Every Cloud

Hedge funds have made large profits from Greek debt and providing insurance to overexposed European banks, it emerged on Sunday.

France signalled that private banks were likely to help in any rescue plan for Athens.

The hedge funds have been successful as traders anticipated that over-exposed European banks would drive a wave of selling against Greece, industry insiders told the Financial Times.

“There are a group of funds, perhaps three or four, that have played this as a huge sovereign basis trade, and made a lot,” said a strategist at one of London’s biggest hedge funds.

But as we know the wonder of the financiers is they can make money from a crisis, thus the Greeks will be safe knowing they will be ok as the hedge funds will use these profits to ensure human welfare…Oh no wait, the other thing, fuck the people over completely so they can buy themselves a third yacht. I knew it was one of the two!

Friday! The Bible (1966) film trailer

Wherein we learn Hollywood marketing, film ‘criticism’ and religion make a heady brew of AWESOME! I challenge you not to laugh, also only 4 out of 10 in the US accept the theory of evolution and they say Avatar was successful, it’s got nothing on this ‘Bible’ franchise!

Surging On

(AFP) – The United States plans a major offensive this year in the Taliban bastion of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, a senior official said Friday, calling a hard-fought ongoing operation a mere prelude. The remarks were the latest sign that President Barack Obama’s administration plans to step up the fight against the Taliban as part of its strategy of pouring thousands more troops into Afghanistan.


Kabul – The United Nations said Wednesday that 346 children were killed in Afghanistan last year, more than half of them by NATO forces, mostly in airstrikes. “In 2009, 346 children were killed,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, the special representative of the UN secretary general for children and armed conflict, said in Kabul after a seven-day visit the country. She said 131 children were killed in airstrikes, while 22 were killed in nighttime raids by international special forces. Taliban militants were responsible for the deaths of 128 children last year, with seven of the children used by militants as suicide bombers, she said. In 38 cases, it was not possible to determine who had killed the children. More than 2,400 civilians were killed last year, the deadliest for Afghan civilians since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001, according to the UN.

Coomaraswamy said she met with NATO commander in Afghanistan US General Stanley McChrystal, who assured her that troops “will work with the UN to ensure better protection for children.” But she noted that “recent events in the past months are cause of concern.” About 50 civilians have been killed since the NATO forces began their biggest-ever operation in the southern province of Helmand nearly two weeks ago. At least 27 of the casualties were caused by a NATO airstrike, and 12 others were killed by NATO rockets. McChrystal said he has put protecting civilians at centre of his war strategy and has ordered the 113,000 international troops to limit the use of airstrikes. Attacks by Taliban on schools reached their highest level in 2009, with more than 600 incidents recorded, Coomaraswamy said.

Posted in Afghanistan, Imperialism. Tags: . Comments Off on Surging On

MI5 Cover Up Continues To Crumble

“[The record of security service officials] regrettably, but inevitably, must raise the question of whether any statement in the certificates on an issue concerning such treatment can be relied on … Not only is there an obvious reason for distrusting any UK government assurance based on SyS [security service] advice and information, because of previous ‘form’, but the Foreign Office and the SyS have an interest in the suppression of such information.”

Original unredacted judgement

Read the rest of this entry »

Support The Troops- Support Joe Glenton

I got a press release today from some video sharing site called winkball (hmmm) which announced Gordon Brown was the latest ‘celeb’ to video a message of support ‘faces for the Forces campaign aims to collect a million messages of support for the troops serving in Afghanistan‘ there was also a list of celebs who had already done this, winkball also proclaim with a Union Jack ‘Made in Britain’, I can’t wait for their videos supporting UK oil exploration in Las Malvinas… Anyway this is some mischievous PR for war, it is not for example campaigning for better pay and conditions, or for lifelong aftercare for people who are tricked into killing by military training and then left to rot when the inevitable consequences of that play out over the rest of their lives. If you want to support a soldier who is both brave and takes his moral obligations seriously support Joe Glenton who will face a court martial on Friday the 5th of March-

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton was locked up in a military prison since 9th November until his release on the 9th December because of his stand against the war in Afghanistan.

At the last hearing Joe gave an undertaking: Not to contact any media agency directly or indirectly. If contacted directly or indirectly, must decline to comment, other than to say he may not by order of the Court Martial Not to appear at or lend support to any political meeting.

Joe gave this undertaking as since being locked up he has been diagnosed as suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He needs to be able to get proper treatment as it is evident that the Army have clearly not shown Joe a duty of care. It is therefore up to Joe to seek treatment for his PTSD if he is to be fit enough to face his Court Martial. Despite his request for treatment he has never been given any help from the Army.

The Ministry of Defence are worried about what Joe is saying and doing.They are determined to shut him up. The messages of support that Joe received when he was in Colchester Military jail inspired him and did not go unnoticed by the powers that be.

It is not possible for the court to stop other speaking out in favour of Joe’s stand against the war. Joe has made his position clear: The war in Afghanistan is illegal the methods employed in conducting the war are unlawful and he is not prepared to return to fight it. It is up to his supporters, which are many, to keep up the pressure and ensure that Joe’s stand against this war is raised as an important part of the resistance to Brown and his warmongers.

While Stop The War have called for a demo outside the court-


I believe some useful action could be taken by writing to the Judge Advocate General regarding Joe and his case and telling them you support his stand and support a military that actually is as it professes to be- allows soldiers to refuse unlawful, unjust or immoral orders. This is the essence of a military that cannot be used for massive politically directed war crimes, following orders regardless is what allows any and all of the historic genocides, a democracy should not need mindlessly obedient troops, that is the characteristic of a tyranny. Do not fall for the military discipline red herring, this is not about the need for structure and effective action, this is about judging the serious issue of a war of aggression and soldiers being able to refuse to follow such orders thus starving political war criminals of the means to prosecute illegal wars. So, write a message and send a copy to each of the following addresses (you can also copy the message to the support address for Joe defendjoeglenton@gmail.com)-

The Office of the Judge Advocate General
9th Floor
Thomas More Building
London WC2A 2LL

The Military Court Service
Building 59
Trenchard Lines
Wilts SN9 6BE

Secretary of State for Defence Bob Ainsworth
Floor 5, Main Building,
Whitehall, London,
Email or Email

Write what you like, here are some ideas, mine is in comments-

War Resistors– I am very concerned about the arrest of Lance Corporal Joe Glenton on charges of “disobeying a lawful order” for speaking at an anti-war demonstration and to the media, expressing his opposition to the war in Afghanistan.

The human rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of expression are protected both under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and under the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which have been ratified by the United Kingdom. When speaking at an anti-war demonstration in London on 24 October, and to the media, Joe Glenton made use of his right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression.

The restrictions of these rights as enshrined in the UK Armed Forces Act 2008 are in violation of both, the ICCPR and the ECHR, in as much as they are not “necessary in a democratic society”. In expressing his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, Joe Glenton did not reveal “operational secrets” or any other sensitive information – he expressed his personal political opinion, which is his protected human right. Not Joe Glenton’s actions were unlawful, but the orders given to him.

I therefore call on you to drop all charges against Joe Glenton, and to immediately release him from prison. I urge you to respect human rights.
Lance/Corporal, Royal Logistics Corps.

Joe’s letter to Gordon Brown-

I am writing to you as a serving soldier in the British Army to express my views and concerns on the current conflict in Afghanistan.

It is my primary concern that the courage and tenacity of my fellow soldiers has become a tool of American foreign policy.

I believe this unethical short-changing of such proud men and women has caused immeasurable suffering not only to families of British service personnel who have been killed and injured, but also to the noble people of Afghanistan.

I have seen qualities in the Afghan people which have also been for so long apparent and admired in the British soldier. Qualities of robustness, humour, utter determination and unwillingness to take a step backwards.

However, it is these qualities, on both sides, which I fear will continue to cause a state of attrition. These will only lead to more heartbreak within both our societies.

I am not a general nor am I a politician and I cannot claim any mastery of strategy. However, I am a soldier who has served in Afghanistan, which has given me some small insight.

I believe that when British military personnel submit themselves to the service of the nation and put their bodies into harm’s way, the government that sends them into battle is obliged to ensure that the cause is just and right, i.e. for the protection of life and liberty.

The war in Afghanistan is not reducing the terrorist risk, far from improving Afghan lives it is bringing death and devastation to their country. Britain has no business there.

I do not believe that our cause in Afghanistan is just or right. I implore you, Sir, to bring our soldiers home.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Glenton

Gangster- Cameron & Murdoch’s Rat Fucker Coulson

The reason that this story is not a big as it deserves to be is because of gangsterism, that is Coulson is a bully, he and/or Cameron and/or Murdoch will have a great deal of dirt on very powerful people, Coulson works for a man who might become PM, he did work for Rupert Murdoch. This dirt is capital in power games, people who might report on this will be made aware of the dirt these rich scumbags have on them and will stay silent rather than have Coulson, Cameron, Murdoch’s media ruin them or leak it to police (who have also cooperated in protecting the principals of this spying and blackmail operation probably both because it hides their failings and also the operation will have got dirt on them). It is pure nationalist ego to think only other countries have gangster problems in their governance. Scumbags like power, they will do anything to get more of it, they live everywhere. We already torture, kill and invade other countries, this to be honest is a very minor aspect of our corruption, nevertheless it is a dirty signpost towards a very unpleasant future if the Tories win power.

David Cameron’s communications director, Andy Coulson, will come under fresh pressure to defend his editorship of the News of the World and his knowledge about the illegal activities of his journalists amid new allegations about the paper’s involvement with private detectives who broke the law.

The Guardian has learned that while Coulson was still editor of the tabloid, the newspaper employed a freelance private investigator even though he had been accused of corrupting police officers and had just been released from a seven-year prison sentence for blackmail.

The private eye was well known to the News of the World, having worked for the paper for several years before he was jailed, when Coulson was deputy editor. He was rehired when he was freed.

Evidence seen by the Guardian shows that Mr A, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was blagging bank accounts, bribing police officers, procuring confidential data from the DVLA and phone companies, and trading sensitive material from live police inquiries.

Coulson has always insisted he knew nothing about the illegal activity which took place in the News of the World newsroom, telling MPs last year: “I have never had any involvement in it at all.”

Mr A cannot be named now because he is facing trial for a violent crime, but his details will emerge once he has been dealt with by the courts. Coulson tonight refused to say whether he was aware of Mr A’s criminal background, or of his return to the paper following his prison term. He said: “I have nothing to add to the evidence I gave to the select committee.”

The latest disclosures bring to four the number of investigators known to have worked for the NoW while Coulson was either editor or deputy editor of the paper. All four have since received or had criminal convictions. All four are known to have used illegal methods to gather information.

Posted in Media, Politics. Tags: . 4 Comments »

Yarl’s Wood Hunger Strikers Health At Risk, UK is Abusing Rights Say HRW

This is from a report in the Guardian on Sunday, so this is a good three days old-

Doctors warned that around 20 detainees, who say they have not eaten for 17 days, are entering a critical phase of their protest and risk doing long-term damage to their health.

The strike goes on and now John McDonnell & Jeremy Corbyn are calling for the inspector of prisons to launch an inquiry into the abuses the women are protesting about-

Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington John McDonnell has tabled a House of Commons motion, calling on the Inspector of Prisons to hold an investigation.

Mr McDonnell wants an inquiry into reports of violence, mistreatment and “racist abuse” which the centre denies.

He claims some of the women involved in the protest were held in a hallway for more than five hours, denied access to toilets and water, and locked out in the cold.

Fellow Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, who represents Islington North, has called for a halt to any removals and deportations of the women involved while an inquiry is carried out.

He has also signed the House of Commons motion.

I am not quoting any of what the government or Border Agency say because they are proven liars, 20 women do not starve themselves for three weeks to the point where it damages them permanently because of imaginary abuses as the government agencies would have us believe. So can we just be clear on this- 20 women who are guilty of no crime are in jail, they have been physically and psychologically abused, often involving racist abuse. And it is ongoing.

EDM 919: Hunger Strike At Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre
That this House notes that women detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre have been on hunger strike since 5 February 2010 in protest against being detained for up to two years; condemns the detention of victims of rape and other torture, of mothers separated from their children and anyone who does not face imminent removal; believes that such detention flouts international conventions and UK immigration rules; requests that HM Inspector of Prisons urgently carries out an independent investigation into reports of violence, mistreatment and racist abuse from guards, being kettled for over five hours in a hallway, denied access to toilets and water and locked out in the freezing cold, which women have made to their lawyers, the media and supporters, including the All African Women’s Group and Black Women’s Rape Action Project; and calls for a moratorium on all removals and deportations of the women who took part in the hunger strike pending the results of that investigation.
Tabled by John McDonnell

Put your MP to work request they sign EDM 919
Early Day Motions are very good ways of raising issues in parliament, which may not get debated in normal sittings of parliament.
You can contact your MP for free, through:

Also see No Borders

The system is so vicious this what a new report by Human Rights Watch says-

Women who fear severe human rights abuses if returned to their home countries are not getting fair consideration of their asylum claims under the United Kingdom’s “detained fast track” asylum system, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 69-page report, “Fast-Tracked Unfairness: Detention and Denial of Women Asylum Seekers in the UK” documents how women asylum seekers with complex claims are being routed into a system designed for much simpler claims. The women are held in detention largely for the UK’s administrative convenience, have very little time to prepare a legal case, and have only a few days to appeal if refused. But the claims often involve such sensitive and difficult issues as sexual violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and domestic abuse. There is little time for lawyers or other representatives to build the trust with their clients needed for them to explain their claims or to obtain medical or other evidence needed to verify them.

“The ‘detained fast track’ system doesn’t meet even the basic standards of fairness,” said Gauri van Gulik, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is simply not equipped to handle rape, slavery, the threat of ‘honor killings,’ or other complex claims, and yet such cases are handed to it regularly.”

And interviews with some of the hunger strikers done for an article in The Friend, the Quaker magazine (ht2 Earwicga)-

Denise seemed very weak and tired. She told me she was ‘so depressed’ and hadn’t been outside for two weeks. Sanitary conditions are ‘disgusting’ she said. ‘No water in the tap’, and the toilets were ‘not flushing’. She had been placed on suicide watch. As we spoke a male officer stood at the door.

Verna Joseph, originally from St Lucia is thirty-five and says she won her case with the Home Office on Article 3 – she cannot go back ‘because of things that happened’. She had been kidnapped and tortured and suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome and bad nightmares. She told me she has been at Yarl’s Wood for six months and is illegally detained. Verna described how she can’t walk around without observation. ‘They open my letters and hold mail back’. She said ‘they wouldn’t normally do that but they are now doing it with everyone who was on the corridor when the hunger strike started’. Verna has children. They are not here in the UK.

Shaunice had more news about Denise on Sunday afternoon: ‘Today at 8 o’clock I could hear screams… coming from the isolation unit… where they were still holding another person that was abused by officers. Denise… about ten minutes to nine I received a text from Denise. In the text she said that they had beaten her… they cuffed her and they had dragged her into a van.’ She was told she was being moved to Colnbrook for an interview and ‘she said she was in a lot of pain’. Shaunice confirmed there has been a ‘backlash’ and repercussions. Denise McNeill was not answering her phone.

Shaunice said: ‘the home secretary was here – Alan Johnson on the fourth of February, they had a “freeze” [where no-one is allowed to move around the facility as] they didn’t want us to speak to him. I have lived in England for nine years… I was in prison for three years. This is like a Nazi camp… that’s how bad the torture is…”

A fourth hunger striker I spoke to on the telephone had also tried to hang herself. She did not wish to be named. Extremely distressed and crying about the ‘lies that were being told,’ she told me about the mobile phones and food at Yarl’s Wood. Serco charges on a daily basis for mobile phones. ‘10p a day is a lot of money to detainees’, she said. ‘Food is very expensive. You earn just one pound an hour for a cleaning session. A carton of juice costs £1.29. You are not allowed to have food brought in from outside’.

And a piece by Denise McNeil on why she is on hunger strike from the Guardian. This is systematic and severe system of human rights abuse operating here and now in the UK, it is a national shame and it is our responsibility to end it. See-

No Borders

National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns

(via Harpymarx) You can help:
a) Write to Minister of State Phil Woolas MP
woolasp@parliament.ukorPrivateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk to condemn the detention of victims of rape and other torture, of mothers separated from their children and anyone who does not face imminent removal. Such detention flouts international conventions and UK immigration rules.

b) Write to women inside. Contact us if you can write to women who want to receive letters. Remember, the first people killed in the concentration camps were those that got no mail.  Help ensure the guards and the government know that women are not forgotten.

c) Help find legal representation for women to lodge or appeal an asylum claim.  Most women don’t have lawyers or their lawyers do nothing. Some demand extortionate fees. Most women’s cases are not “straightforward” so many lawyers won’t take them.  Legal aid cuts have reduced the paid time that lawyers can spend on each case.

d) Money to pay for phone calls to keep in touch with lawyers and supporters. We are sending £10 in to a limited number of women to pay for phone costs.

The All African Women’s Group (AAWG) and Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP) need help.  With Women Against Rape, we are now working flat out to try to stop women being removed.  For two weeks we have been taking and returning calls to over 20 women a day (calling out from Yarl’s Wood is very expensive).  We are regularly posting updates, and faxing legal and other information in to women. AAWG is unfunded and BWRAP operates on a shoestring budget.  Any help to cover the costs of these expenses will be gratefully received.

Email: AAWG: aawg02@gmail.com BWRAP: bwrap@dircon.co.uk
Crossroads Women’s Centre
230a Kentish Town Rd
London NW5 2AB
020 7482 2496 / 07980659831

All women have compelling cases to be released because they are: mothers separated from their children; survivors of rape and other torture, detained contrary to Home Office rules; not facing imminent removal.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Human Rights. Tags: . Comments Off on Yarl’s Wood Hunger Strikers Health At Risk, UK is Abusing Rights Say HRW

Video About Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

By Waking Up Now via Black Looks. A superb dissection of the bill that reveals it is basically a potential blueprint for a genocidal sanction on all LGBT people and their friends and families by fundamentalist Christians. Here is the bill as shown in the video that is now before the Ugandan Parliament. And some opposition moves and ripples of homophobia. Obama condemns the bill but still breakfasts with ‘The Family‘ who helped get it to this stage (once exposed they all pretended to look the other way and whistle unconvincingly).

Tell the Ugandan High Commission in London what you think-

High Commissioner Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary H.E. Mrs. Joan Rwabyomere
Tel: 020-7839-5783 Ext. 8102

Deputy High Commissioner Ambassador Ms. Mumtaz Kassam
Tel: 020-7839-5783 Ext. 8111

Uganda House
58-59 Trafalgar Square
London WC2N 5DX
Tel : (207) 839-5783
Fax: (207) 839-8925

Email: info@ugandahighcommission.co.uk

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: . Comments Off on Video About Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Irene Khan on Gita Sahgal

An important post @ Earwicga, Irene Khan was on Woman’s Hour and inevitably was asked about Gita Sahgal and Amnesty, despite Sahgal saying she has been bringing up these issues internally at Amnesty repeatedly (although she changes these details from interview to interview) Khan says-

I hired Gita and she worked with me for six years. While I was there those concerns did not come to light.  She didn’t ever express them to me so I can’t comment on her specific case or what’s happened since I left.

It is also worth noting Khan is hated by the decent/neocon axis, those same people (pro-war and to varying degrees soft on torture, pro torture and who for a while have viewed Moazzam Begg as a prime target) who are taking full advantage of Sahgal’s campaign to attack Amnesty by ‘supporting’ her, support she does not disassociate herself from.

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: . Comments Off on Irene Khan on Gita Sahgal

The Loan Sharks of War

I guess this is inflation, the Friedman unit is played out, it’s time for the McChrystal unit, c’mon just another 12-18 months-

The general overseeing the US military campaign in Afghanistan has warned that the offensive against the Taliban in southern Helmand province’s Marjah town is just the start of an operation that could last 18 months. General David Petraeus, the commander of US Central Command, said on Sunday that the months ahead will be “tough”.

Petraeus said the campaign, which started on February 13, would not stop with Marjah and nearby Nad Ali.  “This is just the initial operation of what will be a 12 to 18-month campaign as General [Stanley] McChrystal [the head of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan] and his team mapped it out,”

David Cameron Knowingly Employs A Cowardly Bully- Andy Coulson

Update: A real bullying charity -Bullying UK- has reported NBH to the charity commission. NBH has breached  confidentiality which puts people at risk in order to help a Conservative party political campaign, Prof Cary Cooper a director has resigned over this.

Gordon Brown does appear to be a bully (and a wildly in denial neoliberal chump), but as Adam Bienkov has shown the National Bullying Helpline is a dodgy outfit and here in a repost from three months ago, Cameron knowingly employs a bully, Andy Coulson, as his head of communications/spin doctor. Where was the ‘non political’ NBH then? Both bullies should be called out, Coulson can easily be fired, Brown is slightly more tricky due to him being PM and we can’t even get one of those for war crimes, but there should be sanctions (or better yet he stands down and we have an election, John McDonnell for leader!) and the message bullying is not tolerated, so far both parties are giving the opposite message. Here is that older post:-

A News of the World reporter who suffered from a culture of bullying led by former editor Andy Coulson, who is now David Cameron’s head of communications, has been awarded almost £800,000 for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

Matt Driscoll, a sports reporter sacked in April 2007 while on long-term sick leave for stress-related depression, was awarded £792,736 by the east London employment tribunal. It is believed to be the highest payout of its kind in the media, and legal costs could take News International’s total bill well over the £1m mark.

The award will cause fresh embarrassment for Coulson, who resigned in January 2007 from the newspaper after the former royal editor, Clive Goodman, was jailed for hacking into the phone messages of aides to the royal family.

Earlier this year, Coulson faced renewed pressure, after the Guardian revealed that the News of the World’s owner, News International, had paid out £1m to settle claims from Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, and other victims of phone hacking.

Driscoll, who has not been in a full-time job since his dismissal, said the award reflected the severity of the case. (ht2 Anton Vowl)

So the Tories have a problem, their top spin doctor is shown in court to be a bully, not just an also ran but the ring leader, how can any schools operate an anti bullying strategy under a Conservative government that employs a proven bully in a senior position? What message does it send, for all the fine words Cameron and chums might speak over bullying, until he fires Coulson his actions clearly say- bullying is ok with me and I reward, at the highest level and value, bullies in my team, bullying will get you where you want to go. Not to mention bugging.

Just how many ‘second chances’ will Cameron give, and anyway a second chance is what you give someone who shows genuine remorse and contrition, none so far has been forthcoming from Coulson. Now this is all pretty well much unsurprising, people are not shocked Conservatives are bigots, crooks and bullies. Yet it is unfair and wrong to hold that as a prejudice, so here’s a chance for Cameron to show they are not unremittingly awful human beings by firing Coulson, however I would advise him to ensure Coulson has proper medical help. We can’t know why Coulson has this problem, maybe his mother abused him or his father hated him, maybe he is a sociopath, superficially charming yet unable to feel empathy or a wide range of normal human emotions. Maybe a physical malformation of parts of his brain are its cause. While he is in positions of power his personal failings are a source of concern and great potential harm to those affected by his actions, when properly kept in a situation where he cannot harm himself and others he should have our sympathy. Perhaps this will lead to Cameron committing to tax the vast unearned wealth of his supporters to fund proper mental health provision under the NHS, so that Andy might no longer cowardly victimise others, avoiding responsibility for his actions while his underlying personal and mental problems go unaddressed. For those having to work with Coulson, solidarity is the key tactic for deterring bullying, forming strong supportive co-operatives or unions will defeat the bully.

Who said satire was dead?

Posted in Politics. Tags: . 9 Comments »

UK & Israel Are Conspiring To Protect War Criminals

Britain is braced for a diplomatic row after a senior Israeli politician warned that she was preparing to travel to the UK, where she faces an arrest warrant for alleged war crimes. Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli Foreign Minister and now the leader of the Opposition, said that she wanted to test promises by David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, that he would change the law to ensure that she was not arrested for her role in last year’s Gaza offensive.

Amnesty– The UK Government are planning changes to the law that would stop attempts to prosecute suspected war criminals. The move follows media reports that Israeli officials fear possible arrest if they visit the UK. Universal jurisdiction is the law that allows national courts to prosecute serious human rights violations committed anywhere in the world. Altering it would see the UK reneging on its international treaty obligations. One year on from the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, the UK government should be working to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides and not undermining the judiciary’s independence and integrity.

The UK Government are planning imminent changes to the law, to avoid any future attempts to prosecute suspected war criminals, Israeli or otherwise. This would see the UK reneging on its international treaty obligations, particularly those under the Fourth Geneva Convention which commit signatories to ‘seek out and prosecute persons suspected of war crimes wherever and whoever they are, whatever their status, rank or influence, against whom good prima facie evidence has been laid.’ Such an attempt to undermine the judiciary’s independence and integrity must be rejected in the strongest terms.

  • Act now to stop Britain becoming a safe haven for war criminals
  • Do I even need to comment on the spectacle of the Israeli government who constantly invoke the Holocaust in its justifications working with the UK government, which also has its share of war criminals, to destroy the means by which we hold to account torturers, murderers and genocidal militarists. The message appears to be abuse wins, even if one specific generational group of abusers are defeated their abuse in turn creates further generations of abusers, even among their former victims. The much misused term ‘progressive’ (and I do not mean in party political terms, in this both tories & Labour, Dems & GOP are not ‘progressive’) does mean those humans who do try to progress beyond such repeating cycles of horror, as opposed to conservatives (little ‘c’ who run all the aforementioned parties and is a basic characteristic of Zionism) who reinforce them. Governments have now routinised torture in this era, it would be logical if they also now remove sanctions from war crime legislation, what then protects us from government?

    Sahgal Expands Campaign To Canada

    This is an interview- CBC The Current 18/02/10 with Anna Maria Tremonti with Gita Sahgal and then Claudio Cordone, available here and as a podcast. Sahgal is upping the ante, yet presenting no evidence and the interviewer is repeating assertions that are not factual but seem to be becoming ‘accepted wisdom’. I also note how the CBC show chose small excerpts of Begg’s speeches that both refer to prayer rather than excerpts specifically detailing torture in Guantanamo, interesting choice… Transcript is at Earwicga.

    Update: Transcript below courtesy of keyboard Ninja Earwicga.

    1. CBC Hello, I’m Anna Maria Tremonti You are listening to The Current.
    2. Moazzam Begg And people ask me this question all the time: ‘Brother Moazzam, did the Americans ever let you pray?’

    3. CBC That is Moazzam Begg.  He is the founder of a group called Cageprisoners, and a former prisoner himself at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
    4. Moazzam Begg There was a time when the Americans took me onto an aeroplane, with the screams of the other prisoners and the roar of the engines, and the shouts of the American soldiers screaming and cursing at us, with our hands tied behind our backs and our legs shackled with a hood over your head.  And at this point one of the brothers who next to me, a Libyan said, [Arabic phrase]: That the time for prayer has come brother, shall we pray?  So that when brothers and sisters ask me ‘did the Americans ever let you pray?’ I say there is no circumstance in which they could have ever stopped me from praying.

    5. CBC Since his release from Guantanamo, Moazzam Begg has been a high profile defender of the rights of others who have been imprisoned or detained in Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere.  Among other things he has worked with Amnesty International, one of the most widely respected human rights organisations in the world.  But it is because of that association that Gita Sahgal decided she had to draw a line.  She was the head of Amnesty International’s Gender Unit until she was suspended from her post last week after she publically questioned Amnesty’s ongoing choice to work with Mr. Begg and Cageprisoners.  She argued that Moazzam Begg and his organisation promote extremist views and champion Islamic radicals – stands that are incompatible with the defence of universal human rights.  And that that Amnesty’s reputation is tarnished by its association with him.  Gita Sahgal is in London, England.  Good morning.
    6. Gita Sahgal Good morning Anna Maria.

    7. CBC Can you tell us then, what is behind your suspension?

    Gita Sahgal Well, as you said I was raising questions about Moazzam Begg’s relationship with Amnesty International.  And I think what’s interesting is that it’s been 11 days since the Sunday Times went public with the concerns that I was raising, and in that time Amnesty International has really acted as the public relations firm of Moazzam Begg.  Because it’s insisted that he is a very important victim of violations at Guantanamo, an issue that I absolutely never questioned.  It has not answered any of the questions that I asked.  It said there’s no evidence against him and that they only use him to talk about his experiences as a victim and not his views, and the thing that I would like to ask is what do they think his views are.  And why does my boss, Claudio Cordone, think there’s no evidence to justify cutting the link with him.  Or even to having any form of public accountability which is now being demanded.

    9. CBC Okay, so let’s just clarify.  When Moazzam Begg, you have spoken out in favour of Moazzam Begg when he was a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.  He was tortured there.  You had no problem with the Amnesty International at that time working in Mr. Begg’s favour.  Am I correct?
    10. Gita Sahgal Absolutely.

    11. CBC So what changed?
    12. Gita Sahgal What changed was that when he came out and he is now, has his own organisation with its own agenda, Amnesty International associated itself very closely with him, and because he’s a director of an organisation, then with the organisation as well.  And in doing that it gave him a global presence which would lead anybody who thinks he’s respectable because they’ve seen him on an Amnesty International platform to be inclined to go to the website of Cageprisoners and derive from there a series of views which are utterly incompatible with human rights.

    13. CBC And, so can you tell us what it is about Cageprisoners that you disagree with?
    14. Gita Sahgal Well, as I’ve said already I think that they have a violent and discriminatory agenda.  They are promoting people who promote extremely violent agendas.  My main concern is that I’m extremely worried about the quality of research inside Amnesty International if the interim Secretary General Claudio Cordone, who has been managing issues around research for many years in Amnesty International, cannot find any evidence that would suggest that Amnesty should not be related to Cageprisoners so closely.

    15. CBC And, can you give us some specific examples of the kinds of things that Cageprisoners stands for that you feel are incompatible with what Amnesty International stands for?

    Gita Sahgal I think they’re not simply a prisoner rights organisation.  They promote a number of people who’ve been tried in open court.  They’re not simply promoting people who have been subjected to arbitrary detention and torture.  They promote the agendas and ideologies of those people.  But as I’ve said, it’s not so much what I think because this is not a battle of binary vision of the world.  I’m trying to establish the process by which Amnesty International in the first place agreed to this close relationship and then when I made public my concerns, decided that they were going to make the relationship even stronger and actively promote Moazzam Begg.  I think that was a huge mistake and I think Claudio Cordone will live to regret that.

    17. CBC And so this is, but what you are concerned about is beyond the international politics of this organisation, there’s a larger issue here and I’d like you to sort of outline it for us.
    18. Gita Sahgal The larger issue I think is expressed by a petition that came out in my support but also making the much broader point: that the space for really unassailable human rights work and advocacy is shrinking in places in the world which are really dealing with both government led attacks in the war on terror and the use of human rights discourses in those attacks, and on the other hand extremely dubious organisations who are also using a human rights discourse, and they feel that a global organisation like Amnesty International should be able to distinguish between these.  Because what’s happening is that lawyers and activists and others who do support universal human rights, who are desperately trying to challenge arbitrary detention in their own courts in places like Bangladesh and Pakistan and India perfectly understand the difference between putting a writ of habeas corpus, trying to get somebody produced in court, ensure that that person has access to rights and so on, and championing them as a human rights defender.  Now Amnesty International has not necessarily called Moazzam Begg a human rights defender, but the effect of what they’ve done is precisely to legitimise him as a human rights defender.

    19. CBC And you’re saying they’ve done this by appearing with him and by appearing to support him with Cageprisoners.
    20. Gita Sahgal They’ve affirmed their support for him several times since I made these concerns public.  And said there’s no evidence against him.

    21. CBC And what kind of relationship then does Amnesty International have with Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners?
    22. Gita Sahgal Well, I was not involved with building that relationship.  I advised very strongly against it on several occasions, for several years.  On  many many occasions at the level of the board of Amnesty International USA, on the level of extremely senior people in the UK, in the British section of Amnesty and had raised these issues internally, so  I did not build that relationship and I think that’s a question that you should ask to my superiors.

    23. CBC Okay, well do have someone waiting to talk to us about that, but I’m wondering then how important is the resolution of this issue to the long term work of human rights, especially women’s rights?

    Gita Sahgal I think at the moment we have absolutely no credibility across the world in being serious about treating the equality of women and the emancipation of women seriously.  We have no credibility in treating the issue of religious minorities seriously, the people that Mr. Begg supports are very active in promoting attacks on, for instance ancient religions in Iraq, on Shia in Pakistan, on all sorts of people who simply do not conform to their agendas.  So I think we’re in a very serious situation since the senior leadership have so fully endorsed Mr. Begg and tried to pretend that what they’re doing is upholding the torture standard.  That is not what they’re doing.  They’re doing something dangerous and I’m afraid that human rights advocates all over the world are calling for public accountability on this matter.

    25. CBC Okay, and just to clarify again, because this is about jihadi views that actually speak against women.  These are views that actually talk about the oppression of women, and the oppression of other minorities?
    26. Gita Sahgal They talk about the oppression of everybody who does not conform to their particular view of the world.

    27. CBC Okay and so how do you go forward with this?  You have been suspended, where do you go from here with your human rights work?  You’ve been doing this for a very long time.
    28. Gita Sahgal Well, I’m doing very very serious human rights investigating these issues, and it’s work that I should have been  able to do behind my desk at Amnesty International, and unfortunately I’m not behind my desk at the moment, and I’m, but I am continuing to investigate the matter.  And even if Claudio Cordone doesn’t find sufficient evidence I think other people who I work with who are experts on this issue, who I was suggesting that Amnesty consult  for many years – so that we could educate ourselves, so we could build better research.  We will be continuing to work on this and we will be continuing to make these issues public.

    29. CBC Has Amnesty ever had to walk this line before where it has worked to defend someone on a human rights issue who later may not be considered a human rights defender?
    30. Gita Sahgal It walks a line all the time, and it’s a difficult line to walk.  I think the problem is that what this issue, making public this issue exposes is that the leadership doesn’t really understand how to walk the line.  I think many of the staff members of Amnesty International do understand these distinctions and are probably at this moment hugely embarrassed by what is being said in their name.  I feel really sorry for the many people who have walked that line in doing impeccable research and really investigating human rights abuses by the Taliban and other non-state actors.  But I think there is also very bad practice and it appears to go right to the top.

    31. CBC Okay, Gita Sahgal Thank you for speaking with me
    32. Thank you.

    33. CBC That is Gita Sahgal; she was the head of the Gender Unit at the international secretariat of Amnesty International in London.  She is currently suspended from that position.

    Well for Amnesty International’s view of the situation we’re joined by Claudio Cordone.  He is the organisations interim Secretary General.  He too is in London, England.  Hello.

    34. Claudio Cordone Good Morning.
    35. CBC I’d like your response, but first to clarify from your perspective, why was Gita Sahgal suspended?

    36. Claudio Cordone Well, it’s for a simple reason, when Gita decided to go public with her criticism of Amnesty and in a context when there was all kinds of misrepresentations in the media, we had to make clear that she was no longer speaking on behalf of Amnesty while we were looking into the matter.  The suspension is not a sanction, it’s not a punishment, it’s just a precautionary measure to make clear that Gita cannot speak on behalf of Amnesty while we look into the matter.

    37. CBC Now, at the centre of her complaint against Amnesty’s relationship with Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners.  How would you describe that relationship?
    38. Claudio Cordone Moazzam Begg is someone who’s been detained in Guantanamo.  He speaks very eloquently  about that experience, and at the moment we’re campaigning to the end of the detentions in Guantanamo, because they’re still continuing  and he’s very good in that respect.  And because of that he’s been on a speaking tour with us, so we’ve had other instances in which we’ve participated with him, and the key point is that this is something that we know about him and we work with him in that respect, and nothing, and I go back to what Gita was saying before, that has come up to make us believe that he does in fact have a violent or discriminating agenda.  This is Gita’s point but every time we’ve looked for specifics we don’t get any specifics or we get sensationalisms.

    39. CBC And yet, there are many reports that Cageprisoners actually does support jihadi views, jihadi views that would be incompatible with the defence of women and other minorities.  Are you not uncomfortable with that?
    40. Claudio Cordone Of course and we look into all those but that’s the critical point in this debate.  Are we supposed to act on the basis of accurate information, or just innuendos or generalisations?  When Gita says, or others say, these guys are promoting extremist views, can someone please explain what are these views; look at their website, look at what they’ve been saying publicly, that’s the evidence on which we have to go about.  But the sort of things that we’re getting are generalisations or sensationalising such as they’re promoting the rights of people who have reprehensible views, and when you look at that we could be accused of the same thing.  We talk about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who as you know has taken credit for the 9/11 attacks.  He’s been waterboarded, and we’re saying he shouldn’t have been waterboarded and he deserves a fair trial.  Does this mean that we’re promoting his views which are as reprehensible as any views that includes killing civilians and discrimination?  Of course not.

    41. CBC But you would argue for a fair trial, let me just clarify here, you would argue for a fair trial for anyone regardless of what they were charged with.  That’s not the issue is it?  The issue is once they’re free if they promote extremist jihadi views, jihadist views that actually are against other human rights, isn’t that the question, what they do when they’re free?
    42. Claudio Cordone Of course, but that’s my point – in this case nothing has come up to prove that Moazzam Begg or Cageprisoners are in fact promoting violence, or are promoting discrimination.  And every time, in the few times that Gita or any of the others in the last 11 days have been engaging in this have been pushed to,  when we try to pin them down on what exactly you’re referring to, we’re not getting anything.  Her concerns are not new, we were taking them on board and again because we’re not getting anything that should lead us to review that relationship we haven’t.  I’ll be the first to say that if any evidence comes up that in fact that they are promoting or advocating things that we do not stand for of course we’ll end that relationship immediately.

    43. CBC Well, for example Cageprisoners
    44. Claudio Cordone It is a matter of principle at this stage that we cannot, on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations, just end that relationship.

    45. CBC Well, as you know Gita Sahgal has considerable support for her position.  There is a petition initiated by some high ranking South Asian women including a representative of the Human Rights Documentation Centre in Sri Lanka and Sara Hussain, an advocate of the supreme court in Bangladesh and I want to read a bit of that petition, it says and I quote:  ‘Many of us who work to defend human rights  in the context of conflict of terrorism know the importance of maintaining a clear and visible distance from potential partners and allies when there’s any doubt about their commitment to human rights’

    What’s your response to that?

    46. Claudio Cordone I agree with that, but this is not the case that we are talking about.  As I said, it’s a matter of basic principles, and people are innocent until proven guilty in all kinds of ways, and in this case

    47. CBC But we’re not talking about a charge and what happened to him at Guantanamo, we’re talking about an ideology.
    48. Claudio Cordone I’m not talking about Guantanamo, I’m talking right now that Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners are being accused of promoting violence, of promoting discrimination and I’m saying

    49. CBC Well, they’re being accused because they support Taliban views and they support jihadi views, and we know what jihadi views are.
    50. Claudio Cordone Where is the evidence that they support Taliban views and what are the jihadi views?

    51. CBC Mr. Begg has written a book in support of Taliban views?
    52. Claudio Cordone He hasn’t written a book in Taliban views, the last time that we were able to pin Gita and others down in this respect, what he said in his book is that the Taliban were better than what had come before and I bet you we can even find NATO generals possibly sharing that view.  The point is that if he’s actually now

    53. CBC Well the Taliban actually very seriously curtailed women’s rights so I don’t think you would actually find a lot of people supporting that view would you? Saying that was better?
    54. Claudio Cordone Look, those are assessments, the key thing is
    55. CBC Well they weren’t assessments that, we know that about the Taliban – we know they stoned women, we know they wouldn’t let girls go to school, we know women had to stop working, we know all that.
    56. Claudio Cordone Sure, and by the way, we have a very long record of opposing the Taliban, not just with regard to their treatment of women but their attacks on civilians and all the rest, but Moazzam Begg himself has condemned some of these abuses.  He has rebutted all the accusations put to him point by point whenever those accusations were specific.  And that’s why I’m saying, if there is something else that is specific, things that they’ve said, things that they’ve written beyond what has been referred to so far which to me would not justify breaking that relationship we would, but none of that has come up and it’s just distorting on the basic objective that we’re trying to achieve which is to highlight the plight of Guantanamo and do it with former prisoners and people who also have credibility within communities that we’re trying to reach, hoping that people are not going to take up those grievances to blow up trains instead of engaging with the proper systems.

    [There were five occasions when the interviewer tried to interrupt Cordone answering in this section, which for the sake of clarity I have not included]

    57. CBC And let me ask you this question Mr. Cordone because we’re running out of time, Ms. Sahgal has said this is one of those rare moments in history when a great organisation must ask, if it lies to itself can it demand the truth of others?  Are you not concerned about Amnesty’s wider reputation?  By continuing to work with an organisation like Cageprisoners?
    58. Claudio Condone Look, if we were to say we’re gonna stop speaking on the same platform as Moazzam Begg, on the basis of rumours, innuendos, the sort of stuff that actually governments have been throwing at us for years, then that’s where Amnesty would be betraying it’s basic principles.  This is a legitimate debate, but that’s not the way to handle it.

    59. CBC Okay, Claudio Cordone we’re running out of time, we have to end it there, thank you for your time.
    60. Claudio Cordone Thank you.

    Friday! The Young Gods- She Rains

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    Doctor Who IS Craig Murray!

    David Hare, David Tennant, Craig & Nadira Murray

    Well David Tennant is- Saturday 20th BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play- Murder in Samarkand

    David Hare’s witty portrait of an unlikely hero, based on the memoir by Craig Murray. Craig is proud to be sent as Ambassador to Uzbekistan, eager to work hard and also eager for fun. The combination takes him on a dangerous course both professionally and personally, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Starring David Tennant as Craig Murray.

    Murray has yet to hear the play and joked: “I’m a bit surprised they couldn’t find a better looking actor.” He added: “Obviously I’m delighted David Tennant was me, it’s a tremendous honour in many ways. I’ve been a big Doctor Who fan all my life.” Hare had put a “huge amount of work” into the play, he added. “It is slightly different from the book because he went to Uzbekistan and interviewed people who were present for key events. To go to Tashkent is extraordinary dedication when you think about it. I think the play is positive towards me, but he’s reached that conclusion himself rather than taking my word for it.”

    Murray is portrayed as an intelligent but slightly naive diplomat given the ambassador’s job, aged 43, in Uzbekistan, a country ruled then and now by the human rights-ignoring Islam Karimov. The play is set in 2003 when the “war on terror” was at its height and information obtained by the regime’s torturing of Muslim terror suspects was proving useful to the west.

    It is the shocking torture and murder of one victim, who was boiled alive while being beaten, that pushes Murray to make a stand. He gives a lecture accusing the Uzbek regime directly.

    Recalled to the Foreign Office, Murray is given a dressing down and told that “moral questions aren’t our business”.

    The story of Murray’s personal life is told in parallel to the diplomatic one. While still married, he had fallen in love with a lap dancer, Nadira Alieva, whom he wed last year, and who plays several small roles in the radio play, although not herself.

    After his sacking by the Foreign Office in 2004 he stood unsuccessfully for parliament in Blackburn against his nemesis, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw. He now campaigns on human rights and African development issues.

    Posted in BBC, Media. Tags: . 4 Comments »