Stories about Human Rights Watch

The strange myth of America’s ‘humanitarian’ wars

In March 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a forgetful 71-page report, calling out Israel’s indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in densely populated civilian areas in Gaza. No rhetoric of bringing the oppressor to justice was heard within the American halls of power, and no tomahawk missiles were launched the following week. The perversity of President Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes speaks for itself. It’s fair to assume that if Assad’s regime had been backed by powerful western interests, the latest unwatchable video of Syrian children suffering from the effects of chemical warfare would have invited the same response as Israel’s hawkish policies consistently do – Assad ...

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Imran Khan hasn’t carried balls since he stopped playing cricket

(Author’s note: Blog and blog title refer to cricket balls only. Puns not intended). Here we go. Another day, another Imran Khan statement reflecting a worryingly right-wing mind-set. This much is clear: Like the countless who voted for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in the last General Elections, I shall not be voting for a political party that is full of so much hot air it should be floating around the world, that holds a country hostage through street politics, that is both outsmarted and manipulated, that consistently panders to the single biggest threat in the history of this country: the religious preachers. There is a ...

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Protecting women is now an act of treason, CII? Really?

Pakistan’s efforts of six years at gender equality reached a fever pitch in the past two weeks. Late February the Punjab Assembly passed its Protection of Women Against Violence Bill 2015. Then last week Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy brought home her second Oscar for Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, a documentary highlighting the horrors of honour killing. Following an at-home screening of the film, the PM’s office took the unprecedented and impressive step of promising law reform. In response, several prominent clerics openly opposed and ridiculed the new law suggesting that not only was the new law against the spirit of Shariah but what is really needed is a ...

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Did North Korea really execute its army chief of staff?

Out of the deafening silence of North Korea’s state-run media and soundproofed borders, emerge stories that go viral and take on mythological proportions. In the 18th century, when technology was not yet sufficient enough to deliver news swiftly across far distances, tales of distant lands would change hands amidst the chatter of travellers in the marketplace and taverns. Similarly, stories coming out of North Korea rely largely on hearsay and speculation. Or on the media of its neighbouring countries, which somehow, based solely on proximity, are able to decipher information. The echoes of distant screams in North Korea are reflected through the media ...

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UAE’s National Day: Why are we celebrating a place like Dubai?

United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently celebrated its 44th National Day on December 2, 2015.  As expected, Pakistanis residing in the UAE took part in celebrations too. Pakistan’s fascination with Dubai, is not uncommon, or hard to understand. Dubai has always been positioned to be Middle East’s answer to the West’s glitz and glamour –skyscrapers galore, an economy that is home to global brands, and jobs that apparently promise a life from rags to riches – all in the pseudo comfort of supposedly Islamic settings. To the religious-minded, it offers Shariah Law and the comfort of being next door to Saudi Arabia, the self-proclaimed centre ...

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Salahuddin Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mujahid hangings: A case of ‘judicial murder’?

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a senior opposition leader and former minister in Khaleda Zia’s government, and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid of the Jamaat-e-Islami party were sent to the gallows last Sunday. The state of Bangladesh held them accountable for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence. The state’s actions have received widespread criticism from opposition parties and international human rights groups – not for their alleged war crimes, but in the way the entire trial was conducted. The defendants were not given a fair opportunity to produce their witnesses for their defence. The International Crimes Tribunal had awarded capital punishment to Chowdhury and Mujahid in October 2013. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh, ...

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A woman was stripped naked by Indian officials in Kashmir. And we will blog about it. Again. In vain.

On June 19th 2008, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that included the following statement: “Rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.” The resolution also mentions, “Women/girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including in some cases as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.” Just a few years later, circa 2015, in Indian-occupied Kashmir, a woman was stripped naked by five men – including one army official. It was the district of Udhampur ...

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We need to stop exaggerating minority victimhood in India and Pakistan

I had written in an article on this very forum some time back that many Indians and Pakistanis validate their deep-rooted nationalist prejudices by exaggerating the problems of the religious minorities on the other side of the border. As an Indian, I have written articles informing my fellow countrymen that Pakistan has had a Christian Chief Justice, Justice Cornelius, and he remains one of their most respected judges till date, and the tiny Zoroastrian community in Pakistan, like its Indian counterpart, has produced many remarkable personalities, including prominent judges. These include Justice Dorab Patel, who has also served as chief justice, and Justice Rustam S Sidhwa who ...

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Ashraf Ghani – Bringing maturity back to international politics

Although no one will claim honestly, the new Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, for the most part, is a well-respected statesman amongst the Washington circles. Politicians are trained liars and Ghani’s predecessor was no exception to the rule. However, this guy is someone who comes across as less slippery, more adaptable to change and hence generally acceptable for his demeanours and policies. Earlier this week, Ghani was on his first official US visit as Afghanistan’s head of state. He is no alien to either US culture or politics. He studied, worked and played a prominent part in influencing Washington’s pre and post 9/11 Afghan policies. I ...

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The new found friendship of Mufti Sarkar, Kashmir and Pakistan

In his first tenure as the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed contrived a healing-touch policy. This policy revolves around Kashmiri victims of abuse who require healing. It also considers Kashmiris as an alienated segment from India and therefore requires to be integrated into society. Considered as a “soft-separatist” political party, a narrative constructed by the media, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been instrumental in pacifying not only scores of youth, but have also been successful in involving many journalists, activists and academics in the party fold. In his second innings, Mufti appears to be trying to take his integrationist ...

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