By Conrad Landin in Scotland:
Exclusive: Ruth Davidson called to condemn Scottish Tory MP over links to coup-backing lobby group
SCOTTISH TORY leader Ruth Davidson is facing calls to condemn one of her MPs, after he met with a US lobby group linked to a series of coups d’etat.
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie was sponsored by the International Republican Institute (IRI) on a two-day junket to Paris worth £450, the Morning Star can exclusively reveal.
The Tory politician told parliamentary authorities that the purpose of the January trip was “to discuss from a British perspective the response to populism and the changing political landscape in the West.”
The IRI has been linked to the failed 2002 coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
Labour’s Holyrood shadow Brexit minister Neil Findlay said: “The Scottish Conservatives have tried to distance themselves from the more extreme elements in the Conservative Party.
“And yet here we see one of their MPs working hand-in-glove with an organisation that is implicated in the undermining of democracy and sovereign states.”
Mr Findlay said Scottish Tory leader Ms Davidson “should condemn and distance herself from the actions of this MP.”
The IRI is one of several organisations funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, which was established by the US Congress in 1983 after US president Ronald Reagan’s seminal speech at Westminster calling for an international alliance “to foster the infrastructure of democracy.”
It received a US government grant of $339,998 (over £230,000 at the time) for “political party building” in Venezuela prior to the short-lived 2002 coup.
On the day Mr Chavez was temporarily ousted, IRI president George A Folsom said Venezuelans “rose up to defend democracy.”
Mr Lucas was an avowed opponent of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and counselled the opposition to refuse to work with the social democrat government in order to cripple it, according to the New York Times.
In 2004 a group of right-wing military chiefs ousted the Aristide government in a coup.
The IRI said the sham election which followed was “free of violence and overt acts of intimidation” and appeared credible.
SNP MP Chris Stephens told the Star: “This revelation demonstrates that the Scottish Tories, far from being centrist, are hard-line rightwingers, whose views on domestic and international issues continue to alienate the electorate.
“Ruth Davidson should distance herself from Bowie. The extremist views held by the Scottish Tories are the reason they have lost 21 elections in a row in Scotland.”
Nine years on from the coup, we still need to stand up for Honduras: here.
Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:
Photo of 2-year-old girl feeds outrage over US immigration policy
In the United States, criticism is growing against President Trump’s immigration policy. …
And if there is one image that feeds that indignation, it is the above photo by the American photojournalist John Moore. Some American newspapers have published it and the photo is widely shared on social media.
We see a 2-year-old girl from Honduras who looks up cryingly at her mother, who is being arrested by the border police. They were part of a group of about twenty people who had crossed the border with Texas. The border police caught them on 12 June at McAllen.
The US American photographer John Moore was there. He has been working along the Mexican border for ten years. “When the border patrol noted the names of the people, I could see a mother holding a young child. … [The Border Patrol] … asked the mother to set down her daughter. At that moment, the young child broke into tears, and she started wailing. ”
“And I took a knee and had very few frames of that moment before it was over. Almost overwhelmed by emotions, she picked up her daughter, and they were rushed into the van and all taken away.” I had to take a few deep breaths to recover.”
The mother still said that they came from Honduras. They had been on the road for one month and were exhausted. “But as a father – and I have a toddler myself. It was very difficult to see what was happening in front of my lens and thinking what it would be like for my kids to be separated from me”, says Moore. “Because I thought they would be separated quickly. I saw from their faces that they had no idea what would happen to them.”
It is not clear whether this girl has really been separated from her mother. This usually does not happen immediately with the arrest. It happens when the parents are prosecuted because they cross the border illegally. Then they are not allowed to keep their children in prison.
The US government recently introduced a zero tolerance policy. Almost 2,000 children have been separated from their families since April. According to the rules, children under 5 years of age may stay with their parents. But that does not always seem to be the case in practice. Due to language problems or lack of staff in the reception centers it sometimes goes wrong.
Unknown where the girl is
The American BuzzFeed News made inquiries with the American border police last weekend. A spokesperson did not know what had happened to this girl. …
Photographer John Moore also does not know what happened to her. “I would very much like to know. Ever since I took those pictures, I think about that moment often. And it’s emotional for me every time.”
In Honduras, there was a right-wing military coup deposing the center-left president in 2009. Then President Obama at least verbally condemned that coup; but his then Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton supported it. Ever since, the regime, its death squad supporters and violent drug dealers massively murder pro-democracy activists, environmentalists, indigenous people, teachers, lawyers, feminists, journalists and little girls who complain about bad situations at schools.
BORDER PATROL CHASE ENDS IN DEADLY CRASH At least five people were killed and several others injured when an SUV believed to be carrying undocumented immigrants crashed in southern Texas after being chased by Border Patrol agents. [HuffPost]
PROTESTERS DESCEND ON TEXAS TENT CITY Constructed last week to shelter migrant children, the site became home to a protest Sunday as crowds marched to oppose the separation of immigrant families at the border. [HuffPost]
Trump under fire after blaming Democrats for child refugee scandal: here.
ALMOST 2,000 children were separated from their families at the US border over six weeks, officials say. Following a Trump administration crackdown on ‘illegal’ border crossings from Mexico, adults are being detained, meaning the children with them are removed from their care. The issue is causing a growing political storm in the US. Last Thursday Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible to defend the ‘zero tolerance’ approach: here.
This video says about itself:
3 March 2016
Activist Berta Cáceres was murdered in Honduras last night. She’s spent decades fighting for indigenous communities, against environmental destruction. It was dangerous work that made her a target for death threats.
By Chris Williamson, Labour MP in Britain:
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
It’s time to end spyware sales to Honduras
The call follows recent challenges by shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle to the government’s highly questionable decision to allow sales of spyware to the Honduran government.
In their letter to Fox the organisations describe, with chilling examples, the alarming human rights record of Honduras. Political activists and human rights defenders generally are subject to targeted repression, through various means, including illegal surveillance.
International bodies such as the EU and the Office of the United Nations high commissioner for human rights have frequently drawn attention to serious human rights violations in Honduras.
A report by Global Witness Witness in January 2017 entitled Honduras: The Deadliest Place to Defend the Planet reported that 123 land and environmental activists were “murdered in Honduras since the 2009 coup, with countless others threatened, attacked or imprisoned.”
The murder of renowned Honduran environmentalist Berta Caceres demonstrated collusion between the state security forces and a hydro-dam company to carry out surveillance of members of Caceres’s organisation COPINH.
As part of the strategy to control and neutralise community protests, surveillance increased in the months and hours leading up to her assassination.
Such illegal surveillance is not an isolated occurrence but is part of a wider pattern of repression by the Honduran state.
A Peace Brigades International report in 2016 noted that eight prominent Honduran human rights activists were on a government list to be put under illegal surveillance.
Yet the Westminster government seemingly ignored this wealth of evidence of the actual use of illegal surveillance and abuse of human rights when issuing the export licences.
Despite multiple allegations of fraud, Trump recognised Hernandez, a conservative US ally, as the election winner.
In doing so, he ignored poll observers’ findings and calls for a new election by the Organisation of American States (OAS), members of Congress and the opposition Honduran Alliance Against Dictatorship party.
Trump’s action flagrantly contradicted stated US policy on Honduras, which the State Department sets out as “focused on strengthening democratic governance, including the promotion of human rights and the rule of law.”
Following that election, Hernandez’s National Party government cracked down brutally on legitimate protest, using the police, the military and also, allegedly, death squads.
His government has also been accused of links with organised crime, including drug-trafficking gangs.
Supporters of the Honduran Alliance Against Dictatorship party have been protesting on the streets against fraud in the presidential elections since the election result was declared.
The street demonstrations have been met with a mobilisation of thousands of police, Swat teams, soldiers and military police. At least 40 people have been killed and more than 2,000 detained.
The UN high commissioner for human rights recently published a shocking report on the deaths of 23 Honduran political activists in these protests.
The report condemns the 23 murders, at least 16 of which it affirms resulted from state security forces shooting directly into crowds.
But human rights organisations such as the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) say the government is responsible for upwards of 35 deaths and the arrests of at least 1,350 people, many of whom remain in jail.
Today, 26 political prisoners who protested about the rigging of the presidential elections are known to be incarcerated in high-security jails, yet not a single person has been investigated or charged for any of the extrajudicial assassinations carried out since the November elections.
But Trump is not bothered by these blatant abuses of democratic norms and human rights. The US preoccupation in Latin America is not with compliant states that bend to and serve US political, economic and military interests. Instead, it is focused on forcing “regime change” in countries which do not toe the US line.
And, it seems, the British government is not perturbed by these abuses either. Further weight needs to be added to the campaign by the human rights organisations and the Labour Party’s challenges to ensure that no further export licences are granted for the sale of any equipment to the Honduran government that could be used for internal repression.
Chirs Williamson MP is president of Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America. You can sign a petition to Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and Theresa May against Britain selling spyware to Honduras at bit.ly/honduraspetition. You can follow Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America at www.facebook.com/LabourFriendsofProgressiveLatinAmerica and twitter.com/labourfplam.
Google and Amazon are assisting authoritarian governments in the Middle East aligned with Washington to censor the internet and prevent the use of encrypted communications by their populations: here.
USA: The Trump administration announced yesterday that it is ending temporary protected status (TPS) for 86,000 Hondurans who have lived in the United States for nearly 20 years. To date, the Trump administration has terminated TPS status for 425,000 immigrants, which will lead to a mass deportation roughly equal to the population of Minneapolis, Cleveland or Oakland: here.
This video says about itself:
5 December 2017
The ongoing demonstrations continue to call for Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez to step down, and for the National Elections Commission to finalize an announcement.
Honduran elite police, known as “Cobras” are now refusing to confront the protesters and are demanding an end to the crisis.
By Nathan Akehurst in Britain:
Monday, February 12, 2018
Emily Thornberry grills Boris on British aid for Honduran crackdown
SHADOW foreign secretary Emily Thornberry demanded an explanation from the government today after it was revealed that British spyware was used by the Honduran government in a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.
Ms Thornberry also sought clarity on what purpose British officials were told that the equipment would be used for and what steps were taken to confirm this.
The equipment in question is worth at least £300,000 and can help to intercept and monitor a broad range of telecommunications including emails, phone calls and online messaging apps.
It has been reportedly used in Honduras’s sweeping clampdown on protests that followed November’s disputed general election result; thousands of police and troops swarmed protests, resulting in dozens of casualties.
Multiple exports appear to have taken place, including two licences for the export of “telecommunications interception equipment” in 2016 and 2017 and a further open licence of unknown value for other “information security equipment.”
Political repression in Honduras, including the monitoring of private communications, is well-documented. The country receives millions in state aid from the US.
Since the 2009 coup d’etat that ousted leftwinger Manuel Zelaya, allowing the still incumbent National Party to seize power, the administration has been accused of extrajudicial killings, election fraud and involvement with organised crime.
Ms Thornberry accused the British government of double standards, pointing to ministers’ lack of response to repression in Honduras — in contrast with vociferous condemnation of alleged state violence in Venezuela, where the left is being threatened by a putschist opposition funded by the US.
Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle has tabled a written parliamentary question asking for the name of the firm behind the equipment sale.
A Department for International Trade spokesman said it did not license exports in cases that it assessed there was a “clear risk that the goods may be used for internal repression.”
Such sales are illegal under the 2008 Export Control Act.
Honduras turns to online censorship and spyware to clamp down on protests: here.