CIA covers up torture, US Senator Feinstein says


This video from the United States Senate says about itself:

Feinstein: CIA Spied on Senate Committee

11 March 2014

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is accusing the CIA of criminal activity in improperly searching a computer network set up for lawmakers investigating allegations that the agency used torture in terror investigations.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Dianne Feinstein launches scathing attack on CIA over alleged cover-up

Intelligence committee chair accuses CIA of intimidation

Feinstein alleges CIA broke law and violated constitution …

Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman in Washington

Tuesday 11 March 2014 14.46 GMT

The chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, on Tuesday accused the Central Intelligence Agency of a catalogue of cover-ups, intimidation and smears aimed at investigators probing its role in an “un-American and brutal” programme of post-9/11 detention and interrogation.

In a bombshell statement on the floor of the US Senate, Feinstein, normally an administration loyalist, accused the CIA of potentially violating the US constitution and of criminal activity in its attempts to obstruct her committee’s investigations into the agency’s use of torture. She described the crisis as a “defining moment” for political oversight of the US intelligence service.

Her unprecedented public assault on the CIA represented an intensification of the row between the committee and the agency over a still-secret report on the torture of terrorist suspects after 9/11. Resolution of the crisis, Feinstein suggested, may come this week at the White House.

Feinstein, who said she was making her statement “reluctantly”, confirmed recent reports that CIA officials had monitored computer networks used by Senate staff investigators. Going further than previously, she referred openly to recent attempts by the CIA to remove documents from the network detailing evidence of torture that would incriminate intelligence officers.

She also alleged that anonymous CIA officials were effectively conducting a smear campaign in the media to discredit and “intimidate” Senate staff by suggesting they had hacked into the agency’s computers to obtain a separate, critical internal report on the detention and interrogation programme.

Staff working on the Senate investigation have been reported to the Department of Justice for possible criminal charges by a lawyer at the CIA who himself features heavily in the alleged interrogation abuses. The CIA’s inspector general has another inquiry open into the issue.

Feinstein said this was a possible attempt at “intimidation” and revealed that CIA officials had also been reported to the Department of Justice for alleged violations of the fourth amendment and laws preventing them from domestic spying.

“This is a defining moment for the oversight role of our intelligence committee … and whether we can be thwarted by those we oversee,” said Feinstein in a special address on the floor of the the US Senate.

“There is no legitimate reason to allege to the Justice Department that Senate staff may have committed a crime… this is plainly an attempt to intimidate these staff and I am not taking it lightly.” …

The committee’s report is still classified, and several of its conclusions are sharply contested by the CIA.

Feinstein said that she would immediately appeal to the White House to declassify the report’s major findings. The White House, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, is formally on record as supporting the declassification, which the president has the power to order. …

On the Senate floor earlier, Patrick Leahy, chairman of the judiciary committee and the longest serving US senator, described Feinstein’s speech at the most important he had witnessed in his time in Congress.

“I cannot think of any speech by any member of any party as important as the one the senator from California just gave,” Leahy said.

Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, an intelligence committee member, said in a statement he applauded Feinstein for “setting the record straight today on the Senate floor about the CIA’s actions to subvert congressional oversight”.

Udall said: “The actions the chairman outlined are the latest events that illustrate why I directly pushed CIA director Brennan to acknowledge the flaws in and misrepresentations about the CIA’s brutal and ineffective detention and interrogation program.

“Unfortunately, the CIA responded by trying to hide the truth from the American people about this program and undermine the Senate intelligence committee’s oversight role by illegally searching committee computers.”

In her speech, Feinstein described repeated attempts by the CIA to frustrate the work of Senate investigators, including providing the committee staff with a “document dump” of millions of non-indexed pages, requiring years of work to sort through – a necessity, Feinstein said, after former senior CIA official Jose Rodriguez destroyed nearly 100 videotapes showing brutal interrogations of detainees in CIA custody.

“We are not going to stop our investigation and have sent our report to the president in the hope it can be declassified and published for the American people to see,” Feinstein said on the Senate floor.

She said the goal of declassifying the report, exposing the “horrible details of a CIA programme that never, never should have existed,” was to prevent torture from ever again becoming American policy.

Zeke Johnson of Amnesty International called on the White House to publish the committee’s report. “President Obama, who has claimed to have the most transparent administration in history, should move immediately to declassify and release the report. Otherwise, the legacy of torture he inherited will become his own,” he said.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Dianne Feinstein statement on CIA torture report ‘cover-up’ – full text

Senate intelligence committee chair accuses CIA of intimidation in effort to block publication of controversial torture report

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No Formula 1 in dictatorial Bahrain, activists say


This video is called Bahrain capital of torture.

From ANSA news agency in Italy:

Suspend Bahrain Formula 1 say human rights NGOs

NGOs call for urgent visit by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

05 March, 16:14

ROME, MARCH 5 – Human rights NGOs on January 14 urged the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to suspend the 2014 Formula One Grand Prix scheduled from April 4-6 in Bahrain, where a Sunni minority rules a Shiite majority with an iron fist.

The decision to hold the Formula One Grand Prix in the monarchy has provided the Bahraini government with ”the pretext to increase its systematic crackdown on protesters, journalists and human rights defenders.

As such, FIA bears “a unique ethical and moral responsibility to safeguard the integrity and reputation of motor sport worldwide by cancelling the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix until such abuses cease to exist”, human rights activists said.

Activists pointed to the direct correlation between intensified crackdowns on civilians and protesters during previous Formula One events in the country, with restrictive measures such as enclosing entire villages in barbed wire, setting up an excessive amount of police checkpoints, firing tear gas into residential areas, and jailing protesters.

In 2012, security forces killed protester Salah Abbas Habib on the first day of the Bahrain Grand Prix. There are currently more than 3,000 political prisoners behind bars in Bahrain, and there is no indication that such measures will not be used again during the 2014 Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, according to the NGOs.

The letter to FIA President Jean Todt was signed by Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the Bahrain Institutes for Rights and Democracy, Bahrain Watch, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and the European Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights.

FIA has yet to reply, human rights activists said, adding that in addition to targeting protesters, the Bahraini government’s restriction on free speech has led to the ongoing practice of denying journalists access to the country.

Journalists denied access to or deported from Bahrain during the Grand Prix include a news crew from UK Channel 4, who were deported in 2012, and an ITN news team, who were deported in 2013.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is presided by Nabeel Rajab, who has been in prison since July 9, 2012. He is serving a two-year sentence for protesting the government’s human rights violations, according to the NGO’s website.

It is also presided by Maryam al-Khawaja, whose father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has been sentenced to life in prison and who carried out a long hunger strike during the 2012 Formula One.

The 2011 Formula One was cancelled due to Arab Spring protests in Bahrain, which saw the Shiite majority demand more democratic rights, and which was quelled in blood with the help of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) troops.

Three years after that bloody crackdown and the repression of dissent that followed, the same NGOs on March 4 called on the international community to pressure Bahrain to grant the right to self-determination, the right to protest peacefully, and freedom of expression.

The human rights activists also asked for a UN-supervised independent commission of inquiry into suspicious deaths that have occurred since 2011, and called on the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to urgently visit the country. The call follows on the death in police custody of a protester, Jaffar al-Durazi, in the village of Daih, on the outskirts of Manama, which was followed by a March 3 bomb attack that killed an Emirati officer and two policemen during clashes between security forces and Shiite protesters, according to media reports.

The government responded by arresting 25 people and announcing it will give no quarter in its fight against terrorism. ”We do not justify violence under any circumstance, but we believe no form of violence justifies further violations of human rights”, the NGOs said in their appeal.

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Irish elderly peace activist jailed for opposing torture flights


This video from Ireland says about itself:

Free Margaretta D’Arcy protest at Leinster House

22 Jan. 2014

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance holds a protest calling for the release of jailed peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy (79).

This video from the USA is called Globalizing Torture: Ahead of Brennan Hearing, International Complicity in CIA Rendition Exposed.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Irish rally behind jailed peace activist Margaretta d’Arcy

Thursday 20th Febuary 2014

Irish politicians renewed their fight to free elderly peace campaigner Margaretta D’Arcy from prison.

The 79-year-old, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has cancer, was jailed in January for three months after blocking flights from Shannon airport.

Shannon was allegedly used as a stop-off point in the US extraordinary rendition programme.

Her arrest caused an uproar and serious concerns have been raised about her health.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams visited her last week and said he’d achieved assurances from Justice Minister Alan Shatter that Ms D’Arcy has “access to the full range of services in prison, including all medical services.”

Mr Adams said: “Nonetheless she is a frail and elderly woman with a serious medical condition who should not be in prison.

“Margaretta is taking a stand for Irish neutrality and for human rights and against the use of a civilian airport for military purposes, and the secret rendition of detainees to places of torture.”

Mr Adams said that both the Irish human rights commission and the UN committee against torture had condemned the government for its complicity in rendition, where terror suspects are illegally smuggled across international borders.

“Margaretta is not a criminal. She represents no threat to the public and it is outrageous that she should be still in prison. Margaretta D’Arcy should be released immediately,” he said.

Regular protests have been held calling for Ms D’Arcy’s release.

At a vigil on Wednesday outside Leinster House – the home of the Irish parliament – Unite union regional secretary Jimmy Kelly hit out at the charge on interfering with the “proper” use of Shannon airport.

“During the past decade, over two million US soldiers have passed through Shannon Airport, most on their way to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“That is not proper use of a civilian airport in a neutral state.

“During an eight-month period last year, over 350 foreign military aircraft were allowed to land at Shannon.

“That is not proper use of a civilian airport in a neutral state.”

This video is about a speech by Clare Daly, member of the Dáil in Ireland, against the incarceration of 79 year old peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy.

An 84-year-old nun was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday for her part in a protest break-in at a US nuclear material storage facility. Megan Rice was convicted of sabotage earlier this year along with two other peace activists for their 2012 protest at the Oak Ridge site, which holds weapons-grade uranium: here.

84-year-old nun sentenced to prison for “sabotaging” US preparations for war: here.

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Bahraini doctors tortured, solidarity in Ireland


This video is called Bahrain doctors .. jailed for treatment.

From the University Times in Ireland:

Silence is A War Crime

SoFIA Presents “Doctors in Bahrain: A Duty to Care”

Anna Nichols | Contributing Writer

Wednesday 5th February saw the Society for International Affairs and Diplomacy host one of its most ambitious and prevalent events to date when it held a panel discussion in the Innovation Academy concerning the political upheaval in Bahrain.

Unrest began in 2011, and has particularly affected the medical profession, but events have received little media. The guest speakers were Irish doctor and leader of a recent Irish humanitarian delegation to Bahrain Dr Damien McCormack, independent human rights activist Tara O’Grady, deputy director of Frontline Defenders Andrew Anderson and Bahraini doctor Dr Fatima Hajjim.

Although each speaker addressed a different aspect of the situation, all four guests acknowledged the importance of the event and its capacity to raise awareness of the abuses that continue to be carried out by the Bahraini regime, and to provide a forum for discussion where thoughts, questions and first hand accounts of the events could be exchanged.

Dr McCormack was the first to speak, focusing on the links between the Irish medical community and the situation in Bahrain. The community’s lack of response to the oppression, with the exception of a few groups, was criticised, which Dr McCormack asserted was indicative of the corruption and collusion that exists within the Irish medical profession, commenting that the influence of the Al-Khalifa regime that currently rules Bahrain reaches ‘all the way up to Stephen’s Green’. Dr McCormack discussed the connections the Royal College of Surgeons has with the Bahraini government, given its campus in Bahrain and the fact that the people running this ‘outrageous blackspot for human rights’ are the people ‘who have dinner with my colleagues’. He also outlined the inefficacy of international organisations such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court in instigating meaningful progress, while speaking of his encounters with torture victims and the development of torture techniques.

Dr Fatima Hajjim then gave an account of her personal experience and involvement in the uprising, speaking of being suspended from work, then being ‘dragged’ through a show trial before being imprisoned. She stated that events such as this were instrumental in giving a voice to the Bahraini people and medics, and for highlighting the fact that human rights abuses in Bahrain did not end in 2011. She told the harrowing story of a sixteen year old who disappeared the day she left Bahrain and the turmoil his family went through for nineteen days as vital information was kept from them by the Bahraini civil services. Dr Hajjiim lamented the militarisation of the medical field in Bahrain, affirming that it compromised the humanitarian nature of being a doctor, which could have disastrous consequences for future Bahraini doctors, since ‘having a heart to help people is something you can’t learn from books.’

Next to speak was Tara O’Grady, who emphasised the importance of exercising the right to freedom of expression, particularly given the lack of coverage of events, encouraging everyone to tweet using the hastag #3rdBahrain in order to further raise awareness of the situation. O’Grady also noted Bahrain had been a very peacful island until the 1920s with the discovery of oil, and that political turmoil was not unusual in Bahrain, with there being a revolution every ten years since then.

Finally, O’Grady discussed the regime’s brutal response to what has been consistently peaceful and unsectarian protest, in particular the unjustifiable assault and torture of women and children. O’Grady also expressed fears that Bahrain was setting a dangerous precedent for the regimental abuse of students, prompted by the arresting of patients and doctors and the militarisation of hospitals.
The final speaker, Andrew Anderson of Frontline Defenders, commented on the friendliness of the indigenous civilian Bahraini population, noting that the torture and show trials of medics, one of which meant a close friend of Anderson’s was unfairly sentenced to life imprisonment, truly exposed the brutality of the regime. Anderson also highlighted the fact that the direction of such brutality towards medics is an unprecedented feature of the current situation, while the media’s incorporation of events into the ‘Arab Spring narrative’ has lead to an absence of references to the issue in national media which is further reinforced when compared to the coverage of similar events in Kuwait in the early 1990s. Anderson also praised the protestors for remaining ‘overwhelmingly peaceful’ in the face of such repression, and reemphasised the responsibility that those of us living in free and democratic societies have in standing up for human rights defenders, given the significance of the impact they make on the ground in such places.

After the addresses, there was a question and answer session, where members of the audience quizzed the guests on a number of issues, including what Irish students could do to break down the lack of media coverage, the extent of the Al-Khalifa regime’s influence on RCSI and the unclear reasoning of Bahraini officials for releasing particular prisoners. After the discussion, the attendees headed to a reception in KC Peaches, where the principal topic of conversation continued to be the events in Bahrain, making it clear that the event had been successful in igniting a humanitarian spark within the minds of those who attended. Given the success of the event, it seems like SoFIA, who has been up and running for less than a year, is going from strength to strength, and is likely to be a serious contender at this year’s Society Awards.

If future events are as engaging and thought-provoking as this, SoFIA should remain a society to watch.

See also here.

Bahraini activists clashed with police as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets: here.

USA: Do We Care About People if They Live in Bahrain? Here.

Bahrain’s peaceful revolution starts its fourth year: here.

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Australian government censorship about torture


This video from Australia says about itself:

Australia deports Tamil torture victim back to Sri Lanka

2 Aug 2012

On July 26, Tamil refugee Dayan Anthony (formerly known as “Mr X” in Australia in an attempt to protect his identity from Sri Lankan authorities), was deported from Australia. He was handed over to the Sri Lankan intelligence forces – who had held Mr Anthony in custody for years, and had tortured him.

After 16 hours in custody, paraded in front of the media by his captors, he recanted all allegations of torture – despite suffering in Australia from post-traumtic stress found to be from torture, and having suffered a broken back as a result of torture.

Melbourne refugee activists and the Tamil community outline the horror of the Australian government sending a torture victim back to their oppressor – and the battle against such deportations. Get involved with http://rac-vic.org or the refugee action group in your state.

By Mike Head in Australia:

Witch-hunt against Australian ABC escalates over refugee torture allegations

8 February 2014

As evidence continues to emerge indicating that the Australian navy may have assaulted refugees, deliberately causing burns, during operations to force them back to Indonesia, the government is intensifying its witch-hunt of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) for reporting the accusations.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday demanded that the ABC apologise for broadcasting video footage of the refugees’ badly burned hands and for suggesting that the injuries supported the allegations initially made by asylum seekers to Indonesian police last month. Abbott accused the ABC for its reporting “in ways that were extremely damaging to the professionalism of our military personnel.”

Defence Minister David Johnston went further yesterday, saying he was “absolutely sick to the stomach that this iconic Australian news agency would attack the navy in the way that it has.” Describing naval personnel as “heroes,” he called for an inquiry into the ABC. At the same time he reiterated the government’s refusal to investigate the mounting evidence. In an extraordinary outburst pointing to the xenophobic nature of the government’s campaign, Johnston told the Australian newspaper that the refugees making the complaints were not “even Australian” and were “desperate people.”

The government’s campaign is aimed at defending its “Operation Sovereign Borders” policy, which is in blatant violation of refugees’ right under international law to flee persecution and oppression. More broadly, Abbott and his colleagues are attempting to bully and threaten anyone who dares call into question the use of the military to trample over fundamental legal and democratic rights.

According to the Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan, the Abbott government has “internalised several lessons” from the October 2001 “children overboard” scandal, in which the previous Liberal-National government of John Howard was exposed, by leaks from sailors themselves, after it falsely claimed that refugees had thrown children into the ocean to force the navy to rescue them. The truth was that the navy, under the government’s order, had fired shots toward their boat, which sank the following day, throwing its passengers into the water (see: “Australian navy opens fire on refugee boat”).

The “children overboard” accusations, which were fully backed by the Labor Party, became a turning point in the demonisation of refugees in the lead-up to the 2001 federal election. However the lies unravelled after the election, severely discrediting Howard’s government. Sheridan said the main political lesson drawn by the Liberal Party was that “everybody started leaking” to the media—a practice that had to stop.

Backed by the corporate media, the government is creating an atmosphere of wartime-like censorship in which any criticism of the military is to be forbidden.

The government’s threats to the ABC have been directly facilitated by figures within the broadcaster itself, most notably Paul Barry, the presenter of ABC TV’s “Media Watch” program. On Monday night, Barry proclaimed that the ABC had “got it wrong” and “over-reached” by “essentially endorsing the allegations of Navy mistreatment.”

Barry’s pronouncement reflects the rightward evolution of a layer of erstwhile liberals, who previously opposed the harsh treatment of refugees. They fell into line with the previous former Gillard Labor government which cynically justified its ramped-up “border protection” regime as a humanitarian policy to prevent people dying while trying to reach Australia’s shores. Now these elements are lurching further to the right.

Barry previously acquired something of a reputation for exposing the machinations of the corporate media, writing books on former media proprietors, Alan Bond and James Packer. Now he has aligned himself with a witch-hunt orchestrated by the same forces.

Fairfax Media, a traditional small “l” liberal platform, also weighed in. A Sydney Morning Herald editorial on January 30 declared that “the ABC’s handling of the ‘burnt hands’ claims was at times boosterish” and “damaged Australia’s reputation in the region.”

Likewise, opposition leader Bill Shorten rushed to declare that the Labor Party supports the military, while criticising the government for making the navy’s job “tougher” by keeping its operations secret. Greens spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young took a similar line, complaining that the government’s secrecy was “tarnishing the navy’s reputation.”

The ABC already functions as a reliable conduit for the Australian corporate and political establishment. It initially declined to report the complaints of burns and torture, which first surfaced on Indonesian news sites on January 7, and were published by Agence France Presse the next day. It was only then that the ABC felt compelled to report them—accompanied by vehement denials by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison of any wrongdoing.

The ABC’s supposed “overreach” occurred on January 22, when it published video footage that it noted “appears to back asylum seekers’ claims of mistreatment by the Australian Navy.”

Following Barry’s “Media Watch” verdict, ABC managing director Mark Scott issued a grovelling statement, saying: “We regret if our reporting led anyone to mistakenly assume that the ABC supported the asylum seekers’ claims.” Head of ABC news content Gaven Morris issued an edict to staff, warning them not to “embellish” or add “any flourish” to claims of mistreatment by “Australian border protection forces.”

None of this satisfied the government or the Murdoch press, which want nothing less than the reduction of the ABC to a pure propaganda outfit, giving unquestioned backing to the military. When Abbott was asked whether the controversy had been ended with the ABC’s statement, he replied: “I wonder why sorry seems to be the hardest word for them.”

The government’s opposition to any investigation of the alleged crimes carried out by the Australian military underscores its readiness to abrogate the most basic democratic and legal rights. Behind a blanket of secrecy, what is happening in the waters off the Australian coast is that some of the most vulnerable members of the international working class are being subjected to military detention, physically abused and dumped at sea in flimsy craft.

This is a warning of the kind of reactionary political atmosphere and methods that the government and the entire media and political establishment are preparing against the working class as a whole. There is not one rule for asylum seekers and another for working people at home.

It is no accident that the other supposed “crime” committed by the ABC was to publish former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s documents. They reveal not just US-backed spying on the people and governments throughout the Asia-Pacific region, but also the police-state surveillance being carried out domestically, with the US and Australian intelligence networks monitoring the phones and social media activity of millions of people.

The Abbott government is drawing up far-reaching budget cuts to social spending and supporting sweeping attacks on jobs, wages and conditions. The brutal treatment of refugees is a warning of the methods that will be used in the future against the resistance of workers and youth to these attacks on living standards.

The author also recommends:

Australian government joins international witch-hunt of Edward Snowden
[3 February 2014]

In an interview with Sydney Morning Herald journalist Michael Bachelard published yesterday, Sudanese refugee Yousif Ibrahim Fasher provided a further eye-witness account detailing Australian naval personnel physically assaulting and punishing asylum seekers who were attempting to reach Australia by boat: here.

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Canadian metal rockers protest against Pentagon abuse of their music as torture


This music video is called Harsh Stone White – Skinny Puppy.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Metal band Skinny Puppy send US government invoice after finding out their music was ‘used as torture device in Guantanamo Bay’

Christopher Hooton

Friday 31 January 2014

The US Army’s use of Metallica’s oeuvre as a tool in its interrogations in Iraq is well documented, but it opted for something a little more esoteric in Guantanamo Bay, according to one Canadian industrial metal band.

“We heard through a reliable grapevine that our music was being used in Guantanamo Bay prison camps to musically stun or torture people,” founder cEvin Key told the Phoenix New Times. “We heard that our music was used on at least four occasions.”

While Metallica politely asked the US military to stop using their music for the sleep deprivation of detainees, Skinny Puppy took it one step further.

“So we thought it would be a good idea to make an invoice to the US government for musical services,” Key added. “Thus the concept of the [band's new] record title, Weapons.”

Despite the band’s aggressive sound, they said they had never envisioned their music being used in such a way.

Asked how he felt about their songs allegedly being used in the detention camp, Key replied: “Not too good. We never supported those types of scenarios. … Because we make unsettling music, we can see it being used in a weird way. But it doesn’t sit right with us.”

See also here.

This Band Billed the Pentagon $660,000 For Using its Music to Torture GITMO Prisoners: here.

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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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CIA torture in Lithuania scandal


This video is called Revealing CIA‘s political secrets in Europe(2010).

From the Baltic Times:

Lithuanian prosecutor accused in Guantanamo Bay case

Jan 29, 2014

From wire reports, VILNIUS

Vilnius Regional Court has ruled that prosecutor unfoundedly refused to launch a pre-trial investigation into allegations that Mustafa al-Hawsawi was illegally transferred to and secretly detained and tortured in secret CIA detention centre in Lithuania in 2004-2006, says Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) in a statement.

In September last year HRMI and REDRESS submitted a complaint against prosecutors calling for an investigation into the allegations. The request was refused, and the NGOs appealed to Vilnius Circuit Court, which upheld the prosecutor’s decision.

The higher instance court, however, overruled the judgement and found that prosecutors hastily refused to open an inquiry. The court believed that before making a categorical conclusion that there was no crime committed, the prosecutor should have tried to question al-Hawsawi, currently kept in detention in Guantanamo, and send requests to US institutions.

“This judgement is of great significance on national as well as international level,” said HRMI’s representative Meta Adutaviciute. “It is a huge step forward in protecting human rights [in] Lithuania.”

Al-Hawsawi has not been able to bring a complaint himself, or provide any information to any organisation to bring a complaint on his behalf, because of strict classification rules in place in the United States. The complaint was therefore based on information obtained from public sources.

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Tony Blair’s ministers in Iraq war crimes case


This video is called ‘Beatings & Burning’: Dossier accusing UK of Iraq war crimes goes to ICC.

It says about itself:

14 Jan 2014

The ICC has been urged to investigate the alleged war crimes of UK politicians during the Iraq conflict. A dossier detailing reports of sexual assault, torture and mock executions carried out by British soldiers in Iraq has been submitted to the Court. READ MORE: here.

By Jean Shaoul in Britain:

Ex-UK minister of defence and former army chief of staff named in Iraq war crimes case

21 January 2014

Britain has been referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague over allegations of war crimes committed during the occupation of Iraq. There was a call for an ICC investigation under Article 15 of the Rome Statute into the actions of senior British officials during the conflict.

The submission specifically names the former chief of staff General Sir Peter Wall and two ministers in Tony Blair’s Labour government, former defence secretary Geoff Hoon and former defence minister Adam Ingram, as officials who should have to answer claims about the systematic use of torture and cruelty.

The secretary general of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Wolfgang Kaleck, said, “With the current communication to the ICC we want to move forward the criminal prosecution against those political and military leaders in the UK who bear the most responsibility for systematic torture in Iraq.”

The formal complaint, The Responsibility of UK Officials for War Crimes Involving Systematic Detainee Abuse in Iraq from 2003-2008, was lodged by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and the ECCHR with the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor. It says that its 250-page submission, the result of years of work by both organisations, “is the most detailed ever submitted to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor on war crimes allegedly committed by British forces in Iraq.”

The ECCHR said that given the scope and scale of the crimes carried out between 2003 and 2008, the responsibility and blame lay at the feet of “individuals at the highest levels” of the British Army and political system. UK military commanders “knew or should have known” that forces under their control “were committing or about to commit war crimes,” but failed to act. “Civilian superiors knew or consciously disregarded information at their disposal, which clearly indicated that UK services personnel were committing war crimes in Iraq.”

The report cites evidence from more than 400 Iraqis, representing “thousands of allegations of mistreatment amounting to war crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”. They included “hooding” prisoners, burning, electric shocks, “cultural and religious humiliation”, sexual assault, mock executions, threats of rape, death, and torture, both against the victims and their families.

There is, according to the authors, evidence of the “systematic use of brutal violence that in some cases led to the death of detainees while in the custody of UK Services Personnel.”

It claims “there is evidence of brutality combined with cruelty and forms of sadism, including sexual abuse, and sexual and religious humiliation”, and points to the widespread use of hooding, forcing people to remain in painful stress positions, sleep deprivation, noise bombardment and deprivation of food and water.

One victim who suffered more than 60 punches to his head said that a soldier brought the prisoner’s eight-year-old son into the room and started slapping the boy about the face and shouting at him. Another victim who was hooded said, “Sand kept coming into the hood. It was extremely uncomfortable and difficult to breathe…. We were left to kneel in the sun for hours. If I moved position and bent my head forward at all, a soldier would come and kick me hard.”

These interrogation techniques were widely used by British soldiers against IRA prisoners in Northern Ireland until public outrage led to their being banned in 1972. The army ignored the ban, and it was not included in the 2001 Ministry of Defence guidelines on the treatment of prisoners.

The report says that there are “clear patterns” of the banned techniques being used “in a variety of different UK facilities [in Iraq]…from 2003 to 2008,” and that “failures to follow-up on or ensure accountability for ending such practices became a cause of further abuse. The obvious conclusion is that such mistreatment was systematic.”

This pattern of abuse by UK military services personnel continued over almost six years of military occupation.

Britain’s practices were not very different from those of the infamous US torture prison, Abu Ghraib.

In submitting his report, Kaleck made the point, “The International Criminal Court in The Hague is the last resort for victims of torture and mistreatment to achieve justice. Double standards in international criminal justice must end. War crimes and other severe violations of human rights must be investigated and prosecuted, regardless of whether they are committed by the most powerful.”

Almost all or most of the ICC’s indictees have been African head of states or officials, while the US, which is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, and the other major powers get off scot-free and use the court to target figures hostile to their interests. The ICC has turned a blind eye to the most blatant human rights abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, the West Bank and Gaza, where their perpetrators are protected by a US veto at the United Nations Security Council.

In 2006, the ICC’s then-prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said that he had received more than 240 complaints relating to alleged war crimes during the Iraq war and occupation, mostly by the US and Britain. He concluded that there was little doubt that wilful killing and inhuman treatment, crimes that fell within the ICC’s jurisdiction, had been committed. He refused to mount an investigation because of the small number of cases—fewer than 20. Since then, hundreds of other claims have surfaced, making a mockery of his decision.

Legal experts have backed the referral to the ICC. Professor William Schabas, an expert on human rights law at Middlesex University, said, “There is definitely a case for an investigation by the ICC.” Professor Andrew Williams, a law expert at the University of Warwick, said the complaint amounts to “a prima facie investigation mapped out for the prosecutor” and is “supported by sophisticated legal argument which adheres to the requirements of the [ICC].” Williams is the author of A Very British Killing: the Death of Baha Mousa.

The officials concerned, Wall, Hoon and Ingram, have declined to comment.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said there was no need for the ICC to investigate the allegations. “These allegations are either under investigation already or have been dealt with already in a variety of ways, through the historic abuses system that has been established, through public inquiries, through the UK courts or the European courts.”

“There have been some cases of abuse that have been acknowledged and apologies and compensation have been paid appropriately,” he added. “But the government has always been clear and the armed forces have been clear that they absolutely reject allegations of systematic abuses by the British armed forces.” The Ministry of Defence said, “We reject the suggestion the UK’s Armed Forces—who operate in line with domestic and international law—have systematically tortured detainees.”

They are all lying through their teeth. The government has resisted every effort to be held to account for its infamous practices in Iraq.

Baha Mousa, a hotel worker, was brutally beaten to death while in British custody on September 15, 2003. Corporal Donald Payne was found guilty at a court martial in 2007 of inhumane treatment. He was sentenced to just one year in jail. Six of his colleagues, including his commanding officer, Colonel Jorge Mendonca, were cleared of serious charges relating to Mousa’s death. The government was forced to hold a public inquiry, which when it reported in 2011 was a whitewash.

Apart from this one conviction, as Phil Shiner, the lead lawyer in PIL, which compiled the report, said: “Nobody has been found guilty of anything of any seriousness at all.”

Yet in July 2010, the High Court ruled in response to an appeal case brought by Shiner to order a public inquiry into claims by more than 200 Iraqi civilians that they were systematically abused and mistreated while in detention, “There is an arguable case that the alleged ill-treatment [of Iraqis] was systemic, and not just at the whim of individual soldiers.”

The government was forced to establish the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) in 2010. In three years, it has spent £15 million hiring former detectives employed by multinational security corporations to investigate. It has completed just 6 out of 144 cases on its books, fining one soldier a measly £3,000 fine for badly beating an Iraqi, which was captured on video.

This is in addition to the long-running Al-Sweady inquiry into incidents of mistreatment after the Battle of Danny Boy in southern Iraq in May 2004.

Last month, the Daily Telegraph disclosed 11 new inquest-style inquiries are due to begin into abuses by British troops in Iraq after a human rights ruling by the High Court to fulfil the requirements of Article 2 (the right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), requiring an investigation of suspicious deaths involving the state.

A comment on this by Ray Comeau says:

It is about time. But, now these people accused of war crimes need to fees up and point fingers at those who gave them the orders and means to commit such atrocities, and those were: Blair, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, et al. If the International Criminal court does not indict these people, then it is true they only want to convict African leaders which is a blatant racist act! And we will require purging the International Criminal court and reconstruct an honest one!

Blair’s outreach to Muammar al-Qaddafi while in office may have been justifiable at the time, but reports that he considered asking the Queen to bestow honorary knighthood on Bashar al-Assad are a bit more embarrassing. More recently, Blair urged Western governments to stop “wringing our hands” and intervene militarily in Syria: here.

Iraq: Sectarian violence the legacy of West’s war: here.

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