Tortured Bahraini medic speaks


This video says about itself:

Bahrain doctor: ‘I’m not free if my colleagues aren’t’

14 June 2012

Dr Rula al-Saffar, former head of emergency medicine at Salmanya hospital, had her conviction and 15 year jail sentence quashed today by the High Criminal Court of Appeal.

The Bahraini medic had been sentenced in September 2011, having been accused of helping last year’s uprising against the ruling royal family.

She is one of nine medical staff to have had their convictions cleared.

Unfortunately, in Bahrain there are not only beautiful birds, but also ugly human rights violations like torture.

By Rula Al Saffar:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

McGovern backs rights in Bahrain

AS I SEE IT

Since Bahrain‘s pro-democracy uprising began in 2011, hundreds of peaceful advocates have been detained, tortured, and denied fair trials while the international community, including the United States government, offers generally muted criticism.

Unfortunately, I experienced some of the violations first-hand. I spent 18 years training and working in the United States before returning to Bahrain, where I’m head of the Bahrain Nursing Association.

After the 2011 uprising, I was one of dozens of medics targeted after treating injured protesters hurt during clashes with the regime. After being detained for months and tortured into making a false confession, I was convicted by a military court and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

I was one of the lucky ones who was later acquitted, but I had very few allies who stood with me in my fight for justice.

An exception was Rep. Jim McGovern, one of the few American leaders who has worked to secure justice for the people of Bahrain.

Mr. McGovern has consistently pressed for reform in Bahrain. He has chaired hearings on Bahrain and hosted a congressional briefing to discuss Human Rights First’s latest report on the country, where he warned that silencing dissidents in Bahrain has implications far beyond the kingdom’s borders.

Such repression also raises U.S. national security concerns.

“(S)uppressing the voice of opposition in Bahrain, whether through outright violence or the jailing of reform leaders, is simply an unsustainable strategy. It threatens, rather than enhances, stability in Bahrain; it threatens stability in the region; and therefore, it threatens U.S. strategic and security interests, including the basing of our Fifth Fleet,” he said.

The U.S. government needs more people like Mr. McGovern. When U.S. allies are guilty of torture and other human rights abuses, far too few American leaders are ready to speak out for what is right and to stand up for the principles of human rights.

Not much has changed in the kingdom since my acquittal. Peaceful opposition leaders continue to be targeted by the regime. Several of my medic colleagues are still in jail. While we thought the U.S. would do more, it has been slow to act.

The U.S. has its Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, which many believe has played a role in the U.S. government’s silence in the face of Bahrain‘s repressive crackdown. Many of us had looked to the U.S. government as one that would stand up for peaceful protesters, as it has elsewhere in the Middle East. But when it came to Bahrain, the United States did not project the same message that we heard U.S. leaders say about democracy in Tunisia and Egypt.

United States rulers were very late in pro-democracy statements on Egypt and Tunisia. They had supported the Ben Ali dictatorship in Tunisia for decades. Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, praised the dictatorship in Egypt. Just before dictator Mubarak of Egypt fell, United States Vice President Biden still denied Mubarak was a dictator.

That standard didn’t seem to apply to us.

Mr. McGovern is one of the few who has made it clear that he has no double standard when it comes to human rights. Since the beginning, he has been tenacious and committed to standing up for justice and freedom in Bahrain.

Whether the issue of Bahrain is fashionable in Washington or not, Mr. McGovern’s support remains steady. He’s not using our problems to score political points. He understands that Bahrain desperately needs change, and we need allies who stand up for real reform and are willing to take action to make it happen.

He’s one such ally and we wish there were more like him.

Rula Al Saffar is president of the Bahrain Nursing Society.

Bahrain – Detained journalists and bloggers appear in court: here.

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Edward Snowden’s life threatened by United States spies


This video is called Amazing Interview With Ed Snowden; Man Who Exposed That The NSA Is Spying On Every American.

From Buzzfeed in the USA:

America’s Spies Want Edward Snowden Dead

“I would love to put a bullet in his head,” one Pentagon official told BuzzFeed. The NSA leaker is enemy No. 1 among those inside the intelligence world.

posted on January 16, 2014 at 11:25pm EST

Benny Johnson

Edward Snowden has made some dangerous enemies. As the American intelligence community struggles to contain the public damage done by the former National Security Agency contractor’s revelations of mass domestic spying, intelligence operators have continued to seethe in very personal terms against the 30-year-old whistle-blower.

“In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself,” a current NSA analyst told BuzzFeed. “A lot of people share this sentiment.”

“I would love to put a bullet in his head,” one Pentagon official, a former special forces officer, said bluntly. “I do not take pleasure in taking another human beings life, having to do it in uniform, but he is single-handedly the greatest traitor in American history.”

That violent hostility lies just beneath the surface of the domestic debate over NSA spying is still ongoing. Some members of Congress have hailed Snowden as a whistle-blower, the New York Times has called for clemency, and pundits regularly defend his actions on Sunday talk shows. In intelligence community circles, Snowden is considered a nothing short of a traitor in wartime.

“His name is cursed every day over here,” a defense contractor told BuzzFeed, speaking from an overseas intelligence collections base. “Most everyone I talk to says he needs to be tried and hung, forget the trial and just hang him.”

Oh yeah … just like ‘good’ old Al Capone always forgot the trial. Yeah right.

One Army intelligence officer even offered BuzzFeed a chillingly detailed fantasy.

“I think if we had the chance, we would end it very quickly,” he said. “Just casually walking on the streets of Moscow, coming back from buying his groceries. Going back to his flat and he is casually poked by a passerby. He thinks nothing of it at the time starts to feel a little woozy and thinks it’s a parasite from the local water. He goes home very innocently and next thing you know he dies in the shower.”

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop delivered a speech in Washington, DC on Thursday night denouncing former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, who has exposed the illegal global surveillance regime developed by the US and its allies, including Canberra: here.

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United States soldiers kill Afghan four-year-old


This video says about itself:

10 Jan 2014

A four-year-old boy has been shot dead by US soldiers in Afghanistan. The troops opened fire on the toddler, after mistaking him for an enemy due to poor visibility. The latest incident comes amid the further straining of ties between the US and Afghanistan. For more on what awaits Afghanistan after foreign troops leave in 2014 we’re now joined by Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Williams, former commander of the Special Air Service.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

US troops kill Afghan four-year-old

11 January 2014

Afghan officials Friday condemned the killing of a four-year-old child by US Marines in the country’s southern Helmand province after he was reportedly mistaken for the “enemy.”

“We have called…for an absolute end to ISAF/NATO military operations on homes and villages in order to avoid such killings where innocent children or civilians are the victims,” President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi told the media in commenting on the child’s death

Authorities in Helmand province told the Reuters news agency that the shooting took place on Wednesday. The Marines “thought he was an enemy and opened fire,” a spokesman for the governor reported. The grievously wounded child was taken to a hospital where he died.

On Friday, NBC News quoted Assistant Police Chief Abdullah Chopan from the Nadali District of Helmand Province as saying the shooting was “likely to have happened because visibility was not good, it was raining and cloudy.” Chopan also said that the child was a girl, not a boy as had initially been reported.

The tragic slaying of the toddler has come amid deepening tensions between Washington and the Kabul government over a bilateral security agreement that would allow some 12,000 US troops to remain in the country indefinitely after the official end of the US-led occupation at the end of this year.

Civilian casualties have provoked broad popular hostility to the more than decade-old US-led occupation, and the Karzai government has repeatedly demanded an end to night raids and attacks on Afghan villages by foreign troops as a condition for reaching the security agreement.

The Obama administration has issued ultimatums as recently as Monday demanding that the pact be concluded “within weeks, not months,” or the US could pull out all its forces and cut off aid to Kabul. The US ambassador to Afghanistan, however, warned in a secret cable obtained by the Washington Post that Karzai has no intention of having the agreement signed until after the election of a new president in a vote set for April.

Further aggravating friction between Washington and Kabul, the Karzai government ordered the release of 72 prisoners held at the formerly US-run detention facility near Bagram air base, declaring that some of them had been held for seven years without charges or any verifiable evidence against them.

The prison formally passed from US to Afghan control last March, but US officials claim that there had been agreement to consult Washington on any prisoner releases. A State Department spokeswoman Thursday labeled those being set free as “dangerous criminals against whom there is strong evidence linking them to terror-related crimes.”

The Afghan government, however, insists that the decision was made by an independent commission formed to review the cases of those held. The commission had already freed 540 prisoners previously held by US occupation authorities, while sending 114 for trial on various charges.

The controversy has provoked a nationalist reaction in Afghanistan, with the Pashto daily Sarnawesht publishing a January 7 editorial entitled “America’s demand or Afghanistan’s laws?” The editorial stated: “In order to justify the crimes they have committed and in order to prevent the innocent prisoners from claiming in the courts in Afghanistan, the US and the world that they were imprisoned illegally and that they should be reimbursed the sustained losses, the American officials try to prove them as criminals.”

“This is an internal matter of our own sovereignty. This not about our relationship with the United States,” Karzai’s spokesman said. He went further and accused the US authorities of continuing to run secret “black” prisons where Afghans are held without charges and subjected to torture.

Also likely to aggravate tensions between Washington and Kabul, Robert Gates, in his memoir Duty, writes that the US government attempted to oust Karzai during the 2009 presidential election in what the former US defense secretary characterized as a “clumsy and failed putsch.”

“It was ugly: our partner, the president of Afghanistan, was tainted, and our hands were dirty as well,” Foreign Policy magazine quoted Gates as writing in the new book.

Karzai has repeatedly charged that the US had interfered in the last election—which was rife with fraud—and has justified postponing the signing of the security agreement until after the next election on the grounds of professed concerns that it will do so again.

While the Obama administration has threatened to resort to a “zero option,” withdrawing all troops and cutting off military aid, unless Karzai signs the bilateral deal soon, the Afghan president appears to be confident that American strategic interests will compel Washington to accept his terms. The Pentagon and the US intelligence complex are loathe to give up bases in Afghanistan, which provide a forward operating platform in relation to China, Iran, South Asia and the energy-rich former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

A National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan, representing the consensus view of the 16 US intelligence agencies, was presented to the White House at the end of last year. It warned, according to the Washington Post, that if all US forces are withdrawn, the country will “descend into chaos quickly,” with large territories falling under the control of the Taliban and other anti-government forces and increasing challenges to its control over the capital of Kabul. The newspaper said that the report indicated that whatever gains had been made by the Obama administration’s military “surge” in Afghanistan would be “significantly eroded by 2017,” even if the residual US force remains.

While the Obama administration is anxious to get an agreement to keep troops in Afghanistan until 2024 and beyond, the American people are overwhelmingly against it. A CNN poll made public two weeks ago showed nearly three quarters of the population opposing any US troops remaining in Afghanistan after 2014. More than half indicated that troops still in the country should be pulled out sooner than next December.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has concluded that the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter last month in which six US troops were killed was the result of armed action by the Taliban, CNN reported. It was the single deadliest incident in all of 2013 and the worst casualty incident since another helicopter crash killed seven Americans and four Afghans in August 2012.

At least 2,164 US troops have been killed in the Afghanistan war, two thirds of them since February 2009, when President Barack Obama announced the initiation of his military “surge.”

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British government attacks free speech


This video from England says about itself:

10 July 2012

4th of July Independence FROM America demonstration at the US base at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, organised by CAAB: the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases.

We hear a lot about US occupations of other countries, but little about the military occupation of Britain by the US. Menwith Hill is run by America as a spy base, with the ability to listen in to all our phone calls and intercept our emails, and claims the name ‘RAF Menwith Hill‘ rather than the more appropriate ‘USAF’ on account of its sole British military officer. All the rest are American.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

New anti-protest law is an attack on democracy

Wednesday 8th January 2014

Government revives 120-year-old legislation to stop campaigners targeting US military bases

A Labour MP launched a scathing attack yesterday on the introduction of new draconian laws targeting protesters at US military bases in Britain – without Parliament’s approval.

The government is using legislation enacted over 120 years ago to bypass Parliament and leave protesters open to “arrest without warrant.”

Leeds North East Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who has challenged the laws in the Commons, branded the laws “outrageous and undemocratic” and said he believed they were being implemented at the behest of the United States.

The laws ban activity such as putting up a tent near the bases, using a caravan, taking photographs and bizarre “offences” such as failing to clean up after a dog defecates.

Peace campaigners say two of the US bases targeted for the laws are currently unoccupied and unused.

They fear the laws are being introduced to prepare the ground for the bases’ use as the US military steps up deployment of unmanned drones to attack targets around the world.

The two deserted bases are at Croughton near Milton Keynes and an adjacent site at Barford St John.

Nominally the two are RAF bases, owned by the Ministry of Defence, but like dozens of other such bases in Britain they are handed over to the United States military.

The by-laws are being introduced at 150 military facilities by the Ministry of Defence through the Military Lands Act 1892, which enables it to bypass Parliament.

Long-time peace campaigner Lindis Percy said the by-laws themselves are not draconian – by-laws carry limited punishments, and exclude imprisonment.

But Ms Percy, who is co-ordinator of the Yorkshire-based Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB), queried why the laws were being introduced, particularly at unused bases.

Ms Percy said: “I went to Barford St John a couple of months ago. It was very insecure, just a sheep fence. The security cameras are not working. There is nobody there.”

She said one “obvious answer” for the new by-laws was an anticipated increase in deployment of drones for US warfare.

And Mr Hamilton said: “I think that is a very plausible explanation. I would not be surprised.”

Mr Hamilton, who has raised questions in the Commons about the lack of accountability of US bases in Britain many times, said: “We have handed over parts of England to a foreign power with no legitimacy or democratic accountability to the people of this country. Part of the sovereign territory of our country is no longer under the control of democratically elected representatives.

“Who has debated introduction of these by-laws? No-one. I think it is outrageous. I am not being anti-American. I just care deeply about accountability and democracy. The Americans would never allow this to happen on their territory.”

See also here.

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