Al-Libi Was Rendered Through Diego Garcia

Al-Libi was rendered through Diego Garcia (stolen by the UK from its inhabitants a crime yet to be accounted for, every time we let them slide, they will do something worse next time), the UK helped it, denied it and has now admitted it. Al-Libi was the prisoner whose torture provided the false connections of Saddam to Al Qaeda. 

Two terror suspects who were flown by the CIA to the British territory of Diego Garcia and later allegedly tortured have been named and evidence about their treatment has been revealed for the first time. Mohammed Madni and Shaykh al-Libi are identified in evidence prepared for the Commons foreign affairs committee by Clive Stafford Smith, director of the human rights group Reprieve.

 They are the two men, said Stafford Smith, referred to, but not identified, by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, when last year, after repeated denials by ministers, he admitted that two people had been rendered through the island in the Indian Ocean in 2002. Miliband said he did not know who the men were.

Madni was later freed and returned to Pakistan where Reprieve’s lawyers met him. “He has been effectively crippled by his torture,” said Stafford Smith.

Al-Libi died in a Libyan jail just as Reprieve lawyers were hoping to gain access to him

Clive Stafford Smith- “Reprieve has been exploring tentative contacts with al Libi, and his death may have been a result of the pressure to allow him to speak openly about his torture.”

Al Libi’s tortured narrative was crucial to the war lies, such is the function of torture

In case anyone has forgotten, when Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the head of the Khaldan military training camp in Afghanistan, was captured at the end of 2001 and sent to Egypt to be tortured, he made a false confession that Saddam Hussein had offered to train two al-Qaeda operatives in the use of chemical and biological weapons. Al-Libi later recanted his confession, but not until Secretary of State Colin Powell — to his eternal shame — had used the story in February 2003 in an attempt to persuade the UN to support the invasion of Iraq.

So there’s New Labour helping run the rendition network for a prisoner that was key in creating the lies to facilitate the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent deaths of over 1 million people and creating 5 million refugees. And, they ain’t coming clean anytime soon-

Mike Gapes, the committee’s Labour chairman, said he had received advice that the cases due to be raised fell “wholly within the house sub judice resolution”. The resolution states that “cases in which proceedings are active in UK courts shall not be referred to in any motion, debate or question”.

Mohammed’s treatment before he was flown to Guantánamo is the subject of a police investigation into “possible criminal wrongdoing” by the CIA and an MI5 officer.Stafford Smith said the advice was wrong and that the Mohammed case had been frequently raised in the Commons and the Lords. “It is time for the UK government to come clean about its role in Madni’s detention and to reveal who else has been held on and rendered through Diego Garcia, what happened to them there, and where they are now,” he said.

Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said last night: “These astonishing allegations fly in the face of the assurances given by the foreign secretary to parliament. The use of British territory for illegal state abduction and detention is unacceptable”. Research by his party found that the government had systematically destroyed flight logs for the Diego Garcia US airbase, Davey added.

And of course dead men tell no tales, while it is possible al-Libi died without ‘help’, I think the probabilities point to a hit to protect the guilty in the US & UK governments. Expenses are the least of these scumbag’s crimes. Those who think Blair truly in good faith believed he was doing the right thing have only two options- he is therefore insane or he is lying. So stop perpetuating his bullshit mythical version. This was planned, carefully engineered with malice aforethought. Grubby little lies no different to those told by Nazis hung at Nuremberg. They drafted their falsehoods in the screams of their disappeared victims.

In March, a different reader asked BBC reporter Reeta Chakrabarti why she had claimed that Blair had “passionately believed” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. After all, an alternative thesis – based on a ton of compelling evidence – is that Blair was lying. Chakrabarti responded:

“I said Mr Blair passionately believed Iraq had wmd because he has consistently said so.” (Forwarded to Media Lens, March 2, 2009)

Hard to believe, but senior BBC journalists and editors consistently present this argument: leading politicians must be sincere because, well, they say so! What possible reasons could they have for saying one thing and believing another?

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Diego Garcia, The Death Star

In 1967 the UK began depopulating, ethnically cleansing the Chagos islands so it could lease the islands to the US for it to build a base. The Chagossians were shipped to Mauritius the British govt. paid the Mauritius authorities some hush money & the empire got to building its bases. Only this year after decades of fighting did the Chagossians get any justice, Diego Garcia remains verboten.

Diego Garcia is the largest of the Chagos islands and the base is crucial to the empire, warplanes flew from it on strike missions for both gulf wars against Iraq and again something stirs-

The US is secretly upgrading special stealth bomber hangars on the British island protectorate of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to military sources. The improvement of the B1 Spirit jet infrastructure coincides with an “urgent operational need” request for £44m to fit racks to the long-range aircraft. That would allow them to carry experimental 15-ton Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bombs designed to smash underground bunkers buried as much as 200ft beneath the surface through reinforced concrete.

As usual the story includes the standard issue Iran! Nukes! FUD. So while you get some information the weak minded will have their paranoia and hence support for war subtly reinforced. This connected report- $87.8 million for further development of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, a conventional bomb designed to destroy hardened or deeply buried targets.- shows military industrial pork and preparedness always aids the war monger.

Not only is it a military cuckoo occupying the land rightfully belonging to the Chagos islanders it’s also a gulag once called ‘Camp Justice‘-

MPs on the all-party foreign affairs committee hope to find out if the reports that the CIA has a secret prison on the island are true. The MPs will scrutinise the allegations that the CIA has been holding al-Qaida and Taliban suspects on the island.

• Some form of American detention facility has existed on the island since at least 1983.

• Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star American general who is now professor of international security studies at West Point military academy, has twice spoken publicly about the use of Diego Garcia to detain suspects.

• Dick Marty, a Swiss senator who led a Council of Europe investigation into the CIA’s use of European territory and airspace said he had received confirmation of the use of the island. He later said that he had received the assistance of some CIA officers during his investigation.

• A Gulfsteam executive jet, which has been linked by its registration number to several CIA prisoner operations is known to have flown from Washington to the island shortly after the capture of a leading al-Qaida suspect in September 2002.

• British officials re-designated a building on the island as a prison three months after the September 11 attacks.

• Inmates at Guantanamo say that fellow detainees have described being held, and beaten, on board prison ships.

• The United Nation’s special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, has said that he has heard from reliable sources that the US has held prisoners on ships in the Indian Ocean.

Michael Mukasey, current nomination for US Attorney General doesn’t know if water boarding is torture and therefore if it is illegal even though enemy perpetrators of this torture were jailed and some executed after WWII for using it. Many democrats are debating if this makes him a bad choice or can they accept it, hmmm, top law officer, torture isn’t torture hence legal, hmmm what could possibly be wrong with that…yeah let’s debate that a lot, we’re civilised…

Has the CIA been given the go ahead to use torture and torture-lite techniques in its black sites overseas? The answer which emerges from everything we’ve seen is: Yes. The techniques in question include waterboarding, long-time standing, hypothermia, sleep deprivation in excess of two days, the use of dogs to terrify detainees, sexual humiliation techniques, and psychotropic drugs. Each of these techniques is very clearly illegal and their use is punishable as a crime. So the question for Michael Mukasey is this: has the Justice Department yet again been roped into to giving assurances that these crimes are not crimes, or that they will not be prosecuted?

The latest historical comparison for Bush’s America is Hirohito’s reign (a royalist fascist era, hmmm)-

“US war criminality is justice institutionalised, as Japan’s once was,” Bix said. “In today’s America, torture is not only standard battlefield practice in the so-called war on terror. Torture is celebrated in American popular culture as evidenced by the popularity of ’24,’ a TV programme in which the hero confronts a ticking bomb scenario… designed to justify torture.”

Herbert Bix, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for his landmark biography of wartime emperor Hirohito, said he believed US aerial bombings and alleged use of torture in Afghanistan and Iraq constituted war crimes. “The current American rampage in Iraq and elsewhere, not to mention the Bush administration’s threats of war against Iran, so clearly replicates Imperial Japan during the period when its leaders willfully disregarded international law and pursued the diplomacy of force,”

Hopefully Diega Garcia is no Unit 731. After all they don’t need to do all that human vivisection again as they bought the research off the war criminals and gave them jobs, keeping things businesslike like the good guys should.

UK Govt. Declares Chagos Marine Reserve

I have to give full props to the BBC for this short but inclusive bulletin, it talks about the islanders far more than any of the petitions (see here or here) or the co-opted environmental shills for the marine reserve ever did-

The UK government has designated an area around the Chagos Islands as the world’s largest marine reserve. The reserve would cover a 544,000 sq km area around the Indian Ocean archipelago, regarded as one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems. This will include a “no-take” marine reserve where commercial fishing will be banned.

But islanders, who live in exile, have expressed concern that a reserve may in effect ban them from returning. The islands are known for their clean waters and unspoilt corals. Conservationists say the islands possess up to half the healthy reefs in the Indian Ocean. However, Chagossians have said the protected zone could prevent them from fishing – their main livelihood.

The former residents, who were evicted from the British overseas territory between 1967 and 1971 to make way for a US Air Force base on the largest island, Diego Garcia, have fought a long-running battle in the UK courts for the right to return.

Reprieve Take Up The Case Of Chagos Ignored By Corporate Environmentalists

Also worth seeing is Johann Hari’s exposé of co-opted environmental shills. While this focusses on the rendered clients of Reprieve it does also talk about the dispossessed Chagossians and makes the good point that human rights are being abused while other lifeforms gain some protection.

Reprieve:- The British Government is this week expected to announce that 210,000 sq km around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean will become the world’s largest marine reserve.

Sadly, the proposed legislation fails to protect members of the controversial species homo sapiens.

Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos Islands, has been used for illegal rendition and detention of Reprieve clients Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni and Mustafa Setmarian Naser. The strange omission of the homo sapiens species in the new legislation raises serious questions as to why they should not be afforded the same legal protections as marine life.

On the 1st March Clive Stafford Smith raised Reprieve’s concerns with the Foreign Secretary in a letter (full version may be downloaded Here):

More than 30 years ago, the entire population of the Chagos Islands was removed to Mauritius against their will, to make way for an American military base. It seems unlikely that conservation law would have allowed for the wholesale destruction of the natural habitat of, say, Dendrodoris tuberculosa (the warty sea slug), in order to build such a base – but this was perhaps the first example of the warty sea slug having greater rights than the lowly homo sapiens in the region.

The current legal position in BIOT is bizarre. Almost uniquely amongst states, the territorial waters of the BIOT only extend out to 3 nautical miles, rather than the 12 miles allowed by international law. Inside the 3 mile limit, in theory, the species Homo sapiens has reasonable legal protection. BIOT’s laws roughly mirror those of England and Wales. There should be no detention without trial, no kidnapping and no rendition. Torture is a crime. The Geneva Conventions have the force of law. A court system exists to enforce the basic rights of members of this life form..

However, beyond 3 miles, these legal protections for Homo sapiens have no application. The BIOT courts and BIOT police have no jurisdiction to prevent the capture, torture or even the killing of members of the species if, for example, they are dragged onto a prison ship against their will by some people in American uniforms.

Indeed, we are currently representing a member of our species, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni, in his claim against the FCO. As you know, Mr Madni was subjected to ‘extraordinary’ rendition (i.e. kidnapping for torture) via Diego Garcia.

Tthe effect of your proposals would be peculiar. All other animal and fish life will enjoy protection up to 200 miles out from Diego Garcia. In addition to the worthy warty sea slug, every polyp of Gardineroseris planulata (honeycomb coral), and every Chaetodon trifascialis (chevron butterflyfish) will enjoy strict protection from being captured, killed or mistreated many miles from land. It seems that the only exception will be for our own taxonomic group, who will not be included in this wide-ranging and sensible proposal.

Reprieve Director, Clive Stafford Smith said :

“On Diego Garcia you may be arrested for violating the rights of a Warty Sea Slug, but no-one will object if you land a plane with a kidnapped, shackled, hooded man trapped in a coffin-shaped box. This happened to our client, Mr Madni, and it cannot be right. We fully support the Government’s plan to protect sea slugs on the island – but only if Homo Sapiens are to be given the same protection.” (ht2 Earwicga)

New Labour’s Decade Of Torture

And with Brown reneging on publication of SIS guidelines there is every sign this will continue, I would also add I have little hope any other party would not do likewise, a key aspect is the intel relationship with the US and clearly no accountability for torture is coming from that direction. The Amnesty Report does not cover the domestic repressions that the last decade has seen, which go hand in hand with the war-on-terror authoritarian paradise that is now our reality-

Amnesty International believes that there is credible evidence that the UK has been involved in grave human rights violations perpetrated against people held overseas since the attacks in the USA on 11 September 2001 to warrant the establishment of an independent, impartial and thorough inquiry. Credible allegations implicate the UK in torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful detentions and renditions. Over the years, Amnesty International1 and others have documented cases of the UK’s involvement in these abuses, including:

  • UK personnel were present at and participated in interrogations of detainees held unlawfully overseas in circumstances in which the UK knew or ought to have known that the detainees concerned had been or were at risk of being tortured and/or whose detention was unlawful;
  • UK personnel provided information (e.g. telegrams sent by UK intelligence personnel to intelligence services of other countries) that led the USA and other countries to apprehend and detain individuals when the UK knew or ought to have known that these people would be at risk of torture and/or unlawful detention;
  • The UK was involved in the US-led programme of renditions and secret detentions through, for example, the use of UK territory (e.g. Diego Garcia) and/or airspace;
  • UK personnel forwarded questions to be put to individuals detained by other countries in circumstances in which the UK knew or ought to have known that the detainees concerned had been or were at risk of being tortured and/or whose detention was unlawful; and
  • The UK systematically received information extracted from people detained overseas in circumstances in which it knew or ought to have known that the detainees concerned were being, had been or would be tortured and/or whose detention was unlawful.
  • Amnesty International believes that the UK’s role in the abusive practices described above cannot be attributed exclusively to the actions or omissions of rogue UK agents. Policies and practices implemented in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 led directly to the UK becoming involved in grave violations of human rights committed against people held overseas. These policies and practices included:
  • The UK government’s failure to respond adequately to the serious violations of international humanitarian law documented in the February 2004 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC);2
  • The sending of UK intelligence and police personnel abroad to conduct or assist the interrogations of people held by other states in circumstances where the UK knew or ought to have known that both detention and questioning were not only unlawful, but may also have amounted to serious crimes under UK and international law, including complicity in torture on the part of the UK and possible criminal conduct on the part of individual UK agents;
  • The refusal, for a substantial period of time, to oppose the unlawful detention of hundreds of people at the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the concomitant refusal to make adequate representations to the USA and other countries, on behalf of UK nationals and former UK residents who were held unlawfully at various locations around the world, including Guantánamo Bay;
  • The sending of UK intelligence personnel to Guantánamo Bay to interrogate UK nationals and UK residents;
  • The concealment until June 2004 of the fact that a number of the detainees questioned by UK intelligence personnel had in fact complained about their treatment in detention at the hands of US authorities at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere (e.g. Afghanistan), and the subsequent refusal of the UK to provide any further detail about these complaints, including on how, if at all, they had been followed up in a manner consistent with the UK’s human rights obligations under international law;
  • The authorizations issued by the UK government to the security and intelligence agencies under section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994,3which provides a waiver of liability to intelligence service personnel for illegal acts, including criminal offences, committed abroad in certain circumstances, and the concomitant concealment — for “security reasons” — of the number of times and the circumstances in which these authorizations have been granted since 11 September 2001;
  • The incorrect assertion that there were only very limited circumstances in which domestic and international human rights law would apply to UK operations abroad, including in Afghanistan and Iraq;
  • The failure to disclose information in the UK government’s possession that supported claims on behalf of former and current detainees that they had been tortured or otherwise ill- treated and that their confessions had been extracted under torture or other ill-treatment;
  • The wilful or grossly negligent failure to maintain adequate records — or any records at all — with respect to the use of Diego Garcia by the USA for unlawful renditions, and the activities of the intelligence agencies; and
  • The strenuous defence of the use, in domestic legal proceedings, of information extracted under torture from people held overseas by other countries.

The UK government’s response to these charges has primarily been one of denial and of hiding behind a wall of secrecy. The Chiefs of the UK’s Secret Services (MI5 and MI6), the Home and Foreign Secretaries, the Prime Minister and the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee have in the past denied the UK’s involvement in the torture of people held overseas. However, such denials fly in the face of credible evidence to the contrary that has continued to mount in recent years.

MORE

Avaaz & Environmentalists 4 Ethnic Cleansing

Another petition this time by Avaaz that makes little mention of the Chagos Islanders (a simple ‘work with Chagossians‘ without mention of their current dispossession by the UK) who were forcibly removed by the UK government so it could rent the islands (primarily the largest one Diego Garcia) to the US military that uses it to launch bombing raids on the Middle East and transit renditioned captives. This marine conservation proposal is greenwashing a historic ethnic cleansing by the UK on the behalf of the US military, worse is the conservationist lobby are aware of this, the prioritising of their pet project above the rights of the islanders is obscene-

Chairman of the Chagos Refugee Group, Olivier Bancoult, has had a letter published in the influential Science in Parliament journal (reproduced below), taking issue with a number of claims made by the Chagos Environment Network’s Professor Charles Sheppard. In particular, Mr Bancoult refutes Prof Sheppard’s suggestions that a resettlement of the Chagos islands by its indigenous population would be counter-productive to the aim of environmental protection.

In 2009, Prof Sheppard, who is Professor of Marine Sciences at Warwick University but is also employed by the UK Government as its BIOT Scientific Adviser, wrote in Science in Parliament (full text available here) that the environmental conservation of the Chagos islands could be best achieved by keeping the islands free from human habitation:

Examples of good habitat, like that in Chagos, are running out, so should we now revert to preserving a few ‘legacy’ areas which, on one hand, are in good condition now for whatever reason, and on the other have a good chance of remaining so? Candidate sites are few and diminishing, and we must remember that once gone, all past evidence shows that we cannot get it back.

Chagos is probably the only remaining site in the Indian Ocean where this could work. The social dimension may still need a solution, but the science is pretty clear – the ocean needs Chagos as it is.

The signal from this passage is that Prof Sheppard’s vision for marine protection in Chagos simply does not include the Chagossians. Rather, Prof Sheppard seems to unashamedly prioritise the goal of conservation far higher than the need to address the rights of the archipelago’s indigenous people – two things that he appears to portray as being mutually exclusive.

Let there be no doubt: keeping Chagos “as it is” would involving keeping the Chagossians in exile.

In response to criticism of its campaign, the CEN has been at pains to stress that it is not opposed to a Chagossian resettlement of their islands, instead suggesting that their proposals for a no-take reserve in Chagos are entirely “without prejudice” to the possibility of resettlement. However, the content of this article from Prof Sheppard – who is listed as an individual member of the CEN coalition alongside organisations like the Pew Environment Group and the RSPB – calls that claim into question.

In his letter to Science in Parliament, Mr Bancoult takes issue with Prof Sheppard’s claims.

He points out that Sheppard is wrong to argue that attempts at involving local people in husbanding their environments have invariably failed, citing Elinor Ostrom’s work on how user-managed natural resources can actually be preserved much better than those covered by Government regulation (work for which Ostrom was rewarded with a Nobel Prize in Economics last year).

Mr Bancoult further cites UN Environment Programme studies into coral conservation, “community-based habitat regeneration and site preservation activities” in the neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues, as well as ongoing conservation activities in Mauritius as reasons why Prof Sheppard’s dismissal of community engagement is unfounded.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Mr Bancoult directly challenges the credibility of Prof Sheppard’s claim that “a recent survey” of Chagossians had indicated that “only about a dozen individuals [would] wish to return permanently.”

In fact, Mr Bancoult points out that, to his organisation’s knowledge, no such survey has taken place in either Mauritius or the Seychelles, where the majority of Chagossians now live (given that the CRG is the biggest Chagossian organisation, it is likely that its members would have heard of such a survey if it existed). Furthermore, estimates by the CRG have concluded that as many as 150 Chagossian families want to return to their islands.

Far better is this petition which I urge you to sign-

The Marine Education Trust’s petition to “protect both the marine ecosystem of the Chagos archipelago and the rights of its exiled community” has reached over 1,400 signatures.  The petition can still be signed by clicking this link.

The MET is calling upon the FCO to devise and implement a ”fourth option” for a marine protected area (MPA) in Chagos, acknowledging that the three options laid down in the FCO’s consultation document are inadequate because they (i) do not provide for either the rights of the Chagossians or the interests of the Government of Mauritius, and therefore (ii) seriously jeopardise both the short- and the long-term viability of an MPA in the Chagos islands.

In adopting this stance, the MET is joined by other respected organisations such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, the Natural Resource Defence Committee and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, as well as the hundreds of scientists, ecologists, conservationists, academics, activists, students, lawyers, politicians, parliamentarians and others who have signed its petition.

As has been previously discussed on this website, the MET petition is markedly different from another petition doing the rounds on the Internet: that of the Chagos Environment Network (CEN).

In contrast to the MET’s proposal for a “fourth option,” the CEN’s Protect Chagospetition has disingenuously sought to present the FCO’s consultation as a binary “Yes or No” choice: “Do you want to protect Chagos or not?”  Of course, the issues are much, much more complicated than this: the FCO is conducting a consultation, not a ”tick any box” referendum!

Environmentalists 4 Ethnic Cleansing

I have written twice to a petition site over this petition and had no reply, see if you can spot what’s wrong with it-

The Chagos Islands, located near the centre of the Indian Ocean, are a UK Overseas territory and by far the richest marine ecosystem under British jurisdiction. They are a very special and rare place, a relatively unpolluted and undisturbed part of the world, with reefs and oceans still teeming with life.

Yet marine life almost everywhere – including fish, invertebrates, mammals, seabirds and turtles – is suffering massive losses as a result of over-exploitation, bycatch and pollution. Combine these with the effects of acidification brought about from rising carbon dioxide emissions, and the very survival of many marine species is in doubt.

With your help, we can protect the reef and ocean ecosystem of the Chagos for present and future generations – but we only have until 12 February 2010 to convince the UK government! Please sign our petition urging the British government to declare the world’s largest marine protected area and give protection to one of the best coral reefs left on this planet.

Did you get it? Because the The Chagos Environment Network & Chagos Conservation Trust certainly don’t nor do Care2, no mention of the Chagos Islanders who were forcibly removed by the UK government so it could rent the islands (primarily the largest one Diego Garcia) to the US military that uses it to launch bombing raids on the Middle East and transit renditioned captives. Now call me weird but before I get all flustered trying to get a nature reserve established I would put my energies into righting the wrong of the dispossession of the Chagossians. The Independent has now caught onto this and makes the same point, very very powerful and successful environmental lobbying has superseded the rights of the islanders, which would rather suit both the UK & US as they get to hide a crime against humanity in a warm fuzzy- Ooh look we’re saving the planet. Short version -you can stuff your petition up your arse until the human rights of the Chagos Islanders are respected. While the Chagos Conservation Trust are careful to state when pushed (though good luck finding mention of the ethnic cleansing of the Chagossians on their site)-

The marine reserve proposal stresses the advantage of the islands being “uninhabited” and mentions the former residents only briefly and obliquely, saying that any decision would be “without prejudice” to the current court case in Europe, and adds: “This means that should circumstances change, all the options for a marine protected area may need to be reconsidered.”

I would ask you to do as I am and write to the Chagos Conservation Trust and the Foreign Office and tell them to stop laundering a historic ethnic cleansing under a Greenwash. After all the Chagossians are amenable to the idea, so stop writing them out of history-

Among those leading the criticism is a retired senior diplomat, David Snoxell, who is the co-ordinator of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group. “The consultation is extremely unfair to the Chagossians,” says Mr Snoxell. “It deliberately ignores them. People are running this campaign with the idea of keeping the islands uninhabited for time immemorial.” The Chagossians themselves would very much welcome a marine protected area, but they need to be part of it, Mr Snoxell says.

“We will support the project only if we are physically involved in it all the way, and our right of return to the Chagos Archipelago is not compromised,” said Roch Evenor, a spokesman for the islanders and secretary of the UK Chagos Support Association. “With the Chagossians living on Chagos we will be able to help the marine protected area, as our presence will be a deterrent factor for illegal fishermen who are fishing the sea cucumbers and sharks. We can co-exist – the Chagos archipelago could be something great if we all put our heads together and collaborate.”

The full Independent article-

A major conservation row is developing over proposals for Britain to establish the biggest and most unspoiled marine nature reserve in the world. The issue of the Chagos Islands raises the increasingly difficult question of how to weigh up the protection of the best remaining parts of nature, in a rapidly degrading world, against the needs and rights of people.

It concerns the Chagos Archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a group of isolated coral islands teeming with wildlife which is considered to be among the least polluted marine locations on Earth. Its seawater is the cleanest ever tested; its coral reefs are completely unspoiled; its whole ecosystem, with its countless seabirds, turtles, coconut-cracking crabs (the world’s largest), dolphins, sharks and nearly 1,000 other species of fish, is pristine.

Officially British Indian Ocean Territory, the islands are the subject of an ambitious plan by conservationists – backed by the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband – to keep them the way they are, by creating a marine protected area, where fishing and all other exploitation would be banned, of 210,000 square miles – more than twice the land surface of Great Britain. In an age when the oceans and their biodiversity are being ever more despoiled, it would be a supreme example of marine conservation and one of the wildlife wonders of the world – in effect, Britain’s Great Barrier Reef, or Britain’s Galapagos.

The plan excites many wildlife enthusiasts and has the formal support of several of Britain’s major conservation bodies, from the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew and the Zoological Society of London to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The backing of the Foreign Office and the Foreign Secretary is significant. A public consultation on the plan ends on Friday.

But there is a notable omission from the plan. It takes no account of the wishes of the original inhabitants, the Chagossians – the 1,500 people living on the islands who, between 1967 and 1973, were deported wholesale by Britain, so that the largest island, Diego Garcia, could be used by the US as an airbase for strategic nuclear bombers.

When, in the 1990s, details emerged of the Chagossians’ enforced exile, which left them in poverty and unhappiness on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, it was widely seen as a substantial natural injustice; and in 2000 the then-Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, gave them permission to return.

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8 Years Ago Today

“A US military attack would be another catastrophe for Afghanistan”
Behjat, RAWA spokeswoman
25th September 2001

Sunday October 7th 2001

US President George W Bush has addressed the nation to announce the start of attacks on Afghanistan…
“On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al-Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taleban regime in Afghanistan.”

Monday October 8th 2001

The first sign that Enduring Freedom, the US-led retaliation for last month’s terrorist attacks, had begun would have been visible from the cornfields of the American Midwest, where black, bat-winged stealth bombers took to the air with a full load of bombs. The B2 bombers, first used extensively in the Kosovo conflict, took off from the Whiteman air force base in Missouri and flew 17 hours to Afghanistan, arriving at about 9pm local time, just as cruise missiles launched from the Arabian sea were hitting their targets.

For all the talk of this being a new form of warfare, the first few hours followed a classic pattern of US military doctrine: destroy as much as possible of the enemy’s ability to fight back in a coordinated and overwhelming burst of violence.

The Taliban did not have much of an air force and its anti-aircraft defences were rudimentary, but the US air force does not take chances. One of the first reported tar gets to be destroyed was a radar command centre at the military air base outside Kabul.

The Pentagon had not issued “battle damage assessment” reports by late last night, but it is likely that the initial strikes also destroyed the few dozen Mig and Sukhoi Soviet-era fighters the Taliban has managed to maintain with Pakistani help over the years.

A total of 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles, costing $1m (£670,000) apiece, were used in the assault. According to the Pentagon, they were launched from four US surface ships and a submarine which make up the battle groups surrounding the USS Carl Vinson and USS Enterprise carriers in the Arabian sea. Some were also fired from HMS Triumph and HMS Trafalgar, two submarines in the naval taskforce accompanying HMS Illustrious.

Once launched, the cruise missiles flew low over the water at just below the speed of sound. They crossed Pakistani air space, as agreed previously with the government in Islamabad, and then over the border into Afghanistan, hugging the terrain on the way to their targets to avoid radar detection.

By that time, there would have been many other warplanes in the air. Swing-wing B1 bombers and huge lumbering B52 Stratofortresses, the same giants which carried out the blanket bombing of Cambodia and Vietnam 30 years ago, took off from the British-run island of Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean. In the month since September 11, the island has witnessed a steady build-up of aerial firepower, and it represents an important el ement of the British contribution to Enduring Freedom.

At about the same time as the bombers were launched, bulky C17 military transport planes took off from the Ramstein US air force base in Germany, laden with 37,000 bags of subsistence rations to be dropped for Afghan refugees and impoverished civilians. In view of the size of the humanitarian problems facing the country, it was a token effort, but the symbolism of dropping food alongside bombs was thought to be central to the Bush administration’s war strategy.

To press home the point, leaflets were also dropped, explaining that the military strikes were directed only at the Arabs of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida organisation and the Taliban leaders who had led Afghanistan into the firing line by agreeing to offer shelter to foreign terrorists.

Number of casualties- unknown, and after the Iraq war began nobody bothered trying to count for all of 2004, see Marc Herold or the wiki page, or this at Unknown News. Starts at 7,589 civilians and goes to 28,028 or more.

The US has spent at least $223 Billion, the UK at least £12 Billion. Afghansitan GDP for 2008 $22.27 billion. Overall costs of the injured, dead, mentally damaged, homeless, the spousal abuse, the child abuse, drug abuse, medical services, prison service, police… is incalculable at this point, war does not end in a field somewhere over there. Children as yet unborn will be affected by it, that is a truth our militaries and governments will never admit, a bitter harvest for the homeland. When you look at how our governments treat their own citizens, be it welfare cuts or denial of basic healthcare ask yourself why they are spending our money in a country they could buy and sell several times over, where they care so little about the people they do not even count how many they have killed.

Malalai Joya

On behalf of the long-suffering people of my country, I offer my heartfelt condolences to all in the UK who have lost their loved ones on the soil of Afghanistan. We share the grief of the mothers, fathers, wives, sons and daughters of the fallen. It is my view that these British casualties, like the many thousands of Afghan civilian dead, are victims of the unjust policies that the Nato countries have pursued under the leadership of the US government.

Almost eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region.

You must understand that the government headed by Hamid Karzai is full of warlords and extremists who are brothers in creed of the Taliban. Many of these men committed terrible crimes against the Afghan people during the civil war of the 1990s.

So far, Obama has pursued the same policy as Bush in Afghanistan. Sending more troops and expanding the war into Pakistan will only add fuel to the fire. Like many other Afghans, I risked my life during the dark years of Taliban rule to teach at underground schools for girls. Today the situation of women is as bad as ever. Victims of abuse and rape find no justice because the judiciary is dominated by fundamentalists. A growing number of women, seeing no way out of the suffering in their lives, have taken to suicide by self-immolation.

… US vice-president Joe Biden asserted that “more loss of life [is] inevitable” in Afghanistan, and that the ongoing occupation is in the “national interests” of both the US and the UK.

I have a different message to the people of Britain. I don’t believe it is in your interests to see more young people sent off to war, and to have more of your taxpayers’ money going to fund an occupation that keeps a gang of corrupt warlords and drug lords in power in Kabul.

What’s more, I don’t believe it is inevitable that this bloodshed continues forever. Some say that if foreign troops leave Afghanistan will descend into civil war. But what about the civil war and catastrophe of today? The longer this occupation continues, the worse the civil war will be.

The Afghan people want peace, and history teaches that we always reject occupation and foreign domination. We want a helping hand through international solidarity, but we know that values like human rights must be fought for and won by Afghans themselves.

I know there are millions of British people who want to see an end to this conflict as soon as possible. Together we can raise our voice for peace and justice.

Posted in Afghanistan, War on Terror Scam. Tags: , , . Comments Off on 8 Years Ago Today

Amnesty On Ben Griffin, Avaaz On Gaza

Following the injunction granted on 28 February 2008 by the High Court of England and Wales to prevent Ben Griffin, a former member of the UK Special Forces (UKSF) Special Air Services (SAS), from making any further disclosures relating to the work of the SAS, Amnesty International’s Senior Adviser, Anne FitzGerald, said:Rather than seeking to silence people who might have credible evidence of alleged human rights violations, which may include war crimes, the UK authorities should be seeking to investigate those allegations.’

‘Amnesty International repeatedly makes calls for the UK to ensure that full and independent investigations are carried out wherever there are credible allegations that agents of the UK, including members of the armed forces, may have been responsible for grave violations of human rights law or for war crimes. Those calls all too often go unheeded: only last week Amnesty International repeated its call for such an investigation into the UK’s alleged involvement in the US-led programme of renditions and secret detention, following official confirmation, after years of denial, that rendition flights did indeed touch down in the UK territory of Diego Garcia.’

‘There can be no accountability without transparency: people – including former soldiers – who have information that may constitute evidence of war crimes or of grave human rights violations must be reassured that they can safely make that information public, without fear of punitive legal action against them. If the government of the UK succeeds in gagging Ben Griffin and burying any significant information he may possess, it risks preventing others from coming forward who may have evidence of serious violations.’

And AVAAZ have a petition should you feel it might have an effect on any parties involved-

The Gaza-Israel crisis is out of control. It’s come to this: bloody full-scale invasion, or a cease-fire. With rockets raining down on both sides, Israel launched a ground assault into the Gaza Strip this weekend. Over a hundred combatants and civilians from both sides lie dead. The next 48 hours are crucial — Israel’s cabinet will discuss a larger invasion Wednesday. But Hamas floated a Gaza ceasefire months ago, and 64% of Israelis support the idea.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/gaza_ceasefire_now/3.php?cl=58186486

UK Court Gags Ben Griffin, SAS Torture Whistleblower

Ben Griffin who made this speech, excerpted here on the 27th has been silenced by the British establishment-

A former SAS soldier was served with a high court order yesterday preventing him from making fresh disclosures about how hundreds of Iraqis and Afghans captured by British and American special forces were rendered to prisons where they faced torture.

Ben Griffin could be jailed if he makes further disclosures about how people seized by special forces were allegedly mistreated and ended up in secret prisons in breach of the Geneva conventions and international law. Griffin, 29, left the British army in 2005 after three months in Baghdad, saying he disagreed with the “illegal” tactics of US troops.

This is disgraceful but not unsurprising for an administration guilty of war crimes and subservient to the Bush regime. I include below the full text of his statement and urge others to copy and paste the text as well-

This statement was prepared and read by Ben Griffin, ex-SAS soldier, at a press conference on Monday 25 February 2008.

Our government would have us believe that our involvement in the process known as Extraordinary Rendition is limited to two occasions on which planes carrying detainees landed to refuel on the British Indian Ocean Territory, Diego Garcia. David Miliband has stated that the British Government expects the Government of the United States to “seek permission to render detainees via UK territory and airspace, including Overseas Territories; that we will grant that permission only if we are satisfied that the rendition would accord with UK law and our international obligations; and how we understand our obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture¹.” (Taken from a statement given to the House of Commons by the Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Thursday 21 February 2008)

The use of British Territory and airspace pales into insignificance in light of the fact that it has been British soldiers detaining the victims of Extraordinary Rendition in the first place. Since the invasion of Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001 UKSF has operated within a joint US/UK Task Force. This Task Force has been responsible for the detention of hundreds if not thousands of individuals in Afghanistan and Iraq. Individuals detained by British soldiers within this Task force have ended up in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Bagram Theatre Internment Facility, Balad Special Forces Base, Camp Nama BIAP and Abu Ghraib Prison.

Whilst the government has stated its desire that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp be closed, it has remained silent over these other secretive prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. These secretive prisons are part of a global network in which individuals face torture and are held indefinately without charge. All of this is in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions, International Law and the UN Convention Against Torture.

Early involvement of UKSF in the process of Extraordinary Rendition centres around operations carried out in Afghanistan in late 2001. Of note is an incident at the Qalai Janghi fortress, near Mazar-i-Sharif. UKSF fought alongside their US counterparts to put down a bloody revolt by captured Taliban fighters. The surviving Taliban fighters were then rendered to Guantanamo Bay.

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 this joint US/UK task force appeared. Its primary mission was to kill or capture high value targets. Individuals detained by this Task Force often included non-combatants caught up in the search for high value targets. The use of secret detention centres within Iraq has negated the need to use Guantanamo Bay whilst allowing similar practice to go unnoticed.

I have here an account taken from an interpreter interviewed by the organisation Human Rights Watch (http://hrw.org/reports/2006/us0706/2.htm). He was based at the detention and interrogation facility within Camp Nama at Baghdad International Airport during 2004. This facility was used to interrogate individuals captured by the joint US/UK Task Force. In it are the details of numerous breaches of the Geneva Convention and accounts of torture. These breaches were not the actions of rogue elements the abuse was systematic and sanctioned through the chain of command. This account is corroborated by an investigation carried out by NYT reporters into Camp Nama and the US/UK Task Force, which appeared in the New York Times on March 19 2006. Throughout my time in Iraq I was in no doubt that individuals detained by UKSF and handed over to our American colleagues would be tortured. During my time as member of the US/UK Task Force, three soldiers recounted to me an incident in which they had witnessed the brutal interrogation of two detainees. Partial drowning and an electric cattle prod were used during this interrogation and this amounted to torture. It was the widely held assumption that this would be the fate of any individuals handed over to our America colleagues. My commanding officer at the time expressed his concern to the whole squadron that we were becoming “the secret police of Baghdad”.

As UK soldiers within this Task Force a policy that we would detain individuals but not arrest them was continually enforced. Since it was commonly assumed by my colleagues that anyone we detained would subsequently be tortured this policy of detention and not arrest was regarded as a clumsy legal tool used to distance British soldiers from the whole process.

During the many operations conducted to apprehend high value targets numerous non-combatants were detained and interrogated in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of civilians in occupied territories. I have no doubt in my mind that non-combatants I personally detained were handed over to the Americans and subsequently tortured.

The joint US/UK Task Force has broken International Law, contravened The Geneva Conventions and disregarded the UN Convention Against Torture. British soldiers are intimately involved in the actions of this Task Force. Jack Straw, Margaret Beckett David Miliband, Geoff Hoon, Des Browne, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown. In their respective positions over the last five years they must know that British soldiers have been operating within this joint US/UK task force. They must have been briefed on the actions of this unit.

As the occupiers of Iraq we have a duty to uphold the law, to abide by the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture. We are also responsible for securing the borders of Iraq on all counts we have failed. The British Army once had a reputation for playing by the rules. That reputation has been tarnished over the last seven years. We have accepted illegality as the norm. I have no doubt that over the coming months and years increasing amounts of information concerning the actions of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will be become public.

Whilst the majority of British Forces have been withdrawn from Iraq, UKSF remain within the US/UK Task Force.

¹Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession.”

Ben Griffin
25 February 2008

www.stopwar.org.uk

Ex SAS Soldier Reveals Extent Of Torture

Throughout my time in Iraq I was in no doubt that individuals detained by UKSF and handed over to our American colleagues would be tortured. During my time as member of the US/UK Task Force, three soldiers recounted to me an incident in which they had witnessed the brutal interrogation of two detainees. Partial drowning and an electric cattle prod were used during this interrogation and this amounted to torture. It was the widely held assumption that this would be the fate of any individuals handed over to our America colleagues. My commanding officer at the time expressed his concern to the whole squadron that we were becoming “the secret police of Baghdad”.

Via Lenin. Here are excerpts of the statement read by Ben Griffin, ex-SAS soldier, at a press conference on Monday 25 February 2008-

Our government would have us believe that our involvement in the process known as Extraordinary Rendition is limited to two occasions on which planes carrying detainees landed to refuel on the British Indian Ocean Territory, Diego Garcia.

The use of British Territory and airspace pales into insignificance in light of the fact that it has been British soldiers detaining the victims of Extraordinary Rendition in the first place. Since the invasion of Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001 UKSF has operated within a joint US/UK Task Force. This Task Force has been responsible for the detention of hundreds if not thousands of individuals in Afghanistan and Iraq. Individuals detained by British soldiers within this Task force have ended up in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Bagram Theatre Internment Facility, Balad Special Forces Base, Camp Nama BIAP and Abu Ghraib Prison.

Whilst the government has stated its desire that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp be closed, it has remained silent over these other secretive prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. These secretive prisons are part of a global network in which individuals face torture and are held indefinately without charge. All of this is in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions, International Law and the UN Convention Against Torture.

Early involvement of UKSF in the process of Extraordinary Rendition centres around operations carried out in Afghanistan in late 2001. Of note is an incident at the Qalai Janghi fortress, near Mazar-i-Sharif. UKSF fought alongside their US counterparts to put down a bloody revolt by captured Taliban fighters. The surviving Taliban fighters were then rendered to Guantanamo Bay.

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 this joint US/UK task force appeared. Its primary mission was to kill or capture high value targets. Individuals detained by this Task Force often included non-combatants caught up in the search for high value targets. The use of secret detention centres within Iraq has negated the need to use Guantanamo Bay whilst allowing similar practice to go unnoticed.

As UK soldiers within this Task Force a policy that we would detain individuals but not arrest them was continually enforced. Since it was commonly assumed by my colleagues that anyone we detained would subsequently be tortured this policy of detention and not arrest was regarded as a clumsy legal tool used to distance British soldiers from the whole process.

During the many operations conducted to apprehend high value targets numerous non-combatants were detained and interrogated in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of civilians in occupied territories. I have no doubt in my mind that non-combatants I personally detained were handed over to the Americans and subsequently tortured.

The joint US/UK Task Force has broken International Law, contravened The Geneva Conventions and disregarded the UN Convention Against Torture. British soldiers are intimately involved in the actions of this Task Force. Jack Straw, Margaret Beckett David Miliband, Geoff Hoon, Des Browne, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown. In their respective positions over the last five years they must know that British soldiers have been operating within this joint US/UK task force. They must have been briefed on the actions of this unit.

All Your Base Are Belong To U.S.

troops.jpg

Ok, stop groaning, it had to happen sooner or later. Some nuggets from a piece by Tom Engelhardt on the Empire:

 …the United States has, mainly since World War II, set up at least 737 such bases, mega and micro — and probably closer to 1,000 — worldwide. Everywhere, just as Tony Snow has said, the Americans would officially be “invited” in by the local government and would negotiate a “status of forces agreement,” the modern equivalent of the colonial era’s grant of extraterritoriality, so that the American troops would be minimally subject to foreign courts or control. There are still at least 12 such bases in Korea, 37 on the Japanese island of Okinawa alone, and so on, around the globe.

Since the Gulf War in 1990, such base-creation has been on the rise. The Bush, Clinton, and younger Bush administrations have laid down a string of bases from the old Eastern European satellites of the Soviet Union (Romania, Bulgaria) and the former Yugoslavia through the Greater Middle East (Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates), to the Horn of Africa (Djibouti), into the Indian Ocean (the “British” island of Diego Garcia), and right through Central Asia (Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan, where we “share” Pakistani bases).

Bases have followed our little wars of recent decades. They were dropped into Saudi Arabia and the small Gulf emirates around the time of our first Gulf War in 1991; into the former Yugoslavia after the Kosovo air war of 1999; into Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the former Central Asian SSRs after the Afghan war of 2001; and into Iraq, of course, after the invasion of 2003 where they were to replace the Saudi bases being mothballed as a response to Osama bin Laden’s claims that Americans were defiling the holiest spots of Islam.

For a while, to avoid the taint of that word “permanent,” the major American bases in Iraq were called “enduring camps” by the Pentagon. Five or six of them are simply massive, including Camp Victory, our military headquarters adjacent to Baghdad International Airport on the outskirts of the capital, Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad (which has air traffic to rival Chicago’s O’Hare), and al-Asad Air Base in the Western desert near the Syrian border. These are big enough to contain multiple bus routes, huge PXes, movie theaters, brand-name fast-food restaurants, and, in one case, even a miniature golf course. At our base at Tallil in the south, in 2006, a mess hall was being built to seat 6,000, and that just skims the surface of the Bush administration’s bases. 

From 2003 to the present, the work building, maintaining, and continually upgrading these bases (and their equivalents in Afghanistan) has never ended. Though the huge base-building contracts were given out long ago, consider just a couple of modest contracts of recent vintage. In March 2006, Dataline, Inc, of Norfolk, Virginia was awarded a $5 million contract for “technical control facility upgrades and cable installation,” mainly at “Camp Fallujah, Iraq (25 percent), Camp Al Asad, Iraq (25 percent), [and] Camp Taqaddum, Iraq (25 percent).” In December 2006, Watkinson L.L.C. of Houston was awarded a $13 million “firm-fixed-price contract for design and construction of a heavy aircraft parking apron and open cargo storage yard” for al-Asad Airbase, “to be completed by Sept. 17, 2007.” In March 2007, Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems was awarded a $73 million contract to “provide recurring requirements such as operations and maintenance support for base local area network, commercial satellite communication, technical control facility, and circuit actions, telephone, land mobile radio and both inside and outside cable plant installations…. at 13 bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and six other nations which fall in the United States Central Command Area of Responsibility.” 

Like cars that always needs parts and repairs, computers that always need upgrading the base scam is another great capitalist boondogle, perpetual motion devices for profit. Like the man said, war is a racket.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , , , . 13 Comments »

Chagos Islanders 1, Empire’s Poodle 0

Families expelled from the Chagos Islands by the British Government to make way for the Diego Garcia US airbase today won their legal battle to return home.
The families and well-wishers packed the Court of Appeal for a ruling which condemned Government tactics stopping their return as unlawful and an abuse of power.
Three judges headed by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, refused a stay on the effect of their judgment, allowing the islanders to return to their Indian Ocean homes immediately.
The only island they will not be able to resettle under original High Court orders allowing their return, will be Diego Garcia itself.-

Sort of an Eden type deal, Diego Garcia is still forbidden, but it’s quite a smackdown to our US client state govt.

Lord Justice Sedley, giving the lead ruling today, said the method used by the Government to stop the islanders returning – making an Order in Council under the Royal Prerogative – was unlawful and an abuse of power by the Government executive.

Lord Justice Waller said the decision had been taken by a Government minister “acting without any constraint”.
“Indeed, the Crown may be doing something that, if she only knew the true position, she would prefer not to do, and yet it is then said that the Government can hide behind the ‘Crown’s prerogative’.”

Richard Gifford, the solicitor for the islanders, said in a triumphant speech outside the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, that the appeal judges had thrown out the Government’s appeal against a High Court ruling which cancelled two laws passed by “secret order-in-council procedure”.
“It has been held that the ties which bind a people to its homeland are so fundamental that no Executive Order can lawfully abrogate those rights”.-

Short version, what they did was criminal and dressing it up in legalese and Royal prerogative doesn’t change that. Take that yer bastards.

The War On Democracy: Guatemala & Otto Perez Molina

Although former Gen. (and SOA/WHINSEC graduate) Otto Perez Molina does not have enough votes at this stage he has support from the Empire (and The National Association of Evangelical Ministers of Guatemala!). That the Economist compares him to Uribe in Colombia while whitewashing his past kind of tells you where this is going. Worst of all Guatemalans who try to escape and find work in the US are being treated terribly and in some cases murdered. Some discussion here from Kyle & commenters at Immigration Orange-

Otto Perez has been using “Mano Dura” rhetoric to gain votes but it does the country no good. I love this letter the Guatemalan Solidarity Network published. In short, the author says that the frontrunner is a narco, Alvaro Colom, in second place is a human rights disaster, Otto Perez, and in third place you have the party of the elite bourgeoise, Alejandro Giammattei. Hilarious

‘Mano Dura’ is the right wingers strong arm ‘hard hand’ brand to say they will be tough on crime, they also favour an orange colour scheme (which rings some bells).

Guatemalans have cast their ballots in presidential and parliamentary elections, after one of the bloodiest campaigns in the country’s history. More than 50 candidates, activists and their relatives were murdered in the run-up to the polls. Mr Colom, who is running for the presidency for the third time in a row, promised to overhaul the security forces and the judicial system, which many criticise for being slow, corrupt and inefficient.

Mr Perez Molina pledged to increase the size of the police force by 50% and revive the death penalty. Of the 14 presidential candidates, Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu is the best-known internationally, but she was trailing far behind the front-runners.

Guatemala has one of the most unequal distributions of income in the Western Hemisphere. Furthermore, in the wake of President Bush’s visit to the country in May, a new interest in large-scale ethanol production was ignited which is likely to lead to an even greater degree of the concentration of wealth….Guatemala is strategically positioned in the heart of the Western Hemisphere, with access to both the Atlantic and the Pacific…

COL Otto Perez Molina, 1985, Command and General Staff College
(Commandant’s List)
Assassination, 1994: Chief of the G-2 (military intelligence) and on the
payroll of the CIA, Perez Molina
was in charge in 1994, when the General Staff was implicated in the
assassination of Judge Edgar Ramiro
El?as Ogaldez. (Allan Nairn, The Nation, 4/17/95)
Read the rest of this entry »