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Breaching Gaza's Siege Update

 Breaching Gaza's Siege Update - by Stephen Lendman

 

Israel keeps exerting pressure to block humanitarian efforts to deliver vital to life and other essential aid to besieged Gazans. 

 

Endorsing Israeli lawlessness, the State Department issued a June 22 "Travel Warning - Israel, the West Bank and Gaza," saying in part:

 

"The Department of State warns US citizens of the risks of traveling to Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, and about threats to themselves and to US interests in those locations," adding "avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip." 

 

Access the full statement through the following link:

 

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5511.html

 

On June 23, Secretary of State Clinton added:

 

"We do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza. And we think that it's not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves."

 

Defend against whom she didn't explain or that Gazan waters belong to Palestine, not Israel. Moreover, delivering humanitarian aid is essential until Gaza's blockade is ended, a crime against humanity Washington funds and supports.

 

This week, "Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human" sails to Gaza. Neither Israel nor Clinton will stop it, but they're trying by blocking its departure or planned interdiction surprises if it comes. 

 

The US Boat to Gaza (The Audacity of Hope) is one of 10 participating ships, now blocked by Greek officials, saying the vessel is unseaworthy, a spurious claim with no validity.

 

A June 26 US Boat to Gaza press release asked "Greek government officials to clarify whether (their leased boat) is being blocked....because of an anonymous request of a private citizen....or whether (Greece) made a political decision....in response to US and Israeli" pressure. 

 

Specifically they want to know if bailout help is contingent on succumbing to blackmail, besides Greece already surrendering its sovereignty to foreign bankers.

 

A previous article explained, accessed through the following link:

 

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/06/banker-occupation-of-greece.html

 

On June 27, a US Boat to Gaza press release responded to reports that an Israeli "Lawfare" group (Shurat HaDin) complaint is delaying the boat's departure.

 

Israel, Washington, AIPAC, and the Shurat HaDin Law Center (SH) are directly involved. In fact, SH's web site claims it's "bankrupting terrorism one lawsuit at a time," adding on June 19:

 

"I am happy to report that we have achieved some important victories in the struggle to block the anti-Israel Flotilla from 'smuggling contraband' to the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip." 

 

Specifically, it referred to a French insurance company succumbing to intimidation not to cover a French boat from Marseilles, and the Turkish ship pressured by Ankara to cancel its participation.

 

On June 15, SH announced a Manhattan federal court lawsuit to "confiscate 14 ships outfitted with funds unlawfully raised in the United States by anti-Israeli groups, including the Free Gaza Movement."

 

SH, the Obama administration, AIPAC and other Israeli Lobby members clearly support state terrorism in violation of international, US and Israeli law. Nonetheless, America's "Audacity of Hope" is confident it will sail, saying:

 

SH is notorious for filing "frivolous legal complaints against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. We reiterate that the boat we are leasing....was surveyed by a professional surveyor and successfully completed its sea trials."

 

At noon Athens time June 27, a press conference will announce its readiness to sail, but expect continued pressure to stop it - criminal co-conspirators determined to lawlessly suffocate besieged Gazans.

 

On June 27, a Haaretz editorial headlined, "Let the flotilla go," saying:

 

Israel equates "flotilla" with terrorism or "a declaration of war," no matter that cargo includes food, medicines, educational materials and other humanitarian aid raised by private donations.

 

Nonetheless, Israel "seems to be as frightened of the flotilla as one would think it would be of an attack by an armed naval fleet." As a result, it's "preparing to fight an enemy" comprised of unarmed, nonviolent men and women who care enough to risk their safety to deliver vital aid and symbolically oppose Israeli lawlessness.

 

Thirteen months after the Mavi Marmara massacre, "Israel is showing that it has learned just one lesson: the military lesson....The country is not willing to give up a display of power, thereby no doubt contributing to inflating the flotilla's importance" and Israel as a rogue terror state. "From Israel, we can at least demand that it let the flotilla get through....without once again endangering the country's position in the world."

 

On June 27, Israel National News said former US Ecuador ambassador Samuel Hart (a 27-year Foreign Service veteran) will participate in the Flotilla mission.

 

In a 1992 Foreign Affairs Oral History Project for the Association for Diplomatic Studies interview, Hart said:

 

"I've always felt that Israel has been a little bit of a burr in the saddle in our foreign policy. Here is a small country with no particular interest to us in any real strategic terms, yet it sort of jerks us around because it has not only a very vocal Jewish population, but also supporters of Israel from non-Jewish groups."

 

He also once wrote an essay calling Israel "an exhausting place to live (because) the tension, anxiety and intensity wear you out."

 

Now aged 77, he told a Jacksonville, FL newspaper he joined the Flotilla because he "missed" participating in the 1950s and 1960s civil rights movement to end segregation. "I see great similarities between this and the civil rights movement," he said. "I am pleased to be part of it." 

 

He also asked, "What did the residents of Gaza do to deserve such punishment? The honest answer is they" elected Hamas in 2006 democratically and now suffer lawlessly.

 

On June 26, New York Times writer Ethan Bronner headlined, "Avoid Gaza Flotilla, Israel Warns Foreign Journalists," saying:

 

"Israel threatened Sunday to bar for up to a decade any foreign journalist who boards a flotilla seeking to challenge an Israeli naval blockade of Gaza."

 

Moreover, Israel's Government Press Office director Oren Helman said their equipment will be impounded and they'll be subjected to "additional sanctions." He sent a warning letter to registered foreign correspondents, stopping short of saying they'll be arrested and jailed. 

 

Perhaps all Flotilla participants will be mistreated, imprisoned, their personal possessions confiscated, then summarily deported the way Flotilla I activists were treated after being attacked, beaten and otherwise abused, besides nine on board massacred in cold blood.

 

On June 26, Israel's Foreign Press Association responded, saying:

 

Journalists "covering a legitimate news event should be allowed to do their jobs without threat and intimidation. (Helman's letter) sends a chilling message to the international media and raises serious questions about Israel's commitment to freedom of the press."

 

Bronner said an unnamed New York Times journalist would participate, joining other international correspondents.

 

Further updates will follow, highlighting courageous activism against lawless Israeli brutality, complicit with its Washington paymaster/partner.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Israel Toughening Conditions for Palestinian Detainees

 Israel Toughening Conditions for Palestinian Detainees - by Stephen Lendman

 

On June 24, Haaretz writers Barak Ravid and Revital Hoval headlined, "Netanyahu: Israel to toughen conditions for Palestinian prisoners," saying:

 

On June 23, Netanyahu announced plans "to toughen the conditions of Palestinian security prisoners," meaning all of them wanting Palestine to be free, yet few committed crimes warranting imprisonment.

 

During his Jerusalem Israeli Presidential Conference, he said:

 

"We will give them all that they deserve according to international law, but nothing beyond that," despite systematically brutalizing detainees ruthlessly. More on that below. He added that:

 

"We will stop, among other things, the absurd practice in which terrorists who murdered innocent people enroll in academic studies. There will be no more 'doctors of terror' - the celebration is over."

 

Netanyahu spoke after the International Red Cross' request for proof that IDF soldier Gilat Shalit is alive went unanswered. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters:

 

"The Red Cross should not get involved in Israeli security games aimed at reaching Shalit. It should take a stand that results in ending the suffering of (thousands) of Palestinian prisoners" held under brutalizing conditions.

 

At the same time, Shalit's father, Noam, criticized Red Cross officials for not doing more, saying:

 

"We demand that the Red Cross' approach be more active and decisive. I would like to believe that they would give us a sign of life from Gilad. We are conducting ongoing dialogue with the Red Cross but it has not been much help. I did not hear them condemn Hamas on its crime against Gilad. The Red Cross has been a complete failure in this affair."

 

Shalit's been held captive since June 25, 2006 after Hamas responded to repeated IDF attacks, including a widely reported beach shelling, killing eight Palestinians and injuring 32 others, 13 children among them. Israel denied responsibility, falsely blaming a Hamas mine despite forensic evidence proving otherwise.

 

In retaliation, Hamas struck an Israeli military post near Kerem Shalom crossing, southeast of Rafah, killing two soldiers, injuring several others and capturing Shalit. He's been held ever since because Israel refuses to negotiate responsibly to free him, preferring to use his captivity to vilify Hamas, what his father doesn't understand or won't admit.

 

On June 24, Haaretz writer Avi Assacharoff headlined, "Hamas: Israel's decision to toughen prison conditions violates international law," saying:

 

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called it an attempt to cover up Netanyahu's failure to secure Shalit's release, explaining:

 

"Israel has failed to reach the captured IDF soldier. Netanyahu is responsible for Shalit not having been returned. (He'll) only be returned in exchange for Palestinian prisoners."

 

Thousands, in fact, are held lawlessly under horrific conditions. Netanyahu now spuriously claims international law justifies toughening them further. In March 2009, a Knesset committee recommended ways for Hamas prisoners and their sympathizers, including further limiting family visits already denied or greatly restricted, as well as prohibiting physical contact, banning television, radio and print publications, and denying administrative release and lawyer contacts.

 

Numbers imprisoned range at different times from about 6,000 to 12,000 or more. Most are held unjustly as political prisoners. From 1967 - 2008, Addameer reported over 650,000 detained, or about  20% of the total Occupied Territory (OPT) population and 40% of all males. Moreover, since the beginning of the September 2000 second Intifada, over 70,000 were interned. Earlier, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights  (PCHR) said 760,000 were held since 1967, including hundreds of children and many women. 

 

Most are held in Palestine. Many others, however, are in Israeli civil and military prisons, in violation of numerous Fourth Geneva provisions, including Article 49 stating:

 

"....forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons (including prisoners) from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."

 

Moreover, children are treated like adults in brazen violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), defining a minor is anyone below age 18. Israel is a CRC signatory yet violates this law like all other international ones flagrantly. 

 

On June 7, 1967, Military proclamation No. 1 justified detentions "in the interests of security and public order," subjecting all Palestinians to police state persecution. Hundreds of other orders followed, gravely harming their rights and well-being.

 

As a result, they may be held indefinitely, as well as subjected to months of abusive, inhumane and degrading interrogations and treatment, then detained without charge or tried in military courts, denying due process and judicial fairness.

 

In confinement, international humanitarian law is grievously violated, including Geneva's Common Article 3, requiring:

 

"humane treatment for all persons in enemy hands, specifically prohibit(ing) murder, mutilation, torture, cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment (and) unfair trial(s)."

 

Instead, they're subjected to:

 

-- severe overcrowding;

 

-- poor ventilation and sanitation;

 

-- no change of clothes or adequate clothing;

 

-- sleeping on wooden planks with thin mattresses, some infested with vermin; blankets are often torn, filthy and inadequate; hot water is rare and soap is rationed;

 

-- at the Negev Ketziot military detention camp, threadbare tents are used, exposing detainees to extreme weather conditions; in summer, vermin, insects, scorpions, parasites, rats, and other reptiles are a major problem;

 

-- Megiddo and Ofer also use tents; in addition, Ofer uses oil-soiled hangers;

 

-- for some, isolation in tiny, poorly ventilated solitary confinement with no visitation rights or contact with counsel or other prisoners;

 

-- no access to personal cleanliness and hygiene; toilet facilities are restricted, forcing prisoners to urinate in bottles in their cells;

 

-- inadequate food in terms of quality, quantity, and dietary requirements;

 

-- poor medical care, including lack of specialized personnel, mental health treatment, and denial of needed medicines and equipment; as a result, many suffer ill health; doctors are also pressured to deny proper treatment, some later admitting it;

 

-- extreme psychological pressure to break detainees' will;

 

-- widespread use of torture, abuse, cruel and degrading treatment;

 

-- women and children are treated like men; and

 

-- family and lawyer visitation rights are restricted or denied.

 

Many are also subjected to barbaric solitary confinement. If sustained long enough, it destroys the human spirit, psyche, mind and body.

 

Over time, it causes:

 

-- severe anxiety;

 

-- panic attacks;

 

-- lethargy;

 

-- insomnia;

 

-- nightmares;

 

-- dizziness;

 

-- irrational anger, at time uncontrollable;

 

-- confusion;

 

-- social withdrawal;

 

-- memory and appetite loss;

 

-- delusions and hallucinations;

 

-- mutilations;

 

-- profound despair and hopelessness;

 

-- suicidal thoughts;

 

-- paranoia; and

 

-- for many, a totally dysfunctional state and inability ever to live normally outside of confinement.

 

In December 2010, an Israeli Bar Association (IBA) report called Ayalon and Shikma prison isolation wings unfit for human habitation, looking more like dungeons, with crammed solitary cells rancid with sewer and mold smells, as well as infested with insects.

 

It said "(m)any isolated inmates testified to have developed paranoia, a tendency for uncontrollable fits of rage, and eyesight problems because of the lack of natural light through most hours of the day."

 

In Israeli prisons, however, it's common practice under sub-minimal conditions. Yet "(k)eeping human beings in such unreasonable conditions for extended periods of time (for any reason) deals a critical blow to the most basic human rights."

 

Moreover, torture, abuse and degrading treatment are commonplace in violation of international law prohibiting it at all times, under all conditions with no allowed exceptions. Nonetheless, a 2007 B'Tselem/HaMoked report titled, "Absolute Prohibition: The Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Detainees" estimated that around 85% are subjected to torture and mistreatment.

 

These practices are routinely used against political activists, students accused of being pro-Islam, sheikhs and religious leaders, people in Islamic charitable organizations, relatives of wanted individuals or any man, woman or child Israel targets for any reason.

 

Methods used include:

 

-- beatings that involve punching, slapping, and kicking all parts of the body, including with rifle butts and clubs; 

 

-- painful shackling and binding for prolonged periods, at times in painful positions;

 

-- sleep deprivation;

 

-- abusive and intimidating interrogations; 

 

-- extreme heat or cold;

 

-- cursing, yelling, strip searches and other forms of intimidation including threatened rape or sodomy;

 

-- oppressive noise to disrupt sleep; and

 

-- other ways to inflict pain and suffering, including against children.

 

Some as young as 10 or 12 are detained, terrorized, beaten, hooded, denied food and water for prolonged periods, as well as access to toilets and washing facilities, exposed to extreme heat or cold, painful shackling, sometime brutally for prolonged periods, threatened with sexual abuse (including rape), sleep deprived like adults, then forced to sign confessions in Hebrew most don't understand.

 

In fact, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Adalah, and Defence for Children International/Palestine obtained dozens of affidavits detailing the above abuses.

 

On June 26, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy headlined, "A Society is judged by the way it treats its prisoners," saying:

 

Palestinians "are all incarcerated under harsh conditions," often appalling "in solitary confinement in cells the width of a mattress, in shocking sanitary conditions, under constant light and deprived of sleep. Thousands of Palestinians bear the physical and emotional scars of the torture they have undergone in interrogation rooms."

 

Nonetheless, for many Israelis and Netanyahu, it's "not enough. They want more suffering and vengeance."

 

On June 26, Noam Shalit lashed out at Netanyahu, telling reporters:

 

"We say to (him): you have no mandate to sentence Gilad to death. The stubbornness and the obstinacy that you prime minister display in this sad affair is a real and immediate threat - not imaginary and not our fantasy - to Gilad's life. It is also a threat to the national strength and values of the state of Israel which we have been raised on for generations."

 

He noted earlier prisoner exchanges, as well as regular "security" prisoner releases, saying he's launching a new campaign to free his son called "The National Referendum to Save Gilad." 

 

Former senior Israeli security officials offered support, perhaps enough to resolve the issue. Either way, however, thousands of Palestinians still rot in Israeli prisons, subjected daily to degrading, abusive treatment, joined by numerous others lawlessly arrested, sometimes daily. 

 

Resolving that crime against humanity is the real issue, as well as liberating Palestine altogether.

 

A Final Comment

 

This week, 10 participating Freedom Flotilla II ships sail for Gaza with vitally needed humanitarian aid, hoping to breach the siege to provide it. Israel is determined to stop them. So is America, perhaps other nations, and apparently Greece, according to a US Boat to Gaza June 25 email headlined: 

 

"Greek Officials Attempt to Block US Boat to Gaza from Leaving Greek Port - Passengers Suspect Israel/US Economic (and Political) Pressure on Beleaguered Greek Government," already willing to surrender its sovereignty to predatory banker diktats in return for bailout help.

 

On June 23, passengers learned about a "private complaint" of unknown origin, filed to stop its mission, claiming the vessel ("The Audacity of Hope") is unseaworthy. Until it's resolved, authorities won't let it leave.

 

Clearly, Israel, America, Greece, and perhaps other co-conspirator nations will stoop to anything to keep Gazans under siege, endorsing slow-motion genocide to ruthlessly suffocate them. 

 

Courageous passengers aboard all 10 ships, as well as others previously and more to follow, are determined to stop them. Growing millions worldwide support them. So should everyone.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Breaching Gaza's Siege

 Breaching Gaza's Siege - by Stephen Lendman

 

Suffocating besieged Gazans, Israel is committing slow-motion genocide. Global activists are determined to stop it and hold Israeli officials accountable for decades of crimes of war and against humanity - unspeakable atrocities financed by criminal co-conspirators in Washington.

 

In May 2010, Israeli commandos illegally interdicted six Freedom Flotilla ships in international waters, massacring nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara mother ship.

 

Nonetheless, global activists are determined to break Gaza's siege, the first step to ending it altogether and freeing nearly 1.7 million people, isolated in the world's largest open-air prison.

 

They're coming, Freedom Flotilla II, heading to Gaza with vitally needed humanitarian aid. Planning more high seas barbarism and piracy, Israel will again interdict. In preparation, mobilized reserve combatants held drills, focusing on riot-control measures, including brute force and "surprises" if needed. 

 

On June 19, Israeli Admiral Eliezer Marom said:

 

"The Navy has prevented and will continue to prevent the arrival of the 'hate flotilla' whose only goals are to clash with (Israeli) soldiers, create a media provocation, and delegitimize the State of Israel."

 

Besides interdiction, imprisonment awaits participants, Israeli authorities saying blockade violators will be arrested and jailed, treated harshly, then deported. All of it, of course, is lawless, including seizure of humanitarian supplies and personal belongings like Flotilla I was pillaged, the way pirates have done it for centuries.

 

Israel is a rogue terror state. Activists know the risks. They're coming anyway and will keep coming, no matter what Israel plans.

 

A June 23 "Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human" press release headlined, "Sailing to Gaza," saying:

 

Within days, 10 participating ships will sail. Two carry cargo. Hundreds of activists from 20 countries are aboard the others, including politicians, writers, religious figures, journalists, TV crews from major broadcasters, doctors, lawyers, holocaust survivors, artists, and various other distinguished and ordinary committed activists for justice.

 

On June 18, Turkey's IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation pulled out, yielding to government pressure at a time Israeli and Ankara officials are holding secret rapprochement talks. 

 

Despite Israeli threats, lies, pressure, blackmail, and governments not supporting their own citizens, preparations are nearly complete to sail.

 

A June 24 Free Gaza.org press release headlined, "Israel proves that Flotillas work," saying:

 

Israel's recent authorization of token aid amounts, including construction materials for 1,200 homes and 19 truckloads of medicines, shows pressure works even though not enough. Key is stiffening it until Gazans and all Palestinians are free. It's coming because global millions support it. For now, "Freedom Flotilla 2: Stay Human" sails for Gaza next week. "(O)ur destination is freedom."

 

Organized by 14 national groups and international coalitions, a US Boat to Gaza is included, named "The Audacity of Hope." Participants call this "an important moment in history." They're defying Israeli US ambassador Michael Oren describing organizers as "radical anti-Israel organizations known also for anti-American activities," and Netanyahu saying the mission is a "provocation." Earlier, he told European ambassadors in Jerusalem, "This flotilla must be stopped." Responding to it, he mounted a PR stunt to pretend Gaza's siege is eased. 

 

Like other global activists, Americans are determined to help, despite Washington's efforts to deter them. On June 14, passengers wrote Obama, saying:

 

"We are writing to inform you that 50 unarmed Americans will soon be sailing....to Gaza....challeng(ing) Israel's (illegal) blockade (in) friendship (and solidarity) in support of the Palestinian people and their human rights."

 

Telling Gazans they're not alone, "it will call attention to the morally and legally indefensible collective punishment of a population of civilians....As US citizens, we expect our country and its leaders to help ensure the Flotilla's safe passage (and) demand that the Gaza blockade be lifted. This should begin by notifying the Israeli government in clear and certain terms that it may not physically interfere with" any participating vessel. We "expect no less from our President and your administration."

 

On June 24, Audacity of Hope participants "expressed profound disappointment" by the State Department's June 22 response, issuing a scandalous "travel advisory," advising Americans against coming by sea or other means. Saying previous attempts were "stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of US citizens," it didn't warn Israel that interdiction won't be tolerated, especially if on board activists are harmed.

 

Participating in the mission, University of Southern California Professor Hagit Borer said:

 

"Apparently, the State Department subscribes to the view that Israel's anticipated violence against unarmed protesters is an immutable act of nature. This is a remarkable attitude, coming from a government that provides the Israeli government with billions of dollars in military aid and routinely uses its veto to protect (its) government from censure of its occupation policies by the UN Security Council."

 

In fact, Washington officials are legally bound to protect US citizens. Nonetheless, they plan nothing to do it, effectively green-lighting Israeli commandos to lawlessly interdict, brutalize, and kill again if if they choose, perhaps with funding, weapons and munitions America supplies for that purpose.

 

A Final Comment

 

On June 24, Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor said:

 

"Israel is determined to stop the flotilla. Israel has the right to self-defense. The flotilla has nothing constructive. There is nothing humanitarian in the shipments," calling the mission a "provocation."

 

In fact, it's bringing vital humanitarian aid Israel lawlessly restricts or blocks entirely for nearly 1.7 million besieged people, ruthlessly persecuted for not being Jewish and electing the wrong government. Abhorrent by any standard, under international law it's illegal but continues because global leaders are complicit for doing nothing to stop it.

 

In America's Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson endorsed citizen action against destructive government policies. Flotilla participants are acting in the best tradition of his message, challenging Israeli repression for justice.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Violating Palestinian Rights

 Violating Palestinian Rights - by Stephen Lendman

 

Besides its Knesset, security forces and intelligence services, Israel's High Court and Civil Administration ravage Palestinian civil society repressively. Two examples illustrate the problem.

 

On June 22, a B'Tselem press release headlined, "Sharp increase in West Bank home demolitions," saying:

 

Through late June, Israel's Civil Administration, its Judea/Samaria (West Bank) governing body, illegally "demolished more Palestinians homes....than in all of last year." Most often, soldiers and Border Police accompany them, forcefully evicting longtime residents.

 

Over the most recent seven day period, 33 residential buildings were demolished in Jordan Valley Fasayil, al-Hadidiyeh, and Yarza communities, as well as southern Hebron Hills Khirbet Bir al-'Id. As a result, 238 Palestinians, including 129 minors, lost homes.

 

Since January 2011, 103 Israeli controlled Area C (62% of the West Bank) structures were demolished, affecting 706 Palestinians, including 341 minors. This represents a sharp increase over 2010 and 2009 when 86 and 28 were bulldozed respectively.

 

At the same time, Civil Administration officials made few plans to help Palestinian communities. Instead, they prevent new construction and development beyond what now exists, "making it impossible for Palestinians to build legally in these areas."

 

Israel contrives ways to enforce policies. For example, some homes are demolished in areas the IDF declares "firing zones," including half of Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea land, even places located along main traffic arteries or next to or comprising settlements. As a result, even though Palestinian dwellings date back generations, they're prohibited from living there henceforth.

 

Discriminatory planning and building laws affect communities like Khirbet Bir al-Id, adjacent to the 1998-built Mizpe Ya'ir outpost. Though illegal, Israel approved connecting it to water, electricity, other public services, and basic infrastructure, funding it, including an access road. Moreover, it did nothing to prohibit its establishment, compared to Civil Administration harshness, demolishing Palestinian structures on their own land without permit permission.

 

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) helps rebuild homes. It also resists "land expropriation, settlement expansions, by-pass road construction, policies of 'closure' and 'separation,' " destruction of agricultural land and crops, and the occupation's repressive effects overall, beyond its original mission to oppose and resist Palestinian house demolitions.

 

From June 1967 - July 28, 2010, ICAHD said Israel destroyed nearly 25,000 Palestinian structures, based on Interior Ministry, Civil Administration, OCHA, other UN sources, and Palestinian Center for Human Rights data, as well as Israeli and other Palestinian human rights groups, Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), its own field work, and other sources.

 

It classifies demolition types as:

 

-- punishment for actions associated with the structures (about 8.5%);

 

-- administrative for lacking building permits (about 26%);

 

-- land-clearing/military demolitions for any reason, including achieving IDF goals or accompanying extrajudicial assassinations (about 65.5%); and

 

-- other undefined reasons.

 

Israel, in fact, annexes Palestinian land one home demolition at a time. From July 10 - 25, 2011, ICAHD will again rebuild a bulldozed home, belonging to the Abu Omar family. Built in 1990 on privately owned land, Israel demolished it in 2005.

 

Ahmed Abu Omar applied for permit permission, but agricultural zoning restrictions denied him, a familiar story heard often to prevent Palestinians from living on their own land. With his wife and seven children, he built anyway, but was told in 2003 he did it illegally followed by a March 2005 demolition order. A month later, Israel bulldozed it despite his lawful presence, offering no compensation for destroying his property.

 

Since then, the Omars got by in a small house provided by neighbors and an ICAHD-built small, temporary shelter. Omar describes the experience as "dying every day." ICAHD decided to help him. The family response was gratitude and eagerness to regain what they lost. "Their courage to defy the Israeli Occupation's atrocious practice of demolition, forced eviction, and land expropriation is an inspiration to" everyone to resist.

 

ICAHD stresses that the "right to adequate, permanent, and safe housing, when fulfilled, provides the foundation for the realization of other rights," including to work, education, healthcare and other social benefits, as well as self-determination and political, civil and human rights. "When Palestinians are denied their right to housing, other economic, social, cultural, and political rights" are compromised. 

 

As an occupying power, Israel is legally bound to provide them, and is prohibited from collectively punishing. It nonetheless persists because world leaders don't stop it. Palestinians, of course, lose out in isolation, ignored by powers that can help.

 

Israel's High Court of Justice (HCJ) Orders Cast Lead Victims Case Reheard 

 

On June 23, a Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) press release headlined, "Israel (HCJ) vacates verdict in Case Lead Case: Appoints New Panel of Judges and Orders Case on behalf of 1,046 victims be Re-heard."

 

Earlier on April 28, Israel's High Court dismissed a Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) petition filed on behalf of over 1,000 Cast Lead victims. It asked the High Court to order Israel's State Attorney "to refrain from raising a claim under the (two-year) statute of limitations in future civil suits" for just compensation.

 

An earlier article discussed the case, accessed through the following link:

 

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/05/new-israeli-discriminatory-laws.html

 

Pertinent information from it is repeated below.

 

At issue, is the universally recognized right to compensation for violations of international law, what neither Israeli governments nor its High Court respect. Its April 28 dismissal of legitimate redress is a blight on its reputation as an equitable tribunal. It's also a serious setback for Israel's victims.

 

"Significantly, the Court's decision to dismiss the petition was procedurally flawed." It denied PCHR its lawful right to reply by May 3. It showed Court complicity with rogue officials and soldiers, shielding them from justice, as well as denying legitimate compensation to their victims.

 

Moreover, the UN Cast Lead Fact-Finding Mission  concluded that such actions amount to "persecution, a crime against humanity."

 

International law, in fact, recognizes the right of all victims to redress, including compensation, when violations have been committed against them. Yet Gazans are now prevented from "accessing justice, in violation of their fundamental rights." They now face three major obstacles:

 

(1) Statute of limitations: Under Israeli law, civil damage claimants have two years to act from the date of the incident, or lose out entirely. However, Gaza's closure and other restrictions prevented them from submitting filings within the required time. In fact, before August 2002, the period allowed was seven years.

 

(2) Monetary barrier: Israeli courts require claimants to pay court insurance fees before filing. While courts may, in fact, wave them, they're always applied to Palestinians, putting them under an unfair burden. Moreover, exact amounts aren't fixed. They're determined on a case-by-case basis. For lost or damaged property, they're usually a percent of its value. In cases of injury or death, no formal guideline exists.

 

PCHR said that in recent wrongful death cases it filed, claimants had to pay insurance costs of $5,600, an insurmountable amount for most Palestinians. "Simply put," said PCHR, "claimants from Gaza - crippled by the economic devastation wrought by the occupation and the illegal closure - cannot afford this fee and their cases are being dismissed and closed," denying them justice.

 

(3) Physical barriers: Under Israeli law, valid testimonies require victims or witnesses be in court to undergo cross-examination. Under siege, however, since June 2007, Gazans were denied permission to appear. As a result, their claims were dismissed.

 

Moreover, PCHR lawyers are prohibited from entering Israel to represent clients and must hire Israeli ones at extra cost. However, plaintiffs also are denied entry to meet with attorneys, and they, in turn, get no permission to enter Gaza. In fact, the entire process is rigged to insure injustice, another indictment of cruel and discriminatory intolerance.

 

PCHR said the policies and practices it challenged "perpetuate a climate of pervasive impunity." As a result, they effectively made Gaza an "accountability free zone," what, in fact, applies throughout Occupied Palestine, reinforced by rogue justices misinterpreting international law by violating it.

 

On June 15, Israel's High Court in part agreed, ordering new judges rehear the case, whether or not justice this time will be rendered. It's rare Palestinians get it in any Israeli military or civilian court.

 

PCHR's petition was litigated by Michael Sfard and Carmel Pomerantz, challenging the two-year statute of limitations and numerous other judicial barriers, including blockading Gaza under siege. It's on behalf of 1,046 Cast Lead victims, representing most cases prepared after the war.

 

"They cover virtually the entire spectrum of international humanitarian law violations," including "the most infamous cases," affecting the Samouni, Abu Halima, and Al-Daia families. The Al-Samounis lost 23 of their 48 members, Masouda Al-Samouni saying:

 

"I have no hope, no future. I lost everything in the offensive. I was in the corner with my children just watching. I was screaming and crying. I saw everything, the blood and the brains. There was smoke everywhere. I saw my brother-in-law falling down, and my mother-in-law. I realized that my three brothers-in-law and my mother-in-law were dead....I was injured in the chest and couldn't move....I was bleeding and five months pregnant."

 

Soldiers entered Ateya Al-Samouni's home forcibly, shooting him in cold blood. Mona Al-Samouni saw her parents shot to death. Others witnessed similar trauma. Survivors suffer from depression and nightmares. They're also impoverished.

 

The Halima family's experience was similar, losing eight members, including six children. Seven others were injured, including four children. 

 

Israel killed the entire Al-Daia family, destroying its residence, then blaming the tragedy on an operational error when, in fact, it deliberately targets non-military sites, including homes, schools, hospitals, universities, mosques, historic sites, and many others unrelated to military necessity. 

 

As a result, most Cast Lead casualties were civilians. It was no accident. It's now up to Israel's High Court to provide redress, though no amount will restore lost lives or remove permanent scars.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Bahrain Sues to Suppress Police State Terror Truths

 Bahrain Sues to Suppress Police State Terror Truths - by Stephen Lendman

 

On June 14, London Independent writer Robert Fisk headlined, "I saw these brave doctors trying to save lives - these charges are a pack of lies," saying:

 

The Khalifa monarchy "started an utterly fraudulent trial of 48 surgeons, doctors, paramedics and nurses, accusing them of trying to topple the tin-pot monarchy of this Sunni minority emirate."

 

One of many Bahrain articles addressed this topic, accessed through the following link:

 

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/06/torturing-bahraini-doctors.html

 

Fisk said he witnessed medical heroism firsthand, "drenched in their patients' blood, desperately trying to staunch the bullet wounds of pro-democracy demonstrators, shot in cold blood" by state security force thugs, a Khalifa monarchy specialty.

 

"The idea that (these doctors) are guilty of (state crimes) is not just preposterous. It is insane, a total perversion, (the) total opposite (of) truth....(Bahrain is) a Saudi palatinate, a confederated province of Saudi Arabia, a pocket-sized weasel state from which all journalists should in future use the dateline: Manama, Occupied Bahrain."

 

On June 15, Independent writer Richard Hall headlined, "Bahrain 'to sue over Independent reporting,' " saying:

 

The Khalifa monarchy "commissioned a UK-based law firm to file a case against The Independent for its reporting on the crackdowns on (internal) protests...."

 

Mainly directed against Fisk's article, it also claims that:

 

"using columns, features and news to publish misinformation in repeated attacks on our people and rulers amounts to libel and will be treated as such in accordance with the law."

 

The monarchy, of course, spurns international law and its own constitution, reigning daily terror since mid-February on pro-democracy supporters. In fact, every imaginable barbarity is being inflicted, including Obama administration supported cold-blooded murder, mass arrests, detentions, torture, and bogusly charging medical providers helping victims with baseless crimes.

 

Lawyers for London contributor David Banks asked, "Can Bahrain's government sue the Independent for libel?" saying:

 

If it succeeds, it will defy "the well-established principle that governments cannot sue for libel," instituted in 1993 by the House of Lords in the Derbyshire County Council v. Times newspapers case.

 

Two Times articles "questioned the propriety of investments for the Council's superannuation fund. The authority sued for libel for the damage done to its reputation." The lower court denied it. The Council appealed. Dismissing it, the House of Lords said:

 

"It was of the highest importance that a democratically elected governmental body should be open to uninhibited public criticism, and since the threat of civil actions for defamation would place an undesirable fetter on the freedom to express such criticism, it would be contrary to the public interest for institutions of central or local government to have any right at common law to maintain an action for damages for defamation."

 

Since then, central and local governments weren't able to sue for libel, knowing they'd be denied. However, Banks cautioned that Britain's libel principle applies to UK "democratic governments," not police state monarchies like Bahrain, dismissing legal standards to further their own lawlessness with impunity.

 

Nonetheless, it would "set a curious precedent" if British courts let UK libel laws protect unelected despots, but not their own governmental bodies. 

 

However, while authorities themselves can't sue, individuals may do so even if governments fund them. As a result, a Bahraini minister, perhaps one or more royal family members, or King Hamad, could file libel charges on their own, whether or not it could work. Facing incontrovertible evidence, that very much is in doubt.

 

Moreover, the "Reynolds defence" would apply - namely, that "The Independent was responsibly and fairly reporting matters of the highest public interest."

 

Perhaps Bahrain aims more to intimidate than prevail by pursuing expensive proceedings it can afford better than publications, giving others pause on what they say.

 

Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) on Bahrain

 

On June 15, an IHRC action alert headlined, "Bahrain to Chair UNESCO's World Heritage Committee whilst destroying its own heritage," saying:

 

On June 19, Bahrain began chairing the 35th Session of The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Paris. At the same time, it's been demolishing mosques, as well as ravaging its Shia majority with impunity. 

 

Moreover, the Khalifa monarchy has systematically destroyed Bahrain's culture for decades, including old buildings, palm tree huts, other traditions, and 21 ancient licensed mosques, including one over 640 years old.

 

Its membership on the World Heritage Committee is outrageous. Chairing it is intolerable. Write to Irina Bokova, UNESCO's Director-General demanding its removal, expulsion, and censure for its actions.

 

Bahrain Expels Independent Journalist

 

On June 18, Finian Cunningham was deported for reporting critically on Bahraini abuses, despite living there for three years and covering the uprising from its mid-February inception.

 

In a June 12 interview, he said the monarchy's call for "national dialogue" was hollow, cynical public relations, while reigning terror on its citizens. He also criticized Washington and Britain for turning a blind eye to its brazen abuses, including cold-blooded murder, torture, lawless arrests, and sham trials against innocent defendants.

 

Now in Belfast, he said:

 

"My lasting impression of Bahrain is not the brutish nation of its illegitimate rulers, but the bravery and decency of its ordinary men, women, and youths in their noble struggle for freedom."

 

The night he left, he witnessed 150,000 in Sitra demanding legitimate freedoms. Despite months of police state terror, "(t)he people are stronger than ever and are more determined than ever to bring democracy and freedom to Bahrain."

 

Western media and governments barely notice or care, supporting ruthless terror states like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain and many others, instead of condemning, isolating, sanctioning, and ending diplomatic and economic relations.

 

Bahrain also threatens arrests and prosecutions for anyone speaking freely with media sources regarding human rights abuses and denial of democratic freedoms. As a result, persons appearing on camera or known to speak openly face severe recriminations.

 

In fact, CNN reporter Amber Lyon said sources who spoke to her later disappeared, their family members explaining they'd been arrested or forced into hiding after security forces raided their homes and threatened them. Yet Article 10 of Bahrain's Human Rights Act says: 

 

"(E)veryone has the right of freedom expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers."

 

The Khalifa monarchy, in fact, spurns fundamental human rights, governing despotically, targeting anyone challenging its authority ruthlessly.

 

On June 20, Independent writer Alistair Dawber headlined, "Bahraini leadership faces new claims that torture took place in hospital," saying:

 

Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres - MSF) "alleges that (state) security forces.... regularly beat hospital patients who had injuries....sustained during the rallies that started in February."

 

MSF, in fact, confirmed the existence of "a torture chamber maintained by Bahraini forces within the hospital. And it provide(d) fresh evidence that retribution was not limited to the alleged ringleaders of the protests."

 

A Bahraini surgeon's March 15 email to the British professor who trained him said:

 

"I am in the hospital exhausted and overwhelmed by the number of young lethally injured casualties. It's genocide to our people and our hospital doctors and nurses are targeted for helping patients by pro-government militia."

 

Two days later, Bahraini security force thugs stormed the hospital, reigning terror on pro-democracy patients  and medical providers helping them.

 

On June 20, Bahrain 14Feb. Revolution said mentally disabled Hassan Nooh was maliciously held incommunicado for over two years. 

 

On March 28, security forces stormed Nooh Yahya Abdalqahir's home. He was out, and Hassan there at the time was seized to force his surrender. On March 29, Abdalqahir submitted to arrest. Hassan remains in custody. Family members know nothing, expressing concern because he can't care for himself.

 

On June 19, Bahrain 14Feb. Revolution also said 70-year old Hasan Al-Sitri was murdered while walking in the Nuwaidrat area. Evidence showed his neck broken and a large wound on his back. 

 

Bahrain's Interior Ministry issued conflicting reports. One said he died naturally, another that he was struck with a heavy object, and a third that he fell during a confrontation with three men, hitting his head on rocks. 

 

The Ministry also demanded family members sign a death certificate, claiming his death was "normal." They refused, wanting an autopsy. It confirmed death from two blows with heavy objects, causing severe neck fractures.

 

A Final Comment

 

Bahrain is a lawless terror state. Its people wanting to live free are brutalized. Western media hardly notice. Washington offers wholehearted support. In early June, Obama met with crown prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa at the White House, the equivalent of welcoming a serial killer.

 

Afterwards he met with Hillary Clinton. She called Bahrain "a partner, and a very important one....and we are supportive of a national dialogue and the kinds of important work that the Crown Prince has been doing in his nation, and we look forward to it continuing."

 

Unexplained was her support for preventing Bahraini democracy, no matter the body count to achieve it.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

America's Barbaric Death Penalty

 America's Barbaric Death Penalty - by Stephen Lendman

 

Numerous organizations oppose capital punishment, including the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP), an alliance of about 60 NGOs, bar associations, local bodies and unions, founded in May 2002. In 2003, it established October 10 as the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

 

On October 10, 2011, the 9th World Day seeks to raise awareness of the inhumanity of capital punishment from sentencing to execution. In fact, death row inmates endure horrific emotional and physical suffering under appalling conditions with little regard for their well-being.

 

Last year, the 8th World Day was "dedicated to the USA which executed 52 people and handed down 106 death sentences in 2009." America is one of the few federalists countries empowering states with this right. Presently, 34 use it. The others opt out, Illinois the latest one abolishing it, although 10 retentionist states haven't executed anyone for 10 or more years.

 

Amnesty International (AI) calls capital punishment "the ultimate denial of human rights. It is premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice."

 

In fact, there's nothing just about state-sponsored murder, especially against wrongfully accused victims. In America, they're mostly poor Black and Latinos, denied due process and judicial fairness. The system, in fact, is rigged to convict even known innocent defendants, the most famous being Mumia Abu-Jamal. 

 

Falsely convicted in July 1982, he's been on death row for nearly 29 years. The Supreme Court repeatedly denied him a new trial despite clear prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, racial discrimination, perjured testimonies, and political intent to hold him culpable for a crime he didn't commit.

 

Kevin Cooper is less well known, also languishing on death row despite his innocence, another victim of American injustice because he's poor, Black, and easy prey. An earlier article on him can be accessed through the following link:

 

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/12/kevin-cooper-victimized-by-american.html

 

More about his case below and US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William A. Fletcher's belief in his innocence.

 

The Chicago-based Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) aims to abolish it in America, hoping to grassroots activism will achieve it. The US is the only Western country still using it. In addition, since 1990, 30 countries abolished it, and among the 74 still executing, four are the main abusers - America, China, Vietnam and Iran.

 

Currently, about 3,200 US prisoners are on death row. In 1972, the Supreme Court (in Furman v. Georgia) said:

 

"the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, (and so) harsh, freakish, and arbitrary" to be constitutionally "unacceptable." The decision voided 40 death penalty statutes, thereby commuting the sentences of over 600 death row inmates nationally.

 

In 1976 (in Gregg v. Georgia, Jurek v. Texas, and Proffitt v. Florida - collectively called the Gregg decision), the High Court reinstated the death penalty and let states impose it. The Court held that new death penalty statutes in these states were constitutional under the Eighth Amendment, even with cruel and unusual punishment clauses that should have banned them.

 

In Gregg v. Georgia, the Supreme Court called the death penalty not inherently cruel, only "an extreme sanction, suitable to the most extreme of crimes."

 

In fact, it's extremely cruel and barbaric, flouting due process, judicial fairness and humanity, violating equal constitutional protection. It disproportionately affects people of color, the poor, and disadvantaged. It legitimizes state-sponsored murder, innocent as well as guilty prisoners affected. Moreover, it's ineffective in deterring crime, and unconscionable in civilized societies.

 

In 2000, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on capital punishment after 13 prisoners were found innocent and released.

 

On January 11, 2003, two days before leaving office, he then cleared death row, commuting sentences for 163 men and four women to life imprisonment. He also declared a moratorium on future executions, saying: 

 

"The facts that I have seen in reviewing each and every one of these cases raised questions not only about (their innocence), but about the fairness of the death penalty system as a whole. Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error: error in determining guilt and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die."

 

Calling Illinois' death penalty system "arbitrary, capricious, and therefore immoral," he ended his gubernatorial tenure by pardoning four men and issuing a blanket commutation for all state prisoners on death row, adding "The Legislature couldn't reform it, lawmakers won't repeal it, and I won't stand for it - I must act."

 

In January 2011, both Houses of Illinois' legislature voted to end capital punishment, Gov. Pat Quinn officially abolishing it in March, saying it's impossible "to create a perfect, mistake-free death penalty system."

 

As a result, Illinois joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia (including New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Massachusetts) without capital punishment, what should have been abolished federally long ago.

 

Since 1976, after the death penalty's reinstatement, over 1,250 US inmates have been executed, mostly in southern states, and more than 35% in Texas alone. During his six-year gubernatorial tenure, George Bush was a modern-day Pontius Pilate, a Texecutioner, a serial killer responsible for 155 "homicides," showing his callous disregard for human life, evident globally as president.

 

Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty

 

Its barbarism alone warrants banning it unconditionally. Other factors make it more convincing, including:

 

(1) Its application is racially biased with regard to defendants and victims, CEDP saying minority lives are less valued than whites. Blacks are about 12% of the population, but comprise 42% of death row prisoners. In Ohio, it's over 50%, and in southern states like Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, North and South Carolina it's more than 60%. Since 1776, America executed over 18,000 prisoners. Only 42 involved a white person for killing a Black, and according to AI, more than 20% of executed Black defendants were convicted by all-white juries.

 

(2) Poor people are unfairly affected, former Supreme Court Justice William O. Black quoted saying, "One searches our chronicles in vain for the execution of any member of the affluent strata in this society." In other words, those able to afford good legal representation avoid death row. Over 90% charged with murder are poor, unable to pay for a proper defense, instead relying on inexperienced counsel or public defenders with little interest in their case.

 

(3) Death sentences condemn innocent victims to die. Since 1973, 123 people in 25 states were discovered innocent and released. And they may be the tip of the iceberg, many others less lucky because authorities won't admit mistakes and often bogusly convict maliciously or for other unjustifiable reasons. Criminologist Michael Radlet explained that from 1900 - 1992, 416 documented cases of innocent people were convicted of murder or capital rape, one-third given the death sentence.

 

(4) Death penalty convictions don't deter crime. For example, southern states have a higher murder rate than northern ones even though 80% of executions occur there.

 

(5) As the Supreme Court said in 1972, "the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments." Even with no hitches, it's barbaric, but when botched it inflicts severe, sustained pain. As a result, in 2007, executions were on hold in over a dozen states, and botched ones put lethal injections under more scrutiny. 

 

In 2005, The Lancet published a medical researcher team report, finding "that in 43 of the 49 executed prisoners studied, the anesthetic administered during lethal injection was lower than required for surgery. In 43 percent of cases, drug levels were consistent with awareness." As a result, executions involved extreme pain, amounting to torture and still do willfully to inflict extra suffering.

 

Opposition to Capital Punishment

 

Last November 12 - 14, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty's annual convention was held in Chicago, featuring anti-death penalty/anti-criminal injustice workshops, strategizing and discussions on abortion rights, and more, including opposition to life without parole (LWOP), other harsh sentences, police brutality, wrongful convictions, and other unjust acts.

 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights laws recognize the dignity of life and right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. 

 

On November 15, 2007 and again on December 18, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 62/149, proclaiming a global death penalty moratorium. Proposed and sponsored by Italy, its Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said, "Now we must start working on the abolition of the death penalty." 

 

Resolutions, however, aren't enough, especially given America's attitude with the world's largest prison population, a giveaway to its disdain for people of color, the poor and disadvantaged, many on death row unjustly.

 

Wrongfully Convicted Kevin Cooper

 

One of many, Judge William A. Fletcher addressed his case on April 12, 2010 in the inaugural Gonzaga University School of Law Justin L. Quackenbush lecture. Focusing on capital punishment, he asked: "Where have we been? Where are we now? And where do we go from here?"

 

Reviewing America's modern history, he cited Furman v. Georgia (1972, cited above). Also, the 1976 Gregg decision (explained above). He then called America "unusual among industrialized nations," only Japan and China among them retaining the death penalty. All European Convention of Human Rights signatories renounced it, including Western, many Eastern European states, and Central Asian ones.

 

In America, he discussed state differences and High Court decisions since Furman and Gregg. In Atkins v. Virginia (2000), it ruled executing a mentally retarded person unconstitutional. In Roper v. Simmons (2005), it prohibited executing anyone under 18 at the time the crime was committed. In Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008), it extended its 1977 Coker v. Georgia ruling that held capital punishment for adult rape to include children.

 

Nonetheless, America's death penalty system changed little since Gregg, empowering states to use it. Citing pro and con arguments, he "return(ed) to the theme of Furman" that struck down capital punishment nationally, the Court concerned that sentences were handed down capriciously, arbitrarily and unfairly.

 

Yale Law School Professor Charles Black, in his book "Capital Punishment, The Inevitability of Caprice and Mistake" called capital punishment fatally flawed, saying:

 

There are some "hanging prosecutors, hanging juries, hanging judges, and hanging governors. But, overwhelmingly, the trouble is not in the people but in the system - or nonsystem."

 

From his own bench experience, Fletcher expressed similar concerns, citing Kevin Cooper's case as one example. On May 11, 2009, he was among eight dissenters on a 27 US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel voicing opposition to his guilt, saying in a joint statement:

 

"There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing and flouted our direction to perform" the proper tests. It "also impeded and obstructed Cooper's attorneys at every turn as they sought to develop the record." Unreasonable testing conditions were imposed, as well as "refused discovery that should have been available as a matter of course, limited testimony that should not have been limited, and found fact unreasonably, based on truncated and distorted record."

 

"The most egregious, but by no means the only, example is the testing of Cooper's blood on the t-shirt for the presence of EDTA. (The district court) so interfered with the design of the testing protocol that one of Cooper's experts refused to participate in the testing. (It let) the state-designated representatives (choose) samples to be tested." Cooper's experts were refused the right to participate in choosing samples or "even to see the t-shirt."

 

Yet the test result showed "an extremely high level of EDTA in the sample that was supposed to contain Cooper's blood. If that test result was valid, it showed that Cooper's blood had been planted on the t-shirt, just as Cooper maintained."

 

Fletcher knows that Cooper, a Black man, was bogusly convicted and imprisoned for a multiple homicide he didn't commit. Yet since June 1983, he's been incarcerated and is now on death row at San Quentin State Prison, CA, a victim of American injustice.

 

In his lecture, Fletcher called the police investigation "horrible in many ways, saying "in my view" he's innocent "because the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department framed him." In America's criminal injustice system, it happens repeatedly, mostly affecting poor Blacks and Latinos.

 

University of Denver Professor Sam Kamin studied California Supreme Court decisions from 1976 - 1986 (a liberal period under Chief Justice Rose Bird). He learned that the Court found constitutional errors in 60% of capital cases it reviewed, 70% of which were "non-harmless," resulting in an overall 42% reversal rate.

 

He then studied the 1986 - 1996 period (under Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas), when the constitutional error percentage was 55%. The Court, however, ruled most of them harmless, reversing only 4% of cases overall. As a result, nearly all innocent victims were denied justice, Fletcher believing the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) was a key reason why, saying:

 

"If you have been wondering why Kevin Cooper is still on death row, a significant part of the answer is AEDPA," adding, "Fifty years ago, a clemency plea to a governor in a capital case meant something. Governors took seriously their responsibility to decide whether a death sentence should be carried out."

 

In recent decades, notably post-9/11, "clemency pleas have been a useless exercise. Governors, sensing political vulnerability....almost never grant" it. Further, "we know that poverty and race make a difference." As a result, "racial minorities make up a disproportionate percentage of death row inmates."

 

"To state the most alarming problem, there is not only a chance that we have executed, and will execute, (innocent) people....There is a virtual certainty that we have done so, and if the system remains as it is, that we will do so in the future."

 

Under America's capital punishment system, consistency and evenhandedness aren't possible, or as Professor Black explained: The possibility of judicial fairness for accused minorities is as likely his "learn(ing) to speak decent Japanese by the end of the month."

 

In his separate Furman v. Georgia opinion (1972), Justice Thurgood Marshall said if ordinary people knew all the facts in capital cases, they'd find it "shocking to (their) conscience and sense of justice," and thus flatly unconstitutional.

 

Fletcher shares that view, adding:

 

"I think that sooner or later, probably not in my lifetime, but perhaps in some of yours, we will abolish the death penalty in this country. Perhaps, we, as a country, will eventually have seen enough" injustice, mostly affecting society's poor, disadvantaged, and unwanted, Kevin Cooper a notable example.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.


חדש: המהדורה הרביעית של המדריך לאנרכיסט

המהדורה הרביעית של המדריך לאנרכיסט יצאה לאור וניתנת לקריאה והורדה חינם באתר הבית של המדריך: איש חופשי על האדמה הקדושה. המהדורה הרביעית מכילה כתבות חדשות ובלעדיות לספר, אינסוף תיקוני עריכה ותוספות, נספח שאלות לשוטר, מהלכים חדשים בבית המשפט, טכנולוגיה משופרת, פרק גדול על הגשת בקשות בבית משפט ועוד. אם אתה רוצה לחוות צדק, אמת, חירות ושיווין בחייך, ספר זה הוא בדיוק הספר בשבילך. יש רק בעיה‬ ‫אחת! ביורוקרטים בכל מקום עושים את ההשגה של חזון זה לקשה או בלתי ניתן להשגה, אך ורק על‬ ‫סמך מקום הולדתך (“אזרחות”) והמקום בו אתה נמצא (“תושבות”).‬

Medical Care in Gaza (Part II)

 Medical Care in Gaza (Part II) - by Stephen Lendman

 

On March 25, 2008, Time magazine writer Tim McGirk headlined "Israelis Blocking Medical Care in Gaza," saying:

 

"Since Gaza is denied (most everything under siege), many complicated surgeries are no longer done there." Those permitted abroad for them, like Bassam al-Wahedi, endure a gauntlet through Israel's "security maze."

 

Entering Egypt through Erez Crossing, "(h)e fumbled along tunnels, steel doors that opened and slammed as he passed along, entered a strange cylinder that fired a whoosh of air at him before he finally reached a large hall with an Israeli soldier sitting inside a bulletproof glass booth."

 

He showed his permit for scheduled surgery that afternoon. "(T)hree plainclothed Israelis with pistols and walkie-talkies led him past cages with growling dogs to a room where he was strip searched and interrogated by a man who identified himself as a" Shin Bet captain.

 

He pressured al-Wahedi to spy for Israel, saying his permit would be cancelled if he refused. "He wanted me to go back to Gaza and collaborate for two weeks," al-Wahedi explained, "and if they liked what I did, I could come to Israel and have my eye operation with the best doctor in Tel Aviv."

 

Angry and frustrated, he refused. "Contacted by Time, Shin Bet denied approaching (him) to collaborate, (saying he was sent back) because of his involvement in 'activities dangerous to the state.' " 

 

Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR - I) believes everyone "has the right to health in its widest possible sense, as defined by the principles of human rights, social justice and medical ethics."

 

As a occupying power, international law obligates Israel to provide and/or do nothing to obstruct it. PHR-I explained at the time that Shin Bet denied dozens of other patients vital care for refusing to collaborate. One with severe heart trouble, in fact, was told to "go back and die in Gaza." It's common practice, but Israel denies it. 

 

PHR-I petitioned Israel's High Court of Justice for redress to no avail, its director Miri Weingarten saying, "What we're seeing is that (it's) willing to intervene less and less in (alleged) security cases."

 

PHR-I's earlier report titled, "Obstacles Facing Gaza Patients in Need of Medical Care" explains what they endure, accessed through the following link:

 

http://www.phr.org.il/uploaded/HolimAzaEng_a.pdf

 

Under siege, Gazans struggle daily to survive, especially when needing medical care that may or may not be available. For Israelis, it's simple. "Schedule an appointment. See a doctor. Get treated."

 

Gazans, however, face numerous obstacles, including forcing them "to opt out of treatment altogether" because hospitals or other medical facilities can't provide it.

 

PHR-I helps about 100 patients a month get vital care otherwise not accessible, but never easily given the impediments Israel imposes. In fact, its repressive occupation undermines the health and welfare of all Palestinians, especially isolated Gazans under siege.

 

Referral for Treatment Abroad

 

Gazan doctors unable to provide treatment refer patients abroad. The medical unit head and hospital director must then authorize it. Unavailable care is especially lacking in oncology, cardiology, orthopedics, and ophthalmology, as well as for any severe health problem for lack of proper equipment, drugs or trained staff.

 

Palestinian Bureaucracy Required by Israel

 

A Gaza medical committee must first approve referrals abroad, as explained above. It's first sent to the Ramallah Palestinian Ministry of Health for financial coverage approval. Patients must then submit proper papers to the Gaza Palestinian Ministry of Health to schedule an appointment in an Israeli or Palestinian hospital. On average, the process takes 7 - 10 days without hitches.

 

Submitting an Entry Permit Application

 

Comprised of an authorized referral, financial coverage approval, and scheduled exam date, patients must submit entry requests to the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee - the Palestinian Health Coordinator appointed by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

 

Coordinating between Palestine and Israel, everything pertaining to healthcare must go through him or her with exclusive authority to handle all applications for Gazans. "In his absence, patients encounter great difficulties, often missing appointments and access to timely medical treatment."

 

Israel Decides Who Exits and Who Doesn't Regardless of Need

 

Palestine's Health Coordinator submits patient entry permit applications to the District Coordination Office (DCO), a division of Israel's military. After reviewing them, DCO sends them to General Security Service (GSS) authorities for security clearance. Some get permission. Others don't, but the process takes time, too much, in fact, in emergency situations.

 

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

 

Gazans submitting permit applications are interrogated at Erez Crossing, as explained above. However, the process is so degrading, intimidating, and unacceptable that some don't show up, losing their right to vital care.

 

Pressure, Threats, and Extortion of Patients During Interrogations

 

After arriving as scheduled, hours can pass before interrogations begin. As explained above, Gazans are pressured to cooperate for treatment, though some, in fact, refuse and get it anyway. Many, however, must either collaborate and risk their lives at home, or refuse and be denied vital care.

 

Resubmitting Applications

 

When interrogations are scheduled after appointment dates, the process starts over, requiring weeks more waiting even when urgent treatment is needed.

 

Erez Crossing Security Examinations

 

Gazans approved for passage are assigned an exit date. Even those weak or extremely ill must walk about a kilometer on their own inside Erez, then pass through an additional security exam and more. They still must receive final approval. Even critically ill patients must wait hours to pass.

 

In 2009, 7,534 Gazans applied for permit permission to cross Erez. Applications for 5,211 (69%) were approved, the other 2,300 (31%) denied or delayed, causing patients to miss appointments. From January - March 2010, 3,089 applied for entry. Applications for 2,392 (77%) were approved, the other 697 (23%) denied or delayed.

 

However, for those approved, the process just began, followed by a lengthy, time-consuming gauntlet of hardships, denying care for many for not spying on for Israel as the price for vital treatment.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Medical Care in Gaza Under Siege

 Medical Care in Gaza Under Siege - by Stephen Lendman

 

Under siege, Israel continues to strangle Gaza. Poverty and unemployment are extremely high. Over 70% of the population requires humanitarian aid. Virtually everything is in short supply. Except for minimal amounts of some fruits, vegetables and flowers, exports are prohibited. Israel prevents access by sea and air. It's blockade is illegal but persists because Western powers and regional neighbors allow it.

 

Egypt's recent Rafah Crossing opening falls short of meeting Gaza's needs. On June 16, Gaza Gateway listed 10 reason why:

 

Crossings to Egypt remain limited, several hundred daily while 10,000 wish to travel. Moreover, it's for designated people only, not goods. Those allowed enter through Kerem Shalom Crossing.

 

The situation on both sides of the border is uncertain and unstable, including whether or not the opening will continue and under what conditions.

 

Rafah doesn't enable travel or movement of goods to the West Bank. Moreover, Gaza ID holders can't enter through Jordan.

 

As explained above, most exports are prohibited.

 

Except for approved international organization projects, importing construction materials is prohibited.

 

Gazans needing unavailable medical care, are restricted in getting it in Egypt, the West Bank or East Jerusalem. Moreover, many can't make a long trip.

 

It's deeply troubling because Gaza's hospitals and other medical facilities are running out of medications and vital supplies, requiring cancellations or postponement of dozens of needed surgeries and other treatment. In fact, medications and other medical necessities haven't been supplied since February.

 

According to Gaza's Ministry of Health, 178 medications and 123 categories of medical supplies are exhausted. Moreover, 69 other medications and 70 types of supplies will run out in three months.

 

As a result, emergency measures have been taken, including canceling or suspending pediatric, ophthalmological, cardiac catheterization, endoscopic, urological, orthopedic, and other surgeries, as well as dental care, outpatient services, primary care, lab tests, medical imaging, children's and women's services, occupational health, and more.

 

In fact, a growing crisis threatens all Gazans needing care. Hospitals and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) report growing shortages and unavailability of many medications and supplies for ICUs, premature infant nurseries, operating rooms, anesthesia and recovery, emergency facilities, cardiac catheterization, hematology, oncology, nephritic diseases, and pediatrics.

 

Gaza City's Ophthalmology Hospital director said eight surgeries in the past two days were postponed and others suspended for months. On June 12, Ramallah's Ministry of Health Public Relations and Information Department Director-General, Dr. Omar al-Nasser, said the Egyptian Medical Association would supply 19 vital medications soon. 

 

He also said arrangements would be coordinated with Israel to provide other medications and supplies from its own Ramallah and Nablus warehouses shortly, including 81 medications, surgical tools, and 130 other items.

 

Under siege, conditions are very uncertain with no assurance Israel or Egypt will accommodate vital needs, including life or death ones.

 

A Final Comment

 

On June 14, Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), committed to Palestinian liberation, emailed followers an update on Freedom Flotilla II, a 15 ship convoy with over 1,500 activists sailing in late June to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

 

"Unfortunately and incredibly," she said, "Israel is threatening to" interdict it with "even greater violence" than against Freedom Flotilla I in May 2010, slaughtering nine or more activists and injuring dozens more.

 

This time "Israel's threats include the use of snipers and canine units. Even more deplorable, world leaders, rather than demanding that Israel halt its provocative behavior towards us and refrain from again attacking unarmed civilians, have called the Flotilla initiative a provocation and have asked countries....to prevent us from sailing."

 

Nonetheless, "(w)e are determined to sail to Gaza. Our cause is just and our means are transparent. (We present no) imminent threat to Israel nor do we aim to contribute to (an anti-Israeli) war....thus eliminating any claim by Israel to self-defense....We will - and must - continue to sail until the illegal blockade....is ended and Palestinians have the same human and national rights those of us sailing enjoy."

 

Four supportive women Nobel Peace laureates, including Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum, sent UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon an open letter asking him to:

 

"support the people of Gaza with two key actions. First, by appointing a representative to inspect and seal the cargo of the (flotilla's) boats," providing proof it contains humanitarian supplies, and to "call on all governments to support the (flotilla's) safe passage...."

 

Sadly, Ban is an imperial tool, serving Western/Israeli interests. As a result, he'll do more to discourage the initiative than support it.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

2010 State Department Human Rights Report on Bahrain

 2010 US State Department Human Rights Report on Bahrain - by Stephen Lendman

 

In April, 19 human rights organizations condemned Bahrain as one of the world's leading terror states, the Al Khalifa monarchy having lost all legitimacy.

 

In a joint press release, they said:

 

The undersigned "severely condemn the authorities' crackdown on prominent human rights defenders Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain. We are gravely concerned for the safety and well-being of both human rights defenders who are being targeted for their human rights work."

 

Both were lawlessly arrested, beaten, detained, and brutally tortured as were hundreds of others for supporting democracy, human rights and equal justice.

 

On June 6, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) denounced Bahraini authorities for brutally repressing protesters, demanding an immediate end to violence. So far, they said, international community silence reflects complicity in horrendous crimes against humanity.

 

As a result, both organizations called on UN Human Rights Council members "to take immediate action by adopting a strong resolution condemning" government attacks on civil society.

 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Bahraini violence "no accident," saying:

 

Since mid-March (actually since mid-February and earlier), "state security forces (as well as Saudi ones) brutally quashed the largely peaceful protests for democratic reforms that began a month earlier, shooting to death a score of people. Since then, the government has conducted (a reign of terror) to punish all manner of pro-democracy activism, a situation (Washington) has yet to unequivocally condemn" publicly.

 

Amnesty International (AI) condemned Bahrain's excessive force, killings, mass arrests, detentions, and torture, including beatings, electro-shocks, threatened rape, as well as other abuses to extract forced confessions despite no crimes committed.

 

Police state show trials are being held. Those affected are guilty by accusation. On June 12, student/poet Ayat al-Qarmezi was sentenced to one year in prison for publicly reading a poem criticizing the regime. In detention, she was brutally tortured, AI's Malcolm Smart saying: 

 

"By locking up a female poet merely for expressing her views in public, Bahrain's authorities are demonstrating how free speech and assembly are brutally denied to ordinary Bahrainis."

 

Her message included:

 

"We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery. Don't you hear their cries, don't you hear their screams?"

 

On March 30, she was forced to submit to arrest after masked police raided her parents home repeatedly, threatening to kill her brothers if she resisted. Brutalized ever since and now convicted, she, like other prisoners of conscience, face hard time confinement very likely including more torture and abuse.

 

On June 12, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said at least two former Shia MPs (who resigned in protest against police state lawlessness) went on trial Sunday. Matar Matar and Jawad Fairooz were charged with "spreading malicious lies in an attempt to overthrow the government" Information Affairs Authority official Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Murarak announced. Both men, of course, pleaded not guilty.

 

On June 12, the UK based Morning Star said:

 

"Bahrain received over $200 million in military equipment from US companies in the 12 months from October 2009....It was more than double the $89 million approved over the previous US financial year."

 

Washington actively supports Bahrain's repression. Weapons, munitions and other military equipment have been used to murder nonviolent Bahrainis protesting for their democratic rights. Information on this and much more is omitted in the report below.

 

So were recent comments by Rodney Shakespear, Chairman of the Committee against Torture in Bahrain, saying:

 

"I'm afraid that" Israel largely dictates US Middle East policy "which demands that the situation be as it is in respect of Bahrain....The facts on the ground are such that genocide is actually being committed." It's gotten so bad that security forces actually "beat up little girls."

 

"Something has happened. They are out to destroy a culture and yet apart from the torture and the physical effects and the genocide, the world is not standing up against this. And this, of course, it's because (Israel) controls all the media organizations," especially in America and Britain.

 

State Department Report on Bahrain

 

Each year, the State Department publishes human rights reports for over 190 countries, omitting a critical self-assessment of the world's leading human rights abuser.

 

Yet, in its recent "Report of the United States of America Submitted to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights In Conjunction with the Universal Periodic Review," it shamelessly said:

 

"The story of the United States of America is one guided by universal values shared the world over - that all are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights. (These) values have grounded our institutions and motivated the determination of our citizens to come ever closer to realizing these ideals."

 

We remain committed "to help build a world in which universal rights give strength and direction to the nations, partnerships, and institutions that can usher us toward a more perfect world (based on) a just peace (and) inherent rights and dignity of every individual."

 

In fact, America spurns human rights, civil liberties, peace, justice, and democratic values as the world's leading rogue state, lawlessly terrorizing millions, making the world safe for capital. Shameless rhetoric changes nothing, including downplaying the worst of Bahrain's human rights practices in its 2010 report.

 

Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

 

"There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings," despite clear evidence they occurred last year before the current uprisings began.

 

Politically motivated disappearances were also ignored.

 

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment of Punishment

 

Prohibited by Bahrain's constitution, "there were multiple allegations during the year (by human rights organizations and victims) that security forces employed them."

 

Authorities "asserted in December that" torture claims were investigated. "At year's end, neither the court nor the government had released the findings of any such investigation."

 

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

 

Authorities said "prison conditions met international standards." A March UN report, however, described 'suboptimal health conditions....' " Moreover, detainees "alleged" security personnel physically abused them, including withholding medical care.

 

"Authorities generally permitted inmates reasonable access to visitors and religious observance." In fact, political prisoners have no rights and face brutal torture and other abuse.

 

Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

 

Despite maintaining a hotline for citizens to report police abuses, Shia community members "believed the government condoned police misconduct and, therefore, did not report allegations of abuse. In practice, (temporary) investigation committees" responded to public complaints, but didn't issue reports on their findings, suggesting serious abuses were whitewashed.

 

Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention

 

From August through December, authorities arrested about 200 men, including children. Human rights groups accused them of abuse and torture in detention. Show trials followed. Attorneys prevented from meeting with detainees withdrew in protest in December. New lawyers were appointed. At year's end, cases were unresolved. 

 

"Human rights activists and attorneys alleged that the detainees' right to a fair, public trial was undermined by (their clients') limited access to legal counsel and the presiding judge's failure to rule on the defense attorneys' requests."

 

Political Prisoners and Detainees

 

Human rights organizations "alleged that some of those arrested on security changes....were targeted (for) their political activism."

 

Throughout the report, the State Department stressed that Bahrain's constitution prohibits abusive practices authorities, in fact, commit. At the same time, it summarized harsh conditions Bahrainis face, including:

 

"Citizens did not have the right to change their government. Trafficking in persons and restrictions on the rights of foreign resident workers continued to be significant problems. There were numerous reports of abuse against foreign workers, particularly female domestic workers. There were many reports of domestic violence against women and children. Discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, nationality, and sect, especially against the Shia majority population, persisted."

 

"There were multiple allegations of mistreatment and torture, especially of Shia activists associated with rejectionist and opposition groups. Authorities arbitrarily arrested activists, journalists, and other citizens and detained some individuals incommunicado. Some detainees did not always have adequate access to their attorneys. At least two of the detainees were dismissed from their public sector jobs prior to the commencement of judicial proceedings."

 

"The government restricted civil liberties, including freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and some religious practices. There were instances of the government imposing and enforcing official and unofficial travel bans on political activists. The Shia are underrepresented in positions of leadership in the civil service, police, and security forces."

 

Despite constitutionally affirming freedom of speech and the press, national security laws limit or suppress them. "Both censorship and self-censorship took place."

 

The Information Authority reviews all books and publications prior to issuing printing licenses. While nominally respecting Internet freedom, draconian restrictions apply, including prohibiting information critical of the government as well as banning opposition web sites.

 

In addition, online activities are monitored and blocked in cases considered to be anti-government or anti-Islamic. Academic freedom, peaceful assembly and association are also compromised in violation of constitutional provisions. In fact, Bahraini freedom and basic rights are nonstarters except for the privileged few. 

 

Those speaking out against repression face severe recrimination, arrest, detention, torture, and show trial justice automatically convicting those charged by accusation.

 

Anyone may be detained indefinitely, denied access to legal counsel and family members, and tortured to sign forced confessions used to convict.

 

Moreover, King Hamad appoints judges. Jury trials are denied. Authorities control the major media. Opposition publications and web sites are threatened. Print and online journalists face stiff fines and imprisonment for criticizing official policies. Public demonstrations are prohibited without official permission. Human rights organizations are harassed. 

 

Workers have few rights. No minimum wage exists. Rights to form unions, collectively bargain, and strike are severely limited, majority foreign workers denied them entirely. Some, in fact, face forced labor, their passbooks and wages withheld, as well as their movements restricted. Instances of child trafficking for domestic service and sexual exploitation have also been reported.

 

Sunnis dominate Bahraini politics. Majority Shias face widespread discrimination. Women overall are marginalized in a male dominated culture. Spousal and child abuse are common.

 

While detailing widespread lawless abuses, especially against majority Shias, the State Department's report stresses rights included in Bahrain's constitution without condemning authorities for systematically denying them or explaining severe repression against anyone challenging monarchal rule.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

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