11-18-2017  5:10 pm      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

SEI, Sunshine Division Offer Thanksgiving Meals to Families in Need

Turkeys are being provided to fill 200 Thanksgiving food boxes for SEI families ...

NAACP Portland Monthly Meeting Nov. 18

Monthly general membership meeting takes place on Saturday, 12 - 2 p.m. ...

Multnomah County Animal Services Waives Adoption Fees Nov. 17

Special runs from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday ...

Fitzpatrick Presents 'Pathway 1000' Plan Before City Council

Plan would restore involuntary displacement by building 80 homes per year ...

Sisters Network to Hold Monthly Meeting Nov. 11

Meeting to take place Saturday morning at June Key Delta Center ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Local Author Visits North Portland Library

Renee Watson teaches students and educators about the power of writing ...

Is the FBI’s New Focus on “Black Identity Extremists” the New COINTELPRO?

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) talks about the FBI’s misguided report on “Black Identity Extremism” and negative Facebook ads. ...

ACA Enrollment Surging, Even Though It Ends Dec. 15

NNPA contributing writer Cash Michaels writes about enrollment efforts ...

Blacks Often Pay Higher Fees for Car Purchases than Whites

Charlene Crowell explains why Black consumers often pay higher fees than White consumers, because of “add-on” products. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Joe Sterling CNN


Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is accused of ordering human rights violations to crackdown
on protesters

 

Editor's note: Note graphic content.

(CNN) -- Syrian security forces, soldiers and pro-regime militias used sexual violence to torture people in detention and sexually abused women and girls as young as 12 in raids, a new report said Friday.

The Human Rights Watch report, based on interviews with victims of sexual abuse, tells of shocking accounts of rape, penetration with objects, sexual groping, prolonged forced nudity, and electroshock and beatings to genitalia.

"Syrian security forces have used sexual violence to humiliate and degrade detainees with complete impunity," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director of the human rights organization.

"The assaults are not limited to detention facilities -- government forces and pro-government shabiha militia members have also sexually assaulted women and girls during home raids and residential sweeps."

The details emerged, the report said, despite a stigma surrounding sexual violence and a reluctance to talk publicly because of fear and shame. It is the latest report of abuses in the turbulent country, in the throes of a 15-month-old nationwide uprising after the government launched a crackdown against protesters.

Male and female detainees -- many of whom were political activists or simply attended protests -- reported "sexual torture" at Military Intelligence Branch 248 and Branch 235 (known as "Palestine Branch") in Damascus; the military intelligence facilities in Jisr al-Shughur, Idlib, and Homs; the political security branch in Latakia; the air force intelligence branches in Mezze, Latakia, and Homs; and the Idlib Central Prison.

Using pseudonyms, Human Rights Watch recounted the victims' stories.

Khalil, who had been detained in Idlib province, described extensive torture over a three-day period.

"They forced me to undress. Then they started squeezing my fingers with pliers. They used a stapler to put nails in my fingers, chest, and ears. I was only allowed to take them out if I spoke. The nails in the ears were the most painful. They used two wires hooked up to a car battery to give me electric shocks. They used electric stun-guns on my genitals twice. I thought I would never see my family again."

Nour, detained at the "Palestine Branch," said she and three other women "were repeatedly raped."

"They would take turns with us. More than one man would rape you. It wasn't every day, but it was regular ... "

Amer, imprisoned in Latakia, said, "They undressed me, tied my hands behind my back, and hit me on my private parts."

Samih, a man detained in Latakia, described beatings and "rape for the boys."

"We would see them when the guards brought them back to the cell. It's indescribable. You can't talk about it. One boy came into the cell bleeding from behind. He couldn't walk. It was something they just did to the boys. We would cry for them."

Toufiq, a military defector, said a friend in his unit admitted to having participated in a gang rape of two women during a home raid in Homs. He said saw video on his friend's cell phone that confirmed the gang rape.

Suha said Shabiha members raped her 28-year-old neighbor in Homs province. Selma, also in Homs province, heard her neighbors being raped. Yousef said he watched soldiers from security forces rape his wife in Daraa.

Women in Syria and those who've fled to neighboring countries have had a tough time getting help. Emergency responders know about the abuse because they have worked with sexual abuse survivors.

A women's rights activist, called Leila, said Syrians have limited access to medical and psychological treatment and have worked to provide abortions and safe houses. She said her group worked to help two teenage girls raped by Shabiha members during a house raid.

Human Rights Watch lacks evidence that high-ranking officers commanded their troops to commit sexual violence during home searches, ground operations or in detention. But commanders in many of the cases "knew or should have known" about the crimes, the group said.

"Information received by Human Rights Watch, including from army and security force defectors, indicates that no action has been taken to investigate or punish government forces and shabiha who commit acts of sexual violence or to prevent them from committing such acts in the future," the report said.

"The international community urgently needs to address the human rights violations going on in Syria," Human Rights Watch's Whitson said. "The Security Council should send a strong signal to the Assad government that they will be held accountable for sexual violence and other human rights violations -- by referring the situation to the ICC," the International Criminal Court.

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