Not Just in America: French Authorities Cover for Abusive Police Too

For Palestinians, there is no Obama-Netanyahu rift

 by Ali Abunimah, in Huffington Post,  02/28/2015

Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one. (Chuck Kennedy / White House Photo)

Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to the United States Congress next week has led to much talk of a rift between the Israeli prime minister and the US president, and even between their two countries.

Tuesday, national security adviser Susan E. Rice said the growing partisanship regarding Israel is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”

Citing protocol of not meeting foreign leaders too close to an election, President Barack Obama will shun his Israeli counterpart in Washington, and Vice President Joe Biden will stay away from the joint session of Congress when Netanyahu appears.

The dispute has taken on rancorous partisan tones with more than two dozen Democratic lawmakers vowing to boycott the speech. They charge that Netanyahu’s goal is to undermine the president’s diplomacy with Iran, and that Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to defy and humiliate the White House.

Yet all those objecting to the speech, whether in the United States, or Netanyahu’s rivals at home, where he faces an election next month, protest that their concern is to guarantee US-Israeli relations on whose strength the very future of Israel is said to hang.

But what all this sound and fury misses is that for the Palestinians, there is no meaningful Obama-Netanyahu rift. Indeed US-Israeli relations have never been stronger, nor more damaging to the prospects for peace and justice and for the very survival of the Palestinian people.

Just look at the recent record. Last December, the Palestinian Authority put forward a tepid resolution in the UN Security Council that did little more than repeat long-standing US policy on the outlines of a two-state solution. Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power marshaled all her resources to defeat it.

She claimed that the resolution was “deeply imbalanced” and took “no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”

The next day, after disappointed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the treaty acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Obama’s State Department declared itself “deeply troubled,” accusing Palestinians of an “escalatory step” that “badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”

Power said the Palestinian move “really poses a profound threat to Israel.”

These words are perverse. Israel’s 51-day long attack on Gaza that left more than 2,200 people dead didn’t “damage the atmosphere” as far as the Obama administration was concerned, but any Palestinian effort to use international bodies in pursuit of justice and accountability is tantamount to an act of war.

I challenge Power to go and repeat her words to any of the 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza still living in the damp and freezing rubble of their homes, to the surviving parents of more than 500 children killed in the Israeli attack, or to the thousands who will live with lifelong injuries.

Neither the ambassador nor her president has commented on the findings of Amnesty International, which said that Israel “brazenly flouted the laws of war by carrying out a series of attacks on civilian homes, displaying callous indifference to the carnage caused.”

Few Palestinians will forget that when Israeli fire was raining down on them, the Obama administration authorized the transfer of grenades and mortar rounds to resupply the Israeli army.

Last summer’s war was something even Hamas leaders tried to avoid. After it began, armed Palestinian groups declared that their goal was a ceasefire accompanied by a lifting of the eight-year siege that has devastated Gaza’s economy and isolated its 1.8 million people from the rest of humanity.

Since the war, promises that the siege would be lifted have been broken. Billions pledged in reconstruction aid have failed to materialize. As a result, cash-strapped UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, has suspended repairs on Gaza homes.

Israel’s view tends to be unquestioningly echoed by US officials and media: that Palestinians are at fault for the repeated surges of violence.

Yet even senior Israeli leaders and officers have often acknowledged that Palestinian armed groups, especially Hamas, have meticulously stuck to ceasefire agreements, as they are doing currently.

Despite this, the US put no pressure on Israel to end the years-long blockade.

As a result, the lesson Palestinians have repeatedly learned is that whether they fight or stay quiet, Israel will be allowed to do as it pleases. It can besiege and slaughter them in Gaza, seize and colonize their land in the West Bank, deprive them of their most fundamental rights, and Obama will have Israel’s back.

Just because Obama, Netanyahu and their partisan followers may be peeved at each other does not change the basic dynamic of full US support for Israel’s occupation of millions of Palestinians, the continuation of which guarantees ongoing suffering with regional repercussions.

Sure enough, despite the supposed rift, the US is proceeding with the sale of more of the most advanced F-35 fighter jets to Israel.

That’s why Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one.

It is long past time for the American people and their representatives to challenge Israel on its seemingly permanent subjugation of the Palestinians.

This post was first published by The Huffington Post.

Liberal Anti-Drone-Policy activists ask legal accountability — but Obama and Congress could not care less

Rights Groups, in Letter to Obama, Question Legality and Secrecy of Drone Killings

[Yahya Arhab/European Pressphoto Agency — A drone model burned Friday at a protest in Sana, Yemen. Most American drone attacks have been in Yemen and Pakistan.]
By , New York Times, April 12, 2013

In a letter sent to President Obama this week, the nation’s leading human rights organizations questioned the legal basis for targeted killing and called for an end to the secrecy surrounding the use of drones.

The “statement of shared concern” said the administration should “publicly disclose key targeted killing standards and criteria; ensure that U.S. lethal force operations abroad comply with international law; enable meaningful Congressional oversight and judicial review; and ensure effective investigations, tracking and response to civilian harm.”

The nine-page letter, signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Foundations and several other groups, is the most significant critique to date by advocacy groups of what has become the centerpiece of the United States’ counterterrorism efforts.

While not directly calling the strikes illegal under international law, the letter lists what it calls troubling reports of the criteria used by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command to select targets and assess results. The reported policies raise “serious questions about whether the U.S. is operating in accordance with international law,” the letter says. It is also signed by the Center for Civilians in Conflict and units of the New York University and Columbia Law Schools. Continue reading

Afzal Guru did not get a fair trial: Amnesty International

April 06th, 2013

Afzal Guru did not get a fair trial: Amnesty International

Supports family’s demand for return of mortal remains.

Accuses CM for being “Non serious” in revoking PSA.

SRINAGAR, Kashmir — Stating that the Parliament attack Convict  Mohammad Afzal Guru who was hanged on Feb. 09, did not get a fair trial, Amnesty International on Saturday said that the world human rights watchdog had written to President of India stressing to reconsider the death penalty of Guru.

“We as an international organization for human rights do feel that there wasn’t an impartial probe and trial in Afzal Guru’s case.” The three member visiting team of amnesty led by its Director Programme for India V.K Shashi Kumar told KNS on Saturday.

The team also said, “Amnesty had officially written to President of India urging him to reconsider the death penalty of Guru.” Amnesty team added that it was favoring the demand of return of Guru’s mortal remains. “ They (Family) deserves the right to ask for the mortal remains and we support their demand.” Amnesty told KNS.

The three member team included V.K Shahshi Kumar, G. Ananthapadmanabhan and US based female researcher Christine Mehta.

The human rights watchdog also lashed at Chief Minister Omar Abdullah saying, “He is not serious in repealing Public Safety Act in the state.”

“As Chief Minster he could simply issue an executive order if he was serious to repeal the act.” The team told KNS, however they accused Omar of resorting to dilly delay tactics with regard to revocation of the act.

Stating that pressing for repealing of PSA in Jammu and Kashmir was their single point agenda, the team said, “Under the garb of PSA, political leaders in the state particularly in Valley are put under house arrest.” Continue reading

Amnesty International: “Saudi Arabia must halt attempts to stifle peaceful protest”

16 October 2012

Saudi human rights activist Mohammed Saleh al-Bajady was sentenced in April 2012 to four years’ imprisonment and a five-year travel ban for communicating with foreign bodies. 

[Photo: Saudi human rights activist Mohammed Saleh al-Bajady was sentenced in April 2012 to four years’ imprisonment and a five-year travel ban for communicating with foreign bodies.]

The Saudi Arabian authorities must withdraw their threat to deal “firmly” with people taking part in demonstrations and refrain from detaining those who exercise their right to peaceful protest, Amnesty International said.

The organization’s call came after the Minister of Interior issued a statement last week warning anyone taking part in demonstrations that they would face prosecution and be “firmly dealt with” by members of the security forces.

“The Saudi authorities must end their repeated moves to stifle people’s attempts to protest against the widespread use of arbitrary detention in the country,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“The right of people to peaceful protest must be respected and the security forces must refrain from detaining or using excessive force against people who exercise it.” Continue reading

Amnesty Int’l: Call for African Arrest of GWBush is rebuffed by pro-US countries–int’l law to serve (not challenge) imperialism

African leaders ignore Amnesty’s call to arrest Bush

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, December 6, 2011

African leaders ignore Amnesty’s call to arrest Bush

ADDIS ABABA, Dec 6 – RNW correspondents in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia went in search of supporters and detractors of Amnesty International’s call to arrest former US president, George W. Bush, during his recent visit to the continent.
Aiding and abetting in Addis Ababa
Ethiopians have had a good laugh about Amnesty International’s appeal, which most say is a ‘foolish’ publicity stunt to win African support for the rights group.
“This is a ridiculous attempt to show us that they are not a biased organization,” Mikael Atsbeha, a cameraman, said. “They abuse the opportunity of Bush’s visit to Africa to buy support.”
He also said the arrest is “never going to happen,” because of the strong ties Ethiopia had with the Bush administration. Ethiopia has been a loyal ally in Bush’s ‘war on terror’, fighting Islamic extremism in a US backed incursion into neighboring Somalia from 2006 to 2009. It even earned Ethiopia’s leader Meles Zenawi the nickname ‘America’s poodle’. Continue reading

Amnesty International: “Don’t Let Georgia Kill Troy Davis!”

Troy Davis about to be killed by the State of Georgia

AmnestyUSA on Jan 21, 2009
Troy Davis faces execution for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail in Georgia, despite a strong claim of innocence.
7 out of 9 witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony, no murder weapon was found and no physical evidence links Davis to the crime. The Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles has voted to deny clemency, yet Governor Perdue can still stop this execution of Troy Davis.
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Amnesty International, September 7, 2011
Troy Davis

Troy Davis

The day is now here – the state of Georgia has set Troy Davis’ execution date for September 21st.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his final appeal earlier this year.  But the story remains the same – Troy Davis could very well be innocent.

However, in the state of Georgia, the Board of Pardons & Paroles holds the keys to Troy’s fate.  In the days before Davis’ execution, this Board will hold a final clemency hearing – a final chance to prevent Troy Davis from being executed.

Davis was convicted on the basis of witness testimony – seven of the nine original witnesses have since recanted or changed their testimony.

One witness said in a CNN news interview:

“If I knew then, what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row.”

I know it’s difficult to believe that a system of justice could be so terribly flawed, but keep in mind that Troy has survived three previous execution dates, because people like you kept the justice system in check! 

We’ve been bracing for this moment and the time for action is now!  Here’s what you can do to join the fight:

1. Sign our petition to the Board of Pardons & Paroles urging them to grant clemency!  We’ll deliver your signatures next week.

2. Organize locally for Troy: Take to the streets with us. Soon we’ll be announcing the date for the official Troy Davis Day of Action. Sign up now to rally in the coming days to stop the execution of Troy Davis.

3. Join our #TooMuchDoubt Twitter campaign:  Spread the word about this injustice by tweeting a “Doubt a Day” about Troy’s story.   Continue reading