NGOs want Russia out of UN rights council for Syria role

Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military's General Staff speaks in front of a map of the Aleppo area in Syria, at a briefing at the Russian Defense Ministry's headquarters in Moscow on Oct. 19, 2016. Human rights and aid organizations on Monday urged UN member states to drop Russia from the Human Rights Council over its military campaign in Syria. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Updated 24 October 2016
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NGOs want Russia out of UN rights council for Syria role

UNITED NATIONS: More than 80 human rights and aid organizations on Monday urged UN member states to drop Russia from the Human Rights Council over its military campaign in Syria.
Human Rights Watch, CARE International and Refugees International were among the signatories of the appeal launched ahead of elections to fill 14 seats at the 47-nation council on Friday.
Russia, Hungary and Croatia will be running for two seats representing the Eastern European group at the council, which is tasked with addressing rights violations worldwide.
The organizations urged UN member states to “question seriously whether Russia’s role in Syria — which includes supporting and undertaking military actions which have routinely targeted civilians and civilian objects — renders it fit to serve on the UN’s premier inter-governmental human rights institution.”
Russia has been supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s war against opposition rebels and jihadists from the Daesh group since September 2015.
On Friday, the UN General Assembly will cast ballots to elect the members for a three-year term beginning in 2017.
Other than Russia, China and Saudi Arabia are almost guaranteed to win seats as their regional grouping is putting forward a clean slate of four countries for four seats. The other two are Iraq and Japan.
Brazil, Cuba and Guatemala will be battling for two seats representing Latin America.
Africa is also presenting a clean slate, with Egypt, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia set to win seats.
The United States and Britain are seeking election to the two seats representing the Western Europe and others group.
Created in 2006, the rights council monitors violations and in particular set up a ground-breaking commission of inquiry on North Korea that led to calls for war crimes prosecutions of the Pyongyang regime.
The council last week asked the commission of inquiry for Syria to carry out a special investigation of rights abuses in Aleppo.


Iran commemorates war with parade of tanks, missiles

Updated 53 min 39 sec ago

Iran commemorates war with parade of tanks, missiles

  • Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of a Sept. 14 drone and missile attack on oil facilities

JEDDAH: As Saudi Arabia prepared to celebrate its National Day with entertainment events, firework displays and cultural events, Iran staged a military parade in Tehran on Sunday with tanks, missiles and armored vehicles.

President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian military leaders saluted as ranks of soldiers marched past them in tight unison, followed by an array of military hardware.

Among the weapons on display in the parade, held to mark the anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, was an upgraded warhead for the Khorramshahr ballistic missile, said to have a range of 2,000km, and the Kaman 12 drone with a range of 1,000km. Speedboats and warships were shown in video footage on state TV.

Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of a Sept. 14 drone and missile attack on oil facilities in the east of the Kingdom. After the attack the Pentagon ordered US troops to reinforce Saudi air and missile defenses.

In a speech at Monday’s parade, Rouhani denounced the US presence. “Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region,” he said.

“If they’re sincere, then they should not make our region the site of an arms race.

“Their presence has always brought pain and misery ... the farther they keep themselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be.”

The US aims to avoid war with Iran and the additional troops are for “deterrence and defense,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

“If that deterrence should continue to fail, I am also confident that President Trump would continue to take the actions that are necessary,” he said.