Malta poacher sentenced for killing northern lapwing


This is a video from the Netherlands about a northern lapwing and its chicks.

From the Times of Malta:

Thursday, April 16, 2015, 14:55 by Matthew Xuereb, Caroline Muscat

Hunter sentenced to three months in jail – ‘did not know’ that lapwing cannot be hunted in spring

Offender has pending case of attempted murder

Updated 6.08pm – Shaun Demicoli, 37 of Birzebbuga was sentenced to three months imprisonment and had his shotgun confiscated this afternoon after he admitted to shooting and injuring a lapwing bird early this morning. He also admitted breaching bail conditions imposed in 2011 and last year and relapsing. His pending cases include a charge of attempted murder of a Tunisian man.

Wearing a bus driver’s uniform, Mr Demicoli told the court that he did not know that that kind of bird could not be hunted in spring.

Mr Demicoli also had his hunter’s licence suspended for three years and was fined €200 for breaching the bail conditions. The court recommended that he should not lose his job, which he was given only recently.

He said he would appeal and walked out of court – the sentence only comes into force once the appeal is decided.

Lawyer Jason Grima was defence counsel.

The bird, which was handed to the police, was shot between Birzebbuga and Hal Far even though, in terms of Spring hunting rules, only turtle dove and quail can be legally hunted, in limited numbers.

The FKNK hunters’ federation said the offender was reported by other hunters. He is not one of its members.

It appealed to other associations to suspend him if he is their member, and said abuse will not be tolerated.

The incident followed another yesterday when Stefan Micallef, 43, of Naxxar, shot a protected cuckoo in Manikata. He was filmed by BirdLife volunteers hiding the bird under a bush after shooting it.

Mr Micallef told a court that he mistook the cuckoo for a Turtle dove, but was fined €2,500 and had his licence suspended for three and a half years. His shotgun and ammunition were confiscated. The sentence came with a stern warning from the court that protected species must not be shot.

Following the referendum, won by those in favour of the spring hunting season, the Prime Minister Muscat stressed on Sunday that illegal hunting would not be tolerated.

The incident yesterday was followed by a backlash on social media calling on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to keep his word with #josephzommkellmtek and #closetheseason.

Earlier today, the Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Welfare, Roderick Galdes was asked to define what the prime minister meant when he said that the season would be closed if there was flagrant abuse.

He told the media there had to be major abuse such as happened last autumn when the season was closed.

ST HUBERT HUNTERS: IGNORANCE BY THE PERPETRATOR

Kaccaturi San Ubertu (KSU) in a statement said it commended the immediate action taken by the authorities in apprehending and sentencing the persons responsible of shooting protected birds.

“Today’s incident, where a protected bird was shot, exemplifies ignorance on the part of the perpetrator being unaware that spring hunting is only practiced on turtle dove and quail. It also highlights an ambiguity in our gun licensing system where a person with a criminal record involving aggression of a police officer and a pending case of attempted murder is allowed a gun licence.”

Birds still killed in Malta


This 2014 video is called Malta – Massacre on Migration (Episode 1).

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Friday 17th April 2015

PETER FROST is outraged that year in and year out millions of migratory birds fly over Malta where they are killed by the thousands to satisfy a primitive bloodlust.

Each spring millions of birds fly north across the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Britain and the rest of Europe after wintering in Africa.

The popular holiday island of Malta lies on one of these key bird-migration routes and every spring thousands of Maltese hunters point their guns skyward and blast these birds of passage out of the sky.

The hunters claim their targets are the traditional quarry of turtle doves and quail but in fact anything with feathers is considered fair game. Thousands of local hunters arrive in trucks with banners and slogans such as “If it flies it dies.”

Over the last three years nearly eighty species of bird, including 17 species of birds of prey, have been recorded shot illegally by these Maltese hunters. Thousands of protected species, including birds of prey or herons, are persecuted each year.

Of these 80 species there were four species of very serious global conservation concern. They are Audouin’s gull, pallid harrier, red-footed falcon and lesser kestrel. The latter is considered under threat of total worldwide extinction.

Another 40 species are of European conservation concern, including greater flamingo, crane, kingfisher and lesser spotted eagle. The spring bloodlust also slaughters owls, swifts, swallows, martins, cuckoos and nightingales.

Far from showing any guilt Maltese hunters have recently requested that the islands’ government further defy international bird protection laws and the European Court of Justice by permitting the spring shooting of quail and turtle dove in even larger numbers.

The spring hunting of quail and turtle doves is illegal all across Europe but the Maltese government allows hunters to ignore the ban under special agreements with the European courts. They claim the slaughter is a long established cultural tradition.

Last week a special referendum in Malta narrowly rejected a proposed ban on the slaughter. The result was very close with just 2,220 more votes deciding against the ban out of a total of over a quarter of a million votes cast. Malta’s population is just over half a million.

Hunters scored 50.4 per cent of the vote mostly thanks to a strong showing from the island of Gozo, perhaps the most pro-hunting part of Malta. So the hunting goes on and thousands of birds will die this spring in Malta.

Against this background of wild-bird slaughter in Malta let me introduce Karmenu Vella. This 64-year-old politician is a long-serving member of Malta’s government, which has overseen and approved the widespread slaughter of birdlife on the island — including many endangered species.

Amazingly Vella took up last November his new job European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Vella being put in charge of the European commission’s environment portfolio, which has specific responsibility for birdlife and its habitats, has horrified green groups, campaigners and wildlife protection organisations. It certainly terrifies me.

Many feel that Vella’s appointment is part of the newly elected commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s plan to weaken the powers of Europe’s environment directorate and that Vella has been selected specifically to implement these changes.

Other parts of Europe also have their illegal bird hunting too although tighter legislation and more enlightened environmental thinking have reduced, and are reducing, its impact.

As well as Malta hunters in parts of Spain and much of Italy still shoot and kill protected birds.

One of the worst offenders is Cyprus where around 10 million songbirds a year are shot, netted or limed to make a traditional Cypriot dish. The birds are often either pickled or poached for an island delicacy called ambekopoulia.

The dish is expensive and illegal. It can still be found in many traditional restaurants. One restaurant owner with ambelopoulia on his menu explains its popularity by likening it to Viagra.

Oppositional journalist murdered in Ukraine


This music video says about itself:

Let Valentina Lisitsa play: Piano by Hussam Ezz Eldin

9 April 2015

Let Valentina Lisitsa play is a piano piece composed by Hussam Ezz Eldin just to stand with Valentina Lisitsa against any kind of controlling her political views.

I dedicate this piece for her and it is an objection for what happened to her.

Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa was paid by Canada’s Toronto Symphony Orchestra NOT to play.

No, it’s not about her skills, it’s about her political views. She’s been extensively twitting on Ukraine from afar and her thoughts don’t really fall in line with the western narrative. On Facebook the soloist appealed to thousands of her fans saying that her scheduled concert in Toronto was cancelled. Lisitsa says that an aggressive lobbyist group claiming to represent the Ukrainian community pressured the orchestra into banning her performance. Her tweets were used as ‘proof’ that she was inciting hatred and the orchestra bought it.

Open letter of Valentina Lisitsa concerning Canadians wanting to block her freedom of speech and embargoing her concern on Ukraine: here.

This video from Canada says about itself:

LET VALENTINA PLAY! Action in Toronto April 8. 2015.

In the week since the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) banned Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa from performing, the corporate media and its music critics have sought to downplay the ban’s significance: here.

From the BBC in Britain:

Ukraine conflict: Pro-Russia journalist Oles Buzyna killed

53 minutes ago

A Ukrainian journalist known for his pro-Russian views has been shot dead in the capital Kiev.

Oles Buzyna, 45, was killed by shots fired from a car, Interior Ministry spokesman Anton Herashchenko said.

Mr Buzyna is the latest in a series of allies of Ukraine’s pro-Russian former President, Victor Yanukovych, to die in suspicious circumstances.

His killing comes a day after MP Oleg Kalashnikov, who was close to Mr Yanukovych, was shot dead in Kiev.

Mr Herashchenko said he believed both killings were related to the victims’ involvement with Ukraine’s “anti-Maidan” movement, which opposed the popular overthrow of Mr Yanukovych in 2014. …

Mr Buzyna, who was an active blogger and briefly editor of pro-Russian daily newspaper Segodnya, was killed outside his home. …

At least eight other officials connected to Mr Yanukovych’s government have died suddenly in the past three months.

Authorities initially labelled some of the deaths suicides, but later they said it was possible that some of the people were killed or forced to take their lives.

See also here.

By Alex Lantier and Stefan Steinberg:

16 April 2015

On April 9, the NATO-backed regime in Ukraine passed laws rehabilitating Nazi collaborationist forces that carried out ethnic mass murder during World War II, while banning all communist symbols in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic.

The law, titled “On the legal status and commemoration of 20th century fighters for Ukrainian independence,” officially legitimizes dozens of nationalist groups, including the Nazi-collaborationist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). It requires that state and local governments provide social benefits to members of these organizations and to their families.

The law also makes any public criticism of organizations on this list a criminal offense, stating: “Public denunciation of the role of OUN-UPA in restoring the independence of Ukraine is illegal.”

Syrian journalists’ kidnappers Sunni, not Shia


This video from the USA says about itself:

16 April 2015

Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent at NBC News, was a member of the six-member news team that was kidnapped in Syria in 2012. He has recounted the group’s ordeal after information recently unearthed by the New York Times suggested that Engel had been wrong about the identity of their kidnappers. …

During the ordeal, the crewmembers thought that their kidnappers were Shiite militiamen loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The New York Times, however, has uncovered information suggesting that the Syrian rebels who ‘rescued’ the journalists had some kind of relationship with the kidnappers.

By Michael Calderone in the USA:

NBC’s Richard Engel Reveals Syria Kidnappers’ Ruse Misled Him And Fellow Journalists

Posted: 04/15/2015 11:47 pm EDT Updated: 04/16/2015 12:59 am EDT

NEW YORK — NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel revealed Wednesday night that the masked men who kidnapped him and five colleagues in Syria in December 2012 misled the captive journalists about their affiliation, leading him to misidentify them in accounts of the ordeal.

During a Dec. 18, 2012, appearance on the “Today” show following their escape, Engel identified his captors as members of the shabiha, a Shia militia loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. But as The Huffington Post reported Wednesday afternoon, new questions about the kidnappers’ affiliation recently prompted Engel and a team of journalists to revisit the harrowing five days in captivity.

After reporting for the past several weeks, Engel wrote Wednesday that his kidnappers were Sunni, not Shia, and had “put on an elaborate ruse to convince” the captured journalists they were the shabiha and linked to Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah. Engel had previously described the men as part of the Shia militia in TV interviews and a first-person piece for Vanity Fair in March 2013.

Though California State University professor As’ad AbuKhalil expressed serious doubts early on about Engel’s captors being the shabiha, and aligned with Iran and Hezbollah, the correspondent’s account was never seriously challenged in the news media. On the day Engel surfaced in Turkey, AbuKhalil wrote that graffiti visible in a video of the captured journalists included “clearly fake” slogans intended to falsely suggest the captors were Shiites. “If this one is believable” he wrote, “I am posing as a dentist.”

Following publication of Engel’s piece on Wednesday, AbuKhalil told The Huffington Post that the episode “shows the extent to which Western media were going out of their way to protect the armed thugs and terrorists of the Syrian armed groups.”

“Engel did not want to believe that he was kidnapped by the very ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels that he and other correspondents were promoting on a daily basis,” AbuKhalil wrote in an email. “This is a scandal of major proportion. The moderate rebels are the ones who perfected the art of kidnapping for ransom, of journalists and sectarian kidnapping of innocent Lebanese and Syrians. This should raise questions about the quality of Western reporting on Syria.”

The 28-month-old ordeal gained renewed attention in recent weeks after The New York Times asked Engel about the kidnapping. The Times reported late Wednesday that NBC News executives were informed during and after Engel’s captivity that a Sunni criminal gang may be to blame, but “moved quickly to put Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events.”

The Times story raises questions about NBC News’ handling of the ordeal and brings more scrutiny on a network still reeling from “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams’ false claims of coming under RPG fire while reporting in Iraq. Williams was subsequently suspended.

There’s no dispute that Engel and his crew were kidnapped and endured psychological torture for several days. But Engel’s original conclusion about the ordeal — that a pro-government Shia militia seized the journalists and was delivering them to a Hezbollah stronghold in Syria — can no longer be supported. Engel now concludes that he and his crew were “kidnapped by a criminal gang for money and released for propaganda purposes.”

“We still cannot determine whether we were set up to be kidnapped from the start,” Engel said, “and we have found no evidence that the Iranian and Lebanese prisoners whom we were headed to see existed.” (In previous accounts, Engel said a rebel commander was bringing them into Syria to see these prisoners, proof of Iranian government and Hezbollah activity in the Syrian civil war.) Engel also wrote that the Syrian rebels who freed his crew after five days had ties to the kidnappers.

In his article Wednesday, Engel provides new details of the kidnapping, including how an emergency GPS system the crew carried had alerted NBC to their position. As word spread that the journalists were located, Engel wrote, his captors considered killing them and hiding the bodies.

Engel wrote that Abu Ayman, an Islamist commander in the area, feared that the death of American journalists could lead to the U.S. not providing arms to those fighting Assad’s regime. Abu Ayman, he wrote, contacted the Sunni leader of the criminal gang holding the journalists. The details of the intervention remain unclear, as two of the participants are believed dead and a third missing.

Engel and his crew were freed soon after the kidnappers stopped at a rebel checkpoint and were killed in a firefight — or, at least that’s what Engel believed at the time. The situation is increasingly murky, given that the rebels freeing Engel’s crew had some previous interaction with the kidnappers. Engel said a source insisted in his recent reporting that the kidnappers were indeed killed that night.

This article has been updated to include The New York Times report.

Journalist Richard Engel’s 2012 kidnapping account was part of drive to war with Syria: here.

Did NBC Cover Up Role of U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army in 2012 Kidnapping of Richard Engel? Here.

Human rights violations in Bahrain continue


This video is called Bahrain Activist Nabeel Rajab Arrested Over Tweets.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Open Letter from Nabeel Rajab to President Obama

Editor’s note: This letter was written in a Bahraini jail cell by Nabeel Rajab, a leading human rights campaigner in Bahrain who was arrested April 2 after tweeting about torture in the country’s central prison, Jaw. Here is his letter.

April 9, 2015

From: Nabeel Rajab
President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Isa Town Detention Center
Bahrain

Dear President Obama,

I write to you from a Bahraini jail cell, and this message was never meant to go beyond its walls. Even though I have never advocated for violence nor harmed another living soul, I have spent 28 of the last 36 months in a Bahraini prison for actions that can only be counted as crimes in a nation that stifles free expression and criminalizes open assembly. I have documented my government’s use of torture. I have reported on civilian casualties in Yemen. I have held a different opinion than that of a king. In retaliation, I may spend the next ten years of my life in jail.

While my government punishes me for demanding an end to its assault on civil and political rights, other GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia, subject human rights defenders to harsher abuse. Their repression can be seen in the flogging of free speech activist Raif Badawi and the death sentence against the religious scholar and human rights advocate Nimr al-Nimr. Saudi courts even sentenced Raif’s lawyer, Waleed abu al-Khair, to 15 years in prison. We as human rights defenders are targeted for giving voice to the marginalized, people seeking to take the reins of their own destiny; our governments do everything in their power to prevent us from acting upon the best ideals of our conscience.

The message you directed toward your Gulf allies last week laid the foundation for real change. Your words tacitly acknowledged what we in the region understand: only democracy can bring stability to the Middle East. And while democracy may take time to develop, the process cannot begin unless our right to free speech is protected. Right now, our governments divide us along religious lines, preventing us from collectively challenging extremism within our societies. As well, our rulers aggressively punish critics of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. We simply ask, however, for greater democratic participation in our nation’s affairs, and the ability to freely express our contempt for violence and extremism.

I thank your administration for calling for my release, and the release of my fellow human rights defenders. I urge you to defend our right to free speech when you meet with the monarchs of the Gulf, and call for:

The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners;
An end to the criminalization of free speech and expression, including any laws against criticism of government institutions or defamation of a king;
The cessation of all acts of torture and reprisal in GCC detention centers; and
The protection of free and open civil society space capable of fostering long-term stability and growth in the region.

The citizens of Bahrain and her neighbors have extraordinary potential. With unshackled voices, we can build stability and challenge extremism. What we need today is space for tolerance, plurality, and honest dialogue, the foundations of a democratic process that the reprisals against me and my colleagues seek to undermine.

Yours Sincerely,

Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain’s Prison Crisis Deepens: here.

This video says about itself:

Pinay OFW in Bahrain who Asked for Help was Finally Rescued

10 April 2015

Pinay OFW In Bahrain Asking For Help (Abby Luna)

From the South China Morning Post:

Filipino maid ‘beaten and raped‘ is rescued from Bahrain employer after Facebook appeal goes viral

Agence France-Presse in Bahrain

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 April, 2015, 8:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 April, 2015, 10:53am

The Philippines rescued a Filipino maid from her employer in Bahrain after she posted a desperate cry for help on her Facebook page.

Staff at the Philippine embassy were alerted to the plight of Abby Luna, who claims she was raped and beaten by her employer’s son, after she posted the video on her Facebook page. The video attracted about 78,000 shares and 19,000 likes.

“The rescue was prompted by the video message… She is now under the care of our embassy,” foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose said. Philippine embassy officials and staff from Luna’s employment agency picked her up from her employer’s house, Jose said, adding that police were investigating the incident.

Luna’s alleged assailant denied to he attacked her, Ricky Aragon, vice-consul at the Philippine embassy in Bahrain, said.

In the three-minute long video, which appears to have been made on a webcam, a sobbing Luna accused her employer’s “drug addict” son of raping her. She also posted a written appeal for viewers to contact the Philippine embassy on her behalf.

“Help me get out of here. I’m scared. Until now, my genitals hurt. My leg is bruised. He (attacker) punched my leg to immobilise me,” said the 28-year-old, who had been working in Bahrain for a year.

“After my employer’s son abused me, he threatened to kill me and bury me in the desert if I tell anyone about what happened.”

Luna said her employer did not believe her claims of being raped and beaten and insisted she finish the remaining two months of her contract before she could go home. Her employer also told her to have an abortion if she fell pregnant, she added.

Luna is among an estimated 10 million Filipinos working overseas to escape poverty and high levels of unemployment in the Philippines.

Many overseas Filipino workers, who account for a tenth of the country’s population of 100 million, work in menial jobs and endure dangerous working conditions.

Last year, a Filipino maid, Nargelene Mendez, was rescued from a house in Saudi Arabia after posting a video on her Facebook page claiming her employer had abused her.

In Hong Kong, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian domestic worker accused her employer of subjecting her to six months of physical abuse.

Erwiana, 23, underwent treatment at the Amal Sehat Islamic Hospital in Sragen, Indonesia, after boarding a flight from the SAR.

Photographs of Erwiana’s injuries quickly spread through social media and led to a demonstration of thousands of people through Hong Kong’s Central district. Police arrested her employer former beautician Law Wan-tung on January 20, 2014, as she tried to board a flight to Thailand. She was sentenced to six years in prison and fined HK$15,000 earlier this year.

Maids working in the Middle East frequently suffer abuse.

Human Rights Watch has called on the United Arab Emirates to reform a restrictive visa system and pass a labour law to stop domestic workers [from being] exploited.

OFW raped by employer’s son in Bahrain rescued by embassy: here.

Human rights and free speech lagging in Gulf monarchies. Post-Arab Spring oppression increasingly involves harsh penalties for dissent, including torture, stripping citizenship: here.