Human rights groups refuse Guantanamo propaganda stunt

This video is the film The Road to Guantanamo.

From Associated Press:

SAN JUAN – Three human rights groups said yesterday that they will decline an invitation to tour the Guantanamo Bay prison next month because it doesn’t include an opportunity to speak with prisoners.

Amnesty International USA, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Human Rights Watch all said the recent Defense Department invitation falls short of the full access to the prison at the US base in Cuba that they jointly requested in a January letter to President Obama.

See also here.

Music torture and Guantanamo: here.

R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails Join Campaign To Close Guantanamo Bay: here.

A UN human rights investigator insisted on Monday that Guantanamo Bay detainees must be freed or transferred to US federal courts for trial by the January 22 deadline set by US President Barack Obama: here.

US Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that ten of the prisoners now held in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp would be transferred to US locations and placed on trial on terrorism charges: here.

Legal action charity Reprieve has urged the government to help in the desperate plight of a British resident who remains in the limbo of Guantanamo Bay: here.

Britain: Senior members of the Muslim community in Bolton have condemned the arrest and subsequent release without charge of a 62-year-old community leader by counter-terrorism officers: here.

High Court hears the case of Shaker Aamer, the last recognized British resident in Guantánamo Bay, as Government demands secrecy: here.

Lawyers representing a British national who suffered torture at the hands of US interrogators went to the High Court on Tuesday alleging British complicity in his abuse: here.

THE London Guantanamo Campaign staged a protest yesterday outside the American embassy on the 8th anniversary of the establishment of the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison, demanding it be shut down: here.


90% of Afghan women abused

From the site of Afghan women’s organization RAWA:

According to NGOs, 90 Percent of Afghan Women Are Abused

A 9-year-old tells her story of being raped at age five.

This sobering CNN video takes us into one of only a dozen women’s shelters in Kabul, Afghanistan. According to nongovernmental agencies, 90 percent of Afghan women are victims of domestic abuse.

One woman is at the shelter trying to escape 15 years of abuse from her husband for not being able to conceive a child. As she speaks, a slash on her throat is visible and highlighted by stitches. She would like to see her family again, but she fears she will be killed if she goes home. Another woman has tried to kill herself three times to escape the abuse of a man who often chained her to a wall, setting her free only when it was time for her to cook. In a country where women are viewed as property, even children aren’t spared. A 9-year-old tells her story of being raped at age five.

Also from the RAWA site:

Child Rapist Police Return Behind U.S., UK Troops

Within hours of the arrival of U.S. troops in the village, they wrote, bands of villagers began complaining the local police force was “a bigger problem than the Taliban”.

Afghan girls burn themselves to escape marriage: here.

North Afghanistan ‘a bridgehead for drug-trafficking to Russia’: here.

Robert Greenwald interview on Afghanistan: here.

I went to Kabul, Afghanistan, in March to see old friends. By chance, I arrived the day after a woman had been beaten to death and burned by a mob of young men. The world would soon come to know her name: Farkhunda. The name means “auspicious” or “jubilant.” She was killed in the very heart of the Afghan capital, at a popular shrine, the burial place of an unnamed ghazi, a warrior martyred for Islam. Years ago, I worked only a few doors away. I knew the neighborhood well as a crossroads for travelers and traders, a market street beside the Kabul River, busy with peddlers, beggars, drug addicts, thieves, and pigeons. It was always a dodgy neighborhood. Now, it had become a crime scene: here.

First long-toed stint in the Netherlands

Long-toed stint

The first long-toed stint ever is in the Netherlands right now, close to Zwolle city, according to the local Stentor daily.

See also here.

Photos are here.

Only rarely, if there are strong east winds, this Siberian bird is seen in Europe.

See also here.

Britain says Afghanistan is ‘safe’

This video from the USA is called Rethink Afghanistan (Part 4): Civilian Casualties.

From British daily The Morning Star:

The British Establishment was accused of gross hypocrisy after immigration judges backed Home Office claims that it was safe to deport asylum-seekers to war-torn Afghanistan.

See also here.

France sends Afghan refugees to war zones: here.

Talking about Afghanistan: Former and current soldiers and their families will take to the streets today leading thousands from across the country on the Bring the Troops Home demonstration organised by the Stop the War Coalition: here.

The wife of a soldier facing charges of desertion for refusing to redeploy to an unjust war speaks to peace activists about the challenges she has faced: here.

The top UN official in Afghanistan has said that the extensive fraud that marked the first round of presidential elections would be reduced but not eliminated in time for the run-off in two weeks: here.

Women’s Peace Offensive in Afghanistan: here.

Refugee campaigners reacted with fury after the government said it may resume flights taking failed asylum-seekers back to Zimbabwe: here.

Bright Star, film about poet John Keats

In 1819, British romantic poet John Keats wrote a poem, called Bright Star. A comment on that sonnet is here.

Recently, a film with the same name came out.

It is about the romance between John Keats and Fanny Brawne, during the last three years of Keats’ life, until he died on 23 February 1821.

The film is based on a biography of Keats by Andrew Motion, the British Poet Laureate. The job of Poet Laureates is to write poems for the royal family. That sounds pro establishment rather than rebellious. It is true in Motion’s case. There is an idea that a Poet Laureate should not just be a faithful servant of the monarchy, but a good poet as well. So, the job was first offered to Benjamin Zephaniah. Zephaniah refused it, being an opponent of the British empire. Then, it was offered to Tony Harrison, who refused as well, being a republican. Finally, it went to the “safe” Andrew Motion.

Motion is not a total reactionary, as even he “the respectable, establishment choice in 1999—has voiced his anxieties and ambivalence for the British government’s support for the war in Iraq.” However, looking at the film Bright Star now, some of Motion’s weak points become visible.

Keats lived at a time when most people in Britain were poor, and when the ruling class and the Conservative government were doing their best to make them even poorer and keep them down. Keats, and his fellow poets like Shelley and Byron, were opponents of that government. That was why their poetry was so sharply attacked by pro-government literary critics. Byron and Shelley left Britain as political exiles to Italy. Keats joined them there a few months before his death, as poverty had given him tuberculosis and a warmer climate was prescribed by a doctor.

How much of this social, economic, and political background of John Keats do we find in the movie? Some, but not enough. Keats’ personal poverty, which prevents him from marrying his love Fanny Brawne, is a theme in the film. In a short scene, we see something of the dire poverty in the slums of London. However, we never hear about the Peterloo Massacre which Shelley wrote about.

The movie does offer fine filming and acting. In the final scene, after she has learned of Keats’ death in Rome, Fanny Brawne walks to the Hampstead Heath, crying, and reciting Keats’ poem Bright Star.

Several poems are recited in the movie, including “The Eve of St. Agnes” and “Ode to a Nightingale“. Keats wrote the latter poem when a nightingale nested near his house. It is the last part of the film, recited as the list of actors and other workers of this movie scrolls down the screen.

We hear a nightingale sing during the film, but never see it. As usual with nightingales.

Another review of this film is here. Yet another one is here.