Tag: UN

Burma: New Wave of Destruction in Rohingya Villages

820 Newly Identified Destroyed Buildings; UN-Aided Investigation Urgently Needed

New satellite imagery of Burma’s Rakhine State shows 820 newly identified structures destroyed in five different ethnic Rohingya villages between November 10-18, 2016, Human Rights Watch said today. The Burmese government should without further delay invite the United Nations to assist in an impartial investigation of the widespread destruction of villages.

The latest images bring the total number of destroyed buildings documented by Human Rights Watch in northern Rakhine State through satellite imagery to 1,250. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, at a November 17 UN Security Council meeting on the deteriorating situation in Rakhine State, called for international observers to be allowed to investigate and for aid groups to have their access restored. After a short visit by diplomats to the area, Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on Burma, said on November 18, “The security forces must not be given carte blanche to step up their operations under the smokescreen of having allowed access to an international delegation. Urgent action is needed to bring resolution to the situation.”

Iraq: Militias Held, Beat Villagers

Recruited Children as Fighters From Camp for Displaced People

Iraqi government-backed Hashad al-Asha’ri militias detained and beat at least 22 men from two villages near Mosul. The militias also recruited at least 10 children in a camp for displaced people as fighters against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

“Civilians in ISIS-held territory in and around Mosul are asking themselves what will come next. The answer to that question should be greater respect for human rights,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “For some civilians who have come under the control of Hashad al-Asha’ri militias, however, the change in guard has not meant protection from rights abuses.”

COP22: why climate justice must also be a struggle for sovereignty

‘What would you die for?’ The question isn’t heard often at the UN Climate Negotiations, but it did break into the halls of power on Thursday 17 November. It was posed by indigenous youth delegate Niria Alicia Garcia Torres.’Tell me, what is it you would die for? And what do you stand for?’

These same questions are guiding the hearts of protestors on the treaty lands of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, USA. Members of over 200 tribes and thousands of allies have gathered over the past seven months to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline, facing off militarized police, sound cannons, rubber bullets, pepper spray and attack dogs to defend their lives, land and water from a 1,172-mile oil pipeline, which they call the ‘black snake’.

Nothing is simple in Palestine

Almost nothing in Palestine is what you expect for the most part. And, this is so true of the negative things you see. No matter how bad you think things are or expect them to be, you are almost always guaranteed that they will be worse (usually much worse) when you actually see them. And if you tell people the truth you may be thought to be making things up. But, this is Palestine and things are this unbelievable and this bad. This was true today for me (to put it mildly). Part of our team was invited by an “inspector” from the United Nations office based here in Al Khalil to go to a Bedouin village in the South Hebron Hills where a demolition took place yesterda

APPOINTMENT OF CHINESE OFFICIAL TO HEAD OF INTERPOL PROVOKES WORRY

The recent appointment of Meng Hongwei as president of Interpol is one worrisome to human rights advocates across the world. Meng, China’s vice minister of public security, would be the first Chinese president of Interpol, though Chinese officials have served as vice presidents of Interpol and as members of its executive committee in the past. Presidents of Interpol serve four year terms and are elected by Interpol’s General Assembly.

Namely, in his position as vice minister of public security in China, Meng has used his position to orchestrate government crackdowns on group that the Chinese government views as undesirable. These include members of the Falun Gong and individuals targeted by Chinese president Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign, which has in many cases used accusations of corruption to carry out political purges. Meng was also appointed head of China’s Coast Guard in 2012 and carried out the militarization of the civilian coast guard in order to bolster China’s disputed territorial claims in the South and East China Seas.

TURKEY ARRESTS UN JUDGE, VIOLATES DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY

A Turkish judge who formerly served on international criminal proceedings concerning Yugoslavia and Rwanda has been arrested.

The judge is accused of being involved in some way with the coup attempt this past July. The UN court president Theodor Meron told the UN general assembly today that the Turkish government has denied several requests to visit the incarcerated judge.

As a judge for the UN, Aydin Sedaf Akay would be entitled to diplomatic immunity and some are saying this is possibly the first time this privilege of UN judges has ever been violated.

Protecting monuments but not rape victims

Georges, a Malian journalist and blogger, has made a heartfelt appeal, condemning the fact that while monuments have been meticulously restored in his country, the same care has not been taken to confront sexual assault and rape of women.

In his blog, which has the rather long title “Au Grin, Il se dit beaucoup de choses autour d’un verre de thé” (At the Grin, Much IS Talked About Around a Cup of Tea), he posted an article titled “Timbuktu: They are as innocent as the shrines!”. In it, he accused Malian and international judicial bodies of wanting to sweep the violence against women under the rug:

Navy SEAL Killed By IED In Iraq As Troops Pour Into Mosul

Another US soldier has died as the result of Iraq’s third American-involved war. The operative’s death both shadows the new Mosul offensive, and a massive US troop surge launched shortly before. Those forces, like this most recent casualty, are almost entirely dark shades of special forces.

Chief Petty Officer Jason C. “JJ” Finan died as a result of wounds sustained by an improvised explosive device. Few details are currently available, and officials are cautious to admit Finan was directly involved in the battle. Islamic State militants have held Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest, since the beginning of the war. Militants seized the town with American arms and vehicles, with many Iraqi forces retreating without a fight. Many Iraqi soldiers stripped their fatigues, vests, and put down their guns fleeing the Islamic State’s hard-charge from Syria.

It Is Time for the United Nations to Act on Kashmir

In the territory of Kashmir, disputed between India and Pakistan, members of a militant organisation called Hizb-ul Mujahideen wage a campaign of violence against what they regard as Indian occupation of their region which is known by India as the State of Jammu and Kashmir and internationally as Indian-administered Kashmir. In early July a popular 22-year old member of the organisation, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, was killed by Indian security forces. A highly intelligent young man, he joined the HuM at the age of 15 after his younger brother was beaten up by para-military soldiers, and became well known for his use of social media to encourage other young people to join the fight against India.

UN calls on Saudi Arabia to halt child executions – Reprieve comment

The UN’s child rights committee has called on Saudi Arabia to end the death penalty for children, amid fears for three juveniles who face beheading in relation to protests.

In a report published this morning, experts from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child condemned the Gulf kingdom for its practice of sentencing children to death, noting that juveniles over 15 years old were tried as adults and executed “after trials falling short of guarantees of due process and a fair trial.” The committee’s experts urged the Saudi authorities to “repeal all provisions contained in legislation which authorise the stoning, amputation and flogging of children.”

How not to build peace: what’s been missing from the UN process

UN peacekeeping is big business, but is it achieving its aims? asks Louisa Waugh.

The last time I met Sultan Ibrahim Senoussi, he was at home in the town of N’délé, sitting beneath his favourite tree, holding court from his armchair. Waiting my turn to speak, I noticed a book on his lap and surreptitiously read the title upside-down.

After we exchanged greetings, I asked why he was learning English. ‘Because of the peacekeepers!’ The sultan waved his book. ‘Those Pakistanis don’t speak French. If they can’t talk to us, we must learn to talk to them!’

In the Central African Republic, traditional leaders wield both political and moral authority. As a sultan, Ibrahim Senoussi oversees local administration, including humanitarian works, so is familiar with the UN peacekeepers, whom Central Africans call casques bleus (blue helmets). The Pakistanis in N’délé are part of the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission to the Central African Republic (or MINUSCA), launched in September 2014.

Iran Executes Hundreds of People Each Year in Its UN-Funded War on Drugs

The latest session of the United Nations General Assembly is underway in New York City. The assembly has featured many speakers, including Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who used the platform to address extremism in the world as well as the landmark nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers.

One thing he did not mention was the death penalty. Iran has one of the globe’s highest rates of capital punishment, a fact that if ignored inside the chamber, was highlighted by protesters outside the General Assembly.

Hopes high for global climate deal’s early entry into force

Hopes for the early entry into force of the universal climate Paris Agreement will be boosted this week with a special meeting at the UN on 21 September where at least 20 countries are expected to announce they have ratified the agreement, and others will commit to ratifying it before the end of 2016.

The agreement requires 55 member countries representing 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions to ratify it before it can enter into force. In an unprecedented show of political will, more than 175 countries signed the agreement in April and more than 29 countries representing around 40 per cent of global emissions have ratified it to date.

Commenting on this, Regine Guenther, interim leader of WWF International’s Climate and Energy Practice said all actions which escalated climate action were welcome and necessary.

PM to meet Egypt’s President, amid human rights concerns

Prime Minister Theresa May is to meet the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, at a UN summit today, amid mounting concerns over the scale of rights abuses in Egypt.

According to reports today, Mrs May is set to meet Mr Sisi “on the margins” of a meeting of the UN General Assembly. The meeting comes as concerns rise over the abuses associated with Mr Sisi’s rule. Yesterday, the UK criticised Mr Sisi’s government at the UN Human Rights Council, saying: “Reports of torture, police abuses and enforced disappearances are deeply worrying. We call on the Government to release political detainees and end the use of pre-trial detention beyond its legal limits.” However, the statement omitted any mention of the Sisi government’s use of the death penalty, which has seen nearly two thousand prisoners handed death sentences in mass trials since July 2013.

UN human rights chief ‘deeply concerned’ over Ethiopia abuses

The UN’s human rights chief has used a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council to criticise Ethiopia for a recent crackdown on opposition which has included the kidnapping and sentencing to death of a British man, Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege.

Speaking this morning at the opening session of the Council, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “While Ethiopia has made impressive gains in terms of economic development, we are deeply concerned about repeated allegations of excessive and lethal use of force against protestors, enforced disappearances, and mass detentions, including of children, as well as by worrying restrictions on civil society, the media and opposition.”

The High Commissioner said it was “mystifying” that the Ethiopian government refused to allow his office access to parts of the country where human rights abuses – including the recent shooting of protestors – have been alleged.