The village of Bil'in in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which is losing more than half its land due to Israel's "separation barrier," wrote the following letter for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to give to President Bush. On their way to present the letter to Abbas at the Muqata in Ramallah, his troops fired warning shots at the villagers, moderately injuring one of them. Almost daily protests have been held in Bi'lin against the fence for the last three months.
See our last post on Bi'lin.
In recent weeks, we've been following Washington's current regime change offensive, in which the White House is seeking to encourage--and, presumably, co-opt--opposition activists in countries which really are unhappily authoritarian, but (more to the point) insufficiently compliant with US interests. Now there are signs that even Egypt, a top global recipient of US aid, could be next.
Police in Edinburgh are asking for a ban on a major anti-war rally slated for the Scottish capital during the G8 summit meeting, alleging that its organizers have been linked with "violence and disruption." The UK's Stop the War Coalition wants to hold the rally four days before the G8 summit opens the first week of July at the nearby resort of Gleneagles.
On the morning of May 26, a car bomb exploded in Madrid, causing proprty destruction and leaving 50 with mostly minor injuries. Phone calls to media outlets immediately before the explosion warned that it was coming and claimed responsibility in the name of ETA, the armed Basque separatist organization. (Berria, Bilbao, May 26)
Hours later, Arnaldo Otegi, leader of the outlawed Basque separatist party Batasuna and a former member of the Basque regional parliament, was arrested. He is being held in solitary confinement after being charged with belonging to a terrorist organisation and of forming part of the leadership of ETA.
A week after calm started to return to Uzbekistan (see out last blog post), signs of simmering unrest continue, and the geopolitics of the conflict are starting to become clearer... Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline (RFE/RL) reported May 23 that hundreds protested in Korasuv, the border town which had been briefly seized by Islamists in a seemingly spontaneous uprising. The protest was quickly broken by security forces. Arrests of suspected Islamists also continue.
We applaud Human Rights Watch for continuing to document the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan even as it has fallen off the media radar screen. But we question their assumption that Karzai "needs more support from the US," given that it is his own security forces that are doing much of the killing...
Afghanistan: Violence Surges
Karzai Needs More Support from U.S.
(New York, May 24, 2005) -- Afghanistan's security situation has deteriorated significantly in recent weeks, with a spate of political killings, violent protests, and attacks on humanitarian workers, Human Rights Watch said today. The instability comes as President Hamid Karzai visits the United States this week.
The same day Amnesty International released its annual report with unprecedented criticism for the US, comes this chilling release from Human Rights Watch:
Pakistan: US Citizens Tortured, Held Illegally
Human Rights Watch
Tuesday 24 May 2005
FBI participated in interrogations despite apparent knowledge of torture, abduction.
U.S. FBI agents operating in Pakistan repeatedly interrogated and threatened two U.S. citizens of Pakistani origin who were unlawfully detained and subjected to torture by the Pakistani security services, Human Rights Watch said today.
Amnesty International's 2005 annual report, released today, accuses the US government of damaging human rights worldwide with its attitude to torture and treatment of detainees, which granted "a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity." The report criticizes the ongoing lack of a full independent investigation into abuses against detainees in US custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. The report finds US-led coalition forces in Iraq have engaged in "unlawful killings, torture and other violations," while Afghanistan is slipping into a "downward spiral of lawlessness and instability."