TRIPOLI/BRUSSELS – Detainees in the Libyan city of Misrata are being tortured and denied urgent medical care, leading the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to suspend its operations in detention centres in Misrata, MSF announced today.
MSF teams began working in Misrata’s detention centres in August, 2011, to treat war-wounded detainees. Since then, MSF doctors were increasingly confronted with patients who suffered injuries caused by torture during interrogation sessions. The interrogations were held outside the detention centres. In total, MSF treated 115 people who had torture-related wounds and reported all the cases to the relevant authorities in Misrata. Since January, several of the patients returned to interrogation centres have even been tortured again.
“Some officials have sought to exploit and obstruct MSF’s medical work,” said MSF General Director Christopher Stokes. “Patients were brought to us in the middle of interrogation for medical care, in order to make them fit for further interrogation. This is unacceptable. Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions.”
MSF medical teams were also asked to treat patients inside the interrogation centres, which was categorically refused by the organisation.
The most alarming case occurred on January 3, when MSF doctors treated a group of 14 detainees returning from an interrogation centre located outside the detention facilities. Despite previous MSF demands for the immediate end of torture, nine of the 14 detainees suffered numerous injuries and displayed obvious signs of torture.
The MSF team informed the National Army Security Service—the agency responsible for interrogations—that a number of patients needed to be transferred to hospitals for urgent and specialised care. All but one of the detainees were again deprived of essential medical care and were subjected to renewed interrogations and torture outside the detention centres.
After meeting with various authorities, MSF sent an official letter on January 9 to the Misrata Military Council, the Misrata Security Committee, the National Army Security Service, and the Misrata Local Civil Council, again demanding an immediate stop to any form of ill treatment of detainees.
“No concrete action has been taken,” said Stokes. “Instead, our team received four new torture cases. We have therefore come to the decision to suspend our medical activities in the detention centres.”
MSF has been present in Misrata since April 2011, in the midst of the Libyan conflict. Since August 2011, MSF has worked in Misrata’s detention centres, treating war wounded, performing surgeries, and providing orthopaedic follow-up care to people who had suffered bone fractures. MSF medical teams have carried out 2,600 consultations, including 311 for violent trauma.
MSF will continue its mental health support activities in schools and health facilities in Misrata, as well as its assistance to 3,000 African migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons in and around Tripoli.
MSF is an international humanitarian medical organisation that has worked in Libya since February 25, 2011. To ensure the independence of its medical work, MSF relies solely on private donations to finance its activities in Libya and does not accept any funding from governments, donor agencies, or military or political groups.
There’s a news article in the Washington Post today that really captures that paper’s view of the way the world works, and how it ought to work. Headlined “After Earthquake, Japan Can’t Agree on the Future of Nuclear Power,” Chico Harlan’s piece begins:
The hulking system that once guided Japan’s pro-nuclear-power stance worked just fine when everybody moved in lockstep. But in the wake of a nuclear accident that changed the way this country thinks about energy, the system has proved ill-suited for resolving conflict. Its very size and complexity have become a problem.
And what exactly is that problem?
Nearly a year after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi facility, Japanese decision-makers cannot agree on how to safeguard their reactors against future disasters, or even whether to operate them at all.
Some experts say this indecision reflects the Japanese tendency to search for, and sometimes depend on, consensus–even when none is likely to emerge. The nation’s system for nuclear decision-making requires the agreement of thousands of officials. Most bureaucrats and politicians in Tokyo want Japan to recommit to nuclear power, but they have been thwarted by a powerful minority–reformists and regional governors.
The obstruction by this “powerful minority,” the Post goes on to say, has “heavy consequences”: “record financial losses for major power companies and economy-stunting electricity shortages.” The story warns that “Japan, once the world’s third-largest nuclear consumer, could be nuclear-free, if it is unable to win approval from local communities to restart the idled units.”
Then, after musing about the “elaborate network of hand-holding” that used to govern Japan’s nuclear infrastructure, Harlan slips in a fact that changes everything:
Since the March 11 accident, just enough has changed to stall that cooperation. Two-thirds of Japanese oppose atomic power. Politicians in areas that host nuclear plants are rethinking the facilities; they hold veto power over any restart. A few vocal skeptics have emerged in the government, and in the aftermath of the accident, Japan has created at least a dozen commissions and task forces for energy-related issues.
So when the pro-nuclear goals of “most bureaucrats and politicians” are “thwarted by a powerful minority,” that’s a sign of the dysfunctional Japanese system, with its “tendency to search for, and sometimes depend on, consensus.” The fact that this “minority” actually represents the large majority of the Japanese public who oppose the technology that has rendered substantial parts of their country uninhabitable–well, that’s just another roadblock that the establishment is going to have to overcome.
Hundreds of protesters in Los Angeles have taken out to the streets of Hollywood to rally against loopholes in legislation on corporate tax in the United States, Press TV reports.
The protesters, including unemployed workers, members of labor unions and “Occupy LA” activists, staged the rally to show their anger at a recent report showing that 249 of the country’s largest and most profitable corporations paid less than the US corporate tax rate.
The protesters said local communities are unable to afford vital public services such as health care and services provided by police officers, fire fighters due to the failure of these rich corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.
Demonstrators occupied one of Hollywood’s busiest intersections, forcing police to order them to disperse. Protesters say the display was necessary to make sure people understand what is going on in the US.
Jacob Hay, one of the organizers of the rally, told Press TV that the protest is targeting companies such as shipping giant FedEx, which he says is one of the largest corporate tax dodgers in America.
“Over the last few years they paid less than one percent in federal taxes despite earning 5.2 billion (dollars),” Hay said.
Between 2008 and 2010, FedEx spent USD 46,000 a day lobbying in the Congress, which is about USD 14 million more than it paid in taxes, Hay added.
Protesters say FedEx is just one of the hundreds of corporations that are taking advantage of Americans.
A recent study, conducted by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, shows that 30 US companies are paying no federal taxes at all.
- OWS knocks on US billionaires’ doors (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- 29 Companies That Paid Millions For Lobbying (And Didn’t Pay Taxes) (forbes.com)
Britain, France and the United States are making efforts in cooperation with Qatar and Morocco, and the support of the Arab League Secretary General to release a new decision against Syria in the UN Security council.
The Security Council resolution draft states that it “supports an Arab League facilitation to a political transition in Syria.”
In this field, Moscow has been witnessing lately a wide diplomatic movement that aims at persuading the country to change its stance on Syria.
Arab ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council are preparing to visit Russia, after Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglou concluded his visit that included talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Lavrov expressed to Davutolgu his rejection to any one-sided decision against Syria in the UN Security Council.
“We are open to any constructive suggestion for a solution to the crisis in Syria… and we don’t support any suggestion that proposes taking one-sided decisions against Syria, such as the sanctions that were imposed without previous negotiations with Russia, China, and the rest of the member countries of BRICS… any decision against Syria in the international security council must not be seen as a justification to foreign intervention,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and his assistant Fred Hof also held meetings in Moscow with Russian diplomats.
According to the US embassy, the two parts agreed on moving on with their cooperation on the Syrian file.
- Russia Rejects Sanctions on Syria, Deems UN ‘Evidence’ Unbalanced (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Russia to keep blocking UN sanctions on Syria (ctv.ca)
- Gulf Arabs push diplomatic assault on Syria (rt.com)