Sexual Violence: Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia.

What can be done to stop sexual violence against women in ‪Iraq‬ and ‪‎Syria‬?

This morning, I had the privilege of joining experts on a panel hosted by the American Red Cross, Physicians for Human Rights, and other key groups.

We focused on Iraq and Syria, and I also got into issues affecting women in ‪Saudi Arabia‬, ‪Qatar‬, and ‪North Africa‬.

Panel - 2014-11-06 - Sexual violence - Iraq and Syria - American Red Cross

Repressive U.S. allies in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the battle against “Islamic State”

On Thursday, I spoke with CCTV America about Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other repressive governments reported to be supporting U.S. actions against the armed group calling itself “Islamic State.”

Click to watch.

Interview - CCTV - 2014-09-25 - US allies and ISIS

What Nicholas Kristof Didn’t Mention

Nicholas Kristof criticizes both leaders of Israel and Hamas in his latest column for The New York Times. If you decide to read it, keep in mind the following two oversights and errors.

First, there’s one word he doesn’t use: occupation. Since 1967, *every* Israeli government has taken Palestinian land and built settlements. This isn’t just an action by conservative or “right wing” Israeli governments. Israeli settlement construction — and the brutality towards Palestinians involved — has been supported by both Labor and Likud parties.

Second, Mr. Kristof ignores the history of nonviolent campaigns by Palestinians that Israeli security forces have brutally repressed in the occupied West Bank. Get this: Under Israeli Military Order 101, it is illegal for Palestinians to peacefully protest the Israeli military occupation without an Israeli military commander’s permission.

The many indiscriminate rockets fired by Hamas into Israel are war crimes. The same is likely to be true for many Israeli attacks in Gaza. Gaza civilians are now reeling under the latest Israeli invasion and the seven years of an ongoing Israeli blockade. But American readers of The New York Times need to know that over the decades of US-armed Israeli occupation, there are other details to this sad story that should have been mentioned in Kristof’s latest piece.

CCTV Interview: Israel, Hamas, and Gaza

I spoke with CCTV News Anchor Susan Roberts about Israel, Hamas, and Gaza yesterday evening.  CCTV is a global Chinese network.

You can watch the full interview here.

CCTV interview of Sunjeev Bery regarding Israel, Hamas, and Gaza Blockade.

CCTV interview of Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA

 

Quoted: Minneapolis Star Tribune Editorial — “Rethink approach to repressive Egypt”

Rethink approach to repressive Egypt

Editorial Board, Star Tribune, June 24, 2014

‘Sham’ conviction of journalists just the latest human rights slide.

The unjustified conviction of three Al Jazeera journalists on charges of conspiring with the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is a miscarriage of justice. It’s also a symptom of a broader, brutal repression of post-coup dissent in the country.

Several Western nations, human rights organizations and everyday citizens already have protested the prosecution, which may be a manifestation of Egypt’s hostility toward Qatar, where Al Jazeera is based. Pressure should be kept on Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, the former general who just became president in a sketchy election, to free the journalists and to respect international human rights standards. Already el-Sissi appears to be as oppressive as Hosni Mubarak, the last military man to rule Egypt.

The three journalists — Egyptian Baher Mohamed, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste — were held in a courtroom cage and convicted in a trial that Amnesty International called a “complete sham.” The three men are widely respected by their peers, and their collective reporting resumes include work for CNN, the New York Times and the BBC. They were simply doing their jobs, and now Greste and Fahmy face seven years in prison, while Mohamed, who had kept a spent bullet casing from one of the protests as a souvenir, faces 10 years in an Egyptian jail. Several students were also convicted in the Orwellian trial, and other journalists were convicted in absentia.

Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and other organizations say there is no evidence to suggest that the three had links to the Muslim Brotherhood or that they reported anything but the truth about Egypt’s turmoil.

Instead, this appears to be a clear attempt to silence them and to intimidate other journalists from exposing, let alone challenging, el-Sissi’s autocracy.

“In the last year, there have been a number of attacks on journalists and media institutions by Egyptian authorities in an effort to silence critics,” said Sunjeev Bery, Middle East and North Africa advocacy director for Amnesty International USA. “It’s all part of a larger crackdown on human rights and basic freedoms across Egyptian society.”

Continue reading

Iraq’s Crisis: 3 Quick Points for U.S. Policymakers

As the latest crisis in Iraq unfolds, here are three basic points for U.S. policymakers to keep in mind:

  1. The protection of civilians must be a top priority in Mosul and in every Iraqi community facing armed conflict.
  2. The Iraqi central government has an abysmal human rights record that has left communities scarred. Government human rights violations have widely been seen as a significant factor in widespread popular discontent.
  3. The U.S. government must push the Iraqi central government to make significant human rights reforms in order to address long-term public discontent and instability.

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500,000 civilians are reported to have fled Mosul following its takeover by one or more armed groups that include those belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). This follows the reported displacement of close to half a million Iraqis in Fallujah since January, following ISIS’ expulsion of Iraqi security forces there.

ISIS armed groups, Iraqi security forces, and other potential armed groups must avoid repeating the violence against civilians that took place in Fallujah. Iraqi government forces have used indiscriminate shelling in Fallujah in the past six months, including on hospitals and in residential areas. There have been over 5,000 civilian deaths.

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  • The Iraqi central government has an abysmal human rights record that has left communities scarred. Government human rights violations have widely been seen as a significant factor in widespread popular discontent.

Thousands of detainees languish in prison without charge. Many of those who are brought to trial are sentenced to long prison terms or to death after unfair proceedings. In many cases, convictions are based on “confessions” extracted under torture.

Iraq remains one of the world’s most prolific executioners with at least 169 executed in 2013. As with prison terms, death sentences can also follow “confessions” extracted under torture. In many cases, such “confessions” are televised nationally.

Torture and other ill-treatment inside prisons and detention centers is rife and routinely goes unpunished.

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  • To ensure stability in Iraq, the U.S. government must address popular discontent by pushing the Iraqi central government to make significant human rights reforms.

Iraq’s long-term human rights crisis can no longer be viewed by the U.S. and other external governments as “Iraq’s problem” or an internal matter. To ensure security and safety in Iraq, widespread popular discontent must be addressed by pushing the Iraqi central government to end its terrible human rights record.

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