The Syrian army accused of using civilians as human shields. Public outrage over a rape victim suicide in Morocco. And Herman Cain has released a somewhat bizarre video criticizing Washington’s tax code.
Syrian army accused of using civilians as human shields
A group of men in civilian clothing march in front of armed troops and their armored vehicle. This scene was reportedly caught on camera in the region of Idlib in Northwestern Syria on the 23rd February, when government forces launched an assault to regain control of the opposition hotbed.
The footage backs up a report released on Sunday by NGO Human Rights Watch. A report which claims the Syrian army is using civilians as human shields during military operations against rebels or during arrests and searches. The report cites eye witness accounts which claim forces loyal to the Damascus regime are using women, children and the elderly to protect themselves from attacks by the Free Syrian Army.
The accounts are difficult to verify but the amateur footage circulating online does seem to suggest the Syrian military has indeed employed this tactic. The person who posted this video online says it was filmed on the 2nd of February in the suburbs of Damascus, and shows loyalists troops forcing prisoners to protect a tank.
Human Rights Watch describes these practices as odious, and says it should give the UN Security Council all the more reason to try Syrian leaders before the International Criminal Court.
Moroccan web users outraged over suicide of Amina Filali
Morocco’s online community is outraged over the suicide of Amina Filali, a 16 year old Moroccan girl who killed herself on the 10th of March after being forced to marry her rapist. Women’s rights groups and web users have been paying tribute to her and there has been widespread campaigning calling for a change in article 475 of the country’s constitution which makes rape legal if rapists marry their underage victims.
A Facebook group called « We are all Amina Filali » was set up shortly after the teenager’s death. Thousands of people have joined the group, on which they can pay their respects, and view photos of the rallies which have taken place in recent days to denounce violence against women in Morocco.
A petition has been started on the site Avaaz.org urging the authorities to repeal article 475 of the criminal code and adopt immediate measures to protect women in Morocco. Their demands have been widely echoed both on the local web and abroad: over 670 000 web users have already signed the document in the hope this will prevent similar tragedies in the future.
And as law makers consider a possible modification of the controversial law, the affair has brought the subject of rape out into the open. Numerous Moroccan women have come forward, saying they too have been raped. In this text, a blogger gives a poignant account of her ordeal and ask women in the kingdom to break their silence, saying these violent acts against them can never be justified.
Now trending on social networks
The fight against rape is also the theme of the Twitter campaign « I did not report ». It was started by a London based blogger, and the cause has since been taken up by French group “Femme en résistance”. Feelings of shame, the fear no-one will believe you, or reluctance to report acquaintance rape, victims are asked to explain why they said nothing about their attack. The aim is to break the silence and also reach out to the police and justice system which have both been accused of not taking rape allegations seriously enough.
Visit the Amazon on Google Earth
With Google Earth, you can now visit the Amazon from the comfort of your own home. You can take a virtual boat ride down the Rio Negro, one of the tributaries of the Amazon basin, or stroll through the regions lush forests. The project was put together in partnership with a Brazilian NGO that works on raising global awareness of the Amazon, so that people understand it is not just an area of outstanding natural beauty but also home to many and everything must be done to protect it.
Video of the day
Former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination Herman Cain has released this rather odd video clip online to promote his website sickofstimulus.com. A rabbit is catapulted into the air and shot. The rabbit is meant to symbolize small businesses and the aim of this bizarre clip and somewhat weird metaphor is to denounce the current tax code in place in the USA.