Posts Tagged ‘International Criminal Court’

Philippine police kill 32 in drugs war’s bloodiest day

August 16, 2017

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a special cabinet meeting at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City, southern Philippines. REUTERS

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine police killed 32 people in dozens of anti-drug operations in a province north of the capital, Manila, in the single deadliest day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s unrelenting war on drugs.

About 109 petty criminals, including street-level drug peddlers were arrested and dozens of guns seized in police operations across Bulacan province from Monday night until Tuesday afternoon, said provincial police chief, Romeo Caramat.

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Male residents are rounded up for verification after police officers conducted a large scale anti-drug raid at a slum community in Manila on July 20, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

“We have conducted ‘one-time, big-time’ operations in the past, so far, the number of casualties and deaths, this is the highest,” Caramat told a news conference.

He defended police action and said the deaths were during shootouts, and were not executions, as activists have often alleged.

“There are some sectors that will not believe us, but, we are open for any investigation. All we can say is that we don’t have any control of the situation. As much as possible, we don’t want this bloody encounter.”

Thousands of people have been killed in the anti-drugs campaign, Duterte’s signature policy, since it was launched on June 30 last year, most users and small-time dealers from poor neighborhoods.

The intensity of the crackdown has alarmed the international community, and activists and human rights groups say police have been executing suspects and planting drugs and guns at crime scenes. Police and the government officials reject that.

Police also deny involvement in thousands of murders by mysterious gunmen, blaming them on gang turf wars, drug dealers silencing informants, or vigilantes targeting drug users.

“There were 32 killed in Bulacan in a massive raid, that’s good,” Duterte said in a speech.

“Let’s kill another 32 every day. Maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”

Police conducted 49 sting drug operations in Bulacan that resulted in about 20 armed encounters, Caramat said. Ten other gunfights ensued when police tried to serve arrest warrants to suspects who fought back.

He said 93 of those held were wanted for other crimes, as well as drugs offences.

Bulacan has been a major target in the drugs war, with some 425 people killed and 4,000 offenders arrested, according to Caramat, making it the second-biggest hot spot in the crackdown outside of the Manila area.

Political opponents of Duterte have filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing the president and top aides of crimes against humanity, arguing they failed to address allegations of widespread police abuses that have been brought to their attention.

Duterte has welcomed the ICC complaint, and said he was willing to rot in jail to protect Filipinos.

He has often complained about human rights groups criticizing and undermining his campaign and on Wednesday said he would instead investigate them, or worse.

“If they are obstructing justice, shoot them,” he said.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato and Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel

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“Without justice in Syria, there will never be peace and thus no future.”

August 13, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Del Ponte made the shock announcement earlier this month that she would resign from the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria

GENEVA (AFP) – A UN commission probing Syria rights abuses has gathered enough evidence to convict President Bashar al-Assad of war crimes, an outgoing member of the commission said in interviews published Sunday.

Veteran former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who is preparing to step down after five years serving in the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss media the evidence against Assad was sufficient to secure a war crimes conviction.

“I am convinced of that,” she told Le Matin Dimanche and the Sonntagszeitung weeklies, adding though that with no international court or prosecutor tasked with trying the Syria war crimes cases, justice would remain elusive.

“That is why the situation is so frustrating. The preparatory work has been done, but nevertheless, there is no prosecutor and no court,” she told Sonntagszeitung.

“It’s a tragedy.”

Del Ponte, a 70-year-old Swiss national who came to prominence investigating war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, made the shock announcement earlier this month that she would resign from the UN commission because it “does absolutely nothing”.

She lamented that “everyone in Syria is on the bad side. The Assad government has perpetrated horrible crimes against humanity and used chemical weapons. And the opposition is now made up of extremists and terrorists.”

In Sunday’s interviews, she said she had handed in her resignation letter last Thursday, and that she would officially step down on September 18, after the commission presents its latest report to the UN Human Rights Council.

UN chief Antonio Guterres appealed last week for the commission to continue its work despite Del Ponte’s departure.

– Resigning to provoke action –

The commission has been tasked with investigating human rights violations and war crimes in Syria since shortly after the conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests that have evolved into a complex proxy war.

The continued violence has left more than 330,000 people dead and displaced millions.

The commission, which once Del Ponte leaves will count just two members, has repeatedly urged the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, in vain.

“I do not want to be an alibi for an international community that is doing nothing at all,” Del Ponte told Le Matin Dimanche, explaining her decision to leave the UN commission.

“My resignation is also meant as a provocation,” she said, adding that she hoped it would “put pressure on the Security Council, which must deliver justice to the victims.”

Del Ponte however said that if an international judicial process is eventually established for Syria, “I am ready to take on the position of international prosecutor.”

She stressed that international justice was vital for Syria, where the crimes committed were “far worse” than what she had seen in the former Yugoslavia.

“Without justice in Syria, there will never be peace and thus no future,” she said.

In Philippines, Doubts About Police Raid That Killed a Mayor

August 2, 2017

MANILA — Critics of the Philippine government are raising doubts about a weekend police operation that left 15 people dead, including a mayor accused of drug trafficking by President Rodrigo Duterte, suggesting that the bloodshed was a summary execution disguised as legitimate law enforcement.

But the police have shrugged off such criticism, saying they will continue to pursue scores of other officials Mr. Duterte has publicly identified as “narco politicians.”

Reynaldo Parojinog, the mayor of the city of Ozamiz in the southern Philippines, was killed at his home early Sunday along with his wife and five other people. The police said that Mr. Parojinog’s guards opened fire on them as they tried to enforce a search warrant, and that the seven people were killed in the ensuing firefight.

A raid at another house owned by the Parojinog family left eight others dead, according to an updated report from the police, who originally said five people had been killed there. Several people were arrested, including the mayor’s daughter, Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez, the deputy mayor of Ozamiz, who was brought to Manila under heavy guard. She was charged with drug possession and illegal possession of firearms.

Senator Antonio Trillanes, a critic of Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on drugs, which has left thousands dead at the hands of the police or vigilantes, on Tuesday described the killings as a “rub-out.”

“It is yet another proof of how Duterte’s policy flouts human rights, due process and the rule of law and further reinforces the cases of crimes against humanity filed against him,” said Mr. Trillanes, who was involved in filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court in The Hague accusing Mr. Duterte of masterminding extrajudicial killings.

“As Duterte and his police chief have forewarned, more people will die in pursuit of their drug war,” Mr. Trillanes said.

Mr. Parojinog and his daughter were among roughly 150 Philippine officials, including mayors, judges and police officers, whom Mr. Duterte accused last year of being involved in illegal narcotics, reading their names from a list on live television.

The president encouraged officials on the list to report to the national police headquarters in Manila to clear their names if they considered themselves innocent. Mr. Parojinog and his daughter did so, telling reporters at the time that their political enemies may have generated the accusations against them. The mayor said his family had actively fought crime in Ozamiz, including drug trafficking.

But the family has never denied having links to the Kuratong Baleleng organization, which began as an armed militia unit formed by the military in the late 1980s to help combat communist guerrillas, and later evolved into a criminal organization. It has been dominant in Ozamiz politics for years.

As of Tuesday, Mr. Duterte had not commented on the raids Sunday. But officials in his government have distanced him from the operation, saying it was carried out independently by the police.

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Rolando Espinosa Sr., left, with the national police chief, Gen. Ronald dela Rosa, after turning himself in to the authorities last year. Mr. Espinosa was later killed inside his jail cell, which the police said they had raided on suspicion that he was continuing to direct drug operations from there. Credit Mark R. Cristino/European Pressphoto Agency

On Monday, Gen. Ronald dela Rosa, the chief of the Philippine National Police, appeared undaunted by questions that were beginning to emerge about the killings, saying that the police would aggressively pursue other officials on Mr. Duterte’s list. “We have begun a case buildup against them,” he said in brief remarks to reporters. “Once there is a case already, we will operate.”

It is not clear how Mr. Duterte’s list was compiled; officials in his government have said that the president has his own sources. General dela Rosa said Monday that if officials were put on the list in error, they had nothing to fear, but that if they were confirmed to be involved in drugs, “then they can prepare themselves.”

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa. AFP photo

Palestinian civilians urge ICC to speed up ‘war crimes’ probe

July 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | According to UN figures 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children, were killed in fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and other factions

THE HAGUE (AFP) – Palestinian lawyers and civil society groups Wednesday urged the International Criminal Court to speed up inquiries and open a full investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza, east Jerusalem and the West Bank.”Since two years Palestine is under preliminary examination,” said lawyer Gilles Devers, adding “in Gaza, we think two years is too long.”

The Palestinian Authority has formally asked the ICC to investigate Israel, which is not a party to the Rome Statute that governs the court, for alleged war crimes.

It has presented the court with a dossier alleging abuses during the 2014 summer Gaza war, and for the Israeli occupation and settlement of Palestinian territories.

In January 2015, the tribunal opened a preliminary examination into alleged abuses by all sides in the conflict. And an ICC delegation visited Israel and the West Bank in late 2016.

But Palestinian activists told reporters Wednesday the investigation has stalled, calling for both the ICC and the Palestinian Authority to speed up efforts.

Lawyers representing 448 named victims, and more than 50 Palestinian trade unions and organisations, were handing over Wednesday a thick dossier to the ICC prosecutor’s office which they said showed “clearly that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed.”

The Gaza conflict, in which according to UN figures 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children, were killed in fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and other factions, was clearly “a war crime” and the “ICC was competent” to handle it, said Devers, speaking in English.

Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had “an obligation” to move beyond a preliminary examination to a full investigation, he told reporters before meeting with representatives from her office.

The dossier has been drafted by more than 30 lawyers in the Palestinian territories, and it is the first time that Palestinian civil groups, including doctors, farmers, fishermen and teachers, have appealed directly to the ICC.

The group said it has taken the action because of “the lack of political will on behalf of the Palestinian Authority” which it said had not made an official complaint as a state member of the ICC.

Devers said the group was also hoping to persuade the ICC to open a full investigation “as a matter of urgency” into the situation in east Jerusalem.

Protests and scuffles between demonstrators and Israeli police have erupted in recent days outside the Haram al-Sharif compound, which includes the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The site is venerated by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam, and by Jews as the most sacred site in Judaism.

But Israel closed the ultra-sensitive compound on Friday and Saturday, after an attack by an Arab Israeli on Friday left two Israeli police dead, as has triggered Palestinian fury by installing metal detectors at its entrances.

Philippine President Duterte Critic Says Institutions of Government Failing Include The Senate, National Police, and Armed Forces — “Duterte won’t complete his term”

July 3, 2017
 

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday lamented that “lapdogs” of the Duterte administration now comprise the Senate, which is supposed to fulfill its role as “the last bastion of democracy” in the country.

Speaking to reporters during the weekly Samahang Plaridel forum at the Manila Hotel, Trillanes, a critic of President Duterte, said that the inaction of his fellow senators has reduced them to being mere puppets of the current administration.

“(Senators) don’t want to investigate anymore,” Trillanes said, even calling the pro-Duterte senators “cowards” for failing to perform their duty to look into alleged anomalies in the government.

Trillanes said the Senate is now one of the most damaged institutions in government, apart from the judiciary, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) since Duterte assumed the presidency.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa (R) during a press conference at the Malacanang palace in Manila on January 30, 2017. © NOEL CELIS / POOL / AFP

“Here, you see senators afraid. They say they’re allies (of the President) only because they could not admit they’re afraid,” he said.

The opposition senator said that while other senators whose committees are in the “periphery” quietly do their work, some in the major panels who should be at the forefront of checking abuses of the government are not doing their jobs because “their tails are between their legs.”

Trillanes also said the PNP is being damaged by Duterte’s leading the alleged summary executions of drug suspects and other human rights violations that he feared are being emulated by some police officers.

The senator said the AFP is also slowly being influenced by Duterte into supporting what the senator claimed was the Chief Executive’s grand plan to impose martial law nationwide.

‘Duterte won’t finish his term’

Trillanes said Duterte is not a true leader but someone who is lazy and gets by through tough talk.

He said he does not believe Duterte will be able to last until 2022 and finish his six-year term, as he expects The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) to act on complaints of mass killings against him.

Lawyer Jose Sabio earlier asked the ICC to investigate, leading to issuing a warrant of arrest against Duterte for the thousands of drug-related extrajudicial killings in the country.

Trillanes and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano have filed a supplemental complaint before the ICC.

The senator said Duterte will also face another impeachment complaint next year.

Colleagues hit back

Trillanes’ colleagues hit back at him and questioned his state of mind.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said he had heard Trillanes’ tirades before.

“Why revive it just for him to be in the news?” Pimentel said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he did not know where Trillanes was coming from and was not even “sure if he is still rational in his thinking.”

“One thing I’m sure about, he is dead wrong, he is so out of touch with reality, if not hallucinating too much. Calling one’s own colleagues cowards wholesale and without qualifying is the darndest thing he can do,” Lacson said. – With Perseus Echeminada

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/07/04/1716224/trillanes-calls-pro-duterte-senators-cowards

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More Blood but No Victory as Philippine Drug War Marks Its First Year — Ignoring human rights, Police turned into murderers — “This president behaves as if he is above the law.”

June 25, 2017

MANILA — Launched a year ago, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs has resulted in thousands of deaths, yet the street price of crystal methamphetamine in Manila has fallen and surveys show Filipinos are as anxious as ever about crime.

Duterte took power on June 30 last year, vowing to halt the drug abuse and lawlessness he saw as “symptoms of virulent social disease.”

Thanks to his campaign, government officials say, crime has dropped, thousands of drug dealers are behind bars, a million users have registered for treatment, and future generations of Filipinos are being protected from the scourge of drugs.

“There are thousands of people who are being killed, yes,” said Oscar Albayalde, Metro Manila’s police chief told Reuters. “But there are millions who live, see?”

A growing chorus of critics, however, including human rights activists, lawyers and the country’s influential Catholic Church, dispute the authorities’ claims of success.

Police probers gather evidence near the bodies of two alleged drug pushers killed in Quiapo, Manila.STAR/Joven Cagande

They say police have summarily executed drug suspects with impunity, terrorising poorer communities and exacerbating the very lawlessness they were meant to tackle.

“This president behaves as if he is above the law – that he is the law,” wrote Amado Picardal, an outspoken Filipino priest, in a recent article for a Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines publication. “He has ignored the rule of law and human rights.”

The drug war’s exact death toll is hotly disputed, with critics saying the toll is far above the 5,000 that police have identified as either drug-related killings, or suspects shot dead during police operations.

Most victims are small-time users and dealers, while the masterminds behind the lucrative drug trade are largely unknown and at large, say critics of Duterte’s ruthless methods.

If the strategy was working the laws of economics suggest the price of crystal meth, the highly addictive drug also known as ‘shabu’, should be rising as less supply hits the streets.

But the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s own data suggests shabu has become even cheaper in Manila.

In July 2016, a gram of shabu cost 1,200-11,000 pesos ($24-$220), according to agency’s figures. Last month, a gram cost 1,000-15,000 pesos ($20-$300), it said.

The wide ranges reflect swings in availability and sharp regional variations. Officials say Manila’s street prices are at the lowest end of the range. And that has come down, albeit by just a few dollars.

“If prices have fallen, it’s an indication that enforcement actions have not been effective,” said Gloria Lai of the International Drug Policy Consortium, a global network of non-governmental groups focused on narcotics.

The problem is, according to Derrick Carreon, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s spokesman, that while nine domestic drug labs have been busted, shabu smuggled in from overseas has filled the market gap.

“Demand needs to be addressed because there are still drug smugglers,” Carreon said.

While smuggled shabu has kept the price down in the capital, the official data shows the price has gone up in the already substantially more expensive far-flung regions, like the insurgency-racked southern island of Mindanao.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao last month after militants inspired by Islamic State stormed Marawi City, and the army’s failure to retake the city quickly has dented the president’s image as a law-and-order president.

AFRAID OF THE DARK

Surveys by Social Weather Stations (SWS), a leading Manila pollster, reveal a public broadly supportive of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, but troubled by its methods and dubious about its effectiveness.

SWS surveys in each of the first three quarters of Duterte’s rule showed a “very high satisfaction” with the anti-drug campaign, said Leo Laroza, a senior SWS researcher.

In the most recent survey, published on April, 92 percent said it was important that drug suspects be captured alive.

Respondents also reported a 6.3 percent rise in street robberies and break-ins. More than half of those polled said they were afraid to venture out at night, a proportion that had barely changed since the drug war began, said Laroza.

“People still have this fear when it comes to their neighbourhoods,” he said. “It has not gone down.”

Public and police perceptions of crime levels seem to diverge.

The number of crimes committed in the first nine months of Duterte’s rule has dropped by 30 percent, according to police statistics cited by the president’s communications team.

Albayalde, the capital’s police chief, said people, particularly in Manila, felt safer now, especially due to a crackdown on drug users who he said commit most of the crime.

In the first 11 months of Duterte’s rule, police say 3,155 suspects were shot dead in anti-drug operations. Critics maintain that many of them were summarily executed.

    Police say they have investigated a further 2,000 drug-related killings, and have yet to identify a motive in at least another 7,000 murders and homicides.

Human rights monitors believe many of these victims were killed by undercover police or their paid vigilantes, a charge the police deny.

For residents of Navotas fishport, a warren of shacks near Manila’s docks, the body count is too high. There were nine killings in a single night in Navotas earlier this month, according to local media.

In mid-May, said resident Mary Joy Royo, a dozen gunmen arrived on motorbikes and abducted her mother and stepfather. Their corpses were found later with execution-style gunshots to the head and torso.

“They should be targeting the drug lords,” Royo told Reuters. “The victims of the drug war are the poor people.”

Human rights activists light candles for the victims of extrajudicial killings around the country in the wake of “War on Drugs” campaign by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 in suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines. The “war on drugs” campaign, which saw hundreds of mostly poor victims, has been condemned by human rights groups including the United Nations Chief Ban Ki-moon. AP/Bullit Marquez

RIPPLE EFFECT

As the death toll has risen, so has domestic and international outrage.

In October, the Hague-based International Criminal Court said it could investigate the killings if they were “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population.”

Police operations were halted for much of February after it emerged that anti-drug police abducted and killed a South Korean businessman last year, but the outcry over the rising body count has rarely slowed the killing or led to prosecutions.

The Philippine Commission on Human Rights is investigating 680 drug-war killings.

“In this country the basic problem is impunity,” Chito Gascon, the commission’s chairman, said. “No one is ever held to account for the worst violations. Ever.”

Police chief Albayalde says that the force’s Internal Affairs Service (IAS) investigates all allegations of abuse by his officers.

“We do not tolerate senseless killings,” he said. “We do not just kill anybody.”

IAS told Reuters it had investigated 1,912 drug-related cases and recommended 159 officers for dismissal due to misconduct during anti-drug operations, although it didn’t know whether any had yet been dismissed.

Earlier this month, 19 police officers charged with murdering two drug suspects in their jail cell in November were released on bail and now face trial for the lesser crime of homicide.

Duterte, who has repeatedly urged police to kill drug suspects, had already vowed to pardon the officers if they were convicted.

“You have a head of state who says, ‘Kill, kill, kill,’ a head of state who says, ‘I’ve got your back,'” said CHR’s Gascon. “That has a ripple effect.”

(Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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 (The Philippines seems to be siding with China, Russia and Iran)

President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial

Philippines President Duterte: International Criminal Court could still investigate drug war killings in the Philippines

May 16, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte is approaches the plane that will take him back to the Philippines at Beijing Capital International Airport in China on May 15, 2017. PPD

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte acknowledged Tuesday that allegations he induced extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs could be raised to the International Criminal Court after an impeachment case failed in the House of Representatives.

“Yeah, he can go ahead. He is free to do it. This is a democracy,” Duterte said in reaction to a lawmaker saying he was considering bringing a case against the Philippine leader to the court in The Hague, Netherlands.

The impeachment complaint killed by a House committee Monday accused Duterte of multiple murders and crimes against humanity for adopting a state policy of inducing police and vigilantes into killing more than 8,000 suspected drug users and dealers outside the rule of law. The complaint also accused him of corruption, unexplained wealth, and taking a “defeatist stand” against China’s in the territorial row in the South China Sea.

“It is true that there are deaths — is there a drug war where no one is killed?” Duterte said. “But not in the character and kind that I was dished out, including ordering the killing of a child.”

The dismissal of Rep. Gary Alejano’s complaint was widely expected since the House is dominated by Duterte allies. But the president’s critics hope the procedure could bolster a lawsuit filed against him by a Filipino lawyer before the ICC for alleged extrajudicial killings by showing that domestic efforts to stop Duterte have failed.

The dismissal of the complaint, filed in March, bars any new impeachment case against Duterte until next March.

Since taking office in June, Duterte’s war on drugs has killed 7,000 to 9,000 suspected drug dealers and addicts, according to human rights groups. The government refutes that, releasing data on May 2 showing nearly 4,600 people have been killed in police anti-drug operations and homicides found to be drug-related.

During Monday’s hearing, Rep. Rodolfo Farinas, the majority floor leader, asked Alejano repeatedly if he had personal knowledge of allegations he made in his complaint.

Alejano said he had no personal knowledge as a witness, but that he had personal knowledge as a complainant based on official records, affidavits of witnesses and Duterte’s public pronouncements. Several lawmakers pointed to that distinction to say Alejano’s allegations were hearsay.

Forty-two of 49 committee members then voted to declare the complaint insufficient in substance.

A frustrated Alejano told reporters that he’ll discuss with his colleagues from the Magdalo party whether they should file their own complaint before the ICC.

He said it was clear that the impeachment procedure “was railroaded” and that the House “is not independent.”

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/16/1700541/duterte-admits-allegations-could-be-raised-intl-court

“Islamic State Acts of Genocide” — Almost 10,000 Yazidis killed or kidnapped — But true scale of horror may never be known

May 10, 2017

More than 3,000 people were executed out of a total of 10,000 killed in matter of days in 2014, a new study finds

By Lizzie Dearden
The Independent

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‘Devil worshippers’: torture inflicted on the Yazidi people by Isis includes rape, stealing children and forced conversions – researchers say the true scale of suffering cannot be charted

The true scale of the genocide inflicted on Yazidis by Isis during its brutal sweep through Iraq may never be known as thousands remain in captivity, researchers have warned.

A new study published in weekly journal PLOS Medicine concluded that an estimated 9,900 members of the ethnic minority were killed or captured in a matter of days in August 2014.

Of that figure 3,100 were murdered, with almost half executed by gunshot, beheading or being burned alive, while the rest died from starvation, dehydration or injuries during the Isis siege on Mount Sinjar.

Researchers estimated that 6,800 other Yazidis were kidnapped in the brutal campaign, with over a third still missing at the time of the survey.

Lead author Dr Valeria Cetorelli warned that the toll may even be higher because of the reliance of survivors to report deaths and disappearances.

“Because the attack was so indiscriminate, in many cases entire families were captured together if they didn’t escape in time,” she told The Independent.

“It is possible that no one managed to escape, so there are no survivors and zero possibility of being included in our survey.

Remains of more than 20 Yazidis found in Iraq mass grave

“At least one household member needed to survive to report the killing and kidnappings of others.”

While adult men were most likely to have been executed by militants, almost all of the victims who died after fleeing up Mount Sinjar were children under the age of 15, the research found.

Isis’s punishing siege, seeing tens of thousands trapped without food, water or shelter in 50C heat, sparked the first US airstrikes against the jihadi group in Iraq, alongside British aid drops.

The operation, and an effort by Kurdish forces on the ground, let Yazidis flee through a safe corridor through Syria to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region, where more than 300,000 remain while others stayed in Sinjar or moved onwards to Syria and Turkey.

The study, conducted by researchers in the US, UK, Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan, found that children have been disproportionately affected by the genocide.

As well as making up the vast majority of deaths on Mount Sinjar – constituting 93 per cent of deaths – they are also the least likely to have escaped Isis captivity.

Dr Cetorelli, who is also a research officer at LSE and a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said escapees documented torture, sex slavery, forced religious conversion and recruitment as child soldiers.

“We heard several accounts of girls being gifted or sold to Isis fighters as sex slaves and the boys being forced into training camps,” she added.

“More than one third of the kidnapped are still missing and it wasn’t possible to determine whether they are still alive or not.

“This is really an ongoing genocide because thousands of people are still in captivity.”

Several Isis propaganda videos have featured Yazidi child soldiers, while the terrorist group has also used magazines in attempts to justify the taking of thousands of women and girls as sex slaves.

Researchers said families who failed to escape were rounded up en masse and divided up as part of the “systematic” genocide that saw men and boys above the age of 12 separated and massacred if they refused to convert to Islam.

A woman who was 17 when Isis overran her village told how her 16-year-old brother was killed and nine-year-old brother enlisted as a child soldier, before she was kidnapped as a sex slave and raped by nine militants.

Dalal is among those who eventually escaped but thousands of women and children remain in Isis captivity almost three years after they were abducted, with some killing themselves.

Researchers, who questioned 1,300 households of displaced Yazidis living in Iraqi Kurdistan, said suffering continues despite Iraqi government forces driving Isis back out of the region.

“It’s almost three years since the attack and the people are still displaced,” Dr Cetorelli said.

The Yazidi children of Isis’ training camps

“The Sinjar region has been taken back from Isis but it has been almost completely destroyed so it will be not possible for them to go back for a long time.

“The situation gets worse and worse every day for those living in camps.”

The UN formally recognised Isis’s campaign as genocide in June 2016, saying the situation was “ongoing”, but a lack of formal research on the death toll has hampered international action.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria found that after classifying Yazidis as “devil worshippers” because of their links to other religions and mysticism, Isis “sought to erase” the population.

It said the group used killings, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture, inhuman treatment and forcible transfer to further its aim, as well as the imposition of measures to prevent Yazidi children from being born, the forced conversion of adults and kidnapping children to be brought up by Isis militants.

The UN said “there can be no impunity” for the crimes, urging the Security Council to refer the case to the International Criminal Court or a tribunal, as well as protecting the long-persecuted Yazidi minority.

Dr Cetorelli urged the international community not merely to focus on the events of 2014, but to help the survivors and attempt to rescue remaining captives.

“Three years ago there was a lot of attention but it’s still ongoing and the international community must retain its attention,” she added.

“We hope that these estimates will support a formal genocide investigation to hold the perpetrators to account.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-islamic-state-yazidi-sex-slaves-genocide-sinjar-death-toll-number-kidnapped-study-un-lse-a7726991.html

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© Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP (file photo) | Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard on Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square on January 25, 2016.

Relatives of a Christian woman who was killed in the bombing of Cairo's main Coptic cathedral carry her casked in Cairo on Monday.
Relatives of a Christian woman who was killed in the bombing of Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral carry her casked in Cairo on December 14, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
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Members of the special police forces stand guard to secure the area around St. Mark"s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral after an explosion inside the cathedral in Cairo

The building bombed in December 2016 is next to St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral, seat of the church’s pope. Reuters Photo

A Christian employee at Cairo's Coptic Cathedral checks for damage from the blast after an explosion inside the cathedral in Cairo

The interior of the church, where Christians had gathered, was also hit in the explosion. AP photo

Image result for Reina nightclub attack, photos

Islamist gunman Abdulgadir Masharipov killed 39 people  in the Reina nightclub shooting on January 1, 2017, in Istanbul. © Dogan News Agency/AFP/File

 (December 11, 2016)

David Dosha, the priest of the Church of Mart Shmoni, located in the Christian Iraqi town of Bartella. (Safin Hamed/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

An Iraqi Christian forces member lights a candle at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on October 30, 2016 in the town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), 30 kms east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. (AFP/ SAFIN HAMED)
An Iraqi Christian forces member lights a candle at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on October 30, 2016 in the town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), 30 kms east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. (AFP/ SAFIN HAMED)
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26 July 2016
A photo of Priest Jacques Hamel taken from the website of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray parish84 year-old Father Jacques Hamel was giving morning Mass when the Islamist attackers stormed his church. AFP

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The Isis jihadist group

Duterte seeks to play dealmaker in South China Sea disputes — Seeking favour with China? — Will the Philippines and other ASEAN nations win or lose?

May 7, 2017

The brash Philippine leader likely will use his chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to wrest concessions from China during this month’s meeting with China’s president

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President Rodrigo Duterte (C) presides over the plenary session among ASEAN leaders, including Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Some ASEAN leaders said they were “railroaded” by Duterte. Photos from ASEAN

By Richard Heydarian
South China Morning Post

The Philippines’ controversial leader, Rodrigo Duterte, got his first crack at global leadership by chairing the recently concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Manila late last month.

During the three-day mega-event, the Filipino president suavely hosted his fellow Southeast Asian leaders, who came to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the regional body’s founding. Southeast Asian leaders discussed a range of key challenges facing the region, from terrorism to transnational crime and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Duterte wasted no chance to use his rotational chairmanship of the Asean to defend his controversial war on drugs, which has come under heavy criticism from Western powers and international media.

“[R]elations [with Dialogue Partners] can be made more productive and constructive if the valued principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of Asean Member States is observed,” he said. The remarks were aimed, unmistakably, at foreign powers that have been critical of Duterte’s human rights record.

This emerging transactional approach is part of Duterte’s ‘art of the deal’ vis-à-vis the South China Sea disputes.

Standing before a largely sympathetic audience composed mostly of autocratic leaders with sketchy human rights records, the Filipino president called upon Western powers to “learn to respect” Asean nations and treat them as “sovereign equals”.

Just days earlier, human rights lawyer Jude Sabio sought to initiate a criminal case at the International Criminal Court against Duterte, accusing him of committing crimes against humanity. The European Union – and potentially even the United States – is expected to scale back economic aid to, and adopt punitive sanctions against, Manila, including raising tariff rates on Philippine exports.

In this Monday, May 1, 2017, photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, receives a hat from captain Hu Jie of the Chinese navy’s missile destroyer Changchun during the ship’s goodwill visit in Davao city in the southern Philippines. Yu Wei/Xinhua via AP

Yet, Duterte stood his ground and even promoted his signature war on drugs, which has struck a chord across the region. During the summit, Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah pushed for closer bilateral cooperation. Months earlier, Indonesian police chief Budi Waseso openly suggested a Duterte-style approach to the drug menace in his country.

Several Southeast Asian countries, especially the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, are also deeply worried about the prospects of the establishment of a “distant caliphate” by the regional affiliates of the so-called Islamic State. The Mindanao-based Abu Sayyaf group, in particular, has rapidly expanded its geographical reach – as well as kidnapping and ransom operations – in maritime Southeast Asia’s porous borders.

 Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders link arms during the opening ceremony of the Asean summit in Manila last month. Photo: Reuters

During the summit, member states agreed to step up their joint effort to combat transnational crime as well as terrorism. The highlight of the summit, however, was the constant back-and-forth negotiations over the Asean’s stance on the South China Sea disputes, which has pitted China against several member states, particularly Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Months earlier, former Philippine foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay threatened to disrupt increasingly warm relations between Duterte and China by claiming that several regional states mentioned the Philippines’ arbitration case as a potential agenda for Asean.

In particular, some senior officials, especially in the Philippines, have suggested that the arbitration award could be used as a reference point for drafting a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea.

During the summit, Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged the Asean to “solve [the disputes] immediately” and come up with a “common stand” on the issue. But true to his earlier promise, Duterte refused to raise the Philippines’ landmark arbitration case against China, which boycotted the legal proceedings and flatly rejected the final award.

 The Philippine navy frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar anchors near Thitu Island during a visit by Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to the Spratly island on April 21. Photo: AFP

More surprisingly, however, Duterte vetoed proposals by some regional states, particularly Vietnam, to mention China’s reclamation activities and the increasing militarisation of the maritime disputes.

The term “serious concern”, which repeatedly appeared in previous Asean statements, was also dropped from the final statement. By all measures, this was a slam-dunk diplomatic victory for China, which prefers to manage the disputes on a bilateral, rather than multilateral, basis.

“Your president has defined the outcome … already,” a dispirited diplomat, likely from Vietnam, told the Philippine media. “Some are frustrated over the turn of events.” A visibly frustrated Filipino diplomat complained how his country ended up “being lumped together with Cambodia and Laos in protecting Chinese interests [in Asean] at all costs”.

The Filipino leader, however, promised to finalise a framework of a code of conduct before the end of the year. Still, he came under a flurry of criticism at home and abroad for taking a soft position on the South China Sea disputes, much to the delight of China.

In all likelihood, timing and national interest played a key role in shaping Duterte’s position as the chairman of Asean. Since he is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping this month for the Belt and Road Initiative summit, the Filipino president was more than eager to avoid any diplomatic conflict with Beijing.

During his meeting with Xi, Duterte will likely seek concessions in exchange for preventing Asean from adopting a tough and robust position on the South China Sea disputes. He could not only ask for larger Chinese infrastructure investments, especially in his home island of Mindanao, but also negotiate a modus vivendi, which will allow Filipino fishermen and military to gain unimpeded access to disputed land features and resources. This emerging transactional approach is part of Duterte’s “art of the deal” vis-à-vis the South China Sea disputes.

Richard Heydarian is a Manila-based academic and author of Asia’s New Battlefield: US, China & the Struggle for Western Pacific

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2093047/opinion-duterte-seeks-play-dealmaker-south-china-sea

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NYT, Washington Post condemn Trump for Duterte invite

May 2, 2017
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while addressing the media following the conclusion of the 30th ASEAN Leaders’ Summit in Manila, Philippines, Saturday, April 29, 2017. Duterte suggested Saturday to his American counterpart to back out from an intensifying standoff with North Korea not in surrender but to avoid risking a nuclear “holocaust” that could affect Asia immensely. AP/Bullit Marquez
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MANILA, Philippines — Two American newspapers on Tuesday slammed the invitation of US President Donald Trump for President Rodrigo Duterte to visit the White House, saying that the American leader should instead condemn the brutality the Philippine leader’s war on drugs.

In separate scathing editorials, The New York Times and The Washington Post condemned Trump’s invitation to Duterte, which was given during their conversation late Saturday night (Manila time) right after Manila hosted the leaders of Southeast Asian nations for a regional summit.

The Times said that Duterte was not a man who should be welcomed to the White House considering the number of killings that has transpired under his rule in Davao City during his time as its mayor and now that he is the president of the Philippines, and his insult directed at former President Barack Obama.

“The mayhem got so bad that last week a Filipino lawyer formally asked the International Criminal Court to charge Mr. Duterte and 11 officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity over the extrajudicial killings of nearly 10,000 people over the past three decades,” The Times said.

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“During the last administration, Mr. Duterte disrespected President Barack Obama by calling him the “son of a whore” and threatened to abandon his country’s alliance with the United States for one with China.”

It concluded: “This is obviously not a man who should be welcomed to the White House.”

The Times, which has been very critical of Duterte since he assumed the Philippine presidency in June last year, said that the decision to invite Duterte was against American values and would erode its reputation as a “moral compass.”

“Like so much else under President Trump, though, this idea has now been turned on its head and people are worried about the very survival of the values on which America built its reputation and helped construct an entire international system, including the United Nations. The latest example is Mr. Trump’s decision to invite Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, to the White House,” its editorial said.

Duterte has been critical of the US for raising human rights concerns over the war on drugs. In a visit to China last year, Duterte announced that he was separating from the US, a declaration that his spokespersons later clarified as the president merely emphasizing the Philippines’ shift to an independent foreign policy.

“I have separated from them so I will be dependent on you (China) for a long time but don’t worry we will also help,” Duterte said at the same venue.

America’s reputation at stake

The newspaper further said that although the US must work with its allies, Trump’s uncritical embrace of those who showed the least regard for human rights, rule of law and democracy would undermine America’s reputation.

“American presidents must work with foreign leaders of all kinds to advance the national interest. But Mr. Trump erodes America’s reputation when he uncritically embraces those who show the least regard for human rights, rule of law and democracy,” it said.

Although the Philippines is an ally, the newspaper says, Duterte is not a democratic leader nor a worthy ally because of the killings which have risen exponentially since his assumption of the presidency.

The Philippine government has denied that there are extrajudicial killings and has insisted that it upholds human rights. It has questioned the reports of up to 9,000 deaths attributed to the drug war.

The newspaper explained that Trump’s fondness for Duterte could be because of authoritarian tendencies and his loathing of checks and balances of the government. It mentioned Trump’s admiration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin as evidence of this tendency.

The Post said in its editorial: “A subtle U.S. policy would recognize the need for U.S.-Philippine cooperation without endorsing the contemptible offenses of the current president. Instead, President Trump has offered Mr. Duterte an unqualified embrace that effectively blesses his murderous campaign. In so doing, Mr. Trump sends Asians the message that there is no difference between China’s amoral foreign policy and that of this U.S. administration.”

Implied endorsement of drug war

The Washington newspaper also criticized the Trump White House for saying that “the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs.” It said that saying the Philippines was “fighting very hard” amounted to saying that Duterte’s tactics have been appropriate and necessary.

“‘Fighting hard’ is one way — the wrong way — to describe the wanton killing by police and vigilantes of accused dealers and users. It implies that Mr. Duterte’s tactics are appropriate or necessary, which they are not. Mr. Trump ought to have shunned the Filipino leader until he reined in those practices. Instead, he invited him to the White House” The Post said.

It added that the invitation to Duterte was needed by Trump’s administration to counter China instead of to mobilize the region against North Korea over which the Philippines did not have any influence.

The Post also admitted the complex challenge Duterte posed to the American government. He was a democratically elected leader of an Asian ally needed to counter Chinese expansionism in the West Philippine Sea, yet is the “author’ of the extrajudicial killings of more than 7,000 people.

The Times has been very critical of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. It has published several articles detailing the government’s brutal crackdown against illegal drugs which has claimed thousands of lives. It has also regular issued excoriating editorials against the Philippine president, calling on the international community to condemn him and even to impose trade sanctions on the Philippines. In retaliation, Duterte has cursed the newspaper and told it to cease publication.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/02/1696020/nyt-washington-post-condemn-trump-duterte-invite