Time to Act: End Sexual Violence as War Weapon and End Impunity to Indian Armed Forces in Kashmir

As the world looks to the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict as a ‘pioneering’ movement, we must speak against rape as a weapon of war in Kashmir, and foreground the survivors whose suffering you have neglected throughout the two-year high profile global campaign.

Women protesting in the Press Enclave, Lal Chowk, Srinagar, against the double rape and murder of Shaheed Aasiya and Shaheed Nilofar, from Shopian, by the Indian Occupation Army. 2009  Photo Credit: Bilal Bahadur
Women protesting in the Press Enclave, Lal Chowk, Srinagar, against the double rape and murder of Shaheed Aasiya and Shaheed Neelofar, from Shopian, by the Indian Occupation Army. 2009
Photo Credit: Bilal Bahadur

Rt Hon William Hague MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign & Commonwealth Office, UK

12 June, 2014

Time to Act: End Sexual Violence as War Weapon and End Impunity to Indian Armed Forces in Kashmir

Dear Foreign Secretary,

As the world looks to the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict as a ‘pioneering’ movement, we must speak against rape as a weapon of war in Kashmir, and foreground the survivors whose suffering you have neglected throughout the two-year high profile global campaign.

We are writing to ask you to support an independent international investigation into the rapes and sexual violence that continue to take place in Kashmir since 1989 as a weapon of war. Crimes of sexual violence and sexual torture against Kashmiris have been extensively documented by international human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Médecins Sans Frontière (Doctors Without Borders). According to one such report, “Rape in Kashmir: A Crime of War” (by Asia Watch of HRW and Physicians for Human Rights), Indian Armed Forces have used rape in Kashmir as a weapon of war to punish, intimidate, coerce, humiliate and degrade Kashmiri women and men. The Indian State grants its military forces occupying Kashmir legal impunity so that they cannot be prosecuted for rape and other violent crimes including murder. It is time for the international community to break its long and unconscionable silence over rapes in the internationally recognized disputed region of Kashmir.

Continue reading “Time to Act: End Sexual Violence as War Weapon and End Impunity to Indian Armed Forces in Kashmir”

Crimes Against Humanity

The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4 ran a segment on Amnesty International’s investigation of 88 deaths by torture in Syrian custody in recent months. The 88 include 10 children. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Thousands are missing. Following the report there’s an interview with Andrew Green, a former British ambassador to Syria, and with me. I agree with Andrew Green’s final comment, that the lack of a recognisable alternative to the regime constitutes a major obstruction in the way of the revolution. It does seem, however, that a consensus opposition council is now slowly emerging, including Syrians inside and outside the country, and of a broad range of political inclinations. Best of all, it seems that Burhan Ghalyoun is emerging as the opposition’s leader or figurehead. Ghalyoun is a popular secular intellectual. If Islamist voices are accepting him as a compromise figure, this is proof of their growing maturity.

Here’s the audio:

Amnesty International: Do the Media Aid Israel?

The following series of talks, on media coverage of Israel, was hosted by Amnesty International, who came under pressure to cancel the event. It was surprising to see reports that the Jewish division of the EDL had shown up at the meeting as I thought they’d been ejected from that noxious organisation for being too extreme. Perhaps they’ll set up there own Israeli Defence League instead: which would probably be more honest, and would cause less confusion about what to call them now.

The concerted Zionist campaign to smear the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) failed dismally last night as the two groups co-hosted one of their most successful public events to date. The topic up for discussion was “Complicity in Oppression – Does the Media Aid Israel?” The panellists consisted of Prof. Greg Philo who discussed his new book “More Bad News from Israel” (an excellent academic analysis of the media’s skewed coverage of news coming out of Palestine-Israel); Tim Llewellyn, former BBC Middle East correspondent, and Abdel Barri Atwan, expert Palestinian commentator on the Middle East. The discussion was chaired by Victoria Brittain, former associate foreign editor of the Guardian.

Prof. Greg Philo, co-author of Bad News from Israel and More Bad News from Israel

Continue reading “Amnesty International: Do the Media Aid Israel?”

On Gaza, Artists Speak Out

Terry Jones, Annie Lennox, Thandie Newton, Alexei Sayle, Mike Figgis, Katharine Hamnett and Jason Flemyng, voice their support for Amnesty International’s ongoing efforts to secure justice for both Palestinians and Israelis and make an impassioned plea for Israel to cease its illegal siege of Gaza. Find out more here.

The Assault on Wikileaks

You’ll be seeing plenty more of this in the days and months ahead. Wikileaks has been the target of black propaganda and dirty tricks since the day it released the Baghdad massacre video. Recently even Amnesty International (which brought you the Gulf War of 1991 with false claims about Iraqi soldiers throwing Kuwaiti babies out incubators) and Reporters without Borders (which was mighty outraged when Venezuela closes down a broadcaster invovled in an attempted coup, but seemed remarkably understanding when France shut down a Palestinian television channel) joined the Pentagon in the attempts to discredit Wikileaks, blaming it for endagering the lives of Afghan collaborators. It now emerges that the latest attempt to defame Julian Assange was another lie. The powers that be seem not to realize that as each propaganda sally misses the mark, Wikileaks’s stature grows further.

Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blower website Wikileaks, has categorically denied Swedish sexual abuse charges launched against him.

The country’s prosecution authority has dropped an arrest warrant for a rape charge, but a separate molestation accusation is still under investigation.

WikiLeaks has been criticised for leaking Afghan war documents.And despite warnings from the Pentagon, the website is preparing to release a fresh batch of classified documents.

In an exlusive interview with Al Jazeera, Assange said that the accusations are part of a “smear campaign” against him.

Dangerous game

Editor’s note: The campaign against Moazzam Beg and Amnesty International is led by the McCarthyite Harry’s Place, an Israel lobby operation that specializes in defaming critics of Israel and what it broadly labels as ‘Islamists’ (which according to its definition is any Muslim who is not Ayaan Hirsi Ali). It is also assisted by The Spittoon which is jointly run by members of the neoconservative Centre for Social Cohesion and the Quilliam Foundation. Like Harry’s Place, the Spittoon also uses the cover of anonymity to smear opponents. Both frequently crosspost each others material and coordinate their attacks.

by Victoria Brittain

Guantanamo jumpsuit detainees.

Two weeks ago in Leeds, I gave a peace lecture honouring Olof Palme, which ranged over wars old and new, the bombing of Dresden, Daniel Ellsberg, Wikileaks, Bloody Sunday, and the Turkish flotilla to Gaza. Afterwards I was approached by two young Muslim women. They wanted to discuss the issues raised in the lecture, but also to talk about how isolated they felt and how hard it is for them these days to talk about politics without fearing hostility and feeling that they are being seen as “terrorists”. In the following two days I talked with another young Muslim woman whose husband is on a Control Order, and who in desperation had broken its conditions and faced possible dire consequences.  I also went to see a Muslim woman whose husband is in prison accused of terror-related activities, and one of whose sons is in trouble. Three days…  four Muslim women…  The Leeds women came to my lecture because Moazzam Begg told them about it; the two London women I know because Moazzam Begg asked me to visit them some years back, to break their isolation; and he and I have visited the Control Order family together, with Home Office clearance.

Since he was released from Guantanamo, this has been his work – campaigning on behalf of those still held without trial or hope of justice, and doing what he can to help distraught wives and families.

At the centre of the bitter, feminist-led recent controversy over him and Amnesty International, is a completely false perception of his attitudes to women, based on the fact that he once worked in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Long-standing, complex and important debates on gender politics and religion have been shoe-horned into a simple demonisation of him.

Continue reading “Dangerous game”