Archive for November, 2011


Millions of Yemenis Facing Severe Humanitarian Crisis

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva – Millions of people in Yemen are facing a severe humanitarian crisis, chronic deprivation, malnutrition and violence, the UN reports.

Photo credit: UN

The UN warned on Nov. 29 that the situation is likely to deteriorate over the next year despite the recent accord to restore peace and stability. We are seeing chronic deprivation made worse by continuing violence, with some of the world’s highest malnutrition rates, a breakdown of essential services and a looming health crisis,” Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg said after a four-day visit.


You Choose: $105 Billion a Year for Health Care or Nuclear Weapons?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Tim Wright* – IPPNW 

In 2011 the nine nuclear-armed nations will spend an estimated US$105 billion maintaining and modernizing their nuclear weapons, despite the International Court of Justice having declared it illegal to use and threaten to use such weapons.

**Photo credit: ICAN Australia

This expenditure—up from $91 billion in 2010—casts serious doubt on the sincerity of leaders’ pledges to work for a world free from nuclear arms, suggesting instead a commitment to retain such weapons indefinitely.

Beyond the pro-disarmament rhetoric of the nuclear-armed states is the disturbing reality of a massive effort to bolster the world’s nuclear forces, the consequences of which are potentially catastrophic.


‘Syrian Forces Have Committed Crimes against Humanity’

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva – Syria’s military and security forces have committed crimes against humanity during their crackdown on protesters, a United Nations-appointed probe said, urging the government to immediately end “gross” human rights violations and bring perpetrators to justice.

Credit: UN

In August, the UN Human Rights Council established the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in the country since March, when the pro-democracy protests began.

Syria is “responsible for wrongful acts, including crimes against humanity, committed by members of its military and security forces as documented in the present report,” states the report, which was presented on Nov. 28 in Geneva by the three-member commission.

The 39-page report documents patterns of summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, including sexual violence, as well as violations of children’s rights.


The Arab Revolt – What Next?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Johan Galtung* – TRANSCEND

It changes character, like in quantum mechanics, just by watching. The French revolution did that in the late 1780s-early 1790s. However, spring is gone, revolt is in, but so far not revolution. There are layers of rulers and layers of opposition. Unveiling has started.

**Tahrir Square, Cairo – Photo credit: Lilian Wagdy | Wikimedia Commons

If seeds from a winter suicide in Tunisia sprouted buds in early spring, then they must have fallen on fertile soil. Events turn into processes when “stability” is unstable, as huge power and wealth gaps are.

The trick in the US is to make a person believe in individual mobility; “if you don’t make it that is your fault”.

Others see it as a relation: by taking power/wealth from us, they became powerful and rich and we remained powerless and poor. The former is individualist and person-oriented, the latter collectivist and system-oriented. See it that way and revolts follow, like Tahrir Square, like Wall Street. Nevertheless, some resources are needed.


Of Vulture Funds and How to Blackmail the Countries Chosen as Preys

Human Wrongs Watch

By Raúl de Sagastizabal* – PoliticaPress

Montevideo – In 2002, Anne Krueger, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), floated the idea that countries can go bust, advanced her opinion about a possible international mechanism of sovereign debt restructuring, and when considering the obstacles to an orderly debt restructuring, explicitly mentioned the behaviour of vulture funds in the following terms:

Photo: Magnus Kjaergaard** | Wikimedia Commons

Another obstacle to orderly restructuring has been the growing threat of legal action […] A second reason is that litigants have recently overcome one of traditional barriers to suing debtor governments, namely the difficulty of locating and seizing their assets.

In one recent case, for example, a “vulture fund” in effect held Peru to ransom by persuading courts in the US and Europe to prevent it servicing its debts to other creditors. It is not clear whether this technique would survive legal challenge in future cases, but it only goes to highlight a more general problem.

That “vulture fund” which held Peru to ransom, is the same fund that now pursues and holds Argentina to ransom.


U.S. Africa Command, a Tool to Re-colonise Continent

Human Wrongs Watch

By Dr. Motsoko Pheko* – Pambazuka News 

The USA Africa Command, which America calls ‘Africom’, is a military structure of the Defence Department of America. Africom was formed in 2007 during President George W Bush’s second term of office.

West Point Cadets in Uganda - Photo credit**

That was two months after America had bombed a small African country, Somalia, destabilising it to the ashes it is today and to the danger it now poses to Africa and international trade.

The coast of Somalia is infested with sea piracy and kidnappings. This is as a result of the earlier American invasion of Somalia, in pursuit of its illegitimate economic interests in Africa.


Nigeria: Mass Lead Poisoning from Mining Activities

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva – At least 43 villages in Nigeria continue to present cases of lead poisoning, 18 months ago after cases were first discovered in the region, the United Nations reported, calling for an increase in preventive measures in the African country.

Mining gold | Credit: UN

Lead poisoning damages the nervous system and causes brain and blood disorders. 

Its treatment is time-consuming and expensive as it involves undergoing long-term therapy with chelating agents, which remove heavy metals from the body.

The World Health Organization (WHO) called for Nigerian authorities to increase their commitment to combat lead poisoning by strengthening its capacity to diagnose, treat and manage it, as well as ensuring that all areas have been de-contaminated.


Syria: The Story of Water Bottles & Roses

Human Wrongs Watch

By Mohja Kahf* – Pressenza

Damascus – A town of about 200,000 Daraya is notable mainly for its grapes — and, truth be told, for its lack of social diversity. If Damascus is too full of people of different faiths, military sorts, and Baathist Party members, you beat a retreat to Daraya, where a calm coexistence has traditionally existed among only Christian Arabs, and the town’s majority: Sunni Arab Muslims.

Image by: Mohja Kahf Water bottles tied to roses & notes, distributed by Daraya protesters

Since March 2011, however, Daraya has been on the map of the Syrian uprising because of its nonviolence activists. Concerted study of nonviolence began over a decade ago in this suburb of Damascus.

Today, the nonviolent youth of Daraya has taken a lead role in organizing the town’s protests. How has this quiet suburb become an epicenter for nonviolent values in this uprising?


Syria: Massive Human Rights Violations, Torture of Children

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva – A UN Committee voiced “deep concern about massive human rights violations in Syria, including the reported torture of children, as the government’s violent crackdown against protesters continues.”

Syrian women protesting | Credit: UN

The UN Committee against Torture, during its 47th session in Geneva, has reviewed “numerous, consistent and substantiated” reports and information about widespread rights violations in the country, it stated in a news release on Nov. 25.

The violations include cases of torture and ill-treatment of detainees; rife or systematic attacks against civilian population, including the killing of peaceful demonstrators and the use of excessive of force against them; and the persecutions of human rights defenders and activists.”


Of Dr. Strangelove and the Risk of Using Atomic Bombs

Human Wrongs Watch

By Ramesh Jaura* – IDN-InDepth News

Berlin – In a situation reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’, none of the nuclear weapon states is actively contemplating a future without nukes. On the contrary, the potential for using dreadful atomic arsenal is growing, says a new report.

Picture credit**

Pointing to some rather disquieting trends worldwide, the paper says: “Although the New START treaty  between the United States and Russia (which entered into force on February 5, 2011) arguably represents the most significant arms control advance in two decades, the Treaty contains significant gaps that mean it will not necessarily lead to significant reductions in the number of nuclear weapons held by both parties.”

“Whatever the current global rhetoric about nuclear disarmament from the nuclear armed states, in the absence of any further major disarmament or arms control breakthroughs, the evidence points to a new era of nuclear weapons modernisation and growth,” cautions Ian Kearns, author of the report.

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