Channel Four report-
Link to unedited clip in 3GP format -Warning, shows the execution of naked bound prisoners by military personnel-
A video clip received from Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) evidences the way extra-judicial killings are executed in the island. The video captured in January show the behaviour of Sri Lanka’s soldiers during the war that is claimed ‘humanitarian operation’ to rescue the Tamils, JDS reported Tuesday. The conversations of the killers are in Sinhala. “From the casual nature of the conversations and from the fact that it is taking place in an open area in broad daylight – it can be surmised that these are not ordinary acts by rogue elements carried out without the permission from the top leadership. The soldiers egging each other on, the insulting jokes and the laughter show that there is a consensus that these cold blooded killings should take place,” JDS further reported.
Meanwhile in the concentration camps Tamils fear the ‘Dolphin Vans’-
Displaced Tamil people are being daily abducted from camps in Vavuniya by people who come in vans, a displaced person told the BBC. Speaking with BBC Sandeshaya from a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Vavuniya, the IDP said all the displaced try to hide in their tents as the ‘Dolphin vans’ arrive in the camps. “We do not know what exactly happens as everybody hides as soon as they see the vans. But I know that two to three people are disappearing daily,” he said.
Some IDPs may also be secretly leaving the camps by paying the authorities, he said. “Some people have suddenly disappeared. I don’t know whether they were abducted or left with the help of the authorities.”
After Downing Street, by Ann Wright former US diplomat:- Less than a month ago, in late July, 2009, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire (http://www.peacepeople.com/) was travelling from Dublin, Ireland to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet Peace Laureate Jody Williams to participate in peace events there. As she arrived at Dulles airport near Washington, DC, from Ireland on July 30, 2009, she passed through the regular immigration line, but then was detained in a special processing area over two hours causing her to miss her connecting flight to Albuquerque.
This is the second time Maguire has been detained by US Immigration in the past three months. On May 14, 2009, she was detained at the Houston, Texas, International Airport as she was returning from a 3 day conference in Guatemala, hosted by four of Nobel Peace Women Laureates. During the detention in Houston, Immigration officers questioned her about her visit in April, 2007, to the Palestinian village of Bil’in where she was injured by a rubber-coated bullet shot by Israeli military forces during a protest at the fence built by the Israelis in the village.
In Houston, Maguire asked the Immigration officials what she could do to prevent future detention and was told to get a 10 year visa to the United States.
She immediately applied and obtained a 10 year visa in early July from US Consul in Belfast, Ireland. She presented that visa to the Dulles Airport Immigration official. Maguire had had an indefinite visa to the U.S. in a previous passport and had never had any problems travelling to or through the United States.
Three months later, when she told the U.S. Immigration Officer at Dulles airport that she was a Nobel Peace Laureate and showed him the documents concerning the Peace Laureate meeting she was attending in New Mexico, the Immigration Officer sarcastically said that detention “is going to happen every time you enter the United States,” and “you should get used to it.”
Maguire has been publicly outspoken and critical about Israeli treatment of Palestinians and has a long history of non-violent acts of civil disobedience against war and against nuclear weapons.
Not only was Maguire hit in 2007 by an Israeli military rubber-coated bullet and tear-gassed while participating in a protest against the construction of the Israeli fence dividing the Palestinian village of Bil’in, on June 30, 2009, the boat that Maguire and nineteen others were on in international waters off Gaza was boarded by Israeli military and all the passengers and crew were put in an Israeli prison for 7 days. Maguire was deported from Israel on July 7, as was fellow passenger, former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
Earlier, in 2004, as a part of her work against nuclear weapons, she travelled to Israel to meet Mordechai Vanunu as he left prison at the end of his 18 year sentence imposed for his revealing Israel’s nuclear program.
Because of her detention by U.S. Immigration on July 30, 2009, Maguire had to stay overnight in Washington, DC, at her own expense, as United Airlines said they were not responsible for her missing her flight. The next day, she ended up on a flight to New Mexico with 3 stops before getting to Albuquerque at 4pm, missing all the day’s events.
Maguire said that the harassment by U.S. Immigration began in 2009, after the change in U.S. Presidential administrations.
I wonder if the Secretary of State might wish to have discussions with the Secretary of Director of Immigration and Citizenship about how to treat Nobel Peace Laureates, unless, because of her outspoken criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, the treatment Maguire got on July 30, 2009 was exactly what the Obama administration wants her to have.
Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (albeit funded by both US & NATO govts) has reports of systematic fraud, the EU are more upbeat, try to be surprised. The one candidate Ramazan Bashardost, with some real credentials in representing the Afghan people against powerful and corrupt elite interests of course had no real chance in the elections run under the auspices of US/NATO, spreading democracy innit.
FEFA observed that throughout the country, many polling centers did not open on time, mainly due to factors such as last minute relocations of polling centers, last minute administrative and technical issues, and security concerns. FEFA observers reported cases of temporary and sometimes early closing of polling centers due to security incidents or disregard for established procedures by IEC field staff. Early in the day, FEFA received and shared with the IEC reports from fifteen provinces about malfunctioning punches—to mark used voter registration cards—in polling stations. IEC reacted during the morning hours with instructions to polling staff to use scissors to cut the edge of voter’s registration card. Questions about the durability of the indelible ink used to mark voters’ fingers caused concerns early in the day. Unlike the 2004 Presidential Elections, this time around there are reports that the ink reemerges after attempts to wash it off. Reports about improper interference by local IEC staff with the voting process were received throughout the day from many parts of the country. Questions about the impartiality of some IEC local staff constitute a trend that has persisted throughout the electoral process. Several anticipated patterns of fraud appear to have manifested in varying degrees. FEFA is assessing reports about these incidents.
Security Related Observations
Grenade and rocket attacks directed at polling and city centers emerged as a major form of disruption in many parts of the country. These attacks continued throughout the day. FEFA also received isolated reports of suicide bombings and gunfire in the vicinity of polling stations as well as reports of the manifestation of violent threats directed at the voters by the Taliban in several parts of the country.
Women Participation Related Observations
As had been predicted with concerns, female electoral staff appeared absent at many polling centers throughout the country. In parts of the country, FEFA observers reported incidents of male proxy voting for female voters. Fewer female polling stations opened than initially planned.
Preliminary FEFA impressions seem to indicate a lower voter turnout if compared to the 2004 Presidential Elections, in particular the female turnout. Voter turnout varied geographically within provinces and districts.
On the day before the elections, the government requested all domestic and international media to refrain from reporting on incidents of violence between 6 am and 8 pm on Election Day. Local media complied, whereas international media reported on security incidents throughout the day. Though FEFA sympathizes with the government’s argument that reports of security incidents might have discouraged people to vote, it notes that this limitation of media freedom is a violation of democratic principles.
The above general observations raise concerns about the quality of today’s elections, and about the impact of the reported incidents of violence—some gruesome. FEFA will continue to thoroughly assess field reports filed by its observers. FEFA takes this opportunity to reiterate its commitment to the transparency and fairness of the remaining phases of the 2009 elections. The electoral process is entering the critical phase of counting and verification of results. FEFA calls on key players to uphold the established rules of this process. FEFA’s final report on the 2009 Elections will be published after verified results of the elections are released.
This is a… sort of a…. best of taster, help get The Peter Serafinowicz Show released, details @ peterserafinowicz.com
BBC Radio 4 from last week-
And a short interview–
Were you prepared for the consequences of the speeches you made against the government?
In parliament, they couldn’t tolerate me because I told the truth. They turned off my microphone so I couldn’t talk, they insulted and threatened me. There are people saying even though they’ve expelled me from parliament, it’s not enough: ‘We must punish her with the Kalashnikov.’
How many assassination attempts have you survived?
From 2003 until now, five. Almost every night now, I move from one safe house to another and I have bodyguards but it’s still not safe.
Are you prepared to die for what you believe in?
Samad Behrangi, an Iranian writer, said: ‘Death could very easily come now, but I should not be the one to seek it. If I should meet it and that is inevitable, it would not matter. What matters is whether my living or dying has had any effect on the lives of others.’ My enemies are trying to eliminate me. I’m not the first – other democratic men and women in my country have been killed – but I believe no power is able to hide the truth.
Do you think the government is still corrupt?
We democrats have two options: one, to compromise with a warlord, drug-lord government, those who came into power after 9/11 with the mask of democracy. To compromise with people who are like Pinochet, Hitler, Khomeini… The second way is to tell the truth and not sit silent. It’s a mockery of democracy in Afghanistan. Your governments have replaced the fundamentalist rule of the Taliban with another fundamentalist regime who are responsible for killing, torture and repression.
Many people in Britain don’t know what the war is about. What do people in Afghanistan think it’s about?
People have always wanted to occupy Afghanistan because of its geopolitical location and also to have access to the valuable gas and oil of the Central Asian Republics.
Is life better for Afghans now than it was under the Taliban?
No, the situation is as bad as it was. Men and women of my country suffer from injustice, insecurity, joblessness, poverty, corruption. Eighteen million people in Afghanistan live on less than two dollars a day. We have ‘jungle law’. I have meetings with young girls and children who have been brutally raped.
There’s been outrage in Britain at each British soldier killed in the conflict. Should there be the same level of outrage for every Afghan civilian killed?
Of course. The blood of our people is shed like water. In May, in Farah province alone, more than 150 civilians were killed by air strikes, most of them women and children. Bombing doesn’t bring peace. Occupation forces are bombing and killing innocent civilians, and the Taliban are also terrorising and killing people.
What do you hope to see happen in Afghanistan’s future?
These criminals in government have no support among the hearts of our people. But we need democratic-minded people around the world to support us. All the British families who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan should raise their voice against injustice, and also against more of their taxes funding an occupation that keeps a gang of corrupt warlords in power in Kabul.
Are you hopeful about tomorrow’s elections?
The election is a showcase of the US government. We have a famous saying that it’s not important who is voting, it’s important who is counting. The next president of Afghanistan will be selected behind the closed doors of the White House.
(ht2 Derrick O’Keefe)
Gareth Porter for IPS reports-
Afghanistan’s presidential election has long been viewed by U.S. officials as a key to conferring legitimacy on the Afghan government, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his powerful warlord allies have planned to commit large-scale electoral fraud that could have the opposite effect.
Like millions of Afghans, I have no hope in the results of this week’s election. In a country ruled by warlords, occupation forces, Taliban insurgency, drug money and guns, no one can expect a legitimate or fair vote.
Among the people on the street, a common sentiment is, ‘Everything has already been decided by the U.S. and NATO, and the real winner has already been picked by the White House and Pentagon.’ Although there are a total of 41 candidates running for president, the vast majority of them are well known faces responsible for the current disastrous situation in Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai has cemented alliances with brutal warlords and fundamentalists in order to maintain his position. Although our Constitution forbids war criminals from running for office, he has named two notorious militia commanders as his vice-presidential running mates – Qasim Fahim, who was, at the time of the 2001 invasion, the warlord who headed up the Northern Alliance, and Karim Khalili. The election commission did not reject them or a number of others accused of many crimes, and so the list of candidates also includes former Russian puppets and a former Taliban commander.
Karzai has also continued to absolutely betray the women of Afghanistan. Even after massive international outcry and brave protesters taking to the streets of Kabul, Karzai has implemented the infamous law targeting Shia women. He had initially promised to review the most egregious clauses, but in the end it was passed with few amendments, leaving the barbaric anti-women statements untouched. As Human Rights Watch recently said, “Karzai has made an unthinkable deal to sell Afghan women out in return for the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election.”
Deals have been made with countless fundamentalists in Karzai’s maneuvering to stay in power. For example, pro-Iranian extremist Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, who has been accused of war crimes, has been promised five cabinet positions for his party, and so he has told the media he’s backing Karzai. A deal has even been done with the dreaded warlord Rashid Dostum – who has returned from exile in Turkey to campaign for Karzai – and many other such terrorists. Rather than democracy, what we have in Afghanistan today are back room deals amongst discredited warlords.
The two main contenders to Karzai’s continued rule, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah, do not offer any change; both are former cabinet ministers in this discredited regime and neither has a real, broad footing amongst the people. Abdullah has run a high profile campaign, in part due to the backing and financial support he receives from Iran’s fundamentalist regime. Abdullah and some of the Northern Alliance commanders supporting him have threatened unrest if he loses the vote, raising fears of a return to the rampant violence and killing that marked the civil war years of 1992 to 1996. All of the major candidates’ speeches and policies are very similar. They make the same sweet-sounding promises, but we are not fooled. Afghans remember how Karzai abandoned his campaign pledges after winning the 2004 vote.
We Afghans know that this election will change nothing and it is only part of a show of democracy put on by and for the West, to legitimize its future puppet in Afghanistan. It seems we are doomed to see the continuation of this failed, mafia-like corrupt government for another term.
The people of Afghanistan are fed up with the rampant corruption of Karzai’s “narco-state” government – his own brother, Wali Karzai, has been linked to drug trafficking in Kandahar Province – and the escalating war waged by NATO. In May of this year, U.S. air strikes killed approximately 150 civilians in my native province, Farah. More than ever, Afghans are faced with powerful internal enemies – fundamentalist warlords and their Taliban brothers-in-creed – and the external enemies occupying the country.
Democracy will never come to Afghanistan through the barrel of a gun, or from the cluster bombs dropped by foreign forces. The struggle will be long and difficult, but the values of real democracy, human rights and women’s rights will only be won by the Afghan people themselves.
So do not be fooled by this façade of democracy. Your governments in the West that claim to be bringing democracy to Afghanistan ignore public opinion in their own countries, where growing numbers are against the war. President Obama in particular needs to understand that the change Afghans believe in does not include more troops and a ramped up war.
If the populations of Afghanistan and the NATO countries were able to vote on this military occupation it could not continue indefinitely, and peace would finally be within reach.