Sunday, September 30, 2012

Obama Administration's double standards with terrorism

How serious is Obama administration about terrorism? It has lately delisted a notorious murderous terrorist group - MEK (Mujahideen-E-Khalq) that has been responsible for killing more than 12,000 Iranians. I guess, once again the Obama administration has proven its double standards. It can talk about how terrible and horrendous terrorism is and then goes on killing innocent civilians, including children, who have nothing to do with terrorism with its drone attacks in Asia and Africa. Is there a name for such activities? It must be freedom in Obama's lexicon, but rest of the world calls it double standards!

Here is a link from the Washington Post on the delisting of MEK by the Obama administration.

Living under the drones - Civilian Casualties inside Pakistan

Here is a good link to find information about civilian casualties of U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan. As I mentioned in my article analyzing President Obama's speech at the 67th General Assembly of the UN, more civilians, esp. children have died of such drone attacks than Taliban suicide attacks. 

Click here to read an analysis on this subject by a joint team of academics from Stanford University and NYU.

Netanyahu’s ‘Bibi-bomb’ Hoax



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (a.k.a. Bibi) Netanyahu is known for exploiting visual aids to maximize the impact of his message. Last Thursday during his speech to the UN General Assembly he asked, “How much enriched uranium do you need for a bomb? And how close is Iran to getting it? Well, let me show you. I brought a diagram.’’ Then he showed what has since been called the Bibi-bomb, and proceeded to use a marker to draw a red line across what he said was a threshold that Iran was approaching and that Israel could not tolerate — 90 percent of the way to the uranium enrichment needed to make a nuclear weapon.

The talk was all part of a well-prepared and over-played theatric, and as we have come to expect from the master of lies and deception, it was all lies. Netanyahu claimed that Iran’s nuclear program was very close to producing uranium enriched to the level of 70 percent purity, and that to build a bomb, it would have to convert that uranium to above 90 percent, which would only take less than a year, even as early as by early Spring next year.

Netanyahu’s claims twist well-known scientific facts and distort Iran’s current capabilities, let alone the intention. Uranium has to be enriched way beyond 90% (typically above 95%) to make a nuclear bomb. More importantly, as the latest IAEA report, released on August 30, shows Iran’s enrichment of uranium (LEU) remains at 19.75% (below 20%), and nowhere close to the false claims made by Netanyahu. The report also said that while Iran has more than doubled the number of centrifuges at the underground facility at Fordow, from 1,064 centrifuges in May to 2,140 centrifuges in August, the number of operating centrifuges had not increased. The report said that since 2010 Iran had produced about 190 kg of 20%-enriched uranium, up from 145 kg in May. The report also noted that Iran had converted approx. half of the 20%-enriched uranium to an oxide form and fabricated into fuel for use in research reactors, and that once this conversion and fabrication have taken place, the fuel cannot be readily enriched to weapon-grade purity. [Note: If Iran intended to make bomb, why would it convert LEU to the oxide form?]

The IAEA Director General’s report “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of  Security Council resolutions in the  Islamic Republic of Iran” to the Board of Governors also said, “Since Iran began enriching uranium at its declared facilities, it has produced at those facilities approximately:  6876 kg (+679 kg since the previous report) of UF6 enriched up to 5% U-235; 189.4 kg (+43.8 kg since the previous report) of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235.”

So, where is Netanyahu getting his information from about Iran’s enrichment program reaching close to 70% that no one else seems to know? Is he trying to deceive the world community the same way he did back in 2002? It is worth pointing out that Netanyahu’s comments on Iraq in 2002 were almost verbatim what he is now saying about Iran. Fooled us once, shame on you -- Netanyahu; don’t try to fool us twice!

As noted by Prof. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, an expert on Iran, Netanyahu has been predicting an Iranian nuclear bomb since 1992 (a time when Iran had no nuclear program at all), and he has been wrong for more than a decade. Even his own ministers and other Israeli officials have said publicly that Iran has not decided to go for a nuclear weapon. The IAEA inspectors have not found anything to remotely suggest that Iran is developing a bomb. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei has given more than one formal religious edict stating unequivocally that making and stockpiling nuclear weapons are absolutely haram or forbidden under Islamic law. “Netanyahu is in a position similar to that of someone who wants to argue that Pope Benedict XVI secretly has a condom factory operating in the Vatican,” noted Prof. Cole.

There is absolutely no way that Iran can make a nuclear bomb under IAEA’s watchful eyes. And no country has ever developed a nuclear weapon under active inspection by the UN. [Note: both India and Pakistan, like Israel, developed bombs as non-signatories to the NPT.]

So, what drives the Israeli leaders like Netanyahu to twist facts deliberately? The reason behind Israel’s false allegations against Iran has much to do with its strategy towards cutting off support base for the Palestinian cause. Under the pretext of disarming Iraq of the never-to-be-found WMD, Iraq has already been decimated and Saddam Hossein removed, and now if Iran can be destroyed similarly, Israeli leaders surmise that there won’t be any serious advocate for the Palestinian cause left behind.

What the sly and disingenuous Israeli leaders won’t publicly tell us is that they have no desire to let Palestinians ever attain statehood. That is why, in spite of objections from the world community, they continue to build settlements after settlements in the West Bank, violating several UN Resolutions. Under the pretext of conducting negotiation, their policy is to drag the process as long as it takes so as to truncate the Palestinian Territory with hundreds of illegal settlements thus making a Palestinian state impossible to even imagine. Stateless and without citizenship rights, the Palestinian people would then have to embrace the tragic fate of the forgotten Rohingyas of Myanmar. And that would be the end of the Palestinian dream for statehood.

But Israel can’t do the job of destruction alone without a powerful backer. It is there it needs its greatest benefactor – the USA. According to Prof. Cole, “Israel’s policy has long been to use its close relationship with the United States to domesticate or destroy any country in the region that gives hope to the Palestinians that they might one day get their own state. Now, Iran is more or less the last man standing.”

Already, a highly demeaning ad to dehumanize the Palestinian cause (and insult Muslims) has been posted in some of the major cities (e.g., San Francisco, New York) by a pro-Israeli, Islamophobic hate-group – American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). The ad reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.” The AFDI is run jointly by Islamophobes Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, and is funded by some powerful Jewish and 'Israel-first' Christian financiers.

I am, however, not surprised by such Goebbels-style propaganda tactics. After all, a slave learns from its master! And surely, Pam and Bibi have learned the trade quite well.

But can such hatemongering against Iran and fear-mongering against Palestinians hoodwink our social-media savvy generation from seeing and hearing what are so obvious?

In his speech, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas shattered all the myths to be propagated a few minutes later from the same UN podium by Netanyahu. He said that the Palestinian people are facing ethnic cleansing. He said, During the past months, attacks by terrorist militias of Israeli settlers have become a daily reality, with at least 535 attacks perpetrated since the beginning of this year. We are facing relentless waves of attacks against our people, our mosques, churches and monasteries, and our homes and schools; they are unleashing their venom against our trees, fields, crops and properties, and our people have become fixed targets for acts of killing and abuse with the complete collusion of the occupying forces and the Israeli Government.”

Is this how Netanyahu is protecting “the rights of all our citizens: men and women, Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians - all are equal before the law?” Oh, I forgot, Palestinians are not citizens, so, as ‘stateless’ people, they don’t apply here!

Abbas’s statement below clearly challenges Netanyahu’s claim about equality before Israeli law: “The escalation of settler attacks should not surprise anyone, for it is the inherent byproduct of the continuation of occupation and a government policy that deliberately fosters the settlements and settlers and deems their satisfaction to be an absolute priority. And, it is the inherent byproduct of the racist climate fueled by a culture of incitement in the Israeli curriculum and extremist declarations, which are rife with hatred and are rooted in a series of discriminatory laws created and enacted over the years against the Palestinian people, as well as by the security apparatus and courts, which provide excuse after excuse for the settlers' crimes and for their accelerated release should one of them happen to be arrested, and by official and military commissions of inquiry, which fabricate justifications for soldiers who have committed what are clearly considered to be war crimes and perpetrated acts of murder, torture and abuse of peaceful civilians.”

In his speech, Netanyahu bloated about Israel’s compassionate nature. But the reality is quite opposite. Abbas complained of Israeli policy, “It is a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes and prevention of their construction; the revocation of residency rights; the denial of basic services, especially with regard to construction of school; the closure of institutions; and the impoverishment of Jerusalem's community via a siege of walls and checkpoints that are choking the City and preventing millions of Palestinians from freely accessing its mosques, churches, schools, hospitals and markets.” He continued, "At the same time, the occupying Power continues to tighten the siege and impose severe restrictions on movement, preventing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) from implementing vital infrastructure projects and providing services to its citizens, who are also being prevented from cultivating their land and deprived of water for irrigation. It is also obstructing the establishment of agricultural, industrial, tourism and housing projects by the private sector in vast areas of the Occupied Palestinian Authority, which are classified as areas subject to the absolute control of the occupation, which encompasses approximately 60% of the West Bank. The occupying Power continues to deliberately demolish what the PNA is building, projects funded by donor brethren and friends, and destroying PNA projects involving the building of roads, simple homes for its citizens and agricultural facilities. In fact, over the past 12 months, the Israeli occupying forces demolished 510 Palestinian structures in these areas and displaced 770 Palestinians from their homes. These illegal measures have caused great damage to our economy and impeded our development programs and private sector activity, compounding the socio-economic difficulties being endured by our people under occupation, a fact confirmed by international institutions.”

Need I go any further to show Netanyahu’s pyramid of lies?

So, Mr. Netanyahu, if you are for freedom, then tear down the walls of occupation and settlements and let the Palestinian people live free within the pre-1967 border. That is the least you could do to show your real worth. The road to Palestinian statehood does not require endless, marathon sessions but only the sincere intent. Do you have that?

And by the way, Mr. Netanyahu, before you lecture about intolerance of radical Muslims, you should have said (as so brilliantly coined by Justin Raymond of the antiwar.com), “Militant Judaism has many branches, from the Washington offices of AIPAC to the center of Jewish power in Tel Aviv – but they’re all rooted in the same soil of intolerance.” That would have been more appropriate.

It is really disheartening to witness how the war criminals and liars like Netanyahu are trying not only to whitewash their monumental crimes against the Palestinian people whose lands they have illegally occupied but also have the audacity to behave like the jury, judge and executioner to eliminate their innocent victims.

Contrary to Netanyahu’s claims, today the great battle is being waged between the forces of justice and injustice, between the forces of freedom and occupation, between truth and falsehood. And surely, falsehood cannot win, not for too long -- any way. Israeli leaders cannot win in this battle to win the mind of people. They are bound to be defeated.  


Friday, September 28, 2012

Obama’s Speech at the U.N. General Assembly - Long on Sound Bytes



With all the foreign dignitaries attending the 67th Regular Session of the U.N. General Assembly, for the last few days, New York is busier than ever. This year, with all those rumors spread by the pro-Israeli politicians, lobby groups and media outlets as to how close Iran’s nuclear program is to making an atom bomb and how the Jewish state is in ‘existential danger’ from the alleged weapons program unless a redline is drawn, naturally all the eyes of the international observers have been fixed on the leaders of these two countries plus President Obama, who has been the Zionist state’s greatest benefactor.

The first of these major speakers in this year’s session was the U.S. President Obama who delivered his speech starting with a eulogy paid to Mr. Chris Stevens, the slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya on September 25. Mr. Stevens was killed in Benghazi by armed rebels, alleged to be either aligned with pro-Ghaddafy forces or pro-al-Qaeda forces who are at war with the U.S. government, esp. in the aftermath of drone attacks that killed their leaders. There is little controversy that Mr. Stevens will be greatly missed by the freedom loving people of Libya. As I have noted elsewhere, had it not been for the immensely offensive, hurtful and mendacious movie/video, made in the USA by anti-Muslim Christian zealots and bigots, and the Obama administration’s failure to  rein upon those cyber-terrorists who insult billion plus Muslims, Mr. Stevens would have probably remained alive. The rebels/extremists simply took advantage of the opportunity (to square off with the U.S. government by attacking its consulate), offered by the hateful movie, which had led to demonstrations in front of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

However, Obama’s categorization that the attacks in Benghazi that killed the diplomat were “attacks on America” is rather problematic. He promised, “There should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.”  
Is President Obama threatening to start the next phase of the War of Civilizations? I pray and hope that he is not that insane. He ought to know that the first phase of the war, which started with Bush administration’s illegal invasion and savage attacks of Afghanistan and then Iraq have not benefitted the USA an iota outside toppling two regimes (one of which – Iraq - had nothing to do with 9/11). The US economy has since been in shambles with humongous deficits, and is yet to recover to its pre-war days of boom in spite of infusions of trillions of dollars from the federal government. More importantly, more American soldiers have died in these wars, already dubbed the longest wars in American history, than all those Americans who died in 9/11. As the last U.S. Secretary of Defense Gates said in one of his farewell speeches, anyone suggesting a new war needs to have his/her head examined! I hope Obama is not unaware of this dire warning!

Obama equated the sporadic demonstrations of the last couple of weeks in the Muslim world that were staged in front of the U.S. Embassies with “an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded -- the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully; that diplomacy can take the place of war...” That statement belies the truth about how the USA has often used violence and not negotiations to settle world problems, much in contrast to those UN ideals. Lest we forget, the Taliban offer to discuss OBL’s alleged involvement with 9/11 was simply ignored by the Bush administration. The latter preferred war over peace and did not give diplomacy any time to resolve the differences.

Obama said that “freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture.  These are not simply American values or Western values -- they are universal values.” True. However, for decades it was the USA and many of her European partners (former colonial masters) which worked towards denying such universal values to billions of people on our earth. The reason that the hundreds of millions of Muslims in the Middle East did not have freedom and self-determination was precisely because of western meddling and kowtowing with murderous dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. Even to this date, western governments collude with the murderous state of Israel to deny such rights and values to the Palestinian people.  Thus, when Obama quotes Nelson Mandela who once said, "To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others," whom is he trying to impress or fool?

Let President Obama prove the application of this quotation with respect to the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people. What has the Obama administration and Netanyahu government done during their tenures in office to respect and enhance the freedom of the Palestinian people? Obama won’t be able to cite a single example of progress. Worse still, it is his administration that even lobbied hard in the UN to deny the Palestinian statehood. One truly has to have a big mouth and a long tongue to tell all those lies and create false impressions!

In his speech, Obama said, “True democracy … depends on the freedom of citizens to speak their minds and assemble without fear, and on the rule of law and due process that guarantees the rights of all people.” He went on to say, “Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.” And yet, in much contrast to such words, his administration had no qualms about justifying murdering an American citizen whose views were considered a ‘threat’ to national security. Why could not Anwar al-Awlaki be tried in open courts, if he had committed treason against the state? Who’s making a mockery of ‘true’ democracy, Mr. President?

As to the libelous and insulting anti-Muslim movie, Obama said, “United States government had nothing to do with this video...” No, Mr. Obama, you cannot go on safeguarding religious intolerance and hateful videos in your state under the pretext of preserving the First Amendment and saying that the US government had nothing to do with such evils. By protecting cyber terrorists (who abuse such ‘rights’ freely), you are deemed a party to the crime of offending more than a billion Muslims. If you want to stop that perception you have to bring those offenders (that threaten the lives of too many) to justice. If your and other western governments want an incentive, here is one: if denying the Jewish Holocaust is unacceptable and people can go to prison and fined heftily (in parts of Europe) for simply questioning it, what stops the western governments in banning religiously libelous materials that provoke and endanger the lives of so many innocent people? You simply cannot hide behind the First Amendment when it suits you. Please, be consistent. No one is charmed by such selective applications of freedom of expression: kill al-Awlaki when his free speech was deemed dangerous and hide behind the First Amendment when Muslims are victims of some of the worst forms of intolerance and bigotry that are produced, marketed and promoted in the USA. Find out who financed such massive hate projects. If you do, don’t be surprised to discover some of the evil planners of the civilizational wars with connections in high places.

Nor should we forget that the Iranian President Dr. Ahmadinejad (admired by many for his sharp intelligence and a scientific mind) is held in contempt for being a doubting Thomas, questioning the Jewish Holocaust, and consequently, the Iranian nation is savagely punished.

The extremists are on all sides, and not just a Muslim problem. The western government’s indifference to the hatred spewed by extremist Judeo-Christians and secular fundamentalists breed extremism on the Muslim side. If the extremist Muslims are to be defeated, the root cause of their rage has to be addressed.

Contrary to Obama’s assertion, Muslim leaders have been preaching against extremism, but their efforts are often torpedoed when western governments promote and/or reward anti-Muslim hatred.

Obama’s apparently consolatory words for the Muslim victims of suicide bombing also show his appalling hypocrisy. After coming to power, his drone attacks have killed more innocent children in vast territories of the Muslim world from Pakistan to Yemen than those killed by Afghan suicide bombers. I am not aware that he has ever shed tears or apologized for such horrendous crimes against unarmed civilians.

In his maiden speech delivered at the UN three years ago President Obama mentioned that the United States would continue to seek a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, and the Arab world, and reiterated that America did not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years, his administration, mindful of getting reelected in 2012, has not done anything to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, he has become the greatest benefactor to the rogue state with horrendous records on human rights. And worse still, his administration’s priorities in the international affairs have shifted to witch-hunting around Iran’s supposed nuclear bomb-making, more like what Bush Jr. did with Saddam Hossein’s never-to-be-found WMD. What the Mossad says is taken as the whole truth; no questions are asked or challenged to test their hypothesis! As a result of such a mortgage of ideas and wits at the altar of racist Zionism, the Obama administration pushes Israel’s agenda through the IAEA and other UN agencies, including the UNSC. Criminal and totally uncalled for sanctions are imposed to punish Iran’s people for their refusal to bow down to American and Israeli hegemony in the region.

Lost in this debate is the mere fact that Israel had not signed the NPT and is known to possess at least 200 nuclear bombs. Why a murderous robber, who does not live by the international laws, rules and agreements, should be allowed to dictate what his victims could keep at home? Who gives him that right? Would not our world be better served by disarming this known murderous robber/criminal? Should not this be the priority for the powerful nuclear Brahmins of our time?  

While the nuclear watchdog IAEA has failed to provide any proof that Iran’s program has shifted to nuclear weapons, lies after lies about Dr. Ahmadinejad’s so-called intention to destroy the Zionist state are given credence while the hard facts about the Iran’s nuclear program for peaceful purpose are doubted. In this mendacious campaign to create the support base for bombing, Iran - a signatory to the NPT - is treated as a pariah by Israel and her partners-in-crime, the nuclear Brahmins! It’s like pre-Iraq invasion propaganda campaign alive and kicking once again.

Obama said, “The path to security and prosperity does not lie outside the boundaries of international law and respect for human rights.” The sad fact is: the USA and her European friends have virtually made a mockery of this very notion. They have handsomely rewarded the rogue Jewish state, and continue to do so with many other regimes including Myanmar that had violated dozens of international laws and human rights.

In a nutshell, President Obama’s speech is long with hypocritical sound bytes but short on facts. As the president of the most powerful nation on earth, he can afford to speak with a forked tongue and lecture the world about universal values, but in this age of social media and the Internet, most people are not fooled by such hollow words when they see double standards in their application. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Obama's hypocritical speech on freedom of expression at the UN

President Obama has been hypocritical like many other western leaders when it comes to freedom of expression. Not too long ago, he authorized the killing of American citizen of Yemini descent Anwar al-Awlaki for his speeches were considered a threat to the security of the USA. Al-Awlaki was neither tried for his alleged threats to the national security nor was he captured, which if Obama wanted could have been easily done by his CIA and/or the Navy Seal guys. [The same goes true for the killing of OBL. In order to justify his killing without any encountering any resistance, in the beginning the White House tried to falsely claim that OBL was armed and as such killed in the Abbottabad raid when he had brought out his gun. As the newly released book for Navy Seal show he was virtually harmless when killed in his apartment.]

Lest we forget, Obama's government made every effort to shut down the WikiLeaks. It also  tried to get Assange punished on false allegations and charges. What was the crime of WikiLeaks founder on this 'feedom' of expression to educate us all about what goes on inside the diplomatic world? One could actually argue that by releasing such memos WikiLeaks has made our world more peaceful, and less violent.

Again, the fine line drawn was the so-called national security to justify violating such freedoms of expression by parties that are considered 'enemies' of the state. Not only did the Obama administration try to stop such views, it actually killed some practitioners of that right to free speech without any trial.

So, when Obama and his freedom-junkies talk about how 'disgusted' they are about the offensive anti-Islamic video/film in the USA and still uphold rights to such offensive 'freedom' of speech that had killed his own Ambassador to Libya, what the Muslim world sees is clear hypocrisy on such matters, and nothing else. And no one is fooled by such hypocritical speeches of a violator like Obama when they suit him. He can't simply have it both ways - protecting abusers and killing others. If he keeps on being hypocritical, as I said, sadly, Chris Stevens won't be the only casualty in this mess! Some nutty ones will get real crazy and do the things they do even though we abhor such. That is the law of physics!

Every nation, including the so-called liberal democracies, for its own selfish interest has always created such red lines between do's and don'ts in freedom of expression. Why can't they impose the same formula for anti-Islamic carricatures, movies, books, videos, songs, etc. when it comes to depicting the Prophet of Islam? Why can't they learn a thing or two on mutual respect and tolerance from the Muslim world on such matters? Can they show a single example when Muslims have made such offensive images or published demeaning books about founders of other religions to incite violence? No, they won't be able to cite a single one. Instead, what the Muslim world finds is that such abusers and provocateurs are rewarded heftily for their anti-Islamic works.

Let President Obama and his ilk answer: why Holocaust denial is a crime in many of the western countries and any one making a statement to challenge the official policy on this matter faces long prison terms and fines? Whom are these freedom-thugs fooling?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands?


On September 14, the Japan Times in its editorial wrote: "The government on Tuesday moved forward to nationalize three of the five islets that compose the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. It signed a ¥2.05 billion contract with the owner of the three islets — Uotsuri, Kita Kojima and Minami Kojima — and decided to use ¥2.05 billion out of the fiscal 2012 budget's reserve fund."


Under ordinary circumstances, such a sales contract should not have raised anyone’s eyebrows. But the problem is Senkaku is a disputed territory which is equally claimed by China. The Chinese call the territory:  Diaoyu Islands and not Senkaku. (Such naming conventions by opposing parties are, however, nothing new, and there are tons of such examples in our world.) Separately, Taiwan also claims the islands.
“The Diaoyu Islands are an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Chinese government and its people will absolutely make no concession on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” declared Premier Wen Jiabao at an inauguration ceremony for statues of late Chinese leaders Zhou Enlai and Chen Yi at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing would not “sit back and watch its territorial sovereignty violated.” “China strongly urges Japan to immediately stop all action to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty and return to a negotiated settlement to the dispute. If Japan insists on going its own way, it will bear all the serious consequences that follow,” the ministry said in a statement.
Opposing views to the Chinese claims claim came from Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura who said that the decision to nationalize the islands was “to maintain the Senkakus peacefully and stably.” Fujimura repeated that the islands are part of Japan’s territory and should not cause any friction with other countries or regions. “We certainly do not wish the issue to affect our diplomatic relations with China and it is important to avoid any misunderstanding or an unexpected event,” he said.
In its Q&A page, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan stated, Since then [1885], the Senkaku Islands have continuously remained as an integral part of the Nansei Shoto which are the territory of Japan. These islands were neither part of the island of Formosa nor part of the Pescadores Islands which were ceded to Japan from the Qing Dynasty of China in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty of Shimonoseki which came into effect in May of 1895. Accordingly, the Senkaku Islands are not included in the territory which Japan renounced under Article 2 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The Senkaku Islands have been placed under the administration of the United States of America as part of the Nansei Shoto Islands, in accordance with Article 3 of the said treaty, and are included in the area for which the administrative rights were reverted to Japan in accordance with the Agreement between Japan and the United States of America Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands signed in 1971.” It further stated, “It is only since the 1970s that the Government of China and the Taiwanese Authorities began making their own assertions on territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, which constitute Japan's inherent territory (See reference). Until then, they had never expressed any objections, including to the fact that the Islands were included in the area over which the United States exercised the administrative rights in accordance with Article 3 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty.”
Xinhua, the official press agency of the People's Republic of China, came up with the official version contesting the Japanese claim and stated on Sept. 18: "Japan's arrogance and provocation regarding the Diaoyu Islands is in line with its complex formed over one century ago, when it proclaimed superiority over China and Asia. The two countries became rivals over the last 500 years, with Japan catching up with and defeating China in the late 19th century. Even its defeat in World War II could not break its sense of superiority, as Japan considered China's victory to be a present from the United States and the Soviet Union, turning a blind eye to the Chinese people's heroic resistance... The present China is not the same as the China of years past. Japan should face the situation, drop its obsolete sense of superiority and take a constructive attitude to solve disputes."

Three uninhabited islets, measuring a few square kilometers, comprising eight rocks altogether, and located halfway between the Japanese island of Okinawa to the north and Taiwan to the south, no one took notice of the Senkaku Islands until oil was discovered in its vicinity. They are close to strategically important shipping lanes, and offer rich fishing grounds. 
And now with the competing claims, anti-Japanese protests are continuing across China. Hundreds of Japanese firms closed their businesses, as Chinese demonstrators took to the streets to mark the anniversary of the start of Japan's 14-year occupation of northern China in 1931. And there were plenty of reminders suggesting that the Senkakus are but one element in a good deal of unfinished business between China and Japan.
While there have been no reports of violence against Japanese citizens in China, some expatriates voiced concern about their safety, and many stayed at home on the advice of their employers and the Japanese government. If the tension worsens, it is possible that Japanese companies may consider withdrawing their business from China. It is worth noting that China is Japan's single biggest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth a record $345 billion last year.
As I write, there are reports that a flotilla of 10 Chinese surveillance ships has been spotted near the disputed Senkaku Islands, keeping political tensions high. Since Tuesday, a total of 16 Chinese official surveillance ships, 10 marine surveillance vessels and six fisheries surveillance ships, have entered Japanese territorial waters off the islands.

In the middle of the tug of the war is the USA, which under the Okinawa reversion deal has returned the islands to Japan in 1971. Which side will it take in this regional dispute?

On Thursday, China's state-controlled newspaper Global Times, stated, "Japan is nothing but a puppet of the U.S. From a strategic point of view, its territorial dispute with China does not mean much to the U.S." It added that Japan is only one of several "strategic tools" used by the U.S. to confine China's rise. The real worry for Washington, said the newspaper, is that "once there's a strategic confrontation between China and itself, it won't be able to bear the consequences." The Chinese government does not believe Washington will abide by the 1951 Japan-U.S. mutual security treaty and go to Tokyo's assistance in the event of a war between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands.

I, however, beg to differ. I believe if the dispute ends in a war, in the initial stage although the USA may not take a side (simply because its long term strategic objectives are better served through mutual weakening of both the parties to the dispute through conventional warfare), as the war drags on the USA will take the side of Japan.

Suffice it to say that our world is becoming increasingly confrontational with soaring energy demands and dwindling resources, where the big powers -- possessing sophisticated killing machines – are dictating the outcome, let alone the discourse, on any such contentious matters. So, as with Kashmir for India, and Tibet and Uighur territories for China, and Arakan for Myanmar - each of these dominating groups, behaving like imperial overlords, control the narratives rather than the very people who live there to decide the outcome. Unless, of course, the country is Sudan or Indonesia!

However, Japan is no pushover, and for China to assume that it is would be utterly insane.

In disputed territories, my preference would be to let the very people who live there to decide their fate as to which side to take, or, if necessary, to maintain a separate identity on its own right. Unfortunately, on such matters, there is no difference in government policies between democratic India and non-democratic China; none of these rising powers wants to settle such problems through a plebiscite in the disputed territories to let the affected people decide their own fate.

Territorial disputes are further complicated when a territory is uninhabited, and more so when it is tied up with oil and gas reserves.

In a recent commentary, Jonathan Manthorpe of the Vancouver Sun opined that both Japan and China are going through leadership contests and inevitably, both countries will have revised imperatives next year, but the bold outline of the picture will not change. Ultimately, the dispute will be a test of wills between Japan and China; and may end up in testing the strength of Washington's dedication to its defense alliance with Tokyo.

Here are my two cents on the dispute! The claims of Japan on Senkaku Islands seem to make more sense than those of China, esp. given the fact that the owners of the islands have now sold these to Japan. I, therefore, hope that sanity will prevail and China will relinquish her claims on the disputed territory.  China’s economic interests are better served that way than a violent confrontation with Japan. For her to sustain the upward trajectory in economic growth, she must resist all imperial temptations.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kuala Lumpur Conference on Rohingyas of Myanmar


An international conference entitled:  "Plight of The Rohingya: Solutions?" was held at Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 17 September 2012. You can view and listen to the keynote address of PGPF President, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, by clicking here.

The PGPF (Perdana Global Peace Foundation) took a first but resolute step in the arduous journey towards global peace, moves towards the single goal of putting an end to war. Its founder, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, envisages "a serious, active and sustained struggle against war and for peace". Sharing and supporting this agenda are world-prominent professionals, intellectuals, authors, statesmen -- all passionate advocates of international peace. Together, they have signed the Kuala Lumpur Initiative that defines the Kuala Lumpur Initiative to Criminalize War. You can view its video by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Australian ABC TV coverage from Arakan state of Burma

A recent report from ABC TV channel of Australia provides some glimpses from inside the Arakan state of Burma. It shows the highly discriminatory attitude of the Myanmar govt. and its aid agencies when it comes to distribution of aid to the victims. Not a single piece of aid was delivered from the government agencies to the Rohingya internally displaced people while there seems no shortage of food and medicine for the Rakhine Maghs. While the Rohingyas are put in detention camps, away from their towns, where they suffer from cholera and other chronic health crises, the Rakhines are allowed to dwell in their homes intact and untouched by the violence and Buddhist monasteries made of brick and cement. What a difference in Buddhist run Myanmar when it comes to treatment of minorities!

My letter to U.S. Senators and Congressmen from the state of Pennsylvania on Suu Kyi's visit to the USA

Dear Congressman/Senator,
I was rather surprised to learn of the decision of the U.S. Congress to bestow its highest honor - the Congressional Medal of Honor to Suu Kyi of Myanmar. Through her silence and equivocation during the latest Rohingya crisis she has proven that she does not deserve such an honor, and that she is not a serious partner for either human rights or democracy. She remains a fanatic and racist Burman Buddhist, very similar to the very regime that she complained about while in house arrest. 

In its entire history, racism and bigotry have defined, and sadly, continue to define Myanmar and there is no place for non-Buddhists in that Buddhist majority country of 56 million people today. 

The so-called reform movement inside Myanmar, initiated by Thein Sein, remains all a part of a very calculated gimmick to lift official bans against Myanmar, which requires hard cash to get out of being the poorest country in the ASEAN. Suu Kyi was released by the civilian-dressed military regime so that she could work as its emissary. And that is what Suu Kyi has been doing to promote Myanmarism - an explosive cocktail of ultra-nationalism and Buddhist religious fanaticism. In this new Myanmarism, there is no place for people of other races, ethnic backgrounds and religions. 

No, Myanmar does not deserve any benefit from our nation.  Minorities like the Rohingya have been declared stateless, courtesy of a racist law - Burma Citizenship Law of 1982. As a result of this national project towards ethnic cleansing, half the 4 million Rohingyas have been pushed out of the country since 1962 who  now live as unwanted refugees in places like Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and UAE. And this in spite of the fact that they were one of the early inhabitants of the land of Arakan since time immemorial, predating Burmese or Tibeto-Burman influx to the soil of Arakan. The other half lives in the living hell inside Myanmar with no right of movement, education, health, safety, employment, property, marriage, religion, etc. The government does not honor any of the 30 rights of the UNDHR when it comes to the Rohingya and other persecuted minorities. It still holds on to the 1982 Citizenship Law and nullifies citizenship of millions simply because they are not Buddhists. It forces slave labor and even kills anyone suspected of being Rohingya. It is no accident that per UN and international agencies, the Rohingyas are considered the worst persecuted people on earth. 

And yet, Suu Kyi is fine with such a marginalization of the Rohingya. What a shameful attitude for someone to be honored with a Nobel Prize for Peace, and now this Congressional Medal of Honor! These awards are becoming jokes like putting a pearl necklace on a swine!

Dear sir, as a result of government cover-ups, we may never know how many Rohingyas were killed during the latest pogrom that started in June of this year by a joint coordinated force of Buddhist mob and security forces. As a result, there is hardly a Rohingya town or village that is intact. They have been destroyed beyond recognition and look like as if they are bomb-ravaged places after a war. Not a single Rohingya place of worship is open; they are mostly burned down and demolished. The Rohingya-owned stores were looted and later gutted to fire. Their homes were burned to ashes, and their paddy fields set on fire - forcing more than 200,000 internally displaced Rohingyas to live without any shelter or roof over their head. Not a single government aid came to them. Worse yet, the local Buddhist Rakhines (including racist monks) obstructed the sale of food and other necessities to these Rohingya victims. 

And yet, the so-called Democracy Icon - Suu Kyi shamelessly did not utter a single word of condemnation against such gross violations of human rights. She is okay with such a savage 1982 law - formed during the dictator Ne Win's era - that nullified citizenship of millions of Rohingya people simply because they are non-Buddhists. Simply put, she is a Buddhist fanatic. She has been sent by the regime to soften the US attitude. 

I would like to urge the U.S. Congress  not to lift  its ban on any trade and commerce with Myanmar until a fundamental change takes place positively impacting the lives of those Rohingya and other minorities, guaranteeing their citizenship as equals and rights and privileges restored and secured. If Suu Kyi is serious about Myanmar's future, let her behave like a leader that shuns racism and bigotry advocating for a change with the 1982 Citizenship Law, thus ensuring rights of the Rohingya people. She can't promote trade with Myanmar when it is still locked up in its savage past of racism and bigotry. For the U.S. to fall for such a gimmick would be utterly foolish!

Regards,
Habib Siddiqui

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Response from the Coca Cola company on questionable investment in Myanmar

After waiting for more than two weeks, someone from the Coca Cola Company responded with the letter below:


Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company, Dr. Siddiqui. 
As a consumer-oriented Company, your feedback is extremely important to us, and you may be assured that your comments have been shared appropriately.
If you have additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact us again.
Demond
Industry and Consumer Affairs
The Coca-Cola Company
Please use the record number below should you have additional questions.
{ticketno:[8001795433]}

=========================
Now that my comments, originally addressed to the chairman of Coca Cola, are 'assured' of being shared "appropriately", let's see if Coca Cola Company would have the inner wisdom to rethink the matter of investment seriously and eventually decide not to invest in a country where racism and bigotry are official norms. 

More on the anti-Muslim video

Soon after publication of my article "They Just Don't Get It!" in the Eurasia Review, a commentator Durand-Even asked: "Of course right minded people will condemn these film makers. Is the writer suggesting that someone in country A doing something evil or offensive entitles people in other countries to kill or injure third parties who have nothing to do with the offenders. What kind of a civilisation is that?"

Here is my response:

What Mr. Durand-Even has failed to understand is the central theme of the above article -  freedom is not free; there is a price the society pays for some people's evil. We can't expect all to behave rationally. What may be considered First Amendment in the USA and western world could well be looked upon as a tool of abuse, racism, bigotry and intolerance in other parts of the world. They don't have to live by our rule. There may be some, a very tiny group of Timoth McVeighs, who may take up arms to blow up and undo what they feel was wrong. That is how emotionally charged up they can become. To assume that everyone would behave rationally even in the face of serious abuse is insanity; it is not wisdom by any account.

As we know when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked by armed rebels, there were other Libyans who fought back and tried to protect and save the life of the diplomats. [See the CNN report from the Consulate Office in Benghazi, shown at 10:33 a.m. EST, USA] No one within the Muslim world is condoning the untimely death of the brilliant diplomat Chris Stevens who was well liked by most Libyans. He simply became an unnecessary casualty of hatred that was sparked by the cyber-terrorist Nakoula and his anti-Muslim crusaders. Without his video release to offend the 1.6 billion Muslims, this tragedy surely could have been avoided. And that is the message I was trying to convey.

There is no denying that a very tiny group of zealots has been trying to bring about a civilization war with the world of Islam. Many in the  mainstream politics (esp. within the Republican Party) are sadly part of that evil plan. They have not given up on their imperial dream or fantasy to secure America (and by default the Judeo-Christian West) as the uncontested hyper power for the 21st century. Thus, when these 'freedom terrorists' create the ground for such anti-Muslim and anti-Islam hatred through their hate speeches, books, movies, etc., the funding source and support almost always can be traced back to those evil politicians. As we have noticed with Nazi-era Germany for hatred against an ethnic or religious community to become part of a national agenda, it requires meticulous planning that is concocted over a long period of time with overt or covert support of many actors within a society to prepare that fertile ground for extermination. The intolerance and hatred spewed by many of the politicians in the post-9/11 era has given the necessary boost to pen-pushing anti-Muslim zealots/terrorists to act as Julius Streichers of America.

So, what I was suggesting in my article was that a red line has to be drawn that ensures that freedom of expression is not abused by the likes of Nakoula who only want to start the war of civilizations. These guys are no better than terrorists. And mind that President Obama had no moral qualms about killing al-Awlaki for he considered the views expressed by the American-born Imam of Yemeni parents unacceptable. Did Obama make a mistake in his decision? If not, why a separate formula when it comes to Nakoula? Why protect him when his crime has already led to the death of at least 9 people across the world, including Ambassador Chris?

The bottom line is: we can't have it both ways! It is high time to find a solution to such abuses that are hurled against a major religion whose adherents comprise nearly a quarter of our human race today. The so-called freedom of expression cannot be used as a justification for offending an entire religious community. Funny that when requested Google declined to pull out the offensive video from the YouTube. However, when it came to the topless pictures of the British princess, the same Google had no problem pulling such personal pictures out from its YouTube. What a double standard! It would be stupid to imagine that the Muslim world is unaware of the case; and there are plenty I could cite to show the despicable hypocrisy on such matters.

Finally, to answer Mr. Durand-Even, the offensive movie was made in the USA by a Coptic American, Nakoula, who lives in California. The USA is protecting him under the pretext of the First Amendment. The offended party, which is the entire Muslim world, finds him guilty. So, the comment made by Mr. Durand-Even fails to capture the reality of the entire episode.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

They Don’t Get It!



There is a Farsi couplet:
Ba Khuda deewana basho
Ba Muhammad hoshyaar
(Meaning: Play madly with God if you wish, but be careful with Muhammad.)
The Muslim world from Senegal to Indonesia is angry over the release of an anti-Muslim film in the YouTube ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad (S). There were protests in at least 23 nations. In the volatile Middle East the angry demonstrators attacked the U.S. embassies in the region. Demonstrators in Iraq chanted, “We are ready to sacrifice ourselves for our Prophet.” In Lebanon, a crowd set fire to a KFC and a Hardee's restaurant in the port city of Tripoli, 50 miles (85 kilometers) north of Beirut, sparking clashes with police. Police then opened fire, killing one of the attackers. In Benghazi (Libya) the attackers killed the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and 3 embassy officials.

The reaction of many Americans to the protests in the Muslim world is utter bewilderment mixed with anger. They feel that those Muslims are ungrateful to the US for delivering them out of tyranny of the likes of Zine bin Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Muammar al-Gaddhafi of Libya. Last Thursday (September 13, 2012) the front page heading in the USA Today read – ‘We hate America’: The USA helped liberate them from the dictators. Now Americans are the enemy once again. The Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was heard saying, “Many Americans are asking – indeed, I asked myself – how could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?”

The fact is: outside the case of Libya, the response of the Obama Administration towards the Arab Springs has been lukewarm at best. While thousands of Syrians continue to be killed by Bashar al-Assad’s murderous Nusayri forces the U.S. government has not done anything meaningful to support the rebels. Truly, if it had cared and imposed only a fraction of the biting sanctions that it helped to impose on Iran – at the behest of the rogue state of Israel -- through the U.N., the Syrian tyrant would have been gone long time ago.

For decades, the successive U.S. governments since the days of President Reagan have been Hosni Mubarak’s greatest benefactor. Even the very tear-gas canisters fired by Mubarak's security forces on the Egyptian crowd demanding democracy in the Tahrir Square had the "made in USA" logos. In 2009, the U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton declared, "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family." President Obama supported the Egyptian dictator up until the very last minute when his downfall became inevitable. As noted in the New York Times, dated February 7, 2011, the Obama administration’s plan was to engineer the ascension of the much hated, loyalist, torturer Omar Suleiman as Mubarak's replacement in the name of "stability".

Thus, when some of the U.S. media depict Egyptian anger towards the U.S. as "ironic" on the ground that it was the U.S. that had freed them and "allowed" them democracy, they must be suffering from selective amnesia.

But more appalling is the utter failure of the U.S. media to educate their audience that words have consequences. People can die for venoms unleashed in the Internet. And they should have known this fact since the publication of the offensive books and films like The Satanic Verses and Submission, respectively.

Muslims take their religion very seriously. To them Muhammad (S), the Prophet of Islam, is not just an ordinary person who got revelation from God, but simply the best of His creation. They don’t utter his name without reciting the salutation - sallal-lahu alayhi wa sallam (meaning: blessings of Allah and peace be upon him). The Muslim testimony of faith “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” is uttered five times daily during the call of prayer (adhan) from the minarets of masajid (mosques) urging Muslims to come and pray to Allah. A Muslim also ends his/her prayer with a supplication to Allah seeking blessing and bounties for the Prophet and his family the same way He had blessed the family of Abraham (Ibrahim alayhis salam). In the Qur’an, the Muslim Holy Scripture, Allah Himself testifies about Muhammad’s (S) perfection of character as a human being. He is the Insan al-Kamil who had combined the characteristics of the Prophets Moses and Jesus (AS). He is the most praised one both in this world and the Hereafter.

After analyzing Prophet Muhammad's (S) life, British Orientalist Stanley Lane-Poole said, "He was the most faithful protector, the sweetest and most agreeable in conversation. Those who saw him were suddenly filled with reverence, those who came near him loved him; they who described him would say, ‘I have never seen his like either before or after.’ "

Truly, in the annals of human history, no Prophet was as much adored by his followers as Muhammad (S) was. In his poem below, Hassan ibn Thabit (R), a contemporary of the Prophet, captured this sentiment as to how the Companions felt about Muhammad (S):
By God, no woman has conceived and given birth
To one like the Apostle, the Prophet and guide of his people;
Nor has God created among his creatures
One more faithful to his sojourner or his promise
Than he who was the source of light,
Blessed in his deeds, just and upright.
(Sirat Rasulallah by Muhammad Ibn Ishaq)

It is out of this profound sense of love and reverence that Muslims don’t draw any picture of their Prophet (S), which could lead to deification that is absolutely prohibited in Islam.

So, when someone writes highly offensive words and depicts Muhammad (S) in ways that are ludicrous and historically inaccurate it is not difficult to understand that the sentiment of 1.6 billion Muslims is hurt; they feel violated in the worst possible way. They see their faith denigrated by these savages, the cyber terrorists and pen-pushing hate mongers. They are naturally furious with America, which under the pretext of First Amendment right to free expression, protects these hatemongering terrorists that hurt the feelings of Muslims. They feel betrayed when they see that some of these offenders/terrorists, responsible for the death of innocent human beings, are even knighted and rewarded by western governments and institutions. They also see obvious hypocrisy when President Obama had no problem authorizing assassination of American born Anwar al-Awlaki for he considered the latter’s freedom of speech a threat to national security.

As to the identity of the latest culprits pushing for a civilization war between the worlds of Islam and Judeo-Christianity, we are told by the Associated Press journalist Gillian Flaccus, the highly offensive and inflammatory video was made by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian who lives in California. It has been promoted by a Christian evangelist Steve Klein whose unabashed and outspoken hatred of Islam has made him a contemptible hate monger. Klein, a Vietnam War veteran, is a failed real estate investor who now works with his wife as  an insurance agent and lives in San Jacinto Mountains about 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles. “Klein founded Courageous Christians United, which conducts protests outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques, and started Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, which preaches against Muslims and publishes volumes of anti-Muslim propaganda that Klein distributes. He also has helped train paramilitary militias at the church of Kaweah near Three Rivers, about an hour southeast of Fresno, to prepare for what they believe is a coming holy war with Muslim sleeper cells, according to the law center. His anti-Muslim activities indirectly led him to his affiliation with Nakoula, an Egyptian Christian living outside Los Angeles, who contacted him about making an anti-Muslim movie.”

To heighten the animosity with the Muslim world, Nakoula – who used many pseudonyms including the name Sam Bacile - falsely identified himself as an Israeli Jew and claimed that his produced movie was financed by Jewish money. We are also told that even the actors were duped in this nasty scheme; they did not know that it was a hate movie to denigrate Islam and its Prophet (S).

As I mentioned in my book – Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah: an exposition of his life for inquisitive western readers - (available from Amazon.com) – anti-Islamic polemics is not new and dates back at least to the 7th century C.E. Karen Armstrong tells us that during the Crusades “... biographies of Mohammed by Christians describe the Prophet's sex life in a manner that reveals far more about their own sexual problems than about the facts of the Prophet's life.” Thomas Carlyle (d. 1881) said, “The lies which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man are disgraceful to ourselves only."

And if the past is any barometer to predict the future, the anti-Islamic polemics and hatred will continue to grow for quite some time. Not to be forgotten in this context is the wide support such narratives enjoy amongst many mainstream Christian politicians – the likes of Bachmann, Palin, Gingrich and Giuliani.

I won’t, therefore, be surprised if we later learn that Nakoula’s movie was funded by some of the same Judeo-Christian villains who have been trying to bring about the war of civilizations since at least 9/11.  To them, Bush Jr. has left the war unfinished.

Mindful of the violent reaction to the video, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland emphasized during a briefing for reporters, “The U.S. government has nothing to do with this video.” But that should not be an excuse not to prosecute Nakoula who had triggered the embassy attacks. The western governments must understand that freedom of expression is not free and need not be a vehicle to promote hatred and start civilization wars.

As Patrick Buchanan recently noted, “There are hundreds of millions of Muslims for whom their faith is their most priceless possession. They live it. They will die for it. And not a few will kill for it. Others will seize upon real or imagined insults to that faith to excite the crowds to expel us from their world. And some Americans will accommodate them by using books, films, and videos to manifest their contempt of Islam.”

So we have an irreconcilable conflict unless a red line is drawn, which does not allow the likes of Nakoula, Klein, Terry Jones and Robert Spencer to poison our world under the pretext of the First Amendment. They are no better than other terrorists and should be treated as such if we are serious about avoiding a civilization war. Otherwise, Chris Stevens won’t be the only casualty!



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another unnecessary death in Guantanamo Bay Prison

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni talented poet and devout Muslim, died last week in the Guantanamo Bay Prison. He had been cleared for release under George W. Bush (in December 2006) and under Barack Obama (as a result of the Guantánamo Review Task Force’s deliberations in 2009). His habeas corpus petition had been granted, but, disgracefully, he had not been freed.

As recently noted by investigative journalist, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert, and author of  the bookThe Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press) - Andy Worthington, "Instead of being released, Adnan Latif was failed by all three branches of the U.S. government. Obama was content to allow him to rot in Guantánamo, having announced a moratorium on releasing any Yemenis from Guantánamo after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian recruited in Yemen, tried and failed to blow up a plane in December 2009. That ban, which had been put in place largely because of pressure from Congress, was still in place when Latif died. Also to blame are the D.C. Circuit Court and the Supreme Court. Latif’s habeas corpus petition had been granted in July 2010, but then the D.C. Circuit Court moved the goalposts, ordering the lower-court judges to give the government’s supposed evidence — however obviously inadequate — the presumption of accuracy. Latif’s case came before the D.C. Circuit Court in October 2011. Two of the three judges — Janice Rogers Brown and Karen LeCraft Henderson — reversed his successful habeas petition. Only Judge David Tatel dissented, noting that there was no reason for his colleagues to assume that the government’s intelligence report about Latif, made at the time of his capture, was accurate, as it had been “produced in the fog of war, by a clandestine method that we know almost nothing about.”... Despite that, when the Supreme Court had the opportunity to take back control of the Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas petitions in June this year, through a number of appeals, including one by Latif, they refused."

Worthington writes, "We may never find out exactly what happened to Adnan Latif. On September 8, he was “found unresponsive in his cell” in Camp 5 “and could not be revived,” as the authorities explained in a statement. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service will conduct an inquiry, but it may be inconclusive. To my mind, he was worn out by Guantánamo — so worn out that he died of despair and exhaustion — and those who are to blame are Barack Obama, his advisors, and Judges Janice Rogers Brown and Karen LeCraft Henderson."

In the Washington Post  David Remes said, “Latif’s death is a tragedy and could have been avoided. This is a man who never should have been brought to Guantánamo. He was fragile physically and psychologically and cried out for treatment.” 

Worthington's wrote, "I hope that Adnan Latif’s death will not have been in vain and that it will lead to renewed pressure on Obama to release the prisoners at Guantánamo who, like Latif, were told — some as long ago as 2004 — that they would be leaving Guantánamo, but who are still held. Otherwise there will be more deaths, more disgrace, and more of the very real sense that the men at Guantánamo are, as George W. Bush intended nearly eight years ago, a subspecies of human being without any rights whatsoever." 

I agree with him wholeheartedly. When our government fails to release victims like Adnan Latif it not only makes a mockery of the Habeas Corpus but also reveals our nation's despicable hypocrisy. We simply can't talk about the things we cherish but we need to walk the talks for all to see that we are serious about those values.