Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For those we don't hear about

WITH British TV news leading on whether some Muslim cleric should be deported to Jordan, and some people much concerned for the freedom of the Iranian government-sponsored Press TV, I thought we should devote a bit of space to some more deserving cases that have not had so much attention.

First, as reported by JNews among other campaigners or alternative media, tomorrow is day 60 of Khader Adnan's hunger-strike, which he started on 18 December 2011 in protest against his administrative detention (internment without trial) and the humiliating conditions of his interrogation by Israeli forces.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) is among those worried.

"Khader's condition is deteriorating. PHR-I's doctor, who visited him in hospital yesterday, said 'the clock is ticking'. At this stage, even if he stops his fast, re-feeding will be a highly complex medical procedure.

"Yesterday, 13 February, the Israeli military court of appeals rejected an appeal against Khader's detention and ordered him to complete the full four months imposed on him, until 8 May 2012".

That is four months without trial, so far.

"This is the longest hunger strike by a Palestinian detainee. For comparison, IRA Long Kesh prisoner Bobby Sands died after 66 days on hunger strike in 1981.

"In solidarity with Khader's act, dozens of other Palestinians - detainees, prisoners and others - have embarked on parallel hunger strikes. One hunger-striker who is refusing both food and fluids is known to be hospitalised in Soroka hospital in the south of Israel".

JNews says there have been several demos for Khader outside Ofer prison in the Occupied Palestinian territories and in Ramallah. Yesterday there were demos in Haifa, Tel Aviv and London, There is also a demo tomorrow in Glasgow, http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhttps://www.facebook.com/events/271653449570614/ .

it also notes: "Questions have been raised in several EU MS parliaments, and some Member States have raised the issue with the Israeli government, so far with no results. There has been little mainstream media coverage of this story".

Perhaps someone has told the BBC that the Israelis are using "Emergency" Laws inherited from the British mandate to permit administrative detention. All the same that is no excuse, either for the Israelis doing it, or the British media failing to cover it.

Now to how freedom is faring in a British Commonwealth country and in Britain's best Middle East arms customer and ally. This comes from some Middle East human rights campaigners:

On 12 February, Malaysian police deported 23 year old Saudi columnist Hamza Kashgari, who fled Saudi Arabia after making comments on Twitter claimed by some to be "insulting" to the prophet Muhammad. There have been widespread calls from Islamists for his execution; in Saudi Arabia, blasphemy is punishable by death.

Theocratic regimes like Saudi Arabia will not tolerate the most basic freedom of thought and expression. We defend the right of everyone in the world to freely express their views, including to criticise religion. We condemn the Malaysian government for detaining Kashgari who had fled the country and handing him over to the Saudi authorities. We are also concerned to learn of reports that INTERPOL may have promulgated a Saudi government warrant for his arrest. The implications of this mean that no asylum seeker or refugee is free from persecution even after having fled.

We demand that the Saudi authorities immediately and unconditionally release Kashgari. He has not committed any crime.

To support the campaign, please sign the petition:

Perhaps Baroness Varsi and David Cameron will find time from defending our freedom against "militant secularists" to uphold it against religious fanatics with whose regimes they might have some influence? Not that I'm holding my breath.

Lastly, while rights campaigners and trade unionists in Bahrain were battling riot police and tear gas today, under a regime armed by Britain and backed by the Saudis, a reminder that they are caught between two reactionary states either side of the Gulf, neither of which represents freedom. This comes from Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI), which campaigns both against the Islamicist regime and the threat of imperialist intervention.

Bina Darabzand, a leading member of the Consistency Committee to Establish Workers’ Organizations in Iran, and his son Oktai, a journalist and blogger, have recently fled Iran due to threats by the Islamic Republic regime against their lives and security. They have sought refugee status in Turkey; however, they remain under pressure from the Turkish authorities to return to Iran. Given the serious and continuing risk to their lives, we urge UNHCR to expedite the processing of their cases, grant them refugee status as a matter of urgency, and quickly facilitate their resettlement to a safe third country.

Bina Darabzand
Bina Darabzand is a prominent activist who has been politically active from the age of 15, first against the Shah’s dictatorship, and then against the Islamic Republic regime. In addition to being a leading member of the Consistency Committee to Establish Workers’ Organizations in Iran, he has also re-started his political blog, http://salam-democrat.com.

Numerous labor activists with the Consistency Committee to Establish Workers’ Organizations in Iran have faced persecution and imprisonment for exercising their fundamental rights to organize, and for demanding workers’ rights, including unpaid back wages, fair pay, and benefits. Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a member of the same Committee, is a political prisoner serving a 20-year sentence for his membership in this organization. Nearly all members of the Committee to Establish Workers’ Organizations have been arrested, beaten, or persecuted by regime authorities in Iran including Shahrokh Zamani and Muhammad Jarahi, who are now serving 11- and 10-year prison sentences, respectively, in Tabriz Prison. Others have been released temporarily and only on the basis of having paid multiple hundreds of millions Tomans in bail.

Oktai Darabzand
Bina’s son, Oktai Darabzand, is a journalist with a focus on political and human rights issues. Six years ago, Oktai established a weblog called “Aseman Daily News,” which published the news of political prisoners from jail as well as other human rights violations by the Islamic Republic regime. The blog also included social, economic, and foreign news sections. Journalists and bloggers covering human rights news in Iran are routinely persecuted, tortured, sentenced to lengthy prison terms, and even sentenced to execution in Iran; Reporters Without Borders provides an overview of the risk faced by such journalists and bloggers in Iran (link).

During the 2009 uprising, Oktai’s weblog was blocked on the orders of the Judicial Power. Immediately, with funding from his father, Oktai opened a website with the same name (http://asemandailynews.com), continuing with his activities.

However, in April of 2011, Oktai’s website was designated by the regime as “a PMOI site.” Many members of PMOI (Peoples’ Mojahedin of Irani, or Mojahedin-e Khalgh) – and those accused of affiliation – are condemned to brutally harsh prison sentences and execution. Jafar Kazemi, Ali Saremi, and Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei are only 3 recent and well-known examples of those accused of PMOI membership who have been executed on that basis.

Although Oktai has no political affiliation or contact with any organized group; however, because of his journalistic activities, and because the Islamic Republic has designated his site as being affiliated with PMOI, his life is at clear and unquestionable risk in Iran.

Situation in Turkey
Bina and Oktai entered Turkey and registered with the UNHCR. However, they were soon informed by the Ankara Police (Foreign Citizens Bureau) that the Turkish Ministry refused to recognize their status as asylum-seekers; they were given until 8 February 2012 to leave Turkey and return to Iran. Thanks to pressure from Iranian and European supporters, UNHCR accelerated the interview process and contactedhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif the Turkish Interior Ministry and Police, requesting that they respect Bina and Oktai’s status as asylum-seekers whose case is pending review.

The Turkish police demonstrated their anger at the pressure that had been exerted on them to accept the Darabzand’s appeal. Ultimately, Bina and Oktai were required to leave Ankara and go to a small town that has no facilities, not even a bus terminal, 3 hours from any city. They are to wait for a response from UNHCR there, but they remain at elevated risk of deportation at any moment. Should they be illegally deported to Iran by the Turkish authorities, not only would they face certain imprisonment and torture, but both of their lives would be at risk.

For more information and how to protest:

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home