Tag Archives: human rights

Throwing Shoes at Bush to Reject the Lies, Occupation, Killing of Innocent People

Muntazer al-Zaidi released after throwing shoes at Bush

The Iraqi who threw his Shoe at George W. Bush: “My Flower” to Bush, the Occupier
The Story of My Shoe

Mutadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi who threw his shoe at George Bush gave this speech on his recent release.

In the name of God, the most gracious and most merciful.

Here I am, free. But my country is still a prisoner of war.

Firstly, I give my thanks and my regards to everyone who stood beside me, whether inside my country, in the Islamic world, in the free world. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act.

But, simply, I answer: What compelled me to confront is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.

And how it wanted to crush the skulls of (the homeland’s) sons under its boots, whether sheikhs, women, children or men. And during the past few years, more than a million martyrs fell by the bullets of the occupation and the country is now filled with more than 5 million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. And many millions of homeless because of displacement inside and outside the country.

We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shiite would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ, may peace be upon him. And despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than 10 years, for more than a decade.

Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. Until we were invaded by the illusion of liberation that some had. (The occupation) divided one brother from another, one neighbor from another, and the son from his uncle. It turned our homes into never-ending funeral tents. And our graveyards spread into parks and roadsides. It is a plague. It is the occupation that is killing us, that is violating the houses of worship and the sanctity of our homes and that is throwing thousands daily into makeshift prisons.

I am not a hero, and I admit that. But I have a point of view and I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated. And to see my Baghdad burned. And my people being killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, and this weighs on me every day and pushes me toward the righteous path, the path of confrontation, the path of rejecting injustice, deceit and duplicity. It deprived me of a good night’s sleep.

Dozens, no, hundreds, of images of massacres that would turn the hair of a newborn white used to bring tears to my eyes and wound me. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Fallujah, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. In the past years, I traveled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and hear with my own ears the screams of the bereaved and the orphans. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

And as soon as I finished my professional duties in reporting the daily tragedies of the Iraqis, and while I washed away the remains of the debris of the ruined Iraqi houses, or the traces of the blood of victims that stained my clothes, I would clench my teeth and make a pledge to our victims, a pledge of vengeance.

The opportunity came, and I took it.

I took it out of loyalty to every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.

I say to those who reproach me: Do you know how many broken homes that shoe that I threw had entered because of the occupation? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? And how many times it had entered homes in which free Iraqi women and their sanctity had been violated? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

After six years of humiliation, of indignity, of killing and violations of sanctity, and desecration of houses of worship, the killer comes, boasting, bragging about victory and democracy. He came to say goodbye to his victims and wanted flowers in response.

Put simply, that was my flower to the occupier, and to all who are in league with him, whether by spreading lies or taking action, before the occupation or after.

Full Story

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Obama Has Fully Embraced Bush Administration Torture

Obama Administration Seeks To Keep Torture Victims From Having Day In Court

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The Justice Department today argued that the victims of the “extraordinary rendition” program should not have their day in court, asking a federal appeals court to block a landmark case the court had earlier ruled could go forward. In April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen DataPlan Inc., for its role in the Bush administration’s unlawful “extraordinary rendition” program could proceed, but today the government asked the appeals court’s full panel of judges to rehear that decision.

The Obama administration has now fully embraced the Bush administration’s shameful effort to immunize torturers and their enablers from any legal consequences for their actions,” said Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “The CIA’s rendition and torture program is not a ‘state secret;’ it’s an international scandal. If the Obama administration has its way, no torture victim will ever have his day in court, and future administrations will be free to pursue torture policies without any fear of liability.”

In April, the appeals court reversed a lower court dismissal of the lawsuit, brought on behalf of five men who were kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated under torture. The Bush administration had intervened, improperly asserting the “state secrets” privilege to have the case thrown out. The appeals court ruled, as the ACLU has argued, that the government must invoke the “state secrets” privilege with respect to specific evidence, not to dismiss the entire suit.

“The extraordinary rendition program is well known throughout the world. The only place it hasn’t been discussed is where it most cries out for examination – in a U.S. court of law,” said Steven Watt, a staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program. “Attempts to keep this case from moving forward fly in the face of Obama’s promise to reaffirm our commitment to domestic and international human rights law and restore an America we can be proud of. Victims of extraordinary rendition deserve their day in court.”

In recent years, the government has asserted the “state secrets” claim with increasing regularity in an attempt to throw out lawsuits and justify withholding information from the public not only about the rendition program, but also about illegal wiretapping, torture and other breaches of U.S. and international law. Full Story

ACLU Wants Two-Thousand Rape, Torture Photos Released

New photos show rape of detainees by US soldiers

Just as President Barack Obama’s Middle East tour is starting, a scandal is brewing regarding photos of detainees being abused in Iraqi jails. The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for a federal court appeal on the Obama administration’s decision not to release the pictures which, some reports claim, show sexually explicit acts, including rape.

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Lynndie England – “Rumsfeld knew”

In this interview with England I hear no remorse in her words. Rather she appears narcissistic and sociopathic.

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She is one of the faces symbolizing the Iraq war. Pictures showing her abusing Iraqi detainees in Abu Graib prison brought her notorious fame throughout the world. In her first interview in three years Lynndie England talks about Abu Ghraib, about Charles Graner, about guilt, her current life – and the role of the Bush administration.

Mrs. England, a year ago you were released from jail after serving 521 days of a three-year sentence. How are you feeling now?

Not great but good.

What does that mean?

(She sighs) Oh, it’s just little things going wrong. I’m just trying to get by. Trying to find a job, trying to find a house. It’s been harder than I expected. I went to a couple of interviews, and I thought they went great. I wrote dozens of applications. Nothing came of it. I put in at Wal-Mart, at Staples. I’d do any job. But I never heard from them.

Do you think your name has anything to do with it?

I am starting to wonder if they realize who I am and they don’t want the publicity. I don’t want to lie. On my resume I have a brief little paragraph about what I did in the army and about being in prison and that I’m still on parole. I want to be totally honest. I have to find a job by September, that’s part of the parole regulations. If you break the rules, then they can bring you back. That would be a big deal because I don’t want to leave my son.

How do you get by? What do you live on?

We just got our taxes back. Thank God. Otherwise, I don’t know. I live in a trailer with my parents. My Dad works for the railway and he tries to help out with bills and my Mom helps me with what she gets.

You live in Ashby, a small town with a population of 1300. How do people treat you now?

They don’t treat me any different. I haven’t met a person yet that’s been negative to me. Not since I got home. Most of them back me up one hundred percent. They say, “What happened to you was wrong.” And some even say they would have done the same thing.

What do they mean by “They would have done the same thing”?

That they would have followed orders, just as I did in Abu Ghraib.

Why did you join the army at the age of 17 and against the express wishes of your mother?

I always wanted to be in the military. My whole life. I just didn’t know what branch – Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force. I just wanted to serve my country and be a patriot, I guess. As a child I mainly grew up on military gung-ho movies so that’s where I got the idea. Old Chuck Norris movies, “Delta Force”, “Rambo”, “Missing in Action”, “Platoon”. Full Interview

Sounding Increasingly, and Disturbingly, Like Bush

In reversing himself and declaring that the US government will not release further photos in its possession of torture being practiced on captives held by the US military and the CIA, President Obama is sounding increasingly like the Bush/Cheney administration before him.

It may well be that, as Obama says, release of those photos could lead to anger in the Islamic world and perhaps to recruitment gains among groups like Al Qaeda that are attacking American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but this is only true because at the same time, the Obama administration is opposing taking any legal action against the people who authorized and promoted that torture.

If the Obama administration were to open a full-scale legal investigation into torture, with an independent prosecutor assigned to go after anyone who violated the Geneva Conventions and the US Criminal Code outlawing torture and the authorization, condoning or covering-up of torture, quite the opposite would happen: people in the Islamic world would see that this nation was coming to terms with those who abused the law. The horrifying and sickening pictures would be seen as part of the process of exposing and punishing the crime of torture. Full Story

Related Stories:

The Real Photos Show Torture, Abuse, Rape and Every Indecency
The Torture Photos Obama Refuses to Release

‘The Impoverishment of Many to Satisfy the Greed of a Few’

Amnesty International Report 2009

IT’S NOT JUST THE ECONOMY, IT’S A HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS

In September 2008 I was in New York to attend the UN high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the internationally agreed targets to reduce poverty by 2015. Delegate after delegate talked about the need for more funds to eradicate hunger, to cut preventable deaths of infants and pregnant women, to provide clean water and sanitation, to educate girls. The life and dignity of billions of people were at stake, but there was only limited will to back up the talk with money. As I left the UN building I could see the ticker tapes running a very different story coming from another part of Manhattan: the crash of one of the largest investment banks on Wall Street. It was a telling sign of where world attention and resources were really focused. Rich and powerful governments were suddenly able to find many more times the sums that could not be found to stem poverty. They poured them with abundance into failing banks and stimulus packages for economies that had been allowed to run amok for years and were now running aground.

By the end of 2008, it was clear that our two-tier world of deprivation and gluttony – the impoverishment of many to satisfy the greed of a few – was collapsing into a deep hole.

As with the case of climate change, so too with global economic recession: the rich are responsible for most of the damaging action, but it is the poor who suffer the worst consequences. While no one is being spared the sharp bite of the recession, the woes of the rich countries are nothing compared with the disasters unfolding in poorer ones. From migrant workers in China to miners in Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), people desperately trying to drag themselves out of poverty are feeling the brunt sharply. The World Bank has predicted 53 million more people will be thrown into poverty this year, on top of the 150 million hit by the food crisis last year, wiping out the gains of the last decade. International Labour Organization figures suggest that between 18 and 51 million people could lose their jobs. Skyrocketing food prices are leading to more hunger and disease, forced evictions and foreclosures to more homelessness and destitution.

“The world needs a different kind of leadership, a different kind of politics as well as economics – something that works for all and not just for a favoured few.”

While it is too early to predict the full impact on human rights of the profligacy of recent years, it is clear that the human rights costs and consequences of the economic crisis will cast long shadows. It is also clear that not only have governments abdicated economic and financial regulation to market forces, they have failed abysmally to protect human rights, lives and livelihoods.

Billions of people are suffering from insecurity, injustice and indignity. This is a human rights crisis. Full Story

The Torture Photos Obama Refuses to Release

President Obama’s refusal to release torture photos that would help incriminate the Bush administration is further proof that the status quo remains steadfast and corrupt. You may recall that Obama’s nonstop campaign criticism of Bush changed once the election was over. In a CNN interview Obama said: ” I mean, I think personally he is a good man who loves his family and loves his country.”

The torture photos, most of which have been circulating on the internet for some time, have recently been published on several sites. The images – grisly and disgusting – have been done in the name of Americans, with taxpayer money. While such torturous tactics are beyond cruel and inhumane, it is important to remember that many of the prisoners are innocent, and most have never been allowed the right to trial.

In Reversal, Obama Seeks to Block Abuse Photos

Torture hearing – CNN

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It is (apparently) the first 13 images of the slideshow that we’ve been told Obama is refusing to release. Please be forewarned of the graphic disturbing images of the photos.

Ex-Bush Official: Many at Guantanamo Bay Are Innocent

Obama’s Threats to Protect Torture

we do not torture

Obama administration threatens Britain to keep torture evidence concealed

Ever since he was released from Guantanamo in February after six years of due-process-less detention and brutal torture, Binyam Mohamed has been attempting to obtain justice for what was done to him. But his torturers have been continuously protected, and Mohamed’s quest for a day in court repeatedly thwarted, by one individual: Barack Obama. Today, there is new and graphic evidence of just how far the Obama administration is going to prevent evidence of the Bush administration’s torture program from becoming public.

In February, Obama’s DOJ demanded dismissal of Mohamed’s lawsuit against the company which helped “render” him to be tortured on the ground that national security would be harmed if the lawsuit continued. Then, after a British High Court ruled that there was credible evidence that Mohamed was subjected to brutal torture and was entitled to obtain evidence in the possession of the British government which detailed the CIA’s treatment of Mohamed, and after a formal police inquiry began into allegations that British agents collaborated in his torture, the British government cited threats from the U.S. government that it would no longer engage in intelligence-sharing with Britain — i.e., it would no longer pass on information about terrorist threats aimed at British citizens — if the British court disclosed the facts of Mohamed’s torture.

As I wrote about in February, those threats from the U.S. caused the British High Court to reverse itself and rule that, in light of these threats from the U.S., it would keep seven paragraphs detailing Mohamed’s torture concealed. From the British court’s ruling:

The United States Government’s position is that, if the redacted paragraphs are made public, then the United States will re-evaluate its intelligence-sharing relationship with the United Kingdom with the real risk that it would reduce the intelligence it provided (para. 62) . . . . [and] there is a real risk, if we restored the redacted paragraphs, the United States Government, by its review of the shared intelligence arrangements, could inflict on the citizens of the United Kingdom a very considerable increase in the dangers they face at a time when a serious terrorist threat still pertains (para. 106).

Just think how despicable that threat is: if your court describes the torture to which one of your residents was subjected while in U.S. custody, we will withhold information from you that could enable you to break up terrorist plots aimed at your citizens. Full Story

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Gitmo Detainee’s ‘Genitals Were Sliced With A Scalpel,’ Waterboarding ‘Far Down The List Of Things They Did

Last week, two British High Court judges ruled against releasing documents describing the treatment of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who is currently being held at Guantanamo Bay. The judges said the Bush administration “had threatened to withhold intelligence cooperation with Britain if the information were made public.”

But The Daily Telegraph reported over the weekend that the documents actually “contained details of how British intelligence officers supplied information to [Mohamed’s] captors and contributed questions while he was brutally tortured.” In fact, it was British officials, not the Americans, who pressured Foreign Secretary David Miliband “to do nothing that would leave serving MI6 officers open to prosecution.” According to the Telegraph’s sources, the documents describe particularly gruesome interrogation tactics:

The 25 lines edited out of the court papers contained details of how Mr Mohamed’s genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, “is very far down the list of things they did,” the official said.

Another source familiar with the case said: “British intelligence officers knew about the torture and didn’t do anything about it.”

“It is very clear who stands to be embarrassed by this and who is being protected by this secrecy. It is not the Americans, it is Labour ministers,” former shadow home secretary David Davis said. But one unnamed U.S. House Judiciary Committee member told the Telegraph that if President Obama “doesn’t act we could hold a hearing or write to subpoena the documents. We need to know what’s in those documents.”

Mohamed remains at Guantanamo Bay and “is currently on hunger strike.” “All terror charges against him were dropped last year,” the Telegraph reported.

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John Sifton: Torture Investigation Should Focus on Est. 100 Prisoner Deaths

Obama Protects CIA, Condones Torture

‘Obama has violated international law’

See: CIA Interrogation: ‘Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment’