Human Rights Watch Implicates Taliban in Mass Killings
Human Rights Watch released a report Saturday documenting a massacre by the Taliban that occurred in Mazar-i Sharif in northern Afghanistan on August 8, 1998. The Taliban targeted a minority ethnic group, the Hazaras, who practice a form of Muslim different from the Taliban. The Taliban actions in Mazar-i Sharif demonstrate a calculated and purposeful intent to seek out and kill the members of this particular minority group.
Hazaras practice Shi'a Muslim while the Taliban practice Sunni Muslim. For days after the initial attack, Taliban soldiers conducted house to house searches during which they asked the inhabitants whether or not they could recite Sunni prayers. The recitation of the prayer would prove that they were not Hazara. Hazara men were taken from their homes and executed soon after, making this one of Afghanistan's worse mass killings since the beginning of the civil war.
One reason why this attack may have been so brutal is because Mazar-i Sharif repelled an attempt made by the Taliban to take the city in 1997. In order to quell any subsequent uprising, the Taliban, upon entering the city, shot at everyone in what has been described as a "killing frenzy."
Human Rights Watch has urged the United Nations to investigate this massacre in order to determine the full extent of the abuses that occurred. Patricia Gossman, senior researcher of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division, discussed the value of such an investigation, "Determining the truth about what happened would represent the first step toward accountability. It could also provide a means toward breaking the cycle of revenge killings that has characterized the civil war in Afghanistan."
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .