Posts Tagged ‘protesters’

USA: Thousands rally on anniversary of invasion of Iraq

March 21, 2010

By MATTHEW BARAKAT (Associated Press Writer)

The Washington Post,  March 21, 2010

WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters – many directing their anger squarely at President Barack Obama – marched through the nation’s capital Saturday to urge immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

At least eight people, including activist Cindy Sheehan, were arrested by U.S. Park Police at the end of the march, after laying coffins at a fence outside the White House. Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

“Arrest that war criminal!” Sheehan shouted outside the White House before her arrest, referring to Obama.

At a rally before the march, Sheehan asked whether “the honeymoon was over with that war criminal in the White House” – an apparent reference to Obama – prompting moderate applause.

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Storm of protest as Blair slinks into Iraq inquiry

January 30, 2010
Morning Star Online,  January 29, 2010
by Paddy McGuffin
A sea of placards filled Parliament Square on Friday morning

A sea of placards filled Parliament Square on Friday morning

“Blair lied, thousands died.” That was the chant which reverberated around Parliament Square on Friday as former prime minister Tony Blair gave evidence to the Iraq inquiry.

Even from the safety of the Queen Elizabeth II centre, where he had been spirited by his security detail hours before the inquiry was due to start, Mr Blair could not have failed to hear the fury of the hundreds of protesters who thronged the square throughout the morning.

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Protests marking Suu Kyi birthday

June 19, 2009

BBCNews, June 19, 2009

Image of Aung San Suu Kyi on European Parliament"s building at Place du Luxembourg, 18/06

The European Union is taking part in the campaign to free Ms Suu Kyi

Activists across the world are marking the 64th birthday of Burma’s detained opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, with vigils and protests.

Celebrities including author Salman Rushdie and actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts have signed an online petition demanding that she be freed.

The European Union has also renewed its calls for her “unconditional release”.

Burma’s military rulers have held the Nobel Peace Prize winner under house arrest for most of the past 19 years.

She is currently on trial for breaking the terms of her detention.

Aung San Suu Kyi was charged after an American man swam to the house where she is being held, and stayed there overnight.

Insein jail

Observers say the charges – which carry a maximum punishment of five years in jail – are designed to keep Ms Suu Kyi imprisoned until after a general election which the junta has scheduled for next year.

While she is on trial, Ms Suu Kyi is imprisoned in Rangoon’s Insein jail – a notorious facility where many political prisoners are held.

Protesters in at least 20 cities – from Geneva to Kuala Lumpur – are marking her birthday with calls for her to be set free.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head, in Bangkok, says one of the most poignant events was the small celebration at the Rangoon headquarters of her political party, the National League for Democracy.

Her supporters there released balloons and small birds, and made offerings of food to Buddhist monks in her honour.

Burmese exile groups have launched a website called “64 for Suu” and invited celebrities, politicians and members of the public to send a 64-word birthday message to Ms Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters in Manila made a birthday cake and and spelled out the words “not guilty” with hundreds of red roses

In his message, British tycoon Richard Branson called her a “shining light for us all”.

Another message came from a group of female Nobel Peace Prize laureates including Guatemalan rights activist Rigoberta Menchu and US anti-landmine campaigner Jody Williams.

They said: “Your imprisonment and trial are a stark illustration of the brutality and lawlessness of the Burmese military regime.”

European Union leaders also joined the chorus of celebrities, activists and political leaders calling for Ms Suu Kyi’s release.

“Unless she is released, the credibility of the 2010 elections will be further undermined and the EU will respond with appropriate measures,” a European Council draft statement said.

Ms Suu Kyi has been under house arrest and banned from seeing all but a small group of people for 13 of the past 19 years.

Iran protesters to keep up pressure

June 17, 2009
Al Jazeera, June 17, 2009

Pro-Ahmadinejad supporters were out in force in Tehran on Tuesday [AFP]

Anti-government protesters appear set to keep up the pressure on the Iranian leadership, with a fifth day of rallies planned.

The plan by the demonstrators to hold more protests on Wednesday comes a day after the Guardian Council, Iran’s highest legislative body, said that it was prepared for a partial recount of last week’s vote.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the incumbent president, was officially declared winner of Friday’s poll by a margin of two-to-one over his nearest rival Mir Hossein Mousavi.

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Amnesty International cites “shocking” beating of Iran protesters

June 15, 2009

Middle East News, June 14, 2009

London/Washington – The human rights organization Amnesty International Sunday condemned reports of excessive violence by Iranian security forces against people protesting the results of Friday elections and called for an investigation.

‘The shocking scenes of violence meted out by the security forces need to be urgently investigated and those responsible for human rights violations must be brought to justice,’ said Hassiba Hadj, an AI official, in a statement e-mailed to dpa in Washington.

Hadj is deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa programme of the London-headquartered organization.

Amnesty International said that at least 170 people were arrested on Saturday as supporters of Iran’s opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi protested the results that declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected by a 62 per cent majority.

Iranian police said 60 people had been arrested as some protestors threw rocks at store windows and carried out other acts of violence.

Amnesty International said it had reports that plain-clothes security forces used batons to beat and disperse many non-violent individuals, causing many injuries.

The report cited several incidents, saying University of Tehran students had reportedly been chased by 100 riot police. It said police on motorcycles had beat Moussavi supporters who were staging a peaceful sit-in in Tehran’s Vanak Square.

According to the rights organization, protests had spread to other cities including Rasht, Mashahd, Shiraz, Ahwaz, Zahedan and Oroumiye.

‘We deplore that the new presidential term is heralded with widespread abuses,’ the group said. ‘Amnesty International considers anyone arrested simply for demanding transparency and for questioning the results of the election is to be a prisoner of conscience who should be immediately and unconditionally released.’

Protester death sparks fresh Kashmir clashes, 25 hurt

May 28, 2009, May 27, 2009

Protester death sparks fresh Kashmir clashes, 25 hurt Reuters – A Kashmiri protester throws a piece of brick towards an Indian policeman during a protest in Srinagar …

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – At least 25 people were injured in Kashmir’s main city on Wednesday when hundreds of stone throwing residents, angered over a young protester’s death, clashed with Indian troops, police and witnesses said.

Police fired scores of teargas shells to disperse protesters who took to streets for a second day on Wednesday in Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer capital, to protest the death of a 20-year-old student.

The student was hit on the head by a teargas shell fired by police last week during a protest against Indian rule in the disputed region. He died on Tuesday.

Last week’s protest rally was the biggest this year in Kashmir which was hit by massive anti-India demonstrations last year.

A police official, Abdul Qayum, said the injured included eight security force personnel. “The clashes continue,” he said.

Tens of thousands have been killed in the disputed Himalayan region since a revolt against Indian rule broke out in 1989.

But overall violence has fallen significantly across Kashmir since India and Pakistan began peace talks in 2004, although New Delhi has imposed a “pause” in that dialogue after the Mumbai attack in November.

Human Rights Situation In Kashmir

March 27, 2009

Kashmir Watch, March 27

Human rights situation in Kashmir is as bleak as it has been during the last two decades. The gross violation of basic human rights are continuing unabated, says Ghulam Nabi Khayal, who presented  this paper at the National Seminar on Kashmir organised by Jamia Millia University, Delhi last week.

The track record of human rights situation in Jammu & Kashmir, particularly during the last two decades, does not merit any praise or appreciation. It is quite heart rending that the human rights charter adopted by the United Nations has been thrown to winds in this strife torn border state by all those who hold a gun in their hands.

The worst and most horrific period of gross violation of the human rights across Kashmir Valley has been during early nineties when only a few incidents of indiscriminate gunfire opened by the forces on unarmed civilians resulted in the killing of about three hundred people including old men, women and children. The excessive use of force was wantonly witnessed when the funeral procession of Mirwaiz Molvi Farooq, who had been gunned down on 21 May 1990 allegedly by the militants, was fired upon by the forces killing about 40 persons on spot. The forces did not spare even the coffin of the late Mirwaiz and several bullets were found having been pumped into his dead body.

This gory incident was so shocking that the former prime minister, Chander Shekhar said in the Parliament, “we must hang our heads in shame.” The required action followed quickly by shifting of Jagmohan, the most controversial Governor of the State, during whose tenure Kashmir was seen bathing only in blood.

According to a conservative survey conducted by a few local groups, there are as many as ten thousand widows spending their days of life in penury, misery and prolonged agony. Their husbands, whether militants or otherwise, are no more and this is not their fault that they have been left at the mercy of Allah.

Several so called organisations, NGOs, numbering about five thousand, claim to be the saviors of this miserable lot of the fair sex but they have failed to help out even a small number of them though these fake organisations have been receiving huge funds of money for this very purpose both from Delhi and Islamabad. This criminal negligence towards a suffering community has obviously given rise to social evils in the Valley where the hapless widows are naturally forced to be exploited in different immoral ways to earn their two square meals.

The irony of the fate is that the widows of slain militants are categorically denied permission to perform Hajj pilgrimage which they could do after managing the required money. Also, a valid  passport is not issued to them under instructions from the Central government. Their fault, depriving them of a very pious religious performance, is yet to be defined. Why should they be punished for a sin they never committed?

The present scenario across Kashmir is a little brighter for, the militants are not seen indulging in anti social and objectionable activities, also due to the fact that a majority of them has been physically eliminated by the forces during the last two decades of unprecedented armed uprising.

At the same time, and unfortunately, a number of surrendered militants, locally nicknamed as Ikhwanis or renegades, are still at large to harass people by way of arson, kidnappings for ransom, molestation of women and even brutal killing of common people. These heinous crimes mostly take place in far off villages in the Valley and are hushed up as not reported due to the social taboos of the Kashmiri Muslim society. These renegades function directly under the Rashtriya Rifles of the army and the official patronage is available to them so acrimoniously that they are neither hauled up nor are they brought to justice  for crimes they are committing unabated.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December1948, says among other things in its Article Number three that “every one has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” These basic guarantees offered to the human being by Almighty God and by the UNO are to a large extent, not available to a common man in Kashmir despite the horrifying fact that About 100,000 people in the State have already been done to untimely death in this turmoil.

As far as the conditions prevailing in various prisons, where Kashmiri suspects or hardcore militants re lodged, are concerned, they can be described as inhuman and nothing else. Even today, scores of detenues are languishing in jails all over the country, from Jammu up to Koimbatore, without being tried in a court of law for the crime they have allegedly committed. Some of these prisoners are there behind the bars for more than 15 years now and no legal procedure has been adopted to facilitate for them a fair trial in an impartial court of law.

My own newspaper Voice of Kashmir has been receiving letters full of pathos and miseries faced by these detained youths in different jails in the country wherein they narrate woefully hair raising tales of torture and inhuman treatment meted out to them by their interrogators. The UN human rights declaration clearly states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Probably, this charter does not apply to the forces operating in Jammu & Kashmir state.

It is rather imperative to point out here that while talking about the activities of the militants and the security forces, one cannot apply a similar yardstick to them. Militants took up gun but were never answerable to any one.

On the contrary, the armed forces and the paramilitary troops are  supposed to be bound by unflinching discipline, moral, ethical and legal obligations.  Their reported violations of basic rights are not therefore acceptable under any circumstances.

There are also complaints pouring in regularly that Kashmiri youths who are out in the Indian states to earn their livelihood are subjected to victimisation by the police. They are physically manhandled all over. Even hotels in different cities are instructed to avoid providing accommodation to the Kashmiri visitors.It was on 13th of this month that three Kashmiris were taken into custody in Maharashtra for no obvious reasons.

Several state regimes have publicly admitted that on occasions, forces in Kashmir overstep their brief and that the guilty shall be punished. One has yet to ascertain beyond doubt whether any erring soldier was ever awarded deserving punishment.

The present situation across the State is comparatively conducive to rub off black scars of this menace from the face of Kashmir.

Firstly, all detunes jailed for their involvement in militancy or on suspicion, must be tried properly in a legal court to affirm or nullify their alleged crime. Only then, can their fate be decided in a democratic way.

As a member of one working group constituted by the Honourable Prime Minister in 2007, I had strongly advocated that those frustrated Kashmiri  boys who had crossed over to Pakistan administrated  Kashmir to receive training in use of arms, are now quite eager to return home, join their separated families and spend rest of their lives  peacefully.

Their comeback should be facilitated both by the Central and the State governments.  Constant police surveillance can be there to check their routine activities. Gradually, they will themselves turn to a normal life.

There should be a strict ban imposed on the forces for their resorting to reckless use of force while dealing with the peaceful protesters.  The declaration of zero tolerance assured by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh before the Kashmiri people should be adhered to in letter and spirit.

As was repeatedly demanded by the previous government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayed, the Indian paramilitary forces, now largely  the Central Reserve Police Force, be withdrawn from the cities and towns to be replaced by the State police. This will undoubtedly reduce instances of human rights violations being committed all over the State. This popular demand has not met with any positive response. Needless to mention here that the imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in force in the State since 1990 does not empower or authorise the State authorities to initiate any inquiry against the forces including the army, the BSF, the CRPF and other paramilitary troops.

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US Flag-Burning Marks War Anniversary in Iraq

March 21, 2009

Sadr Supporters Rally for Release of Detainees

Posted March 20, 2009

Protesters marched through the streets, burning American flags and chanting “no, no for occupation.” It was yet another reminder of just how much resentment remains in Iraq over the American military presence.

The supporters of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets in numerous Iraqi cities after Friday prayers, calling on US and Iraqi forces to release detained members of their faction who “were not involved in acts of violence against Iraqis in accordance with the directives of Sayyid Moqtada al-Sadr.”

The protests come in the wake of the six-year anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, at a time when many are wondering how much longer the American presence will continue and how much longer the Iraqi populace will have to wait for a return to normalcy.

Related Stories

compiled by Jason Ditz [email the author

MIDEAST: Israelis Using ‘Excessive’ Force Against Protesters

March 20, 2009

By Mel Frykberg | Inter Press Service

RAMALLAH, Mar 19 (IPS) – The critical wounding of a U.S. activist has highlighted the excessive use of force by Israeli forces.

The activist, Tristan Anderson, 38, was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers during a protest against Israel’s separation barrier in the Palestinian West Bank last week. He remains in intensive care in Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Anderson was one of approximately 400 international, Palestinian and Israeli protestors taking part in a demonstration in the village of Ni’ilin, near the central West Bank city Ramallah, when he was hit by a teargas canister.

Since Israel’s devastating three-week war on Gaza, human rights organisations and activists have accused the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) of using indiscriminate violence and testing new weapons on unarmed protestors.

The teargas canister which hit Anderson is a new variety being used by the IDF, and is particularly lethal if fired directly at protestors.

The gas canister can travel over 400 metres. It does not make a noise when fired, or emit a smoke tail, and has a propeller for mid-air acceleration. A combination of velocity and silence increases the danger it poses.

Witnesses gave testimonies to the media and to human rights organisations that they saw Israeli soldiers aiming at Anderson before they shot the canister from a distance of about 60 metres. It hit him directly on the forehead. The impact of the canister caused severe damage to the right eye, and Anderson has had to undergo critical brain surgery.

Israeli soldiers continued to fire teargas canisters towards the wounded man and the people surrounding him as he lay critically injured on the ground and Palestinian medics tried to give him first aid.

Later, a Palestinian ambulance trying to rush Anderson to hospital was blocked at least five minutes by Israeli soldiers. Only after other foreigners engaged the soldiers in heated debate did they allow the ambulance to pass.

Anderson was then delayed another 15 minutes while an Israel ambulance was called, because Palestinian ambulances are not allowed to cross into Israeli territory without special permit.

Jonathan Pollack, an Israeli activist who witnessed the event said that the soldiers had fired unnecessarily. “There was no way that their lives were even remotely in danger or that they might have been injured,” Pollack told IPS.

“Even if the IDF (Israeli defence forces) argument was true that they had been the targets of stones before they shot him, no stone could travel uphill for 60 metres and threaten them, and Anderson had definitely not been involved in any violent activity.”

Pollack said the demonstration had finished and most of the demonstrators had left when the teargas was fired. “At the time of the shooting there were no confrontations, and Anderson was standing amongst about 10 remaining protestors just milling about.”

Sarit Michaeli, spokeswoman for the Israeli rights group B’Tselem says that the IDF has at times used crowd control measures indiscriminately. “The teargas canister is not meant to be used as a weapon or fired directly at protestors but in an arc or at an angle,” she told IPS.

“We have many credible witnesses, and I myself have seen soldiers fire at people who are nowhere near and have nothing to do with any stone- throwing. And even when the soldiers have the right to shoot on grounds of self-defence, they are obliged to use the minimum of force and in a strictly proportionate way.”

B’Tselem is concerned about the even more severe crowd control methods being employed by the IDF.

An Israeli journalist was recently shot in the chest with a rubber-coated steel bullet (marble-sized metal ball covered in 0.5mm of rubber) when the soldiers knew full well the target was a journalist. Towards the end of last year the IDF began once again to use Ruger rifles, which use .22 calibre ammunition, against unarmed protestors.

“We have written a letter to the judge advocate general (JAG) protesting and questioning the use of Ruger rifles,” said Michaeli.

According to B’Tselem, back in 2001 then JAG Major-General Menachem Finkelstein had ordered that use of the Ruger rifle be stopped. The decision followed the killing of several children in the Gaza Strip by Ruger rifle fire, and an order by the Central Command to cease using the rifle. The order came after it was found that soldiers often used the rifle against demonstrators without justification.

Furthermore, Israeli soldiers are using live ammunition against protestors, contrary to IDF laws of engagement.

Although Anderson’s case made international headlines because of his status as a foreigner, four Palestinians were killed by the IDF in the village of Ni’ilin last year.

Ahmed Mousa, 10, was shot dead with live ammunition in July last year. The following day Yousef Amira, 17, was left brain-dead, and died a week later after he too had been shot in the head with rubber-coated steel bullets.

Arafat Rateb Khawaje, 22, was shot in the back with live ammunition in December. The same day Mohammed Khawaje, 20, was also shot in the head with live ammunition. He died three days later.

The villagers of Ni’ilin and their supporters have been protesting weekly against the confiscation of their land by Israeli authorities for expansion of nearby Israeli settlements, and against the separation barrier.

The separation barrier, which slices through the village, divides Palestinian farmers from their land. It was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. (END/2009)

Rage on the streets in Calgary as Bush visit begins

March 18, 2009

by Bill Graveland and Shannon Montgomery | Daily Herald-Tribune, Alberta, March 17, 2009

CALGARY – The rage on the man’s face was evident as he berated police officers preventing him from entering the building where former U.S. president George W. Bush was making a speech Tuesday.

[A woman holds a protest sign outside the Calgary convention centre where former U.S. President George Bush was making a speech to the business community in Calgary, Alberta March 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)]A woman holds a protest sign outside the Calgary convention centre where former U.S. President George Bush was making a speech to the business community in Calgary, Alberta March 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)

‘‘There is a war criminal upstairs that has committed murder,” screamed the man, who identified himself only as Splits the Sky. ‘‘If I try to get in there you will arrest me. What is wrong with you?‘‘I am going in there and make a citizen’s arrest,” he said as he attempt to push past police. ‘‘Arrest George Bush. Arrest George Bush.”

A few minutes later he was handcuffed and hustled past a long line of Calgary’s business elite waiting to get inside the Telus Convention Centre.

Protest organizers say at least four demonstrators were arrested at Tuesday’s event.

About 60 Calgary police officers were on duty outside to control between 200 and 300 people carrying signs that read ‘‘No to U.S. Crimes Against Humanity,” ‘‘Indict Bush For War Crimes” and ‘‘Canada Is Not Bush Country.”

Another sign read ‘‘Shoe Him The Door” – a reference to the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoe at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad in December.

Two Calgary men showed up at the demonstration to support the former U.S. president. Their signs read ‘‘The World Is Safer Because of George W. Bush.”

‘‘Thank you, George Bush. Thank you, George Bush,” they chanted.

‘‘He doesn’t sit down and negotiate with terrorists,” shouted one of the men, who identified himself as Merle.

‘‘Try doing this in Cuba,” he said as he pointed to the jeering protesters.

There were shoes everywhere during the protest. A young woman wearing a hood, orange jumpsuit and a name tag that said ‘‘Club Gitmo” was pulling a shoe cannon along with a target festooned with pictures of Bush.

An obviously amused police officer told her to leave.

Some of those opposed to Bush’s visit have said he should be arrested as a war criminal because of alleged torture at military prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

Tuesday’s speech was one of the first public appearances Bush has made since leaving the presidency in January with a dismal approval rating and much of the blame for his country’s collapsing economy. The speech was closed to the media.

‘‘It’s not too late to turn back. Walk away,” the demonstrators yelled to some of the 1,500 guests invited to hear Bush speak to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

A couple of hundred people lined up early to go through a special security screening room before entering the hall where Bush was speaking.

A few said the former president has to take some of the responsibility for what has happened in the United States, but also has the right to talk about his administration.

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