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Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »


U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

Huffington Post July 1, 2013 By Mark Gongloff Big, profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of less than 13 percent in 2010, according to a new study — or More »

jeff olsen

Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

NBC San Diego July 1, 2013 By Christina London The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges. A jury returned its More »


The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

Category Archives: repression

Bahraini court confirms jail terms for medics who aided protesters


Oct. 1, 2012

Bahrain’s top court confirmed the jail sentences of nine doctors for their role in last year’s pro-democracy protests, state news agency BNA reported. The medics will be imprisoned for up to five years.

­On Monday, Attorney General Abdul-Rahman al-Sayed said the country’s Court of Cassation rejected all of the defendants’ appeals and upheld the verdicts, BNA said.

The nine medics were among the twenty individuals tried by a Bahraini military tribunal in September 2011. The tribunal charged the doctors with felonies for their role in the February protests, which included treating antigovernment activists wounded by security forces and reporting those injuries to foreign media. Some of the medics also participated in the protests.

Occupy Wall Street protesters: Protect them, recognize human rights begin at home


Washington Post
Sept. 17, 2012

The police crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement, since its beginning one- year ago today on Sept. 17, 2011, undermines core American values of freedom in the eyes of the world.

Particularly now, when extremist religious rhetoric is being used (and abused) to spark anti-American demonstrations around the world, this is an especially important time for the practice of respect for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, freedoms that are indispensable to the freedom of religion and the practice of democracy, to be on display in the United States.

Instead, what the world is seeing is photos of arrests of Occupy protesters as they attempt to take their message of Wall Street’s responsibility for the nation’s economic meltdown to the streets once again and call for policies that support economic equality and fairness.

Suppressing the message of Occupy Wall Street is wrong on many levels, both political and religious. It is anti-democratic, and also, in my view as a Christian pastor and teacher, in contradiction to the message at the center of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth of caring for the poor, and rejecting violence.

FBI raids homes of Occupy protesters in Oregon and Washington

Aug. 13, 2012
By Tom Carter

Over the last month, heavily armed “domestic terrorism” units of the FBI used battering rams and stun grenades to conduct early-morning raids on the homes of political protesters in Seattle and Olympia, Washington and Portland, Oregon. On July 25, three homes were raided in Portland alone and, since July 10, as many as six homes have been raided.

These raids are only the latest in an emerging pattern of similar raids conducted by the Obama administration in order to terrorize, suppress and chill political dissent, in flagrant violation of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

“The warrants are sealed,” FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele told the Oregonian newspaper, “and I anticipate they will remain sealed.” Steele described the raids as part of an “ongoing violent crime” investigation, which is related to the recent Occupy May Day protests, during which a number of minor acts of vandalism allegedly took place.

At 6:00 a.m. on July 25, Dennison Williams was asleep in his Portland home when FBI agents smashed down his door without warning with a battering ram and threw flash or stun grenades into the building. FBI agents armed with assault rifles then stormed into Williams’ bedroom, pointed their rifles at him while they handcuffed him, and forced him to sit in a chair for a half an hour without pants on while they searched his apartment.

Williams, a 33-year-old self-described anarchist who helped run an information booth at recent protests and events, reported that FBI agents boxed up and removed his laptop computer, political literature, his cell phone, thumb drives, and various pieces of clothing bearing political slogans.

Neighbors described yelling and multiple loud bangs and saw swarms of agents in body armor using a battering ram against the front door of Williams’ home. Similarly disproportionate displays of force and violence were involved in the other raids.

According to the Oregonian, a search warrant was left behind during one of the raids (available here). The warrant indicates that the agents were seeking, among other items, “anti-government or anarchist literature or material” and “documentation and communications related to the offenses, including but not limited to notes, diagrams, letters, diary and journal entries, address books, and other documentation in written or electronic form.”

In one of the raids, eyewitnesses reported as many as 80 agents in body armor, wearing military fatigues, and armed with assault rifles participating in the raid. No arrests were made in any of the raids, but as many as six protesters have been subpoenaed to appear before grand juries.

Two of the subpoenaed protesters, Williams and Leah Plante, 24, read a statement outside the courthouse on August 1: “This grand jury is a tool of political repression. It is attempting to turn individuals against each other by coercing those subpoenaed to testify against their communities. The secret nature of grand jury proceedings creates mistrust and can undermine solidarity. And imprisoning us takes us from our loved ones and our responsibilities.”

Williams and Plante declared their intentions to refuse to answer questions on the basis of their constitutional rights.

The “Pure Pop” record store, where Ms. Plante worked, issued a statement on its web site: “We at Pure Pop are unaware of the specifics of Leah’s current legal troubles but in her time at Pure Pop Records she demonstrated high character and integrity. We wish her luck, safety and perseverance.”

While the World Socialist Web Site has fundamental political differences with the various anarchist elements active in the Occupy protests, we unreservedly defend the democratic rights of these groups and individuals, and we demand an end to the campaign of intimidation and repression against them.

This is not the first of such raids that has been carried out by the Obama administration. In September 2010, the administration ordered raids on the homes of leaders of the Anti-War Committee (AWC) and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) in Minneapolis and Chicago, and subpoenaed 23 people to testify before grand juries.

The Minneapolis and Chicago raids were similar in form to the recent raids in Oregon and Washington: doors smashed in without warning by agents with assault rifles and body armor, inhabitants terrorized, and property scooped up and confiscated. The Obama administration justified raids using the “material support for terrorism” provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.

In the period leading up to the recent NATO protests in Chicago in May, similar trumped-up “terror” charges were leveled against three young anti-war protesters. Also in May, five young men described as “anarchists” were ensnared in a so-called “terrorist plot” in Cleveland, Ohio.

The question arises whether the recent FBI raids in Oregon and Washington were prepared by undercover police infiltration of groups around the Occupy May Day protests earlier in the year. In the cases of the Minneapolis and Chicago raids in 2010, at least one undercover FBI spy active in preparing the raids was subsequently exposed. (See “FBI infiltrator prepared government raid on antiwar groups in Minneapolis and Chicago”) The “terror plots” in Chicago and Cleveland also involved undercover provocateurs, who convinced the protesters to carry out the plot and even supplied them with dummy equipment to carry it out. (See “Chicago police frame antiwar activists on ‘terrorism’ charges” and “FBI provocateur ensnares Cleveland protesters in ‘bomb plot’”)

The gravity and seriousness of the Obama administration’s issuance of warrants to search homes for “anti-government literature or material” cannot be understated. It suggests that possession of such literature is now being considered evidence of criminal activity or “terrorism.”

Full Article Here – http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/aug2012/fbir-a13.shtml

Tibetan sets himself alight in China: group

Aug. 6, 2012

A Tibetan man in southwest China set himself on fire Monday, the latest in a series of shocking protests against Chinese rule, an overseas human rights group said.

The man set himself alight along the main street of Ngaba which sits on the Tibet plateau in a Tibetan-inhabited area of China’s Sichuan province, the London-based Free Tibet said in a statement.

Local government officials in the town, known as Aba in Chinese, were not immediately available for comment.

Security personnel quickly extinguished the flames and took the man away in a security vehicle, the statement said.

He was believed to be still alive, although his upper body was badly burned, it added.

More than 40 people have set themselves on fire in recent months in Tibetan-inhabited areas of China in protest at repressive government policies, the group said, with most incidents linked to monks or former monks of Aba’s Kirti monastery.

Tibetans have long chafed under China’s rule over the vast Himalayan region, charging that Beijing has curbed religious freedoms and their culture is being eroded by an influx of Han Chinese, the country’s main ethnic group.

Beijing, however, says Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and have benefited from improved living standards brought on by China’s economic expansion.

“As the world’s media focuses on the discipline of Chinese athletes, Chinese state repression is driving Tibetans to set fire to themselves under a media blackout,” said Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden.

“China is competing in the Olympic Games despite having broken every commitment on human rights made during its bid for the 2008 Games.”

Full Article Here – http://ca.news.yahoo.com/tibetan-sets-himself-alight-china-group-183823932.html

Egyptian Activists Demand an End to Military Trials for Civilians

New York Times
June 6, 2012

When Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, promised last week that he would work to free Egyptians subjected to unjust detention, most of the world’s news media focused on the one prisoner he mentioned by name: Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric who was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to bomb five New York City sites.

Inside Egypt, however, activists are more concerned about the plight of thousands of civilians who were sentenced to prison terms by military courts during the period of direct rule by the Egyptian Army that began with last year’s revolution.

As the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported this week, Mr. Morsi ordered a committee of officials from the military and civilian judicial systems to start reviewing the cases of those civilians still being held in military prisons. Activists leading the No Military Trials for Civilians campaign told Reuters that at least 8,000 Egyptians who were arrested by the army since the revolution remain in detention.

Despite Mr. Morsi’s promise, a group of civilians detained by the military after soldiers broke up a sit-in outside the defense ministry in Cairo’s Abbaseya Square in May were referred to a military court for prosecution this week.

One of the founders of the No Military Trials group, Mona Seif, explained in a recent video report on her work that she first became aware of the problem in February of last year, when she witnessed the arrest of a fellow protester, Amr Abdallah Al-Biheiry, two weeks after Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president.

As the BBC reported at the time, when Mr. Biheiry’s family went to visit him in custody days later, they discovered that he had already been sentenced to five years in prison after a three-minute trial before a military court, which no lawyers or witnesses had been allowed to attend.

In an interview with The Lede in Cairo last weekend, another leader of the No Military Trials campaign, Noor Ayman Noor, explained that most of those detained by the army were not protesters. Many working-class Egyptians, labeled baltageya, or thugs, by the arresting officers, were swept up, Mr. Noor said, when soldiers ill-equipped for law enforcement duties were ordered to restore security.

Full Article Here – http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/egyptian-activists-demand-an-end-to-military-trials-for-civilians/

Bahrain Government Must Not Arrest and Detain Convicted Medics

July 2, 2012
By Megan Prock

PHR called today for the Government of Bahrain to set aside the recent convictions of 11 medics. Four of the 11 medics that were convicted of participating in and supporting unlicensed protests and rallies currently face arrest and detention.

“These medics must not be returned to jail. Given that many of the medics were tortured while in detention, they should be allowed to stay home during the appeal and should not face any additional jail time,” said Richard Sollom, Deputy Director of PHR.

PHR has continually challenged the legitimacy of the charges against the medics.

“We believe the Kingdom of Bahrain still has time to act before the doctors are arrested and taken to prison,” said Hans Hogrefe, Chief Policy Officer at PHR. “In the past, leading medical organizations have called for the release of the doctors. Today we again call on the voices of medical professionals worldwide to urge the Government of Bahrain to set aside the verdicts and not carry out the sentences.”

Full Article Here – http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/press/press-releases/bahrain-government-must-not-arrest-and-detain-convicted-medics.html

First time: U.N. puts Canada on human rights watchlist over Quebec demo law

UN Watch
June 17, 2012

GENEVA, June 17 – Canada will be put in the company of some of the world’s worst abusers of human rights tomorrow when the UN’s highest human rights official expresses “alarm” over Quebec’s new law on demonstrations during her opening address to a meeting of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, revealed the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch, which obtained an advance copy of her speech. Other states on the UN watchlist include Syria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

“Moves to restrict freedom of assembly continue to alarm me, as is the case in the province of Quebec in Canada in the context of students’ protests,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will say tomorrow, according to her draft speech.

The rights czar reserves her sharpest language for Canada. While Pillay cites only two other countries in the world for restrictions on freedom of assembly—expressing “concern” about Russia, and “deep concern” for Eritrea—only Canada provokes her far stronger “alarm.”

Some human right experts questioned Pillay’s judgment and sense of proportion in turning an unprecedented spotlight on a country generally considered as one of the world’s most free and democratic.

“While Canada is certainly fair game for criticism,” said Hillel Neuer, the Montreal-born lawyer who directs UN Watch, “for Pillay to divert the world’s attention to what in a global context is an absolutely marginal case—a law already under before the chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court, and which appears far less demanding than the Swiss laws regulating the human rights rallies we hold in front of her own building—is simply absurd.”

“Indeed a veteran Tibet activist expressed shock today that the UN commissioner’s speech, ostensibly about situations requiring the world’s attention, spends time on Canada while saying nothing about China, a dictatorship that systematically represses and brutalizes Buddhist monks and millions more,” said Neuer. “When a prosecutor goes after jaywalkers while allowing rapists and murderers to roam free, that’s not only illogical, but immoral.”

Full Article Here – http://www.unwatch.org/cms.asp?id=3235583&campaign_id=65378  

“Hundreds detained” in Tibet after self-immolations

May 31, 2012

BEIJING (Reuters) – Hundreds of Tibetans in Lhasa have been detained by Chinese security officers after two self-immolation protests against Chinese rule over Tibet, a U.S.-broadcaster said, stoking concerns of spreading unrest among Tibetans in China.

On Sunday, two Tibetan men set themselves on fire in Lhasa, state news agency Xinhua said, the first time in four years of a major Tibetan protest against Chinese rule. One of the men died.

China has branded the self-immolators “terrorists” and criminals and has blamed exiled Tibetans and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for inciting them.

At least 35 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011 in protest against China’s six-decade rule over Tibet, according to Tibetan rights groups. At least 27 have died.

Late on Wednesday, Radio Free Asia cited a source as estimating that about 600 Tibetans had been detained since the Sunday’s protests in Lhasa. The number could not be independently confirmed because foreign journalists are barred from entering Tibet.
Hao Peng, deputy party secretary in the Tibet Autonomous Region, has urged authorities to tighten their grip on the Internet and mobile text messaging, reflecting government fears about unrest during 
a month-long Buddhist festival which started last week.
The move is the latest in a series of measures the government says are intended to maintain stability.
Hao Peng stressed that…the trouble caused by the activities of the Dalai clique has persisted, and the situation for stability maintenance is still complicated and grim,” the official Tibet Daily newspaper reported.
The detentions come amid news that a Tibetan woman had set herself ablaze on Wednesday afternoon in Aba prefecture in southwestern Sichuan province, according to Tibetan advocacy group Free Tibet and Radio Free Asia.

Youth protest former Mexican ruling party’s rise

May 20, 2012
By Noe Torres and Mica Rosenberg

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Thousands of demonstrators protested in Mexico City on Saturday against opposition presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, who is far ahead in polls and poised to lead the party that ruled Mexico for much of the 20th century back to power.
A contingent of mainly students, accompanied by groups of unionized workers and peasant farmers, held banners lambasting the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and its candidate, Pena Nieto.

“I have a brain, I won’t vote for the PRI,” one banner read.

Demonstrators also held signs accusing Pena Nieto of being unfairly favored by television companies and of having been corrupt and repressive as governor of Mexico State, a post he held from 2005 until 2011.

“I am not with any party, but I am sick of so much corruption,” said Eduardo Nolasco, a 22-year-old student.

“We are fed up of so many lies and of the hypocrisy of Pena Nieto and the media,” added Isabel 
Leyva, a 53 year-old house wife who was accompanied by her daughter, a student.

Police said there were more than 40,000 protesters at the demonstration.

Pena Nieto’s campaign team have vigorously denied accusations of corruption and say they have had no favoritism from TV media in the run-up to the July 1 election.

A telegenic 45-year old with a soap opera star wife, the PRI candidate also argues that his party has changed dramatically in the last decade.

The PRI held the Mexican presidency continuously from 1929 until 2000, during which time there were widespread accusations of vote rigging and violent crackdowns on protests.
It finally lost the presidency to the pro-business National Action Party, or PAN, a victory that was hailed as a triumph for democracy. The PAN held power in 2006 with the election of President Felipe Calderon.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/youth-protest-former-mexican-ruling-partys-rise-220003591.html

Human Rights Watch accuses Egyptian military of torture, beatings

Al Arabiya
May 19, 2012

Human Rights Watch accused Egypt’s military on Saturday of beating and torturing protesters arrested at a demonstration near the Defense Ministry on May 4, 2012.

Following interviews with victims and lawyers, the rights group announced that the military also failed to protect the protesters from attacks by armed groups in the demonstration that started in Cairo’s Abbasiyya neighborhood.

“The brutal beating of both men and women protesters shows that military officers have no sense of limits on what they can do,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The official law enforcement authorities may arrest people where there is evidence of wrongdoing, but it never has the right to beat and torture them.”

A protest against the Supreme Presidential Election Commission’s exclusion of Salafist candidate Hazem Abu Ismail in the presidential elections developed into violent clashes with military forces.

Citing witnesses and participants, the Human Rights Watch reported on May 2 that “several dozen armed men without uniforms began shooting rifles and pellet guns at protesters, killing nine protesters and bystanders.”

Adel Khattab told the rights group that he was arrested along with his friend when they were looking for a third friend and they were beating

“Military soldiers beat us all the way up the street, from the bridge to the hospital. They beat us with their sticks, kicked us, and punched us. At one point there were around 10 or 15 of them beating me. They put us into vans; there were around 25 or 28 of us in one van and there were women with us. I saw soldiers hit them.

“My head was bleeding and my clothes were ripped by the time they brought me after that to the military prosecutor. Then they moved us to Tora prison. When we arrived there we were given a “reception party” where three plainclothes prison officials beat us and whipped us with hoses,” Khattab said.

Full Article Here – http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/05/19/215149.html