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World news with a focus on human rights, humanitarian and pro-democracy issues.
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353 injured in protests near Israeli embassy - Al Masry Al Youm

Nearly 353 people were injured as Egyptian security forces held back hundreds of protesters who attempted to enter a street leading to the Israeli embassy in Cairo, the Ministry of Health said on Monday.

Meanwhile, security sources said the police and military managed to drive hundreds away from the embassy on Monday morning after the violent clashes.

The sources added that police used tear gas and rubber bullets against the demonstrators, who responded with stones, trying to regain their position to continue their sit-in outside the embassy.

Clashes lasted for several hours before police arrested about 50 people.

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Severe atrocities on farmers in UP, Rahul tells PM - Hindustan Times

Severe atrocities on farmers in UP, Rahul tells PM - Hindustan Times | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, along with a delegation of farmers from Bhatta Parsaul village in Greater Noida, today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the controversial land acquisition and alleged atrocities committed by the Uttar Pradesh government. "The farmers wanted to meet the prime minister and I facilitated it. People are being killed, women raped, I am quite concerned about the situation and it is still pretty bad," Gandhi told reporters outside the Prime Minister's Residence at 7 Race Course Road in New Delhi.

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Behind the veil: Women in Turkey - The Economist

Behind the veil: Women in Turkey - The Economist | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
Women's influence in politics is growing, but it is still small

THIS week in Istanbul 13 European countries signed a Council of Europe convention on combating violence against women. All 47 members were urged to comply. Turkey pushed hard for the convention, which calls for hotlines, shelters and legal aid for abused women.

So it should. Turkey ranks with Russia as one of the worst countries in Europe for abuse of women. By the government’s admission, five women a day were killed by abusers in the first seven months of 2009. A chilling new report from Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, suggests that the situation is getting worse. It finds that 42% of women over 15 have suffered physical or sexual violence; they are vulnerable even when pregnant. Asli, a 21-year old Kurdish woman, was injected with poison, beaten and raped by her husband and in-laws, and locked in a barn without food or water. She decided to seek help from local prosecutors after her father-in-law burned her arm and declared that “I didn’t just get you here for my son, but also for my pleasure.” But the prosecutors never contacted her, and she now fears for her life. Asli’s story is all too common.

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EU sanctions against Syria unlikely to have impact on the ground - Deutsche Welle

EU sanctions against Syria unlikely to have impact on the ground - Deutsche Welle | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
The European Union has imposed targeted sanctions against several Syrian officials as punishment for the crackdown on anti-government protesters. But the sanctions are unlikely to change the regime's political course.

Protests continued to rock Syria on Friday, May 13, with at least 3 more demonstrators killed by security forces. The demonstrators were killed despite promises by the government to a hold a national dialogue in the coming days to resolve the increasingly bloody crisis.

According to the United Nations, up to 850 Syrians have been killed since the military crackdown began and thousands more have been arrested.

In response, the European Union imposed sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's regime last Tuesday. The sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes that target 13 Syrian officials.

However, the EU's attempt to specifically target the regime elite is unlikely to force the government to change its violent course.

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Bahrain's hospitals are used as bait - The Guardian

Bahrain's hospitals are used as bait - The Guardian | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
In Bahrain, to be wounded by security forces has become a reason for arrest and providing healthcare has become grounds for a jail sentence. During the current civil unrest, Bahraini health facilities have consistently been used as a tool in the military crackdown against protesters.

The muted response from key allies outside of the region such as the United States – which has significant ties to Bahrain, including a vast naval base in the country – can only be interpreted as acceptance of the ongoing military assault, which is backed by the Gulf Co-operation Council.

While the government and its supporters in Bahrain continue to refer to the protesters as rioters, criminals, extremists, insurgents or terrorists, the label that remains conspicuously absent for those who are wounded is "patient".

Since 7 April, when Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) first raised the alarm about the situation, our team has seen patients in villages across the country who were severely beaten or tortured in jail; schoolgirls who have been both physically abused and threatened with rape; and patients in urgent need of hospitalisation who still refuse to be referred due to the high risk of arrest.

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Hikers on Trial - New York Times

Hikers on Trial - New York Times | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
On The Ground blog by Nicholas Kristof

Guest blogger Sarah Shourd, who was imprisoned along with Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal in Tehran, reflects on what life must be life for her two friends, who continue to be held at Evin Prison.

For five hours a day the sunlight shines through the only window in Josh and Shane’s cell in Evin Prison, casting a small square of light on the wall. As the sun steals across the horizon, Josh and Shane’s square of light moves in its own arc across the 10 feet of their universe.

Very little reaches Shane and Josh inside those four walls. The closest they come to nature is a single potted plant that they pass in the hallway outside their cell each day. Their only view of the outside world is a patch of blue sky divided by steel bars. Their cell contains two beds, a sink, a toilet, a shower and an empty space about the size of a large beach towel. With fluorescent lights continuously kept on, Josh and Shane never enjoy the luxury of darkness; in order to sleep at night they have to tie a shirt around their eyes.

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Lebanese police send fleeing Syrians back to face Assad regime's violence - The Guardian

Lebanese police send fleeing Syrians back to face Assad regime's violence - The Guardian | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
By Mitchell Prothero in Wadi Khaled, Lebanon

Syrians attempting to flee across the Lebanese border to escape the violent clampdown of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad are being rounded up and returned to an uncertain fate by Lebanese security forces, according to local residents.

In an attempt to escape a siege by Syrian security forces, hundreds of residents of the small town of Tell Kalakh – near the Lebanese border – placed provisions into plastic grocery bags and their wounded relatives onto cheap synthetic blankets and crossed into Lebanon, where they hoped to find safety with distant relatives and sympathetic residents of the northern city of Tripoli. Crossing the muddy and shallow Kabir river on foot within plain view of the Lebanese army checkpoint in nearby Wadi Khaled, the refugees and wounded made it to what they thought was the safety of Sunni Muslims in the area, who have long hated the neighbouring Syrian regime.

But according to witnesses, their relief was short-lived as almost all the refugees were rounded up within hours of their arrival over the weekend by Lebanese intelligence agents acting under orders to prevent Syrians from escaping the violent crackdown by Assad's Ba'athist regime.

"There were roadblocks everywhere," said Abu Rabih, who would not give his real name for fear of arrest. "It was impossible to hide who these people were, they were looking for Syrians escaping Tell Kalakh."

The arrested refugees were returned to the Syrian security services by daybreak, said residents and witnesses interviewed by the Guardian. "They caught most of them and sent them back through the crossing," said Abu Rabih, who runs a shop a few hundred metres from the illegal border crossing over the river.

"Why does Lebanon send our brothers back to be killed and tortured by these monsters?" The revelations came amid fresh reports of gunfire in the town of Moadimiyeh, close to Damascus on Tuesday.

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Libyan government bombards residential area: rebels - Reuters

By Guy Desmond

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan government forces bombarded a residential area outside Misrata on Tuesday, said rebels battling to maintain their grip on the city in the face of a fierce onslaught.

Fighting in the city has ebbed and flowed over the past few weeks but rebels appeared to have gained some ground by surrounding loyalist soldiers in the airport and air force academy in the south from all directions, a witness said.

"Gaddafi's forces are holed up in the airport and the air force academy," resident and rebel sympathizer Ghassan said.

His account could not be independently verified.

"Rebels I talked to said the plan is to enter the airport in the next two days," Ghassan said by telephone.

Misrata is key to rebel hopes of overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi because it is the last city they control in the west of the North African country.

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Free Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and All Political Prisoners in Bahrain Petition

Free Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and All Political Prisoners in Bahrain Petition | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
Free Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and All Political Prisoners in Bahrain Petition, hosted at PetitionOnline.com...
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UNICEF - Côte d'Ivoire - UNICEF provides vital assistance to thousands of displaced people in Côte d’Ivoire

UNICEF - Côte d'Ivoire - UNICEF provides vital assistance to thousands of displaced people in Côte d’Ivoire | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
RT @UNICEF: UNICEF provides vital assistance to thousands of displaced people in Côte d'Ivoire http://bit.ly/kIlahn...
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UN Special Rapporteur on torture to give expert opinion on the arrest of minors in Israeli military court | International Solidarity Movement

10 May 2011 | Popular Struggle Coordination Committee The Special Rapporteur's expert opinion will be filed to the Ofer Military Court by the defense next (RT @ismpalestine: New: UN Special Rapporteur on torture to give expert opinion on the...
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Yemeni fighter jets pound villages outside the capital after tribes ambush government troops

Yemeni fighter jets pound villages outside the capital after tribes ambush government troops | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
SANAA, Yemen - A Yemeni tribal official says fighter jets pounded mountain villages outside the capi... - Latest News - Winnipeg Free Press.
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Bahrain expels Reuters correspondent - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Bahrain said on Tuesday that it was expelling the Reuters correspondent in the Gulf kingdom.Frederik Richter, who has been based in the capital Manama since 2008, was told to leave (#reuters #NEWS Bahrain expels Reuters...
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How Radical are Bahrain's Shia? - Foreign Affairs

By Justin Gengler

In an April 19 op-ed in The Washington Times, Bahrain’s king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, wrote that his regime was forced into its ongoing brutal crackdown on political protest and dissent when “the legitimate demands of the opposition were hijacked by extremist elements with ties to foreign governments in the region” -- that is, when the movement was hijacked by Shia revolutionaries with ties to Iran.

Such accusations first arose soon after protests began in Bahrain in mid-February. But they took on new momentum on March 7, when several hard-line Shia opposition groups formed an alliance called the Coalition for a Republic, which rejected any political solution short of the wholesale ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family. The very name of the coalition evoked the specter of Iran’s Islamic Republic, and seemed to leave Bahrain’s rulers with no choice but to act firmly if they wished to avoid a Shia revolution of their own.

Yet King Hamad’s argument implies that there is a significant proportion of the Bahraini Shia population that would favor an Iranian-style religious regime in Bahrain and would be willing to take up arms to achieve it. At least as of early 2009, when I undertook the first-ever mass political survey of the country, this was not the case: the vast majority of ordinary Bahraini Shia joined Sunnis in rejecting a system of governance based on or limited to religion.

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Nakba Day protests show right of return remains central to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict - Mondoweiss

This post on Mondoweiss summarizes the many demonstrations that occurred today as Palestinians and allies protested the Nakba.
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Iran says 'no information' on Al-Jazeera reporter - France 24

AFP - Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday that he had "no information" on the whereabouts of an American journalist working for Al-Jazeera after Damascus said she was sent to Tehran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"I have no information," Salehi said when asked whether Syria, Iran's main Arab ally, had handed over the journalist.

Syria expelled Dorothy Parvez to Iran after she tried to enter illegally on an expired Iranian passport, the Syrian embassy in Washington said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Jordanians and Egyptians take to streets for pro-Palestinian protests - Haaretz

Jordanians and Egyptians take to streets for pro-Palestinian protests - Haaretz | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
Protesters in Egypt and Jordan call for establishment of Palestinian state, end to displacement of refugees; demonstrations take place days before Nakba Day; Jordanian protesters call for end of peace with Israel.

Jordanians and Egyptians took to the streets Friday calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state and an end to the displacement of refugees.

The protests took place just two days before the Nakba Day, when Palestinians mourn the 'catastrophe' in which their ancestors were expelled in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, creating thousands of refugees.

About 500 protesters marched in Amman's downtown market district, some wearing Palestinian black and white kefiyahs or headscarves and holding keys to family homes left behind.
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IRAN: American hikers' trial delayed -- again -- without explanation - Los Angeles Times

IRAN: American hikers' trial delayed -- again -- without explanation - Los Angeles Times | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
Babylon & Beyond blog

Trial has been delayed again for two Americans detained in Iran for more than 21 months after being detained during a hiking trek along the Iran-Iraq border.

[...]

Authorities offered no explanation for the delay. Neither did they announce a new trial date. They're being held inside Tehran's infamous Evin Prison as they face charges of espionage and trespassing.

The two 28-year-olds, along with Bauer's fiancee Sarah Shourd, were arrested and jailed by Iranian authorities on July 31, 2009, along the unmarked, mountainous border separating western Iran from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq. Shourd was released in September on $500,000 bail.

Diplomats and journalists waited for more than four hours in front of the court. An official from the Swiss Embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Iran in the absence of formal relations between the two countries, said a request to attend any court session had been rejected.

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Saudi Women to Get Behind the Wheel in Defiance of Driving Ban - Bloomberg

By Donna Abu-Nasr

Manal, a 32-year-old woman, is planning something she’s never done openly in her native Saudi Arabia: Get in her car and take to the streets, defying a ban on female drivers in the kingdom.

Manal and ten other people are organizing a campaign on Facebook and Twitter urging Saudi women with international driver’s licenses to join them starting June 17, risking their jobs and their freedom. The coordinated plan isn’t a protest, she said.

“I’m doing it because I’m frustrated, angry and mad,” Manal, who asked to be identified only by her first name, said in an interview from the eastern city of Dhahran. “It’s 2011 and we’re still discussing this insignificant right for women.”

The risk the women are willing to take underscores both their exasperation with the restrictions and the infectious nature of the changes sweeping the region. Saudi Arabia, which has the world’s biggest oil reserves, so far has avoided the mass demonstrations that have toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and threaten officials in Libya, Yemen and Syria.

“These events have taught Saudi women to join ranks and act as a team,” said Wajeeha al-Howeider, a Saudi women’s rights activist, in a telephone interview from Dhahran. “This is something they could only have learned from those revolutions.”

Male Approval

Saudi Arabia enforces the ascetic Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam. Women aren’t allowed to have a Saudi driver’s permit, even though some drive when they’re in the desert away from urban areas. They can’t travel or get an education without male approval or mix with unrelated men in public places. They aren’t permitted to vote or run as candidates in municipal elections, the only ones the kingdom allows.

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In Bahrain, a candlelight vigil can land you in jail - McClatchy

By Roy Gutman, McClatchy Newspapers

SITRA, Bahrain — In the back alleys and streets of this Shiite Muslim town, a police crackdown looms at any hour of the day, but never more so than at nightfall, when even innocuous civil disobedience can lead to jail and perhaps torture.

The angry young men here know from experience that the police will use helicopters, blunderbuss rifles and tear gas to confront them, but they plot their next nighttime protest march nevertheless, in what's become a cat-and-mouse game under Bahrain's state of emergency, imposed to crush what remains of the country's protest movement.

The police, mainly Sunni Muslims recruited from Pakistan's Baluchistan province as well as Yemen, Syria and other Muslim countries, deploy three or four vans at the entrances to this town's residential neighborhoods. Inside are 12 to 20 men ready to pounce the first moment they hear of a demonstration — even a candlelight vigil — against the government.

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Iran helping Syrian regime crack down on protesters, say diplomats - The Guardian

Iran helping Syrian regime crack down on protesters, say diplomats - The Guardian | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
Claim comes as four women shot dead by security forces in first use of violence against an all-female demonstration

By Simon Tisdall and foreign staff in Damascus, The Guardian

Iran is playing an increasingly active role in helping the Syrian regime in its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, according to western diplomatic sources in Damascus.

The claim came as Syria's security forces backed by tanks intensified operations to suppress unrest in three new flashpoint towns on Sunday and it was confirmed that four women had been shot dead in the first use of force against an all-female demonstration.

A senior western diplomat in Damascus expanded on assertions, first made by White House officials last month, that Iran is advising president Bashar al-Assad's government on how to crush dissent.

The diplomat pointed to a "significant" increase in the number of Iranian personnel in Syria since protests began in mid-March. Mass arrests in door-to-door raids, similar to those that helped to crush Iran's "green revolution" in 2009, have been stepped up in the past week.

Human rights groups suggest more than 7,000 people have been detained since the uprising began. More than 800 people are said to have died, up to 50 during last Friday's "day of defiance". Last night two unarmed demonstrators were reportedly killed during a night rally in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor.

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Rebuilding Cote d'Ivoire: Lessons from Sierra Leone - ISN

Rebuilding Cote d'Ivoire: Lessons from Sierra Leone - ISN | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
ISNRebuilding Cote d'Ivoire: Lessons from Sierra LeoneISNTo tackle Cote d'Ivoire's intractable problems after the demise of Gbagbo's regime, security sector reform, reconciliation, resettlement and development must work in tandem.
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Assessment Report: Communication Strategy Needed to Assist Ivoirian Refugees in Liberia

Internews' assessment along Liberia's eastern border with Cote d'Ivoire, where more than 150,000 Ivoirians have fled the violence at home, makes several reco...
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Bangladeshi force trained by UK police 'allowed to kill and torture' | World news | The Guardian

Bangladeshi force trained by UK police 'allowed to kill and torture' | World news | The Guardian | Human Rights & Freedoms News | Scoop.it
Human Rights Watch calls for Rapid Action Battalion to be disbanded and for UK and US to withdraw support (RT @FreeAssangeNow: UK-trained force 'allowed to torture': Human Rights Watch calls for Rapid Action Battalion to be...)...
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Video of Arrests in Damascus

Video posted online by Syrian activists is said to show protesters being rounded up in the capital, Damascus, on Monday night.
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