Sunday, June 5, 2011

Document - Bahrain: Harassment of human rights defenders must end AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL


2 June 2011

Index: MDE 11/028/2011

Bahrain: H arassment of human rights defenders must end

Amnesty International is greatly concerned about the continuing harassment of human rights defenders in Bahrain despite the lifting yesterday of the state of emergency – termed the State of National Safety – imposed on 15 March at the height of popular protests in the capital, Manama. In recent days, several leading human rights activists have been summoned for questioning by Bahrain’s military prosecutor about their peaceful activities in relation to the February-March protests, which were forcibly suppressed by government forces shortly after the emergency was imposed. Some have been banned from travelling abroad.

On the afternoon of 31 May, police went to the home of Nabeel Rajab, a leading human rights activist and director of the banned Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, and ordered him to report without delay to the office of the military prosecutor where he was then questioned, without the presence of a lawyer, from 6 pm to 11 pm. He was mostly asked about comments he had made in foreign media interviews and messages he had sent by Twitter about human rights violations in Bahrain, and whether he had participated in a peaceful protest march towards the Saudi Arabian embassy in Manama after Saudi Arabian troops were sent into Bahrain the day the state of emergency was declared. No charges were brought against him but he was warned that he could yet face trial before a National Safety Court, a special military court established under the state of emergency and which is continuing to operate even though the state of emergency is no longer in force.

Two days earlier, officials at Manama airport prevented him from taking a flight to Lebanon and told him that the authorities have banned him from leaving the country and travelling abroad but without specifying the reasons or legal basis for this ban.

Prior to this, Nabeel Rajab and his family have come under physical attack on at least two occasions. Tear gas was thrown into his home on 21 May, almost causing his brother, wife and daughter to suffocate before they could be helped to safety. In April, tear gas was thrown into both his and his mother's homes. No-one has been arrested for these attacks, prompting fears that they may have been carried out by members of the security forces or people acting on their behalf.

Three human rights lawyers were also questioned by the military prosecutor on 31 May. Mohammad Ahmad, Hafedh Hafedh and Mohammad al-Jishi, all of whom are currently acting as defence counsel for some of the 21 political leaders and activists currently on trial as alleged ringleaders of the protests, were questioned for several hours and then released, apparently after they were told that they are to face charges of illegal assembly in connection with a peaceful demonstration held outside the Ministry of Justice in March and inciting “hatred against the regime.” The 21 leaders on trial are appearing before a National Safety Court, though they are all civilians. Seven of the 21 are being tried in their absence.

Another human rights defender, ‘Abdullah al-Derazi, secretary general of the independent Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), was summoned to appear before the military prosecutor on 22 May and questioned about a speech he had made at the Pearl Roundabout, the central meeting point of the protests, in March in which he condemned the human rights violations then taking place in Bahrain. He was also questioned about what he had said in foreign media interviews about human rights in Bahrain. He was then released but told that he was being charged with attending a public gathering of more than five people, participating in unauthorized demonstrations and giving anti-government statements to the media. As yet, it is not known when he will face trial. He was suspended pending investigation from his employment as a lecturer in Bahrain University’s English department on 17 April apparently because of his alleged role in the protests. In all, more than 2,000 people are reported to have been suspended or sacked from their jobs in an ongoing purge of those who supported the protests.

‘Essa al-Ghayeb, another BHRS activist, was prevented from boarding a plane to Kuwait, where he was due to participate in a seminar about the death penalty, on 26 May. Officials told him that he has been banned from travelling abroad but gave no reasons for the ban and produced no written order.

Amnesty International is concerned that these individuals are being targeting by the Bahraini authorities on account of their peaceful and legitimate exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly and because of their role in exposing evidence of human rights violations by the security forces in Bahrain. These actions grossly violate international human rights standards. The UN Declaration on human rights defenders states in Article 12 (2) that “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

Amnesty International is calling for an end to the harassment of human right defenders in Bahrain who must be allowed to pursue their legitimate activities for the promotion and protection of human rights, and for the immediate lifting of the travel bans on Nabeel Rajab, ‘Essa al-Ghayeb and any other human rights defenders who are subject to similar restrictions.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Dear Barack,
In addressing you I do it fraternally and, at the same time, to express my concern and indignation after witnessing the destruction and death caused in several nations in the name of “freedom and democracy”, two words that have been twisted and stripped of meaning, and how you end up justifying murder, which was cheered up as if you were talking about a sports event.
My indignation refers to the big celebration of this assassination by North American social sectors, chiefs of state in Europe and other countries…a murder ordered by your administration and the satisfaction in your smiling face while stating that it was “in the name of justice”.
You didn’t intend to seize and judge him for his alleged crimes, which makes us believe that your real intent was to assassinate him.
The dead are mute and fearing that Bin Laden could disclose compromising facts for the USA, you decided to kill him, ensuring his permanent silence, unaware that by doing this you have reinforced our suspicions.
When you were granted the Nobel Prize I sent you a letter which read: “Barack, I am astounded by your having been presented with the Nobel Prize, but now that you have it you must use to promote peace among nations; you have all the possibilities to do it…to end the wars and begin correcting the severe crisis in your own country and the world”.
Unfortunately, you have increased hatred and betrayed the principles you assumed during your electoral campaign, such as ending the invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq; closing the prisons in Guantanamo and Abu Graib, but you haven’t done it, quite to the contrary, you decided to start another war in Libya, backed up by NATO and the shameful resolution by UNO to support you, when this organization, diminished and weak, has lost its path and has been subjugated to the whims and interests of the dominant powers.
The foundational premise of the UNO is to defend and promote peace and dignity among nations. Its Chart begins saying: “Us, the peoples of the world…” currently ignored by this organization.
I would like to recall a mystic and teacher who has meant a great influence in my life: priest Thomas Merton of the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky, who stated: “The greater necessity of our time is to cleanse the enormous mass of mental garbage in our consciousness, which has turned public life into a mass disease. Without this domestic cleansing we will be unable to start seeing… and if we can’t see, we can’t think”.
You were very young, Barack, during the Vietnam war; maybe you don’t remember the huge opposition of the North American people to such war. The dead, injured, and maimed in Vietnam are painful consequences…
Thomas Merton also said while analyzing a mail stamp exhibiting the legend: “el ej√©rcito norteamericano es clave para la paz” (The U.S. Army, key to peace”). No country possesses the key to anything other than war…power has nothing to do with peace. The more men are destined to the military, more destruction and violations occur. I have shared with and accompanied Vietnam veterans, in particular Brian Wilson and his mates, all of them victims of that and all wars.
Life is unpredictable and surprising; it possesses the fragrance and beauty God gave us and must protect to ensure a fair and fraternal life for future generations; to reinstate balance in our Mother Earth.
If we don’t react and change the current situation of suicidal pride, dragging the peoples to deep corners where hope is death, it will be very hard to see the light. Mankind deserves a better fate.
You know that hope is like the flower who flourishes in mud and blossoms in all splendor exhibiting its beauty. Leopoldo Marechal, the notorious Argentine writer, used to say that “you get off the maze climbing to the top”.
I believe, Barack, that after erring the way, you find yourself within a maze, unable to find the exit and instead, you submerge deeper and deeper in violence, uncertainty…devoured by the thirst for power; dragged by the huge corporations, and the military, thinking that you possess the might to do whatever you want, and that the world must surrender to the USA, because you have the weaponry and invade countries in total impunity. This is painful reality but there is also the valiant resistance of the people who don’t yield to the greed of the dominant powers.
So huge are the atrocities perpetrated by your country that it could take a long time to discuss them; they are also a challenge to historians who would have to peer deeper to understand the behavior, the politics, the greatness and pettiness which have led North America to dominate the minds of its society preventing them to see other realities.
Bin Laden, alleged author of the attack to the Twin Towers, has been made the Satan who has terrorized the world and the USA propaganda has identified him as the “core of evil” which has served you well to wage the wars so craved by the military industry to merchandise their murderous trinkets.
Did you know that those who have investigated the painful events of September 11 have declared that such attacks were self-inflicted…the crash of a plane against the Pentagon and the evacuation of the Towers the previous day…all of it concocted to justify the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, and now against Libya, based on lies and arrogance…that you are entitled to “save the peoples in the name of “freedom and the defense of democracy”, cynically stating that the deaths of women and children are “collateral damage”. I experienced all this in Iraq, in Iran, when you bombarded their cities and hospitals and a shelter for children victimized and deemed “collateral damage”.
Pronouncing a speech void of values and meaning, you dub assassination as “death” and boast that “finally, Bin Laden is “dead”. By no means, am I defending Bin Laden, as I have always been against terrorism by both, armed gangs and the government which your country exerts in several regions of the world, generating violence to maintain your control world-wide, and I wonder: if there is a “core of evil” how would you call it?
Could all of this be the reason for the fear North Americans live in…afraid of the vengeance from those dubbed as the “core of evil”…the superficiality and hypocrisy used to justify the unjustifiable.
Peace is a practice of life; the harmonic relations among peoples; it is a challenge to mankind’s consciousness; its path is difficult but hopeful; a path where people construct their own history. Peace is not something you give away…is something you build…and this is precisely what you don’t have, lad: courage to assume your historical responsibility towards your country and the world.
You cannot live immersed in a labyrinth of fear and control from those who truly rule the USA, ignoring international treaties, conventions and protocols of governments who sign but don’t comply with any agreement and hypocritically speak in the name of freedom and law.
How dare you speak of peace if you don’t want to honor your commitments, except those to benefit the USA?
How dare you talk about freedom when you keep innocent people in your prisons of Guantanamo, USA, Iraq, Abu Graib, and Afghanistan?
How dare you speak of human rights and dignity when you violate them permanently and fight all those who don’t share your ideology and, instead, must endure your abuse?
How dare you send soldiers to Haiti after a devastating earthquake, instead of sending humanitarian aid to that suffering country?
How dare you speak of freedom when you massacre the peoples in the Middle East and foster wars and torture in endless violence which hurt Palestinians and Israeli?
Barack: try to look at the top of the maze…you may find the star that guides you, even knowing you will never reach it,quoting Eduardo Galeano. Try to be consistent with what you say and do…this is the only way to avoid losing the way.
The Nobel Prize is a tool which must be used to serve the peoples, but never for personal vanity. I wish you find the strength and hope, and also wish you find the courage to mend your ways to attain wisdom and peace.

Our appreciation to Patricia Barba Avila for this translation. Also, to Camilo Perez Bustillo, Law professor at UNAM and lead Attorney for the 'International Tribunal of Conscience' Pueblos en Movimiento

Continue reading on Revolt from US War Criminals: letter from a real Nobel Peace Prize Laureate - National Nonpartisan |

Saturday, April 16, 2011

CR Provision Includes Partial Delisting of Recovered Wolf Populations: An Important First Step

The National Rifle Association today thanked Members of Congress for taking an important step in the right direction for wolf and game species conservation. The continuing resolution FY 2011, scheduled for votes later this week, includes a general provision that delists certain populations of wolves from the Endangered Species Act. Wolf populations in Montana and Idaho as well as portions of Utah, Oregon and Washington would be declared recovered by reinstating the 2009 ruling from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), paving the way for regulated wolf hunting seasons. The NRA would also like to thank the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Boone and Crockett Club, and Safari Club International for joining together in this important effort to place the states in charge of wolf conservation.

“With recovered populations of wolves across the Northwest, this Congressional action sends an important message to anti-hunting extremists -- politics and legal wrangling are not welcome when it comes to conservation,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. “Hunters are the true conservationists and wolves simply need to be managed through regulated hunting like so many other species. The partial delisting is a good start and we will be focused on a more comprehensive solution moving forward.”

Moose, elk and mule deer populations have been decimated in some areas where wolves are prevalent and the regulated hunting of wolves is long-overdue. The Congressional fix included in the continuing resolution would reinstate the 2009 science-based delisting ruling by FWS. This is an important first step in handing full control of wolf management to the states.

Wolf populations in the Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes region are at least five times larger than the original federal recovery goals according to FWS. Although the general provision in the continuing resolution only deals with a part of the area where wolves are recovered, other states may still propose new wolf management plans. Wyoming officials are currently negotiating with FWS in hopes of getting a new wolf management plan approved. NRA will continue to push for the regulated hunting of wolves where populations have recovered.

America’s rich hunting and conservation heritage depends on wildlife experts and biologists to set guidelines for a particular species. These wildlife experts and biologists have been demanding the regulated hunting of wolves that would result once management responsibility is shifted back to state control. Successful wolf hunting seasons were conducted in Idaho and Montana last year only to be thwarted by anti-hunting extremists in court. “It is time for science and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to prevail once more and we hope that Congress adopts this critical step forward in state-based wolf management,” concluded Cox.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reflections on the “Inside Job”

By Peter Radford
February 24, 2011

It’s depressing to watch the movie “Inside Job” simply because it is true. Shockingly true. It is also interesting to watch the comments come in from Europe where the movie is just now playing. I wonder whether it will alter public opinion of America. It should.
The American economic policy elite, by which I mean the academics, politicians, and business leaders that comprise it, is shamefully inadequate. In my more extreme moments I would call them irretrievably corrupt. They all shift from one seat to the next. They all intermingle. They all attend the same schools. They all believe the same basic ideas. They are all out to enrich themselves. They all deny any wrongdoing or fault. They all work endlessly in the interests of the system. In fact they are the system.
So, neutering bank reform was essential in order to protect their rent seeking ability. Shifting the focus of debate onto the national debt was essential in order to mask their collective culpability and graft. Imposing austerity on the rest of us was essential in order to avoid paying the consequences of their ineptitude and indifference. In order to protect themselves they had to stand together and spew out platitudes and patronizing homilies about how tough we all need to be in order to dig out from the crisis. A crisis that their ideas, their actions, and their greed caused.
All around the world everyday people are suffering a loss of wealth and, or, income as a direct result of the ability of this small group to impose its own agenda on us. Yet that group has emerged unscathed. They still rotate through the same jobs. They still teach at elite schools. They still control the academic agenda. They still run the same banks. They still staff the Treasury or the Federal Reserve Board. And they still dictate how our national wealth will be divided: 95% for them, 5% for the rest. Just the way it ought to be in a society where democracy has been weakened by decades of free market dogma, slipshod oversight, defunded government, and an extraordinary collapse in ethical standards.
No wonder the Tea Party is up in arms. Our social fabric is beginning to fray. Anger permeates debate. Reason flies out the window. Facts become opinions. Opinions become facts. We stopped being we. Instead we became them versus us. Turned in on ourselves by the needs of the system.
Only one group wins when society turns on itself: the elite in charge. That dark and amorphous group we dare not contest for fear of the unknown. Or at least that is what they tell us.
America is not what it was. It’s political system is horribly corrupted by the flow of money. Rich companies and individuals impose their views simply by dint of their ability to spend. The rest of us, those who object, are muted by the flow of cash that drowns out dissent. Supreme Court justices cavort in private jets and take cash sums for speaking to lobbyist groups. They then ask us to believe they are impartial. Politicians view fund raising as their primary task. They then ask us to believe they are impartial when they vote. Professors write papers supporting the objectives of their sponsors, and then see no conflict of interest. Business leaders pay themselves whether their companies succeed or fail. Boards of directors stand idly by as CEO’s leave with millions – hundreds of millions – even though they are unmitigated failures. Managers stay put even though they are manifestly incompetent. The concept of shareholder control is laughed at: the SEC actively prevents shareholder democracy. It might destabilize the system. So no one owns big business. There is no control. The system just is. It is a mockery of capitalism. It is a mockery of democracy. But especially of democracy. And all the while they preach that this is the land of opportunity.
Their opportunity.
Once America embarked on its great experiment with illusion, back in 1980, it deliberately stepped away from a fact based narrative. It plunged into Hollywood. Or Disneyland. Politicians realized they could cast balm across fears by talking in hopelessly unreal dreamlike terms. They also learned to demonize the opposition and the government. Words were recast with new and derogatory meanings. Alternative ideas and views were systematically eliminated or stifled. Their new way was simplified, black and white, and unrelentingly self regarding. Gradually the great utopians were able to kick away reality. They were able to shut out what Judge Brandeis called the disinfecting capacity of sunlight. In the shadows they constructed a version of laissez faire, updated and outfitted for the modern era.
They have persuaded regular people to vote consistently against their own best interests. They have led the country into decline. They have started wars on a lie and a whim. And they have shifted the national wealth in unprecedented amounts into their own pockets. The crisis did not hurt them at all. It hurt us. It was their mess. It is ours to clean up. And we agree to do this, why?
Because we are told the system must be preserved. The nation is fragile and we must surely understand the need for tough austerity action. We must take our medicine. We must sacrifice those pensions.We must give up those immature dreams of rising wages. This is, we are told, a global economy. We must suffer the consequences of the dreams of the poor who aspire to be like us. Capital is free to shift around the world. Profits are to be found abroad. If that hurts us here, then that’s just the system at work. And we must never disrupt the system. Never, ever, disrupt the system. It is a work of nature just like the oceans or the mountains. The market is an artifact, not of humans, but of the natural world. It is invisible to us. But we are caught in its dehumanizing grip. If the mechanism requires that you accept a lower wage, please do, it makes the model work so much more smoothly.
And the corruption stinks. Yet it exists. The lack of ethics reeks. Yet it persists. Just recently the economics profession failed to come to grips with its ugly lack of ethics. Apparently market forces will impose some form of ethics. So economists don’t need to abide by the same rules that the rest of society seems to think are important.
When you have sunk so far down the free market rabbit hole that you believe it will fix everything, ethics becomes just another exogenous variable to be assumed away. When you assume that all social ends are best met by efficient outcomes from constrained optimization models, ethics is obliterated by the great machinery that guarantees that optimum. And when you become irritated by the niceties of reality and its inexorable muddiness such that you treat it as an unfortunate intrusion into the sublime order of your theory, you have left behind both humanity and the need to balance work with an ethical view. Mad science is mad, however complex or elegant its math. All of this stems from my viewing of that movie. I guess it put me in a bad mood.
My distemper stems from the grim truth the movie tells. It reveals just how far America has lurched from its earlier, more prosperous, trajectory. It tells us how hard it will be to get back, if we can, to a more balanced, less extreme, less unequal state. And economics, at least its orthodox brand, isn’t helping. Indeed it has been co-opted, willingly so, by the system and those who benefit from it. Many of our most renowned economists are guilty of aiding and abetting the gutting of our democracy, and of feeding at the same trough as the bankers who destroyed the economy. There are some, well meaning, that claim economics is apolitical. Possibly. They claim the bourgeois values of capitalism are worthy of protection and nurture. After all we are all so much better off. Perhaps. But they ignore the ease with which orthodox economics has been turned into an ideological exercise. They ignore the inequality. They dismiss social remedies as pathologies eating away at the fine muscle of capitalism. Maybe they are right. But they are not politically neutral.
Democracy and capitalism are in conflict. The one protects the weak by giving them power. The other exploits the weak by concentrating that power in the hands of the wealthy. The two groups fight. Those who deny this struggle deny reality. They would prefer a pleasant world where the rich and poor cohabit in joint interest. Where labor and capital are equals. Utopia. Harmony. Quiet. And not the cacophony of the real world.
I do not seek the supremacy of either democracy or capitalism. Either, in extremis, can be volatile and unhealthy. I seek a balance. And when I watch the “Inside Job” I am reminded of how far from balance we are. Right now it is our democracy that is lost. We have a surfeit of capitalism. We are bloated by the corruption and lack of ethics that it has brought. We need to change.
In my world, that means economics has to change. But you all know that already.
Original article source here