Monthly Archives: May 2006


The Andijan Massacre – Sign the Petition!

On 13 May, 2005, Uzbek government forces shot dead hundreds of unarmed protesters at a demonstration in eastern Andijan.The United Nations and other intergovernmental organisations documented the massacre, but the authorities continue to refuse an independent investigation into the events, and persecute those who seek such an enquiry. An all-out crackdown on civil society has targeted human rights defenders and journalists, and created an information vacuum inside and outside the country.

The government has either shut or forced the closure of the BBC, Radio Free Europe/Liberty, Deutsche Welle, and many international organisations ‘ the United Nations is the latest to come under attack. Numerous Uzbek journalists and human rights defenders have fled the country. A new media law puts Uzbek citizens who work for foreign news organisations without official accreditation at risk of imprisonment.

A year later the memories of this horrible massacre are still very fresh. It is important that we don’t let the world forget Andijan.

Please don’t let the anniversary of this atrocity pass us by without a mention anywhere in Britain…

The following website has regular updates on the event worldwide www.freeuzbekistan.com

There is also a petition against the repressive Uzbek regime, please sign and circulate.

Shortcut to: http://freeuzbekistan.com/apeale.html

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International Demonstrations Planned for the Anniversary of the Andijan Massacre

Further details and updates from FreeUzbekistan.com

MAY 12

Moscow ‘ The Embassy of Uzbekistan in the Russian Federation

Ulitsa Pogorelskogo 12, 1-3 p.m.

Contact person: Bakhrom Khamroev, +7 926 5330409

Kiev ‘ The Embassy of Uzbekistan in Ukraine

Ulitsa Vladimirskaya 16, 1-3 p.m.

Contact person: Ismoil Dadajonov, +38 0953947091

New York ‘ The United Nations

United Nations Plaza, East 46th Street at 1st Avenue, 12.00 noon ‘ 1 p.m.

Contact person: Farhod Inogambaev, +1 973 6159689

Oslo, Norway

A joint picket of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry by Uzbek refugees and the Norwegian Helsinki Group. Presentation of a petition to the Norwegian foreign minister. Gathering from noon to 1 p.m. at the tiger statue outside the train station.

Contact people: Oleg Marutik: +47 91 175327; Berit Lindeman (???????? ??????? ??-??????): + 47 22 47 92 07

Osh, Kyrgyzstan

OSCE office,

Contact person: Jamshid Muhtorov, email: [email protected], telephone +996 3222 55356, +996 3222 895421.

Please note: the email is constantly blocked and therefore being changed frequently (pls follow the updates)

MAY 13

Brussels ‘ The Embassy of Uzbekistan in Belgium

Franklin Roosevelt Avenue, 99, 1050

Contact: Oleg Shestakevich: +32498190330

London – Downing Street, 10, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Contact people: Alex Higgins [email protected]; Shahida Yakub: +44 7803627921

Kalmar, Sweden. Event for journalists and protest.

Contact: Tulkin Karaev: (0046) 076 104 09 05; Kudrat Babajanov: (0046) 076 104 09 07; Yusuf Rasulov: (0046) 076 104 09 06.

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. A protest titled “No repeat of the Andijan tragedy!” at the Embassy of Uzbekistan. Contact organization: Krylym Shamy: (0312) 66 20 67, e-mail: [email protected]

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Andijan One Year On: Lessons and Perspectives for the Future’

Monica Whitlock (BBC)

Introducing a BBC documentary, Cheaper than the Ground.

Alisher Ilkhamov (SOAS)

Akramiya: fact or fiction?

Matteo Fumagalli (University of Edinburgh)

Andijan: Views from beyond the border’

Thursday, 11 May 2006 @ 17.30, Room G3, Main Building, SOAS

All are Welcome (seminars are free and open to the public).

Booking is not required.

For further information contact: Scott Newton (Centre Chair) [email protected] (Tel: 020 7898 4658) or Jane Savory [email protected] (Tel: 020 7898 4892)

School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H OXG

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Censorship of the media in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is in the top ten countries for censorship of the media, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, ahead of Syria, Belarus, China and Russia.

From the Committee to Protect Journalists

Leader: President Islam Karimov, elected 1991; presidential term extended by referendums in 1995 and again in 2002.

How censorship works: Karimov has re-established a Soviet-style dictatorship that relies on brutal political intimidation to silence journalists, human rights activists, and the political opposition. Karimov’s regime uses an informal system of state censorship to prevent the domestic media from reporting on widespread police torture, poverty, and an Islamic opposition movement. Uzbekistan has also distinguished itself among the former Soviet republics as the leading jailer of journalists, with six behind bars at the end of 2005.

Lowlight: After troops killed hundreds of antigovernment protesters in the city of Andijan in May 2005, Karimov’s regime cracked down on foreign media. The BBC, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Institute for War & Peace Reporting were forced to close their Tashkent bureaus. A dozen foreign correspondents and local reporters working for foreign media had to flee the country.

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ACLU Calls for U.S. Accountability Before the U.N. Committee Against Torture

From the American Civil Liberties Union (08/05/2006)

The ACLU’s report to the Committee Against Torture is available here

The ACLU’s petition is available here

GENEVA — Today the American Civil Liberties Union delivered a petition with more than 51,000 signatures calling for the enforcement of the universal prohibition against torture to the U.S. State Department delegation at the meeting of the U.N. Committee Against Torture in Geneva. The ACLU has been monitoring the committee proceedings and providing information about U.S. sponsored policies and practices of torture and abuse at home and abroad. The U.S. delegation denied on Friday that incidents of detainee abuse are systemic.

“Instead of denying the systemic abuse of detainees confirmed by its own documents, the U.S. government must own up to the truth and take full responsibility,” said Amrit Singh, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project who is currently observing the committee’s examination of the U.S. report in Geneva. “We hope that the Committee Against Torture will hold the government accountable for the torture and abuse of detainees both within the United States and abroad.”

Addressed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and delivered to John Bellinger, a Department of State legal advisor who is heading the U.S. delegation, the petition states: “Torture. Government kidnapping. Indefinite detention. These are not ideas we associate with the United States of America. They do not represent who we are as Americans. By promoting and condoning these practices in our military and intelligence forces, your administration has broken faith with the American values of freedom and fairness.”

The ACLU also expressed deep concern with many of the responses of the U.S. delegation to questions posed by committee members. In particular, the ACLU is concerned about the inadequacy of the measures taken to prevent torture and abuse, and the failure to hold military and civilian leaders accountable for the torture and inhuman treatment of persons in U.S. custody. In addition, the U.S. said that it can kidnap persons from outside the U.S. and transport them to third countries without violating the Convention. The ACLU charges that the U.S. has illegally rendered detainees to countries and places where torture and abuse are common, and that diplomatic assurances have failed to prevent their torture.

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One Year After Andijan: Uzbekistan Shuts Down the News

At the Frontline Club

Wednesday 10 May 2006 ‘ 7.30pm

Discussion: ‘One Year After Andijan: Uzbekistan Shuts Down the News’ Admission FREE

With Sharifjon Akhmedov, former BBC stringer and a live witness of the Andijan events; Steve Crawshaw, London Director, Human Rights Watch; and Andrew Stroehlein, Director of Media, International Crisis Group.

Moderated by the Guardian’s Jonathan Steele.

On 13 May, 2005, Uzbek government forces shot dead hundreds of unarmed protesters at a demonstration in eastern Andijan.The United Nations and other intergovernmental organisations documented the massacre, but the authorities continue to refuse an independent investigation into the events, and persecute those who seek such an enquiry. An all-out crackdown on civil society has targeted human rights defenders and journalists, and created an information vacuum inside and outside the country.

The government has either shut or forced the closure of the BBC, Radio Free Europe/Liberty, Deutsche Welle, and many international organisations ‘ the United Nations is the latest to come under attack. Numerous Uzbek journalists and human rights defenders have fled the country. A new media law puts Uzbek citizens who work for foreign news organisations without official accreditation at risk of imprisonment.

Freelance journalist Shahida Yakub travelled to Andijan a month after the massacre. She’ll show her video footage, which includes testimony from Andijan refugees and from Qabul Parpiev, the only surviving leader of the group that triggered the May 2005 protest.

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Jack Straw hits the road!

Jack Straw has finally hit the road and been forced out of his job as Foreign Secretary.

Straw has been removed from his post just eighteen months after Craig Murray began his high-profile campaign to expose the Foreign Secretary’s complicity in torture, and almost exactly a year after Craig’s audacious challenge in Blackburn. The move has come as a shock to many in the media, but will be less of a surprise to those familiar with the growing scandals over extraordinary rendition and torture.

Update (08/05/06): Speculation about the reasons for Straw’s removal is spreading in the media with briefings from different quarters.

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Invisible in Plain Sight: CIA Torture Techniques Go Mainstream

From Amnesty International

Critical loopholes in the McCain amendment show that the once-clandestine practice of torture is now an official weapon in the War on Terror.

Click for multimedia presentation

BY ALFRED W. MCCOY

Alfred W. McCoy is professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the author of several books, including the recently published “A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror,” “Closer Than Brothers” and “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.” He is also a member of Amnesty International USA.

Just before Christmas last, President Bush and Senator John McCain appeared in the Oval Office to announce an historic ban on torture by any U.S. agency, anywhere in the world. Looking straight into the cameras, the president declared with a steely gaze that this landmark legislation would make it ‘clear to the world that this government does not torture.’

This meeting was the culmination of a tangled legislative battle that had started six months before when Senator John McCain introduced an amendment to the must-pass Defense Appropriation Bill, calling for an absolute ban on ‘cruel, inhumane and degrading’ treatment. The White House fought back hard, sending Vice President Cheney to Capitol Hill for a wrecking effort so sustained, so determined that a Washington Post editorial branded him ‘The Vice President for Torture.’ At first, Cheney demanded that the amendment be dropped. The senator refused. Next, Cheney insisted on an exemption for the CIA. The senator stood his ground. Then, in a startling rebuke to the White House, the Senate passed the amendment last October by a 90-9 margin, a victory celebrated by Amnesty International and other rights groups. With the White House still threatening a veto, the appropriation gridlocked in an eyeball-to-eyeball standoff.

Then came that dramatic December 15th handshake between Bush and McCain, a veritable media mirage that concealed furious back-room maneuvering by the White House to undercut the amendment. A coalition of rights groups, including Amnesty International, had resisted the executive’s effort to punch loopholes in the torture ban but, in the end, the White House prevailed. With the help of key senate conservatives, the Bush administration succeeded in twisting what began as an unequivocal ban on torture into a legitimization of three controversial legal doctrines that the administration had originally used to justify torture right after 9/11.

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US: Government creating “climate of torture”

From Amnesty International

Amnesty International today made public a report detailing its concerns about torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees both in the US and in US detention sites around the world.

The report has already been sent to members of the UN Committee Against Torture, who will be examining the US compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on 5 and 8 May in Geneva. The Convention against Torture prohibits the use of torture in all circumstances and requires states to take effective legal and other measures to prevent torture and to provide appropriate punishment for those who commit torture.

The US is reportedly sending a 30-strong delegation to Geneva to defend its record. In its written report to the Committee, the US government asserted its unequivocal opposition to the use or practice of torture under any circumstances — including war or public emergency.

“Although the US government continues to assert its condemnation of torture and ill-treatment, these statements contradict what is happening in practice,” said Curt Goering, Senior Deputy Executive Director Of Amnesty International USA. “The US government is not only failing to take steps to eradicate torture it is actually creating a climate in which torture and other ill-treatment can flourish — including by trying to narrow the definition of torture.”

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Macedonia fails to convince EU investigative team

From Expatica

“This all looks like a poor B-movie,” said German Green MEP Cem Oezdemir, adding: “It doesn’t seem to be an appropriate behaviour for a country which wants to become an EU member.”

BRUSSELS – European Union lawmakers Thursday accused Macedonia of giving “very contradictory information” on what it knew about the alleged abduction by the CIA of a Lebanese-born German national on its territory.

“Macedonian officials had a well-prepared official version, but there were many contradictions, and many new questions arose during our trip,” said Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, a German member of the European Parliament.

Members of a European Parliament committee investigating alleged CIA activities in Europe last week went to Macedonia to quiz top government officials on what they knew about – and if they were involved – in a high-profile case of the US-practice of extraordinary rendition or the secret transfers of a suspect to a third country for interrogation, often under torture.

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UN Committee Considers the US Record on Torture During the “War on Terror”

Gabor Rona, International Legal Director for Human Rights First, is in Geneva observing the United States’ presentations to the Committee and will also brief the Committee on several issues of concern.

His daily bog on the proceedings can be read here

From the Financial Times

Washington to defend record on torture before UN

Washington will on Friday be called upon to defend its record on torture before an international forum for the first time since the September 11 attacks on the US sparked the ‘war on terror’.

The US has sent a 30-strong delegation to Geneva to answer questions from the United Nations committee against torture concerning abusive treatment of detainees in Guant’namo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In what one UN human rights official said was ‘the longest list of issues I have ever seen’, the committee has also asked the US to supply detailed information about secret detention centres, ‘extraordinary renditions’ and other apparent violations of the UN convention on torture it ratified in 1994.

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MEPs probe ‘CIA detention’ case

From BBC Online

European MPs have flown to Macedonia to investigate claims by a German citizen that he was seized by US agents and taken to Afghanistan for interrogation. The MEPs are members of a committee probing allegations about secret CIA flights and prisons in Europe.

On Wednesday, MEPs said the CIA had run more than 1,000 flights within the EU since 2001, often transporting terror suspects for questioning overseas. The US admits to some of the flights but denies condoning torture.

‘Extraordinary rendition’

The MEPs are in Macedonia until Friday in order to investigate the case of Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese origin. He was arrested in Macedonia in 2003. After that, what happened to him is not clear. He says he was handed over to the Americans and taken to Afghanistan, where he was interrogated and mistreated.

After several months he was taken to Albania and released without charge, he says. American officials did later acknowledge Mr Masri was mistaken for someone else and had been wrongly detained. He is now suing the CIA and the Bavarian state prosecutor is investigating his claims.

The MEPs will meet the Macedonian prime minister and other senior officials. However, the BBC’s Alix Kroeger in Brussels says Macedonia is balancing its interests. It has begun applying for EU membership but it is also keen to show itself to be an ally of the US in the war on terror, she says.

MEPs’ investigation

A European parliament report said many EU states had ignored the hundreds of CIA flights that had used their airports. The report’s author, Italian Socialist MEP Claudio Fava, singled out Sweden, Italy and Bosnia, which is not an EU member, for particular criticism. A string of former detainees have come forward with stories alleging kidnap and transport by the US for interrogation in third countries – a process known as “extraordinary rendition”. Some have provided detailed accounts of alleged torture carried out in secret prisons outside EU or US jurisdiction.

Mr Fava accused European governments of breaching the Chicago aviation convention, under which all flights used for police purposes have to declare their route, destination, the names of crew and passengers. None had been asked to do so by any European government. Moreover, the flight paths, confirmed by the European air safety organisation Eurocontrol, “seem rather bizarre”, he told the BBC.

According to Eurocontrol, the Boeing plane used for the abduction of Mr Masri flew on another occasion, between September 22-23, 2003, from Kabul to Poland to Romania to Morocco and to the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Mr Fava said. “It is hard to think that those stopovers were used simply to refuel,” he said.

The committee has until next January to complete its investigation.

The BBC’s Oana Lungescu in Brussels says the focus of the investigation will now shift to the possible existence of secret detention centres in Europe. The European Parliament has uncovered no evidence so far, and neither has the Council of Europe, the human rights body also investigating the allegations.

Last year, Human Rights Watch said such centres were based in Poland and Romania – but both countries have strenuously denied any involvement, as have all the other European governments.

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Voting tomorrow? London Strategic Voter calls for a decisive turnout

Click to find out more about Strategic Voting in the May 4th elections in London

Anti-New Labour tactical voting by former Labour voters, and supporters of all other parties, looks set to deliver a local election result in London that will contribute significantly to sweeping Tony Blair out of 10 Downing Street.

As one indication of the difficulites that now face Tony Blair, the London Strategic Voter www.strategicvoter.org.uk website registered about 10,000 hits in the pre-election month of April, and interest has continued to grow rapidly in the days leading up to the vote tomorrow.

“If opponents of the war unite and vote tactically for the strongest challenger to New Labour the party of government could be defeated in every London borough. It is the first time the internet has been used to encourage and co-ordinate large-scale tactical voting in a London election.

Simply by typing in their postcode on the website, Londoners can find out which party stands the best chance of beating New Labour in their council ward. The interactive website will be a centre for vote-swapping between supporters of different parties in different boroughs, so that the power of tactical voting to create change can be exploited to the full.

London Strategic Voter spokesman Richard Wilson: ‘May 4th is a referendum on whether the voters want Tony Blair to stay or to go now. We want him to go.”

See also Blair at the voter’s mercy

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Craig Murray on receiving the Samuel Adams Award

The Samuel Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence is awarded by a panel of former CIA operatives and analysts. Before the award was given Ray McGovern’s read the following citation:

As U.K. Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004 Mr. Murray learned that the intelligence authorities of the U.S. and U.K. were receiving and using information extracted by the most sadistic forms of torture. An aside, yesterday evening Jeremy Skahill referred to Thomas Murtant [phonetic], no stranger to this upper West side of New York, and Murtant said that we must identify with those being burned. This was during Vietnam. Mr. Murray decided that as a matter of conscience he had to speak for those being boiled boiled alive in Uzbekistan. This is no exaggeration, there are photos, there are coronary reports, there are documentary pieces of evidence showing this.

Continuing with the citation. Mr. Murray protested strongly to London, to no avail. Mr. Murray stands out as one who did not forfeit his moral compass to his government or to his career, he recognized that civilized society have long since recognized torture

as an intolerable affront to the inherent human right to physical integrity and personal dignity. His strong moral stance got him forced out of the British foreign office, but he has no regrets for there are more important things than career.

We look forward to early publication of his book “Murder in Sumarkund” now banned in Britain. Mr. Murray’s light has pierced a thick cloud of denial and deception. Now hear this, now hear this U.S. government workers and U.K. as well. You who can see a moral imperative in putting truth and justice above government regulations used to hide truth and to promote injustice. Mr. Murray has set a courageous example for those officials of the coalition of the

willing who have first hand knowledge of the inhuman practices involved in the so-called war on terror, but who have not yet been able to find their voice.

Now unlike the Nobel Prize we regret that no monetary award is connected with the Sam Adams award. I’m tempted to say that the rewards for such courage are out of this world literally, but I’ll let that go by. Mr. Murray has been ostracized in the U.K. and he has

no job, but we have something for him that is tangible and the symbolism will not be lost on you. I’m going to ask Ann Wright one of our Sam Adams Associates for integrity and intelligence to present to Craig Murray what we call the Sam Adams Associates corner brightener candlestick for he has certainly shined light in the darkest dungeons of torture in this world.

Craig Murray replies:

“Thank you Ann, and thank you to the associates of Samuel Adams. I’m deeply grateful and deeply touched. I am especially grateful for the candlestick because since I lost my job I can’t afford to pay the electricity bill. I will only say a very few brief words because I am testifying in an hour or so’s time so you will see quite enough of me. But I’m absolutely delighted to receive the award which celebrates a great man, Sam Adams, and which has been received by so many people who in many cases were much braver and more honorable than I.

I would like to say something about the advance of evil and how easily it advances. I genuinely at no stage felt I was doing anything either heroic or exceptional. When I came across cases of people being boiled alive, cases of daughters being raped in front of their fathers, cases of torture of children, and the fact that we were receiving intelligence from those torture sessions, it seemed to me axiomatic that anyone brought up in the United States or the United Kingdom would believe their overriding and only duty was to stop it. And, perhaps naively, when I started trying to stop it internally, I actually believed that this must be the work of renegade people at lower levels and that once senior politicians in the UK and US knew what was happening, they would stop it. I was quickly disillusioned. I

discovered this part of a wider international policy of the use of torture in the pursuit of the war on terror. It was a terrible moment for me. I discovered that the system and the country I’d served my whole life didn’t stand for what I believed it did. And I went to meetings with colleagues of mine. People I had known for over 20 years. Ordinary nice people who were setting down on paper strategies by which what we were doing could be said not to circumvent the UN convention against torture. And I was looking at them thinking, “I know you. I know you. We’ve drunk together. We’ve played golf together. You are setting up justification for torture. How did this

come about?”

This may sound exaggerated. But it isn’t. At that moment I understood how some civil servant ended up writing out the orders for cattle trucks to go to Aushwitz, and felt they were only “doing their job.” And ladies and gentlemen, that is what we face now: the flight toward fascism.

I am delighted to receive the award. Delighted to make the acquaintance of such good people. I find it’s a shame that we have now reached a stage where people like Ray, and Ann, and Scott Ritter, the real patriots who stand for the values that were supposed to underpin the states we live in, the real patriots, are those who are condemned as traitors, and people who dress themselves in flag of patriotism are the real traitors to Western values. Thank you very much indeed.”

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Petition to free Malcolm Kendall-Smith

Flight Lieutenant Dr Malcolm Kendall-Smith – an officer in the Royal Air Force who refused to follow orders to serve in Basra (and thus kill innocent Iraqi nationals) in the UK’s attack & invasion of Iraq on the grounds of their patent illegality, was recently found guilty and sentenced to several months imprisonment.

You may already be aware, but an organisation called Military Families Against the War have started a petition, which you can sign online, condemning his sentence, its grounds and demanding his immediate release. It can be found here:

http://www.petitiononline.com/MKSApril/petition.html

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Speaking the unspeakable: Craig Murray on University speaking tour in the US

Following his appearance at the Europena Parliament enquiry (see previous posts), Craig is now on a speaking tour in the US.

On the April 26 he spoke at Harvard University Law School as part of a program endorsed by Harvard Law Students for Peace & HLS NLG Student Chapter and then moved on to to Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the 27th.

On May 3rd he is due to speak at UC Berkeley, followed by Stanford University on the 4th, UCSC on the 5th, Sonoma State University of California on the 6th and University of Chicago/Northwestern University on the 9th.

For further details of the National Campus Speaking Tour and other speakers see Speaking the Unspeakable

More on the event at UCSC is given below.

From UC Santa Cruz Currents

Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, will speak on U.S. and British sanctioned torture in Uzbekistan prisons on Friday, May 5, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Stevenson College Fireside Lounge. Admission is free and open to the public.

Craig Murray served as British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004.

Murray was fired after he released classified documents affirming the existence of torture and U.S. and British complicity in it. Last fall, he was a key witness at the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity by the Bush Administration held in New York City.

UCSC psychology professor Craig Haney, an authority on U.S. prisons, the death penalty, and torture, will comment on Ambassador Murray’s presentation. An open discussion will follow. The event will be moderated by feminist studies professor Bettina Aptheker.

For more information on Murray, go to www.democracynow.org for the text of an interview with Amy Goodman on January 16, 2006. This event is sponsored by Faculty Against War, Cultural Studies, the Institute for Advanced Feminist Research, and the Santa Cruz County Chapter of the ACLU.

And for another view on this forthcoming event go here

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UK fights to safeguard immunity of officials accused of torturing Britons

From The Guardian (17.04.06)

The government will argue in Britain’s highest court next week that foreign officials who commit torture abroad should be immune from civil action in the English courts.

Christopher Greenwood QC, the international lawyer who advised the attorney-general that the Iraq war was lawful, will argue for the British government, which has intervened in support of Saudi Arabian officials accused of detaining and torturing four Britons in Saudi jails.

Saudi Arabia is appealing to the House of Lords against a court of appeal ruling that, while the state is immune from compensation claims for torture, individual officials who inflict it are not. Civil rights lawyers said the ruling in October 2004 was a historic victory, ending immunity for torturers abroad from claims in the English courts.

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