I was afraid when Boko Haram came to the mosque in my village to preach during the fasting period. There were children around my age and younger with them carrying guns. The young fighters joined them to burn down the primary school where I was a student. When they began to harass our village emir to volunteer 10 young men to join their group, we all abandoned the village. No one stayed back, not even the emir. We are scattered in different places but most of us are in Bauchi. I want to return to school, but have not had the opportunity.
— 

A 14-year-old boy from Yelwa, Bauchi State, described to Human Rights Watch what happened when Boko Haram came to his village in June 2014

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#FreedomFriday: “This week I may be jailed for writing a book on human rights abuses.”

Rafael Marques de Morais is facing defamation charges because he dared to expose the human rights abuses of the government and powerful diamond companies in the small African nation of Angola. Despite the likely possibility that he will soon be jailed, he says “I am not afraid, but proud of my work.”

READ and REBLOG this man’s story of pursuing free speech and justice in the face of powerful opposition.

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Human Rights

Nigeria: At Least 1,000 Civilians Dead Since January

(Abuja) – Attacks by the Islamist armed group Boko Haram killed more than 1,000 civilians in 2015, based on witness accounts and an analysis of media reports. Boko Haram fighters have deliberately attacked villages and committed mass killings and abductions as their attacks have spread from northeast Nigeria into Cameroon, Chad, and Niger since February.

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In both the Jewish and Christian versions of the Bible, protection of, solidarity with and hospitality for the stranger, the foreigner and the one with whom you disagree are stressed. Think here, for Christians, of the lessons of Jesus sharing meals with social outcasts. Consider also, for both Jews and Christians, the lesson of the story of Sodom — which was not considered a story about same-sex eroticism — that the people of Sodom are punished for violating the code of hospitality. Throughout the rest of the Jewish and Christian versions of the Bible, the lessons of this story are the importance of hospitality to strangers — those who are different — and the problem with ignoring the poor, the vulnerable and the needy.

A significant number of people operating personal profiles on Facebook under pseudonyms, stage names or any name not matching their legally documented identity received this message when logging into their Facebook accounts at the end of last summer:…

Top violator of women’s rights around the world? It’s Israel says UN

By Anne Bayefsky

Published March 19, 2015

FoxNews.com

(AP)

Guess who is the number one violator of women’s rights in the world today?  Israel.  Violating the rights of Palestinian women.

At least that is the view of the UN’s top women’s rights body, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).  CSW ends its annual meeting on Friday, March 20 by condemning only one of the 193 UN member states for violating women’s rights – Israel.

Not Syria. Where government forces routinely employ rape and other sexual violence and torture against women as a tactic of war. Where in 2014 the Assad regime starved, tortured and killed at least 24,000 civilians, and three million people – mostly women and children – are refugees.

Not Saudi Arabia. Where women are physically punished if not wearing compulsory clothing, are almost entirely excluded from political life, cannot drive, cannot travel without a male relative, receive half the inheritance of their brothers, and where their testimony counts for half that of a man’s.

Not Sudan.  Where domestic violence is not prohibited.  There is no minimum age for “consensual” sex.  The legal age of marriage for girls is ten. 88% of women under 50 have undergone female genital mutilation. And women are denied equal rights in marriage, inheritance and divorce.

Not Iran. Where every woman who registered as a presidential candidate in the last election was disqualified.  “Adultery” is punishable by death by stoning.  Women who fight back against rapists and kill their attackers are executed. The constitution bars female judges. And women must obtain the consent of their husbands to work outside the home.

In fact, not only is there no possibility that the UN Commission on the Status of Women will criticize Iran, Iran is an elected member of CSW.  Sudan – whose president has been indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity – is currently a CSW Vice-Chair.

The 2015 CSW resolution on Israel will repeat, as it does every year, that “the Israeli occupation remains the major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development of their society…”

Not Palestinian men.  Not religious edicts and traditions. Not a culture of violence. Not an educational system steeped in rejection of peaceful coexistence and of tolerance.

Instead, the fault for a UN statistic like this one – an average of 17% of Palestinian women are in the labor force as compared to 70% of Palestinian men – lies with the Jewish scapegoat.

That fact comes from one of only nine official documents produced by the UN for the 2015 annual CSW meeting.  Eight were procedural or general in nature, and one was entitled:  “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women.”

By comparison, there was no report on Chinese women and girls, half a billion people without elementary civil and political rights, who still face the prospect of forced abortion and sterilization.

There was no report on women in Somalia, where female genital mutilation is ubiquitous, sexual violence is rampant, and women are systematically subordinate to men.

There was no report on women in Yemen, where the penal code goes easy on the killers of women for “immodest” or “defiant” behavior, there is no minimum age for “marriage,” and women have no equal rights to property, employment, credit, pay, education, or housing.

And the women’s rights scene is not the only liberal sham at the UN.

The UN’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council (HRC), will wrap up a major session next week by adopting a minimum of four times as many resolutions slamming Israel than any other country on earth.

Condemnations of Israel will include a resolution demanding Israel immediately give back the Golan Heights to Syria – the place where Syrians run from their own government for life-saving Israeli medical care.

Tallying all the resolutions and decisions condemning a specific state over the history of the Human Rights Council, one-third has been directed at Israel alone.

Remember Ukraine? In the past year, there have been at least 5,500 confirmed killed – with recent reports from Germany suggesting the total may be as high as 50,000 dead – in addition to a million people displaced.  But the score is 67 Council resolutions and decisions attacking Israel and zero on Russia.  

So who is calling the shots at the Council? A closer look at its members reveals human rights luminaries like Qatar – that bankrolls the terrorist organization Hamas – along with China, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

It is impossible to add this all up and conclude that the UN’s treatment of Israel is anything but wildly discriminatory. In the twisted language of UN rights, the means is the verbiage of equality, while the end game is prejudice.

The Obama administration has an answer to this dilemma. Vote against the resolutions, while paying the fees to run the bodies that adopt them. Join and legitimize the institution, while consoling the delegitimized that it feels their pain.

As Secretary Kerry told the Council on March 2, 2015: “President Obama and I support the HRC…” and “the HRC’s obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization.”  “Risks undermining” – as opposed to “has grossly undermined already.”

This attitude towards the UN’s demonization of Israel foreshadows the administration’s Israel policy in the days ahead – a policy unaffected by Israeli election results.

The Palestinians will continue to use the UN and the International Criminal Court to attempt to accomplish with lethal politics what they have never been able to do with lethal force.  And President Obama will hold open the door.

Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her on Twitter @AnneBayefsky.