Western Anger as China, Russia Elected to UN Human Rights Council and Saudi Arabia Rejected

By Alan Macleod

Source

The rejection of Saudi Arabia, the only country that did not receive the required number of votes from UN member states, has been seen as a repudiation of the Kingdom’s decreasing international support.

In a secret ballot at the United Nations yesterday, Saudi Arabia was rejected for a position on the body’s 47-country Human Rights Council (HRC). The only country that did not receive the required number of votes from member states, the failure has been seen as a repudiation of the Kingdom’s abysmal human rights record and its decreasing international support.

15 positions were filled yesterday, although most of them were pre-selected. Only the Asia-Pacific region faced an open vote from UN member states. Pakistan received 169 “yes” votes out of a possible 193, Uzbekistan 164, Nepal 150, and China 139. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, received just 90.

Saudi Arabia’s allies in the West had actually been campaigning to halt the election of states that draw Washington’s ire, including China, Russia, and Cuba, trying to organize opposition against those nations, but were ultimately unsuccessful. China received 41 fewer votes than it did in 2016, amid increased global concern over the alleged treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province, but ultimately comfortably surpassed the 50 percent threshold for admission.

U.N. Watch, a western NGO that has a history of attacking Washington’s enemies and has condemned the UN for its supposed antisemitic bias over its criticism of Israeli human rights abuses, claimed that “electing these dictatorships as UN judges on human rights is like making a gang of arsonists into the fire brigade.”

The reaction from the U.S. government, which left the HRC in 2018 over its perceived bias against Israel, was similarly angry. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement claiming that the election of countries like China, Russia, Cuba (and Venezuela in 2019) has shown that the institution is now broken beyond repair.https://cdn.iframe.ly/qY2oDPd?iframe=card-small&v=1&app=1

“The United States’ commitment to human rights consists of far more than just words,” Pompeo said, as he boasted of employing sanctions against all those nations. “Our commitments are spelled out clearly in the UN’s Declaration, and in our record of action. The United States is a force for good in the world, and always will be,” he added. Yet earlier this year Pompeo himself said that the U.S. should abandon most of the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration and focus only on property rights and religious freedoms.

The spin war

Much of the media today has been in a furor that the “world’s worst abusers” (The Times) like China, Russia, and Cuba are set to join or rejoin the council. The Guardian suggested that the institution’s credibility is at stake. Yet in the talk of human rights violators joining the council, the election of other states with questionable records was never discussed. Bolivia, whose murderous far-right government came to power in a U.S.-backed military coup in November, was also elected, but with no fanfare or condemnation. As was Cameroon, whose dictatorial head of state Paul Biya has been in charge of the country since Gerald Ford was president of the United States. Other states with contentious records included were Narendra Modi’s India, Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, and the Qatari dictatorship.

Both the Guardian, left, and the Times, right, failed to report on other human rights violators being elected to the council

Saudi Arabia was elected twice to the HRC between 2014-2016 and 2017-2019. Its new failure to secure more than 90 votes is a sign of increasing discontent with its policies in Yemen, declared the world’s worst humanitarian disaster by the United Nations, where 24 million people (80 percent of the country) need some form of humanitarian assistance. Yet under pressure from the U.S. government, aid has been cut to just 25 cents per person, per day. The kingdom has played a key role in stymying any international action to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe, using its position at the HRC to block UN inquiries into its own abuses in Yemen.

Internally, the country is often described as the most repressive regime on the planet, with millions of people suffering under slave-like conditions, according to Human Rights Watch. While on the council, it attempted to block a resolution that condemned the use of torture by law enforcement and reaffirms the human rights of LGBT people. Inside Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is still punishable with the death penalty.

Ultimately, while yesterday’s election is the sign of a slightly more multipolar world, the results are unlikely to seriously change the direction of the organization, with the United Nations constantly blocked from taking action unless all of the world’s superpowers allow it.

إيران وسيلة أميركيّة لجبر خواطر آل سعود!

د. وفيق إبراهيم

المصادفات لا تحدث في السياسات الدولية إلا في قراءة تفاعلات غير مرئية او صعود عناصر كانت كامنة.

هذا ما ظهر في التزامن المريب بين فشل السعودية في الحصول على مقعد في مجلس حقوق الإنسان وبين حوار متزامن قيل إنه استراتيجيّ جامعاً في واشنطن بين وزيري الخارجية الأميركي بومبيو والسعودي فيصل بن فرحان، وخلص إلى اعتبار إيران وكالعادة طرفاً داعماً للإرهاب في اليمن وسورية ولبنان ويجب تعزيز التعاون الأميركي – السعودي العسكري والسياسي لمجابهتها والقضاء على برنامجها النووي والصاروخي، وذلك لتأمين استقرار الشرق الأوسط، كما زعم الطرفان في تصريحاتهما التي أعقبت مباشرة خسارة السعودية في مجلس حقوق الإنسان.

للإشارة فقط فإن روسيا وكوبا فازتا بمقعدين من دون أي معارضة والصين ونيبال وباكستان وأوزباكستان بغالبية الأصوات كأن هناك تنافساً لتعبئة 15 مقعداً شاغراً من 47 عضواً يشكلون مجلس حقوق الإنسان في مقره في جينيف مع التنبيه الى أنه جزء من الامم المتحدة بقرارات غير ملزمة.

لقد بدا واضحاً أن هناك تمرداً أوروبياً تجسّد في الامتناع عن التصويت للسعودية وسط حملة كبيرة تنفذها المحققة كالامار التي تتبنى حملة تاريخية على الانتهاك السعودي لحقوق الإنسان منذ أكثر من عقد.

يكفي أن نائب المدير التنفيذي لمنظمة هيومن رايتس ووتش برونو ستاغنو اعتبر أن مجلس حقوق الإنسان اطلق في رفضه لانتماء السعودية اليه تأنيباً كبيراً لسلطات سعودية تفتك بحقوق الإنسان منذ تأسيسها، خصوصاً في مرحلة ولي العهد الحالي محمد بن سلمان، علماً ان السعودية هي البلد الوحيد الذي فشل في حيازة عضوية مجلس حقوق الإنسان في هذه الانتخابات الأخيرة.

انها اذاً نكسة معنوية ضخمة لعهد ابن سلمان الذي حاول تحسين صورته من خلال انتخابات المجلس، فكانت فشلاً ذريعاً أضيفت اليه تصريحات أوروبية اكدت ان الفشل السعودي سببه الانتهاكات الجسيمة لحقوق الانسان في السعودية واليمن وسورية.

هناك معلومات تؤكد ان ابن سلمان لم يتحمل هذه النتيجة فبدأ بإطلاق شتائم وسباب في حق الأوروبيين، محطماً أثاث مكتبه الخاص والصالونات المجاورة في مرحلة غضب شديد كان يصرخ فيها بأن فشل بلاده في مجلس حقوق الإنسان هو لمنعه من تسلم الملك بعد أبيه سلمان، متهماً الأوروبيين بهذه المؤامرة الخبيثة.

ضمن هذه المعطيات كان على الأميركيين «جبر خاطره» المكسور ورفع معنوياته المتراجعة، مكلفين بومبيو باستغلال لقائه بالوزير فيصل بن فرحان لتضميد الجرح السعودي وذلك بوسيلتين: اتهام إيران بكل ما يحدث من تفاعلات العالم السياسي وخصوصاً في الشرق الأوسط وفي جزيرة العرب واليمن وسورية بشكل أدق. اما الثانية فهي تعميق الحلف الاستراتيجي الأميركي السعودي على مستوى الأمن المشترك وتعزيز التعاون العسكري مع الاستمرار في استهداف ما أسموه برنامج إيران النووي والصاروخي ومشاريع دعمها للحوثيين والدولة السورية وحزب الله، لكن الأكثر طرافة هو إصرار بومبيو على تأسيس برنامج دائم لتسليح الجيش السعودي لأنه المتصدي الأول للإرهاب الإيراني في الشرق الأوسط على حد مزاعم بومبيو وفيصل بن فرحان الذي بدا في اللقاء وكأنه يحقق نصراً في حروب عالمية مجتمعة عدة.

بذلك يكون المستفيد الحصري من هذا اللقاء هي الدولة الأميركيّة أولاً التي تمكّنت من وضع معادلة دائمة لبيع السلاح وبشكل عمودي حتى من دون الحاجة إليه، وذلك لاختراعها دوراً دائماً للسعودية وهو حرصها على استقرار المنطقة.

اما الثاني فهو الرئيس الأميركي ترامب الذي يتجه لتوجيه خطاب للمنتخِب الأميركي يزعم فيه انه مستمر في تأمين ازدهاره الاقتصادي من خلال الإمساك الكامل بالسعودية وكامل الخليج.

لجهة بن سلمان فإنه يحاول إقناع نفسه انه مستفيد من الاتفاق الاستراتيجي مع واشنطن خصوصاً على مستوى رعاية انتقاله الى سدة الملك بعد أبيه بأمان مدعوم أميركياً ومصنعاً وقد يجد نفسه مضطراً لارتداء الجينز الأميركي للتوحّد مع المشهد الأميركي الكامل.

هنا يجوز التأكيد أن هذه المسرحيات تعجل بالتطبيع الإسرائيلي – السعودي بذريعة وجود تهديد إيراني خطير كما يدّعي آل سعود.

الامر الذي يؤكد ان الخاسر الوحيد هم سكان شبه جزيرة العرب الذين يمسك بهم واحد من أكثر الأنظمة تخلفاً ودكتاتورية.

فهل افتعلت أميركا قصة إفشال السعودية في مجلس حقوق الإنسان لمزيد من تطويعها واستعبادها؟

هناك من يقول إن الأوروبيين هم الذين اسسوا عن عمد لسقوط السعودية في الانتخاب الأخير مستغلين انهماك السياسة الأميركية بالانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة. والحقيقة ان الأوروبيين والأميركيين يعملون على خلق وسائل تسمح لهم بابتزاز محمد بن سلمان وفي كل وقت.

لذلك فإن الرهان هو على اهل جزيرة العرب بتحرك تدريجي يستعيد لهم حقوقهم أو بسقوط ترامب في الانتخابات ما يسمح لبايدن بتبني أجنحة اخرى من آل سعود على حساب إسقاط محمد بن سلمان.

Dozens of Palestinian Prisoners Launch Hunger Strike in Solidarity with Fellow Inmates

October 15, 2020

60 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails today launched an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with three of their fellow inmates held in solitary confinement, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The spokesman for the Commission of the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, Hassan Abed-Rabbo, told WAFA that some 60 prisoners affiliated with Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) began the hunger strike in protest of the Israeli Prison Service’s (IPS) decision to continue to hold three leaders of the prisoners’ movement incommunicado.

The prisoners’ leaders were identified as Wael al-Jaghoub, Hatem Qawasmi, and Omar Khurwat, with Qawasmi and Khurwat held in isolation for six months.

This came two days after 30 other prisoners started an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with Maher al-Akhras who has been on hunger strike for 81 days in protest of his administrative detention.

Abed-Rabbo pointed out that more prisoners were expected to join the strike.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

US Is the Top Human Rights Violator in the World, and It’s Not Even Close

By Danny Haiphong

Source

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Few things are more politicized and distorted in the United States than the subject of human rights. Over the last two generations, the U.S. political class and its conduits in the corporate media have weaponized human rights to serve an imperialist agenda. NGOs such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International tend to focus much of their time crafting human rights narratives on matters of critical importance to the U.S. Department of State. Syria, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and a host of countries have been condemned by these organizations for alleged human rights violations. Since 2018, China has been targeted for the same treatment.

China is accused of detaining millions of Xinjiang-based Uyghurs in “concentration camps.” Thanks to Ajit Singh and The Grayzone, we know that the sources for these allegations are far from reliable. We know that the principle source for all things Xinjiang in the U.S. is Adrian Zenz, a far-right Christian fundamentalist who believes he is led by God to overthrow the Communist Party of China. We know that the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders responsible for the study that conducted a total of eight total interviews to derive conclusions of mass Uyghur internment is heavily funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA-linked organization. We also know that the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) currently leading the charge to demonize China on human rights issues is sponsored by military contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

The primary concern of institutions such as ASPI is not the issue of human rights, but rather the creation of an atmosphere of war that will service its donors in the U.S. weapons industry. This is exactly what the propagation of the “Uyghur oppression” narrative has achieved. While relying completely on speculation, faulty satellite imagery, and testimonies from Uyghur-exile groups funded by the NED, the successful penetration of the baseless claim that China is detaining millions of Muslims in camps has played an important role in building up public support in the U.S. for a New Cold War against China. U.S. public opinion of China has dropped significantly over the past year. The U.S. has used the Uyghur human rights narrative to successfully sanction businesses and Communist Party of China officials in Xinjiang.

When U.S. officials accuse other countries of human rights violations, what comes afterward is always far worse than the allegations. After 9/11, U.S. intelligence agencies accused Saddam Hussein of stockpiling non-existent Weapons of Mass destruction. The U.S. went on to invade Iraq in 2003—a war that caused the death of over one million Iraqi civilians and poisoned thousands more with toxic depleted uranium. In 2011, Muammar Gaddafi was accused of “murdering his own people” only to have Libya transformed into a failed state following a more than six month bombing campaign by NATO to protect a jihadist insurgency. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons “on his own people.” Syria has been mired in an endless war with both the U.S. and its regional allies which has left hundreds of thousands of dead, millions displaced, and nearly one-third of its oil-rich and water-rich territory occupied by the U.S. military.

These examples are just a few of many that demonstrate why the U.S. is the chief human rights violator in the world. However, it is important to note that how the United States conducts itself abroad is a reflection of the myriad of ways that it violates the human rights of people living in the United States. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown are just a few of hundreds of examples of Black Americans that have been killed by police officers without redress. An average of 1,000 people in the United States are killed by police officers each year. Unlike the U.S.-led Xinjiang narrative, it is well-documented that over 2 million people reside in U.S. prisons and that nearly three-quarters of that prison population is Black, Latino, or Native American.

The U.S. is home to a quarter of all prisoners in the world. Around 80,000 of these prisoners are held in solitary confinement, a practice of prolonged isolation that the U.N. has firmly declared to be an act of torture. Research suggests that solitary confinement is directly linked to a host of psychological maladies from psychosis to suicide. Solitary confinement also causes lasting structural damage to the brain, especially in the hippocampus region responsible for memory and spatial awareness. Widespread use of solitary confinement in the U.S. is not a benign practice but one that specifically targets racial groups. Over forty percent of all male prisoners in solitary confinement are Black American. The world has long known that the U.S. engages in torture abroad at CIA black sites and Guantanamo Bay Prison but fewer are aware of how torture is commonplace in the U.S.’ numerous prisons.

For decades, the U.S. has accused countries such as China of the very policies that make up the foundations of its domestic and foreign policy. U.S. elites have accused China of suppressing free speech but say little about the NSA’s massive surveillance program or the attempted extradition of a non-citizen in Julian Assange for publishing documents relating to U.S. war crimes. China has been accused of sterilizing ethnic minorities yet U.S. officials have failed to scrutinize documented cases of sterilization within U.S. immigration detention centers or its mistreatment of Muslim citizens since the War on Terror was declared in 2001. The Economist has accused China of using its anti-poverty campaign to build loyalty to the Communist Party of China but has yet to call out Joe Biden or Donald Trump for ignoring the needs of the forty percent of people in the U.S. who have virtually no disposable income. China is routinely accused of possessing an “aggressive” foreign policy by the same policy makers and thought leaders who have kept the U.S. at war for more than two-hundred years of its existence.

The ideology of American exceptionalism has created the illusion that the U.S. deserves to hold a monopoly on the issue of human rights. American exceptionalism presumes that the United States is the model example for countries and peoples all over the world. However, the days when the world was forced to bow to the U.S. are over. Most of the world sees the U.S. as the biggest threat to human rights and a peaceful existence. The U.S.’s human rights track record suggests that the world is correct, and it is the entire planet that suffers when issues such as war, climate change, poverty, and racism are blamed on China rather than addressed with solidarity and cooperation at a global level. 

If Soleimani Assassination Happened To the West, It Would Declare War – UN Official

By Staff, Agencies

If Soleimani Assassination Happened To the West, It Would Declare War - UN Official

The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, who has raised a firestorm by condemning the assassination of Iranian Lt. General Qassem Soleimani, has once again denounced the United States’ sheer disregard for international law.

“It is just violation of every single principle not only governing international law, but governing international relations,” Callamard told Beirut-based al-Mayadeen TV network in remarks aired on Sunday.

General Soleimani, the former commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps [IRGC] Quds Force, was assassinated in a US airstrike at Baghdad airport on January 3, along with Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units [PMU], and their companions.

Both commanders were extremely popular for their key role in eliminating the US-sponsored Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group in the region], particularly in Iraq and Syria.

On Thursday, Callamard provided the UN Human Rights Council with a report on the atrocity, which underlined the “unlawful” nature of the operation because the US had failed to provide evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike.

In her interview, Callamard repeated that the US has “failed to demonstrate how the strike could match and meet the requirement under the definition ‘self-defense.’”

“I should add that what they have done is part of an evolution that has been worrying me and many others for a number of years now,” she added.

The UN official explained how the US has falsely tried to rationalize such acts of aggression.

In response to the assassination, the IRGC fired volleys of ballistic missiles at a US air base in Iraq on January 8. Iran has also issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining US President Donald Trump, who ordered the assassination, and several other US military and political leaders behind the strike.

Had an official “from a so-called ‘democratic’ Western country” been targeted in such a manner, that country would have considered the attack “as an act of aggression and as declaration of war,” Callamard emphasized.

She reminded how the aftermath of the strike featured a flurry of diplomatic efforts at avoiding the exacerbation of the already dire situation brought about by the assassination, “because everyone understood that we were on the brink of something extremely serious”.

The UN rapporteur finally issued a warning to the US and other countries, urging them not to repeat such acts of aggression.

“I’m hoping that the international community and the United States will understand that we avoided the abyss after that strike,” she said. “Let’s make that the one and only moment, where such a step would have been taken.”

Callamard’s stance has enraged the United States, with State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus calling her report “tendentious and tedious.”

Ortagus on Wednesday accused her of “a special kind of intellectual dishonesty” for condemning the United States, claiming that Washington’s assassination of Gen. Soleimani was an act of “self-defense”.

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The will of people is like a fire smoldering under ashes: ex-Bahraini parliamentarian

Source

July 7, 2020 – 11:34

TEHRAN – Pro-democracy protests in Bahrain have entered their ninth year. The rights of protesters are gravely violated, especially as authorities are continuing to enforce repressive policies in conjunction with an imposed censorship supported by Persian Gulf monarchies.

Ironically, authorities have a monopoly on television, radio, and newspapers. There are no independent media that can work freely inside Bahrain.

In light of this fact, the Tehran Times interviewed Ali AlAshiri, a former member of the Bahraini Parliament.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Bahraini courts continue to uphold death sentences against political detainees, despite being tortured. Please explain?

A: Yes. These courts continue to uphold the death sentence against the political convicts, while the constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain states that any confession under torture is unacceptable.

If we look closely at most of the cases in which the death sentence was pronounced, we see no real evidence or material fact but confessions of the convicts who stress that they have been subjected to torture and physical and psychological coercion.

Q: Why are Arab regimes silent on repression in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia but accusing countries like Syria of dictatorship?

A: We can see these kinds of double standards in most of these countries. They support movements and protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and Syria, but they talk about Bahrain as if there is no protest or describe it as a riot provoked by foreign countries. The reasons are clear: They may endanger their interests if talk about the demonstrations because of sectarian reasons; most of the protestors are from the Shiite community in Bahrain.

Q: Do you think that repression will continue in Arab countries? And, can we bet on the awakening of Arab nations?

A: Despite decades of continuous repression, the will of the peoples remains like a fire smoldering under the ashes, and they will come back to the streets as soon as they find an opportunity again.

Q: Regarding what is happening in Yemen, Bahrain, and Palestine, how do you see the UN performance?

A: The positions of the United Nations are based on politicized reports rather than real evidence.

Regarding Bahrain, Palestine, and Syria, the UN says nothing more than expressing concern and issuing statements, but in other regions, they impose their resolutions on the pretext of human rights violations.

Q: What is your comment on the release of Bahraini political activist Nabil Rajab, who is still not allowed to move around or speak out on human rights abuses?

A: The step to release human rights activist Nabil Rajab came late, and the remaining period was replaced in accordance with Law No. 18 of 2017.

 It may be in response to many calls from human rights organizations, given his medical care, after a critical situation imposed by the Coronavirus outbreak that necessitated his release from prison.

200 Latin American Jurnos Urge Release of Palestinian Colleagues from “Israeli” Prisons

200 Latin American Jurnos Urge Release of Palestinian Colleagues from “Israeli” Prisons

By Staff, Agencies

Approximately two hundred Latin American journalists and news organizations signed an open letter and sent to the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights called for the release of Palestinian journalists held in “Israeli” prisons.

The Journalist Support Committee has declared that about twenty journalists have languished in Israeli prisons without charge for years and are victims of torture and abuse.

Below is the letter:

Open letter to the High Commissioner for Human Rights calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners detained in “Israeli” jails

To: Mrs. Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Subject: Humanitarian request for the release of prisoners detained in “Israeli” jails.

The undersigned Latin American organizations and personalities appeal to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to exert pressure on the “Israeli” authorities for the immediate release of Palestinian journalists imprisoned in “Israeli” jails.

We express our deep concern at the huge and growing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in “Israel” and the occupied Palestinian territories, and our fear that this situation may affect hundreds of prisoners, including the 19 Palestinian journalists detained in “Israeli” jails.

Palestinian detainees face a death threat from this virus, given that “Israeli” prisons do not guarantee the smallest living conditions, in addition to the medical negligence that has already killed dozens of Palestinian prisoners over the years.

We address our request to the High Commissioner and to all members of the United Nations, for urgent action to be taken in the release of detainees in the context of this deadly pandemic, which can easily violate prison facilities, and in the face of the failure of administrations to adhere to international law, especially the 3rd and 4th Geneva Conventions of 1949, with respect to resolving the situation of Palestinian prisoners and imprisoned journalists.

Germany’s Decision against Hezbollah Is Support for the Criminal Terrorist Zionist Regime

Germany’s Decision against Hezbollah Is Support for the Criminal Terrorist Zionist Regime

Mukhtar Haddad

Iran – A spokesman for the Iranian Guardian Council of the Constitution said that the German government’s action against the Lebanese people is definitely against international laws and is against the right to determine one’s fate, which is a legal right.

In an exclusive statement for al-Ahed news, Dr. Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said that the Lebanese people and popular groups like Hezbollah have defended their rights and lands against Zionist crimes and its government’s terrorism.

Therefore, “the presence of the Resistance forces is legitimate on the basis of principles and rules in accordance with international law,” the spokesman added.

The Guardian Council member went on to say that the German government, which claims to defend human rights, should stand with the popular Resistance forces instead of backing the Zionist entity.

Kadkhodaei said that Germany’s most recent measure has proven that its government’s motto of defending human rights is not real, but is used as a pretext for eliminating the rights of people in different regions of the world.

The spokesman further pointed out that “the terrorist Zionist regime’s welcoming of the German government’s action confirms the illegality of this decision”.

“It comes within the framework of supporting and achieving the interests of the illegal Zionist entity and it is opposed to the principles of defending human rights and combating terrorism,” he said.

Kadkhodaei reiterated the of role of the Islamic Resistance in combating terrorism in the region and said that “the role of the Resistance in the war against terrorism and the elimination of Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] and the blood it shed in this field has prevented the arrival of this terrorist scourge supported by the Zionists to European capitals. Accordingly, they have achieved security and stability in the world”.

Bahrain the Merciless Kingdom: Journalist in Solitary Confinement after Reporting on COVID-19 Danger

Bahrain the Merciless Kingdom: Journalist in Solitary Confinement after Reporting on COVID-19 Danger

By Staff, Agencies

The Committee to Protect Journalists urged the Bahraini authorities to immediately stop retaliating against imprisoned journalist Mahmoud al-Jaziri for reporting on conditions inside Bahraini prisons and should free all journalists imprisoned for their work,.

Al-Jaziri, who according to CPJ research has been imprisoned since December 2015 and is serving a 15-year prison sentence on charges of belonging to a terrorist group, recorded an audio clip that was posted on dissident-run channel Bahrain Today3 on YouTube on April 7. During the clip, al-Jaziri disputed reports that Bahraini authorities had taken measures to protect prisoners from the spread of COVID-19 and that in-person family visits for prisoners have been replaced by video calls, according to a CPJ review of the clip.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the independent, London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, told CPJ via email that al-Jaziri was moved to solitary confinement the next day, citing phone calls with two different inmates at Jaw Prison. Alwadaei told CPJ that he confirmed the voice on the audio clip was al-Jaziri, but CPJ is withholding the details in order to protect the security of his source.

In his audio clip, al-Jaziri referred to an April 6 interview with Mariah Khoury, president of the Bahrain Institute for Human Rights, a government body that was posted to the Bahraini Interior Ministry’s YouTube channel. The interview detailed the measures taken to protect prisoners and showed footage purportedly from Jaw Prison, where according to CPJ research al-Jaziri and several other imprisoned journalists are held. In his recording, al-Jaziri describes the segment as an “acting performance” and says that there is no system for video calls in place, adding that the prisons remain overcrowded and that authorities have not undertaken health and sanitation measures in response to COVID-19. On April 9, Reuters also reported that inmates in the prison were afraid of contracting the virus due to the lack of access to medical care and protective gear inside the facility, as well as overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.

“Not only is Mahmoud al-Jaziri at risk from COVID-19 in Jaw Prison, but now he’s also being punished for pushing back on the official narrative,” said CPJ Senior Middle East and North Africa Researcher Justin Shilad. “Instead of retaliating in a petty manner against journalists, Bahraini authorities should be releasing Mahmoud al-Jaziri and all other imprisoned journalists right now.”

Last week, CPJ wrote an open letter to world leaders urging them to immediately release all journalists behind bars, as freedom has become a matter of life and death amid the coronavirus pandemic. Imprisoned journalists have no control over their surroundings, cannot choose to isolate, and are often denied necessary medical care.

Earlier this week, CPJ signed on to a joint letter calling on Bahraini authorities to free all journalists and other prisoners of conscience, citing poor conditions and lack of access to medical care in Jaw Prison and other facilities and in light of the increased danger posed by the spread of COVID-19.

Related

Money Talks: Canada Lifts Suspension of Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia

Money Talks: Canada Lifts Suspension of Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia

By Staff, Agencies

Neglecting the Saudi black record of human rights violation, the Canadian government decided to lift a suspension on arms exports to Saudi Arabia and renegotiated a controversial multibillion-dollar contract that will see an Ontario-based company sell light armored vehicles [LAVs] to Riyadh.

The “significant improvements” to the contract would secure the jobs of thousands of Canadians, “not only in Southwestern Ontario but also across the entire defense industry supply chain, which includes hundreds of small and medium enterprises,” Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Minister of Finance Bill Morneau said in a statement on Thursday.

In December 2018, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintained that Canada “was looking for a way out of the Saudi arms deal”, following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

A month earlier the Liberal government suspended approvals of new arms export permits for Saudi Arabia pending an indefinite review.

The 14 billion Canadian dollar [$10bn] deal to export LAVs made by the Ontario-based General Dynamics Land Systems to Saudi Arabia was brokered in 2014 by the previous Conservative government.

Trudeau’s Liberal government subsequently gave the final approval for the deal following the 2015 election.

The ministers added in their statement that as a state party to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, Canada’s goods cannot be exported where there is a “substantial risk” that they would be used in violating human rights and humanitarian law.

“We have now begun reviewing permit applications on a case-by-case basis,” the statement said.

Academics and activists have long pressured Ottawa to cancel the exports of Canadian-made LAVs to Saudi Arabia, citing the killing of Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s aggression on Yemen.

Must Watch – Storyville, Lea Tsemel-an Israeli true hero

 BY GILAD ATZMON

In the past I have been critical of many aspects of contemporary Left, in general and Jewish Left, in particular. But my criticism of Jewish Left ends with Lea Tsemel. This Israeli human rights lawyer is out of this world. For decades Tsemel has been supporting the Palestinians and their rights including their rights to emancipate themselves and their land, Watch this video before it is removed

Imam Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind: Falk

TEHRAN – Forty-one years have passed since Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, upon failure to attract popular support, fled Iran forever

January 17, 2020 – 13:2

Over the past decades, despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions, Iran has been more stable than ever- a fact even acknowledged by Professor Richard Falk as the former UN Special Rapporteur.

Falk, who came to Tehran as a member of an American delegation in 1979, has an interesting narrative of Bakhtiar’s desperation on the day of Shah-Escape. 

As Iran marks 41th anniversary of Islamic revolution, we asked Professor Falk to share his experience from this historical trip and the visit he later had with the founder of Islamic republic of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini. 

Richard Anderson Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.   

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Before Iran’s Islamic revolution, as a member of an American delegation, you had a visit to Iran. What were the objectives of that trip?

A: I was chair of a small committee in the United States with the name, “Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran,” which sponsored events with Iranian students and some prominent figures. It became active within university settings as the revolutionary movement gathered momentum in 1978.

The Committee had almost no funding, but had dedicated members, and achieved a certain visibility as there was so little attention being given to these historic developments in Iran unfolding as the months passed. The treatment of these issues in the mainstream media was not only mostly very pro-Shah but also quite uninformative, and even uniformed.

It was in this context that I received as chair of the Committee an invitation from Mehdi Bazargan to visit Iran in a delegation of three persons for a period of two weeks. The stated purpose of the visit was to convey to several Americans a better understanding of the revolution underway. I felt that it was important to accept this invitation precisely for the reasons given in the letter of invitation. Our objective, then, was to achieve this better understanding of the revolution movement in Iran, and do our best after returning to share the experience and our impressions as widely as possible, and this is what we did.

In this spirit I did my best to find two persons who would benefit from such a visit, possessed an open mind toward the challenge being posed to imperial rule in Iran, and had some access to media and influential audiences back in the United States. My first two choices both agreed to become members of the delegation along with myself. Ramsey Clark was my first choice. He had been prominent in government, having been Attorney General, was part of a well-known political family, and had previously been considered a possible candidate for the American presidency. Besides being extremely intelligence, Ramsey had a high profile that generated great media interest and had a reputation for telling unpleasant and inconvenient truths.

My second choice was Philip Luce, a prominent religious activist who achieved world fame by his public acts of opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a person of the highest integrity, and fearless in searching for the truth in controversial political settings.
The three of us made the trip without deep prior personal associations, but we got along very well throughout our time together in Iran, and subsequently. 

Q: How different was what you witnessed from the US media narratives of the Iranian revolution’s developments?

A: The differences were spectacular. The US media conveyed very little understanding of the character of the movement in Iran, and was perplexed by its strength and outlook. At the time, the Shah’s government was a close ally of the United States in the midst of the Cold War, and Iran’s strategic location with respect to the Soviet Union made it very important to Washington to keep the Shah’s regime in control of the country. As well, the US Government, having played an important role by way of covert intervention in the 1953 coup that restored the Shah to the Peacock Throne, there was a particularly strong commitment made in Washington to doing whatever was necessary to defeat this nonviolent mass movement led by a then still rather obscure religious figure. It was deemed unthinkable within the United States government that such a seemingly primitive movement of the Iranian people could produce the collapse of the Iranian government that had mighty military and police capabilities at its disposal, possessed a political will to use lethal ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, and gained the geopolitical benefits of a ‘special relationship’ with the most powerful state in the world deeply invested in upholding its regional interests. In such a setting the media reflected the propaganda and ideological outlook of the government, and was not a source of independent and objective journalism.

It was in such an atmosphere that we hoped that we could bring some more informed and realistic commentary on the unfolding revolutionary process in Iran, including identifying its special character as neither left nor right, seemingly led by a religious leader who remained virtually unknown in the West. It was even unclear to us at the time of our visit whether Ayatollah Khomeini was the real leader or only a figurehead, a temporary phenomenon. We hoped to provide some insight into such questions, as well as to understand whether the new political realities in Iran would produce confrontation or normalization. Was the United States prepared, as it was not in 1953, to live with the politics of self-determination as it operated in Iran or would it seek once more to intervene on behalf of its geopolitical agenda? 

Indeed, we did have some effect on the quality of Western media coverage of the developments in Iran. Ramsey Clark and myself were invited to do many interviews and asked for to describe our impressions by mainstream TV channels and print outlets. As a result, at least until the hostage crisis, discussion of Iran Politics became more informed and some useful political debate emerged, at least for a while.  

Q: You met the then Prime Minister of Iran Shapour Bakhtiar on the same day when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Iran. What was Bakhtiar’s assessment of the developments including Shah’s departure?

A: We had the impression from our meeting that the Prime Minister was uncertain about the situation and his own personal fate. Of course, we met with Mr. Bakhtiar at a tense time, only a very few hours after the Shah was reported as having left the country. Bakhtiar had a reputation. of being hostile to intrusions of religion in the domain of politics, and had a personal identity strongly influenced by French culture along with its very dogmatic version of secularism. When we met, the city of Tehran was in a kind of frenzied mood, with cars blowing their horns in celebration, and posters of Khomeini appearing everywhere. We had trouble maneuvering through the traffic so as to keep our appointment.

We found Mr. Bakhtiar cautious and non-committal, and possibly intimidated, not by us, of course, but by the dozen or so others in the room who were never introduced, and wore the clothes associated with security personnel. We assumed that at least some of these anonymous individuals were from the SAVAK, and maybe explained partly why Bakhtiar seemed so uncomfortable. When we asked his help in arranging a visit to prisoners confined in Evin Prison, he seemed unable to answer until he received guidance from one of these advisers present in the room. After a short, whispered instruction, the Prime Minister told us that a visit could be arranged on the following day to the political prisoners, but that we would not be allowed to enter the part of the prison reserved for common criminals. After being at the prison, we felt that the political prisoners were treated well, seen as possibly of a future ruling elite, while the ordinary criminals held no interest for past or present, and lived in crowded cells often with no windows.

Overall, we were left with not much clarity about how Bakhtiar viewed the future of his caretaker government. We had no real opinion on whether what he was saying to us with the others in the room was what they wanted him to say, or expressed his real views, or maybe reflected some sort of compromise. Would he be soon replaced, and his own role challenged as unlawful, or even criminal? We had the impression of a frightened bureaucrat lacking in leadership potential. Maybe our impressions were distorted by the reality that our visit took place at such a tense and difficult moment, which turned out to be transformative for the country and its people. As a result these impressions of a sad and entrapped individual may leave too negative a picture.  

Q: What was the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment of the Iranian revolution’s developments? Did CIA have a lucid exact assessment of the revolutionary forces and Iran’s future political system?

A: We had no contact with the CIA, but did meet with the American ambassador to Iran at the time, William Sullivan, who had a counterinsurgency background with a militarist reputation. He gave us a briefing that was much more illuminating as to Iranian developments than was our meeting with the Prime Minister. Sullivan acknowledged that the U.S. was caught off guard by both the character and the strength of the movement, and was struggling to keep up with events. He told us that the Embassy had previously constructed no less than 26 scenarios of political developments that might threaten the Shah’s leadership, but not one was concerned about a threat to the established order mounted by Islamically oriented opposition. The American preoccupation, reflecting Cold War priorities, limited its concerns to containing the Marxist and Soviet-oriented left, and the belief that to the extent there was a political side to Islam it was aligned with the West in its anti-Communist agenda as evident in the setting of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. 

Somewhat to our surprise, Sullivan spoke of his acute frustrations in dealing with the Carter presidency, especially with the National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who he claimed to be unwilling to accept the finality of the Shah’s loss of power or of the outcome of the revolutionary movement. Sullivan advocated coming to terms with the emerging new realities as representing America’s national interests, but he spoke very clearly of the resistance to this view at the White House. Sullivan partly attributed this stubbornness to the influence of the Iranian ambassador on. Brzezinski, a view later supported by State Department officials. 

Q: What were the issues discussed at a meeting you had in Neauphle-le Chateau with the late Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini and how would you describe his personality?

A: We met for a long time, maybe three hours, and covered many issues. During the conversation, after some rather long introductions on our sides about our experience in. Iran, we listened and responded to concerns expressed by Ayatollah Khomeini. After that we posed a series of questions. I will mention here a few topics discussed that have a lasting interest. 

Ayatollah Khomeini’s first and understandable concern was whether the US Government would try to repeat the intervention of 1953 or live with the outcome of the revolution. Of course, we were not in a position to give a clear answer. We did think there was less disposition by the US to intervene than 25 years earlier, but we knew of the strategic importance attached to keeping Iran allied to the US in Cold War contexts and of the personal as well as ideological closeness between Carter and the Shah, especially after the Carter family spent New Year’s Eve in Tehran as the Shah’s guest in 1978, and Carter made his famous toast about the Shah being surrounded by the love of his people.

Ayatollah Khomeini was also concerned about whether the military contracts with the United States would be fulfilled now that there would be a change of government in Iran. This line of questioning gave us a sense that Ayatollah Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind.
At the same time, he volunteered the view that he hoped that soon he would be able to resume his religious life, and explained taking up residence in Qom rather than Tehran seemed consistent with such an intention. Ayatollah Khomeini told us that he has reluctantly entered politics because in his words ‘there was a river of blood between the Shah and the people.’

When we asked for his hopes for the revolutionary government, this religious leader made clear that he viewed the revolution as an Islamic rather than an Iranian occurrence. He stressed this issue, but without any sectarian overtones. He did go on to say that he felt that the basic community for all people in the Islamic world was civilizational and religious, and not national and territorial. Ayatollah Khomeini explained in ways I subsequently heard from others, that territorial sovereign states built around national identity did not form a natural community in the Middle East the way it did in Europe.

Ayatollah Khomeini also made clear to us that he viewed the Saudi monarchy was as decadent and cruel as was the Shah, and deserved to face the same fate. He felt that dynastic rule had no legitimate role in Islamic societies.

We also asked about the fate of Jews and Bahais in the emergent Islamic Republic of Iran, aware of their close working relationships with the Shah’s governing structure. We found the response significant. He expressed the opinion that Judaism was ‘a genuine religion’ and if Jews do not get too involved in support for Israel, they would be fine in Iran. His words on this, as I recall them, were ‘it would be a tragedy for us if they left.’ He viewed Bahais differently because of their worship of a prophet after Mohammad, leading him to adopt the view that Bahais were members of ‘a sect’ and did not belong to ‘a true religion,’ and thus its adherents would not be welcome in the new Iran. Afterwards, I learned that Ayatollah Khomeini intervened to oppose and prevent genocidal moves being advocated in relation to the Bahai minority living in Iran, but I have no confirmation of this. 

Q: What was the last US Ambassador to Iran William Sullivan’s mission? He is known to be an anti-riot man. Did he give any intellectual help to Iran military or SAVAK (the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi)?

A: Of course, Sullivan never would tell us about his covert activities. He had the reputation of being ‘a counterinsurgency diplomat’ as he had served in Laos as an ambassador during the Vietnam War. It was at a time that the embassy was being used to take part in a Laotian internal war that included directing US bombing strikes against rebel forces.

With this knowledge, I was invited to testify in the U.S. Senate to oppose his confirmation. Unfortunately, my testimony did not prevent him from being confirmed as ambassador to Iran, although several senators at the time indicated to me privately their agreement with my testimony, but were unwilling to reject President Carter’s choice so early in his presidency. When in Iran I urged the meeting, and Ramsey Clark was skeptical at first, saying that he had had an unpleasant encounter with Sullivan some years earlier. I convinced Ramsey that the credibility of our trip would be compromised if we made no effort to get the viewpoint of the American Embassy. We did make an appointment, Sullivan’s first words as we entered were “I know Professor Falk thinks I am a war criminal..” Yet he welcomed us, and talked openly and at length about the situation and his efforts to get Washington to accept what had happened in Iran. In retrospect, I think he hoped we would be a vehicle for making his views more publicly known.

He made the point that there were no social forces ready to fight to keep the Shah in power. The business community, or national private sector, was alienated by the Shah’s reliance on international capital to fulfill his development plans. The armed forces were also not favorable enough to the throne to fight on its behalf, complaining that the Shah’s abiding fear of a coup mounted against him, created distrust of his own military commanders, and led him to frequently shuffle the leadership in the armed forces. This resulted in a low level of loyalty, and helps explain why the military watched the political transformation take place without showing any pronounced willingness to intervene, despite being nudged in an interventionary, especially in the context of a visit by an American NATO general at the height of the revolutionary ferment. The general was widely reported to be exploring whether it was plausible to encourage the Iranian military to defend the established order. 

We also asked about what would happen to the surviving leaders from the Shah’s government who had been accused of crimes against the Iranian people. Ayatollah Khomeini responded by saying that he expected that what he called ‘Nuremberg Trials’ would be held to hold accountable leading figures from the fallen government, and some from bureaucratic backgrounds, including SAVAK officials. We wondered why this plan was not later followed, and why those from the Shah’s regime accused were often executed after summary, secret trials. We knew some of those who had led the revolution had received support from the CIA during their period as students overseas or even when serving as mosque officials, which would be damaging and confusing to make public at a time of such uncertainty. It is important to remember that until the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Western intelligence assumed that the anti-Marxist approach of those of devout Islamic faith would make all religiously oriented personalities strong allies of Western anti-Communism, a view that persisted to some extent until after the Afghanistan resistance to Soviet intervention which was headed by Islamic forces, and was only decisively shattered by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States. 

Q: Why did the liberal–Islamist groups fail to secure the support of Ayatollah Khomeini at the end of the day?

A: It is difficult for an outsider like myself to comment on the internal politics in that revolutionary period. The situation in Iran was still fluid, and worries about a counterrevolutionary coup to bring the Shah back to his throne a second time were widespread. Added to this, the change in Iran came so quickly. Several secular personalities of liberal persuasion told us that ‘the revolution happened too quickly. We were not ready.’ 

Ayatollah Khomeini while still in Paris, seemed originally to believe that liberal Islamically oriented bureaucrats would be needed to run the government on a day to day basis. He may have envisioned a governing process relying on technical experts, especially to achieve good economic policies and results that he thought necessary to keep the support of the Iranian masses. Such expectations seem to be not entirely consistent with the vison of Islamic Government set forth in his published lectures, available to us in English, that were written while he was living as an exile in Iraq. His insistent theme in the lecture was that a government consistent with Islamic values could not be reliably established on democratic principles without being subject to unelected religious guidance as the source of highest authority.

We also were aware of several other explanations for this about face on the governing process. Some in Iran believed that Ayatollah Khomeini only discovered his political popularity after he returned to the country, and this made him believe he had a mandate to impose a system of government that reflected his ideas. Others offered the opinion that he became convinced by his entourage of advisors that the revolutionary spirit and agenda was being lost by the liberals, and hence were urging him to take direct and visible charge of the government. And finally, there arose the view that the liberals were given a chance, and their performance disappointed Ayatollah Khomeini, leading him to reenter politics and move to Tehran to lead the country. As far as I know, this story of transition from the Pahlavi Era to the Islamic Republic remains veiled in mystery.  Hopefully, before long the mystery will disappear with the appearance of more authoritative accounts of what transpired after the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to the country.

What we do know is that what was established in this transition period has survived for more than 40 years despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions. Arguably, Iran has been as stable as any country in the region, and more stable than most. This is impressive, although it does not overcome some criticisms directed at violations of basic human rights of people in Iran.

Listen to Morales at the UN and see why he was overthrown by the Empire

Source

November 15, 2019

This is Evo Morales’ UNSC speech of this Spring:

Israel’s Supreme Court — Upholding “Targeted Assassinations” and Torture

Global Research, November 08, 2019

Time and again, Israel’s high court upholds human and civil rights abuses committed by the state.

In 2006, the court upheld its targeted assassinations policy, claiming they’re OK when no other choices exist to protect against dangers to national security — that don’t exist it failed to say.

The policy contravenes Israeli law, the laws of war, and human rights law. Time and again, Israel falsely calls legitimate self-defense by Palestinians “terrorism,” unjustifiably justifying its lawless actions, most often upheld by its high court.

In Public Committee against Torture in Israel et al v. the Government of Israel et al (1999), Israel’s Supreme Court banned the practice it earlier OK’d, ruling “psychological pressure (and) a moderate degree of physical pressure” are permissible.

Israel’s 1987 Landau Commission condemned harsh interrogations amounting to torture, but approved the practice to obtain evidence for convictions in criminal proceedings, saying these tactics are necessary against “hostile (threats or acts of) terrorist activity and all expressions of Palestinian nationalism.”

Despite calling the 1984 UN Convention against Torture “absolute (with) no exceptions and no balances,” Israel’s high court OK’d coercive interrogations in three cases.

It permitted violent shaking, painful shackling, hooding, playing deafeningly loud music, sleep deprivation, and lengthly detainments.

Loopholes in the high court’s 1999 ruling OK’d abusive practices amounting to torture despite banning the practice.

It notably allowed physical force in so-called “ticking bomb” cases, giving Israeli interrogators and others wide latitude on their actions.

The court effectively ruled both ways, approving torture and other abusive practices despite banning it.

International law is clear and unequivocal on this issue, banning it at all times, under all circumstances with no allowed exceptions.

In 2015, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition by human rights groups and political movements that called for overturning the Anti-Boycott Law.

At the time, the Global BDS Movement and Coalition for Women for Peace called the bill “one of the most dangerous anti-democratic laws promoted” by Knesset members, adding:

“Boycott is a nonviolent, legal and legitimate means to promote social and political aims that are protected in civil rights of freedom of expression, opinion and assembly. The bill constitutes a fatal blow to all these civil rights.”

The police state law punishes entities or individuals that call for boycotting Israel, or an economic, cultural, or academic boycott of its illegal settlements.

According to the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Israel’s Supreme Court “ignored the chilling effect of this law, and missed the opportunity to tell legislators that there are limits to their anti-human rights actions. This law encourages discrimination against the Arabs in Israel.”

The 2012 Nakba Law “harms both the freedom of expression and the civil rights of Arab citizens, even before its implementation.”

“Because the law’s formulation is so broad and vague, many institutions have already begun and will self-censor in order not to risk incurring penalties.”

Israel’s high court upheld the law, falsely claiming it “does not raise difficult and complex questions.”

It violates Arab history, culture, heritage, and the right to express, teach, or disseminate it freely.

Arab intellectual Constantin Zureiq earlier called the Nakba “the worst catastrophe in the deepest sense of the word, to have befallen the Arabs in their long and disaster-ridden history.”

Compromising their ability to publicly denounce what happened compounds the high crime against them.

Speech, press, and academic freedoms in Israel are gravely endangered. In 2017, legislation was enacted that banned foreign nationals who support BDS from entering the country.

Last April, Israel’s Jerusalem district court ruled against Human Rights Watch’s Israeli office director Omar Shakir, a US citizen, ordering him deported for supporting the global BDS movement, his lawful free expression right.

HRW appealed the ruling, petitioning Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn the injustice. It got an injunction to let Shakir stay in the country until the high court heard his case.

On Tuesday, the court ruled against him, Shakir tweeting:

“Breaking: Israeli Supreme Court upholds my deportation over my rights advocacy. Decision now shifts back to Israeli gov; if it proceeds, I have 20 days to leave…(W)e won’t be the last.”

Critic of Israeli human rights abuses Amnesty International said

“the court has made it explicitly clear that those who dare to speak out about human rights violations by the Israeli authorities will be treated as enemies of the state.”

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled against free expression. Without it, all other rights are jeopardized.

Compromising speech, press, and academic freedoms is the hallmark of totalitarian rule — the new normal in the US, other Western societies and Israel, affirmed by its high court.

Is is just a matter of time before Western ones rule the same way?

Is digital democracy in the West and Israel endangered?

Are abuses against Chelsea Manning, other whistleblowers, Julian Assange, and other independent journalists prelude for much more severe crackdowns against fundamental freedoms ahead?

*

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from IMEMC


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HRW Highlights «Deepening Repression» Under Saudi’s MBS

HRW Highlights «Deepening Repression» Under Saudi’s MBS

By Staff, Agencies

Human Rights Watch says Saudi de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s [MBS] rise to power two years ago has been accompanied by “deepening repression and abusive practices” across the kingdom.

In a new report released on Monday, the New York-based group said activists, clerics and other perceived critics of the Saudi crown prince continue to be arbitrarily detained more than a year after the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey.

The report noted the detention of dissidents and harassment of their families was not a new phenomenon in the kingdom history, but the wave of repression since late 2017 had been distinguished by new repressive measures.

“Detaining citizens for peaceful criticism of the government’s policies or human rights advocacy is not a new phenomenon in Saudi Arabia,” it said.

“But what has made the post-2017 arrest waves notable and different, however, is the sheer number and range of individuals targeted over a short period of time as well as the introduction of new repressive practices.”

The crackdown under MBS began in September 2017 with the arrest of dozens of critics and rights activists in what was widely interpreted as an attempt to crush dissent.

The crown prince has also been on a modernization drive with reforms including allowing women over 21 to obtain passports and travel abroad without the permission of a male guardian.

But these reforms have belied a “darker reality,” according to the report, including the mass arrests of women’s rights activists, a number of whom have allegedly been sexually assaulted and suffered torture including whipping and electric shocks.

The report also said those reforms were a smokescreen for the ongoing detention of dozens of dissidents, some allegedly tortured in custody.

“Important social reforms enacted under Prince Mohammed have been accompanied by deepening repression and abusive practices meant to silence dissidents and critics.”

According to the report, the new repressive measure by MBS included extorting financial assets in exchange for a detainee’s freedom, a tool used against dozens of business people and royal family members arbitrarily held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh in November 2017.

Hundreds of elite princes and businessmen were then detained in what was billed as a move against corruption that was draining state coffers.

HRW cited reports that Saudi Arabia has used surveillance technologies to hack into the online accounts of the regime critics and infected their mobile phones with spyware.

The report also highlighted a lack of accountability for those responsible for Khashoggi’s murder, a crime MBS has sought to distance himself from.

A UN report released in June said there was “credible evidence” MBS and other senior Saudi officials were liable for Khashoggi’s killing, which the kingdom has characterized as a rogue operation by its agents.

But the international criticism has failed to halt a campaign against perceived dissidents inside the kingdom, according to the HRW report, with waves of arrests carried out against women’s rights activists and their allies this year, including the writer Khadijah al-Harbi, who was pregnant at the time of her detention.

Saudi Prisons and Courts: Is There Anything More Unjust?

Saudi Prisons and Courts: Is There Anything More Unjust?

By Latifa al-Husseini

Beirut – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is continuing his clampdown on every voice of dissent. It makes no difference whether power lies in his hands or those of his father, King Salman. He changed, deposed and imprisoned whoever he wanted. Things are done according to his will. He kills, buys or sells. He exercises control over whatever he wants. There is no obstacle blocking his way. Bin Salman’s policy of tyranny is evident across all of the kingdom’s internal matters. His behavior does not recognize the rights, opinions and demands of others. And for that reason, he believed there is simply no need for anyone to speak up. Therefore, the best solution is to silence and liquidate them.

Arrests and executions on the rise

When it comes to basic freedoms in the Kingdom, the situation is only getting more complicated. Activists have long complained of harassment and persecution. But the reign of Salman bin Abdul Aziz, which began four years ago, witnessed a sharp rise in the percentage of executions and unfair trials of prisoners of conscience, religious clerics and those taking part in peaceful movements. This is contrary to Bin Salman’s claims of reform that he made after the overthrow of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in 2017.

This year alone, there have been 164 executions so far, and arbitrary arrests have exceeded dozens. The scale of these executions suggests that there is no decline in unfair liquidations. In 2016, the Kingdom executed 153 citizens who were denied fair trials. In 2017, more than 100 detainees were executed, and hundreds of clerics, academics and writers were jailed. In 2018, authorities arrested and tortured dozens of female and other human rights activists.

Organized crimes are committed on the orders of the higher-ups. In 2015, these officials opened the doors of employment for those wishing to join its team of executioners. The security services report directly to the crown prince’s office. At the forefront of the security services is the State Security, which has been charged with arrest campaigns against political, social, and human rights activists from different currents in addition to the princes belonging to the ruling family who may pose a potential threat to Bin Salman. Also, in the crosshairs are tribal elders and businessmen who have had their significant wealth confiscated by the authorities.

In the absence of international accountability, Bin Salman’s apparatuses are moving towards more repression and tyranny. Information from within the Kingdom reflects a dark atmosphere. There are no resolutions, but rather a deepening crisis.

A prominent Saudi lawyer, Taha al-Hajji, spoke to Al-Ahed News Website about the very poor human rights situation, which appears to lack even the slightest glimmer of hope. Al-Hajji says that the Saudi judiciary usually does not announce its intention to execute prisoners. Instead it accumulates the number of prisoners it plans to put to death and then carries out mass executions. These often coincide with political developments in the region, especially those concerning Iran.

Indications that new executions are imminent & those most at risk

In light of recent reports that the authorities are preparing to execute a number of detainees, al-Hajji points to heightened activity on the part of the judiciary in the past weeks. It is speeding up trials and rushing hearings. Whereas before they were only held every two months. This indicates that authorities are striving to achieve a goal, especially since the Saudi judiciary has never held back-to-back hearings in this manner.

Al-Hajji’s remarks back reports circulating about sessions held by the specialized criminal court in the past two weeks for a number of preachers, most notably Salman Al-Odah and Safar Al-Hawali. Al-Hajji’s hypothesis is that the Saudi regime is preparing for a new batch of mass executions. He points to a long list of political prisoners and explains that their conditions vary judicially. Some are appearing before the appeals court and others before the Supreme Court. There are some detainees whose cases are still new, and no judgment has been issued. However, the prosecution is requesting the death penalty (it submits its application to the court and the court then decides).

According to al-Hajji’s data, the number of death sentences in Saudi Arabia is much higher than published. He warns that the detainees most at risk of execution are Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher and Daoud al-Marhoun, who face old sentences that came into force but were stopped due to international pressure.

Mock trials and violations of prisoners’ rights

Those who keep up with the human rights situation in the Kingdom would notice that the detainees who appear in court are not granted fair trials, and that the judiciary does not listen to them or their representatives. Due to his experience with the Al-Saud courts for many years, Al-Hajji asserts that it is difficult to figure out who is being sentenced to death. The authorities make these rulings public through state-run media, which announces that death sentences were handed down, but they do not name the defendants.

However, their common denominator is that they were all accused of crimes stemming from participation in the political movement.

Al-Hajji, who left the kingdom after getting fed-up of the Saudi judiciary’s persecution of prisoners, explains that some judgments are issued before the indictment is made, especially when it comes to detainees who participated in demonstrations and what the authorities consider inciting public opinion against the regime.

“The trials of political detainees take place in the specialized criminal court, which is dedicated to terrorism and state security cases. This gives a clear picture of how the regime treats the peaceful demonstrator,” he adds.

According to al-Hajji, the features of the mock trials resemble those of real ones: an accused, a lawyer, a prosecution and a hearing. Up to this point, everything appears normal. But the reality is different. What takes place in the courtroom is nothing but a skit in which the case is over before it even begins. Moreover, sentences are often accompanied by confessions referred to as legal confessions that are extracted under torture.

The file is submitted to the judge only after the detainee has been forced to sign the confessions the authorities want. The judge only has to ask, “Is this your signature?” Then, the case is closed. The presumed “defendant” does not know what he signed and is later returned to solitary confinement and abused.

Al-Hajji points out that he always challenged the confessions on which the court bases its ruling, in an attempt to prove that they were extracted under duress and torture in order to underscore its invalidity. But the court does not take the challenge seriously.

He evokes his bitter experience with the judiciary saying, “I always demanded video footage during the interrogation and medical reports proving that the detainee had been tortured, but the court does not oblige the prosecution on this matter and completely ignores it.”

Violations of the rights of the detainees are never ending. The court does not allow a prisoner to appoint a lawyer until after the case begins in court. Accordingly, he is forbidden to communicate with his family during the investigation period. To make matters worse, it may take more than a year after being arrested to bring the accused to court. Sometimes the case is brought to the court of terrorism and then referred the same day to the criminal court, al-Hajji stresses.

Since the kingdom’s judiciary lacks integrity and credibility, Al-Hajji decided years ago to boycott the Saudi courts, after it became clear that the lawyer is only an ‘extra on set’, serving the authority and whitewashing its performance before the Western media. And the detainee never benefits from him.

The pain of those forgotten in prisons

Al-Hajji describes prison conditions as tragic. According to his previous observations and what is happening today, it is another world in detention, one not even seen in the movies. It is a strange wild world. And yet the authority carries out a huge media campaign to polish its image and the image of its prisons. The latest of which was shown on National Day when a large number of celebrities entered the prisons to praise the services there.

“The buildings are modern and well-equipped, but what about the torture chambers and solitary cells? These are violations in the dozens,” Al-Hajji says. “Mrs. Nassima Al-Sadah has been in solitary confinement for more than a year now. While it has been leaked that Loujain Al-Hathloul has been subjected to horrific forms of torture and harassment. There are some detainees who were imprisoned and were only set free after being murdered.”

Al-Hajji asserts that all those who enter prison are subjected to particularly harsh treatment during the first interrogation period. He points out that Shia political detainees are banned from practicing their religious rites and so are some books.

Al-Hajji draws a clear distinction in the way terrorist prisoners from Al-Qaeda and ISIS are treated. They are subjected to counseling programs, imprisoned for a few months, then released and given in-kind and material gifts in spite of their heinous crimes.

“This program does not include Shia detainees or prisoners of conscience. The authorities tried to say that they do it with them. However, the truth shows that it is carried out only at the end of the term that prisoners of conscience are serving, that is, before the prisoner is finally released. This means that none of the Shia detainees had been released before completing the sentence. They are not subjected to the counseling program at all. And this applies to the Sunni prisoners of conscience,” he adds.

The tragic situation of the detainees under Mohammed bin Salman’s reign worsened despite claims of reform. This grim picture prompts al-Hajji to predict new atrocities on the part of the authorities, especially since activists abroad are being chased and their families inside the Kingdom are being put under great pressure, where no dissident or opposition figure is free.

Saudi Executions to be Continued: 39 Shia Detainees on Death Row

Saudi Executions to be Continued: 39 Shia Detainees on Death Row

By Staff

In the course of the Saudi regime’s continued crackdown against the Kingdom’s eastern province Shia population, activists warned that 39 detainees from Qatif are facing execution.

Detainees who come from the Shia-populated Qatif include 5 who are facing a final execution sentence and 8 are facing a preliminary sentence.

In further details, human rights activists urged urgent action is imperative to stop the government’s brutality following unfair mass trials, during which the detainees were tortured.

Earlier in April, the Saudi regime blatantly executed 37 Saudi youth for being opponents amid sickening international silence.

Giving empty pretexts and neglecting any talk of human rights, the Saudi interior ministry announced Tuesday the execution of 37 Saudi men.

“The death penalty was implemented… on a number of culprits for adopting extremist “terrorist” ideologies and forming “terrorist” cells to corrupt and disrupt security as well as spread chaos and provoke sectarian strife,” the state news agency said in a tweet.

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Now It’s Official: US Visa Can Be Denied If You (Or Even Your Friends) Are Critical of American Policies

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Now It’s Official: US Visa Can Be Denied If You (Or Even Your Friends) Are Critical of American Policies

Philip Giraldi
September 5, 2019

There have been several interesting developments in the United States government’s war on free speech and privacy. First of all, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP), which is responsible for actual entry of travelers into the country, has now declared that it can legally access phones and computers at ports of entry to determine if there is any subversive content which might impact on national security. “Subversive content” is, of course, subjective, but those seeking entry can be turned back based on how a border control agent perceives what he is perusing on electronic media.

Unfortunately, the intrusive nature of the procedure is completely legal, particularly as it applies to foreign visitors, and is not likely to be overturned in court in spite of the Fourth Amendment’s constitutional guarantee that individuals should “…be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Someone at a port of entry is not legally inside the United States until he or she has been officially admitted. And if that someone is a foreigner, he or she has no right by virtue of citizenship even to enter the country until entry has been permitted by an authorized US Customs and Border Protection official. And that official can demand to see anything that might contribute to the decision whether or not to let the person enter.

And there’s more to it than just that. Following the Israeli model for blocking entry of anyone who can even be broadly construed as supporting a boycott, the United States now also believes it should deny admittance to anyone who is critical of US government policy, which is a reversal of previous policy that considered political opinions to be off-limits for visa denial. DHS, acting in response to pressure from the White House, now believes it can adequately determine hostile intent from the totality of what appears on one’s phone or laptop, even if the material in question was clearly not put on the device by the owner. In other words, if a traveler has an email sent to him or her by someone else that complains about behavior by the United States government, he or she is responsible for that content.

One interesting aspect of the new policy is that it undercuts the traditional authority of US Embassies and Consulates overseas to issue visas to foreigners. The State Department visa process is rigorous and can include employment and real property verification, criminal record checks, social media reviews and Google-type searches. If there is any doubt about the visa applicant, entry into the US is denied. With the new DHS measures in place, this thoroughly vetted system is now sometimes being overruled by a subjective judgment made by someone who is not necessarily familiar with the traveler’s country or even regarding the threat level that being a citizen of that country actually represents.

Given the new rules regarding entering the United States, it comes as no surprise that the story of an incoming Harvard freshman who was denied entry into the United States after his laptop and cellphone were searched at Boston’s Logan Airport has been making headlines. Ismail Ajjawi, a 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Lebanon, was due to begin classes as a freshman, but he had his student visa issued in by the US Embassy in Beirut rejected before being flown back to Lebanon several hours later.

Ajjawi was questioned by one immigration officer who asked him repeatedly about his religion before requiring him to turn over his laptop and cell phone. Some hours later, the questioning continued about Ajjawi’s friends and associates, particularly those on social media. At no point was Ajjawi accused of having himself written anything that was critical of the United States and the interrogation rather centered on the views expressed by his friends.

The decision to ban Ajjawi produced such an uproar worldwide that it was reversed a week later, apparently as a result of extreme pressure exerted by Harvard University. Nevertheless, the decisions to deny entry are often arbitrary or even based on bad information, but the traveler normally has no practical recourse to reverse the process. And the number of such searches is going up dramatically, numbering more than 30,000 in 2017, some of which have been directed against US residents. Even though permanent resident green card holders and citizens have a legal right to enter the United States, there are reports that they too are having their electronic media searched. That activity is the subject of an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security that is currently working its way through the courts. The ACLU is representing 10 American citizens and a legal permanent resident who had their media searched without a warrant as required by the Fourth Amendment.

It is believed that many of the arbitrary “enforcements” by the CBP are carried out by the little-known Tactical Response Team (TRT) that targets certain travelers that fit a profile. DHS officials confirmed in September 2017 that 1,400 visa holders had been denied entry due to TRT follow-up inspections. And there are also reports of harassment of American citizens by possible TRT officials. A friend of mine was returning from Portugal to a New York Area airport when he was literally pulled from the queue as he was departing the plane. A Customs agent at the jetway was repeatedly calling out his birth date and then also added his name. He was removed from the line and taken to an interrogation room where he was asked to identify himself and then queried regarding his pilot’s license. He was then allowed to proceed with no other questions, suggesting that it was all harassment of a citizen base on profiling pure and simple.

My friend is a native-born American who has a Master’s degree and an MBA, is an army veteran and has no criminal record, not even a parking ticket. He worked for an American bank in the Middle East more than thirty years ago, which, together with the pilot’s license, might be the issue these days with a completely paranoid federal government constantly on the lookout for more prey “to keep us safe.” Unfortunately, keeping us safe has also meant that freedom of speech and association as well as respect for individual privacy have all been sacrificed. As America’s Founding Father Benjamin Franklin once reportedly observed, “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety will wind up with neither.”

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.

Down The Path of Justice, Oppression Becomes an Inspiration

By Nour Rida

So little has been written in mainstream media on Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, yet many people are learning about his case and cause. Nigerian people have been taking to the streets of the capital, to demand the immediate release of ailing the Muslim cleric.

Sheikh Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a 2015 raid by security forces that left more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons dead. His wife also sustained serious wounds. The Islamic Human Rights Commission [IHRC], based in London, said earlier this week that the cleric’s health condition has further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.

On this note, the Sheikh’s daughter, Suhaila al-Zakzaky, told al-Ahed news “The updates we have on my father’s condition is that he is still having difficulty getting things done. He is experiencing a lot of pain physically, and as a result it is difficult for him to sleep. His blood pressure has been fluctuating. Generally we have been very concerned; the doctors have not been able to conduct any proper further investigations into his condition. So, there is no full or conclusive statement on the status of his health.”

According to earlier reports, medical examinations on the Sheikh have found that the levels of lead toxicity in his body are much higher than the critical levels previously reported and 45 times over the normal acceptable limit. They have also found worrying levels of cadmium poisoning in the Sheikh. The news said that such are the levels of toxicity that the doctors have concluded that Sheikh Zakzaky is at risk of death unless he is urgently treated.

The daughter said she had no information on how lead poisoning took place. “I am not exactly sure how lead got there, they might have done it, and a medical team must investigate the case to conclude if he was poisoned or comment on how the lead got into his blood in first place.”

Answering whether she has direct contact with her father today, Suhaila pointed out “Yes, we do have direct contact because they gave him a phone now. Since the court case, they have allowed him to have a phone.”

Nigerians, according to the young activist, are protesting the injustice to which Sheikh Zakzaky is being subjected. “As you know there have been continuous protests almost on a daily basis and when it comes to the people, tremendous numbers have come to condemn what the government is doing,” Suhaila noted, adding “There are also some people who believe whatever the news says and think that the government is doing the right thing. The president’s aide held a press conference and claimed that the government has no power to interfere in the judicial process. However, the Islamic movement is trying as hard as possible to spread awareness and allow people to understand what is truly going on. It is so far very impressive how people are realizing the truth, and even many people in the government today condemn what is taking place.”

In regards on how this experience has affected her life, Suhaila explained “I would say that we have always expected possible adversities to be faced, and the massacre and the events that followed after to me, are more like what I would call the cost of this path (of justice). The only thing I can say is that it affects my outlook on everything. You know we have already sacrificed down this path, therefore it serves as an inspiration or motivation which would hopefully make us more steadfast.”

Furthermore, Suhaila underscored that she strongly believes that the detention of her father does make the Islamic movement stronger. “I believe that many people are finding out more about the Islamic movement not only due to the detention of my father but also due to the massacres that have happened. In terms of Nigeria for example, we have had a great level of supporters that we never knew we had. These people who show support to the Islamic movement did not bother to look into the Islamic movement earlier or even understand what it’s about. But now they show a great deal of support. Even on an international level, I believe that people, especially outside of Nigeria do not know much about the Islamic movement and with the level of media silence still a lot of people have become acquainted with the Islamic movement because of this, and hence yes I think it makes the Islamic movement stronger.”

Suhaila concluded that she, like many other young activists, will remain to participate in protests to sound her objection to the unjust detention of the Sheikh who is not only a father but also a leader in her eyes.

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