SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The official number of the detainees on hunger strike at the United States’ notorious Guantanamo Bay prison has reached 100, according to a US official.
Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House said on Saturday that 100 of the 166 prisoners at the US prison in Cuba are now on strike.
He added that 19 captives are being force-fed via tubes snaked up their nose and into their stomach; and five have been hospitalized.
The detainees are on hunger strike to protest against their imprisonment without charge or trial for more than a decade, and the conditions at the jail.
Lawyers for the detainees contest the official numbers, and state that the US military is undercounting the number of hunger strikers. They say that some 130 prisoners are actually taking part in the hunger protest.
Most of the 166 detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison have been cleared for release or were never charged - a situation that has attracted outcry from certain countries and human right organizations.
“The illegal detentions without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay have gone on for more than a decade with no end in sight, so it’s not surprising that detainees feel desperate,” Laura Pitter, a counterterrorism advisor at Human Rights Watch, recently said in a statement.
The Constitution Project, a non-profit think tank in the United States that builds bipartisan consensus on significant constitutional and legal questions, concluded in a recent report that the “forced feeding of detainees [at Guantanamo prison] is a form of abuse and must end.”
International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer has urged US President Barack Obama’s administration to mend the situation in Guantanamo and criticized force-feeding as a solution to the hunger strike.
"If we see a hunger strike today, we interpret this as a symptom, as an indicator about the lack of perspective that those detainees have, the impression of an American government which does not follow up on promises, promises that have been made on transfers," Maurer said at a news conference on April 11.
Upon taking office, Obama signed an executive order to stop military commissions in order to close down the Guantanamo prison by 2010. However, this has not happened yet.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – As the news revealed that Boston suspect widowed wife was an American convert to Islam, stereotypes and misconceptions have been reignited about US women who have chosen Islam, portraying them as brainwashed and submissive who sacrificed their American life to satisfy their husbands.
“The moment you put on a hijab, people assume that you’ve forfeited your free will,” Lauren Schreiber, who favors traditional Islamic dress, told NBC News on Friday, April 26.
Schreiber, who became a Muslim in 2010, expected to hear comments being brainwashed after the media revealed that 24-year-old Katherine Russell, a New England doctor’s daughter, was married to Boston dead suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Comments from former acquaintances and complete strangers immediately suggested that Russell must have been coerced and controlled by her husband.
“She was a very sweet woman, but I think kind of brainwashed by him,” reported the Associated Press, quoting Anne Kilzer, a Belmont, Mass., woman who said she knew Russell and her 3-year-old daughter.
Expecting these false assumptions, Schreiber wanted to dispel stereotypes and misconceptions that US women who have chosen Islam.
“It’s not because somebody made me do this,” explains Schreiber, who converted after a college study-abroad trip to West Africa.
“It’s what I choose to do and I’m happy.”
Rebecca Minor, 28, of West Hartford, Conn., a special education teacher who converted to Islam five years ago, agreed.
When her students, ages 5 to 8, ask why she wears a headscarf, she always says the same thing: "It's something that's important to me and it reminds me to be a good person," Minor, who is secretary for the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, said.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to from 7-8 million Muslims.
According to a 2011 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, about 20 percent of US Muslims are converts to the faith. Of those converts, about 54 percent were men and 46 percent were women.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
Finding Islam, US Muslim converts usually face harsh accusations of being brainwashed women who sacrificed their American life to please a man.
“Accusations of brainwashing are harsh,” Yvonne Haddad, a professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University, said.
“They cover up the fact that we don’t comprehend why people like ‘us’ want to change and be like ‘them.’”
“Islam is attractive to women that the feminist movement left behind,” added Haddad, who co-authored a 2006 book, “Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today.”
Chosng to wear a headscarf and traditional Islamic garb in public, Lindsey Faraj, 26, of Charlotte, N.C., usually faces false assumptions that she has sacrificed her American life to please a man.
“'You must have converted in order to marry him,' I hear it all the time,” said Faraj, who actually converted simultaneously with her husband.
Getting married to Wathek Faraj, who is from Damascus, about four years ago, she heard people say that her husband is allowed to beat her, that she’s not free to get a divorce, that she and her two children, ages 4 months and 2, are subservient to the man.
“In the beginning, it did offend me a lot,” says Faraj, who grew up in a Christian family in Florida.
“But now as my sense of my new self has grown, I don’t feel offended.”
Her fair features, reflective a white American in hijab, did not ban others from screaming insults in her face.
“They screamed: ‘Go back to your own country’ and I thought, ‘It doesn’t get more white than this, girl,’” says Faraj, indicating her fair features.
Faraj, a stay-at-home mom, says she never saw herself "as a religious person, in the least," but became enthralled after trying to learn more about Islam before a visit to see her husband's family.
“The concept of Islam hit me,” Faraj recalls.
“It was just something that entered my heart.”
Schreiber, who is a community outreach and events coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says she was drawn to Islam after meeting other Muslims on her trip abroad before graduating from St. Mary's College of Maryland in 2009.
Choosing Islam, she rejects accusations that Islam encourages men to abuse their wives.
"Abusive men come in all colors, nationalities, ethnicities and from all religions," she says.
"No one says that Christianity teaches abuse of women because some Christian men are abusive."
Schreiber, who frequently gets comments from people surprised to see her fair skin and hear her American accent from beneath a scarf, said she appreciates it when people ask questions instead of making assumptions.
“I just want people to know that there are American Muslim women who wear hijab by choice because they believe in it and it feels right to them, not because anyone tells them to,” she said.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Secretary General of the Afghan Red Crescent believes the Afghan women and girls do not report rape by the US military for the fear of shame.
Muhammad Naeem Dindar stressed: “many Afghan women and girls, do not report rape by foreign military personnel for fear of shame, and we have had 15 to 20 reports regarding this so far.”
He said: “prevalence of various diseases, including cancer and birth defects of children such as hole in a heart is the consequences of the War.”
He added: “in addition to the specific economic damages, women and children have been affected the most [by the war].”
Finally he pointed to the displacement of more than 5 million Afghani caused by the US war against the country and said: “Any war is going to have consequences for many people in that country. According to the United Nations report, a third of Afghans live below the poverty line.
Their daily income does not exceed one dollar, and ultimately people are forced to migrate to neighboring countries for better living, where they are also faced with its own problems.
Source:Islamic invitation turkey
SHAFAQNA-- Jordanians have staged an anti-US demonstration in the capital, Amman, to protest against the proposed deployment of US troops on the kingdom’s border with Syria.
Hundreds of Jordanian protesters took to the streets on Friday to express their opposition to the planned deployment of 200 US troops in their country, AP reported.
The demonstrators said the deployment could be just the beginning of a process that paves the way for US interference in the Syrian unrest. They also burned American flags.
They also said that they do not want to see a US-led invasion of Syria, like the 2003 war in Iraq, based on faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction.
"No to US troops in Jordan. This is not in our national interest," the demonstrators chanted.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on April 17 that Washington is sending an additional 200 troops to Jordan to help contain the violence in Syria, increasing speculations that US is setting the stage for intervention in Syria.
The planned deployment comes as the Pentagon has recently reviewed military options for Syria. Hagel has called military intervention in Syria "an option, but an option of last resort."
There have been several dozen American troops, mainly special forces, in Jordan since last year.
Jordan’s opposition party, the Islamic Action front, has also denounced the presence of American troops in the kingdom and has asked the government to review its decision to authorize the deployment of foreign troops on Jordan’s soil.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Venezuela has arrested a 35-year-old American filmmaker accused of fomenting post-election violence in the South American country on behalf of the US government.
“I have personally ordered Timothy Tracy's arrest on suspicion of creating violence in the cities of this country," Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday.
Tracy is accused of paying right-wing youth groups to hold violent demonstrations after Maduro's election win last week. The Venezuelan Interior Ministry says the he works for US intelligence.
Tracy's friends and family claim that he has been in Venezuela since last year making a documentary about the confrontation between the country's opposition and its socialist government.
The US citizen had been detained twice before by Venezuela’s SEBIN intelligence police. The last time was five days before the April 14 presidential election.
Prosecutors say Tracy was detained Wednesday evening as he tried to fly out of Simon Bolivar International Airport in the capital Caracas. He will reportedly be formally charged under Venezuela’s anti-terrorism laws.
Socialist Nicolas Maduro was declared the winner of Venezuela’s presidential election on April 14. He won 50.8 percent of the vote against 49.0 percent for the opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
The defeated candidate refused to recognize Maduro's victory and called for a march to reach the Electoral National Council headquarters in Caracas and for a general strike the following day.
The Venezuelan president accused the US Embassy in Caracas of promoting the incidents.
He added that the US intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs in recent months, and particularly during the election campaign, had been “brutal and vulgar.” -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –American Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet United Arab Emirates leaders on Thursday to wrap up a major arms deal that both nations see as a way to thwart Iran's military power, three days after the US sealed a major arms deal with Israel.
The preliminary arms deal "really cements a long term and enduring partnership" with the Emirates, a senior defense official told reporters traveling with Hagel.
The deal – and the perceived threat posed by Iran – will be high on the agenda Thursday evening when Hagel meets Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, Abu Dhabi crown prince and deputy head of the UAE's armed forces, officials said.
By endorsing the deal, the UAE has demonstrated "its trust in the United States" as a reliable partner, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The arms sale – which involves a long-term commitment to train UAE pilots and provide spare parts and two dozen F-16 fighter jets – shows "that the US isn't going anywhere, that the United States is firmly committed to the security of all our regional partners," the official said.
As Iran's uranium enrichment has progressed along with its missile program, the UAE has spent billions beefing up its air power and missile defenses.
The UAE has also backed tough sanctions against Iran despite, extensive trade and commercial ties with its northern neighbor.
Hagel confirmed a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Israel that will see the latter receiving an impressive package of advanced US missiles and aircraft.
The meeting came less than a week after President Barack Obama reluctantly ordered $85 billion in budget cuts, and amid speculation that the move would shave off funds to Israel.
Hagel arrived in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday on the last leg of a six-nation tour of the Middle East in which he has sought to renew ties with American allies who share Washington's concerns over Iran's nuclear project and Syria's civil war.
Before his departure, the Pentagon announced plans for an elaborate weapons sale to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA-- The federal government had added the name of the dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect to a terrorist database 18 months before the deadly explosions, US officials are reported to have said.
Five days after the US determined who was allegedly behind the deadly Boston marathon terror attacks, Washington is piecing together what happened and whether there were any unconnected dots buried in the US government files that, if connected, could have prevented the bombings.
"Days after the Boston Marathon bombing suspects were caught and it's now clear that both the FBI and the CIA were aware of Tamerlan Tsarnaev for more than a year," said Al Jazeera reporter Dominic Kane.
"When the hunt for the Tsarnaev brothers concluded last week, police and law enforcement agencies spoke of it as a victory.
"But now the revelation that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was on a watchlist of potential terror suspects might put that in a different light."
The surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, told authorities that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, only recently recruited him to be part of the attack, two US officials said on Wednesday.
Dzhokhar told the FBI that they were angry about the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Muslims there, officials said. How much of those conversations will end up in court is unclear.
The CIA named Tamerlan to a huge, classified database of known and suspected terrorists a year and a half ago, officials said, an acknowledgment that will undoubtedly prompt congressional inquiry about whether the Obama administration adequately investigated tips from Russia that Tsarnaev had posed a security threat.
Shortly after the bombings, US officials said the intelligence community had no information about threats to the marathon before the April 15 explosions.
The US officials who spoke to The Associated Press were close to the investigation, but insisted on anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the case with reporters.
Investigators have said the brothers appeared to have been radicalised through materials on the internet and have found no evidence tying them to any one group.
Tamerlan, whom authorities have described as the driving force behind the plot, was killed in a shootout with police.
Dzhokhar is recovering in a hospital from injuries sustained during a getaway attempt.
The CIA made the request to add Tamerlan's name to the terrorist database after the Russian government contacted the agency with concerns that he had become a follower of extremism.
About six months earlier, the FBI had separately investigated Tsarnaev, also at Russia's request, but the FBI found no ties to terrorism, officials said.
Officials say they never found the type of derogatory information on Tsarnaev that would have elevated his profile among counterterrorism investigators and placed him on the terror watch list.
Lawmakers who were briefed by the FBI said they had more questions than answers about the investigation of Tsarnaev.
US officials were expected to brief the Senate on the investigation on Thursday.
Officials said on Wednesday that Dzhokhar acknowledged to the FBI his role in the attacks but did so before he was advised of his constitutional rights to keep quiet and seek a lawyer.
It is unclear whether those statements would be admissible in a criminal trial and, if not, whether prosecutors even need them to win a conviction.
Officials said physical evidence, including a 9 mm handgun and pieces of a remote-control device commonly used in toys, was recovered from the scene.
Authorities had previously said Dzhokhar exchanged gunfire with them for more than an hour on Friday night before they captured him inside a boat covered by a tarp in a suburban Boston neighbourhood backyard.
But two US officials said on Wednesday that he was unarmed when captured, raising questions about the gunfire and how he was injured.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A prominent UN expert says the recent bombings in the US city of Boston were a direct response to Washington's foreign policies around the world, specifically in the Middle East.
UN Human Rights Council’s Palestine monitor Richard Falk wrote in the online Foreign Policy Journal on April 21 that the Boston bombings were a direct result of Americans torturing Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, and of US drone attacks on innocent women and children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In the essay titled “A Commentary on the Marathon Murders,” Falk also blamed the United States’ one-sided support of Israel, at the expense of the Palestinians.
“As long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy,” wrote Falk, who is also an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University.
Falk described US President Barack Obama’s recent speech in al-Quds (Jerusalem) during his visit to the Middle East as a “love letter to the Israeli public” rather than a demonstration of his belief in peace.
The UN Human Rights Council official also noted that the US has been fortunate not to experience even worse consequences of its actions around the world.
"The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance... the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks, and these may yet happen, especially if there is no disposition to rethink US relations to others in the world,” the US academic added.
He pointed out that US politicians lack “the courage to connect some of these dots," noting that, "Should we not all be meditating on W.H. Auden's haunting line: 'Those to whom evil is done/do evil in return.'"
Falk’s comments drew an angry response from the United States.
Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for US mission to the United Nations, said in a statement on Tuesday that Falk’s comments on the bombings were “provocative and offensive.”
“The United States has previously called for Mr. Falk’s resignation for his numerous outrageous statements, and these comments underscore once more the absurdity of his service as a UN special rapporteur,” Pelton said.
In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said Falk’s comments are a blatant justification for “terrorism, insulting the memory of Boston’s dead and wounded, insulting the American people.”
Rice also said Falk should be dismissed from the world body.
On April 15, the twin bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 170.
Nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the bombings, has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction.
Dzhokhar was wounded and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police on April 19.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Dzhokhar cited the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as major influences for his role in the bombings.
Experts argued that the pressure cooker-type bombs used in the bombings resembled weapons used by the US military, including antipersonnel land mines and internationally-banned cluster munitions, as bits of maiming steel are used to cause maximum widespread casualties and structural damage.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA-- Half a century ago this month Martin Luther King wrote his famous prison protest against racial injustice, entitled ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’. An excerpt reads: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality... Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Fifty years on to this very month, King’s defiant cri de coeur could hardly be more apt to express the barbarous injustice being committed by the US government against one of that nation’s bravest defence lawyers - Lynne Stewart.
Ms Stewart (73) is dying in a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, from cancer that has spread from her breast to the rest of her body. Her family has little doubt that her life-threatening illness has been induced by the vindictive conditions of her incarceration by the US authorities.
Ralph Poynter, her husband for the past 50 years, and more than 10,000 petition signatories from across the world are mobilising to face down the barbarity of the American regime. Her supporters are demanding Lynne’s immediate release from her prison cell on compassionate and legally entitled grounds.
Lynne Stewart’s story is not just one of personal harrowing torment. The US state’s cruel persecution of this woman epitomises the general destruction of human rights and the rise of draconian police powers across America in the aftermath of 9/11 and the fraudulent “war on terror”.
This climate of repression and xenophobia also became evident last week in the wake of the Boston marathon bombings, where one of America’s major cities was put under a state of virtual martial law for several days while the security apparatus hunted down two brothers, who were already known to these authorities.
Lynne Stewart came of age politically in the turbulent 1960s. Growing up in the poor New York working-class districts of Brooklyn and Harlem, she became a defence lawyer with the express purpose of upholding the rights of the oppressed, marginalised and downtrodden - many of whom were her friends and neighbours.
She witnessed how many of her friends from the African-American community were harassed and brutalised by American racist police forces. She saw how the courts denied justice to poor communities and how these communities were neglected and abandoned by elitist governments, to live in open-air prisons called inner-city ghettoes.
With irrepressible passion and wit, Lynne Stewart saw her duty to her fellow human beings as representing those who had been cast aside as untouchable and unwanted in an American society where all too often poverty and racial prejudice automatically impose a harsh life sentence of misery and suffering at birth. Without fear or favour, Lynne saw her vocation as, in her own colourful words, to not just defend those who couldn’t make it to the finish line, but to defend those who couldn’t even make it to the starting line.
Once, she stated publicly her purpose as a defence lawyer: “Our quests are formidable. We have in Washington poisonous government that spreads its venom to the body politic in all corners of the globe. There is a consummate evil that unleashes its dogs of war on the helpless. Our enemy is motivated only by insatiable greed, with no thought of other consequences. In this enemy there is no love of the land or the creatures that live there, no compassion for the people, no thought of future generations. This enemy will destroy the air we breathe and the water we drink as long as the dollars keep filling up their money-boxes… We go out to stop police brutality; to rescue the imprisoned.”
Lynne’s words were not those of a bookish lawyer, but rather those of an impassioned human being who clearly saw injustice as an enemy of the people, as a political oppression that must be fought with all her body, heart, mind and spirit.
Her trenchant defence of the principle of presumed innocence saw her take on cases that many other attorneys shunned. These cases included members of the Black Panther movement and other radical social movements, such as Anti-Vietnam War, Weather Underground and Irish freedom fighters. She defended a great many other unknown ordinary citizens who were victims of daily American police brutality and racism. For Lynne Stewart, the courts were not a place to make a moneyed career in - they were battlegrounds to take up the plight of people who were victims of elite privilege and abusive state power.
During the 1990s, typically Lynne recognised the plight of American Muslims who were increasingly being harassed and demonised by America’s state security and police services. She took on the case of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh”.
Following the 1993 World Trade Center bombings in New York, the Egyptian-born cleric was accused in 1995 of “seditious conspiracy” in another plot to blow up various city landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the United Nations Building. Many observers denounced the prosecution as a set-up, pointing out that Sheikh Omar was poor, blind and disabled. Also, it was well known in the communities that FBI undercover agents had been for months going into mosques inveigling youths with these very same hare-brained terror schemes.
As with the recent Boston marathon bombings, there are many unanswered questions about the shadowy role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the 1993 New York blasts and the subsequent alleged landmarks bombing plot. There are strong suspicions that the FBI used “sting” tactics to entrap unwitting felons - in much the same that many people have questioned how the two Tsarnaev brothers in Boston were permitted to apparently evade known security concerns.
Lynne Stewart was not intimidated out of defending Sheikh Omar even though the increasingly unhinged American corporate media portrayed him as the “embodiment of Islamic terrorism”. By then, there was a growing pernicious climate of Islamophobia in the US - a disturbing trend that has since become a hate-filled crescendo in the decade following the 9/11 explosions in 2001.
Sheikh Omar was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment in 1995 along with nine other defendants. His prosecution was seen then as a travesty, owing to Lynne Stewart’s vigorous defence and evidence. For many observers, she proved in court not only the sheikh’s innocence, but also that the American government, the legal system and the law enforcement agencies were all implicated in insider-job terrorism and perverting justice. Recall that these revelations made by Lynne Stewart’s legal work were six years before 9/11 and the so-called “war on terror”.
True to her humanitarianism, Stewart maintained professional client relations with the incarcerated Sheikh Omar - who is currently serving out his sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina. The sheikh may have been behind bars, but Lynne Stewart continued working to clear his name and for his eventual acquittal.
This legal representation of an unfairly demonised man would lead to Lynne Stewart’s downfall in the following decade at the hands of the increasingly militant US authorities.
After 9/11, President George Bush’s Attorney General John Ashcroft instituted a raft of laws that would target defence lawyers and prevent their exercise of constitutional rights of free speech. Under these new stringent so-called anti-terror laws in the aftermath of 9/11, Stewart was accused of aiding terrorism because of her prison visits to Sheikh Omar and for allegedly passing written communications to his supporters on the outside. This latter accusation was based on a highly contaminated misrepresentation of a press release Lynne Stewart sent to the Reuters news agency concerning the case of her client. In the pre-9/11 era, such legal activities would have been considered normal confidential defence-client relations. Not any more; they are now seen as “collaborating with enemies of the state”. That is a measure of how extreme political and legal conditions in the US have deteriorated.
Lynne Stewart was arrested in 2002 and charged with “materially supporting terrorism”. Bizarrely - and indicating the witch-hunt climate that has gripped the US following 9/11 - the arrest was announced by Attorney General Ashcroft during an appearance on the David Letterman Late Show aired on the television channel CBS.
After a lengthy controversial legal battle, Lynne Stewart was herself sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment at the end of 2009 for aiding and abetting terrorists. She has now served more than three years of that sentence. Such is the sadistic nature of her incarceration, for some of the time she has been shackled with arm and leg irons to her prison bed, even while receiving medical treatment for her cancer.
The conclusion from this American state-sanctioned barbarity is clear. Lynne Stewart’s imprisonment is an attempt by the US regime to bury her alive behind bars. Of all people, Lynne Stewart knew best how the Washington shadow government of corrupt politicians and secret services were constructing the war-on-terror charade to demonise Muslims and create a climate of fear and paranoia in American society - a climate that would soon enable the shadow government to strip citizens of their human rights and constitutional protections. In a word, Lynne Stewart had to be silenced and got rid off. She knew too much and was too articulate about the vile inner-workings and scheming of the US secret state.
If voices like those of Lynne Stewart had remained free and active, it is probable that the US secret government would not be able to get away so easily with expanding its panoply of barbarities, such as the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, torture of detainees held without charge, the wholesale collapse of civil liberties, spying and surveillance on citizens, the illegal invasions and aggression towards other countries, and - perhaps the ultimate totalitarianism - the extrajudicial murder of foreign and American nationals with assassination drones by presidential order.
Owing to her life-long commitment to defending the rights of others and her rapidly deteriorating health, Lynne Stewart’s prison ordeal has won a growing public call for her immediate release, both within the US and across the world. Her case has also drawn widespread awareness and concern about the repressive trajectory of US society and the encroachment of a full-blown totalitarian police state.
Her cause has gained support from thousands of ordinary people who recognise Stewart’s towering defence of society’s weak and vulnerable members. Her supporters include human and social rights activists, UN special rapporteur on human rights Richard Falk, and many renowned thinkers and writers, such as Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, Ralph Schoenman, Alice Walker and Cornel West, as well as former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu has added his voice calling for Stewart’s immediate release, as has veteran American actor Ed Asner, who said: “Given the enormous good that Lynne Stewart has done for humanity throughout her life as a courageous lawyer for the poor, the oppressed and the unjustly accused, I am shocked by the cynical perversity of an American government that has pursued her savagely and vengefully.
Asner continued: “Lynne Stewart must be freed. The law requires her compassionate release and the medical care that can save her life. We must deny the US state a death sentence aimed at the freedom of us all. The state power that torments Lynne Stewart invades countries at will, murders hundreds of thousands with impunity and creates a climate of fear and repression to prevent the people of this country from calling those in power to account.”
Author and media commentator Ralph Schoenman said: “We must mobilize world opinion to stop the judicial and political murder of Lynne Stewart, an ominous measure of the mass repression in preparation for all working people and the oppressed. Few cases encapsulate so fundamentally the destruction of democratic rights in the United States as the persecution of Lynne Stewart.”
African-American comedian and political commentator Dick Gregory has vowed to continue a hunger strike until Stewart is freed. Nearly three weeks after refusing food, Gregory said: “The prosecution and persecution of Lynne Stewart is designed to intimidate the entire legal community so that few would dare to defend political clients whom the state demonizes and none would provide a vigorous defense. It also was designed to narrow the meaning of our cherished first amendment right to free speech, which the people of this country struggled to have added to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights.”
In sum, we may return to the words of the late Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
It is high time for the US authorities to free Lynne Stewart from her unjust imprisonment.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The United States and Qatar are set to boost their support for the militants operating inside Syria, in an act of foreign interference in the internal affairs of the crisis-hit Middle Eastern country.
US President Barack Obama made the announcement at the White House following a meeting with the emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
This comes days after US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Washington would double its assistance to the militants in Syria.
Kerry said on Sunday that Washington had decided on an “assistance package,” increasing what it called non-lethal aid to the militants by more than USD 127 million.
This would bring the total amount of US aid to the militants to USD 250 million.
The new plan by the US and Qatar is the latest instance of foreign meddling in the internal affairs of Syria.
Earlier, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the West “will pay a heavy price” for pitting al-Qaeda militants against the Syrian government.
Other regional countries have also been providing the militants in Syria with various forms of support. Qatar has been leading such efforts.
On April 22, during a meeting with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Qatar and some other Arab countries to stop supplying weapons to the militants in Syria. Al-Araby was quick to reject Ban’s appeal.
Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian army and security 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 has said that the West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are supporting the militants. -www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV