Save Bita Ghaedi From Deportation

Update: European Court of Human Rights has overturned UK govt on case of Bita Ghaedi! Deportation May 5th has been cancelled.

NB. This is not an endorsement of the PMOI/MEK/MKO who I find reprehensible, but there is no doubt Bita Ghaedi if returned to Iran would be at severe risk of human rights abuse (which makes this attempted deportation against the stated policy of the government, try and act surprised).

URGENT: THE UK HAS RESCHEDULED BITA’S DEPORTATION FOR MAY 5.

ACTIONS:

1) Make Bita’s case VISIBLE: the media refuses to cover these illegal deportations to Iran. Ensure that the world knows what the British government is doing. Bita is but one case: there are many lined up behind her in the UK alone, including Nadia Arzane & Bashir Foris, and Kiana Firouz. What happens to Bita paves the road for the others. Post about Bita in every blog, in every comment section that you can. Raise the visibility.

2) SEND EMAIL. Send a clear, strong message to the responsible parties. Sample text and addresses are below:

To whom it may concern, regarding Bita Ghaedi, HO Ref G1149090/5:

As a citizen of xx, I am disgusted by how Britain is handling Bita Ghaedi’s asylum case. I am appalled that despite global outcry, the UK Border Agency has chosen to cold-bloodedly pursue the deportation of Bita Ghaedi now set for May 5.

Ghaedi sought refuge in the UK with viable grounds for establishing refugee status. In Iran, Ghaedi’s life was circumscribed, bound, tortured, and scarred by pervasive gender-based violence. Her refusal to submit to gender-based oppression in Iran ensures that she will be under threat of the barbaric practice of stoning if she is returned to Iran. Furthermore, her political activities with PMOI/MEK/MKO mark her as an opponent of the present regime; thus it is also on political grounds that she will face certain execution upon return to Iran.

Your office received over 2700 petition signatures to stop this atrocious human rights violation, and you have been the target of protests in the UK and the US. The UK is very well aware of the current human rights crisis in Iran, marked by a rapid rate of executions occurring over the past few weeks. Your response has been to deport Ghaedi in clear violation of the law. This is criminal.

I demand that this illegal act by the UK, which violates international principles of non-refoulement, be halted and Bita Ghaedi be granted asylum and refugee status.

Understand that England will be held publicly accountable for the fate of Bita Ghaedi.

Sincerely,

Mail to:

UKBApublicenquiries -at- UKBA.gsi.gov.uk
CITTO -at- homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
Privateoffice.external -at- homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: , . 6 Comments »

Shaker Aamer’s 3000th Day in Guantánamo

Andy Worthington reports that Shaker Aamer (who I think remains detained largely because he is a witness to the murder of three detainees, we already know the Whitehouse knows the vast majority are innocent and keeps them shut up to cover its ass) is today spending his 3000th day in Gitmo. An article in the Wandsworth Guardian by Paul Cahalan, summing up the situation so far, part of a series by Cahalan, via Andy Worthington- see this exclusive interview with David Miliband, and also see here, here, here and here.

He claims he has been tortured, and that British Secret Service agents were complicit in that. He is viewed as a key witness in the case of another Brit who claims he was tortured and is also believed to be witness to the deaths of three detainees in June 2006 – which US authorities say were suicides but others claim were murders by US interrogators.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the case was being “actively engaged”, and at the Foreign Office meeting Mr Lewis told Mrs Aamer: “It is the Government’s clear objective to get him back to the UK. We don’t shout about it because that won’t help”.

So what will it take for the Government to shout?

How about eight years detention without charge, how about him being held despite being cleared for release by a US detainee board in 2007, or him reportedly being held in isolation for nearly three years?

How about him being tortured, how about him being denied basic human rights and access to his lawyers?

How about the only allegations connecting him to torture coming from informants who have already been discredited in other cases and statements he gave to interrogators after torture?

How about death or the worries over the toll of the years of torture and isolation must have taken on him?

How about a former US colonel, a Chief of Staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, saying President Bush kept detainees in Guantanamo despite knowing they were innocent?

How about the notion Mr Mickum, Mr Aamer’s US lawyer saying “If he ends up dying down there, I have to say the British will have blood on their hands”.

A change of government that we will have by this time next week (unless weeks of coalition haggling ensue, hmmm) may open up a new environment to pressure for his reales, not that I think any administration will be less keen on using torture and covering up when Washington & our spooks tell them to, but because they can blame this all on the last lot and gain some political capital… perhaps. However the basic fact he is witness to war crimes makes his silence and incarceration a very attractive option for authoritarians in both governments, whatever their party make up. Also via Andy Worthington’s blog Moazzam Begg tells of a message he has received from Shaker-

When I speak to former detainees they say I have a message from Shaker. I ask how is he, he has gone through all sorts of trauma for standing up for the rights of prisoners.

Recently some prisoners were released to Albania, and Shaker sent a message [often messages are shouted across the camp] saying he appreciates all the campaigning and he wants to come back home.

He is seeing all these people released and he is still being held.

People have been released to Ireland, Portugal – detainees who have no connection to those countries, being accepted as refugees in Europe and elsewhere. For Shaker it is devastating.

His family hasn’t received a letter from him for a very long time. I think about him every day. I was there for three years – he has been there nearly three times that.

I’m not sure about his routine, it changes, but based upon what I know, his routine is, he would wake up in the morning, have morning prayer, have breakfast handed over to him through a beanhole in the door.

I believe he is in the maximum security camp, camp 6, which has all isolated cells. Which would mean he spends most of the time in that cell with no communication with any human being and that they would take him out into the recreation yard at the end of the day where he would see a little bit of light.

There will be [electric] light in his cell 24 hours-a-day. They may dim it a little bit at night. He will be sleeping on a metal bunk. His physical make-up would change. Shaker was a big man but from what I have been told he has lost a great deal of weight. His mental state is up and down but remains strong and that is one of the reasons he continues to got punished.

Despite what he has gone through he still stands up for people’s rights. The prisoners love him as an individual. He is communicable and funny and talk with the Americans on their own terms. He will speak out and that is why there is a fear he won’t return.

I know he knows enough that would embarrass British and Americans, he was involved with high level discussions with the colonels about breaking hunger strikes and he has information about intelligence services that people don’t want heard.

All basic human rights only get given to you as much as you co-operate. You get no doctor no proper communication with your family – you give them to the worst convicted prisoners on the planet, but not those in Guantanamo.”

Somebody has to recognise this is wrong and common sense has to prevail…

Shaker has never been tried, let alone charged. It makes no logic or sense, there is no justice.

The campaign to free Shaker needs to get that out.

Of course there are people who latched onto Gita Sahgal’s political attack on Amnesty who would prefer you did not hear such messages. Join the Facebook Group Save Shaker Aamer Campaign and subscibe to Andy Worthingotn’s blog, where he says-

On Friday, I’ll be writing about how those of us concerned with this ongoing travesty of justice can put pressure on the new government

Indeed whatever the result, we shall abide!

Posted in Human Rights, Torture. Tags: . Comments Off on Shaker Aamer’s 3000th Day in Guantánamo

If You Only Read One Article This Week About Israel & Palestine Make It This One

Via Pulse (who have a video of the speech)-

The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners

This is the transcript of the Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture delivered by John J. Mearsheimer at the The Palestine Center today.

It is a great honor to be here at the Palestine Center to give the Sharabi Memorial Lecture.  I would like to thank Yousef Munnayer, the executive director of the Jerusalem Fund, for inviting me, and all of you for coming out to hear me speak this afternoon.

My topic is the future of Palestine, and by that I mean the future of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, or what was long ago called Mandatory Palestine.  As you all know, that land is now broken into two parts: Israel proper or what is sometime called “Green Line” Israel and the Occupied Territories, which include the West Bank and Gaza.  In essence, my talk is about the future relationship between Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Of course, I am not just talking about the fate of those lands; I am also talking about the future of the people who live there.  I am talking about the future of the Jews and the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens, as well as the Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories.

The story I will tell is straightforward.  Contrary to the wishes of the Obama administration and most Americans – to include many American Jews – Israel is not going to allow the Palestinians to have a viable state of their own in Gaza and the West Bank.  Regrettably, the two-state solution is now a fantasy.  Instead, those territories will be incorporated into a “Greater Israel,” which will be an apartheid state bearing a marked resemblance to white-ruled South Africa.  Nevertheless, a Jewish apartheid state is not politically viable over the long term.  In the end, it will become a democratic bi-national state, whose politics will be dominated by its Palestinian citizens.  In other words, it will cease being a Jewish state, which will mean the end of the Zionist dream.

Let me explain how I reached these conclusions.

Given present circumstances there are four possible futures for Palestine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Human Rights, Israel-Palestine, Miscellaneous. Tags: , . Comments Off on If You Only Read One Article This Week About Israel & Palestine Make It This One

Free Gaza Freedom Flotilla Announces Aid Mission For 24th May

Buy Cement To Be Sent On The Freighters

Or Donate Here

(London, UK) On May 24, 2010, the Freedom Flotilla sets sail for Gaza determined to, once again, challenge Israel’s blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in an open-air prison. Under the coordination of the Free Gaza Movement, numerous human rights organizations, including the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH), the Perdana Global Peace Organization from Malaysia, the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, and the Swedish and Greek Boat to Gaza initiatives will send three cargo ships loaded with reconstruction, medical and educational supplies. At least five passenger boats with over 600 people on board will accompany the cargo ships.

These passengers include members of Parliament from around the world, U.N., human rights and trade union activists, as well as journalists who will document the largest coordinated effort to directly confront Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and take in basic supplies.

Said Mary Hughes Thompson, one of Free Gaza’s co-founders, “Although we were happy with the first trips, it was bitter-sweet, knowing that our small boats and symbolic amounts of relief paled in comparison to what was really needed in Gaza. Now, we finally feel we are helping to organize a powerful action, one with the potential to translate into a sustained campaign of much more effective challenges to Israel’s brutal siege.”

In the past three months, Israel has limited fuel to run the power station. Much of Gaza is often in darkness. There are just enough trucks coming in to barely prevent total starvation, and Egypt, complicit with the Israeli-US policy of blockading Palestinians, is building an underground steel wall to prevent people in Gaza from bringing in vitally needed supplies through tunnels.

A cargo ship sponsored by the people of Malaysia and loaded with cargo donated from citizens of Ireland, Scotland, and Britain as well as thousands around the world, will depart from Ireland the second week of May. When it reaches the Mediterranean, she will be joined by the other boats and begin the journey to Gaza.

Dr. Mona El-Farra, Deputy Director of the Union of Health Work Committees in Gaza was pleased to hear we are coming back. “When the two boats from Free Gaza entered the harbor in 2008, it was like a dream, it was historic. And all great things start with some dreamers who made it true. For us in Gaza, the dream of freedom will not be lost, and we welcome this next voyage with open hearts.”

The Free Gaza Movement along with the partners listed above, are the organizers of this flotilla. However, dozens of organizations and tens of thousands of people around the world are taking part to make this voyage a success. www.freegaza.org

Buy Cement To Be Sent On The Freighters

Or Donate Here

Racism Will Turn Arizona Into A Police State

Update: Brewer signed the bill into law.

The slow creeping fascism of a declining empire will have its most explicit success if Arizona’s Republican governor Jan Brewer signs into law SB 1070. In the video below by Nezua he makes the very good point, where are the libertarians when the government is making it a crime not to have your papers with you at all times and present upon request (principled libertarians who are not racist must surely oppose this, hmmm  crickets…). A law whose real intention is to criminalise migrants, both legal and ‘illegal’, it is to make all brown people a suspect.

And below Zack de la Rocha on the law that-

orders immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transport them.

Look at all the wriggle room, it’s a bigot with a badge’s charter.

Amnesty International on the law-

The Arizona House and Senate have passed a bill (SB1070) that would empower police officers to stop and interrogate every individual in the state regarding citizenship status and make it a crime to be an undocumented person in Arizona. If a person does not immediately present documents proving that she is legally in the US, she may be criminally prosecuted, jailed and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation. The bill contains no safeguards against racial profiling and increases the likelihood of arbitrary arrest and detention. These are all human rights violations. Because SB1070 has already passed in the Arizona house, it’s next stop is the governor’s office. Tell Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill. Join activists across the US as they visit the Governor on April 20th to express opposition to this bill.

Why Argentina Is Better Than The US & UK

They tried and sentenced former leader Reynaldo Bignone for crimes against humanity,

Reynaldo Bignone, 82, was convicted along with five other former military officers for 56 cases involving torture, illegal detentions and other crimes in one of Argentina’s largest torture centres, the Campo de Mayo military base.

He was appointed president by the military junta in the waning years of the dictatorship and it fell to him to protect the military as Argentina returned to democracy. He granted amnesty to human rights violators and ordered the destruction of documents related to torture and disappearances of political opponents before agreeing to transfer power to the democratically elected Raul Alfonsin.

Argentina’s courts and congress eventually overturned the amnesty, and President Cristina Fernandez has made a priority of prosecuting leaders of the dictatorship.

At present there is ample evidence to justify a criminal investigation of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld & associates; Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Alastair Campbell & associates. Even without such an investigation there is a great deal of evidence of a torture program and an international conspiracy  in order to enable them to perpetrate the supreme crime of a war of aggression that all of them were party to. Subsequent behaviour by the Obama government strongly suggests he and associates are also engaged in criminal activities -torture, summary execution, destruction of evidence/covering up of previous administrations’ crimes.

Now admittedly it took Argentina 27 years to nail their former leader so I’m willing to be a little patient… a little. Also see Otto @ IKN, Uruguay also shows some impressive moves-

Uruguay has just slapped down one of its dictator-era scum today. Ex Chancellor in the dictator era Juan Carlos Blanco was this morning sentenced to 20 years behind bars. The guilty verdict was for his involvement in the disappearance of schoolteacher Elena Quinteros in 1976 and was determined to be a “very specially aggravated murder”.

There is still a way to go, about 30,000 people were ‘disappeared’ in Argentina’s dirty war there are many culprits, political and military figures who used the state apparatus to perpetrate the worst crimes imaginable.

murder, rape, torture, extortion, looting and other serious crimes went unpunished, as long as they were carried out within the framework of the political and ideological persecution

That ideological and political framework was in large part Neoliberal Shock Treatment, a political movement that now retains its h0ld on all the major parties of the US & UK making elections a mockery of actual democracy. Predictably the USA supported and cooperated with the regimes, a slight cooling off during Carter’s term was overturned by St. Ronnie who loved some Latin American blood on his hands, an aspect completely censored from the mainstream hagiographic necrophilia the Empire has for the late senile bad actor & bigot I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

The Anglosphere & North really thinks it is the bees knees, I think the rest of the world is disabusing us of that delusion, and not a moment too soon. Lead, follow or get out of the way; well our leadership is clearly a load of shit, so take note-

Prensa Latina April 20, 2010 — Cochabamba, Bolivia — Bolivia’s President Evo Morales Ayma condemned the capitalist system in the opening session of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth today.

Morales, speaking at the April 20 conference inauguration, started his speech with a slogan, “Planet or death, we shall overcome”. He said that harmony with nature could not exist while 1 per cent of the world’s population concentrates more than 50 per cent of the world’s riches. Capitalism is the main enemy of the Earth, only looking for profits, to the detriment of nature, and capitalism is a bridge for social  inequality.

More than 15,000 representatives from five continents were present at the Esteban Ramirez Ecological Stadium in Tuquipaya when Morales read a letter to future generations to alert of the danger the planet faces.

The letter, written by Morales, said the Earth is giving signals by means of earthquakes, seaquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, droughts and typhoons, so there is a great need to protect the planet.

In his letter, Morales called the attention to climate migrants, 50 million people going from one place to another, a number that could increase to up to 200 million in 2050, because of negative environmental impacts.

Bolivia’s president called on the peoples of the world to join together to face those who kill people and purchase weapons. If capitalism is not changed or eliminated, measures adopted to defend Mother Earth will be precarious and temporary.

Morales criticised the 15th UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, as a place where the voices of entire peoples and social organisations were not heard. “It is necessary that the UN member countries listen and respect the will of the peoples of the world”, he said.

He confirmed the creation of an alternative organisation of the peoples of the world in defence of nature.

The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth will conclude on April 22 with the celebration of International Day for the Mother Earth at the Felix Capriles Stadium in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This is a Bolivian proposal approved by the UN General Assembly in 2009.

According to the Bolivarian Information Agency, taking part in the summit are the presidents of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez; Ecuador, Rafael Correa; Paraguay, Fernando Lugo; Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega; and Bolivia, Evo Morales. Also present are two Nobel laureates: Argentinean Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchu, among other personalities.

More than 50 scientists, social movement leaders, researchers, academics and artists have agreed to speak on 14 panels, including NASA scientist Jim Hansen; Bill McKibben, environmental journalist and leader of 350.org; Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva; best-selling author Naomi Klein; Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano; Miguel D’Escoto, former president of the UN General Assembly; Lumumba Di-Aping, former lead negotiator for the G77; along with leaders from leading environmental organisations and communities at the frontline of climate change.

That ‘No Torture’ Memorandum Scam Again

Those cover-your-ass pieces of worthless paper the UK use to pretend they are not outsourcing torture and in which we are a world leader, this time in Afghanistan-

RAWA:- Britain ‘hands over prisoners in Afghanistan to face torture’. British troops are handing over Taliban suspects to the Afghan security service to face “horrible abuse” and torture, the High Court has been told. By Duncan Gardham

Government denials of such abuse are the result of a “head in the sand” attitude, partly borne out of a close intelligence relationship with the Afghans, the judges were told.

They are the latest allegations of British complicity in torture following investigations into MI5 and MI6.
Human rights lawyers have assembled details of nine cases involving allegations of beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, electrocution, and whipping with rubber cables.

They are arguing that Britain has breached the Human Rights Act by handing over prisoners to a country known to participate in torture.

They say the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), the domestic security service, had a reputation for mistreating prisoners and British officers should have known what was happening.

The Ministry of Defence is opposing the application for judicial review and Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, has said that detention is an important and necessary ability for British forces operating in Afghanistan, and safeguards are in place to prevent mistreatment.

But Michael Fordham QC told the court that the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office were seeking to protect their detainee transfer policy by adopting the approach “of seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil”.

In legal documents put before the court he said there are many reputable reports that torture and ill-treatment is “endemic” in the NDS “even at a very high level”, which has been described as a relic from the days of Soviet occupation.

The NDS was said to have been created in the image of the KGB and allegedly still has a reputation for torturing and killing.

Mr Fordham said the British government had chosen to rely on a “manifestly unsafe” memorandum of understanding with the Afghan authorities that international human rights obligations would be observed by the NDS.

But Britain adopted a “head in the sand” because it did not want to uncover evidence of human rights abuses and therefore refused to investigate thoroughly, he said, adding that the fact the NDS supplied intelligence to the UK was no secret.