Statement by Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO)
Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO) regrets the insults and the inappropriate treatment to which the lawyers are being exposed before the criminal courts by some members of court panels, which has reached levels that necessitate a strong stance by the Supreme Judiciary Council to restore the lawyers confidence in the judiciary System.
Many lawyers were thrown out of court halls. Among whom were lawyer Abdulla Zain ulddin, lawyer Mohsin Al-Alawi. Many were also insulted and stopped by policemen who outnumber judges and litigants in criminal courts.
Lawyers who are attempting to perform their duties and enter some courts are impeded by police through placing blocks that prevent movement from one court to another, or by locking the court doors after the judge enters, regardless of the fact that lawyers may go back and forth to the same court for more than an hour waiting for sessions to be held. What is worst is that lawyers are being constantly stopped and impeded by policemen when they move between various court halls. Police men go as far as using force to deny lawyers access to courts and even interfere to evict them from courts.
Most of lawyers in criminal courts has reached a high degree of desperation because they are unable to provide the minimum levels of defense guarantees and fair trials, especially as police and public prosecution are not allowing them to attend interrogations of political prisoners, and judges are refusing any serious defense or even listening to the prisoners, checking torture marks or even talking about torture or investigating it. Lawyers do not see any real desire on the part of judges to listen to their request, thereby rendering their job in defending prisoners in political cases to become a mere make – believe defense and a psychological support for the prisoners. Cases in which the accused are opposition supporters take several days or months before a verdict is issued.
It has also been noticed recently that various courts have reached a level that they openly protect prosecution witnesses (mainly policemen) against questioning by lawyers, and exceeding that, to answering for them or refraining from putting any questions to them. Lawyers have even learnt that prosecution witnesses are being allowed access to case files before being questioned thereby rendering the questioning of any security officer futile. This has created a conviction among lawyers that some judges have developed a negative attitude towards all political prisoners, and trials are being held hastily without complying with the simplest rules and articles of the Criminal Procedures Law, such as formally charging the accused, interrogating, allowing for their examination by a forensic doctor, interrogation of prosecution witnesses or displaying or examining the evidence or even listening to denial witnesses. Even written defense may not be submitted. It has been noticed that many political cases have been held for verdict without presentation of witnesses or written defense.
– Hussain Hubail’s medical reports show he needs a chance to go abroad for heart treatment. His mum is concerned about him being operated on in the military hospital. Hussain is in court on 16th March with Jassim al Nouaim.
– Jaffar Marhoon, cameraman, was moved to Jaw Prison as he has sentences in absentia – 3 months for illegal gathering, 6 months for illegal gathering, one year for illegal gathering & vandalism.)
Zapatistas: the wealth of dignity
On the 20th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising of 1st January 1994 we publish this article by Luis Hernández Navarro which illustrates the achievements of Zapatista autonomy. Thanks to Dorset Chiapas Solidarity.
In the community of Emiliano Zapata in the caracol Whirlwind of Our Words, 30 Zapatista families work collectively. They have in common a coffee plantation, vegetable gardens and about 350 head of cattle. Its inhabitants do not receive government support of any kind, but their standard of living is much better than that of the surrounding PRI-governed settlements.
In the community there is a small cooperative shop whose proceeds go to works that people need. There, as in all the other rebel regions, the cooperative’s resources are used to finance public works such as schools, hospitals, clinics, libraries or water pipes.
Throughout all the rebel territory, an autonomous system of well-being flourishes, based on a de facto land reform which prioritises the communal use of the lands and natural resources in collective work, as well as in the production of items for use, and fair trade practices in the international market.
In areas of Zapatista influence, they have been overthrowing the law of San Garabato [greed], which dictates that farmers must buy the goods they need at high prices and sell their products cheaply. It happens frequently that coyotes (abusive commercial intermediaries) find themselves forced to pay the rebel support bases higher prices for their crops, livestock and crafts than those offered to the residents who are not organised. The Zapatista cooperatives have acquired a veritable swarm of motor vehicles for moving and transporting their products.
In the rebel communities, an environmental awareness has also been developed. There agroecology is practiced and the use of chemical fertilizers has been banished. Work is done to protect the soil. There is a genuine and widespread concern for conserving forests and jungles.
As the authors of the book “Very Other Struggles (Luchas muy Otras): Zapatismo and Autonomy in the Indigenous Communities of Chiapas”, say: “the challenges of sustainability in community production highlight the tension between the need to survive within the existing socioeconomic scheme and the project to transform that scheme.” What emerges here is, rather than a Zapatista economic model, “an endogenous and diverse process of prioritising the communities as an alternative to submitting to the steamroller logic of transnational capital.”
In the 27 Zapatista municipalities, alcohol is not drunk and drugs are not grown. Justice is exercised without government intervention. Rather than punishment, the focus is put on the rehabilitation of the offender. Women have taken positions and responsibilities which they undertake infrequently in rural communities.
The network of common infrastructure in education, health, agro-ecology, justice and self-government, which the insurgents have built outside State institutions, functions according to its own logic, which is plural and diverse. The Zapatista communities have trained hundreds of education and health promoters and agricultural technicians, in accordance with their own culture and identity.
All this has been achieved because the Zapatistas govern themselves and defend themselves. They have constructed their autonomy without asking permission, in the midst of an ongoing counterinsurgency campaign. They resist continual harassment from 51 military bases and from welfare programmes which seek to divide the communities in resistance by offering them crumbs.
However, towards the end of this year a smear campaign was unleashed which asserts that none of this is true. Falsely, it claims that the Zapatistas are worse off today than they were 20 years ago, that they are destroying the environment and dividing communities. This is the latest episode in a dirty war as old as the uprising itself.
The slanders do not hold up. Hundreds of public testimonies demonstrate that the accusations against the rebels have nothing to do with the reality that the slanderers spread. For example, the painter Antonio Ortiz, Gritón, was in the community of Emiliano Zapata between 11th and 16th August this year, as part of the Zapatista escuelita, and documented his experience in a moving account that he put on Facebook. He was surprised to find that 30 indigenous families owned 350 head of cattle. He was part of a group of 1,700 people who attended the first Zapatista escuelita that month. …more
Solidarity with Zapatistas under attack
Pronouncement from the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network concerning the recent attacks on Zapatista support bases and hospital staff
To the Zapatista Support bases
To the Good Government Juntas
To the EZLN
To the adherents to the Sexta
To national and international human rights organisations
To the alternative media
To people of good heart in Mexico and the world
In our corner of the world in the United Kingdom we learned with outrage of the recent attacks on the Zapatista support bases (BAZ) of the community of 10 de Abril, autonomous municipality 17 de Noviembre, in the Caracol of Morelia, and on staff from the hospital of San Carlos in Altamirano who came to the assistance of those who had been injured during this attack.
We raise our voices to strongly condemn these repressive actions which are without doubt part of the ongoing counterinsurgency war being waged by the three levels of the bad government in Mexico against the dignified autonomy of the BAZ, who struggle every day for another world, one with democracy, freedom and justice.
The JBG Heart of the Rainbow of Hope has denounced that on the 30th January, 300 members of CIOAC democratic, from the nearby community of 20 de Noviembre, arrived in 18 pickup trucks and attacked the BAZ of 10 de Abril with sticks and stones. During this attack, three Zapatistas were seriously wounded, while two others on each side received minor injuries. A call for assistance was made to the hospital of San Carlos in Altimirano, but when an ambulance and a pickup truck arrived, the hospital staff, including two nuns, were cruelly assaulted by supporters of CIOAC, and prevented from attending to the injured, contrary to the Geneva Convention.
With the support and encouragement of the bad government these people have been trying since 2007 to seize the lands of the community of 10 de Abril, which were recuperated by the Zapatistas in 1994, and which have been worked by them ever since. These attacks have been worsening since last November. The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre warns us that “in the region there is an imminent possibility of new attacks and an intensification of the violence, which would be a risk to life and personal integrity, in addition to the violations of the right to territory and autonomy of the Zapatista peoples.” We therefore link our voices to the demands that the authorities of the federal, state and municipal governments:
· act to reduce tension in the conflict and to guarantee the security and integrity of those involved, given their responsibility to guarantee, respect and protect the human rights of the population that is located within their jurisdiction
· investigate and punish those responsible for the attacks. …more
Western Imperialism’s Creative Destruction in Syria
Finian CUNNINGHAM – 18 Februay, 2014 – Strategic Culture Foundation
US-led Western regime change in Syria might be described as a process of creative destruction. Like Schumpeter’s economic concept of cyclical creative destruction, so too Washington’s political machinations in Syria seem to be playing out likewise.
We begin with the premise that the humanitarian crisis in Syria over the past nearly three years is largely as a result of a Western covert proxy war inflicted on that country. The objective is to destabilize, terrorize and eventuate regime change in the Arab country…
The crisis afflicting Syria with over 130,000 dead and nearly nine million people displaced from their homes – nearly 40 per cent of the total population – would not be occurring if it were not for the infiltration of that country with massive flows of weapons, fighting funds and foreign mercenary brigades. US and NATO Special Forces, along with Western military intelligence, have worked with Saudi, Qatari, Jordanian, Israeli and Turk allies to foment this externally driven insurgency. All under the cover of an Arab Spring revolt.
The highly criminal process has attempted to destroy a sovereign country in order to create a new political order, one that is bereft of the existing political establishment under President Bashar Al Assad. This new order brought about by regime change would be amenable to Western interests in terms of Middle East politics and oil economics. In particular, the desired pro-Western regime would deny Russia, China and Iran of an important ally in the Mediterranean.
Western desire for regime change in Syria is well documented, according to American journalist Seymour Hersh, going back to at least 2007 when the George W Bush Presidency conceived of a plan to undermine the Syrian-Iranian resistance against Washington’s regional hegemony. Other historical studies argue that Western plans for regime change in Syria hark even further back to the 1950s when Dwight Eisenhower was US president.
Last year, former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that he was approached two years before the outbreak of latest conflict in Syria in March 2011 by British political figures, who told him of a plot to unseat the Syrian government.
So, our premise of Western regime change being the driver of conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria is on solid ground.
By contrast, the alternative premise of the events in Syria being the result of a «popular pro-democracy uprising against Assad» is a nebulous narrative emanating from Western governments and the Western mainstream media. That narrative does not stand up to scrutiny. A modified version to accommodate the contradiction that the «uprising» has become driven largely by Al Qaeda-linked brigades goes along the lines that the initial pro-democracy movement has somehow been «hijacked by extremists». But an objective study of the conflict shows that the extremists were always dominant, and that these extremists have been bankrolled, directed and armed by the US-led axis of NATO and regional allies from the outset.
The divergence of these narratives – one based on reality, the other based on propaganda to serve political interests – is reaching a watershed over the humanitarian issue of besieged Syrian cities. The main location currently in focus is the city of Homs, Syria’s third urban centre after the capital, Damascus, and the second city of Aleppo.
In total across Syria, there is reckoned to be some 250,000 civilians trapped in siege situations, according to the United Nations. The conditions for these civilians have deteriorated alarmingly with reports of starvation and privation from lack of basic utilities and medicines.
But which party is responsible for the sieges and the humanitarian suffering? Typically, the Western governments and the Western news media are blaming the Syrian authorities and army for imposing blockades. As with much of their narrative, there is scant factual evidence to support and it seems to rely on assertion and innuendo. …more