SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Israeli security forces overnight Thursday demolished two structures that Jewish settlers had erected to create a "wildcat" outpost in the occupied West Bank, a police spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse about 500 Palestinian villagers marching toward another Jewish settlement outpost in the West Bank on Friday.
Soldiers and border policemen razed the makeshift structures of the Oz Zion outpost near the central city of Ramallah without incident, Luba Samri told AFP.
The security forces have dismantled structures erected at Oz Zion on several occasions in the past – most recently in March – but settlers have persisted in putting up new ones.
In a violent confrontation in December, more than 200 stone-throwing settlers drove off an attempt by security forces to dismantle structures put up at Oz Zion, wounding five border policemen. They were demolished the following day.
Israel cites Biblical and historical claims to the land, but the United Nations considers the settlements illegal and most world powers say they are an obstacle to peace.
Israel has sanctioned the building of 120 settlements, but around 100 outposts built without the approval of the Israeli government dot the West Bank. Israel deems these settlement outposts to be illegal and often sends security personnel to demolish them.
The outposts usually consist of little more than a few trailers, but some have been granted retrospective approval by the government, which is why settler activists keep putting them up.
On Friday, the Israeli army attacked a Palestinians demonstration in the West Bank with tear gas and rubber bullets. The procession, the largest of its kind for years, followed charges by Palestinians that the Israeli settlers, whose caravans abut village land, had attacked them twice this week.
Men from Deir Jarir, including Christian and Muslim clerics, gathered for Friday prayers on a craggy outcrop between their village and a cluster of half a dozen makeshift settler homes surrounded by Israeli army jeeps and soldiers.
Their march, preceded by a group of stone-throwing youths, was repeatedly pushed back by salvos of Israeli tear gas. Young boys howled from the effects of the tear gas and old men hitched up their robes to flee, holding onion slices to their noses.
Medics treated several men for gas inhalation and rubber bullet wounds.
A few Palestinian villages hold weekly protests against the Israeli army and settlements, usually involving a score of rock-throwing youngsters, and unrest has mounted this year.
But political gatherings are rare around Deir Jarir, and was sparked after villagers say settlers torched around ten of their cars on Monday night, after planting an Israeli flag on a derelict church on Friday and pelting village youth with stones.
"This was a peaceful area. We're gathered today to say we refuse to be attacked and driven off our own land," said Sami Issa, a resident. "We want their army to pull the settlers out."
The Israeli military has said it is investigating the events leading up to the march. Asked about Friday's incidents, an army spokesman said: "Soldiers responded to a group of some 250 stone-throwing youths with riot dispersal means near Ofra."
On Tuesday, settlers vacated several shops they had occupied as homes in the southern West Bank city of Hebron for 12 years, ahead of a Supreme Court deadline for them to leave.
The Israeli army had evicted Palestinian shopkeepers merchants from their premises in Hebron's central market area during a military operation in 2001, after which the settlers moved in.
Following a legal battle between the settlers and Israeli campaign group Peace Now, the Supreme Court ruled the shops – dubbed Beit Ezra by their Jewish occupants – should be vacated by Wednesday.
Around half a million settlers have moved to the West Bank and East Jerusalem since Israel captured the area, along with the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Middle East War. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Public confidence in the EU has hit an all-time low in the bloc’s six biggest countries, a new poll has revealed. Thousands are expected to hit the streets in Spain against a new round of reforms as unemployment passed the 6.2-million mark.
Statistics from Eurobarometer show a dizzying slump in citizen trust of the EU across the bloc's six biggest countries. The new poll, published in the Guardian on Thursday, surveyed Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, whose combined populations make up more than two-thirds of the EU.
Mistrust is particularly high in protest-stricken Spain, which has seen the most significant reduction of confidence, according to the poll: In 2007, 23 percent of the population declared their mistrust in the EU, while by November 2012 this figure had leapt to 72 percent.
Mistrust in Poland and Italy has also risen, with 42 percent of 2012 respondents in Poland critical of the EU, with the figure rising from 28 percent of Italians in 2007 to 53 percent of Italians in 2012. In the UK, Euroskepticism was already high in 2007, with 49 percent of poll respondents declaring their mistrust; this figure has also risen to 69 percent.
The poll results were analyzed by the European Council on Foreign Relations, an EU think tank.
Record unemployment sparks protests
Thousands of protesters are expected to rally in Spain and Portugal in a show against government austerity measures.
On Thursday morning, Spanish police arrested 15 people. Four of the detained are said to be “members of anarchist groups”, whom the authorities suspected were arranging to commit arson, having reportedly prepared flares, firecrackers, petrol and disguises.
Another 11 are young men arrested at Madrid's Complutense University where they had gathered to block access to the university and were preparing for an anti-government demonstration.
Anti-government protesters organized to ‘Surround Congress,’ in Madrid just as the latest round of anticipated cuts and austerity measures come into force.
Anonymous also claimed responsibility for a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against the Spanish parliament’s website on Thursday.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Spanish police arrested four people who authorities suspected were arranging to create a blaze, having reportedly prepared flares, firecrackers, petrol and disguises.
As the day progressed, police began to stop people out on the streets, mistaking a birthday gathering for a protest and attempting to disperse it. Student action has been taking place in both Catalonia and Valencia, with Riot police raiding the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).
Some 230 Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) students set up a rail and roadblock in Barcelona on Wednesday night, burning tires in protest against university fee hikes, layoffs and the state of education, local media reported.
Some 1,400 riot police were deployed in Madrid to ensure demonstrations – reflective of sentiments against the troika of the EU, IMF and European Central Bank – do not boil over into violent clashes. Unrest has also been anticipated in Portugal, which on Thursday marked the 39th anniversary of its revolution; an estimated €800 million in spending cuts are planned in the country.
Thursday’s protest comes shortly after previous demonstrations in which Portuguese citizens marched on the capital, most recently on April 16.
France is also facing the prospect of civil protest after the labor ministry released figures showing unemployment has reached its highest level since records began in 1996.
The data for March reveals 3.2 million people were out of work in the country, which is 11.5 per cent higher than in the same month last year and 1.2 per cent higher than in February.
MEPs call for Troika to be disbanded
The handling of this year’s Cyprus bailout has only served to fuel widespread concern over European bailouts and cuts in government spending.
Members of European Parliament (MEPs) have recently lashed out at the handling of the situation in Cyprus. “We have to end the neo-colonial behavior of the Council and the troika in Cyprus,” MEP Hannes Swoboda said during a European Parliament debate on April 17, calling for the Troika to be disbanded.
In Cyprus, large depositors stand to lose up to 60 percent of their savings as the country enforces the controversial conditions of a €17-billion bailout, which jumped to €23 billion this April.
Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, said on Wednesday that a more gradual adjustment would have been preferable. MEPs continued to highlight flaws in the procedure, with Takis Hadjigeorgiou, a Cypriot member of left-wing group GUE/NGL, pointing out that the measures would never have been imposed on a larger country.
Cyprus has already put plans in motion to sell €400 million ($525 million) of the country’s gold reserves to help finance the bailout. At the same time, Italy has turned over castles and monasteries to luxury hotel chains for development as niche resorts in a bid to foster economic growth.
Some MEPs are critical of the handling of the crises as symptomatic of a wider problem within Europe. “They’re not really in this [the EU] to handle the crisis but just to increase the amount of power that they have,” Auke Zijlstra MEP, a spokesperson for the Cyprus Party for Freedom, told RT.
“We can see that with Cyprus – they’re losing their independence,” Zijlstra continued, pointing out the resilience and endurance of the EU in the face of hard-hitting realities.
Eurozone unemployment levels have exploded, hitting an all-time high of 12 percent in February. Massive protests shook Europe across 2012, with Greece and Spain among the worst-hit by violent demonstrations that left scores of people injured. Spain witnessed a surge in Catalan separatism, and Greece, among other countries, saw a massive increase in suicides and attempted suicides, particularly among the elderly. In April 2012, protests tore through Athens after a retired 77-year-old pharmacist shot himself in the head, blaming austerity measures and the debt crisis in a suicide note.
“It doesn’t matter for the commission if things go wrong because they will still be there the next day, but everyone in such countries is looking for a solution and they are willing to accept a worse deal every time. And yes, I fully agree that we should get rid of the troika,” Zijlstra said.
The Troika is regarded as out of touch with the interests of residents of EU countries such as Spain and Greece. In April, one German MEP announced his resignation from German politics, saying that “Germany is setting the European house on fire,” in an interview with the Guardian.
“Germany is focused on national interests much more than EU interests,” said Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, who has dual German-Greek nationality.
UK MP Nigel Farage believes that this concern is justified, particularly amid the fallout of the Cyprus bailout scandal.
“I think investors should be worried all over in the eurozone… particularly in the southern eurozone,” he told RT.
“What Cyprus has done is given us the template – what they will do in future is they won’t bail countries out: They’ll bail them in, and they’ll do it by stealing investors’ money, by taxing people on their properties, and by forcing central banks into selling their holdings of gold.” He went on to say that protesters’ criticisms of a
“very arrogant Troika” are justified, as people with money deposited in EU bank accounts now run the risk of having their accounts purged and money
“stolen from them without them having to give their consent.”
Farage speculated that an eventual break-up of the EU is unavoidable, suggesting that the Europe-wide protests stoked by the actions of the Troika may be a contributing factor.
“It may not be the economics that break it up – it may be civil disobedience or violence on a very large scale that eventually gets some of those Mediterranean countries out, and after that, the big question is ‘what is the European union for?’” Farage said. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – France legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate that exposed deep conservatism in the nation's heartland and triggered huge demonstrations that tapped into intense discontent with the Socialist government. Within hours, fiery clashes broke out between protesters and riot police.
Legions of officers stayed late into the night, and a protest against the measure turned violent near the Invalides complex of museums and monuments. Protesters threw glass bottles, cans and metal bars at police, who responded with tear gas.
It was an issue that galvanized the country's faltering right, which had been decimated by infighting and their election loss to President Francois Hollande. France is the 14th country to legalize gay marriage nationwide —and the most populous.
The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225, just after the president of the legislative body expelled a disruptive protester in pink, the colour adopted by French opponents of gay marriage.
1st weddings could come in June
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told lawmakers that the first weddings could be as soon as June.
"We believe that the first weddings will be beautiful and that they'll bring a breeze of joy, and that those who are opposed to them today will surely be confounded when they are overcome with the happiness of the newlyweds and the families," she said.
Earlier in the day, there appeared to be more police than protesters outside the Parliament building on Paris' Left Bank, but that calculation soon shifted as night fell and thousands gathered to protest the bill. The protest dwindled to a few stalwarts shortly before midnight, when the violence began among a few hundred demonstrators including some who carried signs saying "Socialist dictatorship."
Claire Baron, 41, a mother of two, said that she "will oppose the bill until the end."
"I'll keep going to the protests, I don't give in. The bill is not effective yet, the president of the Republic must listen to our voices. We are here to defend family values. Children need a mom and a dad," Baron said.
In recent weeks, violent attacks against gay couples have spiked and some legislators have received threats — including Claude Bartelone, the Assembly president, who got a gunpowder-filled envelope on Monday.
One of the biggest protests against same-sex marriage drew together hundreds of thousands of people bused in from the French provinces — conservative activists, schoolchildren with their parents, retirees, priests and others. That demonstration ended in blasts of tear gas, as right-wing rabble-rousers, some in masks and hoods, led the charge against police, damaging cars along the Champs-Elysees avenue and making a break for the presidential palace.
'I feel immense joy'
Following the vote members of the gay and lesbian community flocked to a square in central Paris, just behind City Hall, to celebrate the vote.
"I feel immense joy, gigantic joy," said 39-year old Sylvain Rouzel. "At last, everyone has the same rights. This is huge! France was lagging behind. We had to wait 14 years after the civil union to finally obtain the right to get married, with equal rights for everyone. I feel great!"
Paris' openly gay mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, was among the crowd of hundreds gathered for the street celebration in the Marais, the city's historic gay neighbourhood.
When Hollande promised to legalize gay marriage, it was seen as relatively uncontroversial. The issue has become a touchstone as his popularity has sunk to unprecedented lows, largely over France's ailing economy.
"The opposition is in a weakened position, but they know which buttons to press in order to get a reaction in society, in a country as liberal as France, where nobody thought it was an issue," said Hossein Alizadeh, a co-ordinator with the U.S.-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission who has followed the issue.
But the most visible face in the fight against gay marriage — a former comedienne who goes by the name of Frigide Barjot — said the movement named "A Protest for Everyone" will continue beyond the law's passage and possibly field candidates in 2014 municipal elections. She said anyone involved in protest violence would be marginalized, but blamed the government for its failure to listen.
"The violence comes from the way in which this was imposed," Barjot told France Info radio.
French conservatives, demoralized and divided by the election loss of standard-bearer Nicolas Sarkozy, found common cause in opposing same-sex marriage. Hoping to keep the issue alive, the conservative UMP party planned to challenge the law in the constitutional Council.
"The controversy that we've seen has been a stoked and manipulated controversy that's really kind of a last-ditch attempt to block the tide of history," said Evan Wolfson, president of the American activist group Freedom to Marry, which he said worked with the French on the bill. "I don't think it spoke to a deep or wide opposition among the French people."
Civil unions allowed since 1999
French civil unions, allowed since 1999, are at least as popular among heterosexuals as among gay and lesbian couples. But that law has no provisions for adoption, and the strongest opposition in France as far as same-sex couples goes comes when children are involved. According to recent polls, just over half of French are opposed to adoption by same-sex couples — about the same number who said they favoured same-sex marriage.
Christophe Crepin, spokesman for the police union UNSA, says the extraordinary security Tuesday included a total of about 4,000 officers in the area near the National Assembly building and water cannon positioned nearby.
On the cover of Tuesday's Liberation newspaper, the famed gay photographers Pierre and Gilles took over the front page and several of the inside pages, splashing them with some of their most provocative photos, including one of three soccer players — nude but for the footwear — facing the camera.
In New Zealand, where gay marriage enjoys popular support, people gathered outside Parliament and joined in singing a traditional Maori love ballad after a vote last week making it legal. Nine states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. also recognize such marriages, but the federal government does not.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Two Bahraini girls were arrested for allegedly having plotted to carry out an attack on Sakhir circuit during the weekend's Formula One Grand Prix race, police said on Tuesday.
Authorities arrested "two girls who were trying to carry out a terrorist act at Bahrain's international circuit in the south, as the kingdom was hosting the Formula One race," state news agency BNA quoted police as saying.
The pair were arrested on Saturday, the second day of practice sessions, at one of the entrances to the Sakhir circuit, south of Manama, said public security chief General Tariq Hassan.
He did not give the age of the girls but said one of them had concealed a pillow under her clothes and explained that this was a dry run "to test security measures."
The pair, identified as Nafisa al-Asfur and Rihanna al-Musawi, are being held for 60 days on charges of seeking to "bomb the Sakhir circuit."
The public security chief said 8,000 policemen had taken part in securing the race, against which thousands of Shiites had demonstrated the previous week.
He said police had seized 1,000 petrol bombs, 137 tyres protesters were planning to set ablaze as well as 72 fire extinguishers which were to be used as bombs.
The race took place without disruption despite the backdrop of daily clashes between protesters and police, in Shiite villages away from Sakhir.
Strategically located just across the Gulf from Iran, Bahrain is home base to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and is also a major offshore financial and services centre for its Arab neighbours in the oil-rich Gulf.
The Shiite Muslim-majority kingdom, ruled by a Sunni dynasty, was rocked by a month-long uprising in 2011, which was crushed with the help of Gulf troops led by neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
source : AFP
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Bahrain security forces thwarted attacks and found caches of weapons including 1,000 petrol bombs in the run-up to last weekend's Formula One race, state media said as protests and sectarian tensions continued to simmer in the island kingdom.
Bahrain did not see a repeat of the mass demonstrations that overshadowed last year's race - though young men armed with rocks did clash with police in outlying villages, as they have done regularly since unrest erupted in early 2011. Protests in the Gulf Arab country, a Western ally that hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, broke out two years ago, with the Shi'ite-led opposition drawing thousands of demonstrators demanding democratic reforms from the Sunni-led government. Witnesses at the Sakhir desert race circuit, about 30 km (20 miles) southwest of the capital Manama, said there was no sign of unrest in the immediate vicinity but protesters blocked several roads in villages near the capital. The opposition said the race was being used as a public relations stunt, but the government insisted it was a pure sporting event that should not be 'politicized'. Security sweeps ahead of this year's contest "thwarted a number of terrorist plots that aimed to affect normal life ... harm the reputation of the nation and commit terrorist acts against policemen", Bahrain's chief of public security, Major-General Tariq Al-Hassan, said according to the BNA agency. Security forces had found several weapon caches holding 1,000 petrol bombs, 19 mock bombs, bullets and homemade guns, he added. Hassan said security forces had also handled several incidents of rioting, including "acts of chaos and destruction" inside an industrial secondary school by students who had also blocked nearby roads and attacked cars, pedestrians and policemen, according to BNA. "Police at no point in time raided the school or attacked it," Hassan said. Sayed Yousif al-Muhafdha of the Bahrain Centre for Human rights had said on Sunday police had fired teargas at a secondary school in the city where students had been demonstrating. On Tuesday, Muhafdha added security forces had arrested up to 50 "pro-democracy activists" in the days preceding the race. Amnesty International said human rights activists reported dozens of protesters were arrested ahead of the race and Human Rights Watch said on April 10 that 20 opposition activists had been arrested in towns near the circuit. The government has denied those arrests have taken place. It has said several people accused of stealing and burning cars had been detailed. Widespread unrest forced the cancellation of the 2011 Formula One race and although the event went ahead in 2012, it was overshadowed by violent protests in the country. (This story is refiled to change the headline) (Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Heavens) source : Reuters End
Bahrain did not see a repeat of the mass demonstrations that overshadowed last year's race - though young men armed with rocks did clash with police in outlying villages, as they have done regularly since unrest erupted in early 2011.
Protests in the Gulf Arab country, a Western ally that hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, broke out two years ago, with the Shi'ite-led opposition drawing thousands of demonstrators demanding democratic reforms from the Sunni-led government.
Witnesses at the Sakhir desert race circuit, about 30 km (20 miles) southwest of the capital Manama, said there was no sign of unrest in the immediate vicinity but protesters blocked several roads in villages near the capital.
The opposition said the race was being used as a public relations stunt, but the government insisted it was a pure sporting event that should not be 'politicized'.
Security sweeps ahead of this year's contest "thwarted a number of terrorist plots that aimed to affect normal life ... harm the reputation of the nation and commit terrorist acts against policemen", Bahrain's chief of public security, Major-General Tariq Al-Hassan, said according to the BNA agency.
Security forces had found several weapon caches holding 1,000 petrol bombs, 19 mock bombs, bullets and homemade guns, he added.
Hassan said security forces had also handled several incidents of rioting, including "acts of chaos and destruction" inside an industrial secondary school by students who had also blocked nearby roads and attacked cars, pedestrians and policemen, according to BNA.
"Police at no point in time raided the school or attacked it," Hassan said.
Sayed Yousif al-Muhafdha of the Bahrain Centre for Human rights had said on Sunday police had fired teargas at a secondary school in the city where students had been demonstrating.
On Tuesday, Muhafdha added security forces had arrested up to 50 "pro-democracy activists" in the days preceding the race.
Amnesty International said human rights activists reported dozens of protesters were arrested ahead of the race and Human Rights Watch said on April 10 that 20 opposition activists had been arrested in towns near the circuit.
The government has denied those arrests have taken place. It has said several people accused of stealing and burning cars had been detailed.
Widespread unrest forced the cancellation of the 2011 Formula One race and although the event went ahead in 2012, it was overshadowed by violent protests in the country.
(This story is refiled to change the headline)
(Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Heavens)
source : Reuters
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Chanting anti-US slogans, the protesters on Tuesday blocked a road linking the capital, Kabul to Balkh Province
The protesters complained that Afghans are often detained in night-time operations by foreign forces without any legal justifications.
The detainees are then taken to unknown places without coordination with Afghan authorities. Locals say US-led troops are never held accountable for the unwarranted detentions.
In February, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed deep concern at the arrest and detention of Afghan children by US-led forces.
According to the UN report, some of the children were abused in US detention facilities.
The committee called on the US to take measures to prevent the killing and maiming of civilians and children.
Human Rights Watch has called on the US to promptly carry out the UN recommendations to improve the protection of children in the war-stricken country.
In December 2012, a report, sent every four years to the United Nations regarding the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, revealed that the US military had detained over 200 Afghan teenagers since 2008.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 on the pretext of combating terrorism. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but years into the invasion, insecurity remains in the country.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Fresh anger swept through Delhi after a five-year-old girl was taken to hospital having been allegedly raped by a neighbour. Protesters clashed with police, who were accused of trying to bribe the family to keep quiet, and a senior police officer was suspended after striking a woman protester.
In the latest incident to create outcry, it emerged the young girl had been raped and assaulted after being snatched from her home on Monday. It is alleged that the man who took her, rented a room in the same building as that of the girl's family in the Gandhi Nagar area of east Delhi.
The family were alerted after hearing the girl's cries on Wednesday. When she was eventually inspected by doctors, it emerged that a bottle and pieces of candle had been inserted inside her. She said she had not had food or water for two days.
"This is the first time that I have seen such barbarism with a five-year-old," RK Bansal, medical superintendent of the Swami Dayanand hospital, where the youngster underwent an operation, told reporters.
He added: "There were injuries on her lips and cheeks and bruise marks on her neck, suggesting that attempts were made to strangle her. The blood pressure was way below normal, and she had fever when she was admitted."
The young girl was later taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi where her condition was said to be stable. Activists and family members clashed with police, who were accused of giving money to the family and telling them to forget the matter. The girl's father said police had refused to register a case when he went to report her missing.
"The police tried to suppress the matter and even offered [£24] to the family to keep quiet," a spokesperson for the Aam Aadmi party, Aswathi Muralidharan, told the Indo-Asian News Service. "On top of that, the child was admitted to a hospital which does not even have proper facilities and equipment."
The incident is the latest in a series of sexual attacks in Delhi that have created outcry in the aftermath of the December 16 gang-rape and murder of a Delhi student. The authorities have vowed to do more to protect women and police have been ordered to take steps to make the city safer.
Indian media reported that the ministry of home affairs had summoned senior Delhi police officials demanding a full report on what took place.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh said he was "deeply disturbed" by what had taken place. According to the Press Trust of India, he said the way police had treated the woman protesters was "completely unacceptable". -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Thousands of people have staged a march in the Portuguese capital to protest against the austerity measures imposed by the government.
On Saturday, the rally, which had been organized by the General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers (CGTP), was held in the streets of Lisbon to protest rising poverty in the country.
"Unemployment in Portugal is a national disgrace," and "a minimum wage increase is a necessity," the demonstrators shouted.
The protesters also called on the resignation of the government.
The European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund granted Portugal an emergency loan worth 78 billion euros (102 billion US dollars) after the country‘s borrowing costs soared to unsustainable levels in 2011.
In return, the Portuguese government imposed a series of deeply unpopular austerity measures to meet the conditions of the international bailout of its economy.
Portugal’s main opposition party -- the Socialists -- has accused Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s government of applying austerity at any cost and plunging millions of Portuguese into poverty, while failing to meet growth and deficit targets.
Portugal is grappling with its worst recession since the 1970s. The country is bracing for a record 18.2 percent jobless rate this year, up from last year’s 16.9 percent.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – People have staged a demonstration in Washington to protest against the United Sates’ use of assassination drones.
The protesters gathered outside the White House as they were chanting slogans and holding signs against Washington’s use of drones.
Saturday’s protest is part of a series of public protests, dubbed April Days of Action, which the organizers say will spread nationwide and target the infrastructure -- the military bases, universities and companies -- that supports the US government's overseas drone program.
The activists want President Barack Obama to abandon his assassination drone program.
US officials refuse to publicly discuss any details of the covert program and the death toll from drone strikes remains a mystery.
According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, in Pakistan alone 366 strikes have killed up to 3,581 people, with 884 being innocent civilians.
Washington uses assassination drones in several countries, claiming that they target “terrorists.” According to witnesses, however, the attacks have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern about the continued targeting of minors and the use of the internationally condemned terrorism law against them. This comes at a time of the ongoing culture of impunity and the apparent complicity of the public prosecution.
Security forces arrested the minor Hussein Hashem Fardan (17 years old) on Sunday evening 31 March, 2013 reportedly after an ambush carried out by civilian clothed police in a civilian cars. According to the sources who spoke to the BCHR, Hussein and his friends were stopped while they were at one of the petrol stations – AL-Noor station – in Sitra industrial area. One of Hussain’s friends who was with him at the time and released later on, stated that a man in civilian clothing walked up to the car they were in and put a gun to Hussain’s head, threatening to empty all bullets in his head if any of them attempted to resist. The civilian clothed police surrounded the station until they took Hussein and those with him to the criminal investigations building.
The witness stated that their faces were covered since beginning of their detention, and that they were beaten in the car that took them to the CID building. At the CID, Hussein was reportedly severely beaten with plastic hoses and kicked in the abdomen and the face. To add to that, he was reportedly sexually assaulted and threatened with raped until he collapsed. He was then forced to sign papers of unknown content. After that, he was transferred to the Central Police Station where officer Turki Al Majed, named in several other cases as being heavily involved in torture and other human rights violations, works, and who had reportedly previously threatened Hussain with arrest and torture. At the Central Police Station he was also reportedly tortured and forced to sign papers without reading them.
The lawyer of the detainee Hussein Hashem - Zahra Masood - reported in her twitter account that she was present at the public prosecution to attend the interrogation with her client, who seemed to be scared and confused as it was the first time for him to be detained, and as he had reportedly previously received threats of arrest and revenge from officer Turki Al Majid. The lawyer also confirmed witnessing marks from beatings on his face and swelling in the head, which confirmed reports that he was subjected to ill-treatment at the CID building; where he was questioned before being transferred to the public prosecution.
At the public prosecution building, an investigation was held with Hussein Fardan and he was charged with detonating a bomb for terrorist purposes. Hussein denied the accusations against him and told the prosecutor about being beaten with a plastic hose to confess, adding that he was threatened by the interrogators to have him back to the building of investigations and to torture him in the event of his denial of the charges against him. Despite the clarity of the marks of beatings on the body of Hussein Fardan, the prosecutor refused to take any steps to protect Hussein from further abuse, renewing his detention for 15 days pending investigation. The General Attorney refused to open an investigation into the allegations made by the minor Hussein Fardan about being subjected to abuse and ill-treatment. After that, Hussain was returned to the Central Police Station.
On Wednesday, 3 April 2013, and specifically at 9:30am, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights received information stating that the minor Hussein Fardan was taken back to the Public Prosecution again without contacting his lawyer, and when the lawyer went to inquire about the reason for taking Hussein to the prosecution again, they denied his presence there.
The family of Hussein Fardan reported that this was not the first time Hussein Fardan was wanted; as the authorities have been targeting him since 2010. Hussain was 13 years old at the time. The house of Hussein Fardan was raided more than 10 times, at different periods including 6 raids in November 2012. In one of the raids, a group of civilians vandalized the contents of Hussein’s room and took his clothes. When his brother inquired about the reason of their actionns, he was threatened to be beaten and they left the house.
Photo of Hussein’s room after being vandalized during a house raid
Based on the above, Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdon, the United Nations, and all other allies and relevant institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:
1. Immediately release Hussein Fardan who is a minor, as well as all other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
2. Immediately annul the law of terrorism, which has been criticized internationally for being very vague and used specifically during politically motivated cases.
3. To immediately set up an independent committee from civil society to look into the claims and allegations of torture made by civilians.
4. Put an end to the culture of impunity and hold accountable all officials for violations committed, including those in high positions and members of the ruling family.
source : BCHR