Monthly Archives: March 2008


Not a day longer

The Unsubscribe campaign at AI (UK) is asking people to pressure their MPs to reject the latest UK government attempt to extend executive detention without trial. This Tuesday proposals to extend pre-charge detention get their second reading in Parliament.

On 1 April (no, its sadly true…) proposals are being put in front of Parliament to extend the time people can be held without charge in the UK to 42 days – in other words the government want to be able lock people up for six weeks without having to say why. A clear and unnecessary erosion of habeus corpus.

The good news is that there are a lot of MPs and Lords prepared to fight this – but they need your encouragement and support. Others may be persuaded to make a stand if their constituents demand it.

So here’s what Amnesty suggest you can do:

1 Write to your MP and ask them to stand up for our civil rights and oppose this draconian extension of pre-charge detention. Simply pop your postcode into http://writetothem.com and the site will channel your mail to your own MP. It is important that you write in your own words (inspiration here).

2 Get everyone you know to sign their petition http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/notadaylonger

3 Spread the word everywhere you can on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, blogs and anywhere and everywhere you are active online.

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The Iraq Surge… Again

With fighting surging in Basra and other parts of Iraq, the Government is, yet again, squirming out of holding an enquiry into how this whole mess got started. With 4,000 dead Americans and a current best estimate of 1,200,000 dead Iraqi’s, Tony Blair is taking a little time out from solving the Middle East conflict to to talk about ‘Faith and Globilisation’ at Westminster Abbey. Marvellous.

To keep track of some of the people who are actually responsible for starting our involvement, its worth a look at http://www.holdthemtoaccount.com/.

To get an update on how others in the inner circle of war initiators has prospered read Catherine Bennett here. However, even there one of the biggest beneficiaries of the WMD scam is not mentioned. John Scarlett, was promoted in May 2004 to be head of MI6. This followed his role in overseeing the ‘intelligence’ behind the dodgy dossier as chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Transparent corruption at the highest level.

This is definetely a long term Project for the New “choose your own” Century. So, if you are still at school and thinking of joining up for this never ending jolly foreign colonial escapade, better check this out first: http://www.beforeyousignup.info

Update: A British soldier was killed in Iraq in the early hours of this morning.

Update 2: Sounding out Tony Blair is going to try and ensure his appearance at Westminster Abbey is not a quiet event…

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Five Years of Progress

Amnesty International describes the curent state of play:

Carnage and despair in Iraq

Five years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the country is still in disarray. The human rights situation is disastrous, a climate of impunity has prevailed, the economy is in tatters and the refugee crisis continues to escalate.

Seumas Milne sums it up brilliantly in The Guardian:

There must be a reckoning for this day of infamy

The problem in Iraq, we’re now told, was a lack of preparation, or the wrong kind of planning, or mistakes in implementation. If only, say the neocons, we had put our man Ahmad Chalabi in charge from the start, the Iraqis wouldn’t have felt so humiliated. If only we hadn’t dissolved the army, the pragmatists insist, the insurgency would never have taken off. If only the Brits had been running the show, mutter the old Whitehall hands, all would have been different. The problem, it turns out, was not the invasion and occupation of a sovereign Arab oil state on a tide of official deceit, but the way it was carried out…

…For the future, so long as the disaster of Iraq is put down to mistakes or lack of planning, the real lessons will not be learned, but repeated – as appears to be happening now in Afghanistan. Gordon Brown has at last promised a full Iraq inquiry when British troops are no longer in the firing line. But any more delay to a proper accounting of what has taken place – including, as the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said at the weekend, the nature of the US-British relationship – will only further corrode the political system. The disaster of Iraq has at least had the effect of demonstrating the limits of imperial power and restraining further US attacks. The danger is, however, that next time they’ll just try and do it differently – without the mistakes.

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The Zimbabwe Elections

On the 29th March Zimbabwe will go to the polls. From the outside its a complex thing to get to grips with. However, one thing appears plain. Change is badly needed and Zimbabawe needs fair elections, and for Robert Mugabe to loosen his grip and hand over power in a peaceful transition. But will it happen?

Fay Chung is one independent candidate who has decided to run in this potentially risky election process, and instead of supporting the MDC has thrown in her lot with Simba Makoni. Her international support blog is now running at http://zimbabwe-now.blogspot.com/ and provides some interesting alternative views.

For news on the situation in Zimbabwe try http://www.irinnews.org/

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The case of Khaled al-Maqtari

Amnesty International has made a fresh call on the United States government to make known the whereabouts of people subjected to its secret detention operation in the ‘war on terror’.

The call came as Amnesty International released a detailed 48-page report on the case of a Yemeni man held in total isolation by his US captors, including information on how he was allegedly severely tortured – with a battery of physical and psychological methods – and how he was moved from prison to prison in three different countries (including to a secret ‘black site’ detention facility) over a period of nearly three years.

The report also includes an account of how British ‘Special Forces’ personnel in Iraq were involved in investigating the detained man (though not in his interrogation or torture) and how these apparently did nothing to raise the alarm about the his torture at the hands of American interrogators.

Read more…

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Five years on

From Stop the War

Next Saturday 15 March, the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, will see a day of global

protests. The London demonstration will assemble at 12 noon in Trafalgar Square and march down Whitehall on a route which will surround Parliament. The rally in Trafalgar Square will

highlight the disasters of five years and more of war.

Speakers will include Tony Benn, ex-SAS trooper Ben Griffin, representatives from Palestine, Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas, Lindsey German from Stop the War Coalition and film director Nick Broomfield. Joining us on the stage will be Omar Deghayes, recently released from the Guantanamo torture centre, where he was held for five years.

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Rendition and Torture: US and UK Governments Move to Suppress Evidence and Opposition

In late February, Ben Griffin, former member of the SAS, released a statement on the attempts by the UK government to suppress his testimony on British involvement in rendition and torture during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“As of 1940hrs 29/02/08 I have been placed under an injunction preventing me from speaking publicly and publishing material gained as a result of my service in UKSF (SAS).

I will be continuing to collect evidence and opinion on British Involvement in extraordinary rendition, torture, secret detentions, extra judicial detention, use of evidence gained through torture, breaches of the Geneva Conventions, breaches of International Law and failure to abide by our obligations as per UN Convention Against Torture. I am carrying on regardless “

Meanwhile, the non-debate, being held in the US on the definitions of torture and ill treatment were placed in context by an ex-prisioner of the Japanese during world war II , Eric Lomax (The Railway Man). Having survived waterboarding he is left in no doubt as to what this means and its legal status.

The American Civil Liberties Union comment on the moves by George Bush to retain torture for legal use by the US:

In a brazen move signaling a callous disregard for human rights, President Bush today vetoed the 2008 Intelligence Authorization Act largely due to a provision that would have applied the Army Field Manual (AFM) on Interrogations to all government agencies, including the CIA.

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