Bahrain dictatorship and the European Union


This video is called ‘Night raids, torture, sham trials a daily reality in Bahrain‘ – human rights activist.

From EurActiv.com:

The EU cannot overlook its Human Rights commitments in the East

24/04/2015 – 13:21

The EU has significantly increased its foreign policy activity since the Treaty of Lisbon, establishing itself a power with global influence, write Isabel Cerdá Marcos, Husain Adbulla and Karim Lahidji.

Isabel Cerdá Marcos is an Advocacy Associate at the European Centre for Human Rights. Husain Adbulla is President of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. Karim Lahidji is President of the International Federation of Human Rights.

The recent Iran talks have proved the EU’s importance as a global player in world politics. As enshrined in the Treaties, the EU is committed to defending and promoting the rule of law, human rights and democracy. This task is particularly necessary in the Middle East region, where many countries are strategic allies for trade and energy, but tend to have a very poor human rights record. Particularly striking is the situation in the Kingdom of Bahrain, a major ally for the UK and the US, hosting the US Fifth Naval Fleet in the Gulf Region. This small island, strategically placed between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, underwent one of the worst “Arab Spring” revolutions in February 2011 with hundreds killed, imprisoned and tortured by the Bahraini authorities.

Well-known is the case of Nabeel Rajab, a Bahraini human rights defender and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. On 2 April 2015, Bahraini security forces and police arrested him at his home for peacefully speaking his mind about the human rights situation in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Nabeel Rajab has been accused of insulting a statutory body (by denouncing acts of torture in Jaw Prison in a piece he published last week) and spreading rumours during wartime (by criticising Bahrain’s involvement in the current conflict in Yemen and the civilian casualties related to the conflict). Nabeel remains under solitary confinement, and for these two charges, Nabeel Rajab faces up to 10 years in prison.

This is not the first time that the government has punished Rajab for exercising his internationally-guaranteed right to free expression. In May 2014, he completed a two-year prison sentence after taking part in peaceful assemblies and protests criminalised by the government. Mr Rajab is currently facing another trial for a previous tweet he wrote in September 2014. His appeal for this 6 months sentence was scheduled for 15 April. However, it took place on 5 April and was then delayed until 4 May, the prosecutor arguing the existence of new evidence under this case. Further, Nabeel’s home was raided that same day and all the electronics in his home (whether his own or not) were seized for evidence.

Nabeel has previously reached out to the EU to seek support for his case and long standing battle for Human Rights in Bahrain. On past occasions, the European External Action Service and the European Parliament have issued formal statements demanding his immediate release, as well as that of others fellow human rights defenders and Bahraini citizens labelled criminals by the Government for peacefully speaking their mind about the human rights violations and democratic deficit in Bahrain. Despite these gross human rights abuses and the blatant injustice they suffer, the EU institutions have not used their full leverage on the matter.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (representing the Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, The Bahrain Center for Democracy and Human Rights and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy), together with the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of FIDH and OMCT have issued a joint statement on the matter. We have also reached out to Ms Mogherini’s office with an official joint letter, to ask for support in our advocacy campaign to free Nabeel and for the EU to officially position itself on the issue, as political leverage from EU institutions is crucial on the matter. ECDHR and FIDH have also jointly reached out to the President of the European Parliament, Mr Schulz, as well as members of the Foreign Affairs committee, the Human Rights subcommittee and the Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula.

Nabeel’s case is just an example of the many injustices committed in Bahrain and in the Gulf Region daily, because they dare to speak out and to defend basic human rights and ideals. Injustice does not stop there; the treatment detainees receive in prisons is inhuman and degrading, and even amounts to grave torture, putting their physical and mental health, as well as the health and security of their relatives, at serious risk.

The European Union can exercise unique political and international pressure on Bahrain and other countries of the Gulf region where human rights are disregarded on a daily basis. The EU’s support is much needed. The Union should step up to its International commitments and keep waving the human rights flag higher and louder.

Bahraini authorities sentenced an Iraqi man to three years in prison on charges including rioting and joining an “unauthorised” protest in the capital Manama, official media reported: here.

Henry Jackson and his Society, racism, war, corruption, torture supporters


This military video from the USA is called Japanese Americans in WWII.

From the Independent series about US American activists:

Minoru Yasui

1942

In the Second World War, a notice was suddenly posted throughout Japanese neighbourhoods: “All persons of Japanese ancestry will be evacuated from the above designated area by 12 o’clock noon”.

There was nothing in the evacuation order or in any public law that allowed the United States government to keep Americans within any restricted area. But the War Relocation Authority, by pure executive fiat, detained us under their jurisdiction and sent us to camps. The military, without imposing martial law, was ordering the civilian to do something. In my opinion, that’s the way dictatorships are formed.

And if I, as an American citizen, stood still for this, I would be derogating the rights of all citizens. I had to stand up and say, “That’s wrong”. I refused to report for evacuation. Sure enough, within the week, I got a telephone call saying, “We’re coming to get you”. I can still see them. The lieutenant was in a saloon car. A jeep followed with four military policemen. I was thrown into the North Portland Livestock Pavilion, where Japanese-Americans had been put. In stalls where horses and cows were kept, people now lived. It was sweltering, but we had no way to escape it. They wouldn’t let us outside.

In September, they started moving us into desert camps. You were surrounded with barbed-wire fences, armed guards, searchlights, and machine-gun nests. We wondered how long we were going to be interned. What was going to happen? By then, we had heard rumours of forced labour camps in Germany. Were they, as [the journalist] Westbrook Pegler and others were suggesting, going to castrate the men and ship them back to Japan? These things were in the papers constantly: make them suffer. Make them hurt. And I kept on thinking, “What did I do?”

One of the most vocal advocates of this putting into concentration camps of people just because of their ancestry, was US politician Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson.

Before we go to Britain today, first some more United States political history.

In the twentieth century, there was the late United States senator and failed presidential candidate Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson. Mr Jackson was corrupt, Jackson’s nickname was “the gentleman from Boeing“. Boeing being a military contractor getting lots of taxpayers’ money for killing and torturing people. Jackson was also a major supporter of wars, like in Vietnam.

Jackson was a strong supporter of the racist internment of US citizens of Japanese ancestry into concentration camps because of their ethnicity during World War II.

The 21st century ‘Henry Jackson Society’ seems to have substituted Muslims for Japanese-Americans. This society includes hard-line politicians from the USA. And from Britain: right-wing Conservatives, like David Cameron’s now-sacked education secretary Michael Gove. And right-wing ‘new’ Labour Blairites. Like Denis MacShane, convicted for, and kicked out of the Labour party for, corruption. So, really similar to Henry Jackson. Also similar in being a warmonger, supporting war in Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever.

Unfortunately, Denis MacShane is not unique within Labour in Britain.

The recently elected leader of the party in Scotland, Jim Murphy, is a Tony Blair loyalist, supporting war in Iraq etc. etc. And more fishy details have emerged about Mr Murphy: his links to the Henry Jackson Society.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

Labour’s stand is unequivocal, but …

Friday 10th April 2015

The Henry Jackson Society is little-known outside Parliament but apparently is big in Westminster. SOLOMON HUGHES puts it under his microscope

The Labour Party responded quickly to last year’s US Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture — it rushed out a statement by shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander saying there is “no justification for the use of torture.

“It is both illegal and morally wrong,” Alexander said. “This damning Senate report confirms that the use of extreme interrogation techniques by the CIA not only failed to secure actionable intelligence, but also damaged standing and reputation of the United States of America around the world.”

But nine top Labour MPs — including their Scottish leader Jim Murphy and shadow cabinet member Chris Bryant, are supporters of an obscure but powerful neoconservative think tank which has defended the CIA against allegations of torture for years, promoting speakers making the pro-CIA case inside the Houses of Parliament.

Murphy, Bryant and co sit on the advisory board of the Henry Jackson Society (HJS).

Douglas Murray, associate director of the HJS gave a flavour of their approach on BBC’s This Week soon after the release of the Senate report.

Murray attacked the report and defended the CIA. Murray argued the idea that “torture is torture, is plain wrong” because “there are degrees” and “America didn’t do the worst things.” Murray condemned the “ceaseless attacks on our intelligence services and the efforts to stop them doing the job that they need to do to keep us safe. We should accept that aspects of that job don’t seem very nice from the comfort of our sitting rooms.”

Murray’s attitude is consistent with the HJS. In 2012 it published an article about attempts to uncover CIA “black sites” in Poland — the torture chambers referred to in the recent Senate report.

HJS researcher Robin Simcox argued: “Europeans look down on America’s interrogation techniques, comfortable in its [sic] moral superiority. How easy it is to pass judgment once America had done the dirty work that no-one else had the stomach for.”

The HJS is little-known outside Parliament, but big in Westminster. It is a £1 million-a-year operation, although the society won’t say where its money comes from. It is a neocon-ish think tank [advocating] “The pursuit of a robust foreign policy” and a “strong military.” HJS is based in London, but named after a US senator best known for supporting the Vietnam war.

Labour MPs on the HJS advisory board include Hazel Blears, Margaret Beckett, Jim Murphy, John Spellar, Gisela Stuart, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Bryant and Khalid Mahmood.

There are also 28 Tory MPs on the board, mostly from the right of the party, along with Ukip’s new MP Mark Reckless.

None of the Labour MPs on the board appear to have objected to the HJS’s persistent attempts to defend the CIA from accusations of torture.

In October 2013 the HJS arranged a meeting with former CIA boss General Mike Hayden in the House of Lords where he justified torture. Hayden told the meeting that “there is a very long scale with varying shades of grey, as to what constitutes torture, and what doesn’t constitute torture.”

He argued waterboarding and sleep deprivation are “not torture” and made light of the “13 techniques” of “enhanced interrogation” used by the CIA saying: “Four of which I had happened (sic) to me in Catholic grade school.”

I asked Davis Lewin, HJS deputy director, about the way they backed the CIA on torture allegations. He said: “The society’s institutional line on torture is the same as that expressed by our associate director Douglas Murray on December 14 2014,” pointing to an article where Murray wrote “Actual torture … is so wrong that it should not be done whatever the possible cost-benefits.”

In the same article Murray wrote that there are “convincing reasons to believe” that the Senate report on CIA torture “is largely or partly untrue.” He also suggested that slapping and sleep deprivation are not torture.

Lewin also said that the HJS “opposes the use of waterboarding, however note that it is a legal grey area as US government policy has differed on its use, constituting it as both permissible and non-permissible.”

I emailed all the Labour MPs on the HJS advisory board to ask why they were backing the HJS, given its long-running stand with the CIA over torture allegations. Most did not reply. Ben Bradshaw MPs spokesperson suggested I contact Chris Bryant MP, who could explain both their involvement with HJS.

I contacted Bryant, but he didn’t reply. It almost seems like these normally talkative MPs are embarrassed by their involvement with this neocon think tank.

Nine of the 11 Labour MPs on the HJS board voted to join George Bush in the war with Iraq in March 2003 (Margaret Beckett, Hazel Blears, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Bryant, Meg Munn, Jim Murphy, John Spellar, Gisela Stuart and Derek Twigg), while Birmingham MP and HJS board member Khalid Mahmood abstained on that Iraq war vote.

So this does look like a remnant of the times when new Labour were in bed with the US Republican hawks over Iraq — although in the absence of any statement it is hard to say where they stand at all.

Only one Labour MP on the HJS board — Bridgend’s Dai Havard — responded. He is also the only one of them who joined 139 other rebel Labour MP’s to oppose the Iraq war in March 2003. Havard distanced himself from HJS thought, saying: “The Henry Jackson Society and its operatives do not speak for me and I do not speak for them.”

He added: “I disagree, personally and politically, with many aspects of the output of the HJS and many of the arguments and opinions of the individuals it invites to speak in parliamentary events.”

Havard told me that that many US government responses to terrorism were brutal and wrong and that HJS were useful because they “represent a body of thoughts and policy influences, particularly in the US, which we all need to understand and engage with if we are to change such responses.”

Jim Murphy’s promise that a Labour government would protect Scotland from future spending cuts was contradicted by three of his senior colleagues on Monday, leading to claims that he had been “hung out to dry” by his party’s Westminster leadership: here.

British government betrays British refugee from Ethiopian dictatorship


This video says about itself:

Atrocious Torture and Inhuman Treatment in Ethiopia…part 1

30 June 2013

It is a personal testimony of a person who was detained and tortured by the tyrannical regime in Ethiopia.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Tories won’t push to free Londoner

Saturday 4th April 2014

FOREIGN Secretary Philip Hammond has refused to request the release of a British citizen who was kidnapped and taken to Ethiopia over nine months ago, rights organisation Reprieve alleged yesterday.

London dad Andargachew “Andy” Tsege has been held at a secret location in Ethiopia since he was abducted in June 2014 while in transit at Sanaa airport, Yemen.

A prominent critic of human rights abuses in Ethiopia, Mr Tsege faces a death sentence imposed in absentia in 2009.

He has not been seen since December, when the British government was granted a brief and heavily monitored meeting.

Despite this, Reprieve said yesterday that it had been informed by the Foreign Office that instead of requesting his release, it will press Ethiopia to follow due process.

“The UK’s failure to even ask for Andy Tsege’s release over the past nine months is nothing short of a scandal,” said Reprieve death penalty team head Maya Foa.

“We’re talking about the illegal kidnap, rendition and possible torture of a British citizen — and a father of young children — by a government that had already sentenced him to death on trumped-up politically motivated charges.”

The Ethiopian government has refused to say whether it will carry out the death sentence and has rejected requests by Mr Tsege’s family, British officials and Reprieve lawyers to visit him in prison.

“The government of Ethiopia is supposed to be a close ally, but its refusal to reveal where Andy is being held or how he’s being treated shows only contempt for the UK and for Andy’s rights,” Ms Foa said.

Bahraini prison abuse whistleblower Nabeel Rajab arrested


This video says about itself:

Jailed for a Tweet: Interview with Nabeel Rajab

21 October 2014

Nabeel Rajab is a human rights activist awaiting trial in Bahrain, one of the West’s favorite dictatorships. Three years after the Arab Spring, protests there are still being violently repressed, and Rajab now faces up to three years in jail — for a tweet. VICE News spoke to him a few weeks before his latest arrest.

Read More: Bahrain’s Human Rights Activist Faces Jail Time — for a Tweet.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Leading Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab arrested for highlighting prison abuse

Head of Bahrain Center for Human Rights detained by police after speaking out over allegations of human rights abuses after riots in Jaw prison

Saeed Kamali Dehghan

Thursday 2 April 2015 19.08 BST

The Bahraini authorities have arrested a leading human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, who has spoken out against a recent outbreak of violence in one of the country’s most notorious prisons.

Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was taken into custody on Thursday after a group of security forces surrounded his house in Bani Jamra, west of the Bahraini capital, Manama, his family confirmed to the Guardian. The police carried a warrant for his arrest.

“The special forces are all around my house and they want me to go out,” he tweeted just before his arrest. Rajab had highlighted the alleged mistreatment and torture of inmates at Jaw prison in a series of interviews and articles.

Nicholas McGeehan, of the campaigning group Human Rights Watch, said: “The Bahraini authorities should be investigating the allegations of torture in Jaw prison, not arresting people who’ve been researching and reporting it.”

“Few prisoners were left unwounded by the end of the siege. Their bodies are burned by grenade explosions, their limbs broken by frequent beating, and they have been left without medical attention,” Rajab said in an account of what happened during the unrest for the Huffington Post.

“Since the assault, all visitation has been suspended. The government says this is because of damage to the facilities, but the visitation centre was not damaged by the attack. More likely, it is to suppress the prisoners from telling their stories and showing their injuries,” he wrote.

Rajab was initially arrested in October on accusations of posting derogatory tweets about a group of his countrymen allegedly cooperating with Islamic State (Isis). He had posted a series of tweets in reaction to a video released by Isis that featured a group of Bahraini men talking about their cooperation with the terrorist organisation.

He was subsequently released on bail last year but was sentenced to six months in prison in January after being found guilty of defaming the government. Activists said at the time that the Bahraini authorities were also furious with Rajab because he had spoken out about rights abuses in his country during visits to a number of western countries.

Prince Zaid, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said last month that a government which arrests people for a tweet is weak,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. “The government of Bahrain has shown its weakness once again.”

The London-based Index on Censorship also condemned Rajab’s detention on Thursday. “Bahrain must stop the harassment of Nabeel Rajab,” said the group’s chief executive, Jodie Ginsberg. “The country has committed publicly to respecting human rights, but continues to flout its international commitments by denying its citizens the right to peaceful protest, peaceful assembly and to free expression.”

The US-based Human Rights First said the activist’s arrest marked an alarming setback for Bahrain. “This is a brazen move to openly target a dissident leader at a time when the Bahraini government is pushing to have remaining US arms restrictions to the kingdom lifted and preparing to host a major Formula One race in two weeks,” Human Rights First’s director, Brian Dooley, said.

“The regime has made clear that muted criticism from the US and elsewhere doesn’t stop it from targeting its human rights leaders. Washington should impose consequences for these violations.”

FIDH/OMCT/ECDHR/BCHR/BIRD/ADHRB joint letter to the EU on the arrest on Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain: here.

Honduran death squads murder 13-year-old girl


This video, in Spanish from Honduras, is about the grandmother of Soad Nicole Ham denouncing the death squad murder of her grandddaughter.

Soad Nicole was three years younger than Anne Frank when Hitler’s nazis killed her

It is not easy to find English language information on this murder on the Internet. Here is some.

By Eric London:

Honduran death squads kill four student protesters, including a 13-year-old

1 April 2015

The remains of 13 year-old Soad Nicole Ham were found in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa last Wednesday after a death squad kidnapped and murdered her for participating in recent student demonstrations against the country’s crumbling education system. A medical examination of the girl’s remains, which were discovered in a plastic bag on the street, revealed signs of brutal torture.

Soad Nicole was the fourth demonstrator to be killed by death squads in Tegucigalpa last week. The bodies of Elvin Antonio López, Darwin Josué Martínez, and Diana Yareli Montoya—all between the ages of 19 and 21 and all actively involved in student protests—were also discovered in various neighborhoods of the city. Yareli Montoya, whose body was riddled with 21 bullets by masked attackers, took two painful days to die.

The victims and the timing of the killings underscore the likely complicity of the rightist government of President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, with the help of his Education Minister, Marlon Escoto.

In the days prior to the disappearances, thousands of high school and university students were carrying out large demonstrations against the country’s education system. Many of the capital city’s middle schools, high schools and universities were on strike against poor education conditions and a lack of adequate school resources.

Students were further enraged by Education Minister Escoto’s callous proposal for changes to the school schedule, which is divided into morning and afternoon shifts. Under the March 16 proposal, students would be forced to travel to and from school either in the early morning or late evening hours, when darkness makes it easier for the armed gangs who roam the streets to attack them.

According to the non-profit Casa Alianza, 86 students are killed each month on the way to and from school in Honduras—a figure that has doubled since the 2009 US-backed coup that toppled the elected government of President Manuel Zelaya.

Soad Nicole herself was targeted because of a brief statement she made to a Globo-TV news crew at the scene of a demonstration in the days before her death.

As students chanted, “We need school desks and we receive gunshots,” Soad Nicole told reporters, “It’s not possible for us to be seated on the floor like dogs! We don’t even have chairs!”

Addressing the Education Minister, she added: “Man, buy chairs, you son of a bitch!”

It is a testament to the real state of social and political life in Central America that such a statement of justified indignation from a 13-year-old is sufficient to earn her the penalty of death by assassination squad.

The government has responded to the students’ demands by deploying heavily armed soldiers to fire tear gas, flash grenades and water cannon, as well as by placing schools under military lockdown. On March 17, Escoto announced that to suppress the demonstrations, the Honduran military police would begin occupying schools in the capital.

“Beginning this afternoon [March 17], the police will be at the gates to ensure that those students who want to come in to study can do so,” he said, noting further that the government had been “tolerant enough” with the peaceful student protesters.

As the crackdown on protestors continues, Escoto has taken to posting pictures of demonstrators on his Twitter account and publishing their names, sending the message that they too could end up like Soad Nicole Ham.

In the course of the demonstrations, several journalists have reported being harassed by the police, including two who said that a police official approached them, held up a pistol, and provocatively unlocked the gun’s safety mechanism. Many students have also been wounded in clashes with police.

As demonstrations began on the morning of March 16, Escoto’s office issued a statement requesting that teachers provide lists of those students who were participating in demonstrations. According to the Education Ministry, this was being undertaken so that the government could “apply corrective measures” to demonstrators.

Though the government has of course not admitted to carrying out the murders itself, there is every indication that it is precisely such “corrective measures” that were applied to the four young people whose bodies have since been found abandoned in the streets of Tegucigalpa.

Behind the brutal acts of the Lobo administration stands American imperialism, whose role in enforcing police-military terror on the countries of Central America dates back to the 19th century.

The Obama administration backed the military coup of 2009 and has supported all the regimes that followed, including those headed by coup leader Roberto Micheletti and Porfirio Lobo, winner of an election organized by the coup regime, with less than half the population voting.

Hernandez himself was named victor amid charges of vote fraud and violent intimidation by supporters of his opponent, Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro. He ran in the election on a campaign promise of “a soldier on every corner,” and has since made good on his vow to militarize policing in Honduras, despite the prohibition against using troops for this purpose in the country’s constitution.

At the time of the coup, a US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the New York Times that the State Department spoke to “military officials and opposition leaders” about “how they might remove [former president Manuel Zelaya] from office, how he could be arrested, on whose authority they could do that.”

By 2011, the Pentagon had increased military spending to the Honduran police and military by 71 percent, to $53.8 million, while providing $1.3 billion for US military electronics to the Honduran regime. In 2012, Defense Department contracts increased to $67.4 million—tripling the total from 2002. It costs the Obama administration $89 million per year to house 600 US troops at the Soto Cano air force, which was recently expanded to the tune of an additional $25 million.

Recently, the US has announced the deployment at Soto Cano of a new Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-South, or SPMAGTF-South, consisting of 250 Marine special operations troops who are charged with rapid intervention wherever in the region Washington sees fit.

The status of Honduras as the “murder capital of the world” and one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere is the product of over a century of oppression by US imperialism. Washington invaded the country seven times in the first two decades of the 20th century to defend the interests of United Fruit Company, making Honduras the first country to be branded a “banana republic.”

The CIA used the country as a staging ground both for its 1954 coup that overthrew Guatemala’s democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, and for the Nicaraguan Contra forces who carried out a bloody campaign against the Sandinistas and the Nicaraguan peasantry in the 1980s. During this latter campaign, the Honduran military, with the aid of the CIA, utilized its own death squads to hunt down and murder trade unionists, leftists and students.

The recent events in Honduras underscore the fact that cold-blooded murder at the hands of the state is becoming an increasingly common element of everyday life for young people all over the world. The events in Honduras closely parallel last September’s government-backed killing of 43 student teachers in Ayotzinapa, Mexico. In both cases, the killings were carried out in response to widespread opposition to social inequality, poverty, and lack of quality social programs and education. In Honduras, as in Mexico, what follows will be a government cover-up with the full backing of the United States.