Libyan rights activist attacked after interview with Al Arabiya

Libyan human rights activist Abdulsalam Al-Mesmari was reportedly attacked by anonymous individuals after his interview with Al Arabiya last week.

Libyan human rights activist Abdulsalam Al-Mesmari was reportedly attacked by anonymous individuals after his interview with Al Arabiya last week, the channel’s Libya correspondent reported Friday.

The activist, who appeared on Al Arabiya’s program “Panorama” on Wednesday, criticized armed groups who had besieged Libyan ministries during the week.

Mesmari blamed the groups for the offensive on the ministries and said they were attacking a “legitimate government.”

In the interview, Mesmari criticized political movements who he said used armed gangs to surround official administration buildings to impose pressure on the government.

Mesmari claimed that these parties failed at achieving their demands through Libya’s National Congress and other democratic tools, referring to the fact this may be the reason why they resorted to armed gangs.

Meanwhile, civil establishments in Libya have organized peaceful demonstrations in Tripoli and other Libyan cities to condemn the recent encircling of governmental institutions by armed groups.

The demonstrators chanted slogans that called for the application of law and condemned poor state security.

(Source / 03.05.2013)

ZORGWEKKEND: 60% MAROKKANEN IN SPANJE IS WERKLOOS

1410561-1869990Marokkanen in Spanje zijn twee keer vaker werkloos dan het nationale gemiddelde.
Terwijl de werkloosheid in Spanje veelbesproken blijft hebben ook de Marokkanen in het land het zwaar. De werkloosheidspercentage onder deze groep is maar liefst 60%, meldt de voorzitter van de Spaanse vereniging van Vrienden van het Marokkaanse volk Alami Susi. In slechts een jaar steeg de werkloosheid in de Marokkaanse gemeenschap van 40% tot 20%. In 2011 was ‘slechts’ 50% van de Marokkanen werkloos, blijkt uit gegevens van de Bank van Spanje.

Sociale problemen
Volgens Susi heeft de werkloosheid veel effect gehad op het gezinsleven van de Marokkanen: ‘Er zijn duizenden families die zijn gescheiden en die ervoor hebben gekozen om terug te keren naar hun vrouw en kinderen in Marokko’. Susi ging verder: ‘Kinderen hebben het zwaarst te verduren wanneer ze terugkeren naar Marokko. Ze gaan niet naar scholen waar ze Spaans spreken terwijl de meerderheid van hen geboren en getogen is in Spanje’.

Alami reageerde boos op de Marokkaanse regering, die onverschillig reageert op de problematiek. Maar ook de Marokkaans-islamitische gemeenschap krijgt een sneer uitgedeeld. ‘Ik doe een beroep op de beheerders van islamitische organisaties in Marokko. Ga je alsjeblieft concentreren op de meerderheid van de mensen die in nood zijn. Geef ze kleding en schoenen die jullie niet meer dragen. Zij die rijk zijn kunnen proberen om een gezin te onderhouden omwille van de kinderen.’

Italië
Hetzelfde fenomeen is ook in Italië gemerkt. Hamid Bichri is voorzitter van de Marokkaanse Vereniging in Italië en zegt het volgende: ‘Velen spreken geen Arabisch en belanden in een totaal ander schoolsysteem waar lesprogramma’s niet hetzelfde zijn’. Les krijgen in het Italiaans is geen optie omdat deze cursussen tot wel 2000 dirham per maand kosten legde hij uit.

(Source / 03.05.2013)

Twee hechte vrienden

By Marianna Laarif

Er waren twee hechte vrienden. De één was erg slim, spontaan en actief. De ander was erg naïef, rechtschapen en zwijgzaam. Op een dag gaat de slimme jongen naar zijn vriend, om te vertellen dat het slecht gaat met zijn zaken, en wil geld van hem lenen. Zijn vriend geeft hem al zijn geld. Met dit geld maakte hij zijn zaken weer in orde. Na een tijd gaat de slimme jongen weer naar zijn (inmiddels verloofde) vriend en zegt tegen hem dat hij zijn verloofde heel leuk vind en wil zelf met haar trouwen. Zijn vriend is heel verbaasd, en weet niet wat hij moet zeggen. Er was echter zo een sterke band tussen de twee vrienden, dat hij gewoon geen nee kon zeggen, en geeft zijn verloofde aan zijn vriend. Na een tijd gaat het slecht met de zaken van de naïeve jongen, en hij denkt gelijk aan zijn vriend (met de gedachte: ik heb hem geholpen toen hij het moeilijk had). Hij gaat naar het bedrijf van zijn vriend en vraagt om werk.

Zijn vriend geeft hem geen werk. De naïeve jongen gaat met spijt en verdriet terug, maar is nog steeds niet boos op zijn vriend. Op een dag komt er op straat een zieke en oude man naar hem toe. Hij zegt dat hij geen geld heeft voor medicijnen. De jongen heeft medelijden en koopt medicijnen voor de oude man. Korte tijd daarna krijgt hij te horen dat de oude man overleden is. De oude man blijkt erg rijk geweest te zijn en schenkt zijn hele erfenis aan de naïeve jongen. De jongen is nu rijk en koopt een huis tegenover het bedrijf van zijn vriend. Op een dag belt er een bedelaarster aan bij de jongen. De oude vrouw zegt dat ze honger heeft, en wil eten.

De jongen neemt haar zonder te twijfelen naar binnen en geeft haar te eten. Hij krijgt te horen dat de vrouw niemand heeft, en hij vertelt dat hij zelf ook eenzaam is. Hij besluit om haar in zijn huis te laten wonen, en dat zij in ruil daarvoor het huishouden doet en eten voor hem maakt. De oude vrouw accepteert dit gelijk. Op een dag zegt de vrouw tegen de naïeve jongen dat hij een geschikte vrouw voor zichzelf moet vinden om mee te trouwen. De jongen zegt: waar vind ik zo een vrouw? Ik ken geen geschikte vrouw. De oude vrouw zegt dat zij wel een geschikte vrouw kent en dat ze hem met haar wil laten kennismaken. Na de ontmoeting met de vrouw besluiten de twee te gaan trouwen en de bruiloftsuitnodigingen worden gedrukt.

De jongen nodigt zijn vriend toch uit, ondanks dat hij gekwetst is. De dag van de bruiloft breekt aan. De naïeve man pakt de microfoon omdat hij wat wil zeggen tegen de gasten. Hij zei: “Ik had ooit een vriend waar ik veel van hield. Op een dag wilde hij geld van mij lenen, omdat het slecht ging met zijn zaken. Ik heb hem al mijn geld gegeven. Ik stond op het punt om te trouwen, maar hij vertelde dat hij mijn verloofde zo leuk vond en dat hij zelf met haar wilde trouwen. Met veel verdriet heb ik haar aan hem gegeven, omdat wij goede vrienden waren en ik hem niet wilde teleurstellen.

Toen MIJN zaken slecht gingen, ging ik naar zijn bedrijf en vroeg om werk. Hij gaf me geen werk. Ik was erg verdrietig, maar ik werd niet boos op hem, omdat we echte vrienden waren.” Na de toespraak kan de andere jongen er niet meer tegen. Hij pakt de microfoon en begint te praten: “Ik had ook een vriend waar ik veel van hield. Toen het slecht ging met mijn zaken vroeg ik geld aan hem en hij gaf al zijn geld aan mij. Daarna vroeg ik hem om zijn verloofde, en met veel verdriet gaf hij haar aan mij. De reden dat ik zelf met haar wilde trouwen, was omdat ze niet geschikt was voor mijn vriend (ze was een prostituee). Omdat mijn vriend erg naief is en niet zou merken dat ze een prostituee was, heb ik er op deze manier voor gezorgd dat ze niet met elkaar zouden trouwen. Toen het slecht ging met mijn zaken, kwam hij naar mij toe en vroeg om werk. Omdat ik mijn vriend (moreel) niet onder mijn leiding kon laten werken, heb ik hem geen werk gegeven. De oude man die hij op een dag tegenkwam was mijn vader. Hij stond op het punt te sterven. Ik heb hem naar mijn vriend gestuurd en ik heb gezorgd dat hij die erfenis kreeg. De bedelaarster die aan zijn deur kwam was mijn moeder. Ik had haar gestuurd omdat ik wilde dat er goed voor mijn vriend gezorgd zou worden. Het meisje waarmee hij nu mee gaat trouwen is mijn zusje. Ik wilde dat zij met hem zou trouwen, omdat hij mijn vriend is.

Dus: ook al sluit Allaah de ene poort naar hetgeen waar je zo van houdt, Hij zal uiteindelijk een andere poort voor je openen. Als je maar geduld hebt en op Allaah vertrouwt. Allaah zegt in de Edele Qur’aan:

“Maar het kan zijn dat jullie afkeer van iets hebben, terwijl het goed voor jullie is; en het kan zijn dat jullie van iets houden, terwijl het slecht voor jullie is.” (Al-Baqarah: vers 216)

Insha’Allaah zullen jullie hier lering uit trekken en beter met tegenslagen om kunnen gaan.

Subh’aanaka Allaahumma wa bih’amdiek, ash-hadu allaa illaaha illaa anta, astaghfieruka wa atuba ilayk.

Battles raging in Damascus, Aleppo and Idlib

Syrian government forces have mounted a string of attacks reaching from the capital Damascus and the central city of Homs.

Rebels in Syria fired two rockets at Damascus international airport on Friday, hitting an aircraft and a fuel dump and sparking a massive fire, the official SANA news agency reported.

“One rocket hit a kerosene tank and the other hit a parked commercial aircraft, badly damaging it,” the agency said, adding that traffic at the facility was “normal” and the fire had been extinguished.

The violence continued across Syria on Friday with battles raging in Aleppo and Idlib, the Associated Press reported.

Amateur video posted online by activist groups showed two large fires overnight at Damascus International Airport.

Explosions were heard just prior to the fires.

Rebels were filmed firing their weapons form a walled position and a large plume of smoke could be seen after a warplane had been flying in the eastern Ghouta district, an opposition stronghold near Damascus where rebels have been staging an offensive on the capital.

In the northern city of Aleppo rebels were seen throwing an explosive device, then firing their weapons, while anti-aircraft artillery was deployed in the northwestern province of Idlib.

The activist videos appeared genuine and corresponded to other AP reporting about the events depicted.

Syrian government forces have mounted a string of attacks reaching from the capital Damascus and the central city of Homs out to the Mediterranean coast, homeland of the Alawite minority sect to which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad himself belongs.

The two-year uprising against four decades of Assad family rule has been led by Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, and sectarian clashes and alleged massacres have become increasingly common in a conflict that has killed more than 70,000 people.

The war has largely split the country along sectarian lines, with the divide deepening over months of bloodshed.

(Source / 03.05.2013)

UNRWA: 235,000 Palestinian refugees have been displaced inside Syria

 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) appealed on Tuesday to all sides to end the human suffering caused by the conflict in Syria, and resolve the differences through dialogue and political negotiations. UNRWA warned in a statement that Palestinian refugees in Syria are being killed, injured or displaced in numbers higher than before, at a time when the armed conflict continues to disrupt refugee camps all over the country.

The agency estimated that approximately 235,000 Palestinians inside Syria have been displaced. It expressed concern particularly about the news reports that were confirmed on Tuesday concerning the displacement of about 6,000 Palestinians on April 26 from Ein el-Tal, which is a Palestinian refugee camp located 12 kilometres from the north Syrian city of Aleppo.

“Ein El Tal is the latest manifestation of a cycle of catastrophic violence in which the conduct of all parties has transformed Palestine refugee camps into theatres of conflict in which heavy weapons are used, resulting in severe suffering for Palestinian civilians,” the UNRWA news release stated.

(Source / 03.05.2013)

Hamas rebuffs Arabs for softening Israeli-Palestinian peace plan

Islamist Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip on Friday rejected a revised Middle East peace initiative put forward by the Arab League.

Islamist Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip on Friday rejected a revised Middle East peace initiative put forward by the Arab League, saying outsiders could not decide the fate of the Palestinians.

In meetings this week in Washington, Arab states appeared to soften their 2002 peace plan, acknowledging that Israelis and Palestinians may have to swap land in any eventual peace deal.

The United States and the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank praised the move. But speaking to hundreds of worshippers in a Gaza mosque, senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh said it was a concession that other Arabs were not authorized to make.

“The so-called new Arab initiative is rejected by our people, by our nation and no one can accept it,” said Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas government in the coastal enclave.

“The initiative contains numerous dangers to our people in the occupied land of 1967, 1948 and to our people in exile.”

He was referring to the partition of British-mandate Palestine in 1948 when the United Nations voted to divide the territory into a Jewish state and an Arab state and to the 1967war when Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and claims all the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River as rightfully Palestinian. It never accepted the Arab plan which was first presented in 2002.

Rare spat

The modified version was announced by Qatar’s prime minister on Monday and Haniyeh’s comments represented a rare public disagreement between Hamas and one of its main supporters.

The rich Gulf state has pledged over $400 million to fund housing projects in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas seized from the rival Palestinian Fatah faction in a brief civil war in 2007.

“To those who speak of land swaps we say: Palestine is not a property, it is not for sale, not for a swap and cannot be traded,” Haniyeh said.

Haniyeh said the rival Palestinian Authority, headed by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was to blame for inspiring the softer Arab position because it accepted the need for land swaps with Israel.

Israel rejected the Arab peace plan when it was proposed 11years ago. Israeli officials gave a cautious welcome to the new suggestions, but the government still objects to key points, including the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and the creation of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is seeking to revive direct peace talks that broke down in 2010 over the issue of Jewish settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

On Tuesday, he hailed the Arab League announcement as “a very big step forward.”

However, any peace moves will have to confront the fractured Palestinian political landscape with Abbas holding sway over parts of the West Bank and Hamas firmly entrenched in Gaza. Repeated attempts by the two sides to secure a political reunification of the two territories have failed.

(Source / 03.05.2013)

Syria: ‘no-mans land’ for journalists

Saad Sulibi carries a camera and an assault rifle as he poses for a photograph in a neighborhood in the eastern Syrian town of Deir Ezzor on February 19, 2013.

Journalists in Syria have been deliberately targeted by both government forces and rebel groups according to the latest report released by Amnesty international on World Press Freedom Day.

At least 36 journalists have died in the conflict since the 2011 uprising began.

The report entitled “Shoot the messenger: Journalists targeted by all sides in Syria” documents abuses carried out by Syrian authorities and armed opposition groups.

“Syria is currently one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists. Our report documents cases that show violations, such as arrests, killings, harassment, forced disappearance and hostage taking are widely spread. The killing is only from one side, the situation of journalists and media activates is dire” said Nour Albazaz from the Syria research team at Amnesty.

The London-based organization discussed in detail the crucial role citizen journalists are now playing on the ground.

Many of them have risked their lives to make sure information from within the country reached the outside world.

Like their fellow professional reporters, citizen journalists have faced reprisals from all sides involved in Syria’s war, which has prevented them from carrying out the job the originally set out to do.

The human rights groups said violations along with deliberate attacks on journalists and media personals may amount to war crimes.
“This is World Press Freedom Day and we wanted to use this opportunity call on all sides of the Syrian conflict to respect the laws of war and consider journalists as civilians, protect them and avoid targeting them in any way,” Albazaz said.

The Syrian authorities continue to target, arrest and torture journalists despite the fact that the state of emergency law was lifted in March 2011, along with the introduction of new decrees which supposedly allow for greater freedom of expression.

Now there is barely any news organization which has a correspondent that is actually based in Syria and is covering the conflict.

(Source / 03.05.2013)

A former insider explains how Human Rights Watch panders to the Israel lobby

Scott Long has written an excellent exposé of the scurrilous smear campaign against Egyptian human rights defender Mona Seif by the Zionist organization UN Watch and its director Hillel Neuer, “a former corporate lawyer and lobbyist for Israel” (I wrote about the UN Watch smear campaign against Seif here yesterday).

While the whole post is well worth reading, Long includes a fascinating passage on how Human Rights Watch (HRW), where he was director of the director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program until 2010, panders to the Israel lobby which attacks it constantly.

Those of us who observe HRW’s work have long known that it deals with Israel by a different, much softer standard than it applies to any other country.

Long’s account indicates that HRW observes a sort of fake balance in which it must artificially generate criticism of Palestinians just in order to offset criticism of Israel’s much greater and more frequent human rights abuses and crimes:

Human Rights Watch, where I worked for many years, strains all its muscles to be completely objective on Israel/Palestine — an effort that has never gotten it a scintilla of credit from the militant pro-Israel side. Its releases on Israel and Palestine are the only ones in the entire organization that are routinely edited by the executive director himself. An informal arithmetic dictates that every presser or report criticizing Israel has to be accompanied by another criticizing the Palestine Authority or Hamas — or, if that isn’t possible (the PA barely retains enough authority to violate anybody’s rights) at least one of the surrounding Arab states. A mathematical approach to objectivity may help accountants detect embezzlement or captains keep ships afloat, but that kind of balance looks ridiculous in the political world, where the incessant fluidity of action disrupts the illusions of double-entry bookkeeping. (The call for an “embargo on arms” to “all sides” is an excellent example of “objectivity” that benefits one side much more than the other. As often noted during the Yugoslav civil war — when extremely well-meaning people urged that unarmed Bosnians and the Serbian army both go cold turkey on acquiring arms — a cutoff will matter much more to those who have only scant resources than to those flush with weaponry. If you want to stop that kind of fighting, an embargo alone won’t do it. It’s like the majestic equality of the law as Anatole France described it, forbidding both rich and poor to sleep under bridges.)

Whatever you think of the neighboring conflict, Egyptian activists are undoubtedly reasonable when they ask what a similar “objectivity” would have looked like in their 20-year struggle with Mubarak. Should each documented act of torture by State Security have been followed by a search for some malfeasance by human rights organizations? Do the immense power of a state and the vulnerability of a people’s movement carry the same responsibilities? At what point do you acknowledge (as Human Rights Watch did in Egypt) that, though both sides may do wrong, one side’s demand is right and the other’s is wrong?

An excellent question indeed.

(Source / 03.05.2013)

Danes, Finns upgrade Palestinian diplomatic status

STOCKHOLM — Finland and Denmark have become the latest European countries to upgrade the status of Palestinian diplomatic missions.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja and Danish counterpart Villy Soevndal made the announcement Friday after a meeting of the Nordic foreign ministers in Stockholm.

Soevndal said the move means that “Palestine gets the same status” as embassies from other countries based in Helsinki and Copenhagen, adding that both countries believe Palestinian self-rule has “come very far in recent years.”

All five Nordic countries, which also include Sweden, Norway and Iceland, voted in favor of granting status to the Palestinians as a non-member observer state at the U.N. General Assembly in November.

(Source / 03.05.2013)

Separatists slam Morocco ‘repression’ of protesters

Polisario Front rebel soldiers are seen on February 27, 2011 in the Western Sahara village of Tifariti.

The Polisario Front on Friday slammed Morocco’s “systematic repression” of separatist protesters in the disputed Western Sahara and urged the U.N. to apply a new resolution calling for greater efforts on human rights.

“The Sahrawi government vigorously denounces the systematic repression of peaceful Sahrawi protests in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara… and calls on the Security Council to ensure the application of its latest resolution,” the pro-independence group said in a statement.

On April 25, the Security Council passed Resolution 2099 extending the Western Sahara peacekeeping mission for another year and urged Morocco and the Polisario Front to pursue efforts to promote human rights in Western Sahara.

The vote came after a bid by the United States to task the U.N. mission with rights monitoring was dropped.

The Polisario said the resolution was “violated by the Moroccan coloniser less than 24 hours after its adoption,” and denounced the “brutal treatment inflicted on around 40 Sahrawi protesters by the Moroccan police” in Laayoune on April 26.

Speaking from Laayoune, Western Sahara’s main city, an Amnesty International representative said at least 30 protesters were wounded when the pro-independence demonstration turned violent.

Sirine Rached told AFP the police had used “excessive force” to disperse the protesters who had been marching peacefully in the city center.

Morocco said the recent “events” in Laayoune had left 70 people wounded, among them members of the security forces.

During the protests “there were violations, including blocking a public road, aggression towards members of the security forces and the use of petrol bombs, causing damage to public and private property,” said a police statement cited by official Moroccan media.

Morocco occupied the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 in a move never recognised by the international community, and has proposed broad autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty for the phosphate-rich region.

But this is rejected by Polisario Front rebels, who took up arms to fight for an independent state until the United Nations negotiated a ceasefire in 1991, and who insist on the Sahrawis’ right to a U.N.-monitored referendum on self-determination.

(Source / 03.05.2013)