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A. Loewenstein Onine Newsletter

Colluding with Israeli apartheid should affect your global image

 

Posted: 07 Jun 2012

 

The Independent reports:

The government will be challenged in parliament next week over the services provided in Israeli settlements within occupied Palestinian territory by the company chosen to run security for London 2012.

G4S, designated as “official provider of security and cash services for the Olympics,” also operates in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, seen by the UK – and nearly all other countries represented at the Games – as illegal in international law.

The prominent businessman and Labour peer Lord Hollick will table a written question on Monday asking ministers what steps they have taken to ensure that the UK-based company does not provide security services in illegal settlements in the West Bank. G4S, which bills itself the “world’s leading international security solutions group” has already taken on 10,400 new employees for the Olympics.

Terrorism won’t eat your babies quite yet

 

Posted: 07 Jun 2012

 

This:

Today, the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) released its 2011 Report on Terrorism. The report offers the U.S. government’s best statistical analysis of terrorism trends through its Worldwide Incidents Tracking System (WITS), which compiles and vets open-source information about terrorism—defined by U.S. law as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”

Although I invite you to read the entire thirty-one page report, there are a few points worth highlighting that notably contrast with the conventional narrative of the terrorist threat:

  • “The total number of worldwide attacks in 2011, however, dropped by almost 12 percent from 2010 and nearly 29 percent from 2007.” (9)
  • “Attacks by AQ and its affiliates increased by 8 percent from 2010 to 2011. A significant increase in attacks by al-Shabaab, from 401 in 2010 to 544 in 2011, offset a sharp decline in attacks by al-Qa‘ida in Iraq (AQI) and a smaller decline in attacks by al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa‘ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).” (11)
  • “In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.” (14)
  • Of 978 terrorism-related kidnapping last year, only three hostages were private U.S. citizens, or .3 percent. A private citizen is defined as ‘any U.S. citizen not acting in an official capacity on behalf of the U.S. government.’ (13, 17)
  • Of the 13,288 people killed by terrorist attacks last year, seventeen were private U.S. citizens, or .1 percent. (17)

According to the report, the number of U.S. citizens who died in terrorist attacks increased by two between 2010 and 2011; overall, a comparable number of Americans are crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year. This is not to diminish the real—albeit shrinking—threat of terrorism, or to minimize the loss and suffering of the 13,000 killed and over 45,000 injured around the world. For Americans, however, it should emphasize that an irrational fear of terrorism is both unwarranted and a poor basis for public policy decisions.

Assange interviews cypherpunks

 

Posted: 06 Jun 2012

 

This week’s The World Tomorrow (previous episodes here) talks to three cypherpunks, individuals who challenge the ever-growing power of corporations to control the internet. Fascinating:

 

Blood on British hands; sending Tamils back to be tortured

Posted: 06 Jun 2012 07:07 PM PDT

These serious allegations are horrific. A government’s duty of care is paramount and yet in this case it seems that the desire for Britain (and indeed, Australia, who says very little about war crimes in Sri Lanka) to have a good relationship with Colombo is central. Also note the use of a private, chartered plane, akin to rendition, for doing the government’s dirty work. Good work by the Guardian:

The British government is forcibly deporting asylum seekers who are then tortured in Sri Lanka, according to the testimony of one victim who was left scarred and suicidal after a brutal two-week ordeal.

The victim told the Guardian he was tortured over the space of 17 days after being deported from the UK last year. His torturers accused him of passing on to British officials information about previous beatings at the hands of state officials and otherhuman rights abuses, to ruin diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The revelations come as Sri Lanka’s head of state, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is expected to have lunch with the Queen and other heads of Commonwealth states as part of jubilee celebrations on Wednesday. The coalition is coming under increasing pressure to revisit its policy, which suggests it is safe to return Tamils to Sri Lanka. Last week the high court halted the deportation of 40 people to the island at the last minute, citing human rights concerns.

In an in-depth interview, the former member of the rebel Tamil Tigers’ intelligence service said he was tortured after the Home Office deported him and two dozen other asylum seekers in June 2011. More than 70 UK border guards accompanied girls and men on the flight from Stansted airport last summer after a last-minute judicial review and his initial claim for asylum based on previous evidence of torture, were turned down by UK authorities, he said.

Speaking through a translator, the victim, who wants to be identified only as Hari for fear of further retribution by Sri Lankan authorities, said that six months after he was deported, security personnel arrested him and beat him with rods, put petrol-filled plastic bags over his face and hung him by his feet with a nylon rope. Hari’s back displays a welter of scars and the Guardian has seen medical reports supporting his claims.

Hari managed to bribe his jailers and escape back to the UK via Russia and is now filing a second claim for asylum. “I came here with a hope,” he said. “I believed that the UK authorities would consider my case reasonably but, regardless of all my history and the evidence, they sent me back and I had to suffer again.”

Last week, the UK government forcibly deported several other Sri Lankans, ignoring pleas from human rights organisations to halt flights in the face of mounting evidence that UK and European returnees have been tortured.

The Home Office has insisted it is safe to return Tamils to Sri Lanka after the end of a long civil war and quotes a European court ruling that “not all Tamil asylum seekers require protection”. However, officials are facing increasing pressure to change their policy.

Plus:

When a representative from the British high commission waiting at Colombo airport went up to Hari and offered him his business card, the torture victim, now 32, says it gave him hope.

The official told him to get in contact if anything happened to him and that the card was a sign that he might live.

Hari had just disembarked from the worst flight of his life. On the plane, privately chartered by the UK Border Agency in June last year, were 24 Sri Lankans, 12 of whom were Tamils. All had failed in their claim to stay in the UK. Despite documentary evidence, seen by the Guardian, from the International Committee of the Red Cross, Hari was unable to demonstrate to the British government he had been tortured by Sri Lankan authorities in the late 1990s.

Watched over by more than 70 UK border security staff, men and women wept as the plane took off from Stansted.

“We were in a panic. We were expecting they would cancel the removal [flight] at the last minute and most of them were crying … I thought, this was the end of my life,” said Hari.

Disregarding the presence of British high commission officials, Sri Lanka‘s security services subjected Hari on arrival to lengthy questioning. Fearing for his life, he took off, fleeing to a relative’s home away from his family in Jaffna, in the north of the war-torn island.

For six months Hari hid with his aunt until he thought it was safe to return to his family but on the way to them on 10 December, he was stopped at a checkpoint and taken to the capital.

In what he described as a “torture hall” on the fourth floor of the criminal investigation department building in Colombo, Hari, who had already served time for being an intelligence agent for the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), was accused of campaigning and raising funds for the organisation while in the UK and also of undermining diplomatic relations by complaining to the UK government of the abuses he had previously suffered.

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