Islamic State jihadists

Abusive policies by the Syrian and Iraq governments have fueled the rise of militant Islamic State group that controls considerable swathes of the two countries, Human Rights Watch (HRW)said on Thursday.Islamic State jihadists

“The sectarian policies of the Iraqi and Syrian governments, and international indifference to those governments’ serious rights abuses, have been important factors to the rise of extremist groups like the jihadist Islamic State group,” the New York-based watchdog said in its annual report on the global rights scene.

HRW warned that if the conditions that led to the rise of Islamic State “are left to fester”, the radical militia could deepen its hold on the two countries and expand into Lebanon, Jordan, Libya, and beyond.

The 656-page World Report 2015, launched in Beirut, reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries.

The report said Islamic State’s rise is among the global challenges that have sparked a subordination of human rights.

“But ISIS did not emerge out of nowhere,” the report said, using an acronym for the jihadist militia.

“In addition to the security vacuum left by the [2003] US invasion of Iraq, the sectarian and abusive policies of the Iraqi and Syrian governments and international indifference to them, have been important factors in fueling ISIS.”

It said in Iraq, Islamic State owes much of its emergence to the abusive sectarian rule of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the resulting radicalization of the country’s minority Sunni community.

“With Iranian backing, Maliki took personal control of Iraqi security forces and supported the formation of Shia militia, many of which brutally persecuted the minority Sunni population. Sunnis were excluded from select government jobs, rounded up and arbitrarily detained under new overbroad laws, summarily executed, and indiscriminately bombed.”

The report also criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom it said has “deliberately and viciously attacked civilians in opposition-held areas.”

“Their (Syrian regime) use of indiscriminate weapons – most notoriously, barrel bombs – has made life almost intolerable for civilians.”

More than 200,000 people have been killed in Syria’s nearly-four-year conflict, according to activists.

HRW said the United States and its allies had allowed their military action against Islamic State to overshadow efforts to push al-Assad’s regime to end its abuses.

“This selective concern allows ISIS recruiters to portray themselves to potential supporters as the only force willing to stand up to al-Assad’s atrocities.”

The report added that “the US-led coalition has taken on ISIS, but no nation – whether adversaries like the US, or backers like Russia and Iran – have increased pressure on Assad to stop the slaughter of civilians.”

According to HRW, too many countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and China have responded to real or perceived terrorism threats with abusive policies that ultimately ignited crises.

The report warned that there is a danger France’s response to a deadly attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier this month – using counterterrorism legislation to prosecute speech that does not incite violence – “will have a chilling effect on free expression.”

“Rather than treating human rights as a chafing restraint, policymakers worldwide would do better to recognize them as moral guides offering a path out of crisis and chaos,” Roth said.



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