Tag Archives | Human Rights

The Rapper Formerly Known As Mos Def Undergoes Force-Feeding In Protest Of Guantanamo

The pressure is being mounted on President Obama to take steps to end the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Wondering just how brutal force-feeding is? Yasiin Bey (better known as Mos Def) collaborated with the human rights organization Reprieve and filmmaker Asif Kapadia to document himself actually undergoing the procedure, in accordance with the standard operating guidelines found in leaked military documents. The resulting four-minute film is extremely disturbing:
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Guantanamo-Style Force Feeding Occurs In U.S. Prisons Every Day

force feedingVia Common Dreams, Ann Neumann on barbaric force feeding occurring onshore and offshore against prisoners who see hunger striking as their last available method of protest:

I know a hunger-striking prisoner who hasn’t eaten solid food in more than five years. He is being force-fed by the medical staff where he’s incarcerated. Starving himself, he told me last year, is the only way he has to exercise his first amendment rights and to protest his conviction.

The fact that force feedings are being discussed in the context of Guantánamo obscures the routine use of feeding tubes in American prisons. Other recent feeding tube cases have taken place in Washington state, Utah, Illinois and Wisconsin. No sweeping study of force-feeding has been done, so statistics on usage don’t exist. Only three states have laws against force-feeding prisoners: Florida, Georgia and California, where a hunger strike in 2011 at a facility in Pelican Bay effectively caused a court examination of prison conditions.

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Former Guatemalan Dictator Convicted Of Genocide

guatemalan dictator

The military dictatorship led by Montt slaughtered thousands upon thousands of villagers in an effort to exterminate Guatemala’s indigenous ethnic Mayan population, which it regarded as sympathetic to leftist rebels. No word on whether the CIA and Ronald Reagan will be tried posthumously as accessories. Reuters reports:

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty on Friday of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 80 years in prison. It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.

Montt, now 86, took power after a coup in 1982 and implemented a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers thought to be helping leftist rebels.

Prosecutors say Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as 250,000 people died.

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China Releases Its 2012 Report On Human Rights In The United States

human rightsIt may be a bit ludicrous for the Chinese government to criticize other nations over human rights, but that doesn’t mean that their observations are wrong.

Via China Daily, excerpts from the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China’s report titled “Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012,” released a week ago:

The State Department of the United States recently released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, posing as “the world judge of human rights” again. However, the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it.

In the U.S., elections could not fully embody the real will of its citizens. Political contributions had, to a great extent, influenced the electoral procedures and policy direction. During the 2012 presidential election, the voter turnout was only 57.5 percent.

The U.S. has become one of the developed countries with the greatest income gap.

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“Human Beings Have No Right to Water” and Other Words of Wisdom From Your Friendly Neighborhood Global Oligarch

Picture: Awesome Satan mask by Schell Studios. schellstudio.com

Picture: Awesome Satan mask by Schell Studios. schellstudio.com

Andrew Gavin Marshall writes:

In the 2005 documentary, We Feed the World, then-CEO of Nestlé, the world’s largest foodstuff corporation, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, shared some of his own views and ‘wisdom’ about the world and humanity. Brabeck believes that nature is not “good,” that there is nothing to worry about with GMO foods, that profits matter above all else, that people should work more, and that human beings do not have a right to water.

Today, he explained, “people believe that everything that comes from Nature is good,” marking a large change in perception, as previously, “we always learnt that Nature could be pitiless.” Humanity, Brabeck stated, “is now in the position of being able to provide some balance to Nature, but in spite of this we have something approaching a shibboleth that everything that comes from Nature is good.” He then referenced the “organic movement” as an example of this thinking, premising that “organic is best.” But rest assured, he corrected, “organic is not best.” In 15 years of GMO food consumption in the United States, “not one single case of illness has occurred.” In spite of this, he noted, “we’re all so uneasy about it in Europe, that something might happen to us.” This view, according to Brabeck, is “hypocrisy more than anything else.”

Water, Brabeck correctly pointed out, “is of course the most important raw material we have today in the world,” but added: “It’s a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population.

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ACLU Uncovers Illegal Debtors’ Prisons Across Ohio

debtors' prison

Despite being blatantly unconstitutional, citizens are commonly being jailed for their inability to pay tickets and fines, wreaking havoc on people’s lives (and costing the state far greater sums than the unpaid tickets), ACLU Ohio reveals:

The resurgence of contemporary debtors’ prisons sits squarely at this intersection of poverty and criminal justice. In towns across the state, thousands of people face the looming specter of incarceration every day, simply because they are poor.

For Ohio’s poor and working poor, an unaffordable traffic ticket or fine is just the beginning of a protracted process that may involve contempt charges, mounting fees, arrest warrants, and even jail time. The stark reality is that, in 2013, Ohioans are being repeatedly jailed simply for being too poor to pay fines.

The U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code all prohibit debtors’ prisons. The law requires that, before jailing anyone for unpaid fines, courts must determine whether an individual is too poor to pay.

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Attorney General Eric Holder Says Drone Killings On U.S. Soil Are ‘Hypothetically’ Doable

Will lethal drone strikes someday come home? Business Insider reports:

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter Tuesday that Obama administration believes it could “hypothetically” carry out drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil, but “has no intention of doing so.” The letter was sent to Republican Senator Rand Paul in response to his question about the constitutionality of drone strikes on U.S. soil.

But what is truly alarming about Holder’s letter is not his position, but his vague, almost supercilious, dismissal of the drone question itself:

The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution…for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.

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More Than 50 Countries Collaborated With CIA On Extraordinary Rendition Torture Program

Torturing: it brought the United States together with Iran, Syria, Libya, and Zimbabwe. Wired reports:

A new report from the Open Society Foundation details the CIA’s effort to outsource torture since 9/11. Known as “extraordinary rendition,” the practice concerns taking detainees to and from U.S. custody without a legal process and handing detainees over to countries that practiced torture.

The report found that 136 people went through the post-9/11 extraordinary rendition, and 54 countries were complicit in it. Some were official U.S. adversaries, like Iran and Syria, brought together with the CIA by the shared interest of combating terrorism.

The most famous case involves Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen snatched in 2002 by the U.S. at JFK Airport before the CIA sent him to Syria under the mistaken impression he was a terrorist. In Syrian custody, Arar was “imprisoned for more than ten months in a tiny grave-like cell, beaten with cables, and threatened with electric shocks by the Syrian government.”

The full 54 countries that aided in post-9/11 renditions: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

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U.S. Congress Mulls Creation Of Drone Court To Authorize Killings

Who lives and who dies? The drone court will decide. Via Reuters:

During a fresh round of debate this week over President Barack Obama’s claim that he can unilaterally order lethal strikes by unmanned aircraft against U.S. citizens, some lawmakers proposed a middle ground: a special federal “drone court” that would approve suspected militants for targeting. The idea is being actively considered, however, according to a White House official.

At Thursday’s confirmation hearing for CIA director nominee John Brennan, senators discussed establishing a secret court or tribunal to rule on the validity of cases that U.S. intelligence agencies draw up for killing suspected militants using drones.

Senator Angus King, a Maine independent, said during the hearing that he envisioned a scenario in which executive branch officials would go before a drone court “in a confidential and top-secret way, make the case that this American citizen is an enemy combatant.”

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May I Recommend a Documentary: ‘The Wobblies’

via chycho If you want to hear some of the coolest stories that you’ve ever heard from some of the funniest elders that you’ve ever seen then “The Wobblies” is for you. There is so much goodness in this documentary that it’ll put a smile on your face. The subject matter is the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, formed in 1905, it’s considered to be one of the most important labor movements in the history of the United States...
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