TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya’s new leaders said Tuesday that some prisoners held by revolutionary forces have been abused, but insisted the mistreatment was not systematic and pledged to tackle the problem.
The acknowledgment comes a day after the U.N. released a report a detailing alleged torture and ill treatment in lockups controlled by the forces that overthrew dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The report says that Libyan revolutionaries still hold about 7,000 people, many of them sub-Saharan Africans who are in some cases accused or suspected of being mercenaries hired by Gadhafi.
Libya’s new leaders, who received the backing of the U.S., France, Britain and other countries in their fight against Gadhafi, are eager to assure the world of their commitment to democracy and human rights.(***yes right!! in their dreams)Interior Minister Fawzy Abdul-Ali acknowledged that abuses have occurred but said the new government is trying to eliminate them.
“We are trying our best to establish a legitimate system that is authorized to make arrests, detain and interrogate people,” he told The Associated Press. “We are trying to minimize the possibilities of violations taking place.”
Abdul-Ali said the government plans to create special security units under the authority of the central government that will handle prisoners. Leaders are working to bolster “the authority of the new government all across the country,” he said.
Responding to the U.N. report, Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur also acknowledged there are problems with detainees.
“Are there illegal detentions in Libya? I am afraid there are,” Abushagur told a news conference. He said any abuses have been committed by militias not yet controlled by central authorities.
Libya’s new leaders have struggled to stamp their authority on the country since toppling Gadhafi’s regime. One of the greatest challenges still facing the leadership is how to rein in the dozens of revolutionary militias that arose during the war and now are reluctant to disband or submit to central authority.
Abushagur also denied some news reports claiming that Libyan leaders are arming rebels in Syria.
“We are with the Syrian people but we are not going to send fighters or arms,” he said.
Also Tuesday, dozens of people with relatives who went missing in Libya’s recent civil war rallied in front of the main government building to demand that authorities speed up the search for their loved ones.
Authorities have started trying to find and identify the missing but face many problems. For one, they need to build a DNA laboratory from scratch to match genetic material from living people with the remains in mass graves now spread across this large desert country.
The gold was escorted through Caracas by troops and armoured vehicles. It was unloaded from a plane and taken under heavy guard to the Central Bank in the capital, Caracas.
President Chavez has explained the move as an act of sovereignty that will protect Venezuela’s reserves from global economic turbulence. However, critics say it is expensive and unnecessary.
Venezuela plans to bring home around 160 tonnes of gold, worth more than $11bn (£7bn). “The gold is returning to where it was always meant to be: the vaults of the Central Bank of Venezuela,” Mr Chavez said.
Hundreds of troops lined the route to Caracas as a convoy of armoured security trucks, escorted by military vehicles, carried the bullion to the Bank.
Officials said the gold had come from European countries but did not say how much was in the first shipment, citing security concerns.
Central Bank chief, Nelson Merentes, said the return of the gold to Venezuela was a “historic act”. “It has historic value, it has symbolic value, and it has financial value,” he said. “The country’s finances will be backed by autonomous wealth, so we are not subject to pressure from anyone.”
Opposition groups have criticised the move as a populist measure aimed at boosting Mr. Chavez’s popularity ahead of next October’s presidential elections, when he is seeking another term in office.
Some critics have suggested that Mr Chavez is acting out of fears that Venezuela’s overseas assets could one day be frozen by sanctions, as happened to his friend and ally, Libyan leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi.
Propagandastan The Pentagon Is Spending Millions To Whitewash Central Asian dictatorships
Why is the Pentagon spending tens of millions of U.S. tax dollars to whitewash the image of Central Asian dictatorships?
By David Trilling
November 23, 2011 “
FP” — BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – When people read a news website, they don’t usually imagine that it is being run by a major producer of fighter jets and smart bombs. But when the Pentagon has its own vision of America‘s foreign policy, and the funds to promote it, it can put a $23 billion defense contractor in a unique position to report on the war on terror.
Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight “influence websites” funded by the Defense Department with more than $120 million in taxpayer money. The sites, collectively known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) and operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, focus on geographic areas under the purview of various U.S. combatant commands, including U.S. Central Command. In its coverage of Uzbekistan, a repressive dictatorship increasingly important to U.S. military goals in Afghanistan, a TRWI website called Central Asia Online has shown a disturbing tendency to downplay the autocracy’s rights abuses and uncritically promote its claims of terrorist threats.
Central Asia Online was created in 2008, a time when Washington’s ability to rely on Pakistan as a partner in the U.S.-led operation in Afghanistan was steadily waning. In the search for alternative land routes to supply U.S. troops, Uzbekistan seemed the best option. Nearby Iran was a non-starter, and Uzbekistan’s infrastructure — used by the Soviets to get in and out of Afghanistan during their ill-fated war there — was far superior to that of neighboring Tajikistan. Today, the U.S. military moves massive amounts of cargo across Uzbekistan. By year’s end, the Pentagon hopes to see 75 percent of all non-lethal military supplies arrive in Afghanistan via the so-called Northern Distribution Network, a web of land-based transport routes stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Amu Darya River.
Gas-rich Uzbekistan, the most populous of the formerly Soviet Central Asian republics, has been ruled since before independence in 1991 by strongman President Islam Karimov, who is regularly condemned in the West for running one of the world’s most repressive and corrupt regimes. Freedom House gives Uzbekistan the lowest possible score in its Freedom in the World report, while watchdog groups like Amnesty Internationaland Human Rights Watch have reported on widespread torture and forced child labor. The respected Russian human rights group Memorial saysKarimov holds more political prisoners than all other post-Soviet republics combined, often through an “arbitrary interpretation” of the law. The overwhelming majority of those convicted are somehow linked to Islam. Memorial has found that thousands of “Muslims whose activities pose no threat to social order and security are being sentenced on fabricated charges of terrorism and extremism.”
Nonetheless, with Pakistani-American relations at a desperate low, Washington now seems more eager than ever to make overtures to Tashkent. In the past, Karimov has responded to U.S. criticism by threatening to shut down the supply route to Afghanistan. In 2005, after Washington demanded an investigation into the massacre of hundreds of civilians in the eastern city of Andijan, he closed the American airbase at Karshi-Khanabad. So Washington’s expressions of disapproval have given way to praise. In September, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautiously commended Tashkent for its “progress” on political freedoms, and, more significantly, President Barack Obama moved to end restrictions on military aid, in place since 2004. Then, during an Oct. 22 visit to Tashkent, Clinton thanked the Uzbek leader in person for his cooperation. A State Department official traveling with her said he believed Karimov wants to leave a democratic legacy for “his kids and his grandchildren.”
Theoretically, with the restrictions lifted, General Dynamics stands to profit. The company has already shown interest in finding clients in Central Asia, hawking its wares at a defense exposition in Kazakhstan last year. This potential self-interest casts an unflattering light on Central Asia Online’s flattering coverage of the region’s calcified dictatorships, especially Uzbekistan.
Take a March story praising Tashkent’s effort to register religious groups. The story does not mention reputable organizations’ allegations about arbitrary arrests of Christians and Muslims from unregistered groups, but cites state-affiliated clergy lauding the country’s religious freedom and praises the feared security services for acting within the law. The story ends by saying, “Uzbekistan is doing everything necessary to ensure its citizens have the proper conditions to exercise freedom of conscience.”
That is patently not so, says John Kinahan of Forum 18, an Oslo-based religious freedom watchdog: “The only thing harmonious in Uzbekistan is a constant picture of violations of just about every human right you can name, which is certainly not producing any meaningful exchange of views of what is going on or how people relate to each other.”
Reasons for fear remain abundant. On Nov. 17, a closed court near Tashkent convicted 16 men of belonging to a banned Islamist group. Independent reports say they were tortured into signing confessions. The families are despondent, unsure how they will survive without their breadwinners, who were locked away for six to 12 years.
Sometimes the website downplays abuses even contrary to concerns expressed by the U.S. government. On Sept. 13, the State Department singled out Uzbekistan as a country “of particular concern” for religious freedom, noting “serious abuses” in the government’s “campaign against extremists or those participating in underground Islamic activity.” The day before the report was released, Central Asia Online ran a story defending Tashkent, entitled, “Uzbekistan fights terror, not religion, analysts say.” The story canvased members of state-sanctioned religious groups to paint a picture of tolerance inside the country, concluding, simplistically, that “most agree with the crackdown on terror.”
“It is not possible to have any independent surveys of what people think of the situation,” says Kinahan. “Uzbekistan is a serial human rights violator. People there have a well-founded fear of expressing their true opinions … it can be dangerous.”
Particularly in its coverage related to extremism and terrorism, Central Asia Online toes Tashkent’s line and simultaneously demonstrates a level of access unheard of for other Western information gatherers. Foreign reporters, including myself, are regularly denied visas. The few who get in must work undercover, pretending to be aid workers or tourists. Local journalists have little freedom, running the risk of arrest on trumped-up charges of spying or threatening security if they stray from official viewpoints. Meanwhile, respected foreign news outlets like the Associated Press are denied accreditation; websites considered critical of the government, such as Uznews.net and FerganaNews.com, are routinely blocked. Reporters Without Borders ranked Uzbekistan 163rd out of 178 countries in the organization’s 2010 Press Freedom Index and called the country an “Internet Enemy” this year. That Central Asia Online has seemingly unfettered access to the country’s feared secret police — the SNB — is alone suspicious, suggesting collusion, says an Uzbek journalist who has written secretly for foreign news organizations.
“It looks like the website has a special and close relationship with the Uzbek government,” he told me, responding to several Central Asia Online stories on extremism. “The authors have access to officials and clerics who customarily refuse to meet independent-minded journalists; they only talk to government-affiliated journalists whose work is approved by the SNB.”
In its stories on alleged extremists, Central Asia Online does not mention documented government abuses and does not cite skeptical analysts who might question Tashkent’s claims or raise the possibility that its heavy-handed tactics serve to radicalize practicing Muslims. In an August storyabout official assertions that the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is recruiting among Uzbek labor migrants, the author, “Shakar Saadi,” cites a named SNB officer and even quotes a prisoner — a startling feat of reporting prowess, considering that the U.N. special rapporteur on torture has been denied access to Uzbekistan’s prisons for years.
Over the past two years, the budget for the TRWI websites has increased from $10.1 million to $121 million, according to DOD records. But the parties involved in the project have been reluctant to discuss details. Central Asia Online did not respond to repeated requests for comment, sent via the website, over the course of six months. General Dynamics Information Technology referred questions to U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). A spokesman for SOCOM in Tampa would not provide details on why the budget grew so quickly. He said the websites’ content is coordinated with regional embassies, but “developed in support of a set of combatant command-assigned objectives.”
Representatives of all five U.S. embassies in Central Asia, however, told me they have nothing to do with Central Asia Online. In Tajikistan, where the U.S. embassy has a commendable record of defending media freedoms, a press attaché volunteered that Central Asia Online does not even receive the embassy’s press releases. A spokesman for another embassy in the region said he had never heard of the site.
All this raises the question: Is U.S. taxpayer money being given to a for-profit military contractor to shill for a Central Asian dictator, just because he’s a useful ally in the war on terror?
“It’s disturbing, to say the least,” says Alexander Cooley, a political scientist at Barnard College who writes frequently about America’s military footprint in Central Asia. “I would not expect anyone who is otherwise involved as a contractor or a subcontractor for U.S. security agencies to provide objective news analysis of terrorism. Part of covering terrorism means covering both the emergence of legitimate threats, but also covering how the specter of terror is used as political cover for governments to clamp down on political opponents,” Cooley said. He called the “fluff” on Central Asia Online “just propaganda.”
The bitter irony is that, through its uncritical support for Tashkent’s anti-extremism measures, the Pentagon is implicitly endorsing policies believed by many to foment discontent and radicalization in a country that borders Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Tashkent is happy to use this renewed engagement with Washington to boost its image.
The TRWI websites do not hide their affiliation with the U.S. military, stating it clearly in their “About” sections. The original Pentagon solicitationcalled the sites — including the Southeast European Times and Magharebia — “tools in support of strategic and long-term U.S. Government goals and objectives,” not professional journalism. Yet for a small outlet covering an obscure corner of the world, Central Asia Online does relatively well. The site has published an average of 71 stories per month this year, which, a SOCOM spokesman told me, garner some 168,000 article reads, 85,000 unique visitors, and 380 reader comments per month.
The target is “online audiences” in the five post-Soviet Central Asian republics, plus Afghanistan and Pakistan, though the material — mostly about security and published in English, Russian, Urdu, and Farsi — also seeps into local newspapers, websites, and news aggregators around the world, expanding the site’s readership. Though it is the responsibility of those outlets to attribute, many, at least in Central Asia, do not, billing the stories as original, local reporting, rather than DOD propaganda.
Apart from its security focus, Central Asia Online sometimes reports on sports, business, and civil society — also uncritically, careful to cite government sources on message.
An early July feature, “Uzbekistan proposes more government openness,” praised Karimov’s instructions to Uzbek officials to write more press releases, which the story said would “ensure public access to information about state agencies and regulate procedures for informing the public about their activities.” Local journalists (the kind cleared by the SNB) and officials told Central Asia Online how free information will blossom in Uzbekistan thanks to Karimov’s decree. The story did not mention, however, Karimov’s June 27 warning that “destructive forces” trawling the Internet are “controlling young minds.”
In the weeks following Karimov’s speech, while Central Asia Online was praising his country’s “openness,” Tashkent was blocking dozens of real news portals including the New York Times and Human Rights Watch. Zealous officials even made sure that, when a state-sponsored festivalcelebrating the .UZ Internet domain was held in Tashkent, no one could get too excited: dozens of websites and international media portals wereblocked. Throughout it all, Central Asia Online remained open and accessible in Uzbekistan.
David Trilling is the Central Asia editor of EurasiaNet.org, which is also blocked in Uzbekistan. Follow him at@dtrilling.
Will the UN Insist on Fair Trials for Ex-Regime Loyalists in Libya?
By Franklin Lamb
November 21, 2011 “
Information Clearing House” — — Benghazi, Libya — An affable gentleman, “Mahmoud” ushered this observer into the Benghazi People’s Court (Mahkamat al-Sha’b) and showed me the freshly painted courtroom where on December 19, 2006, the current NTC leader and long term CIA favorite, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, twice upheld death sentences by firing squad against a Palestinian doctor, Ashraf al-Hujuj, and five Bulgarian nurses Kristiyana Valtcheva, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, Valya Chervenyashka, and Snezhana Dimitrova. The death sentences were requested by the Libyan prosecutor in his opening statement four months earlier, in the final appeal in the fake HIV show trial case # 607/2003 held at the criminal court in Benghazi.
The appellate judge in the case was none other than the current head of the NATO-installed Libyan National Transition Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdul Jalil, whose formal legal education consisted of sitting in on some Sharia law classes. Following his appellate decision in the case, and for other services rendered to the former regime, Jalil was rewarded with the post of Minister of Justice. He served loyally in that position until American associates encouraged the intensely ambitious Minister to resign on February 24, 2011, the day he joined the Benghazi based uprising, as “leader.”
In the Benghazi nurses case, “Judge” Jalil knew the defendants were innocent and had been regularly and severely tortured during years of incarceration and forced into making false confessions which they later recanted. He also knew that the families of the false government witnesses against the “Benghazi Six” had been threatened with death if their relative failed to testify that it was the defendants who injected 426 Libyan children with HIV at the al-Fateh hospital in Benghazi. Jalil also knew, as the Libyan and International medical community knew, that insanitary conditions at the hospital caused the spreading of the HIV virus which originated in Benghazi from African guest workers, well before the arrival of the Palestinian and Bulgarian humanitarian medical staff.
During his “judicial review”, Jalil ignored the most elementary rules of criminal trial procedure and did not appear to grasp the fact that without procedural rights no accused person possesses substantive rights.
From day one of the “Benghazi Six” proceedings, which spanned more than five years, it was a political exercise. The same is certain to be the case at the opening of any trial conducted in Libya of any high profile ex-regime loyalist including Saif al Isam, Abdullah al-Senussi, Abu Zeid Dorda, former Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, former vice foreign minister Khaled Kiam, and others. If their trial is held in Libya, it is not at all certain that they will still be alive when the courtroom proceedings begin. This is because of the current lawlessness and political jockeying among NTC power centers and a widespread thirst across Libya today for revenge which trump international notions favoring just trials.
Jalil who recently announced that men in Libya will be allowed four wives because the “New Libya” is going to strictly follow Sharia law and four wives is what the Koran allows, wants the trials held in Libya. He will try to convince the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampowho is currently visiting Libya on behalf of the ICC that Libya should be the venue for Gadhafi regime trials and not The Hague. Perhaps Jalil will tell Ocampo not to worry about fair trials in Libya because one area in particular in which Libyan laws have been inconsistent with Sharia is in the penal law. Punishments under the Gadhafi regime were lighter than those mandated by traditional Islamic Hudud deterrent punishments, which Jalil is reported to favor but current Justice Ministry officials say current punishments, not Hudud will be applied.
Ocampo’s task will be to explain the legal steps to officials in Tripoli, and try to convince them that The Hague is the better option for the coming trials. Ultimately, it is up to the ICC judges backed by the UN whether to hand over the cases against Saif al Islam and Abdullah al Senussi to the NTC.
Jalil will have the White House and NATO backing him on this issue. Indeed, yesterday, 11/21/11, UN Ambassador Susan Rice beat Ocampo to the punch so to speak and showed up here in Libya to flamboyantly announce that the US will not pressure Libya to send Seif al Islam to the ICC at The Hague, an international criminal court whose jurisdiction the Obama Administration has refused to accept but which 119 countries have.
What the White House and NATO want is for former key Gadhafi loyalists like Seif al Islam to be silenced ( reminding one of Saddam, Osama and Muammar) before they can reveal criminal dealings by NATO country leaders. Chances are the jailed defendants will be killed unless the UN Security Council, which allowed the destruction of Libya via UNSC Resolution 1973, intervenes to uphold UN humanitarian principles.
Returning to the subject of my courtroom usher, who currently works in Benghazi as a NTC liaison officer with some of NATO’s still active special units, he showed me the large ornate Italian style courtroom window which, like the courtroom, was also freshly painted. Wiping an index finger on the window ledge to show me its dust free condition, he explained: “As you can see with our newly painted courtroom we are now ready to bring these dogs to justice and we don’t want any foreign interference in our country. We can take care of our own problems.” Speechless, I kept my thoughts to myself which included that had my guide’s new attitude about foreign interference prevailed nine months ago Libya would not have experienced the scores of thousands killed, wounded or whose lives were disrupted, the latter affecting Libya’s total population.
The above events, the show trial and equating a painted courtroom with readiness to administer justice, make plain to this observer than Libya in not yet ready to conduct fair criminal trials, not for the 16,000 current detainees, (approximately 3000 still in prison from the previous regime, and close to 13,000 jailed by Libya’s claimed liberators.) Libya currently lacks the capacity and perhaps agreement about what a fair trial would even be. It appears that currently a fair trial will not be conducted for high profile former regime loyalists.
Part of the reason is that today in Libya, the prevailing political, and legal dicta comes not from Gadhafi’s little Green book, volume I of which was published in 1976, or the engraved words outside UN HQ at Turtle Bay, New York, from Isaiah 2:4: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Rather today’s clarion in Libya trumpets a quotation from Mao Tse-Tung’s Little Red Book published in 1964, and it’s as true today as ever it was: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Despite sanctimonious NATO calls for the nearly four dozen militia, with more forming every month, to turn in their weapons, most of which NATO indirectly supplied, Libya’s armed gangs are rearming, increasing their rank and file numbers and expanding the scope and the variety of “their security parameters”, all designed for maximizing their political power in the continuing turbulent period as new and weak governments will rise and collapse here.
Key militias groups like the Zintanis, who captured Seif, or the Misratans, who killed Muammar and the most organized groups, which are Islamist, have organizational networks that are supporting their demands for major posts in the new government. Today’s expected announcement by interim Prime Minister Abdul Rahim al-Keib, of a new interim government, is considered a starting point by these stronger militias in the process of maneuvering themselves into full control.
This absence of control over the militias is only too evident in the treatment of captured former regime captives and towns. Reports of score settling are heard everywhere. Ignoring the claimed authority of the NTC, militias continue to ransack towns formally loyal to Gadhafi as they mete out bloody reprisals even on rival militia opposed to the former regime. Instead of handing over weapons from captured government arsenals to the authorities, militias are taking them back to their hometowns. So far the interim government has been unable to exert any real authority over a country awash with weapons and armed men.
This observer was approached last week in the lobby of a five-star Tripoli hotel by an Israeli business man who was jokingly complaining, “Why don’t these people speak Hebrew? Maybe I should open a school.” Like many of his countrymen and hundreds from NATO countries, Israelis are having no trouble getting visas here. It is not the same for Africans who are being held in herds at the borders until groups of hundreds can be processed by well-paidconstruction and domestic workers agents who will continue the Lebanon style “ keep their passports and pay them pittance,” slave labor practices.
The droves arriving in Libya to do business, some of whom this observer have spoken with, will pretty much accept any kind of business if the bottom line is attractive. “God willing we can make this country into another Dubai”, one fellow opined as he asked if I knew any real estate agents who could help him buy up Mediterranean beach frontage cheap for a tourist resort.
Even friends of the Chadian princesses who work with the traditional Saharan medicine specialist Dr. Fatma, who more or less cured my leg in late August, and whose staff still administers my necessary outpatient physical therapies, are getting into the weapons business.
Today the picture of Libya is of a country split into deadly rival factions. Cambridge University’s Tarak Barkawi, accurately describes Libya as a country “shot through with rivalries, jealousies and blood debts.” The NTC is itself is a disparate collection of defected regime elements, Islamists, secular expatriates and Berbers, many deeply suspicious of NTC leader Jalil who has never adequately explained his role in the July assassination of his rival, former Interior Minister General Younis after the latter joined the rebels.
An international legal team is working on a brief for the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court and the Libya National Transitional Council, laying out arguments to be used on behalf of former Gadhafi regime loyalists in an effort to convince these bodies that the facts and law of this case warrant moving their trials from Libya to The Hague.
The brief is expected to be made available publicly on December 15, 2011. Meanwhile the UN Security Council must support the ICC and assure that Libyan show trials for former regime loyalist that have been indicted are avoided by conducting their trials in The Hague.
ALGERIA ISP / Zangetna According to the fighters of the liberation of Libya performed with silent weapons, the rebel“Radouane Abdessalem Ambiya”who was at home along with two other rebel battalion of Tripoli. This rebel was the person who betrayed the army green by providing information to the rebels who killed 28 Libyansoldiers of the army of the Libyan.
Two foreign soldiers killed
Posted on 30/11/2011 at 10:34 –
ALGERIA ISP / Zangetna According to the fighters of the cell “Raed” of the Liberation Army of Libya destroyed the large fuel tank Raes Lanouf society which is located between the industrial complex and the new oil port. Violent clashes between rebel fighters and green lasted 3 hours. Two foreign soldiers were killed.
An explosion at Souk Jomo
Posted on 30/11/2011 at 10:33 – 113
ALGERIA ISP / Zangetna According to last night, a loud explosion shook the area Souk Jomo and exchanges of fire. The fighters of the Liberation Army of Libya intensify operations.
Internet cut in Abu Slim
Posted on 30/11/2011 at 10:32
ALGERIA ISP / According Zangetna, all telephone and internet are cut completely cut off near Abu Slim in Tripoli.
Clashes in Tripoli
Posted on 30/11/2011 at 10:31
ALGERIA ISP / Zangetna According to last night in Tripoli, Al Andalus area, violent clashes between fighters of the Liberation Army of Libya and the rebels. And other fighting near the school Kortoba.