Archive for March, 2011

Thousands at risk in Duekoue – Amnesty

March 31, 2011
Morning Star Online, March 30,  2011

Amnesty called on the United Nations peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast to urgently protect thousands of displaced people sheltering in a Catholic mission in the west of the country amid fierce fighting.

As many as 10,000 civilians are sheltering in the mission in the town of Duekoue after fierce battles on Tuesday between forces supporting the internationally recognised elected President Alassane Ouattara and militiamen loyal to defeated president Laurent Gbagbo.

Senior Amnesty activist Veronique Aubert said: “The United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) mandate in Cote d’Ivoire requires the peacekeepers to protect civilians at imminent threat of physical violence.

“They must act immediately to prevent further bloodshed.”

The UNOCI camp is only about two miles away from Duekoue.

The situation in the west of Ivory Coast has been volatile since the November 2010 contested presidential elections.

All parties to the conflict have committed serious human rights violations.


Who is Embarrassing the United Nations?

March 31, 2011

By Lawrence Davidson, Media With Conscience, March 26, 2011


On 23 March 2011 the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the United Nations Rapporteur Richard Falk (Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University) told the world organization’s Human Rights Council that the “continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with the forcible eviction of long-residing Palestinians are creating an intolerable situation..” In fact, he continued, the present process “can only be described in its cumulative impact as ethnic cleansing.” Falk concluded by asking the UN Human Rights Council to request an investigation by the International Criminal Court into whether Israeli actions in the West Bank amount to “colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing inconsistent with international humanitarian law.”

This is not a particularly startling or rare point of view. There are many well versed Israelis, including several reporters for Haaretz (such as Amira Hass and Gideon Levy), who would probably agree with Falk’s position. There are millions of people around the world who are willing to actively boycott Israel due to, in part, its illegal settlement policies. And, the UN Human Rights Council itself has, in the past, repeatedly condemned Israeli settlement policies in the West Bank of Palestine.

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Iraq: Closing Torture Prison Won’t End Abuse

March 31, 2011

Independent Inquiry Needed to Investigate Torture at Camp Honor; Fears of Abuse at Other Prisons Remain


Human Rights Watch, March 31, 2011
Shutting down Camp Honor will mean little if detainees are shuffled to other facilities to face torture again. There needs to be a genuine, independent investigation and criminal prosecution of everyone, regardless of rank, responsible for the horrific abuses there.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

(Baghdad) – Iraq’s announcement on March 14, 2011, that it will close the Camp Honor detention center after a parliamentary committee uncovered torture there is a positive move but only a first step, Human Rights Watch said today. A pressing need remains for an independent investigation into who was responsible for the abuse there, Human Rights Watch said.

Iraqi officials should establish an independent body with authority to impartially investigate the torture that occurred at Camp Honor and other sites run by the 56th Brigade, also known as the “Baghdad Brigade,” and the Counterterrorism Service – the elite security forces attached to the military office of the prime minister. The investigating body should recommend disciplinary steps or criminal prosecution of everyone of any rank implicated in the abuse, Human Rights Watch said.

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Pakistan’s secret dirty war

March 31, 2011

In Balochistan, mutilated corpses bearing the signs of torture keep turning up, among them lawyers, students and farm workers. Why is no one investigating and what have they got to do with the bloody battle for Pakistan’s largest province?

Declan Walsh, The Guardian, March 29, 2011

Lala Bibi with her father and son


Lala Bibi with her father and son Saeed Ahmed – and photographs of her murdered son Najibullah and his cousin, who was also abducted. Photograph: Declan Walsh for the Guardian

The bodies surface quietly, like corks bobbing up in the dark. They come in twos and threes, a few times a week, dumped on desolate mountains or empty city roads, bearing the scars of great cruelty. Arms and legs are snapped; faces are bruised and swollen. Flesh is sliced with knives or punctured with drills; genitals are singed with electric prods. In some cases the bodies are unrecognisable, sprinkled with lime or chewed by wild animals. All have a gunshot wound in the head.

This gruesome parade of corpses has been surfacing in Balochistan, Pakistan‘s largest province, since last July. Several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have accounted for more than 100 bodies – lawyers, students, taxi drivers, farm workers. Most have been tortured. The last three were discovered on Sunday.

If you have not heard of this epic killing spree, though, don’t worry: neither have most Pakistanis. Newspaper reports from Balochistan are buried quietly on the inside pages, cloaked in euphemisms or, quite often, not published at all.

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Saudi Prof held after demands release of relatives: report

March 30, 2011

World Bulletin, March 30, 2011

Saudi authorities arrested a university professor a day after he called for the release of jailed relatives and other prisoners, a Saudi human rights group said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and a key U.S. ally, is an absolute monarchy that does not tolerate any form of public dissent.

“Dr. Mubbarak (bin Zuair) was supposed to break the good news to the demonstrators in front of the Ministry of Information who were protesting the extended illegal detention of their loved ones, that some of the detainees would be released,” the Human Rights First Society (HRFS) said in a statement.

“At 10.30 am on March 20, on his way to the Ministry of Information where the standoff was taking place, Dr Mubbarak was stopped and arrested by the secret police,” it added.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki could not confirm the arrest of bin Zuair, a professor at Alimmam Mohammad Bin Saud University in Riyadh.

On March 19 bin Zuair met with the assistant secretary for security affairs at the ministry to ask for the release of his relatives and other prisoners.

His father, Professor Said bin Zuair, an Islamist and outspoken critic of the Saudi royal family, has been imprisoned without trial for around five years, the group’s president Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb told Reuters.

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US Muslims face violence, discrimination

March 30, 2011

Durbin: ‘American Muslims are entitled to the same constitutional protections as other Americans’.

Middle East Online, March 30, 2011

‘Not just free exercise of religion but freedom of speech’

WASHINGTON – Muslims in the United States face ongoing discrimination and violence in actions that threaten basic freedoms in the nation, a US Senate hearing was told Tuesday.

The hearing was called to discuss protecting the civil rights of American Muslims, just weeks after another panel hotly debated the threat posed by homegrown Islamists.

Democratic Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, who called the hearing, said a “backlash” which began after the attacks of September 11, 2001, continues against “innocent Muslims, Arabs, south Asians and Sikhs.”

“American Muslims are entitled to the same constitutional protections as other Americans,” Durbin said, adding that this is an issue of “not just free exercise of religion but freedom of speech.”

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, told the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing: “We continue to see a steady stream of violence against Muslims… The good news is that with each wave of intolerance, our nation has responded by passing news laws.”

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Kill teams in Afghanistan: the truth

March 30, 2011

These disgusting photos of murdered Afghans reveal the aggression and racism underpinning the occupation of my country

The disgusting and heartbreaking photos published last week in the German media, and more recently in Rolling Stone magazine, are finally bringing the grisly truth about the war in Afghanistan to a wider public. All the PR about this war being about democracy and human rights melts into thin air with the pictures of US soldiers posing with the dead and mutilated bodies of innocent Afghan civilians.

I must report that Afghans do not believe this to be a story of a few rogue soldiers. We believe that the brutal actions of these “kill teams” reveal the aggression and racism which is part and parcel of the entire military occupation. While these photos are new, the murder of innocents is not. Such crimes have sparked many protests in Afghanistan and have sharply raised anti-American sentiment among ordinary Afghans.

I am not surprised that the mainstream media in the US has been reluctant to publish these images of the soldiers who made sport out of murdering Afghans. General Petraeus, now in charge of the American-led occupation, is said to place great importance on the “information war” for public opinion – and there is a concerted effort to keep the reality of Afghanistan out of sight in the US.

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From the Turks to Assad: to us Syrians it is all brutal colonialism

March 30, 2011

In taking on the Assad family mafia and paying with blood to do so, Syrians have rediscovered their struggle for freedom

Rana Kabbani, The Guardian, March 30, 2011

I was five when emergency law was imposed in my native Syria. I am now 53. During this intolerably long period, my country was turned step by chilling step by the ideologues and security service enforcers of the Ba’th party into the totalitarian state it is today. When Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez, came to power through yet another violent army squabble leading to his coup of 1970, an alarming cult of the leader was systematically formed around him, modelled on Ceausescu. The Romanian dictator was Assad’s political ally, strategic adviser in matters of popular repression, and close personal and family friend.

This cult was no easy thing to achieve in rowdy, opinionated and sardonic Syria, with its valiant history of fighting the xenophobic Turkish nationalism that came with the last years of the Ottoman empire and led to the hanging of so many Arab patriots in Marjeh Square. The brutal French colonialism sought to divide and rule the country, bombing Damascus twice and burning down a residential quarter that was home to many resistance fighters, including my paternal grandfather, Tawfik Kabbani. To this day the area is called Hariqa, or “fire”, in memory of the thousands of civilians wounded or killed.

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Afghanistan: More children killed in US-NATO air attacks

March 30, 2011

By Patrick O’Connor,, March 29, 2011

Source:  WSWS,


A NATO helicopter strike in the southern Afghanistan province of Helmand last Friday killed seven civilians, including three children. The atrocity is the latest in a series of recent US-led bombing operations that have inflicted mass civilian casualties.

Nine children collecting firewood were killed on March 1 in an airstrike in northeastern Kunar province. This prompted desperate apologies from President Barack Obama and General David Petraeus, aimed at placating enormous anger among ordinary Afghans. On March 14 another two children, 10- and 15-year-old brothers, were killed in Kunar. One government official said the boys were carrying shovels on their shoulders that may have been mistaken for weapons. On March 23, a NATO airstrike in eastern Khost province reportedly killed three civilians, including one child. These incidents followed last month’s war crime in the Ghaziabad district of Kunar province, where helicopter strikes killed 65 civilians, including 22 women, and 40 children under the age of 13, according to an Afghan government investigation.

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Chomsky on Mideast, India, Kashmir and indigenous people

March 29, 2011

Noam Chomsky speaks to Saswat Pattanayak

By Noam Chomsky, ZNet, March 29, 2011
Source: Kindle India

SP- Prof Chomsky, where do you locate the contours of the current crisis in Egypt, Tunisia and rest of the Middle East?

NC- The source of the crisis in the Arab world goes back very far and it’s similar to what we find in the formerly colonized world. Actually it was expressed rather clearly in the 1950’s by President Eisenhower and his staff. He was holding an internal discussion which has been declassified since. Eisenhower asked his staff why there is, what he called a “campaign of hatred” against us in the Arab world. Not among the governments, which are more or less docile, but among the people. And the National Security Council, which is the major planning body, produced a memorandum on this topic. It said that there is a perception in the Arab world that the United States supports harsh vicious dictators, blocks democracy and development; and we do this because we want to maintain control over their resources – in this case, energy. And went on to say that the perception is fairly accurate and furthermore that, that’s what we should be doing.

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