Permanent members of the Security Council that used their veto yesterday to block a binding resolution on Syria have utterly failed in their responsibilities to protect the Syrian people, Amnesty International said today.
"It is shocking that after more than six months of horrific bloodshed on the streets and in the detention centres of Syria, the governments of both Russia and China still felt able to veto what was already a seriously watered down resolution," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.
"Those countries which ducked this decision by abstaining must also bear a heavy responsibility for allowing the brutal crackdown on legitimate dissent in Syria to continue unchecked."
"Attempt to justify this position by referring to the military intervention in Libya are utterly irresponsible. The Syrian people should not have to suffer because of political disagreements about the situation in a different country. Yesterday’s veto was nothing short of a betrayal of the Syrian people."
Nine members of the Security Council voted in favour of the draft resolution, which condemned Syria’s crackdown on protesters and left open the possibility of sanctions.
Permanent members Russia and China used their vetoes to prevent the resolution from being passed, while South Africa, India, Brazil and Lebanon abstained.
Amnesty International has continued to call on the UN Security Council to take stronger action on Syria, in particular: to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court; to impose an arms embargo on Syria; and to implement an asset freeze against President Bashar al-Assad and his senior associates.
Hundreds of Riot Police Battle the People of Shishou in China 20 June……………Hundreds of baton-wielding police on Sunday dispersed protesters and cordoned off a city hotel in central China after a young mans mysterious death sparked unrest, a local official and a witness said.
More than 200 people were injured in the clashes between police and residents outside the hotel in Hubei More..provinces Shishou city, according to a Hong Kong-based rights group, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
Hundreds had been angered by the death of 24-year old Tu Yuangao, who was found dead Wednesday evening in front of the Yonglong hotel. Tus relatives believe he was killed by the hotel boss, who is related to the mayor, the rights group said.
Hat tip to @Wikileaks for the link to the video.
Hong Kong. Hong Kong police say they have arrested more than 200 people following demonstrations over rising property prices and proposed political changes, BBC reports.
Tens of thousands had rallied on Friday and police moved in to make arrests after some of the protesters refused to leave the central business district at dawn on Saturday.
Police used pepper spray to break up the protests.
A rally is held every year on 1 July, the day in 1997 Chinese rule returned.
A fishing deal recently signed between Mauritania and a Chinese organisation is causing controversy and being widely hailed as a major disaster for the economy and people of Mauritania.
This deal grants generous and significant privileges to the Chinese partner, offered without guarantees, or avenues for negotiation, or redress for the Mauritanians. At the same time, the agreement allows China to use intensive fishing methods so destructive to marine culture they were banned in China over 30 years ago.
The term of this deal is 25 years - in other words, it grant rights to China to continuously deplete the wealth of future generation for a quarter century! In addition to fishing the open seas, the deal also impacts inshore and beach fishing, and allows the use of foreign workers, which is expected to throw thousands of local fishermen out of work. As this door of opportunity closes there are serious concerns for the prospects of the younger generation, lacking in both education and employment prospects, and increasingly faced with a choice between unemployment or a criminal lifestyle.
Surveys of the fishing grounds estimate an annual haul of between 80 and 100 thousand tons of fish, a volume that will be catastrophic for fish stocks in this region of the North Atlantic, pushing them far beyond the agreed levels for regeneration, to the brink of extinction.
PARIS -(Dow Jones)- French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe Sunday said he regrets Russia’s and China’s veto threat to a United Nations Security Council’s resolution to authorize an intervention in Syria.
France and other countries haven’t submitted any resolution on Syria to the Security Council, as they expect the action to be blocked.
“I regret the repression continues unleashed in conditions that threaten the region’s security,” Juppe said in an interview with French TV cable news channel LCI.
He said France is working with other countries in the UN’s Security Council to secure an agreement in favor of an intervention in Syria, Juppe said.
-By Inti Landauro, Dow Jones Newswires; +33 1 4017 1740; inti.landauro@ dowjones.com
Demonstrators wave the Palestinian flag as as they gather along the Syria-Israel border, the Israeli army fires teargas. Photo: AFP
A hyperconnected world has given people a voice and they want to be heard.
FROM: Ministry of State Security
TO: President Hu Jintao
SUBJECT: The Arab SpringAdvertisement: Story continues below
DEAR President Hu: You asked for our assessment of the Arab Spring. Our conclusion is that the revolutions in the Arab world contain some important lessons for the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, because what this contagion reveals is something very new about how revolutions unfold in the 21st century - and something very old about why they explode.
Let’s start with the new. Some time around the year 2000, the world achieved a very high level of connectivity, virtually flattening the global economic playing field. This web of connectivity was built on the diffusion of personal computers, fibre-optic cable, the internet and web servers. What this platform did was to make Boston and Beijing, or Detroit and Damascus, next-door neighbours. It brought some 2 billion people into a global conversation.
Well, sir, while we were focused on the US recession, we went from a connected world to a ”hyperconnected world”. It has connected Boston, Beijing and now Baotou in inner Mongolia. This deeper penetration of connectivity is built on smarter phones, wireless bandwidth and social networks. This new platform for connectivity, being so cheap and mobile, is bringing another 2 billion people into the conversation from more and more remote areas.
To put it in Middle Eastern terms, sir, this new platform has connected Detroit and Damascus and Daraa. Where is Daraa, you ask? Daraa is the small Syrian border town where the uprising in Syria began and whose residents have been pumping out video, Twitter feeds and Facebook postings of regime atrocities ever since.
The point, sir, is the world is now hyperconnected, and there is no such thing as ”local” any more. Everything now flows instantly from the most remote corners of any country on to a global platform. What the laptop plus the internet plus the search engine did for web pages was enable anyone with connectivity to find anything@ that interests them, and what the mobile phone plus the internet plus Facebook are doing is enabling anyone to find anyone@ who interests them - and co-ordinate with them and share grievances and aspirations.
The days when Arab dictators could take over the state-run TV and radio and shut off all information to their people are over. The Syrians can’t shut off their mobile phone networks now any more than they can shut off their electricity grids.
Sir, think about this: Syria has banned all foreign networks, such as CNN and the BBC, but if you go to YouTube and type in ”Daraa” you will see the most vivid up-to-date video of the Syrian regime’s crackdown - all shot with mobile phones or flip-cams by Syrians and then uploaded to YouTube or to newly created websites such as Sham News Network. Nothing stays hidden any more.
The second trend we see in the Arab Spring is a manifestation of ”Carlson’s Law”, posited by Curtis Carlson, the CEO of SRI International, in Silicon Valley, which states that: ”In a world where so many people now have access to education and cheap tools of innovation, innovation that happens from the bottom up tends to be chaotic but smart. Innovation that happens from the top down tends to be orderly but dumb.” As a result, says Carlson, the sweet spot for innovation today is ”moving down”, closer to the people, not up, because all the people together are smarter than anyone alone and all the people now have the tools to invent and collaborate.
The regime of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was just too dumb and too slow to manage the unrest. The Tahrir revolutionaries were smart but chaotic, and without leadership. Therefore, the role of leaders today - of companies and countries - is to inspire, empower, enable and then edit and meld all that innovation coming from the bottom up. But that requires more freedom for the bottom. Do you see what I mean, sir?
But this is not about technology alone. As Russian historian Leon Aron has noted, the Arab uprisings closely resemble the Russian democratic revolution of 1991 in one key respect: they were both not so much about freedom or food as about ”dignity”. They each grew out of a deep desire by people to run their own lives and to be treated as ”citizens” - with both obligations and rights that the state cannot just give and take by whim.
If you want to know what brings about revolutions, it is not GDP rising or falling, says Aron, ”it is the quest for dignity”. We always exaggerate people’s quest for GDP and undervalue their quest for ideals. ”Dignity before bread” was the slogan of the Tunisian revolution. ”The spark that lights the fuse is always the quest for dignity,” said Aron. ”Today’s technology just makes the fire much more difficult to put out.”
We need to keep that in mind in China, sir. We should be proud of the rising standard of living that we have delivered for our people. Many of them appreciate that. But it is not the only thing in their lives - and at some point it won’t be the most important thing. Do you see what I mean, sir?
Thomas Friedman is a New York Times columnist.
UPDATE (20/5/2011) : Friday of freedom, Protests in Qamishli, Hama, Swydaa, Idelb, Hassakeh, Der Azzur, Amouda, Jableh, Maart Noman, Damascus, Bukamal. Whilst Daraa, Inkhel, Jasem, Harra, are under siege.
The world faces a watershed moment in human rights with tyrants and despots coming under increasing pressure from the internet, social networking sites and the activities of WikiLeaks, Amnesty International says in its annual roundup.
The rights group singles out WikiLeaks and the newspapers that pored over its previously confidential government files, among them the Guardian, as a catalyst in a series of uprisings against repressive regimes, notably the overthrow of Tunisia’s long-serving president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
"The year 2010 may well be remembered as a watershed year when activists and journalists used new technology to speak truth to power and, in so doing, pushed for greater respect for human rights," Amnesty’s secretary general, Salil Shetty, says in an introduction to the document. "It is also the year when repressive governments faced the real possibility that their days were numbered."
But, Shetty adds, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, and elsewhere, remains unpredictable: “There is a serious fightback from the forces of repression. The international community must seize the opportunity for change and ensure that 2011 is not a false dawn for human rights.”
The 432-page report reviews 156 countries and territories, of which at least 89 were found to restrict free speech, 98 carried out torture or other ill-treatment and 48 had documented prisoners of conscience.
The report covers only to the end of 2010, and thus only the very beginnings of the so-called Arab spring – Ben Ali was not deposed until mid-January. However, subsequent uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, many spread via mobile phones and social networking, reinforce Amnesty’s message about the importance of technology and communication.
A key element had been the work of WikiLeaks in first publishing information about the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then a massive trove of US diplomatic papers, disclosures carried out with newspapers worldwide.
"It took old-fashioned newspaper reporters and political analysts to trawl through the raw data, analyse it, and identify evidence of crimes and violations contained in those documents," Shetty said.
"Leveraging this information, political activists used other new communications tools now easily available on mobile phones and on social networking sites to bring people to the streets to demand accountability."
One example highlighted by Shetty was Tunisia, where WikiLeaks revelations about Ben Ali’s corrupt regime combined with rapidly-spreading news of the self-immolation of a disillusioned young man, Mohamed Bouazizi, to spark major protests.
The report also highlights the importance of new technology elsewhere, for example China, where “My father is Li Gang” – the cry of a senior policeman’s son after he killed a young woman while drunk driving – became a euphemism on China’s tightly controlled internet space for rife nepotism. Similarly, “empty chair” took the place of Liu Xiaobo’s name on Chinese web forums after such a chair took the place of the jailed rights activist at the Nobel peace prize ceremony.
Shetty said: “Not since the end of the Cold War have so many repressive governments faced such a challenge to their stranglehold on power. The demand for political and economic rights spreading across the Middle East and North Africa is dramatic proof that all rights are equally important and a universal demand.
"In the 50 years since Amnesty International was born to protect the rights of people detained for their peaceful opinions, there has been a human rights revolution. The call for justice, freedom and dignity has evolved into a global demand that grows stronger every day. The genie is out of the bottle and the forces of repression cannot put it back.”
I’ve translated the home page into English using the gTranslator extention for Firefox (which I recommend) for us English speakers who don’t know Chinese, and taken a screenshot of it so people can see what the website is about. I hope it is useful.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, disappeared by the authorities on April 3, is reported to have confessed to charges of tax evasion after being tortured in custody, according to an article published in a Chinese human rights journal.
The details of the case, said to have been leaked by “an official with conscience in the Ministry of Public Security,” were published on April 21 EST in a text titled “The Alarming Conspiracy Behind Ai Weiwei’s Torture and Confession,” dated April 19, in the biweekly journal of the NGO Human Rights in China (HRIC). The article claims to be written by an anonymous Xinhua journalist and was in the “Letters from China” section.
The text says that Fu Zhenghua, Director of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, instructed Ai’s captors to show him the video of the torture of Gao Zhisheng, a human rights lawyer who was targeted by the authorities after writing letters in protest of the persecution of Falun Gong.
The video showing Gao being tortured, “included electric batons being inserted into Gao’s anus, and his blood, semen, feces, and urine draining out,” a translation of the first paragraph of the article says.
Fu Zhenghua ordered that security forces do the same things to Ai Weiwei, to “make him do what we want him to do.” The text says that, after being tortured for several days, Ai signed a confession.
Ai’s case is being handled by the Economic Investigation General Unit and the Domestic Security Team of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, the article says.
He Qinglian, a commentator on Chinese social and political issues, believes the reports of torture are credible. “I had thought about that when he was first detained,” she told Radio Free Asia in an interview. “You have to realize that he is the only one who dares to mock the authoritarian regime.”When Ai’s older sister Gao Ge saw the news, RFA reports, she said “I cannot let my mother see.”
She had no way of knowing the truth of the report, she said; they are going to ask the authorities to clarify the matter.
The journal’s editorial policy says that they welcome submissions from a wide variety of sources. HRIC did not comment to The Epoch Times on whether they believe the article by the alleged Xinhua reporter to be credible or not.
Here is a news roundup for Libya, Bahrain, China, Ivory Coast, Yemen and other countries for Monday, March 7.
[Previously: March 5-6]
Libya - The People:
- Fighters In Libya’s West Mostly Cut Off From Outside | NPR
- More than one million people fleeing Libya and inside the country need humanitarian aid, UN says. | Reuters
- Rebels flee Ras Lanuf after advance by Gaddafi troops | Telegraph
- Libya rebels beg for no-fly as bombings persist | CBS News
- Premature to arm Libya rebels, says White House | AFP
- How Food Could Determine Libya’s Future | The Atlantic
- Rebel leadership wants future British assistance ‘in a legal way’ | Telegraph
- VIDEO: Rebels defiant despite the odds | Sky News
- VIDEO: Man With Live RPG In Leg Libya | LiveLeak (h/t motherjones)
- VIDEO: Rebels moving toward capital | AP
Libya - The Regime:
- Civil war in Libya if Gaddafi quits, son tells TV | Reuters
- @Reuters: Al Jazeera says Gaddafi offers rebels to hold people’s congress to let him step down with guarantees (h/t soupsoup)
- Against Libya’s rebels, Gadhafi controls the skies | AP
- Libya Rebels Reject Potential Gaddafi Offer To Step Down: Reports | Reuters
- Gadhafi Forces Strike Coastal Town | WSJ
- Gaddafi’s jets slow rebel advance on Sirte | Guardian
- Two more UK universities linked to Libya regime | Guardian
- VIDEO: Gadhafi forces push back | GlobalPost
- Interview: ‘I Lobbied For Libya’ - Understanding Libya’s Michael Corleone | Foreign Policy
Libya - The International Response:
- UN calls for $160 mn to help Libya conflict victims | AFP
- UN appoints envoy and agrees humanitarian visit | BBC
- U.S. Seeks Consensus On Libya At U.N. | NPR
- NATO launches 24-hr AWACS surveillance of Libya | Al Arabiya
- NATO has ‘no intention’ of intervening in Libya, says NATO Sec. General Rasmussen | VOA News
- Libya capture a ‘misunderstanding’, says Hague | The Independent
- William Hague says more diplomats may go to Libya | BBC
- Britain and France at centre of no-fly zone support | Telegraph
- In the months before Libyans revolted and President Barack Obama told leader Moammar Gadhafi to go, the U.S. government was moving to do business with his regime on an increasing scale by quietly approving a $77 million dollar deal to deliver at least 50 refurbished armored troop carriers to the dictator’s military | AP
- Obama: Military Force an Option in Libya | National Journal
- Obama Warns Gaddafi Loyalists | Washington Post
- New Warnings From Obama as Qaddafi Forces Attack Again | NY Times
- Robert Gates, David Petraeus make Libya joke | POLITICO
- Germany advocates tougher Libya sanctions amid escalating violence | Deutche Welle
- Cloud of uncertainty hangs over Canadian business deals with Libya | Globe and Mail
- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seeks an end to Libya violence | Arab News
- International Support For Gadhafi Led By Venezuela | NPR
- In Venezuela, Chavez tries to boost Gaddafi | Washington Post
- Morgan Stanley, Exxon, ConocoPhilips Cease Oil Trading With Libya | Corruption Currents - WSJ
- Opec to lift output as oil crisis deepens | Telegraph
- Comment: Obama is being driven towards Libya | Guardian
- Bahrain to spend $5.32 billion on homes in face of protests | AFP
- Bahrain’s Promised Spending Fails to Quell Dissent | NY Times
- Bahrain protests reach US embassy | AJE
- Bahrain Protesters Defy Police | WSJ
- Bahrain prince warns against protest escalation | Reuters
- Ai Wei Wei: ‘growing force behind Jasmine Revolution very strong’ | Telegraph
- China FM says no tension despite protest campaign | AFP
- Amid fears of unrest, China imposes new restrictions on foreign journalists | Washington Post
- China denies police beating of foreign reporters | Guardian
- Beijing tightens controls over foreign media | AP
- Don’t Dismiss a Jasmine Moment in China | The Atlantic
- Comment: China - A democracy is built | Financial Times
- Ivory Coast rebels seize town from Gbagbo and cause refugee panic | Guardian
- Ivorian rebels take western town as violence mounts | Reuters
- ZANU PF denies sending arms to Ivory Coast | SW Radio News
- ICC ready to move fast on Ivory Coast | Radio Netherlands
- VIDEO: Video Of Ivory Coast Gun Attack Emerges | Sky News
- Yemen opposition vows “escalation” against president | Reuters
- Yemeni president calls for dialogue amid protests | Washington Post
- Riot erupts in Yemeni prison | AJE
- Journalists in Yemen Say They Are Being Attacked | NY Times
- A night at the Sana’a Sit-in | Tom Finn
- Yemen’s road to economic turmoil | Gulf News
- Comment: Yemen’s president plays the trusted al-Qaida card | Guardian
- Editorial: Strengthening Our Borders With Cote d’Ivoire Is A Must | AllAfrica
Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Zimbabwe:
- Algerian President Has No Plans To Leave Early, says Foreign Affairs Minister | Dow Jones Newswires
- Disgruntled police stage protest rally in Algeria | Reuters
- Communal guards in Algeria hold unauthorized protest accusing parliament of ingratitude | AP
- Egypt faces new turmoil: Looted state security files | McClatchy
- Egyptian Army’s Business Side Blurs Lines of U.S. Military Aid | NY Times
- What’s happening in Iran explained | Mother Jones
- Tehran residents speak up about protests and opposition movement | LA Times
- Plea to UN for Help in Freeing Green Chiefs; Geneva Sit-In Planned | PBS (h/t seaofgreen)
- Iraq Shuts Office of Protest Organizers | NY Times (h/t shortformblog)
- US embassy in Iraq condemns attacks on journalists, calls for investigation | Canadian Press
- Iraq’s Revolt: Is Maliki Mubarak? | The Nation
- Jordan’s pro-reform camp demands premier step down | AP
- Jordan media protest state meddling, urge freedom | Reuters
- VIDEO: Jordan: People’s call for reform | France24
- Kenya Anti Corruption Commission director: Corruption could spark protests similar to Tunisia and Egypt | Reuters Trust Law (h/t rubenfeld)
- Oman’s Sultan Shuffles Cabinet for Third Time | VOA News
- Oman Removes Powerful Economy Minister | WSJ
- Op-Ed - Najma Al Zidjaly: From Oman, With Love | NY Times
- In Saudi Arabia, activists push more boldly for reform | Washington Post
- Tunisia unveils political roadmap, new cabinet | Magharebia
- Tunisia dissolves its state security division | CNN
- Most ‘Egypt video’ Zimbabweans freed | BBC
- 6 activists to face treason charges in Zimbabwe | CNN
Other good reads:
- Blood and oil: The practical business of trading with despots | National Post
- Good-bye despotism | Al Arabiya
- Amid revolution, Arab cartoonists draw attention to their cause | Washington Post
- Robert Fisk: A new path after Arab revolt, but please don’t change its name | Belfast Telegraph
- From the archives: A Nuclear Standoff With Libya | The Atlantic
- AJE INTERACTIVE: Twitter Dashboard - tracking tweets in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya and Yemen
- PHOTO: Gigapan of Tahrir Square