“Human rights no longer treated as a priority, but as a pariah,” Zeid tells 25th anniversary gathering in Vienna
UN Office of the High Commissioner
Vienna (22 May 2018) – In a speech delivered Tuesday at an international conference marking the 25th anniversary of a landmark human rights declaration, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein issued a stark warning that the world in general, including Europe, is back-sliding on human rights.
The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by consensus on 25 June 1993, and heavily influenced by the atrocities occurring just across Austria’s border with the former Yugoslavia, laid down the blueprint for human rights in the post-Cold-War era. It also set in motion the establishment of the UN Human Rights Office that Zeid now heads.
“This anniversary could be the occasion for a polite celebration of the achievements of my Office over the past two and a half decades – and they are many,” Zeid told the delegates gathered in Vienna. “But today is not a time for soporific complacency. Human rights are sorely under pressure around the world – no longer a priority: a pariah. The legitimacy of human rights principles is attacked. The practice of human rights norms is in retreat. Here in Europe, ethno-populist parties are in the ascendant in many countries – fuelling hatred and scarring their societies with deepening divisions.”
Referring to Austria, the High Commissioner added “In this country – which more than most should be aware of the dangers of ethnically divisive rhetoric… – false and incendiary statements have been made which are fundamentally at odds with the Vienna Declaration.”
The full text of his 870-word statement can be read below: (more…)
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967
GENEVA (15 May 2018) – A UN human rights expert has called on the Israeli Government to immediately cease its lethal assault against protesters at the Gaza fence, who appear to pose no credible threat to Israeli military forces on the Israeli side of the fence.
Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, condemned Israel’s excessive use of force towards largely unarmed demonstrators at the Gaza fence on Monday, which has left 58 Palestinians dead, and almost 2,800 wounded. He expressed grave fears this figure could rise sharply in coming days unless Israeli authorities uphold their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
“This blatant excessive use of force by Israel – an eye for an eyelash – must end, and there must be true accountability for those in military and political command who have ordered or allowed this force to be once again employed at the Gaza fence,” he said. (more…)
Hamas political bureau member, Khalil al-Hayya, said that the patience of resistance factions, especially the al-Qassam Brigades, is running out and a retaliation is imminent following the massacre of Gazan civilians by the Israeli Occupation on Monday.
In a press conference held by Hamas during the Great March of Return and after the massacre of dozens of unarmed Palestinians, al-Hayya said that the Palestinian resistance factions are standing side by side the Palestinian people and have their full support.
He added, “the shedding of our people’s blood today stains the faces of those normalizing with the Israeli Occupation and bargaining on the Palestinian cause with shame.”
Al-Hayya called on Arab and Islamic uprisings to condemn the Israeli Occupation, describing the uprisings as “a natural response to this Israeli aggression against innocent Palestinian civilians.”
Al-Hayya stressed that Jerusalem is a red line and the transfer of the US embassy is an explicit attack on the history, rights and legitimacy of the Palestinian people.
“The American administration bears all the consequences of the implementation of this unjust decision, and this terrible crime will not pass unaccountable,” al-Hayya confirmed.
He reiterated his movement’s rejection of Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century”, indicating that the movement will do everything it can to exterminate it, and that it will stand against all projects aiming to liquidate the Palestinian cause.
Unity in the field
The Hamas leader praised the unified work that took place during the Great March of Return and called on for the continuation of the peaceful protests until the rights of the Palestinians are fully retained.
“Our people who are living the bitterness of the Nakba will not remain silent and will not retreat until their ambitions and goals of returning back to their homeland are achieved”.
He concluded that the violent and lethal response of the Israeli Occupation to the peaceful Marches confirms the Zionist occupation’s terrorist nature calling on the Arabs to stop the series of normalization and cut its ties with the Occupation.
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Subject: (1) Gaza
We condemn the appalling, deadly violence in Gaza yesterday during which 58 Palestinians were killed and almost 1,360 demonstrators were injured with live ammunition by Israeli security forces. Of those injured, 155 are in critical condition. Six children and a health worker were among those who lost their lives, and 10 journalists suffered injuries from gunshot wounds. The already crumbling health care system in Gaza has been placed under incredible strain and those suffering life-threatening injuries face a nightmarish scenario in the absence of adequate hospital beds and medical services. We are still witnessing cases in which injured demonstrators are effectively prevented by Israel from exiting Gaza for treatment.
The rules on the use of force under international law have been repeated many times but appear to have been ignored again and again. It seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press personnel, first responders, bystanders, and at almost any point up to 700m from the fence.
A number of the demonstrators approached the fence, threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces personnel, and flew kites laden with petrol soaked material. Some tried to damage the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. Others burnt tires. Israeli forces responded with tear gas, plastic bullets and various types of live ammunition, some causing horrific wounds and lifelong disability. We stress, again, that lethal force may only be used as a measure of last – not first – resort, and only when there is an immediate threat to life or serious injury. An attempt to approach or crossing or damaging the fence do not amount to a threat to life or serious injury and are not sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition. This is also the case with regards to stones and molotov cocktails being thrown from a distance at well-protected security forces located behind defensive positions.
Again, we call for independent, transparent investigations in all cases of death and injury since 30 March. Since 30 March, 112 Palestinians, including 14 children, have lost their lives at the fence and thousands have been injured.
We are extremely worried about what may happen today – an emotional day on all sides – and in the weeks ahead. We urge maximum restraint. Enough is enough.
(Arabic version available on http://www.ohchr.org/AR/Pages/Home.aspx)
Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness
Jerusalem 14 May 2018
UNRWA is dismayed by the deaths and injuries in Gaza today of dozens of civilians, including children. The Agency unreservedly condemns the excessive use of force employed against demonstrators, who have the right to peaceful assembly and expression.
The population in the Gaza Strip has been exposed to the consequences of repeated armed conflicts and a stifling blockade over the past decade. Today’s violence and loss of life will add yet another layer of trauma onto an already untenable situation.
UNRWA is specifically alarmed by the impact the latest developments have had on Palestine refugees, who constitute over 70 percent of Gaza’s population. Since 30 March, when what has become known as the “Great March of Return” started, at least 4 UNRWA students have been killed and some 125 injured.
Behind the numbers, there are shattered lives, destinies and limbs. In many cases the injuries sustained are very severe and likely to result in life-long disabilities. UNRWA supports calls for investigations into these grave incidents in accordance with international standards to ensure accountability for violations of international law.
The risk is high to see similar violence occur again in the coming days. Collective international mobilization is therefore urgently required to prevent further loss of life and injury. Every additional casualty is a defeat for humanity.
COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS
Beirut, May 14, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the use of gunfire by Israeli forces against journalists covering protests today in the Gaza Strip. At least seven Palestinian journalists have been injured by Israeli gunfire while covering today’s demonstrations, according to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), reports shared on social media by media outlets and journalists, and CPJ interviews with local journalists Saud Abu Ramadan and Moneeb Saada.
Thousands of Palestinians have been protesting for seven consecutive weeks over Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their pre-1948 homes, news reports said. Today marks the 70th anniversary of what Israel claims as its independence day and Palestinians call Nakba Day to commemorate their displacement from Israel. Today’s protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip also coincided with the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, according to news reports.
“The number of Palestinian journalists injured by gunfire in Gaza has grown by the week,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. “The fact that Israeli authorities have ignored demands that they halt the use of live fire against journalists reinforces the perception that they do not want the world to see what is happening in Gaza.”
The following journalists were injured by gunfire today:
- Omar Hamdan, a cameraperson for the state-owned Algerian Television, was hit in his left leg by a live round while covering protests east of Gaza City, according to news reports, the PJS, reports shared on social media by news outlets, and local journalists Ramadan and Saada.
- Mohammed Abu Dahrouj, a cameraperson for the media production company Zain Media, was hit in his right leg by a live round while covering protests east of Gaza City, according to reports shared on social media by news outlets, the PJS, Ramadan, and Saada.
- Abdullah al-Shorbagi, a reporter for the local Hamas-affiliated Khan Younis Media Network, was hit in the left foot by a live round while covering protests east of Khan Younis, according to his employer, the PJS, reports shared by local journalists and news outlets on social media, Ramadan, and Saada.
- Farhan Hashem Abu Hadayd, a reporter for the local news website Safad Press, was hit in his left leg by a live round while covering protests east of Rafah, according to news reports, the PJS, reports and pictures shared by media outlets, and local human rights activist Mohammed Abdullah.
- Yasser Qudeih, a freelance photographer for the Hamas-affiliated daily Palestine, was hit in his abdomen by a live round while covering protests east of Gaza City, according to reports shared on Facebook by news outlets, Ramadan, and Saada. He is currently under observation in the intensive care unit at the European Hospital in Gaza, according to Saada.
- Nihad Fuad, a reporter for the community radio station Forsan al-Erada, was hit in the head by a live round while covering protests in the southern Gazan city of Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis, according to Facebook reports by media outlets, Ramadan, and Saada. He has been transferred for treatment to the European Hospital in Gaza, according to Saada.
- Wael Dahdouh, a reporter for the Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera, was injured in the right hand by gunfire while covering protests east of Gaza City, according to his employer, news reports, reports on social media, Ramadan, and Saada.
In addition to the seven journalists injured by direct fire, Mohammed al-Duwaik, a cameraperson for the local news agency Itehad Press, was hit in his arms by shrapnel from an explosive device while he was covering protests east of Gaza City, according to Al-Duwaik and the PJS.
The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately reply to CPJ’s email requesting comment.
Since the protests began on March 30, 2018, CPJ has documented that live rounds fired by the Israel Defense Force have hit at least 22 journalists, two of whom–Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein–later died from their injuries.
There is no truth to what is being propagated through some media about the Interior Ministry’s demand for citizens to evacuate the Great March of Return camps.
Spokesman for the Ministry of Interior and National Security
Monday 14 May, 2018