The EU’s shameful silence on Khader Adnan

What does the European Union have to say about the plight of Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan? Not one word.

I have just entered Adnan’s name into the search facility on the website for the EU’s diplomatic service. The result: zero hits. A moment later, I searched under the words “Gilad Shalit” and received 230 hits.

Catherine Ashton, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, publicly sympathised with the family of Shalit at every conceivable opportunity, never acknowledging that the Israeli soldier belonged to an army of occupation and was taking part in acts of aggression against the Palestinian people when he was captured. Does she regard his life as more important than that of Adnan, a man in detention without being charged or convicted of an offence?

Is she more worried about the oppressor, than the oppressed? It would appear so.

Almost 12 hours ago, I contacted Ashton’s office, requesting an urgent explanation for her silence on Adnan’s hunger strike. I have still not received a response.

Too busy?

Perhaps her advisors too busy with matters they consider more pressing than the imminent death of a prisoner. Yet on Monday, her team was able to drop whatever other work it was doing and hastily respond to the attacks on Israeli embassies in India and Georgia. That same day, she (or her aides) found time to express concern about how Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi have now been under house arrest for an entire year. Her statement noted (properly) that these men – and Moussavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard – have been detained “without any legal process.”

Khader Adnan is in jail without any legal process. Why has Ashton not protested at his treatment?

Dignity and freedom

Marking Human Rights Day in December 2011, Ashton recalled that “human rights are universal and that people everywhere aspire to live in dignity and freedom.”

Khader Adnan is undertaking a courageous and awe-inspiring protest to defend the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and freedom.

And what does Catherine Ashton have to say? Not one miserable word.

(David Cronin / electronicintifada.net / 15.02.2012)

Ambassadors seek removal of anti-immigrant Dutch website

AMBASSADORS from 10 central and eastern European countries have written to the Dutch parliament demanding the removal of a website launched a week ago by Geert Wilders’s right-wing Freedom Party (PVV). The website invites complaints about Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants.

The European Parliament is examining the legality of the website. President of the parliament Martin Schultz is expected to speak to Mr Wilders, reiterating the view of EU commissioner for justice Viviane Reding that the site is “an open call to intolerance”.

The website, which has received more than 32,000 complaints about immigrants in less than a week, has caused a bitter political row in the Netherlands.

Mr Wilders has pointed to its popularity, while employers, trade unions and politicians of most parties have condemned it as inflammatory.

Having responded to Ms Reding’s criticism at the weekend with an uncompromising “Europe can get stuffed”, the PVV leader was similarly combative yesterday.

Mr Wilders described the ambassadors’ open letter, which was sent to each Dutch party leader individually, as “a waste of paper”.

He said the aim of the website was not to focus on particular countries or nationalities, but to collect information about the “public nuisance and pressure on jobs” being caused by immigration. He said the results would be collated and handed to Dutch social affairs minister Hans Kamp.

Apart from its international ramifications, the row has been damaging domestically for the minority coalition government.

It is regarded as being unwilling to condemn the website because the PVV supports government policy on budget cuts in return for a hard line on immigration.

The row has been particularly damaging for Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, who again at question time in parliament yesterday refused to condemn the website. Despite the EU criticism of the site, he said only that the internal workings of other political parties were not a matter on which he should comment.

That has not been enough, however, to ease the pressure. Mr Rutte has already been branded “a coward” by one opposition MP.

The criticism yesterday came from within his own party when MEP Hans van Baalen, leader of the liberal grouping in the European Parliament, called on Mr Rutte to “speak out”, describing the PVV website as “vulgar” and “sick-making”.

A poll by one news website yesterday showed that 69.4 per cent of respondents believed Mr Rutte should “take a stand”, while only 10.5 per cent accepted his contention that this was a matter confined to the PVV.

At the same time, there has been some humour. The PVV website has prompted a series of spoof sites, one of which invites visitors to log complaints against natives of the southern province of Limburg – where Mr Wilders was born.

The Netherlands is home to about 125,000 immigrants from central and eastern Europe, about 80 per cent of whom are Poles, and most of whom work in farming and market gardening.

Romanians and Bulgarians still require work permits, despite being EU citizens.

(www.irishtimes.com / 15.02.2012)

Human Rights Center Warns of Crisis Due to Power Outages in Gaza

GAZA, February 15, 2012 (WAFA) – Al-Mezan center for Human Rights Wednesday expressed concern over a possible crisis due to the frequent power outages in the Gaza Strip after the only power plant ran out of fuel due to the Israeli restrictions on fuel entering the Strip.

Al-Mezan said Gaza is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis that would endanger lives and affect health care services, water supply, wastewater treatment, education and economy in Gaza.

The power plant, which supplies around a third of Gaza’s electricity, completely stopped on Tuesday leading to daily blackouts as certain areas in the Strip receive electricity feed only eight hours a day.

Al-Mezan’s statement said the shortage of fuel entering Gaza can be traced back to the Israeli refusal to allow supplies to the Strip and the drop in the amount of fuel being transferred through the tunnels from Egypt to Gaza according to the Palestinian Energy Authority.

The center called on the international community to take immediate actions to resupply Gaza power plant with fuel and to make the Israeli government, as the occupying power, uphold its legal obligations towards the Palestinians.

(english.wafa.ps / 15.02.2012)

Israel launches wave of bombings in Gaza

Israeli aircrafts launched a wave of coordinated bombings across the Gaza Strip last night. F-16 jets bombed an area east of Khan Yunis and the Shawka district, east of Rafah, leaving behind an unexploded missile.

The area east of al Shujaeya was also targeted where a number of residential homes were badly damaged. East of Al Zaytun, a car accessories outlet was hit; as well as a farm where the 71 year-old guard, Abdul Kareem al Zaytouna, was killed. Two other workers were injured in the attack.

(www.australiansforpalestine.net / 15.02.2012)

Israeli forces destroy “the only place for children in Silwan”

Bulldozers razed the Madaa Creative Center to the ground on Monday morning.

Israeli forces arrived before sunrise on Monday, 13 February to demolish a newly completed community facility that residents refer to as a cultural café in the Wadi Hilweharea of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem. The bulldozers arrived without any prior warning. The Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality and the National Parks Authority carried out the demolition with Israeli police officers closing off the street and even preventing some nearby families to leave their homes while the demolition was underway.

Palestinians living in Silwan and other areas of occupied East Jerusalem are facing increased attacks from the Israeli authorities and Israeli settlers. Life for these Palestinian families is now complicated by endless legal battles and fear of the future. Simple things like living in their homes, sending their children to school, and creating spaces for kids to play can’t be taken for granted as homes are given over to Israeli settlers or threatened with demolition, as children as young as six are picked up by Israeli police for interrogation, and as community centers are destroyed.

The children’s only refuge

Jawad Siyam, director of the Madaa Creative Center in Silwan that runs the cultural café and the sports field directly in front of the café, lamented: “this was the only place in the area to meet, to sit together. It was the only place for children in Silwan.”

Creating spaces for kids to play can’t be taken for granted in Silwan.

Though Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem pay taxes to the Israeli-run Jerusalem municipality, the authority does not provide services like public parks and community centers so the local communities have to create their own. Madaa Center built the café with funding from international organizations including the Middle East Children’s Alliance, Playgrounds for Palestine, and War Child International. The center attempted to get a permit to build the café on this piece of privately-owned land but the Jerusalem municipality refused. Siyam said that Palestinians in Silwan have received fewer than 40 permits for building since East Jerusalem was occupied and then illegally annexed by Israel in 1967, leaving them with no choice but to carry on construction projects without permits.

More than 30 demolitions this year

Mahmoud Qaraeen from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center lives across the street from the site of the sports field and cultural café. He was one of the first people to arrive at the scene of the demolition and he meticulously documented the destruction. Qaraeen explained that this was the 31st demolition in East Jerusalem since the start of 2012, an alarming statistic.

He also pointed out that on the same day, a settlers’ association took the first of a series of necessary approvals to construct an enormous 16,000 square meter compound just up the hill. Qaraeen says it is well understood that “the municipality is only for West Jerusalem. The only thing we get from them in East Jerusalem is demolitions.”

The community is determined to rebuild the café. For local residents, the right to build and live on their land is a constant battle and one they are not prepared to lose. Like many Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley, they have adopted the principle that to exist is to resist. Volunteers have already begun sorting through the rubble, salvaging scraps of wood and metal. Their goal is to complete a new café in time for a Mothers’ Day celebration on 21 March (Mothers’ Day is celebrated across Arab countries on this date).

“We are also waiting for the bill for the bulldozer,” Siyam told The Electronic Intifada. This practice of charging people for demolitions began in 2011 (“Israel passes draft law requiring Palestinians to pay for their own home demolitions,” International Middle East Media Center, 29 June 2011).

But he added, “We won’t pay for this. Someone from the center might have to go to jail but we will refuse to pay.”

(electronicintifada.net / 15.02.2012)

UN rights expert appeals for international help for a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike


CAIRO / GENEVA (15 February 2012) – TheUnited Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, expressed his urgent and extreme concern regarding the situation of Palestinian prisonerKhader Adnan, and urged the international community to intervene on his behalf.

“I call on the international community, especially States with close relations with Israel, to urge theIsraeli Government to fulfill its responsibilities under international law, most urgently with regard to Mr. Adnan,” the human rights expert said. Mr. Adnan, whose life is reportedly in jeopardy, has maintained a hunger strike for 60 days in response to the humiliating circumstances of his imprisonment without charges by the Government of Israel.

“In view of the emergency of his situation, the Government of Israel must take immediate and effective action to safeguard Mr. Adnan’s life, while upholding his rights,” stressed the Special Rapporteur, who is currently
undertaking a fact-finding mission to the region.

Mr. Falk also called on the Government of Israel to respect its legal obligations pertaining to the several thousand Palestinians it has imprisoned. “The improper treatment of thousands of Palestinian prisoners by the Government of Israel should be of great concern to the international community, and it is a problem that I am paying close attention to in the context of my ongoing visit to the region.”

The Special Rapporteur will convene a press conference at the end of his regional visit, on 20 February in Amman, and will submit a full report on his mission to the Human Rights Council in June 2012.

(www.australiansforpalestine.net / 15.02.2012)

News from Syria 15.02.2012

#Qudseya #Damascus #Syria – 15th feb 2012 anti government demonstration went out this evening in the Qudseya area…fb.me/urlznkTD

Takbir campaign in Damascus tonight is one of the loudest ever. New neighbourhoods joined the campaign tonight.

a number of syrians could possibly face deportation from Cyprus to Syria for taking part in the embassy raid last week #Syria #Cyprus

Wounded man says tried 2 get 3 kids and wife out but govt troops refused 2 let them through checkpoints #homs #syria

2 Docs at clinic in baba amr – one was internal medicine specialist, the other dentist. They were not trained for this, no one was they say

One of youtube video shooters at clinic can’t speak, head wound, traces tank on wall w/finger 2 tell us what happened #homs #syria

“there is no value 2 life” says patient in baba amr clinic. Leg will have 2 B cut off if can’t get out, wound rotting. Dr in tears listening

shelling so intense earlier building shook, glass shattered, 9yro girl burst into tears, nothing 2 comfort her #homs & #syria

Been in #homs 4 less than a day, don’t know what 2 say, already witnessed enough 2 write a novel of despair #syria

#Zakiyah #Damascus #Syria – 15th feb 2012 anti government demonstration took place this evening in the Zakiyah…

How to write a new constitution:First,u hold a constitutional assembly& debate text.Oh wait,first you stop shelling 7of your cities. #Syria

BUSTED Pro-regime TV showing “calm” Damascus outskirts but grafiti reads: Down With Assad

Addounia’s faked interview in Baba Amr (with coastal accents). Man tries to cover an Assad soldier’s camo jacket

#Daraa Da’el Intensive shooting by heavy weapons in the city from checkpoints of Al-Hassan mosque and municipality

#DeirEzzor AlMayadeen sec forces went on wide arrests today in the city

The 8200th death in Syria. Farouk Aissi, who was killed in Qubani in Aleppo. R.I.P.

“WELCOME TO PALESTINE”: SUPPORT OF BIL’IN … AND LATUFF!

Below is a message of encouragement Basil Mansour’s Resistance Committee of Bil’in, including a picture of Carlos Latuff’s mission to “Welcome to Palestine”. A big thank you to both!

Dear friends who prepare the initiative “Welcome to Palestine”,

We sincerely thank you for your solidarity with our struggle for human rights and against injustice of the Israeli occupation of a people without defense against the theft of its land, its water resources in the face of colonization rampant illegal, and the apartheid wall.

We are all human beings and we must be united, Muslims, Christians, Jews, whites and blacks, Arabs and international against the enemies of peace, love, life, the enemies of humanism to stop this disgusting occupation.

We believe in freedom and a just peace and we are convinced that together we can end this suffering.

We saw the group EuroPalestine at work and we have full confidence. You spent with us here, moments that we have not forgotten, but we know that the Israeli occupation has prevented many of you to come or return.

However, we invite you to come visit us again, not to discourage you.

Welcome to Bil’in! Welcome to “Welcome to Palestine!”

(www.europalestine.com / 15.02.2012)

Geweld in Syrië gaat door aan vooravond stemming VN

damascus15feb

Syrische soldaten op patrouille in hoofdstad Damascus vandaag.

Bij aanvallen van het regeringsleger op verschillende Syrische steden zijn vandaag volgens activisten weer tientallen doden gevallen. De berichten over het aanhoudende geweld komen aan de vooravond van een stemming in de Algemene Vergadering over de crisis in Syrië.

Voor de twaalfde dag op rij werd Homs, de derde stad van het land, volgens Syrische oppositieactivisten door het regeringsleger bestookt. De meeste doden zouden vandaag echter zijn gevallen in de noordelijke provincie Idlib. Ook vanuit de centrale stad Hama en hoofdstad Damascus maakten activisten vandaag melding van aanvallen van het leger. In Damascus zouden nog nooit zoveel militairen in het centrum van de stad hebben gepatrouilleerd. Volgens de oppositie schoot het Syrische leger vandaag in het hele land weer zeker 54 mensen dood.
Grotere kaart weergeven

Het nieuws over het aanhoudende neerslaan van de volksopstand in Syrië komt op de dag dat president Assad een referendum over een nieuwe Grondwet aankondigde dat al op 25 februari gehouden zou moeten worden. Die nieuwe grondwet zou meer ruimte bieden aan andere politiek partijen dan zijn regerende Ba’ath-partij en nieuwe parlementsverkiezingen binnen negentig dagen mogelijk moeten maken. Hoeveel de beloften van de Syrische president waard zijn is de vraag, want Assad deed tijdens de nu elf maanden durende volksopstand al eerder loze beloften.

Wisselende internationale reacties op plan voor referendum

De Verenigde Staten noemde het aangekondigde referendum in Syrië “lachwekkend”. Een woordvoerder van het Witte Huis zei dat eerdere beloften van Assad werden gevolgd door nog meer geweld tegen de Syrische bevolking en benadrukte dat de dagen van het regime-Assad zijn geteld. Rusland, de belangrijkste overgebleven bondgenoot van Syrië, verwelkomde het referendum vandaag juist als “een stap voorwaarts”. “Het is een welkom idee en we hopen dat de Grondwet zal worden aangenomen”, aldus de Russische minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Lavrov in een reactie.

De Algemene Vergadering van de Verenigde Naties spreekt morgen over de situatie in Syriëen stemt dan ook over een resolutie die het geweld van het regime veroordeelt en Assad oproept de macht af te staan. Hoewel de verwachting is dat de resolutie wordt aangenomen, heeft de stemming in de Algemene Vergadering louter symbolische betekenis. In tegenstelling tot resoluties van de VN-Veiligheidsraad kan toepassing van resoluties van de Algemene Vergadering niet met juridische middelen worden afgedwongen.

(www.nrc.nl / 15.02.2012)