Chelsea Manning libera!



Il rilascio, lungamente dovuto, di Chelsea Manning da una prigione militare degli Usa pone finalmente termine alla punizione che le era stata inflitta per aver reso pubbliche informazioni riservate, riguardanti anche possibili crimini di guerra commessi dalle forze armate statunitensi.

“Il trattamento inflitto a Chelsea Manning è reso particolarmente insopportabile dal fatto che nessuno è stato chiamato a rispondere dei presunti crimini che lei ha portato alla luce. Oggi celebriamo la sua libertà, ma continueremo a chiedere un’indagine indipendente sulle possibili violazioni dei diritti umani da lei denunciate e l’adozione di misure protettive in modo che altri come lei non siano sottoposti a quel trattamento agghiacciante”, ha affermato in una nota stampa Margaret Huang, direttrice generale di Amnesty International Usa.

Una grande campagna internazionale per il rilascio di Chelsea Manning è stata avviata sin dal 2013, quando era stata condannata a 35 anni di carcere, un periodo di tempo più lungo di quello riservato ai militari condannati per omicidio, stupro e crimini di guerra. In aggiunta a questo, Chelsea Manning era stata tenuta per 11 mesi in detenzione preventiva, in condizioni giudicate dal Relatore speciale ONU sulla tortura un “trattamento crudele, inumano e degradante”. Era poi stata posta in isolamento per aver tentato il suicidio e le erano state negate le cure appropriate relative alla sua transizione di genere. Poco prima di lasciare la Casa Bianca, l’ex presidente Obama aveva commutato la condanna, annunciando che la Manning sarebbe stata rilasciata nei mesi successivi.

“Il rilascio di Chelsea Manning mostra una volta di più che il potere delle persone può trionfare sull’ingiustizia: un messaggio che deve ispirare i tanti coraggiosi difensori dei diritti umani nel mondo”, ha concluso Margaret Huang nella sua nota stampa.


Russia vs. human rights groups. The “Foreign Agent” law

Vladimir Putin

For the past four years, the Kremlin has sought to stigmatize criticism or alternative views of government policy as disloyal, foreign-sponsored, or even traitorous.  It is part of a sweeping crackdown to silence critical voices that has included new legal restrictions on the internet, on freedom of expression, on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and on other fundamental freedoms.

An enduring, central feature has been the 2012 law requiring independent groups to register as “foreign agents” if they receive any foreign funding and engage in broadly defined “political activity.” In Russia, the term “foreign agent” can be interpreted by the public only as “spy” or “traitor.” To date, Russia’s Justice Ministry has designated 158 groups as “foreign agents,” courts have levied staggering fines on many groups for failing to comply with the law, and about 30 groups have shut down rather than wear the “foreign agent” label.
Organizations targeted  include groups that work on human rights, the environment, LGBT issues, and health issues,  groups that do polling about social issues. A court forced the closure of AGORA Association, one of Russia’s leading human rights organizations, in response to a  Justice Ministry suit alleging that the group violated the “foreign agents” law and carried out work beyond its mandate.
The ministry has removed its “foreign agent” tag from over 20 groups, acknowledging that they had stopped accepting foreign funding. Accordingly, as of March 17, 2017, the official list of active “foreign agents” consisted of  100 groups.
The ‘Foreign Agent’ Law
Under the 2012 law, groups must register with the Justice Ministry as “foreign agents” if they receive even a minimal  amount of  funding from any foreign sources, governmental or private, and engage in “political activity.” The definition of political activity under the law is so broad and vague that it effectively extends to all aspects of advocacy and human rights work. Initially, the law required all  nongovernmental organizations that met these criteria  to register with  the ministry and to identify themselves as “foreign agents” in all their public materials, with  legal consequences for failure to comply.
Russia’s human rights groups resolutely boycotted the law, calling it “unjust” and “slanderous.” In 2013, Russia’s then-federal ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, challenged the law in Russia’s Constitutional Court. In 2014, the court upheld the law, finding that there were no legal or constitutional grounds for contending that the term “foreign agent” had negative connotations from the Soviet era and that, therefore, its use was “not intended to persecute or discredit” organizations. The court also found that the “foreign agent” designation was in line with the public interest and the interest of state sovereignty.
Two years of mounting pressure by the authorities, court proceedings, and massive fines did not succeed in forcing groups to voluntarily register as foreign agents.  In May 2014 Russia’s parliament amended the “foreign agents” law to authorize the Justice Ministry to register groups as “foreign agents” without their consent.
In May 2016, parliament adopted another set of amendments to the law, expanding the controversial definition of “political activity” to include, among other things, any attempt by an independent group to influence public policy, regardless of the group’s mandate.

Egypt: police video suggests Sinai raid was staged

Egyptian internal security forces waging a campaign in the Sinai Peninsula against an affiliate of the Islamic State may have extrajudicially executed at least four and perhaps as many as 10 men in January 2017. The security forces may have arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared the men and then staged a counterterrorism raid to cover up the killings.

A Human Rights Watch investigation relying on multiple sources of evidence including documents, interviews with relatives, and an edited video of the purported raid made public by the authorities, suggests that police arrested at least some of the men months before the alleged gunfight at a house in North Sinai and that the raid itself was staged.

Iraqi troops using indiscriminate weapons in fight against ISIS


Worrying evidence is emerging that fighting against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in west Mosul is dirtier and deadlier to civilians than the fight to retake the city’s eastern part.

A citizen journalist posted photos and video of Iraq’s emergency response division, a special police unit, firing inaccurate rockets into west Mosul on February 17. These weapons are commonly known as improvised rocket-assisted munitions (IRAM) and they are inherently indiscriminate.

Witnesses suggests these weapons are being used repeatedly. Federal Police were stationed next to at least three IRAM launchers aimed toward Mosul from the nearby village of Albu Saif on March 7. The BBC ran footage of the emergency response division firing the weapon from a densely populated neighbourhood Mosul’s Old City on March 11. On March 14, Federal Police drove two vehicles mounted with IRAM into Tayaran, a neighborhood south of the Old City.

It is not yet clear whether these munitions have killed civilians. But their indiscriminate nature makes their use in populated civilian areas a serious violation of the laws of war, and may even amount to a war crime.

Iraq’s government isn’t trying to hide these weapons; a federal police spokesperson confirmed their use in Mosul.

Previously, the Iraqi government commmitted to not use heavy artillery inside Mosul. According to Iraqi commanders from other forces on the frontline, this commitment was set aside by the Ministry of Interior forces, the emergency response division and Federal Police. A general from Iraq’s counterterrorism forces told the Washington Post that these troops’ “method was shelling each neighborhood with artillery and rockets consistently and then attacking with Humvees. They are acting with recklessness and madness.”

Another officer, speaking anonymously to an international observer, said, unprompted, that the Federal Police’s use of artillery was “excessive”.

Frontline healthcare workers said that they are deeply concerned about the safety of civilians. Since the operation to retake west Mosul launched on February 18, over 857 people have been treated at makeshift trauma centers, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

While ISIS continues to perpetrate horrific abuses, including war crimes, in east Mosul, Iraqi and coalition forces showed that they could push ISIS back without relying on the use of unlawful weapons. For the protection of civilians still in the clutches of ISIS, armed forces should refrain from their use in the west.

Uganda: civilians killed in military raid

Killings by Ugandan military and police during joint operations in Kasese, western Uganda on November 26-27, 2016, warrant an independent, impartial fact-finding mission with international expertise. On the bloodiest day, scores of people, including children, were killed during a military assault on the palace compound of the region’s cultural institution. Police spokespeople reported the death toll over the two days as 87, including 16 police. Human Rights Watch found the actual number to be much higher – at least 55 people, including at least 14 police, killed on November 26, and more than 100, including at least 15 children, during the attack on the palace compound on November 27.

Click HERE to read the complete Human Rights Watch report.




Guerra in Siria al sesto anno, l’ONU: “E’ il peggior disastro dal 1945”


Il conflitto in Siria entra nel suo settimo anno. E porta con sé con un carico di morte e distruzione da spingere l’ONU a definirlo “il peggior disastro causato dall’uomo dalla Seconda guerra mondiale”. Non si apre così sotto i migliori auspici il terzo round dei colloqui organizzati dalla Russia in Kazakistan e a cui sono invitati, tra gli altri, membri delle opposizioni e del governo di Damasco.

Da Bruxelles, l’Alto Rappresentante UE per la politica estera e la sicurezza, Federica Mogherini, ha presentato un documento sull’azione politica e umanitaria dell’Unione per affrontare la questione siriana. Secondo Mogherini, la Siria ha bisogno di una pace sponsorizzata dagli attori internazionali e regionali. “Questo consentirà alla Siria di ricominciare con una sorta di transizione politica”, ha detto Mogherini.

La conferenza di Astana, sostenuta sia dall’UE che dall’ONU, è indetta dalla Russia con il benestare della Turchia e dell’Iran. Anche la Giordania, che ha influenza nel sud della Siria, è seduta al tavolo in Kazakistan, mentre gli Stati Uniti sono invitati come osservatori.

L’obiettivo principale della conferenza di Astana è quello di rafforzare il sistema di tregua in vigore dalla fine di dicembre scorso, seguito alla vittoria del fronte russo-iraniano-governativo su quello delle opposizioni, sostenute da Turchia e Arabia Saudita.

L’assenza delle opposizioni ad Astana, affermano media panarabi, è dovuta al fatto che lo schieramento anti-Damasco non vuole accettare che il regime e i suoi alleati impongano decisioni politiche sulla base della loro superiorità militare.

Dalla tregua del 30 dicembre sono esclusi i gruppi “terroristici”, come ISIS e l’ala qaidista siriana. Intanto da Ginevra, la Commissione d’inchiesta indipendente incaricata dall’ONU di far luce sui crimini di guerra commessi in Siria ha affermato che l’aviazione del governo siriano ha deliberatamente bombardato, lo scorso ottobre, un complesso scolastico nella regione nord-occidentale di Idlib, in una zona fuori dal controllo governativo, uccidendo 21 bambini. La stessa commissione ha anche documentato il bombardamento deliberato da parte del governo della principale stazione idrica di Damasco lo scorso dicembre, causando l’interruzione dell’erogazione dell’acqua a più di 5 milioni di persone. Media governativi avevano invece accusato “terroristi” di aver avvelenato l’acqua, ma la Commissione ONU ha smentito la circostanza. Sempre sul fronte delle violazioni dei diritti umani, l’Alto Commissario delle Nazioni Unite per i diritti umani, Zeid Raad al Hussein, ha affermato che la Siria è oggi un’immensa “camera di tortura: un luogo di terrore feroce e di ingiustizia assoluta”. Per l’Alto Commissario “è molto probabile che decine di migliaia di persone siano attualmente detenute”. Il conflitto in Siria, ha aggiunto al Hussein, è “il peggior disastro causato dall’uomo dalla Seconda guerra mondiale”.

Clicca QUI per leggere il rapporto aggiornato di Amnesty International sulla situazione in Siria.

Duterte’s “war on drugs” continues

Philippine police are falsifying evidence to justify unlawful killings in a “war on drugs” that has caused more than 7,000 deaths. President Rodrigo Duterte and other senior officials have instigated and incited killings of mostly urban poor in a campaign that could amount to crimes against humanity.

Click HERE to read the Human Rights Watch report “License to kill”.