Belgium Company FN Herstal Uncovered Empowering War Crimes In Yemen

(AI) – A type of Belgian machine gun known to be wielded by a Yemeni militia in the Hodeidah offensive is among the weaponry set to be showcased this weekend at one of the Middle East’s largest arms fairs in Abu Dhabi, Amnesty International said today.

According to promotional materials for the UAE’s IDEX2019 arms fair, the Minimi will be among the thousands of types of weapons available for sale. Manufactured in Belgium’s Wallonia region by FN Herstal, it is among an array of arms transferred by the Belgian Walloon authorities to the Saudi Arabia/UAE-led coalition in recent years for use in the armed conflict in Yemen.

An Amnesty International investigation last week documented the same weapon type being used by “The Giants,” a Yemeni militia that is backed and supplied by the UAE but not accountable to any government. “It’s a jarring sight to have FN Herstal hawking the Minimi in the UAE after we exposed how the Emiratis illicitly gave this weapon to an unaccountable militia in Yemen,” said Patrick Wilcken, Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International. “The Belgian authorities and FN Herstal must not sell more weapons to any forces fighting in Yemen, and particularly the UAE – the very country that is recklessly siphoning off arms to fighting forces, some of which are committing war crimes in Yemen.

The Minister-President of Belgium’s Walloon region, Willy Borsus, called for an investigation in response to Amnesty International’s findings last week. “We are eager to see the outcome of this investigation soon and hope it will lead to policy changes that bring Wallonia in line with its international obligations. Under the Arms Trade Treaty and EU Common position on arms exports, Belgium has legal obligations not to transfer arms to the coalition fighting in Yemen,” said Philippe Hensmans, Director of Amnesty International Belgium Francophone. “Any states doing so are signalling that money speaks louder than their stated commitment to international law.

According to publicly available data, since the outbreak of the Yemeni conflict in March 2015, Western states and others have supplied the UAE with at least US $3.5 billion worth of arms. Among them are heavy conventional weapons – including aircraft and ships – small arms, light weapons and associated parts and ammunition. Despite the UAE and militias it backs being implicated in war crimes and other serious violations, the following states have recently supplied the Emiratis with arms: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czechia, France, Finland, Germany, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the USA, among others.

Arms and defence industry companies from all the above countries are displaying their wares at IDEX 2019.

Amnesty International’s recent investigation documented some of these arms in the hands of “The Giants” and other unaccountable fighting forces in Yemen, including the Security Belt and Elite Forces. The proliferation of these groups is a recipe for disaster for Yemeni civilians who have already been killed in their thousands, while millions more are on the brink of famine as a direct result of the war.

The ongoing carnage against civilians in Yemen – including at the hands of the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led coalition and the militias it backs – should give serious pause to all states supplying arms,” said Patrick Wilcken. “It beggars belief that they would continue to market and sell billions of dollars’ worth of advanced weaponry to armed forces that are committing war crimes and exacerbating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

An Amnesty International campaign calls on its supporters around the world to demand that all states stop the flow of arms that are fuelling war crimes and serious human rights violations in Yemen.

Background

The International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) runs from 17-21 February. Held every two years in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, it bills itself as one of the biggest arms bazaars in the world.

According to Emirati state media, more than 1,300 exhibitors from 62 countries will be taking part in IDEX and its partner expo, NAVDEX. Exhibitors include other arms manufacturers whose goods have been seen in the hands of unaccountable militias in Yemen, including Bulgaria’s small arms manufacturer, Arsenal, and US armoured vehicle manufacturers Oshkosh and Navistar Defense.  International arms fairs and exhibitions like IDEX are one of the main ways for governments and defence industry associations to promote and broker international sales of weapons, munitions, and other military and security equipment and services.

More Resources

When Arms Go Astray: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/

Yemen – UAE recklessly supplying militias with windfall of Western arms: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/02/yemen-uae-recklessly-supplying-militias-with-windfall-of-western-arms/

Yemen – The Forgotten War: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/09/yemen-the-forgotten-war/


This report was originally published by Amnesty International on February 14th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and Tweets added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Why This American Has No Quarrels About Re-Locating Abroad

Starting in the very near future it’s one of my primary goals to start traveling the world, visiting new places and perhaps even settling down in a new country abroad for the long term. However, the more people I start talking to the more everyone keeps saying the same things, sayings things like “oh I don’t know about that, there are a lot of bad places outside the United States. Are you sure you want to do that?” Or “you know how many people are trying to get into this country? Why would you want to leave?” Their opinions all seem to be based off a fallacious notion that somehow it’s impossible to be happy or live a good/quality life outside the United States, pretending as if everyone currently living inside the US is as happy as could possibly be and we are all living the lives of our dreams.

There are roughly 7.3 billion people living on planet Earth at the present moment in time and only about 0.3 of them live inside the United States. Meaning that the overwhelming majority of all people on planet Earth live outside of the United States, and live perfectly fine or happy lives at that. It might be a notion lost on most modern Americans these days, but life outside of the United States is not just some great giant “dystopia.” In fact, you might be surprised to know that, based on the 2019 Global Democracy index, the United States currently ranks 27th in the world out of 160 countries and according to the 2018 worlds happiness report, the United States ranks 18th in the world out of 117 countries. These two studies are also based off factors such as poverty rates, incarceration rates, average annual income, health coverage, life expectancy, voter turnout, purchasing power, quality of life – et cetera.

On top of this, in terms of education, the United States ranks 115th among 200 countries in terms of linguistic diversity, and ranks 20th in math and 27th in science internationally. Moreover, out of 40 countries ranked based off their colleges or secondary educational systems, the USA ranks 20th in the world. Even here inside the United States, according to our own ACT testing agency, it is estimated that 76% of all high school students are unprepared to enter into college level courses upon graduating high school.

As for me personally, I’ve been ‘that guy‘ who used to work seasonally around the United States – all with migrant workers because I couldn’t get hired anywhere else. At times, on more than one occasion, I’ve literally been the only American working in a group of maybe +45 people – also some of the most enjoyable times of my life being honest with you.

In vain, what I keep trying to get the average American to understand is that there is a very real reason why so many people and/or countries around the world hate America and American tourists – and no, it isn’t because they are envious or jealous of you and your lifestyle. People hate Americans and American culture because we base our moral and ethical set of principles around materialism, vanity, vulgar-ness, indecency, gluttony, and arrogance.

Americans literally look at signers, rappers and movie stars as role models, we glorify transgender people as hero’s, we turn children into sex symbols, have the highest rate of obesity in the world, elect billionaire narcissists to be our National leader/President and our Government genuinely views itself as the worlds police. For example, did you know that out of 239 years in existence the United States Government has been engaged in different Wars for 222 of them?

Let me ask you a rhetorical question, why do you think so many migrants from around the world all enter the United States from foreign countries and then refuse to self identify as Americans? As an example, down in Florida there is an extremely large population of people whom defected from Cuba. These are people who were literally so ashamed of their country/government that they denounced their citizenship and sought asylum abroad. Yet, even after they were granted freedom in the United States, if you ever talk to them, they all still call themselves “Cubans” – not “Americans.” Ask yourself, why do you think this is?

The answer is simple, American culture/society is nothing to look up to or be envious of. The fact of the matter is that foreigners all come to this country for one reason and one reason only, to exploit our economic system and make as much money for themselves and their families as possible – not because they fancy American “culture.” This is why they all immigrate here and start settling into their own local communities, such as “Little Italy” or “China Town” or “New Haiti” and identify themselves with their old countries – because the culture where they came from is still fundamentally better than the culture we’ve created here in America, even if their economies aren’t.

‘Freedom’ & Human Rights

While I’m on the subject , I also want to touch on the notion of America being “free,” because it is yet again another major fallacy. In fact, you might be surprised to learn, but the United States of America is actually THE least free country on planet Earth – at least according to the statistics.

For example, did you know that the United States is home to 5% of the globes overall population, but 25% of the worlds prison population? How about the fact that America arrests more citizens ‘per capita’ than any country in the world, including Iran, North Korea, Russia or anyone else? Or the fact that the United States is considered one of the worst human rights violators in the world, not only because of our Wars but because our criminal justice system has created the conditions allowing for the US to actively host the worlds largest population of incarcerated citizens? Every year for example, the United States always makes the list of the worlds top human rights violators because of this very fact.

Debt

Did you know that, at the present moment in time, the United States Government currently holds $21.97 Trillion Dollars in National Debt?: http://www.usdebtclock.org/

How about the fact that US Congress has operated the US Government at an annual budget deficit every year since 2002?: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/02/03/cnn-fact-check-the-last-president-to-balance-the-budget/

Or the fact that the US’s National Debt has literally more than doubled within the course of the last 10 years alone?: https://www.thebalance.com/us-debt-by-president-by-dollar-and-percent-3306296

On top of this, 80% of Americans admit to being burdened by some form of debt & 70% admit they could not afford their lifestyles without the active use of debt: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/reports/2015/07/the-complex-story-of-american-debt

For example, the average American currently holds over $7,000 in credit card debt: https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-credit-card-debt

The average ‘homeowner’ owes, on average, $164,000 on their mortgages: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/states-with-most-mortgage-debt-1.aspx#slide=1

The average college graduate in American owes, on average, $29,000 on their student loans: https://ticas.org/posd/map-state-data

Meanwhile, the average unemployment rate for recent college graduates in their early 20’s fluctuates between 26% to 30% – more than twice that of the combined national average: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=561

Moreover, it’s estimated that each month, 43% of all households in the US spend more money than they make: https://www.businessinsider.com/ny-fed-q4-2014-household-debt-2015-2

And 41% of all Americans either have re-occurring medical expenses or hold outstanding medical debts: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-08/cf-7mu081908.php

In total, it is estimated that the average American adult owns/owes somewhere around $225,238 in debt – each: https://investorplace.com/2013/09/report-average-american-in-debt-hundreds-of-thousands/#.VjM0VivJzwI

Adding insult to injury now, there are over 1.17 million foreclosed homes in the United States: https://www.statisticbrain.com/home-foreclosure-statistics/

With a total homeless population hovering around 3.5 million each year: https://www.amnestyusa.org/housing-its-a-wonderful-right/

Now, if you really want to fry your noodles, consider the fact that, according to the US Treasury Department, there’s only $1.57 Trillion Dollars of currency in physical circulation/existence? Meaning that if every coin and “Federal Reserve Note” in the world were magically handed in right now at this very moment, not only would there be no money left for anyone in society to spend, but there would only be $1.57 trillion dollars to account for. Breaking things down further, this means that if we’ve spent $21.97 Trillion Dollars in conjunction with our National Debt but only have $1.57 to account for, then only 14% of money is actually real. Meaning that 86% of money – aka debt – only exists inside in cyber space, as numbers/figures transferred from computer to computer across them “inter-webs.

IF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE EVER ALLOW PRIVATE BANKS TO CONTROL THE ISSUE OF THEIR CURRENCY, FIRST BY INFLATION, THEN BY DEFLATION, THE BANKS AND CORPORATIONS THAT WILL GROW UP AROUND THEM WILL DEPRIVE THE PEOPLE OF ALL PROPERTY UNTIL THEIR CHILDREN WAKE UP HOMELESS ON THE CONTINENT THEIR FATHERS CONQUERED…I BELIEVE THAT BANKING INSTITUTIONS ARE MORE DANGEROUS TO OUR LIBERTIES THAN STANDING ARMIES… THE ISSUING POWER SHOULD BE TAKEN FROM THE BANKS AND RESTORED TO THE PEOPLE, TO WHOM IT PROPERLY BELONGS.” – THOMAS JEFFERSON

Understanding How The Global Arms Trade Leads To UAE War Crimes In Yemen

(AI) – An open source investigation published by Amnesty International today highlights a growing danger in Yemen’s conflict as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recklessly arms militias with a range of advanced weaponry. The investigation, “When arms go astray: Yemen’s deadly new threat of arms diversion to militias,”shows how the UAE has become a major conduit for armoured vehicles, mortar systems, rifles, pistols, and machine guns – which are being illicitly diverted to unaccountable militias accused of war crimes and other serious violations.

Full Research Presentation via Shorthand: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/

While the USA, the UK, France and other European states have rightly been criticized for supplying arms to Coalition forces, and Iran has been implicated in sending arms to the Huthis, a deadly new threat is emerging. Yemen is quickly becoming a safe haven for UAE-backed militias that are largely unaccountable,” said Patrick Wilcken, Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International. “Emirati forces receive billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Western states and others, only to siphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes. The proliferation of these fighting forces is a recipe for disaster for Yemeni civilians who have already been killed in their thousands, while millions more are on the brink of famine as a direct result of the war.

The armed groups on the receiving end of these dodgy arms deals, including “The Giants,” the Security Belt and Elite Forces, are trained and funded by the UAE but are not accountable to any government. Some of them stand accused of war crimes, including during the recent offensive on the port city of Hodeidah and in the UAE-backed network of secret prisons in southern Yemen.

States Supplying Arms To UAE

According to publicly available data, since the outbreak of the Yemeni conflict in March 2015, Western states have supplied the UAE with at least US $3.5 billion worth of arms. Among them are heavy conventional weapons – including aircraft and ships – small arms, light weapons and associated parts and ammunition. Despite the serious violations attributed to the UAE and militias it backs, the following states have recently supplied the Emiratis with arms: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czechia, France, Germany, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the USA, among others.

Amnesty International analysed open-source evidence around the battle for Hodeidah and found that military vehicles and weapons supplied to the UAE are now widely in use by militias on the ground. A wide variety of US-supplied armoured vehicles equipped with heavy machine guns, including M-ATV, Caiman and MaxxPro models, have been documented in the hands of UAE-backed militias Security Belt, Shabwani elite forces and “The Giants.

Belgian Minimi light machine guns, also likely sold to the UAE, are being deployed by “The Giants.” Other weapons used by UAE-allied militias in Hodeidah include Serbian-made Zastava MO2 Coyote machine guns and the Agrab armoured-truck-mounted Singaporean 120mm mortar system – the UAE is the only country known to purchase this combined weapon system.

Read More – The Hodeidah Offensive: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/#group-hodeidah-offensive-3d5xqrhJxd

Elsewhere in Yemen, the UAE has directly trained and funded militias including the Security Belt and Elite Forces, which operate a shadowy network of secret prisons known as “black sites.Amnesty International and others have previously documented these forces’ role in enforced disappearances and other violations at these facilities – including detention at gunpoint, torture with electric shocks, waterboarding, hanging from the ceiling, sexual humiliation, prolonged solitary confinement, squalid conditions and inadequate food and water.

The UAE-backed militias running these black sites wield Bulgarian rifles and drive US armoured vehicles.

Read More – UAE Detention Facilities: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/#group-detention-facilities-lbS06e1oz6

2018 Report On UAE Detention/Torture Facilities:

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Violating the Arms Trade Treaty

Many of the states that continue to supply arms to the UAE are party to the global Arms Trade Treaty. Some have other legal obligations as EU members or under domestic laws not to transfer arms being used to commit war crimes. By persisting in transferring arms to the UAE, despite overwhelming evidence those arms are being used in war crimes and other serious violations in Yemen, they are flouting these obligations.

Amnesty International calls on all states to stop supplying arms to all parties to the conflict in Yemen until there is no longer a substantial risk that such equipment would be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway have recently announced suspending arms transfers to the UAE.

As the next round of peace talks on Yemen’s conflict looms, arms-supplying states need to reflect hard on how their arms transfers are continuing to directly and indirectly fuel war crimes and other serious violations. The proliferation of unaccountable, UAE-backed militias is worsening the humanitarian crisis and posing a growing threat to the civilian population,” said Patrick Wilcken. “Only a handful of countries have done the right thing and stopped the conveyor belt of arms to the Yemen’s devastating conflict. Others must follow in their footsteps or they will share responsibility for the devastating toll these billions of dollars’ worth of arms transfers are wreaking on civilians in Yemen.

Take Action – Sign Online Petition: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/#group-take-action-yHMN9qaIhu


This report was originally published by Amnesty International on February 5th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits, Tweets and Hyperlinks To Reports added by Rogue Media Labs

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How French Weapons & Political Support Enables Egypt’s Continued Human Rights Violations

(Le Monde) – On January 27, President Emmanuel Macron began his first official visit to Egypt. Relations between the two countries and presidents have never been warmer. Macron has justified France’s support for Egypt, despite the well documented human rights abuses by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, by saying that France considers Egypt a bulwark against terrorism. Macron has gone as far as to say that “Egypt’s security is France’s security.

In the name of this friendship, France has sold many weapons to Egypt, overtaking the US to become Egypt’s main arms supplier between 2013 and 2017. In 2017 alone, it delivered more than EUR 1.4 billion worth of military and security equipment. France has provided warships, fighter jets, and armored vehicles, while French companies – with the government’s approval – have provided surveillance and crowd control tools. Last December in Cairo, French Defense Minister Florence Parly cut the ribbon with al-Sisi for Egypt’s first arms show.

When Macron has been criticized for his support for al-Sisi, his answerhas been that he wants to be pragmatic and “does not want to lecture” al-Sisi on human rights. But the issue here is not about France lecturing Egypt or a case of naïve activists unaware of the security risks in Egypt. The issue is about France directly enabling abuses and not respecting its own international obligations regulating arms sales, which prohibit arms transfers to countries where there is a substantial risk that they could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations.

The French authorities contend that they have only licensed military equipment as part of the “fight against terrorism” in Egypt and not for law enforcement operations. But as recent reports by Amnesty International and FIDH have demonstrated, French-supplied armored vehicles were used by Egyptian security forces to violently disperse peaceful sit-ins across the country. Amnesty International noted, “French vehicles were not merely assisting the security forces, but were themselves tools of repression, playing a very active role in the crushing of dissent.

Download Full 54 Page Report: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/EUR2190382018ENGLISH.PDF

In response to the criticism, the French government argues that such exports were intended for the Egyptian military, not the police. But France should have monitored the use of weapons and equipment it exported, and there is no evidence that France put a stop to the weapons transfers once it became clear that Egypt had diverted their use.

In addition to its direct support for the military and police, the French government has authorized French companies to sell Egyptian authorities various surveillance systems for intercepting communications and controlling social movements. The Egyptian state’s ever-expanding surveillance has been used to target human rights and labor activists, LGBT people, political activists, and academics. Al-Sisi’s fear of social movements is so deep that in December his government even banned the sale of yellow vests in fear of copycat protests in advance of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.

Even France’s claims that al-Sisi is essential to the fight against terrorism looks shaky on closer inspection. Egypt is indeed facing a dangerous insurgency by extremist fighters in the northern Sinai Peninsula, a historically marginalized territory. But the way the Egyptian security forces have countered this insurgency has been a textbook case of abuses that have not just violated human rights but alienated large segments of the local population that these actions are supposed to protect.

Egyptian forces carried out unlawful mass destruction of homes and forcible evictions of tens of thousands of residents in northern Sinai with little or no help or temporary accommodation for the people forced out of their homes. Human Rights Watch’s research shows that the Egyptian military and police have carried out widespread arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings, in northern Sinai while attempting to conceal these abuses through restrictions on independent reporting. Residents of the area told us that they no longer knew whom to trust. France is happy to whitewash these abuses in the name of the fight against terrorism.

In other parts of Egypt, the situation is not much better. Torture and enforced disappearances occur regularly, and overcrowded prisons with brutal detention conditions are becoming breeding grounds for radicalization, former inmates say. Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities have used the cover of counterterrorism to go after all forms of dissent. Egypt has not only banned the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, but also secular groups like the April 6 Youth Movement, an activist group that played a key role in the protests organized against Hosni Mubarak in 2011. A March 2018 by the Interior Ministry portrays a threat to Egypt’s security emanating from groups ranging from ISIS to human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch.

By offering unconditional and uncritical support, France has made it harder to get Egypt to revisit its current approach. Despite the government’s massive military efforts, northern Sinai residents hardly feel more secure. Many displaced by the violence in past years have reported losing hope of going back home. According to data compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the number of armed violent events in Egypt nearly doubled between November and December 2018 due to the escalation of the fighting between Egyptian forces and the Islamic State. According to ACLED, Egypt became the third-most-active country in terms of violence on the African continent in December, after Somalia and Nigeria.

In this context, one wonders who is being naïve in their approach to Egypt. The human rights groups who are documenting an out of control “war on terror” that seems to be creating more enemies by the day or a French government which keeps throwing weapons at a problem that seems to be getting worse? No one is asking President Macron to lecture al-Sisi, but rather to meet his own obligations to respect human rights. France should suspend all sales and provision of security-related items and assistance to Egypt until the government ends serious human rights violations, and Macron’s government should introduce effective end-use monitoring to ensure that France is not complicit in grave crimes.


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on January 27th 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits & Tweets and videos added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Amnesty International Publishes “Destination: Occupation”

Today Amnesty International published their latest report. Entitled “Occupation, Destination,” the 96 page report details how Israeli’s tourism industry is incidentally fueling construction and developments of the disputed territories. More specifically, the report identifies four leading online tourism companies/brands, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia and Airbnb, critical of these online platforms decisions to actively host/sell places to stay, things to buy or things to do in any region that has been illegally developed within the Palestinian territories.

Full Report: 

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This report was originally published by Amnesty International on January 30th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits added by Rogue Media Labs

Amnesty Investigation – State Sponsored Hackers Launching Massive Hacking Operations Across Middle East & North Africa

(AI)

Summary

  • We have identified several campaigns of credentials phishing, likely operated by the same attackers, targeting hundreds of individuals spread across the Middle East and North Africa.
  • In one campaign, the attackers were particularly going after accounts on popular self-described “secure email” services, such as Tutanota and ProtonMail.
  • In another campaign, the attackers have been targeting hundreds of Google and Yahoo accounts, successfully bypassing common forms of two-factor authentication.

Introduction

From the arsenal of tools and tactics used for targeted surveillance, phishing remains one of the most common and insidious form of attack affecting civil society around the world. More and more Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) have become aware of these threats. Many have taken steps to increase their resilience to such tactics. These often include using more secure, privacy-respecting email providers, or enabling two-factor authentication on their online accounts.

However, attackers too learn and adapt in how they target HRDs. This report documents two phishing campaigns that Amnesty International believes are being carried out by the same attacker (or attackers) likely originating from amongst the Gulf countries. These broad campaigns have targeted hundreds, if not a thousand, HRDs, journalists, political actors and others in many countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.

What makes these campaigns especially troubling is the lengths to which they go to subvert the digital security strategies of their targets. The first campaign, for example, utilizes especially well-crafted fake websites meant to imitate well-known “secure email” providers. Even more worryingly, the second demonstrates how attackers can easily defeat some forms of two-factor authentication to steal credentials, and obtain and maintain access to victims’ accounts. As a matter of fact, Amnesty Tech’s continuous monitoring and investigations into campaigns of targeted surveillance against HRDs suggest that many attacker groups are developing this capability.

Taken together, these campaigns are a reminder that phishing is a pressing threat and that more awareness and clarity over appropriate countermeasures needs to be available to human rights defenders.

Phishing Sites Imitating “Secure Email” Providers

Amnesty International has identified several well-crafted phishing sites for the popular email services Tutanota and ProtonMail. The providers are marketed as “secure email” solutions and have consequently gained some traction among activists.

These sites contain several elements that make them especially difficult for targets to identify as fakes. For instance, the attackers managed to obtain the domain tutanota.org and used it to almost completely replicate the original website for the Tutanota service, which is actually located at tutanota.com.

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Many users rightfully expect that online services control the primary .com.org and .net domain variants of their brand. If an attacker manages to acquire one of these variants they have a rare opportunity to make the fake website appear significantly more realistic. These fake sites also use transport encryption (represented by the https:// prefix, as opposed to the classic, unencrypted, http://). This enables the well-recognized padlock on the left side of the browser’s address bar, which users have over the years been often taught to look for when attempting to discern between legitimate and malicious sites. These elements, together with an almost indistinguishable clone of the original website, made this a very credible phishing site that would be difficult to identify even for the more tech-savvy targets.

If a victim were tricked into performing a login to this phishing site, their credentials would be stored and a valid login procedure would be then initiated with the original Tutanota site, giving the target no indication that anything suspicious had occurred.

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Because of how remarkably deceptive this phishing site was, we contacted Tutanota’s staff, informed them about the ongoing phishing attack, and they quickly proceeded to request the shutdown of the malicious infrastructure.

These same attackers were also operating a ProtonMail phishing website (another popular email service marketed as secure) located at protonemail.ch, where the additional letter “e” is all that distinguishes this well-built replica from the original valid website protonmail.ch.

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Widespread Phishing of Google and Yahoo Users

Throughout 2017 and 2018, human rights defenders and journalists from the Middle East and North Africa region have been sharing with us suspicious emails they have been receiving. Investigating these emails, we identified a large and long-running campaign of targeted phishing attacks that has targeted hundreds, and likely over one thousand people overall. Most of the targets seemingly originating from the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Egypt and Palestine.

It is worth noting that we found this campaign to be directly connected to some attacks included in section 2.4.2 of a technical report by UC Berkeley researcher Bill Marczak, in which he suggests various overlaps with other campaigns of targeted surveillance specifically targeting dissidents in the UAE.

Our investigation leads us to additionally conclude that this campaign likely originates with the same attacker – or attackers – who cloned the Tutanota and ProtonMail sites in the previous section. As in the previous campaign, this targeted phishing campaign employs very well-designed clones of the commercial sites it impersonates: Google and Yahoo. Unlike that campaign, however, this targeted phishing campaign is also designed to defeat the most common forms of two-factor authentication that targets might use to secure their accounts.

Lastly, we have identified and are currently investigating a series of malware attacks that appear to be tied to these phishing campaigns. This will be the subject of a forthcoming report.

Fake Security Alerts Work

In other campaigns, for example in our Operation Kingphish report, we have seen attackers create well developed online personas in order to gain the trust of their targets, and later use more crafty phishing emails that appeared to be invites to edit documents on Google Drive or participating in Google Hangout calls.

In this case, we have observed less sophisticated social engineering tricks. Most often this attacker made use of the common “security alert” scheme, which involves falsely alarming the targets with some fake notification of a potential account compromise. This approach exploits their fear and instills a sense of urgency in order to solicit a login with the pretense of immediately needing to change their password in order to secure their account. With HRDs having to be constantly on the alert for their personal and digital security, this social engineering scheme can be remarkably convincing.

The following is one example of a phishing email sent by this attacker.

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Clicking on the links and buttons contained in these malicious emails would take the victim to a well-crafted and convincing Google phishing website. These attackers often and regularly create new sites and rotate their infrastructure in order to avoid detection and reduce the damage of unexpected shutdowns by domain registrars and hosting providers. You can find at the bottom of this report a list of all the malicious domains we have identified.

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How Does the Phishing Attack Work?

In order to verify the functioning of the phishing pages we identified, we decided to create a disposable Google account. We selected one of the phishing emails that was shared with us, which pretended to be a security alert from Google, falsely alerting the victim of suspicious login activity, and soliciting them to change the password to their account.

The first step was to visit the phishing page.

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When we logged into the phishing page, we were redirected to another page where we were alerted that we had been sent a 2-Step Verification code (another term for two-factor authentication) via SMS to the phone number we used to register the account, consisting of six digits.

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Sure enough, our configured phone number did receive an SMS message containing a valid Googleverification code. After we entered our credentials and the 2-Step Verification code into the phishing page, we were then presented with a form asking us to reset the password for our account.

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To most users a prompt from Google to change passwords would seem a legitimate reason to be contacted by the company, which in fact it is.

After checking the security events on our disposable Google account, we noticed that a password change was in fact issued by Windows computer operated by the attackers, seemingly connecting from an IP address that Google geolocates within the USA.

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(The IP address used by the attackers to automatically authenticate and modify our Google account, 196.19.3.66, is actually an unauthenticated Squid HTTP proxy. The attackers can use open proxies to obscure the location of their phishing server.)

The purpose of taking this additional step is most likely just to fulfill the promise of the social engineering bait and therefore to not raise any suspicion on the part of the victim.

After following this one last step, we were then redirected to an actual Google page. In a completely automated fashion, the attackers managed to use our password to login into our account, obtain from us the two-factor authentication code sent to our phone, and eventually prompt us to change the password to our account. The phishing attack is now successfully completed.

Similarly, we created a new Yahoo account and configured two-factor authentication using the available phone verification as visible in the account settings:

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Challenges in Securing Online Accounts

Finding a secure way to authenticate users is a very difficult technical issue, although some progress has been made over the years that has raised the bar of difficulty for attackers attempting to compromise accounts at scale.

Two-factor authentication has become a de-facto standard that is almost always recommended as a required step for securing online accounts. With two-factor authentication procedures enabled, users are required to provide a secondary form of verification that normally comes in the form of a numerical token that is either sent via SMS or through a dedicated app to be installed on their phone. These tokens are short-lived, and normally expire after 30 seconds. In other cases, like that of Yahoo, the user is required instead to manually allow an ongoing authentication attempt by tapping a button on their phone.

Why is this useful? Requiring a secondary form of authentication prevents some scenarios in which an attacker might have obtained access to your credentials. While this can most commonly happen with some unsophisticated phishing attempts, it is also a useful mitigation to password reuse. You should definitely configure your online accounts to use different passwords (and ideally use a password manager), but in the case you reuse – accidentally or otherwise – a password which was stolen (for example through the numerous data breaches occurring all the time) having two-factor authentication enabled will most likely mitigate against casual attackers trying to reuse the same password on as many other online accounts as possible.

Generally, there are three forms of two-factor authentication that online services provide:

  • Software token: this is the most common form, and consists in asking the user to enter in the login form a token (usually composed of six digits, sometimes it includes letters) that is sent to them either via SMS or through a dedicated app the user configured at the time of registration.
  • Software push notification: the user receives a notification on the phone through an app that was installed at the time of registration. This app alerts the user that a login attempt is being made and the user can approve it or block it.
  • Hardware security keys: this is a more recent form of two-factor authentication that requires the user to physically insert a special USB key into the computer in order to log into the given website.

While two-factor push notifications often provide some additional information that might be useful to raise your suspicion (for example, the country of origin of the client attempting to authenticate being different from yours), most software-based methods fall short when the attacker is sophisticated enough to employ some level of automation.

As we saw with the campaigns described in this report, if a victim is tricked into providing the username and password to their account, nothing will stop the attacker from asking to provide the 6-digits two-factor token, eventually the phone number to be verified, as well as any other required information. With sufficient instrumentation and automation, the attackers can make use of the valid two-factor authentication tokens and session before they expire, successfully log in and access all the emails and contacts of the victim. In other words, when it comes to targeted phishing software-based two-factor authentication, without appropriate mitigation, could be a speed bump at best.

Don’t be mistaken, two-factor authentication is important and you should make sure you enable it everywhere you can. However, without a proper understanding of how real attackers work around these countermeasures, it is possible that people are misled into believing that, once it is enabled, they are safe to log into just about anything and feel protected. Individuals at risk, human rights defenders above all, are very often targets of phishing attacks and it is important that they are equipped with the right knowledge to make sure they aren’t improperly lowering their level of caution online.

While it is possible that in the future capable attackers could develop ways around that too, at the moment the safest two-factor authentication option available is the use of security keys.

This technology is supported for example by Google’s Advanced Protection program, by Facebook and as of recently by Twitter as well. This process might appear painful at first, but it significantly raises the difficulty for any attacker to be successful, and it isn’t quite as burdensome as one might think. Normally, you will be required to use a security key only when you are authenticating for the first time from a new device.

That said, security keys have downsides as well. Firstly, they are still at a very early stage of adoption: only few services support them and most email clients (such as Thunderbird) are still in the process of developing an integration. Secondly, you can of course lose your security key and be locked out of your accounts. However, you could just in the same way lose the phone you use for other forms of two-factor authentication, and in both cases, you should carefully configure an option for recovery (through printed codes or a secondary key) as instructed by the particular service.

As with every technology, it is important individuals at risk are conscious of the opportunities as well as the shortcomings some of these security procedures offer, and determine (perhaps with the assistance of an expert) which configuration is best suited for their respective requirements and levels of risk.

How the Bypass for Two-Factor Authentication Works

The servers hosting the Google and Yahoo phishing sites also mistakenly exposed a number of publicly listed directories that allowed us to discover some details on the attacker’s plan. One folder located at /setup/ contained a database SQL schema likely used by the attackers to store the credentials obtained through the phishing frontend:

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A folder located at /bin/ contained an installation of Selenium with Chrome Driver, which is a set of tools commonly used for the automation of testing of web applications. Selenium allows to script the configuration and launch of a browser (in this case Google Chrome) and make it automatically visit any website and perform certain activity (such as clicking on a button) in the page.

While the original purpose was to simplify the process of quality assurance for web developers, it also lends itself perfectly to the purpose of automating login attempts into legitimate websites and streamlining phishing attacks. Particularly, this allows attackers to easily defeat software-based two-factor authentication.

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Yet another folder called /profiles/ instead contained hundreds of folders generated by each spawned instance of Google Chrome, automated through Selenium as explained.

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Because all the profile folders generated by the spawned Google Chrome instances operated by the attackers are exposed to the public, we can actually get a glimpse at how the accounts are compromised by inspecting the History database that is normally used by the browser to store the browsing history.

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Through the many Chrome folders we could access, we identified two clear patterns of compromise.

The first pattern of compromise, and most commonly found across the data we have obtained, is exemplified by the following chronological list of URLs visited by the Chrome browser instrumented by the attackers:

  1. https://mail.yahoo.com/
  2. https://guce.yahoo.com/consent?brandType=nonEu&gcrumb=%5BREDACTED%5D&done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F
  3. https://login.yahoo.com/?done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F
  4. https://login.yahoo.com/account/challenge/push?done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F&authMechanism=primary&display=login&yid=[REDACTED]&sessionIndex=QQ–&acrumb=[REDACTED]
  5. https://login.yahoo.com/account/challenge/phone-obfuscation?done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F&authMechanism=primary&display=login&yid=[REDACTED]&acrumb=[REDACTED]&sessionIndex=QQ–&eid=3640
  6. https://login.yahoo.com/account/challenge/phone-verify?done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F&authMechanism=primary&display=login&yid=[REDACTED]&acrumb=[REDACTED]&sessionIndex=QQ–
  7. https://login.yahoo.com/account/challenge/pre-change-password?done=https%3A%2F%2Fguce.yahoo.com%2Fconsent%3Fgcrumb%3D[REDACTED]%26trapType%3Dlogin%26done%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fmail.yahoo.com%252F%26intl%3D%26lang%3D&authMechanism=prima$
  8. https://login.yahoo.com/account/security/app-passwords/list
  9. https://login.yahoo.com/?done=https%3A%2F%2Flogin.yahoo.com%2Faccount%2Fsecurity%2Fapp-passwords%2Flist%3F.scrumb%3D0
  10. https://login.yahoo.com/account/security/app-passwords/list?.scrumb=[REDACTED]
  11. https://login.yahoo.com/account/security/app-passwords/add?scrumb=[REDACTED]

As we can see, the attackers are automatically visiting the legitimate Yahoo login page, entering the credentials, and then following all of the required steps for eventual two-factor authentication that might have been configured by the victim. Once the full authentication process is completed, the attackers proceed to create what is commonly known as an “App Password”, which is a separate password that some services, including Yahoo, offer in order to allow third-party apps that don’t support two-factor verification to access the user’s account (for example, if the user wants to use Outlook to access the email). Because of this, App Passwords are perfect for an attacker to maintain persistent access to the victim’s account, as they will not be further required to perform any additional two-factor authentication when accessing it.

In the second pattern of compromise we identified, the attackers again seem to automate the process of authenticating into the victim’s account, but they appear to additionally attempt to perform an “account migration” in order to fundamentally clone the emails and the contacts list of from the victim’s account to a separate account under the attacker’s control:

  1. https://mail.yahoo.com/
  2. https://guce.yahoo.com/consent?brandType=nonEu&gcrumb=%5BREDACTED%5D&done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F
  3. https://login.yahoo.com/?done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F
  4. https://login.yahoo.com/account/challenge/password?done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F&authMechanism=primary&display=narrow&yid=[REDACTED]&sessionIndex=QQ–&acrumb=[REDACTED]
  5. https://login.yahoo.com/account/challenge/phone-obfuscation?done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F&authMechanism=primary&display=narrow&yid=[REDACTED]&acrumb=[REDACTED]&sessionIndex=QQ–&eid=3650
  6. https://login.yahoo.com/account/challenge/phone-verify?done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F&authMechanism=primary&display=narrow&yid=[REDACTED]&acrumb=[REDACTED]&sessionIndex=QQ–
  7. https://login.yahoo.com/account/yak-opt-in/upsell?done=https%3A%2F%2Fguce.yahoo.com%2Fconsent%3Fgcrumb%3D%5BREDACTED%5D%26trapType%3Dlogin%26done%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fmail.yahoo.com%252F%26intl%3D%26lang%3D&authMechanism=primary&display=n$
  8. https://guce.yahoo.com/consent?brandType=nonEu&gcrumb=%5BREDACTED%5D&done=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.yahoo.com%2F
  9. https://mail.yahoo.com/m/
  10. https://mg.mail.yahoo.com/neo/m/launch?
  11. https://mg.mail.yahoo.com/m/
  12. https://mg.mail.yahoo.com/m/folders/1
  13. http://www.gmail.com/
  14. https://www.gmail.com/
  15. https://www.google.com/gmail/
  16. https://mail.google.com/mail/
  17. https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin?service=mail&passive=true&rm=false&continue=https://mail.google.com/mail/&ss=1&scc=1&ltmpl=default&ltmplcache=2&emr=1&osid=1#
  18. https://mail.google.com/intl/en/mail/help/about.html#
  19. https://www.google.com/intl/en/mail/help/about.html#
  20. https://www.google.com/gmail/about/#
  21. https://accounts.google.com/AccountChooser?service=mail&continue=https://mail.google.com/mail/
  22. https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin?continue=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2Fmail%2F&service=mail&sacu=1&rip=1
  23. https://accounts.google.com/signin/v2/identifier?continue=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2Fmail%2F&service=mail&sacu=1&rip=1&flowName=GlifWebSignIn&flowEntry=ServiceLogin
  24. https://accounts.google.com/signin/v2/sl/pwd?continue=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2Fmail%2F&service=mail&sacu=1&rip=1&flowName=GlifWebSignIn&flowEntry=ServiceLogin&cid=1&navigationDirection=forward
  25. https://accounts.google.com/CheckCookie?hl=en&checkedDomains=youtube&checkConnection=youtube%3A375%3A1&pstMsg=1&chtml=LoginDoneHtml&service=mail&continue=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2Fmail%2F&gidl=%5BREDACTED%5D
  26. https://mail.google.com/accounts/SetOSID?authuser=0&continue=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2Fmail%2F%3Fauth%3D[REDACTED]
  27. https://mail.google.com/mail/?auth=%5BREDACTED%5D.
  28. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/
  29. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox
  30. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#settings/general
  31. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#settings/accounts
  32. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=%5BREDACTED%5D&jsver=OeNArYUPo4g.en.&view=mip&fs=1&tf=1&ver=OeNArYUPo4g.en.&am=%5BREDACTED%5D
  33. https://api.shuttlecloud.com/gmailv2/authenticate/oauth/[REDACTED]%40yahoo.com?ik=[REDACTED]&email=[REDACTED]@yahoo.com&user=0&scopes=contactsmigration,emailmigration
  34. https://api.login.yahoo.com/oauth2/request_auth?client_id=[REDACTED]&redirect_uri=https%3A//api.shuttlecloud.com/gmailv2/authenticate/oauth/c$
  35. https://api.login.yahoo.com/oauth2/authorize
  36. https://api.shuttlecloud.com/gmailv2/authenticate/oauth/callback?email=%5BREDACTED%5D&code=%5BREDACTED%5D
  37. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?token_id=%5BREDACTED%5D&ik=%5BREDACTED%5D&ui=2&email=%5BREDACTED%5D%40yahoo.com&view=mas

In this rather longer chronology of URLs visited by the Chrome browser instrumented by the attackers we can see that they designed the system to attempt a login into Yahoo with the stolen credentials and request the completion of a two-factor verification process, as requested by the service. Once the authentication is completed, the phishing backend will automatically connect the compromised Yahoo account to a legitimate account migration service called ShuttleCloud, which allows the attackers to automatically and immediately generate a full clone of the victim’s Yahooaccount under a separate Gmail account under their control.

After such malicious account migration happened, the attackers would then be able to comfortably search and read through all the emails stolen from the victims leveraging the full-fledged functionality offered by Gmail.

Indicators

tutanota[.]org

protonemail[.]ch

accounts-mysecure[.]com

accounts-mysecures[.]com

accounts-secuirty[.]com

accounts-securtiy[.]com

accounts-servicse[.]com

accounts-settings[.]com

account-facebook[.]com

account-mysecure[.]com

account-privacy[.]com

account-privcay[.]com

account-servics[.]com

account-servicse[.]com

alert-newmail02[.]pro

applications-secure[.]com

applications-security[.]com

application-secure[.]com

authorize-myaccount[.]com

blu142-live[.]com

blu160-live[.]com

blu162-live[.]com

blu165-live[.]com

blu167-live[.]com

blu175-live[.]com

blu176-live[.]com

blu178-live[.]com

blu179-live[.]com

blu187-live[.]com

browsering-check[.]com

browsering-checked[.]com

browsers-checked[.]com

browsers-secure[.]com

browsers-secures[.]com

browser-checked[.]com

browser-secures[.]com

bul174-live[.]com

checking-browser[.]com

check-activities[.]com

check-browser[.]com

check-browsering[.]com

check-browsers[.]com

connected-myaccount[.]com

connect-myaccount[.]com

data-center17[.]website

documents-view[.]com

documents-viewer[.]com

document-viewer[.]com

go2myprofile[.]info

go2profiles[.]info

googledriveservice[.]com

gotolinks[.]top

goto-newmail01[.]pro

idmsa-login[.]com

inbox01-email[.]pro

inbox01-gomail[.]com

inbox01-mails[.]icu

inbox01-mails[.]pro

inbox02-accounts[.]pro

inbox02-mails[.]icu

inbox02-mails[.]pro

inbox03-accounts[.]pro

inbox03-mails[.]icu

inbox03-mails[.]pro

inbox04-accounts[.]pro

inbox04-mails[.]icu

inbox04-mails[.]pro

inbox05-accounts[.]pro

inbox05-mails[.]icu

inbox05-mails[.]pro

inbox06-accounts[.]pro

inbox06-mails[.]pro

inbox07-accounts[.]pro

inbox101-account[.]com

inbox101-accounts[.]com

inbox101-accounts[.]info

inbox101-accounts[.]pro

inbox101-live[.]com

inbox102-account[.]com

inbox102-live[.]com

inbox102-mail[.]pro

inbox103-account[.]com

Inbox103-mail[.]pro

inbox104-accounts[.]pro

inbox105-accounts[.]pro

inbox106-accounts[.]pro

Inbox107-accounts[.]pro

inbox108-accounts[.]pro

inbox109-accounts[.]pro

inbox169-live[.]com

inbox171-live[.]com

inbox171-live[.]pro

inbox172-live[.]com

inbox173-live[.]com

inbox174-live[.]com

inbox-live[.]com

inbox-mail01[.]pro

inbox-mail02[.]pro

inbox-myaccount[.]com

mail01-inbox[.]pro

mail02-inbox[.]com

mail02-inbox[.]pro

mail03-inbox[.]com

mail03-inbox[.]pro

mail04-inbox[.]com

mail04-inbox[.]pro

mail05-inbox[.]pro

mail06-inbox[.]pro

mail07-inbox[.]pro

mail08-inbox[.]pro

mail09-inbox[.]pro

mail10-inbox[.]pro

mail12-inbox[.]pro

mail13-inbox[.]pro

mail14-inbox[.]pro

mail15-inbox[.]pro

mail16-inbox[.]pro

mail17-inbox[.]pro

mail18-inbox[.]pro

mail19-inbox[.]pro

mail20-inbox[.]pro

mail21-inbox[.]pro

mail101-inbox[.]com

mail101-inbox[.]pro

mail103-inbox[.]com

mail103-inbox[.]pro

mail104-inbox[.]com

mail104-inbox[.]pro

mail105-inbox[.]com

mail105-inbox[.]pro

mail106-inbox[.]pro

mail107-inbox[.]pro

mail108-inbox[.]pro

mail109-inbox[.]pro

mail110-inbox[.]pro

mail201-inbox[.]pro

mail-inbox[.]pro

mailings-noreply[.]pro

myaccountes-setting[.]com

myaccountes-settings[.]com

myaccountsetup[.]live

myaccounts-login[.]com

myaccounts-profile[.]com

myaccounts-secuirty[.]com

myaccounts-secures[.]com

myaccounts-settings[.]com

myaccounts-settinq[.]com

myaccounts-settinqes[.]com

myaccounts-transfer[.]com

myaccount-inbox[.]pro

myaccount-logins[.]com

myaccount-redirects[.]com

myaccount-setting[.]com

myaccount-settinges[.]com

myaccount-settings[.]ml

myaccount-setup[.]com

myaccount-setup1[.]com

myaccount-setups[.]com

myaccount-transfer[.]com

myaccount[.]verification-approve[.]com

myaccount[.]verification-approves[.]com

myaccuont-settings[.]com

mysecures-accounts[.]com

mysecure-account[.]com

mysecure-accounts[.]com

newinbox-accounts[.]pro

newinbox01-accounts[.]pro

newinbox01-mails[.]pro

newinbox02-accounts[.]pro

newinbox03-accounts[.]pro

newinbox05-accounts[.]pro

newinbox06-accounts[.]pro

newinbox07-accounts[.]pro

newinbox08-accounts[.]pro

newinbox-account[.]info

newinbox-accounts[.]pro

noreply[.]ac

noreply-accounts[.]site

noreply-mailer[.]pro

noreply-mailers[.]com

noreply-mailers[.]pro

noreply-myaccount[.]com

privacy-myaccount[.]com

privcay-setting[.]com

profile-settings[.]com

recovery-settings[.]info

redirections-login[.]com

redirections-login[.]info

redirection-login[.]com

redirection-logins[.]com

redirects-myaccount[.]com

royalk-uae[.]com

securesmails-alerts[.]pro

secures-applications[.]com

secures-browser[.]com

secures-inbox[.]com

secures-inbox[.]info

secures-settinqes[.]com

secures-transfer[.]com

secures-transfers[.]com

secure-browsre[.]com

secure-settinqes[.]com

security-settinges[.]com

securtiy-settings[.]com

services-securtiy[.]com

settings-secuity[.]com

setting-privcay[.]com

settinqs-myaccount[.]com

settinq-myaccounts[.]com

thx-me[.]website

transfer-click[.]com

transfer-clicks[.]com

truecaller[.]services

urllink[.]xyz

verifications-approve[.]com

verification-approve[.]com

verification-approves[.]com

xn--mxamya0a[.]ccn

yahoo[.]llc


This article was originally published by Amnesty International on December 18th 2018. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and Tweets added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

New Global Study Highlights The Abuse Women Face Online

(AI) – One in ten tweets mentioning black women politicians and journalists in a sample analyzed by Amnesty International was abusive or problematic, the organization said today, as it released a ground-breaking study into abuse against women on Twitter conducted with Element AI, a global artificial intelligence software product company.

More than 6,500 volunteers from 150 countries signed up to take part in Troll Patrol, a unique crowdsourcing project designed to process large-scale data about online abuse. Volunteers sorted through 288,000 tweets sent to 778 women politicians and journalists in the UK and USA in 2017.

Amnesty International and Element AI then used advanced data science and machine learning techniques to extrapolate data about the scale of abuse that women face on Twitter. Element AI calculated that 1.1 million abusive or problematic tweets were sent to the women in the study across the year – or one every 30 seconds on average.

With the help of technical experts and thousands of volunteers, we have built the world’s largest crowdsourced dataset about online abuse against women. Troll Patrol means we have the data to back up what women have long been telling us – that Twitter is a place where racism, misogyny and homophobia are allowed to flourish basically unchecked,” said Milena Marin, Senior Advisor for Tactical Research at Amnesty International. “We found that, although abuse is targeted at women across the political spectrum, women of colour were much more likely to be impacted, and black women are disproportionately targeted. Twitter’s failure to crack down on this problem means it is contributing to the silencing of already marginalized voices.

Element AI is making its model available to try out for three weeks, to demonstrate the potential and current limitations of AI technology in this field. “This study is part of a long-term partnership between Amnesty International and Element AI. Taking a sober approach to AI, we make long-term commitments, dedicating our technical experts and tools to enable social good actors to do what they do best,” said Julien Cornebise, Director of Research, ‘AI For Good’ and Head of the London office of Element AI.

Politicians included in the sample came from across the US and UK political spectrums. The journalists included were from a diverse range of US and UK publications including The Daily Mail, The New York Times, Guardian, The SunGalDem, Pink News and Breitbart.

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Key findings

  • Black women were disproportionately targeted, being 84% more likely than white women to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets. One in ten tweets mentioning black women was abusive or problematic, compared to one in fifteen for white women.
  • 7.1% of tweets sent to the women in the study were problematic or abusive. This amounts to 1.1 million tweets mentioning 778 women across the year, or one every 30 seconds.
  • Women of colour, (black, Asian, Latinx and mixed-race women) were 34% more likely to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets than white women.
  • Online abuse against women cuts across the political spectrum. Politicians and journalists faced similar levels of online abuse and we observed both liberals and conservatives alike, as well as left and right leaning media organizations, were affected.

Amnesty International has repeatedly asked Twitter to publish data regarding the scale and nature of abuse on their platform, but so far the company has failed to do so. This hides the extent of the problem and makes it difficult to design effective solutions.

Troll Patrol volunteers collectively dedicated an incredible 2,500 hours analyzing tweets – the equivalent of someone working full-time for 1.5 years. “By crowdsourcing research, we were able to build up vital evidence in a fraction of the time it would take one Amnesty researcher, without losing the human judgement which is so essential when looking at context around tweets,” said Milena Marin.

Troll Patrol isn’t about policing Twitter or forcing it to remove content. We are asking it to be more transparent, and we hope that the findings from Troll Patrol will compel it to make that change. Crucially, Twitter must start being transparent about how exactly they are using machine learning to detect abuse, and publish technical information about the algorithms they rely on.

Background

Abusive content violates Twitter’s own rules and includes tweets that promote violence against or threaten people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. Problematic content is defined as content that is hurtful or hostile, especially if repeated to an individual on multiple or cumulative occasions, but not as intense as an abusive tweet.

Amnesty International shared its findings with Twitter. In response, Twitter requested clarification on the definition of “problematic: in accordance with the need to protect free expression and ensure policies are clearly and narrowly drafted.

For full methodology please see here: https://decoders.amnesty.org/projects/troll-patrol/findings


This article was originally published by Amnesty International on December 18th 2018. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and Tweets added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Joseph Kabila Using Government Forces To Squash Opposition Campaign Rallies Ahead of Dec. 23rd Election

(HRW) – Government security forces across the Democratic Republic of Congo have forcibly dispersed opposition campaign rallies ahead of the December 23, 2018 national elections. Security forces killed at least 7 opposition supporters, wounded more than 50 people, and arbitrarily detained scores of others from December 9 to 13.

The United Nations mission in Congo, MONUSCO, should deploy peacekeepers to predictable flashpoints in cities where there are risks of violence during campaign events and on election day. Concerned governments should increase pressure on the Congolese government, which bears primary responsibility for protecting citizens, to cease its suppression of the political opposition and to allow peaceful campaigning by all candidates.

Congolese security forces are inflaming an already tense situation by using excessive force against opposition campaign rallies,” said Ida Sawyer, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “With less than a week before the scheduled elections, the authorities need to keep an extremely volatile situation from spiraling out of control.

Two members of youth leagues associated with the ruling party said that senior ruling party officials recruited them and other youth to infiltrate supporters of opposition presidential candidate Martin Fayulu of the Lamuka (“wake up” in Lingala and Swahili, two of Congo’s four national languages) coalition. They said they were paid about US $50 each and instructed to provoke violence and disorder during Fayulu’s rallies, which could be attributed to Fayulu and create a pretext to arrest him or disqualify his candidacy.

On December 11, security forces deployed across Lubumbashi, the country’s second largest city, to block the movement of Fayulu and his supporters, killing at least five men, wounding dozens, and arresting scores of others. Authorities later refused to give family members and independent observers access to the morgue.

Seven police jeeps arrived to disperse us,” said a human rights activist monitoring Fayulu’s arrival in Lubumbashi for a campaign rally. “They fired live bullets and teargas. The police raided the stadium [where Fayulu was to hold the rally] and confiscated the sound equipment. They also used teargas and hot water to prevent people at the airport from reaching the city center.” Some supporters responded by throwing rocks at the police, wounding 11 police officers, according to a police spokesperson.

Pande Kapopo, the governor of Haut Katanga province, where Lubumbashi is located, can be heard in an audio recording just before Fayulu arrived in Lubumbashi, inciting his supporters to commit violence against Fayulu’s supporters. He said that the police would do nothing against them and that “we have the power.” Kapopo’s office told Radio France Internationale that his words had been taken “out of context.

On December 12, security forces fired live bullets and tear gas to disperse Fayulu’s supporters in the southeastern city of Kalemie, killing an 18-year-old high school student, Jeannette Maua. On December 13, in the central city of Mbuji-Mayi, police erected barricades and shot dead a 17-year-old-boy following the arrival of another opposition presidential candidate, Félix Tshisekedi, of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social, UDPS) party. The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials provide that the “intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.

https://twitter.com/DRCElectionInfo/status/1072493580030230528

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On December 14, the mayor of Kananga prohibited any campaign rallies in the city, the capital of Kasai Central province. The security forces erected roadblocks as Tshisekedi arrived in the city. The mayor of Boma, in Kongo Central province, prohibited an opposition rally on December 1 and security forces barricaded the road.

MONUSCO’s mandate from the Security Council directs peacekeepers to protect civilians “under threat of physical violence,” including “in the context of elections.” UN peacekeepers were not deployed in any significant numbers to the political rallies last week, where their presence may have helped deter security forces from firing on peaceful opposition supporters, according to local observers, political leaders, and UN personnel.

Government officials and security forces have also repeatedly delayed or prevented Fayulu’s plane from landing in key constituencies. In Kindu, capital of Maniema, the home province of the ruling party candidate Emmanuel Shadary, authorities stationed several helicopters on the airport tarmac to prevent Fayulu’s plane from landing.

We tried to welcome Fayulu at the airport, but we were blocked by a gang of youth, waiting for us, and the police were right behind,” said a Fayulu supporter in Kindu. “The police then shot in the air and fired tear gas. We fled, but the gang members came after us, throwing stones. I inhaled tear gas and was hospitalized for a day.” The gang members later ransacked opposition party offices. More than a dozen people, including two police officers, were wounded and at least 25 people were briefly detained.

In contrast, government officials have been instructed to facilitate and support Shadary’s campaign visits to more than a dozen provinces. On December 7, authorities in Goma detained seven wives and widows of Congolese soldiers for several hours after they had gone to welcome Fayulu in Goma the previous day. One widow was later evicted from the military camp.

The European Union renewed the travel ban and asset freezes against Shadary on December 10 for his alleged role in past serious human rights abuses. Violence has also been reported in other cities, Human Rights Watch said. On December 12, people threw stones at Tshisekedi in Bunia. On December 1, Tshisekedi’s UPDS supporters clashed with Shadary supporters in Mbuji-Mayi. Police intervened by firing tear gas to disperse the crowd and arrested 22 people, including 14 UPDS members, all of whom were later released. Unidentified assailants destroyed campaign materials in several cities, including in Lubumbashi and Kwilu, and two ruling party offices were vandalized in Kisangani and Mbandaka.

Armed groups have also interfered in campaigning in eastern Congo and the central Kasai region. In Masisi territory, North Kivu province on December 7, unidentified assailants attacked a convoy transporting a parliamentary candidate from the presidential majority, Eugène Serufuli, who is the national minister of social affairs. About a dozen people were wounded in the crossfire between the assailants and Serufuli’s police escort. In Kananga, Kasai Central, assailants kidnapped two members of the Original African Democratic Union (Union Démocratique Africaine Originelle) party as they were mobilizing their supporters on December 1. They remain missing.

Five media outlets close to the opposition remain shut by the government while the national radio and television station of Congo (Radio-Télévision nationale congolaise, RTNC), among others, heavily cover Shadary’s campaign. Security forces arrested 11 pro-democracy activists in Kinshasa and Goma on December 14. They remain in detention at time of writing.

Election officials have yet to address concerns about the controversial plan to use an electronic voting machine, which many fear will be used to facilitate fraud, and the estimated 6 million potential “ghost” voters on the voter roll.

It’s critical for UN peacekeepers to play a more active role in protecting those at risk of abuses in the context of the upcoming elections, including by deploying patrols to known flashpoints for potential violence,” Sawyer said. “Congo’s neighbors and international partners should clarify that there will be real consequences if the brutal government repression persists.


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on December 17th 2018. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits & Tweets added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Year In Review – Top 10 Human Rights Issues/Stories from 2018

(HRW) – On December 10, the world marks 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Regrettably, instead of the anniversary signalling the enduring impact of human rights, some are fearing the “end of human rights.” Here we highlight some of the rights challenges that captured the world’s attention this year, illustrating the struggle to secure human rights is far from over.

1. Australia’s first year on the UN Human Rights Council

Australia took its place on the UN Human Rights Council this year for a three-year term. Australia delivered a strong statement about Myanmar’s atrocities against ethnic Rohingya Muslims, but was criticized for holding refugees and asylum seekers offshore. While Australia supported important country resolutions, it failed to take a leadership role on any key issues.

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2. United States’ retreat from Human Rights Council

The US faced international condemnation when it quit the Human Rights Council, calling it a “protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.” The US has long complained of the council’s perceived bias against Israel. But, by withdrawing, the US decreased its options for confronting and addressing human rights violators. This increases the responsibility of governments like Australia’s to ensure the council addresses the world’s most serious human rights violations.

3. Violence against women

In Australia, while the #MeToo movement has spurred women to come forward with their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse, a number of high-profile cases of alleged sexual harassment by actors and politicians highlighted ongoing barriers to justice for victims. At the same time, the #countingdeadwomen femicide index reports that one woman in Australia is killed every week by an intimate partner.

4. Facebook’s reckoning

Free speech, privacy and electoral integrity came under the microscope in March, when a former employee of Cambridge Analytica blew the whistle on its practice of harvesting data from millions of US Facebook users in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential elections.

Cambridge Analytica was also investigated in the UK for a possible role in the Brexit referendum.

There is also growing criticism of Facebook for not doing enough to stop its use to spread hate speech. For example, in Myanmar it has been used as a tool to incite violence against Rohingya.

5. Rohingya crisis

In August, a UN Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar, which included Australian human rights expert Chris Sidoti, delivered a scathing report detailing crimes against humanity, war crimes, sexual violence and possible genocide by Myanmar’s security forces against the Rohingya.

The UN Human Rights Council, in response, created a mechanism to collect and preserve evidence to aid future prosecutions for atrocity crimes in Myanmar. Australia joined other Western nations in imposing targeted sanctions on military officers named in the UN report. While the Australian government maintains an arms embargo on Myanmar, our defense forces continue to provide training to the Myanmar military.

6. Crackdown against Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang

Turkic Muslims in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region have long faced repression. In 2018, Human Rights Watch and others reported an escalation in this repression with the government detaining 1 million people in political re-education camps, with evidence of their torture and mistreatment. Muslims not detained still face pervasive controls on freedom of movement and religion. The Foreign Affairs Department revealed under parliamentary questioning that three Australians were detained in the camps.

7. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia made international headlines when a prominent journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The case prompted a closer examination of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. The country’s repression, imprisonment and ill-treatment of activists includes the alleged torture of leading women’s rights defenders.

In Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition has committed many violations of international humanitarian law, including apparent war crimes, killing thousands of civilians. Millions of Yemenis are confronting a famine, in part because of restrictions on aid delivery. Yet the USA, UK, France and Australia sell the Saudi government weapons and military equipment that may well contribute to its Yemen campaign.

8. Children off Nauru

Australia’s government appeared to respond to the “Kids Off Nauru” campaign launched by civil society groups, medical professionals and lawyers. December figures show ten refugee children remain on the island, down from 119 children in August.

Mounting political pressure forced the government to remove children who had been transferred there in 2013 and 2014, though many were removed from Nauru only after legal proceedings were started. But the departure of families makes the situation even more desperate for the adults left behind. And those transferred to Australia are told they will not remain permanently, keeping them in limbo.

9. One year since the Uluru statement

Indigenous communities have fought hard throughout 2018 to have the federal government focus on the Uluru Statement from the Heart, after the Turnbull government dismissed it out of hand in 2017.

The statement calls for a constitutionally enshrined “First Nations Voice” in parliament and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise agreement-making between governments and First Nations, and facilitate truth-telling of First Nations’ histories. These steps were seen as laying the foundation for a treaty with Australia’s First Nations peoples. A 2018 parliamentary committee endorsed the need for a voice in parliament and has called for a process of co-design between indigenous people and government appointees.

10. LGBTI discrimination

One year on from the breakthrough on marriage equality, the parliamentary year ended with Australia’s politicians unable to find a way to remove legislative exemptions allowing religious schools to discriminate against LGBTI pupils and teachers.

Advocates and the Labor opposition rejected government amendments that sought to stop schools being able to exclude students on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics, but would also allow them to enforce rules in line with their religious teachings.


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on December 9th 2018. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits & Tweets added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Anonymous Launches Cyber Attacks Against Democratic Republic of The Congo Ahead of 2018 Elections

For those of you whom are not already aware, in the “Democratic” Republic of the Congo (DRC) exists a “President,” Joseph Kabila, whom refuses to honor his countries constitution or leave political office. In fact, President Kabila only remains in power to this day after refusing to leave office or hold/host national elections in 2016, once his Presidential term limits were originally set to expire. To this day Kabila insists that it was never his intention to become the Congo’s newest  “Dictator,” rather, he simply believed it was too dangerous for his country to leave office, and that the country wasn’t ready to fully embrace “Democracy” at the time. So, to cement his power in office and buy his country some more time, Kabila proceeded to obstruct the organization of elections, closed media outlets and banned protests, forced a series of new laws through the DRC’s high court and as a result, remains in power to this day. With that said however, his rein of tyranny may soon be coming to an end.

November 23rd 2018 officially marked the start of the DRC’s election season, and the country is now set to host Presidential, National Assembly and Provincial Assembly elections for the first time in years on December 21st, 2018. Competitions for these positions has also sent the country into a political/electoral fervor. For example, as was reported by Amnesty International last week, as of November 21st 2018, “Over 40 million people have been registered to vote in the 23 December election in which more than 15,000 candidates who will contest 500 seats in the National Assembly, and more than 19,000 candidates for the country’s 26 provincial assembly seats.

Despite progress however, President Kabila continues to enforce “a blanket ban on protests” – other than those being organized by individuals working directly on behalf of the President himself, that is. Additionally, “opposition supporters, as well as people calling for improvements to security and services, have faced threats, intimidation, harassment, arrests and violent dispersal often resulting in deaths and injuries.” Over the course of the last 3 years alone, its estimated that over 300 people have been killed in various National protests, and thousands more arrested.

Despite the fact that President Kabila’s time in office is set to expire next month, again, there is still fear that he may once again refuse to step down or leave power if his nominations/political party is not elected in his place – though that remains to be seen. Moreover, Kabila has made it clear that he does not support or stand for the countries upcoming elections or its protests, and maintains that the Democratic process isn’t in the best interest of his country. Consequentially enough, Anonymous and other political activists alike refuse to stand for him, or his Government, and have been organizing a series of cyber attacks/protests of their own.

For example, this past weekend, in support/honor of the start of the DRC’s election season, Anonymous hackers launched a series of online attacks against President Kabila and offices attached to his Government, managing to take down over a dozens sites. Hackers have also expressed that this is only the beginning, they will continue to target Kabila’s Government and the next wave of attacks are said to threaten Congolese banking systems. Meanwhile, protesters on the ground have also managed to shut down various Government agencies/institutions as well, including the US Embassy in Kinshasa. In conjunction with the cyber attacks, Anonymous has left the following message for Joseph Kabila:

Greetings Congo government, we are Anonymous. We have watched your crimes and oppression against your people. Over 300 people have been killed in protests since 2015 to demand free and fair elections. You have failed as a government. Now you will pay for what you did! Dictators should always expect Anonymous!

Primary Sites Downed in The Attack (Only a FEW):

hxxp://www.diplomatie.congo.gouv.cd/
hxxps://plan.gouv.cd/
hxxp://www.dgi.gouv.cd/
hxxps://www.budget.gouv.cd/
hxxp://www.medd.gouv.cd/
hxxp://fonctionpublique.gouv.cd/
hxxps://www.primature.cd/
hxxp://www.presidentrdc.cd/
hxxp://www.presidentrdc.cd/

#OpCongo Site List:https://hastebin.com/oxavoracel.rb

Learn More – Everything You Need To Know About The Current Situation/State of Affairs Inside The DRC: https://www.amnesty.org/en/search/?country=38588

 

Online Activists Launch Massive Crowd-Sourcing Campaign To Document, Map & Decode Raqqa’s Destruction

(AI) – Thousands of digital activists around the world will take part in an innovative new crowdsourcing data project Amnesty International is launching today, which uses satellite imagery to help plot how the US-led military coalition’s bombings destroyed almost 80% of the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Strike Tracker” is the next phase of an in-depth Amnesty International investigation, in partnership with Airwars, into the shocking scale of civilian casualties resulting from four months of US, UK and French bombardment to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) from Raqqa. Amnesty International’s field investigations and analysis since the battle ended in October 2017 presented compelling evidence of apparent violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by the US-led Coalition. They prompted the Coalition to revise its civilian death toll statistics upwards of 300%.

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Based on our meticulous on-the-ground investigations, hundreds of interviews amid the rubble of Raqqa, and expert military and geospatial analysis, we’ve been able to push the US-led coalition to admit to almost every civilian death case we’ve documented so far. But with bodies still being recovered from the wreckage and mass graves more than a year later, this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Milena Marin, Senior Adviser for Tactical Research on Amnesty International’s Crisis Response team. “There is a mountain of evidence left to sift through, and the scale of the civilian devastation is simply too large for us to do this alone. With thousands of ‘Strike Trackers’ on the case to help us narrow down precisely when and where Coalition air and artillery strikes destroyed buildings, we can significantly scale up our ability to map out the apocalyptic destruction in Raqqa.

Get Started- Project Site Tracker: https://decoders.amnesty.org/projects/strike-tracker

How It Works

Strike Tracker” will allow anybody with a mobile phone or laptop to contribute to Amnesty International’s vital research into the pattern of civilian devastation – including potential violations of the laws of war – that the Coalition has been unable or unwilling to acknowledge so far.

UN data shows that more than 10,000 buildings in Raqqa were destroyed or damaged over the course of the battle in 2017. “Strike Tracker” will help to narrow down the time-frame of the destruction of each of these from months to weeks – or even days. Volunteers will track a building across a timeline of satellite images during the battle, looking for changes and marking the dates before and after the building’s destruction.

It is expected that anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 digital activists will get involved in the month-long project. To ensure data quality, the aim is to have each destroyed building analysed multiple times by multiple trackers.

What Happens Next?

The results of “Strike Tracker” will contribute to Amnesty International’s wider efforts to:

  • raise awareness of the devastating impact on civilians trapped in Raqqa during the battle;
  • move the US-led Coalition’s position on civilian casualties from ongoing denial to accepting greater responsibility and carrying out meaningful investigations; and
  • assist and empower victims’ families and survivors to seek justice and reparation.

In a September 2018 letter to Amnesty International, the US Department of Defense – whose forces carried out most of the air strikes and all the artillery strikes on Raqqa – made clear it accepts no liability for the hundreds of civilian casualties it caused. The Coalition does not plan to compensate survivors and relatives of those killed in Raqqa and refuses to provide further information about the circumstances behind the strikes.

The Coalition’s blatant denials and shoulder-shrugging are unconscionable – their military offensive killed and maimed hundreds of civilians and then left the survivors to pick up the pieces,” said Milena Marin. “The data we glean from ‘Strike Tracker’ will take us one step closer to establishing the staggering scale of civilian casualties and will build on the legal obligation, as well as the moral imperative, for the Coalition to take full responsibility for its actions. It must acknowledge and properly investigate these cases once and for all, paving the way for justice and reparation.

Amnesty International and Airwars will publicize the results of “Strike Tracker” as part of an interactive digital platform in early 2019.

Background on Decoders

Strike Tracker” is the latest in a series of Amnesty International crowdsourcing data projects called Decoders. Since Decoders launched in June 2016, Amnesty International has successfully completed four projects, mobilizing more than 50,000 digital activists from 150 countries. The volunteers sifted through huge volumes of data, processing more than 1.5 million tasks. They helped Amnesty International researchers to analyse the success of urgent action campaignsdetect destroyed villages in remote Darfurhold oil companies to account for thousands of oil spills in Nigeria; and analyse tweets to detect online abuse and threats against women.

Learn More:

Syria – A year after Raqqa, US-led Coalition’s ongoing denials an insult to survivors: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/10/syria-a-year-after-raqqa-us-led-coalitions-ongoing-denials-an-insult-to-survivors/

Syria – Raqqa in ruins and civilians devastated after US-led ‘war of annihilation’: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/06/syria-raqqa-in-ruins-and-civilians-devastated-after-us-led-war-of-annihilation/

No Where To Run – Trapped Inside Raqqa Syria: https://raqqa-syria.amnesty.org/


This article was originally published by Amnesty International on November 21st 2018. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and pictures added by Rogue Media Labs

36 Members of Ethiopian Intelligence Charged with Attempted Assassination

Earlier this week Ethiopia’s Attorney General, Berhanu Tsegaye, announced the arrest/indictment of 36 members of the countries national intelligence unit and more than 30 members of Ethiopians military for a terror attack following the election of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed earlier this summer. The arrests come in conclusion to a 5 month investigation, now resulting in senior level officials of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) being charged with attempted assassination.

As was reported by the Ethiopian Observer, the incident in question occurred on June 23rd 2018, when a previously unknown group of assailants threw grenades into a crowded rally being held in support of Prime Minister Abiy. Two people were killed in the attack. According to their report, “Oromo ethnic groups were deliberately recruited to carry out the attack, to give the impression that the Prime Minister was killed by his own ethnic group members,” Berhanu told a press conference. If you were unaware, the Oromo people have been at the forefront of Ethiopian political discussion and conflict dating back to 2015, when the Government run by then President Mulatu Teshome was known to have killed hundreds of Oromo protesters – essentially making them the perfect scapegoat for “political attacks” in 2018. Indubitably, this is why the Ethiopian Intelligence community tried to frame them.

However, as a separate report from Al-Arabia concludes, the attacks were specifically coordinated to sabotage Ahmed’s reformations of various state run agencies, as well the Grand Renaissance Dam Project, a highly controversial, but highly profitable, National project which has the potential to make Ethiopia the continents single largest energy exporter over the years to come. Though the dam promises to bring in untold amounts of new income into the country, the dam project has fallen significantly behind schedule and has come under fierce scrutiny from countries downstream – most namely Egypt. In fact, some have even speculated that the Grand Renaissance Dam project itself might one day spark War between Ethiopia and Egypt.

As it turns out, in the months following the foiled assassination attempt, Prime Minister Ahmed removed and replaced several construction teams developing the dam, and has procured new international partnerships with foreign investors totaling more than 2 billion dollars. The arrests announced this week come as part of a much broader national initiative to cut down on human right violators inside the country and clean up Ethiopia’s image with the international community. Prime Minister Abiy promises more crackdowns like this over the months and years to come.