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West’s ‘double standards’ fuel Mideast repression – Amnesty

A leading international rights group has decried what it said were double standards by Western countries that have rallied behind a “robust response” to Russia’s attack on Ukraine but remain “lukewarm” on issues of human rights violations in the Middle East.

Amnesty International said on Tuesday that such double standards only fuel further repression for millions in the region.

The sharp rebuke came as the London-based watchdog launched its annual report at a news conference at its office in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital. Every year, the report documents and analyzes patterns of human rights violations and abuses across the world.

In the report, Amnesty urged the international community to hold perpetrators of human rights abuses in the Middle East and North Africa to account, and to address the issue of migration without discrimination.

“They immediately opened their borders to receive refugees from Ukraine,” Aya Majzoub, Amnesty’s deputy chief for Mideast and North Africa, said of Western nations — a stark contrast to how the same countries generally treat refugees and migrants trying to flee war-torn Syria, the conflict in Libya or Lebanon’s economic meltdown.

Majzoub spoke to The Associated Press in an interview after the news conference. She praised the international community for denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attacks against civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and killing in occupied regions — which a UN-backed inquiry earlier this month said amount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. However, Russia has repeatedly denied accusations that Russian forces were responsible for killing civilians.

But such a strong response was lacking during Syria’s 12-year-old brutal civil war. “That’s perpetuated the culture of impunity and empowered Putin to commit the crimes that he was committing in Ukraine,” she said.

READ MORE: Amnesty accuses Damascus, Moscow of ‘war crimes’ in Syria

Double down on repression 

Amnesty’s report said Middle Eastern governments took advantage of the situation over the past year and doubled down on repressing dissidents while neglecting obligations to respond to economic crises.

The group condemned Iranian authorities for detaining over 20,000 people who took part in months long anti-government protests that erupted last September, following the death of a young woman in the custody of the country’s morality police.

Amnesty also criticised Israel for its ongoing raids on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, with the past months being among the deadliest in years.

In Lebanon, Amnesty chastised the authorities for escalating rhetoric against Syrian refugees instead of undertaking badly needed economic reforms for an International Monetary Fund bailout package.

Amnesty urges ICC investigation into possible Gaza war crimes

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