Agence France Presse reports below on UN Watch’s launch of an appeal by 30 rights groups and dissidents urging UN action for the release of 26-year-old Egyptian political prisoner Maikel Nabil (above). Click here for text and list of signatories. Prof. Irwin Cotler, Canadian MP and board member of UN Watch, is Mr. Nabil’s legal counsel. 

Rights groups urge Egypt to free jailed blogger

GENEVA, Dec. 29 – Thirty rights groups and activists united on Thursday in a call for Egypt to release a jailed blogger who has been staging a hunger strike since August.

A military court sentenced Michael Nabil, 26, to three years in prison in April for insulting the armed forces on his blog.

“If Michael Nabil perishes, so does the dream of a free Egypt,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch.

The coalition has appealed to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, rights commissioner Navi Pillay and several UN special rapporteurs to highlight Nabil’s case and press the Egyptian authorities to release him…

Nabil is now consuming only water in place of the juice he was previously accepting, UN Watch said, and his condition is believed to be “dire”.

Other signatories to Thursday’s appeal included the Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights and the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society.

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Two days ago, when the UN flew its flag at half-mast (above right) to mourn the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, UN Watch was the first in the world to speak out. Our demand for UN moral clarity prompted news articles and editorials around the globe:

REUTERS: U.N. lowers flag to half-staff for Kim funeral
U.N. offices around the world lowered their flags to half-staff to mark the funeral of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on Wednesday in a move the world body said was routine but which prompted objections from some human rights activists.UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey said the gesture had been requested by Pyongyang’s U.N. mission but was normal for the funeral of any head of state. But UN Watch, a Geneva-based advocacy group,said the U.N. human rights message was “at serious risk of being blurred today” because of the honoring of Kim, who died on December 17. “Today should be a time for the U.N. to show solidarity with the victims – the millions of North Koreans brutalized by Kim’s merciless policies of starvation, torture and oppression – and not with the perpetrator,” the group’s executive director, Hillel Neuer, said in a statement.

CNS NEWS: U.N. Urged to Support Oppressed North Koreans After Flying Its Flag at Half-Staff During Kim’s Funeral
U.N. Watch urged the U.N.’s South Korean Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and the world body’s Geneva-based High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, “to make clear that today’s gesture in no way signals respect for a mass murderer of his own people, a man personally responsible for some of the worst atrocities of our time….”

AFP: UN flags at half-mast to mark Kim’s funeral
Choi Soung-ah, a spokeswoman for UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, said it was customary practice for the UN flag to be lowered to half-mast upon the deaths of leaders of UN member states. The non-governmental organization UN Watch said while protocol had to be followed, “the world body must not forget that its founding purpose is to defend basic human rights.”

  “Human rights group U.N. Watch sends out this photo of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva flying its flag at half mast for the funeral of dead North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il” —U.N. Lowers Flag for Kim Jong Il

 


EDITORIAL: Kim Jong-il not to be mourned
It is absurd that flags were lowered to half-mast at UN offices. The funeral has shown how much more threatening North Korea has become under Kim’s evil rule. There is no reason to mourn his passing. As the UN Watch organisation has pointed out, the UN’s founding ideal was to defend human rights, whereas Kim mercilessly ground them underfoot. The hapless North Korean people have no option but to join in the officially ordered funeral hysteria. The rest of the world has a choice. It should miss no opportunity to relay to new ruler Kim Jong-un that his country cannot continue along the same mad course set by his father.


EDITORIAL:
UN body’s half-baked half-mast gesture; Where are Team America when you need them?
They should have parachuted into Geneva this week and raised the flags at the UN’s Human Rights Council where they were flying at half-mast to honour the dead dictator Kim Jong-il. The human rights group UN Watch called on the UN to show equal sympathy for the victims of Kim’s ruthless regime… The world should mourn for the North Koreans who face ongoing oppression under the dynastic dictatorship.

Le drapeau en berne de l’ONU fait polémique
L’Organisation des Nations unies a rendu hommage à l’ancien dirigeant nord-coréen en mettant en berne son drapeau…En réaction, l’association UN Watch a dit “admettre que l’ONU suit un protocole diplomatique, mais l’organisation mondiale ne doit pas oublier que son objectif fondateur est de défendre les droits de l’homme et malheureusement ce message court un risque grave d’être occulté aujourd’hui”.

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    La bandera de la ONU ondeaba a media asta este miércoles en Nueva York y en Ginebra debido a la muerte del líder de Corea del Norte, Kim Jong il, un homenaje que provocó críticas de una organización humanitaria… La organización UN Watch dijo que si bien “la ONU sigue un protocolo diplomático, la organización mundial no debe olvidar que su objetivo fundante es la defensa de los derechos del hombre y que desafortunadamente este mensaje corre hoy un grave riesgo de ser eclipsado”.
  • Netherlands (on page 1 of Trouw newspaper): VN-vlaggen wereldwijd halfstok voor Kim Jong-il
    ‘Vandaag zou de VN blijk moeten geven van solidariteit met de slachtoffers, de miljoenen Noord-Koreanen die lijden onder Kim’s genadeloze beleid van verhongering, marteling en onderdrukking’,stelde UN Watch, een non-gouvernementele organisatie die de activiteiten van de Verenigde Naties kritisch volgt.
  • Indonesia: PBB Kibarkan Bendera Setengah Tiang untuk Kim Jong Il‎
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