Video Report from World Social Forum 2009 Belem

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Opening ceremony at WSF 2009

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Bush’s Secret Counterterrorism Law Book—and the Demands to Release It

News from Democracy Now!
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Article at ProRepublica, for fair use only

by Chisun Lee, ProPublica – January 28, 2009 6:10 am EST

President Obama at the State Department (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

See our interactive chart of the Bush administration’s still secret memos [1].

Last week, President Barack Obama formally repudiated [2] certain counterterrorism tactics, including coercive interrogation, that his predecessor’s administration had gone out defending.

Said Dick Cheney in one parting television interview touching on aggressive interrogation: “I can’t claim perfection [3],” but “I can tell you that we had all the legal authorization we needed to do it, including the sign-off of the Justice Department.”

Then-President Bush put it more simply. He told CNN’s Larry King, “I got legal opinions that said whatever we’re going to do is legal [4].”

They were talking about legal analyses generated by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, a small but powerful corps of lawyers who give “authoritative legal advice [5]” to the executive branch. OLC opinions, or “memos,” effectively tell executive agencies, including the military, what they may or may not do as a matter of law. Questionable conduct backed by a favorable OLC memo will almost always pass muster. In other words, OLC memos serve as law in the executive branch.

But Bush and Cheney neglected to mention that many OLC memos assessing their strategies for interrogation, detention, surveillance and prosecution remain secret [6]. With an ardent advocate of government openness — and critic of Bush policies — slated to take over the OLC, however, people may soon know more.

Some of the memos are by now well-known, for example the August 2002 memo that narrowed the definition of torture [7]. But many counterterrorism-related OLC memos, including all those addressing the administration’s domestic warrantless wiretapping program [8], still haven’t been released. Continue reading

Gaza/Operation cast lead : Final statement of a mission of prominent lawyers and activists.

Israel & Occupied Palestinian Territories / Gaza

statement published by fith

We are appalled at the horror of the war launched in the Gaza strip, the major loss of civilian lives and the wide scale destruction of civilian property and infrastructure in the context of the operation « Cast Lead, » as well as by the failure of the international community to prevent this tragedy.

All the versions of this article: [عربي]

Based upon the information our delegation received from Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations, who have been monitoring the armed conflict, we have strong reasons to believe that Israel has grossly violated international humanitarian law, including the IVth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Populations in Times of Conflict and customary international law governing the conduct of hostilities. Some of these violations constitute crimes under international law. In particular, the Israeli army has engaged in indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks and has failed in its legal obligation to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure from such attacks.

The operations have also gravely impaired the civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights of the people of Gaza.

No violation of International Humanitarian Law – as perpetrated by Palestinian combatants – can ever legitimise similar or aggravated violations committed by Israel.

Therefore, the members of the mission call for the urgent establishment of an independent commission of investigation into all the alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, which would bring to light the individual responsibilities involved and pave the way for mechanisms of accountability and redress. All parties to the IVth Geneva Convention have a legal obligation to deploy such investigation

The members of the mission also condemn the inability of the United States and of the European Union, partners of the Israeli government, to take strong measures aimed at preventing or stopping the war.

We urge the European Union and the United States to give their immediate and full support to the independent investigation that should be organised immediately.

We urge the international community to exert pressure on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza and end its occupation of all Palestinian Territory.

We call upon the Israeli and Egyptian authorities to ensure prompt access of human rights observers into the Gaza strip. Continue reading

Assault on Ms. Constantina Kuneva: Fear for the physical integrity of a human rights defender

Urgent call from fidh
The Observatory has been informed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) about the assault on Ms. Constantina Kuneva, a Bulgarian migrant worker and General Secretary of All Attica Union of Cleaners and Domestic Workers (PEKOP) based in Athens, which represents workers in the cleaning sector in the Attiki region, and the subsequent lack of adequate investigation by the Greek authorities into this assault.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your intervention in the following situation in Greece.

According to the information received, on December 22, 2008, Ms. Constantina Kuneva was the victim of an attack using sulphuric acid as she was returning home from her workplace. She was seriously injured, losing the use of one eye and of her vocal chords and she is still in a hospital intensive care unit. Continue reading

Film: Pour un instant la liberté” de Arash T. Rihahi

Le Filme “Pour un instant la liberté” de Arash T. Rihahi – est sorti le  28 janvier en France avec le soutien d’Amnesty International, de la FIDH, du Réseau Education Sans Frontières …
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Ce film suit le parcours de familles et d’individus ayant fui l’Iran et bloqués en Turquie dans leur long périple vers l’Europe ; il pose un regard plein d’humour, de sensibilité sur leurs déboires, les violences subies, mais aussi les contradictions qui les traversent dans cette situation sans issue : les rapports hommes / femmes, l’attitude par rapport à la religion, …

Le Réseau  Education Sans Frontières nous signale :

« Nous nous y associons car nous pensons qu’il peut contribuer à changer le regard des français sur les migrants, en l’occurrence iraniens (et un kurde) mais la situation est assez universelle, malheureusement (Fin 2007, on estimait à 11,4 millions le nombre de réfugiés dans le monde). »

Site du film : http://www.pouruninstantlaliberte.com/

Blog du film : http://blog.pouruninstantlaliberte.com/

Voire aussi:

http://www.filmsdulosange.fr/liberte/site.html

Réseau Éducation Sans Frontières

155 organisations de défense des droits de l’Homme à travers le monde

The Final Solution is a No-State Solution by William Bowles

Posted at Creative-i, for fair use only

By William Bowles professor emeritus International Law see also his Investigating New Imperialism Essays

It was either in 1941 or maybe 1942 that the Nazis implemented the ‘Final Solution’, the extermination of all ‘non-Aryan’ peoples that included not only the Jews but also the Roma and the Serbs. So the term Holocaust is not copyright © the Jewish ‘race’ in spite of their appropriation of the Upper case.

The numbers are not important, let the historians and researchers argue over whether it was five or six million Jews or whether it was half-a-million or two million Roma who ‘went up the chimney'[1] (I don’t have a number for the Serbs, but perhaps a million died at the hands of the Croatian Ustase, the local Nazis in the then Yugoslavia, as well as at the hands of German Nazi occupiers).

What is important about the ‘Final Solution’ is that it was a state-sponsored project to not only entirely eradicate ‘non-Aryans’ but to erase all traces of their existence; their history, their cultures and languages, what today we call genocide. An apt lesson for the creation of the state of Israel, that for its creation, also required the total removal of all things non-Jewish.

The parallels with the Nazi state are so obvious yet not alluded to at all in the current tragedy of the Palestinian people, but Eretz (Greater) Israel flows from the same source, the imperial urge to expand and subdue, to exterminate all that is non ‘Jewish’ in the land that is Palestine. Continue reading

Hugo Chavez on Bolivia: The Yes Vote Triumphed

Posted on Bolivia Rising

Hugo Chavez, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Caracas, Jan 27. The Yes vote triumphed in Bolivia. That is to say, the Bolivian people approved the new political Constitution of the State. I was fortunate to speak with comrade President Evo Morales the same night of the victory.

Evo achieved victory again; and he really deserves it. He has been a great leader; he has withstood all kind of aggressions and conspiracies promoted by the imperialist Bush government, which has used an unpatriotic bourgeoisie and a fascist right-wing movement as its tools.

The vote of the humble people, the indigenous people, and the people excluded for 500 years, prevailed.

However, it is necessary to say that this victory goes beyond Bolivia to enter the historical process described by comrade Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa as a change of time.

In my opinion, this process carries in its backbone a deep social revolution, powerfully expressed in the fields of politics and laws.

This is how a new constitutional doctrine has been emerging in South America, a doctrine based on the original constituent power of our people. Continue reading