What can I say that I have not said before? I guess I can start by saying see you later to all of those who have passed in the last year. We Natives don’t like to mention their names. We believe that if we speak their names it disrupts their journey. They may loose their way and their spirits wander forever. If too many call out to them, they will try to come back. But their spirits know we are thinking about them, so all I will say is safe journey and I hope to see you soon.
On February 6th, I will have been imprisoned for 40 years! I’m 71 years old and still in a maximum security penitentiary. At my age, I’m not sure I have much time left.
I have earned about 4-5 years good time that no one seems to want to recognize. It doesn’t count, I guess? And when I was indicted the average time served on a life sentence before being given parole was 7 years. So that means I’ve served nearly 6 life sentences and I should have been released on parole a very long time ago. Then there’s mandatory release after serving 30 years. I’m 10 years past that. The government isn’t supposed to change the laws to keep you in prison — EXCEPT if you’re Leonard Peltier, it seems.
Now, I’m told I’ll be kept at USP Coleman I until 2017 when they’ll decide if I can go to a medium security facility — or NOT. But, check this out, I have been classified as a medium security prisoner now for at least 15 years, and BOP regulations say elders shall be kept in a less dangerous facility/environment. But NOT if you’re Leonard Peltier, I guess.
As you’ll remember, the history of my bid for clemency is long. My first app was with Jimmy Carter. He denied it. Ronald Reagan promised President Mikhail Gorbachev that he would release me if the Soviet Union released a prisoner, but Reagan reneged. George H.W. Bush did nothing. The next app was with Bill Clinton. He left office without taking action even though the Pardon Attorney did an 11-month investigation (it usually takes 9 months) and we were told she had recommended clemency. George W. Bush denied that petition in 2009. And in all of the applications for clemency, the FBI has interfered with an executive order. That’s illegal as hell!
Today, I’m facing another dilemma — an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). It’s the size of an AAA battery. The doctor told me if it bursts, I can bleed to death. It’s also close to my spine and I could end up paralyzed. The good news is that it’s treatable and the operation has a 96-98 percent success rate. BUT I’m in a max security prison. We don’t get sent for treatment until it is terminal.
As President Obama completes the final year of his term, I hope that he will continue to fight to fulfill his promises, and further the progress his Administration has made towards working in partnership with First Peoples. It gives me hope that this President has worked hard to affirm the trust relationship with the Tribal Nations. With YOUR encouragement, I believe Obama will have the courage and conviction to commute my sentence and send me home to my family.
Looking back on the 40 years of efforts on my behalf, I am overwhelmed and humbled. I would like to say thank you to all the supporters who have believed in me over the years. Some of you have been supporters since the beginning. You made sure I had books to read and commissary funds to buy what I may need to be as comfortable as one can be in this place. You made donations to the defense committee so we could continue fighting for my freedom, too. You all worked hard — are still working hard — to spread the word about what is now being called the most outrageous conviction in U.S. history. There are good-hearted people in this world, and you’re among them. I’m sorry I cannot keep up with answering all of your letters. But thanks for the love you have shown me. Without it, I could never have made it this long. I’m sure of it.
I believe that my incarceration, the constitutional violations in my case, and the government misconduct in prosecuting my case are issues far more important than just my life or freedom. I feel that each of you who have fought for my freedom have been a part of the greater struggle of Native Peoples — for Treaty rights, sovereignty, and our very survival. If I should be called home, please don’t give up on our struggle.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse…
Donations can be made on Leonard’s behalf to the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, PO Box 24, Hillsboro, OR 97123.
Israeli Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz has said that Egypt’s new policy of flooding the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula with seawater had come at Israel’s request.
“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is flooding the tunnels on his country’s border with the Gaza Strip with water based on a request by Israel,” Steinitz said at a seminar held Saturday in the southern city of Beer Sheva, according to Israel Radio.
“Security coordination between the two countries [Israel and Egypt] is better than ever,” the minister said at the seminar, at which participants discussed the relationship between the two neighbors.
In recent months, the Egyptian army has begun flooding the network of cross-border tunnels linking Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip with seawater.
Subject to a years-long blockade by Israel and Egypt, the Hamas-run Gaza Strip had come to depend on the tunnel network to import desperately-needed commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.
Steinitz is particularly close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is a member of the latter’s influential security cabinet.
Even Amnesty International, which is cautious about cases it champions, has taken up Peltier’s cause, questioning the fairness of his trial and backs assertions that political considerations likely factored into his treatment by the U.S. justice system.
So why would U.S. authorities single out Peltier and seek his unjust imprisonment?
Peltier was a leading figure within the American Indian Movement (AIM) during its peak in political activity in the 1970’s. Active in defense of his people’s interests and lands from a young age, Peltier rose quickly to occupy a prominent role within the movement.
In 1975, responding to a request by local indigenous people from the Pine Ridge reservation, Peltier traveled to South Dakota. There he worked with the community helping provide security amidst political tensions and violence between rival groups on the reservation.
FBI officials, on a deliberate mission to weaken or destroy leftist organizations, believed that AIM activists were conspiring at Pine Ridge.
“It was not an armed military camp hatching terrorist plans … It was a spiritual camp,” said Peltier.
On June 26, 1975 a massive shootout erupted, which included participants from AIM, the FBI, and paramilitaries hired by the tribal chairman who was opposed to AIM.
When the bullets stopped, two FBI agents and one indigenous man by the name of Joseph Stuntz were dead.
Despite the participation of dozens of people, only AIM members Bob Robideau, Darrell Butler, and Leonard Peltier were brought up on charges related to the deaths of the FBI officials. Robideau and Butler were arrested and charged but ultimately acquitted.
Peltier, fearing that he would not receive a fair trial, fled to Canada. He would eventually be extradited back to the United States based on the testimony of Myrtle Poor Bear, who said she saw Peltier shoot the agents.
Ms. Poor Bear would eventually recant her statements. It is alleged she was not even present at Pine Ridge on the day in question.
Peltier’s trial was held in North Dakota in 1977 and was presided over by Judge Paul Benson, an appointee of conservative President Richard Nixon.
Myrtle Poor Bear was not allowed to testify and submit to the jury that her previous statements were false. Other witnesses would later claim the FBI coerced them into testifying against Peltier. Key evidence that helped exonerate Robideau and Butler was not allowed to be introduced.
The jury found Peltier guilty and he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
It would later be revealed that the prosecution hid thousands of documents related to the case, documents that could have helped prove Peltier’s innocence.
Despite all this, Peltier was denied a retrial in 1986. The judge who presided over that trial, Gerald Heaney, even expressed concern about the administration of justice
He has also been consistently denied parole, most recently in 2009, due to his insistence that he is innocent.
Peltier is now 71-years-old and is not eligible for another parole hearing until 2024. This is why his supporters, who include many notable figures and celebrities, have called for U.S. authorities to release him on humanitarian grounds. Other have specifically called on President Obama to commute Peltier’s sentence before the end of his term.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Since the 1st of November 2015 the Tel Rumeida area and Shuhada Street in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron) has been declared a ‘closed military zone’. The first declaration of the closure was for one month, but since then the order has been extended several times.
The newest order from the 1st of February declares the area as closed till the 1st of March with the chance of extension.
Shuhada Checkpoint (Checkpoint 56)
The closure effects the residents of the area every single day. Every family living in the area has been given a number and was forced to register with the Israeli forces. When entering the area, through checkpoints, the residents have to show ID, give their number and often also answer questions and get bag and body searched. Friends and family of the residents are unable to visit them inside the area; even doctors or craftsmen are completely barred from entering the area.
Furthermore, the closed military zone has led to the eviction of two human rights organisations based in Tel Rumeida. These are now banned from living in their houses and working from their offices and since they are banned from the whole area are not able to observe and document the rampant Israeli human rights violations. The ‘closed military zone’ clearly intends to evict Palestinian residents in order to allow for an expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements, and by evicting human rights defenders to silence the truth on the Israeli forces harassment, attacks and human rights violations.
Of thousands killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004, less than one third of the victims have been identified, including a record low number of ten last year, according to an international investigation.
A UK-based not-for-profit organization revealed the figures in the framework of their “Naming the Dead” project. Initially created for tracking US drone strikes in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, the project seeks to identify casualties, calling for accountability for the attacks.
According to project data, of 2,494 people confirmed killed by American drone strikes in Pakistan, only 729 have been identified. In 2015 the names of those killed was extremely small – only ten of 60 allegedly killed by drones.
Five of ten victims were pronounced members of Al Qaeda, another three were named Pakistani Taliban fighters and the last two were aid workers from Western states.
The US carried out 13 drone attacks in Pakistan in 2015, killing about 60 people. While unnamed sources revealed to Naming the Dead that the vast majority of victims in the six attacks were Uzbeks, the data on the rest of those killed remains scarce.
In 2015, Pakistan authorities declined to assist in the identification process of victims, for the first time since the US launched its drone campaign.According to Common Dreams, ISPR, the Pakistani military propaganda division, could have banned the release of data pertaining to the issue. Islamabad has started a military campaign against terrorists and other non-state groups in Waziristan in 2014, preventing data from being leaked.
ISI, Pakistan’s spy agency, is reportedly keeping secret the names of those murdered in drone attacks across the state’s tribal areas. Before 2015, the agency used to provide reporters and officials with the lion’s share of information on casualties, including those caused by American unmanned aerial vehicles.
ISI is still providing journalists with the names of Taliban and al Qaeda members murdered by US drones in Afghanistan.
But, as the Bureau announced, both Afghan and Pakistan officials tend to underestimate the number of casualties in bordering regions. They reported on 700 killed in drone attacks in 2015. In reality, Naming the Dead says at least 100 more people were killed.According to Washington, a total of 411 air and drone strikes were conducted in Afghanistan last year. But that’s all the authorities announced, leaving no specific information of number of killed people there.
Ongoing colonization in Hebron: Israeli forces prepare the illegal invasion of Palestinian houses by Israeli settlers
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On February 3rd 2016, Israeli occupation forces violently opened the door of houses in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi mosque by cutting the door locks with a disk grinder, and then entered these houses.
The houses are located in al-Sahla Street near the Ibrahimi mosque, settlers illegally invaded and occupied them two weeks ago, but were then evicted by the police and army the next morning.
After the Israeli army removed the door-locks of the two houses, Israeli construction workers took the external an internal dimensions of both Palestinian properties as if they are already owned by Israeli settlers. The settlers were protected during their illegal activities by large groups of soldiers.
Palestinian residents who walked trough the checkpoint in front of these houses were body-checked and harassed by the soldiers. The video below illustrates how inhumande and degrading these body-searches and ID-checks are, with soldiers ordering Palestinians to take off clothing regardless of weather and treating them without even a slight bit of dignity.
The family of a rancher who was shot by law enforcement during the Oregon standoff is calling the shooting death unjustified for a second time, accusing the FBI and Oregon State Police of a cover-up.
Rancher LaVoy Finicium was shot by Oregon State Police officers during an attempt to stop and arrest the leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, then on its 25th day. Protesters took over the refuge’s federal building to protest the arson convictions of two other ranchers, as well as to express anger of federal land policy.
“At this point, based on additional information we have now received, it is our position that not only was the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum completely unjustified, but that the FBI and Oregon State Police may also be engaging in a cover-up, and seeking to manipulate and mislead the media and the American public about what really happened,” read a statement from Finicum’s family, obtained by the Oregonian.
The family said new information from eye witness accounts supplemented their previous accusation that the FBI and OSP could not show any justification for Finicum’s death. One of the passengers riding in the white Jeep driven by Finicum, Shawna Cox, allegedly gave a different account of what happened that day after she was released from custody.
“According to Shawna Cox, they were being fired upon right from the outset at the second stop, before LaVoy exited the vehicle. Bullets had already come through the front windshield…. there was no question that LaVoy was trying to draw gunfire away from the others in the vehicle,” read the statement.
Cox told the family that it was clear LaVoy had his hands in the air and meant to keep them there, not to pull out a firearm.
“[The] best explanation for LaVoy’s arguably furtive hand movements, and why he lowered his hands and reached for his side at one point is because he had already been shot, and he was reaching toward the area where he had been hit as an involuntary physical reflex… before being shot again and collapsing,” read the statement.
Cox told the family that after LaVoy was lying motionless in the snow, federal agents and police “unleashed a barrage of gunfire on LaVoy’s truck and its remaining occupants… Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox and Victoria Sharp, and shot it repeatedly.”
Cox said Ryan Bundy was wounded during the attack, and that in addition to the gunfire they were “terrorized by repeated smoke and pepper bombs.” She also said law enforcement did not make “any attempt to provide any meaningful or timely medical attention to LaVoy,” according to the statement.
In its previous statement, the family said they thought LaVoy’s movements were animated and said, “there are always at least two sides to every story…they didn’t know exactly what happened.” Now with Cox’s account, they are less convinced about the FBI account.
“After re-reviewing the extended video with better technology, we want to reiterate that we are not accepting at face value the FBI’s statement that LaVoy was actually armed,” the statement said.
Finicum’s family are demanding all applicable audio recordings and sound tracks from the FBI, a full-length unedited video of the operation and complete and close-up images of LaVoy’s truck “following the siege.”
The FBI released a 26-minute aerial video, without audio, of the tactical operation, including graphic footage of the shooting on January 28. The agency said they were releasing the video to counteract inaccurate and inflammatory accusations that the agency had been involved in killing Finicum in “cold blood.” The FBI also held a press conference and issued a formal statement interpreting the video.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon, announced Tuesday that an investigation into the shooting won’t be released for another four to six weeks.
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitaries patrol a small village. The AUC have been responsible for torture, extrajudicial killings, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Photo: Justice for Colombia
Plan Colombia’s 15th anniversary will be celebrated in Washington Thursday. But the legacy of the plan is marked by massacres, mass graves, and death squads.
According to Colombia’s Victims Unit, the number of victims of Colombia’s civil war has surpassed 7 million. This number includes those who have been killed, disappeared or displaced since 1956. For a country of under 50 million citizens, these numbers are staggering, and certainly newsworthy, but apparently not for the mainstream media.
Of course, the violence and human rights abuses in Colombia have constituted inconvenient truths for the Western media as the U.S. has been a major sponsor of the violence and abuses in that country.
Indeed, a notable fact in the Colombia Victims Unit report is that “that the majority of victimization occurred after 2000, peaking in 2002 at 744,799 victims.” It is not coincidental that “Plan Colombia,” or “Plan Washington” as many Colombians have called it, was inaugurated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, thus escalating the conflict to new heights and new levels of barbarity. Plan Colombia is a plan pursuant to which the U.S. has given Colombia billions in mostly military and police assistance.
As Amnesty International has explained, these monies have only fueled the human rights crisis in Colombia:
Amnesty International USA has been calling for a complete cut off of US military aid to Colombia for over a decade due to the continued collaboration between the Colombian Armed Forces and their paramilitary allies as well the failure of the Colombian government to improve human rights conditions.
Colombia has been one of the largest recipients of US military aid for well over a decade and the largest in the western hemisphere. . . . Yet torture, massacres, “disappearances” and killings of non-combatants are widespread and collusion between the armed forces and paramilitary groups continues to this day. . . .
“Plan Colombia” — the name for the US aid package since 2000, was created as a strategy to combat drugs and contribute to peace, mainly through military means….
Despite overwhelming evidence of continued failure to protect human rights the State Department has continued to certify Colombia as fit to receive aid. The US has continued a policy of throwing “fuel on the fire” of already widespread human rights violations, collusion with illegal paramilitary groups and near total impunity.
Furthermore, after 10 years and over $8 billion dollars of U.S. assistance to Colombia, U.S. policy has failed to reduce availability or use of cocaine in the US, and Colombia’s human rights record remains deeply troubling. Despite this, the State Department continues to certify military aid to Colombia, even after reviewing the country’s human rights record.
However, what Amnesty International did not explain are two salient facts.
First, the human rights group does not mention that Plan Colombia was initiated in the midst of peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC guerillas, and actually played a key role in derailing these talks, and with them the prospects for peace – prospects which have only been revived recently.
Second, Amnesty International does not mention that the paramilitaries which continue to collaborate with the U.S.-backed military in Colombia were actually a creation of the U.S. Thus, these paramilitaries were the brainchild of the Kennedy Administration back in 1962 – that is, two years before the FARC guerillas were even constituted.
As Noam Chomsky has mentioned a number of times, Kennedy commenced the U.S.’s counterinsurgency program, of which paramilitaries were a key component, in order to combat the scourge of Liberation Theology unleashed by Vatican II. And indeed, as Chomsky has also noted, the U.S. School of the Americas has bragged about how it helped “destroy liberation theology,” which emphasizes the “preferential treatment of the poor.”
Colombia has been ground zero for this plan which has targeted, among others, Catholic clergy for assassination. Accordingly, as documented by the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, over 80 Catholic clergy have been murdered in Colombia since 1984 — including 79 priests and 2 bishops — for the crime of advocating on behalf of the poor.
One brave Colombian Liberation Priest, Father Javier Giraldo sent a letter in September of 2011 to the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia, P. Michael McKinley, imploring him to prevail upon President Barack Obama to reconsider his decision to release millions of dollars in military aid to Colombia in light its abysmal human rights record.
In this letter, Father Giraldo informed the Ambassador that Colombian military’s directive known as EJC 3-10 – a directive based upon General Yarborough’s 1962 recommendation to organize paramilitary groups – is still very much in effect today in the form of paramilitary groups which both the U.S. and Colombian governments attempt to dismiss as mere criminal bands known as “BACRIM.”
According to Father Giraldo, these neo-paramilitary groups, as before, continue to work “in close harmony with the Army and Police” to carry out crimes against humanity, including forced displacement, with the number of internally displaced people in Colombia now at over 6 million; extra-judicial killings which have resulted in the proliferation of mass graves throughout Colombia; and “the systematic crime of forced disappearances, which according to national and international agencies now affects more than 50,000 families.”
And, he also places the responsibility for these continued abuses firmly at the feet of the U.S. Thus, Father Giraldo informs the U.S. ambassador that “[t]he current commanders take part in the same immunity, and impunity and the assistance from your government only reinforces their criminal activity.”
As Father Giraldo explains, the U.S.’s military/paramilitary policy is part and parcel of an unjust economic policy which allows for the unconstrained penetration of Colombia by multinational corporations at the expense of the Colombian people. He states:
The permits issued for mining exploitation to numerous transnational businesses have activated paramilitaries and armed conflict tremendously. They are leaving huge populations of poor people without any land or resources. The destruction of the environment and the destruction of indigenous, campesino and Afro-Colombian communities by these projects are leading to every kind of resistance. This means that the security of these companies and of their destructive projects is only effective with the protection of enormous contingents of paramilitaries secretly co-opted by the armed forces and by the government security agencies, which do not hesitate to murder the leaders of the resistance.
Father Giraldo further describes:
The permanent genocide that is being carried out in Buenaventura, where the neighborhoods and the Community Councils around the port are being invaded by paramilitaries supported or tolerated by the armed forces. They cut people in pieces with horrifying cruelty throwing the body parts in to the sea, if any of them dare to resist the megaproject for the new port. This included the expulsion of people living in the poorest areas and it includes the expropriation of the plots of garbage dumps where these people, in the midst of their misery, have over decades tried to survive.
Not surprisingly, Father Giraldo’s prophetic voice fell on deaf ears, and Obama proceeded with the release of the military aid to Colombia. And, it is the deathly silence over the horrifying human rights situation in Colombia which allows the U.S. to continue its destructive military/economic policy in that country.
Smyrna, GA — After killing Nicholas Thomas on March 24, 2015, under questionable circumstances at the Goodyear store where he was on the job, Smyrna Police Sgt. Kenneth Owens was cleared of any wrongdoing — and is now being promoted to Lieutenant.
“In a release sent to 11Alive News on Tuesday, the Smyrna Police Department confirmed that Owens is being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant effective Monday, February 15, 2016,” the local NBC affiliate reported; and according to that statement, “Sgt. Owens is eligible and qualified for this position as prescribed by departmental policy.”
Considering the questions still surrounding Thomas’ death, his family — as well as many others in the community and elsewhere — would likely beg to differ.
Thomas was working at the Atlanta Goodyear Service Center, when Owens and several other officers came to serve a warrant for an alleged probation violation by the young father — reportedly over traffic violations. Startled by those officers appearance at his workplace, Thomas reportedly jumped into a customer’s Maserati to flee.
“The suspect drove his car toward officers, putting officers in fear for their lives, at which time the officers fired into the vehicle, shooting the suspect,” said Smyrna Police Sgt. Ed Cason the following day, as 11Alive reported at the time.
However, questions arose when the Cobb County Medical Examiner found the bullet had entered Thomas in his upper right back — hardly the location or entry point one would expect if an officer fired into a vehicle because he thought it would run him over.
“Of all the officers there, only one felt his life was threatened,” said Thomas’ family lawyer Mawuli Davis, as The Free Thought Project previously reported. “Unless a car can travel sideways, I don’t know how you can be in fear for your life.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Cobb County Police Department both asserted the fatal shooting was “justified under the facts and the law.”
That fear of an imminent threat to an officer’s life — the justification for and cause of subsequent no-fault finding in this incident — appear to have been based on Owens’ hypothetical assessment of what Thomas was planning to do.
As Thomas careened around the store’s parking lot, looking for a way out since officers had blocked the only vehicle entry and exit point, Owens and other police jumped out of the way — but he claimed he feared an approaching officer might be struck by the vehicle if Thomas rounded the corner of the store quickly, so he decided to open fire.
Despite these lingering questions surrounding the killing of Thomas, as well as a seemingly loose interpretation of Georgia law, Sgt. Owens will soon be promoted to Lt. Owens — apparently indicating a continuing of the trend of impunity under any circumstances for police in the United States.
And why not? Cops ‘fearing for their lives’ and then killing fleeing motorists seems to be the norm in Police State USA.
Seneca Police Lt. Mark Tiller made the same assertion when he shot and killed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond over the possession of a small amount of marijuana. Officer Ray Tensing was caught on video killing Sam Dubose in a similar fashion. In September, cellphone footage was released showing police murdering 33-year-old John Barry, a mentally ill man who attempted to flee from police during a breakdown.
One of the most disgusting examples of cops claiming to fear for their lives as cars drive off is the case of Officers Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse, Jr., who, in November, opened fire on a car occupied by 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis, killing him and severely injuring his father.
The governor’s office in Isparta, southwestern Turkey, has reportedly sent a request to all state institutions in the province instructing staff to report cases of “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other top officials straight to the police.
Insulting the president is considered a crime in Turkey and the punishment can be up to four years in jail.
“According to Articles 299 and 125 of the Turkish Penal Code [TCK], an action must be taken for the posts [on social media] including insults against our president and other senior government officials, which have increased lately in direct proportion to the increase in terror activities in our country,” the notification, signed by Isparta Deputy Governor Fevzi Güneş on behalf of Isparta Governor Vahdettin Özkan, stated, Today’s Zaman reported.
The government began its crackdown on Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), outlawed by Ankara, last July. Turkey’s authorities maintain those killed during the security operation in the southeast were all PKK members. According to Turkish human rights groups, however, more than 160 civilians were killed during the government offensive.
President Erdogan has publicly vowed to continue the operation until the area is cleansed of Kurdish militants. Kurds have long been campaigning for the right to self-determination and greater autonomy in Turkey, where they are the largest ethnic minority.
In mid-Januray, Turkey arrested over a dozen academics for signing a declaration denouncing Ankara’s military operations against Kurdish militants. The move came after over 1,200 scholars were under investigation for criticizing the Turkish State. They were accused of allegedly participating in “terrorist propaganda” after signing a declaration condemning military operations against Kurdish rebels in the southeast. Erdogan described the group of academics as “poor excuses for intellectuals.” He insisted human rights violations in the southeast of the country were being carried out by referring to the Kurdish rebels, not by the state.
The day after Erdogan urged prosecutors to investigate academics, who signed the declaration criticizing military action in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP), called the Turkish president “a dictator.”
In January, a local Turkish court dismissed Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appeal against Kilicdaroglu. The Turkish president was seeking damages after the opposition party leader called him a “thief.” Erdogan’s lawyers demanded 200,000 Turkish lire ($66,000) in damages, saying this was an “attack on his personal rights.”
On Monday, an Ankara court sentenced another Turkish politician Hüseyin Aygün, a former deputy from the CHP party, to 14 months in prison for “publicly insulting” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Aygün rejected all accusations, Haber Turk reported.
The Republican People’s Party has repeatedly accused the government of using counter-terror laws to persecute journalists, saying 156 were arrested in 2015, with 484 legal actions launched against journalists and 774 fired during the year.
Aygün was sentenced to nine months in jail for “inciting people to enmity or hatred or denigration,” Müslim Sarı, another former CHP deputy, wrote on his Twitter.
“This ruling is clear evidence that there [is] no freedom of thought and expression in Turkey and judicial independence has ended too,” Sarı said in another tweet.
Late last month, a Turkish court sentenced a female teacher to almost a year in prison for making a rude gesture at Erdogan (when he was prime minister) at a political rally in 2014.
“The situation for freedom of expression is at an all-time low,” Andrew Gardner, Amnesty’s Turkey researcher, told the Times. “Countless unfair criminal cases have been brought, including under defamation and anti-terrorism laws — even children have been remanded in pre-trial detention,” he said.
The tunnels are a lifeline for those who live in the beseiged Gaza Strip as they are used to smuggle vital supplies
Director of Political-Military Affairs at Israel’s Defence Ministry Amos Gilad revealed today that the United States has contributed over $100 million to an Israeli-US technology research project aimed at identifying and locating tunnels on the Gaza Strip border.
In an interview with Army Radio this morning, Gilad stated that intelligence information suggests that there are no such tunnels leading into Israeli territory at the moment.
Defence Ministry official Shalom Gantzer dispelled the fears of Israelis living around the Gaza Strip who have claimed to hear digging noises under their houses, saying that these noises are coming from an electric generator.
Israel’s Channel 10 showed interviews on Saturday with those living near the Gaza border area who had recorded the noises with their mobile phones. They claimed that these noises were the sounds of tunnels being dug from Gaza.
Activist Sergio Chorolque was hit with charges just days after his mother was ordered to remain behind bars
Human rights advocates that support Chorolque have alleged the charges are motivated by him and his mother’s activism. | Photo: Diario Veloz
The son of a prominent Argentine indigenous activist was charged Saturday on allegations his advocates say are politically motivated.
Sergio Chorolque is accused of issuing death threats to a municipal worker, and could face up to two years imprisonment.
Human rights advocates that support Chorolque have alleged the charges are motivated by his and his mother’s activism.
Chorolque’s mother Milagro Sala has already been described by some human rights activists as the first political prisoner of the new government of President Mauricio Macri.
The well-known indigenous leader, founder of the 70,000 member Tupac Amaru organization, was arrested on January 16 in the Jujuy on charges of inciting violence after protesting in a month-long sit in against Governor Gerardo Morales, who ordered her arrest.
A judge cleared Sala of those charges on Friday, but before she walked out of jail she was handed down a new set of accusations and ordered to stay behind bars while investigations into charges of “illicit association, fraud, and extortion” are launched at the request of the Jujuy government, local media reported.
As authorities peg various charges on the popular social leader, now one of Sala’s children has been charged with leveling death threats against a labor activist.
According to the conservative Argentine newspaper La Nacion, Morales has had a tense and “estranged” relationship with Sala for years. Morales has also had an antagonistic relationship with the social organizations and collectives with which Sala is aligned. Before her arrest, Sala was protesting in support of various organizations at risk of losing their legal status and social benefits after Morales threatened to suspend them via decree.