Will a US citizen get a life sentence tomorrow in Egypt?

U.S. citizen Mohamed Soltan is wrongfully imprisoned in Egypt and on hunger strike.  Mr. Soltan is at risk of receiving life imprisonment tomorrow on trumped up charges and for so-called “crimes” that are not recognized under international standards and human rights law.

Mohamed Soltan

Will the Obama Administration do more than just privately push for his release?  There is no indication that Egyptian officials are going to resolve his case in a positive manner without increased public pressure.

Read our Amnesty International letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry.

Mr. Soltan is a dual US-Egypt national who was arrested in August 2013 as part of a sweeping crackdown on supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.  During his wrongful imprisonment, he had to undergo a medical procedure by a cellmate without anesthesia or sterilization to remove the supporting metal pins from his arm.  Prison authorities had refused to have him transferred to a hospital to receive proper medical care.

9 Questions for the U.S. Government on the Middle East:

Saudi Arabia:  U.S. intelligence cooperation

Is the U.S. providing intelligence to the Government of Saudi Arabia that can be used by Saudi Arabian authorities to violate the human rights of peaceful reformers and critics?

Saudi Arabia:  Prisoners of Conscience

What steps is the U.S. government taking to secure the release of prisoners of conscience like Raif Badawi from Saudi Arabia’s prisons?

Israel:  

What steps is the U.S. taking to prevent the Government of Israel from using U.S. arms to commit human rights violations against Palestinian civilians living under Israeli occupation?

Syria: Refugee resettlement

There are now 4 million Syrian refugees.  Over the last four years, the U.S. has only resettled a few hundred Syrian refugees.  How many Syrian refugees does the U.S. expect to permanently resettle in the U.S. in 2015?

Syria/Iraq:  U.S. military assistance

How will the U.S. prevent U.S. military assistance in Iraq and Syria from facilitating more war crimes and human rights abuses?
What steps is the U.S. taking to protect Sunni communities from abuses by Shi’a militias affiliated with the Iraqi government?

Syria/Iraq:  U.S. air strikes

Is the U.S. investigate reports of civilian casualties from U.S. air strikes in Syria and Iraq?

Will the U.S. publish the results of these investigations, hold accountable those responsible for civilian casualties, and provide reparations to families and survivors?

Bahrain:  U.S. arms sales

In 2012, the U.S. State Department announced that it would not allow the sale of arms to Bahrain “typically used by police and other security forces for internal security” or “crowd control.”  Has the U.S. resumed the sale of arms to Bahrain in this category?

Is the U.S. currently providing arms to Bahraini security forces that can be used against peaceful protestors and critics of the government?

Sexual Violence: Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia.

What can be done to stop sexual violence against women in ‪Iraq‬ and ‪‎Syria‬?

This morning, I had the privilege of joining experts on a panel hosted by the American Red Cross, Physicians for Human Rights, and other key groups.

We focused on Iraq and Syria, and I also got into issues affecting women in ‪Saudi Arabia‬, ‪Qatar‬, and ‪North Africa‬.

Panel - 2014-11-06 - Sexual violence - Iraq and Syria - American Red Cross

Repressive U.S. allies in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the battle against “Islamic State”

On Thursday, I spoke with CCTV America about Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other repressive governments reported to be supporting U.S. actions against the armed group calling itself “Islamic State.” Click to watch.

On Thursday, I spoke with CCTV America about Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other repressive governments reported to be supporting U.S. actions against the armed group calling itself “Islamic State.”

Click to watch.

Interview - CCTV - 2014-09-25 - US allies and ISIS

What Nicholas Kristof Didn’t Mention

Nicholas Kristof criticizes both leaders of Israel and Hamas in his latest column for The New York Times. If you decide to read it, keep in mind the following two oversights and errors.

First, there’s one word he doesn’t use: occupation. Since 1967, *every* Israeli government has taken Palestinian land and built settlements. This isn’t just an action by conservative or “right wing” Israeli governments. Israeli settlement construction — and the brutality towards Palestinians involved — has been supported by both Labor and Likud parties.

Second, Mr. Kristof ignores the history of nonviolent campaigns by Palestinians that Israeli security forces have brutally repressed in the occupied West Bank. Get this: Under Israeli Military Order 101, it is illegal for Palestinians to peacefully protest the Israeli military occupation without an Israeli military commander’s permission.

The many indiscriminate rockets fired by Hamas into Israel are war crimes. The same is likely to be true for many Israeli attacks in Gaza. Gaza civilians are now reeling under the latest Israeli invasion and the seven years of an ongoing Israeli blockade. But American readers of The New York Times need to know that over the decades of US-armed Israeli occupation, there are other details to this sad story that should have been mentioned in Kristof’s latest piece.

CCTV Interview: Israel, Hamas, and Gaza

I spoke with CCTV News Anchor Susan Roberts about Israel, Hamas, and Gaza yesterday evening.  CCTV is a global Chinese network.

You can watch the full interview here.

CCTV interview of Sunjeev Bery regarding Israel, Hamas, and Gaza Blockade.
CCTV interview of Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA

 

Iraq’s Crisis: 3 Quick Points for U.S. Policymakers

As the latest crisis in Iraq unfolds, here are three basic points for U.S. policymakers to keep in mind:

  1. The protection of civilians must be a top priority in Mosul and in every Iraqi community facing armed conflict.
  2. The Iraqi central government has an abysmal human rights record that has left communities scarred. Government human rights violations have widely been seen as a significant factor in widespread popular discontent.
  3. The U.S. government must push the Iraqi central government to make significant human rights reforms in order to address long-term public discontent and instability.

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500,000 civilians are reported to have fled Mosul following its takeover by one or more armed groups that include those belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). This follows the reported displacement of close to half a million Iraqis in Fallujah since January, following ISIS’ expulsion of Iraqi security forces there.

ISIS armed groups, Iraqi security forces, and other potential armed groups must avoid repeating the violence against civilians that took place in Fallujah. Iraqi government forces have used indiscriminate shelling in Fallujah in the past six months, including on hospitals and in residential areas. There have been over 5,000 civilian deaths.

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  • The Iraqi central government has an abysmal human rights record that has left communities scarred. Government human rights violations have widely been seen as a significant factor in widespread popular discontent.

Thousands of detainees languish in prison without charge. Many of those who are brought to trial are sentenced to long prison terms or to death after unfair proceedings. In many cases, convictions are based on “confessions” extracted under torture.

Iraq remains one of the world’s most prolific executioners with at least 169 executed in 2013. As with prison terms, death sentences can also follow “confessions” extracted under torture. In many cases, such “confessions” are televised nationally.

Torture and other ill-treatment inside prisons and detention centers is rife and routinely goes unpunished.

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  • To ensure stability in Iraq, the U.S. government must address popular discontent by pushing the Iraqi central government to make significant human rights reforms.

Iraq’s long-term human rights crisis can no longer be viewed by the U.S. and other external governments as “Iraq’s problem” or an internal matter. To ensure security and safety in Iraq, widespread popular discontent must be addressed by pushing the Iraqi central government to end its terrible human rights record.

Interview: The Pope’s Call for Action on Refugees and Migrants

 

"When it comes to immigration, Pope Francis says our globalized world has led to globalized indifference to their suffering. Boston Cardinal O'Malley is working to end that indifference. What role does the Church play in worldwide immigration crises?"

Thousands are fleeing economic hardship, repression, and violence via boats from North Africa in a desperate attempt to reach Europe’s shores.

Today I joined a panel on Huffington Post Live to talk about Pope Francis’ recent call for action on refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers attempting to enter Europe.

You can watch the clip here.