Stop badger killing in Britain


This video from England says about itself:

BBC Look NorthBadger Persecution. Interview with Dominic Dyer

26 March 2015

Is the rise in badger persecution and wildlife crime attributable to the culls in the South West? Interview with Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust.

British government helps torturers in Bahrain


Bahraini human rights activists Asma Darwish and Hussain Jawad, when they were still both free and together

From Middle East Eye:

The UK could have stopped my husband being tortured in Bahrain

Asma Darwish

Friday 27 March 2015 09:34 GMT

The UK refused to grant Hussain Jawad asylum and now he is in a Bahraini prison due to his human rights activism

My husband Hussain Jawad has been in prison for more than a month. Every day, I get flashbacks about the night he was taken by state security from our home in Bahrain.

Hussain is a human rights defender and chairperson of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR).

On 16 February 2015, at 1am, he was arrested by 15 masked, plainclothes police officers. They insulted him by calling him a donkey and shouted: “damn you and the human rights field you work in”.

Hussain was then taken to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) and he has since called me from prison to tell me of the torture he says has been subjected to there. He said CID officers handcuffed him and forced him to stand in a narrow, freezing cell.

They beat his back, chest, and head. Officers told him he would “never leave this place” and that they could fabricate more than 20 cases against him – adding up to a lifetime in prison.

He says officers have repeatedly threatened him with further violence if he does not admit to charges that include “rioting, participating in illegal gatherings and possession of Molotov cocktails”.

“If you don’t admit willingly in five minutes to save your honour, I will shove your honour up your ass,” one officer said to him.

“Do you want us to squeeze your mother’s milk out of your chest?” another asked.

One interrogator, he told me, touched his genitals and asked: “Do you want me to make you urinate or not have kids?”

The same man threatened to rape Hussain by inserting a pipe into his anus.

After all of this abuse and intimidation my husband signed a number of false confessions, including four different charges – one of which was “collecting money to fund saboteurs”.

When I asked him why he signed them, he told me: “CID is worse than hell itself.”

There is mounting evidence of the Bahraini authorities having tortured political prisoners, however, they continue to deny mistreating detainees.

My husband has a long history of human rights activism and this is not the first time he has been arrested, but this time it could have been avoided.

In November 2013, the government arrested Hussain for a speech he had given that month which called for peaceful reform. He was charged with “criticising government institutions” and “insulting the flag and emblem of Bahrain”.

That case is still going through the court system.

On 30 January 2014, shortly after being released from prison on bail, Hussain fled Bahrain to seek asylum in the United Kingdom.

I believed he had a good case. His arrest in Bahrain was public knowledge and I had hoped the asylum plea would be processed quickly in the UK so that we could be reunited as a family to raise our young son, Parweez.

But upon his arrival in the UK, Hussain was held for four days at the Harmondsworth Detention Centre. He was then referred to Fast Track Detention (FTD) – a process for non-urgent cases for asylum seekers who will likely be returned to their home country.

I didn’t know what to do. I felt helpless.

The Bahraini community in London – many of whom live in exile – helped me to hire lawyers from Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, who filed a case against the UK Home Office to try and challenge Hussain likely being refused asylum.

My husband suffered badly throughout this process. He was released from the detention centre but had no way of supporting himself. For days he would be confined to his hostel, unable to buy food, waiting in vain to hear about his asylum claim.

When he first left, I honestly thought it wouldn’t take more than two months before we were reunited because of my belief in the strength of his case. I believed that we would live freely and in peace to raise our son Parweez. But after eight months without him and with no progress made on his case, I began to worry for our safety. I was worried that his continuing activism could anger authorities here in Bahrain. I was worried they would come after me, and that my son would have no one.

During Hussain’s absence, Parweez had to undergo an open-heart surgery. I had to take care of my sick child in the hospital without the emotional support of his father. We depended on Skype and social media to stay in touch.

On 28 August 2014, Hussain came home to Bahrain, having given up hope of winning asylum and out of a desire to be reunited with me and Parweez.

It was just five months later that he was re-arrested in the middle of the night at our home.

My son’s birthday was on 28 February. Hussain has now missed his last two birthdays: this year he is in prison and last year he was in the UK hoping for asylum to help us escape repression in our home country.

Hussain continues to be held in custody and his next trial hearing will be on 7 April.

We don’t know what will happen to him – there are thousands of political prisoners in Bahrain and many are serving years and years in prison for crimes that amount to no more than challenging the autocratic rule of the al-Khalifa royal family.

While the Bahraini authorities are the ones ultimately responsible for the treatment of my husband – and they should release him immediately – his latest arrest and subsequent suffering in prison was entirely avoidable.

I don’t know if the UK did not award Hussain asylum because of their well-known close ties with the Bahraini royals, but what is clear is that their refusal to give my family safe refuge has directly exposed my husband to the torture he says he has been experiencing in prison.

– Asma Darwish is the head of information and media relations at the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR). She is married to EBOHR Chairman, Hussain Jawad and the mother of two-year-old Parweez.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: Hussein Jawad and Asma Darwish pose together for a photograph (MEE/Asma Darwish)

* Faten Bushehri – a Bahraini freelance journalist and human and civil rights advocate – also contributed to this article.

Bahrain: Ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Hussain Jawad: here.

Lifting [United States] arms restrictions to Bahrain would enable the regime’s oppression: here.

British secret police spying on Parliament


This video from London, England says about itself:

Labour MP Paul Flynn asks about the criminality of GCHQ and the British government on spying on people.

Recorded from BBC Parliament, 10 June 2013.

For the CIA, United States domestic spying on anyone is illegal. Nevertheless, in practice it turns out that the CIA spies even on the United States Senate committee monitoring their torture and other activities.

Now, to Britain. By Luke James in London:

SPIED-ON MPs DEMAND TO SEE SPOOKS‘ FILES

Friday 27th March 2015

Furious Labour politicians call for the release of secret reports on their personal and political lives

LABOUR MPs targeted by police spooks demanded the release yesterday of secret files compiled on their political and personal lives over 10 years.

… Police Minister Mike Penning faced an urgent question over the covert surveillance of MPs on the final day of parliamentary debate before the election.

Only hours earlier, spook-turned-whistleblower Peter Francis had revealed that Special Branch spied on 10 Labour MPs during the 1990s.

Prominent MPs such as Dennis Skinner, Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and the late Tony Benn were all monitored by Special Branch, he told the Guardian.

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, the most senior MP targeted, demanded to see an uncensored copy of her file.

Mr Penning told MPs that their cases would be considered by the Pitchford inquiry into secret policing that was established earlier this month.

But Ms Harman argued that he was kicking the issue into the long grass, saying: “I would like you to assure me that you, the government, will let me see a full copy of my file.

“I was campaigning for the rights of women, for the rights of workers and the right to demonstrate — none of that was against the law, none of that was undermining our democracy.”

Jack Straw said that the evidence suggested he was being spied on even while he was home secretary between 1997 and 2001.

During the urgent question, Mr Skinner asked why the spooks “only seem to pursue socialists?”

Mr Corbyn also pressed Mr Penning to secure the release of the “full, unredacted version” of his file.

“If I was under surveillance, or the late Bernie Grant or any of my friends, then presumably the police were at whatever meetings we attended and recorded whatever phone calls we made,” he said.

“I think we have a right to know about that.”

The minister promised the pair that he would “make sure that as much as can be released is released” but added that there may be security reasons for material being withheld or censored.

A Home Office spokesman told the Star that the final decision on whether to redact information would be made by the Metropolitan Police, which holds the files.

The Morning Star contacted the Met to ask whether it would release the files in full.

In a statement, a Met spokeswoman said: “While talking openly about undercover policing is challenging because of its very nature, the upcoming inquiry represents a real opportunity to provide the public with as complete a picture as possible of what has taken place.”

She added that Operation Herne, the police investigation into misconduct by Met officers, was “very willing to engage” with Mr Francis about his claims. Operation Herne maintains that without speaking to Peter Francis it is simply not possible to fully investigate allegations he makes,” she said.

But Labour MP John McDonnell said that the government should first guarantee Mr Francis immunity from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

Mr McDonnell tabled an early day motion last week calling on the Pitchford inquiry to examine evidence given by Mr Francis that the Met also spied on trade unions, the family of murder victim Stephen Lawrence and anti-fascist groups.

This video says about itself:

Labour MP Dennis Skinner asks about the criminality of GCHQ and the British government on spying on people.

Recorded from BBC Parliament, 10 June 2013.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Unjustified Intrusion

Friday 27th March 2015

DENNIS SKINNER hit the nail on the head yesterday as Parliament discussed revelations that the Met Police had been spying on MPs – and even, it seems, at one point the Home Secretary.

“Why is it they only seem to pursue leftwingers and socialists?” the Beast of Bolsover asked Police Minister Mike Penning.

The Tory’s response – that since he had once been an FBU member who stood on picket lines he may himself have been snooped on- was hardly reassuring.

From Edward Snowden unmasking in 2013 the vast international surveillance conducted by the US National Security Agency to this year’s finding by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal that GCHQ’s information sharing with the agency was illegal for seven years, British citizens have got used to the idea that the state is always watching.

Few will be surprised that this surveillance extended to MPs, and years of expenses fiddling and corruption scandals have done such damage to Parliament’s reputation that many may not care.

Certainly the news that Blairite warmonger Jack Straw, who as home secretary increased police powers and tried to restrict the right to trial by jury, was being spied on himself by an organisation he was supposedly in charge of has a touch of the comic.

But as Mr Skinner points out, this is not simply a case of MPs being subject to the same unjustified intrusion to which the rest of us are subjected.

Special Branch was highly selective about who it spied on. Among the names revealed by whistleblower Peter Francis are well known socialists familiar to this paper’s readers. Mr Skinner himself of course, Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone, Tony Benn – as well as veterans of the anti-apartheid and anti-racist movements such as Peter Hain and Diane Abbott and peace campaigner Dame Joan Ruddock.

By contrast, as the Bolsover MP eloquently puts it, “all those paedophiles managed to disappear into thin air.”

The appalling abuse of children perpetuated by MPs such as Cyril Smith and allegedly also by members of Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet were evidently of less concern to the police than legitimate political campaigning.

The picture this paints of the British state is not an attractive one. But it is sadly familiar.

State power in this country is exercised by a ruling capitalist class. That doesn’t change depending on election results.

Labour has often proved a tame servant of that ruling class in office, but the party does represent the aspirations of millions of ordinary workers and its MPs include socialists who do fight for a Britain governed in their interests.

Hence the Establishment’s continued suspicion of the party, displayed in the fact that all the names released by Mr Francis were Labour MPs just as it is seen daily in hysterical attacks on Ed Miliband in the pages of newspapers owned by tax-dodging tycoons.

This alone is an indication that those on the left who see no difference between Britain’s biggest parties are missing something. If Labour were just another bunch of neoliberals, the rich wouldn’t care wheter it won May’s election or not.

So this scandal is not ultimately about the rights of MPs or the extent of parliamentary privilege.

As Mr Corbyn said yesterday, MPs can at least grill the Home Office about why they were spied on – “but many, many others unknown to us do not have that opportunity.”

Clearly the state has been treating trade unionists, socialists, peace and anti-racism campaigners as “the enemy within,” whether they’re ordinary citizens, MPs or ministers.

Lord Pitchford’s inquiry into undercover policing must expose the whole rotten business. But only revolutionary change, for a Britain run by its people and not by a shadowy elite, can hope to end it.

Argentine military dictatorship in London theatre


This video from Britain says about itself:

These Trees Are Made of Blood – Minidoc (Client: Lucy Jackson Productions)

2 March 2014

1978. With the world watching, Argentina has won the World Cup and patriotism is running riot.

After some development time at BAC, director Amy Draper continues exploring her cabaret style show about Argentina’s Disappeared, which intertwines live music and narrative.

By Michal Boncza in England:

Theatre: War crimes caught in the acts

Wednesday 25th March 2015

MICHAL BONCZA recommends a cabaret exposing the long night of fascism in Argentina; These Trees Are Made of Blood, Southwark Playhouse, London SW1 4/5

THE THOUGHT of a play dealing with the “dirty war” in Argentina during the 1970s and ’80s might fill anyone familiar with that grim period with trepidation.

The appalling enormity of the crimes instigated by the US beggars belief to this very day. But These Trees Are Made of Blood by Amy Draper, Paul Jenkins and Darren Clark rapidly dispels such misgivings.

In the theatre’s small C-shaped auditorium, the crowded intimacy of a cabaret is recreated as the quartet of musicians in the corner play The Boy from Buenos Aires.

The “hosts” for the night are the 1976 putschists, the supreme commanders of the three branches of the armed forces, whose rationalisation of their odious deeds is subjected by the authors to biting ridicule — the targeting of the nazis in the musical Cabaret comes to mind — yet the hint of menace and foreboding is never far away.

To the authors’ credit, the combination of slapstick and song is an effective device — bar some ancient jokes — in advancing the narrative in which Greg Barnett is suitably slimy as The General while Alexander Luttley as the air force chief emanates egotism and duplicity.

So far, so satirical, but in an unexpected development one of the guests of the show Gloria Benitez (Val Jones) sees her daughter disappear when invited on stage to join the naval chief (Neil Kelso) in his magic tricks.

This tragedy, and her evolution from housewife to protester with the legendary Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, is charted with unassuming mastery by Jones.

After the interval the mood changes and, in a series of rapid vignettes, the historical blanks are filled in.

Everything from CIA involvement, the torture chambers at the school of naval mechanics, the Malvinas war and finally the trial of the military chiefs comes under scrutiny.

There’s a fair degree of disconcerting detail, some loose ends and short cuts that may baffle some in what occasionally comes across as over-elaborate. But it remains a riveting production, directed by Amy Draper with panache, with a cast that is as gifted as it is passionate. The songs by Darren Clark effectively catch the nuances of mood and, Greek chorus-style, comment on the action.

That culminates in a powerful theatrical moment at the conclusion when the curtains around the auditorium are drawn back, revealing walls filled top-to-bottom with the faces of the disappeared to a shell-shocked audience.

This video is called Amy Draper: These Trees Are Made Of Blood; rehearsal.

These video from London says about itself:

These Trees are Made of Blood Trailer

16 March 2015

At Southwark Playhouse from 18 March – 11 April 2015

#TheseTreesShow

Call 020 7407 0234 or click here to buy tickets.

And for our next act …

The Magical Military Junta …
Will make 30,000 people disappear before your very eyes.

During the 70s and 80s, Argentina was locked in a period of state terrorism, with a military dictatorship waging war on suspected left-wing political sympathizers. Thousands of citizens were “disappeared”; seized by the authorities and rarely heard from again.

Set in a timeless Buenos Aires cabaret club before, during and after Argentina’s Dirty War, These Trees are Made of Blood tells the story of one Mother’s search for her daughter. Blending original live music and exciting cabaret acts with an urgent narrative, this is a new piece of political theatre which promises to be an unforgettable audience experience.

So come on in. The club’s open all hours and history can always be rewritten after one too many.

This video says about itself:

These Trees are Made of Blood: How to make empanadas

5 March 2015

The team behind These Trees are Made of Blood give you a taste of what’s to come from this new production.