Posts Tagged ‘HR groups’

WOMEN-PAKISTAN: Domestic Violence Bill Draws Mixed Reactions

September 8, 2009

By Zofeen Ebrahim, Inter Press Service News

KARACHI, Sep 7 (IPS) – A historic bill seeking to punish domestic abuse still raises doubts about its ability to meet the goal it sets out to do: end violence against women.

That is assuming the bill, which was approved by the National Assembly on Aug. 4, will be passed by the Senate to make it a law.

“Just as the proceedings began before the bill was put to a vote, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani got up to say his government supported the bill as it fell under their party manifesto’s purview,” said Yasmeen Rehman, a member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, who sponsored the bill. “I was elated.”

Civil society groups advocating protection of women against all forms of violence dubbed the passage a “historic move”.

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BBC: Israeli troops ‘ill-treat kids’

August 8, 2009

BBC News, Aug 6, 2009

Israeli soldiers arrest boy near Qalandia, Sept 2008

Israel arrested 9,000 Palestinians last year, 700 of them children

A former Israeli military commander has told the BBC that Palestinian youngsters are routinely ill-treated by Israeli soldiers while in custody, reports the BBC’ s Katya Adler from Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“You take the kid, you blindfold him, you handcuff him, he’s really shaking… Sometimes you cuff his legs too. Sometimes it cuts off the circulation.

“He doesn’t understand a word of what’s going on around him. He doesn’t know what you’re going to do with him. He just knows we are soldiers with guns. That we kill people. Maybe they think we’re going to kill him.

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Netanyahu says Gazans will overthrow Hamas

July 29, 2009

Middle East Online, First Published 2009-07-29

Calling for a coup against Palestinian democracy?

Hardline Israeli PM predicts overthrow of Palestinian democracy as Gazans suffer under Israeli siege.
TEL AVIV – Hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday predicted the people of the Gaza Strip will one day overthrow the democratically elected Hamas movement.

Israel, which wants to crush any Palestinian liberation movement, responded to Hamas’s win in the elections with sanctions, and almost completely blockaded the impoverished coastal strip after Hamas seized power in 2007, although a ‘lighter’ siege had already existed before.

Human rights groups, both international and Israeli, slammed Israel’s siege of Gaza, branding it “collective punishment.”

There are 1.5 million inhabitants in the Israeli-besieged.

A group of international lawyers and human rights activists had also accused Israel of committing “genocide” through its crippling blockade of the Strip.

“If the Palestinians could, they would overthrow Hamas and believe me one day they will,” Netanyahu said at the National Security Academy’s graduation ceremony.

Netanyahu, himself accused of being a radical Jew, accused Hamas of being part of radical Islam.

“Eventually, radical Islam will be defeated by the global information revolution, the freedom to spread ideas and with the help of technology.”

“This won’t happen immediately, but it will happen. The only thing that could delay or disrupt radical Islam’s demise is the possibility that (radicals) will obtain nuclear arms,” he said, in a reference to Iran.

The hardline Israeli PM, who is accused of seeking to starve 1.5 million people to death, made remarks about Palestinian internal affairs.

“By making the Palestinians of Gaza wear a veil, the Hamas regime is not doing much to make itself popular,” Netanyahu was quoted by YNetnews website as saying.

On Sunday, Palestinian officials said Hamas has ordered women lawyers to wear a headscarf while in court.

Israel’s war on Gaza killed nearly 1,400 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and wounded 5,450 others.

The war also left tens of thousands of houses destroyed, while their residents remained homeless.

Gaza is still considered under Israeli occupation as Israel controls air, sea and land access to the Strip.

The Rafah crossing with Egypt, Gaza’s sole border crossing that bypasses Israel, rarely opens as Egypt is under immense US and Israeli pressure to keep the crossing shut.

Fatah has little administrative say in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and has no power in Arab east Jerusalem, both of which were illegally occupied by Israel in 1967.

Israel also currently occupies the Lebanese Shabaa Farms and the Syrian Golan Heights.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai chooses warlord as running mate

May 5, 2009

Daily News, May 4, 2009

Associated Press

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (c.) speaks to media and his first vice president Mohammad Qasim Fahim (l.) and his second vice president Karim Khalili.

KABUL – President Hamid Karzai chose a powerful warlord accused of rights abuses as one of his vice presidential running mates on Monday, hours before leaving for meetings in Washington with President Barack Obama and Pakistan’s president.

The selection of Mohammad Qasim Fahim, a top commander in the militant group Jamiat-e-Islami during Afghanistan’s 1990s civil war, drew immediate criticism from human rights groups.

A 2005 Human Rights Watch report, “Blood-Stained Hands,” found “credible and consistent evidence of widespread and systematic human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law” were committed by Jamiat commanders, including Fahim.

Karzai was “insulting the country” with the choice, the New York-based group said Monday.

Fahim served as Karzai’s first vice president during the country’s interim government put in place after the ouster of the Taliban in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. During the 2004 election, Karzai dropped Fahim from his ticket in favor of Ahmad Zia Massood — the brother of Ahmad Shah Massood, who was assassinated by al-Qaida two days before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Under Afghan law, the president has two vice presidents.

“To see Fahim back in the heart of government would be a terrible step backwards for Afghanistan,” said Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director. “He is widely believed by many Afghans to be still involved in many illegal activities, including running armed militias, as well as giving cover to criminal gangs and drug traffickers.”

The U.S. Embassy would not comment, saying it wasn’t helpful for the United States to comment on individual candidates. However, a U.S. statement said, “We believe the election is an opportunity for Afghanistan to move forward with leaders who will strengthen national unity.”

Karzai’s popularity has waned in recent years, as civilian casualties caused by international military forces have increased and charges of government corruption persist. But so far no candidates who could challenge Karzai’s hold on power have registered for the Aug. 20 vote. Candidates have until Friday to register.

The Afghan president formally registered as a candidate on Monday, then immediately left for the United States, where he, Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari are expected to discuss the increasingly perilous security situation in both countries.

The U.S. is increasingly focusing on Afghanistan as it shifts its resources away from Iraq. Obama is sending 21,000 additional forces to bolster the record 38,000 U.S. troops already in Afghanistan in hopes of stemming an increasingly powerful Taliban insurgency.

The choice of Fahim could be an issue for Western countries invested in Afghanistan’s success, said Mohammad Qassim Akhgar, a political columnist and the editor-in-chief of the independent Afghan newspaper 8 a.m.

“Perhaps if Karzai wins the election Western countries are going to use this point as an excuse and limit their assistance to Afghanistan,” he said. “This is also a matter of concern for all human rights organizations who are working in Afghanistan and working for transitional justice.”

Karzai entered the registration room flanked by the two men running as his vice presidents — Fahim and ethnic Hazara leader Karim Khalili, Karzai’s current second vice president.

Wearing his trademark green and purple cloak, Karzai told reporters at the election commission headquarters that he wanted to run again “to be at the service of the Afghan people,” though he acknowledged there have been “some mistakes” during his five-year term as president.

Massood publicly criticized Karzai in recent months for staying on as president after May 21, the date the Afghan constitution says Karzai’s term ends. The Supreme Court has ruled Karzai can stay in office until the Aug. 20 vote, which was pushed back from spring because of lingering winter weather, ballot distribution logistics and security concerns.

In a reminder of the country’s perilous security, a suicide bombing, a roadside bomb and a militant attack killed 24 people Monday.

The suicide bomber attacked the mayor of Mehterlam, capital of eastern Laghman province, killing six people, including the mayor and his nephew, the deputy governor said. In Zabul province, a roadside bomb exploded against a family riding on a tractor, killing 12 people, while militants attacked a convoy and killed six security guards, officials said.

Aziz Rafiee, the executive director of the Afghan Civil Society Forum, said Karzai’s latest change of heart begged a question.

“If (Fahim) was a good choice, why did (Karzai) remove him” in 2004? Rafiee asked. “And if he was a bad choice, why did he select him again? The people of Afghanistan will answer this question while voting.”

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