Saturday, April 16, 2011

Syria's teenaged prisoners of conscience

[Read this gut wrenching story about teenage prisoner in Syria. Again how anyone can actually defend this despicable regime in the name of anything is perplexing. The day this mafia is overthrown is a glorious day for everyone. Their crimes against Syrians/Palestinians and Lebanese people are unforgivable]

The youngest known convicted prisoner of conscience in the world is a Syrian citizen. Her name is Tal al-Mallouhi, and she has been in prison since she was seventeen years old.
And now, three years later, it is horrifyingly obvious that Syria does not have a problem sweeping up schoolchildren and traumatising them for life.

Three weeks ago in Daraa, a fifteen-year-old, a sixteen-year-old, and thirty-eight children who are ten years old were forcibly hauled from their classrooms. They were taken to a notorious military intelligence detention centre called the Palestine Branch.

There was news of their release, but their families have stated that the news was false. And that is not all. Last week fifteen teenagers were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti on walls in Daraa.
"The people want the fall of the regime!" they wrote. They are accused of being solely responsible for igniting the turmoil in their city.

Then, in Madaya, a suburb of Damascus, the capital, four seventeen-year-olds, were arrested for spraying anti-government graffiti. They were handcuffed and taken from their classrooms. Their whereabouts are unknown.
'A drop in the cloud'

Will these children be the newest prisoners of conscience? To provide some context, Tal al-Mallhoui's story must be told. On December 27, 2009, she was forced from her home by Syrian state security officials.

"She was detained," an anonymous Syrian official said, "On the accusation of spying for a foreign country."
Another official said, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, "She was accused of espionage and sending information to the American embassy in Egypt through her blog."

What kind of information can a seventeen-year-old girl send a foreign government through a blog? What Tal had done, in fact, was to post poems and essays that focused on the suffering of the Palestinians, restrictions on freedom of expression, and her hope for peace in the Middle East.
Here is an illustration of Tal's poetry:

You Will Remain an Example
(In reference to Gandhi)
I will walk with all walking people
And no
I will not stand still
Just to watch the passers by
This is my Homeland
In which
I have
A palm tree
A drop in the cloud
And a grave to protect me

Two days after Mallhoui's arrest, state security officers raided her family's home in Homs, about a hundred miles north of Damascus. Her computer, computer disks, notebooks, personal documents, and a mobile phone were confiscated.

Tal al-Mallouhi was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. The verdict of the state security court is final and cannot be challenged. The schoolgirl, Tal, is in solitary confinement. She is not allowed visitors, even from her family or a lawyer.

Assad thugs vandalized a church in Baidha

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt dissolves Mubarak's former ruling party‎

"The dissolution of Hosni Mubarak's former ruling party the National Democratic Party (NDP) has been one of the key demands of the pro-democracy movement.

An Egyptian court has dissolved the former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and ordered its funds and property to be handed over to the government.

The Higher Administrative Court issued the order on Saturday, meeting one of the key demands of the protest movement that ended with the fall of Mubarak and his regime on February 11.

But activists say the fight is far from over.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from the Egyptian capital, Cairo."

Al-Jazeera Video: Friday protest in Syria

"Al Jazeera has received this video of protesters heading from the Damascus suburb of Irbin towards nearby Zamalka on April 15."

Bahrain: We must speak out about brutality in the Gulf

To have different levels of tolerance for different despots raises awkward questions


The Observer
, Sunday 17 April 2011

"One obvious lesson for the west from recent upheaval in the Middle East is that propping up authoritarian regimes on the grounds that they make stable allies is a terrible policy. The stability procured by despotism is an illusion. Brittle police states can contain, but never satisfy, a captive people's appetite for better lives. Eventually, they shatter and the more rigid the apparatus of repression, the more explosive the change when it comes.....

The Observer carries the chilling testimony of a young Bahraini [posted below] caught up in the small Gulf kingdom's brutal crackdown on civil dissent. It is a story that struggles to be heard as foreign media are increasingly denied access to the country and the local press is muzzled. As many as 30 people are thought to have been killed as anti-government demonstrations have been violently suppressed. Hundreds of protesters have been detained and employees have been dismissed from state-owned enterprises in a move to purge dissent....

Why does this Gulf regime get the benefit of the doubt when other authoritarian Arab rulers do not?......

There are many reasons for western reluctance to criticise Gulf rulers, but two stand out: oil and Iran.....

That is not an excuse for turning a blind eye to repression in Bahrain. The policy contortions and contradictions Britain has been forced into in recent weeks must serve as a warning. Our reliance on regimes that fear and despise democracy is no more sustainable than those regimes are themselves stable.....

Having belatedly found that voice in North Africa, it would be a strategic error and a moral failure immediately to let it fall silent in the Gulf."

الثورة العربيّـة المُضادّة: هجمة آل سعود

أسعد أبو خليل

هال آل سعود وحلفاءهم في إسرائيل ما حدث. بنيان نظام الطغيان العربي، الذي تقوده السعوديّة، بدأ بالتهاوي. غضب الملك السعودي من عدم التحرّك الأميركي لإنقاذ مبارك. لم ينتهِ التفجّع السعودي والإسرائيلي على سقوط مبارك. قرّر الحكم السعودي الإمساك بنظام الطغيان العربي الرسمي خشية المزيد من التضعضع. أطلقت السعوديّة العنان لعقيدة الكراهية والطائفيّة والمذهبيّة ــ وهي عقيدة دينيّة ــ سياسيّة رسميّة للمملكة. الديموقراطيّة تتناقض مع السيطرة السعوديّة على العالم العربي ــ وهي تتناقض مع الوجود الصهيوني على أرضنا
أرادت السعوديّة أن تصيب هدفيْن في آن واحد: أن تسعّر المواجهة المذهبيّة وأن تقصي كلّ الشيعة في العالم العربي عن دولهم وعروبتهم، وتصويرهم كدخلاء على طريقة العقيدة النازيّة ضد اليهود، وأن تخدم مصالح إسرائيل من حيث رفض أيّ تأييد للقضيّة الفلسطينيّة وتصويره على أنّه سياسة محض إيرانيّة، وأنّ لا مصلحة عربيّة فيها.
A very good article by the Angry Arab in Al-Akhbar on the counter-revolution conducted by the Saudi royals and their cronies in the Arab world.

A chilling account of the brutal clampdown sweeping Bahrain

Mahmoud is a Shia who lives near Manama, Bahrain's capital. Here he tells how Saudi soldiers wage a campaign of sectarian violence as the Gulf state and its allies try to obliterate all trace of the Pearl protests

, Saturday 16 April 2011

"Since the Gulf soldiers came to Bahrain, life in the Shia villages and suburbs of the capital, Manama, has been non-stop intimidation, violence and threats. Even trying to move around in normal ways has become life-threatening. They are trying to beat down the opposition with a long campaign against us......"

Fourth UAE activist 'arrested': Gulf intellectuals

DUBAI — Another Emirati rights activist has been arrested, bringing to four the number jailed in the oil-rich Gulf state in the past month, a group of Gulf intellectuals said on Saturday.
Abdullah al-Shehhi was arrested on Friday by security forces, said a statement from the Gulf Discussion Forum, which groups intellectuals in the Gulf Arab states.
His family has not heard from him and does not know where he is detained, it added.
Shehhi, a former member of the UAE armed forces who was originally from the northern emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, was one of 133 signatories of a March 9 petition calling for direct elections and a parliament with legislative powers in the UAE, which has not yet seen protests that have swept other Arab states.
Three other Emirati activists were reported arrested before him.
On April 10, Human Rights Watch denounced the arrest of Ahmed Mansoor, who was also a signatory of the petition, and called on authorities to reveal his whereabouts.
HRW said Mansoor's arrest was "aimed at scaring and intimidating others in the UAE who may wish to make public their demands for democratic reforms."
The Gulf Discussion Forum said on April 11 that economist Nasser bin Gaith had been arrested, as had another activist, Mansur al-Shehhi.
The group has called recent arrests part of "a 'protests phobia' regimes in the region are suffering from."
"The repression by Bahraini authorities of movements calling for freedom and democracy is an example," said the group, adding that Oman, which has also cracked down on pro-reform protests, is another.

Bahrain arrests prominent lawyer, doctors: opposition

Bahrain has detained a human rights lawyer and at least two doctors as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in the Gulf Arab kingdom, campaigners said Saturday.
The Sunni-led state saw the worst sectarian clashes since the 1990s last month after mainly Shi'ite protestors, emboldened by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, took to the streets.
Manama imposed martial law and invited in troops from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni allies to keep order.
Security forces arrested lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer on Saturday, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and Wefaq, the biggest opposition party, said.
"Security forces stormed his home... (at) 2 a.m.," the rights group said in a statement.
Tajer represented Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the Bahraini opposition group Haq, who returned from exile in London in February and was arrested last month.

NATO, the "Liberator": Nato must send in troops to save Misrata, say rebels

Please......More Bombs, NATO!

The situation grows more desperate in the Libyan city with increasing evidence of the use of cluster bombs against civilians

Harriet Sherwood
, Saturday 16 April 2011

".....Mohamed said the rebel opposition in Misrata had appealed to Nato to send ground troops to relieve the city. They were, he said, grateful for the international coalition's military intervention. "But we're surprised. And we're angry. We are angered by the lack of hits on Gaddafi's troops by Nato forces. "This reluctance and hesitation is allowing him to suffocate the city. It's unbearable. It's getting to the point where it's troops on the ground – or it's over. We are so grateful and relieved by the international community's efforts, it's just that they didn't go the extra steps, and that has played into the tyrant's hands. "He will massacre the people of Misrata. If a massacre happens, [Nato's] credibility is on the line. Either they intervene immediately with troops on the ground – now, now, now – [Only a few weeks back, the "rebels" emphatically said that they refused troops on the ground; now they are begging for troops on the ground? I don't get it. Are these "rebels" on NATO's payroll preparing for the next phase of the occupation of Libya? Sure sounds like it! Go......NATO!] or we will all regret this. It's murderous and mad, the people of Misrata are paying the price.""

Daraa's response to the Rabbit's speech

VIDEO – Court dissolves Mubarak’s ruling party

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

"The Higher Administrative Court in Cairo ordered the dissolution of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the liquidation of its assets, with the funds to be returned to the state. That’s really great news. But now former NDP politicians should not be allowed to resume their political activities under any other name."


This should be the future of the Ba'th party in Syria, soon.

Al-Jazeera Video: HRW: Gaddafi forces use cluster bombs

"Human Rights Watch has accused forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi of using cluster bombs in attacks against Misurata.

The group says it observed at least three such weapons explode over the city two days ago.

The Libyan government has denied the allegations.

Cluster bombs are banned by more than 100 countries.

They cannot be targeted, and pose a grave risk to civilians when fired near populated areas.

Fred Abrahams, a special adviser for Human Rights Watch, based in New York, spoke to Al Jazeera about what his group had found in Misurata."

Palestine, alive in the hearts of Mansoura students ثوار جامعة المنصورة

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

"This is just beautiful. The vet students in Mansoura who are currently on strike to rid their university of corruption, are also singing for Palestine and identifying with the intifada…"

NATO Prepares for ‘Long War’ in Libya

Analysts See No End in Sight for Air Campaign

By Jason Ditz

"With officials increasingly up front with the fact that the Libyan War is a stalemate, NATO is not looking to extricate itself from the conflict. Rather, analysts say, NATO seems to be gearing up for an open-ended conflict.[Surprise, Surprise! Was this not the plan from the beginning?] With some of the alliance’s top members saying that simultaneously Gadhafi isn’t a target but that the war will continue “until he leaves,” they have defined what seems to be an unending conflict. Which analysts say is the point....."


This whole NATO, gradual invasion of Libya, reminds me of a story from Arab folklore, with a moral.

Two cats find a piece of cheese and they start fighting about who gets the cheese. After a while, they said to each other, "instead of fighting, let us share the cheese." The problem was how to divide the cheese. One suggested going to the village monkey, who normally was assumed to be a wise and unbiased judge.

Off they went, and the monkey was glad to be the arbiter. He got his scales out, cut the cheese into two pieces and put one piece on each side of the scales. One side was slightly heavier than the other, so he took a little bite and put it back. Now the other side was heavier, so he took a bite from the other piece. This process continued until the wise monkey ate the whole cheese.

And this is the story of Libya and the "humanitarian" NATO.

No one owns Syria's uprising

Assad's regime blames 'extremists', but Syria's young are leading the way, with broad support

Ali al-Bayanouni

(a lawyer and former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria.)
The Guardian
, Saturday 16 April 2011

"....In the last few days the Syrian media have claimed that opposition groups, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, are behind the protests. The aim is to justify the regime's violent response to the Syrian people's peaceful protests. In fact, none of the opposition groups can claim ownership of this youthful revolution. We, along with many others from across the political spectrum, called for the formation of a national coalition to support the youth, but in no way do we claim ownership of these historic events. We are committed to peaceful means, and we endorse the aims of the revolution to build a civil state committed to rule of law, governed by a new constitution that emerges from the will of the people through a transparent and free vote. It is time that all Syrians – men and women alike, regardless of ethnicity or religion – enjoy equal citizenship. The dictator is not to be believed. Syrians are a civilised and progressive people; we come from a long line of poets who wrote about love and peace. These protests call for nothing more than the recapture of the people's collective sense of dignity, citizenship and freedom. Let's hope they are met by a changed attitude from the international community, which for so long has let them down. To date hundreds have fallen as a result of live fire from the regime's security forces, and many more will undoubtedly fall before the aspirations of the people are met."

Libya: Cluster Munitions Strike Misrata

Human Rights Watch Witnesses Attack Into Residential Area

April 15, 2011

"(New York) - Government forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, have fired cluster munitions into residential areas in the western city of Misrata, posing a grave risk to civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch observed at least three cluster munitions explode over the el-Shawahda neighborhood in Misrata on the night of April 14, 2011. Researchers inspected the remnants of a cluster submunition and interviewed witnesses to two other apparent cluster munition strikes. Based on the submunition inspected by Human Rights Watch, first discovered by a reporter from The New York Times, the cluster munition is a Spanish-produced MAT-120 120mm mortar projectile, which opens in mid-air and releases 21 submunitions over a wide area. Upon exploding on contact with an object, each submunition disintegrates into high-velocity fragments to attack people and releases a slug of molten metal to penetrate armored vehicles. "It's appalling that Libya is using this weapon, especially in a residential area," said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch. "They pose a huge risk to civilians, both during attacks because of their indiscriminate nature and afterward because of the still-dangerous unexploded duds scattered about."....

The area where Human Rights Watch witnessed the use of cluster munitions is about 1 kilometer from the front line between rebels and government forces. The submunitions appear to have landed about 300 meters from Misrata hospital. Human Rights Watch could not inspect the impact sites due to security concerns....."

Candlelight vigil held for Italian activist

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Mourners rally in the Gaza Strip for Vittorio Arrigoni, found dead after being kidnapped by an al-Qaeda-linked group.


"....There has been an outrage over the cold-blooded killing of the Italian. "I was about to cry when I heard the news. That man quit his family for us, for Gaza, and now Gazans killed him. That was so bad," Abu Ahmed, a supermarket owner, said. Samira Ali, a teacher, said: "Those who killed him are not Muslims and certainly not Palestinians." Arrigoni's kidnappers described him as a "journalist who came to our country for nothing but to corrupt people" - a charge completely rejected by activists and aid workers who knew him in Gaza. "He's very well-known, he lives among the people," said Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of ISM. "Vit has repeatedly put his life in danger, put his life on the line in support of the Palestinians." A journalist colleague at the Italian daily Il Manifesto said he was "astounded" by Arrigoni's death. Arrigoni is the third ISM member to be killed in Gaza - US national Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in March 2003, and a month later Briton Tom Hurndall was shot and critically injured by the army. He died in January 2004......"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Idealistic blogger 'was more Palestinian than the criminals who killed him'


By Matthew Kalman

The Independent

"......Among his friends in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), his abduction and murder have left a bewildering sense of bereavement equal to the deaths of Rachel Corrie and Tim Hurndall, two activists killed by Israeli soldiers. Hundreds of ISM activists organised rallies in Ramallah and Gaza yesterday to mourn their friend. Several gatherings were also held in Italy. "It's unbelievable," said Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of the ISM. "He was more Palestinian than the criminals that killed him." Greta Berlin, a founder of the FGM, said Arrigoni's death would not derail the struggle of foreign activists, who would remain in Gaza. The kidnapping came a week after the assassination of Juliano Mer-Khamis, a Palestinian-Israeli theatre director in Jenin. "With Juliano murdered and now Vik, it makes us so terribly sad the killings continue," Ms Berlin told The Independent. "If the people behind these murders think we will quit, they are mistaken. Like the murder of Rachel Corrie, hundreds of us signed on to work for justice for the Palestinians. We will do the same this time.""

Libya is all about logistics now

Behind Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy's statement on Libya lies desperation – and an ominous mission creep

Abdel Bari Atwan, Friday 15 April 2011

"....Fourth, as the situation on the ground deteriorates into a civil war, the US has decided to back the motley revolutionary battalions of Islamists, liberals and rogue military units currently being controlled by self-styled leaders holed up on the 10th floor of the Sheraton hotel in Doha. Obama is concerned – rightly, according to my sources – that al-Qaida is involved: Algeria has warned that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is active in the conflict. What we see now is a classic case of mission creep. As the ethics of regime change become subsumed by logistics, it is clear that the only way any significant progress can be made against Gaddafi is by the introduction of ground troops to back up the rebel fighters. William Hague hinted that small units may be deployed when he said there would be "no large-scale use of ground force" and there has also been talk of using mercenaries....."

Libya: Gaddafi forces 'using cluster bombs in Misrata'

Human Rights Watch say Gaddafi's army has fired the weapons, which cause massive damage and are banned in most states

Harriet Sherwood in Tripoli
, Friday 15 April 2011

"Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have fired cluster bombs into residential areas of the besieged city of Misrata, according to witnesses. Human Rights Watch reported that four cluster bombs exploded in the city on Thursday and Friday, and two Libyan residents of Misrata told the Guardian that they suspected the munitions were being used. Cluster bombs, banned by most countries in the world, explode in midair, indiscriminately throwing out dozens of high-explosive bomblets which cause widespread damage and injuries over a large area. The submunitions often fail to explode on impact but detonate when stepped on or picked up....."

Syria's young cyber activists keep protests in view

Citizen journalists defy threats of violence to replace harassed local reporters and banned foreign media with web technology

Hugh Macleod and a correspondent in Damascus
, Friday 15 April 2011

"....Among unprecedented and growing protests against the 41-year dictatorship of the Assad family over Syria, social media mavens such as Nakhle are emerging as the thread that binds disparate protests together. Foreign media have been all but barred from reporting from Syria and dozens of local and Arab journalists have been arrested or expelled. In their place, Syria's cyber activists are using social media and technology to ensure reporting gets out, linking the protesters on the street with the eyes and ears of the world.....

Until last month, Syria held one of the eldest and the youngest political prisoners in the world, 82-year-old Haithem Maleh, a veteran human rights campaigner who was released, and 19-year-old student blogger Tal al-Mallouhi, who remains behind bars. "Many of my friends were arrested in the last few days, especially the activists behind the computers," says Razan Zeitouna, a lawyer and human rights researcher who has played a key role inside Syria connecting activists with the media outside. She has been interrogated many times by the secret police....."

A Syrian Teenager being tortured and humiliated by the Syrian Security Forces

Very graphic disturbing video BE WARNED. Again the defenders of this regime are worse than those torturers. In the name of fake "resistance" to Israel (where Syria has not fired a single shot in 38 years) they justify , whitewash and cry "conspiracy" when they see these crimes. Conspiracy my potatoe.
The people deserve better than this evil regime.
الثورة في ساحات التغيير .. د. عزمي بشاره - 1

الثورة في ساحات التغيير .. د. عزمي بشاره - 2

الثورة في ساحات التغيير .. د. عزمي بشاره - 3

شام - مظاهرات ريف دمشق 15-4 from Douma to Damascus

شام - مظاهرات ريف دمشق 15-4 from Douma to Damascus

شام - الفرنسية 24 - مداخلة نديم خوري و إنتهاكات النظام 15-4

شام - اللاذقية - قمع بالرصاص الحي و وقوع اصابات 15-4

شام - درعا - مظاهرات جمعة الاصرار15-4 ج7

شام - حوران - الصنمين جمعة الإصرار 15-4-2011

شام - طرطوس - مظاهرات جمعة الاصرار 25-4-2011 ج2

شام - جاسم - ساحة الحرية بجمعة الصمود 15-4 ج3

شام - حمص - بابا عمرو مظاهرة جمعة الإصرار 15-4-11

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria's Daraa peaceful after meeting with president

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera speaks to Malik al Abdeh about the latest in Syria

Al-Jazeera Video: Protests spreading across Syria

فيديو+الكلمة كاملة: عزمي بشارة يلقي كلمة للثوار في ساحة التغيير بصنعاء

د.عزمي بشارة في اتصال بساحة التغيير بصنعاء
عــ48ــرب / علي مواسي

Syrian Journalist resigns from state TV because he could no longer participate in the farce

السيد وزير الإعلام المحترم

تحية عربية :
مقدمه: الصحفي ماهر ذيب ..العامل في الهيئة العامة للإذاعة والتلفزيون بصفة معد برامج ومشارك في الإعداد ...مركز القنيطرة .
أرجو الموفقة على قبول استقالتي من التلفزيون العربي السوري كوني لم أعد قادراً على احتمال المنهجية الفاشلة للإعلام السوري الرسمي ويمثله التلفزيون السوري والخاص ويمثله قناة الدنيا في تغطية الاحتجاجات الشعبية في المحافظات والمدن السورية ...و عدم تسليط الضوء على مطالب المحتجين لا بل ربطوهم بالمندسين ...وعدم تغطية الممارسات لبعض الجهات الأمنية واللجان الشعبية من تعذيب واعتقالات واعتداءات على المتظاهرين ...
و خرجت بقناعة بأن السيد الرئيس بشار الأسد ليس له أي دور بقتل الناس وهو حقاً لم يصدر أوامر بالاعتداء على المتظاهرين بالقتل والاعتقال ...لكن بعض كبار الضباط الأمنيين يتصرفون من أنفسهم وذواتهم المريضة في قتل المواطنين مخالفين بذلك توجيهات رئيس الجمهورية ...وفي هذا أجد نفسي واقفاً بين صفوف الشعب العربي السوري ...
أرجو قبول استقالتي

الصحفي ماهر ذيب

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story: Assad's grip on Syria

A Good Program, Well Worth Watching

"Stability in Syria has become a cause for concern for local authorities, as anti-government protests spread to the country's second largest city Aleppo. Meanwhile in the capital itself, several hundred students protested for a second day, against the government at Damascus University. Inside Story, with presenter Ghida Fakhry, discusses with guests: Iyas Maleh from the Haitham Maleh Foundation for the defense of human rights defenders in Syria; Ousama Monajed, a Syrian political activist; and George Jabbour, a former member of the Syrian Parliament. This episode of Inside Story aired from Thursday, April 14, 2011."

Al-Jazeera Video: Yemen sees huge rival protests

"Hundreds of thousands gather in Yemen's capital Sanaa to show support for President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

But protests opposing his continuing rule reportedly draw millions to the streets of 16 provinces around the country, after religious and tribal leaders join calls for him to step down.

Hakim Almasmari, editor in chief of the Yemen Post, speaks to Al Jazeera. "

Al-Jazeera Video: Human Rights Watch interview

"Syria's security forces have arrested hundreds of people arbitrarily since pro-democracy protests erupted a month ago and subjected them to torture and
ill-treatment, a Human Rights Watch report said on Friday.

The torture included electric shocks and sleep deprivation, says the report.

Nadim Houry, senior Syria researcher at HRW, speaks to Al Jazeera."

Al-Jazeera Video: Italian activist found dead in Gaza

"Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni has been found dead in Gaza. He had been kidnapped on April 14 by a group which aligns itself with al-Qaeda.

The group had threatened to kill if Hamas did not release its leader and two other members.

Officials have arrested two suspected kidnappers and are now looking for accomplices.

The Italian government have condemned the act as "barbaric murder".

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports from the Gaza Strip. (15 April 2011)"

Al-Jazeera Video: Yemen protests to continue

"With reports of further deaths in Yemen as security forces clashed again with anti-government demonstrators in recent days, protesters are again planning on taking to the streets in cities across the country on Friday.

The unrest comes as the opposition rejected Gulf states' mediation on the transfer of power.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh is refusing to stand down - but the opposition want him out in 14 days.

Al Jazeera's Caroline Malone has more details."

"A Beautiful Soul, A Big Heart": Italian Peace Activist Vittorio Arrigoni Slain by Militant Captors in Gaza Strip

"The body of 36-year-old Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni was found in Gaza shortly after his captors posted video of him blindfolded and bloodied. They had vowed to execute him unless their group’s leader was freed from custody by Gaza’s Hamas-led government. Arrigoni was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led movement that use nonviolent and direct-action methods to oppose the Israeli occupation. He had lived in Gaza since 2008 after arriving on a boat carrying humanitarian aid. We speak to Hawaida Arraf, a friend of Vittorio’s and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement....."

Islamic Hardliners Becoming Aggressive

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, Apr 15, 2011 (IPS) - Shrines venerated for centuries by Sufi Muslims have come under attack as Islamic fundamentalists seek to purge the Egyptian landscape of "heretical" artifacts that do not conform to their strict interpretation of Islam. Egyptian authorities say dozens of shrines sacred to Sufis – an esoteric branch of Islam – have been vandalised or destroyed in recent weeks by Salafists, an ultra-conservative sect that advocates a return to Islam as they believe it was practised during the religion’s earliest days. The shrines were built to commemorate Muslim saints and have played an integral role in popular religious practice for centuries. Sufis visit the holy sites to honour the saints buried there and to seek their spiritual blessings and guidance. Some of the shrines are also considered sacred to Egypt’s minority Shia Muslim population....."

Gadhafi’s Fate, and Our Own

Lessons of the Libyan despot's undoing

by Justin Raimondo
, April 15, 2011

"......The lesson for us could not be clearer, although I doubt anyone in a position to influence matters is capable of learning it. As our leaders strut their stuff across the international stage, proclaiming this or that "doctrine," and solemnly declaring their willingness –nay, eagerness – to go to war in defense of this or that floating abstraction, the money is running out, and their long-suffering people are falling into penury. Today, they are strutting – but tomorrow will they, too, be scrambling to hold on to power? The global economic downturn is hitting the nations of North Africa and the Middle East hard: the sclerotic regimes that have ruled the region since the demise of Europe’s colonial empires, too brittle to resist the pressure from below, are shattering. The same pressures have already emigrated to Europe, and here in the good old US of A, the crisis is crystallizing a massive discontent that could turn, at any moment, into a massive populist upsurge replicating – and even intensifying – the furious energy we have seen unleashed on the streets of Cairo. Yet our "leaders" in Washington are still allowing themselves to be diverted by largely invented overseas "crises," when the real crisis is right here at home. As our elites ponder Gadhafi’s fate, and presume to sit in judgement, they would do well to heed the lesson of his undoing – for it may presage their own. "

Thousands take to streets in Syria protests

Pro-democracy protesters reported in Daraa, Baniyas, Homs, Latakia, Deir ez-Zor and suburbs of Damascus.


"Pro-democracy protests have taken place in several cities in Syria, a day after Bashar al-Assad, the country's president, attempted to calm mounting opposition to his rule. Around 2,500 people marched in the Syrian town of Daraa on Friday, chanting slogans calling for the "freedom" of the southern town, which has been the epicentre of protests against President Assad's rule. "Between 2,500 and 3,000 people showed up at Al-Saraya area in the centre of the city, chanting slogans in favour of freedom and against the hostile regime," a human rights activist told the AFP news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity. Protests are also under way in Baniyas, Homs, Latakia and Deir ez-Zor, as well as in the Douma suburb of the capital Damascus. Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Daraa, reported that the army and security forces were not visible in the city, and that the protesters were being allowed to hold their demonstration. "It's a completely different scene from last Friday when more than 26 people were killed during protests and clashes with the security forces and protesters here. Today, no security forces are visible at all. People went after the Friday prayers ... in thousands. They were marching carrying olive branches saying 'peaceful, freedom'. Some were demanding the toppling of the regime, others were saying they just want reforms," she reported......"

Goldstone’s apparent U-turn does not change the reality on the ground

By Jody McIntyre
The Independent

"....It seems that the Israeli government momentarily took Richard Goldstone’s comments last month as a green-light for a renewed attack on the Gaza Strip. Goldstone had said that he regretted some aspects of the report he made on Operation Cast Lead, during which around 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died. Four of the Israelis were killed by other Israeli soldiers in ‘friendly fire’ incidents. The Goldstone Report concluded that individual Israelis could be held criminally responsible for potential war crimes committed by the State of Israel. But now, Goldstone, a supporter of Israel – perhaps a strange choice for an ‘impartial’ report on a war launched by Israel – has said subsequent Israeli military reports show that Israel did not target civilians as a matter of policy. Oh, Israeli military reports, that infamous source of unbiased and accurate information....

Goldstone’s recent comments were roundly condemned by the other three members of the UN fact-finding mission which authored the report – Pakistani human rights lawyer Hina Jilani; Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics; and Travers. But even if they were true, it is very telling that the Israeli government celebrate an opinion that civilians were not ‘intentionally’ targeted as some kind of justification for their crimes. The facts remain; they were civilians, and they were killed by the Israeli military. It is important that the Israeli government are made aware that the eyes of the world are on Palestine. We will refuse to be silent; after all, as Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” We must make abundantly clear which side we are standing on."

Egypt will see this revolution through

Finally, Hosni Mubarak and his sons have been arrested, but the military council must work hard to restore Egyptians' confidence


Amira Nowaira, Friday 15 April 2011

"If there is one feature that would best describe the popular uprising in Egypt that turned into a full-fledged revolution it is sheer perseverance. Since the start of protests on 25 January and even after the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February, Egyptians have been demanding that Mubarak and his men be prosecuted and justice be served. Dogged determination has kept protesters going back to Tahrir Square and other parts of the country in massive numbers to make their demands heard....

The military council, however, will need to take urgent steps to restore people's confidence in it and avoid possible future confrontation. There were allegations of torture by members of the military police and videos showing a violent crackdown on protesters during the small hours of 9 April. The military promised to investigate the incidents but so far nothing has happened....

The most prominent Islamist faction, the Muslim Brotherhood, has lately lost a great deal of its credibility by allying itself too closely with the Salafis. At university student union elections carried out in the past week the Mulsim Brotherhood secured no more than 16% of the contested places on average.....

Egypt also does not exist in a vacuum. Both regional and world powers have vested interests in it. Autocratic regimes in the neighbourhood are battling the frightening spectre of democracy in Egypt because a democratic model might directly threaten their very existence. They are looking with increasing apprehension at the events unfolding in Egypt....

But as the battle over Egypt's soul continues, nobody can underestimate the enormous challenges facing Egypt's march towards democracy. Nevertheless, we only need to remember that Mubarak was toppled in spite of his brutal security apparatus and the vast support of regional and international powers. But fall he did. And the catalyst of change was the sheer perseverance of ordinary Egyptians. Their courage in the face of bullets and tear gas was simply a tribute to human tenacity. There are no signs that this resolve is waning. If anything, it seems to be growing stronger. In the fight of wills, it is perhaps this spirit of perseverance that will ultimately win the day, the speck of light at the end of an otherwise very shadowy tunnel."

With Tripoli's rebel underground'

They're going to catch me soon.' Libyan activist risks arrest to tell of guerrilla attacks and plans for suicide bombings

Harriet Sherwood in Tripoli
The Guardian
, Friday 15 April 2011

".....Our contact was a middle-aged opposition activist in the heart of Muammar Gaddafi's stronghold. Fear and danger are rife; the stakes are high. During the course of an hour-long conversation, he told us that activists in Tripoli, frustrated by the violent suppression of peaceful protests, were now resorting to guerilla tactics to try to bring down the regime. Even suicide bombings were being considered, he said. His claims cannot be verified or properly evaluated, but they echo accounts obtained by other journalists in Tripoli, and help piece together a picture of underground opposition in the regime-held west of the country....

Now, the contact said, they were turning to guerrilla actions. They have attacked checkpoints across the city, killing the pro-Gaddafi militia and stealing their guns. The shooting that crackles across the city after dark, which regime officials claim is celebratory gunfire, is the work of the underground rebels, he said. "They [the regime] are covering up ... Every night there are attacks. The boys [on the checkpoints] have got scared. They are only getting 40 dinars (£20) a night, and they are saying we don't want to do this dirty work any more." There have been fewer checkpoints since the attacks began, he claimed......

The rebels, he said, were planning attacks on petrol stations. Fifteen police stations in the capital have been burned down since the uprising began, he said. And the underground activists were preparing even bigger attacks. "People are ready for suicide bombings."....

He also claimed that Gaddafi, sooner or later, would face threats from within his inner circle. "People on his side are not with him 100%. They are waiting for one spark. We are waiting for one or two army commanders to turn against him. Then we've got him." It is, of course, impossible to be certain of the credibility of what we were told. Reporters are denied free movement and access in the regime-held west of the country. But contacts made by other journalists in Tripoli have elicited similar information. Reuters this week reported opposition activists in Tripoli as saying there have been several attacks on checkpoints and a police station in the past week. It quoted a Libyan rebel sympathiser living abroad but in daily contact with activists in the capital as saying: "There have been attacks by Tripoli people and a lot of people have been killed on the army side."...."

Syria: Rampant Torture of Protesters

Activists and Journalists Also Arrested and Mistreated

A Detailed Report
By Human Rights Watch

April 14, 2011

"(New York) - Syrian security and intelligence services have arbitrarily detained hundreds of protesters across the country, subjecting them to torture and ill-treatment, since anti-government demonstrations began in mid-March 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The security and intelligence services, commonly referred to as mukhabarat, have also arrested lawyers, activists, and journalists who endorsed or promoted the protests, Human Rights Watch said. Syrian authorities should immediately stop the use of torture and free arbitrarily detained demonstrators, activists, and journalists, Human Rights Watch said. The government of President Bashar al-Asad should order prompt and impartial investigations [dream on HRW!] into serious abuses against detainees and ensure all those responsible are brought to justice. "There can be no real reforms in Syria while security forces abuse people with impunity," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "President al-Asad needs to rein in his security services and hold them to account for arbitrary arrests and torture." Human Rights Watch interviewed 19 people who had been detained in Daraa, Damascus, Douma, al-Tal, Homs, and Banyas, as well as several families of detainees. Those interviewed who had been detained included two women and three teenagers, ages 16 and 17. Human Rights Watch also collected information from Syrian activists about dozens of people detained in Daraa and Banyas, and reviewed the footage of some detainees released from Daraa, whose bodies appeared to have marks from torture. Those interviewed were held by various branches of mukhabarat, including state security (Amn al-Dawla), political security (Amn al-Siyasi), and military security (Amn al-Askari). All but two of the detainees arrested during the protests told Human Rights Watch that mukhabarat officers beat them while arresting them and in detention, and that they witnessed dozens of other detainees being beaten or heard screams of people being beaten. In addition to the three children interviewed by Human Rights Watch, witnesses reported seeing children detained and beaten in the facilities where they were held.....

China's interests in Gaddafi

Huge oil and financial deals play major part in Beijing's support for Libya's despot and halt to foreign intervention.

By Pepe Escobar

"What a sight. Chinese president Hu Jintao pulling a vintage John Lennon performance in Beijing and telling self-styled Arab liberator and French neo-Napoleonic president Nicolas Sarkozy to "give peace a chance" in Libya. The top four BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) all abstained at the voting of UN Security Council Resolution 1973. In his subtle address to Sarkozy, Hu also implied his displeasure that the African Union, which was overwhelmingly against a foreign intervention in Libya, had their proposals totally sidelined by the West. Only three days before UN Resolution 1973 was voted on, Gaddafi met with the ambassadors of BRICS members China, Russia and India, and told them, according to the JANA news agency: "We are ready to bring Chinese and Indian companies to replace Western ones." That may go a long way to explain the BRICS abstentions.....

And then there is the social volcano inside the Middle Kingdom. Moving at lightning speed to curb the ultra-sensitive political reverberations of the great 2011 Arab Revolt – the "harmonious society" collides with the prospect of a "jasmine revolution" – the Beijing leadership condemned what it dubbed "street corner politics" which can only lead to "social chaos" and "stagnate" Chinese society. In a nutshell; China is not the Middle East, and Middle East "turmoil" does not apply to China. Instead, "happiness" has been set as the new national goal – replacing GDP growth (and, hopefully, making everyone forget about inflation, social inequality and corruption)......"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Body of kidnapped Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni found in Gaza

Two men arrested after security officials say they found body in abandoned house
Vittorio Arrigoni
Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza in 2008. The pro-Palestinian activist has reportedly been killed by Islamic militants.

The Guardian.UK

An Italian pro-Palestinian activist has reportedly been kidnapped and killed by Islamic militants in Gaza.

The body of Vittorio Arrigoni was found in an abandoned house in the Gaza Strip on Friday following his abduction by militants, a Hamas official said.

Two men were arrested and others were being sought in the killing, the official added.

A Jihadist Salafi group in the Gaza Strip aligned with al-Qaida had threatened to execute Arrigoni by 5pm local time on Thursday unless their leader, whom Hamas arrested last month, was freed.

"A security force entered a house and they found the Italian's man body, he is dead," the source told Reuters from the scene.

By Tony Sayegh

What a despicable, cowardly act by this "jihadist" group! This is jihad, you cowards?

This great man has shown solidarity with the suffering and besieged people of Gaza, not only by words, but by acts. He risked his life and was on more than one of the Free Gaza Movement's voyages to break the Gaza siege.

The fact that such Salafi groups exist and thrive in Gaza is a testimony to the dark age inspired (directly and indirectly) by the reactionary Hamas movement.

While the rest of the Arab world wakes up to the sunshine of the Arab spring, these people remind us of who they are: killers from the dark ages.

If this was a proper revolution he, and other senior leaders, would have already been executed by now

By Hossam El-Hamalawy

"My interview with Al-Jazeera, recorded Tuesday afternoon prior to the official announcement of the charges against Mubarak. At that point, the charges of killing protesters were not announced. In all cases, my criticism as I see it is still valid…"

'The Arab awakening began not in Tunisia this year, but in Lebanon in 2005'

Revolutions don't start with a single dramatic event, such as the destruction of a church or a man's self-immolation.

By Robert Fisk

Warning: Read at your own risk; a long and rambling catalog.

Syria: Rein in security forces after violent crackdown

Amnesty International
14 April 2011

"Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must rein in his security forces and prevent further unlawful killings, Amnesty International said today, as the coastal city of Banias remained under virtual lockdown and the army was reported to have detained all males over 15 in the nearby village of al-Baydah. “The human rights crisis in Syria is growing by the day, almost by the hour,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa. “The government appears intent on trying to crush all dissent using the most repressive meansshooting peaceful protesters, carrying out mass arrests and locking down areas where people have dared to call for reform. This has to stop. Syria’s President must make it stop.” Amnesty International has received lists naming at least 200 people who have been killed since protests began in Syria on 18 March, but the true number may be much higher. Most of the dead were shot by the security forces or men in plain clothes acting alongside them using live ammunition, though the government claims that opposition “armed gangs” are the chief culprits. “The government’s claims and denials do not ring true. They are strongly contradicted by eyewitness accounts that we have received from the centres of unrest – Dera’a, Damascus, Latakia and now Banias – which speak of government snipers shooting protesters and other use of lethal force, resulting in unlawful killings,” said Malcolm Smart. “The way to determine the truth is to ensure that an independent, full and thorough investigation is urgently conducted. This is what international law requires when such grave human rights violations are reported, but the Syrian authorities have yet to order such an inquiry and live up to their international obligations.”....

Despite consistent calls from Amnesty International to investigate mass political killings carried out in the past, Syrian authorities have never made public any details of investigations or disciplinary measures carried out."

Syrian security forces abusing civilians.

Like the Israeli IOF they take turns taking pictures with their victim. If you are familiar with syrian dialects you can guess where these forces are from. The only conspiracy in Syria is this savage regime
laughing at your asses for decades claiming that they are Anti Israel. Wish they showed this courage in Golan.

Most Recent Portrait of Hosni Mubarak, by Emad Hajjaj

Gaza Salafists snatch Italian, threaten to kill him

A Salafist group of radical Islamists kidnapped an Italian activist in Gaza on Thursday and threatened to kill him, the group and aid workers said.

Foreign aid workers in the enclave named the man as Vittorio Arrigoni and said he was an activist with a pro-Palestinian group called the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who was also working as a journalist and writer.
In a video posted on YouTube, the Salafist group said it had taken him hostage in order to secure the release of an unspecified number of their members who had been arrested by the security forces in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
It said it would execute him if their demands were not met by 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Friday.
"We kidnapped the Italian prisoner Vittorio and we call on the Haniya government ... to release all our prisoners," it said, referring to Hamas premier Ismail Haniya and naming an imprisoned jihadi leader called Sheikh Hisham al-Suedani.
"If you don't respond quickly to our demands, within 30 hours from 11:00 am (0800 GMT) on April 14, we will execute this prisoner," it said.

The interior ministry of the Islamist Hamas movement which controls Gaza said it was checking the reports of the kidnapping.

Libyan rebels receiving anti-tank weapons from Qatar

Officials in Doha confirm Qatar has been secretly supplying French-made missiles to Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi

Ian Black in Doha
, Thursday 14 April 2011

"Qatar is secretly supplying anti-tank weapons to the Libyan rebels as part of its strategy of working to overthrow the Gaddafi regime, it has emerged. Officials in Doha confirmed that the Gulf state's military had been shipping French-made Milan missiles to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem, made clear on Wednesday that UN resolutions on Libya permitted the supply of "defensive weapons" to opposition forces struggling to fight Libyan armour....."

Ali Firzat: Whale fishing

Al-Jazeera Video: Violence continues across Syria

"According to reports from Aleppo, Syria's second city, one hundred anti-government protesters have demonstrated at the main university there.

Three students have been arrested in what is thought to be the city's first demonstration during the recent wave of unrest.

And the calls for greater political freedoms in the capital are getting louder by the day, as Al Jazeera's Cal Perry reports from Damascus."

Real News Video: Testimonies from Bloody Friday

Al-Masry Al-Youm: Thousands of protesters gathered again in Tahrir Square in the wake of the army’s dispersal of a sit-in

More at The Real News

Real News Video with Transcript: Libyan Rebel Leader With CIA Ties "Feels Abandoned"

Shashank Bengali: Khalifa Hifter thought he'd be America's man in Libya, but he claims US is ignoring his pleas for arms

More at The Real News

Washington’s long war against Africa

The US bombing of Libya in support of rebel clients in the spring of 2011 is part and parcel of a sustained policy of military intervention in Africa since at least the mid 1950’s.

By James Petras

"......The continuing North African uprising, overthrew the public face of the imperial backed dictatorships. As the popular Arab revolt spreads to the Gulf and deepens its demands to include socio-economic as well as political demands the Empire struck back. AFRICOM backed the assault on Libya , the crackdown on the prodemocracy movement by the ruling military junta in Egypt and looks to its autocratic “partners” in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula to drown the civil society movements in a blood bath.
The growing militarization of US Imperial policy in North Africa and the Gulf is leading to a historic confrontation between the Arab democratic revolution and the imperial backed satraps; between Libyans fighting for their independence and the Euro-American navel and air forces ravaging the country on behalf of their inept local clients. "

Fatal Tomahawk attraction

Libyan Karzai: More bombs, please!....GO....... NATO!

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"Libyan ''rebels'', by allowing Britain and France to hijack their revolt, have lost their credibility. By imploring the Pentagon to unleash the "ground strike capability" of its tankbusters and gunships to bomb their country to kingdom come, they have also lost their moral authority. To top it off, they have allowed Western and Gulf capitals to pose as carriers of the white man's burden.....

And while we're at it, there is a practical solution the Libyan contact group has not yet considered. Why not dispatch self-promoting peacock, French "philosopher" Bernard Henri-Levy (known locally as BHL), who's been busy selling the idea he convinced neo-Napoleonic Sarko to become the new Arab liberator, to be the new "rebel" military commander?......"

The flowers of the Arab spring grow from buds of free information

The message of Tahrir Square and WikiLeaks, writes Tony Benn, is that the maxim “Information is power” works as much for individuals as for governments.

Tony Benn

New Statesman

"Civilisations are remembered by the state of technology at the time. We recall the Stone Age, the Iron Age and, more recently, the ages of agriculture, industry and space. Now, we have entered the Information Age, with the computer revolution transforming the means by which we can communicate with each other. Two recent examples of this have been covered extensively in the press, but deserve further attention. First, the row over the release of US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks has shown the sensitivity of those in power to the idea that the public at large is able to read memorandums and papers that the establishment prepared for its own purposes. Similarly in Egypt at the start of the year, the masses could gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo because texting, Facebook and Twitter freed them from dependence on the official sources of information, such as state-controlled television and newspapers. WikiLeaks and the Arab world revolts remind us of the power of free-flowing information and its role in the development of society from the time of Caxton through to Google. The result in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya has been to make possible popular revolutions that would never have taken place had this information not been available....."

Massive anti-regime rally in Yemen capital

"Sana'a - Hundreds of thousands of anti-regime protesters rallied Wednesday afternoon in the capital Sanaa, demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ouster and denouncing the use of force against protesters nationwide. The protesters chanted slogans including 'Oh Ali, leave, leave,' 'It's your turn' and 'Our protests are peaceful.' Another march was held Wednesday evening in the streets of the south Yemen port city of Aden, calling on Saleh to step down. The demonstrators condemned the pro-government attack on protesters Wednesday morning in Aden, which claimed the lives of two people and injured 11. Rallies were held Wednesday in at least 10 of Yemen's 20 provinces, all calling for the ouster of Saleh after 32 years in power....."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This new poll asks:

Do you support arming the Libyan revolutionaries?

With about 1,000 responding so far, 78% said yes.

What’s new about WikiLeaks?

We shouldn’t be surprised by the war on WikiLeaks. The elite have always loathed the radical press, from English civil war news books to early American labour newspapers.

By Julian Assange

New Statesman

"Once, at the time of a major popular upheaval, elites on different sides of the political divide feared the general population more than each other. The rising merchant classes may have opposed the more traditional, aristocratic nobility, but both sides feared the radical publishers who were stirring up the people past a point of no return.....

In the long view of history, WikiLeaks is part of an honourable tradition that expands the scope of freedom by trying to lay "all the mysteries and secrets of government" before the public. We are, in a sense, a pure expression of what the media should be: an intelligence agency of the people, casting pearls before swine."