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Saturday, May 14, 2011

“Do no harm” or attack, retaliate, hit, hate?

Mid May at WAR amid cries for human rights, liberty, equality, justice
Compiled and edited with comment by Carolyn Bennett

“Do No Harm”
From PHR report

Physicians for Human Rights and other rights groups want the United States of America to lead the way in stopping the bloodshed and the abuse of human rights everywhere — without fear or favor, even when the U.S. is the killer and abuser.  

The group Physicians for Human Rights has uncovered “egregious abuses against patients and detainees including torture, beating, verbal abuse, humiliation, and threats of rape and killing” where the U.S. Fifth Fleet makes its home, U.S.-allied Bahrain. PHR cites as an example the case of Dr. Ali El-Ekri. “Security forces shot Ali in the face and head at close range with birdshot. Dr. Ali woke up later in Salmaniya Hospital where he was held for five days.

On his second day, three armed security forces handcuffed Ali and a dozen other wounded men behind their backs with plastic wrist ties and began to beat them. Then the security forces threw Ali and the other patients face first onto the floor and dragged them out into the hallway, leaving trails of blood on the floor. Interrogation, torture, and forced confessions followed.…

In a week of 47 in-depth interviews with patients, physicians, nurses, medical technicians, and other eyewitnesses to human rights violations, PHR discovered government authorities’ use of “excessive force including high-velocity weapons and shotguns; birdshot, rubber bullets, and tear gas used against unarmed civilians – often at a close range.…  Bahraini forces fired tear gas into enclosed spaces, including homes. Security forces used unidentified chemical agents, which causes disorientation, aphasia, and convulsions. Security forces violently assaulted civilian detainees while they were in custody.”


Free Speech Radio News on Friday reported Bahrain’s military chief saying troops sent by Saudi Arabia to help crush unrest will remain in Bahrain even after the scheduled June date for lifting emergency rule. As reports of human rights abuses continued to rise, activists went to Washington to testify before Congress and to urge the Obama administration to condemn the violence in Bahrain.

Physicians for Human Rights testified before the Tom Lantos (Congressional) Human Rights Commission, as did representatives of Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Amid reports of extrajudicial killings, torture, beatings, arbitrary arrest and detentions, PHR pushed the U.S. Government to speak out publicly on the egregious violations and to push for the immediate release of all medical personnel arrested in the crackdown.

PHR also joined six other human rights organizations in signing a May 12, 2011, letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the United States Administration to take the lead in convening special sessions on Bahrain and Yemen at the UN Human Rights Council to establish official channels for both human rights investigations and accountability for human rights abuses.

YEMEN at “brink”
Al Jazeera reports in this week’s “Inside Story”

Protesters in Yemen again face “the guns of the government they want to bring down. Security forces fired bullets at crowds of thousands of people calling for [U.S.-allied] Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.”

Soldiers used “anti-aircraft guns mounted on vans against protesters [and] snipers fired on them from rooftops. … Witnesses said security forces also used water cannons and fired tear gas. … Violence has spread to cities across the country. … In the capital, Sana’a, forces opened fire on a crowd of tens of thousands marching to the cabinet building.”


“In Syria today, thousands of people demonstrated in cities across the country. Weekly protests following Friday prayers,” FSRN reported, “have continued, despite a growing crackdown by police and security forces, which have surrounded entire towns, and cut off telecommunications, electricity and water.”

In Ramallah, Gaza City, Amman, Damascus, Cairo and other cities, protesters are planning demonstrations over the weekend. Egyptian activists are planning to go to Gaza and challenge their government’s complicity with Israel in the siege of the territory. In Lebanon, organizers are calling for “an unprecedented ‘Right of Return’ march to the border they were forced to cross 63 years ago,” journalist/photographer Matthew Cassel writes in an opinion piece in The Electronic Intifada.

“Unlike Tunisians, Egyptians and other peoples in revolt, Palestinian refugees don’t have the luxury of living under only one oppressor,” Cassel writes. “In Lebanon, for example, hundreds of thousands of refugees live with few civil rights; many are restricted to refugee camps enclosed by the Lebanese army.

“In recent years, activists have waged a campaign demanding civil rights in Lebanon in order to return home to Palestine. In the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, after it was destroyed in 2007, Palestinians had to first demand a return to the camp where they had sought refuge six decades ago before demanding a return home to Palestine.

“Conditions in Syria and Jordan also restrict refugees’ freedoms and deny them many political rights. While most Palestinian refugees declare only one goal — to return to Palestine — they also admit that getting there is a long and circuitous path.…”


Free Speech Radio News May 13, 2011 —  “NATO has increased its air strikes on what it says are military targets in Libya, but some critics say the alliance is going too far and that there’s no end in sight to the conflict.”

Gulf News — Libya’s Civilian deaths

NATO says, “We cannot independently confirm the validity of the claim” of civilian deaths but “we regret any loss of life by innocent civilians.” The Imams held a news conference Friday in Tripoli calling “for revenge.”

Libyans held funerals Saturday for the 11 imams reportedly killed when they gathered early Friday in the eastern city of Brega. “At least 50 other people” suffered wounds, five critically in the “NATO aerial attack.”  A government representative, Moussa Ebrahim, reportedly made the announcements of deaths and injuries in a Friday press conference in Tripoli.

More revenge, fallout, a resolution

The death toll is rising after a double suicide bomb explosion outside a northwest Pakistan fort, Frontier Constabulary in Charsadda. On Saturday, the reported death toll was 80 people and 150 people injured. Al Jazeera reported, “The bombers had targeted some 900 paramilitary recruits who had just completed their six-month training at the fort and were getting into vehicles” to begin a ten-day leave. The Pakistani Taliban called the incident “‘the first revenge’ for the killing of Osama bin Laden.”

In the Pakistani legislature, a resolution was published demanding “an end to U.S. drone strikes on Pakistan’s territory [and] an independent probe into the May 2, 2011, raid by U.S. forces that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.”

Though parliament’s proceedings were held “behind closed doors, under tight security, no journalists allowed, Al Jazeera reports that after an initial session on Friday, a “strongly worded resolution came [today] at the end of an on-camera joint sitting of the parliament in Islamabad.”

Criticizing the United States’ raid in Abbottabad, the parliamentary resolution said, “‘unilateral actions cannot advance the global cause of elimination of terrorism.’” It warned that if a repeat operation occurred there would be “‘dire consequences for peace and security in the region and the world…

… [D]rone attacks must be stopped forthwith, failing which the government will be constrained to consider taking necessary steps including withdrawal of [the] transit facility allowed to NATO.’…”

The resolution calls on the Pakistani government to “‘rethink its strategic partnership with the United States …  the country should revisit and review its terms of engagement with the United States, with a view to ensuring that Pakistan’s national interests are fully respected and accommodated.’”

Of critical importance, the resolution noted, is “international cooperation against terrorist groups — [cooperation that is rooted in]  ‘a true partnership approach based on equality, mutual respect, and mutual trust.’”

U.S. drones continued to strike the Afghanistan-Pakistan border

Three people died Friday in suspected U.S. missile strikes in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border, as Pakistani legislators were in closed session drafting the resolution concerning U. S. drones, killings and breach of their sovereignty. On Thursday, at least five people died in a similar U.S. strike that allegedly had “targeted a vehicle in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan.”

Though U.S. officials avoid confirming drone attacks, the U.S. military and Central Intelligence Agency “are the only forces that deploy [drones] in the region.”

Revenge continued

Six people (est.) died and ten suffered wounds when a bomb planted in a bus exploded in an eastern Pakistani town. The incident occurred close to the garrison town of Kharian, about 130km southeast of the Pakistan capital, Islamabad.

Fighting continued last weekend in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. Killings of 22 people last Sunday left the streets of Kandahar city, the economic hub of southern Afghanistan, deserted. Among the dead were reportedly “18 fighters.” Press reports said foreign forces had discovered “eight vehicles packed with explosives.”

This state of affairs constitutes a criminal loss of liberty in the Middle East and beyond — crossing continents of Asia and Africa and into Europe north of the Mediterranean. 

There can be no development and human progress living in these conditions. No one can live under endless war, occupation, attack and counterattack, hit and hate, conditions in which the average person exists in a state of fear and flux, displacement, homelessness, often statelessness —  a place where a young girl, for example, never knows the who or what or when or where or why or how of “safe.” 

Moreover, the invaders and occupiers, the war makers and makers of conflict among neighbors cannot be free or without fear until all are free in these lands.  

Sources and notes


PHR’s report “Do No Harm: A Call for Bahrain to End Systematic Attacks on Doctors and Patients” findings are based on a one-week investigation (April 2-8, 2011) that included 47 in-depth interviews with patients, physicians, nurses, medical technicians, and other eyewitnesses to human rights violations.  Written PHR Deputy Director Richard Sollom and Tarrant County, Texas senior forensic pathologist and chief medical examiner Nizam Peerwani, the report concludes with policy recommendations for Bahrain, the Unites States, and the United Nations. http://bahrain.phrblog.org/report/

“PHR Advocates for Stronger Government Action on Human Rights Abuses in Bahrain” (Andrea Gittleman), May 13, 2011, http://phrblog.org/blog/2011/05/13/phr-advocates-for-stronger-government-action-on-human-rights-abuses-in-bahrain/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HealthRightsAdvocate%2Fentries+%28Health+Rights+Advocate%3A+Advancing+health%2C+dignity+and+justice%29

PHR’s most recent report is “Do No Harm: A Call for Bahrain to End Systematic Attacks on Doctors and Patients,” which provides forensic evidence of systematic and calculated attacks on physicians, medical staff, patients and unarmed civilians

Motivated by moral urgency, based on science, and anchored in international human rights standards, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)’s advocacy advances global health and protects human rights.

Using medical and other scientific methods, PHR investigates and exposes violations of human rights worldwide and works to stop them. PHR’s researchers go into conflict zones, to AIDS-ravaged Africa, to U.S. detention centers, to mass graves in Afghanistan. Its advocacy enters offices of national and international policymakers. http://phrblog.org/about/

“NATO Secretary General responds to criticisms about the Libya mission”
“Activists condemn Obama administration’s silence on Bahrain crackdown”
“In Syria, tanks surround mosques as thousands of people continue their protests (News Segments) May 13, 2011, http://fsrn.org/category/2/5


“Yemen on the brink — Can the members of the GCC revive their initiative to resolve the crisis?” (Inside Story), May 14, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/insidestory/2011/05/20115121511383581.html


“Refugees march to return — given their history, it’s easy for one to assume that Palestinians will play a central role in any larger uprising in the Arab world. After this weekend, that role should be clear” (Matthew Cassel OPINION, The Electronic Intifada) May 13, 2011, http://electronicintifada.net/content/refugees-march-return/9946

A former editor of The Electronic Intifada, Matthew Cassel is a journalist and photographer based in the Middle East. His website is justimage.org at which he will bring live coverage of Sunday’s march in Lebanon.


“Libya buries dead imams killed in NATO strike— Funerals for the 11 imams reportedly killed in Brega were to be held later on Saturday,” http://gulfnews.com/in-focus/mideastunrest/libya-buries-dead-imams-killed-in-nato-strike-1.807620


“Toll rises in southern Afghanistan fighting   — Security forces said to be close to quelling Taliban assault that has left at least 22 people dead in Kandahar city,” May 8, 2011,  http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/05/201158163232508659.html

“Pakistan slams U.S. over Bin Laden raid — Lawmakers pass resolution calling for end to drone strikes and independent investigation into Abbottabad operation,” May 14, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/05/201151461340733845.html

“U.S. drone strike ‘kills three’ in Pakistan  — Local officials say multiple missiles fired on a vehicle in North Waziristan,” May 13, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/05/201151312657208596.html

“Pakistan bus bomb leaves six dead  — Ten others wounded after a bomb planted in a bus explodes near eastern town of Kharian, 130km southeast of Islamabad,” May 14, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/05/201151417489404830.html
Britannica note

Abbottabad [Population (1998) 106,101] is a city, east-central North-West Frontier Province, northern Pakistan, situated 38 miles (61 km) northeast of Rawalpindi. A hill station (4,120 feet [1,256 metres]), it lies on a plateau at the southern corner of the Rash (Orash) Plain and is the gateway to the picturesque Kagan Valley.

Abbottabad is connected by road with the Indus Plain and the Kashmir region and by railhead (at Havelian, 10 miles [16 km] south) with Peshawar. Abbottabad is a district market centre.
Abbottabad was founded in 1853; it takes its name from Major James Abbott, the first British deputy commissioner of the region. There are parks, a preparatory school, several colleges affiliated with the University of Peshawar, and a forest research centre. The Pakistan Military Academy is at Kakul, 5 miles (8 km) northeast. Major iron-ore deposits are nearby. With its lush scenery and proximity to the Himalayas and the Karakoram Range, the city is a popular summer resort.

A 2009 Pakistan update

“Terrorism and counterterrorism dominated developments in Pakistan in 2009… The U.S. Congress in September approved a bill making available $7.5 billion over five years to rebuild Pakistan’s roads, schools, and democratic institutions.

“Pakistan’s higher military officials, however, registered alarm at the bill's linkage of the funding to the country’s war on terrorism, and Pakistan’s political opposition claimed that accepting the aid would compromise Pakistan's sovereignty.

“The U.S. transfer of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan proceeded without interruption, despite concerns raised in the U.S. Congress over Pakistan’s near completion of two additional nuclear weapons reactors.…
“Militants … sustained their attacks.

“In November gunmen assaulted two more ranking members of the army, and suicide bombers killed a mayor from the NWFP [North-West Frontier Province], blew up the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence agency] regional headquarters in Peshawar, struck outside a bank in central Rawalpindi, targeted a police station in North Waziristan, and killed more than 30 people at a Charsadda market. A spate of seven bombings in a succeeding 10-day period, including at a Peshawar courthouse, killed numerous bystanders. The country’s earlier acknowledgement of the Pakistani origin of the 2008 Mumbai (Bombay) terrorist attacks resulted in the late-November indictment of seven members of Lashkar-e-Taiba in connection with the attacks.”

In December, Obama's decision to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan heightened debate in Pakistan. Of particular concern were Obama's references to Pakistan's place in a “new” strategy. Intensification of the war in Afghanistan was rumoured to imply expanded drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas and possibly Balochistan. Pakistan's dissidents, however, were not deterred.

Casualty sites reporting May 14, 2011
(accurate totals unknown)
Anti-war dot com Casualties in Iraq since March 19, 2003
[U.S. war dead since the Obama inauguration January 20,
2009: 224] Information out of date
Wounded 33,023-100,000
U.S. veterans with brain injuries 320,000
Suicides estimated: 18 a day
Latest update on this site: May 1, 2011
Iraq Body Count
The worldwide update on civilians killed in the Iraq war and occupation
Documented civilian deaths from violence
100,799 – 110,098
ICasualties figures:
AFGHANISTAN: 1,572 U.S; 2,452 Coalition figures
IRAQ: 4,452 U.S.; 4,770 Coalition figures

05/14/11 Reuters: Mass grave with 20 bodies found in southern Fallujah
Police found a mass grave with the remains of 20 bodies in southern Fallujah, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.
05/14/11 Reuters: Gunmen wound traffic police officer northern Baghdad
Gunmen using silenced weapons opened fire on a traffic police officer and wounded him in Baghdad's northern Shaab district, an Interior Ministry source said. The source said the officer shot back and killed one of the attackers.
05/14/11 Reuters: Gunmen wound intelligence officer in central Baghdad
Gunmen using silenced weapons wounded an intelligence officer in al-Nisour Square in central Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.
05/14/11 Reuters: Gunmen wound lieutenant colonel in southern Baghdad
Gunmen using silenced weapons wounded a lieutenant colonel from the Interior Ministry in Baghdad's southern Doura district, an Interior Ministry source said.
05/14/11 AP: Iraqi Christian kidnapped for $100K ransom
Police say a Christian man in a northern Iraqi city has been kidnapped and is being held for a $100,000 ransom. Kirkuk deputy police chief Maj. Gen. Torhan Abdul-Rahman said the victim is a construction worker who did not come home from work Friday night. When officials called his mobile phone on Saturday, the kidnappers answered and demanded the money. 
05/14/11 Reuters: Turkish forces kill 12 Kurds
Turkish security forces killed at least 12 Kurdish militants after they were spotted crossing the border from Iraq, the military said on Saturday, while a soldier was killed by a mine blast. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas were killed during operations on Friday and early Saturday in the southeast province of Sirnak, the military statement said.  http://icasualties.org/Iraq/index.aspx


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