Seven years ago I visited the police state of Tunisia for the absurd UN Summit on the Information Society. Absurd because the UN was celebrating the information society in a decaying, corrupt dictatorship which led the world in internet censorship. We protested at the unjust imprisonment and torture of human rights defender Mohammed Abbou. We visited the hunger strikers who had launched a fast for human rights and democracy on 18th October. [Read more…]
It has of course taken far too long but the decision of the High Court in London to allow three Kenyans to proceed with a civil claim against the UK Government for torture is very welcome news. Sadly many of the victims that the UK now admits were tortured have not lived long enough to see this significant step towards accountability. The UK Government should now abandon their shameful attempts to deny liability and accept their responsibility. [Read more…]
As protests at USA (and Western) embassies sweep the Middle East perhaps it is time to rethink the concept of Embassy. Why have staff on the ground in a location marked by a flag which is by definition vulnerable. With the technology available is it not time to deploy Embassy drones? [Read more…]
It was fascinating to be in Montreal for the Quebec elections. I am no student of Quebec politics so the following reflections are based on watching the election night TV coverage and reading the anglophone and francophone press. Plus discussion with a very odd taxi driver and observation of a fierce bilingual argument between waitresses in a bar (one argued in English and the other argued back in French). Apart from a few election posters there was actually little sign of an election in downtown Montreal. [Read more…]
You could be forgiven from thinking as you watch and read the UK media that the altruistic desire of the Brits and US to protect civilians in Syria has been cruelly thwarted by Russians determined to maintain a naval base on the Mediterranean. With the noble exception of Channel 4 News there has been little attempt to tell the truth about the positions of the various actors. It was healthy to spend last week in Johannesburg and hear some perceptive criticism of Western dishonesty. [Read more…]
It was obvious 12 months ago that sentencing human rights defender Abdulhadi Alkhawaja to life in prison after torturing him and subjecting him to a show trial before a military court was a sign of weakness and desperation from the side of Bahrain’s rulers. They were frantically trying to construct a conspiracy of foreign subversion even as all the world could see that the truth was bloody repression of peaceful protests. They even detained, tortured and prosecuted medical professionals who had had the affront to tell the truth about those who had been tortured and killed. The attempt at a cover up was a pathetic failure in spite of millions spent on Western PR agencies. [Read more…]
No salmon involved but if you have a sense of adventure… [Read more…]
Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is very much the favoured interlocutor of the West and is promoted as “reform minded.” Indeed he was the person who attempted to negotiate with protesters last spring, which may have reflected a genuine interest in seeking rapproachment at the time. However, he was demonstrably marginalised when the decision was taken to send in Saudi troops and forcibly clear Pearl Square. In spite of his international media appearances at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and yesterday’s meeting with Hillary Clinton, there is no indication he is able to exert significant influence. [Read more…]
Great to see François Hollande proclaim his explicit commitment to action on equality in his victory speech. And a clear commitment to reshaping the European project towards growth and control of the speculators.
He is described in the English press as France’s John Smith. It is partly a comment on his (attractive) lack of style. But also his rejection of the New Labour fetish for market solutions and his stolid determination to pursue pragmatic policies for the betterment of the poorest. [Read more…]
“The good thing about Bahrain is it seems more democratic there than most places. People are allowed to speak when they want, they can protest if they want to,” said Bernie Ecclestone in an interview with the BBC on 27th March 2012.
Ahmed Ismael Al-Samadi, (22 years old) from Salmabad, was shot in the stomach by a man in civilian clothes accompanying the security forces during a protest on 30th March 2012. He later died from his wounds. [Read more…]