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From rape used as a weapon in war in Central African Republic to abuses by Spanish police in Catalonia and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous “war on drugs,” here are Human Rights Watch’s top-viewed videos of the year.

10. Armed groups in the Central African Republic have used rape and sexual slavery as a tactic of war across the country during nearly five years of conflict. Commanders, in some cases, appear to have ordered it.

9. The Islamic State (also known as ISIS) executed and dumped the bodies of possibly hundreds of detainees near Mosul, Iraq, then laid improvised landmines at the site.

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[ISIS] would bring in people every day after 10pm. We could hear the gunshots and the


ISIS executed and dumped the bodies of hundreds of detainees at a site near Mosul, Iraq.

We’ve spoken to villagers, shepherds from the area who were walking around here and who witnessed executions, executions of truckloads of men, sometimes even women, who were loaded off trucks, walked up the hill, lined up and pushed into this pit known as Khafsa.

[ISIS] killed people [here], officers, officials, prisoners. I used to come here with my sheep.

2 or 3 months [after ISIS arrived], they started bringing individuals. 1 or 2 cars came each time with 4 or 5 people. They would execute them and throw them in Khafsa.

The mass grave is a naturally occurring sinkhole with water running through the bottom.

[It was hot] so we slept on the roof, but we were not able to because the stench [of the dead] was so unbearable. Later on, we went to the well to get water, and there was flesh and blood in the well. Flesh and blood.

The killings at the Khafsa sinkhole apparently continued regularly from late 2024 to mid-2015.

Eventually we closed the wells. We couldn’t draw water. It was full of blood from Khafsa.

We were inside our houses but the smell reached us. 3-4 kilometers away, the smell reached us.

Before they left, ISIS laid improvised landmines in the mass grave, maximizing harm to those who retook the area, and making it very difficult to exhume the bodies.

This is only one of many mass graves that ISIS has left across Iraq and Syria. But perhaps it’s the larges. It’s definitely the most notorious in Iraq.

This area needs to be protected. This is a mass grave site that the authorities should be cordoning off.

And they should take the steps they need to demine the area. And then to start the process of exhuming the bodies and returning them to their family members.

The victim’s families want the bodies, they want their sons and their rights.



8. Doctors in the United States are performing medically unnecessary surgeries that can inflict permanent harm on intersex children – even though the surgeries could be safely deferred.

7. Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burmese security forces in Burma’s Rakhine State have described killings, shelling, and arson in their villages – all of which has the hallmarks of “ethnic cleansing."

6. Spanish police engaged in excessive force when confronting demonstrators in Catalonia during a disputed referendum on Catalonia’s independence.

5. Pakistani authorities have used abuses and threats to drive out nearly 600,000 Afghans, including 365,000 registered refugees between July 2016 and July 2017 – the world’s largest mass forced return of refugees in years.

4. Last spring, when tens of thousands of Venezuelans protested against Venezuela’s increasingly authoritarian government, security forces shot demonstrators beat and shot at people and arbitrarily arrested hundreds.

3. Egypt’s regular police and National Security officers routinely torture political detainees with techniques including beatings, electric shocks, stress positions, and sometimes rape.

2. New evidence supports the conclusion that Syrian government forces have used nerve agents on at least four occasions between December 2016 and April 2017. The April chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun killed at least 92 people.

And the top-viewed video of the year:

Philippine police are falsifying evidence to justify unlawful killings in a “war on drugs” – backed by President Rodrigo Duterte – that has caused more than 12,000 deaths over the past 16 months.

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