Yemen: The Forgotten Conflict

Since Yemen’s civil war began in 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has regularly conducted lethal air strikes throughout the country, killing thousands of innocent Yemenis. Further, Saudi Arabia has implemented a blockade of basic supplies against Yemen, including drinkable water, resulting in rampant cholera, leading to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The Saudi-led coalition was initially created seeking to support the deposed President, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, after the Houthi rebels had taken key positions all across the country, including the capital Sana’a and his Presidential palace, forcing him to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Since then, Saudi Arabia has justified its lethal attacks on civilians by accusing the Houthis, without any evidence, of being endorsed by its arch-enemies, Iran and Hezbollah.

According to the UN, the Saudi-led coalition regularly kills innocent people, including children. For example, a Saudi air strike killed 140 people and injured some 600 mourners at a funeral in Sana’a last October.

The United Nations’ World Health Organization has reported that the outbreak of cholera in Yemen caused by the Saudi blockade of drinking water has already infected more than 300,000 Yemenis; killed 1,500 people, 55% of them children.

The Red Cross has predicted that one out 45 people in Yemen will contract cholera. More than 600,000 people are expected to contract the disease before the end of the year. Some worrying reports show that a child dies in Yemen every 10 minutes from preventable causes like diarrhea, respiratory infections and malnutrition.

According to the UN, since March 2015, 3.2 million Yemenis have been displaced; 13,000 civilians have been casualties; 2 million children cannot attend schools;  and nearly 15 million people have no access to basic medical care. Out of 27 million people in Yemen, 20 million are starving, including 400,000 childrenand some 2.2 million are in need of urgent care.


“In the last two years, more children have died from preventable diseases than those killed in the violence. This is why vaccination campaigns are so crucial to save the lives of Yemen’s children and to secure their future,” said Dr. Meritxell Relaño, UNICEF Representative in Yemen.

Children are dying because the conflict is preventing them from getting the health care and nutrition they urgently need. Their immune systems are weak from months of hunger,” said Dr. Relaño.”

Saudi Arabia has also imposed a strict journalist embargo on Yemen, seeking to hide its acts of barbarism. It only grants sporadic access to the country to a few journalists from the mainstream Western media. On many occasions, they are indirectly endorsed by the Saudi-led coalition.

Despite the embargo, some independent journalists have risked their lives to enter the country covertly. They regularly show the Western world what the mainstream media refuses, the Saudi atrocities in Yemen.

The mainstream Western media regularly ignores the Yemeni conflict by ensuring that it is not attractive enough for the Western audience, which supposedly prefers those in Iraq and Syria because there are more parties involved.

Nothing is expected to change soon; the Saudi-led coalition will still commit atrocities across Yemen. The Houthis and the official Yemeni government will repress and kill thousands of innocent people, worsening the living conditions of innocent Yemenis. In addition, Al-Qaeda and ISIS are expected to increase their influence by taking key positions across Yemen, leading to a possible further American military intervention in the country.

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U.S. Strike on Syria

On Thursday night, Donald Trump directed a strike against a Syrian military airbase, which targeted fighter planes, ammunition bunkers, radars, and petroleum storage. The Syrian regime said that the attack killed 7 soldiers and wounded 3.

In a brief press conference, Trump assured the American public that the strike was in retaliation for the last chemical attack against innocent civilians in Khan Sheikhoun in north-western Syria, which caused as many as 80 casualties, including many children.

Despite the fact that the UN could not reliably determine the accountability of the Syrian regime over the chemical attack, the U.S. government and the mainstream media launched a campaign to accuse them.

Ignoring the resolution of the UN, the NATO and other allies expressed their support for the strike and said that it was proportional. On the other hand, the Russian government condemned the attack and said that the U.S. is helping terrorists on the ground. Furthermore, the Russian Army announced the cessation of its communications with the U.S. in Syria and reiterated its support for the Syrian regime.

48 hours after the strike, in a joint statement, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and several local militias said that the U.S. had crossed the line and that the next time they will respond with force. According to this coalition, there are many reasons to think that the U.S. wants to exert utter control over Syria due to its geolocation.

Despite their many lies, Russia and the U.S. have committed several war crimes in Syria. For years, the U.S. has bombed civilians and assisted rebel groups with ties to terrorist organizations, which have killed thousands of innocents. And Russia has supported the Syrian regime, which has also killed thousands of innocent civilians.

Everyone still remembers, when in 2003, at an assembly of the UN, the then U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, assured that the Iraqi government had WMD, which could soon cause carnage in the region and perhaps worldwide. As a result, the international community created a coalition to invade Iraq, which caused as many as 1 million of deaths. It was not until after some years that the international community found out that the CIA deliberately fabricated that story to intervene in Iraq.

By attacking Syria, Trump has gained as much popularity as Bush did during the Iraqi invasion. Since the strike, the mainstream media, including the most critical such as CNN, and The New York Times have praised Trump’s military action and elevated him as an excellent President.

It is deeply troubling that Trump has found out the key to gain popularity. Due to his incapacity to govern the country, it appears that he will launch more military interventions in countries such as North Korea and Iran.

It is important to remember that for years, Donald Trump suggested that Obama’s intervention in Syria was a political move to gain popularity. However, he is now adopting the same ploy. Fortunately for everyone, he could not delete his past tweets and here there is a sample of them:

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Despite the complexity of the Syrian conflict, this will only end when all parties negotiate a realistic resolution. Apparently, Trump is not willing to do so, but a strong antiwar movement may force him (like in the past with previous administrations) to step back in his bellicose decisions.

While the U.S. antiwar movement is organizing to become stronger, Trump is deploying warships, and troops in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. Over the next months, the world will observe whether the antiwar movement succeeds or Trump causes chaos everywhere.

 

Donald Trump: The War on Terror

From the outset of his presidency, Donald Trump has appeared to be willing to follow in the footsteps of previous presidencies in the “war on terror.” His cabinet has started to hammer out an international plan which, once approved will give green light to the U.S. military forces deployed in the Middle East to direct air strikes on civilian areas in the name of killing terrorists.

Despite his many promises and oaths, Obama embraced Bush’s military strategy to fight terrorism, and endow the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Commands) with the capability of operating undercover in countries such as Pakistan and Iraq with absolute immunity. The JSOC often targeted innocent civilians (including children) causing a real massacre in the region.

Emulating the legacy of previous administrations, and during his first week in the white house, Trump directed a fatal raid in Yemen, which jeopardized the lives of several members of the American special forces, and caused the death of Chief Petty Officer William and 30 civilians, including the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born “radicalized” leader who was killed in a drone strike in 2011.

During his first intervention at the Congress, Trump vehemently used the death of Officer William to make propaganda and reaffirm that the fatal raid in Yemen was necessary to protect the country against terrorists.

Far from stopping his acts of barbarism, Trump recently announced the deployment of 1000 additional soldiers to Syria. In addition, Trump has ordered the U.S. military commanders in Syria to escalate their operations in civilian areas to target and kill terrorists.

The tragedy came swiftly, on March 17, when the US-led coalition directed an air strike in a residential area in West Mosul (controlled by ISIL.), which slaughtered as many as 200 civilians. That was preceded by the killing of dozens of civilians in a school in Raqqa province where refugees were being sheltered, which itself was preceded by the US-led destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens.

Because of these atrocities, a large pool of U.S. commanders announced an investigation to establish accountability for the above-mentioned carnage against innocent civilians in Mosul.

“We have an investigation going on, but our initial assessment… shows we did strike in that area; in fact there were multiple strikes in that area, so is it possible that we did that? Yes, I think it is possible,” Lt. Stephen Townsend told reporters Tuesday.

“Because we struck in that area, I think there’s a fair chance that we did it.”

Unfortunately, several U.S. soldiers and commanders justified the lethal air strike, which caused so many deaths, alleging that since ISIL uses civilians to shield then the air strikes are justified because it is more important to kill terrorists.

Later on, numerous civilians fearful of reprisal expressed their concerns, and asked the authorities if there was any justification for bombing innocent civilians who are denigrated, mistreated, tortured, and raped on a regular basis by the most inhumane terrorist group on earth.

It is worth recalling that the international law prohibits the targeting and bombing of civilians. The deliberate assassination of civilians constitutes a war crime, and essentially if someone commits it, he or she is liable to face prosecution at the International Court. However, the world’s most powerful countries do not bear any legal responsibility for their crimes since they control the very organizations which investigate war crimes.

Another concerning fact is Trump’s struggle to re-establish the network of U.S. secret military prisons to torture terrorists and civilians worldwide. Several experts argue that torture programs are ineffective in fighting terrorism. Most of the prisoners who are tortured on a regular basis are likely to incriminate themselves to stop the physical and mental suffering.

Under Bush’s presidency, the U.S. unjustly targeted and jailed thousands of innocents civilians for years. Once out of the White House, Bush acknowledged some of his mistakes, although it does not exempt him from the war crimes that he committed during his presidency.

By unjustly killing thousands of innocent civilians, Trump will never annihilate terrorism. On the contrary, it will be used for terrorists as a propaganda tool to convince and persuade citizens that the U.S. is the real enemy of the Middle East.

The defeat of Islamic terrorism will only come when the international community shows citizens of the Middle East that they are there to help them. However, it is unlikely to happen since Trump could have several conflicts of interest in the Middle East.

During the last presidential campaign, Trump announced that if he became President, he would then try to take control of petroleum production in the Middle East, and this fact will undermine his efforts to build trust with the citizens.

While I am writing this piece, Trump is probably planning his next move in the Middle East. Or perhaps a deadly strike is being directed against defenseless civilians causing carnage in Syria or Iraq. What is certain is that the international media will be waiting for the next fatal event, and the international community, as usual, will lean on global superpowers and do nothing to stop the massacre in the Middle East.

 

 

 

 

Saudi Arabia’s Violations of Human Rights Supported by Trump’s Administration

For years, Saudi Arabia has had the honour to be one of the principal violators of human rights in the world. Regardless of its efforts to hide it from the international community, numerous local human rights organisations have regularly exposed the abuses perpetrated by the regime. In response, the Saudi government has banned all international human rights organisations from entering Saudi Arabia. As numerous organisations have suggested, the primary problem remains in the system and the interpretation of the Sharia (Islamic law).

Saudi Arabia uses Sharia (Islamic law) as its domestic legislation. There is no a formal penal code; the criminal justice court derives its interpretation from an extreme version of Sharia. In most of cases, detainees do not have a fair trial and are not allowed to meet with a lawyer during their interrogations. Further, the authorities do not usually inform them about their charges until the trial has already started and their lawyers are never allowed to interview witnesses or even present evidence during the trial. Judges usually sentence detainees to flogging, with hundreds of lashes. Children can also be judged as adults if there are signs of puberty. Saudi authorities detain suspects for months, or even years, without judicial review or prosecution. Here are some cases of extreme abuses and detentions in recent years:

1.Raif Badawi.

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Raif Badawi was arrested in 2012 for insulting Islam through electronic channels.When Badawi was arrested, he was running a liberal blog advocating for human rights in Saudi Arabia. He used his blog to expose the violations of human rights committed by the Saudi government. In 2013, Badawi was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, but in 2014, he was resentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years in jail plus a fine. Badawi is currently in prison in precarious health; according to his wife he could soon die if he is not released.

2. Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr.

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Ali Al-Nimr was just 17 years old when he was sentenced to death by crucifixion in the wake of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprising. He was accused of participation in an illegal demonstration and as well as a large number of other offences. Like most of the human rights defenders detained in Saudi Arabia, Al-Nimr was tortured and forced to sign a criminal confession. He is currently in prison awaiting his crucifixion which could happen at any time without notice.

3.Essam Koshak.

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On January 8, 2017, the human rights defender Koshak was summoned for interrogation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Mecca and was immediately detained. Koshak was interrogated about his Twitter account, where he frequently exposed the violations of human rights committed by the Saudi regime. Like other detainees, he was not allowed to meet with a lawyer during his interrogation. Koshak is currently detained while awaiting his trial.

4.Dawood Al-Marhoon.

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On May 22, 2012, at the age of 17, Dawood Al-Marhoon was arrested for allegedly participating in peaceful anti-government protests during the Arab Spring. During his detention, Dawood was tortured and forced to sign a false confession. On October 21, 2014, the criminal court sentenced him to death by beheading. Dawood is currently awaiting his execution while being tortured on a regular basis. He could be executed at any time without previous notice.

These three cases represent a sample from the hundreds of human rights defenders who have been unfairly detained and killed in recent years by the Saudi government. Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 150 persons between January and mid-November, mostly for murder and terrorism-related offences. However, among these executions, there were 22 for non-violent drug crimes, including human rights defenders. In Saudi Arabia, most executions are carried out by beheading, sometimes in public. Aside from the illegal detention and execution of human rights defenders, the Saudi regime also commits other sorts of violations of human rights.

In 2016, while holding an illegal blockade in Yemen, the Saudi government authorised 58 unlawful airstrikes, killing 800 civilians and hitting homes, markets, hospitals, schools, and mosques. Because of the Saudi blockade, an estimated 14.4 million Yemenis were unable to meet their food needs, according to the United Nations.

In Saudi Arabia women are denigrated, they must obtain permission from a male guardian to travel, to marry, to exit prison, or to get access to health care. They also need a male relative to do transactions, such as filing legal claims or renting an apartment. Most of the schools do not offer physical education for women, and until recent times women were not allowed to participate in national competitions. The labour situation for women is not better. They face a range of abuses including being overworked, non-payment of wages, food deprivation, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Women who attempt to report employer abuses sometimes face prosecution based on counterclaims of theft, “black magic,” or “sorcery.” 

Despite numerous investigations concluding that in 2015/2016 the Saudi Regime was the principal violator of human rights in the world, on Nov. 21, 2016, the United Nations elected Saudi Arabia, represented by Abdulaziz, to a 3-year term on its Human Rights Council.

As mentioned earlier, Trump’s administration has decided to continue collaborating with the Saudi regime by doing some business and providing them weapons. It is clear that if Trump wants to eradicate Islamic terrorism and advocate for human rights, he should stop collaborating with Saudi Arabia and apply high standards to himself.

Unfortunately, Trump has not been the only U.S. president who has collaborated with the Saudi regime. Under Obama’s presidency, the U.S. provided Saudi Arabia weapons and intelligence support during the illegal Saudi military operations in Yemen. In August, the US government approved a US$1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, despite significant opposition from members of Congress, who were concerned about Saudi conduct in Yemen.

While countries like the U.S. collaborate with the Saudi regime, it will continue violating human rights, executing innocents and boosting Islamic terrorism. The only way to change the Saudi system is by uniting the international community to push the kingdom to reform its system and guarantee basic rights to its citizens. Until then, Trump has lost his legitimacy as a president since he has already violated his promise to cut off ties with Arabia Saudi.

In the near future, we will see whether the Saudi government will reform its system. Though there is not much hope, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.The destiny of millions of people are in the hands of the international community led by the U.S. Hopefully, Trump will soon realize his huge mistake and will halt his collaboration with Saudi Arabia. It could then be the beginning of the new dawn where human rights are respected.

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.

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.

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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.

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Car Crash.

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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.

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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.

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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 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.