Archive for July, 2012
Thu Sep 15, 2011
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah, has landed in hot waters as a Spanish court reopens a three-year-old rape case against him.
The court started a probe into allegations that the Saudi multibillionaire raped a model on a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea in August 2008, according to a ruling seen by AFP Wednesday.
The case concerns Prince Talal, who is being asked to respond to a complaint of sexual assault against him by a model who was 20 at the time.
The prince denied the allegations and said he only heard of them on Tuesday.
A May 24 ruling by a court in the Balearic Islands said the complainant, who was not named, believed a drug was added to her drink in a nightclub on the island after she met the Saudi prince.
A judge in the Balearic island of Ibiza in May 2010 had ordered the case closed for lack of evidence, but the provincial court of the Balearic Islands overturned that ruling on May 24 and a court in Ibiza on July 27 reopened the proceedings to formally request assistance from the Saudi authorities to take a statement from the accused.
The 56-year-old prince has holdings in Citibank and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Forbes magazine lists him as the 26th richest person in the world with assets of $19.6 billion.
Wed Sep 14, 2011
Saudi Arabia has reportedly dispatched a convoy of armored vehicles and military assistance to Yemen to help Sana’a crack down on the popular revolution.
Sources affiliated with the Yemeni opposition were cited by the independent pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi as saying, “A motorcade of Saudi armored vehicles and military aid entered the Yemeni soil to help the forces of the regime of [Yemen’s] Ali Abdullah Saleh,” Mehr News Agency reported on Wednesday.
The sources said it was the second time Riyadh was sending such vehicles to Yemen since the start of the revolution, which has been demanding an end to corruption and unemployment as well as Saleh’s ouster.
Riyadh has a history of aiding Sana’a in carrying out a deadly suppressive campaign against Yemen’s north-based Shia population, known as the Houthis.
In March, the kingdom deployed forces to Bahrain to abet the Bahraini regime’s crackdown against a similar anti-government popular uprising.
Wed Sep 14, 2011
More than a dozen Bahraini nurses and doctors have entered the second week of their hunger strike as the anti-regime protesters await trial in a martial court, a report says.
Irish-trained surgeons Ali al-Ekri and Bassin Dahif along with 11 other doctors, nurses and paramedics are on a hunger strike in a Bahraini prison, Prof. Damian McCormack, who heads an Irish delegation of doctors and human rights activists to Bahrain, wrote in a letter to the Irish Times.
Among the detained protesters, one is diabetic and seven have already collapsed and are in need of intravenous fluids while one has attempted suicide and been prescribed anti-psychotic medication; they all refuse to take their medication, according to the document.
McCormack, who is affiliated with the World College of Surgeons and the World College of Physicians, also referred to a chronic compartment syndrome in another detained surgeon, who is at risk of “deep clots and embolism.”
“All continue to suffer from the physical and psychological effects of prolonged detention and torture,” he stated, adding that one consultant ophthalmologist recently released had suffered a stroke in detention.
The Dublin-based pediatrician recalls a royal decree issued by Bahrain’s embattled King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in late June, which orders all protester cases referred to civilian courts.
“However, international human rights organizations are shocked to learn that the trial of the 20 medics who are accused with felonies will continue in a military court,’” the letter reads.
It further censured the continued brutal suppression of peaceful protests in Bahrain and the August 31 killing of teenage boy, struck by a tear gas canister at close range, on Eid al-Fitr.
McCormack accused the Bahraini regime of employing international lobbyists such as Jo Trippi and PR companies such as Qorvis in Washington and Bell Pottinger in London to conceal its continued violations of human rights.
He noted how Lualua TV, a Bahraini pro- democracy station based in London, is actively jammed from Bahrain via a European satellite and all internal electronic communications in Bahrain are monitored by “spy gear” provided by western companies such as Nokia Siemens.
“Over 1,400 protesters have been detained, 180 civilians have been sentenced in military courts, 32 people have been killed, over 60 journalists have been targeted or ejected and at least 22 opposition websites are censored in a country which would call itself civilized and peaceful,” McCormack went on to say.
The doctor further called on the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland to seek return of the honorary fellowship they awarded to King Hamad in 2006.
BAGHDAD, Sep 13 2011 (IPS) – When a middle-aged mother took a taxi alone from Baghdad to Nasiriyah, about 300 kilometers south earlier this year, her 20-year-old driver stopped on the way, pulled her to the side of the road and raped her. And that began a telling legal struggle.
“She is not a simple case,” says Hanaa Edwar, head of the Iraqi rights-based Al-Amal Association, established in Baghdad after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
“She came from an affluent family, held a professional job, and told her family about the rape. They had the police arrest the driver,” Edwar says. “Then she came to us for legal help. She said, ‘I want my rights back, and what he has done to me, he will do to others. I want this perpetrator punished’.”
The rape victim lost her case. “The judge had a male mentality. They think you should not make a scandal, but be silent. He prompted the accused with questions like, ‘You did this when you were drunk – yes?’ This is how they intimidate,” Edwar said. “Now we are making an appeal.”
The Al-Amal Association is one of a handful of women’s advocates in Iraq fighting for female equality in marriage and divorce, and opposing a draconian penal code that favors perpetrators of domestic abuse and of honor killings within households.
According to United Nations statistics, one in five women from 15 to 49 years old has suffered physical violence at the hands of her husband. “The real numbers are likely higher,” says UNDP. “Reporting of gender-based violence cases is generally low, as women fear social stigmatization and lack confidence that authorities will investigate complaints.”
“The deterioration of security has promoted a rise in tribal customs and religiously-inflected political extremism, which have had a deleterious effect on women’s rights both inside and outside the home,” says a Human Rights Watch report published this year. “Iraq’s penal code considers ‘honorable motive’ to be a mitigating factor in crimes including murder. The code also gives husbands a legal right to discipline their wives.
“For Iraqi women, who enjoyed some of the highest level of rights protection and social participation in the region before 1991, these have been heavy blows.”
Although Iraq’s 1959 sectarian-based personal status laws that govern marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance through the judicial system heavily favored men, hard-fought amendments had moderately improved women’s rights.
But when Iraq’s devastating wars and international sanctions smashed the country’s infrastructure, Saddam Hussein courted religious groups to maintain power, reversing some of Iraqi women’s hard- won gains.
After Hussein’s overthrow in 2003, religious authorities’ attempts to replace the inequitable personal status law with Sharia law were successfully fought off by female advocates. However, Article 41 in the new Iraqi Constitution has again introduced family law for religious interpretation by different sects.
Al-Amal’s Hanaa Edwar explains the new reality. “There is a lot of marriage and divorce that takes place outside of the court. While the law says 15 years is the minimum age for boys and girls to marry with the consent of their fathers and a judge, those under 15 years are marrying outside the court. Religious men will take about 200 dollars for it.”
“The war has raised the violence in the state,” says Sundus Hasan, director of the Woman’s Leadership Institute (WLI). “When there is a war, it always reflects on the people and families.
“Before 2003 every family sent all to schools,” she says. “Now everyone has to make sure about protection for girls to go to school. Sometimes it costs too much. That is why early marriage is a new phenomenon in Iraq – with girls at 10 or 12 years old. The legal age is 18 years old, but nobody respects the law.”
Hasan, who has been personally threatened by militias for her advocacy work, lost a good friend who was kidnapped and raped. “When her family paid her ransom, she returned home and called me. ‘I am dying’, she said. I told her to go to sleep, that everything would be okay. But the next day when her family found her, she had killed herself in her room. I feel certain that when she returned she saw sadness in the eyes of her husband and family. I am sure she saw herself in the same light.”
WLI is working to integrate critical international treaties like the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) – of which Iraq is a signatory – into Iraqi legislation, and with others to push through a draft law against gender-based violence.
A positive starting point is the 25 percent quota for female parliamentarians. However, Hasan says, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is very weak, and there are only two females ministerial posts out of 48, counting the state ministries. “Before there were six, then four, now two. It’s going the wrong way.”
Amnesty International warns, “Even if greater stability and peace return soon to Iraq, levels of violence against women may remain high if the authorities continue to allow men to kill and maim women with impunity, and if gender segregation and discrimination against women become further entrenched.”
Source: Inter-Press Service (IPS).
Tue Sep 13, 2011
Saudi activists have established a political group to launch a peaceful campaign for asserting the rights of citizens living in the eastern parts of the Persian Gulf kingdom.
The group, named “Change and Progress Society”, will be headed by Saudi prominent author Ahmad Mohammad al-Rebh from the eastern province of Qatif.
Rebh insisted that the group is part of the Saudi society and will conduct its activities based on that principle.
Saudi Arabia’s east has been the scene of protests over the past months and authorities have arrested scores of people, including bloggers and writers for taking part in anti-government demonstrations.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February in Saudi crackdowns on anti-government protesters.
According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), detainees have been subject to both physical and mental torture.