Showing posts with label Human Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Human Rights. Show all posts

September 19, 2016

The Barrel Bomb Conundrum

    Monday, September 19, 2016   No comments
Barrel bombs don't do this, U.S. and British bombs do.
by Craig Murray*

Virtually every mainstream media article or broadcast on the United States aerial massacre of Syrian government troops, manages to work in a reference to barrel bombs as though this in some way justifies or mitigates the US action.

It is a fascinating example of a propaganda meme. Barrel bombs are being used by Syrian government forces, though on a pretty small scale. They are an improvised weapon made by packing conventional explosive into a beer barrel. They are simply an amateur version of a conventional weapon, and they are far less “effective” – meaning devastating – than the professionally made munitions the UK and US are dropping on Syria, or supplying to the Saudis to kill tens of thousands of civilians in Yemen, or to Israel to drop on children in Gaza.

If a bomb were to drop near me, I would much prefer it to be a barrel bomb as it would be less likely to kill me than the UK and US manufactured professional variety. If however my guts were to be eviscerated by flying hunks of white hot metal, I would not particularly care what kind of bomb it was. The blanket media use of “barrel bomb” as though it represents something uniquely inhumane is a fascinating example of propaganda, especially set beside the repeated ludicrous claims that British bombs do not kill civilians.

It is of course only part of the media distortion around the Syria debacle. Western intervention is aimed at supporting various Saudi backed jihadist militias to take over the country, irrespective of the fact that they commit appalling atrocities. These the media label “democratic forces”. At the same time, we are attacking other Saudi controlled jihadists on the grounds that they are controlled by the wrong kind of Saudi. You see, chopping off the heads of dissidents and gays is OK if you are one of the Saudis who directly controls the Saudi oil resources. It is not OK if you do it freelance and are one of the Saudis who is merely acting at the covert behest of the other Saudis who control the Saudi oil resources.

I do hope that is clear.
_________________

* Craig Murray, Vauntie Cybernat, Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist

Standing with Syria, Where The Black Left Should Be

    Monday, September 19, 2016   No comments
The destruction of Syria
by Margaret Kimberley*

American and NATO aggressions must be opposed wherever they surface in the world. That statement ought to be the starting point for anyone calling themselves left, progressive, or anti-war. Of course the aggressors always use a ruse to diminish resistance to their wars of terror. In Syria and elsewhere they claim to support freedom fighters, the moderate opposition and any other designation that helps hide imperialist intervention. They label their target as a tyrant, a butcher, or a modern day Hitler who commits unspeakable acts against his own populace. The need to silence opposition is obvious and creating the image of a monster is the most reliable means of securing that result.

September 17, 2016

Why does the U.S. administration want its agreement with Russia on Syria to remain secret?

    Saturday, September 17, 2016   No comments

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) scheduled a meeting this week to create a legal frame for the U.S.-Russian agreement on Syria. The meeting was eventually cancelled when France and several other permanent members of the UNSC asked for a copy of the actual agreement instead of being briefed about it by the two countries representatives. Russia agreed with France and expressed readiness to make public the agreement reasoning that they can’t expect their partners to endorse a deal they don’t know its details. After the cancellation of the meeting, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said:
 
“Most likely we are not going to have a resolution at the Security Council because the United States does not want to share those documents with the members of the Security Council. We believe we cannot ask them to support a document that they haven't seen.”

The U.S. administration refused to make public all the documents contending that doing so could put some lives at risk and jeopardize the success of the plan since it contains sensitive “operational details.” 
 
In any case, the Obama administration finds itself in a very delicate situation. The main sticky point that delayed the agreement with the Russian government was related to Russia’s insistence that the U.S. and its allies identify and separate the so-called “moderate” rebels from terrorists so that a political solution can be negotiated. Ostensibly, the U.S. administration eventually agreed to do so and its military and intelligence officials have provided their Russian counterparts with a list of names, without indicating their locations. 

It is likely that the named groups are members of the loose collective called the Free Syrian Army—FSA—which, in reality, was mostly crushed by al-Nusra and ISIL about three years ago. What is left of the FSA is either isolated in and/or near Turkey (and Jordan) and the rest are mingling with al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Fath. Those still mingling with Jaysh al-Fath released a statement criticizing the agreement and rejecting the part of the agreement that calls for joint U.S.-Russian military action against Jabhat Fath al-Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra. They considered al-Nusra a legitimate rebel group. 

The FSA currently consists of these armed groups:
 
Faylaq al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, al-Firqa al-Shamaliyya, Jaysh al-Nasr, Harakat Nur al-Din al-Zanki, al-Ittihad al-Islami li-Ajnad al-sham, al-Jabha al-Shamiyya, Jaysh al-Tahrir, al-Fawj al-Awwal, Jabhat Ansar al-Islam, Kata’ib al-Safwa al-Islamiyya, Liwa’ Suqur Jabal al-Zawiya, al-Firqa 101, al-Firqa 13, al-Firqa al-Wusta, Liwa al-Hurriya al-Islami, Jabhat al-Asala wa-‘l-Tanmiya, Failaq Hims, Liwa’ al-Fath, Tajammu’ Fastaqim kama Umirt, and Jund Badr 313.
 
Nearly half of the above mentioned groups are also members of other coalitions, some of which include al-Qaeda affiliated Salafists, like Fath al-Sham and Jaysh al-Fath. These complex networks and affiliations underscore the administration’s real dilemma.


The U.S. administration is reluctant because, one the one hand, revealing actual names and locations of groups it supports would make it easy for terrorist groups to accuse them of collaboration with the “crusaders” and kill them, as they did with many individuals and groups in the past. On the other hand, revealing the actual names could expose the U.S. administration’s support for groups that might have committed war crimes, such as the case with al-Zanki, whose members self-documented themselves slaughtering a sick child near Aleppo not long ago (just this July).
 
Given the  atrocities committed by many of rebel groups, affiliated with the FSA, the U.S. administration prefers to leave its connections to groups that might be found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity secret to preserve deniability. However, the inking of the agreement with Russia made that task utterly difficult and the administration will be better served breaking any ties with groups suspected of committing crimes and working towards a solution that will stop the bloodshed and punish those responsible for some of the most gruesome crimes on both sides.
 

June 9, 2016

Will hubris bring the end of the Saudi regime?

    Thursday, June 09, 2016   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Saudi Arabia’s bizarre behavior was on display, again, during the last two weeks. The recent actions reveal how Saudi Arabia’ rulers leverage the kingdom’s oil-generated wealth, Wahhabism, and religious sites and institutions to exert unmatched control in world politics--unmatched even by the superpowers of today.
Here is the chain of events.
On Thursday, June 2, the United Nations released its blacklist of states and armed groups that violate children's rights during conflict. In it, Saudi Arabia--and its coalition partners but mainly Saudi Arabia--was found responsible for “killing and maiming children in Yemen.” The report concluded that the coalition led by Saudi Arabia “was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries last year, killing 510 and wounding 667… The coalition carried out half the attacks on schools and hospitals.”

September 2, 2015

U.S. - Saudi Arabia bizarre alliance is becoming a burden on the United States

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015   No comments






Saudi war on Yemen: total destruction
On Friday May 8, President Obama announced that he was to meet with the Saudi King, Salman, ahead of the Camp David summit with the GCC rulers. On May 11, a day before the summit, the King cancelled his appearance altogether, a move widely characterized as a snub to the President. On Friday July 17, the White House said that King Salman requested that President Barack Obama meet with Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister, despite the fact that the President does not ordinarily meet with foreign officials who are not heads of state. Nevertheless, the President obliged. On August 28, the White House revealed that King Salman would be meeting with President Obama in Washington next Friday, September 4. The Saudi rulers are nervous, but they are blaming the uncertainty they face at home on other countries. The President should restate what he has already said in public: the threats to the Gulf States rulers are internal and of their own making.

August 10, 2014

I know why I’m obsessed with Jews, but why are you?

    Sunday, August 10, 2014   No comments
by David Palumbo-Liu*

Knowing how public I’ve been in support of the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against the state of Israel, a Jewish colleague came up to me on campus one day to talk. “I know why Im obsessed with Jews,” he said, “But why are you?”  I could hear both puzzlement and pain in his voice. 

It was clear at that moment that there were two kinds of “obsession” at work in his imagination.  For him, a Jew should properly - perhaps obsessively - care about their fellow Jews.  But my friend couldn’t help but wonder why I, as a non-Jew, would also “obsess so much” about his people, especially from a critical perspective. 

My reply was pretty automatic: “I’m not obsessed with Jews,” I said, “I’m concerned about the Palestinians.”

I know and like this person a lot. In essence I don’t think his political position is much different to mine, except in terms of tactics. I think he trusts me too.  But his statement revealed an important and discouraging assumption:  one is naturally drawn to care about one’s own people, and it is unexpected - even odd - that someone from outside one’s group should care as much. 

August 8, 2014

The paradoxical nature of religious and ethnic states and the genocidal impulses

    Friday, August 08, 2014   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
 
The Arab Spring that freed some of the peoples of the Middle East from state imposed fear produced an existential challenge for increasingly heterogeneous communities, forcing people to define the nature of the state and the character of the country where they live. It is true that self-rule and self-determination require a sense of self. However, building stable countries in the new Middle East is tied to the peoples’ level of awareness of the genocidal impulse espoused by certain social groups amongst them. 

The old Middle East was built on an artificial foundation imposed by Western colonial and protective powers in the form of superficial liberal thought, imported Marxist ideas, petty ethnic identities, niggling tribal structures, and a variety of downwardly managed and imposed ideas. The regimes and political forces of the pre- and post-colonial periods exerted virtual monopoly on governing institutions in most Arab countries. During the second half of the twentieth century, Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, began to challenge nationalist, monarchical, and clannish regimes arguing that Islamism provides a more inclusive political ideology for the peoples of the Middle East than alien ideas or narrow Arabism.

October 1, 2013

Syria's Kurds, hopes and fears: The civil war in Syria has put great strains on the country's Kurdish population. The Syrian Kurds' most powerful politician, Saleh Muslim Mohammad, talks to Vicken Cheterian about their position and future

    Tuesday, October 01, 2013   No comments
by Vicken Cheterian*
Saleh Muslim Mohammad is the head of the Partiya Yekitiya Demokrat (Democratic Union Party / PYD) and the most powerful politician among the Syrian Kurds. The party - founded in 2003, and closely linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a longstanding armed campaign in the Kurdish-majority regions of eastern Turkey - itself has a well-disciplined fighting force of several thousands among the Kurds of northern Syria. During a recent visit to Geneva to meet international organisations, I ask him for his assessment of the Kurds' situation in light of Syria's evolving war.

September 27, 2013

Harsh Qatari Labor Conditions Move Center Stage As FIFA Debates World Cup

    Friday, September 27, 2013   No comments
By James M. Dorsey*
Controversy over conditions for unskilled and semi-skilled workers in Qatar involved in the construction of World Cup-related infrastructure as well as for flight attendants of Qatar Airways, the 2022 tournament’s likely official carrier, has moved center stage as world soccer body FIFA prepares to debate next week the Gulf state’s hosting of the 2022 soccer tournament.

September 18, 2013

Doha debate reveals gulf between locals, its elite and expatriates

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013   No comments
by Sarah El-Richani*

Recent commentaries by Qatari citizens and journalists both in the local and social media reveal a polity eager to engage critically and openly on the manner in which its ruling elite are managing the country’s immense oil and gas revenues. Concerns voiced reveal a divide between the largely conservative population and the local elite’s ambitious plans for the emirate of Qatar.

August 28, 2013

Mass slaughter of civilian Kurds in Syria ignites heavy clashes and mass exodus

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013   No comments
by Rozh Ahmad*
 
Kurdish civilians escaping for their lives in Syria
The al-Qaeda linked “Jabhat al-Nusra” (al-Nusra Front) in Syria, has been held responsible for having instigated a sectarian racist war against civilian Kurds in Syria’s northern Kurdish region, the outcomes of which recently led to the massacre of hundreds of Kurdish women and children, “some of whom were raped and beheaded by jihadists”, says Syrian opposition officials, witnesses and victims.
Human rights activists in Syria’s Kurdish region have confirmed that 450 Kurdish civilians, “mostly women and children, were slaughtered indiscriminately inside their homes at the hands of jihadists of the al-Nusra Front in Tal Abyad, Tal Hassil and Tal A’ran areas of Syrian Kurdistan from July 28 – August 2, 2013.”

April 15, 2013

On the need to balance endowments and academic integrity

    Monday, April 15, 2013   No comments


by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

The article in The Atlantic, The Emir of NYU (MAR 13, 2013), touched on a very important issue: academic integrity. It came on the heels of the no-confidence vote NYU’s faculty in the College of Arts and Science delivered against the president, John Sexton. Sexton is renowned for creating satellite research and teaching centers around the world through a strategy he called The Global Network University. Specifically, the article pointed to the full degree-granting campus in Abu Dhabi and to faculty’s concerns “about academic freedom, diluting NYU's brand, human rights violations in Abu Dhabi, and discrimination against gay and Israeli students.”

The article did not address the critically important issue of striking a balance between the need for funding higher education and preserving academic and scientific integrity. This problem is not new. Research scholars and institutions in some STEM (exact/hard) sciences faced similar ethical and legal issues since they first took money from pharmaceuticals, agricultural companies involved in GMOs, defense industries, and government security and intelligence agencies.

March 3, 2013

Women’s plight in Afghanistan

    Sunday, March 03, 2013   No comments
by Rooh-ul-Amin*

The killing of women’s affairs director in eastern Laghman province on Monday is a reminder to us all, that, how violence against women is making deep inroads in our society and how much numb we have become to respond to such oft-repeated cruel incidents. It is not the first ever incident of this nature where a woman has been killed rather it is the latest in the series of such heinous acts. 

Where the wars of the past three or more decades have brought economic challenges and illiteracy to this dilapidated part of the world, they have also brought some cultural and social evils upon us. Intolerance towards women has become widespread. If women step outside their houses they are considered to be immoral. If they do job in offices they are considered not worth marriage. And if a woman loses her husband and being left as widowed and eventually a beggar, she is considered to be a prostitute. 

February 6, 2013

Leaders of the Islamic world are finally talking about minority rights and healthy dissent, kinda!

    Wednesday, February 06, 2013   No comments
 by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Representatives of 57 states, members of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), convened for their regular summit in Cairo this week. Among the notable attendees is the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The latter received a red-carpet welcome as Egypt's new president, Mohammed Morsi, greeted him on the tarmac at Cairo International Airport. The event is historical since this is the first visit by an Iranian president to Egypt since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

October 15, 2012

Free Syrian Army may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity

    Monday, October 15, 2012   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Armed opposition groups operating inside Syria may have violated international humanitarian law by committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. Arguably, some members of the Syrian troops may also have committed similar violations. However, the self-incriminating evidence released by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups is simply overwhelming. The evidence used in this research note is gathered from documents, images, and videos released by both parties (the FSA and the Syrian government) and not independently collected from the field.

March 27, 2012

Burdening the victims: impact of US sanctions on human rights at home and abroad

    Tuesday, March 27, 2012   No comments
The case for peoples' diplomacy


On the occasion of the start of the Persian New Year (Nowrūz), President Obama delivered a recorded video message to the Iranian people. In it, he highlighted the many ways the Iranian government denies its citizens access to information, including censoring media outlets and filtering the Internet. He declared that his administration is committed to communicating with the Iranian people despite the objections of their government “by making it easier for Iranian citizens to get the software and services they need to connect with the rest of the world through modern communications methods.”

As a candidate, Obama insisted—despite harsh criticism from other presidential candidates— that he would reach out to the Iranian leaders and talk to them in order to end the 30 year cold war. During his first year in office, President Obama offered to start a conversation with the Iranian leadership based on mutual respect. He then sent a letter, whose content was not disclosed, to the leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei. As his first term in office ends, having failed to start any significant dialogue with the Iranian regime, the President outlined a new strategy designed to bypass the Iranian government and religious leaders and talk to the Iranian people directly. Will this strategy succeed? Unlikely; and here are several compelling reasons.

December 14, 2011

Libyan and European rulers’ treatment of Blacks and immigrant workers: Apathy in the face of Cruelty

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*


Since the start of the Libyan uprising, mainstream news outlets have reported that African and even Eastern European mercenaries were fighting with Qaddafi’s forces. The Libyan rebels, eager to minimize any support for Qaddafi among the Libyan population, have fed western media horror stories of mass murder carried out by Black Africans. Consequently, many immigrant workers were caught between the ire of a regime that did not care much for them and a new wave of prejudice and discrimination fueled by the media and rebel propaganda. The fact that some foreigners fought for the regime does not tell the full story. Most African immigrants were unwilling participants in a war that no one had anticipated.


In order to understand the presence of so many Africans and non-Africans in Libya, one must understand the role played by the former dictator.



August 3, 2011

The Foundation of Supremacy: Racializing Human Acts

    Wednesday, August 03, 2011   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*


I vividly remember the day of the Oklahoma bombing. Not because of the news reports—I was too busy working and with school to watch the news. Consequently, I was not aware of what had happened that day until late in the afternoon. But as I walked into my workplace after a long day of school, I felt the stares and tension from almost all my co-workers. Many ignored me when I greeted them. While waiting for my shift to start, I entered the break room where a friend sat reading the newspaper. It took him a moment before awkwardly asking me what I thought of the “terror attack on the Murrah Building in Oklahoma.” I thought, “Terror? Murrah? Oklahoma?

February 2, 2010

Under international law and treaties, children should have rights to culture and ancestry

    Tuesday, February 02, 2010   No comments


Haitian children sit in the Canadian run Masion Enfants Espoir orphanage Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Haitian children sit in the Canadian run Masion Enfants Espoir orphanage Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz.
It is being reported in the news this week that Baptist missionaries from Idaho have been accused of attempted kidnapping. They were detained as they tried to transport 33 Haitian orphans to the Dominican Republic. The Haitian government contends that the children were not orphans. This is not the first time that children in countries with unstable governments or in war zones fall victims of illegal transfers.
In October 2007, Chadian police arrested nine French nationals as they prepared to fly more than 100 children to France. At the time, Chadian President, Idriss Deby, said, "it's inadmissible in the 21st century. The entire world needs to witness this. We are going to take all the necessary steps, administrative and judicial to shed light on the kidnapping of the children from Chad and Sudanese refugees."
The French aid group, Zoe's Arc, said it had arranged French host families for the children. The group's secretary-general said the group asked host families for $3400 each to pay for the operation's logistics. Most children interviewed said they are not orphans, and their parents are still alive.
Reports of child kidnapping in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia have increased in the last decade. But even in countries with stable governments, too, children are kidnapped and either sold as sex slaves or for organ harvesting.
The danger facing helpless children should make everyone more careful, and that includes those so-called well-intentioned individuals who think they are “just trying to help.” In fact, as a society, we should reevaluate the adoption process and make it more humane and not merely a solution for groups to please their gods or couples to make their families whole.
Undoubtedly, it is a heinous crime that only a deranged, savage individual could commit when they take away children for profit or pleasure. But I would argue that it is still immoral, unethical, and illegal to uproot children from their natural environment under the pretext of providing them with “a better life.”
We can learn more about the ethics and legality of child-uprooting from the well-publicized cases when “celebrities” adopt children from Africa.
Standing in a Malawi court next to the famous singer, the father of the child Madonna wanted to adopt, Yohane Banda, who can barely read or write, said, “I looked directly into her [Madonna’s] eyes and said, “Although I am giving you my son I want you to look after him well as he is the only one I possess. I want you to keep this boy, raise him, educate him - but you have to know he is my son and he is a Malawian.””
When interviewed by the media then, Banda, whose wife Marita, died a week after their son was born, admitted that he did not fully understand what was happening when he went to court to see for the first (and only time) the woman who was offering his 13-month-old son, David, a new life in the West. He claimed that he thought that Madonna will send his son back to him and his country when David is an adult. It must be noted that Madonna was able to adopt a child from a country where the law prohibits adoptions by non-residents.
Other famous and rich Westerners have always gone south or east to adopt children. Angelina Jolie reportedly indicated that she wants to adopt a child from each continent. Considering the wealth of some of these individuals, they can adopt the children of an entire tribe or an entire country if they wanted to do so. But for many, adoption is not about offering poor children from the jungle “a better life;” it is about self-fulfillment.
An African child should not be a ticket to redemption, social rehabilitation, or personal project. A child is a person, with rights to culture, ancestry, family, and identity. It may be the case that a poor child is better off in the West than in the jungle, but no one has the right to make that decision on his behalf.
A child is naturally someone’s son, someone’s nephew, someone’s niece, someone’s grandchild, someone’s friend, someone’s neighbor. A child, (to quote Mr. Banda) is Malawian, Nigerian, Sudanese, Brazilian, Asian, or Chadian. He has the right to a culture, to roots, to ancestors, to identity. A child from African has a right to be named (and keep the name) Adegoke, Buziba, Ngozi, Uzoma, or Zuberi; not renamed to become Edwin, Kevin, Jared, John, or Scott.
Those who are sincere about helping the poor and the needy should be able to help them while keeping them in their natural environment, among their biological relatives, among their friends, among their people.
It is feared that Westerners are seeking foreign children for adoptions not just because it is cheaper, but also because they want a child who will be totally cut off from her roots; a child who will be given a new name, a new identity, and a new reality. A child has rights to her ancestry, roots, and culture. Moreover, the idea that a Westerner is better able to offer an African or Asian child a better life, may be practically and materially true, but it is also is patently arrogant, stunningly dehumanizing, and selfishly opportunistic.
In the U.S., there are thousands of children waiting adoption and since, as it is popularly said, charity starts at home, Americans wanting to adopt should adopt from home. People generally justify favoring foreign children over Americans by arguing that it is legally complicated and financially expensive to adopt American children. It should be. Adopting a child, a human being, is not and should not be a simple matter. And no one should look to Africa and poor countries such as Haiti as the Wal-Mart of adoption either. In fact, the U.S. should pressure other countries to adopt the same standards to protect children and children’s rights.
International institutions, too, should establish laws and instruments that standardize the respect of rights and dignity of children around the world. Among these rights that ought to be protected is the preservation of the cultural and ethnical heritage of the adopted child, including her or his family name.

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