Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fukushima Five Years Later: “The Fuel Rods Melted Through Containment And Nobody Knows Where They Are Now”

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Today, Japan marks the fifth anniversary of the tragic and catastrophic meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant. On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the northeast coast of Japan, killing 20,000 people. Another 160,000 then fled the radiation in Fukushima. It was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, and according to some it would be far worse, if the Japanese government did not cover up the true severity of the devastation.
At least 100,000 people from the region have not yet returned to their homes. A full cleanup of the site is expected to take at least 40 years. Representative of the families of the victims spoke during Friday’s memorial ceremony in Tokyo. This is what Kuniyuki Sakuma, a former resident of Fukushima Province said:
For those who remain, we are seized with anxieties and uncertainties that are beyond words. We spend life away from our homes. Families are divided and scattered. As our experiences continue into another year, we wonder: ‘When will we be able to return to our homes? Will a day come when our families are united again?’
There are many problems in areas affected by the disaster, such as high radiation levels in parts of Fukushima Prefecture that need to be overcome. Even so, as a representative of the families that survived the disaster, I make a vow once more to the souls and spirits of the victims of the great disaster; I vow that we will make the utmost efforts to continue to promote the recovery and reconstruction of our hometowns.
Sadly, the 2011 disaster will be repeated. After the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, Japan was flooded with massive anti-nuclear protests which led to a four-year nationwide moratorium on nuclear plants. The moratorium was lifted, despite sweeping opposition, last August and nuclear plants are being restarted.
Meanwhile, while we await more tragedy out of the demographically-doomed nation, this is what Fukushima’s ground zero looks like five years later. As Reuters sums it up best,  “no place for man, or robot.
The robots sent in to find highly radioactive fuel at Fukushima’s nuclear reactors have “died”; a subterranean “ice wall” around the crippled plant meant to stop groundwater from becoming contaminated has yet to be finished. And authorities still don’t know how to dispose of highly radioactive water stored in an ever mounting number of tanks around the site.
Five years ago, one of the worst earthquakes in history triggered a 10-metre high tsunami that crashed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station causing multiple meltdowns. Nearly 19,000 people were killed or left missing and 160,000 lost their homes and livelihoods.
Today, the radiation at the Fukushima plant is still so powerful it has proven impossible to get into its bowels to find and remove the extremely dangerous blobs of melted fuel rods.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power has made some progress, such as removing hundreds of spent fuel roads in one damaged building. But the technology needed to establish the location of the melted fuel rods in the other three reactors at the plant has not been developed.
“It is extremely difficult to access the inside of the nuclear plant,” Naohiro Masuda, Tepco’s head of decommissioning said in an interview. “The biggest obstacle is the radiation.”
The fuel rods melted through their containment vessels in the reactors, and no one knows exactly where they are now. This part of the plant is so dangerous to humans, Tepco has been developing robots, which can swim under water and negotiate obstacles in damaged tunnels and piping to search for the melted fuel rods.
But as soon as they get close to the reactors, the radiation destroys their wiring and renders them useless, causing long delays, Masuda said.
Each robot has to be custom-built for each building.“It takes two years to develop a single-function robot,” Masuda said.
Tepco, which was fiercely criticized for its handling of the disaster, says conditions at the Fukushima power station, site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in Ukraine 30 years ago, have improved dramatically. Radiation levels in many places at the site are now as low as those in Tokyo.
More than 8,000 workers are at the plant at any one time, according to officials on a recent tour. Traffic is constant as they spread across the site, removing debris, building storage tanks, laying piping and preparing to dismantle parts of the plant.
Much of the work involves pumping a steady torrent of water into the wrecked and highly radiated reactors to cool them down. Afterward, the radiated water is then pumped out of the plant and stored in tanks that are proliferating around the site.
What to do with the nearly million tonnes of radioactive water is one of the biggest challenges, said Akira Ono, the site manager. Ono said he is “deeply worried” the storage tanks will leak radioactive water in the sea – as they have done several times before – prompting strong criticism for the government.
The utility has so far failed to get the backing of local fishermen to release water it has treated into the ocean.
Ono estimates that Tepco has completed around 10 percent of the work to clear the site up – the decommissioning process could take 30 to 40 years. But until the company locates the fuel, it won’t be able to assess progress and final costs, experts say.
The much touted use of X-ray like muon rays has yielded little information about the location of the melted fuel and the last robot inserted into one of the reactors sent only grainy images before breaking down.
Tepco is building the world’s biggest ice wall to keep  groundwater from flowing into the basements of the damaged reactors and getting contaminated.
First suggested in 2013 and strongly backed by the government, the wall was completed in February, after months of delays and questions surrounding its effectiveness. Later this year, Tepco plans to pump water into the wall – which looks a bit like the piping behind a refrigerator – to start the freezing process.
Stopping the ground water intrusion into the plant is critical, said Arnie Gunderson, a former nuclear engineer.
“The reactors continue to bleed radiation into the ground water and thence into the Pacific Ocean,” Gunderson said. “When Tepco finally stops the groundwater, that will be the end of the beginning.”
While he would not rule out the possibility that small amounts of radiation are reaching the ocean, Masuda, the head of decommissioning, said the leaks have ended after the company built a wall along the shoreline near the reactors whose depth goes to below the seabed.
“I am not about to say that it is absolutely zero, but because of this wall the amount of release has dramatically dropped,” he said.

Activists in Central America Fear for Their Lives in Wake of Assassinations

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Early in the morning of March 3, gunmen entered the house of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in La Esperanza, Honduras, and assassinated the high-profile indigenous Lenca leader. The assassination comes after an escalation of a conflict over the construction of the Agua Zarca hydro project on the sacred Gualcarque River in the community of Agua Blanca. This assassination has sent shock waves across the region and put activists in similar struggles on edge.
Cáceres had cofounded the powerful Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) in 1993, and the group soon became involved in many of the social conflicts across Honduras. The organization had supported indigenous and campesino communities in their struggles against the dispossession of land and in their efforts to gain the legal rights to ancestral land.
The March 3 shooting has also left Gustavo Castro Soto, an anti-mining activist from Mexico, in a precarious situation. Castro Soto, who is the coordinator for Otros Mundos Chiapas and a coordinator for Mesoamerican Movement Against the Extractive Mining Model (M4), had been staying at Cáceres' house to provide accompaniment in the hopes of deterring violence against her the night of her assassination.
He was shot two times, but survived. Cáceres died in his arms.
 "The assassins who have killed Bertha [sic] and attempted [to] murder me remain unpunished as the government seeks to undermine the memory of Bertha and the honor and the magnificent struggle COPINH has done for many years in the defense of life, territories and human rights," Castro Soto wrote in a message to friends and supporters on March 4. "The murder of Bertha could mean for many businesses and interests the opportunity to advance their territories. But the COPINH is stronger than ever and [needs] the solidarity of all people to join their struggle, with solidarity and with the memory of Bertha in our hands."
Following the assassination, the Honduran government quickly detained Castro Soto for "questioning." According to Castro Soto, he was initially granted permission to leave the country but was detained again at customs.
His life remains at risk.
"Hit men already know that I did not die," Castro Soto wrote in his message. "And surely they will be willing to fulfill their task."
On March 15, Nelson García, another leader with COPINH, was assassinated in the community of Río Chiquito in the department of Cortes, Honduras. These latest assassinations in Honduras have put the region on edge.
Cáceres and García were outspoken critics of the United States' roll in legitimating the 2009 coup, and critical of the advancement of the extractive industries in indigenous territory. Cáceres had many supporters and friends across the border in Guatemala, which has been the site of similar conflicts. But the assassination of Cáceres has sent a chilling message to more than just the movements in Honduras, but also to other movements in defense of territory across the region.
"This is a message to the populations that if they don't accept the multinational companies, then their lives will be at threat," Raúl Zibechi, a Uruguayan journalist and social movement analyst, told Truthout. "But this message is not only a message for the people that resist, but including the governments that may not be complicit, in the sense that financial capital will do whatever it needs to do to do business."
He added, "This is a situation that is very complex ... and very dramatic, because those who are gaining from the projects will not leave their projects. This is because we live in a world that is dominated by financial capital -- they will use whatever force is necessary."
Activists in the region agree with Zibechi's analysis of the critical situation in Central America.
"This is a powerful and aggressive message to all the people and communities that defend the natural resources and are under the threat of dispossession and expropriation," Andrea Ixchíu, a young activist and human rights defender in Guatemala, told Truthout. "Berta was a woman who was a very visible person. It shows us that capital will do what it needs to do to clear the way for the ability to take resources."
"Berta was a very strong and valiant woman," Ixchíu told Truthout. "She was important to the movement in the defense of territory in Central America."
Facilitating the Continued Colonization of the Region
The situation in Honduras has greatly deteriorated in the years following the coup d'état against the nation's democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, in June 2009. The subsequent administrations have declared Honduras "open for business," and actively sought foreign investment in key sectors, such as energy production.
This brought companies to the region seeking to exploit its abundant natural resources. The construction of this project comes as part of the regional integration plan, as called for by Plan Mesoamerica, and strengthened through the Alliance for Prosperity.
The 21.3-megawatt Agua Zarca hydro project was originally proposed by the Honduran company Desarrollos Energeticos SA (DESA) in 2009, with investments coming from the Chinese energy firm Sinohydro and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration. Yet like many other conflicts across the region, the project was imposed upon the community, which was a member of COPINH, without the legally required prior consultation. The villagers of Rio Blanco successfully stopped the dam construction for over a year. Cáceres was very involved in that struggle.
In 2013, Cáceres' name appeared on a leaked "kill list," alongside the names of other activists, journalists and politicians.
These threats came until the day she was assassinated. According to Jesus Garza from the Honduran Coalition for People's Action, members of the Guatemalan oligarchy had called for Cáceres to be stopped at any cost because she was standing in the way of "development."
Three days before the murder, Aline Flores, who was until recently the chairman of the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP), "said in a televised interview that people like Berta Cáceres and organizations like COPINH were detrimental to the country, and they had to be stopped," Garza told Truthout. "He didn't say that she needed to be killed, but it is understood he meant that their actions needed to be stopped at any cost."
The Agua Zarca project is one of 40 hydro projects in indigenous territory in Honduras. These projects are also accompanied by nearly 50 mining projects. These conflicts in Honduras have been reflected in other parts of Central America, such as Guatemala where there are nearly 230 energy projects underway.
"We are seeing that we are standing in front [of] the same model of neoliberalism where the state privileges foreign investment, as well as investments by the corrupt national capital, which together impose projects on communities that they call development, but really these are models that prolong the colonization of communities," Ixchíu told Truthout. "The use of the word of development by the colonists and capitalists is troubling. It makes us believe that the thinking and the knowledge of the ancestors and the modes of life are behind, or (antiquated). But when one follows these understandings, knowledge and modes of life, they can actually maintain a better relationship with nature and life."
She added, "These types of agreements, such as the free trade agreements, Plan Puebla-Panama, Plan Mesoamerica, and now the Alliance for Prosperity, all come from the same perverse economic interests, ... such as the World Bank, and the same persecution that comes from the United States that drives the dispossession, expropriation and the criminalization."
This dispossession has directly impacted the indigenous communities of Mesoamerica.
The "War Against Humanity"
Violence against social movements has been the norm across the region, despite the end of wars in El Salvador and Guatemala with the signing of peace accords in the 1990s. The weight of the violence has consistently fallen on the indigenous and campesino communities that resist neoliberal reforms, trade agreements that favor transnational companies and the expansion of the accumulation of capital based on the exploitation of natural resources.
Cáceres wasn't the first member of the movement murdered over the resistance to the construction of the Agua Zarca dam project. In 2013, fellow founder of COPINH, Tomás García, was shot and killed by a Honduran soldier during a peaceful protest outside the construction site. His son was severely injured in the shooting.
 "The colonial model hasn't left; they continue to evict indigenous communities," Ixchíu told Truthout. She added thatRigoberto Juarez, an indigenous leader who has been criminalized in his defense of the environment, "has called this the fourth invasion because sadly we can see that the colonial, the liberal thinking, the military dictators and now the transnational companies have continued to expropriate the lands of indigenous communities. This is a message to indigenous communities of how they will continue to assassinate the people, and how the racism and colonialism is involved in the imposing of these models."
Both Zibechi and Ixchíu also draw parallels between the neocolonization of the region and what Subcomandante Marcos (today known as Galeano) of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) called the "Fourth World War," which is "a war against humanity."
"The assassination of Berta is a symptom of the deepening on the part of the right, of the large companies of the continent involved in the extractive model, which includes open-air mining, mega-infrastructure projects -- such as the case of Honduras -- and speculation of land in the urban areas," Zibechi told Truthout. "This model is the base of the violence that led to the assassination of Berta, and the violence that millions of activists suffer in Latin America."
This "war against humanity" has impacted the movements across the region.
In Guatemala, in April 2013, Daniel Pedro Mateo, the founder of the communityradio station Snuq' Jolom Konob, was kidnapped and found murdered 12 days later in the community of Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango. Pedro Mateo had been an outspoken critic and organizer against the construction of a series of hydroelectric projects across northern Huehuetenango in the territory of the Q'anjab'al and Chuj Mayan communities.
These tactics against environmental activists have remained the preferred strategy to silence dissent in other conflicts as well.
Also in Guatemala, on September 18, 2015, Rigoberto Lima, a rural schoolteacher that had worked tirelessly to hold a large palm company accountable for the contamination of the Pasión River in the department of Peten, was assassinated outside the Sayaxché courthouse. There has yet to be an investigation into his death.
There are hundreds of similar stories from across Central America. But this is the sad reality of the region, especially for indigenous communities, and for those, such as Cáceres, who struggle in the defense of their rights and territory.
"We live at a moment of another genocide," Ixchíu said. "But today it is for the benefit of the state and companies. Before this was done in the name of 'anti-communism.' Today, they call us terrorists because we dare to protect what little we have left, the water and nature."

The crimes behind the US lead water crisis

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On Tuesday, Marc Edwards, a professor of civil engineering at Virginia Tech University and the leading expert on lead contamination in drinking water, testified before the US Congress on the ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Dr. Edwards had likely read an advance copy of a report in this week’s edition of USA Today, which quoted him extensively, reporting that lead had been found in the drinking water of hundreds of schools and child care centers throughout the country. The report suggested, based on an independent analysis of government data, that as many as one-fifth of water systems in the US have dangerous levels of lead contamination.
Speaking in a restrained tone before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, many of whose members were absent, Edwards described what amounts to a conspiracy by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under two presidential administrations, Republican and Democratic, to allow states and municipalities to falsify water quality testing results.
EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman, Edwards said, “aided, abetted and emboldened the unethical behavior of civil servants at the State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.” Referring to a case of lead contamination ten years ago in the drinking water of the nation’s capital, Washington DC, Edwards charged that the EPA “wrote falsified scientific reports and created a climate in which anything goes across the United States, anything at all to cover up the health harm from leaded drinking water.”
He expressed perplexity at the “willful blindness” of government officials, who were “unremorseful” and “completely unrepentant.”
Edwards’ comments and the report in USA Today are the latest in a series of revelations on the elevated lead levels present throughout the country’s water systems. Flint is not unique. Reports have pointed to lead levels higher than Flint’s in Cleveland, Ohio, in Jackson, Mississippi and in cities throughout Pennsylvania.
Edwards could not hide his exasperation at one basic reality: “If a landlord were to engage in similar practices, and through their negligence, to allow even a single child to be exposed to lead paint risk, the EPA would argue for prosecution and incarceration. Yet, the EPA has allowed entire cities to be unnecessarily exposed to elevated lead in their drinking water.”
Edwards’ comments raise a critical point: Why is no one being prosecuted for the actions that have created this situation? While various Democratic Party officials have, in an effort at damage control and blame shifting, suggested that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder should resign, no one is calling for his arrest and indictment.
In testimony in the same room two days later, Snyder, whose administration covered up the poisoning of residents for at least a year, declared, “Local, state and federal officials—we all failed the families of Flint.”
No, these officials did not “fail” Flint residents, as if it were a matter of miscalculations or missteps. Rather, they knowingly made decisions that have led to permanent disabilities and impairments of untold thousands of children and have been linked to at least ten deaths from an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease, then hid and doctored evidence showing that the city’s water was not safe to drink.
At the federal level, the EPA under the Bush and Obama administrations has allowed cities throughout the country to willfully ignore the government’s own standards. The consequences of these actions are not yet known. How many people have suffered needlessly from permanent brain damage or other effects of high lead levels? How many people have died?
The United States spends over a trillion dollars a year on its military, which President Obama bragged at this year’s State of the Union address was bigger than that of the next 10 countries combined. It is home to as many billionaires as the next five countries combined. Even as a radical expansion of the military is underway, public capital investment in transportation and water infrastructure has been slashed by 23 percent since 2003. The cuts to education, health care and other social spending are comparable.
The crisis in Flint follows a pattern in which preventable catastrophes are inflicted on the population, and no one is held responsible. A hurricane can largely destroy one of the most important cities in the country, New Orleans, due to the underfunding of infrastructure, leading to more than a thousand deaths, and no one goes to jail.
The banks and investors produce a financial disaster and a global economic crisis, and no one is punished. Revelations of the manipulation of exchange rates and actions to defraud people of their homes have produced at most wrist-slap penalties. The US government has launched wars based on lies, the CIA has tortured prisoners, then hacked government computers to cover it up, and again, no one is prosecuted, let alone convicted.
The actions of government officials are dictated by the character of the social system that they defend, one that is based on the subordination of everything to the interests of the financial and corporate elite. That the United States is run in the interests of a criminal cabal has received yet another confirmation in the catastrophe in Flint and what it has exposed about the state of infrastructure in the country as a whole.

Serious Systematic Human Rights Violations Against the People of Yemen

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IDO, together with Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, and Arabian Rights Watch Association, express our utmost concern over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its Coalition’s (the “Saudi-led Coalition’s”)
a) ongoing serious and systematic violations of rights in Yemen, including political, economic, human, and humanitarian rights.  These ongoing and systematic violations come in the form of:
i) airstrikes on civilian targets that include the use of internationally banned cluster munitions and
ii) a comprehensive indiscriminate land, air, and sea blockade. We also express our deep concern with the Saudi-led Coalition’s
b) continued lack of cooperation with the United Nations (UN).  The Saudi-led Coalition, along with Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s Yemeni government in exile, does not cooperate with the UN. This has been observed in their: i) designation of the OHCHR representative as persona non grata;
ii) non-observance and non-implementation of recommendations made in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR);
and iii) the inability of Hadi’s exiled government’s national commission to investigate the violations of the laws of war by any party to the war on Yemen.
We bring to your attention that political negotiations were ongoing in Yemen and would have led to a power-sharing government inclusive of all Yemeni parties and factions but for the Saudi-led war, which interfered with that political dialogue and, in effect, the rights of the Yemeni people to self determination. We continue to warn that as a consequence of the Saudi-led Coalition’s war, al-Qaeda was able to reclaim territory it had previously lost to the Yemeni army and popular committees. Prior to the war’s outbreak, al-Qaeda controlled only one small desert city, Mukalla.  However, due to the war, al-Qaeda now operates freely in many southern areas, where it commits systematic human rights violations, such as in the port city of Aden and recently in Lahj.
a)  Ongoing Violations of the Laws of War, Human Rights Law, Humanitarian Law
i) Airstrikes on civilian targets that include the use of internationally banned cluster munitions
In the first 300 days of the war, a total of 8,143 civilians were documented to have been killed by Saudi-led Coalition airstrikes.  4,628 were men (56%), 1,519 were women (19%), and 1,996 were children (25%).  The total number of civilians wounded due to the indiscriminate airstrikes exceeds 15,000. 512 bridges were destroyed along with 125 power plants, 164 water stations, 167 telecom stations, 14 airports, 10 sea ports, 325,000 residential homes, 238 hospitals and clinics, 39 colleges and universities, 569 schools and causing 3,750 others to close down.
In addition to the indiscriminate use of air power to attack civilian populations, the Saudi-led coalition has also been documented to have used internationally banned cluster munitions in violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality, and military necessity.
Cluster Munitions
The Saudi-led Coalition’s repeated use of internationally banned cluster munitions in civilian areas may indicate a degree of intent to harm civilians, a threshold that, when passed, amounts to war crimes. Throughout the last year, 5 different types of cluster munitions have been documented to have been used by the Saudi-led Coalition in civilian areas. Between April and July 2015 the Saudi-led coalition forces used cluster munitions in at least seven attacks in Yemen’s northwestern Hajja governorate, killing and wounding dozens of civilians.  More recently, in the early morning of January 6, 2016, the Saudi-led coalition dropped cluster bombs in heavily populated residential neighborhoods of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, including Madbah, Sawad Hanash, Al-Sunaina, Hayel Street, Al-Rabat Street, Al-Ziraa zone, Kuwait Street, Tunis Street, the university zone, and Bir Al-Shaif.
The cluster bombs killed at least one child, injured ten others, and damaged residential property and cars in the vicinity.  A school for girls was also partially damaged.  The areas the Saudi-led Coalition bombed are densely populated with civilians living in close proximity to schools, hospitals, and markets.  They have no military protection.
ii) Imposition of a comprehensive indiscriminate land, air and sea blockade by the Saudi-led Coalition
The Saudi-led Coalition has abused the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) Resolution 2216 to justify its blockade of Yemen.  UNSC Resolution 2216 is an arms embargo on named individuals.  It does not sanction the withholding of food, medical, and fuel supplies from Yemen by a warring party who has committed, and continues to commit, serious and gross violations of the laws of war, human rights, and humanitarian law.  Given the UNSC’s mandate to maintain peace, stability, and security among nation-states, the UN should extend the embargo to the member states of the Saudi-led Coalition.
The Saudi-led Coalition’s abuse of Resolution 2216 has played an integral role in the food insecurity of an estimated 14.4 million Yemenis, 7.4 million of whom are severely food insecure. Moreover, hundreds of hospitals and clinics have shut down due to the Saudi-led Coalition’s airstrikes and blockade.  The blocking of critical fuel and medical supplies is causing an estimated 15 million Yemeni people to be without adequate access to basic healthcare needs.
b)       Lack of Cooperation With UN
i) Lack of cooperation with OHCHR Representative
We bring to your attention our continued concern with the Hadi government in exile’s lack of cooperation with George Abu al-Zulof, the OHCHR representative in Yemen, by recently designating him as persona non grata due to his documentation of human rights violations in Yemen.  It is concerning that the High Commissioner for Human Rights had to emphatically remind Hadi and the Saudi-led Coalition that the UN’s job “is not to highlight violations committed by one side and ignore those committed by the other.”  The UN Human Rights Council tasked the same person who deemed the OHCHR representative persona non grata with implementing a resolution adopted by consensus that calls for the National Commission to investigate the crimes being committed by all parties to the war in Yemen.  Despite Hadi’s subsequent retraction, his status as part of the Saudi-led Coalition, coupled with his statements and actions, makes him unfit for the position as a neutral arbiter with respect to the crimes being committed.
ii) Non-observance or implementation of the UPR recommendations
We express our concern with Hadi’s inability to implement the UPR recommendations, namely the ratification of the Rome Statute by Parliament.  The Rome Statute is critical to seeking redress for the crimes in the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction that were, and continue to be, committed against civilians in Yemen.  Because there is no functioning government on the ground, Hadi will not be able to complete the ratification process nor would it be in his interest to do so if he actually had a functioning government since he is an integral accomplice to the commission of crimes in Yemen and cannot be reasonably expected to prosecute himself nor the Coalition he is a part of.
iii) Inability of Hadi’s national commission to investigate the crimes being committed in Yemen
We express our deep regret and sincere disappointment with the decision to withdraw the draft resolution tabled by the Netherlands in the 30th Session.  Our reservations with the Resolution tabled by Saudi Arabia and that was adopted by consensus (A/HRC/30/L.1/Rev.2) include, but are not limited to, the acknowledgement of Hadi’s Presidential Decree No. 13, which calls for the establishment of a National Commission that will not meet international standards.  Moreover, there are no legal grounds for the establishment of a National Commission by a government in exile.  The legislature, the judiciary, and the executive, should facilitate the implementation of these obligations.   Given that the Hadi government is not functioning in Yemen, it cannot carry out its duty of investigations in Yemen. In addition, the National Commission is biased.  This is demonstrated by the decree itself, the purpose of which is to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by local parties without reference to the crimes being committed by the Coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
At the 31st Session of the Human Rights Council, IDO together with Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, and Arabian Rights Watch Association, urge UN Member States to renew their calls to:
  • Set up an independent international commission of inquiry into the crimes being committed by any party to the war on Yemen.
  • Call for the imposition of an arms embargo on the Saudi-led Coalition.
  • Call for an end to the war on Yemen both the airstrikes and the blockade and full withdrawal of all foreign forces from the territory of Yemen.
  • Facilitate humanitarian access to impoverished areas.
  • Provide support to Yemen in its struggle against violent extremist forces.
  • Facilitate Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue without foreign intervention.
Arabian Rights Watch Association (ARWA) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization based in the District of Columbia and is comprised of global members including human rights activists, lawyers, professionals and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities.