Daily Archives: 22/03/2011

(eagainst) [1] Bahraini Shia women hold up pictures of King Hamad and a slain activist during his funeral in the town of Sitra outside the capital, Manama on March 20, 2011. A former Bahraini lawmaker says that around 100 people have gone missing during the Manama-ordered crackdown on the countrywide popular revolution.“We don’t know anything about them, we’ve asked hospital and ministry authorities and none of them are telling us anything about them,” said Hady al-Mussawy, formerly a parliamentarian with Al Wefaq, the country’s largest political party. He made the comments during a short protest in front of the United Nations building in the capital, calling on the world body to make sure rescue medical services operate in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

Demonstrators in the Shia-majority country have been demanding the ouster of the Sunni-led Al Khalifa monarchy as well as constitutional reforms since February 14. The government recently razed the capital’s Pearl Square, where hundreds of protesters had been camping.

At least 12 people have been killed and about 1,000 injured since the start of the anti-government protests during the government-backed armed attacks. On Thursday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay denounced a new move by the government to take control of the country’s hospitals amid the killing and injuring of protesters by the security forces.

“There are reports of arbitrary arrests, killings, beatings of protesters and of medical personnel, and of the takeover of hospitals and medical centers by various security forces,” she said. Manama recently sought the help of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to further suppress the protests. Violence has intensified against the demonstrators ever since the deployment of Saudi and Emirati forces in Bahrain.


ΥΕΜΕΝ: The people of Yemen come under sniper fire as they gather to demonstrate

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( Just because we’re close to Fukushima Daiichi doesn’t mean we get more radiation, insists one local mayor. Still, Japan has banned the sale of milk and spinach from farms near the power plant.

Funahiki, Japan

Bedraggled under the steady rain, the string of shops and homes that make up the main street of this nondescript small town is deserted save for the occasional car swishing by. The shutters are down on all the storefronts, and piles of uncollected garbage sit by the roadside.

Funahiki is 25 miles from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, 12 miles outside the Japanese government-decreed evacuation zone. But like scores of other towns and villages too close for comfort to the reactors, it has been effectively cut off from the rest of the country by a lack of gasoline and simple fear. Furthermore, in the wake of news of contaminated food, farming communities like this one in Fukushima prefecture, where a quarter of the workforce depends on agriculture, are deeply concerned about the region’s future.

“Delivery drivers won’t come here, the post office is closed because the staff who live outside town are scared to come to work, even a lot of the doctors and nurses have left,” complains the mayor, Yukei Tomitsuka. “We are the victims of prejudice.”

Japan nuclear crisis: A timeline of key events

Among the lowest radiation levels

He brandishes the latest report from the two electronic radiation detectors that have been set up in Tamura City, an extensive collection of small towns and farming villages for which Funahiki is the county seat. It shows that radiation levels here were among the lowest in Fukushima prefecture at noon on Monday.

“People think that because we are closer to Daiichi we get more radiation but it’s not true,” Mr. Tomitsuka insists.

Only about 10 percent of Tamura’s 41,000 residents have fled, according to the mayor, but few of those who remain are anywhere to be seen.

“We are all staying at home,” says Yutaka Watanabe, answering a reporter’s knock at his front door. “There is nowhere to go, not much to buy and hardly any gasoline. We are just sitting indoors and watching TV.”

The only activity in town is to be found at the single supermarket that remains open in Tamura, the Funahiki Park, where deputy manager Yoshiharu Matsuzake says business is up by 50 percent in recent days, thanks to the lack of competition.

He is filling his shelves as best he can, dispatching his employees to wholesalers’ warehouses in their own cars, fueled by gas they can find at the supermarket’s own gas station. “That’s the only way we can stay open,” Mr. Matsuzake explains.


Little gas, few deliveries

Matsuzake blames the lack of gasoline, still barely obtainable in this part of Japan nine days after the earthquake and tsunami that tore into the Northeastern coast of the country, for the lack of delivery trucks.

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( The night of March 15th, a group of roughly forty students, workers, the unemployed and other uncontrollables marched to the Milwaukee County Jail, carrying banners and black flags. The banners at the front of the march read “Burn All Prisons” and “No Control”. Upon arriving at the front doors of the jail, demonstrators chanted “Free them all” and launched dozens of fireworks through the air in an effort to communicate with those locked inside.

The demonstration was called for by participants in the occupation of the Theatre building at UW-Milwaukee as a part of the ongoing struggle against the “Budget Repair Bill”. The bill, proposed by the hated governor of Wisconsin, contains a provision that will institute a Truth-in-Sentencing policy. This measure removes the possibility for those locked away in Wisconsin’s jails and prisons to qualify for early release for good behavior or ‘good time’.

For inmates this means a dramatic increase in the time spent in jail – more time in captivity, kept away from their families and loved ones, kept in abject misery and isolation. The Truth-in-Sentencing provisions of the bill highlight specifically how the economic attacks on working and unemployed people throughout the state goes hand in hand with the criminalization and imprisonment of the working class). The economic system that exploits our labor, deprives our benefits, and throws us on the street is the very same system that keeps us in cages and behind barbed wire.

In the past weeks of resistance to Walker’s austerity measures, the politicians and police unions have been remarkably silent about this provision. They’ve built a mythology that “we’re all in this together” or that “they’re on our side”. It is more convenient for them to simply ignore the ways that the bill they purportedly oppose dramatically expands the prison system they faithfully defend. It’s no coincidence that the bill both extends prison sentences while also protecting the Police Union from the elimination of collective bargaining rights. The role of politicians and the police is to maintain the dreadful economy and the prison system necessary to it. It should come as no surprise to us that those who fail to criticize this system are the same who encourage us to continue working and scold those who step outside the lines they’ve defined.

It is time for new lines to be drawn. On the one side: the governor, politicians, police, bureaucrats, professional activists. On the other: prisoners, workers, students, the unemployed, the enraged. If the spontaneous struggle against this bill were to generalize and become a movement against this economic system and its prisons, it would mean that those affected by the bill would need to extend their actions and gestures of solidarity through all the walls that separate them. December’s historic strike by prisoners in Georgia shows us what such action could look like. For us, this means that the strikes, occupations and sabotage – the generalized disruption of the economy – needs to spread through the walls of the prison, to generalize, and to intensify. In this, we need to build complicit relationships and revolt inside and outside those walls.

Towards an unlimited strike, for a world without prison!


( Following a United Nations Security Council resolution on 18 March 2011 to allow foreign military action against Libya, conflict still rages between al-Gaddafi’s forces, rebels based in Benghazi, and international forces attacking from the air.  Amnesty International examines some of the human rights issues at stake.

What are the obligations under international law of parties to the conflict in Libya?
There is now an international armed conflict in Libya between coalition forces and the Libyan government.

There is also a non-international armed conflict between the Libyan government and rebel fighters. It is critical that all parties involved in the conflict respect fully international humanitarian law (the laws of war) and applicable human rights law.

All parties must refrain from targeting civilians or civilian objects. They should strictly adhere to the definition of military targets and the prohibition of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks contained in Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions, which reflect customary international law.

The rules described here apply to all parties and to all situations of armed conflict (international or non-international). In particular, there should be:
(a) no direct attack on civilians or civilian objects;
(b) no indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks;
(c) all necessary precautions, including in choice of means and methods of attack, to minimize harm to civilians;
(d) no attack on the infrastructure even if used for military purposes, if the incidental short-term and long-term consequences for civilians would be disproportionate to the concrete and direct military advantage sought in the specific attack;
(e) no attack on media outlets solely because they are being used for propaganda purposes;
(f)  no attack on other civilian objects even if their destruction is deemed by the attacker to be likely to lessen the will of the enemy to fight; and
(g) humane treatment for all those not directly participating in hostilities, including fighters who have been captured, injured or have surrendered. Read More