Maryam Rajavi calls for condemnation of increasing executions, effective action

Iranian Resistance President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi described the unprecedented increase in mass and arbitrary executions in various cities across Iran as the religious dictatorship’s utter fear of increasing social unrest and escalating popular protests.

“An increase in vicious executions has come at a time when two weeks ago the mullahs’ regime staged a rocket attack against Camp Liberty and was on the verge of killing refugee members of the Iranian Resistance. During the past week at least 30 prisoners in different cities of Iran were mass executed and in some cases hanged in public. 16 of these prisoners were executed on Sunday, July 17th alone,” Mrs. Rajavi said.

“All signs indicate the mullahs’ weakness and utter fragility more than ever before, and it being terrified of its indispensable toppling. This is the same fear that the regime showed hysterically in response to the grand annual gathering held by the Iranian Resistance. During the past few days Tehran has summoned representatives of foreign governments, made ridiculous threats and launched a choir of senior regime officials in all its propaganda organs in this regard,” she added.

The increasing trend of executions, especially one year after the signing of the nuclear agreement, once again proves the defeasance of the reform theory inside the regime. This also shows that the appeasement policies encourages this medieval regime in its criminal policies.

Dealing with and appeasing this regime at a time when mass executions, warmongering and its export of terrorism to regional countries are on the rise is considered practical collaboration with the mullahs, Mrs. Rajavi underscored as she called on the United Nations Security Council and member states of the European Union to strongly condemn these criminal executions and adopt effective measures against Tehran. All economic and political relations with the mullahs must be conditioned on abolishing all executions and improving the human rights situation in Iran, she added.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
July 18, 2016

(Source / 19.07.2016)

Syria: Coalition bombing kills at least 56 civilians

Mostly women and children reportedly killed in coalition air strikes on ISIL-held northern Syrian town.

Arab and Kurdish fighters, backed by the US, launched an offensive against ISIL to retake the city of Manbij late last month

At least 56 civilians, including 11 children, have been killed in US-led air strikes against areas in Syria held by the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), a monitoring group said.

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washinton, said that at least one town near the city of Manbij was allegedly hit by a coalition strike and that many of the casualties were reportedly women and children.

“The US central command has confirmed to Al Jazeera that it was conducting air strikes in the area and says it needs to investigate allegations of whether civilians were injured or killed in this incident.”

Director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel-Rahman told DPA news agency: “We believe that the raids which were carried out Tuesday were by US [or] allied planes, but it was by mistake.”

Residents in the area say the death told could be upwards of 200.

“It seems that the Syrian Democratic Forces under the leadership of the International coalition which is in charge of planning have decided to adopt a scorched earth policy,” Hasan al-Nifi, a community leader in Mabij, told Al Jazeera.

“Manbij is full of residents, a quarter of a million residents, used by ISIL as human shields. Yesterday the coalition struck Al Zahuna neighbourhood, where more than 23 people were killed. Then it struck the western gate of the city, killing 6 people.”

“Today the residents of Toka woke to a horrific massacre. The death toll rose to 212 and the numbers are rising.”

The Manbij area has seen intense US-led airstrikes in support of Kurdish-led forces who are trying to seize the city from ISIL, so as to block the armed group’s access to the nearby Turkish border.

The Observatory on Monday said that 104 civilians had been killed in airstrikes since the Democratic Forces of Syria (DFS) launched their campaign in the area at the end of May.

There was no immediate comment from the coalition, the Associated Press reported.

The SDF, an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters backed by the US, launched an offensive against ISIL to retake the city of Manbij late last month.

They have besieged the town and are advancing to the city centre under the cover of air strikes by the US-led international coalition.

ISIL has held the city since 2014, the year that the armed group seized control of large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq and declared its “caliphate”.


Also on Monday, Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations agency that supports Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), said a driver who works for the agency in Syria was killed after suffering a shrapnel wound in the northern city of Aleppo.

Gunness said Yaser Mahmoud Shuaeeb, a 45-year-old father of six children, died on Sunday.

Aleppo has witnessed some of the worst fighting in Syria over the past months. On Sunday, government forces besieged rebel-held neighbourhoods of the contested city.

READ MORE: Pressure mounts in Aleppo after supply line cut

Gunness said that UNRWA reported two other incidents on Sunday.

In one, a mortar shell landed 600 metres from the UN agency’s office in Damascus. In the other, a missile hit close to the Nairab refugee camp south of Aleppo. The incidents caused no injuries, he said.

The death toll in the Syrian conflict, which began with mostly unarmed demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, has risen to more than 280,000 people, while half the country’s population have been forced from their homes, according to UN estimates.

Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy to Syria, estimated last month that the actual death toll could be as high as 400,000 people.

(Source / 19.07.2016)

IOF notifies owners of 16 facilities with demolition in Nablus

NABLUS, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) notified Tuesday owners 14 homes and two agricultural facilities with demolition south of Nablus to the north of the West Bank. Local activist Ghassan Daghlas said that Israeli forces handed over demolition orders against seven houses in Faroush and Beit Dajan villages south of the city and seven other houses and two agricultural facilities in Kasra village. Two agricultural roads in Aqraba town were also closed. Dozens of local residents, including women and children, will be rendered be homeless in case the Israeli demolition orders are implemented.

(Source / 19.07.2016)

AMNESTY – Health taken hostage: Cruel denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons

The Iranian regime is “callously toying with the lives of prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners by denying them adequate medical care, putting them at grave risk of death, permanent disability or other irreversible damage to their health,” Amnesty International said on Monday.

A new report by Amnesty International published today, July 18, 2016, called “Health taken hostage: Cruel denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons”, provides a grim snapshot of health care in the regime’s prisons.

It presents strong evidence that the regime’s judiciary, in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, and prison administrations deliberately prevent access to adequate medical care, in many cases as an intentional act of cruelty intended to intimidate, punish or humiliate political prisoners, or to extract forced “confessions” or statements of “repentance” from them, the human rights group said.

“In Iran a prisoner’s health is routinely taken hostage by the authorities, who recklessly ignore the medical needs of those in custody. Denying medical care to political prisoners is cruel and utterly indefensible,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

“Prisoners’ access to health care is a right enshrined in both international and Iranian law. When depriving a prisoner of medical care causes severe pain or suffering and it is intentionally done for purposes such as punishment, intimidation or to extract a forced ‘confession’, it constitutes torture,” he added.

The report details 18 appalling cases of prisoners who have been denied medical care in some form and are at risk of suffering permanent damage to their health.

The report provides a deeply disturbing image of the Office of the Prosecutor, which in Iran is responsible for decisions concerning medical leave and hospital transfers. The Office of the Prosecutor often refuses to authorize hospital transfers for sick prisoners even though the care they need is not available in prison, and denies requests for medical leave for critically ill prisoners against doctors’ advice.

Amnesty International’s research found that in some cases prison officials had also violated prisoners’ rights to health, or were responsible for torture or other ill-treatment. In several cases, they withheld medication from political prisoners or unnecessarily used restraints such as handcuffs and leg shackles on political prisoners, interfering with their medical treatment, bruising theirs hands and feet or causing them discomfort and humiliation.

Prisoners interviewed by Amnesty International also said that prison doctors were sometimes complicit in the abuse. They said some prison doctors consistently downplayed or outright dismissed their health problems as “figments of their own imagination” and treated serious conditions with painkillers or tranquillizers.

The report reveals that women political prisoners, at least in Tehran’s Evin Prison where the clinic is entirely staffed by male doctors and nurses, face additional barriers to accessing medical care. On several occasions women prisoners, who experienced health problems, were denied emergency medical tests or other treatment because it was deemed inappropriate for them to be treated by male medical staff. Women were also subjected to sexual slurs and harassment for failing to comply with strict veiling regulations.

“The Iranian authorities and in particular the prosecution authorities have displayed a chilling ruthlessness in their attitude towards sick prisoners. They are toying with individuals’ lives with devastating, lasting consequences to their health,” said Luther.

“Iran’s authorities must immediately stop using the denial of medical care as a form of punishment or coercion and ensure all people in custody are able to access adequate health care without discrimination.”

Many political prisoners suffering from health conditions have felt that they have had no choice but to go on hunger strike to compel the authorities to provide them with medical care, Amnesty International said. Hunger strikes are usually greeted with indifference but in some cases the authorities have eventually granted the hunger striker short-term medical leave, then forced them to interrupt their treatment by returning them to prison after a brief period against medical advice.

In some cases prisoners were punished for going on hunger strike, it said.

Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian regime to immediately stop denying prisoners access to adequate medical care, in line with its international obligations. The authorities must investigate the prosecution authorities and all other officials – including medical staff – who may be involved in deliberately denying medical care to prisoners, the rights group said.

Scores of political prisoners affiliated to the main Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) have gone on hunger strike on many occasions in the past year in protest inhumane conditions and duress in the regime’s prisons. There have also been continuous reports on the mistreatment of other political prisoners from ethnic and religious minorities, in particular Kurdish and Sunni prisoners.

(Source / 19.07.2016)

IOF to take over Palestinian lands in favor of Amona outpost

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that Israel’s Chief Military Attorney General, General Avichai Mandelblit is to decide on moving Amona random outpost to a nearby location.  In a meeting with Israeli party leaders in the governmental alliance on Sunday, Mandelblit said that “an adjacent “legal” land could be prepared next to the illegal site. By doing this, there would be no need to set a new law in order to skip the Israeli Supreme Court”.  The lands to be taken over are private properties that belong to Palestinian absentees. The law stipulates for turning the properties of absentees into state properties. And, if the owners show up, they could be given alternative lands or be compensated financially, according to the newspaper.

(Source / 19.07.2016)

Saudi Foreign Minister: Assad didn’t commit to Russian Promises

Saudi Foreign Minister

Brussels – Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said there is a determination to expand bilateral relations between European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Speaking at the European Union-Gulf Cooperation Council Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Jubeir said that it is important to strengthen bilateral political, economic, cultural and social cooperation and relations between EU and GCC.

Following the meeting, Jubeir held a joint press conference with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini during which he said that Bashar al-Assad did not honor the Russian promises regarding Syria. He added that there’s hope for a solution for the Syrian crisis, but “Syria will be judged on what actually happens on the ground.”

The minister stressed that the humanitarian situation in Yemen concerns all parties and they are working closely with the U.N. envoy to follow up on the situation and devise solutions.

Whereas Mogherini said that EU and GCC have a mutual interest to work together closely on countering terrorism.

“We decided to do so more and more in the coming months and years. We will continue to work together to fight ISIS, other terrorist movements. But also we will work together to prevent radicalization and find ways to be effective in our fight against terrorism,” she said.

The ministerial meeting discussed the importance of increased cooperation to fight terrorism.

Secretary General of GCC Abdul Latif al-Zayani said during his speech that EU is one of the most important partners of GCC. He said that the trade exchange between GCC and EU reached 155 billion Euros in 2015.

Zayani added that the partnership between EU and GCC is conducted on several basis and includes negotiations and coordination to ensure stability and enhance security in the region.

Sec. Gen. added that the meeting happened during difficult times in the region and GCC has taken a series of decisions and initiatives to maintain stability in the region. He called for deepened bilateral relations especially in fighting terrorism.

Regarding Yemen, Zayani called for joint cooperation to ensure success of Yemeni peace talks in Kuwait to facilitate a comprehensive and lasting settlement between all Yemeni parties to restore peace.

“Leaders of GCC had instructed the Secretariat to call for an international conference to rebuild Yemen in coordination with the Yemeni government as well as international and regional organizations,” Zayani said.

In addition, a number of GCC foreign ministers met with U.S. State Secretary John Kerry and discussed a series of regional and international issues. The attendees talked about the efforts to reach political solutions to maintain security and stability in the region as well fighting terrorism, violence, and extremism.

The meeting also discussed the resolutions of the 2015 Camp David meeting between leaders of GCC and U.S. President Barack Obama.

Head of Mission for the Gulf Cooperation Council to the European Union Amal al-Hamad said that the attendees exchanged common concerns regarding situations in Yemen, Iran, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and the Middle East Peace Process.

She added that exporting the Iranian revolution to other countries is rejected especially in the Gulf countries where there is no sectarianism.

The EU delegation to the meeting was led by Mogherini, and the GCC delegation was led by Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi foreign minister as GCC rotating Presidency. The GCC Secretariat was represented by Abdullatif bin Rashed Al-Zayani, Secretary General.

EU and GCC Ministers agreed to hold their next meeting in Bahrain

(Source / 19.07.2016)

University student sentenced to 10 months imprisonment

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– The Israeli Ofer military court sentenced the female university student Doniya Musalah, 20, to 10 months imprisonment for alleged Facebook “incitement.” The court also imposed a fine estimated at $520 against Musalah after being accused of alleged incitement via Facebook, local sources pointed out. Musalah, from Doheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem, was arrested by Israeli occupation forces in November 2015.

(Source / 19.07.2016)

International campaign demands Israel to release 21 Palestinian journalists

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The syndicate of Palestinian journalists on Monday launched an international campaign to pressure Israeli authorities for the release of 21 Palestinian journalists from its jails. In a statement, the syndicate said that France, Britain, Italy, Spain along with a score of European syndicates as well as others of Latin American states are participating in the campaign. It involves sending letters to both of the EU and the international federation of journalists (IFJ) along with European syndicates demanding the release of those journalists. In a letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the IFJ demanded releasing Omar Nazzal, member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate.  A number of syndicates and journalist unions in the world directed letters to Netanyahu and the Minister of the Israeli Army demanding the release of all journalists along with those who are detained over charges related to freedom of speech and political and syndicate activities.

(Source / 19.07.2016)

Bahrain Says US, UK Criticism ‘Unacceptable Interference’

An anti-government protester stands in front of riot police while photographing other demonstrators in Manama, Bahrain. On Tuesday, June, 14, 2016, Bahrain said it has suspended all activities by Al-Wefaq, the largest Shiite opposition political group, and frozen its assets amid a widening crackdown on dissent, five years after the country’s Arab Spring protests.

An anti-government protester stands in front of riot police while photographing other demonstrators in Manama, Bahrain. On Tuesday, June, 14, 2016, Bahrain said it has suspended all activities by Al-Wefaq, the largest Shiite opposition political group, and frozen its assets amid a widening crackdown on dissent, five years after the country’s Arab Spring protests

The Bahraini government has issued a statement angrily condemning the US and Britain for their “unacceptable interference” in internal policy, after the two nations criticized the government’s ban on the largest opposition group in the nation.

The tiny nation of Bahrain has struggled with its treatment of their opposition since the Arab Spring. The royal family and by extension the government are Sunnis, but a majority of the population are Shi’ites. This has sparked repeated protests, with the Shi’ites claiming they are discriminated against in top positions around the country.

The banning of al-Wefaq, a Shi’ite group, continues that, with the US State Department calling the group a “nonviolent opposition,” and warning that banning them was undermining regional stability in the Persian Gulf.

A joint statement was issued today by several top Shi’ite clerics, saying they believe that the ban of Wefaq is part of a larger attack on their existence and identity.

Bahraini officials denied that, accusing the Shi’ites of being in league with “forces abroad,” and insisting that the banning of Wefaq was “just” and “transparent.” Bahrain typically accuses opposition politicians of being secretly directed by Iran.

(Source / 19.07.2016)

Israeli closures: ‘They’re pushing us into depression’

After recent attacks, Israel sealed off several towns throughout Hebron – a policy that has drawn widespread criticism.

Members of Um Ahmad's family wait at a blockaded entrance to Sair for a ride into the village [Emily Mulder/Al Jazeera]

Members of Um Ahmad’s family wait at a blockaded entrance to Sair for a ride into the village

Hebron, occupied West Bank – “Don’t drive through Younis – they shoot at people there,” Um Ahmad said through a bus window to the driver as he left Hebron’s central bus station.

Younis is a checkpoint at the main entrance to the occupied West Bank village of Sair, which was sealed earlier this month by the Israeli military after gunmen opened fire on an Israeli vehicle and injured the driver before fleeing into the village.

Um Ahmad and a dozen other Palestinians bound for the blockaded town told Al Jazeera that the junction in front of the checkpoint is notorious, as Palestinians have been shot dead there in the past during alleged attacks on Israeli forces. They debate which route to take home, before piling into another bus headed for the village’s southern entrance.

“We think this will be safer,” Um Ahmad told Al Jazeera, motioning to her niece’s young family. “We are scared. This is probably the best way.”

READ MORE: Israel escalates forced transfer of Palestinians

The bus moved through the neighbouring village of Beit Einun and passed by armed Israeli soldiers at a makeshift checkpoint before stopping on the outskirts of Sair, where passengers disembarked and crossed over cement roadblocks on foot.

Sair is one of several towns throughout the Hebron district that has been fully or partially closed by Israel since the start of the month, when deadly attacks carried out by locals left two Israeli settlers dead, marking the most widespread lockdown since 2014. The closures, accompanied by nightly detention raids that have left dozens injured, have severely disrupted the movement of an estimated 400,000 Palestinians,according to the United Nations.

A spokesperson for the Israeli army told Al Jazeera that the recent measures were carried out “according to security assessments” in light of the latest attacks.

In recent months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has also ordered revocations of work and visitation permits to Israel, punitive home demolitions and withholding of bodies of Palestinians killed while perpetrating attacks.

The measures come despite mountingreports of opposition to such punitive policies by leaders of Israel’s military and security establishments. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak last month said such policies opposed long-standing analyses by security and military sectors, while the Israeli army’s chief of staff, Gadi Eizenkot, has warned that closures and permit revocations could increase frustration and lead to future unrest.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has rejected such criticisms, vowing after a deadly Tel Aviv attack last month to make residents of the attacker’s hometown of Yatta “pay the price”.

In Sair, meanwhile, residents’ frustration is palpable. Near the city centre, Palestinian lawyer Jarrar Jabarin described the closures as collective punishment.

“[The Israeli army] distributed leaflets across the village, saying they won’t stop the closures until the citizens give them the wanted people,” Jabarin told Al Jazeera, sitting outside a shop with two friends.

The trio said that the army has carried out nightly raids throughout the village all month – some of which kept residents up until dawn. Several locals also reported seeing mista’aravim, Israeli security forces who enter Palestinian areas posing as Arabs.

We just want to live peacefully and live our lives, nothing else. But the situation that we’re facing today … It’s affecting the new generation [and] causing them to be more violent.

Husan Jabarin, teacher

Sair resident Muhammad Jaradat said that while the village has grown accustomed to frequent closures since a fresh wave of violence began rippling through Israel and the occupied West Bank in October, the current lockdown was tighter than previous ones.

Critics attribute the harsher measures to Netanyahu’s efforts to cement his authority, as he has ushered increasingly hard-line politicians into his inner circle. Israeli rights group B’Tselem described the measures carried out in Hebron as “an ostentatious act of vengeance taken by Israeli authorities for domestic political reasons, at the expense of Palestinian residents in the Hebron area”.

An apparent divide growing between the military and government came to a head in May, when former Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon resigned after urging members of the military to express their opinions – even those that contradict the official line. At the time, he said Netanyahu’s government had “lost its moral compass”.

According to Tel Aviv University political analyst Dahlia Scheindlin, “the security establishment is willing to say there’s a connection between economic opportunity and terror, and the political establishment doesn’t like that narrative, or refuses to see [the narrative] as a legitimate way to respond to security incidents.”

READ MORE: Israel to revoke Jerusalem residency of Palestinians

Such opposition by security and military leadership goes back decades, but its recent increase is a “natural outgrowth of an unsustainable political policy”, Scheindlin said, citing Israel’s military control over 4.5 million Palestinians.

“[The current government policy] is not status quo. There’s nothing static about it,” she said. “It’s dynamic, in that it’s deepening and expanding Israel’s presence in the West Bank … It contributes to and perpetuates lack of economic opportunity and lack of political realisation, all the things we know that are among the contributors to the violence.”

Barak, in his scathing review of Netanyahu’s government, also implied such policies were untenable, noting that the agenda being carried out by the current government would “collide directly” with the “values of the [Israeli army], the principles of Israel, international law and common sense”.

Back in Sair, local teacher Husan Jabarin told Al Jazeera that the recent measures were pushing the community away from the peace it has been seeking.

“They’re pushing us into depression,” he said. “We just want to live peacefully and live our lives, nothing else. But the situation that we’re facing today … It’s affecting the new generation [and] causing them to be more violent.

“We are really sad for that – it’s not what we want, but that’s what the occupation is creating.”

(Source / 19.07.2016)