Michael Brown smeared in United States media


This video from Ferguson, Missori in the USA is about Michael Brown having his hands up when police officer Darren Wilson killed him, as witnesses confirm.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

US media campaign to exonerate cop who killed Michael Brown

23 October 2014

On Wednesday, the Washington Post and St. Louis Post-Dispatch joined the ongoing media campaign to vilify Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager gunned down by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9.

The media reports are part of a coordinated campaign to prepare the public for the possibility that a grand jury will fail to charge the officer, Darren Wilson. The grand jury is expected to decide whether to charge Wilson early next month.

On Wednesday morning the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published what it claimed to be “the most detailed account of Wilson’s version of the Aug. 9 event to be made public,” in an article entitled: “Source: Darren Wilson says Michael Brown kept charging at him.”

The publication of Wilson’s account was coordinated with the release by the newspaper of the St. Louis medical examiner’s autopsy of Brown, which had been provided to the newspaper by an unnamed source.

The Post-Dispatch sought to present the autopsy report as confirming Wilson’s version of events, claiming that a grazed bullet wound on Brown’s hand indicated that the young man was reaching for Wilson’s gun. It quoted Judy Melinek, a former medical examiner, saying that the autopsy definitively supports claims that Brown was shot at least once at close range and had reached for Wilson’s gun. She told the Post-Dispatch, “If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.”

This interpretation is entirely speculative and groundless. Witnesses have said that Wilson attempted to choke Brown through the window of his car, and that he was attempting to get free when Wilson shot him the first time. If the circumstances described by witnesses is true, it is not at all implausible for Brown’s hand to have been near Wilson’s gun when it went off.

Melinek is not an impartial expert. In an August 20 column on CNN.com, months before she saw the official autopsy, Melinek sought to cast doubt on witnesses’ accounts that Brown was surrendering when he was killed. She also sought to discredit the second autopsy performed by former New York City medical examiner Michael Baden, claiming that “releasing preliminary information when the investigation is still ongoing is premature and potentially inflammatory.”

In fact, the report does not even unambiguously indicate that Brown was shot in the hand at close range. The report notes the absence of powder burns around the edge of the gunshot wound, which would be expected if the wound had in fact been inflicted within the car.

The real story revealed in the autopsy is one of a young man who was apparently brutalized and then shot multiple times by a police officer. The autopsy shows two gunshot wounds to the head, including one to the crown of the head in a downward direction and another to the forehead, also aimed downward. That is in addition to multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and arms, as well as abrasions on the face.

The autopsy report should in any case be treated with a high degree of skepticism, as the police had hours to tamper with the scene before the medical examiner even arrived. The medical examiner was only contacted an hour and a half after the shooting, and by the time he arrived “the deceased was cool to the touch,” and “rigor mortis was slightly felt in his extremities,” according to the autopsy.

Brown’s lawyers pointed out that what happened inside Wilson’s police vehicle had no bearing on Wilson’s decision to shoot Brown as he was running away. “We are not surprised by the information leaked last night by the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s office,” said Benjamin Crump, the lead attorney for the family, in an email to the World Socialist Web Site. “Several independent witnesses indicated there was a brief altercation between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson at the patrol car.”

He concluded, “What we want to know is why Officer Wilson shot Michael Brown multiple times and killed him even though he was more than 20 feet away from his patrol car; this is the crux of the matter!”

“Keep in mind there are two separate and distinct events occurring on this day: one at the vehicle, the other one, outside of the vehicle,” said Anthony D. Gray, a lawyer for the family of Michael Brown, also in an email to the WSWS. According to the account allegedly given by Wilson to the grand jury, Brown, after having been shot twice, began to run away from the police car, then turned around and “began running toward” the officer, was shot twice more, then resumed charging at Wilson.

Mr. Gray called this version of events “absurd.” He added, “That version of events is not supported by anyone that witnessed this shooting.” Wilson “can’t concur with what the majority of the witnesses saw outside of the vehicle because if he does, he would be confessing to cold-blooded murder.”

While none of the witnesses who have spoken to the press agreed with Wilson’s claims, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, based on unnamed sources, that unnamed individuals have testified before the grand jury backing up Wilson’s account of the shooting. “Seven or eight African American eyewitnesses have provided testimony consistent with Wilson’s account, but none of them have spoken publicly out of fear for their safety, The Washington Post’s sources said.”

Here, again, nothing can be taken at face value. In all likelihood the Post’s sources for the grand jury proceeding are elements within the state that have a vested interest in seeing Wilson go free. Instead of treating the sources with requisite skepticism, the Post and other newspapers are taking these unnamed sources entirely at their word and passing on their claims to the public as good coin.

The Washington Post and St. Louis Post-Dispatch did not reply to voicemails requesting more information on what level of fact-checking had been conducted on their sources’ claims.

Wednesday’s leaks follow the publication of an article Friday by the New York Times, based on unnamed sources in the federal government, claiming that evidence presented to the grand jury pointed to Wilson’s innocence. The Times also indicated that the federal government is not planning on filing civil rights charges against Wilson.

The coordinated leaks, presented uncritically by major newspapers and used as the basis for sweeping and groundless claims, are made possible by the decision of St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch to present evidence in the shooting before a grand jury.

The decision to even go before a grand jury is entirely voluntary on the part of McCulloch. Those suspected of murder in Missouri usually have a hearing where evidence is reviewed by a judge who decides whether there is a basis to proceed with a prosecution.

McCulloch has a record of using grand jury proceedings. Despite more than a dozen police killings in St. Louis County since he became prosecutor, McCulloch has never filed criminal charges against any of the officers. He did present four such cases to a grand jury, but he obtained no indictments.

Contrary to the usual procedure, McCulloch has not made any recommendation to the grand jury as to whether to indict Wilson. Instead, he is presenting a voluminous amount of evidence to the grand jury, including testimony by Wilson himself, in an unusually long procedure.

By using this method, McCulloch is creating the illusion of a fair procedure, while in fact stacking the deck in favor of Wilson. The entire proceeding is being kept secret. At the same time, this procedure allows state authorities to selectively leak information to the press that will be favorable to Wilson’s case.

In this charade, the press—including the Washington Post, New York Times, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch—is functioning as a pliant tool of the state in order to condition public opinion for what is looking increasingly likely: the failure to bring charges against the killer of Michael Brown.

US military torture in Iraq, Afghanistan on photos


This video is called Iraq – Torture and prisoner abuse by American soldiers.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US judge sets deadline in lawsuit over Iraq, Afghanistan torture photos

23 October 2014

The Obama administration is fighting a bitter rearguard action against the release of further damning evidence that the US military engaged in the torture of prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most recent development came Tuesday in a brief hearing before US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Washington DC, part of a long-running Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and several journalists seeking the release of 2,100 photographs depicting the torture of people detained by the US military.

The pictures are said to be more disturbing than those released in 2004 showing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, which caused worldwide revulsion against the US occupation regime in Iraq.

The photographs were taken by individual soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly between 2003 and 2006, for their own use and to exchange with fellow soldiers as trophies or memorabilia of their wartime activities. They were confiscated in the course of more than 200 internal investigations into charges of mistreatment and abuse of prisoners, all of which have been closed without charges being brought.

The US Army released descriptions of the photos to the ACLU plaintiffs, and even these brief captions make for chilling reading. They include soldiers pointing guns at the heads of detainees who are hooded and bound, soldiers beating detainees with their fists or objects, soldiers posing with groups of bound and restrained prisoners, soldiers posing with corpses, and, in at least one case, a female soldier pointing a broomstick at the rectum of a hooded detainee.

The Pentagon reportedly catalogued the 2,100 images in May 2009, dividing them into three categories according to the degree of political damage their release would cause. The categories were described as follows:

* Category A: Will require explanation; egregious, iconic, dramatic

* Category B: Likely to require explanation; injury or humiliation

* Category C: May require explanation; injury without context

The proceedings before Judge Hellerstein are the result of a protracted political and legal conflict going back to 2009, when President Obama released a few legal memorandums justifying torture that were written by the Bush Justice Department, and initially agreed to release the photographs as well.

After a month of intense lobbying by the military brass and former Bush administration officials, Obama reversed himself and withheld the photos, claiming, “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

The administration appealed to the Supreme Court against a lower court order to release the photographs and prevailed on Congress to pass legislation giving the secretary of defense the authority to suppress such photographs for a three-year period (renewable indefinitely) by certifying that they would endanger US national security. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued that certification in November 2009, and his successor, Leon Panetta, did the same in November 2012.

The plaintiffs challenged the 2012 certification on a new ground, because Panetta had simply issued a half-page statement declaring all the photographs off-limits. Under the terms of the law, they argued, the Pentagon had to give specific reasons for withholding each photograph.

Last August, Judge Hellerstein agreed and issued an order for the administration to release the material in redacted form—that is, showing the victims but with the faces of the torturers obscured—or give specific reasons why each photograph should be kept secret.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the judge set a deadline of December 12 for the Justice Department to release the photographs or provide the explanations. He also set the date for a subsequent hearing, January 23, 2015, where the plaintiffs will be able to challenge the withholding of any photographs.

The case before Judge Hellerstein is only one of at least four different legal and political venues in which the Obama administration is engaged in an all-out defense and cover-up for American government personnel, both CIA and military, who engaged in the torture of prisoners.

The White House, Justice Department and CIA have been stalling for months the release of a massive report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on torture at CIA black sites overseas between 2003 and 2006. The committee voted to declassify the report and release it to the public last April, but Obama assigned the task of vetting the report to the agency that carried out the torture, and the CIA has continuously pushed back the deadline, now set for October 29.

According to a report last week by McClatchy News Service, the report fails to hold any officials of the Bush administration responsible for the torture of prisoners at CIA black sites, limiting its criticism to lower-level CIA personnel.

In another federal district courtroom in Washington, before Judge Gladys Kessler, the Justice Department is fighting an order to release videos of the force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the result of a lawsuit by one of the prisoners, Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

At a hearing last week, Judge Kessler agreed to delay for 30 days her order to release the videos, giving the Obama administration time to file an appeal. (See: Judge delays order to release Guantanamo force-feeding videos).

According to a report Sunday in the New York Times, the Obama administration is now debating how to proceed at an upcoming session of the Committee Against Torture, a United Nations panel set up under the UN Convention Against Torture, which the US government ratified in 1994.

The Bush administration took the position that the torture convention applied only to actions by US personnel committed within the United States, but not to the actions taken overseas, as in war zones or CIA secret prisons. The Obama administration had distanced itself from that interpretation, which was a flagrant assertion of the “right” to torture, but officials were now said to be having second thoughts.

“But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view,” the Times wrote. “It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.”

The author also recommends:

US Supreme Court suppresses torture photos
[2 December 2009]

Anti-female genital mutilation campaigner Efua Dorkenoo, RIP


This video says about itself:

Cutting the rose: female genital mutilation | Efua Dorkenoo | TEDxUCLWomen

In this talk, Efua Dorkenoo, Advocacy Director for Equality Now and a founder of the Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development (FORWARD), a British charity that supports women who have experienced FGM speaks of the current implications of FGM and shares the ongoing efforts dedicated to eliminate this practice.

Event Summary– On December 6th 2013, the first university in the UK to admit men and women on equal merit, University College London (UCL) hosted its first ever TEDxWomen event.

By Hilary Burrage in Britain:

Obituary: Efua Dorkenoo

Thursday 23rd October 2014

Anti-FGM campaigner and writer (1949-2014)

EFUA DORKENOO, who died of cancer in London last Sunday, will be remembered with respect and gratitude for many things, but most of all for her many years of hard-headed and deeply committed campaigning to erase the cruel scourge of female genital mutilation (FGM), which even now blights the lives of — or kills — millions of girls and young women across the globe, year on year.

Striking in both her physical presence and her wider influence, Dorkenoo’s sway and work to stop FGM came to span much of the globe.

In the past year she saw both massively increased concern to address FGM in Britain, and, just a week before she died, the formal launch of the African-led movement, The Girl Generation: Together to End FGM, of which she was programme director.

Born in Ghana, where as a young nursing student she saw at first hand the grim realities of FGM, Dorkenoo then relocated to work in London, becoming an example par excellence of how to combine practical activism, political acumen and solid scholarship to great effect in FGM campaigns.

Dorkenoo understood that none of these elements was likely, alone, to achieve the outcome which she unerringly demanded.

To eradicate FGM, communities, political will and professional skills all need to be aligned, with their own specific briefings, data and messages — so that’s what Dorkenoo, recipient of a master’s degree in public health and an OBE for public service, delivered.

In 1983 Dorkenoo founded Forward, a British women’s health organisation campaigning against FGM. She collaborated for decades with the World Health Organisation and in later years she led FGM programmes for both Equality Now and the international health/development organisation Options.

Dorkenoo’s legacy is already many thousands of girls and women untouched by the looming terror in their communities of FGM.

Those who remain to take forward her life’s work are determined that soon these terrors will reside firmly, only and forever in history.

HILARY BURRAGE

Hilary Burrage is a sociologist, consultant and writer. She is currently writing a book on eradicating FGM in Britain.

Belgian fascist suspect of Brabant massacres


This BBC video says about itself:

Operation Gladio: NATO’s 1985 Brabant Massacres in Belgian Supermarkets

10 July 2014

Friday September 27 [1985]: more or less 20:00 armed robbery and a killing in the Delhaize supermarket on rue de la Graignette in Braine-l’Alleud. Less than $6,000.00 was stolen. Three people were killed, two people wounded.

Friday September 27: more or less 20:30 (only 15 to 25 minutes after the first attack that night) armed robbery and a killing in the Delhaize supermarket on Brusselsesteenweg in Overijse. Less than $25,000.00 was stolen. Five people were killed, one person wounded.

Saturday November 9 more or less 19:30 armed robbery and a killing in the Delhaize supermarket on Parklaan in Aalst. Less than $25,000.00 was stolen. Eight people were killed, a few more people wounded.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

New arrest in Brabant killers case

Wednesday Oct 22, 2014, 21:54 (Update: 22-10-14, 22:12)

In Belgium, possibly a breakthrough has been achieved in the investigation into the Brabant killers gang. Michel Libert (70), the former second in command of the extreme right-wing group Westland New Post (WNP) has been arrested.

Libert and other WNP members worked at the NATO Transmission Centre in Evere near Brussels. The official aim of Westland New Post was to fight Soviet infiltration in NATO. In practice, they perpetrated murders and other crimes in Belgium.

In investigations of the Brabant killers gang, Libert had been interrogated several times as a witness, but had not previously been a suspect.

The Brabant killers committed in 1982, 1983 and 1985 a number of murders and very violent robberies, burglaries and thefts. They caused a total of 28 deaths.

The group WNP was potentially involved in these robberies. That was explained by ex-gangster Eric Lammens [sic; Lammers], who was himself a member of WNP, recently on a Belgian television program.

Libert was arrested Monday in Brussels after a tip from a man from France. …

November next year it will be 30 years after the last robbery, and then the case will be barred. The Justice Department has asked politicians to extend the deadline with ten more years.

Translated from the RTBF (French language TV in Belgium):

Of particular interest to the Brabant killers investigators are orders that Michel Libert would give to his subordinates for the supervision of department stores, driveways and parking lots exits, and exact places of cash registers funds and departments. All this was in the early 80s, so, shortly before the most serious crimes: the 1985 attacks at car parks and shops of the Delhaize group (17 people killed in three months). Michel Libert admitted this to our BBC colleagues in 1992.

Let us recall that the WNP organization consisted mainly of right-wing extremists, including soldiers and gendarmes. New people could only join it by sponsorship by members.

English illegal bird egg collector fined in Bulgaria


This video is called Birds in Bulgaria.

From Wildlife Extra:

English bird egg collector fined £2,000 by Bulgarian court

An English egg collector living in Bulgaria has been given a £2,000 fine and a six month suspended prison sentence by a Bulgarian court for illegally possessing 16 birds’ eggs and three taxidermy specimens.

Jan Frederick Ross, a known and previously convicted egg collector, is believed to have moved to Bulgaria in 2004 from Greater Manchester following a trio of convictions for egg collecting in the UK.

The raid on his home followed a lengthy investigation by the Burgas Police, assisted by The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and the RSPB.

The 16 birds’ eggs found included the egg of a Griffon Vulture, a rare breeding bird in Bulgaria (60 pairs).

Also found were detailed diaries and photographs that indicated Ross’ egg collecting in Bulgaria was much further-reaching than the 16 eggs found. The diaries revealed over a thousand potentially illegally collected bird’s eggs including a number of very rare breeding birds such as a clutch of eggs from the globally endangered Egyptian Vulture (24 pairs in Bulgaria) and three clutches of the Imperial Eagle (24 pairs in Bulgaria). No charges could be brought against Ross for taking of these eggs and the location of them remains unknown.

Dimitar Gradinarov, a Bird Crime Officer for BSPB, said: “We are very grateful for the fantastic response from the police in Burgas and the specialist help from the RSPB who have years of experience dealing with such crimes. We have been working incredibly hard to protect the imperial eagle, Egyptian vulture, griffon vulture and others birds in Bulgaria.

“It was shocking to see just how much damage one man could do to rare breeding birds in our country. We hope that this case will emphasise the importance of tackling wildlife crimes in our country and to remind the Bulgarian authorities [of] the need to have the necessary resources for this work.”

Bahraini torture prince investigated by British police?


This video about London, England is called Bahraini Prince Nasser loses diplomatic immunity over protester torture claims.

By James M. Dorsey, Senior fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore:

Bahrain rattled by UK court’s opening of door to investigation of torture allegations

Posted: 10/21/2014 7:00 am EDT

A failed effort by a public relations company representing Bahrain and a UK law firm acting on behalf of Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the commander of Bahrain’s Royal Guard and head of its National Olympic Committee, to micromanage media coverage of this month’s lifting of the prince’s immunity by a British court reflects mounting unease in the island state and international sporting associations. The court decision opens the door to a British police investigation into whether or not Prince Nasser was involved in the torture of political detainees that could include three former players for the Bahraini national soccer team.

The five-day long effort by UK-based Bell-Yard Communications Ltd and London law firm Schillings was aimed at forcing this writer as well as The Huffington Post to adopt Bahrain’s narrow and partial interpretation of the court decision. That interpretation involved an inaccurate assertion that no investigation into whether or not Prince Nasser had been involved in torture of detainees could emerge from the court decision, that immunity had not been part of the grounds on which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had initially refused to investigate, and that soccer players had not[h]ing to do with the investigation.

The lawyers and PR representatives appeared particularly concerned about the assertion that the investigation could involve soccer players presumably because of the implications that could have for Prince Nasser’s Olympic status as well as that of a relative of his, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and according to the state-run Bahrain News Agency, the prince’s number two at the Bahrain Olympic Committee and the island state’s Supreme Council for Youth and Sport.

The UK High Court lifted Prince Nasser‘s immunity in a case initiated by several Bahrainis who alleged that they were tortured in the aftermath of a popular uprising in Bahrain in 2011 that was brutally squashed by Saudi-backed security forces. The Bahrainis went to court after the CPS had refused to issue an arrest warrant for the prince on the grounds that his status in Bahrain granted him immunity in the UK. The prosecution said further that evidence submitted had been insufficient to justify an investigation. Because Prince Nasser was not a party to the proceedings, he had no opportunity to respond to the allegations in court.

The lawyers and PR representatives sought to have removed any reference in this writer’s article to a potential investigation or that immunity had played a role in the CPS’s thinking despite the fact that the prosecution in a statement to the court agreed to the lifting of Prince Nasser’s immunity in expectation that the Bahraini plaintiffs would submit further evidence. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said after the court hearing that the ruling opened the door to an investigation and that they would be providing additional evidence.

This writer corrected after publication a factual error in the original story. The story originally reported that an investigation had been opened rather than that the court ruling opened the door to an enquiry.

Nonetheless, in attempting to prevent fair and honest reporting, the lawyers and PR agents contradicted themselves. The attempt to force deletions that would have substantially altered the core of the story occurred despite the fact that Bell’s Melanie Riley had provided to this writer the statement of the prosecution to the court.

The prosecution said in the statement that “in the light of the Claimant’s intention to submit further evidence to the police (who are responsible for investigating the allegations), the Crown Prosecution Service has agreed to state to the police its view that immunity should not be a bar to any such investigation on the evidence currently available.”

Bahraini concern that the possible fallout of the court decision could affect not only Prince Nasser but also Sheikh Salman was evident in an email from Ms. Riley assertion that “there is no relevance to the AFC of yesterday’s proceedings.”

Sheikh Salman, according to information submitted to the prosecution, headed a committee established in 2011 by a decree by Prince Nasser to take measures against those guilty of insulting Bahrain and its leadership. Prince Nasser formed the committee after an earlier royal decree had declared a state of emergency. The royal decree allowed the Bahrain military to crackdown on the protests and establish military courts, according to the information provided to the prosecutor.

Sheikh Salman, a former soccer player who also serves as head of the Bahrain Football Association, is running next year in AFC presidential elections, which if he wins would give him an automatic seat on the executive committee of world soccer body FIFA.

The prosecutor was further furnished with a publicly available video clip in which Prince Nasser called for the punishment on television of those including athletes who participated in anti-government demonstrations. More than 150 athletes and sports officials, including the three national soccer players, were arrested or dismissed from their jobs at the time. Many have since been reinstated.

The failed Bahraini effort to micromanage reporting of Prince Nasser’s case, involving insinuations that this writer’s report was defamatory and demands that their unsolicited correspondence to a US publisher not be reported on, reflects greater sensitivity to image and reputation of Gulf states that also include the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, who stand accused of violations of human and labour rights. All three states have been put to varying degrees under the magnifying glass because of their hosting of major events, including the 2022 World Cup, the 2020 World Expo, Formula-1 races and ambitions to host similar events like the Olympic Games as well as their association with prominent educational and cultural institutions such as New York University and the Guggenheim Museum.

The various states have used different strategies to counter allegations of violations of human and labour rights. While Qatar has by and large engaged with its critics, Bahrain and the UAE have sought to prevent negative reporting by barring critical journalists and academics from entering their country.

Qatar, despite its engagement with human rights groups and trade unions, has not been immune to such tactics. Saleem Ali, a former visiting fellow at the Qatar-funded Brookings Doha Center, told The New York Times that he was advised during his job interview that he could not take positions critical of the Qatari government. At the same time, Qatar has sought to win hearts and minds in the United States with the establishment of Al Jazeera America, part of its global television network, and the expansion in the US of its belN sports television franchise.

Qatar’s strategy backfired when Britain’s Channel Four disclosed that the Gulf state had hired Portland Communications founded by Tony Allen, a former adviser to Tony Blair when he was prime minister, to create a soccer blog that wrongly claimed to be “truly independent” and represent “a random bunch of football fans, determined to spark debate,” but in fact served to attack its detractors.

For its part, the UAE has spent lavishly on public relations engaging, according to The Intercept, a US firm to demonize Qatar because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. The UAE is also suspected of supporting a network of Norway and France-based human rights groups that sought to project the Emirates as a champion of human rights despite crackdowns that have involved political trials denounced by international human rights groups and derided Qatar’s record.

Disclosing the UAE’s efforts to shape reporting in the US media, The Intercept noted that “the point here is not that Qatar is innocent of supporting extremists… The point is that this coordinated media attack on Qatar – using highly paid former U.S. officials and their media allies – is simply a weapon used by the Emirates, Israel, the Saudis and others to advance their agendas.”

Bahrain: The verdict on Nabeel Rajab‘s trial expected on October 29: here.

‘Ukrainian government used banned cluster bombs’


This Human Rights Watch video says about itself:

Ukraine: Widespread Use of Cluster Munitions

20 October 2014

Ukrainian government forces used cluster munitions in populated areas in Donetsk city in early October 2014. The use of cluster munitions in populated areas violates the laws of war due to the indiscriminate nature of the weapon and may amount to war crimes.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Ukraine Used Cluster Bombs, Evidence Indicates

By ANDREW ROTH

OCTOBER 20, 2014

DONETSK, Ukraine — The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims.

Sites where rockets fell in the city on Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 showed clear signs that cluster munitions had been fired from the direction of army-held territory, where misfired artillery rockets still containing cluster bomblets were found by villagers in farm fields.

The two attacks wounded at least six people and killed a Swiss employee of the International Red Cross based in Donetsk.

If confirmed, the use of cluster bombs by the pro-Western government could complicate efforts to reunite the country, as residents of the east have grown increasingly bitter over the Ukrainian Army’s tactics to oust pro-Russian rebels.

Further, in a report released late Monday, Human Rights Watch says the rebels have most likely used cluster weapons in the conflict as well, a detail that The New York Times could not independently verify.

The army’s use of cluster munitions, which shower small bomblets around a large area, could also add credibility to Moscow’s version of the conflict, which is that the Ukrainian national government is engaged in a punitive war against its own citizens. The two October strikes occurred nearly a month after President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine signed a cease-fire agreement with rebel representatives.

“It’s pretty clear that cluster munitions are being used indiscriminately in populated areas, particularly in attacks in early October in Donetsk city,” said Mark Hiznay, senior arms researcher at Human Rights Watch, in emailed comments after the report was completed. “The military logic behind these attacks is not apparent, and these attacks should stop, because they put too many civilians at risk.”

Press officers for the Ukrainian military denied that their troops had used cluster weapons during the conflict and said that the rocket strikes against Donetsk in early October should be investigated once it was safe to do so. They also said that rebels in the area had access to powerful rocket systems from Russia that could fire cluster munitions.

However, munition fragments found in and around Donetsk and interviews with witnesses indicate that the cluster munitions that struck Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 were most likely fired by Ukrainian troops stationed southwest of the city, according to Human Rights Watch and a review by The Times. Witnesses there reported seeing rocket launches from those troops’ positions toward the city at times that coincide with the strikes.

Human Rights Watch says in its report that cluster weapons have been used against population centers in eastern Ukraine at least 12 times, including the strikes on Donetsk, during the conflict, and possibly many more. The report said that both sides were probably culpable, in attacks that “may amount to war crimes” in a grinding conflict that has claimed at least 3,700 lives, including those of many civilians.

The report, which included incidents uncovered by The Times, says there is “particularly strong evidence” that Ukrainian government troops carried out the two October attacks against Donetsk.

An August cluster-munitions attack on the village of Starobesheve, which was in Ukrainian Army hands, was probably carried out either by pro-Russian rebels or by Russian troops, the report says.

Beginning in October, a series of strikes against Donetsk using certain cluster weapons fired from Uragan rockets came from the southwest of the city. The timing of at least two rocket launches from the same location corresponded to cluster munition strikes that hit Donetsk from a southwesterly trajectory, according to Human Rights Watch and The Times.

Shelling of cities has been common in the conflict, and the cease-fire agreement has not ended the violence. A chemical plant on the outskirts of Donetsk was struck Monday, and the resulting shock wave shattered windows for miles around.

On the morning of Oct. 5, Boris V. Melikhov, 37, was chopping wood outside his house in the Gladkovka neighborhood of Donetsk when he heard the loud clap of an explosion from the street.

His first sensation was “a strong push in the back,” and he sprawled onto the grass. More explosions followed, showering Mr. Melikhov with dust and dirt. Unable to stand, he crawled toward a spigot in the garden, bleeding profusely and desperate for water.

“I felt the blood running down my back, down my leg,” he recalled in an interview last week from his bed in a hospital, where his uncle took him after the attack. Doctors there found several identical metal fragments in his leg, chest, shoulder and hand.

Hundreds of such fragments, each about the size of a thumbtack, were sprayed out by at least 11 cluster bomblets that exploded on Mr. Melikhov’s street that morning. The 9N210 bomblets are carried in surface-to-surface Uragan (Hurricane) rockets that are fired from the backs of trucks and have a range of roughly 22 miles.

Part of one of the rockets smashed into a street a few blocks away, and the impact crater indicated it had come from the southwest.

The same morning, sunflower farmers near Novomikhailovka, a small village about 20 miles southwest of Mr. Melikhov’s house, saw rockets sailing almost directly overhead toward Donetsk. Local people said in interviews that the army had been launching Uragan rockets from there for more than a week.

“Trust me, when it is day after day after day, you get to know your Grad launches from your Uragan launches,” said one farmer, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution for discussing Ukrainian military positions. Grads are another kind of rocket used by both sides.

Villagers said they had also seen rockets with cluster bomblets up close. They said several of the rockets misfired on Oct. 3 and landed in the sunflower fields south of the village with their payloads intact.

A reporter photographed three malfunctioned rockets there, and two of them contained submunitions like those that injured Mr. Melikhov. The same type of weapon struck the Donetsk headquarters of the Red Cross on Oct. 2 in an attack that killed an administrator, Laurent DuPasquier, 38.

Uragan rockets can carry 30 of the submunitions, which look like metal cans with fins. Those bomblets in turn hold small pieces of chopped steel rod. The rocket releases the bomblets over a wide area, and the bomblets either explode on impact, flinging out lethal steel fragments, or land unexploded and effectively become land mines. Children often mistake them for toys.

At the Red Cross headquarters in Donetsk, Human Rights Watch researchers accompanied by a Times reporter documented 19 distinct impacts of cluster submunitions from the Oct. 2 attack. Judging by impact craters from rockets fired in the same salvo, the researchers said, the strike came from the southwest.

A witness to the Oct. 2 launch in Novomikhailovka told the reporter about the malfunctioning rockets in the fields. Other witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch on the evening of Oct. 2 confirmed that rockets had been fired from just south of the village toward Donetsk.

An advocacy group called the Cluster Munitions Coalition has been pressing Ukraine to join the international convention banning the stockpiling or use of the weapons. (Russia and the United States have not joined it, either.) The group’s director, Sarah Blakemore, wrote to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in July after images were published appearing to show the use of cluster munitions against rebel positions in the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

She said in a telephone interview that she had received no reply. “When I say they neither confirmed or denied, I mean they really just did not do anything,” Ms. Blakemore said.

More than a month after heavy fighting in the village of Ilovaysk, rebel soldiers continued going door to door last week, searching for unexploded shells and bomblets. At Tatyana Lashunova’s house, they found a Smerch (Tornado) rocket lodged in the shed where she keeps her preserves and gardening tools. It was not clear which side had fired the rocket, which can carry conventional warheads or cluster munitions.

Valery, one of the rebels, said his men would fan out and search a nearby field of tall, yellow grass where bomblets from the rocket probably landed.

“We haven’t got a mine detector or any other equipment,” he said. “They’ve promised something soon, but I don’t know whether to expect it.”

In Donetsk, doctors in a city hospital and morgue said they had found cluster-munitions fragments in several patients, including Mr. Melikhov, whose spine was nicked by one on Oct. 5. He was lucky not to have been paralyzed, but the injury made it very painful to sit, stand or lie flat, he said.

“I see it as the senseless destruction of the southeast,” he said of the attack. “There’s something wrong in their head.”

See also here.

Human Rights Watch documents Ukrainian military’s use of cluster rockets: here.