Monday, December 31, 2012


Dozens of Tortured Bodies Found in Damascus
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, December 31, 2012
"Dozens of tortured bodies have been found in a flashpoint district of Damascus, a watchdog reported on Monday, in one of the worst atrocities in Syria's 21-month conflict. The report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights came as a gruesome video emerged on the Internet of a separate slaying of three children who had their throats slashed, also in the capital. 'Thirty bodies were found in the Barzeh district. They bore signs of torture and have so far not been identified,' said the Britain-based Observatory. The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a grassroots network of anti-regime activists, estimated there were 50 bodies, and added that 'their heads were cut and disfigured to the point that it was no longer possible to identify' them. The video posted online by activists showed the bodies of three young boys with their throats slit open and hands bound behind their backs. Their bodies were discovered on Monday in Jubar. The Observatory also reported the killing of the boys, who opposition activists said had been kidnapped the day before at a checkpoint on their way home from school. These reports could not be verified independently because of media restrictions by the Syrian authorities. Regime warplanes, meanwhile, bombarded rebel positions on the northeastern and southwestern outskirts of Damascus, leaving eight civilians dead including two children, said the Observatory. [...]"
[n.b. When you read "dozens of tortured bodies," translate as follows: "dozens of tortured males." Can you imagine dozens of murdered females being described in this fashion?]

Sunday, December 30, 2012


In Nigeria, Trapped between Islamist Radicals and Security Forces
By Sudarsan Raghavan
The Washington Post, December 30, 2012
"The armed men dragged Musa Muhammad out of his house and ordered him to lie face down on the ground. Then they grabbed his son. After asking his name, the men issued their judgment. 'I heard three gunshots -- pop, pop, pop,' Muhammad recalled, his voice trembling, his fingers in the shape of a pistol. 'My son was dead, killed in front of me.' His assailants were not the radical Islamists who have brutalized this town. They were government security forces sent to protect the residents. In the epicenter of one of Africa's most violent religious extremist movements, civilians are caught in a guerrilla conflict that has shattered families and communal relationships. The Boko Haram, a homegrown group with suspected ties to al-Qaeda, is assassinating people nearly every day, targeting Christians, soldiers, police, even astrologers as it seeks to weaken the Western-allied government and install Islamic sharia law in this nation. But the security forces have also carried out extrajudicial killings, imprisoned hundreds on flimsy grounds, looted and burned shops and houses, according to victims, local officials and human rights activists. ... 'In a guerrilla war, you need the help of the local population. But the security forces are alienating the people,' said Muhammad Abdullahi, the provincial director of religious affairs. 'They are making their jobs more difficult for themselves.'

Friday, December 28, 2012

"Honor" Killings / India

"It is difficult to get the actual number of 'honour killings', as they are often disguised as accidents or suicides." (EPA)
"Honour Killings" Bring Dishonour to India
By Chaitra Arjunpuri, December 27, 2012
"The policeman jumped to his feet as the man walked into the station and placed the head of his sister, along with the butcher knife that decapitated her, on the table in front of him.  The incident in Kolkata on December 7 was another killing in the name of 'honour' and there has been a surge in such attacks over the past several months. Nilofar Bibi, 22, was only 14 years old when she left home in an arranged marriage. Alleging torture carried out by her in-laws, Bibi returned to her parents on November 28, but vanished days later. Her brother, Mehtab Alam, 29, had discovered his sister was living with an old boyfriend, Firoz, an auto-rickshaw driver. Alam stormed into the home and dragged Bibi onto the street in broad daylight. Passers-by looked on in horror as he cut off Bibi's head while saying 'she had sinned and had to be punished'. Alam left his sister's body in a pool of blood on the road, and calmly walked to the police station, her head in hand, to surrender himself. The siblings' family expressed support for Alam, saying they were proud he upheld their honour. In a country currently caught up in collective outrage over a gang rape of a medical student in New Delhi, Bibi's killing registered only a passing reference in the national media. But the coverage -- or the lack of it -- failed to hide the true extent of a scourge that bedevils many Indian women.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


"Many members of the Hazara Shiite community killed by Sunni extremists are buried in a graveyard in Quetta, Pakistan." (Declan Walsh/The New York Times)
Pakistan Reels With Violence Against Shiites
By Declan Walsh
The New York Times, December 3, 2012
"Calligraphers linger at the gates of an ancient graveyard in this brooding city in western Pakistan, charged with a macabre and increasingly in-demand task: inscribing the tombstones of the latest victims of the sectarian death squads that openly roam these streets. For at least a year now, Sunni extremist gunmen have been methodically attacking members of the Hazara community, a Persian-speaking Shiite minority that emigrated here from Afghanistan more than a century ago. The killers strike with chilling abandon, apparently fearless of the law: shop owners are gunned down at their counters, students as they play cricket, pilgrims dragged from buses and executed on the roadside. The latest victim, a mechanic named Hussain Ali, was killed Wednesday, shot inside his workshop. He joined the list of more than 100 Hazaras who have been killed this year, many in broad daylight. As often as not, the gunmen do not even bother to cover their faces. The bloodshed is part of a wider surge in sectarian violence across Pakistan in which at least 375 Shiites have died this year -- the worst toll since the 1990s, human rights workers say. But as their graveyard fills, Hazaras say the mystery lies not in the identity of their attackers, who are well known, but in a simpler question: why the Pakistani state cannot -- or will not -- protect them. 'After every killing, there are no arrests,' said Muzaffar Ali Changezi, a retired Hazara engineer. 'So if the government is not supporting these killers, it must be at least protecting them. That’s the only way to explain how they operate so openly.'


Nigerian Forces Kill Dozens in Night Assault, Fueling Long Battle With Sect
By Adam Nossiter
The New York Times, November 2, 2012
"The spiral of violence in northern Nigeria took another deadly turn this week as security forces in the city of Maiduguri shot dead dozens of young men whom they accused of belonging to the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram, according to hospital staff members, local journalists and a human rights activist there. Nigeria has waged a grinding, low-intensity war with the sect since 2009, with nearly 3,000 people killed by Boko Haram or soldiers and the police, rights groups say. This week's violence in the war's center, Maiduguri, where Boko Haram was created, added to that toll. At least 39 people, and possibly as many as 70, were killed in raids by the Nigerian Army and the police late Wednesday and early Thursday, the second such deadly assault by security forces in less than a month. As in previous raids, security forces descended on the city's poorer neighborhoods under cover of darkness, entering houses and grabbing young men -- indiscriminately, critics contend -- and then shooting them. 'They accused the young persons of being Boko Haram members, with no evidence,' said Maikaramba Sadiq, an activist with Nigeria's Civil Liberties Organization. 'In the presence of parents, they killed the children,' he said. 'They told the parents to turn back and look in a different direction, then they killed the children. This is military criminality,' Mr. Sadiq argued. 'They killed people without any evidence of offense.' Mr. Sadiq said at least 70 people were killed, ranging in age from 18 to 25. Hospital workers in Maiduguri said about 39 bodies had been deposited at their hospital. There was no immediate comment from the Nigerian military on Friday.