With reports of kidnappings, secret prisons, tribal clashes and displaced persons on the rise in Libya, Magharebia visited Shahhat to talk with Libyan Observatory for Human Rights founder Nasser Houari. The number of prisons and illegal detention centres has increased. Now each battalion has its own special prison – some are known and others are secret. Detainees in these prisons number nearly 8,000, according to the justice minister, and local and international organisations. Torture is widespread in these prisons as a means to extract confessions.
Security forces in Bahrain have been raiding dozens of homes each day since April, arbitrarily arresting young men, and torturing them to force confessions to some crime, a local rights group said on Tuesday. Plainclothes police, some of them dressed in neon-colored vests and black ski masks, knocked down doors of houses in at least 10 villages across the tiny Gulf monarchy on Monday and arrested several people, Yousif al-Muhafda, deputy-head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), said.“In one day, there are at least 30-35 house raids,” the rights activist told Al-Akhbar.
It would seem that police brutality is not just for ordinary – powerless – citizens in China. A policewoman from central China’s Henan Province was recently arrested when visiting her daughter in the provincial capital Zhengzhou. Mistakenly accused of being sex workers, the woman and her daughter were beaten, tortured and detained for hours by local police. After media reports led to public outcry, the policemen who were responsible for arrest were suspended from active duty.
The Central Intelligence Agency conspired with dozens of governments to build a secret extraordinary rendition and detention program that spanned the globe. Extraordinary rendition is the transfer—without legal process—of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation. In the Open Society Justice Initiative’s new report, it stripped people of their most basic rights, facilitated gruesome forms of torture, at times captured the wrong people, and debased the United States’ human rights reputation world-wide.
Wu responded with vivid detail to a student’s question asking him to depict life in the laogai camps. “Every morning we would all get up and line up, with the guards at the camp pointing guns at us. They would divide us up into groups and assign us to plots of land. Within that plot of land we would pick grapes, tealeaves, cotton, and other things. We couldn’t go beyond our assigned space–there was an invisible line. Cross that line, and you’re shot.
“Every worker had a labor quota he had to fulfil. We would pack a cardboard box with grapes and weigh it to make sure we’d fulfilled the quota. They would take the box and load it onto a plane, which flew out to Japan.
THE authoritarian president of Belarus has praised his regime’s secret police as representing the “best traditions” of the Cheka, the feared forerunner of Soviet Russia’s KGB.
Alexander Lukashenko used his annual “State Security Day” address to boost that his secret police could trace its lineage back to the Cheka, which murdered and tortured thousands of people during the Red Terror campaign in post-revolutionary Russia.
Lakhdar Brahimi said the conflict could “go on for a year, two years and more” The UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has said he fears the country could “turn into a new Somalia” unless the crisis does not end soon. In an interview with the newspaper al-Hayat, Mr Brahimi warned of a scenario in which warlords and militia filled a void left by a collapsed state.
The Supreme Court on Thursday called for an end to military operations against the Baloch and for the disbanding of the ‘death squads’ of the intelligence agencies operating in Balochistan. The court also sought the civil and military leadership’s “black and white” reaction to the worsening law and order situation in the restive province and to the suggestions made by former chief minister Balochistan Sardar Akhtar Mengal.
European Union member states accused of having hosted secret CIA jails in the wake of the 9/11 attacks should come clean on the issue, said a resolution approved Tuesday by the European Parliament.
The non-binding resolution targeted Lithuania, Poland and Romania in particular.
They were urged to shed more light on allegations that they had hosted secret prisons used by the US Central Intelligence Agency for its controversial rendition programme in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The phrase laojiao (劳教) doesn’t carry the same resonance as the word gulag. But this brutal Chinese system of re-education through labor isn’t so different from the Soviet archipelago of repression where democrats and dissidents alike were expected to reform themselves through physical toil. At least 60,000 (and perhaps up to several million) inmates are currently toiling in these Chinese camps, making the People’s Republic home to the most extensive such network in the world. Prisoners include veteran NGO workers, writers, petitioners aiming to publicize official wrongdoing and members of banned religious groups. Most chillingly, China, which began re-education through labor back in 1957, allows for such incarceration for up to two years without trial.
It’s a penal system that requires no courts. Instead, China’s police can send someone to a labor camp for up to four years with no judicial process. There, individuals usually end up as slave labor, making dirt-cheap goods for China’s export economy.
Now, after recent uproar against China’s “re-education through labor” (laojiao) system, authorities are taking another look. On Monday, state-run China National Radio reported that four cities across the country are testing a system to replace labor camps. It’s called “education and correction of violations.” It’s being rolled out in Gansu, Shandong, Jiangsu and Henan provinces.
Re-education through labour was designed in the 1950s to suppress counter-revolutionaries and bad elements, and some people still regard it as a useful means of ensuring social stability. For the police, it is an effective instrument for dealing not only with petty criminals, but also with political dissidents, religious adherents, petitioners and other troublemakers, and it enables them to bypass the criminal justice system.
However, laojiao is not legislated for by the National People’s Congress, but is underpinned by various regulations issued by administrative bodies, including the State Council and the Ministry of Public Security, which serves to underscore its arbitrary nature. In 2007, the China Daily estimated that there were 310 re-education centres in operation.
Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi have sentenced to labor camp two petitioners who took part in the annual July 1 demonstrations in Hong Kong, their relatives said on Tuesday.
Song Ningsheng and Zeng Jiuzi were handed the one-year sentences, which can be processed administratively with no need for a trial, as a punishment for their involvement in the demonstrations, during which tens of thousands of people each year vent their frustrations against the authorities in the former British colony.
The most visible face of the North Korean state is the Ministry of People’s Security, the national police force. The study estimated that the ministry had 210 000 personnel, whose duties included routinely stopping citizens for documents.
The secret police benefit across North Korea from neighbourhood committees, often consisting of housewives, which meet weekly and send informants to both the department and the ministry, the report said.
State Security Department officers in each district “have all official documents regarding the residents, so they know everything about an individual’s” life and history, a former agent was quoted as saying.
It is the sort of scene that belongs in a film noir, not a 21st-century democracy: an uncooperative suspect being injected with a dose of “truth serum” in an attempt to elicit a confession. But some detectives in
India still swear by so-called narcoanalysis despite India’s highest court ruling that it was was not only unreliable but also “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.
The technique is back in the news after officers from India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) asked a judge for permission to administer Sodium Pentothal to a high-profile Indian politician and his financial adviser embroiled in a corruption case.
Iran’s issues, the operation in Afghanistan, the establishment of military bases in Uzbekistan will be discussed at the upcoming meeting with U.S military and diplomatic leadership in Tashkent.
The U.S. has sought military cooperation for a long time with Uzbekistan because of the strategic and geopolitical positions of the country. Uzbekistan’s obligations as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) were one of the main factors that can prevent it and the creation of U.S bases in the Republic.
Russian fighter jets are conducting an increasing number of training flights over Armenia, a military spokesman said Saturday, sending a clear warning that Russia could intervene at any moment should violence escalate further in the territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The military spokesman, Col. Igor Gorbul, told the Interfax news agency that Russian fighter jets stationed at a base in Armenia have conducted about 300 training flights since the beginning of 2012, and have increased the number of flying hours by more than 20 percent from last year.
Human Rights Watch yesterday condemned the Urban Management Law Enforcement agency, known as the chengguan, and urged Beijing to reform or even abolish the force.
The force, nicknamed X-Men by the media, has been accused of rampant brutality and illegal detentions for even minor offences.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a 76-page report documenting abuses by the chengguan.
“In numerous recent Chinese state media editorials, the chengguan have been … derided as law-breaking X-Men,” the group said in the report, entitled “Beat Him, Take Everything Away”.
Congressional hearings and recently-introduced legislation have put the spotlight on the issue of U.S. taxpayer-funded labor trafficking, and the abuse of third-country nationals overseas by U.S. military contractors. One of the leading associations of U.S. overseas contractors has devoted the latest issue of its journal to the topic of trafficking – a sign that the contractor community is well-acquainted with the topic.
“The U.S. Congress’s newfound interest in addressing the problem of labor trafficking is certainly welcome, given that the issue has long plagued U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq,” writes Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association, in the May/June issue of its Journal of International Peace Operations.
The BBC has been told by doctors that Uzbekistan is running a secret programme to sterilise women – and has talked to women sterilised without their knowledge or consent.
Adolat has striking looks, a quiet voice and a secret that she finds deeply shameful.
She knows what happened is not her fault, but she cannot help feeling guilty about it.
Adolat comes from Uzbekistan, where life centres around children and a big family is the definition of personal success. Adolat thinks of herself as a failure.
“What am I after what happened to me?” she says as her hand strokes her daughter’s hair – the girl whose birth changed Adolat’s life.
More than 150,000 North Koreans are incarcerated in a Soviet-style, hidden gulag despite the communist government’s denial it holds political prisoners, a human rights group reported Tuesday.
The U.S.-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea said it based its report on interviews with 60 former prisoners and guards. It includes satellite images of what are described as prison labor camps and penitentiaries.
The report documents the alleged incarceration of entire families, including children and grandparents for the “political crimes” of other family members, and infanticide and forced abortions of female prisoners who illegally crossed into China and got pregnant by men there, and were then forcibly repatriated to North Korea.
Hunger, unheated barracks, beatings and regular outbreaks of disease: it could be life in a penal colony. But in this case, it describes the existence of a fresh military conscript in Tajikistan.
The brutal conditions are the reason many young Tajik men go to great lengths to evade country’s biannual military drafts.
“Many draftees emigrate, while those that have the means enter university because students are exempt until the end of their studies,” said Khursheda Rahimova, a lawyer for Amparo, a legal- support non-governmental organisation based in Khujand that monitors the draft.
The Diamond – an elite special forces unit in Belarus – is the personal security detail of President Alexander Lukashenko.
In a secret location outside the country, a former Diamond officer, Igor Makar, spoke to EUobserver about his experiences and why he fled to seek refuge in the EU.
He said the Lukashenko system has turned rank-and-file police and the state security service, the KGB, into “criminals.”
“The state itself makes criminals out of the police because they are entirely dependent on the state and carry out any order [they are given]. If the order is not fulfilled, then you will be fired and you can no longer feed your family,” he explained.
Professor Arthur Caplan heads the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. He said on Tuesday that China’s Vice Minister of Health Huang Jiefu may have confirmed what some rights group have long suspected—that the Chinese regime has been harvesting organs from imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners as part of the regime’s persecution of the spiritual practice.
Huang acknowledged last week that executed prisoners remained the primary source of organs for the country’s expanding organ transplant industry.
[Professor Arthur Caplan, Director of the Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania]:
“I found it startling, because no one has actually said anything from that official source that high up about the use of prisoners.”
China is set to pass a landmark criminal procedure law to provide more rights to detainees, including rendering all evidence collected under torture unusable, granting suspects immediate access to a lawyer, and obliging authorities to tell families within 24 hours of a relative’s detention.
But for those held in China’s so-called ‘black jails’ – secret detention centres where people are kept without charge and without having been formally arrested – what is written in law can be very different to what happens on the ground.
In their home country – Bangladesh or the Philippines or India – these workers are told they can earn a fortune in Dubai if they pay a large upfront fee. When they arrive, their passports are taken from them, and they are told their wages are a tenth of the rate they were promised.
They end up working in extremely dangerous conditions for years, just to pay back their initial debt. They are ringed-off in filthy tent-cities outside Dubai, where they sleep in weeping heat, next to open sewage. They have no way to go home. And if they try to strike for better conditions, they are beaten by the police.
Schools in Somalia are now virtually empty as children, some as young as 10 years are abducted and forced to serve as ‘soldiers or “wives” of al-shabab forces fighting against the government
First it was in Liberia. Later it spread to Sierra Leone. Now, war-ravaged Somalia is the place where the innocence of young children, some as young as 10, are denied by forcing them to become child soldiers to prosecute al-Shabab vicious, long-drawn battles with the central government in the East African country.
Human Rights Watch, HRW, said entire classrooms of Somali children were now being forced to fight for Islamist militants. Majority of the children being forced to join al-Shabab are between 14 and 17 years old, but some are as young as 10.
Mexico, Pakistan and Egypt topped a recent list of the world’s most brutal police forces. The blog Top Criminal Justice Schools, which details criminal justice programs across the world, listed Egypt ahead of Russia, North Korea and Iran as being more brutal.
“People on the right side of the legal system aren’t safe either: even human rights lawyers have reportedly been attacked and beaten up while attempting to visit their clients. The causes of such brutality are deeply rooted: before the Arab Spring the police were an instrument of repression for the old regime, and many officers have evidently found it difficult to shake off old habits,” wrote the site on Egypt’s police violence.
he spread of violence came after some 30 Tibetans sheltered in a monastery after being wounded when Chinese police fired into a crowd of protesters in neighboring Luhuo county, a Tibetan monk said Tuesday. He said military forces had surrounded the building.
The monk would not give his name out of fear of government retaliation, and the Draggo monastery could no longer be reached by phone Wednesday.
The counties have been tense for some time, and at least 16 Buddhist monks, nuns and other Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest in the past year.
In 2007 matters blew up, literally, when a Chinese oil exploration crew and their Ethiopian military bodyguards were attacked by fighters from the ONLF with a half a dozen Chinese nationals amongst the hundred or more Ethiopian soldiers killed in the attack.
Since then the Chinese have been much lower key about their plans to continue energy exploitation in the Ogaden.
2011 saw reports of Chinese oil company personnel in Ethiopian army uniforms doing exploration work back where all the trouble broke out in 2007 and once again in the midst of fighting with the ONLF.
Cheon Seong-whun, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, noted that just because power is seen moving closer to the party does not mean the military’s significance will be reduced.
While the “military-first” policy is to control the armed forces directly, the more weight on the party means controlling the military through the party’s grip, he said.
“It can be interpreted as a change in how the regime manages the military but it does not mean that North Korea will be discarding the military-centered policy,” Cheon said.
Government-backed death squads have killed more than 300 members of Burundi’s former rebel group and opposition supporters in covert operations over the past five months, a rights group said on Tuesday.
The group said the Central African country’s regime and its proxies have waged a systematic campaign of extrajudicial killings against the former rebels, who went back to the bush after pulling out of 2010 polls over fraud claims.
“A devilish killing machine is targeting opposition activists,” said Onesphore Nduwayo, the head of Government Action Observatory, a coalition of civil society groups.
This is the lesson for those in Syria who are struggling to bring about democratic rule. The evidence is clear. If you live in an Arab country whose dictator is a client of the Americans, the US will do everything in its power to suppress your revolt, and if you succeed despite US efforts, the US will sponsor the counter-revolution against you directly and indirectly through its local allies, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel, but now also Qatar. This of course applies to the situations in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, Jordan, Oman, and in Saudi Arabia itself. If you happen to live in a country whose dictator, though friendly to the West, maintains an independent line on foreign policy or at least a line that cannot always be guaranteed to serve Western interests
Syria’s precarious sectarian balance makes it prone to the threat of civil war. A minority Alawite elite rules over a majority Sunni Muslim population and sizable minorities of Christians and Kurds. The regime has maintained a 40-year grip on power through heavy use of divide-and-rule tactics, while favouring the Alawite minority for high-level military and political positions.
Protesters who took to the streets in mid-March in a quest for greater political freedoms have been openly calling for regime change and even Assad’s execution. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of mainly low-level Sunni soldiers have defected from the Alawite-led army.
Thousands of people still toil in forced labor in Brazil, despite government attempts to curtail the practice, the International Labour Organization said in a new report.
Since 1995, more than 40,000 people have been rescued from forced labor, citing field reports from the poor, rural areas in the country’s northeast and interviews with 121 people who were released between 2006 to 2007.
The workers were found to be mostly black males who grew up in poverty, began working as children and had little formal education, said the ILO report.
British intelligence believes the capture and rendition of two top Libyan rebel commanders, carried out with the involvement of MI6, strengthened al-Qaida and helped groups attacking British forces in Iraq, secret documents reveal.
The papers, discovered in the British ambassador’s abandoned residence in Tripoli, raise new and damaging questions over Britain’s role in the seizure and torture of key opponents of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Late last month, the Hindu newspaper published an interview with Parveena Ahangar, the chairperson of an organization with one of the strangest and saddest names: the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons in Kashmir. The persons who “disappeared,” now numbering in the thousands, were all Kashmiri youths. Picked up by the police or the Indian Army over the last two decades, they were never seen again, and remain alive in public memory only because of the collective will of their grieving parents.
Lately, Meles Zenawi, the dictator in Ethiopia, has been rounding up dissidents, journalists, opposition party political leaders and members under a diktat known as “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009”.
The “anti-terrorism law” is a masterpiece of ambiguity, unintelligibility, obscurity, superficiality, unclarity, uncertainty, inanity and vacuity. It defines “terrorism” with such vagueness and overbreadth that any act, speech, statement, and even thought, could be punished under its sweeping provisions.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is releasing political prisoners in hope of getting loans from the IMF. After the unexpected pardons over recent weeks, only about a dozen political prisoners remain in Belarusian jails. Among them are Lukashenko’s rivals in the December 2010 presidential elections, serving up to six years of hard labour.
Insiders warn that this is not a thaw, just a new step in the regime’s strategy. One of the released dissidents, Alexander Atroshchanko, has said prison authorities were openly calling the inmates “hostages” and “commodities” to be traded for loans.
Six months after the Syrian uprising began it seems clear that peaceful protests aimed at overthrowing the regime and ousting President Bashar al-Assad have failed. With no prospect of meaningful national dialogue in sight, the conflict now appears to be shifting into a new, infinitely more hazardous phase: the weaponisation of the revolution. Syria is moving inexorably from Arab spring to an ever darker, dangerous winter of discontent.
The Yemeni regime’s indiscriminate machine-gunning of demonstrators in the capital, Sana’a, and the opposition’s furious reaction, suggests the country’s eight-month-old crisis may be coming to a head. But the interests of two key outside players, the US and Saudi Arabia, remain focused more on strategic security and terrorism concerns than on spreading democracy and prosperity in the Arabian peninsula.
The US stepped up pressure last week for an end to the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, urging the regime to accept a previously formulated political transition deal within seven days. The plan, mediated by the Saudis and other members of the Gulf Co-operation Council, calls for a government of national unity, presidential elections and a new constitution.
But Saleh, holed up in Saudi Arabia after an assassination attempt in June, has so far resisted the plan’s key provision – that he step down and hand over power to his vice-president in exchange for immunity.
The RAB, composed of elite members of the army and navy, was formed in March 2004 to target the armed criminal gangs and extortion rackets operating in many parts of Bangladesh. Its officers, clad in pitch-black uniforms with bandannas and mirror shades, soon became a common—and imposing—fixture on the streets of Dhaka, earning a reputation for ruthless efficiency. Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of the local human rights group Odhikar, says RAB committed its first extrajudicial killing on the fifth day of its operations in 2004. ‘Since then they are operating with impunity,’ he says.
According to a recent report by Amnesty International, the force has been responsible for the unlawful killing of ‘at least’ 700 people since its inception. Despite promises by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to halt extrajudicial killings when she came to power in early 2009, Amnesty claims at least 200 deaths have occurred on her watch.
China is coming under increasing pressure from lawyers inside and outside the country to abandon plans that would allow the detention of suspects in secret locations.
The proposed change to the law, revealed last month, would mean that police aren’t obliged to advise family members where a suspect is being detainedover national security, terrorism or major corruption allegations ‘if it could hinder their inquiries.’ But such a broad drawing of the law would, in many eyes, be open to considerable abuse, especially against the backdrop of what is China’s biggest crackdown on activists in years.
Such worries will have been compounded with the revelations by a rights lawyer, who has just spoken about his time in detention.
The South China Morning Post reports that Jiang Tianyong suffered a ‘combination of physical and mental abuse, relentless brainwashing and threats’ that initially kept him from talking about his two months in detention. He was reportedly held on February 19 and severely beaten for two nights.
Murder, torture, illegal taxes, theft and the gang rape of a teenage boy are among the abuses by government-backed militias, and the NATO-funded Afghan local police, documented in the 102-page report, “Just Don’t Call It a Militia.”
The groups were formed in response to Afghanistan’s downward security spiral, aiming to capitalise on a basic instinct to protect local communities — much like Iraq’s Awakening Council that helped turn the tide of the Iraq war.
But a lack of training, vetting, oversight and accountability means armed groups are adding another worry to the lives of ordinary Afghans already struggling with a war that this year has claimed a record number of civilian lives.
“Kabul and Washington need to make a clean break from supporting abusive and destabilising militias to have any hope of a viable, long-term security strategy,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Poor governance, corruption, human rights abuses, and impunity for government-affiliated forces all are drivers of the insurgency.”
The Vietnamese government calls it labor therapy, a program to move drug addicts off the streets and into treatment centers, where they process cashew nuts, sew garments, weave baskets — any work that might help them get back on their feet.
But a report released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch says that labor therapy is nothing more than sweatshop servitude in the guise of a social program.
Drug addicts are paid little or nothing for their work and are subject to beatings with truncheons, electric shocks and solitary confinement, says the report, which was based on interviews with 34 people who were detained as part of the program. Some of the products made in the treatment centers are destined for export to the United States and Europe.
“Forced labor and physical abuse are not an adjunct to drug dependency treatment in Vietnam,” the report says. “Rather, they are central to how the centers operate.”