Tuesday, May 29, 2012
an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times last fall. They have also been displayed in England.
“Forensically, it is important to show how the crime of murder happened (which is what it is here),” said Stafford Smith in an email. “One almost always uses the murder weapon in a case. But perhaps more important, I think this physical proof — this missile killed this child — is important to have people take it seriously.”
In the religious rhetoric used by al-Qaida’s online allies, Fatima was a “martyr.” In a statement quoted by Long War Journal, the al-Ansara forum said the senior al-Qaida commander Mustafa Abu Yazid had been killed in a “convoy of martyrs on the road with his wife and three daughters and his granddaughter; men, women and children; neighbors and loved ones.” But Fatima was not Yazid’s daughter, according to Noor, who reported from the scene. She was the daughter of another man who lost two wives and three children in the barrage. More
America is making enemies each time they murder people in places like Mohammed Khel in North Waziristan, or in Yemen or Somalia. It is a self defeating policy for the country, for all you are doing is creating more people that want revenge. This will obviously mean more wars, more drones and more enemies adinfinitum. And eventually the people of these areas, which may be remote and backward, but the people are ambitious and intelligent, will find a way to extract payback. They will then use Obama's argument that 'they have the right to kill anyone anywhere in the world who they feel is threatening them'. Where does this stop? Editor
major extract from Daniel Klaidman’s forthcoming book Kill Or Capture, the author reveals extensive details of how secret US drone strikes have evolved under Obama – and how the president knew of civilian casualties from his earliest days in office.
The New York Times has also published a key investigation exploring how the Obama Administration runs its secret ‘Kill List’ – the names of those chosen for execution by CIA and Pentagon drones outside the conventional battlefield.
The Times’ report also reveals that President Obama personally authorised a broadening of the term ‘civilian’, helping to limit any public controversy over ‘non-combatant’ deaths.
Civilian Deaths from Day Three
As the Bureau’s own data on Pakistan makes clear, the very first covert drone strikes of the Obama presidency, just three days after he took office, resulted in civilian deaths in Pakistan. As many as 19 civilians – including four children – died in two error-filled attacks.
Until now it had been thought that Obama was initially unaware of the civilian deaths. Bob Woodward has reported that the president was only told by CIA chief Michael Hayden that the strikes had missed their High Value Target but had killed ‘five al Qaeda militants.’
Now Newsweek correspondent Daniel Klaidman reveals that Obama knew about the civilian deaths within hours. He reports an anonymous participant at a subsequent meeting with the President: ‘You could tell from his body language that he was not a happy man.’ Obama is described aggressively questioning the tactics used. More
Monday, May 28, 2012
Peaceful public demonstrations are assaulted. Free expression and movement are prohibited. Population centers are isolated. Borders are closed.
Normal daily life is denied. Economic strangulation and institutionalized racism are imposed. So are curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints, separation walls, electric fences, and other barriers.
Neighborhood incursions, land, sea and air attacks, bulldozed homes, land theft, ethnic cleansing, slow-motion genocide, targeted killings, mass arrests, torture, and gulag imprisonment reflect daily life for praying to the wrong God.
Fundamental civil and human rights are denied. Crimes of war and against humanity repeat without redress. Wanting to live free in sovereign Palestine is called terrorism.
Punitive taxes are imposed. Few services are provided. Vital ones are lacking or inadequate. Palestinian lawmakers are imprisoned for belonging to the wrong party.
Fishermen are attacked at sea. So are farmers working their land. Trying at the wrong time risks arrest, injury or death. Crops and orchards are destroyed. Settlers commit regular attacks. Courts provide no help.
Gaza is suffocating under siege. Scoundrel media policy enforces coverup and denial, blame the victim, and portray Israel as the region's only free democratic state. Reality reflects police state harshness. It persists without end.
Even Jews challenging injustice are targeted. Rogues tolerate no opposition. Israeli ones have few equals.
On May 24, Haaretz headlined "Amnesty International: Israel uses excessive force against Palestinians," saying:
AI's 2012 annual report "is highly critical of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians...." It charges Israel Defense Forces with "frequent" use of "excessive, sometimes lethal force against demonstrators in the West Bank and civilians in Gaza." More
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors concerned and are not necessarily those held by the editors and publishers.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
General Mood would not explain how the villagers died, but horrific pictures posted on YouTube appear to show that they were shot or knifed to death, some having their throats cut. The small bodies of the children were covered in sheets as they were taken by survivors screaming in grief and disbelief from the houses where they had been murdered.
The massacre is the worst single incident in Syria's 14-month crisis because it involved the deliberate murder of children as well as adults. Militants say the perpetrators were pro-regime gunmen, known as the shabiya, who had captured Houla. If true, the shabiya may have been members of the Alawite sect, which is supportive of the government. Alawites inhabit a string of villages south of Houla, which is 25km north-west of Homs. The Syrian leadership is largely drawn from the Alawite sect.
General Mood said that fighting around Houla started on Friday evening with the use of "tanks, artillery, rocket-propelled grenades, and heavy machine guns". This implied an attack by government forces since the insurgent Free Syrian Army does not have heavy weapons. This confirms the militants' story that there had been big anti-government protests on Friday in Houla, where there have previously been many anti-government demonstrations. More
Bashir al-Asad should be charged with crimes against humanity just as his father should have been when he did the same thing many years ago. Editor
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Footballer’s dad asks sports world to speak out for hunger-striking son as Israel violates prisoner deal
Sports community must not reward or be silent about Israeli abuses
“For us it is unbearable to see Israel has been awarded the hosting of the UEFA Under 21s football championship in 2013 and gears up to participate in the London Olympics, while it routinely arrests, tortures, imprisons and kills Palestinians, including football players, without consequence,” Mahmoud Kamel Muhammad Sarsak said in a statement given to Stop the Wall.
A poster of Mahmoud Sarsak, and some of his athletic trophies. (Rami Almeghari / The Electronic Intifada)
The younger Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, was detained by Israeli forces as he traveled from his home in Gaza to the West Bank in 2009 to join the Palestinian national football team.
“We ask fellow football players and athletes to speak out in support of Mahmoud - don’t be silent when Israeli cruelty and arbitrariness has destroyed the aspirations of a rising athlete and keeps thousands under inhumane conditions in their jails,” Sarsak said, “We ask sports teams and anti-racist fan clubs to organize in support of Mahmoud and all the other Palestinian political prisoners. Your voice can contribute to saving his life and to a little victory against injustice.”
Earlier this month, Football Beyond Borders, a student-led international organization “which uses the universal power of football to tackle political, social and cultural issues” released a letter of solidarity with Sarsak and thousands of Palestinian prisoners and announced that it would boycott the UEFA 2013 Under-21 European Championships.
And last week, Amnesty International issued an action alert calling on people to contact Israeli authorities regarding Mahmoud Sarsak. More
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
According to Tiempo, the mayor of Ahuas decried the killings, saying that "[t]hese operations were performed irresponsibly" and that the people in his community live in fear "because they now have the threat of operations because they kill poor people..." More
... a foreign army [i.e., the U.S. army] protected under the new hegemonic concept of the "war on drugs," legalized with reforms to the 1953 Military Treaty, violates our territorial sovereignty and kills civilians as if it was in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The ruling rejected an appeal by Uzzi Ornan, who claims no religious faith, but was born in what is now Israel. It is unclear what impact this will have on the Christian, Muslim and atheist citizens of Israel, which constitute around twenty percent of the population.Tuesday's court decision also brings into question the Israeli government's claim that it is both a Jewish and democratic state. As the plaintiff in the case, Uzzi Ornan, told reporters Tuesday, “A judge appeals to Jewish law, and the ruling shows that Israel is a Jewish community and not a civilian state.” Orman and others say that this verifies that Israel is a Jewish state, and not a democratic one.
In his ruling, Judge Daniel Fisch appealed to Jewish religious law, and the 'Right of Return' which allows anyone born of a Jewish mother anyone in the world to claim Israeli citizenship. The displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population by this and other Israeli laws was not mentioned by the judge. More
Israel condemned the report as "biased" and said it would do nothing to help promote peace in the region.
"The EU expresses deep concern about developments on the ground, which threaten to make a two-state solution impossible," EU foreign ministers said in a statement after their Monday meeting.
The bloc also criticized what it said were worsening conditions for the Palestinians living in Area C -- the 60 percent of the West Bank which is under Israeli control and where most Jewish settlements are located.
EU ministers said Israel was forcing some Bedouin communities to leave their land in Area C, adding that economic life for Palestinians in the territory had to be improved.
"The EU calls upon Israel to meet its obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C, including ... halting forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure," it said. More
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Saturday, May 12, 2012
In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration were today (Friday) found guilty of war crimes.Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.
The trial held in Kuala Lumpur heard harrowing witness accounts from victims of torture who suffered at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They included testimony from British man Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee and Iraqi woman Jameelah Abbas Hameedi who was tortured in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
At the end of the week-long hearing, the five-panel tribunal unanimously delivered guilty verdicts against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their key legal advisors who were all convicted as war criminals for torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.
Full transcripts of the charges, witness statements and other relevant material will now be sent to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as the United Nations and the Security Council.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission is also asking that the names of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Yoo, Bybee, Addington and Haynes be entered and included in the Commission’s Register of War Criminals for public record.
The tribunal is the initiative of Malaysia's retired Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who staunchly opposed the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
He sat through the entire hearing as it took personal statements and testimonies of three witnesses namely Abbas Abid, Moazzam Begg and Jameelah Hameedi. The tribunal also heard two other Statutory Declarations of Iraqi citizen Ali Shalal and Rahul Ahmed, another British citizen.
After the guilty verdict reached by five senior judges was delivered, Mahathir Mohamad said: “Powerful countries are getting away with murder.”
War crimes expert and lawyer Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law in America, was part of the prosecution team.
After the case he said: “This is the first conviction of these people anywhere in the world.” More
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
September 11th attacks is rigged to lead to their execution. Critics say the Obama administration has set a dangerous precedent by proceeding through a military tribunal. After initially attempting to move the case to a civilian courtroom in New York, the White House caved to vocal opposition and agreed to resume the military commissions begun under President George W. Bush at Guantánamo. We speak with Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, who attended the military trial at Guantánamo this weekend. More
Monday, May 7, 2012
Despite this dramatic state of affairs, until today there has been scant notice taken by Western governments, media and even the United Nations, of the life threatening circumstances confronting Halalheh or Diab, let alone the massive solidarity strike that is of shorter duration, but still notable as a powerful expression of nonviolent defiance.
In contrast, consider the attention that the Western media has been devoting in recent days to a lone blind Chinese human rights lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, who managed to escape from house arrest in Beijing, find a safe haven at the US embassy, arrange a release and then seek an exit from China. This is an important and disturbing international incident, to be sure, but is it truly so much more significant than the Palestinian story as to explain the total neglect of the extraordinary exploits of thousands of Palestinians who are sacrificing their bodies, quite possibly their lives, to nonviolently protest severe mistreatment in the Israeli prison system, and by extension, the oppressiveness of an occupation that has gone on for 45 years? More
Sunday, May 6, 2012
evident here in Whiteclay: men and women staggering on the street, or passed out, whispers of girls traded for alcohol. The town has a population of about 10 people, but it sells more than four million cans of beer and malt liquor annually — because it is the main channel through which alcohol illegally enters the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation a few steps away.
Pine Ridge, one of America’s largest Indian reservations, bans alcohol. The Oglala Sioux who live there struggle to keep alcohol out, going so far as to arrest people for possession of a can of beer. But the tribe has no jurisdiction over Whiteclay because it is just outside the reservation boundary.
So Anheuser-Busch and other brewers pour hundreds of thousands of gallons of alcohol into the liquor stores of Whiteclay, knowing that it ends up consumed illicitly by Pine Ridge residents and fuels alcoholism, crime and misery there. In short, a giant corporation’s business model here is based on violating tribal rules and destroying the Indians’ way of living.
It’s as if Mexico legally sold methamphetamine and crack cocaine to Americans in Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez.
Pine Ridge encompasses one of the poorest counties in the entire United States — Shannon County, S.D. — and life expectancy is about the same as in Afghanistan. As many as two-thirds of adults there may be alcoholics, and one-quarter of children are born suffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
In short, this isn’t just about consenting adults. Children are born with neurological damage and never get a chance.
“Every person on this reservation has personally seen the negative effects of alcohol, with loved ones or themselves,” said John Yellow Bird Steele, the tribe president. More
First we steal their land and then we hide them on reservations, don't allow their children to learn their language and culture, and finally turn them into alcoholics. That does get rid of a problem, doesn't it. I really dislike colonialism. It has much to answer for. Editor
Saturday, May 5, 2012
“My father-in-law pawned the land for food,” said Kowasalya Thati, lifting the hem of her grey sari and stepping into the muddy field of rice paddy in Kottasuraream village in the southern region of Andhra Pradesh.
“When he returned the grain later, the land owners refused to give it back. They claimed it and we had no document to prove otherwise. For 28 years, we had to work on the land we once owned. Without land, we had nothing ... not even enough food. It’s a miracle we got it back.”
Kowasalya’s family is one of hundreds of thousands who belong to India’s 700 listed tribes who are at last gaining legal titles to the land they have lived on for generations, thanks to a legal aid scheme run by the Andhra Pradesh government with international advocacy group Landesa.
In the scheme, which is likely to be rolled out nationally, young people often armed with only a secondary-level education are drawn from mud-and-brick villages and trained as paralegals, then sent out to help people to understand their rights and secure title, or “patta”, to their land.
For most tribal and landless families, that simple piece of paper means an end to a constant fear of hunger.
“Land is the most important factor of production,” said Pramod Joshi, South Asia director of the International Food Policy Research Institute. “It helps ensure food security for the poorest of the poor. It has been shown in many regions that if the poor have land, they are in a better position to feed themselves.” More
On 17 April 2012, Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons launched a mass hunger strike demanding an end to administrative detention, isolation and other punitive measures taken against Palestinian prisoners including the denial of family and lawyer visits, especially to prisoners from the Gaza Strip who have been denied family visits since 2007, and access to university education. The campaign has steadily gained momentum over the past two weeks and an estimated 2,500 prisoners are now on an open-ended hunger strike.
Since the beginning of the hunger strike, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has collectively punished participating prisoners using a wide range of tactics. Most recent updates indicate that some prisoners are being fined between 250 (€50) and 500 (€100) shekels for each day of their hunger strike. In Naqab prison, prisoners are experiencing daily inspections of random sections, which last for approximately 40 to 50 minutes. These inspections include cell and body searches. In addition, prisoners are no longer permitted to leave their rooms for the daily break period. More
“I have heard stories that make evident the profound hurt that indigenous peoples continue to feel because of the history of oppression they have faced,” Anaya said in a statement issued by the U.N. human rights office in Geneva.
That oppression, he said, has included the seizure of lands and resources, the removal of children from their families and communities, the loss of languages, violation of treaties, and brutality, all grounded in racial discrimination.
Anaya welcomed the U.S. decision to endorse the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2010 and other steps the government has taken, but said more was needed. His findings will be included in a final report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council. While not binding, the recommendations carry moral weight that can influence governments. More
Thursday, May 3, 2012
I have reached this conclusion slowly and painfully. I am aware that many of our Jewish brothers and sisters who were so instrumental in the fight against South African apartheid are not yet ready to reckon with the apartheid nature of Israel and its current government. And I am enormously concerned that raising this issue will cause heartache to some in the Jewish community with whom I have worked closely and successfully for decades. But I cannot ignore the Palestinian suffering I have witnessed, nor the voices of those courageous Jews troubled by Israel's discriminatory course.Within the past few days, some 1,200 American rabbis signed a letter — timed to coincide with resolutions considered by the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) — urging Christians not "to selectively divest from certain companies whose products are used by Israel." They argue that a "one-sided approach" on divestment resolutions, even the selective divestment from companies profiting from the occupation proposed by the Methodists and Presbyterians, "damages the relationship between Jews and Christians that has been nurtured for decades."
While they are no doubt well-meaning, I believe that the rabbis and other opponents of divestment are sadly misguided. My voice will always be raised in support of Christian-Jewish ties and against the anti-Semitism that all sensible people fear and detest. But this cannot be an excuse for doing nothing and for standing aside as successive Israeli governments colonize the West Bank and advance racist laws.
I recall well the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail in which he confesses to his "Christian and Jewish brothers" that he has been "gravely disappointed with the white moderate … who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action;' who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom. ..." More
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
* For starters, in vowing to “preserve, protect and defend the US Constitution of the United States,” President Obama, upon taking office, had a sacred obligation to prosecute the people who had gravely wounded that document prior to his assuming office. It was clear, as I wrote in my book The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), that Bush and Cheney had ordered and condoned and covered up torture of captives in their so-called “War” on Terror, as well as in the very real wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, committing grievous war crimes that are not only violations of international law, but of the US Criminal Code, given that the US is a leading author and signatory of the Geneva Accords). They also were war criminals of the first degree for orchestrating, through lies to both the UN Security Council and the US Congress and the American people, about the alleged threat and imminence of any threat by Iraq to the US or its allies. President Obama, under the UN Charter and under US law, as the president, commander in chief and top law officer in the nation, was bound to investigate and prosecute those crimes. Instead, he ordered that there would be no prosecutions.
* A federal court also ruled that President Bush had committed a felony in using the National Security Agency and several complicit telecommunications companies to spy on massive numbers of Americans with no warrants. Again, instead of prosecuting the president once he replaced him, President Obama said there would be no prosecution, and he went on to expand that spying program exponentially, effectively shredding beyond recognition the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures, which had been a leading rallying issue for the revolutionists of 1776.
* President Obama, on his own initiative, has moved beyond the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, launching illegal wars against Libya, Yemen and Pakistan, largely through the use of American military aircraft, cruise missiles and especially pilotless drones.
In addition to being illegal acts of war against nations that pose no imminent threat to the US, these clear acts of war have caused vastly disproportionate civilian deaths -- reportedly as many as 40 civilians, including many children, are being killed by drone strikes inside Pakistan for each of the supposed targeted “terrorists.” Jist the disproportionality of such "collateral damage" is a heinous war crime, even leaving aside the illegality of such strikes being conducted by the US within the border of a sovereign nation not at war with the US. More
The ideas expressed here are those of the author of the article and do not necessarily reflect those of the the Cayman Institute, the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute or their Editors.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
conviction of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is said to have sent an unequivocal message to current leaders: that great office confers no immunity. In fact it sent two messages: if you run a small, weak nation, you may be subject to the full force of international law; if you run a powerful nation, you have nothing to fear.
While anyone with an interest in human rights should welcome the verdict, it reminds us that no one has faced legal consequences for launching the illegal war against Iraq. This fits the Nuremberg tribunal's definition of a "crime of aggression", which it called "the supreme international crime". The charges on which, in an impartial system, George Bush, Tony Blair and their associates should have been investigated are far graver than those for which Taylor was found guilty.
The foreign secretary, William Hague, claims that Taylor's conviction "demonstrates that those who have committed the most serious of crimes can and will be held to account for their actions". But the international criminal court, though it was established 10 years ago, and though the crime of aggression has been recognised in international law since 1945, still has no jurisdiction over "the most serious of crimes". This is because the powerful nations, for obvious reasons, are procrastinating. Nor have the United Kingdom, the United States and other western nations incorporated the crime of aggression into their own legislation. International law remains an imperial project, in which only the crimes committed by vassal states are punished.
In this respect it corresponds to other global powers. Despite its trumpeted reforms, theInternational Monetary Fund remains under the control of the United States and the former colonial powers. All constitutional matters still require an 85% share of the vote. By an inexplicable oversight, the United States retains 16.7%, ensuring that it possesses a veto over subsequent reforms. Belgium still has eight times the votes of Bangladesh, Italy a bigger share than India, and the United Kingdom and France between them more voting power than the 49 African members. The managing director remains, as imperial tradition insists, a European, her deputy an American. More