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Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights

Morocco: Two Victims of Gay Hate Attack, Imprisoned, Freed.

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Outside the Trial a Demonstration Against Homosexuality (4th April).

This story broke a few weeks ago.

A Moroccan court has convicted one man and is trying a second for homosexual acts, after a group of youths attacked and brutalized them on the night of March 9, 2016. The youths broke into the home of one of the men in the city of Beni Mellal, beat them, and dragged them naked onto the streets.

The case attracted international attention when a video clip appeared online on March 25, showing two men cowering naked, one of them covered in blood, being beaten, kicked, and dragged outside, while anti-gay slurs and “Call the authorities!” – apparently uttered by the assailants – can be heard on the soundtrack.

“Beaten, bloodied, and pushed naked into the street, and then sent to prison for your private life,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director. “This verdict will discourage victims from seeking justice and increase the likelihood of homophobic crimes.”

In March 15, the Beni Mellal Court of First Instance convicted one of the victims, A.B., for “acts of sexual deviancy with a person of the same sex,” under penal code article 489, and “public drunkenness.” The defendant, who according to his police statement had waived his right to legal counsel, was sentenced to four months in prison and a 500 dirham (US$52) fine and remains in prison. The same court that day convicted two of the attackers for assault and sentenced them to suspended two-month sentences.

Libération reports today that after spending 26 days in Prison the two victims have finally been released.

Homosexuality in Morocco is punished by six months to three years in gaol.

Two of the attackers have been discharged, two others who had been sentenced to two months suspended sentences have now been sent respectively to to four and six months. A fifth attacker, who is a minor, will be judged on the 20th of April.

The case drew international attention when a video appeared of the two men, their faces covered in blood, being dragged by their attackers along the street (La vidéo insoutenable de l’agression homophobe d’un couple homosexuel).

On Monday members of the group Femen appeared and attempted to demonstrate, with bare chests. “«Alors qu’une centaine de personnes manifestaient en défense des agresseurs homophobes, Femen est venu dénoncer l’homophobie d’Etat au Maroc», indique un communiqué des Femen qui réclame la libération des personnes «emprisonnées du fait de leur simple orientation sexuelle». While a hundred people have showed up to defend the homophobic attackers, Femen has come to denounced State homophobia in Morocco, they indicated in a communique, who demanded the people imprisoned for their sexuality be freed.

 Femen protesters arrested.

FEMEN MAROC

Written by Andrew Coates

April 12, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Secular Critic of Islamism, Nazimuddin Samad, Hacked to Death in Bangladesh.

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Nazimuddin Samad, from his Facebook page

Nazimuddin Samad: Murdered for Criticising Islam. 

The Dhaka Tribune reports.

Student on hitlist killed by militants Mohammad Jamil Khan

Killers were chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ while hacking the Gonojagoron Moncho activist

A masters student of Jagannath University was killed by suspected Islamist militants in Old Dhaka’s Sutrapur area last night.

Nazimuddin Samad, 28, was a student of the law department’s evening batch.

He was attacked at Ekrampur intersection around 8:30pm by three assailants while walking to his home in Gendaria with another youth after completing classes at the university near Bahadur Shah Park.

The youth accompanying the victim has remained traceless since the incident, police said.

Nazim is the son of Shamshul Haque from Bianibazar area of Sylhet. He was the information and research secretary of Sylhet district unit Bangabandhu Jatiya Jubo Parishad. He was also an activist of Gonojagoron Moncho’s Sylhet wing.

His friends said that Nazim used to campaign for secularism on Facebook and was critical of radical Islamists. A day before the murder, he expressed concerns over the country’s law and order in a Facebook post.

Police said that the killers who came on a motorcycle first intercepted them and then attacked Nazim with machetes. At one point, he fell on the street and then the attackers shot him to confirm death before leaving the place.

Businessmen of the area closed the shops immediately after hearing the gunshots.

During the murder, the killers were chanting “Allahu Akbar,” police said quoting locals.

Visiting the spot, the Dhaka Tribune reporter found the crime scene cordoned by the law enforcers and all the shops closed. Police recovered a bullet shell from the spot.

Nurul Amin, assistant commissioner of Sutrapur division, told the Dhaka Tribune that police went to the spot on information and found the body in a pool of blood. They were confirmed about his identity by the ID found in his pocket. Later, the police informed the university authorities and sent the body to hospital.

Doctors at Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital declared him dead at 9pm.

AC Nurul further said that it is clear that the assailants kept an eye on Nazim’s activities for long and were aware of his way back home. “We are investigating the case sincerely to know the motive of the murder,” he added.

JnU Proctor Nur Mohammad said that Nazim got admitted to the university two months ago. “We have informed his family about the murder and are taking detail information about him,” he said.

Shamir Chandra Sutradhar, inspector (investigation) of Sutrapur police station, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Even though the spot was crowded at the time of the murder, they are not sharing any information with the police.

“However, we are trying to identify the assailants by talking to the shopkeepers and residents of the area.”

Comrade Samad’s background is described here:

Samad, a student of Jagannath University, used to write frequently against religious extremism. He had written “I have no religion” on his Facebook profile under religious views. In some of his recent posts, Samad had supported a petition to remove Islam as Bangladesh’s state religion, according to the New York Times.

“Evolution is a scientific truth. Religion and race are invention of the savage and uncivil people,” he reportedly wrote on Facebook. However, about a month back, Samad deactivated his Facebook account at the request of his family.

According to the Times, Samad’s Facebook page identified him as a member of the Shahbag movement, which seeks punishment for Bangladeshis who fought for Pakistan during the 1971 war for independence.

International Business Times. 

The International Humanist and Ethical Union has published these moving reflections,

Nazimuddin’s writing

Tributes and alarmed messages are flooding in on Nazimuddin’s personal Facebook page, where he regularly posted atheist and feminist criticism of Islam. He was critical both of the Islamist political parties, and against the failings of the current government. Shortly before he was killed, he wrote a post implying that the ruling Awami League party would fall if it did not make swift changes, writing (in Bengali): “The situation of the country, deterioration of law and order in the country, speak that maybe you cannot stay long in power.”

In earlier posts, Nazimuddin responded to a cleric’s violent speech against women which referenced the Quran, contrasting the speech with the claim that “Islam is the highest honor given to women!” He asked for justice for a girl known as Tonu, who had been raped and killed in the military area of ‘Cantoment’, Comilla.

Nazimuddin recently criticised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s support for madrassa (Islamic schools), which are increasingly associated with Islamist radicalism and militancy in the country. Nazimuddin had also shared posts from Washiqur Rahman Babu who was killed last year in a similar attack, carried out by two madrassa students who claimed they were acting on orders from someone associated with their Islamic schools.

In another post, he proposed a satirical strategy to overcome the aggressive push toward Islamism in the country, writing: “Please let’s have Sharia Law for just five years in Bangladesh. Rule the country with Medina Law. I guarantee you, after this 5 years, no Muslim of Bangladesh will ask for Islamic law! The loss and damage we will have after five years, it will take 1400 years to restore us to a modern country.”

Nurul Amin, assistant commissioner of Sutrapur division police, is reported as saying that the assailants must have kept an eye on Nazim’s activities ahead of the attack, and were aware of his route home. “We are investigating the case sincerely to know the motive of the murder,” he said.

Reaction

President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Andrew Copson, commented tonight:

“It is clear from Nazimuddin’s Facebook posts and protest activity that he was a politically and socially engaged young man. He offered criticisms of certain radical religious figures and doctrines, thoughts of a kind that many people, not just atheists and humanists but also many religious people, express all over the world, every day.

“Every time a thoughtful and honest person like Nazimuddin is hacked or gunned down, apparently for doing nothing more than speaking their minds on secularist, political and religious topics, we and others will make a point of finding out what he said, what he did, what he wrote about, and sharing it. It will be seen by more people than ever would have seen it before. And we will remember his name and the growing list of names of those who were singled out and killed, by small-minded, hateful extremists who appear to think that words can be killed. They cannot.”

We mourn deeply this death, and extend love to all Nazimuddin’s family and friends. 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2016 at 11:39 am

Pakistan Slaughter: Infinite Sadness.

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Child's funeral - 28 March

Dozens of Children were amongst the dead.

A Taliban splinter group says it carried out a suicide attack on a park in Lahore, Pakistan, which killed more than 70 people, including children.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said it had targeted Christians celebrating Easter, though police have said they are still investigating the claim.

There were scenes of carnage as parents searched for children amid the debris.

Pakistan’s president condemned the attack, and the regional government has announced three days of mourning.

At least 300 people were injured, with officials saying they expected the death toll to rise.

All major hospitals in the area were put on an emergency footing after the blast, early on Sunday evening.

BBC

A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the explosion, saying it was targeted at Christians celebrating Easter. A spokesman for the group, Ehsanullah Ehsan, told the Guardian: “We have carried out this attack to target the Christians who were celebrating Easter. Also this is a message to the Pakistani prime minister that we have arrived in Punjab [the ruling party’s home province].”

Guardian.

2013.

Pakistan church bomb: Christians mourn 85 killed in Peshawar suicide attack

Pakistan’s worst-ever attack on beleaguered Christians prompts warning by bishop for future of minority in Muslim countries.

In Pakistan, 1.5% of the population are Christian. Pakistani law mandates that “blasphemies” of the Qur’an are to be met with punishment. At least a dozen Christians have been given death sentences,[198] and half a dozen murdered after being accused of violating blasphemy laws. In 2005, 80 Christians were behind bars due to these laws.[199]

Ayub Masih, a Christian, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 1998. He was accused by a neighbor of stating that he supported British writer Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. Lower appeals courts upheld the conviction. However, before the Pakistan Supreme Court, his lawyer was able to prove that the accuser had used the conviction to force Masih’s family off their land and then acquired control of the property. Masih has been released.[200]

In October 2001, gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a Protestant congregation in the Punjab, killing 18 people. The identities of the gunmen are unknown. Officials think it might be a banned Islamic group.[201]

In March 2002, five people were killed in an attack on a church in Islamabad, including an American schoolgirl and her mother.[202]

In August 2002, masked gunmen stormed a Christian missionary school for foreigners in Islamabad; six people were killed and three injured. None of those killed were children of foreign missionaries.[203]

In August 2002, grenades were thrown at a church in the grounds of a Christian hospital in north-west Pakistan, near Islamabad, killing three nurses.[204]

On 25 September 2002, two terrorists entered the “Peace and Justice Institute”, Karachi, where they separated Muslims from the Christians, and then murdered seven Christians by shooting them in the head.[205][206] All of the victims were Pakistani Christians. Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil said the victims had their hands tied and their mouths had been covered with tape.

In December 2002, three young girls were killed when a hand grenade was thrown into a church near Lahore on Christmas Day.[207]

In November 2005, 3,000 militant Islamists attacked Christians in Sangla Hill in Pakistan and destroyed Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and United Presbyterian churches. The attack was over allegations of violation of blasphemy laws by a Pakistani Christian named Yousaf Masih. The attacks were widely condemned by some political parties in Pakistan.[208]

On 5 June 2006, a Pakistani Christian, Nasir Ashraf, was assaulted for the “sin” of using public drinking water facilities near Lahore.[209]

One year later, in August 2007, a Christian missionary couple, Rev. Arif and Kathleen Khan, were gunned down by militant Islamists in Islamabad. Pakistani police believed that the murders was committed by a member of Khan’s parish over alleged sexual harassment by Khan. This assertion is widely doubted by Khan’s family as well as by Pakistani Christians.[210][211]

In August 2009, six Christians, including four women and a child, were burnt alive by Muslim militants and a church set ablaze in Gojra, Pakistan when violence broke out after alleged desecration of a Qur’an in a wedding ceremony by Christians.[212][213]

On 8 November 2010, a Christian woman from Punjab Province, Asia Noreen Bibi, was sentenced to death by hanging for violating Pakistan’s blasphemy law. The accusation stemmed from a 2009 incident in which Bibi became involved in a religious argument after offering water to thirsty Muslim farm workers. The workers later claimed that she had blasphemed the Muhammed. As of 8 April 2011, Bibi is in solitary confinement. Her family has fled. No one in Pakistan convicted of blasphemy has ever been executed. A cleric has offered $5,800 to anyone who kills her.[214][215]

On 2 March 2011, the only Christian minister in the Pakistan government was shot dead. Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities, was in his car along with his niece. Around 50 bullets struck the car. Over 10 bullets hit Bhatti. Before his death, he had publicly stated that he was not afraid of the Taliban’s threats and was willing to die for his faith and beliefs. He was targeted for opposing the anti-free speech “blasphemy” law, which punishes insulting Islam or its Prophet.[216] A fundamentalist Muslim group claimed responsibility.[217]

On 27 March 2016, a suicide bomber from a Pakistani Taliban faction killed at least 60 people and injured 300 others in an attack at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore, Pakistan, and the group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it intentionally targeted Christians celebrating Easter Sunday.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

Greek Communist Party “Explains” Homosexuality and “Bourgeois Human Rights”.

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“I am free to experiment and then choose my sexual identity” – Bourgeois Human Rights says KKE.

This has been signaled on the Marxism List and is so extraordinary that it merits a wide readership particularity amongst those who consider the Greek Communist Party ‘progressive’ for its opposition to Syriza.

On the Cohabitation agreement.

Kommounistiki Epitheorisi, the political-theoretical journal of the CC of KKE (Issue 1, 2016).

“On December 22, 2015 the bill “Cohabitation Agreement, exercising of rights, criminal and other provisions” was passed in parliament by the procedure of a roll call vote. In total, 193 MPs voted in favour and 56 against. The parliamentary groups of SYRIZA, PASOK, POTAMI and the Union of Centrists (Enosi Kentron) voted in favour of the law. Differing positions of MPs were observed in NEW DEMOCRACY and the Independent Greeks (ANEL).

This legislative initiative had been widely publicized throughout the previous period both through the electronic and print media and by various homosexual organizations as “a step forward for modern Greece”, “with the principle of equality as a starting point and with an eye on Europe ‘.

Theoretical background:

The institutional recognition of homosexual cohabitation is pursued in the name of human rights, with a focus on ensuring individual rights, including sexual. The legal recognition of cohabitation by individuals with homosexual orientation is viewed as safeguarding minority rights. It is an aspect of the bourgeois concept of individual rights, pluralism, and the right to diversity, to self-determination of the body. It is expressed slogan “I am free to experiment and then choose my sexual identity.”

Homosexual orientation or alternating between homosexual and heterosexual orientation is presented by sections of intellectuals and artists, especially to the youth as an unconventional, dissident, and radical form of behaviour, as a “way” to overcome outdated perceptions of women’s position in society, about sexuality, as a “form of conflict with authority, based on the male-dominated society.” It projects the concept that “sexual identity is something fluid”, socially and linguistically constructed. This is the philosophical current of postmodernism and postmodernity that ultimately denies the objectivity of biological sex which is the basis for a predominantly heterosexual sexual orientation. It argues that “gender is not what we are, but what we do.”

It ignores or conceals the class factors that led to the different positions of the two sexes and the ruling classes in the evolution of society, from the primitive community household in the first class society onwards. In the passage from one socioeconomic formation to another, surplus products appear, produced to meet community needs. Some products were produced in excess due to the development of the means of production and work implements, the cultivation of land, herds, which came under the ownership of men who appropriated the surplus, the surplus product. The owner of the surplus began to distance himself from the need to work for survival, exploiting the work of prisoners of war, slaves. The woman could not overcome the inherent biological differences she had with her husband that render her more vulnerable in nature. To protect the need for the reproduction of the species, she could not stray far from the community household that lost its social character with the onset of the first class division of society, with the exploitation of man by man. Moreover, the need for wealth to be inherited by the “legitimate” offspring of the man was established. In this way, the domination of the man over the woman was institutionalized at both an individual and social level.

By bypassing the social causes which imposed overwhelmingly different social behaviours between the sexes, these theories lead to the denial of the biological differences between men and women, ultimately denying the objectivity of biological gender identity.

The Communist Party from 2008 onwards had expressed reservations and concerns about the fact that the enactment of the CA for heterosexual couples was in essence a first step towards the enactment – through its expansion – of a corresponding agreement for same-sex couples. For this reason, KKE had voted “present.” In any case, if Greece had not enacted a CA for heterosexual couples, it would not have been accused of discrimination. There is the possibility, however, of Greece being accused of discrimination with the same logic because it makes no legal provision for marriage between same-sex couples with the respective rights and obligations arising from it (adoption etc.).

This is the key section:

The biological origin of humankind is the result of a male-female sexual relationship, which as such, is of interest to and is regulated by society. Objectively a child that is raised by a same-sex couple, from the first determinative years of its life, acquires a distorted perception of the biological relationship between the sexes. A correct perception of this relationship is an essential ingredient for its smooth psychosomatic and social development.

Which is not mitigated by this:

In summary, the KKE considers that sexual orientation is a private matter, like cohabitation. Sexual orientation, sexual relationships or sexual satisfaction does not produce social rights. The institutionalization of the cohabitation agreement for same-sex couples is essentially an extension of the family institution to these couples. Experience from other countries shows that when a cohabitation agreement or gay marriage was legislated, it paved the way for the adoption of children.

It is important to note that the KKE condemns and is absolutely opposed to any behaviour or practice that is targets people on the basis of their sexual orientation. It considers attacks unacceptable, but also any other related abuse. For this reason, in Parliament it voted in favour of an amendment that makes provisions for the severe punishment for any such behaviour.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 7, 2016 at 6:33 pm

Zaman Newspaper, Turkey: Erdoğan Takes Control of Critical Media.

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Police fired tear gas at protesters outside Zaman's offices on Friday night (4 March)

Saturday Protests at Erdoğan’s Islamist Government’s Takeover of Zaman.

Turkish police have raided the offices of Zaman, the country’s biggest newspaper, hours after a court ruling placed it under state control.

Police entered the building in Istanbul late on Friday, firing tear gas at protesters who had gathered outside.

Zaman is closely linked to the Hizmet movement of influential US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey says Hizmet is a “terrorist” group aiming to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Mr Gulen was once an ally of Mr Erdogan but the two fell out.

Many Hizmet supporters have been arrested.

The government in Ankara has come under increasing international criticism over its treatment of journalists.

The court ruled on Friday that Zaman, that has a circulation of some 650,000, should now be run by administrators. No explanation was given.

Later, hundreds of Zaman supporters gathered outside the newspaper’s offices to protest at the state takeover. One held a placard saying, “We will fight for a free press.”

Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

BBC

Police using tear gas and water cannon raided the headquarters of Turkey’s largest-circulation newspaper, hours after a court placed it under the management of trustees.

Police set up barricades on Saturday to keep out Zaman readers arriving at the building in a show of support.

The English-language Today’s Zaman Saturday edition, published before the forced take-over, printed its entire front page in black with the headline: “Shameful day for free press in Turkey.”

Prosecutors accused Zaman and its affiliates of praising and helping what they called a “terrorist organisation”.

“It has been a habit for the last three, four years, that anyone who is speaking against government policies is facing either court cases or prison, or such control by the government,” said Abdulhamit Bilici, editor-in-chief of Zaman.

“This is a dark period for our country, our democracy.”

Al Jazeera.

Before this seizure Zaman’s English language site published this:

Reactions have mounted in Turkey against a government-orchestrated move to seize the nation’s best-selling newspaper Zaman and its affiliate publications including Today’s Zaman as part of a crackdown on critical and independent media.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Murat Emir spoke on Friday morning when the takeover of Zaman was still a rumor circulating on social media. Emir said that he saw the move as the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) trying to silence free and independent media.

Expressing that the media in Turkey faces new attacks every day, Emir said that the majority of these assaults were being done under the guise of the law. “We [CHP] condemn all attempts to subdue the free media. We are against all attacks [against the media] and believe these attacks must come to an end.”

Speaking to Zaman daily on Friday morning, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Ümit Özdağ, who recently resigned from his position as deputy chairman of the MHP said he cannot believe the government is going to take over the Zaman daily and its subsidiaries.

CHP deputy Akif Ekici said of the takeover that he believes the current government in Turkey has the potential to take over newspapers, appoint trustees to media organizations, and file people into jails. “I don’t know where this oppression will end though,” he said.

Several staunchly pro-government journalists have claimed that two critical journalists who were recently released from prison will be re-arrested and that the government will silence a major critical media outlet, while a Twitter whistleblower claimed that trustees had already been appointed to take over the media group.

Dündar and Gül were arrested on Nov. 26, 2015 on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, espionage and revealing confidential documents. The charges stem from a terrorism investigation launched after Cumhuriyet published photos in May 2015 of weapons it said were being transferred to Syria in trucks operated by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

Columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak from the pro-government Yeni Akit daily argued in a column on Thursday that Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül may be re-arrested at any time.

“The release of Can [Dündar] and his colleague from prison may be the start of a new series of unfortunate things for them. At least, they may be arrested again. They may face graver accusations with new information and documents,” Dilipak wrote.

Star Daily columnist Cem Küçük, who is known for his open threats against media moguls and journalists critical of the government, also voiced similar claims on Tuesday, arguing that “Dündar will face new and more solid indictments.”

Cumhuriyet’s Dündar and Gül were freed after a Constitutional Court ruling on Feb. 25, which said their imprisonment amounted to a violation of their rights.

Küçük also said, “according to information he obtained,” Feza Media Group, which also includes Today’s Zaman, will be seized by the government. He argued that trustees will be appointed to the group soon.

Also on Thursday, Twitter whistleblower Fuat Avni claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who “has no tolerance for any media group that would criticize his plans for a presidential switch,” ordered the seizure of Zaman daily, the main newspaper under the Feza Media Group.”

“He told off those who told him that there is no legal infrastructure to seize Zaman,” Avni claimed.

“He is taking the revenge for the Constitutional Court’s decision favoring the release of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. The order [to seize Zaman] has been sent to [his] men at the judiciary,” he further claimed.

“They arranged Prosecutor Fuzuli Aydoğdu and the 6th Penal Court of Peace. They made the court to appoint trustees to the Zaman daily,” Avni wrote on Twitter. Avni also argued that any resistance to the seizure of Zaman Media Group will be brutally supressed by the police.

President Erdoğan openly said on Sunday he does not obey or respect the decision by the Constitutional Court that declared that the imprisonment of the journalists amounted to a violation of their rights.

“The Constitutional Court may have reached such a verdict. I will remain silent. I am not in a position to accept it,” Erdoğan told reporters before departing for a visit to some West African countries. “I do not obey it nor do I respect it.”

Dündar and Gül were arrested on charges of espionage and aiding a terrorist organization in November after the publication of video footage purporting to show Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) helping to send weapons to Syria when they were intercepted in 2014 by gendarmerie forces. The arrest drew international condemnation and revived concern about media freedom in Turkey.

Erdoğan, who had described the interception of the MİT trucks as an act of espionage aimed at undermining Turkey internationally, vowed that Dündar and the newspaper would pay a “heavy price” for reporting on the incident. “I will not let him go [unpunished],” he said back in November.

Commenting on claims on more pressure on the critical media, Zaman daily Editor-in-Chief Abdülhamit Bilici said it does not befit a country ruled by democracy and the law to discuss such attempts in 2016. “Such demands and illegal attempts [to silence critical media] are not allowed in countries where democracy and the laws are functioning. We regret to see such comments and claims,” he added.

Bilici further said on Twitter that he hopes these claims are not true. “If these disgusting claims are true, I am calling on all democrats to stand by press freedom,” he said.

This is the second time the Zaman daily has become the target of government-orchestrated raids, as on Dec. 14 along police raided the İstanbul headquarters of the daily detaining total of 31 suspects, including Zaman’s former Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı as part of a crackdown on dissenting media by the AK Party.

The Index on Censorship has launched a petition calling on an İstanbul court to reverse its decision to appoint trustees to Turkey’s largest daily, also urging President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stop crackdown on free media.

Petition calls on court to reverse decision on Zaman, urges Erdoğan to end crackdown on free press

“Join Index on Censorship, writers, journalists and artists from around the world to condemn the shocking seizure of Turkish independent media group, Zaman,” the change.orgpetition said.

“Today Turkey seized one of the country’s leading newspapers. In so doing, Turkey has confirmed that it is no longer committed to a free press, which is the bedrock of any democratic society. We, the undersigned, ask the court to reverse its decision to seize Zaman and urge the international community to speak out against Turkey’s repeated attempts to stifle a free and independent media,” it added.

Sign the Petition here: Petitioning President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: End Turkey’s crackdown on press freedom.

This crack down on critical media comes as the Erdoğan government wages war on the Kurds.

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Written by Andrew Coates

March 5, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Comrade Peter Tatchell, ‘Racist’ and ‘Transphobic’, according to National Union of Students.

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Human Rights have no Exceptions.

The emails from the officer of the National Union of Students were unequivocal. Fran Cowling, the union’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) representative, said that she would not share a stage with a man whom she regarded as having been racist and “transphobic”.

That the man in question is Peter Tatchell – one of the country’s best-known gay rights campaigners, who next year celebrates his 50th year as an activist – is perhaps a mark of how fractured the debate on free speech and sexual politics has become.

In the emails, sent to the organisers of a talk at Canterbury Christ Church University on Monday on the topic of “re-radicalising queers”, Cowling refuses an invitation to speak unless Tatchell, who has also been invited, does not attend. In the emails she cites Tatchell’s signing of an open letter in the Observer last year in support of free speech and against the growing trend of universities to “no-platform” people, such as Germaine Greer, for holding views with which they disagree.

Cowling claims the letter supports the incitement of violence against transgender people. She also made an allegation against him of racism or of using racist language. Tatchell told the Observer that the incident was yet another example of “a witch-hunting, accusatory atmosphere” symptomatic of a decline in “open debate on some university campuses”.

Reports the Observer.

The Tendance has known and supported comrade Peter Tatchell for over 25 years.

We were fellow supporters of Labour Briefing (he was one of the early figures in the monthly), fellow members of the Socialist Society Steering Committee.

The Tendance backs his human rights campaigning to the hilt.

Comrade Tatchell has fought for gay rights, for human rights, in the face of great hostility.

He has been beaten up by Mugabe’s thugs and Russian Nazis.

He was so badly assaulted in 2007 that the long-terms effects of the injuries meant that was unable to stand as a candidate for the Green Party in the last General Election.

I’m not deterred one iota from coming back to protest in Moscow,” Peter Tatchell told PinkNews.co.uk from Moscow, just hours after he was attacked by suspected neo-Nazis and then arrested by the Russian riot police the OMON. “Gay Russians need overseas support to protect them against state and neo-Nazi violence.”

He was speaking after arrests and violent attacks marred today’s attempted Moscow Gay Pride march. The organizer of Moscow Pride, Nikolai Alekseev, is still being detained at Moscow’s Tverskoi district police station, together with two prominent members of Russia’s Radical and Free Radical parties, Nikolai Khramov and Sergei Konstantinov. Those who attacked Mr Tatchell are believed to be free, while Mr Alekseev, who took part in a peaceful protest remains in police custody

Mr Tatchell told PinkNews.co.uk: “I urge people to protest to the Russian Ambassador and to ask their local MP to send a letter of protest to the Russian embassy.”

He added: “We also need a strong statement of condemnation from the Foreign Office, who have so far been silent. I am a British citizen violently attacked when mounting a lawful protests whilst the Russian police allowed violence to be perpetrated against me.”

Pink News. 

Comrade Tatchell says: human rights have no exceptions.

There is no “cultural” reason why any state, any political group, any  religion, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, should have special exemption from our  common human framework.

Because comrade Tatchell has defended human rights against Islamism he has been attacked for ‘racism’.

The miserable and mad Bob Pitt even wrote this smear in 2012.

Peter Tatchell not only encourages Islamophobia – he defends the right of homophobes to incite hatred against the LGBT community

Islamists and their supporters, obviously still strong in the NUS, have not stopped this line of attack.

In the face of Islamist genocidal  racism they accuse Tatchell of …racism.

Then there was this last year,

Peter Tatchell criticised for signing letter warning of trans ‘censorship’

This is what he has had to put up with.

The gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has been “unable to sleep” and the Cambridge Classics professor Mary Beard was left “wanting to cry” after a letter they co-wrote supporting freedom of speech unleashed a torrent of abuse from supporters of transgender rights.

The falling out came after the pair signed a letter with 129 others, warning about “a worrying pattern of intimidation and silencing of individuals whose views are deemed ‘transphobic’”.

The signatories insist their only intention was to support freedom of speech in universities, which would allow the anti-transgender views that they both oppose to be defeated in debate.

Some critics, however, accused the pair of being “transphobic”, and claimed that their co-signatories included some feminists with anti-transgender motives. In the ensuing Twitter storm Professor Beard was branded “an unrepentant bigot”, and Mr Tatchell was told: “I would like to tweet your murder you fucking parasite.”

Mr Tatchell, 63, said: “I’ve received about 5,000 messages attacking me. The volume and vitriol of the attack has been almost unprecedented in 48 years of human rights campaigning. I’m shocked.

Independent.

Comrade Tatchell is salt of the earth.

We breath more freely for his tireless courage.

His anti-democratic, anti human rights, opponents are beneath contempt.

 

Update: Peter has been Responding (Pabolite is the Tendance’s Twitter Account).

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 14, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Iranian Elections: Theocracy, not Democracy.

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Iranian Theocracy: Islamism is Incompatible with Democracy.

As ‘elections’ in Iran approach (February the 26th) it’s well to take stock.

Not so long ago, well in 2010, Labour Candidate for Chippenham (2015), Andy Newman argued (Socialist Unity),

Iran simply is a constitutional democracy. I refer Dave to the discussion of the 1979 constitution in Ervand Abrahamian’s book “A History of Modern Iran” Cambridge, 2008. pages 162 to 169. Abrahamian is no apologist for the government, and his book is dedicated to the “memory of more than three hundred political prisoners hanged in 1988 for refusing to feign belief in supernatural”. Abrahamian discusses how the constitution tempers the power of the Guardian Council.

The electorate, all women and men over 16 years old, can vote for the president, as well as for members of the the Majlis (parliament), and provincial and district councils. The Majlis has authority to pass laws, scrutinise the activity of the executive, approve or veto the president’s choices of ministers, debate any issue, and appoint people to the Guardian Council. Indeed over the last 30 years the majlis has acted as a much more substantive parliamentary body in holding the executive to account than the Palace of Westminster has.

The maturity of the democracy is shown in the way that two loose political parties, the Radicals and Conservatives have developed, that government initiatives are often modified or defeated by the Majlis, and that contested transitions of power have been effected by means of democratic vote.

The paradox that this democratic infrastructure exists alongside the concept of “jurists’ guardianship”velayet-e faqeh derived from the revolutionary Islamic theory of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini explains a lot about modern Iran. The Islamic revolution was not per se a religious one, but one that combined a complex mixture of nationalism, political populism and religious radicalism.

This ‘paradox‘ is getting a parading just now.

The grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic, will not be allowed to stand in this month’s election in Iran, the clerical vetting body said on Wednesday, in a blow to reformist forces in the country.

Hassan Khomeini, 43, the first member of the Khomeini family to register for polls and an ally of President Hassan Rouhani, lost an appeal to the body against a ban. The setback comes at a time of growing rivalry between reformists and conservatives stirred by a deal with world powers that lifted economic sanctions against Tehran as part of a nuclear agreement.

Hardliners fear Iranian voters will now be more inclined to reward reformist and moderate candidates in Feb. 26 elections to the 290-seat parliament and the 88-seat Assembly of Experts, the body responsible for choosing the next Supreme Leader.

The Guardian Council, a clerical vetting body responsible for overseeing all elections, excluded thousands of parliamentary hopefuls and hundreds of candidates for the Assembly of Experts, leaving a field mostly of conservatives.

Reuters.

You will find scant reference to the details of this “Vetting” in the house journal of the anti-imperialism of fools, Coutnerpunch. They are more concerned, as, criticising US imperialism first obliges, in the Washington Tehran nuclear deal.

Franklin Lamb for example concentrates on this,

Notes from Tehran. February the 12th.

Many relatively moderate candidates were rejected by hard-liners during the vetting phase. Several of these blocked candidates support President Hassan Rouhani, a key architect of the Iran nuclear deal that they support.

And,

So-called moderate supporters of Iran’s President Rohani may have a major impact on this month’s elections and bring changes to Iran. The Iranian public is sophisticated about what JCPOA is likely to mean for them. Recent polls show that there has been an approximately ten percent drop in public support for the agreement.

It is left to Jane Green in the Morning Star to expose the nature of this ‘Islamic Democracy’.

…the coming elections in Iran are little more than the veneer of democracy, as the ability to stand is tightly controlled by the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader, Ayotollah Ali Khamenei.

Elections to the Majlis (parliament) are held every four years and prominent figures hoping to appear on the ballot paper need to determine beforehand whether Khamenei and his inner circle of advisers will oppose their candidacy.

It is said that the Supreme Leader does not explicitly advise anyone against running, but his office or other high-ranking officials will often reveal his views on specific cases.

Also, when candidates register their names, the Guardian Council has to qualify them based on several criteria, notably their full “practical” loyalty to the Supreme Leader and their recognition of his authority over all matters of the state.

Finally, once elections are complete, the Guardian Council is solely responsible for endorsing the final result, despite sharing supervision over the vote counting process with the Interior Ministry.

Through these methods the Islamic Republic can claim that the elections are free and fair because everyone is eligible to vote.

While attempting to control the outcome of the elections, the regime’s leaders are keen for a massive turnout for the contest in four weeks’ time and have mobilised their entire publicity machine.

The turnout in this election has assumed significance since it will be used as a measure of the popularity of the regime and a test of its political stability.

However this disguises the high degree of manipulation which precedes the selection of those who appear on the ballot paper at all.

Given the conservative nature of the regime in Iran and the fears of many hardliners that Rouhani is “too reformist,” there is every chance that conservatives will take the opportunity to further squeeze out the limited voices for change which there may be in the Majlis.

Of 3,000 candidates put forward by reformists, only 30 have been allowed to stand by the Guardian Council, a mere one in 100 of those wishing to stand.

It is worth remembering that these are candidates who are deemed “reformist” within the very narrow confines of that term in Iranian politics.

There are no candidates opposed to the regime, standing for the rights of women or actively promoting the right of Iranian workers to engage in free and open trade union activity.

Persistent reports in Iranian opposition media indicate that the powerful Sepah Pasdaran (the Guards Corps) are confident that at least 180 out of the 290 seats of the new Majlis will be filled with their candidates, carefully selected from within the ranks of their commanders and ideologists.

In total 40 per cent of the 12,000 hopefuls for parliamentary election, including a significant number of MPs in the outgoing Majlis, have failed to qualify.

Those disqualified include Ali Motahari, a persistent critic of the hard-line Islamists in the regime, and Rasoul Montajabnia, the vice-president of the pro-reform Etemad Melli Party founded by Mehdi Karoubi, one of the two reformist candidates during the 2009 presidential candidates.

Others excluded are Majid Farahani, the head of the pro-reform Nedaye Iranian Party, and Akbar Alami, a former reformist member of parliament.

Sadegh Zibakalam, professor of political science at Tehran University, stated that the reformists now expected the president to step forward.

“According to the constitution, as the president and the country’s second power [after the leader] Mr Rouhani should supervise the implementation of the constitution. So now everyone’s expecting him to protest against the wide disqualifications.”

Jamshid Ahmadi, assistant general secretary of solidarity group Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (Codir), has called into question the legitimacy of the elections.

“It is clear that many potential candidates have been excluded due to their political opinions,” he said.

“That hardly makes for an electoral process that can, in any normal sense, be described as free and fair.

“Until real opposition candidates are allowed to stand and the Iranian regime cleans up its act on human rights the elections will be little more than the illusion of democracy.”

Islamist Theocracy is incompatible with democracy. 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 13, 2016 at 4:23 pm