Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

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 »

Egyptian HRD and MEA Nominee, Mona Seif, under attack

May 3, 2013

As readers of this blog know I would have readily reported on any developments surrounding the MEA especially since the Final Nominees 2013 were announced recently. A few days ago a controversy arose around the nomination of Mona Seif, the courageous Egyptian human rights defender who was selected because of her campaign against military trials for civilians. UN Watch, an NGO affiliated to the American Jewish Committee,  and famous for its strident monitoring of anything that smacks of  criticism of Israel, accused Mona Seif of being a terrorist sympathizer on the basis of 3 older tweets in which she strongly defended the right of Palestinians to resist Israeli occupation. The organisation started a twitter campaign to have Mona recalled as nominee.

Mona Seif, Egypt - Final Nominee MEA 2013

Mona Seif, Egypt – Final Nominee MEA 2013

The problem is that I am – in a personal capacity – the Chair of the Jury which is composed of ten of the world’s leading human rights NGOs (see list http://www.martinennalsaward.org). I am a non-voting chair whose only role is to facilitate the process and I do not participate in the selection. The board of the Martin Ennals Foundation also has no role in the selection as the Statutes provide for a fully independent Jury. Only the NGOs on the Jury can vote on the recipient of the MEA. Still, I feel that my capacity of Chair of the Jury obliges me to show restraint in speaking out.

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Two Somali Human Rights lawyers killed: in the wrong place at the wrong time

April 16, 2013

On 14 April 2013, two prominent human rights lawyers, Mohamed Mahmoud Afrah and Abdikarin Hussein Gorod, were killed when they were in the wrong place at the wrong time: Al-Shabaab adherents in army uniform stormed Somalia’s main court complex in Mogadishu. They were among the approximately thirty people killed in the suicide attack.

Both Mohamed Mahmoud Afrah and Abdikarin Hussein Gorod have worked for a Legal Aid programme funded by the UN Development Programme in Mogadishu and had previously assisted internally displaced persons and other vulnerable individuals. They had recently defended Abdiasis Abdinur Ibrahim, also known as Koronto, a journalist who was jailed for interviewing an internally displaced woman who said she had been raped by state security forces in Mogadishu. A case referred to in this blog and by Front Line Defenders http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/21570

Guatemalan human rights defender Claudia Samayoa threatened

November 21, 2012

From Front Line Defenders comes the following case: During the week of 12 November 2012, human rights defender Ms Claudia Virginia Samayoa received warnings of an attack being prepared against her, in the latest incident in an ongoing series of threats and defamatory statements targeting her and several other human rights defenders. Claudia Samayoa is the coordinator of the Unidad de Protección de Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos Guatemala – UDEFEGUA (Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit in Guatemala), who supports the work of human rights defenders in preventing and responding to security risks, through monitoring, verification and advocacy work.On 5 November 2012, she filed a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights denouncing a statement, then in circulation, in which she and several others were threatened and accused of involvement in terrorist activities and fuelling anti-business hostility. The statement, which is believed to have been delivered at a press conference on 15 October 2012, had reportedly been circulated and forwarded for several days before it came to Claudia Samayoa’s attention on 19 October 2012. The statement originates from the Fundación Contra el Terrorismo (Foundation Against Terrorism), and mentions Claudia Samayoa by name as someone with anti-business and terrorist sympathies. It claims she expressed this by financing “destabilizing organisations” and partaking in a conspiracy with two other civil society figures, who are accused of being ex-guerrillas who took part in the torture and kidnapping of the Foundation Against Terrorism’s director in 1982.

The document goes on to link the human rights defender to a number of recent violent clashes between the military and local populations in which members of the military were injured, and implies that Claudia Samayoa and others were responsible for these events through “incitement”. The last part of the document is a direct call on state authorities and the armed forces alike to ensure that all those it deems complicit in “political trials” against the military be held responsible and forced to pay for having attempted to change history. During the week of 12 November 2012, both Claudia Samayoa and a member of the Human Rights office of the Archbishop of Guatemala received warnings of an attack being prepared on their lives.  Threats have been issued against UDEFEGUA in the past and on one occasion in February 2010, Claudia Samayoa’s car was tampered with in an attempt to cause an accident. Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal on the threats against the organisation on 10 March 2010 . As a result of the threats, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considered it necessary to provide Claudia Samayoa and other members of UDEFEGUA with protection measures.

Mourad Dhina, Algerian head of the human rights organization Alkarama detained in France

January 20, 2012

On 17 January 2012, the Geneva-based Alkarama group, which campaigns for human rights in Arab countries, said its executive director Mourad Dhina was arrested and detained in France at Paris-Orly airport. Alkarama spokesman Michael Romig said Dhina appeared before a French magistrate on Tuesday to hear Algeria’s extradition request on decades-old terrorism charges and was then returned to custody. This a complex case with heavy political overtones.Dhina was a former top official in the Islamic Salvation Front (le ‘FIS’), the organisation which was poised to win the Algerian elections in 1992, which then led to an army crackdown and a decade-long bloody civil war, with severe violations from both sides.

Dhina has lived in Switzerland for 20 years, but – contrary to some press statements – he was not a recognized refugee. He is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained physicist who worked at CERN. He became an opponent of the Algerian government following the coup d’état of January 1992 that banned the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), starting the Algerian Civil War. After being spokesman for the Coordination Committee of the FIS, he became head of the Executive Office of the FIS from October 2002 to October 2004, and in 2006 he discretely left the party, but more because he regarded it as ineffective than because he disapproved of its violent methods. In 2007, he co-founded Rachad , an organisation dedicated to overthrowing the Algerian government through mass nonviolent resistance. He rejects any reconciliation with the present regime. According to Le Matin de Dimanche  of 15 October 2006  his position is: “There was a putsch in Algeria in 1992, so I find armed resistance legitimate. I said and I’ll say it again.”

According to a Wikipedia entry he was accused by the former French minister Charles Pasqua of having links with arms dealers, and therefore he left Saint-Genis-Pouilly, Geneva in 1993. When he was sentenced in absentia to twenty years imprisonment in his country he replied “I am honored to have been condemned by tyrants. History, one day, will prove me right”

Because the Algerian Embassy in Bern regularly asked for his extradition, Mourad stated in the same 2006 interview in le Dimanche de Dimanche: «Nous n’avons pas de documents pour voyager. Nous ne pouvons pas quitter la Suisse». In spite of this he appears to have travelled several times through French territory without having been arrested. So, why was he now arrested? And what is the likelihood of him being extradited? Clearly his vehement opposition and use of television aimed at Algeria must anger the Government but that would not be the right ground for extradition. But the timing seems to indicate that there might be such a link. If it is the old charges of terrorism, then it will depend op the strength of the evidence. In this context it is pity that Dhina’s taking distance from the FIS was not accompanied by a clear condemnation of human rights violations also by the FIS itself. Even if one qualifies the Algerian conflict as a civil war, it does not condone violation of humanitarian law by any party. Let’s see what happens!