NYPD Official Admits Spying On Muslims Didn’t Generate A Single Lead Or Terrorism Case

[An oppressive dragnet of surveillance, harassment, stalking, and ostracism, this CIA/NYPD program of racial/religious profiling has been conducted and budgeted under the phony guise of "homeland security" and "criminal justice" -- but its just Islamophobic repression without a shred of evidence to disguise or provide cover for it. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Michael Kelley , Business Insider, August 21, 2012

The secret New York Police Department unit that spied on Muslims for more than six years never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo of the AP report.

The Demographics Unit – built with the help of the CIA in the wake of 9/11 – assembled databases on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropped on conversations, infiltrated Muslim student groups and mosques, cataloged every Muslim in New York with an Americanized surname, and even set up a surveillance hub in New Jersey.

But in a June 28 deposition, Assistant Chief Thomas Galati admitted he never created a lead based on a Demographics report since he arrived 2006 and wasn’t aware of any previous ones.

From AP:

Galati, the commanding officer of the NYPD Intelligence Division, offered the first official look at the Demographics Unit, which the NYPD denied ever existed when it was revealed by the AP last year. He described how police gather information on people even when there is no evidence of wrongdoing, simply because of their ethnicity and native language.

The testimony was part of the Handschu case, a lawsuit that began in 1971 over NYPD spying on students, civil rights groups, and suspected Communist sympathizers during the 1950s and 1960s.

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, himself a target of ‘ill-considered’ prosecution, tweeted that the admission demonstrates “willful violation of 4th Amendment. No probable cause. Mere suspicion now justification for all kinds of injustice.” Continue reading

The Rohingya “Palestinians Asia”

by filistina

Officially designated by the UN as one of the most persecuted communities in the world and referred to as Palestinians Asia, but few know their name.

The Rohingya have been subject to a program of ethnic cleansing supported by the Government of Burma (Burma). Despite their existence in Burma, dating from the 8th century, the Rohingya are condemned as “non-citizens” and “illegal immigrants”. Aimed as a result of religion and race, the Rohingya are suffering from oppression and discrimination they encounter in face of the Buddhist majority of Racine. The confiscation of land, forced labor and denial of the very basic human rights-including education, healthcare and marriage-are typical of the daily reality of Rohingya.

The injustice against the people of the Rohingya is deeply rooted in institutions and in the government system of Burma. Can be seen at 1982 Law on Nationality introduced the Burmese junta, which recognizes 135 ethnic tribes in Burma, and explicitly excludes the Rohingya. This legislation has received widespread condemnation for the biased nature and its incompatibility with international standards of human rights, including the right to citizenship.

This systematic denial of human rights, based on the refusal of the government of Burma to grant citizenship to the Rohingya, leaving them stateless in their own country. The denial of citizenship has been used as a tool to deprive Rohingya of their identity and their right to exist.

This severe marginalization and restriction of basic rights and fundamental freedoms, has forced the Rohingya to flee their homes in search of viable conditions. Therefore, between 1978 and 1992, some 200,000 Rohingya fled to save themselves from the tyranny of the Burmese army. Most fled to Bangladesh, where they remain as refugees. Life in Bangladesh proved not much improved since Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world in which prevailing discrimination against ethnic minorities. Like Rohingya living in Burma, so the Rohingya refugees are restricted to traffic, often are exploited and their main resources are greatly limited. Also Rohingya women have often been victims of sexual violence in refugee camps. The hostility in Bangladesh has led epmenos Rohingya to seek refuge in other countries, such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, where they met but similar treatment. Continue reading

Los Angeles: FBI Sting Lawsuit Blocked by “State Secrets” Doctrine

Behind this plaque are the “state secrets” of Islamophobic and racially profiled sting operations–endorsed as unchallengable and unquestionable by the courts

It was like a James O’Keefe hidden camera operation gone wrong: In 2006, despite no evidence of wrongdoing, the FBI sent informant Craig Monteilh to spy on a California mosque, only to have Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, the guy Monteilh was trying to convince to launch a fake terrorist operation, report the informant to the authorities. (Naturally, in 2009 the FBI then unsuccessfully tried to prosecute Niazi anyway).

The Monteilh-Niazi incident was part of “Operation Flex,” an FBI counterterrorism program that involved surveillance of the Muslim community in Southern California. Three local Muslims, Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Ali Uddin Malik, and Yasser AbdelRahim, sued the FBI in February 2011 arguing that the FBI violated their constitutional rights. The Obama administration responded by invoking the state secrets doctrine, which often serves as a sort of get-out-of-court-free card for the government, and asking Judge Cormac J. Carney to dismiss the case because it would force disclosure of materials that could jeopardize national security. Carney did just that on Wednesday, accepting the government’s argument that the case would endanger state secrets. In doing so, Carney dismissed the plaintiffs’ argument that embracing the state secrets doctrine in the Monteilh case would lead to a state of affairs where “any practice, no matter how abusive, may be immunized from legal challenge by being labeled as ‘counterterrorism’ and ‘state secrets.'”

“Such a claim assumes that courts simply rubber stamp the Executive’s assertion of the state secrets privilege. That is not the case here,” Carney wrote. “The Court has engaged in rigorous judicial scrutiny of the Government’s assertion of privilege and thoroughly reviewed the public and classified filings with a skeptical eye.”

The case involves two key elements of the Obama administration’s approach to national security: The use of FBI informants and fake terror plots and the aggressive use of the state secrets doctrine to keep its counterterrorism operations secret. As Trevor Aaronson reported in his award-winning story for the September/October 2011 issue of Mother Jones, “With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings.” Continue reading

Greece: Police in new clashes at steel plant

July 23, 2012
Riot police clashed with protesting steel workers outside a factory near Athens on Monday, in a labor dispute that has triggered a political spat in the crisis-hit country.

Police said they used pepper spray and scuffled with protesters, when about 150 demonstrators challenged a cordon west of the capital. No arrests were reported.

On Friday, police ended a strike at the private steel plant that had lasted nearly nine months, clashing with protesters on a picket line, after a court declared the strike illegal.

Left wing opposition parties are backing the steelworkers’ demands, accusing the new conservative-led government of acting like “gangsters.” Continue reading

The US hand in which Egyptian glove? — Military, or Muslim Brotherhood, or both?

[When the people rose up against the Mubarak compradarchy, some said the US-Mubarak relationship would not be broken.  But soon, the US imperial hegemonists decided to unhinge their prospects from Mubarak, and focus efforts on sidelining the popular revolt by encouraging the Egyptian military to declare "support" for the uprising.  Some said the US now had the new, effective puppet relationship with the military, to further stem popular revolt and prevent Muslim Brotherhood seizure of the the process.  But ongoing struggle discredited the military, and the Muslim Brotherhood took advantage and jockeyed for position, and power.  The Obama administration then maneuvered toward rebranding the Muslim Brotherhood "democratic" and finding suitable enticements for the hegemonist's new Egyptian alliance--and overtly took sides with MB primacy over the military. Yet the people, whose historic Tahrir Square revolt unhinged all the old imperial arrangements, are not satisfied with any of this shell game in the halls of power.  Democratic pretense only works on the gullible, and the people have learned far too much to be taken in.  The wheels will continue to revolve. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Egypt: US for Strong Mursi Presidency

By Kimeng Hilton Ndukong, BBC, 16 July 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged the new President to fully assert his authority.

The new Egyptian leader, Mohamed Mursi on Sunday July 15, received a much-needed backing in his standoff with the country’s military when the visiting United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton urged him to assert the full authority of his office.

Clinton on the other hand told the country’s military officers to return to what she described as a purely national security role, after they stepped aside last month, promising to retain wide-ranging legislative and political powers.

Shortly after meeting with the US official for about an hour, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi in a rare public rebuke apparently directed at the powerful Moslem Brotherhood to which Mursi belongs, declared that the Armed Forces would not allow people he described as pushed from outside to dominate the country. Al Jazeera Television reported that Tantawi’s comments that were delivered to reporters after a military ceremony in the city of Ismailia, sounded a discordant note after Clinton’s urgings.

Clinton’s discussions with President Mursi on Saturday July 14 focused on the domestic political deadlock and economic development. She pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in debt relief, private investment and job creation funds – money the US administration had earlier promised. Clinton said her country’s shared strategic interests far outnumbered differences with Egypt. At a joint news conference with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohammed Amr, the US Secretary of State said her visit to Cairo was to re-affirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and their democratic transition.

However, on Saturday evening, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Clinton’s Cairo hotel, chanting anti-Islamist and anti-US slogans in protest at her visit. Another protest outside the US Embassy was organised by Coptic Christian youth activists who chanted that Americans and the Moslem Brotherhood could not be trusted, the BBC said.

The Government of Violence : A Massacre In Dandakaranya

By Kamal K.M, Countercurrents.org, 16 July, 2012

‘Dandakaranya’ is a stretch of forest in India that runs through the states of Chattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra , and Andhra Pradesh. Roughly translated in Sanskrit, the word means `Jungle of Punishment’.

When you enter the village of Kottaguda , located in Bijapur district of Chattisgarh, the first impression is one of serenity. The vestiges of the Salwa Judum pillage from a few years ago still remain as a burnt scar. The houses have stood starkly against these acts of aggression.

We couldn’t see any trace of massacre from ten days ago.

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We were a group of thirty people from different parts of India , people of different professions and academic backgrounds. There were some people in the group who had been to similar kind of fact finding report missions, like Advocate Tharakam, Prasanth Haldar, V.S Krishna, Advocate Raghunath, C Chandrasekhar, R Shiva Shankar, and Ashish Gupta. Some of them were official members of different human rights organizations under the umbrella of Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO). We – advocates, teachers, government employees, students, former trade union activists and media professionals – were united by a single objective – to unearth the truth about what had actually happened on the night of June 28 th .

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When we entered the village there was a solemn air about it. The only humans we saw there were some heavily armed paramilitary forces inside the bushes – they might have been from CoBRA force or CRPF.

The men in arms averted our gaze. They couldn’t meet our eye with the shadow of the dastardly act of a few days ago looming large over them.

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8pm on the evening of 28 th June, Kottaguda village in Bijpapur District, Chattisgarh.

There was a meeting being held to discuss the upcoming seed festival – Beeja Pondum. It was a wet monsoon night. Some people from other villages, like Sarkeguda and Rajpenta, were also attending the meeting. A few children loitered around playfully. At 10pm , the CoBRA force and CRPF cordoned off the villages and started firing indiscriminately and without any warning.

The first attack came from the west, and instantly killed three adivasis. This was quickly followed by firing from three other directions. Terrified villagers started running – some tried to take shelter, some ran towards their respective villages. Yet, the bullets continued to spray for another 30 minutes. Then, as if to survey the dead, the CRPF forces fired two flare guns that lit up the area. They languidly ambled through the scene and collected the dead bodies that remained.

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The national Media duly reported the incident following the government version. But by the next morning it slowly emerged that those killed were actually villagers. It was infact a massacre. It was clear that the victims were tribal villagers, who were randomly killed. Some news papers and tv channels corrected their mistake and reported the truth. Some still have not corrected their mistake. Continue reading

Egypt: The Muslim Brotherhood and the Military: A New Deal?

Jul 05 2012 by Salma Shukrallah, http://www.jadaliyya.com

The Egyptian Republican Guard was responsible for president-elect Mohamed Mursi’s safety during his speech in Tahrir Square. Image originally posted to Flickr by Johnathan Rashad

Speculation is rife that the Muslim Brotherhood are again reaching a deal with the ruling military council after weeks of what seemed to be escalating tensions between the two. The long awaited government Morsi is expected to appoint soon may reveal what the two parties will finally agree upon.

While sources at the office of President Mohamed Morsi have revealed that Egypt’s newly-inaugurated head of state has not yet contacted anyone specific for the post of prime minister, analysts hint ongoing negotiations may be the source of this delay.

“There’s broad consensus between the Brotherhood and military leaders on the need to accommodate the military’s longstanding political and economic interests,” political analyst Hesham Sallam told Ahram Online.

“But the devil’s in the details; I don’t think the two sides have reached agreement on specifics,” Sallam added. “Control over cabinet appointments is probably one source of these disagreements.”

On 30 June, Morsi was sworn into office before Egypt’s High Constitutional Court (HCC), bringing an end to an ongoing conflict with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

The Brotherhood had earlier rejected a constitutional addendum giving the SCAF legislative powers at the expense of Egypt’s dissolved parliament and keeping the Armed Forces independent of the president. Morsi’s oath before the HCC, however, appeared to signal a retreat from the Brotherhood’s stated position. Continue reading

Turkey: Court Sentences Singer to Two Years in Prison for Speech

by AHMerdan

TURKEY | 27 – 06 – 2012 | A specially authorized court in the eastern province of Malatya sentenced Kurdish-Alevi singer Ferhat Tunç to two years in prison on terrorism related charges due to his invocation of the names of deceased Turkish leftists during a speech on May 1, 2011.

The Malatya specially authorized Third Court for Serious Crimes sentenced Kurdish-Alevi singer and composer Ferhat Tunç to two years behind bars on the charge of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” due to his invocation of the names of deceased Turkish leftists Deniz Gezmiş, Mahir Çayan and İbrahim Kaypakkaya during a speech he gave on May 1, 2011 in the eastern province of Dersim (Tunceli.)

“I greet you all in the revolutionary spirit of Deniz Gezmiş, Mahir Çayan and İbrahim Kaypakkaya,” Ferhat Tunç had said during the May 1st celebrations in Dersim in 2011.

The decision was unexpected and politically motivated, Tunç told bianet.

Lawyer Ercan Kanar, who represents Tunç in court, also said the court had convicted his client on the claim that he was making propaganda on behalf of the Maoist Communist Party (MKP) because of his reference to İbrahim Kaypakkaya during the speech. Continue reading

FBI: Fabricating threats, false prosecutions, and fear-mongering–in the name of security

The FBI’s ‘Islamic Terrorism’ Fraud

By Sherwood Ross | Aletho News | July 2, 2012

Nearly every major post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation at the center of which is a government informant, The Nation magazine reports.

The publication cites the findings of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School. The Center has tracked 138 terrorism or national security prosecutions involving informants since 2001.

As the informants work for money or a reduction of their own criminal charges, their testimony may well be tainted. What’s particularly distressing, writes Petra Bartosiewicz, a New York City journalist in the July 2nd issue of the magazine, is that the FBI informants “have crossed the line from merely observing potential criminal behavior to encouraging and assisting people to participate in plots that are largely scripted by the FBI itself.”

The reporter explains that “Under the FBI’s guiding hand, the informants provide the weapons, suggest the targets and even initiate the inflammatory political rhetoric that later elevates the charges to the level of terrorism.” Continue reading

Chhattisgarh, India: Villagers bury their dead as Maoists and CRPF forces trade charges

Aman Sethi | The Hindu

A tribal family grieves over the death of a victim of Friday’s police action against suspected Maoists at Sarkeguda in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district. Photo: Aman Sethi

SARKEGUDA, 1 July 2012 — The air is thick with rhythmic wailing and smoke from funeral pyres on the barren fields of Sarkeguda, Kotteguda and Rajapetta in the Kotteguda panchayat of Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district.

“The funerals are being conducted one by one as there aren’t enough men to help out with so many bodies,” said Sangam Ravi, a resident. “Some have to be buried, but who will dig all the graves? Some bodies must be burnt, but then you need to collect the wood.”

A day after the Chhattisgarh police claimed to have killed 20 Maoists in an encounter in Bijapur, villagers have offered a sharply divergent description of the incident, claiming that the security forces fired at a peaceful gathering of villagers, killing 20 of them, including five children aged 12-15, and sexually assaulted at least four teenaged girls during the encounter.

“There were no Maoists present at the village that night,” said Madkam Ganpat of Rajpetta. “We had gathered to discuss the upcoming seed festival, which is held every year before sowing begins.” He said the meeting continued for several hours, when the participants were suddenly surrounded by a large contingent of the security forces.

Mourners surround a corpse at Sarkeguda village in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district. On Friday morning, the Chhattisgarh police claimed they had killed 20 Maoists in an operation. Yet villagers insist that the victims were innocent tribals attending a village meeting. Photo: Aman Sethi

“The forces immediately opened fire, all of us tried to run away but many were shot in the legs, back and chest,” he said. Kaka Saraswati was among those killed in the ensuing confusion. “She was only 12 years old,” said her mother Kaka Sinakka.

Several of the bodies seen by this correspondent had bullet wounds in the torso and the neck. Sabka Mitu, 17, was killed when his throat was slit by a sharp object. Several bodies also had lacerations from what could have been a knife or an axe.

Mr. Ganpat’s account was corroborated by a number of villagers who insisted that no Maoists were present at the meeting, but none could explain how six policemen were injured. “The forces had encircled us,” said Mr. Ganpat. “Maybe, they accidently shot each other.”

The firing lasted several minutes, the villagers said, after which the forces radioed for a tractor that took away a number of bodies. “The force then camped in the village and dragged me into the fields,” Devi (name changed), a 14-year-old girl, said in an interview. “They threw me on the ground, beat me, kicked me, tore my clothes and kept threatening to rape me.” She said three other girls were similarly molested.

Continue reading

The Feds are watching — badly

[US imperialist xenophobia translates into bizarre and concentrated cultural ignorance, especially when replicated by aggressive, repressive government bureaucracies.  The harm inflicted on targeted communities is beyond measure.  This investigative report from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, an alternative weekly newspaper, traces the details of some recent revelations. -- Frontlines ed.]

by Yael Chanoff and Natalie Orenstein, San Francisco Bay Guardian, June 26, 2012

The FBI’s modern snoop program is racist, xenophobic, misdirected, dangerous — and really, really stupid

Muslims, the Internet — what isn’t the government spying on?

So, you’re a law enforcement officer in training for participation on a local Joint Terrorism Task Force. Or a student at the United States Military Academy at West Point, involved in the counterterrorism training program developed in partnership with the FBI. Or you’re an FBI agent training up to deal with terrorist threats.

Get ready for FBI training in dealing with Arab and Muslim populations.

Take note that “Western cultural values” include “rational, straight line thinking” and a tendency to “identify problems and solve them through logical decision-making process” — while “Arab cultural values” are “emotional based” and “facts are colored by emotion and subjectivity.”

Be advised that Arabs have “no concept of privacy” and “no concept of ‘constructive criticism'” and that in Arab culture it is “acceptable to interrupt conversations to convey information or make requests.”

“Westerners think, act, then feel,” an FBI powerpoint briefing notes, while “Arabs feel, act, then think.”

Those are some of the most dramatic examples of racial profiling and outright racist stereotyping revealed in thousands of pages of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Bay Guardian, the ACLU of Northern California and the Asian Law Caucus.

The documents show a pattern of cultural insensitivity, sometimes bordering on the ridiculous, not only tolerated by promoted as official instructions by the FBI. The records also show a broad pattern of surveillance of people who have engaged in no criminal activity and aren’t even suspected of crimes, but have been targeted because of their race or religion.

Pieces of this story have come out over the past year as the ACLU has charged the FBI with racial profiling and Attorney General Eric Holder has insisted it’s not happening. And some of the documents — which are not always properly dated — may be a few years old.

But none of it is ancient history: All of the material has been used by the FBI in the past few years, under the Obama administration.

This is the first complete report with the full details on a pattern of behavior that is, at the very least, disturbing — and in some parts, reminiscent of the notorious (and widely discredited) COINTELPRO program that sought to undermine and disrupt political groups in the 1960s.

The information suggests that the federal government is using methods that are not only imprecise and xenophobic but utterly ineffective in protecting the American public.

“This is the worst way to pursue security,” Hatem Bazian, professor of Near East Studies at UC Berkeley, told us.

CULTURAL STEREOTYPES

Dozens of documents attempt to describe “Arabs and Muslims” but other groups aren’t left out of the sweeping stereotyping and blatant racism and xenophobia that the FBI has used in its training guides. One training presentation is titled “The Chinese.” The materials give such tips as “informality is perceived as disrespectful.” The presentation warns “expect your gift (money) to be refused” but advises to give “a simple gift with significant meaning- tangerines or oranges (with stems/leaves.)” But “never give a clock as a gift! (death!)”

And if those in the training on “The Chinese” find themselves in “interactions with the opposite sex,” then “touching, too many compliments, may imply a romantic liaison is desired — be careful!” Continue reading

Oppression, Resistance, Unity, Power: A Statement in Support of the Virginia Hunger Strike

June 21, 2012

self-portrait by Kevin ‘Rashid’ Johnson

by Kevin ‘Rashid’ Johnson

In protest against the ongoing foul and inhumane conditions at Virginia’s Red Onion State Prison – one of Amerika’s most notoriously abusive and racist prisons – dozens of men at the prison went on a hunger strike. The strike began on May 22, 2012 and lasted several weeks.
I had spent over a decade imprisoned at Red Onion. Much of that time was spent in political growth, and my writing and circulating reports and articles to publicly expose abuses there, and trying to help build us a support structure on the outside.

I also struggled to to my peers the truism that while oppression does breed resistance, resistance without unity and public support is futile. Which is why our captors promote division and individualism among prisoners – a “mind your own business” and “don’t concern yourself with others” mentality – and manipulate us to misdirect our frustrations and ‘resistance’ against and between ourselves. It is also why they maneuver at every turn to alienate the general public against us with fear and hatred. The old Willie Lynch game.

To repress my efforts, officials kept me in solitary, often isolated from other prisoners. They routinely censored, destroyed and ‘lost’ my correspondences; imposed increased repression and abuses on me; and finally, on February 11, 2012, transferred me cross-country without notice or explanation to the Oregon prison system.

But I’d like to believe that despite their attempts to undermine and frustrate this work, my efforts, in collaboration with others of like mind, took root and bore fruit.
Many of the hunger strikers are men whom I had the honor of serving as both student and teacher. Many are members of street tribes (so-called gangs) whose traditional rivalries kept them divided against and at odds with each other – divisions and conflicts which Red Onion officials acted at every turn to fuel and perpetuate. However, as one of the representatives of the hunger strike stated:

“We’re tired of being treated like animals. There are only two classes in this prison: the oppressor and the oppressed. We, the oppressed, despite divisions of sexual preference, gang affiliation, race and religion, are coming together. We are rival gang members, but now are united as revolutionaries.” Continue reading

Courts Expose Stop-and-Frisk as Racist, Unconstitutional NYPD Harassment Strategy

8 Important Facets of the Legal Decision

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

A US district judge has exposed the NYPD game as an illegal system of quotas and racial profiling imposed on field police from the top of the NYPD.

May 28, 2012  |

This month, a federal judge in New York dealt a blow to “stop-and-frisk,” a policy that resulted in 685,000 recorded police stops in 2011. Eighty-five percent of those stopped were African American and Latino, mostly youths.

US district judge Shira Scheindlin granted class-action certification to a stop-and-frisk lawsuit against the city of New York, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The plaintiffs allege that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy regularly violates the Constitution by illegally stopping and searching scores of people belonging to a particular demographic — black and Latino. Pending the city’s appeal, the class-action ruling will put stop-and-frisk on trial.

Plaintiffs in Floyd et al. vs City of New York also argue that they were stopped by police who did not have the legally necessary “reasonable suspicion” that they had committed or were going to commit a crime. What’s more, the suit alleges, police often performed frisks, but not because they saw a bulge they suspected to be a weapon, another legal requirement.

In her written decision, Scheindlin said the alleged constitutional violations result not from the actions of rogue officers, but from a policy handed down from the very top. “The stop-and-frisk program is centralized and hierarchical,” said Scheindlin, “Those stops were made pursuant to a policy that is designed, implemented and monitored by the NYPD’s administration.” Continue reading

Palestinian prisoners: After 79 days of hunger-strike, Tha’er Halahla and Bilal Thiab to be released

 May 15, 2012
by Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies

After an ongoing 79 days of hunger-strike, Palestinian detainees Tha’er Halahla and Bilal Thiab, signed an agreement with the Israeli Prison Authorities to end their hunger-strike in exchange for their release as they are being held without charges, the Maan News Agency reported.

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According to Maan, head of the Legal Unit at the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Lawyer Jawad Boulos, was present when detainee Tha’er signed the agreement at the Ramla Israeli Prison, adding Halahla will be released on June 5th.

The father of Halahla said that Tha’er phoned him shortly after midnight, informed him of the recent developments, and told him that he still has no information regarding the fate of the rest of the political prisoners held under administrative detention.

Furthermore, the brother of detainee Bilal Thiab said that a late-night agreement was reached between his brother and the Prison Administration, and that detainee Jamal Al-Hour, representative of Hamas at the Hunger-Strike Committee, detainee Bassam As-Sa’dy, in addition to lawyer Boulos were present when the agreement was signed.

According to initial reports, detainee Bilal Thiab will be release on August 14, 2012.

Talking to his mother over phone, Thiab said that he grants this victory to the Palestinian People, adding that this agreement was reached after a series of meetings. He further stated that negotiations are still being held at the Ramla Prison to conclude all files of hunger-striking detainees.

Thousands of Palestinians are imprisoned by Israel, hundreds are currently being held under the illegal administrative detention polices that deprive them from their right to legal representation. Continue reading

Palestinian inmates agree to end hunger strike

[Update:  Further news  from the Financial Times, citing Addameer (the prisoners rights group), reported on the Egypt-brokered deal and its effect on the longer hunger strike among Palestinian prisoners:
":Sahar Francis, director of Addameer, said the agreement appeared to be favourable for Palestinian inmates. “It’s good – as far as the prisoners’ main demands, this appears to be enough,” she said.

It was not clear what impact the accord would have on a separate hunger strike by several prisoners against Israel’s policy of detaining Palestinians without charge for months or even years.

The Israeli activist organisation Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said on Monday that at least seven administrative detainees were on weeks-long hunger strikes. Most have been refusing food for at least 40 days. The group also said two had been refusing food for more than 70 days and were “in imminent risk of death”.

According to Israeli human rights activists, international law says countries should use administrative detentions only in exceptional cases but Israel implements it as a “blanket measure” against Palestinians....

The agreement did not make any mention of administrative detentions." (See the Financial Times and Addameer for more information. --Frontlines ed.]

by Nidal al-Mughrabi | Reuters | May 14, 2012

A Palestinian artist paints a mural in Gaza City in support of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails May 14, 2012. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

A Palestinian artist paints a mural in Gaza City in support of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails May 14, 2012. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Palestinian women look at a man standing inside a mock prison cell during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 14, 2012, in support of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian women look at a man standing inside a mock prison cell during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 14, 2012, in support of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

GAZA (Reuters) – Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails agreed on Monday to an Egyptian-brokered deal aimed at ending a mass hunger strike that challenged Israel’s policy of detention without trial and raised fears of a bloody Palestinian backlash if any protesters died.

Most of some 1,600 prisoners, a third of the 4,800 Palestinians in Israeli jails, began refusing food on April 17 although a few had been fasting much longer – up to 77 days.

Their protest centered on demands for more family visits, an end to solitary confinement and an easing of so-called “administrative detention”, a practice that has drawn international criticism on human rights grounds.

An Egyptian official involved in the talks said that under Monday’s deal to end the strike, Israel had agreed to end solitary confinement for 19 prisoners and lifted a ban on visits to prisoners by relatives living in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israel also agreed to improve other conditions of detention, and to free so-called administrative detainees once they complete their terms unless they are brought to court, according to the official.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri confirmed the deal, telling Reuters that “the prisoners signed the deal after their demands were met. The deal was brokered by Egypt.”

Israel also confirmed an accord had been struck. “An agreement has been signed to bring about the end of a 28-day hunger strike by Palestinian security prisoners,” the Israel Prisons Authority said in a written statement. Continue reading