Syria
White Helmets

Russian-backed ‘crimes against humanity’ in Syria

Human Rights Watch condemned Russia and the Syrian government in a new¬†report¬†for launching at least 46 documented deadly attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Syria’s northern Idlib province. The report reveals that the Russian-backed offensive targeted hospitals, schools, markets, and other essential facilities for over 11 months from April 2019.¬†HRW contends that these attacks violate international humanitarian law and may constitute crimes against humanity.¬†These numbers represent only a fraction of the attacks occurring in the region. Witnesses and local authorities say the documented attacks killed at least 224 civilians and wounded 561 others. In addition to harming civilians directly, the attacks have also adversely impacted public health, education, and the standard of living in Idlib by restricting access to food, water, and housing. Both the Assad regime and Russia exacerbated this crisis by blocking humanitarian aid to the region.¬†(Photo via EA Worldview)

Europe
Golden Dawn

Greece: Golden Dawn ruled ‘criminal organization’

After a trial that lasted more than five years, a court in Greece¬†ruled that the far-right¬†Golden Dawn political party is a criminal organization. The party¬†came to prominence in 2012 when it gained 21 seats in parliamentary elections with openly xenophobic and anti-Semitic politics, using the slogan “Blood, honor, Golden Dawn!”‚ÄĒadapted from the Hitler Youth slogan “Blood and honor.” After the 2012 election,¬†party members unleashed violent attacks on immigrants.¬†The three-judge panel convicted 68 Golden Dawn members of¬†crimes¬†including murder and attempted murder. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Democratic Audit)

Iran
narges

Iran: demand release of imprisoned rights defenders

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for Iran to releaseimprisoned human rights defenders, lawyers and political prisoners, citing COVID-19 concerns. Iran is the country worst-affected by the pandemic in the region, and the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in its prisons create a breeding ground for the virus. Bachelet said, “People detained solely for their political views or other forms of activism in support of human rights should not be imprisoned at all.” After Bachelet’s statement, authorities released¬†activist Narges Mohammadi, a campaigner against the death penalty and former vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center. She was sentenced to prison in 2016 on charges of “forming an illegal group.” The UN called for her release in July after she began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. (Photo of Narges Mohammadi via Twitter)

Europe
Bloody Sunday

No prosecution for soldiers in Bloody Sunday

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service announced that after reviewing evidence against 15 British soldiers suspected of killing civilians in Derry on “Bloody Sunday,” Jan. 30, 1972, they will maintain the decision not to prosecute. The final decision, announced in a statement from the PPS, upholds an earlier one from 2019, which found that “the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.” After the 2019 announcement, families who lost loved ones and survivors injured in the massacre asked for a review of the decision. Bloody Sunday was the deadliest episode of Northern Ireland’s civil rights movement; 13 were killed and several wounded when Parachute Regiment troops opened fire on demonstrators. The final decision means that only one prosecution will proceed for the deaths. The PPS is prosecuting a man referred to as Soldier F, a former member of the Parachute Regiment, for two murders on Bloody Sunday and attempted murders of four others at a separate civil rights march. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
oromo flag

Ethiopia: Oromo leaders charged with ‘terrorism’

Ethiopia’s attorney general filed charges¬†against 24 activists for alleged terrorism and incitement to violence. Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba, two leading opposition politicians of the Oromo Federalist Congress, were among those charged. The charges arise from events that occurred after the death of Hachalu Hundessa in June. Hundessa, a popular Oromo singer and activist, was murdered, though the precise motivation remains unknown. Following Hundessa’s death, inter-ethnic violence erupted, resulting in the deaths of up to 239 people.¬†Despite being the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, the Oromo have historically faced political and economic marginalization. Jawar and Gerba actively oppose the Ethiopian government and have called for the federal state to give “self-rule” to Oromos and other ethnic groups in regions where those groups constitute the majority of the population. (Photo:¬†Petterik Wiggers via Ethiopia Insight)

The Andes
Venezuela protests

UN report: ‘crimes against humanity’ in Venezuela

A UN report¬†accused Venezuelan state authorities, including the president, of being complicit in human rights violations and abuses “amounting to crimes against humanity.” An Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela found cases of extrajudicial executions, disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture committed by the government or its agents. High-level authorities, including the ministers of the Interior and Defense, as well as President Nicol√°s Maduro himself, were not only aware of the violations but gave the orders and provided the resources to carry them out. “Far from being isolated acts,” said Marta Vali√Īas, chairperson of the Mission, “these crimes were coordinated and committed pursuant to State policies, with the knowledge or direct support of commanding officers and senior government officials.”¬†(Photo: WikiMedia Commons)

Central Asia
Xinjiang

Rights groups warn: Uighurs face ‘genocide’

Several human rights organizations signed an open letter declaring that China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province “strongly suggests that crimes against humanity and genocide are taking place.” The letter cited a recent UN report that raised concerns over “increasing practices of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, absence of judicial oversight and procedural safeguards.” The letter additionally cited evidence of widespread forced labor, forced sterilizations and abortions, separation of children from their families, and destruction of religious and¬†cultural sites.¬†The authors of the letter urged states to call on the UN Human Rights Council to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the situation in Xinjiang.¬†(Photo: Xinjiang Judicial Administration¬†via The Diplomat)

The Andes
Mauricio Jara

Rights group sees ‘political persecution’ in Bolivia

Human Rights Watch released a report¬†asserting¬†that Bolivia’s interim government, led by President Jeanine A√Īez, uses the judiciary to attack former President Evo Morales, his supporters, and former members of his administration. The report claims A√Īez’s government “has publicly pressured prosecutors and judges to act to further its interests, leading to criminal investigations of more than 100 people linked to Morales government and Morales supporters for sedition and/or terrorism.” The report states that these investigations “appear to be politically motivated.” Among those charged is Morales himself, who was accused of terrorism after he fled the country last November. (Photo:¬†Guider Arancibia¬†via HRW)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

UN experts: refer Yemen war crimes to ICC

A UN group of experts has called on the Security Council to refer human rights violations and war crimes committed in the ongoing Yemen conflict to the International Criminal Court. The Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen concluded in a new¬†report¬†that the governments of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Southern Transitional Council are responsible for rights violations including “arbitrary deprivation of life, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, gender-based violence, including sexual violence, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the recruitment and use in hostilities of children.” The report also alleges thatde facto authorities” in the capital Sana’a (the Houthi rebels) are responsible for the same violations. (Map:¬†Perry-Casta√Īeda Library)

Afghanistan
Bensouda

US imposes sanctions on ICC chief prosecutor

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced economic sanctions against the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda. Characterizing the ICC as “a thoroughly broken and corrupted institution” and noting that the United States is not a member of the court, Pompeo condemned what he called the court’s¬†“illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction,” referring to Bensouda’s investigation into possible war crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan.¬†Human Rights Watch assailed the move as a¬†“stunning perversion of US sanctions, devised to penalize rights abusers and kleptocrats, to target those prosecuting war crimes.”¬†(Photo:¬†Wikimedia Commons via +972)

Palestine
Mitzpe_Kramim

Israel high court: settlement must be removed

The Supreme Court of Israel ruled that a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank had been built on land that was privately owned by Palestinians, and as a result, the settlement must be removed. The case involved the settlement of Mitzpe Kramim, an outpost in the Jordan Valley built 20 years ago. The settlers claimed they had been granted authority to build there by the Israeli government. Palestinian plaintiffs filed suit in 2011, arguing that they were the legal owners of the land and the construction undertaken by the settlers was illegal. The court has given the government 36 months to arrange for the removal of the settlers to alternative housing. Prime Minister Netanyahu responded¬†that his government will “exhaust all processes in order to leave the residents in their place.” (Photo via Peace Now)

Southeast Asia
Bangkok protest

Thailand authorities arrest pro-democracy activists

Thai authorities¬†arrested six activists involved in ths month’s pro-democracy demonstrations in Bangkok. Anti-government rallies by students have been occurring on a daily basis for over a month, demanding constitutional reform, curbing the power of the king, and an end to the intimidation of dissidents. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the protests have gone “too far”¬†and urged demonstrators “not to create chaos.” Speaking against the monarchy carries a 15-year prison term in Thailand. Demonstrators have been asserting that democracy is “impossible” without limiting the monarchy’s constitutional role. (Photo of student protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument¬†via Wikipedia)