Death of a 12-year-old boy lays bare the plight of Iran’s Ahwazi minority

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Death of a 12-year-old boy lays bare the plight of Iran’s Ahwazi minority

Ahwazi children walk alongside a canal. A 12-year-old boy has been the latest casualty of Ahwaz’s continued state of poverty and struggle. Image: Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0

A 12-year-old Ahwazi boy was reported dead by suicide on the evening of July 24, 2018, in the Republic of Iran, sparking outrage over the discrimination and hardship faced by the country’s minority Ahawzi population.

Suicide rates and cases of self-immolation continue to rise among the Ahwazi, an Arab community who live in Iran’s oil and gas-rich southern provinces and constitute 10 percent of the country’s population. Viewed as inferior because of their ethnicity, most Ahwazis exist below the poverty line, with limited or no access to employment, education, healthcare, or basic utilities.

The mother of the young boy, who was identified only as Meysam, returned to the family home in Abadan, in the province of Khuzestan, on Tuesday evening to find that her 12-year-old son had hanged himself. The boy was the eldest of two children, the other a five-year-old girl.

The mother, the sole wage-earner of the household, worked as a housekeeper and cleaner and struggled to provide for herself and her children. According to activists, shortly before her son’s death, the woman had sold some of the family’s meager possessions, including her son’s mobile phone and bicycle, in order to pay outstanding rent.

Meysam’s suicide is the latest to afflict the Ahwazi Arab community. In the past couple of years, a high number of Ahwazi Arab young men have protested through acts of suicidal self-immolation, often in front of the oil and gas companies’ headquarters and government offices.

In an interview with Ahwaz monitor in April 2017, the Ahwazi activist Karim Khalaf Dohimi pondered the reasons behind those events:

There is a surge of high incidence of suicide across Al-Ahwaz due to poverty and the high rate of unemployment as well as the closure of the Ahwazi Arab free market that led to Ahwazi youth and especially those who are married to commit suicide. The suicide attempts also increased in rural areas in Ahwaz since 90 percent of Ahwazi Arab people in rural areas are suffering from poverty and very low income. They are overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture and fishing for their food but these people have been left with no alternative source of income after their entire arable lands on the banks of the Karoon River were forcibly confiscated by regime officials with very low compensation.

There is, however, an economic crisis occurring across Iran, and there is a general upswing of suicide rates across the country. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and various studies led inside of Iran reported by Iranian news agencies such as the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), suicide rates in Iran are on the rise. In 2014, the WHO reported that 5,3 out of 100,000 Iranians committed suicide.

On social media, in reaction to the harsh news, one Iranian remarked on the sad state of the country reflected in both Meysam’s suicide, alongside similar deaths amongst another Ahwazi boy of 17 years old alongside another 15 year old girl from an Arab dominated city of Iran.

vania🏳@bigvania88

حکومت جمهوری اسلامی تو یک هفته؛
۱. خودکشی پسر ۱۲ ساله آبادانی
۲. خودسوزی پسر ۱۷ ساله اهوازی
۳. دختر ۱۵ ساله‌ی شهرک الغدیر

+ هر سه به دلایل معیشتی خودکشی کردن. چه شعارهایی قبل از ۵۷ دادند، حالا بعد از چهل سال همون مردم دارن‌ برای بقا مبارزه میکنند.

The Islamic Republic of Iran in one week

  1. The suicide of a 12 year old boy from Abadan
  2. The suicide of a 17 year old boy from Ahwaz
  3. A 15 year old girl from the city of al-Ghadir

+ all 3 killed themselves because of the struggle for a livelihood. What slogans were there before 1979, and now after 40 years of it? #become_united

In Ahwaz, the region’s natural wealth has been turned into a source of suffering for its people. On one hand, the Ahwazi bears the brunt of the environmental pollution caused by the oil and gas drilling operations; on the other, profits from operations in the region bolster the authorities’ security apparatus, who are employed to crush any resistance in the region.

The number one cause of suicide is untreated depression. Depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. You can get help from confidential support lines for the suicidal and those in emotional crisis. Visit Befrienders.org to find a suicide prevention helpline in your country.

At Least 25 Killed In Nicaragua Protests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

#SOSNicaragua: At least 25 killed in Nicaragua protests, including one journalist, say human rights groups

Protesters killed in Nicaragua, confirmed by independent news site Confidencial. Photo compilation by Confidencial. Individual photos via various social media channels.

In Nicaragua, what began as demonstrations against social security reforms have become a national outcry against corruption, censorship and overall repression.

In just five days of demonstrations, the government has carried out a violent crackdown. While state sources are reporting a death toll of 10, human rights and protest groups estimate that at least 25 people have been killed in protests, with many more injured, and dozens detained or disappeared. One journalist and one police officer are among the dead.

Multiple TV networks have been banned from broadcasting the demonstrations. Access to Confidencial, a local independent news site reporting on the protester death tollwas faltering shortly before this article was published.

On April 18, the government – led by President Daniel Ortega and First Lady Rosario Murillo, who is also the vice president – unilaterally adopted an executive decree reducing the pension allowance by 5% and implementing additional social security taxes to employers and employees.

In response, retirees and students organized peaceful demonstrations to voice their disagreement but were met with anti-riot police forces and members of the Sandinista Youth parastatal group. Chaos erupted from there. Clashes have since turned violent and some protesters have reported that police are using live ammunition.

Video journalist Ángel Gahona was shot dead on April 21 while live broadcasting a protest through Facebook Live.

Sandra Cuffe@Sandra_Cuffe

Nicaraguan journalist Angel Eduardo Gahona spent the last four minutes of his life covering youth protest and incoming riot police tonight in Bluefields. He was streaming live on facebook when he was shot and killed. This was his last broadcast: https://www.facebook.com/ElMeridianoBluefields/videos/1525050757617208/ 

Other journalists have been attacked and assaulted, and have had their equipment stolen. In parallel, at least three TV channels were banned from reporting on the protests.

In a country where media freedom is fleeting, censorship has not deterred Nicaraguans, who are live broadcasting, tweeting and video blogging about the crisis on the ground.

Hashtags such as #SOSNicaragua, #SOSINSS and #QueSeRindaTuMadre have gone viral on Twitter and Facebook, and raw videos are being uploaded on Dropbox. Through online activism, Nicaraguans are pleading for international support — though they are specifically asking the US not to intervene.

Demonstrators in Managua. Screenshot from Euronews video.

While college students are the face of the movement, Nicaraguans from across the political spectrum are actively supporting them, starting with feminist and peasant groups, retirees, and students’ parents. This is why demonstrators stress they are not linked to a specific political party, but are making demands in the name of human rights and democracy in Nicaragua. The protestors call themselves “the self-organized, self-summoned.”

Journalist Wilfredo Miranda filmed a demonstration where protesters ironically shout “here is the minority,” in reference to Vice-President Murillo’s belief that the outcry only represents a minority of Nicaraguans.

Wilfredo Miranda Aburto@PiruloAr

“Aquí está la minoría”, le responden a Rosario Murillo

Since students have born the brunt of police killings and aggression, civilians are gathering supplies and medicines for them in universities and in the Managua Cathedral, as the Church backs the upheaval.

In a video posted to Facebook by Franklin Leonel, we see students and doctors caring for the wounded in university halls. In a caption, he writes:

They are not criminals!!! #SOSNicaragua they’re killing our students!!!

The government’s official position has been shifting in public statements, but the state-enforced violence seems to continue.

President Ortega publicly ignored the protests for three days, before making an appearance on April 21. Military troops multiplied on the streets thereafter. Later, he declared that he was open to a dialogue with the private sector, who accepted the invitation under certain conditions, such as inviting other sectors of society at the table. President Ortega did not reply and instead repealed the social security reform altogether on April 22.

But the protests now have expanded beyond the cause of the social security reform. Demonstrators are demanding justice for those who have been killed by police and military gunfire, and are demanding an end to government corruption. Some are calling for the overall dissolution of Ortega’s government.

On Facebook, protest supporter Leonor Zúniga posted a video explaining the situation:

…the people are tired. It’s been 11 years that we’ve been in a very authoritarian [state], where we’ve been constantly repressed, where state decisions are made in secret, where we’re never taken into account.

[…]

I think that [the social security reform] was the last straw.

The now-repealed social security reform was, as Zúniga says, the last straw in a decline of government accountability, economic conditions, environmental degradation (including recent wildfires in the Indio Maíz nature reserve) and democratic institutions at large.

Nicaragua, a country of six million people, lived under the Somoza authoritarian regime until the Sandinista Revolution toppled the government in 1979. In the 1980s, a civil war raged between the Sandinista regime and the “Contras”, opposition fighters financed and armed by the US government. Daniel Ortega, a former guerrillero and member of the Sandinista National Liberal Front (FSLN in Spanish) was elected president in 1985. He remained in office until he lost a reelection bid in 1990, which brought about the end of the civil war.

Ortega was reelected in 2007 and has remained in power ever since. His tenure has been marked by the abolition of presidential term limits, an increasingly muzzled press, opaque business deals, and direct control over the police, the military and both the judiciary and legislative branches of government.

A Romanian in the UK: ‘Undesirable Migrant’ Or ‘Welcomed Contributor’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

A Romanian in the UK: On the Thin Line Between ‘Undesirable Migrant’ and ‘Welcomed Contributor’

Alexandra Bulat, photo from her official page at UCL, used with her permission.

What is the human side of the Brexit, the UK ‘divorce’ from the EU? Numerous controversies remain, as well as the need to fix the system in order to avoid further suffering for millions of people caught in a bureaucratic uncertainty or facing arbitrary and unjust rules and regulations.

According to the newspaper The Sun, around 3.6 million EU nationals currently live in the UK, including nearly 600,000 children. Among them, eastern Europeans have been specially branded by Leavers (those who support UK’s separation from Europe) as “unwanted” immigrants. They often are tagged as “benefit scroungers, here to steal jobs”. This sentiment is not new, as they already felt like second-class citizens because of working restrictions initially put on migrants from central and eastern Europe when they joined the EU. Arguably, UK’s decision to open its labor market to these countries is what led the voters to become so opposed to migration from the EU.

Photographer Deividas Buivydas shared some captivating images from Boston, Lincolnshire, where tension against eastern Europeans is evident and post-Brexit anxiety is bubbling. This town registered the highest Leave vote in Britain, at 75.6 per cent and was dubbed “the capital of Brexit”. It also is home of the largest proportion of Eastern Europeans in the country.

The life story of Alexandra Bulat, a young scholar from Romania who made a career at top UK academic institutions also offers a telling example, as she referred to a famous phrase by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, uttered in January 2017:

I am a Romanian PhD student, teaching assistant & researcher. One of @theresa_may‘s praised “brightest and the best” whose “contributions are welcome”.

This I want to share my story. Until I got to this point, I was in many ways an “undesirable migrant” ⬇️

Ms. Bulat shared her story in a series of much-retweeted tweets which are summarized bellow.

My first experience in the UK was in 1997. My father got a temporary [National Health Service] contract as there was a skill shortage. I attended the hospital’s nursery for 7 months but my family chose to return to Romania. My mum was unemployed and my father had limited rights to work.

Meanwhile my parents got divorced. I attended a free school and skipped many classes in the last college years. Grew up mainly with “working class kids” sometimes doing dangerous things. But I achieved the highest grade in the Romanian Baccalaureate and this opened many doors.

I returned to the UK at 18 to study. I passed an IELTS exam but this was not enough to understand even half of what my British colleagues were saying. Should I have been “sent back” then as I could not properly engage in English conversations in my first few months?

Three years later I graduated with a first class degree from . It was a fun but difficult time. My mum came looking for work when I was in my second year and we shared a studio room at some point. I worked various part time jobs. Met my British partner.

In 2015 I received offers from both  and  to do my Masters. In the summer I worked as an intern in London to save money. We had no savings and definitely not enough to pay the 10,000 pounds tuition fee. Should I have given up my dreams?

I borrowed money from the bank for my fee and accepted my Master of Philosophy (MPhil) offer at Cambridge. I had barely enough to cover the first term of college accommodation and no idea what to do next. My mum was made redundant and things were not going well.

Meanwhile one of my colleagues was shocked to hear my experience of college – “So you did not have prep classes for Oxbridge interviews???”. Nope. This is maybe why I failed my Oxford interview for undergrad despite passing the written test. Oh, also my poor English.

I read my MPhil handbook saying we should not do any paid work. I did paid work throughout my MPhil and finished with 72% overall. Meanwhile mum got a job and things got back to normal around graduation time, after a year of familiarizing myself with Sainsbury’s Basic [a supermarket chain offering low cost produce].

Should me and my mum have been deported due to insufficient resources in those times? “If you do not make a net contribution you should be sent home”, some claim. Life is not a tick-box as the immigration categories are.

Alexandra Bulat. Courtesy photo used with her permission.

In 2016 after a summer of work on a temp contract I accepted my fully funded PhD at . This was the best thing that happened to me. I was sad to leave Cambridge uni but I could not have afforded a PhD with no funding. Funding is very competitive in social sciences.

My mum’s job was again subject to restructuring in 2017. After a few months of job searching she decided to leave to Germany. She also was concerned about  after Brexit. They are not guaranteed yet. She is working in Germany now, the UK lost a skilled professional.

In 2018 all things go well. I speak fluent English, have a lovely British partner and I am halfway through my PhD. But I, like all  and  are still . Our reduced  are not secured in case of no deal.

In the mind of many people rudely commenting on  posts such as the stories shared in ‘s articles, we should be sent back home unless we are a constantly producing tax payment machine. It is important to realize the complexity of migrant stories. According to these people’s logic, my mum should have been deported every time she lost her job and I should not have been allowed in with little English or “insufficient resources”. We have not claimed a single benefit all these years, not even job-seeker’s allowance.

To everyone that tells me to stop criticizing settled status because “I will be fine, cos I am a PhD student and skilled migrant”, I am saying: no. I will not close the gate behind me just because I managed to become a “desirable migrant”.  were promised for all.

On 1 June 2016, few weeks ahead of the Brexit Referendum, the “Vote Leave” campaign issued a statement by Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, and Gisela Stuart, claiming that:

Second, there will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.

In October of the same year, David Davis, Brexit Secretary tried to downplay the concerns of people like Ms. Bulat’s mother, by claiming that “Five out of six migrants who are here either already have indefinite leave to remain or ​will have it by the time we depart the [EU].” However, the UK fact-checking service FullFact concluded:

This is not fully substantiated by the evidence and will depend on the arrangements we make upon leaving the EU. Whatever happens, EU citizens are not going to be forced to leave en masse.

FullFact also noted other points of uncertainty, which depend on the outcome of the UK-EU negotiations which are still in the works, and are supposed to end by March 2019. For instance, the right to permanent residence under EU law may or may not survive Brexit and might depend on meeting criteria for permanent residence such as “whether they’re working, looking for work, self-employed, studying or self-sufficient…”

Instead, automatic grant of all existing rights promised by Vote Leave is still uncertainty for both EU migrants in UK and British in EU27. Many areas remain unclear and are under negotiations such as some family reunification rights and political rights (EU migrants can vote in local elections only)…

recent protest by the group Highly Skilled Migrants, which says it represents over 600 doctors, engineers, IT professionals, teachers and their families in Britain attempted to raise profile of ‘discriminatory’ Home Office rules. The ‘harsh migration policy’ affects both immigrants from ‘overseas’, and those coming from the EU member countries. Latest data indicates large drop in the number of EU nationals seeking jobs in the UK due to Brexit uncertainty.

Ms. Bulat concluded her story with the following tweet:

We need a solution to protect all , just as promised by Vote Leave. No more “bad migrant”-“good migrant” division games. People’s lives do not fit in a tickbox. Politicians should listen to more real migrant stories to understand.

Murder of Investigative Journalist Ján Kuciak Shakes Slovak Society

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Murder of Investigative Journalist Ján Kuciak Shakes Slovak Society

Killed Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak. Photo by Aktuality.sk, used with permission.

On February 25, Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiance Martina Kušnírová were found shot dead in their home about 65 km east of the capital Bratislava. The murders caused widespread shock and protests throughout the country.

Kuciak, 27, had worked for the news site Aktuality.sk. More than a week after the murder, there has been no headway in the official investigation.

According to BBC, between 10,000 and 20,000 people took to the streets across Slovakia on Friday in protest vigils in Kuciak’s memory, with some calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico, the leader of the political party Direction – Social Democracy (SMER-SD).

Thousands of people are marching in Bratislava. This is huge reaction on murder of Slovak investigative journalist and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. It’s probably biggest demonstration since independence of Slovakia.
(Photo credits: Tomáš Benedikovič, @dennikN)

Police and people close to Kuciak suspect his death was related to his work. His most recent investigation, which had yet to be published, looked at connections between Slovak government politicians and Italian mafia interests in eastern Slovakia, aimed at defrauding European Union (EU) subsidies for agriculture.

Several days after the murder, Slovak police arrested but then released Italian citizens Antonino Vadala, Bruno Vadala, and Pietro Catroppa who all are allegedly connected to the large-scale Italian organized crime group ‘Ndrangheta, which Kuciak was investigating prior to his death.

Various independent voices online since have pointed to connections between the ruling party and the Italian mafia.

Some comments have focused on Antonino Vadala, who once referred to Slovakia’s ruling SMER party as “our party”. Shortly thereafter, multiple politicians released statements saying they had no connection to Vadala.

Blogger Jiří Ščobák observed while lead parliamentarian Andrej Danko had posted an image of a candle on his Facebook page, to honor Kuciak, he had in fact previously been friends with Vadala. Ščobák juxtaposed a screenshot of the recent post, alongside a screenshot showing that they had been Facebook friends.

Connections with the Italian mafia is a taboo topic for Slovak media. Kuciak continued investigating them after journalist Ivan Mego from Plus 7 Dní weekly got orders from his superiors to stop his inquires on this topic, and was sacked in February.

Ján Kuciak’s colleagues from Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and his outlet, Aktuality.sk, defied this norm and decided to posthumously publish the last story he was working on.

A former topless model who was hired unexpectedly by Slovakia’s Prime Minister turned out to be the former business partner of a man with ties to the ‘Ndrangheta. /3

You can kill a journalist, but you will never kill the story. We are proud to publish Jan’s last, unfinished investigation. https://www.occrp.org/en/amurderedjournalistslastinvestigation/ 

A Murdered Journalist’s Last Investigation – OCCRP

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) is a global network of investigative journalists.

occrp.org

Kuciak was not the kind of investigative journalist who worked with many secret sources. His style was rooted primarily in collecting and connecting information from public archives.

Last September, he filed a criminal complaint because of verbal threats from a known Slovak entrepreneur.

The tax office about which assassinated journalist Jan Kuciak was investigating is up in flames today. Below, evidence burning: https://twitter.com/karelpeka/status/968442142472462336 

Slovak left-wing populist Prime Minister Róbert Fico is known for his verbal attacks on journalists, calling them “hyenas”, “dirty anti-Slovak prostitutes” and even “toilet spiders”.

Nevertheless, just two days after Kuciak’s killing, he put up a reward of one million euros from the state budget for information about the murder.

How is it even possible for PM to take 1 million € from the state treasury in CASH and put it on the table during a press conference? What law allowed him to do this with taxpayers’ money?

Two people with close ties to Fico figured prominently in Kuciak’s stories — Mária Trošková, a former girlfriend of Antonino Vadala, and Viliam Jasaň, who served as the chief of crisis management and state security, and had ties with a Vadala’s company.

Trošková and Jasaň have voluntarily left their posts in the government, pending the conclusion of the investigation of the journalist’s murder. When asked to explain their departure, which they say is temporary, both cited pressure from the media, arguing that “their names are abused in political struggle against Fico”.

Blogger Milan Ftorek pointed to contradictions in the PM’s public behavior:

Has the Slovak Prime Minister gone mad? …during one press conference he managed to both play the part of a person who wants to expose Kuciak’s killers, but at the same time he defended those who were the subject of Kuciak’s investigations?

Newspapers, political opposition voices and many members of the general public reacted with outrage, organizing memorials, marches and protests in Slovakiaand abroad, honoring Kuciak and Kušnírová.

#AllForJan webpage set up by Aktuality.sk commemorating Jan Kuciak (27), and Martina Kušnírová (27)

Kuciak’s media outlet Aktuality.sk is using the hashtag #AllForJan, while many have simply been using a hashtag with the journalist’s name .

Turkish Journalists Sentenced to Life in Prison

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

‘They Fear Pens, Not Guns’: Turkish Journalists Sentenced to Life in Prison

Demonstrators on World Press Freedom Day in Turkey, 2013. Image by Amnesty International Turkey.

After spending just over a year behind bars without charge, Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel was released from a Turkish jail on February 16. Just hours later, six other journalists in the country were issued a life sentence for “or attempting to overthrow the constitutional order”.

With 155 journalists serving jail time because of their work, these days of highs and lows are beginning to feel routine for Turkey’s embattled independent media community.

BBC described Deniz Yucel’s imprisonment as a long-standing “irritant” in the relations between the two countries. His release came shortly after Turkish PM’s visit to Germany this week.

Deniz Yucel was arrested exactly 367 days ago on suspicion of “inciting the people to racial hatred and enmity” and “spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization”.

Soon after his release was announced, crowd gathered outside the jail, where Yucel joined his wife who was waiting for him:

But the ordeal is not yet over. Yucel was charged and indicted upon his release, with the prosecution demanding that he be sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Same court that ordered ‘s release has apparently accepted an indictment calling for up to 18 years imprisonment.

Not quite clear what is going on, but a key issue is whether he is being allowed to travel abroad.

In ordering Deniz Yücel’s release, the court also accepted his newly issued indictment. He faces 4 to 18 years in prison. https://twitter.com/cyberrights/status/964462592331796480 

While colleagues and friends celebrated the news of Yucel’s release, another court decision came down, this time affecting the fate of a different group of journalists.

A Turkish court has jailed for life journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazli Ilicak & Fevzi Yazici & one other defendant for seeking to “overthrow the constitutional order” in alleged coup plot http://www.haberturk.com/nazli-ilicak-ve-altan-kardeslerin-yargilandigi-davada-karar-bekleniyor-1840173 

Esas hakkındaki savunmalar tamamlandı

Haberin detayları için tıklayın

haberturk.com

Awful news coming in from Silivri jus now. & faced a trial in which no credible evidence was presented beyond their words. This verdict does not pass the test of international human rights law. https://twitter.com/rsf_eeca/status/964478858996146177 

Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazli Ilica, Yakup Şimşek, Fevzi Yazıcı and Şükrü Tuğrul Özsengül were handed a lifetime prison sentence after being convicted of involvement with Turkey’s 2016 coup, despite a lack of direct evidence.

Five of the six defendants are journalists and intellectuals all had strong ties with opposition news outlets in the past. Ahmet Altan is the former editor-in-chief of Taraf newspaper and his brother, Mehmet Altan is an academic and journalist who once wrote for Hurriyet. Nazli Ilıcak has written for Hurriyet, in addition to other newspapers, and briefly served as an MP for the Virtue party.

Yakup Şimşek and Fevzi Yazıcı worked with Zaman newspaper, which was one of Turkey’s largest independent daily newspapers until 2016, when the government seized its operations, alleging that the outlet had ties to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Anadolu Agency reported that six people were convicted for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and of having communicated with associates of Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the July 2016 failed coup.

In addition to facing legal threats, all of these journalists have been subject to extralegal harassment. One year ago, President Erdogan called Yucel a terrorist in one of his televised speeches.

Bu konuşmayı tam 1 yıl önce çekmiştim. Deniz sonunda özgür. Darısı Alman vatandaşı olmayan gazeteci arkadaşlarımızın başına.

I filmed this speech one year ago. Deniz is finally free. I wish the same for the rest non-German citizen journalists friends of mine.


Video clip translation:
 They are hiding this German terrorist, this spy at the embassy. They hid him for a month. And German Chancellor asked him from me. She said to release him. I told her we have an independent judiciary. Just like your judiciary is independent so is mine. It is [the judiciary] objective. That is why I am sorry to say, you won’t take them from us. Finally, he was brought to court. He was arrested. Why? Because he is spy terrorist. Who cares he is a German citizen. It doesn’t matter whose citizen you are, if you are spreading terror in Turkey, if they are secretly spies, they will pay the price.

Supporters in Turkey and around the world tweeted their shock at the decision:

Today’s verdict & sentences of life without parole for , & mark an apex of the disintegration of the in . Judge ignored a binding Turkish Constitutional Court decision. The European Court of Human Rights must act.

As Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak are given “aggravated life sentences”, it is worth remembering what that sentence is.

It is life without parole, with up to 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. Forever and ever, amen.

On February 12, both Ahmet and Mehmet Altan were thrown out of the courthouse, for demanding to read the constitutional court decision which ruled for their releasein January. The two brothers demanded that the decision which was overturned within 24 hours by the ruling of the 27th High Court is put on the record.

The next day, on February 13, speaking from high-security prison via video link, Ahmet Altan in his defense said the following:

Those in political power no longer fear generals. But they do fear writers. They fear pens, not guns. Because pens can reach where guns cannot: into the conscience of a society.

When the verdict was handed to Altan brothers today, one observer said cries and screams filled the courtroom.

Meanwhile, there are at least four other German Turkish citizens behind bars in Turkey, while the total number of imprisoned journalists and writers since the coup has now surpassed 150.

The Pollution in Iran’s Ahwaz Region Turns Deadly

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

The Pollution in Iran’s Ahwaz Region Turns Deadly

Image: public domain from Pixabay.

Severe sandstorms have blanketed Iran’s Ahwaz region again this past week, with people choking as atmospheric dust levels reach 57 times the safety limit set by the World Health Organization. In late January the news broke that citizens were crowding hospitals across the predominantly Arab region—which is desperately poor despite being home to over 95 percent of the oil and gas resources claimed by Iran—complaining of severe shortness of breath and respiratory problems. Between January 21 and 25, three people died from severe respiratory illnesses.

The area is blanketed by a thick smog of sand and visibility is down to under 200 meters. The government has suspended flights to and from regional airports and closed schools, offices and banks across the once-lush province.

In 2013, the city of Ahwaz, the capital of the region, topped the World Health Organization’s list of most polluted cities in the world. According to the report, Ahwaz’s average Air Quality Index score was 372—the global average is around 71—or “Hazardous”. It was the only city on the list with an average value above 300. Reporting on the situation at the time, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) wrote that “contributing factors include desertification caused by river diversion and the draining of the marshes and the oil, petrochemical, metals and sugar and paper processing plants in and around Ahwaz.”

More than four years later, the situation in Ahwaz remains unchanged, and the group most affected are the region’s indigenous Ahwazi Arabs, who have long been discriminated against by successive Iranian governments.

The reason for the high rates of pollution is the accelerating desertification of the region, due to the extensive drying of the rivers and marshes as a result of the massive river-damming and diversion project initiated when Hashemi Rafsanjani became president in 1989. The project has seen millions of gallons of water rerouted from the region’s rivers to other parts of Iran and has intensified the already high rates of pollution and environmental degradation in the region.The dust storms combine with the constant clouds of choking pollution released into the atmosphere by the region’s petrochemical refineries and factories—none of which are subject to any environmental regulations or oversight—and also with the pollution produced by the burning of sugarcane.

Speaking on condition of anonymity due to fears of reprisals by the Iranian regime, an Ahwazi high school student told Global Voices that, “The burning used to take place during the day, but after there were protests by local Arabs chanting ‘We might be able to buy potable water, but we cannot buy clean air!’ they have begun burning it at night. This morning, the school grounds were covered in several centimetres of ash from the burning. I already have severe asthma, and this is making my condition worse.”

Sugarcane in the Ahwaz region

Sugarcane is not indigenous to Iran, but has been cultivated in the region since the 1960s. During the tenure of Hashemi Rafsanjani the government embarked on an ambitious state-subsidized sugarcane-farming project that involved the seizure of thousands of hectares of farmland from Ahwazi farmers whose ancestors had farmed there for generations. Thousands of families were driven into abject destitution as their farmland was converted into vast sugarcane plantations.

These efforts have brought little profit: the sugarcane project has proven economically disastrous, with imports far cheaper than local production. The greater concern, however, is the widespread pollution and environmental devastation it has wrought on a region that was once the breadbasket of the Gulf area. Across the Ahwaz region, in cities like Falahiyeh, Muhammarah and Abadan, massive plantations of palm trees whose produce was famed across the Middle East have either been deliberately destroyed or simply left to wither. Also at serious risk are the region’s flora and fauna, as the Falahiyeh wetlands and the Hor-Azim wetlands are almost completely destroyed.

Sugar refineries are depleting the already scarce supply of river water for their water-intensive processes, and polluting the region’s remaining rivers and streams by pumping untreated chemicals used in the sugar-cleaning and refining process back into the waterways. This leaves the water downstream unusable and high in saline, which destroys the arable lands of the region’s poor Ahwazi farmers.

Then there’s the burning of the sugarcane, which takes place on plantations around the Ahwazi capital and other cities in the region before the May-November harvest. The smoke from burning sugar cane is thick and heavy due to the dense sugar and alcohol content; instead of drifting upward it blows across the land, causing severe and sometimes fatal respiratory and skin problems among the population.

The heavy toll on health

At the end of January, at least three Ahwazi Arabs were reported to have died as a result of respiratory problems caused or exacerbated by the region’s severe air pollution. One of them, 43-year-old Kareem Abdul Khani from the city of Susa, who suffered from chronic asthma, was rushed to the city’s Mafi Hospital on January 21 after complaining of dizziness and difficulty breathing due to the severe pollution in the area, which greatly exceeded usual levels. He died the following day.

The second man, 47-year-old Hamid Hamdian from Mollasani County near Ahwaz city, had been suffering from respiratory disease for some time. He died suddenly after being overcome by severe breathing problems.

The third man, 34-year-old Ahmed Chenani from Hamidieh city, 30 kilometers west of Ahwaz, died from chronic respiratory problems on the night of January 25, after suffocating from the air pollution blanketing the area. Family members who rushed him to the Golestan Hospital in Ahwaz city, said that the lack of adequate medical facilities and the negligence of medical staff contributed to his death.

Rates of cancer in the region are also rising. A member of the medical staff at a hospital in Ahwaz who, like other interviewees, wished to remain anonymous, said that ten years ago the hospital had 40 beds that were largely underused. In recent years, the hospital has become overrun with cancer patients.

All this is a huge price to pay, especially for the indigenous Ahwazi Arabs, who are still denied all but the most menial jobs in sugarcane and oil—the two industries wreaking havoc on their home region‚—while ethnic Persians are brought in from other parts of Iran and offered high wages and modern, purpose-built housing in segregated settlements. Despite being natives of the wealthiest region in Iran in terms of resources, the majority of the Ahwazi people live in medieval conditions under a de facto apartheid system.

The Grief and Frustration of Jordan’s Unemployed University Graduates

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

‘The Educational System Has Failed Us’: The Grief and Frustration of Jordan’s Unemployed University Graduates

The Clock Tower, a landmark at the University of Jordan. Photo by Yazan Dahdoud. Used with permission.

The year of 2017 brought with it an unfortunate rise of unemployment in Jordan, hitting a peak of 18.5%. The future does not look so bright either, with 2018 promising an even bigger rise.

For university degree holders, the situation is worse than that of the general population: 23% are unemployed. Of those graduates who are jobless, 27% are men, while 68% are women.

Tuition fees have skyrocketed in recent years, but those who manage to pay aren’t guaranteed a decent living at the end of the academic road. Graduates who Global Voices spoke with complained that while at university they had to navigate politics and confusing government job advice, and afterward they have found themselves stuck with menial and underpaid work — or no work at all.

“My education has, if anything, hindered my employment,” Lara Mohsen, a former student at Al-Balqa Applied University, told Global Voices.

The education that Lara and many more are referring to is that provided by public and private universities. Since the form of government in Jordan is a parliamentary monarchy, the students have to deal with ever-changing admission policies, with each government either building on or completely changing the policies of the one before it.

Moreover, students often find themselves witnessing dangerous tribal clashes on campus since tribal rule is predominant in Jordan and the inner problems of tribes can often find their way into educational institutions through youth.

Yazan Bahbouh, who graduated as an accountant from the University of Petra, told Global Voices that he couldn’t see the benefit of his degree:

I graduated as an accountant from the University of Petra, and I got offered a job at a private company almost immediately. I was above the clouds, since it is uncommon for a recent graduate to land a job so quickly. The first day on the job, I realized I would be counting boxes for inventory. A job that I would be performing alongside high-school drop outs at the very same company. I resigned only a few weeks after. I couldn’t handle getting paid even less than my colleagues who drive the vans, given that they make more on tips than I, a person who has spent 4 years of his life getting an education.

Dana, a pharmacy graduate, told Global Voices that she was exploited at her job to do extra work that is not in her job description:

After five years of college, I graduated as a pharmacist. I found a job at a local pharmacy that had a vacancy and started working right away. One week into the job, I found out that I must take turns with my other colleague who has the night shift to wipe floors, and dust shelves. I thought ‘great, I really needed continuous four-hour lab training lectures for this’ and left the job immediately.

The story of Yazan and Dana are not unique. University graduates often refuse jobs that they consider beneath their level of education, but with 100,000 new graduateslooking for jobs every year, the positions that Yazan and Dana refused could easily be filled by many others desperate for them.

The difficulty of navigating the market’s ‘continuously changing’ needs

Taima, a graduate in translation from Yarmouk University, said that she gets paid as much now as she did during her freelancing years as a student:

I used to work as a freelance translator while I was still a student. A lot of translation bureaus would demand a degree in translation, so I would revert to translating for individuals who just wanted a one-time kind of service. I thought that once I graduated I would be able to land those bureau jobs and make a better living. You would be shocked to find that I now make the same amount as I did as a student.

She continued:

A [translation] bureau once told me that there is an ‘overflow’ of translation and language graduates. Later on, I realized I should have contemplated more carefully what to study, since the market needs are continuously changing.

Jordan’s Civil Service Bureau issues annual reports on the specializations needed most in the job market, and what sectors of the market have reached full employment. The agency also sends advice to the Ministry of Higher Education as to what majors are not needed in the market and thus should be shut down, and what majors should accept lower student numbers.

However, universities and students are often skeptical of such reports, given that they are issued by the government, which many view as being responsible for theunemployment problem to begin with.

The reports often advise universities to exterminate majors that are not required in the public sector (such as psychology), even if there might be demand for them in the private sector. Moreover, a specialization might not pay off in Jordan due to the current state of the economy, but could be lucrative elsewhere.

For example, take Rawan, a dual citizen of Jordan and the US. After graduating from the Jordanian University of Science and Technology with a degree in veterinary medicine, Rawan was left unemployed for about a year, and has now decided to move back into the US:

I love my country, and I love living here [in Jordan], but I also cannot stay without work forever. I really thought I would move here for good, but the circumstances are not in my favor.

And there are other holes to be found in the bureau’s advice, such as the fact that many people choose to avoid studying a major, whether it’s officially recommended or not, that would require them to open their own businesses, as the trade policies that the government makes have been proved as ineffective.

The University of Jordan recently created a new major within its foreign languages faculty, a move which goes against the bureau report, which advised that universities decrease the number of students accepted into the specialization over the next five years.

The new and competitive program at the University of Jordan charges 60 Jordanian dinars (85 US dollars), which is three times the amount of any other in the faculty. Opening a new major with triple the charges in a faculty whose degree is said to be redundant by the government is quite the opposite of abiding by the report’s findings.

The consequences of Jordan’s nationality law in higher education

Jihad, the son of a Jordanian mother and a Yemeni father, faces an even bigger problem. Born and raised in Jordan, Jihad is still considered Yemeni because the law in Jordan only allows Jordanian nationality to be passed down through the father.

Therefore, he is required to enroll under the international program at the University of Jordan. Although he passed the national Tawjeehi (the general secondary examination that grade 12 students must take in order to apply for university admission), he is still required to register as a foreigner, and pays 500 US dollars per credit hour while his colleagues enrolled in the competitive program pay 45 Jordanian dinars (63 US dollars).

Jihad works a job at a local medical center, earning 550 Jordanian dinars per month (500 US dollars). At that rate, he would have to work for approximately 22 years to pay for his education (that is, of course, only taking into account the official credit hours of the program, and excluding the cost of books, allowance, and added registration fees).

“I could open a whole hospital with the 132,500 US dollars that his education is going to cost me,” Jihad’s dad joked.

Luckily for others, new regulations issued in 2017 would give the children of Jordanian mothers and foreign fathers the same higher education privileges as Jordanian citizen, although that won’t be of much use to Jihad and the others whom have applied for universities before then. Moreover, Syrian refugees and non-Jordanian passport holders who were born and raised in Jordan (people who migrated to Jordan from Gaza in the 1948 and 1967 Israeli-Palestinian wars, for example) are excluded, and thus still have to enroll in the international program.

Discrimination against people with disabilities in the job market

The stories of students who struggle with unemployment are abundant, but some face additional challenges like disabilities.

Hakeem is a short-sighted student who studied finance at the University of Jerash. After struggling through high school and university, he finally graduated with a 3.2 grade point average in 2015. He remains unemployed until this very day, as companies would prefer hiring one of the many candidates who do not have a disability to deal with.

Hakeem’s childhood friend, who has himself regularly switched jobs ever since he graduated, told Global Voices that he hoped an education would help his friend:

I wanted [Hakeem] to get an education because I believed that he and I would have an equal chance to both study and work, but the educational system has failed us.

These stories paint a picture of joblessness in Jordan as experienced by university graduates, who invested money into a degree that they thought would bring them gainful employment, but that instead left them with disappointment in the real world and consequently in one’s country and self.

Macau’s Cyber-security Law: More About Surveillance (And Censorship)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Macau’s Cybersecurity Law: Less About Security, More About Surveillance (And Censorship)

Graffiti art of surveillance camera. Published and labeled for reuse on Pixabay.

The following article is based on a translation of a post that appeared first in Chinese on Hong Kong citizen media outlet inmediahk.net.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony and a special administrative region on the south coast of China, has begun public consultations on a proposed Cybersecurity Law.

The Macau government is proposing the legislation in an effort to ensure the “security of network communications.” The law would establish a local cybersecurity standing committee and a cybersecurity center which would monitor online information flows in binary code to keep track of and investigate future cyber attacks. The center would coordinate with government departments to supervise and implement protection procedures for companies in 11 crucial sectors, including internet operators, media organizations, water and energy suppliers, financial and banking companies, gambling companies and medical institutions, among others.

The law would also obligate telecommunication operators and internet service providers (ISPs) to implement a real-name registration system, in which all users would be required to be fully identified in all their online activities. The law would require ISPs to keep users’ online activity logs for at least one year.

Various critics say the proposed law will provide a legal framework for mass surveillance, much more so than improve network security.

To look into the rationality behind the legislation, the Chinese Q&A news team interviewed a senior information security analyst who works in one of the 11 crucial sectors listed in the consultation document, to get an insider’s perspective.

Q: Have any hacking incidents taken place in Macau in the past few years? Does the information security sector find it necessary to set up a mechanism for monitoring data flows?

A: There haven’t been any major hacking incidents [affecting public security] in Macau in recent years, neither the public nor the public sector has been attacked by hackers. (The WannaCry kind of ransomware is not target specific attack.)

[Editor’s note: according to media report, apart from the WannaCry ransomware, a Macau ISP operator was hacked in January 2013, but only 34 clients’ information were stolen. This, however, was not considered a serious security breach.]

There is no need to set up a mechanism for monitoring data flows. If we have to monitor data flows, we have to record and analyze all of the data, much like immigration officers unpacking travelers’ baggage. Moreover, this type of monitoring system cannot prevent a cyber attack.

To take it a bit further, here are the two most common forms of cyber attack:

1. Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDOS): A massive DDoS would produce a tremendous amount of data. Recording the data flow would require a huge storage space and a good deal of manpower. In other words, you can’t possibly monitor data flows in a DDoS attack.

2. Hacking of website and private network: In the case of targeted hacking attack, the incident response team of the cybersecurity center would have to get evidence from the server under attack. Of course, evidence can be obtained from a network facility. However, recording and unpacketing all the data packet on the network is a very ineffective way of gathering evidence in the investigation of a cyber attack.

On the other hand, the data flow monitoring mechanism is effective for keyword filtering. For example, when the data packet contains keyword like “Vindication of June 4”, the monitoring system can send out an alert. But this is not a network security measure — it looks much more internet censorship, in the style of mainland China.

Q: The proposed Cybersecurity Law will affect the 11 crucial sectors the most. Has the commercial sector submitted any opinion so far?

A: Commercial sector representatives are still in the process of understanding the content of the proposal. For example, the proposal mentioned that operators of the 11 crucial sectors have to hand in a network security report, but it did not mention what should be included in the report. It also said that operators should conduct a qualification and professional background check when appointing key positions. But what do they mean by “qualification”? Should the employees obtain a license from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information? And what is the meaning of “background check”? Do they need to prove that they love China and Macau? These are major concerns from the information security sector.

Q: Has there been any consultation on the listing of 11 businesses as crucial sectors?

A: There was no consultation among the business sector. The proposal was released on 8 December 2017 without prior notification and we had just one week to prepare for the consultation, which made it a very rushed process.

Q: For the IT sector, what kind of mechanism is more reasonable?

A: As a cybersecurity worker, I don’t think the proposed cybersecurity management framework is capable of maintaining what the draft proposes, which is a “three-level monitoring system that involves top [government authorities] and bottom [business operators] who will integrate strategy and implementation in an organic manner”. To the contrary, the framework will obstruct cybersecurity work.

From the cybersecurity sector’s viewpoint, policy makers and executive personnel should be familiar enough with the technology in order to integrate strategy and implementation in an organic manner.

In the so-called three-level cybersecurity management framework, the business operators would be supervised by government administrative bodies.

Would the government authorities have the ability [i.e. technical know-how] to supervise and protect network safety or assist the business operators to defend against cyber attacks? Why not set up an independent department with professional knowledge to manage the cybersecurity work?

Q: Would the proposed law, such as the policy of SIM card real name registration, affect the economic interest of the business sectors, in particular the gambling, media and ISP sectors?

A: First, regarding real-name registration of SIM cards, the policy would have little effect on the gambling and ISP sectors. Currently when applying for service, users have to provide their identity card or passport for registration. As for media, this is rather sensitive. Reporters’ communication is subjected to wiretapping. If all SIM cards have to be registered with real name, there will be certain negative impact.

Second, regarding operators’ cybersecurity reports, the content of the reports may involve some business secrets and of course the business sector doesn’t want any third party (including the government) to get hold of their secrets. Would the government allow the operators to submit a security report that hides sensitive and important information?

Third, regarding the duty of cooperators, the proposal mentioned that operators have to allow representatives of the cybersecurity center to enter its facilities and offices and assist their work by providing information and cooperation as requested. For those who cannot fulfill their duties, they would be seen as violating the administrative regulation and subjected to a MOP$50,000-150,000 fine for a minor offense and a MOP$150,000-5,000,000 fine for a serious offense.

However, if a business is subjected to cyber attack, the first thing that they do is try to recover the system. In the case of gambling businesses, the security incident would be handled by internal security staff as well as cybersecurity subcontractors who have the most advanced tools and knowledge. Moreover, they have signed an agreement of confidentiality. However, according to the government proposal, the police and the director of Postal and Telecommunication services would be responsible for cybersecurity alerts and prevention measures. For the business sector, of course they would seek help from a professional security team rather than the government authorities. Yet, by doing so, will the business be fined? If the government demands that investigation should come before system recovery, who would cover the loss?

Q: Would the proposed law infringe citizens’ privacy and freedom?

A: It would create a chilling effect for the public. Real-name registration will assist the monitoring of data and people will be worried about the security of private communication. Moreover, currently, ISPs already have the power to monitor our online activities or even intercept the data in the network. With this legislation, such power would be in the hands of the police and people would not know if their communication is being intercepted.

World Celebrates Bob Marley Day, Reggae is Changing So Are Its Fans

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

As the World Celebrates Bob Marley Day, Reggae is Changing and So Are Its Fans

A mural of reggae icon Bob Marley; photo by Vanessa, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Reggae icon Bob (Robert Nesta) Marley was born on February 6, 1945; his birthday is now celebrated around the world as Bob Marley Day. This year, he would have turned 73 years old. Marley’s hometown of Kingston, Jamaica, is now recognised by UNESCO as a Creative City of Music.

As the anointed birthplace of reggae music, music-lovers from all over the world make the pilgrimage to the Bob Marley Museum in uptown Kingston, the site of Marley’s former home. Visitors also head downtown to tour Tuff Gong Studios, founded by Marley in 1965, and the “Culture Yard” in Trench Town, where Marley grew up, learned to play guitar and formed his band, the Wailers.

Bob Marley remains an enduring icon and legacy in Jamaica, but as musical tastes and trends change, some Jamaicans wonder if the spirit of traditional roots reggae may be fading.

Reggae Month, first announced by the Jamaican government in 2008, is currently underway in Jamaica.

While passing by Marley’s former home, a fan tweeted a photo of the festivities celebrating Bob Marley Day:

The museum itself shared a live stream:

The veteran British reggae band UB40 posted their congratulations:

Jamaican public and private institutions posted creative tweets, Marley quotes and of course, music:

AK Dixon, a Jamaican living in Toronto, Canada, where Bob Marley Day is annually celebrated, urged Jamaica to step up its game:

The American rapper Common added his birthday wishes on Twitter, acknowledging what he learned from Marley:

Happy Born Day Bob Marley! Thank you for showing me how to use my art to help the people.

From Los Angeles, California, Twitter user Isaac Bryan reminded us of Marley’s activism:

On the born day of Bob Marley we are reminded-

“Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight.” 🇯🇲

To mark the day, Damian “Junior Gong” Marley tweeted a charming childhood photograph of himself with his father:

Are young Jamaicans missing the reggae vibes?

While Bob Marley Day sparked celebratory social media posts from the Jamaican diaspora as well as non-Jamaican individuals and organisations, young Jamaicans were relatively quiet online.

Winston Barnes, a Florida-based Jamaican who hosts a radio talk show for the diaspora, bemoaned a perceived declining interest in reggae music, blaming the embrace of Western music styles such as hip hop:

I am now convinced that Marley’s work was in vain. At least for Jamaicans. We know so little about what he did, as evidenced by our disrespect for his work and by extension our culture. Jamaica has many more radio stations than ever and cumulatively, they play less Jamaican music than before. This at a time when Jamaicans create and produce virtually every genre of music! What would we say to Bob if he was among us physically? I listened to a motivational feature on Jamaican radio last evening and virtually all the inserts originated from outside of Jamaica! In 2018?
Foreigners respect and regard Marley’s music, at least publicly more than we ever have even in 2018! I am now convinced that maybe it is too late to fix this problem we face as a country and as a culture…and then we turn around and talk rubbish about the Grammies and Reggae!

Barnes refers to complaints by Jamaicans that the Grammy Awards do not give enough credit to reggae music, since the award is not televised.

Stephen Cooper agreed:

And last year when Raging Fyah’s Album “Everlasting” was nominated, same comments when Ziggy won. Maybe it is time for the Caribbean to have their own “Grammy” type of Ceremony.

It’s very unfortunate. Despite the fact that many reggae artists insist they don’t really care about the Grammys—in part because they know it’s a scam—the Grammys are one of the few places where reggae is recognized on the international stage. And, it clearly boosts record sales.

Many Jamaicans felt Chronixx, a young, up-and-coming reggae artist, should have won the Grammy instead of granting it to Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. Of all the members of the Marley family, only a few live in Jamaica, while others occasionally visit. However, other social media users applauded Jr. Gong’s “Stony Hill” album as a quality contender:

Deep down we all wanted the yute from del la Vega get it…but the Grammy kids gave it to the dread from stonyhill…welldone

The ‘Marley factor’ and the future of reggae

Dr. Sonijah Stanley Niaah, of the Institute of Caribbean Studies and Reggae Studies Unit at the University of the West Indies, explained the ‘Marley factor’:

Jamaica is this cool place on the world map that is hardly visible, but everyone knows of the little rock because of its musical legacy. When it comes to the Grammys, Jamaica is always present. In the 2018 staging it was Shaggy’s on-stage performance that ensured Jamaica’s presence at the live Grammy show, and when he uttered “I’m a Jamaican in New York”…the crowd response peaked.

However, it wasn’t Shaggy’s performance which caused all the backstage rumbling that kept Jamaicans awash with emotion. It was Jr Gong [Damian Marley], and, more specifically, the ‘Marley factor.’

…This abundance of presence at the Grammys on the part of the Marleys has concerned Jamaicans in particular, and thus each year upon the release of the nominees for the ‘Best Reggae Album’ category, there is the inevitable combination of glee, grief, concern, and trepidation.

…Chronixx was leading in the court of public opinion ahead of all the other nominees and in particular, the only one close to him was Morgan Heritage, who were nominated for their Avrakedabra album, in the poll conducted by the Recording Academy. Unfortunately, the award is not granted on the basis of public opinion, sales figures, or even musical appeal…

To date, Ziggy Marley has won a total of seven Grammys. Stephen and Damian Marley as well as Bunny Wailer (a Marley connection), won three each.

Despite this — or perhaps because of it — a Kingston-based blogger believed the Rastafarian spirit and energy of reggae music could be losing its power:

It was through music that slaves communicated, the drums warned other slaves and motivated them toward rebellion and change. Reggae music with its origin in Jamaica was one of the most effective tools in advocating for peace and unity, challenging political movements and creating change

Bob Marley’s messages of love and unity was perhaps not as successful in the 1970s because our violence was imported and managed by and for external interests. As Babylon prepares for its fall, its hold on Jamaica is compromised, and this is the right time for the Rastafari messages of love and unity. Consciousness and liberation are still some of the messages we associate and expect from Rasta, unfortunately, it would appear that Rasta has lost its value locally and as an agent of change in our society.

Bob Marley, Reggae music and Rastafarianism represents a few of the most renowned parts of Jamaican culture, it seems however that the Marley legacy is busy chasing Grammys as opposed to using music to create change…as was the real impassioned legacy of Robert Nesta Marley, Reggae and Rastafari. We are left with Capitalist Rastafari, token international Grammy awards, and an ailing culture directed by dancehall music, reversely influenced by Hip-hop and the American lifestyle!

Entertainment lawyer Lloyd Stanbury agreed:

Reggae requires much more than the focus on who wins “Best Reggae Album” at the GRAMMYS

While younger Jamaicans acknowledge the Marley legacy, reggae music and its fans are changing as the world changes.

Chronixx, whose lyrics deal with climate change, rising crime, and internet addiction, is being called the “new golden boy” of reggae. His hit song “Do It for the Love, not for the Likes”, became a popular Jamaican catchphrase and hashtag, #DoItFortheLove.

In response to all these changes, if Bob Marley were alive today he might well remind us of a line from his song “Natural Mystic”: “There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air…if you listen carefully now you will hear.” In other words, time, space — and everything in it — move along naturally. Maybe in the end, it all comes down to the music, no matter how it evolves.

Turkish Court Releases, Re-Arrests Amnesty International’s Taner Kilic

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Justice Deferred: Uproar After Turkish Court Releases, Re-Arrests Amnesty International’s Taner Kilic

Supporters gather outside the courthouse in Turkey. Photo by Arzu Geybullayeva.

A small crowd was gathered outside Caglayan court. They held “Free Taner” signs while representatives from the Amnesty International’s Turkey office were read their demands out loud.

“We demand an unconditional release for Taner,” said one of the human rights defenders, speaking to a group of journalists at the January 31 gathering.

There was a palpable burst of surprise and relief among family and friends when the court ordered the conditional release of Taner Kilic, chair of Amnesty International Turkey, who has spent eight months in prison. He was the only one left behind bars after the court released all members of the #Istanbul10 human rights defenders group in October of last year.

This joy was short-lived, however. The prosecutor — who had already requested that Taner be kept in detention — immediately appealed the decision, and the second court granted the request.

Just a day later, the first court accepted the second court’s decision to continue his detention. Kilic is now likely to remain in jail until the next hearing, which is scheduled for June 21, 2018.

‘Crisis in Turkey’s justice system’

In a statement following the reversal, Amnesty’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said:

This is the latest example of the crisis in Turkey’s justice system that is ruining lives and hollowing out the right to a fair trial. To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner, his family and all who stand for justice in Turkey.

Kilic is accused of being a member of a terrorist group, a charge that his supporters and the international human rights community have broadly dismissed as bogus. More precisely, Kilic is accused of using a messaging app called ByLock that was allegedly used by coup plotters in July 2016.

Kilic and his lawyers argued no such app was ever downloaded on his phone during the hearing yesterday.

Taner presents the evidence that he didn’t download or use ByLock. The prosecution hasn’t presented any that he did. Despite this, the prosecutor requests that Taner remains in pre-trial prison detention.

Taner’s lawyer presents a third expert witness report to the court that again concludes that Taner didn’t use ByLock. This one shows that Taner had two ‘mor beyin’ apps known to falsely show connections to ByLock. It is absolutely clear that Taner didn’t have ByLcok.

Kilic joined the hearing via video link as he was bring held in a prison in the western province of Izmir. He has denied using the app on many occasions, including on January 31. After several hours of witness questioning, the court took a brief recess, after which it announced its ultimately short-lived decision to release Kilic on bail.

At that moment, a collective burst of joy could be felt in the air and online:

The brother and daughter of overjoyed at the news of Taner’s release. One step towards justice!

Great news, long overdue. Congratulations to Team Turkey and all our campaigners and activists who worked so hard over the 8 month period of unjust confinement! The fight for human rights in Turkey continues. Too many human rights defenders still in jail. https://twitter.com/andrewegardner/status/958674883063500800 

Just hours later, the news of the new court decision sent a devastating blow to Taner’s family:

“To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner, his family & all who stand for justice in Turkey.” @amnesty‘s @SalilShetty on the re-arrest & re-detention of . : http://amn.st/6015D3FRf 

The last 24 hours:

1. Court A orders the release of Amnesty’s Turkey chair Taner Kilic (yesterday) after nearly 8 months in prison

2. After prosecutor appeals, court B orders Kilic to remain in custody (last night)

3. Court A overturns its original verdict (this morning). https://twitter.com/p_zalewski/status/958813288489521152 

Here we are. Our colleague, @amnesty Turkey chair will NOT be released. The court changed its mind… Why? Who knows, no grounds provided. Devastating for the family and an affront to justice. https://twitter.com/andrewegardner/status/959011266286235648 

This is not the first time a court has overruled its own decision.

The Istanbul trial court has now overturned its own release verdict it made yesterday. Taner will stay in pre-trial detention. What (or who) made them do it? This is devastating for Taner’s family and a disgrace to justice.

Too sorry for Taner and for Turkish Judiciary Unfortunately it is not a new issue , several release decision have not been enforced in Turkey . pic.twitter.com/DrnEwh12kF

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Utterly shocking! Ordering prisoners’ release and immediately throwing them back to jail seems to become a habit of ‘s judiciary. This was applied to several last year.

Stop this cruel game, ! https://twitter.com/andrewegardner/status/958828842449297408 

The author of this article attended the January 31 hearing at the Caglayan courthouse in Istanbul.