogue in both countries that address these issues and outline steps for resolution.

In Sudan Booth highlighted the problems with regional and compartmentalized approaches to peacemaking. Booth states:

These conflicts- in Darfur, in the Two Areas, like those previously in the East and in the South, each have unique manifestations, but they are all symptoms of a common national ill. For too long, the focus on conflict resolution efforts in the peripheries- and the supporting of international architecture- was focused regionally.

Booth concludes his speech explaining that while the relationship between Khartoum and the United States has been strained, the United States’ objectives and and interest in Sudan, South Sudan, and every country for that matter is in fostering a normal bilateral relationship in which we can work together on common interests. The U.S. interest and commitment is thus a peaceful and prosperous Sudan with whom the U.S. can trade, partner, and contribute to. As Booth goes on the explain, this also means a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan- who’s stability and well being form an inter-connected relationship with Sudan.

Voices for Sudan applauds Booth for his speech and the issues he raises. It is up the parties involved to take charge and act responsibly in accordance with his suggestions. Only then, if leaders and citizens can agree to make use of the support being offered, can a transition to peace be attained.

Copyright © 2014 Voices for Sudan, All rights reserved.
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Does Quarantine of Health Workers Returning From West Africa Violate Human Rights?

By Lyndsey Kelly
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

 WASHINGTON, D.C., United States of America – Medical workers returning from treating patients in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are being quarantined by several U.S. states even if they show no sign of Ebola symptoms. The U.S. army has implemented a similar policy, isolating nearly a dozen soldiers at part of a U.S. base in Vicenza, Italy.

Nurse Kaci Hickox returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa and was immediately quarantined in the state of New Jersey (Photo Courtesy of Reuters).

The federal government has said that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will release guidelines for executing protocols for healthcare workers returning to the U.S. from treating patients in West Africa. However, state officials, whom are unfamiliar with such a health threat, have called federal restrictions placed on people traveling from parts of West Africa insufficient, and have thus resorted to imposing tougher measures like automatic quarantines on medical workers.

New York, Illinois, Florida, and New Jersey instituted mandatory quarantines for anyone exposed to people infected with Ebola. U.N. Secretary-General, Bank Ki-moon, has publicly criticized the quarantines, saying through his spokesman that they create difficulties for medical workers risking their lives, and these workers “should not be subjected to restrictions that are not based on science.”

Those who have been subjected to the mandatory quarantine procedure have called the constitutionality of the state implemented quarantines to attention. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has defended his state’s policy of automatic quarantine. However, nurse, Kaci Hickox, who was placed into quarantine on Friday claimed that she felt that her “basic human rights are being violated,” by being kept in isolation at University Hospital in Newark, despite not showing any symptoms of the Ebola virus. She is the first person quarantined under the New Jersey policy.

The lawyer for the nurse said that he is planned to file a federal suit if his client was not released. Hickox stated that she was being held in a tent structure, “with a port-a-potty like structure and no shower and no connection to the outside world….” She has also claimed that she had not been allowed to see her lawyer or anyone else.

The New Jersey Governor has since stated that he will allow Hickox to finish the 21-day quarantine at home. He rationalized this statement by stating, “she hadn’t had any symptoms for 24 hours and she tested negative for Ebola so there’s no reason to keep her.”

 

For more information, please see the following:

ABC NEWS – Nurse in Ebola Quarantine to Sue For Freedom; Feds Push Back on State Rules – 26 Oct 2014.

CNN – Nurse Describes Ebola Quarantine Ordeal: ‘ I Was In Shock. Now I’m Angry’ – 27 Oct. 2014

REUTERS – U.S. CDC Says Returning Ebola Medical Workers Should Not Be Quarantined – 27 Oct. 2014.

USA TODAY – Nurse Quarantines in N.J. To Be Released – 27 Oct. 2014.

 

Iranian Women Executed for Murder of her Alleged Rapist

By Max Bartels 

Impunity Watch Reporter, The Middle East 

 

Tehran, Iran 

A 26-year-old woman, Reyhaneh Jabbari, was hanged on Saturday after she was sentenced to death for murder. The execution has human rights groups questioning the validity of the trial because the woman claimed self-defense and the man she killed was her alleged rapist. The woman was originally sentenced to death after her trial in 2009, where it was decided that she killed a man who was a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The U.N released a statement saying that the man hired Jabbari when she was 19 as an interior designer, to work on his office, and that Jabbari stabbed him after she was sexually assaulted.

IW #22 Iranian Woman Killing
Jabbari arguing her case in Iranian Court (Photo Curtesy of The Independent)

Since her original conviction and sentence in 2009, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict, even in the face of considerable international pressure from the U.S. and Europe. The pressure did succeed in getting Jabbari a 10- day stay of execution in late September, and many were hopeful that some other punishment would be handed down during that time. Under the Iranian Islamic Penal Code, the courts of Iran follow “an eye for an eye” concept, when a murder is committed, the defendant, if found guilty must face the same fate. Also under the Iranian Islamic Penal code there is a provision for the family of the victim to show mercy to the defendant, if the family so wishes the death sentence can be lessened. Many were hoping that the family of the victim would exercise this right on Jabbari, due to the public outcry in support of her case. A Justice Minister of the Supreme Court even stated in early October that he predicted that the case would come to a “good ending”. However, the family stayed silent and the execution process resumed after the 10- day stay.

The Tehran state prosecutors office issued a statement attempting to curtail sympathy for Jabbari, and lay out the facts of the case as they saw them. According to them Jabbari had repeatedly admitted to premeditated murder and had invented the rape charge in an attempt to divert the case from its course. The office laid out further evidence that Jabbari had texted a friend her intention to kill and had bought the knife used in the murder just a few days prior to the crime.

The execution has sparked renewed criticism of Iran and the new President, Rouhani, who was touted for his positions on bringing Iran out of isolation. The U.N. has documented the number of executions in the country at 531 this year, this is a marked increased from previous years and puts Iran at second in the world for recorded use of capital punishment, behind China. Secular voters in Iran are upset that domestic reform has taken a back seat to foreign policy under Rouhani. Others believe that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the judiciary, both still filled with hardline Islamists are increasing the rate of execution to make Rouhani look bad.

For more information, please see:

CNN — Iran Postponed Execution of Woman Who Killed her Alleged Rapist — 2 October, 2014

MSNBC — Iranian Woman Hanged for Killing her Alleged Would-Be Rapist — October 27 2014 

The Independent — Reyhaneh Jabbari  in Iran for Murder of Her Attempted Rapist — October 25, 2014

Reuters — Iran Hangs Woman Convicted of Killing Alleged Rapist — October 25, 2014

Riot Precedes Soccer Match in Lille, France

By Kyle Herda

Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

PARIS, France – An incident outside of a bar in Lille, France this week turned ugly fairly quickly and resulted in riot police firing tear gas into the crowd. The dispute between police and fans of Lille and Everton, in anticipation of a Europa league match resulted in at least two fans being hospitalized.

French riot police run through the streets amid the riot in Lille. (Photo courtesy of Fox)

While the cause of the altercations is still unclear, reports seem to suggest that a misunderstanding is to blame. Claims are that an officer in plain clothing was attempting to arrest an Everton supporter for “misbehaving” at a bar in Lille. Other Everton fans inside the bar did not realize it was an officer and mistook the arrest to be a Lille fan harassing the Everton fan. The Everton fans confronted the officer, things quickly escalated, and soon riot police showed up, aggressively pushed the crowd that gathered, used tear gas bombs, pepper spray, and shot rubber bullets.

There are also reports that a crowd of “hooligans” provoked Everton fans, and that this was the cause of the riot. These claims further that the Lille fans were to blame, and that riot police who responded attacked the Everton fans who were injured and in need of help. One witness claims to have seen riot police “spray one Everton fan for no reason.” Another witness claims “[t]he hooligans picked up chairs we had stacked up outside and attacked them, while others used them to smash windows and try to get inside.’

The Everton club released a statement that they will be working “closely with the French and Merseyside police … to better understand the two isolated but serious incidents that occurred in Lille”. While events died down relatively quickly, everybody was urged to avoid the square where the riots occurred due to the lingering gas used by the riot police

For more information, please see:

Daily Mail – Everton to work with French police after trouble in square and ‘unprovoked’ attacks on fans before Europa League tie at Lille – 24 October 2014

Fox – Police use tear gas against Everton fans ahead of match in Lille – 23 October 2014

Sky Sports – Europa League: Trouble flares in Lille ahead of Everton’s Group H game – 23 October 2014

SB Nation – Scary scene in Lille as police clash with Everton fans – 23 October 2014

 

Cold Lake Mosque Targeted by Vandalism

By Lyndsey Kelly
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

 
OTTAWA, Canada – A mosque in northeastern Alberta was recently vandalized on Thursday when a brick was thrown though its windows and a message which read “go home” was spray painted in red on the exterior of the building. The community of Cold Lake responded by rallying both non-Muslim and Muslim neighbors to aid in the clean up of the damage.

(above) The Cold Lake Mosque is shown with hateful messages left by an unknown vandal. (below) The Mosque is shown after citizens came together to help repair the damage. (Photo Courtesy of The Edmonton Sun).

A group of citizens, including business leaders and other influential members of the community patched up the broken windows with temporary cardboard signs that read, “love your neighbor,” and “you are home.” The community showed members of the mosque support on Friday assuring them they’re welcome in the community. Members of the mosque also gathered and placed posters, flowers, and gifts from various community members and displayed them by the windows that were smashed.

A member of the mosque’s board, Mahmoud El-Kadri, originally discovered the vandalism at about 6 a.m. on Friday when he arrived at the mosque for Morning Prayer. He responded to the vandalism by stating, “the writing hurts. This is my home, this is our home. This is the only home we have. Cold Lake is our home. Canada is our home.”

The vandalism occurred just a week after six CF-18 Hornet fighter jets took off from 4 Wing Cold Lake, the country’s busiest fighter aircraft base. The jets were targeting Iraq, as part of an air combat mission, dubbed Operation IMPACT. This is part of coalition air strikes, which are targeting the Muslim extremist group, The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) also known as ISIS. The missions goal is to degrade ISIL’s ability to carry out any military operations against the citizens of the Republic of Iraq.

The vandalism also comes just days after radicalized Muslim men killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa on Wednesday and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Quebec just days earlier.

 

For more information, please see the following:

CBC NEWS –Town rallies around vandalized Cold Lake Mosque – 24 Oct. 2014.

THE EDMONTON SUN – Cold Lake Mosque Vandalized With Words ‘ Go Home’-24 Oct. 2014.

HUFFINGTON POST –Cold Lake Mosque Vandalized with Words ‘Go Home’ – 24 Oct. 2014.

THE TORONTO STAR – Mosque Vandalized in Cold Lake, Alberta – 24 Oct. 2014.

 

Maduro Looking into “De-friending” Spain Over Comments

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela is not taking the criticism of Spain’s Prime Minister Mariono Rajoy very well.  Rajoy has called for Maduro to release an opponent of his from jail.  In response Maduro has ordered the revision of all bilateral ties with Spain.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro / Photo courtesy of presstv.ir

The conservative Rajoy met the wife of Venezuelan protest leader Leopoldo Lopez in Madrid this week, Tweeting a photo with an exhortation for him to be freed and protests allowed.

“I think you have made a mistake, Mr. Rajoy, ” the socialist Maduro thundered in a speech on state TV, accusing him of a patronizing attitude towards Spain’s former colonies.

“He thinks he’s a king, the owner of the Americas … You respect Venezuela, Mr. Rajoy, as we respect the Spanish people … You are creating a disaster in Spain.”

Lopez, 43, was jailed on February 18, 2014, on charges of masterminding anti-Maduro protests that raged for three months, stirring violent clashes that killed 43 Venezuelans. Lopez’s trial is currently taking place.

“I have ordered the foreign minister (Rafael) Ramirez to review all relations with Spain due to this unfriendly and meddling act of support to the ultra-right groups who exercise violence in Venezuela,” Maduro added.

“There is exploiting Prime Minister Rajoy meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela, when he simply has no moral standing to talk about Bolivarian Venezuela,” Maduro said Friday.

“Don’t meddle in my fatherland, Rajoy. Venezuela must be respected, you hear?,” the president said.

“We have had plenty of patience with people of the far right such as you, who comes along now to support groups responsible for the deaths of more than 40 Venezuelans,” Maduro said.

Supporters of Lopez say that the protests were borne out of frustration with a dictatorial government, failed economy, wasted oil revenues, and daily hardships from product shortages to soaring prices.  

Venezuelan authorities tell a different story.  They say he is a dangerous maverick directly responsible for killings and property damage during this year’s protests which they call a coup attempt against Maduro. They often remind Venezuelans of his role in a short-lived 2002 coup against former leader Hugo Chavez when Lopez helped arrest a minister and haul him away through a mob.

International clamour over Lopez’s case has been growing, with the top United Nations human rights official Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein also calling for his release this week.  Maduro does not welcome this “meddling” in his governmental affairs.

Fluent in English and from a wealthy family, the U.S.-educated Lopez, an economist by training, leads a hardline political party, Popular Will, within the opposition coalition.

For more information, please see:

Reuters – Venezuela’s Maduro slams Spain’s Rajoy over jailed opponent – 24 Oct. 2014

Fox News Latino – Venezuela’s Maduro announces review of ties with Spain – 24 Oct. 2014

Voxxi.com – Spanish leader Rajoy met Leopoldo Lopez’s wife – 23 Oct. 2014

El Universal – President Maduro orders to review Venezuela-Spain relations – 24 Oct. 2014

 

Allegations in the Baltics Over Violations by Russia Continue to Amass

By Kyle Herda

Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – For the second time in two days, NATO jets were scrambled to intercept Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea. The Russian aircraft did not violate the airspace of any foreign nations, and after identifying the aircraft, NATO jets let it go.

 

This picture, released by the Swedish military, shows what appears to be a suspicious object partially submerged, and some believe it to be a Russian submarine. (Photo courtesy of BBC)

While the Russian Ilyushin-20 surveillance aircraft did not violate the airspace of any nation this time, Russian jets have already done so numerous times. These two incidents mimic incidents that occurred on October 7 and September 11 where Russian jets again went through the Baltic Sea but did not violate any country’s airspace. Finland, however, says that Russian military aircraft have violated Finnish airspace five times already this year, and twice Russian military ships intercepted Finnish research vessels in international water.

Also in the center of the spotlight near the Baltic Sea is an incident in Swedish waters involving what some allege to be a Russian submarine. Reports were that some people had seen what appeared to be a submarine near Stockholm, and Sweden is taking this very seriously. Multiple reports and photographs seem to suggest that there may indeed be something in the Swedish waters that does not belong there.

On Good Friday last year, several Russian military planes conducted a simulated missile attack on Stockholm and southern Sweden. This drill caught Sweden so off-guard that their response jets never even left the ground. However, real or not, Sweden is taking this new incident very seriously and responding with haste.

In 1981, a Soviet submarine with nuclear weapons found itself stranded off Sweden’s southeast coast, an incident now known as the “whiskey on the rocks” incident. After 11 days, the sub was let go, free to return to the Soviet Union. Colonel Jan Mörtberg of the Swedish Defence College says this incident is different, however: “[I]n those days [Russia] didn’t have to restore its superpower-status. That status was clear.” A high-ranking Latvian official made similar claims: “Russia is trying to position itself a dominant centre of power on the global stage.”

Today, Sweden is still searching the waters for any possible submarines, and is not afraid to use weapons to make it surface if needed. Whether there is currently a submarine in Ingaro Bay remains unknown, but Sweden wants to be sure before calling off the search.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Sweden could use force against suspected foreign sub – 22 October 2014

Newsweek – NATO, Swedish Fighters Scrambled to intercept Russian Plane – 22 October 2014

ABC – Estonia: Russian Military Plane Violated Air Space – 22 October 2014

Yahoo – NATO intercepts Russian jets over Baltic Sea – 21 October 2014

Newsweek – The ‘Russian Submarine’ in Swedish Waters Isn’t the Only Unwelcome Visitor in the Baltic Sea – 21 October 2014

Mercury News – Sweden’s hunt for mystery submarine revives Cold War tensions – 20 October 2014

 

North Korean Leader Reappears after Long Public Absence

By Hojin Choi

Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

PYONGYANG, North Korea – The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, appeared in public view having an “on-site guidance trip” according to a North Korea’s state-run media, the Korean Central News Agency. In photos, Mr. Kim was walking with a cane, which gives credence to the theory that he had been suffering from leg pains and had surgery recently.

Mr. Kim, known to be 30, had been absent from the public since September 3, and there had been much speculation about his status. First, he was thought to have health problems as a few foreign doctors had been witnessed entering North Korea. Moreover, Mr. Kim was seen limping in early July on North Korean television. A few months later, a state-run television mentioned his health status, noting that he “was not feeling well.” According to statements of the former personal doctor of Mr. Kim’s grandfather, he inherited a number of health problems from his ancestors, such as psychological problems and obesity.

The young dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, reappeared with a cane after long public absence. (Getty Images)

Another rumor indicated he lost power over the North Korean Communist Party and the military hierarchy. During 2014 Incheon Asian Game, which was recently held in South Korea, three core members of the North’s politics and military surprisingly visited the South together. They are ranked in the governmental hierarchy as numbers 2 to 4, and it was the first time after the Korean War that these high-ranking officials visited the South at the same time.

According to the news agency, Mr. Kim took a trip to the new residential complex and “inspected” it. He also visited the Natural Energy Institute of the State Academy of Sciences. Reportedly, Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong-so, the 2nd ranking official in the North, accompanied Mr. Kim during the trip. Mr. Kim’s wife and sister were also walking closely with him.

The Washington Post analyzed Mr. Kim as comparatively “more open” than his grandfather and father, the preceding leaders of North Korea. John Delury, an expert on North Korea at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, said that “there is a pattern here of being more forthcoming, a little less cryptic.” There had been rumors whether Mr. Kim had successfully taken over the power from his father because he was too young and inexperienced, but “by appearing in public, Kim wanted to show the world he still rules the state,” said Koh Yoo-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.

Nothing has been clearly proven about the political stability of the new regime, but it remains the world’s most isolated and authoritative country under the young leader.

For more information please see:

The New York Times – North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Reappears in Public, North’s Media Reports – 13 October 2014

NBC News – North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Ends Long Public Absence – 14 October 2014

The Washington Post – As Kim Jong Un returns, North Korea becomes slightly more open – 14 October 2014

CNN – North Korea says leader has reappeared – 14 October 2014

Bloomberg – North Korea Shows Kim With Cane in 1st Sighting in Weeks – 13 October 2014

Study: Most Victims of Human Trafficking Enter the United States Legally

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

WASHINGTON DC, the United States of America – According to a new study, funded by the United States Department of Justice, published by Northeastern University and the Urban institute most victims of human trafficking arriving in the United States enter the country legally. The study found that most victims of human trafficking in the United States arrived in the country with a legal work visa and later became indentured servants after their immigration papers were taken away by traffickers and recruiters. The study focused on 122 foreign men and women who sought to receive services from a coalition of organizations that assist the victims of trafficking. The researchers also interviewed service providers and law enforcement officials as well as the victims of trafficking themselves.

According to a new study that examines labor trafficking in the United States, human trafficking has been seen in agriculture, construction, hotels, restaurant and domestic services industries. (Photo courtesy of CNN Money)

According to the Report the average age of victims in the study was 33 at the time they began receiving services. Most had children. Almost a third of the victims had attained higher education, and 71% held some type of temporary work visa when they entered the United States. The study found traffickers often used the visa status as a weapon to exploit workers by withholding their documentation in an attempt to keep the victims from leaving and threatening to have them deported if they refuse to continue serving the traffickers.

The report found that most of the victims involved in the study were recruited in their home country, and were often deceived about the nature and compensation of the work they would be doing in the United States. Typically, the victims of human trafficking came from countries in Central America or Southeast Asia.

While human trafficking is not limited to any area of the globe, the majority of the workers in the Northeastern University Study were trafficked from their homelands in Asia and Latin America. (Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe)

According to the report, foreign workers are often lured by traffickers offering false promises of a good life with good jobs in the United States. However the victims of traffickers soon find themselves living as slaves in plain sight. About half of these workers pay “recruitment” fees to their traffickers, these fees are often thousands of dollars that can leave them stuck in debt to traffickers for years.

The victims of human trafficking are living and working under slave-like conditions across America in farming communities, on construction sites, in restaurants and even inside homes in quiet suburban neighborhood. Since human trafficking was criminalized in 2000 the federal Justice Department has convicted labor traffickers in New York, Georgia and Washington State among other prosecutions.

According to The International Labour Organization, a United Nation’s agency, an estimated 21 million people worldwide are the victims of forced labor. However, there is no official estimate of how prevalent the problem is in the United States.

For more information please see:

The Boston Globe – Most Victims of Human Trafficking Enter The US Legally, Study Says – 21 October 2014

CNN Money – Slave Labor in America Today – 21 October 2014

Hartford Business – Slave Labor in America Today – 21 October 2014

Reuters – Study Shows U.S. Forced-Labor Victims Unclear Where to Seek Help – 21 October 2014

Lawmaker Kidnapped & Released in Northeast Colombia

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America 

BOGOTA, Columbia — The Colombian politician Carlos Omar Angarita Navarro, deputy of the Assembly of the Department of Norte de Santander, was released today by the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) who had kidnapped him Monday in that area of ​​Northeast, said official sources.

Diputado Navarro / Photo courtesy of rackspacecloud.com

The ELN has been classified as a terrorist organization by the governments of Colombia, Peru, the United States, the European Union and Canada.  The group has been violently active in Colombia since 1964, advocating for a composite of Communist Marxism and Liberation Theology.  

Navarro, a member of the Conservative Party, was abducted Monday afternoon on the outskirts of the town of Hacari as he was returning from a meeting with the community at which the town’s health problems were discussed.  The politician was in a meeting with members of an IPS in that town, they were complaining about the alleged poor performance of its services. 

Currently the Conservative Party is the second largest political force in the government’s congress.

He was captured on the highway that links Hacari and Ocaña, the provincial police commander, Col. Eliecer Camacho, told reporters on Tuesday.

“No criminal group has said anything about the motive for the kidnapping,” the police chief said, although he refrained from confirming ELN rebels were responsible.  Navarro’s relatives believe that the ELN rebels were responsible.

Three armed men forced the vehicle Navarro was traveling in with his two sons to stop at a spot known as El Espejo, kidnapped the lawmaker and took him toward the mountains, Hacari spokesman Diogenes Quintero said.

Col. Camacho said that although a family member said the politician was abducted by the ELN, often criminal bands perpetrate their crimes using the name of another group.  But he added that the ELN does indeed operate in the area, along with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas and the Popular Liberation Army.  

The deputy was released after negotiations with the participation of several Colombian authorities and mediated by a local priest, the chief investigator said in a statement , who also participated in these efforts.  

According to officals, the presence of these armed groups poses a risk to the inhabitants of the towns of Hacarí, El Tarra, San Calixto and Teorama, belonging to the troubled region of Catatumbo.

For more information, please see:

W Radio – Norte de Santander: secuestran en Hacarí al diputado Ómar Angarita – 21 Oct. 2014

El Pais.com.co – En libertad diputado secuestrado por el ELN en Norte de Santander – 21 Oct. 2014

ABC.es – El ELN libera a diputado regional secuestrado en el noresete de Colombia – 21 Oct. 2014

Fox Latino – Regional lawmaker kidnapped in NE Colombia – 21 Oct. 2014