Posts Tagged ‘human rights organizations’

Barghouti sent to isolation after Israel comments

January 27, 2012

Ma’an News, Jan 26, 2012


Marwan Barghouti pictured during an interview from his prison cell in

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti was sent to solitary confinement on Wednesday after making critical comments about Israel to journalists.

After testifying in a Jerusalem court on Wednesday the Fatah leader briefly spoke to reporters.

Upon returning to Hadarim prison in Israel, Barghouti was not allowed back into his regular cell and was instead put in isolation, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said Thursday.

Detainees in the prison protested the move and asked prison authorities to explain their decision.

Israeli authorities have not responded.

Barghouti, the former secretary-general of Fatah in the West Bank, told journalists that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would only be resolved when the occupation comes to an end and Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 borders.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society condemned the Israeli decision to isolate him and called on human rights organizations to stop violations against Palestinian leaders in jail.

The Fatah leader has been serving a life sentence since 2004 and has been widely viewed as a contender to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as president.

International outcry after Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo sentenced to 11 years

December 26, 2009
Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia in Beijing

(AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia in Beijing

Jane Macartney, China Correspondent, The Times/UK, Dec 26, 2009

China meted out its harshest punishment for subversion in two decades yesterday, sentencing the country’s leading dissident to 11 years in jail in a verdict that provoked international condemnation.

Liu Xiaobo, who organised a petition calling for political freedoms, stood silently in the No 1 Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing to hear the judge declare him guilty of “inciting subversion of state power”.

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Unchecked Arms Trade Fuelling Conflict, Poverty

October 13, 2008

UNITED NATIONS – With 1.3 trillion dollars spent every year on the world’s militaries, countries enmeshed in conflict are often flooded by weapons which are then turned against helpless civilian populations, say human rights organisations pushing for an international treaty to closely regulate arms sales.

[With 1.3 trillion dollars spent every year on the world's militaries, countries enmeshed in conflict are often flooded by weapons which are then turned against helpless civilian populations, say human rights organisations pushing for an international treaty to closely regulate arms sales.]With 1.3 trillion dollars spent every year on the world’s militaries, countries enmeshed in conflict are often flooded by weapons which are then turned against helpless civilian populations, say human rights organisations pushing for an international treaty to closely regulate arms sales.

“If a country is likely to be involved in warfare, then it is unjustifiable to sell arms. There must be regulation or control of arms — especially when the countries that are buying them are involved in a conflict,” Valentino Deng told IPS in an interview.Deng’s experiences formed the basis of Dave Eggers’s recent novel “What is the What”, which fictionalises the story of his life as a refugee of the Sudanese civil war. When Deng’s village was attacked and burnt down, he was separated from his family and fled on foot with a group of other young boys. On the journey to a refugee camp in Kenya, they encountered great danger and terrible hardships.

“I saw people being killed by aerial bombings and I saw villages burnt to ashes,” he told IPS. “I witnessed one of the incidents when a mother was killed and her young child was trying to breastfeed on the dead mother. At that time, I was wondering about one thing: who was supplying all these arms for war and conflict?”

The U.N. peacekeeping force’s former commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo, General Patrick Cammaert, saw firsthand the futility of disarmament without controlling the supply of arms at the same time. “You had the feeling,” he said last year, “that you were mopping up the floor when the tap was open. One moment you disarm a group, and then a week later the same group has fresh arms and ammunition.”

A new report by Oxfam International reveals how irresponsible arms transfers undermine many developing countries’ chances of achieveing their development goals. Either these transfers are draining the governments’ resources or fuelling armed conflict, or both.

The international arms trade is also considered to be one of the three most corrupt businesses in the world, according to Transparency International, the leading global organisation monitoring corruption.

“What is clear is that if you want to achieve the development goals, with poverty reduction, improved health care and education, you need to control arms transfers, ” said Katherine Nightingale, author of the Oxfam report.

At least 22 of the 34 countries least likely to achieve the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals are in the midst of, or emerging from conflict, according to U.N. statistics. Oxfam notes that between 1990 and 2005, 23 African countries together lost an estimated 284 billion dollars as a result of armed conflicts, fuelled by transfers of ammunition and arms — 95 percent of which came from outside Africa.

An investigative report by Amnesty International last month found that clandestine gun suppliers, funded by the U.S. and Iraqi governments, have flooded Iraq with a million weapons since 2003.

Because of faulty or non-existent government tracking systems, many of those guns have gone missing, and some have turned up in the hands of insurgents, Amnesty said.

According to the Oxfam report, a comprehensive and effective international arms trade treaty must be agreed to ensure more responsibility and transparency. Existing international initiatives like the Geneva Declaration to address armed violence are simply insufficient, it says.

“In parts of Africa there are strong regional agreements. But this is not enough. Arms trade is a global industry. We want a global arms trade treaty to ensure that states are hold accountable for the processes of procuring arms. International regulations are far behind in this aspect, ” Nightingale told IPS.

Worldwide support for a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was reflected when 153 states voted in favour during the United Nations General Assembly in December 2006. And later this month, U.N. member states will meet again to consider further steps to move towards negotiations on an ATT.

In the run-up to these discussions, a few states, including China, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia and the United States, have been attempting to block, delay and water down proposals, advocates say. This could kill the treaty before real negotiations even begin and allow continued unchecked trade in arms, human rights organisations fear.

Amnesty International, Oxfam, and others are now calling for the General Assembly to start a negotiating process during 2009 so that the international community can benefit from a legally-binding and universal Arms Trade Treaty by the end of 2010.

© 2008 Inter Press Service

Extraordinary Rendition, Extraordinary Mistake

August 31, 2008

Sangitha McKenzie Millar | Foreign Policy In Focus, August 29, 2008

Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen, was living in Sydney with his wife and four children when he took a trip alone to Pakistan to find a home for his family. When Habib boarded a bus for the Islamabad airport to return home, Pakistani police seized him and took him to a police station, where he was subjected to various crude torture techniques, including electric shocks and beating. At one point, he was forced to hang by the arms above a drum-like mechanism that administered an electric shock when touched. Pakistani police asked him repeatedly if he was with al-Qaeda, and if he trained in Afghanistan. Habib responded “No” over and over until he passed out.

After 15 days in the Pakistani prison, Habib was transferred to U.S. agents who flew him to Cairo. When he arrived, Omar Solaimon, chief of Egyptian security, informed him that Egypt receives $10 million for every confessed terrorist they hand over to the United States. Habib stated that during his five months in Egypt, “there was no interrogation, only torture.”  His skin was burned with cigarettes and he was threatened with dogs, beaten, and repeatedly shocked with a stun gun. During this time, he heard American voices in the prison, but Egyptians were in charge of the torture. In Michael Otterman’s book American Torture: From the Cold War to Abu Ghraib and Beyond (Pluto Press 2007), Habib said he was drugged and began to hallucinate: “I feel like a dead person. I was gone. I become crazy.” He remembers admitting things to interrogators, anything they asked: “I didn’t care … at this point I was ready to die.”

He was transferred back to the custody of U.S. agents in May 2002. They flew him first to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and then to Kandahar. After several weeks, American agents sent Habib to Guantánamo Bay. Three British detainees who have since been released from the prison described Habib as being in a “catastrophic state” when he arrived. Most of his fingernails were missing and he regularly bled from the nose, mouth, and ears while he slept.

Habib was held at Guantánamo Bay until late 2004, when he was charged with training 9/11 hijackers in martial arts, attending an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, and transporting chemical weapons. A Chicago human rights lawyer took his case and detailed all of Habib’s allegations of torture in court documents. After the case garnered national attention through a front page story in The Washington Post, Habib became a liability for the U.S. government. Rather than have his testimony on the torture he suffered in Egypt become a matter of public record, U.S. officials decided to send him back to Sydney in January 2005 – over three years after seizing him in Pakistan.

Unfortunately, Habib’s case isn’t unusual. There’s substantial evidence that the United States routinely and knowingly “outsources” the application of torture by transferring terrorism suspects to countries that frequently violate international human rights norms. As details of the extraordinary rendition program have emerged, politicians, journalists, academics, legal experts, and policymakers have raised serious objections to the policy. It has captured the attention of U.S. legislators, and both the House and Senate Committees on Foreign Relations as well as the House Committee on the Judiciary have held hearings to analyze the policy and examine related cases. Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Democratic vice presidential nominee, expressed concern that “rendition, as currently practiced, is undermining our moral credibility and standing abroad and weakening the coalitions with foreign governments that we need to effectively combat international terrorism.” As the public continues to learn more about the program, calls to end extraordinary rendition have increased, and the next presidential administration will likely be forced to take a stand one way or another on the issue.

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RIGHTS: Iran Condemned for Ongoing Juvenile Executions

July 30, 2008

By Omid Memarian

Iran has executed 191 people in 2008, including four juveniles.

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 29 (IPS) – A week after the execution of two juvenile offenders in Iran, who were under 18 at the time of their crime, a coalition of human rights organisations is urging the Iranian parliament to move swiftly to ban such executions.

The groups include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, along with six other international and regional human rights organisations — Iran Human Rights; the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI); Penal Reform International; Stop Child Executions; and Viviere — strongly condemned Iran’s continuing execution of juvenile offenders in a joint statement Tuesday.

“Iran is executing several children every year, despite the fact that it is banned under international law,” the organisations said. “It is cruel and inhumane to apply the death penalty even to adults, let alone to those convicted for crimes committed before the age of 18.”

“The execution of juvenile offenders is subject to an absolute prohibition in international law. This is testimony to the world’s repugnance towards this practice,” Drewery Dyke, a researcher with Amnesty International in London, told IPS. “It is high time that Iranian judicial officials and other leaders heed the concerns of the many jurists, lawyers and human rights activists in Iran who repeatedly call on the authorities to end the practice of executing juveniles and find a way to having Iran uphold its international legal commitments.”

Iranian authorities executed Hassan Mozafari and Rahman Shahidi on Jul. 22, along with an adult offender, Hussein Rahnama, in the southern city of Bushehr. The Bushehr Criminal Court had convicted them of rape, together with another juvenile offender, Mohammad Pezhman, and two other adults, Behrouz Zangeneh and Ali Khorramnejad. Iranian authorities executed Pezhman in May 2007 and the two other adults in October 2007.

“Mozafari and Shahidi’s executions are extremely disturbing,” Clarisa Bencomo, Middle East and North Africa researcher in the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, told IPS.

“The fact that the families of murder victims pardoned two other juvenile offenders just days before these latest executions only underlines how arbitrary the Iranian justice system is,” she added. “Iranian authorities should stop making excuses and change their laws to ensure that no one is ever executed for a crime committed when under 18.”

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