U.N. panel accuses U. S. and Israel of genocide; some calling for the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants

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Important Takeaways:

  • The United Nations hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday in which panelists accused the state of Israel of genocide – and implicated America for its support of the country – in its ongoing war against the jihadist terrorist organization Hamas.
  • Panelists claimed that Israel’s military operation in Gaza, the Hamas stronghold, to ensure that the terrorist group ceases to pose a threat to civilians after the killing of 1,200 people and abduction of about 250 others on October 7 constituted genocide on the grounds that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have targeted seemingly civilian structures such as hospitals and schools. One panelist accused the United States of being complicit in genocide due to weapons sales to Israel.
  • Katherine Gallagher – a senior staff attorney for the Centre for Constitutional Rights…
    • “I would argue the United States has crossed the line into complicity,”
    • “The United States is the largest provider of military, economic, and political assistance and – I would argue – political cover that has the ability to use its considerable influence and unique position to take all measures to stop Israel’s unfolding genocide,” she told the panel. “Of course, the United States is not the only country that has such influence and such ability. Instead, though, the United States at every opportunity has done the opposite.”
    • Gallagher also suggested pressuring the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue “arrest warrants for those who are committing and those who are aiding and abetting the crimes of genocide,” presumably including American political leadership up to American President Joe Biden.

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Hundreds of journalists pressure media to cast Israel as the problem

Important Takeaways:

  • 750 global journalists say media should cast Israeli actions as ‘genocide, apartheid’
  • Over 750 former and current journalists around the world have signed a petition calling on the media to begin using terms such as “genocide” and “apartheid” to describe Israel’s actions in the conflict with the Palestinians, while blasting international media coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.
  • “Israel has blocked foreign press entry, heavily restricted telecommunications, and bombed press offices,” the petition read. “Some 50 media headquarters in Gaza have been hit in the past month. Israeli forces explicitly warned newsrooms they ‘cannot guarantee’ the safety of their employees from airstrikes.
  • “Taken with a decades-long pattern of lethally targeting journalists, Israel’s actions show wide-scale suppression of speech,” it claimed.
  • Journalists from Reuters, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, and The Washington Post are among the signatories.

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Hamas supporter North Korea blames IDF for explosion near al-Ahil hospital in Gaza; makes accusation of ‘Genocide’

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Important Takeaways:

  • North Korea accuses Israel of ‘genocide’ in Gaza, labels US an ‘accomplice’
  • North Korean media accused Israel of responsibility for the recent explosion near al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in the Gaza Strip.
  • “What should not be overlooked is that Israel’s such criminal act was openly committed under the undisguised patronage of the U.S.,” a North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson told state media outlet Korean Central News Agency.
  • “Immediately after the bombing of the hospital by Israel, the U.S. covered such crime, making absurd sophism that the incident seemed to be committed by other forces rather than Israel,” the North Korean spokesperson continued. “This shows that the U.S. is an accomplice who connived at and fostered Israel’s genocide.”
  • Russia has boasted similar rhetoric to North Korea, blaming U.S. interventionism for the terrorism and violence plaguing the region.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un have significantly strengthened relations between the countries — most recently with a rare diplomatic envoy from the hermit kingdom.

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Watch Turkey. Seems as long as the U.S. remains weak anything can happen

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Erdogan Threatens Greece
  • “We have only one sentence for Greece: Do not forget Izmir [the city of Smyrna]. Your occupying the [Aegean] islands will not stop us; we will do what is necessary when the time comes. You know what we say: ‘Unexpectedly one night we shall come to [conquer] you.” — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sondakika.com, September 4, 2022.
  • The Turkish attacks against the Greeks and Armenians of Smyrna began [in 1922] with looting, rapes and massacres, and ended with a fire that destroyed the Christian districts of the city.
  • The Republic of Turkey actually boasts of its genocide.

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Biden signs bill banning goods from China’s Xinjiang over forced labor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law legislation that bans imports from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns about forced labor, the White House said.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is part of the U.S. pushback against Beijing’s treatment of the China’s Uyghur Muslim minority, which Washington has labeled genocide.

The bill passed Congress this month after lawmakers reached a compromise between House and Senate versions.

Key to the legislation is a “rebuttable presumption” that assumes all goods from Xinjiang, where Beijing has established detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim groups, are made with forced labor. It bars imports unless it can be proven otherwise.

Some goods – such as cotton, tomatoes, and polysilicon used in solar-panel manufacturing – are designated “high priority” for enforcement action.

China denies abuses in Xinjiang, a major cotton producer that also supplies much of the world’s materials for solar panels.

Its Washington embassy did not respond to a request for comment.

Nury Turkel, Uyghur-American vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told Reuters this month the bill’s effectiveness would depend on the willingness of Biden’s administration to ensure it is effective, especially when companies seek waivers.

One of the bill’s co-authors, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, said it was necessary to “send a resounding and unequivocal message against genocide and slave labor.”

“Now … we can finally ensure that American consumers and businesses can buy goods without inadvertent complicity in China’s horrific human rights abuses,” he said in a statement.

In its final days in January, the Trump administration announced a ban on all Xinjiang cotton and tomato products.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency estimated then that about $9 billion of cotton products and $10 million of tomato products were imported from China in the past year.

(Reporting by Paul Grant and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Howard Goller)

U.S. imposes sweeping human rights sanctions on China, Myanmar and N Korea

By Daphne Psaledakis, David Brunnstrom and Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States on Friday imposed extensive human rights-related sanctions on dozens of people and entities tied to China, Myanmar, North Korea and Bangladesh, and added Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime Group to an investment blacklist.

Canada and the United Kingdom joined the United States in imposing sanctions related to human rights abuses in Myanmar, while Washington also imposed the first new sanctions on North Korea https://www.reuters.com/world/china/us-maintain-troop-level-south-korea-minister-2021-12-02 under President Joe Biden’s administration and targeted Myanmar military entities, among others, in action marking Human Rights Day.

“Our actions today, particularly those in partnership with the United Kingdom and Canada, send a message that democracies around the world will act against those who abuse the power of the state to inflict suffering and repression,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.

The North Korean mission at the United Nations and China’s, Myanmar’s and Bangladesh’s embassies in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Biden gathered over 100 world leaders at a virtual summit this week and made a plea for bolstering democracies around the world, calling safeguarding rights and freedoms in the face of rising authoritarianism the “defining challenge” of the current era. The U.S. Treasury Department has taken a series of sanctions actions this week to mark the summit.

The Treasury on Friday added Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime to a list of “Chinese military-industrial complex companies,” accusing it of having developed facial recognition programs that can determine a target’s ethnicity, with a particular focus on identifying ethnic Uyghurs.

As a result the company will fall under an investment ban for U.S. investors. SenseTime is close to selling 1.5 billion shares in an initial public offering (IPO). After news of the Treasury restrictions earlier this week, the company began discussing the fate of the planned $767 million offering with Hong Kong’s stock exchange, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

U.N. experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in China’s far-west region of Xinjiang.

China denies abuses in Xinjiang, but the U.S. government and many rights groups say Beijing is carrying out genocide there.

The Treasury said it was imposing sanctions on two Myanmar military entities and an organization that provides reserves for the military. The Directorate of Defense Industries, one of the entities targeted, makes weapons for the military and police that have been used in a brutal crackdown on opponents of the military’s Feb. 1 coup.

The Treasury also targeted four regional chief ministers, including Myo Swe Win, who heads the junta’s administration in the Bago region where the Treasury said at least 82 people were killed in a single day in April.

Canada imposed sanctions against four entities affiliated with the Myanmar military government, while the United Kingdom imposed fresh sanctions against the military.

Myanmar was plunged into crisis when the military overthrew leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her government on Feb. 1, triggering daily protests in towns and cities and fighting in borderlands between the military and ethnic minority insurgents.

Junta forces seeking to crush opposition have killed more than 1,300 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group.

The Treasury also blacklisted North Korea’s Central Public Prosecutors Office had been designated, along with the former minister of social security and recently assigned Minister of People’s Armed Forces Ri Yong Gil, as well as a Russian university for facilitating the export of workers from North Korea.

North Korea has long sought a lifting of punishing U.S. and international sanctions imposed over its weapons programs and has denounced U.S. criticism of its human rights record as evidence of a hostile policy against it.

The Biden administration has repeatedly called on North Korea to engage in dialogue over its nuclear and missiles programs, without success.

The U.S. State Department on Friday also barred 12 people from traveling to the United States, including officials in China, Belarus and Sri Lanka.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Simon Lewis, David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick, Alexandra Alper, Tim Ahmann and David Ljunggren; Editing by Chris Sanders, Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)

Germany jails Islamic State member for life over role in Yazidi genocide

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -A German court on Tuesday jailed a former Islamic State militant for life for involvement in genocide and crimes against humanity against minority Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, including the murder of a five-year-old girl.

It was the first genocide verdict against a member of Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda that seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014 before being ousted by U.S.-backed counter-offensives, losing its last territorial redoubt in 2019.

In a landmark ruling, the court in Frankfurt found Taha al-Jumailly, 29, an Iraqi national, guilty of involvement in the slaughter of more than 3,000 Yazidis and enslavement of 7,000 women and girls by IS jihadists in 2014-15.

This, the court ruled, included the murder of a five-year-old girl the defendant had enslaved and chained to a window, leaving her to die in scorching heat in 2015 in Iraq.

Al-Jumailly, who entered the court covering his face with a file folder, was arrested in Greece in 2019 and extradited to Germany where relatives of slain Yazidis acted as plaintiffs supporting the prosecution.

“Today’s ruling marks the first ever worldwide confirmation by a court that the crimes of Islamic State against the Yazidi religious group are genocide,” said Meike Olszak of Amnesty International’s branch in Germany.

The defendant’s German wife, identified only as Jennifer W., was used as a prosecution witness at his trial. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison last month for involvement in the enslavement of the Yazidi girl and her mother.

The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority in eastern Syria and northwest Iraq that Islamic State viewed as supposed devil worshippers for their faith that combines Zoroastrian, Christian, Manichean, Jewish and Muslim beliefs.

Islamic State’s depredations also displaced most of the 550,000-strong Yazidi community.

(Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Bosnia’s Mladic orchestrated Europe’s worst atrocities since World War Two

By Ivana Sekularac and Anthony Deutsch

BELGRADE/THE HAGUE (Reuters) -Ratko Mladic was dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia” for terrorizing the capital Sarajevo with a 43-month siege and presiding over the 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims in a U.N.-designated “safe area,” Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.

The Srebrenica slaughter was the grisly culmination of a 3-1/2-year war in which nationalist Bosnian Serb forces under Mladic pounded Sarajevo daily with artillery, tanks, mortars and heavy machine guns, killing 10,000.

The dead from Srebrenica were bulldozed into mass graves over four days in July 1995, some of which were dug up and relocated to remote mountains to hide evidence of the killings.

The goal, as determined by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), was “ethnic cleansing” – the forcible expulsion of Bosnian Muslims, Croats and other non-Serbs to clear Bosnian lands for a Greater Serbia.

The tribunal, in a judgment upheld by appeals judges on Tuesday, ruled at his 2017 trial that Mladic was part of “a criminal conspiracy” with Bosnian Serb political leaders. It found Mladic was in “direct contact” with then-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 shortly before the verdict in his ICTY trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.

“I do not recognize this court,” Mladic said at a hearing in The Hague in 2018. When he was sentenced to life in prison in 2017 on charges if genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, he shouted: “This is all lies, you are all liars!”

Karadzic, who was convicted of genocide in 2016, and Mladic topped the ICTY wanted list for years after Western powers ended the war in 1995. Mladic lived securely, if discreetly, in Belgrade until a popular uprising toppled Milosevic in 2000.

Milosevic died in his prison cell of a heart attack at age 64, near the end of his four-year tribunal trial. Karadzic, now 75, is serving out his life sentence in a British prison.

“For me Mladic is a symbol of all the horrible crimes that happened during the war – our girls were raped, and boys killed, only because they were Muslim. Germans had Hitler, Serbs have Mladic,” said Munira Subasic, whose son and husband were killed by Bosnian Serb forces that overran Srebrenica.

“I watched him in the courtroom and he was proud of everything he had done, I saw no regrets on his face.”

The army Mladic created to fight against Bosnia’s 1992 secession from Serbian-led Yugoslavia was a model of ruthlessness and brutality.

Some of its prisoners suffocated in the heat after being forced to eat salt and refused water. Others were starved and raped in prison camps, made to jump off a bridge and shot or gunned down at night by the hundreds after being driven out of detention with gas.

Mladic had a cameraman film his blitz on the encircled enclave of Srebrenica, to show him extolling his “lads” and haranguing Dutch U.N. peacekeepers who misguidedly accepted his solemn word that the inhabitants would be safe in his hands.

“We give this town to the Serb people as a gift,” he said to the camera, claiming the victory as revenge against Muslim Turks, who once held the area as part of the Ottoman Empire.

The next day, Mladic’s forces were filmed handing out sweets to children, promising their safe passage, while at the same time thousands of men and boys were being readied for execution.

When NATO tried in 1995 to rein in his forces with the threat of air strikes, his troops defiantly seized U.N. peacekeepers as human shields, chaining them to likely targets.

SON OF PARTISAN FIGHTER

The son of a World War Two Serb partisan fighter killed in 1945, Mladic was an officer in the old communist Yugoslav Federal Army (JNA) when the country began to break up in 1991.

When Bosnian Serbs rose in 1992 against Bosnia’s Muslim-led secession, Mladic was picked to command a new Bosnian Serb army that swiftly overran 70 percent of the country.

Towns were besieged with heavy weapons that once belonged to the JNA. Villages were burned as 22,000 troops of a U.N. Protection Force stood by, with orders not to take sides.

Some of his supporters say Mladic had become even more ruthless after his daughter Ana killed herself with Mladic’s trophy gun in 1994.

A combination of Western pressure and covert American arms and training for Bosnian Muslims and Croats gradually turned the tide against Mladic’s army. Precision NATO strikes did the rest.

Yet many nationalist Serbs still regard him as a hero for cutting casualties on their side and trying to unite their people in one country.

“Ratko Mladic remains a legend for Serb people and a man who has put his professional and human capabilities in the service of the freedom of the Serb people,” current Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said.

SICK AND FRAIL

When arrested in 2011, Mladic looked nothing like the burly general who ruffled the hair of a Srebrenica boy in July 1995.

He seemed older than his years. In his few court appearances, he wavered between maudlin self-pity, smiling defiance and vague distraction.

“I am a very sick man,” Mladic pleaded to the court.

In June 2019, Mladic’s lawyer said his client was suffering from deteriorating brain function and cardiovascular trouble after a heart attack in 2013. “There is a great risk of a new stroke and a new heart attack,” Branko Lukic said.

In convicting him for the siege of Sarajevo and Srebrenica, the 2,500-page war crimes verdict said Mladic’s acts were “so instrumental to the commission of the crimes that without them, the crimes would not have been committed as they were.”

(Reporting by Ivana SekularacEditing by Mark Heinrich)

U.S. calls Xinjiang an ‘open-air prison,’ decries religious persecution by China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Chinese government has turned its western Xinjiang province into essentially an “open-air prison,” a U.S. State Department official said on Wednesday as the department published a report that criticized China’s persecution of religious minorities.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January said that China’s actions in Xinjiang constitute crimes against humanity and genocide, a verdict his successor, Antony Blinken, has said he agrees with.

China rejects the claim and says it is countering extremism in Xinjiang.

Daniel Nadel, a senior official in the State Department’s Office of International Freedom, said the situation has shifted from the use of what China calls “vocational education and training centers” to detain ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims, to the use of surveillance “to essentially turn the entire region into an open-air prison”.

“People’s movements are closely tracked. You have minders who have been assigned to live with Uyghurs to keep tabs on them. You have people going to the market who have to check in every time they go to a different market stall,” he said at a press briefing.

The oppression of Muslims was “the culmination of decades of repression of religious adherents” in China, Nadel added.

The State Department report, an annual update on religious freedom around the world, also detailed China’s persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group.

Blinken announced that he was also imposing a visa ban on Chinese official Yu Hui and his family for Yu Hui’s involvement in arbitrary detentions of Falun Gong followers.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis, Humeyra Pamuk and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

UN investigator says he has evidence of genocide against Iraq’s Yazidis

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.N. team investigating Islamic State crimes in Iraq has found “clear and convincing evidence that the crimes against the Yazidi people clearly constituted genocide,” the head of the inquiry said on Monday.

Karim Khan told the U.N. Security Council that the team, which started work in 2018, had also identified perpetrators “that clearly have responsibility for the crime of genocide against the Yazidi community.”

The Yazidis are a religious sect whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions. Islamic State militants consider the Yazidis to be devil-worshippers.

Khan, a British lawyer who will next month become the International Criminal Court prosecutor, said the intent of Islamic State “to destroy the Yazidi, physically and biologically, was manifest in the ultimatum that was repeated in so many different villages in Iraq – to convert or die.”

Islamic State overran the Yazidi heartland in northern Iraq in 2014, forcing young women into servitude as “wives” for fighters, massacring thousands of people and displacing most of the 550,000-strong community. In 2016 an independent U.N. commission of inquiry described it as genocide.

Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi woman who was enslaved and raped by Islamic State, and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney lobbied the Security Council, which then created the U.N. investigative team in 2017.

They also pushed for the council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court or create a special court.

“Evidence has been found, but we are still searching for the political will to prosecute,” Murad, who won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, told the Security Council on Monday.

The U.N. team has so far identified 1,444 possible perpetrators of attacks against the Yazidis.

Khan also said that from the team’s investigation into the mass killing of unarmed cadets and military personnel at Tikrit Air Academy in June 2014 “it is clear that the crime of direct and public incitement to commit genocide occurred.”

The team has identified 20 people of interest and 875 victims remains from 11 mass graves from the Tikrit attack by the Sunni extremists against Shia Muslims.

(Reporting by Michelle NicholsEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool)