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‘US, terrorists meet in Afghanistan’ December 8, 2011


December 7, 2011

by legitgov

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‘US, terrorists meet in Afghanistan’ [Yeah, but no one could tell the difference.] 07 Dec 2011 The head of the Iran Majlis (parliament) Human Rights Sub-Committee says there are documents to prove that American authorities have official meetings with terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Referring to the explosions targeting Afghan Muslims on Ashura, Zohreh Elahian said that the Western occupiers are responsible for terrorist attacks in the country. “Majlis Human Rights Sub-Committee condemns such inhuman measures and urges the international community not to remain silent in the face of such incidents,” Fars News Agency quoted her as saying on Wednesday.

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Violence Flares as Damascus ‘Positive’ Towards Observers December 6, 2011

Syria said Monday it has responded “positively” to an Arab League demand to let league observers into the country. Meanwhile, activists in the central city of Homs say militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad kidnapped and killed 34 civilians Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said circumstances of their deaths were not immediately clear but activists and residents in several districts reported a spate of kidnappings in anti-Assad neighborhoods since Sunday.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told reporters that Syria has informed the Arab League that it will agree to the observer plan with conditions.

He says Syria requests the agreement be signed in Damascus and that Syria’s suspension from the league and proposed sanctions be cancelled once the agreement is signed.

But analysts are wary of Syria’s intentions.

Khattar Abou Diab, a political scientist at the University of Paris, says Damascus has been playing a lengthy game of “cat-and-mouse” with the Arab League.

He says that Syria has been creating one delay after another, offering to sign one minute, then not to sign the next minute, before imposing new conditions. He says that Syria’s condition that the accord be signed in Damascus looks like yet another delay tactic.

The Arab League’s proposed sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes on top Syrian leaders and a ban on flights to Damascus. Arab ministers agreed Saturday in Qatar to impose sanctions on 19 Syrian officials, including key members of President Assad’s family.

Despite Damascus’ positive reaction to the Arab observers’ plan, government troops continued their offensive in many parts of the country.

The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdelrahman told VOA Monday that security forces shot dead five civilians in Homs.  Another person was killed near Daraa, while a man shot by security forces days ago died of his wounds Monday in the village of Talbisa.

The rights group also saysthat army defectors killed three security force members and one police officer in Dael, near the southern flashpoint of Daraa.

The violence comes after at least 35 people were killed Sunday, mostly in Homs province, during attacks on residents of protest hubs and in fighting with army defectors.

Meanwhile, Tayssir Zoghbi, a top Syrian customs official, announced that a free trade agreement with neighboring Turkey was being suspended as Turkey has taken a hardline stance towards the Syrian government.

He says that the free trade zone between Turkey and Syria is being suspended and that Damascus is imposing a 30 percent customs duty on goods coming from Turkey.

Turkish leaders recently called on President Assad to resign and have upped the pressure on Damascus by vowing strict economic sanctions.

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UN Human Rights Council Condemns Syria December 3, 2011

The U.N. Human Rights Council has strongly condemned “the continued widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights” in Syria where the government is entering its ninth month of a bloody crackdown on dissenters.

During an emergency session convened Friday in Geneva, the U.N. rights body overwhelmingly adopted a resolution that will establish a special investigator to probe human rights abuses in Syria.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, told the Human Rights Council’s 47 member states that more than 4,000 people have been killed since the crackdown began in mid-March, including 307 children. She said tens of thousands of people have been arrested and some 14,000 remain in Syrian jails.

Earlier this week, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry delivered its initial report, which concluded that Syria’s security and military forces have committed crimes against humanity. Pillay urged the U.N. Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court at The Hague and said the international community needs to urgently act to protect the Syrian people.

“The Syrian authorities’ continual ruthless repression, if not stopped now, can drive the country into a full-fledged civil war,” said Pillay. “In light of the manifest failure of the Syrian authorities to protect their citizens, the international community needs to take urgent and effective measures to protect the Syrian people.”

In a vote of 37 in favor, four against and six abstentions, the Human Rights Council strongly condemned the violence and established a special rapporteur to investigate the situation of human rights in Syria.

Russia, China, Ecuador and Cuba were the four members who voted against the measure, while all four of the Human Rights Council’s Arab members were among the states supporting the resolution.

The resolution stops short of explicitly referring the commission’s report on Syria to the U.N. Security Council — which could then refer the matter to the International Criminal Court — but it does charge the U.N. Secretary-General with taking “appropriate action” and transmitting the report to “all U.N. relevant bodies” which could include the General Assembly or Security Council.

Speaking before the vote, Syria’s envoy in Geneva, Faysal Khabbaz Hamwi, dismissed the draft resolution as “one-sided” and “biased.” He urged members not to vote for it, saying it would not help the Syrian people.

“In addition to the false message they are addressing to the situation in my country, we would have hoped to have a more balanced draft resolution that would call on ceasing all forms of armed violence in my country,” said a translator on Hamwi’s behalf. “We would have liked the draft resolution to call on all sections of the Syrian people to start an effective, real national dialogue to put an end to the crisis. Nevertheless, it did not refer to that whatsoever.”

As the death toll continues to climb, international pressure on Syria has been intensifying, with the European Union, the United States and the Arab League all separately sanctioning the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

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Number of N.J. residents receiving food stamps doubled in last four years November 30, 2011


November 29, 2011

by legitgov

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Number of N.J. residents receiving food stamps doubled in last four years 27 Nov 2011 The number of New Jersey residents receiving food stamps has doubled in the past four years and is at its highest level in more than a decade, state and federal data show. As of September, the most recent data released by the state Department of Human Services, more than 400,000 households and nearly 822,000 people were enrolled in the food stamp program, meaning nearly one out of every 10 residents in New Jersey receives assistance.

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UN Investigator Calls On N. Korea to Improve Human Rights November 26, 2011

The United Nations’ human rights investigator for North Korea is speaking out about the treatment of prisoners in the country, days after the General Assembly’s human rights committee adopted a resolution condemning the nation for its human rights policies.

A record number of nations voted in favor of a non-binding resolution condemning North Korea’s human rights record on Monday. Speaking Friday in Seoul, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on North Korean Human Rights, Marzuki Darusman, says this indicates the international community’s growing concern with the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, the North’s official name.

Darusman repeated the resolution’s requests.

“I urge the government of the DPRK to overhaul the prison system, the criminal justice system and related detention policies in camps that give rise to a plethora of abuses, including torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” said Darusman.

Pyongyang has dismissed the new resolution as a smear campaign orchestrated by the United States.

Human rights groups say hundreds of thousands of North Koreans languish in labor camps.

The North has repeatedly rejected U.N. requests to send Darusman and his predecessor there to verify conditions.

During his visit to South Korea, Darusman spoke with government officials, human rights campaigners and North Korean refugees. His findings will appear in a report to the U.N. General Assembly next march.

The special rapporteur also called for both Koreas to set political differences aside in order to resume stalled reunions of famililes separated since the Korean War. And Darusman urged the international community to send humanitarian assistance to the North to help offset a worsening food shortage.

Daursman commended South Korea for its North Korean refugee resettlement program. There are currently more than 22,000 defectors living in the South. But Darusman noted that many more escapees face forcible repatriation, called refoulement, which he says is another human rights violation.  

“I call on other neighboring countries to protect and treat all people fleeing the DPRK humanely and respectful of non-refoulement,” said Darusman.

Human rights activists and North Korean defectors say China is the greatest violator of the U.N. convention on the treatment of refugees.

Darusman was careful not to point the finger at Beijing during his speech, but says he has been in contact with Chinese officials and hopes to engage them in talks about the human rights of North Korean escapees.

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