Bahraini Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Faces Additional Fifteen Years in Prison

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Jailed Bahraini Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Faces Additional Fifteen Years in Prison

Nabeel Rajab (right) and Abdulhadi Alkhawaja at a pro democracy march in Bahrain in 2011. Photo by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

This post was written by Khalid Ibrahim, executive director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, an independent, non-profit organisation that promotes freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in the Gulf region and its neighbouring countries.Prominent Bahraini human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, has been in jail for his human rights work since 13 June 2016. He is currently serving a two-year prison term for speaking to the media about the human rights situation in Bahrain. He also faces additional prison time for expressing himself on Twitter.

Rajab is the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the founding director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the Deputy Secretary-General of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), and a member of the Advisory Board of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In July 2002, he founded the BCHR with his colleague Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence for his human rights activities. The BCHR continues to operate to this day despite a decision to close it by authorities in November 2004, and the jailing of its two founders.

When the popular uprising started in Bahrain on 14 February 2011, Nabeel Rajab was at its heart as a human rights leader. When the authorities arrested most of the uprising leaders, he became the only remaining voice outside of prison, which was heard by hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and the rest of the world, attesting to the grave violations committed by the government that oppressed the entire population solely based on their demand for freedom, equality and social justice.

For his engagement with the Bahraini uprising and human rights activism, Rajab is paying a heavy price. He was arrested and imprisoned several times and subjected to various types of threats, judicial harassment, abusive media smear campaigns, torture, and travel bans.

On 10 July, he was sentenced to prison for two years after being found guilty of spreading “fake news”, over TV interviews in which he spoke about mounting human rights violations in the Gulf kingdom. In those interviews, Rajab talked about journalists and NGOs being prevented from entering Bahrain, and a lack of judicial independence. On 22 November, a Bahraini appeals court upheld the two-year prison sentence.

In another case, Rajab faces up to 15 years in jail for criticizing Bahrain’s participationin the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and for speaking out about torture in Bahrain’s infamous “Jaw” prison on Twitter. Rajab was scheduled to appear again in court on 31 December 2017 for this case. However, the hearing was unexpectedly held on 5 December, four weeks earlier than the date originally scheduled by the court. On 3 December, Rajab’s lawyers were informed by the court the hearing would take place on 5 December, under the pretext that a key witness in the case would be unable to attend the hearing on 31 December. Although, Rajab’s lawyers protested this decision, the hearing took place on 5 December and was adjourned to 7 December. Rajab was unable to attend the hearing for health reasons.

– Due to health problems,Nabeel Rajab was not able to attend the hearing

– His lawyers were not given enough time for preparation, only 2 days informal notice

– Court rejected the lawyers request for postponement

– Rushing the case, raises fears of imminent sentence

On 7 December, the hearing has once again been adjourned to 15 January.

Today, the 20th Court hearing against @NabeelRajab was adjourned to 15 January for the defence to submit their final argument.

• Charged for comments condemning the Saudi bombardment in , & exposing torture in 

• Facing 15 Years imprisonment

Rajab faces additional prison time for charges related to two letters he published in the New York Times and the French newspaper Le Monde, while in prison.

In the NYT letter, published in September 2016, Rajab described the conditions of his detention and called on the Obama administration to ”use its leverage” to end the conflict in Yemen, and work ”to secure the release of people who call for peace, and are trying to build democracy in the region”. For this piece, Rajab was charged with “undermining the prestige of the kingdom.”

In the letter published in Le Monde in December 2016, Rajab called on France and Germany to re-assess their support for the Arab Gulf monarchies. Following the publication of this piece, he was charged with “spreading false news and statements and malicious rumours that undermine the prestige of Bahrain and the brotherly countries of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], and an attempt to endanger their relations.”

Several organizations and human rights groups have repeatedly called on Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab. In May, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) expressed particular concern over Rajab’s solitary confinement and called for his release. Numerous others have called for his release, including European Parliament officials. On 27 June 2017, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Pier Antonio Panzeri issued a statement calling for the rights defender’s release:

Rajab’s detention violates his right to freedom of expression. I call on the Bahraini authorities to grant lawyers and family members access to Nabeel Rajab, to drop all charges against him and to free him immediately

Despite these calls, Rajab remains in prison. He is not the only one in Bahrain to be jailed for his human rights and political activism, or for peacefully expressing himself. In the small island kingdom of just 1.4 million people, there are more than 4,000 political prisoners, according to rights groups.

The Libyan Slave Trade Has Shocked The World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

By Casey Quackenbush

3:58 AM EST

A video of men appearing to be sold at auction in Libya for $400 has shocked the world and focused international attention on the exploitation of migrants and refugees the north African country.

The footage and subsequent investigation conducted by CNN last month has rallied European and African leaders to take action to stop the abuses. On Wednesday, the leaders of Libya, France, Germany, Chad and Niger and four other countries agreed on a plan to evacuate thousands of migrants stuck in Libyan detention camps.

The grainy undercover video appears to show smugglers selling off a dozen men outside of the capital city Tripoli.

“Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he’ll dig,” said an auctioneer, according to CNN. “What am I bid, what am I bid?”

The report has drawn attention to an issue that aid and migrant groups say has gone on for years.

Why is there a slave trade in Libya?

Libya is the main transit point for refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. In each of the last three years, 150,000 people have made the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. For four years in a row, 3,000 refugees have died while attempting the journey, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the U.N.’s migration agency.

The Libyan Coast Guard — supported with funds and resources from the E.U. and more specifically, Italy — has cracked down on boats smuggling refugees and migrants to Europe. With estimates of 400,000 to almost one million people now bottled up Libya, detention centers are overrun and there are mounting reports of robbery, rape, and murder among migrants, according to a September report by the U.N. human rights agency. Conditions in the centers have been described as “horrific,” and among other abuses, migrants are vulnerable to being sold off as laborers in slave auctions.

“It’s a total extortion machine,” Lenard Doyle, Director of Media and Communications for the IOM in Geneva tells TIME. “Fueled by the absolute rush of migrants through Libya thinking they can get out of poverty, following a dream that doesn’t exist.”

The IOM said in April that it had documented reports of “slave markets” along the migrant routes in North Africa “tormenting hundreds of young African men bound for Libya.”

“There they become commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value,” Doyle said in the April statement.

Illegal immigrants are seen at a detention centre in Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on June 17, 2017.
Illegal immigrants are seen at a detention centre in Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on June 17, 2017.
Taha Jawashi—AFP/Getty Images

How is Libya handling the crisis?

According to CNN, the U.N.-backed Libyan government has launched a formal investigation into the allegations. But Libya is largely considered a failed state. Since Muammar Gaddafi, who ran the country for four decades, was ousted in 2011, the country has descended into civil war. A transitional government failed to implementrule of law in the country, which has splintered into several factions of militias, tribes, and gangs. In lawless Libya, many see the slave trade and smuggling as a lucrative industry. Tackling the country’s humanitarian crisis will require international assistance.

On Wednesday, Libya reached a deal with E.U. and African leaders to allow the emergency repatriation of refugees and migrants facing abuse in its detention centers. The government also agreed to open a transit center for vulnerable refugees after months of negotiations, according to Reuters. The center is intended to safely house people before they are resettled or sent to a third country.

How is the international community responding?

Following the publication of the video, there was outcry from all corners of the globe, with some nations recalling their ambassadors from Libya. Protesters rallied outside Libyan embassies across Africa and in Europe.

On Wednesday, African and European leaders met at a summit in the Ivory Coast and agreed on an urgent evacuation plan that would see about 15,000 people flown out of Libya. Most of the migrants will be sent back to their home countries. Speaking at the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron, called the abuse “a crime against humanity” and vowed the summit members would “launch concrete military and policing action on the ground to dismantle those networks,” according to the Guardian. The deal also included initiatives to target traffickers, including setting up a task force to dismantle trafficking networks, the BBC reports.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari expressed shock at how his compatriots were being treated “like goats.” On Wednesday, 242 Nigerian migrants were flown out of Libya back to Nigeria.

The day before, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting and said it would be “stepping up its work” to stop the abuses. However, the U.N refugee agency said it faces “dramatic” funding gaps, especially for its operations in sub-Saharan Africa. “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the 21st century,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Since 2015, the IOM has repatriated 13,000 people from Libya under a voluntary program. But Doyle, the IOM spokesperson, says more needs to be done to stop migration at its core, particularly from tech companies who own online platforms where traffickers can falsely lure people into paying smugglers.

“They’re being completely misled into thinking that’s a happy future for them and being misled thorough social media,” he tells TIME.

Earlier this week, the foreign ministry of Rwanda said it would extend asylum to 30,000 mainly sub-Saharan Africans stuck in Libya. “Given our own history … we cannot remain silent when human beings are being mistreated and auctioned off like cattle,” the foreign ministry said.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley condemned the abuses, saying: “To see the pictures of these men being treated like cattle, and to hear the auctioneer describe them as, quote, ‘big strong boys for farm work,’ should shock the conscience of us all.”

“There are few greater violations of human rights and human dignity than this.”

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Pakistani Senators Express Concern Over Disappearances Of People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWS AGENCY DAWN)

 

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights on Thursday expressed severe concerns over the issue of missing persons and said that those responsible were yet to be identified.

Senator Nasreen Jalil, who was chairing a meeting of the committee, asked who was behind the disappearances of people.

“People were gone missing but still those responsible have not been identified, ” she noted, adding that it was a matter of grave concern.

It is also condemnable that registration of the First Information Reports in such cases is often denied, she said.

“The issue of missing persons is still ongoing in the country as another list of 131 missing persons has surfaced,” she added.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that according to international laws, a country was bound to protect the rights of people living there. He, however, confessed that as a state they have failed to ensure the provision of human rights to people.

Referring to the violations of human rights in Punjab, Senator Mir Kabeer said that more than 100 labourers in Mandi Bahahuddin had sold their kidneys to pay back loans their parents took.

Senator Nisar Mohammad Khan also expressed concerns over violations of the rights of children and women.

In an earlier meeting, the committee had held law enforcement agencies responsible for the ‘disappearing’ of people.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court too had called for a detailed report on all missing persons detained at all government facilities.

Pope Urges End Of Violence In Venezuela And For Government To Respect Human Rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Pope Francis urged on Sunday for an end to the violence that has marred the anti-government protests in Venezuela.

He called for the respect of human rights where nearly 30 people were killed in unrest this month.

Francis, speaking to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly address, decried a “grave humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis that is exhausting the population”.

Venezuela’s opposition is demanding elections, autonomy for the legislature where they have a majority, a humanitarian aid channel from abroad to alleviate an economic crisis, and freedom for more than 100 activists jailed by President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to the government and all components of Venezuelan society to avoid any more forms of violence, respect human rights and seek a negotiated solution …,” he said.

Supporters say Leopoldo Lopez, the jailed head of the hardline opposition Popular Will party, and others are political prisoners whose arrests symbolize Maduro’s lurch into dictatorship.

Maduro says all are behind bars for legitimate crimes, and calls Lopez, 45, a violent hothead intent on promoting a coup.

Vatican-led talks between the government and the opposition have broken down.

Francis told reporters on the plane returning from Cairo on Saturday that “very clear conditions” were necessary for the talks to resume.

On Friday, Venezuela formally notified the Organization of American States of its intention to leave the regional body amid the protests at home and international calls for its embattled government to hold delayed elections and release prisoners.

Venezuelan interim ambassador Carmen Velasquez submitted a letter announcing the move in Washington to OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, a strong critic of socialist President Maduro.

The notice begins a two-year exit process from the Western Hemisphere’s largest diplomatic body, which had become a forum for its neighbors to exert pressure on Venezuela.

“This is a historic moment that marks a new independence for Venezuela and the region,” said Velasquez, adding that Venezuela would be the first country to leave the Washington-based bloc this way. “We are not going to be participating in any OAS activities.”

On Friday, hundreds marched to a military prison outside Caracas to demand the release of opposition Lopez and other jailed activists they consider political prisoners.

The march was part of an intensifying campaign by the opposition to force Maduro from office. More than 1,300 people have been arrested in almost four weeks of street clashes.

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A Scourge To Human Morality: 110 Women And Children Have Starved To Death In Somalia In Last 48 Hours

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

MAR 5 2017, 3:06 PM ET

Somalia: 110 Dead From Hunger in Past 48 Hours in Drought

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somalia’s prime minister announced Saturday that 110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in a single region as a severe drought threatens millions of people across the country.

It was the first death toll announced by Somalia’s government since it declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. The United Nations estimates that 5 million people in this Horn of Africa nation need aid, amid warnings of a full-blown famine.

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire spoke during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee. The death toll he announced is from the Bay region in the southwest part of the country alone.

Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the U.N. secretary-general last month in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine, along with northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. All are connected by a thread of violent conflict, the U.N. chief said.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, was expected to visit Somalia in the next few days.

Image: Abdullahi Mohamud, 5, cries next to his mother Sahro Mohamed Mumin, 30, and brother, Abdulrahman Mahamud, 2, as a nurse struggles to find a vein for an injection at a government run health clinic in Shada, Somalia.
Abdullahi Mohamud, 5, cries next to his mother Sahro Mohamed Mumin, 30, and brother, Abdulrahman Mahamud, 2, as a nurse struggles to find a vein for an injection at a government-run health clinic in Shada, Somalia. Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images

Thousands have been streaming into Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies. Over 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding center recently.

The drought is the first crisis for Somalia’s newly elected Somali-American leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Previous droughts and a quarter-century of conflict, including ongoing attacks by extremist group al-Shabab, have left the country fragile. Mohamed has appealed to the international community and Somalia’s diaspora of 2 million people for help.

About 363,000 acutely malnourished children in Somalia “need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished,” the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network has warned.

Because of a lack of clean water in many areas, there is the additional threat of cholera and other diseases, U.N. experts say. Some deaths from cholera already have been reported.

The government has said the widespread hunger “makes people vulnerable to exploitation, human rights abuses and to criminal and terrorist networks.”

The U.N. humanitarian appeal for 2017 for Somalia is $864 million to provide assistance to 3.9 million people. But the U.N. World Food Program recently requested an additional $26 million plan to respond to the drought.

Anywhere America Steps Back: China’s Communist Government Steps Forward

 

THE WEEKEND ROUNDUP 

A new rift in world affairs appears to be opening up: a division between pro-globalization Asia, with China in the lead, and the transatlantic nations that have turned against globalization.

“President Xi’s appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos next week,” I write in a blog post this week, “comes at both an auspicious and inauspicious moment. It is an auspicious moment because President-elect Donald Trump has all but announced America’s withdrawal from the world it has largely made over recent decades — and from which Asia has most benefited.” Since Europe has become inwardly absorbed with anxieties over terror attacks, immigration and failed integration, I continue, “that leaves China as the one major power with a global outlook. Ready or not, China has become the de facto world leader seeking to maintain an open global economy and battle climate change. In effect, President Xi has become the ‘core leader’ of globalization.”

“The inauspicious aspect is the reverse,” I go on to say. “The general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party is speaking to the converted from the pulpit in the foremost church of the global elite that gathers annually in Davos. Aligning with the global business elites in such a high profile manner places China even more squarely in the negative sights of the populist wave sweeping the Western democracies. It affirms in their minds that China is the main enemy of the working and middle class in the West.” China’s increasing show of force in the South China Sea this week in response to what it sees as provocations by the incoming U.S. administration also does it little favor in Western eyes.

Alexis Crow makes the counter-case that globalization continues to be beneficial to the West, saying trade is closely correlated with economic growth. “Increased wages in Southeast Asia boost demand for goods from new economy sectors in the West,” she writes. She also notes, as a case in point, how Chinese investment is creating thousands of jobs in Ohio.

Writing from Vladivostok, Artyom Lukin wonders how heightening conflict with China, as Trump tilts toward a closer embrace of Moscow, will play out. “Given Trump’s obvious hostility to China and his friendliness to Russia,” he writes, “Moscow may move into the apex spot of the triangle, having better relations with Beijing and Washington than they have with each other.” As Lukin sees it, Russian President Vladimir Putin may well seek to, “position himself as a sort of mediator between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.”

Based on his experiences with Putin, Alexey Kovalev offers some advice as a Russian journalist to his American colleagues who this week faced their first press conference with Donald Trump. “Facts don’t matter. You can’t hurt this man with facts or reason. He’ll always outmaneuver you. He’ll always wriggle out of whatever carefully crafted verbal trap you lay for him. Whatever he says, you won’t be able to challenge him.” He welcomes his American colleagues to “the era of bullshit.” Fearing this is only the beginning of what’s to come in the battle between Trump and the press, Howard Fineman writes, “It’s not a video game. It’s Washington in the Trump era, and we’ve just seen an unsettling preview.”

Many Africans are also wondering how a Trump presidency that is hostile to China will unfold for them. As Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden report, while America’s role in the world is growing uncertain, China is becoming more predictably favorable. As the year opened, China outlawed its domestic ivory trade and Foreign Minister Wang Yi is making a visit to Africa his first overseas trip of the year. China has also committed $60 billion in financing for African projects.

Writing from Singapore, Parag Khanna takes another tack entirely, suggesting that an America caught up in the turmoil of a populist backlash might learn a thing or two not only from other successful states like Germany, but from China as well. America, Khanna observes, “is caught in a hapless cycle of flip-flopping parties and policies while overall national welfare stagnates. Populism has prevailed over pragmatism.” He further remarks that, even in the West, there is grudging admiration for, “China’s ability to get things done without perpetual factionalism holding up national priorities, such as infrastructure.”

The populist drift in both the U.S. and Europe deeply concerns the Human Rights Watch organization, Nick Visser reports. “They scapegoat refugees, immigrant communities, and minorities. Truth is a frequent casualty,” he cites the watchdog’s director, Kenneth Roth, as saying. Nick Robins-Early looks at the trend of populism in Europe, noting that this year will be a test for the far-right, specifically in France, Germany and The Netherlands.

Writing from New Delhi, Swati Chaturvedi fears the consequences of the anti-Muslim and anti-woman hate speech that seems part and parcel of a Hindu brand of populism taking hold in India today. “Trolls,” she says, “are the goons of the online world. … lies and violent words can have deadly consequences in the real world.”

In an interview, former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr sees opportunity for the regime in a Trump presidency where others see only trouble. “Khamenei’s supporters believe not only that Trump will maintain the Vienna nuclear agreement,” he says, “but also that his policies in Syria and the Middle East will maintain the interests of the regime.”

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, also has a positive spin on the negativity surrounding President-elect Trump. He thinks Americans are more than capable of rising to disruptive challenges of new technologies behind so much political anxiety today. Wheeler argues that the slogan “‘Make America Great Again’ became a surrogate for ‘Make me secure again amidst all this change.’ Great swaths of the electorate sought stability in a world where everything seemed to be changing.” Wheeler reminds his fellow Americans that they’ve been here before: “Like today,” he says, “the technology revolution of the 19th century produced a longing for stability. But instead of retreating, Americans pushed forward to build a new security around new concepts. Universal education, employee rights, governmental offsets to abusive market power and other initiatives targeted the new problems. The result was the good old days many now long for.”

Writing from Geneva, Richard Baldwin sees a double blow to the labor market – in both rich and poor countries ― of both offshoring and robots. “Rapid advances in computing power and communication technology,” he contends, “will make it economical for many more people to work remotely across borders.” As medical costs rise in the rich countries, for example, Baldwin expects to see more and more “telesurgery” where the patient and doctor are divided by hundreds of miles.

In this world so afflicted by hatred and violence, Turkish novelist Kaya Genc also sees a way to unite amidst division, finding beauty and peace in the quotidian event of a winter snowfall. “Snow saved Istanbul,” he writes this week from his beloved hometown on the shores of the Bosphorous. “As flakes fell from the sky, the city was relieved of its status as the new destination of international terror. … There was a hint of something chilling in the air, and I felt relieved that it was not man-made.” 

40,000 Christians Feel Safer Under President Assad: Terrified ‘Rebels’ Will Return

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TED SHOEBAT’S WEBSITE)

Forty Thousand Christians Say That They Feel Safer Under Bashar Al-Assad And Are Terrified Of The Islamic Rebels Returning To Their Neighborhoods

By Theodore ShoebatForty thousand Christians living in Aleppo feel safer now that their city is under Bashar al-Assad — thanks to Russia — and fear the return of the Islamic rebels, as we read in one report:

The estimated 40,000 Christians in Aleppo are not among the civilians who are dreading the fall of the city to the Russia and Iran-backed regime of dictator Bashar al Assad, according to a charity group that helps persecuted Christians. These Christians instead reportedly fear the return of the rebels to Aleppo, particularly the jihadi coalition known as Jaish Al Fatah, or ‘Army of Conquest,’ that includes the likes of the Syrian al-Qaeda branch formerly known as the Nusra Front before it became Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Front for the Conquest of the Levant).

Jaish Al Fatah has been “heavily involved” in the battle for Aleppo and the persecution of Christians in the city, claims the charity group Barnabas Fund.

Until recently, Aleppo city had been roughly divided between Assad regime control in the west and rebel control in the east since 2012.

The Russian government and the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses a network of ground sources to monitor the ongoing civil war in Syria, have declared that the Assad regime is now in control of Aleppo.

Russian-backed Assad forces and their Iranian-allied counterparts operating on the ground have been accused of “genocide” against civilians in the former rebel stronghold of eastern Aleppo.

Anti-Democracy Democrats Riot In Portland Oregon: Lock The Law Breakers Up!

 

Portland’s anti-Trump protest turns violent, as rioters rampage in Pearl

Jim Ryan | The Oregonian/OregonLiveBy Jim Ryan | The Oregonian/OregonLive
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on November 10, 2016 at 6:30 PM, updated November 10, 2016 at 10:32 PM

A third consecutive day of anti-Trump demonstrations turned violent Thursday night, as protesters began with a march and chanting but eventually smashed cars at a dealership and rampaged through the Pearl District shattering business windows.

Police declared the demonstration a “riot” more than three hours after its 5 p.m. start, citing “extensive criminal and dangerous behavior.” The bureau said it warned the crowd about the designation, then tweeted that rioting is a class C felony.

The crowd – at least on par with the 2,000 that gathered the night before — started at Pioneer Courthouse Square in the early evening before taking off on a route that included a stop at the Portland waterfront and trip over the Hawthorne Bridge into Southeast Portland.

It eventually moved into Northeast Portland, where at least 19 cars at Toyota of Portland were vandalized, according to a sales manager.

Protesters then made their way west across the Broadway Bridge and into the Pearl District, where business windows along Northwest Lovejoy Street and elsewhere were smashed.

About 9:45 p.m., police in riot gear confronted the crowd and shut down the North Park Blocks area. They warned that some protesters were preparing “gas and flares” and that participants should leave for their own safety.

Police said protesters should return to Pioneer Courthouse Square to continue peaceful protest, and those remaining would be arrested.

It was unclear if any arrests had been made by 10 p.m. Most protesters were moving in the direction of Pioneer square; a few remained in the park blocks area.

Cries of “destroy the Pearl!” That’s a fancy area. Lots of money there.

 (THIS KIND OF HUMAN TRASH IS WHAT IS ACTUALLY WRONG WITH THE UNITED STATES, THEY THINK THAT THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO SHOULD HAVE ANY RIGHTS, CIVIL OR OTHERWISE. ARREST THE ONES THAT ARE DOING THE RIOTING, EVERY ONE OF THEM, CHARGE THEM AND LOCK THEM UP!)(TRS)

Protesters stayed off freeways as of 8 p.m. — a departure from the previous two nights’ anti-Trump efforts. Authorities briefly closed freeways as a precaution, TriMet trains and buses were affected, and traffic was disrupted where protesters passed.

Tensions flared at times between protesters and motorists, with police tweeting they received reports of “vandalism and aggressive behavior” in the protest crowd. Altercations included a motorist’s windshield being cracked while she tried to navigate through protesters, saying she needed to tend to an emergency.

Some observers reported that a woman apparently was injured after some demonstrators said she was throwing liquid Tide at protesters. A bottle of Tide lay on the ground nearby as demonstrators called for protest medics to tend to the woman, who stayed on the ground for a few minutes.

Trump tweeted mid-Thursday night about the protests that have erupted across the country, calling them “unfair” and prompted by the media.

Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!

A new activist group galvanized by Trump’s election promoted the protest, which was one of multiple demonstrations Thursday in Portland. Dubbed Portland’s Resistance and composed of students and youth from protests that took over freeways Wednesday morning and night, spokesman Gregory McKelvey said the organization will use anti-Trump efforts to prop up local movements.

Protest chants included the rallying call of “Not my president,” in reference to the newly elected Trump. Some protesters carried signs, among them: “Oppression thrives off isolation. Stand united.” “We reject the fascist agenda.” “You’re fired!”

Halim Byron said he decided to join in the latest protest partly because he believes Trump flouts convention — then flaunts it.

“He does what he wants to, and he’s made that a cornerstone of his campaign,” said Byron, a 60-year-old Portland resident.

Kaden Burdick, a 20-year-old Portland resident, said he sees the election of Trump as a rise of white supremacy and wants to fight against racism, xenophobia and homophobia that Trump’s comments appear to have unleashed.

As the larger Waterfront rally gathered, a smaller, faith-based group remained back in the small, tiered space in Pioneer Courthouse Square’s northwest corner. Leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and First Nations faiths spoke to the crowd that lingered long after the larger Trump protest embarked onto downtown Portland’s streets.

The leaders put together the event to coincide with the march, said Rev. Michael Ellick, senior minister of First Congregational United Church of Christ.

Follow along below for updates.

Ellick, who served as emcee for a parade of speakers, said before the event in a news release: “For just about anybody who isn’t white, for anybody who isn’t in the top 1 percent and — you know — for all women everywhere — there is a lot of fear right now. So it’s more important than ever for the spiritual and moral adults on this planet to show up, speak clearly and get organized.”

The audience lingered at least an hour after the larger group departed, mostly listening to speakers and occasionally breaking into song, such as the spiritual, “We Shall Overcome.”

They were dwarfed by a 75-foot Douglas fir that had been set up just hours earlier in preparation for the city’s annual holiday tree-lighting ceremony on the day after Thanksgiving.

Video by Maxwell Radi/The Oregonian/OregonLive

TriMet earlier had warned again that MAX lines and most buses would likely experience significant delays because of the protests — in Pioneer Square, as well as elsewhere around the city, including Mt. Tabor Park and Holladay Park. Some stations and stops may close for safety reasons, the agency said.

TriMet tweeted an appeal for protesters to not block public transit. The agency said it respects the right to peacefully demonstrate, but “if you’re out there making your voice heard, please don’t disrupt transit service. … Similarly, we ask that you don’t vandalize our equipment.”

While the smashing was going on across the river, a group of about 50 people sat on steps or stood waiting to take a microphone along the downtown waterfront as a scattering of votive candles flickered on the ground. They talked about losing a loved one to HIV, supporting Hillary Clinton and even laughed at ways to best challenge Trump.

Two people sat side by side with a sign that said “We shall overcome.” A woman with children listened intently.

— Jim Ryan and Allan Brettman
[email protected][email protected]

New ISIS ‘Minister Of War’ Was Trained In U.S. Military Intelligence Procedures!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

MOSCOW — In a propaganda video released last year, an Islamic State militant wearing a black bandanna and cradling a sniper rifle made the usual grim threats against the United States. Now, there may be a new twist to his warnings.

The militant, Gulmurod Khalimov, a former police commander from Tajikistan, boasted of his extensive American military training — truthfully, it turns out. But some news accounts say he was subsequently promoted to military commander of the Islamic State.

“I was in America three times,” Mr. Khalimov said in the video, which appeared online last year. “God willing, I will come with this weapon to your cities, to your homes, and we will kill you.”

That prospect remains highly unlikely. But there is no doubt that as he rose in the ranks of a special police force in Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic, Mr. Khalimov received extensive taxpayer-funded military training from the United States to help counter drug-running and extremism along the border with Afghanistan.

Continue reading the main story

Now, Mr. Khalimov appears to have become the second senior commander of the Islamic State, the terrorist group he defected to last year, to have benefited from American military training provided to former Soviet states.

Mr. Khalimov’s precise rank is unclear; he could be the group’s so-called minister of war, or military commander-in-chief. In any case, the State Department, which oversaw his training, thinks he is important enough that on Aug. 30, it offered a $3 million reward for information on his whereabouts. The Islamic State’s previous military commander was killed in an airstrike earlier this year.

The State Department has been publicizing the reward in Tajikistan, where relatives or acquaintances might have salient information.

Kurt R. Rice, the department’s acting assistant director for threat investigations, told Tajik journalists in September that Mr. Khalimov’s American training made him a particular danger, but he did not elaborate on Mr. Khalimov’s role in the terrorist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

“He can use this knowledge to create difficulties for our countries,” Mr. Rice said. “He’s a person who can create difficulties.” Mr. Rice’s office declined a request to interview him about Mr. Khalimov’s training, citing his travel schedule.

After the State Department announced the reward, an Iraqi news agency, Alsumaria, reported that Mr. Khalimov had been promoted to military commander for the Islamic State, replacing Omar al-Shishani, an ethnic Chechen from Georgia who was killed in the airstrike. Russian news outlets have also said Mr. Khalimov was promoted, but neither those accounts nor the Iraqi report could be independently verified.

“The U.S. putting a bounty on his head is significant,” Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, in London, said in a telephone interview. “But it’s not possible to know if he’s the strategist of military operations.”

Further muddying the picture, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist propaganda, has found no formal Islamic State announcement of Mr. Khalimov’s position, according to Adam Raisman, an analyst who studies the group’s postings.

If Mr. Khalimov was, in fact, promoted, he would be the second Islamic State commander-in-chief to have been trained in American military aid programs in the former Soviet Union. Mr. Shishani, whose real name was Tarkhan Batirashvili, had served in the Georgian Army, which is equipped and funded by the United States as a bulwark against Russian expansion.

American military aid to Tajikistan is more narrowly focused on fighting terrorism and narcotics, because the country is a close ally of Russia. The aid has flowed even though Tajikistan is ruled by an eccentric and authoritarian president, Emomali Rakhmonov, whose police forces are often accused of abuses.

Along with jailing dissidents and using excessive force — in one case, killing 20 civilians in a paramilitary action — Mr. Rakhmonov’s police forces have been accused of more unusual human rights abuses. A provincial governor recently said that he had forcibly shaved the beards of 13,000 men suspected of sympathizing with fundamentalist Islamists.

Muhiddin Kabiri, the exiled leader of Tajikistan’s main opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Khalimov “was always against the moderate opposition” and that his police unit was known for abuses, but that the United States had turned a blind eye.

The State Department provided five training courses for Mr. Khalimov, three of them in the United States, including at least one run by the company once known as Blackwater in Baton Rouge, La. A spokesman has said the department vetted Mr. Khalimov and did not violate the Leahy Law, which prohibits the government from providing military training to foreign military units that violate human rights.

With American training programs on his résumé, Mr. Khalimov became commander of a paramilitary police force in 2013, raising alarm among human rights groups about the training even before he defected to the Islamic State.

“The U.S. military has been providing a lot of expertise and training to abusive and repressive governments in Central Asia,” Steve Swerdlow, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in a telephone interview.

“Military cooperation has to be contingent on human rights,” Mr. Swerdlow said. “Tajikistan got a free pass despite the atrocious situation with human rights.”

American military training programs are generally carried out by the Defense Department but overseen by the State Department, an arrangement that broke down in Tajikistan, according to a 2015 report by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General that looked into the American response to the Tajik police operation that killed 20 civilians in 2012.

Mr. Khalimov, then a deputy commander of the special police unit, took part in that operation but still continued his American military training until 2013.

The report found that the Office of Military Cooperation, the Pentagon group that arranged training for the suspect police units, had also conducted the investigation into the killings — effectively determining that Mr. Khalimov’s training was legal — rather than the political section of the United States Embassy in Tajikistan, which should have overseen the military education programs.

The report concluded that the lack of oversight undermined “confidence that the embassy provides a full and reliable picture of local developments.”

While it is unclear exactly what training Mr. Khalimov received, a 2008 diplomatic cable from the embassy released by WikiLeaks explained what the paramilitary police and other units requested.

The groups wanted training in “mission analysis and the military decision-making process, intelligence preparation of the battlefield, direct action, raids and ambushes, special reconnaissance, close quarters combat and battle, sniper and observe operations, military operations in urban terrain.”

Chinese security official elected Interpol chief

 

Chinese security official elected Interpol chief

Story highlights

  • Meng Hongwei is first Chinese official to head Interpol
  • China seeking international cooperation in hunt for corrupt officials overseas

Hong Kong (CNN)A top Chinese security minister has been elected president of the international crime fighting and police cooperation organization Interpol.

Meng Hongwei, China’s vice minister for public security and a former head of Interpol China, took the post Thursday at the organization’s general assembly in Bali, Indonesia.
According to a statement from Interpol, he said he stood ready to do everything he could towards the cause of policing the world. “We currently face some of the most serious global public security challenges since World War Two,” said Mr Meng.
The move could bolster China’s efforts to repatriate fugitive officials but critics have voiced concern that Beijing could use the crime-fighting body to track down dissidents based overseas.
He is the first Chinese official to become Interpol president, according to Xinhua.
Interpol’s secretary-general is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day work of the organization, currently Jurgen Stock.
The election of a Chinese policeman to head the world’s largest law enforcement agency is highly concerning, said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International regional director for East Asia.
“(This is) someone who presides over a police force notorious for human rights abuses and is a tool for political enforcement of a one party system,” he told CNN.
Bequelin also pointed to previous incidents where China has sought to use Interpol red notices — which place people on global wanted lists — against political dissidents.
According to Article 3 of Interpol’s Constitution, “it is strictly forbidden for the organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”
One Chinese dissident placed on an Interpol red notice by China is Dolkun Isa, despite his being granted political asylum by Germany, according to International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Isa is head of the World Uyghur Congress, which speaks on behalf of Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking, largely Muslim minority living in China’s Xinjiang province.
Western governments have long refused to enforce the notice against Isa, but in 2016, he was denied a visa to visit India due to his status. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei justified this on the grounds that Isa is “wanted for violent terrorist activities.”

Foxhunt

As well as targeting dissidents, China has long pushed for international cooperation in seeking repatriation of corrupt officials who have fled overseas.
Operation Foxhunt has seen more than 2,000 “economic fugitives”, including 342 former officials, returned to China since 2014, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
“Western countries can’t become ‘safe havens’ for corrupt fugitives. No matter where they have escaped to, we will try every means to bring them back,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in 2014.
Bequelin said that “nobody is opposed to China exercising leadership roles in international organizations if it is done in a way that is in line with good practice.”
“But there are many areas where China’s own record is worrying in that respect and policing would definitely come at the top of this list,” he added.
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