Syria’s injured seek treatment in Jordan

February 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Dozens of people have been killed in the ongoing military assault on the central Syrian city of Homs, according to activists. Opposition groups say at least 6,000 people have died since the anti-government uprising began 11 months ago. With Syria’s makeshift hospitals unable to keep up with the growing rate of casualties, many of the wounded are left with little choice other than to travel to Jordan.

Al Jazeera’s Nisreen el-Shamayleh reports from the Jordanian capital, Amman, on those Syrians seeking treatment across the border, including a one-time Olympian.

Brother Arab Republic of Syria

February 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has offered his unequivocal support to the leader of the ‘Brother Arab Republic of Syria’. Those unfamiliar with the anti-imperial record of this regime might find the following report instructive:

Military assault on Homs intensifies

February 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

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Torture inside Homs

February 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

Courageous reporting from inside Syria by Al Jazeera’s Jane Ferguson.

The Syrian government has been blamed by opposition groups for imprisoning tens of thousands of protesters calling for reform since the uprising began in March 2011.

Rights groups beleive many of the prisoners have been tortured, some until death. Outside the prisons, the government has continued its military crackdowns protests, killing thousands of people across the country.

In the third part of a series of exclusive reports, Jane Ferguson goes inside Homs, one of the main targets of President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces.

Torture in Libya

January 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

It is a shame that Libya’s new rulers have failed so miserably to distinguish themselves from their predecessor.

The UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay has raised concerns about Libya’s armed brigades and the treatment of more than 8,500 detainees, majority of whom are from sub-Saharan Africa.

Addressing the UN Security Council on the situation in Libya, Pillay warned that, “lack of oversight by the central authorities creates an environment conducive to torture and ill treatment.” She urged the Libyan ministry of justice and the prosecutor’s office to take over the detention centres.

Guantánamo and Inflaming Passions in the Courthouse and the World

January 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

By Johnny Barber

Four members of Witness Against Torture were found guilty in a jury trial at D.C. Superior Court on January 5, 2012. The jury brought back guilty verdicts in the cases of defendants Brian Hynes of the Bronx, NY, Mike Levinson of White Plains, NY, Judith Kelly of Arlington, Virginia, and Carmen Trotta of New York City, NY. Josie Setzler of Fremont, Ohio was acquitted mid-trial after the prosecution’s witnesses failed to identify her.

The demonstrators were charged with one count of disorderly and disruptive conduct on Capitol grounds. The charges stemmed from protests against a Defense Appropriations Bill—a precursor to the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA)—that took place in the citizen’s gallery at the House of Representatives on June 23, 2011. The protests were in response to provisions in the bill that make it essentially impossible to close the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and that legalize indefinite detention.

Prior to the start of the trial, the Prosecutor Brandon Long asked District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher to disallow any statements regarding Guantánamo into the courtroom fearing that mentioning the detention center and the torture that occurred there “could possibly inflame the jury”. Judge Fisher readily agreed, saying, “Speaking about Guantánamo is inappropriate for the purposes of this trial.” Carmen Trotta responded that it was vital for him to mention Guantánamo Bay because “due process everywhere is being threatened and we have the privilege of due process here, right now.” The judge rejected Trotta’s argument, saying, he “does not want an improper politicization of the defendants’ charge.”

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Torture Makes a Comeback in the USA

June 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Are the Middle Ages really over?

The killing of Osama bin Laden should have provoked some healthy debate about the United States’ ongoing reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Was this manhunt worth the $3 trillion estimated by National Journal? Does our alliance structure guarantee the creation of more bin Laden-type threats? Has our military response to 9/11 hurt us and others more than it has helped?

Instead, the execution of bin Laden has launched a nostalgia craze for torture, whose great virtues, we are told, have been cruelly underappreciated. Torture, it is asserted, is what got us the intel that led to bin Laden, so killing him vindicates and redeems “enhanced interrogation.” And not only that: by limiting torture, Obama and his administration have made America much less safe, even if—and this part of the argument is mumbled quickly—they happen to be the ones who killed bin Laden. “Two Cheers for Enhanced Interrogation Techniques!” crows the neocon-Murdoch Weekly Standard, urging the president to thank CIA interrogators who helped “rid the world of evil.” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a principled foe of non-Irish terrorists, was blunter still, laying it down that waterboarding prisoners in 2003 “directly led” to finding (and shooting) bin Laden in 2011.

“Funny. You would think that if the CIA’s interrogation of high-value detainees was all it took, the US government would have succeeded in locating bin Laden before 2006, which is when the CIA’s custody of so-called ‘high-value detainees’ ended,” says Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. But first, the facts.

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Ellsberg: I’m not a traitor… nor is Manning

May 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Daniel Ellsberg, former U.S. military analyst who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 weighs in on if he thinks this has been a good or bad year for journalism.

Saudi-backed Bahraini regime continues to torture and kill

May 6, 2011 § 2 Comments

Bahrain’s totalitarian regime continues to kill, torture and harass and yet coverage in the international media remains rare.

Also see Physicians for Human Rights report on Bahraini persecution of doctors.

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Usama and the Murderous logic of the Israel-firster

May 2, 2011 § 3 Comments

People have drawn various conclusions from the assassination of Usama bin Laden in Abbotabad, a city where I spent part of my childhood. Robert Fisk and Rahimullah Yusufzai believe the death little more than give belated relevance to a figure made largely redundant by the recent Arab revolts. His significance to the transnational phenomenon known as Al Qaeda was largely symbolic. But in death, symbols always yield to myth and assume higher potency. To the extent that a threat exists to the US, it is unlikely that it will be effected by this death one way or the other. For the moment however, the main price will be paid by the Pakistani public which inevitably stands in the way of all blowback.

But neoconservatives and other elements of the Israel lobby have drawn different, if predictable, conclusions. First we have the dependable Alan Dershowtiz praising the killing because according to him it vindicates Israeli policy of extrajudicial murder. According to him ‘Israel developed the concept of targeted killings’ which is not only an ‘effective’ and ‘lawful’ tool, but also a ‘moral’ one! in the war against terrorism. Next we have Bill Kristol, who has issued a statement co-signed with Elizabeth Cheney through Keep America Safe, another one of his myriad letter head organizations (LHO), praising the assassination as a vindication of the torture regime. Interestingly, the theory was immediatley debunked by a somewhat unlikely source. Thus Donald Rumsfeld: ‘It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.’

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