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Human Rights Watch Daily Brief, 30 October 2013

In today's Brief: Starvation as a war tactic in Syria; Saudi Arabia arrests journalist who backed women drivers; NSA reform; domestic workers' rights in Indonesia; freedom of information in Sierra Leone; trying to ban protest in Egypt; and China's Tiananmen "traffic incident".


  1. The UN conducted its first-ever human rights investigation into North Korea today, taking evidence on gross human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.
  2. The harrowing testimony of the witnesses reduced inquiry chief, Michael Kirby, to tears.
  3. In the flurry of bills designed to rein in the National Security Agency, Congress is missing some critical points.
  4. Today we learned that the US government is siphoning off massive data from Google and Yahoo communications links outside the US. Yet none of the proposed bills require the US government to respect the privacy of foreigners abroad.  
  5. The Syrian government is using starvation as a war tactic, according to a new Reuters article. The BBC has reported on the desperate people fleeing Moadamyeh, a suburb of Damascus, which has been under siege for months.
  6. Looking beyond the chemical weapons deal, Kenneth Roth looks at next steps to stopping the slaughter in Syria, much of which is due to the use of conventional weapons that the Syrian military has used to kill tens of thousands.
  7. Stepping up the pressure on Russia is key. The chemical weapons deal shows that when Russian President Vladimir Putin tells Assad to do something, he does it. 
  8. In Indonesia, government official continue to coddle thugs who preach religious intolerance and violence towards religious minorities.
  9. If President Yudhoyono wants to demonstrate he’s serious about defending religious freedom, he can start by sacking ministers who do nothing to confront Indonesia’s forces of religious intolerance. Photo Essay >>