Archive | November 23rd, 2015

Criminalizing Our People: Social Impacts of the PKK Ban

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Thousands of Kurds in Germany protest the terror designation of the PKK which has criminalized their communities.
By: Dilar Dirik 

Thousands of Kurds in Germany  protest the  terror  designation of the PKK which has criminalized their communities. 

The terror-listing of the PKK by Western states criminalizes ordinary Kurds. However, its hypocrisy also created a conscious, mobilized, activist community.
Last year, when Western mainstream media was confused about “PKK terrorists” fighting “Islamic State group terrorists,” this evoked a tired smile in the faces of ordinary Kurds who, aside from oppression at home,are stigmatized and criminalized throughout Europe.

Terror designations often demonize one side of a conflict, while immunizing the otherThis especially applies to the Turkey-PKK conflict, with the second largest NATO-armyon one side, and an armed national liberation movement on the other. But in this case,a terrorist designation also criminalizes an  entire community of  ordinary people, denying them fundamental rights.

The on and off listings of groups and states, such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, according to the day’s political situation, are examples of how blacklistings are political, not moral, regardless of their pretensions. In reality, listings strengthen state-   sponsored violence by reinforcing the state’s monopoly on the use of force, ignoring the legitimacy of resistance and making no moral distinction between groups like ISIS and movements reacting to injustice.

Today, the Kurdish  freedom movement  around the PKK, especially with its pioneering women’s liberation paradigm, appeals not only to Kurds, but to all oppressed peoples in the region.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was designated as a terrorist group by the United  States in 1997 and by the EU in 2002. While PKK-affiliates committed violent acts in Germany in the 1990s, violence was not the reason to justify the ban, but rather the PKK “disrupting NATO interests in the Middle East.” Still today, European officials  state that as long as Turkey’s stance on the PKK remains, they will refrain from lif-ting the ban. Whenever governments look like reconsidering the listing, it is due to tensions with Turkey. While the listing appeases Turkey, it is also a wild card  to  signal that the ban on their enemy could be removed if Turkey misbehaves.

One does not have to be a PKK-sympathizer to view the ban as an anachronism.In an erain which the PKK not only shifted its political perspective, announced several unila-teral cease-fires, and initiated a two-year long peace process, it is also the life  guarantee for many ethnic and religious communities in the Middle East as the strong-est enemy of the Islamic State group. Old arguments fail to hold.

But, legal and political arguments aside, what social implications does black-listing have?

In Europe, Kurdish people constitute one of the most organized and political communi-ties. The concept of democratic autonomy is implemented in the form of people’s and  women’s  assemblies in the  diaspora. This democratic  potential itself is seen as a threat.

European governments aim to delegitimize organizations perceived as terrorist by tar-geting and “disrupting” support bases through criminalization in an attempt to depol-ticize communities and break their ties with politics at home.

But Western governments are often complicit in the oppression that forces these comm-unities abroad. The same states that label the PKK as terrorist are the top arms pro-viders of Turkey’s war on the Kurds. Intelligence provided by U.S. drones killed 34  Kurdish civilians in 2011, German tanks destroyed 5,000 Kurdish villages in the 1990 in the hands of the Turkish army. Ironically, while  supporting Turkey’s  war on the Kurds, European states also accepted thousands of Kurdish refugees due to political  persecution in the 1990s.The explicitly geopolitical nature of these lists reinforcesinjustice; thus,for the Kurdish community,terror-listing is not a standard for moral-ity or legitimacy, as Kurds actively die under its implications. What it is however  is harassment and abuse to a community of millions.



Kurds demand an end to the PKK terror designation. Photo: Reuters

In Europe, people don’t need to actually commit offenses to be arrested for PKK-memb-ership. In Germany, which pursues the most aggressive criminalization due to the longtradition of German-Turkish political and economic collaboration, the criteria for   membership can be mere perceived sympathy, which is answered with phone tapping, psy-chological and physical violence at demonstrations,home raids, and closures of socialand political institutions. Participation in social and political events, which are  normally democratic rights protected under international agreements, suffice as memb-ership criteria. Legally registered offices, student  organizations, and  community  centers are under constant suspicion.

People are charged without seeing evidence against them due to the secretive nature  of counter-terrorism procedures. In the case of Adem Uzun, a prominent Kurdish polit-ician and activist, a reason to arrest him was actively fabricated by French authori-ties.

Young Kurds in Germany, France and the U.K., without residence status or citizenship,are targetted because of their vulnerability and coerced to collaborate with authori-ties as spies against their own communities. They face threats of deportation when   they refuse. Nowadays,refugees from Kurdistan who escaped the Islamic State group are threatened and harassed by European police for joining political activities.

Simultaneous crackdowns are often coordinated across Europe and coincide with develo-pments in Kurdistan. Shortly after peace negotiations were announced between the PKK and the Turkish state in 2013,crackdowns on Kurdish activists took place most notably in Spain, Germany, and France.

Angela Merkel’s visit to Turkish President Erdogan before November’s snap elections  expressed support for his authoritarian-fascist rule and meant that Europe would close its eyes to Turkish massacres if Erdogan keeps refugees out of the EU. As besieged Kurdish cities like Silvan face massacre by the Turkish army, Germany raids Kurdish houses and arrests activists, as I write.

OPINION: Turkey’s Future? State Authoritarianism or Democratic Autonomy

Simultaneously,after having spent most of the year in jail,Shilan Özcelik, an 18-yearold Kurdish woman is being tried in a British court under terrorism charges for alle-gedly wanting to join the fight against the Islamic State group. Activists believe   that the U.K., which criminalized Kurds for more than a decade, wants to set precede-nce with Shilan’s case,especially after British volunteer Konstandinos Erik Scurfielddied fighting the Islamist terror group alongside Kurds in Syria, the funeral of whomwas  received by crowds  praising  him as a hero. The British government is in tacit alliance with Kurdish forces at the front, but criminalizes the same struggle domestically.

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I$raHell to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem for “disloyalty”

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Charlotte Silver Rights and Accountability
Israeli police search a Palestinian man near Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on 23 October.Anne PaqActiveStills

Israel is moving to revoke the residency of four Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem for alleged disloyalty to the state.

The four young men were accused of stone-throwing and armed attacks.

Last month, interior minister Silvan Shalom vowed to revoke the residency permits of those alleged to have attacked Israelis.

When Israel occupied East Jerusalem in June 1967, formally annexing it in 1980, Palestinians living there became “permanent residents,” a status that is vulnerable to revocation and requires holders to fulfill certain conditions to maintain.

Under international law, Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is null and void.

Since 1967, more than 14,309 Palestinians have had their residency revoked for mostly administrative reasons.

Only a handful of Palestinians have been threatened with revocation for alleged acts of “terror.”

In the notices delivered to the young men, Shalom declares he is acting under the 1952 Law of Entry, which allows him to revoke the residency permit of individuals who “breach allegiance to the State of Israel.”

Illegal occupation

Following the revocation of residency status, one’s identity card and social benefits are also voided, and the person is forbidden entry into Jerusalem.

Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer with the human rights group Adalahtold The Jerusalem Post that revoking residency rendered the affected people stateless.

Rights groups in Israel have strongly denounced the move, asserting that the Fourth Geneva Conventionprohibits an occupying power from forcibly transferring civilians from their homes.

When Shalom announced his plans in mid-October, he said, “We must vomit the bloodthirsty murderers from among us.”

“These terrorists who blatantly violated their allegiance to the State of Israel by trying to murder innocent people are not worthy of living among us,” he added.

The four young men whose residency is in jeopardy are currently in Israeli prison and awaiting court proceedings.

But the loss of residency status does not depend upon their conviction, according to Dalia Kerstein of HaMoked, a human rights group that is representing the four.

Kerstein told The Electronic Intifada that three of the Palestinians who may be stripped of their permits are accused of manslaughter while throwing stones at cars, allegedly causing one driver to have a heart attack and fatally crash his vehicle.

The fourth man is accused of an armed attack on a bus in West Jerusalem which left three dead.

Kerstein says they have 30 days to prepare for a hearing with a clerk of the ministry of interior who will rule on the case. But HaMoked is preparing a petition to the high court to stop the procedure altogether.

A ruling is still pending in the high court on an earlier case involving the revocation of residency permits of Palestinians accused of disloyalty.

Expelled from Jerusalem

In 2006, Israel made its first moves to strip Palestinians of their residency on this basis when then-interior minister Roni Bar-On revoked the permanent residency and identity cards of four Palestinian lawmakers.

Three of the men had been elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006 after running on Hamas’ platform. The fourth, Khaled Abu Arafeh, was appointed as Minister of Jerusalem Affairs for the new government.

The four were arrested one month after the elections. Bar-On gave them the ultimatum to resign from their political offices or be stripped of their status. In 2011 they were expelled from Jerusalem.

A petition to the high court to repeal the revocations was immediately filed and to this day no decision has been made. For the past nine years, the four have been confined to the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

Israel has since tried to revoke the residency of Palestinians on terrorism grounds in a handful of cases, according to Kerstein, but each time the decision has been postponed until a ruling on the case involving the Hamas legislators.

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How I$raHell pressures BBC into changing headlines

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Amena Saleem Media Watch
Before (left) and after: a BBC headline was changed to obscure the fact Israeli killed a Palestinian in cold blood. (Screenshots by Media Lens)

In the early hours of 12 November, approximately two dozen Israeli gunmen, one disguised as a pregnant Palestinian woman, others wearing fake beards, invaded a hospital in Hebron and gunned down a 28-year-old man.

In a rare burst of reporting on an Israeli atrocity, the BBC ran an article on its website headlined: “Israelis shoot dead Palestinian in Hebron hospital raid.”

It was a straightforward headline which summed up the story. But later in the day, a different headline appeared above the report, reading: “Israelis in disguise raid Hebron hospital, seizing suspect.”

As is standard practice for the BBC, the amendment was not noted at the bottom of the page, so newcomers to the story would not have known the headline had been altered.

It was spotted, however, by the watchdog Media Lens, which posted a screengrab of the two headlines on its Facebook page, asking: “What happened? Pro-Israeli flak? Bending to pro-Israeli pressure?”

These questions are even more pertinent in the light of a documented exchange which took place between the BBC, the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) and the Israeli embassy in London at the beginning of October about another of the broadcaster’s headlines.

Headline changes

The Times of Israel reported then on Israeli fury sparked by the 4 October BBC Online headline “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two.”

The headline is factually correct, but offense was caused to Israel’s PR machine because the killing of 19-year-old Muhannad Halabi took precedence in the headline over the slaying of two Israelis.

The Times of Israel wrote: “The [Israeli] Government Press Office on Sunday warned the BBC it could face sanctions for running a news headline highlighting the death of the Palestinian terrorist shot by the police Saturday after fatally stabbing two Israelis, rather than the attack itself.”

The website added that a “harshly worded letter was sent to Richard Palmer, the head of the BBC Bureau in Israel, by the head of the GPO,” and that “the Israeli Embassy in London asked the network to change the headline.”

Whatever the GPO’s harsh words were, they appear to have been enough to scare the BBC into changing the headline, which went through three alterations – documented by the Zionist lobby group BBC Watch – before it met with the satisfaction of the Israeli embassy and the Israeli GPO.

The Israeli-approved headline ran: “Jerusalem: Palestinian kills two Israelis in Old City.”

(This headline has since been changed again, apparently unnoticed by either the Israeli embassy or the GPO, to Israelis killed in Jerusalem, Palestinians banned from Old City.”)

In its report of 4 October, The Times of Israel noted: “According to a GPO official, Israel expects an official apology from the network, and said the office was considering annulling the press cards of BBC journalists, a decision that if implemented would not allow the network to continue operating in Israel.”

This is not an idle threat, and BBC staff know it.

“A very evil light”

In 2003, the Israeli government severed ties with the corporation, accusing it of the “worst of Nazi propaganda” after it broadcast the documentary Israel’s Secret Weapon which shed light on the country’s nuclear and chemical arsenal.

Danny Seaman, then head of the Israeli GPO, said it was “because of what we feel to be a bias and an anti-Israel line … that portray Israel in a very evil light.” Seaman said government officials would no longer help BBC journalists get expedited press accreditation.

When Orla Guerin, then a BBC Middle East correspondent, questioned Israel’s repressive attitude towards the corporation, she too found herself in the Israeli government’s line of fire.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard in 2003, she said“How can you still be a democracy and try to harass the press? This is not how a democracy behaves.”

Guerin was later pulled from the Middle East, the decision being announced just days after the BBC’s director general at the time, Mark Thompson, returned from a visit to Israel in 2005 where he met with then Nazi Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Influence

Journalist Keith Dovkants, writing in the London Evening Standard in 2012, noted that “on [Thompson’s] return to London the corporation instituted the Middle East reporting regime that exists today and which, many believe, influenced the decision to refuse to show the charity aid appeal for Gaza.”

This is a reference to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal of January 2009, which was aired by major television channels to raise money for Gaza as another Israeli massacre there came to an end. But the BBC, in an unprecedented move, refused to show it.

Arthur Neslen, a journalist who worked at the BBC for four years, told me: “They take Israeli calls very seriously, and critical stories about Israel get shot down through official pressure and the fear of official pressure. These are very powerful lobbyists — people know their careers can be broken.”

Swedish academic and media expert Leon Barkho told Dovkants: “I have investigated this and I am convinced [BBC] policy is dictated from the top because of the enormous sensitivity … The message is: don’t antagonize the Israelis.”

And so the questions asked by Media Lens when the BBC amends a headline to soften public perception of an Israeli crime — “What happened? Pro-Israeli flack? Bending to pro-Israeli pressure?” – answer themselves.

It is a sad state of affairs for a news organization which prides itself as a leader in global journalism. BBC journalists and editors, it would seem, sit at their desks in London and cower in fear at the thought of an angry phone call from the Israeli embassy.

They let us all down, but, most of all, they let down the Palestinian people, whose cry for freedom goes unheard at BBC Broadcasting House, drowned out by the undemocratic machinations of the Israeli PR machine.

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Paris Changed Nothing. We Still Have Every Reason to Welcome Syrian Refugees

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Image result for syrian refugees photos

This week, we’ve heard calls from all quarters to close our doors to the modest number of Syrian refugees President Obama proposed welcoming to the United States. Thirty governorshave vowed to bar Syrian refugees from entering their states; the House of Representatives voted 289-137 to place impossibly tight restrictions on admission of refugees from Iraq and Syria;  and 2016 presidential candidates disingenuously decried the possible influx of “100,000,” “200,000” or even “250,000” refugees that no one has proposed — remember Obama only called for letting in 10,000 Syrians next year.

But after the Paris terrorist attacks of a week ago, not only should we not give in to this paranoia, we should offer entry to as many Syrian refugees as we can — it’s more important than ever to demonstrate to both our allies and our adversaries that America will live up to the values of sheltering innocents and constructively intervening to end civil war.

Not only that, in the long run, it’ll make us safer.

Last month, I called for the United States to end military intervention in Syria and take a more proactive role in developing a plan for the world to resettle all the refugees fleeing the that country’s civil war. On the surface, Paris looks like an argument to abandon such a strategy. A closer look, however, reveals that, fundamentally, nothing in my argument has changed — indeed, Paris makes the need for a change in direction of de-escalation, compassion and forward thinking all the more clear.

First, clearly, barring refugees would not prevent the Islamic State from conducting further attacks against Western targets. Those who argue that Paris proves taking in refugees is too great a risk are confusing refugees with terrorists. They point to reports that one of the suspected Paris terrorists came to Europe as a refugee. But refugees themselves are not a threat; the millions of Syrian refugees are fleeing from President Bashar al-Assad, the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, not sticking around to fight with them or branching out to carry the violence overseas.

Seven of the eight known terrorists suspected in the Paris attacks were citizens of European countries. None of the 9/11 attackers was a refugee, nor had any of them posed as refugees. In other words, some of the most heinous terrorist attacks in history were carried out by individuals who were in the countries they attacked under completely different circumstances. They didn’t flee war zones under false pretenses. Think of it in this context: as my Cato Institute colleague Alex Nowratesh writes, “Of the 859,629 refugees admitted from 2001 onwards, only three have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks on targets outside of the United States, and none was successfully carried out.  That is one terrorism-planning conviction for every 286,543 refugees that have been admitted.” By contrast, he notes, “about 1 in every 22,541 Americans committed murder in 2014.”

Moreover, contrary to claims by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) that we can’t background check them, the process of screening refugees is lengthy and arduous. Refugees must first pass through a security check and screening process run by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to determine whether they are unable to return to their homes due to serious and indiscriminate threats to life, physical integrity or freedom resulting from generalized violence…” Then those seeking entry to the U.S. must meet with a host of agencies, with final approval granted only if they survive a background check carried out by the Department of Homeland Security. The process can take between one and upward of two years — hardly a shortcut for a would-be terrorist. When we hear calls to shut down borders and turn away refugees, we are not hearing proposals that will actually make us safer. We are hearing knee-jerk reactions to a horrifying attack and political theater designed to win votes instead of solve problems.

Second, there’s no risk-free solution to confronting the problems posed by the Islamic State. We have to weigh the potential harm suffered from a terrorist attack against the harm caused by continued military intervention in Syria, which is not only likely to cost more American lives if we become mired down in Syria militarily, but in turn is almost certain to exacerbate the refugee problem by prolonging the Syrian civil war.

Indeed, those who use the prospect of potential terrorist attacks to criticize refugee resettlement — many of whom simultaneously call for an increased military commitment — must account for the fact we lost almost 7,000 lives to military intervention in the Afghanistan and Iraq. More aggressive intervention to engage the Islamic State would only drive that figure higher. Worse, based on our experience since 9/11, those additional casualties would do nothing to reduce the probability of future terrorist attacks.

Finally, a resettlement strategy will make Americans safer. Opponents of refugee resettlement underestimate both the backlash from military intervention and the impact that a dramatic change in policy could have on Middle Eastern hearts and minds. As Foreign Policy’s Steven M. Walt notes, “the Islamic State hopes to provoke responses that will reinforce its narrative of irreconcilable religious conflict and attract even more sympathizers to its bloodstained banner,” drawing France and its allies (a/k/a, us) further into conflict. Ill-conceived calls from presidential candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeb Bush to take in only Christian refugees exacerbate this dynamic.

Accepting all refugees while disengaging militarily, on the other hand, would flip the script, robbing Islamic State leaders and other extremists of a key plank in their calls to arms. Large-scale refugee resettlement demonstrates that Americans and Europeans value the lives of Middle Eastern people, not just Middle East oil or maintaining the geopolitical balance of power. Ending our current campaign of airstrikes and focusing on the well-being of Syrians would send a completely different message, one that would prove far more damaging to the Islamic State in the long run than bombs.

As Paris recovers, our hearts go out to the families of the victims. But no single attack, no matter how cold-blooded should cause us to abandon a noble and necessary course of action. Millions of refugees desperately need help. And our government has to find a way to balance its primary responsibility to protect Americans from harm while also fulfilling the role of a constructive global power by extending help to Syrians fleeing years of carnage — not to mention that doing this will ultimately make Americans more secure. A policy of resettling refugees presents its own obstacles, but unlike a military response it offers concrete long-term benefits while undermining one of the root causes of terrorist attacks.

Posted in USA, France, SyriaComments Off on Paris Changed Nothing. We Still Have Every Reason to Welcome Syrian Refugees

How much does the average Pakistani know about IS?

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MULTIMEDIA DESK 

Islamic State weaves web of support in Gulf Arab states

Pakistan’s response to a recent Pew Research Survey conducted in Muslim-majority countries raised more than a few eyebrows.

While most countries with significant Muslim populations oppose the self-styled Islamic State (IS), Pakistan became a notable exception, as the majority — 62% — offered no conclusive opinion.

When a Pew researcher was asked on Twitter by one observer whether it is clear if Pakistanis are aware of IS, he responded saying it was not.

We decided to venture out onto Karachi’s bustling I.I Chundrigar Road to ask passers-by what (if anything) they knew about IS.

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UK’s Muslim women bear the brunt as hate crimes jump 300pc

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Ireland’s New Muslim Implants Are Already Committing A Rising Number Of Hate Crimes

Islamophobic hate crime in the United Kingdom against British Muslims increased more than 300 per cent to at least 115 incidents of anti-Muslim crime over a period of seven days in the week following the Nov 13 Paris terror attacks, The Independent reported.

Muslim girls and women aged 14-45 years were those targeted the most due to their traditional Islamic garb while perpetrators in most incidences of hate crime were white males aged 15-35 years, says a report to the government’s working group on anti-Muslim hatred seen by The Independent.

The spike in attacks mimics that observed in the wake of the 2013 murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

The report says the number is “concerning since the cases show that women who wear the hijab are the ones being targeted for general abuse and threats”.

It goes on to say that a large portion of the attacks occurred in public places, including buses and trains. At least 34 victims of hate crime were women wearing hijab, while at least eight instances of crime involved young children.

“Out of these cases on public transport, eight involved young children who had heard the comments against their mothers, and their mothers said their children had seen them being fearful as perpetrators took aggressive physical postures against them… Sixteen of the victims even mentioned that they would be fearful of going out in the future and that the experiences had affected their confidence,” the report says.

It claims that many of the victims suggested no one came to their assistance or even consoled them, meaning they felt victimised, embarrassed, alone and angry about the hate crimes.

An eyewitness, Ashely Powys, describes a racist rant witnessed on the Tube: “He was reeling off abuse, calling her things like ‘rag head’, ‘terrorist’, ‘scum’, and saying ‘her people’ murdered the victims of the Paris attacks … He was aggressively close and was clearly terrifying her.”

Read editorial: Islamophobia in the West

A mother pulled her daughter out of an Edinburgh claiming intensification in anti-Muslim bullying following the Paris attacks.

“They called my daughter the ‘F’ word and insulted her for being Muslim … The bullying has got worse since the Paris attacks,” she claims, adding, “Nobody deserves to be treated like she has been.”

The report claims the language of anti-Muslim prejudice reverted from “groomers” or “paedos” following the Rotherham grooming scandal to “terrorists” and “bombers”.

The report calls on the British government to do more to combat the problem, saying it undermines community relations. It follows a statement by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) which claims police cuts could impact trust and inter-community cooperation.

MCB Security and Counter-terrorism Spokesman Miqdaad Versi says “Cuts in policing budgets have affected the opportunity for community organisations to build links and relationships with the police as officer numbers have been drastically reduced. It is difficult to see how new cuts will not make the situation worse.”

“To develop a more effective policy in combating terrorism that blights our society, it is key for police to engage, consult and build trust with communities as partners.”

The figures in the report were compiled by the Tell Mama helpline which records incidents of verbal and physical attacks on Muslims and UK mosques ─ and may be underestimated due to under-reporting for a variety of reasons, including fear.

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Love, hate and Islamaphobia in America

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JENNIFER ASHRAFI 
The author with her husband, Max.
The author with her husband, Max.

In 2001, I met a man at work who intrigued me. We began dating shortly after the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks. In 2003, I married this man, and in 2007 we had our first child together – a beautiful little girl to join my older daughter from a previous marriage.

In 2016, we will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary with our children at Disney World – our favorite place on earth. Max loves me more than seems justified, but he’s exactly the father my kids deserve, the kind of man I wish I’d been able to look up to as a child.

Everyone he works, prays, plays or engages with loves and respects him. He’s one of those rare people who doesn’t seem to have any enemies.

But there’s just one little thing. Max is a Muslim.

The sad fact is, despite the qualities listed above, and the other terrific nuances that make Max a better man than most, some people that don’t know him at all hate him because of his religious beliefs. Oh, and they hate my 8-year-old daughter too. Facebook taught me that yesterday.

In fact, Facebook has been educating me about the inherent disgust for my family for years now. However, after last Friday’s senseless tragedy in Paris, the rejection of my loved ones reached a fever pitch.

It was a former aunt by marriage who posted a “fact” sheet (which I have not yet vetted) that delivered the blow that led to this post. The data in the meme purported to reflect Japanese restrictions on Muslims in their country.

Said aunt (who has, it must be owned, recognised her prejudicial error, removed the post and apologised) added the editorial comment, “And so should the US,” in reference to Japan’s alleged closed door policy to Islamic people.


It’s not like I haven’t experienced different forms of hate or racism by proxy over the course of my relationship with Max.


Quite the contrary. I’ve had my luggage contents dumped on the floor for all to see in an airport in Omaha. You know, because I was traveling with a bearded brown man. A hateful employee at O’Hare, the world’s largest as well as one of the most diverse travel hubs, attempted to prevent my husband and I from flying on the same plane to our honeymoon destination.

More recently, I was waved through a security checkpoint at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City even though my bracelets were tripping the metal detectors. However, my cousin by marriage, wearing a hijab, was harassed about a blue dolphin statue that I purchased for my daughter at the Museum of Natural History. My cousin had been kind enough to tote the item for me on her stroller, and her kindness turned into an ugly memory.

Also read: ‘We are good Muslims, but Americans too’

I’ve asked these questions a million times. Does every Christian (or even an atheist gun owner) pay the price every time a rogue member of the flock shoots up an abortion clinic? Did every white American male have to apologise for or denounce the Unabomber? How about Timothy McVeigh? Did we close the borders to white Protestants after the evils perpetrated by the Klu Klux Klan? The obvious answer to all of these queries is “No.”

Why obvious? Because it’s absurd to expect every American or Christian to denounce the distorted beliefs of a crazy person in order to stave off personal suspicion. As a culture, we do not afford the Muslim community that same courtesy.

You know those people that spout racist speech but then take cover under dubious claims when caught? They’ll say “Oh, I have black friends” after making pointedly ignorant statements about the African-American culture. This phenomenon exists in discussions about the Islamic faith too.

When I’m frustrated and emboldened enough to call someone out for their hate speech, and this has happened a few times, some are very quick to tell me they have Muslim friends who are “good people.” All better then, right?

1) No. I don’t believe you have Muslim friends. Because if you did, they would tell you that your gross, painful generalisations are unfounded.

2) I don’t think a Muslim – or any religious/ethnic minority – would befriend you knowing your opinions.

3) The second you protest that you have a ____ friend and are not a prejudiced against ______s as a result, you have lost the argument.

Max is a man of seemingly limitless tolerance and patience. But I’m not. Those security disasters I mentioned? My husband waits for them to end with humility. He does what he’s told and asks me to remain quiet so we can get through it and not draw extra attention to ourselves. He accepts that additional layers of mistrust and scrutiny are his lot in life – that he has to deal with being unnecessarily harassed for the good of the country.

I sit there incensed and mortified. He just endures.

I’ve learned to internalise my anger because if Max is willing to undergo racial profiling so we can board our plane to Disney World, who am I to presume greater entitlement to respect? Who am I to disrupt the peace he so desperately wants? But, instead of getting used to the repetition of these indignities, they fester inside.

Also read: Interview — ‘Being Muslim in America is exhausting’

This is the world my daughters will inherit, the youngest of whom is being proudly raised in the Islamic faith. That’s what hurts and scares me the most. My husband is a big boy who can take care of himself. He was an adult with excellent coping skills before, during and after the horrible events of 9/11 that changed our country.

But, my baby girl is sweet and innocent, thinks the best of everyone. I dread the day she realises that some will reject her based on one part of who she is. How will she react the first time she’s on the receiving end of a racist remark or hate speech about the only religion she knows? How will I react?

I recently watching President Obama’s speech at the G20 Summit in Turkey. I mentally applauded a particular quote as it was uttered, but in light of this recent, personal emotional roller coaster it bears repeating:

I had a lot of disagreements with George W. Bush on policy, but I wasvery proud after 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the factthat this is not a war on Islam. And the notion that some of those whohave taken on leadership in his party would ignore all of that, that’snot who we are. On this, they should follow his example. It was theright one. It was the right impulse. It’s our better impulse. We don’tdiscriminate against people because of their faith. We don’t kill people because they’re different than us.

That’s what separates us from them.

 

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The Karma of Terror

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Image result for terror photos

By William T. Hathaway

Terrible terrorists are killing our soldiers in their countries and killing us here at home. How can

we stop them?

The answer is simple: Stop terrorizing them. We started this war. What we do to others comes

back on us.

In addition to centuries of crusades and imperial conquest, the past 100 years show a clear

pattern of Western aggression in the region. During World War One the British persuaded the

Arabs to fight on their side by promising them independence. Thousands of them died in battle

for the Brits because of this promise of freedom. But after the victory Britain refused to leave; it

maintained control by installing puppet kings — Faisal in Iraq and Ibn Saud in Saudi Arabia — to

rule in its interest.

After World War Two the USA and Britain pressured the United Nations into confiscating Arab land to form the state of Israel, making the Arabs pay for the crimes of the Germans. They wanted

Israel as a forward base for dominating the resources of the Middle East.

In the early 1950s the USA and Britain overthrew the government of Iran because it tried to

nationalize its oil industry, which was under Western control. We installed the Shah as dictator,

and he promptly gave the oil back to us. Then he began a 25 year reign of terror against his own

people. His secret police jailed, tortured, or killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians who opposed

him. Since they knew he was kept in power only by American military aid, they began hating the

USA.

In the mid 1950s Egypt decided to nationalize the Suez Canal and use the income from it to help

their people out of poverty. They were willing to pay its British and French owners the full market

value for their shares, but Western governments and Israel responded violently, invading and

bombing Egypt into submission.

Countries have the right to nationalize their resources as long as they pay a fair compensation, so

what Iran and Egypt wanted to do was legal. The Western response, though, was illegal

aggression in violation of international law and the United Nations charter. It roused in its victims

a deep resolve for revenge.

The West has committed similar atrocities in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and

Indonesia. We’ve overthrown their governments, installed dictators, undermined their economies

— all to strengthen our business interests. In every nation where we now have terrorism, we had

first assaulted them. We under attack only because we are on the attack. It’s no wonder they

hate us. Imagine how we would feel if a foreign country was doing this to us. We’d be fighting

back any way we could.

Since they don’t have our military power, they’re resorting to guerrilla warfare. As Mike Davis

wrote, “The car bomb is the poor man’s air force.” The rich have Stealth bombers, the poor have

Toyota Corollas, both filled with explosives. The bombers are much bigger and kill many more

people. Since 9-11 the USA has killed over 300,000 — 100 times more than died in the World

Trade Center. The overwhelming majority have been civilians. We are the top terrorist, armed to

the teeth with weapons of mass destruction. As Martin Luther King stated: “The greatest purveyor

of violence in the world today is my own government.”

Our politicians and media have created an image of fiendish terrorists who “hate us for our

freedom.” But they really hate us for subjugating them. Since we started the aggression, the

attacks won’t end until we leave their countries.

Even fanatics like al-Qaeda and ISIS are fighting defensively to force us out. The Western media

never publish their demands because they are so reasonable. They basically come down to, “Go

home and leave us alone. Pull your soldiers, your CIA agents, your missionaries, your

corporations out of Muslim territory. If you do that, we’ll stop attacking you.” Nothing about

destroying the West or forcing it to become Islamic. Just that the West should stay in the West.

If people knew this — knew how easy it would be to stop terrorism — they wouldn’t want to fight

this war. That’s why the media ignore the fundamentalist’s demands. Western leaders don’t want

people to see that the war’s real purpose isn’t to stop terrorism but to control the resources and

markets of this region. They actually want the terrorism because that gives them the excuse they

need — the threat of an evil enemy.

As Hermann Goering, Hitler’s assistant, declared: “Naturally the common people don’t want

war…. But…it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, a

fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship…. All you have to do is to tell

them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the

country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Goering was right about the democracies that existed both then and now. In these, the people’s

influence in politics is limited to ensure that only pro-capitalist parties have a chance. Corporate

financing, winner-take-all elections, ballot-access laws, and slanted media coverage effectively

exclude alternatives. Democracy means power is in the hands of the people. But the real power in

our society — economic power — remains firmly in the hands of the rich elite, enabling them to

control politics — and us — to a large degree.

Capitalism is always at war. The violence, though, is often abstract: forcing us either to accept

low-paying, exhausting jobs or starve; denying us adequate health care, education, and economic

security; convincing us that human beings are basically isolated, autonomous units seeking self

gratification. But when this doesn’t suffice to keep their profits growing, the violence becomes

physical, the cannons roar, and the elite rally us to war to defend “our” country and destroy the

fiendish enemy. Motivating us to kill and die for them requires a massive propaganda campaign —

“The West is under attack!” — which we absorb whenever we turn on their media.

Why do they do this? Are they monsters?

No, they’re not. They’re just human beings who are products of an inhuman system which they

have chosen to serve rather than change. Capitalism is inherently predatory, so predatory

personalities rise to the top. Since it demands aggressive growth, they must either dominate or

go under.

The drive for domination is the root cause of war, and until we eliminate it, we’re going to

continue killing one another. Eliminating it requires a global struggle to bring down capitalism.

Political democracy must be expanded and extended into the economic sphere. We, the people of

the world, have to take control of the forces that shape our lives. This is the basis for building a

society in which we can all fully develop as human beings. Once we achieve this, we’ll have a real

chance for lasting peace.

We can do this! It’s no more difficult than other evolutionary challenges humanity has mastered.

#

William T. Hathaway is an adjunct professor of American studies at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. His new book, Lila, the Revolutionary, is a fable for adults about an eight-year-old girl who sparks a world revolution for social justice. Chapters are posted on www.amazon.com/dp/1897455844. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.

Posted in Middle East, USA, EuropeComments Off on The Karma of Terror

Terror Junkies and the Paris Attacks

NOVANEWS

The ISIS and the West’s “Addiction” to Funding Radical Groups

Global Research
radical group

Similar to a heroin addict, Western nations have a destructive addiction which they are so dependent on, they appear unwilling to give it up.  Funding radical terror organisations is the modus operandi of many prominent nations in NATO, with the US, UK and France, playing a prominent role. From the Afghan Mujahideen to the so-called Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS), extremist groups have been used as geopolitical tools by the West for decades.

Over 120 people dead and hundreds injured, the tragic scenes in France have shocked many people in Europe. ISIS has claimed responsibility for terror attacks in other regions of the globe recently, including in Lebanon, where at least 44 people were brutally killed. Dabiq, the magazine of ISIS, has also just published a photo of parts of a homemade bomb that they claim was used in the atrocious terrorist attack on the Russian passenger plane in the Sinai Peninsula, which killed over 220 people.

The West is Complicit in the Paris Attacks

 Despite all the grandstanding and rhetoric from the French President and Western leaders, a critical point that needs to be emphasised is that Western governments are complicit in the Paris attacks and any future terror attacks (there will be more). If we put aside for a second the thesis that the Paris attack was a false flag operation or that French intelligence simply allowed it to happen, what can’t be disputed is that Western foreign policy has directly resulted in the rise of terrorism globally, most notably the rise of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

These groups would not have the resources and global reach to launch any attacks in the West if they had not been armed, trained and let loose on the Syrian government by NATO members in collusion with regional allies. For those who have been following the proxy war in Syria and the nefarious and insidious policies of the West, this latest attack comes as no surprise.

Here’s just some of the plethora of evidence that Western nations – or the terror pushers – have been supporting extremists to overthrow the Syrian government:

  • ‘The Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq), are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,’ was the assessment of the opposition by the Defense Intelligence Agency in their declassified intelligence report from 2012.
  • The French government delivered vast sums of money to the Syrian rebels in 2012, which was used to buy guns and ammunition.
  • French President Francois Hollande confirmed in 2014 that France had delivered arms to the Syrian rebels to fight Assad.
  • The UK has been pouring millions into the Syrian opposition for years, with reports from 2013 claiming Britain was involved in an operation with other European states and the US to provide the Syrian rebels with 3,000 tons of weapons, sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb in Croatia, to the rebels.
  • Roland Dumas, the former French minister of Foreign Affairs, , revealed that the war in Syria was ‘prepared, preconceived and planned’ at least ‘two years before the violence’ erupted in 2011. Dumas said he was approached in the UK by ‘top British officials’ to see if he would participate in “organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria”.
  • In 2015, a Swedish national called Bherlin Gildo was accused of fighting for Syrian rebel groups – including Jabhat al-Nusra (read al-Qaeda in Syria) – but the case was quickly dropped after his lawyer’s cleverly argued that British intelligence was involved in arming and providing non-lethal aid to the very same terrorist groups he was allegedly fighting for.
  • The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Michael T. Flynn, revealed in a recent interview that the Obama administration took the willful decision to support the rise of the Syrian rebels in 2012, even though Washington knew the opposition was composed of extreme terror groups.
  • As Tony Cartalucci reported earlier this year, an ISIS mercenary confessed to Pakistani authorities that he received funds that were routed through the US in order to ‘recruit young people to fight in Syria’.
  • The CIA has been shipping weapons to the Syrian rebels for years, whilst selling the practice to the public under the auspices of only supplying (phantom) ‘moderate’ groups.

Considering the policy of NATO in Syria, does anyone actually believe that the strategists in London, Paris, Brussels and Washington, did not foresee blowback from their strategy?  It’s hardly rocket science to figure out that if you fund and arm a bunch of crazed terrorists to overthrow a secular government in the Middle East, they are going to carry out terror attacks in other parts of the world.

This leads to the question: Do Western leaders welcome more attacks? Europe has literally created the perfect climate for terror attacks by funding and arming radical groups in Syria, and then flooding Europe with refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa – which of course allows terrorists to enter with ease alongside the innocent people displaced by imperial Western wars and proxy wars. Obviously, the only viable solution to the refugee crisis is the stabilization of the Syrian state and the wider region, meaning the West has to abandon its drive to overthrow Assad and balkanize the nation. 

Terror Attacks Fuel the Totalitarian Surveillance State 

It is clear that Western countries have been using the hoax of the ‘war on terror’ as a justification to impose totalitarian control domestically, in addition to using it to mobilize public opinion for imperial wars abroad. The US, UK and France, can’t justify a dystopian surveillance state without terror attacks, and these attacks allow the government to impose policies that the population would have never have accepted prior to the crisis. As the Mayor of Chicago and former White House Chief of Staff to Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel,stated in 2008:

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that: it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.

Prior to 9/11, the majority of people in the West would find a pervasive, expensive, illegal and pernicious surveillance state to be a severe violation of their basic rights – including the right to privacy and the rule of law. After 9/11, the majority of people in the West appear to be willing to live in Nazi Germany to supposedly stop these Western-created terrorists from attacking, even though surrendering all your basic rights to the government does not give you safety or security.

Snooping by the National Security Agency (NSA) has intensified dramatically in the US over the past 14 years. According to high-level NSA whistleblower, William Binney, the objective of the agency is ‘total population control’. The surveillance state in the UK has expanded at an alarming rate since 2001, and has accelerated since the 7/7 bombings in London. Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks at the beginning of the year in Paris, the French parliament has passed a surveillance bill which allows intelligence agencies to ‘circumvent the need for judicial warrants’. Many privacy advocates have rightly dubbed this the ‘French Patriot Act’, and we can expect the French government to demand even more 1984-style surveillance powers after the latest attacks.

Will the West Halt this Abhorrent Strategy in Syria?

 In recent days there have been a few signs that some Western nations may be finally coming to their senses in regards to Syria at least, as European powers appear to be edging towards more rational dialogue. Reports suggest that the UK and Russia may begin to cooperate more closely in regards to Syria after the G20 summit, with Vladimir Putin stating that there is ‘some upturn’ in otherwise frosty relations between the two countries. General Sir David Richards, the former Chief of Defense Staff, also recently urged Britain to work with Assad to defeat ISIS, since attempting to overthrow Assad whilst simultaneously (supposedly) fighting ISIS, is not aplausible’ strategy.

Additionally, Francois Hollande seemed to refrain from outright demonizing the Syrian President in a recent statement, stating that ISIS is the ‘enemy’ in Syria, although his comments are slightly ambiguous. As Sputnik reported, the French President said during an emergency meeting at the French parliament:

In Syria, we’re looking for the political solution to the problem, which is not Bashar Assad. Our enemy in Syria is ISIL.

Certain forces in Washington are one of the major obstacles to peace in Syria, as the US has not seriously been targeting the group they helped create, and are still trying to annihilate the legitimate, secular Syrian government. Russian Foreign Minister,Sergey Lavrov, recently stated that the US-led airstrikes against ISIS were ‘hitting selectively, I would say sparingly, and on most occasions didn’t touch those IS units which were capable of seriously challenging the Syrian army.’ He added that Washington’s position ‘seriously weakens the prospects of Syria to remain a secular state.’ 

Considering the destructive role that the US, Britain and France, have played in Syria and the wider region, it is difficult to believe these countries will truly implement rational and sane policies anytime soon. These powers are just as likely to exploit the recent tragedy to further their belligerent drive for regime change in Syria, and bomb Syrian infrastructure under the guise of fighting ISIS. Hopefully Russian leadership in the world will encourage the West to move in the direction of sanity however.

Posted in FranceComments Off on Terror Junkies and the Paris Attacks

Time to “Defund” the International Criminal Court

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Should the ICC be Disbanded?
The Hague NL International criminal court -ICC

The Assembly of States Parties is meeting this month in The Hague to review the work of the International Criminal Court and to discuss the ICC’s budget. The ASP is the International Criminal Court’s management oversight and legislative body. The Assembly also elects the judges and prosecutors and decides the Court’s budget. The court’s proposed budget for 2016 amounts to €153.32 million, representing an increase of €22.66 million, or 17.3 per cent, over the 2015 approved budget. At face value, far from increasing the budget for the ICC, the Assembly of State Parties should be demanding a refund.

Established in 2002, the ICC is an impotent billion euro white elephant. 2015 has been a particularly bad year for the court. It has botched the Kenyan cases it has undertaken and its continuing alienation from Africa was centre-stage internationally when South Africa, previously a keen member, publicly ignored ICC arrest warrants and appears on the verge of withdrawal from the organisation – something seen by observers as a death knell for the court.

The International Criminal Court has self-evidently failed across the board. In 2010 the ICC-friendlyEconomist had already found it necessary to publish an article about the ICC entitled “International justice: Courting disaster?” Things have worsened considerably since then. The ICC has consumed more than a billion euros in its 13-year existence and has only secured two deeply questionable convictions. The ICC’s claims to international jurisdiction and judicial independence are institutionally flawed and the court’s reputation has been irretrievably damaged by its racism, blatant double standards, hypocrisy, corruption and serious judicial irregularities. The Assembly of State Parties should also accept that it has grotesquely neglected its responsibility to manage the court. The ASP has turned a blind eye to systemic failure on the part of the ICC.

While the ICC pretends to be the world’s court this is simply not the case. Its members, however, represent under one-third of the world’s population: China, Russia, the United States, Pakistan and Indonesia are just some of the many countries that have remained outside the court’s jurisdiction. India, the world’s largest democracy, has chosen not to join the ICC because the court is subordinate to the United Nations Security Council and because it does not criminalise terrorism and the use of nuclear weapons. The United States has forcefully pointed out that the ICC is a kangaroo court, a travesty of justice open to political influence, and has said that no American citizen will ever come before it. That said, Washington is perfectly happy when it suits American foreign policy objectives to demand that black Africans appear before a deeply flawed court peddling sub-prime justice.

The ICC pretends to be independent. Far from being an independent and impartial court, the ICC grants special “prosecutorial” rights of referral and deferral to the UN Security Council – by default its five permanent members (three of which are not even ICC members). The court is also inextricably tied to the European Union which provides over 60 percent of its funding. The ICC has come to be seen within Africa very much as a European-funded and directed instrument of European foreign policy.

The Office of the Prosecutor, for example, has to date received approximately 9,000 complaints about alleged crimes in 139 countries. From these almost nine thousand alleged instances of serious abuses of human rights, the ICC has acted in eight African “situations”, and indicted 39 Africans, to the exclusion of any complaints implicating white Europeans and North Americans or their protégés. The ICC has turned a blind eye to self-evident human rights abuses well within its jurisdiction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghanistan is an ICC member state. As a result the court can investigate alleged war crimes committed by citizens of any country, ICC Member State or not, within its borders. Tens of thousands of civilians have died and well over one hundred thousand have been injured in the conflict in Afghanistan, many of them at the hands of NATO and US forces. The ICC has however ignored any allegations of war crimes by NATO, US or EU citizens in Afghanistan.

The ICC promised “swift justice” but took several years to bring the first accused to trial for allegedly using child soldiers. The Nuremberg trials, which addressed infinitely more serious charges, were over and done within a year. The ICC pretends to be victim-centred yet Human Rights Watch has publicly criticised the ICC’s ambivalence toward victim communities. The court promised to usher in a new era of gender justice. Women’s rights specialists such as Professor Louise Chappell have noted that the ICC’s record in this respect “has been partial and inconsistent”, and that “The ICC’s legitimacy is fragile.”

Despite having consumed more than one billion euros the ICC has also shown itself to be stunningly dysfunctional. The court’s proceedings thus far have often been questionable where not simply farcical. At the heart of any judicial process is testimony provided by witnesses. The court has produced witnesses who recanted their testimony the moment they got into the witness box, admitting that they were coached by non-governmental organisations as to what false statements to make. In its first trial, that of Thomas Lubanga, a process that lasted seven years, the judges found all but one of the alleged former child soldiers presented as witnesses by the Prosecution to be unreliable. Dozens of other “witnesses” have either been similarly discredited or disavowed their “evidence”. This hallmark of incompetence continues to this day. Most recently the ICC prosecutor had to admit that one of its own star witnesses in its case against Kenyan Vice-President Ruto was “thoroughly unreliable and incredible”. In reality it is the Office of the Prosecutor that has been revealed to be thoroughly unreliable and unprofessional.

There have been scandalous examples of prosecutorial misconduct, not least of which the ICC Chief Prosecutor hiding hundreds of items of exculpatory evidence, which should have ended any trial because they would have compromised the integrity of any legal process. The ASP has simply stood by doing nothing.

That the International Criminal Court is corrupt is also self-evident. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionarydefines “corrupt” as “destroyed in purity, debased; vitiated by errors or alterations.” The Assembly of State Parties is responsible for the appointment of judges to the ICC. It is in the selection of judges that the ASP and ICC have been at their most corrupt. ICC judges – some of whom have never been lawyers, let alone judges – are the result of grubbily corrupt vote-trading within the Assembly of State Parties amongst member states and delegates. The relationship between appointments to the ICC and vote trading between states is an open secret. Selecting International Judges: Principle, Process, and Politics, a ground-breaking study of international judicial appointments, written by Professor Philippe Sands QC, and others as part of Oxford University Press’ International Courts and Tribunals Series, concluded that “the evidence leads unequivocally to the conclusion that merit is not the main driving factor in the election processes.” The study also revealed that “[m]any individuals who participate in the ICC process believe it to be even more politicized than other international judicial elections.” The sheer corruption of the process aside, the reality is that vote-trading results in mediocre judges which in turn leads to a dysfunctional, politicised court.

It is clear that the both the Assembly of States Parties and the International Criminal Court are simply unfit for purpose. Far from granting the ICC yet more money, both the ASP and the ICC should be defunded and disbanded.

Posted in Politics, WorldComments Off on Time to “Defund” the International Criminal Court

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