SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) At least 10 Jordanian officers have been injured as clashes erupted between security forces and Syrian refugees in Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan.
The violence broke out on Friday night after police fired tear gas to disperse Syrian refugees, who held a peaceful protest against poor living conditions and the regulations prohibiting them from leaving the camp. Police sources said two officers were in critical conditions.
Around 160,000 refugees are living in the overcrowded Zaatari camp, which is situated in north of Jordan, on the border with Syria.
Opened in last July, the camp has experienced several incidents of rioting over deteriorating living conditions there.
Jordan, which is home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees, has warned that the unrest in Syria was a threat to its security. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expects the number to Syrian refugees in Jordan to grow to 1.2 million by the end of this year. Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of government forces, have been killed in the violence.
Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
The Syrian government says the West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are supporting the militants.
Several international human rights organizations have accused militants operating in Syria of committing war crimes.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Kenya's defeated presidential contender Raila Odinga has filed a challenge to his election defeat, as police fired teargas to disperse his supporters who had gathered in front of the Supreme Court where the decision will be made.
Lawyers for Odinga, who is Kenya's prime minister, called their petition before the Supreme Court on Saturday a "legitimate legal process" that ensures the will of the people is respected.
Odinga refuses to accept the slim first-round win by his opponent Uhuru Kenyatta, alleging collusion between the president-elect and the electoral commission.
Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri, reporting from Nairobi, said that the Supreme Court had two weeks to decide to uphold the decision of Kenyatta as president or to have a run-off.
"Odinga regrets that five years ago, when he felt the election was stolen from him, there was no process for him to identify those responsible for election crimes." Our correspondent said.
At least one person was wounded on Saturday as police quickly cleared the crowd from the front of the court building.
Some of the supporters wore T-shirts marked with slogans "I support the petition" and "Democracy on trial", an echo of Odinga's statement that his petition would be a test of democracy in Kenya.
"We are dealing with criminals who should not be in State House but in prison," Odinga said on Thursday of his opponents. But, significantly, he is urging his supporters to stay calm as his case is heard in court.
Police hurled tear gas at the crowd, who pulled back before surging forward to within 50 metres of the Supreme Court's gates.
Al Jazeera's reporter described the situation outiside the court as calm after the petition was filed.
"The feeling outside the court among Odinga's supporters is not violent. Odinga has been telling his supporters to wait for the results of the court decision - they can voice their opinions in the streets but it should not turn into a situation like 2007."
Both Kenyatta and the electoral commission deny colluding to rig the election.
Kenya's March 4 election was the first since disputes over a 2007 poll triggered tribal clashes in which more than 1,200 people were killed.
Messages of hate
Unlike the bloody violence that scarred the country five years ago, this time the fighting is largely online.
Machete strikes and bows and arrows are being replaced by bitter Tweets and angry status updates.
The expletive-filled fights in social media have the government worried. The Ministry of Information and Communications said this week that it had been unable to contain "the ugly messages of hate and negative ethnicity" online.
It said many of the messages qualify as hate speech. Some officials worry that the virtual feuding could trigger real-life fighting.
Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president, was declared the winner of the presidential poll on March 9.
Kenyatta, one of Africa's richest men, faces trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague in July for his alleged role in orchestrating the violence.
The president-elect, who avoided a second-round run-off vote by the slimmest of margins to win a majority with just 50.07 percent, beat Odinga - his closest rival - by more than 800,000 votes.
Odinga, who won 43.31 percent of the votes in his third failed attempt at the country's top position, has said he will respect the decision of the Supreme Court even if it rules against him.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Clemency and suppression of anger stand for self-possession in situations that arouse anger. They are noble traits—they indicate self-excellence and result in affection and amicability:
“(Among) the servants of the Beneficent Allah are those who walk gently on the earth and when addressed by the ignorant ones, their only response is, “Peace be with you." (25:63)"
“Virtue and evil are not equal. If you replace evil habits by virtuous ones, you will certainly find that your enemies will become your intimate friends. Only those who exercise patience and who have been granted a great share of Allah's favor can find s uch an opportunity (41:34-5)."
“…And who also harness their anger and forgive the people. Allah loves the righteous ones. (3:134)"
Pursing this, The Ahl ul-Bayt (a) advanced their instructions:
As he noticed that Qanbar was about to answer with revilement the man who had reviled at him, Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) said: “Slow down, Qanbar! Leave him who reviled at you plunging in humility so that you
will please the Beneficent Allah, annoy the Shaitan , and punish your enemy. I swear by Him Who split the seed and made the soul, nothing like clemency for the believers to achieve the satisfaction of the Lord, nothing like silence for them to annoy the Shaitan, and nothing more punishable than leaving th e foolish alone." ( 1 )
“The first remuneration that one can gain for showing clemency is people’s being his supporters against the ignorant." ( 2 )
Imam al-Baqir (a) said: “Allah does like the modest and the clement." ( 3 )
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: When a quarrel takes place, two angels attend there. They say to the foolish party, “You have said such and such. You are worthier of that which you have said. You will be punished for it." For the clement party, the angels say, “ You have stood and showed clemency. Allah will forgive you if you accomplish it." If the clement party answers the other, the angels leave the place. ( 4 )
“Allah will certainly increase (His bestowals to) the servant who suppresses his anger, and will reward him. Allah says: …And who also harness their anger and forgive the people. Allah loves the righteous ones. (3:134)" ( 5 )
Imam al-Kadhim (a) said: “Be steadfast against the enemies of the graces, for your best retaliation for those who acted disobediently to Allah against you is to act obediently to Allah with them." ( 6 )
Once, he (a) gathered his sons and said: “Sons, I will lead you to an instruction that saves you from deviation if you adhere to it. Accept the apology of him who reviled at you in your right ear, and then turned to your left to make an apology and claim that he had not said anything bad." ( 7 )
The foolish may regard clemency as signs of weakness, while the intelligent regard it as signs of nobility, high standards, and honor.
When man’s prestige mounts, his traits become nobler—he holds fast on clemency and pardon. Hence, he becomes the matter of admiration and praise.
It is related that a wise man answered those who asked him why he had not replied the one who had reviled at him: “I will not engage myself in a war the triumphant of which is eviler than the loser."
When al-Ma’mun, the Abbasid caliph, asked Imam ar-Rida (a) to recite some poetic verses, the Imam composed:
If he whose ignorance befell me is lower than I am in position, I will reject for myself to answer him by means of ignorance.
If he enjoys the same position of intelligence that I have, I will adopt for clemency so that I will not be likened to him.
If he is higher in position than I am, I will respect him from his preference.
As he heard these verses, al-Ma’mun showed his admiration and asked about the one who composed them. The Imam (a) answered: “He is one of our men." ( 8 )
The Prophet and the immaculate Imams (a) were the ideal examples of clemency:
Imam al-Baqir (a) narrated: When the Jewess who served the Prophet (s) a poisonous meal was brought before him, he asked her a reason for her deed. “Well," she replied, “I said that the poisoned meal would not affect him if he was real prophet. But if he was only an ordinary king, the meal would save people from him." The Prophet pardoned her.
The Prophet (s) also forgave many individuals after he had outlawed and ordered to be killed.
Habbar ibn al-Aswad ibn al-Muttalib was one of those individuals. The Prophet (s) outlawed him after he had frightened Zainab –the Prophet’s daughter- and caused her to terminate her pregnancy.
It was related that this man came to the Prophet and said: “We, God’s Prophet, were polytheists, and God guided us to the right by you and saved us from perdition. I beseech to you to overlook my ignorance and that which I had committed, for I confess of my ill deeds and sins." The Prophet (s) answered him:
“I will forgive you. Allah has done you a great favor when He guided you to Islam. Islam cancels that which was done before the embracement of it."
Abdullah ibn Az-Zubaari is another one. He used to satirize the Prophet (s) in Mecca so extremely. When the Prophet (s) conquered Mecca, Az-Zubaari fled it. After a period, he came back and apologized for the Prophet who accepted his apology.
Wahshi, the killer of Hamza (a) is a third one. When he declared being Muslim, the Prophet asked him to narrate how he had killed Hamza; his uncle. The man did and caused the Prophet to weep. He (s) then asked Wahshi not to appear before him any longer. ( 9 )
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) was another ideal example of clemency and pardon.
When he captured Abdullah ibn az-Zubair, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, and Saeed ibn al-Aas who were the most mortal enemies that rallied people against him, he pardoned them and did not retaliate.
He (a) also could kill Amr ibn al-Aas who was more dangerous than an equipped army, but he left him because Amr unveiled his anus in order to save himself from the Imam’s strike!
During the battle of Siffeen, the troops of Muawiya prevented Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) to reach the springs of water there and told that they would not give him a single drop of water. When he (a) raided on them, he dropped them away from these springs. But he allowed them to drink from them, just like his troops.
After the Battle of the Camel, Amir ul-Mu'minin(a)
visited Mistress Aisha(10) and saw her off so honorably and
sent with her caravan a number of individuals whose mission was to serve and protect her. ( 11 )
Like his father and grandfather, Imam al-Hasan (a) was another ideal example of clemency.
Al-Mubarrad and Ibn Aisha narrated the following:
A Syrian man went on reviling at Imam al-Hasan (a) who was riding an animal. The Imam kept silent until the Syrian man finished. He then approached him and answered with handsome smiling: “Old man! I think you are foreigner. You might have been wrong. If you had admonished us, we would have satisfied you. If you had asked us, we would have given you. If you had sought our guidance, we would have led you. If you had asked us to load something on your riding animal, we would have done. If you had been hun gry, we would have supplied you. If you had been naked, we would have dressed you. If you had been needy, we would have given you. If you had been fugitive, we would have succored you. If you had needed something, we would have settled your needs. I now
hope you would drive your riding animal towards our residence so that you will be our guest until you determine to leave. This will be better for you. We have a large residence, a remarkable position, and an abundant fortune."
As he heard the words of the Imam, the Syrian man wept and said: “It is surely that God is the most knowledgeable of the worthiest of conveying His message. Previously, your father and you were the most hateful creatures of God to me. But now, you are th e dearest creature to me." He then turned towards the residence of the Imam and was his guest until he left. He embraced the affection for The Ahl ul-Bayt (a).
Thus was al-Hussein ibn Ali (a):
A servant of Imam al-Hussein committed a mistake that caused him to be punished. The Imam therefore gave the orders of beating him.
“Master," said the servant, “(Remember God’s saying) those who refrain the anger."
The Imam ordered to release him.
“Master," said the servant, “(Remember God’s saying) and those who forgive people."
The Imam forgave him.
“Master," said the servant, “(Remember God’s saying) and Allah loves those who do good."
The Imam said, “Go, you are free for the sake of Allah. I will also double your payment" ( 12 )
As I have read the life accounts of The Ahl ul-Bayt (a), I found them unique modes and ideal examples in the field of morality.
Narrators reported the following story about the unparalleled scope of Imam as-Sejjad's clemency:
One of the servants of Imam as-Sejjad tried to serve the guests of his master with the grill. He was so hurried that one of the skewers fell down from his hand to kill one of the Imam’s sons. The servant was so confused, but the Imam (a) said to him: “No w, I set you free, because you did not intend to kill the boy." Then, the Imam held the funeral ceremonies of the boy. ( 13 )
Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (a) was called Al-Kadhim –the one who suppresses his anger--, because of his great clemency for the sake of God.
A narrator reported the following story in this regard:
In Medina, a descendant of one of the caliphs used to hurt Abu al-Hasan Musa (a) whenever he would meet him. Moreover, he used to revile at Ali and the Imam. The Imam’s retinue asked him to allow them to kill that man. The Imam ordered them not to do so. As he asked about that man, the Imam was told that he had a ranch in Medina. The Imam rode on a donkey, went to the ranch, saw the man, and entered that ranch with his donkey. “Do not tread on our yields," shouted the man. But the Imam did not pay
atten tion to his warning, and drove his riding animal to tread on the yields until he approached the man. He, then, rode off, sat with the man, spoke with him kindly, smiled in his face, and asked: “How much did I cause you to lose as a result of treading on your yields?"
“About one hundred dinars," said the man.
“How much do you expect to gain from it?" asked the Imam.
“I cannot tell of the unseen," answered the man.
“I only asked how much do you expect," said the Imam.
“I expect two hundred dinars," answered the man.
The Imam (a) took out a bag of three hundred dinars and said to the man “This is for the yields, and Allah may give you that which you expect."
The man stood up, kissed the Imam on the head, and asked him to forgive his past wrongdoings. The Imam smiled and went away.
When the Imam entered the mosque, that man was sitting there. As soon as he saw him, he shouted: “It is surely that God is the most knowledgeable of the worthiest of conveying His message."
The man’s associates jumped to him with astonishment and asked, “What is the matter with you? We used to see the opposite of this."
“Well," said the man, “you have heard my new situation," and went on praising and praying to God for the Imam (a). That situation made him lose those associates.
When the Imam went back home, he said to the company who had asked him to kill that man: “Which one is the best—your intention or my deed? I could guide that man to the right as much as you saw, and I could save myself from his evils." ( 14 )
( Notes )
1. Quoted from Sheikh al-Mufid; al-Majalis.
2. Quoted from Nahj ul-Balagha.
3. Quoted from al-Kafi.
4. Quoted from al-Kafi.
5. Quoted from al-Kafi.
6. Quoted from al-Kafi.
7. Quoted from Al-Arbali; Keshf ul-Ghumma.
8. Quoted from Sheikh as-Saduq; Me’aani al-Akhbar and Uyounu Akhbar ir-Redha.
9. Quoted from Safinat ul-Bihar; vol. 1.
10. Mistress Aisha was the Prophet’s widow who mutinied and led an army against Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) and rode a camel due to which that battle was called the Battle of the Camel. She, however, lost that battle and was captured by Imam Ali’s army.
11. Quoted from al-Aqqad, Abbas Mahmoud; The Genius of Imam Ali.
12. Quoted from al-Arbali; Keshf ul-Ghumma.
13. Quoted from al-Arbali; Keshf ul-Ghumma.
14. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 11 as quoted from I’lam ul-Wara and al-Irshad.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Mercenaries of Bahraini police backed with Saudi troops , invaded village of Nabih Saleh close to capital Manama , the used toxic gas and shotgun for peaceful protesters demanding freedom and democracy .
Source : Shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has officially renamed the area he controls.
He has called for all official documents - including passports, drivers' licenses, postage stamps and car number plates - to now bear the name 'State of Palestine', instead of the generally used 'Palestinian National Authority',
Abbas has also ordered foreign ministries and embassies around the world to start using the title.
The move follows the UN general assembly's recognition of Palestine as a state.
Abbas said that this latest presidential decree was aimed at enhancing "sovereignty on the ground" and was a step towards "real independence".
There have been a number of important developments for Palestinians in recent months.
In November, after a week-long conflict in Gaza, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire.
Later that month, despite Israeli and US opposition, the Palestinian Authority was upgraded to a non-member Observer State by the UN general assembly.
Encouraged by this success, Fatah allowed Hamas to hold anniversary rallies in the West Bank.
Two weeks later, Israel eased the blockade it imposed on Gaza when Hamas took control in 2007.
And on Friday, Hamas allowed a large Fatah rally in Gaza, signalling a possible end to the five year rift between the two sides.
Meanwhile, there has been no official word from Israel on the decision to adopt the name 'State of Palestine', but it is an announcement bound to anger.
So, is the move itself a passport to a new reality for the Palestinians or merely a symbolic gesture?
To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter Shiulie Ghosh, is joined by guests: Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator; Robbie Sabel, a former legal adviser to Israel's foreign ministry; and Rosemary Hollis, a professor of Middle East Policy Studies at City University London.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Global warming is turning the volume of extreme weather up, Spinal-Tap-style, to 11. The temperature forecast for next Monday by Australia's Bureau of Meteorology is so unprecedented - over 52C - that it has had to add a new colour to the top of its scale, a suitably incandescent purple.
Australia's highest recorded temperature is 50.7C, set in January 1960 in South Australia. The record for the hottest average day across the nation was set on Monday, at 40.3C, exceeding a 40-year-old record. "What makes this event quite exceptional is how widespread and intense it's been," said Aaron Coutts-Smith, the weather bureau's climate services manager. "We have been breaking records across all states and territories in Australia over the course of the event so far." Wildfires are raging across New South Wales and Tasmania.
Australia's prime minister Julia Gillard said: "Whilst you would not put any one event down to climate change, weather doesn't work like that, we do know over time that as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events and conditions."
She is right of course to be cautious about attributing individual events to global warming, but it is equally clear that new colours will need to be added to scales across the world for heatwaves and other extreme weather events.
We already know that climate change is loading the weather dice. Scientists have shown that the European heatwave of 2003, that caused over 40,000 premature deaths, was made at least twice as likely by climate change. The Russian heatwave of 2010, that killed 50,000 and wiped out $15bn of crops, was made three times as likely by global warming and led to the warmest European summer for 500 years.
The extreme weather forecast is even worse. Mega-heatwaves like these will become five to 10 times more likely over the next 40 years, occurring at least once a decade, scientists predict.
Work by the most authoritative group of scientists, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, found that it is 90% certain that heatwaves will increase further in length and severity, as will extreme high tides. It is 66% likely that hurricanes and typhoon winds will get faster and that intense rain will increase, as well as landslides. It is more likely than not that droughts will intensify in Europe, North and Central America and, most dangerously given the poverty there, Southern Africa. There are uncertainties of course, but the basic physics is that heat-trapping carbon emissions mean more energy is being pumped into the system, increasing climate chaos.
The two nations in which the fringe opinions of so-called climate sceptics have been trumpeted most loudly - the US and Australia - have now been hit by record heatwaves and, in the US, superstorm Sandy. The scientists are turning up the volume of their warnings, but whether this leads to loud and clear political action to curb emissions or more shouting from sceptics and the vested fossil fuel interests that support them remains to be seen.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- 20th Safar is the day of Arba"een, the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s.), his friends and relatives in Karbala on 10th Muharram.
According to Imam Hassan al-Askari (A) today it is highly desirable to:
1. Pray 51 Rakat namaz during the 24 hours of the day of Arba"een, (17 rakats in Wajib (obligatory) and 34 rakats in Naafilah Salaats.)
2. Be in Karbala for Ziyarat of Imam Husain (A) and other martyrs, and if it is not possible, to recite Ziyarat of Imam Husain (A) and the other martyrs of Karbala
from wherever you are.
3. To put the forehead on the earth (preferably earth of Karbala) in prostration.
4. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (A) has advised the faithful to recite the Ziyarat of the day of Arbaeen:
After the recitation of Ziyarat, pray two rakat Salaat.
[Please refer to Mafatihul Jinan, Supplications and other Ziyarat books for Ziyarat of Arbaeen.]
Ziyarat of Arbaeen Translation
IN THE NAME OF Allah, THE BENEFECIENT, THE MERCIFUL
Peace be on the beloved friend of Allah, His dearest darling!
Peace be on the choicest confidant of Allah, sincerely attached precisely like his father!
Peace be on Husain, who established the true faith by giving his life in the way of Allah, a martyr, underwent untold hardships at the hand of rouges and lawbreakers! Peace be on the hostage surrounded by the tightening circle of sorrow and grief, killed by a horde of savages.
0 my Allah I give witness that beyond a shadow of doubt he is Thy favourite and choicest confidant, who enjoys Thy confidence and favour, precisely tike his father) Thou looked upto him and elected him in Thy cause, picked and chose him for the good fortune, selected for him the best purified parents. appointed him guardian, leader, and defender of rights, a true representative (inheritor and progenitor) of guardians, leaders and defenders of rights, gave him much and more from the inheritance of the Prophets, put him forward as a decisive argument, alongwith the other successors (of the Holy Prophet-the twelve Imaams) to the mankind.
He met with deadly dangers, acted justly and fairly, made use of everything belonging to him to pay full attention to give sincere advice; took pains, made every effort, and put his heart, mind, soul and life at the disposal of Thy mission to liberate the people from the yoke of ignorance and evil of bewilderment, but an evildoer, deceived with empty hopes of mean and worthless worldly gains, had pressed heavily on him, and sold out his share (eternal bliss) for the meanest and A lowest bargain, betrayed his "day of judgement" for a vulgar return, took pride in insolence, fell into the fathom-well of silly stupid follies, provoked Thee and Thy Prophet to anger, did as the harsh discordant, the hypocrite, the heavily burdened bearers of sin, condemned to Hellfire, advised to him, however, he (the Holy Imam), steadily, rightly and justly coped with them, till, in Thy obedience, gave his life after which his family was set adrift.
0 my Allah, therefore, condemn them to hell as a denunciation and conviction; and crack down on them with a painful punishment.
Peace be on you 0 the son of the Messenger of Allah! Peace be on you 0 the son of the first of the successors (of the Holy Prophet)
I bear witness that Allah put faith in you like He had full confidence in your father,
and that you always looked for and collected good and virtue, lived a highly praiseworthy life, and departed from this world a martyr, forsaken and abused;
I bear witness that Allah will promptly fulfil the promise He made to you, and destroy those who left you helpless and punish those who killed you;
I bear witness that you kept your promise made with Allah, and strived in His way till what was certain came upon you, so curse of Allah be on those who killed you, curse of Allah be on those who oppressed you. curse of Allah be on the people who came to know and approved (of it all).
O my Allah be my witness that I make friends with those who love him and oppose those who deny him.
I, my father and mother, are at your disposal 0 the son of the Messenger of Allah.
I know and bear witness that you were "light" in the sublime loins and in the pure wombs, never touched you the dirt of ignorance, nor ever obscurity concealed you in its folds; I bear witness that you are the pillar of "Deen". support of the Muslims, refuge of the faithfuls;
I bear witness that you are a truthful, well-aware, content, intelligent, rightly guided guide (Imam);
I bear witness that the Imams among your descendants are the symbols of "conscious piety" and signs of "true guidance", the "safe handle"-lslam. and the decisive arguments over mankind;
I declare positively that I have full faith in you, and I know for certain that you shall return. I am. fully committed to the E laws of my religion, certain of my deeds, my mind and heart ready for your return, and my affairs carried out in the light of your instructions, till Allah gives you permission, together with you, alongwith you, not at the same time with your enemies.
Blessings of Allah be on you, on your souls, on your bodies, when you are visible, when you are invisible, on your percievable aspects, on your innermost genius, be it so, 0 Lord of the worlds!
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) Human rights campaigners have called for an investigation into the British surveillance technology company Gamma International, which they accuse of exporting controlled surveillance products without licences to regimes with dismal human rights records.
Gamma International says that its surveillance technology offers "world-class offensive techniques for information gathering" and can intercept texts, phone and Skype calls, log keystrokes and copy files.
The campaign group Privacy International alleges the equipment has been used to gather information on activists who are targeted by the repressive regimes. It wants greater restrictions on the export of surveillance products, which are increasingly being used but are increasingly used but have not had the same level of export restrictions as traditional weapons. The group has sent a 186-page report to Revenue and Customs (HMRC) alleging that the unlicensed export of some Gamma International products "would amount to criminal conduct".
"For years, British companies like Gamma International have had carte blanche to sell incredibly powerful surveillance technologies to any government that can afford them, even when they are subsequently used to target human rights defenders. Gamma International is one of the worst culprits; it does business with regimes that most companies would not touch with a bargepole," said Eric King, head of research at Privacy International.
The organisation argues that Gamma – which insists it does comply with export controls – has been exporting its products without licences in place and has called on HMRC to investigate.
In August, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills informed Gamma International that its FinSpy products, designed to use "controlled cryptography" (software that uses high-grade encryption to protect information) required "a licence to export to all destinations outside the EU".
The department also confirmed Gamma International had submitted a control list classification (CLC) inquiry – asking if a product required a licence – for the first time in June 2012 and as of 11 September had not applied for any licences.
A department spokeswoman said products designed to use "controlled cryptography", such as FinSpy products from the FinFisher range, were controlled by EU legislation and would have required an export licence since at least 2000.
Privacy International says the rules in place were insufficient and wants controls on surveillance technology overhauled. "The fact that some controls have been in place for over a decade but appear not to have been enforced suggests the government policy on this kind of technology is patchy at best. We need to ensure all surveillance technology is properly controlled: these are digital arms and need to be treated with the same vigour as traditional weaponry," said King.
The organisation argues that Gamma had a responsibility before it was explicitly informed by the business department to check if it needed an export licence and have the necessary licences in place.
Gamma has repeatedly stated that it only supplies products and services to legitimate government organisations. In an email, a company executive, Martin Muench, said Gamma would not provide details of any applications for export licences for confidentiality and security reasons, but added that the company co-operated with the export control organisations of the UK, US and Germany.
He said there was no statutory or regulatory requirement for companies to seek a CLC but that the company had made such an application in June 2012 "after discussions with a government agency which suggested that it would be advisable … for certain products". The company was working on a code of conduct for "the industry as a whole", he said, adding that Privacy International turned down an invitation to discuss it.
Gamma was criticised after Egyptian human rights activists found documents from the company in the headquarters of Egypt's state security before the February 2011 uprising. The company later said that it had demonstrated software to the Egyptian government but "did not supply any FinFisher products to Egypt that could have been used during the movement of the opposition".
In December 2011, WikiLeaks published Gamma promotional videosshowing how police could plant FinFisher on a target's computer. In September last year, the foreign secretary, William Hague, who speaks for the government on computer security issues, said exports of goods "that could be used for internal repression is something we would want to stop" but admitted the law governing software exports was a grey area.
Privacy International's document to the HMRC also alleges that Bahrainipro-democracy activists received emails containing malware that, when analysed by researchers at the Toronto-based Citizen Lab, contained "strong evidence that the malware in question was "FinSpy … distributed by Gamma International". Gamma said: "We have no knowledge of any operation involving those named in the article."
The leader of the Green party, Caroline Lucas, said she had written to the government expressing her concerns. "It sends a very damaging signal when British companies are selling products that undermine democratic processes the government says it supports," she said. "I hope this process is successful and if necessary prosecutions are made in order to send a strong signal that it should be illegal to export this kind of surveillance technology to these regimes and it must be stopped."
An HMRC spokesman said: "HMRC cannot comment on individual cases. However, where we receive information of possible export licence issues we consider the facts and take appropriate action."
Case Study: Ala'a Shehabi
Ala'a Shehabi, 30, is a British-born economics lecturer, activist and writer in Bahrain. She has a PhD from Imperial College London. Her husband was a political prisoner in Bahrain but has recently been released.
She was born and raised in the UK but moved back to Bahrain, her parents' home, with her husband in 2009. With a family history in political activism – her father sought exile in the UK after speaking out against the government in the 70s – she soon because involved in the political uprising that started in February 2011. She founded Bahrain Watch, which calls for more transparent governance in the kingdom.
"There was a very charged atmosphere in Bahrain," she said. "My husband was arrested and held for 10 months and I was banned from travelling and forced to stop work."
With police filling the streets and martial law imposed dissent moved online and underground, she said. "Everyone was aware that what they wrote would be monitored so suddenly you saw all the faces disappear from Facebook, people deleting their Twitter accounts," she said. "I essentially worked on the assumption that everything I did or said was being watched."
It was soon after the crackdown that she received the first of four suspicious emails, addressed to her personally from feasible email accounts. She sent the emails to Bill Marczak, a computer science doctoral candidate at the University of California Berkeley, who went to school in Bahrain and is also a founding member of Bahrain Watch.
As Bloomberg reported in July, Marczak established the link to Bahrain by tracing the trojan's transmissions back to an internet address in Manama, Bahrain's capital. Other evidence came from the work of Morgan Marquis-Boire, a security researcher at Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto, who analysed the infected e-mails and published adetailed report of the findings through Citizen Lab. He exacted "digital DNA", or a signature from the infected emails that bore the hallmarks of FinFisher.
Luma Bashmi, a spokeswoman for the government's information affairs authority, told Bloomberg that Bahrain had no policy of targeting political activists through surveillance technology. "Such allegations are taken very seriously and if there is any evidence that there is any misconduct in use of such technology, each case will be investigated immediately according to the laws and regulations of the Kingdom of Bahrain," she said.
Gamma Group, which makes FinFisher, said it had no knowledge of any operation involving those named in the Bloomberg article and could not comment on individual cases or clients.
Shehabi said she welcomed the step to impose some controls on the export of surveillance software, but that stricter controls were needed. "I expect this type of treatment from the Bahrain government, which is reduced to lawlessness and doesn't believe in human rights, but if they have been serviced by a British company that really angers me," she said. "There shouldn't have to be another victim like me to come along before these exports stop."
Source : Guardian
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in published remarks on Friday he was losing hope of building cross-party support for reforms that could see him installed in a newly empowered presidency but was determined to push the plans forward.
Erdogan has dominated Turkish politics since his Islamist-rooted AK Party swept to power in 2001, trouncing the opposition in three elections, delivering unprecedented economic growth and bringing a staunchly secular military to heel.
But under party rules he can't run for prime minister again when his term ends in 2015 and it is an open secret he wants to switch to a presidential system and become head of state.
Four political parties sit on a parliamentary commission set up after last year's general election to forge a new constitution and Erdogan has advocated the introduction of an executive presidency as part of the reform process.
Asked how work on the draft was going, Erdogan was quoted by Sabah newspaper as saying: "To be honest, my hope is diminishing with each passing day. Despite that, I think it is necessary to maintain the process in a decisive and resolute way."
Erdogan vowed at his AK Party congress last month to forge a constitution that would boost political freedom and democracy to replace the current one, which was drawn up after a military coup three decades ago.
He invited opposition parties for further consultations, but opponents fear the replacement of the current parliamentary system - a probable outcome of the constitutional review - would hand too much power to a man whose intolerance of dissent is viewed with increasing concern in Turkeyand abroad.
Hundreds of activists, lawyers, politicians, military officers and journalists are being held on charges of plotting against the government or supporting outlawed Kurdish militants.
The U.N. Human Rights Committee said on Thursday Turkey was using a vague counter-terrorism law to hold many for long pre-trial periods without access to a lawyer and that some of its provisions flouted international law.
Erdogan has reminded his critics that the aim of the new constitution is to bolster, not diminish, political freedom.
"There can be no walking away from the table. Our position on a new constitution is clear. What is important here is to achieve the maximum common ground," he was quoted as telling reporters on his plane returning from Berlin.
"Of course there is no obligation for the four parties to come together. If the CHP comes, we will do it with the CHP. If the MHP comes we will do it with them," he said, referring to the two main opposition parties.
Erdogan's presidential ambitions face several obstacles.
A survey by Turkish pollster MetroPOLL in September showed Turks would prefer incumbent Abdullah Gul as their next president.
The two men, who co-founded the AK Party in 2001 but could in theory face each other at the next presidential election, have had increasingly public differences, trading barbed remarks this week over the police handling of a banned protest march.
The suggestion that Gul urged tolerance in policing Monday's protests, in which police eventually fired teargas and water cannon to disperse secularist demonstrators, led Erdogan to say the country did not need "double-headed government".
Gul responded by saying the division of responsibilities was clear under the constitution.
The two men have agreed to disagree in the past on issues including freedom of expression, and officials in Ankara say their relationship is built on deep mutual respect. Erdogan has repeatedly sought to play down any talk of a rift.
"We are saying the same thing ... Those who are trying to put the AK Party in a difficult position, they can't set the president and the prime minister against each other," he said at a news conference late on Thursday.
Erdogan is expected to announce whether he will press ahead with plans to hold early local elections next year at an AK party meeting on Sunday, a move seen as allowing him more time in a crowded election timetable to prepare a presidential bid.
Gul sent the proposed constitutional amendment, which would bring the local vote forward by five months, back to parliament after it failed to win enough support in a first reading.
Erdogan can either try to push the bill through the assembly again or abandon the plan, which would be a blow to his election preparations.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – ow that Scott Forstall is out at Apple, speculations about the future of iOS and OS X are hot as hell. With much respect to Jony Ive, we can pretty much say that the future is bright. But as to what the new Human Interface chief is planning, they are still shrouded in mystery. But according to the New York Times, a major design shift is coming. Rumor has it that Steve Jobs was a huge fan of skeuomorphism – a design element that replicates real-world objects digitally. Scott Forstall too was a skeuomorph, and it was evident in every iPhone, iPod and iPad.
Jony Ive, on the other hand, reportedly has a distaste for the visual ornamentation that is skeuomorphism. Ive, also Apple’s Industrial Design chief and widely known as a proponent of minimalist designs, is expected to make his own mark. “You can be sure that the next generation of iOS and OS X will have Jony’s industrial design aesthetic all over them,” one unnamed Apple designer told The New York Times. “Clean edges, flat surfaces will likely replace the textures that are all over the place right now.”— www.shafaqna.com/English