Amnesty: Palestinian Writer is ‘Prisoner of Conscience’

Amnesty International has urged Israel to immediately reprieve a Palestinian writer who’s been detained without trial or accusations. After conducting raids at premises in the Western Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities arrested 66-year-old Ahmad Qatamesh on Sunday last week. He has since been subjected to a three month detainment period, an approach that has turned out to be more prevalent amongst Palestinians, often with a basis on “secret evidence”.

Magdalena Mughrabi’s, the Watchdog’s Middle East and North Africa delegate, mentions that Ahmad is a “prisoner of conscience,” since he’s fallen victim with his non-violent advocacies meant to discourage activism from other Palestinians. Qatamesh is an acclaimed writer and lecturer, best known for employing a solidarity approach in representing his fellow natives behind bars.

The Times of Israel has in a blog post detailed that Ahmad was arrested for his allegiance to the leftist Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); an allegation his wife has denied pointing out that he was probably targeted for voicing his concerns on the Palestinian hunger strike currently being seen in Israel’s correctional facilities.


Amnesty International Launches #Brave Global Campaign

Deprosa Muchena, Amnesty International’s Southern Africa director, has in a press statement indicated the human rights activists across the globe are still being subjected to intimidations and harassments for championing what is right. While addressing delegates at the #Brave campaign launch at the Nelson Mandela center, Muchena asserted that human rights activists, especially journalists, have been left with no other option but to soak in unjust actions orchestrated by Authoritarian leaders. He also noted that there have been journalist dispatches particularly on those reporting on cases of injustices, and so it was only right to initiate the campaign in a bid to negate these contrived atrocities.

A perfect case study depicting the aforementioned vices is that of Zimbabwean activist and Pastor Ivan Mawarire, who is currently in detention on charges of rebellious incitement and disrespect to the country’s national flag. Another example is that of a few journalists in Botswana who’ve been forced to live life under the radar after receiving death threats for photographing a house belonging to the President. In 2016 alone, there have been a staggering 281 deaths across the globe stemming from defense of human rights.


The Broken Medical System for US Immigration Detainees

As per a recent report published by the Human Rights Watch and Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), “Systemic Indifference: Dangerous & Substandard Medical Care in Immigration Detention,” there are loopholes, and system failures in the current medical program that helps cater medical emergencies for immigrants detained for various reasons across the United States.

The senior US researcher at Human Rights Watch, Grace Meng said, “The data reveals that people in immigration detention died needlessly under the Obama administration, even with its attempts at reform. The Trump administration has already announced its intent to roll back key reforms while detaining even more, immigrants, which would likely mean more people will die needless and preventable deaths. I’m even more concerned now that we have an administration that wants to cram more people into these broken detention centers.

From 2012 to 2015, 40 such deaths are already under investigation by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The stated reasons for these deaths as revealed by many detention advocates, immigration attorneys and medical officials include substandard and dangerous medical care, failure to follow up on critical and emergency symptoms, unqualified medical personnel practicing beyond the scope of their licenses and expertise, the misuse of solitary confinement mental health patients, and severely inadequate mental health care in emergencies. The risk of more deaths can increase if detention reforms are not addressed since over 400,000 individuals go through these detention centers on an annual basis.


Slavery Flourishes in Libya After Western Intervention Ousted Gaddafi

Although it was promised that Libya will prosper after the western intervention to oust President Gaddafi, not a single aim to stabilize the nation has been achieved. The civil war still goes on, refugees are still flowing to Europe, there is no sense of social justice, Libyan economy stays crippled and the country remains a failed democracy not even the United Nations can do anything about. Libya before the western intervention was much more prosperous and had a global status of being one of the most liberal countries, with a model of welfare state around it.

The Libya we know today is surrounded by religious extremism, and fight for resources, there are warlords that many global powers support, and inquiries over the war crimes of a global politician such as Tony Blair have gone unheard. Another concern is the growing market of African slaves across Libya, sold for as low as $200. People are trapped and doing forced labor in the Libyan city of Sabha. Although the U.N. migration agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is aware of the slave trade where African are held for ransom, forced labor or sexual exploitation, no concrete action by the international community is being done. There are no westernbacked interventions now to help the thousands, who have their lives lost, while they came to Libya to seek a new hope and home in Europe.

Those who are trapped come from Gambia, Senegal, Sudan, other Sub-Saharan African nations. Arabs who have historically considered themselves above all, pay nothing to those who do forced labor for the whole day as per many detainees who have fled Libya and returned to the war zones from where they left. The international community needs to understand that their pretext to intervene in the name of humanity to rob resources in Middle Eastern nations, has left nothing for the natives, who are still oppressed and looking for a new hope.


Venezuela Increases Atrocities on Political Opponents

Venezuela has been deviating away from democracy since it underwent colossal economic crisis due to a fall in oil prices started in 2014. President Nicolás Maduro has been trying to consolidate powers and make changes to the constitution, ensuring that he remains in power with an executive branch of office that bypasses the democratically elected leaders.

Venezuelan authorities are also using illegal means to retain opposition leaders, to ensure they do not take part in protests, and uprisings across the country in relation to the undemocratic measures President Maduro has taken. Bolivarian National Intelligence Service arrested opposition party activist Steyci Escalona at a toll booth upon their return to Caracas on 11 January 2017, while on the same day Vice-president on national TV said both Gilber and Steyci had explosives with them, nd were involved in terrorist activities.

Americas Director at Amnesty International, Erika Guevara-Rosas has also condemned the Venezuelan government over their recent oppression and killings of protestors. “The fact that there are people detained in Venezuela without any official charges against them demonstrates the desperate state of human rights in the country.”

Many Venezuelans have started to flee Brazil, over 12,000 are there since 2014, Moreover, Venezuela has also said that it will soon pull out from the Organization of American States, although the international community thinks it will isolate Venezuela, the country looks to move away from western influence, and its ability to dictate how the country should run.


HRW asks Australia to Suspend Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

Human Rights Watch has asked the Australia government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to halt all military sales to Saudi Arabia, citing their dire human rights record in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has destroyed all basic infrastructure while fighting the Houthi rebel forces in Yemen.

Australia director at Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson in a letter said, “Prime Minister Turnbull has approved military sales to Saudi Arabia when he should be using Australia’s leverage to press Riyadh to end unlawful airstrikes in Yemen. Until the Saudi-led coalition credibly investigates and curtails its unlawful attacks, Australia should stop selling them arms and equipment.”

Saudi Arabia is an ally and Australia holds diplomatic relations with the Kingdom. However, even many in the government oppose these sales, including Senator Scott Ludlam, the Greens spokesperson on Foreign Affairs. In a recent interview to Michael Brull of New Matilda, in response to if Australia should stop sales to the kingdom, he said, “I think it should go a little broader than that, I can’t think of a better example of the need for a broadbased arms embargo, and yes, that would obviously start with our great and powerful allies. But the civilian population being pulverized and starved, and yes that conflict is being fuelled by weaponry and you know, other kinds of logistical intelligence support from outside the region.”

There are obvious concerns over Australia’s foreign policy, and how it helps bring peace to the Middle East.


Ferrovial Torturing Refugees in Nauru to Earn Millions

In the past few years since refugees started moving across regions of Europe and Pacific to live a better life running from war fronts, Australia was a major choice. However, Australia has deported many refugees and asylum seekers, while sending them to an island state of Nauru that is 21 square km in size. There are almost a 1,000 asylum seekers and refugees living there under worst possible conditions, while Ferrovial ramps up millions in earnings and profits through a company Broadspectrum, they bought in April 2016 to manage infrastructure development, and document management services, on behalf of the government of Australia.

Amnesty International’s Researcher on Business and Human Rights, Lucy Graham highlighted these conditions citing that Amnesty International has been asking for an overhaul of the system since Manus Island in pap New Guinea was visited in 2012 and 2013. Much of the atrocities faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Nauru are already known by employees, and sub-contractors of Broadspectrum, who are themselves complacent in this systematic human rights violation that the government of Australia is committing. Graham said, “The Australian government has created an island of despair for refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru, but an island of profit for companies making millions of dollars from a system so deliberately and inherently cruel and abusive it amounts to torture. By knowingly enabling the continuation of this system, which is specifically designed to cause suffering and deter people from traveling to Australia by boat to seek asylum, Broadspectrum and Ferrovial are unequivocally complicit in this abuse.”

Broadspectrum’s overall contract earns them AUD$2.5 billion, but their contract ends in October 2017. Ferrovial has no intentions for bidding for a renewal, while it has asked Amnesty International to provide support and advice on how the conditions at Nauru can be made better for the population living there. However, Ferrovial ha also said that “Broadspectrum has repeatedly called on Amnesty International to make specific suggestions to improve living conditions, however, Amnesty International has failed to respond.”

Nevertheless, Amnesty has already asked the government of Australia to let these small number of refugees to come in and be part of a peaceful society, rather than keeping them under stressful conditions at remote islands. As per Graham, “It’s a clinical, cold-blooded set-up where the Australian authorities set the blueprint for cruelty, and the companies do the dirty work.