Trump: The U.S. Transition From Democracy to Authoritarianism

In Upper New York Bay there stands the colossal Statue of Liberty, a universal symbol of freedom. She is also the Mother of Immigrants, embodying hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life in America. She stirs the desire for liberty in people all over the world. She represents the United States itself. However… In the last few weeks, the flame of freedom from her torch has started to flicker.ocaso sol estatua libertad simbolismo.jpgIn just two weeks, President Trump’s unlawful decisions and his unprecedented pressures on judges to rule in his favour have shaken the fundamentals of U.S. Democracy. For many, this indicates that Trump has hidden plans to turn the U.S. authoritarian to gain power. However, it won’t be possible without dominating the Supreme Court.supreme-courtThe U.S. Supreme Court is the final court of appeal and final expositor of the Constitution of the United States. It marks the boundaries of authority between state and nation, state and state, and government and citizen. It has the jurisdiction to determine whether Trump’s decisions are unlawful or not.

how-scalias-death-could-affect-major-supreme-court-cases-in-the-2016-term-1455500687480-facebookJumbo.png

The Supreme Court is composed of nine membersfour of which are currently Republican, and the other four liberal. The recent nomination of Neil Gorsuch (a Republican) to sit on the Supreme Court has set off all alarms. His presidency would tilt the balance for Republicans, and it could help Trump to accumulate an absolute power.

President Trump’s crusade to dominate courts and judges from all over the U.S. started when Judge James Robart, of the Federal District Court in Seattle, issued a temporary restraining Trump’s executive order to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. In response, Trump increased his pressures on Judges until days before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a temporary suspension.Trump said:

pantallazo-2017-02-09-12-21-35

pantallazo-2017-02-09-12-21-58

pantallazo-2017-02-09-12-20-52

pantallazo-2017-02-11-11-02-44

Another indication of the U.S. transition into an authoritarian state is so-called alternative facts. Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer suggested that the U.S. government could “sometimes disagree” with real facts presented by the Media.

“Sometimes we can disagree with the facts,” Sean Spicer said.

“Trump’s team is offering  alternative facts to media reports,”  Kellyanne Conway said.

Trump started his attacks against the mainstream media during the last presidential campaign. Back then, several outlets plotted with Clinton and his aides to help her to win the election. Trump is now using it to fabricate stories to convince citizens that the only honest information comes from government sources.

As if this was not enough, on February 1, Republicans voted successfully to change the Congress rules to elect nominees without Democrats. It happened days later; Trump suggested them to “go nuclear” if Democrats tried to halt any of his decisions. Trump added:

“If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,””Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect,” he said of Gorsuch, a federal circuit court judge. “So I would say, it’s up to Mitch, but I would say go for it.”

As we can see, there are many indicators that Trump’s government has initiated the U.S. transition from democracy to authoritarianism. However, to dissipate doubts, one must compare Trump’s decisions with dictators from other countries. All authoritarian states share in common an underlying structure based in the re-centralization of power. The following list describes some basic structure of a dictatorship:

1.Little or no freedom of speech
2.No freedom to hold meetings without the approval of the government.
3.No freedom of movement-individuals needs documents/internal passports to move around inside the country.
4.No freedom to travel abroad.
5.No independent justice system.
6.Promote alternative facts and censor the Mainstream media.
7.Any opposition to the regime is punished.
8.Change rules of government’s institutions.

It is evident then that President Trump has already implemented several basic structures from the list to do a U-turn into an authoritarian state. He has started his crusade against the media, changed the rules of the Congress, attempted to end with the neutrality of the judicial system and violated the U.S. Constitution. However, while the flame of the freedom of the Statue of Liberty is still burning, there will be hope and citizens, union workers and organisations will have the last word…

Advertisements

Netanyahu: The Criminal Who Is Still Free

During the last decade, Netanyahu has been responsible for numerous violations of human rights, war crimes, sexual abuses of children and the death of thousands of innocent Palestinians. For years, the international community led, by the U.S. has ignored Netanyahu’s crimes. However, his recidivism of criminal acts against Palestinians on a regular basis has led several countries and international organisations to condemn Israeli’s war crimes and violation of human rights. The increasing indignation among world MP’s with Netanyahu’s government may soon trigger a prosecution against him at the International Court. Here are some of his atrocities:

-WAR CRIMES

In 2014, Prime Minister Netanyahu launched the Operation Protective Edge based on a 50 days war in Gaza. During the operation, Israel indiscriminately killed over 1500 innocent people, including children. More than 20,000 homes were reduced to rubble or rendered uninhabitable. However, the most shocking event was the assassination of four children of the same family who were playing football on the beach. The Israeli government alleged that they thought they were terrorists.

It’s a shame they didn’t identify them as just kids with all the advanced technology they had been using,” “I don’t know what justification they will use for what they did, but our boys are now gone,” the uncle said.

During 50 days of attacks, Israeli forces wreaked massive death and destruction on the Gaza Strip, killing close to 2100 civilians, more than 500 of whom were children,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

NUMBERS:

Palestinians killed: 2,139
Palestinian children killed: 525
Israeli soldiers killed: 64
Israeli civilians killed: 6
Israeli children killed: 1
Palestinians wounded: 11,000
Palestinian children wounded: 3,000
Gaza residents displaced: Up to 500,000
Homes destroyed in Gaza: 20,000


-Israel’s Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law.

For years, Israel has been occupying Palestinian territories pursuing its expansion and Palestinian ethnic cleansing. Since Trump became the U.S. president, the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has accelerated the expansion of the existing Israeli settlements by authorising the construction of 5.500 new houses in the West Bank. For that to happen, often the Israeli military forces evict Palestinian families from their houses.

In 2016, the UN adopted a resolution reiterating its demand that Israel immediately ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. The resolution was approved with 24 votes in favour and the U.S abstention.

-The Siege of Gaza

Since 2007, around 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza strip have been living under a land, sea and air closure blockade imposed by Israel. The impossibility of obtaining external medicines, food, drinkable water and other goods has triggered a humanitarian crisis without precedent. Thousands of Palestinians with serious illnesses are condemned to die due to the impossibility of going abroad to receive their pertinent treatments. As some officials recognised, “the purpose of implementing this blockade is to put Palestinians on a diet”

-Sexual violence against, and torture of, children:

During 2016, the number of cases of Israeli torture of children significantly increased. Often permanent physical disabilities were caused, including amputations. There were over 1300 children arrested and there are still 300 of them in Israeli jails. Around 40% of them were or will be sexually abused by police officers or military men. This degrading Israeli treatment of children violates international human rights law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Israeli security forces have used unnecessary force to arrest or detain Palestinian children as young as 11. Security forces have choked children, thrown stun grenades at them, beaten them in custody, threatened and interrogated them without the presence of parents or lawyers, and failed to let their parents know their whereabouts.”

“Israeli forces’ mistreatment of Palestinian children is at odds with its claim to respect children’s rights. As Israel’s largest military ally, the US, should press hard for an end to these abusive practices and for reforms,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director.

-The defence for Children International concluded:

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that annually systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts that lack fundamental rights to a fair trial.”


-Recruitment of Palestinian children as human shields by Israeli armed forces.

Since 2004, DCIP has documented numerous cases where Israeli forces attempted to recruit Palestinian Children as informants. They are recruited to monitor the activities of people living in their community and pass this information onto Israeli Forces.

The International humanitarian law explicitly prohibits parties to a conflict from directing “the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objects from attacks or to shield military operations.”

During Operation Protective Edge in July and August 2014, DCIP reported one incident where Israeli soldiers forced a 16 year-old-Palestinian to search for tunnels for five days. During that time, he was physically assaulted and deprived of food and sleep.

All these crimes and violations of international law represent a small sample of Netanyahu’s atrocities. Unless the international community proceeds to prosecute him at the International Court, Netanyahu will continue threatening thousands of families, women and children on a regular basis.

The international community will not be able to avoid taking action if Israel continues its persecution against Palestinians. Otherwise, it could create a bad precedent, which could be applied for populist emergent leaders to legitimize their illegitimate actions. For that reason, the international community will sooner or later take action to prosecute Netanyahu. But the issue is when? Palestinians do not have much more time to wait for. They struggle between life and death on a daily basis. They do not know if the next day Netanyahu will order an attack and they will die. People from the world are entitled to take action and push their MP’s to halt these sorts of atrocities as soon as possible.

Every second, day, week, month counts… Palestinian lives depend on you and the international community actions. People’s lives depend upon it.

By Josep

Manning Will Be Released on May 17

On Tuesday, Obama announced the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence from 35 years to 7 years but refused to pardon her. Chelsea who has already served 6 years in prison will now be released On May 7.

Manning was convicted by a court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offences after disclosing to WikiLeaks more than 700,000 sensitive military documents. The most controversial archive was a classified video depicting the assassination of over a dozen people in Baghdad (Iraq), including two Reuters journalists. Manning was initially sent to solitary confinement for nearly a year to push her to implicate other people on the release of 700,000 documents. However, she never implicated anyone else other than herself.

Despite numerous experts concluding that solitary confinement may induce irreparable serious mental health problems, the prison authorities have continued sending Chelsea to solitary confinement on a regular basis, including one time as a punishment for attempting suicide. She has also been tortured and denigrated.

The UN has repeatedly tried to send a representative to meet Chelsea in prison, but the U.S. authorities have always warned them that due to extraordinary circumstances, the meeting would be fully monitored. The UN has always refused such conditions by alleging that the lack of privacy is a violation of human rights procedures, and is unacceptable. Human rights organisations have often warned the U.S. government that the Manning conviction was illegal and unfair.The United Nations concluded that Chelsea’s treatment in prison was cruel and inhumane.

“The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence,” Mendez UN investigator.

Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said:

Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and as a result, her own human rights have been violated by the US government for years. “President Obama was right to commute her sentence, but it is long overdue. It is unconscionable that she languished in prison for years while those allegedly implicated by the information she revealed still haven’t been brought to justice.”

Human Rights Watch general counsel Dinah PoKempner stated:

The aggressive prosecution and harsh sentencing of Manning not only contrasts sharply with the total impunity of former senior US officials for torture and related abuses but also far exceeds the sentences most democratic countries impose for public leaks of sensitive information.” Soldiers are promised fair treatment and a speedy trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). However, PVT Manning was arrested in April of 2010, and waited in pre-trial confinement for over three years before her trial finally began.”

OBAMA WILL BE REMEMBERED as the president who released Chelsea Manning. However, he has not acknowledged the illegality of her imprisonment, and Chelsea has already wasted 6 years of her life in prison being tortured on a regular basis just because she revealed war crimes committed by the Army. Obama should not only forgive her, but he should also show his gratefulness for Chelsea’s heroic act.

WHY SHOULD CHELSEA MANNING HAVE  NEVER BEEN PROSECUTED? 

Chelsea Manning revealed war crimes committed by the U.S. Army for the public interest.In doing so, she wanted to expose the illegal operations conducted by the Army in Iraq. Chelsea also wanted the international community to open an independent investigation to determine who was behind the crimes. However, she was quickly criminalised and prosecuted by the government. Numerous organisations concluded that she was illegally detained. For that reason, she should never have been prosecuted.

NOTE: Governments should promote the revelation of war crimes committed by the army to make sure that there is no any irregularity and there is more transparency.

WHY IS THE COMMUTATION OF HER SENTENCE NOT THE SAME AS A PARDON ?

In the federal system, commutation of sentence and pardon are different forms of executive clemency, which is a broad term that applies to the President’s constitutional power to exercise leniency toward persons who have committed federal crimes.

A commutation of sentence reduces a sentence, either totally or partially, that is then being served, but it does not change the fact of conviction, imply innocence, or remove civil disabilities that apply to the convicted person as a result of the criminal conviction. A commutation may include remission (release) of the financial obligations that are imposed as part of a sentence, such as payment of a fine or restitution. A commutation of sentence has no effect on a person’s immigration status and will not prevent removal or deportation from the United States.

A pardon is an expression of the President’s forgiveness and ordinarily is granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime and established good conduct for a significant period of time after conviction or completion of sentence. It does not signify innocence. It does, however, remove civil disabilities – e.g., restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury – imposed because of the conviction for which pardon is sought, and should lessen the stigma arising from the conviction. It may also be helpful in obtaining licenses, bonding, or employment. Under some – but not all – circumstances, a pardon will eliminate the legal basis for removal or deportation from the United States.

WE SHOULD BE HAPPY for the commutation of Chelsea’s sentence, but we should not forget that she has been in prison illegally for 6 years. For that reason, it is important to continue demanding justice until the government acknowledges its mistake and restores Chelsea’s honour. For that to happen, It is important to demand two parallel independent investigations promoted by the U.S. government and the international court to determine who was the responsible for such atrocities and prosecute them. War crimes should never be accompanied by impunity.

Our society needs more brave people like Chelsea Manning to bring more transparency into our lives. We should be eternally grateful for her courage in showing us the truth. We should never forget her. We should always support her.

Long live Chelsea….

By Josep.

The Dramatic Life of Refugees: Winter, Rejection, Crime, Radicalization, Terror and Death

THE BRUTAL WINTER is aggravating the situation of thousands of refugees (including children), who are living under extreme weather conditions along European borders. In Places like in Lesbos (Greece) and Belgrade (Serbia), the snow falls and the temperature is as low as 20-degrees celsius(-4°F).

Numerous European governments have offered shelter to an insufficient number of refugees (many of them children). UN’s and Medicines Sans Frontiers have criticised the European Union for not preparing properly for the life-threatening winter weather.

“Europe should stop making the lives of migrants and refugees more miserable,” a statement from Medicins Sans Frontieres read.

Saving lives must be a priority and we urge state authorities across Europe to do more to assist and protect refugees and migrants,” a UNHCR spokeswoman, Cecile

The UN is warning that an important number of refugees may soon die if the European Union does not assist them. Refugees often do not have the adequate clothing, food and shelter to withstand the low temperatures.

“Children are particularly prone to respiratory illnesses at a time like this. It’s about saving lives, not about red tape and keeping to bureaucratic arrangements,” Sarah Crowe, a spokeswoman for the UN children’s agency UNICEF told a UN briefing in Geneva. “The dire situation right now is Greece.”

As if that were not enough, refugees are suffering abuse by police agents and criminal gangs, including kidnappings, physical abuse, threats and extortion.

UN’s has reported 5 confirmed deaths since the start of the year, two Iraqi men and a young Somali woman in Bulgaria, and a 20-year-old Afghan man, who was crossing the Evros river between Turkey and Greece.

The UN has reiterated its call on the European Union to assist all refugees as soon as possible before it becomes a catastrophe.

“The UN Refugee Agency is today reiterating its call to accelerate the moving of asylum seekers from the Aegean islands to the Greek mainland,” Edwards said at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.”The need for better protection will become all the more acute this weekend when temperatures on the islands are expected to drop. We are worried,” said UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards.

“We are worried,” Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for UNHCR said in Geneva.”Slowness in registration or identifying vulnerable individuals and, previously, a shortage of suitable spaces on the mainland have been factors delaying moves. Among other things this has contributed to serious overcrowding of facilities built for far fewer people, and increased protection risks,”

NGO’s and numerous international organisations are insisting that to refuse assistance to refugees is a violation of international law. Apparently, European countries are more interested in domestic affairs than in refugees. In countries like Germany, the growing social discontent against refugees has forced the government to debate whether to expel thousands of refugees or not.The decadence of Angela Merkel and the upcoming German presidential elections will influence the final decision. 

In many cases, the traditional and far-right media are contributing to the criminalisation of all the refugees coming from the Middle East. 

Brief Analysis of two cases:

1.BREITBART’S FALSE ARTICLE.

pantallazo-2017-01-16-15-37-44

ON JANUARY 3rd Virginia Hale, a journalist from Breitbart News, wrote the following false article:

“Revealed: 1,000-Man Mob Attack Police, Set Germany’s Oldest Church Alight on New Year’s Eve” 

“At New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dortmund, a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church,” Breitbart News reported.

Breitbart also claimed that a video posted by a Ruhr Nachrichten journalist showed them holding up a flag of al-Qaeda and Isis collaborators. In fact, the video shows the contrary, a man holding a flag widely flown by those opposing the current government.

The local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, said that its online reporting on New Year’s Eve had been distorted by BreiBart to produce “fake news.”

The justice minister of Hesse state, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, said“the danger is that these stories spread with incredible speed and take on lives of their own.”

Tens of thousands clicked and shared the false Breitbart.com story with the headline,“Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve”.

Pantallazo-2017-01-16 15-21-59.png

Days later, Breitbart supposedly amended the article to make a few corrections.

pantallazo-2017-01-15-17-54-55

However, it decided to keep all the falsehoods spilt over Syrian refugees about terrorism. Since its creation, Breitbart has become the American newspaper, which most fabricates false stories.

pantallazo-2017-01-16-15-29-35

NOTE: The chief strategist and Senior Counsellor for the presidency of Donald Trump, Steve Bannonis the co-founder of Breitbart. Com. It suggests that he will use his new position to amplify fake stories to criminalise honest immigrants.

2.MODAMANI’S CASE.

Pantallazo-2017-01-16 15-45-31.png

MONTHS AGO, the far right propaganda, like Noch.info, from Germany and other countries suggested that Angela Merkel had taken a selfie with a terrorist, “Anas Modamani, a Syrian refugee”,  The false claims soon spread on social media and went viral. 

pantallazo-2017-01-15-11-14-06pantallazo-2017-01-15-22-00-37pantallazo-2017-01-15-22-03-42

The 19-year-old was accused of terrorism and other criminal activities, including him being one of the perpetrators of the March bombings in Brussels, and was linked to the Christmas market attack in Berlin. The accusations were soon catalogued as false, but the people of social media refused to halt the spread of the false news related to his case, allowing many users to continue spreading it even in the present day.

On his part, Modamani has recently sued Facebook for not doing enough to stop the fake news and reestablished his honour.

Modamani Stated, “I was first linked to the attacks when my picture was circulated, claiming I was one of the Brussels attackers due to perceived resemblances between us,”

“When the claims started being circulated on social media, I was in Munich visiting friends.

“Some friends advised that I stay at home and avoid going out in public, which I did.

“Others encouraged me to go to the police and report what was being said about me.

“But I kind of just hoped it would go away on its own.”

“Facebook is doing a very poor job with fake news,”

“Not all fake news is illegal, but when it amounts to slander, as I believe this does, then it should be taken down.”

“Facebook has repeatedly refused to take the posts down, saying they do not violate the company’s rules,” Modamani’s lawyer said.

A Facebook representative said: “We received a takedown request from Mr Jun alleging that a specific item of content on our platform violates Mr Modamani’s right of personality.”

“Access to that reported content was quickly disabled, so we do not believe there is any basis for him to seek an injunction.”

Germany’s justice ministry is considering new policies to crack down on “fake news” by making Facebook and other social media companies criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech.

“Facebook should be treated as a media company rather than a technology company,” the justice minister said in November.

As in the previous case, some newspapers have amended the false articles, but Modamani’s honorability will never be fully restored.Thousands of people accused him of terrorism and spread it on the social media and not everyone who uses social media read newspapers, which means that there are still many people, who still think that he is a terrorist. Modami’s case shows the enormous influential capacity that social media has over people.

NOTE: The president-elect Donald Trump won the last U.S. elections thanks to several factors like the incompetence of Hillary Clinton. However, Trump would not have won the election without false news and the social media to spread them.

The cases of fake news mentioned in this article, represent a sample of hundreds of thousands that are spread everyday on social media. For many organisations, the main goal is to convince European citizens that refugees are terrorists and criminals. Unfortunately, there is a significant number of people, who already believe those falsehoods.

EUROPEANS POLITICAL LEADERS and citizens tend to forget that, during the WWII, thousands of Europeans fled to countries like Syria, Egypt and Palestine(the Middle East) seeking shelter. The refugee camps in the Middle East were operated by MERRA (Middle East Relief and Refugee Administration) 

246f8479-6675-478c-905c-615e9602d7cd.pngUS Army General Allen Gullion and Fred K. Hoehler, Director of the United Nation’s Division of Displaced Persons predicting the movement of European refugees of World War II.

Seventy years ago, the Middle Eastern community warmly welcomed hundreds of thousands of European refugees who needed shelter. Today, to the contrary, European countries are neglecting refugees from the Middle East, alleging security issues. They believed that some terrorists are camouflaged among refugees. However, the facts show that majority of the terrorist attacks in Western countries were perpetrated by locals, who radicalised themselves.

Experience from many conflict zones teaches us that the longer these refugees are left to languish in despair in camps, the more prone they become to radicalization.

In fact, these camps are often used by terrorist organisations to attract new members. Without them, terrorism might soon be defeated. The best way to fight terrorism is by assisting refugees. European society should not forget the assistance that the Middle East gave them in the past.

The different communities in the world should work together to better understand each other regardless of their political and religion orientations.

After all, we are all human beings.

By Josep.

|

Freedom of the Press: Three Cases that Should Never Be Forgotten

EVERY YEAR , hundreds of journalists like Barret Brown, Serena Shim, or Anna Politkóvskaya are threatened, killed, tortured and prosecuted by terrorists and governments. It is important to remember and honour all of them, who once gave their life to expose and inform the public about the reality of government misconduct, which many times, is hidden, and distorted by government agencies.

The Freedom of the Press is a concern that affects all citizens regardless of location. It is a right that is registered in The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Article 19.

Brief Analysis of Serena Shim, Barret Brown and Anna Politkóvskaya cases.

-Case 1: Serena Shim.

shim-375x305

SERENA SHIM WAS an American war journalist for Press TV (Link Press TV).While covering the War in Syria, she was allegedly killed in a car crash by the Turkish government.

Shim’s death happened under strange circumstances. She was on her way back from Suruç (a rural area near the Syrian border) to her hotel with the driver and her camerawoman Judy Irish in a rental car, when the car collided with a cement mixer.

serenashimwreck.jpg

Car Crash.

abd-li-gazetecinin-cenazesi-ve-yarali-kameram-6612670_o.jpg

Judy Irish.

SHIM SURVIVED the crash but died later of a heart attack in an undisclosed location. Camera woman Judy Irish was injured and sent to a hospital state in Suruç. For his part, the driver was initially arrested, though later he and the car suspiciously disappeared.

It is still unclear why Shim was sent to a different hospital, and why the driver and the car eventually disappeared. Shim’s death, happened two days after the Turkish government allegedly accused her of spying. 

In response to the accusations, Shim stated:

“probably due to some of the stories I have covered about Turkey’s stance on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants in Kobanê”

” I am a bit frightened by what MİT might use against me.”

Shim had reported the Turkish government was helping ISIS militants.They were smuggled into Syria on trucks wearing symbols of NGO’s.

THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT announced an investigation and later it was concluded that it was a simple car crash. For its part, the American government refused to hold an independent investigation of Shim’s death (an American citizen). It also rejected to comment on the case in several occasions.

The international community soon forgot the case, and her family is still waiting for an independent investigation to clarify Shim’s death. Nevertheless, her mother assumes that Shim was assassinated by the Turkish government as a consequence of her investigations. Unfortunately, Shim belongs to a long list of suspicious deaths of journalists in Turkey.

SHIM WAS ASSASSINATED because she was seeking truth and exposing it to the public. Before her death, Shim was conscious that the Turkish government was monitoring her movements and could take undetermined further actions to halt her investigations. Even so, she decided to remain loyal to her public by continuing her investigation related to the Turkish government‘s misconduct.

It is important not to forget Shim’s case until her death is clarified by conducting an independent investigation. The American government is supposed to support an independent investigation of the death of any American citizen. Until it happens, the journalistic community must continue to publicise Shim’s case to persuade the international community to take action against this assassination. Journalists like Shim risk their lives to bring the truth into citizen’s lives. Without them, the information manipulation would be absolute.

-Case 2: Barret Brown.

o-barrett-brown-facebook

BARRET BROWN  is an American journalist that has written several books and wrote for important outlets like the Guardian or the Vanity fair. In 2015, Brown was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges.

In 2009 Brown launched an investigation called Project PM from anonymous leaked information concerning the misconduct of the cyber-military-industry complex Stratfor.

On March 6, 2012, the FBI executed a warrant at his mother‘s house seeking evidence of alleged crimes related to his investigation about Stratfor.She was accused of hiding Brown’s laptops and was sentenced to 6 months of probation.

ON SEPTEMBER 12, 2012, Brown uploaded a video on youtube “threatening the agent of the FBI,” who charged his mother. A few hours later, Brown’s house was raided and later was indicted on 12 federal charges, including a fraud charge for spreading around the hyperlink to an IRC (Internet Relay Chat).

Later on, most of the charges were dropped off and replaced for three new:

1-transmitting a threat in interstate commerce.

2-for interfering with the execution of a search warrant.

3-accessory after the fact in the unauthorised access to a protected computer.

In 2015, Brown made an agreement and pleaded guilty to avoid 100 years of his sentence. 

Brown was finally sentenced to five years (By that time Brown had already served over two years in prison). As part of his sentence, Brown was also required to pay almost $900,000 to Stratfor.

AFTER HIS SENTENCE, Brown released a satirical statement that read in part:

 

“Good news! The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”

Barrett wrote a column from jail for The Intercept for which, he won a National Magazine Award and a New York Press Club journalism award. (Link winner column and award)

During his time in prison, Brown was in solitary confinement on numerous occasions for no reason. Brown was released in advance on November, 29th 2016 due to his good conduct.

cyc3wtjuuaaigaf-jpg_large-800x661

Currently, Brown works for the DMagazine (Dallas). While living in a halfway house due to his probation time.

Brown’s case was very controversial. It was the first time that a journalist was charged for sharing a link on a website. Most investigative journalists share links, with secret information to share their investigations with other journalists to reach some conclusions.

Brown’s case should never be forgotten. He was unfairly prosecuted for investigating the misconduct of a private military complex. As in Shim’s case, Brown is an honest journalist, who was seeking truth to expose corporations and government misconduct to the public.

-Case 3. Anna Politkóvskaya 

download-5

ANNA POLITKÓVSKAYA was a RussianAmerican journalist, writer and human rights activist. She received many awards for her publications, including Putin’s Russia Book. But on 7 October 2006, Politkovskaya’s was assassinated by the Russian government. 

anna1-1m_s1.jpg

Anna Politkóvskaya centred her career on her opposition to the Chechen conflict and Vladimir Putin. She reported on numerous human rights abuses by the Russian army in Chechnya.In addition, she accused Putin and the Russian secret service FSB of intentionally degrading civil liberties in order to establish a Soviet-style dictatorship.

She once stated:


“Society has shown limitless apathy.… As the Chekists have become entrenched in power, we have let them see our fear, and thereby have only intensified their urge to treat us like cattle.
The KGB respects only the strong. The weak it devours. We of all people ought to know that.”

She also wrote:

“We are hurtling back into a Soviet abyss, into an information vacuum that spells death from our own ignorance. All we have left is the internet, where information is still freely available. For the rest, if you want to go on working as a journalist, it’s total servility to Putin. Otherwise, it can be death, the bullet, poison, or trial—whatever our special services, Putin’s guard dogs, see fit.”

“People often tell me that I am a pessimist, that I don’t believe in the strength of the Russian people, that I am obsessive in my opposition to Putin and see nothing beyond that,” she opens an essay titled Am I Afraid?, finishing it—and the book—with the words: “If anybody thinks they can take comfort from the ‘optimistic’ forecast, let them do so. It is certainly the easier way, but it is the death sentence for our grandchildren.”

IN SEPTEMBER 2004, Politkovskaya was poisoned while drinking a coffee on an aeroplane. While she was attempting to act as an intermediary in Beslan’s school, a hostage crisis erupted in the North Caucasus in early September 2004.

In 2005 while attending a conference on the freedom of the press in Vienna organised by Reporters Without Borders, she said:

“People sometimes pay with their lives for saying aloud what they think. In fact, one can even get killed for giving me information. I am not the only one in danger it.”

Even at that point, Politkovskaya had already been threatened and attacked numerous times.

ON OCTOBER 7, 2006, Politkovskaya was found assassinated in the elevator of her apartment. The police found three suspects for her murder:

Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov, and former Moscow police officer Sergei Khadzhikurban

In 2009, the lack of evidence forced a jury in Moscow to acquit them.

In 2012, the investigation was re-opened and in December the same year, and sentenced to 11 years in prison for the murder in a special bargain deal for providing evidence against those who ordered the killing. However, he did not name any people who hired him to commit the murder.

download-7

Former police officer Dmitry Pavliutchenkov.

IN JUNE 2014, Makhmudov’s brothers, former officer Khadzhikurbanov, and Chechen underground leader Lom-Ali Gaitukaye were sentenced to prison for the murder, two them received life sentences. Politkovskaya’s family was certain that they played an important role in Politkovskaya’s murder, but that it was orchestrated by someone else in the government who needed to be further investigated.

headlineImage.adapt.1460.high.murder_russia_journalist_anna_sentence_0609.1402328980773.jpg

Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, Gunman Rustam Makhmudov and his two brothers.

The international community quickly assumed that Putin orchestrated Politkovskaya’s murder in order to halt her investigations about his cabinet. She was very influential in Russia and abroad, which was a dangerous combination for Putin. Politkovskaya belongs to a long list of journalists and political opponents, who have been murdered under strange circumstances during Putin’s presidency. 

Politkovskaya will be always remembered for her braveness as a journalist; she reported on Putin’s misconduct and the war crimes committed by the Russian army in Chechenia. 

Politkovskaya was fully aware that Putin might order her to be killed, but it did not stop her from seeking truth until her last breath. Her legacy will endure for many generations. It will encourage the next group of journalists to seek truth regardless o the political repercussions.

AS IT IS POSSIBLE TO DEDUCE from this article, criminals, governments and powerful actors tend to murder those, who are investigating, to discover some hidden information related to their misconduct. These three cases are the representation of a long list of honest journalists murdered and repressed by governments. 

Honest journalism is often the governments’ counterbalance. It exposes all sorts of political, corporate, and lobbying misconduct of citizens. Who then have the opportunity to evaluate and decide whether they take action to change it or not.

It is important to encourage the new generations of journalists to assume more risks in order to seek truth like their predecessors once did. It is not always easy to be an honest journalist, but it is comforting to know that one’s work is contributing to transforming society for the better.

Journalists should never be afraid of seeking the truth because it is their role. Honest journalism and danger are many times together, to seek the truth implies to take some risks that may end in death. However, it should not discourage anyone, the rest of society is more important than just one individual.

Without honest journalism, it is impossible to know what is real or not. There will be always journalists, who will seek truth and reveal the government’s misconduct, but civil society will be responsible for their protection.

The three cases exposed in this article should never be forgotten. By remembering them and many others, society will keep alive the spirit of fighting to achieve more transparency, justice and rights to transform this world into a better place to live in.

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

Racism Is Not the Solution to Your Problems

The rise of fascism, represented by the anti-immigration political party and the lack of critical thinking in our society, is making people adopt racists positions. In many cases, it coincides with the destruction of the middle class and global impoverishment, which is usually accompanied by feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. In this context of degradation, anti-immigration organisations successfully deliver false promises of rescuing citizens from their existing poverty, to take back what belongs to them. For that to happen, they attribute high unemployment, criminality and terrorism with immigration.

Many times antiimmigration organisations count on the inestimable help of the mainstream media, which, without even realising, serves as a medium to spread their message. Donald Trump is the personification of anti-immigration sentiment that the media excessively focuses on, which helps them achieve their goals. In this case, the media informed negative things related to his past misconduct, but the excessive coverage made people think that they were being manipulated.

Let’s now scrutinise some of the anti-immigration claims to better understand whether their arguments are valid or not:

1. Immigration and crimes:

Anti-immigration organisations are regularly linking crimes to immigration. However, the available reports depict that in western countries, immigrants are less likely to be criminals than natural citizens.

In Germany, where the arrival of refugees has been massive, the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) announced in 2016 that crimes committed in 2015 by refugees stood at the same level as those committed by native Germans.

Government report Police Crime Statistics 2015.

https://www.bka.de/EN/CurrentInformation/PoliceCrimeStatistics/2015/pcs2015.html?nn=39580

(The statistics of 2016 have not been published yet. However, different sources suggest that the next reporting could be manipulated by the government to justify the expulsion of refugees, the same year that Germany will hold presidential elections, and because Merkel is losing popularity. I will inform you about the real report and any case of evidence of manipulation by increasing the immigration criminality, I will show it here)

“The majority (of refugees) do not come here with the intention of committing crimes. They come to Germany to find protection and peace.”

Immigrants have always been a convenient scapegoat,” – Walter A. Ewing, a senior researcher at the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit group in Washington.

As we can see, the anti-immigration theories are unsubstantiated by government reports.Although I am focusing on Germany because it has experienced the mass arrival of immigration, this tendency is similar in the rest of western countries.

2. Immigration and jobs:

Despite the general opinion that immigrants steal our jobs, immigration has a positive impact on a country’s  economy. It happens because of several factors:

  • 1. In many European countries, the education and health systems are semi-free, as the population is getting older, the cost of maintenance of the systems is increasing while the tax collection to maintain it is decreasing. In such a scenario,  immigration helps to replace the ageing working population and this increases the needed contribution to maintaining this “free system.”
  • Note: In the U.S. there is no a free educational or health system, the government allege that it would supposedly lead to an increase in taxes. However, the reduction of the annual military investment would allow the government to implement a free educational and health system to enable people to have equal opportunities.
  • 2. Immigrants are always willing to do those important jobs related to the cleaning, construction, agriculture etc. sectors that locals are not. It is clear then that without immigration there would be a lack of services that in the end would provoke the collapse of the system.

3. Immigration and rape reports:

There is a general concern that the entrance of refugees into western countries will increase the raping cases.However, so far there is no clear evidence that that may happen. It is mainly caused by the mainstream media that sometimes misleads citizens by distorting the reality. For example, the mass-raping case during the New Year’s Eve 2015:

The mainstream media reported without verifying it that the German government announced that hundreds of immigrants (refugees) mass-raped women in Colonia. For that to happen, supposedly, hundreds of refugees would have gathered in the downtown of Colonia to mass-rape women. However, later it was found that the immigrants were mostly from North Africa (not refugees) and that anti-immigration organisations organised it to spread fear into society.

4. Terrorism:

Anti-immigration organisations are trying to criminalise all refugees and immigrants by  suggesting that all of them are terrorists. Unfortunately, there are millions of citizens who believe these falsehoods.

No one neglects the fact that from all the refugees waiting to enter into western countries, there are some hidden terrorists, but they are just a few, and the majority of refugees, who have already been living under hard conditions for years, cannot wait to receive international aid anymore.

International terrorism is a threat to our society, and the international community should find the way to eliminate it. Nevertheless, it is important to note that most of the terrorists who committed terrorist attacks in western countries were locals.

By supporting racist positions, our society is losing its common sense. The existing financial, security, employment and political problems do not come from the immigration. These problems are usually originated by governments, anti-immigration, and financial institutions, which for years have been undermining the confidence that citizens once had on them.

Anti-immigration organisations are benefiting from the existing chaos due to a lack of critical thinking in our society.And unless the mainstream media stops boosting them, racism will increase to levels never seen before in history. 

Immigration is necessary and positive in many aspects of our lives. Without it, as mentioned earlier, the system would collapse, and the citizens would suffer. It is important to remember that immigrants are human beings like you and me. Life brings many changes, and anyone may become an immigrant overnight. Even racist and intolerant people, if forced to migrate, would expect respect from others.

There is a lot of work to needed to be done with all those who support anti-immigration positions. The arguments on anti-immigration are baseless, and there is no clear evidence to support what they say. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and if our society can teach them to think critically, then there will be some hope to halt the global rise of fascism.

Understanding, compassion, tolerance, and critical thinking are the solutions to many problems.

Do not forget to vote: