Paris massacre of Algerians, 1961

This video about Franmce says about itself:

The 1961 Paris Massacre

The murder of hundreds of Algerian protestors was covered up by the French government for decades.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The forgotten Paris massacre

Friday 27th November 2015

PETER FROST looks back to 1961 at another act of bloodshed on the streets of France’s capital

THERE can be no excuse for the brutal acts of terrorism in Paris recently.

Watching the recent TV coverage and reading the papers I kept coming across the phrase “this is the worst atrocity in France since WWII.” Sadly that simply isn’t true.

Let me take you back to October 1961. President Charles de Gaulle was working hard to establish his and France’s pre-eminent position in what was then called the Common Market, a predecessor of the EU founded in 1957.

Britain wouldn’t join until 1973.

The French industrial working class was led by a powerful Communist Party that had earned its reputation and support as the most effective resistance to the nazi occupation forces just a few years before. The Communists were fighting de Gaulle’s right-wing policies — and just as militant as French workers were French farmers.

On the streets of Paris and other French towns, Algerian immigrants were protesting and demanding independence for their north African homeland, which was then a French colony. It would win its freedom in 1962.

The more militant Algerians were organised in the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), the main political party in Algeria. It had a socialist programme and many supporters among the Algerian immigrant population in France.

Opposing them, often with great violence, was the ultra right-wing Organisation Armee Secrete (OAS). These were a group of disaffected army officers, soldiers, veterans of the Foreign Legion, rightist politicians and others determined to keep Algeria a French colony.

The OAS was a well-armed paramilitary organisation. They were happy to use murder and terrorism in their campaign. Their battle cry was “Algeria is French and will remain so.”

Predictably the Algerians in and out of the NLF fought back. They too brought violent protest and mass demonstrations to the streets.

And so the scene was set for what would be an even bigger massacre on the streets of Paris than that of recent days.

A FLN march of 30,000 unarmed Algerian Muslims demonstrated in central Paris against a racist curfew. Seven thousand police and special security forces armed with heavy riot clubs and guns attacked the march and hundreds of Muslims were beaten, shot, strangled and even drowned.

Thousands were rounded up and taken to detention centres around the city where there were more beatings and killings.

Accurate figures for deaths were never issued and the media, which was much more heavily controlled by the state at the time, hushed up and underplayed casualty figures and the events.

How many died? No-one knows for sure. Best estimates suggest more than 200, but later eyewitness reports over the years have indicated the number of victims could be very much higher.

Among those eyewitnesses were some foreign journalists who found their agencies and publications strangely reluctant to print their stories. Some reported piles of Muslim corpses “like piles of logs in a forest.”

They also reported seeing large numbers of drowned bodies floating in the River Seine, where crowds of demonstrators had been driven into the water by armed police. Bodies were being recovered downstream for weeks afterwards.

Thousands of Algerians were rounded up and brought to detention centres, where the violence against them continued. Scores of Algerians were murdered on the orders of senior police officers in the courtyard of the central police headquarters.

The head of Paris police at the time, and the man who ordered the attack on the peaceful march that ended in a massacre, was Maurice Papon. He advised his forces that there would be no action taken against them, however violent or illegal their acts.

Papon was a nazi. When Hitler occupied France he became a leading police officer in the Vichy government that collaborated with the nazi occupying forces.

After the war Papon also tortured prisoners as head of a police department in Algeria during the colonial war.

Rather than being brought to justice, de Gaulle awarded him the Legion of Honour. Papon was finally forced to resign in 1967 after the suspicious disappearance of Moroccan leader Mehdi Ben Barka.

That disgrace didn’t end his public career. Instead he entered parliament and de Gaulle made him a director of the Sud Aviation company, which created Concorde. He became an MP and a millionaire.

Finally in 1981 details about his WWII nazi past emerged in a satirical magazine. In 1998 he was convicted of crimes against humanity for his part in the deportation of more than 1,600 Jews to concentration camps.

He served only four years and was subsequently released from prison in 2002 on the grounds of ill health. He died in 2007.

Just like his WWII war crimes, Papon’s 1961 Paris massacre was largely covered up at the time.

The French press repeated official figures that only two and, later, five people had died in the demonstration.

Government-owned and controlled French TV showed Algerians being shipped out of France after the demonstration, but showed none of the police violence.

In Britain the Establishment media stuck to the official French government version, including lies that the Algerians had opened fire first.

A year later Algeria won its independence. As the French empire slowly crumbled, north African Muslim immigrants faced racism and ghetto living in France. They filled the low-paid anti-social jobs, and predictably resentment grew.

Generations of marginalisation and alienation provided fertile ground for fundamentalism to put down its evil roots.

Other parts of the old French empire have all been major targets for fundamentalist terrorist groups. Places such as Lebanon, where Beirut was once known as the Paris of the Levant; the Sahara state of Mali, when the Foreign Legion held sway in places such as Timbuktu; and Tunisia’s tourist beaches.

There is an old saying: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sadly it seems to be more relevant every day.

Since the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, new revelations have provided more evidence that Islamist elements who launched the attack were well known to the intelligence services before the attack that killed 130 people: here.

Tony Blair, godfather of ISIS, wants to bomb Syria

This video says about itself:

Inside Iraq – Are Bush and Blair above the law?

7 June 2010

Many attempts have been made to try Tony Blair and George Bush for war crimes, but to no avail. In this episode of Inside Iraq, we ask: Is justice the property of the strong and is this a case of might is right?

Tony Blair is not only literally the godfather of a child of fellow warmonger Rupert Murdoch (with whom he quarreled later in a sexual jealousy conflict). Blair is also figuratively the godfather of ISIS terrorism. Because, as President Obama and many others have pointed out, without George W Bush’s and Tony Blair’s 2003 war on Iraq, there would be no ISIS now.

By Luke James in Britain:

Blair renews call for Britain to take military action in Syria

Friday 27th November 2015

TONY BLAIR has made a renewed call for Britain to bomb Syria — during a recording for a comedy podcast.

The unpopular former prime minister made a belated apology last month for dragging Britain into the Iraq war in 2003 on the basis of his “dodgy dossier.”

But now Mr Blair has backed David Cameron’s campaign for another British military intervention in the Middle East.

He played cheerleader for the Tory PM on Wednesday evening while recording the lighthearted Political Animal podcast, which is hosted by Labour adviser turned comedian Matt Forde.

Asked if he supported bombing, Mr Blair replied: “I would support the position that has been set out, not just by David Cameron, but by many Labour MPs.

“I think it’s important that we take strong action against Isis and take that action against them where they are headquartered, which is in Syria, so obviously I would support that.”

Stop the War convenor Lindsey German said Mr Cameron has failed to explain how bombing would improve the situation in Syria.

And she told the Star: “Tony Blair conveniently omits that these groups have grown since the war on terror began.

His policies of bombing and invasion set the world on fire. Now he wants to fan the flames even further.”

Mr Blair also indicated that further unwelcome political interventions could be expected from him.

He said he would be willing to appear alongside his historic rival Gordon Brown at events in the campaign to keep Britain in the European Union.

Turkish neo-nazi murdered Russian pilot

This video from Turkey, with English subtitles, says about itself:

12 March 2015

The Maraş massacre (Turkish: Maraş katliamı) was the massacre of about one hundred Alevi people in the city of Kahramanmaraş in December 1978 by the neo-fascist Grey Wolves.

The Grey Wolves were founded by Colonel Alparslan Türkeş, an admirer of Adolf Hitler; charged with “fascist and racist activities” in 1945. The Grey Wolves still distribute Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf.

What a shame that ugly neo-nazis abuse the name of beautiful animals.

By James Tweedie in Britain:

Grey Wolves Fascist Killed Russian Pilot

Friday 27th November 2015

Turkmen Brigade murderer a Turkish citizen with far-right links

THE rebel leader who boasted of murdering a Russian pilot shot down over Syria is a member of the Turkish Grey Wolves fascist paramilitary group.

The Morning Star can reveal that Alparslan Celik — deputy commander of the Turkmen Brigade that shot at the parachuting crew of the Su-24 tactical bomber downed in a Turkish ambush — is a Turkish citizen from Elazig province.

Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov — earlier incorrectly identified as Major Sergei Rumyantsev — was killed by Turkmen forces after ejecting from his jet on Tuesday.

His navigator Captain Konstantin Murakhtin was captured but rescued by Syrian and Russian special forces on Wednesday — the first known use of Russian ground forces in Syria’s civil war.

Mr Celik quickly claimed that his supposedly native Turkmen militia had killed both pilots.

But Turkey’s Dogan news agency reported last year that he is a Turkish citizen whose father Ramazan was mayor of Keban municipality for the ultra-nationalist National Movement Party (MHP).

The Grey Wolves is the paramilitary wing of MHP and has been linked to the murders of hundreds of left-wing and liberal activists since the 1970s.

Celik Jnr has posted pictures of himself performing a Grey Wolves salute and his father reported last year that he had gone to fight “until martyrdom, if necessary.”

The Turkmen Brigade had been losing ground to Syrian army forces backed by Russian air power in northern Latakia province — close to the Turkish border — in the days prior to the incident.

And yesterday Russian customs officials began checking Turkish imports for possible terrorist threats.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu insisted Ankara didn’t want the shooting to “affect our relations with Russia,” and insisted the leaders of the two states would meet soon, without giving details.

Stop British government bombing Syria

This video from London, England says about itself:

Jeremy Corbyn Fiery Syrian Refugee Rally. FULL SPEECH at Parliament Square After Elected

12 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn addresses Parliament Square refugee rally

Jeremy Corbyn said he was “shocked beyond appalled” over some media coverage about refugees.

In his one of his first speeches since being elected Labour leader on Saturday, he addressed a rally about rights for refugees held in Parliament Square, Westminster.

He claimed “a lot of politicians had rediscovered their principles, their principles of humanity” over the refugees arriving in Europe in recent weeks.

Mr Corbyn called on people to open their hearts, minds and attitudes “towards people who are desperate“.

Jeremy Corbyn has promised to lead a Labour “fight back” after being elected the party’s new leader by a landslide.

The veteran left winger got almost 60% of more than 400,000 votes cast, trouncing his rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

He immediately faced an exodus of shadow cabinet members – but senior figures including Ed Miliband urged the party’s MPs to get behind him.

Mr Corbyn was a 200-1 outsider when the three month contest began.

But he was swept to victory on a wave of enthusiasm for his anti-austerity message and promise to scrap Britain’s nuclear weapons and renationalise the railways and major utilities.

He told BBC News he had been a “bit surprised” by the scale of his victory but his campaign had showed “politics can change and we have changed it”.

He will now select his shadow cabinet – but without a string of existing members including Ms Cooper, Tristram Hunt and Rachel Reeves – who have all ruled themselves out.

He has also hinted that he wants to change the format of Prime Minister’s Questions – he faces David Cameron across the despatch box for the first time on Wednesday – suggesting other Labour MPs might get a turn.

The Islington North MP won on the first round of voting in the leadership contest, taking 251,417 of the 422,664 votes cast – against 19% for Mr Burnham, 17% for Ms Cooper and 4.5% for Ms Kendall. Former minister and Gordon Brown ally Tom Watson was elected deputy leader.

Corbyn supporters chanted “Jez we did” as he took to the stage, putting on his glasses to deliver his acceptance speech.

The leftwinger, who has spent his entire 32 year career in the Commons on the backbenches, promised to fight for a more tolerant and inclusive Britain – and to tackle “grotesque levels of inequality in our society“.

He said the leadership campaign “showed our party and our movement, passionate, democratic, diverse, united and absolutely determined in our quest for a decent and better society that is possible for all”.

“They are fed up with the inequality, the injustice, the unnecessary poverty. All those issues have brought people in, in a spirit of hope and optimism.”

He said his campaign had given the lie to claims that young Britons were apathetic about politics, showing instead that they were “a very political generation that were turned off by the way in which politics was being conducted – we have to, and must, change that”.

Mr Corbyn added: “The fightback now of our party gathers speed and gathers pace.”

His first act as leader was to attend a “Refugees Welcome Here” rally, joining tens of thousands of people marching through central London in support of the rights of refugees.

Addressing cheering crowds in Parliament Square, he delivered an impassioned plea to the government to recognise its legal obligations to refugees from Syria and elsewhere and to find “peaceful solutions to the world’s problems”.

“Open your your hearts. Open your minds, open your attitude to suffering people, who are desperate and who are in need of somewhere safe to live,” added the new Labour leader.

Singer Billy Bragg then led the crowd in a rendition of socialist anthem The Red Flag.

Mr Corbyn earlier told supporters his first day at the helm of his party in Parliament would be spent opposing government plans to “shackle” trade unions by imposing higher thresholds for strike ballots.

By Luke James in Britain:

Corbyn Blows Apart PM Bid to Bomb Syria

Friday 27th October 2015

DAVID CAMERON’S bid to bomb Syria was frustrated yesterday as MPs pulled apart the Prime Minister’s claims that air strikes would be legal, effective or make Britain safer.

Mr Cameron hoped to secure a parliamentary majority in favour of bombing by personally making the case in a Commons statement.

But Mr Cameron held back from calling a snap vote after facing tough questions from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as senior Tories.

Wide-ranging concerns raised by MPs from all parties could see the PM face a repeat of 2013, when Labour and progressive MPs united with Tory rebels to block bombing in Syria.

The PM had suggested a vote could be called as soon as Monday when he said earlier this week that MPs should “consider it (bombing) over the weekend.”

Downing Street sources were cautious after yesterday’s debate, insisting: “We’re not putting a timetable on a vote.”

And Mr Cameron told MPs: “Let me be clear — there will not be a vote in this House unless there is a clear majority for action, because we will not hand a publicity coup to Isis (Islamic State).”

With Parliament sitting for just 16 more days before the Christmas break, he is running out of time to call a vote.

Mr Cameron argued Britain’s intervention was legal on the grounds of self-defence and claimed the RAF’s capabilities could reduce civilian casualties.

The PM insisted he had “learned the lessons of previous conflicts,” but added that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose army is the main ground force engaged in fighting Isis, would not be part of the solution.

But Mr Corbyn raised fears that bombing could trigger “unintended consequences” that would put Britain at more risk of attacks and further destabilise Syria.

He said: “The question must now be whether extending the UK bombing from Iraq to Syria is likely to reduce or increase that threat and whether it will counter or spread the terror campaign Isis is waging in the Middle East.”

Labour veteran Paul Flynn went further, warning bombing would boost Isis and “escalate a regional war into a world war between Christians and Muslims.”

Dennis Skinner also ordered Mr Cameron to “keep out” of the “crazy war,” while only a handful of Blairites suggested they would break the Labour whip to back bombing.

Labour’s shadow cabinet met to consider the party’s position yesterday afternoon and will meet again on Monday.

Within the Tory ranks, Mr Cameron was boosted by the support of Crispin Blunt, the foreign affairs select committee chairman who voted against bombing in 2013.

But defence select committee chairman Julian Lewis was among senior Tory backbenchers who were sceptical of Mr Cameron’s plan.

Mr Lewis expressed disbelief at Mr Cameron’s claim that there were 70,000 Free Syrian Army soldiers which Britain could support with air strikes. US general Lloyd Austin estimated the number of “moderate” rebels in Syria as “four or five.”

European governments plan intensified military intervention in Syria: here.

Shelley’s newly discovered pro-peace poem

This video from England says about itself:

Poetical Essay: Shelley back from the dead

10 November 2015

In November 2015 the Bodleian Libraries acquired its 12 millionth printed book: a unique copy of a pamphlet entitled Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things, written by ‘a Gentleman of the University of Oxford’ and printed in 1811. The pamphlet was the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), then a student at Oxford University, and now recognised as one of the great English poets of the 19th century. The acquisition is a momentous event for the public, for scholars, the University and the Bodleian Libraries. Known to have been published by Shelley in 1811 but lost until recently, Shelley’s Poetical Essay is, thanks to the generosity of a benefactor, now freely available to all in digitized form at

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things

Thursday 26th November 2015

This rediscovered poem by PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY (1792-1822), now on view at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, is an acute commentary on war and colonial oppression which demonstrates his significance for Karl Marx and the Chartist movement and why he is an inspiration for a new generation of poets today

DESTRUCTION marks thee! o’er the blood-stain’d heath
Is faintly borne the stifled wail of death;
Millions to fight compell’d, to fight or die
In mangled heaps on War’s red altar lie.
The sternly wise, the mildly good, have sped
To the unfruitful mansions of the dead
Whilst fell Ambition o’er the wasted plain
Triumphant guides his car—the ensanguin’d rein
Glory directs; fierce brooding o’er the scene,
With hatred glance, with dire unbending mien,
Fell Despotism sits by the red glare
Of Discord’s torch, kindling the flames of war.
For thee then does the Muse her sweetest lay
Pour ’mid the shrieks of war, ’mid dire dismay;
For thee does Fame’s obstrep’rous clarion rise,
Does Praise’s voice raise meanness to the skies.
Are we then sunk so deep in darkest gloom,
That selfish pride can virtue’s garb assume?
Does real greatness in false splendour live?
When narrow views the futile mind deceive,
When thirst of wealth, or frantic rage for fame,
Lights for awhile self-interest’s little flame,
When legal murders swell the lists of pride;
When glory’s views the titled idiot guide,
Then will oppression’s iron influence show
The great man’s comfort as the poor man’s woe.
Is’t not enough that splendour’s useless glare,
Real grandeur’s bane, must mock the poor man’s stare;
Is’t not enough that luxury’s varied power
Must cheat the rich parader’s irksome hour,
While what they want not, what they yet retain,
Adds tenfold grief, more anguished throbs of pain
To each unnumbered, unrecorded woe,
Which bids the bitterest tear of want to flow;
But that the comfort, which despotic sway
Has yet allowed, stern War must tear away.

Ye cold advisers of yet colder kings,
To whose fell breast no passion virtue brings,
Who scheme, regardless of the poor man’s pang,
Who coolly sharpen misery’s sharpest fang,
Yourselves secure. Yours is the power to breathe
O’er all the world the infectious blast of death,
To snatch at fame, to reap red murder’s spoil,
Receive the injured with a courtier’s smile,
Make a tired nation bless the oppressor’s name,
And for injustice snatch the meed of fame.
Were fetters made for anguish, for despair?
Must starving wretches torment, misery bear?
Who, mad with grief, have snatched from grandeur’s store,
What grandeur’s hand had snatched from them before.
Yet shall the vices of the great pass on,
Vices as glaring as the noon-day sun,
Shall rank corruption pass unheeded by,
Shall flattery’s voice ascend the wearied sky;
And shall no patriot tear the veil away
Which hides these vices from the face of day?
Is public virtue dead?—is courage gone?
Bows its fair form at fell oppression’s throne?
Yes! it’s torn away—the crimes appear,
Expiring Freedom asks a parting tear,
A powerful hand unrolls the guilt-stain’d veil,
A powerful voice floats on the tainted gale,
Rising corruption’s error from beneath,
A shape of glory checks the course of death;
It spreads its shield o’er freedom’s prostrate form,
Its glance disperses envy’s gathering storm;
No trophied bust need tell thy sainted name,
No herald blazon to the world thy fame,
Nor scrolls essay an endless meed to give;
In grateful memory still thy deeds must live.
No sculptured marble shall be raised to thee,
The hearts of England will thy memoirs be.
To thee the Muse attunes no venal lyre,
No thirsts of gold the vocal lays inspire;
No interests plead, no fiery passions swell;
Whilst to thy praise she wakes her feeble shell,
She need not speak it, for the pen of fame
On every heart has written BURDETT’S name;
For thou art he, who dared in tumult’s hour,
Dauntless thy tide of eloquence to pour;
Who, fearless, stemmed stern Despotism’s source,
Who traced Oppression to its foulest course;
Who bade Ambition tremble on its throne—
How could I virtue name, how yet pass on
Thy name!—though fruitless thy divine essay,
Though vain thy war against fell power’s array,
Thou taintless emanation from the sky!
Thou purest spark of fires which never die!

Yet let me pause, yet turn aside to weep
Where virtue, genius, wit, with Franklin sleep;
To bend in mute affliction o’er the grave
Where lies the great, the virtuous, and the brave;
Still let us hope in Heaven (for Heaven there is)
That sainted spirit tastes ethereal bliss,
That sainted spirit the reward receives,
Which endless goodness to its votary gives.
Thine be the meed to purest virtue due—
Alas! the prospect closes to the view.
Visions of horror croud upon my sight,
They shed around their forms substantial night.
Oppressors’ venal minions! hence, avaunt!
Think not the soul of Patriotism to daunt;
Though hot with gore from India’s wasted plains,
Some Chief, in triumph, guides the tightened reins;
Though disembodied from this mortal coil,
Pitt lends to each smooth rogue a courtier’s smile;
Yet does not that severer frown withhold,
Which, though impervious to the power of gold,
Could daunt the injured wretch, could turn the poor
Unheard, unnoticed, from the statesman’s door
This is the spirit which can reckless tell
The fatal trump of useless war to swell;
Can bid Fame’s loudest voice awake his praise,
Can boldly snatch the honorary bays.
Gifts to reward a ruthless, murderous deed,
A crime for which some poorer rogue must bleed.
Is this then justice?—stretch thy powerful arm,
Patriot, dissolve the frigorific charm,
Awake thy loudest thunder, dash the brand
Of stern Oppression from the Tyrant’s hand;
Let reason mount the Despot’s mouldering throne,
And bid an injured nation cease to moan.
Why then, since justice petty crimes can thrall,
Should not its power extend to each, to all?
If he who murders one to death is due,
Should not the great destroyer perish too?
The wretch beneath whose influence millions bleed?
And yet encomium is the villain’s meed.
His crime the smooth-tongued flatterers conquest name,
Loud in his praises swell the notes of Fame.
Oblivion marks the murdering poor man’s tomb,
Brood o’er his memory contempt and gloom;
His crimes are blazoned in deformed array,
His virtues sink, they fade for aye away.
Snatch then the sword from nerveless virtue’s hand,
Boldly grasp native jurisdiction’s brand;
For justice, poisoned at its source, must yield
The power to each its shivered sword to wield,
To dash oppression from the throne of vice,
To nip the buds of slavery as they rise.
Does jurisprudence slighter crimes restrain,
And seek their vices to controul in vain?
Kings are but men, if thirst of meanest sway
Has not that title even snatched away.—
The fainting Indian, on his native plains,
Writhes to superior power’s unnumbered pains;
The Asian, in the blushing face of day,
His wife, his child, sees sternly torn away;
Yet dares not to revenge, while war’s dread roar
Floats, in long echoing, on the blood-stain’d shore.
In Europe too wild ruin rushes fast:
See! like a meteor on the midnight blast,
Or evil spirit brooding over gore,
Napoleon calm can war, can misery pour.
May curses blast thee; and in thee the breed
Which forces, which compels, a world to bleed;
May that destruction, which ’tis thine to spread,
Descend with ten-fold fury on thy head.
Oh! may the death, which marks thy fell career,
In thine own heart’s blood bathe the empoisoned spear;
May long remorse protract thy latest groan,
Then shall Oppression tremble on its throne.
Yet this alone were vain; Freedom requires
A torch more bright to light its fading fires;
Man must assert his native rights, must say
We take from Monarchs’ hand the granted sway;
Oppressive law no more shall power retain,
Peace, love, and concord, once shall rule again,
And heal the anguish of a suffering world;
Then, then shall things, which now confusedly hurled,
Seem Chaos, be resolved to order’s sway,
And errors night be turned to virtue’s day.

See also here.

Bahraini regime’s links to ISIS

This video says about itself:

British base in Bahrain is “slap in the face for everyone fighting for human rights”

8 December 2014

Activists are protesting in Bahrain. The reason: the country’s plans to host a permanent British military base. They say it’s a reward for London, which ignores human rights violation in Bahrain. The protesters carried banners “Shut up Iain Lindsay” – it’s British ambassador to the country who they want to be sacked. The UK military is expanding in the region after most of its projects were scrapped in the 70’s. The base costs more than 23 million dollars and will be used in fighting ISIS and as a training ground for Syrian rebels. Dominic Kavakeb from Bahrain’s Justice and Development Movement is In the NOW.

By Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, in the New York Times in the USA:

The Islamic State’s Bahraini Backers

NOV. 25, 2015

LONDON — “Sectarianism failed,” Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, told a news conference attended by Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington last week. It had not gained “a foothold in our country,” he went on, “but we will continue to be on our toes facing it.”

Mr. Kerry spoke, too, about military cooperation against Daesh, the group also known as the Islamic State or ISIS, and about working to “reduce the sectarian divisions together in Bahrain, which we saw resulted in a boycott of an election and challenges internally within the country.”

Characterizing the boycott that led opposition groups to call off participation in Bahrain’s November 2014 general election as sectarian is fundamentally wrong. The sectarianism that exists in Bahraini society is almost the reverse of what Mr. Kerry and Sheikh Khalid described: It comes not from the political opposition, but from within the state itself.

In November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry completed an investigation into human rights violations during the Bahraini government’s crackdown on Arab Spring protests earlier that year, and presented its findings to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. The king accepted the report’s recommendations as the basis for a reform program.

But the promised change never came. Instead, as a new report from Human Rights Watch details, the Bahraini security forces have continued to torture detainees using methods identical to those the commission documented in 2011. Violence and arbitrariness are widespread from arrest to prison, where collective punishment and beatings are well documented.

The opposition political societies (actual parties are illegal in Bahrain) had simple demands: the formation of a credible, independent judiciary and meaningful steps toward democratization. Because neither of these moderate demands was met in the four years following the Arab Spring, the opposition groups decided to boycott the elections.

With hindsight, this strategy was a mistake. It gave the government of Bahrain carte blanche after the elections, imprisoning opposition leaders like Ebrahim Sharif and Ali Salman. Human rights defenders like Nabeel Rajab suffered arbitrary arrest. Another rights defender, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is serving a life sentence, as is the blogger and activist Abduljalil al-Singace. According to a coalition of Bahraini human rights organizations, as many as 4,000 doctors, teachers, students, journalists, photographers and others are detained as political prisoners in Bahrain’s prisons; many have endured torture.

The same week that Sheikh Khalid spoke in Washington, two men had their death sentences upheld by Bahrain’s top appeals court. Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa were convicted of taking part in a bombing that killed a policeman in 2014, but both men claim they were tortured into confessing to the crime.

In 2014, five United Nations human rights experts, including the special rapporteur on torture, expressed concern that Mr. Ramadan, Mr. Moosa and other prisoners had made confessions under severe duress. Yet nothing now separates the two men from the firing squad save King Hamad’s whim — since he may sign either their death warrant or a royal pardon.

While Bahrain imprisons political activists and rights advocates at home, it also participates in the American-led coalition against the Islamic State. The bitter irony of this is that the Islamic State’s Bahraini recruits come not from among the government’s opponents, but from within its own ranks.

Unlike the United States, Britain and France, where typically the Islamic State recruits among alienated young people, in Bahrain the group finds willing jihadists in the establishment. The most prominent Bahraini member of the Islamic State, the terrorist preacher Turki al-Binali, comes from a family closely allied with the Khalifa royal family. Other recruits have come directly from the security forces of Bahrain. (Mr. Rajab, the human rights advocate, was imprisoned for six months recently for pointing out links between the Bahraini military and the Islamic State.)

Another Binali family member who has defected to the Islamic State, Mohamed Isa al-Binali, is a former Interior Ministry officer. He worked in Jaw Prison, a facility notorious for overcrowding and harsh conditions. One former prisoner told me that he’d witnessed Mr. Binali overseeing the ill treatment of juvenile Shiite inmates, not long before Mr. Binali disappeared in 2014 to join the Islamic State.

Mr. Binali was acclimated to violence and hatred in Bahrain’s prison system. This is not something Bahrain will ever admit to: For the government, the embarrassment is too great. But until it does, it cannot possibly combat extremism effectively at home.

This is an extremism of its own making, born out of the destruction of Shiite mosques and the sectarian language that many in government use — as Sheikh Khalid does — in an attempt to undermine the credibility of the democratic opposition. Bahrain, I fear, is heading in the direction of Saudi Arabia, where radical Salafism has fostered sectarianism and terrorism.

On Jan. 31, I discovered that my Bahraini citizenship had been revoked when I woke in London to find my name on a list published by the Bahrain News Agency. Alongside mine were the names of some 50 other activists, journalists and political figures — as well as those of about 20 affiliates of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, including Turki al-Binali and Mohamed al-Binali.

The reasons for revocation ranged from serious terrorism charges to “advocating regime change.” The message could not be clearer: For Bahrain, my human rights work was equivalent to terrorism.

How can a country that willfully refuses to differentiate between peaceful calls for democratic rights and terrorism deal with sectarian extremism? Earlier this year, President Obama promised to have the necessary “tough conversation” about these issues with Persian Gulf state allies. Yet Mr. Kerry just gave Bahrain a pass on the sectarianism at home that is feeding the Islamic State abroad.

Bahrain: NGOs condemn imprisonment and nationality revocation of photographer. Index on Censorship calls for the immediate release of Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi. Bahrain must end the criminalization of free speech and press: here.

36 Bahraini receive 429 years in prison, 13 stripped of citizenship: here.

Pentagon whitewash of hospital bombing rejected by Doctors Without Borders

This 4 October 2015 video is called Kunduz attack may amount to war crime – UN Human Rights chief.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

MSF/Doctors Without Borders: Kunduz report leaves important questions unanswered

Today, 20:08

MSF is shocked by the investigation report by the US military about their bombing of an MSF hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. According to MSF director Christopher Stokes the findings just cause more questions.

Stokes finds it shocking that US troops launched an attack without having a view of the target and without having a list of buildings that should not be attacked.

He also points out faltering communication. During the attack, MSF staff have called the US Americans to say that they made a mistake. Yet the Americans continued bombarding. In the bombardments at least thirty people died.

Huge negligence

The series of faults points according to MSF to a massive failure by the US military. The destruction of the hospital can not be brushed aside by the organization as a human error, as the military does .

“It seems that thirty people died and hundreds of thousands of people in Kunduz are now without life-saving care because the hospital was closest to an open field and roughly resembled the description of the target,” writes Stokes.

MSF again calls for an independent investigation. “Research into this terrible event should not only be done by the parties involved in the conflict in Afghanistan.”