Amnesty Urges Saudi To Release Female Activists

Source

By Staff, Agencies

Amnesty Urges Saudi To Release Female Activists

Amnesty International called on Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately release women human rights activists, including those who are “being punished for daring to drive.”

The kingdom on Thursday marked the second anniversary of the end of the ban on women driving.

“It’s been almost two years since the Saudi authorities detained Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, and a group of Saudi women activists simply for demanding equality and defending human rights in the kingdom,” the group’s UK chapter said in a statement.

“For the first three months of their detention, several of the women activists endured torture, physical abuse and other forms of ill-treatment when they were held incommunicado and in solitary confinement with no access to their families or lawyers.”

Up until June 24, 2018, Saudi Arabia had been the only country in the world to prevent women from driving, and even jailed some who defied the ban.

Amnesty UK has launched a “Beep for freedom” campaign in support of the persecuted women’s rights defenders.

The campaign involves supporters sharing photos of themselves behind the wheel of a car or sharing the campaign’s “Beep for Freedom” car horn symbol, with an appeal to the Saudi authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release the activists and drop all charges against them.

Dissidents in the conservative country are often arbitrarily detained without charge or trial.

US Activist: Internal Crises Overwhelming Racist US, People Will Not Retreat

US Activist: Internal Crises Overwhelming Racist US, People Will Not Retreat 

By Elham Hashemi

The latest riots and looting in the United States of America were triggered by the cold-blooded killing of the US citizen George Floyd. The entire planet knows the sad story of Floyd no need to mention in it here.

But this story is only the tip of the iceberg. For those who think that Floyd’s killing is the real reason that made streets of different US states and regions flood with protestors and rioters, you are mistaken. Underneath the tip of the iceberg is what has been accumulating for long years.

If you know the US well, you must know by now that there is no universal healthcare, there are starvation wages, there exists mass incarceration, the US has a long history of police brutality, there is a lack of opportunities, racist politicians are everywhere, a racist justice system exists, there are no reparations and there is no access to affordable education.

With the coming of Covid-19 and the state of chaos across the country, and the sad crime of killing Floyd, it seems that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Thanks to alternative and social media networks, nothing is hidden; information flows in specs of a second through fiber optic technology to reach millions across the world.

News activist and analyst Sam G. from the city of Michigan told al-Ahed news that “Information is not monopolistic anymore. People across the world have become news junkies contributing to the multiplicity of informative voices as well as provide information on first-hand experience and what is happening in each country.”

Sam told al-Ahed “Corona, the pandemic which probably should be thanked at a certain point, revealed the spirit of each country, that is, those who are interested in giving more importance to the economy, as is the case of the United States, while other countries such as Iran carried out a coronavirus control policy where the health of its people was given more importance despite being financially sanctioned by the United States where its people are suffering from the individualistic policies of their government.

“The difference is clear, economy versus health, money versus life and here are the countries that suffer the most that are setting the example.”

The activist noted “The United States has loads of internal crises that it needs to overcome. The political crisis has extended to reach US President Donald Trump; his own officials who can no longer support his statements and poor decisions.”

“We are talking about a government that is racist towards its people. It is a country that is sinking in problems and complex issues and has a government that is sort of living in a state of denial. The US suffers an economic crisis where unconventional oil companies declared bankruptcy and the state had to go out to subsidize them while people continue to die for not being able to access the health system that is private and segregating.” 

This, according to Sam, “leads to an unprecedented social crisis that proves once again that the Trump administration has no intention of improving its own country.”

According to Sam, this is only the beginning of change in the US as well as the world and its order. The activist thinks that people are not willing to retreat or stop protesting until they see the arrest of all officers involved in the killing of Floyd and see action in terms of protecting the rights of African Americans at least.

In many parts of the world, the death of yet another black man at the hands of the police in the United States set off mass protests against police brutality. For many activists and community organizers, Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer was a blunt reminder of Chicago’s racial divide and history of police brutality against African Americans.

Between 2013 and 2019, police in the United States killed 7,666 people, according to data compiled by Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group. In 2019 alone, more than 1,000 people were killed by police, according to Mapping Police Violence, a research group.

Several states have called in National Guard troops to help quell the protests, some of which have turned violent. Cities nationwide have also implemented curfews, but protesters appear undeterred.

The US has even failed in ensuring the right of citizens to protest, which is the simplest form of freedom of expression and human rights in the so-called land of democracies and freedoms. According to the human rights group Amnesty International, police tactics used so far can trigger escalating violence. “Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict are inevitable,” read the statement, adding that police “should demilitarize their approach and engage in dialogue with protest organizers”.

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Over 250 Artists, Writers Urge Israel to Stop Siege of Gaza

By The Levant

Global Research, May 18, 2020

The Levant 16 May 2020

More than 250 global artists and writers including rocker Peter Gabriel, director Ken Loach and actor Viggo Mortensen have appealed to Israel to stop the “siege” of Gaza.

The coronavirus epidemic could have a devastating effect in “the world’s largest open-air prison”, the artists said in an online letter.

“Long before the global outbreak of COVID-19 threatened to overwhelm the already devastated healthcare system in Gaza, the UN had predicted that the blockaded coastal strip would be unliveable by 2020,” the letter said.

“With the pandemic, Gaza’s almost two million inhabitants, predominantly refugees, face a mortal threat in the world’s largest open-air prison,” it added.

Other signatories included poet Taha Adnan, Canadian writer Naomi Klein and British group Massive Attack.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007 when the Islamist movement Hamas took control of the enclave.

Israel argues the measures are necessary to isolate Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by most Western countries.

It says that restrictions on some imports to the coastal strip are designed to deny Hamas materials that could be used to enhance its fighting capabilities.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the group took control of the enclave, but reached a tentative truce in late 2018 that was renewed after successive flare-ups last year.

The Gaza Strip also borders Egypt, which severely restricts movement in and out of the territory.

“Well before the ongoing crisis, Gaza’s hospitals were already stretched to breaking point through lack of essential resources denied by Israel’s siege. Its healthcare system could not cope with the thousands of gunshot wounds, leading to many amputations,“ the artists said.

“Reports of the first cases of coronavirus in densely-populated Gaza are therefore deeply disturbing,“ they said.

“We back Amnesty International’s call on all world governments to impose a military embargo on Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law.“

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Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Source is AFP

American Jews Have Abandoned Gaza — And the Truth. The Struggle for Human Decency

The original source of this article is The Levant

Copyright © The LevantThe Levant, 2020

Leading Saudi Activist Dies in Detention: Amnesty International

Leading Saudi Activist Dies in Detention: Amnesty International

By Staff, Agencies

A leading activist serving an 11-year prison sentence has died in detention in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said, highlighting the kingdom’s human rights record.

Abdullah al-Hamid, 69, died after a stroke in his prison cell earlier this month, according to multiple rights groups, including Amnesty International.

“Dr. Hamid was a fearless champion for human rights in Saudi Arabia,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director at Amnesty.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends, who for the past eight years had been deprived of his presence as a result of the state’s inhumane repression.”

“He, and all other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, should never have been in jail in the first place,” Maalouf added.

Hamid was a founding member of the rights group the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association [ACPRA] and was sentenced to prison in March 2013, the rights groups said.

He faced multiple charges, including “breaking allegiance” to the Saudi ruler, “inciting disorder” and seeking to disrupt state security, Amnesty explained.

Other ACPRA members have also been imprisoned in the past, including another co-founder, Mohammad al-Qahtani, who was jailed for 10 years in 2013, Amnesty said.

Saudi Arabia has long faced international criticism over its human rights record. That criticism has grown since Mohammed bin Salman was named crown prince and heir to the Saudi throne in June 2017.

The murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 and the increased repression of dissidents have overshadowed so-called efforts by the prince to modernize the economy and society.

Amnesty International Calls on Saudi Authorities to Release Prisoner of Conscience Has Been in A Coma

Source

2020-04-19


Amnesty International called on The Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately release Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, a prisoner of conscience who remains detained despite being in coma and in critical condition early April.

“It is heartbreakingly cruel that Dr Abdullah al-Hamid remains in detention, even while in a coma,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director. “Dr al-Hamid, and all other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, should never have been in jail in the first place. All those imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their human rights must be immediately and unconditionally released.

The organization also called on the authorities to consider taking into account the immediate release of elderly prisoners, thoe with current health conditions, who are still at risk of contracting Covid-19, as well as all who are still awaiting trial.

In March 2012, Dr al-Hamid and Mohammad al-Qahtani were arrested and interrogated regarding their work with ACPRA and their peaceful activism. In March 2013, they were sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison respectively, on charges of “breaking allegiance to the ruler”, “questioning the integrity of officials”, “seeking to disrupt security and inciting disorder by calling for demonstrations”, and “instigating international organizations against the Kingdom”.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid, a prominent human rights activist, is serving a 11-year prison sentence for his peaceful activity and suffering from high blood pressure. The doctor told him, three months ago, that he needed to have heart surgery in the coming months, and prison authorities have threatened him that if he is told His family, on his health, will cut his contact with his family, and among the prisoners of conscience still in detention in the Kingdom are many prominent women’s rights activists, including Lujain al-Hathloul.

It is reported that conditions in many of Saudi Arabia’s overcrowded prisons, like its counterpart in Bahrain, greatly increase the risk of the spread of Covid-19 virus. Amnesty International has previously expressed concern about the authorities’ failure to provide adequate medical care in the country’s prisons.

Bahrain’s Chief Opposition Leader: Five Years Behind Bar

Bahrain’s Chief Opposition Leader: Five Years Behind Bar
Sheikh Ali Salman,

By Sondoss Al-Asaad

Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq opposition group, embarks on his fifth-year journey of oppression and persecution as a prisoner of conscience, since 2014.

The top opposition leader is unfairly being held in custody merely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and opinion and for demanding democratic reforms including a constitutional monarchy and elected prime minister.

Those demands; however, are seen by Manama as crimes of ”inciting hatred and insulting public institutions.”

In November 2018, the Bahraini High Criminal Court of Appeal overturned an acquittal granted to him and blatantly sentenced the leader, along with fellow opposition leaders, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and former MP Ali al-Aswad, to life in prison, accusing them of scheming with the state of Qatar “to overthrow the regime.”

Responding to the arbitrary verdict, Amnesty International commented that it ”a travesty of justice” that demonstrates the Bahraini government’s ”relentless efforts to silence any form of dissent.”

For its part, Al-Wefaq political bloc, which Sheikh Ali Salman leads, slammed the verdict saying it is “unacceptable and provocative” ruling and would worsen the political crisis.

Remarkably, the espionage accusation just arose as an issue in the aftermath of the diplomatic row with the Qatari regime, in 2017, as it dates back to a 2011 clip of a phone call aimed to mediate between the Bahraini government and opposition parties then.

Bahrain’s Independent Commission of Inquiry, aka BICI’s well-known report, cites opposition sources suggesting that Qatar, then, could act as the sponsor of a proposed US initiative, and which was approved by the opposition but rejected by the government.

The tiny Gulf archipelago has been wracked by unrest, since February 2011, when thousands of citizens kicked off to the streets of Manama demanding justice, democracy and equal opportunities.

Nevertheless, the peaceful demonstrators were violently suppressed, with the assistance of neighboring countries’ troops, especially from Saudi Arabia.

Ever since assembly has been outlawed, opposition groups have been dissolved and dissents have been either jailed, denaturalized or exiled.

The BICI, also known locally as the Bassiouni Commission, was established by the King of Bahrain, tasked with looking into the incidents that occurred during the 2011 unrest.

In November 2011, the commission released a detailed report, which criticizes Bahrain’s security forces for using ”excessive manner that was, on many occasions, unnecessary, disproportionate, and indiscriminate” and which “could not have happened without the knowledge of higher echelons of the command structure.”

The BICI’s report further confirms the government’s use of systematic torture and other forms of physical and psychological abuse on detainees, as well as other human rights violations.

Sheikh Salman, along with hundreds of human rights advocates, top opposition leaders and prisoners of conscience, is currently held in the notorious Jaw Prison, known for its inhumane and unsanitary environment that infringes international detention standards.

After five years of arbitrary detention, to which the international community appallingly turns blind eyes and deaf ears, it is time that the Bahraini government to immediately and unconditionally release the peaceful leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, who is obviously convicted on politically-motivated charges.

كيف تلقف المجتمع البحريني والدولي خطوة إعتقال الأمين العام للوفاق؟
تظاهرة تضامنية مع زعيم المعارضة الشيخ علي سلمان في الذكرى الخامسة لاعتقاله
محاكمة زعيم المعارضة تحت المجهر القانوني.. المخالفات جسيمة
Claims of false evidence in case against Bahraini opposition figure

Condemnations pour in as court exonerates Saudi officials in Khashoggi murder case

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

A protester wears a mask depicting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with red painted hands next to people holding posters of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during the demonstration outside the Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, October 25, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

SourceTuesday, 24 December 2019 8:01 AM  [ Last Update: Wednesday, 25 December 2019 6:53 AM ]

A Saudi court ruling over the state-sponsored killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi has drawn outrage across the political spectrum, including from a number of states, the United Nations, several rights groups and even some American lawmakers. They have unanimouslydenounced the ruling that dismissed charges against top Saudi officials, saying it failed to deliver justice.

In a televised press conference in Riyadh on Monday, Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor Shaalan al-Shaalan announced the conclusion of the so-called trial in the Khashoggi case that had been closed to the public.

He said that out of the 31 suspects investigated in connection with the killing, 21 had been arrested and 11 put on trial.

Death sentences were eventually issued for five people and jail terms totaling 24 years were handed down to three others, he added, without naming any of those sentenced.

The remaining three, however, were found not guilty, including Saud al-Qahtani, a former top adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Ahmed al-Assiri, an ex-deputy intelligence chief, and Mohamed al-Otaibi, who was consul general in the kingdom’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul when the murder happened.

Both Qahtani and Assiri were relieved of their duties in the immediate aftermath of Khashoggi’s assassination last year. Qahtani and Otaibi were also sanctioned a year ago by the US Treasury for their involvement in the murder.

RSF: Justice trampled on with Saudi court verdict in Khashoggi case

RSF: Justice trampled on with Saudi court verdict in Khashoggi case

RSF says Riyadh wants to “permanently silence the suspects” behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi — an outspoken critic of the heir to the Saudi throne — went into self-imposed exile in the US in 2017. The Washington Post columnist entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to obtain paperwork he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée.

Inside Riyadh’s mission, he was confronted by a Saudi hit team, who killed him and brutally dismembered his body.

The CIA has concluded that bin Salman had ordered the murder. The journalist’s remains have yet to be found.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Shaalan claimed that Khashoggi’s killers had decided to murder him after their arrival in Istanbul.

“Our investigations show that there was no premeditation to kill at the beginning of the mission,” he claimed.

Shaalan’s claims sparked a wave of condemnations from the world body, human rights organizations and US legislators.

HRW: Trial ‘all but satisfactory’

Ahmed Benchemsi, spokesman for Human Rights Watch, told the Doha-based Al Jazeera broadcaster that the trial was “all but satisfactory.”

The case was “shrouded in secrecy since the beginning, and it’s still … until now … We do not know the identities of those masked perpetrators, we don’t know the specific charge leveled against who exactly,” he said.

“Saudi prosecutors did not even attempt to investigate the upper levels of this crime, and whether they played a role in ordering the killing, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” he added.

Adam Coogle, who researches Saudi Arabia for the HRW, underlined the need for an independent probe.

“Saudi Arabia’s absolution of its senior leadership of any culpability in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi raises serious concerns over the fairness of the criminal proceedings,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia’s handling of the murder, from complete denial to hanging the murder on lower-level operatives in a trial that lacked transparency, demonstrates the need for an independent criminal inquiry.”

Amnesty: Verdict ‘a whitewash’

In turn, Amnesty International has blasted the verdict as “a whitewash” and said Saudi officials have failed the slain journalist and his family.

“This verdict … brings neither justice nor the truth for Jamal Khashoggi and his loved ones. The trial has been closed to the public and to independent monitors, with no information available as to how the investigation was carried out,” Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said in a statement.

“The verdict fails to address the Saudi authorities’ involvement in this devastating crime or clarify the location of Jamal Khashoggi’s remains,” she added.

UN rapporteur: Masterminds walking free

In a series of tweets, Agnes Callamard, the UN rapporteur investigating Khashoggi’s killing, condemned the ruling as a “travesty,” noting that the trial had failed to consider the involvement of the state.

Agnes Callamard  

@AgnesCallamard · Dec 23, 2019Replying to @AgnesCallamard

j) Bottom line: the hit-men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free. They have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial. That is the antithesis of Justice. It is a mockery.

Agnes Callamard  

@AgnesCallamard

k) Impunity for the killing of a journalist commonly reveals political repression, corruption, abuse of power, propaganda, and even international complicity. All are present in #SaudiArabia killing of #JamalKhashoggi. (PM me for more comments.)

4763:22 PM – Dec 23, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy   290 people are talking about this   “The execution of Jamal Khashoggi demanded an investigation into the chain of command to identify the masterminds, as well as those who incited, allowed or turned a blind eye to the murder, such as the Crown Prince,” she wrote.

“This was not investigated. Bottom line: the hit men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free, they have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial. That is the antithesis of justice. It is a mockery.”

In her 101-page report released in June, Callamard said that there is “sufficient credible evidence” indicating that the heir to the Saudi throne bears responsibility for the murder and thus should be investigated.

Erdogan spox: Those ordering murder given immunity

Fahrettin Altun, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that the Saudi officials who had ordered the operation were “granted immunity.”

“To claim that a handful of intelligence operatives committed this murder is to mock the world’s intelligence — to say the least,” he tweeted.

UK: Khashoggi’s family deserve to see justice

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described Khashoggi’s murder as “a terrible crime.”

“Mr. Khashoggi’s family deserve to see justice done for his brutal murder. Saudi Arabia must ensure all of those responsible are held to account and that such an atrocity can never happen again,” he said in a statement.

Washington Post: An ‘insult’ to Khashoggi’s family

The Washington Post editorial board called Monday’s sentences a “travesty of justice.”

“The result is an insult to Khashoggi’s family and to all those, including a bipartisan congressional majority, who have demanded genuine accountability in the case,” it wrote in an op-ed.

The editorial board also warned the international community against welcoming the result of the Saudi trial.

“International acceptance of the result would not only be morally wrong but dangerous, too: It would send the reckless Saudi ruler the message that his murderous adventurism will be tolerated,” it said.

‘Trial comedy’

The dissident Saudi Twitter account Prisoners of Conscience criticized the trial of Khashoggi’s killers as a “comedy,” saying that all those involved in the crime should be held accountable.

“Just a year ago, the US intelligence published a report revealing correspondences between Saud al-Qahtani and Bin Salman before, during and following Khashoggi’s assassination,” it pointed out.

“Today, the Saudi judiciary claims that the crime took place without prior planning and acquits Saud al-Qahtani! What kind of independent judiciary is this?!” it added.

American lawmakers fume at sentences

Several US legislators have censured not only Saudi Arabia for the verdict but also US President Donald Trump, who has shielded bin Salman from blame for Khashoggi’s assassination and emphasized Riyadh’s lucrative arms deals with Washington instead.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, highlighted the CIA’s conclusion and slammed the trial as “a cover-up” by the Saudi regime.

“This sham trial, carried out by a despotic and lawless regime, looks more like a cover-up,” he said. “Maybe Donald Trump might want to stop proclaiming his love and affection for the Saudi dictatorship.”

Bernie Sanders  

@SenSanders

The CIA concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. This sham trial, carried out by a despotic and lawless regime, looks more like a cover-up.

Maybe Donald Trump might want to stop proclaiming his love and affection for the Saudi dictatorship. https://twitter.com/KarenAttiah/status/1209144376338911233 …Karen Attiah  

@KarenAttiah

Saudi Arabia’s “trial” and “investigation” of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder has been a complete sham.

Executing five nameless, faceless men without transparency and an investigation into the regime’s responsibility is not justice. It’s just more bloodshed. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/saudi-arabia-says-five-sentenced-to-death-in-killing-of-jamal-khashoggi/2019/12/23/02fc0ea4-256a-11ea-9cc9-e19cfbc87e51_story.html …

11.7K1:30 AM – Dec 24, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy   3,409 people are talking about this   Similarly, Democrat Senator Tim Kaine cited the CIA’s assessment on the case, urging the US government to seek justice for Khashoggi.

“Senior Saudi officials continue to escape accountability for the state-sponsored murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” said Kaine, who represents Virginia, where Khashoggi lived.

“The Trump Administration should be demanding justice for the brutal killing of a journalist and VA resident instead of ignoring the CIA’s assessment of who killed him,” Kaine added.

Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal blamed the US president for bin Salam’s evasion of responsibility.

“After a sham trial, the masterminds behind Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder walk away scot-free,” he said. “Trump is also culpable – having done next to nothing to hold the Crown Prince accountable for murdering a brave, truth-seeking journalist.”

Congressman Adam Schiff, who chairs the US House Intelligence Committee, rejected the Saudi prosecutor’s assertion that the Khashoggi’s killing had not been planned.

“This sentence is a continuation of the Kingdom’s effort to distance Saudi leadership, including the Crown Prince, from the brutal assassination of a journalist and US resident, Jamal Khashoggi,” he tweeted.

“This was a premeditated murder, not a ‘snap decision’ or rogue operation.”

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A Generation Deleted: American Bombs in Yemen Are Costing an Entire Generation Their Future

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Kashmir, genocide and the spirit of resistance

 

Kashmir, genocide and the spirit of resistance

Farhan Mujahid Chak

Kashmir, genocide and the spirit of resistance

NGO Genocide Watch has issued a genocide alert on Kashmir [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 August, 2019

Genocide Watch lists Ten Stages of the genocidal process. Now, Kashmir exhibits all those stages, especially when considering India’s current horrendous onslaught on Kashmiri civil liberties, writes Farhan Mujahid Chak.
What is so revolting about tyranny that it stirs the human spirit in such a way, compelling us to resist? Instinctively, the thought of oppression pierces at the very essence of our human condition.

Film, music, art and literature all celebrate those who, with an unconquerable will, struggle against all odds and defy persecution.

Yet, victory is no easy feat.

Throughout history one will find countless substantiations that victory comes from the esprit de résistance. And, prominent English author George Orwell’s evocative short story Animal Farm applauds just that, while reprimanding despotism.

Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own… What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion!”For Orwell, subjugation must be resisted, since acquiescence only prolongs suffering; there can be no two-minds about it.

With that thought, consider India’s settler-colonial project and unilateral, illegal and undemocratic revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy by abrogating article 370.

Condemned worldwide, reputable NGO’s such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all strongly chastised India.

Recently, the United Nations convened an emergency Security Council meeting, the first in over 50 years, on the deteriorating situation in Kashmir calling for respect of relevant UN resolutions.

More pecifically, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern at the ongoing human rights situation and David Haye, the UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression described the situation in Kashmir as ‘draconian’.

Yet, most terrifyingly, the renowned NGO Genocide Watch has issued a genocide alert on Kashmir – the first ever. This, in the backdrop of Modi, and other BJP leaders, monstrously using the grotesque term ‘Final Solution’ for Kashmir

Strictly, Genocide Watch lists Ten Stages of the genocidal process. Now, Kashmir exhibits all those stages, especially when considering India’s current horrendous onslaught on Kashmiri civil liberties, terrorising the entire population, cutting off all of their communication, flouting international law and norms, and conducting a litany of human rights abuses.First, an unforgiving binary of ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ labelled ‘classification,’ is disseminated.

In Kashmir, the Indian state translates “us” into supporters of their army/occupation forces, and ‘them’ to Kashmiri Muslims. Of course, preventative measures would include fostering universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic/racial divisions and actively promoting inclusion.

In Kashmir, the Indian state translates ‘us’ into supporters of their army/occupation forces, and ‘them’ to Kashmiri Muslims

Yet, this is precisely what the fascist Bhartiya Janata Party does not want. They need to spread the false threat of terror to rationalise their persecution.

Second, symbolisation’ is the process when, combined with visceral hate, symbols are forced upon unwilling members of the purported pariah group: such as the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge or Kashmiri Muslims with their distinctive language and apparel being issued ID cards designating them as Muslims.

Third, the genocidal project moves forward by clear ‘discrimination’ in which the dominant group uses law, custom, and political power to deny Kashmiri Muslims basic rights.

It is driven by an exclusionary ideology and legitimises the victimisation of Kashmiri Muslims by labels of such as ‘separatist’ ‘fanatic’ and ‘terrorist.’

Fourth, heightened levels of bias, prejudice and disempowerment lead to the ‘dehumanisation’ stage, which incapacitates the normal human revulsion against murder.

Heightened levels of bias, prejudice and disempowerment lead to the ‘dehumanisation’ stage, which incapacitates the normal human revulsion against murder

At this stage, hate propaganda in print, on hate radios, and in social media is used to vilify the victim group – Kashmiri Muslims. It is even incorporated into Hindutva school textbooks, preparing the way for incitement.

Fifth, the grotesque phenomenon of genocide is always well-planned and requires ‘organisation.’ This is done by the Indian state, that uses Hindutva militias to provide deniability of state responsibility – such as Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants, who may be disguised as the additional 38,000 India soldiers being sent to Kashmir.

Recall, that there are already nearly 700,000 heavily armed Indian Army troops and police that dominate Kashmir. Why send more?

Sixth, extremists need to enhance ‘polarisation’ – in order to drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarising propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction.

Hindutva extremists target moderates – from all religions/backgrounds, intimidating and silencing the centre. Moderates from the perpetrators’ own group are most able to stop genocide. For this reason, all those who had previously been dealing with the Indian state are now under arrest, including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

Seventh, at this ‘preparation’ stage, BJP leaders have, chillingly, spoken about the “Final Solution” which they use as euphemisms to cloak their intentions of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Eighth, as the stages of genocide advance, ‘persecution’ is heightened. The victim group’s most basic human rights are systematically violated through extrajudicial killings, rape torture and forced displacement.

Death lists are drawn up and property is expropriated. Currently, Kashmiri Muslims are locked down, subject to arbitrary arrest, torture, rape, and murder.

The victim group’s most basic human rights are systematically violated through extrajudicial killings, rape torture and forced displacement

Ninth, ‘extermination’ begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” At this terrifying moment, the armed forces often work with RSS militias to do the killing.

Tenth, the final stage ‘denial’ lasts throughout the entire genocidal process. It is among the surest indicators of the likelihood of genocidal massacres.

The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. All the while they claim all is normal in Kashmir. In Kashmir, the denial has gone to such laughable levels that Modi and the BJP say their goals are to “bring prosperity and development” and to “end terrorism.”

Most worrisome, India is declaring to the world that they have begun to gradually ease the communications blockade. That is false.

This cowardly rhetoric of disingenuous ‘easing’ of the lockdown is used to deflect international attention. A total internet, land-line and communication ‘blackout’ is ongoing. And, ominously, foreshadows something more sinister forthcoming. That is, the real possibility of genocide in Kashmir.

Yet, amid these awful scenes of death, desolation and despair, Kashmiris have only become emboldened with the spirit of ‘rebellion’.

There is no other choice. Faced with an unruly, unforgiving adversary, all must unite.

Farhan Mujahid Chak is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Qatar University.

Report on Hassan Diab’s Illegal Extradition from Canada. The Segal Report

Global Research, July 27, 2019
Hassan Diab Support Committee 25 July 2019

We were informed that the Department of Justice will release tomorrow (Friday July 26) the findings of an external review of Dr. Hassan Diab‘s extradition to France in 2014.

The external review was conducted by Murray Segal, former Deputy Attorney General of Ontario. Mr. Segal was asked to assess whether Department of Justice officials followed the law and departmental procedures while pursuing France’s request to extradite Diab.

 

Background

Dr. Hassan Diab is a Canadian citizen and sociology professor who lives in Ottawa. He was extradited from Canada to France in November 2014, even though the Canadian extradition judge, Robert Maranger, described the evidence presented against Diab as “very problematic”, “convoluted”, “illogical”, and “suspect”. However, given the low threshold of evidence in Canada’s Extradition Act, the judge felt compelled to order Diab’s extradition.

Diab spent more than three years in prison in France while the decades-long investigation in his case was ongoing – this despite the fact that Canada’s Extradition Act only authorizes extradition to stand trial, not to continue an investigation.

In January 2018, the French investigating judges dismissed all charges against Diab and ordered his release. They stated that there is consistent evidence that Diab was not in France at the time of the 1980 bombing in Paris that tragically killed four people and injured dozens. They also notably underlined the numerous contradictions and misstatements contained in the anonymous intelligence, and cast serious doubts about its reliability. The investigating judges also stressed that all fingerprint and palm print analysis excluded Diab.

Shortly thereafter, Diab was released from prison in France, and returned to his home and family in Canada. He had spent almost ten years of his life either imprisoned or living under draconian bail conditions, including more than three years in near solitary confinement in a French jail.

In June 2018, CBC News reported that a key fingerprint analysis exonerating Diab was not disclosed to the court in Canada during the extradition proceedings. The court in Canada was told that no such evidence existed, when in fact the fingerprint analysis that excluded Diab was done in early 2008, many months before France requested Diab’s extradition. CBC News also reported that in 2009 a senior lawyer at the Canadian Department of Justice (DOJ) urged the French authorities to obtain new handwriting ‘evidence’ against Diab when the extradition case was about to collapse. In another effort to shore up the case, the DOJ lawyer requested another fingerprint analysis of a police document signed by the suspect as he believed that the evidence would be very powerful in getting Hassan extradited. When the RCMP fingerprint analysis excluded Diab, the DOJ lawyer never disclosed this fact to the court in Canada or to the defense.

Numerous human rights, civil society organisations, and labor unions – including Amnesty International Canada, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), among others – have called on the Canadian government to conduct an independent public inquiry into Diab’s extradition, as well as to undertake a complete review of the Extradition Act so no other Canadian would go through what Hassan Diab and his family had to endure.

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Amnesty: «Israel’s» Mass Demolition of Palestinian Homes A «War Crime»

By Staff, Agencies

Amnesty International yesterday slammed Israeli authorities for the mass demolition of Palestinian homes in Sur Baher – occupied al-Quds [Jerusalem], and urged the international community to take action.

“Israeli” forces carried out a longstanding demolition order Monday morning, targeting a number of buildings in the community that lies in both the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds. Dozens of residential apartments were destroyed.

In its statement, the global human rights organization pulled no punches in condemning the home demolitions.

“These demolitions are a flagrant violation of international law and part of a systematic pattern by the ‘Israeli’ authorities’ to forcibly displace Palestinians in the occupied territories,” said Saleh Higazi, deputy Middle East and North Africa director for Amnesty International.

“Such actions amount to war crimes,” the Amnesty official added.

According to Amnesty, while “‘Israel’ has attempted to justify these demolitions under the guise of security by claiming the homes are too close to the wall/fence,” the claim “does not stand up to scrutiny”.

“The truth is that for decades ‘Israel’s’ authorities have taken arbitrary and disproportionate measures in the name of security to expand their control over Palestinian land and push Palestinians out of areas they consider strategic, forcibly displacing entire communities and unlawfully destroying tens of thousands of homes,” the statement continued.

Amnesty International demanded that the “Israeli” entity “immediately end its cruel and discriminatory policy of home demolitions and forced displacement”, adding that “instead of destroying families’ homes” the entity should “dismantle” the parts of the wall built inside the occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law.

The human rights group affirmed that “unlawful transfer of civilians in occupied territory violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

“Other states have a responsibility to pressure the ‘Israeli’ authorities to adhere to their duties under international humanitarian law and ensure protection for the occupied Palestinian population,” Amnesty said.

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New Multimedia Site Tells Story of US-Led Coalition’s Destruction of Syria’s Raqqa

ST

Created on Monday, 10 June 2019 14:02

Ruins of Liberation’ site gives rare behind-the-scenes look at Amnesty’s work amid the ruins of Raqqa.

June 6th marked the second anniversary of the so-called Washington-led “anti-ISIS operation” which killed at least 1,600 civilians

I witnessed a level of destruction not comparable to anything I’ve seen in decades of covering the impact of war’ – Donatella Rovera, Amnesty researcher.

Marking the second anniversary of the start of the US-led Coalition’s military offensive in Raqqa, Syria, Amnesty International has launched “The Ruins of Liberation” – a multimedia storytelling site giving a behind-the-scenes look at its investigations in the bombed-out city.

Panos photographer Andrea DiCenzo accompanied Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor Donatella Rovera on a visit to Raqqa this February, documenting her investigation, according to the Amnesty International website.

Images by DiCenzo and Rovera are combined with audio commentary, with Rovera giving an intimate description of the people she met and the reality she exposed.

Rovera and her fellow researchers – including a team of specialists in remote sensing and open-source investigation – have investigated the Raqqa military campaign for over 18 months. They visited more than 200 strike sites, interviewed more than 400 survivors and witnesses, and released several reports, culminating in an unprecedented investigation in partnership with Airwars that documented the deaths of more than 1,600 civilians as a result of Coalition attacks – far more than the 180 deaths the Coalition has so far admitted.

Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen, who was in Raqqa recently, described the city – two years on from the start of the battle – as still “completely devastated”.

Donatella Rovera said in her report published by the Amnesty International website on Thursday, June 6th, 2019:

“On the ground in Raqqa, I witnessed a level of destruction not comparable to anything I’ve seen in decades of covering the impact of war.

“This site brings home the reality of the suffering I encountered and explains why I kept returning: to seek justice for civilians trying to piece together their lives.

“Two years on, the US-led Coalition must investigate the full scale of civilian casualties it caused, and ensure victims and their families receive full reparation and compensation.”

Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen, who was in Raqqa recently, described the city – two years on from the start of the battle – as still “completely devastated.”

The US-led Coalition’s campaign allegedly to oust the “Islamic State” armed [terror] group from Raqqa was among the most destructive in modern warfare. The offensive – lasting from 6 June to 17 October 2017 and led by US, UK and French forces – killed and injured thousands of residents, and reduced homes, businesses and infrastructure to rubble.

Civilians trapped by the fighting were prevented from fleeing by ISIS snipers and mines. Many were killed in their homes by the Coalition’s air bombardments and indiscriminate artillery strikes. Despite this, then Coalition commander Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend claimed the offensive had been “the most precise air campaign in history”.

H.M

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Arms sales to Middle East increase dramatically, research shows

Saudi Arabia’s arms purchases grew by 192 percent over 2014-2018 (AFP)

By 

in

New York, United States

Arms flows to the Middle East grew by 87 percent in the past five years and now account for more than a third of the global trade, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report on Sunday.

The defence think tank’s annual survey showed that Saudi Arabia became the world’s top arms importer between 2014-18, with a growth of 192 percent compared to the preceding five years.

Egypt, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq also ranked in the top 10 list of global arms buyers.

The report shows how the United States and European nations sell jets, jeeps and other gear that is used in controversial wars in Yemen and beyond, SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman told Middle East Eye.

“Weapons from the US, the UK and France are in high demand in the Gulf, where conflicts and tensions are rife. Russia, France and Germany dramatically increased their arms sales to Egypt in the past five years,” said Wezeman.

The growth in Middle Eastern imports was, in part, driven by the need to replace military gear that was deployed and destroyed in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya, said Wezeman.

It was also driven by tensions and a regional arms race, he added.

Exporting American’s gun problem? The proposed rule that has monitors up in arms

Read More »

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel are readying for a potential conflict with Iran, said the 12-page report. Since 2017, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and others have rowed with Qatar in a rift, which, at times, looked like it could turn violent.

Between 2014-18, Saudi received 94 combat jets fitted with cruise missiles and other guided weapons from the US and Britain.

Over the next five years, it is set to get 98 more jets, 83 tanks and defensive missile systems from the US, 737 armoured vehicles from Canada, five frigates from Spain, and Ukrainian short-range ballistic missiles.

Between 2014-18, the UAE received missile defence systems, short-range ballistic missiles and some 1,700 armoured personnel carriers from the US as well as three corvettes from France, the report says.

Qatari imports grew by 225 percent over the period, including German tanks, French combat aircraft and Chinese short-range ballistic missiles. It is set to receive 93 combat aircraft from the US, France and Britain and four frigates from Italy.

Iran, which is under a UN arms embargo, accounted for just 0.9 percent of Middle Eastern imports.

For Wezeman, “the gap is widening” between Iran and its foes across the Gulf, which have more advanced weapons.

US remains top arms seller

The US has kept its position as the world’s top arms seller. Its exports grew by 29 percent these past five years, with more than half of its shipments (52 percent) going to customers in the Middle East.

British sales grew by 5.9 percent over the same period. A total of 59 percent of UK arms deliveries went to the Middle East — most of it combat aircraft destined for Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Arming governments in the turbulent Middle East is increasingly controversial in the West, said Patrick Wilcken, an arms control specialist with Amnesty International, a UK-based rights watchdog.

He pointed to cases where sales are merited – such as re-tooling Iraq’s army after it lost much of its hardware and territory during the so-called Islamic State (IS) group’s surprise attack in 2014.

But, more often, western arms end up being used in human rights abuses, he added, pointing to Egypt’s crackdown on opponents, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

He blasted the “hypocrisy” of western governments not following their own rules by continuing to supply authoritarian leaders who commit wartime abuses or violations against their own people.

“A critical problem for the region is the emergence of armed groups like IS,” Wilcken told MEE.

A critical problem for the region is the emergence of armed groups like IS

– Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International

“In Yemen, totally unaccountable militias are being armed and supported by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which is setting the scene for a future period of instability and human rights violations.”

The problem has not gone unnoticed in western capitals.

In the US, lawmakers in both houses have passed resolutions to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition, though US President Donald Trump has vowed to veto the document if it reaches his desk.

In Britain, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a ban on arms exports to Saudi. Last month, a parliamentary committee concluded that the UK was on “the wrong side of the law” by arming Riyadh.

In October, Amnesty released a report about French-built armoured vehicles being used by Egyptian government forces to “disperse protests and crush dissent” in crackdowns between 2012-2015.

Germany, however, has taken a stand. This week, it extended until the end of March a unilateral freeze on arms supplies to Saudi over its war in Yemen and the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

This has caused a rift with Britain and France, its partners in European defence projects, as it puts a question mark over orders, including a $13.1bn deal to sell 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Riyadh.

Jeff Abramson, a scholar at the Arms Control Association, an advocacy group, said the US should follow Germany’s example.

“Instead of being challenged, the US continues to claim a larger share of an expanding global arms market,” Abramson told MEE.

“As such, the US should take the lead in promoting responsible behavior, rather than encouraging trade to repressive and irresponsible regimes, such as those in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

Other findings

The report made other interesting findings.

These past five years, Turkey has increased exports of armoured vehicles, missiles and other gear by 170 percent, becoming the world’s 14th most important arms exporter and the second biggest in the Middle East, after Israel.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were among Turkey’s top three importers of weapons in the past five years, despite Ankara being at odds with its customers over Khashoggi and the blockade on Qatar.

Continuing to buy arms from Turkey may be a bid by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to keep ties with Ankara on track despite the rift, said Wezeman.

Also, Algeria increased its arms imports by 55 percent over the past five years, with shipments from Russia, China, Germany and elsewhere.

This made it the world’s fifth biggest arms importer despite only having a $168bn economy.

Algeria buys arms for military prestige, to tackle militants from neighbouring Libya and because of its “long-standing rivalry with Morocco”, said Wezeman.

Sipri measures the volume of deliveries of arms, not the dollar value of deals. The volume of deliveries to each country tend to fluctuate, so it presents data in five-year periods that a give a more stable indication of trends.

Yemen: US Arms in Hands of ISIL, Intelligence Fiasco for Washington

Amnesty: UAE Diverting Arms to Militias Committing War Crimes in Yemen

February 6, 2019

Logo of Amnesty International organization

Amnesty International accused the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday of diverting arms supplied by Western and other states to “unaccountable militias accused of war crimes” in Yemen.

“Emirati forces receive billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Western states and others, only to syphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes,” Amnesty said in a statement.

“The proliferation of these fighting forces is a recipe for disaster for Yemeni civilians who have already been killed in their thousands, while millions more are on the brink of famine as a direct result of the war,” the human rights group said.

The UAE government media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Amnesty statement.

The UAE has trained and armed thousands of Yemeni fighters, mostly in southern provinces and western coastal areas.

Many Western nations provide weapons and intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition, which has been since March 2015 waging a brutal war on Yemen.

Amnesty called on states to suspend arms sales to the warring parties until there is “no longer a substantial risk” they may be used to breach humanitarian or human rights law.

SourceReuters

Yemen: US Arms in Hands of ISIL, Intelligence Fiasco for Washington

Yemen: US Arms in Hands of ISIL, Intelligence Fiasco for Washington

Wed Feb 06, 2019 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The disclosed news on Saudi Arabia and the UAE delivering American arms and weaponry to al-Qaeda and ISIL terrorists is an intelligence ignominy for Washington, President of Yemen’s Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said.

Al-Houthi referred to US claims on sending American arms by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to Al-Qaeda and Salafi militias, saying US is responsible for killing Yemenis.

He said if it comes true, it will bring an intelligence scandal for the US meaning that the country has no mechanism to control its arms and has given weaponry to others with no conditions and against international regulations, Yemeni news outlet Al-Masirah reported.

Al-Houthi called for taking practical steps and decisions to stop US support of Saudi coalition against Yemen as the real roadmap for supporting peace in Yemen.

CNN reported on Monday that Riyadh is “transferring” American weapons to al-Qaeda terrorists and Salafi militias in Yemen, a report revealed.

Saudi Arabia and its main accomplice in the war on Yemen, the UAE, “have used the US-manufactured weapons as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political landscape”, CNN said in the report, citing local commanders on the ground and analysts.

The report claimed that Ansarullah fighters have also managed to gain access to the weapons “exposing some of America’s sensitive military technology to Tehran”.

During his maiden state visit, US President Donald Trump went to Saudi Arabia where he signed a massive $110 billion arms deal with the oil-rich kingdom. According to the Department of Defense, the monarchy is breaking the terms of its arms deal with Washington.

The Monday report further suggested that the American president “has lost control over” the royal family, questioning whether it is “responsible enough to be allowed to continue buying the sophisticated arms and fighting hardware”.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Ansarullah movement.

Official UN figures say that more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led bombing campaign began in March 2015. But the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) believes that at least 56,000 people have lost their lives in the war. The violence has also left around two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million relying on aid amid an ongoing strict naval and aerial blockade. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Save the Children, a charity, has reported that more than 84,700 children under the age of five may have starved to death in Yemen since the Saudi regime and a coalition of its allies launched the brutal war on the already-impoverished nation.

Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis with more than 22 million people in need and is seeing a spike in needs, fuelled by ongoing conflict, a collapsing economy and diminished social services and livelihoods.

A number of Western countries, the US, the UK, and France in particular, are accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

an Oxfam representative stated that the US, UK, and French governments are behind millions of people starving in Yemen because they are “supporting this war”.

“We have 14 million people starving,” Richard Stanforth, Oxfam UK’s regional policy officer for the Middle East, told RT, adding that “British, French, American governments are all behind this, they are all supporting this war”.

A UN panel has compiled a detailed report of civilian casualties caused by the Saudi military and its allies during their war against Yemen, saying the Riyadh-led coalition has used precision-guided munitions in its raids on civilian targets.

 

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New Amnesty report examines how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor benefit from the israeli (apartheid state) occupation

New Amnesty report examines how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor benefit from the Israeli occupation

Logo from the new Amnesty International campaign to get TripAdvisor to stop listing in Israeli settlements. (Image: Amnesty International)

Logo from the new Amnesty International campaign to get TripAdvisor to stop listing in Israeli settlements. (Image: Amnesty International)

Yet, shortly after its announcement Airbnb met with Israeli government officials and announced that it would not be implementing the policy after all. It then issued a maddening set of contradictory statements, which amounted to it wanting to both have its settlement-cake and eat it too. As of this week, Airbnb has yet to implement its new ban policy, as Judy Maltz noted yesterday in Haaretz. In other words, Airbnb is profiting from war crimes, and hoping that it will be forgotten, while it obfuscates its criminality with contradictory statements.

 

Cover of the new Amnesty International report “Destination: Occupation”

The story continues. Yesterday, Amnesty International released a report titled “Destination: Occupation”. In addition to Airbnb and Booking.com, Amnesty also targets Expedia and TripAdvisor:

Digital companies are revolutionizing how the world does tourism. Corporations like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor, which dominate the multi-billion-dollar global online tourism industry, have become hugely successful. These companies all also list numerous hotels, B&Bs, attractions or tours in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). They are doing so despite knowing that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law, and a war crime.

Amnesty notes the hypocrisy of these companies when it comes to “ethical values” in no uncertain terms:

All four companies claim to operate under high ethical values and respect for the rule of law. However, none of these standards appears to influence the companies’ decisions in relation to settlement listings. In doing business with settlements, all four companies are contributing to, and profiting from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, which amount to war crimes under international criminal law. Their promotion of Israeli settlements in the OPT as a tourist destination also has the effect of “normalizing”, and legitimizing to the public what is recognized under international law as an illegal situation.

The report also goes further than the Human Rights Watch report, in that it notes how, even if Airbnb would finally apply its policy and pull out of West Bank Israeli settlements, it would still be a violator in East Jerusalem:

Finally, since the company [Airbnb] did not extend its delisting commitment to settlements in East Jerusalem, the company is and will continue to be involved in human rights violations associated with these settlements for as long as it continues to do business with them. (p. 79)

Judy Maltz notes that “the online property rental company has not explained why it made this exception” – but the explanation is simple – Human Rights Watch did not include East Jerusalem in their focus, so why would Airbnb even bother? Likewise, Amnesty included East Jerusalem, but not the occupied Syrian Jolan (Golan Heights). That too is occupied territory. So, there are layers of criminality here, and we are only scraping the icing of the cake.

Nonetheless, Amnesty is clear in relation to these companies and Occupied Palestinian Territories (including East Jerusalem):

‘To comply with their responsibilities to uphold international humanitarian law and respect human rights, Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor must therefore stop listing tourist accommodation, activities and attractions in settlements or run by settlers in the OPT, including East Jerusalem.’ (p. 85)

Expedia and Booking.com respond

Amnesty managed to get two responses – from Expedia and Booking.com, which it published in an annex to the report (p. 92-93).

Expedia’s response first feigns innocence:

Expedia Group does not operate hotels, vacation rentals or travel products itself.  We allow any accommodation provider to sign up to our platform in accordance with laws applicable to Expedia Group.

It then thanks Amnesty in what appears to be boilerplate customer-service:

Expedia Group is committed to providing transparency to our customers when travelling to disputed territories globally and we appreciate Amnesty International bringing its concerns on this complex issue to our attention.  In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we identify these accommodations as “Israeli Settlement” located in Palestinian Territory… The issues raised in your letter are an important input as we continue to assess the type of information we provide to our travelers.

Let’s not beat around the bush. This is not just about ‘information’ – it’s about withdrawing your listings. In any case, the claim that identifying a location as an “Israeli settlement” is exonerating, is confronted by Amnesty in the report section titled “Misleading advertising” (p. 77):

Allowing some properties and attractions to be listed as being in “Israel”, as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor do, not only deceives users, but also helps conceal information that can help reveal the illegal nature of the settlements. This can lead to customers inadvertently supporting illegal Israeli settlements. Describing them as located in an “Israeli settlement” or in “Palestinian Territories” is still only a partial truth. Users are still deprived of information revealing the critical fact that these properties have been built illegally on occupied Palestinian land. The failure to provide such important information is tantamount to misleading advertising, which is typically sanctioned under consumer protection laws.

Booking.com finally spoke, and like Expedia, started by claiming it is not involved in direct booking:

Booking. com does not buy or (re)sell any rooms nor does it operate as a travel or tourist agency.

Displaying shockingly bad taste, Booking.com continues on by promoting itself:

Our mission at Booking.com is to empower people to experience the world. The Booking.com website and mobile apps are available in over 40 languages, offer more than 28 million total reported listings, and cover more than 130,000 destinations in 228 countries and territories worldwide.

One would think that Booking.com copy pasted this from one of their advertisements. But this is serious – it’s an 96-page Amnesty International report with nearly 500 references, concerning violations of international law. This is no place to be bragging.

Like Expedia, Booking.com ends up claiming innocence because it writes “Israeli settlements”:

By marking properties concerned as being in ‘Israeli settlements’ we provide transparency to anybody looking (or not looking) for accommodations in these territories.

Right now, it is Airbnb which is taking the turn to keep silent, whereas TripAdvisor, with its wise-owl logo, is just playing the ostrich.

Israeli response

As we may have expected, Israel is ferocious. Maltz reports:

Minister Gilad Erdan said he had instructed the Strategic Affairs Ministry to examine the possibility of banning Amnesty personnel from entering and staying in Israel, saying the organization was promoting an anti-Semitic campaign. Erdan further said that he had approached the finance minister weeks ago with a request to end the organization’s tax benefits.

None of this is surprising. Although the Amnesty report is impressive, it is only a beginning. First we get the usual responses of trying-to-get-away-with-it from some companies, and silence from others; we get the usual hysteria from the Israeli government calling it anti-Semitic. But this is a process. It needs to result in action, which the companies will be unwilling to follow through with, since their complicity in crime is still assessed to give them profit.

Amnesty has made recommendations to the companies, as well as various involved governments (including Israel) and UN. Yet it has not made recommendations to consumers, as this is apparently not the mandate of Amnesty. But this is very much something that consumers all over the world need to be aware of. Since these companies are built on popular consumer participation, they can also be influenced by a consumer boycott. And that’s where you and me come into the picture.

 

AI: Verdict on Bahrain’s Salman Is Bitter Blow to Freedom of Expression

Local Editor

Amnesty International slammed Bahrain’s verdict on opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman.

Responding to the news that Bahrain’s Court of Cassation has upheld the conviction of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director Samah Hadid said:

“Today’s verdict is yet another nail in the coffin for the right to freedom of expression in Bahrain and exposes the country’s justice system as a complete farce. The decision to uphold Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and life prison sentence following an unfair trial highlights the authorities’ determination to silence critical voices”.

She went on to say, “The Bahraini authorities must quash Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally. They should also rescind the decision to dissolve the two opposition political groups, al-Wefaq and Wa’ad, and guarantee the right of everyone to freedom of association”.

Sheikh Ali Salman has been repeatedly arrested and charged for his perceived critical views of the authorities.

On 4 November 2018, he was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of alleged trumped-up spying charges. Two other al-Wefaq members, Ali al-Aswad and Sheikh Hassan Sultan, were convicted in their absence during the same trial.

On 28 January 2019, Bahrain’s Al Khalifa regime’s Supreme Court upheld a life term over the alleged “spying” for Qatar.

Source: AI, Edited by website team

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Bahraini Regime Court Overturns Sheikh Salman Acquittal, Hands Him Life Term

Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary General of Bahraini opposition group, al-Wefaq

Bahraini Regime Court Overturns Sheikh Salman Acquittal, Hands Him Life Term

November 4, 2018

Bahrain’s appeals court sentenced the head of the country’s main opposition movement to jail for life Sunday over charges of alleged spying for rival Gulf state Qatar.

Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq movement, had been acquitted by the high criminal court in June, a verdict the public prosecution appealed.

The latest ruling on Sunday can also be appealed.

Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, severed all ties with Qatar in 2017, banning their citizens from travel to or communication with the emirate over what they say are Doha’s ties to both Iran and radical Islamist groups.

Salman is currently serving a four-year sentence in a separate case — “inciting hatred” in the kingdom, which has seen mainly pro-democracy protests against the monarchy since 2011.

In November, Salman and two other members of Al-Wefaq were charged with working for Qatari intelligence with the aim of “overthrowing the Bahraini government.”

King Hamad has announced parliamentary elections on November 24 in Bahrain. Members of dissolved opposition parties, including Al-Wefaq and the secular Al-Waad group, are banned from running.

The Sunni-ruled Gulf state has been hit by waves of pro-democracy protests since 2011, when security forces crushed demonstrators demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Opposition movements have been outlawed and hundreds of dissidents have been imprisoned — with many stripped of their nationality.

The United Nations and rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the Bahraini monarchy over its treatment of protesters.

Amnesty and HRW categorize Salman and other jailed opposition leaders as prisoners of conscience.

SourceAFP

Amnesty: Sheikh Salman Conviction “Unlawful, Politically Motivated”

November 4, 2018

Protestor Raising Sheikh Salman's Photo

Amnesty International described as “unlawful” Bahraini regime’s overturning the acquittal of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman.

Shortly after it was announced that Bahraini Appeal Court has overturned the acquittal of Sheikh Salman and sentenced him instead to life in prison, the watchdog called for the direct release of the Bahraini opposition leader.

“This verdict is a travesty of justice that demonstrates the Bahraini authorities’ relentless and unlawful efforts to silence any form of dissent. Sheikh Ali Salman is a prisoner of conscience who is being held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression,” Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director Heba Morayef said.

“The Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Sheikh Ali Salman and quash his politically motivated conviction and sentence”.

Morayef also slammed the international community over keeping silence on the human rights record in Bahrain.

“The international community’s silence on the continued crackdown on dissent must also come to an end. Instead of ignoring criticism of Bahrain’s human rights record, the country’s political allies must use their influence to push for the release of Sheikh Ali Salman and all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain”.

SourceAmnesty International

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Syrian War Report – October 19, 2018: ISIS Captures 700 Hostages Including US, EU Citizens

South Front

19.10.2018

ISIS has captured 700 hostages, including US and European citizens, in Syria and is killing 10 people a day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during the Valdai Discussion Club’s 15th Annual Meeting on October 18. He criticized US forces for this “catastrophic” failure adding that the terrorists “have delivered ultimatums and made certain demands, threatening … to shoot ten people every day.” According to Putin, the terrorists already started carrying out their threats and executed ten hostages two days ago.

On October 17, the Russian news agency TASS reported citing a military diplomatic source that the hostages were captured by ISIS in the province of Deir Ezzor during a failed advance of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the US-led coalition.

On October 18, the SDF repelled an ISIS attack near the village of al-Baghuz al-Fawqani in the Euphrates Valley. During the recent clashes in the Hajin pocket, the SDF destroyed a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device and 15 ISIS members. 2 SDF members also died.

According to the Syrian state media, US-led coalition warplanes bombed civilian buildings in the village of al-Susah killing and injuring multiple civilians. The US-led coalition is often avoiding to comment on such reports. However, even Amnesty International says that Washington is hiding the real number of civilian casualties as a result of its operations in Syria.

Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey informed the UN that the timeline for the implementation of the Idlib de-confliction agreement had been expanded. One of the key problems behind the delay is the unwillingness of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and similar terrorist groups to withdraw from the agreed demilitarized zone.

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israel (apartheid state) Kills Six Palestinians Within 24 Hours In Utter Disregard For Life

Israel Kills Six Palestinians Within 24 Hours In Utter Disregard For Life

Amnesty urged the international community to “take concrete steps to stop the delivery and trade of arms and military equipment to Israel.”
Amnesty International yesterday responded to Israeli forces’ killing of six Palestinians within a 24-hour period by accusing Israeli authorities of demonstrating an “utter disregard for right to life”.

The international human rights group warned that “several of these incidents appear to involve deliberate and willful killing of unarmed civilians and may amount to war crimes”, and also renewed its call for an arms embargo to be imposed on Israel.

“Between 10pm on Monday 17 September and 8pm on Tuesday 18 September,” Amnesty stated, “Israeli forces killed four Palestinian men in the Gaza Strip using live ammunition. Within the same period, two more died as a result of the actions of Israeli forces in the West Bank, one after being beaten during the process of arrest and another shot dead in a busy street in East Jerusalem.”

The NGO stated:

The deaths of six Palestinians within just 24 hours is a horrific demonstration of the unnecessary or excessive force deployed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).”

“It is the fact that such crimes are rarely, if ever, punished that allows unlawful killings and other violations of the right to life to continue in shameless disregard of international law,” said Saleh Higazi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“These incidents are not new in the OPT and are likely to continue unless this cycle of impunity is broken,” he added.

In the context of Israel’s ongoing violent repression of Great March of Return protests in the occupied Gaza Strip, Amnesty International said it “has not documented any instances where protesters posed an imminent threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers and snipers, who have been located behind the fence, protected by military equipment, sand hills, drones and military vehicles.”

“Israel has a duty to immediately launch an independent, thorough and transparent investigation into each of these incidents and all other incidents which may involve the use of unnecessary or excessive force, torture and other ill-treatment against Palestinian civilians,” Higazi said.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to hold those found responsible for these grave violations to account through fair trials. Until this happens we will not see an end to Israeli forces’ random and apparently senseless killing and violence.”

The Amnesty official also urged the international community to “take concrete steps to stop the delivery and trade of arms and military equipment to Israel”, adding that “a failure to do so fuels serious human rights violations against millions of men, women and children suffering the consequences of 50 years of military occupation, including 11 years of blockade in the Gaza Strip”.

Sources: www.middleeastmonitor.com, www.mintpressnews.com

Who is Israa al-Ghomgham?

Who is Israa al-Ghomgham?

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