Posts Tagged ‘human rights abuses’

Abuse of Palestinians ‘widespread’

June 14, 2010
Al Jazeera, June 14, 2010
B’Tselem said the blockade shattered Gaza’s economy and caused blackouts and pollution [Reuters]

The death toll in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories was “much lower” in 2009 than previous years, but human rights abuses against Palestinians remain widespread, according to a new report from the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces dropped by more than 80 per cent last year, the report pointed out on Monday.

But human rights abuses still run rampant in the Palestinian territories, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where B’Tselem blamed Israel’s blockade for “the collapse of the economy”.

The report noted that 95 per cent of Gaza’s factories have closed, that 98 per cent of residents suffer from blackouts, and that 93 per cent of Gaza’s water is polluted.



April 30, 2010

from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, New York City

We are writing to extend our heartfelt solidarity and support to you, Egyptian workers, who in recent months have been courageously demanding that your government address your desperate economic conditions. The American press has been shamefully muted about the grim economic and political realities of life for people in Egypt, a key strategic U.S. ally in the Middle East. But in an eye-opening article in The New York Times of April 28, 2010, “Labor Protests Test Egypt’s Government,” by Michael Slackman, the curtain was lifted, for a moment at least. The article says,

CAIRO — Day after day, hundreds of workers from all over Egypt have staged demonstrations and sit-ins outside Parliament, turning sidewalks in the heart of the capital into makeshift camps and confounding government efforts to bring an end to the protests.

Nearly every day since February, protesters have chanted demands outside Parliament during daylight and laid out bedrolls along the pavement at night. The government and its allies have been unable to silence the workers, who are angry about a range of issues, including low salaries.

Using an emergency law that allows arrest without charge and restricts the ability to organize, the Egyptian government and the ruling National Democratic Party have for decades blocked development of an effective opposition while monopolizing the levers of power. The open question — one that analysts say the government fears — is whether the workers will connect their economic woes with virtual one-party rule and organize into a political force.

This week, with blankets stacked neatly behind them, at least four different groups were banging pots, pans and empty bottles and chanting slogans. There were factory workers, government workers, employees of a telephone company and handicapped men and women. The group of handicapped people said they had been there for 47 days, demanding jobs and housing….

The government has tried to define workers’ complaints as pocketbook issues, analysts said, hoping that if specific demands are met, workers will disband without blaming those in charge and without adding political change to their list of priorities.

Try as the Egyptian government might to define your complaints as simply narrow “pocketbook issues,” divorced from democratic rights to protest, assemble, and assert labor’s interests in the political arena, the distinction won’t hold. They are inextricably linked, and this is true today in Egypt, Iran, China, the Philippines and everywhere else. Egyptian workers must have the right to freely assemble, protest and strike, and to form independent trade unions and political parties.

As Americans, we repudiate the hypocritical policy of the United States, our own government, which turns a blind eye to human rights abuses on the part of its allies, such as Egypt, while decrying such transgressions by governments that defy U.S. power. The Campaign for Peace and Democracy firmly believes that a just and peaceful world must be based on respect for human rights.

We salute you in your brave struggle. We understand that the Mubarak government, which heads a de facto one-party state, is contemplating a crackdown on labor protesters. We will do all in our power to mobilize here in the United States and in countries around the world to prevent this from happening.

In peace and solidarity,
Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
New York City
Web: Email:

Iran: Crackdown’s Torrent of Abuses

February 11, 2010

Rights Violations Mounting as Government Celebrates Revolution’s Anniversary

Human Rights Watch, February 10, 2010

“The Iranian government’s effort to use anniversary celebrations to deflect attention from its human rights violations isn’t going to work.  Instead, it should use the occasion to finally hold the abusers accountable.”

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director

(Washington, DC) – The scope of the Iranian government’s crackdown on dissent since the disputed June 2009 elections is even broader and the abuses more flagrant than previously reported, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today that documents numerous instances of abuse. The government should immediately release all those still being held for peacefully expressing dissent and make certain that those responsible for human rights abuses are held accountable, Human Rights Watch said.

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China: Drug ‘Rehabilitation’ Centers Deny Treatment, Allow Forced Labor

January 8, 2010
Anti-Drug Law Perpetuates Rights Abuses
Human Rights Watch, January 6, 2010

Inmates sew at a compulsory drug detention center in Yunnan province.

Instead of putting in place effective drug dependency treatment, the new Chinese law subjects suspected drug users to arbitrary detention and inhumane treatment. The Chinese government has explained the law as a progressive step towards recognizing drug users as ‘patients,’ but they’re not even being provided the rights of ordinary prisoners.

Joe Amon, Health and Human Rights Division director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – Chinese authorities are incarcerating drug users in compulsory drug detention centers that deny them access to treatment for drug dependency and put them at risk of physical abuse and unpaid forced labor, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Half a million people are confined within compulsory drug detention centers in China at any given time, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

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Kashmir key to peace

November 22, 2009

The Nation, November 22, 2009

IT reflects poorly on New Delhi’s political sense that it has failed to realise that the more it tries to suppress the Kashmiris’ urge to get out of its cruel hold, the more entrenched in the people’s psyche becomes the freedom struggle and the more conscious the world gets of the urgency with which the dispute needs to be resolved. Amnesty International recently called upon President Obama to raise the issue of India’s brutal oppression in Occupied Kashmir when he meets Prime Minister Singh in Washington. Its words, “The Indian side of Kashmir is an area where the security forces commit mass human rights abuses with impunity…facilitated by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and other similar laws.” Similarly, President Hu and President Obama, in a joint statement, have observed that the two sides, “agreed to cooperate…(in) bringing about more stable, peaceful relations in all of South Asia”. Secretary of State Clinton maintained, in an interview on Friday, that the US wanted the resumption of talks between India and Pakistan to sort out their differences, including Kashmir.

However, India has been greatly upset at these declarations and continues to defy the calls for an understanding look at the situation that the lingering dispute creates both within Occupied Kashmir and outside. It is a measure of Pakistan’s disappointment that Foreign Minister Qureshi had to say that though we were urging for the resumption of talks, we were not looking for a photo session; we wanted ‘constructive engagement and meaningful dialogue’. He stressed that any talks without the participation of Pakistan would be futile. He had in mind India’s efforts to engage the Kashmiri leaders from the occupied state to find a solution. Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit did some plain speaking, when he remarked that India did not want peace in the region. His conclusion is absolutely justified since New Delhi refuses to come to the negotiating table just because it would have to discuss Kashmir. It is well known that even when the composite dialogue was going on it avoided coming to grips with the issue. As the history of post-partition reveals, the fate of Indo-Pakistan relations is closely linked to the settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiris.

Sri Lankan troops shot Tamil prisoners of war

August 28, 2009
Morning Star Online, Thursday 27 August 2009
by Paddy McGuffin

Graphic footage which appears to show Sri Lankan forces summarily executing Tamil prisoners during or after the recent bloody conflict has been handed to the British media.

The footage, captured on a mobile phone, was supplied to the media on Wednesday by Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka.

It shows uniformed troops dragging naked and bound prisoners into a clearing and shooting them in the back of the head.

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Saudi rights abuses rise due to counter-terrorism methods

July 24, 2009

Middle East Online, First Published 2009-07-22

Saudi used its ‘powerful international clout’ to get away with abuses

Amnesty International: thousands detained in virtual secrecy under guise of security in Saudi.

LONDON – Human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia have soared as a result of counter-terrorism measures introduced since the 2001 attacks in the United States, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

The London-based rights organisation warned in a new report that under the guise of national security, thousands of people had been arrested and detained in virtual secrecy  and others had been killed in “uncertain circumstances”.

There have long been human rights problems in the kingdom but Amnesty said the number of people being held arbitrarily, including both Saudi nationals and foreigners, “has risen from hundreds to thousands since 2001”.

“These unjust anti-terrorism measures have made an already dire human rights situation worse,” said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme.

Amnesty noted that in June 2007, the Saudi interior ministry reported that 9,000 security suspects had been detained between 2003 and 2007 and that 3,106 of these were still being held.

Some of those held are prisoners of conscience, targeted for their criticism of government policies, the report said.

The majority are suspected of supporting groups that are opposed to Saudi Arabia’s close links to the United States and have carried out a number of attacks targeting Westerners and others.

Amnesty said trials of people suspected of terrorism offences are carried out in secret, despite sentences ranging from fines to the death penalty. The names of those involved or the charges against them are not disclosed.

“Detainees are held with no idea of what is going to happen to them,” Smart said. “Most are held incommunicado for years without trial, and are denied access to lawyers and the courts to challenge the legality of their detention.”

The Saudi authorities were not immediately available for comment, but the country’s top human rights official said last month that suspected militants being tried in special courts were allowed lawyers to help their defence.

“They can choose a lawyer… or the ministry of justice will provide one,” said Bandar al-Aiban, president of the official Saudi Human Rights Commission.

He said he regretted that the trials were being kept secret but said the government was worried some defendants would use a public trial as a soapbox to preach radical ideology. “We have to be mindful of other dangers,” he said.

Amnesty accused the international community of failing to hold the Saudi government to account over the alleged violations, saying the kingdom “has used its powerful international clout to get away with it”.

The group also reported that many people were thought to have been tortured “in order to extract confessions or as punishment after conviction”.

Methods include severe beatings by sticks, suspension from the ceiling and the use of electric shocks and sleep deprivation, while “flogging is also imposed as a legal punishment by itself or in addition to imprisonment”.

From beyond the grave: A searing indictment of Putin’s protegé

July 17, 2009

A report by Natalya Estemirova, the Russian activist murdered in Chechnya as she investigated human rights abuses

The Independent/UK, July 17, 2009

President Ramzan Kadyrov displaying his shooting skills

President Ramzan Kadyrov displaying his shooting skills

The abductions in Chechnya started nearly a decade ago. In 2000, Russian forces took control of practically the entire territory of the republic, and started extensive mop-up operations in villages.

Thousands of murders and abductions took place; these operations were declared to be an efficient method in the fight against rebels. In reality, however, the troops and police were looting the houses of unprotected civilians, at times taking away everything from them, from cars and furniture to shampoos and female underwear.

Most horrifically of all, women were raped in front of their male relatives, and all the men were detained, from teenagers to old men: they were either cruelly beaten, or released for ransom, or else they disappeared forever.

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Human rights activist Natalya Estemirova shot dead in Russia

July 16, 2009

Times Online, July 15, 2009

Nico Hines

Natalya Estemirova


Natalya Estemirova dedicated her career to uncovering Russian human rights abuses

An award-winning Russian human rights activist was murdered today after dedicating much of her life to investigating abuses by the Chechen regime.

Natalya Estemirova was shot twice in the head at close-range after she was bundled into a car in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.

The activist, who was one of Anna Politkovskaya’s key collaborators, was found dead near the city of Nazran in Ingushetia. A single mother in her early 40s, Estemirova had collected evidence of human rights abuses in Chechnya since the start of the second war there in 1999.

As well as the murdered Politkovskaya, she worked with Stanislav Markelov, a prominent lawyer and another opponent of rights abuses in Chechnya, who was shot and killed on a Moscow street in January.

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How Not to Support Democracy in the Middle East

June 10, 2009

Stephen Zunes | Foreign Policy In Focus, June 8, 2009

President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo to the Muslim world marked a welcome departure from the Bush administration’s confrontational approach. Yet many Arabs and Muslims have expressed frustration that he failed to use this opportunity to call on the autocratic Saudi and Egyptian leaders with whom he had visited on his Middle Eastern trip to end their repression and open up their corrupt and tightly controlled political systems.

Imagine the positive reaction Obama would have received throughout the Arab and Islamic world if, instead of simply expressing eloquent but vague words in support of freedom and democracy, he had said something like this:

“Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.”

Could he have said such a thing?

Yes. In fact, those were his exact words when, as an Illinois state senator, he gave a speech at a major anti-war rally in Chicago on October 2, 2002.

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