The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Revised Guantanamo force-feed policy exposed | Jason Leopold

Hunger striking Guantanamo prisoners who are force-fed a liquid nutritional supplement undergo a brutal and dehumanising medical procedure that requires them to wear masks over their mouths while they sit shackled in a restraint chair for as long as two hours, according to documentation obtained by Al Jazeera. The prisoners remain this way, with a 61cm - or longer - tube snaked through their nostril until a chest X-ray, or a test dose of water, confirms it has reached their stomach.

At the end of the feeding, the prisoner is removed from the restraint chair and placed into a “dry cell” with no running water. A guard then observes the detainee for 45-60 minutes “for any indications of vomiting or attempts to induce vomiting”. If the prisoner vomits he is returned to the restraint chair.

That’s just a partial description of the “chair restraint system clinical protocol” which medical personnel are instructed to follow when administering a nutritional supplement to prisoners who have been selected for force-feeding by Guantanamo Commander Rear Admiral John Smith.

The restraint system, published here for the first time, along with the feeding procedures policy, was contained in a newly revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Guantanamo hunger strikers, obtained exclusively by Al Jazeera from United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which has oversight of the joint task force that operates the prison.

The 30-page manual contains the most detailed descriptions to date pertaining to the treatment of hunger strikers and prisoners who undergo force-feedings. The SOP replaced a previous SOP issued in 2003 - revised in 2005 - which was declassified several years ago by the Pentagon, albeit with redactions. The new, unredacted policy obtained by Al Jazeera went into effect March 5 - one month after Guantanamo prisoners launched their protest over the inspection of their Qurans.

The procedure appears to have been revised and implemented in order to deal with a mass hunger strike.

“Just as battlefield tactics must change throughout the course of a conflict, the medical responses to GTMO detainees who hunger strike has evolved with time,” says the SOP. “A mass hunger strike was successfully dealt with in [2005] by utilising procedures adopted from the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the approach delineated in this SOP.

“However, the composition of the detainee population, camp infrastructure, and policies has all undergone significant change since the initial version of this SOP… Much of the original instruction has been retained in the form of enclosures. In the event of a mass hunger strike, these enclosures can be utilised as they have proven efficacy under mass hunger strike conditions.”

The SOP notes that there are a number of prisoners who have been hunger striking since 2005, who have “proven their determination”, and whose physical frailty have limited Guantanamo authorities’ “options for intervention”. The document goes on to say, “in the event of a mass hunger strike, isolating hunger striking patients from each other is vital to prevent them from achieving solidarity”.

On April 13, guards staged a predawn raid at the communal camp and isolated more than 100 prisoners into single cells in an attempt to bring an end to the protest.

Leonard Rubenstein, a lawyer at the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Heath and the Berman Institute of Bioethics, who reviewed the SOP document for Al Jazeera, said the revised guidelines were troubling because they prohibit doctors and nurses from acting independently and make clear that they are simply “adjuncts of the security apparatus”.

Indeed, the SOP says that in order to effectively manage hunger strikers, a “close partnership” must exist between the Joint Medical Staff and the Joint Detention Group security force. Rubenstein characterised such a relationship as “Orwellian”.

“It is a very frightening idea that the medical staff is an adjunct of the security force,” Rubenstein said. “The clinical judgment of a doctor or a nurse is basically trumped by this policy and protocol. Doctors are not acting with the kind of professional medical independence [they should]. It’s clear that, notwithstanding references to preservation of detainee health in the policy, the first interest is in ending the protests.”

Rubenstein pointed out the SOP does not provide any direction to medical personnel on how to deal with prisoners who may be suffering from a mental health condition.

Currently there are at least 100 prisoners who are on hunger strike, although some prisoners’ lawyers say that number is much higher.

[…] In a letter sent to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel last month, American Medical Association President Dr Jeremy Lazarus said the force-feeding procedure at Guantanamo “violates core ethical values of the medical profession”.

“Every competent patient has the right to refuse medical intervention, including life-sustaining interventions,” Lazarus wrote. “The AMA has long endorsed the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo, which is unequivocal on the point: ‘Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially.’

The United Nations has condemned force-feeding as both a form of torture and a breach of international law. [READ]

The Hijacking of Human Rights | Chris Hedges

The appointment of Suzanne Nossel, a former State Department official and longtime government apparatchik, as executive director of PEN American Center is part of a campaign to turn U.S. human rights organizations into propagandists for pre-emptive war and apologists for empire. Nossel’s appointment led me to resign from PEN as well as withdraw from speaking at the PEN World Voices Festival in May. But Nossel is only symptomatic of the widespread hijacking of human rights organizations to demonize those—especially Muslims—branded by the state as the enemy, in order to cloak pre-emptive war and empire with a fictional virtue and to effectively divert attention from our own mounting human rights abuses, including torture, warrantless wiretapping and monitoring, the denial of due process and extrajudicial assassinations.

… Nossel, in the contentious year she headed Amnesty International USA before leaving in January, oversaw a public campaign by the organization to support NATO’s war in Afghanistan. She was running Amnesty International USA when the organization posted billboards at bus stops that read, “Human Rights for Women and Girls in Afghanistan—NATO: Keep the Progress Going.” Madeleine Albright, along with senior State Department officials and politicians, were invited to speak at Amnesty International’s women’s forum during Nossel’s tenure. Nossel has urged Democrats to stay the course in Iraq, warning that a failure in Iraq could unleash “a kind of post-Vietnam, post-Mogadishu hangover” that would lamentably “herald an era of deep reservations among the U.S. public regarding the use of force.” She worked as a State Department official to discredit the Goldstone Report, which charged Israel with war crimes against the Palestinians. As a representative on the U.N. Human Rights Council she said that “the top of our list is our defense of Israel, and Israel’s right to fair treatment at the Human Rights Council.” Not a word about the Palestinians. She has advocated for expanded armed intervention in countries such as Syria and Libya. She has called for a military strike against Iran if it does not halt its nuclear enrichment program. In an article in The Washington Quarterly titled “Battle Hymn of the Democrats,” she wrote: “Democrats must be seen to be every bit as tough-minded as their opponents. Democratic reinvention as a ‘peace party’ is a political dead end.” “In a milieu of war or near-war, the public will look for leadership that is bold and strident—more forceful, resolute, and pugnacious than would otherwise be tolerated,” she went on. In a 2004 Foreign Affairs article, “Smart Power: Reclaiming Liberal Internationalism,” she wrote: “We need to deploy our power in ways that make us stronger, not weaker,” not a stunning thought but one that should be an anathema to human rights campaigners. She added, “U.S. interests are furthered by enlisting others on behalf of U.S. goals,” which, of course, is what she promptly did at Amnesty International. Her “smart power” theory calls on the U.S. to exert its will around the globe by employing a variety of means and tactics, using the United Nations and human rights groups, for example, to promote the nation’s agenda as well as the more naked and raw coercion of military force. This is not a new or original idea, but when held up to George W. Bush’s idiocy I guess it looked thoughtful. The plight of our own dissidents—including Bradley Manning—is of no concern to Nossel and apparently of no concern now to PEN. [++]

Rights Panel Warned of ‘Dire’ Gitmo Conditions

becauseithinktoomuch:

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has heard testimony from the lawyers of Guantanamo Bay detainees today, along with medical experts who testified to the “dire” conditions therein.

A large number of detainees are on hunger strikes at present, and the experts cautioned that the prospect of life imprisoned without charges or a trial was likely a leading factor in the large number of suicides the detention center has seen.

State Department official Michael Williams dismissed the concerns, insisting that the detainees are “treaty humanely” and that all detentions by the US are “lawful” in nature. He also blamed Congress for the facility remaining open.

President Obama had promised to close the facility upon taking office, but delayed doing so repeatedly, cheering Congress for blocking a resolution to close the it, and scrapping a pledge to see it closed within a year, opting instead to restart military tribunals.

Obama promised to close Guantánamo. Instead, he's made it worse | Murtaza Hussain

In his letters, Guantánamo Bay prisoner Shaker Aamer appeals in desperation to his captors and the outside world:

“Please … torture me in the old way. Here they destroy people mentally and physically without leaving marks.”

The 44-year-old British resident and father of four has spent over 11 years incarcerated at Guantánamo despite being cleared for release as early as 2007. To this day never charged with a crime, Aamer is just one of hundreds of detainees who remain imprisoned in Guantánamo. Despite running on an explicit campaign promise to shut down the island prison which has become a symbol of the abuses of the “war on terror”, President Obama has continued to preside over its operation.

And by recent accounts, under his tenure, the conditions for prisoners there – from both a physical and legal standpoint – have become markedly worse.

This past month, the majority of prisoners at Guantánamo began a hunger strike in protest of alleged mistreatment at the hands of guards at the facility. According to lawyers for over a dozen men involved in the protest, after weeks of refusing food, their clients are “coughing blood, losing consciousness and becoming weak and fatigued”. At least five men are reportedly being strapped down by guards and force-fed through their nostrils – an excruciatingly painful procedure that the UN Human Rights Commission has said it considers to be torture.

For the prisoners, the overwhelming majority of whom have never been charged with a crime and over 50 of whom have been cleared for release for years, this represents their last desperate avenue to protest their fate. Under President Obama’s tenure, the Kafkaesque legal nightmare of detainees such as these has become even more entrenched.

The deterioration in detainees’ living conditions is believed to be tied to a recent change in the military command of the prison. It has been reported that under the new command regime, mistreatment of prisoners has increased, exacerbating a situation already desperate after over a decade of torture, solitary confinement, and detainee deaths at the camp.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that a detainee was shot in the neck by a guard, the first incident of gunfire known to have occurred in the camp’s history. In addition to a pervasive atmosphere of violence at the facility – characterized by beatings and other forms of abuse by camp guards – detainees have increasingly had their meager personal effects confiscated or damaged, without cause or explanation. Mundane items such as family photos, letters and CDs have recently been taken away by camp guards and prisoners copies of the Qur’an have been desecrated under the guise of searching for contraband.

To individuals who have spent over a decade imprisoned under draconian circumstances, separated from their families and without any foreseeable prospect of freedom, the latest round of degradations appear to have represented a breaking-point. In the words of Hilary Stauffer, of the UK-based legal charity Reprieve:

“These men are simply trying to pass their days in something that is a reasonable facsimile to ‘normality’, simply trying to survive. To have their small daily pleasures – their Qur’ans, their personal items – confiscated, or desecrated, is an unbearable indignity … the saddest part is their only means of protest is a hunger strike – there is literally no other avenue available to them.”

That the hunger strike is, in large part, a reflection of the increasing hopelessness of the detainees’ situation is obvious to all parties, as well as a direct consequence of the policies of the Obama administration. The passage into law earlier this year of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – which contained language and provisions intended to prevent the closure of Guantánamo and make the transfer of detainees from there impossible – has effectively doomed prisoners prospects of freedom.

Even those already cleared for release now face the prospect of indefinite incarceration at the facility – without even the pretense of legal recourse. Despite being publicly petitioned by human rights groups to veto the bill, the NDAA was signed by President Obama – a direct contradiction of his campaign promise to close the prison.

A further demonstration of the Obama administration’s resolve to keep open Guantánamo and maintain the indefinite incarceration its prisoners came in the reassignment, in January, of Special Envoy Dan Fried. The man tasked with finding new homes for Guantánamo prisoners – a role described as “the most thankless job in Washington” – was notified early this year of his impending transfer and the abolition of his former post. In closing the special envoy position and transferring its portfolio to a State Department legal department ill-equipped to handle it, Obama has sent a clear message that he intends to maintain the present situation at the prison indefinitely. [++]

Revealed: British Citizens Stripped of Status Then Targeted For Killing | Common Dreams

The British government has secretly been stripping citizenship status from British nationals it suspects of terrorism, some of whom were later targeted and killed by drone attacks abroad.

According to an report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and published in the UK’s Independent on Thursday, the investigation “has established that since 2010, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has revoked the passports of 16 individuals, many of whom are alleged to have had links to militant or terrorist groups.”

Subsequently, at least two of these individuals were targeted and then killed in Somalia by missiles fired from US drones.

According to the investigation:

At least five of those deprived of their UK nationality by the Coalition were born in Britain, and one man had lived in the country for almost 50 years. Those affected have their passports cancelled, and lose their right to enter the UK – making it very difficult to appeal against the Home Secretary’s decision.

In the US, where controversy has surrounding the targeted killing of US citizens abroad, no attempt was made to strip those individuals of their citizenship prior to their assassination. But the program in the UK, by stripping legal standing prior to targeting, seems to be an attempt to avoid the contentious idea that the government would kill its own citizens without trial or due process.

In response to the revelations, Clive Stafford Smith, director of the UK-based human rights group Reprieve, tweeted:

What it means to be an ally: Theresa May strips nationality of UK citizens, US kills them with drones, independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/…

— Clive Stafford Smith (@CliveSSmith) February 28, 2013

And as the report describes:

In February last year, international agencies in Africa reported that “four foreign Islamist militants” had been killed in a drone strike south of Somalia’s capital, a day after the country’s Prime Minister called for foreign air strikes against the terror group al-Shabaab.

At the time a senior Western intelligence officer was quoted as saying that a “very senior Egyptian was killed” in the raid, along with three Kenyans and a Somali.

That was technically true – but in reality the Egyptian had not even been born in the country for which he held a passport. It would have been more accurate to describe him as a British terror suspect who once ran a car valeting business in London.

The Bureau has established that the victim of the February air strike was Mohamed Sakr, who was born and brought up in the UK before having his citizenship revoked in September 2010 by the Home Secretary, Theresa May.

Gareth Peirce, a leading immigration defense lawyer in Britain told the TBIJ that the situation “smacked of medieval exile, just as cruel and just as arbitrary”.

“British citizens are being banished from their own country,” she added, “being stripped of a core part of their identity yet without a single word of explanation of why they have been singled out and dubbed a risk.”

And Asim Qureshi, executive director of the human rights group CagePrisoners, responded to the the Bureau’s investigation by saying that the findings were especially troubling for Britons from an ethnic minority background.

“We all feel just as British as everybody else, and yet just because our parents came from another country, we can be subjected to an arbitrary process where we are no longer members of this country any more,” he said.

“I think that’s extremely dangerous because it will speak to people’s fears about how they’re viewed by their own government, especially when they come from certain areas of the world.”

Wait continues for cleared Guantanamo detainees | Michael E. Mone Jr.

We are only into February, and already it is obvious that my client in Guantánamo can throw out his calendar for 2013. No need to go through the exercise of crossing off each passing day, week, and month, hoping that tomorrow might be the day he is finally released. No, forget about 2013, I will tell him. This isn’t your year.

I represent Ali Hussein Al Shaaban, a 30-year-old Syrian national who has spent the last decade in the US prison camp at Guantánamo. This, despite the fact that Ali is one of 86 detainees cleared for transfer since 2009 as a result of a unanimous decision made by the US national security apparatus.

The first blow to Ali’s release came in early January when President Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which contained a number of provisions to prevent the closure of Guantánamo, including language that has made it virtually impossible for cleared detainees like Ali to be transferred. The president was urged by human rights organizations to follow through on his veto threat so as to fulfill his promise to close the prison. But for the second year in a row, Obama failed to exercise his veto and instead signed the bill into law.

Then came word that Ambassador Dan Fried was being reassigned, and his post as special envoy for the closure of Guantánamo Bay would be closed. Fried’s main responsibility had been lobbying foreign governments to consider accepting cleared detainees for resettlement. After I had spent years trying to persuade the Irish government to accept my first client, an Uzbek, for resettlement, it was Fried who came in and closed the deal.

The fact that the Obama administration has reassigned Fried, abolished his office, and given the Guantánamo portfolio to the State Department legal adviser, who probably has a full plate already, tells you all you need to know about how far the closing of Guantánamo has slipped as a priority for this administration. [continue]

Judge Clears Federal Officials of Wrongdoing in Harsh Confinement of Muslims Immediately After 9/11 | The Dissenter

A federal judge dismissed complaints in a lawsuit alleging former Justice Department officials violated the rights of Arab or Muslim immigrants in the immediate months after the September 11th terrorist attacks. The lawsuit, brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, sought to hold the officials accountable for subjecting the immigrants to harsh confinement on the basis of their race, national origin and religion. Still, the judge allowed claims of violations against prison staff to proceed.

[…] The decision by the judge is remarkable in two respects: (1) again, federal officials have escaped accountability for torture and abuse and (2) the judge is at least allowing some of the claims of violations to move forward and there is the potential that the men could win their case.

MDC officers apparently claimed if any remedy was awarded to the men it would “adversely impact” national security. The judge considered this to be completely unfounded:

“Intuition suggests the opposite,” the judge wrote. “If an American jury finds that federal officers deprived detainees of the Koran and Halal food, refused to tell them the correct time of day, and banged on their cell doors while screaming profanities and anti-Muslim epithets, all for the specific purpose of interfering with their exercise of their Muslim faith, one would think our national security interests would only be enhanced if the world knew that those officers were held liable for the damages they caused.”

While the judge did not let the 9/11 terrorist attacks themselves excuse some of the rights violations, he did find this might have impacted how the law enforcement officers believed incorrectly or correctly that their actions were lawful. The judge found 9/11 justified violating the rights of the men to make phone calls and contact persons outside the detention facility. That is troubling because punitive actions by prison officers should not be permitted when there is absolutely no evidence to support the suspicion that detainees have terrorism ties or committed crimes that warrant keeping them imprisoned. (If they’ve violated immigration laws and should be deported, then deport them. Don’t keep them detained incommunicado for an indefinite period of time.)

Overall, the decision lets those who served in high-ranking positions off the hook (again). It does, however, leave open the possibility of some semblance of justice. The ruling does note the seven men are bringing this on behalf of others who were rounded up in a similar manner. What happened in the immediate aftermath to people who were completely innocent was appalling. Since courts have not been open to awarding damages for torture and abuse and have shown complete deference to national security interests since 9/11, that is something that should give the men a bit of hope. [READ]

Obama Should Reconsider US Approach to Bahrain | LobeLog.com

Justice is a fiction in much of the Persian Gulf. Nowhere is this truer than in Bahrain, a place where torture and state terror have become the norm. The country’s political elites talk frequently about freedom and the need for legal and political order. The reality, however, is that Bahrain’s judicial system is little more than theater. The courts are sites in which freedoms are not assured, but where they are subordinated to the whims of centralized tyranny. Over the last two years, Bahrain has blithely ignored almost all of its domestic and international commitments to refrain from torture, to protect free speech and to honor due process, all conventions that the country has ostensibly built into its “constitutional” order.

In the most recent instance, the country’s highest court upheld lengthy prison sentences for 13 prominent human rights and political activists, including life imprisonment in some of the world’s most brutal dungeons. Having already been subjected to late night abductions, military tribunals, torture, and false accusation, it is hardly surprising that the imprisoned were unable to find relief in Bahrain’s sham appeals process.

More remarkable is the unwillingness of Bahrain’s most important Western patron, the United States, to openly acknowledge that its partner and host to the 5th Fleet is not merely managing its way through a crisis, but building a regime of fear and violence all while claiming the opposite. In her comments yesterday at the State Department’s daily briefing, spokesperson Victoria Nuland offered what has become a familiar refrain — a mild rebuke dressed up in principle, but one that makes clear that the US is unwilling to say or do more.

The US position on Bahrain’s excesses, in ways that are eerily similar to the island country’s own theatrical posturing, is more histrionic than substantive. Clearly, in spite of their claims otherwise, American leaders are mostly content with the status quo. Nuland expressed “regret” and “concern” about Bahrain’s high court’s decision to uphold the convictions of key opposition figures yesterday. She added “that this decision further restricts freedom of expression and compromises the atmosphere within Bahrain for reconciliation.”

The reality is that there is nothing further to restrict. The only clear willingness for reconciliation has come from the country’s opposition, not the government. In also calling for further investigations into torture and accountability, Ms. Nuland asks her listeners to suspend disbelief and to consider seriously that Bahrain has any real interest in the pursuit of a meaningful resolution. It has been clear for two years that Bahrain’s leaders desire victory and vengeance, the total destruction of the democratic opposition.

While American leaders almost certainly would prefer a political resolution to Bahrain’s challenges, they have done little to help advance the cause. Bahrain’s leaders have learned that mild admonishment is a small price to pay while they consolidate a new era of authoritarianism. They understand that the American approach is feeble and feckless, if often justified, because of Bahrain’s strategic significance. Long a reliable partner in the US mission to police and patrol the Persian Gulf and to ensure the “flow of oil,” American unwillingness to come down too hard on Manama is also a sign of deference to Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has little interest in seeing Bahrain’s opposition enjoy political gain.

It is, however, well past time to think seriously about whether US strategy in the Gulf is working or, instead, whether it helps abet the very conditions of instability that threaten the region and prospects for more open and durable regional politics. The reality is that oil’s flow does not need protecting. Bahrain does not deserve a pass because it is home to American military facilities.

Obama’s Embrace of Rendition & the Appearance of Three Men with Somali Roots in Federal Court | Kevin Gosztola

[The] three men picked up in Somalia are wanted for fighting in a group that the US has designated as a “terrorist organization” against forces backed by the US. There is no evidence of the time that they plotted any attacks or were coming to America with al-Shabaab fighters intent on carrying out some kind of nefarious plot. This means a court is going to try and prosecute these men essentially for being on what the US government considers to be the wrong side of a conflict in Somalia.

The FBI claims they were on their way to Yemen. Suppose they were, in fact, headed to Yemen and headed to fight alongside militants, they would be facing charges that stem from the suspicion that they would be fighting on the wrong side of the conflict in Yemen and against US interests.

The involvement of British and Swedish agents or intelligence agencies is unknown, but it appears these men were being tracked. They would not submit to the agenda of the US national security state and consequently were swept up, sent to Djibouti, held in detention and disappeared and then, after being indicted secretly, moved from Djibouti to New York.

And, if it is true the men are being charged for their engagement in militant activities or intent to engage in militant activities that the US considers terrorism, then the Obama administration should have to reconcile this with the use of drones to extrajudicially assassinate people.

Why didn’t the Obama administration just attack these men with a drone and report them as “militants” who needed to be turned into bugsplat?

Writer Falguni Sheth explored this question:

Why suddenly render these three Somalis to the US and have them appear publicly in a NY Federal Court? If they were “accidentally” killed, there might be a small roar of protest, but the US government has stood tall in the face of much worse uproars. Most likely, it is useful to make a public example of them to ordinary Muslim migrants who are interested in sending money to relatives or for charitable purposes, in the face of dubious restrictions. It has been a standard practice for the Obama Administration to prosecute Muslims for charitable donations, as the family of Dr. Shakir Hamoodi and members of the Holy Land Foundation will attest.

It definitely is a question to keep in mind as the case unfolds. This case could stir a lot of controversy internationally yet successfully prosecuting the men would send a clear message to Somali communities or any other individuals who might dare to be on the wrong side of US operations or involvement in foreign countries, especially in poor Middle Eastern or African countries.

READ.
newsflick:


Mo Farah stopped at customs? He’s not alone…
Yes, as Jamal Osman, a UK Journalist and a fellow Somali put it Mo Farah isn’t alone in his troublesome encounters with customs and security agencies. In fact many Somalis, and I can’t stress the “many” part enough, share the same plight.
Unfortunately for us, our community has come under the gaze of UK security agencies after the Al Qaeda aligned Al Shabaab (The Youth) forces caught a foothold in Somalia.
And this gaze manifested in the relentless targeting of this young immigrant community.
As Jamal says, many young Somalis suffer in silence not able to share their stories. And for far too long I’ve never shared mine, so here is my story.
On the summer of 2009, I received a phone call from a private number. I usually don’t pick up private numbers, but I was looking for a summer job in between my university break at the time, so I eagerly picked up. And the conversation continued as follows.


“Hi, is this Sayid?”“Yes, speaking”“My name is David, and I am calling from the secret service, do you know what that is?”“Yes, do you mean MI5?”“Yes, don’t worry you’re not in trouble, you haven’t done anything”“I know I haven’t”


Yes, I was spooked out. A million questions ran across my head. As “David” explained they wanted to meet with me to ask me questions about a school friend who was convicted for a terrorism related offence.
In this day and age, being a Muslim, you are bound to know someone who either is convicted, charged or suspected of terrorism.
As innocent as their request was, I wanted nothing to do with it. As far as I was concerned the person in question was doing his time, and I didn’t want to get involved with mysterious spies who in my book didn’t have the best record when it came to human rights (referring to torture and renditions).
But “David’ was adamant to meet me alone and resulted to slight threats, the kind you would need to read between the lines. The fact that he could pay me a visit where I live, and this obviously meant I would get my family involved.
Somali families do not like to be bothered by the police or even worse the MI5. They feel the least they can do for their host country is to be law-abiding citizens.
After several phone calls the subliminal treats turned to offers of money for my service. Tempting right? Especially for a student who is looking for work.
Thankfully I wasn’t raised up on such morals. I wanted this to end, and so it did. At least the phone calls did.
To date I do not know what their real purpose was. I offered to answer any questions they had via email, but did not receive any.
In this community, talk is rife with young men getting quizzed by mysterious men and women. Some of these mysterious people come in disguise. They offer money to spy on their community.
This story did not end here. Unfortunately for me the phone calls was just the beginning. The biggest difficulty that many face is at the borders.
Like many others, I have never committed a crime, yet you are made to feel like the biggest criminal in the world upon entering the UK borders. All because you look different.
At Heathrow airport in the summer of 2010 on my way back from a trip to Egypt after graduating from university, I meet Rob and David. Rob and David are police officers, or they are pretending to be police officers but are in fact secret service? Either way they stop me at customs and it was the most unpleasant experience I have ever had.
“Don’t worry you haven’t done anything, we just want to ask you a few questions.”
These few questions took three hours and at the end of it all they took my mug shots, the type they take of criminals. Fingerprints and DNA samples were taken. I have never felt so violated.
How could all of this be done in the name of security? What happened to human rights?
A year later, I came back from a family wedding in Sweden via Stansted airport. A friendly customs officer greeted me. Being British we joked about the weather. But the smile soon evaporated upon scanning my passport. It was as if he had seen a ghost.


“Is every thing ok?”“No…yes…just…just take a seat!”


I sat down while others; some of whom were on the same flight as me, look on and go through with ease. They must be thinking I’m an illegal immigrant. But little do they know this is meant to be my country too.
I am a humanitarian aid worker, and my work involves frequent travelling to humanitarian hotspots around the world. I enjoy what I do because I believe I am saving lives. I can see the impact of what I do, every time I go and visit one of our projects.
In this era of post 9/11 - 7/7 the UK has adopted draconian policies and laws when it comes to its Muslim population. Where people are being held without charge, extradited, held in secret locations around the world, and most recently striped of citizenship.
It appears the British security services have been given a blank cheque to do as they please in the name of security. But they could be causing us more harm than good in the long run, as it will only create anger, mistrust and will further alienate the community.
I am a very patient person and for the most part this allows me to deal with being stopped at UK borders and being asked ridiculously silly questions but I hope there is an end to this.
By Sayid Aden Ali |NewsFlick

READ.

newsflick:

Mo Farah stopped at customs? He’s not alone…

Yes, as Jamal Osman, a UK Journalist and a fellow Somali put it Mo Farah isn’t alone in his troublesome encounters with customs and security agencies. In fact many Somalis, and I can’t stress the “many” part enough, share the same plight.

Unfortunately for us, our community has come under the gaze of UK security agencies after the Al Qaeda aligned Al Shabaab (The Youth) forces caught a foothold in Somalia.

And this gaze manifested in the relentless targeting of this young immigrant community.

As Jamal says, many young Somalis suffer in silence not able to share their stories. And for far too long I’ve never shared mine, so here is my story.

On the summer of 2009, I received a phone call from a private number. I usually don’t pick up private numbers, but I was looking for a summer job in between my university break at the time, so I eagerly picked up. And the conversation continued as follows.

“Hi, is this Sayid?”
“Yes, speaking”
“My name is David, and I am calling from the secret service, do you know what that is?”
“Yes, do you mean MI5?”
“Yes, don’t worry you’re not in trouble, you haven’t done anything”
“I know I haven’t”

Yes, I was spooked out. A million questions ran across my head. As “David” explained they wanted to meet with me to ask me questions about a school friend who was convicted for a terrorism related offence.

In this day and age, being a Muslim, you are bound to know someone who either is convicted, charged or suspected of terrorism.

As innocent as their request was, I wanted nothing to do with it. As far as I was concerned the person in question was doing his time, and I didn’t want to get involved with mysterious spies who in my book didn’t have the best record when it came to human rights (referring to torture and renditions).

But “David’ was adamant to meet me alone and resulted to slight threats, the kind you would need to read between the lines. The fact that he could pay me a visit where I live, and this obviously meant I would get my family involved.

Somali families do not like to be bothered by the police or even worse the MI5. They feel the least they can do for their host country is to be law-abiding citizens.

After several phone calls the subliminal treats turned to offers of money for my service. Tempting right? Especially for a student who is looking for work.

Thankfully I wasn’t raised up on such morals. I wanted this to end, and so it did. At least the phone calls did.

To date I do not know what their real purpose was. I offered to answer any questions they had via email, but did not receive any.

In this community, talk is rife with young men getting quizzed by mysterious men and women. Some of these mysterious people come in disguise. They offer money to spy on their community.

This story did not end here. Unfortunately for me the phone calls was just the beginning. The biggest difficulty that many face is at the borders.

Like many others, I have never committed a crime, yet you are made to feel like the biggest criminal in the world upon entering the UK borders. All because you look different.

At Heathrow airport in the summer of 2010 on my way back from a trip to Egypt after graduating from university, I meet Rob and David. Rob and David are police officers, or they are pretending to be police officers but are in fact secret service? Either way they stop me at customs and it was the most unpleasant experience I have ever had.

“Don’t worry you haven’t done anything, we just want to ask you a few questions.”

These few questions took three hours and at the end of it all they took my mug shots, the type they take of criminals. Fingerprints and DNA samples were taken. I have never felt so violated.

How could all of this be done in the name of security? What happened to human rights?

A year later, I came back from a family wedding in Sweden via Stansted airport. A friendly customs officer greeted me. Being British we joked about the weather. But the smile soon evaporated upon scanning my passport. It was as if he had seen a ghost.

“Is every thing ok?”
“No…yes…just…just take a seat!”

I sat down while others; some of whom were on the same flight as me, look on and go through with ease. They must be thinking I’m an illegal immigrant. But little do they know this is meant to be my country too.

I am a humanitarian aid worker, and my work involves frequent travelling to humanitarian hotspots around the world. I enjoy what I do because I believe I am saving lives. I can see the impact of what I do, every time I go and visit one of our projects.

In this era of post 9/11 - 7/7 the UK has adopted draconian policies and laws when it comes to its Muslim population. Where people are being held without charge, extradited, held in secret locations around the world, and most recently striped of citizenship.

It appears the British security services have been given a blank cheque to do as they please in the name of security. But they could be causing us more harm than good in the long run, as it will only create anger, mistrust and will further alienate the community.

I am a very patient person and for the most part this allows me to deal with being stopped at UK borders and being asked ridiculously silly questions but I hope there is an end to this.

By Sayid Aden Ali |NewsFlick

(Source: newsflick)

An Interview With Noam Chomsky on Obama’s Human Rights Record | Counterpunch

Obama’s policies have been approximately the same as Bush’s, though there have been some slight differences, but that’s not a great surprise. The Democrats supported Bush’s policies. There were some objections on mostly partisan grounds, but for the most part, they supported his policies and it’s not surprising that they have continued to do so. In some respects Obama has gone even beyond Bush. The NDAA, which you mentioned, was not initiated by Obama, (when it passed Congress, he said he didn’t approve of it and wouldn’t implement it) but he nevertheless did sign it into law and did not veto it. It was pushed through by hawks, including Joe Lieberman and others. In fact, there hasn’t been that much of a change. The worst part of the NDAA is that it codified – or put into law – what had already been a regular practice. The practices hadn’t been significantly different. The one part that received public attention is what you mentioned, the part that permits the indefinite detention of American citizens, but why permit the indefinite detention of anybody? It’s a gross violation of fundamental human rights and civil law, going all the way back to the Magna Carta in the 13th  Century, so it’s a very severe attack on elementary civil rights, both under Bush and under Obama. It’s bipartisan!

As for the killings, Obama has sharply increased the global assassination campaign. While it was initiated by Bush, it has expanded under Obama and it has included American citizens, again with bipartisan support and very little criticism other than some minor criticism because it was an American. But then again, why should you have the right to assassinate anybody? For example, suppose Iran was assassinating members of Congress who were calling for an attack on Iran. Would we think that’s fine? That would be much more justified, but of course we’d see that as an act of war. The real question is, why assassinate anyone? The government has made it very clear that the assassinations are personally approved by Obama and the criteria for assassination are very weak. If a group of men are seen somewhere by a drone who are, say, loading something into a truck, and there is some suspicion that maybe they are militants, then it’s fine to kill them and they are regarded as guilty unless, subsequently, they are shown to be innocent. That’s the wording that the United States used and it is such a gross violation of fundamental human rights that you can hardly talk about it.

The question of due process actually did arise, since the US does have a constitution and it says that no person shall be deprived of their rights without due process of law – again, this goes back to 13th Century England – so the question arose, “What about due process?” The Obama Justice Department’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, explained that there was due process in these cases because they are discussed first at the Executive Branch. That’s not even a bad joke! The British kings from the 13th Century would have applauded. “Sure, if we talk about it, that’s due process.” And that, again, passed without controversy.

In fact, we might ask the same question about the murder of Osama Bin Laden. Notice I use the term “murder”. When heavily armed elite troops capture a suspect, unarmed and defenseless, accompanied by his wives, and then shoot him, kill him, and dump his body into the ocean without an autopsy, that’s shear assassination. Also notice that I said “suspect”. The reason is because of another principle of law, that also goes back to the 13th Century – that a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Before that, he’s a suspect. In the case of Osama Bin Laden, the United States had never formally charged him with 9/11 and part of the reason was that they didn’t know that he was responsible. In fact, eight months after 9/11 and after the most intensive inquiry in history, the FBI explained that it suspected that the 9/11 plot was hatched in Afghanistan, (didn’t mention Bin Laden) and was implemented in the United Arab Emirates, Germany, and of course the United States. That’s eight months after the attack and there’s nothing substantive that they’ve learned since then that does more than increase the suspicion. My own assumption is that the suspicion is almost certainly correct, but there’s a big difference between having a very confident belief and showing someone to be guilty. And even if he’s guilty, he was supposed to be apprehended and brought before a court. That’s British and American law going back eight centuries. He’s not supposed to be murdered and have his body dumped without an autopsy, but support for this is very nearly universal. Actually, I wrote one of the few critical articles on it and my article was bitterly condemned by commentators across the spectrum, including the Left, because the assassination was so obviously just, since we suspected him of committing a crime against us. And that tells you something about the significant, I would say, “moral degeneration” running throughout the whole intellectual class. And yes, Obama has continued this and in some respects extended it, but it hardly comes as a surprise.

The rot is much deeper than that. [++]

Roger Waters indicts Israel at the UN | P U L S E

We are delighted that an overwhelming majority of countries at the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine to a non-member observer status.  To coincide with this, here is Roger Waters, the front man for Pink Floyd … speaking earlier in the day, on behalf of the Russell Tribunal, delivering his indictment of Israeli criminality at the UN and making a plea for the recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state.

humanrightswatch:

Burma: Satellite Images Show Widespread Attacks on Rohingya
Attacks and arson in late October by ethnic Arakanese against Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State were at times carried out with the support of state security forces and local government officials, Human Rights Watch said today. New satellite imagery obtained by Human Rights Watch shows extensive destruction of homes and other property in the predominantly Rohingya Muslim areas of Pauktaw, Mrauk-U, and Myebon townships, all sites of violence and displacement in late October 2012.
Damage Analysis: Human Rights Watch; Satellite Sensor: Pléiades-1; Image © ASTRIUM 2012; Source: SpotImage

humanrightswatch:

Burma: Satellite Images Show Widespread Attacks on Rohingya

Attacks and arson in late October by ethnic Arakanese against Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State were at times carried out with the support of state security forces and local government officials, Human Rights Watch said today. New satellite imagery obtained by Human Rights Watch shows extensive destruction of homes and other property in the predominantly Rohingya Muslim areas of Pauktaw, Mrauk-U, and Myebon townships, all sites of violence and displacement in late October 2012.

Damage Analysis: Human Rights Watch; Satellite Sensor: Pléiades-1; Image © ASTRIUM 2012; Source: SpotImage

Bahrain police kill teenager trying to attend Friday prayer | Al Akhbar

Bahraini security forces Friday killed a 16-year-old boy trying to enter a mosque blocked by police during weekly prayers, according to opposition sources.

Activists cited eyewitnesses who claimed Ali Abbas Radhi was chased and run over by military vehicles as he approached the besieged mosque in Diraz village. Bahrain’s Interior Ministry identified the slain Bahraini as a “pedestrian” who died when a car hit him in the capital’s city center. The Ministry initially said he was “Asian,” but went on to issue a correction that said he was Bahraini.

Security forces have set up checkpoints around the mosque and fired tear gas at worshippers trying to reach Friday prayers led by Sheikh Isa Qassim, who denounced Bahrain’s move to revoke the nationalities of 31 Bahrainis this week.

More than 55 people have died and hundreds have been killed since the start of an uprising against Bahrain’s monarchy in February 2011.