ODVV Statements at 27th Session of the Human Rights Council

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ODVV Statements at 27th Session of the Human Rights Council

Item 4: Human Rights Situations that Require the Council's AttentionToday in the Middle East region we are seeing tragic conditions where occupation and aggression are deemed legitimate and millions of humans are driven from their homes and are refugees, and furthermore many are struggling with poverty, war and ignorance. Therefore the accomplishment of real peace requires establishment of national and international order on the basis of human dignity and recognition of rights of people to adequate material and moral life, and creation of mechanisms to provide these rights. In the World against Violence and Extremism resolution, all member states committed to the contents of the UN Charter, condemned attacks against civilians, holy places and cultural centers, and a global unity for the fight against sectarian, religious and cultural violence, and condemned hatred caused by nationalism and exploitation of religion. But unfortunately today, and after the adoption of the resolution, the most fundamental of human rights are being violated in parts of the Middle East, particularly Syria, Iraq and Palestine.

The violation of security and fundamental rights of civilians in the shadows of the disproportionate war in Gaza

Up until 17 August 2014, in occupied Palestine over 2016 people have been killed that include 456 women and 250 women, over 10,000 injured and thousands made homeless, infrastructures destroyed that include 107 hospitals, 11,855 homes destroyed or seriously damaged, 102 hits on medical staff that included 19 martyrdoms. Missiles hitting UNRWA schools and news agency buildings resulting in the deaths of 11 journalists, all of which are registered. Despite this, according to UNOCHA official figures, 67 Israelis have died in the same period of time, only 3 of which were civilians.
The one sided support of some international institutions and governments for these violent acts on the pretext of self defense and the unbalanced approach of international organizations to Israel’s human rights violations, clearly indicate contradictions in their approach with international laws.

Article 51(6) of Geneva Convention states that attacking civilians even in self defense is prohibited, and there is clear and undeniable evidence that Israel is fully violating human rights and international law.

According to the ICC document, Israel has violated article 7(2) of the Rome Statute, which is one of the examples of crimes against humanity.

Systematic violation of human rights by ISIS
In Syria, terrorists have turned government buildings and religious centers into prisons and their own offices. Universities continue to be closed, because according to the armed groups women get education in them, therefore they must remain closed.

Terror groups execute people in public, and wreak terror among the population. Most of the shops in towns occupied by terrorists are shut, and only a few shops and grocery stores remain open.
ISIS associated groups destroy all religious and holy centers and destroy or loot cultural heritage, because they see these as contrary to Islamic teachings. The serious measures of ISIS in the establishment of a marriage office for the sexual exploitation of single women and widows has caused the criticisms of many human rights and women rights groups.

Lack of attention towards the International Process on Global Counter-Terrorism Cooperation

In Iraq, when ISIS terrorists asked the families in Mosul to give them a list of all their single girls, most of them were forced to flee the city.
The IS ideology is fundamentally anti-Islam and anti-human rights. From human rights activist forcing women to marry IS fighters is tantamount to sexual rape.
In the name of the “implementation of Islamic Sharia” ISIS committed and continues to commit barbaric killings of the Shia, Sunni, Christian and Yezidi. Sexual rape, propaganda on the internet, causing terror in public opinion by publishing the beheadings and mass executions of Iraqi prisoners of war, declaration of war on Lebanon, the use of chemicals and radioactive materials, killing of civilians and police officers, forcing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from their homes, mass disappearances of people, kidnapping of councilor and diplomatic officials of foreign missions, are all some of the horrific and brutal crimes that are committed by this extremist terror group in Iraq.
The actions of this terrorist group from the legal perspective including ethnic cleansing, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism, are completely identifiable. And there are international documents for each of these cases, therefore all IS members are internationally pursuable.

Fortunately after three years of military and organized campaigns of terror committed by ISIS and other groups supporting it in the region, particularly in Syria and also the recent months lightning attack and advances of this group in northern Iraq, and its continued efforts to occupy more regions of the country, the silence of the international community was finally broken and the Security Council issued Resolution 2170 against ISIS and listed six of its members under sanction. This belated Resolution is a Resolution that after years of ISIS activities in Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Iraq, was finally issued by the UN Security Council, and this is while American fighter jets started their air campaigns in northern Iraq a few days before the Resolution was issued.

But there are many unanswered questions regarding the belated reaction of the international community towards ISIS and regional terrorism

Wasn’t ISIS seen as a threat to the region by the Security Council prior to America’s bombing campaign against ISIS positions?

Why did America in a sudden turn launched attacks against ISIS on the pretext of defending Yezidi and Christian minorities? Hadn’t Shia and Sunnis been the victims of ISIS from a while ago? Will this sudden and selective action of America bring about the basis for regional religious differences and conflicts? Will America benefit from the existence of religious disputes and conflicts in the Middle East?

Would it have been possible for ISIS to become this powerful in the region without financial support from abroad?

How can we believe that Saudi Arabia and Qatar as the richest financial backers of ISIS are under the threat of UN and American imposed sanctions?

How is it that the European members of the Security Council adopted a Resolution that states any form of direct or indirect financial aid to ISIS is prohibited and yet there is no mention of the same European countries purchasing oil from ISIS?

What justification is there for the presence of Europeans fighting for ISIS?
British, German, Norwegian, Belgian, Dutch terrorists, among many others from western countries, step in front of cameras without their masks and call for recruits to join them from across the world, to an extent where the British MI5 was forced to form special investigation groups to identify the British members of ISIS.

Why did the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons Organization, the International Court of Justice, the Persian Gulf States Cooperation Council, Interpol, and particularly NATO all of which were actively present in the American lead war against Iraq, remained silent and only expressed concern and issued statements once in a while?

Unfortunately the timing of the adoption of the Resolution 2170, once again showed that a document is approved in the Security Council only when the White House wills it.

While expressing happiness for the approval of Resolution 2170, the ODVV condemns in the strongest terms extremist terrorism and its expansion in the region particularly ISIS actions in Iraq and Syria, and Israel’s crimes committed in Gaza, which are all violations of human dignity, human rights and humanitarian law. ODVV believes that the eradication of terrorism and extremism in the region is conditional to the paying of special attention to the root causes of these movements and the accountability of a number of actors of the region with regards to provision of financial resources and insecurity and instability management in the region. Thus ODVV believes that full halt of states backing of extremist terror groups, particularly ISIS, is one of the priorities for the provision of peace and justice in the present conditions. This Organization deems ISIS actions as equal to the definition of genocide that is stated in article 1 of the Genocide Convention, and calls for effective actions being taken including the referral of ISIS to ICC.

While reiterating on respect for human rights, legal principles that provide stability, calm and peace in the region, recommends extensive and active international cooperation with the role playing of the IOC and the UN and uniting of regional governments, to prevent these actions which are weakening the image of Islam that will undermine peace and justice among nations, religions and cultures.

The ODVV stresses that NGOs networks and intellectuals must fulfill their professional responsibilities and try to stop the actions of ISIS and its supporters, Israel’s continuation of crimes in Gaza, and to participate for establishment of peace and stability in the region and guaranteeing the rights of the Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian nations.
Item 5 : Comprehensive Economic Sanctions against Iran, an Illegal Violation of International Human Rights Law1- From the outset of the Iranian revolution, Iranians have been at the receiving end of economic sanctions by the USA and its western allies. The greater resilience of Iran prompted the wider and more extensive imposition of sanctions , the purpose of which were to deliberately cause the greatest harm possible to the people in order to break their resolve and bring them back under the political and economical control of the USA.
2- The adverse effects of these sanctions particularly on the vulnerable sections of society, have been well documented by numerous reports and a variety of credible sources including the UN agencies. . The very stringent comprehensive measures taken in the last few years have exacerbated that effect on the poor, the sick, women and children. The human rights to life, food, development, health and … were all violated by such measures. The use of economic coercion without United Nations’ authorisation, by the USA and its allies with the intention of changing the policies of the country are illegal intervention and violate the UN sacred principle of sovereignty of the state.
3- The sharp increase in the use of economic sanctions and the blatant violation of human rights and the suffering of large parts of the world population thereof, was a grave concern of the international community which required immediate action against such violations.
4- The numerous reports on the adverse impact of the unilateral coercive measures did not translate itself into any concrete mechanism for assessing such impact in order to hold the violators to account. Resolution 24/14 frustratingly allude to this fact and hence required the Advisory Committee to facilitate the “first step” of such mechanism.
5- Although, ODVV welcomes the renewed impetus for taking such first step , it believes that the devastating economic sanctions on Iran can not wait the slow UN process of achieving a future capacity to hold the violators to account through the suggested and very likely adopted mechanism of the UPR. Despite the latest negotiations between Iran and the group of 5+1 and partial agreements, there has been no relief from any of the imposed economic sanctions. Considering that the HRC and OHCHR have ample evidence on violation of human rights by unilateral coercive measures, it is right and proper for this Council to demand the cessation of these measures on Iran. Not doing so is contrary to the promotion of HR to development and good governance, welfare of women and the right of the child and the pursued principles of eradication of poverty and the ensued social disorder.
6- ODVV dispute and repudiate a number of arguments that may have prevented the Council from outright condemnation of these measures and hence the call for lifting of economic sanctions on Iran.
7- The western block that have imposed the sanctions (and boycotted all proceedings on this issue), dispute the illegality of the unilateral coercive measures. At the heart of such claim is the notion of sovereign right to free trade. Mr. Marc Bossuyat in his report of 2000, gives credence to the fact that every nation has the right to trade or refuse to trade with whomever they wish to do so. This is an acceptable proposition but only in the context of trade. Economic sanctions are not about trade. Trade are the instrument of the intentions to cause harm to another nation, (or as Mr. Haliday in the working group 2014 said “sanctions are there to kill just like in a war”).
8- Even in the context of trade, if we accept the principle that in market economy a party to the trade can take any trade related action to the detriment of the other party, then must also accept that there exist a general principle of trade that such action will constitute conspiracy and considered illegal if it was working with others as a group (which is still defined as unilateral coercive measure) in order to ruin the trade of another. This trade principle has manifested itself in various domestic legislations in the field of economic and business torts (including the anti-trust laws) of the very same STATES- proponents of market economy- which interestingly enough are the perpetrators of the economic sanctions.
9- Furthermore the experience of the Cuban sanctions and the subsequent concluding reports, rendered the comprehensive economic sanctions by a dominant trading state as violating the human rights laws. This can also be the case when the domestic legislations are intended to harm the human rights of the people of the targeted nation, transcending the argument of jurisdictional responsibility.
10- Although a number of conventions require states to observe human rights of the people under their jurisdiction, this does not exonerate them from their responsibilities under other international instruments that require them to do so. Indeed transcendental state responsibility have been well established for a long time, suffice to mention the case of Trail Smelter of 1933.

11- The preliminary report by the Advisory Committee (A/HRC/13/CRP.2) excludes the question of illegality of the unilateral coercive measures. We concur with that decision BUT BECAUSE we think that the illegality of the unilateral coercive measures in the field of human rights has been settled and put beyond any doubt by the Nicaragua Cases. The resolution 24/14 which was carried by the HRC was adamant that the UCM are contrary to Human Rights. Objections by defeated opposition that are also the sanction-imposing states, does not make the measures less illegal.

12- ODVV is encouraged by the vigour of the HRC and the Advisory Committee to respond to the demands made by the majority of states to establish the long awaited mechanism to assess and hold violator to account, but we do not think that UPR is the right mechanism to carry such an important task. Comprehensive sanctions that by all accounts have contributed to the death of millions of people, requires much more robust mechanism than the “cooperation rather than confrontation” approach of the UPR. The devastating adverse effects of sanctions can take roots and manifest themselves after the first few months and can last for decades. Whereas a UCM mechanism that intends to “promote accountability” which is in fact different from “hold violator accountable” within the mechanism of UPR, would take years of pursuance in order to achieve such a promotion.

13- The most ludicrous justification for imposing sanctions is the claim of violation of Human Rights by the targeted state. This is in exact contrast to their argument of jurisdiction and definitely negate any recourse to the notion of counter-measure, and at whatever level the sanctions are, they will bound to be disproportionate to the claim and inevitably illegal. If a state considers itself responsible towards the human rights of the targeted state to the extent that it takes the UCM measures, it cannot deny responsibility after the imposition of sanctions based on the jurisdictional argument. Legal principle of estoppel would not allow it. Therefore that state remains responsible for the human rights violation of the targeted state, (including its own induced violations). Any justification based on the belief that promotion of greater freedom of speech or assembly can be done or should be down by depriving the same people from work, health or life, is beyond any rational comprehension. The interrelation of Human Rights principles will definitely bar such action.

The sanction imposing States have been wreaking decades of death and misery on other nations, so they should be hold accountable for the sufferings of millions of people. It would be much more logical to create a stronger mechanism within the UPR that can hold sanction imposing countries accountable and achieve the desired result in a shorter period of time than the decades of death and destruction.

It has been the official policy of the states imposing sanctions on Iran (as often reiterated by their politicians) to disable the country and by analogy attack every human rights of the nation from food, sanitation, health, work and development. Whatever the arguments on legality, jurisdiction, countermeasure or proportionality, the prolonged comprehensive economic sanctions on Iran – on all accounts- have been deemed illegal.

The duty of the HRC and the OHCHR is to hold accountable and condemn violators of human rights. They have vociferously and rightly – as this organization did – condemn the cowardly abduction of school girls in Nigeria. Does the death of thousands (regardless of how high or low the figures maybe) merit less condemnation? Is it not violation of so many human rights principles inflicted on so many victims, an affront to the goals set by these offices as it is to the core of the international human rights norms?

ODVV believes and call upon the HRC to initiate a process for the establishment of a court that can settle all the above-raised issues concerning sanctions. Imposing sanctions, framework and their duration, must be the remit of such decision-binding international court.

Item 7 : Violation of human rights in occupied territories

Recognizing Gaza Strip as a Federal part of Independent Palestine to Pursue Israel Genocidesin cooperation with NEDA institute
The concepts of war crimes, genocide and collective punishment are famous concepts which are regularly used in the past decade for Israeli actions against Gaza strip. There are lots of documents and resolutions drafted by various international organizations and Individuals which proved all kinds of violations of international laws in the "Solitary confinement of Gaza" during past years by Israel. Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza in September 2005, and declared itself no longer to be in occupation of the Strip. However, as it retains control of Gaza's airspace and coastline, it continues to be designated as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip by the United Nations General Assembly and some countries and various human rights organizations.
Now there are some key missing links between all documentation in the dramatic scenario of Gaza. It is not clear, in which international laws, the relationship between Israel and Gaza strip is defined. How are the rights of people in Gaza strip recognized and considered in international laws? Who is the consistent and authoritative reference for the deadly events imposed by Israel on Gaza strip?

There are 2 main approaches to the relation of Israel to Gaza strip:
Approach A) Supporters of this approach claim that Gaza strip is the part of Israel authority from international viewpoints or at least this region has no owner. Then the events in this region should be defined in the circle of civil and internal issues. The Israeli position is that Gaza is no longer occupied, in as much as Israel does not exercise effective control or authority over any land or institutions in the Gaza Strip. The ex-Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni stated in January, 2008: “Israel got out of Gaza. It dismantled its settlements there. No Israeli soldiers were left there after the disengagement. Israel also notes that Gaza does not belong to any sovereign state.
Approach B) This approach is held by International organizations such as the U.N, the majority of human rights lawyers and practitioners of international laws claims that Gaza strip is a part of Palestine territory and should not be assumed as a divided part. Since the Israel – Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, the Gaza Strip came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. Also a July 2004 opinion of the "International Court of Justice" treated Gaza as part of the occupied territories. In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to implement a unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip and at least on 12 September 2005 the Israeli cabinet formally declared an end to Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip. But in his statement on the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, wrote that international humanitarian law is applied to Israel "with regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war." In a 2009 interview on Democracy Now, Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) contends that Israel is an occupying power on Gaza. Finally The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and many other international bodies and NGOs continue to consider Israel to be the occupying power of the Gaza Strip as Israel controls Gaza Strip's airspace, territorial waters and controls the movements of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea after 2010 (siege of Gaza), 2012 (Gaza-Israel 8 day war) and current 2014 imposed war to Gaza strip.
In response to the claim of "Israel right to self-defense" we should say that the Collective punishment is a violation of the laws of war and the Geneva Conventions, even with accepting such misleading and wrong claim. Near 2000 people are killed and almost 10000 others wounded during 38 days imposed war on Gaza and still the main ambiguity is that how the rights of these people will be exercised in international legal institutions. On August 2014 President Mahmoud Abbas argued that the complaint against war crimes on Gaza is likely to backfire against the Palestinian resistance and that the Palestinian Authority favored a different strategy. Although this news is rejected by some Palestinian authorities during the next days but did not decrease the concerns and ambiguity of the future of this issue.

1- Creating a legal entity by the Gaza strip authority to pursue Gaza crimes directly through international legal mechanisms.
2- Recognizing the Gaza strip as a federal part of Palestine which has the jurisdiction over international legal institutions by PA as an independent body for following war crimes and sieges against Gaza like the position granted to Ukraine and Belarus in 1944 by the Soviets Union .
3- Recognizing the rights of self-defence for Gaza authority as an independent political-military system until the creation of final independent Palestine state.
4- Settlement of U.N Peacekeeping forces right outside Gaza borders to avoid IDF invasions.
5- Opening a new certain way and road to transfer basic supplies under the supervision of a U.N authority through the Mediterranean Sea and Sinai desert out of Egypt and Israel camera monitoring.

Item 9 : IslamophobiaExtremist, terrorist groups have been igniting deadly conflicts especially in the Middle East for years now. The extremist Islamist Al Qaeda, has been attacking civilian and military targets both in Afghanistan and other countries. Al Qaeda members, the jihadists, believe that the killing of civilians is religiously sanctioned, and they ignore any aspect of religious scripture which forbids the murder of civilians and internecine fighting.[i] They exploit religion through selective reading and interpretation, to justify their own actions. "They transform Islam's norms and values—about good governance, social justice, and the requirement to defend Islam when under siege—into a call to arms, in order to legitimate the use of violence, warfare, and terrorism".[ii] They have been operating in different countries including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and the United States.
While Al Qaeda bombing and suicide bombing attacks has left many people dead and injured, including more than 300 Iraqi dead in 3 different attacks in 2006-2008, and September 11 attacks created one of the world tragedies, there are ironical news indicating that Al Qaeda members have been trained directly by the CIA, receiving support from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in order to fight against the Soviet Union. It is also reported that 3 billion USD has been invested on Al Qaeda and the group has been armed, and supported by the West.[iii] After the 11th September attacks, the US started the war on terror to eliminate Al Qaeda, which led to the death of Bin Laden.
Bukuharam, another Al Qaeda affiliated group which has killed more than 5000 civilians between 2009 -2014 and made 650,000 people leave their homes, receives funding from organizations based in UK, Saudi Arabia and two other Al Qaeda affiliated organizations, covertly supported by Western Intelligence and NATO, during the war on Lybia.[iv] Bukuharam, like Al Qaeda exploits religion to justify its weird brutal actions, using selective, extremist interpretations of Islam.
In December, 2013, the US designated Bukuharam as a terrorist organization, which means that there could be asset freezing and travel bans for the known members of the group.
ISIS, a extremist militant group composed of members of Al Qaede and other terrorist groups, has been mass killing Muslim and Christian civilians in Northern Iraq for over a year now. They strongly believe in the fact that anyone who disagrees with them is "infidel", and killing of all infidels is allowed, including the killing of civilians, women and children.
Hilary Clinton, the former US Secretary of State blames the rise of ISIS on Obama's foreign policies, however Michel Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalization believes that the rise of ISIS has been a deliberate US strategy to advance the country's aims in the region and not a miscalculation of the US foreign policy. [v]
ISIS has been operating in Iraq since 2004, escalating their attacks from 2010 to 2014, especially from 2013 up to the present time, killing American soldiers as well as civilians. The US, recently decided to react and American planes bombarded mortar ISIS installations in early August 2014.
The existing evidence shows that the western world and its allies are playing a dual role, on the one hand, supporting terrorist extremist groups who are involved in serious violations of human rights, and on the other hand, condemn the actions committed by these groups and try to fight against them.
Unfortunately, it seems as if regional extremist groups who ignite local tensions and sectarian violence in certain regions of the world especially in the Middle East and parts of Africa are supported by the western countries and their regional allies[vi] both directly and indirectly in many in many different ways. They receive money[vii] for all their activities, the existing evidences show that all terrorist groups including the ISIS receive a considerable amount of funding from other countries including the United States, its Arab allies Israel.
They also receive technical support and military training, which helps ISIS advance in Iraq and fight against Iraq's strong army, and Bukuharam in Nigeria to continue murder and kidnapping of civilians. Another form of support they receive from the western world is that their criminal activities are ignored or receive mild objections or oppositions. The ISIS has been involved in murdering and kidnapping of civilians in Iraq for more than a year now, and there are news of Bukuharam mass kidnappings of boys and girls every day. This is while they would have been eliminated up to now if there was a serious intention of their elimination.
The direct result of straightening such groups is a contribution to human right violations which is condemned by the western world. The terrorist groups are exploiting Islam to justify their violence. Consequently, all human right violations of the terrorist groups is done in the name of Islam, which leads to a growing feeling of xenophobia toward Muslims and in part can justify discrimination against them and violation of their rights.
Many Islamic countries, organizations and groups have unanimously condemned ISIS actions, and the actions committed by other terrorist groups clearly stating that the actions are neither Islamic nor humane, reiterating that no interpretation of Islam allows torture and murder of civilians, destruction of houses or sacred places, but ISIS is referred to as ‘the Islamic State” in the media and their actions is associated with Islam. They offer wonderful media consumption for those who are aiming at spreading hate toward Islam and Muslims, picturizing the group as a small minority representing the whole Muslim majority.
The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV) calls on all UN member States to condemn sectarian violence and regional conflicts, done in the name of religion and seriously avoid supporting these groups. ODVV also calls on all member States to cooperate to replace a culture of hatred and conflict which will negatively affect the whole world with a culture of negotiations. The Organization calls on the UN to use more effective measures to prevent sectarian violence and mass killings of civilians.

[i] Moghadam, Assaf (2008). The Globalization of Martyrdom: Al Qaeda, Salafi Jihad, and the Diffusion of Suicide Attacks. Johns Hopkins University. p. 48.
[ii] Esposito, John. L. (2002). Struggle in Islam. Boston Review, http://www.bostonreview.net/books-ideas/john-l-esposito-struggle-islam

[iii] http://www.theinsider.org/news/article.asp?id=0228
[iv] http://allafrica.com/stories/201202141514.html; http://www.globalresearch.ca/covert-ops-in-nigeria-fertile-ground-for-us-sponsored-balkanization/30259
[v] http://globalresearch.podbean.com/
[vi] http://news.yahoo.com/american-allies-backed-iraq-terrorists-023053684--
[vii] www.thedailybeast.com; http://news.yahoo.com/

“ ODVV Statements at 27th Session of the Human Rights Council ”