The US Wants Syrian Oil, Not Democracy


Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...

Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

 

18 June 13

 

 

 

“… the Persian Gulf, the critical oil and natural gas-producing region that we fought so many wars to try and protect our economy from the adverse impact of losing that supply or having it available only at very high prices.” –John Bolton, George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations

 

 

 

ll the hubbub over Syria is all about oil. And if you don’t believe me, believe John Bolton.

 

When there’s something being talked about in the news on a regular basis, and if one angle of the story is being consistently reported by various reputable news organizations, you can be sure there’s something else to the story that isn’t being told. Matt Taibbi called this “chumpbait” when referring to the media’s unified dismissal concerning Bradley Manning’s court-martial. The same applies to the latest corporate media stories speculating on US military involvement in Syria.

 

If the US were really concerned about spreading Democracy in the Middle East, we’d be helping the Occupy Gezi movement oust Turkish Prime Minister Ergodan and condemning his violent suppression of human rights, rather than assisting the Free Syrian Army. And the only reason the powers controlling the US would be interested in intervening in Turkey would be if Turkish protesters or government forces shut down the highly-productiveKirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which goes from Iraq through Southern Turkey.

 

All of the media has been atwitter about whether or not the US should get involved in the civil war unfolding in Syria by supporting anti-government forces. The atrocities recently committed by the Free Syrian Army are reminiscent of the kind committed against the Soviets in the 1980s by theAfghan mujahideen, whom we actively funded and supplied with arms. (Remember the movie Charlie Wilson’s War?) It should be worth noting that the same mujahideen fighters we funded to fight our enemies for us in the 1980s became our enemies even before the 9/11 attacks.

 

In a roundabout way, the US media is making the argument that because the Assad regime is using chemical weapons on the Syrian people, the US military should intervene by arming and training the Free Syrian Army in the hopes of overthrowing President Assad. On the surface, most Americans would agree that Assad is a brutal dictator and should be removed from office. But if you asked most Americans whether or not the US military should intervene in Syria to make sure the profit margins of oil companies remain strong, it’s likely most rational folks would say no. Digging just beneath the surface, it’s easy to see that US interest in Syria isn’t to provide Democracy to Syria, but to ensure the Kirkuk-Banias oil pipeline will be restored to profitable status. Even President Obama’s press secretary said that foreign policy isn’t driven by what the people want, but by what is best for “American interests.”

 

The Kirkuk-Banias pipeline runs from Kirkuk in Northern Iraq, to the Syrian town of Banias, on the Mediterranean Sea between Turkey and Lebanon. Ever since US forces inadvertently destroyed it in 2003, most of the pipeline has been shut down. While there have been plans in the works to make the Iraqi portion of the pipeline functional again, those plans have yet to come to fruition. And Syria has at least 2.5 billion barrels of oil in its fields, making it the next largest Middle Eastern oil producer after Iraq. After ten unproductive years, the oil companies dependent on the Kirkuk-Banias pipeline’s output are eager to get the pipeline operational again. The tension over the Syrian oil situation is certainly being felt by wealthy investors in the markets, who are thus dictating US foreign policy.

 

It’s easy to see why the oil-dominated US government wants to be involved in Syria’s outcome. The Free Syrian Army has since taken control of oil fields near Deir Ezzor, and Kurdish groups have taken control of other oil fields in the Rumeilan region. Many of the numerous atrocities that Assad’s government committed against unarmed women and children were in Homs, which is near one of the country’s only two oil refineries. Israel, the US’s only ally in the Middle East, is illegally occupying the Golan Heights on the Syrian border and extracting their resources. The US wants to get involved in Syria to monopolize its oil assets, while simultaneously beating our competition – Iran, Russia and China – in the race for Syrian black gold.

 

Big oil’s ideal outcome would be for US troops to back the FSA’s overthrow of the Assad regime, meaning that sharing in Syrian oil profits would be part of the quid-pro-quo the US demands in exchange for helping the Syrian rebels win. It would be very similar to when the US, under Teddy Roosevelt, backed Panama’s fight for independence in exchange for US ownership of the Panama Canal. But even after numerous interventions, including thekidnapping of Panama’s head of state, the Torrijos-Carter accords gave control of the Panama Canal back to Panama in 1999. The imperialistic approach to Panama turned out to be more costly than it would have been if we had just left Panama alone in the first place.

 

George Santayana said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. If we don’t learn from our past mistakes, like basing foreign policy goals on greed-inspired imperialism, Syria will blow up in our faces.

 

 

 


 

Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

 

Syria – Extremist group ‘executes’ 15-year-old Syrian boy for heresy


 

Monday, 10 June 2013
The gunmen belong to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a militant group that started off known as the Jabhat al-Nusra Front, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (File photo: Reuters)
Reuters, Amman

Members of an Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo executed a 15-year-old boy in front of his parents on Sunday as punishment for what the group regarded as a heretical comment, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Mohammad Qataa was shot in the face and neck a day after being seized, said the pro-opposition monitoring group, which is based in Britain and uses a network of observers across Syria.

“The Observatory cannot ignore these crimes, which only serve the enemies of the revolution and the enemies of humanity,” said the group’s leader Rami Abdulrahman.

A photo released by the Observatory showed Qataa’s face with his mouth and jaw bloodied and destroyed, as well as a bullet wound in his neck.

The Observatory, which based its report on witness accounts of the killing, said Qataa, who was a street vendor selling coffee in the working-class Shaar neighborhood, had been arguing with someone when he was overheard saying: “Even if the Prophet Mohammad comes down [from heaven], I will not become a believer.”

The gunmen, who belong to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a militant group that started off known as the Jabhat al-Nusra Front, took Qatta on Saturday and brought him back alive in the early hours of Sunday to his wooden stand, with whiplash marks visible on his body.

“People gathered around him and a member of the fighting brigade said: ‘Generous citizens of Aleppo, disbelieving in God is polytheism and cursing the prophet is a polytheism. Whoever curses even once will be punished like this.”

“He then fired two bullets from an automatic rifle in view of the crowd and in front of the boy’s mother and father, and got into a car and left,” the report said.

Abdulrahman said the boy’s mother had pleaded with the killers, whose Arabic suggested they might not be Syrian, not to shoot her son. Qataa’s parents said the youth had taken part in pro-democracy demonstrations in Aleppo.

Since last year, large parts of the city have fallen under the control of Islamist brigades, including the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra Front, as well as other rebel units.

Madhuri from Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sanghathan Arrested #Stateoppression #Vaw #Tribalrights


– Anubha Rastogi

Madhuri from Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan has been arrested today afternoon in a case that was filed against her and others as a result of protests for forcing a pregnant woman i.e. Baniya Bai who was in a critical condition and was in labour to deliver in full public view just outside the Menimata PHC.
The case was filed against Madhuri, Baniya Bai’s Husband, Basant and others by the compounder and was registered as FIR No 93 of 2008. Madhuri and others had received a court notice to appear in the Court of Shri D.P. Singh Sewach, JMFC on 16th May. Madhuri appeared and was informed that the police had filed a closure report (khatma) but had not stated clear reasons for the closure and therefore the report was refused. Madhuri was arrested from the court complex. She has been remanded in JC till 30th May 2013 and will be placed in Khargone women’s Jail.
This case of baniya Bai is also part of the writ petition filed in the High Court Of MP, Indore Bench in which the status of maternal health services was raised in light of 29 maternal deaths recorded in a span of 9 months in barwani DH.
Details of the case are as follows:
 
A ST resident of of village Sukhpuri, Barwani. Baniya Bai was taken to the Menimata PHC for delivery by her father-in-law, Dalsingh, on the night of 11 November 2008.  They made the 15 km journey on a bullock cart because no other transport was available.  After admitting and taking a cursory look at her, the compounder, V.K. Chauhan, and nurse, Nirmala, left the PHC and went home.  
 
The next morning, Baniya was forced by the compounder and the nurse to leave the hospital.  Her family was asked for Rs. 100, which they did not have and so Dalsing immediately went to get money from their village.  Despite attempts to re-admit Baniya Bai to the PHC, the compounder flatly refused saying that they could not manage the delivery so she would have to go to Barwani DH or Silawad Hospital. 
 
Baniya’s relatives tried to get the Menimata hospital compounder, nurse and staff to call for the Janani Express, but were unsuccessful. The family was told to make its own arrangements to refer to a higher hospital.  When forced to leave the PHC Baniya Bai crawled out of the labour room, on to the road outside the PHC, where she lay down in severe pain.  
 
Eventually, Baniya’s mother-in-law, Suvali Bai, went looking for a Dai in the marketplace and found Jambai Nana, who had come to market collect her wages. After hearing about Baniya Bai’s situation, Jambai agreed to assist her, and at around 12PM, conducted a normal delivery on the road outside the hospital. The father-in-law gave his dhoti (loin cloth) to provide cover for Baniya Bai during delivery. Following this incident, a crowd gathered outside the health centre. 
 
Madhuri was passing by, inquired about what was happening. She then called up the Silawad CHC, the Silawad Police Station as well as health officials from Barwani. Upon being informed, senior officials from the health department ordered for a vehicle to be sent immediately to the Menimata PHC. After being denied emergency obstetric care and being forced to deliver in public view, Baniya Bai’s and her child were taken to the Silawad Hospital for admission. The compounder was suspended after repeated demands for action from JADS, but was soon reinstated.

 

Marriage or rape? 90-year-old Saudi man weds 15-year old girl #Vaw #WTFnews


Monday, 07 January 2013

Close friends of the bride’s family said she was frightened on the wedding night and she locked herself up in the room for two successive days. (Photo courtesy of www.youm7.com )

Close friends of the bride’s family said she was frightened on the wedding night and she locked herself up in the room for two successive days. (Photo courtesy of http://www.youm7.com )

By Reem Hanbazazah
Al Arabiya

The recent marriage of a 90-year-old Saudi man to a 15-year-old girl has sparked condemnation from human rights and social media activists in the kingdom.

A member of the Saudi National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), urged authorities to intervene to save the child.

On Twitter especially, activists criticized the parents of the girl for giving her out to a man decades older than her.

In an interview the groom insisted that his marriage was “legal and correct,” and that he paid $17,500 (SAR 65,000) dowry to marry the girl, who is the daughter of a Yemeni father and Saudi mother.

The 90-year-old man told the story of his first night with the little bride. He said she entered the bedroom before him and she locked the door from inside so he could not enter. This he said made him “suspicious about some kind of conspiracy” by the girl and her mother.

He vowed to sue his in-laws to give him back the girl or return him the expensive dowry he paid.

Close friends of the bride’s family said she was frightened on the wedding night and she locked herself up in the room for two successive days before fleeing back to her parents’ home.

The member of the Saudi National Association for Human Rights (NSHR), Suhaila Zein el-Abedin urged authorities to intervene “as soon as possible to save this child from tragedy.”

El-Abedin noted that marriage in Islam must be based on mutual consent and this was not satisfied as demonstrated by the girl’s move to lock herself up in the room.

She said the girl’s parents were also to be held responsible for marrying their daughter to a man of the age of her grand grandfather.

She urged establishing the minimal age of 18 for marrying girls, saying this will pave the way for punishing violators, according to a report by al-Hayat newspaper.

Jamal al- Toueiki, a psychologist, said forced marriage may subject girls to abuse and violence and this could lead to their suicide if nothing is done to save them.

Twitter reaction

On twitter, Mouhammad Khaled Alnuzha ‏@mkalnuzha, a legal expert asked: “Is this a case of human trafficking crimes punishable by law?”

‏@sx84, who identifies himself as another legal expert, stated: “She is still considered as a product! A father sells his daughter without mercy, to be bought by money and status and power; all of it for the sake of fulfilling a desire.”

Nawal Saad @lhnalkhlwd wrote on his account: “When people of reason and wisdom are asked to be silent and the ludicrous are set loose, we will see these anti-human behaviors.”

Samira Al-Ghamdi @SamiraAlGhamdi, a psychologist at a child protection center, wrote: “We need a law to penalize these acts … enough child abuse.”
She added that the story of the child bride should be titled “A 90 years old ‘buys’ a girl … or : A father ‘sells’ his daughter…”

 

Revolutionary newspapers, websites bloom underground #fiightcensorship


Fri, 28 September 2012, The observer

BEIRUT — In a country suffocated for decades by state censorship and media control, dozens of independent grassroots newspapers and websites have emerged since the outbreak of the revolt last year.

Most of these pro-revolution outlets operate in a shroud of secrecy, their contributors using pseudonyms for fear of persecution.
But their content is widely read by Syrians hungry for local censorship-free coverage, both inside and outside the country.
Suryitna (Our Syria), Oxygen, Hurriyat (Freedoms) and Enab Baladi (Local Grapes) are just a few newspapers set up by opponents of President Bashar al Assad’s government, which met the uprising that began in March 2011 with brutal repression.
“When we set up Suryitna in September last year, I felt that many peaceful, civil society initiatives were not getting proper coverage,” the independent publication’s chief editor Jawad Abul Muna said.
Most of the “papers” are online, but some activists also print and distribute hard copies in their areas.
“We were so surprised when we found out that hundreds of copies of our paper are being printed in the (central) city of Homs,” some 40 per cent of which is in opposition hands, he added.
“As young Syrians, we wanted to participate and support the revolution in any way we could,” said Abul Muna. “The newspaper is a result of our joint effort.”
Like most Syria-based dissidents, Abul Muna uses a pseudonym.
In a state with an Orwellian track record of censorship and persecuting journalists who dare break the rules, dissidents who have spoken out and been caught have paid a high price, said Abul Muna.
“Anyone suspected of contributing to publications like ours gets jailed,” he said. “Many people have sought refuge outside Syria to avoid that fate.”
Last week, international media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned of the perils facing media workers in the “Bermuda Triangle” of the Syrian conflict.
“We also want to document the history of the past 40 years, which has been blacked out throughout its entirety under (Assad’s) Baath party,” said Abul Muna.
While most readers access Syria’s new publications online, some are printed and handed out. Distribution is carried out secretly and openly in what the opposition refers to as “liberated” zones.
The citizen journalists also face a more mundane obstacle, and that is the lack of funding, said Abul Muna.
“What really worries me is the extent to which our outlets will manage to keep participating in the process of change as time goes on, especially after the fall of the government,” he added.
The citizen journalists behind some of the most popular grassroots projects make no bones about their lack of experience, but take pride in their exercise of free expression.
According to Enab Baladi’s “About Us” section, the online paper is “a space to allow for totally free thought.”
It is published weekly from Daraya, a town southwest of Damascus where more than 500 people were massacred in August, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The government and the fighters of the Free Syrian Army exchanged blame for the killings, though Daraya has been a hotbed of sympathy for the revolt from early on in the uprising.
Four weeks after the horrific massacre became “old news” for much of the rest of the world, the paper’s editorial focused on the need to start rebuilding, and on helping the families of victims to overcome their loss.
“We are witnesses to our history, and we are part of the society that is going through this revolution,” said Enab Baladi’s volunteer chief editor, who identified himself as “Natur.”
“We feel we have a responsibility to speak out and document what is happening around us,” he said via the Internet.
Asked why he thought so many free media initiatives have sprouted in such a short space of time, Natur said: “Free expression is a form of self-defence, a way to resist violence. And after so much violence, we are not afraid any more.”
Natur is open to criticism of Enab Baladi and looks forward to the day that peace will return to Syria, so he and his team of 25 volunteers can move on to running a professional paper.
“Our goal is to run an objective paper that is open to every Syrian’s views,” he said. “Right now, while we’re being shelled, it’s a little hard not to take sides.” — AFP

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi held on sedition charge for ‘mocking the constitution’


NDTV, MUMBAI

The police insist that the arrest is a procedural formality, saying they have acted on a complaint. The First Information Report states that the accused had put ‘ugly and obscene content’ on his website.

“He has shown disrespect to the National flag and therefore he has been arrested under section 124 A,” said Chandrakant Bhosale, Senior Inspector, Mumbai Police.
The arrest comes at a time when Mr Trivedi was scheduled to visit Syria to collect the 2012 Courage in Editorial cartooning award. He was scheduled to fly on September 12.

“If telling the truth makes one a traitor, then I am happy. Likewise even Gandhi, Bhagat Singh are traitors. If while doing service to the nation I am booked under sedition, I will continue to do so and get arrested,” Mr Trivedi said today.

AK Khan, a friend of Mr Trivedi, alleged that the cartoonist is being repeatedly manhandled since his arrest. India Against Corruption or IAC, which has been attacking the government over a series of alleged scams, has lent support to Mr Trivedi, saying the arrest is politically-motivated.

“If anyone is talking against corruption, proclaiming it as anti-national and slamming charges of sedition, one needs to understand that this (drawing cartoons) is against the government and not against the country,” said Mayank Gandhi, a member of IAC.

“He is not a member of IAC but is fighting against corruption and we are here to lend him moral support,” Mr Gandhi added.

“Whoever raises their voice against corruption is termed as a seditionist, anti-nationalist and a Naxalite,” said Preeti Menon, member IAC.

I am not LEFT, I am not RIGHT… I am not HINDU, I am not MUSLIM… I am just a Journalist.


My Case: Let the Jury decide

By Syed Hassan Kazim in http://kindlemag.in

2012-08-30

This time I am not going to write about any particular incident and events surrounding it. Because in a journalist’s life, there comes a time when he has to clarify regarding his own belief , principles, ideas and his own prism through which he sees the things happening around him. After writing for a considerable period of time, he is confronted with an avalanche of questions, and attacked from all sides, left, right and the centre. So please bear with me this time, while I write about my understanding of certain things while standing like a culprit in the ‘’ Janta ki Adalat’’ aka, the jury of the masses.

 

In a short journalistic career of 5 years, I have been attacked from each and every side, from many people because some think that I am an advocate of Islamism, which I am totally not. I hate the radicalism prevailing in my own religion as much as I hate the orthodoxy prevailing in the other. The rightists think that I am leftist and the leftists think that I am a rightist. If I write against the crimes of Narendra ‘’ Milesovic’’ Modi,  I am branded as the sympathizer of Al Qaeda. If I pen down something against Al Qaeda and other radicalists and ‘’Lashkars’’ then I am regarded as a ‘’secularist’’.

 

If I speak against the American, Saudi and Israeli bullying tactics against Iran, I am accused of acting as a Shiahaving a sectarian outlook. Despite agreeing to the fact that Bashar Al Asad is an autocrat and can go to any extent to save his regime, if I write against the way American, Saudi and Turkish backed terrorist groups, most of them, Al Qaeda sponsored and trying to create mayhem in Syria , I am branded as some sort of an Iranian agent and most of the people start reminding me about my opposition to the way the uprising in Bahrain was suppressed. Some people try to compare the situation in Syria and Bahrain despite knowing the fact that in Bahrain, America never wanted a regime change while in Syria, US is hell bent on a regime change as per its own choice for the survival of Israel, America’s biggest and most favoured stooge and ally in the Middle East.

 

Back home, If I speak against the policies of the Congress led UPA and the Congress as a whole, I am accused by the supporters of the Congress as someone who doesn’t know about the way Indian democracy and politics work. Some Congress people even tried to portray me as a sympathizer of Anna, despite knowing the fact that I have been in a great disagreement with Anna’s and his team’s way. If I write against Anna and Ramdev, I am accused of being an agent of Congress who is up there to defame the two ‘’ pious’’ people. Even I am asked that ‘’ you , the Muslims only think about the welfare of your own people, no matter in which part of the world they reside and do not give an iota of attention to the condition and welfare of your fellow Indian citizens’’, as if Anna and Ramdev are the sole spokesmen of the Indian masses. If I ask why Anna becomes silent whenever he is asked to condemn Modi , I am reminded to understand the pros and cons and the limitations of Anna and his movement. I cannot understand where the so called ‘’limitations’’ go when Anna praises Modi on his so called development, and Ramdev shares a dais with the mass murderer of Gujarat?

 

If I write against the massacres of Rohingyas Muslim community in Burma, I am again branded as an Islamist who is always up there to defend Islam and support Muslims. But I think it as my duty as a human being to raise my voice against the injustices being done, no matter against whom. I regard it as my duty to speak against Burmese regime and the criminal silence of Aang Sang Sui Kyi as well as the forceful conversion of the Hindus to Islam in Pakistan.  It sometimes becomes irritating to see the same people who accuse me of being sympathetic to everything which are associated with Muslims, becoming silent and expressionless when I write against the injustices done against the people of other faith residing in the Muslim countries. I think that somehow they prefer to ignore my writings which can break their self created stereotypes regarding me and my views.

 

As a concerned Indian citizen, if I write against the human rights violations in Kashmir, I am branded as some sort of a sympathizer of the separatist forces and an anti- national; traitor, as if an Indian has no right to speak against the excesses of the security forces.

 

The list is long but just to sum up, I would like to request my friends to start looking at me as a journalist first, and everything else later.  I do not want to impose my religious ideology on others. I will speak and write against the injustices and tyrannies, no matter they are done against anyone, at whichever place or country. After all, the thing which suffers and matters most is the humanity and humane values.  The blood of a single innocent human being is equal to the blood of entire humanity and everyone in his own capacity and rights should speak against the tyrants and unjust system. It’s our duty as human beings which we cannot forget or ignore.

 

In an age of post modernization, no one owes any explanation to anyone about what he believes, but this write up is just an effort, so that people can understand my writings in the right perspective. Hope my effort won’t go in vain and I will stand vindicated in the ultimate analysis.

UN Human Rights Chief Alarmed By Escalating Violence In Syria


High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navane...

High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(RTTNews) – Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on Friday expressed “deep alarm” over the increased threat to civilians in unrest-hit Syria, and warned the country’s government as well as the armed opposition of severe consequences if they do not abide by their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.

“The Government has the prime responsibility to protect civilians from all forms of violence. While Government forces have on some occasions, in accordance with international humanitarian law, given civilians a clear opportunity to leave areas it is attacking, on other occasions it has not. Effective warning is required by international humanitarian law, Pillay said in a news release issued Friday.

“Civilians and civilian objects – including homes and other property, businesses, schools and places of worship – must be protected at all times. All parties, including the Government and opposition forces, must ensure that they distinguish between civilian and military targets,” she added.

The UN rights chief also expressed particular concerns over the possibility of a major confrontation between Syrian troops and opposition fighters in the country’s second largest city of Aleppo. Syrian forces have surrounded the east part of the city, which was seized by rebels last week. The rebels in Aleppo are currently bracing themselves for the imminent government offensive.

Although the rebels had launched a similar offensive last week to seize the capital city Damascus, their efforts were thwarted by government forces. While several sections of the city witnessed heavy fighting, Damascus has since been secured by Syrian security forces.

“I have been receiving as yet unconfirmed reports of atrocities, including extra-judicial killings and shooting of civilians by snipers, that took place during the recent fighting in various suburbs of Damascus. It goes without saying that the increasing use of heavy weapons, tanks, attack helicopters and – reportedly – even jet fighters in urban areas has already caused many civilian casualties and is putting many more at grave risk,” Pillay noted in Friday’s press release.

Pointing out that the conflict has so far displaced between one and 1.5 million people in Syria, the UN High Commissioner said “a discernible pattern has emerged” as government forces try to clear areas it says are occupied by opposition forces.

“Typically, during the initial stages, after a village or urban district has been surrounded, water, electricity and food supplies are cut. This is followed by intense shelling and bombardment by a variety of weaponry, increasingly with air support from attack helicopters, and now reportedly even jet aircraft. Then tanks move in, followed by ground forces who proceed door-to-door and reportedly often summarily execute people they suspect of being opposition fighters, although sometimes they detain them,” she said.

About the increasing reports of opposition fighters torturing or executing prisoners, Pillay said murder, willful killings and torture, whether committed by government or opposition forces, constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes. She said evidence gathered from various sources indicate that such crimes are being committed in Syria.

“Those who are committing them should not believe that they will escape justice. The world does not forget or forgive crimes like these. This applies to opposition forces committing crimes as well as to Government forces and their allies,” she added.

The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, killed and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. The opposition, however, claims the actual death toll closer to 17,000.

The ongoing conflict in Syria is now viewed as a civil war by most of the international community and has forced hundreds of thousands of Syrians to seek refuge in camps in neighboring Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

Syria: Neoliberal Reforms in Health Sect Financing: Embedding Unequal Access?


Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...

The recent volatility and uprisings in several countries of the Arab world have been interpreted by the West solely as a popular demand for political voice. However, in all the countries of the region,including those in which there is ongoing violent opposition, the underlying economic dysfunction speaks for itself. The legacy of
joblessness, food riots, and hunger is commonplace and is most often related to structural reforms and austerity measures promoted by the IMF and World Bank. These have played a significant role in reinforcing the rich-poor divide over the past three decades,fostering inequality, suffering, social divisions, and discontent,
which are often overlooked by Western observers. In Syria, the state introduced policies for the liberalization of the economy as early as 2000; these were formalized into the 10th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010). Economic liberalization has been supported by the European Union with technical support from the German Technical Cooperation agency (GTZ). Changes made to the health sector and the labor market include: the piloting of health insurance schemes to replace universal coverage,the charging of fees for health services in public hospitals, and job losses across the board. While the West views discontent in Syria largely as political, its own role in promoting economic reforms and
social hardship has been largely missed. In large part, discontent in Syria and in the region as a whole are a part of a phenomenon that has repeatedly highlighted the failure of policies that aim at rapid commercialization with little consideration for pre-existing disparities in wealth and resources. This paper traces some of the proposed changes to the financing of health care and examines the implications for access and equity.

Read full paper here

Syrian forces use sexual violence against men, women, children – HRW


Fri, 15 Jun 2012 10:17 GMT

Source: reuters // Reuters

Demonstrators protest against Syria‘s President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Maraa, near Aleppo, June 8, 2012. The placard reads, “Your tanks never scared us, we are staying here, you are mortal”. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout

(Story contains graphic details of abuse and torture)

* Women complain of rapes during military raids

* Many Syrians reluctant to report “shameful” crimes

* Electric shocks to genitalia of prisoners

BEIRUT, June 15 (Reuters) – Government forces have used rape and other sexual violence against men, women and children during the Syrian uprising, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.

The U.S.-based group said it had recorded 20 incidents from interviews inside and outside Syria with eight victims, including four women, and more than 25 other people with knowledge of sexual abuse – including medical workers, former detainees, army defectors, and women’s rights activists.

“Sexual violence in detention is one of many horrific weapons in the Syrian government‘s torture arsenal and Syrian security forces regularly use it to humiliate and degrade detainees with complete impunity,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.

“The assaults are not limited to detention facilities – government forces and pro-government shabiha militia members have also sexually assaulted women and girls during home raids and residential sweeps.”

Cases were reported all around Syria, but most of all in Homs province, an epicentre of the revolt.

HRW quoted a man who said he had been held in the Political Security branch in Latakia in a cell with over 70 other people. He said young boys were treated worse than adults, brought back to the cell raped and with their fingernails pulled out.

“One boy came into the cell bleeding from behind. He couldn’t walk. It was something they just did to the boys. We would cry for them,” the man said.

HRW said many of the assaults were in circumstances in which commanding officers knew or should have known the crimes, such as electric shocks to genitalia, were taking place.

In another face-to-face interview a woman from the Karm al-Zeitoun neighbourhood of Homs city which was overrun by Assad’s troops said she heard security forces and shabiha militia rape her neighbours while she hid in her apartment in March.

“I could hear one girl fighting with one of (the men)… She pushed him and he shot her in the head,” HRW quoted the woman as saying. She said three girls, the youngest aged 12, were then raped. After the men left the woman went next door.

“The scene on the inside was unreal. The 12-year-old was lying on the ground, blood to her knees… More than one person had raped the 12-year-old… She was torn the length of a forefinger. I will never go back there. It comes to me. I see it in my dreams and I just cry.”

Some interviewees told HRW that victims did not want their families to know about the assault because of fear or shame. In one case, HRW said a female rape victim was willing to be interviewed but her husband forbade it.

“Even when they may wish to seek help, Syrian survivors of sexual assault have limited access to medical or psychological treatment and other services,” HRW said.

“It is critical that survivors of sexual assault have access to emergency medical services, legal assistance, and social support to address injuries caused by the assault; prevent pregnancy, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections; and to collect evidence to support prosecution of perpetrators.” (Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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