Thursday, August 31, 2006

UN passes resolution on Darfur

A resolution adopted today by the United Nations Security Council would deploy U.N. troops to Darfur as a first step toward protecting civilians, but ongoing Sudanese government military operations in the region highlight the urgent need to secure Khartoum’s immediate consent for an U.N. force.

Today’s resolution, co-sponsored by the United States and Britain, permits a U.N. force to use all necessary means to protect civilians in Darfur and calls for a gradual transition from the under-funded and under-equipped African Union (AU) mission in Darfur, which has been unable to prevent widespread abuses against civilians, to a robust U.N. protection force. But the plan to deploy as many as 17,500 U.N. troops and as many as 3,300 civilian police is contingent on consent by the government of Sudan, which has categorically rejected calls for U.N. forces in Darfur.

Russia, a major supplier of weapons to Sudan, and China, a major consumer of Sudanese oil, both abstained in today’s vote on the resolution, which sends an extremely unhelpful signal about their lack of willingness to press Khartoum to accept U.N. troops.

After weeks of military buildups in Darfur’s three provincial capitals, Khartoum launched offensive military operations on August 28, with Sudanese troops attacking rebel-controlled villages in North Darfur and government aircraft bombarding Kulkul, north of the provincial capital El Fashir. International observers in North Darfur reported that civilians attempting to flee the attacks in Kulkul were turned back by Sudanese government troops.

The government offensive comes less than a month after Sudan circulated a proposal to send more than 10,500 troops into Darfur, in direct violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement signed in May with a Darfur rebel movement. Although the planned troop movements violated the peace agreement, the Security Council failed to condemn the Sudanese proposal, and took no action.

The U.N. reports that violence in Darfur is worse than ever despite the Darfur Peace Agreement, leading to the forcible displacement of 21,000 people since July in the state of North Darfur alone. Humanitarian access in Darfur is at its lowest level since 2004, with almost 500,000 needy civilians beyond the reach of humanitarian aid.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Guinea security force attrocities

Guinean police and security forces routinely rob, assault, torture, and even murder Guinean citizens according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

Guinea is undergoing economic turmoil and impending political transition, and there is no control over the security forces.

Police brutally torture men and boys held in police custody. The victims are individuals suspected of common crimes as well as those perceived to be government opponents. Once transferred from police custody to prison, many are left to languish for years awaiting trial in cramped, dimly lit cells where they face hunger, disease and sometimes death.

Human Rights Watch called on the Guinean government to immediately investigate and bring to justice those responsible for crimes committed by state security forces during the June 2006 nationwide strike, as well as those responsible for torture and ill-treatment of individuals in police custody.

Human Rights Watch also recommended that international donors such as France, the United States and the European Union call publicly and privately on the Guinean government to investigate and, where applicable, punish those responsible for the abuses. International donors should also support efforts by local nongovernmental organizations to increase their ability to monitor and document violations by security forces.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ramsey Case Spotlights Child Sex Trade

The big story of the week has been the arrest of John Mark Karr, a 42-year-old American, in connection with the killing of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey.

Karr was arrested in Bangkok on unrelated sex charges.

In countries such as Thailand, child sexual exploitation builds on a long-standing and vast prostitution industry, and thrives where law enforcement is weak or corrupt. That sex with young teens is not a strong taboo in some Asian cultures makes fighting the problem even more difficult.

In Cambodia, There are about 33,000 child sex workers, according to UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency. The U.S. State Department has listed Cambodia as among the world's worst nations at adequately addressing human trafficking problems, including the trade of child sex workers.

Just two months ago a Los Angeles man was deported from Thailand May after completing one-year prison sentence for molesting 15-year-old and 16-year-old boys. According to a U.S. criminal complaint, he told authorities he often paid Thai children the equivalent of $5 for two hours of sexual contact.

It appears that the killer in the Ramsey case was finally apprehended after being lured into the Asian sex trade.

Darfur Scorecard

See how your senators and congressmen score in their support of legislation to end the suffering in Darfur.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Israel/Lebanon: Indiscriminant strikes on civilians

A report by Human Rights Watch documents a systematic failure by Israelis to distinguish between combatants and civilians in their military campaign against Hezbollah. The pattern of attacks in more than 20 cases investigated by Human Rights Watch researchers in Lebanon indicates that the failures cannot be dismissed as mere accidents and cannot be blamed on wrongful Hezbollah practices. In some cases, these attacks constitute war crimes.

The pattern of attacks shows the Israeli military’s disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians. Our research shows that Israel’s claim that Hezbollah fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel’s indiscriminate warfare.

"Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon,” analyzes almost two dozen cases of Israeli air and artillery attacks on civilian homes and vehicles. Of the 153 dead civilians named in the report, 63 are children. More than 500 people have been killed in Lebanon by Israeli fire since fighting began on July 12, most of them civilians.

“The pattern of attacks shows the Israeli military’s disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Our research shows that Israel’s claim that Hezbollah fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel’s indiscriminate warfare.”

In previous reporting, Human Rights Watch has addressed the conduct of Hezbollah forces, condemning its attacks on civilian areas as serious violations of international humanitarian law amounting to war crimes. Human Rights Watch has called on the governments of Syria and Iran to use their influence on Hezbollah to promote respect for the laws of war. In this report, it urges Hezbollah to take all feasible steps to avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas and to remove civilian persons and objects under its control from the vicinity of military objectives.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Code Pink hunger strike gains notice

After 28 days of fasting, anti-war hunger strikers received a breakthrough victory for their sacrifice: Leading members of the Iraqi Parliament invited fasters to join them to discuss their plans for peace in Iraq. On Wednesday, August 2, hunger strikers will travel to Amman, Jordan to meet with these Iraqi MPs and break their fast.

The delegation includes: Peace mom Cindy Sheehan, Retired Colonel Ann Wright, Iraq war veteran Geoffrey Millard, Politician/Writer Tom Hayden, and CODEPINK co-founders Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, Gael Murphy and Diane Wilson. Click here for the full list of delegates and their bios.

The invitation from the Iraqi MPs comes after fasters were rebuffed in numerous attempts to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during his visit to Washington last week, including setting up "Camp Al-Maliki" across from the Iraqi Embassy and publishing an open letter to him in one of the largest Iraqi newspapers. Faster and CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin was arrested for disrupting al-Maliki’s address to Congress last Wednesday, saying loudly and repeatedly, “Iraqis want the troops to leave, bring them home now!” The parliamentarians, who expressed concern for fasters’ health and dismay at the Prime Minister’s dismissal of their repeated requests for a meeting, will travel to meet with the US delegation in Jordan on August 3. The Iraqi elected officials will brief the Americans on the Reconciliation Plan they have been working on at the Reconciliation Conference held in Cairo last week. With the increased violence between Israel and Lebanon, a part of the U.S. delegation will go on to Syria and Lebanon to bear witness to the suffering of innocent victims of war in the region.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sindhi Protest in DC

The World Sindhi Institute
August 2, 2006
Press Release

WSI Protest Rally Scheduled
Rally to occur August 14 outside the Pakistani Embassy

Washington, DC—On August 14, the World Sindhi Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes human rights in the Sindh province of Pakistan through non-violent means, is sponsoring a protest rally at 11 a.m. outside the Pakistani embassy in Washington, DC.

The Pakistani government continues to abuse its power within Pakistan. At least three members of the press have been killed since January 2006: Munir Sangi, Mukesh Rotena, and Sunjay Kumar, and death threats have been made against journalists Sarmad Kanrani and Mubarak Bhatti. Since January 2006, at least three members of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) have been abducted, including Dr. Safdar Sarki, Asif Baladi, and Aakash Malah. Women and girls continue to be subjected to the practice of Karo-Kari, harassment, marriage while minors, and arrest. Couples continue to be arrested under the “draconian Islamic Hudood Laws.” In May 2006, the human rights commission of Pakistan observed that Pakistani “intelligence” agencies have been involved in the kidnapping of nationalist leaders and students from the Sindh and Baloch provinces, with more than 57 people reported missing due to these abductions. In Time, “Pakistan’s Other War” details the use of military equipment provided by
the United States government in the suppression of the Baloch. The extent of A.Q. Khan’s nuclear program and the possible sale of nuclear technology to countries, like Iran, Libya, and North Korea, remains to be disclosed.

The World Sindhi Institute has organized this event to protest the ban on freedom of _expression, the persecution of journalists, continued tortures, denial of women’s rights, the Hudood Ordinances, the lack of democracy, the disappearances of Sindhis and Baloch, and the issue of nuclear proliferation.”

“Only when these issues are resolved,” says Munawar Laghari, Executive Director of the World Sindhi Institute, “may Pakistan be considered a fully functioning democracy.”

For more information, please contact Caprill Hacker or Yelena Rubanovich at 202-223-1777 or via e-mail at You may also visit for more information.

Through nonviolent means, The World Sindhi Institute works relentlessly for universal human rights and humanitarian law for the Sindhis of Sindh, in southeastern Pakistan.