The Nine Circles of Hell! for Thursday: This is Brutal
Bangladeshi Islamist leader’s death sentence sparks deadly violence.
Agence France Presse reports, “A wave of violence killed at least 21 people in Bangladesh Thursday as Islamists reacted furiously to a ruling that one of their leaders must hang for war crimes during the 1971 independence conflict.
“At least 17 of them were shot in clashes between police and protesters that erupted after Delwar Hossain Sayedee, the Jamaat-e-Islami party’s vice president, was found guilty of war crimes, including murder, arson and rape.
“He is the third person to be convicted by the much-criticised domestic tribunal whose previous verdicts have also been met with outrage from Islamists who say the process is more about score settling than delivering justice.
“The latest clashes brought the overall death toll to 37 since the first verdict was delivered on January 21.”
Reuters offers some background with, “Security forces had been braced for trouble ahead of the verdict against Sayedee, who reacted to the judgment by saying it had been influenced by ‘atheists’ and pro-government protesters who have been demanding his execution.
“Sayedee, best known in Bangladesh these days as a firebrand preacher, was convicted for setting ablaze 25 houses in a Hindu village and abetting the murders of two people including Hindu man, according to a copy of the verdict.
“He led a pro-Pakistani militia who abducted three Hindu sisters and raped them for three days at a Pakistani camp. He also forced at least 100 Hindus to convert to Islam and made them say Islamic prayers.
“His lawyer Tajul Islam described the verdict as ‘a gross miscarriage of justice,’ adding that Sayedee did not live in the town where the alleged crimes took place.”
I was really hoping we could get through one edition of The Nine Circles of Hell! without the mention of rape. Not that rape shouldn’t be reported. I just wish it wasn’t happening, seemingly, all of the time, especially of late.
Sayedee’s lawyer adds, “It’s a case of mistaken identity. We’re stunned.”
Not everyone’s upset over the court ruling.
Reuters says, “protesters at a central Dhaka intersection erupted in jubilation as news of Sayedee’s sentence filtered through. ‘We’ve been waiting for this day for the last four decades,’ a protester told Somoy TV.
“There was no immediate reaction from Jamaat to the verdict, but the party has enforced a nationwide strike demanding a halt to the trials. The cases against eight more Jamaat leaders are still being heard.
“Earlier this month the tribunal, a local court with no international oversight, sentenced Jamaat’s assistant secretary general Abdul Quader Molla to life imprisonment.
“While angering Jamaat supporters, that verdict also enraged secular protesters, tens of thousands of whom have since poured onto the Shahbag intersection in central Dhaka to demand the execution of Jamaat leaders.”
So now you know where Pakistan’s secularists stand in the debate: they want executions.
Reuters concludes, “The tribunal has been tainted by controversies and allegations it is targeting only the opposition with trumped-up charges. Rights groups say its legal procedures fall short of international standards.
“The government rejects the accusations, saying the trials are needed to heal the wounds of the war that it says killed three million people.
“It accuses Jamaat leaders of being part of pro-Pakistani militias blamed for much of the 1971 carnage.
The government says three million were killed but independent estimates put the figure much lower, between 300,000 and 500,000.”
For ll of you who think that the current Afghan war was ‘the right war,’ did you know that neighboring Pakistan still hadn’t dealt with 1971 yet? Did you know that they are also still in deadly fights with India over Kashmir? Did you know India and Pakistan have been fighting essentially a proxy war in Afghanistan for a very long time? Now that you know all that, what would be your alternative military reaction to 9/11 in Afghanistan?
Fragile peace with Congo allows rebel factions to fight amongst themselves.
According to Reuters, “Heavy fighting broke out between two factions of Congo’s M23 rebels near the eastern town of Goma on Thursday after one side said it sent men to arrest a leader of the other who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“The M23 military commander said earlier that the M23 political coordinator Jean-Marie Runiga had been sacked, underlining infighting likely to undermine regional efforts to end two decades of conflict in central Africa.
“The M23 rebellion is the latest uprising in Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral rich eastern borderlands. Last year the group inflicted a series of defeats on government forces, culminating in the brief seizure of the major town of Goma.
“The emerging power struggle within rebel ranks will further damage efforts to resuscitate peace talks hosted by Uganda and may spur the Kinshasa government to push for a military solution to recurring rebellions in the east.”
Reuters explains, “Eight people were killed in clashes between M23 factions earlier this week.
“In an earlier statement, the M23 military command said Runiga was ousted for stealing money and backing the rebel faction loyal to Bosco Ntaganda, a fighter wanted by the ICC on charges of killing civilians during a previous uprising.”
Who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy?
Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa project director for the International Crisis Group think tank, is quoted saying, “We’ll see who emerges from this the winner.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a good guy and a bad guy, but there’s one who is more manageable, and the other who is wanted by the ICC. It’s another argument for Kinshasa to perhaps go for the military option.”
Reuters gives some context for the uninitiated: “Goma’s seizure in November embarrassed Congo’s government and U.N. peacekeepers deployed to support Kinshasa’s forces.
“U.N. experts accused neighboring Rwanda of backing the rebels. Kigali, which has repeatedly intervened in chaotic Congo’s conflicts since Rwandan Hutu rebels sought refuge in the lawless east after the 1994 genocide, denied the charge.”
A little more background from Reuters: “Hundreds of thousands of people fled last year’s violence, the latest in series of Tutsi-led rebellions whose roots can be traced to the aftermath of Rwanda’s genocide and a cross-border web of ethnic, business and political interests.
“African leaders signed a U.N.-mediated deal on Sunday paving the way for the deployment of military brigades.
“But, having seen numerous other initiatives fail, there is skepticism whether the deal can remove the patchwork of rebel groups and pro-government militias that roam the east.”
When one peace allows another war to break out, is it really peace?
Syria’s war is threatening Lebanese stability.
Reuters tells us, “Lebanon’s interior minister said on Thursday that refugees who have fled from the war in neighboring Syria have become a threat to Lebanon’s security because of the suspicion that many are in fact rebel fighters.
“Residents in northern Lebanon say that rebels pose as refugees to cross the border, and are arming members of the refugee community in Lebanon to fight in Syria. The minister, Marwan Charbel, has said Syrian rebels have set up training camps in Lebanon.
“In addition, members of the rebel Free Syrian Army have used Lebanon’s mountainous terrain to regroup before staging attacks on the Syrian army across the poorly demarcated border.”
Charbel is cited asking, “What is concerning me is the security situation. Who is exploiting (the Syrian refugees)? Who is arming them? We are not controlling them.”
Reuters lays out Lebanon’s concerns, reporting, “Although the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is almost two years old, the flow of refugees is accelerating and the number in Lebanon has doubled in the last three months, to 320,000.
“Beyond the security concerns, popular resentment is building as resources are stretched and jobs are being taken.
“Lebanon, a country of only 4 million, now hosts a million Syrians in all, if self-supporting families and manual laborers are included.
“The issue of refugees is especially sensitive in Lebanon, whose own 15-year civil war was triggered in part by tensions over Palestinian refugees who came after the creation of Israel.”
Last May on This is Hell!, Alia Brahimi discussed the Syrian war’s impact on Lebanon.
You can listen to that right now by clicking here.
This is Hell!: always ahead of the curve on reporting fucked-up situations.
What a surprise! China now claims they are victims of US hacks.
Reuters notes,”Two major Chinese military websites, including that of the Defense Ministry, were subject to about 144,000 hacking attacks a month last year, almost two-thirds of which came from the United States, the ministry said on Thursday.
“This month a U.S. computer security company said that a secretive Chinese military unit was likely behind a series of hacking attacks mostly targeting the United States, setting off a war of words between Washington and Beijing.
“China denied the allegations and said it was the victim.
“It has now provided some details for the first time of the alleged attacks from the United States.”
Reuters quotes ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng, saying, “The Defense Ministry and China Military Online websites have faced a serious threat from hacking attacks since they were established, and the number of hacks has risen steadily in recent years.
“According to the IP addresses, the Defense Ministry and China Military Online websites were, in 2012, hacked on average from overseas 144,000 times a month, of which attacks from the U.S. accounted for 62.9 percent …
“We hope that the U.S. side can explain and clarify this.”
The US national nightly network news was all over this story when it reported earlier allegations of China hacking America.
Odds are, we will not see Mrs. Alan Greenspan (AKA NBC Nightly News correspondent Andrea Mitchell) covering the China claims of US hacking for the next two days, as she did on the earlier US allegations.
Remember The Media narrative: China bad, US good.
So did US special forces commit war crimes in Afghanistan or not?
TIME describes, “What is known, through all of the confusion, is that Kabul has put yet another NATO commanding general on his back foot, that the move–if implemented—could jeopardize security in nearby Kabul, that Afghans are sharply divided on the value of the Special Forces, and that the decree brings into question America’s strategic plans for counterterrorism operations here after conventional troops leave by the end of 2014.
“Although the recent death of [a university] student and the disappearance of the nine men [believed to have been illegally held by commandos] finally triggered the Karzai government to act, Afghans in the province have lodged numerous complaints in the past.”
Mohammed Rafiq Wardak, head of the Provincial Council, is quoted saying, “We have received more than 500 complaints from people, by telephone and by people coming in to the provincial governor’s office.”
Then TIME has a statement from Karzai’s National Security Council, saying, “It became clear that armed individuals named as U.S. special force stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people. A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days laterunder a bridge. However, Americans reject having conducted any such operation and any involvement of their special force.”
TIME then has Heather Barr, Afghanistan Researcher for Human Rights Watch, saying, “It is very difficult to get beyond the level of rumor on this stuff. There’s enough smoke so that it looks like there certainly must be some fire. But the U.S. government has been anything but forthcoming. What the government seems to be alleging is that these are forces under U.S. government control. The Afghan government seems to think that they are under the Special Operations Command. So, it’s very difficult to untangle, but this is certainly not the first time that there’s been evidence that these kinds of forces are operating. Forces that are, in a sense, vigilante forces assembled by the U.S. And since there is so little transparency it is very difficult to know even which part of the U.S. government would be involved: whether these are a child of special operations forces, or whether potentially there is a situation where they are operating without the knowledge of the U.S. military and are supported by the CIA, for example.
“It’s pretty much inevitable that, as we move towards the 2014 deadline and the drawdown of conventional forces, rather than actually seeing a disengagement from Afghanistan by the international military forces, by the U.S. military, what we are actually going to see is the conflict here sort of change from being a conventional conflict to being an unconventional conflict.
“Meaning that the U.S. will be replacing their soldiers with drones, CIA and contractors. What all of this adds up to, obviously, is a serious drop off in transparency and accountability. And this [incident] is kind of an example of that. Is this group really operating? Was it set up by the U.S. government? Was it funded by the U.S. government? If so, is it under military control? It’s very, very hard to imagine that were really going to get clear answers to those questions. And that may well be part of a situation of a total lack of transparency that seems likely to come up more and more in the years ahead …
“The style in which Karzai has decided to deal with the issue, which has taken the form of a public shaming of NATO, fits in with the way that that relationship has been going in the last year or two. But I don’t think that that is necessarily a reason to discount the possibility that this violence really has happened.”
TIME then has Senator Samir Shirzada with a warning for NATO: “The Special Forces in Chak district are causing a lot of insecurity. They are causing problems for the people. In the winter there is no insurgency in our area. The insurgents go back to Pakistan or Iran or wherever they come from. But the Special Forces in the winter still arrest people. They cause problems for the families and so the young men go and join the insurgency. Because the Special Forces disturb the people, this causes the people to join the insurgency. They are killing people, they are arresting people, and so the family members get angry and they go and join the insurgents.”
TIME also offers a different perspective from Lt. Mashouq of the Afghan National Army: “If the Special Forces leave the province tomorrow, Nerkh, where I am right now, will fall the next day to the Taliban. We need the support of the Special Forces in Wardak.
“First, Wardak is only 25 km from Kabul. If there is security in Wardak, then there will be security in Kabul. If Wardak is not secure, then Kabul will not be secure. Secondly, parts of Wardak province are very mountainous and there are many infiltration routes for insurgents to use and there are no Afghan army or police in these places. The Taliban are in power in many of these areas, so it would be easy for insurgents to attack Kabul.”
TIME ends with, “Sher Mohammed tells us that his 23-year-old son, Sayeed Mohammad, was riding his motorcycle home after visiting relatives in Nerkh, when he was taken from the road in broad daylight. He has been missing for three months.”
Sher says, “I have been to every prison, to every lockup, asking about him. No one has any information. No one can help me. If he was guilty, he should be in prison – I’m not trying to get him out if he is guilty. But just tell me where he is. If he is not guilty and he is missing, the security forces are responsible. They should give me his dead body or tell me where he is, if he is alive. For three months I have been looking for my son. There is no justice.”
Did special forces commit war crimes? Who knows?
All we know is war crimes and disappearances are being committed.
This is the ‘right war.’
World’s leading climate panel wants Obama to scientifically enlighten America.
The Guardian has, “Barack Obama should spread awareness of the ‘scientific realities of climate change’ in the US, the head of the UN’s climate science panel has told the Guardian.
“Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that one of the president’s priorities should be ‘awareness creation’ on the public’s understanding of the science underpinning man-made global warming.
“The IPCC has come under some of the most intense attacks it has faced from heavily funded climate sceptic groups in the US, where industry-funded lobbing groups, Republicans and some Democrat politicians have resisted federal action on energy policy and climate.”
The Guardian explains, “Pachauri said there were three priorities for the US: to spread awareness of the ‘scientific realities of climate change’; it must make different types of energy, such as coal, properly reflect their impacts on climate and their scarcity by introducing some form of carbon pricing or ‘cap in trade’, and finally, focus quickly on preparing for extreme climate events.”
Pachuari says these three priorities are “awareness creation; making sure energy prices are rationalised and providing a price on carbon, because that would ensure you’re going to develop policies that are going to be low in terms of emissions and intensity. And finally, I think it’s also important for a country like the US to take in hand climate adaptation measures: there should be a very clear plan.”
The Guardian has plenty more from Pachuari:
“That [some countries have reached or are crossing a tipping point] clearly gives you the pathway that you should be adopting right away. And secondly, even with a 2C or 2.4C increase, sea level rise in account of thermal expansion alone will be somewhere between 0.4 and 1.4m, okay, and that’s only thermal expansion. If you add to that the melting of the bodies of ice across the globe, then of course it will be higher.
“That’s clearly serious. That clearly means some island nations, some low lying coastal areas are going to be threatened, even with a 2C global increase. And that’s something the global community has to keep in mind.
“Now, if you do, then what does that imply? That perhaps either we’re able to adapt and manage in a way that this 2C sea level rise or we accept the fact that there are populations that will need to move out of the places where their parents, their grandparents bones are buried.
“Or we say, look, we’ve got to stop climate change well before the 2C level. Now these are choices which have to be dictated by a scientific assessment of where we’re going.”
On skeptics and Climategate, Pachuari says, “We’re living in a free world and people will interpret things in the way that perhaps suit them, perhaps that they’ve a predisposition for.
“But I think in the ultimate analysis, if sane voices were to look at truth for what it is then I think people will realise that what we’re saying and what the scientific community globally is saying is something that you cannot ignore, and the longer you delay taking action on it, the more complex the challenge is going to become.”
Aside from the mixed metaphors of ‘sane voices looking,’ Pachuari seems to discount the crazy.
Big mistake, science guy!
Fukushima’s neighbor’s are at a higher risk of getting cancer.
Reuters finds, “People in the area worst affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident two years ago have a higher risk of developing certain cancers, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday.
A 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, killed nearly 19,000 people and devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering meltdowns, spewing radiation and forcing about 160,000 people to flee their homes.”
Dr Maria Neira, WHO director for public health and environment, said in a statement, “A breakdown of data, based on age, gender and proximity to the plant, does show a higher cancer risk for those located in the most contaminated parts.”
Reuters continues without the numbers: “In the most contaminated area, the WHO estimated that there was a 70% higher risk – up from a baseline risk of 0.77% to 1.29% – of females exposed as infants developing thyroid cancer over their lifetime. The thyroid is the most exposed organ as radioactive iodine concentrates there and children are deemed especially vulnerable.
“The report estimated that in the most contaminated area there was a 7% higher risk of leukaemia in males exposed as infants, and a 6% higher risk of breast cancer in females exposed as infants.”
They also have Jim Smith, professor of environmental science at the University of Portsmouth in England, saying, “Apart from emergency workers, the most affected people were those who remained in some highly contaminated towns and villages to the northwest of the power station for up to four months before evacuation.
“The report found that these people received a lifetime radiation dose of up to 50 milli-Sieverts (MSV) and therefore have a significant, but relatively small, additional risk of contracting cancer in later life.”
The WHO’s Neira adds, “The WHO report underlines the need for long-term health monitoring of those who are at high risk, along with the provision of necessary medical follow-up and support services.”
For those of you following the BP trial, The Guardian throws in, “Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) earlier this month received approval for 697bn yen ($7.5bn) from the Japanese government to compensate those harmed by the disaster, taking the total fund to 3.24tn yen.”
This Reuters post ran at The Guardian’s website with the headline, “Cancer risk 70% higher for females in Fukushima area, says WHO.”
Meanwhile, USA TODAY has The Associated Press wire story titled, “WHO: Small cancer risk after Fukushima accident.”
’75% higher,’ ‘small risk’ … same thing, right?
Almost half of all Saudi women are victims of domestic violence.
Emirates 24/7 reveals, “Nearly half Saudi women are beaten up by their husbands or other family members at home and many of them are hit by sticks and head cover, according to a university study published in local newspapers on Tuesday.
“Surprisingly, the study found that the Bedouin men who still dwell the desert in the conservative Gulf Kingdom, are less violent than Saudi men in urban areas.
“The study was conducted by Dr Lateefa Abdul Lateef, a social science professor at King Saud University in the Capital Riyadh. It involved female students at the university and some Saudi women covered by the government’s social security.”
Dr. Lateefa is cited saying, “The study showed that nearly half those covered by social security and more than a third of the female students at the university are beaten up at home.
“Husbands were found to be beating their wives more than others….they are followed by fathers, then brothers then sons…hands and sticks were found to be used mostly in beating women, following by men’s head cover and to a lesser extent, sharp objects.”
Emirates 24/7 adds, “The study showed that husbands beating their wives included both educated and non-educated men and that ‘those dwelling in the desert are less violent with their wives than those living in cities or villages.’
“The study found that the main reasons for violence against women include poor religious motives, drug addiction and alcoholism, arrogance and a tendency to control, psychological problems, poverty, and unemployment.”
By posting this as on of The Nine Circles of Hell! I am either revealing my passion for women’s rights or my racism toward Saudis.
Feel free to tell me which it is.
South Africa’s “brutal police” caught killing cabdriver in video.
The Guardian observes, “South Africa’s police watchdog has launched a murder investigation after video footage emerged appearing to show a man being tied to the back of a police van and dragged along the road while bystanders looked on.
“Mido Macia, a 27-year-old taxi driver from neighbouring Mozambique, was found dead in a police cell in the Daveyton township east of Johannesburg at 9.15pm on Tuesday, less than two and a half hours after the incident, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) said. A postmortem examination found the cause of death to be head injuries with internal bleeding.
“The video footage provoked outrage, with Amnesty International describing it as ‘shocking.’ The human rights organisation’s southern Africa director, Noel Kututwa, said it was ‘the latest in an increasingly disturbing pattern of brutal police conduct in South Africa.’”
The Guardian has more from Amnesty: “Amnesty’s 2012 annual report documented allegations against the South African police of excessive force, torture, rape and ‘extrajudicial executions.’ It said the IPID received 720 new cases for investigation of suspicious deaths in custody or in other policing contexts from April 2011 to March 2012.”
It’s not only AI: “The Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria has reported that the number of people shot dead by police doubled in the four years to 2010. Deaths in police custody or resulting from police action numbered 860 in 2009-10, higher than the period 2003-08, when they averaged 695 a year.”
South Africa’s cops just got a step up on winning this ‘World’s Worst Cops of the Week.’
I welcome your nominees.
Follow @thisishellradio as I tweet during the US national nightly network TV news>
Then, an hour or so after those shows are broadcast, read my Network News Review blog — including last night’s “A Movement of One” — by clicking here.
The last two nights, I’ve written on ABC World News Tonight admitting their dependence on “dramatic video.”
The South African killing is easily the most “dramatic video” this week.
It will definitely NOT be on ABC.