Friday, October 21, 2011

Fighting over the corpse of Gaddafi like vultures

AFTER NATO – The death of Muammar Gaddafi as a wounded prisoner of war. Disturbing images on Al Jazeera. A war crime?


By Pepe Escobar
They are fighting over the carcass as vultures. The French Ministry of Defense said they got him with a Rafale fighter jet firing over his convoy. The Pentagon said they got him with a Predator firing a Hellfire missile. After a wounded Colonel Muammar Gaddafi sought refuge in a filthy drain underneath a highway - an eerie echo of Saddam Hussein's "hole" - he was found by Transitional National Council (TNC) "rebels". And then duly executed.
- Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar’s last book was Obama Does Globalistan (2009). Read his full article here and his “Roving Eye” columns at the Asian Times.


By Gordon Campbell

THE DEATH of Muammar Gaddafi – either from wounds inflicted by a NATO air strike, or (more likely) from summary execution on his way to hospital – cancels the option of an international war crimes trial. Doubtless, such a trial would have given the Libyan dictator a useful platform from which to harangue the court, and to reveal embarrassing details of the lucrative deals he’d signed in the past with the same Western governments who eventually sent their warplanes to depose him.

No doubt, Gaddafi alive would have been a disruptive figure on the landscape of the new Libya. The trial of Slobodan Milosevic didn’t set an inspiring precedent for how the rule of law is likely to operate in such cases, Yet for all their flaws, such trials are the only alternative to the extra-judicial killings and assassinations (eg Osama Bin Laden, Anwar Al-Awlaki) that are fast becoming the West’s preferred modus operandi.

Also, there was a faint hope that Gaddafi on trial could have been the focus of a truth and reconciliation process in which the Libyan people who suffered at his hands could have confronted the humbled tyrant in a courtroom, and told their stories. More to the point, Gaddafi dead removes a source of national unity. Hostility to Gaddafi is just about all that is holding together the various Libyan rebel militias.

That lack of unity is a product of Gaddafi’s 40-year personality cult, which crushed any semblance of civil society. Now, all the tribal factions that Gaddafi manipulated so skilfully will have to be represented in a government of national unity. As the Stratfor intelligence think tank has pointed out, it is already clear that the Libyan Transitional National Council that the West recognises, enjoys little respect or authority among many of the rebel fighters:
The NTC is one of several political forces in the country. Since the rebel forces entered Tripoli on August 21, there has been a steady increase of armed groups hailing from places such as Misurata, Zentan, Tripoli and even eastern Libya itself that have questioned the authority of leading NTC members. These groups have been occupying different parts of the capital for two months now, despite calls by the NTC (and some of the groups themselves) to vacate.

In other words, the TNC has only a shaky clam to authority beyond Benghazi. At the same time, the outside world is expecting the TNC to honour the dodgy contracts for Libya’s oil reserves that Gaddafi signed, and not to let matters like internal politics or morality get in the way:

There have been repeated questions over the status of business contracts and agreements involving Russian companies, which have been signed by the Gaddafi regime, and whether they will be honoured. They generally involve oil or gas development and exploration, but also include railways and military cooperation….

Last month the Russian Foreign Ministry recognized the Transitional National Council of Libya as the current authority, adding that it expected existing contracts to be honoured.

“At present the Transitional National Council is analysing the contracts, signed by the Gaddafi regime, in order to establish whether or not they are transparent. I do not think the new Libyan government will begin with the evaluation of contracts with Russia by political criteria,” Margelov said, adding that it would be more correct for the new government to analyse the contracts from a technical and economic perspective.
Now, the real problems begin.

- Independent New Zealand journalist Gordon Campbell can be read on his Scoop Media blog and on his Werewolf netzine.
BEFORE NATO – Independent images of the Gaddafi regime and reasons why the West had to ensure the crushing of a maverick Arab voice.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Can Les Bleus break the Eden Park rugby hoodoo?

Dimitri Yachvili leads a victory parade after defeating England 19-12 in the quarterfinals.

By Francois Mazet and Sylvain Mouillard

A bunch of "sans culottes'' - the French republican revolutionaries of 1792 who beheaded king Louis XVI - will replay their Valmy on Sunday against a coalition of Anglo-Saxons, led by the lords of the game, the All Blacks.

There is no argument from the French about Richie McCaw's side deserving to win the World Cup. They are the best team, play great rugby and it would be a reward for New Zealanders who have been great hosts throughout the tournament. And as rugby fans, we would be perfectly fine with the All Blacks lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy.

But competition is not about deserving to win. Why would professional sports have any morality when society does not? The only true thing is that, at the end of the day, the winner is always right.

The French might not have deserved to beat Wales last Saturday. There was nothing to be proud of. But France, in their sporting history, have suffered enough bad nights, unfair calls and stolen games to, for once, be content with victory.

The world's press could do nothing worse than labelling this French team "thieves''. Coach Marc Lièvremont will put up a handful of articles in the changing room at Eden Park on Sunday and remind his players the last team who won there had blue jerseys on. If there is one squad which can break the Eden Park hoodoo, it's Lievremont's dirty XV.

Despite having guided France to the final, Lievremont's legacy will be easy to conclude: World Cup-winning coach or absolutely nothing.

After four years in charge, the former second division coach is a long way from the promise he made when he got the job. He vowed to revitalise French pass-and-run rugby. But it's almost impossible to build an attacking team in French rugby because of the war between the clubs and the national team that sees the clubs wield power over players. It took time for Lievremont to understand this.

There were rumours of disarray in the French camp during the tournament. Far from it. It was only the result of the clash between a straightforward guy, who verbalises publicly everything that goes through his mind, and players who were, for a long time, too shy.

After several notorious losses, the latest against Tonga in pool play, it seems Les Bleus now completely assume that French flair is a myth. It was mostly the violence of Franck Tournaire and Cedric Soulette in the rucks that led to victory in 1999 and Thierry Dusautoir's 38 tackles in 2007. This French team have also decided the only important thing is winning.

The backbone of French rugby has always been the feeling of "one against all''. That is how Les Bleus beat the All Blacks in 1999 and 2007. They were scared, they ware ashamed, they were shattered and they rose from it, stuck together and reversed the course of history. Lièvremont knows that only too well - he was in the team 12 years ago.

It is probable that the torrent of harsh words from the press in New Zealand, Australia and the UK will only make the French resolve stronger.

Lacking respect for your opponent is the worst insult in rugby. France have paid for it several times, including a few weeks ago against Tonga. They would love nothing more than to prove a lot of people wrong.

Francois Mazet and Sylvain Mouillard are reporters for Liberation newspaper, RFI and RMC radios, and website.

Brutal crackdown against pro-independence West Papua congress

Indonesian military preparing for the crackdown against participants at the Third Papuan People’s Congress. Photo: West Papua Media

FOUR KILLINGS at the Freeport McMoRan copper mine strike last week, protests by journalists after one was beaten up and this week’s opening fire by Indonesian forces at the Third Papuan People's Congress have put the spotlight on media freedom and freedom of expression in West Papua. A new report published yesterday by Pacific Journalism Review examines media freedom across the South Pacific and it is grim reading. Amid the confusion and chaos in Jayapura this week, reports are emerging in West Papua Media, Pacific Scoop and other news sources of a growing toll from this repressive crackdown. Here is a dispatch from Jayapura by Jakarta Globe reporters Banjir Ambarita, Markus Junianto Sihaloho and Ezra Sihite in Jajapura:

Six people have been found dead a day after Indonesian security forces fired shots while breaking up a pro-independence rally in Papua, a human rights advocate reported.

The bodies of two of the dead, identified as university student Matias Maidepa and Papua Land Defenders member Yacop Sabonsaba, were found on Wednesday behind the military headquarters in Padang Bulan, Abepura.

“On October 20, 2011, four civilians were also found dead around the venue of the Papua Congress, but their identities remain unknown,” said Matias Murib, deputy chairman of the Papua office of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

Some 300 people were detained by the Papua police, though many of them had nothing to do with the demonstration held in a field in Padang Bulan, Matias said.

“Many among the hundreds of people detained were not involved in the congress, and only happened to by passing by the area when they were arrested,” he said.

He added that he had received reports that hundreds of armed soldiers and police were out in force on the streets of Manokwari, some 740 km west of Jayapura, the Papua capital.

He cited an unconfirmed report that a man identified as Martinus Yeimo had been killed by a member of the police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) in Enarotali, a town in Paniai district….

[Police chief] Wachyono said Selfius Bobby, a social media activist and organiser of the Papua Congress, had been arrested, bringing the number of accused over the rally to six.

Police have said all six accused would face charges of violating articles 110, 106 and 160 of the Criminal Code.

Besides Selfius, the other accused are Forkorus Yoboisembut, chairman of the Papuan Customary Council and declared president of the Democratic Republic of Papua at the congress, Edison Gladius Waromi, his prime minister, August Makbrawen Sananay Kraar, Dominikus Sorabut and Gat Wenda.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indonesians shoot Papuan strikers – new Pacific media freedom report targets oppressors

© 2011 Malcolm Evans PJR
THIS Malcolm Evans cartoon in the latest Pacific Journalism Review spotlights the blood on Indonesia’s hands in four decades of occupation in West Papua. Tension has been building up since early August as thousands of Papuans prepare for their Third Papuan People's Congress in Jayapura. The strife has escalated and erupted into shooting on Monday by Indonesian security forces at the Freeport-McMoran gold and copper mine at Timika, Papuan Province, as they tried to suppress striking miners. At least one man was shot dead and about a dozen others wounded.

Kontras, the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence has condemned the shooting of the Freeport workers who were seeking negotiations with the management of the company. Since the strike began on September 15 there has been no sign that the management is seeking to provide any space for peaceful dialogue which could address the issues for both sides.

At the time of the shooting on October 10, about 8000 workers were involved in the protest against the company for recruiting new workers to replace those now on strike. The strikers marched from their SBSI trade union headquarters to the mine drains, a distance of about 500 metres along a road that was six metres wide. A short distance away, hundreds of policemen were standing on guard and they opened fire. Petrus Ayamiseba a catering worker at the company was shot in the waist and died.

As human rights protests gathered momentum this week, Pacific Journalism Review was being published with a comprehensive 39-page report on Pacific media freedom. The PJR report quite rightly focused on West Papua as the worst territory for human rights abuses against journalists. In fact, West Papua is now considerably worse than Fiji in terms of brutal assaults on media freedom. The research journal, published by the Pacific Media Centre, said in an editorial:
By far the most serious case of media freedom violations in the Pacific is in Indonesian-ruled West Papua — far from international scrutiny … In August, in particular, “sustained repression has also hit the news media and journalists”. At least two journalists have been killed in West Papua, five others abducted and 18 assaulted in the past year.
Ten West Papuan activists were arrested by Indonesian authorities in Jayapura last week for being in possession of material that featured the banned West Papuan Morning Star flag of independence.

Poengky Indarti, executive director of the Indonesian human rights monitor Imparsial, said recently: “Freedoms of expression, association and assembly are routinely violated in Papua, which seriously fuels tensions. Besides, gross human rights abuses, such as acts of torture, remain unaccounted for.”

This free media report, compiled by Pacific Media Watch contributing editor Alex Perrottet and Pacific Media Centre director Dr David Robie with a team of contributors, including West Papua Media editor Nick Chesterfield, is the most comprehensive and robust media freedom dossier published in recent years in the region.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Australian treatment of asylum seekers 'global embarrassment', says Shetty

Image : Tehran Times

SALIL SHETTY, secretary-general of Amnesty International, has been an outspoken advocate for the Global South who doesn't pull punches. He has travelled extensively in his first year since taking the helm of the international human rights group and has put priority on building globall grassroots links and has paid close attention to the Arab Spring. He stewardship is a refreshing era. It isn't surprising given his own role as former director of the United Nations Millennium Programme where he campaigned against poverty and his earlier background in Bangalore, India: "With his mother active in women’s groups and his [journalist] father with the Dalit movement, his home became a hub for local and national activists. Since his student days, when a state of emergency was declared in 1976, and as the president of his college student’s union, Salil Shetty has been actively campaigning against the curtailment of human rights."

Now his attention is currently on Downunder. He has already rapped Australia over its own human rights record, especially over asylum seekers, and he will be in New Zealand tomorrow. This is what he had to say about Australia in the ABC's Nightline interview:

The chief of Amnesty International says Australia's treatment of asylum seekers and Indigenous people is deeply disturbing and an international embarrassment.

In his first interview while in Australia, Amnesty secretary-general Salil Shetty told ABC's
Lateline that Western nations, including Australia, were rapidly losing credibility when it came to human rights.

He says the Federal government's stymied Malaysia Solution is not in line with international refugee laws.

"Australia should know better," he said.
"It is simply not acceptable because they are very familiar with what is acceptable legally and what is not.

"There is a legal side and also a humane side.

"I don't believe it is in consonance with Australian people's values either. I think it is wrong on all counts."

Amnesty International also remains critical of the Northern Territory intervention.

Shetty says it breaches the Racial Discrimination Act, and talks down to Indigenous people.

"That is the other blight on the otherwise decent human rights record and we are talking about a half a million people," he said.

"Sometimes people think that we are talking about a handful of people, but if you look at the current practices and policies in the Northern Territory what it is doing effectively is widening the gap, not closing the gap."

After visiting remote Indigenous communities and a detention centre, Shetty will meet Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd and other politicians in a fortnight.

"This is a very critical moment ... on the issue of asylum seekers and the issue in the way in which they are addressing the Aboriginal people's problems. They have to really raise the game and meet their international obligations," he said.

Shetty says it is one thing to meet and speak with a politician, the question he asks is what will they do with the information.

Criticism of the West

Shetty also warns Western countries to stop lecturing other failing countries and acting as the world's sheriffs or deputy sheriff.

"If they are going to be lecturing people that have to shape up domestically and in their foreign policies, it is a kind of shape up or shut up message," he said.

The West is already under fire for its inconsistent response to the current turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa.

Shetty says the international action in Libya has not been matched in the troubled countries of Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.

"Cosying up to [Moamar] Gaddafi but also cosying up to [Hosni] Mubarak before that, but I mean [Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali - there was this American sort of thing: 'he might be a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch' kind of thing," he said.

"The people in the Middle East and North Africa and indeed in many developing countries look at all of these interventions with a great deal of suspicion."

Amnesty's chief also points to other areas as worrying: the use of the death penalty in the United States, most recently the execution of Troy Davis, and the US use of torture in the war on terrorism.

"This is simply unacceptable and this is where the issue of double standards and hypocrisy really starts to show up," he said.

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