Indifference to human rights in Mideast fuels atrocities – Amnesty
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Indifference to human rights in Mideast fuels atrocities – Amnesty

Apart from ‘rare action,’ rights watchdog says government crackdowns on civil society going largely unpunished, leading to growing impunity

Mostapha Bali, the spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), carries a baby followed by a woman after fleeing the Islamic State (IS) group's last holdout of Baghouz, in Syria's northern Deir Ezzor province, on February 22, 2019. (Bulent KILIC / AFP)
Mostapha Bali, the spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), carries a baby followed by a woman after fleeing the Islamic State (IS) group's last holdout of Baghouz, in Syria's northern Deir Ezzor province, on February 22, 2019. (Bulent KILIC / AFP)

Global indifference is fueling atrocities across the Middle East, rights watchdog Amnesty International warned Tuesday in a report condemning what it said was growing impunity.

“The crackdown on civil society actors and political opponents increased significantly in Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia,” the rights watchdog said in its annual regional report.

“Across the region, authorities used arbitrary detention, excessive force against protesters and administrative measures to restrict civil society,” Amnesty said.

The human rights group said that “global indifference to human rights violations” had fueled “atrocities and impunity” in the region in 2018.

It cited the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul On October 2, saying the “case has not been followed by concrete action to ensure those responsible for his murder are brought to justice.”

It applauded “rare action” from countries like Denmark or Germany to suspended their supply of weapons to Riyadh, but noted that “key allies of the Kingdom, including the USA, UK and France, have taken no such action.”

People hold posters picturing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and candles during a gathering outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018. (Yasin Akgul/AFP)

The rights group also denounced Riyadh’s military intervention in Yemen, saying the Saudi-led coalition battling rebels is “responsible for war crimes” and has contributed to a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the embattled country.

Amnesty denounced what it said was Israel’s crackdown on demonstrations in Gaza and the West Bank, which it said killed “at least 195 Palestinians, including 41 children.”

Amnesty also criticized Iran, including its repression of mass demonstrations over deteriorating socio-economic conditions.

“Security forces violently dispersed the protests, beating unarmed protesters and using live ammunition, tear gas and water cannons against them, causing deaths and injuries,” it said.

It denounced “war crimes” committed in Syria, Libya and Yemen, which have been ravaged by deadly conflicts and humanitarian catastrophes.

Palestinian paramedics carry an injured protester during a demonstration near the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on October 19, 2018. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

In the three countries, “military forces with air power carried out indiscriminate airstrikes and direct attacks on civilian homes, hospitals and medical facilities, sometimes using internationally banned cluster munitions,” Amnesty said.

The rights group pointed to some positive developments in the region which it said serve as “glimmers of hope.”

Across the Maghreb, provisions to combat violence against women came into effect.

In Saudi Arabia authorities lifted a driving ban on women – “even as they imprisoned women human rights defenders who had campaigned for this very right,” Amnesty said.

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