Does Monitoring Human Rights in Sudan Still Matter?

Three displaced Sudanese women finding refuge under a tree (Photo Credit: Jean-Baptiste Gallopin for Amnesty International).

Three displaced Sudanese women finding refuge under a tree (Photo Credit: Jean-Baptiste Gallopin for Amnesty International).

By Khairunissa Dhala, Researcher on Sudan/South Sudan Team at Amnesty International

Does the human rights situation in Sudan still require a U.N.-mandated Independent Expert to monitor and report back on developments? That was among the issues to discussed as the 24th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) opened this week in Geneva.

Given Sudan’s dire human rights situation – ongoing armed conflicts in three different states, restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly, including arbitrary arrest and torture of human rights defenders and activists – it is hard to imagine that there is even a question on whether this is needed. But there is.

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Justice for Syrians in 6 Steps [INFOGRAPHIC]

SYRIA INFO

Congress is debating whether to authorize the President to use force in response to allegations that Syria used chemical weapons against opponents of the government.

Although Amnesty International has not taken – and is not likely to take – a position on the appropriateness of armed intervention, we believe the debate in Congress is inadequate, as it does not address many of the pressing issues of the Syrian crisis.

Accordingly, we have identified several steps that should be taken in response to this crisis, no matter where one lands, for or against, the use of force. They are as follows:

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Life Under Pinochet: ‘I Remember Being Shown Some Very Severe Signs of Torture’

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In advance of the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30th, we have the following feature on Augusto Pinochet’s regime.

Roger Plant joined Amnesty International in 1972 to cover the organization’s work on Latin America. A few months after Pinochet took power by force, he went to Chile to document the arbitrary detentions, torture and disappearances. The result was a groundbreaking report that helped shine a light on the reality of life in the Latin-American country.

As a young researcher, Roger Plant had only been working for Amnesty International for less than a year when Augusto Pinochet launched his coup d’état in 1973. With his feet barely under the desk, it was a baptism of fire – a seminal moment that would eventually define his career.

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“The World Has Forgotten Us”: Syrian Mother Speaks

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A child looks on next to a woman at a Syrian refugee camp 5 km from Diyarbakir after a snowfall. This past winter, refugees faced further misery due to increasing shortages of supplies, low temperatures and snowfall (Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images).

On a recent visit to a camp near Atmeh, just inside Syria near the Turkish border, some 21,000 people were sheltering amid hellish conditions.

Heavy rain leaked into the tents and had turned the clay soil into thick slippery mud; raw sewage flowed between the tents. There wasn’t enough food and little medical aid.

Children and families have borne the brunt of the bloodshed in Syria. Most at risk are those fleeing the violence – refugees and the displaced still trapped within Syria, for whom the global community is still not doing enough.

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Snapshot Of The Surging Violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Rakhine, Myanmar

Hundreds of homes were destroyed in the city of Kyaukphyu, Rakhine state. This Digital Globe satellite image from October 25th captures the aftermath. (c) DigitalGlobe 2012

In the Rakhine state (also called “Arakan” by some) of Myanmar, the unfortunate evolution of discrimination, unequal application of the law, and forced displacement into violence and humanitarian crisis has come to bear. Since June, fits of violence between Buddhist and Muslim Rakhine, and Muslim Rohingya communities have likely left tens of thousands displaced and scores dead.

In the most recent incident of ethnic clashes, thousands of Rohingya muslim, but also Rakhine Buddhist, homes have reportedly been burned down. Part of the destruction was captured by a satellite image (courtesy of Digital Globe): The image of Kyaukphyu from October 25 shows a cindery scar on the face of the earth where hundreds of homes used to be (see the area before the destruction here). SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Mali: Alarming New Reports Of Amputations And Child Soldiers

Explore the human rights and humanitarian situation in Mali

Armed conflict and political instability led to a human rights and humanitarian crisis

A few months ago, I blogged about the forgotten human rights crisis in Mali, where armed conflict and political instability created a severe vacuum for human rights protection. Today, the situation remains dire. While world leaders are discussing the situation at the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York this week, a quick fix seems elusive.

Civilians keep bearing the brunt of the current conflict: Amputations and other corporal punishments, sexual violence, daily harassment with the aim of imposing new moral codes, child soldiers, extra-judicial executions are ongoing violations against civilians.

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Justice For Syria: How Satellites Can Help

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Suspected attack helicopters at Aleppo airport. (c) 2012 GeoEye, produced by AAAS

Newly released satellite images of Aleppo show a highly militarized city, with dozens of roadblocks throughout the city and military vehicles operating in its streets. We used satellite images a couple of months ago to ring the alarm over the increased risk of turning a highly populated area, such as Aleppo, into a battlefield. Our warning turned out to be justified. The weeks that followed saw indiscriminate attacks that have killed and injured scores of civilians in Aleppo and elsewhere in northern Syria.

Today’s analysis, released by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and based on imagery from August 9 and 23, provides a detailed follow up to our initial assessment from earlier in July. As the conflict in Syria escalates, the increased deployment of battlefield equipment and tactics in urban areas emerge in satellite images. Here are some of the key findings of the new analysis:
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From Syria: 'I'm Not Afraid of Dying. What I Fear is Being Arrested'

Syrian refugees protest in Amman

Syrian women protest in Jordan's capital Amman. © KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images

You have heard the stories on the news — Syrian cities are being besieged, and civilians are dying in droves at the hands of their own government.

Last week, a U.S. journalist and a French photographer were killed while covering the violence in Homs. Despite the Syrian government’s refusal to allow independent international human rights monitors into the country, Amnesty International is on the Syrian border, collecting stories for the world to hear.

Amnesty’s Syria campaigner Maha talked with a group of women from the village of Tasil, including a young mother:

“One day before we left Tasil I was looking out from the window and saw security forces chasing a man in the farms near the village. They were shooting at him and I thought no doubt they would kill him. When I looked closely I realized that that man was actually my husband. Thank God he managed to escape.”

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In Istanbul, Forced Evictions of City's Most Vulnerable

Besra, a single mother with a small child, returned from visiting her mother in the hospital to find her door broken in.  Officials forced her to vacate her home immediately, throwing her belongings out onto the street.

Istanbul Evictions

A number of vulnerable families in the Tarlabaşı district have already been evicted © Jonathan Lewis

Another resident, an unemployed 60-year-old man with a lung condition, told Amnesty International that he had been forced to sign eviction notices that he was not allowed to read.

According to Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey,

“Most of those facing eviction have not been given adequate notice. They have not been consulted, provided with legal remedies, or offered adequate alternative housing or compensation. This is a violation of their human rights. There must also be an investigation into the allegations of harassment by public officials.”

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War Zone in Karachi, Pakistan

Pakistani children mourn during a funeral procession of a man shot and killed by unidentified armed men in Karachi. © ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images

Violence in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city continued on Friday as the death toll in the embattled city rose to over 88 in the past four days. A protest call by the Mottahida Qaumi Movement, the political party that represents much of the city’s Urdu speaking population, paralyzed the city of eighteen million.

Busy streets usually teeming with crowds remained eerily deserted and all petrol pumps were closed preventing city residents from leaving their homes.  Pakistani television reported that many with small children or elderly relatives are suffering owing to the inability to obtain food and supplies.

Uncertainty and tensions in the city have been exacerbated by the “shoot on sight” orders given to security personnel patrolling city streets.  The order leaves Karachi’s citizens vulnerable not only to the ethnic violence ravaging the city but also to excesses by security forces posted around the city who can now kill with impunity.

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