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“We’re Witnessing a Reactivation of the Death Squads of the ‘80s”

An Interview with Bertha Oliva of COFADEH

By Alex Main | cepr Americas Blog | March 29, 2013

Bertha Oliva is the General Coordinator of COFADEH, the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained in Honduras. Bertha’s husband was “disappeared” in 1981, a period when death squads were active in Honduras. She founded COFADEH together with other women who lost their loved ones, in order to seek justice and compensation for the families of the hundreds of dissidents that were “disappeared” between 1979 and 1989. Since then Bertha and COFADEH have taken on some of the country’s most emblematic human rights cases and were a strong voice in opposition to the 2009 coup d’Etat and the repression that followed.  We interviewed her in Washington, D.C. on March 15th, shortly after she participated in a hearing on the human rights situation in Honduras at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).  During the hearing she said that death squads are targeting social leaders, lawyers, journalists and other groups and called on the IACHR to visit Honduras in the next six months to take stock of the human rights situation ahead of the November general elections (Bertha’s testimony can be viewed here, beginning at 17:40).  

Q:  On various occasions you’ve said that what you’re seeing today in Honduras is reminiscent of the difficult times you experienced in the ‘80s and I’d like you to elaborate on that.

In the ‘80s we had armed forces that were excessively empowered. Today Honduras is extremely similar, with military officers exercising control over many of the country’s institutions.  The military is now in the streets playing a security role – often substituting for the work of the police forces of the country.

In the ‘80s we also witnessed the practice of forced disappearances and assassinations. In that era it was clear that they were killing social leaders, political opponents, but they also assassinated people who had no ties to dissident groups in order to generate confusion in public opinion and try to disqualify our denunciations of the killings of family members who were political opponents.

Today they assassinate young people in a more atrocious fashion than in the ‘80s and we’re seeing a marked pattern of assassinations of women and youth.  And within this mass of people that are assassinated there are political opponents.  We refuse to dismiss these assassinations as simply a result of the extreme violence that we’re experiencing, as they try to tell the country.  We say that it is a product of impunity and Honduras’ historical debt for failing to resolve cases perpetrated by state agents…

In the ‘80s the presence of the U.S. in the country was extremely significant.  Today it’s the same.  New bases have opened as a result of an anti-drug cooperation agreement signed between Honduras and the U.S.

In the ‘80s it was clear that political opponents were being eliminated.  Today they’re also eliminating those who claim land rights, as exemplified in the Bajo Aguán.  More than 98 land rights activists have been assassinated.  The campesino sector in the Bajo Aguán has been psychologically and emotionally tortured on top of the physical torture that certain campesino leaders have been subjected to.

Q:  Today in the hearing on human rights in Honduras at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights you discussed death squads. Death squads were active in the ‘80s and now you believe that this sinister phenomenon is coming back.

It’s certain that death squads are a product of the impunity that we’ve seen in Honduras. The death squads of the past were never really dismantled.  What we’re witnessing is a reactivation of these death squads.  And we’re seeing it quite clearly.  We’ve seen videos of incidents in the street where masked men with military training and unmarked vehicles assassinate young people. There is the recent case of the journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado who gave up his news program from 10pm to midnight on Radio Globo because members of a death squad came to kill him, and to save his own life he had to stop doing his program.

In Honduras we had a military coup d’Etat and this resulted in persecution, an implosion of the state’s institutions which has left us with a dysfunctional judicial system and this has provided cover to those who wish to break the law.

And, what’s worse, state agents seem to have no political interest in improving and changing the situation.  What we’re witnessing is a growing professionalization of the capacity to justify illegal acts: authorities’ assertion that they intend to investigate these acts, when that’s simply not true.  In reality it seems the intention is to continue terrorizing the Honduran people, to make them submissive so as to undermine citizen action.

What we’d like to see in Honduras is real action to try to prevent crime rather than continued justification of the lack of progress of investigations into crimes.

Q:  COFADEH is providing legal counsel to the victims and the families of the victims of the emblematic case that took place in May of last year in Ahuas, in which there was a police operation that involved U.S. agents and Honduran security agents that killed four people and injured a few others.  Can you discuss the status of that case, over ten months after the killings took place?

Yes, we are the legal representatives of the victims in this case and, on the one hand, we are filing a complaint with Honduras’ judicial authorities to show or verify the responsibility of Honduran agents and DEA agents that participated in this incident.

But we’re also trying to reach out to the general public so that the case is better known and debated as this is the only real recourse we human rights defenders have: publicly denouncing the incident to see whether this will allow for some protection of the victims and of ourselves.  But legally we see this as a very difficult case to move forward and this is where we can see that the authorities aren’t interested in investigating, let alone sanctioning, those responsible.  The crime of the tragic attack against this indigenous community has been compounded by the crime of violating due process in the investigation.

We the legal representatives of the victims should have access to the case file. The Public Ministry [equivalent to the Attorney General’s Office in the U.S. – ed.] shouldn’t allow any obstacle to come in the way of our access to the file.  They can’t legally prevent us from learning about the actions that have been taken in the course of the investigation because we are part of the defense.  It is prohibited for either of the parties to be denied access to the case file.  The file can be classified with regard to the general public, but not with regard to the parties representing the victims and the accused.

We haven’t seen all the files in this case.  They haven’t been inserted in a binder [as is normally the case] in order to allow them to remove information when we ask for the file.  How can we participate effectively in a trial when we can’t see all of the case file?

Q: And what evidence do you have of their having removed parts of the case file before sharing it with you?

One is that when we’ve been shown the case file it basically only contains documents that we’ve produced.  We know the Public Ministry has carried out its own investigations; it has carried out the exhumation and autopsies of the deceased victims’ bodies for instance.  As a side note, we weren’t informed that they were carrying out the exhumations of the victims.  We’re left with the impression that the intention isn’t to find evidence but rather to remove [borrar] evidence… Our Public Ministry should be called a “Public Laundromat” because they’re engaged in destroying evidence.

Q: So you didn’t see the reports on the exhumations and autopsies of the victims in the Ahuas case file?

We haven’t seen them, just as we didn’t see the report that was sent by [Honduran Attorney General equivalent] Luís Alberto Rubi to the State Department of the United States.  This indicates to us that they remove information and documentation from the case file that they don’t want us to see.

The Public Prosecutor [Attorney General equivalent] sent a report to a representative of the State Department, Maria Otero, with – for instance – the names of the Honduran police agents and military personnel that participated in the operation, though not the names of the DEA agents, with the apparent goal of barring them from any sort of responsibility.

Q:  But you did end up managing to see the Public Ministry report sent to the State Department?

Yes, but not through the Public Ministry, but thanks to people outside Honduras who managed to get hold of a copy.

Q:  In this report there is information based on testimony provided to the Public Ministry by police agents that participated in the Ahuas operation.  Have you been able to see any of this original testimony?

No, we haven’t seen any of the testimony of the police agents.

Q:  What is the current situation of the surviving victims of the Ahuas incident, and of the families of the victims?

The situation of the families, of the survivors, of the community is really very critical.  They are emotionally and psychologically affected.  Being on the receiving end of an armed aerial attack is a shock for a remote community that never expected an attack of this nature.  Some of the community members were woken up by armed agents, were physically attacked and had certain belongings stolen.

I think that those that survived are no longer directly threatened but not all of them have recovered their physical abilities.  For instance, a young man sustained a serious injury to his hand requiring an operation that cost 100,000 lempiras [over $5,000 – ed.].  Where can this boy, who doesn’t have anything, find this kind of money?

COFADEH ended up having to take care of him and he’s still in treatment in Tegucigalpa, far from his community.  We are paying for his treatment and lodging him, feeding him and paying for his studies.  This is the responsibility of the state and it has refused to assume this responsibility even though we requested urgent protective measures from the state.  The state is good at providing technically well-designed reports before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, but it has been incapable of dealing with the needs of the survivors of this attack.

This sort of thing is a clear demonstration of their lack of interest in resolving and combatting the insecurity we’re experiencing, the political violence and the high level of impunity.

Q:  What about the other injured victims?

We’ve had to bring them to Tegucigalpa to be treated.  In the case of one boy they left studs [clavos] jutting out of his arm.  He almost lost his arm because after the operation they sent him back to his community but with no medicine.

We’ve also had to provide care for other relatives of the survivors and the deceased victims.  It’s impressive the level of neglect of these victims on the part of the state.

We [the human rights defenders] return to our country with the fear that the attacks will extend to us as a result of our decision to come and denounce a state that has shown itself incapable of assuming its responsibility.

Q:  COFADEH has received threats and recently its offices were raided.  Can you talk to me about your situation, your vulnerability, and what people in the U.S. can do to help?

Our situation isn’t good at all.  I confess that we’re frightened because we love life, that’s why we dedicate ourselves to defending the lives of others.  And I don’t want to die or be tortured.  And I don’t want to have to confront state agents.  But despite their machinery of hate and actions against us, they should know that they can’t stop us.

Fortunately we can count on support from people in the U.S. and the rest of the world, and I can reaffirm today that this support and this commitment of people abroad inspires us and makes us feel less alone.  Because the worst that can happen for a human rights defender facing threats is to feel alone.  That’s why we call on you to continue supporting us to defend the life and liberty of the citizens that need our help.

March 31, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “We’re Witnessing a Reactivation of the Death Squads of the ‘80s”

Afghanistan – 10 Years of Failure & Oppression

This important documentary explores the decade long war in Afghanistan. It was produced as part of Hizb ut Tahrir Australia’s recent campaign on the decade anniversary of the war. It is high time for a honest and rigorous assessment of this war and, in the Australian context, continued involvement in it. The politicians, from both sides, have regurgitated the same platitudes, built on false narratives, for ten years, as more soldiers have died, more civilians have perished and more of Afghanistan has been destroyed.

March 31, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Case Study of BBC Newsnight Reporting of Israel/Palestine

By Peter Allen | News Unspun | March 25, 2013

‘Why is this lying bastard lying to me?’ is a remark about interviewing politicians commonly attributed to Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman (actually originally made by Louis Heren of The Times). For those of us who watch Newsnight and its like the question we need to ask is not only ‘why’, but also ‘how’ these lying bastards are lying to us. You may well get the feeling that what you are watching is skewed, but given the speed of TV reports it can be difficult to recognise exactly just how we are being manipulated.

There is little doubt that we are being manipulated. For example, the Glasgow University Media Group (GUMG) – in a study of BBC and ITV news bulletins – found that the Israeli perspective was used to structure news reports (see *Philo and Berry, 2011). There was also very little context given of the history of how the occupation developed and how it has been prosecuted by the Israelis. Reporters tended to use ‘loaded’ vocabulary, so only Palestinians were described as ‘militants’ or ‘gunmen’. In addition, the USA was unrealistically presented as being even-handed and trying to broker a fair peace. Many or perhaps all of these findings also appear to apply to Newsnight.

This article is based on research I carried out for my MA dissertation (the full text of which is available online). Here I’m going to analyse one Newsnight report on Israel/Palestine using a method called Critical Discourse Analysis. The full version of this uses a three-level analysis – the social context (government policy on the Middle East), the institutional context (how the BBC operates to construct news programmes on the Middle East in the context of its relationship with the state) and the text (the reports). For reasons of space I’m just going to concentrate on one programme here. This report was broadcast on 19 November 2012 amidst speculation that Israel was going to invade Gaza once again (the report can be watched online. A full transcript is also available).

CDA is a flexible approach which can analyse a number of aspects of a text – grammar, vocabulary, discourses (such as metaphors), genres and so on, with the aim of revealing the underlying presuppositions and discovering what has been left out. The results can help to illuminate the ideology of the producer. In this case, I’m going to look at the report stage by stage and point out some of the sleight of hand involved.

The first stage is the introduction to the programme which highlights the report on Gaza. The presenter Kirsty Wark begins by saying `who can stop Gaza and Israel descending into a ground war’ (line 1 of the transcript). Why does Wark set up Gaza and Israel as equal subjects of the process `descending into war’? This spuriously implies that there are two more or less equal sides with equal responsibility for the situation. A more honest introduction could be `who can stop Israel attacking Gaza and the Palestinians responding’. Wark’s verbal manipulation establishes the tone of the report which completely avoids discussing Israel’s motivation for starting the conflict.

The second stage is the studio introduction to the report itself, which concentrates on updating the viewer on the most recent events. Here we see a privileging of the Israeli point of view. In particular, Wark claims that `Israeli jets pound the Strip in retaliation for rocket attacks’ (l.11-12). The GUMG has shown that it is very common for TV news to claim that Israeli attacks on the Palestinians are `retaliation’, whether this is true or not. However, the Palestinians claim that Israel started this conflict when they killed a child in Gaza on 8 November. Why does the BBC completely ignore this (reported in The Guardian 18 November) and take the Israeli account as unproblematic?

Wark then asks one question to Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban who goes into an analysis of what has been happening. This format – which is frequent on TV news programmes – allows Urban to state his views unchallenged: a good way to establish his presuppositions as `the truth’. For example, he refers to the 2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza as a `limited conflict’ (l.33-35, from which we can guess that he wasn’t living there at the time). And although he refers to the Israeli attack on a building in Gaza which housed news organisations (l.50-52), this reference is `backgrounded’ as if it was accidental. In fact, Israel has a record (as does the USA) of attacking independent journalists, but Urban ignores this.

In the third stage we get an edited `package’ which starts to include other voices – where reporters select and incorporate the comments of interviewees into a chain with a linking voiceover. This may make it seem as if it is just telling a story in a natural way, but of course it is constructed to tell the story that the reporter wants – in other words it is ideological. The voices here are those of the Israeli and Egyptian governments, and Hamas. However, they are not treated equally. Individuals close to the governments are interviewed to give a semi-official point of view, but only a brief clip of a Hamas press conference is included – no direct interview. Why is this? Is the BBC denying a voice to Hamas, which is after all the elected representative of the people of Gaza, because the UK government will not recognise it? The BBC is funded by licence-fee payers, you and me, not the Foreign Office. But for Newsnight the importance of properly informing the viewer of events is secondary to toeing the government line. In practice, the BBC’s independence from government may be real to some degree but it is strictly limited (see my discussion of the reasons why in my original research).

Urban also discusses what will happen if Israel invades Gaza. However, this is done in a very matter-of-fact way, as if discussing military exercises. We are shown maps of Gaza with arrows and tanks, and mention of `2009’s ground push’, `severing communications’, and only additionally `producing hundreds of civilian deaths’ (l.98-101). Would the tone be the same if the US/UK security services’ lunatic fantasy of Iran attacking Israel ever happened? Would Urban calmly be discussing severing communications in Tel Aviv while we looked at graphics of tanks on maps? It hardly seems likely. The screen would be filled with voices denouncing this monstrous attack. Why aren’t we seeing this about the war crime of killing civilians in Gaza? Instead, the only external voice brought in to comment on this is Tony Blair. Newsnight chooses Britain’s major war criminal to sanitise Israel’s assault on Gaza, for that is effectively what Blair tries to do in the final stage of the programme.

Wark now asks Blair five questions. If we examine them we can see quite clearly the presuppositions that inform this report. Two of them are about Hamas receiving weapons via Egypt (l.141-143 and l.159-165) and clearly assume that there is something wrong with this. Why is this assumed? Palestine has been under occupation since 1948, and since 1967 the United Nations has called on Israel to pull back to its pre-1967 borders, which it refuses to do. Instead it uses violence to repress the Palestinians, which includes the use of weapons supplied by the USA and UK. Why should the Palestinians not have weapons to defend themselves? What about Israel’s weapons? These questions are completely suppressed by Newsnight.

It is particularly telling that Wark asks Blair `is there no pressure we can put on that this weaponry does not come through from Egypt’? Who is this `we’ exactly? Neither the UK nor the BBC is involved in the conflict, so why is Wark including the viewer in taking sides? The assumption throughout is that the Palestinians have no right to defend themselves. Even when Wark presses Blair to agree that the Israeli response has been disproportionate her question includes the ridiculous assumption that the Palestinians have been `harassing’ Israel (l.180-185). Blair’s response is a very good example of a politician trying to wriggle out of admitting the truth, which Wark fails to follow up on.

There are numerous other examples from this report which demonstrate how the BBC manipulates its reporting on this topic to favour Israel which lack of space prevents me from recounting (but you can read a fuller analysis in my original research). However, it is clear that the report is framed to privilege the Israeli viewpoint. The question remains – why? Is it the individual bias of particular journalists? That is hardly likely as the approach is consistent across a wide range of reporters. The reason lies in the relationship between the BBC and the state (see my discussion of this here). The BBC is allowed a certain amount of independence as long as certain boundaries are not crossed. One of those major boundaries is Israel’s repression of the Palestinians. We can – and should – pressurise the BBC to be more truthful. But don’t hold your breath for a positive response – we are in for a very long wait.

* Greg Philo and Mike Berry (2011) More Bad News From Israel Pluto Press

Peter Allen can be contacted at

March 31, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why the Awlakis Were Killed

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | March 26, 2013

While President Obama, the Pentagon, and the CIA have steadfastly refused to say why they assassinated American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, one thing remains beyond dispute: It wasn’t because Awlaki was trying to take away the freedom of the American people. It was instead because he was opposing the U.S. national-security state’s interventionism in the Middle East and neighboring regions.

The issue is a simple one:

People over there are saying to the Pentagon and the CIA:

Go home. Leave us alone. Close your military bases. Cease your sanctions, embargoes, coups, invasions, occupations, regime-change operations, threats, kidnapping, incarceration, prison camps, torture, and support of our dictators. Just go home and deal with your own problems.

On the other hand, the U.S. national-security state says:

Not on your life. We are the U.S. national-security state. We are a force for good in the world. We are here to help you. We have the right to do so. We have the right to bring you democracy and freedom and order and stability. We have the right to support your dictators, oust your rulers and install new ones, sanction and embargo you, kidnap, incarcerate, and torture you, and assassinate you. We are here to stay. You are free to protest to your heart’s content. But the minute you try to force us to return home, we will bomb, shoot, arrest, incarcerate, torture, execute, or assassinate you and anyone standing near you.

The rumor is that Awlaki had crossed the line from legitimate protest to some sort of “operational” role in attacks on U.S. troops over there. Nonetheless, the basic fact remains — he was killed not for trying to deprive the American people of their freedom but because he was supposedly part of an effort to force the Pentagon and the CIA to exit that part of the world and return home.

Awlaki wasn’t trying to take over the reins of the U.S. government in an attempt to enslave the American people. On the contrary, he left the United States with the sole intent of resisting the presence and activities of the U.S. national-security state over there.

By the way, the same principle applies to the assassination of Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman. The rumor is that the boy was supposedly “collateral damage” from a drone missile fired at some supposed terrorist in Yemen. But like his father and, for that matter, all the other people they have assassinated over there, the supposed terrorist sitting next to Abdulrahman had no intent to cross the Atlantic Ocean as part of some gigantic terrorist army to invade, conquer, and occupy the United States and deprive Americans of their freedom. At most, the supposed terrorist was involved in the effort to oust the U.S. national-security state from that part of the world and force it to return home.

That’s what the assassinations are all about — not about defending the freedom of the American people but rather the “freedom” of the U.S. national-security state to do whatever it wants in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Why is this important? Because when a government is killing people, including both its own citizens and foreigners, it is incumbent on the citizenry to determine the reasons for the killings. Then, if the citizenry conclude that the reason for the killings is an illegitimate one, based on moral, ethical, religious, and spiritual factors, then it is up to the citizens to place the government back on the right track.

That’s where the role of conscience comes in.

Is the U.S. national-security state’s interventionism abroad a valid moral, ethical, religious, and spiritual justification for the Pentagon’s and CIA’s continued assassination of Americans and foreigners? Is it consistent with God’s laws and fundamental laws of morality? Is this the type of thing American Christians should be supporting? Or is it time for the American people to demand that the Pentagon and the CIA stop the killings and come home?

March 31, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Militarism | , , , | Comments Off on Why the Awlakis Were Killed

A Day After in Palestine: the Rights of a People

By Brenda Heard | Friends of Lebanon | March 31, 2013

Thirty-seven years ago the Israeli Housing Minister stated: “If you want to develop an area you have to confiscate some lands.  We have done this very slowly with extreme consideration and much patience.”  It is doubtful that the average Palestinian was aware of these reassuring words, reported by the Associated Press on 31 March 1976.  But after a day of deadly conflict, they woke to a very real understanding of Israeli “consideration.”

On 30 March 1976 Palestinians held a general strike to protest against the recently announced intention of the Israeli forces to further snuff out Arab viability in the Galilee region.  The Israeli government intended to expropriate 5000 acres of land in order to build Jewish-only settlements.  The government conceded that 1625 of those acres belonged to its Arab citizens and claimed that an additional 2000 were owned by the “Israeli Land Authority.”  The Palestinian people knew there was a fundamental and ethical flaw in what has continued to be known as the “Judeaization of the Galilee.”  Even the Israeli High Court would soon highlight the illegality of such political land-grabs.

The Palestinians formed a committee to address their concerns to the Israeli state which now claimed them as citizens.  Just the week before the demonstration, a spokesman for the Arab committee stated:

“This is not a Palestinian issue, or an issue of Arab nationalist feeling.  I look at this as a human rights issue, as a minority living in the country.  We are not against development.  We want development.  We are the ones who need it.  If the government wants to develop the Galilee, it should include Arabs in the plans.  It should set up a committee to make plans that would serve both Jews and Arabs.”

The estimated 400,000 Palestinian people who participated in the strike protest knew the time had come to take a common stand.  But the Israeli armed forces would not tolerate what they viewed as insubordination.  They turned their weapons on the protestors, killing six outright, injuring dozens and arresting hundreds who persisted in their protest.  While the Western media quickly put down the fatal day as an outbreak of rioting Arabs, the nature of Israeli “consideration” was revealed by the brute force of Zionism.

Far from being granted any semblance of democratic participation, the Arab voice was smothered.  As one journalist described,

“Hundreds of Israeli troops backed by armored cars sealed off the violence-torn villages from the rest of Israel and refused to let reporters past the outskirts of Deir Hana.  Israeli troops fanned out among the olive trees ringing the hilltop village as hundreds of chanting Arabs demonstrated inside Deir Hana.  A large cloud of black smoke hung over the town.  This reporter managed to get within 200 yards of the demonstrators before being forced by Israeli troops to leave the area.  Dozens of gunshots could be heard amid the chants of the demonstrators. . . .  At Kfar Kanna , a town between Nazareth and Tiberias, 1000 protesters demonstrated near the council building.  Police used tear gas to break up a crowd of high school students, most of them girls, who set up roadblocks.”

Why such a show of force?  Because the Arabs were viewed merely as a “fifth column,” as an “ominous new element confronting the Jewish state.”  Then Defence Minister Shimon Peres stated:

“We were wrong for 28 years in thinking we could ignore the ethnic difference between Arabs and Jews. . . . You can’t expect an Arab to be a Zionist, support Jewish immigration to Israel an sing the national anthem.”

As years of conflict have ensued, ‘Palestine Land Day’ has been a yearly reminder of the intentions that were so clearly exposed in 1976.  Israel has boldly continued the policy of expanding Jewish-only land and of purging non-Jewish inhabitants.  This “creeping form of annexation” has been identified and condemned by the United Nations not only just weeks ago,  but over and over again for decades.  Nothing has changed.  Yet the Palestinian people refuse to be arbitrarily renamed “Israeli Arabs,” to be branded as terrorists and stomped into submission until they fade into a half-remembered history.   Perhaps when they woke up after that day of deadly conflict, they realised that those who reduced them to dispensable pawns did not destroy the humanity of the Palestinian people, but forfeited their own.

March 31, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Comments Off on A Day After in Palestine: the Rights of a People

Female Bahraini Doctor ‘Severely’ Tortured in Jail

Al-Manar | March 31, 2013

A female Bahraini doctor says the Al Khalifa regime forces have ‘severely’ tortured her and several other doctors, who treated injured anti-regime protesters, in order to extract false confessions.

“We were forced to sign false confession blindly without reading them and these confessions were taken or extracted by severe torture and I mean by severe torture physical and psychological torture,” Dr. Fatima Haji said in a recent interview with Russia Today.

“We’d been denied sleep for days and had been standing for days. We were not given food or fluids and were hardly allowed to go the toilet,” Haji stated.

She further said the inmates were beaten by wooden sticks and hollow pipes. They were also electrocuted, sexually harassed and threatened with death and rape.

Haji is one of a group of doctors who were sentenced to five years in jail for their role in anti-regime protests. However, they were acquitted in 2012.

The confession they were forced to sign said that they were in possession of arms in the hospital where they worked and that they were trying to topple the Manama regime.


March 31, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , , | Comments Off on Female Bahraini Doctor ‘Severely’ Tortured in Jail

Israeli police arrest Palestinians at al-Aqsa mosque

Al-Akhbar | March 31, 2013

Israeli police arrested Palestinian worshipers on Saturday at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, after an alleged scuffle erupted during a visit by a group of Jews and Christians to the mosque.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an that six Palestinians were arrested for throwing stones at groups of Jews and Christians visiting the compound.

Witnesses told Ma’an that police detained ten Palestinians and attacked Muslim worshipers with electric shock batons.

Dozens of Israeli settlers raided the mosque from al-Magharbeh gate, witnesses said. One settler drank wine and another allowed her daughter to urinate near an olive tree in the compound, they said, adding that a guard at al-Aqsa Mosque intervened, leading to scuffles.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director of Islamic endowments in Jerusalem, said 200 Israeli settlers had entered the mosque in a provocative way, adding that religious officials had forced Israeli police to close al-Magharbeh gate for the day.

Israel’s police spokesman said further visits of Jewish and Christian groups were scheduled on Sunday afternoon and would continue as planned.

The al-Aqsa Mosque compound is one of the holiest sites in Islam. Jews also consider the area, which they refer to as Temple Mount, as imbued with important religious meaning.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

March 31, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | Comments Off on Israeli police arrest Palestinians at al-Aqsa mosque

Russia slams US ‘interference’ for vowing to continue NGO funding

RT | March 30, 2013

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the US over its plan to continue financing certain Russian NGOs. Moscow has accused Washington of meddling in its domestic affairs.

“We consider the statement by the US State Department official representative Victoria Nuland, saying the US is going to continue financing some of Russia’s NGOs through intermediaries in third countries, avoiding the Russian legislature, a blatant interference into our internal affairs,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said in a statement on Saturday.

Mass audits of Russian NGOs started on March 21, on orders from the Justice Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s office.

The checks immediately sparked criticism in the international rights community, which labeled them an attempt to pressure activists. Russia has maintained the checks are regular inspections to see if NGO work complies with Russian law – legislation was recently amended to require that NGOs receiving foreign funding register as ‘foreign agents.’

Victoria Nuland, US State Department spokesperson, said that Washington’s NGO funding will continue unabated: “We are providing funding through platforms outside of Russia for those organizations that continue to want to work with us,” she said at a Thursday briefing.

The Russian Foreign Ministry believes the US is engaged in “direct instigating of certain non-governmental and public structures to violate legislation related to the work of non-governmental organisations in the Russian Federation,” according to Lukashevich’s statement.

Russian diplomats were also incensed by Victoria Nuland’s description of the NGO raids as a “witch hunt.” Lukashevich’s statement described his American counterpart’s choice of words as “cynical and provocative.”

Moscow has said that its NGO policy is in line with generally accepted international practices. So far, auditors have reported no infractions in the activities of non-governmental groups, apart from one incident. On Thursday, ‘For Human Rights’ leader Lev Ponomaryov refused to turn over working documents to inspectors, saying that his organization had already been subjected to a recent check.

Law enforcers said the act was a refusal to comply with lawful demands, and started an administrative case against the activist.

President Putin on Friday asked Russia’s top Human Rights Commissioner, Vladimir Lukin, to monitor the situation with the NGO raids. “I would like to rule out any excesses there,” Putin said.

March 30, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , | 2 Comments

We don’t spy on US citizens, just anti-government groups, says fusion center director

PrivacySOS – 03/28/2013

The Arkansas State Fusion Center

An official from an Arkansas State Fusion Center recently spoke to the press to clear up what he called “misconceptions” about what his office actually does, with depressingly hilarious results. (For some background on fusion centers, click here.)

“The misconceptions are that we are conducting spying operations on US citizens, which is of course not the fact. That is absolutely not what we do,” fusion center director Richard Davis told the local press.

Fusion center employees are in a tight spot to justify the existence of their operations after multiple congressional reports over the past year took them to task for being poorly run, duplicative of other counterterrorism efforts, privacy violative wastes of money, or some combination of the three.

So what does Mr. Davis’ fusion center do, then? Why does it exist?

The Arkansas fusion center director, after having flatly denied that his office spies on US citizens, told the reporter the following:

“I do what I do because of what happened on 9/11,” Davis says. “There’s this urge and this feeling inside that you want to do something, and this is a perfect opportunity for me.”

Davis says Arkansas hasn’t collected much information about international plots, but they do focus on groups closer to home.

“We focus a little more on that, domestic terrorism and certain groups that are anti-government,” he says. “We want to kind of take a look at that and receive that information.

So the fusion center does in fact spy on US citizens! Among them, “groups that are anti-government.” But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here: perhaps Mr. Davis thinks that people who hold “anti-government” views should not be treated as US citizens?

The fact is, in the United States, holding “anti-government” views is protected by the First Amendment. And everyone in the United States, not just its citizens, is protected by the First Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights.

Disliking the government isn’t a crime. But that’s not stopping many fusion centers from associating dissent with terrorism.

Here in Boston we learned that the Boston police intelligence unit spied on anti-war and other activist groups for years, filing “intelligence reports” on activists at its fusion center, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center. Fusion centers in other states have reported on people for high crimes like putting political stickers up in restrooms, or participating in anti-death penalty organizing.

Activists in Los Angeles have brought their concerns about inappropriate political spying straight to the fusion center itself. Perhaps people in Arkansas should tell Mr. Davis how they feel about their tax dollars supporting shadowy surveillance of so-called “anti-government” groups. Then again, they might not want to be listed as “anti-government.”

March 30, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Washington Post Confuses Saving the Financial Industry with Saving the Financial System

CEPR Beat the Press | March 30, 2013

The Washington Post published excerpts from reporter Neil Irwin’s new book, The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire, under the headline, “three days that saved the world financial system.” The headline is seriously misleading since it may cause readers to believe the world somehow would have lacked a financial system if the central bankers in Irwin’s story had not succeeded in their efforts.

This is not true. Had a financial collapse actually been the outcome, the central banks had the ability to take over failed banks and restart the system. (This is what the FDIC does all the time.) We would most likely see something similar to what Argentina experienced when it defaulted on its debt in December 2001 and broke the link of its currency to the dollar or what Cyprus is seeing today.

Presumably banks would be shut for a relatively short period of time until the regulators could do some preliminary workarounds. Then people would only be allowed access to a limited portion of their deposits, as is now the case in Cyprus. This situation might persist for weeks or possibly months as more money would gradually be freed up for withdrawal.

If Argentina is viewed as the model, this situation would likely lead to sharp downturn, but then a quick bounce back. By the summer of 2003 Argentina had made up all of the ground lost in the downturn. It was growing rapidly at the time and continued to grow rapidly until the world recession brought growth to a standstill in 2009.

Source; International Monetary Fund.

While the immediate hit from the financial collapse would have almost certainly been worse than what Europe and the rest of the world saw in the immediate wake of the initial euro zone crisis, the euro zone and world economy would almost certainly be much better off today if the central bankers had simply allowed the system to collapse. (This assumes that they are as competent as the economic policymakers in Argentina.)

In this sense, the heroes in Irwin’s book can be seen as saving the bankers, who would have been wiped out in a financial collapse, but not really doing much to benefit the rest of society.

March 30, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on Washington Post Confuses Saving the Financial Industry with Saving the Financial System

Korean Lawmakers and Human Rights Experts Challenge Three Strikes Law

By Danny O’Brien and Maira Sutton | EFF | March 29, 2013

In July 2009, South Korea became the first country to introduce a graduated response or “three strikes” law. The statute allows the Minister of Culture or the Korean Copyright Commission to tell ISPs and Korean online service providers to suspend the accounts of repeated infringers and block or delete infringing content online. There is no judicial process, no court of appeal, and no opportunity to challenge the accusers.

The entertainment industry has repeatedly pointed to South Korea as a model for a controlled Internet that should be adopted everywhere else. In the wake of South Korea’s implementation, graduated response laws have been passed in France and the United Kingdom, and ISPs in the United States have voluntarily accepted a similar scheme.

But back in Korea, the entertainment industry’s experiment in Internet enforcement has been a failure. Instead of tackling a few “heavy uploaders” involved in large scale infringement, the law has spiraled out of control. It has now distributed nearly half a million takedown notices, and led to the closing down of 408 Korean Internet users’ web accounts, most of which were online storage services. An investigation led by the Korean politician Choi Jae-Cheon showed that half of those suspended were involved in infringement of material that would cost less than 90 U.S. cents. And while the bill’s backers claimed it would reduce piracy, detected infringement has only increased as more and more users are subject to suspensions, deletion, and blocked content.

This Wednesday, Korea’s National Human Rights Commission recommended that the three strikes law be re-examined, given its unclear benefits, and its potential violation of the human rights to receive and impart information and to participate in the cultural life of the community.

Mr. Choi and twelve other members of the Korean National Assembly have taken the first step in that reform. Last week, they announced plans to introduce a law that would repeal three strikes, as well as ensure that ISPs have no need to pro-actively spy on their own users for signs of copyright infringement. Newly formed Korean digital rights group, OpenNet,  is also working hard to drum up political support for this initiative.

The rightsholders have reacted with alarm to the prospect of copyright reform in Korea, and have already begun heavy lobbying for the abandonment of Choi’s initiative. They badly need Korea to maintain this law, even if it damages Korea’s own economy and their citizen’s civil liberties. It’s not surprising that they have already been making frequent calls and meetings with Mr. Choi and other Korean politicians. If Korea rejects three strikes as a disaster, why should anyone else maintain its injustices?

Korean lawmakers need to stand firm. We, along with many other major international Internet rights groups, including Access, Creative Commons Korea, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Freepress, Free Software Foundation, Global Voices Advocacy, La Quadrature du Net, OpenMedia, ONG Derechos Digitales, and Public Knowledge, have written to strongly support Mr. Choi’s brave stand for his own citizens. His stand is based on thorough investigations of Korean Internet users’ experience of this law. We hope that his group’s reform will prevail, and that Korea will be freed of the dubious benefits and growing disadvantages of being the laboratory for this discredited experiment.

March 30, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , , , | Comments Off on Korean Lawmakers and Human Rights Experts Challenge Three Strikes Law

Obama’s loyalty speech


Al-Ahram | March 27, 2013

Obama’s visit to Israel and Jordan has brought joy to no one but the Israelis. The US president practically swore an oath of fealty to Israel, speaking not just as a friend and faithful ally, not as a head of state, but as a humble subordinate.

He waxed lyrical on Israel as a land of dreams, then advised the Palestinians to ignore the settlements being built on their land and issued stern warnings to Syria, Iran and Hizbullah.

So eager was Obama to court the Israelis that he suddenly started calling Netanyahu — the very man who supported his rival, Mitt Romney, in the elections — “Bibi”. Tensions between the US president and the Israeli prime minister seemed to evaporate as Obama wandered from one Biblical reference to another while praising Israel for its “shining future”.

Dressed in the colours of the Israeli flag, a blue tie over a white shirt, Obama spared the Israelis no compliment, saying that it was his honour to visit them on Israel’s 65th “independence day”.

“It is good to be in this land,” Obama said in Hebrew, before applauding Israel for being the land of kibbutz that made the desert bloom. His rhetoric was reminiscent of that of a century ago, when the promise of a “land without a people for a people without a land,” launched decades of Palestinian suffering.

Obama didn’t neglect to remind his listeners that he had introduced Passover as a White House celebration.

“After enjoying Seders [Passover] with family and friends in Chicago and on the campaign trail, I’m proud that I’ve now brought this tradition into the White House. I did so because I wanted my daughters to experience the Haggadah and the story at the centre of Passover that makes this time of year so powerful.”

After mentioning the long history of the Jewish people and their years in exile, the sad memories of the Jewish holocaust, Obama showered the Israelis with praise for their many successes.

Then, he lashed out at Iran. Iran’s nuclear programme, he said, is “not simply a challenge for Israel. It is a danger to the entire world, including the United States. A nuclear-armed Iran would raise the risk of nuclear terrorism. It would undermine the non-proliferation regime,” he stated.

Reiterating US commitment to Israeli security, Obama made a pledge: “The security of the Jewish people in Israel is so important. It cannot be taken for granted. But make no mistake. Those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere.”

The Israeli website Walla! pointed out that in his speech, the US president mentioned the word “Israel” 82 times and the word “Palestinian” only 21 times.

Obama also visited the tombs of Herzl and Rabin, then the Yad Vashaem Holocaust Memorial. But he declined to visit the tomb of Yasser Arafat. And he refused to meet the daughter of one of the political prisoners held in Israel’s detention camps.

The whole thing seemed as if the US president was telling the Palestinians and Arabs, “This is the land of the Jews; so go look for your land elsewhere!”

Now the writing is on the wall. Those who had taken the US president for a moderate should take note.

March 30, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments