An Argentine court sentenced former General Luciano Benjamin Menendez to life in prison Thursday for crimes against humanity committed at secret Dirty War-era detention centers in the late 1970s, making a landmark step in the struggle for justice for human rights abuses during one of the darkest chapters in the South American country’s history.
Menendez stood trial with 42 other defendants who will also be sentenced today after a nearly four year so-called “mega-trial” involving events related to over 700 victims.
The general was in charge of two clandestine jails, known as La Perla and La Ribera, in the province of Cordoba where torture, assassinations, and other human rights abuses were carried out during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. He was charged with over 600 cases of torture, over 300 murders and forced disappearances, unlawful detentions, and other crimes against humanity committed at the two detention centers between 1976 and 1978.
Thousands of people, including the families of victims and social movements such as the iconic Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, filled the streets outside of the federal court in the province of Cordoba to await the announcement under the banner of remembering the 30,000 disappeared during the dictatorship.
Former military intelligence agent Arnoldo Jose Lopez, former military man Ernesto Guillermo Barreiro, and former military captain Hector Pedro Vergez were also found to be among the principle masterminds responsible for the abuses and sentenced to life in jail for charges of hundreds of aggravated homicides, among other crimes.
Ricardo Alberto Lardone and Oreste Valentin Padovan, both considered among the special command at La Perla responsible for carrying out torture and kidnappings, were also sentenced to life in jail.
A total of 28 of the 43 accused were handed life sentences, nine were sentenced to up to 21 years, and six were acquitted.
The case was also historic for marking the first time a court in Cordoba tried charges of illegal apprension of babies during the dictatorship, a military practice of stealing babies from political dissidents, detainees, and victims of forced disappearance and handing them over the families linked to the military regime. The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo has struggled for nearly 40 years to identify their missing grandchildren and reunite them with their families.
The La Perla case dealt with forced disappearance of Silvina Monica Parodi de Orozco, who was over six months pregnant when she and her husband Daniel Francisco Orozco were kidnapped. Silvina’s mother Sonia Torres is still searching for her missing grandchild, whose whereabouts has never been known.
The landmark trial brought together 21 separate cases of crimes against humanity at the hands of the Argentine military, police, and paramilitary forces immediately leading up to and in the years after the 1976 military coup against left-wing President Isabel Peron. The case heard some 600 witnesses provide testimony over the course of 350 hearings related to the 716 victims. Less than half, 340, of the victims survived. Most of the others, 311, were disappeared with no documentation of what happened to them, and the rest were killed.
La Perla was the second most important detention center in the country in the early years of the military dictatorship. Between 2,500 and 3,000 victims of state terrorism were detained at the secret military prison between 1976 and 1977, and it is though to have stopped operating by 1978, according to local media.
A 1979 U.S. Department of State memo included in a batch of over 1,000 pages of recently-declassifed documents related to Argentina’s Dirty War reveals that the U.S. Embassy was aware that “physical torture” was practiced at La Perla in 1976 and 1977. A 1978 State Department recommendation memo to then-President Jimmy Carter characterized General Menendez as as a “hardline general,” and another document indicated that Menendez was pushing for “continued strong efforts to battle ‘ideological subversion.'”
Argentina’s U.S.-backed Dirty War disappeared an estimated 30,000 victims in its brutal state terrorism campaign against suspected political dissidents, which involved systematic forced disappearances, torture, rape, and assassinations. Argentine human rights groups have dubbed the bloody era a “genocide” against political dissidents.
As the Colombian government and left-wing FARC rebels near the signing of a comprehensive peace accord, and though they have already signed a bi-lateral ceasefire which is largely holding, Colombia is still suffering from the worst human rights abuses in the Western Hemisphere. These abuses are being carried out by right-wing paramilitary groups (aka, death squads), which the U.S. and Colombian governments conveniently deny even exist.
These paramilitary groups, in accord with their long-time friend and ally, former President Alvaro Uribe, are openly and aggressively opposed to the peace accords, and will most certainly escalate their violence as a national referendum which will be held to ratify, or reject, these accords draws near. Thus, as Insight Crime recently reported, the Colombian Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) estimates that nearly 250 municipalities (or more than 25% of the 1,105 municipalities in all of Colombia) “are at risk of violence or fraud affecting the referendum on an anticipated peace deal” with the FARC. The departments of Choco, Arauca, Cauca and Putumayo – that is, departments with heavy concentrations of Afro-Colombians and indigenous – are among the departments with the greatest risk. Antioquia, the department of Alvaro Uribe who was governor there, has the greatest number of municipalities at risk.
Meanwhile, the paramilitaries are already exploiting the opportunity presented by the FARC’s ceasefire to gain territory and exact more advantage for the economic elites – both domestic and foreign – which they serve.
For starters, Colombia again, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), suffered more assassinations of trade unionists than any country on earth in 2015, and therefore earned its spot as one of the 10 worst countries in the world for workers’ rights. As the ITUC explains in its annual report: “Trade unionists have been murdered with impunity for decades in Colombia. In 2015, 20 murders of trade unionists were recorded in Colombia – the highest number in any country.” And, not surprisingly, it is the paramilitaries who are carrying out such assassinations in the interest of capital.
In addition, 35 human rights defenders have already been killed in the first half of 2016. This is an incredible figure. Indeed, according to Colombia’s El Espectador, this year has been “one of the most violent in regards to the murder of human rights defenders and land claimants,” with the paramilitaries being the perpetrators of these crimes. Indeed, one of the chief perpetrators of the violence, particularly against those advocating for the return of land stolen during the armed conflict, is the paramilitary group known as the “Anti-Restitution of Land Army.” This group has been reinvigorated by the release from jail of infamous paramilitary leader Jose Gregorio Mongonez Lugo, also known as “Carlos Scissors.” He was responsible in the first place for the violent theft of land in the banana region of Magdelena, Colombia, and has now returned to make sure that it is not given back to its rightful owners.
All of this bodes very badly for the prospects of peace in Colombia. And indeed, one of Colombia’s great human rights defenders, Father Javier Giraldo, S.J., recently penned a sobering piece on this very subject, entitled, “Peace in Colombia?” This article was translated by the Colombia Support Network, and is well-worth a read, especially as you will never hear a voice such as his in the mainstream press.
As Father Giraldo opines, despite the progress of the peace talks in Havana which are quickly nearing a conclusion, “the country is profoundly polarized by the growth and the growing power of extreme right-wing forces. It appears as if the forces of the Cold War are coming back to life, powered by the monstrous economic strength of multinational businesses that are rapidly defending their exclusionary interests, using their extremely powerful resources.”
Father Giraldo rightly notes that the Colombian government, while paying lip-service to peace, in fact seeks the surrender and ultimate destruction of both the guerillas as well as Colombia’s peaceful forces for social change. As he explains:
… the methods of persuasion that have been used to promote the peace agreements rely mostly on the practical impossibility of achieving social change by means of armed conflict, given the gigantic and overwhelming military power of the government, supported by the imperial power with the greatest destructive reach in the recent history of humanity: the United States. . . . President Santos has instead, above all, on a peace that will benefit business leaders and transnational investors, who will be able to intensify their extraction of natural resources. But meanwhile his government represses with cruel violence the social protests of communities affected by the ecological and social destruction that has been caused and continues to be caused by these multinational companies.
Father Giraldo then expresses a seldom-uttered truth which I have certainly learned upon my numerous trips to Colombia in the past 17 years – that while the paramilitaries oppose the peace process because it will grant some immunity for rebels, the “popular movements feel more fear of the impunity of the powerful and of the paramilitaries and the agents of the government, whose war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide greatly exceed, both in quality and in cruelty, the crimes of the insurgency.”
And, it is the impunity for the right-wing paramilitaries, who now control large swaths of the Colombian government, which is nearly total. And again, this impunity is made possible by the Colombian and U.S. governments’ denial of the very existence of the paramilitaries, as well as the mainstream media’s near total silence about Colombia and its horrible human rights situation – certainly the worst in the Western Hemisphere. If peace in Colombia has any chance of succeeding, it will need to be supported and cultivated by people of good will throughout the world who are willing to tell the truth about Colombia and who are willing to provide accompaniment to the peace process.
Abu Zubaydah © wikipedia.org
A Guantanamo detainee, who the CIA tortured as a suspected top leader of Al-Qaeda but never officially charged, has made his case for release. Abu Zubaydah appeared in public for the first time in 14 years of his detention.
His first-ever hearing was made via video feed from Washington’s Cuba-based prison and on his behalf. Addressing a Periodic Review Board through a uniformed soldier who read his message, Zubaydah said that he “has no desire or intent to harm the United States or any other country.”
“He has been respectful to us in all of our meetings and dealings with him, and he has come to believe that he might have a chance to leave Guantanamo through this process,” his opening statement reads.
He said he would want “to be reunited with his family” while also “begin the process of recovering from injuries he sustained during his capture” in Pakistan in 2002.
“He has some seed money that could be used to start a business after he is reintegrated into society and is living a peaceful life,” his representative read.
A Saudi-born Palestinian, Zubaydah is one of three men that the CIA has admitted to have waterboarded at an unknown prison in Thailand.
According to the so-called “torture report” released in 2014, Zubaydah was the first prisoner to endure the harsh CIA interrogation program.
After Zubaydah was turned over to US custody, he was subjected to 83 waterboarding sessions, the torture technique that creates the sensation of drowning. He was also placed in a coffin-sized box for a total of 266 hours (11 days, two hours) over a 20-day period. Additionally, he was forced to remain in another small confinement box (21 inches wide, 2.5 feet in length) for 29 hours.
After being brutally interrogated, Zubaydah was transported to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where he remains today.
Two former CIA psychologists, and creators of the CIA torture program, admitted that Zubaydah was also stripped naked, confined and that his cell was lit by halogen lamps 24 hours a day for a period of time.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Washington [alleges to have] falsely believed that Zubaydah was a key Al-Qaeda leader in the lead-up to the attacks. Since then, his status in US documents reportedly changed to a “well-known al-Qaeda facilitator.”
According to his profile, he also “possibly” knew about bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the USS Cole bombing in 2000.
However, despite 14 years passing since his brutal capture, Zubaydah has not been officially charged.
It us up to the Periodic Review Board to decide whether a prisoner would pose a danger if released. The decision on his transfer is expected in about 30 days.
Until this Tuesday’s hearing, Zubaydah has not made a single public appearance and has only been seen by his lawyer.
The open statement in a Pentagon room lasted reportedly for less than 20 minutes and was followed by a classified part of it. Zubaydah decided he did not want a transcript of his secret hearing being publicly released.
Hearings at the Periodic Review Board have been held more often recently as the Obama administration is trying to stand by the president’s pledge to close Guantanamo by the end of this presidential term. Unable to shut down President George W. Bush’s facility due to opposition from Congress and the military, Obama has been pushing to transfer out detainees cleared for release.
Last week saw the largest single release of 15 prisoners, all of whom were sent to the United Arab Emirates.
There are currently 61 captives remaining in the Guantanamo Bay.
Until as recently as last year, Peru’s national police force harbored a “death squad” that is responsible for the extrajudicial killings of at least 20 people over a four-year period – even at times offering sworn officers bounties to kill criminal suspects, according to an official government investigation of systemic police misconduct.
In an executive summary that reads like the script of a Dirty Harry movie, the Interior Ministry’s report found “serious indications” that both high-ranking and low-level officers of the national police force “falsified intelligence information” to misrepresent at least six cases involving some 20 slayings as the justified result of confrontations with armed suspects, when in fact they were summary executions carried out by police, according to a summary of the report Monday by Vice Minister of Internal Order Ruben Vargas.
The report did not disclose the identities of the officers suspected of participating in the death squad, but Vargas did reveal that the operation was headed by a police colonel who was subsequently promoted to general.
Local media revealed the scandal over three weeks ago after department whistleblowers brought the allegations to light, prompting an investigation. The new report will now be handed over to prosecutors specialized in organized crime to open a case.
Minister of Interior Carlos Basombrio, newly-appointed under President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and inaugurated at the end of July, claimed that the evidence suggests that a group of high-ranking police officials who moved between divisions are responsible for running the death squad, and that no single police force unit itself is compromised.
Authorities also revealed that several of the officers involved in the scandal were decorated for their so-called “distinguished” achievements within the force last year. A months-long internal police investigation already found that at least two officers were promoted during the period in which they are suspected of participating in the death squad. The Investigator General intervened in the internal probe and took over the investigation over three weeks ago.
Local media report that the death squad, allegedly made up of nearly 100 officers across four units of the national police force, is suspected of carrying out the murders of 27 Peruvian civilians between 2011 and 2015 in the cities of LIma, Ica, and Chiclayo.
Media previously suggested that the 27 victims were common criminals, but the new report found that 11 victims “didn’t even have a criminal record or a warrant to justify them being identified as targets of police interventions,” according to the Interior Ministry.
The confirmation of the extrajudicial killings by the police recalls a dark history of death squads run by state security forces in the South American country that were aimed at wiping out armed left-wing guerrilla movements particularly under the reign of jailed former dictator Alberto Fujimori.
Samidoun international coordinator denied entry to Palestine, interrogated about BDS and prisoner solidarity
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network international coordinator Charlotte Kates was denied entry to Palestine at the King Hussein Bridge crossing from Jordan to occupied Palestine on Monday, 15 August, as she attempted to join a delegation of European parliamentarians and lawyers in support of Bilal Kayed and the Palestinian prisoners. Kayed, 34, has been on hunger strike for 69 days against his administrative detention without charge or trial; nearly 100 fellow prisoners have joined his strike against his imprisonment, imposed upon him immediately following his completion of a 14.5-year sentence in Israeli prisons.
When Kates presented her U.S. passport at the passport control line, it was taken from her and she was told to wait for further questioning. Along with multiple other travelers to Palestine and, especially, Palestinians holding international passports as well as those holding PA passports, she waited for hours at the bridge for a period interspersed with interrogations about her purpose in the country and participation in Palestine prisoner solidarity and BDS activism.
“I was asked about the websites I maintain, asked to allow the interrogator to access my email conversation with others, and asked to write up lists of names of people I know in Lebanon and in Palestine and lists of organizations with which I work. The interrogator attempted to look through my phone to find my contacts and to seek out WhatsApp chats and repeatedly demanded that I log in to my email or social media accounts and allow her access. As my phone was completely clear of any contact information and I refused to access any accounts or provide lists of names, this became a ‘reason’ to deny me entry. However, other travelers at the bridge were also subject to these searches and questioned about their personal photos and WhatsApp chats. In particular, people were questioned about wearing hijab in photos or being in contact with visibly Arab or Muslim friends,” said Kates.
“I was interrogated about my involvement with Samidoun and organizing around Palestinian political prisoners, and whether my visit to Palestine had anything to do with Bilal Kayed in particular, clearly a matter of concern to the Israeli interrogator,” said Kates. “Furthermore, in light of the recent announcements regarding ‘crackdowns’ on BDS activists entering Palestine, I was specifically interrogated regarding speeches and lectures I have given regarding boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, support for the BDS call and involvement with Israeli Apartheid Week.”
“This was not about personally targeting me; it was an attempt to target the growing international solidarity movement to support Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people’s liberation struggle, and an attempt to further isolate Palestinian prisoners from the people of the world,” Kates said. “Furthermore, my experience of prolonged interrogation and being held for hours at the bridge pales next to the experience of Palestinians being denied their basic right to enter their own homeland – part and parcel of the denial of the fundamental right of return – and subject to harsh interrogation, being deported for carrying international passports, and being subjected to cruel and degrading treatment at the border.”
“During just my own time at the bridge, I encountered numerous Palestinians facing enormous delays and aggressive interrogation, Palestinians denied entry to their own homeland, and Palestinians presented with ‘limited-access’ entry permits prohibiting them from visiting Jerusalem. I encountered a family from Gaza who had one of the rare permits to exit via Erez/Beit Hanoun and then the bridge to Jordan to see family members. As they had studied in the US and UK, they were questioned by border guards as to why they wished to return to Gaza at all, rather than staying in another country. Border control and interrogation is part and parcel of the system of Israeli colonization and dispossession separating Palestinians from their land and seeking to force even more Palestinians outside their homeland. It is part of the same system that denies millions of Palestinians their right to return and attempts to continue the Nakba on an ongoing basis,” said Kates.
“At the same time, I also witnessed numerous holders of international passports singled out for their names, visibly Muslim or Arab appearance, or travels to Arab countries, and subject to degrading and offensive interrogations regarding their religion and personal relationships,” Kates noted. … Full article
Palestinian women prisoners are declaring their intention to launch a series of protests over mistreatment of their relatives during family visits, Ma’an News reported on Thursday. In particular, Riyad al-Ashqar of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies noted that family visits are frequently denied, cut short or delayed and visitors forced to undergo strip searches.
Lena Jarbouni, the elected representative of the 42 women held in HaSharon prison, stated that the women will protest so long as their families continue to experience lengthy waits in the sun, humiliating strip searches, repeatedly altered visitation schedules and prohibition of clothing for the prisoners and other necessary items. Several women prisoners, including Ansam Shawahneh, 19, have been completely denied family visits. There are currently approximately 60 Palestinian women held in HaSharon and Damon prisons.
On Thursday, Ofer Military Court ordered Taghreed al-Faqih, 44, from Dura near al-Khalil, imprisoned for two months and fined 5000 NIS (approximately $1100 USD) for “incitement.” Al-Faqih, the sister of Mohammed al-Faqih, extrajudicially executed by Israeli forces who bulldozed and fired a missile into his home, was arrested after her brother’s killing on 12 July 2016.
On Monday, 15 August, Randa Ahati of al-Khalil was released on bail to house imprisonment in her home in Yatta until her next court date. A former prisoner held for nearly four years in Israeli prison, she was arrested by occupation forces while traveling between Bethlehem and al-Khalil.
Sana Abdelrahman Nayef Abu Sneineh, 24, from Dura near al-Khalil, was released on 15 August after six months in administrative detention. She was arrested on 17 February by Israeli occupation soldiers invading her home in a pre-dawn raid, accusing her of posting “inciting” material on Facebook. She was ordered to three months’ administrative detention without charge or trial, which was then renewed for an additional three months.
Two women remain in administrative detention without charge or trial, among nearly 750 Palestinians in total: Sabah Feroun, imprisoned since 19 June after an invasion of her Jerusalem home by Israeli occupation forces and ordered to six months in administrative detention, and Haneen Abdelqader Amer, 39, from Tulkarem, imprisoned since 27 March and accused of “incitement” on social media but ordered imprisoned without charge or trial.
A human rights body has found that Mexican police killed nearly two dozen civilians in “arbitrary executions” during a raid against a drug cartel in the country’s troubled west last year.
The independent National Human Rights Commission said in a report on Thursday that the massacre happened in the federal police raid against the Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel in the western state of Michoacan on May 22, 2015.
Police officers committed “violations of the right to life by excessive use of force that entailed the arbitrary execution of 22 civilians,” the commission said.
Meanwhile, commission chief Ismael Eslava said the government forces also perpetrated “aggravated acts of torture on two people who were detained.”
According to the commission report, forensic investigations indicated police had moved the bodies of those killed in the raid and placed guns next to them in an attempt to cover up the crime.
It also noted that a police helicopter fired 4,000 rounds into the farm where the suspects were hiding.
Responding to the document, Renato Sales, the chairman of Mexico’s National Security Committee, rejected the characterization of arbitrary executions and defended the actions of police.
He said the shooting erupted when the suspects refused to drop their weapons. “We do not think the theory of arbitrary executions stands up.”
The government said previously that the helicopter had fired to contain the suspects. It also said that the 42 people killed by police had attacked officers.
The commission report concluded that a total of 43 people were killed in the security operation, including one policeman and numerous suspected criminals, but only 22 of them were deemed arbitrary executions by police.
The commission also found fault with the actions of investigators from the Michoacan Attorney General’s Office, who mishandled ballistics evidence. Medical examiners likewise came under criticism for irregularities in the autopsies and delays in the return of bodies to their families.
The incident is considered as one of the bloodiest battles in the Mexican government’s decade-long campaign against powerful drug gangs across the Latin American state.
Official figures show that more than 35,000 people are currently missing in the country due to drug-related violence, which has also claimed thousands of lives over the past few years.
Police corruption, drug cartels and organized crime are the greatest challenges facing Mexico.
A gay black man was brutally attacked by five men in 2013 and has spent the last three years fighting for justice. Unfortunately, he may never see it. Two of five Hasidic neighborhood patrolmen have been sentenced, but will spend no time in jail.
On Tuesday, two men charged with gang assault, punishable by up to 25 years in prison, walked away with a sentence of community service and three-year probation for an attack that left 24-year-old Taj Patterson blind in his left eye.
Pinchas Braver, 22, and Abraham Winkler, 42, were two of five men that assaulted Patterson.
Whether Patterson was attacked for being gay or black or a combination, he’ll never know.
“I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m black. I’m gay, a whole slew of reasons,” Patterson told the Gothamist.
Patterson was walking through South Williamsburg when he was stopped by five members of the neighborhood patrol group known as the Shomrim. Patterson told the New York Daily News it was about 4:00am when the men knocked him down, shouting, “Stay down, f****t!”
Multiple people claim to have seen the attack.
Evelyn Keys, an MTA bus driver, intervened when she saw what was happening. She described the jackets the men were wearing to the Daily News in May, saying, “I know the first letter is an ‘S.’ Under those three letters there was a word that started with an ‘S.’”
“That wasn’t a misdemeanor,” she said.
Mariano Ortiz, 33, told the Daily Mail that his attempt to photograph the attackers’ license plates nearly ended with him being mowed down.
“One of [them] tried to hit me,” Ortiz said.
Despite the witnesses, the case faced a number of hurdles before even being investigated. Patterson attempted to report the attack to the police, but was dismayed to discover that it had been closed a day later. The report said that Patterson was attacked by only one man and claimed that Patterson was “highly intoxicated, uncooperative and incoherent.”
Patterson believes that racial issues factored into their decision, telling the Daily Mail, “I think they saw this black kid . . . and they might have seen the Jewish guys and thought he must have done something wrong because the Jewish guys wouldn’t do anything wrong.”
It took his mother, Zahra, to contact media sources for the attack to be investigated.
Israeli army withdraws from Al-Fawwar, after killing one Palestinian, injuring 59, and searching dozens of homes
The Israeli army withdrew, late on Tuesday at night, from the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, after concluding a massive military invasion, leading to the death of one Palestinian, while at least 59 others have been injured and dozens of homes invaded and ransacked.
Dr. Waleed Zalloum, the general director of the Hebron Governmental hospital, said 38 Palestinians were moved to the medical center, and that most of them were shot in their legs, thighs and arms.
Zalloum added that one Palestinian, identified as Mohammad Yousef Saber Abu Hashhash, 17, was fatally shot in the chest and died shortly after being moved to a hospital.
Dozens of residents, including many children and elderly, suffered severe effects of tear gas inhalation, and received the needed treatment.
Dr. Yousef Takrouri, the general director of the Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, said five Palestinians were moved to the medical center; all were shot with live rounds, four in the legs and one in the chest.
In addition, one Palestinian was moved to the Rafidia Hospital, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, after the soldiers shot him with an expanding bullet in the leg, and another was moved to a hospital in Ramallah, when the soldiers shot him with a similar round in his left shoulder.
Many Palestinian families said the soldiers violently invaded their homes and searched them, and accused the military of stealing gold and cash during the searches.
Amjad Najjar, the head of the Hebron office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the soldiers invaded his home in the al-Fawwar refugee camp, before forcing him and his family in one room, and violently searched the property, causing excessive damage.
Najjar added that the soldiers stole gold and cash from the family home, and that the search of the property lasted for more than four hours.
During the invasion into the refugee camp, the soldiers conducted home-to-home searches, causing excessive property damage, in addition to interrogating dozens of families and photographing them.
The Israeli invasion into the camp was initiated at dawn, Tuesday; the army said it was looking for weapons and claimed that the soldiers “located two pistols, one commando knife, sound bombs and dozens of live rounds.
RAMALLAH – Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) carried out a large-scale arrest campaign against over 20 members and leader of Hamas Movement in the West Bank.
Local sources revealed that Israeli soldiers arrested the Hamas leader Hussein Abu Kuwaik, representative of Hamas in the central elections committee.
The arrest of the Hamas leader Kuwaik came just one day after the committee had announced opening of registration for candidature in the electoral lists of the committee which reflects Israeli targeting of the Movement and the lists it supports.
The sources also reported that the IOF soldiers broke into the home of the Hamas leader Jamal Abu al-Haija in addition to the homes of three of his sons.
The forces also confiscated the contents of his son’s electronic devices shop as well as appliances inside the homes.
The Israeli forces stormed the house after midnight by blowing up its main door, Abu al-Haija’s son said.
They gathered the family members in one room and interrogated all of them.
Clashes erupted after the storming of Abu al-Haija’s home in Jenin city and in its refugee camp.
Arrests also took place in al-Khalil, Ramallah and other locations in Jenin city after the storming of Palestinians’ homes and confiscation of computers and other property of the arrested.
BETHLEHEM – Israeli police have closed their investigation into the death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein — who died in 2014 after being beaten by Israeli forces — concluding that he had died of natural causes, Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva reported on Wednesday.
According to Arutz Sheva, an autopsy by the police department of internal investigations concluded that Abu Ein, 55, died of a heart attack on Dec. 10, 2014, after an Israeli border police officer beat him in the chest with his helmet and the butt of his rifle during a march to plant olive trees in the village of Turmusayya in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank.
Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, which represents Abu Ein’s family in the case, expressed its outrage at the police’s decision to close the case without ever interrogating the border policeman suspected of killing Abu Ein or asking him to testify.
“Most cases of Israeli violence against Palestinians are closed. But we expected that at least a proper investigation would take place,” Yesh Din spokesman Gilad Grossman told Ma’an on Wednesday. “This shows Israeli armed forces’ impunity when committing violence against Palestinian civilians.”
“They closed the case without talking to the border police officer,” Grossman added, despite the fact that “a number of soldiers who were there during the incident said that the border police officer was acting violently even before the altercation” with Abu Ein.
The internal investigations department reportedly justified the decision not to interrogate the policeman.
“Since policemen are authorized to use force and it is expected of them in many cases to use it, Internal Investigations will not summon a policeman for investigation if there is not a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed,” Arutz Sheva quoted the department as saying.
Grossman said that Abu Ein’s family had already filed an appeal to the Israeli Ministry of Justice.
“Our opinion is that internal affairs must investigate the acts of the border policeman during the altercation, even if his actions were not the direct cause of Abu Ein’s death,” he said. “At least, they need to investigate whether his actions were within the proper limits of police action.”
Abu Ein had worked with the Palestinian Authority monitoring Israeli settlements and the separation wall, and was a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. Abu Ein had also previously served as Palestinian deputy minister of prisoners’ affairs.
The Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs said a day after Abu Ein’s death that an autopsy carried out by a Palestinian forensics team revealed he had died after a powerful blow to the diaphragm and heavy use of tear gas, adding that he had also suffered from bruising on his neck, and several of his front teeth had been knocked out by a blow to his face.
At the time, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said that the case was “a clear example of how the culture of impunity granted to Israel by the international community permits it to continue committing crimes against the Palestinian people.”
The Israeli police’s decision to close its investigation in the case comes days after Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a report revealing that nearly all investigations opened over the killings of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli police in the past ten months were closed “without the unit investigating and questioning the officers.”
In a much-awaited step toward uncovering the historical truth of the U.S.-backed Dirty War in Argentina in the 1970’s and 80’s, the United States has delivered over 1,000 pages of classified documents to the South American country. But critics argue that there are major gaps in the files, including the exclusion of CIA documents, that keep in the dark important details of the extent of human rights violations and the U.S. role in such abuses.
The Argentine government delivered the newly-declassified documents to journalists and human rights organizations on Monday after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented the files to President Mauricio Macri during a state visit last week.
The 1,078 pages from 14 U.S. government agencies and departments are the first in a series of public releases over the next 18 months of declassified documents related to Argentina’s last military dictatorship, including Argentine Country Files, White House staff files, correspondence cables, and other archives, according to a statement from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The files include grisly descriptions of torture, rape, assassinations, and forced disappearances carried out by the military regime under General Jorge Rafael Videla, installed after the 1976 coup against left-wing President Isabel Peron.
The documents also detail Henry Kissinger’s applause of the Argentine dictatorship and its counterinsurgency strategy, including during a visit to General Videla during the 1978 World Cup. National Security staffer Robert Pastor wrote in 1978 that Kissinger’s “praise for the Argentine government in its campaign against terrorism was the music the Argentine government was longing to hear.”
Argentina’s so-called anti-terrorism policy was in reality a brutal crackdown on political dissidents, human rights defenders, academics, church leaders, students, and other opponents of the right-wing regime. It was also part of the regional U.S.-backed Operation Condor, a state terror operation that carried out assassinations and disappearances in support of South America’s right-wing dictatorships. In Argentina, up to 30,000 people were forcibly disappeared during the Dirty War.
The documents also detail how then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter raised concern over the human rights situation in Argentina, including in a letter to General Videla rather gently urging him to make progress with respect to human rights. At the time, Kissinger reportedly demonstrates a “desire to speak out against the Carter Administration’s human rights policy to Latin America,” according to a memo by National Security’s Pastor.
The further confirmation of Kissinger’s atrocious legacy in Latin America comes as U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton courts an endorsement from Kissinger, widely condemned as a war criminal by human rights groups.
However, despite the revealing details, the batch of documents is also lacking in key archives, the Argentine publication El Destape pointed out. The package does not include files from the CIA or the Defense Intelligence Agency, which specializes in military intelligence.
What’s more, although the documents were expected to cover the period of 1977 to 1982, the latest documents are dated 1981, which means that cables related to the 1982 Malvinas War between Argentina and Britain and the U.S. role in the conflict are not included.
The Macri administration hailed the release of the documents as the result of a “new foreign policy” that has steered the country to rekindle ties with the United States after former Presidents Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez championed anti-imperialist politics for 12 years. But the self-congratulatory government narrative ignores the fact that Argentine human rights organizations have demanded for years that the archives be released in a fight for historical truth that first bore fruit in 2002 with the release of over 4,500 U.S. documents.
Furthermore, Macri has come under fire for undermining investigations into dictatorship-era crimes after his sweeping austerity campaign scrapped departments charged with gathering historical evidence in certain public institutions. The Argentine president has also been criticized over his indirect ties to the military regime, which proved to hugely benefit his family business, the Macri Society, also known as Socma.
U.S. President Obama described the move as a response to the U.S. “responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency.” Obama announced plans to release documents related to the Dirty War during a visit with Macri in Argentina in March, which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the 1976 military coup.
Obama’s visit was widely criticized by human rights activists over the insensitivity of the timing. Although he announced plans for the United States to “do its part” with respect to uncovering historical truth about the dictatorship period, he did not apologize for the United States’ involvement in human rights abuses and widespread forced disappearance.