Saudi airstrikes kill refugees in Yemen


This 2013 video is called Ethiopian refugees being tortured in Saudi Arabia.

Now, in 2015, it seems that even torturing refugees is still not bad enough …

From Reuters news agency today:

An airstrike [by the Saudi Arabian air force] hit the area of the Mazraq refugee camp in the northern Yemen district of Haradh Monday, killing 21 people, humanitarian workers told Reuters.

An air strike at a camp for displaced people and refugees in Houthi-controlled northern Yemen on Monday killed 45 people and wounded 65, the International Organisation for Migration said: here.

Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Yemen. Perpetuating chaos and lawlessness in the Middle East: here.

Egyptian military dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced at a meeting of the Arab League on Sunday that the organization had agreed in principle to the formation of a regional military force: here.

Pakistan declines to join Saudi Arabia’s anti-Iran alliance. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has rejected, at least for now, Saudi Arabia’s entreaties for Pakistani troops to help guard the Saudi border with northern Yemen, controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite forces: here.

Was British Conservative Enoch Powell a racist child abuser?


This BBC video series from Britain is called Enoch Powell, Rivers of Blood.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Enoch Powell investigated as alleged member of Westminster paedophile network

Posted 2 hours ago by Cahal Milmo

Enoch Powell, the Conservative anti-immigrant firebrand, is being investigated as an alleged member of a claimed Westminster paedophile network after his name was supplied to police by a senior Anglican bishop.

The name of the late MP, one of the most divisive politicians of the late 20th century, was provided to Scotland Yard after a clergyman came forward with claims from the 1980s relating to ritual satanic abuse.

Mr Powell, a maverick politician who achieved notoriety with his so-called Rivers of Blood speech decrying migration to Britain, is the latest senior Parliamentarian to be made the subject of police inquiries into an alleged Establishment sex ring.

The Metropolitan Police has several ongoing investigations relating to claims against suspected abusers, including the former Liberal MP Cyril Smith. Detectives are also investigating allegations against former Home Secretary Leon Brittan.

The Independent understands that the claims against Mr Powell were passed to police by the Right Reverend Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, more than a year ago but they have only now been made public.

The Rt Rev Butler, who is the lead on safeguarding for the Church of England, contacted police after details of the allegations against the late Conservative politician were passed to him by a fellow clergyman, Dominic Walker, the former Bishop of Monmouth.

It is understood that the Rt Rev Walker first heard the claims when he was counselling young adults as a curate in the 1980s and claims were made that an unknown number of MPs had been involved in satanic cult-type abuse.

Scotland Yard said it did not name individuals being investigated as part of its ongoing inquiries into the alleged sex rings.

See also here.

Australian priest blames victim for her murder


Jill Meagher, who was murdered in Melbourne. Photograph: Facebook/PR Image/AAP

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Jill Meagher‘s family criticise Catholic priest over ‘disgusting’ claim

Priest reportedly told students at a Melbourne primary school that if Meagher had been more ‘faith filled’ she would have been home and ‘not walking down Sydney Road at 3am’

This victim blaming is even worse for being part of a sermon to primary school children.

Merran Hitchick

Sunday 29 March 2015 06.36 BST

A Catholic priest in Melbourne has reportedly been criticised for a speech in which he said Jill Meagher would have been at home instead of out on the night she was raped and killed if she was more “faith filled”.

Meagher was murdered by Adrian Bayley after a night out Melbourne in September 2012. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The priest delivered his homily at an end-of-term service for a Catholic primary school in Melbourne on Friday and radio station 3AW reported he held up a newspaper article with a picture of Bayley on it to make his point. The report says he told a crowd of about 100 that if Meagher had been more “faith filled” she would have been home and “not walking down Sydney Road at 3am”.

Meagher’s family were outraged by the report and said it was a “stupid thing to say”.

“Adrian Bayley was out there that night looking for a victim and found her,” Joan Meagher, Jill Meagher’s mother-in-law told the Irish Independent. “He was looking for anyone, it didn’t matter to him who the person was.

Thomas Meagher, Jill’s husband, put a statement on Facebook calling the comments “disgusting”.

“What a truly abhorrent lesson to teach a child,” he wrote. “How a human being with such dangerous and misogynistic views can be allowed pass those messages onto children is depressing. Shameful.”

The Catholic Church has apologised for the comments, the Age reports, with one official saying the church did not support the “totally inappropriate” and offensive” comments.

Monsignor Greg Bennett, vicar-general of the archdiocese of Melbourne, went on radio to apologise.

“I’ve spoken with the priest; he acknowledges that the homily wasn’t appropriate and apologises for the offence and upset it has caused,” he told 3AW.

“The reference to Jill Meagher in particular was offensive and inappropriate and the people of Victoria and Ireland mourn her sad and tragic death.

See also here.

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.

Whatever Happened to Bahrain’s Torture Reforms? Despite promises of change, abuses by police and security services remain commonplace in the kingdom: 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.