Bahrain monarchy violates human rights, how about Britain?


This video is called Bahrain police shooting at independent cameraman filming and reporting.

From Middle East Monitor:

Bahraini exiles test Britain’s policy on statelessness

Alastair Sloan

Monday, 09 February 2015 12:26

The Al-Khalifa monarchy in Bahrain recently stripped over 70 exiled activists of their citizenship, eight of whom live in Britain. In 2012, they did something similar, stripping 31 human rights and pro-democracy activists of Bahraini citizenship, 11 of them living in the UK. These new exiles are testing Britain’s policy on statelessness.

Bahrain’s move is particularly ironic because much of its state security apparatus is made up of mercenary enforcers and interrogators from Pakistan, Yemen, Syria and Jordan. All have been given Bahraini citizenship, housing and salaries by the regime in return for their role in the torture, humiliation and shooting of peaceful pro-democracy protesters.

The Al-Khalifas use citizenship as a weapon. It is offered to those who take part in callous oppression, but remove it from citizens who call for democracy.

This latest move was choreographed carefully to coincide with the confiscation of passports from preachers and fighters associated with ISIS. Thus the authorities have conflated the two movements in a clumsy smear.

The British charity Asylum Aid has been conducting wide-ranging research into the negative impacts of statelessness, interviewing stateless persons in Britain who have been destitute for months. They have been detained by the UK immigration authorities despite evidence that they have no prospect of returning to their home country, or that they have been separated for years from their families overseas. Some have been forced to sleep on the streets. Many have seen their accommodation and support cancelled repeatedly and then reinstated. In the absence of a dedicated and accessible procedure to identify people who are stateless, they have been left in a legal limbo for years.

In a rare moment of progressive policy making, Britain has taken steps recently to address the problem of statelessness. Across the European Union, approximately 600,000 quasi-citizens are estimated to be stateless. The UK is so far the only EU member to implement substantive measures to assimilate stateless refugees, implementing a specialised asylum procedure from April 2013. Thousands of refugees are currently applying through the official mechanism, with immigration officials deciding each case carefully; it is not a straightforward process.

The British authorities must act to treat the Bahraini exiles stripped of their citizenship on the same basis as other refugees. However, as the repression in Bahrain grows worse, it is becoming increasingly clear that the British government is sticking to its commitment to support the Al-Khalifa regime. As I have reported previously elsewhere, Britain has been accused of harassing, rather than helping, such exiles, often in collusion with the Bahraini government.

In January, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond praised improvements in Bahrain’s human rights record, shortly before the Gulf state jailed its most prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, for six months. His “crime” was to send an “insulting tweet”. He is currently on bail pending an appeal scheduled for later this week. In July 2014, the Guardian revealed that Hammond had sat next to the Earl of Clanwilliam, a lobbyist for the Bahraini government, at a fundraising dinner for the Conservative Party.

The parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee also lamented the government’s decision not to “bite the bullet” – its own words – by designating Bahrain as a human rights “country of concern” for 2014. “We see little or no evidence that Bahrain has made enough progress in implementing political reform and safeguarding human rights,” the committee judged. Civil society organisations described the British government’s reluctance as a whitewash.

The FCO response was short, disdainful and factually inaccurate. “On the human rights front Bahrain is by no means perfect,” it insisted, “but it is a country that is making progress and its leadership has shown a willingness to engage with the human rights challenges that it faces.”

Research by Bahrain Watch, an NGO which has been tracking progress on the Al-Khalifa government’s alleged reforms, shows that if British officials believe Bahrain to be “making progress”, they are wilfully and obstinately ignorant.

Of the 25 recommendations made to improve human rights in Bahrain after the 2011 uprising, 11 have been violated openly, six have seen no action at all, five have had no details about their progress released by the government, and three have been implemented “partially”. Not a single reform is judged to have been implemented in full.

The leader of the main opposition Al-Wefaq Party, Ali Salman, was arrested recently on what are claimed to be trumped-up charges. He was also slapped with a travel ban just as he was about to embark on “a major European tour, meeting officials, think tanks, civil society leaders, academics and media professionals.”

Despite this, Britain announced recently a significant expansion to its military assets in Manama harbour, with plans for a full-scale naval base. The Royal Navy has deployed small minesweepers out of Bahrain for some years, but when larger vessels visit the port the crews sleep on board; there are limited facilities for such ships. With a naval base, British warships will be able to deploy regularly from Bahrain. The expansion of the base will resume a long term British military presence in the area and mark the end of a 40-year Middle East policy by the government. Controversially, the Bahrain government will foot the bill for building the Royal Navy facilities, effectively buying Britain’s silence over its ongoing human rights abuses.

Britain has a patchy record on human rights, but addressing statelessness has been a more positive example of what can be done. In applying this new policy rigorously and fairly, they must include Bahraini exiles, as they would any other refugee.

UN rights experts urge Bahrain to release arrested opposition leader: here.

A newly launched Arab news channel has been suspended in Bahrain after it aired an interview with a Shia opposition leader: here.

Racist German Pegida movement collapsing?


This video says about itself:

Germany: Watch hundreds march against PEGIDA in Berlin

19 January 2015

While BERGIDA, the Berlin division of PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West) staged a rally in Berlin on Monday, hundreds of people took to the streets in opposition.

According to German weekly stern today, the German xenophobic movement Pegida‘s big shots are fighting among themselves.

Stern writes that at least four executive members are resigning: spokeswoman Kathrin Oertel; Achim Exner, also a member of the rightist political party AfD; business consultant Bernd-Volker Lincke; and Thomas Tallacker, ex-CDU local politician in Meißen city. Tallacker had caused controversy with his attacks on refugees on Facebook.

Similarly, the founder of Pegida, Lutz Bachmann, had also attacked refugees on Facebook, calling them ‘shitty gangs’, ‘waste’ and ‘criminal cattle’. Talking about crime: Herr Bachmann himself has a very long criminal record.

Bachmann also depicted himself as Adolf Hitler on his Facebook account. When this became known, Bachmann resigned as fuehrer of Pegida. However, it seems that unofficially, he still acted as Pegida boss, which caused quarreling in the Islamophobic organisation.

Pegida movement on verge of total implosion as five of its leading members resign in disgust due to fears of being taken over by Germany’s far right: here.

Denmark: On January 19, 2015, supporters of the Pegida movement participated in their first Copenhagen rally, following earlier anti-Islam events in Dresden. In response, four times as many people showed up for an anti-Pegida rally to oppose their efforts: here.

Although the party congress of “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) that took place in Bremen last weekend was focused almost exclusively on organizational questions, the disagreements actually concerned the fundamental orientation of the party. The issue was to determine how an extreme right-wing party similar to the National Front (FN) in France could be established: here.

Attacks on foreigners have risen 130% since the autumn, according to Danilo Starosta, an expert on the far-right with the Dresden group Kulturbüro Sachsen, who blames Pegida for creating a “poisonous atmosphere” in the city: here.

Anti-fascists in Germany push back Islamophobic Pegida: here.

Afghan war refugee’s suicide attempt in Greece


This video from Greece says about itself:

18 January 2015

Raw footage: Consisting of 4 different videos taken by inmates of the Immigrant Concentration Camp in Corinth, Greece. They were originally posted on facebook by an Afghani refugee who managed to escape Greece and is now living in Germany.

In chronological order: In the first video, an Afghani inmate has climbed on the roof of a building in the Immigrant Detention Centre in Corinth and is attempting suicide; riot police (Greek MAT: Units of Order Restoration) are called to deal with the event.

In the second video, the other inmates, seeing the riot police and their fellow inmate on the roof, are shouting and trying to get out of the building. Riot police mercilessly beat on whoever manages to gets out and make use of crowd dispersing chemicals. Inmates from the windows are pleading with the riot police to leave so that their fellow inmate doesn’t commit suicide.

The hellish images continue in the third video where the riot police attacks inmates who are peacefully staging a sit-down protest and are refusing to enter the detention building. In the fourth video we see panicked inmates entering the packed building of the Detention Centre while being chased by the riot police and falling on each other.

Images that can’t be described by words and showcase the excruciating and inhuman practices of the Greek authorities against immigrants. The Corinth Immigrant Detention Centre has repeatedly been the ground of suicide attempts by inmates.

UN REPORT: AFGHANISTAN CIVILIAN CASUALTIES OVER 10,000 “The number of civilians killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan climbed by 22 percent in 2014 to reach the highest level in five years as foreign troops concluded their combat mission, the U.N. said in an annual report released Wednesday. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented 10,548 civilian casualties in 2014, the highest number in a single year since 2009. They include 3,699 civilian deaths, up 25 percent from 2013.” [AP]

U.S.-BACKED AFGHAN MILITIA LEADERS INSPIRE TERROR OF THEIR OWN “He and his neighbors did not fear the Taliban nearly as much as they did their protectors, Rahimullah’s militiamen, who have turned to kidnappings and extortion … Scattered across Afghanistan, men like Rahimullah continue to hold ground and rule villages. They are a significant part of the legacy of the American war here, brought to power amid a Special Operations counterinsurgency strategy that mobilized anti-Taliban militias in areas beyond the grasp of the Afghan Army.” [NYT]

Refugee murdered after German anti-immigrant demonstration


This 30 September 2014 video is called Asylum seekers abused in German refugee centres.

By Martin Kreickenbaum in Germany:

Germany: Refugee murdered after anti-immigrant demonstration

16 January 2015

An Eritrean refugee, Khaled Idris Bahray, was murdered Monday night in the German city of Dresden just a few hours after a right-wing anti-immigrant rally called by the Pegida movement involving, according to the police estimates, 25,000 people. The timing of the murder and the character of subsequent police investigations raise major questions.

Twenty-year-old Bahray was found at 7:40 a.m. Tuesday morning by local residents in the courtyard of a prefabricated housing block. He lived in the block in the district of Dresden Leubniz-Neuostra together with seven other refugees in a flat assigned by the city administration. A roommate found him covered in blood; rigor mortis had already set in.

According to the local police, however, “there was no evidence of third-party involvement”. Reports in the local newspaper reveal that the first reaction of the police press office on Tuesday morning was that there was “nothing to report.” The dead refugee was first mentioned by the police in the afternoon.

It was only after reports circulated in the Morgenpost Sachsen and Twitter that Bahray had been found in a pool of blood with clear injuries to his neck and chest that the police took a different tack. On Wednesday, Dresden police chief Dieter Kroll declared: “It is not possible to ascertain what happened based on the external characteristics of the corpse. There is an initial suspicion of unnatural death. The homicide commission is investigating.”

Only at this time, some 30 hours after the discovery of the corpse, were forensic specialists sent to the scene of the crime. The decision of the police to refrain from immediate follow-up after finding a bloodied corpse is scandalous. One Green Party parliamentary deputy has issued a complaint against the police claiming they deliberately decided not to intervene.

The behavior of the police and judicial authorities cannot be explained away by mere negligence. Rather, it is clear that there was a deliberate attempt to cover up a racist murder. Bahray’s body was found less than two kilometres away from the end point of the demonstration by Pegida and its crowd of far-right extremists, anti-Islam fanatics and nationalists.

Despite the likely political background to the murder, the police are restricting their enquiries to interrogating the residents of the block where the refugee was housed. Forensic scientists have searched for clues in the refugee’s apartment, but the state attorney has announced that a murder weapon had not been found.

The entire manner of the police investigation recalls the cover-up conducted by the investigating authorities in the murders carried out by the neo-fascist NSU terrorist cell. The NSU was able to carry out its series of murders and bank robberies for many years while the authorities repeatedly raised criminal allegations against the family members and friends of the murder victims.

Although the exact circumstances of the murder of Khaled Idris Bahray remains unknown, there is already evidence for a racially motivated act.

Bahray was last seen by his flat-mates at 8 p.m. on Monday. “He wanted to go shopping at the supermarket,” said one of his roommates. According to one newspaper, the pleasant and friendly young man allowed other customers to bypass him at the checkout. Bahray never returned from his shopping trip.

His roommate stated that the refugees normally only went out in groups because they feared attacks by racists. Many refugees avoid the streets altogether since the weekly Pegida demonstrations began some months ago. A friend of Bahray told the refugee aid organisation Pro Asylum: “The people here are hostile towards us, there is hatred in their eyes, we do not dare come out, we need protection.” The refugees spoke of repeated insults and threats.

Michael Nattke, a lecturer at the Cultural Office of Saxony, told the tageszeitung: “There is much hostility towards asylum seekers in Dresden, especially on Mondays.” According to Nattke, “over a thousand organised neo-Nazis with a huge potential for aggression” take part in the Pegida marches. His colleagues were surprised every Monday that “there were no incidents of outright violence.”

Robert Kusche, the head of the counseling centre for victims of right-wing violence in Dresden, confirmed the intimidating nature of Pegida demonstrations. According to his findings, the refugees have “recognised that the Pegida marches pose a danger to them even though some do not speak German.”

There was a serious incident following the Pegida demo on December 22, when a group of Alevi (Turkish) youth was attacked by a mob. The attackers were masked with Dynamo Dresden football scarves and threatened the young people with electric batons, knives and pepper spray. The police have been unable to find the suspects.

Pegida supporters have also vilified and ridiculed Bahray on Facebook and Twitter. Statements such as “now one less living here at our expense” or “If it had been a German there would have just been a police report without photo…but instead the press goes crazy about this Bimbo…damn pack!”

Also this week, the city of Dresden has abandoned plans to accommodate 94 refugees in a hotel after the owner backed down at the last minute and withdrew his agreement. The company that owns the hotel Prinz Eugen declared the decision was made for “internal reasons.” But the city administration admitted there had been “massive opposition to the project from the population and the surrounding environment.” Racist graffiti had been daubed on the hotel, and there was intimidation on social networks, including a warning in the form of a question whether asylum centres “have to burn first before the city quits the project.”

The tense conditions in the city of Dresden are the work of the media and leading politicians who embraced the Pegida movement from the beginning and built it up out of nothing. They bear responsibility for the murder of Khaled Idris Bahray, should it be confirmed that he was the victim of a racist mob.

Leading political figures ranging from federal interior minister Thomas de Maiziere (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) Saxony’s minister president Stanislaw Tillich (CDU) and Thuringian minister president Bodo Ramelow (Left Party) have all expressed their understanding for the demonstrators and the alleged “legitimate concerns and fears of the population” regarding too many foreigners and refugees. They have repeatedly offered to conduct talks with the right-wing mob and even provided them a public forum in the Regional Centre for Civic Education in Saxony to spread their racist filth.

On two occasions, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has opened its pages to Konrad Adam, the deputy chair of the right-wing nationalist Alternative for Germany, which has close links with Pegida, to agitate against Islamism. Other German newspapers have praised Pegida for making it possible to criticise asylum seekers and Islamism without being branded as a “right-wing extremist.”

In Saxony, the state government has in large part adopted the policies of Pegida. The state interior minister, Markus Ulbig, vigorously opposes any ban on deportations. Confronted with a petition of 11,000 signatures requesting that he refrain from carrying out deportations of refugees in winter, he reacted with the heartless comment: “Climate is not a category of immigration law.”

Ulbig also lobbied the federal government to declare Tunisia a “safe country of origin” in order to reject all asylum applications from Tunisian refugees and deny them any possibility of appeal. Pegida had already denounced the handful of refugees from Tunisia in Saxony as “economic refugees.”

This chauvinism and nationalism has been deliberately fanned by influential layers in political and media circles to enforce a reactionary anti-immigrant policy. The consequences arising from the mobilisation of the brown mob is now very evident in Dresden.

A roommate of the murdered Bahray was clearly stunned by his murder, saying: “Khaled was a wonderful person, he had many goals, wanted to learn German, work and live in peace. Why did he have to die in such a manner?”

A solidarity rally for Khaled Idris Bahray was held in front of Albertinum Museum in Dresden. Inside the museum, the Saxony administration was holding its New Year’s under the entirely inappropriate motto, “From all over the world—at home in Saxony.”

See also here.

Racist firebomb attack on Swedish refugees’ mosque


This video is called Somalia – War Lords part 1.

This video is called Somalia – War Lords part 2.

Somalia for many years now has been the scene of terrible war. If you are not in danger of Al-Shabaab insurgents’ violence, then you are in danger of violence by Pentagon-supported government warlords, violence by Pentagon-supported Ethiopian invaders, or violence by Pentagon-supported ‘peacekeepers’.

No wonder that many Somalis flee this war. Some of these refugees die horrible deaths on their jouneys. Some reach countries like Sweden, where they suppose they will be safe.

In Eskilstuna in Sweden, refugees from Somalia have a mosque. But it turned out, on Christmas day, that these Somalis were not safe there from racist violence.

This 25 December 2014 video is called Arson attack at Swedish mosque leaves five injured.

From the BBC:

Eskilstuna, which has a large immigrant population, was the scene of clashes involving neo-Nazi groups opposed to Sweden’s immigration policy earlier this year.

From The Local in Sweden:

Five hurt in mosque arson attack

Published: 26 Dec 2014 08:52 GMT+01:00

An arsonist set fire to a mosque in central Sweden on Thursday injuring five people, police said, in the latest of a spate of attacks targeting Muslims.

“Somebody threw an object through a closed window and afterwards a fire started inside,” police spokesman Lars Franzell told AFP.

“There were between 15 and 20 people in the premises.”

Refugee-friendly Sweden woke up to the reality of a new political landscape in early December when the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats brought down the government by refusing to back its budget proposal in parliament.

The mosque is located on the ground floor of a building in the city of Eskilstuna, some 90 kilometres west of Stockholm.

According to police, the fire started in the early afternoon.

Police said they were investigating the incident as a case of aggravated arson but had no suspects yet.

The five injured were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries including smoke inhalation, lacerations and fractures.

“There has been an intensification of hatred against Muslims,” Sweden’s Islamic Association head Omar Mustafa told public radio SR on Thursday.

In January unknown perpetrators daubed black swastikas on the front door of a Stockholm mosque and in December last year neo-Nazis attacked a peaceful anti-racist protest in a Stockholm suburb, causing three people to be hospitalized.

The Stockholm mosque attack was followed however by a love bomb attack when anti-racists decorated the door to the building with flowers. A similar response is being organized for Eskilstuna with a Facebook group urging volunteers to put up hearts on the burned out buildings.

“We want to have a society where all Eskilstuna residents can feel safe and included,” the group Eskilstuna United (Tillsammans för Eskilstuna) wrote.

I hope groups like Eskilstuna United will prevail over the spirit of mass murderer Breivik, in jail in Norway next door to Sweden.

Fascist murderer Anders Breivik has had HUNDREDS of letters intercepted by prison authorities who say he is trying to orchestrate far-right uprising from his Norwegian jail cell: here.