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Entries in Human Rights Watch (41)


Middle East Today: Turkey --- Deputy PM Apologises for "Excessive Violence"...But Will PM Erdogan?

Turkey: 3rd Protester Dies

Ethem Sarısülük, who was wounded in the head during police attacks on protesters in Taksim Square, has died of his injuries.

Two other people have so far died in the protests. Abdullah Cömert, a 22-year-old youth branch member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), was killed in Antakya on June 3 during the clashes, while 20-year-old Mehmet Ayvalıtaş was hit and killed after a car driver ignored warnings to stop for protesters in Ümraniye’s 1 Mayıs neighborhood on the night of June 2.

Turkey: Protesters Present Demands to Government

Protesters of the "Taksim Platform", who began the current wave of demonstrations with a challenge to the re-development of Istanbul's Gezi Park, have put their demands in a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç.

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Syria Today: The Civilians Trapped in Qusayr

A spokesman for insurgents tours the besieged city of Qusayr

Claimed Footage of Scud Strike in Kafar Hamra Section of Aleppo

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Middle East Today: Iraq --- Deadly Bombings Continue

Egypt: Concern Over Effect of Proposed Law on NGOs

Human Rights Watch has expressed concern that a draft law, placed by President Morsi before the legislature on Wednesday, would allow the Government and security agencies to arbitrarily restrict the funding and operation of independent groups.

HRW claims the Associations Law will reinforce and formalise State control over non- Governmental groups by denying them access to both domestic and international funding and giving "complete discretion" to authorities to object to activities of Egyptian and international organisations.

HRW said there were improvements in the draft, notably over the withdrawal of the designation of all NGO funding as "public" and thus open to Government supervision; however, it said the Government still retains excessive powers.

HRW cited the requirement of submission of an annual financial report, as well as copies of all internal decisions and a report on annual activities, to the authorities --- who could object and try to shut down the NGO. Groups also must notify the government in advance every time they wish to raise money through TV campaigns, charity events, or mail campaigns, and a Government committee has absolute discretion to block all access to foreign funding.

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Iran Today: Beyond The Presidential Election --- Human Rights

Presidential Election Watch: Will Larijani Support Qalibaf?

Iran's powerful Parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, hinted at possible support for Presidential candidate and Tehran mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, lauding his achievements regarding construction of the Imam Ali Expressway in Tehran.

Larijani said the project showed Qalibaf's "jihadi efforts".

Regarding the election, Larijani said that there would be a good turnout and that the Iranian people could not be forced to vote a particular way by the West.

However --- in a hint that Presidential hopefuls need to unite behind a consensus candidate --- the parliamentary speaker warned candidates to be attentive, lest Western countries turned apparent disunity into internal divisions.

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Syria Today: The Debate Over Chemical Weapons (Continued)

Dead animals in Khan Assal in Aleppo Province after an alleged chemical weapons attack last month (Photo: George Ourfalian/Reuters)

See also Syria Feature: The Lesson of the Destruction of the Ummayad Mosque
Middle East Today: Killing Off an "Independent" Egyptian News Site
Saturday's Syria Today: A Chemical Weapons "Game-Changer"?

1515 GMT: Insurgent Leader on Chemical Weapons, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Prospect of Victory

In an interview, General Salem Idriss, the head of the insurgent Joiot Military Command, has claimed that regime forces used "the kind of chemical weapons" that are "not so very well known" in the cities of Aleppo, Raqqa, and Homs --- thus indicating that the insurgents have not been able to identify the nature of the chemicals allegedly used.

In the town of Khan al-Assal, allegedly attacked last month, Idriss said that the Syrian military had employed "some kinds of gases" and "phosphorus bombs" against civilians.

Idriss said the importance of the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra --- which has been elevated by much of the media because of the exaggerated claim that it is linked to Al Qa'eada --- has been exaggerated: "The fighters in Jabhat al-Nusra are not more than 5,000 in all the country. Compare 5,000 to that, they [have] very few fighters in Syria."

The commander added, "We don't coordinate with them, we don't have any plans to work with them in the future. They are a special group, and this group is not working under our command."

Idriss claimed, "I]f we have enough weapons and ammunition we can put an end to the fight in Syria, we can fall the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In not more than two months. We can do that."

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Syria Live: "Crimes Against Humanity" of 1000s Killed in Airstrikes

1953 GMT: Rising Death Toll. According to the Local Coordination Committees, 90 people have been killed so far today nationwide:

25 martyrs in both Homs and Aleppo; 23 martyrs in Damascus and its Suburbs; 8 martyrs in Hama; 4 martyrs in Daraa; 2 martyrs each in Latakia and Idlib; and 1 martyr in Deir Ezzor

See our note about the casualty figures published by the LCC.

1811 GMT: Key Islamist Brigades Denounce Jabhat Al Nusra's Connections to ISI. There are many misconceptions about Jabhat al Nusra's connection to Al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), and also other Islamists operating inside Syria. We've addressed some of those misconceptions in a separate analysis:

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Syria Feature: Regime Attacks Deliberately Target Civilians, Killing 1000s

Raw footage from the Human Rights Watch investigation:

EA Worldview asked the report's co-author Ole Solvang, who is on the ground in Syria, whether insurgents had been present at any of the sites of airstrikes in which civilians died.

Solvang told us that while there had been some airstrikes targeting opposition fighters, those attacks did not result in the deaths of civilians. According to Solvang, such strikes were extremely rare compared to those attacks on non-combatants: "We did not document any attacks where we concluded that civilian casualties were collateral damage in the sense that they were lawful. In virtually all cases we documented the strikes did not hit any legitimate targets."

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Syria Live Coverage: Insurgent Attacks in Damascus

2106 GMT: Hezbollah Convoy - continued. As many readers have pointed out, there is no strong evidence that the mine attack in the last video worked at all. We'll have to see if we get more videos or other news sources, but it's worth watching.

2049 GMT: Hezbollah Convoy Destroyed? Since this morning there have been rumors that a convoy of Hezbollah fighters was destroyed on a highway near Damascus. French media, citing Voice of Lebanon radio and an official in the Free Syrian Army, said that "senior Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah and Syrian officers" were targeted. An opposition Facebook page suggested that the officials were on a way to a security meeting and were destroyed by landmines placed on the road.

Now, Al Jazeera's Arabic channel has picked up the report, and has played video that they say shows the attack:

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Iran Report: Activists Fleeing the Assault on Civil Society (Human Rights Watch)

Faraz Sanei talks to CNN about the suppression of civil society in Iran over the last decade

Although most of the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets to protest the June 2009 presidential election result had not been political or civil society activists, they nonetheless found themselves targets of security and intelligence forces.  After public protests came to an end, the authorities continued their relentless assault on all forms of dissent, targeting civil society groups and activists who had little if any connection to the protests themselves but whom they deemed to be supporters of a “velvet revolution” working to undermine the foundations of the Islamic Republic.

Along with members of the political opposition, human rights activists, journalists and bloggers, and rights lawyers bore the brunt of these attacks. Security forces arrested and detained scores of activists, including those advocating on behalf of ethnic minorities, women, and students, and subjected many to trials that did not meet international fair trial standards. Dozens remain in prison on charges of speech crimes such as “acting against the national security,” “propaganda against the state,” or “membership in illegal groups or organizations".

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Middle East Feature: Gulf Regimes Crack Down on Dissent in Social Media (Law)

A recent decision by the United Arab Emirates to tighten restrictions on internet use has highlighted attempts by the authorities in Gulf states to staunch the flood of comment and criticism appearing on social media websites.

The amendments to the UAE's existing law on internet crime were announced last month in a decree by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nuhayyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi.

It says citizens who create or run a website or use the internet to deride or damage the state or its institutions face up to three years in prison. Foreign nationals will be deported.

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