Al Qaeda in Yemen:
Amnesty International has filed a new report, entitled “Conflict in Yemen: Abyan’s Darkest Hour.”
This report documents the rise of human rights violations in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. This began at the same time as the Arab Spring as demonstrations, spurned on by economic inequality and accusations of corruption, and has since degraded into what Amnesty International is reporting on now. Al Qaeda is known for seizing upon opportunities like this to infiltrate nations in disarray, as they have done in Sudan and Afghanistan, and affiliated with a group of armed, anti-government forces known as Ansar al-Shari’a. The result is the same. While the general population seeks basic civil rights, they are also forced to survive the fight between government authoritarians and radical insurrectionists. Of course, this conflict is far more complicated than this, but for the sake of this article, we shall focus on the situation in Abyan as it relates to human rights.
While the Islamists only controlled a main city of Ja’ar for 14 months, they left a lasting impression. Civilians who faced execution and amputation were accused of everything from Spying to Sorcery (and yes, that is still a thing).
Here is one account from the report:
“They accused me of stealing… They beat me hard repeatedly… after five days, they gave me an injection, and I slept… when I woke up, my hand was not there.”
This was from a youth whose hand was amputated by Ansar al-Shari’a in Ja’ar.
Crucifixion has also made a comeback, along with severe restrictions on women’s and educational rights. This has not excused the behavior of the government forces either, and I would not claim that it would. But what this report does illustrate the very real danger that Al-Qaeda, and all of their regional counterparts, represent. The danger that this group represents to humanity does not discontinue when we no longer see it in the news. If you have only ever learned about al-Qaeda through US media, then I strongly encourage you to read the report from Amnesty International.
Another Good Chance for America to Lead by Example Which we will Fail:
In national news, things are far less violent yet still ridiculously sad. Last week I briefly touched upon two certain American political conservatives who opposed the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). I would like to stress again that this treaty was preceded by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law by conservative president George H.W. Bush, and was the inspiration for this United Nations treaty. This treaty would basically say that the rest of the world should catch up to the standards of the United States. Unfortunately, just as in Yemen, the only argument against modernity is a right wing argument based in certain religious ideas that do not, and have not ever been, used to create an equal and open society. I know these articles can be a bit harsh on the heart and the mind, but with the “fiscal cliff” looming, I would like to take a moment to say that our economy is not the only thing that makes a difference in our world. On a brighter note, both Alaska Senators Murkowski and Begich voted for ratification.