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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS REQUIRING THE COUNCIL’S ATTENTION
Hears an Oral Update by the High Commissioner on the Situation in Northern Mali
17 September 2012

The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard an oral update by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in the north of Mali and held a general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, updated the Council on the human rights situation in the north of Mali, which was currently occupied by various armed groups and had seen several serious human rights violations and possibly war crimes, including amputation and capital punishment by stoning, summary executions and recruitment of children.  Food insecurity had worsened and a cholera epidemic had been confirmed in the Gao region, while the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization heritage sites had been destroyed.  The High Commissioner warned that the humanitarian situation in the whole of the Sahel region would dangerously worsen unless action was taken.

Mali, speaking as the concerned country, said that the report showed the gravity of the situation that was the result of the unjustifiable aggression.  For several months, criminals had engaged in a range of human rights violations and the situation also threatened the sub-regional stability.  Mali reiterated its commitment to cooperate with the United Nations specialized agencies and the Human Rights Council in the search for a solution to the difficult situation.

In the general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, speakers raised violations of human rights in a number of countries and regions.

Speaking were Cyprus on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Senegal on behalf of the African Group, Slovenia on behalf of Austria and Croatia, United States, Norway, Czech Republic, Cuba, China, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Ecuador, Poland, Germany, United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, Ireland, Iran, Australia, Myanmar, Belarus, France, Armenia, Denmark, New Zealand, Netherlands, Sweden, Morocco, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, Slovakia and Argentina.

The non-governmental organizations that took the floor in the general debate were: Organization for Defending Victims of Violence in a joint statement; Institute for Women’s Studies and Research in a joint statement; Espace Afrique International in a joint statement; Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru in a joint statement; World Federation of Democratic Youth in a joint statement; Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales Asociacion Civil in a joint statement; Union of Arab Jurists in a joint statement; European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation; Human Rights Watch; Baha’i International Community; Asian Legal Resource Centre; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Projects; Society for Threatened Peoples; Minority Rights Group; Amnesty International; Press Emblem Campaign; Maryam Ghasemi Educational Charity Institute; United Schools International; International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism; Comité international pour le respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples; Syriac Universal Alliance, The Federation Syriaque International; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues; Centre Europe-Tiers Monde; International Commission of Jurists; Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peoples; CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation; and Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme.

Speaking in right of reply were Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Armenia.


The next meeting of the Human Rights Council will start at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, 18 September to conclude the general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.  The Council will then hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples, followed by a half day discussion on access to justice of indigenous peoples.

Documentation

The Council has before it a note by the Secretariat on the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Northern Mali (A/HRC/21/64).

Oral Update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Situation in Mali

NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, apologised for the lack of a written report and said this was due to the lack of access to Northern Mali.  The area was currently occupied by various armed groups and had seen several serious human rights violations and possibly war crimes.  Credible sources had reported numerous cases of cruel punishment, including amputation and capital punishment by stoning.  There were also serious allegations of summary executions of hand-cuffed Malian soldiers and recruitment of children as young as 10 to participate in hostilities.  More generally children had paid a heavy toll and massive displacements had disrupted registration of births and education.

Food security, which was already an issue, had worsened and a cholera epidemic had been confirmed in the Gao region.  Also of concern was the serious threat to freedom of expression, the banning of public health campaigns, the lack of female access to basic services, and the suspension of key medical programmes, such as vaccination drives.  UNESCO heritage sites had also been destroyed and reports indicated that unveiled woman and non-Muslims had received threats and intimidation.

In conclusion, Ms. Pillay said that access to Northern Mali was vital, and the humanitarian situation in the whole of the Sahel region would dangerously worsen unless action was taken.  Increased terrorist threats and human rights abuses needed urgent national and international action.  She also welcomed the recent visit of the International Criminal Court that looked into possible war crimes and further called for women to be involved in the mediation and decision-making process.  Her Office was considering the deployment of a mission, she said, and was to undertake a preliminary assessment of the situation in the country by meeting with key stakeholders in the coming days.

Statement by Mali as the Concerned Country

MALICK COULIBALY, Minister of Justice of Mali, speaking on behalf of Mali as the concerned country, said that the report showed the gravity of the situation in the country that was the result of the unjustifiable aggression of which Mali had been victim.  For several months, criminals had engaged in a range of human rights violations.  The situation was also a threat to the stability throughout the sub-region.  Apart from the areas under occupation, political upheavals had had an impact on the human rights situation.  Mr. Coulibaly stressed Mali’s constant commitment to cooperate with all specialized agencies and the Human Rights Council in particular, in the search for a solution to the difficult situation.  Mali was determined to respect its commitments in the area of the protection of the rights of every Malian.

General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

Cyprus, speaking on behalf of the European Union, was alarmed by the situation in Syria and called on parties to cease all violence and allow full humanitarian access.  The European Union expressed concern about the situations in Sudan and South Sudan; the humanitarian crisis and human rights violations by armed groups and security services in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; the continued harassment and intimidation of political opposition, media, and human rights defenders in Belarus; persistent violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; ongoing reports of human rights violations in China; discrimination against the Rohingya community in Myanmar; and about abuses in Northern Mali.  The European Union also condemned recent executions in the Gambia.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expressed concern about the human rights and reported violations against the Rohingya community in Myanmar and urged the High Commissioner to take action and to continue to monitor the situation in Rakhine state.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also urged Myanmar to discard the policies of discrimination of the military regime and welcomed the invitation extended to the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation to visit Rakhine state.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation hoped that concrete measures would be taken to remedy the situation, including the recognition of the status of the Rohingya community.

Senegal, speaking on behalf of the African Group, regretted the failure of Mali to submit a report requested by the Council in resolution 20/17 and remained concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation there.  It was essential that perpetrators were brought to justice.  The gravity of the human rights situation should not eclipse the significant humanitarian crisis in the Sahel and the need for effective and coordinated assistance to alleviate the suffering of the population.  African leaders reaffirmed their recognition of the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Mali and would remain engaged with the Malian authorities in order to address the crisis.

Slovenia, also speaking on behalf of Austria and Croatia, said they were alarmed by the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria and strongly condemned all acts of violence both by the Syrian regime and the armed opposition.
They were also concerned by human rights in Sudan, and said the ongoing conflict had caused a humanitarian crisis and deprived civilians caught between conflict lines. The eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was also a concern, they said, where civilians had taken the brunt of the protracted conflict and had had their human rights grossly violated by, amongst others, sexual violence.

United States said Iran must uphold its international obligations and respect its laws on the rights of citizens and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must dismantle prison camps which held citizens without due process.  Venezuela limited freedom of expression, Belarus restricted freedoms of speech, China silenced dissent through arrests, and Eritrea had still not accounted for those who had disappeared in detention.  Cuba’s security forces committed acts of intimidation, Uzbekistan restricted religious freedom, and Tajikistan’s respect for religious freedom had continued to deteriorate. 

Norway said it was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Sudan, and called for access to all parts of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states; the Government must ensure that the armed forces abided by recognized standards.  Norway also welcomed an International Criminal Court investigation into reports of massacres, rapes and torture of the civilian population and the destruction of ancient shrines in Northern Mali.  Norway was also deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Iran, including the treatment of human rights defenders.  In Saudi Arabia the crackdown on pro-democracy and human rights campaigners had intensified and this illustrated a fundamental lack of freedom of expression.

Czech Republic called upon all parties involved in Syria to refrain from violence.  The Czech Republic was deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation and on-going human rights violations in Mali, and called on the Malian authorities to duly investigate all human rights violations and abuses and hold those responsible to account.  The Czech Republic also referred to the human rights situations in Iran, Belarus, Gambia, Myanmar, China, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Cuba expressed disappointment that the general debate under agenda item 4 was characterized by selectivity and the hypocritical attacks of leading industrialized countries against a few countries of the South.  The United States was not in a moral position to criticise Cuba, as its human rights record was worse than disastrous.  The United States should close Guantanamo bay, return the territory to Cuba, and should lift the genocidal and criminal embargo against Cuba.

China was of the view that the Human Rights Council should uphold the principles of equal treatment and mutual respect, respect for diversity in models of human rights development, and a fair, objective and comprehensive evaluation of the human rights situation in a country.  The United States, the European Union and the Czech Republic had made accusations against China, and these were in evaluation of the above principles and a typical manifestation of politicization.  Concern was voiced regarding human rights violations by the United States and in Europe.

Switzerland remained concerned about the situation in the Guantanamo detention centre and called on the United States to take all the necessary steps to ensure that those detained there benefited from the guarantees that were their right under international law.  It was concerned by some recent, restrictive legal provisions adopted by Russia that related to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, and called on Russia to ensure that fundamental rights were respected during the implementation of these.   Concern was also voiced with regards to the high number of executions in China.

Spain referred to the situation in Syria, where the Government continued to be incapable of responding to the legitimate aspirations of its people for political change.  Spain appealed for an inclusive political transition based on democratic criteria.  A deterioration of the human rights situation in Northern Mali had been witnessed, with numerous repercussions and with consequences for the whole of the Sahel region.   Concern was also voiced with regards to reports of human rights violations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Gambia. 

Belgium said that the human rights situation in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo had continued to deteriorate.  Belgium called for transparent and credible trial in the Chebeya case.  Regarding Sudan, it deplored the of lack of implementation of the comprehensive peace plan and called upon the Government  to cooperate with the Independent Expert and recalled the obligation to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in the application of Security Council Resolution 1533.  Belgium shared concern about the conflict in Syria.   Further concern was expressed regarding the human rights situations in Iran, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Ecuador said it added its voice to concerns on the use of drones and it was ironic that some countries were expected to accept commissions of inquiry when other countries were not able to investigate crimes committed by their own military. No State, however influential, had the right to murder and so the Human Rights Council should investigate rendition flights in which torture took place with impunity. Ecuador condemned the use of these actions and called on countries which had been complicit in rendition to do the same.

Poland said the situation in Syria remained the main concern of the international community and Poland condemned in the strongest terms the ongoing massacres and urged the authorities to withdraw their troops to allow for a peaceful and democratic transition.  Poland was also deeply concerned about the situation in Belarus, where restrictions on fundamental freedoms were still a reality.  Poland also expressed concern about Sudan and called on South Sudan to establish mechanisms to offer human rights protection.

Germany said it was concerned about Belarus and its intimidation of human rights defenders and oppression of civil society and called on the country to release all political prisoners.  The appointment of a Special Rapporteur was important.  The leadership of Bahrain was commended but issues remained, with continuing problems of participation and political trials.  In the Gambia, recent executions were a concern and the Government was urged to return to its previous moratorium on the death penalty.

United Kingdom was gravely concerned about the critical human rights situation in Syria and called on the Council to act.  Despite international condemnation of Iran’s appalling human rights record, the Government continued to violate the basic rights of its citizens.  The United Kingdom was also concerned about politically-motivated State harassment of civil society in Zimbabwe; and about the human rights situation in Belarus and urged the Government to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur. 

Bahrain strongly condemned the excessive use of force against civilians in Syria and the instances of brutality and barbarism that had been witnessed.  Bahrain would like to send a strong message that violations of humanitarian and human rights law were intolerable.  Bahrain also expressed concern regarding cases of racism and xenophobia against Muslim minorities.

Canada called on the Security Council and the international community to increase international pressure on the Syrian regime.  Iran’s continued failure to fulfil its domestic and international obligations was deeply troubling and indicators pointed to a continued deterioration in the human rights situation.  Canada was also gravely concerned about the abysmal human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and about the situation in Belarus, notably, the politically-motivated prosecution of the opposition in the lead up to the 2011 parliamentary elections.

Ireland said the violence in Syria continued to shock the conscience of the international community which should do its best to ensure that there was no impunity for perpetrators.  In Myanmar, the Government should afford protection for all ethnic groups.  With regard to Bahrain, Ireland was concerned about reports of torture of prisoners and encouraged the Government to implement recommendations in the report of the investigating Commission.  The continued practice of the death penalty was a cause of concern and Ireland called on all Governments to abolish it.

Iran drew the attention of the Council to the situation of minorities in the European Union, especially Muslims and Roma.  The growing extremism in some European countries was an issue of concern as well.  The miserable situation of Canadian indigenous people needed urgent attention of the international community and the Government should protect and respect their rights.  The Government of the United States should observe international law in the context of fighting terrorism.

Australia raised concerns about the human rights situation in a number of countries, particularly in Iran, and condemned the use of the death penalty in this country and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities.  Australia urged Iran to engage transparently with United Nations Special Procedures.  Serious and systematic human rights abuses in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea were of concern and the Government should strengthen the rights of women and persons with disabilities and address the endemic malnutrition of its people, particularly children.

Myanmar said that the promotion and protection of human rights should be in accordance with the United Nations Charter, international law and the guiding principles of the Human Rights Council, and instrumentalisation for political purposes should be avoided.  The situation in Myanmar had been improving.  The Government had not stood still, and practical and logical steps had been taken.  What was needed from friends and partners was positive and constructive support. 

Belarus said that the Breijvik sentence, or objectively lack of sentence, demonstrated the inability of the Norwegian Government to ensure the right to life and the right to remedy.  Belarus also drew attention to increased cases of police brutality in Europe, including Spain, Germany and Poland.  Austria, Hungary, Sweden and Switzerland had violated migration law.  The Human Rights Council should not be indifferent to the systematic violation of human rights in European countries.

France said that the situation in Syria had reached unprecedented seriousness.  Perpetrators of crimes would not remain unpunished and would be held accountable under international law and, as it would have it, under the International Criminal Court.  France remained concerned by the persistence of human rights violations in Bahrain and reiterated its appeal that the Government fully respect human rights and implement all recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry and strengthen cooperation with United Nations human rights protection mechanism.  Concern was also expressed regarding human rights violations in Sudan, South Sudan and Iran.

Armenia expressed concern about the atmosphere of intolerance and ethnic hatred against Armenians and Armenia in Azerbaijan.  The result of this policy and its clearest manifestation was the pardon granted by Azerbaijan’s President to Ramil Safarov and his national glorification.  Armenia emphasized the importance of the international community and its responsibility given that numerous Armenian communities lived in France, Georgia, Argentine, and Lebanon, Iran, Canada, Australia, Turkey and in the Highland Karabakh.

Denmark indicated that in Bahrain the Court of Appeal affirmed the sentences of 20 human rights and democracy activists, including the life sentence for Danish citizen Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.  In Sudan, democratic rights were being quelled, especially in a number of border states, and the memorandum of understanding to assess, deliver, and monitor humanitarian assistance was not being implemented.  Denmark deplored the recent executions of nine prisoners in the Gambia and condemned the use of the death penalty in Iran, and called on the Government to ensure that basic fair trial guarantees were met.

New Zealand expressed its abhorrence of the brutal events which continued to unfold in Syria.  The international community led by the Security Council must put its combined weight behind every effort to stop this violence.  Concerning the preparation for elections, the establishment of the Constitutional Commission and its work over the coming months would be of vital importance.  New Zealand would be watching developments closely and if the process continued, it would send a very positive signal about the elections to be held in 2014. 

Netherlands was deeply concerned by the situation in Syria, which was hard to comprehend and harder to accept.  Demands for democratic reform in Sudan were being met with arrests, detention and possibly mistreatment and torture of political opponents.  It was necessary to strengthen the mandate of the Independent Expert to enable him to monitor and report on human rights situation.  The Netherlands called on Belarus to immediately release all political prisoners and expressed concern about the increased intimidation of journalists.

Sweden said that the human rights situation in Iran continued to deteriorate, including the growing number of executions.  The human rights situation in Sudan remained deeply troubling, and Sweden encouraged the Government of Sudan to ensure humanitarian access and cooperate with the Independent Expert.  Further, Sweden expressed concern about the situation in South Sudan, Belarus, Gambia, and China.  Sweden called on China to ensure that minority rights were respected and on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to urgently comply with its international human rights obligations.

Morocco took note of the difficulties that prevented the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights from presenting a more substantive report on the situation in the north of Mali and appreciated the effort to gather the information and present the report.  Morocco was alarmed about the situation in the north of Mali, and deplored the intentional destruction of historical sites and shared the view of the Office that those actions presented a deliberate violation of the cultural rights of the people in Mali.  The humanitarian situation was exacerbated by this conflict.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the systematic violations of human rights taking place in the world today were of deep concern, in particular the wars conducted by the United States in various parts of the world under the pretext of the war against terror.  The United States was the main culprit of human rights violations but was behaving as if it was a human rights judge.  In the European Union and other Western countries human rights violations such as xenophobia, racism and maltreatment of immigrants and minorities occurred.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea urged Japan to apologize and compensate for its past crimes against humanity.

Japan said that it appreciated the ceasefire agreements with minority groups in Myanmar.  Japan also welcomed the National Action Plan for Sri Lanka and hoped that its implementation would lead to concrete progress towards national reconciliation.  Japan would continue to support Sri Lanka’s national reconciliation efforts.  It expressed concern at the serious human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and said that the abduction issue remained unresolved.  Japan had been facing to its past with sincerity and consistency since the end of the Second World War and was committed to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Slovakia expressed concern at the repression of human rights defenders in Bahrain.  Slovakia would continue to support democratization processes and the reinforcement of civil society in Belarus and urged the country to facilitate the work of the appointed Special Rapporteur.  Slovakia also drew attention to those subjected to human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It remained concerned about the number of executions carried out in Iran, and called for a transparent investigation of cases of human rights violations in Northern Mali.

Argentina noted with concern the situation in Syria, including the increase in casualties and urged for a solution in the framework of dialogue and without outside intervention.  Argentina reiterated its rejection of any form of violence and appealed to the Syrian authorities to put an end to the repressions of civilians and to fulfil its responsibility to ensure the enjoyment of rights for its population.  The disturbing humanitarian situation had led Argentina to make specialised personnel available to cooperate with the United Nations.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said that the violation of human rights in Bahrain was a subject that required the special attention of the Council and continued despite the campaigns of human rights defenders over two years.  The Universal Periodic Review provided a good opportunity for all States and groups to show the serious determination of the international community in relation to the terrible human rights conditions of Bahrain.

Institute for Women’s Studies and Research, in a joint statement, said that the most recent and unfortunate of increasing incidents of violence and discrimination on the basis of religion was the production of an anti-Islamic film, which was an armed conflict of incitement of inter-communal hatred.  If previous blasphemous acts such as the publication of derogatory cartoons and burning of the Holy Quran had not been carried out with impunity, such a film would have not been produced. 

Espace Afrique International, in a joint statement, drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to the human rights situation in Pakistan and the areas under its control known as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.  The human rights violations committed in those areas demanded international attention because very basic freedoms were barred under the Constitutional Act of 1974.

Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru, in a joint statement, showed full solidarity with the rightful fight of the Syrian people and rejected any foreign intervention under the pretext of humanitarian assistance.  Any military intervention there could have consequences for global peace and security.  The logic of pillaging law and neo-colonialist powers took into account the gas reserves of Syria.

World Federation of Democratic Youth, in a joint statement, called attention to a dangerous decision of Morocco to bring 25 Sahrawi political prisoners to the military court, 10 of whom were human rights defenders.  This was completely paradoxical and incompatible and the World Federation of Democratic Youth reminded that the Western Sahara was not under Moroccan administration but was on the United Nations de-colonization list while waiting for a referendum on self-determination.

Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociacion Civil said that last year in Paraguay there was a breakdown of democracy with consequences for the whole of Latin America.  In Honduras human rights defenders were subjected to killings, threats and persecution.  In Paraguay there was an ongoing process of stigmatization and criminalization of persons living in poverty in rural areas.  Centro de estudios Legales y Sociales Asociacion Civil urged Latin American countries to continue to deal with human rights violations in Honduras.   

Union of Arab Jurists, in a joint statement, said that many States, including members of this Council, were violating on an ongoing basis Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, the meaning of which they had misunderstood.  Regarding the crisis in Syria, the media war had contributed to the increase of the tragedy of the Syrian people.  The Union of Arab Jurists called upon all parties to the conflict to engage actively in dialogue to put an end to the conflict.  Those who plotted against Syria had also plotted against Iraq in 2003 and had destroyed it.   

European Region of International Lesbian and Gay Federation said that a law against propaganda defending homosexual persons, which had been adopted in nine Russian regions, was used as a tool to detain activists and to limit freedom of expression and violate the rights of persons on the basis of sexual orientation.  In Saint Petersburg the administration had refused to accept peaceful demonstrations under the pretext that those ran the rink of breaching the law.  Reports had also been received of attacks being carried out in several regions in Russia, and none of those had been investigated as hate crimes.

Human Rights Watch said civil society and the media continued to face harassment and surveillance in Sri Lanka and Human Rights Watch remained concerned about the use of torture in Sri Lanka.  In July the Government had made public its action plan on the recommendations of the lessons learnt and reconciliation commission, but the plan seemed more of an attempt to deflect international scrutiny of the human rights situation than address the concerns of United Nations Member States.  An international investigation was the only way forward.

Baha’i International Community said that last week Iran delivered a vibrant statement defending freedom of religion or belief, particularly as concerns Muslims in non-Muslim countries.  However, Iran blatantly violated freedom of religion within its own borders and Sufis, Sunnis, Christians and Baha’is could not practice their faith freely, and those who dared to hold different beliefs were vilified.  The Council needed to impress upon Iran that Islamic justice would be served if practiced at home.

Asian Legal Resource Centre welcomed the recent country visits to Pakistan by Special Procedures and lamented that religious discrimination and attacks on minorities continued unabated in Pakistan against Christians, Hindus, members of the Ahmadiyya community and the Shia, often in acquiescence of the authorities, and that the government refused to review the blasphemy laws.  The Asian Legal Resource Centre had documented the killings of 16 journalists, five allegedly by state intelligence agencies, and no effective investigations of prosecutions had been conducted. 

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies brought to the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council the harsh crackdown on human rights defenders and civil society currently taking place in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.  It urged the concerned United Nations Member States to request a special debate over the protection of human rights defenders in the Gulf region.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that the most significant issue to consider at the Council was the situation in Syria, which could have grave consequences in the region   It was also concerned by the condition of political prisoners in Iran, and believed that an independent international group of experts must visit all prison facilities including the Fashafouyeh, Kahrizak and Gharechak prisons.

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Projects called on the Government of Ethiopia, standing as a candidate for election to the Human Rights Council, and in light of the change in leadership in the country following the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, to carry out important reforms to re-establish respect for the freedoms of association, assembly and expression as a matter of priority. 

Society for Threatened Peoples was gravely concerned about the human rights situation in China, particularly in Tibet, where the number of self immolations was on the rise in protest against injustices and to draw attention to their tragic plight.  The response of Chinese officials to Tibetan protectors was brutal.  China should uphold the human rights of all its citizens, including Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongolians.

Minority Rights Group continued to be concerned about the situation of Rohingya, an ethnic, religious and linguistic minority in Rakhine state, Myanmar, subjected to systematic, discriminatory treatment on issues as diverse as marriage law, taxes, freedom to travel and labour rights for decades.  Sectarian violence from June this year quickly evolved into large-scale State-sponsored violence against the Rohingya.

Amnesty International said that due to indiscriminate air bombardment by the Sudanese Air Force, some 600,000 persons were displaced or severely affected in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and some 200,000 had fled to South Sudan and Ethiopia.  Most concerns raised in this Council about Sudan remained outstanding; the Council must do everything it could to end the gross and systematic human rights violations in Sudan.

Press Emblem Campaign said that it was unacceptable that journalists around the world were still facing threats to their physical integrity for doing their job.  Press Emblem Campaign expressed deep concern about journalist arrests in Turkey charged under the anti-terrorism law.  The invocation of national security as a pretext for restricting the right of expression in Turkey was totally unjustified.  Press Emblem Campaign also remained concerned about the relocation of the current trial of 36 journalists and called upon the Special Rapporteur to follow closely the proceedings of that trial. 

Maryam Ghasemi Educational Charity Institute said that the rise of United States drone attacks was a cause for serious concern.  Moreover, the recent earthquake in Iran demonstrated that the sanctions which had been imposed on the country by the United States had no meaning and were far from beneficial to the local population.  Therefore, Maryam Ghasemi Educational Charity Institute called upon the Council to set up a panel for human rights violations and sanctions with the aim of separating the two wherever necessary.

United Schools International said that long-held prejudices and a belief of national superiority led to forms of racism, discrimination and xenophobia that were difficult to eradicate.  One of the results of the global war on terror was the adoption of policies by liberal societies, which had increased inter-race and inter-religious tensions.  As a result of that, hate crimes had been reported in societies regarded as democratic.  For example, the recent ban by a supermarket chain in Australia on Indian and Asian applicants was clear discrimination and therefore was unacceptable.
   
International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism said, with regards to Sri Lanka, that it regretted that political leaders of the ruling coalition continued to incite hatred and antagonism against human rights defenders.  On the issue of militarisation that affected the indigenous peoples of Ryukyus in Japan, the International Movement called upon the Governments of the United States and Japan to immediately stop their plans, and for the peoples of Ryukyus to be recognised as indigenous, and that their rights be protected, promoted and respected in full accordance with international standards.

Comité International pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples drew the Council’s attention to the situation of Mauritanian citizens victims of kidnapping, arbitrary detention and summary execution by the separatist Polisario group.  On behalf of survivors and executors, Comité International appealed to the international community that an independent inquiry be held on crimes committed by the Polisario.  The victims asked for support and for international justice to be carried out.

Syriac Universal Alliance said that in Syria, those people that needed the most assistance were the minorities.  Syriac Universal Alliance called upon the United Nations to hold a forced and meaningful dialogue between opposing parties and the international community to demand a cease fire and halt the provision of weapons into Syria, leading to a roadmap to peace; for humanitarian aid to be provided to all vulnerable persons; and for future elections to be held and a new constitution to be drafted for a federal Syrian State which took into consideration the protection of all minorities.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said that conflict-related violence had led to over 1,000 deaths and attacks against Kurds had increased in Afghanistan; the international community must continue to monitor this human rights situation.  The Council should continue its engagement with Mali on the human rights situation in the north of the country, and request the High Commissioner to present a comprehensive report at the next session.

Centre Europe-Tiers Monde said that it had repeatedly requested the Government of Guatemala to investigate the situation of people in the community of San Andres y La Libertad.  There was an increase in military emplacement in this community, which prevented the inhabitants from gathering woods and rather then protecting the people, the military was prosecuting them.

International Commission of Jurists called on the Human Rights Council to request the Security Council to immediately refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court and take other measures at its disposal to protect the civilians in this country.  The situation in Syria had deteriorated into an internal armed conflict due to the paralysis of the international community.  The Council should recommend that the Security Council take robust measures to end breaches of international law and hold perpetrators accountable.

Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples said that it wished to draw attention to the ongoing repression of the Muslim minority of Uyghur by China and it condemned the placing under house arrest of Patigul Ghulam by the Chinese authorities in violation of domestic and international law.  Placing him under house arrest without charging him with a specific crime constituted a violation of the fundamental right to liberty.  In addition, an estimated 10,000 Uyghurs had forcibly disappeared since deadly violence rocked the Xinjiang region in July 2009.

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation said that following the recent passing of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, now was the time for the new leadership to commit to full respect of the population’s human rights and to re-establish respect for the freedom of assembly, association and expression.  It called upon the Council to urge Ethiopian authorities to remove restrictions on human rights associations in the country.  It also commended the Russian Federation on its non-intereference in peaceful demonstrations organized last weekend.  

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme said that it regretted the killing of American diplomatic staff last week in Libya, which showed the serious threat posed by armed militia in the country.  Thousands of African citizens suspected of having worked as mercenaries for the old regime were secretly detained and tortured by the militia.  Rencontre Africaine also called upon the international community to adopt a regulatory framework for the trade of conventional weapons and asked for an embargo to be applied to the import of weapons in Syria.
   
Right of Reply

Zimbabwe, speaking in a right of reply, said that Zimbabwe was dismayed by the statement of the United Kingdom under agenda item 4 and its referral to the situation in Zimbabwe in what it had termed the politically motivated State harassment of civil society.  Zimbabwe categorically dismissed that assertion and said that the real State harassment faced was in the form of the illegal sanctions that the United Kingdom and its allies had imposed on Zimbabwe.  These, imposed at the instigation of the United Kingdom, had and continued to have a debilitating impact on the economy and the lives of the people.  Zimbabwe called on the United Kingdom and its allies to immediately and unconditionally lift the illegal sanctions against it. 

Venezuela, speaking in a right of reply, referred to the statement made by the United States which once more displayed its usual conduct of defaming governments that would not submit to its hegemony.  Accusations of so-called limitations on freedom of expression and the bold-faced lies about the supposed use of court cases in order to harass owners of the media and political opposition were flimsy.  Venezuela urged the Government of the United States to cease its policy of besieging and harassing Venezuela and that it honour its commitment towards a new relationship with Latin America. 

Belarus, speaking in a right of reply, reminded the Council that Belarus had not agreed with the decision to establish the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, and did not intend to cooperate with him.  This Special Procedure was not a mandate but a political decision, which demonstrated the manipulation of the Council by some countries.  Belarus was of the opinion that a mandate should be established in the Human Rights Council to monitor the human rights situation in the European Union.  There were no political prisoners in Belarus, those were individuals who had violated the law and appropriate actions were already taken according to the national legislation that fully complied with international standards.

Azerbaijan, speaking in a right of reply, expressed surprise at the remarks of Armenia concerning human rights in Azerbaijan, and Armenia was an occupier herself.  The delegation of Armenia should advise the Government to exercise self-evaluation in the exercise of human rights.  Azerbaijan advised Armenia that before blaming and criticizing others, one should start at home.

Armenia, speaking said in a right of reply, said that Azerbaijan was a country that gave ineffective diplomatic assurances to a Hungarian official, thus endangering the whole system of international relations.  Lying, even if repeated, never became the truth.  

Azerbaijan, speaking in a second right of reply, denied Armenia’s allegations that the transfer of Mr. Zamirof had been carried out in violation of international law.

Armenia, speaking in a second right to reply, said that the reply by Azerbaijan to its claims had not been an appropriate response. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC12/107E


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