Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Malcolm X killer freed after 44 years

    7:02 AM   No comments

By Wayne Drash, CNN

  • NEW: Thomas Hagan walks out of Lincoln Correctional Facility at 11 a.m.
  • Hagan set free a day earlier than expected; he's the only confessed killer of Malcolm X
  • Hagan, 69, has been in a work-release program the past two decades
  • Hagan told parole board he killed Malcolm X over his split with Nation of Islam

(CNN) -- Thomas Hagan, the only man who admitted his role in the 1965 assassination of iconic black leader Malcolm X, was paroled Tuesday.

Hagan was freed a day earlier than planned because his paperwork was processed more quickly than anticipated, according to the New York State Department of Correctional Services.

Hagan, 69, walked out of the minimum-security Lincoln Correctional Facility at 11 a.m. The facility is located at the intersection of West 110th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard.

Hagan had been in a full-time work-release program since March 1992 that allowed him to live at home with his family in Brooklyn five days a week while reporting to the prison just two days.

Last month, Hagan pleaded his case for freedom: To return to his family, to become a substance abuse counselor and to make his mark on what time he has left in this world.

He was dressed in prison greens as he addressed the parole board. He had been before that body 14 other times since 1984. Each time, he was rejected.

Hagan was no ordinary prisoner. He is the only man to have confessed in the killing of Malcolm X, who was gunned down while giving a speech in New York's Audubon Ballroom in 1965.

"I have deep regrets about my participation in that," he told the parole board on March 3, according to a transcript. "I don't think it should ever have happened."

Hagan had been sentenced to 20 years to life imprisonment after being found guilty at trial with two others in 1966. The other two men were released in the 1980s and have long denied involvement in the killing.

To win his release, Hagan was required to seek, obtain and maintain a job, support his children and abide by a curfew. He must continue to meet those conditions while free. He told the parole board he's worked the same job for the past seven years. He told the New York Post in 2008 he was working at a fast-food restaurant.

A parole officer checked on him while outside prison, and he had to undergo random drug tests.

CNN was unable to reach Hagan for a comment about his release. The Nation of Islam declined comment for this story.

Malcolm X is best known as the fiery leader of the Nation of Islam who denounced whites as "blue-eyed devils." But at the end of his life, Malcolm X changed his views toward whites and discarded the Nation of Islam's ideology in favor of orthodox Islam. In doing so, he feared for his own life from within the Nation.

Malcolm X remains a symbol of inspiration for black men, in particular, who are moved by his transformation from a street hustler to a man the late African-American actor Ossie Davis eulogized as "our own black shining prince."

The ballroom where he was killed has now been converted into The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Board Chairman Zead Ramadan said the center doesn't have a position on Hagan's release.

"I personally find it strange that for a couple decades any person convicted in the assassination of such an iconic figure would be allowed such leniency," Ramadan said.

There's outrage among some African-Americans, he said, that he's being released. Would he be set free if he had killed an iconic white leader?

"It's really a struggle for Muslims to contemplate this issue, because our faith and our religion is full of examples where we have to exert mercy," he added. "The Malcolm X story has not ended. His populuarity has grown in death. ... Only God knows why this was allowed to happen."

The center is preparing for a special service next month to celebrate what would have been Malcolm X's 85th birthday. Would the center welcome Hagan if he asked to attend?

"We'd cross that bridge if he called us," Ramadan said, "Think about that: How far-fetched is it that he could meet one of the daughters of Malcolm X? And what's going to happen then? Mercy, fury, anger, emotions -- who knows?"

Killed in front of his family

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X took to the stage of the Audubon Ballroom, a site often used for civic meetings. His wife, Betty Shabazz, and four children were in the crowd.

"I heard several shots in succession," his wife later told a Manhattan grand jury. "I got on the floor, and I pushed my children under the seat and protected them with my body."

Gunshots continued to ring out, she said. Her husband's body was riddled with bullets. The native of Omaha, Nebraska, was 39.

"Minister Malcolm was slaughtered like a dog in front of his family," A. Peter Bailey, one of Malcolm X's closest aides, told The New York Times on the 40th anniversary of the killing.

The assassination came after a public feud between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam's founder, Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm X had accused Muhammad of infidelity and left the Nation in March 1964.

"For the next 11 months, there was a pattern of harassment, vilification and even on occasion literally pursuit in the streets of Malcolm by people associated with the Nation," said Claude Andrew Clegg III, author of a biography on Elijah Muhammad called An Original Man.

"Malcolm felt that if Elijah Muhammad snapped his fingers, then he could stop the escalation of the violent tone around the split of the two men. And I think there's some truth to that."

Over the years, the killing of Malcolm X has been the subject of much debate, with conspiracy theories involving the Nation of Islam and others. The Nation of Islam has repeatedly denied any involvement in Malcolm X's assassination.

On a deadly mission

Hagan, then known by the name Talmadge X Hayer, was in his early 20s and a radical member of the Nation of Islam the day he entered the ballroom armed and ready to kill. His allegiance was to the Nation's founder, and he was outraged Malcolm X had broken from its ranks.

After the shooting, Hagan tried to flee the scene but he was shot in the leg. He was beaten by the crowd before being arrested outside.

Last month, he told the parole board he felt the urge to kill Malcolm X because of his inflammatory comments about the Nation's founder.

"It stemmed from a break off and confusion in the leadership," Hagan said. "Malcolm X broke with the Nation of Islam, separated from the Nation of Islam, and in doing so there was controversy as to some of the statements he was making about the leader."

He added, "History has revealed a lot of what Malcolm X was saying was true."

Two other men, Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Kahlil Islam, were also found guilty of murder in 1966 and received 20 years to life. Both proclaimed their innocence. Hagan, who eventually admitted his part in the murder, testified at trial and subsequent parole hearings that both men were innocent. Aziz was paroled in 1985; Islam was freed in 1987.

At last month's parole hearing, Hagan again maintained that Aziz and Islam were not the other assassins. He said it was two other men who helped plot, plan and participate in the killing.

Did they receive orders from the Nation to carry out the killing?

"I can't say that anyone in the Nation of Islam gave us the idea or instructed us to do it. We did this ourselves for the most part, yes," Hagan told the parole board.

Hagan said he received a master's degree in sociology while incarcerated and that helped him deal with his actions from 45 years ago.

"I understand a lot better the dynamics of movements and what can happen inside movements and conflicts that can come up, but I have deep regrets about my participation in that."

He added, "Unfortunately, I didn't have an in-depth understanding of what was really going on myself to let myself be involved in anything like that. ... I can't really describe my remiss and my remorse for my actions -- basically a very young man, a very uneducated man. "

He is still a Muslim but no longer a member of the Nation of Islam. He volunteers at a mosque to help young men. He told the parole board he hopes to become a qualified substance abuse counselor.

His primary mission is to help his four children, ages 21, 17, 14 and 10. He has two other grown children.

"My focus is to maintain my family and to try to make things a little better for them. It's upward mobility, and to encourage my children to complete their education because it's a must."

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

المرزوقي "متشائل" للتغيير عربيا

    1:12 PM   No comments
المرزوقي "متشائل" للتغيير عربيا
منصف المرزوقي حذر من إضافة الإسلاميين لبعد رابع في الفشل (الجزيرة نت)
عقبة الأحمد -الدوحة
رسم المفكر التونسي منصف المرزوقي صورة "متشائلة" للتغيير والإصلاح في العالم العربي كما يحلو له أن يسميها وهي حالة تجمع بين التشاؤم والتفاؤل.
وحذر في ندوة عقدتها الجزيرة نت عن (التغيير والإصلاح في الوطن العربي – تونس نموذجا) من كارثة وانفجار بركاني شعبي للأوضاع لا يعرف متى سينفجر، لكنه في نفس الوقت أشار إلى أن هذا الحراك قد يؤدي إلى الانفراج وإلى الانفتاح.
وعدد المرزوقي -الذي وصف نفسه بأنه عروبي ديمقراطي علماني- ثلاث مراحل فاشلة لمحاولة تغيير النظام السياسي في تونس، أولها فرض الإصلاحات والتغيير من داخل النظام في حقبة الثمانينيات حيث تقلد الرئيس زين العابدين بن علي مقاليد السلطة من الحبيب بورقيبة.
لكن هذه المحاولة تكللت بالفشل بعدما استوعب النظام أعضاء من الرابطة التونسية للدفاع عن حقوق الإنسان الذي تولى رئاستها في وقت لاحق، وأشار المرزوقي في هذا السياق إلى أن رئيس الرابطة حينها محمد الشرفي برر أعمال القمع والتصفية التي أصابت الإسلاميين.
أما المرحلة الثانية فكانت الدفع بالإصلاحات من الخارج بالضغط على النظام عبر الحكومات الغربية لفرض الديمقراطية وحقوق الإنسان في البلاد، بيد أن هجمات 11 سبتمبر/ أيلول –وفق المفكر التونسي- جاءت لتفشلها.
وتمثلت المرحلة الثالثة –طبقا للمرزوقي- بفرض التغيير بقوة الشارع وانبثقت عنه فكرة المقاومة المدنية، مدفوعة بما تتعرض له الشعوب من القمع ناهيك عن الفساد والإفساد، والإحباط بيد أن الغزو الأميركي للعراق عام 2003 أفشل المرحلة الثالثة للتغيير.
ورغم ذلك فإن الحراك الشعبي هو الأقرب للتغيير والإصلاح السياسي في الدول العربية، حيث أعرب المعارض التونسي عن عدم اعتقاده أن العملية ستطول بسبب التراكمات، مستشهدا بالحراك الشعبي في كل من اليمن ومصر، معتبرا تحرك الشارع بركانا لا يعرف متى سينفجر.
وبين في هذا السياق أن ما يحدث في مصر على سبيل المثال له أثر في العالم العربي، فإذا سقط النظام في مصر سيؤثر ذلك على بقية الدول واصفا ما يحدث بأنه لعبة دومينو.
وفي ظل عدم وجود قوة معارضة –وفق المرزوقي- تقود التغيير من الشارع وتوجهه، وخوف الأنظمة العربية ورعبها، فإن عملية التغيير إن حصلت في هذه الأجواء ستكون "دموية"، مستشهدا بتصريحات نائب مصري مؤخرا عن إطلاق الرصاص على المتظاهرين.

منصف المرزوقي:
المقايضة تكون بعدم المحاسبة مقابل عدم إراقة الدماء

"الحياة أهم من العدل"
ولتلافي هذا السيناريو فتح المفكر التونسي نافذة تتمثل باستعداد القوى الديمقراطية للتفاوض مع الأنظمة "المستبدة".
ودعا النخب السياسية والمثقفة والمفكرة إلى التوجه للدولة بدلا من النظام في جهودها للتغيير، مشيرا إلى أن النظام ألف شخص بينما الدولة (مؤسسات الدولة) فيها 350 ألف شخص، ودعوة هؤلاء إلى تحمل مسؤولياتهم في منع القتل والقمع.
كما دعا إلى طمأنة النظام والدولة بالقول إن الحياة أهم من العدل، بحيث تكون المقايضة "عدم محاسبة مقابل عدم إراقة دماء".
ولا يعول المرزوقي كثيرا على العامل الخارجي في التغيير السلمي، خاصة من جانب خمس دول غربية هي الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا وفرنسا وإيطاليا وإسبانيا، لكنه دعا إلى بدائل جماهيرية وتحرك تجاه المنظمات الغربية وشعوب تلك الدول للضغط على حكوماتها ليكفوا عن دعم "وكلائهم".
"الفشل الرابع"
وحذر المفكر التونسي مما أسماه الفشل الرابع للحكم في البلاد العربية متمثلا بالإسلاميين على حد تعبيره، مشيرا إلى أن الوطن العربي شهد ثلاث مراحل حكم فاشلة هي "الوطني، والاشتراكي والقومي"، مشيرا إلى أن المشترك في هذه الأنظمة جبة "منظومة استبدادية" تضعها على الهيكل.
ورغم ذلك أعرب عن تفاؤله لوجود جزء من الحركة الإسلامية يشدد على أن لا يكون الإسلاميون "الفشل الرابع"، ويحاول هذا الجزء تخطي ذلك، بفتح الباب للنقاش في إطار التعددية الوطنية وقطع الصلة بالاستبداد.
وأوضح أن بدائل الجماهير تتمثل في بناء ما وصفه بتحالف تاريخي بين الشق المعتدل من الديمقراطيين والشق المعتدل من الإسلاميين بعيدا عن الأيديولوجية.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

واقع حقوق الإنسان بالعالم العربي

    6:02 AM   No comments
واقع حقوق الإنسان بالعالم العربي
إحدى جلسات مؤتمر حقوق الإنسان بجامعة الجنان اللبنانية (الجزيرة نت)

نقولا طعمة-طرابلس

تكثر المؤتمرات التي تتناول حقوق الإنسان في العالم العربي، وتتواتر، ويدور كثير من الكلام عن حقوق الإنسان، لكن التساؤل يتعلق بمدى تطبيق نظريات حقوق الإنسان على الواقع.

ويضاف إلى ذلك مدى قدرة المؤتمرات والهيئات الناشئة للدعوة لحقوق الإنسان على تطبيق شعاراتها، ونسبة ما تنادي به مقارنة مع ما يتحقق منه.
لا يختلف "المؤتمر الإقليمي حول الاتفاقيات الدولية لحقوق الإنسان وآليات المراقبة" الذي عقد مؤخرا في جامعة الجنان اللبنانية بالتعاون مع المفوضية السامية لحقوق الإنسان في الأمم المتحدة عن سواه.

فقد تناول المؤتمر العديد من الموضوعات منها "الاستعراض الدوري الشامل أمام مجلس حقوق الإنسان"، و"الآليات الإقليمية لحماية حقوق الإنسان"، و"الإجراءات الخاصة في إطار مجلس حقوق الإنسان"، إلى موضوعات موازية متعلقة بالعراق وفلسطين وتركيا واليمن وسواها.

وقالت مديرة مركز حقوق الإنسان في جامعة الجنان الدكتورة لينا طبال إن المؤتمر تناول الاتفاقيات الدولية على المستوى الدولي وعلى مستوى الدول من الداخل، وما هي الآليات التي يلجأ إليها الأفراد والمجموعات لتطبيق الاتفاقيات.

وأوضحت في حديثها للجزيرة نت أنه المؤتمر العاشر الذي تنظمه الجامعة منذ تأسيس المركز منذ عشر سنوات، وصولا إلى تأسيس قسم أكاديمي لتدريس حقوق الإنسان بدرجة "ماستر".
عماد الزهيري: الاحتلال هو الانتهاك الأبشع لحقوق الإنسان (الجزيرة نت)

هل تحقق هذه المؤتمرات والدعوات مبتغاها؟ وإلى أي مدى؟ أسئلة أجاب عنها بعض المشاركين في المؤتمر.
عماد الزهيري نائب المندوب الدائم لفلسطين لدى الأمم المتحدة في جنيف قال للجزيرة نت، ردا على سؤال "لا تزال حقوق الإنسان الفلسطيني منتهكة بأبشع صورها، فالاحتلال هو الانتهاك الأبشع لحقوق الإنسان".

وأضاف "من أبرز الحقوق المنتهكة للفلسطيني حقه الأساسي في الحياة وتقرير المصير وأن تكون له دولة وحقه في العودة لدياره.. كلها حقوق كفلتها الشرعية الدولية والقانون الدولي والعديد من الاتفاقيات خصوصا اتفاقية جنيف الرابعة".

وأكد أن الإشكال القائم هو عدم انصياع وامتثال قوى الاحتلال للقرارات الصادرة عن الشرعية الدولية بما فيها القرارات والتوصيات الصادرة عن مجلس حقوق الإنسان والآليات التعددية وحاملي الولايات الخاصة بمن فيهم المقرر الخاص بانتهاكات حقوق الإنسان في فلسطين المحتلة منذ العام ١٩٦٧.

وأشار إلى أن "هناك العديد من القرارات تأخذ طريقها إلى التنفيذ، لكن هناك الكثير غير قابل للتنفيذ".
مفهوم جديد
من جهته قال سفير العراق في لبنان عمر البرزنجي للجزيرة نت إن "مفهوم حقوق الإنسان في العراق شيء جديد، فحتى العام ٢٠٠٣ لم يكن للعراقي أي حقوق، وكان العراقيون يقتلون بالجملة دون من يسمع أو يرى تحت ظلال التكتم الإعلامي".

وأضاف أن "المشكلة الكبيرة في العراق هي مع الإرهاب الذي لا يعرف شيئا عن حقوق الإنسان، ويتسبب بقتل الآلاف بطريقة بشعة في الشوارع والطرق، ما يرتب على السلطات القيام بتدابير وترتيبات قضائية، وأبرز ما يحتاجه العراق هو التخلص من هذا التطرف الذي يجلب القتل بالجملة".

وعن حقوق الإنسان في ظل وجود الجيوش الأجنبية قال "هي في نهاية وجودها في العراق، ودخولها لم يكن بإرادة الشعب العراقي، لكن النظام السابق فرضه علينا كما تفرض عملية جراحية على شخص ما".
وقال "لا أحد يتمنى أن يجري عملية جراحية، ولكن عندما يكون الخيار بين أن يموت أو تجرى له هذه العملية، يختار العملية رغم الأذى الذي يمكن أن تلحقه به".

عثمان الحجة: الحرية هي أبرز الحقوق المنتهكة في العالم العربي (الجزيرة نت)
انتهاك الحرية

بدوره اعتبر عضو مجموعة العمل المعنية بالاختفاء القسري في الأمم المتحدة عثمان الحجة في حديثه مع الجزيرة نت أن "أبرز مواضيع حقوق الإنسان المنتهكة في العالم العربي هي الحرية".

وأضاف أن الأساس هو الحريات وعن طريقها تتوافر حقوق الإنسان. ويجب أن تتوافر الحرية في العالم العربي لكي يتمكن المجتمع من التحرك والتواصل مع المسؤولين الذين يحتاجون للمجتمع المدني ليعرفهم على مشكلات مجتمعهم.

وأكد أن "المخابرات والأجهزة الأمنية لا تكفي وحدها لإيصال المشكلات للسلطات، كما تقتضي الحريات السماح بتشجيع المجتمع المدني على تشكيل الجمعيات والمساعدة على قيام هذه الجمعيات بأدوارها".

وعما حققته برامج حقوق الإنسان، قال إن المجتمع المدني استطاع اعتماد "الميثاق العربي لحقوق الإنسان"، ويجب تحسينه وتفعيله وإيجاد آليات للمراقبة. أما أبرز ما يتراكم من قضايا أمام الميثاق فهي الفقر والعنف ضد المرأة والسكن الملائم وحرية التنقل واستقلالية السلطة القضائية.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Obama Speech Signals a U.S. Shift on Middle East

    8:03 AM   No comments

WASHINGTON — It was just a phrase at the end of President Obama’s news conference on Tuesday, but it was a stark reminder of a far-reaching shift in how the United States views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how aggressively it might push for a peace agreement.

When Mr. Obama declared that resolving the long-running Middle East dispute was a “vital national security interest of the United States,” he was highlighting a change that has resulted from a lengthy debate among his top officials over how best to balance support for Israel against other American interests.

This shift, described by administration officials who did not want to be quoted by name when discussing internal discussions, is driving the White House’s urgency to help broker a Middle East peace deal. It increases the likelihood that Mr. Obama, frustrated by the inability of the Israelis and the Palestinians to come to terms, will offer his own proposed parameters for an eventual Palestinian state.

Mr. Obama said conflicts like the one in the Middle East ended up “costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure” — drawing an explicit link between the Israeli-Palestinian strife and the safety of American soldiers as they battle Islamic extremism and terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Mr. Obama’s words reverberated through diplomatic circles in large part because they echoed those of Gen. David H. Petraeus, the military commander overseeing America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recent Congressional testimony, the general said that the lack of progress in the Middle East created a hostile environment for the United States. He has denied reports that he was suggesting that soldiers were being put in harm’s way by American support for Israel.

But the impasse in negotiations “does create an environment,” he said Tuesday in a speech in Washington. “It does contribute, if you will, to the overall environment within which we operate.”

The glimmers of daylight between United States and Israeli interests began during President George W. Bush’s administration, when the United States became mired in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Three years ago, Condoleezza Rice, then secretary of state, declared during a speech in Jerusalem that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians was a “strategic interest” of the United States. In comments that drew little notice at the time, she said, “The prolonged experience of deprivation and humiliation can radicalize even normal people.”

But President Bush shied away from challenging Israeli governments.

The Obama administration’s new thinking, and the tougher policies toward Israel that could flow from it, has alarmed American Jewish leaders accustomed to the Bush administration’s steadfast support. They are not used to seeing issues like Jewish housing in the West Bank or East Jerusalem linked, even by implication, to the security of American soldiers. Some fret that it raises questions about the centrality of the American alliance with Israel, which the administration flatly denies.

“In the past, the problem of who drinks out of whose well in Nablus has not been a strategic interest of the United States,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former United States ambassador to Israel and the vice president and the director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. He said there was an interest now because of the tens of thousands of troops fighting Islamist insurgencies abroad at the same time that the United States was trying to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“Will resolving the Palestinian issue solve everything?” Mr. Indyk said. “No. But will it help us get there? Yes.”

The administration’s immediate priority, officials said, is jump-starting indirect talks between Israelis and Palestinians. There is still a vigorous debate inside the administration about what to do if such talks were to go nowhere, which experts said is the likeliest result, given the history of such negotiations. Some officials, like Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, advocate putting forward an American peace plan, while others, like the longtime Middle East peace negotiator Dennis B. Ross, who now works in the National Security Council, favor a more incremental approach.

Last week, National Security Council officials met with outside Middle East experts to discuss the Arab Israeli conflict. Two weeks before, General Jones and Mr. Obama met with several national security advisers from previous administrations and discussed putting forward an American proposal, even though it would put pressure on both Israel and the Palestinians.

Several officials point out that Mr. Obama has now seized control of Middle East policy himself, particularly since the controversy several weeks ago when Israeli authorities announced new Jewish housing units in Jerusalem during a visit to Israel by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Obama, incensed by that snub, has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a list of demands, and relations between the United States and Israel have fallen into a chilly standoff.

“The president is re-evaluating the tactics his administration is employing toward Israel and the entire Middle East,” said Robert Wexler, a former Democratic congressman who resigned in January to lead the Center for Middle East Peace, a Washington-based nonprofit institution that is working for a peace agreement.

“I don’t think that anybody believes American lives are endangered or materially affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Mr. Wexler, who has close ties to administration officials. “That’s an oversimplification. However, you’d have to have blinders on not to recognize that there are issues in one arena that affect other arenas.”

For their part, administration officials insist that their support for Israel is unwavering. They point to intensive cooperation between the American and Israeli militaries, which they say has allowed Israel to retain a military edge over its neighbors.

The sense of urgency in Washington comes just as many Israelis have become disillusioned with the whole idea of resolving the conflict. Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government has long been skeptical about the benefits of a peace deal with the Palestinians. But skepticism has taken root in the Israeli public as well, particularly after Israel saw little benefit from its traumatic withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

Among American Jewish groups, there is less skepticism than alarm about the administration’s new direction. On Tuesday, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, publicized letters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, signed by 76 senators and 333 House members, that implored the administration to defuse tensions.

In an open letter to Mr. Obama from the World Jewish Congress, the organization’s president, Ronald S. Lauder, asked, “Why does the thrust of this administration’s Middle East rhetoric seem to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks?”

Mr. Lauder, who said the letter was scheduled to be published Thursday as an advertisement in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, said he discussed the letter with Mr. Netanyahu and received his support before taking out the ad.
Source: NYT

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Video shows US army shooting people, reporter in Iraq

    5:37 AM   No comments
A secret video was posted in which a US helicopter crew is shooting and killing a Reuters photographer and driver in a July 2007 attack in Baghdad.
Wikileaks, a website that publishes anonymously submitted documents, video and other sensitive materials, has posted a secret video in which a US helicopter crew is shooting and killing a Reuters photographer and driver in a July 2007 attack in Baghdad.

WikiLeaks said, it has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff.

In the recording, the helicopter crew can be heard discussing the scene on the street below, where one American claims to have spotted six people with AK-47s and one with a rocket-propelled grenade. Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, can be seen with a camera and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, talking on his mobile phone.

"The gathering at the corner that is fired up on has about nine people in it," Julian Assange, a WikiLeaks spokesman, told reporters at the National Press Club.

One of the helicopter crew is then heard saying that one of the group is shooting, but the video shows there is no shooting or even a pointing of weapons.

The pilots believe them to be insurgents, and mistake Noor-Eldeen's camera for a weapon.

"Look at those dead bastards," The New York Times quoted one pilot, as saying.

"Nice," the other responds.

A wounded man can be seen crawling on the street. Couple of minutes later, the pilots open fire at a van, which had came to pick up the injured, wounding two children inside.

"Well, it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle," one pilot said.

Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack, the report said. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.

The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured.

After demands by Reuters, the incident was investigated and the U.S. military concluded that the actions of the soldiers were "in accordance with the law of armed conflict" and its own "Rules of Engagement".

WikiLeaks said it "obtained this video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers." WikiLeaks says goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives. "We have analyzed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident," the reports said.

As many as 139 journalists, nearly 120 of them Iraqis, have been killed during the 7-year-old invasion, according to the Committee To Protect Journalists.

Read original story here:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sadrists shun Iraq front-runners

    9:48 AM   No comments

Al-Jaafari was Iraq's prime minister 2005-2006 and won 24% of the Sadrists referendum [AFP]

Followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, an influential Shia leader of Iraq, have chosen Ibrahim al-Jaafari as their preferred candidate to become the country's next prime minister.

Results from last week's referendum that the Sadrists held showed al-Jaafari, a former prime minister, ahead of other front runners like Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent PM, and Iyad Allawi, another ex-premier.

According to results obtained by Al Jazeera, al-Jaafari won 24 per cent of the vote, while al-Maliki got 10 per cent and Allawi secured nine per cent.

Jafaar al-Sadr, a cousin of the Shia leader who was on the ballot, secured 23 per cent of the 1.8 million ballots cast. Ahmad Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi National Alliance, got nine per cent.

Muqtada al-Sadr told Al Jazeera that he had turned down a recent offer by Daawa party that offered the release of his followers denaited by al-Maliki's government, in return for accepting an alliance with the state of Law coalition.

Al-Sadr sharply criticised al-Maliki and described his government as a failure.

"The new Iraqi government should be based on partnership, not on partisan, ethnic or sectarian bases," al-Sadr said in an interview with Al Jazeera.


Though bereft of any legal authority, the two-day referendum was held after al-Sadr emerged as a kingmaker following Iraq's recently held national elections.

Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Baghdad, said: "They [Sadrists] have made the announcement, their choice is Ibrahim al-Jaafari...

"Sardist movement said they would abide by the choice of the people, which means more political uncertainty."

View Al Jazeera's in depth coverage of the Iraqi election

The referendum results would contribute to more ambiguity to the Iraqi political scene which has been marred by the interpretation of the constitution regarding who should name the prime minister - the bloc which won more votes in the ballots or the one which govern the biggest number of seats in the parliament.

The results were a big disappointment for both Allawi and al-Maliki who wished to win the support of al-Sadr.

Final results in Iraq's March 7 elections gave the Allawi-led Iraqiya coalition just two seats more than State of Law bloc led by al-Maliki.

Shrewd move

The Sadrists won at least 39 seats in the 325-seat parliament making them the largest group within the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), a Shia coalition that placed third in the race.

Although the ballot was nominally open to all Iraqis, the vast majority of voters are likely to have been Sadrist backers.

The referendum was widely seen as a way for the Sadrist bloc, whose 30-something leader has been in Iran for about two years, to avoid giving its backing to al-Maliki.

"With this referendum, the Sadrists have made a shrewd move to put pressure on the other political parties," Hamid Fadhel, a Baghdad University political science professor, said.

"The negotiations with State of Law have stalled and the Sadrists want to push for someone other than Nouri al-Maliki [as premier], armed with popular support.

The Sadrists were key supporters when al-Maliki formed his government in 2006.

But two years later, he turned the security forces on the Mahdi Army, the movement's armed wing, jailing thousands of al-Sadr supporters in a campaign to destroy militias in the southern city of Basra and the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City.

Violent protests engulf Kyrgyzstan

    9:44 AM   No comments
About 5,000 opposition protesters gathered
near Bakiyev's office in Bishkek [AFP]

A nationwide state of emergency has been declared in Kyrgyzstan following violence that erupted during protests staged by opposition supporters.

At least 17 people were killed and more than 140 others injured on Wednesday as protesters clashed with riot police across the country, Larisa Kachibekova, a health ministry official, told the AFP news agency.

At least five of the deaths were reported in the capital, Bishkek, where police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and flash grenades at the crowd.

Clashes between police and anti-government protesters were also reported from several cities in the north.

The worst violence took place in Bishkek, where more than 5,000 protesters seeking the resignation of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the president, gathered near his office.

According to AFP, opposition protesters stormed the Kyrgyz television centre, forcing all the channels off the air.

Situation 'tense'

Al Jazeera's Robin Forestier-Walker, reporting from Kyrgyzstan, said: "In response, armed government forces fired on the crowd of protesters and this is where these deaths occurred.

Clashes between police and protesters spread to several cities in the north [Reuters]

"The situation is very tense; all the thousands of protesters are demanding the release of political prisoners."

Wednesday's unrest came a day after thousands of people in the northwest town of Talas stormed regional government offices.

The protesters broke into a government building where they briefly took hostage Bolotbek Beishenbekov, the local administrator.

Hundreds of demonstrators then gathered around a local police station and threw Molotov cocktails at portraits of Bakiyev.

Opposition leaders had called for nationwide protests on Wednesday.

Omurbek Tekebayev, the leader of opposition party Ata-Meken, said the protest in Talas was part of a wave of rallies planned by the opposition to put pressure on Bakiyev to meet their demands.

Growing tensions

Tekebayev demanded that Bakiyev urgently tackle corruption and fire his relatives from senior government positions.

The unrest comes amid rising tensions between the opposition and Bakiyev's government, which they accuse of cracking down on independent media and fostering corruption.

Bruce Pannier, a journalist and Kyrgyzstan expert with Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty in Prague, said the president promised to reform the country when he came into office five years ago.

"[But] his fight against corruption hasn't really gone very far in the government," he told Al Jazeera.

"As far as him combating nepotism, the people in Kyrgyzstan know that he appointed several of his brothers to state positions and that his son is actually running the Kyrgyz economy.

"As far as an independent media, Kyrgyzstan always had a fairly vibrant independent media ... but since the start of 2009, the situation has taken a definite turn for the worst."

Earlier this month, a Kyrgyz court shut an opposition newspaper and banned two newspapers close to the opposition, fining them $111,000 for allegedly insulting Bakiyev.

Bakiyev - who came to power five years ago after street protests led to the country's so-called Tulip Revolution which ousted his predecessor - has grown increasingly unpopular on account of the country's dire economic situation.

Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished ex-Soviet country in Central Asia, has long been considered one of the region's most politically unstable countries.

اعتقال مطالبين بتعديل الدستور بالقاهرة

    9:43 AM   No comments

رجل شرطة مصري بالزي المدني يعتقل أحد أعضاء حركة 6 أبريل (رويترز)

اعتقلت الشرطة المصرية العشرات من نشطاء حركة 6 أبريل بعد مواجهات في وسط العاصمة المصرية إثر دعوتهم إلى مظاهرة للمطالبة بتعديل الدستور ورفع حالة الطوارئ.

وقد نشبت المواجهات بين أعضاء الحركة ورجال الأمن، بعد أن حاول أنصارها التحرك من ميدان التحرير إلى مبنى مجلس الشعب المجاور لإعلان مطالبهم والتي من أهمها تعديل الدستور ورفع حالة الطوارئ المفروضة منذ عام 1981.

وقال مراسل الجزيرة سمير عمر إن أجهزة الأمن أكدت "عدم شرعية" المظاهرة التي دعت فيها الحركة جميع القوى السياسية للمطالبة بإلغاء قانون الطوارئ المعمول به، وبإجراء إصلاحات سياسية ودستورية في البلاد.
وأكدت الأجهزة الأمنية أن المتظاهرين لم يحصلوا على أي تصريح قانوني.

وحركة 6 أبريل هي حركة شبابية يتواصل أفرادها أساسا عبر الإنترنت، وقد ظهرت إلى الوجود إثر مظاهرات مطلبية نظمها عمال مصانع مدينة المحلة الكبرى في 6 أبريل عام 2008 وووجهت بقمع الشرطة.

غير أن 6 أبريل ما لبثت أن تحولت إلى حركة سياسية تطالب بالإصلاح، وتدعمها بعض أحزاب المعارضة.

وقال مدير مكتب الجزيرة في القاهرة إن رجال الأمن اعتقلوا ما بين سبعين ومائة من أنصار الحركة أثناء محاولتهم الانتقال إلى منطقة ميدان التحرير، مضيفا أن زملاءهم في بعض الجامعات بأرجاء مصر وبينها جامعة أسيوط تظاهروا داخل الحرم الجامعي.

رجال شرطة سرية يعتقلون شابا من المطالبين بتعديل الدستور (الفرنسية)
وأشار مدير المكتب إلى أن قوى الأمن في الإسكندرية ألقت القبض على أنصار الحركة قبل تجمهرهم.

وكانت قوات الأمن المصرية قد نشرت أعدادا كبيرة من رجال الشرطة والشرطة السرية في ميدان التحرير ومنطقة مجلسي الشعب والشورى حتى دار الأوبرا. كما شددت الحراسة على منافذ مترو الأنفاق.

وقالت وكالة أسوشيتد برس إن رجال أمن بالزي المدني اعتقلوا عددا من المحتجين من وسط الحشد، وألقوا بهم في مركبات كانت تنتظر جانبا.
مصادرة الأشرطة
وفي تطور ذي صلة، صادر رجال الأمن أشرطة تصوير من فريق الجزيرة أثناء نقله وقائع المظاهرة، كما صودرت كاميرات عدد من المصورين الصحفيين.
كما تم الاعتداء على مصور لوكالة رويترز وآخر يعمل لصالح وكالة أميركية، حسبما أفاد مراسل الجزيرة.

كما منعت الشرطة أنصار المعارض أيمن نور من الانضمام إلى نشطاء حركة 6 أبريل في ميدان التحرير بوسط القاهرة.

واعتبر نور أن الوجود الأمني الكثيف لمواجهة الراغبين بالتظاهر "يسيء إلى صورة مصر" مشيرا إلى أن مئات الجنود يمنعون بضع عشرات من المواطنين من التعبير عن مطالبتهم بتغيير الدستور.

نور يؤكد أنه سيدخل في منافسة مع مبارك مجددا العام المقبل (الفرنسية)
وحاول نور- الذي ترشح للرئاسة مقابل الرئيس حسني مبارك عام 2005- أن ينتقل من مكتبه في وسط القاهرة للانضمام إلى الراغبين بالتظاهر لكن الشرطة المصرية أوقفته واعتقلت عددا من أنصاره.
اعتزال مبارك
وكان نور قد طالب أمس خلال مؤتمر صحفي عقده بمقر حزب الغد، الرئيس المصري حسني مبارك بترك منصبه واعتزال الحياة السياسية.

وجدد المعارض المصري البارز تأكيده أنه سيخوض الانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة عام 2011.

وقال إنه يعتزم خوض الانتخابات الرئاسية بنائبين للرئيس أحدهما سيدة قبطية ، مؤكدا أنه سيعلن في 6 أبريل/ نيسان 2011، وقبيل الانتخابات الرئاسية بشهور، تشكيل حكومة ظل ائتلافية.

وأكد نور أن لديه تحركات قانونية لمواجهة منعه من الترشح، مشددا على أن "النص الذي يستندون اليه لمنعي من الترشح صدر عام 1937، وقد أصدرت المحكمة الدستورية العليا أربعة أحكام سابقة بعدم دستورية بعض فقراته".
المصدر:الجزيرة + وكالات

معارضة قرغيزستان تحتل مباني حكومية

    9:42 AM   No comments
عشرات القتلى والجرحى باشتباكات مع الشرطة

المعارضة سيطرت على البرلمان والتلفزيون وحاصرت القصر الرئاسي (الأوروبية)

سيطر أنصار المعارضة في قرغيزستان على مبنى البرلمان ومبنى الادعاء العام ومبنى التلفزيون في العاصمة بشكيك، وحاصروا القصر الرئاسي وقطعوا الطريق المؤدية إلى مطار المدينة، كما سيطروا على عدة مدن رئيسية، في حين قتل وجرح العشرات في مواجهة مع الشرطة وأعلنت الحكومة حالة الطوارئ في مناطق من البلاد.

وقال مراسل الجزيرة زاور شوج إن السلطات القرغيزية على ما يبدو فقدت السيطرة على الشارع، مؤكدا أن الاشتباكات بين المتظاهرين وقوات الأمن متواصلة، وأن هناك توقعات بأن يتدخل الجيش بالأسلحة الثقيلة في محاولة للسيطرة على الوضع.

وقد اندلعت النيران في مبنى الادعاء العام، ووقعت مواجهات بين آلاف المتظاهرين وقوات الشرطة التي أطلقت النار باتجاههم، مما أسفر عن مقتل 17 شخصا على الأقل وجرح نحو مائتين.

وتتهم المعارضة رئيس البلاد كورمان بك باكييف بتقييد الحريات وبالفساد، وتطالبه بالاستقالة، وقالت إنها تعتزم تنظيم مزيد من التجمعات الحاشدة.

الشرطة اشتبكت مع المتظاهرين في العاصمة بشكيك (الأوروبية)
حالة طوارئ
وكان متظاهرون معادون لباكييف قد اقتحموا مبنى حكوميا في مدينة طالاس يوم أمس واحتجزوا حاكما إقليميا رهينة لعدة ساعات، وأسفرت المواجهات مع قوات الأمن هناك عن جرح 24 شخصا.

وفي السياق نفسه قال متحدث باسم رئيس قرغيزستان إنه أعلن حالة الطوارئ في العاصمة وثلاث مناطق أخرى بعد الاشتباكات.

وأوضح أن حالة الطوارئ -التي ستطبق في بلدتي تارين وطالاس ومنطقة تشويسكايا- ستشمل حظرا للتجول من الساعة العاشرة مساء إلى الساعة السادسة صباحا بالتوقيت المحلي.

وتشهد قرغيزستان قلاقل سياسية منذ أوائل مارس/آذار، بعد تزايد الاحتجاج ضد حكم باكييف الذي بدأ قبل خمس سنوات.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms

    7:42 AM   No comments
Source: NYT
WASHINGTON — President Obama said Monday that he was revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow the conditions under which the United States would use nuclear weapons.

But the president said in an interview that he was carving out an exception for “outliers like Iran and North Korea” that have violated or renounced the main treaty to halt nuclear proliferation.

Discussing his approach to nuclear security the day before formally releasing his new strategy, Mr. Obama described his policy as part of a broader effort to edge the world toward making nuclear weapons obsolete, and to create incentives for countries to give up any nuclear ambitions. To set an example, the new strategy renounces the development of any new nuclear weapons, overruling the initial position of his own defense secretary.

Mr. Obama’s strategy is a sharp shift from those of his predecessors and seeks to revamp the nation’s nuclear posture for a new age in which rogue states and terrorist organizations are greater threats than traditional powers like Russia and China.

It eliminates much of the ambiguity that has deliberately existed in American nuclear policy since the opening days of the cold war. For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.

Those threats, Mr. Obama argued, could be deterred with “a series of graded options,” a combination of old and new conventional weapons. “I’m going to preserve all the tools that are necessary in order to make sure that the American people are safe and secure,” he said in the interview in the Oval Office.

White House officials said the new strategy would include the option of reconsidering the use of nuclear retaliation against a biological attack, if the development of such weapons reached a level that made the United States vulnerable to a devastating strike.

Mr. Obama’s new strategy is bound to be controversial, both among conservatives who have warned against diluting the United States’ most potent deterrent and among liberals who were hoping for a blanket statement that the country would never be the first to use nuclear weapons.

Mr. Obama argued for a slower course, saying, “We are going to want to make sure that we can continue to move towards less emphasis on nuclear weapons,” and, he added, to “make sure that our conventional weapons capability is an effective deterrent in all but the most extreme circumstances.”

The release of the new strategy, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, opens an intensive nine days of nuclear diplomacy geared toward reducing weapons. Mr. Obama plans to fly to Prague to sign a new arms-control agreement with Russia on Thursday and then next week will host 47 world leaders in Washington for a summit meeting on nuclear security.

The most immediate test of the new strategy is likely to be in dealing with Iran, which has defied the international community by developing a nuclear program that it insists is peaceful but that the United States and its allies say is a precursor to weapons. Asked about the escalating confrontation with Iran, Mr. Obama said he was now convinced that “the current course they’re on would provide them with nuclear weapons capabilities,” though he gave no timeline.

He dodged when asked whether he shared Israel’s view that a “nuclear capable” Iran was as dangerous as one that actually possessed weapons.

“I’m not going to parse that right now,” he said, sitting in his office as children played on the South Lawn of the White House at a daylong Easter egg roll. But he cited the example of North Korea, whose nuclear capabilities were unclear until it conducted a test in 2006, which it followed with a second shortly after Mr. Obama took office.

“I think it’s safe to say that there was a time when North Korea was said to be simply a nuclear-capable state until it kicked out the I.A.E.A. and become a self-professed nuclear state,” he said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency. “And so rather than splitting hairs on this, I think that the international community has a strong sense of what it means to pursue civilian nuclear energy for peaceful purposes versus a weaponizing capability.”

Mr. Obama said he wanted a new United Nations sanctions resolution against Iran “that has bite,” but he would not embrace the phrase “crippling sanctions” once used by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. And he acknowledged the limitations of United Nations action. “We’re not naïve that any single set of sanctions automatically is going to change Iranian behavior,” he said, adding “there’s no light switch in this process.”

In the year since Mr. Obama gave a speech in Prague declaring that he would shift the policy of the United States toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, his staff has been meeting — and arguing — over how to turn that commitment into a workable policy, without undermining the credibility of the country’s nuclear deterrent.

The strategy to be released on Tuesday is months late, partly because Mr. Obama had to adjudicate among advisers who feared he was not changing American policy significantly enough, and those who feared that anything too precipitous could embolden potential adversaries. One senior official said that the new strategy was the product of 150 meetings, including 30 convened by the White House National Security Council, and that even then Mr. Obama had to step in to order rewrites.

He ended up with a document that differed considerably from the one President George W. Bush published in early 2002, just three months after the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. Bush, too, argued for a post-cold-war rethinking of nuclear deterrence, reducing American reliance on those weapons.

But Mr. Bush’s document also reserved the right to use nuclear weapons “to deter a wide range of threats,” including banned chemical and biological weapons and large-scale conventional attacks. Mr. Obama’s strategy abandons that option — except if the attack is by a nuclear state, or a nonsignatory or violator of the nonproliferation treaty.

The document to be released Tuesday after months of study led by the Defense Department will declare that “the fundamental role” of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attacks on the United States, allies or partners, a narrower presumption than the past. But Mr. Obama rejected the formulation sought by arms control advocates to declare that the “sole role” of nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack.

There are five declared nuclear states — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. Three states with nuclear weapons have refused to sign — India, Pakistan and Israel — and North Korea renounced the treaty in 2003. Iran remains a signatory, but the United Nations Security Council has repeatedly found it in violation of its obligations, because it has hidden nuclear plants and refused to answer questions about evidence it was working on a warhead.

In shifting the nuclear deterrent toward combating proliferation and the sale or transfer of nuclear material to terrorists or nonnuclear states, Mr. Obama seized on language developed in the last years of the Bush administration. It had warned North Korea that it would be held “fully accountable” for any transfer of weapons or technology. But the next year, North Korea was caught aiding Syria in building a nuclear reactor but suffered no specific consequence.

Mr. Obama was asked whether the American failure to make North Korea pay a heavy price for the aid to Syria undercut Washington’s credibility.

“I don’t think countries around the world are interested in testing our credibility when it comes to these issues,” he said. He said such activity would leave a country vulnerable to a nuclear strike, and added, “We take that very seriously because we think that set of threats present the most serious security challenge to the United States.”

He indicated that he hoped to use this week’s treaty signing with Russia as a stepping stone toward more ambitious reductions in nuclear arsenals down the road, but suggested that would have to extend beyond the old paradigm of Russian-American relations.

“We are going to pursue opportunities for further reductions in our nuclear posture, working in tandem with Russia but also working in tandem with NATO as a whole,” he said.

An obvious such issue would be the estimated 200 tactical nuclear weapons the United States still has stationed in Western Europe. Russia has called for their removal, and there is growing interest among European nations in such a move as well. But Mr. Obama said he wanted to consult with NATO allies before making such a commitment.

The summit meeting that opens next week in Washington will bring together nearly four dozen world leaders, the largest such gathering by an American president since the founding of the United Nations 65 years ago. Mr. Obama said he hoped to use the session to lay down tangible commitments by individual countries toward his goal of securing the world’s nuclear material so it does not fall into the hands of terrorists or dangerous states.

“Our expectation is not that there’s just some vague, gauzy statement about us not wanting to see loose nuclear materials,” he said. “We anticipate a communiqué that spells out very clearly, here’s how we’re going to achieve locking down all the nuclear materials over the next four years.”

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