Tag Archives: crackdown

Protests Expand in Brazil, Fueled by Video of Police Brutality

By ROBERT MACKEY

As my colleague Simon Romero reports from São Paulo, more than 200,000 Brazilians filled the streets in cities across the country on Monday to protest the high cost of living and lavish spending on soccer stadiums ahead of next year’s World Cup, in demonstrations that have intensified as images of police brutality against peaceful protesters spread on social networks.

While the dynamic of heavy-handed police tactics, like the use of pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets, intensifying rather than quelling protests echoes recent events in Turkey — not to mention those in the Unites States, Spain, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 — one difference is that some of the images of the police crackdown in Brazil that stirred the most anger were captured by reporters for local newspapers and television stations, not just protesters or foreign correspondents.

One striking account of the violence used on protesters last week in Brazil’s largest city, captured in a video viewed more than a million times on YouTube, was narrated by Giuliana Vallone, a reporter for the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, who was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet at point-blank range by one of the police “shock troops” deployed against the protesters.

Read more » The New York Times
http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/18/protests-expand-in-brazil-fueled-by-video-of-police-brutality/

China urges Pakistan to act against East Turkistan Islamic Movement militants: Report

China has urged Pakistan to take effective measures to stop the activities of East Turkistan Islamic Movement (TIM) militants present in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), reported BBC Urdu on Thursday.

According to the report, the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi currently visiting Pakistan said that it was their belief that militants belonging to the TIM are influencing the Chinese province Xinjiang, which has a Muslim majority population.

Xinjiang, which is home to the Uighur Muslims, has faced increased terrorist activities in recent years, inviting a crackdown by Chinese forces. The restive province which shares a border with Pakistan, has been under heavy security since July 2009, when the Uighurs launched attacks on Han people in the regional capital Urumqi.

Sources within the Chinese Foreign Ministry, on condition of anonymity, told BBC that Chinese officials discussed the matter with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari along with other officials during several meetings, where the Pakistani foreign secretary was also summoned.

The BBC Urdu report added that most of those belonging to the TIM have taken refuge in Pakistan’s tribal areas, from where they cross the border into China after receiving training.

Continue reading China urges Pakistan to act against East Turkistan Islamic Movement militants: Report

Al Qaeda and its apologists in Pakistan

Al Qaeda and its apologists

By Raza Rumi

The new al Qaeda chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri in his new video statement has urged the people of Pakistan to overthrow the “corrupt” government in Islamabad. Interestingly, he has also asked the people to rise against the Pakistan Army, which has been fighting a battle against some extremist groups in the north west of the country. Al Qaeda has been making such desperate calls for a decade now. But the worrying part is that the message — or its operative part — has gained currency in many middle class Pakistanis. Despite the crackdown, Hizbut Tahreer (HuT) continues to operate like several other militant groups. The extent of its advocacy for overthrowing the generals and the politicians is such that a HuT affiliated senior army official is on trial these days.

But these trials and military interventions are pointless when Islamabad, virtually a security zone, displays HuT posters and stickers almost everywhere. Why are the activists not tracked down and why do the government and the all-powerful intelligence agencies allow proliferation of such propaganda? A partial explanation is that elements of the state are also steeped in this a similar mindset. It is an established fact that the composition of the officers’ corps in the army and civilian bureaucracy is overwhelmingly middle class.

In his latest statement, again al-Zawahiri has mentioned the 70-year-old American aid worker Dr Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped in August 2011 from Lahore. The message from al Qaeda is that Weinstein will not be released until their demands are met. Among others, a key demand is the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist sentenced by the US courts and currently languishing in an American prison. Ms Aafia’s story is still incomplete and there are competing claims over her role in perpetrating ‘terrorism’ as well as her innocence. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

U.S falls to 47th in press freedom rankings after Occupy crackdown

By Ellen Connolly

Sweeping protests around the world made it an extremely difficult year for the media, and tested journalists as never before, the annual report into press freedom reveals.

The annual report by Reporters Without Borders has been released, showing the United States fell 27 points on the list due to the many arrests of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street protests.

The slide in the United States places it just behind Comoros and Taiwan in a group with Argentina and Romania.

Reporters Without Borders said the heightened unrest around the world resulted in a significant shake-up of the group’s annual Press Freedom Index, which assesses governments’ commitment to protecting media freedoms.

The Paris-based non-governmental Reporters Without Borders has named “crackdown” the word of 2011 in an assessment of global media freedom during a year in which journalists covering sweeping protests were tested as never before.

The non-governmental organisation seeks to defend journalists’ freedom to work and combat censorship internationally. ….

Read more » daily Mail. co. uk

Shocking: Unconscious girl brutally beaten by Egypt military

The blog-o-sphere is boiling at the cruel beating of a female protester by Egyptian military police, who continued battling protesters in Tahrir Square on Sunday. The clashes, into their third day now, have left 10 people dead and hundreds injured. ­The video uploaded on YouTube Sunday reveals the extreme cruelty of the country’s law enforcers during the crackdown. The army soldiers in full riot gear have been savagely beating a seemingly unconscious female protester with big sticks, kicking her and stomping on her chest. Security forces lashed out ruthlessly on armless civilians and burned down tents that had been put up by activists outside the parliament building to camp in protest against the military rule. The internet community therefore questions the methods of the military regime who took over power after the ousting of the ex-President Hosni Mubarak in February.

» YouTube

 

Dying to Tell the Story

By UMAR CHEEMA

Islamabad, Pakistan: WE have buried another journalist. Syed Saleem Shahzad, an investigative reporter for Asia Times Online, has paid the ultimate price for telling truths that the authorities didn’t want people to hear. He disappeared a few days after writing an article alleging that Al Qaeda elements had penetrated Pakistan’s navy and that a military crackdown on them had precipitated the May 22 terrorist attack on a Karachi naval base. His death has left Pakistani journalists shaken and filled with despair.

I couldn’t sleep the night that Saleem’s death was confirmed. The fact that he was tortured sent me back to a chilly night last September, when I was abducted by government agents. During Saleem’s funeral service, a thought kept haunting me: “It could have been me.”

Mourning journalists lined up after the service to console me, saying I was lucky to get a lease on life that Saleem was denied. But luck is a relative term.

Adil, my 2-year-old son, was the first person in my thoughts after I was abducted. Journalists in Pakistan don’t have any institutionalized social security system; those killed in the line of duty leave their families at the mercy of a weak economy.

When my attackers came, impersonating policemen arresting me on a fabricated charge of murder, I felt helpless. My mouth muzzled and hands cuffed, I couldn’t inform anybody of my whereabouts, not even the friends I’d dropped off just 15 minutes before. My cellphone was taken away and switched off. Despite the many threats I’d received, I never expected this to happen to me.

Sure, I had written many stories exposing the corrupt practices of high-ranking officials and pieces criticizing the army and the intelligence agencies. After they were published, Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s prime security agency, always contacted me. I was first advised not to write too much about them and later sent messages laced with subtle threats. But I never imagined action was imminent.

On Sept. 4, I was driven to an abandoned house instead of a police station, where I was stripped naked and tortured with a whip and a wooden rod. While a man flogged me, I asked what crime had brought me this punishment. Another man told me: “Your reporting has upset the government.” It was not a crime, and therefore I did not apologize.

Instead, I kept praying, “Oh God, why am I being punished?” The answer came from the ringleader: “If you can’t avoid rape, enjoy it.” He would employ abusive language whenever he addressed me.

“Have you ever been tortured before?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“These marks will stay with you forever, offering you a reminder never to defy the authorities,” he replied.

They tortured me for 25 minutes, shaved my head, eyebrows and moustache and then filmed and photographed my naked body. I was dumped nearly 100 miles outside Islamabad with a warning not to speak up or face the consequences.

The following months were dreadful. I suffered from a sleep disorder. I would wake up fearing that someone was beating my back. I wouldn’t go jogging, afraid that somebody would pick me up again and I’d never return. Self-imposed house arrest is the life I live today; I don’t go outside unless I have serious business. I have been chased a number of times after the incident. Now my son asks me questions about my attackers that I don’t answer. I don’t want to sow the seeds of hatred in his heart.

When Saleem disappeared, I wondered if he had been thinking about his children, as I had. He had left Karachi, his hometown, after receiving death threats, and settled with his wife and three children in Islamabad. From there, he often went on reporting trips to the tribal areas along the Afghan border. Tahir Ali, a mutual friend, would ask him: “Don’t you feel scared in the tribal areas?” Saleem would smile and say: “Death could come even in Islamabad.” His words were chilling, and prescient.

The killing of Syed Saleem Shahzad is yet another terrifying reminder to Pakistani journalists. He is the fifth to die in the first five months of 2011. Journalists are shot like stray dogs in Pakistan — easily killed because their assassins sit at the pinnacle of power.

When Daniel Pearl was brutally murdered by militants in Karachi in 2002, his case was prosecuted and four accomplices to the crime were sentenced. This happened only because Mr. Pearl was an American journalist. Had he been a Pakistani, there would have been no justice.

Today, impunity reigns and no organization is powerful enough to pressure the government to bring Saleem’s killers to justice. Journalists have shown resilience, but it is hard to persevere when the state itself becomes complicit in the crime. Now those speaking up for Saleem are doing so at a price: they are being intimidated and harassed.

Pakistan is at a crossroads and so is its news media. In a situation of doom and gloom, Pakistani journalists offer a ray of hope to their fellow citizens and they have earned the people’s trust. Even the former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has admitted that people who once went to the police with complaints now go to the press.

But this trust will be eroded if journalists continue to be bullied into walking away from the truth. News organizations throughout the world must join hands in seeking justice for Saleem and ending the intelligence agencies’ culture of impunity. An award for investigative journalists should be created in his honor, as was done for Daniel Pearl. No stronger message could be delivered to his killers than making him immortal.

Umar Cheema is an investigative reporter at The News International, Pakistan’s largest English-language daily. He was a Daniel Pearl Fellow at The Times in 2008.

Courtesy: The New York Times

Looks like noose is being tighten around the establishment

US brands Haqqani network commander as terrorist

By Arun Kumar, IANS

Washington, May 11 (IANS) In a crackdown on terrorists operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US has designated the commander of a Pakistan-based insurgent group as a terrorist and banned Americans from doing business with him.

The State and Treasury departments said Wednesday that they had added Badruddin Haqqani to their list of ‘specially designated global terrorists’, a step that will freeze any assets he may have in US jurisdictions.

Badruddin Haqqani is the senior military commander of the Haqqani group and a son of the group’s founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani, who had previously been designated as a terrorist by the US.

The Taliban-affiliated group operates from North Waziristan, a tribal area in Pakistan, and conducts attacks on US troops in Afghanistan, the State Department said.

The step will help stem the flow of financial assistance to a dangerous individual, it said.

The United Nations has also added Badruddin Haqqani to its list of Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists, a step that requires all UN member states to implement an assets freeze, a travel ban, and an arms embargo against him.

Badruddin Haqqani took responsibility in November 2008 for the kidnapping of New York Times reporter David Rohde. The reporter escaped in June 2009.

Courtesy: Yahoo News

Bahrain or Bust?

Pakistan should think twice before meddling in the Middle East.

By Miranda Husain

Excerpt:

Less than three weeks after Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) forces, led by Saudi Arabia, entered Bahrain to aid the anti-democracy crackdown there, dignitaries from both oil-rich kingdoms did their separate rounds in Pakistan. The royal houses of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are nervous, and they need Pakistan’s mercenaries, and—if necessary—military muscle to shore them up.

This is a remarkable turn of events for Asif Ali Zardari, who had been trying since he was elected president in 2008 to secure Saudi oil on sweetheart terms. He had been unsuccessful in his efforts because … Saudis view his leadership with some degree of skepticism. It also doesn’t help that Zardari, … is big on improving relations with … Tehran. Riyadh now appears inclined to export oil on terms that better suit cash-strapped Islamabad. Manama, too, wants to play ball. It wants increased defense cooperation and has pledged to prioritize Pakistan’s hopes for a free-trade agreement with the GCC in return. But Zardari and his Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, should fight the urge to get mired in the Middle East. …

“The U.S. has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations,” says Chomsky. “Pakistan was one of the ‘cops on the beat’ that the Nixon administration had in mind when outlining their doctrine for controlling the Arab world,” he says. Pakistan has such “severe internal problems” that it may not be able to play this role even if asked to. But the real reason that Pakistan should avoid this role is so that it can stand on the right side of history, alongside those who are fighting for democracy.

To read full article : NewsWeekPakistan

Please show respect to the millions of people in Arab countries who have risen against dictatorships. It is an insult to them if you consider their movements US-inspired-instigated

Unrest in Syria: What you need to know

By Zachary Roth

The uprising in Libya, which provoked military intervention by the United States and its allies to avert a brutal government crackdown, has dominated this week’s headlines. But meanwhile, there’s new unrest in yet another Middle Eastern nation–one with perhaps greater strategic implications for the United States.

Could the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad be set to go the way of the dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia, which were toppled last month by massive popular protests? And what would that mean for the U.S.?

Here’s a rundown on the current situation in Syria:

What exactly has been happening on the ground?

Mass protests against the government have been going on since last week, and on Wednesday, demonstrators in the southern city of Dara’a were killed by al-Assad’s security forces while taking refuge in a mosque. The number of casualties hasn’t been confirmed, but some witnesses have put it as high as 100.

The deaths prompted even bigger anti-government demonstrations in Dara’a yesterday, and today the protests spread to the capital city of Damascus, where people called out: “Dara’a is Syria” and “We will sacrifice ourselves for Syria.” In response, supporters of the president chanted back: “God, Syria, and Bashar, that’s all.” ….

Read more : YahooNews

In Pakistan’s Punjab, an Unconvincing Crackdown on Terrorism

By Omar Waraich / Islamabad

Bowing to intense public pressure, Pakistan’s largest province has finally moved against some local militant groups. The Punjab government, which had until now preferred to look away, last week ordered a crackdown after a series of vicious terrorist attacks on religious groups branded by the militants as heretics, apostates or infidels. Over 40 people were killed on July 1 in an attack at Lahore’s most famous Sufi shrine, sparking outrage across the country as even moderate Muslims staged armed demonstrations and vowed to tackle the militants themselves if the Punjab government declined to act.

Punjab, Pakistan’s largest and wealthiest province, is home to a toxic mix of sectarian and Kashmir-focused jihadist groups that have operated with state patronage since the 1980s. The province also houses the greatest concentration of hard-line madrasahs that supply young, impressionable recruits to jihadist groups. Some of these groups have been responsible for some of the deadliest terror attacks in Pakistan and also in neighboring India and Afghanistan.

Read more >> Time.com

Crackdown against Pakhtoons in Lahore

Report by: Zia Ur Rehman
It is learnt that after Manawan episode, Punjab government has started crackdown against Pakhtoon people living in Lahore in the name of action against Taliban militants, mostly were the poor fruit vendors and labours who migrated to Lahore for earning bread and butter for their families. According to the media reports, Punjab police arrested more than 400 Pakhtoon people from different parts of Lahore.

Continue reading Crackdown against Pakhtoons in Lahore