Human Rights Watch


Aramark prompts 1,000 Ohio inmates to dump their food over inhumane maggot infestation
August 9, 2014

Since Michigan turned over food services at its prisons to a private contractor in December, the state has seen a spate of maggot infestations in and around prison foodoutbreaks of food poisoning, and meal shortages. In Ohio this week, inmates facing the second maggott infestation this year at their facility dumped their lunch trays in the garbage en masse in protest.

The mother of one of the inmates at Ohio Reformatory for Women reported the protest to the local ABC affiliate, telling the news outlet, “People make mistakes, it doesn’t mean you have to be treated like a dog.”

In both states, the problems have come since they turned over their food services to private contractor Aramark. In the latest in a series of moves toward privatization of prison services, Michigan signed the three-year, $145 million contract with Aramark last year. The contract displaced some 370 prison workers, according to the Detroit Free Press, and the company pays workers about half as much as the state had been paying its employees for food service.

Aramark was fined $98,000 in March for violations related to food substitutions and workers getting too friendly with inmates. In video footage, several staff members were seen kissing and inappropriately touching inmates. More than 80 Aramark employees have been fired and banned from prison properties over these and other infractions. The firm has also been charged with lax security that has allowed knives and other contraband to enter the prison through the food service. And in Ohio, state officials say they’ve already fined the company more than $270,000.

Even. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder ® told reporters in July that the maggot infestations were “unacceptable” and that he would consider incidents like this when mulling whether to terminate Aramark’s 3-year contract with the state Department of Corrections.

According to MLive columnist Steve Miller, “the state almost shelved the idea of privatizing food service for the state’s prisons when it determined that its savings would not be enough to justify it. At the last minute, though, several Republican lawmakers insisted that the deal be made.”

In 2009, Aramark terminated its relationship with Florida’s prisons after six years of disputes and fines by the state.


Trigger warning: graphic images of violence, homophobia

Here Is The Shocking Footage Of Gay Men Being Beaten On Camera In Russia

Thanks to Human Rights Watch, we’re able to see the harrowing footage of the brave LGBTQ community in Russia standing up for their rights despite being severely threatened, tortured, and in fear of their own lives.

Yet their attackers seem to not fear the law at all — and that is because they are essentially free to get away with this type of treatment. So much so that they even upload their own videos of torture onto YouTube. See the footage below and speak out against this horrifying behavior.

Warning: This video is truly horrendous, and it contains graphic images (pretty much from 11 seconds in).


Israel blocks Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch from Gaza
August 19, 2014

The Israeli government is blocking Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch from entering the Gaza Strip, preventing researchers from investigating the assault. The Israeli journalist Amira Hass reports the groups have been told they must register as a humanitarian aid organization, only to later be informed they do not qualify. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have previously issued reports that raised allegations of potential war crimes by Israel, as well as on a smaller scale by Hamas.

Civil Rights At Issue In Korea, But Not The Korea You'd Expect
"Every issue that we are facing violates the core principles of democracy," says a South Korean labor leader. The government says it's cracking down to protect national security.

The spokesman for S. Korea’s ruling party argues that it’s okay to suppress demonstrations and free speech because the message of the demonstrations are “not just” and “impure.” But does the government get to decide what’s just and what’s pure?

Eight years after Nepal’s civil war ended, hundreds of rape survivors still suffer in fear and silence with no access to justice, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports. Activists called on the government to take action to encourage women to come forward and to scrap a legal requirement that rapes be reported within 35 days. 

“Justice and reparations for women who suffered sexual assault is long overdue unfinished business from the civil war,” says HRW South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly.

Read more via Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Gaza: Israeli Soldiers Shoot and Kill Fleeing Civilians | Human Rights Watch

(Gaza) – Israeli forces in the southern Gaza town of Khuza’a fired on and killed civilians in apparent violation of the laws of war in several incidents between July 23 and 25, 2014. Deliberate attacks on civilians who are not participating in the fighting are war crimes.

Seven Palestinians who had fled Khuza’a described to Human Rights Watch the grave dangers that civilians have faced in trying to flee the town, near the Israeli border, to seek safety in Khan Younis. These included repeated shelling that struck apparent civilian structures, lack of access to necessary medical care, and the threat of attack from Israeli forces as they tried to leave the area.

“When will there be justice for the civilians in Khuza’a, who suffered shelling for days, then faced deadly attacks by Israeli soldiers after being ordered to leave the town,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director.

“Warning families to flee fighting doesn’t make them fair targets just because they’re unable to do so, and deliberately attacking them is a war crime,” Whitson said.

Human Rights Watch investigated several incidents between July 23 and 25 when, local residents said, Israeli forces opened fire on civilians trying to flee Khuza’a, but no Palestinian fighters were present at the time and no firefights were taking place.

Read full article

You kill 150, even kill 200, Human Rights Watch said killing 200 Palestinians in Gaza, that’s not a war crime, they said. That’s just collective punishment. Only Hamas commits war crimes, because one woman apparently died of a heart attack while—Israeli woman apparently died of a heart attack while trying to enter a shelter, so that’s horrible, awful: That’s a war crime. But when you kill 200 Palestinians, 80 percent of whom are civilians, about 20 percent of whom are children, according to Human Rights Watch, that’s not a war crime.

How the world violates human rights, country by country

Telegraph has developed a map detailing the main findings of Human Rights Watch’s 2015 World Report!

The analysis of more than 90 countries is undertaken with human rights activists in the respective countries and this year, Kenneth Roth, HRW director, said human rights violations were fuelling the rise of groups like Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Boko Haram and others.
“Human rights violations played a major role in spawning or aggravating many of today’s crises,” Mr Roth said as the report was published on Friday. “Protecting human rights and ensuring democratic accountability are key to resolving them.”

Anna, Ole, Fred and Peter are four members of the Emergencies Team — or E-Team — the most intrepid division of Human Rights Watch. Trained to deal with unfolding crises, the E-Team flies to hotspots all over the world as soon as allegations of human rights abuse surface. Then they get to work — gathering crucial evidence to determine if further investigation is warranted and, if so, to investigate, document, and capture the world’s attention. They also immediately challenge the responsible decision makers, holding them accountable. Human rights abuses thrive on secrecy and silence, and the work of the E-Team, backed by their international human rights organization, has shone light in dark places and given voice to thousands whose stories would never otherwise have been told.

Using a cinema verite approach, our camera follows the E-Team investigators in the field as they piece together the actual events that take place in troubled spots around the globe. Together we smuggle across the border into Syria to conduct undercover investigations as the civil war rages; amidst bullets and bombs we watch as Fred and Peter work to halt human rights abuses in the aftermath of the Gaddafi regime. We also spend time with each E-Team member at home — from a quiet farm outside of Geneva to bustling urban lives in Berlin and Paris — as they balance the intricacies of family and personal relationships within the challenges of their exceptional work life.

Though they are different personalities, Anna, Ole, Fred and Peter share a fearless spirit and a deep commitment to exposing and halting human rights abuses all over the world.

A film by Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman. Produced by Marilyn Ness. Coming to Netflix and select theaters in October 2014. 

Human Rights Watch researcher Letta Tayler  just got back from Iraq where she documented tales of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) forcing mass expulsions and murders of Christians and ethnic minorities who are told to convert. Tayler explains the recent edict ISIS issued for Christians in the city of Mosul: 

“ISIS issued an edict around mid-July and it said, "You’ve got three choices: convert, pay us a jihad tax, get out of town–and if you don’t do those, you’ll face the sword.”

This was, of course, an absolutely chilling message. It was disseminated throughout the city and on the Internet as well, and at that point most of the Christians had already fled Mosul, but the few remaining families, and we’re still talking several hundred, apparently, just packed up and left. Some left with nothing but the clothes on backs, others piled whatever precious possessions they could into their cars and some of them then found at ISIS checkpoints that they were robbed of those few precious possessions that they had hoped to bring out with them. So it has been an absolutely terrifying part of a broader campaign to “cleanse” … Mosul and surrounding areas, of anyone who does not espouse this strict interpretation of Sharia that ISIS espouses.“

Propaganda image of ISIS via NBC news 

Indonesian police chief: “I ordered to burn the civilian’s houses in Utikini village. This was deliberately done to trim the movement. I will annihilate them." 

We have received more reports about the arrests, torture and burning of houses by the Indonesian police and military towards West Papuan civilians in Timika. 
According to an Indonesian police chief, over 1500 personnel have been mobilised to Timika to undertake this operation which has resulted in the burning of dozens of traditional West Papuan houses and the arrests of over 100 Papuan civilians. 

Free West Papua Campaign

This operation was conducted in order to try and crush pro-independence sentiment in Timika, West Papua. The only excuse given for the attack by the Indonesian police and military was that there were banners calling for an independence referendum found in the basement of a house. 

Our people desperately need international support to help stop this genocide against us. There is so much you can do to help. Please visit the Take Action part of our website to find out how you can act to support us in out struggle for freedom from oppression and occupation. 

Please hear our cries for freedom. 

#AmnestyInternational #Papua #WestPapua#FreeWestPapua #PNG #Genocide #PapuaNewGuinea#HumanRights #HumanRightsWatch #UnitedNations

Not all that glitters is gold. There’s child labor in the jewelry and electronics we love. via Human Rights Watch

Mercury poisoning, mine collapses, and respiratory illness. These are some of the conditions facing thousands of children mining gold in unlicensed mines in Ghana. We believe in a world where our demand for gold doesn’t lead to child exploitation in faraway countries.

We need YOUR HELP to create this world. SEND LETTERS to your favorite jewelry and electronics companies and ask them to become Made In A Free World:!

Read the article here
Transgender women in Malaysia are regularly abused by the authorities.
Human Rights Watch sound the alarm after a Malaysian shariah court sentenced nine transgender women to fines and jailing last month.

Malaysian authorities need to immediately abolish laws against cross-dressing, said Human Rights Watch after a Kelantan shariah court sentenced nine transgender women to fines and jailing last month. […]

“Malaysian authorities need to stop hauling transgender people into court simply because of who they are and what they wear,” said Neela Ghoshal, a senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The government needs to recognise that the freedom to express your gender is as fundamental as any other freedom.”

Nine of the transgender women were sentenced to fines by the Kelantan shariah court while two were given one month in jail. […]

The nine were attending a private birthday party at a hotel on June 16 when officials from the Kelantan Islamic Department (JHEAIK) raided the party and arrested them.

Read the whole story.

“Young lesbians do not experience sexism and homophobia as separate events; instead, the two forms of harassment are mutually reinforcing. It is simply impermissible, according to rigid rules of social behavior, for girls to reject boys. It is an unforgivable transgression for girls to “compete” with boys for the attention of other girls. Thus lesbians, and particularly lesbians who identify as or are perceived to be “butch,” are punished for violating gender norms and because of their sexual orientation.”
Human Rights Watch, Gender and Homophobia (2001)

Sculpture: R. Reese