Saturday, September 28, 2019
The twin developments showed that despite backing from the United States under President Trump and Saudi attempts to build international support in an escalating conflict with Iran, the kingdom’s human rights record — and, in particular, the conduct of its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — remains under harsh scrutiny on multiple fronts.
A group of experts, assigned by the United Nations Human Rights Council, has documented atrocities committed by both sides in Yemen’s civil war, and in particular the shattering impact on civilians of airstrikes and other abuses by the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels. The investigators, barred from entering Yemen, have interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses, and examined an array of other evidence.
Saudi Arabia sought to cut short the investigation, but on Thursday the nations on the Human Rights Council, meeting in Geneva, voted 22 to 12 to reject the Saudi effort, with 13 other countries not voting.
That setback came after the release of a preview of a “Frontline” documentary that addresses the 2018 killing and dismemberment of Mr. Khashoggi at a time when Saudi Arabia hopes memories of the case, and the outrage it provoked, are fading.Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi writer who had criticized Prince Mohammed in opinion articles in The Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul nearly a year ago, shocking the world and damaging the reputation of the crown prince and his efforts to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil.It is unclear whether the comments by Prince Mohammed, 34, made in December, will alter the widespread belief that he authorized the assassination of Mr. Khashoggi. A C.I.A. assessment found that the crown prince, a son of the Saudi king, had likely ordered the killing — a conclusion shared by many officials of the United States and other countries.
The crown prince, who would like to be seen in the West as a liberalizer and modernizer, is also the architect of the four-and-a-half year war effort in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that has contributed to creating what the United Nations has called the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis.
Saudi officials have denied that Prince Mohammed had any prior knowledge of the operation against Mr. Khashoggi.
“It happened under my watch,” Prince Mohammed told Martin Smith, a reporter for “Frontline,” according to a trailer released on Tuesday for a documentary to be broadcast on Tuesday. “I get all the responsibility. Because it happened under my watch.”
Turkish and Saudi officials have described a complex operation that led to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, who had fled waves of arrests of clerics and activists in Saudi Arabia, as Prince Mohammed consolidated his power, to settle near Washington.
On Oct. 2 last year, Mr. Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for an appointment to obtain a document he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée. He was met by 15 Saudi agents who had flown in hours earlier on government jets. According to Turkish officials, one was a specialist in autopsies, who brought a bone saw.
They killed and dismembered him, and disposed of his body, which has yet to be found.
Turkish officials and a United Nations investigator who examined the killing have accused the Saudis of an elaborate cover-up involving a body double and teams of technical experts who cleansed the crime scene before the Turks were given access.
When asked how such an operation could take place without his knowledge, the prince said he could not stay abreast of every act in his country or government.
“We have 20 million people,” he said, according to the trailer. “We have 3 million government employees.”
He also said that Saudi agents could have used government jets without his knowledge, adding, “I have officials, ministers to follow things and they’re responsible, they have the authority to do that.”The conversation took place near the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in December, two months after Mr. Khashoggi’s killing. The trailer for the documentary, “The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” does not contain video or audio recordings of the prince. The quotes are recounted by Mr. Smith.
His interview was one of just a handful of times Prince Mohammed has spoken publicly about Mr. Khashoggi’s killing.
The Saudis have put 11 suspects in the killing on trial, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against five of them. But the court proceedings have been shrouded in secrecy. The Saudis have not identified any of the suspects by name, and diplomats who have attended court sessions have been sworn to silence.Absent among the suspects is Saud al-Qahtani, a powerful aide to Prince Mohammed who United States officials say oversaw the operation. Mr. al-Qahtani was removed from his position as an adviser to the royal court, but his status and whereabouts remain unclear.In a report on the killing released in June, Agnes Callamard, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions for the United Nations human rights agency, said the Saudi trial had been “clouded in secrecy and lacking in due process.”The experts investigating Yemen have identified people they linked to international crimes there. It is not clear whether Prince Mohammed’s name is on that list.
At the Human Rights Council on Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador, Abdulaziz Alwasil, accused international experts on Yemen of seeking to legitimize the Houthis and denounced their findings as unfounded and “full of lies.”
With the backing of some other Arab states, the Saudis had lobbied hard to promote a different approach: a resolution that acknowledged human rights violations by all parties in Yemen and, instead of an independent investigation, aid for an inquiry by a human rights commission set up by the Saudi-backed government of Yemen. Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from the council last year.
The Saudi effort to end the investigation failed.
“It’s a diplomatic reality-check for Saudi Arabia,” said Marc Limon, a former diplomat who heads the Universal Rights Group, a research center. “It shows Saudi Arabia is not as powerful and influential as it would like to think it is.”
Member nations of the council have also called on Saudi Arabia to account for killings, torture and detention to silence dissent among Saudis, including in the Khashoggi case.
A precision-guided munition made in the USA was used in a Saudi and Emirati-led air strike carried out on 28 June of this year, on a residential home in Ta’iz governorate, Yemen, killing six civilians – including three children, Amnesty International said today.
It is unfathomable and unconscionable that the USA continues to feed the conveyor belt of arms flowing into Yemen’s devastating conflict
The laser-guided bomb, manufactured by US company Raytheon and used in the attack, is the latest evidence that the USA is supplying weapons that are being used by the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition in attacks amounting to serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen.“It is unfathomable and unconscionable that the USA continues to feed the conveyor belt of arms flowing into Yemen’s devastating conflict,” said Rasha Mohamed, Amnesty International’s Yemen Researcher.
“Despite the slew of evidence that the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition has time and again committed serious violations of international law, including possible war crimes, the USA and other arms-supplying countries such as the UK and France remain unmoved by the pain and chaos their arms are wreaking on the civilian population.”
Amnesty International spoke to two family members and two local residents, including two witnesses to the attack. The organization also analysed satellite imagery and photo and video materials of the aftermath of the attack to corroborate the witness reports.
Despite the slew of evidence that the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition has time and again committed serious violations of international law, including possible war crimes, the USA and other arms-supplying countries such as the UK and France remain unmoved by the pain and chaos their arms are wreaking on the civilian population
The organization’s arms expert analysed photos of the remnants of the weapon dug out from the site of the strike by family members and was able to use product data stencilled on the guidance fin to positively identify the bomb as a US-made 500 pound GBU-12 Paveway II.
A family ripped apart
Among the six civilians killed in the attack, which took place in Warzan village in the directorate of Khadir, were a 52-year-old woman and three children, aged 12, nine and six.
One family member told Amnesty International: “We buried them the same day because they had turned into severed limbs. There were no corpses left to examine. The flesh of this person was mixed with that person. They were wrapped up [with blankets] and taken away.”
One eyewitness told Amnesty International: “I was around three minutes’ walk away working at a neighboring farm. I heard the plane hovering and I saw the bomb as it dropped towards the house. I was next to the house when the second bomb fell… and I got down onto the ground.”
The closest possible military target at the time of the attack was a Huthi Operations Room on Hayel Saeed Farm – approximately 1km away. However, that stopped operating more than two years ago after being struck by several coalition airstrikes in 2016 and 2017. Witnesses told Amnesty International there were no fighters or military objectives in the vicinity of the house at the time of the attack.
This attack highlights, yet again, the dire need for a comprehensive embargo on all weapons that could be used by any of the warring parties in Yemen
A second air strike occurred in the same spot approximately 15 minutes after the first, indicating that the pilot wanted to guarantee the destruction of the al-Kindi family’s house. The home was struck again five days later while family members were at the house inspecting the site. No one was injured or killed in the latter attack.
Since March 2015, Amnesty’s researchers have investigated dozens of air strikes and repeatedly found and identified remnants of US-manufactured munitions.
“This attack highlights, yet again, the dire need for a comprehensive embargo on all weapons that could be used by any of the warring parties in Yemen.” said Rasha Mohamed.
“Serious violations continue to take place under our watch, and it is as crucial as ever that investigative bodies, namely the UN-mandated Group of Eminent Experts, are fully empowered to continue documenting and reporting on these violations.
Arms-supplying states cannot bury their heads in the sand and pretend they do not know of the risks associated with arms transfers to parties to this conflict who have been systematically violating international humanitarian law.
“Arms-supplying states cannot bury their heads in the sand and pretend they do not know of the risks associated with arms transfers to parties to this conflict who have been systematically violating international humanitarian law. Intentionally directing attacks against civilians or civilian objects, disproportionate attacks and indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians are war crimes.
“By knowingly supplying the means by which the Saudi and Emirati-led Coalition repeatedly violates international human rights and international humanitarian law, the USA – along with the UK and France – share responsibility for these violations.”
A recent report by the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, established by the UN Human Rights Council, concluded that the repeated patterns of air strikes carried out by the coalition raise “a serious doubt about whether the targeting process adopted by the coalition complied with [the] fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.”
The report further documents a range of serious violations and abuses by all sides to the conflict in Yemen – a conflict, which the UN states will have killed over 233,000 Yemenis by year end both as a result of the fighting and the humanitarian crisis. The UN Human Rights Council is slated to vote on the renewal of the Group of Eminent Experts today or tomorrow. Amnesty International, in coalition with other organizations, is urging states to support the Human Rights Council resolution extending and enhancing this group’s mandate.
According to the Defence Security Cooperation Agency, in 2015 the US government authorized the sale of 6,120 Paveway guided bombs to Saudi Arabia; in May 2019, President Trump bypassed Congress to authorise further sales of Paveway guided bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
As school year starts in Yemen, 2 million children are out of school and another 3.7 million are at risk of dropping out
The illegitimate political system thrust upon Pakistan last year, with the fig leaf of a “selected” prime minister, has come a cropper. This was a chronicle foretold by some political analysts. But, understandably enough, few dared to challenge the Man on Horseback. There are too many ethnic, regional, sub-nationalist, class, sectarian, institutional and ideological interests competing for a slice of Pakistan’s political economy to blithely accept such an authoritarian formula. It was only a matter of time before the contradictions, tensions and pressures of these competing interests rose to the surface and exposed the brittle nature of the political engineering carried out by the Miltablishment. The truth is that the complex crises facing Pakistan – economic, constitutional and regional – cannot be faced without a consensual national narrative at home. Consider the emerging fissures in the system.
By Farhatullah BabarThe creeping coup advancing menacingly must come to an end if the country is to survive, writes Farhatullah Babar.
د پښتو موسېقۍ نامتو سندرغاړي استاد هدایت الله د سېپټمبر پر ۲۸مه پېښور کې له اوږدې ناروغۍ وروسته د فاني نړۍ او خپلو مینه والو سره د تل لپاره خدای پاماني وکړه.
نوموړی په همدې ورځ د نوښار په ډاګ بهسود کې چې د نوموړي پلرنۍ سیمه ده، خاورو ته وسپارل شو.
د استاد هدایت الله لمسي مشال خان مشال راډیو ته وویل چې نېکه یې اوږده ناروغي تېره کړه:
"نیکه مې له تېرو اتو یا لسو کلونو راهېسې ناجوړه وو. اول لږ لږ ناجوړه وو، له کوره به د باندې وتلو، خو بیا وروسته یې بیماري زیاته شوه، له کوره نه شو وتلی او حافظه یې هم کمزورې شوې وه، څوک به یې نه پېژندل."
استاد هدایت الله په ۱۹۴۰ کال کې د پبو په ډاګ بهسود کې نړۍ ته سترګې غړولې وې. هغه د خپل کلي له های سکوله د لسم جومات امتحان پاس کړی وو او بیا هملته د کرکیلې په اداره کې تر ۲۵ کلونو پورې مامور پاتې شوی وو. خو د شهرت وجه یې د هغه خوږ اواز او پښتو موسیقۍ ته خدمت وه.
نوموړي په ۱۹۶۹ کال کې پېښور راډیو ته او په ۱۹۷۱ کال کې د پشتو فلمي نړۍ ته د یو سندرغاړي په حیث ورغلی وو او تر لسګونو کلونو پورې یې خپل خدمات وړاندې کړي وو.
د نوموړي په اړه ویل کېږي چې له ۵۰۰ نه زیاتو پښتو فلمونو لپاره یې سندرې ویلي چې ځیني یې اوس هم مقبولې دي.
د پاکستان حکومت نوموړي ته د هغه د ښه هنرمندۍ له وجې صدارتي اېوارډ ورکړی وو خو مینه وال او کورنۍ یې وايي، وروستی ژوند یې ډېر له کړاوه ډک وو او حکومت یې د درملنې لپاره هېڅ هم نه وو کړي.
د پښتو موسېقۍ استادان وايي استاد هدایت الله د یو ځانګړي غږ څښتن وو. موسېقار ای ار انور مشال راډیو ته په دې اړه وویل:
"هغه یو ځانګړی غږ درلودلو. یو وخت وو چې د هغه له سندرې پرته به فلم نېمګړی ګڼل کېدو."
نوموړی وايي، کله چې استاد هدایت الله په یوسف خان شېربانو فلم کې سندرې وویلې او کراچۍ ته لاړ نو د هغه ځای موسېقارانو ویل چې د هغه غږ بلکل د هندي سندرغاړي محمد رفیع په شان دی.
موسېقار ای ار انور وايي د هدایت الله مړینه د پښتو موسېقۍ لپاره یوه ستره ضایع ده.
Abubakar SiddiqueA cartoonist in Pakistan says one of the country’s leading English-language dailies has told him to stop drawing for them following a controversy over his caricature of the country’s prime minister this week.
Khalid Hussain, 54, a professional cartoonist, told RFE/RL’s Gandhara website that the management of The Nation newspaper informed him that they will not be printing his cartoons after a sketch of his depicting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan garnered angry reactions from senior government officials after being published on September 25.
“I don’t know how long they will not be printing my cartoons or whether they will ever print my cartoons [again],” he told Gandhara on September 27.
It was not immediately possible to reach The Nation’s management.
But in a September 26 statement to its readers, the paper apologized for Hussain’s cartoon. “The artwork fell short of our standards and does not reflect our editorial policy,” the statement said.
“We are proud to be a nationalistic paper, and we regret sincerely the attention taken by an artwork that was inappropriate, especially at the time of the UN General Assembly session taking place in New York,” the statement said adding that “necessary steps have been taken to ensure our internal procedures” without elaborating.
The firing highlights growing censorship and a clampdown on media. Rights activists in Pakistan and global media watchdogs have criticized Islamabad for pressuring the print and electronic media outlets to stop criticizing Khan's administration.
The controversy comes at a time when Islamabad is trying to draw international attention to alleged human rights abuses and restrictions in parts of the disputed region of Kashmir administered by neighboring India. Tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations have spiked since New Delhi revoked the special status for Kashmir on August 5.Khan highlighted Kashmir in an address to the UNGA on September 27. His administration in Pakistan is keen on showcasing his weeklong visit to the United States as a diplomatic success amid tensions with India.Hussain says that his cartoon, which depicted Khan chasing a “mediation” carrot dangled by U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they ride a cart pulled by Khan, was a comical take on a complex geopolitical situation.“I didn’t aim to hit Imran Khan personally. But as the prime minister of the country, he symbolically represents the country he rules,” he said. “What I felt was that Trump has repeatedly assured Pakistan to mediate between India and Pakistan. But he later said that Modi has not agreed to [his mediation].”
The reality of U.S. diplomacy is more complex. Trump first offered to mediate between Islamabad and New Delhi during an Oval Office meeting with Khan in July. But New Delhi rejected the offer.
Since then, meetings between Trump and Modi have indicated that Washington considers New Delhi a strategic partner in South Asia.
Still the United States has demonstrated that it seeks reconciliation between the two South Asian nations. On September 25, Trump told journalists that he encouraged Khan and Modi to work out their differences. "I said, 'Fellas, work it out. Just work it out,'" he said. "Those are two nuclear countries. They've got to work it out.” But Shireen Mazari, Pakistan’s minister for human rights, declared the cartoon to be “offensive, over the top, and downright insulting.” She said that the “cartoonist, in his hate-filled mind, has also failed to understand that the situation on ground! Trump repeatedly wants to mediate, and Modi finds himself in uncertain terrain.”
Marzari later deleted the tweets because she complained to the wrong newspaper but wrote that her comments about the cartoon remain valid. “You can have your criticism of the prime minister, but some basic norms and decency and respect should be shown or does hatred overrule decent journalistic bounds,” she wrote in her original tweet.
Hussain, however, says he liked Khan when he highlighted the need for tackling corruption as Pakistan’s number one issue as an opposition leader before coming to power last year. “I was hoping that his government’s policies toward media will be tolerant, but what we are seeing is very disappointing for me,” he said.
Hussain relies on some $600 monthly salary to look after his wife and their three children. “I am a full-time professional cartoonist and don’t have any other source of income,” he noted.
Thousands of Pakistani journalists and media workers have lost their jobs over the last year. Censorship and declining revenues have forced television stations, magazines, and newspapers to shut down. Some journalists have turned to social media platforms to continue reporting and survive in uncertain times.
To tighten its grip on the game that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is gradually losing on the power chessboard, it has announced the establishment of media tribunals to curb even further the already shrinking space for dissent and freedom of expression in Pakistan. The announcement triggered a severe backlash from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and civil society, and as a result the special assistant to the prime minister, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, had to issue a statement that the PTI government would consult with journalist organizations before actually establishing the special tribunals.
However, given the track record of the PTI, one can easily predict that another U-turn in this matter will be taken, and all of a sudden the already spineless media will find itself at the mercy of these special courts. Mainstream media in Pakistan since 2014 have been subject to many invisible restrictions imposed by the deep state, first to topple former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and, under PTI rule, the media have been enslaved even further. Television and print media have been pushed back to the eras of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and Ayub Khan when dissent and free expression were considered treason.
Now this country whose social fabric is built on the false narratives of religious supremacy and self-created morals and ethics, and where political discourse is engineered and the state is overseeing the demise of literature and journalism, may be witnessing the last nail in the coffin of a failed doctrine that has dominated the past six decades. This doctrine started with the martial law of General Ayub Khan, who through strong propaganda made the masses believe that politicians were corrupt and press freedom was a threat to the national interest. But the definitions of corruption and vague “national interest” keep changing as per the requirements of the establishment in Ayub Khan’s era.