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Entries in Universal Declaration of Human Rights (3)


Iran Feature: 17 NGOs Protest "Government Assault on Academic Freedom"

Imprisoned Iranian StudentsStudents and higher education personnel in Iran continue to face routine and pervasive violations of their rights on the basis of their opinions, gender, religion and ethnicity. The Network for Education and Academic Rights, an independent non-governmental organization that monitors academic freedom, documented at least 92 violations of academic rights in Iran in 2011. According to the largest independent student organization in Iran, Daftar-e Tahkim Vahdat, between March 2009 and February 2012, there were at least 396 cases of students banned from further study by the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology as a result of their peaceful political or other dissent. Additionally, at least 634 students were arrested by security and intelligence organs and 254 students convicted for similar reasons, with the correlated impact on their ability to continue their education. The Ministry of Science, Technology, and Research declared Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat an “illegal” union in 2009, on grounds that it “engaged in activities that endangered national security.”

The Iranian authorities have threatened, suspended, arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced student activists for peaceful criticism of government policies on a regular basis. Officials also have routinely shut down hundreds of student gatherings, publications, and independent organizations. More than 30 students are currently serving long prison sentences in Iran solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly by expressing their opinions, participating in demonstrations, or membership of an independent student organization critical of government policies. Combined, these students have been sentenced to more than 130 years in prison, in some cases up to 15 years.

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Bahrain Propaganda 101: The Countess of Wessex, a New PR Firm, and a Former British Ambassador (Whitaker)

Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward with King Hamad, 21 DecemberThis week, another PR company working for the Bahrain government emerged in Britain: Big Tent Communications, run by David Cracknell, former political editor of the Sunday Times.

Following the news that the Countess of Wessex had accepted lavish gifts of jewellery from Bahrain's royal family, The Guardian published an article on its website looking at the long and cosy relationship between Britain and the despotic regime in Bahrain. Cracknell then contacted The Guardian, describing himself as "an adviser" to the government of Bahrain and saying that it had asked him to request a right of reply.

Cracknell offered an article presenting "the counterview" of Bahrain. But the "counterview" he proposed would not come from some Bahraini spokesperson; it would come from Sir Harold "Hooky" Walker, a former British ambassador. This unwittingly reaffirmed the point made in the original article – that relations between Britain and the Bahrain regime are too close for comfort.

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US and the World (Video and Transcript): President Obama to UN General Assembly "Peace is Hard"

Part 1 of 3

One year ago, I stood at this podium and called for an independent Palestine. I believed then --- and I believe now --- that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May. That basis is clear, and well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.

I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. So am I. But the question isn’t the goal we seek --- the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN --- if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians --- not us --- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.

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