Your Source for Leaks Around the World!

Archive for February 19th, 2011|Daily archive page

Mubarak & Ben Ali In Coma? King Abdullah Dead?

In Egypt, News, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, World Revolution on February 19, 2011 at 11:40 PM

Ousted President Hosni Mubarak went into a coma on Saturday at his residence in Sharm al-Sheikh, according to well-informed sources.

AlMasryAlYoum.com:

Mubarak flew to the Red Sea resort town on Thursday with his immediate family following his final speech, in which he handed over executive authority to former Vice-President Omar Suleiman.

The same sources said that Mubarak was currently receiving medical treatment but that no decision had yet been made on whether to transfer the 83-year-old former head-of-state to hospital.

Rumors had circulated earlier that Mubarak had fainted twice while recording his final speech, which was broadcast on state television on Thursday evening.

Former Tunisian leader in hospital in Saudi Arabia after suffering a stroke two days ago, according to French agencies.


Guardian:

The former Tunisian leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali is in a coma in hospital in Saudi Arabia after suffering a stroke two days ago, according to French agencies.

The 74-year-old, who fled to Saudi Arabia last month after a people’s uprising, was said to be in a grave condition. His decision to flee Tunisia for the Red Sea city of Jeddah on 14 January was a victory for the month-long revolution and helped spread a mood of uprising across the Arab world.

Obsessed with presenting a youthful, healthy face to the nation, the ageing despot had long refused to allow any photographs to be taken of him except official portraits which airbrushed out his wrinkles. Under the heavy censorship of the regime, newspapers were only allowed one approved photograph and could not change it except to make his dyed hair look blacker.

French journalist and Tunisia expert Nicolas Beau reported that Ben Ali had been admitted to a Saudi hospital favoured by the royal family but had been registered under a false name for security reasons. He said that Tunisia’s interim president had been informed of Ben Ali’s predicament two days ago.

French media reported that Ben Ali’s wife Leila, whose lavish consumption made her a hate figure in Tunisia, was not at her husband’s side and might be in Libya.

The EU has frozen the assets of Ben Ali and his family as Tunisia investigates the alleged corruption of the ruling family and toppled regime.

WLCentral.org:

Islam Times has been reporting since February 10 that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is dead, a report vociferously denied by government officials who say he is in good spirits. Islam Times reports that the king suffered a heart attack after a heated argument with US president Obama over the future of Egypt’s ousted president Mubarak who the king supports. Oil prices jumped as much as US$1 per barrel at the rumour of the death of the 86 year old king who was recovering from two back operations he underwent in New York in December. Now others are claiming inside sources who confirm the king’s death, while some report a “major setback” and “signs of mental deterioration”.

Bahrain & Libya Censoring Internet to Silence Revolutions

In Bahrain, Libya, World Revolution on February 19, 2011 at 9:44 PM

NYTimes:

As protests have erupted in Bahrain over the last several days, the government has severely restricted the access of its citizens to the Internet, new data from an organization that monitors Internet traffic strongly suggests.

The data, collected by Arbor Networks, is the first quantitative confirmation that Internet traffic into and out of Bahrain has suffered an anomalous drop over the past days.

Jose Nazario, the senior manager of security research at Arbor, which is based in Massachusetts, said that the traffic was 10 percent to 20 percent below expected levels. The measurements gauge the amount of information flowing through Internet backbone lines into and out of Bahrain.

A fluctuation of that size is generally caused only by natural calamities or major global sporting events, Mr. Nazario said, leading the company to conclude that the most likely explanation is that Bahrain is blocking many sites on the Internet.

He said that the company could not absolutely rule out technical problems with Internet carriers inside the country as a cause.

But Jillian York of Harvard, project coordinator for the OpenNet Initiative, said that the findings were consistent with reports that Bahrainis had been blocked from various sites, including YouTube and Bambuser.

AFP:

Internet service was cut off in Libya on Friday as the regime evidently moved to strip anti-government protestors of ways to organize and communicate, according to Arbor Networks.

Libya “abruptly disconnected” from the Internet at 4:15 pm.(00:15 GMT Saturday), according to the US based tracker of online traffic.

Internet traffic in and out of the country halted suddenly after being throttled earlier in the day, according to an Arbor Networks chart titled “Libya Pulls the Plug.”

A Message from Anonymous:

Free Internet for Libya
+494923197844321
User: telecomix
Password: telecomix

12 line are available for Libyans only

الإنترنت مجانا في ليبيا
الطلب الهاتفي : +494923197844321
العضو : telecomix
كلمة السر : telecomix
12 خطوط المتاحة لليبيين فقط

U.S. Libyan Students Threatened to Attend Pro-Gaddafi Rallies

In Libya, World Revolution on February 19, 2011 at 8:25 PM

AlJazeera:

In an apparent effort to control the public narrative in the wake of rare protests that have spread throughout Libya, the country’s government is threatening to withdraw scholarship funding from citizens studying in the United States unless they attend pro-government rallies in Washington this weekend, Al Jazeera has learned.

Several Libyans studying in the US said they and their peers have received phone calls this week from a man employed by the Libyan embassy instructing them to join rallies in the capital on Friday and Saturday. The man told the students that their government-funded scholarships would be cut off if they did not attend.

Ali Suleiman Aujali, the Libyan ambassador to the United States, denied the students’ allegations. He told Al Jazeera they were “completely incorrect” and an attempt to “blackmail” the government’s reputation.

The reports of coercion come as protesters in Libya mounted a “day of rage” on Thursday and continued their calls for the end of Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year reign as Libya’s leader.

At least 14 people are reported to have died as a result of unrest that began on Monday and has broken out in cities throughout the country, including Tripoli, the capital, and Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, where most of the deaths have been reported.

The Libyan embassy employee in the US told students that the government would pay for all the expenses associated with attending the rally, including a plane ticket, hotel room and food, the students said.

They spoke with Al Jazeera on the condition they remain anonymous because they feared retribution from the government if their identities were made public.

One student in his mid-20s who graduated from medical school in Libya and is preparing to take his physicians’ licensing exam said that the man from the embassy called late on Tuesday night and identified himself as a cultural liaison.

“He said, ‘Listen, you’re going to have to come … it’s not your choice, it’s best you go, it’s better than the consequences’.” the student said.

“I said, what do you mean, the consequences? And he said, ‘You’ll lose your scholarship.’ And I said, ‘Are you threatening me?’ And he said, ‘No it’s not a threat, it’s the reality’.”

The cultural liaison said he had a list of names and that the government would note those who attended, the student said.

“I felt embarrassed, I felt coerced,” he said.

Another student who also received a late-night phone call on Tuesday said that the caller, a man he knew, told him he was carrying out government instructions. The student said he too was threatened with the loss of his scholarship.

“I told them I had an exam coming up in the next few days and they told me, ‘It’s a serious situation, you have to go,’ and if I don’t go they told me, ‘Most probably (the government) will cut off your scholarship,'” the man said.

“We have your birthday and we have your full name and we need you to say that you are coming,” the caller said.

Both students said they had spoken with more than a dozen peers who also reported receiving similar threats.

Abdulla Darrat, a 28-year-old co-founder of the “Enough Gaddafi” movement who is based in New York City, told Al Jazeera he had heard of the threats as well.

One of the students said he had called Libyan peers whom he considered close friends to ask about the threats, but he said he was afraid too afraid to ask other Libyan student acquaintances because he feared they might report him to the government.

“Among Libyan students, we have informants,” he said. “I can’t just go through a list and call them … Some of them would call the Libyan embassy and tell them that he has talked to Jazeera.”

Darrat said his group had applied for permits to protest at the Libyan embassy on Friday and Saturday and planned to hold a demonstration at the White House on Saturday as well.

A pro-government student group has applied for permits to demonstrate next to them, he said.

Darrat compared the government’s current public relations effort with the event it staged during Gaddafi’s visit to the United Nations in September 2009, when the Libyan government erected a stage that featured African dancers and a large television screen that projected Gaddafi’s one-hour-and-40-minute speech to the General Assembly.

Darrat and others claimed the Libyan government had paid citizens in the United States to attend pro-Gaddafi rallies during the visit.

Some were given $2,000 and took the money “as a way to get out of studies and enjoy a weekend,” one of the students said.

“This time it’s much different,” he said. “The embassy officials are desperate and are now attempting to force us to go. This an act of desperation.”

Activists hope that the tens of thousands of Libyans they say have taken to the streets around the country finally will bring an end to the Gaddafi era and its repressive tactics.

The government has shown no signs of making any concessions to the demonstrators thus far, but for some of the students in the United States, the sight of citizens publicly calling for Gaddafi’s ouster was enough to inspire them to defy the embassy’s demands to come to Washington DC.

“I was up late all last night watching the videos of masked youths pleading to the Libyan people to rise against the oppression,” one of the students wrote in an email.

“These videos have been circulating on Facebook, and after watching them I broke into tears. I will no longer accept this oppression.”

The student said he had stopped answering all unknown phone calls, which he assumes are the embassy checking to see whether he will accept the ticket.

His brother, in Libya, has told him that the government has blocked Internet access and severed communications with eastern parts of the country.

He and others say their attention is now directed to Tripoli, where protests could prove decisive.

Another student, who also has been watching videos of the protests on social media websites, said he was inspired to refuse the embassy’s instructions by recent upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt – where longtime leaders both stepped down from power following mass protests.

“I mean today people are protesting in the different cities in my country, now I saw the videos on the Facebook and YouTube,” said one man, who told the embassy officer he could not postpone his upcoming exam.

“I’m not afraid anymore, because I’m feeling that it’s gonna be over, Gaddafi’s gonna be over, it’s happened in Tunisia and Egypt …  This guy, he’s not gonna [step] down, he’s gonna be kicked out.”

Bahrain & Libya Weapons Supplied By Britain

In Bahrain, Britain, Libya, NWO, World Revolution on February 19, 2011 at 7:39 PM

MoD to review arms export licenses after Bahrain clears protesters with UK-made crowd-controls weapons such as teargas and stun grenades.

 

Guardian:

The British government has launched a review of arms exports to Bahrain after it emerged that the country’s security forces were supplied with weapons by the United Kingdom.

After a bloody crackdown in the capital, Manama, left up to five people dead and more than 100 injured, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said the government will “urgently revoke licenses if we judge that they are no longer in line with the [UK and European Union] criteria”.

Despite long-running concerns among activists over Bahrain’s human rights record, British firms were last year granted licenses, unopposed, to export an arsenal of sometimes deadly crowd control weapons. Licenses approved included exactly the kind of weapons and ammunition used by Bahraini riot police to clear the Pearl Roundabout protest encampment, including shotguns, teargas canisters, “crowd control ammunition” and stun grenades.

“We closely consider allegations of human rights abuses,” said Burt. “We will not authorize any exports which, we assess, might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, which might be used to facilitate internal repression.”

Human rights groups called for an immediate suspension of arms supplies to Bahrain and the disclosure of why licenses were granted in the first place.

According to the Foreign Office’s own records and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the UK has also supplied Libya – which has warned in an SMS message that it will use live ammunition against protesters – with similar weapons and ammunition. Sales to both Bahrain and Libya were actively promoted by the UK government’s arms promotion unit, the UK Trade & Investment Defense & Security Organization.

Examination by the Guardian of pictures of the injuries of the dead and injured taken at hospitals in Bahrain showed the tell-tale blast pattern of shotgun pellets, including on a young, seriously injured child who appeared to have been shot in the ribcage at close range. Credible witnesses to both Thursday’s assault and a similar attack on a funeral procession in Manama describe police using shotguns, alleged to have been responsible for the death of mourner Fadhel Ali Almatrook.

Other licenses granted for export to Bahrain by the UK included small arms ammunition and submachine guns.

Despite the warnings from HRW and other organisations of a worsening rights situation in Bahrain, the Foreign Office’s own statistics reveal that the number of arms exports licences continued to increase in 2010 from 34 to 42 with no licences being refused. Arms exports to Libya, where lethal force has already been used against demonstrators, appear to have followed a similar pattern with exports last year including tear gas, and £3.2 million worth of ammunition including for crowd control..

Denis MacShane, a former Labour minister, said: “We should be suspending all arms exports used to repress pro-democracy protests. The idea that British weapons could be used to fire on and injure children makes me feel ill.”

WikiLeaks Cables Reveal Torture Allegations Against Bahrain Government

In Bahrain, WikiLeaks, World Revolution on February 19, 2011 at 7:03 PM

WLCentral.org:

The streets of Bahrain are becoming increasingly violent. Security forces are using live rounds on protesters. Just over a day ago, right before dawn security forces ambushed protesters camping peacefully in the Pearl Roundabout, an area they had turned into their “Tahrir Square.” Many were injured, a few were killed. And, the world is witnessing the brutal discriminatory practices often used by the regime against Shia citizens and activists who dare to criticize the regime or exercise freedom of expression.

For years, a monarchy headed by King Hamad bin Isa al- Khalifa has come under sharp criticism for its use of torture. Amnesty International published a report on February 11 titled, “Crackdown in Bahrain: Human Rights at the Crossroads.” And now, WikiLeaks has released several cables detailing the torture of political prisoners and other Bahrainis.

The cables shows Human Rights Watch (HRW) has the power to challenge Bahrain’s credibility internationally and domestically. One cable in particular from February 12, 2010, shows how the organization’s report asserting torture had been “’revived’ as a component of interrogations in Bahrain” upset Sunni columnists and MPs and led a Bahrain human rights NGO to question parts of the report.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report entitled “Torture Redux: the Revival of Physical Coercion during Interrogations in Bahrain,” at a February 8 press conference in Manama. The report and accompanying press release — both available at www.hrw.org — assert that “since the end of 2007, officials have repeatedly resorted to torture” during questioning of detainees. The torture allegations are largely based on interviews HRW conducted with 20 former detainees in June 2009. Ten of these were arrested during and after riots in Jidhafs village in December 2007 (ref A); three were arrested in connection with disturbances near Karzakkan village in early 2008, during which a Pakistani policeman was killed (ref B); and seven were arrested as part of the National Day/Hujaira case (ref C). All 20 detainees were released following King Hamad’s pardon in April 2009 (refs C and D).

The cable says, “Former detainees alleged that they had been suspended in painful positions, beaten on the soles of their feet, subjected to electrical shocks, and punched and slapped.” Joshua Colangelo-Bryan of the New York office Dorsey & Whitney LLP claimed “that this mistreatment was carried out in such a way as to minimize signs of physical abuse on the detainees’ bodies” and “told media that government medical records indicated that some of those who provided testimony to HRW bore indications of torture.”

US diplomats draw attention to the fact that doctors’ annotations in the report indicate “some of the former detainees had bruises or joint irregularities that ‘could have’ been caused by suspending bodies off the ground.” It’s mentioned that the report suggests France and the UK might be “implicated in prohibited practices” because the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have French and British advisors.

The report’s allegations are met with heavy criticism. Abdulla Al Derazi, head of the independent Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) “told reporters that BHRS had carried out its own investigation, and based on that, he believed that some of the officers implicated in the HRW report had nothing to do with the alleged torture.” The report was criticized for relying on a “narrow group of Bahraini activists who are leaders of, or closely affiliated with Shia radical groups that have a record of inaccurate claims.”

The report is also sharply criticized for an “over-reliance” on al-Haq accounts of torture:

Critics also contend that the tone and content of the report indicate sympathy for Shia radicals’ points of view. For example, the report’s account of the death of the police officer in the April 2008 Karzakan riots weakly refutes the notion that the rioters caused his death: “A plainclothes Pakistani officer with the NSA, Majod Asghar Ali, died, although apparently not as a result of being trapped in the burning vehicle, as authorities claimed.” HRW’s assertion that Majod Asghar Ali was an officer of the Bahrain National Security Agency (BNSA) also belies an over-reliance on Haq’s politically tinged account of that event. Rajab, Al Singace, and other Haqis have claimed that the victim was employed by the BNSA. However, employment records produced during the trial made it clear that the dead man was an MOI officer.

At the press conference, deputy head of HRW’s Middle East North Africa (MENA) division Joe Stork suggests that the government is returning to practices of torture that had been used in the 1990s.

Stork asserted that the Government had reverted to practices it employed in the 1990s. He stressed that the overall rights situation had improved since that time, but insisted that the HRW report’s allegations showed that torture is again being utilized during questioning of suspects. (Note: Bahrain experienced significant upheaval during the 1990s, during which time a number of Shia activists were exiled, imprisoned, and, in some cases, activists and NGOs allege, tortured. King Hamad’s reforms, beginning in 1999, paved the way for integration of mainstream Shia parties, above all Wifaq, into legal politics, including participation in the 2006 parliamentary elections, and an end to the most serious civil disturbances. However, Shia radicals, such as the Haq and Wafa’ movements, continue to denounce Shia who take part in elections. The radicals also inspire much of the low-intensity street violence that regularly afflicts some Shia villages, and has occasionally led to attacks on south Asians.

However credible the criticisms were, the report forced the foreign minister to agree to “look into” the allegations to see if torture took place and commit to referring “the perpetrators” to “appropriate authorities” if evidence of torture was found. It presented an existential crisis for Bahrain leading US diplomats to comment at the end of a cable filed over a week later, “Both the Foreign Minister (reftel) and senior officials at MOI appear to understand that the HRW report represents a significant challenge internationally and domestically.”

It led US embassy officials to urge the “GOB to study the report carefully and to respond in a manner that was credible to the USG and to the international community,” which clearly meant make it seem like your government takes the allegations of torture but don’t worry, we won’t be getting behind any push for prosecutions if torture did indeed occur.

US officials stress, “It would not suffice to merely claim, as some (Sunni) MPs had, that the HRW authors or their (Shia) associates in Bahrain had an anti-government agenda. The GOB, or even better an independent investigation, had to address the allegations forthrightly and transparently if the GOB hoped avoid damage to its international reputation.” And, officials are shown a video that shows the face of Naji Ali Hassan Fateel “carrying a rifle stolen from a burning police vehicle.” Fateel admitted to confessing to the crime but claimed to a judge that he was made to confess “under duress.”

Upon showing the video to US diplomats, Ministry of Interior Brigadier Tariq Bin Daineh exclaims, “Why would we need to torture him,” exclaimed Bin Daineh, “We can see his face!”

This report was not the first time HRW called the government of Bahrain’s official story on its treatment of prisoners into question. A cable from January 2008 describes a local NGO in Bahrain visiting fifteen detainees held in connection with December street violence. The NGO, the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), decides to try to visit the detainees after HRW reports “detainees had told their family members that they had been abused in custody and called for an independent investigation.” The NGO is eventually permitted by the Government of Bahrain (GOB) to interview the detainees.

In the immediate aftermath of the December riots (reftels), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Al-Haq movement publicly accused the authorities of torturing some of those detained in connection with the unrest. The abuse allegedly included sleep deprivation and electric shock. The GOB has adamantly denied those allegations, pointing to medical tests conducted by a forensic doctor who publicly reported finding no evidence the detainees had suffered, since their detention, the mistreatment alleged. Human Rights Watch reported that one detainee told his family that he had been assaulted sexually, and on January 22 HRW called for an independent investigation into the allegations. On January 24, the GOB announced that it would permit the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), a local human rights NGO, to interview the detainees.

3.(SBU) Poloff met with XXXXXXXXXXXX(please protect) on January 24. XXXXXXXXXXXX confirmed that the GOB agreed to give XXXXXXXXXXXX private access to the detainees. He said he had also hoped to bring doctors, lawyers, and a psychiatrist along for the visits, but that the Public Prosecutor’s office had balked. Instead, XXXXXXXXXXXX will be permitted to interview the detainees with no guards or other security officials present. XXXXXXXXXXXX will bring five trained social workers to interview the detainees. They will meet with four of the fifteen detainees over three sessions. They will meet with the first two detainees on January 27, one on January 31, and one on February 3. XXXXXXXXXXXX will visit the detainees at the Hamad Town prison, and plans to release its findings to the media.

4.(C) Comment: The Bahraini authorities recognize they need to deal with the torture allegations in a more transparent fashion. The arrangement with XXXXXXXXXXXX shows that the GOB is sensitive to criticism from international human rights watchdogs.

In response to the violent suppression of protests by security forces in Bahrain, HRW has called for “King Hamad, as commander of the Bahraini Defence Forces (BDF)” to “immediately order an end to attacks on peaceful protesters.” It has said the United States, the United Kingdom, and other international donors should immediately suspend military assistance to Bahrain.”

UNHRC chairman Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi praised the government of Bahrain in October 2010 for making strides in human rights. The chairman “hailed the Government’s efforts to overcome all challenges facing human rights, human habitat, justice, Education and the economy, including the civic and political inalienable rights. The UN officials also lauded the viability and buoyancy of Bahrain civil society and the strength of democracy in the Kingdom.”

The Bahrain government, as protesters continue to be brutalized, has not addressed condemnations or criticisms issued by human rights organizations.

%d bloggers like this: