Tunisia and the Spectre of Authoritarianism

By Rashad Ali

Following the death of a man in police custody, demonstrations against police brutality have spread throughout working class neighbourhoods in Tunisia’s capital of Tunis. The death of Ahmed bin Ammar two weeks ago, sparked protests and reactions across the society with people questioning the gains of the Democratic transition – especially after accusations of torture have been levelled against the Police. 

Protests in Tunisia are emblematic of the post-revolutionary political reality. While this shows that following the revolution and democratic transition, people enjoy a certain level of freedom of expression. However since January their focus has been police brutality. While this problem is not unique to Tunisia, since even established democracies have failed to eliminate police brutality. But there is some hope to be gained from the fact that people in the post-revolutionary phase have low tolerance for such things, that they are able to protest such actions, and that there has been a general decrease in police violence since the revolution.

In this latter sense, it is probably a good thing that post-Arab Spring Tunisians, on this issue at least, feel comfortable expressing their outrage at the police and the way they are being governed. 

But the protests were followed by arbitrary police arrests and then, perhaps worse, brazen police defence of their actions, and encouragement to save the office of the President, by the President, who instead of holding the Minister for Justice and Home Minister to account, lambasted them for not arresting more individuals for insulting him and bringing injury to his office (more later).

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Bosnia, Kosovo, Syria: Western Inaction and Radicalisation

By Rashad Ali

Since the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London, it has been commonplace to hear it argued that the “root cause” of terrorism is Western foreign policy: and specifically, the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Radicalisation is not monocausal. Ideological, personal and psychological factors all have a role to play in the process. But if we are to note the occasions where grievances related to Western military action have been used by Islamist demagogues, we should also acknowledge Western refusal to intervene as a recruiting sergeant for terrorism.

Think of the Bosnian and Kosovo tragedies. Think also about the current situation in Syria.

My political development began during the horrors that followed the dissolution of Yugoslavia. We watched the genocide in Bosnia unfold, on TV, before our eyes. It was this experience that led so many of my peers from radicalisation to political violence and Islamist extremism.

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Oliver Richmond – Peace-building and State-building

Full lecture of Professor of University of Manchester Oliver Richmond, in front of School of Politics, in Prishtina.

 

 

The Global South Unit for Mediation (GSUM) has the pleasure to present the interview with Prof. Oliver Richmond, Research Professor in International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manchester. In his interview, Richmond discusses the limitations and possibilities of transformation in traditional approaches on peacebuilding, as well as the role of institutions in the Global South, like GSUM, in the promotion of change. The interview was conducted during the third edition of the GSUM Winter School, organized in July 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, in which Oliver Richmond participated giving the course “Approaches to Peacebuilding”.

Everyday Peace: the extraordinary peacemaking skills of so-called “ordinary” people

In this inaugural lecture, Professor Roger Mac Ginty focuses on the conflict avoiding and reconciliation practices used in everyday life in deeply divided societies. Offering an alternative to the emphasis on top-down interventions by professional conflict resolution ‘experts’, Professor Mac Ginty considers how everyday peace skills can help prevent a divided society from tipping over into civil war. This lecture was delivered on 23rd October, 2013.

Daniel Ortega Recruits the Head of Donald Trump’s Bible Study

The move reflects both the social conservatism of the Nicaraguan government and its desire for relief from U.S. sanctions.

Screenshot_2019-09-04 (28) Dr Ralph Drollinger transmite mensaje de Paz en el 40 19 - YouTube

Amid thousands decked out in the red-and-black bandanas of a ruling party that once espoused the virtues of Marx and Lenin, a towering, evangelical gringo — the head of a weekly bible study at Donald Trump’s White House — took centerstage. Ralph Drollinger, a professional basketball player turned pastor, donning a suit in the muggy capital of Nicaragua, then sermonized on what it means to be “a Christian nation.”

The target of this July 19 mission trip was not the poor in this country of some 6 million, but the country’s ruling class: a U.S.-sanctioned government that invited him down to celebrate 40 years since the overthrow of a U.S.-backed dictator, following a popular uprising last year that nearly toppled it too.

“In the United States of America, we have found amongst our political leaders that it is essential they have a Bible teacher in their midst,” Drollinger said, his remarks airing on state-controlled TV. “And we are so blessed, Mr. President and Mrs. Vice President, about the opportunity that you see to do the same here in Managua.”

Continue reading “Daniel Ortega Recruits the Head of Donald Trump’s Bible Study”

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

As part of the Baugh Center Free Enterprise Forum, guest speaker Barbara Demick spoke on the topic of “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea.”

Barbara Demick’s book Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea is listed in the 100 Best Chinese, Japanese and Korean History Books

For Sama, Documentary Film Screenings

FOR SAMA was awarded the Prix L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It also won the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at the SXSW Film Festival, and the Special Jury Prize for International Feature Documentary at the Hot Docs Festival.

Resources

 

SCREENINGS + Q&A

New York, US: 20 September – Photoville

London, UK: 14 September – Bertha Dochouse

Dublin, Ireland: 13-19 September 2019 – Irish Film Institute

London, UK: 13 September – Picturehouse Central, including Q&A with directors.

Bristol, UK: 12 September – Watershed, including Q&A with directors.

London, UK: 11 September – Ritzy Picturehouse Brixton, including Q&A with directors.

London, UK: 11 September – Barbican, including Q&A with directors.

Connecticut, US: 10 September – University of Connecticut

London, UK: 10 September – NFT1, BFI , including Q&A with directors.

Cambridge, UK: 9 September – Arts Picturehouse, including Q&A with directors.

London, UK: 5 September – Ciné Lumière, including Q&A with directors.

Glasgow, UK: 4 September – GFT, including Q&A with directors.

Manchester, UK: 3 September – H.O.M.E, including Q&A with directors.

Helsinki: 2 September – Helsinki Int Film Festival

London, UK: 2 September – Curzon Soho, London, including Q&A with directors.

Samar Yazbek: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria (2015)

Samar Yazbek was a well-known journalist, a presenter on Syrian television and a celebrated novelist when she fell foul of the Assad regime, leaving her no choice but to flee. She was forced to watch from afar as a peaceful uprising turned into violent conflict and her country burned. This is from 2015.

Julian Assange Reveals: Holocaust Denier Is a Trusted ‘Friend’

Julian Assange barely even knows the far-right, Holocaust-denying Russian kook with six different names, the latest being “Israel Shamir.” That was the line in March 2011, per a statement from WikiLeaks, released amid what the head of the former transparency organization reportedly claimed was a Jewish-orchestrated campaign to smear him.

Israel Shamir has never worked or volunteered for WikiLeaks, in any manner, whatsoever. He has never written for WikiLeaks or any associated organization, under any name and we have no plan that he do so. He is not an ‘agent’ of WikiLeaks. He has never been an employee of WikiLeaks and has never received monies from WikiLeaks or given monies to WikiLeaks or any related organization or individual. However, he has worked for the BBC, Haaretz, and many other reputable organizations.

It is false that Shamir is ‘an Assange intimate’.

Months before, Julian Assange himself disputed this. In a letter from November 2010, just obtained by the Associated Press, the WikiLeaks founder wrote:

I, Julian Assange, hereby grant full authority to my friend, Israel Shamir, to both drop off and collect my passport, in order to get a visa, at the Russian Consulate, London.

A month later, Shamir would travel to Belarus, handing the pro-Russian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, U.S. diplomatic cables, obtained by WikiLeaks detailing America, interactions with Belarusian opposition figures, some of whom would end up arrested, or dead.

But we already knew Assange was intimately familiar with the odious Shamir; all one needed to do was read what those slandered as MSM smear-artists were reporting, credibly, at the time. For example, as former WikiLeaks staffer James Ball noted in a piece for The Guardian back in November 2011:

Shamir has a years-long friendship with Assange, and was privy to the contents of tens of thousands of US diplomatic cables months before WikiLeaks made public the full cache. Such was Shamir’s controversial nature that Assange introduced him to WikiLeaks staffers under a false name. Known for views held by many to be antisemitic, Shamir aroused the suspicion of several WikiLeaks staffers – myself included – when he asked for access to all cable material concerning “the Jews”, a request which was refused.

When questions were asked about Shamir’s involvement with WikiLeaks, given his controversial background and unorthodox requests, we were told in no uncertain terms that Assange would not condone criticism of his friend.

Assange would subsequently accuse his former colleague of making “libelous” accusations about him. But, despite electing to reside in Britain, rather than defend himself in Sweden from allegations of sexual assault, Assange did not take advantage of the country’s liberal defamation laws.

Thanks to a leak, we have a better idea why and further evidence that one should not blindly trust the public statements of political celebrities. The question now is not whether Assange is a serial liar prone to bouts of defamatory projection, but whether his friend, Israel Shamir, had an ulterior motive for providing U.S. cables to an ally of the Kremlin just weeks after the WikiLeaks founder had used him to request assistance from Russian officials.