Archive | Human Rights

21 Members of the Media in Turkish Prisons, Many More Journalists and Social Media Users Facing Trial

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Global Research
white moon and star turkey map

VIENNA – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today urged Turkish authorities to reform laws that endanger free expression and media freedom, following the release of an updated study on imprisoned journalists.

“There are 21 members of the media in prison in Turkey today and many more journalists and social media users face trials that could result in prison sentences,” Mijatović wrote in a letter to Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoğlu, sharing the study. “The specter of prison cannot be overstated, as it can increase self-censorship among journalists and social media users.”

The Representative welcomed the fact that significantly fewer journalists were in prison since the first study was released in 2011. But she noted that laws allowing for imprisonment for journalistic work are still used to punish critical and dissenting voices.

“The study highlights the need to reform the laws criminalizing freedom of expression, as well as their implementation by the courts,” Mijatović said. “Previous legal reforms have not been exhaustive enough to ensure pluralistic dialogues in the society. The majority of recent changes in several laws have further limited the right to express critical ideas.”

The study, carried out by prominent media expert and journalist Erol Önderoğlu, updates information on journalists in prison and identifies the laws most often used for convictions. The Representative welcomed the constructive exchange of information with the Ministry of Justice about the status of journalists in prison, noting that the Ministry’s remarks were incorporated into the table.

The Representative said that media outlets reporting about sensitive issues are often regarded by the authorities and courts as potentially supportive of terrorism. She said, the legitimate right of governments to fight terrorism can only be strengthened by guaranteeing citizens the right to report or comment on all issues of public interest.

The Representative also noted that intimidation of journalists and social media users by high public officials has become a widespread practice and urged Turkey to align with international standards calling for a higher threshold for criticism by public officials.

“Criminal charges against journalists and social media users for insulting public officials can threaten the freedom and safety of these journalists and Internet users,” she said. They can also further weaken freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey.”

Mijatović urged Turkey to embark upon a comprehensive reform of the related laws, including the Criminal Code, the Anti-Terror Law and the Internet Law. She offered her Office’s full support in assisting with the legal reforms.

The study can be accessed here: http://www.osce.org/fom/173036.

The Office of the Representative has been calling for legal reforms in Turkey since it was established in 1997. Earlier versions of the study on imprisoned journalists are available here: April 2011, http://www.osce.org/fom/76374 and http://www.osce.org/fom/76373; April 2012:http://www.osce.org/fom/89371;  March 2014:http://www.osce.org/fom/116291?download=true; and June 2014: http://www.osce.org/fom/119921?download=true.

Posted in Human Rights, Turkey0 Comments

Ethics Director Among Top Psychologists Who Aided CIA Torture and Cover-Up

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Image result for CIA LOGO
By Claire Bernish 

An alarming recent report revealed not only that prominent psychologists colluded with the Department of Defense and CIA to create a framework of justification for appalling and inexcusable torture, but the person heading that partnership was none other than Stephen Behnke, the Ethics Director of the American Psychological Association.

The APA’s collusion with the national security apparatus is one of the greatest scandals in U.S. medical history,”declared a statement by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) following the report’s release. That statement called for a full investigation by the Department of Justice over the APA’s actions—and inactions—that gave the Bush administration the greenlight for cruel and inhumane torture of the highest order.

“The corruption of a health professional organization at this level is an extraordinary betrayal of both ethics and the law and demands an investigation and appropriate prosecutions,” implored PHR’s executive director, Donna McKay. “Rather than uphold the principle of ‘do no harm,’ APA leadership subverted its own ethics policies and sabotaged all efforts at enforcement.”

Acting in concert with DoD officials, the APA became the de facto “PR strategy” [read: propaganda campaign] that sanitized gross human rights abuses in order to “curry favor” with the DoD. Sleep deprivation, waterboarding, stress positions, and other forms of torture were both spuriously justified and allowed to continue through the creative editing and generalization of the very ethics standards that should have prevented any torture from taking place. According to the report:

[K]ey APA officials were operating in close, confidential coordination with key Defense Department officials to set up a task force and produce an outcome that would please DoD, and to produce ethical guidelines that were the same as, or not more restrictive than, the DoD guidelines for interrogation activities.”

The 542-page report, first obtained by the New York Times, resulted from seven months of investigation by a team headed by David Hoffman of the law firm Sidley Austin, at the request of the APA’s board.

Physicians for Human Rights summarized the “overwhelming evidence of criminal activity by APA staff and officials”—whose involvement is evidenced in the report by the following four key conclusions:

  1. “Colluding with the U.S. Department of Defense, the CIA, and other elements of the Bush administration to enable psychologists to design, implement, and defend the post-9/11 torture program”
  2. “Allowing military and intelligence personnel to write APA ethics policies regulating their own conduct to ensure they were ‘covered’ in their roles for the torture program”
  3. “Engaging in a coordinated campaign to cover up the collusion and blocking attempts to oppose these policies within the APA” and
  4. “Obstructing and manipulating ethics investigations into psychologists involved in the torture program”

Hoffman’s report posits several motives—all with “organizational conflict[s] of interest”—that the APA had for its rather astonishing partnership:

“[The] DoD is one of the largest employers of psychologists and provides many millions of dollars in grants or contracts for psychologists around the country. The history of the DoD providing critical assistance to the advancement and growth of psychology as a profession is well documented . . .”

Further, the group of DoD and APA officials who crafted the laughable ethics policy actively dodged international law of the Geneva Convention, where its strictures were tighter than U.S. law. [I] cannot take a stand opposed to the U.S. government,” said one. Even the APA’s president-elect called it a ‘distraction’ to draw international law into APA’s ethics guidance.” This falls in line with President Bush’s outright rejection of the conventions following 9/11 as a deplorably whimsical way to land al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees in a “legal black hole,” as human rights groups and U.S. allies described it.

In a press release, former APA president Dr. Nadine Kaslow stated, “The actions, policies, and lack of independence from government influence described in the Hoffman report represented a failure to live up to our core values. We profoundly regret, and apologize for, the behavior and consequences that ensued.” Listing adopted and proposed strategies to prevent the possibility of a recurrence of such abhorrent ethics violations, Kaslow also admitted, “This bleak chapter in our history occurred over a period of years and will not be resolved in a matter of months.”

Resolved? For whom, exactly? PHR has called for the APA to change its policies for a full decade now—and has pleaded for a federal investigation for at least as long.

Despite the execrable abuses in the CIA torture report—the entirety of which hasn’t even been fully disclosed—one simple, and utterly indefensible, fact overshadows every new revelation.

Something that appears to be a minutiae from the torture report is, in actuality, a glaringly tragic prediction. One interrogator told a detainee that he would never go to court because, he explained, “we can never let the world know what I have done to you.”

But we do know. The entire planet knows.

And all those who suffered or died, enduring unspeakably heinous crimes at the behest of the U.S. government—know.

Yet no onenot a single personhas ever even been charged for their crimes.

Posted in Human Rights, USA0 Comments

Top 5 Chemical Weapon Tests The British Conducted On Their Own People

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chem1

By Stuart J. Hooper

How anyone could have ever thought any of this was a good idea is simply unconscionable. 

Unfortunately, this article is not satirical. Instead, it documents five, historically factual cases where the British Government thought it would be a great idea to test chemical and biological weapons upon their own people during the Cold War.

1) Zinc Cadmium Sulphide Dispersal

Between 1953 and 1964 around 4600 kilos of zinc cadmium sulphide was dispersed from ships, trucks and airplanes. Scientists knew the chemical concoction had a ‘largely unknown toxic potential’, yet still conducted the experiment around Salisbury in Wiltshire, Cardington in Bedfordshire and Norwich in Norfolk. It was also dispersed across areas of the North Sea and English Channel, where the extent of its effects are entirely unknown. Today, we understand zinc cadmium sulphide to be carcinogenic.

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Photo Credit: Ronoldson Slim

2) Bacillus Globigii Dispersal in London’s Subway System

To find out whether the long distance traversal of aerosols through London’s tube system was done through the ventilation system or on board the trains, scientists released the bacteria Bacillus Globigii into the subway system. While some scientists are documented as having reservations about the experiment, it is unknown whether or not any adequate, if any, testing was done on the effects of the bacteria before its release. Today, we know it causes food poisoning, eye infections, and septicaemia.

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Photo Credit: Ernest Sealing

3) Black Death Released Off Scottish Coast

Live plague bacteria were released just a few miles from the Isle of Lewis, an island that several thousand people called home. The experiment was thought to be safe as the prevailing wind should have blown the bacteria out to sea, however if the wind were to change direction thousands of innocent lives would have been at risk. It is well documented that at least one fishing vessel travelled through the plague cloud. We need not expand upon the effects of the plague.

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Photo Credit: Michael B. Watkins

4) Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Experiment in The Bahamas

The case of the fishing vessel becoming an unwilling participant in a plague field test meant that future chemical and biological tests were conducted further afield, where scientists knew of areas ‘without restrictions’. British overseas territories (AKA colonies or occupied lands), like the Bahamas, were the new playground. Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis was released near an uninhabited island in the Bahamas by scientists, despite the fact it can cause high fever, long term fatigue, headaches and occasionally death if it were to reach populated shores.

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Photo Credit: Caycee Cook

5) Experimental Nerve Gas Dispersal in Nigeria

In Obanaghoro, located in the South of British-occupied Nigeria, scientists spent over a year dispersing experimental nerve agents. The tropical environment was key to what the scientists were trying to test in relation to these particular agents. Again, the extent to which this nerve gas affected local populations and even employed locals, working as a part of the project, is entirely unknown. Sarin is known to have been tested here, which causes loss of bodily function and usually death, while those who survive are likely to suffer brain damage and psychiatric disorders.

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Photo Credit: Wikicommons

Conclusion

Ulf Schmidt, Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent who carried out the research exposing all of these cases, said: ‘the government records I’ve been looking at are conspicuously silent on all this’. He went on to say that ‘officials had clearly good reasons as to why the kind of experiments undertaken in Nigeria were strictly prohibited on the British mainland’.

Schmidt’s work has also found that 30,000 secret chemical warfare experiments were carried out between 1945-1989 on more than 14,000 ‘volunteer’ British soldiers. He believes that most of the soldiers were never given enough information to give informed consent. All of these findings and more can be found in the professor’s new book, Secret Science.

Do you believe similar, deadly experiments are still going today?

Follow Stuart J. Hooper here: http://twitter.com/StuartJHooper

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How the British Government subjected thousands of people to chemical and biological warfare trials during Cold War

The Independent

During the Cold War, the British Government used the general public as unwitting biological and chemical warfare guinea pigs on a much greater scale than previously thought, according to new historical research.

In more than 750 secret operations, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Britons were subjected to ‘mock’ biological and chemical warfare attacks launched from aircraft, ships and road vehicles.

Up until now historians had thought that such operations had been much less extensive. The new research, carried out by Ulf Schmidt, Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent, has revealed that British military aircraft dropped thousands of kilos of a chemical of ‘largely unknown toxic potential’ on British civilian populations in and around Salisbury in Wiltshire, Cardington in Bedfordshire and Norwich in Norfolk.

Continue reading the full story on The Independent

Posted in Human Rights, UK0 Comments

UN Gaza Report Part II

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

I$raHell Counterinsuurgency Apologist: Colonel Richard Kemp

by Richard Falk

Retired British colonel, Richard Kemp, has been an ardent supporter of Israel’s three major military operations in Gaza conducted over the last six

years. He has collaborated on several occasions with the two notoriously pro-Israeli NGOs, UN Watch and NGO Monitor, serving on the Advisory Board of the latter and appearing as star witness under such auspices at the UN, most recently at a two-day side event at UN Headquarters in Geneva devoted to condemning the UN Commission of Inquiry Report on the Gaza War of 2014.

There is no doubt that Col. Kemp has the credentials to speak as a counterinsurgency specialist, having served as commander of British forces

in Afghanistan and elsewhere, where he acknowledges close cooperation with Mossad and the influence of Israeli tactics. In fairness, Kemp writes from such a militarist view with little effort to assess the relevance of international humanitarian law, treating ‘military effectiveness’ as determined by military commanders as the defining criterion of legality for a challenged battlefield practice. In his own words, “[i]t’s the dispassionate military perspective that I bring.” Of course, such an outlook ignores the relevance of international criminal law, which is to superimpose accountability as a constraining framework on this ‘military perspective.’ Actually, Kemp doesn’t so much ignore international criminal law as to (mis)interpret its rules so as to vindicate the tactics of the counterinsurgent side while condemning those of the insurgent.

On June 25, 2015 the New York Times published an opinion piece by Kemp assessing the UN Report. What I find scandalous and perverse on the part of this self-claiming authoritative media source, is to publish such a harsh and partisan dismissal of a prudent and overly balanced report without any kind of offsetting piece. I can only imagine the furor that would have been provoked if the NYT had published a piece by an expert in international criminal law, say William Schabas or John Dugard, calling for the indictment and prosecution of Israel’s political and military leaders on the basis of the Report. At least, if such a piece had been published alongside the Kemp article, NYT readers could have been exposed to the realities of controversy flowing from these UN allegations that Israel (and to a far lesser extent, Hamas) was guilty of war crimes.

Kemp begins his article with the claim that “..it pains me greatly to see words and actions from the UN that can only provoke further violence and loss of life.” As is ‘law’ imposed on the powerful and not their weaponry is responsible for violence and the loss of life in Gaza. We are not told exactly why reaches this perverse conclusion, but presumably Kemp believes that the condemnation of Israel’s use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force would embolden Hamas, and Palestinians generally, to continue to claim a right of resistance. What Kemp (and Israel) obviously seek is a circumstance in which whatever the dominant military forces do is validated by its effectiveness and what a population under domination does in opposition is condemned with the implication that resistance to Israel’s prolonged occupation is inherently unlawful.

Kemp’s puff piece is filled with bland endorsements of Israel’s most blatant propaganda. For instance, Kemp asserts, in complete disregard of the evidence, that Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza “only in response to attacks by Hamas.” While it is common knowledge, even in Israel, that the blockade has been maintained since 2007 as a ‘collective punishment’ imposed on the civilian population of Gaza, having little to do with security, which was mainly sustained by way of rigorous monitoring of all crossings to and from Gaza, and with Egypt’s cooperation at Rafah during the Mubarak era and since Sisi’s ascent. Kemp has nothing to say about Israel’s frequent lethal incursions into Gaza that have accompanied the occupation since it started in 1967, and he uncritically supports Israel’s distorted one-sided timeline that claims Israel only attacks in retaliation for missiles and mortar fire from Hamas, and never initiates violent interactions by on its own. Kemp also never refers to the ceasefires broken by Israel, as in the leadup to Operation Cast Lead at the end of 2008. Instead, as Kemp has written elsewhere of this earlier brutal attack on a vulnerable, cage population, “I can only say this: during Operation Cast Lead, the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in the combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

Most disturbingly, Kemp writes in a condescending manner as follows: “The report is characterized by a lack of understanding of warfare,” as revealed by its failure to compare what Israel is doing with what the U.S. and Britain have done in Afghanistan, Iraq. In Kemp’s words, Israeli tactics are no different than those used extensively by American and British forces in similar circumstances.” What is most dangerous about this counterinsurgency worldview is its implicit reasoning that allows such conclusions to be set forth in good faith by professional soldiers. To begin with, Kemp is essentially correct that the counterinsurgency wars waged by the U.S. and Britain have relied on similar tactics, but does that make Israel’s pattern consistent with international law and morality? Most international law assessments of these uses of modern weaponry against densely populated civilian areas consider such tactics to be severe war crimes, not models to be invoked as validation.

Kemp’s state of play is revealed here: converting past crimes into authoritative precedents to justify present crimes, or to transform crimes into legitimate counterinsurgency tactics.

Beyond this, Israel’s tactics are worse in some instances than those of its predecessors. Whereas in Vietnam, the United States used its far less precise air power to inflict heavy casualties on the Vietnamese civilian population it refrained from attacking urban population centers as Israel did in the Gaza attack of 2014, as well as the earlier ones. Even in Falluja, the worst instance of American firepower directed at a city believed to be a center of insurgent opposition in Iraq to American occupation, the population was given ample time to vacate the city after warnings of impending attack. In contrast, except for the 800 Palestinians that held foreign passports who were allowed to leave Gaza, the remainder of the civilian population in Gaza was locked into the combat zone, losing even the desperate option of fleeing to safety by becoming a refugee. Col. Kemp, invoking his counterinsurgency experience and knowledge, never sees fit to mention such a damning ‘detail.’

Nor does he bother to point out that the whole of Gaza was a combat zone, and that civilians, including women and children, had no place of sanctuary and safety, other than to seek refuge in UN facilities and mosques, which then were turned into targets because of Israeli claims that weapons were stored in these places.

Parroting the worst elements of Israeli hasbara, Kemp sets forth this grotesque characterization of Hamas tactics: “Unable to inflict existential harm on Israel by military means, Hamas sought to cause large numbers of casualties among its own people in order to bring condemnation and unbearable diplomatic pressure against Israel.” To make such an extreme allegation without bothering to cite evidence is to portray Hamas as seeking the genocidal annihilation of its own people. This is an odd accusation in view of the evidence that Hamas became gained more popular support from the Gazan population after this Israeli attack than before, presumably because of its steadfastness under the most severe of pressures. Also, Kemp withholds comments on the repeated and strenuous efforts of Hamas to seek the renewal of the ceasefire prior to the initiation of the Israel onslaught in early July of 2014.

In effect, Kemp is appraising Israel’s behavior on the basis of the ‘new normal’ prevailing among counterinsurgency hawks that have led the West into war after war in its futile effort to defer the death of European colonialism, and its American sequel. What is done by the West is justified by military effectiveness (although without noticing that these wars have all been eventually lost), what is done by the forces of national resistance is criminalized if not demonized as ‘barbarism.’

It is not surprising that UN Watch and NGO Monitor organized an elaborate side event at the Palais des Nations in Geneva last week that featured Richard Kemp as its lead speakers, but included an array of other counterinsurgency specialists, with no attempt whatsoever to bring to bear the perspectives of international humanitarian law except in the spirit of Israeli apologetics. For description of this event held on June 29-30 see the home pages of either UN Watch or NGO Monitor. It is notable that unlike the response to the Goldstone Report in 2009 that featured denunciations of bias and personal attacks, the orchestrated reaction to COI report is more sophisticated, relying on a variety of substantive reports that set forth Israel’s claims of justification, a media blitz, along with major advocacy efforts by Israel’s well-trained NGO poodles.

A welcome contrasting vision, closer to law, morality, and reality is offered by Max Blumenthal in his new book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza (2015). David Swanson, the noted anti-war activist, titles his review of Blumenthal’s book, “the 51-day Genocide” <http//davidswanson.org/node/4815> As Swanson puts it in his review of the book, “I can think of a few other words that characterized the 2014 assault on Gaza in addition to ‘war,’ among them, occupation, murder-spree, and genocide. Each serves a valuable purpose. Each is correct.”

 

Posted in Gaza, Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off

From the Children of Palestine to the Secretary General of the United Nations

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My name is Mohammad Abu Khdeir

Martyr Mohammad Abu Khdeir. Source: google images

I lived with my family in Shufat in occupied Jerusalem, and had 5 siblings. I loved playing, participating in social occasions, be it weddings or feasts. I loved dancing the dabke, which is a Palestinian traditional dance, and was member in a local dabke troupe. I loved birds, loved watching them sing, but could never own one because it meant caging them. I hoped one day to be free like a bird, and go places and travel. I was a pupil at a technical school, and studied to be an electrician, just like my father, to help him in supporting our family one day. I loved Ramadan; loved to go to the nearby mosque and pray there, to have Iftar (breaking the fast) with my family and friends, and to spend the evening with my friends laughing and joking. I loved to go to the mosque at dawn for morning prayer, to have that last drink of water before the fasting starts, and to help my father at his workshop. Because of my training as electrician, in the summer of 2014, I helped decorate the neighbourhood with lights in preparation for Ramadan.

Martyr Mohammad Abu Khdeir. Source: google images

Martyr Mohammad Abu Khdeir. Source: google images

On the early morning of 02.07.2014, at 4 am, I had something to eat for the suhur, drank some water before sunrise and the beginning of the fasting time. I told my mom that I was heading to the neighbouring mosque for the morning prayer. It was Ramadan, the month of forgiveness and compassion, the month of mercy for all living creatures. I sat on the steps of the nearby supermarket, drank some water before the fasting starts. As I made my way to the mosque, a car stopped near me, Zionist colonists were sitting inside, two came out and asked me about directions, I answered them, then suddenly they grabbed me and pushed me into the car, I started shouting, but the car speeded leaving the place. Three young Palestinian men nearby heard me shouting, they tried to follow the car, but the car just speeded away. As the car moved, the Zionists sitting in the car beat me, kicked me, humiliated me and threatened me with death. I fainted. When we finally stopped moving, they kicked me out of the car. I was bruised and hurting, I was afraid, I wanted to scream: Mother! Father! And while they continued beating me and kicking me everywhere on my body, I could see bushes and trees, it was the forest near Deir Yaisn. I shouted, I screamed, I called for help, but no one came. I thought of my parents, I saw the face of my mother, that of my father, my five siblings, my friends. They pushed me around, kicked me, beat me with some iron rod, they tortured me, the three of them, while they were laughing. They humiliated me, and stabbed me several times. Then they brought gasoline and poured it all over me while they were laughing and kicking me. They kept saying that they will kill me, that they will kill the Arab. One of them told the other Zionists to make sure that I was dead because “these Arabs have 7 souls”! I was scared, tears fell down my face, I called for my mother… I called and called. And then, they set me on fire… and they watched, laughing, as I suffered, as I screamed for my mother, as I screamed for my father, as I screamed to God, as I fell to the ground, as I said goodbye to this unjust world… they watched and they laughed…..

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Mohammad Abu Khdeir, I was 16 years old when Zionist colonists, who are fully-armed and live in illegal colonies built on Palestinian land, kidnapped me from my neighbourhood.
My name is Mohammad Abu Khdeir I was 16 years old, when Zionist colonists, who are given a green light by the Zionist entity to kill us and have impunity for all their crimes against Palestinians, tortured me.
My name is Mohammad Abu Khdeir I was 16 years old, when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, burned me alive.

My name is Zakariya Bakir
My name is Ahid Bakir
My name is Ismail Bakir
My name is Mohammad Bakir

Martyrs of the Bakir Family. Source: google images

Martyrs of the Bakir Family. Source: google images

We were children, sons of fishermen; kind and simple people. We grew up near the sea, making our livelihood from the sea. We used to wake up early in the morning, watch our fathers and older brothers go to their boats before the sun shines, watch our mothers repair the nets while watching the sea and waiting for the boats to return. We loved school, we loved to play, but loved the sea more, and waited for the time when we too would take our boats into the deep blue waters of the Palestine. We went everyday to the beach, we loved to run there, to jump into the water, to sit in the evening and watch the sun sink into the sea. We loved to watch the white waves dancing over the blue sea, and imagine that there was no siege, that there was no occupation, that Palestine was free. We loved to watch the birds flying over the water, disappearing into the distance, and would would we could fly with them, fly over Akka and Haifa, over Nazareth and Safad, to reach Jerusalem and land in Al-Aqsa. The sea was our companion and our friend. Sometimes, our mothers would prepare tea and coffee in thermoses, and after school, we would go to the beach and sell people something to drink. During the summer of 2014, the Zionist entity launched a brutal military aggression on besieged Gaza. It was the third large-scale aggression that we witnessed in our young age… Imagine, 10 years old and to have lived three brutal attacks by a terrorist entity that has the most sophisticated weapons. They used all the weapons they had against us; they used their warplanes, their tanks, their gunboats. They bombed our homes, our schools, our hospitals. It was Ramadan, and we were fasting, but it didn’t feel like Ramadan. Instead of playing all day, we were hiding from F16 and drones and bombs. Instead of sitting laughing with the family at Iftar time, we would sit and watch the news, and see the gruesome pictures of Palestinian children killed by Israeli bombs. They were not from another country or another continent; they were here, close by. As we watched these pictures, our parents angry, sad, bewildered and afraid for us, we too were afraid and wondered if our time will come, if we will survive the night, if we will live to see the Eid.

Martyrs of the Bakir Family. Source: google images

Martyrs of the Bakir Family. Source: google images

On 17.07.2014, we were fasting and had nothing to do. It was a hot day, so we decided to go and play football, to run on the beach, like we usually did, to run under the sun, our feet touch the golden hot sand as we kick the ball from one place to another. We were laughing, happy and for a moment forgot all the bombs, the tanks, the warplanes and the gunboats…..But the killers were watching; with their hi-tech binoculars they saw our laughter, they saw us running, happy, playing football, they saw our childish innocence…. one missile was fired; a loud explosion, one of us fell, we started screaming and running away in fear and horror…. We had no time to look behind us, to look for each other…. We were running, screaming, we didn’t feel the sun burning under our small feet, we didn’t heard the birds shouting at us to run, run…. We didn’t see the waves struggling to reach us and protect us from the killers…. We were running, screaming, we were afraid…. They saw us running, little children, scared…. The second and third and the fourth missiles fell….. the sand under our feet became cold, the birds in the sky started crying, the waves turned into tears…

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Ahid Bakir, I was 10 years old when Israeli gunboats killed me while playing football on the beach.
My name is Mohammad Bakir, I was 11 years old when Israeli gunboats fired first one missile, then another then a third and a fourth at a group of children playing and laughing.
My name is Ismail Bakir, I was 9 years old when Israeli occupation soldiers killed me in cold blood on the beach of Gaza.
My name is Zakariya Bakir, I was 10 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me and my cousins.

My name is Mohammad Al-Durra

Martyr Mohammad Al-Dura. Source: google images

Martyr Mohammad Al-Dura. Source: google images

I was born in Bureij refugee camp in the besieged Gaza Strip. My family comes originally from a beautiful Palestinian city called Al-Lyd, but the Zionist terrorist gangs expelled us from our homes in 1948. I lived in an over-crowded refugee camp in a 50 m2 house with my parents and 6 siblings. I loved football, and loved my fluffy teddy bear; it is brown and small and I used to hug it before going to sleep. My teddy bear protected me from the Israeli occupation soldiers whenever they entered the refugee camp to arrest our neighbours, it calmed me down and sang to me. I felt safe with my teddy bear hugging me. I went to the fifth grade, but, I have to say, I was a little bit naughty; I loved to play with the children in my neighbourhood, and I loved the sea, I would sneak out of class and go play football at the beach. Oh, how much I loved the sea of Gaza! I also loved to cycle, and every day, I fought with my older brother over who gets to ride the only bicycle we had. My dad used to get mad at me; he was afraid something might happen to me because I used to take the bicycle and go cycling in the main street of the refugee camp. He was afraid the occupation soldiers might do something to me, might hurt me or arrest me. So, whenever he prevented me from cycling in the street, I used to sneak the bicycle from the window and go to play in the street. But alas! When at the end of the year I didn’t do well at school, my mother was sad, so I promised her to study hard the next year. I loved to help my dad, and wanted to support my family. During the summer, I used to work with my uncles in a metal workshop to gains some money and help my parents.

Martyr Mohammad Al-Dura. Source: google images

Martyr Mohammad Al-Dura. Source: google images

On 30.09.2000, I asked my mother to help me with my homework, I had promised her to study hard and I wanted her to be happy. My father wanted to go and buy a car instead of the old one we sold. He wanted to buy a small car, not a fancy one, we couldn’t afford a fancy one, but we were all happy and excited. I asked my mother if I could go with dad and ride with him in the new car. She said yes and I wore my nice clothes, the ones I kept for special occasions, it was after all a special occasion. My dad and I took a taxi to Gaza car market, but when we reached the Martyrs circle, we saw unarmed protesters confronting the fully-armed Israeli occupation soldiers. The taxi driver was not able to pass the road, so we got out of the taxi, and decided to turn back home. Dad held my hand and we tried to pass to the other side of the road, when all of a sudden, the Israeli army observation tower started shooting at us. Immediately, dad dragged me to a barrel on the side of the road, we hid behind it…. he hugged me, but the shooting from the Israeli army tower increased. I was scared and started crying and shouting, I could hear dad shouting at the Israeli occupation soldiers to stop, but they didn’t, he raised his hands and waived to them, but an Israeli soldier shot his hand. Dad called someone from his mobile, and asked them to send a car to take us away because we couldn’t leave our place because of the shooting. We could hear the sirens of an ambulance, but the occupation soldiers started shooting at it. The unarmed protesters were shouting at us, they wanted to help us but no one could do anything because the occupation soldiers were shooting at us all the time. My dad was shot in the other hand and was bleeding. I started comforting him, but I was very scared and I was crying. I told dad: “Don’t worry dad, I am fine, don’t worry dad”. I stuck closer to him, and then I felt a hot stinging pain in my leg. My dad started shouting and crying when he saw the blood on my trousers, I told him: “Don’t worry papa, the blood hit my leg, it’s not that bad, just hide yourself and be safe”… he was shouting and waiving and I felt another sharp pain, I told him: “Don’t worry, I am strong, I can take the pain until the ambulance comes”…. The ambulance never came… the Israeli soldiers prevented it from coming to help us…

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Mohammad Al-Durra, I was 12 years old when Israeli occupation soldiers killed me, and made my mother cry…. my mother still keeps my photos, my books, my clothes…. at night she hugs them and cries, every night she cries.
My name is Mohammad Al-Durra, I was 12 years old when Israeli occupation snipers deliberately shot at me and my father, killing me while he hugged me, trying to protect me.
My name is Mohammad Al-Durra, I was 12 years old when Israeli occupation soldiers fired at me, not once, not twice, but several times, killing me and took me away from my siblings… my 7 year-old brother Ahmad tells everyone that I am in heaven playing with the birds and that he wants to join me…. My 4 year-old sister Basma says that she loved me more than she loved the sea and that when she is older she wants to come to me.
My name is Mohammad Al-Durra, I was 12 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me.

My name is Faris Odeh

Martyr Faris Odeh. Source: google images

Martyr Faris Odeh. Source: google images

I was born in Shuja’iya in Gaza and have 8 siblings. I was very energetic and loved so many things; I loved playing and loved sports, I loved singing, for I was a good singer. I memorized all songs of the Intifada, and my favourite song was: “If they break my bones, I am not afraid… if they demolish the house, I am not afraid”. I used to sing it often with my younger brother Issa. I loved to dance, loved the Palestinian dabke. I loved to eat a lot, my favourite dish was spinach, yes, I loved spinach. I wanted to be strong. I was always happy and laughing, naughty, but always happy, jumping and running….. We lived in Salah Idin street. When protests would take place in the street, the Israeli occupation soldiers used to come to our house and beat my farther and mothers and siblings and throw the burning tyres into our house, so we moved to another area. One time, in our street, an Israeli occupation soldier shouted at me to go home, I picked up a stone and told him:”You go home, this is my land!” I was very courageous, loved to jump from high places, and never was afraid to go out in the dark to buy needs for my parents. I used to sit at the window and listen to the Israeli occupation soldiers shooting and would start naming the type of bullet they were shooting. I could recognise them all. I was very clever at school, and always had very high grades, although I didn’t study much, I was clever. But when the Intifada started, I stopped going to school, I would attend the first 3 classes and then leave to join the protests at Al-Muntar, and I used to join the shabab and protest against the occupation, our weapon was small stones against the huge tanks… One time, the school principal told my mother about me. She was very angry. But I used to see Israeli soldiers killing Palestinian children and men and women on TV, and it made me angry, no one helped us. And when my mother would come and drag me from Al-Muntar, she would beg me not to go there again, I would tell her that the Zionists want to take Al-Alqsa. She would say: “Leave the defence of Al-Aqsa to the older ones, you are small”. But I am not small, the older ones are doing nothing! She would tell my dad and he would beat me. One evening, my mother saw me on TV standing in front of an Israeli tank, she was very angry, afraid, and started crying; she begged me not to go, and told me that if I ever repeated this she would tell my father and he would beat me and deprive me of my pocket money. They were afraid for me, they were afraid the Israeli soldiers might kill me, because the Israeli army did not care whether you are a child or a grown up, they just shot you, even if you had a small stone, they would also shoot you for no reason. Sometimes, dad would beat me and lock me in a room to prevent me from going, but I would escape from the window. I used to go every day, this is our land and the Israeli soldiers should leave! I used to sneak to Al-Muntar every day, I used to stand in front of the Israeli tank and sing my favourite song: ““If they break my bones, I am not afraid… if they demolish the house, I am not afraid”, and I used to dance dakbe while singing. Despite everything, I was always happy, jumping, singing…. until the day my cousin Shadi was killed by the Israeli occupation soldiers…. I was sad and angry.

Martyr Faris Odeh. Source: google images

Martyr Faris Odeh. Source: google images

On 08.11.2000, I woke up early. I had dreamt of Shadi. When I told mom, she begged me not to go to Al-Muntar, and said that a stone does nothing in the face of a tank. I replied that a stone rocks them… But, I promised her to go to school, which I did. But later, I sneaked out of class and I went to Al-Muntar carrying my sling. Young unarmed protesters were throwing stones at the Israeli tanks. I threw a stone, another…. my shoe slipped, I bent down to wear my shoe and felt something sting me in my neck…. blood was streaming…. my friends ran to me as I fell to the ground, but the Israeli soldiers started shooting at them, they ran away. I was left there on the ground, looking at the sky, the blue sky of Palestine, singing my favourite song….

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Faris Odeh, I was 14 years old when Israeli occupation soldiers shot me, prevented anyone from saving me, and kept shooting at anyone coming close to me for one hour… they let me bleed to death.
My name is Faris Odeh, I was 14 years old when Israeli occupation soldiers killed me, and I was brought back home to my mother on the shoulders, a bullet type 500 cut most of the veins of my neck.
My name is Faris Odeh, I was 14 years old when Israeli terrorists killed me and snatched me from my family… When my family gathers for dinner, they leave an empty place for me…. Every morning, my mother watches the children go to school, she waits every day when they come home, hoping that I will come home with them, my brother sings my favourite song alone, but he can’t finish it because he starts crying.
My name is Faris Odeh, I was 14 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me.

My name is Inas Shawkat Dar Khalil

Martyr Inas Shawkat. Source: google images

Martyr Inas Shawkat. Source: google images

I was a beautiful little girl from a beautiful villages called Sinjil near Ramallah, I loved to play with my dolls, but had one favourite doll that escorted me everywhere I went. I loved to visit my friend Toleen, who lives nearby. We were best friends and always together. I love to draw a lot, and I could spell the alphabet and count till 50. The teacher said that I was clever and often gave me a star on my copybook, and sometimes she gave me a piece of chocolate when my drawing copybook was neat and tidy. Every morning, mom would wake me up, wash my face and comb my hair, and I would sing to her: “Continue missing me while I am away”. When school started, I asked mom for a new bag, new colouring books and new dresses. She loved me so much, she got me 20 dresses! She got me 20 new dresses, new colouring books and colouring pencils. I wanted to go to university when I grow up, so every day, when I come back home from kindergarten, I do my homework. Mom would tell me: “Dear, get a rest first”, but I would refuse, I wanted to do my homework, I wanted to be clever and go to university when I grow up.

Martyr Inas Shawkat. Source: google images

Martyr Inas Shawkat. Source: google images

On 19.10.2014, mom woke me up to go to kindergarten; I was sleepy and didn’t want to go, I had a beautiful dream. I took my doll with me, I always took her with me to school, she would sit on my desk and repeat the alphabet with me, sing with me or hold my colouring pencils while I drew. My friend Toleen came, and like every day, our mothers walked with us to the street until the school bus came and took us. I waved goodbye to my mother. At the kindergarten, we played, sang and I volunteered to tidy the classroom. The teacher was very pleased with me. We went back home with the school bus. It stopped at the entrance to our village, and I could see my mom and Toleen’s mother waiting for us like every day on the other side of the road. They came every day at 12: 40 to the village entrance and waited for the kindergarten bus. Before crossing the road, we looked right and left, as mom used to tell us. She would say over and over: “Be careful before you cross the road and watch out for the cars”. My mother was standing on the other side of the road waiting to hug me. We started crossing the road, a car was coming, mom shouted at us to stop. She then waved to the Zionist colonist to stop. He slowed down, he could see clearly, the road was empty and as we crossed, all of a sudden he speeded up, swerved and drove speedily in our direction. Suddenly, I was thrown up in the air and fell hard on the ground. I tried to stand up, but was feeling sleepy, so I fell on the ground… My doll and my colouring pencils in my bag scattered everywhere. I heard mom shout, I wanted to reach out to her, but I couldn’t. I was sleepy. I felt her hug me. I wanted to comfort her, to tell her not to cry. I wanted to hug her, but I was sleepy… She hugged me and I slept.

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Inas Shawkat Dar Khalil, I was 5 years old when Israel killed me and left my mom sad… she thinks of me all day long and dreams of me all night long… she regrets sending me to school that fateful day….. Please tell her not to be sad.
My name is Inas Shawkat Dar Khalil, I was 5 years old when a Zionist colonist deliberately ran me over and broke my mother’s heart….. I used to fall asleep in my mother’s lap, now she is alone, now she is sad…. now she sleeps hugging my dress.
My name is Inas Shawkat Dar Khalil, I was 5 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me.

My name is Mohammad Ismail Nassar

Martyr Mohammad Nassar. Source: google images

Martyr Mohammad Nassar. Source: google images

I lived in Dahiyet Al-Barid in occupied Jerusalem with my family. I loved going to school, and was a clever pupil, I among the best in my class. I also loved to draw, and my parents and my art teacher said that I was talented. Friday 06.03.2001, was a holiday, so in the afternoon, and after I did my homework, I went to play football with my friends in the nearby playground. When it got dark, my friends and I parted to go to our homes. On that Friday, my parents waited and waited for me, but I never made it back home alive; On that Friday, as the sun was setting, as some were sitting around the dinner table, or gathered around the TV, or on their way back home from visiting friends, I made my way back to my home. Then suddenly, zionist colonists from the nearby colony of Neve Yaakov appeared out of nowhere… they kidnapped me, dragged me to the colony… they tried to cut my wrist, they wanted me to bleed to death… but that was too quite a death for their enjoyment… so they beat me with rocks on my head, my chest and my back… they tortured me… I screamed and screamed, I screamed for my parents, I begged the zionists to stop, I screamed as they crushed my skull with stones…. they killed me…. my family and friends and neighbours spent the whole night looking for me… they even asked for support from the occupation police, which refused to help in the search…. My family continued the search for me the next day. In the afternoon of 17.03.2001 they found me…. they found me dead…. they found me in the bushes among the rocks about 20 meters away from the Jewish religious school in Neve Yaakov… my body bore marks of brutal torture and beating with rocks on my head which was shattered, and the presence of bruises on my back and chest and feet and cuts with a sharp object in the right wrist…. two of the kippas and four white gloves worn by my killers were found near my body, but the Israeli occupation police refused to investigate what had happened to me…

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Mohammad Ismail Nassar, I was 10 years old when Zionist colonists kidnapped me, tortured me and killed me.
My name is Mohammad Ismail Nassar, I was 10 years old when Israel refused to investigate my death and let my killers escape justice.
My name is Mohammad Ismail Nassar, I was 10 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me.

My name is Iman Al-Humus

Martyr Iman Al-Humus. Source: google images

Martyr Iman Al-Humus. Source: google images

I was a little school girl, clever and energetic. I used to watch on TV the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation army, and it always made me cry. On the early morning of 05.10.2004, I was on my way to school with two of my friends and classmates. Suddenly, Israeli occupation soldiers started shooting at us from the observation tower. We were very scared, and ran in different directions to escape the bullets; I ran in the direction of Israeli military site where two bulldozers stood. The Israeli soldiers started shooting in my direction, I fell to the ground, was very scared and crying, I did not know what to do. One Israeli tank came out of the site and Israeli soldiers demanded in loud speakers that I take off my bag and put it on the ground… the minute I did that, there was intensive shooting in my direction, I fell back… one occupation soldier came out of the tank, stood 10 meters away from me…. He saw that I was a school girl, he saw that my bag had nothing but my books and copybooks, he saw that I was hit and bleeding, he saw that I was scared and crying… he shot 2 bullets at me, went back a little bit, and emptied his M-16 in my body. 20 bullets hit me all over my body, especially the head and chest areas. I was dead on the spot… then the soldiers surrounded me, and prevented anyone from reaching me.

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Iman Al-Humus, I was 13 years old when an Israeli occupation officer from Giv’ati unit killed me and afterwards mutilated my body.
My name is Iman Al-Humus, I was 13 years old when Israel cleared my killer despite the evidence and the testimonies. My killer was “tried” on charges of “killing a child” in front of a Zionist military court, but was cleared, released and ordered to return to the military service. He was only accused of “the use of weapon in a manner contrary to the orders of firing”.
My name is Iman Al-Humus, I was 13 years old when Israel tried to cover up the crime committed against me by its terrorist army. The crime was exposed only after some Israeli soldiers told Israeli newspapers about the incident, because “their conscience did not take what had happened”. In their testimonies, the Israeli occupation soldiers said they saw that I was but a school girl, and that while some refused to shoot at me, others did.
My name is Iman Al-Humus, I was 13 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me.

My name is Mohammad Salaymeh

Martyr Mohammad Salaymeh. Source: google images

Martyr Mohammad Salaymeh. Source: google images

On 12.12.2012, it was my birthday. My classmates and I celebrated during classes, we bought a cake and biscuits and chocolate. Everyone was happy, and wished me success and happiness. I was looking forward to return home and celebrate my birthday with my family. That evening, my family gathered, they all wanted to celebrate my birthday with me, everyone was present except my eldest brother Awad who was freed from Israeli captivity through the prisoners exchange swap and is now residing in besieged Gaza. Being the youngest in the family, I told them I will get the cake. While on my way to the shop to buy my birthday cake, I passed an Israeli checkpoint in the old city of Hebron, and all of a sudden, without reason or warning, an Israeli occupation soldier shot me from distance zero in the chest and stomach… 6 times they shot at me, for no reason. I fell to the ground, bleeding. Some people came after they heard the shots, they tried to come close and help me, but the soldiers prevented them. I was left there, bleeding…. When my father came and tried to reach me, shouting and calling my name, they beat him, and prevented him from coming to coming close to me, from hugging me one last time. A doctor living nearby came and tried to save my life, but the soldiers refused to let him, women came, journalists came… they were all prevented from reaching me with threats of fire … and all this time, I was left on the ground to bleed to death, thinking that a birthday was meant to be a celebration of life, thinking of my mother, thinking of my siblings, hearing the screams of my father, hearing him beg the soldiers to allow him to hug me, hearing the screams of the people, begging the soldiers to allow the doctor to help me…. and when finally, after the residents fought with the occupation soldiers, the doctor was allowed to come to me, but I was already dead….

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Mohammad Salaymeh, I was 16 years old when Israel killed me on my 16th birthday when I went to buy a birthday cake.
My name is Mohammad Salaymeh, I was 16 years old when the Israeli occupation army killed me and rewarded my killer with a distinction because she “dealt successfully with the situation”.
My name is Mohammad Salaymeh, I was 16 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me.

My name is Fahmi Al-Darduk

Martyr Fahmi Al-Darduk. Source: google images

Martyr Fahmi Al-Darduk. Source: google images

I was living in Nablus with my parents and my three sisters. I was a pupil in the ninth grade, and on the weekend I used to help my father in a bakery to support our family. I was full of life, loved to play sports and to listen to music. On 19.05.2008, I was on my way to visit friends in Ramallah. I waited in line for the check at the Huwara military checkpoint. I had earphones on and was listening to music from my mobile phone. One minute I was listening to music, thinking of the good time I was going to spend with my friends…. The next, I fell to the ground…. They shot me… they shot me several times at the same time… at least six bullets hit me in the head and the chest. They riddled my body with bullets. Despite people’s pleading that I be treated, the Israeli soldiers refused to let the medics reach me, left me lying on the ground for two and a half hours and watched as I bled to death. And while they left me to die a slow death, the Israeli army closed the checkpoint and forced all Palestinians there to leave by throwing tear gas and concussion grenades at them. Afterwards, they started washing away the blood with water jets. They wanted to clean the scene of the crime, and wash away all traces of the murder they committed, and keep away any possible witnesses. They allowed the ambulance to reach me, only after they made sure I was dead.

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Fahmi Al-Darduk, I was 15 years old when Israeli occupation soldiers killed me, and because of my young age, as I didn’t have an ID yet, my parents didn’t know I was killed until the next day.
My name is Fahmi Al-Darduk, I was 15 years old when Israeli occupation soldiers killed me, and the killers claimed I had a pipe bomb and an explosive belt on my body. Nonetheless, despite the many bullets that hit my young body, no “explosives” blew up.
My name is Fahmi Al-Darduk, I was 15 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me.

My name is Aya Najjar

Martyr Aya Najjar. Source: google images

Martyr Aya Najjar. Source: google images

I am from Khuza’a in besieged Gaza. I loved school, and was very clever. I loved to play with my friends. During the summer of 2008, school was over and I had finished second grade. I was very happy; I was the best in my class, and the teacher gave me a reward and a certificate to show my parents. Mom and dad were very happy for me. I was looking forward to the summer vacation. On the early afternoon of 05.06.2008, I was playing outside my home, in wait for my school friends to come for a visit. I was playing between the trees, and I could hear Israeli drones and war planes in the sky. I hated the Israeli soldiers, they occupy our land, they bombed our homes and schools, and they killed my brother Zaki. My mom was sitting inside, looking out the window every now and then, looking at the warplanes with worry on her face. No one was outside in the streets except me. Everything was quiet, except for the sound of the warplanes. I continued playing, and watching out for my friends. I was looking forward to their visit. Then, a loud explosion… It was all over…..

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Aya Najjar, I was 8 years old when Israeli apache fired a direct rocket at me… followed by another rocket …… I was playing, but they turned me to pieces.
My name is Aya Najjar, I was 8 years old when Israel killed me with a rocket while I played outside my home …. My mother cries herself to sleep every night…. Tell her not to cry, tell her that now I am with my martyred brother Zaki.
My name is Aya Najjar, I was 8 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me.

My name is Khalil Al-Mughrabi

Martyr Khalil Mughrabi. Source: google images

Martyr Khalil Mughrabi. Source: google images

I was born in Yabna refugee camp in Rafah. Sometimes, I was a quiet boy, and sometimes I was noisy and naughty. I was member in the Little Parliament, a sort of mock parliament for pupils. I loved participating in public activities, and loved volunteering. I loved playing sports with my friends. My favourite game was football. On the evening of 07.07.2001, I was playing football with my friends in Yabna playground; we were about 20 to 30 boys, aged 10 to 13 years old. We were happy, running and screaming… At about 5 pm, we saw an Israeli tank move opposite us on the other side of the fence in the direction of the Israeli army observation tower. They were watching us, they saw us playing football, heard our laughter. After playing football for some time, we all sat on the sandy hill talking and laughing….. We were happy; children playing football, trying to forget the occupation soldiers that were watching us… trying to forget the occupation that is strangling and killing us… trying to live, even if for a few minutes, like other children…. Then a bullet pierced my head coming from the observation tower…. I fell back bleeding profusely… part of my skull splattered on my friends and before they could scream and run away more bullets starting flying in our direction, hitting another 2 boys aged 10 and 12 years in the stomach.

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Khalil Al-Mughrabi, I was 11 years old when Israeli occupation soldiers killed me in cold-blood while playing and laughing with my friends.
My name is Khalil Al-Mughrabi, I was 11 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me.

My name is Raghda ‘Assar

Martyr Raghda ‘Assar. Source: google images

Martyr Raghda ‘Assar. Source: google images

I lived in Khan Younis with my family. We are refugees, and the Zionists expelled us from our original village in 1948. I was a pupil at the UNRWA school. On 07.09.2004, I was sitting in class listening to the English teacher. It was still early in the morning, when all of a sudden we heard sounds of explosions. The Israeli occupation army was bombarding the area. We started screaming and crying… we didn’t know what to do, some hid under the tables, others ran towards the door, while others froze in their chairs. We heard bullets… They shot at us from the observation tower of the Neve Dekalim Zionist colony which is close to the school…. I felt a sting, I screamed and put my hand on the right side of my head…. I felt nothing anymore….. I was hit in the head, I was in coma from which I never woke up. On 15.09.2004 my parents and siblings said their final farewell to me.

Dear Mr. Secretary General;
My name is Raghda ‘Assar, I was 10 years old when Israeli occupation snipers shot me while sitting among my classmates in an UNRWA school.
My name is Raghda ‘Assar, I was 10 years old when the Zionist entity, which you removed from the list of child abusers, killed me.

Dear Mr. Secretary General,
We, the martyred children of Palestine, address you from a place where Zionist terrorism can’t touch us anymore, we address you from a place where your complicity with Zionist crimes can’t hurt us anymore, we address you from a place where world inaction towards Israeli war crimes can disappoint us anymore. We address you, not for our sake, for you have failed us, you let us down, you ignored our pain and suffering, you chose the side of the oppressor over that of the oppressed… we address you for the sake of those who are still alive, for the sake of Palestinian children who still suffer under Israeli military occupation, for the sake of Palestinian children who daily face Israeli terror and war crimes… we address you for their sake. You did nothing to protect us from Zionist terror, and to add salt to our bleeding wounds, you removed the Zionist entity and its occupation army from the list of child-rights offenders, thus giving them impunity to continue killing Palestinian children. Our blood, and that of every Palestinian victim, is on your hands and on the hands of every individual, every country, every government, and every organization that witnessed our suffering and turned a blind eye. Our stolen lives, and those of every Palestinian victim, will forever haunt you, and haunt every individual, every nation, every government and every organization that heard our calls for help and turned a deaf ear. You, and this unjust world, turned you back on our daily suffering, stood in solidarity with our killers, cried for our killers, protected our killers, and rewarded our killers. You, and this unjust world, ignored the suffering of the victims, demanded concession after concession from the victims, accused the victims. But, in the name of every Palestinian child, those martyred and those alive, we say to you;
Palestine, all of Palestine, was and will always be our one and only home, from the River to the Sea.
Palestinians, women and men, young and old, living in occupied Palestine or in the Diaspora, will continue the struggle until all of Palestine is free, until all Palestinians return to their homes.
The Palestinian people, and all free citizens of this unjust world, will bring to justice all Zionist war criminals and all perpetrators of crimes against the Palestinian people and against humanity in general, their supporters, their defenders, and all those who granted them impunity for their crimes.
Justice will prevail and Palestine, all of Palestine, will be free.

Posted in Human Rights, Palestine Affairs0 Comments

The Silent Ethnic Cleansing: A Glimpse Into the Plight of an “Invented” People

NOVANEWS

Image result for STAR OF DAVID CARTOON

By Budour Hassan 

“Yes, Israel does violate international law and is far from perfect,” concedes the “enlightened” liberal Zionist, “But it is nowhere near as brutal or contemptible as the Assad regime.” The notion that Israel is somehow more tolerable than Arab tyrannies just because it does not bomb Palestinians in the West Bank or (gasp!) does not mass-murder demonstrators is virtually universal. This assumption, however, underlines a disturbing lack of understanding of the Israeli military occupation and the system of racial segregation governing the occupied west Bank. It goes without saying that those repeating this mantra have never lived under military occupation and have never experienced the constant fear of being abducted from their bedrooms and arrested without warrant, charges or trial.

In an attempt at refuting this notion, it’s necessary to explain the reasons for this shockingly pervasive ignorance. The vast majority of Israelis consistently and unashamedly clasp the charade that Israel is a democracy even if that means living in perpetual frugality, shrugging off horrendous crimes as singular incidents that do not represent the “most moral army in the world” and defending the indefensible under the guise of security. For a colonial society that thrives on a counterfeit sense of moral, intellectual and cultural superiority over an “invented” people, admitting culpability or complicity in the systematic annihilation of a defenseless, far less privileged community is unthinkable.

So profound is the sense of denial enveloping Israelis that they take great offence at the very labeling of Israel as an apartheid state or, God forbid, condemning it in the same breath as Arab dictatorships. There is little to no outrage by Israelis about Israel’s atrocities because, remember, they are unrepresentative, rare – and for many they do not exist – no state is “perfect” and because human rights organizations are “biased” against Israel and want to wipe away the island of democracy surrounded by an ocean of oppressive, vulgar third world tribes.

The maligned genius of the Israeli occupation lies in its success to squeeze the lifeblood out of entire communities silently, gradually but brutally. Practices such as the rapidly increasing home demolitions; ceaseless construction and expansion of illegal settlements; blocking access to schools and agricultural fields; the frequent destruction of basic infrastructure like water wells and solar power plants; and the theft of land, identity and collective memory are hardly reported in the mainstream media.

The discriminatory legal system and the racist bureaucracy that controls the tiniest minutiae of Palestinians’ daily life, including traveling to neighboring villages and even marriage, murder the soul of Palestinian society, but will never capture the headlines of the New York Times or CNN. The silent, invisible ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population does not possess the flash of missiles and explosions or the booming sound of mortar shells, but it is even more devastating and effective.

Such is the regularity of Israel’s human rights abuses that even Palestinians have normalized them, at times to the extent of desensitization. When asked whether she would like to write about her experience as a prisoner’s wife, a woman from Beit Ummar said no-one would be interested to read about it, likening the experience to cooking chicken.

The Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation are often nameless and faceless. We read that there are over 4500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli occupation jails but very few of us recognize their names, their faces or their stories. If it were not for the heroic hunger-strikes, the suffering of thousands of prisoners languishing in Israel’s dungeons would remain untold. We only heard of Khader Adnan because of his inspiring 66-day huger-strike. If it were not for her incredible 43-day hunger-strike, we would never know that Hana Shalabi spent the best years of her life detained in Israel without charges or trial. It is only thanks to his astonishing 78-day hunger-strike that we knew about Thaer Halahleh who, prior to his release on 5 June, had never kissed his beloved daughter Lamar.

Even Palestinian national team footballer Mahmoud Sarsak, who has been detained in Israel without trial or charge since July 2009, would have never gained the support of FIFA and world renowned footballers if it had not been for a miraculous 92 days without food. Mind you, even that was not sufficient for the Palestinian Football Association to raise an eyebrow. All of us, on the other hand, are familiar with the Israeli occupation soldier who was captured by Palestinian resistance 6 years ago today. He did not have to go on for days without food to garner the world’s attention and sympathy.

We might scroll through news about the demolition of Palestinian-owned houses, tents, huts and animal shelters while drinking our morning coffee, but little do we know about the actual victims, the hundreds who are forcibly displaced every month for the crime of being Palestinian.

Have you ever heard of Sawsan Hamamdeh? She does not blog nor does she have a Twitter account; she does not introduce herself as an “activist” but she perfectly personifies the Palestinian struggle. Born in the cave-dweller village of Mfaggara in South Hebron Hills, Sawsan became the first girl from her village to attend collage in the city of Yatta. Denied access to electricity or running water like the overwhelming majority of South Hebron Hills’ residents, Sawsan studied for her Tawjihi exams under the light of an old lantern she inherited from her grandfather. On a dreary, rainy November afternoon last year, private Israeli contractors, hired by the “civil” administration, came to demolish her home.

The pretext, as usual, is building without permit. Israel sweepingly and systematically refuses to grant residents of Area C, which comprises 60% of the West Bank, permits to build homes or tents to accommodate the natural growth. Sawsan’s father Mahmoud put up two rooms on top of his cave in 2002 after applying and failing to get a permit. Needless to say, the residents of the illegal, Jewish-only, nearby settlement of Avigail face no such problems. Settlers can expand, build parks and enjoy all the privileges that the indigenous Palestinians can only dream of.

As this video shows, Sawsan’s punishment for trying to nonviolently prevent the demolition of the cave, wherein the best memories of her childhood reside, was brutal arrest, pepper-spray and a week in the infamous “Russian Compound”, a detention camp in occupied Jerusalem. “I’ve always dreamt of visiting Jerusalem,” Sawsan told me, “but not like that. They dragged me to the vehicle along with my 17-year-old cousin Amal. We were hand-cuffed and blindfolded. The week I spent in detention in Jerusalem was the worst in my life.”

Fighting back tears, Sawsan showed me the rubble of her demolished home. “I felt like an olive tree that was violently uprooted.” She said with agony. “The Israelis want all of us to leave Mfaggara and go to Yatta, but I would never leave my village even if I had sleep on the street.”

 

Posted in Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

The Torture of Absolute Power

NOVANEWS
Detainees sitting in a holding area watched by military police at Camp X-Ray inside Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Photo: REUTERS)

“The existence of the approximately 14,000 photographs will probably cause yet another delay in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as attorneys for the defendants demand that all the images be turned over and the government wades through the material to decide what it thinks is relevant to the proceedings.”

This was the Washington Post a few days ago, informing us wearily that the torture thing isn’t dead yet. The bureaucracy convulses, the wheels of justice grind. So much moral relativism to evaluate.

“They did what they were asked to do in the service of our nation,” CIA director John Brennan said at a news conference in December, defending CIA interrogators after a portion of the 6,700-page Senate Intelligence Committee report was made public.

Serving the nation means no more than doing what you’re told.

God bless America. Flags wave, fireworks burst on the horizon. Aren’t we terrific? But this idea we celebrate — this nation, this principled union of humanity — is just a military bureaucracy, full of dark secrets. The darkest, most highly classified secret of all is that we’re always at war and we always will be. And war is an end in itself. It has no purpose beyond its own perpetuation.

This is the context of torture.

At least this is what occurred to me as I reflected on the most recent non-news, that the existence of multi-thousands of photographs of U.S. black site operations are out there somewhere, classified but known and pulsing. What more can we learn that we don’t already know?

“On Nov. 20, 2002, (Gul) Rahman was found dead in his unheated cell. He was naked from the waist down and had been chained to a concrete floor. An autopsy concluded that he probably froze to death.”

So the Los Angeles Times informed us in December, in an article about two psychologists, Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, who were serving their country in the early days of the War on Terror by developing the CIA’s torture methodology.

“When he was left alone,” the article reported, describing another detainee’s experience, “(Abu) Zubaydah ‘was placed in a stress position, left on a waterboard with a cloth over his face, or locked in one of two confinement boxes.’

“In all, he spent 266 hours — 11 days and two hours — locked in the pitch-dark coffin, and 29 hours in a much smaller box. In response, he ‘cried,’ ‘begged,’ ‘whimpered’ and grew so distressed that ‘he was unable to effectively communicate,’ the interrogation team reported.

“The escalating torment, especially the waterboarding, affected some on the CIA team. ‘It is visually and psychologically very uncomfortable,’ one wrote. Several days later, another added, ‘Several on the team profoundly affected . . . some to the point of tears and choking up.’”

And a few weeks ago, The Telegraph newspaper, quoting from the Senate Intelligence Committee Report, described the experience of Majid Khan, who “was raped while in CIA custody (‘rectal feeding’). He was sexually assaulted in other ways as well, including by having his ‘private parts’ touched while he was hung naked from the ceiling. . . .

“‘Majid had an uncovered bucket for a toilet, no toilet paper, a sleeping mat and no light. . . . For much of 2003 he lived in total darkness.’”

And the awkward part of all this, for defenders of the military bureaucracy, is that these torture procedures produced no information of any value. We sold our soul to the devil and got nothing at all in return. Bad deal.

Whatever details about the torture program remain classified and buried, these stories, along with plenty of shocking photographs, are fully public. There’s enough data here to open a deep conversation about what it means to be a nation and what the limits of power ought to be. What I see instead is a sort of official resignation — on the part of media and government — to the inevitability of out-of-control power in the pursuit of self-defense.

Philip Zimbardo called this phenomenon the Lucifer Effect: the utterly corrupting nature of total power over others. Reports of CIA torture are rife with observations that the interrogators were out of control. The information they sought from the utterly powerless detainees in their keep was a treasure to be extracted, like oil or diamonds from the bowels of the earth, and no technique was too inhumane, too morally odious, to achieve that end. Call it human fracking. It’s for the good of America.

The awareness that must emerge from a decade-and-counting of torture revelations is that absolute power over others does not keep us safe and should not be pursued. And torture is only a minute fraction of the wrong we promulgate through unchecked militarism, the aim of which is domination of the planet.

Step one in the unhealthy pursuit of power is the dehumanization of “the enemy.” The consequences of what we do after that will always haunt us.

Posted in Human Rights, USA0 Comments

Belgium to support Palestinian prisoners

NOVANEWS

Al Qassam website - The Belgian parliament decided to urgently intervene and put pressure for the release of the Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, ending violations against them and forming parliament committees to seek the truth on their detention conditions.In a special session on the issue of Palestinian captives on Wednesday, the parliament said the decision came in the wake of a detailed Palestinian report filed to the Belgian parliament on detention conditions of Palestinian prisoners as well as the Israeli violations of the international law and conventions.

The Detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs Commission director in Gaza Issa Qaraqi demanded, in his report submitted to the Belgian parliament, that a parliament day should be assigned for releasing the Palestinian MPs who are imprisoned in Israeli jails, visiting the detained MPs, sending inquiry committees to investigate the conditions of captives.

 

He called for boycotting Israeli companies which funds Israeli jails and for recognizing the State of Palestine in order to protect the rights of the Palestinian people and prisoners.

Posted in Human Rights, Palestine Affairs0 Comments

Protest commemorating one year anniversary of the killing of Abu Khdeir met with NAZI military violence

NOVANEWS
Image result for Muhammad Abu Khdeir, PHOTO

On July 2, 2015, in honor of the first anniversary of the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, Palestinian activists with international supporters blocked NAZI Jewish settlers-only road leading to NAZI Jewish  illegal Adam settlement. Demonstrators cited this road as the road that the murderers took in their search for a Palestinian victim. Journalists, Palestinian and international activists, suffered from pepper spray burns and several were hospitalized.

“This is the first in a week of demonstrations for Muhammad Abu Khdeir. One of the murderers, Yosef Haim Ben-David, is from the Adam settlement. This is why the demonstration was held at this settlers-only entrance,” said Abdullah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bil’in.

Demonstrators blocked the road to settler traffic in both directions until the NAZI Army and Border Police dispersed the non-violent demonstrators and journalists by pepper-spraying indiscriminately. Three Palestinian activists, four journalists, and two International ISM volunteers were pepper sprayed in the eyes and mouth by a masked Army officer. An ISM co-founder as well as journalists from Roya TV Channel, Reuters, and Palestine TV were severely pepper sprayed in the eyes requiring hospitalization.

NAZI soldiers threw sound percussion grenades at demonstrators and chased people. In addition to the pepper spray, they shoved journalists and Palestinian activists to the ground.

After NAZI and border police chased the demonstrators off the road and down a hill, they continued to throw percussion grenades even as the demonstrators stood at a distance waiting to find fellow demonstrators.

Posted in Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

“Just Say Anything!” – The US Responds to the UN Review of its Human Rights Record

NOVANEWS
By Janet PhelanThe US has a history of making inaccurate statements to international bodies in order to advance its global agenda. One need only look at the statements made on the international stage prior to the invasion of Iraq to realize that the intention to invade Iraq was not going to be hindered by a realistic assessment of its “weapons of mass destruction” program.

In recent UN convenings, we are now seeing false statements put on the record by high-ranking US officials concerning the US’s domestic agenda. As the UN has no dominion over the domestic issues within the United States, one can only view these coordinated efforts by the US officials as a studied effort at propaganda.

This past May, the UN reviewed the human rights record of the United States. Known as the UPR (Universal Periodic Review), this session in May marked the second such review, the first having taken place in 2010. Civil society was invited to submit reports and over ninety NGOs and grassroots organizations did so. In addition, over 110 UN member nations also voiced their concerns as to the US’s human rights record.

Criticisms and concerns were entered on many different issues. The failed campaign promise of President Obama to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay was mentioned repeatedly. So were the failures of the United States to ratify many human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Convention on the Rights of the Child, The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance as well as other international treaties.

Racial profiling and police killings of US citizens, many if not most being African Americans, were raised as consistent concerns. In addition, recommendations were made that the US halt its application of the death penalty and also establish a national human rights agency.

The tone of the US response was quite a bit different from the tack taken in 2010. Gone were the promises, empty as they were. Instead, the US adopted a regimented and in some cases a somewhat belligerent defense of what might be considered indefensible activities. And where belligerence might have failed to impress, outright lies were employed.

Muted belligerence was clearly in evidence in the statements made by Brigadier General Richard Gross, legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who addressed concerns about Guantanamo Bay and the detainees. “The detainees are detained lawfully,” he declared. According to Gross, there were 242 detainees at the beginning of the Obama administration and 116 have been transferred out since then. He stated that 122 remain. As these figures omit four individuals, it is assumed that they have died.Alarmingly, Gross made the following revelations: Of the remaining 122, he told us, 57 are designated for transfer. Out of the 65 others, 10 are currently facing charges or have been convicted. The remaining 55, he stated, will be reviewed by the periodic review board. In other words, 55 individuals have been detained for years without being charged. This is hardly in accordance with US law, which guarantees a speedy trial, among other legal considerations.

And it is US law which pertains to the detainees. Supreme Court decisions have granted the detainees protections under US law, including the right of habeas corpus. Over 200 writs of habeas corpus have been filed by Guantanamo Bay detainees. Not one has been granted.

Police abuse is of grave concern to many different sectors. The US attempted to assuage these concerns with outright lies. Indeed, the US continued on with its hooey about the non-existent “hundreds of federal prosecutions” for police abuse that it tried to front a few months back at the Convention Against Torture meeting in Geneva. As discussed in this article, the actual numbers of federal prosecutions for police abuse could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Rather than correct the previous misstatements, the US officials amplified the bogus figures, and cited a total of 400 such prosecutions. The Big Lie is always the best, and for those who gagged on the overblown figure of 330 such prosecutions stated at the CAT by Assistant Attorney General David Bitkower a few months back, the new figure of 400 such prosecutions provides an even bigger loogey to swallow.

For students of effective propaganda, it might be of interest to note that the US did not use David Bitkower, a white man, as the mouthpiece for this lie on the occasion of the UPR. As previously noted, most of the police killings involve a black victim, and accordingly, the US used one of its black DOJ officials, James Cadogan, to deliver this line of horse puckey. Cadogan is Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General.

Well, using the facade of race to convince the naïve population that it was getting something other than more of the same worked in the 2008 election, did it not?

It looks like the US, seemingly on a roll of grandiose pronouncements as to its diligent protection of human rights, did not stop with this false figure. Other declarations were made at the UPR which were similarly suspect. For example, according to Kevin Washburn, with the Department of the Interior, the US has restored about a million acres to Indian tribes under this administration. Well, that sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?The problem arises in verifying Washburn’s “million acre” pronouncement. As it turns out, Washburn also testified before a Congressional subcommittee just a scant three days after he made the “million acre” declaration to the UN. In his testimony in front of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, US House of Representatives on May 14, Washburn testified that the Obama administration had restored “approximately 300,000 acres to tribes.”

That constitutes a rather serious difference in figures. In accordance with the Uncle Tomism seen in using African American Cadogan to speak on police abuse, Washburn, who is the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, also claims to be a member of the Chickasaw Nation, an Oklahoma tribe.

At the 2010 UPR, the US promised to ratify the Convention On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In fact, Congress voted against ratification in. 2012. In the US report to the UPR for the 2015 review, the US stated that “The United States has robust protections to prevent discrimination against persons with disabilities and has actively enforced these protections since our last report.” In fact, multiple ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) complaints have been filed with the Department of Justice, stating profound violations of rights affecting the elderly and disabled by state courts. According to recent statements made by an ADA employee to this reporter, not one of these complaints has been pursued by the DOJ.

Another red flag appeared in the US’s statements about the number of federal hate crimes prosecutions. The US claimed that over 200 individuals had been convicted under federal hate crime laws, including the Shepard/Byrd Act, in the past five years.

This reporter contacted the DOJ press office as well as the FBI and was refused details on hate crime convictions. A dedicated internet search, including DOJ and FBI websites as well as newspaper reports, turned up a total of 72 convictions for federal hate crimes since 2009. Sixteen of these convictions—for the infamous Amish beard cutting defendants– were subsequently reversed in 2014, leaving a grand total of 56.

Parenthetically, as the press office at the US DOJ refused to supply factual documentation (such as case numbers and names), this reporter filed a Freedom of Information Request for this information. It is possible that the fulfillment of this request will provide a different perspective. For the edification of the readers, the last FOIA request by this reporter was filed in 2009. I am still awaiting the response.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran an article on the lack of transparency in the Obama administration and cited multiple problems with FOIA. According to the article, “Most Administrations play games with FOIA, but the Obama White House has turned stonewalling into an art form.”

The WSJ article goes on to discuss the following ploys being utilized to evade replies to FOIA requests– imposing sky high fees, failing to process requests within the legal time limit, destroying information and excessively redacting information.

Access to accurate information is a fundamental part of a democracy. If the citizenry is kept in the dark about the nature of its governance, it will not be able to make appropriate decisions. Those in power who play a shell game with the facts of their activities do so in accordance with the dedicated purpose of any liar–fear of exposure and avoidance of accountability.


Posted in Human Rights, USA0 Comments

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