News / Middle East

Rights Group: Arab Spring Movements Fall Short

A man walks in front of a burning building after a Syrian Air force air strike in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus January 27, 2013.A man walks in front of a burning building after a Syrian Air force air strike in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus January 27, 2013.
x
A man walks in front of a burning building after a Syrian Air force air strike in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus January 27, 2013.
A man walks in front of a burning building after a Syrian Air force air strike in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus January 27, 2013.
Anita Powell
Representatives of international watchdog Human Rights Watch say in their annual report that they're concerned about Syria, Mali and other areas of so-called Arab Spring unrest. The New York-based group released its report Thursday in London and Johannesburg.

Human Rights Watch says the euphoria and hope that spurred the Arab Spring movements two years ago have not brought about more rights for the people.
 
The 665-page report released Thursday profiles human rights in more than 80 nations, including the United States.

Syria's violence and repression dominated this year's report. The nation has been besieged by a rebellion that has left at least 60,000 people dead, according to United Nations estimates.

Rampant war crimes

Human Rights Watch's executive director Kenneth Roth, speaking on a live telecast from London, called on Russia and China to impose stricter sanctions on Syria in an attempt to further pressure the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

But the watchdog group also says both sides - the government and the opposition - have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, such as torture and executions.

Johannesburg-based spokeswoman Birgit Schwarz called for international measures.

"Our major concern about Syria is really that there's not enough pressure put on the Syrian government - and the Syrian rebels - at this point to stem the atrocities," said Schwarz. "The best way, really, to ensure that there will be accountability at some point would be a referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court. This is not a biased move because it would really mean that both sides, rebels as well as government forces, eventually would have to fear to be accountable."

Roth is critical of Egypt, saying the new Egyptian constitution is "filled with loopholes" that deprive citizens of their rights, and called for a strengthening of rights and free speech.

The group also expressed concern that Islamist-dominated governments in Arab Spring nations may restrict women’s rights.

Concerns over Africa

Tiseke Kasambala, advocacy director of the Africa Division, said Africa's rights landscape continues to worry them, too.

"The year 2012 witnessed some backsliding on democracy and improvement in human rights, the menace of terrorism in Nigeria, Somalia and Kenya, as well as increased national and regional tensions. Countries that continued to make important economic developments and strides, such as Rwanda and Ethiopia, continued also to impose tight restrictions on freedom of expression and association," said Kasambala.

Kasambala said Mali is of particular concern after a coup and a rebellion in 2012. French and Malian troops are currently trying to push back rebels in northern Mali.

"New or ongoing crises in Mali, Sudan and South Sudan, continued war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as longstanding repression in countries such as Ethiopia, as mentioned before, Eritrea, Sudan and Sim continued to undermine progress toward respect for human rights and the rule of law across the continent," said Kasambala.
 
In addition, the group is concerned about the potential for violence in elections scheduled for this year in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

You May Like

Russia Names US NGO 'Undesirable'

Prosecutors determine activities of National Endowment for Democracy to be 'undesirable,' paving the way for it to be outlawed on Russian territory More

Erdogan Vows 'Anti-Terror' Campaign in Syria, Iraq

Erdogan expressed confidence the 'necessary steps' will be taken by NATO leaders, who will meet Tuesday at Turkey's request More

North Korea: 'No Interest at All' in Nuke Deal

Senior US envoy Sydney Seiler visits Beijing Tuesday for talks on how to revive the stalled six-party nuclear talks with North Korea More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs