Italian MPs approve resolution condemning Iran for death sentences

Italian MPs approve resolution condemning Iran for death sentences
The resolution binds the Italian government to call for the annulment of the death sentences issued against demonstrators and to request their immediate and unconditional release. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 December 2022
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Italian MPs approve resolution condemning Iran for death sentences

Italian MPs approve resolution condemning Iran for death sentences
  • Committee passes binding text with ‘really remarkable’ bipartisan support for protestors’ rights
  • President Sergio Mattarella: Iran’s behavior ‘cannot, in any way, be set aside’

ROME: A resolution calling on Iran to immediately cease handing down death sentences to anti-government protestors, to withdraw all charges against them and free them from detention was unanimously approved by the Foreign and European Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

The text calls for the release of those “arrested solely for having peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in the context of the protests,” the speaker of the committee, Giulio Tremonti, told Arab News.

Tremonti stressed that the resolution “was backed by all the parties, as a sign of the unity of Italy in the support to the Iranian population,” calling the cross-party agreement “really remarkable.”

The resolution binds the Italian government to call for the annulment of the death sentences issued against demonstrators and to request their immediate and unconditional release.

A few days ago the Italian Senate’s Foreign and Defense Committee approved a similar resolution.

Andrea Orsini, a deputy with the Forza Italia party who presented the resolution at the committee, said in a press conference attended by Arab News at the Montecitorio Palace that “it is intolerable that Iran is so aggressive towards democracy and remains a factor of instability for the world and for the Middle East.”

MP Federica Onori of the Five Star Movement stressed that “what is happening in Iran is seriously unbelievable,” while Ettore Rosato from the Italia Viva party called for the “need to politically isolate the regime in Tehran; that regime has nothing to do with the population.”

In a conference speech to Italian ambassadors based around the world on Wednesday, Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella stated that he deplored the brutal crackdown against the protests that have swept Iran since the death of the 22-year-old Kurdish woman Masha Amini while in police custody in September, after she was detained for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly.

Mattarella stressed that Iran “has exceeded all limits” in its bloody crackdown on protests. “This cannot, in any way, be set aside,” he added.


Detained Iran protesters raped, sexually assaulted: Amnesty

Detained Iran protesters raped, sexually assaulted: Amnesty
Updated 9 sec ago
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Detained Iran protesters raped, sexually assaulted: Amnesty

Detained Iran protesters raped, sexually assaulted: Amnesty

PARIS: Members of the Iranian security forces raped and used other forms of sexual violence against women and men detained in the crackdown on nationwide protests that erupted from September 2022, Amnesty International said Wednesday.
Amnesty said in a report it had documented 45 such cases of rape, gang rape or sexual violence against protesters. With cases in more than half of Iran’s provinces, it expressed fear these documented violations appeared part of a “wider pattern.”
“Our research exposes how intelligence and security agents in Iran used rape and other sexual violence to torture, punish and inflict lasting physical and psychological damage on protesters, including children as young as 12,” Amnesty’s secretary general Agnes Callamard said.
The London-based organization said it had shared its findings with the Iranian authorities on November 24 “but has thus far received no response.”
The protests began in Iran in September 2022 after the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, 22. Her family says she was killed by a blow to the head but this has always been disputed by the Iranian authorities.
After rattling Iran’s clerical leadership, the movement lost momentum by the end of that year in the face of a fierce crackdown that left hundreds dead, according to rights activists, and thousands arrested, according to the United Nations.
Amnesty said 16 of the 45 cases documented in the report were of rape, including six women, seven men, a 14-year-old girl, and two boys aged 16 and 17.
Six of them — four women and two men — were gang raped by up to 10 male agents, it said.
It said the sexual assaults were carried out by members of the Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary Basij force, agents of the intelligence ministry, as well as police officers.
The rapes on women and men were carried out with “wooden and metal batons, glass bottles, hosepipes, and/or agents’ sexual organs and fingers,” it said.
As well as the 16 rape victims, Amnesty said it documented the cases of 29 victims of other forms of sexual violence such as the beating of breasts and genitals, enforced nudity, and inserting needles or applying ice to men’s testicles.
It said it collected the testimony through interviews with the victims and other witnesses, conducted remotely via secure communications platforms.
“The harrowing testimonies we collected point to a wider pattern in the use of sexual violence as a key weapon in the Iranian authorities’ armory of repression of the protests and suppression of dissent to cling to power at all costs,” said Callamard.
One woman, named only as Maryam, who was arrested and held for two months after removing her headscarf in a protest, told Amnesty she was raped by two agents during an interrogation.
“He (the interrogator) called two others to come in and told them ‘It’s time’. They started ripping my clothes. I was screaming and begging them to stop.
“They violently raped me in my vagina with their sexual organs and raped me anally with a drink bottle. Even animals don’t do these things,” she was quoted by the group as saying.
A man named as Farzad told Amnesty that plain clothes agents gang raped him and another male protester, Shahed, while they were inside a vehicle.
“They pulled down my trousers and raped me. I couldn’t scream out. I was really being ripped apart... I was throwing up a lot, and was bleeding from my rectum when I went to the toilet,” said Farzad who was released without charge a few days later.
Amnesty said most victims did not file complaints against the assault for fear of further consequences, and those who did tell prosecutors were ignored.
“With no prospects for justice domestically, the international community has a duty to stand with the survivors and pursue justice,” said Callamard.


Israel not doing enough to allow fuel, aid into Gaza -US

An ambulance is stopped by Israeli army forces during a raid in Jenin, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 5, 2023.
An ambulance is stopped by Israeli army forces during a raid in Jenin, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 5, 2023.
Updated 34 min 35 sec ago
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Israel not doing enough to allow fuel, aid into Gaza -US

An ambulance is stopped by Israeli army forces during a raid in Jenin, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 5, 2023.
  • Israeli forces stormed southern Gaza’s main city of Khan Younis on Tuesday, and hospitals struggled to cope with scores of Palestinian dead and wounded

WASHINGTON: Israel needs to do more to allow fuel and other aid into Gaza, the United States said on Tuesday as Israel’s offensive against Hamas in southern areas of the Palestinian enclave intensified.
“The level of assistance that’s getting in is not sufficient,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at a press briefing. “It needs to go up, and we’ve made that clear to the government of Israel.”
On Monday, 100 humanitarian aid trucks and about 69,000 liters of fuel were delivered to Gaza from Egypt, the United Nations said, about the same as Sunday.
“This is well below the daily average of 170 trucks and 110,000 liters of fuel that had entered during the humanitarian pause that took place between 24 and 30 November,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Tuesday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on his third trip to the Middle East since the Hamas attack on Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7, last week pressed the Israeli government to increase the flow of aid and to minimize civilian harm in its offensive against Hamas.
Israeli forces stormed southern Gaza’s main city of Khan Younis on Tuesday, and hospitals struggled to cope with scores of Palestinian dead and wounded.
In what appeared to be the biggest ground assault in Gaza since a truce with Hamas unraveled last week, Israel said its troops — who were backed by warplanes — had reached the heart of Khan Younis and were surrounding the city
A World Health Organization official in Gaza said on Tuesday the situation was deteriorating by the hour.

 

 


UN food agency stops deliveries to millions in Yemen areas controlled by Houthi rebels

UN food agency stops deliveries to millions in Yemen areas controlled by Houthi rebels
Updated 36 min 4 sec ago
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UN food agency stops deliveries to millions in Yemen areas controlled by Houthi rebels

UN food agency stops deliveries to millions in Yemen areas controlled by Houthi rebels

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations food agency said Tuesday it is stopping food distribution in areas of war-torn Yemen controlled by the Houthi rebels, a move that will impact millions of people.
The World Food Program said the “pause” was driven by limited funding and the lack of agreement with the rebel authorities on downscaling the program to match the agency’s resources.
“This difficult decision, made in consultation with donors, comes after nearly a year of negotiations, during which no agreement was reached to reduce the number of people served from 9.5 million to 6.5 million,” WFP said in a statement.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said WFP has tried unsuccessfully “to establish a system that is safe and accountable for the aid going through” to the rebel-held areas.
The war in Yemen has raged for eight years between the Iran-backed Houthis and pro-government forces, backed by a coalition of Gulf Arab states. The Houthis swept down from the mountains in 2014, seized much of northern Yemen and the country’s capital, Sanaa, and forced the internationally recognized government to flee into exile to Saudi Arabia. Since then, more than 150,000 people have been killed by the violence and 3 million have been displaced.
The WFP announcement came as the Houthis have unleashed attacks on ships in the Red Sea, imperiling traffic along one of the world’s most vital shipping lanes, critical to global trade. The Houthis support the Palestinian militant Hamas group and the attacks are linked to the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war.
WFP said food stocks in Houthi-controlled areas “are now almost completely depleted and resuming food assistance, even with an immediate agreement, could take up to as long as four months due to the disruption of the supply chain.”
The Rome-based UN agency said it will continue its other programs, such as nutrition and school feeding projects, to limit the impact of the pause in food distributions. In government-controlled areas of Yemen, WFP said general food distribution will continue “with a heightened focus on the most vulnerable families.”
“Similar prioritization is taking place in nearly half of WFP’s operations around the world as the agency navigates the challenging financial landscape that the entire humanitarian sector is facing,” the agency said.
At the end of October, WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization warned that acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further in Yemen through April 2024. It called for urgent and scaled-up assistance to Yemen and 17 other “hunger hotspots” to protect livelihoods and increase access to food.


Israeli hostage families angry after meeting with Netanyahu

Israeli hostage families angry after meeting with Netanyahu
Updated 44 min 30 sec ago
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Israeli hostage families angry after meeting with Netanyahu

Israeli hostage families angry after meeting with Netanyahu
  • “They say ‘we’ve done this, we’ve done that.’ (Hamas’ Gaza leader Yahya) Sinwar is the one who returned our people, not them
  • Several of the relatives who attended the meeting left bitterly critical of the government

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met families of returned hostages on Tuesday in an encounter that some of those present described as loud and angry.
The meeting came as fighting has resumed in the Gaza Strip following a seven-day pause that saw the return of more than 100 hostages from the enclave. The fate of 138 captives who remained behind is still open.
“I heard stories that broke my heart, I heard about the thirst and hunger, about physical and mental abuse,” Netanyahu said at a news conference. “I heard and you also heard, about sexual assault and cases of brutal rape unlike anything.”
Several of the relatives who attended the meeting left bitterly critical of the government.
Dani Miran, whose son Omri was taken hostage on Oct. 7 by Hamas gunmen along with around 240 other Israelis and foreigners, said he felt his intelligence had been insulted by the meeting and had walked out in the middle of it.
“I won’t go into the details of what was discussed at the meeting but this entire performance was ugly, insulting, messy,” he told Israel’s Channel 13, saying the government had made a “farce” out of the issue.
“They say ‘we’ve done this, we’ve done that.’ (Hamas’ Gaza leader Yahya) Sinwar is the one who returned our people, not them. It angers me that they say that they dictated things. They hadn’t dictated a single move.”
The meeting had been intended as a forum for released hostages to tell ministers of their experience in captivity. A group representing hostage families issued a series of unnamed quotes it said were taken from remarks made by some of the former hostages at the meeting.
The quotes told of mistreatment meted out to the captives by Hamas but the encounter was overshadowed by the emotions of families worried by the fate of relatives still being held.
“It was a very turbulent meeting, many people yelling,” said Jennifer Master, whose partner Andrey is a hostage.
Israel says a number of women and children remain in Hamas hands, while families with adult male relatives in captivity have been calling for them not to be forgotten.
“We are all trying to make sure our loved ones get home. There are those who want the women who are left or the children who are left, and those who say we want the men,” Master told Israel’s Channel 12.

 


Israel forces move into Gaza’s second-largest city

Palestinians salvage their belongings from the destruction by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Deir Al-Balah. (AP)
Palestinians salvage their belongings from the destruction by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Deir Al-Balah. (AP)
Updated 06 December 2023
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Israel forces move into Gaza’s second-largest city

Palestinians salvage their belongings from the destruction by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Deir Al-Balah. (AP)
  • Bombardment has grown fiercer across the territory, including areas where Palestinians are told to seek safety

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip: Israel said Tuesday that its troops had entered Gaza’s second-largest city as intensified bombardment sent streams of ambulances and cars racing to hospitals with wounded and dead Palestinians, including children, in a bloody new phase of the war.
The military said its forces were “in the heart” of Khan Younis, which has emerged as the first target in the expanded ground offensive into southern Gaza that Israel says aims to destroy Hamas. Military officials said they were engaged in the “most intense day” of battles since the ground offensive began more than five weeks ago, with heavy firefights also taking place in northern Gaza.
The assault into the south is pushing a new wave of displaced Palestinians almost two months into the war, raising alarm from relief groups that they can’t keep up because insufficient aid supplies are entering Gaza. The UN said 1.87 million people — more than 80 percent of Gaza’s population — have been driven from their homes. New evacuation orders by the Israeli military are squeezing people into ever-smaller areas of the tiny coastal strip’s southern portion.

BACKGROUND

The assault into the south is pushing a new wave of displaced Palestinians almost two months into the war, raising alarm from relief groups that they can’t keep up because insufficient aid supplies are entering Gaza.

Bombardment has grown fiercer across the territory, including areas where Palestinians are told to seek safety. In the central Gaza town of Deir Al-Balah, just north of Khan Younis, a strike Tuesday destroyed a house where dozens of displaced people were sheltering. At least 34 people were killed, including at least six children, according to an Associated Press reporter at the hospital who counted the bodies.
Footage from the scene of the strike showed women screaming from an upper floor of a house shattered to a concrete shell. In a field of wreckage below, men pulled the limp body of a child from under a concrete slab next to a burning car. At the nearby hospital, medics tried to resuscitate a young boy and girl, placed together bloodied and unmoving on a single stretcher.
Under US pressure to prevent further mass casualties in the conflict with Hamas, Israel says it is being more precise as it widens its offensive into southern Gaza. Weeks of bombardment and a ground offensive obliterated much of northern Gaza.
Israel’s assault since Oct. 7 has killed more than 15,890 people in Gaza — 70 percent of them women and children — with more than 42,000 wounded, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths. It says hundreds have been killed or wounded since a weeklong ceasefire ended Friday, and many still are trapped under rubble.