Archive | October 22nd, 2013

Saudi Arabia: Promises on human rights ‘nothing but hot air

NOVANEWS

Saudi Arabia has completely failed to live up to its international promises to address the country’s dire human rights situation, said Amnesty International today (21 October), ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva on Monday to scrutinise Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights performance is due to be examined later today by the UN’s Human Rights Council under a process known as the “Universal Periodic Review”.

In its own submission to the review process, Amnesty has accused the Saudi Arabian authorities of failing to implement any of the main recommendations from the last review in 2009. Instead, Amnesty has documented a new wave of repression against Saudi civil society over the last two years. Many of these human rights violations – against human rights activists, protesters and Shi’as – have taken place under the guise of security or counter-terrorism measures.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:

“Saudi Arabia’s previous promises to the UN have been proven to be nothing but hot air. It relies on its political and economic clout to deter the international community from criticising its dire human rights record.

“Four years ago, Saudi Arabian diplomats came to Geneva and accepted a string of recommendations to improve human rights in the country. Since then, not only have the authorities failed to act, but they have ratcheted up the repression.”

Prisoners of conscience
Those imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression or association include the founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Organisation (ACPRA), one of the country’s most prominent independent human rights organisations. On 9 March, two ACPRA co-founders – Dr Abdullah bin Hamid bin Ali al-Hamid, 66, and Mohammad bin Fahad bin Muflih al-Qahtani, 47 – were sentenced to ten and 11 years imprisonment respectively. Even on their release they will be subjected to travel bans of at least ten years. Other co-founders of the group have also been imprisoned and a court has ordered the disbanding of the organisation, confiscation of its property and the shutting down of its social media accounts.

“These men are prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally. Their peaceful activism against human rights violations deserves praise not punishment. The only guilty party here is the government,” said Philip Luther.

Torture and other ill-treatment
Corporal punishment is used extensively, including flogging and amputation. In some cases the sentence for theft is amputation of the right hand, and for highway robbery “cross amputation” (amputation of the right hand and left foot). Flogging is mandatory for a number of offences and sentences can range from dozens to tens of thousands of lashes.

Torture and other ill-treatment during detention are rife and carried out with impunity. Some of the common methods used include punching, beating with sticks, suspension from the ceiling or cell doors by the ankles or wrists, application of electric shocks to the body, prolonged sleep deprivation and being placed in cold cells. The heavy reliance by the courts on “confessions” – often extracted under torture, duress or deception – has entrenched such abuses. One detainee arrested in 2011 told Amnesty how he was tortured for ten days until he agreed to sign a “confession”. He said he was made to stand for prolonged periods with his arms raised, beaten with an electric cable, struck in the face, back and stomach, and threatened that he would be raped by other prisoners.

Systemic discrimination of women
Women are required to obtain the permission of a male guardian before getting married, travelling, undergoing certain surgical interventions, undertaking paid employment or enrolling in higher education. Women are still not allowed to drive.

Abuse of migrant workers

Migrant worker are one of the most vulnerable groups in the country and are not protected by labour laws. They are vulnerable to exploitation and abuses at the hands of private and government employers.

Discrimination against minority groups

Shi’a Muslims in the Eastern Province have been subjected to arbitrary arrests and detentions on suspicion of taking part or supporting demonstrations or expressing views critical of the state.

Executions
Executions in Saudi Arabia are frequently based on summary trials and “confessions” extracted under torture. The country remains one of the top five executioners in the world – at least 79 executions are known to have been carried out there in 2012. The death penalty is applied to a wide range of non-lethal crimes such as adultery, armed robbery, apostasy, drug smuggling, kidnapping, rape, “witchcraft” and “sorcery”.

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WELCOME TO THE WAHHABI REGIME: Imagined Heroism of the Saudi ‘Nail Polish Girl’

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254 Syrian, Egyptian migrants land in Italy

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A boatload of 254 Syrian and Egyptian migrants including 94 minors landed in Italy; they were rescued some 150 nautical miles southeast of Sicily
A boatload of 254 Syrian and Egyptian migrants including 94 minors landed in Italy on Sunday after a perilous voyage through rough seas from Egypt that skirted Greece and Malta to reach Italy.The migrants were rescued some 150 nautical miles southeast of Sicily and were transferred onto three coast guard patrol boats that arrived in the port of Syracuse in the early hours of Sunday.They were on a badly overcrowded fishing boat that was taking on water amid rough weather conditions in the Mediterranean due to high winds, Italian media reported, citing coast guard officials.

More than 500 African and Syrian asylum seekers are feared to have died in twin shipwreck tragedies off Italian coasts this month amid a growing influx of refugees trying to reach Europe.

Italy and Malta have seen more than 32,000 arrivals so far this year and Italy has asked for more EU assistance and wants the issue discussed at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels this week.

 

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Saudi Women Reunite To Remember Driving Protest

NOVANEWS

by CARYLE MURPHY

Every year, nearly four dozen Saudi women get together for a reunion. Eighteen years ago, on Nov. 6, 1990, they staged a public protest against their country’s ban on women driving. For half an hour, they drove their cars in a convoy around the capital city of Riyadh until they were stopped by police.

The women paid heavily for their actions — all the drivers, and their husbands, were barred from foreign travel for a year. Those women who had government jobs were fired. And from hundreds of mosque pulpits, they were denounced by name as immoral women out to destroy Saudi society. Almost two decades later, the ban is still in place, making Saudi Arabia the only country in the world where women cannot drive.

“I think it was worth it, because we raised the issue of the women in Saudi Arabia and the consciousness about it,” says Aisha al Mana, a businesswoman in Al Khobar who took part in the driving protest.

“We went through around a year of harassment because they thought we did something that is not acceptable by society. ‘The drivers,’ they call us,” she says with a laugh.

Two years after their demonstration, the women fired from jobs were reinstated. But Fawzia al Bakr, a professor of education who was one of the 47 protest drivers, says there is still lingering discrimination.

“Wherever you work, you are labeled as a ‘driver’ and you will never be promoted, no matter how good you are,” she says.

Facing Backlash

The women also have had to contend with critics who say they chose the wrong time to protest, given that their country was on war footing just three months after Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait. In addition, Saudi Arabia’s conservative religious forces were furious about the government’s decision to let in thousands of non-Muslim U.S. troops to protect the kingdom from Saddam Hussein.

Other critics say focusing on driving detracts from more important problems faced by women. And there are plenty of Saudi women who say that lifting the ban would threaten the Saudi family.

Al Bakr says none of these arguments means she should have to forgo her right to drive.

“In every society, you have different opinions,” al Bakr says. “I think these women have the freedom not to drive, but then we should have the freedom to drive if we want to. If you drive, it means that you have access to the public, you have access to the institutions. But if you are totally unable to move unless you have a male to actually drive you, then you’re completely paralyzed. And that’s the essence of it.”

Hossa al Sheikh, dean of women at Riyadh’s Yamama University and another of the protest drivers, says the ban is a hardship for families who cannot afford a chauffeur.

“I see poor women — they ask ‘I want to drive. I can’t work because I don’t have a driver,’ ” al Sheikh says.

Progress Under King Abdullah

The drivers agree that under King Abdullah, Saudi women have made progress in terms of expanding educational opportunities and growing access to jobs. But the king, who has said that allowing women to drive is a social, not a religious, issue, has so far not moved to lift the ban. Al Bakr says it may be a matter of priorities for the king.

“At the practical level, King Abdullah is working in a quiet way to support women,” al Bakr says. “But when it comes, unfortunately, to the driving, it’s just too much headache, and that’s why I think King Abdullah doesn’t want it — because he has more important issues.”

Yet opposition to women driving seems to be fraying. A Gallup poll last year found that 55 percent of Saudi men now want to let women drive. A handful of women caught driving this year were only briefly detained, according to press reports, and a university student was called a heroine after she drove her badly burned father to the hospital.

“I think now people are at ease talking about it,” al Mana says. “It’s not like it was 18 years ago — it was taboo.”

For now, those who defied the driving ban 18 years ago get together every November. They put on T-shirts that say “Drivers,” and they share a cake with a car on it. They take a group picture — just as they did back in 1990, right after their protest.

“It was so scary at that time, because we were chased by all the religious people,” al Bakr says. “But then we decided that this is a very historical moment, so as many of us, we should get together and have a picture and just keep it. And we did, actually. We gathered in one of our friend’s house and we took a historical picture, and I’m sure this picture is going to be in some museums somehow.”

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WAHHABI ZIO-REGIM: حملة شعبية بمشاركة سيدات ورجال الوطن

www.oct26driving.com

حملة شعبية بمشاركة سيدات ورجال الوطن. نظرا لكثرة الجدال في السنوات الأخيرة حول موضوع قيادة المرأة للسيارة فقد قررنا أن نعبر عن موقفنا ازاء هذا الأمر، حيث نطالب فيها بما يلي١

في خضم هذه التطورات الاقليمية والدولية وما يدور في العالم الحديث من تسارع في شتى المجالات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والثقافية،وكوننا جزء لا يتجزاء وشريحة بشرية من هذا الحاصل الكلي يسعى في فطرته ومن طموحه للتطور والتغيير نحو إنسان ووطن أفضل. نرى وبما انه لا يوجد مبرر واضح يقتضي منع الدولة المواطنات البالغات اللواتي يتقنّ قيادة السيارة من القيادة، ضرورة توفير السبل المناسبة لإجراء اختبارات قيادة للمواطنات الراغبات و إصدار تصاريح و رخص للواتي يتجاوزن هذا الاختبار. و في حال عدم تجاوز أي مواطنة لاختبار القيادة فلا يتم إصدار رخصة قيادة لها، بحيث تكون متساوية مع الرجل في هذا الشأن، فيكون المعيار القدرة على القيادة فحسب، بغض النظر عن جنس المواطن او المواطنة٢

خصوصاً وان هذا المشروع يتجاوز النظرة الشكلية والجدلية التي يخوضها المجتمع فيه،وانه ليس مجرد مركبة بداخلها امرأة وأنما مضمون يقر بالاعتراف والكينونة لنصف مجتمع وحق طبيعي منحه الخالق لعباده.وأعتراف بحقها الشرعي والمدني في التواكب مع الأحداث والتطورات،وكما كانت الصحابيات يركبن الخيل والإبل في التنقل والترحال حسب إليات عصرهم،فمن حقنا الأصيل بالقيادة وحسب آليات عصرنا الحديث. وبما انه لا يوجد نص شرعي واحد او مانع فقهي يحظر علينا ذلك،وأن كانت هنالك مبررات ممانعة فأنما تنطلق من موروثات وعادات ما انزل الله بها من سلطان. لذا نرى أن كثرة الجدال حول قيادة المرأة للسيارة لن يُحسم إلا بقرار حازم يقتضي بما طالبنا به في البند الأول، و نذكر بأن النساء لن بجبرن على القيادة إن لم يرغبن بذلك. فحتى لو سمحت الدولة بقيادة النساء للسيارة، فسيبقى المجال مفتوحا للمستغنيات عن القيادة بأن يمتنعن عن القيادة بكامل إرادتهن٣

إرجاء أمر كهذا لحين “اتفاق المجتمع” عليه ليس إلا زيادة في الفرقة وليس من المعقول والمنطق إجبار الناس بالإتفاق على رأي واحد، و نحن مجتمع كغيرنا يجب عليه الرضى باختلاف وجهات النظر، خاصة في أمر لم يحرمه نص صريح من القرآن أو السنة٤

في حال رفضت الدولة أن ترفع الحظر الحالي على النساء، نطالبها بأن تقدم للمواطنين و المواطنات مبرراتها للرفض، راجين ألا تنقل مسؤولية قرار كهذا لل”مجتمع” كبديل التبرير٥

في حال لم ترفع الدولة الحظر عن النساء، و لم تقدم مبررات لاستمرار الرفض، نطالبها بأن توفر آلية يتمكن “المجتمع” من خلالها أن يعبّر عما يريده و نحن إذ نطالب بهذا الأمر، فلا نطالب به من باب تبني فكر معين أو استيراد قيم من الخارج أو شيء من هذا. إنما نطالب به لأننا لا نرى مبررا معتبرا تمنع من أجله الدولة النساء من قيادة السيارة، فالدولة ليست أم أو أب و المواطنون ليسوا أطفال أو قصّر

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Saudi clerics decry bid by female drivers

NOVANEWS

Protesters accuse US of fomenting societal reforms

By Abdullah al-Shihri and Aya Batrawy
Saudi women boarded a taxi in Riyadh. A campaign calling on women to drive this  Saturday has gathered support online and reportedly has about 16,000 signatures.

ASSOCIATED PRESS/FILE 2011

Saudi women boarded a taxi in Riyadh. A campaign calling on women to drive this Saturday has gathered support online and reportedly has about 16,000 signatures.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Around 150 clerics and religious scholars held a rare protest outside the Saudi king’s palace on Tuesday against fresh efforts by women seeking the right to drive, highlighting the struggle faced by reformers in the ultraconservative kingdom.

Some of the senior religious leaders who protested outside the palace in the Red Sea port of Jiddah said the United States was behind a campaign calling for women to drive on Oct. 26. The driving campaign claims to have garnered 16,000 signatures.

The government has not cracked down on the effort, and King Abdullah is believed to favor some social reforms. The protest by clerics, who are among the most influential voices in Saudi Arabia, shows the challenge he faces in pushing gently for change without antagonizing conservative segments of the population.

The hard-line religious establishment has sway over the courts and oversees the often zealous religious police, run by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which enforces strict segregation of the sexes and other restrictive interpretations of Islamic Shariah laws.

‘‘Why was the date of the protest [by women driving] given a Western date and not an Arab one?’’ asked prominent Sheik Nasser el-Omar at the rally, referring to the Islamic lunar calendar that differs from the Gregorian one used by the West. ‘‘This suggests the campaign was made in the USA,’’ he said in remarks carried by the semi-official news website Akhbar 24.

Since the right-to-drive campaign launched last month, Saudi women have been uploading videos and sharing pictures online of themselves driving. A number of Saudi women on the country’s top advisory body, the Shura Council, also put forth a request this month to discuss the issue of allowing women to drive, though no debate has yet taken place.

While neither Islamic law nor Saudi’s traffic laws explicitly ban women from driving, they are not issued licenses.

Previously, some female drivers have been arrested and charged with disturbing public order. One woman was ordered to be lashed 10 times, but King Abdullah pardoned her.

No women have been arrested trying to drive in recent weeks. In one case, two women were pulled over by police in the main city of Riyadh after one of them posted on Twitter a picture of the other driving.

Eman al-Nafjan’s brother, Khalid, said after the incident that the police were polite with his sister and her friend but made them call their husbands to pick them up. The two women had to sign letters promising not to drive again and their husbands had to sign letters stating they would not let their wives drive again, her brother said.

He said that the family is very supportive of Nafjan’s efforts, but she was targeted on Twitter. ‘‘Saudi Arabia is a tribal community, so it is a matter of [fact] that you need to be more conservative about your thoughts . . . your actions. Everything has a reaction in the community,’’ he said in a telephone interview.

That women have not yet been arrested in this month’s driving campaign suggests authorities have taken a softer approach.

This has angered ultraconservative scholars. Some of the protesting clerics were quoted in the local media saying that Saudi rulers are not doing anything to stop the campaign.

Not present at the rally was the imam, or leading sheik, of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site toward which observant Muslims pray five times a day.

However, Saud al-Shuraim supported the clerics’ protest via his Twitter account, which says that calls for women to drive are an offense against the king and ‘‘aimed at unraveling the beads of wisdom in a cohesive society.’’

One prominent cleric who has bucked the ultraconservative trend is former Grand Mosque imam, Sheik Adel el-Kilbani. He wrote on his Twitter account recently that he hopes women may soon be allowed to drive.

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Saudi women break driving ban, defying warnings: campaigners

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A woman drives a car in Saudi Arabia October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

A woman drives a car in Saudi Arabia October 22, 2013.

(Reuters) – A few women filmed themselves driving in Saudi cities on Saturday, defying government warnings of arrest and prosecution to take part in a campaign against men-only road rules, activists said.

But some others stayed at home, put off by phone calls from men who said they were from the Interior Ministry, reported organizers of the demonstration against an effective ban on women drivers.

Police put up checkpoints in some parts of Riyadh, Reuters witnesses said, and there appeared to be more traffic patrols than usual on the streets of the capital – the latest sign of the sensitivity of the issue in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom.

“I know of several women who drove earlier today. We will post videos (online) later,” one of the campaign organizers told Reuters by phone.

Five videos were published on the campaign’s YouTube feed and Twitter on Saturday morning, dated October 26 and purporting to show women driving in Riyadh, the oasis region of al-Ahsa and the city of Jeddah.

It was not possible to verify when they were filmed.

King Abdullah has pushed some cautious reforms, expanding female education and employment. But he has also been careful not to open big rifts with conservative clerics.

Mosques across Saudi Arabia broadcast sermons on Friday telling women to stay at home.

Protests are illegal in Saudi Arabia, and public demands for political or social change have traditionally been interpreted by the authorities as an unacceptable challenge to the ruling al-Saud family’s authority, local analysts say.

However, organizers said their call for women to drive on Saturday was not a political protest as they had not called for gatherings, rallies or processions of cars.

Instead they have asked women with foreign driving licenses to get behind the wheel accompanied by a male relative and drive themselves when performing everyday tasks.

WEBSITE HACKED

A website set up by the campaigners to petition the government appeared to have been hacked on Saturday morning, displaying a black background illuminated by glowing red lightning bolts and bearing the message “Reason for the hacking: I am against women driving in the land of the two holy shrines”.

The kingdom’s powerful religious establishment is lavishly financed by the state, but it has opposed numerous government efforts to gradually increase women’s public role in society.

On Tuesday, around 150 conservative clerics gathered outside the royal court in a rare protest against the pace of social reforms in Saudi Arabia, including women’s rights. One prominent cleric, Sheikh Nasser al-Omar, was filmed describing the campaign for women to drive as “a conspiracy”.

However, supporters of the campaign can point to increasingly public support for the idea of women driving in the media and among prominent Saudi figures.

This month three women in the Shoura Council, an appointed quasi-parliament set up by King Abdullah to advise the government on policy, said the Transport Ministry should look into allowing women to drive.

They argued that the ban made it hard for women to work or look after their families and that it caused financial hardship for families who had to employ a full-time driver.

Some Saudi newspapers have also published editorials arguing women should be allowed to drive.

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Saudi Arabia women defy authorities over female driving ban

NOVANEWS
By Mohammed Jamjoom and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
Watch this video

Women drive for change in Saudi Arabia

(CNN) — In an extraordinary display of civil disobedience, women in Saudi Arabia on Saturday defied their nation’s de facto ban on women driving by getting behind the steering wheel.

After a campaign for change gathered pace on social media, numerous women filmed themselves behind the wheel Saturday in various cities and uploaded those videos to YouTube.

Several Saudi supporters of the October 26th Women’s Driving Campaign told CNN that at least 25 women drove Saturday.

Authorities stopped five women who were spotted driving in the Saudi capital and “each case was dealt with accordingly,” Col. Fawaz Al-Meeman of Riyadh police told CNN.

Al-Meeman, an assistant spokesman for that city’s police department, explained that the women weren’t taken to police stations. Instead, they were kept in their vehicles until their male guardians arrived, at which point the women were released after signing pledges not to drive again.

Driving campaign supporter Mai Al-Swayan, an economic researcher, said she was one of the women who drove Saturday. She posted a video on YouTube showing her driving.

She said she drove from home to a grocery store in Riyadh, and then back with her groceries. “I drove on the highway and was noticed by a couple of cars but they were fine with it,” she said.

“I’m very proud. I feel like we accomplished the purpose of our campaign.”

Al-Swayan, who has taken the wheel before in defiance of the ban, said she was worried about what might happen before she drove Saturday but now plans to keep doing it.

She said she believed more women would drive in the days to come.

Photographer: Taken to police station

While Riyadh police said no one was taken to police stations, that wasn’t the case in Jeddah, said photographer Samia El-Moslimany.

She said she was detained in the evening for having driven and taken to a police station, where there was another woman who had been stopped for driving. El-Moslimany said she was later released.

“I thought I was going to take an uneventful drive around the neighborhood to solidify my reasoning that it’s not against the law, simply against the current customs of our country,” El-Moslimany told CNN.

Men she believes to be police informants spotted and followed her, she said. She pulled over and called her driver to take her back home, but police appeared and she had to go to the station.

“We were treated with respect and treated so professionally,” El-Moslimany said. “We described how we were not part of any demonstration, that we … felt it was our right. They spoke to us very kindly and said we’d have to sign a pledge not to drive again.”

Police told the women they needed their guardians to come to the station before they could be released, she said.

Jeddah police could not be immediately reached for comment.

Interior Ministry: Laws will be enforced

Asked if any women were observed or stopped from driving, or if there was an increased police presence on the streets of major cities, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour Al-Turki said it was a “normal day, just like every Saturday.”

He added, “I am not aware of any violation. Usually regional police spokesmen would speak to media about any, if any violation takes place.”

Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry issued a warning earlier in the week to women caught driving and anyone taking part in demonstrations.

Without outlining how laws would be applied and what punishment might be doled out to offenders, Al-Turki said then, “All violations will be dealt with — whether demonstrations or women driving.”

He added, “Not just on the 26th. Before and after. At all times.”

No traffic law specifically prohibits women from driving in Saudi Arabia, but religious edicts there are often interpreted to mean women are not allowed to operate a vehicle.

It’s not clear what action might be taken against women who defy the de facto ban.

Several Saudi women supporting the campaign said they received threatening calls Thursday from men claiming to represent the Interior Ministry, according to women’s rights activists who requested anonymity. The callers warned the women not to drive before, on or after Saturday, the activists said.

Initially, Al-Turki denied any calls were made. He later contacted CNN to clarify his comments, saying the phone calls were a public relations move by the ministry to help people understand that laws would be “fully enforced” Saturday.

‘Shameful’ to detain women for driving

Adam Coogle, a Saudi Arabia researcher for Human Rights Watch, told CNN via e-mail that the Saudi Interior Ministry was trying to “deflate the momentum” behind the campaign through “direct, individual intimidation.”

He called on Saudi Arabia to end discrimination and allow women to go about their business.

“It is shameful that a woman could be detained for activity that isn’t illegal,” he said. “The Interior Ministry claims it is against ‘activities that disturb public peace,’ but pulling over and arresting activists merely for practicing their rights is a far greater threat to public peace than merely getting behind the wheel.”

One of those spearheading the driving campaign is activist Manal Al-Sharif, who was jailed for more than a week in 2011 after posting a video of herself driving.

Al-Sharif, who now lives in the United Arab Emirates, said it is a positive sign that the government stated its position on women driving.

“They kept telling the world that the women’s driving issue was one for Saudi society to decide upon,” she said. “Society is now showing it is supportive of the idea of women driving. The government’s reaction makes it very clear this is not a societal decision. This is a political decision.”

Saturday’s protest was the culmination of an online movement launched in late September urging Saudi women to get behind the wheel.

The campaign quickly gained momentum, with its online petition garnering more than 16,000 signatures despite the kingdom’s restrictions on protests.

The online initiative was boosted by the fact that residents of Saudi Arabia are highly active on social media and YouTube.

Rights group Amnesty International on Thursday urged Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive and not punish those campaigning for change.

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Italian Parliament introduces holocaust denial legislation

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ROME, Oct. 16 (UPI) — Italian members of Parliament introduced an amendment to the country’s criminal code that, if passed, would make holocaust denial a crime, officials said.The legislation was signed Tuesday by politicians across several parties, including the center-left Democratic Party, the center-right People of Freedom Party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, ANSA reported.

”It would be a significant response to all those episodes of revisionism, alas all too present in Italy and in Europe, that seek to distort history and memory,” said Democratic Party Sen. Monica Cirinna. “Particularly on the eve of the tragic 70th anniversary of the Nazi raid on Rome’s Jewish ghetto. On Oct. 16, 1943, more than 1,000 Roman Jews were deported to Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. Only seven returned.”

“A hateful attitude, which now becomes a prosecutable crime,” she added.

Holocaust denial is already either implicitly or explicitly a crime in 17 countries, including Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Switzerland and Romania.

 

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UK police accused of sex abuse cover-up

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Elm Guest House in Barnes, where young boys were allegedly taken to be abused by high-profile MPs in 1990.

Elm Guest House in Barnes, where young boys were allegedly taken to be abused by high-profile MPs in 1990.
A former child protection officer says British police had threatened him to stop his investigations into child abuse by high-profile MPs in 1990.

Chris Fay said he was threatened with a gun to his head to avoid probing allegations surrounding Elm Guest House in Barnes, where young boys were allegedly taken to be abused by a VIP pedophile ring.

According to Fay, members of Special Branch routinely warned him, his colleagues, and even the victims when the story broke in in early 90s.

“At one point they had me up against a wall by my throat with a gun at my head telling me in no uncertain terms that I was to back away if I knew what was good for me,” Fay said.

“I was told by the police implicitly, ‘We do not want you to come to us with big names’,” he added.

Fay, who worked for National Association of Young People In Care attacked the Metropolitan police for “physically” stopping the victims from speaking with the group and said they were acting like “gangsters”.

“I witnessed Special Branch officers manhandling them [the victims] and turning them away with a warning to keep their mouths shut. It was blatant,” said the 67 year-old child protection officer.

Campaigner Bill Maloney also accused the police of protecting high-profile criminals, saying “police cover-ups to protect the wealthy” should stop immediately.

The British police have so far declined to comment on Fay’s remarks.

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