Prosecuting Israel for war crimes

September 5, 2009

The Real News, 4 September 2009

Deputy Prosecutor of Int’l Criminal Court discusses the Palestinian Authority appeal to join the court.


Press Statement: Third Mission of the International CHT Commission

August 23, 2009

International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission
Bangladesh Secretariat: 10/11, Iqbal Road, Mohammadpur, Dhaka 1207
chtcomm@gmail.com

Press statement

The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) appreciates that after 12 years since the signing of the CHT Accord some important measures have been taken to implement the Accord. These include specifically the setting up of the National Committee for Implementation of the CHT Accord, re-establishment of the Land Commission and the Task Force for CHT Refugee Rehabilitation Affairs, the cancellation of plantation leases that have not been properly developed, and the withdrawal of temporary military camps. This has generated a sense of momentum which the CHTC appreciates and encourages. The CHTC congratulates the Prime Minister on her statement on the occasion of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Day in support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This statement encourages not only the indigenous peoples in Bangladesh, but also all over the world.

Between 11-16 August members of the CHTC visited all three districts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Commission members met with government representatives, the three brigade commanders and their zone commanders, senior police officers, politicians and civil society leaders, including both Pahari and Bengali representatives.

During meetings with the brigade commanders and their staff the CHTC members were informed that they saw no security risks with compliance to the government policy on the withdrawal of the camps. This view was confirmed by the police and local authorities.

In meetings with all parties the land issue was presented as the main concern. The CHTC therefore considers it of utmost importance that the Land Commission becomes fully activated and funded, including its function as a tribunal to settle land disputes, which should be disposed of before the cadastal survey is undertaken.

The CHTC is disappointed, however, at the rate of progress towards activation of the Land Commission; the Commission’s lack of progress on the determination of disputed land claims; its apparent decision to hold the cadastral survey beforehand and the absence of proposals for electing the Hill District Councils.

The CHT Commission hopes that the Land Commission will establish a database of all disputed land claims, providing the claimants with forms on which they can supply the information required for this purpose. This might be the subject of an approach to international agencies such as UNDP for financial and technical assistance. Because of the complexity of overlapping titles on the same land plots granted in different circumstances, a definitive set of rules should be developed by the Land Commission to rank the relative priority of different kinds of land titles. For those whose claims to land are disallowed, the government should draft rehabilitation measures for discussion with community leaders.

The CHTC was alerted to the necessity of activating and properly funding the Task Force for CHT Refugee Rehabilitation Affairs. Moreover, there is a need for a speedy development of government guidelines for the interaction and division of labour between the Task Force and the Land Commission.

The CHTC further urges continuing measures to enhance access to justice within the CHT, including the activation of legal aid committees.

It is imperative that elections are held for the CHT Regional Council and Hill District Councils and the CHT Commission recommends that alternative electoral methods are explored promptly.

The CHTC has collected a large amount of information including documents given to us by Bengalis and Paharis which remains to be analysed, and as usual will be producing a report on this visit utilising these data We have a further international visit planned for the coming year.

We are convinced that the vast majority of the people of all communities in the CHT are determined to maintain the peace and harmony of the region, and that they will cooperate with the processes that are essential for the purpose. Peace is an essential human right, and all the efforts of both government and people should be devoted to its achievement.

List of meetings:

Civil society in Bandarban
Tribal Muslim Welfare Association
Hill District Council Chairman, Bandarban
Deputy Commissioner, Bandarban
Brigade Commander, Bandarban
Civil society in Rangamati
CHT Regional Council Chairman
Jana Sanghaty Samity (JSS)
United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF)
CHT Forest and Land Committee
Hill District Council Chairman, Rangamati
Deputy Commissioner, Rangamati
Brigade Commander, Rangamati
Civil society in Khagrachori
Brigade Commander, Khagrachori
Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina
Finance Minister, Abul Mal Abdul Muhith
Foreign Minister, Dipu Moni
CHT Land Commission Chairman, Khademul Islam Chowdhury
Parliamentary Standing Committee on CHT and Cultural Minister, Promod Mankin
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh
CHT Minister, Dipankar Talukder
Law Commission, Justice Mohammad Abdur Rashid
European Commission
Donor de-briefing meeting


Nuclear threats and double standards

June 8, 2009

The Real News, June 8, 2009

Part # 1

Gustavo Zlauvinen, the IAEA Representative to United Nations, on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Part # 2

Gustavo Zlauvinen of the IAEA on Iran, Israel and nuclear weapons

Part # 3

Zlauvinen: The double standard of Israeli nuclear weaponization and international distrust in Iran


Peace be upon Barack: Commentary on Obama’s speech to the Muslim World

June 8, 2009

The Real News, June 5, 2009

Pepe Escobar: Commentary on Obama’s speech to the Muslim World.

Fawzi: the speech was brilliant but now let’s see what happens on the ground

Israeli and Palestinian commentators, analysts, and politicians respond to Obama’s Cairo speech

Further resources:

Phyllis Bennis: Changing the Discourse: First Step toward Changing the Policy?

Robert Fisk: Most Arabs Know This Speech Will Make Little Difference

Robert Fisk: Police state is the wrong venue for Obama’s speech

Ali Abunimah: Obama in Cairo: A Bush in sheep’s clothing?

The Real News: Middle East reacts to Obama

Hamas Leader to Obama: Deeds, Not Words

AlJazeera: Frost over the World – Reaction to Obama’s speech

Obama Appeals to Muslim World for “New Beginning”

John Pilger: What Barack Obama didn’t say

Stephen Zunes: How Not to Support Democracy in Middle East



UN Human Rights Council Blasts US for Killing Civilians, Drone Attacks and Using Mercenaries

June 5, 2009

The UN group is also calling on the US to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate crimes by US officials.

by Jeremy Scahill, RebelReports, June 4, 2009

 

The UN Human Rights Council has issued a report blasting the US for killing civilians, violating human rights and creating a “zone of impunity” for unaccountable private contractors to fight its wars. The UN group also criticized the US use of drones to attack Pakistan. The report, released this week was authored by Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. 

 

“First, the government has failed to track and make public the number of civilian casualties, or the conditions under which deaths occurred,” he said. “Second, the military justice system fails to provide ordinary people, including U.S. citizens and families of Iraqi and Afghan victims, basic information on the status of investigations into civilian casualties or prosecutions resulting therefrom.”

Alston called on the US to establish a national commission to investigate the killing of civilians and for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to criminally investigate government officials accused of crimes.

“The government has failed to effectively investigate and punish lower-ranking soldiers for such deaths, and has not held senior officers responsible,” Alston said. “Worse, it has effectively created a zone of impunity for private contractors and civilian intelligence agents by only rarely investigating and prosecuting them.”

On the issue of drone attacks, Alston said, “Targeted killings carried out by drone attacks on the territory of other states are increasingly common and remain deeply troubling… The U.S. government should disclose the legal basis for such killings and identify any safeguards designed to reduce collateral civilian casualties and ensure that the government has targeted the correct person.”

 

unhumanrightscouncil_alston

 

UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Philip Alston in Nairobi in February. (AFP/File/Tony Karumba)

 

According to Reuters:

 

U.S. diplomat Lawrence Richter objected to Alston’s remarks, saying the U.N. investigator did not have the mandate to cover military and intelligence operations related to armed conflict.

Richter told the Human Rights Council that the United States has an extensive legal framework to respond to unlawful killings and is doing all it can to provide information about the deaths that occur in its armed conflicts.

Alston, who is an Australian law professor, visited the United States last year, before Obama became president.


The Continuing Occupation of Iraq

May 13, 2009

Big Noise Tactical, May 12, 2009

A history of the Iraq War in 5 minutes.


A New Political Moment for Empire?

April 1, 2009

Institute for Policy Studies, March 24, 2009

John Feffer of Foreign Policy In Focus interviews professor Stephen Zunes about the role of the U.S. in the world under the Obama administration. Will the U.S. empire roll back or continue on?

Further resources:

Empire roundtable

US Military Footprint