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Our emergency international delegation to Honduras, organized from the United States by CODEPINK, Global Exchange and Non-Violence International, began its fact-finding mission in the wake of the June 28 coup that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya.
We started out with a briefing by the Network of Sustainable Development (Red de Desarrollo Sostenible, a 15-year-old organization devoted to the exchange of information about sustainable development. It has now become a center for exchanging information about the coup. Using blogspot, facebook, twitter, myspace, flickr and youtube, the Network's network is abuzz with hour-by-hour accounts of political developments. Their communication system has become a critical way for Honduras to get information, since the coup leaders have muzzled the press.
The Network has a history of being objective and staying above politics, but the staff is outraged by the coup. "This was just over the top," said National Coordinator Raquel Isaura, who is being targeted by the right for some anti-coup internet messages posted under her name. "A military coup in this day and age must be condemned by all sectors of civil society." Read more.
The Lingering Effects of Torture
After Guantanamo, Scientists and Advocates Study Detainees
By Devin Powell | Inside Science News Service via ABCNews | Link features ABC's Jake Tapper's first video interview with Algerian Lakhdar Boumediene.
Like many of the other inmates interrogated at Guantanamo Bay, Adeel's personal nightmare did not end when he returned home.
Today, in his native Pakistan, the sound of approaching footsteps or the sight of someone in a uniform can trigger bad memories and set off a panic attack. The former teacher and father of five now thinks of himself as a suspicious and lonely person.
"I feel like I am in a big prison and still in isolation. I have lost all my life," he told psychologists working for the non-profit Physicians for Human Rights. They diagnosed him as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe depression.
Newly emerging research on large numbers of torture survivors shows that anecdotal stories like these are common and suggests that "psychological" forms of torture -- often thought to be milder than the direct infliction of physical pain -- can in fact have serious long-term mental health consequences.
Adeel's story is similar to those of other prisoners who may be released this year as President Obama pushes to close the facility. Adeel spent four years in U.S. custody, first at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility in Afghanistan and then at Guantanamo -- and was freed in 2006, never having been charged with a crime. Read More
Denounce the Human Rights Abuses in Honduras | Press Release
WASHINGTON - June 30 - The situation in Honduras turned violent when over 10,000 people gathered in the streets to protest the coup Monday evening. Using tear gas, high-powered water and guns (it is still not clear whether soldiers were armed with rubber bullets or otherwise) many people were wounded and there has been one confirmed death in the capital, Tegucigalpa. In the capital, pro-coup marches are occurring, defended by the police and national guard. As of Tuesday morning, the resistance movement to the coup is gathering in Tegucigalpa, to determine how and where to take to the streets. Therefore, there is anticipation of violence today, as soldiers are expected to react violently today to protesters as they did yesterday.
Sixty years ago, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson left Washington to pursue what he later called "the most important, enduring, and constructive work of [his] life": prosecuting international war crimes committed during WWII. Justice Jackson helped usher in a new international regime that promised to help deter human rights abuses.
Unfortunately, Jackson's achievements have proven less enduring than he hoped. Our nation continues to undermine international law by sweeping torture under the rug, with serious implications going forward.
The Nuremberg Trials established a timeless principle: individuals are criminally liable for violating fundamental human rights, even if their governments authorized those violations. Some laws, Nuremberg held, transcend those of any nation.
Israel committed war crimes and carried out reckless attacks and acts of wanton destruction in its Gaza offensive, an independent human rights report says.
Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed using high-precision weapons, while others were shot at close range, the group Amnesty International says.
Its report also calls rocket attacks by Palestinian militants war crimes and accuses Hamas of endangering civilians.
The Israeli military says its conduct was in line with international law.
Israel has attributed some civilian deaths to "professional mistakes", but has dismissed wider criticism that its attacks were indiscriminate and disproportionate.
Amnesty says some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the 22-day Israeli offensive between 27 December 2008 and 17 January 2009, which agrees broadly with Palestinian figures. Read more.
Recently, reports surfaced that President Obama is drafting an executive order that would authorize a regime of indefinite detention without charge. Indefinite detention without charge is one of the most egregious of all human rights violations and is a hallmark of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes the world over. A handful of White House lawyers are now attempting to erase a bedrock principle of American justice by the stroke of a pen, without even the fig leaf of congressional approval. There's a clear alternative, and that is standard American justice: either charge detainees and give them a fair trial in US federal court, or release them. We need you to help change President Obama's mind–he needs to hear that millions of Americans care enough about this issue to speak out. Send the email or—even better—use our sample letter to write your own.
We've uncovered more than 100,000 pages that show both that hundreds of prisoners were tortured in U.S. custody, and that the torture policies were devised and developed at the highest levels of the Bush administration -- yet there remains debate on whether or not the government will hold those who authorized torture accountable.
Make sure Attorney General Holder sees the evidence. Send him a selection from the thousands of pages of government documents that the ACLU has uncovered, and demand that the Justice Department appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate. Read more.
The American Civil Liberties Union will file a brief tomorrow urging the federal court to suppress evidence gathered using torture, which the government wants to rely on in the case of Mohammed Jawad, the boy who “confessed” to throwing a grenade at U.S. soldiers after being arrested and tortured by Afghan authorities in 2002, then turned over to U.S. authorities for more abuse.
Also tomorrow, after numerous delays, the Obama administration is expected to produce a much-anticipated 2004 CIA inspector general’s report with more details and criticism of the Bush administration’s interrogation tactics.
As I explained in my last post on the Jawad case, the Obama administration is trying to keep holding Jawad — who’s been in U.S. custody without charge for almost seven years — based on those tortured confessions, which even a military judge previously deemed too unreliable to use in his military commission case.
The ACLU will argue tomorrow that the federal judge in Jawad’s habeas corpus case should rule that evidence gathered through torture is still too unreliable — and therefore inadmissible — to be the basis for continuing to keep him in prison indefinitely. Read More.
That there are no circumstances that can justify torture, is a basic premise among those who work tirelessly to end the practice.
Five persons dedicated to achieving that goal gave testimony June 25, before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) on Capitol Hill. Three had been subjected to torture in their lives, one endured the psychological trauma of a family member tortured, and the fifth witness has been directly involved with implementing the international treaty, Convention Against Torture.
According to a 2001 Amnesty International report, torture is “widespread” in more than 70 countries; people in 80 countries have died as a result of torture; and AI has documented cases of torture in more than 150 countries, including the U.S. The issue has recently gained notoriety in the United States, over the Bush administration advocating interrogation procedures for prisoners of the “War on Terror” that violated international human rights law.
“As a member of Congress and an American citizen, it is very painful for me that my government over the past few years condoned the use of torture in a cruel, degrading, and inhumane treatment of prisoners,” said Congressman James McGovern (D-Massachusetts) in his opening commentary on the hearing. McGovern said he had “faith” that the “Obama administration is moving the country in the right direction.” Read more.
Israeli forces killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians and destroyed thousands of Gaza Strip homes in attacks that amounted to war crimes, Amnesty International charged Thursday, in the first in-depth human rights group report on the recent war in Gaza.
Amnesty called on Israel to publicly pledge not to use artillery, white phosphorus and other imprecise weapons in densely populated areas. And it urged Gaza's militant Hamas rulers to stop rocket fire against Israeli civilians — attacks it also described as war crimes.
Israel and Hamas both denounced the report as unbalanced. Israel charged that Amnesty "succumbed to the manipulations of the Hamas terror organization" and Hamas accused the rights group of downplaying the scale of the destruction Israel left behind. Read more.
Commentary: U.S. dollars could kill Iran's protest movement
By Hamid Dabashi | CNN
On a number of occasions and in perfectly pitched and calibrated statements, President Obama has expressed his unequivocal support for the civil rights movement in Iran without appearing to interfere in Iranian domestic affairs.
This has been particularly admirable given the pressure that is coming his way from a U.S. Congress that -- up until the night before the Iranian presidential election -- was discussing even more severe economic sanctions on Iran, which would have hurt precisely the young men and women the legislators now seem too eager to support.
Obama can help this budding seed of hope for civil liberties even more emphatically by altogether cutting the budget "to promote democracy in Iran," evidently channeled through the U.S. Agency for International Development. Ken Dilanian of USA Today reports, "the Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents."
This financial aid is not only a waste of taxpayer money under these severe economic circumstances, but is in fact the surest way to kill that inborn and grassroots movement. Read more.
George Galloway, British MP, spoke out strongly in support of the cause of a free Palestine. He ripped into Israel’s military siege of Gaza, along with its ongoing blockade, which continues to put 1.7 million of its residents at grave risk to their health and safety. Galloway said the people of Gaza “are locked up.” He also traced the history of Palestine, the evils of the British Empire and the massive crime of Colonialism. He referred to Israel as “an Apartheid State.” The event, entitled, “Viva Palestina: A Lifeline from the U.S. to Gaza,” was held on the campus of American U., in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening, June 28, 2009. It was a fundraiser “for a special U.S. convoy, which will travel from New York City to Egypt before making its way across the Rafah border into Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid,” according to the organizer’s press release. Galloway, who is also an author, is in the finest tradition of another legendary British MP, and champion of justice, liberty and humanity--John Wilkes. Check out: GeorgeGalloway.com.
Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society, served as the moderator of the affair. For more info on this fundraiser, its sponsors and the critically important convoy to Gaza, see the links to the side of each video at YouTube.
Meet "04-309." I don't know his name--DOD redacted that from the reports on detainee deaths it released to ACLU some time ago. "04-309" is the number DOD assigned to the autopsy they did on him in Mosul on April 26, 2004, just two days before the Abu Ghraib story broke.
When 04-309 was captured by Navy Seals around April 2, 2004, he was around 27, a "well-developed, well-nourished" man, 6 foot and 190 pounds. He had no visible scars. He was, apparently, healthy.
04-309 did, however, show signs of minor injury: cuts and bruises around his head and belly and right shoulder and arm. These wounds may have come when he was arrested--his autopsy summary says "Q by NSWT [Navy Seals], struggled/interrogated" before it describes he, "died sleeping."
But 04-309's Final Autopsy Report--completed on November 22, 2004, long after Abu Ghraib broke and the CIA's Inspector General concluded the CIA's interrogation program was cruel and inhumane (though not all that long after a criminal investigation of homicides committed in 2002 concluded, on October 8, 2004, that the deaths were partly caused by sleep deprivation and stress positions)--doesn't conclude how he died. It does, however, describe these "circumstances of death:" Read more.
"THE ASCENDENCY of OBAMA..." and the Continued Need for Resistance and Liberation"
A D I A L O G U E b e t w e e n CORNEL WEST & CARL DIX and the Continued Need for Resistance and Liberation"
JULY 14, TUESDAY, 7:00 pm
Harlem Stage at Aaron Davis Hall
150 Convent Ave at W. 135th Street
CORNEL WEST is one of America's most provocative public intellectuals and has been a champion for racial justice since childhood. His writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the traditions of the black Baptist Church, progressive politics, and jazz. The New York Times has praised his "ferocious moral vision." Dr. West currently teaches at Princeton University.
CARL DIX is a longtime revolutionary and a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. In 1970 Carl was one of the Fort Lewis 6, six GI's who refused orders to go to Vietnam. He served two years in Leavenworth Military Penitentiary for this stand. In the aftermath of the 1985 bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia, Carl initiated the Draw the Line statement, a powerful condemnation of the attack. He co-founded the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality in 1996. Carl coordinated the Katrina hearings of the 2006 Bush Crimes Commission. Map & More
Young women and girls account for one-eighth of the world's population. And even though many are the primary caregivers and breadwinners in their household -- most still do not enjoy even basic human rights.
This situation is especially acute in Afghanistan, where despite efforts by the U.S. government, the United Nations, and others to improve the lives of women and girls, many still lack access to basic health care and schools. Many face violence and intimidation, daily. And Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.
You can ensure these basic rights for the women of Afghanistan by asking your senator to support The Afghan Women Empowerment Act introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
Not long after the statue of Saddam fell in Firdos Square, several CODEPINK women and I returned to Iraq. We'd first visited in February during the time Bush proclaimed, "The game is over" and announced his plans for "shock and awe." We'd learned then how much Iraqis loved Americans and did not want our disrupting their country; they asked us to let them deal with Saddam because the change had to come from within or it could be a disaster. We fell in love with Iraq and felt totally safe there, taking cabs in the wee hours of the morning, walking at 2 a.m. on the Tigress and driving to many parts of the country.
Returning a few months later, however, we found the country devastated. Bustling markets were empty, the streets were those of a ghost town. Electricity was rare if at all and gas lines were miles long. U.S. soldiers in Humvees sped down the streets with an embarrassing arrogance. Jerry Bremer had just arrived and had issued 100 edicts that infuriated every Iraqi. The story on the street was that it only took Saddam a month to get the country back in shape after the Gulf War, thus, impatience and anger toward the U.S. were growing. Over and over, we heard from Iraqis, "We had one Saddam and now we have hundreds."
We were in Iraq to see how to support women in the transition, going to meeting after meeting of how they were going to be included. Zainab Salbi from the non-profit peace group Women for Women International (W4WI) was in many of those meetings with us, including a reception that Bremer threw inside the Coalition Provisional Authority, now the Green Zone. Her father was Saddam's pilot and her mother had sent her to the U.S. to marry out of concern for her safety. I talked to Zainab a few days ago to learn about her most recent trip to Iraq.
"In six years they have destroyed Iraq," her eyes teared as she began to tell me what she found. She used the image of a pen trying to balance on the tip of her finger to describe Iraq now: balancing but very unstable. Since she was there last it is a bit safer. Women who had been in exile and hiding for four years were starting to reemerge. But more than 70 percent of the women are not sending their daughters to school. I asked her about the women from the Bremer reception, 20 women have been killed and most others are gone. Read more.
NYC Protests Israeli Piracy & Kidnapping of Free Gaza Boat "Spirit of Humanity" Tomorrow, 7/1, 4-6 PM Israeli Consulate
Against Israeli Piracy & Kidnapping
Free Cynthia McKinney and all kidnapped human rights workers!
WEDNESDAY 4-6 PM
ISRAELI MISSION - Consulate General of Israel in New York Map
800 Second Avenue
(Second Avenue @ 43rd St.)
New York City, NY 10017
- Free Gaza Live - provided GPS updates.
- Twitter Updates: Free Gaza Twitter; IsraelConsulate Twitter
- Dublin Protest Tomorrow
- ABC News: Israeli Navy Commandeers Gaza Aid Boat
- al Jazerra Report: Israel stops aid ship to Gaza
- CBS News: Activist: Israeli Navy Turns Back Gaza Aid Boat
- China View: AL Chief condemns Israeli offensive on "Spirit of Humanity"
- CNN: Israel navy intercepts boat with ex-U.S. Rep. McKinney
- Fox News: Cynthia McKinney Demands Immediate Release After Her Gaza-Bound Boat is Seized by Israeli Navy
- Huff Po: Cynthia McKinney On Board Gaza Aid Boat Intercepted By Israeli Navy
- Int'l JPost: Free Gaza boat stopped by Navy
- Jordan Times: Peace activists set sail for besieged coastal enclave
- MSNBC: Israeli navy commandeers Gaza aid boat
- Palestine Telegraph: The Spirit of HUMANITY's 21 and the Spirit that Preceded it
- Reuters: Israeli navy takes control of activist ship to Gaza
- Flicker gallery containing pictures of the boats and the deplorable conditions being endured by the Palestinian people.
Last night, Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.
Disbar Torture Lawyers Press Conference - National Press Club, DC - June 29, 2009
More videos below.
Witch Hunts and Torture
Western religious history can shed some useful light on today’s discussion of ‘enhanced interrogation’ — or as they referred to such practices back in the 15th century, torture.
By Mary Zeiss Stange | USAToday
Former POW John McCain knows torture, and he has consistently condemned its use by government agents. Nonetheless, in April he warned that any probe into the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques would amount to a "witch hunt." The senator was surely unaware of the considerable historical irony involved in his invoking this phrase.
Viewed objectively, the original witch hunts shed significant light on the current debate about the uses of torture. Conducted under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church, the Inquisition, and more particularly that aspect of it known as the Witchcraze, was the most spectacular case of systematic torture in Western religious history. It lasted roughly from the 15th through the 17th centuries in Europe, and it offers definitive proof that if reliable information is what you are after, torture is not a good way to get it.
If invoking religious precedent seems an odd way to resolve the question of whether torture is ever acceptable, it is sobering to note that according to a recently released poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a majority of regularly attending American churchgoers say it is. Questioned by the Associated Press as to whether Jesus would condone torture, conservative commentator Gary Bauer has speculated that Jesus himself, being the Son of God, probably wouldn't be a torturer, but that he'd regard as "morally suspect" any of his followers who shrank from torturing for the sake of the greater good. Read more.
Color Revolutions, Old and New
By Stephen Lendman
In his new book, "Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order," F. William Engdahl explained a new form of US covert warfare - first played out in Belgrade, Serbia in 2000. What appeared to be "a spontaneous and genuine political 'movement,' (in fact) was the product of techniques" developed in America over decades.
In the 1990s, RAND Corporation strategists developed the concept of "swarming" to explain "communication patterns and movement of" bees and other insects which they applied to military conflict by other means. More on this below.
Former Pakistani Army General Mirza Aslam Beig claims the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has distributed 400 million dollars inside Iran to evoke a revolution.
In a phone interview with the Pashto Radio on Monday, General Beig said that there is undisputed intelligence proving the US interference in Iran.
“The documents prove that the CIA spent 400 million dollars inside Iran to prop up a colorful-hollow revolution following the election,” he added. Read more.
Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, The Weeks of Living Dangerously
Last week, Iran's Islamic revolutionary regime, like so many rigidified revolutionary movements before it, has used brute force to postpone its date with destiny. Demonstrators can often be beaten and chased off the streets, but no one has yet discovered a baton that can beat a set of ideas about how life should be led out of the minds of large numbers of people. This is, in essence, the story that Dilip Hiro, TomDispatch regular and expert on Iran, has to tell -- with a look back at a history about which most of us know all too little. Tom
The Clash of Islam and Democracy in Iran: The Islamic Revolution Faces the Classic Dilemma of All Revolutions
The Islamic Revolution Faces the Classic Dilemma of All Revolutions
By Dilip Hiro
By marshalling the regime's coercive instruments, Iran's 70-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, has, for now, succeeded in curbing the popular, peaceful challenge to the authenticity of Iran's fateful June 12th presidential election. But he has paid a heavy political price.
Before his June 19th hard-line speech at a Friday prayer congregation, Khamanei had the mystique of a just arbiter of authority, perched on a lofty platform far above the contentiousness of day-to-day politics. In his sermon, he asserted the validity of the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while the Guardian Council, the constitutional body charged with validating any national election, was still dealing with 646 complaints about possible election misbehavior and fraud. As a result, he damaged his status as a just ruler, a matter of grave importance since justice is a vital element in Islamic values.
Furthermore, by boycotting the June 19th congregation, former presidents Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Muhammad Khatami, as well as Mahdi Karrubi, former Speaker of the Iranian Parliament -- all of them respected mullahs -- exposed a deep rift in the ruling religious establishment. That bodes ill for the future of the Islamic Republic.
Khamanei has won the immediate battle, but the conflict between hard-liners and reformists is far from over. Taking a long-term view, Khamanei and his hard line cohorts face a superhuman task of countering an inexorably rising trend. Quite simply, the demographic make-up of Iran favors their reformist adversaries.