Posts Tagged ‘protest’

UN demands prosecution of Bush-era CIA crimes

March 5, 2013
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RT,  March 04, 2013
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AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards

AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards

A United Nations investigator has demanded that the US publish classified documents regarding the CIA’s human rights violations under former President George W. Bush, with hopes that the documents will lead to the prosecution of public officials.

Documents about the CIA’s program of rendition and secret detention of suspected terrorists have remained classified, even though President Obama’s administration has publicly condemned the use of these “enhanced interrogation techniques”. The US has not prosecuted any of its agents for human rights violations.

UN investigator Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, said that the classified documents protect the names of individuals who are responsible for serious human rights violations.

Continues >>

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Clinton Faces Pakistani Anger At Predator Drone Attacks

October 31, 2009

by Robert Burns, CommonDreams.org, Oct 30, 2009

ISLAMABAD – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton came face-to-face Friday with Pakistani anger over U.S. aerial drone attacks in tribal areas along the Afghan border, a strategy that U.S. officials say has succeeded in killing key terrorist leaders.

[Students protest against the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009. Clinton is on a three-day state visit to Pakistan. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)]
Students protest against the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009. Clinton is on a three-day state visit to Pakistan. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

In a series of public appearances on the final day of a three-day visit marked by blunt talk, Clinton refused to discuss the subject, which involves highly classified CIA operations. She would say only that “there is a war going on,” and the Obama administration is committed to helping Pakistan defeat the insurgents and terrorists who threaten the stability of a nuclear-armed nation.

Clinton said she could not comment on “any particular tactic or technology” used in the war against extremist groups in the area.
The use of Predator drone aircraft, armed with guided missiles, is credited by U.S. officials with eliminating a growing number of senior terrorist group leaders this year who had used the tribal lands of Pakistan as a haven beyond the reach of U.S. ground forces in Afghanistan.

During an interview broadcast live in Pakistan with several prominent female TV anchors, before a predominantly female audience of several hundred, one member of the audience said the Predator attacks amount to “executions without trial” for those killed.

Another asked Clinton how she would define terrorism.

“Is it the killing of people in drone attacks?” she asked. That woman then asked if Clinton considers drone attacks and bombings like the one that killed more than 100 civilians in the city of Peshawar earlier this week to both be acts of terrorism.

“No, I do not,” Clinton replied.

Police break up Kyrgyz protest

July 29, 2009
Al Jazeera, July 29, 2009

Police detained most of the protesters soon
after the demonstration began [AFP]

Police in Kyrgyzstan have dispersed a protest against alleged fraud in the country’s presidential election, reportedly detaining nearly all of the about 200 protesters.

The authorities quickly intercepted demonstrators on Wednesday as they attempted to march through Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital.

There were said to be two or three officers, some dressed in plain clothes, for each demonstrator.

The protesters had been shouting slogans such as “Return the stolen power!” and were about to march on the presidential palace in the centre of Bishkek.

Some protesters scuffled with police.

“They [the protesters] broke public security rules,” Gulya Kozhokulova, a district prosecutor, said. “Police acted in line with the law.”

Disputed poll

The demonstrators were supporters of Almazbek Atambayev, the main opposition candidate in last Thursday’s election, who denounced the vote as “illegitimate” citing widespread fraud.

The election was won by Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the incumbent president, with 76.43 per cent of the vote compared to 8.39 per cent for Atambayev, according to the official results.

Election monitors described the vote as a “disappointment” and said it had failed to meet international standards.

Bakiyev was first elected in 2005, in a poll seen as free and fair by Western observers.

But since then he has been accused by the opposition of becoming increasingly repressive and a string of mysterious attacks on politicians and journalists in the run-up to the election raised concerns.

The opposition has said it will state more protests across the country ahead of an informal summit of a Russia-dominated security bloc to be held on Friday.

They have threatened to block roads in the resort in east Kyrgyzstan where the meeting is due to take place.

An Israeli resister faces prison

May 12, 2009

Neve Gordon, who teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, reports on the case of Ezra Nawi–an Israeli activist who has been ridiculed and arrested for trying to protect the homes of Palestinians.

WITHOUT INTERNATIONAL intervention, Israeli human rights activist Ezra Nawi will most likely be sent to jail.

What you can do

Visit the Support Ezra Nawi Web site for information about the case or to make a donation to Nawi’s defense campaign.

Nawi is not a typical rights activist. A member of Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership, he is a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent who speaks fluent Arabic. He is a gay man in his fifties and a plumber by trade. Perhaps because he himself comes from the margins, he empathizes with others who have been marginalized – often violently.

His “crime” was trying to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins from Um El Hir in the South Hebron region. These Palestinians have been under Israeli occupation for almost 42 years; they still live without electricity, running water and other basic services and are continuously harassed by Jewish settlers and the military–two groups that have united to expropriate Palestinian land and that clearly have received the government’s blessing to do so.

A still from the film "Citizen Nawi" shows Ezra in front of Israel's apartheid wallA still from the film “Citizen Nawi” shows Ezra in front of Israel’s apartheid wall

As chance would have it, the demolition and the resistance to it were captured on film and broadcast on Israel’s Channel 1. The three-minute film–a must see–shows Nawi, the man dressed in a green jacket, not only courageously protesting against the demolition but, after the bulldozer destroys the buildings, also telling the border policemen what he thinks of their actions. Sitting handcuffed in a military vehicle following his arrest, he exclaims: “Yes, I was also a soldier, but I did not demolish houses…The only thing that will be left here is hatred.”

The film then shows the police laughing at Nawi. But in dealing with his audacity, they were not content with mere ridicule and decided also to accuse him of assaulting a policeman. Notwithstanding the very clear evidence (captured on film), an Israeli court recently found Nawi guilty of assault in connection with the incident, which happened in 2007, and this coming July he will be sent to prison. Unless, perhaps, there is a public outcry.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

NAWI’S CASE is not only about Nawi. It is also about Israel and Israeli society, if only because one can learn a great deal about a country from the way it treats its human rights and pro-democracy activists.

Most people are not really surprised when they read that human rights activists are routinely arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned and harassed in Syria, Egypt , Saudi Arabia, Morocco and several other Middle Eastern countries. Indeed, it has become common knowledge that the authoritarian nature of these regimes renders it dangerous for their citizens to actively fight for human rights.

In this sense, Israel is different from most of its neighbors. Unlike their counterparts in Egypt and Syria, Israeli rights activists, particularly Jewish ones, have been able to criticize the policies of their rights-abusive government without fear of incarceration. Up until now, the undemocratic tendencies of Israeli society manifested themselves, for the most part, in the state’s relation to its Palestinian citizens, the occupied Palestinian inhabitants and a small group of Jewish conscientious objectors.

People might assume that Nawi’s impending imprisonment as well as other alarming developments (like the recent arrest of New Profile and Target 21 activists, who are suspected of abetting draft-dodgers) are due to the establishment of an extreme right-wing government in Israel. If truth be told, however, the rise of the extreme right merely reflects the growing presence of proto-fascist elements in Israeli society, elements that have been gaining ground and legitimacy for many years now.

Nawi’s case, for what it symbolizes on both an individual and societal level, encapsulates the current reality in Israel. His friends have launched a campaign, and are asking people to write letters to Israeli embassies around the world. At this point, only international attention and intervention can make a difference.

First published in the Guardian.

Afghans call for end to US occupation

March 23, 2009
Morning Star Online, Sunday 22 March 2009

HUNDREDS of Afghan citizens rallied for an end to the occupation of their country on Sunday after US-led forces killed five civilians in Kunduz Province.

According to Afghan officials, US soldiers broke into the house of Imam Sahib Mayor Abdul Manan before dawn and killed two of his bodyguards and three other employees including a cook and a driver.

The US insisted that the morning raid had targeted a “terrorist network” and asserted that the five killed in the operation were insurgents.

The Pentagon released a statement which asserted that the raid had involved Afghan police and targeted a “terrorist network.”

But a senior Imam Sahib official rejected the suggestion, saying that Afghan police were neither involved in the operation nor aware of it.

And Kunduz governor Juma Din claimed that all the victims of the attack had been local-government employees.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said only that “five of our countrymen” had been killed in the mayor’s house and a spokesman declined to label them as either militants or civilians.

Deputy provincial police chief Abdul Rahman Akhtash said that about 300 people had gathered in Imam Sahib to protest against the raid and the increasingly bloody occupation.

US and NATO officials insist that they are doing all they can to limit civilian casualties and observe that guerillas regularly operate in residential areas.

AFGHANISTAN: Angry mob surrounds official building in Logar More than three hundreds protesting people, chanting anti-American slogans

March 17, 2009

Shahpur Arab | RAWA News, March 14, 2009

PUL-E-ALAM: Angry with reported innocent killing of five persons of a family by the US forces in a raid in central Logar province last night, protestors besieged the building of Charkh district headquarters on Saturday.

More than three hundreds protesting people, chanting anti-American slogans, called for an immediate trial of the killers.

Last night, the US-led coalition troops raided a house of one Abdul Rashind in Naw Shar village, killing him and his four sons, officials and residents said Saturday.

The killings sparked an angry protest of the local people.

Police standing on the rooftop of the district headquarters’ building remained on high alert to deal with any untoward situation.

To break up the mob, police fired shots at the protesting people, who had blocked all the roads leading to the district headquarters, injuring two persons.

District chief of Charkh Ghulam Farooq Hamayon told Pajhwok Afghan News that police opened fire at two persons intending to break into the district building.He added the wounded persons were shifted to Baraki Barak district hospital for treatment.

A local security personnel in the district said that anti-government elements had joined the protestors to carry out sabotage activities.

Abdul Zahir, a protestor warned to continue their protest by blocking roads unless those responsible for the killing of five innocent people were punished.Locals and government officials said the victims were local farmers.

However, the US led coalition forces say they conducted the operation against those who had links with IED experts and bombs makers. A statement by the coalition forces said that they killed five people in a house from where the forces were targeted.

Venezuela cuts ties with Israel over Gaza attacks

January 15, 2009

Reuters, Jan 14, 2009

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela has cut ties with Israel in protest over its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

Last week President Hugo Chavez expelled Israel’s ambassador from Venezuela over the attacks, which have sparked international condemnation.

“Venezuela … has definitively decided to break diplomatic ties with the state of Israel given the inhumane persecution of the Palestinian people carried out by the authorities of Israel,” said a statement read over state television.

Israel’s 20-day offensive, launched to halt rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas Islamist militants, has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians. A Palestinian rights group said 670 of those killed were civilians. Thirteen Israelis have been killed — three civilians hit by Hamas rocket fire and 10 soldiers.

Socialist Chavez is a harsh critic of both Israel and the United States and has called the Israeli offensive in Gaza a Palestinian “holocaust.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales, a close Chavez ally, on Wednesday also cut ties with Israel to the protest the attacks.

An envoy from Israel, which is under increasing pressure to negotiate a ceasefire, is scheduled to meet Egyptian mediators in Cairo on Thursday.

Chavez in 2006 threatened to break ties with Israel over its five-week war in Lebanon in a diplomatic spat that led both countries to withdraw their envoys.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Blood and tears in the streets of Gaza

December 30, 2008

Eric Ruder reports on Israel’s latest escalation of its barbaric war on the Palestinian people.

Israeli air strikes have killed nearly 300 Palestinians in two days of bombing (Fady Adwan | propaimages)Israeli air strikes have killed nearly 300 Palestinians in two days of bombing (Fady Adwan | propaimages)

GAZA IS under attack by one of the most deadly military machines on the planet–with even worse to come as Israel masses troops for a threatened ground invasion.

Starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, Israel’s F-16 jet fighters and Apache helicopters, supplied by the U.S., unleashed a punishing assault on targets of every kind–police stations, mosques, hospitals, media outlets, community centers and buildings owned by the Hamas party.

Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world, so the “precision strikes” supposedly aimed at “Hamas militants” were bound to take a toll on the civilian population. By late Sunday night, the official death toll after 36 hours of killing stood at nearly 300.

Meanwhile, Israeli ground forces and tanks were stationed at the border, and the military announced it was calling up its reserves, an ominous sign that the scale of the atrocities could grow worse.

Israel’s all-out offensive caused fury across the Middle East. Thousands took to the streets to protest Israel’s assault and the silence of many Arab regimes as the slaughter of Palestinians was broadcast on television news stations. In several places, anger was directed at the Egyptian government for its unwillingness to open its border with Gaza to relieve the pressure from Israel’s crippling siege of the last 18 months.

What you can do

Emergency protests have already taken place in cities around the country, with more planned for the coming days–including a national day of action called for Tuesday, December 30. Contact local organizers for details where you live.

For updates on the current situation in Gaza, plus commentary and analysis on the background to the war, read the Electronic Intifada Web site. Electronic Intifada Executive Director Ali Abunimah’s “Gaza massacres must spur us to action” is a good starting point for further reading.

You can also find updated coverage on conditions in Gaza and the efforts of activists to stand up to the Israeli war at the Free Gaza Web site.

Between the Lines: Readings on Israel, the Palestinians and the U.S. “War on Terror,” by Tikva Honig-Parnass and Toufic Haddad, documents the apartheid-like conditions that Palestinians live under today.

For background on Israel’s war and the Palestinian struggle for freedom, read The Struggle for Palestine, a collection of essays edited by Lance Selfa on the history of the occupation and Palestinian resistance.

In the U.S., antiwar coalitions, human rights groups and others organized emergency-response actions, drawing hundreds to demonstrations in cities across the U.S. More protests will take place this week; a national day of action has been called for Tuesday.

Israel’s attack began with simultaneous air raids on more than 30 targets. Within the first nine hours, the Israeli military reported it had dropped more than 100 tons of bombs. Not since the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel began its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, have Palestinians in Gaza been subjected to such an outburst of destruction.

In an interview, Dr. Haider Eid relayed the horror as he talked about conditions in Gaza:

I live in Gaza City itself, where most of the air strikes took place. The attacks came just as schoolchildren were returning home from school. It was absolutely horrible. The timing was chosen to cause a massacre.

I rushed to the Shifa hospital–along with ambulances, cars and trucks that were also streaming to the hospital with the wounded. I stood in front of the gate. I don’t like to see the mangled bodies, but this was especially horrible. Cars carried dismembered bodies, detached legs and arms and heads.

The part of this that I’m still trying to cope with are the bodies of the children. This is something you don’t wish on your worst enemies, to tell you the truth. The morgue at the hospital is the largest in Gaza City, but it ran out of space to keep the bodies.

As he talked, a thunderous noise drowned out Haider’s voice. “Oh my God! A huge explosion just took place as I’m speaking with you,” said Haider. “That was very close. Oh my God! Another one! I’m sorry. I must go.” Haider hung up to check on his relatives, and subsequent attempts to reach him have so far been unsuccessful.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

ISRAEL CLAIMED that it launched its offensive on Gaza to defend itself from Palestinian rocket attacks aimed at towns in southern Israel. Predictably, the U.S. backed up this assertion. “The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel, and holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza,” said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The ceasefire Rice referred to began six months ago, but the terms of it were never honored by Israel, and in fact, it expired days before the assault began.

Under the truce, Palestinian militants agreed to end their rocket attacks against Israel, while Israel was supposed to lift its suffocating siege of Gaza, which has led to critical shortages of all manner of necessities, from flour to electricity to medical supplies.

But the Israeli government didn’t end the siege. The blockade is designed to punish the people of Gaza for the “crime” of voting Hamas into the majority in the Palestinian Legislative Assembly in January 2006 elections. Backed by the U.S., and with the collaboration of rival Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, Israel continued to hope that the population of Gaza would turn against Hamas.

Within Israel, only a tiny number of voices dissented from the claim–thoroughly dominant in the mainstream Israeli and U.S. media–that Israel was acting in self-defense against Hamas’ aggression. Days before the Israeli offensive began, Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner wrote:

We don’t want to see how people in Gaza are living, we block it out of our minds–which, I suppose, is natural for a society at war, but which also keeps that war going longer than it might if we would recognize that Gaza is getting so much the worst of it.

The [Palestinian] Kassam [rockets] have terrorized the 25,000 people in Sderot and its environs, but have caused very, very few deaths or serious wounds. By contrast, Israel has terrorized 1.5 million Gazans, locked them inside their awfully narrow borders, throttled their economy, and killed and seriously wounded thousands of them…

This is crazy. Israel is the superpower of the Middle East, but because we still think we’re the Jews of Europe in the 1930s, or the Israelites under Pharaoh, we spend a lot more time fighting our enemies than we might if we looked at the whole picture, not just our half of it.

There may be a way out of this war, and if Israel does not take it–if it does not accept Hamas’ offer of a ceasefire, which it should have offered Hamas from the beginning–then the principal blame for the war will lie with us. Our arrogance and blindness will get a lot of innocent people killed. And no one has a clue about when, or where, or how it will end.

This comment makes it obvious that the death toll from Israel’s air strikes only count for part of the casualties in the latest phase of the war. Those Palestinians who died as a consequence of Israel’s blockade–a clear violation of international laws prohibiting the use of collective punishment and attempts to physically destroy a people and their society–have to be included.

As Palestinian author and activist Ali Abunimah said in an interview:

The idea that this is about Israel’s “self-defense” is a very partial and one-sided claim. The reality is that Israel asked for a ceasefire with Hamas and got it, during which there were no rockets fired by the Palestinians.

During this so-called ceasefire, Israel continued to maintain a punishing blockade on Gaza, starving people, depriving them of food and medicine. Many people were dying in Gaza, not because of bombs, but because they couldn’t get cancer treatments, insulin and other basic medications. They weren’t even allowed to travel to get medical treatment.

Hundreds of Palestinians have died because of the Israeli blockade. Ehud Barak’s orders to prevent medicine from reaching Gaza were just as lethal and just as intended to kill as his orders to send bombers into Gaza.

Israel’s harsh treatment of Palestinians living in the West Bank further underscores the hypocrisy of Israel’s claim to be defending itself. As Abunimah points out:

There has never been a single rocket fired at Israel from the West Bank. And yet during the period of the so-called truce in the West Bank, Israel continued extrajudicial executions, continued to confiscate Palestinian land, continued to demolish Palestinians homes, continued to kidnap Palestinians and imprison them. Israeli settlers engaged in regular pogroms and rampages, attacking Palestinians and destroying their property.

What was the excuse for that? Israel never needed the excuse of rockets to continue its systematic violence against Palestinians.

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BECAUSE OF Israel’s debilitating siege, the residents of Gaza are particularly ill-equipped to deal with the physical, medical, humanitarian and psychological consequences of this new offensive.

The statistical measures of Gaza’s desperation are truly awful. Malnutrition in Gaza is comparable to the dire situation of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, affecting some 75 percent of the population–46 percent of children in Gaza suffer from acute anemia. The majority of children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and thousands of kids require hearing aids because of repeated exposure to the earsplitting sonic booms of low-altitude flyovers by Israeli fighter jets.

Blood supplies are running critically low. There are chronic shortages of electricity, drinking water, flour, bread and more. Unemployment is well over 50 percent. The economy is in total freefall.

This is all by design. According to the logic of Israeli officials, the pressure is necessary to force Gaza’s residents to turn against Hamas. Such measures have always failed in the past–on the contrary, they have led to ever more intense and desperate anger at Israel’s brutality.

But according to Abunimah, the latest offensive has also exposed a new development–the outright surrender of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah wing of the Palestinian national movement that he leads:

For a long time, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has been colluding with Israel and the U.S. against Hamas. Since the election in January 2006, the PA has been determined to overturn the election result and to maintain itself in power, and it has done that with guns provided by the U.S. and Israel.

Many Palestinians were not willing to confront this directly because it’s a very painful truth. But the situation in Gaza has pulled the mask off, and Palestinians everywhere are now openly pointing to Ramallah as having colluded directly with the Israelis–and indeed the comments of PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo that Hamas is to blame for this have sickened and revolted Palestinians.

This has laid bare the reality that Abbas is working for the Israelis and is more loyal to them than to the Palestinian people that he claims to lead.

As for the U.S., it has long presented itself to the world as an “honest broker,” as Palestinians struggled to establish an independent state in their homeland.

Yet U.S. economic, military and diplomatic support has been the essential ingredient that allowed Israel to continue its occupation of Palestinian land and its immunity to diplomatic sanctions or international pressure to grant even the basic Palestinian right to the necessities of life.

For activists in the U.S., it’s our responsibility to expose the complicity of the U.S. in the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza. This means building public demonstrations and protests, as well as ongoing campaigns to pressure the U.S. to end its support for Israel. And it means exposing the lie that Israel is acting in self-defense when it carries out massacres in Gaza.

“What can we fairly ask of Palestinians when 1.5 million people are blockaded, besieged, imprisoned in a giant ghetto, when they cannot eat due to lack of food while living under a so-called truce?” asks Abunimah. “Israel’s idea of a truce is that Palestinians have a right to remain silent while they starve to death.

“Palestinians also have a right to defend themselves. That self-defense may take many forms, but Israel has never respected Palestinians’ right to defend themselves, whether they do so through armed struggle or peaceful means. The Israeli response is always bombs and bullets. That’s the full picture that’s not being exposed anywhere.”


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