UN Rejects Guaido, Favors Discourse With President Maduro

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  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaking at the UN headquarters in New York, USA, Jan. 28, 2019.

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaking at the UN headquarters in New York, USA, Jan. 28, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Guterres reiterated his concern about the impact of the current Venezuelan crisis on the people.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recognized, Friday, the representation of the Venezuelan Government – led by its Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza – while rejecting the interests of deputy of the National Assembly (AN), Juan Guaido, who unconstitutionally proclaimed himself “president in charge” on Jan. 23.

RELATED:: Italy Rejects Guaido, Says Venezuela is a Sovereign State

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, confirmed that Guterres responded to a letter, which was sent by Juan Guaido asking the agency to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela.

Guterres reiterated his concern about the impact of the current Venezuelan crisis on the people.

However, regarding Guaido’s request, the secretary-general requested to communicate with the Government of Venezuela, which is headed by President Nicolas Maduro.

Embedded video

Noticias ONU

@NoticiasONU

[URGENTE] @antonioguterres responde a la carta de Guaidó.
“La ONU está lista para aumentar sus actividades humanitarias y de desarrollo en “.
Más información: http://bit.ly/ONU-cartaGuaidó 

“Antonio Guterres responds to Guaido’s letter. The UN is ready to increase its humanitarian and development activities in Venezuela.”

“The United Nations is ready to increase its activities in Venezuela in the areas of humanitarian assistance and development. However, for this, the United Nations needs the consent and the cooperation of the Government,” Dujarric said and added that the Guterres “underscores that recognizing governments is not a function for the Secretary but for Member states.”

In addition, Guterres also favors “lower tensions” in Venezuela and called for all relevant parties to commit to an inclusive and credible political dialogue

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Denouncing 7-Year-Old’s Death, UN Rights Expert Demands US Halt Child Detentions

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“As repeatedly stated by a series of U.N. human rights bodies, detention of children based on their migratory status is a violation of international law.”

Activists project text and a picture of Jakelin Caal onto the home of CBP's Commissioner Kevin McAleenan in Virginia. (Photo: CREDO Action/Screenshot)

Activists project text and a picture of Jakelin Caal onto the home of CBP’s Commissioner Kevin McAleenan in Virginia. (Photo: CREDO Action/Screenshot)

A day after the 7-year-old girl’s small body returned to Guatemala in a coffin, a United Nations human rights expert demanded an independent probe into the death of Jakelin Caal while she was in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—and made a broader call for the U.S. to stop its international law-violating practice of detaining children on the basis of their migratory status.

“The U.S. authorities must ensure that an in-depth, independent investigation of the death of Jakelin Ameí Caal is conducted,” Felipe González Morales, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said in a statement Monday.

Caal died earlier this month in Texas right after after being detained along with her father and over 160 other migrants at a border crossing in New Mexico. Her death prompted outrage, with the ACLU calling it a “tragedy” that “represents the worst possible outcome when children are held in inhumane conditions.”

“Access to justice for her relatives should be granted, including but not limited to having legal representation in the proceedings in a language they understand well,” González Morales said, and called on the U.S. to prevent similar tragedies.

Moreover, he added, “As repeatedly stated by a series of U.N. human rights bodies, detention of children based on their migratory status is a violation of international law.”

González Morales also expressed hope for being able to conduct an official visit to the United States, as that “would allow me to get first-hand, direct information about the situation of migrant children, especially on those who are being held in detention,” and would “allow me to present my recommendations to the U.S. government to fulfill its international commitments to respect and protect the human rights of all migrants.”

Given the tragedy, González Morales’s office also sent a formal complaint to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Guardian reported Monday. Among the U.N. expert’s specfic points of inquiry is finding out whether Caal was held in a kind of cell known as an “hielera” or ice box.

“There have been many complaints about the conditions of migrants in hieleras—they are places that pose a risk to the health of the persons detained,” he said to the news outlet in an interview.

“When a person, especially a child, is in the custody of a state, that state has to ensure their rights. States have an obligation to care for migrants who arrive at the border, they cannot treat them as animals in inhuman conditions,” he added.

Following Caal’s death, the National Immigration Law Center made a similar call to agencies regarding the treatment of the people they detain.

“The death of 7-year-old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin is a tragic reminder of a longstanding pattern of systemic cruelty and secrecy at CBP and its parent agency, DHS, and underscores the stark need for greater transparency and accountability at these agencies. As we mourn and demand justice for Jakelin and her loved ones, we must also take meaningful steps to prevent anything like this from happening again,” said Nora Preciado, senior staff attorney for the immigrant rights organization.

“Direct accounts over years from people in CBP custody and hard evidence obtained through litigation reveal a culture of utter disregard for human life at the agency,” she added, and declared that “The culture of cruelty at CBP has only worsened under the Trump administration.”

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Five Ways the Trump Administration Has Attacked the U.N. and International Human Rights Bodies

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By pushing xenophobic policies that defy international law, the Trump administration is pitting the United States against the very system of multilateralism that our country worked so hard to create in the years after World War II

We can plainly see Trump’s hostility towards the international community. (Photo: White House/Flickr)

We can plainly see Trump’s hostility towards the international community. (Photo: White House/Flickr)

On Tuesday, President Trump will make his second appearance at the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly, where he will reportedly use the international spotlight to deliver a speech that centers on favoring U.S. “sovereignty” over our commitments to the global community.The world has now witnessed the human costs of Trump’s self-defeating “America First” policies: the inhumanity of family separation, the ruined lives from repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and the suffering caused by slashing the numbers of refugees allowed to enter the U.S., to name just a few.

By pushing xenophobic policies that defy international law, the Trump administration is pitting the United States against the very system of multilateralism that our country worked so hard to create in the years after World War II. This system was designed to benefit the entire world—including the U.S.—by promoting peace, security, and human rights while deterring chaos and violence. That’s why undermining it is harmful to everyone, including Americans.

Here are five examples from the past year where the Trump administration has threatened or attempted to weaken multilateralism and international human rights bodies:

1. Threatening the staff of the International Criminal Court

Earlier this month, National Security Advisor John Bolton made outrageous threatsagainst the International Criminal Court, which holds people accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Bolton went so far as to threaten the court’s judges and prosecutors with U.S. criminal prosecution as well as a travel ban and financial sanctions. The White House has said that its threats are related to the potential of a full ICC investigation into U.S. involvement with war crimes in Afghanistan, such as torture.

2. Pulling out of the U.N. Human Rights Council

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced in June that the U.S. was leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council. The United States is the first nation to ever withdraw from the council and one of only four nations in the world that does not participate in its proceedings. And last month, National Security Advisor John Bolton threatened to cut U.S. funding to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which monitors rights violations around the world and supports the work of independent human rights experts. That includes the work of Professor Philip Alston, who was attacked by Ambassador Haley for daring to write a report on poverty in America.

3. Withdrawing from negotiations on the Global Compact for Migration

In December, the U.S. chose to leave negotiations for the Global Compact on Migration, an international agreement on managing safe, orderly, and regular migration around the globe. The final text of the Global Compact, which will formally be adopted in Morocco later this year, contains a commitment from 192 states to work to end child immigration detention. The Trump administration deemed these worthy objectives as incompatible to its immigration policies and an infringement on U.S. sovereignty.

4. Leaving UNESCO

The Trump administration declared its plan in October 2017 to withdraw from membership in the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization by January 2019 and move it to permanent observer status. While the Trump administration claims the decision was based on the U.N. body’s bias towards Israel, it is doubtful this was the only motivation to pull out, thereby harming critical global work deemed antithetical to Trump’s agenda. In addition to promoting democracy and freedom of the press, UNESCO advances literacy and science education, reports on the negative impacts of climate change, and runs projects on Holocaust awareness and anti-Semitism.

5. Defunding the U.N. Reliefs and Works Agency

Last month, the Trump administration said that it would no longer provide aid to the U.N. Reliefs and Works Agency, which is the primary organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for displaced Palestinian refugees. The U.S. was the agency’s largest funder, giving it over $350 million annually. Now it’s left with a budget deficit of over $270 million.

We can plainly see Trump’s hostility towards the international community. But the public has a right to full transparency about how exactly these unprecedented and hugely damaging actions are coming about. To get some answers, the ACLU has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the administration demanding records on these counterproductive decisions.

We previously filed FOIA requests about U.S. withdrawals from the U.N. Human Rights Council and UNESCO, as well as its moves to defund international human rights bodies and leave treaties.

Today we’re filing a new FOIA request demanding answers about the administration’s policy toward the International Criminal Court. Does the Justice Department actually believe that it can charge ICC judges with violating U.S. laws? Or were Bolton’s threats just baseless grandstanding in a craven attempt to evade consequences for U.S. torture in Afghanistan?

No one should stand by idly in the face of Trump’s assault on human rights and the international institutions in place to defend them.

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‘Pariah’ Status of Trump Solidified as UN Watchdog Reports Iran Continues to Comply with Nuclear Deal

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Inspectors revealed Iran is continuing to limit its uranium enrichment as newest round of sanctions take hold of Iranian public

President Trump, flanked by National Security Advisor John Bolton, at the NATO Summit on July 12, 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo: Sean Gallup via Getty Images)

United Nations officials reported on Thursday that Iran is still complying with the 2015 nuclear deal it entered into with the Obama administration, three months after President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing from the agreement.

Trump’s decision was among many in the past 19 months which have alienated the U.S. from the international community—and observers including National Iranian American Council (NIAC) founder Trita Parsi noted that Iran now seems intent on continuing that estrangement—allowing the Trump administration to become a global “pariah.”

 

Trita Parsi

@tparsi

As Trump continues to violate the , the IAEA issues its 12th report confirming Iran is continuing to honor the agreement, despite the US reimposing sanctions and seeking to destabilize .

Iran’s strategy is to let the US be the pariah…https://reut.rs/2PKYoJH 

 

Repeating the conclusion it came to a number of times between 2015 and this past May when Trump withdrew from the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran is continuing to honor the terms of the agreement, limiting the amount of uranium it enriches and stores, according to Reuters.

Trump’s decision to back out of the agreement was made despite protests from the other nations who were party to the deal;against the advice of the United Nations and the wishes of 56 percent of the American public.

Meanwhile, just as Iran’s strict adherence did not stop Trump from abandoning the deal, it also did not stop the president from imposing harsh sanctions, which have begun to take hold in Iran.

“Sanctions hurt ordinary people on the streets and do not inflict pain at all whatsoever on the government. How is withholding chemotherapy from my 80-year-old grandmother helpful to anyone’s objective?” —Meisam, Iranian physicianIn addition to the high unemployment rates resulting from decades of sanctions — with a 13 percent overall jobless rate and about a third of Iranians between the ages of 15 and 29 out of work—the public is feeling the effects of medicine shortages and the sharp devaluation of the country’s currency.

“Sanctions hurt ordinary people on the streets and do not inflict pain at all whatsoever on the government,” a physician named Meisam, whose family has struggled to obtain cancer treatment for his grandmother in recent weeks, told the Independent. “How is withholding chemotherapy from my 80-year-old grandmother helpful to anyone’s objective?”

Trump gleefully took note of the sanctions’ impact earlier this month, tweeting that the country’s economy “is going very bad, and fast!” and suggesting Iranians’ suffering could bring officials to the negotiating table—a possibility that was dismissedThursday by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei.ir@khamenei_ir

Negotiations with Iran is what all U.S. governments need. They need to maneuver and pretend that, “we have even made the Islamic Republic of Iran sit at the negotiations table.” So, like I previously elaborated and argued, no negotiations will be held with U.S. officials.

The continued punishment of Iranian civilians will only serve to anger ordinary citizens and officials who have previously taken part in hard-fought negotiations, as well as bolstering political hardliners in Tehran, NIAC president Jamal Abdi warned.

“The grievous harm sanctions cause the Iranian people cannot be overstated: As the economy and unemployment levels make daily life unbearable for millions of Iranians, families are choked off from life-saving medicines and starved of critical infrastructure,” Abdi told the Independent. “These sanctions will threaten Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord, while also undercutting hopes for Iranian moderation, harming the Iranian middle class, and empowering Iranian hardliners and extremists.”

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US cuts to UNRWA point to the dark future being readied for the Palestinians

Trump and Netanyahu in love pose

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

The Trump administration’s decision to scrap all future aid payments to the main agency helping Palestinian refugees marks a new – and most likely disastrous – chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The US State Department said on 31 August it would no longer continue its $360 million annual contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), depriving it of a third of its budget. US officials described the organisation as “irredeemably flawed”.

The move follows an announcement last week that Washington had slashed $200 million from other aid programmes for the Palestinians.

About five million Palestinians – many languishing for decades in refugee camps across the Middle East – rely on the agency for essential food, healthcare and education.

Other states in the Middle East have reason to be fearful. Jordan’s foreign minster, Ayman Safadi, warned on 1 September that the denial of aid would “only consolidate an environment of despair that would ultimately create fertile grounds for further tension”.

Jordan, which hosts two million Palestinian refugees, has called a meeting at the UN later this month, along with Japan, the European Union, Sweden and Turkey, to “rally political and financial support” for UNRWA.

Hush money

Traditional American and European backing for the UN agency could be viewed as reparations for their complicity in helping to create a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland. That act of dispossession turned the Palestinians into the world’s largest stateless population.

Except there are few signs of guilt.

The handouts provided via the UN have served more like “hush money”, designed to keep the Palestinians dependent and quiet as Western states manage a crisis they apparently have no intention of solving.

That was why the European Union hurriedly promised to seek alternative funds for UNRWA. It noted that the agency was “vital for stability and security in the region” – a stability that has enabled Israel to disappear the Palestinians, uninterrupted, for seven decades.

Weaponising aid

The Trump administration, by contrast, is more brazen about the new way it wishes to weaponise aid.

US officials have not concealed the fact that they want leverage over the Palestinians to force them to submit to Donald Trump’s long-promised “deal of the century” peace plan.

But there is a deeper and darker agenda afoot than simply reviving failed negotiations or pandering to the Trump administration’s well-known antipathy towards international institutions.

If Israel won’t compromise, Trump will settle the final-status issues – borders, Jerusalem and the refugees – in the stronger party’s favour. The only hurdle is finding a way to bully the Palestinians into acceptance.

Over the past 25 years peace talks have provided cover for Israel’s incremental takeover of what was supposed to be a future Palestinian state. In the words of Palestinian lawyer Michael Tarazi, while Israel and the Palestinians were discussing how to divide the pizza, Israel ate it all.

So Trump’s team has, in effect, reverse-engineered a “peace process” based on the realities on the ground Israel has created.

Trump-Israel law of the jungle

If Israel won’t compromise, Trump will settle the final-status issues – borders, Jerusalem and the refugees – in the stronger party’s favour. The only hurdle is finding a way to bully the Palestinians into acceptance.

In an indication of how sychronised Washington and Israel’s approaches now are, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, made almost identical speeches last week.

In an address to American Jewish leaders, Friedman noted that a “different way of thinking” prevailed in the Middle East. “You can’t talk your way, you just have to be strong,” he said.

The next day, Netanyahu reiterated that message. He tweeted: “The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive.”

That sounded uncomfortably like a prescription for the Palestinians’ future.

Israel has already carved out its borders through the ethnic cleansing campaigns of 1948 and 1967. Since then, it has mobilised the settlers and its military to take over almost all of the remnants of historic Palestine. A few slivers of territory in the West Bank and the tiny coastal ghetto of Gaza are all that is left for the Palestinians.

A nod from the White House and Israel will formalise this arrangement by gradually annexing the West Bank.

As far as Jerusalem is concerned, Trump recognised it as Israel’s capital by moving the US embassy there in May. Now, even if it can be born, a Palestinian state will lack a meaningful capital and a viable economy.

The final loose end are the refugees.

‘Disappearing’ the refugees

Some time ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas surrendered their right – sanctioned in international law – to return to their former lands in what is now Israel.

Instead, the question was whether Israel would allow the refugees encamped in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to move to the West Bank and Gaza and become citizens of a Palestinian state.

Israel and the US… prefer to dismantle UNRWA and disappear the Palestinians in the swelling tide of refugees spawned by recent Western interventions in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Aghanistan.

But if Israel refuses to concede a Palestinian state, even that minimal ambition is doomed.

Israel and the US have an alternative solution. They prefer to dismantle UNRWA and disappear the Palestinians in the swelling tide of refugees spawned by recent Western interventions in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Aghanistan. On 2 September Netanyahu welcomed what he called a US move to “abolish the refugee institution, to take the funds and really help rehabilitate the refugees”.

The US and Israel want the Palestinian refugees to fall under the responsibility of the UNHCR, the UN’s umbrella refugee agency – or better still, their host countries.

In a leaked email reported by Foreign Policy magazine this month, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, wrote that it was time to “disrupt UNRWA”. He added that “sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there”.

Central to that disruption is stripping millions of Palestinians of their status as refugees. The Trump administration is due to publish a report later this month, according to Israeli media, that will propose capping the Palestinian refugee population at 500,000 – a tenth of the current number.

Kushner has reportedly been leaning on Jordan to revoke the status of its two million Palestinian refugees, presumably in return for US compensation.

When UNRWA’s mandate comes up for renewal in two years’ time, it seems assured Washington will block it

If there is no UNRWA, there is no Palestinian refugee problem. And if there are no refugees, then there is no need for a right of return – and even less pressure for a Palestinian state.

Israel and the US are close to their goal: transforming a political conflict governed by international law that favours the Palestinians into an economic problem overseen by an array of donors that favours Israel.

A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi. The version here is published by permission of Jonathan Cook.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZI, UNComments Off on US cuts to UNRWA point to the dark future being readied for the Palestinians

Second UN Meeting on New Syrian Constitution Set for this Month

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The U.N. peace envoy for Syria will host senior officials from a range of Western and Middle-Eastern countries next month for talks on drafting a new Syrian constitution, the U.N. said Tuesday.

Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has been tasked with setting up a committee to write a new constitution for the war-ravaged country.

He is already set to host a meeting on Sept. 11-12 at the U.N.’s European headquarters in Geneva of senior officials from the main foreign powers backing the project, Syrian government allies Russia and Iran, as well as Turkey, which supports some opposition groups.

And on Tuesday, U.N. spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said de Mistura had convened a one-day meeting on Sept. 14 with senior representatives from Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The meeting, Vellucci said, was to focus on “the way ahead on the political process” for Syria, “including the U.N. effort to facilitate the establishment of a constitutional committee.”

De Mistura has said he wants to have the constitutional committee in place before world leaders meet at the General Assembly in New York in late September.

De Mistura’s previous efforts to negotiate an end to the Syrian conflict have achieved no breakthroughs.

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria’s war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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No, the UN Did Not Report China Has ‘Massive Internment Camps’ for Uighur Muslims

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Media outlets from Reuters to The Intercept falsely claimed the UN had condemned China for holding a million Uighurs in camps. The claim is based on unsourced allegations by two independent commission members, US-funded outfits and a shadowy opposition group.

Numerous major media outlets, from Reuters to The Intercept, have claimed that the United Nations has reports that the Chinese government is holding as many as 1 million Uighur Muslims in “internment camps.” But a close examination of these news stories, and of the evidence behind them — or the lack thereof — demonstrates that the extraordinary claim is simply not true.

A spokesperson from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) confirmed in a statement to the Grayzone that the allegation of Chinese “camps” was not made by the United Nations, but rather by a member of an independent committee that does not speak for the UN as a whole. That member happened to be the only American on the committee, and one with no background of scholarship or research on China.

Moreover, this accusation is based on the thinly sourced reports of a Chinese opposition group that receives funding from foreign governments and is closely tied to exiled pro-US activists. While there have been many on-the-ground reports highlighting discrimination that Uighur Muslims have faced at the hands of the Chinese authorities, information about camps containing one million prisoners has originated almost exclusively from media outlets and organizations funded and weaponized by the American government to turn up the heat on Beijing.

A blatant falsehood introduced by Reuters and echoed across mainstream media

On August 10, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination conducted its regular review of China’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The review, which is conducted periodically for all 179 parties to the Convention, has generated a frenzied response by the Western corporate press — one which is uniformly misleading.

On the day of the review, Reuters published a report with an explosive headline: “U.N. says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.”

Screengrab from Reuters

The claim was feverishly reproduced by outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post to denounce China and call for international action. Even The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan belted out the breathless headline, “One Million Muslim Uighurs Have Been Detained by China, the U.N. Says. Where’s the Global Outrage?” The impression readers were given was that the UN had conducted an investigation and had formally and collectively made such charges against China. In fact, the UN had done no such thing.

The headline of Reuters’ report attributed its explosive claim to the UN; yet the body of the article ascribed it simply to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. And this committee’s official website makes it clear that it is “a body of independent experts,” not UN officials.

What’s more, a look at the OHCHR’s official news release on the committee’s presentation of the report showed that the only mention of alleged re-education “camps” in China was made by its sole American member, Gay McDougall. This claim was then echoed by a Mauritanian member, Yemhelhe Mint Mohamed.

During the committee’s regular review of China, McDougall commented that she was “deeply concerned” about “credible reports” alleging mass detentions of millions of Uighurs Muslim minorities in “internment camps.” The Associated Press reported that McDougall “did not specify a source for that information in her remarks at the hearing.” (Note that the headline of the AP news wire is much weaker than that of Reuters: “UN panel concerned at reported Chinese detention of Uighurs.”)

Video of the session confirms that McDougall provided no sourcing to back up her remarkable claim.

This is to say, one American member of an independent UN body made a provocative claim that China was interning 1 million Muslims, but failed to provide a single named source. And Reuters and the Western corporate media ran with it anyway, attributing the unsubstantiated allegations of one US individual to the UN as a whole.

In an email to the Grayzone Project, OHCHR spokesperson Julia Gronnevet confirmed that the CERD was not representative of the UN as a whole.

“You are correct that the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an independent body,” Gronnevet wrote. “Quoted comments were made during public sessions of the Committee when members were reviewing State parties.”

Thus the OHCHR implicitly acknowledged that the comments by McDougall, the lone American member of an independent committee, were not representative of any finding by the UN as a whole. The report by Reuters is simply false.

“Credible reports” from a government-funded opposition group with zero transparency

In addition to this irresponsible misreporting, Reuters and other Western outlets have attempted to fill in the gaps left by McDougall, referring to reports made by so-called “activist group” the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). Conveniently left out of the story is that this organization is headquartered in Washington, DC.

CHRD, which receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from unnamed governments, advocates full-time against the Chinese government and has spent years campaigning on behalf of extreme right-wing opposition figures.

CHRD is not at all transparent about its funding or personnel. Its annual reports contain notes stating, “This report has been produced with the financial support of generous donors.” But the donors are never named.

Publicly available 990 IRS filing forms reviewed by the Grayzone show that the organization is substantially funded by government grants. In fact, in 2015 virtually all of the organization’s revenue came from government grants.

CHRD’s 2015 form 990 discloses that $819,553 of its $820,023 revenue that year (99.94 percent) came from government grants. A measly $395 came from investments, with another $75 from other sources. According to its 2016 form 990, CHRD received $859,091 in government grants in that year.

Which government provided these grants is not clear. The Grayzone did not receive a response to several emailed interview requests sent to the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

However, it appears likely that CHRD could be receiving funding from the US government-backed National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

A search of the NED’s grants database shows funding from 2014 and 2015 totaling approximately half a million dollars to “support the work of Chinese human rights defenders.” It is not clear if this is a reference to the organization specifically, but the description accompanying the grants matches that of CHRD.

CHRD has used its generous funding to provide grants to opposition activists inside China, bankrolling dozens upon dozens of projects in the country.

On its tax forms, CHRD lists its address as the Washington, DC office of Human Rights Watch. HRW has long been criticized for its revolving door with the US government and its excessively disproportionate focus on designated enemies of Washington like China, Venezuela, Syria, and Russia.

Human Rights Watch did not respond to an email from the Grayzone inquiring about its relationship with CHRD.

CHRD’s forms 990 also reveal that the board of the organization is a Who’s Who of exiled Chinese anti-government activists.

The chair of the group is the US-based activist Su Xiaokang, who proclaimed that the Chinese public supposedly “wants the U.S. to watch over activists, and is disappointed when Washington fails.” Fellow US-based dissident Teng Biao is a CHRD director who has sarcastically boasted of how the Chinese communist party dubbed him a “reactionary.”

CHRD’s secretary is the American academic Perry Link, who has built his public reputation on winding up on the Chinese government’s academic “blacklist.” Link testified for the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2014, claiming that the Chinese government is threatening academic freedom in the US.

In his congressional testimony, CHRD secretary Link insisted the US government should crack down on the Chinese government’s Confucius Institute organization and instead fund its own pro-US Chinese-language programs. Link characterized Chinese-language programs as a potential American weapon against the Chinese communist party, arguing they could “very arguably do more to blunt the CPC’s advance than the [B-2 Spirit Bomber] airplane could.”

These are some of the pro-US, anti-Chinese government figures who lead the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

Otherwise, there is very little publicly available information about CHRD. It appears to largely be the brainchild of its international director, Renee Xia, an opposition activist who has publicly called for the US government to impose sanctions on Chinese officials under the Magnitsky Act.

Support for the “non violence advocate” who loves America’s wars

CHRD’s founder, Xia, was a strong supporter of the imprisoned hard-right neoconservative Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, and she campaigned years for his release.

An archived version of the group’s website shows that as far back as 2010, CHRD was vociferously advocating on behalf of Liu, while likening the Chinese government to Nazi Germany.

While Liu Xiaobo became a cause celebre of the Western liberal intelligensia, he was a staunch supporter of colonialism, a fan of the most blood-soaked US military campaigns, and a hardcore libertarian.

As writers Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong reported in The Guardian in 2010, Liu led numerous US government-funded right-wing organizations that advocated mass privatization and the Westernization of China. He also expressed openly racist views against the Chinese.

“To choose Westernisation is to choose to be human,” Liu insisted, lamenting that traditional Chinese culture had made its population “wimpy, spineless, and fucked up.”

While CHRD described Liu as an “advocate of non-violence,” he practically worshiped President George W. Bush and strongly supported the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq, as well as the war in Afghanistan. “Non-violence advocate” Liu was even a fan of America’s wars in Korea and Vietnam, which killed millions of civilians.

CHRD’s most recent China report — the one cited by Reuters and other outlets to give credence to the allegations of Uyghur re-education camps — further highlights the organization’s links to Washington and compromised impartiality.

Most sources on the Uighur “camps” story are US government-linked

The most-cited source in the CHRD report, accounting for more than one-fifth of the 101 references, is Radio Free Asia (RFA), a news agency created by the US government. Along with Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio y Televisión Martí, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Radio Free Asia is operated by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a federal agency of the US government under the supervision of the State Department. Describing its work as “vital to U.S. national interests,” BBG’s primary broadcasting standard is to be “consistent with the broad foreign policy objectives of the United States.”

The near-total reliance on Washington-linked sources is characteristic of Western reporting on Uighurs Muslims in China, and the country in general, which regularly features sensational headlines and allegations. In addition to CHRD and RFA, it is common for reports to cite the World Uighur Congress, an organization funded by the NED. At a recent NED event, Grayzone editor Max Blumenthalinterviewed World Uighur Congress chairman Omer Kanat, who took credit for furnishing many of the claims of internment camps to Western media.

Another favorite congressional and mainstream media source for information about China is the Jamestown Foundation, a neoconservative think tank founded during the height of the Cold War by Reagan administration personnel with the support of then-CIA Director William J. Casey.  Former Jamestown board members include Dick Cheney and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

The latest incident of misreporting by Reuters is part of a trend of increasingly hostile, Cold War-like coverage of China by the Western press that coincides with Washington’s push for conflict with Beijing. In a series of policy statements, the Trump administration has repeatedly identified the “threat” posed by “economic and military ascendance” of China, with Defense Secretary James Mattis declaring that “Great Power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”

Growing anxious about its diminishing global dominance, the United States seeks to forestall the rise of of an alternative node of international power. A longstanding component of US imperialism is the use of ostensibly impartial “civil society groups” and “think tanks” to promote narratives in the media supportive of US foreign policy goals. Often under the guise of “humanitarian concern,” such stories aim to stir up public outrage and weaponize it to advance imperial ambitions.

This time-tested program is at the heart of the intensifying campaign against China, and as the latest raft of bogus stories demonstrated, the corporate media is eager to play along.

Posted in China, UNComments Off on No, the UN Did Not Report China Has ‘Massive Internment Camps’ for Uighur Muslims

Iran Asks UN Court to Lift US Sanctions ‘Besieging’ Its Economy

NOVANEWS

Lawyers says sole aim of Trump administration’s renewed measures are to bring their country ‘to its knees’

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Iran opened a lawsuit on Monday demanding the UN’s top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), order the suspension of renewed US sanctions which it says are devastating its economy.

The Islamic Republic says US President Donald Trump‘s decision to reimpose sanctions over its nuclear programme aims to bring it “to its knees” and is in breach of a 1955 friendship treaty.

Sanctions had been lifted under a 2015 multilateral agreement in return for Iran committing not to pursue nuclear weapons. In May, Trump announced that the US would abandon the deal.

Then last month, his administration reimposed unilateral sanctions, saying they were needed to ensure Iran never builds a nuclear bomb.

A second wave of sanctions are due to hit Iran in early November, targeting its banking and energy sectors, including oil exports.

The measures have added to Iran’s economic woes, helping to fuel strikes and protests across the country and political spectrum.

Since April, the rial has lost half of its value and a government strategy to keep the currency from sliding even further backfired. On Sunday, Iran’s parliament impeached Masoud Karbasian, the finance minister.

As the suit began, the head of the navy of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard reportedly said that the country had full control of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, according to Tasnim news agency.

Iranian officials have repeatedly threatened to block the strait, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile US action.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in July that if Iran is not permitted to export oil, no other country in the region should be allowed to.

‘Irreparable prejudice’ 

As the suit opened on Monday, the presiding judge of the UN body – informally known as the World Court – began the hearing by calling on Washington to respect its outcome.

During their decades of animosity, both the United States and Iran have ignored some rulings at the court.

“The US is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran’s economy and Iranian national companies, and therefore inevitably Iranian nationals,” said Mohsen Mohebi, representing Iran, at the start of four days of oral hearings. “This policy is plainly in violation of the 1955 Treaty of Amity.”

He said Iran had sought a diplomatic solution to the countries’ dispute but was rejected.

The United States said in an initial written reaction displayed in court that it believes the ICJ has no jurisdiction in the case, and that Iran’s assertions fall outside the bounds of the treaty.

US lawyers led by State Department adviser Jennifer Newstead, appointed by Trump in 2017, are due to respond on Tuesday. A ruling is expected within a month, though no date has been set.

Tehran filed its case before the court in late July, calling on the Hague-based tribunal’s judges to order the immediate lifting of sanctions pending a definitive ruling.

It said the sanctions would cause it “irreparable prejudice”.

“The current US administration is pushing the sanctions to their maximum with the sole aim of bringing Iran to its knees,” Iran’s lawyers said in the court filing.

“The USA is besieging Iran economically, with all the dramatic consequences that a siege implies for the besieged population.”

The lawyers have also said in their filings that the sanctions threaten tens of billions of dollars’ worth of business deals with foreign companies.

International companies including France’s Total, Peugeot and Renault, and Germany’s Siemens and Daimler, have suspended operations in Iran since Trump announced the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May.

Air France and British Airways announced on Thursday that they would halt flights to Tehran next month, saying they were not commercially viable. The British carrier added however that the decision was unrelated to the fresh sanctions.

Trump said the sanctions would turn up the financial pressure on Tehran to come to a “comprehensive and lasting solution” regarding its activities such as its “ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism”.

Khamenei this month appeared to rule out any immediate prospect of talks, saying “there will be neither war, nor negotiations”, with the US.

The ICJ was set up in 1946 to rule in disputes between countries.

Posted in USA, Iran, UNComments Off on Iran Asks UN Court to Lift US Sanctions ‘Besieging’ Its Economy

UN Condemns Likely Saudi and UAE ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

NOVANEWS

Report also condemns Houthi recruitment of child soldiers, but does not explore role of the US and UK in supplying arms to Saudi-led coalition

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A group of UN experts has said that Saudi and Emirati forces may have committed war crimes in Yemen.

report launched on Tuesday by the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (YemenGEE) established in 2017 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, concluded that individuals in the governments of Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could be prosecuted for acts that amount to international crimes “subject to determination by an independent and competent court”.

The report comes as US officials have expressed concerns over recent deadly air strikes, with the Pentagon reportedly warning Saudi Arabia that it is prepared to cut its support to the Saudi-led coalition if it continues to target civilians.

According to evidence gathered by YemenGEE, some attacks and actions by the coalition and the Yemeni government have violated “the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution”, including the imposition of a naval and air blockade on Yemen since March 2015.

“There is little evidence of any attempt by parties to the conflict to minimise civilian casualties. I call on them to prioritise human dignity in this forgotten conflict,” said Kamel Jendoubi, chairperson of YemenGEE.

Based on interviews with victims and witnesses, the group found that the UAE and its allied Yemeni security forces have committed acts of rape and sexual violence against vulnerable groups.

In March 2018, the panel said that 200 male detainees were subjected to anal examinations and rape with tools and sticks by UAE personnel at Bir Ahmed prison in southern Yemen.

The report attributed two-thirds of 842 verified cases of recruitment of children in 2017 to the Houthi forces. In some cases, children as young as eight were conscripted to take part in hostilities.

A Saudi coalition spokesman told Reuters on Tuesday that the UN report had been referred to the coalition’s legal team.

The findings were released a day after top US military commander in the Middle East Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian expressed “frustration” at a recent coalition air strike that killed 40 children in Yemen, using US-supplied bombs.

“Clearly, we’re concerned about civilian casualties, and they know about our concern,” he told the New York Times. “The key here is to take appropriate action.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has warned Saudi Arabia that the US is prepared to cut its military and intelligence support to the coalition if it continues to target civilians, CNN reported.

Most recently, a Saudi strike last week killed 27 civilians, mostly children, fleeing the violence in the besieged southern city of Hodeidah.

The US and the UK have provided military and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition which was formed in March 2015 to restore the government of president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi who was ousted by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels that year.

The UN report, however, has not investigated the US and UK role in what it described as potential war crimes committed in Yemen.

The UN panel did not immediately respond to a Middle East Eye request for comment.

At a press conference on Tuesday, US Secretary of State James Mattis told reporters that the US “has not seen any callous disregard” by the Saudi-led coalition, and thus “will continue to work with them to reduce this tragedy,” in reference to the killing of non-combatants in the war using US-supplied weapons.

He also said the US support for the coalition is “not unconditional”. It is conditioned on the coalition “doing everything humanely possible to avoid any possible loss of life” and supporting the UN-brokered peace process.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, UAE, UNComments Off on UN Condemns Likely Saudi and UAE ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

UN Report on Yemen Ignores US Responsibility for War

NOVANEWS
 

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Post-9/11, Washington launched a drone war on Yemen as part of the “global war on terrorism” – largely killing defenseless civilians, supporting terrorists, not combatting them. The Bush/Cheney regime began what Obama and Trump escalated. 

US-backed full-scale Saudi/UAE-led aggression on the country began in March 2015.

Operating covertly, US special forces aid the blockade and slaughter, along with CIA/Pentagon intelligence and logistical support, along with direct US involvement in conflict on the ground – responsible for the world’s severest humanitarian crisis.

The campaign against Houthi fighters aims to restore US-appointed puppet president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to power – no matter the human cost, regardless of millions of Yemenis suffering from malnutrition, famine, untreated diseases, and Saudi/UAE terror-bombing.

A UN-sponsored report by a so-called Group of Regional And International Eminent Experts on Yemen said

“the Government of Yemen and the coalition, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and in the de facto authorities have committed acts that may, subject to determination by an independent and competent court, amount to international crimes.”

There’s no ambiguity about what’s going on and the culpable parties.

Airstrikes on civilian sites caused most casualties, targeting residential areas, markets, mosques, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, medical facilities, and other non-military related sites – flagrant war crimes under international law.

The so-called “Group of Experts (said they have) reasonable grounds to believe that individuals in the Government of Yemen and the coalition may (sic) have conducted attacks in violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution that may amount to war crimes.”

“There is little evidence of any attempt by parties to the conflict to minimize civilian casualties.”

Throughout years of full-scale war from March 19, 2015 through August 23, 2018, the UN Human Rights Office turned truth on its head, way-understating the casualty count – claiming 6,600 civilians killed, another 10,563 injured, while admitting the real figures are likely much higher.

An earlier UNICEF report said at least one Yemeni child under age-five dies every 10 minutes from starvation alone.

Annualized that’s 52,560 deaths – plus countless numbers of older children and adults perishing from starvation, many more from untreated diseases, and other war related factors, along with deaths from Saudi/UAE terror-bombing.

Three-and-a-half years of US-orchestrated, Saudi/UAE-led naked aggression and blockade likely caused hundreds of thousands of casualties – many times more than the way understated UN figures, the casualty count increasing daily, a genocidal holocaust killing a sovereign nation, largely ignored by world leaders and major media.

There’s no ambiguity about horrific ongoing war crimes, Washington, NATO, the Saudis and UAE largely responsible, even Israel to blame for supporting US-orchestrated aggression.

The so-called Group of Experts ignored US responsibility for orchestrating naked aggression on the region’s poorest country.

Houthi fighters aren’t free from culpability for illegal actions throughout the war. Yet their offenses are minor compared to US-sponsored aggression on the country, along with Saudi/UAE-led bombing and other high crimes, including illegal detentions, torture, and other abuses.

The so-called Group of Experts failed to lay blame where it mostly belongs. The scourge of US imperialism is what its endless wars of aggression are all about.

Posted in USA, UN, YemenComments Off on UN Report on Yemen Ignores US Responsibility for War

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