Wednesday, February 25, 2015

State of the country








Today Amnesty International issued "Amnesty International Report 2014/15: The State of the World's Human Rights."  The section on Iraq opens with:

There was a marked deterioration in human rights as armed conflict intensified between government security forces and fighters of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) armed group, which gained control of large parts of central and northern Iraq. IS fighters committed widespread war crimes, including ethnic cleansing of religious and ethnic minorities through a campaign of mass killings of men and abduction and sexual and other abuse of women and girls. Government forces carried out indiscriminate bombing and shelling in IS-controlled areas, and government-backed Shi’a militias abducted and executed scores of Sunni men in areas under government control. The conflict caused the deaths of some 10,000 civilians between January and October, forcibly displaced almost 2 million people and created a humanitarian crisis. This was exacerbated by the continuing influx of thousands of refugees from Syria, mostly to Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region. The government continued to hold thousands of detainees without charge or trial, many of them in secret detention with no access to the outside world. Torture and other ill-treatment in detention remained rife, and many trials were unfair. Courts passed many death sentences, mostly on terrorism charges; more than 1,000 prisoners were on death row, and executions continued at a high rate.

That the Islamic State is committing crimes and overseeing horrors is not hard to discover in reports and 'reports' in the western media.

The fact that Iraq's government forces are doing the same?

Much harder to find reported in the western media.

For example, starting in January of 2014, then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki began bombing the civilian areas of Falluja -- a Sunni dominate city.  Bombing civilians areas as collective punishment?  Legally defined as War Crimes.  These bombings quickly became daily bombings.

The western press looked the other way until September 13, 2014 when new prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced these bombings had been stopped.

That the western press rushed to cover.

But, thing is, bombings continued the next day and ever since.  The bombing of the residential neighborhoods in Falluja has never stopped.

These bombings are acknowledged in a sentence in the Amnesty report:

Government forces used indiscriminate shelling to regain control over Fallujah and parts of Ramadi from ISIS, killing civilians and causing damage to civilian infrastructure. Anbar province remained in conflict throughout the year amid allegations that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had undermined efforts by tribal leaders to broker a solution.
The government’s failure to resolve the crisis, among other factors, left Anbar unable to stem the rapid military advance of ISIS, whose fighters seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in June and then much of Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninevah and Salah al-Din provinces. This sparked a dramatic resurgence in sectarian tensions and massive displacement of communities at risk from armed attacks by ISIS or government air strikes. Ethnic and religious minorities were particularly targeted by ISIS, which forced all non-Sunni and non-Muslims out of the areas under its control.

The report also notes:

Government forces and Shi’a militias armed and backed by the government committed war crimes and human rights violations, predominantly targeting Sunni communities. In Anbar, Mosul and other areas under IS control, government forces carried out indiscriminate air strikes in civilian areas, including with barrel bombs, that killed and injured civilians. In September, Prime Minister al-Abadi called on the security forces to cease all shelling of civilian areas, but air strikes in IS-controlled areas continued, with ensuing civilian casualties.
Security forces and Shi’a militias abducted or detained Sunnis and carried out scores of extrajudicial executions with impunity. In areas where they regained control from IS, they also destroyed homes and businesses of Sunni residents, in reprisal for the alleged support for IS by members of those communities. KRG Peshmerga forces also carried out reprisal destruction of homes of Sunni Arab residents in areas they recaptured from IS.

Will any of the above get serious attention from the western press?

Did the findings in the United Nations report issued on Monday get any serious western press attention?

No, they did not.

The reports was issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and is entitled [PDF format warning] "Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Iraq: 11 September - 10 December 2014."

The report notes:

During the reporting period UNAMI/OHCHR continued to receive reports alleging civilian casualties attributed to airstrikes and shelling by Government security forces and those supporting them -- that at times appear to have been carried out against civilian targets or heedless of the disproportionate effects of those operations on civilians, in which case it would amount to war crimes. Hundreds of civilians were reportedly killed (including at least 3 children) from airstrikes and shelling during the reporting period. However, in many cases, UNAMI/OHCHR has not been able to verify these reports nor the number of civilian casualties that may have caused . On 13 September, Prime Minister al - Abadi released a statement that he had ordered the Iraqi Air Force to s uspend bombardment in civilian areas, including those controlled by ISIL, and expressed his commitment to protect civilians. The statement was ostensibly in response to increasing concerns regarding civilian casualties stemming from airstrikes and shelling by Government forces,

Did CNN rush to cover the report?


Did the Washington Post, McClatchy or the New York Times?


Now it took forever for the report to get back to Falluja.

Because the United Nations is so cowardly -- especially UNAMI.

So you went from the bombing of civilian areas in Falluja to other bombings by forces -- Iraqi as well as the US-led foreign fighters -- before the report would (briefly) get back to Iraq.

ISF, and coalition forces 32 assisting the Government of Iraq, are bound to respect applicable humanitarian law in the conduct of military operations.  These norms include the principles of distinction and proportionality, and the requirement to take all reasonable precautions to avoid and minimize incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and damage to civilian objects. UNAMI/OHCHR notes one confirmed case (and there have been a few other similar reports cited in local media), where the Iraqi Air Force dropped leaflets from the Ministry of Defense advising civilians to evacuate areas occupied by ISIL that may be potential targets in military operations.
 As noted above, ISIL continues to deliberately position itself in civilian areas and within civilian infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, either to use the presence of civilians to shield their forces from attack or to cause civilian casualties in the event of attack.
Salah al-Din governorate reported the highest number of civilian casualties due to airstrikes, with allegedly 67 civilians killed during the reporting period. Subsequent to ISIL complex attack on the sub-district of Dhuluiya on 8 September, ISF began a series of airstrikes in defense of the area. Several aerial bombardments of the area during the remainder of September allegedly resulted in the deaths of at least 11 civilians , and the injury of two others. On 8 October, ISF shelling on Tikrit reportedly killed at least 14 civilians. On 9 and 10 November, shelling allegedly by ISF in al - Alam sub-district, including in a market area, reportedly killed at least seven civilians and wounded 14 more.
On 14 October, in the Kahrabaa area of Baiji district , an air strike reportedly hit two houses, killing 18 persons, most allegedly civilians. On 17 October, an airstrike in the Albo - Tuama area of Salah al - Din was alleged to have killed five people from one family, including one woman and three children. On 21 October, a building collapsed in the central part of Baiji district after it was targeted in an airstrike. According to one source, a second air strike killed at least five people and wounded at least 10 others who had gone to the site to retrieve those killed and injured by the first strike.
On 29 November, an airstrike allegedly targeted a vehicle in Yathrib sub-district, killing one civilian, with a second strike targeting a house where a family had allegedly gathered for a funeral. It was reported that at least 15 civilians (including four children) were killed and another 25 were injured in the attack. Local sources have reported that a predominately Sunni Arab area of Yathrib sub-district has been under regular attack by ISF and government-affiliated forces from Balad Air Base (formerly the al-Bakr Air Base) over the past several months. Approximately 15 - 20 villages have been affected, with the most severe impact on al-Jami’y a area, where it is alleged that almost half of the 600 homes were destroyed by shelling. Number of casualties could not be verified due to lack of access to the affected area. Residents have claimed that they are under threat of being shot if they entered their fields for agricultural purposes. It is alleged that the main actor conducting military operations in the area is the Asa’ib Ahl al - Haq (AAH).
Sources in Ninewa also alleged that the governorate had experienced a high number of air attacks during the reporting period. On the morning of 10 September, an air strike allegedly hit al-Majmoua area, north of Mosul, reportedly killing 11 civilians. In the afternoon of the same day, two additional air strikes in al - Shurta and Ba’aj areas allegedly killed at least seven civilians and wounded three more. Air strikes carried out on 17 October north of Mosul allegedly killed at least 26 civilians. It was further reported that on 7 November, two air strikes killed 10 civilians, including two children in Qayyara district.
UNAMI/OHCHR received several reports of air strikes in Anbar governorate, but due to the security situation was not able to verify these incidents or the casualties that are alleged to have resulted. On 6 October, an air strike allegedly hit civilian buildings in Heet, killing at least 18 civilians (including three women and eight children), with an undetermined number of wounded. Other sources, however, reported that the target of the air strike was ISIL, and that the three civilian houses had been hit with resulting civilian casualties in subsequent shelling of the area. It was also alleged that on 4 November, an air strike hit a market in al-Qaim, western Anbar, killing at least five civilians and wounding at least 27 more. Four days later on 8 November, another strike reportedly killed at least 13 civilians in the same area.
Sources in Fallujah General Hospital reported that 144 bodies (including 18 children) had been received during September, 398 (including 26 children) during October, and 2 94 bodies (including 8 children) during November. Sources in the hospital alleged that most of these casualties had resulted from shelling carried out by the Iraqi army and associated forces. UNAMI/OHCHR was not able to verify these figures.

Took them five paragraphs to get back to Falluja but eventually they did.

Again, did the western press rush to cover the UN's report?


Nor will they rush to cover Amnesty International's report.

There's nothing in it for them.

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