commissioner for human rights


Repealing Obamacare won’t just leave millions uncovered — it may violate international law

  • Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act — and leave millions uninsured in the process — are overwhelmingly unpopular with Americans, just 37% in favor of repealing and replacing the ACA.
  • Now, the Washington Post has reported that Republican lawmakers will face resistance from another powerful group: the United Nations.
  • In a letter sent in February to the State Department, as released on Tuesday by the Post, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva expressed “serious concerns” about repealing the ACA, citing projections that doing so would cause 29.8 million more Americans to be uninsured. Read more (4/26/17)
Chechen Police “Torturing Gay Men”
Gay men are fleeing brutal persecution in Chechnya, where police are holding more than 100 people and torturing some of them in an anti‐gay crackdown, Russian activists say.

BBC News:

LGBT Network submitted reports about the crackdown to the Russian prosecutor‐general’s office, the Federal Investigative Committee (SK) and federal commissioner for human rights.

“We got no response, despite all the appeals. The only thing was that the Russian ombudswoman said she would initiate an investigation. That was only after Amnesty International filed their own statement,” she said.

“The office of the military commandant is now the unofficial detention centre for torture, near Argun. All the victims confirmed that,” she said.

But it is not a “concentration camp” for gays, she said, rejecting the description used in some media reports.

Foreign governments and human rights groups have voiced concern about the alleged abuses, urging the Russian and Chechen authorities to stop them.

The EU, the US state department, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are among those who have complained.

Գուրգեն Մարգարյան
Gurgen Margaryan

Margaryan was born in Yerevan, Armenia September 26th 1978. He graduated from the State Engineering University of Armenia with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Margaryan then went to his mandatory military service term where he became a lieutenant in the Ministry of Defense.

On January 11'th 2004, Margaryan left for Budapest, Hungary to participate in a three month long English language course which was part of NATO’S partnership for Peace program.

On February 19 he was axed to death by the Azerbaijani Lieutenant Ramil Safarov. Who also was a participant of the same program, whilst he was asleep in his hotel room bed. A postmortem concluded that Safarov hit Margaryan sixteen times in his face, almost severing his head from his body, also stabbing him multiple times in his chest after his death. The murder was described “"unusualy cruel” by the Budapest police.

Balázs Kuti who was Margaryans roommate, says that around 9:50 he went to bed and Margaryan busied him self with studies and then shortly after went to Hayk Makuchyan who was also a program,
participant who stayed in another room. Kuti then remembers that lights were turned on and he thought it was Margaryan who had come back, only to wake up when he heard muffled sounds, he turned his head away from the wall and saw Safarov standing by Margaryan’s bed with a long axe in his hands. Safarov’s plan was to also murder Makuchyan, but discovered Kuti had locked the door and had went to call the police who showed up at the crime scene and arrested Safarov.

“I started to shout at the Azerbaijani, urging him to stop it. He said that he had no problems with me and would not touch me, stabbed Gurgen a couple of more times, and left. The expression of his face was as if he was glad he had finished something important" 

During the trial, Safarov’s laywers tried to plead for insanity, claiming he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, they argued that he had gone through psychological trauma during the Nagorno Karabakh War, and that he and his family had been tortured by Armenians. However, this contradicts Safarovs earlier statement that he was studying in the Azeri capital Baku and in Turkey during the Karabakh war. 

An Azeri doctor was brought in from Azerbaijan and examined Safarov and concluded he was insane, Although another doctor from Hungary also examined him and found that Safarov was of stable mind. The court sentenced Safarov to life imprisonment without the possibility of appeal until 2036

Andras Vaskuti, cited the premeditated nature and brutality of the crime and the fact that Safarov showed no remorse for his deeds as the reasons for the sentence.

However, In 2012 the Hungarian authorities were payed off and agreed to release and extradite Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan to serve the remainder of his sentence there. Dictator of Azerbaijan Illham Aliyev issued a pardon as soon as Safarov arrived to Baku and promoted him to the rank of Major. Safarov was also provided with luxury accomodations by the Azerbaijani government.

Elmira Suleymanova, the human rights commissioner of Azerbaijan stated that "Safarov must become an example of patriotism for the Azerbaijani youth” and that his “punishment was far too harsh”

Armenians all over the world and the Armenian government expressed outrage, along with many other governments such as France, Iran and countless others, They condemned the decision made by Hungary and Azerbaijan. The government of Armenia also announced that Armenia is suspending all diplomatic relations and all official contact with Hungary.

Gurgen Margaryans body was buried in Yerablur cemetery along with other Armenian heroes. In September 2013, Artush Margaryan, Gurgen Margaryan’s father, was hospitalized. According to Armenian news sources, Margaryan had attempted to commit suicide.

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Photographs by JEB (Joan E. Biren)

  1. Archene Turner and Lynn Walker share a sweet moment in the backyard of their home in Atlanta, Georgia. 1987.
  2. Ana Maldonado, physician associate and women’s health care specialist, provides lesbian health service at the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center. Here she assists a client in seeing her cervix. California, 1986.
  3. Colevia Carter, D.C. human rights commissioner, poet, and human resource developer for the D.C. prison system, attends the Human Rights Campaign Fund dinner in 1984. Colevia also developed AIDS education programs for the Black community in Washington D.C.
  4. Del Martin and Pyllis Lyon have been domestic partners since Valentine’s Day, 1953. In 1955, they co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the oldest lesbian organization in the U.S. Here at Habromania House (habromania: having delusions of a pleasing nature), their San Francisco home, Del and Phyllis pause in the midst of their many movement activities. 1984.
  5. Anna Marie Rechichi works as a welder for a large crane manufacturer. She is an active member of Cleveland’s Hard Hatted Women and Older Wiser Lesbians. Anna Marie also volunteers with Oven Productions, which produces women’s cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio. 1986.
  6. Eleanor N. Soto takes a turn on the 24-hour crisis line at the Mid-Peninsula Support Network in Mountain View, California. Eleanor was co-director of this agency, which serves battered women and their children. 1986.
  7. Friends Kim Samsel and Robin Ching get together for conversation in American Sign Language. Baltimore, Maryland. 1987.
  8. Mona Bachmann is part of a crew patching the roof of a friend’s house in preparation for a community Fourth of July celebration in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. 1987.
  9. Mary, KD, and Boo end a full day of work and play with music. These “valley girls” have been together, building a community of women, for ten years. Stevensville, Montana, 1987.
This infographic analyses all recorded incidents of racist violence in Greece in 2016
Post from AthensLive
By Eliza Gkritsi

The annual report of the Racist Violence Recording Network summarises and analyses all recorded incidents of racist violence in Greece, which are defined as “criminal acts, violent activities, or behaviour against people targeted because of their national and ethnic origin, colour, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.” The Racist Violence Reporting Network was established six years ago by the Greek National Commission for Human Rights and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The initiative aims to eliminate the lack of an official and effective method of collecting data and improve coordination amongst relevant organisations.

The 2016 report, published early in 2017 to promote awareness on the issues, noted a fall in incidents. The decrease is partly attributed to programmes implemented by the Greek government and NGOs and the housing of refugees. However, it is also a result of the normalisation of verbal abuse. Incidents of non-physical violence are reported less, which is why the proportion of incidents resulting in injuries or property damage has increased dramatically. Discouraging reports even more, crimes of this nature rarely lead to investigations, let alone arrests or prosecution.


9 indigenous groups under threat of extinction

The term “indigenous rights” is not just a catch phrase. In an important precedent was set by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) when it declared the rights of indigenous peoples in 2007. Although it came centuries after destruction from outside forces had already been done, the declaration put the rights of indigenous peoples on the global radar. 

The majority of countries supported the declaration, but four voted against it (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States). The declaration establishes a minimum threshold of rights, including rights to education, employment, language and cultural rights. 

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La Paz (AFP) - Bolivia on Wednesday renounced a visa exemption agreement with Israel in protest over its offensive in Gaza, and declared it a terrorist state.

President Evo Morales announced the move during a talk with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba.

It “means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state,” he said.

The treaty has allowed Israelis to travel freely to Bolivia without a visa since 1972.

Morales said the Gaza offensive shows “that Israel is not a guarantor of the principles of respect for life and the elementary precepts of rights that govern the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of our international community.”

More than two weeks of fighting in Gaza have left 1,300 dead and 6,000 wounded amid an intense Israeli air and ground campaign in response to missile attacks by the Islamist militant group Hamas.

In the latest development, 20 people were killed after two Israeli shells slammed into a United Nations school, drawing international protests.

Bolivia broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009 over a previous military operation in Gaza.

In mid-July, Morales filed a request with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prosecute Israel for “crimes against humanity.”

Photos: Bolivian ambassador to the UN Sacha Llorenti wears keffiyeh in solidarity with Palestinians, July 2014. 

George Brandis…

1. Fights dirty to destroy independent watchdogs.

Example A: Gillian Triggs (Human Rights Commissioner) criticised the government’s refugee abuses so Brandis bullied her to quit - when his job as AG is to *defend* her from attacks to preserve her independence.

Example B: Parliament blocked his attempt to kill off the Freedom of Information Commissioner (who helps keep government transparent) so he defunded it, effectively killing it off in a betrayal of Parliament’s wishes. As former Liberal Attorney-General John Dowd told Brandis: “The rule of law is not a nebulous concept but does have some very specific components, one of which is the doctrine of the separation of powers … It is disappointing that we have to draw this simple principle to your attention.”

2. Hates the environment.

Example A: In 2003, he gave a 20 minute speech in Parliament linking environmentalism to Nazism. Google it.

Example B:  When a court found the Environment Minister broke the law in too hastily/sloppily approving a coal mine near the Great Barrier Reef, Brandis tried to change the law to stop green groups taking such government law breaking to the court.

Example C: Defunded and killed off Environmental Defenders’ Offices (they’re like environmental Legal Aid) two months after the mining industry asked him to.

Example D: Justified sacking CSIRO climate scientists because “if the science is settled, why do we need research scientists to continue inquiring into the settled science?” Not that he personally believes it’s settled.

3. Defunded Legal Aid.

Example A: Aboriginal Legal Services was defunded but he did fund $2.2m to those *challenging* native title claims.

Example B: Women’s community legal centres and other CLCs defunded when access to lawyers to escape domestic violence is life and death.

Example C: Only willing to give funds to community legal centres if lawyers there were forbidden from speaking up for law reform (to help the homeless, jobless, abused etc). These lawyers are on the frontline and are valuable in telling us where our law is failing our fellow Aussies.

4. Grab-bag of crapness.

Example A: He spent $28K of taxpayer money on a personal library.

Example B: He pushed for metadata laws but couldn’t explain metadata.

Example C: He wanted s18C scrapped because ‘people have the right to be bigots’.

Example D: He thinks climate change believers are stifling the ‘free speech’ of climate deniers.

TL/DR: George Brandis is Attorney General, the “first law officer of Australia”. His job is to protect the rule of law (but he attacks those who bring up when his government are *breaking* the law), protect free speech (but only when it serves his agenda, the free speech of green groups and community lawyers he goes out of his way to silence) and protect the fair running of the court (but how is that possible if you defund Legal Aid, the only way the poor and most in need can access the courts?).

His attitude to the Solicitor-General in the news today is not surprising.


TURKEY. Bakur. Sirnak province. Cizîr/Cizre. March 2016.

(1) Fatma Tetik sits near a wall with threatening graffiti written by Turkish special forces. Her husband, Ali Tetik, was killed during fighting between Turkish special forces and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party).

(2) A child carries metal scraps in the ruins of Cizre.

(3) Mourners at a funeral for a victim of the clashes between the PKK and the Turkish Army.

(4) A family mourns the death of their 17-year-old son, Kasim, who was killed when the building he was in was destroyed by Turkish special forces.

(5) A man walks in the ruins of Cizre. The city was badly damaged during the clashes between Turkish security forces and the Kurdish PKK militants.

During the Kurdish-Turkish conflict (2015-present), in September 2015 Turkish security forces launched an operation in Cizre. According to a teacher from the district of Silopi, the tanks fired all day and people had nowhere left to hide and were left dying in their own homes.

On May 2016, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein raised an alarm over violence against civilians and alleged human rights abuses in predominantly Kurdish south-east Turkey. He also raised concern over the Turkish government’s refusal to allow a UN team to conduct research in the area amid reports that more than a hundred people had burned to death in buildings surrounded by security forces. The Commissioner stated:

“More and more information has been emerging from a variety of credible sources about the actions of security forces in the town of Cizre during the extended curfew there from mid-December until early March,” he said in a press release. Most disturbing of all are the reports quoting witnesses and relatives in Cizre which suggest that more than 100 people were burned to death as they sheltered in three different basements that had been surrounded by security forces.”

Photographs: Emin Ozmen/Le Journal

11 photos that show how football can foster peace

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon prepares to kick off a football match between Real Madrid and Levante in Madrid.

@unicef​ Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham lends his voice in support of the Global Goals at the opening of the @united-nations General Assembly in 2015.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon intercepts the ball during a friendly football match at Mandela National Stadium in Kampala, Uganda for War Victims Day.

Former British Ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant takes a penalty during an event marking the Centenary of First World War Christmas Truce at UN headquarters in 2014.

United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste peacekeeeping officer joins in football game with village children.

Timorese children and members of the Portuguese Formed Police Unit (FPU), working with the UN’s mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), play football on the sidelines of the annual Dili marathon.

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay meets AC Milan footballer Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Staff members of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) play against a local team from Agboville in a football match for peace.

There are an estimated 9,000 child soldiers in South Sudan

When it came down to it, it was about surviving, said Ger Duany.

A former “child of war” in Sudan’s second civil war, Duany recently described how, after running from Sudanese forces and fleeing his country on foot, he and other children jumped at the opportunity to attend government-endorsed schools in Ethiopia and Kenya, only to find themselves instead taken to military training camps.

There’s a history of recruiting child soldiers in Sudan and South Sudan, and now the UN has released a count of just how many children it believes are currently fighting in the South Sudanese conflict.

In a statement Wednesday, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay said more than 9,000 children were serving as soldiers, recruited by both the rebels and the government.

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Crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation. The commission further finds that crimes against humanity are ongoing in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea because the policies, institutions and patterns of impunity that lie at their heart remain in place.
—  United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report on N. Korea. The Commissioner calls for the UN Security Council to “refer the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the International Criminal Court.”

I’ve said it before, but North Korea is not a police state. It’s far, far beyond that. It’s the state from Orwell’s 1984. North Korea is a prison state.

#HandsOffTheHomeless: Faith leaders, politicians, community organizers, and civil rights advocates gathered in front of City Hall to demand an end to the NYPD’s “sweeps” of homeless people from public space and other instances of inhumane treatment of the homeless by police.

Mass extrajudicial killings, the targeting of individuals on the basis of their ethnicity and arbitrary detentions have been documented in recent days. We have discovered a mass grave in Bentiu, in Unity State, and there are reportedly at least two other mass graves in Juba.

The UN calls America’s treatment of #homeless cruel, inhuman and degrading

“Cruel, inhuman and degrading.” These are words you often associate with third-world countries, war zones or even off-the-book sites like Guantanamo Bay. You probably wouldn’t expect to hear those words applied to park benches, subway stations and empty stairwells in cities across America.

But that’s exactly what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights argued in a recently released and damning periodic report on the state of human rights in the U.S. Though the report covered everything from the death penalty and gun violence to drones and rendition, the most eye-catching section was the UN’s condemnation of the criminalization of homelessness in the U.S, which “raises concerns of discrimination and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”

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Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift. There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protections for others.
—  Tony Abbott.  This rhetoric reeks of 1984. Delve into your pockets Australia, tighten your belt, give up your education opportunities and your healthcare, give up your privacy and your freedom. All hail Abbott.
18,802 Iraqi civilians have been killed in 21 months.

According to a new report by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, nearly 19,000 Iraqis were killed between Jan. 2014 and Oct. 2015. The report also found 36,245 civilian injuries and more than 3.2 million people were internally displaced. The Islamic State group is largely responsible for what could be potentially classified as “genocide.” The atrocities are truly horrifying.