Community religious leaders must condemn ISIL atrocities – UN rights official

By on October 2, 2019

“ISIL and associated armed groups have perpetrated widespread and systematic violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, which in some instances may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Mr. Šimonović said in a statement released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as he wrapped up his visit to the region by meeting the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan region Government. Mr. Šimonović said Takfiri groups, or so-called ISIL, are terrorizing the local population, imposing on them brutal measures based on their “extremely radical and wrongful interpretation of Islam,” particularly members of religious and ethnic minorities including Christians, Kaka’ee, Shabaks, Turkmen, Sabaean Mendeans, Yezidis and others.“Among countless victims, I met with a 12-year-old girl who escaped sexual slavery, a father whose four sons were murdered because they refused to convert to Islam, and a boy who survived a mass execution – including of his father and brothers – despite being hit by six bullets,” the envoy recalled of his trip. ISIL leaves Yezidis “no option except to convert or die,” he said, adding that the militant’s actions toward Yezidi peoples may amount to an “attempt to commit genocide.”Well-resourced, armed and trained, and even supported by some local groups, ISIL continues to brutally violate the local population “with the aim of suppressing, expelling or destroying targeted ethnic and religious communities.” And these “brutal tactics” are causing divisions between those communities to deepen, Mr. Šimonović said. “Community leaders, elders, as well as religious authorities, must raise their voices and condemn violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and demand the care and protection of the victims, no matter their ethnic, religious or other affiliations,” he added. While the new Iraqi Government seems well-intentioned, it needs broad local and international support to put an end to the atrocities and overcome attempts to divide society. During his visit, Mr. Šimonović met with Iraq’s Minister for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed Madhi Ameen Al-Bayati, Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Dr. Salim al-Jabouri, and the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Mr. Nechirvan Barzani. The Assistant Secretary-General also discussed with Government and civil society representatives ways to address some of the chronic human rights challenges, including corruption, problems with the administration of the criminal justice system, and the rights of women.Meeting with Government officials, Mr. Šimonović, argued for Iraq’s accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the immediate acceptance of its ad-hoc jurisdiction for crimes that have been committed during the ongoing conflict. Legislative changes that make war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide punishable under the criminal laws of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region would send a clear message of the commitment to bring perpetrators of those crimes to justice. Mr. Šimonović and other members of the OHCHR delegation also visited five camps for displaced persons in the Dohuk and Erbil provinces of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. According to OHCHR, two million civilians have been displaced by the current conflict within Iraq, and nearly one million of them are displaced in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. It is absolutely critical for Iraq’s Central Government, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the international community to effectively coordinate to help all these people prepare for the brutal and approaching winter months. “Winter is not yet here, but I have already seen tents that have collapsed from the rain, despite all night efforts of the families living in them,” Mr. Šimonović said. “If additional measures are not immediately introduced, and especially if there is a new wave of displacement, those belonging to vulnerable groups, such as children, aged people, people with disabilities and those in need of medical assistance will be at risk.” read more

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Our Planet producer recalls most terrifying moment of career after buggy fell

By on September 25, 2019

He added: “I remember jumping out on the ice, turning around seeing the two guys in the front trying to kick their door open because that of course was now slightly under the ice.”  Our Planet has impressed audiences with its cinematic shots but now Alastair Fothergill, who alongside Keith Scholey produced the series, has revealed it almost cost him his life. Whilst filming for the Netflix series, Fothergill went on location to the Arctic to capture polar bears when the vehicle he was filming in fell through the ice. Lugging heavy equipment required careful planning whilst navigating the terrain of the fragile ice sheets, said Fothergill, who had to consider the weight of himself, the cameraman and the driver. “We worked out the total weight and we worked out a certain thickness of ice that we would need to make sure that that weight would be supported.” The team used drills to map out the depth of the ice inputting it into their GPS system. “After a while we thought we knew pretty well where the thin and thick ice was but we made a mistake.” Fothergill described the harrowing moment at the Hay Festival: “What had happened was the front two tracks of a four track vehicle went through the ice. “The back side of the vehicle where I was, was raised a bit and I could get my door open and I jumped up onto the ice.”  Kids riding bikes at about -25C In the second episode of the new series Our Planet, Luckily, the two managed to break free and make their escape onto the safety of the ice. “Literally as they came onto the ice the vehicle went through and we never saw it again.” He added: “I have to say it was the most frightening moment of my career as a filmmaker.” With just his Billingham bag that held his passport floating to the surface the team were then marooned with “a male polar bear who was thinking there comes lunch.” A satellite phone also survived the wreckage, enabling them to contact the night team, who quickly came to their rescue. The Silverback Films production, narrated by David Attenborough, was shot in top quality 4k and took a total of four years to make, with 600 crew members filming in 50 countries.  Kids riding bikes at about -25C In the second episode of the new series Our Planet, Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

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