Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Algerian government fails to prove accusation against human rights defenders held in Italy

September 17, 2015

On 15 September 2015, the Turin Court of Appeal ruled to release Algerian human rights defender Mr Rachid Mesli, who has been under house arrest since 22 August 2015, and to allow him to leave the country, as reported by Front Line Defenders.

 

The human rights defender was released before the end of the 40 day period during which the Algerian government could submit a formal request for extradition. The Court recognised Rachid Mesli’s important and peaceful work in the defence of human rights, as well as the high risk of torture he would face if returned to Algeria. While the court is yet to make its final decision on the extradition warrant, the release order highlighted that, according to the information received, Rachid Mesli’s human rights activities were not in any way related to terrorism.

On 22 August, the Italian court placed the human rights defender under house arrest following three days in detention in Aosta prison. Rachid Mesli was arrested on 19 August 2015 (https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29390) as he travelled to Italy on holiday with his wife and son. The arrest occurred as a result of an arrest warrant issued by the Algerian authorities in April 2002 on terrorism-related charges.

[Rachid Mesli is the Legal Director of Alkarama, an independent human rights organisation based in Geneva that works to assist victims of extra-judicial executions, disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention in Arab states. And this is not first effort by the Algerian government see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/mourad-dhina-algerian-head-of-the-human-rights-organization-alkarama-detained-in-france/]

Interesting tot note Front Line Defenders’ call on Interpol to ensure the legitimacy of all warrants issued by its members and to put in place safeguards so that the system cannot be abused in order to target human rights defenders.

Human Rights NGOs in UK under pressure from politicians and tabloids not to be ‘apologists’ for terrorism

March 3, 2015

It is not often that the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, writes about human rights defenders, but when it does [3 March 2015], it is vicious. Under the headline “No excuses! Theresa May leads politicians queuing up to blast British apologists for ISIS murderers“, it zooms in on Amnesty International and other NGOs that have worked on occasion with a local group called Cage. The latter is an islamic group led by a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Moazzam Begg. The group’s research director, Asim Qureshi, recently described IS killer Mohammed Emwazi (“Jihadi John“) as a ‘beautiful young man’ and accused the security services of radicalising him.

This then led British politicians, from government and opposition, to outbid each other in the strongest possible terms to demand that everybody distance themselves from that group. E.g., Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said: ‘I condemn anyone who attempts to excuse that barbarism in the way that has been done by Cage.‘ Jacqui Smith, a Labour former Home Secretary, called Cage ‘outrageous apologists

Steve Crawshaw, of the office of the secretary general at Amnesty, admitted yesterday it was ‘highly unlikely’ they would work with Cage again, although together with Liberty, Justice and five other human rights groups, it had joined with Cage in a ‘collective’ to make representations to an inquiry into the treatment of British Army detainees.
Asked if Amnesty had played to a ‘myth’ of victimisation, Mr Crawshaw added: ‘I don’t think we have played to anybody’s myth. I can’t condemn strongly enough anybody, in any context who seeks to find some justification somehow for how they can justify killing civilians…Our colleagues there (in Iraq) are risking lives in order to document the terrible crimes of IS and therefore to hear somehow that we are turning away from those things, I do think is quite extraordinary.’

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said yesterday: ‘Amnesty has no formal or financial relationship with Cage. Amnesty has, along with a number of others human rights organisations, worked on issues relating to Guantanamo and torture.’

Read more: No excuses! Theresa May leads politicians queuing up to blast British apologists for ISIS murderers | Daily Mail Online.

Another passionate plea by UN High Commissioner for better education and global leadership

February 6, 2015


High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein delivers his speech at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Credit: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum | Photo: Miriam Lomaskin

In an impressive speech on 5 February 2015 at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. – one week after the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein emphasized that education devoid of a strong universal human rights component can be next to worthless, especially in a crisis. “What good was it to humanity that…eight out of 15 people who planned the Holocaust at Wannsee in 1942 held PhDs?” he asked. “In the years after the Holocaust, specific treaties were negotiated to cement into law obligations to protect human rights. Countries the world over accepted them – and now alas, all too frequently, they ignore them in practice.” While it has been 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz extermination camp, some of the processes used by the Nazis to carry out humanity’s largest organized destruction are being implemented again today by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), explained Mr. Zeid.

This logic is abundant around the world today: I torture because a war justifies it. I spy on my citizens because terrorism, repulsive as it is, requires it. I don’t want new immigrants, or I discriminate against minorities, because our communal identity or my way of life is being threatened as never before. I kill others, because others will kill me – and so it goes, on and on.

Since the world cannot afford “sinking into a state of paralyzing shock…the task is to strengthen our ethics, clarity, openness of thought, and moral courage,” calling for new battle lines to combat extremism – based on the struggle for minds.

Children need to learn what bigotry and chauvinism are…they need to learn that blind obedience can be exploited by authority figures for wicked ends. They should learn that they are not an exception because of where they were born, how they look, what passport they carry, or the social class, caste or creed of their parents; they should learn that no one is intrinsically superior to her or his fellow human beings,” said Mr. Zeid.

The world needs “profound and inspiring” leaders who fully observe human rights and humanitarian law and all the treaties drafted to end discrimination, poverty, war, “with no excuses.”

It is obvious, Mr. Zeid continued, that forceful reprisals against atrocities – including “the savage burning of my compatriot the pilot Mu’ath al Kassassbeh” by ISIL – have had limited impact. Leaders must adopt a “battle-line based on ideas,” to speak out against Takfiri ideology (when one believer apostasies another believer and condemns them as impure). The movement to end that dangerous ideology must be waged by Muslim leaders and Muslim countries, he said.

Just bombing them or choking off their financing has clearly not worked…for these groups have only proliferated and grown in strength,” he said. “The space for dissent in many countries is collapsing under the weight of either poorly-thought out, or indeed, exploitative, counter-terrorism strategies.”

Few crises erupt without warning, he continued. Extremist ideas and violence manifest from years of tyranny, inequalities, fear and bad governance. They build up over years – even decades – of human rights grievances and the denial of basic economic and social rights. He insisted that atrocities can be prevented and extremism curbed through better, human rights-based global leadership and a fundamental rethink of education. “Surely we now know, from bitter experience, that human rights are the only meaningful rampart against barbarity.”

United Nations News Centre – In Washington, UN rights chief says atrocities can be prevented through better global leadership.

Terrorist attacks in Europe by islamic groups are a surprisingly low number

January 19, 2015

Oliver Wheaton in Metro.co.uk of 15 January 2015 writes that “the number of terrorists who are actually Muslim or religiously motivated will surprise you”.  This surprised me and perhaps also many of my readers who – like me – followed the impact of the terrorist attacks in Paris last week.

According to statistics from Europol, less than two per cent of all recorded acts of terror in Europe were perpetrated with religious motivations, with an even smaller number being committed by Muslim extremists. Estimates suggest only around two per cent of all terrorist attacks were committed by Islamic groups or individuals. For example, out of the 152 terrorist acts in the EU in 2013, only two were religiously motivated. In 2011, none of the 174 attacks were ‘inspired’ by religious organisations.The majority of terrorist activity concerns ethno-nationalist organisations, who often commit acts of terrorism that have low, if any, casualty rates, meaning they do not get extensive news coverage. However Europol added: “Islamist terrorists still aim to cause mass casualties.”

The number of terrorists who are actually Muslims motivated will surprise you
Data from the last five years (2010-2014) of terrorist attacks in Europe (Picture: Europol / Metro)

Islamist terrorist groups are also far less of a danger than their nationalist counterparts in the USA, with researchers at Princeton University finding that Islamist extremists were responsible for only 6 per cent of attacks between 1980 and 2005

via: The number of terrorists who are actually Muslim or religiously motivated will surprise you | Metro News.

Charlie Hebdo attack: intolerance extreme

January 8, 2015

What a way to start the human rights year: yesterday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo. One of the victims is Bernard VerlhacTignous” who was a member of the Cartooning for Peace Foundation. A good moment to recall the posts on the power of (political) cartoons: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/cartooning-for-peace/, that their work may continue to inspire.

Tackling Human Rights Violations In Nigeria

December 19, 2014

On 19 December 2014, Naomi Sharang wrote a long piece in the Nigerian Observer (News agency of Nigeria – NAN). After a short general introduction, the author zooms in on the Nigerian situation and the role of human rights defenders, interviewing a NGO representative as well as someone from the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Here follow the main excerpts: Read the rest of this entry »

Kurdish Yazidi Woman Wins Anna Politkovskaya Award

October 11, 2014

More on awards: The winner of the 2014 Raw in War Anna Politkovskaya award is Kurdish Yazidi member of Iraq parliament Vian Dakhil .On Monday 6 October, RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) selected Vian Dakhil who has courageously spoken out and campaigned to protect the Yazidi people from the terror of Islamic State. She is the only ethnic Yazidi in the Iraqi Parliament and, despite being injured in a helicopter crash while delivering aid to survivors on Mt Sinjar, she continues to advocate and to mobilize support for her people, for the refugees and for those trapped in towns and villages under the regime of Islamic State. “I make no secret of the fact that I’m proud to be honored with your esteemed award, but the real way to honor someone is by protecting their freedom and rights. It is by bringing our prisoners back,’ said Dakhil in her speech while receiving the award.

Previous women human rights defenders who received this award: Malala Yousafzai 2013, Marie Colvin 2012, Razan Zaitouneh 2011, Dr. Halima Bashir 2010, Leila Alikarami on behalf of the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality in Iran 2009, Malalai Joya 2008 and Natalia Estemirova 2007. See also: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards

via Kurdish Yazidi Woman Wins International Award | BAS NEWS.

Protecting ASEAN human rights defenders and the case of Sombath Somphone

April 30, 2014

This radio interview [http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/asia-pacific/whos-protecting-aseans-human-rights-defenders/1302596] is interesting because of its content but also because it found its way on the website of Terrorism Watch. If the implication is that forced disappearances are a form of state terrorism, the case of Sombath Somphone (discussed below) puts Laos in the docket:

A regional workshop in Bangkok has highlighted issues like enforced disappearances, legal support for families of the disappeared and peaceful assembly and association. High on the agenda is also protecting rights activists, within the ASEAN regional human rights system. Presenter: Sen Lam interviews Emmerlyne Gil, international legal advisor, International Commission of Jurists, Bangkok: Read the rest of this entry »

Trial Observation report re Turkish human right defender Osman İşçi, by EMHRN

July 5, 2013

Observation of the trial of Osman İşçi, human rights defender and trade-unionist

On 25 June the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) published the trial observation report concerning its Executive Committee member, human rights defender and trade unionist M. Osman İşçi. He was arrested in Ankara, Turkey, one year ago on 25 June 2012, and detained at the high-level security prison of Sincan, Ankara, along with another 27 trade unionists arrested on the same date facing proceedings for allegedly supporting a terrorist organization.

The first hearing of Osman İşçi’s trial took place on 10 April in the Ankara Special Court, after ten months of pre-trial detention. Following this hearing, M. Osman İşçi and 21 other trade unionists and human rights defenders were released, however the charges against them remain and a new hearing is scheduled for the 8 July 2013. The trial observers noted that it had been conducted with courtesy by all participants, and defendants and their lawyers had been permitted to take an active part in the hearing. Nevertheless they noted with concern that a number of central features of international fair trial standards appeared to be absent from the hearing, and from the proceedings generally. To read the trial observation report please control/click here

via Observation of the trial of Osman İşçi, human rights defender and trade-unionist | Euromedrights.

Russia rightly interferes on Gitmo but does not appreciate interference on its own record

May 21, 2013

Konstantin Dolgov (Image from vaseljenska.com)

(Konstantin Dolgov -Image from vaseljenska.com)

On 16 May 2013 Russia Today spoke with the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov, to find out his view on the situation as the hunger strike in Guantanamo hits its’ 100-day landmark. It is good to see Russia express its concern about this and even invoke the views of human rights defenders. Below I give some quotes from the interview. If only Russia would always be so concerned with their views! As to  illustrate this the Moscow Times comes today with an article by Jonathan Earle Read the rest of this entry »