Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The head of Amnesty International in Turkey was arrested over suspected links to the movement of the country's opposition leader Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for last year's failed coup, the human rights organization said.

Turkey Amnesty Head Arrested over Alleged Gulen Links

According to a statement on Amnesty's website, police arrested lawyer Taner Kilic along with 22 others in the western city of Izmir, all on suspicion of ties to the US-based Muslim cleric's movement, NDTV reported.

"We are calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kilic along with the other 22 lawyers, and drop all charges against them," Amnesty International's secretary general Salil Shetty said.

"Taner Kiliç has a long and distinguished record of defending exactly the kind of freedoms that the Turkish authorities are now intent on trampling," he said.

The arrests proved how "arbitrary" Ankara's post-coup crackdown had become, Shetty added.

The organization said it did not believe Kilic's arrest was connected to his work for Amnesty International, which he has directed in the country since 2014.

The Turkish government claims Gulen ordered the July 15 attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies the charges.

Over 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from the public sector under a state of emergency imposed a few days after foiled putsch and renewed three times.

Rights group have previously criticized the vast crackdown, saying it has extended well beyond the coup suspects and targeted opponents of President Erdogan.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Human rights organizations are finally catching up with the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to make Israel pay a price for its crimes against humanity.

Ban all Israeli settlement goods, Amnesty demands

7 June 2017 - On Wednesday, Amnesty International said that all states “must ban Israeli settlement products to help end half a century of violations against Palestinians.”

“The international community must ban the import of all goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements and put an end to the multimillion dollar profits that have fueled mass human rights violations against Palestinians,” Amnesty stated.

The group announced it was launching a campaign to mark this week’s 50th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, to urge governments to take this long overdue step.

Lawns and swimming pools - “For decades, the world has stood by as Israel has destroyed Palestinians’ homes and plundered their land and natural resources for profit,” Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said. “While the Palestinian economy has been stunted by 50 years of abusive policies, a thriving multimillion dollar settlement enterprise has been built out of the systematic oppression of the Palestinian population.”

Shetty described a “discriminatory and criminal settlement policy that enables Israeli settlers to live on stolen land in homes with irrigated lawns and swimming pools, while Palestinian communities on their doorstep are deprived of access to enough clean water or electricity to cover their basic needs.”

“Israel has made it abundantly clear that maintaining and expanding settlements takes priority over respect for international law,” Shetty added. “It’s time for the world to send a clear message that it will no longer tolerate the Israeli authorities’ blatant disregard for international law.”

Amnesty’s statement comes more than a year after Human Rights Watch called on businesses to end all activities in or with Israeli settlements.

Human Rights Watch also urged governments to withhold aid to Israel.

Amnesty’s position arguably goes further, by urging governments to ban the importation of settlement goods outright.

This is in line with a growing consensus among international law experts and jurists that trade with Israeli settlements violates international law.

But campaigners face strong opposition from governments that continue to support trade with settlements.

European complicity - The 28-member European Union, Israel’s largest trading partner, has imposed minimal requirements that goods from settlements be accurately labeled.

But the EU’s top envoy in Tel Aviv last year declared that settlement products were still “welcome” in European markets.

Emboldened by such complicity, Israel continues to aggressively expand its colonies on stolen Palestinian land, all of which are illegal under international law.

“It is utterly shocking that, since the occupation began 50 years ago, there has been virtually total impunity for the decades of war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations committed in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Amnesty’s Shetty said.

The group’s endorsement of a total ban on settlement goods is a welcome, if belated, step in bringing Israel and the governments complicit with such crimes to account.

Human Rights Watch is calling on all corporations to completely end their business activities in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem.
End all business in Israeli settlements, says Human Rights Watch

19 January 2016 In a report published Tuesday, the New York-based group is also urging governments to withhold aid to Israel.

“Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources,” Arvind Ganesan, director of the business and human rights division at Human Rights Watch , said in a press release.

“The only way for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities is to stop working with and in Israeli settlements,” Ganesan added.

The report, “Occupation, Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights,” will likely enrage Israel.

It will also prove a useful tool for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to explain to companies why they must end their complicity in Israel’s crimes.

This is the case even though Human Rights Watch insists it is “not calling for a consumer boycott of settlement companies, but rather for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities by ceasing settlement-related activities.”

According to the report, more than half a million Israelis live in 237 settlements across the occupied West Bank.

The only way is out - With its sweeping new recommendation, Human Rights Watch is departing from its earlier position that firms could “mitigate” the damage of doing business in settlements without necessarily pulling out completely.

Human Rights Watch now concludes that “the context of human rights abuse to which settlement business activity contributes is so pervasive and severe” that companies must end all activities in the settlements, including construction of housing or infrastructure and providing services such as waste disposal.

“They should also stop financing, administering, trading with or otherwise supporting settlements or settlement-related activities and infrastructure,” the report states.

The 162-page report examines in detail the ways businesses benefit from and contribute to Israel’s grave abuses of Palestinian rights, sometimes amounting to war crimes.

These include: benefitting from Israeli discrimination which allows companies to exploit Palestinian resources and workers; benefitting from and participating in the theft of land from Palestinian individuals and communities; assisting Israel’s destruction of the Palestinian economy; and making the settlements more viable by providing them with services and paying taxes to their municipalities.

Crushing Palestinian development - Israel’s colonization is also predicated on favoring development in Jewish settlements while actively suppressing Palestinian economic opportunities.

The report provides a strong refutation to frequent Israeli claims that settlement businesses should be tolerated or even celebrated because they provide employment and development for Palestinians.

It cites, for instance, a World Bank estimate that the Palestinian economy could generate an additional $3.4 billion – a 35 percent boost in GDP – if Israel lifted its discriminatory restrictions on Palestinian economic activity.

Similarly, economists have estimated that up to 200,000 jobs would be created if Palestinians were allowed to farm the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley, most of which Israel has seized for the exclusive use of settlers.

Near the Bethlehem-area village of Beit Fajjar, Human Rights Watch says, Israel has refused to license Palestinian-owned quarries and constantly harasses businesses by confiscating their equipment.

As a result of such policies, jobs are scarce.

Ibrahim, a local worker, told researchers that “If I would find work in Beit Fajjar, I would leave the settlements in the morning.”

By contrast, Israel has licensed a dozen Israeli-run quarries on confiscated Palestinian land.

One of them, Nahal Raba, is run by the German company HeidelbergCement, helping Israel violate international law that prohibits the theft of resources from an occupied territory.

Stealing land - In a case study of a 96-unit development in the Ariel settlement, the report cites the role of the US-based global real estate franchise RE/MAX and an Israeli bank in financing, marketing and profiting from the illegal colonization of Palestinian land.

It also describes the devastating impact Ariel and its ever-growing extensions has had on the villages whose land has been stolen for their development.

By supporting such housing developments, the report states, firms like RE/MAX and the Israeli bank “help the illegal settlements in the West Bank to function as viable housing markets, enabling the government to transfer settlers there.”

This transfer is a crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Human Rights Watch does not name the bank in its case study, stressing that the companies profiled in the report are examples among hundreds doing business in the settlements.

However the official marketing brochure for Green Ariel, the development mentioned in the report, offers mortgages from Mizrahi Tefahot Bank.

This is one of five big Israeli banks from which several major pension funds have recently divested because of their role in financing settlements.

“I don’t sell to Arabs” - Businesses financing, selling and promoting settlements are also active participants in Israel’s officially endorsed system of anti-Palestinian racism.

“Given the character of settlements as almost exclusively Jewish and the rules that effectively bar Palestinian residents of the West Bank from living there, agents selling property there effectively contribute to discrimination against Palestinians,” Human Rights Watch states.

The report cites Israeli sources confirming that separate and unequal development is the raison d’etre of the settlement enterprise; the government-backed World Zionist Organization Settlement Division has said, for instance, that colonization of the West Bank is aimed at “strengthening Jewish settlement in the country’s periphery.”

“I don’t buy from or sell to Arabs. It’s not racism, I just prefer not to deal with [them],” one RE/MAX agent who lists settlement properties in occupied East Jerusalem told Human Rights Watch.

It seems clear that such agents work a discriminatory system both knowingly and willfully.

Exploiting workers - Human Rights Watch also focuses on an Israeli company that produced bed linens for a US retailer in the Barkan Industrial Zone, a West Bank settlement built on land confiscated from Palestinian owners.

It is one of approximately 20 Israeli-run industrial zones in the occupied West Bank where companies can move to avoid environmental regulations.

This company paid Palestinian workers much less than the Israeli minimum wage, taking advantage of the fact that Israel’s labor laws have not been enforced for Palestinian workers in the settlements.

Palestinian women received $2 per hour and said they did not receive vacation, sick days or overtime.

Human Rights Watch did not name the company “because it has since relocated from Barkan to Israel.”

However, the description provided fits a company called Royalife, which markets its linens through the US retailer Pottery Barn.

Hani, a Palestinian university student from Salfit village, worked at a factory in Barkan making Hanukkah candles.

He told Human Rights Watch that he worked 12-hour shifts with a single 30-minute break.

He received $2 per hour, a third of Israel’s minimum wage.

The fact that Palestinian workers are totally dependent on Israeli occupation authorities for work permits makes it all but impossible for Palestinians to effectively challenge these abusive conditions.

Human Rights Watch - says the reality belies claims by settlers and their supporters that places like Barkan are models of “coexistence” that build “bridges to peace.”

This kind of pro-settlement propaganda is regularly promoted by liberal Zionists in the US, including Jewish Daily Forward editor Jane Eisner.

In defending Sodastream’s settlement factory, Eisner’s newspaper insisted that the company was providing “well-paying jobs” for Palestinians and was not “profiting from the occupation.”

But such “rosy sentiments ignore the deeply discriminatory environment in which settlement businesses operate, and Palestinian workers’ vulnerability to abuse,”

Withhold aid to Israel - Among its recommendations, Human Rights Watch urges states to “avoid offsetting the costs of Israeli government expenditures on settlements by withholding funding given to the Israeli government in an amount equivalent to its expenditures on settlements and related infrastructure in the West Bank.”

Given the billions it is estimated to spend on settlements, that would all but wipe out aid to Israel.

This call for cutting aid is not likely to please the Obama administration, which regularly boasts that no US administration has been more generous to Israel.

Before he leaves office next January, President Barack Obama hopes to conclude a deal that could see annual US military subsidies to Israel boosted by up to 50 percent.

And while the European Union recently took the minimal step of requiring accurate labeling of settlement goods, the 28-member bloc has continued to generously fund Israel, including its military research and its settlements.

Indeed, staunch Israeli allies, including Greece’s left-wing Syriza government, are actively trying to undermine the already weak labeling policy.

Amid such destructive complicity, the call by Human Rights Watch to end all settlement business is a welcome, if belated, move in the right direction.

It provides a clear endorsement and boost for those who have been working for years to bring real and effective pressure on Israel and its accomplices to end their crimes.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Amnesty International

A leading human rights group said the current measures imposed by some Arab states on Qatar are causing “suffering, heartbreak and fear” to many ordinary people.

Rights Group Says Blockade Causing 'Suffering, Heartbreak, Fear' Among Qataris

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are toying with the lives of thousands of residents as part of their dispute with Qatar, splitting up families and destroying peoples’ livelihoods and education,” Amnesty International said, TeleSUR reported.

The three countries, along with Egypt, cut diplomatic ties to Qatar and closed their airspace to commercial flights on Monday.

Yemen, Libya's Eastern-based government and the Maldives joined the move later.

They are accusing Doha of supporting militant groups and financing the terrorism.

They also barred their citizens from traveling to Qatar, residing in it or passing through it, and advised them to leave within 14 days.

Qataris were given 14 days to get out of their countries.

Qatar denies financing rebel militias and has hit back at the measures, with the nation's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani labelling them a "violation of international law".

The measures are more severe than during a previous rift, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha in 2014, alleging Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and across the region.

Qatar's National Human Rights Committee said more than 11,000 nationals of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and UAE live in Qatar and many Qataris also live in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and UAE. It had received over 400 complaints submitted by citizens from these countries, claiming they were severely affected by the diplomatic row.

A Saudi Arabian man told Amnesty International l that he is unable to visit his mother, who is seriously ill in hospital in Saudi Arabia, because if he did he would not be able to return to Qatar to be with his wife and children.

One Qatari student said all her classes in the UAE for the rest of the year had been canceled and she was concerned about whether she can continue her education.

“These drastic measures are already having a brutal effect, splitting children from parents and husbands from wives. People from across the region, not only from Qatar, but also from the states implementing these measures, risk losing jobs and having their education disrupted,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Global Issues Program.

All the states involved in this dispute must ensure their actions do not lead to human rights violations.”

The countries also warned their own citizens that they could face harsh penalties if they express “sympathy or favoritism to Qatar.

The United Arab Emirates says anyone who violates this edict could face up to 15 years in jail, while state-controlled Saudi Arabian media said it could offenders could be prosecuted under cyber crime laws.

Bahrain's Interior Ministry also announced that anyone who made such an expression either on or off line would be punished with five years in prison and a fine under the Penal Code.

“Prosecuting anyone on this basis would be a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression. No one should be punished for peacefully expressing their views or criticizing a government decision,” Lynch said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday urged these countries to ease their blockade against Qatar, saying it was causing “unintended” humanitarian consequences.

In contrast to Tillerson's approach, the US President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday, "The nation of Qatar unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level".


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
angelburst29 said:
The head of Amnesty International in Turkey was arrested over suspected links to the movement of the country's opposition leader Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for last year's failed coup, the human rights organization said.

Turkey Amnesty Head Arrested over Alleged Gulen Links

According to a statement on Amnesty's website, police arrested lawyer Taner Kilic along with 22 others in the western city of Izmir, all on suspicion of ties to the US-based Muslim cleric's movement, NDTV reported.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused on Saturday the international human rights organization Amnesty International of preparing a new coup attempt in the country, citing intelligence data.

Turkish Intelligence Believes Amnesty International Preparing Coup in Country

On Wednesday, Director of Amnesty International Turkey Idil Eser and seven other Turkish human rights activists, as well as German and Swedish nationals, were detained during a conference on the Buyukada Island near Istanbul.

On Thursday and Saturday, Amnesty International demanded their release. At a press conference after the G20 summit in Hamburg, one of the journalists reminded Erdogan that Amnesty International had been defending him when the then-Turkish authorities arrested him for four months in 1997. The journalist also called for the protection of detained human rights activists.

"They put me in prison because I read a poem. Why they (activists) were detained, not arrested, but detained for now? According to intelligence, they gathered in a hotel on Buyukada Island to discuss some way to continue the attempted coup, and so our police detained them. Now their case will be examined in court, I do not know what will be revealed as a result of the investigation," Erdogan said.

In July 2016, a failed military coup took place in Turkey, leaving over 240 people killed and some 2,000 injured. After the incident, Ankara introduced an official state of emergency in the country. Following the coup, thousands of people, mostly officials, legal and educational workers, were detained or dismissed over alleged ties to the movement of US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of masterminding the coup. Gulen has rejected the accusations and has condemned the coup attempt.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Human Rights organizations condemned Bahraini regime for sentencing prominent rights activist to two years in jail, accusing Nabeel Rajab of spreading "false news" about the situation inside the country.

Bahrain’s Prison Verdict for Activist Draws HR Group’s Criticism

Amnesty International has called the US-backed regime's move a “flagrant violation of human rights,” as another leading international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW), described the oil-rich Persian Gulf regime's move as "a testament to the sham nature of this Bahraini judicial proceeding", Al Waght reported.

Nabeel Rajab was sentenced earlier Monday over television interviews in which prosecutors claim he disseminated rumors and false information regarding Bahrain.

Rajab, who according to HRW is one of the Arab world's leading human rights defenders, was convicted of "disseminating false news, statements and rumors about the internal situation of the kingdom that would undermine its prestige and status," a judicial source told the official BNA news agency, as cited by AFP.

The 52-year-old was sentenced in absentia, as he has been hospitalized since April, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.

HRW Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson denounced the verdict, saying "Nabeel's work will continue for generations until Bahrainis share the same human rights as free people around the world".

Amnesty International also slammed the inhuman rule and suggested that Nabeel Rajab had been sentenced "for speaking to journalists" and that he had "spent over a year in pre-trial detention, largely in solitary confinement."

"His lawyers state he was denied basic fair trial guarantees," the group said in a statement.

Rajab’s cousin, Sheikh Maytham al Salman, denounced the trial of his relative as “an attempt by the government of Bahrain to silence all forms of criticism for human rights violations” and added that Rajab “was not given any access to meet his family or talk to his family or meet his lawyers in the last couple of days.”

He also called on the international community and specifically the US, the UK and the EU to “play a role in countering and stopping and putting an end to the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.”

The decision has also been slammed by Amnesty International, which said it exposes a "relentless campaign" by Bahraini authorities to "wipe out dissent."

"Imprisoning Nabeel Rajab simply for sharing his opinion is a flagrant violation of human rights, and an alarming sign that the Bahraini authorities will go to any length to silence criticism," Amnesty's secretary-general, Salil Shetty, said.

"Bahrain’s government and judiciary have once again tightened their chokehold on freedom of expression and branded Rajab a criminal," he added.

Rajab, who helped lead Bahrain's Arab Spring protests in 2011, was arrested on the "fake news" charges in June 2016.

He is also awaiting an August 7 trial for a series of tweets in which he criticized the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, according to the Bahrain Institute.

Rajab faces up to 15 years in jail if he is found guilty in that trial.

The 52-year-old has also been arrested numerous other times. In 2015, he spent two months in jail after alleging in a tweet that some of Bahrain's soldiers had defected to ISIL, before being pardoned for health reasons.

Saeed Sehabi, director of Bahrain Free Movement, also told RT that he believes Rajab’s harsh sentence is a part of an ongoing clampdown on civil liberties being waged by Bahrain’s leaders.

"The essence of the story is that no one should say anything. You have to accept the slave-master relationship. That you, Bahraini, are slaves for Al Khalifa [King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa],” Sehabi said, adding that the activist was jailed because he “chose to be a freeman, like more than 4,000 prisoners at this moment of time".

Speculating on what might have infuriated the authorities most, Sehabi cited Rajab’s vociferous condemnation of the war in Yemen.

“What is happening in Yemen today is nothing but war crimes; this is according to United Nations experts. Nabeel Rajab only reiterated what others have been saying,” Sehabi pointed out, adding that the activist had encouraged others to take a stand and condemn the “aggressive war on defenseless people” in Yemen, as well as the arrest and detention of human rights and political activists.

Sehabi said that Rajab’s activism is part of a wider opposition movement that sprang from the Arab Spring of 2011.

Anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country on February 14, 2011. People have been demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and a just system representing all Bahrainis be established. Many people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or been arrested, illegally detained and brutally tortured while many have seen their citizenship revoked. In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to aid Bahrain in its brutal crackdown.

The US Takes Humanitarian Gesture, Rebukes Al Khalifa's Move

In a face-saving measure the US Department of stated expressed disappointment by its Persian Gulf ally's verdict saying it "reaffirms previous calls for his release."

"We believe no one anywhere should be prosecuted or imprisoned for exercising their human rights or fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression or peaceful assembly," the Department of State said in its press statement on the issue.

The tiny Persian Gulf Island hosts US and UK marine bases and enjoys their support to crack down Bahraini people's pro-democracy uprising.

However Bahraini people are sure that they resistance will bear fruit and regional and international supports will not dissuade them from perusing their democratic demands.

“The Anglo-American, Saudi, Israeli alliance appears to be in dominance but, in reality, they are weak. You only resort to this tactics if you are weak, if you are strong, you allow people to speak, to protest. If you are weak, you do not. So this is what is happening,” director of Bahrain Free Movement said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the United Kingdom is profiting from the suffering of Yemeni civilians by selling arms to Saudi Arabia.
HRW: UK Profiting from Yemeni Civilians Suffering

The prominent rights group made the remarks in a press release on Tuesday, after a UK High Court ruling earlier in the week declared that London’s arms sales to Riyadh were not illegal, presstv reported.

Describing the judgment as terrible news for Yemeni civilians, the HRW also expressed disappointment at the ruling for not helping pressure Riyadh to end its “unlawful attacks” in the war-torn country.

The organization said it had identified at least 81 unlawful attacks conducted by the Saudi-led coalition on schools, markets, hospitals and homes.

In March 2015, the Saudi regime and its allies, backed by the US, began a military campaign against Yemen to reinstall its former government. The war has killed over 12,000 civilians since then.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has recently licensed £3.5 billion worth of arms export to the Saudi kingdom.

The war-stricken country is also grappling with the cholera epidemic, which has surpassed 300,000 cases and continues to spiral out of control since it erupted in April.

International organizations, including the United Nations and the Red Cross, say the Saudi war and an embargo may be responsible for the cholera epidemic.

Over two years of war and conflict have significantly reduced Yemen’s public healthcare capabilities. All operating hospitals and clinics are now over-burdened by the epidemic for the lack of medicine, equipment and staff.

Nearly 3.3 million Yemeni people, including 2.1 million children, are currently suffering from acute malnutrition.

A senior Iraqi military official rejected as “baseless” an Amnesty International report accusing government forces of human rights violations during the months-long battle to liberate Mosul from ISIL terrorists.
Iraqi Military Rejects Amnesty Report on Mosul Abuses as Baseless

According to Shafaqna, the Amnesty released a report on Tuesday, saying, “Iraqi government and US-led coalition forces appear to have committed repeated violations of international humanitarian law, some of which may amount to war crimes.”

Mosul’s liberation operation officially came to an end on Monday, with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declaring victory in the city, three years after it fell to Daesh.

However, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool defended on Wednesday the performance of Iraqi armed forces during the liberation operation, saying the Amnesty report is baseless, and does not reflect the realities on the ground in Mosul.

He stressed that the Iraqi army used light and medium arms during the offensive in Mosul, and was careful in using heavy weaponry for fear of civilian lives.

During their advances, Iraqi forces would discover mutilated bodies scattered on the streets of Mosul, the commander added, stressing that they were appalled by the disturbing scenes in the city, which once served as Daesh’s main stronghold in the country.

Amnesty’s report further said during the part of the fight aimed at freeing the city’s Western side, civilians were “subjected to relentless and unlawful attacks by Iraqi government forces and members of the US-led coalition. Residents of west Mosul count themselves lucky if they escape with their lives.”

The report cited the Airwars monitoring group as saying that “between 19 February and 19 June 2017, attacks launched by Iraqi and coalition forces may have caused the deaths of as many as 5,805 civilians.”

It added that the figure might even amount to an underestimation as it has been difficult for monitors to record deaths and injuries due to the intensity of the fighting and Daesh’s ban on the use of mobile phones in areas under its control.

Over all, the Amnesty said, the anti-terror fight generated a “civilian catastrophe.”

Also reacting to the accusations, Col. Joe Scrocca, a coalition Spokesman, described the report as “irresponsible” and said, “War is not pleasant, and pretending that it should be is foolish and places the lives of civilians and soldiers alike at risk.”

The Washington-led alliance launched its aerial military campaign in Iraq in June 2014. The coalition has, time and again, been accused of disregard for civilian lives during the campaign.

In another part of its report, the rights group accused the Daesh terrorists of flagrantly violating international humanitarian law by deliberately putting civilian lives at risk and using them as shields to protect the militants and impede the advance of Iraqi and coalition forces.

Human Rights Watch slammed the Myanmar regime for blocking a UN team probing abuse of Rohingya Muslims.
HRW Slams Myanmar for Blocking UN Team Probing Abuse of Muslims

The Myanmar regime refused to grant visas to a UN team investigating the plight of Rohingya Muslims, a move that has angered human rights activists, Al Waght reported.

The teams was to investigate killings, rape and torture by security forces against Rohingya Muslims, but Myanmar claims it is conducting its own probe into the atrocities by its security forces and extremist Buddhists against the minority group.

Speaking on Wednesday, John Fisher, a Human Rights Watch representative in Geneva, said the refusal amounts to "a slap in the face of victims who suffered grave human rights violations by Myanmar's state security forces."

"Does Aung San Suu Kyi's government really want to be included in a very small and ignominious club of countries that reject Human Rights Council decisions?" he added, noting that “it would be a travesty” for Myanmar to obstruct the work of independent, international investigators.

Suu Kyi is currently the de facto leader of Myanmar as she is barred from holding the position of president under the country’s army-drafted constitution.

The north of Myanmar's Rakhine state has been under lockdown since October, when the military launched a campaign to hunt down Rohingya Muslims.

A UN report in February said the campaign against the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship and other rights in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, "very likely" amounted to war crimes.

In May, the Geneva-based rights council appointed Indira Jaising of India, Radhika Coomaraswamy of Sri Lanka and Christopher Dominic Sidoti of Australia to serve as the three members of the UN mission.

The mission was ordered to "urgently" investigate abuses reportedly committed by the security forces, particularly in Rakhine state where troops have been accused of raping, torturing and murdering members of the Rohingya community.

Rakhine State in west Myanmar has seen the most serious violence perpetrated against Muslims in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar since the military began to end its decades of strict rule. Reports indicate that thousands of Rohingya Muslims killed and hundreds of thousands displaced there in communal unrest in 2012 in what appears to be a deliberate state-backed policy of ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar's government regards the approximately one million Rohingya as illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh and denies them citizenship, even though Rohingya families have lived there for centuries.

The United Nations has established a fact-finding mission to investigate crimes against humanity committed by Myanmar's military during a brutal crackdown against Muslims which started last October.

According to the UN, the Rohingya Muslims are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
angelburst29 said:
Turkey Amnesty Head Arrested over Alleged Gulen Links

Turkish Intelligence Believes Amnesty International Preparing Coup in Country
Turkey has arrested Amnesty International’s local director

IT WAS the sort of intervention on behalf of a persecuted opposition politician that Amnesty International carries out hundreds of times a year. In 1998, after Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then the mayor of Istanbul, was jailed for a speech in which he read out a religiously themed poem, the human-rights group termed him a “prisoner of conscience” and wrote to the government demanding his release. Nineteen years later, Mr. Erdogan, now Turkey’s president, presides over an increasingly authoritarian regime. And his police force has arrested Amnesty International’s own staff along with other human-rights activists. So it was to Mr. Erdogan that the group found itself writing last week to demand the release of detainees. He shows little sign of softening.

More than 50,000 people have been jailed in the purges that followed the attempted coup in Turkey on July 15th last year. But the latest arrests nevertheless shocked human-rights advocates, if only because their colleagues were the targets. On July 5th Turkish police detained ten human-rights activists attending a cyber-security training session, on suspicion of membership in an “armed terrorist organisation”. Those arrested include Idil Eser, the director of Amnesty International’s Turkish branch, and two foreign trainers. A month earlier, the chairman of the branch’s board, Taner Kilic, had been jailed on similar accusations.

Other rights organisations and a few politicians—including Kati Piri, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, and Carl Bildt, the former prime minister of Sweden—have called for the activists to be freed immediately. But on July 11th Turkish authorities extended the ten activists’ detention for another week. They will observe this weekend’s national commemoration of the anniversary of the failed coup from jail.

Turkey’s government blames the military rebellion on the Gulen Movement, a secretive Islamic sect, claiming that its crackdown is aimed at rooting out the movement’s members and protecting democracy. In fact, it has also targeted the political opposition, the independent judiciary and the free press. More than 4,000 judges and lawyers have been dismissed and over 120 journalists are in prison, more than in any other country in the world.

Over the past three weeks, to protest against the mass arrests, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey's opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), led a “March for Justice” from Ankara to Istanbul. When the march reached Istanbul, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators turned out to rally. But the march should not be seen as a sign that Turkey’s civil society remains strong, says John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe director. In fact its room to operate is shrinking.

So far, most other countries have either issued empty condemnations of Turkey’s human-rights violations or ignored them entirely. The West has a strong interest in maintaining friendly relations with Mr Erdogan. The European Union depends on him to enforce a deal, struck in March 2016, to limit the number of migrants coming to Europe. America and other NATO members rely on Turkish co-operation in Syria’s civil war and the fight against Islamic State. And they worry that if they alienate Mr Erdogan, he may move even closer to Russia, as he hinted this week by confirming an order to buy Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles.

But though Western governments have mostly let pass Mr Erdogan’s claims that he is simply pursuing those involved in the coup, arrests of Amnesty International staff make it hard for them to keep ignoring the situation. “The use of criminal proceedings against human-rights unfortunately an increasingly frequent phenomenon” in Turkey, says Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights. Mr Muiznieks notes that Turkey was one of the first signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights, which it has abrogated during the state of emergency that has been in place since the coup.

The arrests have prodded Europe and America to take some hesitant action. Matthias Zimmer, the chairman of the German Bundestag’s committee on human rights, met Turkey’s ambassador to demand that Ms Eser and Mr Kilic be released. There have also been some quiet efforts at higher levels of the German government to appeal to Mr Erdogan. But relations between the two countries are at a low ebb. In April, after Germany blocked Turkish politicians from addressing Turkish-Germans in support of Mr Erdogan’s campaign for more power, he accused the country of “Nazi practices”. It is unlikely that Germany retains much influence over him.

For its part, America’s State Department issued a statement expressing “deep concern” over the arrests. But Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, made no public comment about the detained activists during his visit to Istanbul on July 9th-10th. Salil Shetty, the secretary general of Amnesty International, travelled to Hamburg last week to urge leaders at the G20 meeting to press Mr Erdogan, but they said nothing in public. “The situation is not being ignored”, says Mr Dalhuisen. “But concerns articulated behind closed doors need to be aired.”

US violated international law in fighting ISIS, Amnesty International claims (RT - 4:53 min.)

Published on Jul 12, 2017
Amnesty International issued a report determining the US and its coalition broke international law while battling Islamic State in Syria, citing a disaster for the civilians of Mosul. RT America’s Alex Mihailovich has more coming out of the Mosul fallout.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
An execution site with 17 apparent victims of extrajudicial killings was found near the Old City of West Mosul, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. The find is among a flood of evidence of atrocities being committed by Iraqi troops, the rights group pointed out.

HRW says mass execution site found in Mosul as Iraqi govt admits ‘individual acts’ of abuse

The site was studied by “international observers, whose evidence has proven reliable in the past,” HRW said in its latest report. It was located in a Mosul neighborhood west of the Old City retaken from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) back in April.

An unnamed shopkeeper reportedly led observers into an empty building in the area and showed them “a row of 17 male corpses, barefoot but in civilian dress, surrounded by pools of blood.”

Many of the corpses were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind the back. The shopkeeper told the observers Monday that the Iraqi Security Forces’ 16th Division – recognizable by their badges and vehicles – has been in the area four nights before, and that he heard multiple gunshots from the area around the empty building. The bodies that he saw next morning were lying in positions suggesting they were shot dead there.

The discovery is one of several instances of suspected extrajudicial killings by Iraqi troops in Mosul, HRW continued. Another international observer told the organization that on July 10, a unit of Iraq’s elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) forced a handcuffed man into a destroyed shop located west to the Old City. Several gunshots were heard. The man’s body with several bullet holes in the back of his head was found inside the shop after the soldiers left.
HRW cited other reports of suspected killings of people accused of being IS affiliates in various parts of Mosul, once Iraq’s second-largest city.

There are also reports of torture and abuse of civilians blamed of siding with Islamists. In one case, Iraqi soldiers brought at least five suspects out of the Old City and strapped them to the hoods of their Humvee vehicles, when temperatures in the city often reached 48 degrees Celsius, (118 degrees Fahrenheit), the group said.

Allegations of such abuses are sometimes backed by footage taken by perpetrators themselves, the report, said. Iraqi troops seem “to have so little fear that they will face any consequence for murdering and torturing suspects in Mosul that they are freely sharing evidence of what look like very cruel exploits in videos and photographs,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, a Middle East director at HRW.

“Excusing such celebratory revenge killings will haunt Iraq for generations to come,” she warned. “Relentless reports, videos, and photographs of unlawful executions and beatings by Iraqi soldiers should be enough to raise serious concerns among the highest ranks in Baghdad and the international coalition combatting ISIS,” Whitson said.

“As we well know, in Iraq, if the government doesn’t provide an accounting for these murders, the Iraqi people may take matters into their own hands.”

The Iraqi government has acknowledged the possibility of its troops being complicit in human rights violations but maintains it has not become commonplace.

“Any violation against the law or any violation against a person’s dignity is not acceptable and we will chase them (perpetrators) down,”Prime Minister Haider Abadi said according to AP. He added these “individual acts” will not be tolerated.

“As Prime Minister Abadi enjoys victory in Mosul, he is ignoring the flood of evidence of his soldiers committing vicious war crimes in the very city he’s promised to liberate,” Whitson commented.

“Abadi’s victory will collapse unless he takes concrete steps to end the grotesque abuses by his own security forces.”

Iraqi forces reclaimed Mosul earlier this month, some three years after the city was captured by Islamic State militants. The atrocities committed by the jihadists have gained worldwide notoriety. But critics of the Iraqi troops say their exploits in liberated Mosul can be equated to the actions of the Islamists they have ousted.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Amnesty International is condemning Israeli threats to punish the human rights group over its call on countries to ban the import of goods made in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Amnesty slams Israeli threats to punish it over settlement boycott call

“The reports that the Israeli government plans to punish Amnesty International over its settlements campaign are deeply alarming,” the group said. “While we have not been officially informed of any such action by the authorities, if true, this would be a serious setback to freedom of expression and an ominous sign for the ability of human rights nongovernmental organizations in Israel to operate freely and without arbitrary interference.”

Last June, Amnesty urged countries around the world to ban the import of all goods produced in Israeli settlements, saying this was necessary to “put an end to the multimillion dollar profits that have fueled mass human rights violations against Palestinians.”

All Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights are illegal under international law.

On Tuesday, Israeli media reported that Israel’s finance ministry plans to strip Amnesty’s Israeli section of its tax-exempt charitable status – a move that could impose a financial cost on the group by discouraging individuals from making donations.

According to the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz, this would be the “first time the government will apply the so-called anti-boycott law, which penalizes organizations and individuals calling for a boycott of Israel or the settlements.”

That law was passed in 2011 and blessed by Israel’s high court in 2015.

“Brazen attack” - Taking punitive action against Amnesty International over its settlements campaign would constitute a brazen attack by the Israeli authorities on the organization’s legitimate human rights work,” Amnesty’s Middle East director Magdalena Mughrabi said. “It would also be the latest effort by the authorities to silence human rights organizations and activists who criticize the Israeli government and call for accountability.”

Israel has been intensifying pressure on local and international human rights groups.

Earlier this year, it refused entry to Human Rights Watch’s Palestine director Omar Shakir, before eventually allowing him in.

Since 2010, Israel has systematically blocked the entry of Human Rights Watch’s investigators to Gaza.

Israeli groups that document violations against Palestinians, including B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, have faced a campaign of incitement in which government ministers have referred to them as “traitors” and “enemies.”

Earlier this month, Israeli prosecutors charged a man with planning to set fire to the offices of Breaking the Silence and making threats against organizations and individuals he deemed “atheist.”

Last year, Israel passed a law tightening monitoring of human rights groups receiving funding from foreign governments.

Death threats and harassment - Palestinian human rights defenders have faced death threats and harassment that a veteran analyst has suggested are linked to an Israeli government-directed campaign of “black ops.”

Last year, Amnesty International expressed its fears for the “safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti, and other boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists, following calls alluding to threats, including of physical harm and deprivation of basic rights, made by Israeli ministers.”

In June, Germany took the unusual step of criticizing Israel’s restrictions on civil society groups, likening its measures to repression in Hungary, China and Russia.

This came two months after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boycotted a meeting with German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel over the latter’s meetings with members of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.

In reaction to the news it may now be punished for its stance, Amnesty reiterated its call for a ban on settlement goods – an action that would be taken by governments.

“Amnesty International generally does not support or oppose consumer boycotts,” it added. “The organization does however defend people’s rights to participate in and advocate for boycotts if they choose to and has campaigned on behalf of those who have been punished for doing so.”

Israeli banks are deeply and voluntarily involved in Israel’s theft and colonization of Palestinian land, a war crime under international law.
Why is Human Rights Watch urging engagement with Israel’s banks?

Israeli banks claim that Israel’s laws require them to be involved in the colonization of occupied Palestinian – and Syrian – land in violation of international law.

But Human Rights Watch has concluded in a new report that there is nothing in Israeli law that forces the banks to provide many financial services that aid the theft of Palestinian land for Jewish settlements.

While welcoming the report, human rights defenders are criticizing its recommendation that international investors “engage” with Israeli banks, rather than simply divesting.

Omar Barghouti, a founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights, praised the Human Rights Watch analysis as “truly remarkable,” but called this recommendation “really problematic.”

All five big Israeli banks – Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, First International Bank of Israel and Israel Discount Bank – are heavily involved in settlements.

By providing services to settlements, Israeli banks “violate their international law responsibilities to avoid contributing to human rights and other abuses, including unlawful land seizures, discrimination against Palestinians and de facto annexation of the West Bank by Israel,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement. “Without these banking activities, settlement maintenance and expansion would be more difficult.”

Human Rights Watch emphasizes that Israel’s colonization is a war crime that entails serious violations of human rights.

Given such concerns, the United Methodist Church in the US and the Dutch pension fund PGGM have already divested from Israeli banks.

But major European financial institutions – even some that have divested from other firms complicit in the occupation – have yet to do so.

Dozens of organizations, political parties and trade unions recently urged French insurance giant AXA to dump its investments in Israeli banks.

Willful participants - “In Human Rights Watch’s view, the context of human rights abuse to which settlement business activity contributes is so pervasive and severe that businesses cannot fulfill their human rights responsibilities if they continue carrying out activities inside or for the benefit of settlements, including financing, providing services to, or otherwise supporting settlements or settlement-related activities and infrastructure,” the report states.

It debunks claims made by Israeli banks that they are required under Israel’s “anti-discrimination” laws to provide such services.

But Human Rights Watch concedes that Israeli law does require the banks to maintain accounts “for settlement entities and residents of settlements” – a fact that has prompted criticism of the report’s recommendations.

“After proving that Israeli banks are deeply complicit – out of their own volition – in Israel’s war crimes and serious human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, Human Rights Watch should have called for or at least suggested ending all financial transactions and investments in these banks, not ‘engaging’ them without a deadline,” BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada.

The recommendation smacks of the discredited “constructive engagement” policy towards apartheid South Africa that President Ronald Reagan and other opponents of sanctions on that racist regime promoted in the 1980s.

But Sari Bashi, Human Rights Watch’s advocacy director in Jerusalem, denies that the open-ended call to “engage” with the banks could provide an excuse for delays.

“On the contrary,” she told The Electronic Intifada, “we offer investors information that we think will help them reach a decision.”

How to be “settlement-free” - “As a general matter, around the globe, Human Rights Watch is neutral on the issue of divestment and related forms of shareholder activism,” Bashi stated. “However, we believe that investors have the responsibility to assess and ensure that their investments do not contribute or support violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.”

She said that institutional investors should “ensure that their business relationships are free from settlement-related products or investments,” and if the banks failed to respond adequately, the institutional investors should take whatever action they see fit.

But Barghouti counters that the recommendation to engage “gives the patently false and misleading impression that investors can verify that their funding is not contributing to or assisting settlement activity while Israeli banks continue to do business in and with settlements.”

Given the fungibility of financial investments – which means that money invested in one place will free up money to be used somewhere else – there are only two ways investors can really verify that their investments are truly “settlement-free,” according to Barghouti: either the investors withdraw all their investments from the complicit banks, or the banks cease their complicity by completely ending their operations and business in and with the settlements regime.

According to Barghouti, Israeli banks’ involvement in serious violations of human rights are moreover not limited to their role in the settlements. For example, Israeli banks provide services to and promote manufacturers of weapons used against Palestinians and Lebanese.

Yet by focusing solely on the settlements, Barghouti said the report “gives another false impression that Israeli banks may meet their obligations under international law if they end all their business in and with settlements. This is obviously not true.”

“Misleading” - John Veron, of Article 1 Collective, a group that promotes the use of international law to hold human rights violators accountable, told The Electronic Intifada that the report is “a valuable contribution to the discussion on Israeli banks’ complicity in violations of human rights.”

But Veron also considers Human Rights Watch’s recommendations that investors engage with the Israeli banks troubling.

“They wrongfully suggest these investors are able to meet their human rights responsibilities through engaging with Israeli banks based on Israeli domestic law,” Veron added. “This ignores the fact that it is international law and international human rights law which should be guiding institutional investors in their engagement with Israeli banks.”

Under the definition used by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Israeli settlements are not just brick-and-mortar buildings, but “encompass all physical and non-physical structures and processes that constitute, enable and support the establishment, expansion and maintenance of Israeli residential communities” in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The same reasoning would apply to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights of Syria.

According to Veron, the inclusion of “physical and non-physical structures and processes” in the definition of settlements makes it clear that the provision of financial services is “to be understood as an integral part of the Israeli settlements, and thus an integral part of the war crime” of settlements.

Veron added: “Based on Human Rights Watch’s report, institutional investors can come to only one conclusion: to meet their human rights responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, institutional investors have to divest from Israeli banks.”

Despite the criticisms, Barghouti said the Human Rights Watch report provides “an irrefutable argument that Israeli banks are voluntarily, not legally obligated to be, involved in grave violations of international law.”

“This should convince more institutional investors in Israeli banks to follow the principled and courageous example of the United Methodist Church and the massive Dutch pension fund PGGM by ending all investment in Israeli banks,” Barghouti added. “They are a pillar of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Human Rights Watch said in a report that the US-led coalition killed at least 84 civilians, including 30 children, when it carried out two airstrikes near Raqqa in March.

US-Led Coalition Airstrikes Near Raqqa Killed at Least 84 Civilians - Report

The US-led coalition fighting Daesh terror group killed at least 84 civilians, including 30 children, when it carried out two airstrikes near Raqqa in March,
Human Rights Watch said in a report on Monday.

"Two aerial attacks near Raqqa, Syria in March killed at least 84 civilians, including 30 children and raise concerns that US-led coalition forces fighting the extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS or Daesh in Arabic) did not take adequate precautions to minimize civilian casualties," Human Rights Watch said in a press release announcing the release of the report.

The rights group said its conclusions were based on an on-the-ground investigation of the attacks in two towns west of Raqqa, one on a school housing for displaced families in Mansourah on March 20, and a second on a market and bakery in Tabqa on March 22.

Human Rights Watch discovered that fighters from Daesh were at both locations, but so were many civilians.

"The coalition should conduct thorough, prompt and impartial investigations of the attacks, do everything feasible to prevent similar attacks and provide compensation or condolence payments to people who suffered losses due to the coalition's operations," Human Rights Watch said.

The US-led coalition's Combined Joint Task Force has acknowledged that it struck the Mansourah school, but said it targeted what it believed was a headquarters and weapons storage facility for Daesh, adding that it thought no civilians were present.

The coalition has said it is still investigating allegations that its aircraft killed dozens of civilians in the Tabqa market attack.

"These attacks killed dozens of civilians, including children, who had sought shelter in a school or were lining up buy bread at a bakery," Human Rights Watch Deputy Emergencies Director Ole Solvang said. "If coalition forces did not know that there were civilians at these sites, they need to take a long, hard look at the intelligence they are using to verify its targets because it clearly was not good enough."

The Public Affairs Office of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) told Sputnik that the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria is looking into a report by an international watchdog about civilian deaths as a result of the two airstrikes.

"The Coalition is currently assessing these allegations. The CJTF-OIR September Civilian Casualty Report set to be released later next week will provide the current status of these allegations," the press office said.

International law requires all parties to a conflict to take precautions to avoid civilian casualties.

Human Rights Watch has documented previous coalition attacks on civilians in Syria, including a March 16, 2017 US airstrike on a mosque near al-Jinah, west of Aleppo, that killed dozens of civilians.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
A dozen of Amnesty International activists arrested in Turkey may be imprisoned for 15 years, the DHA news agency reported.

Amnesty Int'l Activists Arrested in Turkey May Face 15-Year Imprisonment 08.10.2017

Turkish prosecutor's office requests an imprisonment of 15 years for the activists of Amnesty International human rights organization, who have been arrested in Turkey in July, local media reported Sunday.

As many as 11 Amnesty International activists, eight of whom remain in custody, were charged with "membership of a terrorist organization," the DHA news agency reported.

Amnesty International's Turkey Director Idil Eser alongside other 10 activists of the human rights organization was detained on the island of Buyukada off Istanbul's coast during a human rights conference on July 5. Ankara accused Amnesty International activists of plotting another coup attempt in the country and of being associated with the movement of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, referred to as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) by Turkey.

In July 2016, a failed military coup took place in Turkey, leaving over 240 people killed and some 2,000 injured. After the incident, Ankara introduced a national state of emergency, facilitating waves of arrests across the country which targeted mostly officials, legal and educational workers over their alleged ties to the movement of the US-based Gulen, who nevertheless rejected the accusations of and condemned the coup attempt.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The head of Amnesty International in Turkey is due to go on trial on Thursday accused of downloading an app. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has expressed his concern about the charges, which are supposedly linked to last year's attempted coup.

Turkey Arrest of Amnesty Chief Over ByLock App 'Without Substance or Foundation'

The Chair of Amnesty Turkey, Taner Kilic, will go on trial on Thursday, October 26, in the city of Izmir.

His crime was to download a widely available smartphone app called ByLock, which the authorities claim was used by the plotters behind last year's attempted coup.

On Wednesday, October 25, Idil Eser, a director of Amnesty in Turkey, will go on trial along with nine others in a separate trial in Istanbul.

Both Kilic and Eser are accused of suspicion of involvement with the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization (FETO), which the Turkish government claim was behind the 2016 July coup.

The charges against all 11 defendants carry maximum jail terms of 15 years and the verdicts will be handed down by a judge, rather than a jury.

'Trumped-Up' Charges - Amnesty says the charges are "trumped-up" and do not stand up to scrutiny.

"From the moment of their detentions, it has been clear that these are politically-motivated prosecutions aimed at silencing critical voices within Turkey," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty's Director for Europe and Central Asia.

The indictment against Eser does not make sense, according to Amnesty, because the charges relate to two documents which were drawn up even before she joined Amnesty, and claim she is a member of three terrorist organizations, which are directly opposed to each other, the group said.

"Without substance or foundation, the Turkish authorities have tried and failed to build a case against İdil, Taner and the other nine human rights activists. It took the prosecutor more than three months to come up with nothing. It should not take the judge more than half an hour to dismiss the case against them," Mr. Dalhuisen added.

The only evidence against Kilic, they said, was that he had downloaded ByLock, an app which had been downloaded 600,000 times by people all over the world between 2012 and 2016.

100,000 Turks Suspected of Using ByLock - In September, the Turkish supreme court ruled ByLock was an app which had been redesigned exclusively for Gulenist plotters and using it automatically made someone guilty of membership of a terrorist organization.

Turkish intelligence say they have identified the IP addresses of nearly 100,000 Turks who had used ByLock.

As Sputnik reported in October, internet service providers often put thousands of individuals on shared IP addresses, and Amnesty say this is not sufficient evidence to prove membership of a terrorist organization.

The Turkish authorities claimed Mevlut Mert Altintas, the off-duty police officer who shot dead Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov in Ankara in December 2016 also used the ByLock app.

Demands for Freedom - Earlier this month, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and the Chair of the Human Rights Committee in the European Parliament, Pier Antonio Panzeri, all called for Kilic, Eser and the others to be freed.

Among the others on trial are Veli Acu and Günal Kurşun, from Turkey's Human Rights Agenda Association, Ozlem Dalkıran and Nalan Erkem from Citizens' Assembly, Ilknur Ustun, from the Women's Coalition and Peter Steudtner, a non-violence and well-being trainer.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he had raised the issue with his opposite number, Mevlut Cavusoglu.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged French President Emmanuel Macron to end France's "disgraceful policies of indulgence" towards his Egyptian counterpart President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ahead of a meeting between the two heads of state.

HRW Urges France to Put Pressure on Egypt over Human Rights Abuses

HRW France director Benedicte Jeannerod said in a statement that Paris should "stop ignoring serious abuses" and pressure the Egyptian president by making future economic cooperation and military support conditional on improvements in human rights, presstv reported.

"President Macron should refuse to continue France's disgraceful policies of indulgence toward el-Sisi's repressive government," HRW official said.

France's main human rights groups have also called on Macron not to tolerate Egyptian authorities' "repression" of the North African country's civil society.

Meanwhile, Hussein Baoumi, Amnesty International's campaigner on Egypt, said that activists and journalists "are regularly jailed and are subjected to unfair trials. Protests are met with brute force and sometimes with French weapons, the internet is undergoing surveillance and censorship."

"All of this is happening in the name of counterterrorism," he added.

This comes as Sissi is to meet Monday with French Defense Minister Florence Parly. Macron will welcome Sisi to the Elysee Palace on Tuesday for talks set to be focused on security.

According to a statement from Macron's office, the talks would focus on security and regional security "but also the human rights situation to which France is particularly attentive."

Egypt is a major buyer of French military equipment with orders worth more than 5.8 billion dollars since 2015 including for 24 Rafale fighter jets.

International rights organizations have repeatedly accused former army chief and now President Sisi of repressive policies that stifle dissent in the media and politics, as well as the use of torture by security forces.

The Egyptian government has been cracking down on the opposition since the country’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a military coup in July 2013 led by Sisi, the then army chief.

The controversial ouster sparked many protests by supporters of Morsi and the country’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement.

According to HRW , Egyptian authorities have arrested or charged probably at least 60,000 people, forcibly disappeared hundreds for months at a time, given preliminary death sentences to hundreds more, and tried thousands of civilians in military courts since the 2013 coup.

Sissi has presided over a wide-scale crackdown on dissent and Egyptian authorities have jailed several human rights activists and banned others from travelling due to allegations of harming national security. Sisi will meet Macron at the Elysee palace on Tuesday.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The US, NATO-backed, Saudi-imposed blockade on Yemen, in the midst of a failed regime-change campaign that has gone on for over two years now, has left civilians without medicine, food, and clean water, exacerbating the famine and cholera epidemic that have developed there in recent months.

US, NATO Leaders Must Be Investigated for War Crimes in Yemen

For that reason, fourteen international aid agencies on Friday expressed that they are "appalled" by the global community's complacency regarding the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Yemen, and called for a resolution to the unjustified conflict that has gone on for over two years now - while in its own statement, Amnesty International called for an end to complicity in the conflict from the US and its NATO allies.

A statement signed by groups including the International Rescue Committee, Oxfam, and Relief International says, "The choice is between resolution, or complicity in the suffering; there is no third option. The US, UK, and France must immediately cease supplying arms to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen, which is impeding humanitarian assistance of items indispensable to the survival of civilians. The international community must break its shameful silence and use all possible means to lift the blockade on Yemen immediately."

On that note:

- Indeed, the international community must break its shameful silence and use all possible means to lift the blockade on Yemen immediately. Every day the illegal blockade lasts means thousands of Yemenis will suffer from hunger and preventable diseases. Millions could die in a historic famine if the blockade continues indefinitely.

- As warned by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and World Food Program, the clock is ticking and stocks of medical, food, and other humanitarian supplies are already running low.” The cost of this blockade is being measured in the number of lives that are lost. The US is part of this coalition. The bombing campaign that has caused the cholera outbreak could not happen without the US.

- By sending arms to Saudi Arabia, knowing that they may be used to kill civilians, the US government and NATO allies are complicit in violations of international law, including war crimes. The US is the world's top arms exporter and Saudi Arabia is its top customer. Under President Donald Trump, rhetoric on the US side has turned bombastic in terms of support for Saudi Arabia. This past spring, he agreed a $110 billion arms package, meaning, his administration doesn't seem concerned about human rights violations or civilian casualties in Yemen. Trump is basically telling the Saudi-led coalition to continue what it is doing.

- Amnesty and other human rights organizations continue to push for the UN to take actions against arms sales, but there is really no response or appetite there. It is past time for the world body to move in the right direction. The long suffering people of Yemen would like to see increased involvement by the UN in Yemen, which also includes exerting pressure on the Saudi-led coalition to lift the blockade and end the war.

- As per international law and international humanitarian law, much less the UN Charter, there is a reasonable and legal basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Yemen. It’s a historic moment for the International Criminal Court in The Hague to commence an investigation that will focus on US military and NATO leaders.

Lest we forget, the war crimes by the US and NATO allies are not the abuses and crimes of a few isolated cases, but rather are part of approved official policies in an attempt to force a sovereign nation into submission. There is irrefutable evidence to conclude that crimes have been committed in the furtherance of these colonial policies which would support US objectives in the ongoing war on Yemen - the poorest nation in the Arab world.

In conclusion, what judgment, what public reckoning, what accountability for the slaughter and moral depravity in Yemen can we expect? “Fakestream” news media in the West generally have not covered the conflict in depth, despite an overwhelming humanitarian crisis and flagrant war crimes conducted by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Oddly, there is more media interest in the humanitarian crisis than the illegal conflict itself, including the shameful participation by the US and NATO in this industrial-scale butchery of innocent lives.

Under the Rome Statute, the ICC can and must take jurisdiction over a national of even a non-party state like the US and NATO if he or she commits a crime in a state party's territory. The US and NATO vehemently object to this, but it's nothing new. Under well-established principles of international law, the crimes being prosecuted in the ICC - genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity - are crimes of universal jurisdiction.

The doctrine of universal jurisdiction permits any country to try foreign nationals for the most egregious crimes, even without any direct relationship to the prosecuting country. That means other nations can bring US and NATO leaders to justice in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Yemen.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Amnesty: Syrian military used cluster bombs in besieged area Thursday 30 November 2017

Amnesty International said Thursday the Syrian government has used internationally banned cluster munitions in attacks on a besieged rebel-held suburb of Damascus, accusing it of committing war crimes on “an epic scale.”

Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held suburb northeast of the Syrian capital, has been under a tightening siege since 2013 and is already facing a humanitarian crisis, including the highest recorded malnutrition rate since the country’s civil war began in 2011.

Some 400,000 civilians, half of them children, are believed trapped there.

Based on interviews with activists in eastern Ghouta and verification of open source videos and photographs, Amnesty said at least 10 civilians were killed in November because of the government’s use of the banned Soviet-made cluster munitions.

The indiscriminate weapons, banned in over 100 countries, gravely endanger civilians because of their indiscriminate nature, Amnesty said.

“The Syrian government has shown callous disregard to the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people living in Eastern Ghouta,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “But this recent escalation in attacks — clearly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure using internationally banned cluster munitions — is horrific.”

Amnesty said the munitions first appeared in Syria after Russia began strikes against anti-government groups in September 2015. Witnesses interviewed by Amnesty said they saw cluster munitions projectiles — small bombs strapped to parachutes — used in densely populated market and residential areas.

The United Nations has said it is concerned about the ongoing violence in Eastern Ghouta, which has intensified since Nov.14.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the civil war, has recorded that at least 150 civilians, including 35 children, were killed since Nov. 14 in the suburb, when a renewed round of intense fighting began.

Russia informed the UN on Tuesday that the Syrian government had agreed to a 48-hour truce in the area at the start of a new round of UN-sponsored talks in Geneva.

Diplomats are hoping that the parties to the Syrian conflict may be ready to make some forward progress in talks, which formally got under way with the arrival of the government delegation in Switzerland on Wednesday. There is little optimism, however, that the current round — the eighth so far — would achieve any significant breakthroughs.

On Thursday, the Syrian government and opposition delegations in Geneva met separately with the UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura.

Opposition spokesman Yahya Aridi said his delegation was “ready to stay engaged in the talks as long as necessary.” He said the opposition was looking forward to serious negotiations over a “transition to freedom” in Syria, including releasing detainees held in government prisons.

Separately, Turkey sent troop reinforcements and howitzers to its border with Syria, amid warnings by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials that Turkey may intervene to contain the Kurdish group that is running north Syria. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported the deployment.
Turkey sees the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a security threat. The PYD is an affiliated organization of a Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey.

Also on Thursday, the US announced that more than 400 Marines was being sent home after completing its mission providing artillery fire support in the war on the Daesh group.

The Marines, part of a force estimated at over 1,500 US troops in Syria, were supporting the YPG and allied Arab fighters to defeat Daesh militants in their de-facto capital, the north Syrian city of Raqqa. The city fell on Oct. 20.

US support for the Kurds has been a major source of friction in relations with Turkey, which is a NATO member. With the IS group largely defeated in Syria, the White House informed Ankara last week it was “adjusting” its military support to its partners. Still, US officials are suggesting they plan to maintain a US troop presence in the north until an overall settlement for the war is found.

US Military Reverses Course, Won’t Ban Use of Cluster Bombs 30.11.2017

The US had planned to end its use of cluster bombs, a type of explosive that ejects smaller sub-munitions to kill personnel and obliterate vehicles, by 2019, but on Thursday, the Pentagon approved a new policy reversing this promise.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Human Rights Watch said armed groups loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) appear to have executed 36 men without trial outside the eastern city of Benghazi in recent weeks.

HRW: Libyan Forces Loyal to Khalifa Haftar Responsible for Killings in Eastern Libya Thu Nov 30, 2017

Local police forces discovered the men's bodies in a desert area close to a main road in the town of al-Abyar, about 50km from Benghazi, on 26 October, Middle East Eye reported.

Family members of six of the men who identified the bodies of their relatives after they were transferred to a hospital told HRW that their relatives had been seized by armed groups linked to LNA forces without arrest warrants.

Relatives said the bodies of the six men had at least one gunshot wound each and their hands were tied behind their backs.

The fresh allegations come just weeks after a team of human rights lawyers presented evidence to the International Criminal Court that lawyers said justifies opening an investigation probing whether Haftar and his forces have committed crimes against humanity during the country's ongoing war.

In August, the ICC issued a warrant for the arrest of LNA special forces field commander, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, who is alleged to have overseen mass executions of dozens of prisoners, captured in a series of videos. It is the first warrant issued solely based on social media evidence.

This March, LNA members were alleged to have killed starving residents of a besieged neighbourhood in the eastern city of Benghazi. Relatives told MEE that their family members were killed as they attempted to flee on a bus in search of food. In response, HRW called on Haftar to launch a "full and transparent investigation" into the alleged crimes.

On 28 October, two days after the bodies were discovered in al-Abyar, Haftar released a statement through an LNA spokesperson saying that he had ordered in the military prosecutor for the eastern region to investigate.

However, a month later, the LNA has yet to announce the start of the investigation.

Eric Goldstein, HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said LNA pledges to conduct inquiries into unlawful killings "have so far led nowhere".

“The LNA will be condoning apparent war crimes if their pledge to investigate the gruesome discovery in al-Abyar proves to be another empty promise.”
Top Bottom