Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights Violations’

Newborn babies and their families are being secretly moved in the dead of night to Christmas Island detention centre, which is considered unsuitable for young children by medical practitioners.

Immigration correspondent

Source: SMH
It is believed at least five two-month-old babies, their siblings and parents were given no notice as they were forced to leave Adelaide’s Inverbrackie detention centre at 3am last week, without access to legal advice.

On Monday, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison refuted this, saying the families were notified “well in advance of the 20 minutes that advocates are suggesting”, but would not say how much notice was given.

The sudden relocations come as Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced a $2.6 million educational package for school-age children in the island’s detention centre, run by the Catholic Education Office of Western Australia, suggesting the government is planning to increase the number of child detainees on the island.

Jacob Varghese, who is representing 26 Australian-born asylum-seeker babies, said the families were living in fear they would be ”shipped off”’ to Christmas Island.

”There’s a really heavy-handed and unnecessarily cruel approach taken to removing people, which is knocking on their door in the middle of the night and shipping them off,” said Mr Varghese, the principal of Maurice Blackburn lawyers.

”Christmas Island is the worst place to put these people, because it’s very remote and a long way from any first-class medical
Read full artice here: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/babies-secretly-moved-to-christmas-island-detention-centre-20140615-3a5u1.html#ixzz34wqU2XHA

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Exclusive: Fifteen doctors write letter detailing ‘gross departures’ from medical norms towards detainees on Christmas Island

Source:

theguardian.com, Friday 20 December 2013 10.13 AEST

Christmas Island asylum seekers
A group of asylum seekers arrive on Christmas Island in December. Serious concerns have been raised about the medical standards on the island. Photograph: Jon Faulkner/AAP

A group of doctors has revealed the shocking standard of medical care they are made to provide asylum seekers at the Christmas Island detention centre in a 92-page “letter of concern” given to their employer in November.

The forensic report, written by 15 doctors and obtained by Guardian Australia, is the most comprehensive document yet on the failings of medical procedure inside detention centres and is a damning indictment of the Australian government’s care for refugees.

The report documents “numerous unsafe practices and gross departures from generally accepted medical standards which have posed significant risk to patients and caused considerable harm”.

It paints a vivid picture of the indignity of detention through distressing and detailed case studies.

The doctors claim:

• asylum seekers are examined while exhausted, dehydrated and filthy, their clothing “soiled with urine and faeces” because there are no toilets on the boats

• patients are “begging for treatment”

• asylum seekers must queue for up to three hours for medication. Some have to queue four times a day

• antenatal care is unsafe, inadequate and does not comply with Australian standards; there is an ultrasound machine on the island but rarely anyone who knows how to use it

• there is a high risk of depression among children and no effective system for identifying children at risk

• basic medical stocks are low; drugs requested by doctors are not provided

• long delays in transferring patients to mainland hospitals are leading to “risks of life-threatening deterioration”.

The doctors claim their professional integrity has been put at risk and that they are being paid to compromise their medical ethics.

They describe a fundamental conflict of interest between their employer, IHMS (International Health and Medical Services) and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

They write: “We have concerns that decisions made by IHMS regarding the provision of care to patients have been compromised by their relationship with the DIBP. As a result, these decisions are not always in the best interest of the patient.”

They fear exposing themselves to possible repercussions for working in such a system. “It is of concern that practitioners working within IHMS may be putting any registration they have with Ahpra [Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency] at risk by participating in unethical conduct and in gross departures from clinical standards,” they say.

The report was written in November at the invitation of IHMS, which provides medical care to more than 2,000 asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island and the many thousands of men, women and children processed there on their way to camps on Manus and Nauru.

Glimpses of the medical troubles on Christmas Island have been given in the past by whistleblowers and peak bodies such as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. But the doctors’ report to IHMS is the most comprehensive account yet of failings in medical care and practice on the island.

They write: “Even when mitigating factors, such as the remote location and the practical limitations imposed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection are considered, many aspects of the IHMS health service fall well below accepted standards for clinical practice and are unnecessarily dangerous.”

The doctors claim the problems begin the moment asylum seekers reach Christmas Island. They say flaws in initial health assessments are made even worse by the Abbott government’s demand that all asylum seekers who can must depart within 48 hours for Manus or Nauru.

The doctors document with case studies unsafe and inadequate antenatal care; inadequate medical care for children; the risk of life-threatening deterioration in patients waiting to be flown to hospitals on the Australian mainland; shortages of facilities, equipment and medications; unsafe prescribing practices; poor treatment of diabetes; and inadequate programs to prevent the spread of infectious diseases among detainees.

IHMS told Guardian Australia they were taking the letter “seriously” and that senior medical staff had held discussions with “the majority of co-signatories regarding the issues raised”.

The statement continued: “As per the terms of our contract, and recognising the range of issues, we have shared the letter with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection”.

Guardian Australia understands the letter was passed to the department shortly after it was delivered to IHMS in November.

IHMS said they do not accept that is any under a conflict of interest with their obligation to their patients and the department of immigration and border protection.

“IHMS values the contribution of all of our professional medical staff to ensure our care to people in detention remains of the highest standards.”

IHMS identified Dr John-Paul Sanggaran as the principal author of the letter.

IHMS said thatDr Sanggaran was employed on Christmas Island in September and October 2013. “This was during a period of high intensity, with an unprecedented number of arrivals and an increased number of people presenting with a range of significant complex medical conditions.”

They added: “We look forward to working constructively with Dr Sanggaran to review these matters and to resolve his concerns.”

Dr Sanggaran told Guardian Australia: “I’m hopeful that there will be improvements in the care of those detained on Christmas Island and that improvements already made can be maintained.”

Despite repeated requests, the immigration minister, Scott Morrison, would not provide a comment.

Health induction assessments (HIAs) on arrival:

Asylum seekers are examined while exhausted, dehydrated and filthy, their clothing “soiled with urine and faeces” because there are no toilets on the boats.

“The arrivals frequently express their embarrassment at their state. They apologise for the smell and filth they are covered in.”

Christmas Island screen grab
An extract from the letter of concern documents the conditions that most asylum seekers experience on arrival by boat

At busy times the assessment may take as little as five minutes. The doctors report a case of TB that went undiagnosed for 44 days. “Potentially the entire camp has been exposed.”

The asylum seekers’ own medical records have been thrown away. “This is a serious patient safety issue.”

Their medications have also been discarded without being recorded. Glasses, hearing aids and prosthetics are confiscated and often destroyed.

“A single replacement hearing aid has not been seen by any undersigned doctor working for IHMS.”

A number of hitherto standard health checks were abandoned in July and September this year as Canberra demanded faster transfer to Manus and Nauru.

The doctors conclude: “HIAs, as carried out by IHMS, are not fit for purpose and unreliable. They cannot and should not be relied upon for any reasonable assessment of a person’s health.”

Transfers

The most urgent cases are supposed to be flown to the mainland within two weeks. “Despite this, few category one patients leave before four weeks and some wait at least as long as two months. There have been periods of time where no patients have left the island despite needing immediate tertiary attention.”

Among the case studies in the report are a baby needing heart surgery who waited two months to be flown to the mainland; a child placed on the transfer list for more than two months who was flown instead to Nauru; a man eventually sent to the mainland who returned to the island not having been treated; and others with disabilities and significant injuries still waiting for transfer at the time of the writing of the report.

Antenatal care

“Antenatal care provided by IHMS is unsafe and inadequate and does not comply with Australian standards.” The doctors are particularly concerned by the difficulty of conducting ultrasounds. There is a machine at the island hospital. “However, there are usually no ultrasonographers available, as they only visit every few months and cater primarily for local residents.”

A woman with a “very high-risk pregnancy” – thought to be twins by medical authorities in Indonesia and on Christmas Island – was transferred to Nauru. The doctors write: “IHMS management stated to staff the Department of Immigration and Border Protection were ‘setting an example’.”

Paediatrics

Backed by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and UNHCR, the doctors view detention as “unsuitable for children and a contravention of human rights”. They believe their duty of care to children requires “advocating for their immediate removal from the detention environment”.

The doctors say there is inadequate screening for nutritional deficiencies, inadequate testing of sight and hearing and no monitoring of growth and development for the hundreds of children detained on the island.

“None of the scheduled physical and developmental assessments that would normally occur in the community (typically by a maternal child health nurse) occur at Christmas Island immigration detention centre.”

They say there is “no effective system in place” to detect children and adolescents at risk because of “the deleterious effect of indefinite detention” and “no child specific mental health services on the island (i.e. no paediatric psychologist or psychiatrist)”.

Disabilities

“Christmas Island immigration detention centre is unsuitable for any person living with significant intellectual or physical disability. The detention environment exacerbates their burden of care and the facilities and medical services provided are inadequate to accommodate their needs.”

A young woman with cerebral palsy resulting in severe physical disability is wheelchair bound in one of the island compounds. “She was flagged by several medical officers from her arrival as not suitable for the detention environment.” At the time of writing the report, though exhibiting signs of mental distress, she had not been transferred.

Conduct and ethics

The doctors claim they have been complaining about these issues to IHMS for some time, hence the invitation of the health contractor for them to put their complaints in writing.

The doctors see at the heart of the problems on Christmas Island a conflict of interest between the demands placed on IHMS by the Department of Immigration and their own duty of care to their patients.

Christmas Island screen grab
An extract from the letter of concern records a September 2013 meeting in which doctors are told they are ‘being paid to accept the risk’

The doctors reject the view they say was expressed by IHMS management in September that they are “being paid to accept the risk”. The doctors argue that “payment for risk is clearly in conflict with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency code of conduct for doctors”.

They write: “IHMS must therefore not put its doctors or itself in a situation where financial inducement means that its care for patients is compromised.”

According to the doctors the same IHMS manager told them in September: “There will one day be a royal commission into what is taking place on Christmas Island. He suggested we document well.”

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Rebels Endanger, Kill Civilians; Damage Churches
November 19, 2013
  • Destroyed church pews were found at Mar Mikhael Church in Sadad, Syria, after opposition fighters occupied the church in October 2013.

    © 2013 Human Rights Watch
  • The interior of a bloodstained well in Sadad, Syria, where village residents discovered the bodies of six of their neighbors after opposition fighters retreated on October 28. The victims’ hands were tied, they wore blindfolds, and their bodies bore gunshot wounds, a witness said.

    © 2013 Human Rights Watch
  • Graffiti mars the renowned frescoes of Mar Sarkis Church in Sadad, Syria, after opposition fighters occupied the church in October 2013. The graffiti reads, “No banner but the banner of Islam. Down with Bashar. Jabhat al-Nusra, Liwa al-Tawhid. “

    © 2013 Human Rights Watch
Opposition fighters came into Sadad claiming they would not harm civilians, but they did just that.There is no excuse for indiscriminate or targeted attacks against civilians or civilian sites.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director

(New York) – Opposition fighters in Syria apparently executed civilians and others in their custody during an offensive in the Christian village of Sadad from October 21 to 28, 2013. Other civilians were also killed unlawfully by opposition sniper fire. Civilians killed by opposition shelling, as fighting between government and opposition forces in the village continued, may have been killed unlawfully.

During the offensive against government forces in Sadad, 100 kilometers northeast of Damascus, rebel fighters refused to allow residents of the village to leave their homes in areas with active fighting, residents told Human Rights Watch. In at least one case, fighters allegedly used a resident as a human shield. Residents also said that opposition fighters also stole personal items, and vandalized, stole, and damaged property in at least three churches of local and historical significance.

“Opposition fighters came into Sadad claiming they would not harm civilians, but they did just that,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “There is no excuse for indiscriminate or targeted attacks against civilians or civilian sites.”

Opposition fighters should never execute or directly target civilians or anyone in their custody or target civilian sites, including religious sites, Human Rights Watch said. They should take precautions to protect civilians from harm during operations in residential areas including by easing the way for residents to leave the area if they wish to. They should not subject civilians to additional risk by using them as human shields.

Opposition groups referred to the Sadad operation as part of the “Battle of God’s Doors Do Not Shut” on social media sites, where several groups also announced their participation in the operation and released footage apparently showing their members fighting in Sadad. The groups involved in the operation include al-Maghaweer of the Dera’ al-Islam battalion of the Free Syrian Army (FSA),Ahel al-Athar battalion of the FSA, Liwa al-Huq, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Khadra’ battalion, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). According to a post by al-Khadra’ battalion on Twitter, al-Khadra’’s leader commanded al-Khadra’, ISIS, and Jabhat al-Nusra forces during the operation. Abu Ayham is the field commander of Dera’ al-Islam.

In most cases, Human Rights Watch has not been able to establish which of the participating opposition groups were responsible for the abuses that Human Rights Watch documented. One resident told Human Rights Watch that fighters who identified themselves as Jabhat al-Nusra used him as a human shield, and Human Rights Watch observed graffiti damaging a church in Sadad apparently left by Liwa al-Huq, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Liwa al-Tawhid.

Human Rights Watch visited Sadad during an investigative mission to Syria with permission from the Syrian government and interviewed 10 residents and the mayor, Sleiman Khalil. Human Rights Watch also later spoke to three residents by phone. Human Rights Watch interviewed each resident separately in various locations in the village. The mayor was interviewed in the municipal offices. Except for the mayor himself during his own interview, no Syrian government officials were present during the interviews. The names of those interviewed have been changed for their safety.

Residents of Sadad said that armed opposition fighters entered their ancient village of 12,000 people on the morning of October 21, and battled government forces, who sent reinforcements to the village over the course of the next week. The village, which borders Qalamoon to the south, Mheen to the east, Hissya to the west, and an-Na`amiyah to the north, is one of the many residential areas affected by the ongoing fighting between government and opposition forces in the “Battle of God’s Doors Do Not Shut.”

Residents of Sadad said that over the week that opposition fighters were in the village, fighters mostly did not target or abuse residents, but that in some instances, they endangered and killed civilians and people in their custody and intentionally damaged and looted civilian sites, including churches. Rebel fighters forced residents to stay in areas with active fighting, allegedly used at least one resident as a human shield, and apparently executed residents and killed others with sniper fire. As opposition forces battled government forces in the village some residents were also killed by opposition shelling which may have been indiscriminate.

Human Rights Watch identified the names of 46 people from Sadad killed in the village during the weeklong operation. Forty-one of the dead were civilians, residents told Human Rights Watch, including 14 women and two children. Three of the dead were police officers, one a soldier in the reserves who was not currently serving, and another an off-duty soldier on home leave from his service, residents said. If correct, only the soldier on home leave and police – if participating in counterinsurgency operations- would have been combatants. In 22 of the 46 cases, Human Rights Watch spoke to residents who described how the other residents were killed. In the remaining cases, Human Rights Watch received the names of the dead from local church officials who coordinated the burials. Human Rights Watch received reports that Syrian government and opposition fighters also died in the course of fighting, but has not confirmed the number of those killed.

Human Rights Watch urges the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). An ICC referral would be a crucial first step toward achieving justice for victims of atrocities by all sides in Syria’s armed conflict and would send a strong message that serious crimes will not be tolerated. Over the last two and a half years Human Rights Watch has extensively documented abuses by government and pro-government forces during ground operations including executions, indiscriminate shelling and sniper attacks, and the use of human shields. Human Rights Watch has also documented indiscriminate shelling, and executions and kidnapping by opposition forces during ground operations.

Currently, 64 countries, including six Security Council members, have expressed support for an ICC referral. Russia has described the effort to seek a referral as “ill-timed and counterproductive.” Security Council members such as the United States that have not yet supported an ICC referral should publicly do so, and should take all available steps to encourage Russia to drop its opposition, Human Rights Watch said.

“An ICC referral would strip all sides of their sense of impunity and make clear that abuses could land them behind bars in The Hague,” Whitson said. “It’s long past time for the Security Council to overcome the current stalemate on justice for the serious ongoing crimes in Syria.”

For detailed accounts of the killings and other abuses, please see below.

The Villagers’ Accounts

In interviews in Sadad on November 11, five residents and the mayor told Human Rights Watch that opposition fighters entered the village on October 21 at approximately 6:15 a.m. The mayor said that the fighters approached from the south, north, and east, and gained access after they set off two nearly simultaneous explosions at army checkpoints to the east and west, killing a number of government soldiers. In announcements on social media sites, some opposition groups said that the twin bomb attacks were suicide operations.

The mayor said that approximately 2,000 armed fighters, predominately Syrians, but also some foreigners from Libya, Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, entered the village on its three main roads in about 50 pickup trucks. They took control of the local police station and a political security facility, two government security buildings in the area.

Rebel fighters fanned out throughout the village, and, the mayor said, announced over a bullhorn that they meant the residents no harm. Soon Syrian army soldiers came from neighboring areas and entered Sadad to fight them. Throughout the following week, the rebels engaged government forces in battles from their positions in the village. On October 28, the rebels retreated from the village.

Apparent Executions

The mayor told Human Rights Watch that in the initial assault on the village, opposition fighters executed three police officers and one resident who was a reserve soldier, all of them unarmed and in the custody of opposition fighters. The mayor told Human Rights Watch that they were seized at approximately 6:30 a.m. on October 21 on their way from the municipal building, where they had met the mayor, to the police station. He said that he saw the officers get into the clearly marked municipal vehicle unarmed on their way to the police station.

A video Dera’ al-Islam published on October 25 on its YouTube channel shows opposition fighters in Sadad with five dead bodies in civilian clothes bearing bullet wounds – people the videographer calls “the dogs of Bashar.” The mayor identified four of them as the officers who were killed. The four bodies appear in the video lying in a row.

The position of their bodies appears to indicate that they were lined up and shot in the chest from approximately the same distance, and that the velocity of the shots had spun some of them around. The absence of blood splattered on the ground, except for immediately around the bodies, or any marks in the dirt, also suggests that the bodies had not been dragged or moved, but rather that the men were placed in a line and then shot. Further investigation is required to establish the exact circumstances of their deaths. Parties to a conflict who execute anyone, combatants or civilians, in their formal or effective custody, are guilty of war crimes, Human Rights Watch said.

The mayor and several residents also told Human Rights Watch that days after government forces pushed opposition fighters out of the village, residents followed a putrid odor to locate – and, with the help of the civil defense forces, retrieve – six corpses that someone had apparently thrown into a well. They identified the bodies as civilian residents from one family: Najla Mtanes al-Sheikh, 45; Fadi Sarkis Drouj, 16, and Ranim Sarkis Drouj, 18, Najla’s sons; Mtanes Sleiman al-Sheikh, Najla’s elderly father; Habbsa Nassif al-Sheikh, 75; and Maryam Nassif al-Sheikh, 90. The age of the three elderly residents and the presence of one child killed with his brother and mother, support the residents’ claim that these family members were civilians. A neighbor who was present when the bodies were retrieved said the victims were blindfolded with their hands tied and had been shot in the head.

The neighbor told Human Rights Watch that before the rebels withdrew, he had been helping people leave the village. On October 24, he had called Najla, whose family was among the last to remain in a neighborhood under opposition control, to try to arrange her escape. He said she told him it would be impossible for her to leave because she had three elderly relatives with her. The next morning, when the neighbor called her again, there was no answer.

Later that day, Syrian government soldiers regained control of the central part of the village, where Najla and her family lived. The neighbor said he asked soldiers to check on Najla and her family, but the soldiers told him they saw no sign of them. The neighbor told Human Rights Watch that the well where the bodies were later found was four houses and about 25 meters away from where Najla and her family had lived.

Human Rights Watch visited the well and observed bloodstains on its inner and outer walls and what appeared to be two bullet markings on the interior wall of the well but did not locate any witnesses to the killings. Further investigation is required to establish who killed the family.

Endangering Civilians: Restrictions on Movement

The mayor of Sadad told Human Rights Watch that as soon as opposition fighters entered the village, he recognized that some of them were from neighboring villages. He said he began reaching out to local and international humanitarian agencies and community leaders, including Christian and Sunni Muslim religious leaders from neighboring areas, to try to negotiate a ceasefire to enable civilians to flee. A local Christian religious leader who participated in the negotiations also told Human Rights Watch attempts were made to negotiate a ceasefire.

But residents told Human Rights Watch that opposition fighters in some instances had stopped them from leaving their homes, with devastating consequences.

Antonious, who lives on the main road on the western side of Sadad, told Human Rights Watch that on the first day of the opposition offensive, he and his family stayed inside their home, listening to calls of “Allah Akbar” outside. The next day, he tried to convince the rebel fighters to allow him and his relatives to move to a safer area, but they refused, he said. Antonious said that on the third day, out of the sight of opposition fighters, he and his relatives used a ladder to climb over a small wall behind the house to go to his uncle’s house, which seemed safer because it was off the main road. But around 3 or 3:30 p.m., he said, an enormous explosion sounded and the uncle’s entire house collapsed. Human Rights Watch was unable to determine the cause of the explosion or whether it was due to an attack by opposition or government forces.

I was in the garden, so I was okay, but my mom, brother, dad, and my uncle’s wife were all killed. My uncle was also in the garden … Both the houses, ours and theirs, were gone … After that, they let us go to a house [in a safer area] with other neighbors and there we stayed in the basement.

Jamil, who also lives with his family on the western side of Sadad, told Human Rights Watch that on October 21, opposition fighters surrounded and entered his neighborhood, positioned their rocket launcher 2 to 3 meters in front of his home, and told him that he and his family could not go anywhere because of ongoing fighting. On October 25, he said, his house caught fire after government forces shelled the opposition military position in front of his house. He and his relatives managed to escape, but the house was destroyed. After the attack, he said, opposition fighters transported his family and several of their neighbors to a safer area.

‘Ala, who lives on the eastern side of Sadad, told Human Rights Watch that opposition fighters evicted his family from their home to occupy it. He said that enabled 16 family members to escape fighting, while the fighters forced their neighbors to stay put.

Under the laws of war, parties to a conflict must take all feasible precautions during military operations to minimize loss of civilian life and must, to the extent feasible, remove civilians under their control from areas where they are deploying their military forces.

Endangering Civilians: Alleged Use of a Human Shield

In at least one instance, opposition fighters allegedly seized a man from his house, apparently to use him as a human shield as they passed within range of a government sniper. The man, Fouad, lives with his wife and three young children near Mar Elias Church on Sadad’s main road. He said that on October 26, three fighters who identified themselves as members of Jabhat al-Nusra came into his house and demanded his money, cell phone, and ID card.

His children were terrified, Fouad said. The fighters told everyone else to be quiet, and interrogated Fouad about his phone calls, apparently trying to assess whether he was contacting people to help the government. Fouad said one fighter redialed the last phone number Fouad had called – his sister – and told him not to say a word while the fighter determined who she was. Fouad said that as his mother, niece, wife, and three children looked on, the men told him to lie down and then hit him with their rifle butts. One of them said, “We kill Nasara [Christians],” Fouad said.

Later, Fouad said: “Two of them took me with them to walk down the street, walking on either side of me until we passed the [government] sniper, so he wouldn’t shoot. And then they left me. When we were walking, the sniper didn’t shoot at us.”

Opposition fighters should not endanger civilians by restricting the ability to flee or by using them as human shields, Human Rights Watch said.

The use of human shields – using the presence of civilians to prevent the targeting of military objectives – is prohibited under international humanitarian law. Combatants who deliberately use civilians as human shields to deter attacks on their forces are responsible for war crimes.

Civilian Deaths from Sniper Shots, Shelling

Residents told Human Rights Watch that rebel sniper fire and indiscriminate shelling killed their family members and neighbors.

‘Ala told Human Rights Watch that on October 25 or 26, a sniper in the opposition-controlled eastern section of Sadad killed his cousin, Jamil Asfour, 35, his uncle’s wife, Shamsa al-Boufi, 65, and her mother, Fouda al-Boufi, in her 80s, as they tried to flee to a safer part of the village. He said that after Syrian government soldiers pushed the rebel fighters back, soldiers found the bodies with gunshot wounds in the eastern section of the village. A second relative who lives in the eastern section also told Human Rights Watch that these three family members had been killed by a sniper positioned there.

Another resident, Sarah, told Human Rights Watch that five people, including her son, were delivering food, unarmed, to besieged neighbors in the northern part of Sadad on October 25 when shelling killed three of the five, including her son. One of the survivors, who was injured, told her that the mortar shell that killed her son came from an opposition position, from which fighters were striking toward a government-controlled area in the north of the village. There were no government positions in their neighborhood, however.

Human Rights Watch spoke to one of the men injured in the strike, whose father had died in the attack. He said that on October 25, government soldiers passed through his neighborhood to search for fighters and reassure residents. After government forces were no longer in the area, at around 2:15 p.m., three shells landed in his neighborhood, one right after the other. He said that the third strike killed the three people delivering food, and injured him and a fifth person, and that after the attack, government soldiers came to the neighborhood and transported the dead and wounded to nearby hospitals. He gave Human Rights Watch the names of the dead and injured.

The absence of military targets in the area hit by shells fired by opposition forces reflects that their method of attack or the attacks themselves may have been indiscriminate, Human Rights Watch said. Combatants should only target military objects and should take precautions to not harm civilians.

Theft and Destruction of Property, Including at Religious Sites
Four Sadad residents told Human Rights Watch that fighters broke into their homes or cars and stole their property. Residents also described damage to several of the churches in Sadad. Human Rights Watch visited three churches that residents said were among the worst damaged.

Two residents said they saw opposition fighters enter Mar Theodore Church on October 25. When government forces retook the village, the residents said, items were missing from the church and it had damage that appeared intentional.

When Human Rights Watch visited the church on November 11, residents had already cleaned up much of the damage they described. Human Rights Watch observed a broken candelabra, and a broken door on a locked cabinet behind the church altar, where residents said a sound system had been stolen, leaving wires dangling. Human Rights Watch also saw two crowns intended to be worn by priests of the church that appeared to be intentionally flattened and bent in half. The residents also said that opposition fighters had stolen copper candlesticks and chalices, along with religious relics. Shelling – whose origin was unclear – also damaged the church roof, leaving the wooden ceiling visibly damaged.

In Mar Sarkis Church, which residents said is hundreds of years old, Human Rights Watch observed graffiti tags on the interior walls, some on the edges of the church’s rare and renowned frescos. One tag read, “Saqar the Libyan passed through here freedom for Mheen [a nearby village],” a town where rebels were fighting the government. Others said, “Liwa al-Huq,” “Jabhat al-Nusra,” and “Liwa al-Tawhid,” names of opposition groups, some of which announced their participation in the battle in Sadad. The glass on the doors to the church was shattered near the knobs, suggesting a forced entry.

In Mar Mikhael Church, Human Rights Watch observed bullet holes in the ceiling and walls, and in several religious paintings, in patterns suggesting vandalism rather than firefights. A resident told Human Rights Watch that he saw rebel fighters occupy the church, and showed Human Rights Watch some food and personal items he said they left behind. Human Rights Watch observed destroyed religious icons, pews with smashed wooden legs, seats, and backs, and the church’s broken and empty collection box. A resident told Human Rights Watch that religious relics were also missing.

Under international humanitarian law, parties in an armed conflict have a responsibility not to intentionally attack religious buildings that are not being used for military purposes. They are prohibited from seizing, destroying, or willfully damaging religious buildings or institutions, and from theft, pillage, or vandalism directed against important cultural property. Pillaging and deliberate attacks on religious sites that are not military objectives are war crimes.

Global Research, July 02, 2013


Former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that there’s a plot which was devised by several western countries – primarily Britain and France – to topple the Syrian the government even before the crisis started in Syria.

In an exclusive interview given to SANA’s correspondent in Paris, Dumas said that while he was in Britain before the crisis began in Syria, he was invited to a party where two people an Englishman and a Frenchman, asked him if he would like to participate in preparations for an attack on Syria to topple the government in it.

He said he refused this offer, but events proved that they were serious about what they said at that evening.
Dumas voiced surprise over the French government’s positions, saying that the paths chosen by the governments of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and current President Francois Holland aren’t the right paths that lead to peace in Syria.

On the west’s goals from toppling the Syrian state, Dumas said that he thinks the current international climate formed around the Syrian situation contentious the policies adopted several years ago to deal with the Arab world, stressing that the west’s policies in such issues aren’t policies of peace but rather of war, and that he personally is against war and supports the path that leads to peace.

Regarding the Syrian opposition, Dumas said that this opposition is multifaceted, and that countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia are involved in the fighting taking place in Syria against the legitimate government.

“A peaceful solution isn’t achieved by letting people fight,” he said, stressing that sending weapons will not solve problems in Syria.

Dumas pointed out that the legitimate government in Syria is reclaiming areas which gunmen seized, which is a good sign, noting that France had been opposing the suggestion of holding an international conference on Syria in a manner contrary to its traditional political creed, but eventually it admitted that the conference must be held as soon as possible and its position on Iran’s participation in the conference was altered.

He said that the most important point is the agreement between Russia and the US on holding this conference, noting that there mustn’t be any preconceptions about the conference.

On the G8 meeting in Ireland, Dumas said that it wasn’t the optimal place for discussing Syria because many countries interested in the Syrian issue weren’t there, which is why the conference due to be held in Geneva is important.

Regarding France sending advanced weapons to terrorist groups in Syria, Dumas said that sending weapons contradicts peaceful solutions because weapons are made for war, adding that it’s unfortunate that some sides want to send one side as this will prompt others to send weapons to the other side.

He noted that there were discussions on the issue of weapons because the west is concerned over who will receive the weapons, pointing out to Libya where weapons disappeared, asserting that sending weapons to Syria will exacerbate the conflict and make it more difficult to resolve.

Dumas said that international laws are only good for achieving peace when its time comes, and that there’s no hope of ending the crisis in Syria without having all countries participate in an international conference for this purpose.

He said that the allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria are very dangerous as they bring to mind the discussions which took place about Iraq in the past, when the US alleged that Iraq possessed chemical weapons but none were found, stressing that in legal terms, evidence is procured through judicial channels, not through journalists carrying small bottles which they claim they procured in Syria, as those individuals aren’t trustworthy.

Dumas went on to note that international law has items on destroying chemical weapons which raises concerns, saying it’s best to have the UN send impartial and reliable experts to look into this matter.

On France’s double standards in combating terrorists in Mali while supporting them in Syria, Dumas said that France says it will arm the “opposition” but it’s unknown what will happen to these weapons, and that there’s no way of knowing that these weapons won’t be turned against France, adding “this is a great risk… when we enter a conflict we know it can spread.”

He said that the traditional relations between Syria and France were good, particularly on the cultural level, but all that was undermined and now the two countries are enemies which doesn’t make sense, adding “it’s time to fix everything.”

Dumas pointed out that some sides have a desire to destroy strong Arab states, like what happened in Iraq and Libya before and what is being attempted in Syria, particularly given Syria’s special relations with Russia.

He said that Israel plays a role in what is happening in Syria, pointing out to the statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said that if an agreement isn’t reached, then Israel will attack and destroy the governments that stand against it.

On the possibility of France and the west changing their position on Syria, Dumas said that this is possible, and that France’s position has shown some development recently which is a positive indicator and a move in the right direction.

Dumas stressed that there’s massive propaganda being spread regarding events in Syria, with all news, reports and images coming from one source, causing the French public which sees these images every day to form a terrible impression that there are “bad guys” represented by the Syrian government who are killing the people as they allege, and on the other side there are “good guys” represented by the armed groups, causing them to think that the bad guys must go and the good guys must stay, adding “but one day, the truth will come out.”

He said that conceptions must be corrected, and then those who support certain policies will see that they are mistaken, and then it’s possible to put an end to these policies.

Dumas concluded by saying that Syria and the Syrian people are great and that they will emerge from this crisis, adding “we must hope that they do not emerge from it too late… we wish that Syria doesn’t suffer many losses in lives and damages.”

View Source: Global Research

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http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/cameras-disabled-after-manus-island-photos-revealed-20130107-2ccu3.html

Tablet computers for asylum seekers on Manus Island have had their camera functions removed days after Fairfax Media published photographs of life in the island’s camp.

The photographs, which were sent from the camp to the mainland without the knowledge of the Department of Immigration, showed conditions there are very basic.

Despite the prevalence of malaria on the island, they appeared to show little protection offered for children from disease-carrying mosquitoes, with flywire hanging loose over doorways.

There were no doors on the dongas pictured to offer privacy and protection from mosquitoes, and no air-conditioning to offer respite from the island’s intense heat.

Read the full report here

Occupied Palestine | فلسطين

Al Qassam Website | Jan 2, 2013

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Al Qassam website – The Inspector General of the Israeli occupation Police, Yohanan Danino, granted the Israeli soldier who had killed the youth Muhammad Salaymeh a medal of honor.The Israeli soldier had shot Martyr Salaymeh, 17, in mid-December last year after he had not responded to her call, as he suffered hearing impairment.Yohanan Danino commended the ability of the soldier to “successfully” deal with the situation, according to his claims.The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas in the city of al-Khalil had condemned the killing of the martyr Salaymeh.

(end)



(Some) Examples of attacks by Jewish Colonists in Palestine

I emphasize, just some examples….
For a full overview see:Category Settler Violence



Essential information/resources

  • Israel Arms & Trains Illegal Settlers for Rampage in Occupied…

View original post 180 more words

Silver Lining

A Precarious Existence in the Jordan Valley

by IRIN – Al-Jiftlik, West Bank, source

For those who recently watched images of the Israeli bombardment in Gaza, the wide open hills of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank appear as a stark contrast.

Flocks of sheep accompanied by their herders cross the hillsides, home to some of the most fertile land in all of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and unrivalled even in Israel.

And yet despite the abundant land and resources, Palestinians living in the Valley are some of the poorest in oPt, lacking even the most basic infrastructure.

The Jordan Valley is marked by a patchwork of zones in which Palestinians are allowed to live, which leave little room for maneuver.

“These restrictions have removed their ability to be self-sustaining. They are in an artificial humanitarian crisis; they have the capacity, the training, the education, but because of…

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Occupied Palestine | فلسطين

[ PIC 01/01/2013 – 03:27 PM ]

images_News_2013_01_01_salfit_300_0[1]

SALFIT, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed downtown Salfit on Monday night and fired rubber bullets and teargas at citizens wounding ten of them.

Local sources said that IOF soldiers patrolled the city streets on foot in a further provocation of the citizens who threw stones and empty bottles on the invaders.

They said that one of the citizens was wounded in his neck with a rubber bullet while a second was injured in his hand while eight others were treated for gas inhalation.

The confrontations took place at the city’s main roundabout near the grand mosque, the sources said, adding that worshippers were forced to remain inside the mosque and a number of them suffered breathing difficulty as a result of the intensified shooting of teargas canisters in the vicinity of the mosque.


Still live in fairy-tale-land about Israel? Time to wake…

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Occupied Palestine | فلسطين

January 1, 2013 | Wyatt Black |International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

The Israeli occupation forces have shown a large amount of aggression recently in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Al Khalil (Hebron). Three Palestinian homes near the ancient Jewish cemetery were entered and searched on the 30 December. Another apartment rented by internationals had soldiers attempting to forcibly enter that same night, the armies’ alleged reason was to get onto the roof.

Today (31 December) Israeli army personnel entered deep into the H1 Palestinian-controlled area of the neighborhood at 4 pm and apprehended a person at a shop who was using a knife for his work. They detained him for more than an hour, during that time he was kept blindfolded.

The Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron of 1997 cites that “Israel will continue to carry the responsibility for overall security of Israelis” and that “both…

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Occupied Palestine | فلسطين

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PRESS RELEASE
Operation Dove | Dec 29, 2012

Negligence of the Israeli soldiers exposes Palestinian children at risk on the way to school,
South Hebron Hills

At-Tuwani – December 26, Today the Israeli military escort left thirteen Palestinian children of Tuba and Magayir Al-Abeed alone along the way to school near the Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on. This path is dangerous because the children were repeatedly attacked by the settler of the outpost. The army was over an hour late on the way to school and on the way back didn’t arrive at all, without explanation. After two hours of waiting between At-Tuwani and Havat Ma’on, some international accompanied the children at home through a longer way (more than one hour instead of 20 minutes) in which the children were however often attacked by settlers.

This military escort was established in November 2004 by “Children Rights Committee of the…

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Occupied Palestine | فلسطين


Related: CHILD ARRESTS & DETENTION BY ISRAEL ▶ OVERVIEW


Saturday December 29, 2012 07:03 by Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies

The Palestinian Detainees Studies Center reported that the Israeli Salem military court sentenced three Palestinian children from Azzoun town near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, to four months imprisonment each.

child[1]
File – Arabs48

The court also delayed deliberations in the case of another child from Jenin, and released his brother.

Lawyer Mustafa Azmouti told the Center that that Salem court sentenced Qais Waddah Shbeita, 16, Mohammad Adel Shbeita, 16, and Mohammad Abdul-Fattah Radwan, 15, to four months each. They were all kidnapped after the army broke into their homes in Azzoun on December 7, and are currently held at the Majeddo prison.

In related news, the Salem court postponed deliberations in the case of a detained child identified as Ihsaan Ayman Aabed, 14, until December 30 after…

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Occupied Palestine | فلسطين

Dec 13, 2012 (Updated March 3, 2013)

DepoFor some years now, Israel is forcing Ethiopian women to accept or are coerced to be injected with contraceptives. This is a flagrant violation of the human fundamental right to reproduction.

Although Israeli media use the term “sterilization” which is now causing (again) some international -for Israel- unwanted awareness  and protest, now certain sources mention it is okay to force women to coerced birth control in order to remain in a legitimate residence status:

It remains “blackmail” and a severe violation of every women’s rights.

Time to raise your voice and create awareness!


Already in January 2010 Jonathan Cook wrote about “Israel’s treatment of Ethiopians ‘racist’” (Source) as a tool of ethnic cleansing or preventing demographic increase of ‘black Jewish” people.

But long before this article: in 2008, an article discussing a deliberate policy of prescribing the “Depo…

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Truth11

Activist Post
The American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School’s Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic today filed a petition against the United States with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) for the unlawful detention and torture of José Padilla, a U.S. citizen, whom the United States detained and interrogated for four years.

The petition was filed by Padilla’s mother, Estela Lebron, on her own and on her son’s behalf. Padilla and Lebron had previously filed federal lawsuits – since dismissed – against current and former government officials for their roles in Padilla’s torture and other abuse.

The petition is an international complaint asking the IACHR, which is an independent human rights body of the Organization of American States, to conduct a full investigation into the human rights violations suffered by Padilla; to find that his mistreatment violated the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; and…

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Truth11

Joe Wright
Activist Post

In another blow to human rights, freedom, the law, and morality, the 7th Circuit Court has exonerated Donald Rumsfeld from prosecution for allegations of being a primary architect of U.S. torture policy.

At issue are two Americans, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, who worked for a private Iraqi security firm named Shield Group Security. Courthouse Newsreports the harrowing experience the two men encountered after attempting to blow the whistle to the U.S. government about their employer potentially being involved in illegal arms trades and bribery:

Shield became suspicious of Vance and Ertel in April 2006, confiscated their credentials and effectively trapped them in the firm’s compound. U.S. forces allegedly came to the compound and took the pair to the U.S. Embassy.

But Vance and Ertel say their rescue soon turned into a nightmare. According to their complaint, U.S. officials transported them to Camp Cropper, where…

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Silver Lining

by David Kenner, Foreign Policy, source

The Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology published a study in September titled “Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities.”

The study, which was funded by the University of Michigan’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, examines the prevalence of birth defects in the Iraqi cities of Basra and Fallujah, both of which experienced heavy fighting during the worst days of the Iraq war. As originally noted by US analyst David Isenberg, the study found an “astonishing” increase in the number of birth defects in a Basra maternal hospital when compared to before the war.

From October 1994 to October 1995, there were 1.37 birth defects at al- Basrah Maternity Hospital per 1,000 live births. By 2003, at the beginning of the war, the number of birth defects skyrocketed to 23 per 1,000 live births — a 17-fold increase. Then…

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Silver Lining

IOF arrests 7 Palestinians including a woman and 3 children

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The occupation authorities arrested last night and Tuesday morning, seven Palestinians in al-Khalil; including three children, a woman and her son.

Informed sources in the town of Beit Ummar, north of al-Khalil, reported this morning that an Israeli force surrounded a house owned by the citizen Wahid Hamdi Abu Maria, 45, accompanied by a big bulldozer and started demolishing part of the house while the family members were inside it.

Eyewitnesses stated that the Israeli soldiers transferred Abu Maria, blindfolded, to Etzion camp when clashes erupted, in the area, between Israeli soldiers and angry young residents.

An Israeli force also stormed at dawn Tuesday the house of the liberated captive Mohammed Ahmed al-Najjar in the Fawwar refugee camp, south of al-Khalil, then arrested him after destroying and breaking the contents of his house.

Meanwhile, another occupation…

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PN

108morris108
October 27, 2012

It has been reported this Dr Meleshe Shandoly has been killed today in Bani Walid by Alqaeda with a knife because he is from Warfalla tribe and sits on a council.
Nothing is verifiable from Bani Walid.

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I agree with your comment Syrian Girl. I think we will see a desperate last bid, hence all the donations now coming in from western powers to the FSA. I do believe your warning about a Chemical False Flag could be the one that seals their deal. from what i heard on the grapevine, FSA have chemical weapons access. can you confirm this?
Also what is your view on the Yinon Plan (Israels plan for middle east)? i have blogged it previously and it links up everything that is going on and has been going on. Love and Solidarity from Australia to the people of Syria. We support your choices as it is, your country, your choice.

PN

Syrian Girl
August 12, 2012

Allepo ‘al bab’ suburb on the outskirts of the city. The foreign backed insurgency filled with non-Syrian fighters cheer and film their crimes. These are the democratic peace loving protesters that supposed to take over power in Syria according to the US/NATO/Israel/GCC

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