Who Is Responsible for Arming Islamic State?

Militant Islamist fighters on a tank take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. Militant Islamist fighters held a parade in Syria's northern Raqqa province to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighbouring Iraq, a monitoring service said. The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), posted pictures online on Sunday of people waving black flags from cars and holding guns in the air, the SITE monitoring service said.  REUTERS/Stringer (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)

Militant Islamist fighters on a tank take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province on June 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer

By Susan Waltz, Military, Security, Police Co-Group, Amnesty International USA

Masked militants dressed head to toe in dark jumpsuits, lifting black flags and brandishing Kalashinov (AK-47) rifles: that is the now-iconic image of the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS). Over the past few years IS has amassed a vast arsenal, which it has deployed to commit a staggering array of atrocities with open disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law. Without hesitation, the IS military campaign has targeted its small arms and artillery at civilians – abducting, torturing, raping, and summarily executing people across Iraqi and Syrian territory. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

My sister Rania is missing in Syria

caseRaniaR

By Naila Alabbasi

I first realized that something was wrong when I couldn’t get hold of Rania. I had been calling my sister’s house phone and mobile for several days with no answer.

I later discovered that a group of armed men from the Military Intelligence had come to my sister’s house on 9 March and arrested her husband, Abdulrahman, without giving any reason. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

In Turkey, Journalists Targeted Once Again

OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

In Turkey, the crackdown on independent journalism continues. Mehmet Baransu remains in jail, apparently a victim of the government’s crackdown on the Gulen Movement.  Other journalists in Turkey have been charged under Turkey’s dangerously vague anti-terror statutes. Meanwhile, a pattern of media outlets sacking voices deemed critical of the government continues, with the newspaper, Milliyet, firing seven journalists this past month. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Syrian Human Rights Activist Mazen Darwish Released

Abd al-Rahman Hamada, Hussein Gharir, Mazen Darwish, Hani al-Zitani and Mansour al-Omari

Abd al-Rahman Hamada, Hussein Gharir, Mazen Darwish, Hani al-Zitani and Mansour al-Omari

From a country where there is little reason to celebrate, here is some good news: Amnesty International learned Monday that Syrian human rights activist Mazen Darwish, who had been jailed by the Assad government on trumped-up terrorism charges, has been released. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Yemen: The Humanitarian Crisis in the Shadows

Destroyed home of al-Akwa family in which five civilians were killed in two consecutive airstrikes on 13 June 2015. (Credit: Amnesty International)

Destroyed home of al-Akwa family in which five civilians were killed in two consecutive airstrikes on 13 June 2015. (Credit: Amnesty International)

By Ali Azizi, Yemen Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA

Despite more than 100 days of heavy fighting, the impoverished country of Yemen is facing a humanitarian crisis that you most likely haven’t heard of.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are more than 21 million people – 80 percent of the population — in need of aid throughout the country. All essential supplies, from food to fuel to medical supplies, are in severe shortage.

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From Animal Cartoons to Opposition to the Death Penalty: Just About Anything Can Land You in Prison in Iran

Artist Atena Farghadani

Artist Atena Farghadani

It seems that not one single thing escapes the attention of hardliners in Iran, bent on using the extraordinary powers they hold to suppress every effort by Iranians to exercise their right to freedom of expression. They have even decreed that men should refrain from sporting various hairdos and—yes I am not kidding—from plucking their eyebrows, because those are considered to be indications of “devil worshipping” and homosexuality.

Although such preoccupations may seem risible to some, the people who are caught up in this dragnet are suffering very real and harsh consequences. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The State of LGBT Human Rights Worldwide

LGBT activists take part in a Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg, Russia, 29 June 2013. (EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV)

LGBT activists take part in a Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg, Russia, 29 June 2013. (EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV)

Across the globe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) continue to face endemic violence, legal discrimination, and other human rights violations on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As we move from International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia this week to Pride month in the United States, Amnesty International stands with everyone working to guarantee the fundamental human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Four Years into the Syrian Conflict

Photo: Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo: Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AFP/Getty Images)

The lights are going out in Syria.

As the humanitarian crisis in Syria worsens, the darkness is literally spreading.  More than 80 percent of lights have gone out across Syria since March 2011; in Aleppo, site of fighting for more than two years, 97 percent of lights are not working.

If you want to understand what that means, listen to this description from a Syrian surgeon in Aleppo:

Marwan was on the operating table when the lights blinked and fizzed out,” the doctor said. “The nurse pulled her mobile phone from her pocket – generating the only light in the pitch-black basement. Others followed suit, producing just enough light to allow me to finish repairing his broken little body.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Evaporating Hope for My Missing Daughter

By Munira al-Hamwi, mother of ‘disappeared’ Syrian human rights attorney Razan Zaitouneh

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They asked me to write about my daughter, Razan Zaitouneh. I am not a journalist or a writer but I will write what is on my mind. I will not talk about Razan’s work or her achievements as so many others have done so already.

I will never forget those times at the start of the uprising in Syria when she faded out of the public eye in order to avoid arrest. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Three Steps to Achieve a Lasting Peace in Israel and Gaza

TRUCE

Palestinian children light candles next the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City on August 27, 2014 after a long-term truce took hold following a deal hailed by Israel and Hamas as ‘victory’ in the 50-day war. (Photo credit: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

By Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International

We have seen, over and over again ceasefires dissipate in the dust of renewed bombings. Here are three basic human rights which must not be neglected if there is to be any hope for a just and sustainable peace.

The newly brokered truce between Israel and the Palestinians will be meaningless if it is not built solidly upon human rights, which must be at the heart of any attempt to stop the cycle of war crimes and other gross violations recurring incessantly. Without such a foundation, Palestinians and Israelis will continue to suffer.

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