Suicide bombers struck Shiite (mostly Hazara) pilgrims on December 6, killing over 60 people in Kabul, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif during holy holiday of Ashura. I was moved by a photo of a woman crying out in horror at the carnage around her. It was also a cry of helplessness and a cry of sorrow. I couldn’t help but feeling that sense of helplessness and sorrow.
The attack seemed timed to coincide with the Bonn Conference on the future of Afghanistan 10 years after the first conference held in the same city. Amnesty International has a delegation in the city monitoring the conference. We have been arguing that human rights must not be sacrificed as the US winds down its security presence in the country. This bombing is an example of need for the international community to maintain its commitment to protect human rights in Afghanistan.
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© Scott Olson/Getty Images
This week marks the four year anniversary of the Nisour Square massacre, where on September 16, 2007, 17 Iraqi civilians were allegedly shot and killed and dozens more injured by Blackwater (now known as Xe) security contractors employed by the Department of State.
Five eyewitnesses insisted that the company guards fired without provocation, forcing civilians and Iraqi Police to run for cover.
The incident gained worldwide attention and highlighted the consequences of the U.S. government’s increased privatization of military and security functions. Today it is a reminder that after four years, Congress has still failed to clarify and strengthen jurisdiction of U.S. courts over its security contractors operating overseas by passing the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.
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As many of us were eating hot dogs, tending BBQs and watching fireworks to honor our fundamental freedoms, seven words in the New York Times caught my eye, “Pakistan’s spies tied to slaying of journalist“. Seven words among the several thousand that pass my eyes every day before I even reach for a cup of coffee, that made me think about the Constitution, and the struggle for human rights.
A forty year old journalist, Saleem Shazad, disappeared on May 29, after writing an exposé of an attack on a Pakistani military base which indicated collusion from inside the armed forces. Shazad’s body was found in a canal 60 miles from Islamabad. “Mr. Shahzad suffered 17 lacerated wounds delivered by a blunt instrument, a ruptured liver and two broken ribs, said Dr. Mohammed Farrukh Kamal, one of the three physicians who conducted the post-mortem.”, according to the Times, which said he was the 37th journalist to be killed in Pakistan since 9/11.
The Obama Administration believes that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence directed the attack on him to silence his criticism. The Administration called the treatment of Shazad “barbaric”. Yet, if anyone is in any doubt Pakistan is a crucial ally of the United States and a democratic state. It remains the single most important regional country in the struggle against Al Qaeda, and the recipient of more than 20 billion dollars of US assistance since 9/11. These were not the crazed acts of frenzied tribesmen, they were the deliberate calculated acts of agents employed by the state.
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An increase in political, ethnic and religious violence risks threatening the stability of Nigeria’s April elections. A new briefing highlights how hundreds of people have been killed in politically-motivated, communal and sectarian violence across Nigeria ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls. Authorities have failed to bring suspected perpetrators to justice or to prevent further human rights abuses. Investigations are infrequent and often inadequate. So far, very few have been convicted for these killings.
The Nigerian authorities must act to protect people’s lives and all political candidates should denounce violence and tell their supporters to campaign peacefully. Candidates should tell voters what they will do to stop the senseless killings and improve security and justice in Nigeria. The Presidential debate scheduled for today is an excellent opportunity to make such a commitment
Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director.
In one of the worst episodes of violence, 80 people were killed after a bomb exploded in Jos on 24 December. This attack, which was
Nigerians queue to vote in the 2007 governor and state elections, while police stand guard at a polling station, Lagos, 14 April 2007.
later claimed by the Boko Haram armed religious sect, also sparked months of reprisals between different ethnic and religious groups in Plateau state that left at least another 120 people dead. One resident told Amnesty International that authorities had not done enough to prevent the attacks in Jos, saying: “there were clear signals that something was going to happen but [the security forces] were not on ground.” Another said during the violence: “it’s chaos, there are people going round on motorbikes, they ride into a community and throw [bombs].” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST