Libië stelt inwoners Benghazi ultimatum

TRIPOLI – De inwoners van de Libische stad Benghazi hebben tot middernacht (plaatselijke tijd) om schuilplaatsen van rebellen en wapendepots te verlaten. Dat heeft het Libische leger woensdag laten weten via de staatstelevisie. De strijdkrachten zeggen Benghazi te willen ”zuiveren van gewapende bendes”.


Benghazi is de feitelijke hoofdstad van de opstand tegen de Libische leider Muammar Kaddafi. Zijn troepen zijn de afgelopen dagen snel opgerukt naar Benghazi en zouden de stad woensdag hebben omsingeld. (ANP)

( / 16.03.2011)

Morocco: World Commends King’s Reforms

– Mohammed Almasri
Friday, 11 March 2011 09:45
The international community has commended the  Morocco’s King initiative to  constitutional reform.

In Brussels, EU has welcomed the King of Morocco’s announcement on Wednesday of extensive constitutional reform.

“It represents a commitment to further democratization.,” said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and EU Commissioner for enlargement and neighbourhood policy Stefan Fulle in a joint statement Thursday night.

They noted that the proposed constitutional reform touches on key elements for modernisation, the independence of justice, the separation of powers, the strengthening of the government’s role and equality for women. “Once fully implemented, it will be a qualitative leap in the process of reforms already initiated by Morocco.It opens a period of political debate that should include all political actors and civil society and be a response to the legitimate aspirations of the Moroccan people,” said the statement.

In UN,  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday welcomed the comprehensive constitutional reforms announced yesterday by the King of Morocco Mohammed VI.

“The Secretary-General has repeatedly urged leaders in the region and beyond to listen to the voices of their people and to respond to what the people are saying,” his spokesman Martin Nesirky said in reaction to the king’s announcement “And what we have seen in the King’s speech (yesterday) is a clear indication that the King has been listening to the voices of his people,” Nesirky added.

Moroccan King Mohammed VI announced Wednesday the formation of an ad hoc committee tasked with suggesting amendments to the Constitution.

In an address to the nation, he said the committee will conduct a comprehensive constitutional reform designed to consolidate democracy and the rule of law.

The committee, chaired by Abdeltif Mennouni, is tasked with realizing the instructions the king has made in June, 2010, for amending the constitutions, Morocco’s Maghreb Arabe Presse (MAP) news agency reported.

King Mohammed VI asked the committee members to listen to political parties, trade unions, youth organizations and qualified civil society groups, intellectuals and scholars, to seek their views.

The committee is expected to report back to the King by next June, the report added.

( / 16.03.2011)

State-Organised Murder on the Streets of Bahrain

Brussels, 16 March 2011 (ITUC OnLine): Security forces with tanks have
over-run the Pearl roundabout in the centre of Manama, capital of
Bahrain, where pro-democracy protesters have been camped and have
demonstrated peacefully for the past month, asking for political reforms
and equal rights. Using Apache helicopters and live ammunition, the
crackdown immediately follows the declaration of a three-month state of
emergency yesterday by King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa and the dispatching
of troops from other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including a
thousand heavily armed Saudi soldiers.

Live rounds were used in parts of the city, with at least six people
reported killed and hundreds injured. Mobile phone and internet access
are restricted, and palls of smoke rose from protestors’ tents that were
set ablaze by the security forces. Particularly brutal repression has
been reported in Shia villages.

The ITUC strongly condemns this intensified violence, organised and
perpetrated by the Bahraini authorities with the support of neighbouring
Gulf States.

Troops have reportedly entered the main Salmaniya hospital. Doctors have
launched an emergency call for help, describing the situation as very
critical due to lack of blood, power cuts and pressure from security
forces to prevent them treating many severely wounded demonstrators.
Yesterday and today, ambulances from the hospital were prevented from
transporting casualties, with the wounded now reportedly being treated
in mosques and houses.

“The actions of the authorities are appalling, and the deliberate
targeting of hospitals to stop injured people being treated is simply
inhuman. The Bahraini authorities and those from neighbouring countries
who have helped to orchestrate the killing and maiming of innocent
civilians must be held accountable under international law. Those
responsible must be confronted with the full weight of international
pressure to immediately stop these criminal acts and to lift the state
of emergency,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The national coalition of civil society organisations, including the
ITUC-affiliated national trade union federation GFBTU, launched an
emergency appeal this morning to stop the systematic murder of people
struggling for legitimate democratic rights. Pro-democracy groups have
urged the international community, the Arab League and the UN to
intervene to stop the massacre, and asked for emergency humanitarian
support to break the siege on hospitals and the assaults against medical

( / 16.03.2011)

The Arab revolutions’ message to America

Nadia Hijab gave this speech on Sunday at the Jewish Voice for Peace meeting in Philadelphia. Hijab is co-Director of Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network,

I want to talk about the messages from the Arab revolutions, how we can stay mobilized as a movement, and the opening for new relations between Jews and Arabs.

I know we’ve all been transfixed by the Arab revolutions, and I want to highlight a couple of messages beyond what they mean for our Israel-Palestine work.

The Arab revolutions are about the people of each country putting their house in order. They’re not being isolationist – look at how the Tunisians, with their own revolution still underway, rushed to help the Libyans. But if peoples do not put their own house in order, they can’t play a positive role outside their borders. And their governments find it easier to hijack their foreign policy.

Another powerful message the Arab revolutions are sending is that democracy is not just about elections every few years It’s also about making the links between political, economic and social rights – between bread, dignity, and freedom.

These messages from the Arab world – which is where I grew up and where I still feel I belong – tell me how incomplete democracy is in America. And one of the reasons it is incomplete is because the link between economic, political, and social rights keeps getting broken.

When people are struggling to survive the repeated disastrous recessions that sweep away their homes, jobs, services, and labor rights, how can they question the crimes their country is committing abroad? And how can they challenge the government they have at home, and the way it’s bailing out the banks of the rich with the tax money of the poor?

America needs to put its own house in order. We need an America that doesn’t just preach democracy abroad but practices it at home. We need an America that doesn’t project moral superiority and see itself as the world’s policeman in control of other countries’ strategic resources – but an America that deals with other countries as equals.

So the challenge for our movement is not just how we can mobilize to change American policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also how we can change America. How do we do that? By laying a firm foundation on which we can build lasting structures for freedom, justice and equality.

The firmest foundation we could ever have is the one provided by the framework of human rights and international law. The problem is that very few people are familiar with these concepts, even though they’re not complex. I’m not a lawyer but because I’m passionate about human rights I’ve learned about some of the international laws dealing with the rights of women, with civil and political rights, and with economic, social and cultural rights.

The core concept that underpins human rights is very simple – human dignity. On yesterday’s plenary panel, Sara Roy said she’s been hearing that word – dignity – ever since she started working on Palestine. And you’ll hear that word used by the poor and excluded all over the world. That’s why principles of human rights are actually very easy to grasp: they’re universal values. And they’re not just a nice sounding set of principles – they’ve been translated into law and we can demand that governments apply those laws that they have signed on to.

It’s vital for any movement that wants to achieve lasting peace and justice – that doesn’t want to keep re-inventing the wheel – to invest just a little time in educating people about this international legal framework and its meaning for their lives. It doesn’t mean diluting or complicating our work – it just mean introducing a little extra education piece in our outreach. And I was very happy to see that JVP is setting out human rights goals in the TIAA-CREF campaign, eg the April campaign is about the right to education.

It’s difficult for governments to completely ignore the law forever. We’re in a strong moral position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict because we want US politicians to just apply US law. For example, when Israel uses arms the US supplies outside its borders, it’s breaking US law. And when US-based charities are funding militias that kick Palestinians off their land, that breaks the law. These are powerful arguments that, when we persevere and when we grow our numbers, we can really hit home.

Our success depends on growing our numbers, not just by allying with other activists for a just peace in the Middle East, but also by allying with groups working for justice at home – for immigrant rights, fair housing, prison reform, jobs, and the right to unionize. And by making the links between our foreign and domestic policies. Such alliances will face our political leaders with a powerful force for change.

And, speaking of alliances, I’m so happy that we’re at a place today where it’s possible to nurture and proclaim alliances between Arabs and Jews. I really wanted to come to your member meeting because I’m so motivated by the work JVP does. I grew up as a Palestinian in exile in Lebanon. I didn’t know any Jews because the creation of Israel pushed most Arab Jews out of most Arab countries.

When I went to live and work as a journalist in London, I had no desire to meet Jews – most Arabs only see Jews through the prism of what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. The fact that Israel projects itself as a Jewish state does enormous harm to the Jewish people, and that’s why I’m so glad that JVP exists to challenge that perception.

Here in the US, I got to know and work with some Jews – it’s very hard not to when you live in NY City! The Jews I first interacted with were liberal Zionists. They were very brave and there was a lot to admire, but it seemed to me that when it came to a question of Israel’s “security” vs. human rights – well, Israel trumped.

You can’t change people’s minds for them – everyone has to travel their own road. And I discovered other Jews, people who believed in justice and equality, in human rights for all human beings irrespective of who they are and where they come from. And I became close friends and a fellow human rights activist with people like Phyllis Bennis, and Josh [Ruebner] and Amie [Fishman] and soon after with Rebecca [Vilkomerson], Sydney [Levy], Cecilie [Surasky], and Lynn [Pollack] and so many others in the growing world of JVP.

As Ali Abunimah said yesterday we have a lot to thank Israel for! The sheer unremitting brutality of successive Israeli governments, the relentless greed that makes it impossible for Israel to do a deal with even the Palestinian leaders most willing to make concessions – these actions have made it impossible for a fast-growing number of people around the world, including Jews, to continue to support Israel and has pushed resistance through effective non-violent means like BDS.

What’s more, Israel is now beginning to treat Jewish human rights activists – Israeli, European, and American – with the same ferocity it previously reserved for Palestinians. This has really sharpened the divide between those who stand on the side of freedom, justice and equality and those who don’t. And it’s made it possible to strengthen strategic alliances between Arabs and Jews, and to define a different future in the Middle East where all people are equal in rights whether in one state or two.

Our role here in the US is to change US policy towards the Middle East while changing America at home. But at the same time, by nurturing our own alliances grounded in the firm foundation of human rights and international law, we can show the world that a different future is possible in Palestine/Israel.

( / 16.03.2011)

Netherlands: MP calls for public servants headscarf ban

MP Jeanine Hennis from the ruling free-market liberal party VVD is calling for a ban on wearing Muslim headscarves by public servants who work at town halls. The politician says that all religions are equal in her eyes and that the ban should include all religious symbols.

Ms Hennis made her comments during an interview with freesheet De Pers. “When do you wear the headscarf? I’d like to instigate a debate on the matter – an open discussion on the separation between church and state,” she said. The VVD MP said she’d also like universities and schools to participate in the debate but that the Christian parties stand in the way of bringing the subject into the open. “They regard it as an infringement on freedom of religion,” she added.

( / 16.03.2011)

Hoe zet je een dictator af?

Noord Afrika en het Midden-Oosten staan op hun kop. In het ene na het andere dictatoriale regime komt de bevolking in opstand. Waarom komen burgers die
jarenlang onderdrukt worden, ineens in opstand? Waar halen zij ineens wapens vandaan? Het succesrecept voor een opstand is niet te geven, zegt Luc van de Goor, hoofd van de Conflict Research Unit van Clingendael.

Waarom komen burgers in een dictatuur ineens in opstand?
“Per situatie kan het verschillen welke onderliggende redenen de massa op de been brengt. In ieder geval is het een mythe dat armoede leidt tot conflict. Als dat zo zou
zijn, zouden er heel wat meer conflicten moeten zijn. In het geval van de recente opstanden is veel gewezen op de gestegen prijzen. Door de hoge prijzen hebben
bepaalde groepen niet langer  toegang tot bepaalde goederen of diensten, terwijl
anderen dat nog wel hebben. Dit kan een reden voor verzet zijn.”

Hoe komen de opstandelingen aan wapens?
“Bepaalde wapens zijn verrassend eenvoudig verkrijgbaar, soms tegen heel lage
prijzen. Bijvoorbeeld AK47s, die erg gangbaar zijn in Afrikaanse conflicten.
Wapens verhuizen ook van conflictgebied naar conflictgebied. Zelfs als er een
verbod op levering staat, want dat gaat vaak om leveringen van nieuwe wapens,
niet om tweedehands wapens. In sommige landen zijn veel wapens voorhanden en
in handen van burgers. Grotere wapens, zoals tanks, zijn niet zo makkelijk te
krijgen, maar dan gaat het al meer in de richting van een burgeroorlog of andere vormen van strijd waarin meer of minder georganiseerde gewapende groepen
tegenover elkaar staan. Dan is er vaak ook sprake van hulp van buitenaf.”

Hoe organiseren opstandelingen zich?
“Het verschilt per situatie of er organistaties of groepen zijn die de leiding op zich
kunnen nemen en of daarbinnen individuen zijn die met gezag en enige vorm van legitimiteit de leiderschapsrol kunnen vervullen. Het voorbeeld van Egypte laat
zien dat leiderschap niet zonder meer kan worden afgedwongen door personen die
van buitenaf komen. El Baradei, een Egyptenaar die jarenlang in het buitenland gewoond en gewerkt heeft, werd niet zomaar geaccepteerd toen hij naar Egypte
terug kwam om als oppositieleider te fungeren. Soms verliest een leider zijn
autoriteit ook weer en staat er een volgende voorman op.”

Is er een ‘succesfactor’ die bepaalt of een opstand kan slagen?
“Ook deze vraag heeft helaas geen eenduidig antwoord. Waarom kan Iran de
opstanden met geweld onderdrukken, maar andere landen niet of minder? We
kunnen dat niet zomaar toeschrijven aan een dictator, zijn machtsmiddelen of grof geweld. Wat bindt verdeelde groepen om toch gezamenlijk een bepaald doel na te streven? Hoe lang blijft men verenigd? Deze vragen zijn niet eenvoudig algemeen te beantwoorden.

Duidelijk is wel dat er veel tijd nodig is voor revoluties om echt iets te wijzigen, als
men hier al echt in slaagt. Of we Egypte een succesvolle opstand kunnen noemen is
nog niet te zeggen. Mubarak is verdreven, maar het leger, dé steunpilaar voor elke regering sinds Nasser, heeft nog altijd de macht in handen. In het geval van
Indonesië hebben we kunnen zien hoe lang het heeft geduurd voordat de macht
van het leger verminderde. Dit was een moeizaam en langdurig proces.”

Op de site van de BBC vind je een overzicht van de landen in het Midden-Oosten en Noord-Afrika waar het op dit moment onrustig is. De BBC stelde ook deze onrustindex samen:
Landenoverzicht van de BCC


( / 16.03.2011)

How can you help the Bahraini people?

ISLAMIC INSIGHTS – As the people’s revolution unfolds in Bahrain, the Bahraini government has called on its despotic partners in the Middle East to crush the uprising. Yesterday, over 1000 Saudi troops and 500 Emirati [UAE] troops crossed into Bahrain to join Bahraini government forces in attacking the unarmed, peaceful protesters. Hundreds of innocent men, women, and children have been wounded or killed by government forces, and the massacre does not seem likely to subsist. As Muslims and people of conscience, it is incumbent upon us to do whatever is in our ability to raise awareness of this tragedy and help the oppressed. Below are a few suggestions:

1. Keep Appraised of What Is Happening and Inform Others

Most Western and even Middle Eastern news sources have unfortunately proven themselves to be disappointingly biased and lacking in coverage of the situation. PressTV and ABNA are routinely being updated with the reality on the ground, so follow these sources closely. As new events unfold, post them on your Facebook wall, Tweet about them, and share them on religious, community, and other relevant email lists.

2. Call the Bahraini, Saudi, and Emirates Embassies

Voice your condemnation of this brutal behavior. The Bahraini Embassy can be reached at 1-202-342-1111, the Saudi Embassy at 1-202-342-3800 and the Emirates Embassy at 1-202-243-2400. (Make sure to call during working hours.) Speak to the operator and ask for the Ambassador’s office. Be polite but firm, and speak your mind about the injustices happening in Bahrain. If need be leave a voice message.

3. Contact Your Elected Representatives

Ask Congress to condemn the massacre. You can find the contact information for your Senators and Representative at Call and ask to speak to the Congressperson’s office, and let them know that as their constituent, you expect them to condemn this behavior. Tell them that this issue is very close to your heart, and if they fail to speak up, they should not count on your vote during the next elections. Email the Congressperson’s office as well. A sample email message is as follows:

Dear Sir/Madam,


I am writing to express my strong condemnation of the current massacre being perpetrated against the Bahraini people by Bahraini, Saudi, and Emirati armed forces. As your constituent, I urge you to introduce and/or support legislation in Congress which condemns this barbaric behavior and suspends US aid to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain until Saudi Arabia and the UAE withdraw their troops from Bahrain, the Bahraini government withdraws all local and foreign troops, respects its people’s rights to peacefully assemble and protest, and allows for free and fair elections in the country.


Respectfully yours,

[Name, Address, Phone Number]

4. Organize a Public Demonstration

Inform others about the tragedy. Most Western news sources have completely ignored or underplayed the severity of the situation, and it is our obligation to inform the masses about the Bahraini people’s plight. You don’t need more than a few hours to plan a demonstration. Even a small group of five people holding signs at a busy intersection for an hour can potentially inform thousands of people about the massacre. Urge onlookers to contact their elected representatives asking them to condemn this aggression. Consider making handbills about the ongoing massacre and passing them out as well.

5. Write a Letter

Contact the Editor of your local newspaper, and express your condemnation of the brutality. Mention exact numbers and figures. If your newspaper has not given adequate coverage to the situation in Bahrain, state your disappointment and disapproval. Also, call the news bureau and ask them to include coverage of the tragedy on the front page.

6. Power of Prayer

Pray for the safety and success of the revolutionaries, and for an end to the oppressors’ folly. Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him) has a particular Supplication for the People of the Frontiers, which is very relevant to this situation. The Awaited One Foundation has also started a One Million Salawat Campaign for the safety of the protesters. Pray to God to help the oppressed in Bahrain and elsewhere in the world, and for the hastening of the reappearance of Imam Mahdi, who will truly put an end to oppression in the world and establish the Reign of Justice.

( / 16.03.2011)

OM veegt bezwaren Moszkowicz van tafel

AMSTERDAM – Het Openbaar Ministerie (OM) mag PVV-leider Geert Wilders wel degelijk vervolgen voor haatzaaien, aanzetten tot discriminatie en groepsbelediging. De officieren van justitie Birgit van Roessel en Paul Velleman veegden woensdag bij de rechtbank in Amsterdam de bezwaren van Wilders’ advocaat Bram Moszkowicz tegen de vervolging van tafel.

Anders dan de advocaat maandag betoogde, vindt het OM dat het zich heeft gehouden aan de opdracht van het gerechtshof om de politicus te vervolgen. Moszkowicz vindt dat het OM de politicus van veel meer dingen beschuldigt dan wat in de opdracht van het hof stond.

Tijdens de eerste behandeling van de zaak leidde de vervolging van Wilders tot een eis van vrijspraak op alle punten. Nu de zaak voor nieuwe rechters is gebracht, is het OM voor zover bekend niet van standpunt veranderd. (ANP)

( / 16.03.2011)

Troepen Kaddafi bombarderen Benghazi

BENGHAZI – Troepen loyaal aan de Libische leider Muammar Kaddafi hebben woensdag Benghazi, de belangrijkste stad die in handen is van het verzet, gebombardeerd. Dat meldde een woordvoerder van de opstandelingen tegen de Arabische nieuwszender al-Jazeera.

Benghazi zou vanuit vliegtuigen zijn bestookt met explosieven. De troepen van Kaddafi zouden zich in eerste instantie richten op de herovering van de luchthaven bij de in het oosten van het land gelegen stad, die ongeveer een miljoen inwoners telt. (ANP)

( / 16.03.2011)

Syriërs betogen voor vrijheid

Bashar al-Assad © epa

DAMASCUS – Tientallen Syriërs hebben dinsdag in Damascus gedemonstreerd voor vrijheid en politieke hervormingen. De politie knuppelde de betoging in de hoofdstad uit elkaar en arresteerde vier jongeren.

Demonstraties zijn uitzonderlijk in het Arabische land en sinds 1963 bij wet verboden. Sinds half februari kwam het toch tot sporadische kleine betogingen tegen ”corruptie en onrechtvaardigheid”.

Een Facebook-pagina met de naam De Syrische revolutie tegen Bashar al-Assad 2011 heeft inmiddels 42.000 aanhangers. De site had voor dinsdag opgeroepen tot betogingen tegen de president ”in alle Syrische steden”.

De autoritair regerende Assad heeft in een recent interview politieke hervormingen in het vooruitzicht gesteld. (ANP)

( / 16.03.2011)