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Western Asia ("Middle East")


Stop Arbitrary Detentions in Turkey!

The international public has so far been oblivious to the so-called “KCK operations” carried out in Turkey by Prime Minister Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party for the past two years. Under the guise of “fighting terrorism,” the Erdogan government has been using the judiciary, the police, and the media to penalize all civic activism in support of rights demanded by Kurdish citizens in Turkey. The “KCK operations” in particular have been deployed to spread fear amongst activists, to silence public dissent, and to normalize the arbitrary arrest of citizens. Ironically, the Erdogan government’s suppression of dissent and of democratic politics has visibly intensified at a time when “Turkish democracy” is being hailed as a model for the Arab world.

Since 2009, as many as 7748 people have been taken under custody on the alleged grounds that they are associated with the KCK—an organization claimed to be the urban branch of the armed organization known as the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party)—while 3895 people have been arrested and imprisoned without even the prospect of a trial in the foreseeable future. Elected mayors, public intellectuals, members of civic associations, journalists, university students, researchers, academics, and activists have all been undergoing this heavy-handed treatment.

One of the latest victims of the Erdogan government’s assault on public dissent is Professor Busra Ersanli of Marmara University, a highly respected academic. Her only apparent “crime” is to have played an active role within BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), which has been struggling for the rights of Kurdish citizens in Turkey. The members of this party have been systematically targeted by counterterrorism units’ arbitrary arrests, even as the party currently holds seats in the parliament. Professor Ersanli was to attend a conference on “Controversial Issues in the History of the Turkish Republic” at Istanbul Bilgi University on 29 October 2011, but she was taken under custody on 28 October. On the same day, Ragıp Zarakolu—a founding member of the Human Rights Association and the former chair of the “Writers in Prison Committee” of the International PEN organization in Turkey—was also taken under custody within the framework of the “KCK operations.”

Earlier in October 2011, Ayse Berktay (Hacimirzaoglu)—a renowned translator, researcher, and global peace and justice activist—was taken by the police from her home in Istanbul five o’clock in the morning and subsequently arrested. She still remains imprisoned for the foreseeable future. Professor Busra Ersanli, Ragip Zarakolu, and Ayse Berktay are among thousands of people who have been imprisoned and silenced in the last two years.

Under such political conditions that are only getting worse, it has become an urgent task to unmask the arbitrary and authoritarian character of the Turkish government's handling of the Kurdish issue. We are calling on friends abroad to spread the news and to build international pressure, which has become especially crucial and urgent at this time when any citizen of Turkey could be targeted by the Erdogan government, the judiciary, and the police for engaging in political acts of solidarity with those detained under the “KCK operations.”


Peace can never be achieved under the current conditions of public fear, paranoia, and authoritarian politics. Please sign the petition below to put pressure on the Turkish government to immediately release all those who have been taken under custody as part of the “KCK operations” and to demand that Prime Minister Erdogan’s government make a sincere commitment to ending its suppression of civic efforts in support of rights demanded by Kurdish citizens in Turkey.


SIGN HERE

The crime of making Americans aware of their own history

Is history getting too close for comfort for the fragile little American heart and mind? Their schools and their favorite media have done an excellent job of keeping them ignorant of what their favorite country has done to the rest of the world, but lately some discomforting points of view have managed to find their way into this well-defended American consciousness.

First, Congressman Ron Paul during a presidential debate last month expressed the belief that those who carried out the September 11 attack were retaliating for the many abuses perpetrated against Arab countries by the United States over the years. The audience booed him, loudly.

Then, popular-song icon Tony Bennett, in a radio interview, said the United States caused the 9/11 attacks because of its actions in the Persian Gulf, adding that President George W. Bush had told him in 2005 that the Iraq war was a mistake. Bennett of course came under some nasty fire. FOX News (September 24), carefully choosing its comments charmingly as usual, used words like "insane", "twisted mind", and "absurdities". Bennett felt obliged to post a statement on Facebook saying that his experience in World War II had taught him that "war is the lowest form of human behavior." He said there's no excuse for terrorism, and he added, "I'm sorry if my statements suggested anything other than an expression of love for my country." (NBC September 21)

Then came the Islamic cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, who for some time had been blaming US foreign policy in the Middle East as the cause of anti-American hatred and terrorist acts. So we killed him. Ron Paul and Tony Bennett can count themselves lucky.

What, then, is the basis of all this? What has the United States actually been doing in the Middle East in the recent past?

  • the shooting down of two Libyan planes in 1981
  • the bombing of Lebanon in 1983 and 1984
  • the bombing of Libya in 1986
  • the bombing and sinking of an Iranian ship in 1987
  • the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in 1988
  • the shooting down of two more Libyan planes in 1989
  • the massive bombing of the Iraqi people in 1991
  • the continuing bombings and draconian sanctions against Iraq for the next 12 years
  • the bombing of Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998
  • the habitual support of Israel despite the routine devastation and torture it inflicts upon the Palestinian people
  • the habitual condemnation of Palestinian resistance to this
  • the abduction of "suspected terrorists" from Muslim countries, such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Albania, who were then taken to places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where they were tortured
  • the large military and hi-tech presence in Islam's holiest land, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region
  • the support of numerous undemocratic, authoritarian Middle East governments from the Shah of Iran to Mubarak of Egypt to the Saudi royal family
  • the invasion, bombing and occupation of Afghanistan, 2001 to the present, and Iraq, 2003 to the present
  • the bombings and continuous firing of missiles to assassinate individuals in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, and Libya during the period of 2006-2011

It can't be repeated or emphasized enough. The biggest lie of the "war on terrorism", although weakening, is that the targets of America's attacks have an irrational hatred of the United States and its way of life, based on religious and cultural misunderstandings and envy. The large body of evidence to the contrary includes a 2004 report from the Defense Science Board, "a Federal advisory committee established to provide independent advice to the Secretary of Defense." The report states:

"Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy."

The report concludes: "No public relations campaign can save America from flawed policies." (Christian Science Monitor, November 29, 2004)

The Pentagon released the study after the New York Times ran a story about it on November 24, 2004. The Times reported that although the board's report does not constitute official government policy, it captures "the essential themes of a debate that is now roiling not just the Defense Department but the entire United States government."

"Homeland security is a rightwing concept fostered following 9/11 as the answer to the effects of 50 years of bad foreign policies in the middle east. The amount of homeland security we actually need is inversely related to how good our foreign policy is." – Sam Smith, editor of The Progressive Review

Why don't Arabs love Obama anymore?

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama isn't living up to his promises in the Middle East, and it's driving Arab attitudes toward the United States to their lowest point in years, analysts say.

In a Zogby International poll released last week, respondents in four out of six countries surveyed had a lower opinion of the United States than at the end of the Bush administration in 2008.

The feeling among many in the region is that no American president can bring about change, James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute and a senior adviser at the eponymous polling firm, said Tuesday.

Citing conversations he had in the region during the polling, Zogby said, "There was this sense that it's a fundamentally broken system, that (the U.S.) can't do the right thing."

US more unpopular in the Arab world than under Bush

From Glenn Greenwald:

From the Washington Post:

Two and a half years after Obama came to office, raising expectations for change among many in the Arab world, favorable ratings of the United States have plummeted in the Middle East, according to a new poll conducted by IBOPE Zogby International for the Arab American Institute Foundation.

In most countries surveyed, favorable attitudes toward the United States dropped to levels lower than they were during the last year of the Bush administration.

From the full report:

With the 2008 election of Barack Obama, favorable attitudes toward the U.S. more than doubled in many Arab countries. But in the two years since his famous “Cairo speech,” ratings for both the U.S. and the President have spiraled downwards. The President is seen overwhelmingly as failing to meet the expectations set during his speech, and the vast majority of those surveyed disagree with U.S policies.   

In five out of the six countries surveyed, the U.S. was viewed less favorably than Turkey, China, France—or Iran. Far from seeing the U.S. as a leader in the post-Arab Spring environment, the countries surveyed viewed “U.S. interference in the Arab world” as the greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East, second only to the continued Palestinian occupation.

While the vehemence of Arab reaction to the U.S. was startling, the general sentiment echoed points made in AAI President James Zogby’s 2010 book Arab Voices, in which he reflected on Arab opinions of both the U.S. and our foreign policies. “American democracy [seems] a lot like damaged goods to many Arabs… U.S. policy in the region has increasingly undermined Arab attitudes toward America as a global model.”

Executive Summary

• After improving with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, U.S. favorable ratings across the Arab world have plummeted. In most countries they are lower than at the end of the Bush Administration, and lower than Iran's favorable ratings (except in Saudi Arabia).

• The continuing occupation of Palestinian lands and U.S. interference in the Arab world are held to be the greatest obstacles to peace and stability in the Middle East.

• While many Arabs were hopeful that the election of Barack Obama would improve U.S.-Arab relations, that hope has evaporated. Today, President Obama's favorable ratings across the Arab world are 10% or less.

• Obama's performance ratings are lowest on the two issues to which he has devoted the most energy: Palestine and engagement with the Muslim world.

• The U.S. role in establishing a no-fly zone over Libya receives a positive rating only in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, but, as an issue, it is the lowest priority.

• The killing of bin Laden only worsened attitudes toward the U.S.

• A plurality says it is too early to tell whether the Arab Spring will have a positive impact on the region. In Egypt, the mood is mixed. Only in the Gulf States are optimism and satisfaction levels high.

Download the Poll Download the PDF

June 20th World Refugee Day

And least we not forget the millions of refugee's created in our names, the U.S., over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as area's of Pakistan!

 

World Refugee Day

 

World Refugee Day on 20 June – a day like any other?

 

Ten Refugees, One Journey

 

Egypt's Mubarak, sons to be tried August 3

By Dina Zayed, Reuters

CAIRO (Reuters) - Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, overthrown by a popular uprising this year, was ordered on Wednesday to stand trial in August for the killing of protesters on charges that could carry the death penalty.

Mubarak, ousted on February 11 after mass protests demanding an end to his 30 years in power, has been questioned about his role in a crackdown in which more than 840 demonstrators died, as well as about alleged corruption.

He could face the death penalty if convicted on the charge of "pre-mediated killing."

His two sons, Alaa and Gamal, once viewed as being groomed for the presidency, will also stand trial alongside their father and prominent business executive Hussein Salem.

Judge Sayed Abdel-Azim, the head of the appeals court, said the trial would open on August 3 in a Cairo criminal court.

Suleiman: Mubarak Knew Of Killings

By William Fisher, Public Record

The man who was Hosni Mubarak’s Vice President and Egypt’s top spy is telling prosecutors that the aging dictator was aware that his security services were firing at peaceful protestors during the January 25 uprisings in Tahrir Square and elsewhere.

Testimony by Omar Suleiman could constitute key evidence against Mubarak, who will be tried for murder in the deaths of anti-government activists. Suleiman, a longtime Mubarak confidante, was appointed vice president in the waning days of the Mubarak regime and helped orchestrate the president’s resignation.

HUNDREDS OF BAHRAINIS JOIN U.S. CAMPAIGN AGAINST U.S. SUPPORT FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF BAHRAIN

NEW YORK, N.Y., May 24 2011 -- In a response that surprised U.S. organizers of a campaign calling on the United States government to repudiate its partnership with the Al Khalifa regime in Bahrain, hundreds of people from Bahrain joined in signing the Campaign for Peace and Democracy's launching statement "End U.S. Support for Bahrain's Repressive Government."

"The statement was originally circulated for signatures in the United States, but we have been deeply moved by the fact that hundreds of Bahrainis have added their names," said Joanne Landy, CPD Co-Director. "Given the violent government crackdown in Bahrain, the very act of signing is incredibly courageous. Bahraini signers have implored us to pressure the Obama administration to decisively repudiate its support of their brutal and authoritarian government."

Obama Should Follow His Own Advice on the 'Moral Force' of Non-Violence

Given that President Obama daily authorizes the firing of hellfire missiles and the dropping of cluster bombs in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, it was awful odd seeing him wax eloquent this week about the “moral force of non-violence” in places like Egypt and Tunisia.

Kucinich: “Important to Critically Analyze what the President Does, not what he Says.”

Washington D.C. (May 19, 2011) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today issued the following response to President Obama’s speech at the State Department regarding the so-called Arab Spring:

“We all want to be supportive of our President as he attempts to broaden America's positive role in the Middle East and North Africa. But it is important to critically analyze what the President does, not what he says, when it comes to U.S. policy abroad. When the President says ‘[i]t will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy,’ we must look more carefully at how this policy has been implemented as well as the implications of the actions that have already been taken.

Oh, I guess civilians could be affected too

Occupational Lung Diseases in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans

ScienceDaily (May 18, 2011) — A session presented May 18 explored the inhalational exposures and respiratory outcomes of military deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Presenters reviewed current knowledge on complex inhalational exposures, epidemiologic studies, animal toxicology studies, and clinical lung findings in U.S. military men and women who are returning from Southwest Asia.

How Obama Arms Dictators

Obama’s Reset: Arab Spring or Same Old Thing?
How the President and the Pentagon Prop Up Both Middle Eastern Despots and American Arms Dealers

By Nick Turse

If you follow the words, one Middle East comes into view; if you follow the weapons, quite another.

End U.S. Support for Bahrain's Repressive Government

Sign this statement here.

On Feb. 13, 2011, inspired by the forced resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, peaceful democratic protests erupted in Bahrain. Protests grew and, in response, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa invited other Gulf states to send security forces into the country to assist in violently suppressing the demonstrators. The March 15 invasion by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates brought an intensification of torture, secret trials, demolition of Shia mosques, and repression against human rights activists, journalists, labor, lawyers, medical professionals, students, political figures, and others. On March 18 the regime destroyed the Pearl Monument that had served as the protest center.

Prominent Human Rights Activist Threatened with Rape

URGENT ACTION: Human Rights Activist in Danger as Court Looks the other Way
After refusing to apologize on camera to the King:
Prominent Human Rights Activist Threatened with Rape

Joint Statement of the BCHR and BYSHR

Today at the 3rd hearing of the 21 defendants standing trial for charges including attempting to topple the government, former MENA Coordinator of Frontline Defenders and Former President of the Bahrain Centre of Human Rights, Mr. Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was removed from court. This happened immediately after he spoke at the beginning of the trial saying that he was threatened with rape after he refused to apologize to the King on Camera. He also told the judge that he had complained to the court in the previous session that he had been threatened and that the court had not done anything to secure his safety. The court judge refused to listen to these statements and Mr. Alkhawaja was ordered out of the court room even though he said that was all he wanted to say.

Is this Bradley Manning's future?

Nuclear whistleblower asks to renounce citizenship

By BEN HARTMAN, 07/05/2011
Mordechai Vanunu tells 'Post' no country has offered him asylum but that if he is allowed to leave "I will get on first flight anywhere out of here."

Nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu on Saturday demanded that Israel rescind his citizenship in keeping with a new law that strips Israelis convicted of treason of their citizenship.

In a letter written to Interior Minister Eli Yishai and released to the media on Saturday Vanunu, a Beersheba native, says "I have no interest in Israeli citizenship, I don't want to go on living here." Rest of the article at the Jerusalem Post

Vanunu Mordechai's letter.

May 5TH 2011

To:
MK Mr. Eli Yishai

Minister of Interior

The State of Israel

Re: Revoking my Israeli Citizenship

I am Mordechai Vanunu that was kidnapped from Rome on September 30, 1986 by The Israeli Secret Services.

I was tried by The Jerusalem District Court and convicted of Aggravated Espionage, High Treason and Assisting the Enemy and I was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. This followed an interview I gave to The London Sunday Times regarding the secret production of nuclear weapons materials in Israel.

I fulfilled the democratic principal of the right of the public to know.

I have served 18 years in Ashkelon Prison, mostly in solitary confinement.

I was released on 21 April 2004 with severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli Government.
Seven years past and the restrictions had been renewed again and again relying on The Emergency Laws from 1945.

Since my release I have lived 6 years in East Jerusalem and since September 2010 I live in Tel Aviv.

Blogger Disappeared in Bahrain

This letter is from SAID YOUSIF ALMUHAFDAH, a blogger and human rights activist from Bahrain.

Thanks in Advance

Date: 2011/4/26
journalist arrested in Bahrain

Dear Frineds

Please not that the police arrested the well known bloger and journalist in alwasatnewspaper mr haidar alnayme two days ago on 24-04-2011 , and we dont knwo his place , his family didnt get the chance to visit him or call him he is disapear

please find the below details from Committee to Protect Journalists

if you need any information about him or family contact let me know

Best Regards

Said yousif

Bahrain center for human rights

Death of fourth person in ten days in Bahrain detention centers

From: SAID YOUSIF ALMUHAFDAH
Date: 2011/4/14
Subject: Death of fourth person in ten days in Bahrain detention centers

Dear Friends,

The fourth death in detention in 10 days yesterday, source: AlWefaq. Kareem Fakhrawi was a businessman who disappeared after he went to the police station to file a complaint. He was one of the founders of AlWasat Newspaper and was on the board of directors. You can see the footage of his body which shows torture marks here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z3hoDO_Lfg The only official statement was on the Bahrain News Agency twitter account he died from liver failure complications: https://twitter.com/#!/bna_ar/status/57938447310131200.

19 Human Rights Organizations Severely Condemn The Continuous Crackdown on Human Rights Defenders in Bahrain: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/3913.

RALLY IN SOLIDARITY WITH ALL PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENTS ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle Eastern and North African Diaspora Rally to Demonstrate Solidarity with All Pro-Democracy and Human Rights Movements across the Middle East and North Africa

(WASHINGTON DC, 04/23/11) – Hundreds of members of the Middle Eastern and North African diapora and human rights activists will rally to support the efforts of pro-democracy movements across the Middle East and North Africa.

WHAT: Solidarity with All Pro-Democracy and Human Rights Movements across the Middle East and North Africa Rally

WHEN: Saturday, April 23, 1:00 P.M.

WHERE: Dupont Circle (traffic circle), Washington, DC

WHO: The Middle Eastern and North African Diaspora Coalition

Letter to Obama From Bahrain

From Angry Arabiya

Mr. President,

Why are U.S. Wars on the Middle East Wrong?

Are the U.S. Wars on the Middle East Wrong Because They Cost so Much?

Or are they just wrong, immoral, unjust, and against humanity's interests?

U.S. occupations, bombs, and secret operations have wreaked havoc in the Middle East since 2001, sold to the public on the basis of being in the “United States' national interest.”

Rolling Stone reported that in 2010 the 5th Stryker Brigade’s “Kill Team” went on a shooting spree, killing unarmed Afghan civilians and mutilating corpses for fun, while US NATO bombing raids kill even more civilians this year than last. The U.S. detains hundreds of Afghans in Bagram, without charges, lawyers, or rights...and Guantanamo remains open, in spite of Obama’s declaration over two years ago that he would close it as a stain on America’s conscience.

Please Stop Burning Korans

DUBAI, UAE -- I was on my way to Afghanistan and have delayed the final leg of the trip a day to see whether being American is compatible with not getting blown up. The problem seems to be that, in addition to the U.S. military occupying the country for almost a decade and routinely murdering random innocent people, some bigoted jerk in Florida is creating a big stink about how much he hates Islam and enjoys burning copies of the Koran.

The Koran-burning preacher claims that he's just burned a book, not killed anyone. Of course, nothing excuses those who actually engage in killing, no matter what inspired their rage. But the preacher hasn't just burned a book. He's preached hatred. He's added deep insult to injury. The results were predictable, or at the very least are predictable now, while he shows no sign of relenting.

Refugee's: 27.5 million From Violence

Report: 27.5 million uprooted by violence

 

March 23, 2011 - The number of people around the world uprooted by conflict or violence and displaced within their country has increased to 27.5 million, the highest figure in the last decade, according to a new report released Wednesday.

The report by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, established by the Norwegian Refugee Council in 1998 at the U.N.'s request, said close to three million people in 20 countries were newly displaced by conflict or violence in 2010 including 1.2 million in Africa.

 

American and British arms used to kill peaceful Bahrainis

From the Bahrain Freedom Movement

Save Bahrain from Saudi occupation

The use of the American-made and supplied Apache helicopter gunships, the British-made and supplied tear gas canisters and guns and various other weapons has exposed the catastrophic moral and ethical downfall of all involved in the attack on the unarmed civilians of Bahrain. The Saudi invasion that started on Monday 14th March is a replica of the invasion of Saddam Hussain’s invasion of Kuwait on 2nd August 1990. If that invasion was wrong, how could the Saudi occupation of Bahrain be right? The world community is thus duty bound to end this occupation. The latest episode of the all out war started at around 4.00 am GMT Sunday 13th March with massive attacks from the air and land at the peaceful protesters at the Pearl Square, many of whom were asleep. They were hit with salvo of tear and nerve gases, live ammunition and rubber bullets. Hundreds have so far been injured and many killed.

AUDIO: Lt. Gen. Tad J. Oelstrom Opposes No Fly Zone

High Stakes, ElectricPolitics

An F-16 taking off from Aviano airbase in ItalyThe Obama administration has yet to explain, apart from vague humanitarian concerns, whether a direct U.S. national security interest is at stake in Libya's internal strife. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton is waffling her way toward war. What this could ultimately entail remains unknown but given yesterday's affirmative vote in the UN Security Council some sort of intervention is bound to materialize. To talk about a no fly zone and related issues I turned to Lt. Gen. Tad J. Oelstrom (USAF, Ret.), a veteran combat pilot and prominent national security expert. Before our conversation I had no advance knowledge whatsoever of the General's views — I was pleased, then, to find we see things very much in the same way. Total runtime forty four minutes. War is not for amateurs.

Listen

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