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Macedonian Activist Ends Hunger Strike for Migrant Rights

On Saturday, June 20, human rights expert and activist Suad Missini ended the hunger strike he started six days prior in protest of inhumane treatment of migrants passing through Macedonia. Mr. Missini issued the following statement [links added]:

While the effects of the changes of the Asylum Law are yet to be seen in practice, the conditions in the migrant center in Gazi Baba has not been improved. The refugees are still kept in the center which gains characteristics of a concentration camp, under impossible, inhuman and degrading conditions, out of the legal framework and international human rights standards which are part of the national legal system.

Authorities in Republic of Macedonia chose to remain deaf to the demands for solving of this problem by numerous international organizations and institutions. They act blind to the fact that the UN Committee Against Torture characterized the treatment of refugees in this center as torture and breach of the UN Convention Against Torture in its latest report. And all this while our country is a member of the UN Human Rights Council.

On the other hand, I'd like to stress that Macedonia, as member of Council of Europe (CoE), received a visit by the CoE Committee for Prevention of Torture, which included a visit to Gazi Baba center. This summer, the president of this committee Mikola Gnatovskij visited Macedonia and also talked to the authorities about this center, among other things. I emphasize that Macedonian authorities have still not issued approval for the report of this visit to be published.

Finally, two days before the start of the hunger strike, the Ombudsman of Republic of Macedonia presented the catastrophic situation and lawlessness that rule in this center.

Today, we can acknowledge that the public in Republic of Macedonia, as well as the international public and foreign media and organizations, are fully aware and informed about the problem with this center. These days, Gazi Baba center is an international topic. If the government decided that this catastrophic problem should not be a subject of immediate reaction and subsequent solution, then this definitely puts our country among those which openly and unscrupulously conduct torture, while the authorities are legitimized as institutions lead by persons which have no respect for human lives. The lives of hundreds of people detained within this center. And finally, about my life.

Therefore, on this day I end the hunger strike. Because the limits of health risks are already surpassed, and because the potentials of this strike are fulfilled.

My demands, which are demands by an enormous part of the public in Republic of Macedonia, are partially fulfilled.

My civic act was a drop which made waves, which, I sincerely hope, together with all the other efforts, will lead to solving of this problem which turns our country into an uncivilized space.

I am immensely grateful to the thousands who sincerely and unambiguously expressed their support, making this civil act as much theirs, as it was mine.

Meanwhile, Twitter users continue sharing leaked photos showing the conditions of detained refugees.

Question Time: How Many Jihadists Have Military Backgrounds?

Taking the cue from a Der Spiegel report on the mastermind behind the structure of ISIS, Palestinian blogger Iyad El-Baghdadi tweets:

Der Spiegel names Iraqi Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, killed in Tal Rifaat in Syria in January 2014, as the “architect” of the ISIS, an Al Qaeda off-shoot which has come to control larges swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, leaving terror, death and destruction in its trail. It says al-Khlifawi was a former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein's air defense force.

El-Baghdadi adds:

And explains:


Turn On Fact-Checking:

Help us track and verify stories on the number of ISIS top command with military backgrounds in our Global Voices/Checkdesk partnership project here.

ISIS Burning US Food Aid for Syria

Turkish journalist Mete Sohtaoğlu, who is based in Istanbul, reports that ISIS is burning US food aid destined for Syria “because it is not halal” – or Islamically permitted or lawful.

He tweets the following photographs to back up his report:

The Difference Between ISIS and Al Nusra Front

Satirist Karl Sharro draws a stark comparison between two Al Qaeda offshoots fighting each other in Syria: the notorious ISIS and the Nusra front. He tweets:

Both terrorist organisations use the Islamic prayer “There is no God other than Allah and Muhammad is Allah's prophet” in a different font on their flags.

Mexican Cartoonist Compares James Foley's Execution with Presidential Interview

Flowers laid for American journalist James Foley - Arlington

Flowers laid for American journalist James Foley, Arlington Cemetery. Photo by Cynthia Rucker. Copyright Demotix (20 August 2014).

On August 21, Mexican cartoonist Francisco Calderón raised controversy after publishing on his daily cartoon section on Grupo Reforma, an image depicting president Enrique Peña Nieto wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling down in front of a masked executioner. The image is a clear reference to the brutal murder of reporter James Foley in Syria, on August 19, by the jihadist group Islamic State that was later published on video as a warning to the United States.

Thursday August 21, 2014 THE INTERVIEW THE ALL THE TERNURITAS WOULD'VE LOVED.

The title of the cartoon plays with the idea that an execution like the suffered by Foley would have been the kind of “interview” the “ternuritas” (cuties) would've loved. Ternurita is the name some people use for Peña Nieto government opponents.

Some Twitter users reacted to the cartoon:

Your cartoon is a total disrespect to the life of James Foley. Let's hope it's just your ignorance.

Because being firm when questioning is the same thing that beheading. Right, right winger cartoonist?

It's a shame that Francisco Calderon makes a cartoon with a beheading. Will he make one about dead children in Gaza?

Only Mexico can gather the necessary dose of insensitivity and numbskullness to make fun of James Foley's death.

Human Rights Activist Begins Hunger Strike for Migrants in Front of Macedonian Parliament

The growing migration crisis has recently also affected countries in southeastern Europe, with new issues arising almost daily. Reacting to the inhumane treatment of migrants who pass through Republic of Macedonia, renowned human rights activist Suad Missini started a hunger strike in front of the Parliament building in Skopje. He began the strike immediately after publishing his three demands in a Facebook post on Sunday, June 14, which garnered almost 300 likes and over 90 shares in just the first day.

I am just starting a hunger strike.
In front of the Parliament.

I demand urgently and immediately:

  1. Urgent adoption of the changes of the Asylum law, that would enable safe transit or temporary stay of refugees passing through the Macedonian territory, as well as free use of all publicly available means of transport.
  2. Concrete and publicly announced measures by the Ministry of Interior in view to safeguard the life, security and possessions of refugees passing through Macedonia.
  3. Immediate liberation of all refugees and migrants detained in the Gazi Baba center and its immediate closure.

The strike will not end unless these demands are fulfilled.

Suad Missini

Thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and other war zones pass through Macedonia, traveling from Greece towards Serbia on a path to try to reach Germany or other well-off EU countries. The migrants used to follow the railway tracks on foot, suffering horrific “accidents.” Lately the migrants buy bicycles, reportedly at inflated prices, in southern Macedonian towns and cycle on the main highway. Many of them fall victim to human trafficking rings and gangs of robbers. Some of the refugees are held as “witnesses” in the Reception Center for Foreigners “Gazi Baba” in Skopje in what Macedonian Ombudsman Idzhet Memeti has called “inhuman, unhealthy, and undignified” conditions.

The Government is supposed to discuss the amendments to the  Asylum Law on June 16.

Are ISIS Fighters in Rakka Infested with Skin Disease Leishmaniasis?

News is spreading that ISIS fighters in the Syrian town of Rakka have been hit by a skin condition caused by a parasite known as Leishmaniasis.

According to the World Health Organisation, the disease is “caused by the protozoan Leishmania parasites which are transmitted by the bite of infected sandflies.The disease affects some of the poorest people on the planet, and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and lack of resources.” Newspaper accounts describe it as a “deadly flesh eating disease.”

Thalia Rahme is looking for leads to verify the story at Global Voices Checkdesk, a partnership project with Meedan.

Checkdesk is a liveblogging tool for journalists, with built-in tools to allow citizen journalists and staff journalists alike to make and verify reports. Anyone from the newsroom community can submit a report — a Tweet, a photo, video or other type of media — and add details that bring important context to the report. Staff journalists can then add these reports to a developing story.

To join Thalia's team, send her an email from her Global Voices Online page.

Photo of Peshmerga Combatant Breastfeeding Her Child Captivates Kurdish Media

Shared widely online. Photograph by Veronique de Viguerie, September 6, 2014. Veroniquedeviguerie.com.

Kurdish media outlets are abuzz with a photograph of a Peshmerga woman, sitting beside an automatic weapon, breastfeeding her child. The picture has been widely distributed on social networking sites, highlighting the strength of Kurdish women and the resilience of female combatants in the ongoing fight against ISIS.

In contrast to the contentiousness of breastfeeding in many Western countries (most recently in the United Kingdom), Kurdish media outlets have largely welcomed this Peshmerga woman breastfeeding her child, celebrating how the photograph captures her dual roles as a “warrior” and a “nurturer”.

Kurdish Internet users have also praised the Peshmerga woman, whose identity remains unknown. Kemal Taher from Erbil remarked, “I don’t know what to say about this lioness of Kurdistan, wishing them success on the battlefield, May God protect you all”. Shakar Sndy from Sulaymaniyah said, “An example that we’re proud of”.

Internet users have circulated photographer Veronique de Viguerie's image widely online, typically without attribution. Using Google's reverse image search, Global Voices learned that the photo is de Viguerie's work. (Note added by Kevin Rothrock.)

Iranians protest in solidarity with Kobane

Iranians held several protest rallies in different cities including Tehran,Tabriz and Mehabad to support Kobane‘s people on Tuesday.Fighting continues to rage in the Syria-Turkey border town of Kobane

Video: Distributing Food in Yarmouk Camp-Syria

FAJER PRESS posted a video of the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus while receiving food parcels to feed the 18,000 remaining residents of the camp, who have been forced to eat stray animals to survive amid critical food shortages.

The video is dated December 30, 2013.

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