Monday, October 27, 2014
Bahrain’s authorities must immediately release Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist who has been detained over tweets he posted that were deemed insulting to the Ministries of Interior and Defence said Amnesty International, ahead of a verdict in his case on Wednesday. “Convicting Nabeel Rajab would be a terrible injustice. It would only be further proof that respect for the right to freedom of expression in Bahrain is under attack,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “Prosecuting anyone merely for peacefully expressing their political views is a clear form of repression and a brazen violation of their rights. Nabeel Rajab is a prisoner of conscience, he must be released immediately and the charges against him must be dropped. “Since the 2011 uprisings the government has repeatedly reassured the international community that Bahrain is on the path to reform but the arrest of Nabeel Rajab shows that promises of greater freedoms remain a distant hope. The outcome of his trial on Wednesday will be a true test of the authorities’ genuine commitment to human rights.” Nabeel Rajab is the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. He was arrested in October after posting comments online about reports that members of Bahrain’s security forces had joined the Islamic State armed group in Iraq. He has been charged with “publicly insulting official institutions” and faces up to three years in jail. Bahraini legislation criminalizes insulting or disrespecting heads of state, public figures, the military, government institutions or national flags or symbols. During the first hearing in his case on 19 October Nabeel Rajab explained that he was merely exercizing his right to freedom of expression and as a human rights activist would only ever do so peacefully. He denied the charges against him and said he had not committed any crime. Only his older brother was allowed to attend the court session, the rest of his family was denied entry. He has been detained at al Hoora police station since his arrest. Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Bahraini authorities to repeal articles in its Penal Code that criminalize freedom of expression but so far these calls have fallen on deaf ears. Shortly after his arrest, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for Nabeel Rajab’s release. Only the governments of Norway and the USA have so far publicly demanded his release. “The silence of the international community over human rights violations in Bahrain is deafening. Governments with close ties to Bahrain, in particular the UK, and who claim to be pushing a human rights reform agenda must speak out publicly and denounce the arrest of Nabeel Rajab and other government critics,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. Background Nabeel Rajab returned to Bahrain on 30 September after a two month advocacy tour across Europe to highlight the human rights situation in Bahrain. He had previously served a two-year prison sentence in Jaw Prison on charges of participating in an “illegal gathering”, “disturbing public order” and “calling for and taking part in demonstrations” in Manama “without prior notification”. He was released in May 2014. Other activists in Bahrain have faced prosecution for exercizing the right to freedom of expression. Activist Nader Abdulemam was sentenced to six months in prison last Wednesday for 'insulting' a figure of worship after he made comments on twitter about Khaled bin al-Waleed, a companion of the prophet Muhammad. Human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, who is heavily pregnant, was arrested on 14 October for tearing a picture of the King of Bahrain in court and is currently under arrest and on trial for “publicly insulting the King”. Similarly, Ghada Jamsheer, a women's rights activist, is facing trial for comments she made on twitter denouncing corruption in King Hamad University Hospital. Amnesty International has been calling on the Bahraini authorities to drop charges in all these cases and release these activists as they are held merely for peacefully expressing their opinion.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/A Saudi Arabian court sent three lawyers to prison for terms of between five and eight years on Monday for criticising the country's judiciary and justice system in messages on Twitter, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Since the 2011 Arab uprisings, the U.S. ally has grown increasingly intolerant of any dissent or criticism aimed at the government, the country's ruling Al Saud family or the official clergy which provides judges for its Sharia Islamic courts. The three lawyers, who were not named by local media, were convicted of prejudicing public order through tweets which contained opinions against the ruler, and expressed contempt for the judiciary and undermined it, SPA reported. Reform of the kingdom's judiciary and legal system is a main battleground between arch conservatives and relative liberals. It is seen as important by both human rights activists who want to improve legal safeguards for defendants and foreign investors who want sentencing to be more predictable. King Abdullah announced changes to the judicial system in 2007, including non-Sharia training for judges, the introduction of specialised criminal courts and a means of officially recording verdicts, a prelude to establishing precedent. Conservative judges, clerics and some officials in the Justice Ministry have strenuously attempted to block the reforms, however, because they see them as undermining Islamic law, liberal lawyers and other legal sources say. Saudi judges have this year passed death sentences on five members of the country's Sh'ite Muslim minority for their part in anti-government protests and riots. They also handed a 15-year jail term to rights activist Walid Abu al-Khair for criticising the authorities. The rulers of the world's top oil exporter fear any public expressions of dissent could evolve into direct anti-government protests, which they see as a security risk at a moment of such high regional tension, say analysts. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-2809746/Saudi-Arabia-jails-three-lawyers-tweets-criticising-judiciary.html#ixzz3HNFbHOGc Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
The student groups of Occupy Central such as the Hong Kong Federation of Students had planned to hold a "referendum" but suddenly canceled it yesterday. Wang Dan, an activist during the 1989 political incident, openly supported the protesters, while saying that he was not so positive that the campaign would have its demands met. It seems that the Occupy Central movement will continue for some time and the mayhem in Hong Kong will continue. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the movement, as Beijing holds responsibility for Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. Wherever in China there is mayhem, the central government needs to shoulder the responsibility. Most Chinese mainlanders don't have to worry about Hong Kong's future. Many mainlanders go to Hong Kong to sightsee and shop because it is a developed society and belongs to China. However, Hong Kong is now in a mess, thanks to the confrontation with the central government initiated by some forces with the backing of the West. When the central government refuses to accept their demands, they will become a joke. Gradually, the mindset of mainlanders has changed. The mainland public has a new understanding of Hong Kong through these recent developments. The mainland has previously suffered from the chaos brought by the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and the 1989 political incident and has gained some immunity to it. Now it is Hong Kong's turn. The mainland public does not hope for a tumultuous Hong Kong, but people don't fear that Hong Kong may become a mess. Its economic importance to the mainland is not irreplaceable. Look at how mainland audiences launched a boycott of Hong Kong actor Chapman To. Occupy Central has made the mainlanders realize that social chaos is the root of all evils. In the eyes of many, celebrities who support Occupy Central oppose the country. Occupy Central has generated an unexpected impact. It has united mainlanders once again. People are more convinced that Western forces are trying to intervene and there are people willing to serve them at the cost of our national interests. In the mainland, there are some who place high demands on Hong Kong while worrying about it, but at the same time more people feel indifferent. They didn't impose much pressure on the central government to resume order in Hong Kong. But if the chaos in Hong Kong results in the central government losing control over it, the mainland public will never give their consent. For every day Occupy Central lasts, the bigger loser is Hong Kong society, not Chinese society. If the Occupy Central forces want to confront the central government, they don't have advantages in terms of strength and time. Perhaps it is for mainstream Hong Kong society to decide how long the current turmoil will last.
On Monday the House of Commons will launch the Energy Bill of Rights, advocating both fair pricing and sustainable energy sources. The campaign, pioneered by Fuel Poverty Action, aims to make energy “fairer, affordable” and “sustainable”. The Annual Fuel Poverty report by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) suggests the inability to afford energy bills killed 10,000 Britons in 2013. It also found over 2million UK households are living in fuel poverty. This accounts for 10.4 percent of the population. While the figures for 2014 constitute a reduction of almost 5 percent since 2011, fuel poverty still affects 30 percent of unemployed households. The eight point manifesto launched on Monday tackles prominent issues surrounding fuel poverty. Most significantly, campaigners wish to hold the government responsible for the provision of environmentally friendly energy and the continued supply for those living in poor conditions. No Dash for Gas said the Bill “unites what politicians have tried so hard to pull apart” – the need for affordable energy and the environmental concerns surrounding fossil fuels. “As we face another freezing winter, millions are preparing to self-disconnect, and ration heat and food, while the big energy companies rake in eye-watering profits from burning expensive and climate-destroying fossil fuels,” a Fuel Poverty Action spokesperson told RT. The manifesto states that the standing charge for energy should be abolished, together with calls for a complete boycott of fracking and other unsustainable practices. It further claims that access to energy is a basic right and that consumers who are unable to pay their utility bills should not be immediately disconnected. They believe power should be shifted from the provider to the consumer. “Countless [men and women’s] physical and mental health paid the price of living in fuel poverty,” the Fuel Poverty Action spokesperson told RT. “With the government seemingly disinterested in taking any serious action on the issue, we are seeking to establish Energy Rights as a way to protect ourselves from fuel poverty and the brutal for-profit energy system.” According to the Annual Fuel Poverty report, the overall number of people living in fuel poverty is forecast to rise in 2014, largely due to the expected increase in fuel prices. The worst affected areas in the UK are the West Midlands and East Midlands 15 percent and 13 percent respectively live in fuel poverty. The South East and East have the lowest proportion, with 8 and 9 percent. The bill has won the sponsorship of Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour left-wingers Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnel. Lucas, the main sponsor of the bill, is a staunch advocate of renewable energy, and on October 22 called for MP’s pensions to be divested from fossil fuels. Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has voiced concerns, however, that committing to more environmentally friendly forms of energy will constitute an unsustainable level of investment. The Bill has already been endorsed by groups such as Climate Revolution, Campaign Against Climate Change, Quakers, UK Uncut and the World Development Movement.
White House officials warned the governors of New York and New Jersey of the “unintended consequences” of quarantining all medical workers returning from west Africa, as a political crisis deepened on Sunday over how to counter public fears about the spread of Ebola in the US. Amid a barrage of criticism from aid organisations, medical experts and the mayor of New York, the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, and his New York counterpart, Andrew Cuomo, have defended their plans, which provide for the mandatory 21-day quarantine of anyone returning from west Africa after direct contact with people suffering from Ebola. But on Sunday evening Cuomo struck a less hardline tone, saying returning healthcare workers could be quarantined at home and receive twice-daily monitoring from medical professionals. The state will also compensate for any lost wages. Cuomo also referred to healthcare workers returning from Africa as “heroes”, and said his administration would encourage more to volunteer. Earlier in the day in New Jersey, Kaci Hickox, a nurse who was detained on Friday despite testing negative for Ebola, described her treatment as “inhumane” and said she had been made to feel like a criminal. The White House made it clear that it objected to the hurried introduction of “policies not grounded in science”. The tougher rules were introduced hurriedly on Friday by Christie and Cuomo after it emerged that a New York doctor, Craig Spencer, had moved widely around the city in the days before he tested positive for Ebola. Spencer, who worked for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, is now in isolation at Bellevue Hospital. Hickox was stopped at Newark airport in New Jersey just as the new rules were announced. On Sunday evening Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, hit out strongly against her treatment. “The problem is this hero, having come back from the front, having done the right thing, was treated with disrespect, was treated with a sense that she had done something wrong when she hadn’t,” he said. De Blasio, who was speaking at a press conference at Bellevue, added: “We respect the right of each governor to make decisions that they think are right for their people. But we have to think how we treat the people who are doing this noble work and we must show them respect and consideration at all times. And we owe [Hickox] better than that and all the people who do this work better than that.” The White House indicated that it was urgently reviewing the federal guidelines for returning healthcare workers, “recognising that these medical professionals’ selfless efforts to fight this disease on the front lines will be critical to bringing this epidemic under control, the only way to eliminate the risk of additional cases here at home”. “We have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and others states know that we have concerns with the unintended consequences of policies not grounded in science may have on efforts to combat Ebola at its source in West Africa,” an administration official said. The governors’ moves created another political crisis for the Obama administration, which is already facing criticism of its handling of the Ebola crisis in the run up to the midterm elections. Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, on Sunday became the highest-ranked administration official to officially comment on the crisis. She told NBC: “We need to make sure [returning healthcare workers] are treated like conquering heroes and not in any other way.” Power, who was in Guinea’s capital Conakry on the first leg of a tour through the three West African nations hardest hit by the epidemic, said: “All of us need to make clear what these health workers mean to us and how much we value their services, how much we value their contribution.” In New Jersey, Hickox, who returned from a stint working for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, appointed a lawyer to free her and called her treatment “inhumane” and “poorly planned”. Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease, said quarantining health workers could have the unintended consequence of stopping US aid workers from tackling the disease at its source in West Africa. “There’s a big, big difference between completely confining somebody so that they can’t even get outside and doing the appropriate monitoring based on scientific evidence,” he said on CNN. “The harm is that it is totally disruptive of their life. We want them to go because they are helping us to protect America to be over there.” Ebola cannot be transmitted until someone with the disease begins to display symptoms; even then it is only transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids. A spokesman for Doctors Without Borders said a total of 52 people from the US had worked with the organisation in west Africa on the Ebola response since it began in March. The spokesman said 31 Americans were currently working in West Africa, with 20 due to return sometime in the next four weeks. A spokesman for SIM, Palmer Holt, said the international missionary organisation had one American doctor in Liberia, “who is planning to return to the States soon, but if he has to undergo mandatory quarantine, he may not be able to do that, as his plan is to do a brief visit and then quickly return.” Christie has so far defended his position, believing he has public opinion on his side. Illinois followed New York and New Jersey in introducing a 21-day quarantine on Friday and on Saturday Florida announced three weeks of testing for aid workers returning from affected areas. On Sunday, Christie said he expected quarantine of workers to become “national policy sooner rather than later”. The new policies infuriated city officials in New York, who had drawn up meticulous plans to deal with potential Ebola patients in the wake of criticisms of the way Dallas officials handled the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be given a diagnosis of Ebola in the US, whose treatment was widely seen to have been bungled. Duncan died on 8 October; two nurses who treated him contracted the disease and have since recovered. New federal rules were also set to come into force Monday. Those plans and those prepared by New York have been thrown into disarray by the governors’ surprise moves. De Blasio said New York was “fully prepared to handle the crisis”, and added: “There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed. This is a very difficult disease to contract. “It takes an extraordinary amount of direct and physical contact to contract this disease.” From Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will require any traveler returning from the affected West African countries to report their temperatures to their local health authorities. Travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will be required to report every day for the 21 days following their departure from West Africa, the length of time in which Ebola can remain dormant. They will also be required to tell officials where they will be staying in the three weeks after they arrive and to hand over a list of relatives.
Over the last dozen years, the United States has poured $7.6 billion into combating Afghanistan’s opium production, and the results are now clear: The program failed.
The narcotics program embraced multiple strategies, including interdicting drug traffickers, eradicating poppy fields, strengthening the Afghan legal system to prosecute drug dealers, persuading farmers to grow alternative crops and establishing treatment programs for addicts. The Pentagon, one of the lead agencies in the effort, has pinned the failure to reduce cultivation largely on a lack of support from the Afghan government.It must also be said, however, that American, European, Afghan and United Nations officials at times sabotaged their own mission by bickering over how the money should be spent and where best to focus resources. It seems unlikely that the new and still fragile Afghan government will soon do better on poppy eradication than the United States and its allies, whose forces in Afghanistan are expected to be reduced to 15,000 by the end of the year. The one bright spot is that Mr. Ghani seems to have a vision for what needs to be done. His campaign platform frankly acknowledged that legal farming in Afghanistan is less profitable and less efficient than the drug trade because it lacks an organized system of markets, financing, skilled workers and irrigation equipment. He has pledged to modernize farming and develop new markets for legitimate crops and other products. The American embassy in Kabul has said that the United States will help him in these efforts. The allies must pitch in as well. But one early order of business is to figure out where the counternarcotics strategy went wrong — why so much investment over the years has produced so little. An honest evaluation is a necessary first step to constructing a strategy that works and gives the new government a realistic shot at a building a productive economy and a stable nation.
Dozens of university students participated in a demonstration in capital Kabul to protest against the alleged the blasphemy by a local English newspaper.
Sustained joint efforts by Indian and US security agencies seem to have driven underworld don Dawood Ibrahim into hiding close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
shiapost.comThe so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is also known as al Dawlah al Islamiyah fi al Iraq wal Shâm or DAISH. This arrangement is also referred to as the Islamic State or IS in line with their aspirations to create a transnational geographical entity ostensibly on the basis of religion. The state was declared on June 29, 2014. Not surprisingly, its proclaimed leader, al-Baghdadi, quoted extensively from the writings of Maududi, founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), when he declared himself caliph of the entire Muslim world. Based on his unique interpretation of citizenship in Islam, Maududi put forward the idea of the universal citizen transcending nation or history. Maududi deliberately ignored the saying of the Prophet (PBUH): “Love for your country is part of faith.” Maududi thus took his cue not from religion but from the French Revolution that sought to create a state that in turn created its citizens. This flawed concept formed the basis of Maududi’s argument that full citizenship of an Islamic state was only available to Muslims and this principle has been adopted by ISIS, which kills and beheads in the name of Islam. Their mistreatment and oppression of religious minorities and extermination of dissenting Islamic theology also stems from this flawed deduction. ISIS humiliates when it kills and dishonours the bodies of its victims. It captures through videos or photographs practices like mass executions and public crucifixions that it carries out in the name of religion, making a mockery of Islam. It uses religion as a tool to gain political weight that it cannot gain otherwise. Its hatred for democracy is therefore not camouflaged, intelligently branding it as a western idea. ISIS’s inception in a sham democracy like Iraq therefore holds no surprise as previously violent pseudo-religious extremists converged in places like Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan’s tribal areas and northern Nigeria. Pakistan was created as a separate state for Indian Muslims from British India in 1947 and followed a parliamentary form of democracy. In 1949, contrary to the ideals of Jinnah, the country’s founder, the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan passed the Objectives Resolution that envisaged an official role for Islam as the state religion. Yet, despite this, the state retained most of the laws that it inherited from the secular British legal code that had been enforced by colonial British authorities. It, therefore, qualified as a target for local extremist organisations. The emergence of ISIS with global aspirations opens up room for not just an alliance of these terrorist organisations but also paves the way for the former’s physical presence through assimilation of local outfits. The recent teaming up of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP’s) Shahidullah Shahid with ISIS is a step in this direction. The TTP’s declaration was preceded by news that a local group by the name of Islami Khilafat had distributed pamphlets in Peshawar that were also sent to Afghan refugee camps and to eastern Afghanistan. These pamphlets purportedly came from Kunar province in Afghanistan. The pamphlet was titled Fatah (victory) and published in Pashto and Dari. The logo of the pamphlet has the kalma (the most prominent testament of faith), the historical stamp of the Prophet (PBUH) and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. A Pakistani security official was quoted as saying: “We came across them 22 days ago and we are aware of their presence here…Pakistani security agencies are working on the Pakistan-Afghan border and have arrested a number of Taliban fighters and recovered CDs, maps, literature in Persian, Pashto and Dari. We will not permit them to work in our country and anyone who is involved in this will be crushed by the government.” However, marking an increased ISIS presence here, just days ago, the local news showed an ISIS wall chalking in Karachi. This is disturbing; ISIS may very well view Pakistan with its strategic assets as a priceless target. A Taliban splinter group, Jamaatul Ahrar, has declared its support for ISIS. Reuters quoted Jamatul Ahrar’s leader, Ehsanullah Ehsan, as saying: “We respect them. If they ask us for help, we will look into it and decide.” The formation of ISIS with its transnational ambitions may have been the tipping point for the Pakistan army to initiate Operation Zarb-e-Azb. The Pakistan army appears to have acted wisely and tried to eliminate prospective ISIS allies before they made a move here. Zarb-e-Azb was imperative in destroying TTP bases and infrastructure here. This operation has, however, opened up the possibility that terrorists who flee to Afghanistan and further to Central Asia may tie up with ISIS and provide it inroads into Central Asia, India and even China if they support the Uighur living in Xinjiang. ISIS is a real threat to the entire region, not just Pakistan. Recalling Baghdadi’s frequent quoting of Maududi, the JI’s stance on ISIS should be an eye opener. The JI’s (India) bi-weekly Dawat carried in its August 22, 2014 publication an editorial note titled ‘DAAISH (ISIS): some points to ponder’. The note says: “Some people say that they are the agents of the US while some others are of the opinion that they are a tool in the hands of the enemies of Islam to drive a wedge between Sunni and Shia Islam. There are few others who call it a manifestation of predictions in the hadith (sayings of the Prophet [PBUH])…Objectively speaking, it will not be wise for Muslims to form a final opinion on the basis of speculations…Still, it is very necessary to welcome the announcement of the establishment of Islamic caliphate by the ISIS because Islamic caliphate is the aspiration of every Muslim and there has never been a disagreement on the issue among the Muslims in any period of history.” JI’s love for ISIS and Baghdadi’s love for Maududi points to the presence of an organisation in our political mainstream that can provide recruits to this menace. Should we allow such an organisation whose father figure can be rightly labelled the father of ISIS, to continue to operate, is a question that our security agencies must ask. The mutual love of Maududi, Hasan al-Bana and the Ikhwanul Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood) is another reason for worry. The JI, which worked against the creation of Pakistan, is launching the so-called ‘Pakistan Movement’ from Minto Park on October 21 of this month, which may well be the start of a discreet campaign to galvanise support from unsuspecting innocent Pakistanis for any future DAISH action here. We need to be on guard. The country is already unstable due to incompetent governance and political agitation. The JI’s entry has more to it than is apparent. http://en.shiapost.com/2014/10/21/isis-and-pakistan-mohammad-ahmad/