Archive for the ‘Human Rights Watch’ Category

China faces unprecedented UN human rights scrutiny

February 9, 2009

China will face unprecedented scrutiny of its human rights record Monday in a key test of Beijing’s readiness to answer international criticism over its treatment of political opponents.

Beijing has sent a large, high-level delegation to Geneva to defend China’s human rights performance in the face of questioning from members of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“This is an important test both for China and for the United Nations,” says Nicholas Bequelin, a China expert with Human Rights Watch.

By Peter Ford
ChristianScience Monitor

Some observers doubt that the formal and generally nonconfrontational UN body will actually put China on the spot for the wide-ranging human rights violations of which its authoritarian government stands accused.

The United States declined to join the council when it was formed in 2006, saying the body was toothless. President Obama has said he will reconsider that decision.

Monday’s meeting “will be a kabuki dance, a farce,” argues Brett Schaefer, an analyst with the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, unless China takes foreign criticism more seriously than it has done until now.

Human rights activists here and abroad, however, express hopes that Monday’s meeting will indeed help speed China’s efforts to improve its rights record.

“International pressure is very helpful and very, very necessary to improve the human rights situation here,” says Li Heping, a well-known human rights lawyer who has himself been kidnapped and beaten up for his work.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/2009
0209/wl_csm/ochinaun_1

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Another dispute on Obama’s plate: Georgia-Russia

January 25, 2009

When Russia’s tanks and fighter jets invaded Georgia last August, the Kremlin said its aim was to stop genocide in the breakaway Georgian republic of South Ossetia. In a few days, Georgia’s military had slaughtered some 2,000 people there, Russian officials and their allies in the South Ossetian government claimed.

Last month, however, the head of the Russian federal prosecutor’s task force examining the war said the toll was just 162 civilians and 48 Russian soldiers killed.

By Tom Lasseter
McClatchy Newspapers

The disinformation and brutality are among the lingering questions about last summer’s five-day war that President Barack Obama’s new foreign-policy team faces, and the answers will help shape U.S. relations with Georgia and, more important, with a resurgent Russia.

Eleven days before leaving office, the Bush administration signed a “strategic partnership” charter with Georgia that pledged cooperation with the former Soviet republic on defense, energy security and democratic development but made no specific U.S. commitments. To what extent Obama follows through may hinge on how the new president interprets the events of the Russia-Georgia war.

Russia’s false allegations of genocide paved the way for what now appear to be war crimes: Protected by Russian tanks, South Ossetian militias looted and torched Georgian villages in an attempt to “cleanse” ethnic Georgians from the small mountainous region of South Ossetia.

“Clearly, torture, execution, rape, these are war crimes,” said Giorgi Gogia, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Georgia who said that his organization had documented that behavior by South Ossetians.

In addition, Gogia said, Russian forces in many cases participated in the looting and burning of ethnic Georgian homes or stood by as their South Ossetian counterparts did so. At least 17 ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia were “pretty much razed to the ground,” according to Gogia, a conclusion bolstered by satellite imagery from the United Nations. More than 20,000 ethnic Georgians are said to have fled to other parts of the country.

The South Ossetian fighters, who were or should have been under Russian control, tortured at least four Georgian military prisoners of war and executed three others, Gogia said.

“As an occupying power in Georgia, Russia failed overwhelmingly … to ensure law and order,” Gogia said.

Read the rest:
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/w
orld/story/495289.html

Thai Lawmakers Probe Abuse, Death of Hundreds of Muslim Refugees

January 23, 2009

Thailand has almost always had a troubling record on refugees.  Since the war in Vietnam ended in 1975, people have moved into Thailand by land and sea fleeing death, torture and prisons.  But in Thailand, regugees have often found death, torture, rape, miserable conditions not unlike the prisons the refugees hoped to avoid.

Last July, this from Human Rights Watch:

“Forcing civilians back into an active war zone may be an easy answer for Thailand, but it’s brutal – a completely inhumane and unacceptable solution,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Thai government should cooperate with international relief agencies and UNHCR to ensure that it upholds the rights of civilians under international law.”

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Thai lawmakers were probing Thursday “very alarming” reports about its troops abusing and casting out members of a Muslim minority group fleeing to its shores.

Hundreds of Muslim refugees from Burma (Myanmar) are feared missing or dead after Thai troops forced them onto boats without engines and cut them adrift in international waters, according to human rights activists and authorities in India who rescued survivors. The revelations have shone a spotlight on the Thai military’s expulsion policy toward Muslims it sees as a security threat.

Nearly 1,000 refugees were detained on a remote island in December before being towed out to sea in two batches and abandoned with little food or water, according to a tally by a migrant-rights group based on survivors’ accounts and media reports. The detainees, mostly members of Burma’s oppressed Rohingya minority, then drifted for weeks. One group was later rescued by Indonesia’s Navy, and two others made landfall in India’s Andaman Islands.

Related:
Christian Science Monitor:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20
090123/ts_csm/oboats_1

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WO
RLD/asiapcf/01/22/thailand.refugees/index.html

Related:
Consequences of Speedy Withdrawal From Iraq?
(What happend when refugee migrations start…)

A group of refugees guarded by the Thai army sit on a beach ... 
A group of refugees guarded by the Thai army sit on a beach on the Thai island of Koh Sai Baed in this picture taken late 2008 and released to Reuters January 19, 2009. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Sunday that he would meet human rights groups to discuss alleged violations, as further reports emerged of ill-treatment of refugees from Myanmar by Thai security forces. The refugees, the Rohingyas, are Muslims from Myanmar. Many have fled the Buddhist-dominated, army-ruled country to escape repression and economic hardship, but rights groups say hundreds were recently detained on a remote Thai island before being forced back to sea by the security forces with little food or water. REUTERS/South China Morning Post/Pool

Media Censorship, Criminalization of Free Press In Vietnam Needs Action

January 9, 2009

US-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Friday on the World Bank and donor nations to Vietnam to press the communist government to stop criminalising journalists and allow a free media.

The group pointed to the recent jailings of reporters and bloggers and the dismissals of two newspaper editors as the latest examples in “a series of measures by the Vietnamese government to stifle criticism and dissent.”

AFP

A newspaper vendor in Hanoi. US-based group Human Rights Watch ... 
A newspaper vendor in Hanoi. US-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Friday on the World Bank and donor nations to Vietnam to press the communist government to stop criminalising journalists and allow a free media(AFP/File/Hoang Dinh Nam)

“Vietnam is one of the few countries where people can be locked up on charges of ‘abusing democratic freedoms’,” said HRW Asia director Brad Adams.

“Vietnam’s donors should continue to insist that the government stop its criminalization of peaceful expression.”

Authorities have targeted the Thanh Nien (Young People) and Tuoi Tre (Youth) dailies, which helped uncover a major graft scandal in which officials squandered money from projects partially financed by Japan and the World Bank.

“The World Bank and Japan should come to the defence of these investigative reporters and their editors,” said Adams.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090109/wl_asia_af
p/vietnammediarightshrwworldbank_newsmlmmd

Pope’s Slam on Gays Ealier Superseded By Appeal for Children on Christmas

December 25, 2008

Commenting on gays earlier this week, the Pope seemed to get Christmas off on the wrong foot.   The man referred to as “a guy with a funny hat” by Bill (“No shot at heaven”) Maher said the world needs to act to save  “street children who do not have the blessing of a family home, of those children who are brutally exploited as soldiers and made instruments of violence, instead of messengers of reconciliation and peace.”

Pope Benedict XVI blesses children as he celebrates the Christmas ... 
Pope Benedict XVI blesses children as he celebrates the Christmas Midnight Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, early Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008.(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Beijing has millions of homeless street children, many the sons and daughters of some 150 million migrants, many now without jobs.

The Pope also urged action for minors who are “victims of the industry of pornography and every other appalling form of abuse, and thus are traumatized in the depths of their soul.”

Bill Maher, November 2007
Bill (“No shot at heaven”) Maher

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Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Christmas Midnight Mass early Thursday by sending out an appeal for children who are abused, forced to live on the street or serve as soldiers.

By ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writer

In the splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica, Benedict marked the birth of Jesus with a call to the faithful to help children who are denied the love of their parents and those who are exploited across the world.

“The Child of Bethlehem summons us once again to do everything in our power to put an end to the suffering of these children,” he said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081225/ap
_on_re_eu/eu_vatican_christmas

Merry Christmas!

Related:
Pope Down on Gays

 Pope’s Message of Peace, Stability: Warns of Ruin in Selfishness

CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe
/12/24/vatican.midnight.mass/index.html

http://news.aol.com/article/pope-issue
s-plea-for-end-to-child-abuse/286983

Public security forces undermine China’s HIV fight: rights group

December 9, 2008

The harassment and imprisonment of drug users in China is undermining the country’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, activist group Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

Police and public security forces are driving drug addicts away from community-based prevention services and denying them access to treatment, the group said in a report.

“The government has expanded prevention and treatment programmes for drug users,” said Joe Amon, HIV/AIDS programme director at Human Rights Watch.

“But at the same time, the police are detaining drug users trying to access these services, and putting drug users in so-called ‘drug rehabilitation centres’ where they are provided no drug dependency treatment and no HIV prevention or treatment services.”

A man flies a "red ribbon" kite by the Birds Nest ...
A man flies a “red ribbon” kite by the Birds Nest stadium in Beijing. The harassment and imprisonment of drug users in China is undermining the country’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, activist group Human Rights Watch said(AFP/File/Gou Yige) 

AFP

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081209/hl_af
p/chinahealthaidsdrugsrights_081209074921