This is why the beheading of reporter James Foley is so important to anyone concerned about human rights in the region. It’s important not just because, as Amnesty International says, it is “a war crime,” but because Syria right now by most standards is now the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.
By Jihane Bergaoui, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Morocco and Western Sahara
In December 2010, Ali Aarrass, a Belgian-Moroccan coffee shop owner was extradited from Spain to Morocco, where Moroccan intelligence held him in a secret prison for 12 days in Témara, near the capital city of Rabat.
Ali described the anguish his muscles and joints experienced while he was suspended from his wrists for extended periods of time, the searing pain of feeling his flesh being burned by cigarettes, enduring excruciating electric shocks to his testicles, having his head held under water until he fainted, being raped with a glass bottle, and having the soles of his feet beaten raw. He remained in the secret holding facility until he signed a “confession” pre-written for him in Arabic – a language he does not speak.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the U.S. administration is reviewing Israeli requests for weapons and munitions. The article stated that White House and State Department officials were “increasingly disturbed” that Israel “was using artillery instead of more precision-guided munitions in densely populated areas.”
As Amnesty International delegates head into their second week monitoring the tense situation in Ferguson, they’re learning first-hand what protesters on the ground have been dealing with since tensions flared after the shooting of an unarmed teen.
Last night, Twitter followers asked whether the Amnesty team encountered any problems as they tried to leave Ferguson on police orders. The team sent in this account:
Last night in Ferguson, after 11:00 pm CT, police were on loudspeaker announcing that anyone who was not credentialed media must leave the area. The Amnesty observer delegation decided to leave. They walked to leave the area, which required them to move toward police who were holding guns. The Amnesty observers put their hands up proactively as a sign that they did not hold weapons and were not a threat. A police officer stopped them and told the first three observers to kneel, which they did. The observers explained to an officer that they were human rights observers who were leaving as requested and they were granted passage.
By Rachel O’Leary, Amnesty Interntional USA Acting Deputy Executive Director for Membership Mobilization
On August 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year old, was shot dead by a six-year veteran of the Ferguson police force. The next day, the community organized protests condemning the actions of the police and demanding to know the name of the officer who shot and killed Michael. Those actions continue still, a week later.
The day after the shooting, I sent a text to my colleague at 3:30 AM. It read, “We need to go to Ferguson.” Later that week, I was on a plane, leading the Amnesty International USA human rights delegation to Ferguson, Missouri.
While extensive media attention has been paid to the plight of those who were under siege on Sinjar Mountain, the broader crisis in north-western Iraq continues.
Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Advisor is currently on the ground, collecting and sharing eyewitness accounts of the crisis. In many ways, the plight of those who were stranded on Sinjar helped focus international attention to the broader crisis.
By Muhammed Malik, Amnesty International USA Member
Today, people across the country attended vigils and solidarity actions to mourn the victims of police brutality, a problem that has gripped this nation for far too long.
A few days ago, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri confronted Michael Brown – a teenager who was full of promise and who had his whole life ahead of him. There are conflicting reports about what happened next, but the end result was the officer shooting the unarmed Brown.
This piece originally appeared in The Guardian under the title “Police Brutality Must Be Punished if We Want Real Justice for Michael Brown.”
From California to New York, from the streets in Ferguson to those in the south side of Chicago, police brutality continues unabated all across the United States because of brazen impunity – because in this country’s long history of abuse and violence by those obligated to respect and uphold the human rights of our communities, there is still little accountability.
Imagine waking up in a hospital and learning that you are under arrest, accused of killing your own infant.
Despite your efforts to explain that you had a miscarriage and passed out from medical complications, the authorities sentence you to up to four decades in an overcrowded prison where you “suffer harassment, exclusion, and violence both from other inmates as well as prison personnel” because of the accusations against you.
A prior version of this piece appeared in The Huffington Post.
At the time of writing, the latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is set to expire at 5 p.m. EST today. Against the backdrop of Gaza’s destruction, no one can fully predict what is next for Israeli and Palestinian combatants.
In its coverage of the conflict in Gaza and Israel, the New York Times has used a daily chart that risks misleading readers about the firepower involved. The chart in question improperly compares the total Israeli “targets” struck in Gaza to the number of “rockets” launched at Israel by Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.