Wikileaks Revelations Expose How the CIA Wants to Destroy Everyone’s Privacy

On Tuesday, Wikileaks published 8,761 documents revealing how the CIA hacks Samsung TVs, computers, phones and cars to spy on civilians all over the world. A CIA team created a new program capable of infecting the above-mentioned devices, turning them into microphones ready to collect information on their owners, even when the devices are apparently off.

Once the device is infected, the CIA can bypass the encryption on apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal by using phones programmed with Google’s Android and IOS platforms to collect audio and message traffic before encryption is applied. Further, infected devices to the controlling agent the user’s current(geographic) location, audio and text communications as well as discreetly operate the phone’s camera and microphone.”

According to Wikileaks, each technique the CIA has created ‘forms a “fingerprint” that can be used by forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks to the same entity’.

A troubling piece of information is that, According to Wikileaks, the aforementioned cyber weapons were compromised and the tools are likely to be in the hands of criminals and foreign intelligence agencies.

As if that weren’t enough, the release also suggests that the U.S. consulate in Germany is in fact a secret American base. Apparently, most of the workers at the Consulate are undercover hackers that regularly collect information on Europeans, Africans, and Middle EasternersIt suggests that there could be many other secret hacking bases in unsuspected places worldwide.

A curious discovery from the disclosure is that the CIA had hidden its operations trying to appear as if they were Russian hackers.Moreover, when it has often been suggested that the Russian government interfered in the last election to help Trump winthis suggests that CIA agents might have fabricated part of that story.

Experts who have started to analyze Wikileaks revelations said they appeared legitimate. They added that the release was the biggest in the CIA’s history.

Wikileaks has a long history of publishing authentic documents that have been leaked from government agencies, corporations, and powerful individuals.

When asked, a CIA spokesperson said:

“We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”

Wikileaks announced that this is the first in a series of documents to be published which will cover the CIA’s full suite of hacking tools.

“We need to know if the CIA lost control of its hacking tools, who may have those tools, and how do we now protect the privacy of Americans… The potential privacy concerns are mind-boggling,” he said.

With this disclosure, Wikileaks has exposed how vulnerable we all are. Snowden’s disclosure exposed that the CIA had the capability to monitor and record conversations on the Internet and by phone. It also exposed the collaboration between the CIA and the biggest phone and computing companies by sharing data to spy on civilians. However, yesterday’s disclosure goes beyond this collaboration; the CIA can now spy on anyone through a broad spectrum of electronic devices. This disclosure indicates that, in the current technological era, there are few options to prevent such an espionage, removing any sort of privacy from people’s lives.

Privacy is important because it allows us to think as we please without any external manipulation. Without it, no one can develop critical thinking mind, which is central to becoming the owner of their life. People are all at risk of falling into a “vegetative state” in which people will passively accept everything told by their governments. One wants to believe that this phase is still far away, but if these surveillance methods are not phased out soon, we will reach a point of no return.

It is a fact that there is already a wide spectrum of journalists and citizens who are influenced by third parties. The way they investigate; act, or use the Internet is determined by the fear of being under surveillance. 

When critics thought that “1984” by George Orwell was just a fantasy novel, they were wrong. It is true that our society is not yet in the situation depicted therein, but no one can deny that there are many parallels and unless the CIA indefinitely suspends its surveillance programs, within a decade or two, everyone will be very tightly controlled by their government in all circumstances, even in those places without any electronic devices.

While we wait for the second part of the Wikileaks revelations, we should all think about what kind of world we want to build for future generations and start thinking about how to fight back to better protect their privacy.

Trump’s New Travel Ban Order

Yesterday, President Trump signed a new executive order banning citizens from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the U.S. It comes 6 weeks after the first caused chaos at airports all across the country before being blocked by a federal judge.

During this time, the government has made several modifications to make it legal. As a result, it will now impose a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas to people from the previously mentioned countries, and will suspend the U.S. refugee program for 120 days. However, this time citizens who are legal U.S. permanent residents and have valid visas to enter the U.S. will be exempt from the ban.

“We cannot compromise our nation’s security by allowing visitors entry when their own governments are unable or unwilling to provide the information we need to vet them responsibly, or when those governments actively support terrorism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday.

The government has also announced:

“The new ban will not be implemented until March 16 to avoid the chaos experienced with the previous one.”

The new executive order will exclude Iraq from the blacklisted countries due to they role fighting terrorism and their willingness to increase control over citizens who travel to the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said:

Iraq’s removal from the list came after the Iraqi government communicated to the U.S. that it is willing to collaborate and increase control over citizens who intend to travel to the U.S.,”

“The United States welcomes this kind of close cooperation,” “This revised order will bolster the security of the United States and our allies.”

Members of Congress also reacted to the revised ban, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who said that it “advances our shared goal of protecting the homeland.” Democratic leaders, however, said that it’s still a ban.

“A watered-down ban is still a ban. Despite the Administration’s changes, this dangerous executive order makes us less safe, not more, it is mean-spirited, and un-American. It must be repealed,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, in a statement.

 House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement:

“The Trump administration’s repackaging has done nothing to change the immoral, unconstitutional and dangerous goals of their Muslim and refugee ban. This is the same ban, with the same purpose, driven by the same dangerous discrimination that weakens our ability to fight terror.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that they will bring the new ban to court to block it as soon as possible because it still discriminates and targets Muslims.

“We’ll See You in Court, 2.0: Once a Muslim Ban, Still a Muslim Ban,” said an ACLU representative.

In addition, the president also signed presidential memoranda that will direct the executive branch to take immediate steps to implement enhanced vetting procedures. The administration is considering implementing a new biometric entry-exit system and directing that additional interviews be conducted for visa applicants.

According to the U.S. government, both the new executive order and the memorandum will be implemented for security issues. Attorney General Jeff Sessions added:

“The FBI is currently investigating 300 immigrants from the banned countries who have ties to terrorism.”

However, once again, the U.S. government did not show clear evidence to verify whether or not it is true.

There is a growing concern that the new executive order will help terrorist organizations to maintain their anti-western rhetoric and recruit thousands of new members.

The new executive order will also criminalize millions of innocent civilians from the 6 banned countries. Some of them have been waiting for years to flee to the U.S., but now, overnight, their dream has been dissipated and now, they will have to continue living under harsh conditions, facing death every day.

The criminalization of civilians and refugees is absurd and hypocritical. The vast majority of refugees did not choose to become refugees. Instead, this was imposed on them due to conflicts often started by the U.S. and its allies. They deserve more respect from President Trump. They have already suffered enough.

Over the next few weeks, a new legal battle will start between the government and those organizations that think the new ban is as illegal as the original. As with the first executive order, judges from different courts will have the last word.

Until they make a decision, millions of people from all over the world will be concerned, knowing that the final decision will determine their future and security. 

Trump’s Decision to Reduce the Budget in Foreign Aid Will Not Make America Safer

A few days ago, Trump’s cabinet announced its plan to cut the State Department’s budget by 37 %, including a great reduction in foreign aid in order to increase U.S. defense spending by $54 billion. That’s a 10% increase over the cap on defense spending imposed by a budget deal that Congress passed six years ago. White House Office of Management Budget director Mick Mulvaney said:

“We are going to propose to reduce foreign aid and we are going to propose to spend that money here,“He added that the proposed cuts would include “fairly dramatic reductions in foreign aid.”

“The overriding message is fairly straightforward: less money spent overseas means more money spent here.”

Trump’s proposal to cut foreign aid has been strongly responded to by both Republicans and Democrats who think it could help terrorist organizations to expand their operational capacities. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee said:

“I am very concerned by reports of deep cuts that could damage efforts to combat terrorism, save lives and create opportunities for American workers.”

Among Republicans, Service intelligence agents and several generals, there is an increasing concern that either Trump thinks that foreign aid means to help foreign charitable organizations or that he is just seeking a new war, probably against Iran or North Korea. In fact, a potential war with either of them would undermine any effort to make America safer. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, tweeted last week:

“Foreign Aid is not charity.We must make sure it is well spent, but it is less than 1% of the budget & critical to our national security.”

Trump’s obsession to start his war games is blinding him from reading reality. Increasing the defense budget will not make America safer without diplomacy. Included in the State Department’s budget is: diplomacy task which is essential to prevent new conflicts from erupting, as Secretary of Defense Jim Matis who was a general, back in 2013 said:

“If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately. So I think it’s a cost-benefit ratio,” Mattis told members of Congress.

“The more that we put into the State Department’s diplomacy, hopefully, the less we have to put into a military budget as we deal with the outcome of an apparent American withdrawal from the international scene.”

More than 120 retired three and four-star generals sent a letter to the House and Senate leadership calling on Congress to “ensure that resources for the International Affairs Budget keep pace with the growing global threats and opportunities we face.” They also warned that Trump’s budget proposal would be extremely dangerous for American citizens. They added:

“Elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping America safe.”

“We know from our service in uniform that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone,””The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”

The letter was signed by some of the most prominent U.S. military officers to serve in recent decades, including retired General George Casey, former chief of staff of the U.S. Army; retired General David Petraeus, the former CIA director and commander of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, the former commander of U.S. Central Command; retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO; and retired General Keith Alexander, the former director of the National Security Agency.

Apparently, the Congress with Republican majority will refuse Trump’s budget since most of the Congressmen think its approval would weaken the security of the nation. However, American society will still be concerned until it happens due to Republicans‘ tendency for mind changes at the last moment. During the last presidential campaign, there were many republicans who said they would never vote for Trump, but in the end, they did.

For now, Congress will wait for Trump’s proposal and see if there is any modification. Even if it is finally modified, there is great concern that the increase in the defense budget will remain, which would mean a threat to the safety of American society. Regardless of the result, the most important point is that Trump will not have the last word.

 

 

Organizing to Resist Threats to Our Rights

Ongoing political degradation and the rise of bigoted movements in western countries such as the U.S., France, and the Netherlands represent a real threat to our democracy. Its birthplace can be found in the U.S where President Trump has launched his personal crusade against immigration, women, LGBT, and human rights. 

In addition to that, Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands could soon both follow Trump’s steps as heads of their respective governments. Both have expressed their intent to target immigration and human rights if they win the next elections. They have aslo called on the international community to unite to create an international coalition to spread their ideas worldwide. Such a coalition could be catastrophic, since it would eliminate the rights that our ancestors achieved through decades of fighting.

As a result of all of this, there is clear evidence that, in the near future, bigotry will continue increasing to levels not seen in decades. It is in this context that we cannot wait any longer to unite and organize to resist these threats. For that reason, I suggest we start working to create a new inclusive organization to lead the resistance in western countries. It would fight back against any threat to our society regardless of political orientation.

In most cases, people tend to associate resistance against xenophobia with the Democrats in the U.S and Social Democrats in Europe. Both are supposed to be left organizations which defend the working and the middle class. However, their ties with the so-called establishment backed by previous administrations invalidate them from fighting xenophobic populism.

The resistance against bigoted movements must be broad and target xenophobic leaders, but also those who are acting indecorously by helping bigots such as Trump to win elections in their countries. For that reason, it is not possible to build an effective resistance, settled with old generations of unpopular Democrats (US) and Social Democrats (EU) leaders.

The alternative must come from those who have never represented any political party, instead, it should come through a new organization, which should represent all those minority groups who have been ignored in western countries for decades. It should come from below. Yet it is crucial that we know what this broad movement is for, as well as what it is against.

Under the existing context, a generation of true right defenders are leaving traditional political parties such as Democrats in the U.S., and Socialist Parties all across Europe. They are engaged in a process which causes divisions in their parties and finally, are forced to leave if they want to keep their convictions up. Unfortunately, after they leave their political parties, these brilliant minds feel betrayed and do not want to join any other project since they all seem very similar to each other.

Further, in just a few months, thousands of citizens from all over western countries have started to become interested in politics since they understand that it really impacts in their lives somehow. They are very energetic and want to protect their rights, but they have never participated in any political organization or movement, and they do not know how to do it.

For that reason, we need to start working to create a new inclusive organization to attract either, the millions of citizens from the working and middle classes who are interested in organizing a resistance, and those disenchanted brilliant minds who already left traditional political parties.

During the creation of this organization, there should be intense debate about who is allowed to take leadership positions. In my opinion, if this organization wants to repair the damage that has been caused by traditional political parties during decades, it should limit the participation of those who have ever had positions in other political parties or who have represented them. However, since this platform needs to be inclusive, I think it should discuss with them so we can learn how to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

As mentioned, there will soon be many challenges to confront, and unless we are ready, we will lose our freedoms. So let’s organize and resist these threats. Your contribution could determine the future of our global democracy and liberties. To that end, I am calling on you to share this as many times as you can with your contacts to begin an important discussion about the creation of such an organization.

If you are interested in this project contact me at: josepgoded@riseup.net

    

Stephen Bannon: the Person Who Is Silently Changing the World

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, both the national and the international media have frequently focused on Trump’s plans to target immigration and dismantle the existing health-care and education systems. However, most of them have ignored the fact that the real author of these plans is not Trump, but his principal advisor, Stephen Bannon, who is a despicable and intelligent person, and refuses any sort of prominence to focus on his work without raising suspicions.

Bannon demonstrated his intelligence and influence during the last presidential election when he was the person most responsible (a campaign chief) for planning Trump’s campaign that eventually led his victory. Bannon was also the person who recommended that Trump use fierce rhetoric against immigration, the media, and the establishment. Without his presence there Trump would not have been elected President.

As if that were not enough, Bannon was recently selected by Trump to be on the National Security Council board. This group is responsible for advising President Trump regarding national security and foreign policy. Bannon’s presence there has raised increasing concerns among politicians and experts due to his lack of knowledge about security. Many think that he may try to mislead President Trump in order to achieve his personal goals. However, to better understand why experts and the international community have expresed concerns about Stephen Bannon, it is necessary to know his background.

Before working for Trump’s administration, Stephen Bannon was the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC. An American news outlet linked to controversies and the mass fabrication of stories, intended to demonise gays, Muslims, immigrants and liberals. In addition, under Bannon’s leadership, the site has promoted racism, and anti-Muslim ideas, and it has been accused of white nationalism. Bannon once said:

“I think strong countries and strong nationalist movements in countries make strong neighbours.“And that is really the building blocks that built Western Europe and the United States, and I think it’s what can see us forward.”

Breitbart has published dozens of stories accusing U.S. Muslims of sympathising with terrorism.The site has also mocked LGBTQ people, feminists and women, and has also denied the existence of climate change, insisted that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood, and served as a propaganda arm for the Trump campaign.

Controversial BreitBart’s News Headlines:

‘The solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: Women should log off’

http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/07/05/solution-online-harassment-simple-women-log-off/

‘Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew’

http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/05/15/bill-kristol-republican-spoiler-renegade-jew/

‘Trannies whine about hilarious Bruce Jenner billboard’

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/12/04/trannies-whine-hilarious-bruce-jenner-billboard/

‘Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy’

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2015/12/08/birth-control-makes-women-unattractive-and-crazy/

‘Suck it up buttercups: Dangerous Faggot Tour returns to colleges in September’

http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/07/06/milo-yiannopoulos-dangerous-faggot-tour-returns-campuses-fall/

‘Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?’

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2016/02/19/would-you-rather-your-child-had-feminism-or-cancer/

‘Gay rights have made us dumber, it’s time to get back in the closet’

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/17/gay-rights-have-made-us-dumber-its-time-to-get-back-in-the-closet/ 

Bannon has also promoted anti-Semitic conspiracies about globalist cabal of bankers.“We call ourselves ‘the Fight Club.’ You don’t come to us for warm and fuzzy,” said Bannon.

Banon has also expressed his concerns that the United States and the: “Judeo-Christian West” are in a war against an expansionist Islamic ideology. Speaking about Breitbart, Bannon has said:

“We’re the platform for the alt-right.” According to NPR, “The views of the alt-right are widely seen as anti-Semitic and white supremacist.”

Aside from his work as the executive chairman of Breitbart, Bannon has had a disturbing past. He is considered a supremacist who advocates for Alt-Right organisations from all over the world. Probably the most worrying thing is that Bannon has never hidden his global fascist vision and, according to his inner circles, he still praises those who led fascism in European countries such as Germany or Italy during the WWII.

Bannon’s ties with European fascism go further. During UK referendum on the European Union in 2016, Bannon used Breitbart’s propaganda machinery to advocate for Brexit while simultaneously praising Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP (an anti-immigration political party) at the moment. However, his contact with emergent European Alt-Right political leaders did not finish there. Since the Brexit decision, Bannon has increased his contacts with other leaders such as Marine Le Pen (France) and Geert Wilders (the Netherlands), according to several European sources whose name cannot be revealed for security issues. Bannon and Marine Le Pen have met several times to discuss the potential creation of an international coalition to change the world if Le Pen wins the French elections.

Given that Le Pen has a good chance to win the French elections, she has become a global threat. Bannon, who is no longer the executive chairman at Breitbart’s news, has ordered them to initiate a propaganda campaign to weaken her opponents. In addition, Marine Le Pen has confirmed that she will imitate Trump’s Presidential campaign strategy. It is clear that Bannon is not limiting himself to setting up an authoritarian system in the U.S.; his vision goes [much] further. Apparently, he will not stop until such a system is created, or until his ideas and policies are spread worldwide.

A year ago, it was unthinkable that someone with Trump’s characteristics could be elected the president of the U.S., but Bannon‘s hidden efforts helped him get elected in the end. Bannon knew that there were millions of Americans disenchanted with the existing system, and he knew how to exploit it. He also knew that Sanders did not have much chance to win, which made Trump’s election possible.

While much of the American and the international media will continue to undervalue Bannon’s real influence, he will continue working quietly behind scenes, like a termite, slowly but unceasingly planning to plan his next move to achieve his life’s goal; a world governed by authoritarians united to spread fear, and to target, and persecute those who act and think differently.

By Josep.

President Trump and the Freedom of the Press

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics…derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.”– Benjamin Franklin                     

Over the last two years, President Trump has maintained a brutal rhetoric full of hatred against the U.S. media. However, he had never crossed the red line until last Friday, when he decided to call the US media: “the real enemies of the American people.” This was rapidly perceived as an attempt to deepen the existing division and limit the freedom of the press in America. Despite the fact that President Trump had frequently attacked the media for years, it was the first time that he publicly used bellicose rhetoric to do so. The Republican Senator John McCain said in an interview:

“I hate the press. I hate you especially,” McCain told NBC journalist Chuck Todd, who laughed.”The fact is, we need you.” Without a free media, “I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time,”

“I’m very serious now, if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press,” he continued. “Without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”

“When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press,” he said.”And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”John McCain was not the only senator to respond Trump’s statement.

On Saturday, Bernie Sanders said:

“According to Trump, if you want the truth, ignore everything except what he is saying. That’s what totalitarianism is all about.”

Aside from Bernie Sanders and John McCain, many other senators and millions of citizens have expressed their worries about what could be the first step to suppress the freedom of the press and the beginning of a drift towards authoritarianism in the U.S.The protection of the freedom of the press is one of the unique provisions in the Bill of Rights because it protects the freedom of an institution as well as that of individuals.Thomas Jefferson recognised that principle when he wrote to John Jay in 1786. Jefferson said:

“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”

About one year later, Jefferson made his most famous pronouncement on the subject of freedom of the press when he wrote these words to Edward Carrington:

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Over the course of history, many nations and political organisations have utilised Trump’s strategy to criminalise the media in order to deploy a press and propaganda censorship to manipulate the public. It allows authoritarian leaders to falsify information that citizens receive. In the absence of neutral and objective information, people are unable to dissent with the political party in charge. It is also extended to the systematic suppression of views that are contrary to those of the government in power.

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success.”– Adolf Hitler

Freedom of the press is essential to guarantee a healthy democracy, even if we sometimes disagree with some of the media’s news stories. Instead, the crushing of unique ideas is always bad and usually generates a high level of intolerance in a country. Diversity and open-mindedness are effective tools to avoid totalitarianism and develop critical thinking in a society. People should also learn from past mistakes, and remember that it is so easy to create a new authoritarian government, and once it is created, it becomes almost impossible to reverse it again.

For now, no one can argue that President Trump is a dictator because there is still some counterbalance, but no one should deny the fact that he is taking steps in such a direction. Unless someone stops him from limiting the freedom of the press, he may soon use it to deploy an authoritarian system to gain power and increase his manipulative capacity to mislead citizens.

Numerous republican and democratic senators have shown their willingness to take further actions to protect the freedom of the press if needed. However, Trump already counts on the support of his loyal entourage led by Bannon and millions of citizens who blindly believe him. A good example of the blindness of Trump’s supporters happened a few days ago, when during one of his meetings, Trump fabricated a story in order to mislead the public. He suggested that there had been a terrorist attack in Sweden. Despite the fact that it was quickly refuted by the Swedish government, most of Trump’s supporters believed it and still think it was real. 

Over the last few months, Trump’s supporters have been radicalised. If it is not halted, they will soon be willing to defend President Trump (including using armed force) regardless of any circumstance. This could prevent senators to take further action (including impeachment) against the President if he ever decides to limit the freedom of the press, since they would fear harsh reaction and conflict. Due to these circumstances, Americans will now have the responsibility for leading the opposition to Trump’s actions of bigotry.

Obsolete political parties such as the Democratic party will be resigned to a second position without any influential power to change the existing situation. It is important to remember that at the end of the day, and despite performances, the Democratic Party tends to betray their own words, as well as the millions of citizens who thought they could change the system for the better by voting for them. So the question now is: what will happen? Will American citizens allow President Trump to deploy an authoritarian system, which could potentially abolish people’s rights? Will they allow the Democratic Party to be led by Clinton or her entourage to do so instead? Or will they take other sorts of actions this time to really protect their rights and pursue more freedom? Whatever the decision will be, the most important thing is that citizens will have the last word, whether they know it or not. Every day that Trump is in office and allowed to manipulate American citizens, is another day that the authoritarian regime moves closer.



 

 

 


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.

download-1

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.

story_647_092615070913-1

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.

download-7

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.

2015_10_29_pub-dawood-al-marhoon

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.