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Middle East Online::Ignoring Genocide: Rohingya People Deserve to Live

ASEAN must break away from its silence and tediously guarded policies and western countries must be confronted by their own civil societies: no normalization with Rangoon when innocent men, women and children are being burned alive in their own homes, writes Ramzy Baroud.

 

Middle East Online

 

One fails to understand the unperturbed attitude with which regional and international leaders and organizations are treating the unrelenting onslaught against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, formally known as Burma. Numbers speak of atrocities where every violent act is prelude to greater violence and ethnic cleansing. Yet, western governments’ normalization with the Myanmar regime continues unabated, regional leaders are as gutless as ever and even human rights organizations seem compelled by habitual urges to issue statements lacking meaningful, decisive and coordinated calls for action.

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Open Letter from Nabeel Rajab to President Obama

Open Letter from Nabeel Rajab to President Obama | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
From: Nabeel Rajab
President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Isa Town Detention Center
Bahrain

Dear President Obama,

I write to you from a Bahraini jail cell, and this message was never meant to go beyond its walls. Even though I have never advocated for violence nor harmed another living soul, I have spent 28 of the last 36 months in a Bahraini prison for actions that can only be counted as crimes in a nation that stifles free expression and criminalizes open assembly. I have documented my government’s use of torture. I have reported on civilian casualties in Yemen. I have held a different opinion than that of a king. In retaliation, I may spend the next ten years of my life in jail.


While my government punishes me for demanding an end to its assault on civil and political rights, other GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia, subject human rights defenders to harsher abuse. Their repression can be seen in the flogging of free speech activist Raif Badawi and the death sentence against the religious scholar and human rights advocate Nimr al-Nimr. Saudi courts even sentenced Raif’s lawyer, Waleed abu al-Khair, to 15 years in prison. We as human rights defenders are targeted for giving voice to the marginalized, people seeking to take the reins of their own destiny; our governments do everything in their power to prevent us from acting upon the best ideals of our conscience.

The message you directed toward your Gulf allies last week laid the foundation for real change. Your words tacitly acknowledged what we in the region understand: only democracy can bring stability to the Middle East. And while democracy may take time to develop, the process cannot begin unless our right to free speech is protected. Right now, our governments divide us along religious lines, preventing us from collectively challenging extremism within our societies. As well, our rulers aggressively punish critics of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. We simply ask, however, for greater democratic participation in our nation’s affairs, and the ability to freely express our contempt for violence and extremism.

I thank your administration for calling for my release, and the release of my fellow human rights defenders. I urge you to defend our right to free speech when you meet with the monarchs of the Gulf, and call for:

The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners;
An end to the criminalization of free speech and expression, including any laws against criticism of government institutions or defamation of a king;
The cessation of all acts of torture and reprisal in GCC detention centers; and
The protection of free and open civil society space capable of fostering long-term stability and growth in the region.
The citizens of Bahrain and her neighbors have extraordinary potential. With unshackled voices, we can build stability and challenge extremism. What we need today is space for tolerance, plurality, and honest dialogue, the foundations of a democratic process that the reprisals against me and my colleagues seek to undermine.

 
Yours Sincerely,

Nabeel Rajab
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Human rights court: Beating at G-8 summit was torture - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Human rights court: Beating at G-8 summit was torture - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
STRASBOURG, France — Europe’s top human rights court ruled Tuesday that the unpunished police beating of a 62-year-old man during the 2001 protests at the G-8 summit in the Italian city of Genoa amounted to torture, vindicating hundreds of protesters who claimed they were brutally abused during a police raid.

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights awarded Arnaldo Cestaro $48,900 and said Italy must change its laws to criminalize torture.

The 2001 summit was marked by violent confrontations between black-clad protesters and police, and resulted in the first shooting death of an anti-globalization activist by police fire.
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NASUWT: NASUWT denounces continued imprisonment of Bahraini teachers leader

NASUWT: NASUWT denounces continued imprisonment of Bahraini teachers leader | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has called for the unconditional release of a teachers’ trade union leader on the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment by the Bahraini authorities.

Mahdi Abu Dheeb, President of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA), was arrested in 2011 for nothing more than his commitment to organising and representing the interests of teachers and calling for quality education for all children and young people in Bahrain.
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Bahrain arrests activist Rajab over tweets - ministry

DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain police arrested prominent democracy activist Nabeel Rajab on Thursday for comments he made on his Twitter account seen as harmful to civil peace, the kingdom's interior ministry
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Balochistan: 17th of March demonstration

Balochistan:  17th of March demonstration | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
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Rights Group: Inmates Injured in Clashes at Bahrain Prison

Rights Group: Inmates Injured in Clashes at Bahrain Prison | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Bahraini security forces tear-gassed and beat inmates at a prison on Tuesday while trying to quell clashes that erupted during family visits, a local human rights group said, causing some injurie...
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PressTV-Bahrain women face discrimination

PressTV-Bahrain women face discrimination | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Bahrain’s female activists say women in the country face discrimination, marginalization and exclusion under the rule of Al Khalifa regime.

The Women Affairs Unit in Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, al-Wefaq, called on human rights organizations and campaigners to shed light on the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.

“As the world celebrates International Women Day on 8th March, Bahraini women continue to suffer from marginalization, exclusion and discrimination for raising demands for legitimate rights to democracy and justice in Bahrain,” the women activists said in a statement.
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Secret CIA Black Sites In American Heartland For 'Disappearing' Citizens - YouTube

"Two former senior Justice Department officials are calling on their colleagues to investigate a secretive warehouse used for interrogations by Chicago polic...
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Bahrain strips Shiite activists of citizenship amid unrest - CNN.com

Bahrain strips Shiite activists of citizenship amid unrest - CNN.com | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The groups said they had "grave concern over the systematic targeting of prominent political activists, former members of parliament, clerics and others. The Bahraini authorities did not provide substantial evidence as to why these individuals' citizenships have been revoked."

Rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch similarly condemned the move.

"The authorities have provided the vaguest of reasons for the deprivation of nationality, which appears to have been taken on the basis of the victims' political views," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Most worryingly, the authorities are making some in the group stateless. This, as well as any arbitrary deprivation of nationality, is prohibited under international law," he said.
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How Obama Caved on Bahrain

How Obama Caved on Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

"...

Way back in 2011, when the Arab Spring began and protests spread across the country, demanding more democracy and better representation for Shiites, Obama himself pressed for change in Bahrain. In February 2011, as protesters massed in the tens of thousands at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout, the president issued a statement welcoming reform plans — which, alas, were never really carried through — announced by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Obama reaffirmed that it was the U.S. position that Bahrain’s stability would be ensured through “respecting the universal rights of the people of Bahrain and reforms that meet the aspirations of all Bahrainis.”

The king, however, answered Obama’s call for reform with more repression. On March 14, he invited in troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help put down the protests. Thousands of security forces stormed the Pearl Roundabout demonstrations on March 16, clearing the protest camp and arresting its leaders. Two days later, the Pearl Monument at the center of the roundabout, which had become an icon of the protests, was demolished, and closed the area off to the public.

In the aftermath of the crackdown, Obama’s tone on Bahrain noticeably toughened. The message was clear: Stability must depend on respecting the rights of the people, not on foreign troops. When the president gave a major speech on the Middle East in May 2011, he was even more critical of Bahrain and its policy of repression: “We have insisted both publicly and privately that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens, and … such steps will not make legitimate calls for reform go away.”

Later in that speech, he said that Shiites “must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain,” raising one of the most explosive aspects of how the Sunni government has attempted to suppress protests by the Shiite majority.

In Obama’s September 2011 address to the U.N. General Assembly, the tiny country got a whole paragraph. The president said that the United States “will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people.” He also said that reforms had been made, but that “more is required” — three words that amounted to a clear message that the monarchy was falling short. The White House was not about to let the king off the hook — and the president himself was raising the issue, not some spokesperson.

What has happened since then? Not much.

There has been little or no progress in Bahrain — domestic tensions have instead risen higher. Everything President Obama demanded has been refused. In June 2011, an independent commission was established to examine the events during the early months of the uprising, and in November it reported its findings to the king. Its recommendations, however, were roundly ignored: In 2012, the commission’s chairman, law professor Cherif Bassiouni, delivered what George Washington University’s Marc Lynch termed a “scathing critique of its failure to undertake any deeper political or social reforms.”

Bassiouni has given the government credit for taking a number of his recommendations — even as he laid out Manama’s failings to resolve the underlying grievances of the protests. “There are very, very fundamental social and economic issues involved in the Shiite population that need to be addressed, and have not been addressed,” he said in a 2014 interview. “When you have people who do not have the hope of seeing themselves as equal citizens, as having equal opportunities in a particular country, living in mostly economic underprivileged areas in high-density population areas, they explode.”

Others are even more critical. In May 2014, Human Rights Watch issued areport finding that, despite the king’s promised reforms, “members of security forces are rarely prosecuted for unlawful killings, including in detention, and the few convictions have carried extremely light sentences.”

The Bahraini government has also adopted new methods to silence opposition voices. In January 2015, it stripped 72 citizens of their nationality, renderingmany of them stateless. As Amnesty International pointed out, the authorities included human rights and political activists on the same list as Bahrainis who allegedly went to fight with the Islamic State (IS). So the government of Bahrain is trying to equate peaceful protest with jihadi terrorism.

While the government is painting all protesters as “terrorists” who support the Islamic State, its own policy appears to be one of promoting sectarian divisions.

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Bahrain: arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and torture of Mr. Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR)

Bahrain: arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and torture of Mr. Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR) | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and torture of Mr. Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR). On February 21, 2015, Mr. Jawad appeared before the Public Prosecution for another case brought against him (see background information). He appeared to have suffered from physical and psychological torture and ill-treatment. He was allegedly beaten, threatened with death, and (...)
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#ChinaQuitBalochistan

#ChinaQuitBalochistan | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
China and Pakistan are partners in crime against the Baloch 
nation. Balochistan is in a state of war with Pakistan and for
a country like China to name Baloch exploitation of resources
and land as development and prosperity is questionable.We 
request all Baloch political parties, human rights activists, 
social media activists, journalists and the international
community to join us in our online campaign to speak up
against Chinese exploitation of Baloch resources and 
illegal colonization of Balochistan by occupying Gawadar 
port with the help of Pakistan.Hashtag for 
the online campaign is: #ChinaQuitBalochistan
Date: 18th February 2015 Day: Wednesday
Timings: 8pm to 12 am (Balochistan)

 

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International Law and the Problem of Non-combatants, Civilians in the Baloch War of Independence

International Law and the Problem of Non-combatants, Civilians in the Baloch War of Independence | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
In 2014, Dr. Allah Nizar Baloch, the most respected intellectual-cum-guerrilla commander, in an interview with Tarek Fatah, a Toronto-based columnist, explained, “I am not a terrorist and we are not terrorists. We are fighting for our freedom and our struggle is based on the international law.”  Let us deliberate on the matter.

In a war of liberation, an occupying power always tries to present the rightful opposition to occupation as terrorism. The oppressed is presented falsely as backward, savage, terrorist and violator of human rights. And by doing so, the oppressor sets the stage in the eyes of the international community to justify occupation, oppression and atrocities carried out by the occupying power in the occupied territory. The state machinery and the wealth plundered from the subjugated people are used to conduct the overall operations in order to maintain control and prolong the unjust occupation.

Today, the Pakistani media as part of the state machinery is viciously engaged in a propaganda war against the liberation movement in the occupied Balochistan. The Pakistani state portrays Baloch freedom fighters as “miscreants – alienated Baloch – separatists – terrorists” to malign the true history of a people in struggle for rights and freedom. The case against the Baloch armed resistance as highlighted in the Pakistani press involves baseless accusations of carrying out a campaign of targeting Punjabi settlers in Balochistan. The press alleges that Baloch fighters attack innocent, non-combatant, non-Baloch civilians in Balochistan.  It is understandable that Pakistani media is supporting the state; however, such allegations are totally unfounded and baseless.

Pakistan occupied Balochistan in 1948. Since then the Baloch nation has resisted the unlawful occupation with armed uprisings and political struggles that have continued to date.  In all cases, Pakistan army was used to brutally crush the nationalist movement resulting in the militarization of Balochistan and complete ban on the political process.  Besides military means, there are other state machineries which underpin the Pakistani rule over Balochistan.

Along with the Pakistan army, the notorious Frontier Corps (FC), Makran Constabulary, Police, Levies and intelligence agencies have established basses, check posts, and surveillance networks in the universities, towns, tribal areas, sea ports, and energy-sensitive installations such as Sui in the Bugti area. Testing of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and WMDs in Chaghai area is part of the grand design to control, exploit and suppress the local populace in the province.

The already precarious situation in Balochistan has been further complicated by the state-sponsored use of religious card against Baloch nationalists. A number of proxy organizations and non-state actors are now actively involved in the targeted killings and enforced disappearances of Baloch leaders, intellectuals, students, and commoners.

Pakistani state-sponsored Talibanization is part of the counterinsurgency measures to contain the rising Baloch nationalism. It has led to the creation of militant jihadi outfits backed by the state now involved in secretive operations along with the FC and the army in Balochistan. Nifaz-e-Amn-e-Balochistan, Sipah-e-Shuhda-e-Balochistan, and Balochistan Musallah Difaei Tanzeem are a few examples of the ISI-founded groups targeting the Baloch resistance in addition to the ISIS chapter in Balochistan who call themselves the Lashkar-e-Khorasan.  These organizations operate openly at the behest of the Pakistani army and intelligence agencies and have openly claimed killing of Baloch activists. They publicly circulate their literature, do wall chalking, and terrorize local residents.  They have issued religious fatwas (decrees) against Baloch secular organizations, Zikis, and writers, intellectuals, target-killed educationists, forcefully shut down girl’s schools, and attacked women with acid on their faces. They are also responsible for carrying out genocide of Shia Hazaras and Baloch Zikri Community in Balochistan. Baloch freedom fighters have always countered such forces. However, ISIS presence in the region can change the scene forever in favor of Islamist terrorists if international community does not help Baloch organizations to resist their notorious agendas.
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Sudan Used Cluster Bombs on Civilians, Human Rights Watch Charges

Sudan Used Cluster Bombs on Civilians, Human Rights Watch Charges | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Human Rights Watch has accused the government of Sudan of using banned cluster bombs on civilian areas in the southern part of the country.
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US: Human Rights Watch Sues Over Surveillance | Human Rights Watch

US: Human Rights Watch Sues Over Surveillance | Human Rights Watch | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
(Washington, DC) – Human Rights Watch filed suit on April 7, 2015, against the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for illegally collecting records of the organization’s telephone calls to foreign countries.

The DEA disclosed the existence of its mass surveillance program in January 2015, after a federal judge ordered the government to disclose more information about the program. The agency made the disclosure in a criminal case against a man accused of violating export restrictions on goods to Iran.

“At Human Rights Watch we work with people who are sometimes in life or death situations, where speaking out can make them a target,” said Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Whom we communicate with and when is often extraordinarily sensitive – and it’s information that we wouldn’t turn over to the government lightly.”

Human Rights Watch is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which has filed a series of legal challenges against unconstitutional government surveillance.
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Bahrani Professor’s Abrupt Citizenship Revocation Violates Universal Human Rights Declaration

Bahrani Professor’s Abrupt Citizenship Revocation Violates Universal Human Rights Declaration | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Bahrain's Interior Ministry revoked Dr. Masaud Jahromi's citizenship without notice or opportunity to respond, on grounds of "terrorist activities" or "advocating regime change through illegal means." OUR PREVIOUS ACTIVITIES The Jahromi Archive Jahromi, Chair of the Ahlia University's Computer Science Department, has never participated in either of these. CCS wrote protesting such arbitrary denial of his basic human right to his nationality and deplored Jahromi being associated with known terro
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Is Bahrain the New Apartheid State?

Is Bahrain the New Apartheid State? | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
It's an obvious analogy: There is a minority (mostly Sunni) elite ruling over a (mostly Shia) majority. The last few years have seen systematic discrimination, a repression of fundamental rights, and torture and deaths in custody. People aren't divid...
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Text of Swedish diplomat's speech not given before the Arab League

Secretary General, Excellencies, dear friends,

It is a great honour for me to be standing here today. To be here in Egypt, in Cairo, in this building - the House of Arabs, is special. Egypt has always played an indispensable political, economic and cultural role in the region. And it is here that the Arab world, Africa and Europe meet.....

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ACLU: Snowden Proved NSA Internet Spying Harms Americans

ACLU: Snowden Proved NSA Internet Spying Harms Americans | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The suit filed in federal court in Maryland accuses the NSA of scooping up virtually everything sent via the Internet between Americans and people outside the United States, and then scouring it to identify and monitor foreign intelligence targets.

A similar challenge was turned away by the U.S. Supreme Court, which said the plaintiffs couldn't prove they'd been harmed. This lawsuit says that's changed since the government confirmed the surveillance after its scope and details were leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.

This "upstream" surveillance of the Internet's "backbone" of digital networks reaches far beyond any individuals the government is targeting to combat terror attacks, and violates constitutional protections of free speech and privacy, the plaintiffs say.

ACLU staff attorney Patrick Toomey said Tuesday that Snowden's leaks changed the whole legal paradigm.

"We believe the Snowden disclosures will make an immense difference in how this case will play out," Toomey said. "Prior to Snowden, the public had never heard of upstream surveillance. But based on those disclosures and what the government has acknowledged itself, we know the government isn't just surveilling its targets, its surveilling everyone."
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Bahrain : Ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain : Ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), FIDH Deputy Secretary General and a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division.URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY New Information BHR 001 / 0812 / OBS 048.14 Judicial harassment Bahrain March 5, 2015The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the (...)
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PressTV-‘Int’l silence emboldens Bahrain regime’

PressTV-‘Int’l silence emboldens Bahrain regime’ | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
An activist says the silence of the international community on the atrocities of the Bahraini regime has emboldened it.
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Citizenship revoked: Key US ally Bahrain strips dissenters of their nationality

Citizenship revoked: Key US ally Bahrain strips dissenters of their nationality | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

....Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that “everyone has the right to a nationality,” and “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality....."

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Al-Wefaq Urges Int’l Community to Save Bahrain, Work for Sheikh Salman Release

Al-Wefaq Urges Int’l Community to Save Bahrain, Work for Sheikh Salman Release | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Al-Wefaq Urges Int'l Community to Save Bahrain, Work for Sheikh Salman Release
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PressTV-Bahrain clamps down on anti-regime demo

PressTV-Bahrain clamps down on anti-regime demo | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Bahraini forces attack protesters during the funeral ceremony for one of the victims of the regime's crackdown.
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Human Rights Watch Accuses Sudan Soldiers Of Mass Rape In Darfur

Human Rights Watch Accuses Sudan Soldiers Of Mass Rape In Darfur | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - A U.S.-based human rights group on Wednesday accused Sudanese soldiers of raping at least 221 women and girls in Sudan's Darfur region late last year after...
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