‘Abu Ghraib’ for refugees in Germany


This video is called Photos show abuse of asylum seekers by security guards in Germany.

By Christoph Dreier in Germany:

Abu-Ghraib-like” torture of refugees exposed in Germany

1 October 2014

Reports from various German refugee facilities have revealed that residents are subjected to systematic torture and humiliation. Last weekend, videos and pictures emerged showing the serious mistreatment of refugees by security staff at one facility. One short video shows a refugee lying on a mat covered with vomit. The refugee asks someone off camera why they are hitting him.

“Do you want another? Should I kick you in the face, or what?” responds the security guard. “Then I do not need to beat you.” His colleague orders the victim to lie down in the vomit.

The video was shot in the refugee camp in Burbach in North Rhine Westphalia, and was leaked to a journalist, who then alerted the police. During a search of the security guards’ day room, police discovered a baton and a knuckleduster.

Police officers also found more images on the mobile phone of a security guard. In one picture, disseminated via WhatsApp, a security guard can be seen pushing his boot into the neck of a refugee lying on the ground, handcuffed.

The images revealed “A touch of Abu Ghraib,” a headline in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper acknowledged, while Bild stated: “These images remind us of Abu Ghraib.”

The police are investigating six security guards for aggravated assault in Burbach. Two of them have previous convictions. In addition, the police have said an employee at a refugee camp in Essen and another in Bad Berleburg are being investigated for assaulting and beating residents. A total of eleven investigations are currently underway.

The WDR news programme Westpol showed a doctor’s certificate regarding the injuries of a resident at the Essen home. “They mistreat us here”, a refugee told the programme. “The security staff have transformed this home into a prison. They hit us. And especially if you complain. They do what they want with us. They treat us as if we had no rights.”

On Tuesday, the regional newspaper Siegerland Kurier published excerpts from an anonymous interview conducted with one of the guards from Burbach, who can be heard in the video. The employee, whose name was changed by the editors to S., leaves no doubt that the abuse of refugees is systematic in the refugee system. Attacks, as documented on the video, have always taken place, he told the newspaper.

This could be for violations of the ban on cigarettes and alcohol. His colleagues were really keen to catch residents for such infringements, he said. “They walked round the hallways sniffing at doors. If they smelled cigarette smoke, the room was stormed,” explains S. The guards doing this described themselves as “SS-troops;” i.e., Nazi storm troopers. Many of his co-workers had a “clearly visible right-wing background,” he said.

The scenes shown in the video took place in the so-called “problem room”. This is where residents were taken if they “made trouble” or asked questions. They were locked in the room for up to eight hours. In some cases they were denied the use of the toilet, and had to urinate out the window.

According to S., at least some police officers who were called about disputes between residents welcomed the abuse. “One once said: The next time, we’ll pick them up after you’ve worked them over for five hours,” S. recalled. The officer had been called to arrest a resident detained by the security staff.

The Siegerland Kurier also published photos from the camp at Burbach. They show sanitary facilities smeared with feces and menstrual blood, rubbish-strewn corridors and injured residents. S. reported that it often took days until defects were rectified. Medical care was often not provided.

The refugee camp in Burbach was established last year at an old barracks. It was meant to provide accommodation for 500 people, but is now home to 700 refugees. Acuh, the Essen camp, is seriously overcrowded, with 650 residents in a facility meant for 300.

Both camps are run by the for-profit company “European Homecare”, which operates a total of 40 camps and is considered the market leader in the sector. The security service at Burbach was first outsourced by “European Homecare” to the firm “ESS”, and then to “SKI Security”.

The terrible conditions in the refugee camps and their systematic character have shocked people throughout Germany. At the same time, politicians of all parties have cynically tried to downplay the events.

The North Rhine Westphalia state Interior Minister Ralf Jäger (SPD, Social Democratic Party) described the torture by security guards as “mistakes by individual criminals”. Criminals had infiltrated the security company, he told broadcaster ZDF. This was “reprehensible, but sometimes not preventable, despite all the checks, despite all the supervision”. Nevertheless, he declared, “we need more controls” and “our partners have not complied with all contractual conditions”.

Federal Interior Minister Thomas De Maizière (CDU, Christian Democratic Union) also tried to downplay the scandal. He was sure that “the state of North Rhine Westphalia would correct these deficiencies without delay”. On Monday, government spokesman Steffen Seibert announced a rapid investigation and stressed that Germany was “a philanthropic country”.

Opposition representatives mainly criticised the lack of finance for the refugee accommodations, without making any serious criticism of Germany’s brutal asylum regime. The parliamentary leader of the Greens, Kathrin Göring-Eckardt, demanded that the government “consider as soon as possible” which buildings it could provide for the initial reception of refugees. In addition, “it must provide financial relief for the federal states and municipalities”.

The Left Party domestic political spokesperson Ulla Jelpke, and Özlem Demirel, the state spokeswoman for the party in North Rhine Westphalia, both provided statements. Jelpke called for better financial support for the local authorities. “Local authorities must be able to provide care for asylum seekers, instead of placing this task in the hands of profit-oriented companies,” she said.

Demirel added, “I expect that not only the security guards responsible will be punished quickly, but that there will be major improvements in the standards of accommodation and the security staff. It must be excluded that right-wing extremists can work in refugee shelters with or without a uniform”.

In reality, the brutal acts of the security staff are not simply due to the poor financing of the accommodations or the result of a lack of control. Since the change to the asylum law in 1993, the situation of asylum seekers in Germany has systematically deteriorated. The use of inhumane treatment was part of a deliberate plan to deter further refugees and curb immigration.

Late last year, 350 refugees who were originally stranded on the Italian island of Lampedusa were seriously harassed by the Hamburg Senate (city/state government). The refugees were denied basic care, and even the Church was prohibited from providing this. At the same time, the Hamburg police organized a large-scale operation in the city, subjecting all dark-skinned people to ID controls.

There were several cases of police brutality against refugees in Berlin over the summer. …

The barbaric conditions in the refugee camps have been known for some time and are deliberate. Earlier reports revealed mass epidemics, the placing of refugees in dilapidated facilities and a lack of basic hygienic conditions. A UNICEF study severely criticised the German authorities for massive violations of the UN Children’s Convention in dealing with refugee children.

Bahraini torture police officer now in ISIS


This video is called Bahrain capital of torture.

The absolute monarchy Bahrain is now officially an ally in the Pentagon’s ‘war on terror’.

How about Bahrain and ISIS?

From Global Voices online today, about one Bahraini, Lieutenant Mohamed Isa Al-Binali:

Mohamed (abu-Isa) graduated from the Police Academy in 2013 and was supposed to be a prison guard in Bahrain’s infamous prisons, which have practiced systematic torture since 2011. Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior issued a statement saying that he was sacked from his job because of his absence earlier this month. According to Arabic-language news reports, he had been in the ranks of ISIS for over four months.

Mohamed comes from a famous family in Bahrain, the Binali clan, which is closely affiliated to the Al Khalifa ruling regime. His cousin, Turki Al-Binali, who goes by the alias Abu-Sufyan Al-Salami (Al-Salami refers to the tribe of Sulaim in Arabia), is a high ranking preacher in ISIS. Prior to holding this public position in the terror organisation, he was arrested and released many times before in Bahrain.

In the video that follows, you can see him leading a protest in front of the American Embassy in Bahrain; that protest was not attacked by the authorities like the opposition protests usually are. His books can also still be found in libraries and bookshops around Bahrain in a country which bans hundreds of websites which oppose the government.

The BinAli affiliation with ISIS is longstanding. In May, Turki published information of yet another of his cousins dying while fighting within ISIS. …

Many feel that the Bahrain government has turned a blind eye on the rise of ISIS sympathizers in the country. Prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab doesn’t mince his words. His message is clear:

Nabeel Rajab @NABEELRAJAB

many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator

12:55 PM – 28 Sep 2014

Bahrain consists of a Shia majority who have been complaining of marginalization for decades under the ruling Sunni royal family. In a response to a popular uprising in February 2011, “the Bahraini regime responded not only with violent force, but also by encouraging a nasty sectarianism in order to divide the popular movement and to build domestic and regional support for a crackdown,” wrote Mark Lynch at Foreign Policy.

While Bahrain has joined the coalition in its airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the environment of discrimination at home couldn’t be any worse. As Mr. Rajab explains:

Nabeel Rajab @NABEELRAJAB

Terrorism laws in #Bahrain & #Gulf were not used against #terrorists or #ISIS but against #human_rights defenders & prisoners of conscience

12:31 PM – 27 Sep 2014

… The ISIS threat against Bahrain coincides with similar messages to neighbouring countries, which too have turned a blind eye to the group, allowing it to fester and grow in ranks on their own soil.

On 1 October 2014, human rights defender and Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) Maryam Al-Khawaja will appear before the High Criminal Court on trumped up charges relating to an alleged assault on a lieutenant and policewoman at the Bahrain International Airport. Read Maryam Al-Khawaja’s testimony here. See also here.

On the day of her arrest at Bahrain International Airport, human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja tweeted: “Overheard guards saying they are going to deport me. They keep saying I am not a citizen.” Khawaja had travelled to Bahrain from Denmark on August 30 to support her imprisoned father, who’d just started a second round of hunger strike five days earlier. Her case highlights the threat now confronting some Bahraini opposition activists: The removal of their citizenship and subsequent deportation: here.

‘West silent on Bahraini rights abuse to retain military bases’: here.

It is the irony of ironies. A cadre of repressive monarchies is chosen to liberate the captive peoples of Iraq and Syria from the tyranny of ISIS. Combating a group known for its violent sectarianism, the five Arab allies ordered by the United States to participate in the bombing campaign against ISIS are themselves the region’s worst sectarian agitators. Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are now at the vanguard of efforts to dismantle an organization that is essentially of their own creation: here.

The governments of both Australia and Canada Friday formally joined the new war that Washington has launched in the Middle East, ostensibly for the purpose of crushing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): here.

British-US torture scandal in Iraq, Afghanistan


This video about Iraq war torture is the film Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Diplomat tells court US links not a bar to hearing torture case

Friday 26th September 2014

CLAIMS by the British government that a case brought by a Pakistani national alleging Britain’s involvement in his rendition and torture would damage US relations have been called into question.

Lawyers for the government had argued that a case brought by Yunus Rahmatullah, who was detained and mistreated by British personnel in Iraq before being handed over to the US for “rendition” to Afghanistan, should not be heard for fear of damaging British-US relations.

But in a statement yesterday presented to the High Court in London a former senior US ambassador and State Department official described the claims as “highly unlikely.”

The statement provided to the court by Thomas R Pickering, a former US under-secretary of state who served for four decades as a diplomat, said that the British government’s claims “misunderstand the value the United States places on the rule of law.”

Mr Pickering stressed that “I firmly believe that adjudicating Mr Rahmatullah’s case in UK courts is highly unlikely to cause damage to the relations or national security cooperation between the US and UK.”

After his 2004 capture Mr Rahmatullah maintains he was subjected to simulated drowning and beatings which rendered him unconscious.

He was later transferred to US custody in Bagdhad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, after which he was extra judicially transferred to Bagram in Afghanistan where he was held for more than years before being released without charge last June.

Mr Rahmatullah is now challenging the British government’s refusal to investigate his allegations of torture and rendition, and is also asking the court to determine that the government’s actions were unlawful.

Reprieve legal director Kat Craig, who is representing Mr Rahmatullah in conjunction with Leigh Day solicitors, said: “The British government knows that it is in the wrong, yet instead of coming clean on its part in Mr Rahmatullah’s rendition and torture, it is doing everything it can to make sure this case never sees the light of day.

“Now a former senior US ambassador with decades of experience at the highest levels of American diplomacy has blown the British government’s case out of the water. It is time they dropped this shameful attempt to deny justice to a victim of brutal torture and years of mistreatment.”

The case is expected to continue today.

New Afghan puppet regime accepts deal to keep 10,000 US troops: here.

CIA-Backed Warlord Behind 2001 Taliban POW Massacre Sworn-In Vice President of Afghanistan: here.

Bahraini child political prisoner’s letter


This video is about a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, where a letter by a Bahraini child political prisoner was read.

From the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy:

#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.

Jehad Sadeq

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.

Sincerely,

Jehad Sadeq

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.

Thank you.”

Britain and CIA torture flights update


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.”

Thailand military dictatorship violates human rights


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

Amnesty International called on Thailand’s military yesterday to end a “disturbing pattern of repression” since it seized power in May.

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.

Thai Military Bans Hunger Games Salute: What Protesters Can Take From Hollywood: here.