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Saturday, 1 October 2011

Irom Sharmila Solidarity Campaign

Irom Sharmila Solidarity Campaign
Repeal AFSPA NOW!!
Being launched on the 2nd October and will go on till 10th December across India -Join the campaign on 2nd October 2011 in Mumbai
Date: 2nd October 2011
Time: 9.00 am to 11 .00 am
Venue: Mahatma Gandhi Statue, near Mantralaya, Churchgate
Armed Forces Special Powers Act, a colonial legacy used against Mahatma Gandhi, was promulgated initially in the Naga areas of Assam (later divided between 4 states) and later in Mizoram, initially in parts of Manipur and later in all of Manipur. The ordinance after a brief discussion in the Parliament was endorsed and got the status of Act on August 18, 1958, despite stiff resistance from various quarters who challenged it as a martial and draconian law. Since then it has been in force in one part or the other of the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Jammu and Kashmir (since 1991). The continuation of the 'disturbed area' status under the AFSPA in many part of the country is illegal in view of the violation of the mandatory six monthly periodic reviews directed by Supreme Court in its 1997 Judgement.
AFSPA continues to be the most potent repressive tool of the Indian state that empowers even a non commissioned officer of the armed forces of the Union to kill on mere suspicion and provide legal immunity from prosecution, thereby causing untold misery and agony among the peoples of the affected regions. The imposition of AFSPA is synonymous to heavy militarisation in these states leading to gross civil and political rights violations including enforced disappearances, extra-judicial execution, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, arbitrary arrest and detention.
This law is more draconian than its predecessor act used by the British to suppress the Quit India Movement. On the pretext of controlling insurgency, this Act has only intensified the insurgency in the region and legitimised thousands of gross human rights violations like rape, torture, murder and “disappearances” of innocent people in the North East and J&K. The democratic movements in the North East and J&K have consistently demanded the repeal of the Act and demilitarisation for decades.
People’s movements all across North-East and J & K and other parts of India have been struggling for repeal of this draconian Act. Relentless struggle for last one decade by Manipur People’s Movement led by Irom Sharmila- known to us , is one of the many struggles on this issue across various states.
Along with the struggles of millions of people against the militarisation and the AFSPA, the hunger fast of Irom Sharmila Chanu is going to complete 11 years now . She is being force fed through her nose by the Government, arrested on charges for attempt to commit suicide, criminalised as a high security prisoner, denying her access to family, friends, supporters and the media. It is a shame that in this land of Gandhi, a non-violent protester has been subjected to such humiliation for more than a decade. Even as she continues her struggle along with many in the NE and J&K, we appeal to our comrades in human rights groups and people’s movements across the country to demand repeal of the AFSPA along with other draconian laws like the UAPA, MCOCA, CSPSA etc. and resist the increasing cutailment of democratic spaces.
In Solidarity and support to struggle against the Armed Forces Special Power Act various programme and action are being held all across India under the banner of the Save Irom Sharmila Solidairy Campaign from October 2nd – the Non Violence Day - and will culminate at Delhi on December 1oth – the Human Rights Day.
Let us Join hands in this struggle and to highlight the relentless fast for the last 11 years by Irom Sharmila as well as all other struggles against the Armed Forces Special Power ACT.
WE DEMAND
Ø The Government should make serious efforts to have meaningful dialogue with Irom Sharmila and seriously take action to fulfil her demands for which she had put her life at stake.
Ø An all party delegation should meet Irom Sharmila and give her Manipur people’s Movement serious hearing and raise her concerns in the parliament .
Ø We demand that the NHRC should immediately visit her and Manipur to give heed to the human rights violation in the area and to take appropriate action.
Ø Government should immediately work out and announce a phased, time-bound demilitarisation plan to withdraw the Army and other para -military forces from internal security duties in NE States and J&K.
Please join the campaign in Mumbai ... please confirm your participation ...
Zindabad
Guddi S.L, GG Parikh, Sukla Sen, Daniel Mazgoankar, Asad , Shimanshu, Suhas Kolhekar, Simpreet Singh, Jatin Desai, Mukta Srivastava
Contact: 9869059860, 9969530060

LIBYA WAR A FRAUD ?

The war against Libya is built on fraud. The United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions against Libya on the basis of unproven claims, specifically that Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was killing his own people in Benghazi and Libya. The claim in its exact form was that Qaddafi had ordered Libyan forces to kill 6,000 people in Benghazi and Libya. These claims were widely disseminated, but always vaguely explained. It was on the basis of this claim that Libya was referred to the U.N. Security Council at U.N Headquarters in New York City and kicked out of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

False claims about African mercenary armies in Libya and about jet attacks on civilians were also used in a broad media campaign against Libya. These two claims have been sidelined and have become more and more murky. The massacre claims, however, were used in a legal, diplomatic, and military framework to justify NATO’s war on Libya.


Using Human Rights as a Pretext for War: The LLHR and its Unproven Claims

One of the main sources for the claim that Qaddafi was killing his own people is the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR). The LLHR was actually pivotal to getting the U.N. involved through its specific claims in Geneva. On February 21, 2011 the LLHR got the 70 other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to sent letters to the President Obama, E.U. High Representative Catherine Ashton., and the U.N. Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon demanding international action against Libya invoking the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. Only 25 members of this coalition actually assert that they are human rights groups.

The letter is as follows:

We, the undersigned non-governmental, human rights, and humanitarian organizations, urge you to mobilize the United Nations and the international community and take immediate action to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people. The inexcusable silence cannot continue.

As you know, in the past several days, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s forces are estimated to have deliberately killed hundreds of peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders across the country. In the city of Benghazi alone, one doctor reported seeing at least 200 dead bodies. Witnesses report that a mixture of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and regime loyalists have attacked demonstrators with knives, assault rifles and heavy-caliber weapons.

Snipers are shooting peaceful protesters. Artillery and helicopter gunships have been used against crowds of demonstrators. Thugs armed with hammers and swords attacked families in their homes. Hospital officials report numerous victims shot in the head and chest, and one struck on the head by an anti-aircraft missile. Tanks are reported to be on the streets and crushing innocent bystanders. Witnesses report that mercenaries are shooting indiscriminately from helicopters and from the top of roofs. Women and children were seen jumping off Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi to escape. Many of them were killed by the impact of hitting the water, while others were drowned. The Libyan regime is seeking to hide all of these crimes by shutting off contact with the outside world. Foreign journalists have been refused entry. Internet and phone lines have been cut or disrupted.

There is no question here about intent. The government media has published open threats, promising that demonstrators would meet a “violent and thunderous response.”

Accordingly, the government of Libya is committing gross and systematic violations of the right to life as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Citizens seeking to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are being massacred by the government.

Moreover, the government of Libya is committing crimes against humanity, as defined by the Explanatory Memorandum to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Libyan government’s mass killing of innocent civilians amount to particularly odious offences which constitute a serious attack on human dignity. As confirmed by numerous oral and video testimonies gathered by human rights organizations and news agencies, the Libyan government’s assault on its civilian population are not isolated or sporadic events. Rather, these actions constitute a widespread and systematic policy and practice of atrocities, intentionally committed, including murder, political persecution and other inhumane acts which reach the threshold of crimes against humanity.

Responsibility to Protect

Under the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, you have a clear and unambiguous responsibility to protect the people of Libya. The international community, through the United Nations, has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help to protect the Libyan population. Because the Libyan national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their population from crimes against humanity, should peaceful means be inadequate, member states are obliged to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII.

In addition, we urge you to convene an emergency Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, whose members have a duty, under UNGA Resolution 60/251, to address situations of gross and systematic violations of violations of human rights. The session should:

-Call for the General Assembly to suspend Libya’s Council membership, pursuant to Article 8 of Resolution 60/251, which applies to member states that commit gross and systematic violations of human rights.

-Strongly condemn, and demand an immediate end to, Libya’s massacre of its own citizens.

-Dispatch immediately an international mission of independent experts to collect relevant facts and document violations of international human rights law and crimes against humanity, in order to end the impunity of the Libyan government. The mission should include an independent medical investigation into the deaths, and an investigation of the unlawful interference by the Libyan government with the access to and treatment of wounded.

-Call on the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Council’s relevant Special Procedures to closely monitor the situation and take action as needed.

-Call on the Council to remain seized of the matter and address the Libyan situation at its upcoming 16th regular session in March.

Member states and high officials of the United Nations have a responsibility to protect the people of Libya from what are preventable crimes. We urge you to use all available measures and levers to end atrocities throughout the country.

We urge you to send a clear message that, collectively, the international community, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council will not be bystanders to these mass atrocities. The credibility of the United Nations — and many innocent lives — are at stake. [1]


According to Physicians for Human Rights: “[This letter was] prepared under the guidance of Mohamed Eljahmi, the noted Libyan human rights defender and brother of dissident Fathi Eljahmi, asserts that the widespread atrocities committed by Libya against its own people amount to war crimes, requiring member states to take action through the Security Council under the responsibility to protect doctrine.” [2]

The letters signatories included Francis Fukuyama, United Nations Watch (which looks out for Israel’s interests and according to Israeli sources organized the entire session against the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), B’nai B’rith Human Rights Commission, the Cuban Democratic Directorate, and a set of organizations at odds with the governments of Nicaragua, Cuba, Sudan, Russia, Venezuela, and Libya. Some of these organizations are viewed with hostility as organizations created to wage demonization campaigns against countries at odds with the U.S., Israel, and the European Union. Refer to the annex for the full list of signatories for consultation.

LLHR is tied to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), which is based in France and has ties to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). FIDH is active in many places in Africa and in activities involving the National Endowment for Democracy in the African continent. Both the FIDH and LLHR also released a joint communiqué on February 21, 2011. In the communiqué both organizations asked for the international community to “mobilize” and mention the International Criminal Court while also making a contradictory claiming that over 400 to 600 people had died since February 15, 2011. [3] This of course was about 5,500 short of the claim that 6,000 people were massacred in Benghazi. The joint letter also promoted the false view that 80% of Qaddafi’s support came from foreign mercenaries, which is something that over half a year of fighting proves as untrue.

According to the General-Secretary of the LLHR, Dr. Sliman Bouchuiguir, the claims about the massacres in Benghazi could not be validated by the LLHR when he was challenged for proof. When asked how a group of 70 non-governmental organizations in Geneva could support the LLHR’s claims on Geneva, Dr. Buchuiguir has answered that a network of close relationship was the basis. This is a mockery.

Speculation is neither evidence nor grounds for starting a war with a bombing campaign that has lasted about half a year and taken many innocent civilian lives, including children and the elderly. What is important to note here is that the U.N. Security Council decided to sanction the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on the basis of this letter and the claims of the LLHR. Not once did the U.N. Security Council and the member states pushing for war once bother to even investigate the allegations. In one session in New York City, the Indian Ambassador to the U.N. actually pointed this out when his country abstained from voting. Thus, a so-called “humanitarian war” was launched without any evidence.

Global Research Editor’s Note: U.N. Watch which actively promoted the LLHR statement has informal ties to the U.S. State Department. It was established during the Clinton Administration in 1993 under the Chairmanship of Morris B. Abram, a former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. U.N. Watch is formally affiliated with the American Jewish Committee (AJC), a powerful pro-Israeli political lobby organization based in New York City.

The Secret Relationship between the LLHR and the Transitional Council

The claims of the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) were coordinated with the formation of the Transitional Council. This becomes clear with when the close and cagey relationship of the LLHR and the Transitional Council becomes apparent. Logically, the Obama Administration and NATO had to also be a part of this.

Whatever the Transitional Council is and whatever the intent of some of its supporters, it is clear that it is being used as a tool by the U.S. and others. Moreover, five members of the LLHR were or would become members of the Transitional Council almost immediately after the claims against the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya were disseminated. According to Bouchuguir individuals with ties to the LLHR or who hold membership include Mahmoud Jibril and Ali Tarhouni.

Dr. Mahmoud Jibril is a Libyan regime figure brought into Libyan government circles by Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi. He would undemocratically be given the position of Transitional Council prime minister. His involvement with the LLHR raises some real questions about the organization.

The economist Ali Tarhouni on the other hand would become the minister for oil and finance for the Transitional Council. Tarhouni is Washington’s man in Libya. He was groomed in the United States and was present at all the major meetings about plans for regime change in Libya. As Minister of Oil and Finance the first acts he did were privatize and virtually handover Libya’s energy resources and economy.

The General-Secretary of the LLHR, Sliman Bouchuiguir, has even privately admitted that many influential members of the Transitional Council are his friends. A real question of interests arises. Yet, the secret relationship between the LLHR and the Transitional Council is far more than a question of conflict of interest. It is a question of justice and manipulation.


Who is Sliman Bouchuiguir?

Sliman Bouchuguir is an unheard of figure for most, but he has authored a doctoral thesis that has been widely quoted and used in strategic circles in the United States. This thesis was published in 1979 as a book, The Use of Oil as a Political Weapon: A Case Study of the 1973 Arab oil Embargo. The thesis is about the use of oil as an economic weapon by Arabs, but can easily be applied to the Russians, the Iranians, the Venezuelans, and others. It examines economic development and economic warfare and can also be applied to vast regions, including all of Africa.

Bouchuguir’s analytical thesis reflects an important line of thinking in Washington, as well as London and Tel Aviv. It is both the embodiment of a pre-existing mentality, which includes U.S. National Security Advisor George F. Kennan’s arguments for maintaining a position of disparity through a constant multi-faced war between the U.S. and its allies on one hand and the rest of the world on the other hand. The thesis can be drawn on for preventing the Arabs, or others, from becoming economic powers or threats. In strategic terms rival economies are pinned as threats and as “weapons.” This has serious connotations.

Moreover, Bouchuiguir did his thesis at George Washington University under Bernard Reich. Reich is a political scientist and professor of international relations. He has worked and held positions at places like the U.S. Defense Intelligence College, the United States Air Force Special Operations School, the Marine Corps War College, and the Shiloah Center at Tel Aviv University. He has consulted on the Middle East for the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. State Department and received grants such as the Defense Academic Research Support Program Research grant and the German Marshal Fund Grant. Reich also was or is presently on the editorial boards of journals such as Israel Affairs (1994-present), Terrorism: An International Journal (1987-1994), and The New Middle East (1971-1973).

It is also clear that Reich is tied to Israeli interests. He has even written a book about the special relationship between the U.S and Israel. He has also been an advocate for a “New Middle East” which would be favourable to Israel. This includes careful consideration over North Africa. His work has also focused on the important strategic interface between the Soviet Union and the Middle East and also on Israeli policy in the continent of Africa.

It is clear why Bouchuiguir has his thesis supervised under Reich. On October 23, 1973, Reich gave a testimony at the U.S. Congress. The testimony has been named “The Impact of the October Middle East War” and is clearly tied to the 1973 oil embargo and Washington’s aim of pre-empting or managing any similar events in the future. It has to be asked, how much did Reich influence Bouchuiguir and if Bouchuiguir espouses the same strategic views as Reich?


The “New North Africa” and a “New Africa” – More than just a “New Middle East”

A “New Africa” is in the works, which will have its borders further drawn out in blood like in the past. The Obama Administration and its allies have opened the gateway for a new invasion of Africa. United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) opened the salvos of the war through Operation Odyssey Damn, before the war on Libya was transferred to NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

The U.S. has used NATO to continue the occupation of post-Second World War Europe. It will now use AFRICOM to occupy Africa and create an African NATO. It is clear the U.S. wants an expanded military presence in Libya and Africa under the disguise of humanitarian aid missions and fighting terrorism – the same terrorism that it is fanning in Libya and Africa.

The way is being paved for intervention in Africa under the guise of fighting terrorism. General Carter Ham has stated: “If we were to launch a humanitarian operation, how do we do so effectively with air traffic control, airfield management, [and] those kind of activities?” [4] General Ham’s question is actually a sales pitch for fashioning African military partnerships and integration, as well as new bases that could include the use of more military drones against Libya and other African countries. The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) have both made it clear that the Pentagon is actively trying to establish more drone bases in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula to expand its wars. [5] In this context, the AFRICOM Commander said that there are ties between the Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in North Africa, and the Boko Harem in Nigeria. [6]


The War in Libya is a Fraud

General Ham has said: “I remain confident that had the U.N. not made the decision, had the U.S. not taken the lead with great support, I’m absolutely convinced there are many, many people in Benghazi alive today who would not be [alive].” [7] This is not true and a far stretch from reality. The war has cost more lives than it could have ever saved. It has ruined a country and opened the door into Africa for a neo-colonial project.

The claims of the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) were never supported or verified. The credibility of United Nations must be questioned as well as many humanitarian and human rights organizations that have virtually pushed for a war. At best the U.N. Security Council is an irresponsible body, but it has clearly acted outside of due legal process. This pattern now appears to be repeating itself against the Syrian Arab Republic as unverified claims are being made by individuals and organizations supported by foreign powers that care nothing for authentic democratic reforms or liberty.


Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Sociologist and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He specializes on the Middle East and Central Asia. He was on the ground in Libya for over two months and was also a Special Correspondent for Flashpoints, which is a program based in Berkeley, California.


NOTES

[1] United Nations Watch et al., “Urgent Appeal to Stop Atrocities in Libya: Sent by 70 NGOs to the US, EU, and UN,” February 21, 2011:

<
http://www.unwatch.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=bdKKISNqEmG&b=1330815&ct=9135143>

[2] Physicians for Human Rights, “PHR and Human Rights Groups Call for Immediate Action in Libya,” February 22, 2011:

<
http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/press/press-releases/news-2011-02-22-libya.html>

[3] The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR), “Massacres in Libya: The international community must urgently,” respond, February 21, 2011:

<
http://www.fidh.org/IMG/article_PDF/article_a9183.pdf>

[4] Jim Garamone, “Africa Command Learns from Libya Operations,” American Forces Press Service, September 15, 2011:

<
http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=65344&reason=1>

[5] Gregory Miller and Craig Whitlock, “U.S. U.S. assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say,” The Washington Post, September 20, 2011; Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Expands Drone Flights to Take Aim at East Africa,” The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), September 21, 2011.

[6] Garamone, “Africa Command Learns,” Op. cit.

[7] Ibid.



ANNEX: SIGNATORIES OF THE URGENT LETTER FOR ACTION ON LIBYA

February 12, 2011 – Geneva, Switzerland

1. Hillel C. Neuer, United Nations Watch, Switzerland
2. Dr. Sliman Bouchuiguir, Libyan League for Human Rights, Switzerland
3. Mary Kay Stratis, Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc., USA
4. Carl Gershman, President, The National Endowment for Democracy, USA
5. Yang Jianli, Initiatives for China, USA - Former prisoner of conscience and survivor of Tiananmen Square massacre
6. Yang Kuanxing, YIbao - Chinese writer, original signatory to Charter 08, the manifesto calling for political reform in China
7. Matteo Mecacci, MP, Nonviolent Radical Party, Italy
8. Frank Donaghue, Physicians for Human Rights, USA
9. Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Stop Child Executions, Canada
10. Bhawani Shanker Kusum, Gram Bharati Samiti, India
11. G. Jasper Cummeh, III, Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives, Liberia
12. Michel Monod, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Switzerland
13. Esohe Aghatise, Associazione Iroko Onlus, Italy
14. Harris O. Schoenberg, UN Reform Advocates, USA
15. Myrna Lachenal, World Federation for Mental Health, Switzerland
16. Nguyên Lê Nhân Quyên, Vietnamese League for Human Rights, Switzerland
17. Sylvia G. Iriondo, Mothers and Women against Repression (M.A.R. Por Cuba), USA
18. David Littman, World Union for Progressive Judaism, Switzerland
19. Barrister Festus Okoye,?Human Rights Monitor, Nigeria
20. Theodor Rathgeber, Forum Human Rights, Germany
21. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Center, Juba – Southern Sudan
22. Carlos E Tinoco, Consorcio Desarrollo y Justicia, A.C., Venezuela
23. Abdurashid Abdulle Abikar, Center for Youth and Democracy, Somalia
24. Dr. Vanee Meisinger, Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association, Thailand
25. Simone Abel, René Cassin, United Kingdom
26. Dr. Francois Ullmann, Ingenieurs du Monde, Switzerland
27. Sr Catherine Waters, Catholic International Education Office, USA
28. Gibreil Hamid, Darfur Peace and Development Centre, Switzerland
29. Nino Sergi, INTERSOS – Humanitarian Aid Organization, Italy
30. Daniel Feng, Foundation for China in the 21st Century
31. Ann Buwalda, Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign, USA
32. Leo Igwe, Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria
33. Chandika Gautam, Nepal International Consumers Union, Nepal
34. Zohra Yusuf,?Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan
35. Sekou Doumbia, Femmes & Droits Humains, Mali
36. Cyrille Rolande Bechon, Nouveaux Droits de l'Homme, Cameroon
37. Zainab Al-Suwaij, American Islamic Congress, USA
38. Valnora Edwin,?Campaign for Good Governance, Sierra Leone
39. Patrick Mpedzisi, African Democracy Forum, South Africa
40. Phil ya Nangoloh, NamRights, Namibia
41. Jaime Vintimilla, Centro Sobre Derecho y Sociedad (CIDES), Ecuador
42. Tilder Kumichii Ndichia, Gender Empowerment and Development, Cameroon
43. Amina Bouayach, Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights, Morocco
44. Abdullahi Mohamoud Nur, CEPID-Horn Africa, Somalia
45. Delly Mawazo Sesete, Resarch Center on Environment, Democracy & Human Rights, DR Congo
46. Joseph Rahall, Green Scenery, Sierra Leone
47. Arnold Djuma, Solidarité pour la Promotion Sociale et la Paix, Rwanda
48. Panayote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greece
49. Carlos E. Ponce, Latina American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, Venezuela
50. Fr. Paul Lansu, Pax Christi International, Belgium
51. Tharsika Pakeerathan, Swiss Council of Eelam Tamils, Switzerland
52. Ibrahima Niang, Commission des Droits Humains du Mouvement Citoyen, Senegal
53. Virginia Swain, Center for Global Community and World Law, USA
54. Dr Yael Danieli, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, USA
55. Savita Gokhale, Loksadhana, India
56. Hasan Dheeree, Biland Awdal Organization, Somalia
57. Pacifique Nininahazwe, Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile, Burundi
58. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Center, Southern Sudan
59. Michel Golubnichy, International Association of Peace Foundations, Russia
60. Edward Ladu Terso, Multi Media Training Center, Sudan
61. Hafiz Mohammed, Justice Africa Sudan, Sudan
62. Sammy Eppel, B'nai B’rith Human Rights Commission, Venezuela
63. Jack Jeffery, International Humanist and Ethical Union, United Kingdom
64. Duy Hoang, Viet Tan, Vietnam
65. Promotion de la Democratie et Protection des Droits Humains, DR Congo
66. Radwan A. Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy, USA
67. María José Zamora Solórzano, Movimiento por Nicaragua, Nicaragua
68. John Suarez, Cuban Democratic Directorate, USA
69. Mohamed Abdul Malek, Libya Watch, United Kingdom
70. Journalists Union of Russia, Russia?
71. Sindi Medar-Gould, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, Nigeria
72. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Centre, Sudan
73. Sr. Anne Shaym, Presentation Sisters, Australia
74. Joseph Rahad, Green Scenery, Sierra Leone
75. Fahma Yusuf Essa, Women in Journalism Association, Somalia
76. Hayder Ibrahim Ali, Sudanese Studies Center, Sudan
77. Marcel Claude Kabongo, Good Governance and Human Rights NGO, DR Congo
78. Frank Weston, International Multiracial Shared Cultural Organization (IMSCO), USA
79. Fatima Alaoui, Maghrebin Forum for environment and development, Morocco
80. Ted Brooks, Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy, Liberia
81. Felly Fwamba, Cerveau Chrétien, DR Congo
82. Jane Rutledge, CIVICUS: World Alliance of Citizen Participation, South Africa
83. Ali AlAhmed, The Institute for Gulf Affairs, USA
84.?Daniel Ozoukou, Martin Luther King Center for Peace and Social Justice, Cote d'Ivoire
85. Dan T. Saryee,?Liberia Democratic Institute (LDI), Liberia

Individuals
Dr. Frene Ginwala, former Speaker of the South African National Assembly
Philosopher Francis Fukuyama
Mohamed Eljahmi,?Libyan human rights activist
Glenn P. Johnson, Jr., Treasurer, Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc., father of Beth Ann Johnson, victim of Lockerbie bombing

Source: U.N. Watch (Refer to note 1)


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Assassinating Awlaki: Obama Can Kill Anyone He Wants To


Assassinating Awlaki: Obama Can Kill Anyone He Wants To
By Robert Dreyfuss
30 September, 2011
The Nation
Now we know what embattled Yemeni President Saleh meant when he cryptically told reporters from the Washington Post and Time yesterday: “We are fighting the al-Qaeda organization in Abyan [in Yemen] in coordination with the Americans and Saudis.” The defiant Saleh, who’s long promoted himself as an asset in America’s seemingly nonstop Long War on Terrorism (LWT), apparently knows what he’s talking about. Hours later, Yemen’s military announced that a missile strike had killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the bombastic, American-born Islamist who’s been linked to Al Qaeda and to recent terrorist attempts against the United States.
He’s not exactly Osama bin Laden, whose takedown in Pakistan in April helped spark the current U.S.-Pakistan confrontation. But Awlaki’s assassination, and that’s what it was, is a signal that the Obama administration intends to pursue the LWT to the ends of the earth, regardless of the consequences, even if it means an extra-judicial killing of an American citizen.
Not that killing non-citizens is kosher, but killing an American isn’t. Still, rules are rules, and American citizens are supposed to have legal and civil rights that protect them from political or prosecutorial assassinations, even if they’re bad guys. Apparently, no longer. Still, Awlaki’s killing comes as no surprise, since the Obama administration long ago deemed him kill-worthy. As the Wall Street Journal points out, the CIA tried to kill Awlaki recently: “The U.S. narrowly missed Mr. Awlaki in a failed assassination attempt back in May. U.S. drones fired on a vehicle in the southern Yemen province of Shebwa that the cleric had been driving in earlier the same day.”
Since then, the United States has vastly expanded its Predator and Reaper drone capability far beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan, setting up bases on Indian Ocean islands and targeting Yemen, Somalia and other countries.
The killings were first announced by the Yemen defense ministry and its military, ironic in that the entire country of Yemen is perched at the brink of a civil war in which its establishment, including its military command, has divided loyalties. Not only Awlaki, but another American citizen was killed in the U.S.-orchestrated attack, too:
“Yemen's Defense Ministry said another American militant was killed in the same strike alongside al-Awlaki — Samir Khan, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani heritage who produced ‘Inspire,’ an English-language al-Qaida Web magazine that spread the word on ways to carry out attacks inside the United States.”
Awlaki was born in New Mexico, and he was linked to the Fort Hood shootings at a military base in Texas and to the attempted Times Square bombing, though his exact in role in those and other cases is unclear, that is, whether he masterminded or organized them or simply served as a kind of spiritual mentor to people who were planning acts of violence anyway. The point is, no judicial case has been made against Awlaki, he hasn’t been formally accused in those events or others, the charges against him have never been proved in court. He was deemed guilty by the CIA and the U.S. national security apparatus, and the sentence of death was carried out.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, a senior U.S. official said: “His death takes a committed terrorist, intent on attacking the United States, off the battlefield. Awlaki and AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] are also responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Yemen and throughout the region, which have killed scores of Muslims.” Of course, whether Awlaki and AQAP have killed scores of Muslims or not isn’t the point: unless the Obama administration truly wants to arrogate to itself the role of World Policeman, it shouldn’t be in the business of executing, extra-judicially, anyone it wants to, whether they’re guilty of killing Muslims, Hindus, Jews, or Christians.
Copyright © 2011 The Nation

At about 3am, on 23 September, within hours of his arrival at the Delhi airport, the US radio-journalist David Barsamian was deported [http://truthdive.com/2011/09/25/us-broadcaster-deported-from-india.html" title="Truth Dive: US broadcaster deported from India ]. This dangerous man, who produces independent, free-to-air programmes for public radio, has been visiting India for 40 years, doing such dangerous things as learning Urdu and playing the sitar.

Barsamian has published book-length interviews with public intellectuals such as Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Ejaz Ahmed and Tariq Ali (he even makes an appearance as a young, bell-bottom-wearing interviewer in Peter Wintonick's documentary film [
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FKdU_xL4O8" title="YouTube: Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky ] on Chomsky and Edward Herman's book Manufacturing Consent [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent:_The_Political_Economy_of_the_Mass_Media" title="Wikipedia: Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media]).

On his more recent trips to India he has done a series of radio interviews with activists, academics, film-makers, journalists and writers (including me). Barsamian's work has taken him to Turkey, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan. He has never been deported from any of these countries. So why does the world's largest democracy feel so threatened by this lone, sitar-playing, Urdu-speaking, left-leaning, radio producer? Here is how Barsamian himself explains it:

"It's all about Kashmir. I've done work on Jharkand, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Narmada dams, farmer suicides, the Gujarat pogrom, and the Binayak Sen case. But it's Kashmir that is at the heart of the Indian state's concerns. The official narrative must not be contested."

News reports about his deportation quoted official "sources" as saying that Barsamian had "violated his visa norms during his visit in 2009-10 by indulging in professional work while holding a tourist visa". Visa norms in India are an interesting peep-hole into the government's concerns and predilections. Using the tattered old banner of the "war on terror", the home ministry has decreed that scholars and academics invited for conferences and seminars require security clearance before they will be given visas. Corporate executives and businessmen do not.

So somebody who wants to invest in a dam, or build a steel plant or a buy a bauxite mine [
http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/india-government-must-stop-bauxite-mine-and-refinery-expansion-until-hum" title="Amnesty International: India must stop bauxite mine and refinery expansion until human rights are addressed] is not considered a security hazard, whereas a scholar who might wish to participate in a seminar about, say, displacement or communalism or rising malnutrition in a globalised economy, is. Terrorists with bad intentions have probably guessed that they are better off wearing Prada suits and pretending they want to buy a mine than admitting that they want to attend a seminar.

David Barsamian did not travel to India to buy a mine or to attend a conference. He just came to talk to people. The complaint against him, according to "official sources" is that he had reported on events in Jammu and Kashmir during his last visit to India and that these reports were "not based on facts". Remember Barsamian is not a reporter, he's a man who has conversations with people, mostly dissidents, about the societies in which they live.

Is it illegal for tourists to talk to people in the countries they visit? Would it be illegal for me to travel to the US or Europe and write about the people I met, even if my writing was "not based on facts"? Who decides which "facts" are correct and which are not? Would Barsamian have been deported if the conversations he recorded had been in praise of the impressive turnouts in Kashmir's elections, instead of about daily life in the densest military occupation in the world (an estimated 600,000 actively deployed armed personnel [
http://www.economist.com/node/8960457" title="The Economist: India's huge military presence in Kashmir does far more harm than good] for a population of 10 million people)?

David Barsamian is not the first person to be deported over the Indian government's sensitivities over Kashmir. Professor Richard Shapiro [
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/us-professor-deported-for-political-activis/706855/" title="Indian Express: US professor deported for political activism in Valley], an anthropologist from San Francisco, was deported from Delhi airport in November 2010 without being given any reason. It was probably a way of punishing his partner, Angana Chatterji [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angana_P._Chatterji" title="Wikipedia: Angana Chatterji], who is a co-convenor of the international peoples' tribunal on human rights and justice which first chronicled the existence of unmarked mass graves in Kashmir.

In September 2011, May Aquino, from the Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances (Afad), Manila, was deported from Delhi airport. Earlier this year, on 28 May, the outspoken Indian democratic rights activist, Gautam Navlakha [
http://blog.thekashmirwalla.com/2011/05/gautam-navlakha-denied-entry-deported-from-srinagar-airport-press-note-from-iptk/" title="The Kashmir Wallah: Gautam Navlakha denied entry, deported from Srinagar airport], was deported to Delhi from Srinagar airport. Farook Abdullah, the former chief minister of Kashmir, justified the deportation, saying that writers like Navlakha and myself had no business entering Kashmir because "Kashmir is not for burning".

Kashmir is in the process of being isolated, cut off from the outside world by two concentric rings of border patrols ? in Delhi as well as Srinagar ? as though it's already a free country with its own visa regime. Within its borders of course, it's open season for the government and the army. The art of controlling Kashmiri journalists and ordinary people with a deadly combination of bribes, threats, blackmail and a whole spectrum of unutterable cruelty has evolved into a twisted art form.

While the government goes about trying to silence the living, the dead have begun to speak up. Perhaps it was insensitive of Barsamian to plan a trip to Kashmir just when the state human rights commission was finally shamed into officially acknowledging the existence of 2,700 unmarked graves from three districts in Kashmir [
http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Indian-Kashmir-to-ID-Bodies-from-Unmarked-Graves-130632003.html" title="VOA News: Indian Kashmir to ID Bodies from Unmarked Graves]. Reports of thousands of other graves are pouring in from other districts. Perhaps it is insensitive of the unmarked graves to embarrass the government of India just when India's record is due for review before the UN human rights council.

Apart from Dangerous David, who else is the world's largest democracy afraid of? There's young Lingaram Kodopi [
http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column_javed-iqbal-the-curious-case-of-lingaram-kodopi_1591574" title="DNA: The curious case of Lingaram Kodopi] an adivasi [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adivasi" title="Wikipedia: Adivasi] from Dantewada in the state of Chhattisgarh, who was arrested on 9 September. The police say they caught him red-handed in a market place, while he was handing over protection money from Essar, an iron-ore mining company, to the banned Communist party of India (Maoist). His aunt Soni Sori says that he was picked up by plainclothes policemen in a white Bolero car from his grandfather's house in Palnar village.

Interestingly, even by their own account, the police arrested Lingaram but allowed the Maoists to escape. This is only the latest in a series of bizarre, almost hallucinatory accusations they have made against Lingaram and then withdrawn. His real crime is that he is the only journalist who speaks Gondi, the local language, and who knows how to negotiate the remote forest paths in Dantewada the other war zone in India from which no news must come.

Having signed over vast tracts of indigenous tribal homelands in central India to multinational mining and infrastructure corporations in a series of secret memorandums of understanding, the government has begun to flood the forests with hundreds of thousands of security forces. All resistance, armed as well as unarmed has been branded "Maoist" (In Kashmir they are all "jihadi elements").

As the civil war grows deadlier, hundreds of villages have been burnt to the ground. Thousands of adivasis have fled as refugees into neighbouring states. Hundreds of thousands are living terrified lives hiding in the forests. Paramilitary forces have laid siege to the forest, making trips to the markets for essential provisions and medicines a nightmare for villagers. Untold numbers of nameless people are in jail, charged with sedition and waging war on the state, with no lawyers to defend them. Very little news comes out of those forests, and there are no body counts.

So it's not hard to see why young Lingaram Kodopi poses such a threat. Before he trained to become a journalist, he was a driver in Dantewada. In 2009 the police arrested him and confiscated his Jeep. He was locked up in a small toilet for 40 days where he was pressurised to become a special police officer (SPO) in the Salwa Judum [
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salwa_Judum" title="Wikipedia: Salwa Judum], the government-sponsored vigilante army that was at the time tasked with forcing people to flee from their villages (the Salwa Judum has since been declared unconstitutional by the supreme court).

The police released Lingaram after the Gandhian activist Himanshu Kumar [
http://conference.aidindia.org/?q=node/28" title="Himanshu Kumar ] filed a habeas corpus petition in court. But then the police arrested Lingaram's old father and five other members of his family. They attacked his village and threatened the villagers if they sheltered him. Eventually Lingaram escaped to Delhi where friends and well-wishers got him admission into a journalism school. In April 2010 he travelled to Dantewada and escorted villagers to Delhi to give testimony at the independent peoples' tribunal about the barbarity of the Salwa Judum and the police and paramilitary forces. In his own testimony, Lingaram was sharply critical of the Maoists as well.

That did not deter the Chhattisgarh police. On 2 July 2010, the senior Maoist leader, Comrade Azad, the official spokesperson for the Maoist party, was captured and executed by the Andhra Pradesh police. Deputy Inspector General Kalluri of the Chhattisgarh police announced at a press conference that Lingaram Kodopi had been elected by the Maoist party to take over Comrade Azad's role (it was like accusing a young school child in 1936 Yan'an [
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yan%27an" title="Wikipedia: Yanan] of being Zhou Enlai [http://" title="Wikipedia: Zhou Enlai]). The charge was met with such derision that the police had to withdraw it. Soon after they accused Lingaram of being the mastermind of a Maoist attack on a congress legislator in Dantewada. But oddly enough, they made no move to arrest him.

Lingaram remained in Delhi, completed his course and received his diploma in journalism. In March 2011, paramilitary forces burned down three villages in Dantewada ? Tadmetla, Timmapuram and Morapalli. The Chhattisgarh government blamed the Maoists. The supreme court assigned the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Lingaram returned to Dantewada with a video camera and trekked from village to village documenting first-hand testimonies of the villagers who indicted the police. By doing this he made himself one of the most wanted men in Dantewada. On 9 September the police finally got to him.

Lingaram has joined an impressive line-up of troublesome news gatherers and disseminators in Chhattisgarh. Among the earliest to be silenced was the celebrated doctor Binayak Sen, who first raised the alarm about the crimes of the Salwa Judum as far back as 2005. He was arrested in 2007, accused of being a Maoist and sentenced to life imprisonment. After years in prison, he is out on bail now.

Kopa Kunjam [
http://www.sacw.net/article2269.html" title="South Asia Citizen's Web: International coalition calls for the release of Kopa Kunjam, a human rights and development activist imprisonned in India] was my first guide into the forest villages of Dantewada. At the time he worked with Himanshu Kumar's Vanvasi Chetna ashram, doing exactly what Lingaram tried to do much later ? travelling to remote villages, bringing out the news, and carefully documenting the horror that was unfolding. In May 2009 the ashram, the last neutral shelter for journalists, writers and academics who were travelling to Dantewada, was demolished by the Chhattisgarh government [http://www.binayaksen.net/2009/05/vca-demolished/" title="Free Binayak Sen Campaign: Vanvasi Chetna Ashram demolished by SDM, Dantewada].

Kopa was arrested on human rights day in September 2009. He was accused of colluding with the Maoists in the murder of one man and the kidnapping of another. The case against Kopa has begun to fall apart as the police witnesses, including the man who was kidnapped, have disowned the statements they purportedly made to the police. It doesn't really matter, because in India the process is the punishment.

It could take years for Kopa to establish his innocence. Many of those who were emboldened by Kopa to file complaints against the police have been arrested too. That includes women who committed the crime of being raped. Soon after Kopa's arrest Himanshu Kumar was hounded out of Dantewada.

Eventually, here too the dead will begin to speak. And it will not just be dead human beings, it will be the dead land, dead rivers, dead mountains and dead creatures in dead forests that will insist on a hearing.

In this age of surveillance, internet policing and phone-tapping, as the clampdown on those who speak up becomes grimmer with every passing day, it's odd how India is becoming the dream destination of literary festivals. Many of these festivals are funded by the very corporations on whose behalf the police have unleashed their regime of terror.

The Harud literary festival in Srinagar (postponed for the moment) was slated to be the newest, most exciting literary festival in India ? "As the autumn leaves change colour the valley of Kashmir will resonate with the sound of poetry, literary dialogue, debate and discussions ?"

Its organisers advertised it as an "apolitical" event, but did not say how either the rulers or the subjects of a brutal military occupation that has claimed tens of thousands of lives could be "apolitical". I wonder ? will the guests come on tourist visas? Will there be separate ones for Srinagar and Delhi? Will they need security clearance?

The festive din of all this spurious freedom helps to muffle the sound of footsteps in airport corridors as the deported are frog-marched on to departing planes, to mute the click of handcuffs locking around strong, warm wrists and the cold metallic clang of prison doors.

Our lungs are gradually being depleted of oxygen. Perhaps it's time to use whatever breath remains in our bodies to say: "Open the bloody gates."