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Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights Watch’

Egypt’s Jon Stewart Jailed

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Bassem Youssef, who hosts a television show modeled after Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” confirmed on his official Twitter account that he received an arrest warrant, mockingly saying he will head to the prosecution office Sunday “unless they send me a police car today and save me transportation trouble,” Al Ahram reported.

Ealier on Saturday, Egypt’s prosecutor-general ordered the arrest of the famous political satirist, to look into complaints accusing him of insulting President Mohamed Morsi, denigrating Islam and spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order.

Youssef hosts a weekly satire show, El-Bernameg (The Show), on private satellite television channel CBC.

The complaints were filed by 12 citizens after Youssef’s March 1 episode in which he mocked the president’s public interview with TV anchor Amr El-Leithy in February.

One anonymous complainant accused Youssef of denigrating Islam and disturbing security, and demanded that the state take “deterrent measures against him so that others with weak resolve wouldn’t dare to insult Islam.” The same anonymous person also accused Youssef of diminishing President Morsi’s stature “domestically and abroad.”

Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch thinks the Egyptian government has signaled that it takes Youssef’s threat seriously, going so far as to appoint a judge to investigate the complaints against him, according to.

“It means you’re prioritizing the case, and dedicating resources to it,” Morayef told the NY Times, noting wryly that the same public prosecutor has ignored numerous complaints of torture and the use of excessive force. Issuing an arrest warrant without a reasonable fear that Youssef had any intent to flee the country “is completely unnecessary and definitely a political escalation,” she said.

In January, a number of Islamist lawyers filed a lawsuit against Youssef, accusing him of “undermining the standing of the president” during his show.

However, charges back then were dropped before the case reached a court.



The Next UN-Israel Showdown

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Another major confrontation is brewing between Israel and the United Nations. On January 29, Israel is scheduled for its quadrennial Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council (HRC). Following the March 2012 Council session, however, Israel’s foreign minister ceased all contacts with the HRC due to its obsessive bias and double standards targeting the Jewish state. As a result, Israel will not participate in UPR.

This has U.N. officials very worried and for good reason. If Israel fails to show up for UPR, this may force the HRC to end the stranglehold of abusive regimes over the institution and implement long overdue reforms.

UPR was instituted as the focal point of the newly-created HRC in 2006, which was established as a correction to its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. The Commission was disbanded after being hijacked by dictatorships and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The huge embarrassment was compounded by a singular focus on Israel. According to U.N. Watch, approximately half of all country-specific resolutions condemned the Jewish state.

The Commission’s standing agenda included the notorious “Item 7,” meaning that Israel was the only country singled out at every session. Inevitably, this resulted in incessant discussion of alleged Israeli violations against Palestinians. By 2005, the situation had deteriorated to the point that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan remarked, “the Commission’s ability to perform its tasks has been . . . undermined by the politicization of its sessions and the selectivity of its work.”

UPR was created to ostensibly remedy the pervasive one-sidedness by implementing a peer review of the human rights records of every U.N. member state once every four years. It was heavily promoted by officials from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Europe, and the U.N. as the linchpin of the HRC and proof of its “reformed” and universally-concerned character, despite the perpetuation of Agenda Item 7 on Israel. Human Rights Watch (HRW) in particular lobbied extensively for UPR.

In spite of the promises, the new HRC differed little from the Commission. Dictatorships and Islamic regimes continued to dominate the council and its leadership. Resolutions against Israel outnumbered those issued against any other country by orders of magnitude, and 5 of the first 9 special sessions targeted Israel. Prompted by the Arab League and the OIC, coupled with intensive campaigning by HRW, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, and other NGOs, there have been at least four separate “fact-finding” missions aimed at Israel, most notably the Goldstone Mission. Follow-up committees, reports for Goldstone (ignoring the repudiation of the report by Judge Goldstone himself), and the other inquiries continue to be placed on the agenda at every HRC session – wasting precious time and resources.

And although every country participated in the first round of the UPR process, which concluded in 2011, the meetings usually consisted of dictators patting each other on the back for their stellar human rights records. Bashing Israel and Canada stood in for “constructive dialogue.”

Based on this sorry history, the March 2012 HRC session was the last straw for Israel. While thousands were being butchered by the Assad regime in Syria, the HRC outrageously passed a resolution condemning Israel for the “suffering of Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan.” Due to intense lobbying by several European-government funded NGOs, including Al Haq and Badil, seeking to lay the groundwork for a new campaign against Israelis at the International Criminal Court, the HRC also initiated another fact-finding mission against Israel. This time, Israel decided to disengage entirely from the farce.

Once HRC officials realized that Israel’s decision would also affect UPR, they panicked. UPR can only work if there is 100% state participation. Without UPR, the façade of a reformed HRC is now in jeopardy. On November 28, 2012, the HRC President sent a desperate letter to Israel trying to guilt it into participation by ironically promoting the “universality” of the process. When Israel didn’t bite, the HRC met this week and openly chastised Israel for refusing to participate in the discredited framework.

In concert with the U.N., NGOs predictably began issuing condemnations. The NGO WILPF, in Orwellian fashion, lamented that, “Letting the non-cooperation of a state produce a double standard in the UPR process and setting such a precedent would undermine its object and purpose,” while ignoring the decades of double standards aimed at Israel. No doubt, similarly self-righteous statements will soon appear from HRW and others.

Journalists, The Right to Live and Other Human Rights

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Here’s the AP report of a widely publicized assault (the Jerusalem Post called it “a scathing attack”) on Israel’s moral standing made three days ago by the New York-based Human Rights Watch organization.

Group: Israel broke law by targeting media in Gaza
JERUSALEM (AP) — Human Rights Watch says Israeli army attacks on journalists and media facilities in the Gaza Strip during last month’s military operation violated the laws of war. Two Palestinian cameramen were killed and at least 10 media personnel were wounded in the offensive, which was launched after weeks of rocket attacks on Israel. The Israeli government says each of the targets was a legitimate military objective. A statement released Thursday by the New York-based rights group says it found no indications that these targets were valid military objectives. Sarah Leah Whitson, the Mideast director at HRW, says that “just because Israel says a journalist was a fighter or a TV station was a command center does not make it so.” The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the report. [Source]

As director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division and the person leveling these charges [full text here], Sarah Leah Whitson lays serious claim to the description about her on the HRW site: she’s a general expert on “Middle East and North Africa issues,” though – like the organization itself – she has not been free of controversy. (We will not dwell here on the serious allegations made against her; they are adequately detailed in her Wikipedia entry and in some trenchant, well-argued critiques published by NGO Monitor this week as well as in January 2012.)

For all the impressive human rights work it does, HRW has some exceedingly bitter critics. In a major and very critical op ed in the New York Times, Robert L. Bernstein, the man who created HRW, wrote this about the organization he brought into existence:

As the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state…  Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. [more]

Sarah Leah Whitson was HRW’s key Middle East person when Bernstein wrote those words.

Bernstein then proceeded in that 2009 essay to make some prophetic references to HRW allegations about Israel engaging in allegedly illegal forms of warfare:

Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism… [Yet] Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region… How does Human Rights Watch know that these laws have been violated? In Gaza and elsewhere where there is no access to the battlefield or to the military and political leaders who make strategic decisions, it is extremely difficult to make definitive judgments about war crimes… Significantly, Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and an expert on warfare, has said that the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

He ended his 2009 words with a warning to HRW that unless it returned to “its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it,” HRW’s “credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished.

Which brings us to December 2012 when news sources throughout the world seized on Ms Whitson’s well-formed words:

Just because Israel says a journalist was a fighter or a TV station was a command center does not make it so.

And also to the apt rejoinder offered by Anne Herzberg, legal adviser to the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor:

Just because HRW claims something is a war crime does not make it so.

We don’t claim to have the depth of experience of Ms. Whitson or HRW. But we do say our experience in losing a greatly-loved daughter to a bestial act of Islamist terror in 2001 has made us more sensitive than many people to nuances. We tend to pay attention to little-reported aspects of news events that somehow don’t get that much coverage or attention by the likes of HRW.

For instance, here’s a photo of a particular Arab journalist with a little-known back-story:

Portrait 1: Female reporter presents the Palestinian Authority evening news

The image in Portrait 1 is a screenshot taken from a video recording of a PA Television evening news report originating in PA TV’s Ramallah studios that went to air some years ago. The young woman, a reporter/presenter, was relatively new to the job at the time the picture was taken. Even so, she evidently showed journalistic promise because management in the Fatah/PLO television authority at the time assigned her to the role of presenting the evening news.

Now some speculation: what if this woman had been (let’s just imagine) intercepted by IDF soldiers or by an Israeli Border Guard patrol while she was peaceably en route to the nearby city of Jerusalem? We’re betting that Sarah Leah Whitson  and her HRW Irregulars would have screamed bloody murder at the temerity of the Israelis. The young woman is, after all, clearly a working journalist with all the privileges and protections that come with the job.

Portrait 2: A female journalist conducts a live interview
for a Hamas television program (2012)
Portrait 3: Same female journalist fronts a weekly TV show
on the Al-Quds satellite channel (2012)

The woman in Portraits 2 and 3 above is a regular on the Al-Quds television channel owned and operated by Hamas. Its shows are beamed throughout the world to wherever there are Arabic-speaking audiences interested in the distinctive programming they offer. It has a truly global footprint and a large influence among a very specific international audience.

The woman is the central figure in a weekly television program devoted to surveying issues of interest to one of the deprived underclasses in Palestinian society. On it, she interviews guests, demonstrates cooking recipes, and summarizes and interprets recent events. The fact that an entire program aired during peak evening hours (and on Friday nights, no less) is given over to a woman suggests the prominent role she has in the tele-journalism field.

Now some more speculation: imagine for a moment that this household-name TV personality decided to carry out some research in, say, East Jerusalem. And say that the Israeli authorities, for reasons best known to them, detained her on the way for questioning; that they refused to let her go because of some dusty old and forgotten breaches of the law allegedly committed a decade or so earlier. How long do we think it would take for the righteous indignation of Human Rights Watch to boil over and traverse the oceans? Or for their furious demands to be laid at the feet of the government of Israel insisting that the inherent rights of journalists and reporters – and international legal norms – be respected, forthwith?

So now we’re back in the real world. The name of the woman in all the photos above is Ahlam Tamimi.

Tamimi read the PA TV evening news on Thursday evening, August 9, 2001. That is when Portrait 1 was taken. She started the program with the lead news item of the day: a horrific news report about a human bomb who had exploded inside a central Jerusalem restaurant that afternoon, killing many people, most of them children, all of them Jews. Portrait 1 shows her reading the actual report on camera.

The slight smile of pleasure that can just be made out on her lips is probably no accident. She herselfpersonally, planned the bombing. She ensured with the other planners that the explosive material was adequate to the task. She accompanied the bomb (who was a newly-pious young man with a fully-loaded guitar case on his back) through the IDF military checkpoints and into Jerusalem by bus and taxi. She then walked with him through the streets of Israel’s bustling capital city until they reached the Sbarro restaurant where, fifteen minutes after she left him there (giving her time to safely escape to freedom), he exploded the deadly materials packed into that guitar case. He killed our teenage daughter Malki and fourteen other innocents. A sixteenth victim remains unconscious to this day.

Tamimi’s journalistic career resumed a year ago. Then, as part of a deal transacted between Israel and the Hamas regime in Gaza, she was released from prison far earlier than should have been the case (she had been sentenced to sixteen life terms with a strong recommendation by the judges that no reduction should ever be considered) and flew to the land of her birth, Jordan, and to complete and unfettered freedom. There she was hired by Hamas to become the presenter of a new weekly program called Breezes of the Free, focusing on the convicted terrorists, many of them murderers of Jewish children, still in Israeli prisons and their goals, hopes and plans.

Especially their plans.

Tamimi, now living free as a bird, newly-married and with a global platform for spreading her hateful, murderous views, is famously proud of the killings for which she was convicted in an Israeli court. She has no regrets; quite the opposite, and has said so as clearly as a person ever can. [Please read one of our numerous posts about this evil person: "17-Nov-11: A monster walks the streets and she has many accomplices"].

For these and other reasons, we wonder – when we read the words of HRW, and especially of Sarah Leah Whitson – whether such critics comprehend the nature of terrorism. Do they see how the people who fire the rockets at homes, schools and buses will use everything at their disposal – every possible thing, no limits – to carry out their satanic plans?

The notion that journalists ought to be treated in some privileged way by reason of the work they do – leaving them exempt from suspicion unless there is a compelling reason to think otherwise – is an interesting one. But we’re left to wonder whether at HRW they know or care how this works in a war carried out by terrorists and in accordance with the principles of Islamism.

Victims like our daughter suffered the permanent, irreparable violation by the terrorists of the most fundamental of their human rights - the right to live. Had the perpetrators (and that includes Tamimi) been stopped in time, or if they (and this includes Tamimi) were prevented from inciting others daily to do the same awful thing again in the future, lives would surely be saved.

If HRW’s recent condemnation fails to take that reality into account, then – in the words of their distinguished founder, Robert L. Bernstein –  they have lost their critical perspective and the role they claim is simply illegitimate and should be ignored.

Visit This Ongoing War.

The Hamas Terrorist Regime has a Criminal System and (Gasp) It’s Abusive

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Let the record show that a Human Rights Watch report on Hamas “justice” was issued Wednesday. It’s downloadable from the HRW site (here).

In its brief summary, entitled “Human Rights Watch reports on ‘severe’ Hamas abuse of Palestinians” (Associated Press, September 3, 2012), A.P. says that “Hamas’ security forces in Gaza are committing severe abuses, including torture of detainees, arrests without warrants, forced confessions, unfair trials and mock executions.”

Egypt’s Al-Ahram expands the list of Hamas abuses, adding arbitrary arrests, and failure to inform relatives of the whereabouts of detainees, arrest, abuse and torture of lawyers, using military courts to try civilians, and putting to death several prisoners after military trial verdicts though there was “credible evidence they had been tortured.”

In six hours, there have been similar reports in most of the major news channels, as you would expect: “Torture part of Gaza justice system” (Brisbane Times‎); “Gazans face ‘serious abuses’ in criminal justice system” (BBC World); “Hamas slammed over ‘torture, unfair trials (France 24) and so on. The embarrassing charges against the thuggish Hamas regime don’t seem to have been reported at all by any of the major online Iranian news services. Not ABNA, not FARS News Agency, not Islamic Republic News Agency, not Tehran Times. We’re open to readers’ suggestions as to why… but we’re not offering prizes.

Jordan Discriminates against Palestinians Fleeing Syria

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Human rights group claims that Jordan is discriminating against 140,000 Syrian refugees by forcing the return of new arrivals and threatening others with deportation.  The New York-based Human Rights Watch found that since April, Jordanian authorities have detained Palestinians for months with no possibility of release.  Others said that they or relatives had been deported or threatened with deportation.

Condition of Woman Jailed for Insulting Abbas on Facebook Deteriorating in Isolation

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports that the condition of Ismat Abdul Khaliq, the Palestinian woman who had been arrested over her critical writings about PA President Mahmoud Abbas, is deteriorating in an isolation cell in prison.

Abdul Khaliq was seen by doctors late Tuesday before being returned to her cell, said Nihad Abu Ghosh, a member of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. He said the prosecution is refusing to let her see visitors.

Prosecutors accuse Abdul Khaliq of writing a Facebook status update criticizing Abbas. She has been held since last week after a court extended her detention for 15 days, along with a newspaper reporter.

The arrest followed a complaint by the preventive security service, PA officials said.

Abdul Khaliq was one of two Palestinians arrested in a week for Facebook updates criticizing Abbas, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. Two news reporters have been detained during the same period.

Human Rights Watch called on the PA to “release Palestinians detained without charge for criticizing the PA on their Facebook pages.”

In a press release, Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch, called on both the Palestinian Authority and Israel to stop harassing and arresting journalists. “These attacks send a chilling message about exercising the right to free expression,” Whitson wrote.

In an even handed rebuke of both Israel and the PA, the Human Rights Watch release continued:

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) should not criminally prosecute Yusuf al-Shayeb, a journalist detained without charge on March 26, 2012, and released on April 2, Human Rights Watch said today. He is being investigated for libeling PA officials whom he accused of spying and corruption. The PA should also release Palestinians detained without charge for criticizing the PA on their Facebook pages.

“Israeli authorities should not prosecute Adel Rweished, an administrator at Al Quds University whom Israeli police detained on April 2, 2012 during a raid on the university’s media center in Jerusalem’s old city. Police broke up an event marking the launch of a new website, and also arrested a security guard. They released both men but summoned them for further questioning. The arrests were based on an Israeli order stating that the Palestinian Authority had organized the event, but Israeli officials provided no evidence to support that claim, which university officials denied. Israel does not allow the Palestinian Authority to operate politically in Jerusalem. It was the second Israeli raid on media programs at Al Quds University since February 29.”

Human Rights Watch Urges West to Accepts Islamists’ Political Gains; Condemns Israel

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its annual report that Western governments must accept the new reality that Islamists have emerged as a political force in the Arab world.

Being that Islamist parties are “genuinely popular” said HRW’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, “ignoring that popularity would violate democratic principles.”

In another section of the report, HRW accuses Israel of “serious human rights violations” in using “unnecessary lethal force” and “hindering the rebuilding of Gaza’s devastated economy.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/human-rights-watch-urges-west-to-accepts-islamists-political-gains-condemns-israel/2012/01/23/

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