Tag: Gaza

children
Articles & StatementsBlogHuman Rights Defenders

4 June 2024: Remembering innocent children victims of international aggression

 

War zones expose children to daily dangers, denying them safety, education, food, and basic rights, necessitating urgent global humanitarian action. This year on International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression we remember the children of Gaza, Sudan, Myanmar, Turkiye, Syria, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Nigeria.

Children residing in war zones around the world witness unimaginable horrors on a daily basis. It is unsafe for them to play outside, sleep at home, attend school, or go to hospitals for medical attention.

Children around the globe endure unspeakable horrors even adults find unbearable and they are innocently caught in the midst of warring parties. They are being subjected to sexual violence, and abduction and are being forced to join armed groups, all while being deprived of essential humanitarian aid.

UN Reports, in Gaza the number of children killed is higher than from four years of world conflict. UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said “This war is a war on children. It is a war on their childhood and their future” [1]. More than 14,000 children have been reportedly killed and thousands have been injured. If not injured or killed children are deprived of essential needs, displaced and don’t have access to water, food and medicine. UNICEF had initially reported that “Rafah is now a city of children, who have nowhere safe to go in Gaza”. On the 26th of May 2024, the tents and shelters in Rafah have now been bombed which leaves no safe place for the children of Gaza. UNICEF reports that even wars have rules and no child should be cut off from essential services in accordance with international humanitarian law [2] reflecting that this is not a war but a genocide[3].

There is a silent war and famine going on in Sudan affecting innocent children. Human Rights Watch reports a gruesome incident where RSF Forces first shot the parents in front of their children and then piled up the children and shot them. They later threw their bodies into the river and their belongings after them[4].

To mark a year of brutality against Sudanese children, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) issued a media statement highlighting the violations resulting in 24 million children in Sudan being at risk of generational catastrophe. Among these children, 14 million are in dire need of humanitarian support, 19 million are out of school, and 4 million are displaced, according to UNICEF, making Sudan now the largest child displacement crisis in the world[5].

Since the military coup in 2021, the armed conflict, and the suffering and cruelty continue in Myanmar. Innocent children who are too young to comprehend the chaos around them, are caught in the midst of the conflict, malnourished and deprived of essential needs. UNICEF reports that 6,000,000 children are in need of humanitarian assistance [6].

A year after the deadliest earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria, children are still feeling the effects of the tragedy. Almost 7.5 million children in Syria still require humanitarian aid. 3.2 million children in Turkiye still need essential services as families are homeless and without access to essential services, including safe water, education, and medical care [7].

The human rights violations continue in Turkiye not only affecting innocent adults but affecting innocent children. Thousands of children are growing up in prison with their parents who are only detained due to Erdogan’s dictator regime in Turkiye. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is dismantling human rights protections and democratic norms in Turkiye on a scale unprecedented in the 18 years he has been in office, said Human Rights Watch [8]. Recently, several girls under 18 were detained and subjected to psychological torture due to non-implementation of the Constitutional Court and ECHR rulings.

Ethiopia is facing multiple crises due to climate crises (flood and drought), armed conflicts, diseases and economic shocks. Floods have affected the education sector in the Somali region with the disruption of the schooling of over 66,000 children (32.3 percent girls) and damage/destruction to school infrastructure (56 out of 146 flood-affected schools). The scale of damage to the schools and the reported sheltering of IDPs on school grounds will prevent thousands of children from returning to school [9].

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the decades-long armed conflict continued to cause grave violations against civilians and children. The M23 committed more unlawful killings, rapes, other apparent war crimes and crimes against humanity in areas under their control [10]. Save the Children has reported that 78,000 children have been forced to flee their homes due to the escalating violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)[11]. As armed conflict is a daily reality for the children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these children are facing poverty, sexual violence, being abducted, deprived of food and water and even being trained as child soldiers [12]. UNICEF’s Director of Child Protection said “I met children who survived the horrors of recruitment and use by armed groups and the unspeakable trauma of sexual violence – atrocities that no one should experience, let alone children” [13].

On 8 May 2024, Save the Children reported that children in Haiti are being forced into armed gangs due to extreme hunger. According to the UN, between 30% to 50% of armed groups in Haiti currently have children within their ranks. Save the Children’s Food and Livelihood Advisor in Haiti said “The hunger situation is so desperate our staff are hearing stories of children joining deadly gangs just so they can get food to eat” [14].

OCHA reports that in Nigeria children are at risk of forced recruitment into armed groups when unaccompanied and separated from families, especially children of those considered to be formerly associated or affiliated with armed groups. Protection concerns continue more so for women and girls, who run a higher risk of being subject to violence, abduction, rape, gender-based violence, forced and child marriage, and other violations of their rights. Children in Nigeria face malnutrition on an incomprehensible scale, 1.53 million children under five years old are expected to face acute malnutrition and about 511,800 children are expected to face severe acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition. [15]

On this international day of innocent children victims of aggression we remember all the innocent children who, instead of crying over lost toys, are crying due to fear, destruction, and violence. These children, born into a cruel world, deserve a childhood filled with love and safety, not suffering.

BY CEYDA KEMANCI

 

Sources:

[1] Gaza: Number of children killed higher than from four years of world conflict | UN News

 

[2] Children in Gaza need life-saving support | UNICEF

 

[3] Rights expert finds ‘reasonable grounds’ genocide is being committed in Gaza | UN News

 

[4] Children ‘piled up and shot’: new details emerge of ethnic cleansing in Darfur | Global development | The Guardian

 

[5] Sudan conflict: 24 million children exposed to a year of brutality and rights violations, UN committee says | OHCHR

 

[6] Myanmar-Humanitarian-SitRep-April-2024.pdf (unicef.org)

 

[7] One year after devastating earthquakes hit Türkiye and Syria, consequences continue to reverberate for affected children and families (unicef.org)

 

[8] Turkey: Erdoğan’s Onslaught on Rights and Democracy | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

 

[9] Ethiopia – Situation Report, 10 Jan 2024 | OCHA (unocha.org)

 

[10] World Report 2024: Democratic Republic of Congo | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

 

[11] DRC: AT LEAST 78,000 CHILDREN DISPLACED AND FAMILIES RIPPED APART AS FIGHTING ESCALATES | Save the Children International

 

[12] Children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – Humanium

 

[13] DR Congo: Children killed, injured, abducted, and face sexual violence in conflict at record levels for third consecutive year – UNICEF

 

[14] Extreme hunger in Haiti forcing children into armed gangs – Save the Children – Haiti | ReliefWeb

 

[15] “Nigeria Humanitarian Needs Overview 2024 | OCHA (unocha.org)

we-marched- all-victimised- women-day
CommitteeHuman Rights Defenders

We marched for all victimised women

At the Women’s Day march in London, thousands of people, including HRS volunteers in purple raincoats and masks, demanded justice. The London march for International Women’s Day took place on Saturday 9 March this year. Thousands of women took part in the march, which started on Oxford Street and ended in Trafalgar Square. Organised by Million Women Rise, the event is supported by all associations or foundations working in the field of women’s rights in the UK.

As in the previous 3 years, Human Rights Solidarity (HRS) Women’s Rights Committee members were also present at the march, which is known as the ‘world’s biggest women’s rights’ event. HRS Women’s Committee participated in the march with an interesting concept this year. About 40 HRS volunteer women wore purple raincoats and white masks on their faces. On the masks were written the names of women who were arrested in Turkey despite being sick, pregnant or having babies.

HRS volunteers also carried placards expressing the problems of all women who have been subjected to injustice or persecution. For example, there were banners written in Kurdish to draw attention to the injustice suffered by Kurdish women in Turkey, including one with the name of former MP Huda Kaya, who is currently in detention. There were also banners drawing attention to the current ‘genocide’ in Gaza, the war in Ukraine and the persecution of Uyghur people.

Throughout the march, women drew attention to the fact that more than 9,000 women have been killed in Gaza and frequently chanted slogans calling for an immediate ceasefire. The women also emphasised the need for governments to take more measures to end male violence.

HRS Women’s Committee Chair Ceyda Betul Kemanci made the following statement about the event: “As HRS, we participate in this important march with a different concept every year. Last year, we marched with a platform with a woman and child mannequin that we placed in a boat to explain the problems experienced by those who had to flee from Meric River due to unlawful behaviour in Turkey. This year we wore purple raincoats to represent women’s rights. There are also many women who are unjustly and unlawfully imprisoned in Turkey. In order to make their voices heard, we wore masks with the names of women, especially those who are sick, pregnant or with babies. We demanded an immediate end to these atrocities. We demanded that the ECtHR’s Yalcinkaya judgement be implemented without further delay. We demanded an end to the systematic torture and that those responsible be punished.

At the rally organised in Trafalgar Square where the march ended, speeches were made in line with the general concept of the march. Those who took the floor raised the voices of all girls and women who had been subjected to violence and expressed that they could put an end to male violence together. The demand for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza was also voiced here.

iwd
Articles & StatementsCommitteeWomen’s Rights

Statement on International Women’s Day

We demand an end to the killing of women, especially in Gaza, and to violence against women around the world. The main theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, which emphasises the importance of diversity and empowerment in all areas of society. This also emphasises the vital role of inclusion in achieving gender equality. A key pillar of the theme is the promotion of diversity in leadership and decision-making positions. Women, especially those belonging to underrepresented groups, continue to face barriers when seeking leadership or representation roles. As we mark International Women’s Day 2024, we reaffirm our commitment to building a world where all women are empowered, valued and included in decision-making. By working together to break down barriers and promote diversity, we can build a more equitable and inclusive society for future generations.

However, we regret to remind you that today there is another problem that is much more important than women’s participation in social life: Not being able to keep them alive. Sadly, on 7 October last year, many innocent women were killed in a terrorist attack on Israel by a group affiliated with HAMAS, which rules Gaza. In addition, HAMAS is still holding many hostages, including women. Israel responded to this attack with a very violent war. The Israeli army bombed many civilian centres, including hospitals, and unfortunately more than 9,000 innocent Palestinian women were killed in 5 months. What is more tragic is that the world, states and international organisations have failed to stop this ‘genocide’. ‘Humanity’ should not remain so helpless while women and children are being brutally killed! On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we once again make an urgent appeal to all responsible persons and authorities: Stop this massacre, this ‘genocide’ as soon as possible!

Afghanistan is in the third year of Taliban rule and women’s basic rights are being restricted day by day. Women summarise their situation as “We are alive but not living.” In 2023, the Taliban introduced new restrictions on women and girls. Some of these are as follows: Women and girls are banned from receiving education from the 6th grade onwards, and in some areas they are not allowed to attend any school after the age of 10. Women’s work in national and international NGOs was suspended. Beauty centres were closed and women were banned from using gyms. In addition, women who do not wear the headscarf, as demanded by the Taliban, are arrested. It is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with Afghan women and ensure that they regain their basic rights.

In Iran, a new veiling law came into force in 2023, imposing up to 10 years in prison for women who dress ‘indecently’. Tens of thousands of women have had their cars confiscated as punishment for defying this ban. Others have been prosecuted, sentenced to flogging or imprisonment, or faced other penalties such as fines or ‘attending moral classes’. Some have been threatened with death or sexual violence. We demand that the Iranian government respect the rights of women and girls and take immediate action to stop this persecution.

Turkey has not performed well on women’s rights in recent years and the situation has worsened since 2021. Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, which it signed in 2011, by presidential decree in March 2021. This encourages impunity for crimes against women. For example, 334 women were killed by men in 2022, rising to 438 last year. In addition, for the last 10 years the Turkish government has been using ‘anti-terrorism laws’, which are not compatible with the ECHR, to silence dissent in the country. According to official statistics, nearly 100,000 women have been prosecuted under these laws since 2015 and more than 50,000 of them have been arrested. Some of those still in detention have not been released, despite the ECtHR’s ‘violation of rights’ judgement in 2023. Prisons in Turkey are overcrowded and women prisoners are subjected to inhuman treatment, including sexual harassment, strip searches and psychological torture. Sick, pregnant, infant and elderly women continue to be held in prisons in violation of the law. The international community should press the Turkish government to ensure that women and girls from vulnerable populations are provided with the support and resources they need to rebuild their lives.

The ongoing Russian occupation and war in Ukraine continues to have a devastating impact on women. According to UN figures, 80 per cent of the approximately 8.5 million displaced Ukrainians are women and girls. These women are often the targets of violence and sexual abuse. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian women serve alongside men in the army. Women who are not on the front line are under mental and physical pressure to care for their families and rebuild their lives. We must do everything we can to support women in Ukraine and ensure that their voices are heard.

We should not forget the impact on women of the restrictions on immigration imposed by Western countries. Many women are forced to leave home and family behind in search of a better life, only to face discrimination and hardship in their new countries. We must call on governments to do more to support these women and provide the resources they need to thrive.

On the other hand, the digital divide is greater for women and they are victimised by new forms of online violence and harassment. It is crucial to ensure that these technologies incorporate a human rights-first approach and prioritise the protection of women and girls on their platforms.

In conclusion, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we have to remember that gender equality and women’s participation in decision-making and representation mechanisms is not a privilege but a fundamental human right. We must realise that we cannot achieve equality without eliminating gender-based violence. We must also recognise that no society can reach its full potential if half of its population is left behind.

On this day, we call on governments and other national and international organisations to take immediate action to address the many challenges and injustices faced by women around the world. Only then can we build a more just and equitable world for all.

 

Lebanon Israel Palestinians
BlogEnvironmental RightsExecutive Committee

The effects of the weapons used in Gaza

White phosphorus: A destructive chemical weapon, harming beyond the battlefield. Pollutes air, soil, water, harming life and violating international law. White phosphorus is a chemical weapon [1] of war and is designed to inflict harm and destruction. Unfortunately, its impact goes beyond the immediate targets on the battlefield. When white phosphorus is deployed, it releases toxic substances into the air, soil, and water, leaving behind a trail of environmental destruction. [2]

One of the most alarming consequences is the contamination of soil. White phosphorus can persist in the ground, making it infertile and unsuitable for agriculture. This not only affects the livelihoods of those in conflict zones but also has long-term consequences for the ecosystems that support diverse forms of life.

Furthermore, when white phosphorus comes into contact with water sources, it leads to water pollution. The release of this chemical weapon can contaminate rivers and lakes, harming aquatic life and disrupting the delicate balance of ecosystems. The long-lasting environmental damage caused by white phosphorus affects not only the current generation but poses challenges for future generations as well.

According to The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [3] its prohibited to use incendiary weapons like white phosphorus against civilians. Unfortunately, it has been used against civilian in the Gaza Strip on 10th of October of 2023. We, as responsible global citizens, should condemn the use of white phosphorus as a weapon of war.

Another huge hazard is the release of asbestos in war inflicted areas. Asbestos is relatively safe when trapped in cement in building however poses a hazard when the building is destroyed such as demolition of buildings in Gaza. The consequences are alarming, as millions of tons of highly hazardous, asbestos-contaminated rubble are left in the wake of such destruction, presenting a long-term health threat. According to WHO expose leads to breathing difficulties and lung cancer.[4] Not only does it harm humans but animals too. Cats, dogs, and other animals can develop asbestos related illness where treatment option is limited and survival is low. [5]

Shortly, the devastating impact of white phosphorus extends far beyond the conflict area, leaving an lasting mark on both the environment and human lives. Additionally, the release of asbestos in conflict areas, poses an ongoing health threat for both humans and animals.

BY AYNUR BALKAS

 

References
[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/white-phosphorus
[2] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tfacts103.pdf
[4] https://geneva-s3.unoda.org/static-unoda-site/pages/templates/the-convention-on-certain-conventional-weapons/PROTOCOL%2BIII.pdf
[4] https://www.preventionweb.net/blog/rebuilding-ukraine-imminent-risks-asbestos
[5] https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/107335/9789289013581-eng.pdf?sequence=1

hrd10d
Articles & StatementsBlog

10 December: A day of solidarity with people in the grip of conflict and crisis

 

December 10, Human Rights Day illuminates our identity, reminding us of our shared humanity, responsibilities, and the poetry of existence. In the heart of winter, as we are floating on the misty ocean of our collective consciousness the 10th of December emerges as the poetry of who we are, where we did come from, where we are going.

On this day, as we commemorate and observe Human Rights Day, we understand that when we, as humanity, forget who we are and where we come from, we risk beginning to cease to exist.

We may not see the dreams that cease to exist in the narrow alleys of Gaza, but those dreams become the stars that guide us in the spectacular ocean of our collective consciousness. Even though we do not understand the agony many individuals go through in Ukraine, the nation’s resilience becomes the boat on which we float. The suffering of the Uyghur Turks in China and their plight, marked by violations of fundamental human rights becomes the mist floating on the ocean of our consciousness.

As we mark the 10th of December, this day is a call to action, an invitation to stand in solidarity with those in the throes of conflict and crisis. It is a day to affirm our commitment to the ideals of justice, equality, and dignity for all.

In the heart of winter, December 10th stands as a beacon of hope, a reminder that even in the ongoing passage of time, we can embalm the virtues of human rights into our calendar of wisdom.

Let this day be a day of reflection on who we are, where we came from, where we are going, but also of resolve – a resolve to make the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights not just a poetry, but a reality for every person, in every corner of the world.

If this day does not become a day of resolve and reflection, then we would get lost like a waterdrop in an ocean.

Israeli air strikes hit Hamas targets in Gaza
Articles & Statements

Peace is not a choice; it is the only way out

HRS supports all rights-deprived individuals, condemning terrorism and excessive Israeli actions in Gaza, urging respect for human rights and peace. As Human Rights Solidarity it is our duty to stand in solidarity with all human beings deprived of their rights.
When terrorism hits Israeli civilians, we stand with them.
When Israeli operations in Gaza surpass the limits of self-defense and cause harm to unarmed Palestinian civilians, we stand with the Palestinians.
Occupation may beget terrorism, but both deserve condemnation.
Israel is hijacked by a populist regime.
The Palestinian cause is hijacked by a terrorist organisation.
We implore both sides to respect human rights as enshrined in international conventions.
We implore third parties to help protect Gaza from a looming humanitarian crisis and to help to return kidnapped Israelis to their families.
Peace is not a choice; it is the only way out.
Occupation and terrorism should not be seen as available courses of action, even when no other clear options are seen in the horizon.