Muslim Al-Muhsin: Another Innocent Victim Beheaded in the Saudi Kingdom of Blood

October 5, 2021

Muslim Al-Muhsin: Another Innocent Victim Beheaded in the Saudi Kingdom of Blood

By Staff

Rushing to fill this year’s bloody record of beheading its own nationals, Saudi Arabia executed a citizen from the al-Awamia Neighborhood in the Shia-populated Eastern Province of Qatif on Tuesday, October 5, 2021.

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Interior identified the Saudi national as Muslim Mohammad al-Muhsin.

Al-Muhsin was brutally arrested from his workplace at al-Araf Commercial Center in the Saudi town of Awamia in the eastern province of Qatif on Monday, November 23rd, 2015.

The Saudi regime claimed that al-Muhsin “was behind the killing of Dhaifulla al-Qarashi, attempted to confront the security forces, and opened fire towards them.” During the arrest, the Saudi regime forces opened fire, shot him in his leg and arrested him, while unlike their narrative, no security personnel was harmed, even in the reports circulating by the regime’s media outlets.

Locals, however, who were present at the time of the arrest, indicated that more than 15 security personnel stormed the commercial center, moved towards al-Muhsin immediately and started beating him using batons and the bottoms of their machine guns. They even forced customers who were at the place to lie on the ground.

Without providing any evidence on the fabricated claims, the Saudi authorities neither identified were the incident took place, nor the weapon that was used by the alleged perpetrator.

Al-Muhsin was brutally tortured during his arrest, not to mention the pain he had been through as the regime arrested him without removing the bullet he sustained in his left leg during the raid. He was also deprived from the right to assign a lawyer in a grave violation of human rights, as well as local and international laws.

After several delays of the show trial sessions, the Appellate Court of the Specialized Criminal Court decided to sentence al-Muhsin to death, in yet another brutal measure of many similar Saudi regime measures consistently targeting the people of the kingdom’s Shia-populated region.

The sentence was executed after the non-proved guilty citizen had spent almost six years behind bars, where only God knows what kind of treatment he had been through.

199 Rights Groups Urge Protection for Rearrested Palestinian Inmates

SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

199 Rights Groups Urge Protection for Rearrested Palestinian Inmates

By Staff, Agencies

Nearly 200 human rights organizations have held the Zionist entity fully responsible for the lives and safety of six prisoners who tunneled their way out of a maximum security Zionist detention center earlier this month and were arrested later.

A total of 199 organizations, in a joint statement released on Monday, called for the formation of an independent international investigation committee to immediately look into the conditions of their detention.

“According to the testimony of lawyers, ‘Israeli’ occupation forces assaulted them harshly from the moment of arrest, causing multiple bodily injuries. The injuries necessitated hospitalization of some of them as they had been subjected to unjustified violence and torture,” the statement read.

“They are deprived of sleep, and have been interrogated after complete sleep deprivation, according to available information. Interrogators have made death threats against some of them, and their relatives have also been arbitrarily arrested for the purposes of revenge.”

The human rights organizations stressed that the mistreatment of the prisoners amounts to a violation of international and humanitarian principles.

They demanded the “urgent formation of an independent, impartial and honest international investigation committee to examine circumstances surrounding the arrest of the six Palestinian prison escapees, and to hold the perpetrators of violations to account.”

The organizations called upon Arab nations and expatriates to advocate for Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Zionist occupation jails, and to raise their cause through social media platforms.

The rights organizations asked the Hague-based International Criminal Court to prosecute ‘Israeli’ prison officials responsible for the torture of Palestinian detainees.

They urged the Arab League and its bodies to support Palestinian prisoners, and to activate effective mechanisms at the international level.

The rights organizations stressed that UN special rapporteurs, especially Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory Michael Lynk, should actively shed light on the Zionist entity’s systematic torture of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and take the matter to the United Nations.

On Sunday, the Zionist occupation forces arrested the two remaining prisoners, who had escaped from Gilboa Prison more than two weeks ago.

A former commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin and five Islamic Jihad members had tunneled their way out through their cell’s drainage system and escaped from the prison on September 6.

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held at Zionist jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention.

Enforced Disappearance: A Crime against Humanity Systematically Practiced by Saudi Arabia

August 31, 2021

Enforced Disappearance: A Crime against Humanity Systematically Practiced by Saudi Arabia

By the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights

On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, which is commemorated every year on August 30, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed that, despite being “strictly prohibited by international human rights law in all circumstances, enforced disappearances continue to be used worldwide as a means of repression, intimidation and stifling opposition. Lawyers, witnesses, political opposition and human rights defenders are at particular risk of enforced disappearance,” he said. “This deprives families and communities of the right to know the truth about their loved ones, accountability, justice and reparations.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia practices enforced disappearance, on a large scale, especially against political detainees and opinion-makers through blatant circumvention and evasion. Most families of the victims are unaware of the fate of their relatives, after they have been detained on the street or in their workplaces, because they have been deprived the right to communicate with them and have no access to a lawyer.

In many cases, after a forced disappearance, that last for hours or days, officials at General Investigation Prisons allow the disappeared person a brief contact to inform his family of his whereabouts, only to return and disappear for periods lasting a year or more, during which he is tortured and denied the right to communicate with the outside world or access a lawyer.

In other cases, enforced disappearance extends without any information about the victim’s whereabouts or the reason for the arrest, for months or years. In light of Saudi Arabia’s intimidation policy against activists and human rights defenders.

The European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights documented the Saudi Arabian government’s use of enforced disappearance as a prelude to torture, extracting confessions, and in many cases the use of these confessions to issue death sentences.

Enforced disappearance is defined, according to the article II of the International Convention for the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance, as “arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of individuals acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which deprives him of the protection of the law”.

During 2021, ESOHR monitored the practice of enforced disappearance by the security services against a number of detainees, including activists:

Abdullah al-Mubaraki:

On July 22, 2021, Al-Mabaheth forces arrested online activist Abdullah bin Awad al-Mubaraki from his home in Yanbu. The family does not officially know the reason for the arrest and news broke from the moment of the arrest. Despite attempts by the family to find out where he is, and to verify his whereabouts from the prisons of Yanbu, Medina and Jeddah, they have been unable to reach him. However, activists believe that the reason for his arrest stems from his expression of opinion, his participation in campaigns on social media to defend political and civil rights, and his opposition to government policies.

Lina al-Sharif

In late May 2021, officials from the Saudi State Security Presidency raided the Sharif family’s home in Riyadh, arresting Dr. Lina al-Sharif and taking her to an unknown location. Before her arrest, al-Sharif had been active on social media, discussing Saudi politics and defending human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah

On May 12, 2021, State Security forces arrested Abdullah Jilan, in Medina, after it stormed his mother’s house and searched him before taking him to an unknown location. Jilan was active on Twitter, calling for his right to work and fundamental freedoms in Saudi Arabia. So far, his fate and whereabouts remain unknown.

Najla Abd El-Aziz:

Saudi security forces arrested activist Najla Abdul Aziz Mohammed al-Marwan on July 20, 2021, from her home in the capital al-Riyadh. Najla is a young divorced woman and a mother of two children. According to reports, Saudi Arabia is still forcibly hiding her after more than a month in detention, and the family has no information about her.

Najla’s Twitter account shows that she welcomed and supported the call to demonstrate in conjunction with Arafa Day. A group of activists launched a hashtag called #Arafat_Day_protest, and called for participation in a campaign against the government’s policies and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with the goal of calling for the release of detainees, in addition to enabling young people’s right to employment, tax removal, and more.

ESOHR also monitored other arbitrary arrests. Local sources said victims were also subjected to enforced disappearance, including Sheikh Abdullah al-Shihri, who was arrested for tweets criticizing statements made by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Among those reported missing are Reina Abdulaziz and Yasmine al-Ghafili.

Continuous Enforced Disappearances:

In addition, Saudi Arabia regularly hides individuals, with no information on their whereabouts for years.

In April 2016, preacher Suleiman al-Darwish disappeared during his visit to Mecca. His family does not know any details about the arrest or its reasons nor has it been officially informed of any information about his whereabouts. However, the Ministry of Interior posted his name on its website, which is dedicated to identifying the names and status of detainees. The statement indicated that he was “under investigation”, but his name was removed after a while.

Al-Darwish is still missing and despite the request from the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances for official information from Saudi Arabia on his whereabouts, his whereabouts remain unknown.”

Human rights organizations that received information in May 2012 confirmed to them that Al-Duwaish was transferred directly to the office of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman after his arrest, where he beat him.

In August 2015, the Saudi government announced the arrest of Ahmad al-Mughassil in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Since his arrest six years ago, the family has not been able to contact him or to know his whereabouts. Although Saudi Arabia announced the arrest, it did not announce where he was being held or the charges he is officially facing. Information the family received about the possible murder or death under torture raised concerns that the family could not get any information about his condition since his arrest.

In January 2020, Saudi security forces arrested Mohammed Al Ammar during a military raid in Qatif. The Saudi government announced the arrest of Ammar, who had been on wanted lists for years, but the family was unable to find out where he was, and they did not allow him any visits. In light of information about his severe injury during the arrest. Al-Ammar was not offered a trial, unless his whereabouts were known to be in enforced disappearance.

Hide as an introduction to unfair judgments:

Besides the cases in which individuals are still forcibly disappeared, detainees face harsh sentences, sometimes up to death, despite being subjected to enforced disappearance at the time of arrest. Among them is Mohammed Al-Shakhouri, who was forcibly disappeared by the Saudi government for three days after his arrest, and who was then able to communicate with his family in brief call, not being able to know what he was exposed to for eight months. The organization has also monitored executions of detainees including minors, despite violations there were subjected to including enforced disappearances, such as Abdelkrim al-Hawaj.

According to ESOHR, the Saudi government uses enforced disappearance for a variety of reasons. While in many cases concealment is used as a prelude to torture in order to extract confessions, it is used for reprisal motives that refuse to disclose definitively the status and location of the person forcibly disappeared and to intimidate the community and families.

The organization maintains that Saudi Arabia, through its practice of enforced disappearance, is committing a “crime against humanity” violating its domestic and international laws. And it recalls that no justification for the continuation of this crime can be invoked, as affirmed in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or the threat of war, internal political instability or any other exception, may be invoked to justify enforced disappearance.”

Data Leak Raises New Questions over Capture of Princess Latifa

July 22, 2021

Data Leak Raises New Questions over Capture of Princess Latifa

By Staff, The Guardian

For a few days Princess Latifa had dared to think she could relax. An extraordinary plan to escape from a father she said had once ordered her “constant torture” was looking as if it might work, as she sat on a 30-metre yacht on the Indian Ocean, her home city of Dubai further and further away.

Yet the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of the glittering Emirati city, still wanted to connect with home, to tell family and friends something of her new-found freedom, sending emails, WhatsApp messages and posting on Instagram from what she thought were two secure, brand new “burner” pay-as-you-go mobile phones.

It was a decision that may have had fateful consequences, according to analysis by the Pegasus project.

At the height of the escape drama, it can now be revealed, the mobile numbers for Latifa and some of her friends back home appeared on a database at the heart of the investigation.

It raises the possibility that a government client of the NSO Group was drawing up possible candidates for some sort of surveillance.

It was late February 2018, and Princess Latifa, then 32, had been desperate to flee her father’s emirate for many years. She had made a “very, very naive” first attempt in 2002, arranging to be driven across the border to neighbouring Oman, but was easily recaptured. This time she hoped it was different, but had prepared for the worst.

When planning her second escape, Latifa had prepared a video to be released online if the latest effort was foiled, explaining why she wanted to quit home. In it, Latifa described how she was beaten and tortured between 2002 and 2005, during which time she was also forcibly injected with sedatives, and once told by her captors: “Your father told us to beat you until we kill you.”

They were extraordinary claims of abuse that were accepted as truthful in a fact-finding judgment from an English judge, part of a custody battle between Sheikh Mohammed and his sixth and former wife, Princess Haya, over their two young children. Part of that continuing case turns on how Dubai’s ruler treated some of his other children, although after the fact-finding ruling, Sheikh Mohammed insisted it had only told “one side of the story”.

Alongside Latifa on the Nostromo was her best friend and confidant, a Finn with a taste for adventure, Tiina Jauhiainen. She had first met the princess at the end of 2010, when she was asked to become her fitness instructor, and had become so close that the princess asked for her help to get out of the country, in an elaborate scheme worthy of a film.

Also on board was Herve Jaubert, a former French spy, who was captaining the vessel. It was Jaubert who had devised the yacht end of the escape plan after Latifa recruited him – Jauhiainen later told a London court he was paid €350,000 – after she had come across a book he had written about escaping from Dubai, after a business deal he was involved in ran into trouble nearly a decade before.

Latifa and Jauhiainen believed their communications, via the yacht’s satellite uplink, were secure.

They had taken some precautions: Jaubert had turned the ship’s tracking device off and their phones were new, with brand new sim cards.

Latifa and Jauhiainen began their escape at 7am on 24 February from downtown Dubai. The princess’s driver had dropped her off to meet her friend for breakfast, then Latifa changed clothes in the cafe’s bathroom, where she ditched her normal mobile phone, leaving it on silent in the bathroom and went on the run.

Likening themselves to the ill-fated Thelma and Louise, the duo drove six hours to Muscat in neighboring Oman. There with the help of Christian Elombo, a former French soldier and a friend of both women, they made a difficult journey by dinghy and jetski, 13 miles out into the ocean to international waters, where Jaubert and the Nostromo were waiting.

Meanwhile, back in Dubai the hunt for the missing princess had started. A day later, on 25 February, Latifa’s phone appeared in the leaked data list, by Dubai’s doing, it is thought, although not much may have been gleaned, given that it had been left behind in the cafe.

Elombo and his friend, who were supposed to leave Oman, were picked up a day later and questioned by the authorities on behalf of the neighboring state. Realizing contact with Elombo had been lost, and becoming a little more nervous, Latifa and Jauhiainen revised their plan. They had intended to go to Sri Lanka, from where Latifa would fly to the US to claim asylum, but instead they opted to land in India.

Yet, it did not appear to matter much, because for the first four days at sea, until 28 February, there was nobody on their tail. Latifa and Jauhiainen were thrilled to have made it, although conditions were not luxurious: there was an ever-expanding number of cockroaches onboard and, apart from watching a few bad movies, there was not much to do. Inevitably they ended up spending time on their phones.

On the same day, 28 February, the numbers of some of her friends began appearing on the list that is determined to have come from Dubai.

At home, one of Latifa’s few freedoms had been skydiving; she had jumped frequently with Jauhiainen among others. But it was other members of the daredevil club whose numbers were being added to the list in the days that followed, including Juan Mayer, a photographer who regularly took pictures of the princess mid-air, which formed the basis of a short magazine feature.

The data indicates other numbers began to appear too: those of Lynda Bouchiki, an events manager, and, more significantly, Sioned Taylor, a Briton who lived in Dubai, working as a maths teacher in a girls’ school. Taylor, too had been a member of the skydiving club.

Both Bouchiki and Taylor had known Latifa from acting as chaperones prior to her flight. After she had been released from prison, the princess was never allowed out of home unsupervised; friends of the princess say that Taylor, in particular, had also become a close friend.

On the Nostromo, Jauhiainen, who spoke to the Guardian in April, remembers Latifa messaging both Taylor and Bouchiki. The latter did not reply, but she clearly remembers that the princess was chatting with Taylor while they were onboard. At one point Latifa even became suspicious, saying: “I’m not sure this is Sioned,” but the communications continued.

What that signified precisely is unclear, but what the database shows is that Taylor’s mobile phone was listed repeatedly – on 1 and 2 March and again on the day Latifa was to be captured, 4 March. Bouchiki’s number appeared again, on 2 March.

Without forensic examination of phones, it is not possible to say whether any attempt was made to infect the devices, or whether any infection attempt was successful.

But at sea, the situation had changed, ominously. Jaubert says it was on 1 March, a day after Latifa’s friends and family were first targeted that he first noticed the first ship following the Nostromo, curiously taking the same route and following at the same speed. Spotter planes followed soon after that.

It was clear they had been picked up by the Indian coastguard. The captain became increasingly nervous, also emailing a campaign group, Detained in Dubai, worrying that he might run out of fuel as he chose to head towards the Indian port city of Goa, and seeking their help. But they were never to arrive.

After 10pm on 4 March, about 30 miles offshore, in an operation authorized by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, at the request of Dubai, around 15 Indian commandos in “full military gear” stormed the yacht, firing stun grenades to incapacitate those onboard.

Latifa and Jauhiainen panicked, running below deck and locking themselves in the bathroom in a desperate attempt not to be seized. Latifa frantically rang Radha Stirling from Detained in Dubai, who said the princess was “frightened, hiding, that there were men outside and that she heard gunfire” on the emergency call.

But the two women had to give themselves up, as smoke poured in through the bathroom vents. They were captured and dragged to the deck, and according to Jauhiainen, Latifa was screaming, in English: “Shoot me here, don’t take me back” as she was dragged off, handed over to waiting Emirati forces, tranquillized and returned to Dubai.

Dubai did not respond to a request for comment. Sheikh Mohammed did not respond, although it is understood he denies having attempted to hack the phones of Latifa or her friends or associates, or ordering others to do so. He has also previously said he feared Latifa was a victim of a kidnapping and that he had conducted “a rescue mission”.

NSO denies the leaked list of numbers is that of “Pegasus targets or potential targets” and says the numbers are not related to the company in any way. Claiming that a name on the list is “is necessarily related to a Pegasus target or potential target is erroneous and false”.

Jauhiainen and Jaubert were released after a short period of detention, with the Finn relocating to London. Latifa was held under house arrest back home, and after a while managed to smuggle out fresh videos to Jauhiainen to tell more about her plight. “I’m a hostage. I am not free. I’m enslaved in this jail,” she angrily said.

But in the past three months there has been a notable change, involving two of the women Latifa tried to message from the boat. In May, Taylor posted a picture on Instagram of Latifa, sitting in a Dubai shopping mall, with her and Bouchiki, to show she was enjoying a degree of freedom at home.

Then, in June a picture followed of Latifa inside Madrid’s main airport, indicating she had been able to travel abroad. “I hope now that I can live my life in peace without further media scrutiny,” the princess said in a statement released by her lawyers, suggesting after the years of conflict some sort of accommodation with her father had been reached.

With the passage of time, it may never be possible to establish definitively how Latifa was recaptured at gunpoint.

NSO said that the fact that a number appeared on the list was in no way indicative of whether that number was selected for surveillance using Pegasus.

Palestinians protest death of activist Nizar Banat in PA police custody

Death of prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority has unleashed anger at President Mahmoud Abbas

Protesters hold photos of Nizar Banat, who died in the custody of Palestinian Authority security forces, during a demonstration in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on 24 June 2021 (MEE/Shatha Hammad)

By Shatha Hammad in Ramallah, occupied West BankPublished date: 24 June 2021 11:40 UTC | Last update: 8 hours 33 mins ago

Protesters took to the streets in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, facing police repression following the death of prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Nizar Banat overnight while in the custody of PA forces.

In Ramallah, the administrative centre of the PA, thousands of demonstrators chanted: “In soul, in blood, we defend you Nizar.”

Many other slogans took direct aim at the PA and President Mahmoud Abbas, with chants including: “The people want the downfall of the regime,” and “Leave, leave Abbas.”

PA forces hit demonstrators with batons and fired tear gas and stun grenades in Ramallah.

A member of Palestinian Authority forces wields a baton during the demonstration in memory of Nizar Banat in Ramallah on 24 June 2021 (MEE/Shatha Hammad)
A member of Palestinian Authority forces wields a baton during the demonstration in memory of Nizar Banat in Ramallah on 24 June 2021 (MEE/Shatha Hammad)

Banat was arrested by at least 25 officers, who raided his home in the town of Dura in the southern West Bank governorate of Hebron, at 3.30am on Thursday. He was declared dead shortly afterward.

Preliminary autopsy results showed that Banat was severely beaten with several bruises and fractures showing all over his body, Samir Zaarour, a doctor who oversaw the autopsy, said on Thursday.

The Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights revealed the autopsy results at a news conference in Ramallah on Thursday.

Zaarour said Banat had injuries in the head, neck, shoulders as well as broken ribs and internal bleeding in the lungs – signs indicative of an unnatural death – stressing that the victim did not suffer from any serious medical condition that would otherwise lead to his death.

Full autopsy and toxicology reports, expected to be available within 10 days, will definitively determine the cause of death.

‘Dangerous precedent’

Ammar Al-Dwaik, the general director of the commission, described the death of Banat a “dangerous precedent” against a political dissident, calling for a criminal investigation into the incident that would refer the perpetrators of the killing to trial.

Banat was well known for his criticism of the PA leadership and had been arrested several times in the past by Palestinian security forces. He was also a candidate on the Freedom and Dignity electoral list for the Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections, which had initially been scheduled for 22 May, but were postponed by the PA.

Human rights organisations and Palestinian factions have called for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Banat’s death – which, according to Mohannad Karajah, a member of the Palestinian Lawyers for Justice group, amounted to an “assassination”.

PA officials announced on Thursday afternoon that Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh had ordered an investigation committee – led by Minister of Justice Mohammad Shalaldeh and including a physician appointed by the Banat family, a human rights official, and a security official – into Banat’s death.

But Omar Assaf, a member of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) political bureau, dismissed outright the credibility of an investigation led by the PA.

“There needs to be a popular investigation committee established, not an official committee, because a popular committee will uncover the truth,” he told Middle East Eye.

He referred to the case of Majd al-Barghouthi, who died in PA custody in 2008, only for an official investigation to clear security forces of wrongdoing.

“In the case of Majd al-Barghouthi, they concluded that he was a chain smoker, when he had never smoked once in his life,” Assaf said. “These are the official investigation committees.”

‘Palestinian law protects the occupation’

Speaking at the demonstration in Ramallah, Assaf added: “This is a continuation of the Dayton [Mission] creed, which was adopted by the PA and its security apparatus, that the people are the enemy of the state. There must be the dismissal of heads of the security branches, and the criminals responsible for killing Nizar Banat should be brought to court.”

The PA was established in the wake of the 1993 Oslo Accords, and initially intended to be an interim governing body until the establishment of a fully-fledged Palestinian state.

But with a two-state solution never materialising, the PA – which exerts only limited control over Areas A and B, which make up around 40 percent of the West Bank – has long been accused by many Palestinians of being an extension of the Israeli occupation.

The PA’s security coordination with Israel is a principal target of anger. The policy, through which PA forces are in regular contact with Israeli forces, has meant PA police may withdraw from areas ahead of an Israeli army raid, or arrest Palestinians wanted by Israel.

“Palestinian law protects the occupation, but we want it to protect the Palestinian people,” Maher al-Akhras, a leader of the Islamic Jihad movement in the West Bank, told MEE from the Ramallah protest.Abbas critic Nizar Banat dies after raid on his home by PA forces

Akhras, who was released from Israeli prison in November following a 103-day hunger strike against his administrative detention, drew a parallel between Banat’s death and the killing of another prominent Palestinian activist, Basel al-Araj, in March 2017.

Araj had been one of six activists imprisoned and tortured by the PA for six months in 2016. Most of them were arrested by Israeli forces shortly after their release by the PA, while Araj went into hiding for months, only to later be killed in a standoff with Israeli forces. The PA had been widely denounced at the time as complicit in Araj’s death due to its security coordination.

The PA has also been criticised for its crackdown on political opposition and social media users in the West Bank through draconian legislation on social media posts. Abbas, meanwhile, has been in power since 2005. Though his term as president officially ended in 2009, the PA has not held presidential elections in 16 years.

In addition to legislative elections, a presidential vote initially scheduled for 31 July was postponed in April, with the voting rights of Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem cited as a reason. Critics of Abbas have accused the president of using Jerusalem’s right to vote as an excuse to avoid the election due to the popularity of Hamas, the main rival party to his own Fatah movement.

The US State Department said on Thursday that Washington was “disturbed” by Banat’s death.

“We urge the Palestinian Authority to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation and to ensure full accountability in this case,” spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. 

“We have serious concerns about Palestinian Authority restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression by Palestinians and harassment of civil society activists and organizations.”

Related

شهادات لمعتقلين لدى السلطة الفلسطينيّة: تعرّضنا لتعذيب وشتائم للمقاومة في غزة!

09/06/2021

كشفت شهادات لمعتقلين سياسيين أفرج عنهم مؤخراً من سجون قوات السلطة الأمنية، عن تعرّضهم لتعذيب وإهانات على خلفية مشاركتهم في تظاهرات وفعاليات داعمة للمقاومة في غزة، خلال الهبة الشعبية الأخيرة، التي تزامنت مع معركة «سيف القدس».

وأدلى عدد من المعتقلين السياسيين بشهادات عن إجبار المحققين لهم على شتم المقاومة، وتوجيه إهانات لهم خلال التحقيق لمشاركتهم في الفعاليات الشعبية، المناصرة لغزة، والتي هتفت لكتائب القسام، وأبوعبيدة ومحمد ضيف.

وفي شهادة نقلتها عائلته، قال المعتقل السياسي مصطفى الخواجا، من بلدة نعلين غرب رام الله، إن «المحققين أجبروه على شتم شخصيات من المقاومة في غزة، مثل الناطق باسم كتائب القسام أبو عبيدة وغيره».

وأفرج عن الخواجا، أول أمس، بعد 17 يوماً من الاعتقال تعرّض خلالها للتعذيب والشبح، وفقاً لعائلته، التي كشفت أن «الضباط خلال التحقيق وجّهوا إهانات له وشتائم للمقاومة واستخفافاً بإنجازها في المعركة».

وفي السياق، أدلى المعتقل السياسي أكرم سلمة بشهادة حول تعرّضه للتعذيب والإهانات، خلال اعتقاله لمدة 16 يوماً في سجن اللجنة الأمنية في أريحا.

وكشف أن التهمة التي اعتقلته أجهزة السلطة عليها، كانت التنظيم والمشاركة في مسيرات داعمة للمقاومة في غزة، خلال معركة «سيف القدس».

وأشار إلى أن المحققين تعمّدوا خلال التحقيق معه توجيه شتائم للمقاومة وقادتها، وعبارات مثل «تظنون أنكم انتصرتم؟ سنعيد تربيتكم من جديد؟».

من جانبه، أكد المحامي مهند كراجة من مجموعة «محامون من أجل العدالة»، توثيق ادعاءات تعذيب من جانب عدد من النشطاء الذين اعتقلوا في حملة الاعتقالات الأخيرة التي نفذتها الأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية، بعد الهبّة الشعبية والمعركة في غزة.

وقال إنه تم توثيق ما قاله المعتقلون حول تعرّضهم للتعذيب أمام محكمة الصلح والنيابة، التي قالت إنها ستفتح تحقيقاً بذلك، بعد الفحص من قبل طبيب شرعيّ.

وحول توثيق توجيه إهانات للمقاومة خلال التحقيق، أشار إلى أن مجموعة لم توثق هذه الشهادات بعد، نظراً للانشغال بمتابعة ملفات المعتقلين في الحملة، وستقوم بذلك لاحقاً.

وقال كراجة، إن المجموعة تتابع حالياً ثمانية معتقلين سياسيين، معظمهم محتجز لدى اللجنة الأمنية في أريحا.

Sheikh Isa Qassim: New Constitution Sole Way out of Bahrain Crisis

20/4/2021

Sheikh Isa Qassim: New Constitution Sole Way out of Bahrain Crisis

By Staff, Agencie

Bahrain’s top cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim stressed that “Drawing up a new constitution is the only way out of the political crisis in the protest-hit kingdom.”

He further called on urging the regime in Manama to pursue an agreement with the Bahraini opposition instead of increasingly suppressing the dissidents.

“Since the people do not find anything to persuade themselves to stop their protest movement and are witnessing a surge in the [regime’s] policy of repression, dictatorship and marginalization, they are pressing ahead with their uprising, whatever the cost may be,” Sheikh Qassim said in a statement released on Monday and carried by the Bahrain Mirror news website.

His Eminence further highlighted: “There would be no way out of the current situation unless the government reaches an agreement with the opposition to draw up a new constitution and found relevant institutions so as to protect the citizens’ rights and recognize their sovereign position in the country’s politics.”

The senior cleric pointed out that “Reforms must be undertaken at a pace satisfactory to the public and must guarantee the authority, dignity, comfort, security and interests of all.”

This comes as Bahrain’s crackdown continues in Ramadan as regime forces attack political inmates in Jaw prison.  “There is a serious political and legal crisis in Bahrain, the consequences of which will be dangerous for both the nation and the government itself,” he stated.

He denounced the Manama regime over the “absurd” policy of putting more people behind bars, saying such a practice will not even benefit the “unjust political goal” being pursued by the Al-Khalifah regime.

“If the purpose of populating prisons with thousands of inmates is to tone down the demands for political and civil rights to mere calls for the release of prisoners, the calls among the prisoners themselves for the nation’s rights [to be guaranteed] will definitely thwart such a conspiracy,” Sheikh Qassem confirmed.

“The people of Bahrain are well aware of the fact that the solution to the country’s crisis lies only in a genuine improvement of the situation and establishment of a political relationship between the nation and the government on the basis of new and viable principles,” His Eminence elaborated.


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Isolated and Alone. Palestinian Children Held in Solitary Confinement by Israeli Authorities for Interrogation

By Defense for Children International – Palestine

Global Research, December 04, 2020

Defense for Children International – Palestine 1 December 2020

Between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2019, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) documented 108 cases in which Palestinian children arrested by the Israeli military were held in isolation for two or more days during the interrogation period.

The average duration of isolation in this data set was 14.3 days. Nearly 40 percent, 43 children, endured a prolonged period of isolation of 16 or more days. While mainly studying adult prisoner populations, numerous scientific sources indicate that after 15 days “some of the harmful psychological effects of isolation can become irreversible.”1

The longest documented period of isolation was 30 days, while the shortest was three days. Quteiba B. was 16 years old when he was arrested on September 23, 2018, and was subjected to 30 days of isolation in Israel’s Asqalan interrogation and detention center, located inside Israel. The 108 children whose cases were documented by DCIP were all boys aged between 14 and 17 years old, of whom 70 were aged 17, 30 were aged 16, seven were aged 15, and one was aged 14.

The children were accused of a range of offenses by Israeli authorities, predominantly throwing stones, Molotov cocktails or grenades; 76 children in the data set were accused of such offenses. A further 22 children were accused of weapons possession, and 10 children were accused of involvement with a military cell. Other accusations ranged from incitement on Facebook and plotting an attack, to membership in a banned organization or aiding a wanted individual.

Of the 108 cases, some children were detained at multiple locations, however, at least 52 children were held at Al-Jalame (also known as Kishon) interrogation and detention center; at least 29 children were held at Petah Tikva interrogation and detention center; at least 32 were held at Megiddo prison and at least 14 were held at Al-Mascobiyya interrogation and detention center in Jerusalem. These facilities are located inside Israel, and all are operated or controlled by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) and the Israel Security Agency. Palestinian children are often transferred between centers during a period of detention.

Solitary confinement of children under international law

International law prohibits the use of solitary confinement and similar measures constituting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against children, defined as any person under 18 years old.3 The practice of solitary confinement, in addition to corporal punishment, placement in a dark cell, or any other punishment that may compromise the physical or mental health of the child may, in some cases, amount to torture.4

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan Méndez, has noted “[t]here is no universally agreed upon definition of solitary confinement.”5 However, solitary confinement generally refers to the physical and social isolation of individuals who are confined to their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day, without meaningful human contact.6

In a 2016 statement, Mr. Méndez defined the types of human interaction that may constitute meaningful contact. “Isolation entails the lack of meaningful social contact for the detainee, whether by means of interaction with other inmates or penitentiary staff, visits, or participation in work, educational, and leisure activities, or sports. [ . . . ] The international law of human rights mandates significant human contact both within and outside of prison, including with fellow prisoners and with prison staff not strictly dedicated to security functions.”7

International law recognizes that children are inherently different from adults because they are still developing both physically and psychologically. Consequently, children are afforded special protections under international law, and the threshold for actions constituting grave human rights violations is lowered when the victim is a child. For example, the prohibition against torture is one of few absolute and non-derogable human rights standards. It applies to any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on any person for a number of reasons.8 However, the victim’s age and relative position of inferiority must be taken into consideration when assessing whether treatment or punishment may be classified as torture.9

Specifically, “[c]hildren experience pain and suffering differently to adults owing to their physical and emotional development and their specific needs. In children, ill-treatment may cause even greater or irreversible damage than for adults. Moreover, healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body, with damaging long-term effects on learning, behaviour and health.”10Year-in-Review: Worst Abuses Against Palestinian Children in 2017

International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, require that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort, must not be unlawfully or arbitrarily detained, and must not be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Israel’s human rights obligations apply not only inside Israel, but also extend to the territory it occupies, including the Occupied Palestinian Territory.11

In 2011, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan Méndez, called for an absolute prohibition on the use of solitary confinement on children, in a report submitted to the U.N. General Assembly.12

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child considers the solitary confinement of children, for any duration, to be cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and, in some cases, even torture.13

Mr. Méndez has stipulated that even the use of solitary confinement for the stated purpose of separating juveniles or other vulnerable detainees from segments of a prison population is “unjustified unless they actually request protection.”14

DCIP finds that the physical and social isolation of Palestinian children for interrogation purposes, without their explicit request or consent, during pre-charge and pretrial military detention by Israeli authorities, and where there is limited or no meaningful human contact, is a practice that constitutes solitary confinement. DCIP considers the aforementioned practice by Israeli authorities to amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

While Israeli officials consistently argue that international human rights law, specifically the treaties Israel has ratified, does not apply to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, these arguments have found no international support and have been consistently rejected by the International Court of Justice and several U.N. human rights treaty bodies when assessing Israel’s obligations under international law toward Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.15

Solitary confinement solely for interrogation purposes

Evidence and documentation collected by DCIP overwhelmingly indicates that the isolation of Palestinian children within the Israeli military detention system is practiced solely to obtain a confession for a specific offense or to gather intelligence under interrogation.

DCIP has found no evidence demonstrating a legally justifiable use of isolation of Palestinian child detainees, such as for disciplinary, protective, or medical reasons.

The practice has been used, almost exclusively, during pre-charge and pretrial detention. The practice is not generally employed after children have been convicted and are serving their sentences.

Isolation of Palestinian children typically follows a military arrest and transfer period, during which many children are subjected to numerous human rights violations.

While in isolation, the children experience minimal human contact and also commonly report significantly worse cell conditions compared to the cells in which they were placed during other periods of detention.

Almost all interrogations of Palestinian children held in isolation are carried out without prior consultation with or the presence of a lawyer or a family member. Further, children are often exposed to abuse and torture during interrogations.

Coercive tactics, including the use of informants, are frequently used and may cause children to unintentionally incriminate themselves or to issue false confessions.

Arrest and transfer

Israeli forces frequently arrest Palestinian children at night. In 71 out of 108 cases (66 percent), children held in solitary confinement reported being detained from their homes between midnight and 5 a.m. by heavily armed Israeli soldiers.

Israeli forces typically gather all the occupants of the house, regardless of age, in one area or room and demand identification.
Physical violence against family members, including other children in the home, is common. Generally, Israeli forces
separate the wanted child from his family within the home for questioning and to confirm his identity. Some children report
being subject to physical and verbal abuse and intimidation. Israeli forces often search the home during the raid resulting in
the destruction of property. Mobile phones and other items are confiscated during the raids. Once a child’s identity has been verified, Israeli forces detain and take the child into custody, removing them from the home.

Children and their families are rarely informed of the reasons for arrest, or the location where the child will be detained.

In almost all cases, children’s hands are tied behind their backs with plastic cords, often to their discomfort, rather than standard metal handcuffs, and most are blindfolded. In the solitary confinement cases documented by DCIP, all 108 children had their hands bound, and 102 out of 108 children (94 percent) were blindfolded during their arrest and transfer.

Children are also subjected to verbal and physical abuse and intimidation when taken to a military vehicle. Once inside, they are often forced to sit on the floor, bound and blindfolded, and surrounded by Israeli forces, where this abuse often continues. In 77 out of 108 cases (71 percent), children endured some form of physical violence following arrest.

They are subsequently transferred to a military base or directly to an interrogation facility.

Isolation and cell conditions

Palestinian child detainees are held in solitary confinement at detention facilities located inside Israel. These facilities include Petah Tikva interrogation and detention center in central Israel, near Tel Aviv; Al-Jalame interrogation and detention center (Kishon) in northern Israel, near Haifa; and Al-Mascobiyya interrogation and detention center in Jerusalem.

Across these locations, children reported significantly worse cell conditions during periods of isolation compared to other periods of detention in which they were not isolated. The conditions in isolation cells are commonly characterised by inadequate ventilation, 24-hour yellow lighting, no windows, unsanitary bedding and toilet facilities and hostile architectural features such as wall protrusions.

Children describe being held in isolation in a small cell measuring approximately 5 feet by 6.5 feet (1.5 meters by 2 meters). The children report either sleeping on a concrete bed, on the floor, or on a thin mattress that is often described as “dirty” and “foul smelling.” There are no windows and no natural light. The only source of light comes from a dim yellow bulb that is reportedly kept on at all hours. Meals are passed to children through a flap in the door. Cell walls are reported to be gray in color with sharp or rough protrusions that are painful to lean against. Children frequently report that the paint of the cell walls and the lighting inside hurt their eyes.

No meaningful human contact

During isolation, Palestinian children have limited or no meaningful social contact. This includes an absence of access to rehabilitative, educational, recreational and therapeutic activities or services.

Palestinian children held in isolation solely for interrogation purposes are denied access to family visits. Typically, these children experience limited contact only with facility guards, interrogators and informants. Meals are passed to children through a flap in the door, leaving children with virtually no non-adversarial or meaningful human contact.

Palestinian children who are not detained in isolation are transferred to military courts where a military judge may extend their detention, and at which they may see their parents and a lawyer. However, Palestinian children held in isolation solely for interrogation purposes have their detention extended by military judges at the detention facility itself; further forestalling contact between children and their families and lawyers.

Read full report here.

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Featured image is an illustration by DCI-PThe original source of this article is Defense for Children International – PalestineCopyright © Defense for Children International – PalestineDefense for Children International – Palestine, 2020

Saudi Arabia’s abominable human rights record

November 30, 2020 – 11:33

By Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman is an American award-winning author, syndicated columnist, and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Like the U.S., Israel, and other rogue states, the Saudis operate by their own rules in flagrant violation of international laws, norms, and standards. It’s the world’s head-chopping/public whippings capital. Anyone can be targeted for exercising free expression, human rights activism, or other forms of dissent against despotic rule.

They’re also vulnerable for not praying at designated times, improper dress code, non-observance of gender segregation, and other nonconformity with Wahhabi extremism.

Its documented high crimes include state-sponsored murder, torture, arbitrary arrests, and detentions, supporting ISIS and other terrorist groups, partnering in U.S. regional wars, banning free elections, denying due process and judicial fairness, prohibiting religious freedom, human trafficking, kidnappings, committing crimes of war and against humanity, along with virtually every other rule of law breach imaginable.

In mid-November, the London Daily Mail reported the following: “Saudi interrogators forced jailed women’s rights activists to perform sex acts, hung them from ceilings and ‘tortured’ them with electric shocks,” citing a report, titled: “A Stain on World Leaders and the G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia: The shameful detention and torture of Saudi women.”

The report explained that in May 2018, “10 human rights defenders who had successfully campaigned” to end the prohibition against women driving were arrested and detained. 

Weeks later, nine more arrests and detentions followed. Targeted individuals were activists for women’s rights in the kingdom. A few are males who support gender equality were also arrested. Most individuals targeted remain detained. It was learned that they were “subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading conditions of detention, solitary confinement, and unfair trial processes.”

In the report, human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy called on G20 nations to boycott the virtual November 21-22 Riyadh summit until wrongfully detained women are free. Other charges included forcing them to watch pornography, along with performing other sexual acts on interrogators.

One detained woman was reportedly told: “I’ll do whatever I like to you, and then I’ll dissolve you and flush you down the toilet.” Another woman said Saudi King Salman’s younger brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, oversaw what went on, at one point saying:  “I can do anything I like to you.”

Commenting on her report, Baroness Kennedy said horrendous abuses endured by detained women in the kingdom wouldn’t be tolerated in “decent nation(s),” adding: “Being expected to deliver for interrogators, what that has done to the soul of a woman is so terrible.”

Saudi abuses against nonviolent activist women are typical of how their ruling authorities always operate — showing contempt for the rights of ordinary people, tolerating no dissent.

Crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) is the kingdom’s torturer assassin-in-chief. He personally signed off on the October 2018 brutal murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate. In 2017, he arrested and detained hundreds of royal family members and Saudi businessmen. Held under house arrest at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, they were forced to pay tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in cash and assets to the regime for release — MBS grand theft on the phony pretext of rooting out corruption. 

He consolidated power by eliminating rivals and terrorizing potential ones. Royal family members, Saudi businessmen, and others in the kingdom not willing to affirm loyalty to his rule risk arrest, detention, torture, and elimination.

Since appointed crown prince in June 2017 — gaining power because his of father’s mental and physical deterioration — he’s ruthlessly gone all-out to solidify it unchallenged. He likely OK’s sexual and other torture of detained women activists.

UN secretary-general Guterres is largely silent about Western, Israeli and Saudi high crimes, serving their interests instead of condemning them. As long as Saudi Arabia is oil-rich, its wealth used to invest in Western countries and buy their weapons, as well as partnering in their regional wars, their ruling authorities will turn a blind eye to the worst of kingdom high crimes.
 

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‘Night of the Beating’: Details Emerge of Riyadh Ritz-Carlton Purge

Source

November 20, 2020

Capture

In early November 2017, nearly 400 of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful people, among them princes, tycoons and ministers, were rounded up and detained in the Ritz-Carlton hotel, in what became the biggest and most contentious purge in the modern kingdom’s history.

The arrests shook the foundations of Saudi society, in an instant turning untouchable establishment figures into targets for arrest. Statuses were discarded, assets seized and business empires upended. A conventional pact between the state and its influential elite was shredded overnight.

Now, leading figures caught up in the detentions have revealed details of what they say took place. The former detainees, many of whom were stripped of fortunes, portray a scene of torture and coercion, and of royal court advisers leading chaotic attempts to understand the investments behind the wealth of the kingdom’s most influential families, then seizing what they could find.

The accounts of what occurred in the Ritz, provided through an intermediary, are from some of the most senior Saudi business figures, who claim to have been beaten and intimidated by security officers, under the supervision of two ministers, both close confidantes of the man who ordered the purge, the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman.

The disclosures come on the third anniversary of the purge and ahead of the G20 summit in Riyadh this weekend, which the Covid-19 pandemic has turned from a global showpiece into a giant webinar. Prince Mohammad, the de facto ruler, will also from January face a new US president who is likely to eschew the wholesale cover provided by the Trump administration in favor of a more conventional approach that pays some heed to human rights issues.

Advocates of the right for women to drive in Saudi Arabia among them Loujain al-Hathloul, remain in prison in Riyadh, despite campaigns for their release. The summit, a theme of which is women’s empowerment, has been flagged as a moment to offer clemency, but officials have remained unmoved.

The Ritz-Carlton detentions often started with a phone call, summoning targets for meetings with Prince Mohammad, or King Salman himself. In another case, two prominent businessmen said they were told to meet in a home and wait for a royal court adviser to join them. Instead, state security officials showed up, ushering them to a five-star prison, where guards and senior aides were waiting.

“On the first night, everyone was blindfolded and nearly everyone was subjected to what Egyptian intelligence calls the ‘night of the beating’”, said a source with intimate knowledge of what took place. “People were asked if they knew why they were there. No one did. Most were beaten, some of them badly. There were people tied to the walls, in stress positions. It went on for hours, and all of those doing the torturing were Saudis.

“It was designed to soften them up. And then the next day, the interrogators arrived.”

The detainees had by then been separated into rooms in the hotel that a year earlier had been the venue for the launch of Prince Mohammad’s ambitious “Vision 2030” plan – an overhaul of Saudi society that was meant to open a rigid country to a world at that point intrigued by the breadth of his promised reforms.

“There is a misconception that they turned up all-knowing with pages of data and information,” a source said, of the interrogators. “They didn’t. They in fact knew very little and were winging it. They were OK on Saudi assets, but they were hopeless on the offshore stuff.”

Some detainees spoke of being threatened with the release of private information, such as extramarital affairs, or business dealings that would not have won approval even under the old system. Next to nothing leaked, but the few details that did emerge gave relevance to the calls Ibrahim Warde, an adjunct professor of international finance at the Fletcher School of Tufts University in the US, had started receiving in mid-2017 from former students asking about prominent Saudis whose careers he had explored in course work. He sensed something big was looming in Riyadh, and he was right.

“Many of those who came out of my classes ended up in the world of financial intelligence,” he said. “I kept getting strange requests from some of them about who was involved in various financial shenanigans. It became clear that they were preparing reports for companies that were acting for Saudis back home.”

The lack of understanding of investment structures surprised some of the men being questioned. “They were guessing peoples’ net worth,” said the source familiar with events inside the Ritz. “It was a shakedown. At one point, they gave people access to their emails and phones and told them to contact their [banking] relationship managers in Geneva and ask for large sums of money. The callers were told there was no equity in the accounts. [The interrogators] thought all the assets were in cash.”

A senior banking source, who refused to be named, said executives across the Swiss banking sector had launched an investigation in the wake of irregular transactions at the time of the crackdowns. “A lot of these transfers appear to have been made under duress. Some were stopped, because the requests were not routine. But some got through.”

Many of those detained told aides they remained puzzled about why they were there. Some had been confidantes of the Saudi monarchy over generations, benefiting from their access to monarchs and princes who had not been shy in cultivating business leaders through access and largesse. All Saudi royals had enjoyed relationships with industrialist dynasties and political patronage had been central to the trade-off. “This is an absolute monarchy, which means that leaders can do what they want,” the source said. “People won favors through long-held customs.

“Often they had no idea what they were looking for. It became straight up blackmail in some cases, because some of the detainees were refusing to sign anything. There was no due process. There is no such thing in the Saudi justice system as a plea bargain, but that was what they were trying to enforce.”

Three years on, Prince Mohammad remains insistent that all those stripped of wealth had been guilty of corruption. Saudi officials say up to $107bn (£80bn) was recovered from 87 people and returned to the Saudi treasury. The detentions garnered broad support across parts of Saudi society, where the crown prince remains popular despite three years of damaging headlines, including the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, carried out in Istanbul by a hit squad linked to Prince Mohammad’s former aide.

The sources who spoke to the Guardian said the figure seized was closer to $28bn and claimed the purge came at the price of breaking trust between the monarchy and the Saudi business community.

“This was about consolidating his rule, plain and simple. It came before the Khashoggi atrocity, and the fact that he got away with it allowed him to do the latter. The same guards involved in the Ritz were involved in the killing. History won’t be kind to MBS on either,” one of the sources said.

Warde said: “Anti-corruption initiatives are usually politically motivated. They are often tools for singling out those who were enriched. They provide selective lists of those who were enriched. This was a clear case of the intersection of money and politics in the Islamic world.”

Source: The Guardian

Israel Holds Body of Cancer-Stricken Palestinian Prisoner

Source

Palestinian activists attend a solidarity conference in Gaza protesting the death of prisoner Kamal Abu Wa’ar. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

November 14, 2020

The Israeli occupation authorities decided to hold the body of a Palestinian prisoner who died in jail last week as a result of medical negligence, according to the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs Commission.

Kamal Abu Wa’ar, 46, from Qabatiya in the north of the West Bank, died on Tuesday, prompting Palestinian rights organization to accuse the Israeli authorities of neglecting the health of the prisoners and not providing them with the proper medical treatment.

The prisoners’ commission spokesman Hasan Abed Rabbo told WAFA that the Israeli authorities refused a request by its legal team to turn over Abu Waar’s body to his family for a proper burial and they, therefore, are still holding it.

Abed Rabbo said that Abu Waar is the eighth Palestinian prisoner who died while in jail and whose bodies Israel is still holding.

He called on the Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations to intervene and get Israel to release bodies of dead Palestinian prisoners to be buried by their families.

Israel holds the bodies of Palestinians in order to use them as a bargaining chip in future exchange talks with Palestinian organizations.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Death Penalty: A Tool of Vengeance in Bahrain

Death Penalty: A Tool of Vengeance in Bahrain

By Sondos al-Assad

Lebanon – Since 2017, Bahrain has executed five political prisoners by firing squad instead of launching a political dialogue and national reconciliation that ease the prolonged crisis. The execution of those detainees has been part of a broad repressive trend sweeping the tiny Gulf Kingdom since February 2011.

Meanwhile, there are 12 death row detainees who are on death row, all of them are victims of severe and inhumane treatment, 10 could be executed at any moment, without warning, in case the verdicts were ratified by the monarch.

Those victims of torture have convicted based on confessions that they had retracted in court because they were extracted under pressure and torture.

So, the king’s signature is now all that stands between those victims of torture and their execution.

According to rights groups, Manama pays less and less attention to the question of civil liberties and rights in its attempts to tamp down on peaceful dissents. Hence, the trend of Death Penalty has sharply exacerbated in the recent years amid the absence of censure from Western allies, namely Washington and London, whose priority is security and oil not human rights.

Annually, the UK spends $1.59 million on supporting Bahrain’s Special Investigation Unit [SIU] and the Ombudsman who are accused of violating their international and domestic human rights commitments.

Those so-called oversight bodies have failed to investigate torture allegations against two death row inmates Mohamed Ramadan and Hussain Moussa.

“I’d been taken in handcuffs to village of Al-Deir to act out a murder I didn’t commit… It terrifies me to think there is only one chapter left,” says sentenced to death Hussain Musa.

Besides, the authorities is accused of using the terrorism charge to retaliate against number of conscience activists and social justice seekers, a crime which is deemed to be an extrajudicial killing which results of unfair trials.

Bahrain uses the “Anti-Terrorism Act” as pretext to justify illegal sentences against its peaceful citizens only because they exercise their rights for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, which are guaranteed not only by international covenants but supposedly by the Bahraini constitution.

Amid the absence of fair judicial transparency, perpetrators of human rights violations are not held accountable in a blatant attack against the minimum standards of human rights stipulated in international conventions.

Ali Al-Arab, Ahamd Al-Malali, Abbas Al-Samei, Sami Mushaima and Ali Al-Signace are the 5 inmates who have been sentenced to death so far.

They were arbitrarily executed by firing squads after allegations of their unjust trial, inhumane torture, sexual assault and medical negligence.

Prior to their execution, they met their families; however they hadn’t even known about the visit that was scheduled based on an ambiguous call from the prison’s administration as part of psychological intimidation. Furthermore, while their last visit, their families noticed that the searching measures were specific, exceptional and humiliating.

Currently and before it’s too late, Bahrain must be pressured to immediately commute the death sentences and establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

The king must not ratify but urgently quash these death sentences which are a result of sham court proceedings that brazenly flout international fair trial standards.

Related

Amnesty Urges Saudi To Release Female Activists

Source

By Staff, Agencies

Amnesty Urges Saudi To Release Female Activists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bahrain: A Police State Built on Intimidation and Torture

Source

By Sondos al-Assad

Bahrain: A Police State Built on Intimidation and Torture

Welcome to Bahrain, the cemetery of the living, the home of chambers of death, the kingdom of widespread impunity, police brutality, extrajudicial killings and repression.

Welcome to Bahrain, where the most gruesome arts of torture are heinously and systematically practiced by the security services, including the use of electro-shock devices, forced standing techniques, suspension in painful positions [while handcuffed and exposed to extreme cold or hot temperature], medical negligence, beatings, threats of rape or murder and sexual abuse, etc. in order to inflict permanent suffering on the peaceful prisoners of conscience.

Indeed, little has been done to bring justice to those who perpetrated acts of violence and torture against peaceful demonstrators, despite the BICI’s recommendations to persecute those responsible for torture. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry [BICI] was established, in July 2011, allegedly charged with investigating allegations of human rights abuses in connection with the government’s suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations.

”All persons charged with offences involving political expression, not consisting of advocacy of violence, have their convictions reviewed and sentences commuted or, as the case may be, outstanding charges against them dropped,” the BICI’s report recommended.

The authorities; however, have spared no efforts to investigate and prosecute security personnel and high-ranking officials who have involved in or administrated torture. Those include, for instance, Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Lt. Col. Mubarak Abdullah Bin Huwayl and Lt. Shaika Nura Al Khalifa, who were acquitted on all counts.

Prince Nasser, aka the Torture Prince of Bahrain, is the king’s son of the King, has tortured activists during the 2011 pro-democracy protests. Due to his immunity and the prevailing culture of impunity within the country, he has not been held accountable and continues to receive promotions and rewards rather than being imprisoned.

Bahrain’s security services have repeatedly resorted to torture for the apparent purpose of extracting confessions from human rights activists and political detainees. For instance, Maryam Al-Bardouli, Commander of the Isa Town Prison, has also assaulted many female political prisoners especial Zakia al Barbouri, the only remaining female prisoner of conscience.

Lawyer and legal adviser to SALAM human right organization Ibrahim Serhan recounts the severe torture he was subjected to in 2017, describing how he was stripped naked in front of other inmates as officials threatened to sexually torture him, a crime that frequently takes place during interrogation in Bahrain. This practice continues to take; however, many remain silent as they fear retribution or to be stigmatised.

Activists maintain that the international community and in particular the UK have played a central role in covering up torture in Bahrain. The University of Huddersfield, a UK-backed institution, enjoys a suspected multi-million-pound training contract with Bahrain’s Royal Academy of Policing, a notorious hub of torture

SYRIA CAESAR’S LAW: WHO DOES IT TARGET, AND HOW WILL IT AFFECT PRESIDENT ASSAD?

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

In mid-June, the US sanctions against Syria will escalate, with the enactment of “Caesar’s Law“, sanctions designed to “pursue individuals, groups, companies, and countries that deal with the Damascus government.” This law – purportedly named after a Syrian army officer who smuggled out thousands of photos of torture by the Syrian army in prisons – is designed to prevent companies and countries from opening diplomatic channels with Syria, and to prevent them from contributing to reconstruction, investment, and the provision of spare parts for the energy and aviation sectors in Syria. The sanctions also affect the Syrian central bank, freezing the assets of individuals who deal with Syria and invalidating any visa to America. Who will abide by this law, and what are its consequences for Syria, Lebanon, and the countries that stand beside Syria?

Torture is a common practice in many nations around the world. Syria practised torture (the case of Maher Arar) on behalf of the United States of America and the Bush administration. At least 54 countries (Middle Eastern and African nations but also western countries like Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and more) supported US “extraordinary renditions” in 2001 and secret detentions under President Barack Obama. Washington thus lacks any moral authority to claim opposition to torture as a basis for its policies. Over recent decades the US has become notorious for authorising gruesome forms of torture, stripping people of their most basic rights, and generally violating human rights in defiance of the Geneva convention and above all the 1984 UN convention against torture. James Mitchell, a CIA contract psychiatrist who helped draft and apply “enhanced interrogation techniques“, disclosed several methods approved by the US administration to torture prisoners placed in detention in “black sites” outside the US, illegally but with official authorisation. Images of torture in Abu Ghraib prisons showed the world that the US use of torture and illegal methods of interrogation against detainees in Iraq. 

Thus, US sanctions on Syria cannot plausibly indicate US concern for human values and opposition to the abuse of power. Moreover, the US administration’s adherence to its own Constitution is in grave doubt, given the reaction of the security forces against demonstrators in America in response to widespread racial discrimination and racially motivated police attacks.

These new US sanctions, under the name of Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, can in no way be ascribed to some moral value, but rather to the failure by the US, Israel and several Western and Arab countries to change the regime in Syria, and their refusal to acknowledge defeat. They keep trying, and in this case, imagine that through harsh sanctions against Syria and its allies they can achieve what they have failed to accomplish through many years of war and destruction.

In the 1990s, the US imposed sanctions on Iraq (oil-for-food). Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens died as a result of US sanctions on Iraq without Saddam Hussein’s regime and his entourage being affected. Consequently, we can predict that US sanctions in general primarily affect the population and not the leaders.

The US fails to realize that it is no longer the only superpower in the world, and in the Middle East in particular. Russia has done what many thought was impossible and elbowed its way into the Levant to remain in Syria and confront NATO at the borders. China has followed as a rising economic superpower to make its way into the Middle East, mainly Iraq and Syria. Iran has already a strong presence and powerful allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Palestine. These three countries, along with Syria, are playing a leading role in actively eliminating US hegemony in this part of the world.

In Beirut, the government cannot adopt and abide by “Caesar’s Law” and close its gates to Syria. Lebanon’s only land borders are through Syria since Israel is considered an enemy. Any national economic plan to revitalise the abundant local agriculture sector and export to Syria, Iraq or other countries in the Gulf would fail if “Caesar’s Law” were put into effect. Any regenerated industry or import/export from the Middle Eastern countries must go through the “Syrian gate”. Besides, the current Lebanese government risks falling if it implements the US sanctions. Washington is not providing any financial assistance to the Lebanese economy in crisis and clearly has no intention of offering necessary and immediate help to the crippled Lebanese economy. The US, as has become the norm, seeks to impose sanctions and conditions on the nations it targets but offers little in return to affected countries. In the case of Lebanon, its budget deficit is close to 100 billion dollars following decades of corruption and mismanagement.

The government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab is, theoretically, a technocratic and non-political government. It does not consider the US an enemy but neither is it likely to follow US dictates, since it is close to the “March 8 Alliance” whose strongest members are not US friendly. Hence, the only solution for this government or any future government is to go east towards China, Russia and Iran. America will likely lose in Lebanon, with its “March 14 Alliance” allies rendered voiceless and powerless. 

There is no doubt that the Christian party within the “March 8” political group will be challenged and affected by US sanctions. These have an international relationship to look after and maintain as well as external bank accounts. Regardless, “Caesar’s Law” cannot be implemented in Lebanon, whatever the consequences of its violation.

As for Iran, it has already been subject to “maximum pressure” and harsh sanctions increasing year after year since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, for daring to reject US hegemony. Hence, it has no consideration whatsoever for the US “Caesar’s Law”. Even more, Iran is certainly not unhappy that the US blocked the return and reopening of Gulf countries’ embassies – who dare not disobey the US wishes – in Syria. Gulf companies are no longer in the field as competitors to divide shares in Iran’s reconstruction contracts related to projects in the field of industry, trade and energy. Iran has already challenged US and EU sanctions on Syria by sending oil tankers to Damascus. Also, Tehran sent five tankers to Venezuela, another country suffering from harsh US sanctions. The Gulf and European countries – US’s allies – are thus losing their opportunity to return to Syria, to be involved in its reconstruction and to regain their foothold in the Levant.

As for Russia, it has just signed a deal with the Syrian government to expand its military airport and naval bases in Tartous, Hasaka and Hmeymim. Furthermore, it is supplying Syria with modern military hardware and fulfilling the Syrian army needs to come up to full strength. It supplied Syria with squadrons of the updated MiG-29 fighters this month in a clear message to the US and its “Caesar Act” sanctions.

As for China, it is now in a “cold war” situation over US accusations that Beijing is responsible for the outbreak of COVID-19. The US is seeking to prevent Beijing from doing business with the European market, and particularly to prevent Europe from embracing China’s 5G network and technology. The US administration is also pushing Israel to curtail trade with China and to call off its billion-dollar contracts signed with China to avoid “hurting the relationship with the US”. Moreover, the Iraqi-US relationship took a severe blow when the former Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi signed off on a $20 billion “oil for reconstruction” agreement with China. Thus China, already involved in different projects in Syria, is not likely to abide by “Caesar’s Law”.

As for Syria, it will never accept starvation nor buckle under the US’s economic siege. President Bashar al-Assad is reconstructing the liberated areas under the government forces’ controls. He is rebuilding infrastructure for the Syrian population present in the homeland, excluding the areas abandoned by refugees who fled the country many of whom will not return. The Syrian government is not suffering from the absence of the five to seven million refugees in Idlib, in refugee camps outside the control of the government or in nearby bordering countries. Those refugees are financed and looked after by the international community and the United Nations. This relieves the central government of a considerable financial burden.

Consequently, Syria does not need to reconstruct the refugees’ homes or provide them with oil, electricity, schools, infrastructure and subsidies for as long as Western countries want them to stay outside Syria. The international community wants these refugees to remain away from the central government’s control and is doing everything in its power to prevent their return so as to be able to reject a future Presidential election- where Bashar al-Assad’s victory is guaranteed.

President Assad will work with Iran, Russia and China to secure his needs. Iran has defied US-European sanctions by sending oil tankers to Syria through the Straits of Gibraltar twice. Iran is building drug and medicine factories in Syria, and is also working on other projects that it shares with Russia and China. Syria is heading toward the east, not the west, since that it is the only remaining option left to it. This is the long-awaited dream of the “Axis of Resistance”. Lebanon, Syria and Iraq are looking to Asia to reverse the US-European sanctions against them and their allies in the Middle East. By imposing further unaffordable sanctions on Syria, the US is helping the Levant come out of the US sphere of influence and presence.

Iran, Russia, China and Syria are uniting as allies with an integrated project against US hegemony. There is no place for the domination of one state over another in this gathering of nations because solidarity is required to help Syria, for example, stand as a healthy and reliable country to confront the US. Their strength grows as the weakness of the US becomes more apparent, at a time when President Donald Trump is struggling domestically and his world influence is weakening. Washington is unilaterally imposing sanctions on nations and populations, forcing some allies to follow but also forcing them to consider seriously future possibilities for detaching from this burdensome “umbilical cord.”  

The US “Caesar’s Law” aims to submit and suppress the Syrian nation and people, as Washington has attempted with Iran and Venezuela, so far failing miserably. This policy can no longer be effective because the Russian – Chinese – Iranian alliance has now become important to many countries in the Middle East. The influence of this alliance now extends to the Caribbean Sea. “Caesar’s Law” will turn against its architects: “he who prepared the poison shall end up eating it.”

Proofread by:  Maurice Brasher and  C.G.B.

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INTERNATIONAL COURT APPROVES PROBE OF US WAR CRIMES IN AFGHANISTAN

INTERNATIONAL COURT APPROVES PROBE OF US WAR CRIMES IN AFGHANISTAN

An appellate panel of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled Thursday that an investigation leading to the potential prosecution of US officials for war crimes during Washington’s nearly two-decade-old war in Afghanistan can move forward.

Fatou Bensouda, the court’s Gambian-born chief prosecutor, whose US visa was revoked for her pursuit of the probe, praised Thursday’s ruling, stating, “Today is an important day for the cause of justice in Afghanistan.”

The ruling overturned a decision by ICC pretrial judges last year that a case involving crimes by the US and its puppet regime in Afghanistan “would not serve the interests of justice” because of the abject refusal of Washington and Kabul to cooperate. This decision was taken in the context of US threats of retaliation against the court, including economic sanctions and even the arrest of its members if the investigation was allowed to move forward.

The appeals judges ruled that last year’s decision was in contradiction to the ICC’s own statutes, holding that “It is for the prosecutor to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation.” The appeals judges said that the pretrial panel had no business deciding whether the case served the “interests of justice,” but only whether there were grounds to believe that crimes had been committed and that they fell under the court’s jurisdiction.

The investigation is one of the first to be launched against a major imperialist power by the ICC, whose prosecutions have largely been limited to crimes committed by regimes and leaders in impoverished African countries. A preliminary investigation has also been launched into war crimes carried out by British forces in the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Unlike the US, the UK is a signatory to the agreement establishing the international court.

The ICC’s prosecutors first opened a preliminary probe into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Afghanistan nearly 14 years ago.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to Thursday’s ruling with the bellicose threats that have been the trademark of Washington toward the ICC since its founding by a decision of the United Nations in 2002. Describing the investigation as a “political vendetta” by an “unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body,” the secretary of state vowed that Washington would “take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from this renegade, unlawful so-called court.”

He characterized the ICC appeals judges’ ruling as “reckless” because it was issued after Washington had signed a so-called “peace deal” with the Taliban five days earlier. That agreement has already begun to unravel, with the US military carrying out air strikes against the Taliban after the Islamist movement launched multiple attacks on forces of Afghanistan’s US-backed puppet regime. The unstated assumption in Pompeo’s remarks is that “peace” in Afghanistan can be achieved only based on a cover-up of Washington’s crimes.

Asked whether the Trump administration would retaliate against the court, the secretary of state said that measures would be announced within “a couple of weeks about the path that we’re going to take to ensure that we protect American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our intelligence warriors, the diplomats that have worked for the State Department over the years to ensure that the ICC doesn’t impose… pressure on them in a way that doesn’t reflect the noble nature of the undertakings of every one of those Americans.”

The concern in Washington is not for the troops, but rather that the real authors of the crimes in Afghanistan will someday be held to account: the presidents and their cabinets along with the top generals, the leading politicians of both major parties, the big business interests that supported the war and the media pundits who promoted it.

Pompeo went on to insist, “We have a solid system here in the United States. When there’s wrongdoing by an American, we have a process by which that is redressed.” The character of this “solid system” was made clear last year with Trump’s pardon of convicted war criminals, including two US Army officers convicted and jailed for illegal killings in Afghanistan.

The ICC prosecutor Bensouda requested the investigation of war crimes in 2017, saying there was evidence that US military and intelligence agencies had “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence” against detainees in Afghanistan.

In its ruling Thursday, the ICC Appeals Chamber declared it “appropriate to amend the appealed decision to the effect that the prosecutor is authorized to commence an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, as well as other alleged crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.”

The prosecutor has already indicated that this extension of the investigation involves the “nexus” between the torture centers set up at Bagram Air Base and other US installations in Afghanistan to so-called “black sites” run by the CIA in countries like Poland, Lithuania and Romania. It could as well link to the infamous Abu Ghraib detention and torture facility in Iraq, where US military interrogators were sent after torturing prisoners in Afghanistan. It could also potentially encompass the drone assassinations and massacres of thousands carried out by successive US administrations in neighboring Pakistan.

The war crimes carried out by US imperialism since it invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 are innumerable. They began at the outset with massacres of unarmed detainees, including hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners of war who were asphyxiated and shot to death in sealed metal shipping containers after the siege of Kunduz.

Among the most infamous crimes were those exposed in an investigation into a so-called “Kill Team” formed by a unit of the US Army’s 5th Stryker Brigade sent into Kandahar Province as part of the Obama administration’s 2009–2010 “surge,” which brought the number of troops in Afghanistan to roughly 100,000. As members of the team themselves acknowledged—and documented in grisly photographs—they set out to systematically murder civilians and mutilate their bodies, taking fingers and pieces of skulls as trophies.

They lured one of their victims, a 15-year-old boy named Gul Mudin, toward them before throwing a grenade at him and repeatedly shooting him at close range. After bringing his father to identify the body, they took turns posing and playing with the corpse, before cutting off one of the boy’s fingers. Members of the team also described throwing candy from their Stryker armored vehicle while driving through villages and then shooting children who ran to pick it up.

While the Pentagon sought to pass off these atrocities as the work of a few “bad apples,” the killings were known to their commanders and other units that participated in similar acts. They were the product of a criminal colonial occupation in which troops were taught to regard the entire civilian population as potential enemies and less than human.

The number of Afghans killed in the conflict is estimated at over 175,000, with many more indirect victims of the war’s destruction. Nearly 2,400 US troops have been killed, along with tens of thousands more wounded. US crimes include indiscriminate air strikes that wiped out wedding parties, village meetings and hospital patients and staff.

Among the most extensive exposures of US war crimes were those contained in the so-called “Afghan War Diaries,” some 91,000 documents given by the courageous US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to WikiLeaks in 2010. In retaliation, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now imprisoned in the UK facing extradition to the US on Espionage Act charges that carry a 175-year prison sentence, or worse. For her part, Manning is being held in indefinite detention in a US federal detention center in Virginia for refusing to testify against Assange.

Washington’s virulent hostility to any international investigation into its crimes was clear as soon as the ICC was founded in 2002. The Bush administration repudiated it from the outset, and the US Congress followed suit through its passage by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of a law protecting all US personnel from “criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not a party.” The same year, Bush issued a memorandum declaring that the US would not be bound by the Geneva Conventions in its war in Afghanistan.

US officials have sardonically referred to the anti-ICC law passed by Congress as the “Hague Invasion Authorization Act,” as it provides for the use of military force to free any US citizens facing charges before the ICC, which sits in The Hague, Netherlands.

The US reaction to the ICC’s Afghanistan investigation is an explicit repudiation of international law and the abandonment of any pretense that Washington is guided by anything other than the predatory interests of US imperialism. On this, the Trump administration and its ostensible opponents in the Democratic Party are agreed. Their unconditional defense of the war crimes carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere is a warning to the working class that far greater crimes are being prepared as US imperialism prepares for “great power” conflicts.


By Bill Van Auken
Source: World Socialist Web Site

MUSLIMS ARE BEING MURDERED IN INDIA. THIS IS THE TRUE NARENDRA MODI

Source

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On 9 to 10 November 1938 the German government encouraged its supporters to burn down synagogues and smash up Jewish homes, shops, businesses, schools. At least 91 Jews – and probably many more – were killed by Nazi supporters egged on by Joseph Goebbels, the minister for public enlightenment and propaganda, in what became known as Kristallnacht – “the Night of Broken Glass”. It was a decisive staging post on the road to mass genocide.

On 23 February 2020 in Delhi, Hindu nationalist mobs roamed the streets burning and looting mosques together with Muslim homes, shops and businesses. They killed or burned alive Muslims who could not escape and the victims were largely unprotected by the police. At least 37 people, almost all Muslims, were killed and many others beaten half to death: a two-year-old baby was stripped by a gang to see if he was circumcised – as Muslims usually are, but Hindus are not. Some Muslim women pretended to be Hindus in order to escape.

Government complicity was not as direct as in Germany 82 years earlier, but activists of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, were reported as being in the forefront of the attacks on Muslims. A video was published showing Muslim men, covered in blood from beatings, being forced to lie on the ground by police officers and compelled to sing patriotic songs. Modi said nothing for several days and then made a vague appeal for “peace and brotherhood”.

The government’s real attitude towards the violence was shown when it instantly transferred a judge critical of its actions during the riots. Judge Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court was hearing petitions about the violence when he said that the court could not allow “another 1984” to happen, referring to the killing of 3,000 Sikhs by mobs in Delhi in that year after the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. He said the government should provide shelter for those who had been forced to flee and questioned if the police were properly recording victims’ complaints.

The government says that Judge Muralidhar’s transfer had already been announced and claims that its speedy implementation of the move had nothing to do with his remarks.

Accusations of fascist behaviour by present day political leaders and their governments, similar to that of fascist regimes in Germany, Italy and Spain in the 1930s and 1940s, should not be made lightly. Such comparisons have been frequently levelled in recent years against nationalist, authoritarian populists from the US and the Philippines to Poland to Brazil. Often the allegation is believed by the accuser and, at other times, it is simply a term of abuse. Yet Modi and the BJP appear closer than other right-wing regimes to traditional fascism in their extreme nationalism and readiness to use violence. At the centre of their agenda is their brand of Hindu nationalism and a relentless bid to marginalise or evict India’s 200 million Muslims.

The rest of the world has been slow to grasp the gravity of what is happening in India because the Modi government has played down its project to shift India away from its previous status as a pluralistic secular state. The sheer number of people negatively affected by this change is gigantic: if the Muslim minority in India was a separate country then it would be eighth largest state in the world by population.

The violence in Delhi this week stems from the fear and hatred generated by the government-directed pincer movement against Muslims in India. One pincer is in the shape of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), under which non-Muslim migrants can swiftly gain Indian citizenship but Muslims cannot. Even more threatening is the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is likely to deprive many Indian Muslims of their citizenship. It was the non-violent protests and demonstrations opposing these measures that provoked the Hindu nationalist mobs into staging what was close to a pogrom earlier this week.

Just how far Modi and the BJP will go in their anti-Muslim campaign is already in evidence in Jammu and Kashmir, the one Indian state with a Muslim majority. It was summarily stripped of its autonomy last August and has been locked down ever since. Mass detentions and torture are the norm according to the few witnesses able to report what they have seen.

For 150 days after the government revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, the internet was cut off and it has only been restored to a very limited degree since January. The security forces detain who they want and distraught family members complain that they cannot find their relatives or that they are too poor to visit them in prisons that may be 800 miles away.

The isolation of Kashmir has largely worked from the government point of view in sealing it off from the outside world. But would it make much difference if events there were better known? The burnings and killings in Delhi this week are well publicised, but regarded with a certain tolerance internationally: Modi can trade off India’s reputation as a ramshackle democracy and a feeling that “communal violence” is traditional in India, like hurricanes in Florida or earthquakes in Japan, and nobody is really to blame.

There has been an encouraging, though fiercely repressed, wave of opposition in India to the degradation of its non-sectarian traditions. The danger here – and the mobs in Delhi may be a sign of this – is that Modi and his government will respond to these protests by playing the Hindu nationalist card even more strongly.

Dealing with foreign criticism, the government may say that, regardless of its domestic political programme, it is supercharging economic growth and this excuses its other failings. Authoritarian regimes, with control over most of their own media, often make such claims and, when economic statistics show the opposite, they simply fake a new set of figures. A recent study of the Indian economy noted that, while overall economic growth had supposedly risen strongly, the growth in investment, profits, tax revenues, imports, exports, industrial output and credit had all weakened in recent years.

In one respect, Modi is in a stronger position than Germany after Kristallnacht. President Roosevelt responded with a statement denouncing antisemitism and violence in Germany and promptly withdrew the US ambassador. President Trump, on a two-day visit to India at a time that Muslims were being hunted down and killed a few miles from where he was sitting, said he was satisfied that Modi was working “really hard” to establish religious freedom.


By Patrick Cockburn
Source: The Independent

عميلٌ يهدّد وطناً

شوقي عواضة

منذ أن تمّ توقيف العميل عامر فاخوري (جزار الخيام) في أيلول من العام الماضي وواشنطن لم تنكفئ عن ممارسة ضغوطها لإطلاق سراحه وهو المتهم بالتعامل مع العدو «الإسرائيلي» والمتورّط في اعتقال وتعذيب المئات من المعتقلين في سجن الخيام وقتل وإخفاء العديد من الأسرى الذين ما زال مصيرهم مجهولاً حتى اليوم. سيناريو التدخل الأميركي السافر في قضية جزار الخيام بدأ من اليوم الأول لتوقيفه. ففي التاسع عشر من أيلول من العام الماضي وعلى مرأى من الأسرى وجميع من كانوا أمام المحكمة العسكرية حضرت ثلاث سيارات تحمل أرقام السفارة الأميركية إلى المحكمة العسكرية إضافة إلى حضور محام أميركي يتولى الدفاع عنه. لتتصاعد الضغوطات الأميركية بعدها من خلال إرسال المزيد من الموفدين للمطالبة بالإفراج عن العميل الفاخوري. ولم تكتف واشطن بذلك بل أوفدت ديبلوماسياً أميركياً يحمل الجنسية (الإسرائيلية) إلى سفارتها في بيروت ليشكل غرفة عمليات لمتابعة قضية جزار الخيام. أمر استدعى قطع الشكّ باليقين حول أهمية هذا العميل ومدى خطورته مما يجعلنا نتساءل لماذا كلّ هذا الاهتمام والمطالبة الأميركية على أعلى المستويات بهذا العميل؟

ولماذا كلّ هذا التخوّف الأميركي من سوقه إلى التحقيق وتقديمه للمحاكمة بتهمة التعامل مع الكيان الصهيوني؟ ولماذا ولماذا…؟ أسئلة نستنتج منها أنّ التهمة الموجهة للعميل الفاخوري بالتعامل مع العدو واعتقال مواطنين لبنانيين وتعذيبهم هي قضية لم تقلق الأميركيين، إنما ما يقلقهم هو انزلاق العميل الفاخوري في التحقيق بالاعتراف عن المهمات الجديدة التي أوكلت إليه بعد عودته إلى لبنان واستقباله استقبال (الأبطال) ولقائه ببعض المسؤولين الذين أنكروا معرفتهم به.

إذن هناك جريمة أكبر وأخطر يخفيها طفل واشنطن المدلّل وهي جريمة ربما تكون أكبر من قضية العمالة واعتقال أسرى وتعذيبهم، وما يؤكد ذلك تصعيد وتيرة التهديدات الأميركية للبنان فمنذ توقيف العميل الأغلى ثمناً عند ترامب نشطت الاتصالات الأميركية مع لبنان والتي تولاها وزير الخارجية الأميركي مايك بومبيو شخصياً حيث أجرى اتصالاته بعدد كبير من المسؤولين اللبنانيين بهدف الإفراج عن الفاخوري بأية وسيلة وإلا فإنّ عملية توقيفه ستؤدّي إلى مشكلة كبيرة بين الإدارة الأميركية ولبنان، ليعيد الكرة بعده وكيل وزارة الخارجية ديفيد هيل خلال زيارته للبنان العام الماضي مطالباً بالعفو عن العميل فاخوري وإطلاق سراحه. تهديدات ديبلوماسية لن يكون آخرها تهديد السيناتور عن الحزب الديمقراطي جين شاهين التي هدّدت لبنان بعقوبات قريبة في حال لم يتمّ الإفراج عن العميل الفاخوري، إضافة إلى تهديدها للحكومة اللبنانية مع وعيدها بمعاقبة من تسبّب بتوقيفه، تهديدات وضغوطات أميركية جوبهت برفض لبناني للانصياع للبيت الأبيض الذي لم ييأس من محاولاته بل حوّل قضية العميل الفاخوري إلى معركة يريد ترامب استغلالها انتخابياً لا سيما أنّ العميل الفاخوري يحمل الجنسية (الإسرائيلية) لذا فإنّ اهتمام ترامب شخصياً بالإفراج عن جزار الخيام وعدم السماح باستمرار توقيفه في لبنان بأيّ ثمن أمر يحمل بعدين… الأول انتخابي والبعد الثاني فهو أمني وهنا تكمن خطورة العميل عامر الفاخوري وما يخبّئ من معلومات ومهمات غير تلك الجرائم الموصوفة والتي تمّ توقيفه بسببها والتي لم يكشف عنها بسبب عدم التوسّع بالتحقيق معه بحجة (مرضه).

ومع استمرار الضغوط والتهديدات بقي الموقف اللبناني ثابتاً وصامداً بانتظار ما سيصدر عن القضاء في الأيام المقبلة، أما الموقف الأميركي فسيتصاعد اتجاه لبنان سواء تمّ الإفراج عن هذا العميل أو تمّت محاكمته ستستمرّ إدارة ترامب بحصارها للبنان وستزيد واشنطن عدد الأسماء على لائحتها السوداء ليس حباً بفاخوري بالرغم من خطورته وإخلاصه لأسياده بل لأنّ أميركا خرجت بنفسها لتقود المعركة ضدّ المقاومة في لبنان بعدما عجز الجميع عن النيل منها أو القضاء عليها، وما كلام السفيرة الأميركية خلال زيارة رئيس مجلس الشورى الإيراني علي لاريجاني للبنان وتحذيرها من قبول لبنان أية مساعدات إيرانية إضافة إلى إعادة تأكيدها على الإفراج عن العميل الفاخوري سوى تأكيد على الإصرار باستهداف لبنان بسيادته ومقاومته. إذن هي معركة كرامة ووجود للبنان وليس المقاومة فحسب، فكما خضنا معركة الكرامة وتحرير الأسير الشهيد سمير القنطار ورفاقه وانتصرنا سنواجه اليوم الشيطان الذي يريد أن يمسّ سيادتنا ومقاومتنا، وعلى قدر ما نكون ثابتين وصامدين سنخرج منتصرين.

*كاتب وإعلامي

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The Cave, Lying Sadists, and Rabid Dogs of War

February 10, 2020 Miri Wood

“The Cave” is what the people of East Ghouta call the underground prison cells and headquarters of the Syrian opposition of ‘Moderate Terrorists’ Faylaq Rahman.

The Cave was a massive underground headquarters

The Cave ( الكهف )was an underground prison discovered by the Syrian Arab Army after the liberation of East Ghouta from NATO supported al Qaeda — specifically the ‘Faylaq Rahman‘ sect of the malignant sociopaths. As previously with Aleppo, prior to the liberation of East Ghouta the rabid western dogs of war howled to protect the criminally insane occupiers, barked about humanitarian catastrophe, and then promptly became irrevocable amnesiacs (the same madness is currently yelped about the last terrorists of Idlib, who will also soon be permanently forgotten).

“The discovery [of The Cave] was in the town of Zamalka in East Ghouta, the town was cleaned from terrorists by the SAA end of last month March after the main defense trenches and fortifications of the terrorist group collapsed by the swift, surprise and forceful SAA attack from the east.

“Following video clip by SANA shows the former building used by the terrorist group as their main command center and under it was a vast network of tunnels and underground prisons where they detained the kidnapped residents of East Ghouta and tortured them.”

The filthy scum sadists behind the scenes — that apocryphal, nebulous, gang known as deep stateMilitary Industrial Complex, financier global oligarchy – has turned The Cave into another in a long series of never-ending fraudementaries against the Syrian Arab Republic. Such an Orwellian inversion of reality is possible due to the pandemic success of Operation Mockingbird and NATO war whores hijacking virtually all major media.

Hollywood has been primarily a 5th column operation since not long after the talkies began; NATO stenographers have taken to utilizing its techniques of enchantment to brainwash huge segments of the population into alignment with demons and criminal liars.

The sanctimonious inner Hollywood elite nominated two fetid anti-Syrian dramatization of the news high gloss propaganda videos for tonight’s Oscars, and NATO orchestrated MSM and faux liberal media have been breathlessly reporting on the two nominees. For Sama is one of the most manipulative operations; some descriptions of it have attempted to feminize war crimes and war prop as to border on salacious pornification.

If Rep. Waltz wanted to ‘capture the female experience of war’ [creepy, to say the least], why did he show no interest in the Syrian women who were kidnapped by FSA & al Jazeera?
The UK ad was even pervier, in addition to breaching the UN Charter which prohibits a member state from pimping propaganda against another member state.

NATO media, NATO diplomats, and NATO politicians continue to pretend they do not know of the friendship of Sama’s father with the savages who kidnapped 12 year old Abdullah Issa from a hospital, and tormented him before cutting off his head with a kitchen knife, which they videoed and proudly uploaded to the internet.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hamza-c-child-beheader2.jpg
Abdullah Issa, 12 year old Syrian-Palestinian, kidnapped from hospital, moments before his heinous beheading with a kitchen knife.
omran
afp

The criminal hijacking of The Cave, though, remains one of the most sadistically cynical propaganda operations, to date, and so we shall expose the lies of the criminal liars, quickly.

The fraudumentary was shamelessly produced by National Geographic. The attempted final solution against Syria has been a financial boon to all things in need of economic transfusion. NGO’s receive tax exemption status in return for puking up lies created by the State Department, lies which are then disseminated through the warmongering media. No vetting of facts is required when there is money to be made. One only need to say she is a doctor who hates Syria, to be taken at her word; one only need to say he was tortured, and hates Syria, to be taken at his word.

the cave
All things corrupt consider themselves entitled to a taste of Syrian blood.

The front men for the Hollywood movie propaganda are an alleged torture victim cum propaganda director, and an alleged physician cum stay-at-home wife. Neither lives in Syria. Both had massive complaints to the Los Angeles Times on the travesty involving their difficulties in being granted temporary visas to attend tonight’s awards.

The two propagandist story-tellers whined about the ‘Trump travel ban.’

Feras Fayyad is the ‘director’ of the stolen, lying version of The Cave. He lives in Copenhagen and wailed about jet lag, and not enough time to pimp the fraudumentary among the voters. ‘Doctor’ Amani Ballour — who lives in Turkey where she does not practice medicine, since the liberation of East Ghouta was made to feel bad that Geographic and SAMS had to intervene to help her get her visa.

Fayyad is so barely literate in English, that most media have to do re-writes when they interview him.

Like all the others claiming massive, 37,000 hours daily, for 67 years torture status, Pretty Boy Fayyad shows no signs of it. He is fully mobile, maintains full symmetry, has a fabulous head of hair, and his pretty face is unscathed — though the Times reported some scars on his lips (hot coffee? Putting in the wrong end of a lit cigarette?).

Someone surely flunked Torture 101.
How he ‘directed’ ‘The Cave’ fabrication remains a mystery, as he wasn’t there.

The Times interview/report is almost incomprehensible. Ballour — who ‘fled’ — is quoting saying, “A lot of doctors fled, and I don’t understand that.”

The Times incoherently writes that “Ballour began working at the Cave in 2013, shortly after completing general medical studies at the University of Damascus. She was in the midst of her pediatric residency when the war began but abandoned her studies to focus on the hidden hospital,” despite the fact that graduating medical school does not include licensure, and no one out of med school is equipped to run a hospital.

Given that this journal went through the standard litany of lies about hospitals that do not exist, being consistently bombed, in Syria — while never mentioning the actual hospitals that have been bombed, one into dust — the inference is disquieting.

Despite being barely verbal in English, the tired, fake tortured has been provided with a list of appropriate mood-enhancing trigger words for the Mockingbird public: [fake] feminism, [fake] sexism, [fake] chemical attacks.

Fayyad lied that Ballour was the first female manager of a hospital in Syria — unless he meant the first fake female manager of a fake hospital.

The Oscar nominee fabricator probably does not know that Syria’s Vice President is a woman and that President al Assad’s Chief Advisor is a woman, and that both Vice President Najah al Attar and Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban hold doctorate degrees.

This is Dr. Rana Omran. She is the Director of Ophthalmology Hospital in the Ibn al Nafis Medical Complex in Damascus.

Dr. Omran led her hospital’s surgical team in its first artificial corneal transplant in 2018. The surgery was successful and full sight was returned to her patient.

The trailer for the sadistically stolen The Cave should not be ‘inspirational’ to those who are not lunatics. What sane persons want unlicensed, fake hospitals being illegally run by unlicensed ‘surgeons’ in their own cities, states, countries?

Who is this man? Could anyone imagine this as being humorous?

Is this a sadistic joke, or is this an unlicensed Mengele?

The sadistic theft is extended to hijacking something from Syria News:

What fantastic coincidence that the trailer for The Cave just happens to include Beethoven in the illicit operating room, conducted by Japan’s Maestro Yutaka Sado!

Upon Syria’s announcement of the liberation of eastern Aleppo, 14 December 2016, Syria News posted a short congratulation titled Ode to Joy: Syrians Celebrate the Liberation of Aleppo. It included a video clip of the street celebrations, several photographs, the simple words, Aleppo, Syria’s second capital, has been liberated. Syria, Mother of Civilization, Beethoven applauds you. Schiller applauds you. Humanity applauds you. It also contained the full video of Maestro Sado conducting 10,000 singing the 4th Movement of the 9th Symphony.

We have some very good news: Hollywood may have taken a hiatus from acting as NATO’s Public Relations firm. American Factory took the Oscar.

The interlopers inspired by The Cave of al Qaeda terrorists to fabricate another demonization of Syria, based on the real suffering of those forced to endure it, have not been rewarded, this time.

Syrian Artists Bring Sublime Light to Terrorist Tunnels

syrian-artists-tunnel

President & First Lady Visit Newly Illuminated Death Tunnel

Lebanon: Military Investigative Sentences Collaborator with Zionist Enemy Amer Fakhoury to Death

February 4, 2020

Criminal Amer al-FakhouryIsraeli Wars On LebanonLahad militiaLebanon’s National ResistanceTerrorismTortureZionist entity

Military Investigative Judge, Najat Abu Chakra, has issued an indictment against Israeli enemy collaborator Amer Fakhoury, and accused him of murder, attempted murder, torture and abduction of inmates in the former Khiam detention center, National News Agency correspondent reported on Tuesday.

If found guilty as charged, Fakhoury could face death penalty. His dossier has been referred to the Permanent Military Court.

Source: NNA

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