Stop oil sheiks’ killing of Pakistani MacQueen’s bustards


This video is about a MacQueen’s bustard mating dance.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Pakistan urged to ban Arab sheikhs from hunting endangered birds

Special licences given to high-rolling dignitaries to kill houbara bustard, which is considered to be at risk of extinction

Jon Boone in Karachi

Tuesday 4 February 2014 07.00 GMT

Pakistan is witnessing a mounting backlash against Arab sheikhs who spend part of their winters hunting a rare bird that conservationists warn is at risk of extinction.

Activists in the country say they are determined to end the annual killing of houbara bustards,

Recently, the birds in Pakistan are considered to be a separate species, MacQueen’s bustard, from the houbara bustards of North Africa.

an elusive bird that migrates each winter from central Asia to Pakistan’s warmer climes.

Although the birds are officially protected, VIP visitors from the Gulf enjoy their traditional hunts with falcons and believe the houbara‘s meat has aphrodisiac properties.

“Is there any more ridiculous reason to kill an animal?” said Naeem Sadiq, a Karachi-based activist who petitioned the Lahore high court to ban the practice. “If it’s illegal for Pakistanis to kill these birds why should the Arab sheikhs be allowed to do it?”

On Friday, the court slapped an interim ban on hunting in Punjab province, where the government has issued special hunting permits to royalty from across the Arab world.

Numbers of houbara, which are considered to be at risk of extinction by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, have fallen dramatically in recent decades.

They have been almost wiped out on the Arabian peninsula and various countries in the region, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, have set up breeding programmes to try to revive numbers.

While houbara hunting has been banned in India for decades, Pakistan continues to give special licences to Arab rulers and senior officials. This year Pakistan issued 33 permits allowing dignitaries to kill up to 100 birds each.

The list of licence holders is a who’s who of Gulf potentates, including the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the president of the UAE.

The Arab kingdoms are home to huge numbers of Pakistani expatriate workers and the government is loth to jeopardise its relationship with such important regional allies.

“Arab dignitaries have been coming for hunting for decades and decades – it’s a longstanding tradition,” said Tasneem Aslam, from Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs. “Ten years ago there wasn’t so much public awareness about the issue but now we see more voices raising their concern.”

It’s not just environmental activists and the country’s boisterous media that increasingly focuses on the comings and goings of Arab dignitaries but also politicians determined to stop the sport.

Sindh, one of Pakistan’s four provinces where a large number of licences were issued for the hunting season, is attempting to challenge the foreign affairs ministry’s right to issue permits.

“We believe the constitution gives the right to give licences to the provinces,” said Sikandar Ali Mandhro, a Sindh provincial government minister leading the fight. “If we succeed we will immediately introduce a five- or 10-year ban because the bird numbers have become so low.”

Few outsiders have witnessed one of the bustard-hunting expeditions, but stories about the high-rolling Arab falconers are legendary in Pakistan.

Tons of equipment is flown in by private transport planes, including the falcons used to hunt the rare quarry. Luxuriously appointed camps are set up for the sheikh and his guests, who often stay for weeks.

Local communities value the money spent by their annual visitors, who have paid for improvements to roads and airstrips, as well as paying for the means to build mosques and schools.

An official from the Houbara Foundation Pakistan, which rescues birds captured for illegal shipment to the Gulf, said there was a desperate need for a proper national survey of houbara numbers in order to decide whether limited hunting should be allowed to continue.

“The real problem arises once a hunting camp is set up and other people come and take advantage,” said the official, who did not wish to be named. “We have informal information about locals shooting the birds.”

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Greek nazi murder of Pakistani worker on trial


This video is called Golden Dawn: Greece‘s neo-fascists.

From Dawn of the Greeks blog:

The trial for the racist murder of Sachzat Loukman starts again tomorrow

Posted on January 7, 2014 by dawnofthegreeks

On Wednesday, January 8 continues the trial for the murder of Sachzat Loukman, trial which began on 18 December in Mixed Jury Court of Athens. The 27 year old migrant worker from Pakistan Sachzat Loukman [was] murdered in Athens, the morning of 17 January 2013 as he walked with his bike to work. The 29-year old Chris Stergiopoulos and 25 year old Dennis Liakopoulos, armed with folding knives, attacked and murdered him by stabbing him seven times. They were arrested after a few hours and immediately confessed. Following the arrest of two men with [the ]crime weapon, police searched their homes, [where they] found material of the Golden Dawn and other murderous weapons which makes clear the racist motives of the perpetrators.

Greek source: koutitispandoras.

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Greek anti-nazis remember murdered rapper Pavlos Fyssas


This music video is the complete album Hliokapsimata, by murdered Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas.

From daily Ekathimerini in Greece:

Antifacist groups to hold rally in memory of murdered rapper Fyssas

Antifascist groups are organizing a gathering at 5 p.m. on Friday in memory of Pavlos Fyssas in Keratsini, near Piraeus, where the 34-year-old rapper was stabbed to death last September by a self-confessed supporter of the ultra-right Golden Dawn.

The rally is scheduled to begin at the junction of Panagis Tsaldaris Avenue and Kefallinias Streets at 5 p.m.

The gathering is to be attended by the parents of 27-year-old Luqman Shahzad, a Pakistani immigrant who was murdered in the neighborhood of Petralona in a racist attack almost exactly a year ago while cycling to work. The two suspects charged in connection with the attack are in custody and their trial is to resume on January 8.

Shahzad’s parents are said to have expressed their desire to meet Fyssas’ family.

Friday Jan 3, 2014 (12:18)

This video from Greece says about itself:

Javied Aslam Speech about Luqman Shahzad’s murder case on 14.12.2013 conferenceJavied Aslam speech (Urdu & Greek) about Luqman Shahzad’s murder case on 14.12.2013 conference. Was held in Athens, Greece a few days before the trial at 18.12.2013. Luqman Shahzad was murdered on 17.1.2013 by two fascist members of neo nazi xrysi avgi [Golden Dawn].

This is a video about a protest against the muder of Fyssas on the Dam square in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on 19 September 2013.

British government bans Pakistani drone survivors


This video from the USA is called Drone Strikes Kill Numerous Civilians – Report.

Apparently, the David Cameron government in Britain sees not only journalists, but also drone attack survivors as “terrorists”

Once more, from daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Witnesses On Drones Denied Entry Visas

Thursday 7th November 2013

Three Pakistani men prevented from giving evidence to Parliament

Three Pakistani men will be prevented from giving evidence to Parliament regarding Britain’s alleged role in CIA drone strikes after they were refused entry to the country.

The men, including Noor Khan, who is currently suing Britain over its alleged role in a CIA attack which killed his father, had been invited to address the all-party parliamentary group on drones yesterday.

Also due to address the meeting was Kareem Khan, whose son and brother were killed in a drone strike on New Year’s Eve 2009.

Mr Khan is suing former CIA station chief in Pakistan Jonathan Banks and ex-CIA general counsel John Rizzo over the killings.

Noor Behram, a journalist who has been investigating and photographing drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan for almost six years, had also been scheduled to attend. Yet they were prevented from doing so after their visa applications were rejected.

The family of another Pakistani drone victim recently gave evidence to a congressional hearing in the US having been granted visas to do so and campaigners have urged Britain to extend the same courtesy.

Legal justice charity Reprieve strategic director Cori Crider, whose organisation represents Mr Khan, said: “It is an unfortunate coincidence that David Cameron is refusing to grant a visa to the very same man who is suing his government over its role in the drone strike that killed his father.

“Just last week the Rehman family were able to tell their story to the US yet the UK seems unwilling to extend a similar courtesy to these three victims of the drone programme. The British government must reconsider and grant the men visas.”

Labour MP Tom Watson, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on drones, had written letters supporting the three men’s visa applications.

Mr Watson said: “It’s very disappointing that visas have not been granted in time for the drone victims invited by the parliamentary group on drones to speak today.

“The Rehman family testified to Congress about their grandmother who was killed by a CIA drone.

“The UK must allow Noor Khan and other survivors into the country so that we too can hear these lost voices.”

See also here.

The US and Pakistan: An incompatible couple: here.

Tony Magliano: Two new reports tell horrific tales of drones’ actions in the Middle East, and we should be disturbed: here.

US Drone Attacks Pakistani Religious School, Killing Eight. US Had Just Promised Today to Hold Off on Future Drone Strikes: here.

A US drone strike on a seminary in the Hangu district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province killed at least six people Thursday, including several civilians: here.

Thousands protest against drone strikes in Peshawar: here.

Abducted Pakistani drone activist freed: here.

Who tried to silence drone victim Kareem Khan? Here.

CIA’s Pakistan Drones Strikes Carried out by U.S. Air Force Personnel: here.

Pakistani drone survivors will speak with US Congress, Tuesday


This video says about itself:

27 Nov 2012

Robert Greenwald, Filmmaker/Producer & Founder-Brave New Films, joins Thom Hartmann. The US government says that drone attacks in the Middle East are targeted – and don’t put innocent civilians in harm’s way. Yet – our drones have killed hundreds of innocent men, women and children. When do we say enough is enough with drone warfare?

From Robert Greenwald & The War Costs Team in the USA:

“I saw her shoes. We found her mutilated body a short time afterwards,” – Nabila, 8-year-old granddaughter of drone strike victim Mamana Bibi

On Tuesday, October 29, at 10AM EST, Rafiq ur Rahman – a primary school teacher in Pakistan – will appear at a briefing called by Representative Alan Grayson (FL-09), along with his children Nabila and Zubair. In October 2012, Nabila and Zubair were injured in the same drone strike that killed their grandmother – Rafiq’s mother – while she was tending crops in her garden. This landmark briefing marks the first opportunity for Congress to hear in-person accounts from drone strike survivors.

The Congressional briefing will be available to watch via live stream. RSVP today to witness as Rafiq, Nabila, and Zubair share their intimate account of living through a drone strike, the loss they experienced, and the devastating aftermath.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from the drone strike victims,” said Congressman Grayson. “When it comes to national security matters like drone strikes, it’s important that we hear not only from the proponents of these attacks, but also from the victims. They have a unique perspective to share with Congress, and I hope that my colleagues will attend this important event on October 29th.”

Rafiq ur Rehman has traveled from North Waziristan to tell his story before Congress because he believes that more people should know that these strikes are killing and terrorizing innocent families. It is imperative that Congress and the White House know that the implementation of U.S. drone strikes abroad are fueling anti-American sentiment and serving as a tool for terrorist recruitment.

Don’t miss this historic event. – RSVP* now to watch as drone survivors, for the first time, share their story with Congress.

Sincerely,

Robert Greenwald & The War Costs Team

*Every person that RSVP’s to stream this live event will automatically be signed up to receive a FREE link on October 30th to watch our upcoming documentary UNMANNED: America’s Drone Wars.

Why Did America Kill My Mother? Pakistani Drone Victim Comes To Congress For Answer: here.

Malala Yousafzai tells Obama drones are ‘fueling terrorism’: here.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is caught between Pakistan’s strategic alliance with the US on the one hand and mass popular opposition to the criminal drone war on the other: here.

Confessions of a Drone Warrior: here.

Hundreds of Pakistanis rallied against an army operation in the North Waziristan tribal area which they say killed many civilians: here.

Britain: Human rights campaigners condemned a London court’s “shameful” decision yesterday to strike down the case of Noor Khan, whose father was killed in a US-led bombing in Pakistan’s North Waziristan in 2011: here.

Drone attacks on Pakistan, Yemen are war crimes, Amnesty says


This video from the USA is called Drone Strikes Kill Numerous Civilians – Report.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Amnesty says US officials should face war crimes charges over drone strikes

Joint report with Human Rights Watch judges attacks in Yemen and Pakistan to have broken international human rights law

Jon Boone in Islamabad

Tuesday 22 October 2013

US officials responsible for the secret CIA drone campaign against suspected terrorists in Pakistan may have committed war crimes and should stand trial, a report by a leading human rights group warns. Amnesty International has highlighted the case of a grandmother who was killed while she was picking vegetables and other incidents which could have broken international laws designed to protect civilians.

The report is issued in conjunction with an investigation by Human Rights Watch detailing missile attacks in Yemen which the group believes could contravene the laws of armed conflict, international human rights law and Barack Obama’s own guidelines on drones.

The reports are being published while Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, is in Washington. Sharif has promised to tell Obama that the drone strikes – which have caused outrage in Pakistan – must end.

Getting to the bottom of individual strikes is exceptionally difficult in the restive areas bordering Afghanistan, where thousands of militants have settled. People are often terrified of speaking out, fearing retribution from both militants and the state, which is widely suspected of colluding with the CIA-led campaign.

There is also a risk of militants attempting to skew outside research by forcing interviewees into “providing false or inaccurate information”, the report said.

But Amnesty mounted a major effort to investigate nine of the many attacks to have struck the region over the last 18 months, including one that killed 18 labourers in North Waziristan as they waited to eat dinner in an area of heavy Taliban influence in July 2012. All those interviewed by Amnesty strongly denied any of the men had been involved in militancy. Even if they were members of a banned group, that would not be enough to justify killing them, the report said.

“Amnesty International has serious concerns that this attack violated the prohibition of the arbitrary deprivation of life and may constitute war crimes or extrajudicial executions,” the report said. It called for those responsible to stand trial.

The US has repeatedly claimed very few civilians have been killed by drones. It argues its campaign is conducted “consistent with all applicable domestic and international law”.

The Amnesty report supports media accounts from October last year that a 68-year-old woman called Mamana Bibi was killed by a missile fired from a drone while she was picking okra outside her home in North Waziristan with her grandchildren nearby. A second strike minutes later injured family members tending her.

If true, the case is striking failure of a technology much vaunted for its accuracy. It is claimed the remote-controlled planes are able to observe their targets for hours or even days to verify them, and that the explosive force of the missiles is designed to limit collateral damage. As with other controversial drone strikes, the US has refused to acknowledge or explain what happened.

Amnesty said it accepts some US drone strikes may not violate the law, “but it is impossible to reach any firm assessment without a full disclosure of the facts surrounding individual attacks and their legal basis. The USA appears to be exploiting the lawless and remote nature of the region to evade accountability for its violations,” it said.

In Yemen, another country where US drones are active, Human Rights Watch highlighted six incidents, two of which were a “clear violation of international humanitarian law”. The remaining four may have broken the laws of armed conflict because the targets were illegitimate or because not enough was done to minimise civilian harm, the report said.

It also argued that some of the Yemen attacks breach the guidelines announced by Obama earlier this year in his first major speech on a programme that is officially top secret. For example, the pledge to kill suspects only when it is impossible to capture them appears to have been ignored on 17 April this year when an al-Qaida leader was blown up in a township in Dhamar province in central Yemen, Human Rights Watch said.

An attack on a truck driving 12 miles south of the capital Sana’a reportedly killed two al-Qaida suspects but also two civilians who had been hired by the other men. That means the attack could have been illegal because it “may have caused disproportionate harm to civilians”.

The legal arguments over drones are extremely complex, with much controversy focusing on whether or not the places where they are used amount to war zones.

Amnesty said some of the strikes in Pakistan might be covered by that claim, but rejected a “global war doctrine” that allows the US to attack al-Qaida anywhere in the world.

“To accept such a policy would be to endorse state practices that fundamentally undermine crucial human rights protections that have been painstakingly developed over more than a century of international law-making,” the report said.

See also here.

Human rights organization, Amnesty International, has released a report that presents two case studies on victims of United States drone strikes in Pakistan and also details the practice of signature strikes, which has led to rescuers being killed in follow-up attacks while they are trying to help wounded individuals: here.

On Syria, Obama went to Congress over military action. But in Yemen, the US has joined a counter-insurgency without a word: here.

NSA spying and global drone war


This video is called 80% of drone strike victims innocent civilians.

By Thomas Gaist:

NSA surveillance programs facilitate global drone war

18 October 2013

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published in the Washington Post Wednesday show that NSA surveillance operations play a key role in the global campaign of assassinations being waged by the Obama administration.

The Post’s report, “Documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in targeted killing program,” testifies to the integration of the surveillance apparatus exposed in recent months into US imperialism’s global military operations. Officials cited by the Post said that the NSA has deployed analysts to work along side Central Intelligence Agency personnel at the CIA Counterterrorism Center and at “every major US embassy or military base overseas.”

The report further documents the NSA’s systematic attempts to overcome encryption, including the extraction of PGP encryption keys from targets. …

According to the report, the NSA’s “Tailored Access Operations,” a cyber-warfare and intelligence gathering program, conducts surveillance of targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and throughout Africa. TAO runs programs such as UNITEDRAKE and VALIDATOR, which launch cyber attacks using “software implants” to grab sensitive data such as keystroke logs and audio files.

ArsTechnica reported in August that advanced software used by TAO enables operatives to tap directly into hardware such as “routers, switches and firewalls,” and that TAO’s activities are integrated into data systems such as XKeyscore.

Information gathered by the NSA has been used in particular in the course of the CIA’s drone war in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. As summarized by the Post, the NSA has “draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan.” One US intelligence official told the Post, “NSA threw the kitchen sink at the FATA.” To date, at least 3,000 people have been killed as a result of US drone operations in Pakistan, including hundreds of civilians.

Both the NSA surveillance and the policy of drone war that it facilitates are criminal operations, carried out in violation of international law. The Obama administration asserts the right to kill anyone in the world without due process, including US citizens, in violation of the Bill of Rights. Among those killed have been US citizens including Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in Yemen.

A full accounting of the Pakistanis murdered by US drones may never be completed. However, a study published by Stanford University and New York University earlier this year showed that large sections of the population living in the FATA suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the buzzing of drones overhead and the never-ending barrage of ordnance raining down on the area.

UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson wrote in March of this year, “As a matter of international law, the US drone campaign is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent, and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

The Post described the leaked NSA documents as “self-congratulatory in tone” and “drafted to tout the NSA’s counterterrorism capabilities.” According to Fox News, the Post withheld substantial information about the drone strikes “at the request of US intelligence officials.”

The Post report highlights the case of Hassan Ghul, who was killed as a direct result of intelligence acquired through electronic surveillance operations run by the NSA. After his capture in 2004, Ghul was held at a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe until 2006, where he was subject to “enhanced interrogation techniques” (i.e., torture), including slapping, sleep deprivation, and stress positions.

In 2006, Ghul was transferred to Pakistan, where he was released and rejoined Al Qaeda militants in Waziristan. Ghul worked to set up logistical networks for Al Qaeda after being freed, according to a Treasury Department document from 2011. No explanation has been offered by US or Pakistani authorities for Ghul’s release.

Ghul was then killed in 2012 by a drone strike in Mir Ali, after having been monitored for a year prior to his death by a secret NSA unit called the Counter-Terrorism Mission Aligned Cell (CT MAC), which specializes in finding high priority targets in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Ghul’s location was discovered through analysis of an email sent to him by his wife. His death was never officially acknowledged by the US government, despite the fact that his interrogation supposedly provided intelligence about an Al Qaeda courier named al-Kuwaiti, which supposedly led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The scope of the integration of the NSA, CIA, military and police agencies extends far beyond what is taking place in Pakistan. The entire world is the subject both of the intelligence-gathering operations of the NSA and the drone strikes of the CIA.

Under the Obama administration, the NSA’s surveillance operations gather the communications of every telephone and Internet user on the planet, US citizens and non-citizens alike. This week has already seen new evidence emerge that the NSA is stealing address books—which often contain large amounts of personal information—from various web platforms and storing them in its archives. (See “ NSA ‘harvesting’ electronic address books and contact lists”)

The possibility of strikes being launched against American targets has been raised by top officials, and drones are already deployed on non-strike missions over the US. In a letter of March 4, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that the president “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil, and without trial,” saying that in certain cases such action would be “necessary and appropriate.”

If and when such operations are initiated, the state will have no shortage of data with which to target Americans, whose communications are subject to constant scrutiny by the surveillance apparatus.

NSA spying on 35 foreign leaders: here.

Pakistani drone survivor teacher not allowed to speak in the USA


Robert Greenwald from the USA writes about this video:

Let them speak

It’s been almost a year since I traveled to Pakistan to investigate, film, and interview drone victims and their families. While there, I met Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children, who shared with me the story of how Rafiq’s 67 year-old mother, the children’s grandmother, was killed by a drone strike. Not only did Rafiq lose his mother that day, but his daughter Nebila, 9, and son Zubiar, 13, were also injured.

Rafiq’s situation moved me deeply. It was clear that this was no abstract instance of collateral damage. As a father of four, I am haunted daily by the stories of children being injured or killed by drone strikes. The story of Rafiq and his children was so powerful that I wanted to be sure that Congress heard it from Rafiq and his heroic lawyer, Shahzad Akbar. All applied for visas to enter the U.S., to share their story with members of Congress and the American public. Reprieve, an international organization fighting for justice across the globe, has been working tirelessly to get the necessary documents so that we in the U.S. can hear first hand from a family whose loved one was killed by a U.S. drone strike.

While Rafiq and his children’s visas were approved, the visa request for their lawyer, guide, and mentor, Shahzad Akbar, has been held up in “administrative processing.” This means that their ad-hoc hearing has been indefinitely postponed, as the Department of State has delayed approval of his visa, despite Congressional interest. Without Shahzad, Rafiq and his family will be unable to come to DC, and their story will never be heard. You can help Rafiq speak with members of Congress – but we need you to act today.

Is the State Department delaying approval of Shazhad Akbar’s visa to try to silence drone victims? Shazhad used to regularly travel to the United States and was even a consultant with USAID. It wasn’t until 2010, when he began representing drone victims and their families, that the Department of State began holding up his visa requests.

The State Department needs to hear from us now, here are three simple ways to help with the campaign:

  1. Call the State dept. directly at 202-647-4000
  2. Follow up with an email demanding the State Dept. issue a visa for Shahzad
  3. And sign our petition now to demand that the drone victims be allowed to speak in the U.S.

Congressman Alan Grayson issued this statement: “I encourage the State Department to approve Shahzad Akbar’s visa immediately, so that Rafiq ur Rehman and his family can share their stories with Congress and the American public.” The time for Rafiq and his family to speak in front of Congress is running out.  Sign the petition and join with others to urge the Department of State to immediately approve Shazhad Akbar’s visa. Without it, Rafiq and his children won’t be heard.

See also here.

News of the world is becoming palpably more relevant to the day-to-day experiences of American readers, and it is rapidly disappearing: here.