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A blog about human rights in their many forms.

Detained Washington Post reporter in Iran is being used as political pawn

Commentary: In Iran’s current political struggle, it is not just Jason Rezaian and wife Yeganeh Salehi but also the Iranian people who are victims.
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014. Iran may consider cooperating with the United States in fighting Sunni extremist fighters in Iraq if Washington acts against them, Rouhani told journalists. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

KABUL — It has now been more than a month since my friends, journalists Jason Rezaian and Yeganeh Salehi, were detained in Iran. No formal charges have been brought against them, and nobody knows where they are or who ordered the arrest.

What does seem clear, however, is that they were not arrested for anything they wrote or reported. Rather, the two seem to be used as pawns in a political struggle, of which not just they but also the Iranian people are victims.

Jason, an Iranian-American citizen, has been The Washington Post’s correspondent since 2012. Yeganeh, or Yegi to friends, has reported for various outlets, including the Emirati newspaper, The National and GlobalPost. Both were formally authorized to work as journalists. They were arrested in their Tehran apartment on July 22 by unidentified plainclothes officers who reportedly went to the effort of trashing the place while they were at it.


How can the US better protect girls from violence?

Recent international meetings gave status to policies eliminating female genital mutilation.
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LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Freida Pinto, actress and Plan International Girls' Rights Ambassador, delivers a speech at the 'Girl Summit 2014' in Walworth Academy on July 22, 2014 in London, England. At the one-day summit the government has announced that parents will face prosecution if they fail to prevent their daughters suffering female genital mutilation (FGM). (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Two critical recent events — one in the United Kingdom and one in the US — have given increasing recognition to the rights of adolescent girls.

The Girl Summit in London to end child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) was co-hosted by the UK and UNICEF. “Investing in the Next Generation” was a focus of discussions among more than 40 African heads of state that came to Washington for the first-ever US-Africa Leaders Summit.


Confessions of a 'pro-Palestinian' Israeli diplomat

Commentary: In war with Hamas, Palestinians and Israelis share similar aspirations for peace and normalcy.
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Two Palestinian boys walk amid the rubble of destroyed homes in Shejaiya on August 27, 2014. Shejaiya is one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in fighting between Hamas militants and Israel during 50 days of fighting. Israel and Palestinians both boasted of victory in the Gaza war but analysts say Hamas received only promises while the conflict aggravated divisions in the Israeli leadership. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — I admit it. I find myself in unfamiliar territory. Twenty-five years in the Israeli Foreign Service, during which I spent much of my time countering terrorism and its supporters, didn't prepare me for this. In our fight against Hamas, I am pro-Palestinian.  


As a human being, an Israeli and a Jew, I cannot ignore the suffering that Gazans — like their Muslim, Christian and Jewish Israeli neighbors across the border — have undergone during two months of fighting. It's truly painful to see.


Muslim majority must stand up against Islamic extremists

Arab intellectuals and moderate Muslims need to condemn Muslims who kill other Muslims.
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Iraqi Shiite volunteers from the University of Basra that have joined government forces to fight Sunni jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) take part in a graduation ceremony in the southern port city of Basra on August 23, 2014. Jihadist-led militants launched a major offensive in June, overrunning large areas of five provinces and sweeping security forces aside. (HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI /AFP/Getty Images)

KABUL, Afghanistan — As the flames of war burn terrible scars into Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Syria and beyond, a viable path to peace presents itself. It has little to do with the US military or President Obama.

The solution lies in the Arab world itself.


Traveling with a coyote: Brothers journey 4,000 miles to reunite with undocumented parents in US

Economic limitations in El Salvador pushed Jose and Ester to leave their boys behind. But violence back home convinced them to pay a coyote to smuggle Kevin and Jose Jr. north.
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This location along the Suchiate River, on the border between Mexico and Guatemala, is known as 'El Paso del Coyote' or 'Coyote's Pass.' This is where thousands of Central American migrants cross into Mexico each year with the help of human smugglers. (Jennifer Collins/GlobalPost)

MEXICO CITY – Only the most desperate parents put their children in the hands of a human smuggler for a journey to the United States that can put them face-to-face with kidnappers and end in arrest, detainment or worse.


World Humanitarian Day: Remembering brave people and invisible victims

When almost a billion people go to bed hungry every night, being a humanitarian is not a choice, says Unni Krishnan, head of disaster preparedness and response for Plan International.
A South Sudanese child receives a dose of vitamin A given by Medecins Sans Frontieres in an isolated makeshift IDP camp for Dinka ethnic group placed in an island between Bor and Minkamman, South Sudan, on March 5, 2014. (JM Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)

On World Humanitarian Day, I am reminded that close to a billion people go to bed hungry every night, making humanitarian work crucial.

Consider this – 24 hours from when you are reading this piece, approximately 24,000 more children will have died worldwide from preventable diseases. This is an everyday reality, but these deaths can be stopped with access to clean water, health care, immunisation, safety and education. 

When I am asked what inspired me to get involved in humanitarian work, I ask myself if there is any choice when faced with this reality. 


Undocumented Central American minors not getting due process in US immigration cases

More than two-thirds of minors appearing in US immigration courts, most escaping violence in Central America, are not represented by an attorney.
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Undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas. Tens of thousands of immigrants, many of them minors, have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing a humanitarian crisis on the US-Mexico border. (John Moore/AFP/Getty Images)

In the United States, thousands of immigrants – many of them underage, mentally ill or otherwise vulnerable – risk deportation as they face the court system without legal counsel.


Inside Bangladesh's garment industry, second largest in the world

The Tuba Group hunger strike is the latest worker pushback against an industry under repair.

Editor's Note: This is the second piece in a three-part series that goes inside Bangladesh's garment industry to explore how the Rana Plaza collapse served as a wake-up call to an entire global supply chain and how Bangladesh is working furiously to reform itself before another tragedy strikes. Read Part One here.


US lawyers say movement to protect the unborn increasingly hurts mothers

At the American Bar Association's annual meeting, legal scholars said US women are losing rights as unborn children gain them.
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Lawyers Michele Goodwin (left), Farah Diaz-Tello and Brigitte Amiri discuss the implications of the Hobby Lobby decision and other legislation limiting women's rights at a panel during the American Bar Association annual meeting. The talk was held Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. (Jessica Mendoza/GlobalPost)

BOSTON – The legal battle over reproduction is increasingly focused on unborn children while criminalizing mothers, said to a panel of lawyers and women’s rights advocates who spoke at the American Bar Association’s (ABA) annual meeting Saturday.

“Women’s medical rights [are] treated as though they don’t exist at all,” said Farah Diaz-Tello, staff attorney for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and one of the panel’s three speakers.


Duplicity’s Child: How British promises sowed the seeds of today’s Israel-Palestine bloodshed

Gaza and Jerusalem were promised to both the Arabs and the Jews. They're still fighting nearly a century later.
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Israeli soldiers stand in front of a banner with a copy of a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (a leader of the British Jewish community) known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917, as Palestinians, Israeli and foreign protesters demonstrate near the Karmi Tsor Jewish settlement not far from the Palestinian village of Beit Omar in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on November 6, 2010. (Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)

In October 1917, British forces finally drove the Ottoman army from Gaza, in recent weeks the site of Israeli-Palestinian fighting but then a dusty garrison town that had stubbornly held out against British attacks.