#HRC27: Letter from Bahraini Child Political Prisoner Read at the Council
On 16 September, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy’s Advocacy Associate, Amanda Milani, read a letter from Bahraini child political prisoner, Jehad Sadeq, during an oral intervention at the 27th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva under Item 3. Please continue reading for full remarks or click here to download a PDF.
Text of the Intervention
“Thank you, Mr. President,
Alsalam Foundation, acting in coordination with Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, would like to present to the Human Rights Council excerpts from a letter written by Jehad Sadeq, a Bahraini youth currently imprisoned on charges of terrorism. Mr. Sadeq alleges that he was convicted on the basis of a confession obtained by means of torture, and that the Government of Bahrain has failed to investigate his allegations as required by the Convention against Torture.
Dear Honored Delegates,
I was arrested while participating in a peaceful protest when I was 16 years old. During interrogation, I was beaten and humiliated until I confessed. I wasn’t allowed to contact my family, and my lawyer was not allowed to attend my interrogations. Despite this, my trial went on, and I was tried under terrorism law although I was a child. I was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for a crime I did not commit.
My hobbies were photography, sports and traveling… I wished to graduate from high school and go to university with my friends to study engineering. Instead, I was deprived from doing what I love and pursuing my education. I would have now been in my freshman year at university, not in prison. I should be a student, not a political prisoner.
In Bahraini prisons there are many cases similar to mine. Therefore, in this letter, I’m addressing you on behalf of all detained children. I appeal to you to help us and act for our case by advising and pressuring the Bahraini government to release me and all other children that languish in prisons.
My friends and I will be waiting eagerly for your reply and your help to have us released.
On the occasion of the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council, the above-named human rights organizations join with Jehad Sadeq in calling upon the Bahraini government to release all child political prisoners in the country.
This video says about itself:
G4S in ‘Torture’ Claims Probe at Mangaung Correctional Centre, South Africa
28 okt. 2013
The Wits Justice Project – part of the journalism department of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg – obtained footage showing alleged abuse inside the high security prison. In addition, a staff member at the prison hospital said inmates were injected with Clopixol Depot, Risperdal, Etomine and Modecate – anti-psychotic drugs that can cause memory loss, muscle rigidity and strokes. The South African government took over operations from G4S after finding it had “lost effective control over the prison” in the wake of a series of stabbings, riots, strikes and a hostage taking.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Campaign pleads for Labour to shun G4S
Tuesday 16th September 2014
Manchester Stop G4S campaigners will stage a demonstration outside the conference venue from noon to 2pm on Sunday and are also running a petition demanding Greater Manchester Council stop employing the firm.
Spokesman John Nicholson said: “Our personal security and the security of public spaces cannot and should not be protected by a company that fails to uphold standards of ethical and commercial provision in this country and across the world.”
In 1980 the city employed 30,000 people to run its services. Now the figure is 5,000 as most services have been handed to private firms including G4S.
PROTESTERS set up a cage with a prisoner inside in protest over Labour’s employment of disgraced security firm G4S at its annual conference in Manchester this week: here.
Papua New Guinea: G4S failed to meet ‘basic human rights’ at Manus Island: here.
This video is called UK Complicit in 11,000 flights of ILLEGAL TORTURE.
By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:
Government changing the story on rendition flight records
Saturday 13th September 2014
LEGAL action charity Reprieve accused the government of changing its story yet again yesterday over the fate of potentially compromising flight records relating to Britain’s role in the United States’ rendition programme.
Reprieve is seeking access to documents relating to US rendition flights passing through the British territory of Diego Garcia.
In 2008, after years of denials, the British government admitted that Diego Garcia had been used as a stop-off for two rendition flights.
However, in July the government informed Parliament that flight records for Diego Garcia were “incomplete due to water damage.”
A week later, on July 15, Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds told the Commons that “previously wet paper records have been dried out … no flight records have been lost as a result of the water damage.”
But yesterday the government’s position appeared to shift again with the confirmation in a statement given to the Commons foreign affairs committee that immigration records relating to civilians landing on the island have been destroyed.
Reprieve argues that, although there is no indication of the identities of the civilians concerned, such records are potentially significant as they could relate to the civilian CIA agents who operated the “rendition” flights.
Legal director at Reprieve Cori Crider said: “This is the second time the government has changed its story on the destruction of what is potentially evidence of CIA renditions via Diego Garcia.
“People will rightly draw the conclusion that the government still has something to hide when it comes to the UK’s role in supporting CIA torture flights.”
This video is called The Junta’s Police State: Thailand on the Brink (Dispatch 5). It says about itself:
2 July 2014
It’s been over a month since Thailand’s army overthrew the country’s elected government in a coup d’etat. In that short time, the new ruling junta has secured almost total control over the country and succeeded in silencing most of its critics.
Thailand has quickly come to resemble a police state, as hundreds of people have been detained, “invited to talk,” or “given time to meditate,” as the junta puts it. Most are released after a week — at which point they have signed a document indicating their promise not to oppose the coup, or face years in jail. Others have been sent to military courts for judgment, where no appeal is allowed.
Authorities have offered cash rewards for anyone who can bring them a photo of their fellow citizens taking part in anti-coup activities. Hand salutes, eating sandwiches, and reading controversial books in public are now illegal if they are considered to be motivated by anti-coup sentiments, and the media continues to be heavily censored.
The junta says 90 percent of Thais support the coup — which is a questionable number, having come from their own surveys.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Rights group calls for end to Thai junta’s supression of dissent
Friday 12th September 2014
The rights group said it had received credible reports that detainees had been tortured.
“Three months since the coup, a picture emerges from our investigations of widespread and far-reaching human-rights violations perpetrated by the military government that are still ongoing,” Amnesty Asia-Pacific director Richard Bennett said.
“The Thai authorities should end this disturbing pattern of repression, end human-rights violations, respect its international human-rights obligations and allow open debate and discussion — all of which are vital to the country’s future.”
The army has justified the May 22 takeover claiming that it had to act to restore stability after months of political protests which paralysed the former government and triggered sporadic violence which had left dozens of people dead and close to 1,000 injured.
Since then, the junta has shown no tolerance for dissent and crushed open debate on the nation’s fate. Martial law is in effect and political assemblies of more than five people are banned.
Amnesty said 665 people have been summoned or detained by the junta so far. A breakdown of those targeted indicated “a clear case of political persecution and an attempt to silence dissent.”
The vast majority were politicians who opposed the coup, along with academics, activists and protesters.
Amnesty said they were held without charge or trials and security forces had revoked passports and threatened family members.
By Thomas Gaist in the USA:
9 September 2014
The CIA engaged in brutal torture that brought prisoners to the brink of death, according to a report published over the weekend in the British newspaper, the Telegraph. The methods used far exceed what has been previously acknowledged by the CIA and the Bush and Obama administrations.
“They weren’t just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth,” said an unnamed source who had “first-hand knowledge of the period,” according to the Telegraph. “They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far. This was real torture.”
“They got medieval on his ass, and far more so than people realize,” he added, referring to one of the individuals tortured.
In 2008, the Bush administration publicly acknowledged the use of “waterboarding” several years earlier against alleged terrorists, including Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to the torture 83 times, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was tortured 183 times.
A 2004 CIA internal document, released in 2009, described what the Bush administration euphemistically referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Waterboarding was described as a method in which water is sprayed on detainees’ faces for “no more than 20 seconds” to “simulate drowning.” As revealed by the Telegraph’s source, however, Mohammed and Zubaydah were subject to much harsher methods.
The interrogation sessions referred to by the Telegraph source were videotaped, but some 90 tapes containing the torture footage were destroyed in 2005 by US intelligence personnel under the supervision of the then-head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, Jose Rodriguez. In 2010, the Obama administration announced that it would not file criminal charges relating to the destruction of the tapes.
The Telegraph article makes clear that the tapes destroyed in 2005 showed that “enhanced interrogation” was being supplemented by unambiguous acts of torture, implicating CIA agents and Bush administration officials in clear and direct crimes under both international and domestic law.
The revelations come as the US Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to release a more than 3,000-page report on CIA torture. A summary of the report is set to be published in the coming weeks after being thoroughly vetted and redacted by intelligence officials.
In March, Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed that CIA agents had spied on the computers of Senate staff who were involved in compiling the report, a violation of US law and the Constitutional separation of powers. This was part of a broader effort by the CIA to cover up its illegal actions, a cover-up that has been aided and abetted by the White House.
The Obama administration responded by seeking to defend the CIA, operating as a direct agency of the intelligence bureaucracy. The White House itself was implicated in efforts to withhold key documents from the Senate.
After expressing transparently contrived regrets that “we tortured some folks” during a press conference last month, Obama immediately proceeded to signal the solidarity of his administration with the countless high-ranking US government personnel involved with the CIA’s secret international network of torture centers. Obama declared his “full confidence” in CIA Director Brennan, who was a central player in the crimes documented by the Senate report while serving as a top counterterrorism official under the Bush administration.
In doing so, Obama was only reaffirming the position that it will hold no one accountable for the massive crimes, including torture.
The Obama administration has also explicitly defended the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, who is overseeing the CIA’s redaction of the Senate report. Clapper committed perjury when he issued blanket denials of unconstitutional domestic spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), which he also oversees, during Congressional hearings. These lies were exposed in subsequent revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In an official statement totaling three sentences, Clapper rebuked Feinstein’s mild objections to the CIA redactions, writing, “More than 85 percent of the Committee Report has been declassified. The redactions were the result of an extensive and unprecedented interagency process, headed up by my office, to protect sensitive classified information.”
Clapper himself personifies the decomposition of American democracy: after lying to the US Senate directly and having his lying clearly exposed, he remains in charge of declassifying what is one of the most significant reports on criminal activity to be released by the US government in the country’s entire history.
For her part, Feinstein, who initially denounced the CIA spying, quickly reeled in her rhetoric. By midsummer Feinstein announced her support for the decision of the Justice Department not to launch an investigation, while praising CIA Director John Brennan for taking steps in the right direction.
What the Telegraph article and the political crisis over the Senate report reveal is a government and state apparatus that is steeped in criminality. The intelligence agencies operate as a law unto themselves, rejecting any oversight or accountability.
No one can be held accountable because the entire government, including high-ranking officials in the intelligence agencies and the military, along with the top officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations and leading Congressional figures in both political parties, are implicated.
See also here.
2004 Bush administration memos advocate unlimited presidential powers: here.
This video says about itself:
Iraq’s sectarian war | James Steele: America’s mystery man | Guardian Investigations
James Steele: America’s mystery man in Iraq. A 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic revealed how retired US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture centres in Iraq.
Another special forces veteran, Colonel James Coffman, worked with Steele and reported directly to General David Petraeus, who had been sent into Iraq to organise the Iraqi security services.
By Will Stone in Britain:
Trigger-happy MPs heading for catastrophe
Thursday 4th September 2014
Trigger-happy politicians were told to learn from recent history yesterday as they mulled military intervention against so-called Islamic State (Isis) militants.
Peace campaigners warned another war in the region would be “an absolute catastrophe.”
But PM David Cameron told a sombre House of Commons that Britain would not be “cowed” in the wake of the beheading of a second US journalist, Steven Sotloff, and a threat from Isis that a British hostage will be next.
The same Briton who killed US journalist James Foley, nicknamed “jihadi John,” was thought to be behind Tuesday’s murder.
Meanwhile Labour’s Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, insisted that Britain should join the US air strikes against Isis.
Mr Straw believed “pressure for some kind of military involvement” would build up given the fresh threat to British hostages.
But he sought to downplay the disastrous impact of the 2003 invasion, saying Britain should learn from the past but not be paralysed by it.
He said: “Any escalation of the attack on Iraq would be an absolute catastrophe. It’s unbelievable that politicians are even considering going there in light of the disaster that has been caused by the previous intervention in Iraq.
“They’ve clearly learned absolutely nothing from recent history. The only possible consequence of further intervention would be greater bitterness towards the Western powers and it will no doubt strengthen militant resolve rather than neutralise it.”
He told the Star: “We have been involved in a series of wars since 2001. This has only served to encourage militancy elsewhere and, in the case of the Middle East, the growth of the Isis forces.”
Mr Cameron likened the fight against Islamic extremism to the cold war during PMQs, adding that it was a “struggle” that would last for “decades.”
Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths suggested that all assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish governments should be sanctioned and co-ordinated by the UN, rejecting another Nato “intervention.”
See also this Mark Fiore cartoon from the USA.
This video says about itself:
Legal bid over MI5 torture guidance
A British human rights group has launching legal action against the government over guidelines the UK’s intelligence agencies on how to interrogate prisoners held overseas.
Alan Fisher reports from London.
(Feb 23, 2010)
From AFP news agency:
Britain accused of conniving at torture of Maoists in Nepal’s civil war
Author says MI6 assisted Nepalese army as it carried out gross human rights violations in war with Maoist rebels
Sunday 31 August 2014 04.18 BST
British authorities have been accused of funding a four-year intelligence operation in Nepal that led to Maoist rebels being arrested, tortured and killed during the country’s civil war.
Thomas Bell, the author of a new book on the conflict, says MI6 funded safe houses and provided training in surveillance and counter-insurgency tactics to Nepal’s army and spy agency, the National Investigation Department (NID) under “Operation Mustang”, launched in 2002.
Nepal’s decade-long civil war left more than 16,000 dead, with rebels and security forces accused of serious human rights violations including killings, rapes, torture and disappearances.
“According to senior Nepalese intelligence and army officials involved in the operation, British aid greatly strengthened their performance and led to about 100 arrests,” said Bell, whose book Kathmandu is released in south Asia on Thursday.
“It’s difficult to put an exact number on it, but certainly some of those who were arrested were tortured and disappeared,” he said.
Maoist commander Sadhuram Devkota, known by his nom-de-guerre Prashant, was among those captured during Operation Mustang, in November 2004. Six weeks later, he was found hanging from a low window in his cell. Officials said he had committed suicide.
Despite protests, no independent investigation was ever carried out.
British authorities helped construct a bug-proof building in the NID headquarters, created a secure radio network for communications and supplied everything from cameras to computers to mobile phones and night vision binoculars, according to Bell’s sources in the Nepalese security establishment.
“The agency also sent a small number of British officers to Nepal, around four or five – some tied to the embassy, others operating separately,” Bell said.
The officers gave the Nepalese training in how to place bugs, how to penetrate rebel networks and how to groom informers.
Bell spent about a year interviewing some 20 highly-placed sources to corroborate the details of the operation, and said a senior western official told him the operation was cleared by Britain’s Foreign Office.
A Nepalese general with close knowledge of the operation told Bell there was no doubt British authorities realised that some of the arrested suspects would be tortured and killed.
“Being British they must have thought about human rights also, but they knew exactly what was happening to them,” the general said. “The thing must have been approved at a high level.”
Bell said it was “a peculiar contradiction that while calling for an end to abuses … the British were secretly giving very significant help in arresting targets whom they knew were very likely to be tortured”.
Bell covered Nepal’s civil war from 2002 to 2007, reporting for the Economist and the South China Morning Post.
Tejshree Thapa, senior researcher at the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, told AFP: “Nepal’s army was known by 2002 to be an abusive force, responsible for … summary executions, torture, custodial detentions.
“To support such an army is tantamount to entrenching and encouraging abuse and impunity.”
The Bullet and the Ballot Box: The Story of Nepal’s Maoist Revolution, by Aditya Adhikari (Verso, £20). Book review here.