Bahrain human rights news


This video is called Bahraini doctor pleads for help.

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

Nabeel Rajab: Human Rights Defender from Guantanamo to Bahrain

16 Nov 2012

We are attorneys from the United States and the United Kingdom who have known and worked with Nabeel Rajab for many years, having met Nabeel through our representation of men detained at Guantanamo Bay. Nabeel was critical to our work at Guantanamo. Indeed, Nabeel secured family authorizations by which some of us were able to begin representing our clients. Without Nabeel, those individuals might well never have had lawyers. Nabeel also arranged for some of us to come to Bahrain to meet the families of our clients, including clients from Saudi Arabia. He spoke to the media about human rights violations at Guantanamo and engaged in advocacy on behalf of our clients throughout the region.

Continue reading the letter here (PDF)

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) has released, “One Year Later: Assessing Bahrain’s Implementation of the BICI Report,” a report looking into the Bahraini government’s progress in implementing the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry: here.

Free Bahraini human rights activist


A girl holds a poster calling for the release of Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain. Photograph: Ammar Photography/Demotix/Corbis

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Human rights groups call for release of Bahraini activist

Nabeel Rajab has been jailed for three years for organising demonstrations through social networking sites

Richard Norton-Taylor

Thursday 8 November 2012 12.35 GMT

Human rights groups have called for the immediate release of a leading Bahraini activist jailed for participating in “illegal” demonstrations and organising them through social networking sites.

Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was jailed for three years in August. … Human rights organisations are stepping up pressure to try to get him freed.

“Nabeel Rajab must be the world’s first Twissident, locked up for criticising his repressive government on Twitter,” said Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal charity Reprieve.

He added: “I know him to be an honest and decent man, who travelled far and wide to help the families whose relatives had been locked up in Guantánamo. He’s not a lawyer, and he’s the furthest thing imaginable from an extremist.”

Social media sites give the Gulf’s growing youth population a voice: here.

Guantanamo Bay’s butterflies and moths


Along with the sad news from dictatorially ruled Bahrain, there is sometimes good news. Eg, about birds.

Likewise, in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, there is often torture or other sad news.

This specimen of the lime swallowtail, an invasive species that is a threat to citrus plants, was collected at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in January 2012. CREDIT: Florida Museum of Natural History

This time, somewhat better news. From the University of Florida in the USA:

UF Guantanamo Bay Lepidoptera study sets baseline for future research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists publishing the first study on butterflies and moths of Guantanamo Bay Naval Station have discovered vast biodiversity in an area previously unknown to researchers.

Appearing in the Bulletin of the Allyn Museum Sept. 5, the study creates a baseline for understanding how different plant and animal species have spread throughout the Caribbean.

“Biodiversity studies are extremely important because they give us clues about where things were and how they evolved over time so we can better understand what may happen in the future,” said study co-author Jacqueline Y. Miller, curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity on the UF campus. “We’re also looking at climate change over time, and butterflies are biological indicator species since they are associated with particular plants as caterpillars and often found in particular habitats.”

During a seven-day trip to the site in January, researchers collected 1,100 specimens representing 192 moth and 41 butterfly species, including the invasive lime swallowtail whose proximity to the U.S. poses a threat to citrus plants. Researchers are freezing tissue samples from many of the collected specimens for future DNA analysis and expect to later describe new species, said lead author Deborah Matthews Lott, a biological scientist at the museum.

“Guantanamo is a special area because it’s a desert-type habitat due to the rain shadow effect from the mountains,” Lott said. “There’s fewer species there, but there’s going to be a tendency for more specialized endemic species.”

Leased to the United States in 1903, the land has unintentionally become a wildlife refuge, offering researchers the opportunity to better understand the island’s natural habitats. Located in the southeast corner of Cuba, its unique and complex geological history of volcanic activity, erosion and shifting sea levels resulted in geological deposits closely associated with marine environments.

“We are comparing the moths and butterflies collected at GTMO to those recorded from the U.S., Bahamas, other nearby islands and Central America,” Miller said. “With the historical geology of the area, there are some potentially new species and such surveys enable us to better understand the evolutionary history of butterflies and moths.”

Cuba is the largest island in the West Indies and researchers’ knowledge of its geological and paleontological history is mainly based on published articles, said co-author Roger Portell, the Florida Museum’s invertebrate paleontology collections manager. Portell has led fieldwork on the naval station since 2007.

“Because it is a military base — and this is true for many military bases, which typically have large areas of land — people are not trampling, bulldozing or developing the land,” Portell said. “So there is a large area of land in the southeast corner of the island that has basically been untouched for 100 years.”

See also here.

A federal judge has ordered the US government to stop trying to restrict lawyers’ access to detainees at Guantanamo Bay: here.

John Knefel, AlterNet in the USA: “Adnan Latif was found dead in his cell on September 10th, 2012, just a day before the eleventh anniversary of 9/11…. He suffered at the hands of the US government in ways that most people can’t begin to comprehend, and his death should be a reminder that the national shame that is Guantanamo Bay lives on and now enjoys bipartisan support”: here.

French citizen Ahmed Hadjarab has filed a criminal complaint with his government over his nephew Nabil’s continuing imprisonment and torture in Guantanamo Bay: here.

Guantanamo, drugs for prisoners


This video is called Guantanamo: Torture Of 15 Year Old Boy At Hands Of Canadian And American Cowards.

Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout in the USA: “A new medical journal article seriously questions the US government’s rationale for use of the controversial antimalaria drug mefloquine on all detainees sent to the detention center at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base”: here.

Prisoner dies at Guantanamo Bay: here.

A ninth prisoner has died at US concentration camp Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the US military admitted on Monday, two days after the man was found unconscious in his cell: here.

US military prisoners drugged


This video from the USA is called Military Could Detain Americans Indefinitely.

EXCLUSIVE: Department of Defense Declassifies Report on Alleged Drugging of Detainees. Jeffrey Kaye and Jason Leopold, Truthout in the USA: “Detainees in custody of the US military were interrogated while drugged with powerful antipsychotic and other medications that ‘could impair an individual’s ability to provide accurate information,’ according to a declassified Department of Defense (DoD) inspector general’s report that probed the alleged use of ‘mind altering drugs’ during interrogations”: here.

See also here.

Alyona Minkovski, The Alyona Show: “For years, current and former detainees from Guantanamo and other US military sites, as well as their attorneys, have argued that they were forcibly given pills and injected with unknown medications…. And now, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act Request filed by Truthout, a report from the DOD’s deputy inspector general has confirmed much of it. Alyona Minkovsky talks to Jason Leopold, lead investigative reporter for Truthout.org about what the FOIA exposed”: here.

The last British resident in Guantanamo Shaker Aamer may have been forcibly given mind-altering drugs by his US captors, recently declassified documents have revealed: here.

Reprieve sues Britain’s spies for Shaker Aamer lies: here.

Prisoners, cleared for release, still in Guantanamo


This video is called Guantanamo Bay – USA.

By Andy Worthington, Andy Worthington’s Blog:

Guantanamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held, but Cleared for Release at Least Five Years Ago

Friday, 08 June 2012 09:31

One of the greatest injustices at Guantánamo is that, of the 169 prisoners still held, over half — 87 in total — were cleared for release by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force. The Task Force involved around 60 career officials from various government departments and the intelligence agencies, who spent the first year of the Obama Presidency reviewing the cases of all the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo, to decide whether they should be tried, released, or, in some cases, held indefinitely without charge or trial. The Task Force’s final report is here (PDF).

Exactly who these 87 men are is a closely held secret on the part of the administration, which is unfortunate for those of us working towards the closure of Guantánamo, as it prevents us from campaigning as effectively as we would like for the majority of these men, given that we are not entirely sure of their status. Attorneys for the prisoners have been told about their clients’ status, but that information — as with so much involving Guantánamo — is classified.

Mark Karlin, BuzzFlash at Truthout: “With the continued erosion of civil liberties that began in the Bush years and has expanded in the Obama administration, it was hopeful that a federal judge struck down one of the most chilling laws in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): the right of the government to suspend habeas corpus and indefinitely detain US citizens under military authority”: here.

The US Supreme Court declined to review appellate decisions that shut the door to judicial review of the indefinite detention of Guantanamo prisoners. It also let stand an appellate ruling tossing out a civil law suit by Jose Padilla: here.

The government’s failure to secure the release of the last British resident in Guantanamo is in breach of both the Magna Carta and the Act of Habeas Corpus, campaigners have declared: here.

The tragic case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif hit a dead end when the US Supreme Court issued an order refusing to hear his case last week. Latif, a Yemeni man, has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay since January 2002, after being detained while traveling to seek medical treatment: here.

Sesame Street music abused for Guantanamo torture


This video from the USA is called Sesame Street Music Torture.

Another video, no longer on YouTube, used to say about itself:

30 May 2012 by Al Jazeera English

The film, Songs of War, explores the relationship between music and violence.

The film’s main protagonist is Christopher Cerf. The award-winning musician is a composer for Sesame Street, a popular American children’s educational series.

By Clare Richardson in the USA:

Torture By Sesame Street At Guantanamo Bay: Al Jazeera Reports (VIDEO)

05/31/2012 12:07 pm

In 2008, reports surfaced that detainees at Guantanamo Bay had been tortured by songs such as Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Drowning Pool’s “Bodies.”

Now, a new documentary from Al Jazeera shows that detainees may also have been subjected to musical torture of a softer variety.

According to the report, prisoners at the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base were forced to wear headphones blasting music from Sesame Street on repeat for hours or days on end.

Christopher Cerf, the award-winning composer of Sesame Street, was stunned to learn how his music was being exploited.

“My first reaction was this just can’t possibly be true,” he told Al Jazeera. “…Of course I didn’t really like the idea that I was helping break down prisoners, but it was much worse when I heard later that they were actually using the music in Guantanamo to actually do deep, long-term interrogations and obviously to inflict enough pain on prisoners so they would talk.”

This isn’t the first time that music from Sesame Street has been used to break the will of prisoners. In 2003, the U.S. reportedly used the soundtrack to soften up Iraqi POWs.

Sesame Street, an educational children’s television series, has been on the air since 1969.

Watch the full report from Al Jazeera in the video above. Below, check out some of the tunes reportedly used at Gitmo.

A Guantanamo Connection? Documents Show CIA Stockpiled Antimalaria Drugs as “Incapacitating Agents”. Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout: “A Truthout analysis of historical records concerning government research and nonmedical use of antimalarial medications has revealed that such drugs were the objects of experimental research under the CIA’s MKULTRA program. Even more, one of these drugs, cinchonine, was illegally stockpiled by the CIA as an ‘incapacitating agent’ … Such interest gains contemporary significance in the light of actions taken by the Department of Defense (DoD) in the ‘war on terror’”: here.

Guantanamo torture camp still open


This video from Britain is called SSAC Rally – A Day For Shaker Aamer December 11 2010.

By Rory MacKinnon in Britain:

PM urged to press for Aamer release

Monday 12 March 2012

David Cameron and Barack Obama may praise their “special relationship” but no friend should jail British citizens without charges, human rights activists said today.

Organisers from the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign urged PM David Cameron to confront the US president over its infamous Guantanamo prison camp — still open after 10 years despite Mr Obama’s order three years ago to close it.

Battersea man Mr Aamer has been held without charge in Guantanamo since 2002 after Afghan soldiers in Jalalabad abducted and took him to the US’s equally notorious Bagram airbase.

He says he was working in Afghanistan for a Saudi charity. Leaked files from Guantanamo administrators allege that he “received advanced terrorist training, indicated his willingness to become a martyr and served as a sub-commander of al-Qaida forces.”

But he has never been charged, while Mr Aamer’s lawyers say his jailers have no admissible evidence as many of his statements were obtained through torture.

The campaign’s Joy Hurcombe said in a letter to the two leaders yesterday that the British government hadn’t pressed the US hard enough, despite publicly calling for Mr Aamer’s return.

Renewing Britain and the United States’ “special relationship” was the ideal moment to secure Mr Aamer’s freedom, she said.

“Shaker Aamer could come home today. He could get his life back. He could be restored to his home and family.”

She said to Mr Cameron: “We call on your government to respect Shaker Aamer’s wish to return to his family, all of whom are British citizens, honour his long-term right of return and indefinite leave to remain and act on your public statements that you are committed to Shaker Aamer’s release and return to the UK.”

Citing Truthout Report, UN Special Rapporteur “Looking Into” Guantanamo “Suicides”. Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout: “Earlier this month, Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, responded to an inquiry by this reporter regarding new information on the deaths of two Guantanamo prisoners, Abdul Rahman Al Amri and Mohammad Salih Al Hanashi. According to the Department of Defense (DoD), both prisoners died of suicide in 2007 and 2009, respectively. But new details surrounding their deaths, first reported by Truthout March 1, challenged government accounts concerning what happened”: here.

Psychologists Paid by Guantanamo’s Masters Will Never Dismantle Their House of Torture. Roy Eidelson, Truthout: “Professional psychology has made valuable contributions to national security through collaborative efforts with government agencies – and it will undoubtedly continue to do so. But does anyone truly believe that crucial determinations about psychological ethics should ever be guided by the views and agenda of the secretary of defense or the director of the CIA?” Here.

Campaigners demanding the release of the last British resident in Guantanamo will lobby MPs as they return from their recess on Monday: here.

The Kafkaesque censorship of lawyer-client discussions at Guantanamo Bay should send a stark warning to Britain over its plans to introduce secret evidence, legal action charity Reprieve said today: here.

Mark Karlin, Truthout: “Marjorie Cohn – a law professor and past president of the National Lawyer’s Guild – has assembled a compelling interdisciplinary anthology on the ‘normalization’ of torture as an extension of American foreign policy. This is not a new occurrence limited to the so-called ‘war on terror,’ but extends back decades”: here.

Orwell at Guantanamo: Complicit In the Ugly Truth: here.