Human Rights

2011-10-14 Belgian secret police caught severely violating human rights #AgoraBRX #walktobrussels

Watch closely as a policeman in civilian clothing kicks an 18 year old girl in the face while handcuffed, in a clear violation of human rights agreements. Later he elbows her hard on the face, slamming her to the floor. This is only an extract of the full video, which will be published later

The march of the indignants arrived in Brussels on the 7th of October, after over two months of walking. Hundreds of protesters walked from Madrid, Paris and parts of Germany to the European parliament to demand a more participatory democracy and greater equality. Since arriving in Brussels the indignant movement has faced continued police repression and brutality. On October the 8th, 48 people were arrested while peacefully protesting in the central park. Yet authorities were unable to place any charges and all were released 12 hours later.

2011-08-17 If today is Wednesday and you are in #Belarus, join the protest! #europeanrevolution

First published in spanish at Written by Claudia Ciobanu.

Hundreds of young people in Belarus take the streets weekly, bonding through social networking sites. They are protesting against the lack of free speech and the iron fist of the regime.

At 7:00 pm every Wednesday, hundreds of citizens from Belarus applaud or make their cell phones ring simultaneously in the country’s main squares. It is the Revolution Through Social Networks movement, created nine weeks ago by a group of students. The phenomenon has grown in the Russian equivalent to Facebook, Vkontakte, creating a new threat to President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

2011-06-04 Peter Kemp's conversation with WACA: Australian perspectives on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Wikileaks Australian Citizens Alliance has kindly allowed us to share this series of videos, a conversation between myself, Sam and Kaz.

There was some difficulty with the software not behaving itself and the audio on my side was a bit patchy. We'll be working on future conversations where hopefully the use of Skype and glitches will be improved.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

WACA's Youtube user site here, with more videos well worth having a look.

As an Australian citizen I must say it is most pleasing that others like Sam and Kaz at WACA in Australia are so motivated to become involved online and elsewhere to carry a torch for human rights and Wikileaks. There are so many people around the world on the same page with us here at WLC.

WACA's site here.

Well done Sam and Kaz!

2011-05-09 Julian Burnside - Refugees: Now we have the Malaysian solution, but what's the problem?

Barrister and well known Australian refugee advocate Julian Burnside has kindly allowed Wikileaks Central to reprint his latest article on the refugee situation in Australia pertaining to the "Malaysian Solution" announced on 7th May 2011.

If Julia Gillard’s “Malaysian solution” tells us anything, it’s that Tony Abbott’s stop-the-boats mantra has redefined the debate on refugees.

The Prime Minister has previously committed to not doing any deals with countries that were not signatories of the United Nations refugee convention, such as Malaysia. So why has she done so now? Because Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has frightened her.

He has revived the bogeyman that former prime minister John Howard so skilfully exploited at the time of the Tampa incident and after it. He made sections of the public think that refugees are evil people who must be kept off our shores at all costs. They are actually deeply traumatised people who turn out, in most cases, to be ordinary, hardworking people fleeing persecution, but calling them “illegals” proved to be very effective at demonising them.

When Kevin Rudd became prime minister, the government’s stance on boat people changed significantly. Six months later, the government made sweeping changes to the use of detention and delivered 90% of what people like me were asking for. All of those advances were lost within weeks of Abbott taking over as opposition leader, because he started beating the drum about the evils of boat people coming here.

This new plan is crazy. We know Malaysia is not a signatory to the UNHCR convention. We know Malaysia has a bad track record in its treatment of asylum seekers. We do not know what protections are built into the MOU and we don’t know what it will cost Australia. We don’t know what it will cost us parking 800 refugees there or receiving the 4000 Burmese here.

2011-05-04 Doctors and Nurses on Trial in #Bahrain

WEDNESDAY, May 4, 2011

In an attempt to exterminate any form of opposition, Bahrain's two-century-old monarchy has targeting every segment of the population that showed or may have shown sympathy to the pro-democracy movement that hit the small gulf island in February.

From protesters, lawyers, teachers, and human right workers, to opposition leaders, bloggers, journalists, and medical staff. No one has escaped the regime's crackdown.

The regime has tortured, killed, and pronounced death sentences for four detainees. The four detainees had apparently 'confessed' the murder of 2 policemen under torture - torture that led to the death of one of them during custody.

During the protests in Manama, people were shot at with pellets, tear gas, nerve gas, and live ammunitions. Many of them sough medical care at Salmaniya Medical Center (SMC).

Hearing that wounded protesters were seeking medical assistance at SMC, security forces sieged the hospital, thus preventing anyone or anything from coming in or out, including ambulances.


Support calls for an international investigation into allegations of abuse in #Bahrain. VOTE in the BBC Arabic Poll.

Do you support calls for an international investigation into allegations of abuse in #Bahrain? VOTE! in the BBC Arabic Poll. In Arabic, here. In English, here.


2011-04-15 UPDATE Australian minister for immigration and citizenship responds to open letter regarding orphan from the Christmas Island boat tragedy


[2011-02-22 UPDATE The Catch 22 of Australian Immigration for child refugees like Seena]

The online investigative unit of ABC News Australia has obtained information of severe overcrowding at the refugee detention facility on Christmas Island. A planned capacity of 200 is now being utilised apparently now for some 522 inmates.

Almost half of the children currently held in immigration detention reached Australian shores without their parents.

In relation to those child refugees, it gets worse, as Immigration's internal decision making follows Joseph Heller's "Catch 22" logic almost to the letter:

A young applicant's prospects of being reunited with their parents is further limited by what is known as the 'time of decision rule'. This means that if a young person turns 18 prior to their own protection visa being approved, or their family members' visas being approved, their right to reunite with their parents under the split-family provision is lost.

Readers of "Catch 22" may recall that whenever those World War Two pilots got near the required number of missions to be sent home, Colonel Cathcart simply increased the number of missions required for all pilots.

The Immigration Department does not classify the parent of someone over 18 as 'a member of the immediate family' and therefore they are ineligible to apply under 'split-family' provisions.

2011-04-06 Hearing date set for Assange extradition appeal

The BBC first announced this morning that the High Court of England and Wales* has listed court dates of 12-13 July to hear Julian Assange's appeal against extradition from the UK to Sweden.

BBC reporter Dominic Hurst tweeted shortly after his first announcement that "Assange's appeal is against Judge Riddle's ruling that extradition to Sweden wouldn't breach his human rights," a summary repeated in this report from the Guardian.

Mark Stephens @markslarks, Assange's UK solicitor, then replied to a first question on Twitter from a WLC reporter: "dates correct. Detail wrong." When questioned further by another WLC reporter hoping for a lawyerly update, he tweeted: "will come when I return to the UK."

There is obviously some time for precising our understanding of what the appeal may entail. Parliamentary review of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is also expected in June [citation needed and welcomed].

* NB: Scotland's legal system has always been independent from that of England and Wales.

2011-04-04 Nigerian Elections: Candidates, as Previously Revealed in WikiLeaks Cables, Still Register to Vote Multiple Times

ImageNigerian elections that had been postponed until Monday, April 4th, have been postponed yet again by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is headed by Professor Attahiru Jega. From the INEC headquarters, the rescheduling was announced by Jega, who said since announcing the rescheduling several requests made to the Commission have urged it to consult more widely and ensure the two-day postponement addresses all logistical issues.

The Commission consulted with the Chairmen of all the political parties in Nigeria and decided the best thing to do would be to reschedule the already rescheduled elections. Thus, the elections, assuming no more logistical problems (corruption) get in the way, will be held on the following dates: Saturday, April 9, Senate and House of Representatives Elections; Saturday, April 16, Presidential Elections, Tuesday, April 26, State of House of Assembly and Governorship Elections.”

This announcement undoubtedly means a tense pre-election social and political climate that has already seen hundreds killed in what Amnesty International calls “politically-motivated, communal and sectarian violence” will continue to persist.

When held, this will be Nigeria’s third general election since military rule ended in 1999. The country has held two previous elections in 2003 and 2007. Both elections resulted in allegations of rigging, voter intimidation and ballot vote snatching.

2011-03-22 Ghosts of Allende & Pinochet Haunt Obama During Visit to Chile

ImageUS President Barack Obama, currently on a trip through Latin America, visited Chile yesterday to further expand trade relations and military and security cooperation between the two countries. He did not intend for his visit to be about the US’ history of interfering in Chile’s domestic affairs or, for that matter, human rights. But, the first question President Obama was asked was the following: Is the United States “willing to ask for forgiveness for what it did in those very difficult years in the ‘70s in Chile?”

President Obama answered, “I think it’s very important for all of us to know our history. And obviously the history of relations between the United States and Latin America have at times been extremely rocky and have at times been difficult.” But, “I think it’s important, though, for us, even as we understand our history and gain clarity about our history, that we’re not trapped by our history.”

Furthermore, President Obama said he could not “speak to all of the policies of the past” but could “speak certainly to the policies of the present and the future.” As he noted that the US has supported democratic reform in Chile for two decades, President Obama refused to acknowledge the true history of US relations with Chile, a history that involved supporting Gen. Augusto Pinochet in a CIA-backed coup in 1973.

President Obama may not want to get “trapped” in a discussion that leads him to have to take responsibility for the country, which he currently presides over, but files released between 1998 and 2003 show, according to investigative reporter Peter Kornbluh, “The US created a climate of a coup in Chile, a situation of chaos and agitation.”

2011-03-10 [UPDATE] UN confirms Mossad kidnaps Gaza’s chief power plant engineer, Dirar Abu Seesi, from Ukraine, suspects Ukrainian help

ImageAccording to the AP, the UN has confirmed that Israel's Mossad kidnapped Gaza's chief power plant engineer and illegally rendered him to an Israeli torture center and then prison, where he is currently held.

Maksim Butkevych, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ukraine, said the agency "suspects Israeli and perhaps Ukrainian security forces had a hand in his disappearance and imprisonment in Israel." (Source: AP)

"We don't know details of his trip from Ukraine to Israel — let's put it this way," said Butkevych. "But unfortunately, what happened looks like a violent abduction and not a legal extradition or any other legal action on the part of authorities." Both the Israeli and Ukrainian Foreign Ministries declined to comment on the U.N. allegations. (Source: AP)

2011-03-09 Cables: Why Million Women March in Egypt on International Women’s Day Was Disappointing

Stories of what happened as Egyptian women protested in Tahrir Square and called for equality and fairness in Egyptian society in honor of International Women’s Day are circulating. Female Egyptians hoped to have a million women march. Unfortunately, only a few hundred women came out to demonstrate and the action turned violent as men disrupted what should have been a peaceful day of celebration.

Christian Science Monitor reports men showed up and shouted, “Go wash clothes!” And said, “You are not married; go find a husband,” and “This is against Islam!” Men suggested women already have enough rights. They argued now was not the time to argue for rights.

Men decided women had been demonstrating for too long and violently scattered the women provoking the military to fire shots in the air. Sexual harassment, which many female Egyptians said during the uprising had disappeared, happened during the “melee.”

Cairo-based reporter and writer Ursula Lindsey reports one “48 year-old accountant” was "horrified by the protesters’ demand that women be allowed to run for the presidency.” He suggested Egyptians would “reject this completely” and added, “Women have a role, and men have a role. We’re used to men ruling. Who rules in my house? My father. And who rules in my family? I do.”

2011-03-05 Cables: The Vulnerability of Black African Migrant Workers in Libya

ImageA cable from December 2007 features Gaddafi Development Foundation Executive Director Dr. Yusuf Sawani discussing trans-national terrorism threats and security with US diplomats. The director talks about the fact that a million sub-Saharan African guest workers are resident in Libya and says it should be a “cause of concern.” The workers are a concern because Dr. Sawani believes any of those individuals could possibly commit an act of terrorism. In recent days, many of those guest workers have fled, as Libyans have grown suspicious and attacked a number of black Africans due to reports that Leader Muammar Gaddafi hired “black African mercenaries.”

The latest from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicates 191,000 or more have fled Libya to Egypt, Tunisia and Niger. A previous report estimated around 80,000 Pakistanis, 59,000 Sudanese, 50,000 Bangladeshis, 26,000 Filipinos, 2,000 Nepalese and other African and Asian migrant workers are hosted by the country.

OCHA reports have been tracking the risk of violence migrant workers face. In a March 3 update, OCHA notes, “Sub-Saharan nationals remain at risk of violence from local populations on suspicion of being Government-recruited mercenaries.” A report on March 2 detailed the needs of those fleeing Libya highlights the need for protection. It reads:

2011-03-01 Violence escalates in Abidjan, Ivory Coast as human rights organizations recall horrors of civil war

Violence has continued today in the economic centre of Ivory Coast, the south-eastern city of Abidjan, and has left one dead after clashes between protesters and police forces began early in the morning. Today most of the businesses in the city remain paralyzed and the BBC reports that the La transmission centre of the national television was “burnt down, but is working again, even though the video is of poor quality”. Political tensions over the outcome of the presidential election past November, when the candidate from the opposition Alassane Ouattara accused Laurent Ggagbo, president since 2000, of fraud, have given way to widespread violence in most of the country.


Several days after the official deadline for the results had expired, the Independent Electoral Commission for Ivory Coast claimed Ouattara as the winner with 54% of the votes. The country’s Constitutional Council, however, declared that the commission had no right to publish the results, having missed the deadline to do so. The President of the Council, Paul Yao N’Dre, also said they had decided to nullify around 500,000 votes coming from pro-opposition areas in the north of the country, alleging that the violence and tension that occurred there during the election invalidated the results. They therefore gave a marginal victory to Ggagbo, with a slim 51% of the votes. Both candidates claim they have been sworn into office. The U.N., along with most of the international community, has sided with Ouattara, and imposed sanctions on the Government, calling Ggagbo to step down. Ouattara is known to have strong connections with the West: he studied economics in the U.S. and worked with the International Monetary Fund as an analyst.

2011-02-25 Paramilitary organizations inside Colombian government: human rights violations continue

Over the last decade, the Colombian government has tried hard to free itself from the bonds between government officials, congressmen and military leaders and right wing paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. The group is sponsored by a wide range of people: from high profile corporations and politicians to small landowners looking to protect their interests from opposite guerrilla formations such as FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and ELN (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional). Their actual political and economic power is a matter of concern and in the past even ex-President Alvaro Uribe has been questioned about his and his government’s involvement in illegal activities related to the organization. During these years violence has been widespread and thousands of people –civilians, businessmen and politicians have been killed or kidnapped.


2011-02-24 Julian Assange railroaded by the EAW system, remains NOT GUILTY for the present

Julian Assange has lost the case at the extradition hearing. Full ruling here in PDF. While this writer expected considerable difficulty for Assange's case on count 4, Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle found all four counts to be extraditable. More on that and his findings for another day.

An important first point is that this extradition finding should not be misinterpreted as some species of proven guilt. Julian Assange is still presumed innocent until proven guilty by a proper trial process. The extradition process and appeals to follow in the UK are not that trial process.

The European Arrest Warrant system is flawed and has again been used by a signatory nation to the Framework Decision 2001 (PDF) without having to prove the strength of the prosecution case.

2011-02-24 Extradition hearing: Day four (Final round)

Today Julian Assange faced his last extraditon hearing (apparently). We will be updating Court´s events in Belmarsh here. If you have related live information and audio or video feeds, please send to @wikileaks_world on Twitter.

After 1 hour and 45 minutes, the hearing is over. Judge orders Assange be extradited in Sweden. Assange has 7 days to appeal. For now, he will remain on bail. Lawyer Mark Stephens says they will appeal.

Full judgement is up here.

Relevant Twitter feed from Belmarsh, based on @federicacocco, @estheraddley, @c4marcus and @ravisomaiya:

c4marcus (12.13 GMT)
#Assange bailed until 2pm while issues around sureties are sorted out.
federicacocco (12.12 GMT)
Judge: Assange will remain on bail
federicacocco (12.10 GMT)
Robertson: To save time, we have 2 alternative sureties. One of the original sureties was Lord Evans but he couldn't be here today
estheraddley (12.10 GMT)
Decision postponed on costs. On bail, defence offering two alternative suretors. Judge 'I'm afraid I don't know who these people are'
(12.08 GMT)
Judge: I can't rule on costs today as Crown hasn't provided me with their total. #Assange
federicacocco (12.05 GMT)
Judge: A schedule has not been made. For these purposes, the court has no longer jurisdiction after today.
federicacocco (12.05 GMT)
Judge: In principle I would today make an order for costs in the amount I consider Judge. Today I'm not in a position to assess costs
c4marcus (12.00 GMT)
Appears Crown aren't actually sure what their costs are, which is making dealing with that issue today a bit tricky. #Assange
federicacocco (11.58 GMT)
Judge to prosecution: If the appeal in successful you have a right to apply for the reimbursement of legal costs
federicacocco (11.56 GMT)

2011-02-21 #Pakistan: war and corruption (cable analysis)

Aside from its own political and ideological conflicts, in 2004 Pakistan saw itself obligated to join a task force with the U.S. to fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda groups in its northern region. This created a relationship of mutual interests between the Pakistani political elite and U.S. military interests on the region - generally characterized by the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders. This agreement seemed to complicate problems that already existed in Pakistan, mostly corruption in every sense, and a reliance on U.S. support also was originated. Based on leaked cables of U.S. Diplomacy, we selected some cases where this co-dependence shows its weaknesses and incapabilities to establish an honest and democratic Pakistan.


2011-02-18 Cables: Human Rights Watch's Torture Allegations Threaten Bahrain Government's Credibility

ImageThe streets of Bahrain are becoming increasingly violent. Security forces are using live rounds on protesters. Just over a day ago, right before dawn security forces ambushed protesters camping peacefully in the Pearl Roundabout, an area they had turned into their “Tahrir Square.” Many were injured, a few were killed. And, the world is witnessing the brutal discriminatory practices often used by the regime against Shia citizens and activists who dare to criticize the regime or exercise freedom of expression.

For years, a monarchy headed by King Hamad bin Isa al- Khalifa has come under sharp criticism for its use of torture. Amnesty International published a report on February 11 titled, “Crackdown in Bahrain: Human Rights at the Crossroads.” And now, WikiLeaks has released several cables detailing the torture of political prisoners and other Bahrainis.

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