3 Ways Saudi Arabia Is Abusing Human Rights – and How They’re Getting Away With It

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Amnesty International is calling for Saudi Arabia to be suspended from the UN Human Rights Council – here’s why.

1. Crackdown on activists

Saudi Arabia has continued a sweeping crackdown on human rights activists. All of the country’s prominent and independent human rights defenders have been imprisoned, threatened into silence or have fled the country. More and more have been sentenced to years in prison under the country’s 2014 counter-terror law. Among the many people imprisoned is Raif Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair. Scores more were jailed under the law after unfair trials in 2015 and 2016, including human rights defenders Dr Abdulkareem al-Khoder, Dr Abdulrahman al-Hamid, Issa al-Hamid and Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, all founding members of the now disbanded independent Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Are U.S. weapons being used to kill Yemeni civilians?

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Watch Amnesty International USA’s Middle East North Africa Advocacy Director, Sunjeev Bery on CNN here.

Saudi Arabia-led coalition continue to indiscriminately bomb and kill civilians in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia-led coalition continue to indiscriminately bomb and kill civilians in Yemen.

It has been over a year since an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against the Huthi armed group in Yemen sparking a full-blown armed conflict.

Over the following year, the conflict has spread and fighting has engulfed the entire country. Horrific human rights abuses, as well as war crimes, are being committed throughout the country causing unbearable suffering for civilians. Watch Sunjeev Bery, Advocacy Director for the Middle East North Africa at Amnesty International USA, discuss Yemen’s war and how the US-Saudi alliance makes it worse.

365 Days of War in Yemen

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Diplaced people who fled their homes after start of aerial bombardments by Saudi Arabia-led coalition now in IDPs camp in Khamir (Amran governorate) .

One year ago today, an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against the Huthi armed group in Yemen sparking a full-blown armed conflict.

Over the following year, the conflict has spread and fighting has engulfed the entire country. Horrific human rights abuses, as well as war crimes, are being committed throughout the country causing unbearable suffering for civilians. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

A Beginner’s Guide to Human Rights Jargon

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Still from 'Waiting For The Guards ' showing simulated torture. 'Waiting For The Guards ' is a film produced for AIUK as part of a campaign against the CIA's detention and interrogation programme which AI believes amounts to torture and degrading treatment contravening  Article 3 of the Third Geneva Convention – which prohibits the humiliating or degrading treatment of prisoners of war. Jiva Parthipan, a Sri Lankan performance artist assumes a stress position from one of the interrogation techniques.

Baffled by technical human rights terms and precise legal definitions? You’re not alone. Here’s a quick glossary of some of the most troublesome words and phrases.

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How Long Will the U.S. Turn a Blind Eye to Its Role in this Bloodshed?

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Palestinian boys walk past buildings which were destroyed by Israeli strikes on their way to school in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City on September 14, 2014 on the first day of the new school year. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinian boys walk past buildings which were destroyed by Israeli strikes (September 14, 2014). (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

As the UN General Assembly begins its meeting today in New York City, Amnesty International is delivering 187,563 signatures to the White House in a global call to cut off weapons that fuel abuses in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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What is the UN Saying on Syria?

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Sunjeev Bery on Sky News Arabia

Sunjeev Bery on Sky News Arabia

Yesterday, I joined the team at Sky News Arabia for a live discussion of the latest report on Syria by an independent UN panel. Special thanks to Sky News producer Arwa Sawan, reporter Joseph Khawly, and anchor Amer Abdel Aziz for giving Amnesty International USA an opportunity to share our analysis of the grave human rights situation.

The report (PDF) is a catalog of violence, suffering, and geopolitical developments, focusing on events between January 15th and May 15th of this year. It was produced by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011.

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One Palestinian Village Obama Should Visit

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Former prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi holds plastic and rubber-coated bullets fired by Israeli forces.

Former prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi holds plastic and rubber-coated bullets fired by Israeli forces.

Yesterday morning, US President Barack Obama arrived in Israel to much fanfare.  He has said that he has come to listen.  One place he should start is the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

I visited Nabi Saleh last week as part of an Amnesty International research mission to the West Bank.  The village sits atop a hill, facing the illegal Israeli settlement Halamish.  The settlers of Halamish, like so many other Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), are backed by the lethal force of the Israeli army.

For protesting against the settlement, the residents of Nabi Saleh have paid a heavy price.  I spoke with village resident Bassem Tamimi, a man who Amnesty International previously declared a prisoner of conscience when he was imprisoned by Israel for involvement in peaceful protests.  During Bassem’s most recent jail term, his brother-in-law Rushdi Tamimi, 31, was shot by Israeli soldiers at another protest in November 2012 and died days later in a hospital.  In December 2011, another member of the village, Mustafa Tamimi, died after being hit in the face by a tear gas canister fired at close range from an Israeli military jeep.

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The “Terminator,” War Crimes, and the Obama Administration: All Roads Lead to Rome

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As news breaks about the surrender of the “Terminator,” Bosco Ntaganda, to the United States embassy in Kigali today, the US State Department was quick to note that it “strongly support[s] the ICC and their investigations on the atrocities committed in the DRC.” Further, Ambassador Stephen Rapp, head of the Office of Global Criminal Justice, tweeted “Bosco #Ntaganda surrenders in #Rwanda and asks to the taken to the #ICC. We are helping to facilitate his transfer.”

This development, and the U.S. administration’s quick signaling of its intent to adhere to obligations to transfer Ntaganda to the court to answer charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity is welcome, and encouraging. Thus, I will not start with the call that “the US should take all steps to ensure the speedy transfer of Ntaganda to The Hague.”

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#Shabhag and the Complexities of International Justice

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Uprising of people at Shahbag, Dhaka, Bangladesh demanding death penalty of Kader Molla and all other war criminals who are now being tried before the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh for the serious crimes they have committed during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 (Photo Credit: Mehdi Hasan Khan).

Since February 5, there have been a series of large protests across Bangladesh coupled with violent counter-demonstrations. The protests were in response to the sentences given to Abdul Quader Mollah, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. He received life in prison for his role in “beheading a poet, raping an 11-year old girl and shooting 344 people” during the 1971 Liberation War. The protesters are demanding that Mollah be executed for his role in the 1971 massacres. We are calling for the government to resist such pressure. Meanwhile the Jamaat-e-Islami has been implicated in acts of violence against minority religious shrines in the southern part of the country.

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Mali Intervention Called a Success…Corpses of Civilians Poisoning Wells.

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Idrissa Maiga, a Malian farmer, prays among the graves of his wife and three of his children in a cemetery behind the Konna school on January 27, 2013 who were reportedly killed by French army air strikes on January 11. Maiga's second wife, 41, and two boys and a girl aged from 10 to 14 allegedly perished on the morning of the 11th during the air raid and were buried the same afternoon.  (Photo: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Idrissa Maiga, a Malian farmer, prays among the graves of his wife and three of his children in a cemetery behind the Konna school on January 27, 2013 who were reportedly killed by French army air strikes on January 11. Maiga’s second wife, 41, and two boys and a girl aged from 10 to 14 allegedly perished on the morning of the 11th during the air raid and were buried the same afternoon. (Photo: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

For background information on the French intervention and human rights situation in Mali, see here.

The French Defense Minister on Thursday said publicly that the “French intervention has succeeded.” Insofar as armed opposition and armed Islamist groups have either abandoned areas in the north of the country or tactically retreated—and this is a measure of success—that statement may be true.

Also released Thursday were initial findings from a ten day research mission in Mali by Amnesty International. In an unfortunate confirmation of the realization of  Amnesty International’s fears raised in December, the findings from this mission tell of the executions and disappearances of civilians, arbitrary arrests, beatings and ill-treatment, inter alia.

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