Tåregas og tortur i Bahrain

Nicholas Kristof, som jeg omtalte i mit sidste indlæg om anholdelsen af Zainab Alkhawaja, opsummerer situationen i Bahrain de seneste uger med to små billeder – det ene netop af Alkhawaja:

[Obama] should also  understand the systematic, violent repression here, the kind that apparently killed a 14-year-old boy, Ali al-Sheikh, and continues to torment his family.Ali grew up here in Sitra, a collection of poor villages far from the gleaming bank towers of Bahrain’s skyline. Almost every day pro-democracy protests still bubble up in Sitra, and even when they are completely peaceful they are crushed with a barrage of American-made tear gas.

People here admire much about America and welcomed me into their homes, but there is also anger that the tear gas shells that they sweep off the streets each morning are made by a Pennsylvania company, NonLethal Technologies. It is a private company that declined to comment, but the American government grants it a license for these exports — and every shell fired undermines our image.

In August, Ali joined one of the protests. A policeman fired a shell at Ali from less than 15 feet away, according to the account of the family and human-rights groups. The shell apparently hit the boy in the back of the neck, and he died almost immediately, a couple of minutes’ walk from his home.

The government claims that the bruise was “inconsistent” with a blow from a tear gas grenade. Frankly, I’ve seen the Bahrain authorities lie so much that I don’t credit their denial. (….)

The police have continued to persecute Ali’s family. For starters, riot policemen fired tear gas at the boy’s funeral, villagers say.The police summoned Jawad for interrogation, most recently this month. He fears he will be fired from his job in the Ministry of Electricity.

Mourners regularly leave flowers and photos of Ali on his grave, which is in a vacant lot near the home. Perhaps because some messages call him a martyr, the riot police come regularly and smash the pictures and throw away the flowers. The family has not purchased a headstone yet, for fear that the police will destroy it.

The repression is ubiquitous. Consider Zainab al-Khawaja, 28, whose husband and father are both in prison and have been tortured for pro-democracy activities, according to human rights reports. Police officers have threatened to cut off Khawaja’s tongue, she told me, and they broke her father’s heart by falsely telling him that she had been shipped to Saudi Arabia to be raped and tortured. She braved the risks by talking to me about this last week — before she was arrested too.

Khawaja earned her college degree in Wisconsin. She was sitting peacefully protesting in a traffic circle when the police attacked her. First they fired tear gas grenades next to her, and then handcuffed her and dragged her away — sometimes slapping and hitting her as video cameras rolled. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights says that she was beaten more at the police station.

Khawaja is tough as nails, and when we walked alongside demonstrations together, she seemed unbothered by tear gas that left me blinded and coughing. But she worried about her 2-year-old daughter, Jude. And one time as we were driving back from visiting a family whose baby had just died, possibly because so much tear gas had been fired in the neighborhood, Khawaja began crying. “I think I’m losing it,” she said. “It all just gets to me.

Mine fremhævelser. Mahmood Al-Yousif har et længere blogindlæg, hvor han gør opmærksom på, at myndighederne i Bahrain fortsat torterer og myrder ganske ustraffet, som Kristofs historie om Ali desværrre siger alt om:

Maybe if you have a few atoms of humanity left in you, it might help you remove that veil off your conscience and see things for what they are:

This incident – amongst hundreds of others currently being meted out to the majority of villages in this country – should be independently investigated and the officers implicated and their masters who are doing nothing to stop this must be made to account for their actions and be punished. The government who oversees this situation should be summarily dismissed of course and with haste. Nothing else would do if that illusive “new page” is to become a reality.

Hvorfor greb man ind med bombning af Libyen for at standse overgrebene, mens for eksempel den amerikanske regering ikke lægger det mindste pres på Bahrain? Vel, en af forskellene er, at undertrykkelsen i Bahrain set i forhold til landets indbyggertal er værre end i Libyen. En anden er, at vestmagterne i stedet valgte at sætte kiggerten for det blinde øjne, da Bahrains kongefamilie diskret indkaldte forstærkninger i form af nogle tusinde soldater fra Saudi-Arabien, der kunne bistå i opgøret med de fredelige demonstranter. Money talks.

Guantanamo er en torturlejr

Ja, det skal uforbederligt venstreorienterede eller i hvert fald krigskritiske stemmer jo sige. Er det Michael Moore, der nu igen har været ved at blamere sig?

Nej, denne gang kommer kritikken fra den amerikanske regerings ledende statsadvokat på Guantanamo-lejren med ansvar for at retsforfølge de mistænkte i Bushs “krig mod terror”. Den nu pensionerede oberst Morris Davis lægger ikke fingrene imellem, når han beskriver sin egen tidligere arbejdsplads:

Retired air force colonel Morris Davis resigned in October 2007 in protest against interrogation methods at Guantánamo, and has made his remarks in the lead-up to 13 November, the anniversary of President George W Bush’s executive order setting up military commissions to try terrorist suspects.

Davis said that the methods of interrogation used on Guantánamo detainees – which he described as “torture” – were in breach of the US’s own statutes on torture, and added: “If torture is a crime, it should be prosecuted.”

The US military, he said, had been ordered to use unlawful methods of interrogation by “civilian politicians, and to do so against our will and judgment”.

Davis was speaking at a conference on human rights law at Bard College in New York state. After resigning from the armed forces, in a dramatic defection to the other side of the raging debate over conditions at the camp, he became executive director of, and counsel to, the Crimes of War project based in Washington DC. The speech was to launch the project’s 10th anniversary campaign and to protest against the existence of the camp and the torture there and at so-called “black sites” run by US intelligence around the world.

“No court has jurisdiction over Guantánamo,” said Davis. “Some senior civilian Bush adminstration officials chose Guantánamo to interrogate detainees because they thought it’s a law-free zone where we can unlawfully… handle a very small number of cases. We have turned our backs on the law and created what we believed was a place outside the law’s reach.” He added that America was “great at preaching to others, but not so good at practising what we preach. There is a point when enough is enough, and you have to look at yourself in the mirror. Torture has no place in American courts.”

Link: Former US chief prosecutor condemns torture in Guantanamo

Torture in Egypt – to journalisters øjenvidneberetning

Souad Mekhenet og Nicholas Kulish er to journalister fra New York Times, der blev taget til fange af Mubaraks frygtede hemmelige politi, Mukhabarat.

De led ikke selv nogen overlast under deres fangenskab, men de fik et uhyggeligt indtryk af, hvordan regimet i disse dage slår ned på almindelige mennesker, der vover at udtrykke deres utilfredshed i de store demonstrationer:

Our discomfort paled in comparison to the dull whacks and the screams of pain by Egyptian people that broke the stillness of the night. In one instance, between the cries of suffering, an officer said in Arabic, “You are talking to journalists? You are talking badly about your country?”

Captivity was terrible. We felt powerless — uncertain about where and how long we would be held. But the worst part had nothing to do with our treatment. It was seeing — and in particular hearing through the walls of this dreadful facility — the abuse of Egyptians at the hands of their own government.

For one day, we were trapped in the brutal maze where Egyptians are lost for months or even years. Our detainment threw into haunting relief the abuses of security services, the police, the secret police and the intelligence service, and explained why they were at the forefront of complaints made by the protesters.

The Mukhabarat has had a working relationship with American intelligence, including the C.I.A.’s so-called rendition program of prison transfers. During our questioning, a man nearby was being beaten — the sickening sound somewhere between a thud and a thwack. Between his screams someone yelled in Arabic, “You’re a traitor working with foreigners.”

Egyptian journalists had a freer hand than many in the region’s police states, but the secret police kept a close eye on both journalists and their sources. As the protests became more violent, a campaign of intimidation against journalists and the Egyptians speaking to them became apparent. We appeared to have stumbled into the middle of it.

Ms. Mekhennet asked her interrogator, “Where are we?” The interrogator answered, “You are nowhere.”

Link: 2 Detained Reporters Saw Secret Police’s Methods Firsthand

Som Nicholas D. Kristof, som også er i Cairo for New York Times, udtrykker det: I dag er vi alle ægyptere.

Systemets hævn: Bradley Manning holdes isolationsfængslet under umenneskelige vilkår

Den 22-årige Bradley Manning, der beskyldes for at have lækket et stort antal amerikanske statshemmeligheder, men ikke er dømt for nogen forbrydelse, holdes ikke desto mindre fanget under gruopvækkende omstændigheder, fortæller Glenn Greenwald:

Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.

Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems.  He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a “Maximum Custody Detainee,” the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement.  For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell.  Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions.  For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch).  For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs.  Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not “like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole,” but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out.

In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado:  all without so much as having been convicted of anything.  And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig’s medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.

Just by itself, the type of prolonged solitary confinement to which Manning has been subjected for many months is widely viewed around the world as highly injurious, inhumane, punitive, and arguably even a form of torture.  In his widely praised March, 2009 New Yorker article — entitled “Is Long-Term Solitary Confinement Torture?” — the surgeon and journalist Atul Gawande assembled expert opinion and personal anecdotes to demonstrate that, as he put it, “all human beings experience isolation as torture.”  By itself, prolonged solitary confinement routinely destroys a person’s mind and drives them into insanity.  A March, 2010 article in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law explains that “solitary confinement is recognized as difficult to withstand; indeed, psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture.”

Her var det måske passende at rette et spørgsmål til præsident Obama: Er det den “change”, folk skulle stemme på? Er dette den “reinstatement of habeas corpus”, som Obama lovede, da han stadig kun var kandidat? Ren og skær tortur af en mand, der ikke er dømt for nogen forbrydelse, for at tage en lille, billig hævn og ikke af nogen anden grund. Shame on the U.S. of A.

Racisme og krigsliderlighed – hånd i hånd

Det er virkelig en uskøn parodi på et folkestyre vi ser i disse dage. Regeringen med Dansk Folkeparti som spydspids har igen og igen benægtet at de danske soldater på nogen måde har brudt krigens love. De har ikke udleveret krigsfanger til tortur – hverken i Afghanistan eller Irak.

Nu vælter skeletterne så ud af skabet – heldigvis har Wikileaks haft modet og lækket beviserne på at danske soldater har udleveret krigsfanger til tortur i Irak. Det første regeringen og DF gør er at få forsvaret til at undersøge om der er noget om sagen (læs: give forsvaret tid til at finde på en undskyldning). Dernæst da danske soldater begynder anonymt at fortælle samme historie, går DF i frontalt angreb på soldaterne. Og til sidst – da dokumenter fra forsvarsministeret påviser at ministeriet undersøgte og fandt ud af at danskerne udleverede fanger til tortur, så er Søren Espersens(DF) kommentar:

Det viser bare, at regeringen har stået i et alvorligt dilemma. Og har valgt rigtigt. Ellers skulle vi jo have taget fangerne med til Danmark

Dansk Folkeparti mener altså at da regeringen stod og skulle vælge om de skulle bryde krigens love og begå alvorlige krigsforbrydelser, valgte de rigtigt og begik krigsforbrydelser – for at undgå at flygtninge kom til Danmark.

Først skal det siges at det naturligvis ikke var det eneste valg – man kunne jo internere fangerne selv, men dernæst skal det siges at denne udtalelse endnu engang er et bevis på Dansk Folkeparti er et dybt fascistisk parti, der går ind for tortur og drab på udlændringe- hvis det kan stoppe indvandring til Danmark.

Godt vi slap for ham..

Heil Espersen!

Den 4. statsmagt en følgagtig puddelhund

Det er skræmmende – hvis man er overbevist demokrat – at se hvor nemt nyhedsmedierne opgiver kampen om sandheden, når de er oppe imod statsmagten. Vi kan se det i Danmark hvor nyhedsmedierne efter 2001 er gået fuldstændig ind på præmissen om de “kriminelle indvandrer” og den “muslimske trussel” – selv om enhver person med to øjne kan gå en tur på Nørrebro og se det er en stor løgn.

Et andet eksempel var de amerikanske nyhedsmedier der i kølvandet på Præsidents Bush opgør med retstaten og indførsel af tortur, gik med på regerings fantasterier og satte spørgsmål til om fx waterboarding var tortur. En grundig undersøgelse har påvist at nyhedsmedierne ikke formåede at holde fast i blot den fjerneste realitetssans men blot fulgte strømmen og påstod at 2+2 var 5.

link til undersøgelsen.

Birthe Rønn Hornbech meldt til politiet for at mishandle torturoffer

Man tror næppe sine egne øjne. Men læs selv i Politiken:

At fængsle et menneske, der tidligere har gennemgået tortur, strider mod menneskerettighederne. Smider man ham derefter i isolation, er der tale om tortur.

Så hårdt stiller to fremtrædende forkæmpere imod tortur det op, når de vælger at politianmelde de danske myndigheder for at frihedsberøve og isolationsfængsle en afvist irakisk asylansøger, Abdel Jabar , som er tidligere torturoffer.

»Ved at spærre ham inde igen gentager man torturen og er faktisk bødler«, siger Inge Genefke, som er stifter af Rehabiliterings-og Forskningscentret for Torturofre (RCT).

Som en af de første blev den 46-årige anholdt og sat i fængsel, indtil en irakisk delegation vil komme op for at undersøge hans identitet. Han har nu siddet der i næsten to måneder.

Men Abdel Jabar er tidligere torturoffer. Han har i syv år siddet fængslet i Irak, hvor han gennemgik tortur som at få brækket armene og skuldre ved at blive hængt op i armene bagfra. Hans knæ blev smadret, og han har skudhuller gennem akillessenen – alt sammen udredt i færdiggjort rapport fra Amnesty.

Sidste søndag blev Abdel Jabar efter tumult i fængslet sat i isolation i flere dage, og det er tydeligt ved Politikens sidste besøg, at han er yderligere rystet. Øjnene er skarpt spærret op, og tårerne er hele tiden ved at løbe over.

»I isolation kan han fremkalde dybe traumer, der får det hele til at fremstå som virkeligt for ham. Man vil nedbryde en mand som Jabar, og han har stor risiko for at miste sin egen identitet«, siger medicineren Inge Genefke.

I et magtfuldkomment samfund som vores, hvor den udøvende og den dømmende magt blandes sammen og ministeriernes embedsværk sidder tungt på den enkelte statsadvokats karriere, vil der næppe komme noget særligt ud af en sådan politianmeldelse.

Men sagens øvrige detaljer … nej, man tror efterhånden ikke sine egne øjne. Hvor skal en mand, der var politisk forfulgt i Irak og blev udsat for tortur, ikke have asyl? Det er altså ikke, fordi vores og amerikanernes lille udflugt sydpå har gjort forholdene dernede så meget bedre, skulle jeg hilse og sige.

Link: Birthe Rønn er anmeldt for tortur

MI5 kendt skyldig i tortur, nådesløs kritik fra dommer – ville det ske i Danmark?

Sagen er alvorlig, og vi har skrevet om den før:

Den britiske borger Binyam Mohamed, som blev holdt fange og torteret i Pakistan og senere sendt til Guantanamo, efter at han havde læst en satirisk artikel om, hvordan man bygger en atombombe, blev udsat for voldsom tortur. Det brtiske efterretningsvæsen MI5 medvirkede i denne tortur, hvilket såvel  tjenesten selv som den britiske regering lige siden har forsøgt at dække over ved løgnagtige påstande om “hensyn til fremmede magter”, nemlig USA.

En dommer har nu afgjort, at MI5 var medskyldig i denne tortur, og har i en helt usædvanligt voldsom kritik karakteriseret tjenesten som uhæderlig, løgnagtig og uden respekt for menneskerettighederne.

The Guardian skriver om sagen:

Amid mounting calls for an independent inquiry into the affair, three of the country’s most senior judges – Lord Judge, the lord chief justice, Sir Anthony May, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Lord Neuberger – disclosed evidence of MI5’s complicity in Mohamed’s torture and unlawful interrogation by the US.

So severe were Neuberger’s criticisms of MI5 that the government’s leading lawyer in the case, Jonathan Sumption QC, privately wrote to the court asking him to reconsider his draft judgment before it was handed down.

The judges agreed but Sumption’s letter, which refers to Neuberger’s original comments, was made public after lawyers for Mohamed and media organisations, including the Guardian, intervened.

They argued that Neuberger had privately agreed with Sumption to remove his fierce criticisms without giving then the chance to contest the move.

In his letter, Sumption warned the judges that the criticism of MI5 would be seen by the public as statements by the court that the agency:

• Did not respect human rights.

• Had not renounced participation in “coercive interrogation” techniques.

• Deliberately misled MPs and peers on the intelligence and security committee, who are supposed to scrutinise its work.

• Had a “culture of suppression” in its dealings with Miliband and the court.

Sumption described Neuberger’s observations in his draft judgment as “an exceptionally damaging criticism of the good faith of the Security Service as a whole”.

His letter also refers to the MI5 officer known as Witness B, who is understood to have interrogated Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan in 2002. Witness B gave evidence in the hearings and is now at the centre of a Scotland Yard investigation. Sumption’s letter implies that Neuberger did not believe that Witness B was acting alone and that the judge believed that Witness B’s conduct was “characteristic of the service as a whole”.

Kritikken kunne ikke ret godt være voldsommere og har kastet hele efterretningstjenesten ud i en krise, som i allerhøjeste grad smitter af på den regering, der hele tiden og med stort set alle midler har forsøgt at dække over skandalen til skade for sagens offer Binyam Mohamed, der under sit fangenskab blev udsat for den mest ubegribelige tortur:

As many will recall, Mohamed was seized by the Pakistanis in April 2002, turned over to the Americans for a $5,000 bounty, abused for three months, rendered to Morocco, tortured with razor blades to the genitals, rendered on to the “Dark Prison” in Kabul, tortured some more, and then held for five years without charge or trial in Bagram air force base and Guantánamo Bay.

Og dog viser sagen noget om Storbritannien, som man ikke ville se her i Danmark: Storbritannien har faktisk et fungerende, uafhængigt retsvæsen, der en gang i mellem trækker en streg i sandet.

I en tilsvarende sag i Danmark, hvor domstolene fødes i en usund symbiose med det øvrige retsvæsen og især Justitsministeriet, ville der blive dækket over en sag, der var så uheldig for regeringen, og en skræmt dommer ville lade sig forlede til at fastslå, at der ikke var noget at komme efter.

I mellemtiden kan man så undre sig over, hvad der egentlig blev af det åbne samfund, man skulle forestille at “forsvare”, i den her krig mod terror: Hvorfor en sådan eftergivenhed overfor menneskeretskrænkelser, og det i et land, som normalt har ry for at være så civiliseret, at det forbød tortur allerede i middelalderen, mens hjul og stejle drejede lystigt herhjemme?

Der venter vist et større opgør ovre på den anden side af Nordsøen.

Abbas-regimets tortur

Hvad skal man mene om Mahmoud Abbas, den israelske regerings “fredspartner”, som efter balladen for nogle år siden vippede Hamas-regeringen af pinden på Vestbredden?

Vel, naboerne til et han hans fængsler klager nu over, at de ikke kan sove om natten på grund af skrigene fra fanger, der bliver torteret i det fængsel, Abbas’ styrker kører i kvarteret:

A number of residents of al-Jabryat neighborhood in Jenin complained that they can no longer bear hearing the cries of prisoners being tortured in a neighboring prison that is run by the General Intelligence of Mahmoud Abbas.

Local residents said that a number of residents have actually moved out of the neighborhood because they could not sleep at night hearing those cries, saying that as the prisoners were being physically tortured in the said prison, they were being psychologically tortured.

“We cannot sleep at night because of the cries of the Hamas detainees. We have been like this for the past two years and everyday we say this problem will end tomorrow, but it seems this story is going take long,” said one of the residents of the neighborhood.

He also pointed out that the prices of property in the area around the General Intelligence headquarters have plummeted as a result.

Jeg tror godt, vi kan blive enige om, at der er et problem. Palæstina kan føje sig til den meget lange liste af arabiske lande, der formelig skriger på forandringer i det politiske liv. I dette tilfælde ville en mere åben og demokratisk regering jo nok desværre betyde en præsident, der er mindre velvilligt underdanig  overfor Israel, og som derfor vil være uspiselig for “verdenssamfundet”, der ikke synes på vej til at fravige princippet om, at Israel har carte blanche til alt.

Vel, måske med den nye regering  i USA … men vi skal nok ikke holde vejret.

Link: Residents of al-Jbaryat: we cannot sleep because of the cries of prisoners in PA (via Angry Arab)(Link fjernet, da det er overtaget af et kviklånsfirma)