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Tue 9 Sep 2014 12:03 PM

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New UN rights boss warns of "house of blood" in Iraq, Syria

Jordanian prince gives hard-hitting maiden speech

New UN rights boss warns of "house of blood" in Iraq, Syria
Jordans Zeid Raad al Hussein, the first Muslim to hold the position of UN human rights chief

The new UN human rights chief urged world powers on
Monday to protect women and minorities targeted by ISIL militants in Iraq and
Syria, saying the fighters were trying to create a "house of blood".

Jordan's Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, the first Muslim to
hold the position, called for the international community to focus on ending
the "increasingly conjoined" conflict in the two countries, and
abuses in other hotspots from Ukraine to Gaza.

ISIL's Sunni Muslim fighters have over-run large
parts of Syria and Iraq since June, declaring a cross-border caliphate. The
Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council last week agreed to send a team to
investigate killings and other abuses carried out by the group on "an
unimaginable scale".

Zeid, Jordan's former UN ambassador and a Jordanian
prince, described ISIL in his maiden speech to the Council as
"takfiris" - hardline Sunni militants who justify killing others by
branding them apostates.

"Do they believe they are acting courageously?
Barbarically slaughtering captives? ... They reveal only what a Takfiri state
would look like, should this movement actually try to govern in the future,
said Zeid who succeeds Navi Pillay in the Geneva hotseat.

"It would be a harsh, mean-spirited, house of
blood, where no shade would be offered, nor shelter given, to any non-Takfiri
in their midst," Zeid added.

He called on Iraq's new government and prime
minister to consider joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure
accountability for crimes committed there.

"In particular, dedicated efforts are urgently
needed to protect religious and ethnic groups, children - who are at risk of
forcible recruitment and sexual violence - and women, who have been the targets
of severe restrictions," Zeid said.

The ambassadors of Iraq and Syria, in separate
speeches, called for combating "terrorist groups" in their homelands
and for halting the flow of weapons and funds to Islamist militants.

"Terrorists must not be armed, the source of
financing must be stopped. Infiltration of terrorists from abroad must be
stopped," said Syria's new envoy Hussam Edin Aala.

The Council has an independent investigation into
war crimes by all sides in Syria, where more than 190,000 documented killings
have occurred during the conflict that began in March 2011, according to a
report by Pillay last month.

"In the takfiri mind, as we have seen in
Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Kenya, Somalia, Mali, Libya, Syria and
Iraq ... there is no love of neighbour - only annihilation to those Muslims,
Christians, Jews and others, altogether the rest of humanity, who believe
differently to them," Zeid said.

Zeid called for an end to Israel's seven-year
blockade of the Gaza Strip and said Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank
deserved to lead a normal life free of illegal settlements and what he called
excessive use of force.

"On this point, I also note that Israelis have
a right to live free and secure from indiscriminate rocket fire," he said,
referring to rockets fired by militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Israel's deputy ambassador Omer Caspi chastised the
Council for not naming Hamas as "the perpetrator of war crimes" in a
resolution that set up an inquiry last month on the latest war.

"One cannot allow the institutionalised bias
against Israel to override the international community's position against
terrorism. One cannot allow one country to protect itself against terror and
condemn another for doing just that. It is called double standards and it
should end," Caspi said.

On Ukraine, Zeid said "at least 3,000
people" have been killed since fighting began in April and called on the
Kiev government, armed groups and neighbouring states including Russia to
protect civilians and ensure compliance with international law.

Italy's envoy Maurizio Enrico Serra, speaking on
behalf of the European Union (EU), condemned what it called "the
aggression by Russian armed forces on Ukrainian soil in clear contravention of
international law".

Russia denies accusations by Kiev and the West that
it has sent troops into eastern Ukraine to prop up a revolt by pro-Russian
separatist rebels.

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