Saturday, November 29, 2008

Other Items

Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres began a three-day stay in Iraq that ended Thursday. Gutteres was in the country to address the issue of the internally displaced refugees (over to two million people). Wednesday he would explain that "We are now expanding our presence inside Iraq. We will have prescence in 14 governorates by early next year, including Ramadi." Thursday would find him meeting with the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani in Najaf to discuss the UNHCR's increase presence in Iraq and how they intended to increase thier current budget as they increased their number of offices (from ten to fourteen).

Today Reuters reports an attack in the Green Zone near the UN headquarters which accounted for the deaths of two people (according to the UN which also states that they were not UN employees -- three people is the count offered by others with fifteen more people wounded in the bombing). Al Jazeera states it was a rocket attack on that it was on the UN headquarters: "A UN official said several of the injured in the rocket attack on the organisation's compound are in serious condition and that the death toll might rise." BBC echoes Al Jazeera: "Two foreign contractors working for the UN have been killed and 15 wounded in a rocket attack on Baghdad's high-security Green Zone, the UN says. "

On the topic of the UN, a friend (with the UN) steers to a press release I missed in real time. The UN issued this November 25th (in PDF form):

"Violence against Iraqi women continues unabated", says UN expert
GENEVA – "Iraqi women have seen their rights eroded in all areas of life while the world observes from afar," warns the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Yakin Ertürk, on the International Day on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November).
"The ongoing conflict, high levels of insecurity, widespread impunity, collapsing economic conditions and rising social conservatism are impacting directly on the daily lives of Iraqi women and placing them under increased vulnerability to all forms of violence within and outside their home", says Ms. Ertürk.
Although too often overlooked, "violence against Iraqi women is committed by numerous actors, such as militia groups, insurgents, Islamic extremists, law enforcement personnel, members of the family as well as the community", laments the UN Special Rapporteur.
Women are victims of rape, sex trafficking, forced and early marriages, murder, and abduction for sectarian or criminal reasons; many are driven or forced into prostitution. Women also fall victims to the disproportionate use of force by members of Iraqi and multi-national forces (MNFI), including during raids on private homes. To escape the cycle of violence many women turn to suicide, sending a clear message of despair to their society.
"I am also concerned by the increased violence within the family", says Ms. Ertürk. The so-called 'honour killings' appear to be on the rise and are largely committed with impunity. On the rare occasions where perpetrators are arrested and charged, they are given lenient punishments under the Iraqi Penal Code. As a result, women and girls are reluctant to even report sexual attacks for fear of then being ostracized or even killed by their family.
'Honour killings' are among the primary causes of unnatural deaths among women in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, and a number of reports are also documenting the practice of female genital mutilation. Medical personnel operating in Iraqi Kurdistan and women's rights activists report that incidents of self-immolation are on the increase, with at least one case reported daily and many more remaining either unreported or concealed as accidents.
Iraq, as a State Party to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, must protect women from violations by State agents and private actors, whether they are family members or armed groups. The Security Council, in its Resolution 1820 further demands that all parties to an armed conflict cease all acts of sexual violence against civilians, especially women and children.
"I urge the Iraqi government and the international community to prevent women and girls from being the 'soft targets' of violence and the invisible victims of the conflict in Iraq.", concluded the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Ms. Yakin Ertürk.

As Holly Near sings, "The war against women marches on, beware of the fairy tale." On a semi-related topic, Nancy Benac (AP) reviews the sexist attacks against Hillary during the primaries, the woman now mentioned as potential Secretary of State:

Last spring, though, Clinton was targeted with a steady stream of criticism via conference call, e-mail and campaign-trail digs from the Obama camp, all aimed at shredding her self-portrait as an experienced and confident leader on the international stage. Some of those doing the sniping will be taking up key positions -- most likely along with Clinton -- in the new Obama administration.
Greg Craig, selected to serve as White House counsel in the Obama administration, delivered a withering attack during the primaries on Clinton's claims that she could rightfully share in the credit for some of the foreign policy successes of her husband's presidency.
"She did not sit in on any National Security Council meetings when she was first lady," Craig insisted in one conference call. He went on to knock down Clinton's claims to influence in the Northern Ireland peace process, opening borders for refugees during the war in Kosovo, and making a dangerous visit to Bosnia.
"There is no reason to believe ... that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton administration," Craig wrote in a campaign memo.
Susan Rice, an Obama adviser who could land a spot in the new administration, mocked the idea that Clinton could lay claim to foreign policy credentials by marriage.

The following community sites have updated since Friday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;
and Stan's Oh Boy It Never Ends

Kat reviewed Labelle's Back to Now here yesterday and her latest CD review goes up after this.


thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends