Tuesday, May 3, 2016

State terrorism in Ethiopia

On April 15, 2016, the Ethiopian Federal High Court acquitted two men, Yoantan Wolde and Bahiru Degu, who spent more than 600 days incarcerated on terrorism charges that critics allege were politically motivated. Zelalem Workagenehu, a third man, was not so lucky. He was convicted and will be sentenced on May 10. (On April 26, the public prosecutor submitted a sentence aggravation statement to the court, and Zelalem was asked to file a sentence mitigation letter on his part.) Zelalem is a human rights advocate and a scholar who regularly contributed to the diaspora-run website DeBirhan.
All three were accused under Ethiopia's Anti-Terror Proclamation, which was adopted in July 2009. State officials defend the law, saying it is modeled on existing legislation in countries such as the United Kingdom.
Yonatan Wolde and Bahiru Degu were released after spending 647 days—almost two years—in prison, demonstrating a disturbing trend in Ethiopia where prisoners of conscience are locked away for long periods without a trial.
Bahiru Degu, who attended his former co-defendant's trial last week, struggles the most among the three men. He told the court he experienced extensive torture during the first three months of his detention:
I was forced to get naked and was regularly beaten. Due to the severity of the beating, I was unable to control my bowels [sic]. I was forced to drink my own urine.
To read their story, click here.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The battle over the use of the 'R' word

Rohingyas  are the indigenous people of Arakan who live in the western part of the Buddhist majority country of Myanmar. They are the worst persecuted people in our time as a result of their religion and race. The fascist Buddhists are denying the rights of the Rohingya to self-identify themselves, which is a clear sign of what others have called the 'slow genocide'. They are opposed to the use of the 'R' word by anyone, including the US government. 
Hundreds of people gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma, on Thursday with a simple demand: The United States must stop using the word "Rohingya." 
Here is a good article analyzing the issue. 

Left for Dead

In recent years, democratic reforms have swept through Myanmar, a country that for decades was ruled by a military junta. As the reforms took hold, however, things were growing progressively worse for the Rohingya, the most persecuted ethnic Muslim minority in the world who are concentrated in the country's western state of Rakhine.
The 2012 alleged gang rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by three Muslim men ignited violent riots in which hundreds were killed as Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya attacked each other. In the following months, tens of thousands of Rohingya were rounded up and forced to live in squalid camps; Human Rights Watch deemed the attacks crimes against humanity that amounted to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. Thousands of Rohingya have since attempted to leave the country, fueling the region's intricate and brutal human trafficking network.
VICE News traveled to Myanmar to investigate the violence and discrimination faced by the country's Muslim minority. You can view the trailer by clicking here.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Egyptian cleric defends CIA agent convicted over his rendition

Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, who is known as Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric who was kidnapped in Milan by the CIA in 2003 has come to the defence of a former CIA officer convicted for her alleged role in his extraordinary rendition. He told the Guardian in a telephone interview that he believed Sabrina De Sousa, who faces imminent extradition to Italy, was a scapegoat and ought to be pardoned by Italy’s head of state, Sergio Mattarella. De Sousa, a 60-year-old dual American and Portuguese citizen, faces a four-year prison sentence and is due to be extradited from Portugal on 4 May.
“Sabrina and the others who were convicted are scapegoats. The US administration sacrificed them. All of those higher up in the hierarchy are enjoying their immunity,” he said. “These people higher up, without doubt they should be convicted in this case. They should face trial.”
The remarks mark an extraordinary turn of events in a story that has vexed the US and Italian governments since Abu Omar’s case became public in 2005, exposing in great detail the inner workings of a highly classified and controversial Bush-era counter-terrorism programme. The case also exposed US allies’ help in conducting the secret programme. Abu Omar’s views on De Sousa were first reported by ADNKronos, a wire agency.
De Sousa said in response to the Abu Omar comments that she appreciated his remarks about her family.
De Sousa has said she knows the US government actively lobbied Italy’s president, Mattarella, to pardon two CIA officials who were shown leniency late last year, even though they never served time in Italy.“Abu Omar also recognises that my imprisonment will not result in real accountability for what he went through in Egypt,” she said.
The former CIA officer’s predicament comes at an exceedingly tricky moment for the Italian government.
You can read the full text of the news by clicking here.

Emperor has no clothes

The justification for the Iraq was a false one. It was full of lies, manufactured by the Bush-Cheney administration, which was bolstered by other war criminals like Tony Blair of the UK. In a Senate Hearing speech on October, 2003, summed up the case eloquently: "This entire adventure in Iraq has been based on propaganda and manipulation. Eighty-seven billion dollars is too much to pay for the continuation of a war based on falsehoods. The Emperor has no clothes."

This phrase owes it to Sufi wisdom. Here is the background below.

Based on Sufi wisdom, Hans Christian Andersen tells the tale in his "The Emperor's New Clothes", the story this expression derives from.

There existed an emperor who loved wearing fine clothes and spent all of his people's money on them. He had a different set for each hour and was, without doubt, the finest dressed man in the land.

One day, two swindlers claiming to be weavers entered the Emporer's city and proclaimed they were capable of making the finest, lightest, most magnificent cloth the world has ever seen. So extraordinary was this cloth, it was invisible to anyone who was incompetent or stupid.

Hearing of the weaver's amazing "talent", the foolish Emporer thought he could use such cloth to weed out undesirables in his city. He paid the swindlers an enormous sum & they set out to "create" the clothes; knowing they would only need go through the motions.

The Emperor sent several advisors to guage their progress and all the advisors reported the cloth magnificent, not wanting to appear unworthy for seeing nothing at all; the cloth didn't exist!

Finally the clothes were "finished", the swindlers already having counted the gold and jewels they had received. A procession was arranged to show off the Emporer's new clothes and the entire city gathered in the center to view them. Having been "dressed" by the swinglers, who remarked how wonderful he looked, and how light the cloth appeared on him, he appeared before his people.

The people, having heard of the weaver's abilities and the cloth's fictious properties, were amazed and offered thunderous applause to the now beaming Emperor. None of them were willing to admit that they hadn't seen a thing; for if anyone did, then he was either stupid or unfit for the job he held. Never before had the emperor's clothes been such a success.

While expressing admiration at their Emporer's new "invisible" clothes, a small boy cried out... "But the Emperor has no clothes!"

Bombing of Hospitals in War-torn Places

Death is almost never welcome. And it is simply unacceptable to find out that someone had died in a hospital not because of his or her illness but because of bombing sustained by the facility. 

It is a major crime to attack a hospital. Unfortunately, that is what has been happening in war ravaged territories from Afghanistan to Israel

Last year, the US forces bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan that was managed by MSF (Doctors Without Borders). The hospital was well known to everyone, esp. the US and NATO forces. It was catering to the needs of the sick and wounded in the locality. And yet, it was bombed by the US forces killing not only the patients there but also many of the hospital stuffs, including doctors and nurses.

This week, the US military while disciplining some of its rogue members failed to acknowledge their war crime only saying that it was a mistake. Pentagon officials say that 16 personnel, including one general, will face “administrative discipline” for their role in the October 3, 2015 US attack on a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital on the outskirts of Kunduz, an attack which killed 42 civilians. There will be no criminal charges for anyone involved.

As rightly noted by Jason Ditz, despite U.S. officials presenting this as “punishment,” the actions are overwhelmingly a slap on the wrist, with officials saying six of the 16 were sent for counseling, two were ordered to take new training courses, one was temporarily suspended and seven were issued “letters of reprimand.” The letters of reprimand are the most severe of the mild actions, with officials saying it means those seven will likely not be able to secure promotion to higher ranks, suggesting that might end some of their careers.

MSF has been harshly critical of the attack, noting it amounts to a war crime, and has been pressing for an independent, international investigation. President Obama has ruled out allowing such a probe, though the release of the final report is likely to spur more such calls.

The USA and NATO forces have done such war crimes many times not only in Afghanistan but also in other war ravaged countries, e.g., Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. Of course, every time they committed such war crimes they had a face-saving excuse that it was an ‘unintentional’ mistake.

Even the big, clearly marked and visible signs painted on the roof of such buildings did not stop them from getting bombed. And the sad part of all these is that such crimes are happening in an era of unprecedented advances in science and technology when we are told that the satellites can recognize the face of an individual riding in a car, let alone walking on a busy street! What a mockery of ‘smart’ bombing and precision-guided missiles and rockets. The bare fact is the lives of those civilians simply did never and don’t matter to these war criminals. They know that no matter how horrendous their war crimes are they will not be punished harshly. Their big bosses in places like the Pentagon and Kremlin have tacitly, if not explicitly, approved such war crimes. Just as it happened last week with those 16 U.S. military personnel the most they will get is a slap on the wrist.

It won’t be any exaggeration to state that the Government of Israel has perfected the art of war crimes. As an apartheid state, it has no respect for the lives of the indigenous Palestinian people living under occupation, once again underscored by its murderous campaigns in Gaza. Saudi Arabia’s Air Force, in its war against the Houthis in Yemen, has also been following the Israeli lead in such war crimes, which have resulted in deaths of scores of patients in hospitals.

This past week once again saw an airstrike hitting and destroying a major hospital in the al-Qaeda-held eastern portion of the city of Aleppo in Syria, killing at least 27 civilians. The hospital was run by the MSF. The war crime was perpetrated by the air forces of the Syria and Russia who have been doing everything possible to strengthen Bashar al-Assad’s criminal regime.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy for Syria, issued a statement Thursday, accusing attack on a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Aleppo of being deliberate

The White House declared the attack on the MSF hospital “abhorrent” and “immoral,” while Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Russia is obliged to do everything in its power to ensure that the Syrian government stops attacking medical facilities. As expected, the official US outrage was somewhat tempered by its own attack on an MSF hospital in Afghanistan last October, which killed even more civilians, and which the Pentagon declined to court-martial anyone over. It is a fat chance that the criminals in Damascus and Moscow will take such criticisms seriously.

Will the victims' families ever see justice in such war crimes? Probably not with the criminals ruling our world these days!

Suicide girls of Boko Haram

Suicide is haram or forbidden in Islam. And yet, the new Khawarij, the deviants/heretics from Islam are employing this deadly tactics to kill innocent people and others that they consider enemies. No group has perfected this technique more than the Boko Haram in West Africa, esp. in Nigeria. It is estimated that the group has killed some 27,000 people in the last 7 years.

Often times the extremist group has used young girls to carry out their suicide mission. In March, two girls killed more than 20 people in a mosque at the edge of Maiduguri. Just a few days later, a girl blew herself up in front of a military patrol while a second girl tried to run away, but was shot. There were at least 89 such attacks in 2015, the majority of them carried out by women. In the Dikwa refugee camp in February, two more girls killed more than 70 people.

Here is an article to understand the Suicide Bombing Girls of Boko Haram.