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April 2017
Editor-in-Chief: Nicola Giovannini
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 Highlights

Bahrain: NPWJ strongly condemns widespread reprisals against dissenting voices ahead of UPR
 

On 23 April 2017, a group of thirty leading Bahraini human rights activists have been summoned for interrogation by the Public Prosecution just a few days ahead of Bahrain's Universal Periodic Review in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Council to be convened in May. The group includes former Secretary General of Waad Ibrahim Sharif, his wife Fareeda Ghulam, Sayed Hadi Almosawi the head of the human rights section of Al Wefaq, as well as many other well-known prominent figures. The individuals were subsequently charged with illegal assembly, relating to the ongoing protests in Diraz, and informed of travel ban orders issued against them. 
 
No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) firmly condemns the alarming decision by the Bahraini authorities to target prominent human rights activists ahead of the coming session of the Human Rights Council, in an attempt to intimidate and prevent them from traveling to Geneva and advocating at an international level. We urge the international community, and the European Union (EU) in particular, to react strongly and as a matter of urgency to this latest blow to freedom of expression in Bahrain with the seriousness it warrants.
 
Yesterday’s ruling is yet another clear example of the Bahraini authorities’ unabated determination to criminalise free speech and suppress any nonviolent quest for meaningful democratic reform, rule of law and respect of human rights in the country. Since the 2011 pro-democracy movement and despite the Bahraini regime’s claims to advance reform, the crackdown against any peaceful and dissenting opposition voices in the country has kept on worsening.
 
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NPWJ welcomes and supports the creation of the Italian network of human rights defenders “In Difesa Di"
 

The " In Difesa Di – per i diritti umani e chi li difende" network is a coalition of over 30 Italian organizations and associations (including No Peace Without Justice) which are active on issues such as the promotion of human rights, environment, international solidarity, peace and disarmament, workers' rights, freedom of the press and the rule of law.
 
The network aims to unite the strengths and competences of these organizations to open up an area of ​​reflection and action in Italy on the issue of human rights defenders and to call on the Government, the Parliament and local authorities to engage for their protection. In addition to pressure on political decision-makers, the network works on specific countries and cases, raising public awareness and mobilizing its adherents and other realities of Italian and international civil society. The network has already achieved significant results: in November 2016, the Italian Parliament hosted an international conference with human rights advocates from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, India and Mauritania, and on 31 January 2017, its Foreign Affairs Committee approved a resolution urging the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to strengthen their commitment to protecting human rights defenders.

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Why world leaders shouldn't play the money card in Syria
 

On the morning of April 4, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government carried out a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held province of Idlib. At least 70 residents were killed and hundreds more were injured as the chemical, almost certainly sarin, left its victims writhing in agony and gasping for air.
 
Also on April 4, world leaders gathered in Brussels for the second day of an annual conference on Syria, now in its fifth year and convened by the European Union, where scores of countries pledge billions in relief for victims of the Syrian conflict.
Previously, the pledges made at the donor conference were earmarked almost exclusively for humanitarian aid. This year, however, for the first time, the topic of reconstruction was on the agenda. Reconstruction assistance is distinct from humanitarian aid in that it would be funneled toward efforts to stabilize Syria — toward rebuilding infrastructure and economic development, for instance. It is also distinct in that it would mean dealing directly with Assad.
 
Although discussions at the donor conference are loose — each country is free to spend its funds as it chooses, and nothing agreed to at the meeting is binding — the shift in debate toward reconstruction, seemingly subtle, has profound implications.
The official position held thus far by most of the E.U. donor countries is that no reconstruction assistance should be offered until a genuine political transition is under way. The prospect of reconstruction assistance now, before any meaningful progress has been made, signals that the international community is preparing a new strategy in a bid to resolve the conflict in Syria: the so-called money card.
 
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Steven Joe Dixon is the Syria program officer and Rami Nakhla is the Syria project coordinator at No Peace Without Justice.

 NPWJ events

Syria: Advocacy events on “Solidarity with Syrian Civil Society and Social Movements”
 

On Thursday 30 and Friday 31 March 2017, No Peace Without Justice, in partnership with Un Ponte Per, is organised a series of advocacy events in Rome for Syrian civil society activists and human rights defenders, connected to various communities inside Syria. The purpose of these events was to advocate for stronger support for Syrian civil society by Italian institutions both in terms of international cooperation and in terms of Italian political engagement in international fora which tackle Syria, such as the ongoing Geneva negotiations and the EU Summit on Syria, scheduled on 5 April in Brussels.
 
To date, peace talks, irrespective of who is leading them, have not produced tangible results for the Syrian people. Most citizens in Europe do not understand the conflict lines, seeing Syrians either as victims making up the ever-increasing tragic body counts and refugees, or as combatants, soldiers, terrorists. Italian institutions dedicate resources to humanitarian aid but have not yet produced a plan to go beyond emergency programs. Against this backdrop, Syrian civil society is trying to act as a counterbalance to traditional political, military and economic circles of formal and informal Syrian powers and promote a longer-term vision for resolving the conflict in Syria by prioritising human rights issues in peace negotiations, while simultaneously avoiding being dragged into the ongoing armed and geopolitical confrontations.
 
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 NPWJ on Radio Radicale

Stay tuned with No Peace Without Justice
 

No Peace Without Justice and Radio Radicale, the foremost Italian nationwide all-news radio, have an ongoing partnership to provide news and information on our activities to a broad Italian audience. This partnership features an in-depth weekly program on NPWJ’s current campaigns and activities. The program is broadcast in Italian every Wednesday evening at 23.30.

Listen to the last episodes

 NPWJ press releases

Bahrain: NPWJ strongly condemns widespread reprisals against dissenting voices ahead of UPR
Brussels, 24 April 2017

NPWJ welcomes and supports the creation of the Italian network of human rights defenders “In Difesa Di"
15 April 2017

Why world leaders shouldn't play the money card in Syria
Op-Ed By Steven Dixon and Rami Nakhla*, Los Angeles Times, 14 April 2017

Syria: Conference urged not to trade sustainable solutions for short-term gain, ensure a focus on accountability
Gianluca Eramo*, Brussels, 5 April 2017

Syria: Advocacy events on “Solidarity with Syrian Civil Society and Social Movements”
Rome, 30-31 March 2017

Philippines: UN side session on “Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War”
UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Vienna, 16 March 2017

 NPWJ in the news


 

Se in Siria non si persegue la via della giustizia non ci sarà più pace né ricostruzione
Marco Perduca e Gianluca Eramo, Huffington Post, 6 April 2017

Armi chimiche, stragi di Idlib, Siria
Radio Radicale, 5 April 2017

Siria. Le voci della società civile
Spazio Transnazionale, Radio Radicale, 4 April 2017

Siria: si lavora per la democrazia. Gruppo attivisti a Roma per incontrare istituzioni italiane
Radio In Blu, 30 March 2017

Group says Duterte, not Robredo, upsetting int‘l community
By DJ Yap, Inquirer, 29 March 2017

Filippine, liberiamo Leila de Lima
Marco Perduca, 15 March 2017

Tutto il mondo contro Duterte: pioggia di critiche sulla guerra alla droga
di Andrea Spinelli Barrile, International Business Times, 13 March 2017

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