Saudi Arabian inquisition


From Global Voices:

Saudi Activist: “This is an inquisition, prosecuting us for our opinions”

Posted 1 December 2012 17:18 GMT
Osama KhalidWritten by Osama Khalid

The seventh hearing session of the ongoing trial of the two prominent human rights activists Mohammad Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid was held today [Dec 1, 2012] at the Riyadh Criminal Court. In the last hearing session, the defendants responded to the charges, and today, the public prosecutor provided more ‘clarifications.’ Seventy-nine supporters attended the session, including three women. Moreover, correspondents from Al Jazeera, Sky News and AFP were present.

The public prosecutor started by explaining that the two activists were not actually accused of “impeding the country’s development”, but rather “trying to impede the country’s development.” He said that “the difference between the two is very obvious to those with brains.” He cited their demands of peaceful demonstrations and political parties are strong evidence. He also said that: “anyone that follows what the two are writing, finds no mention of any positive aspect. This proves that they are only looking for flaws”.

The public prosecutor added a new evidence to prove Dr. al-Hamid’s disrespect to state clergy: misspelling the last name of Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen, who is a very respected ultraconservative cleric. In one of his tweets, al-Hamid was accused of spelling Uthaymeen’s last name in a way that makes it sound like “Muhammad, the son of the sterile.” One Saudi Twitter user showed that iPhone’s ‘autocorrected’ the Arabic spelling of ‘Uthaymeen’ to make it read like ‘sterile’. Saudi activist Sultan al-Fifi sarcastically expressed his surprise:

لم أكن أعلم أن ملاحقة مرتكبي الأخطاء المطبعية من صلاحيات هيئة التحقيق والادعاء العام :) #محاكمة_حسم

@SultanAlfifi: I did not know that tracking misspellers was one of the tasks of the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution :)

The attendees, after the end of the session

The attendees, after the end of the session. via @alajmi01

In the previous session, the judge said that he had CDs of video recordings for the two activists and he read some tweets by Dr. al-Qahtani, who raised his concern today that he judge might by talking to the public prosecutor outside the courtroom, which violates neutrality. The judge said that he had obtained these tweets and CDs through ‘official channels’. Dr. al-Qahtani responded: “All evidence must be presented here, before us.” The judge said that they only wanted to waste time by such objections. Dr. al-Hamid said: “We are not trying to influence your ruling, but there are procedures that must be followed.”

Dr. al-Hamid then asked:

Those who say that demonstrations are prohibited, what have they achieved? Have they been able to restore stolen lands? Peaceful struggle is the way… This is an inquisition, prosecuting us for our opinion. You are prosecuting us because we believe in peaceful struggle.

When the judge said that the two activists were not able to prove that the arbitrary detainment of over 30,000 people, they said, once again, “open the prisons and you will find out.” “It is liking asking someone to count camel hair” they added.

The judge asked al-Hamid, “what do you mean by peaceful struggle?” al-Hamid responded:

This is an inquisition, prosecuting us for our opinion. You are prosecuting because we believe in peaceful struggle. I swear to God that whether you sentence us to three months or 30 years in prison, we will continue our peaceful struggle and young people will follow on after us.

The courtroom, full of young men, erupted in applause, which made the judge very frustrated. He ordered the policemen to get all attendees out of the courtroom and he ordered the detainment of one of them for 24 hours, but he canceled the order after Dr. al-Qahtani had asked him to do so.

Al-Qahtani tweets:

@MFQahtani: #ACPRA_trial ended @ 10:30 am, after audience violated court order by clapping &chanting during hearing, details are latter. #Saudi #acprahr

The next hearing session will be held next Saturday, December 8.

Written by Osama Khalid
Posted 1 December 2012 17:18 GMT

Bahrain dictatorship jails US citizen without trial


From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

Bahrain: US citizen detained for over a month without a trial

Taqi Abdulla

30 Nov 2012

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its grave concern over the continued detention for more than a month without a trial of the US/Bahraini citizen Taqi Abdulla by Bahraini authorities. Abdulla has not yet been allowed access to legal representation is deprived from adequate medical care that he needs.

Taqi Abdulla is a 24-year-old Bahraini with US citizenship. On the 7 October 2012 at 2 am, Taqi’s home was raided by seven masked men in civilian clothing who broke the front door, terrifying the family and arresting Abdulla. He was taken without a warrant, his phone was confiscated and his mother was told to check with the local police station the next morning.

Abdulla’s family started a search for their son. They went to the Exhibition road police station at 4:30 am where they were told that they do not have him and they should check after 8:00 am. His mother explained the circumstances of her son’s arrest and she was told that her son might be in the Central Intelligence Department (CID). At the CID they were told again that they do not have any track of him in their system and suggested that they go to Al Hoora police station. However, in Al Hoora police station, they were informed that they do not have Abdulla in their custody. His brother went back to the CID where the officer told him that he cannot confirm or deny having Abdulla but he will contact him within the next two days. They also reported his case to the US embassy in Bahrain that noted the information and asked the family to call their emergency hotline for any updates.

According to his family, Abdulla called the next morning asking for clothes and informing them that he is being held in the Dry Dock prison. He told his mother that he was forced into confessing that he participated in burning a police water tank vehicle, even though he was home at the time of the incident. Abdulla told his family that he was put under pressure, tortured, threatened to be raped and have his mother raped if he did not “confess”. Taqi was interrogated without the presence of a lawyer.

His lawyer has recently got consent from the government to allow her to get power of attorney from Tagi, but she is still unable to get permission to visit him or even see him to make the appointment official. His family and lawyer are very concerned over the well-being of Taqi Abdulla as he is suffering from ulcer in the stomach and colon, and is not receiving adequate medical care in custody. Abdulla should be on a special diet which is not provided in prison.

The BCHR urges the United States to interfere and put pressure on Bahraini authorities to immediately:
1. Allow proper legal representation for Abdulla Taqi
2. Give his lawyer access to his case file to follow the due process
3. Investigate the torture claims and ill-treatment
4. Ensure providing Abdulla proper medical care

Teargas for Shiites: Anti-blockade rally clamped down in Bahrain: here.

One Year after BICI, Bahrain’s Escalating Crisis and Options for U.S. Policy: here.

New hermit crab species discovery in Belize


Areopaguristes tudgei

From Wildlife Extra:

Tiny new hermit crab species discovered in Belize

American university biologist discovers new crab species

November 2012. A tiny new species of hermit crab, Areopaguristes tudgei, has been discovered on the barrier reef off the coast of Belize by Christopher Tudge, a biology professor at American University in Washington, D.C.

Tudge, despite many years of research, has, until now, never had a species named after him. He only found out about his namesake after reading an article about it in the journal Zootaxa. Apparently, finding out after-the-fact is standard practice in the highly formalized ritual of naming a new species.

The two crustacean taxonomists and authors of the paper who named the new crab after Tudge, Rafael Lemaitre of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian Institution‘s National Museum of Natural History and Darryl L. Felder of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette‘s Department of Biology Laboratory for Crustacean Research, have known Tudge since he first came to Washington in 1995 as a postdoc research fellow at the Smithsonian.

Years of research

Lemaitre and Felder have been collecting specimens on the tiny Belizean island for decades and for more than 10 years, they had asked Tudge-who specializes in the structures of crustacean reproduction and how they relate to the creatures’ evolutionary history-to join them on one of their semiannual research outings. Finally, in February 2010, Tudge joined them on a tiny island covered with hundreds of species of their favourite fauna.

Crab heaven

“So you can take 40 steps off the island and you’re on the edge of the reef, and then the back part of the reef is what they call the lagoon,” Tudge recalled. “You slowly walk out into ever-increasing depths of water and it’s a mixture of sand and sea grass and bits of coral, and then there’s some channels. There’s lots of different habitats there. Some islands are covered by mangroves. So we would visit all the different habitats that were there.”

“We would collect on the reef crest, go and turn over coral boulders on the reef flat, snorkel over the sea grass beds. We pumped sand and mud to get things out of the ground. We walked into the mangroves and collected crustaceans from under the mangrove roots. We even snorkeled in the channels in the mangrove islands.”

New hermit crabs

But discovering the new species was much less involved: Tudge turned over a coral boulder in an intertidal area, saw 50 or so tiny crabs scrambling around, and stuck a dozen or so specimens in a bottle before going on with his work. Only later in the lab, under the microscope, was it determined that this isolated little group of hermit crabs might be unique.

Tiny crabs

As the journal authors write: “Given this cryptic habitat and the relatively minute size of the specimens (shield length range = 1.0-3.0 mm), it is not surprising that these populations have gone unnoticed during extensive sampling programs that have previously taken place along the Barrier Reef of Belize.”

Tudge found out only recently found out that Areopaguristes tudgei-a tiny hermit crab differentiated from others in its genus by such characteristics as the hairs growing on some of its appendages-was joining the list of about 3 million known species. Lemaitre emailed him a PDF of the finished article. A note said only, “Here’s a new species. What do you think?” The note had a smiley emoticon.

That’s the way it works, said Tudge’s colleague American University’s College of Arts and Sciences, biology professor Daniel Fong. There’s no warning; one day you just find out. Fong has also had species named after him, and he has discovered new ones as well.

“You go through several emotions when a species has been named after you,” Fong said. “It is truly an honour, in the most formal sense of the term, that your colleagues have thought of naming a species after you. It is a very special type of recognition of your contribution to your research field by your colleagues.”

Amid their exhaustive taxonomic description, complete with drawings and photographs of Areopaguristes tudgei, the journal article authors explain why they chose its name: “This species is named after our colleague Christopher C. Tudge (American University) who first noticed and collected populations of this diminutive hermit crab living under large dead coral boulders during joint field work in Carrie Bow Cay. The name also acknowledges his unique contributions to knowledge of the reproductive biology of hermit crabs.”

See also here.