Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Libya's UN Membership

Why wasn’t Libya’s membership at the United Nations suspended?

According to Article 5 of the Charter of the United Nations, a Member State against which the Security Council decides to take preventive or enforcement measures may be suspended from the United Nations, if the General Assembly decides so, upon a recommendation of the Security Council into this effect.
In fact, the Security Council did decide to take, and is actually taking now, preventive and enforcement or coercive measures against Liyba, by virtue of its resolutions 1970 and 1973. However, it did not recommend to the General Assembly to suspend Libya’s membership.

Gabriel Helou

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Demanding Syria is not enough

Demanding Syria to put an end to violence is insufficient; coercive and repressive measures should immediately be taken.

Al-Assad faces indictment by the International Criminal Court

President Bashar Al-Assad faces indictment by the International Criminal Court as Western leaders were told on Sunday that the Syrian leader could be held to account for the deaths of 120 anti-government protesters.

السفير الفلسطيني في الجزائر

فلسطينيون يضربون ويطعنون  بخنجر السفير الفلسطيني في الجزائر في مقر السفارة الفلسطينية.

Sanctions on Syrian Regime

"Human Rights Watch" calls upon the international community to impose sanctions on the Syrian regime.

Syrian Regime

The Syrian regime has an international legal obligation to protect peaceful demonstrators and the right to peaceful protest.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Genocide in Syria

A genocide in Syria is in the making, as the tyrant Syrian regime is going further with its brutality. The international community should act immediately and swiftly against the outrageous and lunatic dictator Bashar Al-Assad. And the question that arises: what are the 15 ambassadors in the Security Council doing right now, hunting Easter eggs?! Chapter VII of the UN Charter should immediately be given effect, before the world witnesses a real genocide in Syria.

Gabriel Helou

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Germany: No Permanent Seat on the Security Council

The largest economic power in Europe, the third-largest contributor to the United Nations, Germany has not yet been given a permanent seat on the Security Council. This article gives a detailed analysis of the vague, ambivalent and unpredictable Germany foreign policy which, according to the author, bars Germany from obtaining a permanent seat. The author further points out that Germany is now ''on the wrong side of history", because of its "non-intervention policy", according to which it abstains from joining the international community in responding to the changes that are occuring nowadays, notably the situation in Libya. By refusing to intervene and to join its European partners, Germany is isolating itself and therefore cannot emerge as a political power on the international arena. It is worth mentioning that Germany abstained from voting on Security Council resolution 1973.


Al-Assad Regime

Al-Assad regime in Damascus cannot but be toppled. Never in history has an autocratic regime introduced concrete democratic changes. In fact, autocracy by nature contradicts democratic values, namely respect for human rights. Therefore, no one in his right mind should expect a tyrant regime to accept or allow reforms. Autocracy and democracy do not ever go along, on the one hand.
On the other hand, dictatorships should not be given the opportunity to talk about democracy, because that’s an insult to democratic values. And even if they "promise" to bring about reforms in the regime, that would be no more than using "weapons of mass deception", as this itself means relinquishing powers, something that a dictator would never accept.
As this situation applies to Al-Assad regime, it should not be allowed to mislead or underestimate the minds of those who took to the streets to strive for democracy. The only option is bringing down this regime.
Bashar Al-Assad should further be held criminally responsible for the intentional murder - until this moment - of dozens of peaceful protesters, either before a Syrian court - after toppling his regime - or before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as this type of murder is classified as a crime against humanity.

Gabriel Helou

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Unlike regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, Syrian authorities retain tight control

"By late Friday, 81 people were confirmed dead, said Wissam Tarif, director of a Syrian human rights group. In at least 10 towns and cities, activists and witnesses said, government forces shot into crowds, beat protesters with batons and Kalashnikovs, and used tear gas against them... In Washington, President Obama made his toughest statement to date on the situation in Syria, condemning the use of force “in the strongest possible terms” and calling on Assad to “change course now.” For the first time, Obama directly blamed the Syrian president for the crackdown, saying Assad had placed his “personal interests” ahead of his people, and tied Syrian repression to Iran. But Obama stopped well short of calling on Assad to cede power. While his statement marked a sharp escalation in tone, it offered no indication that further U.S. action was being contemplated"

Crimes against humanity in Syria

The Syrian regime is committing crimes against humanity against its own civilian population. It is murdering its population as part of a widespread and systematic attack,  a situation which falls under Article 7(1)(a) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Since Syria is a non-party State to the Statute, the Security Council – having the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security under the UN Charter – is empowered to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Statute.
Furthermore, the Security Council should consider other necessary measures, including the use of armed force, to put an end to the widespread and systematic murder of Syrians.
The international community should act immediately and send a loud and clear message to the Syrian regime: human rights violations entail tough consequences. Immediate action is required.

Gabriel Helou

L’UE prendra-t-elle les devants ?

Paris et l’Union envisagent la reconnaissance rapide d’un Etat palestinien, selon l’ambassadeur français à l’Onu. Mais la sensibilité des Etats membres varie sur ce sujet.

"En l’absence persistante de toute avancée dans les négociations de paix entre Israël et l’Autorité palestinienne, les pays de l’Union européenne pourraient-ils reconnaître un Etat palestinien avant même la résolution du conflit?..."

Friday, April 22, 2011

EU High Representative must request enlargement of UNSC resolution 1973

EU High Representative must request enlargement of UNSC resolution 1973 to prevent a massacre in Mirsrata

The United Kingdom is sending military advisers to assist Libyan rebels, whilst the chairman of the French foreign affairs committee suggests that French commandos should be deployed to assist in guiding air strikes.

Guy Verhofstadt, Liberal group leader in the European Parliament, commented that the EU is lacking a coordinated strategy on how to respond to developments in Libya:

"The lack of a coordinated EU response to the continuing conflict in Libya has left Member States, who are participating in the UN sanctioned Libyan protection force, struggling to match the needs on the ground with the limitations of air strikes in what is essentially now a ground war."

"The four EU members of the UN Security Council must urgently bring the matter up at the international level and seek clarification or enlargement of the mandate of UNSC resolution 1973, in particular on the provision to protect civilians by 'all necessary means'.  The use of heavy munitions and cluster bombs by Gaddafi forces in residential areas of Misrata is in blatant contravention of international law and is resulting in indiscriminate civilian casualties".

"We now call on the EU's High Representative for external action to take the initiative to define a common policy and action by UK, France, Germany and Portugal on the United Nations Security Council with respect to reinforcing the mandate to protect civilian life."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

France considers recognizing a Palestinian State

La France songe à reconnaître un Etat palestinien

"La France et des pays européens songent à reconnaître un Etat palestinien, a déclaré jeudi l’ambassadeur de France à l’ONU Gérard Araud lors d’une réunion du Conseil de sécurité sur le Moyen-Orient"

Personal translation:

"France considers recognizing a Palestinian State

France and other European countries consider recognizing a Palestinian State, said French Ambassador to the United Nations Gérard Araud, at a meeting of the Security Council on the Middle East"

Arrigoni's body arrives in Rome

President Mahmoud Abbas: "I am going to the United Nations"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Many Qaddafis

Over the 42 years of iron-fisted rule, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has taken on many roles

"TWO images serve as bookends to the four-decades-old rule of Libya’s ruler, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. The first is the picture taken a few days after the Sept. 1, 1969, coup that brought him to power: it shows a handsome, pencil-thin revolutionary in military uniform, kneeling in the desert sand to pray. The other was taken two days ago: Colonel Qaddafi in bedouin garb as an uprising sparked by the arrest of a human rights lawyer in Benghazi continued to overtake the country, defiantly and incoherently defending his self-styled revolution, vowing to struggle on until death"

Is NATO being dragged into a ground war in Libya?

U.K. and France Try to Boost Libyan Rebels, But Risk Rupturing NATO

"As troops loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi continue to pound the rebel-held city of Misratah - leading to hundreds of civilian casualties - British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced April 19 that the U.K. and France were dispatching a joint squad of military advisers to Benghazi, stronghold of the Libyan rebels in the country's east. The team is supposedly just a support force, helping the rebel leadership, says Hague, improve its “military organizational structures, communications and logistics.” But while officials in London and Paris are eager to play down the importance of this deployment, the move has set off new fears of “mission creep” setting into NATO's operations in Libya - with the international community staggering into a drawn out war for regime change, invariably on land, that many in NATO had no desire to join"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Plane with Michelle Obama had to abort landing because of mistake

"A White House plane carrying Michelle Obama came dangerously close to a 200-ton military cargo jet and had to abort its landing at Joint Base Andrews on Monday as the result of an air traffic controller’s mistake, according to federal officials familiar with the incident"

The Latest Enemies of Iran: Dogs and Their Owners

"For much of the past decade, the Iranian government has tolerated what it considers a particularly depraved and un-Islamic vice: the keeping of pet dogs"

Israeli Intellectuals Press for Palestinian State

"Dozens of Israel’s most honored intellectuals and artists have signed a declaration endorsing a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines and asserting that an end to Israel’s occupation “will liberate the two peoples and open the way to a lasting peace.”

The signatories plan to announce their position on Wednesday from the same spot in Tel Aviv where the Jewish state declared its independence in the spring of 1948..."

Palestinians prefer peace treaty with Israel by September

Palestinian UN diplomat: Palestinians prefer peace treaty with Israel by September

Palestinians say if peace treaty not reached by September, they will go to UN Security Council with enough support that it would recommend admission of Palestine as new member of UN

"Riyad Mansour, the top Palestinian diplomat at the United Nations, said the Palestinians prefer to have a peace treaty with Israel by September, the month when the Palestinians plan on taking their case for an independent state to the floor of the UN. The Palestinians say that if a peace treaty with Israel isn't reached by September their first choice is to go to the UN Security Council with such strong support and arguments that it would recommend admission of Palestine as a new member of the United Nations"

Quartet may formally recognize Palestinian state

Report: Quartet may formally recognize Palestinian state if peace talks not renewed

"American and European diplomats warned that if peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are not renewed, the Quartet of Mideast peace makers may formally recognize a Palestinian state, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday. The Quartet, which is comprised of the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia, was supposed to meet last week to discuss an initiative by Britain, France and Germany to restart stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks by proposing the outlines of a final settlement to their long conflict... The Palestinians have launched their own initiative aimed at gaining recognition of independent statehood at the UN General Assembly in September. They have succeeded in gaining recognition from several countries in Latin America. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the Palestinian move to secure international recognition for statehood was hindering peace efforts and essentially a bid toward avoiding negotiations"

La Belgique officiellement entrée dans le Guinness World Records

Depuis le 30 mars dernier, notre pays a en effet volé à l'Irak le triste record du nombre de jours sans gouvernement, passant de 289 à 310 ce mardi.
"La Belgique est officiellement entrée dans la série des Guinness World Records, a indiqué Justine Bourdariat, marketing manager au Guinness World Records, contactée par l'agence BELGA. "Le 30 mars 2011, 290 jours après les élections qui se sont tenues le 13 juin 2010, la Belgique est devenue le pays qui a connu, en temps de paix, la plus longue période sans gouvernement officiel. Auparavant, ce sont les Pays-Bas qui détenaient ce record, ayant pris, en 1977, 207 jours pour former un gouvernement, toujours en temps de paix", indique le texte du record, transmis par le Guinness World Records à l'agence BELGA."Cette période excède également le temps qu'a connu l'Irak sans gouvernement officiel; 289 jours à partir des élections jusqu'au jour où la nouvelle administration s'est mise en marche..."

La Belgique sans gouvernement dans le Guinness

"La Belgique est officiellement mentionnée dans le Guinness World Records comme étant « le pays qui a connu, en temps de paix, la plus longue période sans gouvernement officiel »"

State Department: U.S. isn’t working to undermine Syria government

"The United States is not working to undermine the Syrian government but President Bashar al-Assad "needs to address the legitimate aspirations of his people," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Monday"

La Syrie promet de mater une "rébellion armée"

"Le ministère de l'Intérieur a promis de mater une "rébellion armée" fomentée par des "groupes salafistes" en Syrie où le mouvement de prenait de l'ampleur plus d'un mois après son lancement. Dans la ville de Homs, plus de 20.000 personnes se sont rassemblées lundi soir pour réclamer la chute du régime de Bachar al-Assad, alors que de nouvelles manifestations ont eu lieu à travers le pays"

Monday, April 18, 2011

"الاتحاد الدولي للصحافيين يتعهد بمتابعة قضية الوثائق مع "الجزيرة

"... ناقش المجتمعون قضية وثائق المفاوضات الفلسطينية - الاسرائيلية التي نشرت في فضائية الجزيرة والجارديان، وسط المطالبة للجزيرة بضرورة الرد على رسالة د. صائب عريقات الى الاتحاد الدولي للصحافيين، مثلما فعلت الجارديان، الذي تابع وسيواصل متابعة القضية من وجهة نظر الصحافة الاخلاقية"

Istanbul could be split in two, says Turkish prime minister

Radical plan unveiled by Recep Tayyip Erdogan to cope with growing strains of city with 17 million residents

"Istanbul is renown as the place where east meets west, the only city in the world to straddle Europe and Asia. But it may soon lose this unique status if the Turkish government goes ahead with a plan to divide it in two. The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former Istanbul mayor, has announced what he described as a "wild project" to split the city into European and Asian sides to make it easier to govern"

الرئيس: نرفض الدولة المؤقتة .. والحكومة الجديدة خلال ايام

"قال الرئيس محمود عباس، اليوم الاثنين، ان تشكيل الحكومة الفلسطينية الجديدة سيعلن خلال اسبوع او عشرة ايام. واضاف الرئيس عباس في "مقابلة خاصة" مع قناة "العربية" ان تأخير تشكيل الحكومة كان بقرار منه لاتاحة المجال لجهود انهاء الانقسام وتشكيل حكومة بالتوافق. وتابع ابو مازن "طالما لم تستجب حماس للدعوات بانهاء الانقسام فاننا لن نستطيع الانتظار اكثر من ذلك"... وفيما يتعلق باستحقاق ايلول القادم اكد الرئيس عباس الجاهزية الفلسطينية لاقامة الدوله، لكنه رفض الطروحات الاسرائيلية باقامة الدولة المؤقتة"

المقالة تنشر صورا لمتهمين بقتل أريغوني

"نشرت الشرطة التابعة لداخلية الحكومة المقالة في قطاع غزة صوراً لأشخاص قالت إنهم مطلوبون للعدالة بتهمة التورط في قضية مقتل الصحفي والمتضامن الايطالي فيتوريو أريغوني. والصور المنشورة لكل من: عبد الرحمن محمد البريزات الملقب بـ"محمد حسان"، ومحمود محمد نمر السلفيتي، ومحمد البريزات، وبلال العمري"

Gaza police identify murder suspects

"Gaza police on Monday released the photos of four men identified as the prime suspects in the murder of Italian activist and journalist Vittorio Arrigoni. Police said the four were currently fugitives, and apparently in hiding. The four were identified as Abdul-Rahman Al-Breizat, Mahmoud Muhammad Nimir Salfiti, Muhammad Al-Breizat, and Bilal Al-Umar"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

الرئيس يمنح المتضامن الإيطالي أريغوني نوط القدس

قرر الرئيس محمود عباس، اليوم الأحد، منح نوط القدس للمتضامن الإيطالي فيتوريو أريغوني، الذي اغتيل في قطاع غزة الجمعة الماضي على يد مجموعة سلفية، لدعمه القضية الفلسطينية.

وكان أريغوني عضوا في حركة التضامن الدولية مع شعبنا، وقد وصل غزة للمرة الأولى في 23 آب من العام 2008 في أول قافلة قوارب لكسر الحصار والتضامن مع الشعب الفلسطيني.
وبات أريغوني وجها مألوفا في غزة وخاصة للصيادين الذين كان يرافقهم في رحلات الصيد لحمايتهم من اعتداءات زوارق الاحتلال، وكذلك المزارعين حيث شاركهم في المسيرات المناهضة لما تسمى بالمنطقة العازلة شمال وشرق غزة، وكان يخرج للتضامن معهم في وجه قوات الاحتلال التي ما انفكت تطلق عليهم النار في حقولهم.
وبرز دور أريغوني في الحرب الإسرائيلية على غزة نهاية العام 2008 ومطلع العام 2009، حيث كان يرافق سيارات الإسعاف في إنقاذ المواطنين.
كما برز دوره الإعلامي في كتابة قصص وتقارير من قلب المعاناة والحصار الإسرائيلي على غزة، ونشرها في الصحف ومواقع الانترنت الأجنبية.

Privacy, libel or protection of reputation?

Two distinct legal avenues of complaint are melding into one, and it could be bad news for both media defendants and claimants

"A very small bit of legal history was made on Wednesday when court rules were changed to allow "statements in open court" in privacy cases as well as in defamation cases. Statements in open court have long been used to give publicity to libel complaints that have been settled - usually on the basis of a retraction, an apology and damages - without the need for a trial"

Hungarian mothers to get extra votes for their children in elections

"In a move that would be unprecedented in a modern democracy, Hungary's new government is considering giving mothers with small children extra votes in elections. The conservative Fidesz party has made several controversial decisions since coming to power on a populist rightwing agenda, including a crackdown on the media, but the latest proposal could be prove to be its most contentious"

Saved from Gaddafi's torturers - by a simple gesture of kindness

Former captive tells of the 'horror movie' violence meted by Libyan soldiers, and how he came to escape a similar fate

"When Ali Mufta draped his blanket around the shoulders of a pair of terrified teenage brothers, he thought of it as little more than a touch of kindness in the midst of a situation he describes as "a horror movie". But it was a gesture that saved him from the fate of other prisoners crammed into an underground cell in Sirte, the birthplace of the Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi"

The United Nations will watch over Gaza

Who knows? The UN might one day decide to implement its doctrine of 'responsibility to protect' during a Hamas-Israel conflict. Seems unlikely? So did the initiative for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state a few months ago.

"From Israel's point of view, this means that in a future military confrontation with Hamas, the UN reaction will not be influenced by an op-ed by Richard Goldstone expressing regret. A move by the Security Council during an Israeli military campaign against Hamas could find expression in the new concept of UN military intervention to prevent the killing of civilians. The chances of an initiative to send an international peacekeeping force to the Gaza Strip in the event of a large campaign against Hamas seems to be negligible right now. But if the deadlocked peace process continues without a move from Jerusalem, any move that breaks the stalemate that Israel's leaders are addicted to will receive wholesale support from the United Nations"

Roger Cohen: France Flies, Germany Flops

Syria's al-Assad: Emergency laws "to end next week"

"Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he expects a state of emergency to be lifted next week, after weeks of anti-government protests"

Filling of Security Council seats is for Member States to decide - Ban

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says it is for United Nations Member States to decide which nations fill the non-permanent seats on the Security Council, dispelling any notion that he supports a particular candidate.

“The Secretary-General is not in a position to endorse any nation for a Security Council seat. That matter is strictly in the hands of the Member States, although he wishes all candidates well in their pursuits,” stated a note issued to correspondents by his spokesperson.
Comments Mr. Ban made to the Hungarian news outlet MTI were mischaracterized, the noted said, as voicing support for Hungary's candidacy for a seat on the 15-member Council”

الرئيس يأمر بفتح تحقيق باغتيال اريغوني

"أصدر الرئيس محمود عباس، ظهر اليوم السبت، تعليماته للنائب العام، بضرورة فتح تحقيق في قضية اغتيال المتضامن الايطالي فيتوريو اريغوني وتوجيه تهمة الخيانة العظمى لمرتكبي هذه الجريمة النكراء. وقال المستشار القانوني للرئيس حسن العوري، إن 'التكييف القانوني لمثل هذه القضية هي المحاكمة بتهمة الخيانة العظمى، والتي تصل عقوبتها وفق قانون العقوبات إلى الإعدام'. وأضاف أن اغتيال المتضامن اريغوني نصير القضية الفلسطينية وأحد الفدائيين المدافعين عن حرية واستقلال شعبنا وحقه في إقامة دولته المستقلة هو بمثابة اغتيال للجندي الفلسطيني في ساحات القتال، والهدف منه هو إثارة الفتنة والنيل من صمود وقوة شعبنا"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

NATO must send in [ground] troops to save Misrata, say rebels

"Evidence that Gaddafi's forces are now targeting cluster bombs on civilian neighbourhoods of Misrata is likely to fuel calls for accelerated action from NATO, whose military actions and international sanctions against the regime have succeeded in weakening Gaddafi but have failed so far to secure a decisive breakthrough in the conflict. Human Rights Watch released photographs and testimony from its arms expert which it said confirmed witness reports that the munitions, banned by more than 100 countries, were being fired on the city. Cluster bombs explode in midair, indiscriminately throwing out dozens of high-explosive bomblets which cause widespread damage and injuries over a large area. The sub-munitions often fail to explode on impact but detonate when stepped on or picked up... Rebel fighters in Misrata have called on NATO to step up its airstrikes on loyalist positions around the city to protect the civilian population and aid the resistance... The shift by the US, Britain and France towards regime change as a goal of the NATO operation is controversial among some countries that backed UN resolution 1973, which authorised military action to protect Libya's civilian population... NATO itself is in a quandary about how to break the military deadlock in Libya. UN resolution 1973 specifically rules out a "foreign occupation force". Amid mounting calls for a NATO ground presence in Libya, politicians, lawyers and military chiefs are poring over the resolution's semantics to establish whether such a step – with its enormous political and military risks and implications – could be taken... Mohamed (a rebel spokesman) said the rebel opposition in Misrata had appealed to NATO to send ground troops to relieve the city. They were, he said, grateful for the international coalition's military intervention. "But we're surprised. And we're angry. We are angered by the lack of hits on Gaddafi's troops by NATO forces..."

Egyptian Court Formally Breaks Up Mubarak’s Party

"An Egyptian court on Saturday continued the process of dismantling Hosni Mubarak’s institutions of power when it formally dissolved the political organization that ruled the nation for decades, the National Democratic Party. In practical terms, the decision appears to simply formalize what had already occurred. Most of the party’s top leaders, including Mr. Mubarak and his son Gamal, are under arrest, awaiting interrogation; its offices around the country were burned during the days of the popular uprising; and it had already been renamed the New National Democratic Party by those who had taken it over"

U.S. and Allies Seek Possible Refuge for Qaddafi

"The Obama administration has begun seeking a country, most likely in Africa, that might be willing to provide shelter to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi if he were forced out of Libya, even as a new wave of intelligence reports suggest that no rebel leader has emerged as a credible successor to the Libyan dictator. The intense search for a country to accept Colonel Qaddafi has been conducted quietly by the United States and its allies, even though the Libyan leader has shown defiance in recent days, parading through Tripoli’s streets and declaring that he has no intention of yielding to demands that he leave his country"

Vittorio Arrigoni

"We are here to try to help these people, because we love you, we love Palestine, and we want that you have the same human rights that all the other peoples of the world have" Vittorio Arrigoni, Gaza 2008

Qaddafi Troops Fire Cluster Bombs

"Military forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi have been firing into residential neighborhoods in this embattled city with heavy weapons, including cluster bombs that have been banned by much of the world and ground-to-ground rockets, according to witnesses and survivors, as well as physical evidence. Both of these so-called indiscriminate weapons, which strike large areas with a dense succession of high-explosive munitions, by their nature cannot be fired precisely. When fired into populated areas, they place civilians at grave risk"

Gaddafi using illegal cluster bombs

"Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's troops are using cluster bombs as they battle anti-regime rebels in Misrata, Human Rights Watch said, as fighting continued in the besieged town on Saturday. The use of the bombs is illegal under international law... The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said its researchers reported the use of internationally banned cluster bomb munitions against the city"

New Hungarian constitution threatens European values

Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) in the European Parliament, along with Amnesty International, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Helsinki Committee and other international and national human rights organizations are drawing attention to the serious threats the new Hungarian constitution, due to be approved in the Hungarian Parliament on Monday 18th April, poses to widely held European values: freedom, democracy, equality, non-discrimination and respect for fundamental human rights

"Guy Verhofstadt, President of the Liberal and Democrat group in the European Parliament expressed his concern ahead of the constitution's approval: "We hold fundamental human rights to be absolute, and a wording that opens the possibility of their limitations is unacceptable for a member state that has signed up to the full body of EU law. It is in all our interests that this constitution does not become a Trojan horse for a more authoritarian political system in Hungary based on the perpetuation of one party rule. We call on the Hungarian authorities to submit the text of the new Constitution to the European Commission for evaluation and to revise any parts thereof that do not conform to EU values"

Palestinians rally to mourn kidnapped Italian activist murdered by extremists

"Hamas is expected to launch a crackdown on Islamic extremists in Gaza after the murder of an Italian peace activist who was strangled shortly after being kidnapped. Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, was killed on Thursday by the Tawheed and Jihad group, one of several extremist Islamist groups in the Gaza Strip. About 2,000 people attended a rally to honour him yesterday. His abduction is thought to have been an attempt to force Hamas to release the group's leader, Sheikh Abu Walid-al-Maqdas, a Jordanian Palestinian who was arrested last month. Tawheed and Jihad later claimed it was not responsible for the murder. Reports suggested Hamas police found his body on a mattress in an empty Gaza City apartment"

Moubarak bientôt dans un hôpital militaire, avant la prison

"La justice égyptienne a requis vendredi le transfert de l'ancien président Hosni Moubarak d'un hôpital civil vers un établissement militaire, avant la case prison, dans le cadre de l'enquête sur la répression meurtrière ayant précédé la chute du régime. Le procureur général Abdel Meguid Mahmoud a "ordonné de transférer l'ancien président Hosni Moubarak vers l'un des hôpitaux militaires" du pays, a annoncé l'agence officielle Mena. L'ancien raïs, qui se trouve actuellement dans l'hôpital civil de Charm el-Cheikh, dans le Sinaï, sera entouré de la "sécurité nécessaire", a ajouté l'agence. Sa détention préventive en milieu hospitalier est assortie d'une "obligation d'informer le parquet quand son état de santé permettra qu'il soit transféré en prison"

Leterme défend l'intervention belge en Libye

"Le Premier ministre démissionnaire Yves Leterme (CD&V) a défendu vendredi à la Chambre la décision belge de participer à l'opération internationale en Libye, où la situation semble s'enliser. "La situation en Libye peut donner l'impression d'une impasse, mais nous ne pouvons douter de la justesse de notre décision", a commenté le chef du gouvernement devant la commission mixte des Affaires étrangères et de la Défense. M. Leterme a affirmé que l'intervention de la coalition internationale avait permis d'éviter un bain de sang à Benghazi. "Sans cela, nous nous serions retrouvé avec un complexe de Srebrenica", a-t-il défendu... Plusieurs députés de l'opposition se sont toutefois inquiétés de l'évolution sur place, et de son effet sur les relations entre partenaires internationaux, divisés sur l'opportunité d'armer les rebelles ou de déployer des troupes au sol"

Palestinians still want Quartet-brokered peace with Israel

"The top Palestinian diplomat at the United Nations said the Palestinians still want the Quartet of Mideast mediators to agree on the outlines of a final peace settlement proposed by key European nations. The comments by Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN observer, came as the Palestinians are pursuing the separate strategy of asking the United Nations to recognize their independence at a vote in the annual General Assembly gathering in September. They won an important endorsement Thursday when key donor states meeting in Brussels said that the institutions developed by the Palestinian Authority are now "above the threshold for a functioning state." The donors, who give the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year, cited reports prepared by the World Bank, the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Abducted Italian activist slain in Gaza

"A pro-Palestinian activist from Italy who had been abducted by an extremist group in the Gaza Strip was found strangled to death early Friday, the first such slaying of a foreigner in the coastal territory ruled by the militant group Hamas"

UN court jails former Croatian general for war crimes

Hamas Says It Found Body of Italian Activist

"An Italian activist found dead here early Friday was strangled with a plastic cord, apparently by abductors from a radical Islamic organization inspired by Al Qaeda that said it had kidnapped him a day earlier, according to a physician who performed an autopsy"

U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings

"Even as the United States poured billions of dollars into foreign military programs and anti-terrorism campaigns, a small core of American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states. The money spent on these programs was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon. But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections"

More privileges to Israeli settlers

מתנחלים יקבלו עדיפות על פני אזרחים אחרים בקבלת רשיון נשק

"כך החליט המשרד לביטחון הפנים. תינתן עדיפות גם לתושבים בקו הירוק הגרים סמוך ליישובים פלסטיניים. מתנחלים יקבלו עדיפות בתהליכי הוצאת רישיון נשק - כך הוחלט בדיונים שהתקיימו בשבועות האחרונים במשרד לביטחון הפנים"

Personal translation:

Settlers will receive preference over other citizens in receiving arms licensing

"The Ministry of Internal Security decided that preference will also be given to those residents who live within the Green Line, close to Palestinian communities. Settlers will have priority in the process of arms licensing - this was decided through discussions held in recent weeks at the Ministry of Internal Security"

Obama: We'll fight until Gaddafi goes

Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy: no let-up in Libya until Gaddafi departs

"President Obama today signals the return of America to the forefront of the international effort in Libya, writing a joint article with David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy in which the three leaders commit their countries to pursue military action until Colonel Gaddafi has been removed. In the joint article, Obama reverses America's earlier cautious approach to the conflict – which saw the US hand control to NATO and withdraw fighter planes just days after the intervention began – and signs up his country to the more muscular intervention of his European colleagues"

U.S. Senate urges UN to rescind Goldstone's Gaza report

"The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council to rescind the Goldstone Commission's report on the Gaza war, in light of its author's expressed regret for some of its claim. Resolution 138 urges council members "to reflect the author's repudiation of the Goldstone report's central findings, rescind the report and reconsider further Council actions with respect to the report's findings"

U.S. resists calls for greater engagement in Libya

"At a summit of NATO nations that opened here Thursday, U.S. officials played down emerging rifts among allies and rebuffed calls from within NATO for its members to commit more forces to the military operation in Libya. Since the United States turned over command of the airstrikes in Libya to NATO at the end of March, there has been growing criticism from some in the coalition - particularly France and Britain - that other allies need to do more to help Libya’s rebel opposition battle Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi"

نتنياهو: سنعلن قريبا عن قتلة ايتامار.. وسنحارب السلطة لدفع الضغط الدولي

"قال رئيس الوزراء بنيامين نتانياهو الليلة إنه قد يتمكن قريباً من الإعلان عن إلقاء القبض على قتلة المستوطنين الخمسة في مستوطنة إيتامار التي حدثت الشهر الماضي. في غضون ذلك وفي الشان السياسي قال نتانياهو ان حكومته ستقف بحزم في وجه اي ضغط دولي لجهة قبول شروط السلطة الفلسطينية المتعلقة بعملية السلام واعتراف الدول الاجنبية بالدولة الفلسطينية"

Hungary Urges Balkan EU Entry

"The willingness of the European Union to embrace the fragile democracies in the Balkans is weaker than at any time in the past 15 years, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary said Thursday as he appealed for renewed commitment from the bloc’s bigger nations to its expansion. Seven years after Hungary joined the European Union, the country holds its rotating presidency, and Mr. Orban said he hoped to use the rest of his mandate, which runs through June, to ease opposition to the further enlargement of the bloc"

Britain to ban exports of execution drugs to US

"Britain said Thursday it will block the export of three lethal injection drugs to the United States and is also urging a Europe-wide ban on American sales of the drugs... Britain has urged the European Commission to expand the export ban to all European Union nations, Cable added"

Libya mission chief wants better jets

NATO commander of Libya mission pleads for specialised fighter jets

"The NATO commander in charge of the operation in Libya has issued a plea for more specialised fighter jets to join the operation if civilian casualties are to be minimised. At a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Berlin, Admiral James Stavridis asked for more "precision fighter ground-attack aircrafts" which could best identify land targets, said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary general. The US military has the world's most sophisticated warplanes, but Rasmussen insisted Stavridis had not singled out the Americans when making his plea. After its lead role in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has taken a back seat in the Libyan operation, leaving Britain and France to lead the charge against Muammar Gaddafi"

EU puts pressure on Bahrain regime

Health of Bahrain hunger striker slumps as regime comes under pressure

"Britain and the EU have heaped diplomatic pressure on Bahrain over the alleged killing of pro-democracy activists in custody, while the health of a hunger striker protesting against the beating and arrest of her dissident father has deteriorated markedly. In a meeting with interior minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, the British ambassador to Bahrain, Jamie Bowden, raised concerns over the deaths of four dissident prisoners in the last week. Catherine Ashton, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs, speaking through a spokesman also called on the Bahrain regime to immediately release all those who have been detained for peacefully expressing themselves. Ashton announced she is to visit Bahrain next week and her spokesman called on the authorities to "investigate all recent events which have resulted in loss of life and injuries"

Iran aiding Syria in crackdown on anti-Assad protests

U.S. officials: Iran aiding Syria in crackdown on anti-Assad protests

"Iran is secretly assisting Bashar Assad's repression of anti-government protests across Syria, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, adding that Tehran was also aiding Shi'te hardliners in Yemen and Bahrain"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Amnesty International on Syria

Syria: Rein in security forces after violent crackdown

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must rein in his security forces and prevent further unlawful killings, Amnesty International said today, as the coastal city of Banias remained under virtual lockdown and the army was reported to have detained all males over 15 in the nearby village of al-Baydah.

“The human rights crisis in Syria is growing by the day, almost by the hour,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The government appears intent on trying to crush all dissent using the most repressive means – shooting peaceful protesters, carrying out mass arrests and locking down areas where people have dared to call for reform. This has to stop. Syria’s President must make it stop”

The Goldstone report: a history

The UN fact-finding mission into the war in Gaza has been fraught with disagreements and accusations from the start

"More than 1,400 Gazans and 13 Israelis were killed in the Gaza war from 27 December to 18 January 2009. A UN fact-finding mission, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, was established in April 2009. Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, had declined an invitation by the UN human rights council to head the committee, saying the mandate "was not guided by human rights and international human rights law but by politics"

3 U.N. Investigators Reject Goldstone’s Shift on Gaza War

"Three members of the United Nations panel that investigated Israel’s Gaza war two years ago rejected on Thursday an essay by the fourth, former chairman Richard Goldstone, which retracted key conclusions, especially that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians"

Dispute Clouds Libya Diplomacy on Many Fronts

"As foreign ministers of the NATO alliance met here on Thursday against a backdrop of dispute over their aerial campaign in Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to play down divisions, saying the allies were pursuing the common goal of ending the four-decade government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi"

Diplomacy in high gear as NATO faces dissent on Libya

NATO foreign ministers meet in Berlin for talks on Thursday amid a growing divide within the alliance on the future of the Libya mission. Libya has also dominated a concurrent BRICS summit in China and an Arab League meeting in Cairo.

"A day after international powers in Qatar called for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down, NATO foreign ministers meet in Berlin on Thursday amid growing divisions within the military alliance over an air campaign that has so far failed to shift the balance of power on the ground"

Mubarak denies giving order to shoot Egypt protesters

"Deposed former president of Egypt Hosni Mubarak has told investigators questioning him over corruption charges that he never gave an order to shoot or to beat protesters who were demanded his ouster, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm has reported, says Israel Radio"

UN Gaza report co-authors round on Goldstone

Three mission members say calls to recant UN report disregard the rights of Palestinian and Israeli victims

"Three members of the UN fact-finding mission on the Gaza war of 2008-09 have turned on the fourth member and chair of the group, Richard Goldstone, accusing him in all but name of misrepresenting facts in order to cast doubt on the credibility of their joint report"

Gaza war report co-authors reject Goldstone's retraction

"The three co-authors of the damning United Nations report on the 2008-9 Gaza war rejected on Thursday an op-ed by the fourth member and chairman Richard Goldstone in which he retracted key conclusions of the report – in particular saying that Israel had not intentionally targeted civilians during the war. In an article in the British daily The Guardian, the three members – the Pakistani human rights lawyer Hina Jilani; Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics; and former Irish peace-keeper Desmond Travers maintained that the conclusions of the report remain valid despite Goldstone's shift and subsequent calls to retract the report in the UN"

Ouattara en appelle à la CPI

"L'ancien président ivoirien Laurent Gbagbo, arrêté lundi à Abidjan, a été transféré mercredi dans le nord du pays, tandis que son successeur Alassane Ouattara a demandé à la Cour pénale internationale d'enquêter sur des accusations de massacres visant notamment ses partisans"

Kadhafi devant la Cour pénale internationale

"Le dirigeant libyen Mouammar Kadhafi devrait être traduit devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) de La Haye pour les crimes commis sur sa population, a affirmé mercredi le ministre belge des Affaires étrangères, Steven Vanackere. Le chef de la diplomatie belge a dénoncé, dans son intervention devant le groupe de contact sur la Libye réuni à Doha (Qatar), le fait que le régime du colonel Kadhafi "continue à attaquer des civils innocents" qui contestent leur dirigeant"

Réforme du Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU

Les pays du Brics veulent une réforme du Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU

"Les dirigeants du Brésil, de l'Inde, de la Chine, de la Russie et de l'Afrique du Sud réunis à Sanya (Chine) se sont déclarés jeudi en faveur d'une réforme du Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU, mais sans proposer de liste des pays qui devraient en être les membres permanents"